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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Are Women The New Men?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Image courtesy of Zak Mc

If you haven’t seen it coming, you haven’t been paying attention. More and more, women are increasingly rising in power and being represented in archetypes such as super heroes, CEOs, cultural and artistic leaders, and world-renowned athletes. Why? Because women are making it happen and you cannot find fault in self-advancement. Is this a good thing? You bet, and it is about time that women have ascended. Even in this fast-paced age of media dominance and instant celebrity, until the past decade or so, men had definitely held their own. Now women are getting a fairer shake and really making their move. Let’s hope they make the best of it for all of us.

What Is The Result Of This Trend?

Economic gender parity and the shift for women thinking about marriage from necessity to choice is one result. Not only is this true in the west, but also in Asia where traditional family values have been perceived to be stronger than in America and Europe.  One surprising statistic according to a recent Economist article is that people marry now even later in Asia than in the west.  It sounds ominous, but it is simply fallout from the ongoing shift happening in our society. As women continue their accelerated path to higher education (for every two men in college there are now three women) the game will continue to change and the balance of power will shift. Again, this is welcome news, particularly to men who pay attention and continue to evolve with the changing times. 

Are Men Finished?

Hardly. Like it or not, for the most part, men still hold the majority of positions of power. Studies have proven that men continue to not only excel, but also dominate technology, engineering, and many other areas of study. That does not mean that women cannot achieve greatness in these specialties. It simply means that men and women can both make wonderful contributions when they apply themselves.  I laughed when I watched the recent Intelligence Squared debate about whether men are done. We live in a big world with many problems and there is plenty of room for both sexes to contribute. But guys need to drop the video games and get off the couch. It’s time for young men to show up and get back in the game or they really will be toast for the foreseeable future. It is really up to them.

What's Next?

Okay, everybody, calm down. It’s okay if women are now calling the shots, literally, and introducing men to chocolate whipped cream vodka. Guys are lapping it up. And it’s okay if men are waxing while women are pumping up at the gym, kicking ass and taking names. The situation only becomes unacceptable when men give up. The rise of women in our lifetime is a very good thing. Men can now have better, more capable partners to share their lives with or just hang with without the pressures to be superman. Let women be the superwomen some seek to become. They excel at multitasking and seem to enjoy the challenge.  Male or female, it doesn’t matter. When the cream rises to the top it benefits us all.

Hey guys, can you handle the truth?

5 Surefire Ways To Have A Successful First “Meeting” With An Online Connection

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Image courtesy of Courtney Carmody

After you’ve shared a phone call that elevated your new connection to the oral word, it’s time to meet her. This can be the start of something big, or not. You’ll probably know fairly quickly and the odds of it working out are well below fifty percent.  That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with either of you. It’s just that if life were that simple, the online ladies in waiting would all have their very own Prince Charming that looks like Clooney and the guys would have a Playboy playmate with a PHD who loves watching football and can cook southwestern food like Rick Bayless.  Here’s a basic game plan for making that first date count.

1- Adjust your expectations.  

You’ve never seen her in the flesh, so you have no idea if that first look will exhilarating or a letdown. Face it. If you don’t connect with her looks, it’s not going to work out for long. No judging. That’s just how we homo sapiens are wired. I suggest discounting your expectations from what you’ve seen in her photos by 15%. That gives you an opportunity to be delighted and sets your reality barometer at the proper level. Everyone chooses their very best profile photos and some pics are going to be dated, so get over it and hope for the best. She’ll be doing the same thing when she eyeballs you for the first time.

2- Let your vibe be your guide.

Dinner at Daniel? Be my guest, but I suggest allocating an hour for a glass of wine at a reasonably nice establishment or even the old standby, Starbucks, if you’re not quite sure what to make of her and she doesn’t drink alcohol. If she doesn’t drink and you feel a connection, take the high road and meet her at that nice wine bar and spring for a cranberry and club soda. If you follow my previous tips and have gotten this far, it’s a good bet that this could be a real connection for you. Just keep the first “date” simple.

