The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Selling Anything

January 13, 2014

deathofasalesman[1]

I’ve never read a book on sales. They seemed corny. Like many people, I always looked down on the concept of “selling.” It seemed like something lower than me.

To some extent, selling appears manipulative. You have a product where you give the perception it has more value than it has in reality. So you need to manipulate people to buy it. This seems sad, as in “Death of a Salesman” sort of sad.

I was a salesman snob.

I was wrong. And for the past 25 years all I have been doing is selling. Selling products, selling services, selling businesses, selling myself.

Sometimes I have been manipulative. And sometimes I’ve sold things I’ve had such passion for I sold it cheap just because I wanted the message out about what I was selling.

And often, it was very much in the middle: I needed to sell something because I had to pay my bills. Maybe I was a little desperate, a little hopeful, a little scared, and I wanted to make sure my family got fed.

We live in a hard world where our basic needs cost money, and as we get older we become responsible for the basic needs of others. We become adults.

Adults sell for today. Professionals sell for life.

So here are the rules of this cheat sheet: None of this comes from a book. All of this is from my own experience. Which means it might not work for you. Which means it might go counter to the basic rules of salesmanship. I have no idea.

I downloaded a book by Og Mandino and by Zig Ziglar but I didn’t read them. Maybe I should.

But I can say that over the past 25 years I’ve sold hundreds of millions of dollars of stuff. That stuff being everything in Pandora’s box that I had to sell just to stay alive. When I think what worked for me, here’s what I come up with:

A) Friendship

Nobody is going to buy from someone they hate. The buyer has to like you and want to be your friend. People pay for friendship.

This sounds sort of whoreish, and it is. The times when I’ve hated myself the most were the times when I’ve prostituted myself to make money (this isn’t as sexual as it sounds but it might as well be).

One time when I was raising money for something, the buyer was going through a business catastrophe and was worried he would go out of business. I didn’t like him but I called him every day for three months at the same time to see if he “wanted to talk” and to offer my advice on how he should deal with his situation.

I eventually raised a lot of money from him even though the first time I met him he was honest with me and said, “it seems like you don’t know your industry very well.”

Which just goes to show: friendship outweighs almost every other factor in selling. One time I wanted to do a website for ABC.com. How did I do it? The main decision maker was involved with a school in Harlem for charity. I went up there for four weeks in a row and played 20 kids simultaneously in chess. Everyone had fun. I got the website job. My competitors were all bigger, better financed, and probably better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like either of those people personally. And eventually, I lost the business.

The only good outcomes come when both sides like each other.

At one point I was so sick of my new “friendships” I went to see a therapist with the clichéd line, “I don’t even know who I am anymore because I hate all my friends and all my friends are customers so I’m their slave friend.”

Now I only do business with people I like. The fastest way to lose all your money, mutilate your heart, and then kill yourself is to work with people you don’t like. I will never do that again.

Nor do you have to, despite what you might think.

B) Saying No

If someone wants to do a big deal with you it’s hard to say “no.” But No is valuable for many reasons:

Opportunity cost. Instead of pursuing something you really don’t want to do, you could free up time and energy to find something more lucrative or something you would enjoy more. Opportunity cost is the one BIGGEST cost in all of our lives. We spend it like there’s no tomorrow.

And guess what? Eventually there’s no tomorrow.

Supply and demand. If you reduce the supply of you (through “No”) then the demand for you goes up and you make more money (and have more fun).

You’ll hate yourself. I see this every day, particularly in my own life. The reason I can write about this is not because I’m an expert. We don’t write about the things we KNOW. We right about the things that are deep down CHALLENGES for us right now. When I say “yes” to something I don’t want to do, I end up hating myself, hating the person I said “yes” to, doing a bad job, and disappointing everyone. I try try try not to do it anymore.

(source: Palookaville by Seth)

(from Palookaville, by Seth)

C) Over-Deliver

If someone pays $100 and you give them just $100 in value then you just failed. F.A.I.L.E.D.

You’ll never sell to that person again. That’s fine in some situations, but in most situations it’s no good. If someone pays $100, you need to give them $110 worth of value.

Think of that extra $10 as going into some sort of karmic bank account that pays interest (as opposed to a U.S. bank account). That money grows and compounds. Eventually, there’s real wealth there. And that wealth translates into wealth in the real world.

People are three-year-olds. They like to get presents.

People want to do business with people who give them presents. Over-delivering is a present. And it makes you feel good. Give and you will receive.

D) Never Take “No” For An Answer

This statement, which everyone knows, is usually applied incorrectly.

People think it means, keep pushing and trying new things until you get a “yes.” That’s not what it means. If you do that, you end up in the spam box. Then you end up in the coffin box. In other words, you end up dead to the person you are trying to sell to.

Instead, remember point A. Be a friend. However flimsy that connection of friendship is. Follow on Twitter, follow on Facebook. Say nice things about the person to other people. Never gossip.

Do the art of the “check in.”

Send updates after the “No” on how you are doing, on how the product or service or business or whatever is doing. Not every day. Maybe once a month. Maybe once a year. Who knows. Eventually you will find the “yes” with that person. It could be, and often is, up to 20 years later.

Who knows? You plant a seed and eventually the garden blooms.

E) Under-price (when it’s your passion so it’s easier to over-deliver)

I once wanted to do the website for Fine Line Films. I loved their movies. I met the guy running their site. He kept saying over and over again, “we can’t afford a lot” and I kept saying, “don’t worry about it” and would show him more and more of our work.

Eventually we did the websites for every one of their movies. $1,000 per website. We made amazing websites for $1,000. Then, when Con Edison wanted to hire us, Nevin at Fine Line was a reference. Price for coned.com (a basic four-page website): $250,000. And that was the first of five websites we did for them plus monthly maintenance.

I write for a lot of places right now for free. Any medium I love, I am willing to write for. It’s like a dream come true for me. The benefits from doing that have been incalculable. Not always financial, but always real.

We are a combination of many constituencies inside of our bodies and minds. Financial is just one. But all of our constituencies need to work together to make us well-balanced and peaceful.

The art of selling, for me, is to have everything inside of me working together.

F) Be The Source

One time I wanted to buy a company. The details of how I would do that are sort of obscure and not important. The company is well-known in the financial media space.

At the critical moment, the owner called me and said, “what should I do? I have this other offer and I have your offer.” He described the other offer to me. I told him to take it.

I missed out on what could have been a lot of money to me. But there was a slight chance we would have all gone bust. Now he is thriving and eight years later he is a friend.

Will we ever do business together? I can’t predict the future. But I know I delivered value to another human being. That value is real and I can put it to use whenever I want.

