How To Profit FromThe Legacy of Richard Bolles

“The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career.”    

Richard Bolles was responsible for coaching laid-off ministers to find a new line of work. He was a minister ministering to ministers who could no longer minister. To help his clients, he wrote a little pamphlet with tips on how to move on to another calling.

The pamphlet had strategies that went against all conventional wisdom. It taught job seekers to stop relying on want ads (Craigslist postings for you Millennials), and network their way into jobs created just for them.

Instead of waiting to be interviewed by companies, Bolles coached people to go out and interview the companies they wanted to work for. Very disruptive strategies. Perfect for Manic Impressives.

That Little Pamphlet

Richard published that pamphlet as a book titled “What Color Is Your Parachute”. It spent 288 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List and sold over 10 million copies in 26 countries and 22 languages.

Richard Bolles died last month at the age of 90. But his legacy will live on for ages. Dick, as he called himself, turned the job-search field on its head, and developed a massive legion of fans. Me among them.

I used Dick’s book in my 20’s to understand my most valuable skills and leverage them into a career. In my 40’s and 50’s I used it to successfully network for opportunities. But it was in my 30’s that I had my Richard Bolles adventure.

The Big Idea

While working as a training consultant, I came up with a brilliant idea. Take the things I learned from Parachute and produce a one-day seminar. Capitalize on the name recognition of the book and create  a one-stop shop for career changers and job seekers. Have people work through the exercises, provide case studies and support, and hook them up with lots of resources. I saw the whole thing in my head, complete with sponsorships and advertisers.

All I needed was one thing: Permission. It wasn’t my material, so I would have to get Richard Bolles to allow me to license his name and material. But how the hell would I do that?

Ponder for a second. What would you do? Play with the idea for a bit then toss it aside as a pipe dream? Or find a way to take some action? Past history showed I would have chosen pipe dream. Not this time.

Keep in mind, this was well before the internet, and contacting an author meant knowing someone in the business. I flipped through the book, read Dick’s bio, and tried to contact him through his publisher. No go.

Guess What I Did?

You’ll never guess, so I’m going to tell you. I picked up the phone, dialed 411, and asked if there was a listing for Richard Bolles. Son of a gun. The man who sold nearly as many books as the Bible was listed in the phreaking phone book.


So I called and guess who answered? Yup, Dick answered, as nice as can be. Even more amazing. Being highly Manic Impressive with no shame and even less inhibition, I asked him to lunch. And you know what he said? “Sure, why not.”

Trifecta amazing.

Two weeks later I met Dick at the House of Sake in Walnut Creek. Turns out he was a huge fan of Japanese food, extremely gracious, and an absolute pleasure to lunch with. We talked about all sorts of things, then near the end of lunch I wound up to give my pitch.

Guess what he said?


Wait, what? That doesn’t fit the amazing theme. How did you screw this up?

First off, his ‘no’ was quite polite. His wife was working on a seminar she wanted to deliver, and though he would license material to me, he couldn’t let me use his name or book for a seminar. A polite, but matter-of-fact, no.

Hey I took my shot, and got to have lunch with my hero.  So I thanked him for meeting with me and reached for the check. But he wouldn’t let me pay. “I have a personal policy,” he said. “Whoever sells the most books picks up the check.”

The Legacy of Richard Bolles

Dick updated “What Color Is Your Parachute” annually for 40 years. His gift to the world is still available, and still the best advice to make your career dreams come true.

And as usual, even now, Dick is extremely generous. You can access his site with tons of free resources, or get an online subscription to his E-Parachute site with all the personal inventory exercises for an entire year for only $4.99.

Yes. Under 5 bucks for a year with the best career tools and advice ever written. That’s an incredible legacy.

So if you’re working in a place that doesn’t appreciate you, or you’re helping your kids find their way in the world, take advantage of the legacy Richard left behind. You won’t even have to pay for lunch.

He still won’t let you.






How To Find Lost Things

How To Find Lost ThingsManic Impressives often struggle with things. Organizing them. Keeping track of them. And often, finding them. It is estimated that the average Manic Impressive will spend 7.2 years* of his or her life searching for lost things. (*Okay, I totally made this up.) Which is why we need to know how to find lost things.

The answer can be found in the second act of the cinematic gem, “Dude Where’s My Car?” Ashton Kutcher and Seann Willam Scott play stoner party boys that come out to the curb after a night of fierce partying to find their car is missing.

After Ashton delivers the movie’s title line, Seann gives him the solution that all of us need to use whenever we lose something:

“We need to get back into the state of mind we were in last night. That way we can retrace our steps. Sense memory, simulated perception, altered conscious memory retrieval. Discovery Channel.”

