Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

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 cause me to 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 Use Jedi Mind Tricks For Fun And Profit

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master of Jedi Mind TricksObi-Wan Kenobi was the Master. He showed us the way with his Jedi Mind Tricks. Call it guile, charm, persuasion or influence, this is a vital skill for Manic Impressives. It’s how we get past our Stormtroopers and remove obstacles designed to stop us from moving forward.

Case in point.  While trying to penetrate the Death Star’s defenses (parking lot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) the other day, I came face to face with a Stormtrooper  (parking attendant). He greeted me civilly enough, but he was looking to get into my wallet. I was looking to slip past him and save my wallet for overpriced crap still to come.

Step One – Disrupt Their Thinking

Obi-Wan was dealing with highly trained, disciplined actors working from a script. When he said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for“, he was guaranteed the results he wanted.

I was dealing with a highly trained Disney employee working from a script, guaranteed to get the results Disney wanted. So I had to get him off script. This is the key to successful Jedi Mind Tricks.

I did it with a powerful left jab, metaphorically speaking. An open-ended question designed to throw him off his game.

I led with, “So what are we doing here?”

“Matthew” (in quotes since it was clearly a stage name for this “Cast Member”) was momentarily dazed, no doubt because the thousands of drivers before me had never said anything like that to him before. But he staggered back to his script.

“That depends on what you want. Regular Parking is $20, and Preferred Parking is $40.”

Step 2 – The Counter Offer

“What I want is Preferred Parking for free.”

It’s important to let people know they’re in a negotiation. Especially people in charge, used to enforcing rules. Just because everybody else complies doesn’t mean you have to.

Stunned by a right hook to his midsection, “Matthew” leaned against the ropes. In a flash, my tag-team partner was on him.

Step 3 – The Reasoned Argument

My wife came back with a classic that had worked before“We’re not parking. We’re just going to go into the park for a bit, go on some rides, eat some lunch, buy a few souvenirs, and then head right back to the car.”

Once you’re in a position to negotiate, you need to do their thinking for them. You must give them the words they need to justify giving you what you’re asking for.

Step 4 – The Close

Obi-Wan closed by controlling their minds. You have to close by controlling their logic and emotions. You do this by giving them the justification for what you’re asking, being charming, funny and nice, and then, this is key, you shut up and let the silence work its magic.

After my wife gave the Reasoned Argument, I closed with, “So we’re not really parking.” All I had to do then was shut up and keep a straight face.

“Matthew” complied. “Alright then, since you’re not really parking, you can go on in.”  Score – Disney 0, Us $40. A knockout by any measure.

Jedi Mind Tricks For Fun And Profit

Using Jedi Mind Tricks is tremendous fun and can be financially rewarding. They come in handy in dozens of situations every day.

It worked for Obi-Wan, and it will work for you. Disrupt Their Thinking, Counter, give a Reasoned Argument, then Close with a straight face and silence.

Ask for what you want, even if you think it’s impossible to get. When I blurted out, “What I want is Preferred Parking for free”, I felt unbridled glee. I guarantee that no one had been audacious enough to say that to “Matthew” before.

I won the round, and that alone could have been my prize.

But by continuing my influence with “Matthew” I achieved my actual goal. No, I didn’t really think it would happen. But I did it with a straight face anyway because I believe in The Force. It has rewarded me enough times over the years that I do not doubt it.

It’s real.

And so are the two 20-dollar bills still sitting safely in my pocket.

 

 

 

Why The Big Sick Is What You Need To See Right Now!

What you need to see right nowKamail’s Nanjiani’s awesome autobiographical movie The Big Sick came out two weeks ago and scored 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. What you need to see right now, is this poignant story of a struggling comic overcoming huge challenges to become a world-class artist.

This movie shows how to commit to a path, endure the pressure of family expectations, support others through difficult times, and what’s most important in life. What we all need to do to be successful Manic Impressives. What you need to see right now.

More importantly, we all need to do this to be successful Americans. As another 4th of July slips by, we need to help each other commit to our dreams, and support each other through the tough times.

That’s what America has always been about.

Committing To A Dream

Kamail emigrated from Pakistan to the US as a teenager. Born a Muslim and transplanted into a culture hostile to his heritage, Nanjiani uses his journey as a platform for his art. He doesn’t beat you with it, but uses charm and deadpan humor to win your heart.

