A Position of Strength

Join the resistance.

It’s 5:30 am. The door to the 24 hour access gym buzzes, then clicks to open for the harried housewife, mother, student, secretary, dog groomer or real estate agent sans make-up. Upon entering, they inevitably turn left. Always. Left is where the aerobic section lay in wait.

The endless assortment of treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals and rowing machines line up against the wall with the usual barrage of TV screens facing down on them.

The routine is the usual steady state, punch it in, check e-mail, text the babysitter, remind the husband and chat up your neighbor on the next contraption. Same thing, different day.

The male, “doctor’s orders” group follows almost the same ritual. Get on, do thirty, grab the crossword at the front desk and tell your wife about the 90 minutes you spent at the gym. I see it all the time.

Enter the resistance. What these folks are leaving on the table is the resistance training that will strengthen their bones and ligaments and save them from a life time of pain and possible infirmity.

Resistance grows bone. Period. A huge factor in preventing osteoporosis and bone loss. Use it or lose it applies here. You need to strengthen more than your resolve.

At my perch in front of the Ayer Town Hall, I see folks who can’t be more than 50, being helped into cars, taking a full five minutes to cross the street, having difficulty getting up the Town Hall stairs and even trying to open a door while maintaining a walker. Sad.

You see people waving to someone and when the hand stops moving, the back of the arm is still going. “The wave” is every where. Hard to watch.

You just have to weight.

The takeaway here is, if you are going to make the effort to get to a gym or follow an exercise plan, don’t leave the most critical component to your overall health on the table. Your body needs that resistance or else you wouldn’t have been born with all that muscle and bone.

We think we can flop around for a half hour on some Life Fitness machine and meet all the requirements of our owner’s manual but it doesn’t work that way.

Feet, don’t fail me now.

While ellipticals and stationary bikes provide cardiorespiratory benefit, your feet still need weight bearing exercises to resist the ground in the form of walking, climbing stairs, group aerobics, running or jogging.

If you are retired, or heading that way, I’m betting you don’t want to get into that doctor-hospital-home loop so many of today’s seniors are stuck in. It’s not what you signed up for.

A generation ago,  this would be a reality and greeted with acceptance. Not so, today. Resist ye, at all costs. 🙂

Come from a position of strength. Always.

Bob O’Hearn

 

Fish sticks

Nothing brings you around quicker than seeing your name on a death certificate. I stumbled upon my father’s while pulling things together for my upcoming move out west. Robert Sr., to whom I am his junior, passed away in March, 1977.  He was 57. Sobering in every sense of the word.

I had two strong emotions when I read it again: How much I missed him and the sad, difficult, brevity of his life.

My immediate difficulties pale in comparison. I will now, instead of shrinking from my challenges, embrace them. Every big watershed moment in my life has yielded enormous gifts, though I didn’t recognize them until after they passed.

I remember frying fish sticks in a mess hall at Fort Carson, Colorado for 700 troops. Mind numbing. The mess sergeant approached me to give me a heads up about an upcoming levy for a large order of warm bodies to do a year in a moist, sunny climate. Vietnam. I thought to myself, so this is how my life’s going to end?

The sarge liked me and wanted me to stay where I was for a while. He said, “Kid, if I can get your name pulled off that list, would you want to stay here and work for me? Of course. Who wants to die? Then he left for headquarters to work his magic.

While he was gone, I kept looking at those fish sticks floating around in the grease. Is this it? Am I gonna spend my whole two years standing over a Fryolator? This would be like going to a famous steak house and ordering a grilled cheese sandwich.

My yin started going at my yang. Should I stop him? What are you nuts? Don’t you remember Morley Safer standing in front of that burning hooch with women and children screaming? Remember the gun shots, rockets and mortar rounds driving the CBS Evening News’ ratings up and scaring the shit out of your poor mother in the bargain?

We’ll have none of that, Bobby Boy. Now, keep flipping those fish sticks. Who in the world would knowingly volunteer for a tour of hell? Besides, if Nora found out I volunteered, there would be hell to pay.

He was gone about an hour. Just when I had reconciled myself to weekends in Denver, he gave me the bad news. I was gone. Nothing he could do. Well then, it was settled. Now it wasn’t my decision.

The die was cast. Time to gear up for the new adventure. And an adventure it was, Cecil B. Demille couldn’t have made that movie up. Grew me up in a hurry. For my parents, it was 365 days of white knuckles and slowly disseminated  information. Hell.

This is my back pocket story. I keep it next to my father’s death certificate to remind me to Carpe diem my ass off. Every goddam diem. Thanks, Dad.

Bob O’Hearn

Getting our skit together!

Skits used to be the preferred way to showcase product knowledge and presentation skills at sales meetings in Dupont Radiopharmaceuticals. We buried that technique deep in the foggy bottom of history in 1992.

Being cursed with a ribald sense of humor and no filter, I was my team’s unwitting agent provocateur for the skit’s demise. Skits were an awkward and mostly embarrassing method of limiting someone’s career. For me, it was rote.

The scenario we cooked up was “Cardiolite On Trial”. This was, after all, the big Cardiolite launch meeting and they were spending huge bucks to make sure we knew our stuff. Traveling us to Kona, Hawaii, with separate rooms, food to die for and a huge celebration at the end, they were hoping to recoup their investment. They did. In spades.

Rehearsals commenced in Mike Komosinski’s room that morning and it got nasty from the git-go. It never rose above the sixth grade. Debbie Elliot was the only one who raised concern. Our only voice of reason. We didn’t listen.

My thinking was, hey, these guys have been around a while, they would know if we were going to break the HR code of decency. I would be wrong.

Once rehearsals ended, we took our wobbly creation to the designated platform. No one anticipated the jitters, the enormous sound stage, the lights, the cameras, all those people and of course, our executive audience. I did. This was old school for me. After all, I used to make a fool of myself for a living. No stranger, I.

As we were being miked up, I had a bad feeling. Such intuition was how I had survived until then. Again, I didn’t listen.

Once on stage, were were blinded by the lights and mercifully couldn’t see the audience or our boss, Sully, trying to hang himself with his lei. We used every elementary play on words we could lay hold of, Berman became sperm-man and on and on.

William Kennedy Smith was on trial then and we mimicked a lot of that salty testimony. I was dressed as the judge and for the most part, in charge of the proceedings.

The live, unintended improvisations were what really cooked us. Once I sensed we were running out of steam, I ended the mess with, “Have you ever had a camera go down on you?” Signed, sealed, delivered. I was done.

I knew. One foot off the stage and I knew. No matter who else I shared the lights with, it was gonna be O’Hearn. Again. “Why isn’t he still on the dock, where he belongs?”

It was 5:00 o’clock when I reached my room with echoes of Ken Kasses’ high pitched laugh bouncing around in my ear drums. Was he laughing because he thought it was funny? Or was he laughing because I had just imploded my still shaky career? Guilty minds have no limits.

By 6:00 pm there was no living with me. There was a big party scheduled on the beach that night with live music, food and spirits. I pulled myself together and made my way to the beach.

It was huge. Big torches lit up the night, the band was playing “Tulsa Time” and festivities were in full swing. I started to sore-thumb my way through the crowd.

Like paranoia off a weed high, the trek was other worldly. I was coming out of my body. Crowds would suddenly part like the red sea. Nobody had to look, it seemed they could just sense me and move aside.

Peter Card sidled up to me and looking off towards the water muffled “That was the funniest fucking thing I’ve ever seen” and disintegrated into the crowd.

Years later, when we had meetings with spouses, I would be introduced to significant others as “This is the guy I was telling you about. He ended the skits in our company. Forever”. I’ll never live it down.

Aloha.

Bob O’Hearn

Seems like a good idea, no?.

