Steady State

Go west, young man:

One of the big reasons for moving back to the state of Arizona, besides being wiped out financially, was the weather. The “Ground Hog Day” repetition works for me because there is never an excuse not to get outside and get some form of aerobic exercise. I’ve barely missed a day in six months. It shows.

The other day I had to put a shirt and tie on and when I checked myself in the mirror I noticed I had an extra inch around the collar. I kept thinking “geek” on my way out the door. I’ll just have to downsize.  🙂

Live and lean.

Regardless of what state you live in, as we age, the need to stay lean is critical. The myriad of disease states that have a direct correlation to not “moving it around” are legion.

If you can find a spot to rest after a long career, where you can remain lean and active, go for it. Your declining years don’t have to be reclining.

There are plenty of excuses to skip the roadwork without the weatherman chiming in. The state of the state is good.

 

Cleaning Closets (Again)

I woke up Monday morning feeling pretty damn good about myself. I was getting the hang of my very technically complicated, high pressure job. Finally. I have always believed the steeper the learning curve, the more enjoyable the work will be down the road. This was proving to be true. I worked all weekend nailing that theory down.

Monday is also online One on One time. My manager, a breath of hot air if ever there was one, must have caught himself in his zipper that morning, because he was twitching and argumentative, taking cell calls from a family member and hyperventilating.

He told me the plan going forward was to “dig in”. No more ‘Mr. Nice Guy” with clients. My numbers were great but we need to kick it up a notch going forward. He was describing overcoming objections with a billy club. He was telling me how to shame clients to our will. I will have no of that, thank you.

While he’s rambling and arguing with his father, I start pulling my papers together and throwing them in the trash bucket behind me. All of which he can see on his computer screen. I was so done. I can tell you, that was the last thing I expected that day. But once my switch gets flipped, it’s over.

It’s true, you don’t quit companies, you quit managers.

Within 30 minutes, I printed off three offer letters while I furiously cleaned my closets. Cleaning closets is a ritual I developed over the years as life would twist its way around me. A cathartic exercise that usually precedes a massive life change. This episode did not disappoint. I am on to another great adventure. Yipee!

Now it’s Thursday morning and I’m sitting in my big beautiful kitchen with my hands folded, watching my sun dappled dog as she eats to her hearts content knowing Daddy will be able to provide. Always.

So here I sit, dazed, delighted, and so full of gratitude, I have to unbutton my shirt.

 

Sunday morning coming down..

….my heart rate is anyway, as I’m turning the corner down my street after an hour of H.I.I.T. Whew! …felt this one.

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.

This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

If I’m going to lace up and head out in the middle of the night, I want the payoff, not diminishing returns, once my body acclimates to the routine.

In the whole hour, after running, jumping and jogging, my Fitbit was never able to fully calculate my heart rate. Glad I’m not the only one confused.

I can always find other ways to torture myself, but this fits one the Arizona weather. Besides, whattaya think i’m doing this for, my health?

A Stand-Up Guy

I have paid dearly for my sense of humor. I have also been paid dearly for my sense of humor. I used to hate the arm around my shoulder from my overly concerned manager because I was disrupting yet another business meeting with my Irish Tourette’s. His problem was, everyone was loving it, and we can’t have that. Can we?

I’m back in the sales game again and I am smokin’. What worked me for then, works for me now. In spades. Humor. Honed from years of stand up and making a goddam fool of myself. Anything for the laugh.

Being funny is key in human interaction. If you want to be good at it, you have to watch your prey. You gotta listen. You gotta have timing and a great big hunk of emotional intelligence. Without that, you’re sunk.

If you can make ’em laugh, you got ’em. I’m not dealing with professionals anymore, like docs, phD’s or scientists who know what they want for the most part, I’m dealing with the uninformed public.

I have to open them up and get past objections, excuses, fear and distrust. My juices are flowing again. Wait’ll they get a load of me.

I used to think I did well back in the day because I wasn’t bad looking. At least that what those female techs told me over breakfast.

Ba Da Bum!

Composing Yourself

Most folks, given a choice, would like to change their body composition. It’s not an altogether neurotic goal. Slimmer in the waist, wider in the shoulders, a couple of toned calves, or at least some that don’t jiggle. Body sculpting can be done if you’re willing to make small mortgage payments. Not wise.

You can aerobicize until the cows come home, but you most likely end up what I call, “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is not attractive. Basically shrinking down but keeping the same shape you were unhappy with in the first place. Been there.

Every time I’ve slimmed down, I get what my mother would call, gaunt. I would lose whatever meat I had on my shoulders and chest, my legs would disappear and I would invariably keep my little pot belly. Same thing, just smaller.

Resistance training changes all that. Proper diet changes all that. What I mean by proper diet, is smaller meals spaced out through the day and not cramming our face until we tip over. ‘Nuf said.

Adding muscle jacks up your metabolism so you can burn calories at rest. Sleep even. It will give you those lumps and bumps in the right places. It will correct bad posture and make your clothes fit the way they were designed, with you in mind.