Kamail struggles as comics do to get his time on stage. He works hard at his craft to get better, but doesn’t let failure set him back. His painful moments are broadcast on YouTube for all to see, and he bombs so badly at times you wonder how he can get back on stage.

But he does, despite crappy living conditions and in-your-face USA, USA! type racism. He gets kicked down plenty but keeps going. His commitment to his art is unwavering, and a lesson to all of us creatives.

Growth Through Struggle

Though it’s natural to seek comfort in life, there is no growth there for us. Manic Impressives must take risks and lean into the struggle. Kamail is a great role model. He is drawn back to a failed relationship to support a family in crisis, and along the way is forced to confront his own painful shortcomings.

His pattern has been to hide out, deceive his family to stay connected, and sell out his own relationships to keep the peace. But there is no peace in this strategy. Like all of us must, he learns he has to confront his family and carve out his own path.

Kamail grows up during an intense struggle with his family’s expectations for him, and learns to rebel in a productive way. The scene where he finally confronts them is both heartbreaking and hilarious. If all of us can learn to channel our humor in this defiant yet healing way, Dr. Phil would be out of business in a weekend.

The Power Of Supportive Community

The biggest lesson here for us is the need for support. His main competitors are also his biggest supporters. Comedians must compete, but they have a habit of collaborating and supporting each other in ways many of us don’t. When a Letterman or a Leary or a Foxworthy makes a breakthrough, he reaches back and pulls his friends, former competitors, through with him. He creates more success for himself by helping others succeed.

At one point in Kamail’s journey, his closest rivals come to him with the news they are going to New York. They don’t give him a choice. We’re going and you’re going with us. We will struggle, it will be tough, and at times it will suck. But you will come with us and it will be great. We will succeed together.

This is how we do it folks. With the help of our rivals, who become our biggest supporters, our most honest critics, and our network that opens doors for us. When one gets through we all get through.

What You Need To See Right Now!

Look around. See the people who are your rivals, your competitors. Who is struggling in the same direction as you? Link up, give and receive honest feedback, and push each other.

No one succeeds alone.

So you must see this movie right now. Take your spouse or someone who could be your spouse. Take your rival or someone who dreams your dreams. But it’s something you need to see right now before the beer and the fireworks wear off.

 

3 Things You Should Never Say To Yourself

If you’re trying to be more than you are today, you need to watch your self-talk. Because there’s a part of you that’s always listening, and it can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction.  Your subconscious believes everything you say, then triggers your feelings, which in turn dictate your actions. So there are things people often say, that you should never say to yourself.

“That’s My Story And I’m Sticking To It”

We tell ourselves stories all the time. It’s normal for humans to observe the behaviors of others, make assumptions about their intent, and assign judgements to them. It’s how we make sense of the world around us.

But we need to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. Have you ever seen a guy driving faster than you and called him a jerk? Sure you have. But what if that guy just got bad news about his wife’s cancer and was rushing home to comfort her? Maybe he’s a deeply compassionate husband more concerned with his mate’s feelings than the posted speed limit.

Your sub-conscious mind can’t differentiate between facts and opinions. Especially when it’s in your own voice. If you’re the one saying it, your brain will believe it. Then it will act accordingly to cut off that jerk who’s just trying to take care of his ailing wife.

Now who’s the jerk?

Be careful about sticking to your story. It’s often an excuse for bad behavior. Because what usually happens is your story sticks to you.

Never say “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” Tell a better story instead, and you’ll trigger better behavior.

“I Don’t Feel Like It”

Manic Impressives fail to produce when they give in to these words. We love to start things, but often run out of steam before we finish our creative projects and launch them into the world.

Mel Robbins, a speaker, writer and coach, wrote a brilliant book about this problem called Stop Saying You’re Fine.  It’s loaded with case studies of Manics who yearn for more, but chicken out when it really matters.

She states that when you say “I don’t feel like it” to yourself, the very thing you don’t feel like doing is the most valuable thing you can do in that moment. It’s what will move you forward in your life toward the things you want.

If you want to be more than you are today, you must get better at doing the things you don’t want to do. Like sending out inquiry letters for your book,  imposing on others to buy your beer-can sculptures, or making phone calls to get that dream job interview.

If you don’t feel like it, it’s a sign that it’s probably the thing you should do right this minute. Not when you magically feel like doing it at some mysterious point in the future. Use Mel’s 5 Second Rule. Whenever you start thinking about something you should do, take immediate action within the first 5 seconds of having the thought.

