personal story Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
wheels

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around. I was regaling my wife with a personal story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college. It was about how having a strong network can always help you in difficult situations. At the end of the story, she said, “You have to write about this “Wheels” experience!” So, here it is.

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I grew up in a very working-class environment early in my life. It was roughly 1975, working on my bachelor’s degree while I was employed at a hardware store in South El Monte, California. Now, you have to understand that South El Monte was a pretty tough neighborhood. We had a fair number of gangs active in the area.

We closed the store one evening around 7:00 p.m. It took about 30 minutes to close all the registers and leave the store. In that 30-minute period, a lot could happen in that particular neighborhood. Around 7:30 p.m., we walked out of the store and found one of the employee’s cars sitting in the parking lot. It was literally propped up on blocks. Someone had stolen all four of my co-worker’s “awesome” wheels and left the car on four concrete blocks where it sat, waiting for him when he got off work. Clearly, he was apoplectic when we walked out. He went absolutely crazy!

What’s amazing to me was that one of the employees who lived locally said to the other employee, “Calm down, relax and give me a while. I’ll make a call and see what I can do. Go back into the store and wait. I’ll let you know when to come back out.”

Within an hour, he came in and said it was OK to come back out. We went back into the parking lot, and lo and behold, there was his car with the wheels. They were re-installed, bright shiny rims and all — good as new!

It turns out that the local employee had friends in the gang that was known for heisting awesome wheels off cars. He simply made a call to one of the members he knew well (to clarify, he wasn’t in the gang, but he “knew people” in the gang). All it took to have the wheels returned was one phone call to that one gang member he knew well. I was about 18 years old, and I think this was one of the first really powerful lessons I experienced about the value of  an important tenet in networking.

Knowing the right people

This unfortunate story in my youth taught me the importance of knowing the right people. It helped me to learn that it’s not what you know — or who you know, it’s how well you know each other that counts.

Communication

What a Brigadier General Taught Me About Communication

I recently received an email from someone I didn’t know.  His email could only be described as “War and Peace!”  The original printing of the book War and Peace was 1,225 pages long.  His message felt like that to me.  It was long.  It was so long, I sent it back to him and told him this story about communication:

One of the best lessons in communication I received as a young man was given to me by a retired Brigadier General who taught in the Doctoral program at USC.  He was an amazing professor who always shared the most incredible stories and taught valuable lessons.

The course was “Management Theory.”  He asked us to write a ten-page paper on a specific topic relating to management and to turn it in within the next two weeks.  There were only twelve students in the class and we all dutifully showed up with the paper in hand two weeks later.  He collected all of our papers and sat down at his desk in front of the class. After skimming through all 12 submissions, he stood up, and handed them all back to us!  He then told us to come back with a five-page paper on the same topic.  He told us to take out all the fluff and get to the heart of the issue and turn it in next week.

We were furious – but we did it.  The next week we came back with the five-page papers.  He then went through the same routine, handed them all back and said, “You can cut more. Make it two pages and turn it in next week!”  As you might guess, we were incredulous… and we did as we were told.

We came back the following week with our two-page paper.  As you might guess – he looked at them and gave them back one last time and said, “Now, make it one page and bring it back next week along with your original ten-page paper.”  We were beyond annoyed, but we did as we were told.

We all came back the next week and turned in both papers.  He then shared one of the most valuable lessons of my academic training.  He said, “During your career, you will be working for people who are incredibly busy.  They may ask you for a report on an important topic for the company. They may not have the time to read your long-drawn out papers going through detailed minutiae covering your brilliant recommendations” (I think that might have been sarcasm).  He went on to say, “If you can learn to de-obfuscate your writing and boil things down into a simple, easy to digest document – busy people will respond better your work.”  He said, “Always create an Executive Summary that bullet points the critical findings, recommendations, or advice.  Put that at the front of your longer report.  This will give the boss a chance to get an overview of the issue and then allow him or her to go deeper into your findings from the full report.”  He also suggested that your summary bullet points make reference to the relevant page or pages that this issue was covered in the full report.