Often the best way to make friends and customers for life is to direct them to a better service or product than yours.

Be the source of valuable information rather than the source of your “product-of-the-day.” Then they will know forever that you are a trusted source.

Trust is worth more than next month’s rent being paid. Trust builds a bridge that will never wear out. At some point in the distant future, when you are on the run in every other way, you may need to cross that bridge.

G) Sell Everything

Your offering is not your product. Your offering is product, services, your employees, your experiences, your ideas, your other customers, and even (as mentioned above) your competitors. Sell them all.

When you are good at what you do, the product or service you offer is just the way people build the first link to you. It’s the top of a huge pyramid.

But the base of the pyramid, the real service, is when they have access to you and you can provide advice and the full power of your network and experience. This is when you are over-delivering on steroids and how real wealth is built and not just a one-time fee for a service or product.

Many people say, “no! My product is high margin and I want to make money when I sleep.”

Stop going to BS entrepreneur, get-rich conferences. In the long run nobody cares about your product. In the long run, it is the entire holistic view of your offering, your service, you, that you are selling. Without that, you will build a mediocre business that may or may not pay the bills. With that, you will create wealth.

H) Sell The Dream

People can see what your product is right now. What they want to know is…the future. Will your product make them more money? Will it get them a promotion? Maybe even: will YOU hire them if they buy your product.

Everything is possible. When you get in the door, do not sell your product. People make a decision on your product in five seconds. Sell the dream. The dream has up to infinity in value. Build up images of the dream. Give a taste of what the dream is like. Let it linger. Let it weave itself. Let the imagination of the buyer take hold and run with it.

But then, you might ask, do I risk under-delivering.

Answer: Yes. Don’t do that. Be as good as the dream.

I) Fire Customers

This is similar to point B with the one difference that you have already made a sale.

If it’s not going well or if it’s leaving a bad taste somewhere inside of you, or if they have gone from friend to enemy for whatever reason and it seems like there is no repair, then fire your customer. The sooner the better.

This applies to not just customers but everyone in your life. EVERYONE.

If someone no longer has your best interest at heart, then in your own self-interest you need to back off. NOW.

A bad customer (a bad person) spreads like a disease inside you, your employees, your other customers, your competitors, your future customers, your family, etc.

“But what if it’s my biggest customer? How do I pay the bills?”

I don’t know. Figure it out. You have to or you will die.

When I tell people to build their “idea muscle” (by writing down 10 ideas, good or bad, every day) it’s not so they can come up with great business ideas (although they might).

It’s so they can come up with ideas in situations like this. This is where being an idea machine saves your life and saves everything around you.

But remember: bad customers will kill you and your family and your friends.

J) Welcome To The Pleasure Dome

Your best new customers are your old customers. If you need to make more money or build new business then go to your customers (who are now your friends) and ask them, “I need advice. What other service can I provide you or anyone you know.”

It might be something totally unrelated to your business. No problem. Do it. It might be your customer is looking for a new job. That’s great. Make it your business to find him a new job. Now you have a new customer.

It might be your customer needs a boyfriend. Ok, introduce her to all of your friends who might be good for her. If you’ve been following this approach to sales then your customers are now your friends, are now your family, are now the lifeblood of how you wake up in the morning.

We spend years building a garden. We plant the seeds. We tend the soil. We water the plants.

But we are also the sun. The sun shines no matter what. It doesn’t care which flower blossoms. The sun is always there providing value every second of the day.

Be the sun and you will become abundance.

I don’t know the buzzwords to make a sale. I’m not very good at shaking hands. I don’t take people out to baseball games or do any of the things I see other people do.

But I’ve been selling for 25 years. And whenever I’ve been dead broke, depressed, and suicidal, I’ve picked myself up and sold again and again.

I am a salesman.

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Why 2014 Is The Year You Change

January 6, 2014

 

I stopped going to classes. I had a scholarship that paid all my living expenses ($1200/month) so I didn’t want to quit (ugh, and get a job?). So I stayed a student but I failed every class I took for three semesters in a row.

Finally Merrick Furst the Dean, wrote me a note that said, “We have to ask you to leave. You can come back when you are more mature.” I haven’t gone back yet.

* * *

Many years later I was at a job and in the middle of a meeting I walked out, walked out of the building and never came back and never returned the phone calls. I quit.

Another time I stopped coming to work until the CEO, Tom Clarke, asked me, “What’s going on?” and eventually they got rid of me.

I’m not saying this is good advice. I’m not “Dear Abby”.

I knew for sure in each situation that change was needed but I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how. I just knew who (me) and what (quit).

* * *

Sometimes your mind doesn’t know what’s happening. Your mind is really just a tool.

About ten times so far I’ve made complete changes in my life. Some horribly painful where I had to puke up all the garbage that had been shoved down my throat. And those were the fun changes.

The changes that weren’t fun were the changes I didn’t make. I wish I could apologize here for the changes I didn’t make. I wish I could cc the right people right here. (I’m sorry, W). But it’s too late and always will be.

I suspect I have another 10-20 big changes left in me. As for small changes, I make them every day. Or I lose practice.

* * *

Saying “No” to a change that’s begging for you, will kill you.

Benjamin Franklin said, “most people die at 25 but are buried at 75.”

You can’t ask the world to change… you have to change first.

When you start a new change, here is what happens. Well, I have no clue what happens to you. Here is what happens to me in a very no bullshit way.

FEAR.

I get scared:

What will happen to me? I’ll go broke! Or be lonely! Or get sick!

Practice dealing with uncertainty is the only way (cc: Jonathan Fields) to get comfortable with this fear.

Everything is either an obstacle to growth, or an obstacle to keep you from growing. The good thing is: you get to choose.

ARGUMENTS.

Bosses won’t want you to quit. Colleagues will get scared because it means change is forced on them. And depending on your change, maybe family is unhappy (when I was thrown out of school, my family was certainly unhappy).

Whoever wrote your script will be unhappy. You’re changing the movie.

There’s NOTHING to say to the people who argue with you.

Because they are right also. In their life situations, it’s very right for THEM for you not to quit. Why argue with them? Conserve your energy for your change, not for the weights on your back that will try to hold you down.

GUILT.

Let’s say you are leaving a relationship or a job or an agreement. I can tell you: someone is ready to make you feel guilty about this.

It’s hard not to feel guilt, particularly if someone is sad because of “what you are doing to them”.

But much worse is the guilt you will feel if you don’t make the change your body and the universe is telling you to make. The universe is much bigger than the person on the other side. To go against that flow will make you sink and drown.

TEARS.

I don’t think I’ve ever once made a change in my life that didn’t involve me crying either on the day of the big change or sometime that week.

