Episode 16: "Matzoh Man" Pinny Gniwisch, Founder of ICE.com

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Meet Pinny Gniwisch, online diamond and jewelry retailer who has cracked the code on digital marketing. A Shop.org board member, frequent speaker and expert in customer retention, Pinny saddled up in '99 for a roller coaster ride through retail hell from the bubble to the bomb. A true believer in the power of the Internet, he bought his company back from the VC's for $1 - and went on to build a top 200 retail site. Susan and Pinny talk about "Universal Truths" that are particularly relevant in today's business community. Hear Pinny prioritize Leading by Example, Commitment, Being Ego-less, Transparency, Letting Go of Our Authoritive Nature and Committing Your Full Presence. He leaves listeners with a tip for evoking your native creativity. Life lessons from Rabbi Pinny. It's a gem of a show and he's a gem of a man.

Transcript

"Matzoh Man" Pinny Gniwisch, Founder of ICE.com

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com.

[Music]

Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I'm your host, Susan Bratton. And on today's show you're gonna meet somebody that I have really enjoyed getting to know myself in preparation for you today. His name is Pinny Gniwisch. And Pinny is a founder of a really neat and fun website called ice.com. He has distinguished himself as one of the top 200 online retailers and he is really an expert in all things online marketing, from search and e-mail to persona marketing, to managing fraud and site design to blogs, and, what Pinny would probably say is most important, which customer attention.

So, we're gonna get to talk to him a little bit about how he founded and turned ice.com into one of the top 200 online retailers which landed him a board seat on the shop.org advisory board. We're also gonna learn the alter ego side of Pinny, which is rabbi Pinny. And we're gonna find out about how this man runs such a successful multi-multi-million-dollar company, while simultaneously producing a Broadway play, and a children's movie, and writing a book about #love. He is also a chaplain for the Boy Scouts of America and does an amazing amount of philanthropic work.

On today's show some of the things we're hoping to cover are: Pinny's universal truths, rollerblading, yoga, if there is #economy of scale in the chat… in the category of children, a little bit about Beyonce, whether chicken soup can serve as bribe material, what it's like to be a rabbi in far-flung communities, how to tap our native creativity. Of course we're gonna talk about diamonds and jewelry, jewelry, jewelry because whether you're gonna buy it for yourself, or you're gonna buy it for your lover, you need to know the inside scoop on that. I hope we'll get into what Jewish Law is. We'll talk a little about Montreal, and maybe we'll get to mastering patience and selling tactics for long lead deal, something Pinny knows a lot about.

[start of show's highlights]
Pinny Gniwisch: …One day we were sitting around and someone opens up a Sotheby's catalog and there was a huge, you know, piece of jewelry for like 1.6 million and one of the women goes: "Wow! Check out that ice!" Now, we said: "we've got to get that url."

I think all great stories have a dark period. Where the hero of the story needs to find himself, you know, that's every great Hollywood movie stars out that way and ends out, you know, where he finds himself and be successful at the end. So, I think, we're hopefully writing a great Hollywood story.

... #Tennis bracelets. We sell tons and tons of tennis bracelets and they are very affordable. They're not expensive, and they're diamonds, and you're always gonna get off the couch with tennis bracelets.

I have countless stories where parents come up to me and say: "You know, we cherish the show because every year, you know, we're not so religious but when Rosh Hashanah comes, when the New Year comes, we take it down from the shelf and we blow it, because… And our kid is so excited about the holiday now, and it's only because he made his own #shofar. And I do this… I do 10 programs like this through the year, then inspire the kids because they were personally involved.

Well, the most important one that I follow, I'm trying to follow that I battle with every day is commitment. And Today kids, unfortunately, are not hot enough about being committed to just anything.
[end of show's highlights]

Susan Bratton: Please, welcome to DishyMix, Pinny Gniwisch.

Pinny Gniwisch: Hello!

Susan Bratton: Hey, Pinny, How are you?

Pinny Gniwisch: I'm great, How are you?

Susan Bratton: Very well, so, you're in your home office in Montreal?

Pinny Gniwisch: I am.

Susan Bratton: Excellent, so let us just hear a little bit about ice.com for those people who haven't ever been to your site, just tell us a little bit about the business that you're in.