That was incredible advice that has served me well over the years.  Your communication doesn’t have to be War and Peace to be effective.  Heck, the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long (yes, shorter than this blog, I know).

This was a great lesson for me.  I hope you find it to be a great lesson for you as well.

 

greatest asset

How talking too much in class turned into my greatest asset

Those tendencies standing “in your way” can be “the way”‘ to success and can become your greatest asset. When I was in elementary school, I generally received good reports from my teachers. However, one thing that came up time and time again was a comment by almost all of my teachers: “Ivan talks too much in class.”

My mother had numerous conversations with me about this but to no avail. I figure that she thought my grades were pretty good and she generally liked to pick and choose her battles on issues. Consequently, she didn’t really push the matter, and so… I talked and talked and talked in class. It showed up on many of my report cards. My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. On the other hand, my mother didn’t give me much grief on the subject.

My Greatest Asset

My talking too much in class was thought of as a roadblock by my teachers. Candidly, at one point, they almost had me convinced that it was a problem. My mother — not so much. She didn’t see my talking as such a big issue and that gave me the freedom to be myself. True, I had to tone it down a bit — but it wasn’t drummed out of me. I am grateful for that because, despite the fact that some people thought that talking was blocking my way, the truth is — it would eventually become “the way” for my life.

While the teachers definitely felt that it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up becoming an incredible asset. I talk a lot. I talk to individuals, small groups, middle size groups, large groups, and massive groups. Any way you cut it — I’m a talker. It is my greatest asset. My job today is to talk to people. In fact, I get paid to talk. I get paid a crazy number to talk to companies, associations, and organizations. I love to share ideas with people, I love to coach people, and most of all I love to inspire people. And to do that — I talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that oftentimes, What is in the way, becomes the way”.  

I believe the secret is to take the thing that is “in the way” and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution. I have noticed that my wife, Elisabeth, has been able to channel what was in the way for her as a child and how powerfully that has served her. She was constantly being told that she was “too rebellious.” She had a very hard time doing things she was told she had to do just because an authority figure in life told her she must do them. Now when she was faced with a medical diagnosis and told by her medical doctor that there was only one path, her strong “rebellious” nature found another, more effective and gentle healing path. What was in her way has become her way!

Some of us do this unconsciously. However, imagine how impactful this paradigm could be if we were more conscious of it at work in our lives. I would encourage you to think about something you were told was “in the way” as part of your life? Has it “become the way” for you and your greatest asset? If so, how? For me — of the first things in my life that were in the way was that I talked too much in class. Looking back, I’d have to say it worked out pretty well. 

‘No-Win’ Scenario

How I Approach The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

When I was an undergraduate in college, I needed to take one more “lab class” (a course that gives hands-on experience related to the topic). I’d taken lab classes in science and the only lab courses left according to my counselor was a lab class in mathematics. Now, I did fine with basic mathematics but the higher-level courses in Algebra and Geometry were just not my passion. OK, full disclosure, I hated those courses. So, when my counselor said that was the only choice left – I went on a quest, a quest to go through every single page of the course catalog for every single department throughout the University (except the Math department), to find any other class with a lab that I hadn’t already taken. I felt like it was a ‘No-Win’ scenario.

After a painstaking search through the huge catalog, I found one course that fit the bill. It was a course in the Hotel and Restaurant Management School at the University. The course was in Enology (the study of wines). The lab part was – wine tasting! Now, you might think that I was excited at first but the truth is – I hated wine. I really didn’t like it. The only thing is, I hated math more than I hated wine so – Enology it was!

I took this revelation to my department counselor and he said – “No! you can’t take that as your lab!” I said “Why not? It is a lab and it meets all the university requirements for me to complete my degree?” He said, “because it’s unheard of to use that as a lab in this department.” I then said, “But is it prohibited? Where in the department requirements does it say that it can’t be used?” He cocked his head and looked at me over the top of his glasses and said, “alright Misner, give me the paper, I’ll sign it and get out of here.” I smiled and said, “Thank you very much professor,” and walked out with the paperwork to complete my Enology wine lab.

