Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
'Karen and Jay share thoughts on the power of enthusiasm and their excitement for this great New Year.’
2023 is destined to be known as ‘The Year of Enthusiasm.’ There is a certain excitement in the air. A feeling of positive energy. And, yes, truly a sense of enthusiasm. We enter each new year with the belief that we can start the world anew. And this year – after the various challenges of the past few years – just take a look at the people around you. You’ll see an eagerness, a positivity, and a sense of hopeful anticipation as we approach this fresh new year!
There is an old saying, one that’s been adapted or modified quite a bit over time, but which I believe very much encapsulates the year ahead: nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm. The last three years have been confusing, uncertain, and sometimes downright frustrating as we’ve dealt with the unpredictability of the pandemic. When we came into the new year and new decade in 2020, few of us could have imagined how drastically the world was about to change. Yet as we enter this new year of 2023, we do so having braved and persevered through the challenges of these past few years, and because of that we can look ahead to this next year with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm that perhaps the worst is behind us, enthusiasm for new opportunities, enthusiasm for things we may have even left behind and for growth. Whatever it may be, approaching each day with enthusiasm can be your greatest asset.
Generally, when we find ourselves in environments where excitement, good energy, and enthusiasm regularly exist, it multiplies exponentially and helps lead to a desired result. Or, when we choose to approach a task, an opportunity, or even a challenge with enthusiasm rather than say negativity, the outcome tends to be to our benefit. As the author Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Combine enthusiasm with faith and initiative, and you can move mountains and achieve results unheard of.”
Truthfully though, sometimes finding enthusiasm isn’t all that easy. Life tends to throw challenges our way that at times can lead us to feel anything but enthusiasm for where we are in the present moment. Ultimately, the choice is ours. Whether you’re unhappy with your job, or unsure of where a new project is going, whatever the case may be, by choosing to approach the moment with enthusiasm and putting our best foot forward, we can finish the day knowing we did our best. The more we choose to face the day with an enthusiastic ‘no one is going to get me down’ attitude, the more we realize that our happiness is ours to determine, no one else's. This creates not only less stress, which itself has enormous benefits to our health and likely our day to day, but also more opportunity for us to grow, both personally and professionally.
Back in the early 1900’s, a minor league baseball player named Frank Bettger had been cut from his team because his manager felt he lacked enthusiasm for the game. Frustrated at first, Frank decided to really take his manager's decision and the reasons for it to heart. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Frank focused not necessarily on his game, but the reasons why he loved baseball to begin with. He was determined to face each pitch, each inning, each game with the same enthusiasm he had when he began playing in the Little Leagues. Sure enough, his game improved and he made it back into the minors, eventually landing a big contract and making his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. And while his career would be cut short due to an arm injury, Frank would go on to be a best-selling author, offering up some straightforward advice. “Act enthusiastic, and you’ll become enthusiastic about everything you do.”
As we transition into 2023, we’ve been given an opportunity to start anew once again. After the turmoil of the last few years, it does feel like a year where we can truly look ahead and say, ‘nothing can stop me now.’ When we choose to face each day with this kind of enthusiasm, I can assure you by year's end, you’ll be happy with the result. Perhaps even ecstatic!
The Sunshine Initiative – Worthy Mission, Exciting Future!
As readers of The Sunshine Report, you may well be familiar with The Sunshine Initiative. However, to recap and to share the founding concept with those who may not be familiar, the central purpose of The Sunshine Initiative is the revitalization of our wonderful small towns and communities. To create the spark that will bring renewed life, excitement and opportunity to communities that have experienced challenging economic times – as mills have closed, manufacturing has moved offshore and those wonderful ‘Norman Rockwell Main Streets’ have been hollowed out.
We started this effort in my hometown of Newport several years ago. Building upon our success and lessons learned in Newport, we then expanded to three additional communities in New Hampshire last year – Laconia, Rochester, and the West Side of Manchester. And we’re just getting started. Given that our small towns truly form the backbone of our great nation, we are on a critical and worthy mission. Our ultimate goal is to expand the efforts of The Sunshine Initiative to include more than 1,000 towns and communities across our country and in so doing transform the future for the next generation of Americans.
As I reflect back on 2022, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of all the good that has been accomplished and yet also realize it was a year of preparation for the Sunshine Initiative. The team was powered up with some new additions that came together very well. We realized that communities really become ‘communities’ when there is a shared knowledge of ‘what’s going on’ and ‘who’s doing what.’ With this in mind, we acquired the local newspaper, the Eagle Times, and founded a digital news service, the Newport Times Online. And while we've continued our original work with Newport, our efforts in Laconia, Rochester, Manchester and most recently, Meredith, have taken root and will continue to grow in 2023. Plus, relationships with the MIT Media Lab, Harvard Business School and Howard Brodsky/CCA Global will provide the data and technology to power up and scale our efforts in New Hampshire, across the United States and perhaps one day, even beyond!
Very importantly, we've made numerous connections with like-minded people who believe in community and that we can all aspire to a brighter future especially in communities where time has seemingly passed them by. Adam Hirshan of the Laconia Daily Sun along with Carol Robidoux of the Manchester Ink Link are passionate about solutions journalism and addressing the issues with which communities are struggling. Our good friend Tim Everett of the Lakeport Opera House provided a beautiful venue for an extremely successful Rat Pack event which we sponsored. The purpose of the event was to galvanize support for the Great New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, boost the economy in Laconia and the Lakes Region, and support Karmen Gifford and the Chamber of Commerce. It wa a huge success! Meanwhile we've also been making major stride in Rochester, working with Mayor Paul Callaghan, David Walker and the Rochester Riverwalk Committee to bring to life a riverwalk that will form the basis for an exciting revitalization in that great city.