Why cry? Isn’t that a bit wimpy?

It’s because you have no idea what you are doing. It’s a change! You’re not supposed to know what happens next.

The faster you can say, “I have no clue why I am doing this but I do know this is the right thing” the faster you can stop crying.

How do you know if it’s the right thing? I can tell you but the reality is: with practice you know.

Change is very lonely.

But you will never be lonely if you enjoy being with the person you are alone with.

* * *

None of the above sounds that great actually. So why change at all?

PREVENT MUSCLE ATROPHY

– When a car doesn’t start all winter, the engine will get ruined.

– When you don’t walk for two weeks, your leg muscles atrophy and you need physical therapy to walk.

– Change is a muscle.

STEEP FEELS GOOD

When you change you go from a flattening learning curve (your old situation) to a steep learning curve (the new situation).

Steep learning curves feel good. Like the feeling of new love.

So do flattening learning curves because you learn deeper subtleties. But upside down learning curves feel…like fuckness.

YOU WERE IN THE WRONG SCRIPT.

At every stage of our lives, the people around us try to write our scripts.

When we are young the script your family writes you might be: school, cubicle, promotions, management, CEO, retirement, death.

But you might realize that the right script for you didn’t include “cubicle”.

You have to rewrite your script.

If you stay in the old script it’s like acting in a role that is not written for you.

The final production will be a disaster. People will throw food at you and spit on you in the street.

You want to be in a work of art, not a forgery or a plagiarism.

EVOLUTION.

For 400,000 years, humans were good at hunter-gathering. Which meant we had to know all of the terrain around us, we had to know all the foods, poisons, animals, enemies. And then we would move to a new terrain. Change was part of our DNA.

But for the past 10,000 years (a blip in evolutionary time), we had to specialize and be good at one thing and in one place.

Nobody told evolution this.

So our bodies break down, our minds get sick, we need all sorts of medications, we die. Evolution wants us to constantly change.

PLAY.

When we were kids we played different games all the time. We would never play the same game for 300 days in a row, for 20 years in a row.

But then we got handed our “scripts” by our parents, schools, political parties, jobs, institutions, etc. We were told to stick to the script. But we never stopped being the boy or girl who wanted to play.

When you stop playing, you enter the vast world of excuses.

WORLD DOMINATION.

If you are good at making cars. And then you get good at design (a totally different area), then suddenly you might be the best in the world at car design.

When you change and learn from new fields you get to have idea sex (and idea orgasms). Your ideas have children.

Your ideas evolve many many generations very quickly. Suddenly now you are the exponential result of your changes.

Your cheeks are rosy with the fresh air that constant idea sex bestows on you.

Being uniquely the best in the world at something is fun and valuable.

And it’s never too late. If you want examples, I will give you them. But you are never too old, no matter who tries to tell you you are.

Getting good at change (big, small, tiny – every day) means getting good at life.

Do it without expectation. Wish for nothing. Care for everything. Happiness will be in between.

Do I feel bad about that scholarship from 22 years ago? Yes. Sometimes I feel bad about a lot of things. Sometimes people will judge you and it will hurt.

But that’s just life. Trust me, you will have plenty of time for death later.

Are You Playing or Are You Dead?

December 30, 2013

 

Go ahead, ask a kid what he likes to do. He says, “I like to play”.

What do you do when you’re not playing?

“What do you mean?” the kid might say, “I play some more”.

A kid can take a ROCK and then play with it. “Kick the rock”.

I’ll tell you the rules. I hope you and I can play this game.

You’re on one side and I’m the other and we put a rock in the middle and we try to kick it past each other. That’s it. And it’s fun.

No keeping score. No goals. We’re pushing and shoving and kicking and getting dirty. Some kid might say, “Whoah, that rock is a mineral!”

Who cares! We’re kicking and playing.

Ask an adult what he’s doing and he says something like, “I’m doing something serious.” We have to make money. So we can rise up some ladder. So we can make use of our education and afford our mortgage and our kids’ college educations.

Ok, I am not going to judge. I need to do this stuff also.

Well, when you’re not doing something serious, what are you doing?

“I like to relax,” an adult might say.

A kid never says “I like to relax”.

I can just picture myself and my 100% four-eyed friends back in the days of bikeriding, shoplifting, and McRibs.

Nobody ever said, “Listen guys, It’s been loads of fun today but I should relax now. Maybe listen to some jazz or opera.”

Kids only go “home” when adults tell them to.

“JAMES, GET HOME! IT’S FUCKING DARK!”

Or if they have to go to school. Or a family event. And later on a job. Or a government event (a holiday like “Father’s Day” or voting or something really serious). Or a rehab facility.

Gradually kids become adults. They become walking standardized tests with all the circles filled in.

It starts with that ancient mystery: why can you only use #2 pencils? It’s called #2 for a reason.

We learn to be pessimistic and cynical. We learn to hide our feelings. We learn to get scared for more than a moment.

We crowd out the toys and songs and games we were originally blessed to know. We forget about play. That wonderful bubbling feeling that pours danger and excitement on everything we can see.

Of course, there are exceptions. Rock stars. Sergey Brin, Scarlett Johanssen, etc. They get to still play when they want.

But you can be an exception also.

You don’t need money to create the world you live in.  You play FIRST.

Sergey Brin started off poor as shit. He was a janitor in Stanford’s math department until he solved an ancient formula on the chalkboard.

Scarlett Johanssen lived in and sang in the orphanage until that rich bald guy adopted her.

But they played. And they kept playing. And the play made them special.

That’s how you unravel mystery, invention, WOW!, and all the things that create passion, enough money to provide, and whatever else your needs are.

You choose the world you live in. It’s an item on a menu. Right now you choose.

If you aren’t choosing, you’re excusing.

The sad thing is, I can tell you from experience, is that when you opt for “play world” (not as porn as it sounds), the rest of the world doesn’t like it. They spent a lot of time, effort, and money on being serious.

When you opt to find the play in the small events that add up to a day, a year, a lifetime, you will change. You will transform.

You will be the one person around you who can read between the lines and see that it was all meant for play all along. With no exceptions.

I hope you choose to come out and play. Kicking the rock. Building the fort. Painting with magic fingers. Small angers disappear in a flash of laughter.

But I’m going to warn you now. The adults are looking for you in the dark. They will drag you home. They will punish you if you let them.

Ignore them.

Please don’t let them switch off your lights.

I write this not as advice. I write this because it is the advice I need to give myself each day. I hope I follow this advice today. I hope I follow this advice tomorrow. And the day after that.