“Hey, I have a great idea. Why don’t we all meet up at my house and we can alter our consciousness. We can get silly, interrupt each other, turn the music up so loud the cops will come, I can misunderstand you, you can misunderstand me, I can say some things I will never be able to take back, you’ll probably bust up all my furniture, I can put you in the hospital, you can insult my wife, I can wake up with yours, you can bring me to court, your kids will stop talking to mine, my neighbors will stop talking to me and on and on….whaddya say? Friday at eight?”

E-Stranged

It’s not even worth mentioning anymore. But I will. We have been slouching toward distraction for years. The zombie parade continues to get worse. People are traversing the landscape with their faces firmly locked into their gadgets of choice. Maddening.

On these beautiful mornings, I see young mothers introducing their newborns to the world while never looking down at their gift. They are Face-timing, texting and gabbing away to beat the band. I see couples taking in the beauty of the Nashua Rail Trail holding hands while listening to music on separate headphones. ??

In the gym yesterday after noon, there was just me and this other guy. He didn’t notice when I came in, and he never saw me leave.

I used to take someone that worked for me out to dinner. He would immediately turn into a potted plant once we were seated. He never looked up. That used to bother me. On a seven hour drive to New Jersey together, I didn’t even know he was in the vehicle. I’m not angry anymore, just sad.

The ubiquitous phone. Hate to generalize, but it appears our tattoo splattered, out of shape, out of attention, out of the loop, society is sleep walking themselves into extinction.

We have become a complacent, distracted bunch. Strike that, you have, not me. I will have none of it. If I didn’t have my driver’s license inserted into the back of my phone, I wouldn’t  bother taking it outside. The big reason is I would need to be identified in case I get run down by a texting driver. Mandatory to think about those things now.

Now we have sleeptexting, brought to you by the makers of Ambien. What’s next?

Bob O’Hearn

Jay Street

No one ever took Mike Messina for a Rhodes Scholar. Let’s get the understatements out of the way. When it came to brains, he never paid his light bill. What he did to the English language was nothing short of murder and if bullshit was electricity, he would be Con Edison. But he had his ways. If he couldn’t fight you, he would wear you down. His name should have been Mike Machiavelli.

For us, in the early ’60’s, there was never any relaxation of the dress code. What you wore on any given day or night could move you up or down in the Davis Sq. pecking order. Such was the seriousness of the “clothes made the man” code we lived by.

Hair. Hair was all consuming. Back then you could actually attain follicular sainthood and be described as “the guy with the good hair.” You didn’t even need a name.

The introduction of permanent press clothing kicked up another level of stress. Permanent press back then wasn’t what it is today. One double crease in your pants and it was over. Double creased for life. You would have to go out and steal another pair. I remember when my brother John was ironing his iridescent, high water, wish I was James Brown, shit kickers.

There could be no TV, no radio, no talking (on the whole street) as he ironed with the efficiency of an ATF agent defusing a bomb. He would even attempt to get the dry cleaner to sign a waiver to press his pants. He threw John out.

So back to that sneaky bastard, Mike. Every night that counted, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, (Thursday was pay night.) the plan was always to meet at Mike’s house on Jay Street. It was a cramped, steamy, Italian, third floor tenement.

The mother was always so nice in her broken English but it was always hot up there, even in the winter. Summers? Ugh! The only attraction to us at the time was maybe we could catch his older sister Anna in some form of undress before she went out with Eddie Faulkner. Worth the wait, believe me.

Once, when “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” came on, Anna went hysterical and her house coat flew open. I almost caught a touch of the vapors on that one. Seared into my memory. She would have so many rollers in her hair she could pick up WMEX. But it in no way, detracted from her fiery Italian beauty. Mannaggia!

On those hot summer nights we would have to sit there while Mike dawdled…and dawdled…and dawdled. By the time he was ready, it was almost time for us to come home again. Before long, we all looked like we got hit with a fire hose. Our clothes were soaked, our hair (think Vaseline and sweat) was down over our eyes.

I remember Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips” wafting through the air on those muggy summer nights. And I remember Mike, always fresh as a daisy, as we walked beside him back up Jay Street like his rumpled, disheveled flunkies, our eyes watering from the gallons of Canoe he hosed himself with, while we withered in the night.

Got to give him credit though, that bastard, he knew how to even up the competition. So Mike, if you are somewhere and someone is reading this to you, I would just like to say, Ba-fungoo!

But please, say hello to Anna for me. 🙂

Bob O’Hearn

I Have A Write To Be Wrong

Post-poned:

This business of business. Seems what accounts for it is in the eye of the beholder. This piece is sparked by a digital click on the chin I received from an estranged sister-in-law on LinkedIn. Why she should choose to chime in and possibly exacerbate an already fragile legal/domestic situation is beyond me. It numbs the mind but I guess you would have to know her.

Never one to be able to hold her powder or her liquor, I can only surmise she was sitting at the corner of the bar when she punched in the attack on her phone. Seems what I posit doesn’t pass her smell test but I suspect other motives at play as well. Her talent at room-clearing is legend. I’m grateful she brought it up though, so I can address it.

LinkedIn does not have a legal controlling authority. (Thanks, Al ) It is left up to the participants to police up would-be offenders. Who is deemed an offender and who is not, is up to the LinkedIn hall monitors. Methinks LinkedIn is shirking a responsibility here.

This is where it gets muddy. Just because a submission doesn’t specifically mention a merger, an acquisition or an FDA approval, it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. When I write a piece about health, exercise, vanity, mental toughness, sales serendipity, some legal or existential conundrum, it is business. Life is business. This country is business. B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S. You cannot separate the professional from the personal.

When I finish a blog I have the option to direct it anywhere, Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Or all of the above. Like a kid flying a kite, I like to see how high it flies. Who knows? 🙂

I have found that opportunity can come from any where. Do I expect work from it? Maybe. Does no one see I am hawking my creativity? Will no one look at a piece for its cleverness and insight? Is that not a viable commodity in today’s myopic slave market?

I went through this whole charade in Big Pharma. They crave creativity and when you serve it up they want the Cliff-Notes. Like Diogenes looking for an honest man, I can only hope some business leader can see my worth through my life experience and self-motivated communications.

At this stage of my life you can fit my resume on the back of a baseball card. The only thing I choose to offer today is my subjective creativity. You can have all the latest state-of-the-art equipment and resources, but if you don’t have that intangible, you ain’t going’ nowhere. In my role as a creative consultant over the years, I’ve walked many a drunk away from the edge.

So, who knows? Maybe someone will have a moment of clarity and want to have me hang around outside that box they’re always talking about. To my critic(s) I would only say, get some help. I did.

Bob O’Hearn

 

The Reconnected Disconnection

I dated a young lady in the late eighties named Melissa. She was 24 years my junior. To say it was awkward is an understatement. While she was instigating our relationship, I really wasn’t catching on. When I realized what was happening, I went along. But it was extremely awkward, every moment of it.

Conversations could get maddening. She had no earthly experience of any romantic nature. Read into that what you will. We had a lot of good times but I could never see a future. I never saw a future with anyone.

When she would sit in my kitchen while I cooked, it felt like a visit from my niece. As a matter of fact, my nephew Tommy would fall all over himself when she came over. She was as attractive as she was naive.

But something was missing.

Meanwhile, the guys at work were always hot on her trail. Not interested. I was confused. These guys were good looking, well built and certainly had more in common with her than I did. Still not interested.

Anyway, she still came over my house three or four nights a week after work. I remember her father having a serious problem with me being on the scene. He should have, I was older than him.

I have no earthly idea how we hung on. A couple of years passed and I finally got the nod to move to Arizona as a sales rep.

Our still-awkward relationship disintegrated. Completely. I never thought twice about it and moved on. Like a chapter missing out of a book.

I looked her up on Facebook a few days ago and saw a picture of her and her wife celebrating their five year anniversary. Ya never know.

