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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Valentines Day: The Holiday About Love that Everyone Hates

Robert Manni - Friday, February 10, 2017

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it, and I’d like to have a chat with St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do.  The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was he a romantic legend created by Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this enigmatic man had been spun more times than a soggy towel around the dryer.  Then a slew of corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, or jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced his “brand”.  And since it’s a holiday, we are now treated to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and that big red heart on their calendars.

What’s the one word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day?  

Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you very clearly that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, making you feel less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, then you have to step up your game and deliver the goods—big time. Women love flowers and chocolates, and like receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And although she’s digs jewelry, on February 14th it must be diamonds or gold, and it better sparkle. All men love seeing their woman dolled up in new lingerie, but if her outfit is really for him, who buys it for Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be unsettling. And he probably forgot what size she wears and does not want to make a mistake.  You’ve seen guys wandering around the store checking out other women’s boobs trying to figure out if they could be the same size as his girlfriend’s. And trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl. Pressure.

So how do we get through this annual ordeal?

I have no clear answer. And to ratchet up my own personal helping of pressure, my wife’s birthday is on February 12th. I’m totally screwed. Okay, breathe. There’s hope. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is, if they can rally the troops and muster up the moxie for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt out there.  And when you hit the bars, keep your eyes focused on those ladies on the lookout for some man-meat and off the hockey game playing on the big screen. If you’re a man in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something fresh. Buy her some well-deserved pampering at a top shelf spa or offer to cook her a romantic dinner.  If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. K.I.S.S., as they say. Keep it simple, stupid! As for me, I might end up caulking the bathroom tile before taking her out to her favorite raw food restaurant.  But, I’ll do that on her birthday. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.

What I've Learned Hosting the first 200 Episodes of Guy's Guy Radio

Robert Manni - Thursday, February 02, 2017

I launched Guy’s Guy Radio a few years ago. In keeping with my novel, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love, and my syndicated blog “On Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness” at www.robertmanni.com, I was looking for another medium where I could help bridge the communications gap between men and women. It’s been a great experience for me. Over the past three years, I’ve met and interviewed over 200 fascinating people—experts in their field who are passionate about their work. And even though hosting a podcast has been hard work, my guests have provided a free education for me on a multitude of subjects.

Here’s how I got started: After deciding on a service provider, I began broadcasting the show via my cell phone before switching to a landline and finally upgrading our production through the computer using a Blue Snowball microphone and headphones. It’s still fairly basic stuff, but besides some early glitches in service and the occasional blare of a passing ambulance racing to Mount Sinai Hospital outside my studio, technologically speaking, the podcast is working out well. In fact, our show is booked solid through the next few months, and these first two hundred podcasts have given me the invaluable opportunity to hone my message and my hosting skills. I’m constantly learning about crafting a clear, on-brand message, engaging listeners, and interviewing guests in a way that puts them at ease. Fast-forward, and within a few months I was named a featured host on Blog Talk Radio.

But it hasn’t all been that easy. Besides being the on-air talent, I book my guests, review their work which could mean reading a book, craft a set of relevant points to discuss, and prepare my opening remarks and weekly Guys’ Guy’s Guide™ feature. It’s psychically rewarding, but surprisingly time-consuming. The goal is for the show to be less Q&A and more of a conversation, so our audience can sit back and enjoy the broadcast or interact with it they by calling in with a question for the guest.

All in all, it’s been a fun gig. Being a Guy’s Guy, I want to give back and share some of what I have learned so far from hosting a show. And since they’ve become so popular now, who knows, you might be considering producing your own podcast. It’s not rocket science, but it takes discipline, composure, and a little finesse to handle the many curveballs that come your way.

Before we go any further, let me give some thanks to another Guy’s Guy. I’d like to extend a heartfelt shout out to my producer and friend, Ryan, my favorite millennial. Without his expertise and guidance, I’d be lost in a logistical hell. He’s a consummate pro and a super problem solver. Thank you, amigo.

Now, onto what I’ve learned about podcasting over the course of my first two hundred shows.

