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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying Sane

Robert Manni - Thursday, April 06, 2017


Can you recall a crazier time in our lives than right now? Probably not.

Between every excruciating day of chaos ushered in by our new president, global terror, rising health care costs, homelessness, weekend subway service in NYC, an endless winter, GMO’s infesting our food, drone-like jobs with longer hours and less pay, it’s a tough time to be alive. People are stressed out, tired, unfocused, hyper, and stretched to the human limits. This is not how things are supposed to be, amigos. I’m actually surprised our society hasn’t completely melted down.

More and more I read about disclosure and how our planet is on the verge of a major change for the better. But when you are under a constant assault of fear by the media and the powers that be, no one would blame you for feeling life is uninspiring and becoming a long, slow downward spiral.

What’s a Guy’s Guy to do? Lots. With the hope of contributing to your mental, physical and spiritual wellness, I’ve pulled together a punch list of ten things you can do when your world appears to have gone absolutely bonkers. I call it, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Sane. Here’s my list in no particular order.

Drum roll, please…

1. Breathe – That’s right. Breathe. When you are on edge, even the smallest slight can trigger you into overreacting and regretting things later. If your latest Facebook post puts you on the receiving end of the social media trolls or your boss is sabotaging you because you can do her job better than she can, don’t take the bait. Take a few slow breaths, hold, and release. Breathe and repeat. Try this slow breathing when riding the subway or the bus and within a few minutes your mind will calm down. It’s a good start.

2. Ease up on social media – I don’t know about you, but my feed features a polarizing gamut of spiritual articles and memes, sports and culture, and partisan political posts. After asking myself why do I care what my grammar schoolmates post about Trump, I began unfollowing, and at times unfriending and blocking those I found annoying. I feel better. It’s a start to regaining my sanity. I’ve found that endlessly scrolling Facebook and Twitter makes us anxious, like we’re all on pins and needles waiting for that post or tweet that’s going to make everything better in our lives. It’s making people crazy. Sure, I enjoy videos of the kitty that scared off the alligator and the kid with no arms who sank a 3-point shot. But there’s too much weird activity on Earth to keep up with while trying to be productive. So get a grip, amigo, holster that phone, and push away from your computer screen. Live your life offline.

3. Turn off the news – Whether it’s online or on your television, there’s an endless feed of news and propaganda spewed at us all day. Have you ever wondered why you see the same stories on most of the networks? It’s because a handful of organizations own the news outlets. They decide what stories are worthy and how long to pound them into our consciousness. Right now it’s all about Russia, Trump, the latest global terror strikes and other stories that instill fear. Those topics have legs, while other topics like fixing our environment and safeguarding our food supply are ignored. I’m not suggesting we turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the world, but we need to remind ourselves that there is an agenda. We’re served what they want to feed us. So it’s important to our mental health to consume news in moderate, manageable doses or else risk depression. After all, you still need to submit that updated Excel sheet with the Q3 projections by close of business tomorrow.

4. Get outside – Nothing brings me more sanity than getting out of my crib. When it’s cold and dreary, it’s tough to push yourself out the door. But, when you stay inside there are too many temptations to flip on the TV or laptop. A walk in the fresh air brings a new perspective and is very helpful for calming down.

5. Exercise – When the world seems to be going crazy, a workout or a run in the park provide a hard to beat mental, physical, and spiritual respite from all the stress. I prefer a long run to clear my head. Others like yoga or spin classes, stretching, cardio or free weights to decompress. Whatever you choose is fine. Like they say, just do it. Sex is a good exercise also.

6. Meditate – Meditation has many benefits. Besides relaxing and clearing the mind, meditation gives the physical body an opportunity to heal from the duress of modern life. And of course, it also allows us to get in touch with our inner consciousness and higher self. Even if you can only spare a few minutes a day, find time to meditate. You’ll see a difference in how you view the world.

7. Appreciate art – Thank God for artists. They reflect our world in so many ways while allowing our minds to process life through a fresh lens. It doesn’t matter if you are reading a novel, wandering through a museum, watching an indie film, or listening to jazz. Taking time to appreciate the arts always provides a needed mental break from the craziness and helps us see our world and plight with a different perspective.

