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.

 

 

Vince Lombardi & The Passionate Pursuit of Imperfection

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”  Steven Wright

Most of us still desire to be and do our best. And today, even our best needs improvement.

During a recent interview, best-selling Author/Speaker Harvey Mackay recalled a story about his good friend, the late, legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi who told him, “Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Now that is shooting high.

Isn’t it a shame that there is such a growing legion of willing disciples calmly submitting to the tenets of mediocrity and low expectation?

Just imagine how it affects self-identity.  It destroys vision, saps initiative and blunts intention.

I welcome their resignation.  That means less competition for me.

Now, that probably sounds cold.  But, don’t misunderstand. I do care for others.  My intention is to help but not share an emotional load indefinitely.  Maybe that takes me out of the running for a merit badge from the compassionately correct but, I’ve got my own challenges and bills to pay that demand immediate attention.

We all want more in a world where less is sovereign. It is a time to focus and be better than best.

Here’s the thing: We get sidelined in the pursuit of perfection instead of the attainable excellent. We all can do more and Vince Lombardi achieved a whole lot more than I ever will accomplish so respectful props to the coach.

And, unlike Lombardi, there is no service area along the Jersey Turnpike named after me.  Ya know, you’ve got to put things in perspective.

I will settle for excellence and that is a tough enough assignment especially during these tough times.

We are over the age of 50.  We’ve weathered many storms, eclipsed the most unforeseen imaginings and now find ourselves immersed in self-examination wondering what the hell to do now?

I have written in the past about the 7 C’s of Success:

1). Chaos and Confusion-Wanting out of it now

2). Calm-Accepting it

3). Concept-Developing it

4). Construction-Giving it form

5). Completion-Taking it to the Marketplace

6). Conclusion-All matter has cycles.  Accepting it, moving on

7). Commencement-Accepting something new

The biggest challenges lie in the first 3 C’s. It’s too easy to be seduced by the siren call and corrupting allure of Noise and Distraction.  That can prove to be an ongoing struggle.

The most difficult step is finding Calm.  Then, the most difficult step is escaping Calm.  Introspection can entrap; creating dubious, if not impossible goals to achieve.

That scenario becomes the incubator for perfection attainment; and that’s the downfall.

Perfection is impossible. Because it is inconceivable, all efforts to achieve it become futile.  But, we don’t give up. We soldier on but encounter more frustration in the quest to achieving perfection.

Plus, the harder we work, the more we come to recognize and respect the “close but no cigar” adage.

And, as we become more introspective, we disregard external counsel and consider it distraction.

It is similar to the outcomes for Millennials.  The difference: they exclude group unlikeness, embrace uniformity while we morph into an environment where we are sole proprietor and the singular sphere of influence.

It is the land of theorists, continually postulating, never producing but always on the threshold of “almost.”

Most likely, you are over the age of 50. Attaining mid-century landmark status, means having the balls to say no.

Way to go! Let’s hear it for NO, yes? No!

When we were younger, most of us would just “go along to get along.”  Yes became a natural response. No was extremely difficult, even to enunciate.

Now the “no” hounds have finally been unleashed.  But, that can become problematic in reining them in.  It’s like they’ve got a weekend pass and the “no’s.” are drunk with their new found power.

Unfortunately, too many “no’s” are prime indicators of old age.  Too many “no’s” can manifest themselves in our physical comportment and bearing.

Instead of standing up straight and keeping a bright and lively step, the “no’s” engender a slower gait of walk and produce a bent over carriage.  That leads eventually to the senior citizen slouch and shuffle and never lifting of feet.

The mental attitude affects the physical demeanor.

We are much too young to be old.  In our quest for perfection, we cloister ourselves in a kingdom of our own making, a dominion of one that is shrinking in size, influence and meaning that hastens decline and spawns inner decay.

Author/Filmmaker Julia Cameron said, Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”

Sure, it’s a given.  If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. That calls for a serious time-out to focus and re-focus.

