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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

How to Find Peace Anywhere, Even New York City

Robert Manni - Friday, August 05, 2016


“If you can find peace here, you can find peace anywhere”.

That’s not Frank. It’s your Guy’s Guy. And it’s true. It’s possible to live a serene, drama-free lifestyle in New York City.

One way to find peace is to sit near the ocean watching the sea and listening to the waves crash against the shoreline. After a few short minutes you will definitely calm down. Another surefire way to quiet the mind is resting under a lotus tree on a remote mountainside. But how can we find bliss when we spend portions of our day, not on a mountaintop, but wedged into a sweaty, overcrowded 6 train during rush hour?

No worries. Finding peace in New York City is not as difficult as you may think. Over the years I have found a number of ways to stay calm and find tranquility, even in the city’s unusually stressful environment. So, I wanted to share are a few tips to help you chill. I’ve included a few of my faves and old standbys, and some new techniques I’ve recently picked up. And, trust me amigo, they all work if you have the right mindset and truly want to slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time. So without further adieu, here are your Guys’ Guy’s Tips for Finding Peace Anywhere, even in New York City.

1. Limit your media consumption – Everyone in New York is inundated with an endless barrage of media—internet, iPhones, television, text messages, Instagram, radio, podcasts, video games, newspapers, and all of the advertising that accompanies it. Every day we're clubbed and have our faces rubbed i[ a mixed mush of Trump, Isis, Hillary, and the damn Zika virus. You can’t even take a piss in a bar without seeing ads selling you the beer you just eliminated. It’s a vicious cycle.

In advertising, our aim is capitalize on feelings of lack to sell crap you really don’t need. Media takes things to another level. It preys upon our fears. Their strategy seems to be, “let’s scare the shit out of them so they’ll stay tuned”, hoping for a solution to the world’s problems. But as we know, whenever one problem is solved, lots more enter the trending news cycle. When people fall under this spell of doom and gloom it becomes close to impossible to find peace or solace.

There is one thing you can do to help alleviate the issue. Make sure you find the time to unplug every day. Be mindful of your work, but afterwards make it a goal to go old school. Don’t check your the phone every ten seconds, take a breather offline, have a real conversation, and see if you can leave the office without plugging in your ear buds. I know that’s tall order for millennials in a hyper-connected city like ours, but unplugging can make a big difference in elevating your mood and soothing your feelings of anxiety.

2. Replace it with literature, music, film, and art – One can argue that surfing the internet is reading, and most of the time, surfing the internet does consist of reading. But let’s consider what we’re reading when we’re online. Snarky Facebook posts about the election, what people had for lunch, or the latest news about Bernie Sanders, Kanye, Beiber, or the Kardashians probably won’t help your inner peace or sanity. Books and other art forms can help you find the peace you're seeking, if you consume peaceful content. Porn, ultra-violent graphic novels, speed metal, and Tarantino films are not recommended when you want to add peace to your day.

3. Walk more – Buses are slow. Subways are filthy and curtailed by delays. Taxis and Uber can get expensive quickly. And all these modes of transportation create stress. Want some peace? Over the years I have found that walking whenever possible does wonders for your heart, relaxes you, helps you learn the city, and is a great way to either start your day or de-stress after a tough go at the office. Of course there are times when we need to take public transportation or call Uber. But if you pay attention, you’ll find ample opportunities to walk instead of riding that stinky C train. And, over time you may find yourself steering your walks towards the more scenic urban landscapes like our wonderful parks. 

4. Meditate, do yoga, get physical – I find that twenty minutes of meditation or yoga helps alleviate stress and fosters peace. If a high intensity cardio workout can help get you into a zone where you can find clarity, then go for it. Any physical activity that requires focus also works to quiet that noise and monkey chatter in your mind.

5. Find tranquil settings – I’ve worked in most areas of Manhattan except for Wall Street. And having traversed almost every inch of Manhattan, I know enough to avoid Times Square, Midtown, and the financial district whenever possible. Between selfie-obsessed tourists, cartoon characters, and workers marching to and from the office texting and yapping into their cellphones, I steer clear of these over-populated sections of the city. If you are forced to spend time in one of these congested areas because of your job, if you look you will find a few mini-oasis and quiet places to sit, some with urban waterfalls. Weather permitting; stepping outside during your lunch hour or on a break does wonders for your mood.

6. Breathe – If you only do one thing to help you find peace in the city, make it being conscious of your breathing. Each time you can sit quietly for a moment, walk down the street, or when you’re feeling angst creep in, focus on your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Do this for a minute or two and I assure you that you will find a brief respite from your daily struggles. Simply pay attention to your breathing. The more you do it, the more bliss you will find. It’s that easy, amigos. Peace out.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Sri Dharma Mittra. He is a wise and peaceful yoga teacher who has an amazing studio on 23rd Street in Manhattan and followers worldwide. 

Why I Stopped Eating Meat

Robert Manni - Saturday, July 30, 2016


Nothing beats the taste of a well-cooked steak.

The grill marks, the dripping juices, and the scent of seared beef are enough to drive any carnivore insane. Add a fresh tossed salad, a side of grilled veggies, baked potato, and a glass of a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon and you have the components of a perfect meal. That’s what I thought until eight years ago when I first eliminated meat from my diet. Over this time I slowly but steadily dropped beef, pork, lamb, and then poultry from my menu. Although I’ve gone strictly vegetarian for a few months here and there, I still eat fish. I know that habit will become permanent, but I’ll only go there when it feels right.

I’m not suggesting that eliminating meat from your diet is right for everyone, but I’ll tell you this. I have never looked back and have never felt better nor had more energy any time in my adult life.

