Why You Need To Master The Snappy Comeback

Autumn makes me sentimental. But not for the usual reasons. Sure, I love pumpkins and raking leaves as much as the next Hallmark dad. But the reason I love Fall is that it’s the time of year I executed my best, most historic, snappy comeback.

We Manic Impressives are skilled at wordplay. It’s what helps us influence, persuade, and charm the people we need to deal with. We know the power of cleverness and making people laugh. We’ve been training all our lives, first as class clowns, then as full-blown smartasses, to deliver that devastating line with precision timing.

As clever as we are with words, though, we celebrate our quick-witted wins because of all the times we fail.  How many times have you thought of the perfect response for a situation well after the fact? It happens to us all.

So when we score a snappy comeback, it’s something to celebrate. And when we pull off a great one, it’s something to remember. Like the one I delivered in the Fall of 2003.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me Free, Top Shelf Booze

I was at the bar at the Irvine Marriott to order a celebratory drink. The bartender acknowledged me but got pulled away momentarily to answer the phone. It took just a few seconds, but when he turned back to serve me, a woman stepped up, and though I was clearly there before her, she called out her drink order.

The bartender was a pro. He politely told her he’d get to her as soon as he finished serving me. The woman seemed miffed. Then she turned to face me, and rather brazenly, eyed me up and down.

Her eyes landed on the plastic hospital band around my wrist. She nodded toward it and again, quite brazenly, looked me right in the eye and said, “Hey buddy, you really think you ought to be drinking right now?”

These are the moments we agonize over after they happen. The times when we fail, in the moment, to take the pitch left out over the plate, and slam it right into the bleachers. We think of the most clever, funny, and biting things to say after our chance has passed.

Most of the time, out of surprise, politeness or misplaced deference, I too, fumble my chance at greatness. My chance to put someone in their place, with elegance and panache. But not this time.

I followed her eyes to my wrist, and as if I hadn’t noticed her rudeness, I raised my wrist up with a huge proud smile and declared,

“Yes, I do. My son was born today! I absolutely should be drinking right now.” 

The color drained from the lady’s face and she told the bartender to put my drink on her tab.  I replied sweetly, “Why thank you, that’s so kind of you”, turned to the bartender, quickly jerked my pointed finger from the bottom shelf brandy to the top shelf Courvoisier, and said,  “I’ll have that one!”

The bartender, with a knowing smile, poured me the greatest drink I’ve had in my entire life. But not because of what was in the glass.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me A Wife

It was also at this time of year that someone delivered their greatest snappy comeback to me. Back when I had abs and a full head of luxurious hair,  I showed up for my appointment with my hair stylist and saw a woman in my seat. I playfully blurted out, “Hey lady, you’re sitting in my chair!”

She turned her big blue eyes on me and parried with, “It ain’t your chair yet, buddy!”

We’ve been married over 25 years now.

Celebrate Fall With A Snappy Comeback

So please, do me a favor. Ignore your TV for a bit, with its nasty politics and depressing natural disasters. Take some time to focus on delivering the perfect zinger to the next person who serves you up the perfect opportunity.

No more ‘I shoulda said’ excuses after the fact. Be ready for your moment, be quick on your feet, and knock it out of the park.

It can do wonders for your happiness, your self-esteem, and your love life.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Prepare For The Unthinkable

The unthinkable is happening right now to thousands of people just 35 miles north of me. 22 separate wildfires are raging out of control across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties. Utter devastation that can’t be stopped, and couldn’t have been predicted.

So far 31 people have lost their lives, 400 more are missing, 3500 homes and businesses have burnt to the ground, and 50,000 households are without power. Thousands of people had to evacuate, and none of the 22 fires have been contained.

Though my home and family are safe, the air outside is thick with smoke. A smelly reminder that this kind of disaster could be visited upon us too, at any moment, and without warning.

So rather than wallow in other people’s misery, I’m turning off the news and taking time now to prepare for when disaster hits my neighborhood. We Manics can’t afford to procrastinate on this.

Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge In A Hurry

Whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, a wildfire or a flood, a natural disaster can force you to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice. Where will you go? What will you take? How will you stay in contact with family and friends when 77 cell towers in your area get knocked out by a fire? Here are a few suggestions.

The Family Emergency Communication Plan

On any given weekday, most family members are separated by dozens of miles between home, work or school. Without an emergency communication plan, you’re likely to be cut off from each other without a way to know if everyone’s safe. This can be terrifying, as my friend Wakane learned in 2011.

She was at her home in Sendai, Japan, when an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami.  Her husband was at work in another city, and her kids were at two different schools in different parts of town.

Wakane was frantic. She couldn’t reach anyone by phone, the streets were impassable and the trains weren’t running. She had no way of getting to her kids or knowing if her husband was safe.

It took two days to get word on everyone, and three days to reunite them all. Three terrifying days for Wakane, full of the worst kind of worry – that the unthinkable had happened to her family.

This same scenario is playing out right now in California.

How To Stay In Touch

So step one is to have a plan in place. Choose an out-of-town family member to leave messages with, or use the Red Cross Safe And Well List to get the word out. Instruct all family members to report their whereabouts with the same method.

Then whenever you see a disaster on the news, quiz your kids and spouse on how you’ll all stay in contact in an emergency.

Know that if cell service is disrupted, you may be able to use a laptop and connect through email. If you’ve never used your internet provider’s remote login service, now’s the time to set it up.

If you haven’t given up your landline yet, you can record an outgoing message to family and friends on your answering machine. You can also leave or retrieve messages remotely, and use this as your method of staying in touch. It’s old school fogey style, but as long as your house is still standing it can work.

Evacuation Plan

When the shit goes down, you better have a clue of where you’re going and what you’re taking. If you’re scrambling to line up a place to stay, use the Red Cross real-time map for listings of emergency shelters open in your area. Your county will probably have an emergency operations hotline you can call as well.

You’ll also want to check the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s ( NOAA) All Hazards Radio Network. They broadcast 24/7 evacuation and emergency service info on the VHF band, but it’s not something you can pick up on a regular radio.

Every county in the country has a designated station, so find your station, get a portable weather radio now, and tune it in advance to your station. Most come with a hand crank so you don’t need batteries and can charge your cell phone with it too.

The Go Bag

Like smart drug dealers, you need to plan ahead to bail in a hurry. Pack a backpack with clothes, cash, water, energy bars, and a few days of meds and stash it in your trunk now. You’ll have basic resources if you’re caught away from home when the unthinkable happens. While you’re at it, toss in a portable cell phone charger too.

The Priceless Carload

Most everything in your home can be replaced. But know the priceless few things that can’t, and be prepared to pack them in the car in under 5 minutes. For most people, that means rounding up the pets, photo albums, small heirlooms, and medicine you can’t readily replace.

Let everything else burn, and get your insurance company to buy you new stuff. But take ten minutes right now to go through your home and video all your possessions. Open every closet and drawer, and narrate what you see. Pay special attention to jewelry, antiques, and electronics. Doing this now can be the difference between being made whole or being hosed if you ever have to file a claim.

But don’t forget about your data. Besides your photo albums and family movies, your computer files could be your most precious items to recover.

If you’re a geezer still using AOL, you might not be using cloud storage for all your important documents. Now’s the time. Don’t compound a disaster by losing all your data when your computer melts down. Get your teenager to show you how to keep your computer files safe in cloud storage at Dropbox, Google, Apple, or one of these cloud storage providers.

Surviving The Unthinkable

Overall, the Red Cross is one of the best resources for surviving the unthinkable. They’ll help you prepare for, endure, and recover from a disaster. Check out their tips on preparing for emergencies, then call your insurance agent and make sure your coverage is up to date.

And since you can only prepare for, not prevent, a natural disaster, you’d better start building up your karma now. Give as much support as you can today, so when it’s your turn to face the unthinkable, there’ll be plenty of support for you. Here’s where I’m donating because 100% of the money raised goes directly to fire victims.

Stay safe, and get ready. Because the unthinkable could just as easily have happened to you…

Are You Blind To The Big Picture?

