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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

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.    

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 3)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 23, 2016


I was still determined to master the art of online dating by using my skills as a long-term marketer and advertiser. I reminded myself that my profile was not for me. I was not the customer. My profile was for the person I wanted to date.

So I reviewed my profile and once again asked myself what I wanted, what made me different, and what I had to offer a woman. It’s easy to be self-critical, but we’re all special in some ways. I identified the qualities that I thought separated me from the herd and asked a few women I knew if they agreed. I asked them what they looked for in a man. Most of them wanted to date a guy with a job, a dream, confidence, and a sense of humor, kindness, and relatively good looks.  I used this feedback in my profile and made sure there were no typos or grammatical errors. I also changed my specs for the type of women I was interested in meeting. I realized I wanted to date women who knew what they wanted, shared my values, and were emotionally available. Finally, I expanded my geographic search parameters beyond the world of Manhattan and the ‘lists’. You may have read about women’s lengthy lists of must-have qualities men need to have to be even considered datable. My advice? Shake it off. Be yourself because nothing beats authenticity. Ultimately, everyone wants to be with someone who’s interested in the real person, not the “best front” we sometimes present during our initial weeks of a courtship.

Then I went back online. I decided to keep my contact rules in place before meeting anyone in person. If things did not feel right when we met, I wouldn’t waste our time. I’d share a drink and move on. However, even if there was no spark or the possibility of a romantic connection, it was important to treat the women I met respectfully. In today’s digital dating scene, it’s easy to disappear like a ghost or simply delete someone with a keystroke, but we’re dealing with people who are just like us. People who have feelings and who are also searching for a connection. So if there was no real chemistry with my date, I did my best to keep the conversation going until she finished her cocktail. It was the least I could do. As a result, some of the women that I met became friends. In fact, a few of them even set me up on dates with their cute friends. It pays to be nice.

With my newly updated profile, I was getting better responses from women than when I first signed up. When I saw someone I was attracted to, I read her profile a few times to get a sense of whom she really was. I made sure her bio wasn’t laced with, “Me, me, me…” or  “I don’t like…” I’d send a brief note— never a wink or a poke. I’d also mention something she had included in her profile—maybe that Korean dish she made or her recent trip to a yoga retreat. I might also add something about me that wasn’t in my profile. If she replied, I’d respond with another short note and my phone number, full name and personal email address. This way she could Google me to make sure I wasn’t an axe-murderer. If everything checked out, I’d suggest that all important phone call. Most women sent back their phone number so I could initiate the first call.

If the call went well, I’d suggest meeting for a glass of wine or coffee depending on her preference. A word of caution—no matter how great things might feel during the email and phone call, don’t invite someone to dinner without first meeting them in person. As mentioned, the vibe could change dramatically when meeting for the first time, and first dates can take bad turns. If you have dinner with someone you’ve never met and there’s no chemistry, it can make for a long, uncomfortable, and often awkward evening.

As I continued to date, I also continued to fine-tune my set of rules. I found that when meeting someone new, it was best to make it a short night. If things were clicking, I’d suggest a second glass of wine. If things were really going well, I’d offer to take her someplace else for a quick bite. Then I’d call it a night and hail her a cab. I found that a show of restraint added a sprinkle of mystery and stoked the anticipation of a second date. Soon I was dating more and more interesting women—clothing designers, entrepreneurs, fitness models, photojournalists, and teachers, along with selected professionals and corporate types. Most importantly, I was connecting with almost every woman. After a few months of non-stop dating, I got into a relationship with an attractive woman, took a break from the site, and dated for a year. After the relationship ran its course, I logged back on the site, reviewed my profile yet again, made a few more tweaks and in no time began dating like crazy for another year. My online dating system was working like a well-oiled machine.  Having a clear set of rules helped, but I soon found out that, as in life, when it comes to online dating there are no unbreakable rules.

Like other indulgences, online dating has a shelf life. I reached a point where I was content. My system was doing a lion’s share of the work. Dating had become easy. And as soulless as it sounds to me now, at the time, I thought I’d be happy dating for the rest of my life. Everything changed though late one night when I logged onto the site. A new woman had winked at me. She was pretty, even if her photo was a random late night selfie without makeup. I was intrigued by her photo and by the carefree flow of her profile. So I began the usual process. I emailed her and she replied the following day. We exchanged another email. The vibe felt right so I sent her my number and suggested a phone call. However, this woman did not think that a phone call was necessary. She suggested that we meet in person. I wrote back, trying my best to arrange a phone call, but she again declined. What about my rules?  I needed to make a decision.

I was torn. My rules worked. Why should I change? I read her profile again and stared at her cute photo before my intuition kicked in. This feels right, so, what the hell? It’s just a rule that I made up. We skipped the call and met on a balmy July evening. Things went well. Real well. And I wanted to see her again. I followed up by text after our date and we got together again the following week. Out of curiosity I looked up her profile again, but it was gone. When we got together for dinner I asked why her profile was hidden. She told me that she’d only signed up on the site for a three-day trial. Since she had a good time she wanted to give us a chance. She saw no reason to stay active on the site. I wisely deleted my account shortly after and we were engaged one year later. We’ve been married for six years. I know now that online dating is an art, not a science. It’s okay to go with your gut and break your rules now and then.