So what happened? Eight years ago I met the woman who would become my wife on a first date. We’d met online and in person at the little restaurant at the 79th Street Boat Basin. She told me she was a vegetarian, so when it came time she ordered a salad, a grilled Portobello mushroom, and a glass of white wine. I was hankering for a juicy cheeseburger and fries, but before ordering something came over me. It was an actual sensitive thought! I considered what blood dripping down the side of my burger and across my mouth might look to her. It could make her uncomfortable and might be a major turn off. So I ordered something else. After dinner we took a walk on the path along Riverside Park. The rest is history.

During our next few dates I inquired about her choice to become a vegetarian—why she chose it, what she ate, how long she had been a vegetarian, and if it made her feel any different. She told me that she been a vegetarian on and off for years after being a meat-eater for most of her life. She casually filled in the other blanks, but did not tout or try selling me on the virtues of going meat-free. I liked that. I also decided to give it a try. After a few rough days, it was relatively easy switching from beef burgers to turkey or tuna burgers. But, I still missed my steak. After a few weeks, I mostly forgot about meat and became more comfortable with the many alternatives.

Then I got sick. I developed a weird bronchial condition that sapped me of my energy at about 5pm every day. I would leave work soon after, usually drenched in a heavy sweat. I’d go home and lay on my bed still sweating, but with chills. I’d wrap myself in a blanket and cough a lot. It wasn’t fun and I wondered if this had anything to do with my diet. Thankfully my future wife visited and comforted me. She said my body was “detoxing” and the toxins from the stored meat molecules in my system were releasing into my system and challenging my immune system. At least I knew the cause. Finally, I took a powerful antibiotic and was soon back to normal. That short bout of what I can only refer to as “detoxing”(for lack of a better term) subconsciously convinced me to never eat meat again. A few months later I eliminated poultry and that was it.

Over time, my weight fluctuated due to my replacement of carbs for meat, but eventually I got a handle on how my system was reacting and handling the change from carnivore to “pescatarian”.  I eat wild-caught fish whenever possible to avoid the toxins in farmed fish.

How do I feel? My energy feels light; I am more active, and clocking better times in my runs than twenty years ago. My strength level is steady, with no loss even with the added eight years. Additionally, my digestive system feels less taxed after a meal than when I was eating meat. I really can’t think of a down side to the change.

Initially I did not stop eating meat because of the stress on the environment or the cruelty of factory farming. But, it’s true. Farming animals is inhumane, unhealthy, a cause of pollution, and unnecessary. There are lots of tasty alternatives to meat and no reason to kill animals for food unless you live in a remote part of the world where wild animals are your only choice for sustenance. Additionally, farmed animals are fed poorly. Cows are meant to eat grass, but are usually fed cheap GMO, grains sprayed with pesticides. Steroids and sedatives like Prozac are given to the animals to help eliminate stress. These poor creatures have good reason for their stress. And, we consume all of the crap the animals eat along with the toxicity from their stress hormones. If that’s not enough, the beef you buy in the supermarket is often injected with chemicals that change the color of the meat from brown to red. But, don’t let me sell you. Your Guy’s Guy is simply sharing his experience in eliminating meat from his diet.

And guess what? My wife now eats fish so we share a happy little household. There is no meat either cooked or stored in our home and it really makes the energy more peaceful. What about our three-year old? We’ve decided to feed him healthy organic foods whenever possible and no meat when he’s with us.  We allow him to have poultry at day care, but no beef, pork or lamb. When he gets older, he can make his own choices. That said, he’s a healthy, happy kid so we must be ding something right.

I hope this sheds some light on the virtues of eliminating meat from your diet. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but it worked for me. Whatever you decide to do, eat healthy, amigos. And, there is nothing as tasty as a well-cooked steak.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK are Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, Prince, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and all the other people who helped change the world without eating meat.

 

17 Ways You Can Save Money in NYC

Robert Manni - Friday, July 22, 2016


Money comes and money goes. And when it goes, it can go quickly.

So, for many of us living in these uncertain economic times, every few bucks saved can add up. That’s why every now and then your Guy’s Guy likes to share some of his hacks for saving coinage, even in a big, bad city where everything seems to cost more than anywhere else in the country. Although most of you thrifty-minded peeps will recognize some of these tips, let’s hope that you can garner a few new ideas while also refreshing your memory about the ones you already know, but may not be executing. You can talk about saving money all you want, but if you take a taxi to and from work each day you either have money to blow or when it comes to saving bucks, you are not doing a good enough job. So, here are seventeen go-to tips for keep money change in your pocket and seeing less go down the drain.

1. Walk whenever possible – New York is a great walking city and hoofing it is an excellent way to stay in shape and burn unwanted calories.

2. If you can’t walk, take public transportation  Another no-brainer that most New Yorkers have figured out. Plus, with so many of us on the trains and buses at all hours of the day and night, mass transit travel has never been safer relative to the amount of people using the MTA.

3. When necessary Uber, Via, Lyft, etc. instead of cabs – Hey, sometimes we all need a ride home. Sorry taxis. You did not adapt to a changing culture. Maybe you will now.

4. Don’t buy a newspaper – Everything is online in real time anyway. Who wants to toke the Times around on a crowded subway and who has time to read it except on the weekends? If you can’t get online, the two free daily papers will do just fine during a quick ride to the office.

5. Bring your lunch to work – There certainly are a lot of hot women in short skirts standing on that long line for Chop’t, but is it worth it to pay $12 for a salad in a plastic container that you eat at your desk while working up another Excel spreadsheet? Make lunch at home and bring it to work a few days during the week. You’ll live, and you’ll also eat better. Use the savings to buy drinks for those women on the Chop’t line.

6. Bananas  They are really good for you (potassium). And, you can still get a nice big one for a quarter if you buy four in a bunch. Bananas taste great and they become more nutritious when their skin begins to turn.