Pinny Gniwisch: We're in the business of empowering women to appreciate themselves.

Susan Bratton: Nice! I like that! [laughs]

Pinny Gniwisch: That's what we're doing. So, instead of going out there and buying yourself a tub of ice cream when you're down, or when you're not feeling appreciated, go out there and buy yourself a piece of jewelry. And we've made it so affordable that it's a no-brainer. So, if you have an outfit, you want to accessorize, just go out there and buy yourself a nice pair of earrings, and, you know, you're feeling better already.

Susan Bratton: You know, I was on ice.com really checking out a lot of the product, and I'm typically kind of fussy about my jewelry, don't see a lot of things I liked, but I was really impressed. I really like to pride myself on being kind of an up-to-date person with regard to the clothes and jewelry I wear, and I was really impressed with how modern, and clean, and attractive designs are. Who does that work for you?

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, thank God for the person who brought me into this world, my beautiful mother… is a great jewelry designer, and she has an eye for pieces that are just going to fly off the shelves. And she started her business... I'm the youngest of six children… and she started her business right after I left home to go to school about 40 or 35 years ago. And she decided in the basement of our house to start a jewelry business. She started selling pearls and it grew, it grew, it grew. And today she's one of the largest jewelry manufacturers in Canada. So, when we saw this, you know, her success, we were so excited about what was going on on the net, we decided, you know: "We're gonna take her stuff and we're gonna try to sell it to the consumers directly." And seven years later we have a great company, thank God.

Susan Bratton: You started ice.com in 1999. How did you… What was it that made you pick "ice"? How did you get the url? Was it easy at the time? Do you still feel like that's a major coup?

Pinny Gniwisch: It is, definitely, a major. We were actually… We got an investment from the company called "Ideal Lab", which is an incubator in Pasadena, California. They had some great successes: etoys, carsdirect, overture {.com}. So they were pretty big company and they were our first investment, but at the time they were a little bit cocky, like many people in the web sphere at that time, you know, the whole thing ballooned into something crazy. And it was all about eyeballs, url didn't mean anything. So, they won when we were sitting around and someone opens up a Sotheby's catalog and there was a huge, you know, piece of jewelry for like 1.6 million and one of the women goes: "Wow! Check out that ice!" Now, we said: "we've got to get that url."

So we went out there and we bought it, and at the time it seemed like a lot of money, but you know, you think about everywhere you go and everybody's like: "Oh! You've got ice.com! That's such a cool name!" And if you advertise that, at times people said: "How cool is it!", you know, it's pennies how much we paid for it.

Susan Bratton: So, what did you pay for it?

Pinny Gniwisch: We've paid about $800,000 for it.

Susan Bratton: Not bad! OK, and how long since… from when you've started the company. How long did it take you to break even and pay back your investors?

Pinny Gniwisch: Oh, well. We went through, you know, the bubble, and we had some money, and then we went into debt, and we bought back the company from our investors. Because their vision was to close us down.

Susan Bratton: A-ha. Now, they wish they hadn't?

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes. So, we've bought ourselves back for a dollar, we moved back to Canada, and we restarted our business.

Susan Bratton: Really? What year was that?

Pinny Gniwisch: This was 2000. So, we went flying… It was like a roller coaster, but, you know how on roller coasters you have… they go up slowly… And we went very fast, and then we went down very fast.

Susan Bratton: Even faster, right? [laughs]

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes, even faster. So, then we had to go up again and we were continuously going up and growing over 40% year over year.

Susan Bratton: Well I met you through AdTech. You've been a speaker at AdTech on all these various different things that you've learned over time running ice.com and marketing the product. And, I guess, I was always under the impression that you are wildly successful through the whole thing. I didn't realize that you bought your business back, and all those kinds of things. So, I actually really like hearing that story and I gained a lot more appreciation for you, because I thought: "He had ice.com, he had those great ideas. It was all easy!" [laughs] And, apparently, not.

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes, apparently not. I think all great stories have a dark period. You know, where the hero of the story needs to find himself, you know, that's every great Hollywood movie stars out that way and ends out, you know, where he finds himself and he's successful at the end. So, I think, we're hopefully writing a great Hollywood story.

