Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

How Symbolic Change Can Help You When You’re Stuck

ChangeI want to tell you how, in a Kentucky hotel bathroom in 1982 , I made a symbolic change that completely changed my luck.

Yes, there is a back story here.  Halfway through a 5-week sales trip, I was stuck in a very big way. After getting off to a great start in Illinois, I bottomed out in Kentucky. I couldn’t sell a damn thing. Everything that had worked for me in the Mid West was hurting me in the South. I couldn’t close a door let alone a sale.

My boss had warned me that people where I was headed were conservative compared to folks in California. He urged me to adjust my look and tempo before I left. “Folks won’t trust a slick sounding guy from L.A. with a beard . Shave that thing!”, he said.

I didn’t listen. “Hey, I gotta be me. I got this, don’t worry” I said.

I proved him wrong for two straight weeks in the Mid West. Overcoming obstacles, setting records and crushing my closings. My numbers were great and I was on fire.

Then for two days I bombed. No problem, it happens. I was adjusting, finding my way. But after a third soul-crushing day in Kentucky I was lost. Swagger gone, I was ready to listen. In our nightly call I relayed my numbers to the boss and they stunk. He started in with the ‘I told you so’ speech, and though I was pissed, I let his words sink in.

Thursday got a little better, Friday even more, and by Saturday I was almost back to my usual high-percentage closing ratio.

I went on to North Carolina and Pennsylvania in the last two weeks and finished strong. REAL strong. Big numbers for the company and big dollars for me.

Did I change my presentation? Did I rearrange my feature and benefit statements? Did I drop my price? No. None of these things. Continue reading How Symbolic Change Can Help You When You’re Stuck

3 Crucial Stages to a Successful Launch

takeoff2

My favorite part of flying lasts about 2 seconds. It comes after the worst part of the flight, when we’re strapped into our full upright positions without our electronics or air conditioning. Then the engines fire, noise fills the cabin, and we’re barreling down the runway as the whole craft bumps and shakes.

At about 180 mph, the nose of the plane points up, the rear wheels leave the ground, and there is a moment where we physically break Earth’s gravitational force.

This is my favorite part. My stomach gets queasy from the torque of breaking Earth’s grip. But in less than 2 seconds the queasy fades and I feel joy  – we’re up, we’re free. Then we climb, level off, seats and tray tables recline, the AC kicks in, and we’re in that effortless place of just maintaining altitude. Continue reading 3 Crucial Stages to a Successful Launch

Why You Should Stop Specializing and Become a Jack of All Trades

vitruvian man

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  Robert Heinlen

In olden times people were encouraged to produce creative work in their daily lives. A man would build his house, plant his garden, paint landscapes, write sonnets, perform music, and make all types of household goods like furniture, belts and brandy. The world was full of people with interesting skills, and they were celebrated for their wide-ranging talents. 

A Renaissance Man, as he would be called, could do it all, and with flair. A Renaissance Man was an artist, athlete, carpenter, mechanic, medic, musician, poet, philosopher and writer. Depending on the situation, he could also be a gentleman, a rascal, a fighter or an imp.

But he was never just one thing. He was all things (*She was too, but for the sake of brevity I’m using the masculine form. Ladies, you can be a Renaissance woMan too).

Then along came the 80’s and everything changed. You had to specialize. Nobody was interested in you being “well rounded”. No one wanted you to look “distinctive”. You could have a mustache but no beard, and short hair wasn’t allowed. You had to choose between a feathered wave parted down the middle, or a mullet (business up front, party in the back). Big hair was mandatory (*ladies, you had big hair too, but please substitute panty hose for Mullet).

This era brought in the idea that creative men (*yeah, yeah, you get the drill) were focused. They specialized so they could become expert in one area. You needed to know a lot about a very few things to be useful. If you knew a little about a lot of things, you were a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. Very bad thing. Not the path to success. Continue reading Why You Should Stop Specializing and Become a Jack of All Trades

Brain Wash

Brain Wash
Brain Wash

Brainwashed. The term we use when someone manipulates us, convinces us that something false is real, steals our identity and self-esteem. Something bad.

Brain Wash. The term I use when I need to manipulate myself, convince myself that something I think is real is actually false, saving my identity and self-esteem. Something good.

I know, you’ve never heard of this because it’s not a thing yet. I just made it up. But it’s based on something real that’s happened to me many times before.

The first time was in a hotel in New Orleans. I was there to deliver a seminar and I was feeling good. I stepped onto the elevator, one of those fancy glass ones with a view of the atrium lobby. A window washer had been working on the windows but hadn’t finished. One side was cloudy, spotted and smudged. The other was beautifully clear.

