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Category: Todd Schnick

Random notes on FEAR and CHANGE

  1. What is fear? What causes it? Is it in our DNA? Is there anything we can do to stop it?
  2. Why do we let fear control our lives? For most of us, I think it’s habit. But you can eliminate bad habits, and form new ones!
  3. It might also be a feeling of powerlessness…that we simply do not have the ability to live any other way.
  4. How pervasive is fear in our business life? I don’t know, why don’t we ask management? Usually, they create a culture of top-down (fear-based) leadership that intimidates and rules through fear.
  5. Can you be fearless? No. But you can hone your courage, which is simply being afraid, and moving forward anyway. It’s ok to be afraid. Everyone is. I love the story of the accomplished actor Henry Fonda, that even into his final years, he vomited before going on stage, due to fear. But he went on stage anyway…
  6. How do you develop the skills to not be deterred by fear?
  7. How do we deal with the “easier said than done” problem with fear? Meaning, yeah, easy for you to say that you have to dive straight into that scary thing. Well, for one thing, dealing with this is the difference between success and mediocrity.
  8. What can management do about this? Empower their people, don’t making your response to mistake be a punitive one (for the right things, anyway). Top down managers are why employees feel fear in the work place anyway.
  9. “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce
  10. How does fear prevent us from going after dreams?
  11. How does fear inhibit innovation, creativity, making art, etc…?
  12. Is this a one-time fix? Or is this something that requires ongoing work, focus, and effort?
  13. For me, when I’m hung up on something because of fear, often the best antidote is just to start. It’s amazing to me how the fear melts away when you are just in it, working the problem. Despite knowing this, I still sometimes procrastinate. Can we learn to do better at this? Is this a muscle we can strengthen?
  14. How do we deal with the fear of rejection…this idea that people will respond negatively to our work? Is it as simple as not caring what people think? In that usually people’s reaction is a reflection of their own insecurities? Or jealousy that you shipped your work, and not them?
  15. Are people lazy? Or just afraid? Meaning, are they spending all their free time watching Netflix because they are bums? Or just because they are afraid of failure, and watching TV is safe?
  16. Why do people fear change? We don’t like the first day of school, or a new job, because it is unfamiliar, but the second day is SO much easier, because we know what to expect. Is that all fear is? A lack of familiarity?
  17. “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson
  18. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein
  19. Isn’t it good for the soul to frequently make a decision that “feels like the first day of school?”
  20. You know how when you rearrange a room, and then when you next walk into it, there is that feeling of excitement about the new set-up? It’s that feeling one is trying to generate when you incorporate change into one’s life. Not all change results in fear, it can (and should) lead to excitement.
  21. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking
  22. Isn’t there something to be said to the old maxim, “Do something each day that scares the hell out of you…” Honestly, this is the simplest, easiest trick to employ when learning how to combat your fear. You should force yourself to do just this.
  23. Obviously, the more you try spooky stuff, the further you develop the muscle that makes it easier to tackle intimidating projects/things going forward. This is WHY you should do something scary every day…
  24. “You are an animal of nature, fully endowed with hearing, sight, intellect, and dangerous defenses. You are not easy prey, so don’t act like you are.” Gavin de Becker
  25. I sometimes wonder if we are afraid of success. As in, what is the cost to us if this new idea, new product, new movement actually succeeds? Does that change things? Do we fear that change? Are we frightened of the heightened expectations? Or are we retreating to the safety of the status quo?
  26. “Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”
  27. “True security lies in the unrestrained embrace of insecurity – in the recognition that we never really stand on solid ground, and never can.” Oliver Burkeman
  28. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” FDR
  29. People don’t fear change. People fear sudden change. People fear revolutions. People don’t fear evolutions.” Simon Sinek
  30. “I think there’s so much aversion to risk-taking, I don’t think that’s the right direction we should be going. You have to take risks if you want to learn anything about yourself.” (Video, Lhotse)

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Random notes about awareness