Yes, Discovery Channel indeed.

Great Strategy To Find Lost Things

But Dude is onto something here. The most reliable method to find lost things, is to use sense memory to retrace your steps. I don’t recommend the altered conscious memory retrieval, as it can lead to perpetual drunkenness, for all the things we Manics manage to lose.

But going back in your mind to the last time you remember having the item is a winning technique. See yourself with the item, then mentally retrace your steps. If your mind is not capable of this (no judgement here), you can always resort to physically retracing your steps.

So start by picturing yourself in the last place you remember. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’d been rushing all over town preparing for a dinner party. When I realized my credit card was missing, I retraced my route in my head. My final purchase that day was at a liquor store. I’d gotten a call from my wife just as I was finishing up my purchase. That was enough of a distraction to cause me to rush out of the store with my card still in the clerk’s hand.

Retracing it in my head led me right back to that moment, and a quick retrieval. That was one of my quickest. My longest retrieval using this method was a full year. I was packing for a community campout and couldn’t find my softball glove. I’m usually good about getting my softball gear back in my bag after a game. But I hadn’t played in quite a while, and couldn’t visualize myself using the glove since the previous year’s campout game.

Sure enough, when the equipment guy dumped out his bag at the annual choosing up of the teams, there it was. I’d lent it to someone after my last at bat, and forgot to collect it. It stayed a full year in someone else’s garage. Maybe I need to play more often.

Why Not Just Keep Your Sh*t Together?

Yes you’re right, better not to lose things in the first place. That would eliminate the wasted time we spend searching for our crap. There are a number of ways for you Manics to get better at keeping track of your stuff (see item 3 in this post).  But inevitably, even diligent and disciplined folks need to find lost things.

So from now on whenever you’re missing something, channel Ashton Kutcher. Ask yourself, “Dude, where’s my ________?” and start the sense memory process. The more you use this strategy, the better you’ll get, and the less time you’ll waste searching for stuff.

Or you can just buy a new one, whatever it is. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort…


4 Smart & Lazy Methods of Tax Preparation

Smart & LazyTuesday’s the big day. The day all Americans face a hard deadline. You either get that midnight postmark or you pay penalties and interest. Procrastinate all you want, but when April 15th rolls around you’d better have your act together. But it’s okay to be smart & lazy about it.

I imagine you have some friends who filed their taxes months ago. They’re probably at the mall right now spending their refunds. But not you. You’re sweating that deadline like you do every year. And even though you should be working on your return right now, you’re doing everything in your power to distract yourself  and procrastinate (like reading this blog) instead of buckling down and getting your taxes done.

Your organized friends have never filed an extension. You try every year not to, but somehow this annual deadline creeps up and there you are, right up against it, debating whether or not to throw in the towel, file an extension, and put it all off until October.


If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in the right place. Last minute cramming is the hallmark of the Manic Impressive and April 15th is our final. The key is knowing what kind of person you are and accepting your reality. This, then, is all about two simple strategies:

Disciplined & Diligent or Smart & Lazy

You know all about the methods of the Disciplined & Diligent. It’s all the things you’ve failed at since Kindergarten. Smart people are too lazy to waste time being fastidious. They use their smarts to cut corners on drudgery to allow more time for innovation and sex.

Just follow these four simple methods of the Smart & Lazy and you’ll get your return in on time. Continue reading 4 Smart & Lazy Methods of Tax Preparation

13 Surefire Tips To Kill It At Your Garage Sale

It’s springtime. Time to clear out your crap and turn it into cash. If you are like the rest of us, there’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t use clogging up your house. It needs to go. But it won’t happen if you handle your sale like an amateur. Not to worry. I can help you. I’m a pro at this. Here are my 13 surefire tips to kill it at your garage sale.

1 ) Do It Like A Pro

This is a retail sales event, so do what good retail merchandisers do. Advertise, price, display, negotiate and service with a little style and panache. You need a certain amount of organization to attract people, and a strategy to entice and cajole your customers to pay you to cart off your crap.

A sloppy garage sale is less work on the front end, but it will net less cash and create more work on the back-end. Do the advance work. You really don’t want to be moving your crap back into the house at the end of a long day. Continue reading 13 Surefire Tips To Kill It At Your Garage Sale

The Lost Art of the April Fools’ Prank

April FoolNext to Halloween, I’ve always found April Fools’ Day to be the most delightful celebration. To pull a good, clean April Fools prank that doesn’t hurt anyone is high art. These days, a high, lost art.

So if I give you some ideas will you help me on this? Will you go out there and bring some fun to your little corner of the world? Manic Impressives everywhere are counting on you.

