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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

10 Guy's Guy-Approved Books with Life Lessons (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, August 11, 2017


Books can be powerful teachers. The special ones are just as influential as the most important people in our lives. I have been a voracious reader my entire life and cannot think of a time when I wasn’t in the process of devouring another book. Every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but a few stand out for their lessons and how they impacted my life. Some of them are funny, some are sad, but each one shares key insights and lessons on how to face this thing we call life. With this I mind, I’d like to share ten books that made a mark on my thinking, my knowing, and my life. I hope you will check a few of them out and see if you connect with them the way they connected with me. Here goes, in no particular order, the first five books in what I am calling – The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Ten Books with Ten Life Lessons.

1. I AM THE WORD – Paul Selig – Sometimes you enter a bookstore to seek out a book you’ve heard about or have been looking for. Other times the book finds you. This book, by channel and empath, Paul Selig, caught my eye while I was biding time, waiting for my wife to buy crystals at a new age store off Fifth Avenue and 14th Street in New York. I Am The Word is the first in a series of five channeled texts (more are on the way) from a group of Guides that work through Paul. Selig describes himself as a radio frequency that picks up communications from the Guides that focus on man’s vibrational frequency and ascension. I had to read this book a few times before the message took root in my consciousness.

What did I learn? Simple. After reading Selig’s books, I now recognize every person who crosses my path as an aspect of the Divine Source. When you start there, amazing things happen.

2. POST OFFICE – Charles Bukowski – Many people who’ve seen the movie Barfly think that Bukowski was simply a humorous drunk. But he was much more. Bukowski grew up in an abusive household where he survived regular beatings from his father. When he was of age to leave, he wandered around California and then all of America, working sporadically in odd jobs like in a pickle factory before returning home to make his mark as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He is an amazing poet, as well as a talented essayist and novelist. Post Office is a novel. It’s a fictional depiction of his years toiling as a mail clerk before finally quitting his job at age 49 to write full-time on the advice of the publisher of Black Sparrow Press. All of Bukowski’s books are truthful, funny, and sad at the same time.

What did I learn? As an aspiring writer and a fellow human being who deals with pain and rejection like we all do, Bukowski’s works and writing skills both fascinated and inspired me to never stop following my dream no matter what obstacles confronted me.

3. MANCHILD IN THE PROMOISED LAND – Claude Brown – My older brother is a big reader also, so there were always books bursting from the small set of wooden shelves in the bedroom where we grew up. I was not even ten years old when I picked up his copy of Claude Brown’s tome about growing up in the very rough edges of Harlem in the fifties. This was the first serious book that I’d come across and I still recall it to this day. Junkies, pimps, whores, beatings and death splatter the pages of this incredible personal story of loss and redemption and triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. Brown describes a world that I knew nothing about.

What did I learn? I began to see the world from beyond my cushy suburban perspective and wanted to learn more about what too many people have to go through to survive and grow. And who knew? Now I live in Harlem.

4. STORY – Robert McKee – If you want to write, you need to find your voice and learn the craft. McKee’s book is considered the bible of screenwriting and of the art of crafting a story. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and penchant for creating characters and conflict, but until I read Story and attended a few of McKee’s seminars I’d never fully grasped the components that make up the engine of a good story.

What did I learn? I learned a lot from McKee, but the key takeaway was that a successful story consists of a main character that really wants something and faces an escalating set of obstacles to overcome before he can get it. Sounds simple? Try it sometime.

5. BALL FOUR – Jim Bouton – When I was sixteen I wrote a novella called, Off The Bench about our high school baseball team. I’d always been a good athlete and ballplayer, but by the time I reached my junior year I found myself riding the pines more often than I preferred. I used this time to observe my coaches and teammates, and the state of our team in a time following our coach’s death from a fishing accident and having the school’s legendary football coach taking over. Bouton’s book about the New York Yankees had come out the previous year, and it made a mark on me. He wrote the first behind the scenes tell-all about a professional sports team. And he made headlines when he aired out the behind the scenes shenanigans during the rise and fall of the Yankees teams of the sixties. It was a fun, rollicking, and eye-opening romp.

What did I learn?  After devouring this well-written book, I wanted to write more than ever. Bouton inspired me to write what I knew, to tell the truth, and make it fun.

Those are my first five books that taught me real life lessons. I think you can figure out why I enjoy reading so much and what it has meant to me over the years. I’ll be back in a week and I’ll reveal five more great books that provided some lasting lessons. Until then, enjoy the weather and bring a book along wherever you go.

Do I Stay or Do I Go? (5 Reasons to Leave NYC, 5 Reasons to Stay)

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 03, 2017


Although more and more people are moving out of New York, it feels like the city gets more crowded every day.

The first few years of living in New York is a love affair. But over time it can turn into a love-hate affair. When I was a kid, my dad worked in the Empire State Building. New York was a beacon to me. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I knew I would live and work there when I grew up. After graduating college I knocked around suburbia for a few years before landing a job in the city. Whoot! I was a young buck working at global corporation in huge skyscraper in midtown traveling the globe selling bubble gum. Since then, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else but New York. That is, until now. After a few decades of city living and finally settling down and having a child, city life has changed. These days, my wife and I are discussing our future and we’re not sure if New York City is going to be part of it. We’ve done so much here, but there is so much more out there for our son and us. So soon, we may be saying adios to NYC.

I don’t want to move and find myself bored with the pace of a So Cal beach town, freezing my ass off in New Hampshire, or feeling like I’m much too far way in New Zealand. I also don’t want to be so jaded to think that there is no other place to live besides NYC. And although I grew up in New Jersey, sorry Chris Christie, but I do not want to return to my roots in the Garden State. I’ve had enough of the tri-sate area.

So, I’ve mapped a handful of the pros and cons of living in the big city and whether or not it is time to move out. To stay or leave NYC is a big decision, so let’s explore the criteria.

REASONS TO STAY IN NYC

1. NYC is a 24/7 playground - There is always something to do in New York. Unless you want some quiet time, being bored is virtually impossible in a city that never sleeps. If you dig people, they are out and about at all hours of the day and night. If you don’t believe me, hop on a subway at midnight and chances are it will be overflowing with people coming home or going out. If you’re the type of person that often gets that late night itch to find some action or some great food, there is no better city in the world than NYC. Once you become accustomed to the lifestyle and having all the resources at your fingertips, it’s hard to fathom living anywhere else in the world.

2. The people, the energy, the culture - New Yorkers are a high-energy, purposeful, intelligent, and cultured group. People with that purpose-driven mindset come here from every other country to follow their dreams and become part of the fabric of this amazing city. We’ve got some crazies here, but that’s understandable when you jam eight million people together and expect them to fall into some semblance of order and organization. Over the years I’ve had neighbors from every continent on Earth all drawn to New York like flies to honey. And there is no other city in the world with the cultural diversity of New York. Open any issue of Time Out New York and hands down you’ll find more things to do and places to go for the arts, music, theater, and film than anywhere else.  You get four real seasons and you can hit the beach, the slopes, or a golf course relatively easily from midtown.

3. The food, the drink – Not only does New York offer indigenous foods and drinks from every culture on Earth, it’s also a leader in inventing and fusing new foods and cocktails, whether it’s Korean tacos, cronuts, or alcohol-infused ice cream. If it’s new and it tastes good, it usually starts here. And, you can get it delivered at any hour of the day or night. Check plus, plus.

4. If you can make it there… - Deep down, I think every New Yorker carries pride knowing they are making their mark in arguably the toughest arena in the world. Unlike life in other areas of the country, many New Yorkers live to work and take pride in being the best in their jobs. Of course all work and no play gets old, so most careerists know how to cut loose in their down time, often in extreme ways. If you don’t believe me, check out the action at the clubs and after-hours dens of diversions in sex, gambling, and other extreme activities. If you’ve got an itch for something edgy, yeah, you’ll find it here.

