#595 Communications Seminar Part I

Posted by frank April - 21 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Communication is the most important aspect of all we do.  Communication trumps hard work.  You’ve got to work hard but unless you can put your ideas across in a way they can be understood you’re just another worker bee.  Communication beats IQ; the picture of the genius working alone in his lab, his ideas undiscovered, is practically iconic.  It beats persistence.  You can pursue something to the ends of the earth and your persistence may just payoff but if you could clearly articulate what you want and why; you wouldn’t have to chase it so long.

So for the next couple of weeks I am going to present a short seminar in communications.  To get started, I need to get you to buy in to a concept.  It is a phrase I learned that, for me, is immutable law.

“The result of your communication is its meaning.”

This disallows phrases like “He misunderstood me.” Or “That was not my intention.”  The meaning is what the other person took away from your communication, not necessarily what you put forth.

This puts the responsibility of the message squarely on the giver of that message which makes complete sense.  If I have a point to make, who does that point matter to the most?  Me of course; I’m the one looking to make the point.  If you misunderstand my point who loses?  Me, again, I’m the one looking to make the point.  I can say you misunderstood, or you’re a bad listener or you twisted my words around or you added meaning I didn’t intend but in the end, I failed to get my point across which is what I started out to do so in the world of “The result of your communication is its meaning.” I need to go back and try to make my point a different way and if that doesn’t work I listen to your response and try to craft my point in yet another way believing the entire time that the responsibility is with me and my ability to communicate, not you or your ability to understand.


2014 Motto: Mindful of every moment and grateful for every day


Posted by frank April - 14 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I just reread Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and I have to say, it is beyond brilliant.  If you think you know Frankenstein from what we’ve seen in the movies, think again.  You aren’t even close.  This book is easily in the top five novels of all time…But I digress.  My thought this week comes from a particular line in the book.
“And thus do we excuse our failures in life by admitting them.”
When I read this I was struck by how simple yet insightful this line is.  How many times do we excuse bad behavior by admitting it?  You know me; I am a nervous person.”  I cant help it; I just cant control my temper.”  “Sorry, I’m not good at remembering things.”   
I could go one but I think you get the point.  The most detrimental excuses are the ones we allow for ourselves, because we tend to believe them.   We know ourselves more intimately than anyone else, so who better to sell us on excuses for our bad behavior than us?  This is not to say that we should be totally unforgiving of ourselves but rather to be cognizant of the rationalizations we use to let ourselves off the hook.
Behavior is a choice.  We choose to have a bad temper or to be nervous,  We think it’s hardwired but, for the most part, we choose.  It is often said that we cannot choose what happens to us in life, only how we react to it.
So go about your week armed with the knowledge that you have a choice and a great way to begin to choose is to add the words “yet” or “right now”.  “I just can’t control my temper…YET”  “I am a nervous person…RIGHT NOW.”   These qualifiers imply that it is not a permanent condition but, rather, one you can overcome.

2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

My good friend Jordan sent this to me a couple of weeks ago thinking I might be able to use it for my weekly thought.  He was correct!

Ten suggestions for getting along better with people:

  1. Guard your tongue – say less than you think
  2. Make promises sparingly – keep them faithfully
  3. Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind word
  4. Be interested in others, their pursuits, work, families.
  5. Be cheerful, don’t dwell on minor aches and small disappointments.
  6. Keep an open mind, discuss but don’t argue.  Disagree without being disagreeable.
  7. Discourage gossip – it’s destructive.
  8. Be careful of others’ feelings.
  9. Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you.  Live so that nobody will believe them.
  10. Don’t be anxious about getting credit – just do your best and be patient

2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”



A Message From My Mother #592

Posted by frank March - 31 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Comparing insides and outsides


Too often I have seen people feel badly about themselves by virtue of comparison with others.  The unfortunate part is that the comparison isn’t even possible.  You see, you know your insides; the real you but you can only compare that with someone else’s outsides; that which they choose to reveal.


There are so many cases of “You don’t know what you don’t know,”  that I could fill this column with them for the next several months.


Rather than bore you like that I will allow my Mom to work this out for us.  When I was a kid I came home and asked my mom (with jealousy) why my friend Keith was so much better off than I was.  He had nicer clothes, he lived in a nicer house and his dad drove a new Cadillac!  My mom tried to explain “insides vs. outsides.”  She told me that we don’t know anything about others except what we are shown and they could have a whole host of problems we don’t see.  I wasn’t buying it.  He drove a Caddy and we had a ten year old Chevy.

When she realized she wasn’t getting her point across as well as she’d hoped she read me this poem.  I have treasured it and shared it with others for 45 years.