Shave Something

Self-deprecating pranks never hurt anyone else. If you do something goofy and get people laughing at you, you’ll be their hero for the day. And if we need more of anything in the world right now, it’s heroes.

So try doing something unexpected this April Fools’ Day. Shave something off. If you’re a dude, don’t be conventional. Don’t shave off your beard. Shave off half your beard.

I did this one April Fools’ Day at work. At lunchtime I went to the Men’s room, shaved the right side of my face, snuck back into my office and called my admin to come help me with a document.

When she walked into my office, I pretended to be on the phone. Holding up a finger in the universal “just a second” signal, I pretended to finish my call and hung up the phone. With the right side of my face suddenly exposed, her face went from normal, to stunned, to hilarious. She could not stop laughing and told all her friends. I shaved the rest of the beard that night and that was that.


You Too Ladies

Oh yes you can. Shave off an eyebrow and see what happens. You can paint it in for a while til it grows back, but you’ll never lose the points you’ll score for being audacious, original, and hilarious.


Trust me on this ladies, it will be worth it. You won’t pay for any of your drinks for a long, long time. This April Fools’ Day, be memorable!

Serve Something Unexpected, Blow Some Minds

One year at Thanksgiving, I took a roasted turkey to a potluck. It looked totally normal, but when I went to carve it, something wasn’t right. The knife went straight through, cutting solid turkey. No bones, no hollow, no gizzards.

People couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It seemed so normal they didn’t even notice at first. Then they were confused, then amazed, impressed and delighted.  My friend, a chef, de-boned two turkeys for me and stuffed one inside the other. It was the coolest bird ever.

So serve an April Fools’ Day treat to someone who won’t expect it. Offer your workmate a hard-boiled egg with banana pudding where the yolk should be. Or make a slit in the side of a banana, hollow it out, fill it with marshmallows, then place it innocently in the break room fruit basket and watch what happens.

Or empty your kid’s cornflakes box and refill it with Frosted Flakes. They’ll be confused for a bit, but they’ll think you’re greeeeaaaaat!

Put Something Up For Sale

This annoyed a principal and over a dozen real estate agents, but when I was 17, a friend and I put our high school up for sale. We went around town late on a Sunday night and snatched for-sale signs off a whole bunch of lawns.

When everyone showed up for school Monday morning, they found their school up for sale. By every real-estate agent in town. The school was abuzz all day, and it made the front page of the student paper. The for-sale sign on the pitcher’s mound of the baseball diamond was the picture they featured, as the varsity baseball team was in last place and everyone thought it was hilarious. It was.

Okay, that was a big production and it inconvenienced some innocent business people. Yes, it was an awesome April Fools prank, but you don’t have to go that far. Put a For-Sale-By-Owner sign on a tree, slap a price tag on your car that says $800,000 Or Best Offer, or offer something on Craigslist free to a good home, or $25 to a crappy home. You never know.

Commit to April Fools’ Day

Do your homework, put in a little creative effort, and delight your family and friends this year. It’s a tradition worth observing and everyone will appreciate you for it.

And you never know, you might wake up Sunday a real-life hero.

Or a real-life Her-o.


If You Want to Work Hard, You Need to Play Hard

Play HardHere we are, one week shy of the end of the first quarter. How are you doing on your goals?  Still going great guns? A few dips here and there?  Any answer is okay at this point, as long as you’re still at it and working hard. Oh, that’s the bell, time for recess. Cuz after you Work Hard, it’s time to Play Hard.

Recess is important for school kids. It’s the reason they can sit still and work hard all day, five days a week. They need the break and the fun to so they can keep at it. The harder they play, the harder they can study.

Recess is just as important for us adults. Maybe even more important. We adults have so many responsibilities beyond work, that we sometimes go from task to task without recess. This is not good for anyone.

I Deserve It

I’ve made great progress on some of my goals for the quarter, and I’ve struggled with others. But regardless of my results, I need and deserve a recess.

So it was with great planning and precision that I took my recess last week. Okay, at about 9 Wednesday  morning I threw a bunch of stuff in the car and took off. Sometimes the best play is spontaneous.

While you were slogging through your hump day, I took off and hit the slopes. Hard. I bombed down the hill as hard and as long as I could. I needed to play hard.

You Need To Play Hard

We Manic Impressives need to play hard so we can work hard. Other types of people can work hard for the sake of working hard. But us creative types need our recess to recharge and remember why we’re working to be more than we are.

The notion of Work Ethic, the idea that people should be conditioned to keep their noses to the grindstone and never stop, is a good guiding principle for some. But it doesn’t work for me.

Now thanks to Forbes, I have the science to show I’m on the right track. Work Hard Play Hard is a lifestyle that works for playful folk that are passionate about doing good work.

