2005-05-20 / News

Magic of Mackinac Inspires Illinois Author

By Yiping Qian

Co-author of “That was Zen, This is Wow,” Russ Riendeau, PhD is a behavioral scientist and senior partner of The East Wing Search Group, a sales, marketing and management search firm based in Barrington, Illinois.
Co-author of “That was Zen, This is Wow,” Russ Riendeau, PhD is a behavioral scientist and senior partner of The East Wing Search Group, a sales, marketing and management search firm based in Barrington, Illinois.

Russell Riendeau recently co-authored the book, with Robert S. Engelman III, titled “That was Zen, This is Wow,” which introduces “232 ideas for transforming a person’s life from ordinary to extraordinary.” He acknowledges “a book of this nature is never born on an island of one or two minds” as a metaphor for the ambiance of Mackinac Island and its people, which inspired many of the ideas included in the book.

When Mr. Riendeau and his wife first visited the Island on their honeymoon in 1981 and saw the Straits of Mackinac’s “brilliant emerald blue water,” he was immediately inspired and knew he would have to come back.

It was well over a decade before Mr. Riendeau and his family, with the addition of a teenage son and daughter, came back to the Island and began making return trips. The time lapse however, has not diffused the Island’s magic, he said. Its natural beauty and serenity continues to inspire Mr. Riendeau and it has become a special place of reflection and revelation for him.

“The material and quotes in this book,” he said, “were, in many cases, written while [I was] sitting along the shores, riding or running around the Island, or simply walking down Main Street.”

While the rest of his family were bike riding around the Island, he remembers spending hours sitting on the white lawn chairs in front of Mission Point Resort, once again, overlooking the emerald blue waters and thinking about the value of working hard. It was here when he realized, after hours of contemplation, that people should not work hard for material possessions, rather they should work hard for personal and professional goals. Mr. Riendeau noted that the same amount of money that can be spent on a Prada purse can also be used for a weekend on the Island. In the end, he feels that a person will more clearly remember and appreciate a weekend getaway with the family than an expensive purse.

Mr. Riendeau cites his book’s idea #44, “Passions trump goals,” as the type of motto people should live by, which ultimately inspired him to purchase property on the Island.

He reflected, “I had a romantic notion of building a cottage on Mackinac Island. I would overhear comments by tourists saying that this place is so unique and so special in its simplicity.”

He, too, wished to become a part of the Island’s community and wanted the ability to absorb its ambiance whenever he desired.

“As opposed to a tourist,” he said, “when I walk down the street, I pick up garbage, even if it’s not mine.”

He has become a champion for the Island and this passion inspired him to continue working hard and earn enough money to purchase property on the Island.

Today, he is a proud property owner of a lot in Stonecliffe and hopes to one day transform the lot into a cottage. Mr. Riendeau’s computer screen saver at his office in Barrington is a photo that his daughter took of the Mackinac Island harbor, overlooking the emerald blue water that surrounds the island which inspired his book. He hopes that while reading “That was Zen, This is Wow,” readers will feel the magic of the Island and possibly be inspired to write a book of their own.

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