#640 Your Joke Rolodex

Posted by frank March - 23 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Do you know the best way to get someone to tell you a joke?  Tell them a joke.  While you are telling your joke, the other person is going through the joke rolodex in their mind to come up with a joke to tell you when you’re done.  i learned this from Dr. Rob Gilbert.  It is human nature and works almost all the time but there is a danger in this.

I noticed that it isn’t just limited to jokes and therein lies the danger.  Last week i’d had a terrible morning; my pet chickens were killed by foxes who managed to break in to the coop overnight.  When i discovered the carnage in the morning i was really upset.  I couldn’t shake off the sadness all day.  I must have been wearing it on my face because one of my coworkers commented that I wasn’t myself.  I said, “I guess it shows.  I had a really rough morning.”  But before i could go on to say why my morning was rough she said, “Oh my God, me too.” and then went on to tell me about a flood she had in her basement, the late and crowded train she had to ride, and the big splash that hit her when a truck passed too close to the curb on her way to the office, soaking her outfit.  By the time she was done, my opening statement (and my feelings) were forgotten and it felt silly to bring it back up so i just commiserated with her about her rough morning and went about my business.

I noticed later in the week that i did the same thing to my wife.  When she said “I had a rough night sleeping” I jumped in about how I’d slept before before i listened to her story about what kept her up and how she felt etc.

The joke rolodex is a very real part of human nature and, in joke telling, is probably harmless.  Relating and matching during a conversation is a good thing but not at the cost of good listening.  I have begun to notice more about how i listen.  Am i listening with the intent to reply or am i listening to understand? These little episodes from last week have me resolved to make a conscious effort to practice the latter.

2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

#639 It’s Easy to be an Ass

Posted by frank March - 16 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

There is nothing easier than being an ass.  When things don’t go your way yelling and screaming about it is pretty easy.   Giving in to frustration doesn’t take smarts.  But shouldn’t we be more thoughtful than that?  After all, you don’t still hit your brother do you?  When you were two, and your brother took your toy truck, this was an expected behavior that (hopefully) your mom nipped in the bud.

But that emotion is still in us.  For some it resides closer to the surface than it does for others.

Being an ass is easy.  It takes no thought or discipline.  You just let fly with whatever is bubbling to the surface and then, after the fact, say things like, “You make me crazy.” Or “I can’t help it I have a bad temper”

The truth is, you can help it.  You’re a grown up.  You don’t still hit your brother.


A moment’s hesitation before spewing venom will drastically alter the outcome of any charged situation.  A quick thought as to the effect of your words BEFORE you say them will serve you well and put you in a place of esteem among the people in your life while throwing tantrums or belittling people will get you talked about behind your back and a reputation as one to be avoided.  It really is a choice.  You really can help it.


2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”


#638 Tino and Wes

Posted by frank March - 9 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Nothing sells like service.  I get my morning coffee in a bakeshop about a block and a half from my office.  It isn’t on my way.  I actually have to pass my office to go there.  If you know Manhattan you know I have a half-dozen coffee choices on just that one block between them and me but I pass the Starbucks, Gregory’s and Mom and Pop shops to see Tino and Wes.

I’d found the place quite by accident.  My gym is down that way and after a morning workout I wandered by the bakery in search of some protein and fruit.   Tino was in the front.  He was a fortyish-looking, chubby, affable guy (I can’t imagine it is easy to avoid chubby working in a bakery) and when I came in he was yucking it up with a group of customers who were waiting for their orders.  When I stepped up to order he asked my name, and even though I’d said, “Frank” he yelled back, “Hey Wes, a large latte for my new friend Frankie, and make it nice and hot.  It’s cold out there.”  That got me smiling because only my family and close friends call me Frankie.

When Wes came up to deliver the coffee he was all smiles.  Tall and lanky with long dreds tucked up in his hat, he looked at the 3 or so people waiting, and said “Nice hot latte for Frankie”, and when he caught my eye, he said, “Here you go man.  I made it special since it’s your first time here.  Take a punch card.  Your 10th drink is free!”  Then Tino handed me the card with the hole punched out for drink 1 and he and Wes waved and said, “Have a great day” and “See you tomorrow!”

And they did see me tomorrow and a lot of tomorrows after that because “Hey Wes, a large latte for my new friend Frankie, and make it nice and hot.  It’s cold out there.”  beats the pants off of “Next!  What can I get you?” and the slow smile-less, shuffle that ensues, and passes for customer service, in most of the more convenient places I pass on the way to see Tino and Wes.