The Pull and The Big Picture
Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

After two, 3-day conventions in a row, where I played a hearty role, I’m sitting back down with my to-do list. Nothing feels inspiring or urgent, and I’m in a bit of a personal low. Seems I’ve become blind to the Big Picture and I’m struggling a bit to work my way out of it.

Sure, it’s natural to have a letdown after so much action. But where’s my fire for my big goals? Why am I not charging out there and attacking? What the hell’s wrong with me?

If you’ve ever experienced this sort of low, maybe you know what I’m going through. I’ve lost the forest and I’m just staring at a bunch of trees.

Time To Get Back On Track

It’s inevitable at times to get bogged down in the details of our lives and lose sight of the big picture. Or worse, to start feeling that our sights are set on things too big or unattainable. Add in a little financial pressure and it’s easy to start hedging on ourselves.

But that won’t solve the inner crisis that’s brewing. There are only two things that will. The Pull and the Push. The thing that attracts us to something, and the thing that gets us moving in that direction.

Desire

This is the Pull. The force that gets us out of bed, off the couch, and into the world to earn what we desire. It needs to burn hot inside of us, to keep us working towards our goals. We need to want something bad enough to struggle through the rejection and the obstacles.

Without a strong sense of desire, we are apt to wander and putter our time away. Buried in the details (damn trees), doing the mundane tasks, because we should.

But “should” is not enough. Doing what we “should” do is not motivating for long, if at all. So we need to keep the desire stoked for the Pull to work. Constant, daily reminders of why we want something.

Action

This is the Push. By taking action, we move forward. Especially if we do the right things, the things that will lead to what we desire.

We Manic Impressives sometimes bog down when we’re not actively involved in doing.  But we also don’t get much satisfaction from just crossing things off a to-do list. We need to see where each task leads to something bigger – more accolades, more freedom,  more fun.

Line Of Sight

This is what we call it in Leadership training. The ability for everyone in an organization to see how each task leads to the overall success of the group’s goals.

When people can’t see how their daily actions add up to bigger things for the group, they become complacent. They go through the motions. They provide lousy service. They go home at night less committed to the cause than when they started the day.

They lose their desire.

The Big Picture

Whether you’re leading a huge organization, a team, a family or just yourself, you’ve got to have that Big Picture in front of you at all times. You’ve got to know why organizing your paperwork and reducing your clutter leads to the things you desire. You’ve got to know why exercise and eating right makes you happier, not just thinner.

So if you’re like me, and tend to lose sight now and then, do something to keep that Big Picture in constant view. Make your Dreamboard and post it right above your computer. Write out your goal statements and affirmations and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Get your family on board to nag you in the best possible way.

Remind yourself every single day of what you desire, so you will be pulled toward the right actions and away from the wrong ones. Get that Big Picture in front of your face right now so you have your Line of Sight and the reasons why you should check things off your list.

Now please excuse me while I gaze at my Dreamboard and remind myself why I want those wonderful things in my life. I’ve got to go work on my Pull…

 

It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

Worst CriticI gave my very first keynote last month and big thanks to all of you who came and cheered me on. I got it all on video, and though you’d think I’d be anxious to view the tape, it took me a month to get myself to watch it. Why? Because I am my own worst critic.

Though I’ve logged over 20,000 hours of speaking and performing, this time felt different. This was my own material, performed for the first time, so I had a lot at stake. I was prepared, the audience was receptive, and overall it went pretty well. I even got a dozen folks to give testimonials on camera at the end of the night.

But still, I procrastinated a solid month before I could force myself to watch the performance. Because I knew, inevitably, there would be moments that would make me cringe.

The Disease of Perfectionism

Everyone does this to some extent, but we Manic Impressives tend to outdo most folks when it comes to perfectionism. We know we’re capable of great things, so seeing ourselves being less than perfect is hard to take.

Reasonable people don’t expect perfection the first time out. And we creatives know that performing in front of an audience is an iterative process. We get better each time out by learning from mistakes and striving for better. But it’s still tough to view our mistakes, no matter how much good stuff there is in between.

We become our own worst critic.