8. Create something  Putting your focus into personal expression keeps the cray cray away. Writing, singing, painting, sewing, chanting, or even sculpting your body are wonderful outlets to let off steam and express how you feel about what’s gong on in the world and your personal experience. These all take a concentration and getting into a zone where you’re focused on building something instead of simply processing information. Creativity is a safe haven from a messed up world.

9. Engage with other people – Deep conversations with a friend, laughter, hugging it out, and sex are proven ways to de-stress and stay sane. And they’re usually fun.

10. Service – Extending oneself to others, even in small ways has a ripple effect. Doing good makes the world a better place, and a less crazy place. Sharing your knowledge, being a mentor, volunteering, or even giving accordion players a buck all helps make the world a better place.

These are just a few ways we can keep our sanity in an increasingly dysfunctional culture. The media and the powers that be want us to live in fear and see one another as separate. The truth is that underneath the surface everyone is connected and we have a lot of collective power. Stay positive and control your thoughts. You are not crazy.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is the Dalai Lama. Throughout his life he has managed to maintain wisdom, calm, and equilibrium in the face of the endless challenges that have been thrown his way.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Keeping Love Alive

Robert Manni - Friday, March 31, 2017

Rule number one: Don’t take your lover for granted.

You know how it goes. You get busy, you fall into a routine, and before you know it the sparks of love have turned into the embers and ashes of a once hot relationship.

Modern life brings challenges to any relationship, no matter how deep and committed the connection. And, so many guys, even Guy’s Guys, get bored and fail to take care of their relationship. Left unchecked this leads to undesired results. And since a lot to dudes think with their penis, unless their sex life is constantly cranked up to ten, they mistakenly think that their relationship is waning. That is usually not the case.

Women get bored too, but they work on ways to make the relationship better. Unfortunately, guys are often oblivious to their efforts and the little things women do to improve men’s lives. As a result, couples drift apart and when communications break down, the relationship can implode. Relationships are tricky and keeping the sexual fires burning is no small task, especially if you have kids. So, couples need to listen to their partner, empathize with their needs and find common ground so they can meet each other halfway. That’s how loves “works”. When love is not nurtured, it fizzles out. But if two people in love put in the effort, there is not reason why they can’t maintain a long-term loving, sexual relationship. Here’s how…

1. Pay attention – The fastest way for a guy to ruin his relationship is by not paying attention to his partner. No matter how bad things get, women always pay attention to the relationship. Although it often goes unspoken, women expect the same from their man. And, it’s the least we can do. After those initial three blissful months of drinks and sex and sleeping in together, it’s easy to sluff off when shifting into the next phase of a relationship. Maybe you lounge around your crib in the same sweats too much and stop buying her flowers. Maybe you storm out on those nights when she wants to chill and watch her housewives shows. I get it, but, even if you see her in the bathroom more than when she is decked out in lingerie, don’t take her love for granted. Make an effort. Check in with her, ask her how her day went, and give her a hug. And actively listen to her. Every day. That’s not all you need to do to keep the fires burning, but you get the idea. Be present. Do something nice for her every week. It will remind her why you’re a champ and I promise that if she loves you, she’ll pay you back in kind. One other thing. Try not to fart in bed.

2. Roll with the punches – You may think you have it together, but in reality you’re no Superman and she’s not Wonder Woman. Once you realize that we are all human and flawed, the easier it gets to savor a partnership, warts and all. Everybody has a past and with it comes baggage. Over time you’ll find out some weird shit about your partner. But take heart, amigo. Not all weird shit is bad. Maybe she was bulimic in high school and now she’s on a vegan diet.  Maybe she despises sports. Gasp. No worries. These are details, and you probably watch too many sports anyway. Our differences can be positives if you maintain the right attitude. Consider where she’s been, where she’s coming from and most importantly where she’s headed.  And don’t sweat it. Look at her tastes and quirks as opportunities for you to learn and grow, and don’t take anything personally. Everyone is different. Live with it.