  • The big question is WHY are so many people unaware of the world around them?
  • Awareness is a superpower.
  • Because if you are aware, you are way ahead of many around you.
  • This is one of those things that does require near-constant attention and focus. Being aware takes work.
  • Aware (definition): a·ware / əˈwer / adjective: having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. “Most people are aware of the dangers of sunbathing.” Also: concerned and well-informed about a particular situation or development.
  • Self-awareness (definition): self-a·ware·ness / self əˈwernəs / noun: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. “The process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness.”
  • “You cannot vent and self-reflect at the same time.” Cy Wakeman
  • Just the other day, my elevator stopped on a floor, the door opened, and some young gun professional was standing there, looking at his iPhone. He was completely unaware that a car, with me impatiently waiting in it, was waiting for him. Naturally, as the door started to close, he noticed and jumped in, getting awkwardly squeezed by the closing doors, making for an embarrassing ruckus. He was unaware of the world around him. Don’t be this guy.
  • It’s being aware that when you walk out of a door, there might be someone in front of it.
  • If you are walking down a sidewalk, and you stop suddenly, not noticing someone is walking right behind you.
  • Or the person who pushes out his chair at a restaurant, not even realizing someone is standing right behind him. Just a quick glance please.
  • Are you aware of the critical trends affecting your world?
  • Are you aware of the history? It does repeat itself. Everyday. If you want a crystal ball, just read some history.
  • Are you aware of the news? Now, I don’t want you to spend hours consuming news, but Lord, be aware of what’s happening in the world.
  • (My trick with the news is to glance at trusted source headlines…)
  • Conversation is so much more interesting when you are aware of the world around you, and can add real commentary, insight, and perspective.
  • There is a fine line between consciously unplugging from the world (which is encouraged from time to time), to being ignorant and clueless to what is happening around you.
  • LISTENING is obviously a key to awareness, and I love this bit from Farnam Street’s Shane Parrish: “Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing your ego long enough to consider what is being said before you respond. In a world where few people listen, good listeners stand out. So what is it so hard? When someone starts talking, our minds listen for: 1. Reasonably guess what they are going to say. (E.g., “I know what you are going to say.”) 2. Identify a pattern. (E.g., “I know where you are going with this.”) 3. Something we disagree with (E.g., “That’s wrong.”) When one of those things happens, we stop listening and our mind starts preparing our response. At the moment, the conversation becomes about us. When the other person does the same, gold becomes lead. Instead of making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person’s perspective as well as they do. You don’t have to agree. You do have an obligation to understand. A conversation is not a race to make a point, but rather an exploration of someone’s mind.”

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Random rules for life

“The trick in life is learning how to deal with it.”

