Larry Mannino's Blog

Writer | Brand Communications Strategist | Human

Are You Always On Sale?

I used to be a digital sale junkie.

I have more Steam games than I could play if I took 2 years off from work. My Udemy library has nearly 200 courses and I could attend my personal CreativeLive academy full-time for a month without spending another dime.

But not anymore. Today I can handle my digital sales. In fact, even if there’s a HUGE sale with some skill I’m dying to learn (I’m a sucker for self-improvement) I can walk away. Really.

How did I master my digital sale urges? It certainly wasn’t a matter of willpower. Actually, all 3 of those companies – and a lot more like them – have made it easy for me to not feel the urgency to buy anymore.

To paraphrase a villain from one of my favorite movies: when everyone’s always on sale, then nobody’s on sale.

Brand Value Dilution 101:

Here’s the thing: Steam, Udemy and CreativeLive used to run sales only occasionally.

Now they have what I call ‘chain sales’ (think chain smoking); when one sale ends, another ‘special’ almost immediately begins.

And this is deadly – not for me, for them – because it has the opposite effect, over time, of what they want, which is increased sales.

Steam sales used to be the most compelling because they were dynamic; pricing changed regularly throughout the length of the sale, so you had to be vigilant to get the best prices. It was fun, and a brilliant way to keep customers engaged for the entire period of what were often week-plus events.

Not too long ago they changed this approach: now best-pricing is fixed at the start, so you can mosey on in just once during the long sale period, grab everything you want and never come back ’til the next one. Now has all the excitement of a Vegas-style buffet: gorge yourself to your heart’s content and feel nothing but full. In a time when online businesses are competing for attention (or maybe thinking about Time on Page or Session Duration stats), to me that’s a crazy shift in strategy.

Because it’s an an engagement killer.

Seriously, if you knew you could get your customers to come back of their own accord constantly over the entire course of a sales event, make impulse buys exponentially more likely, encourage exploration of your entire product catalog and keep them riveted and active during an entire 10-day period, why would you change that model?

Beats me, but after a few rounds at the gorge-at-best-price-period buffet, Steam sales are no longer must-do events. I’m full, in no rush to run back, and if a game comes up that I do want, I can rest easy knowing that it will inevitably go on sale, and soon.

Here’s why CreativeLive is the worst:

Because I used to hold them in the highest regard in terms of course-quality and value-for-the-money, for me, CreativeLive is the most disappointing self-victim and really illustrates the danger of the chain-sale approach.

CreativeLive was the real deal when it came to credibility. Their production values were consistently awesome. Their experts were actual experts and their courses were courses: not regurgitated factoids presented n a nonsensical manner that made you wonder whether you could have – or should have – just gone to YouTube or bought a book.

When I went to CreativeLive, I went in willing to pay top-dollar because I knew I was getting high quality and high value. And that meant if there was a sale, it was important that I get there. Fast.

But not anymore.

You see, CreativeLive in particular has now conditioned me to believe there is no reason to buy at any one particular time. Sure, they do their best to stoke urgency with the typical ‘ends soon’ countdown and ‘just added’ hack strategies but then, inevitably, as soon as one sale ends, another begins.

They’re always on sale. And if not, I just have to wait for a few days. So why should I care?

Even worse, this chain-sale approach has to changed my perception of their Brand. If they’re always on sale, are they putting profitability ahead of mission? Are the courses still consistently high-quality? Are they in a desperate financial state?

And am I foolish for ever paying their regular price now?

Worst of all, do I trust them to consistently provide value if they themselves don’t seem to recognize it?

Here’s Why A Chain-Sale Mentality is a Brand Killer:

Think of it this way: your Brand is simply the way people think about you, your business, product or service. That’s it: it’s a perception game.

When you’re always on sale, this is what happens:

  • There’s nothing special about your sales, so they become less effective over time.
  • The brand (perception) is cheapened
  • Your screaming message of ‘savings’ obscures all of your other more important brand messaging – namely that you’re excellent and unique in your category.
  • When this happens, you attract customers who only care about price and, in terms of buyer psychology, you have chosen to present yourself as a parity provider; one whose sole differentiation from your competitors is by price alone.
  • This is a recipe for failure, because as your perceived inherent value decreases, you’ll need to consistently cut profit margins in order to compete for less than loyal, price-only customers. And even if you argue that your competition is of lower quality or that you’re better because of X, Y and Z, you’re preaching to a new audience now: the price-only customer does not care. And because they’re the ones you’ve reached out to and cultivated this particular audience via the chain-sale approach, it’s your fault.
  • Over time, you die a slow, agonizing business death at increasingly unsustainable, razor-thin profit margins serving disloyal people who don’t recognize your value.

