A Few Things

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we see through it.”    Jean Paul Satre, Philosopher/Writer

You know you’re getting older when life slaps you silly with the sudden recognition that you were never really as smart as you thought you were back in your 20’s and 30’s. 

The worst part of this realization is the accompanying paralysis that takes place.  I call it Achievement Hibernation.

You look back in retrospect on all the foolish and outright stupid things done “way back when.” This is accompanied by the concomitant practice of diminishing past accomplishment and dismissing lessons learned along the way.  Sound familiar?

The result: You wind up beating up on yourself incessantly.

What’s overlooked is an undeniable truth:  When you’re younger, you’re Invincible.  You have little or no real life experience but why should that be a hindrance? Relatively speaking, your slate is clean and free of error. OK

The world would be so much better off if only mere mortals would abide by every syllable enunciated by you.

Of course, to the Invincible, this is not hyperbole, it is only truth. It’s noble.  And, of  course, humility comes easy to all great minds.

Yeah, got it!  Nothing like walking on sponge.   

When we look back on our youthful, boneheaded miscalculations, we can wind up taking permanent residence on what Author/Speaker Brian Tracy calls, “Someday I’ll.” 

We become gun shy, and lost in the notion that further undertakings will only add to our list of glitches and shortcomings.  So we fester in the delusion that Achievement Hibernation is the best course of action. 

So, what do you do?  Reflecting on the past is a worthwhile mechanism.  We all should do that every now and then.

But, life is movement.  Life is error.  Life is filled with misjudgments.  Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes, forgive ourselves and then get on with life.  None of us is perfect.  We are all certifiable “screw-ups.”  

In fact, this just in: HSN no longer carries Sackcloth and Ashes.

Here’s something else-

You become aware of the paradigm that if you’re over the age of 50, most likely you’ll never land another full time job. And, this is true.

Now, hold on.  All hope is not lost.  It’s just a matter of readjusting to the realities of today and that does not mean giving up.  No way.  Read on.     

Today, it is all about projects.  Very few organizations are going to hire those of us in the aged 50+ category on a full-time basis. Those days are gone.  BUT, companies need you on a project to project basis. 

You are needed for your experience, your knowledge and know-how.  Then, when the project is completed, it’s on to the next project. 

So, as soon as you land that project, start looking for the next one.

It might not be right, but, it’s real.  And, unless you have an “in” someplace, you’ll be dealing with people in Human Resources 

Now hold on:

Good old HR.  And, who works there?  HR is inhabited primarily by people in their 20’s and 30’s.  Sound familiar?

Look back to when you were their age.  You too thought you knew all there was to know.  These are the brand “Invincible” recruits. That means anyone beyond their immediate age cluster is considered a relic; nice to look at under sealed glass for a moment and then move on before you get infected.

But, you’re probably thinking that even though some strands of grey hair have begun to populate the top of your head or maybe there’s been a hostile takeover by grey follicles, that shouldn’t be a problem?

It is. 

Let’s get real.  You look older than someone younger than you.  You don’t have much in common with them either.

And, here’s the real challenge: Why would an outfit hire you if you’re just as good as the person they just got rid of?

Why replace mediocrity with mediocrity?

Reality Alert:  You’ve got to be better than most and prove it.  And, you are better and can prove it..

Now here’s the good news:  If you have an “in” or get beyond the HR process, most likely, you’ve got some technical skills.  Plus your strong suit is the ability to get along with others.  You have excellent communication and social skills compared to the Invincibles.  They inhabit “Text and Twitter-land.”  Business has discovered that Social Networking ain’t the same as Social Skills. 

And, add this: You know how to spell correctly and write a complete sentence.  Invincibles may possess every academic degree imaginable but most can’t write a complete sentence or spell correctly,  Today, this is a major concern for Business. 

You don’t make many sales in 140 characters. Face to face wins hands down over interface. 

Shakespeare once said, “All the world is a stage.”  Guess what?  He’s right.

Recently, I interviewed Author/Speaker and Master Sales Trainer, Tom Hopkins on my eponymous radio show heard weekends on TalkersRadio.com, 9PM Eastern, 6PM PDT.

Even though I mentioned this in an earlier piece, his advice bears repitition. It is that important. Hopkins said to be prepared for “No.”   

It takes 5-6 no’s to get to a yes.  So whether it’s an interview, a sales call, a follow-up or whatever, load up.  Be prepared for no’s.  Be prepared to come back with another of your assets.  Have 5 or 6 answers or attributes ready in waiting.

You have enough past experience to call upon; good and bad.  You have depth. Use all you’ve got to get what you want. 

One more thing- 

I just finished reading an article about “The Yummies.” Yummies stands for young, urban  male. They lack self-confidence but to make up for their deficiencies they “dress to kill.”

HSBC Bank forecasters are telling their clients to forget the young or middle aged woman.  The real money today is found targeting young urban males.  

But looking good goes only so far. You can walk the walk.  You can talk the talk, but customers balk at the walk and the talk if there is nothing behind walk and talk.  (I kinda like that.)

What I’m saying is being a theorist goes only so far,whether male or female.  Customers can smell inexperience a mile away.  The Invincible can be all decked out in a $1500 outfit but that doesn’t increase the credibility of an empty suit. 

The 50+ Adult has experience and knows that when dealing with customers, “you are on.”  We are more outgoing.  We have excellent social skills. We’re playing a part and for most of us, we’ve played these roles so well, they have become a part of our fabric. We know how to play to an audience, whether large or small.  

Ever work in a grocery store?  Do you know what they call the area where goods and products are displayed for shoppers?  It’s known as “the Staging Area.” 

Where does a doctor perform surgery?  Sure, it’s at a hospital.  But, where do doctors perform in the hospital?  What most of us call the operating room is known in the medical field as “the Theater.”