Although anyone can host a podcast, it’s not for everyone. Like writing a novel, hosting a successful radio podcast needs to be more than something you like to do. It needs to become something you have to do. If you scroll through iTunes or the Podcasts app, you’ll find podcasts available about almost any topic imaginable. This relatively new medium has become increasingly popular to the point where even mainstream celebrities are getting into the act. However, because the cost is minimal and the technology is relatively easy to use, it also means that there is a glut of podcasts hosted by folks who like to hear themselves speak more than what they can offer their listeners. It’s expected, so no big deal. The only takeaway is to be discerning when looking for podcasts to follow. Guy’s Guy Radio is about living your best life in a world where men and women can be at their best and everyone wins. It’s all filtered through the lens of an evolving Guy’s Guy. Our guests range from relationship experts and dating coaches, writers, healers, channels, psychics, wellness experts, fantasy sports pros, and entertainers.

Here’s how I handle the show: I begin with my theme song, "Uninspired," contributed by the band Noba, before greeting the audience and tease our special guest. For the next five to ten minutes I tackle a few current events through my personal Guys’ Guy’s lens. Then after a quick reminder of how GGR began and what we stand for, I move to my weekly “Guys’ Guy’s Guide” where I hone in on a specific topic for a few minutes. These are usually featured in my weekly blog posts. Then it’s time to welcome our special call-in guest. Our conversation takes between 30- 45 minutes. Though the majority of listeners subscribe to podcasts so they can tune in on their own schedule, our show does take live callers. I choose my own guests, so I support their work and as a result, although we may disagree on an issue, I am not seeking conflict. I want my guest to feel at home with me and our listeners — a mix of both men and women.

After hosting 200 podcasts, I’ve nailed down a working template. I know what I stand for so we rarely stray from the Guys’ Guy’s credo — Better Men. Better World.  If all of this sounds appealing to you, make sure you have a concept you feel strongly about and that you are committed to the time it takes to get traction before launching your own show. If you think this might be something for you, keep reading.

Start slow, know your brand, and keep an open mind.  Because my novel and website were anchored in the relationships area, my first few podcasts centered on dating and relationships. At first, I hosted with a female on-air talent. Each week we focused on a specific dating issues like online dating, technology and dating, what men need to know about women, and visa versa. We exchanged banter and answered caller questions. It was working pretty well, but after a few weeks my partner had other commitments. This brought on my first major challenge—I needed to make a quick decision to either drop the podcast or go it alone. I’ve always been a big fan of radio and after listening to my intuition I decided to give it a go. But, I needed to find a guest within 24 hours. I contacted a friend who’d recently launched his one-man off-Broadway show. Fortunately he agreed to be our first guest in the new solo format. He’s a comedian and an old friend, so we had a good rapport from the start. The show came off well and people responding positively on social media.

I knew I could make this work, so I sketched out a list of interesting people I knew or that other might know that I could get on the show. After a few months we’d booked a steady lineup and expanded the show’s focus beyond relationship issues to wellness, spirituality and other topics I felt passionate about and believed would resonate with our audience of evolving guys and the women who love them. Pretty soon some publicists found me and began pitching me potential guests. The rest, as they say, is history. We’re now booked well in advance, but are always on the lookout for provocative guests who have something of value to share with our audience. Speaking of value, if you do decided to launch your own show, once you have generated a steady audience there are ways of earning money through program sponsorships or revenue sharing from your provider. This takes patience and time, but if you can score a sponsor, good things can happen.

Depending on the show’s platform, podcasting can be a free education. It’s been an honor meeting and learning from so many interesting people who have devoted much of their life to their particular areas of expertise. One of the things that I’ve learned is that like the core tenants of the world religions, many of the spiritual teachers we’ve hosted guests have shared the same universal truths in various ways. And their answer always comes down to our making choices between love and fear. It’s that simple.

I’ve only scratched the surface about the ins and outs of podcasting, so look out for part two in the near future. Until then, look for me on Guy's Guy Radio every Wednesday at 7pm ET on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn I’ll now leave you with the words I use when I close each show: Guy’s Guys finish first.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are all of my guests, listeners, and subscribers. They make everything possible and deserve my heartfelt thanks. 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Patience (and Perserverence)

Robert Manni - Wednesday, December 14, 2016


If you’re like me and most New York Guy's Guys, you want what you want when you want it.

