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Monday, February 20, 2012

Why are the hot ones always crazy?

It usually starts sometime in the mid afternoon. She's in the kitchen keeping herself busy. She never really stops actually; doing dishes, making cookies, milling around. The music is playing on the stereo. Sometimes it's a familiar song, sometime it's not. But it doesn't really matter. She's dancing anyways. Well, not dancing in the pirouette, scissor-kicking across the floor type of way, but she still moves.

Suck it Crayola!
It's generally the same rhythm; left, right, left-left. Right, left, right, right go her hips in time to the music. When she's really into it, the mixing spoon sometimes becomes her microphone. She sings regardless of whether or not she knows the lyrics. She sings regardless of whether it's totally out of her range or not. She sings because it's who she is. Unabashedly unashamed. She is my wife and I love her for all of her subtle intricacies and full out bat-shit crazy moments.

I will never look at crayons the same way again thanks to her. Crayons; those simple little colourful sticks that kids use to scribble pictures. The ones that restaurants give out to shut your kids up for the 30 minutes of time it takes for your food to come and How-the-hell-can-kids-be-expected-to-colour-a-decent-picture-when-you-only-give-them-3-colours-crayons? Seriously. I will never look at crayons the same way again thanks to her.

Thanks to her flights of fancy and her 'crafty-eye' she decided that these crayons; the ones that are already moulded, formed and wrapped in a paper casing, should be unwrapped, broken into bits, melted down and remoulded in the shape of hearts. 50+ of them. Why? Why because it's Valentine's Day of course. Why else? To hell with you Walmart and your dime a dozen made in China cardboard Valentine's Day cards. She is Uber-Mom....hear her ROAR! Seriously....she will occasionally roar if it helps to emphasize her point.

She often talks to herself. I don't know if this is because she thinks that I don't listen to her or if it's because she legitimately hears voices. At least she laughs at her own jokes....or the ones the voices in her head tell her. Put it this way....she's never the only one in the room. On that note, she has conversations with our animals. Full out, "Can I offer you some tea and cookies while we chat" kind of conversations. Maybe the animals talk back. I'm not 100% sure but rest assured....the conversation never gets stale.

That's fear in my eyes as she points the musket at my head. Notice the smile.
I'm partially convinced that she is part cyborg. Not only because she had one child ripped out of her stomach and the other pushed out naturally without any drugs but because she often comes close to lopping off her fingers when cooking and she seems able to just shrug off knife wounds while arterial spray hits the roof. I'm not sure if she can take small arms fire. I'm not going to try and find out. She hasn't asked me where she can find John Connor so I guess I'm safe.....for now.

I will never meet another woman that can turn my head and then turn my stomach seconds apart from one another. On our wedding day I toasted her and exclaimed that I have never met a woman that can out drink, out burp and out fart me. She has still not let me down in any of these 3 categories. And yet I find myself staring at her during quiet moments of the day and marveling at how graciously and beautifully she is aging.

She doesn't often wear make-up, nor go out of her way to tease and tussle her hair and yet I'm drawn to her natural simplicity. Why are the hot ones always crazy? I know she's not a supermodel by society's standard and I wouldn't want her to be. I'm totally cool with girl-next-door sweetness. I'm taken by the freckles on her shoulders and her strawberry blond hair. You can't manufacture that stuff. It's just pure.

This is a woman that has driven to and from California to be with me in my quest for work. She has trusted me to travel from continent to continent even when the risks seemed high and the rewards were low. She puts up with my family-----that's says a lot for those who know me. She puts up with me. she a dancer? An artistic genius? An animal psychic? Perhaps a Terminator or a Super-model? I say put a check mark in "All of the above". She is my wife and I love her for all of her subtle intricacies and full out bat-shit crazy moments.

