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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Beginning 2014… with the End of it in Mind



A great way to stick those New Year’s “resolutions” or those seemingly insurmountable goals for 2014, is to begin the year with the end point in mind.

You’re creating for yourself a map and working backwards, establishing little checkpoints for yourself along the way. 

Maybe in July you swerve off of the path a little bit, but because of the map you created for yourself in the beginning of the year, you know the entry way to get back on that trail.

The best way to eat a 300 lb. elephant (tofu elephant for my vegan friends ;) ) is one bite at a time.

This creation of a map works with short-term projects, partnerships, and how you want to spend the working parts of your week. 

One point of note: don’t keep your nose buried in your map because there are wonderful treasures and sights, and magnificent people to meet along the way. You can’t miss them or your journey will not be as grand.

Second point of note: In this game, there are no expert cartographers.

So, what Dec. 31, 2014 look like for you? What kind of map will you create? What are the first steps in helping it unfold?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Picking Up Good Vibrations—How to Have a Healthy Love/Hate Relationship with Your Job, Goal, or Project




Last week, I met with artist and author who wanted my advice on how she could sell more of her books. 

It was a friendly meeting as a favor to a friend, so without going into painstaking detail, I simply recommended she create partnerships with companies who relate to the subject matter of her book. The crux of my plan for her was to go out in the world, make relationships with the right people, and hustle her way (in an ethical manner) to getting the results she wanted.

Before I could finish my thought, she interrupted me with something about how she didn’t want to do that because it didn’t “flow with her vibrations” and she wanted to live in her joy all day long.

To which I responded, “How are you going to live in your joy if you’re going hungry from not selling any books?”

The rest of the conversation was a bit of a blur, and we parted cordially, but she couldn’t part with the idea that it’s simply impossible to not get your hands dirty in the pursuit of your goals. 

This is life. You’re not going to love every single minute of every day. You’re not going to enjoy every part of your job. 

I work for myself and have wonderful clients, and speaking gigs, and book signings… and it sounds so darn glamorous (maybe, ha!) and that I’m “living in my joy” BUT… it is hard work and I don’t love all of it. It can be stressful and irritating and it can make you want to cry. But all of it can be super sweet and a great way to live.

Your relationship with your goals can be much like a friendship or romantic partnership. You can truly be in love but there are things about the relationship you might not love (your partner’s snoring, your mother-in-law) but you deal with it or manage it because the good grossly outweighs the bad. 

With a goal, job, or project; find ways to eliminate or outsource as much as possible, the work that you find undesirable. Play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses.

Always kill the toxicity in bad relationships with employees, co-workers, employers, and partners. This should be something on which you don’t compromise.

Yes, it’s possible for you to “live in your joy” but not every single minute of every day. Get your hands dirty. Acknowledge the valleys so that you can appreciate the peaks—it will make that joy you’re trying to live in much more delightful. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What's the Worst That Could Happen?




In our wildest dreams we calculate and wonder is what the worst thing that could happen should we pursue what it is that we want. 
  • I might fail.
  • I might fail… again. 
  • I might lose all of my money. 
  • He or she might reject my affections.
  • The casting director could hate my work and send me back to Iowa.
  • My business partner could be a thief.
  • My children might resent me.
  • I might become homeless.
  • My family might spurn me. 
All of those are scary. They’re discomforting and potentially painful. 
But these are not permanent defeats. These are things from which you can recover. 
The worst that could happen is that you never take action, that you wait till it’s too late, that you stop trying. Living out the rest of your days as a zombie may truly be the worst thing that could happen.
Reach for the stars. Tell her how you feel. Push harder than you ever thought you could. TRY. Keeping trying. Never give up. 
The best thing is not the end point but the evolution of self that happens along the way to that desired end point. The sights, sounds, and experiences along the “Journey of Trying” all combine to become the sweetest nectar from which you’ll draw life and strength.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Failure: A Lesson Learned on the Way to Success



'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.

