Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

As I continue with interviews for my Embracing SUCCESS series, I’m delighted to have one with Patrice Tanaka , Co-chair and Chief Creative Officer of CRT/tanaka. Patrice is one of those inspirational people that brings sunshine to all she encounters. She’s brought her spirit into her company, which greatly benefits her clients. I hope that her words motivate you the way they motivated me.

Interview with Patrice Tanaka

Patrice Tanaka was raised in Hawaii, where she started her career as a journalist. But she always wanted to live in NYC, and happily moved there, with no job. She’s always had a positive spirit that supported her goals and enabled her to make a solid impact on the world of PR. Even then, Patrice had strong faith that her expectations would come to fruition. And they did.

Patrice Tanaka & Company, Inc. was founded in 1990. It became one of the nation’s most well-respected consumer public relations firms, winning more than 180 PR industry awards and recognized as the “No. 1 Most Creative PR Agency in America.” Patrice has also been honored as a “Creativity All-Star” by Inside PR. In 2005 she joined forces with Carter Ryley Thomas as the Co-chair and Chief Creative Officer of CRT/tanaka.

She is also their “whatcanbe” ambassador. Patrice knows that the sky is the limit for anyone who chooses “to envision and help manifest a bigger, brighter, better future.”

Patrice’s passion for life takes another level when it comes to dancing. In her free time, she often immerses herself in ballroom dance, entering contests and striving to improve. Her goal is to dance for 3 hours every day. Patrice lives by a strong intention that we can all learn from:

To have joy in my life every single day; to be mindful of that joy; and to share that joy with others.

Her delight with life shows how happy that makes her. I basked in Patrice’s great energy during the interview. She’s definitely someone who has learned how to live by the Law of Attraction. We all know that our expectations come back to us as reality, but few people live by that principle fully. Patrice is able to. Here’s what she says about how she’s manifested her successful life—in all areas!

What does SUCCESS mean to you? SUCCESS for me means living my purpose, which I’ve identified from years ago—to have joy in my life every single day; to be mindful of that joy; and to share that joy with others. If I can do that every day, to me that’s SUCCESS.

How do you achieve that? I set an intention at the beginning of every day and before I go to bed each night I go through all the joyful episodes of the day, so I can be mindful of them. Otherwise, if you just let them pass by, sometimes you either forget or don’t recognize it as a joyful episode. Or you question if you had joy. I want to know I’ve had 8 or 10 or 17 joyful episodes during the day. And I’ve reinforced my joy in that way.

How important is having passion in life? I think it’s everything. It fuels life. My goal is only to do things that I’m passionate about and to only be involved with organizations and issues that I feel passionate about. And also to have people in my life that I feel passionate about—family, friends, colleagues. That makes life richer.

How important is ballroom dancing to you? Dancing produces so much joy for me. Tonight after work, I have 2 ½ hours of lessons with 2 different teachers. I feel, wow, that’s almost fulfilling my dance quota. My goal is to be able to dance 3 hours every day. Tonight I’ll watch Dancing with the Stars so that’s an hour and a half of dancing joy. So I’ll go over my quota.

How did you get your original confidence to move from Hawaii to New York? If you have great passion about something, it almost substitutes for courage and confidence, because you’re fueled by this desire and drive to do it. It’s so strong that you forget that maybe you should be a little afraid. I always wanted to live in NY. I grew up on those old movies that were about New Yorkers and wanted to live that swell life. All my life was about trying to get to NY. So I wasn’t worried that there would be problems or that I’d find a job.. I just needed to get there. I knew I’d find a job. In fact I was more worried that I’d get a job too soon after I arrived. I wanted 6 weeks before starting work, to see NY.

What motivates you? After 9/11 I lost my appetite for future projections of big goals and ambitions because I kept thinking about those people who walked into the Twin Towers that day thinking they had the luxury of a future. You don’t know how much time you have so you better be sure that up to each moment that you’ve had joy, hopefully incredible joy. It doesn’t matter what you achieve, as long as you have joy. If I were to die today, I’d be ready to go. I’ve had so much joy.