Money for nothin’

Money for nothin’
I remember the day this shot from a National Sales Meeting went up on all the screens on the Billerica campus. Ice carving? Mass. outrage. While the working stiffs on site had to count paper clips, sales pukes like me were wearing nice suits, drove a new car every two years and told jokes over expensive dinners.

Having been on both sides of that unfortunate equation, I could sympathize. What folks never saw, was the deadly, fawning, fickle, needy customer base who knew how to work the system. They had been at it for years. And we helped.

It would not be unusual to be asked for theater tickets, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf and country club admissions. I have been asked for scholarship money, condo fees and my hand in marriage. The demand for computers, software, screens, books, lunches, lights, projectors and funding for medical illustrations were a daily occurrence.

The stress of dealing with some of the docs was incredible. My biggest fear was having them ask me a question so I could blow my near zero technical credibility. I was relieved when Mike Komosinski told me, “Don’t worry about it, they never ask questions.” I queried, “How so?” “They already know everything.”

I had a cardiologist tell me once when I was a new rep, “Bobby, I don’t care if this shit cures cancer, if I don’t make money off it, I ain’t using it.” First wake-up call.

When I.V. Persantine, a pharmacological stress agent first came out, a big account called me and asked me to come over for their first time product use. I thought I was just going to witness the infusion, so I did what any sales rep would do, bought doughnuts. But no, they wanted me to orchestrate the procedure. OMG! If I hadn’t kept my eye on the protocol poster I had given them previously, I would have gone up for murder.

I called my boss Sully later from under my bed and asked if I was covered for malpractice.

The point I’m trying to make here is, it looks like an enviable position to be in, but nothing could be further from the truth. I never held a position before or after my 13 year stint in sales, that carried that much stress. And every year the nut went up. Every year you had to get more creative. Or be discovered.

Did I skirt the law? Big time. Did I sit in my car in my garage in my underwear with the engine running telling my boss I was in Tucson? Guilty! Did I wake up in a hospital administrator’s house with a freshly signed contract? Guilty! Did I submit for cash expenses that ended up being tucked in some stripper’s garter belt? Wicked guilty! But I brought home the proverbial bacon.

So in the scheme of things was an ice carving such a big deal? Not compared to what it costs to land the big fish. It was just the cost of doing business in the good old U.S.A. When your dealing with human beings, all bets are off.

It was sometimes a dirty business, but someone had to do it. 🙂

Bob O’Hearn

 

Conspiracy:


It starts out randomly. I have a heated political conversation with a neighbor in my parking lot. On my way to a gig, someone cuts me off on Route 2. Not only does Mass. License RS 6788 try to cause me great harm, he produces all the latest hand gestures to cement the deal. It was personal.

Then I arrive at the gig to support my friend in his pursuit of his life long endeavor. It doesn’t go well at first. He struggles. Though he pulls it out, we are white knuckled and nervous from the ordeal.

Rough night. I drive home with the radio off.

I get home to an idiotic e-mail from a certifiable dingbat on her side of the family. Chest tightens. I pound out a vitriolic missive while my doggies clamor nervously for attention. “I’ll show that bitch.” When I’m done, I wisely delete it. Catharsis complete, I rush my poop- filled kids down the stairs. It’s 11:00 pm. Late.  I hyperventilate viciously on the back stairs, then I start my recount.

In a few sporadic episodes, I have determined that life isn’t so grand. In fact, it can be downright cruel. Brrrr. The covers have been ripped off and what I see ain’t pretty. What was I thinking? You can never relax your guard.

I add up all the events of the evening and quickly come to my conclusion: conspiracy.

What else could it be?

Everyone is surely out to get me. Look at all the random evidence, you honor. The guy in the parking lot. Ma. RS6788, my devastated friend, and my looney, soon-to-be-ex, in-law. Is there any doubt?

Introducing the Conspiracy Gene, although it needs no introduction. Aka the personal pile-on. We all have one and it’s a cunning little devil, ain’t it?

Comedians…

 

… are not funny. Not funny, you heard me. The ones that I have been up close and personal with over the years, have been cranky, petty, neurotic, self-possessed, vindictive, self-serious, paranoid, lethargic and weepy. Those are the positives.

In my dealings with them over the years, I have never experienced another type of human being that thinks the world is trying to plagiarize their every brilliant thought. I came again last night to be in close proximity to yet another such genius. He’s been on the road since Hector was a pup.

What you see, will never be what you get. In their defense, their lives suck. Only existing in the daylight hours like some unemployed vampire, they roam the belly of any Motel 6, Comfort or Days Inn, eating scraps of whatever they can forage from the nearby pancake house, they pray for darkness. It is then when they come alive and devour the senses of their prey.

And woe be to the clown who imbibes a little too much and slips into a defenseless Tourette’s while sitting stage side. Then the misery and self-loathing that been running down his leg all day can be spewed all over his unsuspecting audience.

My theory is that comedy is a type of repressed, existential rage. Of this I know first hand. Who doesn’t delight in the destruction of all that we hold dear? Politics, religion, marriage and other silly customs, our bodies, our weight, our hygiene habits and most of all our neuroses.

That’s the stuff baby. So the next time you pay to see one of these street urchins deconstruct themselves on stage, remember, he’s just as fucked-up as the rest of us. If not more so. Thanks for coming out tonight Don’t forget to tip  your waitress over.

1960

“At least he isn’t fresh” – Nora O’Hearn

As I cruise into my twilight years and look back over my shoulder at my storied journey as a bipod, I’m thinking there is one year in particular I would delete. Or rather have expunged from the record. That would be 1960. I was thirteen crossing into fourteen. Although tentatively. In that year, I survived a bus accident, (of sorts) a two week hospital stay, (related) a school suspension, an expulsion, an ex-communication, a fine, numerous beatings and arrests. I took my first drink that year and felt up Beth Dorgin and Maureen Riser. (Shudder.)

It all started that winter when were “mushing.” Which is hanging off of car bumpers on a snowy street. Dangerous to say the least, but I happened to pick a bus. While hanging on the side latches, my left leg was pulled into the tire. I wound up in the middle of my street with a car on top me. That was my first life review. The ambulance took me to Somerville Hospital where I convalesced for almost two weeks. My leg was severely swollen but otherwise in good working order. The direct quote from my father as he leered over my hospital bed was, “Ya goddam fool, if the bus ran over your head, it would have tipped over.” Was I not loved?

So now I’m out of school for almost a month. That was when I first started aiming my Daisy BB rifle out of my cellar bulkhead at the Western Jr. High School windows, conveniently located behind my house, while school was in session. Oh, the thrill of all that terror raining down on those poor pukes trying to sneak a cigarette in the Boy’s and Girl’s rooms. James Cagney would have been proud. Having a dozen patrol boys and a gym teacher surround my house didn’t hurt my dream sequence either. Despite its proximity, I didn’t go to that school. I went to St. Clement’s, a mile away. For now.

Dr. Horn, the horn rimmed, flat topped warden of that facility, wanted my head. In no uncertain terms. He sent a bill for $200 dollars and some change for all the broken windows. A Kings Ransom at the time. Good luck with that I thought, we couldn’t afford milk.

So now I’m back in school. Eighth grade, Sister Edweena. Seems my deportmentship took a hit while on sabbatical. I began to tear away at the fabric of all things Catholic and they could take it no more. I was asked, uh, told, to leave. Expelled. I remember the sight of all my books raining down on top of me from the second floor window on that sunny spring day as I crossed the school yard. The Catechism they could have kept, I wouldn’t need it where I was headed.

As usual, Pop got all the news. At once. I remember laying on the top bunk in the boy’s room when the BB gun came crashing down across my knees. Then a quick yank and a journey to the floor. The pain in my knees mitigated the impact of the upward rushing linoleum. Seems like that “chastisement” went on all night. The bus accident paled in comparison.

