Category Archives: Manic Mutterings

It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

How To Know When Being Resilient is Bad For You

Being Resilient is Bad For YouWe hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.

You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.

But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?

How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You

If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t?  Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?

Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.

The Dip

Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?

According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?

A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.

At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.


Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.

And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.

So How Do You Know?

Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.

We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.

But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.

Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.

  • Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
  • If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
  • If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
  • Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
  • Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?

A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.

There’s No Shame In Quitting

At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…



What To Do When You Reach Your Goal

The Prize, and what to do when you reach your goalYou set a goal so you get the prize at the end of your struggle. The harder your struggle the bigger your prize. This week I got a big prize from a hard struggle and it felt great. Made me want to dance around and shout GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!

Like a spanish-speaking soccer announcer, I wanted to draw out the scoring of the goal as long as I could. To really feel the win, and honor the struggle.

The High

Luckily I was in the right place to do this. For about 30 seconds Saturday night, at the National Speakers Association annual convention opening session, the world revolved around me. The announcer pronounced my name right, I climbed the stage, the committee chair draped a medal around my neck, and the president shook my hand while the photographer stepped in to capture the moment. I received the highest earned designation they have to give, the CSP – Certified Speaking Professional award.

It was the culmination of 6 years of work and a grueling application process. I had to submit an hour-long video and be judged by a panel of CSP holders, charged with determining whether I was good enough to become one of them.

The celebration started the moment they called my name, and lasted four days. They insisted that my 41 new best friends and I wear our medals throughout the entire conference, and told all 2000 attendees to honor our accomplishment.

A Manic Impressive dream – to have hundreds of people come up to congratulate you and start a conversation.

The Crash

But even as I was drinking it all in and savoring the win, I knew it was all going to end. The convention would wrap, everyone would head to the airport, and like the host at the end of a rocking house party, all the guests would leave and I would be all alone again with a mess to clean up.

The crash from a high that great would come, and it wouldn’t be easy coming down.

So now I sit all alone, my new best friends scattered, the phone quiet. I’m back to being just me. Now what?

Begin With The Feelings

You met your goal and the party’s over. Now what? Yes, time to set new goals. But first, it’s important to recall the feelings you had at the start of your goal.

Remember the nervous excitement of thinking you might, just might, be able to reach this one. Remember why you chose to go after it. What it would do for your career. What it would do for your self-esteem and your confidence.

Now think back to all the times you doubted yourself. Those dark moments when you didn’t think you would follow through, when you thought you’d find a way to sabotage yourself. When you thought others wouldn’t think you were talented enough to deserve your prize.

Preparing For The Dark Thoughts

You had them before and you will have them again. Whatever you set your sights on this time, know that you will have to  come up against your demons. They will set upon you when you are tired, weak, and full of self-doubt.

But this time you have some proof. The goal you achieved proves you are talented and disciplined enough to earn another prize. Your resilience will pull you through the darkness of self-doubt, and you will come out the other side with more than you had before you started.

You accomplished this goal and you will accomplish the next one. You just won’t know what it will look or feel like when you do. All your problems won’t magically disappear. You will have to drag them along with you as you crest the next hill on your life’s journey.

The New Struggle For The Next Goal

You’ll get an incredible view for a few moments, then you’ll drop back down into the forest for a while as you struggle to mount the next peak. You may not see the sun for a while, you may slog through mud, mosquitoes and poison oak, and the view may be crap for a bit.

But if you keep moving, one step at a time, you’ll reach a higher peak. You’ll dip down again, struggle in the muck, then reach another, even higher peak. You’ll do this repeatedly until you’re too old and frail for the trudge.

In time, you’ll look back and be amazed at all you achieved despite your flaws and weaknesses.

And that, my Manic Impressive friends, will be your biggest prize.


The Cheap Bastard Guide To Frugal Summer Travel

Cheap Bastard Guide To Frugal Summer TravelIt’s the summer travel season and we’re all looking to hit the road. But the Fed just raised interest rates, gas is over 3 bucks a gallon, and nothing’s going to be cheap. Lucky for you, I’m not just a Manic Impressive – I’m a Cheap Bastard too.

I once made it from Calgary to San Francisco on less than $40. Okay, things were cheaper back then, and I was hitchhiking with a full backpack and slept on the ground. But when I got down to my last two traveller’s checks (remember those?), I stuck out my thumb and made it back to San Francisco with several bucks to spare.

But that was then and this is now. 

6 Tools Cheap Bastard Uses For Frugal Travel

The family frowns on hitchhiking and sleeping on the ground. So I’ve mastered these tools to vacation in a style they can enjoy.

Airline Miles

We use credit cards for everything throughout the year (groceries, utilities, doctors, insurance) to rack up free airline travel. The bills are paid in full each month automatically with Auto-Pay, so we’re not paying interest and running up debt.

Last year we flew free to Maui, Nashville and Phoenix, and this year we’re flying free to Orlando, all with airline miles. We get rental cars free too. Just gas for the car and a few bucks in fees per airline seat.

Chris Guillebeau is the master of this. Check out his website for the latest mileage deals and tips on how to use credit cards to fly free.