We are made to work, to move and to struggle. Today’s technology is putting an end to all that, so it’s up to you to compose yourself.

 

Die, you bastard…

I’ve spent most of my adult life knocking the balls off of my old man. He was violent, quick tempered and I thought, unreasonable. I received my first, (of many) punches in the face from him. He could be deceptively charming, articulate and erudite. He was responsible to a fault.

No matter what condition he would get himself into the night before, which wasn’t often, he always showed up for work the next morning.

He worked in the heat treat department at Carr Fastener Inc., one of the more unfavorable positions at that plant. When he was really suffering, he would mutter, “Die, you bastard” to show he was accountable. To himself.

When our family unit was busting at the seams, 12 people in a small apartment, I often wondered why he stayed. I used to look at him, then the back door, and wonder why he wasn’t making use of it. It was misery. His unhappiness could permeate the walls.

We tried to stay outside for a couple hours after he came home and went to bed. Because once he looked at you, he would remember things. We wanted no parts of that. None.

Because of those traumatic years, it’s easy to forget the goodness in him. Believe me, he could care less what you thought. He kept his own counsel.

Even though I never had a family, his logic and sense of responsibility is still with me. (He might disagree.) No matter how tough things got, he stayed, went to work and contributed to the household. He even died early to make it easier on us.

He was “Steady Eddy.” All the time. He brought continuity. He instilled values and a sense of responsibility. The latter being the most important to me. Because, even to this day, I have never once accused anyone else of shitting in my pants. 🙂

Thanks, Pop.

Thin Ayer

Ayer is a dismal town. And I was in a dismal apartment in that dismal town, under dismal circumstances. Compared to Groton, the town next door, it was an alternative universe. Bizarro. Gritty was what I would call it. I was there to do penance and lick my wounds after an epic fail. A fail administered by my own hand. I have a habit of knocking down my own sand castles when it suits me.

In my thirty-odd years at “The Company” I was hard to manage. I kept having epiphanies. I kept trying to sweeten the pot to whoever would listen. Sometimes, they listened. I was afforded a lot of opportunities. I had a lot of jobs. Some, I created. But it seems it was never enough. I kept trying to make it up as I went along. I was in plays, musical endeavors, even put out a safety record. But still, my Jones kept coming down on me. Everything, all the time.

I resigned three times. The last time, for good. First time, I damn near doubled my salary. The second time, I tripled it. At least! Didn’t sit well with the V.P. of Sales at the time. Captain Queeg if there ever was one. He could make goldfish turn on each other. I was making more than him as a video consultant, so you can imagine.

Still, I was never quite satisfied. When I was told my name kept coming up in the Executive Board Room, over how much money I was making, I doubled down and threatened to quit. Loudly. I could feign outrage with the best. You could hear me all over the executive offices. Ha! Bite me! It worked. The finance guy got a kick out of me. Then he paid me.

The last time I quit there was nothing to spoil over. They went from streaming live video around the world, to using a flip chart. Mr. Rogers had to keep turning the chart so everyone in the cafeteria could see it. Tick…tick! I kept my car running in the parking lot. When I went out that gate the last time, I didn’t even turn around.

So now I’m walking down Main Street in Ayer with my little dog. Cold and broke. I walk by a hair salon and look in the window and who do I see in a waiting chair, but I guy I used to pick up the phone with back in the day. He’s still there. Now, it’s beginning to snow. It’s starting to trickle down my neck but I can’t move. I study him close. I’m transfixed. He’s grayer, heavier, more placid. I look in his eyes. Nothing. It’s just another day for him.

He was a good guy, always did what he was told. Towed the company line. His wife works there too. He’s got a bunch of kids and he’ll probably go down with the ship. But at least he belongs somewhere. He didn’t detonate his security. He’s not coming up with big, uncomfortable ideas.

But I know where he’s been every fucking day of his life for the last forty years. Is that a price I was willing to pay? Not so much. Poor guy, I thought.

I picked up my slushy little dog and headed back to my cramped quarters to plan my escape. It was time for a new plan. Was it ever.

 

A Nice Cold Dish

Most folks will tell you that revenge is a very unhealthy thing. I beg to differ. I stopped turning my cheeks years ago. I think there is a huge benefit in getting into such an unreasonable state. First, it banishes fear. Fear brings everything to a halt. Fear makes the stool go runny. Fear is not your ally. Fear can make you ill. I’m not ill.

If you get mad enough, been trespassed enough, or slyly stuck with an unfortunate circumstance, it is motivating. It focuses you. It makes you feel insanely alive.

Yes, I’m still grieving over my dog. Now I’m bitter. And resigned. But it brings other issues to the fore. The unfairness of life, the cruelty of other humans when it benefits them, lack of character and a willingness to twist the knife to gain advantage.

I was living in a state of panic off and on for more than a year. Not any more. I have scores to settle and miles to go before I sleep. There is a spring in my step.

When I pull into the gym parking lot in the early am, I plant thoughts of retribution into my head that make me squeeze that barbell for all its worth. It’s cathartic. It works.

Like all sin, it feels good.  I can’t go to a hell I don’t believe in. Gonna be a great year.