You like your pizza hot, your beer cold, your payments on time in cash, and your woman’s skirts short and tight. Okay, that last one was a bit sexist, but everyone’s bundling up as we enter another long, dark New York winter. We live in a fast-paced town where people rarely demonstrate patience, a key personality trait of people who know how to win at the game of life. I’m as guilty as the next Guy’s Guy—I want my shit now. But, over time I’ve learned that sometimes not getting that thing I wanted when I wanted it, even if at the time I believed it was perfect for me, was not in the cards for good reason.  It was either wrong, or it wasn’t the right time. The Universe was protecting me.

Over the years I’m still learning how important having patience is to personal development, maturity, and an appreciation of life. Maybe you didn’t get that job, that girl, that deal, or that fantasy football championship when you thought it was in the bag. But, when your ship comes in, even if it happens long after when you wanted it to enter that harbor, you’ll eventually find out that everything falls into perfect timing and what’s right for you.

Before you put your hand up and say, “Hey, Guy’s Guy. What about that time when I was supposed to win that blah, blah, blah?” Sorry, it wasn’t meant to be, amigo. Your path still remains on track even if at times it feels like you’re stuck in a ditch along that the long road to enlightenment. You will get there and so will I. All we need is patience. The Universe hears us. It knows what we want to experience, but it has a different concept of time than our hyper demands for getting what we want now, now, now. With all that in mind, here are my Guy’s Guy perspective for learning patience and why it’s a very good thing.

Remember that job you applied for after college, thinking it was the perfect? Even though you may have landed the job and thought it was the right one for you, that opportunity doesn’t matter very much now, does it? If you were like me, you got the job, but over time had misgivings. I thought working for a big corporation that sold cookies and confectionary was the perfect gig. I met a lot of smart people, and I got solid experience and international travel under my belt. Then, after a few years and endless rounds of bosses, teams, and changing rules and politics I came to the realization that the people marketing a fun products like bubble gum and candy bars were some of the least fun people I had ever met. Packaged goods marketing was a notch on my career belt, but it was not what I wanted going forward. So I took my time and got a solid job in the image industry that suited me much better. In fact, I was much happier. It took time to make the change, but it was worth it. I was bored and miserable in the packaged goods industry, even though at the time it was the perfect place for me to start out. I got what I wanted when I wanted it, but I also learned that it there was something better out there. I took what I could get out of the experience and forged ahead. In this case, patience prevailed.

Here’s another example. Have you ever run into a former high school, college, or ex from your twenties and then suddenly experienced that “what was I thinking?” moment? Someone you had previously thought was the hottest, coolest partner. Maybe she dumped you, and left heartbroken. It made your desire for her become even hotter. But now, after a few years you see and there’s really no attraction whatsoever. You still respect her, but you’re not in any way, shape or form attracted to her physically or energetically anymore. What happened? Life happened. Aren’t you glad that things didn’t work out the way you had wanted back then? That’s what I’m talking about. You’re probably a lot smarter, happier and hanging with a partner who is better suited to you. It took me years to learn this valuable lesson. I learned that the hard way. In more than one relationship, I tried to force something to work that deep down I knew was not meant to be. I didn’t have the belief or the patience with myself and my abilities to just take a deep breath and move on. So I burned my time and probably hurt some feelings. But eventually I learned to be patient with change. And when I was more mature and ready to share my life, I met the woman who became my wife, my best friend, and lover. I’m glad the Universe taught me the rewards of patience.

Final story. A few years ago I took a break from the advertising game and began building the Guy’s Guy brand in earnest. I knew it would be hard. At the time I sat in a personal reading from a famous spiritual channel. The Guides that channeled in knew me inside out. At the time, I was eager to cash in on my novel, screenplay, TV script and treatment, podcast, non-fiction book series and all of the bricks I’d been laying in the foundation of my Guy’s Guy brand plan. I wanted it all right then and there, but there was more work to be done.

The Guides asked me an interesting question. “Would you be willing to do what you are doing without knowing if you would make money?” It was a striking question about my personal beliefs and intentions. I considered what I was doing and why. I felt the same way I did as when I was writing my novel. This was not just something I wanted to do; it was something I had to do.  I knew that I had to be patient, learn my craft, and hone my message so I would be properly prepared when my ship came in. After the reading, I went to work.