5. It’s constantly changing – If someone asked me what’s the one thing that I’ve learned that stands out about living close to three decades in New York, I’d have to say that New York City never stops moving, evolving and changing its shape. Nobody can keep up with the city, even if a lot of New Yorkers roll 24/7/365. No one person has the time, stamina or resources to harness the pulse of this ever-changing magical city. Hot new neighborhoods like Hudson Yards and Gowanus pop up like weeds all over the city.

There. I’ve laid out a strong case for living in and never, ever leaving New York. If only life was so simple. There is a big wide world out there, amigos and it’s important to know when it’s time to pack up the caravan and move on.

REASONS TO LEAVE NYC

1. The rent, and every thing else is too damn high – Can you really afford to pay $3,000 a month for a studio in midtown or would you rather live with four random roommates in a two bedroom walk up in Bed Stuy? That’s just the tip of the financial iceberg that impacts your quality of life in New York City. New Yorkers can handle it, but after awhile living like you did in college gets old. New Yorkers like convenience so they eat out for most of their meals. That along with cocktails, the daily Starbucks, and a trip to Whole Foods on the way home gets expensive. Unless you are a savvy New Yorker who has been here long enough to stay ahead of the housing trends, it’s tough to keep yourself out of debt when you are renting, raving, and rolling in the clubs until dawn and all the while working a backbreaking entry-level job. Over the past few decades the situation has gotten worse. Unless you got a break on a Wall Street job, most kids fresh out of college to wheel and deal and improvise just to find a place to live, and that sucks. Back in the day, you might have to live uptown or on the west side, but at least you could plant some roots and live relatively comfortably with some privacy when starting out. That’s tough now. Almost a deal breaker if you ask me. I would not want to have to commute from the depths of Brooklyn or the Bronx for an entry-level position. I always managed to live near my office and relatively close to the nighttime action. I’m not sure that’s possible these days. And it’s very expensive raising a child in this town. Swimming lessons go for $50 a half hour. That’s just the beginning, folks.

2. Mass transit is worse than purgatory – Unless you have a trust fund to draw on or a corporate Uber card, you are probably using the subway. Over the past few decades the subways have gotten way more crowded, and much less reliable. And now we’re in the mass transit “summer from hell”. Very simply, riding the subway sucks more than ever. The cars are dirty, unreliable, and overcrowded, even in the dead of night. New Yorkers, and human beings in general, deserve better. Did I mention subway service on the weekends? Hahahaha. For a long-time New Yorker, traveling by mass transit has become a sore point and an actual embarrassment that is below the standards of a quality of life that New Yorkers deserve. And I don’t see the situation improving.

3. The noise, the lights, the crowds – After three decades you’d think I’d be used to the sounds of pounding jackhammers and blaring sirens at all day and night. Nope. Where I live uptown, we are also treated to churn of motorbikes plowing down the streets at all hours. All the lights from the streets and businesses that stay open all night make it challenging for us New Yorkers to get a proper night’s rest. By now I’ve learned to sleep through anything but why should I have to shut my windows to dull the roar from the crowds outside the bars at 3 am? Did I mention the lines New Yorkers stand in for a cool movie, event, or a bargain? I now pass on anything requiring me to stand in line, unless they are giving out free money or sex.

4. City living can be toxic – New York City living is a stress-inducing experience. Don’t discount the effects of living in a cramped metropolis filled with all types of Wi-Fi, radiation, and radio waves bouncing around and throughout the entire city. Humans soak this stuff into our bodies and over time it collects in our systems and causes havoc to our health. Recent studies show that our once-thought-as-wonderful city drinking water is filled with carcinogens and heavy metals. Get a water filter and walk in the park whenever possible. And even though New York has come a long way since 9/11, it is still number one target for terror.

5. Been there, done that – Black outs, 9/11, hurricanes, massive snowstorms, a garbage strike, the AIDS crisis, sweltering heat waves, and blinding rain and floods have all been part of my life in New York City. Like Mick Jagger sang, “I’m in tatters”, after surviving these tumultuous years. After decades of running wild and finally settling, there comes a point of diminishing returns for living in the big city. It’s that, “do I really want to put up with this shit?” feeling when you’re dealing with the cable company, mass transit delays, broken elevators at the train station, “show time” on a crowded subway, or witnessing general bad behavior on the street in front of your kids. This stuff gives even the most ardent New Yorker pause about continuing to live in this crazy town. Admit it. You’ve thought about living elsewhere.

So where does this leave me? I’ve put myself on a two-year plan before making a final decision about leaving New York. After working for major corporations, ad agencies, start ups, I’m not sure if I want another nine to five gig in the city. Nowadays businesses no longer require employees to come into the office every day. More and more jobs are done virtually, so it doesn’t matter where you live. I’ve done or tried just about everything I’ve wanted to in this city. So I ask myself, why not cash in and check out of New York to start a more peaceful life with my wife and kid somewhere less interesting, but saner? It’s a decision I will be considering over the next twenty-four months. Until then, I’ll keep fighting the good fight. Now I’ve got to go back into the bowels of the sweltering subway and get on that filthy C train to take my kid to his expensive swimming lesson.

This week’s Guys’ Guy’s Guys of the Week are all the folks who have taken the leap and lived in the New York City. Some like it hot and some do not, but everyone here adds a bit of spice to this human zoo. I’ll see you in the crowded streets, amigos!

10 Questions Guys Need to Ask Themselves Before Getting Married

Robert Manni - Sunday, July 30, 2017


I was single for so many years that no one bothered asking me anymore when I was getting married.

But then I got married, and I am glad I did. Marriage is one of, if not the most important, decisions you will ever make; yet many folks take this life-changing decision lightly. Nowadays the divorce rate exceeds fifty percent and until recent times who ever heard of a “starter marriage”? Take it from a Guy’s Guy. Don’t get married until you are absolutely certain that she is the one or you will pay a big price for your folly. I know so many guys who either married too young, grew apart from their spouses, or decided wanted to trade in their partner for a younger, hotter model. They all have one thing in common. They’re paying for it now.

Now, I’m not saying that when two people become partners in this fast paced modern world that it is always going to work out just fine. No sir, amigo. Shit happens and some of it hits you in the face when you least expect it. And it’s not necessarily your fault or that of your spouse. Life gets complicated, so unless you are a true risk taker, I suggest you do your homework and then think long and hard before getting married. If this sounds harrowing, it shouldn’t. Getting married to the right woman can be the best thing that ever happens to a guy. Take it from one who waited before finally hitting the jackpot. My experience confirmed what my gut told me. Do not get married until it feels right inside. And when you find that special woman, you’ll breeze through my list of ten questions guys needs to ask themselves before getting married. When it feels right inside and the stars are aligned, the answers come quick and they’re affirming. I hope they work for you the way they worked for me. Here goes… 

1. Am I truly ready to be a married man? Marriage is a lifelong commitment. And it’s no joke, so make damn sure you’re aware of what you’re signing up for before you take that leap. Marriage means you are entering a partnership built on a bond built on love, trust and respect. I strongly suggest that you look inside and ask yourself if getting married feels like the right decision. If there is any hesitation, take a deep breath and ask yourself again. If your underlying hesitation remains, you might want to reconsider your options. Ignore any outside pressures. This is your life, amigo. You hold the answers inside your heart.

2. What kind of future will I have with her? Do your best to peek into your shared future and visualize the kind of life that awaits the two of you. Where do you want to live, work, play, vacation, travel, settle down and buy a home, and spend your sunset days together? These questions can go on and on. Do your best to “see” your future with this lady. If you like what you see, proceed to the next question.