But then again, lacking focus and introspection lead to indecisiveness, the key to flexibility.  You’ve got to look on the bright side!

What I’m saying is there is no happy medium.  We all want balance.  Unfortunately, balance and cycles are mutually exclusive.  Where is synchronicity when we need it?

So, we do the best we can.

We are perfect the way we are.  We are perfectly imperfect. All we can do is strive for personal excellence.  What I’ve found is we all need help. We need outside influence. We need mentors. We need coaches.

Perfection aspiration is the antagonist to excellence consummation.

Unlike Coach Lombardi, I’ll never get a Garden State rest stop named after me.  What would be excellent would be an official Dick Heatherton exit ramp off the Marina Freeway here in LA.

Hey, I’m dreaming big.

That is part of my personal passionate pursuit of imperfection.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bilingual and Lost in Translation

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”  T. S. Elliot

Years ago, my then Father-in-Law came to visit. The man was a piece of work with a fabulous personality. Besides English, he had mastered Italian and Japanese languages almost fluently; but…

My wife and I took him to a sushi restaurant where he began immediately conversing and flirting with the female servers in their native tongue. They got a real kick out him.  Now, I know enough of the language to be considered ‘legally stupid’ but got the gist of what he was saying while the ladies thought he was hilarious.

As we were leaving, our server came over to thank me and mentioned that along with my father-in-law’s outgoing and entertaining delivery, the element that provided the biggest laugh was his wording; he spoke in a Japanese dialect more relevant to some long ago, by-gone era.  An example: instead of saying “car”, he used a dated phrase that described “a motorized wagon”; a term that applied in the early 20th century

And, that’s what happens to many of us.  While attempting to forge ahead, we inadvertently migrate to a universe of our own making that actually perverts original aspiration. The outcome: we unwittingly become advocates of retreat rather than agents for our own progress.

Let me explain.

Every day, we hear how our military is being gutted and down-sized.  Many of these veterans have spent most of their adult lives protecting us from harm.

Many vets have specialized skills and, compared to their overseas counterparts, American forces are trained to improvise and ‘think on their feet.’

That’s a gift.  It is also a curse.

Because of cutbacks, many vets are confronted with an unaccustomed and startling challenge; dealing with the private sector workplace.

It’s ironic.  Men and women dedicate their lives to defending the civilian home-front and, by doing so, become detached from the assignment they are empowered to protect.

They don’t know how to speak “civilian-ese.” They are lost in translation. They are not bilingual.  They are unprepared in explaining the codes of military craft into the language of the civilian marketplace.

When confronted by HR and decision makers, their in-person responses founder, giving the appearance of uncertainty and inexperience; a mischaracterization so distant from the actual.

The military life demands completion of duty, whatever the task.   But, in private sector interview situations, where a vet is questioned regarding their service career, job description and accomplishments, the usual reply is “I can do everything.” And, although that’s correct, it’s not real.

Although it is an honest response, it is disregarded because it is misinterpreted.  Unknowingly, the vet has communicated to the interviewer that they are desperate for a job and will accept any available employment opportunity.  Now, that might be true, but that’s not the intent.

Veterans don’t speak Bi-lingual.  The experience is there but the defining mechanism is outdated.

It’s a different take on the old saw from Country comedienne Minnie Pearl who joked: “When they were handing out looks, I thought they said books, so I said, ‘I’ll take a funny one.’”

We are over the age of 50 and it’s easy to rely on yesterday’s descriptions. It got us to where we are.  That’s the good news.  The bad news? It got us to where we are.

Some of us are more Social Media aware than others.  I fall in the latter category.  Sure, I use LinkedIn, too old for Instagram and do little FB (I don’t really care that someone experienced a life-changing moment and felt compelled, for the betterment of mankind, to post a picture of a duck seen on the way to West Covina-call me heartless, I live in shame. Got it).