3- Actively listen, be honest, but don’t reveal too much. 

Even if you both are digging what you see and have an easy, free-flowing conversation sprinkled with laughter, make sure you allow her to tell you what she wants and don’t pry for more. Then, when she asks you a few things, consider what she is really asking and give her an honest answer. If she doesn’t ask you anything, it’s probably a one-time meet up. That’s okay you don’t want to waste your collective time if she is not feeling it. Respect a woman’s prerogative.

Don’t be evasive if she asks your age or if you’ve been married. Fess up and get it over with. She wants to know and she’ll eventually find out.  And if she doesn’t like the answer, it’s curtains anyway. And regardless of how much fun you’re having hold back some personal info, like your being a Reiki Master, for another date. She’ll appreciate peeling the layers back to reveal the mysterious man that you are.

4- If it feels right, order some food or suggest someplace different for a casual bite.

That’s it. Keep it simple and keep it to an hour or so. If it’s meant to be, you’ll see her again. And if you think meeting for a drink or coffee is boring, be my guest and enjoy your scuba diving lessons or ice skating.

5- What if it’s not happening? 

The heart wants what the heart wants, but be gentlemen. If she is not as advertised or just very sweet, but not your type, she is still a person with feelings and a woman deserving of your respect. Don’t look at you watch or play with your phone. She might be a really cool person and someone that could become a friend. Yes, a friend. But leave that up to her. When the bill comes, take care of it you asked her outand then offer to hail a cab for her. And even if she’s not a keeper, remember to say good night with a smile.

Think you’re ready to take the situation offline?

Can You Change Your Outlook on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness in Ninety Seconds?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Image courtesy of Jason Tromm

I’m glad I caught your attention, and yes, it’s true. Ninety seconds is all it’s gonna take if you stay with this blog on a regular basis. You’re probably thinking¾do I really need to read another blog? I guess that’s like askingdo you need a vodka that tastes like whipped cream or another recipe using bacon or a way to make your pores look smaller. Maybe you don’t.  But, hopefully you’ll choose to read my regular posts here about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. Surely you have a fleeting interest in those topics. So it’s on me to make your ninety-second investment a game-changer. In this age of Facebook drama (look at Jason on his tricycle) Foursquare revelations (I’ve just checked in at McDonald’s on 34th Street) and the souls of the world crying out across Twitter (Be takin’ a showaaa now), I might be able to win you over.

I promise to be direct, to call a spade a spade and a heart broken after it’s been replaced by another’s after your guy’s endless visits to that dating web site where you met.  And I’ll call out the guys and gals and anyone who is not playing fair. Because life should be fun and there is too much negativity spewed from our leaders, the media, and our collective egos. Yep, this blog is gonna tackle all that and more in an increasingly “all about me” world.

So Who Am I?

Wonderful question. Please let me know when you find out, but in the interim, I live in NYC, I work in advertising and help convince consumers why they really DO need that whipped cream-flavored vodka, and I care about people and how they treat one another. And, in relationships in particular. We’ve all searched for that one true love and have been disappointed, but we rarely take a look at ourselves and ask what messages we’re sending out, what we are manifesting, or how we can do better.  Somehow, I’ll help you with that, even if it means holding up that mirror so you can see things a bit more clearly.

Am I An Expert?

Like all of us, I’m a work in progress, but I’ll do my best to remain open-minded and share perspectives and find answers that help you.  That’s my goal and I hope you find it worthy enough to invest those ninety seconds every few days so I can weigh in on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness as it relates to your personal experience.


Who Should Pay For A Date?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo courtesy of Tim Boyd

Things have changed. No doubt. And that’s for just about everything that takes place between the sexes or within the same sex. Every other movie or TV show that stars a woman these days seems to feature a buff chick toting a shotgun, dressed in a wife beater, about to take revenge out on the bad dudes who harmed her family. Up until a few years ago, this was a genre reserved for Ahhnold, Van Damme, and Chuck Norris. Now these action vehicles showcase wiry females with a martial arts skill and an attitude.

