Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

What To Do When Your Winning Streak Is Over

Falling Off Your HorseNBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain scored 20+ points in 126 consecutive games between 1961 and 1963. Olympic hurdler Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive races between 1977 and 1987. I posted to this blog 119 weeks in a row between 2016 and 2018.  My own personal 119-week winning streak.

As you may have noticed, my streak ended last week.

Like all-time greats Wilt and Edwin, I kept a streak alive for over two years. But also like these greats, I now have to deal with what happens when a streak is over.  

The Thing About Streaks

A winning streak can be a wonderful thing. It can build momentum, confidence, and the habit of winning. It can give you an extra reason to keep pushing and keep at it. A winning streak can be its own reason to consistently produce.

There’s comfort in knowing you’re on a streak, but tremendous pressure too. Many times over the last two years I wondered how long I could keep it up without faltering.

“Is this the week I break my streak?” was a question I would constantly have to answer.

But as each week passed with a post on the blog, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment and answered that question by saying, “no, this is not that week.” Friday mornings would bring a sense of calm and satisfaction. But often, my greatest feeling was relief.

Fear Of Failure As Motivator

When you get on a winning streak, it’s easy to start feeling a bit of dread. What will happen when I do fail?

Other types of people would probably just focus on all the winning and not worry about an impending loss. But we Manic Impressives have more on the line. We are often haunted by the many things we’ve started and not finished in our lives. So doing something consistently is a big deal for us.

Failing during a streak can reinforce a lot of negative crap we have rattling round in our heads. We worry that once we do fail, we won’t be able to recover and we’ll fall into a self-loathing hole and be worse off than if we had never tried in the first place.

That’s why bringing a project to completion or continuing a streak is such a big deal for people like us. We have reason to worry that once we fall off that horse, we won’t be able to get back on. We’ll lose our momentum, lose interest, or get distracted by something else.

Aging Manic Impressives like me can’t afford to not finish things.

Negative Self Talk

In 2007, during the San Diego Marathon, I faced the same dilemma. I’d had a great day in 2006 and had trained hard to come back and beat my time. In 2008 I would train again, have a fabulous day and set a triumphant personal best.

But in 2007, everything was going wrong. My pre-race routine got messed up, I developed a blister and started feeling sick to my stomach.  But the thought of quitting after so much training was even more sickening.

At mile 19 my coach handed me a bottle of Gatorade. It slipped out of my hand, and as I bent over to pick it up, I nearly fell on my head. Right then I knew that if I stopped, even for a minute,  I would never regain the momentum to finish the race.

So I stumbled on, and slightly revived by the drink, managed to finish. But it was not a triumph. I suffered torture so I wouldn’t suffer shame. I pushed myself with negative thoughts of how I would feel if I did not finish.  All stick and no carrot.

My prize was feeling physically ill and not being able to eat a normal meal for almost a week.  All because of what I was telling myself.

Why The Big Deal?

Why couldn’t I just stop? No one was paying me and I’m not a pro athlete like Wilt or Edwin. No one else cared about my silly race.

Why did I punish myself instead of just quitting? So I could brag about taking 14813th place? No, that’s not it.

It’s because I am Manic Impressive – I have a nasty inner critic, and a long memory of all the times I didn’t finish something in my life.

What To Do When Your Winning Streak Is Over

So now that my lovely little streak is over, it’s important that I learn from my past. At times like this, there are only three things to do.

Celebrate

Dust yourself off and pat yourself on the back. A lot. You earned it and you need it. So you can start another streak and not fall into that hole we talked about.

Reframe Your Thinking

After you get over the disappointment, slap a big smile on your face and think about all you accomplished. You tell your inner critic to shut the hell up and you put your streak in perspective. You can’t win all the time, and being all perfectionist and negative about it won’t help.

Focus on the accomplishment and forget the coulda, shoulda, woulda. Be proud and happy that you kept your streak alive as long as you did.