The bottom line is that if you pay attention to what you are putting out and who you are, online dating can be fun and fruitful. You might stub your toe and get your heart broken a few times along the way, but you can win. Always show respect for yourself and the people you meet. And, don’t take anything too seriously. Remember; dating and meeting new people can be an adventure, not something that creates anxiety. If you take the time to build your personal brand (know yourself, what you want, and what you have to offer), communicate clearly both online and in person, and display the confidence from a well-lived life, you’ll be on your way to making the right connections.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 16, 2016


It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. I couldn’t agree more.

Take my experience for instance in online dating. After being with a woman for five years, one day she said that the relationship was over. I’d always thought that when a woman had issues with the relationship, her guy would be the first person to know. I assumed that the woman would want to have, you know—the talk. But in this case, she packed up her bags and was gone. I found out a few weeks later that she had already moved in with another guy. I was blindsided and devastated. Man, I was pissed off. But once I had time to really think about our relationship, my emotions shifted from pain to relief. I realized our relationship really hadn’t been working and I owned up to my share of why it went wrong. I asked myself if I wanted to be with a woman who was unhappy and didn’t want to be with me. And the answer was, of course, I didn’t. I was glad it was over.

It took some time, but I licked my wounds and self-assessed. I definitely did not want to make the same mistakes again. When I felt I was ready to meet new women, I realized, most of my friends were married and had kids, so they were not going out to meet women with me. So, initially I returned to my old habits of trolling the bars, gyms, classes, and bookstores alone. Hunting as a lone wolf soon proved to be a tough world for a guy over forty, especially after years of being in a live-in relationship. So much had changed that soon, there was no fun going out on my own. After a few lonely Friday and Saturday nights, I had to do something new. I decided to give online dating a try.

I signed up at the most popular online dating site. Like most guys, I slapped together my profile and anxiously dove into the fray. At first, I perused only the women with pretty pictures and pursued dates solely based on women’s photos. As a result, I met a lot of attractive women. I’d sit across from them thinking, they’re nice looking, but where’s the ‘spark’? Something was definitely wrong. I was not using the head perched on my shoulders to make my decisions. I was wasting a lot of time and money meeting the wrong women. I needed a reboot. The best thing I did was to take a break and hide my profile. I reviewed my personal brand (who I was, what I was looking for, and what I had to offer) and reworked my profile making sure it had the right messaging and photos to attract the type of partner I was looking for. This was the first important step in developing an online routine that finally worked for me.

After reposting my profile with a new headline, photo, and bio I went back to the work of dating. I set a few directional rules for myself. I decided not to invest too much time with online connections I met online before deciding whether or not to move forward. I’d exchange a few emails, maybe starting with a compliment or question about something in her profile. Then, if I liked her response I’d decide to talk on the phone. The call was always helpful. Nowadays, after a text or a tweet, people meet up without having a call. I wouldn’t take that chance too readily. The energy exchanged when emailing or texting is quite different than what we experience on a call. I’ve had experiences where the emails would flow with wit and élan, then come to an awkward silence when I got them on the phone. And even if that first call lasted an hour it did not guarantee success. Very often the energy dramatically changes, again, when we meet someone in person for the first time. I’ve found that we can’t control chemistry, and it’s impossible to predict. I paid attention to how the energy felt at every touch point—from first contact online to email, then to a phone call before asking a woman for a date. All this saved a lot of time and disappointment.

In time, I learned that, like my initial foray into online dating, other people also charged in without figuring out what they wanted from the experience. There were a lot of lonely people out there. And many of them were over forty and desperate for love and attention. They’d sign up on a dating website in haste and plunge into the unchartered online dating waters like new members of the Polar Bear Club on January 1st. After a few failed dates and often the icy chill of rejection, many singles withdrew from these websites as quickly as they dove in.

Here’s an example of what happened while I was developing my online dating chops. I met a woman for a date at a bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. She was a senior-level television executive. She was attractive, successful, and immaculately dressed in a white designer suit. We’d exchanged two short emails and a quick phone call before agreeing to meet after work. Everything felt good and I was looking forward to our date. Over small talk and a glass of wine I sensed the tension in her voice and body. I asked her about her job, thinking that she’d had a tough day. She told me she worked in television ad sales and she was having a banner year. So I asked her how long she’d been dating online. She said I was her first date. She’d signed up for the service the day after her long-term boyfriend dumped her. Initially, I thought that was a favorable omen for rebound sex, but she was so out of sync that I didn’t want to get intimate with someone in her vulnerable state of mind. I asked her if she had considered taking some time for herself before jumping back into the dating scene. Her eyes welled up with tears. Then she said, “I don’t want to be alone.” Sadly, this attractive, high-powered television executive was an emotional shambles.

This was not the first time I met someone who was obviously not ready to date. I consoled her over a Chardonnay before grabbing the check and hailing her a cab. The following day, Ms. TV Executive sent me a lovely email, thanking me for being so understanding. But our short night was another reminder that I needed to do a better job when screening dates. I was still doing something wrong. Many of the women I had met were fun online and on the phone, but uptight and anxious in person. Between learning about their lists of must-haves or surviving first dates that felt like job interviews, this online dating thing was quickly lose its appeal. I realized that I kept going out with women who reminded me of my ex—corporate stars who were not enjoying the ride. It was time for another break from the site.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, May 06, 2016


When I was in my twenties, I met women the old fashioned way. This was before the age of ubiquitous cell phones, female wingmen, and dating apps. In the old days, drumming up the nerve to approach a woman took courage.