Never say “I don’t feel like it” if you want to be a successful creator.

“I’m Tired”

You may have great reasons to say this. And at bedtime it’s a great thing to say. Your body will respond and it will be easier to crawl into bed and go to sleep.

But if you say it at the wrong time, your body will sink into your alleged tiredness and resist further effort. This is dangerous to say when you need to do more in order to be more. Especially when you come home from work and there are things you need to do to feel good about yourself. Like exercise, clearing clutter, or getting your gear ready for the next morning.

Sure you’re tired. But your body doesn’t need to know it. Not when there’s a short-story to finish, a blog post to write, a spouse to listen to, or a child that needs you. Save these words for bedtime.

“I’m tired” is a trigger to stop. Never say it when there’s more to do.

Never Say Self-Limiting Things

Okay, never is a pretty strong word. You’re going to say these things at times. But if you start listening to yourself, you may find the self-limiting language your subconscious hears that causes you to be less than you could be.

Listen up, rewind and restate, then take immediate action within 5 seconds. You’ll finish more of what you start, make progress toward your dreams, be a little less Manic, and a lot more Impressive.

How to Survive the Blazing Heat and Stay Motivated

Don’t know how it’s been where you are, but it’s been blazing here. 107 on Sunday, 105 today, and not our usual heat that lets up at night. We’ve had Fresno heat this past week, where it’s hot all night long and you have to seal yourself inside your house and blast the air conditioning. It’s hard to stay focused and motivated in this heat.

I’ve sort of melted down to a lethargic pile of goo. Feeling swollen, cranky, bored and blue. Very hard to pursue my goals in this weather.

Fighting The Malaise

I suppose everyone has to deal with this at some point in the year. For some it’s rainy weather. Others struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder when the days are short and overcast. But we’re nowhere near the Dog Days of Summer and I’m acting like a bored teenager. Nothing seems interesting or fun, and Summer is just two days old. I may be in trouble here.

Sure I’ll rally. I’m on deadline and that keeps me focused. And a lot of this will pass along with this heat wave. But just in case, we better make a plan. We must stay motivated.

The Antidote Is Water

Got to get in or on a body of water. A dunk in the pool always feels good. Just need to get there and throw myself in.

Wading in a river, splashing in the ocean, it’s been mankind’s answer for centuries. Migrate to cooler climates in summer and hit the water. Leave the sweltering valleys for the coast or the mountains.

It takes more effort, and I’m weak right now, but getting the kayak out on the water would be good too.

Music

Summer is the season for free concerts. I stumbled upon X Factor’s Jason Brock today, in of all places, the cafeteria of San Francisco’s Zuckerberg Memorial General Hospital. Though he opened with a Sade song (I hate Sade!), despite my lethargy and foul mood, he made me feel good.

Music always makes me feel better, and hearing it live and for free makes it even sweeter. Check out your city’s Park & Rec department for their free concert series and bust out your lawn chairs and ice chest. They’re everywhere this time of year in parks, farmer’s markets, libraries, shopping malls, and even hospital cafeterias.

If you can make your way to Fremont tomorrow evening, there’s a great one featuring Big Bang Beat at Shirley Sisk Grove by New Park Mall. I’m a bit biased, as the bari player is my brother, but these guys are an awesome party band. They’ll make you forget the heat, and I’ll have a little something in my ice chest for you. Maybe even some…

Cocktails

I hate to advocate substance use to change one’s emotional state. But hell, it was 107 and the ceiling fan in the bedroom died. We’re talking survival here, and we must stay motivated.

So a little social lubrication could be worth a try. Get a little buzz on and relax. Loosen up a bit and see the big picture. Forget about the present. Reminisce about the past and fantasize the about future.

If it’s good enough for Manic Impressives like Ernest Hemingway or Stephen King, it’s good enough for you. In moderation of course.

Rum is good in hot weather, right? Maybe a refreshing Mojito. Or a little vodka and citrus, like a Salty Dog, or a classic, frozen Margarita. Perhaps an ice-cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or a Pliney The Elder Imperial IPA. This is a battle, and these are my weapons.

Stay Motivated!