Get Back On That Damn Horse

Don’t worry about winning, and don’t even try to be good. Just get back up on that damn thing. Other people can take a nice long break after a streak. But Manic Impressives need to be back in the saddle as soon as possible. If we lie around in the dirt too long, we’re likely to get distracted and start thinking about starting a worm farm.

Don’t do that. That would be stupid. Get back up on that horse.

You’re not a farmer and worms taste lousy.

 

 

 

 

How To Be Impressive When You’re Failing

Failing and impressing in publicIf you’re a risk-taking extrovert like most Manic Impressives, you’re bound to find yourself screwing up at times. These are moments that test your ability to thrive, even when your mistakes are out loud and very public. So it’s important for folks like us to know how to be impressive even when we’re failing.

Case In Point

If you show some talent with words and audiences, at some point you will be asked to get up in front of a large group to speak. Even if you find yourself failing at this, you can do it in a way that is impressive.

Like when my friend asked me to read a bible passage at her wedding. It was going to be a big formal church thing, so I showed up at the rehearsal with the passage marked in my bible. At the appropriate time, I got up and did my part.  The pastor told me that during the wedding, I would actually be reading from the giant bible on the lectern. It would be opened to the right page and the passage would be marked. Cool.

Holy Crap, I’m Failing!

But during the actual wedding, I got up to the lectern and found that every passage was marked in the giant bible. Holy Crap, what am I going to do? I scanned every part of the opened page, then flipped ahead a couple pages to see if someone had accidentally turned to the wrong page.

There was a polite “ahem” from the pastor, calling my attention to the passing time. I looked up, scanned the audience, gulped, and realized I would just have to pick a passage and go. With a thousand eyes trained on me, I chose something and began to read.

If you’re playing along at home, you can probably see it coming. Yes, it’s true.  I read a funeral passage at my friend’s wedding.

Funny Thing About That…

Two heads immediately jerked my way when I launched into a most inappropriate message for a wedding. I did my best to ignore the daggers stared at me from the pastor and the mother of the bride.

I soldiered on, finished my part, and sat down in shame. Hey, the show must go on, right? I’d suffer the consequences after.

But that’s not what happened. Immediately after the ceremony, the bride’s brother-in-law came up to me and congratulated me on my reading. “Aram, wow, that sure was a dramatic pause up there. You had us all hanging on every word!”

Not what I was expecting. Shamefully I confessed I had not paused for dramatic effect. I was totally lost and panicking in front of the packed church, not knowing what to do. He pointed out that no one seemed to notice and I had read beautifully. “Good job, Aram!”

Three Keys To Being Impressive While Failing

Looking back, there were three key things I had going for me that day. These key qualities will serve you well when you’re panicking in front of an audience, knowing you may be about to blunder.

Composure

If you’ve so far managed not to pass out or vomit, acknowledge that you’re going to be okay (there’s no recovering from unconsciousness or barf). The most important thing to do in a failing situation is to keep it together and keep moving.

Stand your ground, stick to your message, and deliver as best you can. If you can keep your composure in difficult moments and not draw more attention to your mistakes, you can still be in position to impress.

Confidence

You’re going to need this just to get up there, and you can’t get good at performing in front of others if you don’t get up onstage.

So you need to cultivate a healthy bit of confidence – enough to develop your capability and withstand the shame or ridicule that can come from failing in public.

Character

Difficult moments don’t necessarily build character. But they certainly reveal character. If you are a person of integrity and can own your mistakes, people will respect you just for that. You may not be their first call for the next speaking gig, but you can still impress them with your character.

So showing a little humility is good, but flogging yourself isn’t. Take your mistakes in stride and you’ll live to tell great stories to your grandchildren. Most every great speaker or entertainer lives through some public failure, and they often use their mistakes to entertain and enlighten future audiences.

Failing Is Relative

I endured some gentle ribbing from my performance, and yes, the mother of the bride and the pastor held it against me to some extent.

But not in the way you might think.

Many years later, at the mother of the bride’s funeral, the family asked me to do a bible reading at her ceremony.