Concurrently, this month’s Playboy features an article about men, using iconic male stars like Dean Martin and Paul Newman to hawk a bunch of facial creams and hair products. It seems that having smooth, glowing skin, product-laced hair and squeezing into your skinny jeans has become a new way to demonstrate your “guyness”. And we can marry whoever we chooseHarry or Sally. It doesn’t matter and most of us don’t care.  But change creates interesting questions as we dance in the dating mosh pit. Like who picks up the tab on a date?

Here’s what I think. Generally, if you ask a woman out on the first date, even if it’s just for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, the guy should reach for the check. Even if the woman starts digging through her hobo bag, the guy should pay.

Here’s an exception. Maybe you two didn’t hit it off and the woman feels patronized and insists on paying her way to assuage any guilt, anger, or because she just wants to get away from you. Let her throw a few bucks down and say goodbye. We’re all even now.

Going forward a pattern usually occurs between potential partners and although it’s going to be different in every relationship, the bottom line is that you want things to feel equal so no one seethes inside or gets all passive aggressive. In a perfect world, and in a big city where women are increasingly taking the wheel in business, politics, and relationships, paying for a date would be split down the middle every time. But we know that this isn’t a perfect world, except in its imperfections, so we’ve got to be flexible and open-minded about almost everything.

Directionally, whoever has the idea and asks the other person out should be willing to pony for the bill. But that can get old quickly. And what do you do if you’re an investment banker ranking in the cash and she’s a teacher. Are you really going to make her split every tab down the middle? And vice versa, what if your lady pulls in major coin as a corporate litigator and you’re “consulting”?  It’s something to keep in mind. And there are some women who never, ever crack their wallets open, and that doesn’t feel right.

What I have done to make life easy is to take charge and arrange the first few dates, at least until we’ve “gotten to know one another better”, and either paid the bill or made the offer. After you’ve taken care of the first major date, if she wants to split the tab the next time, cool.  I suggest having no pretentions and always being prepared to pick up the bill if necessary. Women get it, and if they are not choosing the fifty-fifty route they usually have some things in mind that will make up for it, like cooking a nice dinner at her place or bringing along your favorite Pinot Noir when you cook for her. Women pay attention and the vast majority are not looking to exploit you. So if every check is not split exactly down the middle, chill.

In many ways dating is a microcosm for how we interact and treat people, and all I’m suggesting is to always be a gentlemen, do  what  you know in your heart is the right thing, and always give a lady the benefit of a doubt.

Does who pays the tab really matter?


Want a Kick Ass Online Dating Profile? Start with Some Great Photos

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Image courtesy of Chris Huggins

Here are a few more pointers for guys and ladies for getting yourself set up for online success. It’s all about creating a visually engaging online showcase that demonstrates that you are a wonderful catch. 

1-Show only between three and five photos of yourself to give a full picture of the brand that is you. 

Too much of a good thing is not recommended. Maintain a little mystery. If things work out you can take your own photos.

On the flip side, keep in mind that even if you write like Nicolas Sparks, no photo means no dates. Pretty much a guarantee especially if you are a woman. Guys are visual and unfortunately some men don’t bother to give the words in your profile more than a glance anyway.

2-An appealing headshot is the starting point. 

Don’t have one? Forget the professional route. Have a bud help out—friends enjoy helping out and doing stuff like taking photos of you. Pick one that you like best, and remember to smile.  Don’t have any friends? I’ll leave that for another column.

3-Include a photo from a wedding or an event. 

Nothing too stiff though. It shows you have a life and adds social context. Since you’ll probably be dressed up for these, it adds another dimension to the multi-faceted person that is you.  

4-Always include an action shot someplace outdoors (beach, mountains, biking, or in front of the Pyramids, etc.)

This shows you get out and are comfortable with your body. This gives your potential connections a chance to get a look at your form. If you’re shy about this, do the best you can. Eventually the other person is going to see you and they will check you out.

5-Throw in a wild card. 