7. Happy hour – I don’t think I need to explain this one. But how many times have you walked into a bar ten minutes after happy hour ended? Drinking in bars is expensive, amigos. Getting a head start will save some cash. Who knows, you might get free apps with that cocktail, too.

8. Drink at home before going out on weekends – I’m not pushing alcohol, but if you do drink, top shelf drinks can run you $20 a round. That adds up.

9. Buy top shelf booze in large sizes at discount stores – Your Guy’s Guy only drinks the good stuff, so I did my research and found some liquor stores that have deals on discontinued items. In fact I recently bought a $54 bottle of tequila for $18.99 at Broadway Discount off Astor Place. That’s a $35 savings for a tasty tequila.

10. Movie Matinees – Believe it or not, you can still score a deal to see new movies on the big screen. AMC theaters offer a $7.50 price for before noon.

11. Netflix – Everyone has access to Netflix. But, have you thought about how much you can save using it?  If you enjoy binge watching Marco Polo you can get a whole season of the show for a song versus what you pay for a movie in the theater or for premium cable.

12. Books, CD’s, DVD’s – I recently purchased a returned hardcover copy of the brand new best-selling book about the Rolling Stones for half price at Strand. Now that I’ve read it, I will sell it back again along with my CD’s and DVD’s wherever I can get a fair shake for my goods. It adds up.

13. Coupons – Maybe Mom really did know best. Since I don’t buy most of the processed crap they sell down the aisles of the supermarket I rarely use grocery coupons. That said, with my trusty Coupon Sherpa app I can always get a deal when shopping for clothes at J.Crew, Gap, Levis, etc. There are also coupons for eyeglasses, travel, and a few dining options that are palatable to a New Yorker’s tastes.

14. Bring your coffee from home – For the investment in a quality lightweight thermos you can reap major savings by buying a top shelf brands of coffee or tea and making batches at home. I always keep a big jug of chilled home made organic rooibos tea or organic coffee on hand for the summer months. It saves me hundreds of dollars.

15. Free stuff – The free daily newspapers usually list the free things going on in the city over the coming weekend. It could be yoga classes, concerts, and other things of value. And these events are great ways to meet new peeps with similar interests. Worth a shot...

16. Lasker Pool – There is a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool open all summer at the northwest end of Central park near the Harlem Meer. The pool is spotless and you can swim laps early in the morning. Most people have never heard of it, but it’s real.

17. Quit the gym in the summer- Unless you are going four or five days a week, the gym can be a major waste of money in the summer. There are lots of ways to stay in shape outside and on your own.  And if necessary, you can always take a class or buy multiple classes at a bulk discount. Now put on those running shorts and shoes.

There are lots more ways to save, but this feels like a good place to stop for now. The point is that although NYC can be a very expensive place to live, there are always ways to save money if you use that same big brain that scored you that cool job in the Big Apple to save a few bucks hear and there. It all adds up. See you at Happy Hour.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the Week is Asa Candler who launched the first coupon in 1887. He was also the owner of Coca-Cola. Very smart guy.

See also: Money Hacks from your Guy's Guy

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 3 (The Wedding)

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 14, 2016


When it comes to weddings, I’m no expert. In fact, I avoided marriage like the plague for years until I met my wife.

However, throughout my decades of bachelorhood, I attended quite a few wedding ceremonies and have a few ideas to share about what I have seen working for the bride, the groom and the guests. There are thousands of resources you can tap and articles you can read about how to handle every aspect of your big day. So, I’m not going to get into picking out dresses and all of that. I’ll simply tackle the big picture from the perspective of a Guy’s Guy. This key to this special day is making sure the setting and ceremony are ideal for your bride and yourself. After all, if you’re lucky, you’ll only be doing this once, so why not make it a day to remember in a good way?

I got married later in life to a woman who was previously married for ten years. She told me that she didn't have fun at her first wedding because she allowed her Mom and sister to take charge of the process. In their zeal, they exceeded their duties and took over every aspect of the celebration. You may ask, “whose blame is it when this happens?” I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard this story before. I guess Mom and sis were given too much input on the venue, dress, food, photography, and just about everything else. In the end, my wife felt that the wedding was actually for the benefit of her mother and sister. The bottom line is that it was not a joyous day for her, and the marriage got off to a rocky start. So when it was our turn to tie the knot, my wife was looking forward to making her second wedding day something she could look back on with love. So with that, let’s begin our Guys’ Guy’s insights on wedding right here:

1. Start the marriage on a positive note. 

I had never been married or given much thought to the actual wedding beyond my showing up. But, I wanted to be there for my wife, be open to ideas, and show her support. And I am glad I did. She was super cool about every aspect of our wedding day and we had a great time. I believe that's one of the reasons our marriage has been successful to date.  

So when you are stressing the details of planning out your special day, keep in mind the love for your partner, the importance of keeping an open mind, and making sure that you do whatever is necessary to have a joyful wedding day. Consider your bride’s priorities and what will it take to make her day special. Whatever those things are, I suggest you go for it and don’t look back. Anything that gets your marriage off to a strong start is a wise investment.

2. Plan in advance.

This goes without saying. Venues get booked years in advance so you need to make a check list and get started early. Between the venue, food, booze, invitations, photographers, transportation, changes, etc., etc., etc., weddings can be incredibly time-consuming. I repeat; you need to plan your wedding well in advance.

3. No destinations, please.

I’ve attended a few destination weddings and they were fun, but I’ve also passed on a few of these affairs also. Nowadays, with time being such a premium and the cost of travel, it’s a lot to ask of people to hop on a plane to the Caribbean and invest a few grand and three days of their time devoted to your wedding. I know that sounds harsh, but is it possible to make your wedding somewhat accessible to the people attending? In some way, everyone has to travel to your wedding, but that does not have to include also jetting off to the islands. We’d all like to get married on the beach in Hawaii, but will you attend all the destination weddings you get invited to? This is something to consider. If you really feel it’s necessary and can pay for the guests’ rooms, then do it.