So what do you do?

Don’t be the Brand that someone wants just for a good time: Instead be the Brand that someone wants to Marry.

Here’s the thing – just as people have relationships with one another, people also have relationships with brands. And when you have a relationship with something, you determine the value of that ‘thing’ in a very specific way based on how it presents itself relative to your needs and expectations.

More importantly, the way in which you perceive somethingbe it object, person or brand – forms the basis of how you feel about it, and how you treat it. It’s a human thing to do; as much as data is helpful, we remain inarguably human and subjective in our understanding of the world. In short, our feelings about a thing drive our response to that thing.

In keeping with the dating analogy, in a two-party relationship, if you continually present yourself as compliant, and willing to do anything just to get attention, you are sending signals that you are weak. Inherently pliable. Not to be crass, but depending on the dynamic of the relationship, this can easily make you appear usable on some level. From there, the relationship will likely become more unbalanced over time; soon there will be little reciprocity or mutual respect, both of which are hallmarks of a healthy and sustainable relationship.

If you are ‘always on sale’, you are sending a message of weakness. And your customers will use you and move on to the next best price when it suits them.

Instead, you should be the Marrying kind (or the Life Partner kind, if that’s the way you roll). The one in which both parties respect and appreciate the value of the other. The one where the value of a long-term commitment far exceeds any minor discrepancy in price.

How do you do this?

Tell a different story. Take stock of yourself and what you do, and then create a truthful brand narrative that focuses on what you do for them, and that continually elicits a positive association with your entire brand – not just what you charge. You story must present you as both approachable and professional, and you must be self-assured enough to be honest, truthful and transparent.

And make no mistake; this is not about veneer, or an impression to create via advertisement, but instead by a brand-holistic attitude of confidence, expertise and uniqueness. You need to be human and, at times, even vulnerable – not weak, but open to connection, empathy and understanding. You need to listen first, and from there find true common ground with your customers – if you listen carefully, you’ll find that they often have all the answers you need.

You’ll also need to say NO sometimes, but explain why. You need to be honest with your customers, and yourself, by demonstrating the value you provide, and why it’s worth the price you’re asking (and if when you take stock you find it hard to articulate your value and true USP, you need to ask yourself why, and what you can do to make it so). And though you always need to be flexible, you can never fold.

When you create a persistently positive, mutually respectful voice for your brand, you win over the long-term, because people do business with people they like, understand, respect and trust. This is what I call the Brandphilic® approach. And it works.

The Result of Taking this Approach?

If you switch to this long-term, sustainable model abruptly from a ‘chain sale’ scenario, sales volume will likely drop (for a time), but the quality of your new customers will increase. Rather than living in an incessant, frantic grind always looking for ephemeral leads based on price, you will instead begin building a loyal customer base that recognizes and appreciates your unique value and expertise. The ones that respond to the right brand messaging based on your true value are the ones you want; it’s like employing a magical pre-filter that brings you the exact type of customer that’s right for you while screening out the ones you don’t.

That’s the practical benefit of the developing and executing the right Brand Communications Strategy. Now that you have the right customers, they won’t stray when competitor tries to undercut you because they know what they’re getting from you, and understand your value. And because of this, you can be fair to yourself on pricing and margin as well, which means you can build a healthy business that can serve your customers best over the long term.

And then, when you DO run some sort of special it will have higher perceived value – because YOU do – and much higher conversion and better response.

And that’s far better than a hugely successful Going Out Of Business Sale.

How To Feel Alive Again

Photo Courtesy Ashim D’Silva via Unsplash

This morning, everything changed.

I’d grabbed my coffee, jumped in the car, flipped on the radio and gotten ready to roll.  Just like every other morning

But when I touched the radio screen, Sirius was gone!

ALL gone – save for an automated promo loop telling me my subscription had run out.

What? I thought.

All my carefully chosen, pre-programmed choices, all gone.

“What!” I said.

Sure, this was my first ever Sirius radio subscription – it came with the car when I got it apparently —  make that exactly —  1-year ago. And sure, they’d sent the usual re-subscribe notices, but I ignored them.