How did you feel when your company was sold? We had a lot of offers over the years. We’d worked with Carter Ryley Thomas and really liked them. And independently, both our agencies had been named #1 Best Workplace Among PR Agencies. So we had a similar focus on workplace culture. The real reason I wanted to do the deal with them is because Mark Raper, our CEO, is one of the most wonderful people in the world. Four years before we started CRT/tanaka, Mark opened a meeting by saying that here at Carter Ryley Thomas we believe in the abundance mentality. How often do you hear that in corporate life? As soon as I heard those words, which are my own philosophy, I said I want to play in the sandbox with these guys. Ultimately that led to us agreeing to be acquired.

What does your brand essence of “whatcanbe” mean to you? That is the essence of the agency’s approach t
o business. It’s really about the ability to envision and then manifest a bigger, brighter future, for yourself, and then extending to our agency, our clients and the community at large. To me it’s what it’s all about. We just began giving “whatcanbe” awards to our employees. We’re giving 3 awards that come with a one-week paid sabbatical and a stipend, so each employee can create a “whatcanbe” experience for themselves. We want people to know that we’re serious in encouraging them to envision and help manifest a bigger, brighter, better future.

How to you manifest personally? I’m a big manifester. I’ve always done it. Whatever it is that I want to do, I set an intention for what I would like. At the beginning of each day I think about, “How do I want this day to transpire? What kind of outcomes am I looking for? What is the effect I want to have on people that I come into contact with? My intention always includes love, joy, peace, good will and abundance. And great dancing. All kinds of good things. I believe that the Universe is a very supportive one and what you want to achieve, you can. Put it out. Set an intention. And somehow people and circumstances all come together to help you realize it, IF it’s a goal that’s worth being supported.

What life lessons have you learned? My mother would always say, “Share your cookies and toys!” That was her big admonition. If we played with other kids and didn’t share, she’d take them and give it to them. She told us that love isn’t limited. “If I give somebody love it doesn’t mean there’s less love for you. In fact, there’s love for you.” The older I got, the more it made sense. The more love, joy and abundance you create for yourself and share with others, the more that you have for yourself and for others. It’s the law of the Universe. I still live by “share your cookies and toys.” That’s my defining philosophy, in personal and in building a business.

How important is giving back? We donate 10% of our pre-taxed income in cash and kind services to non-profit organizations. We support a lot of organizations. One is housed out of our office.

What would you recommend to someone who wanted to follow their passions but was scared to take the first step? It’s easy if it really is something that you’re totally passionate about, and it’s so compelling that it’s more compelling than whatever your fear is about taking the plunge. If you follow your passion it will lead you to the place you want to be. To not follow your passion? Why would you want to do that to yourself?

Do you ever get worried or scared? How do you overcome it? I know that what you focus on is what you manifest so my prayer every day, before I start my day, is to be in a place that is about peace, love, joy, abundance, compassion, good health and great dancing. So if I’m in that place, there’s no place for anything that’s not those things.

Which endeavors give you the most satisfaction? Doing the best that I can possibly do in any situation. Because if I’m doing it to enth degree then I’m satisfied that I did my best for me and the other person. That’s a really good feeling.

What are you most grateful for? That I understand the power to create what I want is in my grasp. If that’s the case, I can create the most joyful life that I can imagine. That’s a huge piece of knowledge. If everyone knew that, the world would be in such great shape.

How would you rate your SUCCESS? For me, the score card every night is, did I achieve my purpose that day—to have joy in my life; to be mindful of that joy; and to share that joy with others? Sometimes I’m doing, doing, doing all day. It’s only when I take stock of it every night that it reinforces and makes me aware that a lot of good things happened to me. I feel very grateful. It’s so important to be mindful of it.

Patrice Tanaka continues to share her cookies and toys, and exuberance for creating a great life, with all who have the luck to spend time with her!

Check out past interviews from my Embracing SUCCESS series:

Daniel Glass, founder, Glassnote Entertainment
Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora
Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist

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