I’ve seen perfectionism destroy people. Like my friend Josh, a brilliant guitarist and singer. He would obsess over the tiniest flaws in his performances, and drive himself nuts. He couldn’t live up to his own impossibly high standards. In the end, he quit performing altogether. It was a shame.

Your Own Worst Critic

Many of us are overly harsh when critiquing our performances. Have you ever done this to yourself?  You overlook the good things you do and dwell on the negative. The missed lines, the mispronunciations, the flubs, the glitches, and the miscues.

It’s natural to want to do better. But many of us are too critical of ourselves. We need to be as gentle with ourselves as we are with our friends. Or our kids.

Otherwise, getting back out on stage becomes too difficult. And even if we don’t realize it, we can subconsciously avoid opportunities to shine. Or worse, when we are performing, we focus so much on past mistakes, that we drive ourselves to commit the same mistakes when we try again.

Olympic Failure

Like speed skater Dan Jansen in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Dan was the world champion and gold medal favorite when he lined up for the 500-meter race. But to the shock of everyone, he fell in the first turn and did not place.

Four days later in the 1000 meter race, Dan was leading the pack in world record time. But with just one lap to go, he fell in the exact same place on the ice where he’d fallen in the 500-meter race.

I remember seeing this as it happened  – it was heartbreaking. Dan had psyched himself out. He obsessed over his earlier mistake to the point where he couldn’t avoid making that same mistake again. He was his own worst critic and it cost him dearly.

Getting Over Yourself

So to balance your need to be critical with your need to feel good about yourself, I suggest you take the following approach.

Know that no matter what you do, some of your audience won’t like it. You’ll remind them of their 8th grade bully or their condescending mother in law. You can’t do anything about their bias, so don’t worry about them.

A percentage of your audience will love you no matter what you do. You’ll remind them of themselves or who they want to become, and they’ll rave about your performance just because you’re you. You can’t count on their objectivity, so take their adulation with a grain of salt.

Focus on the rest. The ones who are impartial enough to be honest. Value their feedback, and look for ways to improve in the areas they point out.

If you can’t get enough feedback from them, hire a coach. Someone honest enough to be direct and give specific feedback to help you improve. And knowledgeable enough to validate what you do well and encourage you to continue.

If you outsource this, you won’t have to be your own worst critic.

Practicing What I Preach

So in the spirit of killing my perfectionism, here is a link to the video of the maiden voyage of “Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With?”  Consider it a rough draft, and enjoy the flubs and glitches.

I welcome your honest feedback, so don’t hold back. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I did that to myself already…

How To Know When Being Resilient is Bad For You

Being Resilient is Bad For YouWe hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.

You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.

But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?

How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You

If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t?  Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?

Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.

The Dip

Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?

According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?

A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.

At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.

Ouch.

Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.

And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.

So How Do You Know?

Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.

We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.

But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.

Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.

  • Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
  • If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
  • If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
  • Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
  • Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?

A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.

There’s No Shame In Quitting

At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Labor Day

width="449"Labor Day Weekend is here, a time for parties, camping trips, and conventions. Whoohoo! A 3 day weekend! But it should mean far more than that to you. The Labor Movement in America earned us all a lot of benefits. So go celebrate Labor Day like it’s your birthday.

The Accidental Labor Organizer

I happen to know a bit about organized labor. In 1999, I worked for a company that made us work on ergonomically dangerous equipment. I developed a repetitive strain injury, and though Workers Comp covered my medical treatment, the company did nothing to correct the problem.

So I did what any of you would do. I took action. No, I didn’t hire a lawyer and sue. I called up AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists, and asked for an appointment with the Union president.

He met with me, then sent me home with a stack of Union organizing cards. If I could get the majority of my co-workers to sign for a union vote, AFTRA could come in and represent us.

There was only one catch. If management found out what I was up to before I submitted the cards, they could fire me on the spot and the Union could not protect me. Gulp.

But my co-workers had my back, and two days later I returned to AFTRA with signed cards from 90% of the unit. No one ratted me out, though Management soon figured out who the shit-disturber was. And just as the Union president warned, they went after me.