Have fun with this one. You and your crew at the Jets game, or in the midst of that Pulp Fiction party, or maybe just you and your dog.  If you are a hottie, feel free to give ‘em some eye candy, with class, of course. No lingerie, ladies, and fellas─no flexing. This isn’t the WWE. Or just choose your very best photo, regardless of the situation.  A photo that shows the real you and makes you feel good about yourself and what you projecting. Okay, you’re done.

6- Pick the one that suits you best for your primary photo, make sure they can see your eyes, and stick with it for while. 

Changing your profile pic every three days sounds the insecurity alarm.

That’s it. If you are unsure about your choices, have a friend take a look and give you feedback. Then post them for a month and see how it goes. You are the brand and you want your connections to like what they see and want to learn more about you. Smile!

Can you recall the profile pics that attracted you to someone you met online?

The Fastest Way to Move Your Online Dating Offline

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photo courtesy of Adrian Nier

After you’ve created and polished your online dating profile to the point where you’d even date yourself, distinguished it with pics worthy of a mash up of In Touch and Vanity Fair, and managed to score a written response from a woman who looks like Angela Jolie, thinks like Oprah, and who your Mom would love to hang out with (not that hanging with Angelina or Oprah is bad), you are ready to take the connection to the next level. Here are a few easy steps to make things happen quickly.

1- Do not respond instantaneously, but do so within 24 hours. 

Don’t play games, don’t be coy by waiting a week, but don’t make her think that she’s the only fish in the sea just yet. Show her proper respect and do the same for yourself. Women are like exotic wild animals. They smell fear and will instinctively use it to get take the advantage. This is not a criticism. This is about women being turned off by desperation. They prefer a man who wants them, but can live without them if necessary.  Maybe I’m being overdramatic to make a point, but if you think about it, it’s true. So clap your hands and feel free to strut like Jagger around your bedroom when you receive her response, but wait just a wee bit before sending her the all-important note #2.

2- Add new, unrecorded information to your next e-mail and include your digits.  

The objective of this correspondence is to attach a last name to your first (and always use your real first name), proudly, so she can Google the hell out of you, which she will and offer her a way of connecting with you by phone. This shows respect and empowers her by having the option of protecting her identity and calling you with her number blocked, or offering you her number so you can make the first move. Then follow her lead as to how she responds when you include your number and an offer to call her if she prefers. It really doesn’t matter who makes that call, as long as you get an opportunity to take the notch up the energy exchange by hearing each other’s voice for the first time. It can be a deal maker or breaker. 

3- Keep your note short and respond to any questions she might have included in her note.  

It might be about your stated profession or where your kids from your previous marriage are living. And, throw in something relevant that you did not mention in your first note─like your family also raising bison when you were a kid growing up in Montana. 

4- Actively listen and synch with her energy during that first phone call. 

It’s amazing what is revealed when you put a voice to someone’s photo. This can be a special moment or the end. If she looks like Katherine Heigl and sounds like Joe Pesci, you may not feel quite the same after a few minutes on the horn. It happens, so don’t take it personally, and just let you heart guide you. Inevitably, the heart wants what it wants. Maybe you like hearing Pesci‘s voice.  It’s your call, no pun intended.

5- Ask for the order. 

First phone calls can be expedient or lengthy. It doesn’t matter if it’s ten minutes or two hours, you’ll know what feels right and so will she. If there’s a connection, make sure that you tell her that you’d like to meet her and then prepared with a suggestion for meeting before winding up the call. This is the moment of truth and if you follow the previous steps and share a phone vibe, you’ve just taken things from online to offline. Congrats!

Are you ready to meet her?

Online Dating- Gift or Curse?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Image courtesy of Jeff McNeill

Technology is designed to make life simpler. At least, that’s the idea. With emails, texts and instant messages, we are tethered 24/7 with no escape.  GPS, iTunes, DVR, and millions of websites on every subject from inch worm migration to crocodile mating habits have placed the world at our fingertips. So why do we express a big sigh of relief whenever we shut off our PDA’s?