If you’re playing along at home, you can probably see it coming. Yes, it’s true, I read a wedding passage at my friend’s mother’s funeral.

But not by mistake. By request. 

Everyone Loves A Tale Of Redemption

My wedding screw up was part of my friend’s family lore. They had enjoyed this story so much, my friend asked me to read the wrong passage on purpose. In honor of her mother.

It was one of the kindest things a person could do.  My friend gifted me the chance to redeem myself publicly. And in the spirit of the event, I managed to savor this very inside joke right along with them. And maybe even impress (or confuse) another packed house in that very same church.

So when you’re going down in flames, keep your composure and don’t draw any more attention to your mistakes. Tap into your inner confidence, and take the opportunity to reveal your character.

You just might end up impressing people because, not in spite, of your failing.

All because of Lucy. My deepest thanks to the dearest friend a guy could ever have.

 

My Surefire Method To Kill Opportunity

I just got off the phone with a business owner interviewing me for an executive coaching role with his company. A great opportunity, I really wanted impress. But halfway through the call, I realized I was about to kill opportunity.

I was talking waaaaay too much. 

My Surefire Method To Kill Opportunity

As skilled as I am at creating opportunity with words. I am equally skilled at killing opportunity with words. Too many words.

Being Manic Impressive means being good with words. Using them to inspire, enlighten, cajole and entertain. We are schmoozers and storytellers gifted in the verbal arts. We use words to charm and delight our prospects, and influence them to act on our behalf.

But too much of a good thing is very often a bad thing.

The Double-Edged Sword

Eloquent words are great weaponry in most aspects of life. But like any weapon used incorrectly, words can inflict a lot of damage to yourself.  I happen to be very good at stabbing myself this way.

I’m like a ninja assassin. But I’m constantly taking me out.

It starts out great, with me passionately answering questions and giving great examples and stories of how awesome I am. And yes, in a job interview, you do need to sell yourself.

But I often don’t know when to stop selling. And overselling, like talking too much, can be deadly when it comes to opportunity.

Talking Yourself Out Of A Deal

In my early sales training with Xerox, one of the basic concepts they preached was knowing when to make an offer and then to shut up. “Don’t talk yourself out of a deal”, they would say.

Of course, I understood the concept, in theory. But a few years later, I would fail in real-time to succeed in the practice.

After three months of knocking on doors to sell training for a new company, I finally landed an appointment with a key decision-maker. If I could close this guy, I’d get a big account that would get our new firm successfully off the ground.

Things were going great, but for some reason, I was oblivious to all the buying signals this guy was giving off. I kept pushing and kept talking. Until he finally actually said, “Hey, are you going to talk yourself out of this deal? I already said yes. Please stop selling me!”

A Lesson I Have To Keep Repeating

This guy did me a huge favor. Talk about “teachable moment!” The lesson he taught me was worth far more than the two years of business I got through the contract he signed.

But despite all that, I find myself all these years later, still having to remind myself to keep it brief. Make the point, ask for the business and shut the hell up.

Or as in the case of an interview, answer the question and move on. Don’t belabor the point. One good example is enough. A solid story to show what you can do. Be brief, and you’ll give them more time to ask you more questions.  Then you can tell more (short) stories that prove your worth.

But if you, like me, cross that invisible line by talking too much, you might test their patience.  And you never want them to start wondering if you’ll be more trouble than you’re worth.

Don’t Kill Opportunity Like Me

Be smart. Choose your words wisely and don’t overwhelm people with them. Know when to ask for what you want, and then, SHUT UP! Let the other person respond without jumping in to fill the silence.

Silence can be your best friend. Lord knows I need him with me now.

How To Not Suck On The Phone

How To Not Suck On The PhoneI just hung up on a caller who totally deserved it. It wasn’t just that my landline only seems to serve salespeople and scammers these days, or because of her heavy accent. It was because she sucked at communicating by phone. That, and I swear this really happened, there was a rooster crowing in the background.