3. Will I be content not shagging other women for the rest of my life? This is usually an unspoken area, but in many ways for a guy, it becomes the issue. And if you are a horn dog like me, you’ll want a woman in total synch with your boning stylings. If she is the only one you’ll be rumpling the sheets with, you two better be simpatico about sex. Maybe, and this is a long shot, you both will be cool with an open marriage. It could happen, but don’t count on it. Unless you are a douche, once you tie the knot, your prowling nights are over. Yeah, you can always look at the menu, but ultimately the big dogs like to eat. Make sure you are cool with this.

4. What are her expectations? Guess what? It’s not all about you. If she’s going to invest her body, mind, and spirit in commune with you for what could be her entire life, she deserves to know what she’s getting into. If you think she’s the one for you, make sure you don’t hold back any creepy secrets that would give her pause. Let her know about your dreams and aspirations and how you’ll be there for her. And ask her what she expects from you along the way. It’s only fair that you are transparent and that you feel comfortable with her needs.

5. Do you both want kids? This can be a deal breaker. Everyone has their own vision of what their future family will look like, and not every woman wants to have kids, or wants to stay home and care for them. So if you want three kids and she wants none, or she wants to work and you want her to raise the kids, these issues could become a sore point as the years go by. Maybe you’ll have to take care of the kids! It happens a lot nowadays. Will she be cool with that? Will you? Get the details about children out in the open before walking to the altar. I was single for so long that I didn’t think I would ever become a father, and I was okay with it. That said—I kept an open mind in case the woman I married wanted to start a family. And here I am now, a doting father of a four year old. And I could not be happier.

6. Do I like her family? You might not think that this matters, but it does. In the vast majority of cases, you’re going to have quite a few interactions with your in-laws. So if you really can’t stand being around them, think twice before moving forward. Hey, you might find out that they don’t like you either. 

7. Does she make me laugh? The power of humor is underrated. When I think about it, most of my friends are funny, or at least know how to laugh. If you can’t make your future wife laugh, you are in trouble. And hopefully, she can get a rise out of you, too. This becomes important when you fight (which you will) and how you make up (which you will also do). I highly recommend finding a partner that laughs easily at your shenanigans. You want to make her laugh, don’t you? 

8. Do I really want to grow old with her? Fast forward thirty or forty years. She no longer rocks a black bikini the way she used to, and maybe she’s put on a few pounds. And you have less hair, worse eyesight, and a belly. Can you handle that? I actually weigh less than I did thirty years ago and I still run the same times. Why? Because I give a shit and I invest time in taking care of myself. And, frankly I expect the same of my partner. Think about how you will handle her looks and health three decades from now. Can you handle the variables? My advice is that you set the example by taking care of your health and fitness as a matter of lifestyle and pride. There is nothing wrong with a little pride when it’s for the greater good.

9. Does she fight fair? Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are like an old married couple. They fight, they avoid one another, and yet they still make wonderful music when they come together. Be like Mick and Keith. You can fight, but don’t hit below the belt. And always forgive. That doesn’t mean you become a doormat. You may not instantly forget shit they may have done, but it means that you don’t allow your partner’s behavior or your anger eat you up from the inside. The point is, marriage is a like long dance when it comes to managing emotions. Take the lead and make it a waltz. 

10a. Do we share the same values? Another underrated, but important thing to consider. By values, I’m referring to what you value you as people. It’s not about money. We’ll get to that. It’s more about how you both see humanity, and your role in making this world a better place. Do you both care about this, or is she the only one who cares about clean water, feeding the poor, education, and health care. What if she prefers country life and you dig the big city? Think about all of your values or you may end up marrying someone with a completely different set of beliefs. Can you imagine a Trump loyalist married to a Bernie supporter? You think that would work out?

10b. Are we in synch on financial issues? To solve a mystery, they often say, “follow the money”. When it comes to marriage, you best be in synch when it comes to how you view and handle the cash. If not, you could be in deep shit, and it could happen quickly. Nowadays, many couples have separate bank accounts. I think this is a good practice, but it doesn’t guarantee that financial issues won’t beguile your marriage. Money problems are near the top of every divorce hearing. There is a reason for it. People have their individual relationships to money, many times formulated during their upbringing. If you like to save and she likes to spend, good luck, champ.

11. BONUS QUESTION - What’s in it for her?  Why should she marry you? Think about it. What do you have to offer her that would inspire her to spend the rest of her life listening to you snore and watching the Jets lose? She can give you love, emotional support, children, and the kind of love that only a woman can share. What are you going to do for her? If it all boils down to is you making a paycheck, you are skating on thin ice, amigo. Think long and hard about how you can add to her life emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. She deserves it. So do you.

With marriage there is a lot to consider, but then again, if it’s meant to be, you’ll breeze through these questions. If you have to think long and hard about any of the points I raised, then you might want to think hard and possibly reconsider your options. After all, you want to be fair to yourself and your partner. If deep down, it really doesn’t feel right, no matter how much pressure you may be under, don’t do it. After all, who wants to spend their life with someone who may secretly not feel the same about them?

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is my father, Serge Manni. He was twenty-five when he married my mother, who was 21. They have been married for 67 years now. Sure, they have had their arguments and they are very different people, but underneath it all they have consistently maintained their love for one another. And ultimately, love is the fuel that drives a marriage. Good luck, amigo. I hope you make the right decision. It will change your life. Just ask any Guy’s Guy.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying the Course and Pursuing Your Dreams

Robert Manni - Monday, July 24, 2017


The great Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Slavery was never abolished. It was expanded to include everyone.”

One of the toughest challenges we face is remaining steadfast in pursuit of our aspirations while living in a dysfunctional culture built on the back on the common man and his debt and servitude. Here’s a typical scenario: It’s mid-July, it’s a sunny ninety degrees outside and you’re trapped in a high-rise office toiling away as usual. You emerge from your cubicle and stare out the window down to the street below, wondering where everyone is going and why you’re chained to your desk grinding away on another post-buy analysis spreadsheet coupled with an unrealistic timetable from your boss.

Welcome to the junior-level work life in New York. You want to follow your passion and be a rock star, a writer, or an actor and create something that will hold value and have meaning, but right now it feels like the core of your existence revolves around that lengthy report on a bathroom cleaner that smells like bleach. You ask yourself, “How do I find the time to pursue my dream while I’m working like a drone in bee colony?” On top of this challenge is how easily distracted we get, especially when living in a massive city filled with…lots of distractions. So, despite how focused you are, staying the course is not always easy.

But take heart. There is good news. First, you are not alone. There are thousands of other young bucks just like you in the big bad city putting their dreams on hold while toiling away at junior level positions. But I’m hear to tell you that if you play your cards right you can find the time to stay the course and make your mark on the world.

In over three decades fighting the good fight at corporations and agencies across the city, I often felt that I did not have enough time to pursue dreams that were slowly fading away. But because of my passion and belief in my message and myself, I found time to keep that dream train rolling down the tracks no matter how much day-to-day business needed my attention.

Your Guy’s Guy wants to share a few tricks he’s learned about staying focused on one’s passions in the face of an omnipresence clock and the realities of survival in the big city. So here are my tips for staying the course, surviving and thriving while following your dreams. That’s the idea, right?

1. Become an early riser – I recently read an article about the success secrets of a number of well-known entrepreneurs and successes in business including Elon Musk and Warren Buffet. They all shared one trait. They all got up every day at 4:45am. That’s pretty early if you ask me, but these visionaries know the importance of carving out time each day to focus on their passion, dreams, and some me-time to gather their thoughts before tackling the day. I’ve found getting up earlier has become easier with each passing year and I whole-heartedly endorse this practice. I use these early hours for affirmations, creatively, and to map out the day and how I’ll allocate the ensuing hours to my passions, my work, and all the usual day-to-day tasks.