Like a lot of young men I wasn’t always comfortable in my own skin.  If I saw a lady who appealed to me, I’d drum up the courage to greet her with a friendly hello. Then, hopefully, I’d come up with something to say, an interesting question, or anything to keep things going. It was a challenge, but over time, I developed a decent rap. Sometimes I’d lose my nerve and stand at the bar too long nursing my Amstel Light. So, I’d lose out to some other guy who’d beat me to the punch. I met a lot of women and sure, I got shot down plenty of times too, but it was all part of putting myself on the front lines.

In many ways, meeting women the old fashioned way was a lot like sales. To succeed you needed to know who you were and what you had to offer. You had to qualify your prospect quickly so you wouldn’t waste time with someone who was married or in a committed relationship. Most importantly, you needed to know how to strike up a conversation and close the deal. So, I learned how to ask the right kind of questions, and stay positive in the face of rejection, and how to overcome obstacles to make a connection. Over time, I became fearless and experienced a lot of success. I met women in bars, gyms, laundry mats, libraries, bookstores, buses, airplanes, or just about anywhere. And, beyond ‘winning’ at the mating game, meeting women was fun.

But the times have changed. Technology has now made men lazy. These days, a guy can score dates with smart, successful, attractive women while sitting at home in his tighty-whiteys by just plinking on his laptop. All of the apps and websites have made it very convenient for men to meet women. You could say that technology has made dating much, much easier. But, hold on. From what I can tell, technology can only take you so far. Whether you are a man or woman, to make a real connection with a member of the opposite sex you still need self-confidence, conversational skills, a sense of humor, and a dash of self-deprecation.

There's still a lot to be said from those days when a man had to learn how to approach a woman, face-to-face, literally on the front lines. Men used to study ‘pick-up’ lines and share the best ones with their pals. It took a lot of nerve to step up to the plate and simply be you.

Here is a scenario of how things might have played out back in the day. A guy walks into a bar. He scans the room and takes the seat next to a pretty woman sitting alone nursing a glass of wine. He settles in and orders a beer. Out of the corner of his eye he casually checks out the woman seated next to him. Sensing his gaze, she takes out a cigarette. He strikes a match and holds it out for her. She exhales smoke, smiles and thanks him. “Hi, I’m Lou,” he says. “Cindy,” she responds. From here, anything could happen. That’s how lots of guys met women before technology took over our lives and smoking was banned in bars.

If that scene were replayed today, the woman at the bar would probably be on her phone texting or checking emails. She might not notice the guy sitting next to her and he might not even look up from his phone to notice her. The guy would probably order a beer, place his phone on the bar and stare up at the bar’s two-dozen giant television screens. Between sips of beer, he’d check his phone. Maybe he’d check his online dating app to see if anyone in the bar was on the same service. Then, when his friends would show up, all the guys would stand around drinking, watching the games and discussing their fantasy sports teams. Meanwhile, the attractive woman seated next to them, would greet her cute friend’s arrival and the ladies would probably chat over a drink before moving to a table to discuss their jobs and talk about why there are no good men around.

While technology has made things really convenient in a lot of ways, the problem is that people, today, are distracted by waves of ubiquitous media. Most people have trouble being present in the world directly around them and this makes it hard for them to connect. These days, when young people go out, an impenetrable wall of phones, apps, emails, texts, TV’s and a closed circle of friends usually surround them. In most cases, they don’t organically engage with new people. This brings along a new set of challenges to dating in today’s tech-driven culture. It seems that to succeed in today’s fast-paced scene, you need a blend of digital dexterity and that, all-important, old school charm. The digital portion of the equation is relatively easy to pick up. But knowing how to strike up a good conversation and converse with confidence and finesse takes time. But it’s worth it. In this area, daters over forty a big advantage over younger daters who rely too heavily on their cell phones, iPads, and laptops to communicate.

The trick is to learn your way around today’s digital dating landscape while deploying your old school charm. If you want to succeed, you need to stay up-to-date on the multitude of digital dating tools and apps. It’s critical that you learn how to communicate quickly and effectively through your digital device. His will get you half way to the finish line. I’ve learned that to win, you still need to be fluent in the art of conversation and flirtation. That can only take place in person. After all, no matter how much game and witty repartee you may demonstrate in your texts or emails, eventually you’ll find yourself face to face with the object of your desire. That’s the only place where real chemistry can happen.  

To be continued…

How to Man Up for a Breakup

Robert Manni - Friday, April 22, 2016

Is breaking up really so hard to do? There are lots of articles and blog posts in cyberspace providing today’s young bucks with the latest tips on how to meet, connect, and score with the ladies. That’s a good thing because the behavior of fellas is under scrutiny, and in some cases attacked.  I recently launched my debut novel, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE, where Max Hallyday, the main character, is convinced by his ex to write a column about men for her start up girl power mag. His column is called, “The Guys’ Guy’s…” yeah, you get the rest. Yes, I wrote a novel with some tough love advice for the ladies sprinkled with some seasoned saltiness, but I’m no Miss Manners for dudes. Hopwever, I’ll take on a tough topic and shed wisdom on the flip side of hooking up. Here are my five older bull essentials for breaking up.

1. Be mindful. Think things through before you make your move. I’m referring to how to end a real relationship like a man, not how to disappear into thin air after a Jager-fueled one-night stand with a woman you met in the bar after the Rangers game. This means that you’ve dated the woman in question for at least a month and the two of you have done your share of partying and sheet rumpling. She’s displayed her body to you and you know damn well that she is interested in being more than friends with benefits or a random hook up. If this is the case and you’re just not feeling it, it’s time to do step up and do the right thing. After all, you like her, and if she were a guy friend, you would not disrespect him. So once you’ve made up you mind about your feelings (you do have feelings), there’s no turning back.