Whether you’re a Manic Impressive or a hardcore introvert, it’s important to communicate well over the phone. Sure, a lot of people only use their phones to text, but a skilled human voice over the telephone can be a very powerful thing.

You can inspire and move someone to action, or you can suck and annoy the bejabbers out of people. Either way, there are a few things to consider before you pick up the phone.

Master Your Instrument

Your voice is your instrument, and to play it well, you need to support it. To get the best quality sound you must breathe from your diaphragm and let the sound resonate throughout your chest.

The diaphragm is that muscle that lies horizontally below your abdomen, that allows you to push air through your lungs and out your face. If you pretend to blow out a candle, you can feel it working just below your belly button.

This is where you should breathe from if you want a quality sound. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a much thinner, more nasally tone, and sacrifice the quality of your voice. And that can be shrill and annoying for others to listen to.

So before you begin speaking, take a good-sized breath, support it from your diaphragm, and use your instrument to its fullest.

Cut Out The Annoying Sounds And Words

We all do this to an extent. While we’re thinking of what we’re trying to say, we’ll stall a bit with an “uhm” or an “ahh.” These filler sounds do not help our cause. Far better to just pause, then resume your speaking when you have the right word in your mouth ready to go.

This will take some thought and practice, though.

But while you’re at it, watch out for the clichés and overused expressions. If you’re saying, “You know what I’m saying?” more than once in a conversation, you’re testing your audience’s patience.

The same goes for tired words like, “whatever,” “basically” and “literally,” or worn out phrases like, “it is what it is” or “at the end of the day.”

Please stop calling other people “snowflake”, and if you catch yourself saying, “no offense, but…”, know that you’re probably about to offend someone. And don’t even think of saying “totes.” That’s just begging to be slapped.

Align Your Tone With Your Message

I was on the phone with a bureaucracy the other day and had been transferred to several different people. I was getting pretty frustrated when one young woman acknowledged my frustration.

Normally that would be a good thing. But she did it with the same upbeat, sing-song tone she had used when she introduced herself and asked how she could help me.

That set me off even more. Without the aid of visual cues, our phone communication is heavily dependent on tone. Pitch and inflection carry a lot of meaning. But her tone lacked any empathy or caring, which made the situation many times worse.

Then after being no help to me at all, she ended the call with a dagger. In that same sing-song, Up With People voice, she returned to her script and asked, “is there anything else I can help you with today?”

I bottled my rage and hung up. I just couldn’t answer her question without being an a-hole. Because she really sucked on the phone.

Pick Up The Damn Phone

With all the technology we have at our fingertips, a lot of folks no longer use their phones to make phone calls. Despite all the ways to screw up a call, the worst way is to not make the call at all.

I was doing some networking yesterday and found a woman I wanted to connect with on LinkedIn. I sent an invite, she accepted, then I started writing an email to explain my intentions and try to engage with her.

A few minutes in I realized there was a much easier way. I found her phone number and took a chance. Sure, some people may find it intrusive, but hey, she agreed to connect, and what did I have to lose? Just in case, I started the call by apologizing for the intrusion.

Turns out she was very open to my call. We spoke for 45 minutes then scheduled another call for later. She thanked me for taking the chance, then said, ” I wish more people would just pick up the damn phone!”

It may be generational, but a lot of us have forgotten how powerful and effective a phone call can be. Far quicker than email, way more informative than texting, and it allows for the warmth and human connection that’s gone missing from our Social Media driven society.

Unsocial Media

There it is, I said it. And at the risk of sounding like an old man, I’ll say it some more. All this technology has made us unsocial. We “like” things,  we “friend” people,  and we send “emojis”. But we rarely send real emotion to the friends we profess to like. Because that’s not something you can do digitally.

But it is something you can do over the phone. So warm up your vocal chords, support your instrument with your diaphragm,  and send some real emotion to another human. And if there’s a chicken coop in your backyard, close the damn window before you make a business call.