HELEN MIRREN
  1. Do not wear sweatpants or flip flops on an airplane. 
  2. Do not stop suddenly on a sidewalk.  
  3. Don’t stand directly in front of an elevator door. Provide space for people to get out. 
  4. Pause between bites of food. Savor it for chrissakes. 
  5. Read every day. 
  6. Expend more calories than you consume. 
  7. Spend only what you have. 
  8. Keep only what you need and cherish. 
  9. Leave a small footprint. 
  10. Use checklists. 
  11. Be present. 
  12. Get help when you need it. 
  13. Prepare and do your research. 
  14. Do not multitask. 
  15. Or, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” (Publilius Syrus)
  16. Be grateful. Write it down when you can. 
  17. Communicate. Clearly. And often. 
  18. Sit up straight. 
  19. Recognize that the journey is often more important than the destination. Enjoy it. 
  20. Come up with ideas. Try them. 
  21. Be mindful of the people around you. 
  22. You are responsible for your own happiness. 
  23. But serve others too. 
  24. Don’t waste. 
  25. Drink your water. 
  26. Light lots of candles. 
  27. Respect others. 
  28. Don’t waste time on social media. 
  29. Keep learning. 
  30. Say “I don’t know” when true. 
  31. Be aware of your surroundings. 
  32. Learn from history. It’s happened before. 
  33. Follow the rules. Except when they need to be broken. 
  34. Speak your mind. Respectfully. Seek to understand the other side. 
  35. Remember how loud you are eating chips direct from the bag. 
  36. Apologize when necessary. Often when not. 
  37. Spend some of your life looking up from your phone. 
  38. You don’t need that much stuff. But what you do have should be good quality. 
  39. Don’t live with regrets. 
  40. Wash your hands. 
  41. Listen to whatever music you want to. Even if it’s Air Supply. 
  42. Vote. Or stop bitching. 
  43. Identify your creative outlet. And practice it. 
  44. Make lists. 
  45. Stretch. 
  46. Breathe. 
  47. Meditate. 
  48. Practice personal responsibility. 
  49. Practice self-reflection. 
  50. Blow your nose. Don’t snort/sniff. 
  51. Slow down. Take your time. 
  52. Eat your fruits and vegetables. 
  53. Celebrate your victories. But quickly move on to preparing/training for the next one. 
  54. Find joy. You are allowed to be joyful. 
  55. Think long term. Play the long game. 
  56. Practice growth mindset, not fixed mindset. 
  57. Use only one parking space. 
  58. Mind your own business. 
  59. Be nice to staff. You’re not more important than they are. 
  60. Tip generously when deserved. 
  61. Pay more for good, quality food. 
  62. Get a mentor. Or a dozen.
  63. Be a mentor. 
  64. Let ladies out of the elevator first.
  65. Put the toilet seat down. Every. Time.
  66. Change out your hand towels at least a couple times per week.
  67. Learn/practice discipline.
  68. Keep strict control of your calendar.
  69. Learn to say no.
  70. Always be simplifying.
  71. Don’t hope for a better life. Simply BE a better life (inspired by Kant).
  72. Improve the world by improving yourself (also inspired by Kant).
  73. If you are going to drink wine, drink the good stuff.
  74. Every now and then, listen to some classical music, just for some cultural balance in your life.
  75. YOU choose your response to any input (a random Tweet, news article, something your spouse says, etc.). This is your Stoic power, so, choose wisely.
  76. There is NO excuse for a complicated “unsubscribe” process.
  77. Only buy really good quality notebooks and ink pens.
  78. Actively seek out people smarter than you. And learn from them.
  79. Never wear a button-down collar with a suit.
  80. Breathe again.

Check back often. I will continue to add new “rules” as life presents them to me…


“Everyone should tape these to their refrigerator.”

BILL D.

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I’m the model for the word banal

ba·nal / bəˈnäl, bəˈnal / adjective; so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring. “Songs with banal, repeated words.”

I was having a tough night the other day, and in my despair, I did the worst possible thing:

I logged into Facebook.

What I saw was a lot of silly stuff: complaints, ranting about things with which people had no control, meaningless ads, silly memes, friendaversary videos, 37 photos of the same event, generic birthday greetings from people who haven’t communicated since the last birthday, and countless other things that offered little value to me.

But then I saw the worst possible thing on Facebook: My own postings.

Most were all, in a word, banal.

And I proceeded to delete most of it. In that moment, where I was admittedly in a deep funk, what I saw of my own postings sickened me.

Well, maybe sickened is too strong a word. But it made my skin crawl.

Especially to those who follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve had a long, complicated relationship with the platform. I just can’t figure out its purpose in my world.

Instagram is the photo album of my life, and I’ve strictly curated connections there that bring joy to my life. For me, it’s a simple platform, as compared to Facebook. LinkedIn is where I do my business and foundation networking. Twitter, well, that’s long been deleted as a cesspool of hate, division, and nonstop complaining/bitching/whining/trolling.

But Facebook, I don’t know.

If I am being very honest, I really only have an account there to co-maintain the Facebook page of our foundation. If not for that, it’s quite possible I would have long ago bailed on the platform. And not for any reason other that I feel useless there. And the banality from the other night confirmed it in my troubled mind.

But back to my banality. Let me offer you a simple apology. How boring. How useless. What a waste of your time.

As I am writing this, I have Mozart playing in the background (Jupiter symphony). Now that’s real. That’s art. That’s memorable and worth thinking about, talking about, and consuming.

Not the slop I post on Facebook.

Now, I suppose you are waiting for me to present what one SHOULD do instead. Well, again my apologies, but I have no idea. And that’s part of the problem, in that FB is different for everyone using it. It’s pretty hard to craft a simple strategy that will be of benefit all BILLION(S)+ users.

Maybe the real problem is that my life is banal. Or at least that’s how I see it. What published content did I leave on my Facebook page, you ask? Well, simple: material that my wife tagged me on, a bit of stuff about my Mother, and then our charitable/foundation work.