Cold reality set in. To be honest, my first reaction was to look for a re-subscribe option on the screen. You know, something connected to my credit card so I could just click YES and go on with my day. Get back to my comedy or jazz or talk or whatever I’d programmed.

But there was no instant re-subscribe option. To be honest, I was surprised and even a little bit uncomfortable – how first-world-problem embarrassing is that? My satellite radio subscription had run out. Boo hoo. But the real discomfort came from the realization that my routine would be a little different today….

You see, I’d gotten into that insidious ‘groove’ that we’re all falling into these days. You know the one – the gentle ‘hey, you just give us a credit card and we’ll quietly just take out a little charge when it’s time and your life will go on uninterrupted’ sort of quiet hypnotic life-groove.

The Groove that says ‘don’t wake ’em up and have them actually consider what they’re doing’ groove. The groove that got deeper when Software as a Service (SaaS) went mainstream.

It’s the EZ Pass groove; the don’t think about how much we’re charging you to go over the Tappan Zee Bridge groove, or the ridiculous amount we’re quietly charging you to enjoy the sights and smells of the Midtown Tunnel.

‘Just keep going.’ it whispers,  ‘And look! No lines!’

Give us a number, an expiration date, and click a box; we’ll just deduct it and you get to stay in your semi-comatose state-of-ease-groove.

But I hadn’t done that. I hadn’t given anyone a credit card number. I’d fallen out of The Groove! And I received a jarring awakening.

Awakenings are good things, and this one also got me to thinking – something I suspect most graphite-slick marketers and purveyors of the matrix-like instant-update Groove most certainly don’t want you to do.

Yes, I thought.

And then I realized something.

I realized, in this moment of grooveless non-subscription, I’d been listening to a Muzak soundtrack of my life – lovely, perfect, soulless and predictable – for the better part of a year! Consuming at the all you can eat 24/7 content bar of Sirius, and lulled into a sort of complacency.

And I realized this because without familiar and predictable Sirius I had to venture into the wild. There was no way I was going to drive to work – heck, do anything – without some constant chatter going on, right? It seems Silence has gotten really loud for most of us; it’s best to drown it out with noise, right? So back I went. AM/FM. Live. All of a sudden I was listening to a DJ from my old favorite local station.

He was in real time, and talking about current stuff!

It felt a little like wiping the sleep from my eyes after a nap; coming to, suddenly focusing. It was engaging – some part of my mind that had been switched into ‘consume only’ mode via Sirius was now in ‘engage/consider/think’ mode.

It was glorious!

Because there was a something real on the other end of my ear-stream! A real live human being broadcasting in real time from a place I could really drive to if I wanted.

Ironically, I’d actually worked with this guy doing some studio production – his name’s Anthony – so I knew he was real. And the station (WEHM, btw, for the Hamptons and the North Fork, where I spend most of my time), is decidedly non-programmatic, which is why I’d always listened to it in the first place.

How had that ingrained habit changed so quickly over the course of a mere year? And the weirdest thing of all was just that: it felt weird to be listening to someone live, and in real time.

But it wasn’t bad weird – it was good weird. Refreshing. Comforting even. Heck, this voice coming from my speakers was someone I could pick up the phone and call, right then. Interrupt his broadcast even.

Something I could never do on Satellite radio.

It was a human moment. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed that imperfect richness.

Jarred from the graze-and-consume coma of anything-you-want Sirius, I felt something. I became more aware – not just of the radio, but of everything around me – and felt that much more alive. I had to actively engage, not just let the noise drip in, because in its unpredictability it demanded my attention. I could almost feel my synapses firing a bit better.

Which, again, got me to thinking – yes, thinking. Pesky habit, but sometimes useful.

As a writer and brand communications strategist I thought – as I often do – about perception, and what the digital age means, beyond the hype and shiny veneer, for all us humans out there.

And it also got me to thinking about re-marketing, and the effects of what hyper-targeted tracking (howdy Google!) is likely doing to all of us in the name of convenience, commerce and profit.

Disconnect to Connect Better

The irony, I’ll argue, is this: rather than making the world, our knowledge and experience, more connected and expansive today’s internet, with its burgeoning practices of behavioral profile-building, data-mining and search results informed by previous patterns, is actually making our overall experience smaller, and more disconnected. It leaves us less exposed to new ideas, not more, and thus less curious.