Soldier on, everyone. Keep creating and stay motivated. This heat wave too shall pass…

How To Get From Deep In Debt To Solvent And Secure

  1. From deep in debt to solvent and secure

“Debt Kills Creativity”,  Damian Mason

There’s no bigger dream-killer than being deep in debt. And there’s nothing worse on a relationship than financial stress. So in 1995, with over $20,000 in consumer debt and barely one job between us, my wife and I did what anyone should, to get from deep in debt to solvent and secure  – we fled the country.

But not to a place with a lower cost of living. We quit our jobs, rented out our house, put our stuff in storage and bought one-way tickets to Tokyo. The most expensive place we could find. Then we signed contracts for two very low-paying jobs.

You’re right, that’s totally nuts. Crazy financial strategy right there. But 2½ years later we returned to the States completely debt-free with $10,000 cash in hand (100,000 in yen, actually) to re-start our American Dream .

How did we do it? With a change in financial philosophy and 5 simple strategies you can copy.

Pay Yourself First

If there’s one overriding piece of advice to follow, this is it. Pay yourself first. Let everyone else get in line. We’d gotten lulled into thinking we could “afford” a bunch of things we hadn’t yet earned. This causes a lot of people to pay their bills first, squander a bit on luxury, then put what’s left into savings.

Absolutely not. If you’re doing this, stop it right now!

Take 25 percent off the top and sock it away. Then pay your bills. If there’s money left over, great. Have a good time. Buy ridiculous, impractical things. But only when you’ve paid yourself first.

From our first payday in Japan, we sent one paycheck home to pay off our debt, and lived off the other. We paid ourselves first, then lived off what was left.

For Everyone Else, Use Auto Pay 

Living in Japan in the 90’s, we were surprised to find there were no checking accounts. The Japanese paid their routine bills automatically from their bank accounts and used cash for everything else. No checks or credit cards, no late fees, interest or overwhelming balances. Just debts that were settled in full, every month, automatically.

Manics, more than any type of people, have trouble with details like writing checks, finding and addressing envelopes, hunting down stamps and remembering to get things in the mail. That’s five steps for every bill. Neither smart nor lazy, that’s a procrastinator’s path to late fees.

I should know. I’ve paid thousands in late fees. And not because I was broke. But because my process was broke. It required too much discipline. Other types of people live neat, orderly lives. But not us.

So when we returned to the U.S., we set up all our recurring bills on auto-pay. No more late fees, and more importantly, no time, thought or effort. Smart and lazy!

Live Within Your Means

This was tough in a place so incredibly expensive. At home we paid $1 for 4 ears of corn. In Japan we paid $4 for 1 ear of corn. We paid 25 cents a pound for a watermelon at home. In Japan watermelons were $25. Each.

With seeds!

So we adapted, and learned the most important lesson of all. We had to get over the shame of being humble about our spending, instead of  digging our hole deeper to save face.

When a group goes out to dinner in Japan, they split the check evenly no matter who orders what. It only took a few $100 tabs for a bowl of miso soup and a salad to realize we couldn’t afford other people’s extravagance. So we stopped going along with the crowd when we couldn’t afford to, and caught up with them after dinner.

Move To The Cash Standard

When credit is easy, it’s tempting to buy first and pay later. But credit card debt is the number 1 killer of financial dreams. If you’re carrying consumer debt, you’re digging a hole that will be tough to get out of, no matter your income.

In Japan we each made only 250,000 yen a month. That’s $2500 American dollars. Since our credit cards were tapped out, and no one wanted to let a Gaijin (filthy devil foreigner) run up a tab, we had to stop spending when the cash was gone. We walked instead of hailing a cab, and cooked at home instead of eating out.

The upside was losing weight from all the walking, and finally getting full after a meal (Japanese portions are tiny!).

It was tough for a while, but over time we stopped digging the hole and started filling it in. Today we carry no consumer debt besides a mortgage. Yes, we use credit cards, to earn airline miles and track our spending. But we pay them in full automatically each month from our checking account. Because they’re all on auto-pay.

From Deep In Debt To Solvent And Secure

Suzy Orman likes to tell people to “stand in your truth.” It can be painful at first, if your truth is deep dept. But the path to solvency and security is through knowing exactly where you stand financially.

So we put it on paper. All our debts subtracted from all our assets. A classic but simple balance sheet with a bottom line. At first the bottom line was ugly and very red. But we moved into the black with conscious effort and honest acknowledgment of where we stood.

It didn’t happen all at once. But by the time we moved home we were solvent. And we’ve stayed that way ever since by following these 5 simple strategies.