Susan Bratton: Well, I think, you have been professionally successful, and you've found yourself, and you're running a really good enterprise now. And I want to also talk to you about some of the things you're doing in your own personal life to find yourself and what's important.

But before we do that, I want to keep on the jewelry thread for just a second. Because we have a jewelry expert on the show and holidays are coming, whether you are a woman listening to the show and you're thinking: "You know what? Bratton likes that stuff too. I'm gonna check out ice.com and see the beautiful." I like the earrings, I like some of the more modern jewelry that you're creating. Am I gonna buy a diamond for myself? Probably, not, that's my husband's job, right? But, I love some of the beautiful jewelry with the gemstones that you create. Then there are my listeners who are men, and they are thinking: "I have to get my lover, my wife, my #SO something beautiful for the holidays." What are Pinny's picks?

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, stars, stars are big thing now. Stars and star pendants, beautiful star pendants. We have diamond star pendants, they're gonna definitely fly off the shelves. If you want to be safe in initial pendant, diamond pendant is always great, because you can't go wrong with that. It's perfect, you get the person's name, it's personal, you thought about them, it wasn't just a purchase, and you can't go wrong.

You know, men… big problem that men have with buying jewelry, especially that they can't feel it, is, you know, "will she like it?" And rejection a lot of times is so painful that you associate the pain with the item you're buying, because you weren't successful. And if you're doing it online people are going to be very careful about that. So, if you want to stay safe, stay the diamonds stuff, you want to stay eternity bands, you want to… tennis bracelets. We sell tons and tons of tennis bracelets and they are very affordable. They're not expensive, and they're diamonds, and you're always gonna get off the couch with a tennis bracelet.

Susan Bratton: Nice. Go ahead, anything else?

Pinny Gniwisch: And then we have some great designers. You know, if a woman wants to buy for a friend a piece of jewelry - there is nothing wrong with that. And, you know, we've just launched Andrea Barnes, her collection on our site, and it's just beautiful modern stuff. She is featured in "In Style" magazine all the time. We are launching designers… you know, some beautiful, beautiful stuff. And there is nothing wrong with buying yourself a nice Christmas gift. You know, you're going out there, you're working hard, you're preparing all food, you're packing all the packages, your kids are running around, you're doing all the work. You can go on one night, after a long day's work, just buy yourself at present, because you deserve it.

Susan Bratton: I really like that Andrea Barnes stuff. I wasn't familiar with her. I don't read "In Style". So, I hadn't seen that before but I could definitely… the price points that you are able to sell for so low for the quality of the product. Is it because it's Canadian?

Pinny Gniwisch: No. It's because we took out one piece of the puzzle and that's the beauty of where we are at. We are buying directly from the manufacturer. In other words, we are taking out all the middle people that normally, you know, there's no salespeople, no other commissions. We're giving discount to the consumer. We are passing on all those savings. That's the beauty of buying directly from the manufacturer.

Susan Bratton: Got it! Because you use the manufacturer. That's what makes sense, OK. So, you've created a special code for me, for my listeners. It's "dishy" (DISHY). And if anybody goes to ice.com and they want to purchase something, just because Pinny came on the show, he is giving you a 20% discount on any jewelry. So, any jewelry that you buy, it doesn't include diamonds, because Pinny has to sell those at a very, very reasonable price, but nonetheless, you should support someone in our business if you need to buy diamonds. But for jewelry - 20% off, just use "dishy", the code "dishy" on check out. So, thanks for that Pinny, and I really appreciate that!

Pinny Gniwisch: My pleasure, anything!

Susan Bratton: That's the best discount you give, right? That's the top one? So, thank you for that. All right, so, we're gonna go to break early because I want to come back and really get get into, what I think is, the essence of you and your personal quest. I want to talk to you more about your universal truths and some of the work that you're doing. So, let's take a short break to thank our sponsors and we'll be right back.

[announcement]

Susan Bratton: We're back. I'm your host, Susan Bratton. And you're listening to DishyMix. And we are talking to Pinny Gniwisch. Pinny is the founder of ice.com, but he is a lot more than that. Before you got into your jewelry business, your family business, Pinny, you started out in rabbinical school, you even graduated with a Masters in Jewish law from the University of Sydney. So, you went all the way around the world to learn Jewish law. I don't really understand what that means. So, tell us a little bit about that.

