Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, TJ Maxx and Scarcity

 “It is more rewarding to be complicit with scarcity than excess.”  Will Oldham.”  

Hey, things change and then, sometimes they don’t.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

If, like me, you are over the age of 50, there was never a need for a reality pie to be thrown in your happy, little face in recognizing the obvious that the last vestiges of summer have, once again, been issued a cease and desist order to vacate the premises with only the slightest hesitation.

Sure, there are the usual tell-tale signs of impending departure: The back-to-school-sales.  Nurse!  Even before the local boards of education close shop for the year and unleash their charge upon a soon-to-be panicked public, there are already hints of back-to-school promotions.

And then, there’s Labor Day; talk about shrink-wrapping the season. Yes, I know it’s the last chance saloon for seasonal discounts and brief respites but let’s not push it.  As Yankee great Yogi Berra put it, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,”

I don’t know about you but as much as I’d like to get away and enjoy the summer, there is always something else to do, some unexpected bill to pay and then, there’s the cold hearted truth about warm-weather getaways.

However small the retreat may be, it becomes a big ticket item. Fantasy, wish fulfillment and good weather are the driving forces for seasonal escalation.  We all pay for scarcity.

Nothing the matter with that.  Hey, we all want our version of “fun in the sun.”

In fact, years ago, I was a cruise director.

What a fabulous experience.  Sailing from New York to most of the Caribbean islands was the stuff of dreams.

I met so many great people and it was life-seasoning.

Bear with me while I share one quick story:  On board the Leonardo di Vinci, I met a couple from Long Island, absolutely great people. The ship was ready to disembark at the port to Caracas, Venezuela, La Guaira.

They asked me if I would like to join them. They both spoke Spanish.  So why not? So not only would I enjoy their company but their Lengua Espanola might come in handy.

Jump cut ahead: We wound up at a high-end specialty shop.  I saw this silver wine goblet.  It was rugged and handsome.  As soon as I saw it, it became a “I have got to have it” moment.

Now, working as a Cruise Director was fun but, in those days, it was not a high-paying job. I made $125.00 a week along with free room, board and discounts on drinks and, that was it.

The husband and wife noticed my interest in the goblet. Although it looked way out of my price range, I asked them to find out its cost.

Then, as soon as the Long Island woman reverted to Spanish, her whole demeanor changed.  While speaking English, she was very soft-spoken with a slight New York accent.

But, switching to Spanish, she chewed up the scenery.  She had the flair of Iberian aristocracy.  It was split-personality time.  It was a jaw-dropping “Wow” moment

She told me the price: $500.00.  Well, suffering from financial anemia, I put an end to my dream right there.

But then, the nice soft-spoken little lady from Long Island performed her Castillian transformation and literally took charge of the negotiation process.

I don’t think the salesperson knew what happened.  This lady was a storm trooper on a mission for me.  There was no haggling.  She was in total control.

Then, she switched back to English. And, in her soft Long Island accent, she asked if I could afford $70.00.

After more than 30 years and multiple moves, that goblet is still magic to me and the experience, a treasured memory.

Talk about scarcity.

Nowadays, as tough as things are, I try to stretch the moola as far as possible.

What I’m saying is it is tougher today getting what you want, when you want it especially when what you want, is what everyone wants, at the same time, and that defeats the purpose of getting away in the first place.

Scarcity engenders congestion.  Everyone wants in on the deficit at the same time.

But, the most brutal acknowledgement that screams “it’s over”, the true end-of-season Maginot line-celebrating the autumnal equinox and the official sayonara summer recognition, occurs now in late August.

This is the time when grocers, delis and liquor stores throughout this great nation cease to stock their shelves of plenty with the libation of the gods: Leinenkugel Summer Shandy.

It is absolutely fabulous suds with a slight lemonade taste that, without a doubt, puts the competition to shame. And, its limited seasonal release creates what is known in the trade and referred to only in the most somber and hushed tones as PRSD-Palate-Recollection Spasm Syndrome. It is a disorder heretofore unknown, unexplained and enigmatic and should be brought to the attention of government officialdom.

People want their Leinie Shandy.

I mean the stuff is good.

If you live in the Midwest, most likely you’re familiar with the product. It’s been around for quite a while. But then, someone in marketing, in a pique of infinite wisdom, suggested to ownership, “go national.”