At that moment, I had no idea that the course I was taking would become a life-long passion. Remember, I didn’t really like wine back then. The course was much more difficult than students thought it would be. We had an almost 40% drop out rate for the class because it wasn’t just about “tasting” wines. It was about the wine industry and wine regulations so the tests were pretty tough. The tasting was only a part of the class. Today, it is a passion for me. I built out a cellar at my home in Austin (pictured here) that will hold 1,600 bottles (it’s not full – yet but I’m working on it) and I just started working on a Sommelier Certification just for fun. This path all began because I didn’t believe in the “No-Win scenario” as the only possibility relating to a challenge.

The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

I share this story with you because I truly believe that there are ‘almost’ always options to a no-win situation if you work hard to find alternative solutions (maybe even push the envelope a bit). For the Star Trek nerds out there – I’d like to think I’d pass the Kobayashi Maru simulation (the no-win scenario mentioned several times Star Trek).

What no-win situation have you been confronted with and how did you find a solution? I’d love for you to share it here.

Fear of Rejection

The Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection is a powerful driver in most people’s lives. It dictates what we take risks on, it makes us hold back, and it even hinders us from reaching our potential.

The fear of rejection is an emotion that many of us carry in our personal lives, but it can very easily seep into our professional one as well. We all come to that nexus point in our lives: we can do something, or we can do nothing. The fear of rejection almost held me back from promoting my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, because I was worried some bookstores wouldn’t want to carry my book. But you know what I realized?

Some will, some won’t–so what?

Watch the video below for more on conquering the fear of rejection.

Only taking the risk could result in success. 

Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from doing what you are excited about. If you are excited about your business, don’t let rejection stop you. You have to just know that when it comes to asking somebody to do something; some will, some won’t, so what?  It’s not the end of the world.  For me, I just had to put myself in the frame of mind that what I was facing was simply not that big a thing. I now do this same thing whenever I’m faced with a situation which opens up the possibility for rejection.  I just tell myself that if someone doesn’t want to do what I’m asking, that’s fine. It’s not that big a deal.

What’s in the Way Becomes the Way

What’s in the Way Becomes the Way

When I was a child, my teachers all had the same complaint: “Ivan talks too much.” What my teachers saw as a problem ended up being an advantage. My job is to talk to people, and I am paid well to “talk too much”. I was able to take what was in the way and turn it around. It now becomes the way.

My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t give me too much grief on the subject. While the teachers generally thought it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up cutting an incredible passion: I love to talk.

The secret here is to take the thing that’s in the way and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution.

Please watch this video:

In 1985, I had a massive thing in his way. I had lost a client and could hardly manage to pay the mortgage, so I started a referral group to help myself and my friends generate more referrals in a structured way. That group became BNI, bringing success not just to me, but to thousands of business owners around the world.

Successful people know how to focus on a roadblock and turn it into an overpass. I think the secret here for anyone is to take the thing that is in the way and channel your efforts in a way that makes the problem part of the solution. What are your achievements?

To learn more, listen to BNI Podcast #564

Episode 564: What’s in the Way Becomes the Way

What’s been in your way that you’ve turned into an advantage? If something is in your way now, how do you plan to channel it? Share your experiences in the comments.

Net-Sit

It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Network

I came up with this phrase, “It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Network”, back in 1985 when I went to a business mixer and witnessed virtually everyone either sitting around the edges of the room or standing around eating and drinking.  Almost no one was actually networking. It struck me like a bolt of lightning that this was supposed to be a “networking” event but people were just eating and drinking (especially the later)! As a result, the first mixer that I personally organized, I went to a printer and printed up this phrase on little signs and put them all around the room to remind people why they were there.

I also came up with the original version of the 10 Commandments of Networking which I printed and posted around the room.