What I’m getting at is when you’re “on”, you’re on.  It’s all “Show Business.”  Now, please don’t misinterpret that to mean anything allied with Entertainment.  You see it’s about how you Show or demonstrate that you mean Business in an entertaining way.

You might not be Invincible but you’re pretty damn good.

So get off your butt, stop beating up on yourself.  You’ve done enough of that.  Get back into action and win.  Do it.

What a Year!

            It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

A Tale of Two Cities-Charles Dickens.

 2014.  What a year!  2 weeks ago, my daughter Dana made me a Grandpa for the very first time. Kazuo Bryan Folick graced the world with his presence.

What a cute little guy.  He even cries cute.  There is no doubt there’s Show Biz blood flowing in his baby veins.

As a proud Grandparent let me say with all modesty the little guy is a scene stealer who stole my heart.

If you are reading this piece, the odds are you are over the age of 50.  That means there is a good possibility that you too might be a Grandparent. So, it goes without much fanfare to state that Grand-parenthood is a very special club.  There is no special handshake but members are afforded very special status.

There is nothing quite like it.

On the other hand, one of my very best friends died yesterday.

His on-air name was John Darin.  His birth name was John Christian Miller.  In Southern California, John Darin was a very well-known Radio and Television news anchor.  Before turning to news, he was a leading DJ personality at many of the top Radio stations in LA.

If you ever saw any of the early Ginsu knives television commercials, then you know John Darin.

It was Pancreatic Cancer that did him in.  His passing left a gaping hole in my life.  He was a best friend, a mentor, a joy and a lot of laughs to hang with.  And, I know I’m not the only person feeling this loss.

I’m not sure an IRS audit constitutes some stabilizing middle ground position but, it’s what I must contend with at the moment.

And, we’re just into March.

Babies, Death and the IRS have their own set timetables that don’t necessarily adhere to any clearly understandable protocol.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I got the word that my daughter was in Labor, which put us on official “Baby Alert.”

We took the first plane out from Los Angeles over to Houston to meet the newest addition to the Heatherton clan.

Seeing and then holding my Grandson for the first time transcends any worthwhile, meaningful or accurate verbal description.  It brought me to tears.  The experience is something so spiritual.  The Japanese language sums it up best, “Shi gatta ganai”; meaning it can’t be explained.

An event like this helps put things in proper  perspective; as in what is really important in life.  For me, it’s love.  This child was brought into the world by love. He is the result of love.

Watching my daughter, Dana nursing little Kaz while my son-in-law, Andy is stroking Dana’s back was an experience I will treasure for the remainder of my life.  It was Love taken to a 3rd  echelon.

It was nothing short of a spiritual experience.

We get so worked up about the Incidental things in life; Taxes, Traffic, Career, etc. that it’s all too easy to neglect the meaningful and ignore the Essentials when what really matters are those rare moments of inexplicable rapture and harmonious solace that give life real meaning.

At the same time, my friend, John, called to let me know he had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  He told me this as if it were no big deal.  Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, by any definition, is a death sentence.

Since I am a Cancer survivor, I suggested to John, keep a journal.  Write down what you’re going through, what you’re thinking, how the Cancer changes your outlook so that when the Cancer goes into remission,  you’ve got a best selling tome ready to hit the book shelves along with TV/Radio interviews as well as many in-person presentations.

He agreed.  I wanted to give him hope but, I know him well enough to know that he saw through my charade.

I asked John to give me his sister’s contact number as she lived nearby his treatment center so, I could get an update.  The next day I spoke with her.  She told me the Doctors had told John the recovery outlook was grim.  He had anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months left to live.

Talk about the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.

With both events happening at the same time, I’m not sure if I’m crying Tears of Joy or Tears of Sorrow.  Honestly, it’s exhausting.

And then, there’s the IRS.  I’m being audited.

Right now, I could give a S- – t about Taxes.  They’ll get their pound of flesh and then-some on a payment plan.

At this moment, I am numb.

I can’t wait to see little Kaz again and I’m missing my pal, John.

The only consolation for me is Gratitude.  I’m so glad I’m here to see and hold my Grandson, little KazB (as in Cosby) while at the same time grateful to have been honored having John Darin as one of my closest friends.

John had a very unique sense of humor.

After I received the call regarding his passing, both my wife and I were just a wreck. We had planned to go out that night but neither of us were  really in the mood for fun and games.  But, I didn’t want to go home.

We tried a few places but nothing seemed right.

I don’t know why but we wound up at a Mexican Restaurant with a sizable Mariachi Band serenading the customers.

Even though we were in an adjoining room, we could still hear the music.  It was enough of a distraction where my wife and I could commiserate without being conspicuous in our sorrow.

We needed to be lost in a crowd and we were.

As I mentioned, John had unique sense of humor.

Out of nowhere, the Mariachi band and the singer went into their rendition of “New York, New York.”  New York, New York in a Mexican restaurant?  OK, maybe at a Mexican restaurant in Gptham but in LA?  This was a serious case of the strange.

It was sooo unexpected and so out of place that it turned our tears to laughter.  Hearing “New York, New York” Mariachi style is one of the most surreal experiences ever.

I will never be convinced otherwise that my recently departed friend John caused Divine intervention to take hold and was completely responsible for this laugh-out-loud incongruity.

That was John Darin.

2014.  What a year.  It really is the best of times and the worst of times.

So, I am left with wonderful memories of a great guy.  I look forward to seeing my Grandson, KazB and now must contend with an IRS audit.

I can only hope that during my appointment with the Internal Revenue that somewhere  nearby and within listening distance, there’s a Mariachi band playing “New York, New York.”