RICHARD CORY By Edward Arlington Robinson





















2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Are YOU in Sales? #591

Posted by frank March - 23 - 2014 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

I was with my daughter Christine last week when her phone rang.  She had it on speaker.  The call went like this, pretty much verbatim:

“Hello this is Matt from XYZ bank.  I just wanted to thank you for being a customer of XYZ bank.  Would you like to hear about some of our other services?”  Christine:  “No thank you.”

Matt:  “OK thank you again for being a customer of XYZ bank.”

I wanted to scream!  In fact, I think I did.  If you are a taxi driver shouldn’t you know your way around town?  If you are an accountant, shouldn’t you know the difference between a W2 and a W4?  If you’re a chef, wouldn’t you learn which knives are best for boning or chopping?  So is it to much to expect a salesperson to know SOMETHING about selling?

“Would you like to hear about some of our other services?!!!!”  That was his sales question.  Seriously?  What percentage of people say “Oh yes Matt.  Please tell me about other banking services during this inconvenient cold call.”?

I’ve been a professional salesperson, sales manager, and sales trainer for over thirty years and things like this frustrate the hell out of me.

What ever you do; do it well.  Read the books, watch the videos, go to the seminars, and listen to the CD’s.  Information is everywhere!  I often ask salespeople “Are you in sales or are you INTO sales?”  The difference is enormous and I know this can be said of any profession.  There is no excuse to be that bad at what you do.

Remember what the great reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,

If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

I’m embarrassed for Matt and his bank.

2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Guarding Myself Against Myself #590

Posted by frank March - 16 - 2014 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

Guarding myself against myself

There are things I do well and things I don’t do too well. To deal with the latter I have set up systems to protect myself against myself.
Let me give you an example. I have about a dozen chickens who give Deb and me fresh eggs. I have them in a fenced in pen to protect them from foxes, hawks and raccoons. When I built the pen I installed a hook and eye latch on the inside. When I do go into the pen I created the habit of putting that hook into that eye as soon as I enter. Why not just pull the gate closed behind me you ask? Because I’ll forget. Or I will be in the pen and bump it open without realizing or the wind will blow it open while I’m occupied with the feed or water or whatever and the chickens will run out and I’ll spend hours rounding them up or even lose a couple to be devoured that night by the aforementioned predators.

Other people could pull the gate closed and maintain their awareness so that none of those things I mentioned would happen to them. Not me. I walk in and begin my work and forget all else. It used to bother me. I hated doing things like making coffee for my ride in the morning and leaving it on the counter. I beat myself up about it and swore I would concentrate and be better. I’m 55 and still the same. The difference is I now have systems to protect myself against myself.

The coffee is with my keys in the path to the door making it harder for me to miss it and even if I do walk out the door I’m not going anywhere without the keys and they are on the coffee cup so I’ve insured that the coffee will make the trip.

You have to know yourself; you have to know the good and the bad of you. You have to know your triggers. Once you examine this you can set your own safeguards to protect yourself from yourself.

Let’s say you rationalize missing your exercise. I have a friend who has his elliptical machine next to his bed. He literally rolls out of bed and on to the machine. He knows that if he has breakfast first or anything else he will somehow talk himself out of the elliptical workout for that day. By having it right next to his bed he protects himself from himself.

Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet: “This above all; to thine own self be true”

2014 Motto…”Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Posted by frank March - 9 - 2014 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

I was listening to the CD that comes with my Success Magazine and Darren Hardy was interviewing Jennifer Gilbert.  Jennifer is the creator and president of Save The Date, an event planning company, and the author of the best selling book, I Never Promised you a Goodie Bag. A memoir of life through events, the ones you plan and the ones you don’t.


Soon after moving to New York City at the age of 22, Gilbert was brutally attacked by a stranger. In the book, she describes the trauma of being stabbed 37 times with a screwdriver and chronicles the long and painful process of physical and emotional recovery. Following the attack, she threw herself into her career. “I worked all day and went out every night, and then I was back at my desk at 8:30 am the next morning with my cup of coffee…I was a maniac,” she writes. “On some level I must have known that the more I kept moving, the less I had to think.”