4. Keep it simple and think outside of the box.

Our wedding was very simple—we decided to get married at 11am on a Saturday morning in late June at a quaint chapel on the Jersey Shore. We keep the list of invitees to our closest friends and relatives to give the ceremony a sense of intimacy. We held our reception at a nearby restaurant. That night we held a barbeque on the beach and a blow out at our beach house with a larger group of friends and family. We were lucky. We had perfect weather, a wonderful ceremony, a great reception, a fun barbeque, and a party that lasted until 3am. It was a blast. We kept things simple, because it was what worked for us. I have been to a number of big weddings that were equally as fun; it’s really up to you and what will make you happy.

5. Go on your honeymoon right away.

I’ve heard of couples putting off their honeymoons for a few months due to work and other obligations. Try not to do this. Your marriage is a priority, and in my mind, part of the ceremony is the honeymoon. Do whatever it takes to get away with your bride within a week of the wedding. This keeps the momentum going and will pay off in spades when you look back on this milestone. The whole wedding enchilada counts, and that includes the honeymoon. As for where to go and what to do, I’ll leave that to you. After the stress of the wedding, and it is stressful, my wife and I wanted to chill at a resort with a beach. So it was off to Turks and Caicos. And we had an awesome time.

So that’s my three cents in a three-part series on when to get engaged, married, and having a great wedding. The key to success for all of these steps is to always remember the reason that you are tying the knot with this person. She or he is the one you love most and with whom you want to share your life. If you maintain this as your top priority and a major consideration in all decisions, you’re on your way to a successful engagement, wedding, and marriage. Good luck, amigos.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 2 (The Engagement)

Robert Manni - Saturday, July 09, 2016


I like to keep things simple and try things once. That includes getting engaged, being married, and having a kid.

Been there done that. I’ve read a lot about putting a ring on it, most of it from the female perspective. Women have invested lots of psychic energy into the details and finer points of popping the question and the wedding. And they should be applauded for all the articles and posts, and also for putting up with their guys throughout all the ceremonial hoopla. The actual process of getting engaged is the trickiest aspect to getting married because in most cases it’s the guy who is doing the asking. With that in mind, a few young bucks have asked me to write about managing this process, so I wanted to share my Guys’ Guy’s point of view about this important milestone.

Let’s begin by clearing stating that there is no set blueprint to getting engaged. There are a lot of ways to do it right and just as many to screw it up. You can post your intentions on the scoreboard of Yankee Stadium or get down on one knee on the beach at sunset. It doesn’t matter where or how you do it, as long as it feels romantic and holds meaning for both of you. Ultimately it’s about following your heart, and then using your mind to make getting engaged a memorable event. Here are a few considerations for each of the critical steps.

1. Make sure she’s the one – There has never been a truer old adage than “fools rush in”. How many friends do you know who got married too soon to the wrong person only to find themselves in a divorce a few years later? There is always at least one broken heart and often kids involved. So what’s the hurry, people? I don’t believe in starter marriages. Instead I say wait. Wait and wait until you are sure you have found the right person to share your life with. You’ll need check marks for companionship, kindness, values, sex, and a shared sense of humor for when you’re both faced with life’s random occurrences. Then to be sure, double and triple check your heart again. If everything feels right, then go ahead, amigo, and make your move.

2. Buy a ring – If you have step one in order and you know that she is ready to commit to spending her life with you, then I suggest buying ring before asking for her hand in marriage. Some people still follow the tradition of asking her father ahead of time. If that works for you, then do it. But first ask yourself what you are going to do if he gives you the thumbs down. Hmmm. That’s tricky. In any case sniff around to see if you can sort out what type of rings she prefers. I’m not sure it’s wise to ask her friends or sisters because they might blab. But whatever you determine to be the right fit for her and your spending limit, add another twenty-five percent to your budget. You never want t take the chance of looking like a cheapskate for the rest of your life because you wanted to save some coin on the ring. Another tip is asking your married friends where they bought their rings. If you’re lucky, you might score a contact in your local Diamond District that could save you a few grand on your purchase.

3. Pop the question- She’s the one, check. Got the ring, check. Now it’s time to ask her for her hand. There are endless ways to do this, but make sure it feels romantic and special to the both of you. This way you’ll always share a great memory of when you got engaged. I asked my future wife out to dinner on a sultry summer night. We headed to an old school, cash only Italian joint in Brooklyn Heights. After our pasta and red wine, we took a walk along the Brooklyn Promenade. When we stopped to enjoy the lights of Manhattan I reached for the ring and dropped to one knee and proposed. I told her that I loved her and that she was the one for me, or something like that. Then I said, “How about it?” She laughed and said, “yes”. Okay, it wasn’t perfect, but we both have a funny memory of that wonderful evening. And she still loves her engagement and her wedding ring. We picked out the wedding band the following week.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is the way to do it, but it worked for us. There was great food and wine, a starry summer’s night and then me on my knees. So use your noggin’, come up with a plan, buy the ring, and be ready to look into her eyes and pop the question

4. Set a date and stick to it- How many young couples do you know who say they are engaged, but never seem to lock down a date to actually get married? My advice is to do your very best to find a date within a year of your engagement. If necessary, add a few months. But that’s it. If you guys really want to get married, you’ll make locking down that big date a priority. If your timeline keeps getting pushed back and back and back, it’s not a great sign.

