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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Thanksgiving

Robert Manni - Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Why am I thankful that my ex broke up with me?

Life is a trickster. It always seems like it’s running two steps ahead. By the time we catch up and process what’s happened, it’s already off making more mischief that we don’t understand. That’s why along with the great food and family sharing, Thanksgiving is a great time to take a half step back to review our lives and be thankful for all of our experiences. The trick is finding the lesson to be learned from what is happening in our lives.

Getting back to the headline, no one likes being dumped. And like most guys, I’ve been dumped a number of times. At the time it seemed like my world was crashing down. But now, although I wish nothing but the best for all of my ex-girlfriends, I’m glad that they are my ex’s. Over time I realized that there was a missing component in each and every one of these relationships. Should either of us have known about this missing link and moved on sooner? Probably, but we didn’t.  We shared some good times and hopefully learned something about ourselves from our time together. I’m sure you have been there and I know it can be daunting for the heart to look into the endless abyss. But there is a reason for hope. That reason is you. 

Okay, it took me an extra decade or two, but I stayed focused and optimistic and continued to work on myself to be a better partner and a better man. I remain a work in progress, but things are coming together and I’ve never been happier. I’m very appreciative this Thanksgiving and accountable for my choices. And, I’m alive and have a new opportunity each and every day. That’s all I can ask for.

Here are a few reasons live in a state of constant appreciation.

No one else can make you happy.
Happiness comes from within. I think you’d agree that it is difficult to love another if you do not first love who and what you are. At times this is easier said than done, but it’s sagely advice that we’ve all heard a thousand times. And, it’s true. Loving yourself does not mean being selfish, but knowing who you are and what you are makes a difference in how you celebrate each day. We are all one consciousness.

Letting go can give you a better handle on your life.
Sometimes a setback can be a step forward. Living in New York is a trip. There are so many super-intelligent, talented, and successful individuals here, yet many of them walk around looking quite displeased. You can see it in their faces. People invest a lot of their energy trying to control every aspect of their experience. Although we are responsible for our actions, we cannot control everything that happens to us. We all know that shit happens. If you loosen up that death grip on your day-to-day world, you’ll probably be in a better position to shake off and move on from the setbacks that inevitably occur. Maybe you didn’t get that guy you thought was right for you, but you ended up with another dude that suits you far better. Or you are blessed with the time to get to know yourself better. When we can relax and have faith in ourselves things work out for us in a way that allows us to grow. If you’re not feeling it, try digging down deep to find what you need to learn. It’s there for you if you can let go, quiet your mind, and ask for it. And when you get that insight, be thankful and keep moving.

Make every day Thanksgiving.
Everyone has to do what works for them. I’m no Dr. Phil, but I’ve found that when I begin each day in a state of appreciation and end each night the same way, I feel blessed and sleep like a baby. We all have to find our own methods and path, but being thankful works for me.

I thank you all for being in my life and for the lessons our connection is bringing forward.  Have a great, restful weekend. I’ll be back at you with more Guy’s Guy musings next week.   

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Things that Bug Guy's Guys

Robert Manni - Friday, November 17, 2017


Every so often, even us Guy’s Guys need to let off some steam about the state of affairs in our highly dysfunctional world.

We kill animals for their taste while polluting the planet at the same time. We give unbridled power to corporations that are only beholden to shareholder earnings. We pay men more than women for the same work. We invade countries we think might do something to us in the future. On and on it goes, and although Guy’s Guys maintain a steady grip on the wheel of life, once in awhile it’s good to let go with a rant. So consider this post as just that. But, know that some of the little annoyances I’m pointing out are symptoms of bigger issues that plague our culture and its way of thinking.

The bottom line is that unfortunately our society has been programmed to choose fear instead of love and greed over generosity. And as a result, people are approaching life from a position of lack rather than abundance. So even though I’ll be bitching, in true Guy’s Guy style I’ll always seek solutions to our problems and love over fear. So, in no particular order here are a few things that bug the shit out of your Guy’s Guy.

1. Our false sense of choice – If you walk down the aisle of any supermarket or mall you would be fooled into believing that we have an amazing array of choices in our lives. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Once old Ronald Reagan loosened up the merger laws and regulations in the eighties, corporations have taken over the world. The rich have gotten richer while the rest of us have been duped into thinking we have so much to choose from, while the choices we have are mostly cosmetic.