By making each search incrementally more custom-tailored, with every passing day we discover more of what we already comfortably know, which means we actually discover less the more we search. As a result, our exposure to the jarring unexpected, to the new, is increasingly limited and makes some pacified, homogenized dystopian-science-fiction-novel future much more likely.

Each day we become more numb to the possibilities outside of what we already know, tracked by ads we’ve shown some fleeting interest in, and being fed search results reflective of those things which we’re most likely to want based simply upon that with which we are already most familiar and have already experienced.

And so smaller and smaller we go, and our history and profile becomes more, ah, refined.

The problem is you lose perspective, seeing only what an algorithm thinks will most likely be of interest to you – which by definition is something you already know about or have shown interest in.

And while that might seem efficient, it is extremely limiting in terms of the human experience.

As this process unfolds, and we spend more and more time connected to the digital world, we are no longer exposed to the new. The unexpected. Those things that keep our minds agile, our creativity flexible and our lives interesting. New experiences, good or bad, spark rich fulfilling lives, and pave the way for what it means to be human.

We are losing that.

When we are fed an ever-narrowing a diet of what we have already experienced we lose, bit by bit, our humanity. Our ability to feel. To empathize. Becoming satisfied and comfortable and placid dullards. Or, worse, isolated, agitated and lost in a hyper-connected world.

And when we are less than human, set numbly adrift and lose touch with what it means to feel, tragedies occur.

I don’t have to name events. It is becoming a daily occurrence to which we are fast becoming desensitized. Ours is an increasingly ominous trajectory.

How to Regain Your Humanity and Feel Alive Again

You must disconnect periodically.  Clear your cache, both real and metaphorical. Listen to something live, even if it’s a little rough around the edges. And connect face-to-face with people whenever possible. You can’t think your way there; you have to act, and actually do this.

Don’t send the silent perfection of an email, or think you know someone by their carefully constructed social veneer.

“Why?” you ask, “I’m busy!” you say. Why go to all this trouble?

Because, with all due respect, you’re not Busy – you’re just in motion. Stop and think about what you’ve actually produced in the swirl of all of you self-professed ‘Busyness” and you’ll see it’s actually not only very little, but that if you’re not careful, said busyness will become a forever loop going nowhere, rather than leading you to a real destination and place.  And you may find, for all of your busyness and effort, you feel remarkably hollow and unfulfilled, somehow….

Why else? Because of the simple, powerful feeling of connection. The thrill. Because you’re human, you need this, and you may have forgotten.

The visceral joy of feeling actual connection in the moment. The danger-thrill of the non-curated, and the sudden synapse-storm of actual and unpredictable engagement and exploration is the point of being human, even if it rips you out of the muzak-sound tracked, fluorescent-lighted space in your head where you spend most of the time. Is it risky? Maybe. But we’re not put on this planet to exist safely until we die. We’re given Life because we need to Live.

Try it. Be human. Wade in if you must, but plunge if you can. Walk away occasionally. Or, better yet, regularly. Disconnect to connect better with what really matters.

Because trust me, the world is fast becoming split between two opposing teams – the Creators and the Consumers.

And the Creators are the ones in charge; you’ll find them above the fray, out of The Groove and most in touch with what it means to be human and alive.

And the Consumers? Well, if this post was TLDR, it’s okay — you can just go back to sleep now and we’ll wake you in time for your funeral.

What Am I Giving Up For Lent? Funny You Should Ask…

Lent, for me, has always sort of felt akin to New Years. I’ve got great intentions. I’m going to give something up that’s bad for me and thus become the better – or at least more ideal – version of myself I think want to be. It’s an opportunity for change.

And, funny thing, for me these resolutions never really work.

The irony is that every day you’re alive is actually an opportunity for change; we’re just a little more attuned to the calendar idea. The Calendar is easier to wrap our heads around in our crazily scheduled, always running life. Which makes New Years seem like a bedrock moment. One where it makes some degree of psychological sense to be able to suddenly ‘put last year behind you’. The tabula rasa.

Of course, as humans we created our sense of time, hours days calendars – the giant clock that’s always ticking in most of our minds. Yeah, we did that to ourselves.

Anyway, Lent, for the Catholic among us, is a time before Easter when we’re supposed to, essentially, prepare ourselves. Make ourselves better. And as a guy who probably goes to my wife’s Presbyterian church more than my own Catholic one (full disclosure: their Minister is pretty awesome, gives a good sermon, and they serve pastries and coffee afterwards), bear in mind that any authority I may seem to have on matters of religion is suspect at best.