It’s been a few years since that reading and it’s not always been easy. I could have given up. At times I’ve said to myself, “WTF?” But overall, things are good. I’m healthy, strong and wiser than before and my family and my personal needs are being met. And, even though I still don’t know exactly how or exactly when my dream will manifest, I know it will happen at the right time, in the best way possible. That is my intention, and I am patient in my knowing.

So what’s the take away, Guy’s Guy? Do we sit here and just wait for our ship to come in? No, you do your work, set your intentions, and live, live, live in the moment. As you develop your patience you’ll eventually know that all things in your purview are happening in perfect timing. Good luck.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Abraham Lincoln. Here is a list of thirty years of his failures, plus a few successes on his way to becoming one of our greatest presidents. The man had patience and perseverance.

  • 1831 - Lost his job
  • 1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 - Failed in business
  • 1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
  • 1835 - Sweetheart died
  • 1836 - Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 - Elected to Congress (success)
  • 1848 - Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 - Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 - Elected President (success)

Image courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov 

The Guys' Guy's Post-Election Guide to Managing Your Friendships, and Social Media

Robert Manni - Tuesday, November 15, 2016


More shocking than the host of Celebrity Apprentice becoming our 45th President-elect has been the hate and vitriol spewed between so many friends who supported different candidates this recent election.

As you know things have gotten personal and real nasty. The levels of hate and toxicity have been surprising and it’s saddening that things have come to this in our great (yeah, it’s still great) country. 

Who out there hasn’t been taken aback by the sheer anger and bile projected by our friends, countrymen, and fellow patriots at one other? Those who voted for Trump ask others to give him a chance before jumping down his throat. The HRC supporters respond and say how can we, when it was it was Trump who started and then fanned the fires with his inflammatory comments throughout the campaign? His early picks for key positions that include members of his immediate family and Republican insiders—how is this draining the swamp?

Many people are afraid of the early signs of backlash from the Trump victory by his fervent supporters, including racial slurs and swastikas slapped onto public buildings. Others point to Clinton’s cronyism and the screwing over of Bernie Sanders as proof that she really was Crooked Hillary. A match between Bernie and Trump may have been more interesting and might have yielded different results, but that’s not what we got. Instead we had six months of WWE style putdowns, slanders, and nastiness that either embarrassed, enraged, or galvanized supporters for these two flawed candidates.

How did this happen? For months, and even after the Wikileaks emails surfaced, it looked like Hillary had the election in the bag. But the pundits were wrong. They were so, so wrong. The polls and the TV talking heads either misread or weren’t paying attention to the pent up anger that spread not only through Middle America, but also resonated with a surprising number of women, blacks, and Latinos, all voting for Trump. It’s amazing, but true. So let’s agree that people were fed up, and now here we are. A country more divided after the election.

Social media, and Facebook in particular, have become war zones. Friends, friends of friends, and trolls continue the diatribe of incendiary and often highly personal remarks about their fellow Americans. Disgusting democrats, racist Republicans, Nazis, and rapists are just a sample of the descriptions I’ve witnessed today on my FB feed. And I, too, was sucked into the fray early on and may have tossed a few verbal bombs as well, especially towards friends who seemed out of touch. The bottom line is that many voters are going to be in for a major surprise, especially for those in the lower income levels who need positive change and a bit of luck. It’s still early, but unlike Brexit, I have not seen any buyers’ remorse by Trump supporters. In fact, most of them are either gloating or doubling down on the “whiny loser” rhetoric. Clinton supporters have refused to take a “wait and see” approach, but this only leads to more frustration as we are going to experience change whether we like it or not.  To be fair, Trump won, and his supporters were really, really pissed off and many didn’t expect to win. But after the celebratory mood quiets down, I suggest they fasten their seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Many who hate the costs of Obamacare will find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to healthcare and rising costs from private sources, which was why we got Obamacare in the first place. The bottom line is that it’s going to get ugly and to survive as a nation we collectively need to stay peaceful, focused and educate ourselves about the positions and policies that we’re about to face. 