3. Be open to change – Here’s a quick case study. I was a long-term carnivore when I met my wife. She was a vegetarian. So, on our first date I decided not to order a cheeseburger. I must have gotten a check plus for that because on our next date she ordered fish. Now, neither of us eats meat, but we both eat fish now and then. We were open-minded and considerate, so it was easy finding common ground and making things work. And, I’m very happy that she showed me a healthier lifestyle by her example.

4. Forgive – Guys screw up all the time. Fortunately, most women are understanding and pretty reasonable about most of our snafus. Of course if you cheat and get busted, all bets are off. But for the most part, forgiveness is a great quality to have in a long-term relationship. Because you’ll need it. You are bound to have spats and blurt out something stupid, so couples often need to apologize or forgive their partner. It happens to the best of us. What can you do? Start by practicing kindness and empathy when your partner messes up.

5. Remember how and why you fell in love – It’s easy to take love for granted, but, if your eyes start wondering and you get that itch that needs scratching, stop and think before you do something that hurts your partner and your relationship. Think for a moment about how you fell in love with her and the qualities that endeared her to you. Then take her out for dinner and remind her about why you dig her so much. If you’re not interested in stepping back and putting in a little extra effort when you get an urge to sample the menu, that’s a sign. Maybe you’re taking your partner for granted or you are in the wrong relationship. It’s your move. But, don’t be hasty and toss a good thing away without thinking about the consequences. Good love is hard to find, so be appreciative and do your best to show her she’s the best thing that ever happened to you.

Our GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the actor Hugh Jackson. He’s a Wolverine and a heartthrob that’s stayed in a long marriage when he could be banging his way through Hollywood.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Navigating Change

Robert Manni - Saturday, March 25, 2017


Change doesn’t come easy for a lot of us, but it’s something we all need to come to terms with if we want to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Change comes at us in many forms. Sometimes it’s organic, just a natural part of our journey. Other times it’s thrust upon us whether or not we want it or are prepared for its repercussions. But one thing is for sure—change is part of life and the faster we come to terms with it, the better off we’ll be.

Even us Guy’s Guys often find themselves challenged when faced with change. Like most people, we’re creatures of habit. Job loss, a sudden break up with a girlfriend, or the death of a loved one can often be devastating and require maturity skills to cope with life’s sway. And although not all change is bad, even a windfall of money brings with it important decisions that can have a lasting impact on the road ahead.

I’ve been going through a number of changes lately and have finally have come to terms with the fact that if you live in the present, change is a lot easier to deal with. So here are a handful of tips to help you navigate through the infinitesimal changes that will come your way, whether you like them or not. Did you really think Trump would become president? Talk about change…

1. Stay present - Although change is omnipresent, it comes in different forms. Some of it seems good. In other instances, not so good. Whatever the circumstances are, living in the now keeps you balanced and adaptable. Being present means having your head screwed on right and your hand on the wheel. This makes a huge difference in how you roll, and gives you a major leg up when things get shaken to the core. So when shit happens, even good stuff, try not to overreact. Take a deep breath and exhale. Don’t do anything yet besides grounding yourself. Get your footing before you deal. It will make a difference.

 

2. Take stock of the situation - Let’s say your boss just called you in and fired you out of the blue. Or, maybe you just won $100,000 from your scratch off. Obviously these are very different scenarios with different implications, but in both cases it doesn’t pay to overreact. Nowadays, almost everyone loses a job at one point or another. My dad worked for the same company for forty years with the same colleagues. How often does that occur now? Rarely. So even though your parents might think losing your job is the end of the world, it’s not. In fact, in most cases it can turn out to be a very good thing.

But, a lot depends on how you handle yourself. If you win a hundred grand in Lotto, it’s cool, but it isn’t that much money, especially after taxes. So, before blowing it all on a hot car or material indulgences, sort out exactly how much your win is worth. It’s probably not as much as you expected. But now you know, so give yourself major thumbs up and buy yourself and your lady a nice treat. I’m not saying that you should bank the rest, but don’t be too quick to jet out to Vegas if you want to make that cash work for you.

