Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. He will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”
Nisandeh Neta has been living with the license of a higher order of being for quite a while now. He’s been called the Tony Robbins of Europe. He’s brought the principles of his own success-those principles and universal laws that Henry David Thoreau was talking about-to tens of thousands of people throughout Europe and the world.
Nisandeh is the founder of Open Circles Academy, a personal-development and leadership-training company based in the Netherlands. Since 1995, over 75,000 people have come from all over Europe to attend his life-changing seminars and learn his principles of personal and professional success. Nisandeh has published three books and hundreds of articles on creating success and happiness.
His latest book, Elements of Success, was endorsed by many of the world’s top authorities on success, including Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Brian Tracy, author of The Psychology of Achievement. Nisandeh is one of the most exciting presenters in his field. His high-energy, cut-to-the-chase, yet heartfelt style keeps audiences captivated.
He teaches using breakthrough techniques and experiential accelerated learning technologies so that participants learn faster, remember more, and achieve maximum results. Before entering the self-help field, Nisandeh founded and ran six other companies specializing in software development and Internet marketing. He founded and ran his first software company when he was only 19, and he has gone on to achieve success after success since then.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Nisandeh, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us tonight.
NISANDEH NETA: Thank you. I’m honored to be with you tonight.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: We appreciate it. We know that you’re staying up a little bit late to be with us, and we’re so grateful for you doing that. If you’re ready, let’s plunge right in. What do you say?
NISANDEH NETA: All right.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Nisandeh, will you begin by first sharing with us what role your passions, the things that you care most about, have played in your life and in your success?
NISANDEH NETA: I would say that passion was the fuel in my life in everything that I did since I was very young, since I can remember. I can remember since I was 15 or 16 finally realizing that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, that I wanted to become a vegetarian. From one day to another, that became my passion. I decided that I would be a vegetarian, and I’ve stayed a vegetarian since then.
For example, I grew up in Israel, which is a country where every young person, whether boy or girl, at the age of 18 goes into the army and serves there for two or three years. When I reached the age, I was a pacifist. I didn’t believe in violence; I didn’t believe in serving in the army. I refused to go. Israel is not the easiest country, at least at that time it wasn’t the easiest country, to refuse serving in the army on the basis of consciousness.
This was so strong for me that I was not willing to play that game. I was actually fighting the system for quite a few years, until I was the first person in Israel to be released from the army for reasons of consciousness.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s incredible, actually. It’s quite amazing. In the US they call it a conscientious objector. You were released from the Israeli Army on that basis?
NISANDEH NETA: Yes, I was the first one. Today, I think there are more using my case; but basically it wasn’t available at that time, getting out of the army on the basis of health or mental health unless you were considered a koo-koo. They offered me the option, but I refused. I said, “No, I’m willing to serve my country in a different way, but not in the army.” Because there was no option for that, in the end they were willing to release me.
I was so passionate about it after I won the legal battle with the army. Although I could have just stayed happily at home doing my thing, I decided to spend a few years actually spreading the word to make sure that a lot of other men and women my age would know that there is a way; if that’s important to them, there is a way to do that.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Before you go on with your story, Nisandeh, can I just ask you something? One of the things that is clear from what you’ve shared with us so far is that you had to be very, very committed. To be the first one who had ever done this in the Israeli Army you had to be willing to put up, I’m sure, with a lot of emotions, shall we say, both within and without.
I know from some of the interviews that we’ve done with others in the past, successful people often say that they had to be willing to do what they believed in, no matter what anyone else thought, no matter what anybody else said. It sounds like that was your experience.
NISANDEH NETA: Absolutely. Probably throughout our conversation, you’ll hear from me again and again that you need to do whatever it takes. If you want to be really successful in whatever it is that you’re doing-and it really doesn’t matter from my point of view-you need to do whatever it takes. At that time in Israel I was willing to do that. The only possibility I was offered at that time was if I wasn’t going to go to the army, then I could serve in a military jail for three years, which wasn’t an attractive proposition at that time.
I was 18 with long hair and I was pretty slim. No, that wasn’t what I would have preferred. As soon as I got the courage and the commitment to say, “If that’s what it takes, then I will do that,” then everything kind of solved itself. The whole legal battle became much easier and faster. Actually, within a year I won.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: What it sounds like is that at the point you were willing to accept whatever the consequences were, then suddenly it got easier. That’s amazing. Please continue. This is a great story.
NISANDEH NETA: This was just one example. You were talking about emotions from within and without. Within, I was very strong about it. Of course, there were my family, my friends, and the people around me. It used to be a very patriotic country. Everybody goes to the army because you serve your country. My parents, who came to Israel as immigrants 20 years before, came because they believed in the cause.