They did. And voila, over the last few years, Leindnkugel’s Summer Shandy has successfully quenched the thirsts of the formerly cotton-mouthed multitudes.

Yes, I know it’s a summer release thing.  But, Playa del Rey is a little more than a lotta miles away from Chippewa Falls, Wis-cansin; it’s a whole different world.

While the Midwest’s deciduous foliage take their ‘leaf’ and begin their descent, the temperature today is 92 degrees at the LA beaches.

It is still summer here and across the Sun Belt.  I understand the limited release thing.  It makes sense but a few more months of your “Leinie Shandy-alchemy” along with regional distribution ain’t gonna kill the brand.

I spoke to my wife about this and she had 2 schools of thought.

First of all, she is not a beer drinker.  However, she absolutely loves Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and is not ready for some pre-requisite taste revision, especially on a hot day.  The change makes more sense at the end of October.

Secondly, I bow to her Midwestern practicality. She reminded me of the TJ Maxx strategy.  In fact, a recent Business Insider article points out TJ Maxx is clobbering Macy’s, Nordstrom’s and other retailers.

So how and what does this have to do with Leinenkugel’s?

TJ Maxx specializes in limited release.  When an item is gone, it’s finis! When it comes to investing on consumer inducements and display, they leave that to the big guys-we see how well that is working.

Plus, TJM passes those savings on to the customer base while building their bottom line. And that’s just for starters.

My wife is a TJ Maxx junkie.  She genuflects at their altar of scarcity and fabulous discounted price a couple of times a week in fear of missing out on something good.

The best advertising is “word of mouth” advertising.  And, along with TJM and Leinenkugel’s marketing efforts, the 2 brands have created remarkable consumer buzz with tactical scarcity.

Hey, things change and sometimes they don’t.

What I’m saying is I get it but want it and yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder.  It’s not just the scarcity of the brew, it’s how my summer is now dictated by the early polar zephyrs beginning their breach of the upper Midwest precincts.

I am so alone.

 

 

Meat Space, The Virtuals and Solutions

“Something in us is telling us we’re moving too fast, at a pace dictated by machines rather than by anything human, and that unless we take conscious measures, we’ll permanently be out of breath.” Pico Iyer

So, I’m stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard. Twilight has just made its muting appearance and the quintessential Southern California smog-blurred shroud actually provides definition to the dark colored craft making its descent into LAX some four miles away.

It was a moment of whoops, there it is and there it was.  For me, the moment represented the paradoxical nature of 21st century life.

Speed is “the” marketplace indispensable of today.  It’s the “out of the gate fast and break things along the way” mentality. It’s the not-so-subtle petition to “get it done now.”

Military strategists add credence to this approach.  Long ago, they discovered initial judgment calls are 70% correct.  On the battlefield, next week’s plan of perfection generates a 100% fatality rate today.

Speed is essential.  We are in a continual race to get ahead, keep up and never fall behind.  It never ends.  But, we are not machines.  However, in our adaptive quest, it seems some infectious strain, an inflexible miscegenation of sorts is transforming and corrupting the human condition to something less than human.

Now, you’re probably saying, “this guy is a regular party animal “funster”, sure to wow-the-crowd at the next barbecue or taffy-pull.”  Get me started on the Dewey Decimal System and its non-stop hilarity.

This piece is not an homage to Don Quixote or an expression of tacit support to some modern-day Luddite resurgence.  And, who’s to say the “Luddies” weren’t just misunderstood land reformers that got bad press.  You never know.

Recent studies bolster the perception that humanity adapts to environment.  Our thoughts, our beliefs are formed by our surroundings; and that’s what concerns me.

Here’s what I mean.  Years ago, pediatric experts concocted a technology that would do everything short of burping the baby.  For starters, the system rocked cradles and changed diapers. At the time, it was billed as the most exciting advancement in child-care development, freeing Mom from maternal chores.

If the old saw about the hand rocking the cradle ruling the world is true, then imagine the devastating consequence of this misguided delusion if it had gained universal acceptance. By that standard, Elliott, of Cable’s Mr. Robot, would be the heir-apparent, poster child of the millennia.