Here are a few examples—You can pick almost any flavor of potato chips, soda, or hot sauce, or sneakers but when it comes to your money your choices are limited to the blue banks, the green banks, or the red one. The rates are the same. The service is universally unfriendly because frankly, most banks don’t want to service the small fry accounts. What’s worse is that they won’t have your money if there is ever a run on the banks. It’s a similar situation with the cable companies, although at least they are not holding your investments. Take a look at the monthly rates offered by the two mega companies we choose telecom and cable from and you will see that beyond their advertising noise they’re offering virtually identical plans across the board. But take heart. You can buy bubbleberry vodka or one that tastes like fruity cereal. Face it, amigos. When it comes to the more important issues, unless you have a ton of money, you’ll get the same few, shitty choices as everyone else. The one choice that you can control though is how you feel about what is happening around us and how you can raise consciousness by maintaining a positive vibe in the face of all the doom and gloom.

2. Banking, insurance company, and health care nonsense – Sticking with the same theme, and acknowledging that most of the plans offered are too expensive and very similar, it’s no surprise how lousy the service is from the behemoth companies we are stuck with for our banking, insurance and health care.

You don’t believe me? Try calling your cable carrier and you’ll experience the long, painfully frustrating process of their dealing with even the most insignificant issues. For example, after seven years we needed a new cable remote, so we called our carrier. After spending a half hour on hold and dealing with someone in Southeast Asia about our minor issue, we were promised a new remote, free of charge. When our next bill arrived, we were charged for the remote, but we had never received it. We called back. Same routine. Charged again, but no remote. The third time, after explaining this to the usual unfriendly service reps, we ascertained that the cable company geniuses had sent our remotes to the exact same address as ours, but on the east side on NYC instead of the west side. We finally received a new remote free of charge, but the process took over two months and two hours on the phone.

Here’s another dose of pain. One of the banks I use abruptly deactivated two of my debit cards. No warning, no heads up, just deactivated. The letter they sent me directed me to reactivate my cards and account through their website, but the website would not allow it. It provided a phone number that I promptly called. Unfortunately, when I finally spoke to a rep I was informed that because I lived in NYC I needed to visit a bank branch to reactivate the accounts.  I reminded the rep that my address, where they sent the correspondence in the first place was also in NYC, so why didn’t they tell me to go to a branch then? No answer. And why, as a long-term customer, was I not given notice that my card and account could be deactivated if they were not used by a certain date? Again, no answer. So I stopped by a branch and asked the same question. This time I was told that the deactivation of my accounts was my notice and the next step would be my being forced going to go to the government to get my money back out of what would become a dormant account. How nice! This is what’s happening now, people. Our corporations are too big and they don’t give a shit about individual consumers. And to make matters worse, the genius in the White House is doing everything in his power to give more power to these oversized companies that already have their foot on our throats.

3. The demise of advertising – Since Dos Equis retired the “World’s Most Interesting Man” and before they were then forced to bring back the campaign with a younger version of the guy who looks eerily like Michael Phelps, have there been any ad campaigns worth discussing in recent years? Super Bowl ads used to be delightful, but over the past few years they have been the same boring car and tire ads or promos for shitty Fox shows and super hero movies. And how many times is Pepsi going to deploy the latest cutesy model or singer in the same lame scenarios? And haven’t we seen enough of those Clydesdales plowing through the snow and kicking field goals? Or a hot model teasing us for GoDaddy? The truth is, no creative person working in advertising wants to be working in advertising. There was a time when advertising was cool and was different. That was a short window and has been closed. Nowadays, ad campaigns are short-term fixes purchased by clients who consider their agencies to be vendors that can be stiffed if they don’t like the work. Ads are measured strictly quantitatively, which is unfair because not all advertising immediately results in a direct increase in sales. A good campaign is likeable and builds a relationship and emotional connection between a brand and the consumer. But client marketers no longer have the luxury of time to prove themselves. They need to see results on the scoreboard right now, so most of the ads we see now are ultra “salesy” and promotionally driven. It’s as if those crappy local TV ads have taken over the ad templates for big brands. Have you seen the new KFC campaign with the revolving Colonel Sanders character? In one ad he’s crowing “$5 dollars, 5 dollars, 5 dollars” as he hops along while pointing at platters filled up three variations of the latest KFC “meals”? This ad is far from finger licking’ good, and I’ll bet the agency wants to jump out of the window when the client calls with their latest direction for new work.