2. Make the break in person and pick the right location. First, no texting or phone calls. And although it sounds like something out of a spy movie, it’s easier to break the news in a public location, and in a best case scenario, outdoors where there is a busy crowd in motion. I’d avoid sitting face-to-face in a restaurant unless you want to see what her radicchio with balsamic vinaigrette dressing looks like after it’s been dumped on your shirt.  Pick someplace romantic, like Central Park, where you can sit side by side and watch all the good-looking people run, walk, and bike past the two of you.  This will remind her of our world in motion, full of desirable, potential new partners. 

3. Be direct and do not place blame. Okay, she’s a great girl and you really enjoy hanging out with her. But, although you’ve giving the relationship a proper chance, you’re just not feeling it. That’s okay, bro. It happens. Over time you’ll become more circumspect and more adept at qualifying your partners early on while at the same time learning to be more sensitive to a woman’s feelings. But ultimately, the heart wants what it wants, and if the tables were turned, she’d move on also. Every situation is different, so I can’t suggest you the words for you to use, but you need to be straight up and let her go like a real man. So take a deep breath and tell her the truth without getting into the weeds with details, even if she farts under the covers. The bottom line is that although you really dig her, you don’t see the potential for a long-term relationship. It’s not about you, or her. Focus on the ‘us’, and remember that ‘us’ takes two. 

4. Be kind. Truism. Women do not like getting dumped. And that means they don’t like it a lot more than guys don’t like it. Guys become accustomed to rejection since in the majority of cases, even though women are doing the capturing; men still do most of the hunting. No woman wants to be rejected, especially after she has shared her body and bared her soul to a guy. Once a woman opens up the window to her emotions, she’s vulnerable. It’s important that you realize that at that juncture she will do her best to make the relationship work. She wants your happy place to be with her, so how bad is that? Just be nice and do whatever you can to not hurt her any more than she feels that you are already hurting her, even if ultimately, you’re doing her a favor. And when it’s over, that’s it. No slinking back for a little something, something when your inner horn doggie wants a treat. Let her go.

5. Relax. No matter how bad you may feel if and when her waterworks start flowing, ultimately she does not want to be with a guy who isn’t totally into her. And trust me, if she is as cool as you think she is, she will shake you off (after you leave) and move on faster than you think. And if she turns on you, brace yourself and be understanding.  She may also have issues about letting go. The key is to be gentle, but firm. After all, would you want to be with someone who does not share the same feelings about you? I think not. And that’s the truth, amigo.

When It's Time, Are You Ready To Deliver The News Like A Man?

Four Things about NYC I Could Do Without

Robert Manni - Friday, April 15, 2016


With the risk of dating myself, the year I moved into the city Madonna’s “Borderline” was a hit on MTV. Although I grew up in northern New Jersey and have traveled the world, over the past few decades your Guy’s Guy has become an authentic bona fide New Yorker. I’m not talking about the Hillary Clinton kind of New Yorker who comes from Illinois and needs five swipes of her borrowed Metro card to make her way through the turnstile. I’m talking about a night crawling, tar beach sun tanning, pizza eating, Yankees loving, roach killing, after midnight subway riding, “You lookin’ at me?” kind of urban warrior who has survived and thrived in the world’s greatest city for the past thirty years. Yeah, I’m that kind of New Yorker, amigo. And if you’ve read my blog you know that I adore this crazy-ass town. So, having been there and done that while putting up with the noise, trash, corruption, rats, blackouts, economic downturns, and even the 80’s, I claim my right to criticize my fair city when criticism is due.  You can call me a crank or the guy who shouts, “Get off of my lawn”, but I’ve earned my due, so at least listen up.

With all that in mind, I give you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Things That Can Suck about New York. Drum roll, please…

1. Weekend subway service- Are you kidding me? Who wants to spend an extra hour or two milling around the 14th station waiting for a severely overcrowded A train on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Weekend train service in New York is a chaotic mash up of delays, re-routed trains, and more delays. And as everyone knows, unless the station has Wi-Fi, hanging out on the platform watching rats scamper back and forth makes for anything but a winning weekend afternoon. The fares keep going up and the service keeps going down. These are the same complaints New Yorker’s had when I first moved in to the city all those years ago. Enough already. And, I’m not even getting into the filthy, often broken elevators that usually smell of urine. MTA, get your act together. More trains, cleaner trains, cleaner stations, clearer announcements…

2. Manhattan keeps losing its character- Although I love the other boroughs and get the whole Brooklyn thing; I’ve always lived in Manhattan. When you come from New Jersey, the city always meant Manhattan with all of its different neighborhoods and quirks. And the one constant about Manhattan is that it keeps changing. Unfortunately, over time Manhattan has grown bigger, taller, more structured and sanitized. It’s never boring, but I preferred the times when independent shops and cool neighborhoods had a chance to thrive. Not anymore. Now in every hood there might be a Chucky Cheese, Baby Gap, and definitely a bank or drug chain store on every corner. That is boring. Nowadays you have to look hard and dig deep to still find that gritty NYC character in Manhattan. I live in Harlem, which still yields an old school vibe, although the coffee shops and bearded hipsters have finally discovered my neighborhood. Oh well, at least the value of my apartment has skyrocketed. Maybe I’ll move to the South Bronx next. Maybe not.