What makes this program so popular is viewer titillation.  I am as guilty of it as the next person.  It is similar to the powerful seduction of gawking at the grisly.  It attracts and repulses simultaneously.  What is perverse is the acceptance of the show as entertainment while, on the sidelines, vicariously witnessing and trumpeting the descent and decline of mankind.

For the viewer, in the grand scheme of things, the program rarely presents a counterbalance to the “gigaflop” conquest in the long run at the bequest of “short term cool.”

It’s a different take on bread and circuses with gigabytes.

Think that’s over the top?  As opposed to virtual reality inhabited by “Geekdom”, Cyberpunk has devised an interesting term for humanity: “Meatspace.”

Talk about the intentional capitulation to the intangible. The word, “quisling” comes to mind.

I’m over 50 and still cling to the belief that nothing takes the place of the human touch.  Playing with my Grandson, laughing with my daughters, getting together with friends and holding hands with my wife are moments so far beyond bandwidth envy.

Call me crazy but I just don’t get the same “warm and fuzzies” while tapping away on my Toshiba desktop.

Today, I paid the cable bill but had some questions regarding a charge. So, while waiting to be connected to a service rep, a prompt interrupted the transfer stating that a $5.00 surcharge would be added to my next statement for the crime of speaking to an operator.

It’s bad enough to be forced blindly to accepting a prerecorded digital ultimatum and then penalized for speaking to a programmed human; that is contemptible.

A Future Foundation study reveals that the unhappiest people in the world are those spending much of their time on Social Media. This affects their career, their self-image, mood and even their energy.  In fact, the survey points out that many of them wish they resembled their online profile.

Their personal web portrait is so BS top-heavy that they can’t live up to their own fabrication.  However, the pretense is met with overwhelming approval by like-minded disciples that perpetuate the fraud.

Then somehow, the dreaded pull of “Meatspace” reality seeps through the self-spawned bogus curtain, forcing the “virtual” to accept reluctantly the Hollywood adage:  “Never believe your own publicity.”

Call it “The Conceit of Self-Doubt.”

The old line about meeting the enemy and it’s us takes on greater dimension with every passing day.

And then, in the quest for higher profit margins, business is complicit in diminishing the value of the human condition by creating customer incentives for passively accepting preset dictates devoid of actual free choice.

So, what do you do?  Author/Businessman Max de Pree said it best, “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”

Today, more than ever before, information is an essential key to success.  Forget bitcoin.  Information is the universal currency. We need what we need when we need it: stat.  But, as much as possible, avoid the distraction of being side-tracked into self-revelation schemes.

It’s easy to zone out while online.  Before that awareness kicks in, we have submitted to an incidental craving as a momentary reprieve from an essential assignment while quickly and unknowingly relinquishing personal revelations and intelligence.

From now on,  I won’t respond to those supplemental attention-grabbing, beguiling and bordering-on-the-bizarre headlines located at the bottom of an article or website such as, “The Billionaire’s Secrets to Staying Rich”, “Woman with 3 Boobs Reveals Cancer Cure.”  You get the idea. These are “gotchas.”

Anybody know how to get rid of “Ad Choice” pop ups?  Please let me know.

I’m avoiding Facebook as much as possible and staying away from the rating of posts or emails. Oh, and I’m never revealing my location.  I’m even careful of those I follow.

Linked in, that’s a whole different story. It’s professional.

Recently, I checked online the cost of the train from London to Paris.  Now, I’m infested with online billboard incursions related to it.  From now on, I’ll call.

It reminds me of when I stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo while heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard.  Off in the distance was the silhouette of a plane landing at LAX.

I see that moment now as analogous to a demarcation line; maintaining the  essence of humanity as we know it as opposed to willingly surrendering it all to the non-real as it makes its final approach.

 

Getting from Retro to Get Go

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”  Jack Penn

Recently, I got a ‘heads-up’ notice about an upcoming college reunion.  It is always great to know you are wanted, but I am not a reunion kind-of-guy.  I am grateful for the invite, hold only very good memories of my alma mater and classmates, but it’s just not me.

Not only that, but I attended 8 colleges; never graduated and, what’s worse, kept on changing Majors. And, pursuing a career in Radio was an ideal incubator for wanderlust inclinations.  That’s me, I confess, guilty as charged. Altogether, I’ve probably scored enough credits that are the equivalent to earning a master’s degree.