September. I’m only fourteen so I still have to attend a school which puts me smack dab (you guessed it) in Dr. Horn’s office. “Sonny, he said, (He called everyone Sonny) where is my broken window money? The year continued it’s downward spiral. He never got his dough as my zig continued to zag.

The next year, sensing a no-win, my mother finally relented and wrote the letter that would seal my fate as one of the youngest dropouts in Somerville history. At 15 years and 3 months I was finally free to pursue my dream as an (unlicensed)  pizza truck driver. The year after that I was cordially invited by the Division of Youth Services to be their guest for almost a year. Will the hits ever stop coming? No, they never did.

A few years after that, I was sunning myself on a beach in South Vietnam with all the luxury that affords, as you can imagine. Extricated from the mean streets of Somerville courtesy of the largest draft in U.S. history. Still better duty than being the paddy wagon test dummy in Davis Square on a Friday night.

So 1960? The year that started it all? Not so much. The only thing of note was the Pope reading a letter from Fatima, in which we anticipated the end of the world and JFK getting elected. Otherwise, if you wouldn’t mind ripping that page out, crumpling it up into a ball, and making the two-pointer to that bucket over there, I’d be much obliged.

Ketosis: Living off the fat of the land.

Disclaimer: I’m not a genius but I play one in real life.

I am writing this article from the great state of Ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. Known generally as a Ketogenic Diet or “Keto.”

A keto diet is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.

When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.

  • Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.

In simple terms, I have switched fuel sources. It’s ketones baby, ketones.

One thing leads to another: Six months ago, while trying to find a suitable replacement for my yucky, sugar-filled French Vanilla coffee creamer at the health food store, I stumbled onto a lot of information about this ketogenic diet. Life changer. This was also my introduction to Bulletproof Coffee. Also called butter coffee. You make your coffee normally, then add grass fed butter and coconut oil and put the whole mess in a blender. Yumeee!

So let me tell you my experience over the last few months. I am experiencing  a huge loss of appetite, increased focus, energy, drive and a better night’s sleep. Since I am using fat for energy, I am coaxing those troublesome little pockets of flab from my midsection and retaining muscle mass from all my hard work at the gym. Which will throw you off if you live your life according to scale weight. Like the baby and the bath water, when you lose weight eating normally, you lose muscle too. Not interested.

So that’s just the Cliff Notes of my latest experiment: Me. Feel free to click on the hyperlinks or get back to me here if you want more information. I have just touched on the tip of an iceberg.

Hmmm. Let’s see where’d I put that stick of butter?

From Detox To Reeboks

A funny thing happened to me on my way to hell. I took the MA. 111 Exit into Ayer for what I thought was some brief sustenance and shelter. Or to wait for the grim reaper. Freshly released, although tentatively, by the VA Hospital from addictions to all things harmful, I was as shaky as a new born calf. Beyond a dying (dead?) marriage, a decaying business and an even deader bank account. (Think less than zero.) What’s not to like?

Those days are a blur as I was still pretty jacked up (or down) with Seroquel, Mirtazapine and healthy portions of blood pressure meds to counteract the stroke they were sure was on the way. Seems Xanax and alcohol are a no-no.  Creeping up on 70 at the time, this wasn’t the picture I had been painting for my declining years.

Walking into my new claustrophobic confines, a small, pet friendly apartment tastefully furnished in a Davis, Crawford et al, design, I fetched my two puppies and settled in for a long cold winter.

Those first few months were brutal. As I was to learn later, I wasn’t fully detoxed from Xanax. It takes quite a while. Living in stroke territory takes a toll. My wife said, “You’ll probably want to get started on that divorce you’ve been talking about.” Huh? I must of killed off more brain cells than I thought. Yes, I wanted out but I didn’t think I was so vocal about it. Very confusing times indeed.

As the weeks and months passed, I started to accept my fate. Although I thought this would be the episode of my life I would be drinking and drugging through. My timing sucks!

One morning I looked in the mirror at myself and word associated, “pear”. That’s what I resembled, a friggin’ pear. Oh my God! What have I done? I turned myself into a popover. Generous portions of belly fat cascading over the top of my belt buckle. Yech! My deliberately intentioned body was gone. I had just one ab now and it was blocking the view of my feet. What’s next, a moo-moo?

One Sunday morning, on one of my many cathartic walks, I stumbled upon a nondescript, stand-alone building with a bunch of cars in the parking lot. I looked in the window and saw it was packed with weights, treadmills, bikes and heavy duty racks. Can this be? A half mile from my new digs? 24 Hour Access? Get outa here! I joined.

Bonus paragraph: On top of all that good news, the Nashua Rail Trail is exactly 45 seconds from my new door step. An 11 mile shot to Nashua starting in Ayer. A beautiful, scenic, endorphin filled bike ride all the way into New Hampshire. Love it.

Exercise soothes the soul and did my soul ever need soothing. I hit the weights and never looked back. Believing that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, it didn’t take long to start shaping me up again. My self esteem started inching up. My sleep patterns changed. I weaned myself off those cautionary doses from the VA and tightened up my diet. I’m back to flexing in the mirror again. 🙂

None of the drugs I ever took could make me feel this good. None.

I am now on the road to becoming a Certified Personal Trainer. At 71, this October, I will be giving as good as I get and helping folks like me get a leg up. Literally. I never was a silver lining guy but I’m coming around.

It’s true, Rock and Roll never forgets!

Bob O’Hearn

Vanity Is Fair

In 1969, I had many reasons to dislike Billy Burns. And on this one particular night at O.D.’s, a nightclub in Cambridge, I was about to get one more. I was sitting up at the bar with my then girlfriend, Debbie, when he approached us to grace us with his presence. I suffered through the amenities and noticed he was wearing a three piece suit, a very tailored three piece suit, and as usual, he was full of himself. Gag!

After he left to bestow the gift of himself on other unsuspecting patrons, I muttered, “What a creep, huh?” Debbie responded with “But he has the most beautiful body, though.” Though? THOUGH? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I stared down at my protuberance, winded and wounded. I’m thinking, not him, Jesus please, not him. If rat poison cocktail was on the bar menu I would have ordered one. And drank it. I was out of my body for the rest of the night trying to staunch the bleeding to my wounded ego. I had dreams of Debbie asking him if she could feel his bicep. Dreadful.

The next morning I was at Sears in Porter Square buying one those metal spring chest expanders Charles Atlas was always hawking and proceeded to wreak havoc on my once sedentary, fleshy, complacent body. I was relentless. When my brother noticed the clumps of hair trapped in the springs and my irritated nipples, he asked me if I was using them correctly. Who cares? That goddam Billy Burns was making my life miserable. “Though” still ringing in my ears, I continued pinching the rest of my chest hairs off.

Sometimes a poke in the proverbial belly is all it takes to get us to tighten ourselves up. That was fifty years ago and no matter what I was going through in life I still took my iron pills. I was once escorted out of a Holiday Health Spa in Newton on a Saturday night because I was drunk. Sadly, they thought little of my efforts.

Vanity can be a double edged sword but if it can bring us around to taking better care of ourselves then why not? In the end I have Billy Burns and my insensitive girlfriend to thank for pumping me up. Billy was the first guy I ever knew who put the word Narcissus in a sentence. I will never forget that night as painful as it was, and Billy will always have my deepest respect. Kinda.

I Sat This One Out

I didn’t vote. Plain and simple. I abstained willfully and without prejudice. I chose to sit this one out. I don’t have to dance if I don’t like the music. And this music sucked.

Some people who do vote, don’t have enough information to pass a smell test. They go off of wild, visceral reactions to people they’ve never met and actually think they’re voting their conscience. Maybe they are.