Why Most People Fail At New Year’s Resolutions

For those of us brave enough to still make New Year’s Resolutions, it’s important to know what we’re up against. It’s tough to change our habits, and it doesn’t help that the media loves to publish statistics showing that most people fail at resolutions.

This is perverse. When someone goes out on a limb to better themselves, we should line the streets and cheer them on. But not like they do in Cleveland.

Cheer Them On, Not Jeer Them On

This Saturday, Cleveland Browns fans are throwing a parade for their team. They’ve got floats and sponsors, and even though it’s forecasted to be 0 degrees outside, they’re expecting a big turnout.

They will be marching counter-clockwise around their stadium in a route shaped like a giant zero. The Browns went 0-16 this season and their fans are going to rub it in their faces.

They are going to line the streets to celebrate their team’s failure.

Hard to fault the long-suffering fan base for wanting to jeer instead of cheer. The Browns have been stinking up the NFL for decades. They went 4-48 the past three seasons, and have finished a season with a winning record only 10 times in the past 40 years.  And in the frigid conditions of their outdoor stadium on the shores of Lake Erie, the Browns really do stink on ice.

Why Most People Fail At New Year’s Resolutions

But you’re not the Cleveland Browns. Yet one of the reasons most people fail at resolutions is the fear they will be jeered by their fans. Maybe not as outrageously as in Cleveland, but people fear the subtle mockery of family, friends, and co-workers.

People are afraid to commit to resolutions because everyone around them secretly wants them to fail. If you succeed in the presence of others, those others tend to feel bad about themselves. You would have done something that maybe they should have done.

When people don’t change themselves for the better, they look for outside proof that their lives can’t be improved. This helps them feel good about where they are.

But seeing you succeed makes them feel like someone’s rubbing their face in it. So when you lose, they secretly win.

They don’t have to work hard to change themselves. They can stay the way they are. They can avoid the fear of their own failing and simply enjoy your failure.

The Other Reason

Fear of failure is one of the big reasons people fail to keep their promises to themselves. But it’s not the biggest reason.

There’s a secret formula for success in sticking to a resolution. But most people don’t know this. Instead, they position their resolutions in a way that pretty much guarantees they won’t succeed.

People fail because they vow to achieve an outcome instead of vowing to perform the activities that will bring about the outcome.

The Big Secret To Resolution Success

Here it is, plain and simple. You can’t manage an outcome. You can only manage activity.

That’s right. You can’t vow to lose a certain amount of weight and be successful most of the time. But if you vow to manage the activities that lead to weight loss, you can succeed most of the time.

So instead of resolving to lose x number of pounds, resolve to do the things that will result in you losing those pounds. Resolve to drink 4 liters of water and exercise 30 minutes every day. Resolve to halve your sugar intake and double your vegetable intake. Resolve to replace burgers with salads and sodas with water.

Manage the activity, and you will produce the outcome.

Resolve To Resolve Successfully

So with this in mind, take another look at your resolutions. Make sure they are not outcomes. Make sure they are activities that will lead to the outcomes you desire.

Understand that most resolutions are probably long-term goals that require specific, consistent behaviors to achieve. So break your resolutions down into the daily behaviors you need to perform. Then manage those behaviors. If you manage the activities, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

And if you’re in Cleveland over the weekend, stop by FirstEnergy Stadium, also known as the Factory of Sadness. Excedrin and the dating site Farmers Only are sponsoring the parade (really!). Maybe you’ll get a free hang-over cure, and come home with your very own farmer’s daughter story…

 

 

How To Not Be A Pain In The Ass

 If you read last week’s post, you may be wondering what genre of person you are. If you identify with being a Manic Impressive, you are clearly in the Jazz camp. You’re expressive, creative, spontaneous, and yes, at times, you can be a pain in the ass.

Okay, that may seem a bit harsh. But the one complaint people have about Jazz is that it’s sometimes a bit complicated and hard to follow. Jazz musicians have great freedom in how they play. But if they get too far outside the chord structure they can lose their audience.