Nothing against these confabs, but I don’t like being stuck in nostalgia-land. I am sure, for many, it can be a lot of fun.  Let me explain.

A good portion of my Radio career was spent playing the “greatest hits of all time.” For many years, it was fun and exciting.  Not only that, but I was performing this in my hometown, New York, at one of the top stations in the country.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And, it was.

However, living in the land of ‘was’ for so many years became a “Groundhog Day” repetitive nightmare.

There is the old maxim: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

You may be familiar with the Oldie, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles.  Playing that and other songs most every day became a kind of torment.  What new could I say about these tunes that had not been said before at least a thousand times and still sound enthusiastic?

Now you’re probably saying, “poor baby” and you may be right. But, you‘ve got to know when to move on and take another course of action.

The Late Management Guru and Author Peter Drucker summed it best: “The hardest thing to do is to keep a corpse from rotting.”

That was me.

I needed to get from Retro to Get Go and it wasn’t easy, Today, that’s how I live my life.  I respect the past, learned from it but can’t allow it to become an indulgence or overseer.

Plus, the rules of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.

It really is a matter of Redefining, Refining and Realigning-know what you want, perfect it and implement it.

Now, that is easier to write than to execute.  And, let’s face it, there are times in life when no matter what you do, you just can’t win for losing and the only luck you’ve got is bad and that’s not good.

It’s like the story about the guy trying to get a handle on things; but it broke.

Then there’s the calm before the……………………..calm.

We are over the age of 50 so this is definitely a “been there, done that” scenario known only all too well.

But, we can’t just sit there and mope?  There’s a lot of that going on today.  Even the government classifies ‘moping’ as an area of dynamic growth potential.  However, there’s an extensive internship process and invoicing can prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare.

What’s worse, sideline sanctuary provides debatable consolation.

Yes, we have been “through the mill.”  So, what do you do?

Turn things around.  Be paradoxical, be counter-intuitive and unpredictable.

See things from a different angle.  We get married to a way of viewing and doing. It’s the stimulus-response, action-reaction thing.

But ask yourself, how is it working for you? It might be time for a mindset trial separation.  Habits are hard to break.  It’s a given.

Take a look at Millenials.  So many of them do what they do without experience. There is so much virgin territory open for discovery and formation that past sound judgments are irrelevant, easily rejected and considered meaningless.

Sure, it is walking a tightrope without a safety net but, if ‘sure bets’ were sure things, then, for sure, we’d all be rich and famous.  That is Getting from Retro to Get Go.  You’ve got to take a chance.

And then there’s stress.  All our lives, we have been indoctrinated to consider stress as a crippling agent, an achievement killer and something toxic.

In a recent interview Psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Upside of Stress”, offers a completely different take on stress.  She considers it “an experience that you have when something you care about is at stake”; something that  can actually make you stronger, smarter and happier.

Personally, I hate stress but find it to be a prime motivating agent.  It actually gets me more creative and focused while “under the gun.”

The hard part: Surmounting the initial surge of stagnation and fear that accompany the pressure and tension.

Stress as an activator?   Don’t knock it until you try it.  There is nothing worse than being stuck in a rut without a Plan B.

Kathy Edwards Lucas told me about her unique action plan.

Kathy is one of the nation’s leading certified life coaches. She shared with me her novel and effective approach to transforming a sour lemon narrative into a tasty lemonade finale.

Lucas told me about a time in her life when she was experiencing financial anemia.  She was going through financial drought.  Instead of bemoaning her fate, she made the most of her limited resource circumstance.

She didn’t shut down, give up nor isolate herself.   Instead, Kathy planned for tomorrow.  She shopped but didn’t buy.  She couldn’t buy.  Kathy took stock of what she needed once she generated income.

Kathy Edwards Lucas took inventory. She prepared herself for the future.  She designed a past-present prototype that detailed exactly how to handle forthcoming expectation.

When prospects brightened, there was no mental reorientation or readjustment to a prosperity mindset.  She had designed a fact-finding mission that eventually paid her beaucoup dividends.  Past intention was the construct for anticipated consequence and tangible consideration.

It reminds me of best-selling Author and Speaker Harvey Mackay’s motto, “Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise”; simple but sage words of advice.

However, as much as we might agree with this plan mentally and set forth a course of action, it is all too easy to become entrapped by ingrained emotional entanglements that keep us beholden to destructive relationships, negative attitudes and self-defeating behaviors.