The 10 Commandments of Networking

  1. Have the tools to network with you at all times (card holder, badge cards, etc.).
  2. Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet.
  3. Act like a host, not a guest.
  4. Listen and ask questions.
  5. Don’t try to sell to them.
  6. Give referrals whenever possible.
  7. Exchange business cards.
  8. Manage your time efficiently.
  9. Write notes about your conversation.
  10. Follow up!

One last thing I did before the event got fully underway was to tell everyone that it’s ok to come to a networking event with someone you know or a co-worker; just don’t hang around with that person.

What a difference in networking events.  By just giving a little guidance to the participants, the event was much more successful than the ones I’d seen in the past. So GET UP, get off your phones and network.

Mistakes

Why Make All the Mistakes, When We Can Learn from Others?

There are “tried-and–true” networking techniques that are so simplistic they seem that they cannot be really effective.  Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon and complicate them.  Why make all the mistakes, when we can learn from others? An experience I had once while on vacation reminds me of how we try to make some things harder than they really are.

I was in Hawaii enjoying the surf when, unbeknownst to me, the water became thick with Portuguese Man O’War jellyfish.  Suddenly I felt a stinging sensation across my chest.  I wiped my chest with my right wrist and arm and lifted my arm up out of the water.  I saw the tentacles dripping off my arm and followed them with my eyes about 8 feet away to the body of the Man O’War jellyfish.   With mounting alarm, I shook the tentacles off my wrist back into the water and quickly swam out of the surf to the shore.

I ran up to the first hotel employee I saw, a cabana boy, who was serving drinks to a sunbathing couple just off the pool deck and urgently exclaimed, “I think I’ve just been hit in the chest by a Man O’War jellyfish!  What should I do??”

“Are you feeling any pressure in your chest?” he wanted to know.

“No, none at all,” I replied anxiously.

“Okay, okay, here’s what you need to do.  Go on over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer.  You’re going to want to spray the vinegar onto your chest. Shake the meat tenderizer onto the same spot and rub it all around.  You’ll be fine,” he assured me.

Well, I must say that I was less than impressed with this bizarre advice.  He was entirely too calm and that was entirely too easy to be a real solution – not to mention that it was just plain strange.  I figured he was doing a version of “let’s goof on the tourist,” so I moved on to ask someone else for help.

I spotted a hotel employee standing not too far off and gingerly jogged over to him, urgently repeating my exclamation, “I’ve just been hit in the chest by a Man O’War jellyfish; what should I do?!”

He said, “Are you feeling any pressure in your chest?”  Oh boy, I thought, next he’s going to tell me to get some meat tenderizer!  I thought he was kidding, or maybe I was in a bad dream and just couldn’t wake up.

“No, I’m not feeling any pressure in my chest,” I reluctantly responded.

“Okay, then go over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer.  You have to get that on your chest and rub it around and then you’ll be just fine,” he said reassuring.  I felt anything but reassured.

By this time, I thought that maybe I better find someone who might really know what to do.  I headed up to the lobby, thinking that the hotel manager would be a good choice to get a straight answer from.

There at the front desk was a mature gentleman wearing a badge that read: “Hotel Manager.”  Surely, I thought, this guy’s not going to “goof on the tourist.”  I walked up to him and repeated my mantra about the jellyfish strike.  He looked at me with grave concern and said, “Are you feeling any pressure in your chest.”  “No,” I replied, “I’m not feeling any chest pain.”  “OK, good,” he said.  “You need to go down the hall to the small market and get some vinegar and meat tenderizer and put them on one at a time and rub them thoroughly into your chest.”

Finally, I said what I’d been thinking all along… “You can’t be serious, right?”  This is a joke, right?”  “No,” he reassured me this was not a joking matter.  “You need to proceed to the store immediately and apply the remedy.”

Reluctantly, I headed down the hall to the store just knowing that they were all back there laughing at the goofy tourist who was actually going to do a self-imposed “meat rub” on his chest.  I was sure they had some barbecue grill going for when I returned to the lobby all slathered up with vinegar and meat tenderizer.