With all this under our belt, we are very enthused that 2023 is the year the Sunshine Initiative will blossom even further. We are focusing on a few key areas, not the least of which is further developing an entrepreneurial excitement and enthusiasm in the communities that we impact! With our initial success and momentum, we feel that our story is one that will resonate with organizations and individuals who are interested in seeing the revitalization of our towns and urban areas. For all those who know that a strong America, starts with strong families and strong communities.
If you have a desire to do good and want to help your community, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you and see how we can work together on creating a new vision and hope for your community! Please visit us at: www.sunshineinitiative.org
Small Town Turnaround - and So It Begins!
When writing my book, ‘American Sunshine: Rays of Hope and Opportunity,’ one of the main principles woven throughout is that small towns are the glue which holds our nation together. Growing up in one, I wanted to share the positivity and power that the spirit of community in a small town brings. My wife, Karen, and I founded the Sunshine Initiative with the mission of revitalizing America, one small town at a time.
Based on the positivity and overwhelming support for the Sunshine Initiative, a new 501.C.3, non-profit organization emerged...Small Town Turnaround, created by myself and my good friends Ben Doskocil and Jon Morton. Small Town Turnaround provides a non-profit vehicle to generate enthusiasm, activate volunteers and generate an amazingly positive impact in small towns and communities – inspiring people to achieve their full potential.
I’m so gratefjul to be joined by Ben and Jon in this effort. Ben brings an extensive legal background, starting with his time in the US Navy along with a deep compassion for people while bringing sunshine everywhere he goes. Jon has a diverse financial background and a track record of success in both supporting already successful non-profits and helping grow new ones.
Small Town Turnaround focuses on bringing the movers and shakers together to bring forth projects and initiatives that need an extra hand in order to get off the ground. Every person has something to offer a community; a skill, an idea, or resources, and sometimes just simply needs a little help to bring these into action. The first two major goals of Small Town Turnaround are building a network of 1,000 volunteers throughout the state and raising at least $50,000 in order to kick-start the first Small Town Turnaround projects.
How are we planning to achieve these lofty goals? For the volunteers, through several partnerships with other nonprofits, including an amazing program created by Jack Potvin called Project Happy, and through our own individual networks.
After careful consideration and discussions with community leaders, the first three towns the Small Town Turnaround will be working with in New Hampshire are Boscawen, Claremont, and Milford.
We are so excited to kicking off this new effort, and if you want to be a part of this, please visit our website at smalltownturnaround.com
First Place in the Nation – Manchester, NH – Dairy Queen!
This week we are delighted to highlight a truly inspirational and entrepreneurial family – the Dion’s. David and Kevin Dion and their great family – owners and operators of New Hampshire Dairy Queens. And the best news of all – this New Hampshire family business just won a national title as you’ll see below.
Who doesn't love ice cream? Especially a fantastic Dairy Queen soft serve twist or Blizzard? For over 40 years, Dave Dion and his family have been providing this novelty to people across New Hampshire and most recently their location on the West Side of Manchester became the topping of them all.
David Dion’s connection with Dairy Queen began in the early 70’s when he ran the local Nashua store. Within a few short years he was running not only that location but also a new location in Hudson, New Hampshire. Eventually he would assume ownership of those locations as well as construct the Queen City’s Dairy Queen in 1979. Over the years Dave and his family including his son Kevin have continued their commitment to providing one of America’s most popular ice cream franchises to people in the Granite State. Today, they have locations across Southern New Hampshire and are truly making themselves known. And in doing so, they have had to overcome a pandemic, a recession, and years of changes both to diets and the West Side.
The Dion family participates in the annual Miracle Treat Day. This Dairy Queen national initiative has raised millions of dollars for local children’s hospitals across the country. I truly commend them for their yearly charitable participation and all the other amazing things they do to support the community, but what I'm about to share with you next is truly an inspiration.
There are over 4,500 Dairy Queen locations in the United States and close to 7,000 worldwide. On New Year’s Eve, the Dion’s along with support from customers including friends of the Sunshine Report and our own Governor Chris Sununu helped the 2nd Street Dairy Queen in Manchester, New Hampshire become the #1 store in America. This single store in a state with just over a million people beat out stores in major metros, in states like Georgia, Texas and beyond. Lines at both the counter and the drive-through were packed with people committed to seeing the Dion’s succeed. Just as the Dion’s have supported the community over the years, the community supported the Dion’s.
Now I would be remiss if I didn't highlight a personal memory of this particular Dairy Queen. I remember loading up our kids and dog, Sparky, into the car and heading down Boynton Street to avoid the traffic in order to come up the back way to access the 2nd Street Dairy Queen. We would all get our favorite Dairy Queen treats and on certain nights we would park on the side of the road so we could check out all the cool classic cars that would fill up the Dairy Queen Parking lot. 50’s music would be blaring on the speaker, and it truly remains one of my fondest memories. The Dion’s created this awesome local event and generations later cars of all kinds can still be spotted in the parking lot with people still checking them out.
Dave and Kevin Dion are great examples of how hard work and determination pays off! They charted a path for opportunity and stayed the course. And even though the contest is over for this year, we still encourage you to stop by and pay them a visit, and of course order one of their famous ice creams! Congratulations and a heartfelt thanks to the Dion’s for all that they do!
Quotes of the Week: Enthusiasm
“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”
“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
“If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.”
Norman Vincent Peale
“Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. Its potential value far surpasses money and power and influence. Single-handed, the enthusiast convinces and dominates where the wealth accumulated by a small army of workers would scarcely raise a tremor of interest. Enthusiasm tramples over prejudice and opposition, spurns inaction, storms the citadel of its object and, like an avalanche, overwhelms and engulfs all obstacles.”