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, in the Bible, in the Tora there are 613 commandments and they're very detailed and complicated. And in rabbinical school you study all those laws and you master them, hopefully, you get tested on it and it's similar to going into law school, the same concept. And, once you master it, and you pass all the tests, they say: "OK, you are rabbi."

Susan Bratton: So, you mean Jews have 603 more commandments than Christians?

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes. But a lot of them are not applicable today.

Susan Bratton: Give me an example of one that's lost its usefulness.

Pinny Gniwisch: OK. Well, there are many laws associated with the temple that was built in Jerusalem, like different sacrifices they brought, different laws for the priests, different things than they did in the temple. So, that is not applicable today, because the temple does not exist. So, most of those laws are gone. And then there are laws that are connected to holidays that we can't do today based on the fact that there is no temple. So, there are many, many laws that are connected to those things but laws that are applicable today, that are extra to the 10 Commandments that are universal, are laws about, you know, charity, different kinds of charity. There are laws about the Sabbath, resting on the seventh day, tons of laws connected to that. There are laws on what kind of food you're allowed to eat, kosher food. So, in kosher there are tons and tons of laws. So, when you talk about that it's very complicated and detailed and it takes a very long time to get your mind around it.

Susan Bratton: And really what you're doing is interpreting historical law into modern-day applicability for the people that are following you, is that right?

Pinny Gniwisch: hundred percent.

Susan Bratton: OK. So, you started out as a rabbi after you graduated from Sydney University in Australia. You ended up in Hawaii and Hong Kong and you were principal of some of the day schools there. What was it like to be this rabbi in Hong Kong? How did that work for you?

Pinny Gniwisch: It was one of the greatest experiences, I mean, you are in a country where people are walking faster than… you know, you come from New York and people walk past, but in Hong Kong everything's much faster. And you're there as a rabbi where your world is not that fast. So, you know, I would come out of my synagogue and things are moving and you're just so relaxed and it's kind of an oxymoron.

But most of the people we dealt with were ex-pats that moved to Hong Kong to do business. So, they were looking for a home to call their own. And the community center, the synagogue that's when… So they rely more on you and utilize your services a lot more based on the fact that they're in a foreign country as well. So, when you're dealing with people in the community that is their home, you know, the synagogue is a place you go one time a year for most Jews today. But when you're living in Hong Kong the rabbi plays much more pivotal vote role because it brings back more memories of where you come from.

Susan Bratton: So, you really felt like you were integrating into the community more so during that time then maybe some of the things that you do today in relationship with your synagogue in Montreal.

Pinny Gniwisch: hundred percent.

Susan Bratton: Interesting. Now, you've also really done a lot of work with children, with the Boy Scouts, you're very philanthropic. What's the thing that drives you to teach and work with children and give us maybe three or four examples of things that you have done.

Pinny Gniwisch: OK. So, first of all, I've started an organization. I went to pulpit rabbi field and I became part of the synagogue for a year or two and that wasn't for me. I couldn't deal with the board of directors, the president of the synagogue. It's just not for me to be in that structure, I'm too round to fit in that square peg. You know, them telling you what to do, and how to run things, it's just not for me.

So, I left the whole structured Jewish rabbinical and I decided, you know, my passion is children. So, I decided: "I'm gonna start a children's organization to teach children about Jewish subjects in a very fun and hands on way." So, I started an organization called the "Living Legacy". And what we do is we go into public schools, where people don't know anything about Judaism and we come in during different times of the year with hands-on projects. So, for instance, we just came from the holiday of Rosh Hashanah where one of the things we do is we blow in a ram's horn to bring in the New Year.

Susan Bratton: Towar?

Pinny Gniwisch: shofar

Susan Bratton: shofar. That's it.

Pinny Gniwisch: Exactly. You're good. You own it.

Susan Bratton: Well, I tried.

Pinny Gniwisch: So, the shofar is made from ram's horns, so what I did was I invented this program where we go into the school and we take ram's horns and we make them into shofars. We bring saws and drills and sand paper and shellac. And the kids, while I'm talking, the are involved in making their own personal shofar. And I have countless stories where parents come up to me and say: "You know, we cherish the shofar because every year, you know, we're not so religious but when Rosh Hashanah comes, when the New Year comes, we take it down from the shelf and we blow it, because… And our kid is so excited about the holiday now, and it's only because he made his own shofar. And I do this… I do 10 programs like this through the year, then inspire the kids because they were personally involved.