3. Find the lesson - Nothing in life is sporadic. It’s all about cause and effect, amigo. When your world is suddenly flipped upside down, there’s usually a reason behind it. So whether you lost your gig or had that windfall of coin, there’s a good chance that your actions had something to do with it. I know Lotto is a game of chance, but you did buy that scratch off at that same bodega when Hector was behind the counter, so you did play a role in your stroke of luck. In the case of the job loss, there is always a reason. I’m not suggesting it was your fault. But, there were certainly factors in the decision, and when it’s work related, in most cases it comes down to the money. All of us can become collateral damage when revenues decline. Don’t take it personally, but also be honest with yourself and see if you can discern why you got the axe. Then, keep it in mind for the next time your company trims its headcount. 

4. Be appreciative - This is obviously easier when the changes are good, like in the winning that scratch off. But, even if you lose a job, it almost always leads to other doors opening when the timing is right. And if you follow the first three steps, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself shaking your head and realizing that the gig wasn’t right for you long term anyway. So there you go. 

5. Consider your options, make a plan, and take action – Regardless if the changes were bad or good, after you’ve taken stock of the situation, found the lesson and given thanks to the universe, it’s time to get cracking. Use change and even chaos to make things happen. Most people are sleepwalking through life anyway, so use your recent experiences, bad or good, to elevate your game. Bruised or battered or better, you’re stronger now, so decide what you want and then go kick some ass. After all, you’re a Guy’s Guy.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is David Bowie. This man was the consummate changeling—writer, musician, singer, and a true creative chameleon. Wasn’t he the GG who sang, “Ch-ch-ch-changes…?”

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Letting Go

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 02, 2017


Life keeps serving us up the same issues until we learn the lesson.

That’s how it works, amigos. Until we experience that V-8 moment, we continually face the same problems that have always dogged us. And because we are either not paying attention or very stubborn, when we learn the lesson, most of us learn it the hard way.

I had an epiphany last week as I watched my 17-year old vehicle being driven away by its new owner. I literally hit myself in the forehead with my palm as my eyes followed my silver sport utility as it disappeared down the road. It was at that moment that I realized that I had held onto it for too long. And because of my unwillingness to let it go, I paid a price in dollars, stress, and time. At that moment I knew that this had been the case in other areas of my life. That was the reason I kept having the same issue raise its ugly head at me over the years.

There’s no plan or special process to follow to achieve success. All you need to do is be mindful of the things, people, and situations that you may be clinging to. Then, step back, make a plan and let go, confident that you’re severing ties to an attachment that has run its course. It’s simple in theory, but can be challenging to execute.

Instead of articulating a multi-step plan, I’ll touch on key areas where I have fallen prey to holding on for too long at the cost of personal growth and success. Although I’ve learned my lesson and have grown wiser as I move forward, I will be tested again. But, I will face each challenge as they crop up. For now, let’s do this. I offer you the Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Letting Go.

Drum roll, please…

1. Love – Who hasn’t stayed in a relationship too long? Most of us, and definitely me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy, optimistic that people can change, or just lame. When it comes to love, it’s been all of the above. I’ve made the same mistake of hanging on too long more than once. Now that I’m happily married, hopefully I’ve learned my lesson in this area of my life. In a number of past relationships, deep down I knew things weren’t right, but I forged on, and on, and on. Instead of advancing or ending the relationships, I trudged along, grasping at straws that things would eventually turn out the way I had originally hoped. But in each affair, I let the clock run out and each woman caught me off guard and left me high and dry. That should never have happened, but I just let things be for too long.

In retrospect, and in deference to the women, I should have ended these relationships the moment I came to terms with the fact that nothing was going to change. Even if the abrupt exits hurt at the time, I bounced back and hold no grudges. In fact, the only person I am upset with is yours truly, because I did a disservice to the women and to myself by not moving on at the appropriate time. But, that was then, and it all worked out. All of the ladies are now married and I hope that they are happy. I know that I am.