They couldn’t accept it, and many of my friends couldn’t accept it, but that’s part of doing whatever it takes. I had a passion at that time, when I was 18, for computers for a few years, although I didn’t have a lot of computers at that time. It had just started, the PCs, at that time. I had a lot of passion for that, for what they can do and what they can give, especially for children at that time. I started my own software company when I was 19, and I was working 24/7 enjoying everything I was doing.
I wasn’t making lots of money at the beginning, but I didn’t care. It just didn’t matter. I think that’s one of the things about passion that is so important for me, and that I can still see today in whatever I do. When I’m teaching people or when I work with computers or on my marketing, I just can’t believe people are actually paying me for what I’m paid to do. I am paid to teach people the way I’m teaching today, standing in front of groups.
Then, 20 years ago, it was to do the software that I used to program at the time; people would pay me. I would just think, “What’s going on here?” I think this is the role that passion had in my life and still does today.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s fabulous. It’s such an inspiring story. How did you get started, and what was it that inspired you to found the Open Circles Academy? How did you go from software development into developing this whole curriculum of teaching, seminar programs, and now books and everything?
NISANDEH NETA: It’s an interesting story, but I will go a little bit backwards, if you don’t mind, and start it from where it actually started. I’ll try to keep it short. When I was 10 years old I had this dream. I wanted to have a computer company; that was my dream when I was 10 years old. When I was 10 years old, that was 30 years ago. In Israel, at least, we didn’t have computers really.
The PC was not yet there, and the only computers I knew about were from the science fiction books I was reading, but it was fascinating to me. I knew that when I grew up, that’s what I wanted to do. When I was 18, almost 19, I started my first software company. I actually took a dream-I was dreaming about it pretty much every day and night for eight or nine years-and I made it happen in reality.
It started pretty slowly, but at one point it picked up and we became the biggest company in our field of educational software in our area. When I was 20, we started to see some money. I decided I had a new dream, and I wanted to become a millionaire before I was 30; that was my dream at that time. I didn’t know what being a millionaire meant because I was coming from a very poor family.
In Israel in those times there were not a lot of people who were rich. For sure, I didn’t know them. All the information I had about rich people was from the movies and from the pictures I saw: the parties, traveling around the world and everything. In three years, I made my first million. I became a millionaire when I was 23 from this software company.
I remember that one day we came back from a meeting, my business partner and me, and at one point she was looking at me-I was driving-and she said, “You don’t really know the magic you have, right?” I was driving and looking at her. I said, “What kind of magic? What are you talking about?” She said, “Every time you set your mind on doing something, you make it happen.” I was looking at her and said, “So? Everybody does this, right?”
This sentence of hers got stuck in my mind; I forgot it for a few years, but it was there somehow. I made money, I lost money, I lost my company, I made some other companies, and at one point when I had nothing I decided to move out of Israel. I wanted to start a new life. I moved to Holland, together with my wife, and we started from nothing. I had nothing. I wanted to start something new.
I knew that I didn’t want to work anymore with computers, and I didn’t want to do any more marketing. I just wanted to work with people. I didn’t really know what that meant, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be more connected with people. The first year I was in Holland I didn’t know what to do, actually, because I didn’t want to work with computers or marketing. I didn’t know anybody; I didn’t know the language.
Then this sentence my partner said to me surfaced in my mind. I realized there is something I know how to do, and it seems that not everybody knows consciously how to do this. I know how to manifest my dreams. If I can put that into a simple explanation so people will be able to follow that, maybe that’s something I can give. That’s actually how Open Circles Academy started in 1995.
It was a simple course, one course, that was basically teaching how to take a dream and make it a reality within a short time and with the least effort possible. It took me years to develop a systematic way, what I call today the Recipe for Success, which is a system of how to achieve that and make it simple for people, make it practical, make it doable, packaging it into seminars, products and, finally, a book and everything.
Basically, though, I was teaching the same thing. My goal, my vision, was actually to help people, to empower people, to fulfill their own greatest potential. I’m looking around me and there are so many people who have this great potential and using nothing of it. It ticks me off; it just ticks me off to see how much we are wasting of our potential.
Open Circles Academy brought to life this dream, this vision, of empowering people to fulfill their potential so we can create a better world around us. Since then, that’s my main passion. My partner says I’m narrow-minded and that when I have one subject that I’m passionate about, that’s it; I don’t see anything else.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Do you think that that has something to do with why you’ve been so successful, that ability to focus like a laser so completely in one area?