You’ve been warned. 🙂

2018: Independence and Relevance

I’ve had my go at marriage, partnership, commiserating, negotiating, sharing and house playing. The goal from here on is to remain relevant and independent. That means healthy in body, mind and spirit. It means a doctor visit once a year, not once a week. It means continued learning, discovery and health.

As boomers, we are entering uncharted territory, if actuarial tables are to be believed. I am not a big fan of hanging around here in less than optimal condition. I see enough end result here to keep me awake at night. I would like to go quickly, not horizontally tubed up and praying for death. In most cases, when it comes to our well being, A for effort counts.

To remain relevant, I have to acquire new skills, a new approach, and keep the spring in my step. At 71, on paper, I figure I’m dead in the water. Unless I get the chance to show up. Just the Vietnam Era contribution on my resume is telling. I’ll draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

The 5-30-30 is my way of nipping both of these buds. Five days a week I devote a minimum of 30 minutes to vigorous exercise and 30 minutes to self improvement. Right now, I’m studying for a nutrition certification, reading Hemingway and staying current on the many software programs I use on Lynda.com.

I don’t want to spend these years waiting for the bus. It’ll be here before I know it.

Don’t Be A Lightweight

“I mistrust all frank and simple people, especially when their stories hold together. – Hemingway

When I had my sales territory, I owned it. At least my customers thought I did. I was affectionately know as Mr. Dupont. I took care of business. All customer requests came through me. And some of them were doozies. None were dismissed out of hand.

I was asked for scholarships, bail money, to lay off gambling debt, plane tickets, graduation parties, honeymoon expenses, and rubbers and bubble gum.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Never once did I say, “unfortunately.” Ever. Good clients were hard to come by and I wasn’t about to give them the flick of my wrist. They deserved to be listened to without slamming the door.

I never came right out and refused. I would always give them some time to think about what they were asking. Most times, it worked out.

I never wanted to be considered a lightweight, an errand boy. Sometimes I could help, sometimes I couldn’t, but I gave it a go. The ridiculous stuff was easy. But I never said no right off the bat.

Some people like to blame “them”, the management, company policy, or some technicality to absolve themselves of ultimate responsibility, but it only makes you look ineffective. An errand boy. Your boss isn’t going to help you gain or maintain business. Or bolster your reputation.

Rules are made to be broken. If you can’t do anything, at least look like you’re trying. Scrub “unfortunately” from your vocabulary. You own it.

The Numbers Game

I’m lacing up my sneakers. It’s pitch black out. Another four hours before daylight. Someone told me recently that I might, given my present physical conditioning, be on track to live well into my upper nineties.

Nothing interests me less. I have no designs on being a non-productive potted plant and just punching up some long numbers. There are no trophies for that particular feat. Only punishment.

Where I’m living at the present moment, Sun City, feels like some elephant grave yard where the denizens come to suffer, not enjoy the fruits of their previous labors. I’m getting a glimpse into the future that shakes me to my core.

But we accept it. We scratch our heads at the physical ailments that start to plague us a few weeks after our first social security check. I hear the conversations all the time. The apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, a myriad of mysterious aches and pains, things that might be mitigated with a little preventive strategy.

Yeah, infirmity will visit, but its intensity can be lessened if we put the work in. Now. That’s my angle and I’m sticking to it. The upper 90’s thing does nothing for me if I can’t participate and contribute.

My goal is to step off the planet with the least amount of needless suffering. Have a pleasant evening, go to bed with a smile, then hopefully… wake up dead. 🙂

Camera Monkey?

About a year ago, I took almost all of my video gear and sold it back to an outfit called Adorama for pennies on the dollar. I had had it. What a nutty way to make a living. Dragging gear all over the country, up hotel stairs, down hospital basements until I went out of my mind. Everyone was a latent Spielberg or a Tarantino. No respect.

I started Double O Creative back around the millennium with hopes of making it an integral part of my company at the time, Bristol Myers Squibb. They didn’t know what to do with me. Even after they relocated me.

I was just a camera monkey to them. My contemporaries in the video world didn’t help the image either. Plumbers and landscapers by day, they drove pricing and quality down to the nub. That was it for me, it was rinse and spit. No mas.

Until I arrived out west. One thing we always knew in radiopharmaceutical sales, was that folks out west were early adopters. A new product launch would always see adoption spreading left to right. Always.

Out here, I’m finding that video production is not just a “nice to have” like it was back east. Out here, it’s a “must have.” Out here, it’s a valuable sales, marketing and training tool. It is valued. Who’da thunk?

Everyone from banks to boardrooms are looking for that one (me?) someone that can make the screen come alive with relevant information, to reach, teach and inform. Someone that knows how to craft a message and bring the best out in their talent and get that message heard and seen. I know business, I know video, and I knew how to present it.

Out here, they know, understand and appreciate this modality. How refreshing. Who knows? I’m might snap off my lens cover once again. I put almost 20 years into this discipline, it would be nice to man the director’s chair again. Where’s my beret?