THE POWER OF FIVE

December 23, 2013

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m engulfed in red flames. I don’t want to be afraid or anxious any more.

There are two banks to the river: on one bank are all the regrets, guilt…past.

On the other bank are all the worries, anxieties…future.

I lived most of my life on the bottom of the river, clinging to my fears of being swept up by all the currents. It’s hard to let go. I was afraid to crash into the banks. Everyone else around me was scared also.

But the only way to get to the ocean is by letting go of the fears and anxieties. By not clinging to what was stolen so you can enjoy the energy that is yours forever.

I know it’s easier said than done, but this helps me. I hope it helps you too:

 

Power_of_Five

Everyone knows the first one:

– YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. This isn’t quite true but you get the idea. Be around people who love and inspire and respect you and who you respect. Every moment otherwise is a waste.

That’s the first. But there are other “five things” that are important.

– YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU THE MOST.

It may sound corny but surrounding me in this room…

  • collage Claudia put together on how she pictures 2014. It’s beautiful and I know it works magic. Claudia has done this before. She’s a magician.
  • The original sketches Joe Harris put together when he was pitching his 60s cartoon “Underdog”. I always feel like the Underdog. I WANT to be the Underdog.
  • An animation cel from the opening sequence of “I Dream of Jeannie”. I like to believe in magic. I like to believe everything I don’t know or understand is magic. And Barbara Eden is sexy. She’s 80 year old sexy now.
  • An animation cel from “Alice in Wonderland”. I went down the rabbit hole in 2010 and never looked back. I don’t even know what I mean by that but I’m in wonderland.
  • A photo from the 1957 World Go championship with Sakata Eio staring at the board with such intensity. I wish I could be that intense even once in my life. And in the photo, there’s one tooth that juts out and you know it’s enough to just kill you. I write about it in my post, “The Tooth“.

– MY THOUGHTS ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE THINGS I THINK ABOUT.

I try for it to be gratitude, abundance, health, value, and WOW! In reverse order.
– MY BODY AND MIND ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE THINGS I “EAT”:

I put “eat” in quotes because I include mental food. For instance, I don’t put junk news, junk articles, junk tv in my head. And I (try) not to put junk food in.
– I AM THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE THINGS I DO TO HELP PEOPLE EACH DAY: 

If you can’t think of five things, then build up. This is not only how you avoid the banks of the river but how you move down the river.

So that’s five things of 5 things.

If all I do is focus on this little “power of 5” then I know I won’t hit either bank of the river. In the comments, put your five things most important to you.

When I’m tired I float on my back and stare into the sun and when I close my eyes the sun is still there in blue and fire.

empty-beach-with-sun_00446014

 

P.S.: Take action today:  (1) Find your five people… thoughts…objects… ways you help people.. and things you consume (food and mental ingestion)   (2) Share your insights in the comments (3) Congratulate yourself, you’ve identified them!

Be Nice to Strangers

December 20, 2013

(note: the t-shirts my kids are wearing contain all 67,000 words of “Choose Yourself!”, readable, courtesy of litographs.com)

“Did the mailman have red hair?” said the man in front of me on line, implying that my  ex-wife had sex with a mailman and then she had my daughter, who has  bright orange hair.

We were on line to get ice cream. I was with my illegitimate bastard and the guy was a total stranger in line in front of me.

It was neat how he asked about my sex life and the legitimacy of my child all in one question.

I’m cool with that.

I said to him, “Yes, as a matter of fact, he did.” Which is true. The  mailman had red hair back then, when I lived in Tribeca, before I lost  my home and all my money and dignity. And  now this man was kind enough  to remind me of that.

Maybe my girl whose affection I am buying  with sugar, is not even related to me and I’ve just revealed my deepest  secrets to this total stranger who felt comfortable asking me about my  sex life with my ex-wife.

I’m proud of me.

For no real reason.

As one reviewer of my magnum opus, “Choose Yourself!” recently said, “funny, but no good content.”

Which sounds really funny to me. It’s like I made an encyclopedia of  toilets. Because my humor is so stupid I would laugh at a book that had nothing but toilets but I would also say, very seriously, “but no good  content”.

I used to like antique stores. There’s something  magical about them. Like you might find a genie lamp in an antique  store. Or The Satanic Bible in the original Latin that can be used to  conjure up a succubus.

Succubus.

But I live in a town (a “village”) known for antiquing and so I see the scam.

It’s just old stuff.

The antique store closest to me has a hand in the window. It’s a white plastic hand, perhaps cut off from a mannequin.

My illegitimate red-haired daughter and I thought we should buy it and buy some lawn chairs.

Every Saturday a boat goes from NYC and stops about a half block from  my house and lets out about 200 people that want to go antiquing.

We were thinking of sitting outside on the sidewalk in our new lawn  chairs and waving the white hand at  everyone who passes and say “Hi  Y’all” like we were Southerners.

My shady bastard thinks this  is funny. Everytime we pass the store she goes “Hi Y’all” and laughs or  she says, “remember when we were thinking about getting the lawn chairs  and the hand and saying ‘Hi Y’all’ ” to everyone?” even though it was  only fifteen minutes earlier. Which actually makes her statement  (“remember”) funny.

Because there’s lots of things you can say to strangers that can either make them angry or make them laugh or just  make them think, “this guy is very polite and playing by the rules”.

But Jason Bourne (me, in my fantasy world) doesn’t play by the rules.

So I can say whatever I want to strangers. Who cares? I will never ever see them again. I try to then do one of two things:

I try to make them laugh. Or I try to make them feel like I love them the way their mother loves them. It’s the one opportunity I will ever  have to mother this complete stranger, almost as if he (or she) were in  my womb right now. My magic Satanic womb.

If I do one of those  two things then I get to change their lives. That is fun for me. I try to do it every day with every stranger I meet, even the guy who sells me  coffee on the corner or the random billionaire I might bump into in the street. It doesn’t matter to me. They are my child and I am their  mother.

It also has the added benefit of slowing down time. If  time were measured in “fun or loving interactions with strangers” as  opposed to “Seconds” then my life would be longer. And you know what,  since I get to write my rules, my life is measured that way. Some of the  time.

Is my daughter mine? Or an illegitimate bastard?

It doesn’t matter to me. I love her anyway.

The Cure for the Emotional Flu

December 16, 2013

 

(when reality stars get the flu)

(when reality stars get the flu)

It’s hard to live. To digest. To get a job. To find someone to love. To find someone who loves you back.

People make a lot of money trying to solve all of the above problems. They sell packages for $19.95 a month and then people like me forget to unsubscribe.

At the end of the day we are all trying to fight loneliness. Mastery fights loneliness. So does finding someone to love. So does having a family and having friends.

