Friday, June 28, 2013

My Picture on a Wanted Poster

I’m sure my picture is on a wanted poster in ant land.

Yesterday morning I awoke to a column of ants trudging with military precision from the outside of my side door, through the doorway, down a wall and onto the edge of my kitchen counter.

When I moved into this house two years ago I had ants and a friend turned me on to Andro, a liquid ant killer. Some of you use Terro and it’s the same thing.

You put a couple of drops on scraps of paper, leave them along the ants’ path, let them suck up the poison and take it back to the nest and it kills the queen and her minions.

(how cool is that, I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to use the word minions…you know, a servile low-life who scuttles along behind you agreeing with everything you say… ‘course, it would sure make life easier if we all had a few minions…I mean, I wouldn’t have had to put out the Andro myself, one of my minions would have done it for me…but, I digress)

I put the Andro out in the morning and when I returned home last night the ants were…gone. I don’t mean most of them were gone I mean all but two were history and I quickly ended their sad, lost little lives with a squish of finger and thumb!

I certainly understand that the survivors are probably plotting re-entry…or, at least they will be when they all return from the queen’s funeral. And what’s that like? A bunch of ants standing around crying with some on crutches and others coughing and wheezing from the Andro. Bet the teenage ants were texting like Alec Baldwin’s wife yesterday at James Gandofini’s funeral.

Dang, digressing again. Guess that’s the vacation talking.

Any…way. The ants are gone. I’m probably number three on the Ants’ Most Wanted List behind the inventors of Andro and Terro.

Next I have to figure out how to deal with the moles in the yard

Wonder if they are in cahoots with the ants?

Have a great weekend. If you are leaving town for The Fourth I have two words for you…Be Really Careful.

Wait. That’s three words.

Be Really Careful and Watch Out For….ok…that’s like six words.

Have fun. We love ya. See you Monday.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

If You Gave Me More Money....

Yesterday, I heard someone fire up the old comment, “If they gave me more money I’d be doing more work.”

I know it’s short-sighted on my part but whenever I hear that comment I want to offer, “Here’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out.”

So many folks think the world is based on Have-Be-Do. If I Have the money (or love or reputation or whatever reward you want to name) then I’ll Be what you or I want me to Be and then I’ll Do what you or I want me to Do.

But, life doesn’t work like that. You have to Do it first. And, I don’t mean just Do it once. In most cases you’ll need to Do it consistently over time to prove that you are who we or you want you to Be. Then, you’ll get to Have it.

Real life works on Do-Be-Have.

Now, I’ll admit that there are some bosses/companies/organizations/movements that will let you Do it forever and won’t want to give you the reward you deserve; they are users.

In those cases you get to make the choice of staying or moving on. 

The great thing about the choice is that you’ve proven you can Do it. And, not just Do it once, you’ve proven you can Do it consistently over time. You will Be someone who can be trusted, given more responsibility and deserves more rewards. 

You'll be in a stronger bargaining position.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Use Your Other Hand

Try this simple exercise: Take a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and sign your name as you normally do.

Now, under your signature, sign your name again with your non-dominant hand.

How’d if feel?

Tim Miles, author of Good Company, uses the exercises to show how awkward we feel in times of change. He says our habits “have carved out well-rutted neuro-pathways and (we) have no interest in climbing out of them.”

Try it again. Write your name with your non-dominant hand. Be aware of how hard you are concentrating this time. LOL!!! Almost all of us are totally focused on slowing down, writing more carefully, trying to make each letter readable.

That’s what trying to change can feel like and it feels like work.

That’s why it’s so difficult for most people.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Last night was the last program for this season.


Maybe you look at things differently, but I think the objective of a vacation is to HAVE a vacation, not turn it into a new kind of work.

How many people do you know who go on vacation and before the end of it they’re saying or thinking, “I need to get back to work so I can get some rest!”?

What’s your idea of a vacation? How can you have one?

Even a short vacation can improve your mental and physical health.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Time is Your Appointment?