2. Work – Your job sucks, but you hang in there anyway. Yep, we’ve all done that. It could be the money, not wanting to be looking without having a job, or sheer laziness. In any case, as the pages fall off the calendar, that job you hate can start to work against you. And, many times, it doesn’t end well. My career has been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows, but that’s okay. The highs have made everything worth it and each high was higher than the last one, so I know the next high is going to be off the charts.

I’ve stayed in a few jobs that I despised too long and every time it worked against me. The people who were jerks never changed, conditions went from bad to worse, and eventually these jobs turned into torture with a paycheck. A few came of these situations came to abrupt endings, just like my expired relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way though. When you know it’s not happening at work the way it was promised, start looking. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll automatically move into a perfect situation, but at least you are investing your energy into making a positive change. In the end, it all works out the way it’s meant to be. Just don’t sit there until you get canned because it’s obvious that you hate your job and don’t want to be there.

3. Home – Moving is a pain in the ass, but not moving is not always a good option. This is another area where we all fall prey into staying in a situation too long. I hung onto a modest studio on the West Side for a few decades because it was cheap and convenient. The good news is that I bought the place for less than the price of my car so I always had cash in my pockets. The bad news is the place was below my standards and as a result I hesitated bringing really hot women home with me because I did not feel comfortable about my digs. When I eventually sold it, it financed my current home, so I’m not complaining. But I probably could have flipped it and traded up or bought a bigger unit when my building went co-op and I had access to the insider price. But I didn’t, and that’s that. I made money and had the luxury of keeping a crash pad in the city. I also learned my lesson about holding on to things that no longer served my needs and station in life.

4. Car – I kept my vehicle for 17 years. Never keep a vehicle for 17 years unless you’re a mechanic. Over the past two years my ride was towed three times, and I was forced to invest over $3,000 in various repairs for a sport utility that I rarely drove. And when I did drive it, I was terrorized by every weird sound I heard coming from under the hood.

When I finally found a buyer via a local dealership reference, the guy showed up at my home with a thick wad of twenty-dollar bills. The day before I had experienced a flat tire and a dead battery, and the check engine light was on. Fortunately, I fixed the flat for $15 and got a jump to restart my battery, which somehow shut off the check engine light. I was shitting when the buyer looked under the car and noticed something dripping slowly onto the asphalt. He bought and sold cars for a living so I’m sure he had people who would take care of that, but it was just another stress point that could have been avoided if I would have sold the car a few years earlier. But, he handed over the cash.

Like I said, this experience flipped the switch for me. After I counted the stack of twenties and the buyer drove off, I realized that I had finally learned my lesson about hanging onto things too long.

This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. What I am suggesting is that you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting.

Hopefully, I won’t fall into the same old pattern again. But that’s on me. Somehow I think I have a better handle on the situation now that I know what I was doing wrong and why the same things kept happening over and over again. This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. But if you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting, you’ll be surprised at the results. I hope this spurs you guys to rethink your own habitual patterns and helps you break any bad habits before they break you.

The week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is all of us. It may have taken me a very long time to sort out my issue, but when the time was right the message rang loud and clear. I know you can do it, too.

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 

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. 

How to Find Peace Anywhere, Even New York City

Robert Manni - Friday, August 05, 2016


“If you can find peace here, you can find peace anywhere”.

That’s not Frank. It’s your Guy’s Guy. And it’s true. It’s possible to live a serene, drama-free lifestyle in New York City.

One way to find peace is to sit near the ocean watching the sea and listening to the waves crash against the shoreline. After a few short minutes you will definitely calm down. Another surefire way to quiet the mind is resting under a lotus tree on a remote mountainside. But how can we find bliss when we spend portions of our day, not on a mountaintop, but wedged into a sweaty, overcrowded 6 train during rush hour?