Not gonna lie, I had a weird week. I failed a bit and it was painful and scary. Below are a few words I wrote to myself to help me get out of the "failure funk." I hope you find the words useful :) 

So you failed at something. You feel and skinned your knee. You got egg on your face.
It sucks. It hurts. It’s painful...  But it’s not the end of the world. Being upset and frustrated is okay but prolonged sulking doesn’t help you get where you want to go.
Recalibrate. Renew. Readjust. View every angle and dissect every piece of information to learn why you came up short. Can you shore up those “weaknesses” and turn them into strengths?
Craft a new plan. Set dates and deadlines. Ask for help. Ask for advice. Find a consultant in your field to brainstorm with, learn from, and to tell it like it is.
Success rarely happens overnight. If you want something in life that you’ve never had, you’ll have to do things you’ve never done before.
Don’t be scared...it’s just life and you have people around you who won’t let you get hurt. What’s the worst that can happen? Hint: it’s not failure. It’s never having tried (with a real effort) at all.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Finding the Silver Lining... er, uh, the Copper Wiring in Every Situation




This week I had a large scale artistic project, a musical, blow up in my face. I was the writer and associate producer. It had a large financial backing. It had a team behind it. It was an incredible concept that had “huge success” written all over it. And it turned out that the business model behind the project was flawed from the very beginning, long before I came on board. So, the plug was pulled ten days before the launch of the project—something to which I gave my heart and soul.

Painful. Annoying. Near heartbreaking.

When I got the news, I needed some time to think. I had to take a long walk to clear my head.

Do I give up and throw in the towel? Do I abandon the project along with everyone else? I wanted this to succeed but my heart was just ripped out. What was I supposed to do? I still believed in the concept as long as it was tweaked a bit.

We couldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We had components of a show that could still be saved for the future. Sets were already built, costumes sewn, a cast album near completion, orchestrations written, and a pop song from the show ready to go on the radio. 

On my walk I saw a couple of old houses being knocked down to make way for new construction. But before knocking down the old houses, they were being gutted, stripping the copper wiring from inside so it could be resold or used for new buildings. 

When all seems lost, when the thing in front of you looks like a pile of rubble—there’s almost certainly something salvageable from the site of the wreckage.

I’m taking my musical, revamping it slightly for a different audience, keeping the copper wiring—the album, the costumes, and the orchestrations—and living to fight another day.

Bad things happen, even painful things. That’s inevitable. It’s our response to those bad things that dictates what kind of life we lead. 

Find the silver lining in every situation... or the copper wiring. Things won’t get easier right away but you’ll be giving your future a fighting chance. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lessons from the Road: What a Little Brown Bird Taught me about Winning


Before my flight to Austin last week, I was sitting inside the Jet Blue terminal at JFK  airport and a little brown bird flew and landed ten feet in front of me. The bird had spotted some kind of large nut lying on the ground that it wanted to eat.
The nut was too large for the bird to swallow much less grab with its beak, so it started pecking at the nut. The bird worked hard until the nut cracked into three pieces. But cracking the nut was not the bird’s main objective. The bird started biting at each piece of the nut until it was small enough to chew and swallow. It wasn’t easy biting at each piece of the nut. Smaller pieces were flying in different directions but the bird kept at it and finally ate the entire nut.
That bird was on a mission, a mission to complete his objective, a mission to win.
If that tiny little bird can find a way to win, so can I. But what does it mean to win in the grand scheme of things? What does it mean beyond a little brown bird inside an airport?
Winning is:
  • Persistent
  • Always looking for solutions
  • Willing to take on big challenges
  • Taming the negative voices inside your head
  • Standing up for yourself
  • Standing up for what is right
  • Working within the rulebook to make the rules fit the game you want to play
  • A phenomenon that can lie inside gray areas… until your decision negatively affects someone else—then it’s a black and white situation
  • Patient but not complacent
  • Not a diva
  • Not something that makes you better than anyone else
  • Something that enables you to empower others to win
  • Willing to fail
  • Needing to learn from a failure
  • Earning trust
  • Often different than what you envisioned
  • Following through on a promise
  • Relentless
Winning above all is finding a way to lasso the word “impossible” from the heavens, bring it down to earth, tame it, and make it possible.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Benefits of Singing for Your Supper




Recently I got downgraded. Humbled. I got asked to sing for my supper. 

