Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

5 Things You Should Do Right Now

Right Now!

It’s that time of year. The days are shorter, the weather’s turning, and the holidays are rushing up at us with all their gluttony and overspending. You’ve only got a week before it all starts to go down, so get ready to do these things right now.

5 Things You Should Do Right Now

Our bodies naturally start to prepare for winter when the light changes and the temperature drops. The urge to carbo-load before winter is ages old. But we don’t need to store fat since we’re not going to hibernate. So we have to fight the natural urge to bulk up.

Some of these things have to do with your goals, some have to do with the season, and some have to do with timing and human nature.

But if you take a big deep breath and commit to doing these 5 things this week, right now, you’ll set yourself up for a great end of year, and a faster, stronger start to 2018.

1) Start Your Diet

You know the diet you start every year after you’ve stuffed yourself silly and resorted to elastic waistbands? That was me every single year. January 1 was always my heaviest day of the year.

But now I start that diet before the holidays. Seems crazy, but if I allow myself plenty of cheat days to account for Thanksgiving and all the ChrismaKwanzaHanukka events, I can stick to a diet plan during the holidays. Then I don’t end up so damned fat in January.

According to a new study by Cornell University, it takes the average person a full five months to lose the weight they gain over the holiday binge-eating season.

So eat clean this week and you can afford to indulge a bit on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Then go light the next four weeks, and allow cheat days for your holiday parties and that week of sloth at the end of December.

Lay off the sugar, fat, sodium and starchy carbs between your events. Then maybe you’ll just put on a couple pounds now, and be down to your fighting weight by Valentine’s Day instead of Easter.

2) Plan Your Exercise

Get it on the schedule. Don’t give up and give in right now. This is the time for a big burst of exercise.

Bust your butt in the gym, on the bike trail, or in the yoga studio. If you’ve been flirting with joining a gym or starting an exercise class, do it right now. Better to be the newbie in the gym in November than the newbie in the gym in January. Everybody mocks them.

Don’t let that be you. Set up your new exercise plan, hire that trainer, and start getting used to those new exercises. You’ll have a routine you can easily return to in January if you get it going right now.

3) Schedule Out Your Doctor Appointments

Check the balance on your Flexible Spending Account and get on the phone. End of year appointments fill up fast, so book your doctor, physical therapy, and lab work appointments while there’s still time.

If there are any things to get looked at, schedule it now before your new deductibles start in January. And don’t forget to have your molars checked by your dentist, and your moles checked by your dermatologist.

While you’re at it, get your car in for a checkup too. Get those weird noised checked out, change out your wiper blades, splash some RainEx onto your windshield, and top off the antifreeze before ski season starts.

4) Get Your Sleep

There will be lots of rushing around and plenty of travel ahead. We Manics like to burn the candle at both ends and the middle, so start pacing yourself now. Get your sleep in before the big rush.

The number one reason for drunkenness and lampshade dancing at office parties is lack of good sleep. People who are sleep deprived make bad life decisions. So before you’re tempted with alcohol and impromptu karaoke, get your ass to bed. You’re gonna need it.

5) Commit To The 3rd Annual Resolution Invitational Right Now!

Don’t think about it. Just pull out your calendar and block out the morning of December 31st, 2017. Yes, I know, that’s the morning of New Year’s Eve. But my accountability partners and I are going to deliver a workshop that will give you even more reason to celebrate and dance the night away.

Join us in person or online, and we’ll help you review your wins and losses from 2017, develop your Dreamboard for 2018, and set up the accounting system that will ensure you meet your goals.

Just respond with a comment below and you’re in!

It’s About Time To Forget Politics Again

Politics and Special Prosecutor MuellerThis time last year we were all obsessing over the presidential election.  I was so wrapped up in it that I had to forget about politics for a while and focus on my Magnificent Obsession.

I did pretty well for a while, but suddenly I’m back in that headspace, obsessing about things beyond my control. I’m lifting my nose off the grindstone and wallowing in politics again. Bad Manic Impressive!

Can You Blame Me?

There is a lot of fascinating stuff going on in politics right now. We’re debating how to prevent a nuclear war with N. Korea, how to cut taxes, and whether Tuesday’s election results indicate a wave of political change is coming.

But most fascinating to me is the special prosecutor situation and all the testimony going on to prove whether or not our new administration was in cahoots with the Russians.

This is fascinating stuff for people in a democracy. We get to see our constitution in action. And it’s very, very real. People are being threatened with long jail sentences, and we’re nowhere near a resolution. There will be shoes dropping all over the place in the coming weeks.

American History In Action

Back in 1875, President Ulysses Grant appointed the first special prosecutor to investigate the Whiskey Ring Scandal. Helluva scandal name right there.

Since then we’ve seen special prosecutors investigate Democrats and Republicans alike. Clinton for Whitewater and the  Lewinski scandal, Regan for the Iran-Contra Affair, and Nixon for Watergate.

All have been riveting, amazing political theater.

This new one with Trump could be even bigger than Watergate, where a few bumbling burglars brought down a presidency. Trump’s scandal involves a hostile foreign power that allegedly manipulated an American presidential election. Fascinating!

And this one’s got even more lurid gossipy potential because it involves the president’s son, daughter, and son-in-law.  And now, Russian hookers. Real juicy stuff.

No matter your political affiliation, there will always be juicy political scandals to obsess over.

Nothing But Distraction

But as juicy as it might be, it’s nothing but a distraction for us creative types. Yes, it involves our democracy at the highest and deepest levels, but it has nothing to do with us individually.

We’re not testifying before a Senate committee or to a government investigator. We’re not being dogged by cable news journalists to explain ourselves. And none of us are facing jail time or losing our jobs over any of this.

Sure, we should be involved to advocate for our rights, but at this point in the proceedings, we’re just consumers of information. Not subjects of inquiry.

So as much as it pains me to admit it, I need to stop obsessing over this stuff and get back to work.

The Magnificent Obsession

This is what we need to be focused on. That one amazing thing that will take our lives to the next level. That career move, that business plan, that invention we need to take onto Shark Tank and get funded by egotistical billionaires.

We need to focus on that brilliant project we were meant to bring to life. That idea we have in us that’s dying to get out and live in the world. That goal that will help us achieve our potential, and make the lives of the people around us better.

And this is the time of year when we need to set the wheels in motion on it. While life starts to slow a bit for the holidays. When the weather forces us indoors, and we have time to plan.

So start thinking about your Magnificent Obsession, if you’re not already elbows deep in it.  Figure out what you were built to do on this planet and start making some plans. Because there will be lots of distractions ahead, and you can’t afford to let another year slip by.

Encourage Me To Forget Politics And Turn Off My TV

So when you see me, don’t take the bait on the latest political gossip. If I start ranting about Mueller, Manafort, or the latest guy,  Keith Shiller, who was hauled in to testify about those Russian hookers Trump allegedly entertained in Moscow, please tell me to shut the hell up about politics. Tell me to turn off my TV and get back to work.

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…

 

 

 

 

 

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…

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 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…