No worries. Finding peace in New York City is not as difficult as you may think. Over the years I have found a number of ways to stay calm and find tranquility, even in the city’s unusually stressful environment. So, I wanted to share are a few tips to help you chill. I’ve included a few of my faves and old standbys, and some new techniques I’ve recently picked up. And, trust me amigo, they all work if you have the right mindset and truly want to slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time. So without further adieu, here are your Guys’ Guy’s Tips for Finding Peace Anywhere, even in New York City.

1. Limit your media consumption – Everyone in New York is inundated with an endless barrage of media—internet, iPhones, television, text messages, Instagram, radio, podcasts, video games, newspapers, and all of the advertising that accompanies it. Every day we're clubbed and have our faces rubbed i[ a mixed mush of Trump, Isis, Hillary, and the damn Zika virus. You can’t even take a piss in a bar without seeing ads selling you the beer you just eliminated. It’s a vicious cycle.

In advertising, our aim is capitalize on feelings of lack to sell crap you really don’t need. Media takes things to another level. It preys upon our fears. Their strategy seems to be, “let’s scare the shit out of them so they’ll stay tuned”, hoping for a solution to the world’s problems. But as we know, whenever one problem is solved, lots more enter the trending news cycle. When people fall under this spell of doom and gloom it becomes close to impossible to find peace or solace.

There is one thing you can do to help alleviate the issue. Make sure you find the time to unplug every day. Be mindful of your work, but afterwards make it a goal to go old school. Don’t check your the phone every ten seconds, take a breather offline, have a real conversation, and see if you can leave the office without plugging in your ear buds. I know that’s tall order for millennials in a hyper-connected city like ours, but unplugging can make a big difference in elevating your mood and soothing your feelings of anxiety.

2. Replace it with literature, music, film, and art – One can argue that surfing the internet is reading, and most of the time, surfing the internet does consist of reading. But let’s consider what we’re reading when we’re online. Snarky Facebook posts about the election, what people had for lunch, or the latest news about Bernie Sanders, Kanye, Beiber, or the Kardashians probably won’t help your inner peace or sanity. Books and other art forms can help you find the peace you're seeking, if you consume peaceful content. Porn, ultra-violent graphic novels, speed metal, and Tarantino films are not recommended when you want to add peace to your day.

3. Walk more – Buses are slow. Subways are filthy and curtailed by delays. Taxis and Uber can get expensive quickly. And all these modes of transportation create stress. Want some peace? Over the years I have found that walking whenever possible does wonders for your heart, relaxes you, helps you learn the city, and is a great way to either start your day or de-stress after a tough go at the office. Of course there are times when we need to take public transportation or call Uber. But if you pay attention, you’ll find ample opportunities to walk instead of riding that stinky C train. And, over time you may find yourself steering your walks towards the more scenic urban landscapes like our wonderful parks. 

4. Meditate, do yoga, get physical – I find that twenty minutes of meditation or yoga helps alleviate stress and fosters peace. If a high intensity cardio workout can help get you into a zone where you can find clarity, then go for it. Any physical activity that requires focus also works to quiet that noise and monkey chatter in your mind.

5. Find tranquil settings – I’ve worked in most areas of Manhattan except for Wall Street. And having traversed almost every inch of Manhattan, I know enough to avoid Times Square, Midtown, and the financial district whenever possible. Between selfie-obsessed tourists, cartoon characters, and workers marching to and from the office texting and yapping into their cellphones, I steer clear of these over-populated sections of the city. If you are forced to spend time in one of these congested areas because of your job, if you look you will find a few mini-oasis and quiet places to sit, some with urban waterfalls. Weather permitting; stepping outside during your lunch hour or on a break does wonders for your mood.

6. Breathe – If you only do one thing to help you find peace in the city, make it being conscious of your breathing. Each time you can sit quietly for a moment, walk down the street, or when you’re feeling angst creep in, focus on your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Do this for a minute or two and I assure you that you will find a brief respite from your daily struggles. Simply pay attention to your breathing. The more you do it, the more bliss you will find. It’s that easy, amigos. Peace out.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Sri Dharma Mittra. He is a wise and peaceful yoga teacher who has an amazing studio on 23rd Street in Manhattan and followers worldwide. 

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 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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