5. Keep it fun- After dealing with all the pressure of deciding on the right person, picking out the perfect ring, coming up with a memorable way to pop the question, and then finding a date and all of the other wedding details, it’s important to remind yourselves that the reason you are going through all of this is because you love this person more than anything and you want to have a happy, fun life together. Don’t ever forget the fun factor. If you are finding that the process is more a chore than a pleasure, remind yourself to keep it light. If the whole thing becomes a total drag, then buyer beware. Because you ain’t seen nothing yet, and by that I mean the final step in the process— the wedding.

Until next week…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 1

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Getting married is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life.

Ironically, a lot of people must be getting it wrong because the divorce rate in America is over fifty percent. Personally, I waited a long time before getting married. In fact, I waited so long that most of my nieces and nephews got married and had kids before their Uncle Bob even popped the question. I waited so long that no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married at holiday get-togethers. Not even my mother. Now, that’s a long time.

Looking back I realized that I had my reasons for the delay and in retrospect I’m glad I waited. Although my wife and I are older parents now of a young son and we need to factor time into family-based decisions, I’m happy that I waited for two main reasons. First, I was not ready to get married until a few months before we met and more importantly, she is the right person for me. It’s that simple. I do not look back with regret or question myself with mental what if’s— like would I have wanted to get married if we’d met when I was thirty? We’re here now. And now is the best time because now is all that matters. Without getting philosophical, let me share some of what I learned about the overall process and feelings about getting married with you.

Know who you are and what you want.

Although I was blessed with growing up with a mother, father, and an older brother, I really did not have a mentor. In fact, beyond living in a loving household with strong values and good people, I was always considered the odd duck. As a result, I learned most of what I know now by sorting through things on my own. And in many cases that took me a longer time than others. When it came to women, I did not have any sisters or female cousins so I was a slow learner and often mystified by these strange female creatures.

I left for college at the age of seventeen and over the next few decades learned a lot about women, and most it the hard way. I had a number of girlfriends, random hook ups, and rejections, but I really did not know who I was or what I was looking for until later in life and a few years before is was too late. I enjoyed living the good life in New York City with a good career and all the sex. Why would I want to give that up? So, I didn’t. Friends got married. Friends had kids. Guys cheated on their wives. Friends got divorced. I remained single.

I did get involved a few long-term relationships and stayed with two-live in partners for too long. As a result we burned valuable time. They both ultimately walked out on me, and in the long run both times I was better off. I continued dating and really hit the jackpot when online dating became the norm. I never realized how easy it was to meet so many great women in New York. But then something hit me. I realized that I had become somewhat of a selfish lout. I was getting bored with myself and finally ready to get married. Now that’s not the greatest path to this realization nor does it bide well for a potential partner, but that’s how it happened for me. And more importantly, I somehow knew I had to create room in my heart for someone new. And that was it. So maybe I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

I told my mother I’d be getting married soon. Of course she was excited and wanted to know the woman’s name. I told her I did not know her name yet, but I knew it would happen soon. She gave me a strange look, but the following year I introduced my mother to my future wife. I’m not saying things happen exactly like this for everyone or that this is how things should happen, but this is what happened to me. Somehow, I knew when I was ready to share and I knew deep down inside that I needed to make room for someone else in my heart for marriage to be successful. I don’t think I would have been happy being married until I experienced this epiphany.

I never thought I would get married until I decided that I wanted to get married and I never thought about being a parent until I was ready to become a parent. And so far, things are working out nicely. I’m still self-centered to a certain extent. But I don’t have as much time to think only about myself or my needs now, and as a result, my capacity to love others has increased exponentially. And, that’s a good thing.

The bottom line is that when it comes to marriage; follow your own internal compass. No matter what your age is, don’t let yourself be swayed by your family, friends, or society. When you are ready to get married, you’ll know it. And, hopefully you will have created a huge space in your heart to share with your life partner.

Next time we’ll tackle the basics of getting engaged. Until then, love yourself, amigos.

Building Your Digital Dating Presence Part 3 - Photos and Names

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 23, 2016


Many people, particularly men, scan the online profiles by solely looking at the photos. They will only read the profiles of good-looking singles or profiles with ‘sexy’ pictures and do not bother opening profiles of people they don’t find attractive. So choosing the right photos is critical.

Yes, you need a photo. Rule number one: if you want to succeed at online dating, you must include photos in your profile. No matter how eloquent, clever, or interesting your bio reads, if you do not post at least one photo, your chances of meeting someone are severely hampered. Ask yourself, would you honestly take the time to connect with someone online that did not post a photo?  Wouldn’t you wonder why the person didn’t include a photo? Probably even the most well-meaning of us would assume something was wrong; either the person was unattractive and embarrassed about their appearance or they were hiding something of a possibly negative nature/ So, even if the reason for not posting a picture were benign, it is much better not to stay hidden because most people probably wouldn’t take the chance to find out.

There may be truly exceptional cases, though. For example, once a woman who had not posted her photo contacted me. She told me that she liked what she read about me and that she had not included her photo because she was the CEO of a well-known corporation. However, she offered to email her photo. I don’t think I would have agreed to meet if she hadn’t. But, I understood why she wanted to stay incognito.

How many photos do you need?  When it comes to deciding how many photos and which ones to choose, the old ‘not too few and not too many’ adage comes to mind. Profiles featuring a dozen photos can be a sign of self-confidence, or taken to the extreme, narcissism. Again, a little mystery goes a long way when meeting someone new. A good rule of thumb for posting is three to five photos. You can pour through your current photos, maybe ask a friend to help you choose the best shots, or shoot a fresh set on your own or even professionally. Any method works as long as you keep in mind that the photos, like your profile, are not for you. These photos are sales tools, carefully selected to attract new people into your life.