2. Burn the midnight oil – If you can’t handle getting up early then consider staying up later to focus on your passions. And by your passions I don’t mean the blonde next to you in bed. My mind is clearer in the morning, but I have come up with a number of out-of-the-box ideas while burning the midnight oil. Whether you make time early or late in the day, the goal is to use these precious hours to stay on course and move your personal projects along. Write a song, map out a “what if” idea for a book or screenplay, or focus an hour or two on whatever inspires you to dream.

3. Meditate to keep your mind fresh – Speaking of keeping your mind clear and open to your creative passions, there is no better way to stay mentally and spiritually fresh than a brief meditation. I do my best to put at least fifteen minutes aside for the sole purpose of quieting my mind and allowing it to empty all my garbage thoughts and monkey chatter, like what team Kylie Irving should play for next year or when will the Rolling Stones will drop a new album. All this mental small talk chatter results in wasting valuable time that could be use to focus on what you really want to focus on.

4. Use your workouts creatively – If there was ever a reason for multitasking it’s using your workouts to think creatively and solve problems. I realize that pushing iron and playing golf require a tight focus, but cardio sessions are great for zoning out and getting in touch with your inner voice. I mapped out and mentally constructed most of my novel, The Guys Guy’s Guide to Love, during my long runs. Now I also use the time on the road to come up with ideas for blog posts, memes, book ideas, and tweaks to my screenplay and adapted TV series. I get my workout in and figure things out at the same time. That’s a win-win.

5. Find work relative to your true passion – Although my background is in marketing and brand management, I always held an interest in advertising because I wanted to be close to the creative process during my work. I choose account management because I did not want to use up all of my psychic energy coming up with ads for canned ravioli or cooking spray. But, I wanted to be surrounded by creative people and use my creativity to solve brand issues without having to write the ads. It turned out pretty well. I learned the creative process and cleared a wide path for my teams to excel. And the things I’m most proud from my advertising career are the great campaigns I’ve been part of that bolstered the sales of mega brands I worked on including Bacardi rum, Stolichnaya vodka and 1800 tequila to name a few. Of course it doesn’t hurt when you’re working on image brands. But during this time I never lost sight of my own projects and creative goals and used my free time to pursue my passions.

6. Learn to prioritize – Finding the time to stay the course for your long term goals and creative projects is a balancing act. The best way to keep all the balls in the air is by prioritizing your projects within the amount of time you can allocate for them throughout the day. Time flashes by but if you are mentally organized you can identify those tasks most important to your survival and can still set enough time aside to take care of business and your goals. Don’t forget, you almost always have the weekends to carve out some time for your personal projects.

Life is short, but there are lots of hours, days, weeks and years available to us if we take care of ourselves and stay organized. Of course, if you want to follow your dreams and you have a dismal job, make sure you keep your spirits up, think creatively, and find the time to follow your dreams. It’s up to you amigo, and I know you can do it.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the great writer Charles Bukowski whom I mentioned in the opening of this post. Bukowski worked for years in a series of menial odd jobs before becoming a professional writer at the age of forty-nine. In fact, one of his most successful novels is Post Office a hilarious, sad and poignant chronicle about his twelve-year stint at the USPS.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Conquering Anxiety

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 13, 2017


Unless you’re entering an actual lion’s den, fear is a fleeting emotion created in the mind. But in these uncertain times of fear-based news and media, many folks live with an omnipresent feeling of anxiety.

Even the word “anxiety” sounds uncomfortable. Wikipedia defines it as an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, like pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination. Shit, I feel nervous already. So how can we manage our nervous pangs and the feelings of dread that can creep into our consciousness? Let me tell you a story…

I recently had a bout with anxiety that had been triggered years ago when I was trapped alone in an office elevator for close to an hour. Before this occurred, I had never had any thoughts of discomfort about tight spaces. But after that incident, I realized that the mind could play tricks and allow fear to grab hold of our consciousness. In most cases, the old adage “there is nothing to fear except fear itself” rings true, but we all have triggers that cause mental and physical discomfort, and waves of anxiety. It might be a fear of heights, tight spaces, spiders, snakes, clowns, or situations like losing a job, money, or your lover. Today, your Guy’s Guy is drawing on his personal experiences and bouts of anxiety to serve up a few tips that may help you deal with that nasty stuff in your head. Here goes…

Ever since I was trapped alone in an elevator for close to an hour, my mind has played games on me when I’m faced with really tight spaces. Being a certified advanced clinical hypnotist, after the elevator incident, I made sure I practiced what I preached and got help from one of my teachers. It made a huge difference, but like all hypnosis, the patient needs to take an active role in overcoming his issues.

Although hypnosis wiped away most of the residual claustrophobia, I did a double take the first time I saw an MRI machine online. I was due for back-to-back robotic surgeries and needed MRI’s prior to and after both operations. After that, I would need annual MRI’s for the next five years. The first time I saw that tube on my computer I was hit with a wave of anxiety. Requiring two robotic surgeries on my kidneys was stressful enough without adding multiple stints in the MRI tube. None of this had ever been in my purview. My world had been turned upside down when I was diagnosed. I needed to get a grip on my mental, physical, and spiritual facilities, pronto.

I thought I had moved past any discomfort with tight spaces—I took the subway almost every day—but the thought of sliding into that tube was troubling. I was expecting to be in there for about five minutes, but I was wrong. The first time I was in the tube it would be for forty-five minutes.

Inside the tube, I laid with my eyes closed listening to the distant voice of the technician telling me to breathe in, hold my breath, and breathe out while disturbingly loud noises from the machine clanged through my head. It was awful and it was just the beginning. What could I do?

I looked inside myself and I asked for help. I had to get a handle on this quick and take charge of my emotions. So, after the first session, I reviewed the details of my entrance form and realized I had foolishly agreed to take part in a research study. I said, sure, without inquiring what this entailed, only to discover that my participation in the test required me to spend twice the amount of time in the tube. Even though I had checked the box for claustrophobia on my form, I let myself be convinced to be part of a study to help other patients.

So I called the test center, raised hell, and got out of the test. Based on my claustrophobia, they never should have asked me to participate in the first place. But, I learned that as a patient, you have to fully participate in the process and all of the decisions you make concerning your care. Fortunately, the next test was only twenty minutes. And I was better mentally prepared for the series of MRI’s that were in my immediate future.

How did I handle my anxiety? I asked myself what else I could do and then realized that I’d done my best. What I needed most at this juncture was to stay alert and trust the process. Six weeks and two robotic surgeries later, I set out to heal and learn from the experience. And I really did. I had faced the abyss, not even knowing the fate of my right kidney when I went under the anesthesia, and came out fine. What I learned from my fear and anxiety had ultimately made me stronger.

A year went by and I forgot about the MRI until about a month before it was time to slide back in the tube again. I was caught off guard by new pangs of anxiety, but this time I felt more prepared. I placed a call to the center and made sure I had been eliminated from the test study. But the day of the test, when I saw the tube, I took a step back. It looked way smaller than the tube used the previous year. I took a deep breath and slid in dutifully. I choose classical music for my earphones, kept my eyes closed, and repeated The Violet Flame Invocation— “ I am a being of violet fire. I am the purity God desires” as I listened to the tech’s directions. Although in my mind the tube felt tight, I was handling it okay until the machine malfunctioned. I didn’t know what was going on, but it felt like something wasn’t right. I called out to the technician, but no answer. Waves of anxiety poured enveloped me. I squeezed the ball they gave me to signal the techs to slide me out of the machine. At first, even that did not work. Then, finally I was moving.

