How To Use Halloween To Empower Your Life

Jack O Lantern

It only comes around once a year and we think it’s for the kids. But it’s for you too, and no, I’m not joking. Because if you think about it, Halloween is a great tool to empower your life.

I know you think it’s all about groveling at your neighbor’s porch for free candy. That, and lugging around those orange Jack O’Lantern shaped buckets. But it can be far more than that if you break it down.

What’s Halloween Really About?

It’s about performing. A short little performance repeated over and over throughout the night. You wear a costume, perform a little theater, and create an illusion that you’re something you’re not. You attempt to surprise and delight your neighbors.

Yes, the bar is set really low. All you have to do is show up, in any excuse for a costume, and utter the magic words: Trick Or Treat! Then, unless you’ve done something unseemly or inappropriate, you get paid. Right on the spot. No questions asked.

Halloween Is About Getting Paid For Performing

That’s what Halloween really is. A chance to get out there and perform. For payment. In the form of tasty little high fructose laden treats. That you get to take home and savor.

Kind of like any other payment for services rendered.

Therefore, it’s useful to think of Halloween as a chance to improve your performance for pay on every other day of your life.

Be Something You’re Not

Halloween empowers us to become something we’re not. One night a year, we get to pretend to be anything we want. This is a powerful act. Because deep down, we all want this in some way or another. To be different than we are – stronger, smarter, sexier, thinner – we all yearn to be something we currently are not.

So, on every other day, just like you do on Halloween, dress the part and act like the person you want to become. Don’t just wish it, be it. Put on the costume of the successful person you want to be.

Don’t head to the gym in floppy sweats. Throw on that muscle shirt or squeeze into those Lycra tights. It doesn’t matter that your muffin top has a muffin top, or that you have to put on an extra pair of Spanx just to get into those tights. None of that matters.

If you walk around in the clothes of a fit person, you will start to think and feel like a fit person. Then you will start to act like one. Leave the workout clothes on when you get home, and you’ll eat like a fit person too.

Pretend to be that to which you aspire, and soon enough you will be.

Put On A Show

Realize that whenever you enter a room or make a phone call, you’re about to perform. Just like when you’re on your neighbor’s porch on Halloween. It’s showtime, so rock the stage.

Project your charisma with every personal encounter. Be original, unique, thought-provoking, or even plain old provoking. The better the show, the more candy you get.

Give everyone your best performance. Think it through in advance, mentally rehearse it, then treat that encounter like a performance you’re getting paid for.

Because it is. And you are. Just in a little less direct a way as on Halloween night.

Oh, and put some style into those voicemail messages. Make that person rush to call you back because your message is so compelling and your tone so engaging.

If you treat every interaction as a performance, you will attract more and better into your life.

Raise The Bar

The bar is low for Halloween because it wouldn’t be cool to deny kids candy when their costumes are lame. But you don’t need to lower your performance to where the bar is set.

Let’s face it, kids with killer costumes get more candy. Even when we want to be fair to all the kids, we can’t help but give a little more to the kids who go above and beyond to surprise and delight us.

The same is true for adults who go above and beyond. They get rewarded in lots of ways – raises, promotions, new opportunities. bigger discounts and better-looking dates.

So realize that you’re on stage at all times. Whenever there are people (or security cameras) around, you are performing for an audience. Then consider whether you should play down to the bar, or raise it. Just because other people go through the motions, it doesn’t mean you should too. There’s lots of candy at stake here.

Knock on that door, take a little step back, and a big deep breath. Then when that door opens, dazzle them with your show. And if their Treat isn’t up to the quality of your performance, take your act to the next door. You can always come later with a Trick…






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…