This is not narcissistic indulgence.  Let’s be honest: The terminally self-absorbed have little regard for the concerns of others. They love the attention and are resolute in their one-way commitment to themselves.

What holds us back is the devastating grip of Distraction.  Goal setting and action blueprints that define what we set out to accomplish can many times take a back seat to the incidental.

What we deserve is placed on ‘hold’ as if unworthy of merit and completion. Our goal becomes an obstacle to distraction.

The mind has a way of filtering out rejection and tough times that accompany past triumphs.  It romanticizes the past, suppresses aspiration and restricts all likelihood of Getting from Retro to Get Go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Control

“Do you want to know who you are?  Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”                          Thomas Jefferson

Recently, my two daughters were in town.  What more can a Dad wish for.  Lots of laughs, informative and lovingly meaningful.  It’s the best.

My older daughter is a funny and brainy college professor in Connecticut while the younger daughter is a Texas oil baroness-in-training and the mom to the greatest little guy a granddad could ever imagine.

Unfortunately, both of them suffer an inherited disorder.  Originally regional in nature, but like most things these days, the condition has permeated and infected most precincts and bailiwicks across our great nation.

In scientific circles, the acronym for this malady is “NYSAS.” Others know it for what it is, “New York Smart Ass Syndrome.”

Our conversation turned serious.  I’m over 50, in pretty good shape and definitely too young to be old.  But I brought up a “what if” scenario.  I told them if I were placed in a prolonged unconscious, comatose or a vegetative state, tell the medical authorities without hesitation-DNR. Do not resuscitate.

Both of them nodded agreement and said they would follow through on my request. Then they asked me, “But what do we do with you now”?

Revenge of the Descendants.  Genetics can be so cruel. :)

It’s tough out there. What makes it even harder is realizing it’s time to accept and craft necessary changes in life.

In other words, what are you doing now?

If there is no plan currently in motion, unlocking one’s own hidden aspirational code is nothing short of onerous.

Self-revelation can be extremely painful. It demands definition with no BS.

But, what’s the choice?  Forfeit even the slightest indication of opportunity or passively embrace “the inconsequential whatever?” Talk about DNR.  Is it all over for you?  Of course not.

So what do you do?  Stop comparing and start preparing. Props to Actress/Author Swoosie Kurtz.  In her book, “Part Swan, Part Goose”, she nailed it; “Compare and Despair.”

Wow!  That is strong!  Think how much wasted time has been spent comparing ourselves to others through jealousy, envy, deception, scheming, or bad luck, disappointment, timing, lack of preparation, etc.  You name it.

Here’s a secret: No one else cares.

We are the only one bearing the extra weight, and this ain’t no handicap race.

The truth is we are competing with no one else but ourselves.

Call it “Accountability Transference”.  How do we get to the root of personal progress if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the actions of another?

It’s a life long struggle between our good and disquieted self.

What has happened in the past, let it remain there.  Allow the good and meaningful lessons of the past to act as fuel and then, jettison the rest.

It’s time to get in shape by defining specifically who we are, how and what we do better than anyone else.

We are the best at who we are.  Now bear with me on this.  Not too long ago, while preparing for a workshop presentation, I came across one of the toughest interview questions: “compared to others, why would I hire you”?

Now, bad-mouthing others has never been a jump starter to success.  And, most don’t even know the other job candidates up for consideration, so all we have is ourselves, who we are and how well you do what we do.

We can’t compare ourselves to the unknown.  Deal with the now. And, right now it is just you at this very moment.

Respect and value of ourselves. It shows. It’s part of body language.

Most of us have achieved or surpassed the half century mark.  We have made decisions. We have experience and social skills most likely better than average.  And, you know it’s true.  How’s that for starters?

And, you are not Average.  There is no one exactly like you. Don’t make light of that.  Discover the exceptional you. Unearth it. Take control of it.

So, isn’t it time to take the time to define yourself and not allow others to do the branding of you? When is a good time to define precisely what you want in life and how that change will emerge?

How about now!

This is the “Master Plan.”  Write it all down and know that writing is alllll about re-writing until you get it right.  Yes, it takes time.

But, in a world that is “conditioned to the immediate” where taking time for self-realization and repurpose are regarded as negligence, it’s extremely difficult to overcome this hurdle.