So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? I suggest first taking stock and then taking action as warranted. To the protestors, you have the right to assemble and make our voices heard. Trump urged revolts when Obama won in 2012, so we have to be fair about that. Are some of these bused-in, paid supporters? Maybe. If so, it’s not a good thing, but do we get truth from the media anymore? Let’s face it—the mainstream media outlets are partisan. And most of the crap reported on the internet is mostly just that, crap. But, lots of people believe what they want to believe and that is not going to change. So here’s what I suggest:

1. Don’t attack what you hate. Promote what you love. Whether that means protesting, marching or joining a group that seeks to advocate transparency or make positive change, make sure that it is built on love, not just fear.

2. Block nasty strangers and snarky trolls on social media. People get whisky muscles on social media and, as you may have noticed, there are a lot of jerks on the internet. So unless you feel like wasting your time arguing with people who love to drag a spirited discussion into the gutter, the most effective way to deal with their bullshit is to simply block them. End of story.

3. If you have to, UNFRIEND people who are toxic. If they really are your friends in the offline world, they most likely won’t fall into this category. But, if offline friends become impossible and copy you on endless threads of hateful emails, rethink that friendship.  Whatever you do, don’t respond to those emails, especially if you’re being baited and if members of their CC list expose strong and divergent opinions from yours. Ask yourself if that person is really your friend and the kind of dude you want in your life now.

I’m not pointing a finger solely at Trump supporters. They have a right to celebrate and even gloat a bit. But, I would ask them to at some point soon, get past the euphoria and actually go deeper into what their candidate has discussed, including the wall, tariffs, repealing Obamacare, handling ISIS in a secretive fashion, etc. Our new President-elect was voted in on the winds of change. Change can be a good thing, but not when it’s simply for the sake of change. There needs to be substantive reasons and concrete plans we can embrace. At this point, we all need to watch our new administration closely and hold their toes to the fire when they consider any actions that could curtail any of our hard-fought freedoms.

So let’s all take a deep breath, stay vigilant, and choose love over fear. It’s the only way to go.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yeah, remember that guy? He promoted equality, space exploration, physical fitness, and justice for all. And no one called him crooked or the second coming of Hitler. But sadly, we all know what happened. God bless America.

5 Unconventional Things to do This Fall

Robert Manni - Thursday, October 20, 2016


When the leaves start turning red, gold, and brown most folks pull out the sweaters from the back of their closet and slide back into their tried, true, and predictable pattern of fall activities.

Now, there is nothing wrong with football games, pumpkin pie, picking apples, or taking a long drive to bask in the peak colors of the autumn foliage. Folks who live in the Northeast love having four seasons and they know how to make the most of the myriad activities that take place at this wonderful time of year. Some call it cuffing season, when the swimsuits get packed away and it’s time to snuggle with your partner for the wintery months.

 So, are we in too much of a routine now, folks? That’s where your Guy’s Guy comes into the picture. As somewhat of a contrarian when it comes to following set rules, I’ve cobbled together a handful of ideas for you to consider as we head deeper into autumn. So in no particular order here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Unconventional Things to Do This Fall.

Drum roll, please… 

1. Hit the Beach – Yes, you read that correctly. After Labor Day, most people snap into that back-to-school mode way too quickly.  The Hamptons crowds return to Tribeca and the “Bennies” finally pack up and leave the Jersey Shore towns to the locals. But, guess what? With climate change scientifically proven and the warmer temperatures going deeper into the year, September now feels like summer. If you hit the beach in September and October, the traffic is minimal, the water is still warm, and there are no crowds. And, the beach is peaceful and calm. Just the way we like it when we want to get away for a few days. And, September and early October have a number of holidays that can make for a number of three-day weekends. As I write this, we are in the latter stages of October and it’s 82 degrees in New York City. There is still time for a swim. And when the water gets too cold, you can always take a nice long stroll along the boardwalk.