I was supposed to perform The Gospel According to Josh for three different groups of students grades 6-12 at a private school in ritzy suburb of Detroit... along with a sweet fee to pay my expenses and salary. I got booked by the school’s counselor.

And then the school’s teachers and administration stepped in. “We know nothing about this guy and want to make sure he does what he says he does.” So long three performances and sweet fee. Hello, one paid performance/audition for the school’s faculty and staff to potentially come back in the Spring of ’14. 

But wait... I’ve been presenting this program for three years. Hundreds of positive outcomes. Endorsements. Testimonials out the wazoo... A published book. I have to audition and take follow up meetings with groups of teachers?

Yes you do, sonny boy.

Stewing on all this for a few days it hit me. Singing for my supper isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s a great thing. There’s no way (outside of budgetary restrictions) that they won’t have me back. This product is too good...

But more importantly, it’s an opportunity for me to forge new, deep relationships.  Speaking confidently and intelligently in front of groups of people is a great thing.  It should be something we strive to do on a consistent basis. It helps build trust between two or more people and reinforces the fact that you’re honest and credible. 

When (not “if”) you do a great job performing on small stages, when you take a small opportunity and create something exceptional from that; you’re grooming yourself for bigger and better things. You also endear yourself to the people who are making the ask of you to prove yourself. 

This too shall pass. But in the interim, take stock of your current circumstances. Singing for your supper will keep you humble and hungry — two traits that will keep you on the long route to the success you seek and deserve.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Peek into the book The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah (One of my fave parts)




The snippet of the book that I’ve included below is one of my favorite parts of the book. It was the first time I got to really know my dad in depth, after his passing of course; a moment in existence where I got to have this intimate conversation with him just by reading his personal diary. It reminds me that we all have a story, and though it might not be the next New York Times Best seller, each of us has something valuable to say and to contribute to the world. Happy reading :)

--

Searching for a pair of boxer briefs beneath a smattering of unmated socks, a wall of nostalgia washed over me like an ocean wave—reminding me that the bottom drawer was full of my father’s personal effects that I took from his bedroom the day after he died. I hadn’t looked at or even thought about them since the day I brought them into my apartment. Sliding open that bottom drawer, I carefully removed a few old Life magazines with covers featuring Diana Ross, Henry Kissinger, the inventor of the Polaroid camera, and Nikita Khrushchev. I also took out a copy of one of his old driver’s licenses and an enormous, dusty American flag that the U.S. Government gave my father in honor of Haakon’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The last of what I pulled out were three old photo albums that I, until this day, had never viewed. 
Inside the first photo album were pictures of my father from the early 1970s while on vacation with some of his friends and family, a few years before he met my mother. He had an odd, thin mustache and looked much happier than I had ever seen him. While thumbing my way to the back of the album, a thin leather-bound booklet that I didn’t recognize slid out from between the pages of the plastic sleeves. It was light brown and threadbare. The pages were yellow and tattered, and the whole of it was held together by a rubber band. Inside the cover was my father’s trademark handwriting—neat little words in all capital letters. 
This was his old diary. In it were the childhood games he used to play, the names of some of his old neighborhood friends, and the girls with whom he was smitten during his Lutheran elementary school days: 

My first cigarette was great. But since I’m thirteen, I was scared to smoke when my parents got home so I threw it inside our piano. My dad smelled it and got it out in time. I didn’t even get in trouble. They just told me not to burn the house down. Neat!

