Will Fame Buy Me Love?

My sister and I quickly learned that love came with a price tag: achievement. If we wanted love and attention we had to earn it. My sister became a straight-A student in school. She worried so much about achieving a perfect report card that she ended up in the hospital.

Forget the Facts - Tell a Story

Recently I was asked by the sales manager of a company if I could reach his staff with a message he had been trying to “beat into their heads for months.” Uh, his words not mine.

Who is the Puppet Master of Your Story?

Sometimes a writer’s stories are guided by his deepest unsatisfied needs. I’m talking about how his unresolved issues, ones that hark back to his childhood, will emerge as traits in his fictional characters. What shocked me, when I recently revisited some of my earliest writings, was that I too had done this.

The Victory of Vulnerability

We repel the very intimacy we desire from our relationships. We do this by hiding our vulnerability, by building impervious walls - personas - to protect us from embarrassment and shame. Contrary to our beliefs, vulnerability is disarming, and makes aggressors back down.

The Perfect Ad

Every product and service solves a problem or satisfies a need for someone. A good ad speaks in terms of solutions to problems. People are motivated by solutions.
Here's When Creative Thinking Kicks In

Here's When Creative Thinking Kicks In

Innovation and creativity are all about solving problems or satisfying needs. And, there are three times when we are most likely to think creatively.

How to Move Forward

I found that I was paralyzed and unable to be the driving force my business needed to stay afloat. It was then, that I realized I had failed to take a critical beginning step. It was something I should have known. It was a vital component of creative thinking that I’d been teaching others for years.

The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese

Today our sluggish economy is screaming for some innovation. Unfortunately, at the same time, our society is shunning risk like never before. In the name of protecting people, our government has stepped up regulation on business to the point that it has stifled innovation; and the accompanying penalties for violating them has upped the ante on risk.

What's Holding You Back?

I noticed the training wheels on my son’s bike were no longer touching the ground. He was riding without them. “Let’s take those off,” I said. “No Daddy, I’m not ready.” He couldn’t see what I saw, and I didn’t know how to show that to him.

What Perplexing Puzzle Is Piquing Your Curiosity?

The next hatbox I pulled off the top shelf of the closet nearly tipped me off the ladder. It was the weight that surprised me; it was far too heavy for just a hat. As I regained my balance, I wondered why this one weighed more than the others. I set it on the vanity and started untying the strings. I was curious if it would reveal any secrets...
This Story has a Happy Ending... I Promise!

This Story has a Happy Ending... I Promise!

He was a big guy, who looked like a TV mobster; and with his heavy Brooklyn accent, I believed he’d break my legs. I scooped up my presentation notebook, and silently left. Welcome to New York City.

Not Gonna Hold My Breath

There's a reason why Hope was at the bottom of Pandora’s box. When we are rendered impotent by circumstances: the concentration camp prisoner, the innocent person on death row, the homeless; Hope motivates us to keep going. Unfortunately, hope is not going to help us succeed in life.

KA-BOOM! The Explosive Pain of Shame

I stepped onto the stage and told my first joke. To my shock no one laughed. So, I moved right onto my next one. Again, no one laughed. I’d never experienced this before and I started to feel a sense of panic.

How to Influence Others

Things are looking pretty grim. You’re not just sinking; one of the decks below is on fire. Plus, all your sails are aflame, lighting up the night and making the damage to your ship clearly visible. You can see that half your crew is dead. You were outnumbered to begin with, now the odds of victory seem impossible.

Lubricate with Laughter

It is impossible to hate someone who makes you laugh. Laughter is a bonding agent that we experience initially as babies when we develop our very first relationships - the ones with our parents; and it continues to be the social lubricant which enables us to make friends throughout our lives.
Bouncing off the Bottom

Bouncing off the Bottom

"You are going to die," Burt told Valerie after she said she wanted a divorce. The 26 year old policeman lifted a rifle and pointed it at her face."No. Please no!" begged Valerie.Ignoring her pleas and the tears streaming down her cheeks, Burt continued to aim the gun at a point right between her eyes.