Here’s one more sign of the end. Think about how many ads we see built around the premise of people dancing around when they receive or use the brand they are shilling for. From banks to clothing to candy bars, it’s everywhere and it’s lame. Really, now, are happy people the best idea the agencies can come up with?

4. Everybody’s always selling – In the beginning, people thought the Internet was all about everyone searching for information, being entertained, or communicating with each other. It’s still the case, but things changed when someone made that first dollar on the Internet. Then it became a gold rush. I get it. And it’s been great for people named Zuckerberg, etc. You can still find info on anything and meet interesting people from everywhere while you’re streaming a cool podcast. But for the most part, the almighty dollar rules, and so, at times, the selling goes too far. Zero targeting is a media term that we all experience every time we’re online. Oh, you looked at that Wrangler Sherpa jacket at Macys.com? Well I hope you liked it amigo, because you’ll probably be seeing that same wooly denim frock for the next month while you’re clicking from site to site. It’s like a bad penny that you can’t get rid of. It’s annoying, but that’s sales. And how about that random businesswoman who hit you up for a LinkedIn connection? The moment you accepted her connection she messages you to sell you on her SEO business? Aaargh!

5. People who don’t pay attention – Let’s take things down a notch and dig into the insidious behavior of people so wrapped up in their little worlds that they can’t be bothered to show any consideration for anyone but themselves. For example, you are standing on a very long line at a retail store. You have your singular purchase in hand and your credit card ready. The lady in front of you has a pile of stuff to buy. She’s messing with her phone when the next register opens. She shuffles over and slowly unravels all her items. The cashier takes it all and folds each item up after she scans them. You would think this might be the perfect time to TAKE OUT YOUR WALLET. But no. Only after everything has been tallied does she realize that her eyes are bigger than her budget. So now she has to decide what she now doesn’t want. After this delay she is informed of her new total. Only now, does she begin digging through her bag to find her wallet, which is of course at the very bottom. And you are still waiting with credit card in hand. After another few minutes she finally pulls out a credit card, only to be rejected by the store. A discussion ensues before additional items are eliminated from her purchase. Finally she hands over an operable credit card. You get my drift? You see this type of nonsense every darn day. Don’t be that person. PAY ATTENTION.

6. Unaccountability – Since we live a fear-based culture, everyone is petrified of being wrong. People are incredibly defensive, like never before, and even among good friends, it’s rare that any of us hears the words, “Hey, I screwed up. Sorry.” No, we don’t hear that very much because people think that if they have been caught making a mistake they will be fired, executed and fed to the dogs. Relax, amigos. We all make mistakes every day. It’s best to fess up when you make a boo-boo. If people you hang out with are going to be pigheaded and never admit they are ever wrong, are they really your friends? In business, you have to be careful not to mess up, because with no ever admitting to a making a mistake, if someone is caught in an error, everyone piles on because they are relived it was not their fault. So, when it comes to work, be as impeccable as you can. But if you do make an error, fix it and don’t be a dick and blame your assistant if you get outed.

Deep breath. Exhale. Sigh. Shit, I feel better already. As a rule Guy’s Guys don’t bitch and moan, but like I said, every so often we all need to blow shit out and release any pent up tension. As long as we are not judging ourselves or other people too harshly, it’s cool. Everyone is fighting a battle that we probably don’t know about anyway, so be kind, do your best to stay cool and do your best to deal with all of the crazy stuff that’s being thrown at us. Until next time…

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is NOT Donald Trump. Like him or hate him, here is a man who, not only never admits to an error, but he also rubs people’s face in it at every chance he gets if and when they cross him. Politics aside, this is not the way a Guy’s Guy rolls. So since we are ranting this week, our choice for the anti-Guy’s Guy is DT.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Things Worth Investing In

Robert Manni - Thursday, November 02, 2017

They call it disposable income for a reason. We dispose of it every day—at lunch on $12 salads in plastic containers, ironic t-shirts, another pair of sneakers or shoes we don’t need to choke our closet space, or on numerous $9 glasses of so-called craft beers. But even though we live in a consumer society where over two-thirds of the money spent is on items we don’t really need, there are a few items worth paying those extra dollars for. Large or small, these are classic items worth the money, so your Guy’s Guy is going to lay them out for you to chew on and digest. Here in no particular order, is my GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO THINGS WORTH INVESTING IN.