When is your next appointment? Right now it’s 8:44 am on Monday, September 24.

Is your next appointment at 9 am?

Do you have an appointment for getting your hair done or cut, for working out, for lunch with a client or co-worker, for making sure you get to your kid’s soccer game?

Now…what about an appointment with yourself?

You should make an appointment with yourself a couple of times a week to simply think and plan. You can’t afford to let your career and life happen on the basis of luck and if you don’t make appointments with yourself to think and plan that’s exactly what will happen.

Sorry, gotta go. My appointment with me is in 12 minutes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

First Day of Summer

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of Summer.

I know when writing by the rules I’m not supposed to capitalize the word, Summer.

But, you know, when talking about Summer and what the word and spirit includes it’s one of those words that just begs to be capitalized.

So, whataya have on tap for this Summer? Headed to the Beach (there’s another one)? Taking a Vacation? Lots of Friends and Family time? Maybe just some serious Relaxation?

Love. Spirit. Beauty. Sex. Money. Working Out. Movies. Books. Reading. College Football. Salma Hayek. (I know, I know, but this is my list) Cold Beer. Cigars. Old T-Shirts. Boxer Shorts. Flip Flops. Writing.

Riding With All The Windows Down.

That’s my partial list of words important enough to be capitalized. What’s yours?

Remember when Summer meant fewer responsibilities? Yeah, I get the fact that we had chores (or should have had) and some of us had summer jobs.

But, even some of the summer jobs were fun. If you’ve never had the pleasure of sitting on a lifeguard stand on a summer day, twirling a whistle on a shoestring around your fingers, with the blue sky above and sparkling pool below. I can tell you that it makes you feel like a god…or God.

Too often, as we age, we get so wound up in being grown-ups that we forget what it’s like to let go, to just relax, to…just…be.

Try it for a few minutes. Use the simple exercise above. What 5 or 10 words or phrases are important enough in your life to capitalize?

This is a great Weekend to begin your Summer. Pick two of your words or phrases and focus on them.

I’m going to Work Out and go to the Movies.

See you Monday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Big is the Moon?

Sunday evening will feature a full moon and it will be closer to Earth than at any time until late 2014. It will also look bigger.

Looking bigger and being bigger are two different things. We all know the moon won’t really be bigger but our eyes and minds will try to play tricks on us.

It’s easy for opportunities and challenges, wins and losses, and successes and mistakes to look better or worse than they are.

(In fact, we all experience a phenomenon called negativity bias that makes us feel that the negative experiences are two-and-a-half times as bad as the good stuff is good.)

Buddhists believe we should take a middle path; we shouldn’t take the bad stuff so hard and we shouldn’t celebrate the good stuff so much.

My take on it is this: When the bad stuff happens we should do a reality check. How bad—really—is the bad stuff? What’s it going to take the come back from it?

And, I believe we should celebrate the good stuff, but understand that simple luck might have had something to do with it. So, don’t pat yourself on the back for too long.

The key is to get back to work. If life isn’t turning out the way you hoped; if you are experiencing challenges, losses or mistakes it’s time to turn’em around. If you are experiencing opportunities, wins and successes you should ask yourself, “How can I use these as springboards to more wins.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saunter On

Believe it or not, today is National Sauntering Day.

The dictionary defines saunter as, “to walk about in an idle or leisurely manner.

Sauntering is good for your mind and soul.

However, to a great degree sauntering goes against everything American. We believe we need to be busy, we need to be moving ahead to reach a goal, we need to be…in action.

But, it’s summertime. And that means it’s a perfect time for sauntering…or strolling (which, by the way, is also defined as, “to walk in a leisurely manner”).

I always think of strolling as being a activity for pairs; you stroll along with someone else.

Slow down a little. Saunter or stroll somewhere at lunch today; or, better yet, after dinner tonight.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Get Off Your A**!