Lots of folks vote their W.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me?) Some folks actually vote one way because they hate the other way. Their choice.

When I was a kid, I remember all the fanfare about the Kennedys and that Camelot thing. Most of the talk about JFK from the women voters at the time was how nice looking he was. There’s command of the issues for you. It still goes on today.

We find out later he was a drug addicted, serial philanderer who almost got the world blown up.

His father made a deal with the mob, JFK and his little brother betrayed them and history will tell you the rest.

I once asked my father during the conventions at the time if we were Republicans or Democrats. He said “Democrats, we’re working people.” See? Let’s all get in line and vote the straight party ticket. No thanks. I voted for Obama in 2008. He never did me any harm.

When people tell me it’s my duty to vote, I’m thinking, really? You could fill a state with what I don’t know about the issues. Most of those are above my pay grade anyway. I’m too busy enjoying my freedom from dictators and religious zealots to burrow in on pork subsidies.

Fifty years ago I put on a uniform, grabbed a rifle and headed off to some third world stink hole. That was my duty. My only duty. If I choose to sit one out because I ran out of clothespins, good on me. I make excuses to no one.

Though I will not hide my schadenfreude at the demise of the Clintons. They can shuffle off to Buffalo or wherever with my blessing.

The comedian Flip Wilson had a skit, years ago, about performers “staying on to long.” High time for them, I’m thinking.

Yes, democracy sucks. But if we all really want to vote responsibly, I’m thinking there ought to be a test. One I surely won’t pass.

 

In The System

It’s 5:00 pm, Tuesday, July, 23, 1963. This morning I was surrendered to the custody of the Division of Youth Services, State of Massachusetts, by the dishonorable Judge Robert DeMarco. He was a crook.

My head is newly shaven, I have a fat lip, black eye and the familiar smell of dried blood is clogging up my snot locker. I am sore all over from the drubbing my father gave me out of sight of onlookers at the Somerville Court House. I have had better days.

There are about 15 of us newly committed kids on this particular day in the recreation hall and we’re all sizing each other up. I smell a mix of chlorine and rotten meatloaf. The setting sun is trying desperately to get past the filthy smudges on the wire braced windows to light up the room.

I was here earlier in the year in the detention section because I couldn’t afford bail on another charge. I swore I would never be back. I was back.

We hear a gym whistle go off down the hall but no one knows what to make of it. We would shortly. Then, we hear sneakers, lots of them, sounding like a chopper landing in the distance. Boom! They were on us like stink on shit. Six big men wearing t-shirts, khakis and white sneakers. The routine was, punch you in the face, pick you up by your neck, head butt you, drop you and move on.

I hope one of them, Mr. Chandler, the expert at this technique, died of blunt force trauma.

Oh my God, what the hell is this? This was way overkill. I had arrived pre-crippled already thanks to my father. “Hey, I’m good over here.”

What it was, was a welcome to the system and to let you know who the boss was. Three years later, I would receive a similar welcome by drill sergeants at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, as a newly minted draftee. But that was nowhere near as brutal as this.

I cried myself to sleep for weeks as my tough guy veneer started wearing off.

Here is a description of the place from the book: Abominable Firebug, written by Richard B. Johnson,

“The large room was called the “dayroom” because that was where the inmates spent their days. The sleeping quarters consisted of a small concrete room containing two iron bed-frames embedded in concrete. These had been fashioned out of welded angle-iron and steel plate. A thin mattress with no inner-springs was placed on this frame. Each boy was given a single blanket, no sheets, and no pillow. Although designed for two boys, these rooms often contained more than two, with the extra boys sleeping on the floor.

The entrance to the room was guarded by a thick oaken door with an industrial strength observation window containing embedded wire mesh. It had a lock that required a massive key which the “sirs” often used as torture devices as well. Each room also had a *window to the outside that consisted of an iron frame with embedded mesh glass. The windows would only open a small distance so escape was impossible. Toilet facilities were not provided in the rooms, so boys who needed to urinate, would try to aim their stream out the partially-opened window which was shoulder high.

Passerby may observe the rusty urine stains on the outside walls formed from the corners of the windows. If the “sirs” would unlock the doors, boys could be escorted to the toilet facilities. *Unfortunately, in the nighttime, the “sirs” were usually otherwise occupied.”

*Editor’s note: He fails to mention the smell in these rooms in the midday sun and the fate of any kid foolish enough to bang on the door to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Terrifying.

I was there for almost four months as they compiled a home report on me to use as sentencing guidelines for my next phase of incarceration. As luck would have it, I copped a spot at the State Police Barracks in Middleboro, Mass. Easy time I thought, but life had other plans.

On October 4, 1963, my parole officer, Robert Fitzgerald, took me to the now defunct, Robert Hall Men’s Clothing Store, to shine me up for my upcoming formal introduction to Captain George Luciano, who rolled right out of central casting.

This is where I met State Trooper Marvin Pratt, who took the worst kind of liking to me. This guy would teach my stomach to bleed. He attempted things on me that would make the front pages today. He never got me.

Later in life, I heard he got himself surrounded by his fellow troopers while in a motel with a 9 year old boy. Hope he’s with Mr. Chandler today. But that’s another story.

 

Off The Streets

I love watching police interrogations because they start every one with an open-ended question. “What happened?” Sales people know the value of casting a wide net and use it to home in on the customer’s WIFM, the “What’s In It For Me?”

Police use this tactic to open floodgates of wide-ranging information.

In 1963, I was accused of stealing a car. I didn’t. Johnny Silva, my Eddie Haskell-like neighbor did it and accused me to spare himself some jail time. At 18, he was considered an adult, and Johnny-boy thought as a still-juvenile, I could do the time standing on my head. I would have preferred doing the time standing on his head.

In those days, an O’Hearn conviction was promotion-worthy at Union Square Police headquarters.

So they grab me off the street and run me down to the oft-visited station. They tell me the jig’s up because Silva spilled the beans. I laugh in their face. They threaten to bring Johnny up from the holding cell to confront me. I’m laughing again. Bring-it-on!

So the rat bastard comes into the room and he’s shackled hand and foot. He had other charges to deal with. This sniveling piece of shit picks up his cowering head and says, “C’mon Bobby, admit it, you stole that car.” I lose it. Only in the movies would someone have the balls to do that.

I’m up and out of the chair and pounced on immediately by my friends in blue. This was almost laughable. They take him out and I’m left there sobbing tears of outrage. My friend, my buddy, my confidante. I didn’t do it. They must have wanted me really bad. I make a mental note to break both his kneecaps or worse. I gotta get out of this mess first.

Now I’m inconsolable. Earlier that month I was held for a week at the facility I was sure to be heading back to pending a court date. What I saw there cured of my Cagney-esque machinations. No, thank you.

So now I’m in full denial mode. Some of these cops really hated Silva and this last performance of his did nothing to endear him to them. They smelled the rat too.

In deep depression, I’m sticking with my story. The memory of my last visit to “Youthie” is etched upon my mind. I could still smell that place.

These cops are getting nowhere fast with me, so they bring in this dashing young lieutenant in a blinding white shirt and an impeccably tied tie. He looks at me and says “get in to my office.” Now we’re getting somewhere.

He reads the complaint against me, exhales deeply and says, “You should have better friends.” I agree wholeheartedly but leave out the part where I kill Johnny and burn his fucking house down.

He drops the file, leans forward and stares deeply into my eyes. He says, “I’m only going to ask you this once. Did you steal that car?” No sir, I said with the conviction only an innocent man could muster.

He says, “OK, sign this and go home to your family.” Oh, there is a God. I can put off killing Silva for a couple of weeks and still enjoy the summer.

Ah, not so fast Bucko. Mr. White Shirt didn’t get to be a lieutenant directing traffic. It turns out he didn’t believe me. At all. In my haste, I signed a full confession. When the summons came to the house, I thought it might be for me to be a witness against my nemesis. Surely, I could manage that.