The same can be said of online dating, and I think the answer is how you view and interface with the technology to make it work for you. If you are a woman, online dating is empowering. Instead of investing your time sitting with your girlfriends in singles bars, eighties-style hoping that the cute guy who bought you those cosmos is not a closet axe murderer, you can send him a wink online and review his dating credentials. Too many typos and fragmented sentences- delete. Too many photos of him without his shirt-delete.  Too many references to his devotion to televised sports or speed metal music, beers and chicken wings with the boys, or mentions of the ex-wife- delete. Then, it’s on to the next guy. It’s as if the man is sending you his resume. And you know ladies, it’s a test.  If his written responses are courteous and humorous, and of course focused on you, there’s that phone call to make sure he doesn’t sound like Joe Pesci’s character in “My Cousin Vinny”.  After that, a coffee date, drinks, or possibly dinner.  And if it works out, you’ve got yourself a real live man. And if his breath stinks and he’s ten years older and twenty-five pounds heavier than described in person, you get that call from your girlfriend. “Oops, I have to get up early tomorrow. It was nice meeting you.”

Guys have it made also. Sit at home in your tighty-whities and scroll through the girls who you would not have the cojones to approach in person and lay your best material on them. If you PAY ATTENTION and figure out how to navigate the paradigm laid out in the preceding paragraph, you’ll get as many shots at the title as your wallet can handle. Then it’s up to you to come through in person. If you are well-dressed, polite, articulate, and have a job or something that sounds like one, you’re on your way.

So how is this not a gift? A-ha! That’s because it’s so easy and there is always another fresh face on those dating websites. In fact, it’s actually too easy to serial-date or delete your latest partner whenever the smallest tremor hits your heart.  Sounds cold.  It is. But that’s because our dating lives can be so active that it’s easy to get pulled out by the tide and get lost in a sea of potential mates swimming in the online waters.  

So, always keep a life preserver around your heart, play safely, and have fun out there. And every so often remember to ask yourself: do I want to be dating online or do I want a relationship? 

Are You Really Paying Attention to Your Relationship?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Image courtesy of Nina Matthews

This one is for the guys, not all guys because guys are changing and many of them get it. But a lot of us still don’t, so ladies, feel free to forward this or slip a copy under the sports section of his morning paper.  It could pay off.  In a recent column I waxed on about the merits of guys paying attention as a secret to improving their relationship skills. You would think that something as simple as this wouldn’t come as a surprise. But guys can get distracted easily, usually by themselves, and sometimes need a nudge to focus more on the ‘us’ than the ‘I’. 

So, how did ‘paying attention’ enter my consciousness and change the way I was approaching my relationships?  Here’s what happened.  After a few dates with a woman I was interested in, I inquired about what qualities I needed to be a good boyfriend. This is something I had never done before, but I probably should have, because she immediately replied, “Just pay attention.” I narrowed my eyes like an ape does when he scratches his head with his oversized index finger. “That’s it?” I asked.  She smiled at me like I was a school boy and said, “Yes.” That was when the light went on, or in advertising terms, when I had my V-8 moment.

If you keep this precious nugget buried in your subconscious, I promise that you cannot go wrong. Women are interested in the effort almost as much as the outcome, so if you consistently demonstrate that you value her, you will invariably make good decisions and she will notice, big time. Why? Because women always pay attention. They have one goal- to make your time together as fulfilling as possible. That’s it, amigo. She doesn’t receive any pleasure from pointing out your shortcomings, and she doesn’t want to change you. Well, maybe a little. She just wants the best and who can blame her. So, if she’s with you, she sees your possibilities. Is that so bad?

So, gentlemen, how do you we pay attention? I think you know, but here are a few examples: ask her about her day and then listen, and whatever you do, don’t try and solve her problems. She doesn’t need you for that. Try and point out something new about her on a regular basis. And fellas, not, ’you look hot in that those shorts’. Think more of how she does things in her own special way or how thoughtful she was for picking up your dry cleaning and that six-pack because she knows you dig that seasonal brew (hey, she sounds like a keeper).  Or better yet, do that for her. You know the drill. Just do your best to pay a little more attention to her each day, and I promise you that it will pay back higher dividends than most of those stocks you’ve invested in.