William Shatner may be a hack actor, but he truly is the “Negotiator.” The Cheap Bastard secret to Priceline is the bidding feature. I know, it’s scary to book a hotel without knowing which one you’ll get. But we’ve stayed in Hiltons and Marriotts for pennies on the dollar by bidding.

You need to work it a little. They rate hotels by “Star” level (1 Star = Crappy, 5 Star = Luxury), so learn which hotel chains land in which “Star” levels for the area you want. Then check their “Express Deals.” We’ve gotten good deals here without bidding, but mostly you go here for research.

Once you know which hotels they have, pick the Star level you want and start lowballing. They’ll reject you flat-out if you’re too low. That’s okay. You’re establishing the going rate. They limit your bids to once per day per account. But Cheap Bastard is sneaky. He has multiple accounts, so he can bid multiple times per day.

Bid repeatedly, a few bucks higher each time. When you get close to their best rate, they’ll actually tell you how much to bid to get what you want.

A little research and you can master this site. This is how we got a suite at the Anaheim Hilton, a mile from Disneyland, for just $64 a night. Bid low, then creep upward until you land your deal.

A Coffee Grinder

Let’s be honest. I’m a coffee snob, I’m totally addicted to caffeine, and I bring my own coffee when I travel. Partly because I’m particular, but mostly cuz I’m a Cheap Bastard.

It’s crazy what hotels and Starbucks charge for coffee. A pound of whole beans costs me $16 and lasts about a month. You couldn’t last a week at Starbucks on $16.  I travel with freshly ground beans, filters, and the skill to jerry-rig any hotel room system to brew my own. I get way better quality for a fraction of what most people pay.

So consider taking coffee with you on the road. You’ll get a better fix and save enough for a fancy dinner out.

The Nutri-Bullet Blender

Amazing what you can fit in a suitcase. I pack my Nutri-Bullet and portion my protein powder and fiber in little zip-lock baggies. Pick up strawberries and kale along the way and you can start each day with a healthy breakfast smoothie.

Hotel Mini-Fridges and Barbecues

Eating out with the family can run hundreds for a week’s vacation. So do what Cheap Bastard does. Make breakfast in your room and sandwiches for lunch. Use your hotel mini fridge for smoothie ingredients, yogurt, or milk for cereal, and the microwave in the lounge for oatmeal. Hit a grocery store when you land, pick up a cheap (bastard) cooler, get all the ice you need for free at your hotel, and cut your food expense in half.

Most hotels also have barbeques you can use. Take advantage. We often grill at our hotel, meet our frugal neighbors, and enjoy a nice sunset over dinner.

My friends Molly and Raul once flew to Hawaii with an ice chest of steaks, fish and ribs packed in dry ice. They ate in style their whole vacation for what you’d probably pay for one fancy dinner out.

Follow these dining tips and you’ll save enough to splurge on some nice restaurant meals without stressing over the tab.

Cheap Bastard Travels Well

I’m not the only Cheap Bastard around. Learn from the frugal, use your creativity, and you’ll be able to travel more, eat better, and give your credit cards a rest.

Now, take a moment and share your Cheap Bastard travel tips with the rest of us…

The Gift of a Chance Encounter

Chance Encounter
My Beach Haul

Yesterday was my birthday, so being a good Manic Impressive I did the only reasonable thing. I ditched work and drove to the beach. My particular piece of heaven is San Gregorio State Beach, just 39 miles from my front door. It’s where I go whenever I need to relax, recharge, and get inspired. Or get a gift of a Chance Encounter.

Before I could even get out of the parking lot, a man called out to me and struck up a conversation. He was out from Connecticut visiting his daughter at Stanford, and decided to check out the beach as a little adventure on his birthday.

I pulled out my driver’s license, shoved it at him and said, “you mean our birthday?” My instant new best friend Terry and I spent the next hour enjoying each other’s company. I gave him a tour of my favorite spots while we reveled in the beauty of the beach and our serendipitous meeting.

A Chance Encounter

What are the odds? Two men from opposite sides of the country who share a birthday, meet by chance on that very day. I could not get past the amazing coincidence. Neither of us were planning on being in that spot at that time. I only decided to go 90 minutes earlier. He was just wandering down Highway 1 on a whim. Continue reading The Gift of a Chance Encounter

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure As I’m grinding through my clutter, I’m tempted to hold onto things and sell them. I know my trash can be someone else’s treasure, but this urge is often just a stalling tactic to protect my hoard.  Yet every now and then it works.

Like when I got up on a stepladder to inspect the beams in our ceiling.  Turns out they were not rough-hewn hardwood as they appeared. They were fake molded styrofoam. They’d fooled us for years, but the minute my wife found out they weren’t real, they had to go. Stat.

So we removed the beams and scraped the “popcorn” texture ourselves, to save money before hiring a painter to re-do our ceilings. It turned out to be a tough, messy job.

