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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

How to Live, Work, and Not be Exhausted

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 22, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Slowing Down

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 11, 2017


Let’s face it. Modern life moves too damn quickly.

We work too hard and sleep too little. We get to bed too late and get up too early.  As soon as we enter the office, we’re slammed with deadlines and requests. Hey world, we need more time to handle all the shit you throw our way. When life moves too quickly and we don’t pump the brakes now and then, we head towards a breakdown. Heck, even a Guy’s Guy gets uptight when there’s too much to do and not enough time deal with everything on his plate. To keep our skills sharp, every so often we need a respite and some chill. That’s why I’m serving up The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Slowing Down, with ways to find refuge inside our hyper-paced world. Life is a gift. So let’s make it our business to get the job done and have enough time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Drum roll please…

1. Unplug – Between our phones, iPads, and laptops, we’re plugged in 24/7. Studies show that 80% of millennials sleep with their phones next to their bed. This is an unhealthy way to soak up poisoning radiation all night and prevent a good night’s sleep. While it’s true that we need to stay plugged in most of the time, it’s good to take a break every so often. I live in NYC, and unlike many folks I see, I don’t constantly wear ear buds while I’m on the go. I like to read on my phone, but the city itself provides more than enough stimulation. And frankly, isn’t one of the reasons we live in New York to take in the show that is the city itself? If I need to mentally check out while I’m in transit I read, repeat affirmations and mantras, or send blessings to my fellow travelers. Studies show that one person’s consciousness impacts a vast number of people. You really can make a difference. So, turn off that mind-scrambling video game, calm down, and stay present.

2. Get more sleep – I know it’s easier said than done, but finding even an extra hour for sleep can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit. Sleep helps your body rejuvenate and also helps you lose weight. A quiet mind is also more apt to stoke creativity and solve problems. So try hitting the sack an hour earlier, without watching TV or bringing your phone into your bedroom for a few weeks. I’ll bet you’ll feel better in the morning.

3. Walk, take the stairs, run – If I’m within ten blocks of my destination and I have the time, I always walk. I love the city and walking provides great opportunities for people watching, clearing my head when I’m stressed out, and getting my metabolism flowing. I also recommend finding time for quick a walk after lunch. It helps digestion and can help put things into perspective when you’re having a tough day.  I’m a runner and to me there is no better mental getaway than a jaunt around the outer loop of Central Park or a boardwalk. I’ve managed to slow my mind down to the point that I break down complex issues and piece things back together including solving complex plot points for an entire novel.

4. Meditate – Regardless of how busy our lives get, it’s important to find a little time each day to get calm and centered. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, make it a habit to sit quietly and go inside. Just a few minutes will enhance your mental energy, empathy, and focus. I’ve been doing this for so long that I shut down even on a crowded subway. Meditating makes the city more tolerable and helps me think clearly and creatively.

5. Make time to eat – Like most Guy’s Guys, I love chowing down. But I also like to taste, chew, and savor my food. I know fast food is meant to be eaten fast. That’s why I don’t eat fast food. It’s made fast, it doesn’t satisfy or nurture my body, and there is really nothing there to savor. Therefore, I eschew fast food at lunch in favor of salads, green shakes, a wrap or a veggie burger. No matter how busy I am I do my best to push away from the computer and find a quiet respite for lunch so I can clear my thoughts and enjoy my food. Afterwards I usually take a few minutes to walk around before returning to my work. If you make it your business to slow down the pace of your day, you can make it work.

6. Don’t rush love – In today’s tech-driven dating world, singles are in a rush to see how many people they can date in a month, a week, or even a night. As a result, they often lose our perspective about why they are dating in the first place. I’ve found that investing some time in getting to know the person you’re dating before rushing into a relationship or into bed makes sense. Forget about obsessing over how quickly you can get a woman into the sack or even the three-date rule. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. All you need to do is pay attention, amigo. In her own way, she will let you know. And if you play your cards right, it might even be on the first date. This isn’t the Olympics. Just have fun and get to know her, take your time, and be present.

I could keep going and going, but my point is clear—modern life moves too fast and we need to slow down. And if you can slow down enough you’ll know how important it is to slow down. Yeah, I said that. See you next week.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Trailanga, a yogi who reportedly lived to the ripe old age of 280 by slowing his metabolism down through slowing down his breathing and other yoga practices. 

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 Working at Home

Robert Manni - Friday, April 08, 2016


If you don’t have to get up at 7am to schlep to an office in the bitter cold, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of lounging around your flat all day in your pajamas.