What do you think? Are you paying attention?

What Are the Two Words Men Need to Know to Succeed With Women?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Image courtesy of Marco Bellucci

I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity with that infomercial-style headline. Hey, I work in advertising, so delivering a compelling promise is half the challenge in hooking a consumer. And we’re all consumers, thirsty for answers that make our lives easier in an increasingly complicated world. And, I’ve got a big one for the fellas. So ladies, even if he prefers box scores, market summaries, and porn over reading a blog, you might pass this column along and remind him of what we already know all too well.

The key to success with women is….drum roll please…..paying attention. Those two words will do wonders for any guy. Guaranteed or your money back. Men have strength of focus, but it’s usually about them and all of the things they are dealing with. It’s understandable, to a point. Men are under siege these days, even if much of it is their own doing. You see, they haven’t been paying attention to how society has been evolving around them, and more importantly, how women have stepped up.

Forgive me if I appear to be pandering to the ladies, but we must admit that for the most part, women invest more of themselves in a relationship than men. I don’t know if it’s in their love DNA or where it comes from, but women do pay attention. From straightening their guy’s tie, to reminding him to send a birthday card to his Mom, women put in that extra effort at what we consider the little things. But little things add up to big things that make or break relationships. Women differentiate men by how much they pay attention. Think about some guys that women find sexy. The dudes that men roll their eyes at when they hear their names─and I’m not naming names. But consider the actors who always show up in chick flicks, like Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Oops. Their characters have one thing in common. They pay attention, especially to their relationships.

Paying attention used to be called being sensitive, but that’s sounds like a wuss term. Paying attention is more active, but since guys rarely pay attention; I need to emphasize key points to achieve results. I’m doing this for us so I’m sure you understand.

Is your guy paying attention?

What Happened to Men?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Image courtesy of Horia Varlan

That’s a question that’s been tossed about quite a bit these changing days.  Over the past fifty years our lives have changed dramatically.  Science and technology relentlessly march onward and women have ascended and are slowly, but unwaveringly getting more of their deserved due.  And men? In many ways, they’ve become the whipping boys for all of the world’s ills. And who can defend them for centuries of war, misogyny, and ego-driven careless behavior? That’s a challenged, but they’re just wired differently in a lot of ways and conditioned by vastly different messages about how to behave and what is cool and manly.

While channel-surfing recently, I noticed that almost without fail, the movies targeting male audiences were seeped in mindless violence and gratuitous sex.  Most of the movies aimed at women were about relationships and participating in communal activities. The messaging couldn’t have been further apart.  And we wonder why there is so much strife and misunderstanding between the sexes. It should come as no surprise. The communications gap between the sexes grows whenever stereotypes are reinforced.  But as women are provided with more opportunities for full expression and equality, they’ve encroached on what had typically been male-dominated territory. Today, women are more educated than men, more represented in the work force, and are now portrayed as action stars, so even that last bastion of perceived macho maleness that men have held for so many years is also under siege.

What's A Man To Do?

Today’s men need to relax and see the opportunity. Most of what women do that men object to is rooted in a goal of improving the relationship. Whether it’s coaxing men to pay attention and or not try and solve a woman’s problems for her, it all has the same goal of mutual satisfaction and sharing.  But in these days of retargeting media and basically pushing images and products in front of us only based on past behavior and preferences, it’s harder than ever for men to evolve.  If they like hot rods and wrestling, they are going to be pummeled with advertising for beer, tires, and chicken wings.  It’s hard to change your mind when the media is attacking your subconscious with every move you make. Guys will have to work to transcend the stereotypes they’ve created for themselves.  When they do, they’ll see that things have never been better. Women want to share, not necessarily take over.  They pursue men (that’s a nice change), earn their way, and do not expect a man to create a life or career for them. They are capable, more fit and beautiful than ever, smarter and increasingly capable, and sexually liberated.  

How Bad Is That, Fellas?

I’ll be delving deeper into this topic in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned, and please don’t think this is only about men needing to reconsider their perspective…

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