In the past, I have dismissed its importance, delayed its integration and, most likely and to my detriment, have arrested   the progress of my career.

OK, so I’m slow on the uptake.

That’s why recently, I participated in a webinar dedicated to Social Media marketing.

I really learned a lot.  What I took away from the online course was that not much has changed.  Now, hold on.  Social Media is a dynamic and its influence has surpassed Radio/TV/Cable and print and amazingly, it’s still in its toddler stage.  The delivery reach and measurement conversion are mind-boggling but the objectives remain the same.

What I got out of the webinar was use of language.  I believe in Relationship Selling. I am a people person who enjoys dealing with the people I deal with. In fact, I consider many of my clients, friends.  I keep in touch, send out or email news and trends applicable to their business or personal interests. Some refer to it as Business Retention.

What I learned about Social Media is that it has taken quantum leaps compared to the old way of doing things. Retention is now referred to as Engagement and After Sale and the process is more effective and light years ahead of the way things used to be.

There is so much more to Social Media, but this is not the forum for further comparisons.

The point: I learned to speak Bilingual. A connection was made. It was a crucible moment. I was able to incorporate the known with the newly learned. It now made sense and, the process was no longer lost in translation.

Absorbed in the pursuit of success can create unanticipated complications. A real challenge occurs when, so absorbed in the quest to succeed, we lose sight of original intent. The purpose transforms into something peripheral.

What happens? Investment supplants Creation. Don’t misunderstand.  Of course, it is vitally important to allot time for concepts to evolve, progress and bring to fruition. That’s not the point.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of Investment can neutralize the creative process.

Before long, it becomes easy to question initial aspirations and wonder how and when did things spin so out of control.  Priorities get misplaced in a Bilingual world.

Think that’s ridiculous?  Consider how many 50 Plus Adults are so disenchanted, dissatisfied.  They want a new start.  The numbers are enormous.

And, contrary to urban legend, this upheaval is negatively impacting the Marketplace.  Today, we hear so much about   Millenials.  As smart and savvy as they are, many enterprises are discovering they can’t afford to lose the 50 Plus Adult.

Why?  Experience. Work and Social Skills. Contacts and that’s just for starters. Replacing an experienced worker regardless of previous compensation is a drain on the bottom line.

Research shows that replacing an experienced employee earning- say, $70,000 per annum costs a company 3 times that amount or $210, 000 in replacement costs.

So many executives in the corporate world become so fixated on reducing expenditures, that they actually kill the golden goose that depresses the bottom line.

The Solution: Keep an experienced worker but place them in a different capacity. Hire them as a consultant to their former employer, allowing them to pursue other goals while providing needed input, experience, know-how, contacts and training to the organization.

It is another “take” on Bilingual.  The consultant speaks the language of experience and know-how and acts as corporate cultural bridge.  The consultant gets to pursue their ambitions while the organization benefits with smoother transitions diminishing the likelihood of things getting lost in translation.

It becomes a win-win situation.

And, unlike my ex-father-in-law’s experience, everyone is on the same page.  And, that’s no laughing matter

 

 

 

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”?

 

 

The Holidays, Surgical Procedures and Lessons Learned

“The Road to Success is always under construction.”      Anonymous.

What is with Hollywood?  I don’t get it.  Here we are just coming out of the Christmas/Chanukah Holiday season and many of us are going through some very tough times.  How ‘bout some inspiration, huh?  How about some giggles?

It seems the only thing enlightened Movieland Mandarins provide these days are dire formulaic crap and unfettered corporate hack access.

There is very little in any flicks released today that is uplifting, much less humorous.

And, then they wonder why box office receipts keep heading in a southerly direction.

Sure, I’m over 50 and don’t fit the flick-biz prime demographic. OK, but even Millennials are staying away from Popcornville in droves.  What does that tell you?

I’m not looking to bring back the “good old days.”  Just give me something to enjoy, especially this time of the year. Please?

