How To Be Successful: The Explosive Truth

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(continued from “Why The Harvard MBA Should Be FIREd”)

Remember those paint-by-numbers kits we got as kids for too many birthdays? They had the allure of any typical get-rich-quick scheme. Each package featured the finished painting on its cover. It looked like a masterpiece. You just knew the Louvre had a space just for it, probably right next to the Mona Lisa. And – here’s the kicker – in just a few short hours you will have created an exact copy, suitable for hanging on your mother’s refrigerator!

Oh, joy, rapture! I got artistic talent!

And it was so easy, wasn’t it? Each kit came with clearly numbered paints, each number corresponding to a numbered shape on the heavy cardboard canvas supplied. It was as simple as 1, 2, 3… Picasso!

Picasso?!

You dreamed Monet and you got Picasso. And that was being generous. As you painted, you saw nothing but a series of random splotches of color. You might see an image, but Continue Reading “How To Be Successful: The Explosive Truth”

Why You Should Tell Bad Jokes

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Let me clue you in on this from the very beginning: this is another business metaphor. I’m telling you up front this time so you can begin to think about the connections from the moment you start reading it.

I was strolling through the National Comedy Center in Jamestown the other day, taking in with delight the many funny people who have entertained so many for so many years, when a thought struck me. Why do good comedians tell bad jokes?

When a comic sits down to write gags, it becomes an exercise of no-holds-barred brainstorming. This is by necessity. You don’t know what’s really funny while you’re creating it, so you don’t want to restrict yourself in any way.

James Mendrinos, in his book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comedy Writing, writes: “You have to force yourself to stain the pages, even if you think the jokes aren’t your best work. I’m not saying that bad jokes are better than no jokes. I am saying that if Continue Reading “Why You Should Tell Bad Jokes”

Your Date With Destiny

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An inconspicuous spot stands apart in a dimly lit corner of a musty, but comfortable, restaurant. The usual red and white checkered cloth covers this tiny table for two. The only light in the darkly paneled corner comes from a lone candle atop the table’s center. A worn wooden chair occupies a position on each side. The slightly overdressed couple sits casually. Their rigidly relaxed bodies betray the dull seriousness of their conversation.

Ever the curious sort, you’ve always wanted to meet fate. She’s now poised across from you, having accepted your invitation. Things aren’t going well.

“Tell me,” she says with forced interest, “what is it you really want to do?”Continue Reading “Your Date With Destiny”

The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win

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The Conqueror“The game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. Let the game do its work… If a champion defeats the meaning for which the game was designed, then he must lose.”

So says Mr. Bartholomew in 1975’s classic film Rollerball. It’s an American tale. An epic retelling of the classic mantra that fills the heart of every red-blooded citizen from the very founding of our country.

Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the most popular books, films, or any other place where a character must confront personal and public obstacles in heroic fashion. The most compelling of those stories are built around a single individual.

No, it doesn’t take a village to succeed, it takes self-discipline, self-reliance, and, ultimately, Continue Reading “The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win”

The Secret Step to Success: The Art of Delegation

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It’s the bane of every author. No, it’s not writer’s block, writer’s cramp or carpal tunnel syndrome. Sure, all these things exist, but they pale in comparison to this single great curse: perfection.

They say “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and, when it comes to writing, this is all too often true. Diligent writers weigh every sentence, every word, every syllable. Good writing is not merely a collection of coherent thoughts, but a flowing melody of music.

Think of your favorite books. Whether they be fiction or non-fiction, they all possessed the Continue Reading “The Secret Step to Success: The Art of Delegation”

Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)

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We’re building a detached garage. Since the time I bought my home, I had dreamed of building a detached garage. It was a dream Betsy quickly adopted, if only to create a massive storage vehicle for a lifetime of research, source material, and memories that have consumed much of the living space in our house. Soon, we will have a living room again. And a dining room. And maybe a couple of other rooms (and closets), too.

While the garage isn’t yet complete, we do have a roof and the building is adequately enclosed. A few weeks ago, we had Catarina’s birthday party in it. This weekend, we held Cesidia’s birthday party there.

Both parties were excellent. And instructive.

We had bare studs-and-plywood walls for Catarina’s party. By Cesidia’s party, the insulation had been installed (but not the drywall).

For Cesidia’s party, the garage was a nearly perfect sound room. The paper backing of the insulation absorbed all ambient noise. That didn’t mean it muffled our voices. No. When everyone was talking, it sounded like everyone was talking. You could hear each voice very clearly, but when the voices stopped, there was a dead silence.

It really perked up your attention. It also made you quite aware of everything around you. It was a full-bodied experience. Ironically, at the same time you were more attentive, you Continue Reading “Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)”

5 Reasons You May Be On The Cusp Of Success (And Not Even Know It)

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Look around you. Now, more than ever, the world teems with constant change.

Some succumb, consumed by the cascading chaos.

Winners smile broadly, delighted by the array of percolating opportunities.

“Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?”

This is the question every budding entrepreneur asks. It is the wrong question.

Imagine

Wouldn’t you benefit more if, before beginning on your entrepreneurial journey, you knew Continue Reading “5 Reasons You May Be On The Cusp Of Success (And Not Even Know It)”

Ready. Fire! Aim.

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Ask any entrepreneurial wannabe what’s holding them back and they’ll say, “I’m just not sure if I have everything I need.”

Ask any successful entrepreneur to name the key to their success and they’ll say, “Moving forward without having everything I needed.”

There are two immutable laws when it comes to starting a business or any new venture. The first neatly packages a box for comfortable perfection. The second… well, let’s talk about the first law first.

The First Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Never proceed without a Continue Reading “Ready. Fire! Aim.”

Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls

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“Gower and Uncle Billy sold war bonds. Bert the cop was wounded in North Africa, got the Silver Star. Ernie, the taxi-driver, parachuted into France. Marty helped capture the Remagen Bridge. Harry, Harry Bailey topped them all. A Navy flier, he shot down fifteen planes. Two of them as they were about to crash into a transport full of soldiers.”

“Yes, but George…”

“George? Four-F on account of his ear, George fought the battle of Bedford Falls… Air raid warden… paper drives…scrap drives… rubber drives… Like everybody else, on V-E day he wept and prayed. On V-J day, he wept and prayed again.”

If you’re a red-blooded American you immediately recognize these lines from the move It’s a Wonderful Life.

Good ol’ George Bailey. As honest and sincere a guy as you can come by. He’d give you his Continue Reading “Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls”

Just Get Past The Peak

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There’s a bridge between here and Toronto. It’s in St. Catherine’s. It’s not high, but it’s high enough.

As you cross the Lewiston Bridge, the 190 turns into Route 405 in Ontario. The 405 quickly merges into the QEW and from there its straight on through to Toronto.

By way of this “high enough” bridge.

It’s called the “Garden City Skyway” and it soars 130 feet above the Welland Canal at its greatest height. Not too high. But high enough.

Nearly a mile long, when approaching from the east (which is what you do when you’re travelling to Toronto) before it crosses the canal, it ascends to a gentle curve. But not gentle enough.

To compound matters, the Canadians built the Garden City Skyway as an open road. There is no high structural steel to cocoon you comfortably within its path.

This, combined with it being as tall as a 13-story building and a curve that hides your ultimate destination leaves you with a feeling of flying unbound, high above the endless horizon of Lake Ontario.

And that’s just enough to give one smitten with a not-so-mild case of acrophobia sweaty palms.

I happen to be that one.

We all have a fear of falling. It’s natural and it’s meant to protect us. Acrophobia – the fear Continue Reading “Just Get Past The Peak”