Try listening to this to hear what playing outside the rules of convention feels like to others. See if you can make it to the sax solo at 5:22. You’ll know what I’m talking about.

These are great musicians, but most people don’t walk away from this kind of music humming the tune. The melody is too hard to find for most folks.

So to get better results, try reining it in a bit for the sake of others. Here are a few ways to be the kind of Jazz others will appreciate.

Don’t Be Hard To Follow

Not everyone likes to move in a non-linear way. Most people like to know where you’re going with things. I’m not saying you have to tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. That used to be good advice, but it can be overbearing. A little mystery is a good thing.

But total mystery leaves people confused. And confused people don’t jump to action, make good decisions, or buy from you. They will resist you and wander away. If you need to inspire and be admired, you need to be easy to follow.

So give clear instructions, don’t wander too far from your agenda, and make it easier for folks to hum your tune.

Make Your Point And Go Home

Manics are great story-tellers and love to entertain. But you can quickly go from life of the party to pain in the ass if you require too much attention from others. So when you gather a crowd, make your point quickly.

You probably know people you avoid in social settings because they take too damn long to get to the point. They spend so much time setting up a story with laborious detail, that you lose interest before they get to the punchline.

So shorten your windup. Deliver your pitch quickly, and spend the majority of time with the part of your message people want to hear. How it will benefit them.

Don’t be a pain. Get to the good stuff fast and leave out the extraneous embellishment.

Share The Spotlight

While you’re basking in that beautiful glow of attention, save some for others. Get off the stage so others can get a shot.

No one likes a ball hog. So when you’ve gotten a taste of glory, leave them wanting more. Leave before you’re asked to, and maybe they’ll ask you back again.

I once got a standing ovation at a club for a rousing rendition of “Just A Gigolo.” I really killed it and they were loving me for it. But I fell victim to vanity and launched into another tune.

Halfway through the third chorus of “Hey Jude”, I realized my mistake. I should have quit when I was ahead. Instead, I ruined a great night by being greedy. They were done with me while I was still on stage singing. Awkward!

That memory is still a painful reminder of what can happen when you’re a pain in the ass and overstay your welcome.

Give Equal Time

I went on a date once with a woman who couldn’t stop talking. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  At the end of the night, I just wanted to get away. Then she said something amazing to me.

“You’re such a good listener, I feel like I can tell you anything.”

Though I wanted to blurt out, “No, please don’t! You’ve told me too much already!”, I kept my mouth shut, accepted the compliment, and learned something about my own behavior.

I had never been complimented for being a good listener before.

But I had often been guilty of dominating conversations as she had.  Since then I’ve been much more aware of giving others equal time.

And no, we did not go out again.

So at your holiday parties this year, try measuring the time you speak against the time you listen. If you’re talking more than 50% of the time in a conversation, you may be a pain in the ass to listen to.

Make sure that the people around you share their thoughts and feelings as much as you share with them. Better yet, ask them questions to draw them out. Show some real interest in them.

You’ll still have plenty of time to crack your jokes and tell your stories. But you’ll be a welcome addition to the party instead of a pain if you listen attentively and laugh generously at other people’s material.

How To Not Be A Pain In The Ass

So while you’re thinking of how to be a better you, remember these key points. Be easy to follow, get to your point without endless jibber jabber, share the spotlight, and give equal time to others by listening more than you speak.

I’ve been guilty as sin on all these points, and I’ve paid the price. But I’m trying to learn from my transgressions. So don’t be a pain in the ass like me. Be better than me. Be a better you.

If you’re Jazz, be the joyous kind the world wants to hear.

 

Know Your Genre And Improve Your Results

Know Your GenresTo become a musician, I had to learn the different genres of music.  Each genre has its own specific style and rules for how it’s to be played. If you know the genre of the song you’re playing, you can perform better and improve your results with your audience.

People are like music in this sense. There are specific personality types, or genres, that have common elements to how they prefer to deal with people, time, tasks, and situations.

If you know the different genres of people, you can follow their rules and get better results working with them.To become a leader, I had to learn the different genres of people.