If you want some help with this, let me know. I’ll send you a template of my balance sheet to get you to your bottom line. Then you can go from deep in debt, to solvent and secure. Or to patting yourself on the back for already being financially awesome.

It’s a very good feeling…

 

You May Be Closer Than You Think

You May Be Closer Than You Think
Stargate

My chance encounter last week got me thinking about the barriers that separate us from success. How one lucky break can get us through to a dream job interview, a new social circle, a whole new venture. Singular moments where your world collides with possibility, proving you may be closer than you think to your dreams.

It’s like there’s a thin membrane that separates us from the next big level in our lives. Like that portal thingee in Stargate.  If we can just break through this thin barrier, we can step into another dimension of success, using the talent and experience  we already have.

Challenging The Laws Of Physics

Try this little experiment. Get a cup of water and try to float a paperclip on it. If you’re like most people and most paperclips, you will fail. It will sink to the bottom.

Now, take a second paperclip, bend the inside loop 90 degrees to form a letter ‘L’. Then place the first paperclip on this ‘L’ shaped clip and lower it gently to the water’s surface. If you’re like most people and most paperclips, it will now float on the surface.

Amazing right? How can this piece of metal float on water? It’s because of a thin membrane of surface tension caused by air pressure pushing down on the water.

How Surface Tension Keeps Us From What We Want

Like the membrane on top of water created by surface tension, you may be stuck behind a thin membrane separating you from success.

A flexible barrier caused by opposing simultaneous forces. The outside force, pushing inward, is life’s circumstances that keep you in check.  Lack of  time or money or knowing the right people. Things that can be solved with effort, patience, and a little luck.

On the inside pushing outward, is the pressure from your internal beliefs. You create this in your head, thinking the things you want are so far away and require huge shifts in your circumstances.

Self-limiting beliefs cause the internal pressure that forms the thin membrane separating us from our desires.

You May Be Closer Than You Think

So, what if we lessen the internal pressure? Suddenly the membrane weakens. Our thinking can pierce the pressure that holds us back. Then it’s just a matter of  hustle and patience and persistence. Things we have. Things we can control.

We need to see what’s possible, and listen to the little whispers of our deepest desires. Yet most of us are afraid of our desires. They’re scary because they challenge our current circumstances. We can’t be stand-up comedians because we have families to support. We can’t be wealthy because we’re afraid of losing money in the stock market. We can’t be artists because we can’t make a living right now with our music, our acting or our poetry.

How We Self Sabotage

Those fears keep us from doing what we can do – chip away, little by little, with the discretionary time we do have.

Our desires are so scary that we actually manufacture situations so we can tell the little whispers they’re not practical.

We procrastinate little unimportant things, like paperwork and filing deadlines, until they become urgent. Then we tell ourselves that we can’t chase our dreams. We have to do these other things or the lights will go off or the IRS will garnish our meager wages.

In the end, we’re so afraid of trying and failing that we create situations that rob us of the chance to try.  We tell the little whispers to be quiet and go away – until we retire, or our ships come in, or our big breaks materialize.

Little Breaks Are All We Need

Big breaks are great, but what we really need are little breaks. Little cracks in the membrane, enough to allow us to squeeze through. To taste enough success to know our talent is real, our skills are valuable, and our dreams are achievable.

If you reduce the internal pressure on your membrane, you can start poking holes in it. Then you can take action and breakthrough to the success that is waiting for you on the other side. 

Gloria Estefan sang it best:

Get on your feet, get up and make it happen

Get on your feet, stand up and take some action…

So get out your paperclips. Bend them, float them, and once you see how you can challenge the laws of physics, use their little pointy ends to poke holes. Holes big enough to step through – in the direction of your little whispered desires. Because your dreams may be closer than you think

 

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.

Again. 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

3 Skinny Gems To Help You Achieve Your Goals

3 Skinny Gems

We’re officially 6 weeks into the New Year. So how are you doing on your goals? I ask because with the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day over and the weather still crappy, this is the time when a lot of people lose their fire and start skipping out on their promises to themselves.

I don’t want this to happen to you, so I’m recommending 3 inspiring little books that can push you forward.  And by little, I mean short, the longest no more than 3/4 of an inch thick. I’ve read them all many times, and I have an extra copy of one I’ll give to one of you. Continue reading 3 Skinny Gems To Help You Achieve Your Goals