"Get off your a** and do something. It won't be the outcome that brings you joy; it will be the effort. You've probably excused yourself from taking action in the past by saying, 'but I'm not very good at it.' Friend, no one is ever 'good at it' in the beginning. But anything worth doing is worth doing badly until you get better at it. ROY H. WILLIAMS (The Wizard of Ads, writer of The Monday Morning Memo)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Are You Happy?

Recently, someone asked me, “Are you happy?”

I had to think about it for a moment.

Happiness is a slippery word. We throw it around like we know what it means, but when someone pins us down we start squirming. Sometime we are and sometimes we aren’t. Happiness is kinda like good weather, it comes and goes.

If someone asks us the question, “Are you happy?” in one of those moments when we are…we answer, “Yes!,” but if they ask the same question five minutes later, right after we’ve stubbed our toe, or we have an empty beer, or someone hurt our feelings we say, “No.”

And, believe it or not, the opposite of Happy is not Sad.

The opposite of Happy is Bored.

We feel most happy when we are active, moving towards something even if it's a struggle, creating, using our strengths...alive!

If you are Sad you’re feeling something and Sad feelings can often be quickly changed to Good when something positive happens.

At the moment I was asked, “Are you Happy?” I certainly was. But, more to the point, I am definitely not Bored.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just How Old AM I?!!

Just how doggone old AM I?!!

This morning I was listening to an informational cd from the National Speakers Association.

A young woman was talking about using apps for time management and she said, “Or, you can use cards. Do you remember those little, paper, three-by-five index cards? They still work!”

Well, duh. I’ve got a stack of them in my office drawer and another in the driver’s side door pocket. I keep some in the chest pockets of my dress coats.

Here’s the thing about tools: If it works, use it.

Let’s take time management for example. If apps and iPads and the cloud work for you, great! If notecards and a legal pad and a pen work for you, have at it!

I’m not saying ignore new tools, we should all be aware of new tools that can help us do what we do better. But, if you’ve found a tool that works for you…wear it out.

And, don’t feel inferior when someone trots out the newest, shiniest toy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Recently, I attended a seminar about how to use social media in marketing. I spent three hours in an almost perpetual Aha! state of mind. There were about a dozen moments in which I went from not even knowing a question existed to getting an answer to the question.

Moving yourself from ignorance (you don’t know that you don’t know) to awareness (you know that you don’t know) is almost always a good thing. Usually, the only way to do that is to expose yourself to experiences, people or situations with which you are unfamiliar.

The other two stages of knowledge are understanding (you know that you know) and second nature (you do it without thinking).

Educator Ken Robinson’s wonderful book, Finding Your Element, shows that over half the adults in the United States are satisfied with where they are in life…and that’s not meant as a good thing. His statistics show most folks are simply going through the motions—disengaged—with anything about life that isn’t simply dropped right in front of them.

A good question to ask is: Are you in that group? Are you pretty much satisfied that each day is the same; you go to work, do it, get paid, go home?

I’ve often heard the quote, “Life is not served by you living small.”

What did you learn yesterday? What would you like to learn today?

Wanna learn something you didn’t know…ok…here’s how it works: Do you know what the word “sesquipedalophobia” is?

Since it’s more than likely you’ve never seen the word sesquipedalophobia you’ve now gone from ignorance to awareness.

Now, simply put cut the word and paste it in your browser bar. Hit “Enter” and check a couple of the sources. At this point you’ve gone from awareness to understanding. Now, use the word five times today and you’ll have moved into second nature.

That’s how learning works.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Treat New Nice, Treat Old Awful

Last night I was talking with a friend about the strategy of some companies to offer deals to new customers to get them to sign up or buy a product. But, they won’t offer the same deal to current customers.

“Sorry, sir. That offer is only extended to our new members/customers/patients.”

What up wid dat?!!!

So, let me get this straight. You love the new customer more than you love me and I’ve been doing business with you for how long?

That’s just stupid.

Here’s the deal: It costs five times as much to gain a new customer as it does to maintain a current customer.

And, if the current customer is happy they’ll tell potential customers about you.