The Empire Strikes Back

They started by changing my schedule from the weekdays to weekends, and from morning shift to graveyard. Then they cut my hours just enough to deny me health care coverage. Moves designed to make me quit.

Meanwhile, AFTRA came in, conducted a vote, and the employees chose union representation by an overwhelming margin. I got to supervise the balloting on voting day, as an official Witness chosen by the National Labor Relations Board. That was a cool day at work.

But I would not be around to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I resisted the illegal treatment for a while, but soon gave into their pressure and left for a better job.

Return Of The Jedi

As it turned out, the Union couldn’t prevent the company from violating my rights under the National Labor Relations Act. They could only sue to make me whole after the fact.

So sue we did. It took a full year, but I had my day in court. I testified as the witness for the prosecution, in a lawsuit brought by the National Labor Relations Board. That was a cool day too.

In the end, the judge acknowledged the company’s wrongdoing and pushed for a settlement. I got a check for ten times what the company owed me – enough for a new synthesizer and a week’s vacation in Hawaii. Probably my coolest day ever.

A New Appreciation

The whole experience left me a bit wiser, and a whole lot more appreciative. Grateful for the sacrifices other people made to get the National Labor Relations Act signed into law back in 1935. Though most Americans aren’t represented by a collective bargaining agreement today, most of us have been receiving benefits for generations thanks to the labor movement.

It’s easy to complain about Union workers. Always the joke about a group of Union guys resting on their shovels watching one man dig. And there’s been corruption in Union leadership just as in corporate leadership. You’ve probably heard a few Jimmy Hoffa jokes as well. These are the stereotypes we know about Unions.

But we owe those folks plenty. Their willingness to fight for fair wages and workplace treatment benefits us all.

Things most of us have taken for granted. Things like…

Worker Safety

in 1911, 146 low-wage immigrant workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, due to criminally unsafe working conditions. It was the deadliest workplace incident in New York history, right up until the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.

Public outcry from this tragedy, and steady advocacy from labor unions, led to the formation of OSHA, which has been protecting us on the job ever since. If you’ve ever had a company issue you a hard hat, steel-toed boots, an ergonomic office chair or computer accessories, you have the Labor Movement to thank for it. And if you do get injured on the job, you can thank them for the Worker’s Comp and State Disability Insurance that will make you whole again.

Health Insurance

The main reason Congress got away with voting 54 times to undo the Affordable Care Act, is that the vast majority of working Americans get their health insurance from their employers.

But if it weren’t for the Labor Movement, you wouldn’t be getting company-sponsored health insurance. There were no employer-sponsored health benefits before WWII. It took the threat of a strike by organized labor to create our current system. If you have an employer plan, thank those lazy, shovel-leaning union workers for sticking their necks out for you. And their corrupt Mafia bosses too.

Paid Time Off

The 40-Hour work week, weekends, lunch breaks, vacation and sick days are all benefits we enjoy thanks to the Labor Movement.

Back in the day, companies would work you for as little and as long as they could. They’d work your kids to the bone in factories too. And if you balked, they’d bring in slaves from Africa or low-paid workers from China and cut you right out of the deal.

And you could forget about retirement. There were no such things as pensions or 401k contributions before organized labor. This country has a long history of workers being exploiting for profit.

So Party Like It’s Your Birthday

That’s right. Get together with friends and family, and do it up right. Just make sure you honor those who sacrificed so you get paid well and treated fairly at work. And when politicians start pouting anti-union rhetoric, remember who’s always had your back on the job.

Then if you feel like walking on the wild side, go ahead and show up for work next Tuesday wearing white slacks. Because I for one will fight for your right to wear white after Labor Day.

 

 

Why Catfish Are The Most Important Fish In The Sea

Yes, I know that Catfish are freshwater fish and don’t usually live in the sea. But we’re talking metaphor here, smarty pants, so don’t get so literal on me. If you can hold your horses long enough for me to explain, you will see why catfish are, in fact, the most important fish in the sea.

First, it’s important to know the other meaning of Catfish.

The Term Catfish

You may be too old to know this on your own, but Catfish is a term that means to pose as someone else online to lure someone into a relationship with you. It comes from the MTV show called Catfish, where they expose people who post phony profiles of themselves in order to trick people into online relationships.