As I flipped through the pages, his writing became more perfunctory and his dated entries were few and far between. Toward the back he wrote about his early twenties and talked briefly about his time at Park College in Kansas City, Missouri. 
He listed all of the jobs he had ever held (teacher, substitute teacher, amateur lawn care specialist, store clerk), but what he seemed most enthusiastic about was the law. He wanted to be a lawyer. A few pages were marked only with the words, I want more out of life,” written over and over again—reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s deranged character in The Shining
 My father almost married a long-term girlfriend, a woman who was in love with him whom he found utterly beautiful but emotionally unstable. He also doubted whether he could commit to just one woman, and subsequently broke up with his long-term girlfriend at a coffee shop to keep her from going on a “psychotic rampage.” On the last page was a list of places he had traveled to: Germany, England, and Italy; along with a short list of places he needed to visit before he died: Jerusalem, Norway, and Vancouver. 
I learned more about my father reading twenty pages of his diary than I ever had in the twenty-five years I had known him. Conversations about television shows, family members, or his opinions on biblical doctrine always came easy, but we never talked about anything deeper. Who he truly was, how he felt about women, or what he wanted out of life—those were things that only a skilled and meticulous excavator could uncover. And my father didn’t keep company with any of those scholarly diggers. 

(—The rotten apple don’t fall too far from the tree, my dude.—)
(—Oh, god, do not say that.—)

This was the first time I had ever met my father, a flawed man, but a human being with hopes and dreams. My chest pounded with sharp pangs of pity, my heart ached for this man. This diary was damning evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had given up on himself a long time ago. He never made a real effort to become a lawyer or anything else for that matter. And he never made it to Jerusalem, Norway, or Vancouver.  
What happened to the man in the diary? He grew up, took a dead-end job with the State of New Jersey, married Holly, found religion, had three kids, and killed himself. What turned him into the angry shell of a person who taunted me as a child and who now haunted me as an adult? 
I carefully put away all of my father’s personal effects then lay down on my couch. With my hands behind my head, and my eyes closed, I tried to picture what my own life would look like in thirty-five years. Due to my lack of sleep the previous night, I was fast asleep within minutes and toe-to-toe with Ghost Dad once again. 

eleven
new waters
This particular dream started out the same as all the others. But this time he wasn’t holding a wad of cash, but a leather-bound diary as if he was preparing to read aloud from its pages. He appeared to be in a foul mood, his face red and covered in sweat like a fire-and-brimstone preacher of old. Before he could say a word, I leapt from the graveyard and literally flew toward a place to which I knew, instinctively, neither of us had ever been. That phantom menace, my dead father, followed me till I touched down in what looked like a rainforest. A massive gorge with a river sprawled out at its bottom separated the luxuriant Technicolor paradise from an endless and ashen, barren field. 
Ghost Dad, dejected and desperate, stood on the other side of the gorge, unable to cross over to meet me. Overcome with sympathy for this pitiful apparition, I began searching for ways to help him cross. Just as I turned my back on my father to venture into the rainforest to find some help, a soft wind snuck up from behind and whispered in my ear. 
“You cannot help him enter until you learn the secrets of the rainforest,” said the wind, tickling the fine little hairs on my earlobe. I spun around as fast as I could in order to catch a glimpse of whomever was speaking, but the wind grew violent and knocked me to the ground, causing me to wake from my sleep. 
Ensuing days were spent ridden with apprehension, while working to decipher the meaning of that dream so different from all the others. For the sake of a good night’s sleep and my personal sanity, these appearances had to stop. I had to uncover the “secrets” of the rainforest before he returned. 

--

The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah was recently approved by The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list for survivors of a loved one’s suicide. www.gospeljosh.com 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lessons from the Road: Turning a negative into a positive


This week, I had the incredible opportunity to do my show in Northeast Nebraska—well, make that four shows in two days.

The first day was awesome. Both shows had nice sized audiences, lots of great feedback, healing happened, I got to hock a couple of my books, and I made some new friends.

The second day I was going to be a two different schools. After arriving at the college I was supposed to perform for in the morning, I found out they had forgotten to promote the show to the student body. I had driven more than an hour from my home base through the corn fields of Nebraska for no reason at all. I was disappointed not only because I wanted to do my show, but the community had several recent suicides and I was hoping I could help with the healing process.

While I was breaking down my equipment and getting ready to leave, three members of the community showed up. They were counselors for teenagers at a local youth center. It was too late in the morning to do my one-man show for them, but they stayed to hear my usual post-show discussion about hope and crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Because of this, these three counselors were able to take away with them a little bit of helpful information and tools to help the kids that they counsel. 