NISANDEH NETA: I think that’s probably part of it. Of course, focus helps, but it’s not as much focus for me as it’s just that that’s where my passion is, that’s what I feel good about, that’s where I’m doing everything I’m doing during the day. I cannot sleep in the night because I’m still being busy with that, with a new idea, a new chapter for a book, or a new way to present ideas in a simpler way. It’s simmering in the same area, basically, 24/7.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: One of the things that you talked about, and I’d just like you, if you would, to expand on it a little bit, is you said that you first got a clear picture of what it is that you were going to create, and then you were able to bring it into manifestation. To what extent do you feel that that part-that aspect of being able to clearly see, to visualize, or to experience what it is that one has a passion to create-plays into one’s success?
NISANDEH NETA: That’s probably the most neglected part, today less so because, of course, the movie, “The Secret,” has popularized the idea big time. Until then it was the most neglected, the most unknown, part of creating success, although it was mentioned in every good personal-development book you can think of, like Think and Grow Rich, et cetera. For me, what I see today is if I can clarify my goals or my dreams, if I can see them in every single detail as if they are real, it happens so fast.
It happens with so little effort. The way I say it is that our minds cannot hold two pictures at the same time; so I can create in the present time a picture of reality as it is right now-I’m sitting here in my living room talking to you-but I can also see a very clear picture of my dream house on my own private island in the Caribbean where I’m sipping a margarita.
If I can see that in every detail as if it’s real, my unconscious mind does not know the difference. It will go to manifest the picture that is more exciting for me. The more details, the more excitement, the more emotions I can put into that picture, the faster and the easier it will be to achieve the success.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Would you say that your ability to do what you just described has been a key to your success, or is there something else?
NISANDEH NETA: The magic that my partner was talking about was that. I didn’t know, because I thought that everybody did it all the time. I didn’t know at the time that not everybody was sitting pretty much during the day and just visualizing their goals or their dreams, but that’s what I was doing. I can get today to a point where I don’t need to do this all the time. I can feel when what I call the message is communicated to the universe.
Now it’s got it, and I just need to wait for it to actually be manifested. The ability to be very, very clear and very, very strong with that intention, with that message to the universe, has been the key, I would say, in my success and in every one of my successes.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Looking back, you’ve had a very rich life. Is there one thing that you would point to and say, “This has been my greatest accomplishment”?
NISANDEH NETA: I can probably look at a few of those great accomplishments.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Would you share a few?
NISANDEH NETA: I will quickly share a couple of them. I have a daughter at home, and she’s now 11 years old. She’s one of my greatest accomplishments in a sense. I don’t know what I did there, but it’s not bringing her into the world as much as allowing her or raising her to be the person she is. I cannot take the credit for that, because she chose me. She did a very good job on me, so it’s a co-creation.
I’m very proud in the way that I raised her, what I could give her, which is very different from the way that I grew up or what I learned from the people around me. It’s the same thing I can say about my relationship. We are together now for more than 15 years, and we are both very powerful, very strong-headed, very stubborn people who don’t necessarily have the same points of view about everything. Still, we’re working together. We’re living together.
We’re having 24-hour-a-day contact. We’re in the same room, basically, and still the relationship just grows every day. Again, I cannot take all the credit to myself, because I’m just a passenger there who enjoys the ride. I would say that if I needed to think of an accomplishment I actually created and was proud of for my part in it, I think it would be this. In the last, probably, 12 or 13 years, what I contributed to the world, basically if I were to die today, I would feel that I left the world a little bit better.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: What a great thing.
NISANDEH NETA: I think so. It gives this certain feeling of peace. I did my thing. Every day that I have extra, I can be grateful for the gift. That’s a good feeling. That’s what I do every single day or almost every single day, so that’s a very good feeling. I go to sleep feeling good about myself. I would say that this is one of my greatest accomplishments.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: I would say that’s a huge accomplishment. Studies tell us that not more than 15% or 20% of the people in the world actually feel anywhere close to that. Most people don’t, it seems, so that’s a great accomplishment. We’ve talked about your passions and how they led you through this very interesting journey that you’ve been on. Your latest book is called Elements of Success.
As we mentioned in the introduction, people like Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy, some of the top people in the personal-development business field, have given testimonials about your book. To what extent is passion important? To what extent does it affect a person’s ability to be successful?
