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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

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 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.

Being a Guy's Guy in Business - Part 1

Robert Manni - Monday, March 23, 2015


For some reason—usually moneybusiness can bring out the worst in people. That old saying, “It’s business, it’s not personal.” is a sad excuse for duplicitous behavior.

I’ve actually heard those words, or some semblance of them, too many times by bosses and former colleagues before someone got stabbed in the back. On the other hand, there are people who talk the talk and walk the Guy’s Guy walk in the sometimes-shady world of business. So there is hope. You can be a good friend, companion, or partner, but to be a righteous Guy’s Guy, you need to be a man and treat others in business fairly. In no particular order, let’s start the series with a few big picture tips for being a savvy Guy’s Guy in business.

You are only as good as your word.

A handshake should be a bond. But, because many businesspeople have short, self-serving memories, there are contracts. And, as my attorney likes to say, “If it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t exist.” It’s sad, but true. But even when you have a contract, people renege on written agreements all the time. “I don’t have any money” and “Sue me”, are all too common declarations made during disputes. Don’t let this dissuade you. A Guy’s Guy leads by example. His word and handshake are sacrosanct. The bottom line is that you do what you say you are going to do. This is a golden rule for being a Guy’s Guy and a man. Anything less is unacceptable. That said; it’s still wise to put your agreements in writing.

Trust your instincts when making decisions.

I’m usually a pretty good judge of character, but like anyone else, I’ve made mistakes. When I was directing a sexy spirits account at an agency, a young woman interviewed for a senior account management position. She looked good on paper, and in person. She pleaded with me to hire her, assuring me she’d do a kick-ass job. My instincts told me to pass, but I’d recently been promoted to Executive Vice President and was a bit full of myself, so I hired her anyway. Mistake.

On our first trip to meet the clients in Miami, she showed up at the airport toting four large pieces of luggage for a two-day business trip. This was not a good sign. After the meetings I asked her for a recap, but she had not taken notes. She was, however, filled with ideas for dinner. When we returned to New York, I explained to her what my expectations were for the job. I gave her a few basic tasks and told her I wanted to review them in a week. When it came time, she handed me her resignation. I thought that maybe I had been too tough on her, but while she dawdled, a junior person on my team so the opening. He stepped up and did the work. I promoted him a few weeks later and learned my lesson.

The same is true for making a decision on whether to take a job or not. Every time I’ve had an unsettling feeling about taking a new job, it turned out to be a major challenge. If you have a clear mind and heart, go ahead and trust your instincts. They are usually right.

Handling A-holes.

You’ll always find a-holes at work guys that don’t have an original thought who somehow get promoted by parroting their superior’s or the client’s ideas, regardless of their merit. They only challenge the ideas of those who they consider a threat. You see; they don’t really care about the business. They only care about getting ahead. Sounds familiar? Sure, it does. So what can you do when one of these transparent characters is thrust upon you? First take a deep breath and accept their presence as part of your education. Then figure out what they want. If it doesn’t impact your career path, exhale. And do your job. If it does, stay within close enough proximity to them to know what they are up to and take note of their strengths and weaknesses. And then wait.

I entered one ad agency as a consultant and had to work with a verbose, polarizing director. He was crafty and basically capable, but I’d heard that he had a vicious temper and would explode on anyone he considered to be a threat to his domain. He was obviously insecure and I knew that he would quickly see me as a competitor. At first he was deferential to me, but that changed once he noticed how capable I was and that I was accomplishing things he had overlooked. I knew that a storm was brewing. After we disagreed on a piece of creative during a meeting he snapped and actually screamed at me. I was steaming, but I said nothing. I saw the embarrassed looks on the faces of my colleagues. They had seen this act before. About two weeks later he did it again. I’m not the vindictive type, but this time I decided that he needed to go. My plan was to outwork him and wait for him to dig his own grave. And that’s exactly how it went down. He freaked out on someone else at another meeting, and in a fit of anger turned in his resignation.

I was ecstatic, but I waited because I knew he’d realize that he screwed up and that if he quit I would inherit his job. And that’s what happened. When his job was offered to me, he fought like hell to get reinstated. And since I was an unknown and he’d been at the agency a few years, management was undecided about his fate. Ironically, they left it up to me. I was asked if I could work with him and train him as my subordinate. I declined. Buh-bye.

In summary, make your word your bond, trust your gut when dealing with people, and don’t take the bait and battle with every a-hole that crosses you’ll find on your way to the top. Things have a way of working themselves out. Be patient.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is the city of Seattle for being the first major city to raise the minimum wage to $15. Good for them! 


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