3. Rising cost of living – Although New York has the best variety of restaurants in the entire world, unless I am on an expense account I don’t go out as before to eat and drink. I don’t believe in paying twenty bucks (tax and tip included) for a good tasting cocktail or $300 to eat a GMO meal for two at a decent restaurant with loud music. And you know that the louder the music is, the worse the food. And rent prices in Manhattan are beyond ridiculous. A cup of coffee and a designer doughnut runs you ten bucks. A take out lunch is about $12. A haircut? Forgetaboutit! I bought a Wahl trimmer and it works just fine, thank you.

4. Noise and bright lights – I often hear jackhammers pounding on Sunday nights at midnight. Really. There seems to be no laws, or at least laws that are enforced about noise in this city. I live in a residential neighborhood, but the ultra hip coffee house around the corner stays open until 4am and features live music or dee jays seven nights a week. Before calling 311 to lodge a complaint, I asked the owner if she could turn the music down a bit after midnight. Her response was classic New York, in a bad way. She suggested that the next time I thought the music was too loud I should let her know so she could come up to my apartment, go into my bedroom and listen for herself. At which point she would tell me that the music wasn’t loud.

My other peeve is bright lights and such on the walls of residential neighborhoods. People seem to think you can project anything anywhere in this city. Last year a new chicken joint owned by a famous television chef opened on my corner. Seeing that the building across the street, which faced my apartment, was blank, they began showing a thirty-foot high video loop featuring a mash up of urban culture mixed with footage of chicken breasts basting in a pan or proudly strutting around every night, all night. I complained through 311and also deployed social media posts until thankfully, the videos were pulled. But no blank space can be left alone. The same building has been refurbished and the wall in question now has super-bright LED light strips shining directly towards my home. Just because people and business owners can’t leave any open space alone. 

Although I enjoyed getting that out of my system, I did not even take on traffic, parking, Times Square, Port Authority, over flowing trashcans, dog shit and bikes on the sidewalk, etc.  If I keep going I may end up moving back to Jersey. Nope, I think I’ll take a deep breath and get back to extolling the virtues of my favorite city. Peace.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Mike Bloomberg, who over 12 years made a real difference in amenities and the overall quality of life in the city, even at the expense of some of the local character that we all miss in Manhattan. Of well, in New York, you can’t have everything. 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Working at Home

Robert Manni - Friday, April 08, 2016


If you don’t have to get up at 7am to schlep to an office in the bitter cold, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of lounging around your flat all day in your pajamas.

But that’s not how championships are won or how you pay the rent. When you’re working from home, especially after spending years toiling in a traditional corporate environment, things can get dicey quickly. There is an additional skill set you’ll need to deploy to make a go of it. It’s called discipline and time management. And, you’ll need to do so without the resources you had while working in a large team at an office.

Let’s face it, even in the most stringent corporate office environments, you can take solace knowing you can become invisible every so often without forgoing your paycheck. That changes when you're working freelance from your home office.  When you're on your own, time really is money in or out of your pocket, so you need to be sharp. Yes, many jobs are becoming virtual due to our being tethered to technology, but when you’re working virtually at a real company you still show your face every so often, and with that comes the usual office politics and gamesmanship. Plus, you still collect a paycheck.

When you are flying solo, maybe in a creative endeavor like writing, art, or music, you need to master the fine points for being your own boss and motivator pronto, and it ain’t always easy. That calls for some insights from your Guy’s Guy. After all, he’s been slugging it out from home for a few years now and he knows a thing or two about managing time and making the most of a day while working from the home HQ. With that I offer you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Working From Home. Hopefully, you’ll pick up a few nuggets that will help you on your way to more productive days and the fame and fortune that awaits you from your solo pursuit of success.

Drum roll please…

1. Set routines – Okay, this may sound boring, but managing your time while working from home is mission critical to success when going it alone. It’s far to easy to sleep late, get distracted by Facebook, memes, and all the media that’s hurled our way every second of the day. I’ve found it extremely helpful to set my iPhone and mental alarm clock every morning. I'm usually awake before the alarm goes off, so I use the time to for a short meditation based on being thankful for my health, family, abundance, and joy. I do this every day and it gets me off on the right foot. I get up and swish coconut oil around my mouth for twenty minutes before drinking a big old glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in. While swishing I feed my cat and help my toddler get ready for school. By 8:30 I’m usually on my own and ready to work hard for the next six hours. On most days, I crank out 70 push-ups, work out for an hour, or go for a run. The physical activity ignites my mind, body, and spirit for the rest of the day. The discipline of a routine is good for the mind and necessary when you have a dream, time on your hands, and working from home on your own. Once I sit down to work, I listen to digital tracks created to help my focus, creativity, and IQ enrichment. In fact, I’m listening to one right now. Then I work, work, work until mid-afternoon. I might take a short break for lunch. I use that time to check my email, etc. between mouthfuls of nutritious food.

Have I been tempted to loaf around in my shorts, watch sports, porn, movies, or scour Twitter, Facebook and the like? Sure, but that's a quick path to a downward spiral. Maybe you’re more adept than me at juggling your time and getting things done. That’s good. For most, a routine can be our friend when making the transition to working from home. Without the usual office distractions and office meeting nonsense, you can get a lot done in six or seven hours.