Yes, it felt bad to have been forgotten about by that school… but it paved the way for an intimate and meaningful conversation and dissemination of useful information to those three counselors.

Often, success doesn’t look like the flowery picture we’ve built up in our minds. Follow me on this analogy for second... let’s say I’ve found a cocoon on my front porch one morning. I imagine that the cocoon will, in ten days, turn into an elegant and picturesque butterfly. However, the day that it hatches I find that this butterfly is actually dark brown with an uneven blotch of red on each wing. 

So it’s not the butterfly I expected... but it’s still a miracle of nature that all the right conditions were met for this caterpillar to turn into a moth—right on my front porch.

My response to the creation of that moth is all about mindset... 
My response to having three people in a room instead of three hundred is all about mindset...
Turning a negative situation and turning it into something positive is all about mindset...

Learn how to tame your mind and how to unleash your mind at appropriate times... and you’ll find much success in everything you do. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Importance of Learning to Dance Like the Natives



The first rule of public speaking or public anything is to “Know thy audience.”

Selling (aka finding a solution to someone else’s problem) is a form of public speaking and one must know their audience when doing that sort of thing.

When selling (can we find a cooler word for that?) your show, your skills as an artisan, the company health insurance plan, or anything in between—you’ve got to take into account the person(s) with whom you’re speaking.

I’m going to make some obvious examples to illustrate my point:
  • You’re selling a family-themed Christmas musical to the archdiocese of Minneapolis. While meeting with the nuns who are your potential buyers, you wouldn’t lace a few “F-bombs” into your speech.
  • When selling your vegan soap line to a grocery store run by PETA activists, you wouldn’t mention the T-bone steak wrapped in bacon that you had for dinner last night.
Again, these are obvious examples. But there are more subtle examples that sway the other way. And the idea here is to learn the language of the person with whom you’re speaking. Become fluent in that language and converse with that person. Learn the dance of the natives is another way to put it. 

I’ll bring up the Christmas musical I’m working on, once again. I’m trying to sell the show to churches. My initial reason for coming onto the project to write the English script and associate produce, was not to bring to light the true meaning of Christmas. However, I know that for someone else on my producing team, the thought of showing people the true meaning of Christmas is a big deal for them.

So, when I speak to the churches I make mention of that. “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. X. and we want to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas.”

When selling to schools, I tell them “We want to educate Anglo and Latino children on the various Christmas traditions of Latin America.” Which is true. But again, not the prime reason why I came onto the project. Yet, it makes sense to sell the show this way to schools. 

There are so many smaller or tangential stories you can tell that live inside the bigger one you’re working so hard to sell. It reminds me of the word game I played as a kid.

How many additional words can you make out of the word “Challenger”?

         1) Challenge 2) hall 3) anger 4) all etc... 

Do the research. Find all the words living inside the bigger word. Find all the angles. *Taking an improv class might help here also because sometimes you have to be able to think on your feet and create a (TRUTHFUL) substory out of thin air. 

Two points to consider when finding these sub-stories.
  1. Be creative and have fun doing it.
  2. Always tell the truth.
One final point toward personal development to consider. 
  1. Learning to create truthful stories from a larger story, I think, is good for the soul and good when developing one’s coping and resiliency skills. I.e. when you hit a bump in the road, you don’t give up or turn around. You dig deep and find another way to get what you need and make your life happen.
Time to lace up those dance shoes ;) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Turn a Spark into an Explosion



So, I’m writing this one while on an airplane after spending a week in Miami putting together partnerships, group sales, and a pop music single (you read the right) for a Spanish language Christmas musical I’m associate producing, Rescatando la Navidad. PS I also wrote the English/Spanglish version of the script as well—woohoo! PPS The Gospel According to Josh is still in full swing... just switching things up a bit this week!

I learned a ton while I was down there... specifically: how to create a spark and then turn it into an explosion.

In an effort to try to sell more tickets while providing an all around experience audiences will never forget... I thought we as producers of Rescatando la Navidad “RLN” should be more giving. We should be trying to tap into the spirit of Christmas as much as possible. 