We have instant coffee and minute clinics.  Prompt attention demands split-second decisions.  We need to be on a fast-track career path.

We get pissed off because microwavable meals take too long.

And then, in retrospect, we beat up ourselves for making so many hasty decisions by allowing the “distraction of now” to suppress and contaminate our desire and intention for clarity.

We are not a data entry.  We are human. We take time.  And the beckoning calls from the sirens of distraction are not only  daunting and alluring but also vacuous and unworthy.

It is about selling yourself on you. If you have been in Sales, you know the following steps quite well:                                                                                                                               1). Awareness, knowing what you want.                                                                              2). Understanding, knowing what you’re getting into, what it takes to get what you want.      3). Digestion, taking the time to refine and define.                                                               4). Execution, get out of theory mode and go for it.

We are over 50.  We are competing with ourselves.

Lack of motion is commotion.  It’s havoc.  Recently a woman that I was coaching referred to the status quo as “a rat on a wheel.”  Now that’s imagery!  And, she’s right.

The time has come to transform Intention into Action.  Getting a medal for a 6th place finish in middle school competition means squat in the competitive world in which we now reside.

We are in competition with ourselves.  All we can do is be the best at who and what we are.

If we don’t love and respect ourselves, why would others take up the banner on our behalf?  We are a reflection of who we think we are and what we believe we deserve.

Again it’s rough.  Tell me about it.  I just finished my 4th kidney stone surgical treatment in 6 weeks.  Ouch!  But, my surgeon, who is very promotion minded, has a great incentive plan.

He told me if I do just 3 more procedures, I’m in the running to win a pair of roller skates and a bugle.   I’m thinking.  I’m thinking it over.

It is difficult and painful to get into action mode. Along with distraction, there are the Incidentals that seem to override the Essentials.

When you get down to it, it’s amazing that anything actually gets done in life.

But, what’s the choice.  Do we really want to be in the position where others are in charge and left to decide, “what do we do with you now”?

 

 

Failing on the Way to Success

 “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.”  Yogi Berra                                           

Every time I see that Berra quote, I have to laugh.  It’s not only funny, it’s true. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  It’s like it never ends.  It reminds me of the story about the stressed out executive. Every time he turned around he had to make another decision.  It got so bad, he stopped turning around.

So you have to ask yourself what is it you want to do?  What do you want to accomplish? What is important and what takes priority?

Whatever is on your wish list amounts to nothing without a high level of passion, conviction and action taken.

A few years ago, I interviewed a time management expert.  His name is Peter Tula. Check him out.  Tula is fabulous and what he told me was invaluable and made so much sense.

His advice: Iimagine having 95-one dollar bills in one hand and in the other, you are  holding 5-one hundred dollar bills.  Then, throw all that money up into the air and let the money fall all over the floor.

The next step: You have 10 seconds to pick up all that money.  So, ask yourself, what denomination are you going to reach for first?  Will it be the dollar bills or the five $100 bills?

What great advice!  Of course, we would all go for the bigger bucks.  That’s natural.

But, more important and significant are the choices we make.  What are the $1.00 choices and what ideas or projects do you consider to be $100.00 choices.  When you look at it that way, it really is up to you and what you consider to be of value.  Fabulous advice.

That’s not to say you can’t do everything.  When opportunity strikes, go for it, but prioritize.

I don’t know about you but I love what I’m doing.  Being over the age of 50, life has provided me a wide array of experiences; mostly good and some a lot less than swell.

Sure I’ve made some bad choices along the way but I think I’ve learned from those experiences.

Every once in a while, I’ve been known to brow-beat myself based on some past judgment lapse, but signing up for membership in Masochists Anonymous ain’t no option that’s even open for discussion.

I believe in the Law of Averages. Even when the only luck you’ve got is bad, eventually things do change for the better. That is if you allow it.

We learn from failure.  And, I find most people don’t use failure to further their lives and fortunes.

Now hold on, let me explain.

There is nothing worse than whiling away in splendid ambiguity.  You’ve got to make up your mind.

In life, we make choices.  Sometimes we don’t know what choice to make and then get stymied.  I believe one important reason for that is a mind set where the fear of and expectation of failure exists.

As you know, I’m an Author and a Speaker and now a Coach.