2. Get out of the house - Although getting the written work done is extremely important, it’s also critical to get outside and maintain your relationships and connection to society. During the long winters in the northeast, I’ve found it easy to stay inside for days at a time. Not good. Sure, I get a lot done, but I find myself becoming insulated at my workstation in my man cave. When I do this, I find that whatever I’m working on or what is on my mind becomes all-consuming. I also have a tendency to take things too seriously so I get too intense and eager. That’s why I go for a run, talk a walk, or hop on the subway and meet up with my friends or former colleagues for lunch or a beverage. Frankly, it reminds me about my professional cred and reputation, and that people I respect are pulling for me to break through. And, that’s exactly what is happening.

3. Don’t neglect yourself – As mentioned, part of my routines focus on nourishing my mind, body, and spirit to enhance my productivity and chances for success. So, I eat organic food, hydrate throughout the day, work out regularly, and even forgo alcohol and recreational drugs when I'm inspired to do so. Over time, I find myself less in need of booze, pot and whatever else used to turn me on. This may sound like a boring lifestyle, but it’s anything but tedious. My mind is fresh with new ideas and I have the psychic energy to grind out projects in one sitting. It’s all good and I know I can enjoy a glass of wine or tequila if that’s what I want after my work is done.

4. Shun media – Although I come from the media business and have made a good living from it, I also know how easy it is to fall prey to staring at the television, social media, or simply binge-watching sports, movies or cable series like Billions or Ray Donovan. It’s easy to get sucked in, but there is a way around being pulled into it. The key is not turning on the television until all of your work has been completed for the day. At first it’s challenging, but it soon becomes a non-issue when you realize how much you can actually accomplish during the day if you're not goofing off.

Did I enjoy being part of a functioning team, having the tangible accomplishments you get when working in an office, and bonding with lots of other people? Yes, but I also have a dream, and sometimes dreams require you going it alone.

So, I hope you’ve gleaned some insights that will give you a good start to making the most of your time if you decide to work from home. If you find that flying solo is not your cup of tea, I hope you find your way back to the rat race. But remember, they call it that for a reason.

This weeks’ GUY’S GUY of the Week are all the people who took a chance and went for it, whether they worked from their studio apartment, mother’s basement, or even out of their car. Success to you, amigos.

To Drink or Not to Drink...

Robert Manni - Friday, April 01, 2016

When you’re not drinking have you ever noticed the people around you who’ve had too much to drink? Pretty sloppy, huh? At times like these I wonder why I drink. So I stopped, for a while at least.

By doing so, I learned a lot about how drinking impacts our behavior, fitness, and overall health. I spent over two decades in the marketing and advertising industries working on many the world’s most popular spirits brands. I’ve also been known to enjoy a cocktail or two or even three on occasion. But, I’ve also easily pushed alcohol aside for months at a time.

With that in mind, I’m sharing my Guys’ Guy’s perspective on the art of drinking, its benefits, and consequences. I’ll do my very best to avoid judgments or preaching. Let me begin by stating that fortunately, I’ve never had a problem with alcohol. Although I enjoy the taste of aged dark rum, a fine sipping tequila, a buttery Chardonnay, or a complex Pinot Noir, I’ve never physically or mentally needed a drink. I can hold my liquor, and only on rare occasions have I been inebriated. And, if I do drink too much, I go home and fall asleep. I’m not a mean, violent, or even a funny drunk. But, that’s me. Everyone experiences booze differently.

In today’s culture, and particularly when working hard, alcohol becomes a go-to outlet for letting off steam, venting, and bonding. So the phrase, “let’s meet for a drink” is de rigueur. We do it all the time. It’s become who we are. So, how does that work when we’re not drinking alcohol? A few nights ago I was out with friends. I had given up drinking for the past month matched my buddies beer rounds with club soda. When you are in a bar, this becomes tedious quickly, especially when your squad is matching you with rounds of ice-cold IPA’s.

I put my blinders on and focus on the conversation, but I can’t help but notice when someone in my group or standing close by has had a few too many cocktails. They get loud and bolder than usual, and many times they start repeating things. The other night, I was on the receiving end of a lecture complete with Tony Robbins quotes from a close friend who showed up after meeting his colleagues for a few hours of drinks. He’s a great friend, but he already had one or two too many by the time he arrived. And for some reason I became the object of his attention. He shared pearls like, “I’m an assassin. I’m a killer. I close deals. There is no long term, only today. What is your six-month plan?” Some of what he said was correct…mostly for him, but he meant well. That said, whenever I attempted to get a word in edgewise, he raised his voice and talked over me. I’ve been there before so it was nothing more than a mild annoyance. And although his intention was to be helpful, the alcohol obscured his message. Sometimes that’s what happens when the beers gets ahead of us.

Let’s take a quick look at drinking from three perspectives: as a marketer, as a drinker, and as someone abstemious.

Working in the booze business – The spirits business is comprised of a mixed bag of marketers, salespeople, and entrepreneurial thinkers. It’s a fun, social business where a lot of time is spent observing the market at the on-premise establishments. And, unlike the packaged goods, financial services, or pharma sectors, liquor is a category where you can seed a great idea, create an image, and in short order witness a brand taking off. I worked in the vodka category in the 90’s during the flavor explosion. It was exhilarating. Ten years later the magic was gone. Where do you go after vodka tastes like breakfast cereal, candy bars or cupcakes?   Fortunately, there are many types of spirits and tastes change every decade. Nowadays, although vodka still accounts for $.35 out of every dollar spent on spirits, it’s no longer the hot spot. Millenials want their own drinks, and there has been a migration to brown goods (bourbon, whiskey, and rye). Beer has also blossomed into a multilayered category. Back in the day you either drank Bud or Miller. Now every state, county and metropolis produces beer and most of them are better than the mass-produced brands. It’s happening with spirits also. It’s fascinating how the spirits industry continues changing as each generation shifts their tastes to reflect their values versus what their older siblings and parents drank.