2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

#637 Did YOU Just Walk In The Room?

Posted by frank March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

#637 The energy you bring

Are you the life of the party or do you suck the life out of the party?  Are people happy to see you or happy to see you leave?

In a widely accepted communications study done at UCLA, Professor Meherabin famously determined that 57% of our message is received visually.

Don’t think for a moment that you can be pissed off about being somewhere and then enter the room without pushing that negative energy out in front of you.  YOUR ENERGY ALWAYS ARRIVES THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU DO.

That’s what I want to review today; our energy, because, we aren’t very aware of how obviously we portray ourselves and the way people are constantly calibrating us.  What I learned from Meherabin is that, we deliver our message long before we deliver our message. 

Picture a Mom with her arms crossed and brow furrowed looking at the front door as she waits for her late to dinner child.  Does she need to say “You’re late”?

How about the person who comes into a party with their arms open, eyes wide, and a big smile.  Do they need to say “I am happy to be here!”?

What about the guy who comes home from work with his head down as he walks through the door and grunts a barely audible hello to his family?  Does he need to say it’s been a rough day he’s in a lousy mood?

And what do all of these people have in common?  Without saying a word they have affected the energy in the room for better or for worse.

I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to express our feelings.  I am saying that we ought to be cognizant of the energy we push in to the room in front of us knowing, absolutely, that we change the environment and the feelings of others as we do.


2015 Motto: “Life is choices.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

Dove’ Sono? #635

Posted by frank February - 17 - 2015 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

First of all I’d like to welcome all of the new people I met from Maser Consulting, which, by the way, is listed among the best places to work in NJ!


Things change.  Things change rapidly.  Tempus Fugit.  Time seems to fly by, hardly touching down to stay for a moment, and we miss it.  We miss too many moments.


My motto last year was about mindfulness.  I want to be where I am.  I want to be immersed in the moments.  Those of you who meditate do this better than most of the rest of us but I think it is an area we can all improve on.


I focus on this when I am with my family most of all.  Those are the memories I want to build one moment at a time.  I try to avoid all of the distractions vying for my attention when my attention should be on them.  I do it at work too.  I deliberately close my computer when someone comes in to my office so the ping of the email doesn’t distract me.  I turn my chair to the window when I take a phone call so I am not tempted to keep working while I talk.  Our world turns faster today than it did years ago.  It’s too easy to miss the moments.


Things change.  Things change rapidly.  This hit me like a ton of bricks he other day I passed a “Lite FM, 106.7” billboard.  The picture of the artist on the light music billboard was Jon Bon Jovi.


I hope he paid attention and enjoyed the ride.


2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

#634 Image

Posted by frank February - 9 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I have an acquaintance named Phil.  Phil is an excellent man.  He may be where the saying “would give you the shirt off his back” originated.

Phil is very humble and extremely helpful.  I noticed though, something about Phil that made me sad.  Phil doesn’t think as much of himself as I think of him.  If you compliment Phil he beats it away, as if the compliment could be harmful to him; toxic. I know a lot of people do the “Aw shucks, it was nothing” and I get that.  Receiving praise can be a tricky thing but Phil makes me think that he thinks, praise is terribly misapplied when it is applied to him.   When he leaves me messages he says, “Hi Frank, it’s just Phil.”  He literally says, “It’s just Phil.”  Just Phil…
It breaks my heart.  He is a great guy but thinks of himself as “Just Phil”

Self-image is a huge thing.  Unless your view of yourself changes your outcomes likely won’t.

Last summer, my neighbor introduced me to a guy who was doing some work for her.  He extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m big Ed.”  Ed was about 5’ 10” maybe 6 feet tall and tipped the scales at about 280.  He wasn’t big as in Michael Strahan muscular big; Ed was obese.  What are the chances that a fat guy who introduces himself as Big Ed” will ever get to a healthy weight?

2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

More about the horse #633

Posted by frank February - 2 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Leading the proverbial horse to water isn’t as easy as it may sound.  Again, most people think about the end of that saying, “But you can’t make him drink.”  However, for me the power is in the first part, the leading of the horse.

I can’t tell you how many managers I have had over the years who have asked for more power or a bigger title because “If the employees absolutely know I am in charge, they will listen to me.” 