First, you’ll need a headshot that provides a clear picture of your face. That means a current photo without sunglasses or your favorite hat. If you’re a guy, women want to see your eyes, your teeth, and your hair. A warm smile can go a long way in a headshot. If you want to project a more circumspect, moody vibe, that’s cool, however try including another photo of you smiling. You should also choose a photo of yourself in a social setting. Some good options are of you attending an event, such as a wedding, a family celebration, a conference or an outing, or a dinner. One of the photos should show other people with whom you are having a good time so that people know you are social and have fun and enjoy being in the company of others. Another possibility, if you are athletic, is to include an action shot of you participating in a favorite activity, preferably outdoors. If you’re in good shape, consider having a photo of you at the beach, hiking, or playing a sport showing off your fitness. This can include shots of you boating, skiing, running, or even playing with your dog at the beach. You get the picture. You want the world to see that you’re fit, active, healthy, and fun. If you are not athletically inclined or have body issues, choose a photo of you doing things you are passionate about, possibly playing an instrument, painting, or whatever tells some truths about the authentic you.

Finally, consider a ‘wildcard’ photo with you doing something unexpected like a cultural event or concert, standing in front of the Pyramids, or at a Halloween party where you can show off your bad-girl outfit. If you’re over forty, there’s a good chance that you’ve been married or have kids. If so, consider including a photo with your children if it feels right for you, but only choose photos that give your prospects an authentic sense of who you are.

Do you think I’m sexy? Here’s a word of caution about posting sexy photos, especially when you’re over forty. Let’s start with the guys. Keep your shirts on and no flexing. It’s okay to show a picture of yourself surfing or involved in a physical activity where you normally do not wear a shirt. But, there are not many situations where shirts are not required.

Now for the gals. It’s okay to be proud of your body and to be comfortable showing it off. But, keep in mind that sexy photos usually result in sexual responses. Regardless of age guys are hopelessly visual creatures. Many grown men still go crazy when they see photos of women dressed in lingerie or a Brazilian bikini. So sure, if you are a woman, you’ll get a lot of responses when you post sexy photos. Sex is good and it sells. But, come on, you’ll want quality responses versus the sheer number of hits you’ll get from a hot photo if you are serious about meeting someone to have a meaningful relationship.

The money shot. After honing down the number of pictures to post, you need to choose a primary photo. This is your most important photo because it’s the one people see first. So it should be the photo you are most comfortable with and the one that best communicates your personal brand. For many people, the primary photo is the headshot. Pick the photograph that you like best. Then ask a friend for their input and when you make a decision, stick with your primary photo for while. This way you will also get a sense of how much interest you are garnering before changing it.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

You might think the first step in creating an engaging online profile is choosing a catchy headline and user name. Actually the best time to come up with those handles is after crafting your bio and selecting the right photos. You want to make sure your user name fits the rest of your profile and isn’t too random or cutesy. Try to come up with something simple, positive, and fun without being too silly and without using your real name. Although my name is Robert, a few of my friends called me Maximum Bob, the name of an Elmore Leonard novel. My birthday is on the twenty-second of the month. So I used Maximum22. It’s not Shakespeare, but it sounds positive and many women playfully referred to me as Max in their correspondence. So it worked for me.

Now, for a headline. Here is where people either try too hard or don’t put any effort into this key component of your profile. Some dating websites and apps do not require a headline, but for the ones that do, again try your best to come up with something short and represents who you are and what you’re looking for. And what works best is to use a short set of words rather than a long multisyllabic words. Once you have some ideas, test them out on a friend. By now, you’re probably buying a nice lunch for all your friends’ help with your profile and photos. But, you should be ready to post your profile and get the party started! And again, don’t sign up for more than three online services at a time. Managing all the responses, particularly if you are an attractive woman or man, takes time. You want to avoid being overwhelmed and overexposed.

You may think that the rules for setting up a successful online profile and presence are not that different when you are over forty. In many ways it’s true. The rules are basically the same, but when you are over forty, you want to show just a tad more class and restraint, at least when posting online. You can always fly your freak flag in person. 

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 2

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Stay Positive – It’s important to be in a good frame of mind when writing your profile because your mood impacts your decisions about what or what not you include in your profile. How we feel about ourselves is often communicated by what we post online. So, it’s important to focus on the positive. Think of your bio as both an introduction and a conversation starter. Would you like meeting someone new who starts by saying, “I don’t like… I don’t like…” or with a list of negative things to say? It’s a buzz kill that short-circuits people’s interest. So try not to include all the things you don’t like in your profile. Everyone has pet peeves and personal characteristics that rub them the wrong way. But, your online bio is not the place for them. Unless you have an overarching deal-breaker such as being allergic to dogs or not wanting to date a smoker, do your very best to eliminate the negatives from your profile.

Finally, self-perception, how we feel about ourselves, is also communicated by what’s posted online. Just as a list of negatives of what turns us off is not desirable, also avoid including anything negative about yourself. Focus on your good qualities. Talk to your friends to come up with a list. Then ask a friend to read it and give you feedback. A short list of positives communicates confidence. A list that is too long reeks of narcissism.

Honesty - Another critical component of your profile is honesty. Many online daters have been known to stretch the truth about their height, weight, occupation, and of course, their age. I don’t condone it but in some ways it’s understandable. For example, people age differently. If a forty-one year-old woman in great shape identifies herself as thirty-nine it probably won’t be a deal-breaker. But, if things work out over the long term, eventually she’ll find herself in a situation where she needs to tell the truth. The bottom line is that if you are less than truthful about any aspect of who you are, you’re taking a chance. Your true height, weight, occupation, marital and financial status will eventually surface, so be prepared for the possibility of losing someone due to what you may consider only to be a white lie. You never know what the deal breakers are for other people.