Drinking as a team sport- Who doesn’t like to meet up with their mates after hours to throw back a few cold ones and watch the game? It’s part of our culture, and in most cases people are pretty cool and know how to pace themselves. But not everyone handles themselves well after a drinking for a few hours.

There has been a proliferation of binge drinking, especially by gen-Xers and millenials over the past two decades. Shots, followed by drinks, beers, and more shots is standard fair that comes with a downside. People get drunk quickly. Then they act stupid. Also, drinking has been an expensive habit, especially when frequenting bars, clubs, and restaurants on a regular basis.

And there is more bad news. Today’s cocktail culture is built around sweet mixed drinks laden with sugar. These tasty sugary concoctions make us crave salty bar bites like wings, nuts, pizzas, and assorted cheesy bar snacks. If you go to bars a lot you need to be mindful. It’s easy to gain weight, seed Type 2 diabetes, and spend a lot of money. Plus, if you get pulled over when driving with a buzz, it’s usually a disaster.

Not drinking- As mentioned, I’ve stopped drinking for months at a time on numerous occasions. For me, the challenge is breaking the habit, so after a few days I forget all about my post-work cocktail or wine with dinner. It’s not that big of a deal. The good news is I always lose a few pounds, sleep better, and have more energy in the morning. I spring out of bed and get right into my day. As a result I am usually more productive. Additionally, alcohol is a depressant, so if I’m experiencing personal or career challenges or taking things too seriously, giving booze a rest is beneficial to my mood and attitude and health. I usually stay positive, I’m consuming less sugar and empty calories, and I lose weight around my midsection as long as I don’t replace the liquor with other sweets like chocolate and ice cream. I’m not suggesting that this is for everyone, but it works for me. And I think that one of these breaks will become a lifestyle. We’ll see. How about you? Think you can stop drinking for a month? Try it if you can and keep track of what changes take place. Then decide what you get out alcohol and if you need it in your life. Maybe. Maybe not. No judgments. It’s up to you.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Robert Downey Jr. who after years of substance abuse went clean in 2003 and became one of the most bankable movie stars in the world. Nice work, Iron Man.


The Guys' Guy's Guide to When the Going Gets Tough...

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 24, 2016


Shit happens. What defines a person and a Guy’s Guy is how they handle things that don’t go right. We’ve all had out hard times. Maybe you did not get that job or promotion, or maybe you just lost your job. Maybe your savings are dwindling while your prospects aren’t growing. Take comfort, amigos. Your Guy’s Guy has been there and done that. He has the physical and the emotional and psychological bruises and scars from living in what feels like a tough, unforgiving world.

When bad things happen, we can either curl up in a ball or take stock of the big picture before taking action. So the next time you get dumped, or your car breaks down, or that pipe under the sink breaks and causes a flood, or the size of your debt appears insurmountable, take heed. I’m going to share my best hacks for dealing with the pressure, one issue at a time and put you in position to not only deal with your troubles, but turn what on the surface are bad things into good things.

So here are three Guys’ Guy’s hacks for handling the curveballs life throws our way. Drum roll, please…

1. Breathe, focus, separate – In my personal experience I’ve found that bad things occur in bunches. A few weeks ago on a cold rainy morning I traveled by train for two hours to my beach house. I needed to explore contingences for repairing the fire escape and replacing of the housing for the exterior gas meters, which was brought to my attention by the gas company. These are things we take for granted.

Upon reaching my place I immediately noticed that my car was gone. Suddenly a cop pulled up. I gave him my info and he informed me that my vehicle had been towed two weeks earlier due to a gaseous odor. Unfortunately, no one made an effort to contact me by phone. As a result, the retrieval and repairs to the car cost me dearly. And of course no one involved in the process the cops, towing company, impound yard, or repair shop were empathetic. The process was painful at a time I was on a tight budget. I also found out the cost of the gas meter housing was in the five-figure range and the fire escape estimate was off the charts. This all happened over the course of one morning.

The avalanche of problems dumped on me felt like my system had been nuked. I started feeling hyper and had to do something to maintain my sanity. I decided to step away for a few minutes. I needed to breathe deeply, clear my mind, and re-set myself physically and emotionally. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary and I am glad I took those few minutes to regain my composure. In those few minutes I breathed, prayed, and asked my higher self for guidance were crucial to how I felt and how things worked out.

I realized I may have saved my family and my life by learning about the small leak in the tank this way instead of finding out while zooming down the highway and potentially bursting into flames. I also realized my tax refund will pay for the new gas tank. I convinced the impound yard to knock off the price of the tow, and my insurance company picked up most of the cost of the impound. Sure, I’m still faced with replacing the gas meter housing and fire escape repairs, and I am sure there will be more. I’m determined to deal with each issue individually as it comes up. Overall, I consider myself fortunate. I’m alive and in this case, things could have turned out far worse. And, I handled it as smooth and calmly as I could. Bottom line? I’m grateful.