Once out of the tube, I was told the machine had malfunctioned and I’d have to wait outside until another machine became available. WTF!? I sat waiting nervously in my gown and socks for the next half hour. I was totally off my game when they summoned me the second time. This time, the machine looked bigger. (Later I found out that it actually was.) I lay down, did my best to get into my zone, and got through it. Afterwards, I let out a sigh of relief and headed home. Fortunately my results were once again clear and I was free for another year.

Fast-forward to 2017. I had only three more MRI’s to go before shifting to an annual ultrasound. For some reason, about a month before my test, I began having anxiety about my upcoming procedure. I needed to get my shit together and get ahead of the game. I recalled what had occurred the prior two years and wondered what screw-ups and dread awaited me this time. I went through my mental checklist and made the necessary adjustments. This time I would wear boxer shorts because they were more comfortable in the tube. Check. I also got my blood test and results ahead of time. Check. Then, remembering what seemed to me to be varying sizes of the MRI tubes, I called the center and asked if I was scheduled for the larger tube I had the previous year, following the first tube’s malfunction. The administrator informed me that I was scheduled for the small tube again.

“What is wrong with these people?” I thought. After all, the previous year I had again checked the box for claustrophobia. I had assumed that people are mindful about their jobs. Nope. Finally management switched me to one of the big tubes. I knew which one to request in subsequent years. Check. The morning of the test I asked myself what the hell I was so concerned about. After all, there was really no way I could be harmed during the test. There were aides and technicians everywhere, and I had the signal ball to squeeze if I was freaking out and needed to come out of the tube for a break. Although I may have had reason for my mental anguish, I realized that my anxiety self-induced and all in my head. As soon as I got through to my subconscious, I was ready to go.

This time the test went as smooth as silk. I repeated my violet flame affirmation, but I also asked my guides and angels to be there with me. In fact, I could feel their presence and felt light and protected as a cool breeze from the machine blew up my boxer shorts. The twenty minutes flew by, and the results were all clear. I also picked up one more trick—instead of using the cumbersome headphones next time I’ll ask for the ear buds during the test because they’re lighter and less restricting. So now I know that, too.

Okay, this has been a long story, and thanks for hanging in there. The point is that there are ways to deal with anxiety. Want proof? Here I am, alive, healed, and stronger than ever. In fact, I’m running my usual 6.2-mile loop of Central Park in the same time as I did prior to my surgeries three years ago. I’m sure you will have your own challenges to face, but when you do, consider these steps to power through the situation and come up better than ever.

1. Be prepared – The more you learn about and know the practical aspects about what you’re facing, the less uncertainty there is and the better off you’ll be. Putting the randomness of human error aside, at least you’ll know you did what you could to address your fears and the scenarios you’re facing.

2. Ask what’s the worst that can happen? – If you’re really freaked out, take a few deep breaths, calm down and ask your higher self, what’s the worst scenario you might be facing. Then consider the best possible outcome. I’ll bet that the worst outcome is highly unlikely and in many cases not that probable, or that awful. Keeping a positive frame of mind helps create a positive outcome. When we think about only the bad stuff, that’s what happens. Manage your energy and your vibe. It matters.

3. Learn from your experience – Having a painful kidney stone, two robotic surgeries, and all the follow up procedures, including the dreaded MRI’s, has, in a crazy way, actually been a blessing. I am a different person now, and hopefully a stronger and better person. I’m not as fearful, and I now realize I have more power than I previously believed.

4. Ask for help – Despite the loneliness we all experience from time to time, we are not alone. Not only are we all connected, but we also have spiritual entities looking out for us. If you’re a believer, don’t be afraid to call on them.

5. Say WTF and go for it – After you have done your research, considered the possibilities, gotten your head together, and asked for help, the only thing left to do is to be like Nike and just do it. It’s called life, amigo, and we all have to face some shit. Believe me, adversity can make you stronger and more resilient. Believe in yourself.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Daniel. You know, the guy from the Old Testament who had his faith tested when asked to enter the lion’s den. Now that’s major anxiety. But as he demonstrated, faith and love can conquer fear.

How to Live, Work, and Not be Exhausted

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 22, 2017


New York runs 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. After all, you’re a person, not a city.

Unless you’re Keith Richards in the 1970’s, you can’t roll twenty-four hours straight. Although you like to go fast, every so often your body and mind needs a break. Let’s face it. You work too hard, drink too much, eat too much crappy takeout food, and don’t sleep enough. Over time, that’s a surefire recipe for a burnout.

People require love, sleep, food, and sex to keep their engines fine-tuned. And to win, you need to know how to cool your jets so you don’t overheat. Although this post was inspired by life in New York City, with today’s shrinking world and growing pressure to keep on keeping on, my message applies to wherever you live in our hyped up USA. Hence, I offer you my musings and insights to help you fight your battle and come out on top.

In not particular order here’s how to live well and avoid exhaustion wherever you are. Drum roll, please...

1. Managing your work day – You have too much to do and not enough time to do it. You report to a lazy turd that thinks that being your boss means delegating everything to you. And there are not enough hours in the day to serve him or her and properly set your fantasy football line up. What to do? Start by taking a look at your calendar and clearing out any double and triple bookings and appointments or scheduled events that don’t set your soul on fire. When you get overwhelmed stick to the basics- your job, your health, your girl, and time for creating or chillaxing.

During my career in marketing and advertising, I’ve found that getting to work early saves time at the end of the day. A lot of people who work in advertising drag their ass in after 9:30am and don’t seem to mind staying late, sometimes very late. I was never sure if that was because they had so much work or so they could order in dinner and take Uber home. Unless it was a mission-critical client situation, I wasn’t about to meet their level of mediocre time management. And I hate working on weekends unless it’s a new business pitch. You see, good ideas in advertising and marketing can come at any time and from any place if you have your antenna tuned properly.  So make time to manage your calendar and you’ll save some time for yourself.

2. Exercise – Too tired to work out? I’ve actually found that getting into shape and maintaining a level of fitness negates the probability of burnout. When you reach a high level of fitness, you come from a position of strength and handle most things better. I know it’s not easy to get to the gym everyday, but there are little things you can do to keep your heart pumping strong— like walking and using the stairs instead of taking cabs and the escalator. New York is a wonderful place to walk because it’s constantly changing. I’ve discovered so many cool shops, bars, and casual restaurants simply by using my legs to get around. Walking is also a great way to clear your head and release any built up stress.

3. Meditation or yoga – Another way to keep your mind, body and spirit fresh is by investing thirty minutes in quiet mediation each day, which can also be in the form of yoga. I prefer meditating in the early morning. If you can’t find those thirty minutes, see if you can spare fifteen minutes. Still too long? Then how about putting aside five minutes to stop your mind’s monkey chatter or to perform a few yoga stretches to breath deeply and calm you down? Still not working? Then consider finding some quiet time before your head hits the pillow. Me? I often mediate while walking. Believe me, you can find time to slow down if you are passionate about your goal. If none of this works for you ask yourself if you find time to masturbate.

4. Sleep – Most New Yorkers are exhausted by the time they go to bed. This can be due to their jobs, the incessant noise on the streets, or insomnia. The number of insomnia cases is growing, but you can avoid being a casualty if you hit the sack a bit earlier and sleep a bit later. While laying in bed staring at the ceiling and worrying about all the shit you have to do the following day, try instead to be thankful for your life and all of your gifts. These include having a roof over your head, electricity, and running water. Many of us in the states have it pretty good, so showing a little appreciation to the Universal Consciousness is good form. Then put your phone away, take a few deep breaths, smile, and close your eyes.