While driving to a meeting down Calle Ocho, a Cuban subdistrict of Miami, I got lost (as usual) and stopped in a parking lot to grab some Cuban coffee and ask for directions in my broken Spanish. While in the parking lot, I came across a man who had no shirt on and very few teeth and he mentioned he was homeless and wouldn’t be able to eat today unless I helped him. Something about this bothered me more than when I’m in New York City and I gave the guy a couple of bucks. But it made me pause a little longer to think: “There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of people who will be in the same predicament this Christmas—hungry and having to beg for food...” This kind of thing should not exist. People shouldn’t be going hungry. What if I could do something about it with this show? When I got back to my hotel later in the day, I started looking up Miami based food banks and organizations dedicated to ending hunger. I found Feeding South Florida. They serve four counties in the Miami area through a network of partner agencies, including daycare centers, assisted living facilities, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and emergency food pantries.  

This was how we were going to help. I got in touch with them and together we drew up a food drive that will take place on our opening performance, November 26th. We’ll be accepting canned and fresh foods and will also be donating 10% of proceeds from our November 26th performance to Feeding South Florida. 

So, on one hand, we get to help feed people this Thanksgiving and Christmas... and on the other hand we get some nice extra foot traffic and extra publicity for our show. I certainly prefer the former but the latter isn’t a bad deal either!

But then I thought... wait a minute... we could go a step further. What if we enlist a celebrity chef based in Miami to help us with the food drive by doing a Latin-American cooking demo out in front of the theater. The chef gets publicity, the food drive gets EXTRA publicity, and we get a little of that action as well. BOOM!

** Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with doing good things for the sake of doing them. Altruism is great. And a gift is truly it’s own reward. Giving without keeping score is the best way to do things.

But sometimes there are opportunities (on a variety of levels) to take a little spark like wanting to help feed some people... and turn it into an explosion by enlisting big people to help. 

My biggest takeaway from the whole thing: 
Always be as giving as possible and remember that you can get anywhere you want to go much faster faster by helping others get where they want to go too.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank You.



Sometimes you have to slow down and simply say “thank you.”
Thank you for hanging in with me and staying on this list.
Thanks for paying attention.
Thanks for saying hello when you do.
Thanks for reading my new book.

Life has been a little hectic with theater projects, and book signings and publicity etc. … but none of that happens without the people close to home—the friends, the family, the e-list, the people who have my back.

Today’s magic lesson? Besides being brought to you by the letter “A”… No matter how busy, how tired, how early or late, how big or small you’ve become—it’s always the right time to say “thank you.” It’s the universal currency, accepted everywhere, never goes stale, and is an expedient vehicle that will keep you on track to the places you want to go in life. 

One more time for good measure. Thank you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You Want to Go Viral? Be Awesome, Useful, and Science-y




Right now I’m reading Contagious about how and why ideas spread. The art of making things go viral.

I’m going to paraphrase and butcher an important passage in the book while still keeping the essence of its meaning.

For ideas to spread—to go viral—your idea, product, or service must be awe-inspiring, useful, and have something of a scientific element to it.

Of course there are anomalies to this equation. But this provides a nice framework in which to play if you’re working on anything and are looking to spread the word about what you’re doing.

Going viral means more eyeballs on your work. The need for more eyeballs is the need for marketing. Marketing is simply finding interesting ways to tell a story about the story you’re trying to tell. Confused? It’s not a perfect analogy, but think of it like Hamlet and that play within a play. Using a story to tell another story.