Leading the horse, employee, dog, child, volunteer or what have you has zero to do with title.  In fact, the best leaders I know rarely order and often ask.  They lead with kindness without being perceived as too easy and when their kindness is mistaken for weakness they don’t feel taken advantage of, instead they kindly but firmly, address the issue and lead on.  It takes a lot more time and a ton of patience to lead this way but, other than in combat zones and organized crime syndicates, HAVING people do what you need works better than MAKING people do what you need AND it last longer AND they’re more likely to do it even when you aren’t looking.


2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”



You’re Killing Me! #632

Posted by frank January - 26 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

I recently met with a woman who was newly hired as a fundraiser for a small non-profit.  She has been on job for just under a year and is frustrated with the lack of success she’s had thus far.
I listened to the various things she has tried and to what degree they’d worked.  I asked a lot of questions about her process and her day to day schedule.  Her answers came out as excuses as to why she couldn’t make faster progress.  She told me about the many directions the organization drags her in and how many hats she has to wear during the day. In other words she was already shutting down any notion I might have as to how trying something new or scheduling herself in a different way might help her even before I’d suggested anything!
I tried to offer a few suggestions of things that have worked for a friend of mine who is in the same position as she at a very similar organization.  She told me why each would not work in a place like hers.  I offered a couple of new directions that had worked for us at The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation but none of those would work with her board, her boss, her budget, her community etc.  I even offered to set up a meeting between her and my fundraising friend who has been at it for 40 years but she thought that she’d be wasting his time because her place was not in a position to do the things he might suggest.
When I left there, my stomach was in knots.  I’m not good at fielding complaints without resolution.  It frustrates the hell out of me.  It isn’t that I need to have an answer to every issue, but I need to feel like the person is at least seeking an answer.  What I saw there was someone who will wallow in their own mess, make no progress at all, blame the organization and eventually get fired and blame that on her organization.
I complain.  I absolutely do.  We all do from time to time.  Sometimes complaining is just venting and people don’t want answers; I get that.  But in a business setting complaining about not achieving your objectives without being open to anything new is stupid and a guaranteed path to failure.

2015 Motto:  “Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

#631 Can Do/Will Do

Posted by frank January - 12 - 2015 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

When I am interviewing salespeople I evaluate them on two things; CAN they do the required activities to be successful and WILL they do the required activities to be successful.  The first one is relatively easy.  Most often, I can ask questions and listen and determine if they “Can do.”  There is a certain personality that brings competitive instinct, a desire to be noticed and a drive for money and things that is evidenced in most salespeople.  The tougher part is the “Will do.”

I believed that every single sales hire I ever made had the “Will do” or I wouldn’t have hired them yet a huge percentage of salespeople hired wash out in less than a year.

It’s the same with most activities.  I just read a statistic on Jim Vaughn’s “The IQ Morning Report, (Go to www.theiqmorningreport.com and subscribe!)

That said that over 80% of habits we intend to form don’t stick.

-CAN you go to the gym 4 days a week?  Yes, but, WILL you go to the gym 4 days a week?

-CAN you read 20 books this year?  Yes, but WILL you read 20 books this year?

So what is the gap between Can do and will do; between intention and action?  I could write 1,000 pages about that but for today I’m going to go with the elephant eating theory, one bite at a time.  If I say I am going to walk for 30 minutes every day I probably won’t do it.  There are idle treadmills with clothes hung on them in 5 out of ten houses in America proving that theory.

So, applying the elephant theory, and some AA , one day at a time, wisdom, can you walk tomorrow only?  Of course you can.  Dr. Rob says to use the 15-minute rule.  Just commit to something for 15 minutes.  At play here is the idea that action leads feeling rather than allowing feelings to determine action.  If you begin for 15 minutes you will likely feel like continuing but if you wait until you feel like it, you will likely be hanging your gym clothes on your treadmill.


2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be”

#632 Lead

Posted by frank January - 11 - 2015 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

Old tried and true sayings are called tried and true because they’ve been tried and they are true! DUH.

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”  Most people hear this and pay attention to the last part, about making him drink.  But for the moment let’s focus on the first part; leading a horse to water.  Imagine trying to drag a reluctant, two thousand pound horse to water.  Imagine yelling at him, kicking him and dragging him.  How’s that working out for you?  Wouldn’t it be better to, as the expression says, LEAD that horse to water?  You can lead him by training him to walk beside you, encouraging him and talking about how good the water will be when he gets there.  Or you can show him the way to the water, or even hold a carrot out in front of him.  Getting him to drink when he gets where you are leading him is also a lot easier if you didn’t flog, push and berate him on the way.



2015Motto…“Life is choice.  Your very next moment can be different if you choose it to be