5. Manage your media consumption – I had a weird dream last night. I was hanging with LeBron and Laili Ali. I play wrestled Laili and took selfies with LeBron. What does that mean? It means I watch too much media and need to turn the damn television off! Most of us drink in copious amounts of media through our phones, computers, and televisions. Whether its real news, fake news, distractions from the worlds of sports and entertainment, or info we need for work, we are awash in a plethora of random information. Enough is enough, amigo. We need time to process all of the data we input and also time to come up with our own thoughts. Time keeps moving and you’ll keep working like a drone until it’s over. Then it won’t matter how many rings LeBron won or if he’s still in the conversation for GOAT. Most of the media we consume is a distraction to keep you working, living in fear, and too exhausted to cause problems.

6. Eat clean – We really are what we eat, and for many of us that’s not good news. Meat, sugar, salt, dairy and most importantly pesticide-filled GMO’s are not going to help build your energy stores. I find that the cleaner I eat— and that means organic fruits and veggies—the better I feel and the more zip I have. So, consider avoiding fast food lunches, all that tasty bacon, and mid-afternoon sweets that cause your energy to spike and crash if you want to stay on top of your game.

7. Treat yourself with respect- If you aggregate the prior points my recommended behavioral considerations all point to treating yourself better. Whether it’s your food, sleep and work habits, the media you consume, or even how you get around town, a healthy dose of self-respect will make you re-examine your life choices and daily regime. If you are present you will find ways to prime your energy pump.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Ed Whitlock, the only man in his seventies to run a marathon in under three hours.

On Being A Dad

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 15, 2017


I thought the task of being an older dad would be easy. More life experience, more patience, more self-acceptance. I was wrong. Being a dad is not an easy task, but the job has become more and more fascinating with each passing year.

Since I only got married seven years ago and never pictured myself as a father, when my wife got pregnant I wasn’t sure how to feel or what to expect. Regardless of all the books I’d read on the subject (none) or the classes I took (none) to help me face the mysteries of fatherhood, I knew I’d be in for lots of surprises and priceless life lessons.

I consider my wife the smartest person I know, so thankfully I’d have someone who knew what they were doing at the wheel at least during infancy. I thought I would step up once the kid was ready for little league. That was selfish and dumb, and it didn’t turn out that way. I’ve been totally immersed in fatherhood since the moment I caught my son in the delivery room four years ago. I thought I’d learn about being a dad along the way, and as a result I made my share of miscalculations and blunders. Yet my wife tells me that overall, I’m a good dad. Here’s a snap shot of how the first few years have played out and the key takeaways I’ve been gifted since my son was born.

Year one was all about eating, sleeping, pooping, and crying. Mom and son really bonding here, folks. Sure, I wiped his butt, changed diapers, etc., and did my best in taking a load off my wife, but a powerful connection was forged between mother and child during this critical first year. Year two was less intense and highlighted by movement and awakenings. First he crawled, then he pulled himself up, and finally he stumbled a few steps. He still ate, slept and pooped a lot, but so do I, and now he was mobile and demonstrating his distinctive personality traits.

I was under the assumption that half of his personality would be like me and the other half like my wife. Wrong. Although he shares our strong personalities, he is, and has been, his own little person from the get go. He began showing more of his willful personality during year two. I noticed how focused he was and how he never let go of something once he got locked in. He was developing his likes and dislikes. During this time, he walked, even ran a bit, and smiled a lot.

My wife and I are big readers, so we read books to him and like magic, he connected with the stories we picked out. And like most kids, he wanted us to read him the same books over and over again. I don’t know what it is about Goodnight Moon that hits the spot with kids, but they love that book. At two, my son also loved The Giving Tree along with the many Dr Seuss books. There are so many great kids books that stimulate a child’s imagination and I highly recommend devoting ample time to reading to your child. It makes a difference in how they develop their imagination and process language. We only allow gentle videos, like old school Disney films as a reward for taking his nap and having a good day at school. By the time my little guy turned three, he began waking and getting out of bed on his own, and slipping out to the living room where he could be found each morning flipping through stacks of books on the couch.

Socialization can be tricky for toddlers. My son has always been super upbeat and friendly, so he has no anxiety and makes friends easily. During years two and three he evolved from being the victim to occasionally being the perpetrator, or the one who pushes at the playground. But that was a short segment that most kids go through. Over a short time, he developed a natural empathy for others and learned how to quickly make connections with the other kids. Now he talks to adults, kids, neighbors, strangers, and animals. I’ve never seen a kid so comfortable in his on skin. This outgoing and friendly behavior will serve him well in life. During his threes, he also developed a penchant for art, drawing pictures, and playing cards and board games. Unfortunately, due random circumstances, he was forced to attend three separate Pre K 3 schools in one year. But it’s worked out and he has his sights on moving to Pre K 4 at a bigger school in the fall.

Overall, year three was about transitions. I’m proud to say that he handled all the changes like a champ. And like a true New Yorker he has friends of all races, creeds and cultures. New York City has its drawbacks for raising kids, but it also has the parks and activities that provide a wonderful environment for opening young minds. Now, our little guy is four. He knows what he likes and does not hold back on letting anyone know. He picks out his clothes. He tells us what playground he wants to hang in, and he knows that if he doesn’t take a nap he’s not getting a cookie or a video.

Parents are the first mirror for a child, but teaching works both ways. With the help of my wife, I am learning what approaches work best while I attempt to elicit the desired response from my child. That means getting him to listen up and do what I need him to do when I ask him. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I’m a get-it-done, task-oriented person. I do my thing and allow others to do theirs. All I ask is for people to pay attention, be present and do their job. Kind of like Bill Belechik. Unfortunately, that’s football and business, and not how things work with kids, especially with sensitive souls like my son.

When I ask him to do something-- like follow me to the bathroom so I can brush his teeth before we head for school-- he often ignores me. This type of situation is commonplace and can become tedious. Being an unschooled dad, I used to get upset in these situations, and it backfired. My son picks up on my energy, so if I don’t project the proper tone in my voice, he would run away. What’s the answer? Watch what my wife did. And she uses blackmail. So, now if he ignores me when I call to him and he does not respond, I tell him there will be no cookies or videos in the near future. And it works. Now he listens and, at least usually, comes running by the time I count to two. I’m also reprioritizing my schedule and making sure that I am more present when I am with my son. I fight the urge now (and usually win) when it comes to not taking out my phone on the bus or subway. I realize how lucky I am to have the time to spend with my little boy. When I was a kid my father traveled constantly, so I’m making up for those absences of quality father-son time while I have it.

So, what is fatherhood all about if not teaching your child about the world while learning more about yourself and life at the same time? Sounds about right to me. I highly recommend becoming a father to any guy who is ready when that special opportunity comes their way.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is my dad, Serge Manni. He recently turned ninety-two and has lived an amazing, full life. I can only hope I’ll do the same and also be a shining example of how to be a man for my son…even if I’m still learning.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Navigating the Friend Zone

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 01, 2017


For many guys, there is something worse than getting blown off by the girl of their dreams. It’s called the “friend zone”.

But, fellas, the friend zone is not so bad. It doesn’t have to be a recurring nightmare of rejection. In fact, the friend zone even has a few hidden perks worth discovering. In fact, if you play the game like a boss, you can work your way out of the friend zone and into the relationship zone. So let’s explore what I call, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Navigating the Friend Zone and find some ways to make it work for you.