My wife, Mom, and serving others doesn’t seem banal to me. But, in all likelyhood, it might to others.

Who knows. But if I have to leave one bit of value here (and this is really a note to self), it’s this:

Yeah. I still have no idea.

My new mission in life is the work of our foundation, so I guess most of what I will Facebook about will be about our charitable work. Maybe, in the end, that will finally bring a sense of purpose to the platform.

I’ve long maintained that Facebook is different for everyone, and that everyone will use it differently. And perhaps the truest lesson to be discovered by this rant is to stop worrying about it. Cuz it’s likely that most people scrolling through their feed could give a hoot about what I post or don’t post.

How banal is that?


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Are you ready to die?

I have arrived at a weird place in my life.

My father passed away two years ago. My mother is late-stage Alzheimer’s. I turned 50 years old this year. A few contemporaries and friends have recently passed away. And several close friends are fighting valiant, yet scary, battles with cancer.

And…I will declare that I am ready to die.

Now, let me explain, and be VERY clear: I do not WANT to die. I have more to do and accomplish, and as of this writing, healthy. But,

  • I can honestly say I’ve achieved what I wanted in life, and am at peace with my place in the world.
  • I am happily married. To have a partner who accepts me and my flaws, and enjoys the journey we are on, is beyond measure.
  • Legally, with trusts, life insurance, retirement planning, etc., I FINALLY have all my personal and family affairs where it all needs to be. If I go suddenly, Stephanie (and my mother) will be taken care of.
  • After many, many years, my debts are paid off.
  • After ten+ years of work and focus, I have gotten my life simplified and minimalized, and I only own now what I truly need and treasure.
  • I no longer have a fear of missing out. I am content with how I have chosen to live my life. And I can celebrate what others are doing with their lives. No jealousy.
  • I can finally embrace stillness and quiet, and now relish it. Before, I always felt I had more to be doing, and couldn’t allow myself the luxury of quiet.
  • And finally, launching The Todd & Stephanie Schnick Foundation has given me the project and purpose that will fuel, sustain, and energize me until my final days.

Understand this: it took me nearly fifty years to get to this point of being ready to die. Lots of trial and error, lots of setbacks, lots of stress and agony. But guess what? I am finally there.

I also have to admit that (many) past life mistakes, my Dad’s surprisingly quick death, and the harsh realities of caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s, have given me the impetus to think (and take action) on these things.

Now, important to remember, I don’t get to coast and amble into the sunset. This life that I have built will require ongoing maintenance. This will require daily work. This will require strict discipline to keep the weeds at bay. Because if I am not careful, it can all come tumbling down.

And I am more in tune with my health, at least the desire, to get much more focused on making smarter decisions on how I eat, exercise, and work on my mental health (the former me would never have admitted I needed to work on my mental health). There is much room for improvement on living a healthier life, but honestly, I feel like with all of the above settled, I can now finally focus on it.

I am not going to claim that life is perfect. I still have bad days, I still have doubts, I still question things, I still have bad days at work, and even the work of the foundation brings a lot of frustrations. But this mindset I have achieved gives me a platform to handle these negatives in a calmer, more adult fashion. Or at least the opportunity to do so. 😉

But I must admit that it feels very satisfying to know that should I find myself suddenly on my deathbed, I would be in a place where I would be at peace, feeling that I’m leaving the Earth in a good place.

Oh, like all of us, I have regrets, but now I wouldn’t dwell on them. You cannot imagine, strange to say, the joy that brings.

I am not a fool, this place that I am in life can change. Life has a funny way of dealing new cards that shift the balance. But I feel that I am less susceptible to those kinds of harsh impacts.

As I said, it took me a long, long time to arrive at this mindset. And looking back, I am proud of the long and winding road I took to get here.

Yes, this little manifesto is to inform you of two things: Arriving at this place in life is possible, certainly so if I can get there. And you have to begin the work on it now, and become committed to it. It will be rewarding, but not easy.

At the end of the day, I can now say I am ready to die. Are you?


“Tongue-in-cheek combined with a wink” image via Shutterstock (Gill Copeland)


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Do 5 things each day

You only have to do five things each day:

  1. Read
  2. Create
  3. Move
  4. Fuel
  5. Interact.

Read.