Susan Bratton: I love that story. In our plastic wrapped world in our plastic wrapped culture to be able to touch the horn of an animal, a living animal and tie it back to the tradition of the New Year has to be an unbelievably powerful moment in a children's life. And I, Pinny, I need you to post all those 10 things you do, because I know that every parent who’s listening to you, and, probably, every human who has the child inside wants to know what the other nine are. [laughs] Would you be willing to give them to me to post on the DishyMix blog?

Pinny Gniwisch: 100% no worries.

Susan Bratton: Alright, good. So, we're gonna post all 10 of the living legacy hands on ideas on the DishyMix blog. I love that.

Pinny Gniwisch: You know, in Montreal, I'm not known as Pinny, I'm known as the matzoh man.

Susan Bratton: matzoh man? [laughs]

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes, because what we do before the holiday of Passovers, we make… we bake matzohs with the kids. And that's the #unleven bread for the Passover. And so I walk around and kids, you know, Barney has nothing on me. Barney, forget about it. I am the matzoh man and I walk in the mall and kids went up to me: "Hey, matzoh man!" like so… And my kids pride themselves with the fact that I'm the matzoh man.

Susan Bratton: Well, I've never had home made matzoh. All I've ever had is that, you know, crackery stuff. It has to be really good.

Pinny Gniwisch: Machine? Exactly, no, you've got to taste it. I mean, even if we use the basic ingredients, but the parents that come and watch the program are like: "Wow! This is good stuff!" And I think it's only because they've made it themselves, I don't know.

Susan Bratton: Yes. Nice and do you have your own matzoh recipe?

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes, we do.

Susan Bratton: Alright. Are you sharing that to?

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes. We actually had, we used white flower, but we add a little bit of whole wheat flower in the mix. So, three cups of white, half a cup of whole wheat, and mix… You never thought that you'd get recipes from a rabbi but you have this and you mix it together, and you have to make sure to bake it at a very high temperature. So, it's done in less than 18 minutes and comes out really good.

Susan Bratton: Nice. I love that. You'd be surprised how often on DishyMix, well, Mike Donahue was on recently, he gave us his killer margarita mix. I've had David Smith from Media Smith give us he's best Chinese food quickie recipe. So, we get a lot of recipes on DishyMix. [laughs]

So all of this work that you have done has, kind of, settled in you in a way. When I've been talking to you, you've been writing some things about being present, about flow, about universal truths. You're thinking a lot about the philosophies and religion, and how that applies to business. Tell us what your universal truths are that run through your life?

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, the most important one that I follow, I'm trying to follow that I battle with every day is commitment. And Today kids, unfortunately, are not hot enough about being committed to just anything. And what I mean with that is that your attention to detail, that ego is not involved in the process of whatever you're doing. Because, once ego's involved, if it's too difficult, your ego says: "I don't want to be involved anymore. I'm lazy. I'm this. I want to go do something else. I'm an ADD", whatever it is. And the concept of committing yourself to projects, committing yourself to what you do, committing yourself to anything, especially when we talk about our relationship with our kids, our relationship with our wives, and even more so, you know, we go to work every day, committing ourselves to our work, and to our customers.

Transparency is another very important thing. You know, they talk about a lot known business that after Enron and all the bad things that were going on there. Transparency is so important that your customers, because they are making decisions, because they are pulling the information, in one second they can be on another site, or in one second they're on another channel, or they're TiVo-ing a show and your commercial doesn't exist anymore. So, what does this all telling us? This is telling us that we're in a world where everything is shifting. Where the authority is not anymore looking down, you know, I love Jerry Steinfield's little piece where he says, the guy, the pharmacist, stands over you and looks down and he says: "How can I help you?" And what is his job? He takes pills from a big bottle and then puts them into a small bottle. That is so hysterically.