What do you think they’ll tell if they’ve been told, “We don’t love you as much as we do a new customer”?

I’m saying “love the one you’re with.” And, I’m saying, “love the one who’s with you.”

Unfortunately, we sometimes treat other people better than we treat those closest to us. That’s why in business you need to catch people doing things right and in relationships you need to tell folks you love’em every day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Money Breath

Ok, so it’s Monday and you’ve already started wading through a long list of emails, been to a couple of meetings, gotten a call from home about a family issue and realized that you left your cellphone on the counter at home. What can you do to slow things down a little and get a handle on the stress?

Why not try meditation…for only 5 minutes? Meditation can be one of best practices to help you get a handle on stress.

However, lots of us have trouble with the whole sitting still for hours chanting, “Ommm, Ommm, Ommm” or bending ourselves into pretzel shapes and imagining ourselves sitting cross-legged in an incensed-fragranced, rose-colored room with an Indian swami.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Spencer Sherman has come up with simpler way. Sherman, one of the cofounders of Abacus Wealth Partners, a Santa Monica, CA, financial management firm, teaches a type of meditative breathing technique, The Money Breath.

Here’s how it works: Sit in a relaxed position in your chair. Inhale for a three-count, hold your breath for a one-count and exhale for six-counts.

Focus your mind on the feeling and sound of your breath. If you find that other thoughts intrude simply recognize them and go back to focusing on your breathing.

You’re meditating!

Try to maintain the exercise for two minutes. When you feel comfortable stretch your time limit to five minutes. Keep working until you can perform the breathing meditation for fifteen minutes.

You can experience a range of benefits; a sense of relaxation, calmer feelings, clearer mind, more focus. Many spiritual guides encourage the practice as a way to connect with whatever Divine Reality you seek. Some practitioners experience lower blood pressure.

Sherman teaches the exercise to professionals who make financial decisions involving LARGE amounts of money.

Imagine your anxiety level if you were trading in millions of dollars. I don’t know about you but my pucker factor would be pretty high.

We all run into an extraordinary amount of stress in today’s world. Anything healthy that can help us get a handle on the stress is a good thing.

Try it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dreaming About the Pool Princess

Esther Williams, 91, died last Thursday in Los Angeles.

No one younger than Baby Boomers knew Williams other than seeing her aqua-musical reruns on late-night television or a clip on Entertainment Tonight.

Esther Williams was a swimming champion on the late1930s whose dreams of participating in the 1940 Olympics were dashed by WWII. She turned to Hollywood where she starred in a range of 1940-50s B-movies featuring aquatic musical numbers.

Sometime life doesn’t work out the way we dreamed. At that point we have two choices: Keep whining about the fact that it didn’t happen and talking about what we could have done…or…get a new dream.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t give ourselves time to grieve. But, we all know people who are still talking about the fact that they didn’t get a chance to play college ball, didn’t get that job that would have made them a million dollars or didn’t marry the ultimate sweetheart from high school or college.

Hey! Let…it…go!

One of America’s great philosophers, my friend David Gershenson, says in his inimitable Philly-fashion, “Hey, ya wanna little cheese to go with that whine?”

Look at it this way: Due to good planning, genes/family/place-of-birth, right-place-right-time (which, by the way, all that comes down to luck) or people who will back us, life goes the way we want it to about 20% of the time. It absolutely goes in the toilet about 20% of the time, and it comes down between the two extremes about 60% of the time.

We make choices about the 60% that determine whether it leans to the dream or the toilet.

Things didn’t work out the way Esther Williams dreamed. She took her assets—beauty, an extraordinary skill she earned through hard work, and ambition—and succeeded at a new dream.

It’s raining like a maammajamma right now thanks to Hurricane Andrea and it may rain through the weekend. This could be a great time to slow down, listen to the rain and look at your regrets and dreams.

Whataya need to let go of? I have a bunch of cheese if you need it.

What new dreams are out there just waiting for you to grab them and make them real?