Over the years, like New Years, I’ve gone in with the best of intentions, only to fail miserably. You see, whatever it was I chose, I maybe chose for the wrong reasons. Or, maybe, I just wanted those things that I was going to give up ‘just this once’ – which is always the first step on the slippery slope to failure and regret. And cookies before bed (yeah, late night snacks was one year’s thing to give up).

So this year, as always I had a few ideas. It was the usual list, mostly based on things I know I should do, or should not do.

And I knew, going in, that I’d fail. Because I’d tried it before.

So this year I took a different tack.

This year I chosen the most selfish Lenten obligation ever. Because selfish works.

What am I doing for Lent? Here it is from my daily journal (btw, if you don’t journal you should):

For Lent This Year I Will Be Good To Myself.

I Will Honor Myself.
I Will Take Care of Myself – Mind and Body.
I Will Respect Myself.
And I Will put this Ahead of Everything and Everybody Else.

Because by doing this, I will Create the Best Version of Myself.

Which is My Gift to My Children. My Wife. My Friends. Possibly my Clients. And God.
And while this seems to have nothing to do with branding or writing or creativity – my usual topics of interest – it has Everything to do with Life. So maybe it does ;).

The Simple Cure For Our Righteous Anger

There’s a lot of righteous anger going around these days.  Too much arguing and not enough discourse.  Too much shouting and not enough listening.  To much closed, and not enough open. Too much personal branding, and not enough personal responsibility.  Too much digging in of heels against, and not enough dancing on your toes with.  Let’s face it: everyone’s always had a quiet opinion, but now everyone also has a digital megaphone.

But the righteousness of the anger is what’s interesting, because if you look closely enough, it’s often defensive.  You see, if I’m righteous, then I feel I’m right — about whatever issue it is that’s bothering me enough to be righteous about.  And if you disagree with my righteous anger, you’re disagreeing with my ‘rightness’.  Which means you’re not only not only disagreeing with my take on the issue at hand, but also saying I’m wrong. So I increase my volume, because the alternative is to step back, take a moment and take a deeper look at my own beliefs.

And that’s scary. It’s warmer and safer wrapped up in the cocoon of righteousness so, when questioned, it seems it’s often easier to double down on the righteousness by countering with the ‘you’re infringing on my rights’ argument.  Which fast moves to other quasi-social concerns that often are convenient extrapolations of real and serious issues which have become dangerously mutated, and used for the wrong purposes, yet remain safely unassailable behind the wall of perceived political correctness.

But maybe self examination is just what we need right now, because I think a lot of this self righteousness arises from the fact that we’ve all been adrift in a maelstrom of social, technical and political change for quite some time.  Maybe 9/11, coupled with the breathless pace of technological change to a digital era left us all feeling a bit exposed and unsure.  Maybe the dissolution of the family due to financial necessity has eroded our sense of stability. Maybe these are the reasons why  many Baby Boomers believe everything used to be simpler and better.  And many Millennials feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope and complexity of choice without, I’ll argue, a core foundational structure to return to, so they feel not free as much as untethered.

Perhaps this is why we seem always on the lookout for things that do not jibe perfectly with our own worldview, and then magnify them.  We scream and shout and troll and belittle and swear that our anger is righteous and feel strong in that fleeting moment of our response.  But a small voice inside whispers we are not.  That our screaming is bluster and, if questioned, our grasp of the issues shallow at best.

So why do we do it?  To connect? Maybe. Maybe that’s the only way we seem to know how anymore.  It’s easier to flare up quick and get the cocaine pellet of at least some kind — hell, ANY kind — of response. To feel something, even if it’s indignation. To find evidence that we matter in some small way.

We are fast becoming entrenched in a unceasingly shifting and frivolous world where Love is a Subaru, politics is war, being less than thin a statement of empowerment and personal choice and if you’re not connected you are thus disconnected from everything important.  And if you do not agree then you disagree, and become the enemy.

And we’re scared.  All of us, on some level, know this just ain’t right.  Which is why the Self Help industry is killing it, and Medium is rife with people telling you how to be you. Plus we’re damaged – all of us, except now it’s someone else’s fault forever – so the choice of instant anger can be a steam valve that let’s off a bit of pressure which may well come from some other, likely unrelated, inner conflict.