There was no actual difference in the view, but as I rode up to my room, looking through the clean glass made me feel good. The lobby, the plants, the people, all looked good. Clear and clean. I was happy to be there.

The side that hadn’t been cleaned yielded a different scene. The lobby looked dingy, the plants dirty, the people shady. There was no difference in reality, but my view of things was dirty. I didn’t feel as good about the place. It changed how I felt. Continue reading Brain Wash

The Myth of the Morning Person

early v late 2

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I’ve never been a morning person, and I find many Manic Impressives share this trait. Though I work in a corporate world full of morning types, this is one area where I’ve always been out of step with the rest of the herd.

I’d often thought it was because I was born at 9:33 at night or that I spent my formative years as a musician. But now, thanks to this article on Huffington Post, I know it’s because I was born this way.

It’s in my genetic makeup.

Scoff all you want, but I’ve got science on my side. Many of us have circadian rhythms that just don’t follow the sun. It takes effort for us to get up early and join the others. Our natural rhythm is to be far more alert and productive as the day goes on. Our ideas and creativity kick in when most people are shutting it down.

For years we’ve been told this was a character flaw or immaturity. We MaEarly Birdnics have been pounded with that “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” crap, or worse, “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”.  Who the hell wants worms!? Have you actually tasted worm? Why would anyone get up early for that? Seriously, do you want to be a worm-eating weenie like this guy↑, or a  fear-inducing night flyer like this ↓bad-ass? Continue reading The Myth of the Morning Person

Disciplined & Diligent Vs. Smart & Lazy

Einstein'sDesk2

Tomorrow’s the big day. The day all Americans face a hard deadline. You either get that midnight postmark or you pay penalties and interest. Procrastinate all you want, but when April 15th rolls around you’d better have your act together.

I imagine you have some friends who filed their taxes months ago. They’re probably at the mall right now spending their refunds. But not you. You’re sweating that deadline like you do every year. And even though you should be working on your return right now, you’re doing everything in your power to distract yourself  and procrastinate (like reading this blog) instead of buckling down and getting your taxes done.

Your organized friends have never filed an extension. You try every year not to, but somehow this annual deadline creeps up and there you are, right up against it, debating whether or not to throw in the towel, file an extension, and put it all off until October.

Again.

If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in the right place. Last minute cramming is the hallmark of the Manic Impressive and April 15th is our final. The key is knowing what kind of person you are and accepting your reality. This, then, is all about two simple strategies:

Disciplined & Diligent or Smart & Lazy

You know all about the methods of the Disciplined & Diligent. It’s all the things you’ve failed at since Kindergarten. Smart people are too lazy to waste time being fastidious. They use their smarts to cut corners on drudgery to allow more time for innovation and sex.

Just follow these four simple methods of the Smart & Lazy and you’ll get your return in on time. Continue reading Disciplined & Diligent Vs. Smart & Lazy

Just Say ‘No’

Just Say Nancy
Redskin Superbowl Quarterback Doug Williams with Nancy “Just Say No” Reagan

Nancy Reagan passed away recently after a 94 year run.  An actress in 11 feature films for MGM, Nancy married a fellow actor, then took on her most visible role as First Lady of the United States when that actor became president. All told, a long, successful life, and the 2nd longest lifespan of an American First Lady.

As most First Ladys do during their time in the White House, Nancy chose a cause to promote. While Michelle Obama’s cause was Childhood Obesity and Laura Bush’s was Child Literacy, Nancy chose to address teenage drug abuse with a campaign she called, “Just Say No.”

Nancy Reagan became synonymous with “Just Say No”, and her efforts led to a nationwide campaign of anti-drug use training for school kids. Backed by two billion dollars of government spending (that’s billion) and her husband’s minimum drug sentencing legislation, Just Say No” became one of the largest initiatives of its kind anywhere.

Ever.

But critics argued that it was an overly simplistic, expensive and ineffective approach to a complex problem. Abbie Hoffman, noted 70’s radical activist, declared that it was akin to “telling a manic-depressive to just cheer up” (that’s manic-depressive, BTW not Manic Impressive).

Their concerns were bolstered by two studies in 1988 that showed no lasting positive effect of the effort. Just the opposite, in fact, as rates of marijuana, cocaine, and L.S.D. use among 8th graders actually increased after they had been in decline for many years.