But that’s not how championships are won or how you pay the rent. When you’re working from home, especially after spending years toiling in a traditional corporate environment, things can get dicey quickly. There is an additional skill set you’ll need to deploy to make a go of it. It’s called discipline and time management. And, you’ll need to do so without the resources you had while working in a large team at an office.

Let’s face it, even in the most stringent corporate office environments, you can take solace knowing you can become invisible every so often without forgoing your paycheck. That changes when you're working freelance from your home office.  When you're on your own, time really is money in or out of your pocket, so you need to be sharp. Yes, many jobs are becoming virtual due to our being tethered to technology, but when you’re working virtually at a real company you still show your face every so often, and with that comes the usual office politics and gamesmanship. Plus, you still collect a paycheck.

When you are flying solo, maybe in a creative endeavor like writing, art, or music, you need to master the fine points for being your own boss and motivator pronto, and it ain’t always easy. That calls for some insights from your Guy’s Guy. After all, he’s been slugging it out from home for a few years now and he knows a thing or two about managing time and making the most of a day while working from the home HQ. With that I offer you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Working From Home. Hopefully, you’ll pick up a few nuggets that will help you on your way to more productive days and the fame and fortune that awaits you from your solo pursuit of success.

Drum roll please…

1. Set routines – Okay, this may sound boring, but managing your time while working from home is mission critical to success when going it alone. It’s far to easy to sleep late, get distracted by Facebook, memes, and all the media that’s hurled our way every second of the day. I’ve found it extremely helpful to set my iPhone and mental alarm clock every morning. I'm usually awake before the alarm goes off, so I use the time to for a short meditation based on being thankful for my health, family, abundance, and joy. I do this every day and it gets me off on the right foot. I get up and swish coconut oil around my mouth for twenty minutes before drinking a big old glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in. While swishing I feed my cat and help my toddler get ready for school. By 8:30 I’m usually on my own and ready to work hard for the next six hours. On most days, I crank out 70 push-ups, work out for an hour, or go for a run. The physical activity ignites my mind, body, and spirit for the rest of the day. The discipline of a routine is good for the mind and necessary when you have a dream, time on your hands, and working from home on your own. Once I sit down to work, I listen to digital tracks created to help my focus, creativity, and IQ enrichment. In fact, I’m listening to one right now. Then I work, work, work until mid-afternoon. I might take a short break for lunch. I use that time to check my email, etc. between mouthfuls of nutritious food.

Have I been tempted to loaf around in my shorts, watch sports, porn, movies, or scour Twitter, Facebook and the like? Sure, but that's a quick path to a downward spiral. Maybe you’re more adept than me at juggling your time and getting things done. That’s good. For most, a routine can be our friend when making the transition to working from home. Without the usual office distractions and office meeting nonsense, you can get a lot done in six or seven hours.

2. Get out of the house - Although getting the written work done is extremely important, it’s also critical to get outside and maintain your relationships and connection to society. During the long winters in the northeast, I’ve found it easy to stay inside for days at a time. Not good. Sure, I get a lot done, but I find myself becoming insulated at my workstation in my man cave. When I do this, I find that whatever I’m working on or what is on my mind becomes all-consuming. I also have a tendency to take things too seriously so I get too intense and eager. That’s why I go for a run, talk a walk, or hop on the subway and meet up with my friends or former colleagues for lunch or a beverage. Frankly, it reminds me about my professional cred and reputation, and that people I respect are pulling for me to break through. And, that’s exactly what is happening.

3. Don’t neglect yourself – As mentioned, part of my routines focus on nourishing my mind, body, and spirit to enhance my productivity and chances for success. So, I eat organic food, hydrate throughout the day, work out regularly, and even forgo alcohol and recreational drugs when I'm inspired to do so. Over time, I find myself less in need of booze, pot and whatever else used to turn me on. This may sound like a boring lifestyle, but it’s anything but tedious. My mind is fresh with new ideas and I have the psychic energy to grind out projects in one sitting. It’s all good and I know I can enjoy a glass of wine or tequila if that’s what I want after my work is done.

4. Shun media – Although I come from the media business and have made a good living from it, I also know how easy it is to fall prey to staring at the television, social media, or simply binge-watching sports, movies or cable series like Billions or Ray Donovan. It’s easy to get sucked in, but there is a way around being pulled into it. The key is not turning on the television until all of your work has been completed for the day. At first it’s challenging, but it soon becomes a non-issue when you realize how much you can actually accomplish during the day if you're not goofing off.