Have a great weekend, stay dry and I’ll see you on Monday.

PS…Post time for The Belmont Stakes, the final race in the Triple Crown, is 6:20 pm on Saturday. Orb, winner of The Kentucky Derby is the early favorite but my money is on Oxbow and 50-year old jockey Gary Stevens, winners of The Preakness.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taking My Own Advice

About 20 years ago I visited a shrink while trying to work through some life issues. He was great…he didn’t tell me what I should do so much as he asked questions and led me to come up with my own conclusions and direction.

One of the most interesting questions was, “Mike, do you ever listen to what you’re saying when you teach people in seminars? Do you ever take your own advice?”

For the last 24 hours I’ve been following my own advice from yesterday’s blog, Do You Feeeeeeel It?!!

I’m trying to make some challenging decisions so I’m writing them down, reading them, and seeing how I feeeeel.

Some topics, decisions and issues give me a, “Yeah, that’s the direction I need to go” feeling. Others almost immediately give me a, “Mmmmm, I don’t know about that” feeling or a definite, “I don’t want to do that” sensation.

I will be the first to admit that as an adult we have to do some things every now and then that we’d rather not do. I get it that the world isn’t blue birds and lemonade every day. However, knowing where you’re running into friction in life understanding what causes it and how to work through is truly helpful.

If you have a mechanism like this that can help you identify and work through challenges you’d have to be pretty damned stupid not to use it.

And, while I’ve had some folks—usually in relationships—point out that I ain’t the brightest bulb in the hall I’m not so stupid that I’ll ignore a tool that makes my life easier, more fulfilling and more successful.

Try the strategy I detailed in yesterday’s blog: Write down what you have to do, read each item and see if you’re getting warmer or colder with each one.

This tool works.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Do You Feeeeeel It?!!!!

Martha Beck has been dubbed by USA Today as “the best-known life coach in the country.”

She has an interesting theory and strategy for finding our life purposes. She suggests we do a better job of listening to our bodies.

In an interview in SUCCESS Magazine she says, “The mechanism by which you find your purpose is born into you, and it expresses itself through emotion.”

The practice she suggests is this: Make a list of the things you want to do or believe you need to do. Then, go down the list slowly and as you read each goal or activity be aware of how your body reacts. The goals that move you closer to your purpose will prompt a sense of joy or a physical feeling of freedom. Activities that move you farther away from your true purpose will have an opposite reaction. You may feel withdrawn or physically weak.

I love her simple direction of, “it’s a game of ‘getting warmer, getting colder.’”

A short list of want-to-do’s and ought-to-do’s will show you the truth in Beck’s strategy.

Try it. I did. Writing this blog made me feel warmer. There are a couple of things on my To-Do List that give me a chill.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hey Baby, Let's Take a Chance!

There’s a less-than-tactful tune that starts out, “Hey Baby, let’s take a chance!”….and I’ll pass on singing the rest of that line, if you don’t mind.

But, it seems that according to the Wall Street Journal and a slew of researchers, Americans aren’t as willing to take a chance as in the past.

Even in good times companies are adding jobs more slowly. We are less likely to invest in new ventures. Fewer Americans are willing to start businesses, or to change jobs or move for new opportunities.

Part of the reason is an aging population. We look more to security than taking a chance on succeeding in a new job/business.

The trends go against a long-held belief that Americans are risk-takers and willing to bet it all on a dream.

Here’s the upside, though: If you have a great idea and do your homework you’ll encounter less competition than you would have in the past. Pick a profitable niche too small for the big boys to care about and you might be able to find the win you’re looking for.

There will always be a bunch of us who just don’t want the 9-5, corporate life. So, it seems there are only a few, viable choices for us. We can keep moving from job to job, leaving when we get tired of the BS and routine that will always get the best of us. We can opt out of the corporate system and hope the government system will support us. Or, we can try something on our own, work hard at an idea we believe in and try to make the dream come true.

I’m for the last one. Let’s make something happen.