Love this shot.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”-Mike Tyson

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”-Mike Tyson. I think Iron Mike clearly nailed it when he said those eleven words. They speak volumes in life as they do in business. Even the best strategists have to be prepared for the unexpected. When tasked with a project or challenge, you spend time prepping, researching and scouring facts and figures.  You analyze, speculate and coordinate your plan of attack; your masterpiece---your Magnum Opus. You step into that ring to show off your skills……

Then that left-hook comes out of nowhere and lands squarely on your jaw; leaving you punch-drunk and reeling.  ‘Where did it come from?  Who threw it?’  You stagger around the ring boardroom looking to regain your footing.  You start swinging wildly at your foe while frantically looking doe-eyed back to your team in the corner hoping desperately that someone will throw in the towel and call the fight.  Then you’re hit in the solar plexus with a flurry of jabs.

The wind rushes out of your body and stars start forming in the corner of your vision.  The room is quickly growing dim and your knees take on the consistency of cooked noodles.  You list dangerously to one side; hitting the ropes.  Then the canvass rushes up to slap your cheek as the ref gives you the 10 count.  That’s it.  You’re done.

Your Manager stands over you shaking their head.  “Next time you bring me a report on A,B,C you better bring you’re ‘A-Game’.”

Once the crowd has cleared, the blood has been washed from your face and the tape removed from your hands you start to really question what happened?   ‘How did I not see that coming? I’ve fought in this very same ring a countless number of times and I’ve always won.  How did my boss know about that gap in my report?  How did they know that I didn’t have the most up to date numbers from Marketing?’

In business, much like in boxing, practice and preparation will only take you so far.  You will learn to duck and weave, hook and jab with scary precision but once you step into that ring, anything could happen.  Your preparation only gets you so far before instinct and timing become your guides.

So how do you prepare for future fights so you don’t end up getting ‘rope-a-doped’?

1.      Get in the ring and start learning. If you’re not willing to look back over older presentations you’ve done or notes you taken to see where improvements could’ve/should’ve been made, then you might as well hang up your gloves.  You’ll get knocked around every time you get back in the ring and your opponent won’t need to make much of an effort to get you back on the ropes.  Make it a habit to review previous comments and edits to ensure you’re not simply rehashing old content or mistakes. Learn from your mistakes.

2.      Change up your sparring partners. Sometimes you need to break from routine in order to see what you’re capable of.  When you’re ready to get back into the ring pick a more difficult partner to spar with.  Take a few shots to your ego to see what your limit is.  Run your work past tougher critics within your organization.  Ask them to be ruthless and scrutinize every phrase, word and syllable.  In doing so, you’ll widen your view of what might happen when in the midst of a real bout.  You’ll quickly identify which punches will be thrown to simply ‘test your mettle’ versus those punches that are meant to knock you flat on your backside.  Watch and learn.

3.      Expect to get hit. If you go into that ring thinking that you’re untouchable, the shock of getting nailed in the face may be much more than you were initially prepared for.  Be ready to take a few shots.  Use this as a learning technique to gauge the strength and strategy of your opponent.  Use objection handling techniques such as rebuttals and redirection to keep your opponent on the defensive.  Use well mapped out facts and data points as your left hook and right cross to keep them on the ropes.

4.      Use your head as much as your fists. Learn how your opponent fights. Talk to colleagues or better yet to the fighter themselves and ask them what they expect to get out of your match. While it might seem odd to bring the fight to your opponent outside of the ring, good strategists will take every opportunity they can to learn from the best. When you get to fight night, watch your opponent.  Watch their body language as it’s one of the best indicators as to when they’re going to throw a punch. Listen to their tone, their phrasing and their intonation.  Subtle changes in the dialogue can be a warning sign. Remember their approach and their demeanor.  Chances are they won’t change their approach drastically during the fight. If you can anticipate their ‘swing’ then you can duck, dodge and deck ‘em with information before they even know what hit them.