NISANDEH NETA: I have a term that I’ve said, and it’s one of the things that you need in order to be able to succeed. You need to have a compelling ‘why’, a very, very good reason why you want that specific dream, specific goal, specific wish that you have. The subject of my book is Elements of Success, and the subtitle is Turn Your Wishes into Reality. One of the main things that we all need in order to turn those wishes into reality is a compelling ‘why’.
I ask you what you really want and you tell me, “I would like to have a boat.” I ask, “Is it really important to you?” and you say, “No, not really,” then your chances to achieve it are much less than if you had a really strong, compelling ‘why’. For example, I had asthma for about 20 years, heavy asthma, since I was a kid. My father had asthma, my grandmother died from an asthma attack, so I knew that I would have asthma for the rest of my life.
At one point, I was in India; I was in a celebration in an ashram, and I was dancing ecstatically in the middle of a monsoon time, which is not good for asthma people usually, with all the humidity. I got the worst attack of my life. I actually went out of the ashram and I crawled, literally on my knees, to the nearest hospital, which was 100 yards down the road. When I came there, basically there was nobody there except this guy with a brown shirt.
He didn’t look like a doctor or anything. He looked more like a gardener. He put me on the bed and took a syringe. He didn’t break any plastic, put it in the fire, or anything. He just took it from a drawer, put something in the syringe, and he injected it. I knew I was going to die; I just knew I was going to die from AIDS because this hospital was taking care of hundreds of AIDS people every single day.
I vowed to myself at that time, at that moment when I was sitting there on the bed, that if I would survive that night I would never have asthma again. Sure enough, 20 minutes later I felt better and I was sent home. I was going back to my apartment, and everything was fine. However, when I came back to Israel after that trip, I knew that I had to find a way to heal my asthma. It doesn’t matter right now how, but I found this short healing course, although I never believed that healing could work, on energy healing.
I was a very down-to-earth person, and I couldn’t believe that something like that worked, but I’d said that I would do whatever it took. I went and took it; at the end of three days I put one hand on the top of my head and the other one on my chest. It was after five minutes of intention, and that’s it. That was 13 or 15 years ago, and I don’t have asthma symptoms.
I had a very strong compelling ‘why’ about why I didn’t want to have asthma anymore in my life, and I think that’s what it took. This is not a nice place to come to manifest your dreams, from a point of ‘enough is enough’. I think that passion is a much more powerful force and much more positive in order to give us the compelling ‘why’. This is the fuel; the passion is the fuel that allows us to go on when it’s difficult.
Whatever your dream is, if it’s something that you don’t have yet, we will need to put some energy on that. There will be difficulties, there will be challenges, and there will be problems. If we don’t have a very good reason and a very positive fuel to take us beyond the challenges, we will just give up. Passion is that fuel; passion is that reason to go on, at least for me.
It also means, for me, this. We were talking a few minutes ago about visualizing our goals and our dreams. When I’m passionate about something, it’s just fun and enjoyable to sit and visualize. If you’re trying to visualize something that you’re not passionate about, it’s much more difficult. Taking action by visualizing all the parts that are important to create success is much easier and much more powerful when you’re passionate about it.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s a beautiful answer. Thank you. You said that humans can have anything we’re willing to create. Is it really possible for us to create anything that we can imagine? Are there limitations on that?
NISANDEH NETA: I don’t know right now when you say ‘humans’ if you’re talking about us as a species, as a collective, or as individual human beings, because those are a little bit different. I think that as a species, as a collective, we already proved that there are no limits for us. Every single year it comes faster and faster; we’re breaking more and more barriers that we thought were impossible. One hundred years ago, who would dream that we could actually fly?
There were people who were dreaming; there were people who were imagining that. Jules Verne, other authors, other people were dreaming about it, and now we can. We can put a man on the moon, and we can go further. All those barriers that we saw that that are impossible for us are breaking every single year now, it’s so fast. I guess you’re talking more about us as individuals.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It is about the individual, but as you’re speaking, many of us have been watching the Olympics recently with all this going on. It’s very fascinating to me that as we watch the Olympics, in many of the events that you see, whether in track, swimming, or whatever it may be, these people are breaking world records, creating new world records daily.
NISANDEH NETA: Absolutely. Some of them are. I’m not a big athlete, but I just heard that in the 100-meter race they thought that certain limits could not be broken, ever, because it’s beyond our capacity. Then it was just broken a few days ago.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Exactly. For many, many years, nobody thought it was possible to run a four-minute mile, and then-I don’t remember the athlete’s name; forgive me-someone ran the four-minute mile. Within a couple of months, something like eight or 10 more people had run a four-minute mile. Will you talk a little bit about this phenomenon? Obviously, there’s more going on here than apparent human limitations, right?
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