 

Vietnam was a gift

For me. That war got me pulled me off the street just in time. It kicked me in my flabby ass and stood me up. It broke the descending trajectory I was in and most likely saved my life. When other young men had designs on marriage or college, I watched from the outside. No interest.

I was hanging with dangerous people, experimenting with drugs and was an alcoholic for at least five years by then. I was going nowhere in a hurry. With a bullet, as they say.

In 1966, I was a machinist’s apprentice and had a government deferment. I was safe. But my drinking and carousing got me fired and the government’s bullseye became firmly affixed to my back. When my “Greetings” letter from the government arrived, I was ready for a hospital, not a barracks.

I was finally drafted. At 19 I weighed 190 pounds. I should have been 165. I was soft, flabby, chest congested and didn’t know a push-up from a pull-up. I vomited every day for weeks. They damn near killed me.

The change came weeks later during a six mile run. Something was different. The run didn’t feel fast enough to me for some reason. I started to run backwards. Then the guy next to me started. We looked at each other in amazement. What was this? Then the grass drills started to seem like fun. (I said started, OK?)

We all smoked during those days but we were leaner, faster, confident and coordinated. Then we started to get neat. Daily inspections will do that to you. You got your shit together.

The olive drab started to fit better. Tight in the right places. When we partied on weekends we would practice facing movements and even foot race each other. The change had come.

Eighteen months later, I stepped off a plane in Boston after a year in Vietnam. I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face when she looked up at my tanned face. She held on to my arm for dear life. I was her man.

In an alternate universe she wouldn’t have been looking at me with such unabashed pride, she would have been posting bail.

 

Growing Old Greatfully!

Life expectancy has just decreased for the second year in a row. Overall life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell to 78.6 years, a small decline of 0.1 percent, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) team found. At the same time, mortality from drug overdoses rose by 21 percent. The opioid crisis raises its ugly head. That’s not the only thing killing us off.

I have been living in the land of the walking wounded here in Sun City, Arizona and I can see why the orange bottle reigns supreme. Seemingly healthy individuals are walking from their cars or golf carts, to occupy motorized shopping carts. Quite a few look disoriented and have trouble making a buying decision, while backing up the aisle traffic at Fry’s.

Checkout can cause you to leave your shopping cart in the middle of the floor and go home.

This isn’t a call to action for physical exercise, though it should be. The same old words always fall on the same old deaf ears, so we can skip the pretense. Living long ain’t what it’s cracked up to be if the denizens of this community are any example. It’s an exercise in pain management.

We are made to move. Failure to do so will cause the body to atrophy and cause a myriad of problems throughout the human movement system. You see the results every day. When care and feeding is applied, the body responds in kind. The designers took careful consideration.

Thanks to the Directors of Misinformation on the news and TV, we have the tendency to look at an exercise program as some big, impossible, complex campaign when actually, it’s just one foot at a time.

So the new life expectancy is 78.6. If those numbers are true, I will have to pass on the green bananas. But I’m not gonna take it laying down. Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Backhand Marketing (Bob’n and Weavin’)

“Give ’em your backhand”

backhand |marketing|
verb
Creating awareness of your offering without clearing a room.

I’m sitting in Starbuck’s yesterday, doing what I do best, eavesdropping. Four women are having a chat and discussing a house one of them had just sold. The seller was complaining that she had a tough time engaging a real estate agent she could trust and feel comfortable with. One of the women pipes up with, “I’m a real estate agent. Been doing it for years, off and on.” The seller expresses shock and disbelief and says she wished she would have known. Huh?

This would never happen to me. No matter what I’m doing, everyone in my circle of influence knows exactly what that is. I do what I call weaving. I weave stories, anecdotes and belly flops into all of my conversations. I entertain. I inform.

I don’t separate business with pleasure or every day life, because all of my experiences are life experiences. I’m interested in what I do and share stories. I will even post a blog about my adventures. I have been disappointed in the past as opportunities evaporated because people were unaware. I go to great lengths to avoid letting that happen. Again.

I never wait for the absolute right time to launch an elevator speech. Life doesn’t work like that. Awareness is key. I have been surprised and delighted to get a late night call asking me if I still produce corporate video or put executive communications together or personally train clients. Those opportunities arose from not waiting for the right time to share my wares. I use a backhand approach. I am not direct. I tell stories. I entertain. You should too.

I harvested at least a dozen little stories out of this corporate shoot last spring and reaped the rewards.

 

F’real

I’m sitting in a doctor’s office watching a couple of guys running over their sales script for when they get in to see the doc. One is the manager. He looks road weary and somewhat worse for wear. A road dog, that one.

His young charge looks fresh but shaky. He has on one of those impossibly tight suits they’re wearing these days, which means you can’t button the jacket, complete with a John Dillinger haircut. Buttoning the top button of his fitted shirt has produced a bulging blue vein on his temple. He fidgets as his boss whispers words of encouragement. Taken as veiled threats by his liege.