So the day comes. It’s Tuesday, July, 23, 1963. As usual, my mother doesn’t tell my father. They could go years without speaking. She throws the summons on his chest just as he wakes up. It’s a work day day for a cash strapped father of ten. When I left the house, it was still dark. I’m no fool. He left the house in a murderous rage. At the Somerville Court House, I end up late for my appearance and they issue a warrant for me.

When I did make it and started heading upstairs for the juvenile session, guess who I run in to? Between floors, where we can be intimate? The radiator and both my Daddy’s fists, in that order. When they dragged what was left of me in front of the judge, all the cops were in denial, “It wasn’t us, your honor.”

Johnny Silva wasn’t there. He copped a plea and walked. Me? I was off the street for almost a year. The illusion that my life and all of its challenges would merely be suspended was way off. The fun was just beginning. If I knew what was waiting for me while I was a ward of the state, I would have gone on the run. But that’s another story.

Baby Bloomers!

What the new “70” looks like.

I am loving this “turning seventy” thing. Like the man falling from a fifty story building and half way down says, “so far so good.”

As one of the first boomers to cross the finish line into their seventies, I’m finding some of the things I thought would go out on me, didn’t. What to do with all this life experience in a durable mind and body? Having outlived my closest parent by three years, which was my mother, and four of her years, were bedridden.

As Eubie Blake an American composer, lyricist, and pianist once said, “If I’d a known I was gonna live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Well I did, despite a couple of bouts of needless self destruction. It seems the body can handle what the mind dishes out, if I’m any example.

Getting to this moment in my life has been a pleasant surprise to say the least. Everything still works and pretty well, I might add. Now what do I do with that wheelchair in the garage? No joke, I was using it for camera work and thinking it might serve me later. I entertain no such thoughts now.

We live in a world today, where if I get hit by a car, the news will report me as “elderly” and whatever death I experience will most likely be attributed to “natural causes.” What do you expect? He was old.” This is new for all of us in the boomer category.

Most likely you won’t pass away sipping lemonade on your paid off front porch. You’ll be hustling to keep up the lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to right to the end. Twenty years of bonus existence. Yikes!

Get thy shit together 🙂

Doctor’s Orders?

doctors-orders

“Take two of these and call me in the morning.”

As you can probably tell, having hit the big 7-0, I have a fixation with primarily two things: my physical condition and how my age group is being utilized in the business world. You can peruse the obituaries and see how many of  my contemporaries  are being felled by a multitude of illnesses. If “Life is not a dress rehearsal” ever rang true, it’s now.

I’m seeing a whole bunch of seventy-somethings just starting out on the most difficult career paths of their lives. Especially in the political world. I don’t mind dying but I don’t want it to be by my own hand. I’ll be sick enough without regrets, thank you.

So last night, I went to the gym to do some aerobics because of weather. I usually like to ride my bike outside or enjoy a brisk walk with my dogs. I’ve never ridden a stationary bike over there yet so I thought I would give it a try.

They have TVs all over the place but I would rather watch people and their exercise routines. The folks I see usually fall into two groups: The self motivated, semi-narcissistic group (me) and the “doctor’s order’s” group.

The self motivated group I call peacocks. If ever you wanted to see someone enjoying the benefits, it’s them.

The “doctor’s orders” body language is unmistakable. They were sent, not driven. They have that lost look as they move from machine to machine and never look in the mirror. They’ll either have a trainer or a piece of paper that dictates the order and repetitions of each exercise. The look of resignation is all over them. Been there, done that.

The “doctor’s orders” group has yet to receive that bio feedback that keeps most of us coming back for more. That’s too bad, because they have yet to know the patience and confidence that comes with a positive lifestyle change. I’ve had to do it many times in my own life and know about the struggle first hand.

Like the brain, the human body is set up to work and whatever doesn’t get used will atrophy. I’m not going to wait for my wake up call or some out of shape physician to send me packing to some gym, I’m going to take my iron pills today  so I can deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. I will go out swinging.

Statin Island

head-pain

The fact that I even have to write this, pisses me off more than words. Ten years ago my doctor wrote me a prescription for a statin drug. Yes, the same one who wrote me for Xanax, Soma and Ambien. In the months and years that followed, I was plagued with muscle pain, headaches and dizziness. I couldn’t even pick up my computer bag. It put an end to almost all my physical activities. I never put the two together.

When I saw my doc about it, she farmed me out to a neurologist who prescribed Relpax for me with the bromide, “You are getting older, you know.” Soon, the Relpax began causing rebound headaches and I was on a slow journey to my wit’s end. I’m afraid to think what I would have taken to end my pain.

Meanwhile, all I’m getting is a quizzical look from my doc. I started looking my symptoms up on line and getting statin side effects. Back to querying my doc. She said, ” I don’t think that’s what you’re having, those side effects are not very common.” Now, I’m despondent. I’m gonna be some cranky old fat guy who is always in a bad mood because he has a headache.

Three neurologists later, I call the doctor’s office and instead of the doc I get her head nurse. I tell her I’m at the airport in Miami and my head is coming off my shoulders. I’m looking for some pain meds as my personality usually dictates.

She says, ” Well, you’re on a statin and that is the most common side effect.” YGBSM! I tell her I’m coming over there when I get back and they better get their story straight. I’m really worried because from what I’ve read, some of this muscle damage is irreversible.

So I see the doc and now she is singing a different tune. I stopped the statin at the Miami airport. What is going on here? Madness.

One good day:

By now, you’re probably thinking I would have doctor-shopped myself out of this particular dilemma but it was not to be. She had already started me on an anti-anxiety med, muscle relaxers and a sleep med. The hook was set. I wasn’t going anywhere. At that point all I’m looking for is one good day. That was my mantra when I opened my eyes in the morning and my last prayer for the next day every night.

This would start the soul selling situation that would plague me for years.

The other guy:

Needless to say, none of my behavioral changes sat well with my wife. I never noticed that I was in a fog and she wasn’t. Ambien is a class of drug called a hypnotic. One of the side effects is that while you may appear awake, you are actually dreaming and you might incorporate what you’re dreaming about into your normal conversation. Which, as you can imagine, spooked the Bejeesus out of my wife.

The next morning when I would ask her about something, she would say, “The other guy did it.” The other guy referring to whoever it was in the living room with her. “OK, I get it,” I would say, but there was no way it was going stop me from getting some relief whether I was in pain or not. By that time I didn’t need it. But too late.

I’m usually a pretty suspicious person and I’ve seen docs do some pretty sketchy things when I was a rep, but denial gets stronger as willpower grows weaker. I had been pain seasoned and I was not going back. That took up a lot of years. Unbeknownst to me, my wife would set up an appointment with my doc just to yell at her. “Have you ever looked at his chart?” If I had known what she was doing, I most likely would have tried to stop her. Junkie problems.

I have since left my primary care doc and now get all my medical care from the VA. With their help I was weaned off of all the things that were stifling me. I still look back on those days with suspicion and question that doctor’s intent. Hippocrates as marketer? We’re lucky we have on-line resources these days if for nothing better that to ask intelligent questions. And we should. “Be careful” is a doctor’s C.Y.A. Don’t fall for it.

 

Free Fall

free-fall

Single at seventy. Who’d a thunk? Actually, me. I’ve always been single, at least in my mind. Never had kids. Being the oldest of ten cured me of that. Always been a loner, kept my own counsel and usually minded my own business. Just had to find that someone who would put up with my isolationist world view. Did that. Now, everything I own is in a POD in Nashua, NH, percolating and waiting for orders.

I live, for now, in a small apartment with two little dogs, a bike, a guitar and my trusty computer. Gone are the trappings that damn near choked the life out of me. Two houses, three cars, enough computer and camera equipment to staff Fox News. What is it they say about boys and their toys?