My head hurts sometimes in the morning. I think of people who are gone from my life. The way water comes onto the beach for a second but then goes back into the ocean. Goodbye, I miss you. But if I chase after you I will drown.

On Facebook everyone seems happy. Like the world had a party and didn’t invite me. I was available!

“Bob” doesn’t speak to me anymore because I’m anti-war. Twenty years of friendship down the drain. I argued with him once on GChat all night.

I was sure he’d see things my way. It hurt my head. My head was crying.

Claudia came down. She looked good in her nightgown. She was like, “you have to get to sleep” and I was like, “but we’ve been friends for over twenty years!”

My shoulders scrunched together. My eyes squinting. Ready to type.

She said, “no you haven’t been” and turned around and went back to sleep.

Well… I’m right.

Damnit.

Every day there’s SOMETHING. Something I’m afraid of. Someone I’m worried for. Someone who does me wrong. Someone who is stabbing me in the back.

I can’t cure them. The zombie army is always there. Do you ever wonder why even the President is afraid of the zombie army in all of the movies? Even though they are dead and he is alive?

If I don’t cure myself, the day will get infected. The sky will gush blood. My brain will get knifed.

I am just going to straight out tell you my cure. No fooling around. No $19.95. Keep your money.

This is what I do. And I do it all day long every day, every hour, right now. It works for me and for these moments everything shimmers like the sun hitting a patch of water. And when I don’t do it, I fall and it hurts.

A) ADMIT IT. There’s nothing I can do. It’s nobody’s fault. People are just jerks sometimes.Or sometimes I’m a jerk. Or sometimes shitty things happen. Sometimes there’s a hurricane I can’t control. Sometimes I’m worried about a future that will never come true. A monster from another dimension.

I don’t know.

Just admit it. Pain exists. And if it’s outside, then it’s really just a roadmap to your inside. A GPS to some inner pain.

I feel it in my stomach, head, chest. Sometimes my chest squeezes shut and I hold my head and think I’m crazy. She’s right. I’m right. She’s right. I’m right. Nobody’s right. I miss her. I miss him. I’m afraid.

If you start thinking someone (anyone) is right, that’s the beginning of mental illness.

All I know is my head hurts. Just admit it. I miss you and I suffer.

exercise: where in your body can you feel any emotional or mental pain right now. Think of the zombies in your life and feel the pain…where?

B ) LIST IT. What hurts? Maybe I feel lonely. Maybe my ego was hurt because someone sent a hurtful email. Maybe someone was wrong about me and I’m frustrated I can never correct them.

Let me explain! But explaining is draining.

If you’re not choosing, you’re excusing.

Maybe I want more money. Or love. Or safety and I’m afraid I won’t get it. Or I’m scared for someone. Worried. Are they ok? Just admit it. List it. This is the chance to be honest. To your self.

What do you crave?

exercise: connect the pain with something in the world that is bothering you. A specific insult. A lingering stress. A feeling of being “stuck”. All of these things are in your head, the wired into your body. A complicated piece of bio-emotional machinery.

C) STOP IT. This takes practice. I have to say to myself, “This is not a useful thought”. Thought thought thought…not useful thought.

I breathe, I’m alive!

I’m getting a little better at it. The ratio of useful thoughts to not useful. Try labeling each thought.

Sometimes I put question marks at the ends of all my sentences instead of exclamation points. I deliberately confuse myself. What?

When you question, you explore instead of conclude. Life becomes a mystery instead of an output to your input.

The key is just to stop for a second. Stop the obsessive treadmill. Get off the merry go round. Get out of the gravitational pull of your obsession.

Useful / not useful.

Then breathe so you can take a step back for:

D) HEALTH. I’ve written a billion times about the daily practice. Some people ask me, if I want to be successful, which leg of it should I focus on. The answer: no legs. The chair will fall if you think that way. It’s not about success, it’s about survival.

It’s about the tiny nicks in the stone to make the sculpture.

It’s every second taking a step back and just triple-checking, am I healthy:

  • Physically: Did I eat well, sleep well, exercise
  • Emotionally: Am I surrounding myself with people I love, who love me, who inspire me. Can I love myself even when lonely or angry?
  • Mentally: Am I exercising my idea muscle, writing down ten ideas a day, reading, becoming an idea machine. REPEAT: BECOME AN IDEA MACHINE
  • Spiritually: Did I say “Thanks” to someone today. Did I surrender to everything in the world that I can’t control? And then, once again: “thanks”.

Thanks. Thank you for reading this.

There.

That’s the cure for the emotional flu. Don’t worry if you are “off”. Just start now. This is how I take care of myself. I’m going to do it right now. Then later today.

Then when I talk to you, I might do it again.

I might still get lonely, or angry, or sad, worried, or jealous. I might still regret. Or get anxious. That’s what a human body does.

The blackness is always there. But I take the cure and a slice of rainbow cuts through. Hi!

There’s an infinity before we are born. An infinity after we live. We’re jumping between those two infinite black mountains and we’ll die if we fall. We have to create our luck every second.

But if we take care of ourselves, we grow wings. The mist of the clouds open like fluffy lips. And for this briefest moment of life, I can fly. I can kiss.

 

How To Hug

December 5, 2013

I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18. I didn’t even have my first hug until I was 18.

My parents never hugged or kissed. That’s ok. I’m not saying this in a sob story sort of way. I feel blessed that I was never hugged or kissed as a child.

Many people have it far worse. Claudia’s mom jumped out a window when she was a kid. I’m glad that didn’t happen to me.

And not being hugged as a child makes it very difficult for me to hug now. When I hug, it’s very special for me.

I feel like I don’t really know how to do it. You put your arms around someone and you squeeze a little.

I put my right hand a little higher and my left hand a little lower and I sort of lean to the left and give a little squeeze. When it feels good it tells me I’m doing it right.

Some people also like to kiss on the cheek when they hug. I used to do that but it never really felt right.

Hugging is very intense for me. Adding kissing to is too much. I feel awkward. I can’t tell if I gave too much emotion or if people would think I was weird or if I did it wrong.

Because my parents never hugged me, I try to hug my daughters a lot. I like doing it. I don’t see them as much as I would like to.

Nothing makes up for that but at least when I hug them I think it tells them I love them and that I think they are good people that I like to be around.

As I write this, it almost reads like I’m a sociopath. Like I don’t know how to have emotions so I have to fake the actions that normal people do. But this is not true. I really like to be close to people and feel friendship and love with them.

But I don’t know how to physically communicate that with them. Unless I’m in love with them. Then I probably overdo it. Like I climb all over them.