What I see missing in plans of action are failure steps.

Now, I’m not an advocate of the school of thought where if at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you even tried.

Funny line.  Now that might work in politics, but it doesn’t work here.

What I’m talking about is placing failure steps into a plan of action.  I’m not talking about celebrating failure.  But include some failure as steps needed to be taken on the way to success.

In other words, by failing you are actually succeeding.  You’re succeeding because you’re supposed to fail at a particular stage.  It’s built into your plan action so it doesn’t come as a surprise.  Some failure is expected. 

Look back.  Remember years ago, as you were working your way up the success ladder, it took some time. There were ups and downs. But, now in retrospect, it is pretty easy to overlook all those shortcomings on the way. And, who wants to dwell on that?

We’re human and past disappointments become meaningless.  Sure, they are lessons learned.  But failure is trounced by the number and quality of accomplishments  accumulated over the years.

So failure is not an option, right?

Wrong. And, therein lies the problem.

It is absolutely essential to eventual achievement to recognize and integrate failure steps into any plan of action in order to enhance a greater probability of success.

Consider it insurance.

Business consultant Mark Cofano says it is absolutely essential to include the possibility of failure into an action plan.  He refers to it as the Fatal Flaw Analysis.

Failure to do so gets us stuck, wastes a lot of time, wears us down and gets us nowhere.

And, once again you find yourself whiling away in splendid ambiguity wondering where to go and what to do.

Just the other day, I gave a talk.  Because the event was held a few days prior to a holiday, the audience size was fairly small.

But, it gave me an opportunity to add some new techniques I had learned recently from two expert coaching mavens, June Davidson and Dian Anderson.

First, I listened attentively.  Then I had members of the audience discover their own solutions.  I didn’t provide answers.  I just asked a lot of questions.  If I did anything it was guiding participating audience members to some solution.

Out of the questioning came some keys to resolution.  Needless to say, in the short amount of time we had to do this exercise, it gave the participants some food for thought.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”  And, right now, I’m seeing quite a few heavenly creations that I call opportunities.

Currently, I’m helping raise $15 million for an environmental project.  I’m assisting a friend in selling lighting by getting him to the right people.  I’ve got my Radio show on Talkers.com.  I’m studying Coaching and working with a Radio syndication firm selling programs to stations.

Will I fail?  Of course I will.  I have included failure steps in my plan while I’m on my way to success.  Will any of these projects flop?  I don’t know but I’m a persistent SOB and there’s enough on my plate where if one thing doesn’t happen, I’ll just throw the cards up in the air and pick another $100 idea.

The best part of all this activity is the energy it gives me. I am not bored.  In fact, I can’t get bored. I don’t have the time.  These are all “hands-on” opportunities.

Believe it or not, I am not overloading myself.  Just as with the time management expert, I have my order of priorities. I’m just making sure that they are of the $100 variety.

I’m sticking with it so I don’t go on overload.

All of this activity gives me more information, information that I’ll add to my platform presentations and my second book.

Speaking of which, it is now half way to completion and should be out in a few months.  The book is called “The Upside to Down Times.”

One undertaking powers my interest in other areas.  Plus, it’s surprising how often all these projects are similar in nature and seem, at some point, to actually intersect with each other.

What I’m saying is that once getting beyond the initial stages of mechanics and basic understanding of each area of interest, I found out that there’s surprisingly so many similarities to everything else.

It proves to me that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Do I know anything about the science behind environmental projects?  Nope.  When it comes to lighting, the only thing I know how to do is throw a mean electrical switch on and off.  Radio is in my blood so that takes care of the show and syndication.

And I’ve been writing now continually for the past few years, and my composing is actually improving; not award winning but…improving.  Most important, I’m now comfortable with the notion that writing is really all about re-writing and re-writing with the hopes of expressing myself with greater clarity.

I’m certainly no genius.  If I can do it, I know you can too,  in your own way.

The hard part is just getting started.  Don’t worry about starting at the beginning.  Just start anywhere. If you give it time, whatever project you’re involved with will disclose its own form and reveal its own beginning, middle and an end.  Remember you are failing on your way to success.

Otherwise, what’s the alternative?  Let me tell you: wiling away in splendid ambiguity is a tough way to live.  So, make up your mind what you want, be specific and allow for some failure in your plan of action otherwise you become a featured player in the story of your life.

