Here in the age of dysfunction, seek real success!

Over the years many of the people I have done workshops and keynote presentations for have asked me “how did you get to do what you do”? Some of them feel that they would like to walk a similar path and want advice as to how to follow in my footsteps. My usual response has been to tell them that we would have to spend a couple of days together in order for me to tell them the whole story. My journey to becoming an author, speaker and being on PBS took many years and was fraught with difficulty and hard times. I realize there are many similar stories, but I also have witnessed how much easier it is today to become “famous”. Andy Warhol’s predication that everyone would attain fifteen minutes of fame is now truly available. It really doesn’t matter if you’ve worked hard at your craft, studied, networked, or focus on being the best you can be. That type of criteria used to be the template for success. Today, if you can do something, anything that is considered bizarre, rude or dysfunctional, and you put yourself on YouTube, you have a good chance of “being discovered”. A case in point is Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video. It has had over 100,000 viewers. A company called Ark Music Factory will fly your child, who needs to be between the ages of 13-17 ,to Los Angeles, will write her a ”hit”, record it in a super-compressed auto tuned compression, shoot an edge detection overlay video and BAM!, your child can notch up a couple of thousand hits on YouTube and watch your dreams of being a pop-star parent percolate. No matter whether, you’re vegetable, mineral, or a bug, you can now make a fortune if you know how to work the viral community. How does any of this help us learn how to handle the inevitable ups and downs of arriving at our goals? Our failures are just as important as our successes. It seems that today failure is not an option and cannot be experienced since everyone is told they are capable of being able to do anything. Singing in particular can be manipulated by equipment to make you sound as if you can really sing. And even if you can’t there are plenty of people who will make you famous because you made a fool of yourself. Frankly I’m going to hold onto what I learned from my family of origin. Work hard at what you want to do, and do it with excellence in mind. Don’t get full of yourself and believe you’re better than you are. Be grateful towards those who help you along the way and never take your successes for granted.


I’m A Sucker for Verbal Hostage Taking.

I’ve noticed in the last several years that I’ve met more and more individuals who love to talk about themselves. They seem mesmerized by what their saying and leave little or no room for a response. One of my acquaintances hardly takes a breath. I’ve often wondered if he carries an oxygen tank in case he runs out of air. He seems to have a tremendous need to inform me of every minute of his day starting with breakfast. The content is often heavy in the area of his work life. Since he’s a musician he wants me to know who he’s playing with , what kind of people have hired him, how long it will take, and how much equipment he has to set up. I have tried to interrupt with even the shortest phrase like “that’s nice”, to no avail. I could and have left the phone for a few minutes to do something around the house, only to return and find that he didn’t even know I was gone.

Another individual I know finds it necessary to inform me of every activity her children are engaged in, what they wore to school and what TV shows they watch. One conversation she had with me was a vivid and detailed description of her latest dental procedure , which was a root canal. She practically had enough information to perform one herself. I literally jumped in at one point and suggested she might want to go to dental school. There was not even a giggle. She actually agreed with me and went on to give me another fifteen minutes on her trip to the supermarket and the vegetables she bought that she read would be good for her brain. I really wanted to respond that perhaps she might consider buying some tape for her mouth, and some cement to fill the hole in her head, but I held back.

Oh, I know I could get off the phone with some lame excuse, but I keep hoping that I might get a chance to respond. Either that or I’m a sucker for verbal hostage taking. I really feel the reason some people do this, is because we’re in a culture where being busy is more valuable than having deep, meaningful conversations. They have forgotten how to listen or how to engage the listener.

Maybe the next time you talk to someone, you should periodically say “what do you think”. If they don’t answer you know their probably vacuuming or cleaning the toilet.

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