2. Change Your Eating Habits – Just because summer is over and you’re more apt to cover up your body more it doesn’t mean it’s the time to binge and pack on the pounds for the next six months. In fact, the new season is the perfect time to review your dietary habits and make a commitment to a lifestyle change, namely in your relationship with food. Please note that I did not recommend going on a diet. If you want to knock off some poundage for a short time, diets are great. And, there is no better time to diet than in the late spring so you can show off your stuff all summer long. What I’m suggesting is a complete review and potential overall of how you eat and relate with food. It takes time to make real changes in this area, but if you give yourself six months you will see miraculous results that will stay with you next summer and beyond. If you can cut way, way down on meat, fried foods, dairy, bread and pasta and pizza, and of course, sugar, you will find yourself be bursting with energy while your carnivorous friends are loading up on comfort foods, becoming more sedentary and probably getting a bit chunky. You know this happens every year. So don’t be that guy. Change your relationship with food.

3. Take a Trip to the Zoo - There are two times of the year to go to the zoo—in the spring and in the fall. My first preference is the spring because the animals are lively and pretty randy, too. But fall is also a great time to check out the Bronx Zoo. The foliage is gorgeous, the crowds are manageable, and the animals are fairly active as the weather cools down. In the summer and winter you rarely see the animals doing anything beyond sleeping or briefly lumbering over to their food tray. 

4. Train for a marathon - Yes, I realize that the NYC Marathon takes place on the first Sunday of November. A year before running my first marathon, I was running on a Sunday morning listening to the marathon broadcast on the radio through my ear buds. I decided right then to run in the New York City Marathon the following year. And I did. Instead of cramming three months of training into a grueling summer, I began laying down my training base and running foundation a year in advance. I’m really glad I did this because by the time race day came around I was in tip-top shape and ran a faster time in my second thirteen miles. Having that strong foundation of running for a solid year also gave me time to cultivate some personal discipline and learn how to listen to my body when those inevitable tweaks and injuries sprang up.

If you don’t fancy yourself as a marathoner, you could start a fitness regime in the fall with a goal of getting into the best shape of your life by the following summer. If you stick to your program, most likely you will.

5. Make a List, Then Do Your Holiday Shopping Before Thanksgiving – Some folks love that scramble for presents during those frantic final weeks and days of December. Not me. I prefer to think things out in advance, set my budget, and scour the e-tailers for the best prices on the items I want to buy for my peeps. Yes, this is a bit anal, and you may get slightly better deals if you wait until the last minute, but who needs the hassle? If you try shopping early some time, you’ll realize how much easier it is to shop, how much money you can save, and how much more time you have on your hands during the holidays that you can spend partying with your homeys and loved ones.

There will be plenty of days ahead when you can you curl up in that chunky sweater with your honey in front of the TV. This year, consider trying on a few fresh ideas for fall. As DT says, “What have you got to lose?” If you don’t see me, I’m probably at the beach.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Robert Zimmerman, better know to most as Bob Dylan, folk singer and the voice of our generation, for his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well-deserved.

The 5 Most Important Pieces of Advice I've Ever Been Given

Robert Manni - Monday, October 17, 2016

In most cases opinions are like, well you know what part of the body I’m referring to. Hint: everyone has one and you are probably sitting on yours while you’re reading. But on rare occasion a pearl of wisdom is bestowed on each of us that truly resonates and helps guide us to a better experience in life. These nuggets are memorable and stick to our ribs. So when a fellow Guy’s Guy suggested that I write about the best pieces of advice I’d ever received, I first asked myself if anything quickly came to of mind, and sure enough, five bits of helpful advice almost instantly popped up in my mind. And I think you will agree that these are truths that have stood the test of time. So in no particular order, here they are, along with whom they are attributed to. Drum roll please….

1. PAY ATTENTION – At the end of the third date with my future wife, I said something like, “I’m really enjoying our getting to know one another. I’ve dated quite a few women and had ongoing relationships, but obviously they did not work out. What can I do to be a good boyfriend?” Without even a moment’s hesitation, she replied, “Pay attention.” I raised my eyebrows and said, “That’s it? Anything else?” She looked me in the eye and said, “No.” In a flash I got the message. I realized that I, like so many men, was too focused on me and my world and not paying enough mind to my partner and the “little things” that women keep a handle on. I decided right there that I would work on being more attentive. We’ve been married for six years, so I must be making progress. But, make no mistake about it. Paying attention is a way of life that transcends romantic relationships into every key area of our life- work, family, money, friendships. Basically, all of our human interactions.

2. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF – About twenty years ago I was in the midst of a personal crisis due to a job loss. I’d built up a sterling resume, but for some reason had not connected to my next gig yet, and it was driving me crazy.  I often visited my folks in Jersey during this time, just being a good son. But, I was obviously giving off an anxious vibe due my frustrations.  My father always asked me about work and it became annoying to keep telling him I was not back in the saddle yet. I guess he was paying attention though, because he sent a card to me in the city that really hit home. On the cover was a drawing of a young boy on a stage facing a huge crowd. He was holding a violin behind his back. I opened the card curiously and stopped in my tracks when I read the inscription. It simply said, “Believe in yourself”, Love Dad. I placed the card on top of the doorway that led into the main room and it remained there for a decade. I landed a great job pretty soon thereafter, but left the card perched on the molding as a reminder. It’s tucked away somewhere now, but the message still burns in my consciousness. I believe in myself and will always be thankful for my father’s sensitivity to me and his support and encouragement. My father traveled quite a bit during my younger years and I had to figure out a lot of things on my own, so it was heartwarming to receive this gift from him.

3. THIS TOO SHALL PASS – Many people are under the impression that this famous quote comes from the Bible, but it doesn’t. Some scholars attribute it to King Solomon or Sufi poets, but its origins remain unknown. It came to me from my mother. I’ll bet she thinks it comes from the Bible, too, but what matters is the underlying truth in this statement that is often shared with someone going through a tough time. The bottom line is that it’s true—this too will pass. Things eventually change. That means everything, the bad and the good. The lesson is to not get too caught up in what we are currently experiencing because it is temporary. Life is transitory. And although you might not always get want you want, when you think about some of those things you may have missed out on a few years later, we often realize that the thing, person, or opportunity we were obsessed with was probably not right for us and we are better off that it did not happen. And when you think about it, there really is no past or a future. The only thing that matters is right now. So, try not to get too hung up on what looks like a bad situation. Things change, life is transitory, and you have free will.

4. IT’S ALL CONNECTED – Probably my all time favorite job to date was at a small, hip, and now defunct NYC ad agency. I can honestly say that I never once got up in the morning and dreaded coming to work. In fact, it was just the opposite. I actually looked forward to every new day at the agency and the challenges my team faced rebuilding a global vodka brand and catapulting a now world-famous gin to new heights. Every day was an adventure. The agency had a wonderful work ethic and environment with great people who got along, as well as fifty or so advertising people can get along. And we did great work and succeeded in building our clients’ businesses. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe a higher salary, but I made enough and had a nice expense account so no complaints. Like most situations in the ad game, at a certain point the landscape shifts.  If you're smart you can see the changes on the horizon. So, I accepted a bigger job on a massive global account at another agency. On my last day, my boss, the agency’s owner, stopped by my office. He was a man of few words. But he said two things that stuck with me to this day. First, he said, “good job”. That was high praise because he wasn’t one to dole out the flowery compliments. I knew I had kicked ass and he validate it. Then he leaned in and said, “Remember, it’s all connected.”  Then he shook my hand and walked out. The message did not sink in at that moment, but it still resonates with me until this day. He was right. Everything we are and do is connected, and we are surely connected to each other. That was been a huge gift and I remain appreciative of this gift of teaching me about “Oneness” as it applies to career, people, and our lives.

5. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE OCEAN OR ONCOMING TRAFFIC – (another reminder about paying attention). Sounds pretty obvious, right? But often even the simplest common sense tenants are ignored and often times followed by dire consequences. I’m not sure where I heard these two tidbits, but I keep them in mind each time I go for a swim at the Jersey Shore or step off of the curb in New York City.

We’ve all seen pedestrians rush across city streets in traffic without looking both ways. And virtually every time I go for a swim in the Atlantic, so many people turn their backs when the waves get rough.  And we all know how many accidents there are in the city and in the water. I think this advice also applies to all aspects of our lives. It’s always best to pay attention and look before you leap.