1. Real estate – The rent really is too damn high. And besides getting a roof over your head for the next thirty days, there is not much to get excited about when renting your home. From my personal experience, I’ve done relatively well when investing in real estate and it began as soon as I found a way to scrape together the down payment to afford a mortgage for a modest, man-cave studio and the responsibilities that came with it. And I have never looked back. When you own that roof over your head, you get a tax break on the mortgage interest, you live in your investment, and in the vast majority of cases your home appreciates while you’re there. Wherever you may be, but particularly when you live in a ridiculously expensive city like New York, if you can find a way to buy your home, do it. If you can make those monthly payments, in the long run it will serve you well, amigo. Very well. Ask anyone who has done so and they will have a story to tell you about how much profit they made after buying that once-cheap co-op back in the eighties.

2. A great watch – Every Guy’s Guy needs at least one piece of top-notch jewelry. If he’s married he’s going to want a quality wedding band, but regardless of his marital status, this Guy’s Guy believes that owning a classic watch is a worthwhile investment. Let’s face it. There are clocks everywhere and you carry a phone so you don’t need a watch to know the time. A watch is a statement piece for a Guy’s Guy.  It’s something you can wear every day or if you choose, just to events that you hold in importance. I sat in the office next to the director of the Mont Blanc account at a big ad firm. I gave him a few bottles of rum since I ran the Bacardi account and he let me to pick from the Mont Blanc catalogue at half price. I was making good money so I bought very high-end “sport” watch, a silver dress watch, a pen, and a wicked cool pair of shades. I still have them all and I wear the two watches frequently to this day. On my fortieth, my folks bought me an engraved Rolex, so of course I also wear that too. But besides also owning a handful of very affordable watches, I’m done buying watches. The watches I own are statement pieces so I don’t need a special box or case filled a dozen good watches. I have three great watches, and that’s all I need. I still like admiring the classic timepieces I see, but I’m done.

3. A well-tailored suit and a tuxedo – A Guy’s Guy knows how to clean up, so every Guy’s Guy needs to own at least one finely tailored suit, regardless of his job or the type of work he does. There will always be an occasion where he needs to get decked out and show his stuff, so it’s a good idea to invest in a tropical wool designer suit in navy, charcoal or black. If you shop at an outlet you can pick a very nice suit for less than five hundred bucks. I recently purchased a classic, yet modern Theory suit that fits me like a glove for less than less four hundred that was originally priced at $1200. And, I will wear it when I need to for the next decade because it’s quality, a classic yet modern cut, and I work hard staying in fighting shape, like Guys’ Guys tend to do.

Another consideration is investing in a classic black tuxedo. I recent attended a wedding where the young guys in the wedding party wore maroon tuxedo jackets with black shirts and pants.  Not my style, but it was is their business. The point is; no one buys a maroon tuxedo jacket. I bought a well-made black tuxedo when I was in my twenties, and it still fits me and looks good. I also bought a formal white dress short shirt, cuff links, and a pair of shoes I only wear with the tux. Buying a tux is not as mission critical as owning a well-tailored suit, but it can be a good investment, especially if you compare it to the cost of renting.

4. A quality automobile – I’m still working on a personal issue that I have about letting go of things and people. This time it got me in trouble. I bought a silver Toyota Four-Runner in 2000 and due to my moving back into NYC, I rarely drove it. I kept it parked it on the street near the beach in New Jersey, and over the years the engine and the parts underneath the vehicle began rusting, and rusting, and rusting. I need car when I’m in Jersey and this vehicle was fully paid for, so I kept it but was making repairs and replacing rusting parts repeatedly. The decay continued and eventually, my prized vehicle became an albatross. I eventually dumped it, but not before I wasted a shitload of money on repairs.

