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Joan Lunden talks about her book, 'Wake-Up Calls'

October 27, 2000
12 p.m. EDT

Joan Lunden, bestselling author of "Joan Lunden's A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road," "Joan Lunden's Healthy Living" and "Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking," is was the co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America" for two decades. She currently produces and hosts primetime specials for the A&E network, as well as serving as president and host of The Women's Supermarket Network and delivering speeches across the country. Her new book is "Wake-Up Calls: Making the Most Out of Every Day (Regardless of What Life Throws You)," a collection of anecdotes, quotations, and common sense wisdom.

Chat Moderator: Good morning, Joan Lunden. Welcome and thank you for joining us today.

Joan Lunden: It's great to be here in the morning, and fun to be able to do this with you all. This will serve as my wake-up call today!

Chat Moderator: Please tell us a bit about your book, "Wake-Up Calls."

Joan Lunden: I love quotes. I find that quotes sometimes just make you stop in your tracks, and make you re-think the way you look at life. They challenge us to be better people, to live out your dreams, perhaps be more patient in relationships -- so I think we all need wake-up calls. I have been collecting quotes for 10 years, and in some of my past books, I have sprinkled them throughout. It's always seemed to be very effective and enjoyed by many. I have always been asked for copies of my collections, and so I decided it would be a good idea for a book, along with a lot of personal stories about how these quotes helped me in life.

Question from lulu: I coach a high school dance team. How can I teach these girls a positive attitude and good work ethic?

Joan Lunden: Teach them the importance of body language and enthusiasm, and what they learn with you they can take all throughout their lives to ensure success. Because if you can teach them how it feels to be enthusiastic and to have a passion for living -- which is what you have an opportunity to do -- this will be a most valuable asset that they can take through life.

I travel the country speaking at motivational seminars, and I'm always talking about how the attitude you take into a room with you will have a tremendous impact on whether the people in the room believe in you or in your idea or product. On a teenage level, that attitude will make them shine when they walk into a dance or walk into a party. And when taking on a new challenge, if you approach it with enthusiasm, and believe in yourself, that if you give it a good try, you will be able to succeed. That will usually be the determining factor on whether you do find success.

A positive attitude is something everyone can work on, and everyone can learn how to employ it. A lot of people think they are either a positive, enthusiastic, peppy person, or they are not. But I think it is something you can learn, and it shapes your life and determines the quality of your life. In almost everything I have ever attempted, it has been the single most determining factor, which is why I wrote a book about it.

Question from WangTK: How do you define "fulfilling life," Joan?

Joan Lunden: Keeping yourself open to possibilities, opportunities, and asking yourself what it is you want to accomplish in life. How is it you want to make a mark on the world? When you write down your dreams they become goals, and then you can take steps toward that goal. And that can be anything like being a more involved parent at school, so that you feel you have done your best job at parenting, or it could be opening your own business. A fulfilling life is different to each person. You have to acknowledge your dreams, and not just wait for life to happen, and opportunities to come knocking at your door.

Question from Pinch: I will be speaking to about 500 entrepreneurs in Las Vegas this month. I am interested in what you would tell them about the opportunities for growth personally, spiritually, and emotionally.

Joan Lunden: First, I would tell them to go out on a limb; that's where the fruit is! And I have several mottoes I live my life by, and they are: Whenever you are asked if you are do something, for God's sake, just say yes! How do you know you can't do it until you try it? We all tend to set our own boundaries, and it's never trespassing when you cross your own boundaries.

My second motto: Whenever you feel self-doubt, that something is hard or unknown to you, just remove failure as an option, and your chances for success become infinitely better.

I am constantly asked how I have managed to do all the amazing things I've done, such as flying an F-18 and landing on an aircraft carrier. These are opportunities I have looked for, and left myself open to. I didn't know if I could pull them off, but I took that leap of faith, and held onto the belief that if I tried as hard as I could, I might be able to. And since I've left myself open to this, and approached it with a passion and a belief in myself, I've been able to rack up the most amazing experiences anyone could hope for. But if I had been consumed with self-doubt, and didn't at least try, then you would be talking to someone else.

Chat Moderator: Are there any of these quotes in particular that you've used in your book that have the most meaning for you?

Joan Lunden: Yes! Courage is like a muscle; it's strengthened by use. If you don't keep trying new things, challenging yourself, and keeping your mind open, then you don't strengthen your courage muscle. But every time you accomplish something you did not think you could, it strengthens that courage muscle and adds to your self-confidence.

Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts for us today?

Joan Lunden: Well, I use a good example of believing you can overcome something by admitting my own fear of public speaking. When I talk about this, people are very surprised, because I was in front of millions of people everyday, but I used to get unnerved even in front of a small group.

When I left "Good Morning America," I decided to tackle that fear, and for the last three years, I have been out doing motivational seminars where I speak before 20,000 people in huge arenas. I have become very comfortable with it and enjoy it. If you had told me three years ago I would enjoy that, I would have told you you were nuts! If I can accomplish that, then everyone logged on today should be able to realize that they can tackle anything they want in their lives. Just go for it, and at least try.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Joan Lunden.

Joan Lunden: This is my pleasure. It has been fun, and I would like to come back again. Thank you so much.

Joan Lunden joined the chat via telephone from CNN's New York Bureau. CNN provided a typist for her. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Tuesday, October 17, 2000.

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