Our defense mechanism is to remain in perpetual motion. Our survival mechanism is to seek out the comfort of a tribe we’ve never actually met,  wear our opinions like armor, and defend them to the death. To keep everything – even ourselves – out.

It is a terrible trajectory, isn’t it?

How Do We Move Forward?

The way out of our current angst, I think, is to return to a more vulnerable state.  And while I know that sounds counter intuitive, I have a belief that we are sacrificing much of our deeply complex and wonderful humanity to a culture of materialism, perceived safety in remaining continually busy (and often sleep deprived), and socially satisfied only as the most perfectly curated and vacuous personas.

We need to return that that which makes us human.  Not to be flawed, or needy, or fat or thin or white or black or gay or straight or Republican or Democrat or empowered or dis-empowered, but to simply to BE. To be without a label, or an instant position. To be open and flexible and to breathe. To be still, because still is okay, even if it’s scary because you can sometimes hear the sounds inside.  To understand that there are and always will be differences and unfairness and victories and defeats and to be okay with that.  And to deeply understand that Change does not occasionally happen in the midst of an otherwise static Life but, instead, that Life is Change.  That is where Evolution comes from, and how we get better.

And if we can truly embrace that sort of a viewpoint we will find a deep well of calm, of serenity, within. Of strength and confidence grounded in our own comfortable understanding of ourselves.

And when we get there, we will no longer need to react defensively to the world around us. We will no longer default to righteous anger, but instead embrace differences as an opportunity for discourse.  For learning. For evolving as civilized and flawed and awesome unlimited human creatures.

We get there by simply being what we are. Relentlessly Human.

 

 

Still, Quite Possibly, My Favorite Video On Branding. Ever.

This Is a Generic Brand Video, by Dissolve from Dissolve on Vimeo.

Why a 2-Minute Video About Schrodinger’s Cat at This Hour?

Good question and, ironically there are two possible answers:

  • (1) After a long hiatus I’ve been itching to get  blogging again, and have willfully ignored the sage advice of many to build first and launch second so instead have decided to simply go live and tinker in public, because at least that way it won’t get shelved for another 6-months and I’ll get to scratch that blogging itch,  so this non-post is about me playing around with a possible new build, just to see what would happen, or…
  • (2) I’m finishing final edits on “Checkin’ For Deads”, and quantum physics (along with a surprisingly plausible theory about the nature of God, the origin of the universe, ghosts, demons and a pet store all wrapped up in an urban fantasy mystery that’ll be the first book in a new series) is pretty relevant, so I’ve posted the below video.

As an added bonus, if you watch all 2-minutes of the video you’ll realize both answers (or, ah, outcomes) are equally likely and also realize there’s a third possibility that involves you…

Thanks for playing along –

An Update, and Some Awesome Creative Inspiration to Tide You Over, Courtesy of Pixar

Hello All!  I know, I know – been awhile to say the least.  Anyway, the good news?  Will be retiring this blog and replacing with a shiny new one shortly. One that’ll be updated just about every day (Austin Kleon has inspired me – if your haven’t read Show Your Work, I recommend it – here’s a link – and no, I’m not an affiliate, just a fan 😉

 The other good news? How about 6 minutes of Powerful, masterful storytelling that just happens to be animated.  This is a little project that a couple of Pixar animators did in their spare time over the course of about 5 years.  I’m going to take a closer look at how I spend my spare time, but this is absolutely moving – a rare must watch – enjoy!

 

 

Borrowed Time from Borrowed Time on Vimeo.

An Open Letter to Tiger Woods (and Anyone Else who's ever Screwed up Big Time)

Tiger Woods, 2006 Masters. Owning it.

Tiger Woods, 2006 Masters. Owning it.

You’ve lost your swagger, my friend.

Opponents used to cower, knowing you’d be lurking. You didn’t care, because you knew.

But not now. And to be clear, it’s not your bad back.  Your swing.  Your clubs.

You still have ALL of the same talent you once had, but swagger means something real – something tangible – something that lets you plug into Goethe’s power of the universe – that nexus – the rewards of going ‘all in’.

It’s where talent – and you’ve got plenty of that – meets conviction.

When those ingredients combine, the universe conspires to help – it provides energy – that energy magnifies the talent – creates lucky breaks – and sends the Signal to the world that you’ve got it, so watch out – or not – because I’m coming…and there’s nothing you can do about it.

