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.



People, Places, Things and Larry

                           “A Person is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”                                                                          John Barrymore

Lately, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with MD’s; more so than I prefer.  No big deal.  I even asked for a second opinion and was told, “You’re ugly too”! (Couldn’t resist)

However, while making the rounds of specialists, I did learn about a phenomenon called “White Coat Syndrome.”

When a patient sees a Doctor, the experience can adversely affect blood pressure readings. So much so, it is now recommended that physicians furnish a second BP evaluation later on during an appointment in order to determine correct measurement.

Before I go any further, this piece is not really about aches and pains. So bear with me.

But, it does remind me of the Henny Youngman story about his grandson, Larry, who would wake up every morning with a headache.  And, every night at bed time, Youngman told his grandson, “Remember, when getting out of bed, feet first, Larry, feet first.”

We all need help and sometimes a not-so-gentle reminder can go a very long way.

If you are beyond the age of 50, you might notice something taking place within you.  It is a not- so-subtle personal transformation.  It is most conspicuous in conversation.   It is an attitude.  Call it a metamorphosis.

It’s something you don’t want necessarily happening to you but, it probably will.  And, it’s critical that you resist the temptation of becoming shackled by the condition.

It is similar to a rite of passage whose time has come.

I believe it is some inner mechanism codified by genetics that self-activates at some pre-determined time.  What it does is create a demarcation line.

It delineates the young from the old.   It divides the active from the inactive.  It separates the hopeful from the resigned.  And, this condition is not the exclusive domain of the 50 plus generation.   There are those in their 20’s to 40’s infected with……Retiring Traits and Thought.

There is an old chestnut stating you can tell a lot about a person by their topics of conversation.  Here’s the breakdown.

1).  If you’re interested in Things, you are lively and active.

2).  If it’s all about Places, you’re probably a dreamer.  That’s good and not so good.  If it’s all about the past, then you are avoiding the present and leading a life of passivity.

3).  If your dialogue is limited solely to the discussion of People, then consider yourself on the bottom rung of existence.  You are inactive.  You are in danger of becoming a Dunderhead.  What’s worse?  You are now a certifiable Bore to the Core.

Now sure,  we talk about People.  Where would we be without others in our life?  They are a necessity.  It’s part of Conversation 101.  But, that is not what I’m referring to.  If that is your prime conversational pastime, I wish you well and welcome you to a world of self-isolation and limitation.

You become the person who, when asked “How are you doing” misinterprets a friendly acknowledgment salutation as a conversation opener that allows for monotonous and non-stop babble dealing with aches, pains and doctor visits.

We all know this but need to be reminded.  It’s all too easy to go into retirement mode especially when life has kicked us hard.

But “Perpetual Wound Licking” has not yet been determined to be an approved medical classification; even under the tenets of Obamacare.

What’s worse is when talk is only about People and Health, it leads to negativity.

Negativity is a time-killer, an opportunity saboteur, a life-force exterminator.

Ever been to an “over 50” Planned Community?  Everything is set out perfectly. It looks beautiful; filled with people playing golf, swimming all day and basking in the hot sun.  Sounds great!

But, there are two groups that populate these areas:  The active and the inactive.  They don’t get along.  They have little in common.  That’s what I’m talking about.

Get “Things” going in your life.  You are too young to be old and, most important, you are NEEDED!  You are needed right now!

Listen to me.  Two of the many attributes of being over the age of 50 are: Most of us have been blessed with the gift of gab and secondly, we know how to write.

Recently CNBC reported that Business is hurting.  They can’t find college graduates with good communication skills.  Oh sure, they can Text.  They are great with 140 characters and are masters at short hand.  But they are totally illiterate when it comes to long form writing skills and verbal articulation.

What I’m saying is there are people much younger than you and me with beaucoup brilliance but lacking proficiency in communicating intelligent thought.

So, stop with the People Talk or the latest Doctor visit monologue and get going.

Now, at first, it could be rough.  You are out of practice.  Work with someone or contact me.  I am a Coach and Trainer.

Being out of practice in presenting yourself is similar to the “White Coat Syndrome.”  Get back in the game and rehearse.  Do some trial runs with like minded active people.  You are easing the pressure.

Get off your butt, get the mind in gear.  And, most importantly, remember the advice offered by Henny Youngman to his grandson “Feet first, Larry, feet first.”.

I respond to all emails sent to dickheatherton@outlook.com