For those of us in the business world I’m certain you’ve nursed more than a few black eyes and split lips in your time.  But chances are you were back in the gym the next day prepping for the next match. We take our lumps from time to time with a wry smile and the knowledge that these hits will eventually make us better fighters.  If not…..we can always take up Golf.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Veni, Vidi, Vici. Or more aptly: Bang-o-rang

I sat staring at myself in the bathroom mirror today.  More specifically, I was looking at all the grey hairs that have been springing up all over my head with as much gusto as you'd find emanating out of a High School Cheerleader.  "Yep....they're multiplying." I thought.

Soon enough, my George Clooney-esque salt and pepper look would make way for a full Ted Danson-like coif.  Don't get me wrong...the look works for him.  He is a powerful and attractive man and I have much respect for his follicles.

You see, I was beginning to feel my age.  At that particular moment, my mind chose that opportunity to wander away from work, responsibility and reality.  At that particular moment; standing amongst the soft whooshing noises echoing from the Urinals; I drifted.  My thoughts turned towards that gnawing question that never really goes answered:  Have I done enough?
At the end of the day, when I'm ready to shuffle off this mortal coil, have I done enough?

 I know...I know. You're saying 'Buddy, you're in the can. Not the best spot to have a crisis moment.' But I wholeheartedly disagree. The bathroom offers solace.

As my eyes wandered over the outline of my face, I took notice of the wrinkles that had slowly begun forming around the corners of my mouth, my eyes, my forehead. I saw my skin; sickly sallow (could've been the halogen lights above me) and I sighed.

'You're getting old.' my reflection said.

'So are you.' I snidely retorted.

'So what do you have to show for it old man?'

'I brought my bang-o-rang. Every chance I got.'

Now, for those of you that had a childhood and an imagination, the term Bang-o-Rang might hold some meaning for you. It does for me. Essentially, it's what the Lost Boys screamed out when they had amazing adventures with Peter Pan. Whether it be fighting the evil Captain Hook, or rescuing Tiger Lily from the Braves....Bang-o-Rang. Childish....but I love it. Bang-o-rang. Say it. Respect it.

As the seconds ticked by and my reflection decided to hang around until I provided him with sufficient explanation to validate my ridiculous claim, I started my response with an apology.

"I'm sorry I'm fat. Sorry I've always been and always will be a fat guy. Even if I lose the gut, I will still be jumbo size; the kind of guy that needs 'circus-tent' large when he shops for shirts. I'm sorry that my idea of working on getting a six pack involves me getting in my car and driving to the beer store rather than doing sit ups and crunches.

My weight has prevented you/me/us from doing many of the adventurous things that western society tells us we must do like climb mountains, run a marathon and go cliff diving. Magazines, TV, the Internet all push us to believe that unless we are active and dashing and rugged 24 hours a day, then we have failed....miserably. But I refuse to believe that I must accomplish these things to be happy. To do what I love. To be Bang-o-rang.

You see, these people they want you to be aren't real. The man standing in front of the mirror is. With all his faults and flaws and inconsistencies....he is R-E-A-L. He takes the last cold drink out of the fridge and doesn't replace it. He clogs the toilet from time to time. He makes his wife and kids sad when he loses his temper. But he is R-E-A-L.

And here you stand across from me.....asking me what I have to show for my years on this planet? I have grey hair. Each one represents an accomplishment in my inconsequential life. These hairs represent the countless hours I've spent helping businesses stay afloat. These hairs represent the people that I have influenced, angered, educated and loved. These hairs represent thousands of miles traveled; from the steps of the Taj Mahal to the shores of Malibu. These hairs represent the stolen moments between my wife and I when the kids are sleeping and the exhausting yet rewarding backaches, skinned knees and snotty noses that come with raising two wonderful children. They represent lust and hate and regret and redemption.

They represent me.

So what have I got to show for it? Bang-o-Rang. That's what.

So for those of you that have those quiet in-front-of-the-mirror moments where you find yourself critiquing the ever-aging landscape of your face and asking yourself "What have I got to show for it?" Run your fingers through your hair and smile at all those greys. They are what make you. Find your Bang-o-Rang.