There is a lightness in my step these days. The weight of all that responsibility having been shuffled during my long overdue stay at a VA Rehab. I moved from there to a hotel until I could get my bearings and then I started the long slow process of finding me again. I must admit to being shaky at first and disoriented for sure.

Being yanked off of alcohol and Xanax is no small feat. Done hastily or incorrectly, the Xanax by itself could have put me down. My blood pressure was testing its limits at that time.  I was in stroke territory most of that period. While I was there, my life and everything in it was being reshuffled. I awoke to a new reality. Today.

 Being single, once it gets out, is a very interesting place to be these days. Women in my demographic do not play games. There is no flirty gamesmanship, no eye batting behind a nervous smile. Time seems to be a’wastin’.

I am probably in the best physical condition of my life. I take each day as it comes and that means taking nothing for granted. I battled doctor prescribed anxiety meds as well as muscle relaxers and sleep medication for years. If I can survive that…

I was a nine on the misery index. Glad to get that “jones” off my back. Who knows what life has in store? Beats me, I’m still falling.

Standin’ On Shaky Ground.

shaky_ground

Logical people…..don’t get it. The binary, black or white, good and evil, it’s either in, or it’s out kind of folks who can’t see past their glasses. The kind that needs to have you coach them so they can upsell your concept to their management. “I got this, Bob.” But they don’t got this, Bob.

Scary. Logical people. They make your terra not so firma.

I remember once pitching a Spanish version of a patient education video to a group of pharma marketers and being given the third degree by a guy with a calculator wanting to know exactly how much we could make off of each video. I told him we weren’t in the video business. It would be used as a marketing/teaching/sales, tool.

It went over like a fart in a space suit. I mean, who has answers like that to a concept? Not me, I’m an idea guy. Those people scare me.

Like the old joke: Know the difference between an elephant and a loaf of bread? When the reply is no, you casually mention that you won’t be sending them to the grocery store any time soon. Kinda like that.

If the person you are pitching to has to be spoon fed, you have every right to feel shaky. It means when the whip comes down, and it will at some point, you will be one of the first to go. If they don’t intrinsically have any idea  of your value and your potential down the road, start shakin’. You have my permission.

I missed a cut once at a pharma outfit and didn’t know why. I was ready to go. More than ready, actually, I was packed. Then they gave me the news. “You still have a job  here if you want it.”

After I unpacked and grieved over missing that big fat juicy package, I asked around as to motive. I asked because in all the time I was back in-house, no one had shown an inkling of understanding of my potential. My mama didn’t raise no fools.

The ground started to rumble at this point. One manager even posited that I missed the cut because people liked me and liked working with me. “I mean, who doesn’t like Bob?”

Well, I certainly wasn’t going to give him any names.

Having spent a good deal of my career in sales, I was very good about asking open ended questions to get a feel on someone’s thinking. What I usually got back from upper management was enough to tell my wife to start looking for housing back out west again. See the part about “mama” and “fools” again.

Years ago, I had a guy teach me the C Scale on the guitar. The next time I saw him, I showed him that I was able to pick out that same scale extended all the way down the neck. He told me how rewarding it was to help someone who could take things all the way out to their logical conclusions. I never forgot that. Take an idea an add to it.

Always ask those open ended questions when pitching  any creative offering. Try to gauge their understanding of what you are bringing to the table. That way, you will always know where you stand, shaky or not. You should never be surprised. Ever.

I wish I had a nickel for all the times I heard, “I don’t get it.” I felt the ground rumble every time.

They weren’t gonna get it, cause I wasn’t gonna give it. Get it?

 

 

 

 

See me, feel me, touch me …. pay me.

Drunken Salute

Catch 23?

You used me, but that’s OK, it’s what I do.

I was just looking through some old footage I produced for a company developing their values program. I met with the head of HR and she told the “team was stuck.” They had reached a creative impasse if you like and besides shooting interviews and b-roll, she would like me to attend a developmental meeting and break the log jam. I, of course, couldn’t wait. When I arrived on the designated morning, I was greeted by the V.P. of HR and the V.P. of Marketing. When the three of us entered the too small room I could see I had my work cut out for me.

There were at least 15 attendees and they were in the middle of  one of their all too frequent arguments. They paused long enough to hear my introduction and got right back to what they were arguing about. Now, here’s what I thought was interesting, both V.P.s moved their seats from the table to the back wall. They were getting out of the line of fire. No sooner had they repositioned themselves, when someone lobbed, “What do you think, Bob?”

This was not my first rodeo and had seen the efforts of outsiders torn asunder. There was a veteran consultant sitting across from me taking copious notes and looking all the worse for wear. I said, “Democracy is hard, isn’t it?” I didn’t realize how hard democracy really was until I saw what they had so far. It sounded like the kids they were. Now I know why the V.P.s withdrew. They were in the middle of a pissing match in which there would be no winners. Only whiners. Good move. They’re probably still in their positions. They are, I just checked.

So I went back to my studio and drafted up a few adult ideas that would not induce a gag when offered up to board members. I e-mailed a new graphic and suggestions to replace “cool” and “humble.” What I got back was the unwillingness to change anything, even though they thought what I had put together was better by far. Ambushed, I thought. They didn’t want to be the villain, so why not bring in the outside antagonist to don the bulls-eye outfit?

Long story short, we got through it but I’m wondering how they’ll feel about their values once they get old enough to vote.

If you’re in the middle of a project like this and you need to change targets, call me. (See title)

Bob O’Hearn
President & CEO

508-517-6714
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Disappointment:

Sizing them up

I pulled this piece out of a book I’m writing entitled, “Churn: And other gut feelings.”  

Disappointment is a funny thing. If you disappoint someone either you give a shit or you don’t. It first happens when you’re younger, and you don’t know what to make of it. You have to figure out what that person means to you before you can decide how to feel. With me, disappointing others became a way of life.

What would be considered unthinkable today on the disappointment scale, was considered every day life to me back then. “Oh, they’re yelling again, big deal, as long as they don’t hit me.”

Seems as I got older, my sphere of disappointees grew larger and I had to constantly bob and weave. Like running from a bunch of bookies I owed money to, they were always gunning for me. My evasive tactics could chop up my roaming territory in a big way. If I ended up in the wrong place, I could get hurt. Today, I can’t imagine having someone think really ill of me without getting ill myself.

It was that first day of school in your gut, every day. A feeling I had to adjust to all the way up into adulthood. Then it became an out by design. I remember breaking up with someone when I was older, offering, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Lessen their expectations. Always let them know how fucked up you are up front. You are aware also, that when someone tells you they are disappointed in you, they are manipulating you.

Bob O’Hearn
President & CEO
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Getting in over your head.

Leaving your comfort zone.

Let’s see, where do I begin. My whole life has been a series of of unexpected, out of nowhere experiences. So much so, I hesitate to look down the barrel of the obvious. The big, life changing opportunity came for me when I was participating in a “career day” type of internal exercise when I was working on the dock for Dupont.

In those days, the most you could expect to grow starting from that position was maybe a lead person or at a stretch, a supervisor. That’s all I expected and that’s all I thought I could achieve anyway, things being what they were, education, business experience. For me, a solid goose egg.

During that meeting, I was asked a series of canned questions which I handled in my usual upbeat manner. My job, to me, was a cakewalk. I actually thought I was back in kindergarten, truth be told. Before that, I was manacled to a hot stove in the restaurant business. I knew the meaning of hard work and this was anything but.

When I was through answering questions, an area director took the floor and said, “I think Bob would make a great supervisor in a couple of years.” Fair enough, I thought.” Right down the pipe.