What’s Your Genre?

The first step to better results with people is to know your own genre. Are you Classical, Rock & Roll, Pop, or Jazz?

The Classical Genre

Classical music is precise. It’s detail oriented. The composers tell the musicians exactly what notes to play, and exactly how loud or fast to play them. Then the musicians play those notes exactly as written.

People who are Classical are much the same way. They value precision, accuracy, and doing things the right way. They are great with details and love to get into the weeds.

Like the musical genre, Classical people like things to be predictable and move forward in a logical, linear way. They want everything mapped out in advance so they know where they are and where they’re going.

Classical people don’t like surprises. They also don’t like chaos, broken rules, or coloring outside the lines. So when there’s a sudden change in plans or things are unclear, Classical people struggle. And they can fall victim to paralysis by analysis because of their need for detail and clarity.

But there’s no one better at knowing all the details and following all the rules than a Classical person.

The Rock & Roll Genre

Rock music is all about a driving beat pushing to a big finish. Its uses simple chord progressions and rhythms pushed forward by a clear and heavy downbeat. It’s direct, not so subtle, but very effective.

People who are Rock & Roll are all about the finish line. They are achievement oriented and like methodical progress toward a goal. They’re focused, assertive, and clear on what they want. For them,  it’s all about getting things done, on time and under budget.

Like the musical genre, Rock & Roll types can be strong-willed, driven, and sometimes a little too loud or domineering. They need to be in control, so they push hard in the direction they want things to go. Though they are very good at this, they can sometimes lose sight of the needs of others, and come across as bossy or mean.

But no one gets things done like a Rock N Roller.

The Pop Genre

The point of pop music is to get people to sing and dance along with the song. It wants you to like it. Not to be impressed by its complexity, or thrilled by its adrenaline. Pop music wants you to hum along and have a sweet, happy time.

People of the Pop genre are the same. They want to be liked, and they want everyone to get along. They are all about the feelings and the experience. Pop people care about relationships more than results and will go out of their way to take care of others.

But they don’t like conflict, and will usually sacrifice their needs for the feelings of others. They would rather give in than argue,  because they care more about the harmony of a group than getting their own way.

Others may perceive Pop people as weak and take advantage of their kindness and deference. But that’s okay. It’s a small price to pay to be popular.

Because everyone likes Pop people.

The Jazz Genre

Jazz is an intense and inspiring style of music. It uses complex chord structures, syncopated rhythms, and requires that musicians play the written notes, then improvise their own. It demands creativity and freedom in order to be played.

Jazz people are the improvisers of the world. They are big-picture creative types that love to inspire and influence others. Jazz people are cool, clever and hip folks who prize their freedom and seek to express themselves in innovative ways.

They can be the life of the party, the center of attention, and the source of great positive energy.

They can also be a pain in the ass.

Jazz folks tend to gloss over the details and bend the rules. And they often show up late and push things to the very last minute.  They can irritate with their impulsiveness, and make the other genres of people a bit uncomfortable.

But when the situation calls for a creative approach, Jazz people can jump in, inspire others to action, and save the day with their great improvisation skills and showmanship.

Identify Your Genre And Play To Your Strengths

Can you see yourself in these different genres? Most of us are dominant in one of them, but you may be a combination of two or more. But the first step in getting better results with people is to know your own genre. Then play to your strengths.

So if you’re Pop, don’t try to push others to get results. That’s not you. Use your caring and niceness to get them to like you and want to hum your tune.

If you’re Classical, dive into the weeds and be an expert. Know all there is to know about your topic and help others with analysis and detail. This is your gift.

If you’re Rock ‘N Roll, push hard to the finish, and be direct. It’s what you’re good at, so go hard and get things done.

If you’re Jazz, don’t stress about the planning and details.  You are the master of improv and creativity, so follow your instincts and be awesome. You will be admired for it.

Then once you’ve figured yourself out, we’ll talk about how to figure out the genres of the people around you…

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…