Craving Connection

Steve and I spent a lot of time together, but he made me uncomfortable. I ignored those feelings because my hunger for connection was a stronger motivator than my fear of trouble.

Criticism Sucks

Before I worked for him full time, I had worked for him freelance. During those days, he praised my work, and constantly asked me to work for him full time. I liked being a freelancer, and was reluctant to take a regular job. Then one day, he made the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse. After that the praise stopped and the criticism began.

You’ll Know When You’ve Arrived

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, I saw a young athlete with his brand new silver medal around his neck and a massive smile on his face. He was so thrilled with his achievement that he was mixing and mingling with everyone he met on the sidewalk. Perfect strangers were shaking his hand, slapping him on the back, and having their picture taken with him.

Good Stuff also Comes in Threes

I found an amateur contest to make a TV commercial for a famous ketchup brand. Instantly I had an idea for a romantic comedy in which ketchup brought two young lovers together. During it all, I discovered that it's not just bad stuff that comes in threes; so does good stuff when it includes: love, creativity, and success.
STOP Bugging Me!

STOP Bugging Me!

The stench rising off the dead bodies was over-powering. It was so thick you could taste it. Sandy pulled a dust-mask respirator over his face, but the smell still penetrated. To speed up the decomposition process he quickly shoveled manure over the decaying flesh. The manure cut the odor somewhat, that is, if you don’t mind the stink of cow dung. Then as he flung each shovelful of waste over the bodies, a black cloud of fat flesh flies would rise into the air. It was a disgusting job that wasted hours of his day, but there weren’t many alternatives.

Empathy on Empty

“He’s a drunk; I’m calling the police!” I couldn’t believe the callous response. “This man is hurt,” I cried.  He doesn’t need the police - he needs help!” I roused the man and got him to his feet. “Come on Mister, let me take you home.” I took his arm and we started walking. In the middle of the third block he veered off the sidewalk and into the street where he stopped. Then to my shock, while I was holding him up, he unzipped his fly and began urinating in the middle of the road. I was mortified.

The Magic of Commitment is No Mystery

The room became very quiet, and as I glanced around the table, I saw a dozen perfect poker faces. No one wanted this commitment. I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.” A collective sigh issued from the group and several congratulated me on accepting such a big responsibility. It didn’t take but a few days before I was lamenting, “What the heck was I thinking?”

Take the Plunge

“I hate you! I’m going to kill you tonight after you fall asleep.” screamed nine year old Jerry to his foster mother. It was hard to believe such hateful words could come from this adorable child with big blue eyes and an impish face. Dee loves Jerry and wants to adopt him, but these angry outbursts frighten her.

What’s the Worst that can Happen?

“Who wants to give their oral report first?” Asked my sixth grade teacher. The dreaded day had finally arrived when each of us would have to stand in front of the room and speak to the class. Not a single hand went up. In fact, there was no movement in the room at all. There wasn’t a desk creaking under the shifting weight of a single body, no paper rustling, no pencils scratching, not even a cough. Nothing. The room had never been quieter. 

Be True to Yourself

“The girls always talk to the football players,” advised Tony. It was all I needed to know. So, never having played the game before, I joined the l team... instantly regretted it.

Life Lessons From My Cat

Roxy came up to my chair and meowed for attention. I picked her up, held her and started rubbing her soft fur. I knew from past experience that she didn’t like that, and she immediately began to squirm and try to jump out of my arms. Nevertheless - in the spirit of Albert Einstein’s observation that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - I hoped that she would start liking it.

Keep Your Power

I had to fight several more boys that year before the name-calling stopped. It was not the solution I wanted, but it worked. It took me years to learn that the problem was mine; that I was giving away my power every time I reacted to taunting and teasing. And, it’s a problem that doesn’t go away with childhood.

What’s Keeping You Awake?

Over the years, I’ve ruminated over all sorts of things. Big issues I have little or no control over like politics, the environment, terrorism, and the economy. Personal issues that I need to affect such as my business, my family, and my relationships. I have even worried over my volunteer work. Churning the same thoughts over and over again.