The Science Behind Play Hard

Professor Lonnie Aarssen did a study that showed “a strong correlation between attraction to accomplishment and attraction to leisure.” The key factor was “mortality salience.” The more a person accepts they’re going to die one day, the more motivated they are to succeed in life.

An interesting note was the role of religion. Forbes concluded that religious people are less likely to Work Hard Play Hard. Perhaps that was because the study was of 1400 Canadian college students. Or perhaps it’s that going to church is bad for your fun life.

Either way, if you want to knock it out of the park, you need to remember that you’re playing a game.

Schedule It!

So make your Play Hard as important as your Work Hard. Set your goals, check your progress each day, and win or lose, schedule your play. It’s as important as your work.

Take a look at your progress for this quarter. Pat yourself on the back for your wins. Acknowledge your failings and vow to do better. Then get out there and have some fun. Play Hard!

And thanks for going to work last Wednesday so I could drive to Tahoe without traffic and ski without waiting in a single lift line. I really appreciate it.

Now it’s your turn.

3 Bits of Blarney About St. Patrick’s Day

Blarney About St. PatrickLike a lot of our holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is a real sham(rock). What’s going down today has no connection to St. Patrick, his body of work, or what he stood for. It’s all a bunch of Blarney.

How do I know this? Anyone with a dial-up modem can find this on Wikipedia in under 3 minutes. Today’s festivities started as a religious feast day to honor the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick (no last name), was a British missionary who became a bishop after being kidnapped and held by Irish raiders for six years.

But what’s about to go down today is total Blarney with a big side of Malarky. It’s got little to do with the life and work of a saint. Here are three bits of Blarney about St. Patrick we’ve been believing since Kindergarten.

St. Patrick Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland

No he didn’t. What are you, six? There were no snakes in Ireland! Dude was a missionary. He was one of those annoyingly earnest folks who go around evangelizing and “saving” pagans. He converted thousands to Christianity, so at best he drove the pagans out of Northern Ireland and into churches.

Snakes?! I think you’re confusing St. Patrick with The Pied Piper. He led the rats out of town. Then he led all the children out of town when he didn’t get paid for the rat job. More of a pissed-off musician turned kidnapper-for-ransom than a saint.

European fairy tales are totally effed up, aren’t they? Continue reading 3 Bits of Blarney About St. Patrick’s Day

Out Of Gas

\Out of Gas

Tell you a little story I will, and then I have an admission to make. I’ve been struggling a bit this week, and it reminded me of the time, one of many, when I ran out of gas.

My wife and I were driving back to the Bay Area from Fresno. Just my girlfriend back then, I’d taken her to meet some family.

She drove us in her fancy Cadillac Seville on the way down, so being a gentleman, I offered to drive on the way back. She accepted, handed me the keys, and off we went.

Here’s where we learned something important about ourselves. Since she wasn’t driving, my wife didn’t bother to tell me we were low on gas. She figured I’d check it myself. Since it wasn’t my car, I didn’t bother checking the gas gauge, since I figured she would have told me.

Both of us figured very, very wrong. Continue reading Out Of Gas

Why I Keep Hurting Myself

Hurting MyselfIn the Armenian language, the word “gamatz” means to go easy, be patient, take your time. It’s usually spoken by a wrinkly grandfather type in a sage sounding tone. “Gamatz, gamatz,” he’ll say, along with a calming hand gesture of some sort. If only I could listen to such great advice. Then maybe I wouldn’t keep hurting myself.

I understand the wisdom of this. But as a Manic Impressive, I have trouble taking the gamatz approach when it comes to my health.

I tend to barrel into things with great energy and enthusiasm, especially around exercise. That’s why I’ve had surgeries on my ankle, knee and rotator cuff in the past two years alone. Physical therapy clinics adore me. Continue reading Why I Keep Hurting Myself

Work Already Performed

Work Already PerformedMartin Eden, a retired sailor, lived in Oakland, California in the early 1900’s. Despite his lack of education and working class roots, Martin was determined to become a published author. He was also determined to marry Ruth, a beautiful and highly educated woman from a wealthy family.

Martin proposes and Ruth accepts. But Ruth puts off the wedding until Martin becomes successful enough to win her family’s acceptance. He works hard, submits manuscripts, gets rejected by publishers, but eventually, he gets a book deal.

Then Martin blows up, makes a fortune off his books, and becomes a celebrated member of the artistic class.

Unfortunately, his success came a little too late for Ruth. Though he already submitted the manuscripts that would make him rich and famous, she loses patience with his progress, and after two years Ruth breaks the engagement. Continue reading Work Already Performed