It’s like being in a maze in a circus. You go down all these different corners and there are clowns everywhere.

Clowns are funny and scary and fantasy and love. And mazes are filled with  mystery with magical gold at the end.

That’s what a hug is for me.

For a long time I felt uncomfortable even shaking hands. I had an excuse ready. I said, “George Washington would always bow so I’ll bow.” And then we would bow. That’s how I avoided touching people.

And when I was CEO of my first company, I got a masseuse every Friday to give massages to all the employees. But I was the only one who wouldn’t get a massage. The other employees would  make fun of me. But I assumed if the masseuse touched me I would fall in love with her.

I’m pretty confident that I can’t be alone in this. Touching is very intimate and yet very social. We do it all day long. And yet it’s a prelude to having sex. The rainbow of emotions is in between. Double rainbows are love.

One time I was at a funeral of a relative. There was a woman there I had a crush on. Everybody was hugging each other because it was a funeral. So I hugged her more than once. Every time I passed her I would hug her. Finally I got the sense that she thought it was weird and then simply because she thought it, it did become weird. Actually, it was weird. I can’t blame it on her. I was weird.

I started this post because when I was a kid one of parents threw a knife at me. But when I think about it, it wasn’t a big deal. The knife wasn’t sharp, it missed me by about two feet, and even if it hit me I doubt it would’ve hurt me.

And I was an annoying kid so I’m not even being modest when I say I certainly deserved to have a relatively tiny blunt object thrown at me and miss by a mile. Who wouldn’t throw a vaguely blunt object at a whiny ten year old?

I wanted to feel sorry for myself but I can’t.

But I can say thank you. Because now when I touch people it means so much to me.

To hug is to love.

Because it took so many years for me to hug someone I know the secret of what a good hug is. It’s not the same as “hello”. Or “I missed you”. Or “You look great!”. It’s not a hand shake. It’s not a fist bump.

When I hug, I give a piece of myself. A little emotional baby.

And that’s why I now have lots of babies, all through the world. Daddy.

How To Become a Jedi Knight

December 2, 2013

In 2005 I was going to go out of business (again). My biggest investor had to pull out. His business had failed. He had a nervous twitch and whenever I ran into him he was constantly twitching, “I need my money back,” he told me.

But I didn’t have it I had invested it. It would be a year before I could give it to him. So I didn’t know what to do. One time he threw a chair at me and ran out of the room. But there was nothing I could do.

So I did what any normal 37 year old man in the fund of hedge funds business would do. I bought the book, “The Tao of Star Wars”. Because I knew deep down if I just surrendered to The Force then my business would be ok.

Yoda-Meditating

I read the book every night before I went to sleep. I had confidence that it would save my business.

And it did. Or I did. Or something did. My business didn’t go under. That wouldn’t happen for another year or so.

A few weeks ago Cheryl Richardson, author of the book, “The Art of Extreme Self-Care” asked me and a bunch of people what movies impacted us the most. I jumped right out there, “Star Wars” because I believe in The Force. I think someone else said “Schindler’s List”.

I saw Star Wars when I was seven years old and it changed my life.

I tried to explain the story to my dad and he gave me wise advice, “I can never follow when someone tries to tell me a story”. I now repeat that sentence almost every day to people who try to tell me boring stories.

Nobody knows what’s true and what’s fake. We all have faith in something: usually a mixture of some personal beliefs with modern science. I am like that also. Mostly, I just believe in what works for me.

The Force works for me. I admit it.

Here’s how to be a Jedi Knight

A) Rest when you have nothing to do. When Qui-Gon is fighting Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace a transparent door closes, dividing them. Darth Maul paces back and forth and Qui Gon simply sits and rests and seems to be doing nothing.

It doesn’t matter to me that Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon at the end of that fight. Qui-Jon comes back later. Whatever.

In modern society we all feel like we have to be like Darth Maul. Pacing, finding a “purpose”, being anxious, stressed, waiting for doors to open. But how great is it to just rest and be happy and not move when you don’t have to.

I will tell you: it’s great.

meditation

B) Less. Get rid of everything you don’t need. Obi-Wan lives in a cave or a hut for 40 years when he’s on Tatooine. Yoda, who was ruler of the Universe, lives in a swamp after he loses his battle with the Emperor. They were still capable of laughing, of living, of staying healthy, of being able to train the next generation. They didn’t need anything to keep them entertained.

Of course, I have to keep repeating, it’s a story. But this is the way I would like to live.

C) Practice being “good”. Being a good, compassionate person is not something like “having two arms” or “being able to see”. It’s a quality we develop over years and thousands of hours of practice. Most people are not good people. In business, in art, in almost every “world” I’ve been in, most  people I meet are pretty gray to black. It takes practice to be the person who is a source of compassion and honesty.

Supposedly it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Unfortunately, most people spend 10,000 hours trying to be a jerk to others. If all you do is put in your 10,000 with small kindnesses, then the universe will return that many times over.

D) Read. Clearly George Lucas read many spiritual texts before he wrote even the first Star Wars or conceived of the whole saga. I’d start with the Tao Te Ching and then various interpretations of it. Then I’d go with any stories of Chuang Tzu, Buddha, Thich Naht Hanh, and I’d read “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama.

I don’t think one should be a “taoist” or a “Buddhist”. I doubt that Buddha was a “Buddhist”, which is just a label. Nor should one be a “Jedi-ist”. There’s no reason to separate yourself out from all of the other people. Just read texts that are inspiring.

E) Think About What You Read. If you read one page of the Tao Te Ching there’s probably enough in there to think about it for a year.  Try it. There’s a saying, “reading spiritual texts is good, thinking about them is 100 times better, practicing what you read is 100,000 times better.” So think and practice.

F) Health. In all of the movies I never saw an out of shape Jedi. Although there seems to be a deep spiritual componenet to being a Jedi, clearly there is a physical health component as well. They are jumping out of spaceships, fighting with light sabers, and they can probably run a four minute  mile. Heck, even Yoda at the age of 800 is jumping all over the place.

Why is health important? Buddha doesn’t talk about health. Jesus doesn’t mention health.

Health is not important. But sickness is. If you are sick, then your thoughts will be stapled to that sickness. You can’t get rid of it. You’re in pain and pain takes up the mind. This is why “The Yoga Sutras” is not about looking good in a yoga studio and picking up girls (although that is a good use of it). It’s about staying physically and emotionally healthy so you can focus on your spiritual life.

G) Be around other Jedis. Once Anakin starts hanging out with Darth Sidious he becomes a bad guy. Here are some things that are hard in life: being honest, being kind, trying to add value to others. These things take time and energy. When you are around people who steal your energy then those things become even harder.