But I ended up with over a dozen of these cool fake beams. I was mesmerized with the possibilities. They looked genuine but weighed next to nothing, and you could cut them with a putty knife. I could build a fort, a cool 4th of July float, or sell them for gobs of cash. Continue reading One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

The Lost Art of the April Fools’ Prank

April FoolNext to Halloween, I’ve always found April Fools’ Day to be the most delightful celebration. To pull a good, clean April Fools prank that doesn’t hurt anyone is high art. These days, a high, lost art.

So if I give you some ideas will you help me on this? Will you go out there and bring some fun to your little corner of the world? Manic Impressives everywhere are counting on you.

Shave Something

Self-deprecating pranks never hurt anyone else. If you do something goofy and get people laughing at you, you’ll be their hero for the day. And if we need more of anything in the world right now, it’s heroes.

So try doing something unexpected this April Fools’ Day. Shave something off. If you’re a dude, don’t be conventional. Don’t shave off your beard. Shave off half your beard. Continue reading The Lost Art of the April Fools’ Prank

If You Want to Work Hard, You Need to Play Hard

Play HardHere we are, one week shy of the end of the first quarter. How are you doing on your goals?  Still going great guns? A few dips here and there?  Any answer is okay at this point, as long as you’re still at it and working hard. Oh, that’s the bell, time for recess. Cuz after you Work Hard, it’s time to Play Hard.

Recess is important for school kids. It’s the reason they can sit still and work hard all day, five days a week. They need the break and the fun to so they can keep at it. The harder they play, the harder they can study.

Recess is just as important for us adults. Maybe even more important. We adults have so many responsibilities beyond work, that we sometimes go from task to task without recess. This is not good for anyone.

I Deserve It

I’ve made great progress on some of my goals for the quarter, and I’ve struggled with others. But regardless of my results, I need and deserve a recess.

So it was with great planning and precision that I took my recess last week. Okay, at about 9 Wednesday  morning I threw a bunch of stuff in the car and took off. Sometimes the best play is spontaneous.

While you were slogging through your hump day, I took off and hit the slopes. Hard. I bombed down the hill as hard and as long as I could. I needed to play hard.

You Need To Play Hard

We Manic Impressives need to play hard so we can work hard. Other types of people can work hard for the sake of working hard. But us creative types need our recess to recharge and remember why we’re working to be more than we are.

The notion of Work Ethic, the idea that people should be conditioned to keep their noses to the grindstone and never stop, is a good guiding principle for some. But it doesn’t work for me.

Now thanks to Forbes, I have the science to show I’m on the right track. Work Hard Play Hard is a lifestyle that works for playful folk that are passionate about doing good work.

The Science Behind Play Hard

Professor Lonnie Aarssen did a study that showed “a strong correlation between attraction to accomplishment and attraction to leisure.” The key factor was “mortality salience.” The more a person accepts they’re going to die one day, the more motivated they are to succeed in life.

An interesting note was the role of religion. Forbes concluded that religious people are less likely to Work Hard Play Hard. Perhaps that was because the study was of 1400 Canadian college students. Or perhaps it’s that going to church is bad for your fun life.

Either way, if you want to knock it out of the park, you need to remember that you’re playing a game.

Schedule It!

So make your Play Hard as important as your Work Hard. Set your goals, check your progress each day, and win or lose, schedule your play. It’s as important as your work.

Take a look at your progress for this quarter. Pat yourself on the back for your wins. Acknowledge your failings and vow to do better. Then get out there and have some fun. Play Hard!

And thanks for going to work last Wednesday so I could drive to Tahoe without traffic and ski without waiting in a single lift line. I really appreciate it.

Now it’s your turn.

Out Of Gas

\Out of Gas

Tell you a little story I will, and then I have an admission to make. I’ve been struggling a bit this week, and it reminded me of the time, one of many, when I ran out of gas.

My wife and I were driving back to the Bay Area from Fresno. Just my girlfriend back then, I’d taken her to meet some family.

She drove us in her fancy Cadillac Seville on the way down, so being a gentleman, I offered to drive on the way back. She accepted, handed me the keys, and off we went.

Here’s where we learned something important about ourselves. Since she wasn’t driving, my wife didn’t bother to tell me we were low on gas. She figured I’d check it myself. Since it wasn’t my car, I didn’t bother checking the gas gauge, since I figured she would have told me.

Both of us figured very, very wrong. Continue reading Out Of Gas

Work Already Performed

Work Already PerformedMartin Eden, a retired sailor, lived in Oakland, California in the early 1900’s. Despite his lack of education and working class roots, Martin was determined to become a published author. He was also determined to marry Ruth, a beautiful and highly educated woman from a wealthy family.

Martin proposes and Ruth accepts. But Ruth puts off the wedding until Martin becomes successful enough to win her family’s acceptance. He works hard, submits manuscripts, gets rejected by publishers, but eventually, he gets a book deal.

Then Martin blows up, makes a fortune off his books, and becomes a celebrated member of the artistic class.

Unfortunately, his success came a little too late for Ruth. Though he already submitted the manuscripts that would make him rich and famous, she loses patience with his progress, and after two years Ruth breaks the engagement. Continue reading Work Already Performed