1. The friend zone is a better than the “not even a friend” zone. We know how heartbreaking it is when that girl you want badly doesn’t share the same feelings you carry in your heart for her. It might feel soul crushing when she lets you down with the news that although she’s not amped to date you, she’s reserved a place for you in her friend zone. Of course you don’t want to hear that—you want to be up close and personal with her instead of being a pal or confidant, especially if she’s still in the market while you wallow helplessly on the sidelines. But if you think about it, staying within close proximity of that special lady is not the worst thing that can happen.

That’s look at the bright side. At least she hasn’t out and out rejected you. She thinks your cool, but just not cool enough to date… right now. When you’re in her friend zone, it means she trusts you and your opinions, maybe even your perspectives about men. Now that’s a place of power. While you hang close and search for ways to win her over, you can gently steer her away from the competition. Ultimately, if you care for her, you want her to be happy. So, this might feel a bit underhanded. But, as they say, everything’s fair in love and war. So, it’s worth a shot.

Plus, if you’re in her friend zone and work yourself into her inner circle, there’ll be numerous opportunities to win favor of her posse while showing them the real, authentic you—the guy she should be dating. Here’s another consideration: If she’s hot and she likes you, trusts you, and sees that you’re still available, she might see the light and reconsider her position. And who knows? She may even set you up with one of her comely girlfriends. I know you don’t want a consolation prize, but you never know how things can work out for everyone. Another consideration is that over time, you might not find her as appealing as when you first met her.

The bottom line is that as long as you stay close to her, you’re in the mix. And when you’re in the game, things can change. So don’t get too bummed out if at first she places you in the dreaded friend zone. If you play it cool, you can work your way out of the sidelines and into victory lane. Oh, and one more thing: Sometimes just being a good friend has its benefits. Wink, wink.

2. Stay positive. Be authentic – Whatever you do, don’t let her see you sweat when she sentences you to the friend zone. Take it like a man and keep smiling, even if you are falling apart inside. She’ll be impressed, surprised, and curious when she sees you maintain your composure after she jackknifes your heart.  Remember not to take her decision too personally. As long as she keeps you in her friend zone, she maintains a favorable opinion of you. Just stay cool, put on your happy face, hang in there and be a good friend. Things can change. And even if they don’t, she might be a great friend.

3. Have a plan. – If she rejects you, but you have to win her heart at any cost, then you’ll need patience, and a strategy to win her over. Changing a woman’s mind after she’s regulated you to the friend zone is no easy task, but it’s not impossible. One approach is to find out what she likes to do and then keep inviting her to do things together… as friends. This might be chilling and binge-watching Netflix, meeting for a drink after work, taking a yoga class, or seeing the latest exhibition at the Met. If she says yes to any of your suggestions, it’s a good sign. But above all, be cool, amigo. Don’t fall all over yourself trying to impress her, or make any obvious romantic overtures. Show some restraint. Wondering why you’re not hitting on her might drive her nuts. And if you’re simply having fun, she’ll want to do more stuff with you. If this keeps up for awhile, you’re almost dating her. If you can move things this far then there’s only one thing to do together that you haven’t done yet. At that point, if she’s interested, she’ll let you know.

4. Show her respect, and know when to call it a day. – Amigo, you just might pull this off. If so, congrats to you both. But, if after you’ve played the game to the best of your ability and she still only wants to be your bud, show her what you’re made of and let it go. Be happy that you got your shot at the title and move on. After all, do you really want to be with someone who really doesn’t want to be with you? I didn’t think so. Personally, I’ve found that when looking back, I’m glad things did not work out with a few of the ladies I so admired and ended up where I am today. I may have missed out on loving me some hotties, but in the long run I ended up in the arms of the perfect woman for me. And that’s no consolation prize.

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the guys who successfully either escaped the friend zone or won the heart of the right woman for them.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying Young

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 25, 2017


I usually agree with Mick Jagger, but not when he sings, “What a drag it is getting old,” in Mother’s Little Helper.

Aging is something we all face, but it doesn’t have to be a drag. Genes play a role in how we age, but we can’t let that be an excuse for inactivity and not fighting the good fight versus Father Time. We all know Gen-Xers who look like overweight, fading boomers, and we all know boomers who run marathons and look great. It comes down to life-altering decisions about how we deal with getting older.

Science has proven that the human body replaces all its cells on a regular basis, so you’re not the same person you were five years ago—all of your cells have been replaced. Wounds heal, we gain weight, and some of us keep the hair on our heads. Studies have proven that regardless of your family’s history of a certain disease, it does not necessarily mean you will get it. But, your chances for contracting an illness skyrockets if you allow your subconscious to believe you’re destined to get sick. The point is, when it comes to aging, you can’t leave it up to your genes or family history. Your health and quality of life often comes down to your attitude, beliefs and the choices you make in how you live each day.

With this in mind, I offer you The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Young. Listen, I’m just a Guy’s Guy. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one of television. But I’m a survivor, and have experienced health scares that forced me to look into the abyss. I’ve done my research, practiced what I’ve learned on my own body, mind and spirit, and have lived to tell. And, I’m better than ever. So let’s get started. Here are a handful of ways to age like a Guy’s Guy.

1. Diet – You are what you eat, amigo. And if you want to age well, look younger than your years, and stay in shape, you need to give that old single-guy diet an overhaul by the time you reach forty. Otherwise, as the years roll on, you’ll have a much tougher time changing your eating habits and making the right choices for your health around the dinner table. It’s not that hard. Simply put, at every meal you make a series of choices to eat either this or that. Start making more of the right choices, and I promise you the process will get easier and pay off in spades in the long run. Start by eliminating or cutting way back on sugar, meat, processed foods, GMO-based foods, dairy, and table salt. Unfortunately, that means staying away from the bacon, too. Of course, go easy on the alcohol, and no smoking. Although most guys like myself considered themselves to be indestructible when we were in our twenties, by the time we hit forty our metabolisms change and it starts taking more time to bounce back. And if we keep abusing our bodies the way we did in college, we pay via expanded waistlines, toxic organs including fatty livers and heavy hearts, and a decline in life force energy.

2. Exercise – I ran my first marathon at age forty. And fortunately I did it the right way. Instead of diving into an intensive three months of training and long runs, I began laying the groundwork on the road a full year before the race. And I’m glad I did. I cruised through the finish line of my first NYC Marathon feeling elated. After a shower I met my friends for a festive Mexican meal and a few shots of good tequila. I should have counted my blessings and taken some time off and healed my body. But, no, I decided to run another marathon a few months later and paid a stiff price. I hit the wall hard in that second race and avoided long runs for a few years. Four years later I ran my third and final marathon. I was in the best shape of my life, but ran the worst race. Maybe it was due to my advanced age. I’m not sure. But I listened to my body during that grueling race when it told me in no uncertain terms that this was our final marathon. I might run a half marathon, but I’m done with the 26.2 miler. 

Partially through proper fitness, I have been fortunate enough to preserve my joints, tendons and knees over the years. So, I’ve kept to a steady regime of running, elliptical training, push-ups, and intervals of weight training to keep me toned. I walk everywhere and almost always take the stairs. Maybe I’m lucky, but I’d argue that I’m somewhat responsible for creating my health through my choices and a lifelong investment in maintaining my body.

Anyone can get in shape at any age. But the longer you wait, the tougher it gets. I suggest starting slow, and staying consistent. Even if you get an injury, try not to let yourself fall too far out of shape. It gets harder and harder to make your way back as the years roll by.

3. Rest and stay positive - You work hard. You play hard. Your body, mind, and spirit need rest. And as you age you’ll need more time to recuperate from working out, a long night out, or a whole lotta love. Sleep is a gift. Your body will thank you. And when life knocks you down, don’t take it personally. We’re here to learn and you can bounce back. A positive outlook goes a long way in your preservation.