One area of your profile where dishonesty will not be tolerated is your current relationship status. You always need to be absolutely truthful about your current relationship status. Always let your connections know if you are separated, divorced, or even in an open marriage. The other person deserves your respect, and that means knowing your dating status. The same honesty applies to kids. You cannot hide this fact, nor should you. Another area where honesty is helpful is letting the market know if you’re interested in dating casually or looking for a relationship. When it comes to online dating, it’s best to stay open-minded. Many casual daters meet their match online and evolve into a committed relationship. And that’s a good thing. On the other hand don’t let honesty keep you from showcasing the very best version of you to the online dating universe. Take a tip from politicians and savvy marketers who know ways to shape the truth. Maybe due to your current financial situation you have not been able to travel as much as you did previously. That does not mean you cannot profess your love of travel and penchant for snorkeling in the Caribbean. You can also mention far off places you’d like to visit. In any case, when it comes to travel, you can set your sights higher than the neighborhood amusement park if you want to communicate your sense of adventure and lust for exotic locales, especially if you’re interested in meeting someone who shares a similar interest.

Food is another area where you can have fun. Most singles eventually share a meal on a date. Since everyone experiences food through their own personal lens, sharing your likes and experiences is where honesty can help you find a better match. In today’s culture food tells a lot about a person. That makes it a topic worth considering for your bio. Beyond the cliché, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, food is definitely an area for bonding that bridges many cultures, lifestyles, and financial status.  Consider a mention of your fondness for Asian fusion, your favorite restaurant, or that special dish you like to cook. A woman who prefers five star dining is probably not going to enjoy a night out with a guy who chows down on fast food every day. Also mention if you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or whatever food restrictions you feel is important to share. These days, food choices might become a commonality that makes it easier to connect with someone new.

Your Wish List Your profile should include a short list of the qualities you’re seeking in a partner. The keyword is short, meaning no more than two or three characteristics in a partner that are important to you. I realize that over the years many people have compiled built lengthy lists of must-haves for their prospective partners. These lists include everything from income level and profession to their date’s taste in shoes. Long detailed lists like these do not guarantee success in online dating. Rather, it may become an obstacle by narrowing the range of people that are “acceptable” to date. If you’ve decided that online dating is for you, I suggest putting that list aside or trimming it down to a few mission critical must-haves. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for the same results you’ve gotten in traditional offline dating—a general frustration that there aren’t any people worthwhile to date. If there is one definitive truth about online dating, it’s that you’ll meet lots of people you never would have met if you had not signed up for the service. That’s a good starting point. So, limit the list, keep your profile positive, and remain open-minded.

To be continued…

Building Your Digital Dating Presence - Part 1: Getting Started

Robert Manni - Monday, June 06, 2016


“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, THE REPUBLIC

Before jumping into the digital dating fray, take a deep breath, exhale, and relax. Dating is supposed to be fun, right? As Plato knew so many centuries ago, how we begin often determines our chances for success. Our first steps are critical in making that all-important first impression and drawing the kind of person to you that you want to date. Too often singles rush into online dating fueled by emotional triggers like eagerness, anxiety, and desire. They quickly sign up for a plethora of web services and apps based solely on their friends’ experiences without fully considering which services best fit their particular needs. Then they slap together a profile, upload it, and hope for the best. This kind of approach will rarely bring success. To avoid wasting time attracting and engaging with the wrong people, your digital platform should clearly communicate who your are, what you want, and what you offer to the thousands of singles who will be looking at your profile online. If you take the time to set yourself up the right way, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment and have much better odds for attracting your ideal mate.

HOW MANY DATING SERVICES ARE RIGHT FOR YOU?

Initially, talking to your friends is a good way to get some candid views of what’s out there. They can tell you the pros and cons of the apps and sites they use, but before signing up for any of them. It’s important to determine how much time you really have for dating and how many websites and apps you can handle or else you can get overwhelmed. I suggest choosing no more than three services or apps when starting out. If offered, try a trial membership before committing. This way you can get a feel for the various features before committing to a membership. Keep your initial list to a minimum. Managing a number of subscriptions takes time, so limiting the number makes the process manageable. It also protects your profile from overexposure. Other daters who’ve subscribed to multiple dating services will certainly see your profile as it pops up. Due to the algorithms used by most dating websites, new profiles or profiles with changes usually zoom to the top. If you are over forty and plastered all over dozens dating websites, other prospects may view you as desperate. Another practical consideration is money. Almost all the dating websites and apps charge fees and this can add up quite quickly. Better to reserve more funds for all of those dates you’re going to score. Remember, after you get comfortable with the nuances of online dating, you can always sign up on additional websites.

YOUR PROFILE

Do Your Research - A great way to get started is by looking at other profiles and seeing what others have done that you like. Ask yourself what kind of information was shared and how it was framed that sparked your interest. This includes not only what others included, but also what was left out of these profiles that made you want to know more about that particular person. Scanning profiles doesn’t take long and it can be fun. It’s a worthwhile investment that can help prepare you to craft a winning profile.

Keep it Brief and to the Point - Putting together a crisp, to-the-point bio may sound easy, but many daters over forty including professionals, business executives, and teachers struggle when crafting their online dating ‘resume’. Many are uncertain where to begin and what to highlight in their profile. They over-think the process and weave long, wordy, tedious biographies instead of short, easily digestible profiles. Age is certainly a factor in this. The older we get, the more we’ve seen and done. Many of us may have already gone through first marriages and careers and are already into the second and third chapters of our lives. So it’s better to keep this biography streamlined. Focus on current interests and only include details that are important to you now. Remember, the profile is a reflection of the person who writes it. So regardless of good looks or personal accomplishments, if what they post is overly long, ponderous bio, readers will subconsciously wonder if he or she is boring, too. That’s why it is important to keep your copy focused and on the short side. Everything included should only reinforce your personal brand image.