H) Be open-minded. The difference between Luke and Han in the original Star Wars. Luke is willing to believe. There’s a lot of issues people get “stapled to” almost as if they were sicknesses. Some core issues: pro-choice vs pro-life. war vs anti-war. college vs no-college, global warming, etc.

I’m not saying one side is right and one side is wrong. When you find yourself thinking, “This side is DEFINITELY right” be willing to open your mind and look at why the other side thinks the way they do. It’s never for the stupid reasons you think it is. Issues are just ways for the mind to practice being open-minded. Strong opinions are ways for the mind to get stapled to this planet, filled with so many myths and manipulations.

This is good practice for the actual hard decisions you have to make in your life. Else your brain get’s too soft and one-sided.

alec-guinness-as-ben-obi-wan-kenobi-in-star

I) Trust. Luke has to watch Obi-Wan die. Han has to be captured by bounty hunters. Anakin has to be recruited as a little kid. Qui-Jon has to die. Yoda has to go into exile. Bad things happen. But if you follow steps A-H, bad things happen in cycles. Good things also. Trusting that the kindness you are putting out there is compounding in a secret bank account for you means waiting for that bank account to deliver it’s returns. It will.

J) James is crazy. Yeah, I am. But I believe it.My business did get saved. Then it went out of business. The my next business got bought. Then it went down the drain. Then my marriage disintegrated. Then I got married again to the woman of my dreams. Then I lost all of my writing jobs. Now I write more than ever. Then I lost many friends. Now I have more friends than ever.

Everyone thought “Old Ben” was crazy. And he probably was. He died at the end of that movie. Just like the rest of us will.

 

THE ULTIMATE CHEAT SHEET FOR REINVENTING YOURSELF

December 1, 2013

Here are the rules: I’ve been at zero a few times, come back a few times, and done it over and over. I’ve started entire new careers. People who knew me then, don’t me now. And so on.

I’ve had to change careers several times. Sometimes because my interests changed. Sometimes because all bridges have been burned beyond recognition, sometimes because I desperately needed money. And sometimes just because I hated everyone in my old career or they hated me.

There are other ways to reinvent yourself, so take what I say with a grain of salt. This is what worked for me.

I’ve seen it work for maybe a few hundred other people. Through interviews, through people writing me letters, through the course of the past 20 years. You can try it or not.

A) Reinvention never stops.

Every day you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.

B) You start from scratch.

Every label you claim you have from before is just vanity. You were a doctor? You were Ivy League? You had millions? You had a family? Nobody cares. You lost everything. You’re a zero. Don’t try to say you’re anything else.

C) You need a mentor.

Else, you’ll sink to the bottom. Someone has to show you how to move and breathe. But don’t worry about finding a mentor (see below).

D) Three types of mentors

  1. Direct. Someone who is in front of you who will show you how they did it. What is “it”? Wait. By the way, mentors aren’t like that old Japanese guy in “The Karate Kid.” Ultimately most mentors will hate you.
  2. Indirect. Books. Movies. You can outsource 90 percent of mentorship to books and other materials. 200-500 books equals one good mentor. People ask me, “What is a good book to read?” I never know the answer. There are 200-500 good books to read. I would throw in inspirational books. Whatever are your beliefs, underline them through reading every day.
  3. Everything is a mentor. If you are a zero, and have passion for reinvention, then everything you look at will be a metaphor for what you want to do. The tree you see, with roots you don’t, with underground water that feeds it, is a metaphor for computer programming if you connect the dots. And everything you look at, you will connect the dots.

mentor

E) Don’t worry if you don’t have passion for anything.

You have passion for your health. Start there. Take baby steps. You don’t need a passion to succeed. Do what you do with love and success is a natural symptom.

F) Time it takes to reinvent yourself: five years.

Here’s a description of the five years:

  • Year One: you’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to DO.
  • Year Two: you know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re Doing every day. You finally know what the monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors.
  • Year Three: you’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet.
  • Year Four: you’re making a good living
  • Year Five: you’re making wealth

Sometimes I get frustrated in years 1-4. I say, “why isn’t it happening yet?” and I punch the floor and hurt my hand and throw a coconut on the floor in a weird ritual. That’s okay. Just keep going. Or stop and pick a new field. It doesn’t matter. Eventually you’re dead and then it’s hard to reinvent yourself.

G) If you do this faster or slower then you are doing something wrong.

Google is a good example.

H) It’s not about the money. But money is a decent measuring stick.

When people say “it’s not about the money” they should make sure they have a different measuring stick.

“What about just doing what you love?” There will be many days when you don’t love what you are doing. If you are doing it just for love then it will take much much longer than five years.

Happiness is just a positive perception from our brain. Some days you will be unhappy. Our brain is a tool we use. It’s not who we are.

I) When can you say, “I do X!” where X is your new career?

Today.

J) When can I start doing X?

Today. If you want to paint, then buy a canvas and paints today, start buying 500 books one at a time, and start painting. If you want to write do these three things:

  • Read
  • Write
  • Take your favorite author and type your favorite story of his word for word. Wonder to yourself why he wrote each word. He’s your mentor today.

If you want to start a business, start spec-ing out the idea for your business. Reinvention starts today. Every day.

K) How do I make money?

By year three you’ve put in 5,000-7,000 hours. That’s good enough to be in the top 200-300 in the world in anything. The top 200 in almost any field makes a living.

By year three you will know how to make money. By year four you will scale that up and make a living. Some people stop at year four.

L) By year five you’re in the top 30-50 so can make wealth.

M) What is “it”? How do I know what I should do?

Whatever area you feel like reading 500 books about. Go to the bookstore and find it. If you get bored three months later go back to the bookstore.

It’s okay to get disillusioned. That’s what failure is about. Success is better than failure but the biggest lessons are found in failure.

Very important: There’s no rush. You will reinvent yourself many times in an interesting life. You will fail to reinvent many times. That’s fun also.

Many reinventions make your life a book of stories instead of a textbook.

Some people want the story of their life to be a textbook. For better or worse, mine is a book of stories.

That’s why reinvention happens every day.

N) The choices you make today will be in your biography tomorrow.

Make interesting choices and you will have an interesting biography.

N1) The choices you make today will be in your biology tomorrow.

O) What if I like something obscure? Like biblical archaeology or 11th-century warfare?

Repeat all of the steps above, and then in year five you will make wealth. We have no idea how. Don’t look to find the end of the road when you are still at the very first step.

fall

P) What if my family wants me to be an accountant?

How many years of your life did you promise your family? Ten years? Your whole life? Then wait until the next life. The good thing is: you get to choose.