And that authoritative thing that we've built up, because of the industrial revolution, that there is, you know, "we are the authority and we're gonna tell you how to do it". That is not happening anymore, there's transparency. If customers are not happy with your product, within five seconds it's all over the web and not only it's all over the web, it's, you know, on blogs, they're talking about it. You do the search, you mess with a customer, it can destroy your company. So, transparency is very important that if something goes wrong, right away, come up and say: "I did something wrong as a corporation. I did something wrong as a human being. I did something wrong as a husband. I did something wrong as a father and I'm sorry. How can I make it better?"

Susan Bratton: So, those are it. Those are: commitment, being ego-less, transparency. And I would make it fourth, I would say: letting go of our authority, our need for authority, or authoritative nature which is a part of being ego-less and having transparency but an important equal point.

Pinny Gniwisch: And it's all because… And the most important thing is "lead", for example. You can not live any more with "because, I said so". It doesn't work. It doesn't work as a parent, it doesn't work as a boss, it doesn't work as a husband or as a wife, it doesn't work. Now we need reasons and we need examples. People that are going to be an examples in the world today as in any position of authority are the ones that people are gonna love, and people are gonna stay with.

You know, we have a great business here. But the greatness of our business is that people work for us. And we don't lose any people. We haven't had anybody who actually quit from ice.com in the six or seven years. Because the people running the company, not only me, but my brother, he is a great human being, are leading by examples. You know, we work hard, we're honest. And, you know, where different things that are connected to religion, like on the Sabbath our businesses is closed, on holidays our businesses is closed, which means, we don't take orders, we're not processing anything. So, when an employee sees that, there is a level of respect. You know, these people are committed to something and that makes them a different kind of caliber of human being in today's world.

Susan Bratton: Nice. Well, Brad Berens who was also recently on DishyMix, he's the editor of I-Media, he is always bringing great new ideas and books to my attention. And one of the ones that he just brought to my attention today so well feeds into everything that you're talking about. It's a new book called "How" (HOW) by a guy named Dov Seidman. And it's essentially teaching you that it's not what you do, but how you do it that sets you apart from the pack. Which is exactly what you're saying, Pinny.

And so, I checked it out. He offers a leadership framework which I think will be interesting. And he talks a lot about reputation in a wired world which you were just talking about as well. And I have a new sponsor, they're Audible.com. And anybody who is listening to DishyMix, I've got all those promo cards today! [laughs] It's like a new podcast-y thing. I'm definitely trying it out. If you go to audiblepodcast.com/dishy (DISHY), you can get Dove's book summary. There's a Soundview executive books summary that includes Dov's Seidman's book called "How" and you can download it for free. Audible has the "Book of the month" club and people who listen to podcasts are the best targets for this.

So, if you're listening to DishyMix, and you're on the road, or you're commuting, or you're on the plane all the time, or you're walking your dog and you want to hear something besides DishyMix, this might be something you could download. You get a free book when you join the club and it's essentially one book every month. You get a dozen books a year for free for their program. So, I hope you'll try it out. If you go to audiblepodcast.com/dishy, you can get Dov's book summary. And I would love to get Dov on the show, someone will work on that too. And then, I think, Pinny, you and I both need to read that book because we both like talking about the same kind of thing, we're into that.

So, I want to move over to just some of the crazy, funny, corky things about you. You are this rabbi, respected guy. You are doing this all this philanthropic work. You're doing amazing work with children. You are running ice.com, which is this fabulous business where you totally take care of employees. At the same time you are a fabulous rollerblader and you go to the Beyonce's concert. So many, in fact, that you know Beyonce's mom and dad. Tell us about the silly side of Pinny.

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, fortunately, I grew up with ADD which is a blessing, today I realize. Because I don't live in the same realm as people where, you know, if you are a certain kind of a person, you fit into certain structure and this is how we view you. Fortunately, there is a different side to me, or 5 million different sides to me, that you can't put your finger on. It was funny when I once met a guy, an American living in Korea, and he showed me his wallet. This is the funniest thing. And in his wallet he had pictures of Saddam's Hussein, Khomeini, George Bush, Bill Clinton and like all these weird pictures of different leaders of the world.