In the interview I listened to, when Darren asked her what is the most profound thing she learned, I loved her answer so I transposed it here for you to read:


“Every day you have a choice to be better.  You have a choice to be happier, to love more, to laugh more, to be a better person, to be a better businesswoman, to be a better businessman.  If you are stuck in your own way and you kind of know you’re there, you can decide like, OK enough!  I’m sick of being angry, or I’m sick of being upset, or I have to get over the fact that I made a bad decision, and move on!  Everyday is a new day.  Think, like, about people who are on a diet and they had a really bad day; they ate too much ice cream.  OK, tomorrow’s a new day.  Take a deep breath and don’t eat it tomorrow.  I think people live in this permanence and they don’t have to.  They can really decide in their mind, which they have control of, to turn things around.  That is so powerful.  It is the easiest and the hardest paradigm shift to get to.  Once you realize that you really do have control over how you behave, then you can do whatever you want because it comes from you and I guess that’s sounding all existential, but it’s really powerful.”


Again, this sentence floored me, Once you realize that you really do have control over how you behave, then you can do whatever you want because it comes from you.

This is about stimulus and response.  The woman was stabbed 37times!  She could have folded.  In fact most people would have expected her to.  The key here is IT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU IN LIFE THAT MATTERS.  IT IS HOW YOU RESPOND.


This doesn’t just mean for traumatic events.  We’re talking everyday, 500 times a day, stimulus and response.  YOU control it.  YOU choose.


2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Pride Goes Before a Fall #588

Posted by frank February - 24 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

In the King James Bible, in proverbs, there is a verse that says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  The accepted expression these days is shortened to “Pride goes before a fall.”
You will see this evidenced in reality show editing all the time.  There is some sort of a contest going on and in a side clip, whomever you see saying, “I killed it out there.  They loved me.  I have this in the bag” is the one who is going home next.
I learned this lesson very early on.  I was negotiating the rent on our first apartment with a sweet, elderly, man who was to be our landlord.  I was with my brother in law and my wife when I made the call.  I wanted the landlord to pay for new carpeting and, during the call, he agreed to. pay.
When I hung up I turned to my wife and brother in law and, with hubris, said, “That was really kind of unfair.  I almost feel bad.  Here I am a professional salesperson and he is just an old man.  He really had no chance in that negotiation.”  I was 25 years old and very full of myself.
Well, that “old man” called back five minutes later and said no.  He’d changed his mind and would not be paying for any carpet.  I tried to get him to at least go for half.  He said no; he would pay for nothing.
I felt like an idiot in front of my family having bragged about how good I was and how easy this was only to end up with egg on my face, but that’s what happens, hence, the proverb.
It was a good lesson to learn so early on.

2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day

Do your outsides match your insides? #587

Posted by frank February - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT


“The problem is his outsides don’t match his insides.”  Many years ago a friend of mine said that about someone we knew in common.  If I remember correctly, it was an expression he’d learned in AA.

Regardless of where he learned it, the expression stuck with me.

I think that this would be the penultimate achievement in personal development; to be completely congruent.  It has been a focus of mine ever since.

I relate it to things I have read about,  like monks who meditate for over 50 years to get to a place of enlightenment.  I think being completely congruent is like that.  It’s the end game.

You see it or, rather, sense it in people.  Do you trust or mistrust that person instantly?  That’s about insides matching outsides.  Think about the Hollywood stereotype of a smarmy salesman.  He has that practiced smile and says charming things but the insides are screaming at you that he is untrustworthy and looking to rip you off!

How about the gigolo who charms the poor widow out of her fortune?  Everyone around her sees the incongruence but her.

On the other side of that equation is Mother Teresa; completely congruent.  There is no doubt that she thought and felt and lived in exactly the same way.

This is where I want to go.  (Not to be Mother Teresa, that’s not in the cards for me) but to be completely congruent in thought, feeling, and deed and make my outsides match my insides regardless whatever stimulus (read that STRESS) life sends my way.

2014 Motto: “Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Men Behaving Badly #586

Posted by frank February - 10 - 2014 - Monday 2 COMMENTS

On the day of the ice storm we had here in the northeast last week, I went to get a train in to Manhattan and was very disappointed with what I encountered when I got there.  It wasn’t the crowds or the delays, I expected that.  It was the behavior of a couple of individuals.

They were actually yelling at the woman who sells the train tickets.

“This is bull****!  The train was supposed to be here 30 minutes ago!  You people don’t know what the hell you’re doing.  I should get a refund.”

And on and on it went.

I was not happy to get to the station 15 minutes before my train was to arrive but end up waiting an hour in a very crowded vestibule but I don’t think the lady selling the tickets had anything to do with that. 


To be fair, there were probably 150 people like me reading or checking emails or playing a game on their phones, understanding that ice storms and electric trains don’t mix. 

We make response choices in moments like these all day long and those responses define us, effect the balance of our day, and effect those around us.  It’s worth it to pause a moment to think about the effect of your response before spewing it.

2014 Motto: Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day

Men Be