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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

How to Live, Work, and Not be Exhausted

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 22, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Being A Dad

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 15, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 01, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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