So, I said "What is this about?" He says: "If I ever get stopped by the police, they will not know my true intentions, or they would not know what I believe in." I mean, he is a little weird but he is funny, because here you have this guy, who thinks about these things. But the point is that, you know, when you see me… I always… Last week I was at a conference and this woman walks into this dinner, and she was about to sit down but she saw me, and I walk around with a kippah, and I have a beard and I don't look like, maybe, the first one you want to sit next to for a dinner.

Susan Bratton: what's a kippah?

Pinny Gniwisch: A kippah is the head covering that Orthodox Jews wear.

Susan Bratton: It's not a yarmulke?

Pinny Gniwisch: A yarmulke. Yes, it's the same thing.

Susan Bratton: And you call it a kippah or a yarmulke?

Pinny Gniwisch: A yarmulke means… is an abbreviation for two Hebrew words called "Youreh Malka", which means "the fear of the king." You wear it to show that there is someone above you at all times.

Susan Bratton: Oh, that's good.

Pinny Gniwisch: Yes, so a kippah means a covering, which is which is in Hebrew. So, I'm wearing… and she is looking around, and she doesn't find another seat, so she sits down next to me, and, you know, at the end of the evening she is like: "Wow! You are just amazing! This is the greatest dinner I ever had." So, in my mind I'm thinking: "You saw the cover, right?"

And that's why I love that Amazon {.com}. It gives you the ability to look at a book and look inside, you know, because the concept is not judging a book by its cover, it's so perfect. On the other side of the coin, you have Pinny, who is a champion rollerblader who taught rollerblading, who gave rollerblading lessons in Central Park for two years. Who was on a rollerblading video commercial. And then you have Pinny, who's trying to produce a Broadway play. And then you have Pinny, who has sights on creating an animated short film for kids, and you have Pinny who does yoga. So you have all these different Pinnys who, if you put them in one bag, and, if someone would look at it, he would say: "This is an anomaly, this doesn't work in a society that we're living." But, I say, you know, this is the greatest gift that I have.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely. The greatest gift that you have is your variety, your diversity, and your creativity. I see that just coming out of you. And you really to me embodied the kind of person that is the DishyMix's perfect guest. Because, clearly you're great in business, you have a beautiful site with really nice products, you run a tight ship, your people love you. At the same time, you're crazy rollerblading Pinny, yoga-doing.

Hey! I have a new idea, you could do yoga-blading [laughs]. You can come up with a new… I love these… I just recently went to this event, where they had acro-massage. Like these people spin you around and massage you at the same time. That eclipsed, what I thought, was my latest massage thing, which was "wa-tsu", which is water shia-tsu where the massage therapist gets you in the pool and floats you around and manipulates you. So, now, acro-massage has eclipsed that. So, now I'm thinking there's yoga and there's rollerblading and there's all these new kinds of yoga and you could do yoga blading, you could just create a whole new thing. I could see you on your new youtube video doing this, Pinny.

Pinny Gniwisch: [laughs] You know, what's amazing is… when you're talking now, it does so well with, hopefully, if I, eventually, write my book, my book is called "Mash up nation."

Susan Bratton: Oh! that's new. OK.

Pinny Gniwisch: Someone, you know, have to copyright that now. But one plus one equals one and the concept is that you're taking two things. If you go deep into your creativity and you try to find things inside of you, and follow your gut, and get out of your own way, you can come up, just by being present, with these great ideas. You know, yoga-blading, right? You're taking one, and one, and you're making one, and it doesn't come out to, you know, it's not a separate thing, it equals one. And, I think, real creativity today as we see it is taking two things that exist already and creating a third thing which is really one.

Susan Bratton: It's definitely one of the ways that we're approaching creativity. I am a student of creativity. I have always… I feel the most proud of myself in my moments of creativity. When I can problem-solve, when I can innovate, when I can create. I just love that. I don't think that there are just any better moments in my life than those moments when I feel like: "Oh! That was creative! Good for you, girl!"

So, I love creativity. I've launched a show on my network personallifemedia.com called "The Joy of Living Creatively" with Dr. Eric Mazel. He is a creative coach, and I've heard of him on NPR. And I called him up and I said: "Hey, have you ever thought of doing a weekly podcast on creativity?" He has written like 30 books on creativity. And so, he does this show every week. It's just short, like eight minutes, one thing to think about, to take you… to expand your native creativity. And you're like that, you live that creativity.

