Making Connections and Inner Changes


Making Connections and Inner Changes

“All real living is meeting.” – Martin Buber, “I and Thou”

With the beginning of the new year, many of us make resolutions. Most have to do with better health, fitness, making more money, being a more engaged partner, parent or a worker. TV commercials cater to our new determinations and offer tools. Gym memberships, diet programs, food delivery services are dominant.

It’s all about the outer change, while the inner change is not being addressed. So once again, we try and most often we fail. By March or even sooner, those new year resolutions are long forgotten.

What about starting with a change from within? What if we can simply examine our lives, reflect and then continue with our inner transformation long into the summer of yet another wonderful year.

Because we can make it wonderful.

One way is to pick up “Don’t Sleep on Planes,” by PIE 2018 Keynote Speaker Zachary Hall. When I first heard this book title, I was incredulous.

After all, when I fly, my determination is to sleep. I want to get away. On the plane, I can get away from talking to my friends, relatives and co-workers. I have a blissful break from gadgets, from talking, from texting and interacting.

Sleep, a book or an inflight movie after saying a brief hello to my seatmate is something I strive for and what makes flying pleasant.

After reading Hall’s book, I have to reconsider my former approach. Because just as Martin Buber said about the space between us and that “All actual life is encounter,” Hall shows us that, indeed, the richest life is about connecting and connections.

Every moment is an opportunity to meet someone new and thus grow. To build a network of friends. Everyone is our teacher. And everyone has something to offer us, just as we have something to offer them.

I have myriad experiences, yet how many more experiences can I gain when I meet another who shows me their life, their perspective? For one, by feeling with them, I can grow in empathy and compassion and, thus, become a more understanding and accepting person.

It takes some courage and getting out of our comfort zone to make these connections, yet every connection has value and every encounter can make the world a better place. Because, in one way or another, we are all connected.

To propel us for the take-off in making connections, Hall gives us motivation as “What’s in it for me?”

He says, “With a solid network, you suddenly become the person with all the power. You’re the connector. You get to make all kinds of great things happen for all the great people in your life. And, trust me – if you live your life that way, you’ll get a lot more back than you ever thought possible.”

The premise of the book is encouragement as Hall shows with his life that life is service. Our happiness doesn’t exist unless we help others. Thus, when we build a network of connections, we can be “that guy” or “that gal” who can help others.

By knowing people, keeping in touch with them — at least via social media and an occasional email and definitely a follow-up hand-written note — we create a world of opportunities. If a friend calls and needs advice, we can be “that person” who “connects” our friend with “the right person” who can help them.

According to “Don’t Sleep on Planes,” it all starts with us embracing our MASK (Mindset, Attitude, Sense and Knowledge). Hall developed the technique as a professional mascot for MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks.

He realized that all professional mascots wear a mask, and regardless of how challenging their day is, or their struggles, they have to embrace the character they are meant to be. In other words, they are supposed to create joy, fun and comfort. They try to make everyone whom they approach feel important.

Hall says the mascot represents “a brand that outlasts the being in the costume.”

In my spiritual practice approach, MASK means Intention, Attitude, Empathy and Awareness.

Therefore, when we meet someone, be it on a plane, in a restaurant, in the queue at the bank or at a parking conference, it all starts with us. Our Intention or Mindset matters most. Do we see the best in that person and are we curious?

Every connection is valuable, and every one is a messenger.

Hall uses the stoic approach of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius in meeting people. If we meet another who might not be so nice, he advises us not to take things personally. He suggests we should focus on things we can control. And that is our MASK Attitude can change the course of the day and any encounter.

“Don’t Sleep on Planes” offers myriad tools for us all to live better lives, because “connected” lives are unquestionably better. At the end of the day, those connections and how can we be of service matter most.

Every chapter of the book is anecdotal and based on real stories from Hall’s life. The end of each chapter eases to concise “Points of Departure” – the most salient points to ponder. Followed by “Flight Patterns” – guidelines how to use the tools to implement daily. And, last but not least, an invitation to “Build Your Network” — practice creates change and value.

Hall writes: “Keep meeting people, … embracing your MASK, following up, … conversing on planes, staying in touch, connecting with people, asking for advice, doing acts of kindness, sharing your contacts, and asking for and accepting help when you need it. You’re sure to rack up many ‘cosmic victories’ that will come back days, months or even years later to enrich your life in surprising ways.”

By meeting people, getting to know them, having empathy for others and showing up in our humanity, we can embrace life to the fullest and create success and value. Martin Buber said: “The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.”

“Don’t Sleep On Planes” invites us to do just that: to embrace one another. We are all unique and different, yet we are in it together.

I invite you to read “Don’t Sleep on Planes,” to meet Hall at PIE 2018 and, this year, to make a resolution you can keep. Take a flight with it into infinite possibilities and, hopefully, a kinder, happier and connected world.

Astrid Ambroziak, Editor of Parking Today Media’s website, at


Editor’s note: Zach Hall will open next month’s Parking Industry Exhibition 2018 by telling his audience about the “Art of Talking to Strangers.” Hall, who recently published his first book, “Don’t Sleep on Planes” (Jones Media Publishing), is traveling the world entertaining and igniting conferences, educating attendees on why you shouldn’t sleep on planes.

His PIE 2018 audience can look forward to learning more about why “you can never know too many people,” “how to grow your networks together,” “not being a jerk,” “the value of following up,” and “how to embrace your MASK (Mindset, Attitude, Sense and Knowledge).”

At the end of his keynote, attendees will walk away entertained, inspired and ready to make new connections.

For full information on PIE 2018, log on to

Article contributed by:
Astrid Ambroziak
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