The doc, the target of all this pre-call planning, walks out into the waiting room. He only has a minute, so he tells them to start talking. The kid holds up the sales piece and gives the factory approved speech in his best monotone. He’s trying to cover all the bases because he’s actually pitching to two people. In probably the longest 45 seconds the doc has had to endure since the last rep, he smiles, takes the sales piece and begs off.

Not before he looks over at me and rolls his eyes apologetically. Seen that look before.

Once the doc re-enters his battlefield, the manager slaps his grasshopper on the back and says, “That’s the way ya do it.” I quickly look down at my phone.

Then I think about all the times I had to do that sort of thing. I remember hitting the field without the required coat of vanilla most reps get shellacked with. No formal training. No business experience. No degree. No fear. I was too dumb to know what I had gotten myself into.

So I rolled my own. I brought every skill and fancy to the show. I told jokes, I flirted contagiously. Secretaries swooned under a barrage of compliments. I upstaged waiting rooms, I wined and dined maintenance people. I couldn’t tell a surgeon from a fry cook. The world was my target.

Dupont, what have ye wrought? What happened to better things, for better living? Oh, that was GE. I came right off the dock. I was their own private kamikaze. They needed warm bodies in those days but they forgot to take my temperature.

Then the calls started coming in, glowing, most of them, but with some concern. Ginny Standiford, a radiology manager, is quoted as saying, “Tell him to stop boinking my technologists.” I went at the job the way I thought it was supposed to be gotten at. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to get at a decision maker, an economic buyer, a coach, or the next victim.

On one of my last sales call in Las Vegas, I was sitting in a rep heavy waiting room when the director of the department motioned for me to come in first. In front of the other reps who were clearly there ahead of me.

I asked why I was there ahead of the other beggars. He said “Man those guys make me tired. You make me laugh, you f’real.”

Yep, I was a legend in my own mind…..and a nightmare in everyone else’s.

 

The Disconnect

Still looking for my dream job. My calling. Thought I found it. Not only did I fill out the online resume, I called them. Immediately. I couldn’t have made this position up. It was perfect. I had to wait a week for the phone interview. In that time I had delusions of grandeur.

I would see myself on a mission, interacting with their…uh, my, clients, solving problems I cared about, and using technical language it had taken me years to master. How could this not work?

The logical conclusion would be to start working for this outfit, like…. tonight. Let’s get this party started. When I shave and shower for a telephone interview, I know I’m excited. I hit the call button on my phone as soon as the second hand swept onto 12.

I was so jazzed, I was afraid I would start making involuntary noises in my throat. When I heard the phone pick up, I was ready. I became myself. Game on.

Then it goes something like this:

Reality. From the first few sentences, you start feeling the ground move under your feet. Not only are you not on the same page, you’re not even reading the same book. You flail around trying get your balance. To no avail. The chest gets heavy and confusion enters the discourse. It’s cold in the room all of a sudden.

You’re not answering their questions. You’re trying to change the direction of the inquisition but they’ll have none of it. They know what they’re looking for. The blinders are on. No room for improvisation here, bucko.

It’s scheduled for 30 minutes, but you’re done. The kitchen clock is not working with you. You want to pull your hand back out of the fire. Whoops! Sorry, wrong number. What just happened here?

There are a few spaces I’m comfortable playing in and this was one of them. I would have absolutely killed this position. They would have been high-fivng each other tonight at happy hour. No…friggin’…..doubt. But life has other plans. I guess.

It was mine to lose and I lost it. It did wake me up to possibilities for me that I hadn’t considered before, in the corporate video/multimedia world. As business development. This is where I belong. I’ve made my bones in this industry.

I’ve had tough interviews before and always been pleasantly surprised when they call back with a change of mind. But this time, I’m not waiting by the phone. I can’t afford to. I’m off on a new mission.

Sorry, Charlie.

 

Puffery

There are a lot of mentors out there who will tell you how to inflate yourself to prospective employers. I’ve seen advice ranging from what to wear, what to say, how to act and even emulating the postures of your interviewers like some sacred kabuki dance. Once you’ve donned your peacock feathers, you can only hope you won’t be exposed during the trick question portion of your inquisition.

But what of your inquisitor? What’s their strategy? Their responsibility? Besides onboarding you into their ant farm, how are they positioning themselves? Well, puffery works both ways. When you read the posting, you will think these folks are onto the cure for cancer and you will be joining the ranks of the business elite.

Do you wait for the big reveal at the salary negotiations? If they want you, and want to get you at a bargain, they can resort to cannabilising their own mission statement. Right in front you. I just had someone say, “Why would you even want this crappy job?” They tell me the day-to-day can be murder on my sanity and my home life. As long as it doesn’t murder my bank account, we can keep talking.

Puffery works both ways. Be aware of it. Do your due dilligence. That way, when they open the curtains you won’t be surprised…..or crestfallen.

 

Internal Communication Promo

Rogue Marketing

I almost forgot how much fun I had doing this stuff. I would get an idea, punch out a script, then load it into the tele-Prompter. I would get in front of a green screen and have at it. One or two takes was all I needed as I advanced the text with my right hand. I could knock one of these out in under two hours. It was a great remedy for my crippling shyness. 🙂

The most fun was helping clients project their own message. I called it “getting through the glass.” It was a wonderful feeling watching them develop their on camera chops.  I really must get back to it.