What one tip, I always like to get like one thing at the end of the show that is something that people can find inspirational. So, I'm putting on the spot here. I didn't tell you, I was gonna ask you this. I never know what that last thing is gonna be. But you can handle it. Tell us something about how you evoke your native creativity that we might learn from.

Pinny Gniwisch: Ok. That's a challenge. When I am the most present. In other words, when I am at a moment where I'm really there, and there is nothing else going on but I'm committed to the moment. I'll tell you this cute story. I was once putting in my daughter to sleep. It's three o'clock in the morning, and my wife kicks me and she says: "Your turn to get up". My baby was, maybe, seven or eight months old. And I'm like: "Oh, No. I don't want to do this". And I get out of bed, and I pick her up out of her crib, and she's just not stopping to cry. And I realized, as I'm standing there and she's not stopping to cry, because you're not there, you're not there for her, you're not committed to the moment, you're not present. So, creatively I stopped and I said: "I'm going to commit to you this moment." And I made that commitment in my head. And it was in three seconds, she relaxed and fell back asleep.

And I learned such an important lesson then that if you want to be creative, right, you need to be committed to that project or that moment, to that situation. And the more you can accustom yourself to do that, where you're ego-less and you're just there for that situation, the more opportunity you'll have to feeling those moments that you love, Susan. I cherish those moments. When I got out of my own way, I'm saying: "How can have more moments like that? How can I leave my whole life, where I'm getting out of my own way?" That my creativity, the flow of energy is just penetrating and I'm just the funnel. And I take credit for it but it doesn't go to my head, so that the next time I can have another moment like that.

Susan Bratton: So, that is absolutely beautiful and how do you get present? What do you do to get present?

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, there are few things. First of all, I pray every morning and that gives me a perspective for the day. So, you know, some people meditate. I just met that girl from Australia, she meditates, every single day. And it's difficult some days when you're tired and you're groggy but you need to create that system where you're doing it consistently, where your body knows that there's 10 minutes a day when you're pushing everything else out, and you're just focusing on being peaceful and allowing yourself those few moments of joy.

And then, throughout the day, I try to stop and appreciate everything around me. I think, that's so important, you know, the guy who opened the door for you and that's his job but… You know, last night I was in Vegas and we were all driven by this bus driver from one place to a cocktail party. And I'm sitting there and everybody walks out, and noone says anything to the driver. And I stopped, and there were people behind me, I looked at him and he turned, and I said: "Excuse me, sir. Thank you so much for driving us." And he said: "Wow!" His eyes lit up, his body, all the energies just suddenly started to radiate. And It’s like: "Thank you very much!"

And then I needed to go somewhere because I wasn't happy… didn't want to go back to my hotel, and he said: "You know what? I'll take you alone". But it's moments like that, where people who, we think, are there to serve us, if we notice the beauty around us. You're standing at the traffic light and you see some, you know, everybody's nervous in New York City, and across the street they are looking at their watches. There's such beauty around you! There are people to look at, you know, you can be… I can be at the traffic light. Your mind is totally not in the present moment, there is no creativity happening, and I can come up with this great idea because I was there.

Susan Bratton: Nice. Well, alright. We are going to make the commitment today to be there just for a moment and remember what that feels like, because I know how good that feels. And one of the things that I like about being with you in the process of these interviews is that I get to be totally tuned into your for a half an hour. And I hope that everyone else has enjoyed being in tuned into you too, Pinny. [laughs]

Pinny Gniwisch: Well, thank you so much for having me. I haven't been meeting you, not personally yet, but one day we will, and just getting a taste of your energy it's been inspirational for me. So, thank you so much.

Susan Bratton: Oh, that's very sweet. Thank you and thank you for the gift of the discount on ice.com. Let everybody remember, they can take advantage of that which is really good. Thank you for that, I appreciate it. You go to ice.com and use coupon code "dishy" (DISHY).

Alright, so we will do text and transcripts of this full interview. I also promised you, I'll print those 10 living legacy ideas for children. I think we can apply this to any belief, any religion. So, I promise I'll put that from Pinny on the DishyMix blog. And I look forward to talking to you next week. I hope you had a great time learning about somebody really amazing in our industry. And have a great day! This is your host, Susan Bratton.

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