2. Get out there – Recently I’ve found myself in a new situation where I am handling projects and building my personal brand while working from home. This is a major change for me after years of schlepping to an office and spending ten hours a day in the company of many colleagues over the past three decades. It’s really different and I’ve had to adjust to how I allocate my time, finances, and mentally dealing with most of my friends still being immersed in corporate jobs.

I’ve learned that lifestyle changes like this can be devastating form some folks if they are not aligned to a new realty and with new possibilities. It’s easy to stay inside and create content all day, but it is equally important to get out there and rub shoulders with people. They say action creates action, and it’s true. I’ve found that the more I interact with people, either face to face or by phone, the more opportunities arise and the more creative ideas spark inside my mind. So if you think things aren’t going so well for you and you begin shutting down, do yourself a favor and get out and face with the world. It helps.

3. Remember what we're here for - Many metaphysical teachers claim that our lives on Earth are primarily for learning and future ascension. And some even say that suffering is our greatest teacher. They might be right. I have found that whenever I come out of the end of a painful experience I am always a better version of myself due to experiencing the pain. Do you agree?

And while you are at it, make sure that you don’t neglect every aspect of your health when you’re facing tough times. That means being mindful and taking care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Treat yourself well; eat clean, healthy foods and exercise. If you stay in top shape, mediate, and get enough rest so you can be at your very best regardless of the current circumstances you’ll feel a difference in your ability to deal with your troubles. Tomorrow is another day. Make sure you are in good health so you can enjoy it.

I could go on and on, but I think there are some things to help you deal with the tough times we all face. Breathe, deal with one issue at a time, and take care of yourself. You are worth it.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Abraham Lincoln, a man who faced some of the toughest circumstances of any leader in the history of our nation. Lincoln is the person who said, “This too, shall pass away.” 

5 Signs He's Taking the Relationship Seriously

Robert Manni - Friday, March 18, 2016

Whether it’s in business or a relationship, getting blindsided and dumped sucks. And who hasn’t been there at least once in their lives?

You may have thought things were all rosy after a series of seemingly great meetings or dates, but the other party or person may have had a completely different take on the situation. After five interviews and meeting everyone from the CEO to the maintenance dude, you assumed the job was yours, but they never called you back. Or after that torrid weekend at the beach you thought it was true love, but he thought it was a summer fling. And he never returned your texts after that.

Unfortunately, that’s how life works, amigos, so it’s important to take stock of your business and your relationships on a regular basis. For the purposes of this post, your Guy’s Guy will share his musings on the ways women can get a read on where they stand with that special someone they’ve been dating for a few weeks or months. Let’s call this The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Knowing It’s For Real.

So, here are five crystal clear signs your man is taking you and your relationship seriously.

1. He takes himself off the dating sites – This is huuuge. One of the toughest decisions a guy can make after he connects with a special woman is suspending his profile on all the dating apps and sites. For a lot of men this can be harder than quitting porn. Guys are visual and there is nothing like sitting back with a cold one in your tightey whiteys while surfing the dating dates for a fresh crop of female photos and profiles. I know it sounds cold, but guys like looking and playing, and these sites and apps can be addictive to men, and for women, also. So if your guy takes himself off these sites on his own, consider that a check plus. If you ask him why his profile is still active and he tells he will shut them down and does, that’s a check. If he either avoids the question or answers in Trump-like double speak, consider that a red flag. It means he’s not taking your relationship as seriously as you may have thought. Your move.

2. He asks you to go on vacation with him – When you think about it, going on vacation with someone is technically only an extended date with luggage and back-to-back sleepovers. If you’ve been seeing someone for a few months you’ve probably already slept with them or spent a weekend together. But taking a trip with someone for the first time can be a big thing. Everyone has their own style of traveling and if a couple is incompatible when they’re on the road, it could be a deal breaker. So, just the fact that he’s asked you to hop on a plane with him is a really good sign. Now all you need to do is show up, pack wisely, and be the very best version of you. You can do that.

3. He wants to introduce you to his squad – Another seemingly insignificant gesture is actually a big deal to guys. Sure you meet new people and get introduced every day on the job, but meeting a guy’s crew is for him an invitation into his inner sanctum. And depending on his taste in friends, it is not always a pretty place. Which is another good reason why meeting his friends is a good thing for assessing your relationship. Say yes if he asks you to meet his boys at the bar. You’ll learn a lot while enjoying free drinks.

4. He invites you home for a holiday – Similar to meeting his friends, meeting his family is another telling adventure and a sign that he is taking you and your relationship seriously. You will definitely learn a lot about your guy and what makes him tick once you meet his family, but the main thing is that he thinks enough of you to invite you in the first place. Do the smart thing and show up. The drinks are free again, but this time don’t get drunk.

5. He pays attention – This is the key sign that your guy is really into you. It’s all about the little things and noticing the details women notice about their guy. Whether it’s remembering which Chardonnay you prefer, noticing and complimenting your new blouse, or knowing how tired you feel after that series of big meetings, if he’s paying attention to the details of your life he’s showing you respect and is focused on making the relationship work.

Sure there are more ways of finding out if your guy is taking you and your relationship seriously, but I think these five behaviors are reliable bellwethers for clocking his interest level and for your consideration of him as keeper material.

This Week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is, drum roll please…. me. After three dates I asked my wife what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. She smiled and said, “pay attention”. That was a wake up call. I took myself off of the dating sites, focused on building this relationship I was interested in, and eventually asked for her hand in marriage exactly one year to the day later. Hey, you’ve gotta have some game to be a Guy’s Guy.


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