Embellishing The Melody

Musicians employ this technique when asked to solo over unfamiliar chord changes or, let’s say, a 12 bar blues progression. If coming in cold, and your ear is good enough, you can pick out the main melody and make a contribution to the overall efforts of the band. You get the gig.

When sitting in, and the format is extended, as in a jam session, the strategy would be to hint strongly at the melody on the first chorus, then move away in increments by embellishing the established melody. By the time you hit your crescendo, your solo is your creation. You own this. You keep your gig.

When you are assimilated into an orchestra, or corporation, you would best be advised to stay around the melody line until you are confident, then add little flourishes that will enhance the overall theme. Then your solo efforts will be totally yours and hard to duplicate. If you do it well enough, other musicians will be scurrying around trying to cop your licks. You own this gig.

Ready? On the downbeat…

My Peripheral Heart Action Workout

Starting today, I need to spend less time at the gym, so I need to institute a program that will be efficient and provide a thorough workout for both my musculature and and my cardiorespiratory system. We’re going upstairs/ downstairs without stopping. Here goes:

5:00 am:

Protocol: AMRAP = As many reps as possible

Legs – Quads – Cable squats

Back – Lat pulldowns, seated rowing

Chest – Bench press, dumbbell flyes

Legs – Hamstrings

Shoulders – Lateral raises – Reverse flyes (rear delts)

Legs – Calves

Biceps – Dumbbell curls

Triceps – Cable pushdowns

Repeat for a total of three circuits.

Total time: 46 minutes.

Heart rate: 128 bpm.

Home:

Nap. Total time 51 minutes

Resting heart rate upon awakening; 54 bpm.

Have a nice day.

 

Time Under Tension

 

At 71, I am getting stronger. I am still accumulating muscle. I also don’t get the associated aches and pains I used to. My body is responding to the stresses I am applying to it. I am able to lift heavier weight. So what’s the problem? The possible injury to my ligaments and joints. I want no of that.

The solution? Time under tension.

We all like to sling heavier weights around in search of increased power and muscle size. I plead guilty. But as I’m aging and want to stay in this game well into my eighties and nineties, I have to have a strategy that will allow me to continue seeing the progress I’m enjoying.

Again: time under tension.

By slowing down the repetition of any exercise, you will be forced to lower the weight and thereby reduce risk of injury.

Let’s say one repetition takes six seconds. By stretching it out to ten seconds, a set of ten repetitions will take you one minute. That’s gonna burn.

Most folks disregard the importance of the negative, or concentric portion of the exercise and blow right through it.

So on a bicep curl you might hoist it slowly then let it drop back into the starting position. You might use some bad form to accomplish your feat of strength but you are lining yourself up for injury as you increase the weight.

Try it. A set of ten reps might take you 40 seconds, but if you stretch that out to a minute using time under tension, you will feel the difference. Your joints will love you for it.

And, besides, this is where the muscle be at. 🙂

Ante Up

 

I must have been a riverboat gambler in a previous life. Something about risk fascinates me. Once I find a worthy target, and consider all the consequences, I will eagerly slide all of my chips into the middle of the table. Sometimes it seems, in contempt of life itself. I have just cleared the deck and brushed aside any fall back strategies. My eye is on the prize and there’s no looking back. Now I have to focus and gently pull the trigger. Focus…

Pattern Disruptive

One of your body’s main goals is to save and store calories so you won’t starve to death. Fat chance. It’s a real miser and it will slow your metabolism down to achieve it’s goal. That’s what it does. You go on different diet strategies and it works for a little while, but once your body catches on, it’s over. You plateau, stall out, then go back to what you were doing in frustration. Your body is a smart cookie, forgive the pun.

What a lot of folks are doing these days, is called intermittent fasting. You don’t necessarily change the amount of calories you’re taking in, you are changing the pattern with which you take them in. This throws your metabolism off and causes you to burn fat and drop pounds. When the body doesn’t know what to do, it starts burning calories. We like that.

Think of any major life change you’ve experienced: a new job, a move to another location, or an emotional separation, (the worst) even a promotion will give you a metabolic spike. Anything that could change your eating patterns. But then after a bit, things return to normal, and so does your waistline. We don’t like that. Plus, it confuses and demoralizes the hell out us.

On my six day drive out west, I dropped 11 pounds just sitting behind a steering wheel. My caloric intake didn’t change, my eating patterns did. As my metabolism went up, my pants fell down. I liked that.

If you examine some of your previous experiences, you might come to the same conclusion: You need to keep your body out of the loop. So to speak.

In a nutshell, here’s what folks are doing. Remember the word intermittent. A few days a week, let’s say you eat your last meal at 6:00 pm. You go to bed without a snack at 10:00 pm and sleep until 6:00 am. You might have a little black coffee or green tea in the morning and hold off eating until 10:00 am.