For me, the months of November, December and through the beginning of January are insufferable times.

I totally agree with Actor/Producer/Talk Show Host Craig Ferguson who said, I think holidays create so much pressure because people feel they should be having a good time. But you shouldn’t. ”

Normally, I try to keep these pieces motivational, aspirational and a bit humorous. On this go-round, it’s a wait and see proposition.

I’ve spent so much time looking for some smart, light and amusing quotes to start this piece but can’t seem to find one that is appropriate. And, maybe there’s good reason for this.

Bear with me, I’m venting but leading up to something more positive and resolute.

For me, I give thanks for the Holidays.  I am grateful they are finally over.

It’s a season where I shut down. For me, it’s the most painful, most abhorrent and dispiriting time in the yearly calendar.  It is like some loathsome monstrosity, an energumen, invading my normally upbeat manner that crushes any elements of personal joy, gratitude and expectation.

There is no religious significance nor bias attached to this misery.  I believe in a higher power and will leave it at that.

Sure, there is the over-commercializaiton aspect of the Season; that can wear anyone down.

Then, there is Holiday Standard Time (HST).  For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to those yearly commemorative occasions that spawn disregard, suspend accomplishment and creates “an aura of coerced placidity.”  The Germans know how to sum things up.  Check out the word Gleichshaltung.  It sez it all, baby cakes.

On a smaller scale, there’s July 4th, Labor Day, Easter, Passover, Memorial Day, etc.  But, it is not just the festive occasion itself.  It’s the days prior and subsequent to the respective Holiday.

And the biggest HST culprit is that month and a half stretch leading up to Thanksgiving, going through Christmas, Chanukah/Kwanzaa and persisting non-stop to the week succeeding New Years Day.

HST is when most people are going through the motions.  Why?  Because, it seems to me that most everyone has ceased to function.  In my line of work as an Author, Speaker, Trainer and Coach, most everything comes to a screeching halt.  Nothing happens.  Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.  If so, I beg your indulgence.

Reading this, it probably sounds like I’m having a bad day at the Happiness Exchange.  That disposition is a “was.” It is the past.  The Season of Shutdown is over.

Thankfully we are into a new year, which bestows the acknowledgment and promise of a new beginning.  It is the initial, although meager, “ray of hope” beginning to glimmer.

Let me put it this way, lately my life has been arresting.  I use that word in connection with the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”   It’s been very interesting.

Health wise, the last few years have been a bit challenging.  Without going into boring detail, I’ve been experiencing abdominal pains; sometimes uncomfortable, other times extremely painful.

I have seen so many doctors, specialists, surgeons, herbalists and even 2 notary publics.  I have gotten so many second opinions and the one thing on which they all agree is “you’re ugly too.”

I been over examined, probed, prescribed, x-rayed, MRI’d and scanned.

So much so, that if a cannibal reviewed my medical records prior to ingestion, he’d probably consider me too genetically modified for human consumption.

However, a recent scan and x-ray discovered 3 large kidney stones that had gone previously undetected.

Well, a few weeks ago, I went in to have them emulsified, smashed and crushed.  Unfortunately, the procedure didn’t get them all.  So, next week, it is back to the hospital for Round 2.  Love those slipper socks.  I prefer blue.

Hey, bear with me. Things do get better.  I don’t want to turn this into my personal pity party.

And, in between the two procedures, my wife had hip replacement surgery that hasn’t gone well.

So, what’s the point to all this?

Sometimes in life, there is nothing you can do at the time.  For me, getting through the end of year holidays is normally my biggest struggle. The surgery and procedures have been icing on the cake

But, life only gives you what you can handle.  No medal, just reality.

Woody Allen once said, “death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.”  So, slow down, stick around, don’t give up. Things do get better.

Is this the answer you’ve waited patiently for?  No, of course not.