But as I found out for myself the other day, just saying ‘No’ can work for other, simpler things. Continue reading Just Say ‘No’

Trigger(s)

When I was little, TV cowboys were all the rage. There was Gene Autry The Roy Rogers & TriggerSinging Cowboy, The Lone Ranger and his horse Silver, and the most beloved of them all, Roy Rogers. Roy and his partner Dale Evans were huge celebrities, as was Dale’s horse Buttermilk, and Roy’s horse Trigger.

Trigger was so famous that his hoof prints are in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame next to Roy’s (no, not Roy’s hoof prints, his footprints, wiseguy). He even had his own comic book series, and millions of Trigger action figures were packaged and sold to little kids all over the world.

So famous, that when he died in 1965, Roy had him stuffed and mounted. 45 years later Trigger was sold at auction for over a quarter million dollars (or buckaroos for you cowpokes out there).

Now I bring this up, not to reminisce about mangy old horse carcasses, but to talk about the triggers that all of us own. The deep-rooted things in all of us that trigger our behaviors. In the Behavioral Science world we call them Antecedents, the situations and things that come before we act. The Triggers that cause our behavior.

Trigger
Good Trigger

Triggers can lead to good or bad behavior. Triggers like praise, applause or blue ribbons can cause us to practice more, study harder or challenge ourselves to do more. But often our triggers initiate poor performance, like anger, substance abuse, or worse, giving up. 

In the recovery movement triggers are usually the things that set off our mental health issues, and cause people to act out, veg out, or stress eat pints of ice cream or Costco-sized bags of cheesy poofs.  Bad triggers.

Bad Trigger
Bad Trigger

So I ask you, what are your triggers? What situations or actions cause you to lose your composure, break your promises, or devolve into self-harm of some sort? Are there certain people in your life that know where your buttons are and push them to get you out of control, or away from your goals? I know I have them, plenty of them.

But if we’re going to break out of our present circumstances and achieve the things we desire, we need to get real clear on what these triggers are, in order to (again, in cowboy parlance) head them off at the pass before they manifest themselves into negative behaviors.

Sound easy? Hell no, we’ve all been there and know how hard it is. But if we identify our triggers and plan in advance to instead, deploy productive healthy behaviors, we’ll be able to stay on target and make progress when we would otherwise give up, go off our diets or go off on other people.

The key is to look at our behaviors and figure what happens right before we act. When we do well, let’s figure out what triggered the positive behavior that led to the good work, and replicate those conditions. When we fail, we need to find what happened right before we f!#*ed up, and try to prevent those conditions from triggering our epic fail responses.

So when you hit the end of your dusty trail, when you ride off into the sunset, we want them all singing Happy Trails, not Another One Bites the Dust. And maybe, just maybe, someone will want to drop a quarter mill on your taxidermied remains…

 

Give NO For An Answer

No blocksYou know that expression, “Don’t Take No for an Answer?” Great advice on persistence. Keep moving forward, assume the sale, don’t stop when people reject you, persist, persist, persist.

Yes, that is great advice in many situations. Persistence is a powerful force that helps less talented people out-produce their competition. But sometimes the more powerful technique is just the opposite.

Instead of not taking ‘No’ for an answer, how about giving ‘No’ for an answer?

Here’s what I’m talking about. I had to get my car towed recently. I had $75 of towing coverage with my insurance, so anything more than that would come out of my pocket. called around and found prices from $90 – $130. Then I called the insurance company. They offered to set it up for me for $130. It would have been the easiest way, the path of least resistance, and they had it all lined up for me to say ‘Yes’.

But ‘Yes’ would have cost me $40 more than if we went with the $90 company. My insurance company was not concerned with my out of pocket expense. They were just doing what was easiest for them. So I paused a moment, then did something real smart.

I gave ‘No’ for an answer. Continue reading Give NO For An Answer

The Final Piece of The Plan

If you spend any time in Corporate America you’ll hear this phrase over and over: “What gets measured gets done.” The reality in today’s metric-crazed business climate is that you have to measure things or people won’t do them. Lots of sad truth to that.

Often it’s just about focus. Most people are assigned more work than they can finish, so they make sure they finish the things that are going to show up on some muckity muck’s scorecard. Everyone knows that when a muckity gets a bad score, someone has to pay. And since, as they say, sh*t flows downhill, it’s probably going to be you. So you make damn sure you get those visible, measured and punishable things done, stat, above all else.

But this same dreadful principle that sucks in business, can help you win big with your personal goals. You won’t have to worry about being punished, either. Because when you measure and get things done for you, you’re the big winner, not some glad-handing, credit-stealing, kiss-up kick-down Vice President. Continue reading The Final Piece of The Plan