I did buy a good vehicle, and that is part of the lesson because owning or leasing a good car can be a good investment, but only if you know when to cut bait and move on. Buying a car is so 1990 these days, so now I recommend leasing a top of the line vehicle and switching it out every few years. If you live in the burbs and show up for a date in an old rattlebox, it means negative points with the new lady.

5. Going to the dentist – A Guy’s Guy needs a first class ride for his teeth. A man’s oral health is a gateway to his overall health. And who doesn’t want a great smile? A Guy’s Guy looks for a dental practice with skilled hygienist and a dentist that can handle drillings and replacing old fillings to get that toxic metal out of your mouth, and doing what’s necessary to brighten your smile. Most healthcare plans these days scrimp on dental so having a great dentist might get expensive at times, but think about it as a sound investment in your overall health. Studies have found that built up plaque can find its way to your heart and other areas of your body and create havoc.

6. Wedding ring and band – Earlier I briefly mentioned this key, hopefully one-time purchase as another statement piece for a Guy’s Guy. When you marry, you want to show pride and your commitment. There is no better way to make your wife feel good about it than investing in a classy wedding rings and bands for both of you, but in particular for her. Make sure you exceed her expectations, and if you can swing it, go for at least two carats. No matter who pays for your band, pick a ring that looks masculine and makes you feel good about yourself. Trust me on this, amigos. It’s worth the investment to the marriage. And do you best to wear your wedding band. I’m not a big ring guy, but I keep mine in a little box on my bureau and at a bare minimum wear my platinum gold band when I am out in public with my wife. It’s the right thing to do.

7. Wine and spirits – Many Guys’ Guys like a cocktail or a glass of wine or beer now and then. Over time, most guys have had their fill of keggers and shots of lousy booze. When you finally grow out of that stuff, drink the best that you can afford, especially if you are drinking infrequently or drinking your booze straight. So out with the speed rack brands and on to the top shelf brands. As you age, if you still drink alcohol, drink less and drink better. Fear not, it’s not going to break the bank. There are many good vodkas available for $20 bucks and rums for between  $20 and $30. You’ have to pay more for good tequila, bourbon or scotch. When drinking wine, you can usually find something for every day drinking between $20- 35.  And if money is an object, with a little research you can find a decent bottle for less than $20. Beer is all about personal preference regardless of price. The point is that the clock keeps ticking and you're not going to live forever. Opt for the good stuff when you drink.

8. Organic food – It costs more, but you are protecting your health by eating organic food. The processed packaged crap down the aisles in the supermarket may taste good, but it isn’t good for you, and non-organic produce and fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. Over time, eating this stuff can cause chronic health issues. Think of yourself as a sleek Mercedes-Benz 450SEL. To keep it running smoothly you don’t fill it with the cheapest fuel. And despite all the cute memes you read about bacon, it’s basically processed pork, and that is not good fuel for a luxury vehicle like you.

9. Your wallet – This might seem like a minor thing, but think of how many times you pull out your wallet every day. A good wallet sends the right psychological signals to your brain about your financial self-worth and to others as to how you value yourself and your money. Spend a few extra bucks and buy a good wallet. It will help you feel your best about your financial standing even in tough times. Stay classy, amigo.

10. The right relationship – Investing the time in finding and securing the right life partner is probably the best investment you will ever make. I stayed single for so long that close friends and family stopped asking me when I was getting married. I knew I was not ready, so I waited until I had the epiphany of making room in my heart for someone else before taking the plunge. Maybe it took me longer than most. That’s my business, but I’m glad I waited, and I am glad I made the right investment in the right woman for me.

I hope these tips help you make sound decisions about the things in life that are worth investing in. I’m sure I missed a few along the way, but this is a good start for any Guy’s Guy who wants to send out signals that say, “Hey, I’m a Guy’s Guy and this is how I roll.”

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is the actor and classic Guy’s Guy, Cary Grant. Although he may have swung ways, no worries and no judgments. He still was a Guy’s Guy. Despite his living in a different time, this guy was all class. Although I’m not sure how he invested in real estate, he died a rich man and oozed timeless style when he was alive. If you are ever in doubt about spending those extra dollars on any of the items I mentioned, ask yourself what would Cary Grant do and you can’t go wrong.


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