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WS 20years1By Brian Van Bower

‘When it comes to just about anything that matters in life,’ wrote Brian Van Bower to open his June 1999 Aqua Culture column, ‘the difference between success and failure is often your mindset and the attitude you bring to each situation, event or occasion.  

‘That’s a huge generalization,’ he added, ‘but it’s something I consider each and every time I prepare myself for something important – such as meeting a prospective pool client face to face for the very first time.  I know at times like this that my performance will be determined by how I feel and that how I feel will directly influence my ability to get results.’  He continued:


‘What I loosely refer to as “mindset” is something known for centuries to samurai masters as your “Ki.”  . . .  Ki (pronounced “kee”) encompasses all aspects of your being.  It is the blending of mind, heart and spirit, and it influences everything from the way you walk and what you say to how you say it, how you smile and the way you shake hands or say “hello.”  In recent years, people in business throughout the world have embraced this concept as a way to increase their chances of success in business; they’ve also found it works wonders in improving their personal lives and in helping them become healthier, happier people.’


‘For most people, the word samurai conjures images of swords and fierce combat.  But the samurai were about much more than war; indeed, they trained ceaselessly to serve a single lord and his family and the community at large.  To perform at peak capacity, the samurai spent a lifetime learning about and tapping into a power that flows through the universe – a power available only to those in harmony with it.’  


‘What does this quiet confidence and power have to do with selling swimming pools?  To my way of thinking, just about everything.’


When you first walk into a client’s home, you send a variety of important and powerful messages – all without even realizing it.  Have you ever noticed how some people can walk into a room and everyone takes notice?  (And I’m not talking about the ones who’ve had expensive surgery.)  There’s just something about certain people, a power, a presence, something “magnetic.”  What you’re sensing here is these individuals’ Ki.  


‘Recognizing the Ki of another person is not some strange psychic skill:  We all have the ability to do it, and even animals can detect your Ki.  Dogs, for instance, instinctively know if you like them or if you’re afraid – and they react accordingly.  . . .  In a sense, we all have a bit of the pooch’s instinct about us.  We react favorably to those individuals with a positive Ki and by contrast have negative reactions to those people who give off bad vibes.’  


‘If your message and your Ki are out of alignment, you can talk all you want about the excitement of owning a pool and how great the tile will look or how much fun lounging in a beach entrance can be, but odds are it won’t be understood or believed nearly as readily as it would if you were conveying positive information with your body and your presence.’


‘Just like a samurai, you use your Ki to focus on what is most important at that moment.  Your strength of presence is focused on your customers, allowing no distractions, no excursions, no hype.  You are not worried about yesterday or concerned about tomorrow.  Through your Ki, you are in the here and now – focused, listening, thinking, learning, finding ways that you can serve your customers in the here and now – just like a samurai.’


‘I’ve personally used these goals and the power of Ki to make a better life for myself in a number of ways, professionally and personally.  It doesn’t mean I’m always successful or always happy,’ Brian concluded, ‘but it sure stacks the deck in my favor.’  

Through the years, the “power” Brian described in his column has taken many forms and gone by many names; indeed, it seems that people in business are always looking for analogies and systems that shed light on success.  What’s your own secret?  Please share it by commenting below!


Brian Van Bower runs Aquatic Consultants, a design firm based in Miami, Fla., and is a co-founder of the Genesis 3 Design Group; dedicated to top-of-the-line performance in aquatic design and construction, this organization conducts schools for like-minded pool designers and builders.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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