Choose freedom over family. Freedom over preconceptions. Freedom over government. Freedom over people-pleasing. Then you will be pleased.

Q) My mentor wants me to do it HIS way.

That’s fine. Learn HIS way. Then do it YOUR way. With respect.

Hopefully nobody has a gun to your head. Then you have to do it their way until the gun is put down.

R) My spouse is worried about who will support/take care of kids?

Then after you work 16 hours a day, seven days a week being a janitor, use your spare time to reinvent.

Someone who is reinventing ALWAYS has spare time. Part of reinvention is collecting little bits and pieces of time and re-carving them the way you want them to be.

S) What if my friends think I’m crazy?

What friends?

T) What if I want to be an astronaut?

That’s not a reinvention. That’s a specific job. If you like “outer space” there are many careers. Richard Branson wanted to be an astronaut and started Virgin Galactic.

U) What if I like to go out drinking and partying?

Read this post again in a year.

V) What if I’m busy cheating on my husband or wife or betraying a partner?

Read this post again in two or three years when you are broke and jobless and nobody likes you.

W) What if I have no skills at all?

Read “B” again.

X) What if I have no degree or I have a useless degree?

Read “B” again.

Y) What if I have to focus on paying down my debt and mortgage?

Read “R” again.

Z) How come I always feel like I’m on the outside looking in?

Albert Einstein was on the outside looking in. Nobody in the establishment would even hire him.

Everyone feels like a fraud at some point. The highest form of creativity is born out of skepticism.

AA) I can’t read 500 books. What one book should I read for inspiration?

Give up.

BB) What if I’m too sick to reinvent?

Reinvention will boost every healthy chemical in your body: serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin. Keep moving forward and you might not get healthy but you will get healthier. Don’t use health as an excuse.

Finally, reinvent your health first. Sleep more hours. Eat better. Exercise. These are key steps to reinvention.

CC) What if my last partner screwed me and I’m still suing him?

Stop litigating and never think about him again. Half the problem was you, not him.

DD) What if I’m going to jail?

Perfect. Reread “B.” Read a lot of books in jail.

EE) What if I’m shy?

Make your weaknesses your strengths. Introverts listen better, focus better, and have ways of being more endearing.

FF) What if I can’t wait five years?

If you plan on being alive in five years then you might as well start today.

GG) How should I network?

Make concentric circles. You’re at the middle.

The next circle is friends and family.

The next circle is online communities.

The circle after that is meetups and coffees.

The circle after that is conferences and thought leaders.

The circle after that is mentors.

The circle after that is customers and wealth-creators.

Start making your way through the circles.

HH) What happens when I have ego about what I do?

In 6-12 months you’ll be back at “B”

II) What if I’m passionate about two things? What if I can’t decide?

Combine them and you’ll be the best in the world at the combination.

JJ) What if I’m so excited I want to teach what I’m learning?

Start teaching on YouTube. Start with an audience of one and see if it builds up.

KK) What if I want to make money while I sleep?

In year four, start outsourcing what you do.

LL) How do I meet mentors and thought leaders?

Once you have enough knowledge (after 100-200 books), write down 10 ideas for 20 different potential mentors.

None of them will respond. Write down 10 more ideas for 20 new mentors. Repeat every week.

Put together a newsletter for everyone who doesn’t respond. Keep repeating until someone responds. Blog about your learning efforts. Build community around you being an expert.

MM) What if I can’t come up with ideas?

Then keep practicing coming up with ideas. The idea muscle atrophies. You have to build it up.

It’s hard for me to touch my toes if I haven’t been doing it every day. I have to do it every day for a while before I can easily touch my toes. Don’t expect to come up with good ideas on day one.

NN) What else should I read?

AFTER books, read websites, forums, magazines. But most of that is garbage.

OO) What if I do everything you say but it still doesn’t seem like it’s working?

It will work. Just wait. Keep reinventing every day.

Don’t try and find the end of the road. You can’t see it in the fog. But you can see the next step and you do know that if you take that next step eventually you get to the end of the road.

PP) What if I get depressed?

Sit in silence for one hour a day. You need to get back to your core.

If you think this sounds stupid then don’t do it. Stay depressed.

QQ) What if I don’t have time to sit in silence?

Then sit in silence for two hours a day. This is not meditation. This is just sitting.

RR) What if I get scared?

Sleep 8-9 hours a day and never gossip. Sleep is the No. 1 key to successful health. It’s not the only key. It’s just No. 1. Some people write to me and say, “I only need four hours of sleep” or “in my country sleeping means laziness.” Well, those people will fail and die young.

What about gossip? The brain biologically wants to have 150 friends. Then when you are with one of your friends you can gossip about any of the other 150. If you don’t have 150 friends then the brain wants to read gossip magazines until it thinks it has 150 friends.

Don’t be as stupid as your brain.

SS) What if I keep feeling like nothing ever works out for me?

Spend 10 minutes a day practicing gratitude. Don’t suppress the fear. Notice the anger.

But also allow yourself to be grateful for the things you do have. Anger is never inspirational but gratitude is. Gratitude is the bridge between your world and the parallel universe where all creative ideas live.

TT) What if I have to deal with personal bullshit all the time?

Find new people to be around.

Someone who is reinventing herself will constantly find people to try and bring her down. The brain is scared of reinvention because it might not be safe.

Biologically, the brain wants you to be safe and reinvention is a risk. So it will throw people in your path who will try to stop you.

Learn how to say “no.”

UU) What if I’m happy at my cubicle job?

Good luck.

VV) Why should I trust you – you’ve failed so many times?

Don’t trust me.

WW) Will you be my mentor?

You’ve just read this post.

[See also, The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Starting and Running Your Business]

HOW TO HAVE COURAGE

November 22, 2013

I get scared when I feel “stuck” in my life. I get scared when I meet a new friend and I’m afraid he won’t like me.

I get scared when a woman I love is quiet for a bit too long. At dinner parties I get scared when I have nothing to say. I get scared when people I care for are hurt.

I’m afraid of what people are saying about me behind my back. I’m afraid that when I’m an old man I will be too sick to move and nobody will visit me.

I want to practice courage.

Courage is caring but not having to care. Helping but not forcing. Saying no without being afraid of consequences.

Doing your best every moment but letting go of the results. Being loving with no expectation of love.

You become what you practice.

I get attached to things because of fear of losing them. Fear leads to anger. Anger ruins lives.

Courage is letting them go and simply waiting for what happens next.

I want to be what I practice. Courage risks fear.

Breathe.

No matter what, my little baby, it will be ok. Shhhh. You will grow up and fly away and I will never stop loving you.