Back to our regularly schedule programming. So you have to tell a story about the  show, product, or service you want everyone to buy or see. The story you tell has to be useful.
  • 1) How we at Spiderman on Broadway created a safety program for flying actors  (A how-to article or video for the League of Broadway theaters and Variety.com)
  • 2) XYZ accounting firm releases a tutorial on special Excel formulas to help minimize tax exposure for middle class Americans (video or article)
Pretty cool. Definitely useful. Either of these articles have a decent chance of being shared throughout the web. They can increase their chances if they get a little science-y. (Keeping in mind the original intent and content of the articles/videos.)
  • 1) Within the article, Spiderman’s producers release a number (and brief) how-to manual PLUS they give a few super easy to understand geometric functions on how they measure angles with their new pulley system for flying actors. 
  • 2) Within the article, XYZ accounting shows a few easy-to-understand formulas that even a small child can plug in and play with—maybe even showing a small child doing someone’s basic tax schedule. 
Pretty interesting. A little science-y. 
“Wow, I never thought geometry and theater could coexist and I enjoyed it!” 
“No way! I don’t dread doing my taxes next year… even that second grader was enjoying working in Excel.”
These articles will probably have an even better chance of getting shared and going viral. But make them awe inspiring… something just a little better than you in one area of your life, and you have something that has a stupendous chance of reaching the masses. (Keeping in mind the original intent and content of the articles/videos.)
  • 1) How Mayor Bloomberg flew during a rehearsal using Spiderman on Broadway’s new pulley system… and how he lived to tell the tale. You show a brief video of Bloomberg flying around and safely landing. You have attached to that the brief instructional piece about angles and the new pulley system.
  • 2) How XYZ accounting firm’s Excel tutorial saved one million Americans a total of one billion dollars (an average of a thousand dollars a person) on their taxes.
Be useful, be a little science-y, and be awe-inspiring. Figure out how to tell the story behind the one that’s so readily available at the surface (your sales pitch, your show’s synopsis etc.). There are so many ways to tell that deeper story: videos, Vine videos, customer service, donkey rides, music, your backstory. Once you learn that skill, it’s easily (yet still a challenge) transferrable to another project, product, or service. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Secret Ingredient for More Press, More Sales, and More of What You Want



The secret to getting more of what you want lies in two questions that you must ask yourself.
  1. “How does what I’m asking for benefit the other person?”
  2. “How can I help the other person achieve what they want with what I want?”
It’s that simple. Ask those questions before making your ask. Then follow through with figuring out how to help the other person with your ask. If you can’t make the connection to how your ask can help the other person, then don’t make the ask.

I.e. You’re working on a new show—TV, film, fashion, whatever. You need big press to cover the event. Part of the profit proceeds of your show is going to cancer research. You reach out to the health & wellness editor at the NY Times. Because of your thorough research on Twitter, Wikipedia, and some Facebook stalking ( ;) ) you know that the editor runs in a cancer marathon every year and has a soft spot for funding cancer research. You mention that when you ask her to do a write up about your show in the weekend health & wellness section of the Times. 

This procedure works in the selling of insurance, sponsorships, shares in a new venture, and networking. 

Be as specific with your ask and with the kind of help you’ll be providing the other person. Be generous. Give a little more than you anticipate getting and don’t keep score. Be succinct with your ask too. Long winded explanations are hard to hear and the old adage “Ain’t nobody got time for that” comes into play. 

Get more of what you want by being thoughtful and giving. Pass on that secret ingredient to everyone you meet. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In the Midst of Chaos There is also Opportunity






"In the Midst of Chaos There is also Opportunity."


- Sun Tzu

When things aren’t going your way, when the enemy is swarming you, when all you’re hearing is “no,” when the order of things seems more chaotic than settled—these are places where opportunity lies.

Rarely do we accomplish personal greatness when we are comfortable. But when the stakes are raised, when the going gets tough, we—the tough—get going.

That doesn’t mean you need to install a painful set of circumstances to achieve success.

However, we can use the energy of those inevitable chaotic moments against itself and toward our favor—much like a great aikido master would use an assailant’s energy against himself. 

Spending time getting upset is time wasted toward finding a solution.

Why is the enemy attacking? What is their strength? What is their weakness? What is a good part of the enemy I can emulate?

Why is everyone saying “no?” Is it in the way that I ask? Is my ask beneficial to the other person? Do I even know what I’m talking about? What can I learn for today and in the future from this experience?

There are no right answers here. Only big thoughts, experiments, and expanded horizons. 

Chaos isn’t a time to curse the sky or wonder what we did to god to make our lives this way. Chaos is a time to kick it into high gear and use our mental training and conditioning to help us out of chaos and toward what we want.