Isn’t it time you do what you want to do?  Failure is just a stepping stone on your way to eventual success.

.

 

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.

Essentials vs. Incidentals

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”    Henry David Thoreau

Recently, the Oracle, the US entry in the America’s Cup Race plucked astonishing victory from the clutches of the Kiwi competitor.

The Oracle had lost 7 races in a row.  New Zealand had been all but designated the newly anointed sovereign of the seas. Most sideline observers considered the USA’s likelihood of fortune reversals akin to “swimming with the fishes” in San Francisco Bay.

The American Cup Race team astounded the sailing world and most everyone else with such an unlikely victory.

How did they win?  They focused on what needed to be done.  They cut the crap and got to the point.  They devised a step by step plan, with allowances for the unexpected, to get back into the competition and win.

And, that’s what we need to do.  We must get back into our own race by giving ourselves permission to eliminate self-imposed limitation.  Call it self-emancipation.  Call it what you will, just do it and stop wasting time.

We’re over 50 now and the clock is ticking.  So, what the hell are we waiting for?  No one is going to save us until first we truly desire to save ourselves.

That requires removing clutter.

Ask yourself what is Essential and what is Incidental?

Essentials are our choices, the things we must do.

Incidentals differ in importance and determined by circumstance.  If allowed, they vary from slight distractions to thoroughly obstructionist matter. The degree of distraction is unimportant.  Know this: they are goal toxins.  Incidentals clutter the mental landscape and trigger the ambiguity of purpose.

The problem is there are so many incidentals in life today it’s incredible that anything meaningful ever gets accomplished.

Here’s a few quick examples:  You know you need to contact someone.  However, you believe the outcome will be not all that favorable.  So, you do everything you can to avoid making that call. The Incidentals get in the way of the Essentials.

Tell that to the crew of The Oracle.

Sure, it’s procrastination.  Who sparks with anticipation to any form of rejection?

When I was in Radio Sales, I had a very good client who noticed a billing problem.  I told them I’d get to it.  It was no big deal.  But, I just let it go.  I don’t know why but I developed a fear of straightening out this relatively simple matter.

But, months passed, fear grew and I still had not taken care of the billing mix-up.

Talk about task-avoidance. I had concocted in my head some ridiculous pathway of Incidentals that inhibited me from uncovering a Solution.

I was evading the Essentials.

Finally, I got off my butt and with some help, got the billing problem resolved.

Why did I let this happen?  I don’t know.  But I had bestowed upon Incidentals the muscle to obstruct the completion of Essentials.

Am I the only one who’s ever done this?  I don’t know.  Philosophers say the closer we get to project completion, the more “noise” we begin to hear.  In other words, Incidentals have the capacity to sideline and even subjugate the Essentials.  They are a countermanding force with no redeeming properties.

Now, perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to this:  You’re working on a proposal. You’re on a deadline. They want it delivered only by snail mail.  It’s late in the afternoon. The cartridge printer has run out of ink and time is ticking away. You must finish this presentation and get it in the mail today.  It’s getting late. Traffic is brutal.

You get to a box store.  They’re out of the cartridge you need.  Next place, same story. Time is wasting away. Finally at the third location, success!.

Heading home, you’re stuck in traffic.  It’s a mess.  All you want is to get to what is Essential but you’re are bogged down by these symbiotic, draining Incidentals.

Sure, that’s life!  Understood.  But today, there seems to be more delay and distraction and much less free and clear.

Part of it is Time Management.  It’s living with the reality that today almost everything comes with an attached Incidental levy.  It is incumbent upon all of us to make provision for the expectation of Incidentals (fatal flaw analysis) as we plod on toward the completion of Essential.  It’s Murphy’s Law adapted to the 21st century.

I was discussing this piece with my very enlightened daughter, Christina, and her take was:  “Leave the dishes and go conquer the world.”  And, you know she’s right.

So, what’s important to you?  Like the Americas Cup Race, are you “in it to win it”?

Are you allowing Incidentals to override Essentials that transform your active, creative and productive status to something passive, languorous and aimless?

That’s not life.  That’s existence.

You are too young to be old.  Incidentals lead to stagnation.

Face the Essential, fight the Incidentals, get back in the race and win!

For return response go to dickheatherton@outlook.com