 On the flip side, keeping things brief does not mean writing so little that things appear disjointed, and for some brevity is a euphemism for laziness. For example, there are a lot of guys who don’t take their profile seriously. They throw a few sentences together and post it with a few random photos. They assume that everyone will know who they are and what they are all about, but, the point is, everyone doesn’t, and most won’t waste time trying to find out when there are so many other profiles that are clearer and easier to read. A dater’s bio and photos are the most critical components of your online dating presence, so it’s worth the time to craft them to a level of the people they want to meet. So, what should you include?

Cover the basics about yourself, the type of person you are looking for, and what you have to offer. That means sharing what you do for a living, where you live, your interests, and the kind of people with whom you like to socialize. A few short paragraphs are all that’s necessary. Keep your profile crisp, short, and fun. Leaving a little mystery and something for the imagination can work wonders.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to the Common Cold

Robert Manni - Friday, May 27, 2016


I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. I’m a Guy’s Guy.

But like all men and women, I occasionally come down with that nagging virus known as he common cold. It takes various forms and brings with it a multitude of symptoms, usually led by a runny nose, a scratchy throat, low energy, and an overall feeling of not being your usual perky self. Over the years I’ve tried a number of ways to shake off these symptoms and get back to being one hundred percent as quickly as possible. Along the way, I’ve had some success and learned a few things about taking care of myself when that nasty bug barges into my world. In fact, I’m just coming out of a weeklong bout contracted from my mother-in-law who picked up a random germy thing while vacationing in Europe. I’m feeling better now and my findings are as fresh as Donald Trump’s latest insult.

Here are my top ways of managing your mind, body, and spirit when a nasty common cold decides to stop into your world for a week to ten-day visit.

1. Sleep – When you aren’t feeling well, your body needs rest. It’s that simple. The more time you devote to sleeping, the faster your body will combat an attacking virus and restore itself to perfect health, which, by the way, is our natural state of being. This past week, I gave up my space in bed to my mother-in-law and decided to opt for sleeping on a mat on the floor rather than sinking into a big old comfy couch. It was a bit hard to get used to, but in the end I slept much better on the mat. I also made sure to grab extra winks whenever the opportunity presented itself. And, man, it really helped my body regenerate. Hey, sleep is always a good thing, even when you aren’t under the weather.

2. Natural anti-viral supplements – I eschew the plethora of Big Pharma products we find on the shelf and the over-the-counter remedies available to mask our aches, pains and runny noses. Of course there are times when you’re really sick and need a doctor’s prescription, but Mother Nature offers many natural herbs and ingredients that I’ve found to be really helpful when battling the common cold. My number one, go-to item is organic ginger. Ginger has anti-viral properties that kill viruses. The trick is putting the ginger directly in contact with where the virus lives. First I peel and slice the ginger. Then I toss the pieces into a small pot of water and boil it for about twenty minutes. I keep a lid on the heated liquid. This creates a steam that I carefully inhale when lifting the lid just enough to allow me to take the vapor into my nasal passages. I do this for a few minutes. Then I pour the remaining liquid into a cup and drink the ginger tea with honey and lemon. It tastes great and I get results right away.  However, buy enough ginger so you can repeat the process for at least two days. This past week I made the mistake of using up my stash and not replenishing it because I thought I’d stamped out every trace of the virus. I hadn’t and the cold came back.

My other go-to item is drinking organic clay mixed in water. My favorite is pascalite clay, which comes from Wyoming. The clay has powerful anti-viral properties; it collects and kills viruses or any bug you may have picked up that are living in your gut or intestines.  Though not everyone buys into detoxification, clay is actually heralded as a great detoxifying agent. Whenever I drink my clay my sore throat symptoms disappear almost immediately. Again, I’ve found it best to continue drinking the clay and water mixture throughout the week. I also load up on multivitamins, vitamin D, high doses of vitamin C, flax, probiotics, and turmeric. Once again, I choose natural and organic supplements whenever possible. And again, I’m a Guy’s Guy, not a doctor. I’m only sharing what has worked for me.

3. Fluids – Most Americans are dehydrated. We simply don’t consume enough fluids. And when you have a nasty cold, you need to eliminate that bad stuff out of your body as quickly as possible. Drink, drink, drink, amigos. And if you still insist on those cold beers when you’re under the weather, drink even more water. You may pee a lot, but you’ll eliminate toxins, too. So, drink up.

4. Sweat it out – Depending on how good or bad you feel; you may want to consider including light exercise as part of your routine for recovery. The old adage is that it’s okay to work out if your symptoms stay above the neck. I agree. I find that working up a sweat through cardio is a great way to eliminate toxins. This past week in New York, the weather turned beautiful. But although it was eighty degrees in Central Park, I opted to spend an hour inside on the elliptical trainer versus my usual six-mile run around the outer loop. And I’m glad I did—I simply felt too weak to push myself up and down all those hills. I also gave up my beloved push-ups for the week. I’ve been a push up freak since I was thirteen, so I figured that a week off would not have an adverse effect. Of course, I also left the iron alone during this time.

5. Adjust your schedule – Although we do our best to be flexible, there are some things we can’t avoid, even when we are not feeling one hundred percent. Champions show up, right? That said, in those areas where we can adjust our schedules and responsibilities, it’s wise to dial it back when you are on the mend. You can always replace that lost time by catching up on your reading or getting more rest.

Of course these five pointers won’t prevent you from catching those pesky common colds, but all of the above have helped me on the road to a rapid recovery.  Do what works for you, but be open-minded.  You can benefit from supplements and anything that promotes a healthy lifestyle and consistent recovery regime. Hey, I’m ready for a long overdue a six-mile run.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Edgar Cayce, a clairvoyant and widely considered as the father of holistic healing.    


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