Going through tough times can be unmerciful and seemingly unending.  However, tough times do come to an end. And, just like you, I have to overcome these challenges.

It’s like the story about the old man immersed in agony who looks upwards to the sky and pleads, “why me”?  Then, out of nowhere, dark, black clouds appear, massive lightning strikes occur, torrential rains begin to fall, howling, tornadic force winds level everything in sight.  Suddenly, from the heavens, comes a sonorous, booming and thunderous voice which says, “because you piss me off.”

As I said, there are times in life when there is nothing that can be done.  In fact, nothing at the moment is just about everything you can do.

It sucks.  Believe me, I know.

It’s a time to reflect on choices, on life’s options.  This is not a time to be so hard on yourself that you diminish vision and promise. Hey, it’s cold outside even in LA and pity parties don’t attract crowds anymore.

The only compensation: as with everything in life, eventually, the pendulum does swing back in our favor.

Here’s one of those “ain’t that the truth” comments from Artist Jennifer Yane who summed things up nicely, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”

Amen to that.

Author/Speaker/Trainer and Coach. That is who and what I am. How can I do what I do if I can’t help myself?  So, I have vested interest in overcoming my own challenges so I can help others.

I’ve been there and overcame this and that but still have a ways to go.  And, perhaps like you, every now and then, I get lost but find a way to get back on track.

I can’t give up. If I do, then I’m a fraud. If I’m a fraud and, let’s face it, those of us over the age of 50 can whiff BS a country mile away.  If what I offer is not truth, then what right do I have of even considering assisting others?  That becomes a case study in self-delusion;  kidding no one besides myself.

We are over the age of 50.  We have our faults, our shortcomings and have lived long enough to know wisdom when we see and hear it.  And, what is wisdom? Wisdom is the quality that comes from experience.

Guess what?  We have experience.  We have wisdom.  That is what we bring to the table. That is our worth and value.

Consider your options.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. How can you help others?  Things do get better.  Unfortunately, it’s rarely on our timeline.

And, let me know if you hear of any good flicks.

 

Going from Nowhere to Know Where

“All truth passes through three steps: First, it is Ridiculed.  Second, it is Violently Opposed.  Third, it is accepted as Self-Evident.”                                                                   Arthur Schopenhauer, Philosopher            

You may have heard the story about the world’s most brilliant mathematician.  The man was a genius.

One day, he decided to just pick up, run away and join the circus.

Previous status and superior smarts mean squat along the midway. So, being the “newbie”, he was handed a shovel and told to follow the elephants.

One day, friends ran into him.  They were shocked and stunned by his transformation.  This was a man held in high regard throughout the world. He had an MBA from Harvard and two Doctorates from MIT.

Puzzzled and confused, they asked what was the allure of “the three ring.”  There had to be more to life than scooping up pachyderm poop, and when would he be returning to his former life.

And the genius told them, “what and leave Show Business”?

It’s so easy to get lost today.  So much is expected while so much is uncertain.

We are told by Marketing and Advertising that residing in the 50 Plus demo is equivalent to being legally dead.  What BS!

Recently, I was asked to consult for a Business Incubator down in Orange County.  If you are new to this concept as I was, Business Incubators are set up to assist young Entrepreneurs in Development, Promotion, Marketing, etc. essential to the successful launch of product/service.  In short, it shows them “the ropes.”

Most of the workshop attendees were in their late teens to late 20’s.  Listening to them was intoxicating and eye-opening. It made me realize how little I knew as well as how much I needed to learn in order to be more coherent and consequential in today’s ever changing marketplace.

Just as I getting ready to write myself off as somewhat irrelevant, something happened.

As each young Entrepreneur got up to give their “elevator talk”-that 30 second spiel about themselves and their product-it became immediately apparent that although these kids were beaucoup brainy, they had little or no presentation skills, whatsoever.