That is a 16 hour, intermittent fast my friend, and you have just hit your metabolic panic button. Battle stations! We are burning now, baby. Hold on to your drawers.

Now you have an eight hours window to eat your two or three meals for the day. Don’t get crazy just eat normally. Repeat if necessary, or hold off and try it again in a few days. Intermittently.

That’s the latest craze in a nutshell. The moral of the story is to always keep your metabolism guessing. This is one good way to do it.

 

Throwing your weight around!

I see this play out all the time at the gym. Usually, some genetically superior moron will show up to teach us all how it should be done…the wrong way. He will grab a bar with enough weight on it to make us mere mortals shriek, then begin to heave it around like chewing gum on his tongue.

Mr. Goodbody will make all the appropriate noises and gestures to give you the show you didn’t pay for.

He breaks all the rules of biomechanics in one set. How he doesn’t end up getting a ride home in the back off an ambulance, is anyone’s guess.

Pan across the gymnasium floor and you see the neophyte who is taking it all in. He is thinking what we’re all thinking….that’s how you do it. He’s the guy the ambulance driver is waiting for. Being in a big box gym is like being on the prison yard. You do more watching than talking.

Sure enough, you’ll see the guy with the stringy arms and caved-in chest attempting the very same foolhardy moves. With disastrous results. Mr. Gifted walks away unscathed, while our victim gets hurt and avoids the gym in the future.

Fact: Some people have incredible bodies in spite of themselves.

I’ve said all that to say this: I have never seen an industry, like fitness, be so full of dangerous misinformation. Lifelong bodybuilders, trainers, enthusiasts, diet gurus and sports heroes can dispense with misguided information at will and unchecked. The FDA expects them to police themselves. Dr. Oz fans, please don’t.

40 years on, we’re still talking about the same issues. The bad information will always come full circle. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. My one distinct qualifier, I’m willing to bet, is I’ve made more mistakes than you. Any takers? Didn’t think so. 🙂

Urban legend and exercise best practices don’t mix, and dispelling myths is what I will be addressing in my biggest adventure, Enlightened Rogue Fitness.

Don’t throw your weight around, it’s in bad form.

 

Relevance: At Your Stage of the Game?

Relevance. That word is burned into my temporal lobe. I am a player who wants to keep playing. No time outs, no showers. I am in it, to win it. Until the dirt nap. When I am interviewing, relevance is always there in the conversation, usually couched as “at your stage of the game”.

Acutely aware of the ageism trap, they will invariably ask me why I want the position at this time of my life. Why would I want to put myself through the aggravation? I get it.

I understand an honest question deserves an honest answer. Because I want to remain relevant. I want to be valued for my life experiences as well as my technical skills, my people skills and my drive. My engine’s still revving.

It doesn’t put an end to the queries though. They will keep finding different ways to ask the same question. But I like the question. It deserves an answer. I like answering it.

I am not the only septuagenarian who still wants to be seen, heard and appreciated. We all want more than just the ability to fog a mirror. Ask any old coot a question on just about anything under the sun, and I guarantee you’ll get more than the cliff notes.

Most will go into a windup before the pitch so they can regale you with how they handled that particular problem when they were captains of industry, a business owner, or a star athlete in college. You see it in their eyes. “Those were the days, kid”

I get the “good old days” from guys decades younger than me, too. Their relevance has been diminished through time and inattention. After life has twisted its way around them, they fade. Like us all.

So your 401K gets wiped out, or you made some bad investments, a death, a natural disaster, any of which could pour you back into the workforce uninvited . We never know.

If your idea of workforce means something other than stocking shelves in a Safeway supermarket at three o’clock in the morning, then we understand each other.

At 71, on paper, I’m not getting the call. But if they meet me, and they see I’m I’m still vertical, with a pulse, brimming with energy, then we get somewhere. The game changes. For me, showing up is always the clincher.

The first thing is we need to take care of ourselves. That means doing more than golf or walking the dog. It means staying flexible, mentally and physically. It means staying current. It means cardiorespiratory, it means some form of resistance training. So you can present yourself as the vibrant, healthy, contributor that you are. Deliberately. If you feel good, you look good.

Your doctor, most likely, will be more than happy to give you something to wash away your blues, or medicate your neck pain without getting to the cause. Been there. I was told I was all washed up while still in my fifties. “You are getting older, you know, you’re bound to experience some pain in your joints and muscles.” Wrong!

Nothing beats a person down quicker than being passed over or ignored, whether it’s a love interest or a job opportunity. You need that at this stage of your game? In most cases, a firm “no” would be a mercy killing. Silence can be deafening.

Stay relevant, it’s earlier than you think. 🙂

 

 

There’s no-no on my lips….

So this outfit gets my resume and presumably they like what they see. I get an e-mail, then a phone call, another e-mail, another phone call, and so on. They finally set up a phone interview and we’re good to go. I think.

He spends the first 40 minutes telling me why I’m overqualified and how I’ll hate the job after 5 minutes.

He can’t understand why I would even put myself through something as pedestrian and paltry paying as this position. He is weeding without a whacker.