So there you have it. Five pieces of advice that have helped me live a better life. I hope they will help you, too. That’s all I’ve got for right now. Peace out.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Serge Manni, my Dad, for having my back when I needed a boost and for always being there for me, even if at times it was only in spirit. 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Aging - Part 1 (The Bad News)

Robert Manni - Saturday, August 27, 2016


A seventy-three year-old Mick Jagger once sang, “Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.” Although he was correct, he’s still vital, in great shape and killing it in concert.

If we play the cards we’re dealt the best way we can, it’s possible to extend our time here on Earth and age with vigor, class, and élan. But, in order to live long and prosper there are some rules to follow. Aging impacts everyone¾ millennials through boomers. So in an effort to cover as much ground as succinctly as possible, I’ll break down the bad news on aging here before returning next week with the good news, including the steps we can take to ease our path into a healthy future.

The Bad News

After we reach the age of twenty-five, we begin to notice things starting to slow down. I’m sure many of you have woken up with a hangover while in your mid-twenties and noticed that for the first time the effects of the previous night took a larger toll on your well being than usual. A feeling like your head was hit with tiny ball peen hammers, aches and pains in new places, and your needing an extra day or two to get back to feeling one hundred percent again. Amigos, that’s the first step in what can be a long, uncomfortable slide into middle age if we are not mindful about our body and our lifestyle. Make no mistake about it. Once we hit twenty-five, our metabolism slows down and continues its slow descent for the rest of our lives.

From that point, it takes longer to manage our health and recover from partying, sex, sports injuries, illness, increased mental monkey chatter, and energetic blockages. Compounding all of this is the disturbing fact that too many Americans live reactive lives driven by fear, pessimism, and the current news cycle and propaganda spewed by our media. The majority of the media and advertising is focused on creating a mindset based on feeling of lack and what we don’t have. You need this. You could lose that and if you do, you’re screwed. Unless, of course, you buy this and do as you’re told. As we age, the burden of carrying around all this made-up nonsense becomes more burdensome until the dam bursts and we succumb to chronic illness.

And, along the way, we gain weight. When I was a kid, there were a handful of “chubby” kids in school. And, being cruel, we’d call them names. But now that we’re older, who isn’t waging their own personal battle of the bulge? If you take a stroll through any shopping mall, you’ll see a lot of obese kids and adults. It’s usually due to the food they eat, sedentary lifestyles, meds, and stress. As we gain weight, we slow down. And as we slow down, if we are not mindful about our diet and lifestyle, we’ll keep gaining weight. Then, we’ll get sick and slow down even more when we start taking meds for this, for that, and to combat the side effects from the first meds we took. This easily becomes a vicious downward cycle.

 

Want some more bad news about aging? As we get older, we can’t do all the things we have been doing for so many years, like eating the same foods in the same quantities, having sex three times a night, or working out as intensely and often as we did when we were in our early twenties. That does not mean we can’t take steps to combat all these limitations, but it’s not easy to change life-long habits and it requires discipline. Unfortunately, not a lot of people wake up and make the necessary choices to evolve their life-long habits until it’s too late.

Couple this with what was once your perfect vision weakening, bouts of insomnia, anxiety over work, getting up to pee three times an night, money anxiety, job loss, worrying about things we can’t control, and yearning for “the good old days”. And there’s more. Death, taxes, childcare costs, a shaky economy, Donald Trump being a step away from the presidency, and climate change. If we fall prey to the hype and swallow the swill served us in the form of GMO foods, fear-based media, ultra-violent entertainment, aging parents with chronic illnesses, loneliness, and a diminished quality of life, life can look bleak.

BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

For every question there is an answer and for the biggest questions in life the answer is always based in love. At our source we come from and are created with love. With love for ourselves in mind, next time I will review each one of the troubling aspect of aging and offer concrete ways of addressing the issue of aging gracefully and purposely, while living a fulfilling life deep the our senior years. 

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is spiritual teacher Tony Robbins, who said, “People overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish over a decade.”

 

Here’s to a pledge for decades of good health and well being for you.

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

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 14, 2016


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

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

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

1. Start the marriage on a positive note. 

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

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

2. Plan in advance.

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

3. No destinations, please.

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

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

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

5. Go on your honeymoon right away.

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

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

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

Robert Manni - Saturday, July 09, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week…

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

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 29, 2016


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

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

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

Know who you are and what you want.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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