Nev Schulman and his sidekick Max investigate these cases, and expose the Catfish, who are often lovesick individuals who lack the confidence or good looks to attract the ones they desire.

The Origin Story

We’re 6 seasons into this show, but most people don’t know the origin of the term “Catfish.”

It comes from Nev’s own personal experience of being “Catfished.” He had entered into a relationship with a woman who approached him online. But she was not who she claimed to be, and he made a documentary film about the experience. The film, a hit at Sundance and the impetus for the TV series, unraveled the woman’s deceptions, until finally uncovering the bizarre truth.

Angela, the woman who “Catfished” Nev, went to great lengths to hide her true identity from him, telling lie after lie. A married woman, she was somehow living out a fantasy at Nev’s expense.

When the documentary team uncovers the scheme, Angela’s husband Ronald learns about his wife’s deceptions. The most understanding husband in America, Ronald is not angry. He does not express feelings of betrayal. Instead, he explains his wife’s behavior by saying the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard on TV.

Why Catfish Are Valuable

Ronald explains that when Cod fish are caught in Alaska and shipped to China, they lose their freshness in the hold of the ship. Their flesh becomes mushy before they reach market.

So they put some Catfish in the vats with the Cod. The Catfish chase the Cod around, keep them agile, and preserve their freshness.

Ronald explains that his wife Angela is like a Catfish.

“There are those people who are Catfish in life, and they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh.”

“I thank God for the Catfish, because we’d be droll, boring and dull if we didn’t have somebody nipping at our fin.”  Ronald is brilliant, and this is how the TV show got its name.

The Dark Side Of Catfish In Social Media

Catfishing has become a common phenomenon in our Social Media driven culture. But I’m not suggesting that this practice is good. I think it’s rotten. Even Crappie (see what I did there? Rimshot).

It ruins people emotionally, and often, financially.  Manti Te’o, an All-American linebacker at Notre Dame, was Catfished during  his senior year,  just before the NFL draft. A projected first-round pick, Manti dropped to the second round, due to the cloud of controversy over him when his Catfish story became public. Though he recovered and went on to play in the NFL, his Catfish experience cost him a lucrative first-round contract.

Despite all that, I do think there are good and honest Catfish among us that keep the Cod agile, keep them thinking, and keep them fresh.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about you.

Why Manic Impressives Are Valuable

Yes, you Manic Impressives play a vital role in society. You challenge cultural norms, you speak truth to power, and you make people think.

You dream up outrageous schemes and try to influence your organizations to swing for the fences instead of laying down bunts. You challenge others to innovate, and to stop doing things the way they’ve always been done. You are a positive force for change.

Manic Impressives do more to realize mission statements than the administrators who write them up and post them on office walls. You keep everyone around you agile. You innovate, you challenge, then you make folks laugh.

You are the Catfish among the Cod, and we desperately need you to keep things fresh.

Yes, your spontaneity may come across as impulsiveness, and your extroversion may challenge the introverts. Your risk-taking may make the conservative thinkers uncomfortable at times. But we need you.

You keep us all healthy and fresh, so we fetch a better price at market. Don’t stop. Keep up the good work. Keep chasing the Cod around the tank and know you’re making the world a better place.

How To Capture Your Most Powerful Brain Storms

Storm DoorEver have Brain Storms? A bunch of ideas flooding into your brain?  I do. But not in a steady, consistent way. They seem to come in waves and at very unpredictable times. But when they do come, they just tumble on in, one after the other, connected by thin strands of logic.

Capturing the Brain Storms

I’ve learned over the years to try to catch these waves when they happen. Write them down, record them in some way, then try to take action on them. But sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to the storm that’s coming, and when it makes landfall in my head, I get overwhelmed, and lose a lot of potential brilliance.

During a recent brain storm, as I marveled at the speed and strength of the ideas coming to me, I thought of the cycle and how and when it happens. Suddenly, my vast knowledge of TV weather reporting came to mind, and a metaphor for creativity emerged. Continue reading How To Capture Your Most Powerful Brain Storms