He continues his negative narrative. Now it’s like I’m not even on the phone with him anymore. He’s doing such a great job, why interrupt?

Toward the end I tell him the job does sound like pretty mind numbing, tedious and thankless work….and maybe he’s right. “Now, wait a minute, Bob…”

Lunch Ain’t Free

This guy walks into a very fancy restaurant/bar in Manhattan. He just landed the biggest deal of his career and he wants to celebrate. Being solo, he asks to be sat at the bar with a menu. Tonight he is going to break the bank. The bartender comes over and takes his order. He orders top shelf everything, food, drink, dessert and a big cigar at the end. He misses nothing.

Full of food and himself, he asks the bartender for the check. The bartender says, “Gimme five bucks and we’ll call it even”. The guy almost chokes on his toothpick. He says, “Wait a minute, did you see what I had?” The bartender nods.

The guy still can’t believe he is getting at least a $500 meal for five bucks. He says, “This is incredible, how do you make any money?”

The bartender says, “ I don’t.” The guy says, “ Are you the owner of this place?” The guy says, “No, the owner’s upstairs with my wife, and what he’s doing to my wife, I’m doing to his business”. (Rimshot)

I tell the story because I see similar instances all the time. Not as dramatic, but similar. Well intentioned folks who start a business and hire distracted, underpaid people to run it because they’re cheap labor, won’t be in business long.

At Office Max this morning, I watched a Fellini movie play out in spades. Nobody in that place gave a shit.

I was returning an item and thought they might ask me some questions. Nada. The girl continued texting someone while she cheerfully refunded me my money. No questions asked. She never looked up. The rest of the store was in such disarray I felt compelled to leave and not interrupt their eight hour coffee break.

I was approaching an “associate” with a question, and when he saw me coming he ducked into the inkjet section and kept on going. Fear and loathing in his eyes.

When you hire someone to run your store at cheap rates, and you think ” minimum wage has never felt so good” make sure they’re minding your business, not mining it.

There is no free lunch.

Demons

LA Fitness, 5:00 am. Whew, that was a close one. Almost couldn’t get the bar back on the rack. It felt like the ceiling was coming down on top of me.

If I got pinned, there was no one close enough to pull the bar up off of my fractured rib cage. As I’m sitting on the end of the bench, covered with sweat and salt seeping into my desert-chapped lips, I am plagued with self-doubt.

Enter my demons: “What the hell are you doing, Bob? Should guys your age be playing with that kind of poundage? What are you trying to prove? You’re a goddam septuagenarian, ya know”.

Then it dawns on me. This is not vanity anymore, it’s marketing. I am perfecting my personal presentation. Each person I tell about my recent certification as a fitness professional does the same thing, they start at my shoes and work their way up. Every time.

Once again, I am the product. The “proof of the pudding”. Then I smile knowingly as I lay back down on the bench, take a deep breath and tell my new spotter, “OK, I’ll take it off on 3…”

It’s A Stretch…

It was Friday, April 19, 1996. I remember that day clearly. I had just returned from Executive Council in Laguna Niguel, a week of reward from Dupont Radiopharmaceuticals for surpassing my sales forecast. Later in the day, I would be closing on a house I had the good fortune to purchase in the tony section of Scottsdale Arizona, called Troon. A good day all around.

Before I went to the realtor’s office I had to make a stop at Comp USA. I was being pressured by my girlfriend Carol, to get a home PC so we could manage our finances using Quicken. I wasn’t keen on the idea because Carol never knew a check she couldn’t bounce and I didn’t know a megabyte from a mosquito bite.

Being in good spirits, I relented. I was home in two hours with three big boxes. A laughable Microsoft configuration by today’s standards. Be that as it may, in about an hour, my whole life had changed. Completely. There was magic in those boxes.

Within weeks, I was producing a newsletter, “News From The Left”, web sites for my customers, and recording music on that contraption. I had launched myself into cyberspace. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day.

Within a year, I had made some new friends: chiropractors, neurologists and massage therapists. I never put two and two together. All those new but punishing hours in front of the screen was wreaking havoc. Add a statin drug to the mix and I was in pain central. And it was constant.

Lance Dreher, a local body builder and radio personality, gave me some exercises to do but the pain always came back. I thought it might have had something to do with all the luggage I toted all over the country, but in my 6 years in the field, I never had a problem before. Age? I shuddered to think. I was barely 50.

As it turns out, technology is exacting a toll on our physicality. By sitting hunched over and leaning into our screens, or staring into our devices of choice, we are protracting our shoulders and leaning forward so much we are throwing our bodies out of alignment.

It’s not just our upper half, our hip flexors get shortened, our calves get tight and our backs start getting a nice little arch. It’s all connected. The hip bone’s connected to the…

All of which means compensation and pain. (Bet you never thought you’d see those two words in the same sentence.)

But that’s the reality of today’s technology. Our heads are down, our shoulder’s are up and our backs are out. I won’t touch on diminished attention spans.

I could say that a lot of these problems are easily remedied by simply becoming more flexible and stepping away from our devices, but that would be a stretch.

But it’s exactly what we need 🙂