Did I enjoy being part of a functioning team, having the tangible accomplishments you get when working in an office, and bonding with lots of other people? Yes, but I also have a dream, and sometimes dreams require you going it alone.

So, I hope you’ve gleaned some insights that will give you a good start to making the most of your time if you decide to work from home. If you find that flying solo is not your cup of tea, I hope you find your way back to the rat race. But remember, they call it that for a reason.

This weeks’ GUY’S GUY of the Week are all the people who took a chance and went for it, whether they worked from their studio apartment, mother’s basement, or even out of their car. Success to you, amigos.

Work and Romance-The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Robert Manni - Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Is it wise to have a relationship with a colleague at the office? 

We’ve all been there. You’re working long hours, and as the pages fall off the calendar and the seasons change you look outside the window nearest your workstation and see the smiling faces outside and wonder am I the only one working so damn hard in this city? You look around you and there she is, the pretty young woman with the awesome legs and the great smile.  You ask yourself if the attraction is because you are both working your butts off or are you genuinely feeling it? Before you know it, you’re ordering in since you’re both working late. Then you have a few laughs over the fortune cookie from the crummy Chinese place down the street. The next week you leave work at the same time and walk to the E train together. A month later she wakes up next to you with that same smile that hooked you in the first place. Now what? These office romances usually go one of three ways. 

The Good 

You’re cool. She’s cool. You are both adults and work approximately at the same level in different departments. So it happens. You ate, you drank, you laughed, you rumpled her sheets and she’s totally cool about it. Maybe she has a boyfriend who works in Boston. Or she’s playing the field and she sees you as a great guy who she enjoys spending time with. You are not a stalker nutcase and you respect her space especially after you’ve done the deed. Or maybe she just wanted some variety or to take the edge off and you were there.  And then again, maybe you two were meant to be. It happens. I’ve had a few office flings in my time and one lady ended up living with me and it worked out just fine. We both found new jobs organically, but at first she wanted to let people know that we were an item. And I did not. My question to her was, “Can you tell me one good thing that will come out of sharing this with a gossip crazed ad agency?” That kept the lid on our relationship until I found another job. At that point, it did not matter. We kept things cool and it worked out. Okay, there were a few awkward moments when someone made a lecherous comment about her in my presence, but no big deal. 

The Bad 

If the word is out about you two and you are having a disagreement it sucks. Same thing if another person in the office or someone who works with your company has his or her sights set on one of you. Things can get sticky, fast. You don’t want your co-workers knowing about your personal business. They talk, maybe out of boredom, but they will talk. And when they do your colleagues will look at you differently and maybe guard their own words when either of you is around, especially if you impact their job. It can be awkward. And if there is a rift and someone at the workplace is the reason, business quickly becomes personal. Not optimal, amigo. And you don’t want to have a tryst in the physical office space even if your boss is an a-hole and you want to have sex on his couch, just so you have something to laugh about every time you see his smug puss. So tread carefully when the word gets out about your relationship. It can be used against both of you, and if you are not getting along it can get tricky. 

The Ugly 

This usually happens when one of you is the boss and the other a subordinate. Let’s say the boss decides that he or she has had enough fun. The subordinate gets dumped and all hell breaks loose. High stakes and tension become a toxic cloud in the office. Uncomfortable looks, emotional blackmail and even accusations of sexual harassment are rampant. You know it happens, even if it is not true. People try to keep their jobs by playing this card and it can work if the circumstances are set up the right, or should I say, the wrong way. This can be a messy situation and it impacts people’s careers. You want to keep it light and avoid this at all costs. 

What To Do

As with all of your encounters with the opposite sex, do your very best not to let your sexual organs lead the way, especially at the office. Common sense, paying attention, and being a gentleman all go a long way when engaging the ladies. If you are a guy, look before you leap because you may be walking a tightrope without a net. If you’re a woman, remember that work is for working. Of course because we spend so many hours in an office many couples get their start at work, but if it happens be a professional and don’t let emotions dictate your actions. Our primary reason for being in the office is for the job, even if it’s not much fun. That’s what we get paid for so keep it in mind when that young hottie sashays her stuff past your desk every morning. I know, it’s easier said than done. Do your best and it will work out just fine. 

Guy’s Guy of The Week: 
Bill Clinton - for illustrating for our nation the dangers of dipping one's pen in the company ink. 

Do you have a handle on office romances?


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