Category Archives: Quest Story

Quest Story: Pablo Neruda’s ‘Lamb and the Pinecone’

Born in Chile in 1904, Pablo Neruda was one of our most exuberantly generous modern poets. Here is a story of the power of small, unheralded giving to change the world. Pablo Neruda’s boyhood backyard was overgrown, and he spent many days exploring its small wild places. One afternoon, he discovered a hole in one of the boards of the fence separating his house from the one next door. Sensing something was about to happen, he stepped back. A small boy’s hand appeared and then disappeared again, leaving behind a small woolen toy lamb. Pablo looked through the hole for the boy, but he was gone. Moved by the gift, Neruda retrieved one of his most prized possessions from his house – a pine cone, “opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored.” He left it at the hole and went off to play with the sheep. That small incident had a profound effect on Neruda, and helped shape his gift to the world. He said that that incident was the first time he realized that all of humanity was somehow connected.

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Quest Story: What is a quest?

A quest is a journey toward a goal, an act of seeking – full of exertion and adventure. Some famous questors include: Don Quixote, Odysseus, King Arthur, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. When we read their stories, as well as those of modern business leaders, movie heroes, and famous literary characters, we discover many ways to re-invigorate ourselves. One way is to re-frame our daily work as a quest. We hope that each Quest Story presented here will provide inspiration for you. Each Quest Story highlights an individual, team, or group that embodies the ideals of the quest. Quests range from the famous to the unknown, historical to current, from the celebrated to the quiet. What’s your quest? If you know a person or group that is on an inspiring quest tell us and we may feature them (or you) in a future Quest Story.

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Boots Bootzin Quest Story

  Robert “Boots” Bootzin, also known as “Gypsy Boots” (1914-2004) Largely responsible for bringing healthy living, eating and the acceptance of organic foods to the American consciousness, Boots Bootzin embodied the Quixote ideal. His quest was for people to eat well, live well, laugh and be happy and he lived this quest fully in a wildly exuberant, zany style all his own. The inspiration for the Nat King Cole classic “Nature Boy”, Boots lived off the land for over a decade in a canyon outside of Palm Springs. He first gained national prominence when he got Groucho Marx’s seal of approval on You Bet Your Life. He appeared 25 times on the Steve Allen show in the 1960s to 20 million viewers, swooping in on a rope and getting Steve to try something organic or do exercises with him. He coined the term “smoothie” and ran the Health Hut, which was an inspiration for GiIligan’s Island. To celebrate his 50th birthday he ran 10 miles barefoot in 120 degree heat. He ran the LA Marathon when he was in his 80s. Here are some quotes from his appearance on You Bet Your Life and his autobiography The Gypsy In Me. “Watch what you eat. Exercise. Relax. Take Care of yourself. And be able to laugh. Laugh at life and enjoy it, remembering always to be tolerant of your fellow man, regardless of his beliefs and ideas.” “The important thing is not in what you do in life, it is in how you go about doing it.” “I’ve always tried to throw myself into something with everything I had.  I can’t way I’ve made much money, but I haven’t had an unhappy day.  This is more valuable than all the money in the world to me.” On living off the land: “Well, I lived there about 20 years, in caves and under trees and top of trees.” “Well, of course I didn’t have to pay any taxes living that way and I felt very healthy up there, I mean I had a lot of air, I like a lot of air.” “I ate wild berries and acorns and I climbed high fig trees and I’d eat sweet figs – I’d chase the birds away because they eat the sweetest.” “I ate sweet figs and grass – its good for your eyes, alfalfa – cows got good eyes, I want good eyes.” On meeting his wife: “I met my wife out in San Francisco beach and I was beach combing and she was practicing her ballet, so I always dreamed of being a Nijinsky, so I went into my dance and she got intrigued, so she decided to share the tree with me so we decided to get married – we’ve been happy ever since.” Did his wife live off the land too? “Well, she did for three months, but then afterwards the mosquitoes got her and peanuts, she got tired of peanuts and tired of climbing fig trees for her breakfast, so she said, I compromise and we got half of a house, I mean we got a little house, a little cottage, a room.” His occupation: “I’m a singing fruit peddler. I peddle figs and peanuts and the peaches in the desert, Bel Air, Beverly Hills and I sing and peddle fruit.” On the Nature Boys “We wanted to live as we wanted, but at the same time thought we could give others something to enjoy.  If we had any talent at all, it was in knowing how to enjoy life and, hopefully, spreading that joy a little bit.” Getting Married “Before the ceremony we celebrated on the courthouse lawn.  We drank carrot juice and sang and danced.  Gypsy Jean played ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ and the ‘Wedding March’ on the accordion.  Lois banged away on a tambourine.  And Charlie crashed away on a huge drum and rattled a bunch of ring bells.” The Health Hut (Inspiration for Gilligan’s Island) “Most of my customers were not celebrities.  I never refused anyone.  If someone came in and said, ‘I love your food, but I haven’t any money,’ I said that was all right, just put on an apron and help out tonight.  That is how I got all my help.” “I had two mottos at my health hut.  The first was ‘a good laff feeds the soul.’  I still feel that way.  We had fun every night and every day.  We had art shows, weight-lofting exhibitions, and sing-alongs (way before Mitch Miller).  The rule was anything goes, so long as the food was good and the customers had some fun.” “This is where my second motto came in.  I said the food and drink came ‘from tree to you.’” On the Steve Allen show “Usually I just tried to get Steve healthy.  I fed him lots of food – dates, nuts, alfalfa sprout sandwiches, carrot juice, everything you can imagine, and probably a few things you can’t imagine, things I dreamed up overnight.” “I did a lot of running around and yelling on Steve’s show, but underneath it all was a serious effort to promote health.”   Most quotes from: The Gypsy in Me! by Gypsy Boots (available used from Amazon) You Bet Your Life DVD Disc 2 – Episode #54-30: broadcast – April 7, 1955 Watch Gypsy Boots on You Bet Your Life here.