Entering the small market off the lobby, I  started my search for char-grilled products when I started feeling short of breath.  Suddenly, very quickly and forcefully, I began to experience a crushing weight on my chest.  Was I having a heart attack?  Great!  I’m having a coronary after wasting so much time talking to members of the hotel staff, who were trying to get me to rub meat tenderizer on my chest.  I walked out of the store and staggered to the front desk, which by now was very busy with new guests checking in to the hotel.  I made eye contact with the hotel manager and almost immediately, dropped to the ground, clutching my chest, barely able to gasp “Man O’War!”

What happened next was a total blur.  I seem to remember a small child yelling and pointing at me as I lay there in my bathing suit, gasping for breath.

“Look mommy, there’s a man on the floor.”  The mother said something about staying away from people who do drugs.  I looked over and tried to say no, not drugs – jellyfish! But all that came out was gibberish.

The paramedics rushed to the scene.  Finally, I will be receiving the medical attention I needed. After determining what had happened, the paramedic opened his life-saving kit and I knew he was about to pull out a defibrillator.  I made my peace with God and I braced myself for the big jolt.  Instead, he pulled out – yes, you guessed it – vinegar in a spray bottle and some Adolf’s meat tenderizer!  He then proceeded to spray the vinegar and then sprinkle the meat tenderizer on my chest, and thoroughly rub the mixture around.  Within seconds, literally seconds, the excruciating pain began to subside.  Within a couple minutes, it was almost completely gone.

What I thought was a big “barbeque joke” on the tourist turns out to be a well-known cure for some jellyfish strikes.  You see, the meat tenderizer contains the enzyme papain, which breaks down the toxin proteins and neutralizes them.  It sounds too simple to be really effective, but it is, in fact, one of the best things to do in that situation.

Thinking back on it, I am amazed at how many people gave me the solution before I had to learn the hard way.  Sure, who’s going to believe a cabana boy?  I mean, what does he know, right?  And the hotel employee – OK, maybe there’s the start of a pattern here but, I have a doctoral degree – I’m “smart,” and these guys have just got to be kidding me… right?  And then the hotel manager as well… OK, I admit it, at that point, there’s just no excuse.  Why did I not figure out these guys knew what they were talking about and I did not?

Do not make one of the biggest mistakes that people in business make. Listen to the people who have experience.  I assumed that I just had to know better… and the truth is, I didn’t know better.

There is nothing like experience.  It beats education every day of the week.  The only thing better is a combination of education and experience… or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience. There are many basic referral marketing and networking techniques that any good businessperson knows to be effective.  They don’t try to look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as the experience of others, what works in business and what doesn’t work in business.

Throughout your life, you may read things that seem too simple to be effective. Ideas that you’ve heard before.  Don’t dismiss them.  Embrace them.  Although these ideas may be simple – they are not easy.  If it they were easy, everyone would do them – and they don’t!  Great networkers learn from other people’s success.  So, go get that vinegar and meat tenderizer and learn from other “masters” that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

BNI is 33 years old TODAY!

BNI® is 33 years old Today!

BNI is 33 years old TODAY! The official kick-off of the first BNI group was January 8th, 1985.

33 years ago, I put together about 20 people in a small coffee shop in Arcadia, California for the very first meeting of BNI® (Business Network International).  Furthermore, the original organization, “The Network”, was run from a small bedroom which was converted into an office inside my house in La Verne, California. I recognized back then that I had struck a chord within the business community.  We don’t teach networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world, and business people are hungry for referrals. They simply had no viable way to generate them regularly back in 1985.

In some ways, it seems like yesterday.

BNI is 33 years old Today!

Please watch my special 33rd birthday message video by clicking here.

In light of BNI’s 33rd anniversary, I share the story of BNI’s surprisingly accidental beginnings. Furthermore, I open up about my astonishment at just how successful BNI has become. A must-watch video for BNI members worldwide!

What are you going to do today, that your future self will thank you for?