It’s where you become Teflon.

Hey, you fucked up.

There’s been bigger ones throughout history – trust me, you don’t dominate in the fuck-ups department. Not even close.

And you did the right thing – you apologized and took ownership. You paid the price, both publicly and privately.

So be done with it. Stop sagging those shoulders and running with the pack. Tell the media to go scratch. Tell the waves of schadenfreudic losers that they no longer get to feast on your carcass.

Be Tiger again.

Be bulletproof. Win without apology. Lose without excuse. Fuck the contrition that sits like a perpetual leech on you soul, always sapping your strength.

[Tweet “Be bulletproof. Win without apology. Lose without excuse.”]

Tell them all to fuck off.

Tell ME to fuck off.

Be Tiger again.

Without apology.

You need it.

We need it.

Just Do It.

Here's Why They'll Remember Nothing About Letterman.

A picture of a picture of a picture of life.

A picture of a picture of a picture of life.

I caught the tail end of Letterman last night. Bill Murray was on, and it was the last show before the big finale, so I tuned in. There was vodka and cake and a palpable sense of sadness, even desperation maybe, but not because the show was coming to an end necessarily.

I got the sense, in the moment, that I did years ago when reading the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.  It was a brief flash of revelation, of insight.  I remember sitting there in Brenda Wineapple’s class,  first semester college freshman at Union, vaguely attracted to English as a major because I liked to read and write, and largely directionless on everything else.

In some respects, not much has changed.

Anyway, we’re reading through the poem, and picking it apart, and we hit the “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” line, where the narrator is fiercely imploring his father, apparently on his deathbed, to fight against the coming and inevitable close of his life.  It is a very moving scene, between father and son, but the sudden flash I felt – this ‘a ha’ moment – was that Thomas saw the inevitability of his own end in the final struggles of his father’s life.  This overwhelming realization of his own mortality.  That was my take, anyway, on why the language is so desperate and strong, because if Dad was going to go, well…

And I saw that a little bit in Murray’s eyes, and saw Dave recognize it, but also put up the blast shield of humor so as to protect himself, perhaps, from blubbering.

Either way, both men knew – recognized anyway – that it was not only the end of an era, but maybe also – like Thomas – glimpsed the end of their own eras. I grew up with Letterman, so maybe I got it, too.

So Why Won’t They Remember Letterman?

It is a new era, and I’m not sure where this one ends. Or how.

You see, Murray left the studio and went out into the street attempting to rally New Yorkers into something memorable and moving perhaps.  The cameras followed him, a whirling mess of sincerity and emotion, as he tried to create an impromptu moment of tribute, his own moment of raging I suppose.

And here’s where it fell apart.  I watched, dumbstruck, as this opportunity to be a part of something, of being in the right place at the right time, simply died as hundreds of cell phones popped up trying get that selfie with Murray, or chronicle the event.  Murray just stood there, trying to express himself, yet curiously impotent and alone in this sea of idiots.

I sigh as I write this.  Like so many of my posts, I worry about where we’re going these days.  The enormity of the changes over the past 20 years or so so seems to have put us on a shallow and ephemeral path.  I worry about my kids, and wonder what the end game is.  And, as I’ve pointed out quite often, my generation is the last one that will have experienced life both before and after the so-called digital age. My kids only know iPads and Google – that is their reality.  My parents – who are closer to Letterman and Murray’s generation – are not immersed in technology.

We are fast becoming spectators-in-real-time to our own lives.  We find proof of life only through the captured image of ourselves living, and not the deeper experience of being in the moment – of feeling.

[Tweet “We are fast becoming spectators-in-real-time to our own lives….”]

The people so desperate to Tweet or capture or chronicle this moment with Murray, at the end of Letterman and in the greatest city in the world will have no real recollection of the moment.  How it felt, what it smelled like or tasted.  Because they weren’t in the moment; too busy trying to capture it, to prove, perhaps, that they were there and alive, and leaving them ultimately with only an image, but not a memory.

That’s why they won’t remember it.  Because they were never really there. Just on the outside, and through a screen.

Am I raging?  Maybe, but even if it hurts I’ll choose engagement – of living – over being a spectator. Every single time.

Go With Your Gut Feeling

Take 20 minutes and watch this TEDx talk from Magnus Walker – think of it as an investment in broadening one’s perspective 😉

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