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Quest Story: drumSTRONG

drumSTRONG is the world’s longest continuous rhythm DRUM-A-THON. Produced by DrumsForCures, the event showcases cancer health resources and features non-stop drumming for 26 hours. “We are making a sound impression on the health complexion of our community beating cancer!” founder Scott Swimmer says. “It’s probably the hardest thing in the world to hear that your child has cancer” – Scott Swimmer, founder of the drumSTRONG event. In 2004, Scott Swimmer’s son Mason was diagnosed with cancer. After riding in Lance Armstrong’s 2006 Ride for the Roses, Scott and Mason came up with the idea of drumSTRONG on the plane ride home as an inclusive way of bringing a community of people together to support cancer survivorship, education and raise money for treatments and cures. People that may not be able to walk, run or ride a bike to raise money and awareness can still play a drum, they reasoned. Every year in May, people gather outside of Charlotte, North Carolina and drum together, soliciting for per hour drumming sponsorships to benefit local and national cancer initiatives. A young woman in the throes of cancer named Jennifer J. travelled to the 2008 drumSTRONG event from Austin, Texas with her nurse and 10-year old son. She loves music (especially the Beatles) and wanted her son to share this experience with her so that for the rest of his life whenever he heard rhythm he would think of her. It was a pivotal time for Jennifer, and inspired to her to take belly-dancing lessons and drum in full-moon drum circles on her return to Austin. She keeps a picture of the sunrise at drumSTRONG near her and told Scott, “This is what I wake up to and wake up for – to see the sun rise at drumSTRONG again.” Visit to learn how you can help. Quixote Consulting donates a portion of the fee from Bang On My Drum All Day to DrumsForCures.   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities: Bang On My Drum All Day – Get in sync with one another and drum up good business practices.

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Quest Story: ‘Our Love is Here To Stay’ By Rufus Collinson

‘Our Love is Here To Stay’ By Rufus Collinson One cold October afternoon several years ago, I accompanied Rob Fletcher, founder of Quixote Consulting, to a nursing home in Gloucester, MA where he was performing the music of Frank Sinatra for the residents. Standing before a group of nursing home residents and staff, he opened his performance with “Come Fly with Me.” As he crooned and strummed his guitar, I watched the room come to life. Nearly every person within those clinical walls began to sway and tap. From the very first line, they were transported. Some of the residents began to hum. I could actually see them remembering moments in their lives…moments that still had the power to bring a smile. And then something truly extraordinary happened.  The staff had wheeled in one woman, bed and all. She had been in a coma for several months, but they thought that she could hear. I watched her face as the songs filled the room. At first, she seemed frozen, nearly corpse-like. Somewhere, in the midst of “The Lady Is a Tramp,” I thought that I noticed the beginning of a smirk. It was just as Rob began to sing “Our Love Is Here to Stay” that the miracle happened. This woman who had been frozen in her bed, completely unresponsive for months, sat up!  The staff were in shock. They gasped and cried and went to her side. “Grace! Oh Grace,” they whispered. And then, Grace sat up straight and reached out…both arms stretching, stretching toward Rob as he moved in her direction, singing just to her now, “Our Love is here to stay.” I will never forget it. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s music team building and team development activities:  Give the Kids Music – Learn to play and build musical instruments and then give the gift of music to underserved children. Music of Teams – Music of Teams links music and the effective team and transforms your people into musicians of their work. Build a Team Song - Write, record and perform an amazing team theme song.  

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