Please answer this question in the comments below.

christmas

Merry Misner Christmas

I hope you take a few minutes to watch and enjoy this video. I shared a fond memory from one specific Christmas in the Misner family that really stands out in my mind. When I watch this video, it makes me shake my head and smile all at once.  I really had fun recording this. I got to reminisce a bit and furthermore reflect on the joys, the stresses, and all the wonderful, challenging, unforgettable, and irreplaceable memories that are made each year by families around the globe during the holiday season.

A Merry Misner Christmas Video

With this video, I’m taking a break from my regular educational business/referral marketing videos. I’m taking a few minutes to spread some holiday cheer and wish a very Merry Christmas to those around the globe who take part in observing Christmas Day.

On behalf of Beth, myself and the entire Misner family, we wish you a Christmas full of joy and hope. May your heart be filled with the joy of giving. It is the “Givers Gain” expression of the love in your heart and the kindness in your soul.

I hope this video stirs up some great holiday memories for you and if you’d like to share any of your standout funny, heartwarming, entertaining or unforgettable family holiday-time stories, I’d love to hear them–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Merry Christmas to all from the Misner family!

quality

While Quantity is Important, Quality is King in Networking

The more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case.  Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.

Networking is not a numbers game.  It’s more like a people puzzle.  It’s about building relationships with the close people in your network.  That means that it’s about finding ways to interconnect the relationships you have to build a powerful personal network.  In order to do that – you actually have to have a fair number of quality relationships in that sea of contacts.

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful.

Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep.  That is, you need to have a wide set of contacts but some of those need to be connections that go deep.  Therefore, the quality of your network is just as important, if not more important than the quantity of your network.  This doesn’t mean that quantity isn’t important.  It is important.  The thing is that a small network of quality people limits your success.  However, a large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful, personal network.

It is a little like your left hand and your right hand.  Both are really important. But one is generally stronger, more powerful, and generally used more than the other. You can’t accomplish what you want as easily without both.  However, one is the stronger hand.  This is similar to the quantity vs. quality argument in networking.

Click here to listen to a personal story about this comparison

I believe that it is NOT, what you know, or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.

Strong relationships take simple “contacts” and turn them into powerful “connections.”  It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers.  What really matters is if I can pick up the phone and ask some of them for a favor and they take my call then are willing to do that favor.

Who's In Your Story

Who’s In Your Story?

I share a personal story about someone who has impacted my life, my high school football coach, Art Hiett.

Click here to watch this video

Who’s In Your Story?

A BNI Foundation-USA Video Contest!

WHO: When you were growing up, did you have an adult (teacher, coach, mentor, NOT immediate family) who significantly influenced your life? Then, we at the BNI Foundation want to hear from YOU!
 
WHY: We want you to share your story with us so we can share it with the world so people will see and hear the huge impact that adults can have on kids!
 
WHAT: So, tell us in a 1 minute or less video, about the person who inspired you, possibly even changed the trajectory of your life when you were between age 6 and graduating from high school. We especially welcome stories in which a small gesture or action made a big difference, showing how easy it can be to help our youth, without always spending a ton of time over many years. It does NOT need to be professionally filmed or edited. Just grab your phone and press record.
 
WHEN: May 18 – June 15, 2017
 
WHERE: U.S., Email your video contest submissions to: marketing@bnifoundation.org
 
– Subject Line should read: Who’s In Your Story? Video Contest
– Email should include:
  • Name
  • Location
  • Video (1 minute or less) embedded or attached
  • Link to Google Docs/Drive platform for downloading video
 
HOW: (RULES): All submissions must:
– Be NO more than 1 minute long
– State, at start of video, your name & location (city & state)
– Be received by 11:59 pm (Eastern Time) on June 15, 2017
– Be a spoken testimonial of how this special person positively influenced your life
– Include a signed photo release consent form (downloadable here)
 
BONUS WHY: (PRIZES): 3 Overall Winners
– 1st prize – 2 days in Austin, TX for winner + 1 guest (1 day to be spent with Ivan & Beth Misner), including airfare and hotel!
– 2nd prize – $75 Amazon Gift Card
– 3rd prize – $50 Amazon Gift Card

 

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