4. Meds – When my check ups and tests don’t go as well as I’d like, I do my research I read, talk to people—many in the holistic field, and try various natural remedies before succumbing to meds. Case in point: after a very high cholesterol reading, my doctor suggested that I either go on a vegan diet or take a statin drug. I told him I would see him in a year before making a final decision. I stopped eating meat and cut back on fried foods and foods with high cholesterol for a year, while also working out consistently. Happily, when we tested the following year, my number dropped 90 points and then dropped another 35 the following year. Of course there are times we need meds, but ultimately you need to consult your physician, consider your options and do what you feel is right for you. Keep and open mind and consider trying out natural remedies. You’ll be surprised at what Mother Nature provides us.

5. Never stop learning - Keeping your mind sharp as you age is as important as staying in shape. Throughout our lives, humans only scratch the surface in tapping less than 10 % of our brains’ potential. For many, especially, many of the boomer guys I know, reading is defined as working on the computer as day, scrolling through their phone, or a quick pass through A.M. New York while riding the subway to the office. What ever happened to reading books?  Nurturing and feeding your mind through reading helps expand our horizons and keeps our minds sharp.

Quick story. I exchange texts with an old friend who is a big fan of our current president. His texts read like a rehash of whatever some Fox News host griped about the previous night. I routinely rip him a new one because my pal leads with his chin and does not show a trace of discernment about any issues. Everything comes down to bad versus good, us versus them, and black versus white. People who read know our world is complicated. When a television show needs big blocks of text to support the host’s point of view it shows a lack of depth or an open mind on the subject. It’s called brainwashing and unfortunately, it works on lazy minds.

6. Choose love over fear – When it’s all said and done, do you want to face your final days having lived a life based on making important choices based on fear or love? Choosing love keeps you young. It empowers you to the possibilities that come your way each and every day. Having an open mind is critical to keeping a youthful attitude and a spiritually grounded perspective, especially when we face life’s inevitable challenges. Choose love, amigos. It will keep you young.

7. Enjoy sex – When you’ve been married a long time and have kids and pressure and all the rest of the stuff that eats up our time, it’s easy to forego sex. Often, we pass out on the couch in front of the television before sleepwalking into the bedroom and crashing. Sex is important, amigos. If it gets overlooked for too long, relationships sour, bitterness ensues, and our body rebels when it’s not getting its fair share of intimate pleasure. Folks, please find a way to keep your love alive and the sexual fires burning. A good romp in the sack is good for the heart and the soul and if you ask me, it’s life affirming.

I could go on and on, but I think we’ve covered a number of simply practices that will keep you feeling, looking and being young for many, many years. Life can be a long, beautiful trip. All you have to do is strap in, make positive decisions, and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. I hope yours lasts a long, long time.

This week's This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Jack LaLanne, the man who opened America’s first fitness gyms. Jack’s long running television show in the sixties was built around wellness and staying young. And as a show of his commitment to his message, each year Jack would conduct a physical feat far exceeding the expectations of someone his age. At age 54, he defeated a 21-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger in a fitness contest. Jack lived 96 healthy years. You can do it, too.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Simplifying Your Life

Robert Manni - Friday, May 19, 2017


Modern life is way too complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way.

There's a myriad of ways to cut through the chaos we face each day, and benefits of breaking your day-to-day life down into tasty digestible chunks are many. Start with piece of mind; add a splash of humor, and a dash of creativity. Life doesn’t have to be so damn overbearing. Regardless of what your boss says, there can be a separation of life from work. And that’s why your Guy’s Guy is serving up a platter of ideas that will help make your life more pleasurable and manageable. I call it the Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Simplifying Your Life.  Here goes…

1. Stop double and triple booking – Most of us manage our calendars digitally so you’d think we’d be smart enough not to double up on our appointments. Wrong. Lots of folks say yes to everything that comes our way. We pile multiple events on the calendar before choosing what we feel like doing the most at that time. Then we blow off or reschedule all the other appointments. But it doesn’t end there—we end up doing the same thing a week later.

Overbooking might make you feel like an important person, but all it really means is that you don’t know how to manage your day. No one wants to disrespect people, and we’ve all cancelled on at the last minute. But even if there’s a valid reason for a change of plans, it can be annoying when you’re on the receiving end of the cancellation. Bottom line, overbooking does not make anyone feel good, and often creates anxiety while causing chaos. My suggestion is to plan just one event in a time slot. If you are already booked when something else comes up, do your very best to find another time. Then show up, be present, and enjoy the time without worrying about what you’re missing.

2. Get a handle on your dating life – If you’re single and in the game, it’s easy to fall into that all-too-familiar trap of having too many dates, but no meaningful relationship. Between all the dating apps and services, anyone one with a pulse, a personality, and can clean up can score their share of dates. But too many dates can be a trap. When you date too often, people become disposable. You trim the herd by ghosting or deleting potential partners without giving them a real chance. Before you know it, you’ve lost focus on why you are dating in the first place.

I realized that after years of dating and broken relationships that the reason I remained single was because regardless of my current status, I’d stayed active online and on the lookout for the next partner. Frankly, I was selfish. And this self-absorption cost me. I paid the price by losing a number of relationships because of selfish cravings and lack of focus. Everything changed when I met my wife online. We went on a few dates and things felt good. I was really enjoying her company. I was still dating for the first couple of weeks, but after I asked her what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend, she said the two words that changed everything.  She said, “pay attention”. And that was it. At that moment I decided to give our relationship a real chance. I logged off the dating sites and took the time to get to know this wonderful person who became my wife. And I’m glad I did. It settled me down and got me focused.

3. De-clutter – If you’re like me, you don’t follow the trends. You know what you like, your choices are practical and classic, and you take care of your things. That can be a good thing, but it also means you’ve accumulated a lot of “stuff”. Things like clothes, books, music, tech, furniture, and other stuff that clutters up your space. When your space is congested, all that clutter gets in the way, and even affects the way you think. It’s challenging to solve problems and create fresh perspectives when you sit down see that same pile of crap around your workspace.

Take the time to rifle through your closets every so often so you can prune and toss what you don’t use. The old 80/20 rules for clothing (people wear same 20% of their clothes 80% of the time) still applies. Plus, giving some nice things to charity helps those less fortunate and helps you. The same thing applies for furniture, books, and music. Even if you are not that charitable, you can still make a few bucks by selling your stuff online or at your local book or music store. 

4. Be present. Focus on doing one thing at a time – My son is turning four this week. How time flies. As you probably know, toddlers’ minds and behavior is often unfocused and contrarian. You tell them to do one thing and they do the opposite. It’s not because they’re ignoring us, it’s because their minds have not fully developed how to process, discern, and do what we ask them. It can be extremely frustrating, so I came up with a very short list of “rules” for my son. One of our favorites is “do one thing at a time”. Like many adults, he’s got an overactive mind and is always multitasking. And like an adult, he’s at his best when he concentrates on doing one activity at a time.

Staying focused and present has its rewards. It allows us opportunities to immerse ourselves in our work or play, clears our mind, and provides opportunities for accomplishment, as opposed to running around from place to place with three balls in the air. Try staying present and doing one thing at a time. Then see how it feels.

5. Treat yourself to a little down time, every day – Life is for living, not stressing. Unfortunately, we live in a culture driven by fear. Don’t fall into that trap. Manage your media consumption, social media, and meetings as best you can. Find an hour or two every day to get outside, exercise, meditate, or read. If you can’t do that, at least take a few moments each morning and evening to take stock of your life and what’s most important to you and your happiness. Use this time to reflect on your life, your family, your friends, your loves, and your dreams. Ultimately, amigos, isn’t that what it’s all about?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is you, the reader. By reading up to this point in my post you’ve taken the time to consider what I hope is a simple message that helps you live your best life.


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