Then a voice in the back, with some frustration hollered, “Are you guys crazy? This guy belongs in sales. No doubt in my mind.” I’m thinking, “Who’s this disillusioned fellow?” I thought I would hold my breath until they escorted him out of the room. Still, he persisted. Guess this guy had some sway but it was still a bit embarrassing. When through, they thanked me for my time and I left thinking” Who the hell was that guy? I would soon find out.

He had just come in from the field and was slated for a marketing position but got sidetracked into Customer Service. He wasn’t happy. I saw him in the hallway one day and I thanked him for his vote of confidence and told him, “I appreciate what you did the other day but in all honesty, I don’t know anything about sales or have the technical background to sell those products.” He said, “Look, it’s not about the technical stuff, sales is about people. Period.”

Well alrighty then, I thought, but I still had a long way to go. In the next few months I had to run the gauntlet of muckety-mucks who agreed with my first assumption. It was leveling. At one point I gave up and settled back in to my day job. You can only stick your face in the oven so many times.

Six months later, my office phone rang “You ready, Bobby?” I was off and running. Had no idea what I was going to do but damned if I wasn’t going to do it. I took over the Arizona- New Mexico territory with a smile, a joke and a package insert. In that order. It was a good run and needless to say, way out of my comfort zone. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Stay open to the crazy stuff. It’s there for the taking.

Bob O’Hearn
President & CEO
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Exercise In Futility? Think Again!

muscle-business-man

“I’m seeing ‘tings”

I’ve been getting good bio-feedback lately, in that, at 70, my muscle memory still remembers me. Or. as Robert De Niro would put it, “I’m seein’ ‘tings.” Since September 1, of this year, not expecting great results, I hit the gym and started taking my iron pills.

Instead of experiencing a “decline,” I’m “inclined” to believe that your muscle base never leaves and all you have to do is tighten up your diet, get some aerobics, (your choice) and hit the gym. This I can say, really works. At any age, may I dare add. And no one is more surprised than me.

Now, having a compulsive personality, (I can get hooked on stubbing my toe) and knowing addiction to anything has always worked in my favor (if it’s positive) and all I have to do is pull my starter cord and I’m off. (Don’t go there.)

I did a talk once on my version of compulsion at Salem State Teacher’s College and was roundly criticized for my approach. Which was titled “Switching Compulsions Mid Stream.” 🙂

A slovenly looking psychologist with two different socks and a smelly pipe led the charge. Glad he wasn’t there at the detox intake unit when I arrived some years later.

As I have written before, I spent 7 days at a VA rehab unit in Bedford  Ma. this past summer. The physical conditioning or the lack thereof on a lot of the staff, physicians included, was eye opening.

They were 10, 15, and twenty years or more, younger than me, and they were done, physically over, stick a fork in ’em. Weight training is not part of civilian culture anymore. Too bad.

How does a doc tell you to slim down, eat right and exercise, if it’s not part of their own daily regimen?

I know this, though, I have absolutely no plans on hanging around this planet in various states of disrepair, not if I can help it anyway. After all, life is tough enough, isn’t it?

On the way out of the gym today, the owner said, “Hey Bob, looking good, want to renew your membership?” I said “No, but I’ll take 10 feet of that mirror.”

Bob O’Hearn
President & CEO,

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One Minute You’re Out….

Resistance

I just had a this conversation with an old friend about how life can throw curve balls to even the most well intentioned. Let’s say you’re out with some friends or at a business meeting and you have a couple of drinks. Your not drunk, just pleasantly buzzed. On the way home, on a dimly lit street, you are doing the speed limit when you feel a bump. You think maybe it’s a pothole or a frost heave. Let’s say.

So you pull over to survey the damage. It’s not a pothole or a heave, it’s a human. Whoa! Now you got a problem. You call 911 and the responding officer is there in minutes. He looks around, checks the victim, asks what happened and you don’t know.

You get a breathalyzer and guess what? You’re just over the limit. Panic. Now the rest of the gang descends on the scene, local news, fire, ambulance, more police and the scene is cordoned off with crazy lights everywhere. Bingo, instant perp. There you are on the evening or early morning news, which ever comes first.

For the moment, no one seems to be paying much attention to the injured, all eyes are on you.

So they take you in and even though you have a spotless record, they gotta book you. You have to spend the night until probation comes in bright and early with a bail bondsman. There’s been a rash of hit and runs lately, so they need to tighten up on someone. That would be you. It’s $50,000 dollars bail.

Let’s see, that means $50 dollars on each thousand that you won’t get back. You can’t afford that because you’re recently divorced and paid a ton of alimony. Hard times, you can’t hit that nut.

Meanwhile, the person you unknowingly hit, expires. Bail goes up, you go down. Now your whole family’s involved. Calls go out for money to save you from county lockup. No help.

A friend of the family’s lawyer shows up and tells you not to worry. He’s thinking how he’s gonna sell your house to get paid. Now you’re in the system. You get the news you have to be held until court. Someone has to call work for you because you’re sick. But you forgot your boss was watching your life unfold on the 6:00 am news. Shit!

So it’s off to county where the denizens are just “dyin’ ta meetcha.” In here, it’s guilty until proven innocent, period. You don’t get a different color jump suit because you’re not a serial offender. You look like everyone else and treated the same way. Guards are not going to make sure your new neighbors don’t “get at you.” Let me disabuse you of that notion right now. They got their own problems.

So some ratty looking gang member wants to know which gang you’ll affiliate with and the downward spiral picks up speed. Another low life wants your sneakers. Now. “And what are you gonna do about it?”

Depending on what happens to you while you’re locked down, you get in a fight, (a very real possibility because you will be pushed to the extreme,) accept a gang offer, (they usually have  requirements that will put you at odds with the establishment,)  you’re fragile existence will do a 180. More time will be added and this is only a holding pen, not even real prison yet.

Your family is desperately trying to get you sprung to no avail. You’ll probably arrange financing in a week or so, most likely, too late. The enemies of society are just beginning to figure you out. In there you’re either a rat, a snitch or somebody’s bitch. They stole your bunk, your canteen, (which is food you can purchase to survive prison chow, if you should have a little money in your prison account,) your sneakers and your self respect. I won’t go any further here because I know you get it. Or, at least you should.

So let’s recap: Just out with friends, few drinks, an eventful ride home and this. You ask, “How can all this happen to me?” Life. Because once you think you’re out, you’re in.

Watch yourself out there.

 

 

What’s In Your Back Pack?

 

I pulled this little piece out of “Up In The Air” with George Clooney, because it rang true to me. It always has. Clooney’s character plays an HR consultant that flies around the country firing people. He also sidelines as a motivational speaker. What you’ll see here. What got me about the movie was the employee’s reaction to being let go. The shock. The disbelief. The ” what am I gonna do?” I never believed I “gave up” something for a company. I was always on the receiving end in my mind. It was a contract we both entered into like, ” a day’s pay for a day’s work.” I was never under any illusions. It was always, “all good but tentative.” The metaphorical backpack serves to illustrate a very good point. I’m traveling a lot lighter these days, myself.

Compared To What?

Imagination

Using the RFP (Request For Proposal) process to solicit new business can be a tricky endeavor. You don’t know who else is in the pool with you. Video projects can run the gamut from a few hundred, to tens of thousands of dollars.

An RFP is used where the request requires technical expertise, specialized capability, or where the product or service being requested does not yet exist and the proposal may require research and development to create whatever is being requested.

Not only are you supplying the price quote, you are sharing your approach, what I call in military terms, TO&E, Total Ordinance and Equipment. This is very valuable information. In essence, you are giving them a blueprint.

On the day the award is to be announced, you might not even get a phone call.

Some companies will use this process as a ruse to nail down an approach so they can take the project in-house or farm it out to a less qualified outfit for shorter money.

Sadly, I’ve seen both of these scenarios play out.

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose – Steely Dan