They knew what they knew and knew what they knew very well, but their preferred communication delivery system is non-verbal.  They text, they tweet.  Email is out.  In fact, Instant Messaging via “chat apps” has now supplanted texting.

What I’m saying is that younger demos are so accustomed to data-inarticulation. that verbal skills become suppressed and diminished.

Today’s non-verbal communication structures limit correspondence to less than 200 characters.  This does not allow for much transmission of passion, shading and inflection; let’s not forget meaningful bonding and rapport.

So, when compelled to give face to face submissions, they lack an indispensable enthusiasm and context so essential to communication and success.  What is missing are the qualities of beguilement and seduction that captivate and seal the deal.

Their deficit is one of our selling points. Sure, we need to bone up on the technical, but what good is the latest and most significant development since the creation of Fritos-one of life’s nutritional essentials, I might add-if it can’t be communicated adequately.

The 50 Plus Adult is adept at face to face communication.  It is what we have done all our lives.  We pick up on inflection or lack of it in conversation.  We read body language.  We can smell BS a mile away.

And, we are not as old as our parents were at our current age.

We are much too young to be old.  We fight age with a vengeance.  Take a look at Honda and their 3 wheeled motorcycle.  Have you noticed there is a gym on just about every block.

Every time I turn around, there is another spa opening up; so much so that I’ve stopped turning around.  Take a look at those $60, 000 plus sports cars.   Outside of Silicon Valley billionaires and Rap moguls, these awesome freeway spectacles target the 50 Plus Adult.

We turned going out to dinner into something theatrical.  Hello Plastic Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacements and Breast Augmentation!

We are adapters.

Not too long ago, I held a workshop.  It was geared to the 50 Plus Adult in workplace transition.  The attendees were either employed but wanting to make a career change, underemployed or “in between success.”

In the back of the room was a man I didn’t know but knew so well.  He was me from years ago. He was there but not there.  He wasn’t even pretending to be interested.  His body language screamed disinterest, anger, discouragement and depression.

About an hour or so into the presentation, I called on the man in the back of the room.  His arms were tightly folded.  There was no way he was going to accept anything he heard in this workshop.

I asked him what kind of work he did.  He told me that he had been a printer, who had worked overnight in order to stay out of office-politics.  However, he did such great work, that many times he was called in to do daytime shifts because his knowledge,  craftsmanship and work ethic were so good.

His self-description was not boastful. He also shared with all of us that he had been unemployed for about 6 months.

I asked him about business cards.  What kind of type, color, thickness and size would be best for what I do?  He took a look at my current business card and then gave me his opinion.  I needed a new card.  And, I knew he was right.

Then I asked if he would put together some new business cards for me.  That started an avalanche.  Other audience members wanted to know how to contact him to do their cards.

He then went on for 20 minutes.  He gave a talk on business cards, stationary, envelopes etc.  He was tremendous!  He actually picked up a few clients at that workshop.  On the second day of the workshop, he was no longer sitting in the back of the room.

By the way, my cards look great and the man who sat in the back of the room, whose arms were wrapped tightly around himself, is now working as a printing consultant.

This is a man who went from nowhere to know where.

These days, it is all so easy to become insulated, believing that what we have to offer is meaningless.  We are over the hill.

That is such nonsense.  As I have said many times in these pieces, “people hear what they want to hear and only hear what they need to hear when they are ready to hear what they heard.”

We are over the age of 50.

We are adaptable.  Sometimes we forget how important we are and have to be reminded of our value.

It reminds me about the old Henny Youngman story.  His Grandson would wake up every morning with a headache. And every day, Henny had to remind his Grandson, “when you get out of bed, feet first, Larry, feet first.”

And, don’t be afraid to fail.  Failures are steps on the way to Success.  Learn something new.  After “learning the ropes”, then it’s time to integrate past knowledge and experiences into the new endeavor.

You are much too young to be old.  Feet first, feet first.  The time is now to go from Nowhere to Know Where.

 

 

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.