You need to learn each day. You should be reading. I’m not necessarily talking about Page Six, but rather consume content that moves you forward with your thinking and understanding. Don’t read short-form Buzzfeed copy, rather, read long-form material that makes you learn something new. Don’t binge on mindless schmutz, instead, view a documentary that gives you a new perspective. The most successful and impactful people on Earth read every day.

Create.

Don’t just consume. You need to create something. You can write, you can journal, you can take photographs, you can play music, you can paint, you can invent and make stuff. You can identify and solve problems with your daily work and career. You can parent your children to be good citizens. You can mentor people who need the benefit of your guidance and experience. Or you can build something that serves mankind. Just don’t sit and mindlessly observe the world go by. Rather, understand what your verse will be, and write it.

Move.

Our body is made to move. It is not made to lay on a sofa or sit at a desk. I am not suggesting that you need to run a marathon each day. But move. Walk instead of drive. Take the stairs instead of the elevators. And as often as you can, get your aerobic exercise. Moving also includes stretching, breathing, and lifting weights. The cure for most things that ail us is getting that heart pumping. If you want to be agile and ambulatory in your later years, you need to keep moving. Every day.

Fuel.

Here, I mean three things: eat healthy foods, get your required sleep, and take some time for yourself. Stop having SugarPops for breakfast, and stop gnawing on CheesePuffs whilst laying on the sofa at night. Eat real foods, get your fruits and vegetables. And get your eight hours of real sleep (almost nothing is as important as this). Finally, you do need down time to recharge your batteries. Do not scrimp on this. You owe it to yourself.

Interact.

Last night, my wife and I had a six-hour meal with some friends. And it was invigorating. Human beings need social interaction, we are actually designed for it. Now, as an introvert, I certainly need my alone time, but it is actually healthy to engage with people (good for mental health). I am not talking about sitting together and watching a film silently, rather, I am talking about real discussion and active engagement. This is how we begin to improve our relationships and truly understand not just others, but ourselves.


Photo credit: Shutterstock (from 4 PM production)

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Robert Greene: The Intrepid Interview


Show notes and discussion guide:

  1. A discussion around social intelligence became the initial inspiration for this latest book…you have to learn how to understand people.
  2. Although it has always been important, it is more important than ever to understand human nature. “We’ve all become much more self-absorbed (largely as a result of technology)…”
  3. The levels of self-absorption and narcissism are increasing as a result of technology. We don’t spend enough time interacting with actual humans…and thus we lose the necessary skills to deal.
  4. Tribalism and envy are envy are increasingly prevalent, fed by social media.
  5. And while better understanding human nature is important, you MUST do the work to better understand yourself.
  6. To understand people, you need a degree of humility, so that you are not constantly judging people.
  7. You have to acknowledge your own dark side, your shadow. Yes, you have one, and understanding that about oneself, enables you to see it in others. Your shadow gains power as a result of your lack of awareness and acknowledgement of it.
  8. A discussion on how to use this book; there is so much knowledge here, it is almost impossible to implement every strategy at once.
  9. For starters, read the book cover to cover first, getting a basic sense of this new way of thinking around human nature, making key notes about elements worth exploring further down the road.
  10. “This book is meant to help you reflect upon yourself, make you look hard at yourself in the mirror.”
  11. We discuss Robert’s process in telling stories about historical figures (truly my favorite parts of his books) and the lessons we draw from their story, and how he brings these historical characters to life.
  12. “You (the reader) are history.”
  13. Can we, as a human being, actually change? (The key part of the answer is self-awareness). “You have to look deeply at your own demons.”
  14. How the “Theory of Mind” can be harnessed as a major strength, one you are likely NOT using because of your self-absorption.
  15. What are some tools and strategies that we can do TODAY to start better understanding, and leveraging, human nature? (Empathy, listening, etc…)
  16. In the book, virtually every chapter highlights a common, negative human trait, and demonstrates how we can turn them into a positive.
  17. “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better,” a quote from Abraham Lincoln. This is a key lesson in teaching us to identify opportunity in what we perceive as bad relationships with people. We are too quick to judge people…and thus, we are not doing the work to actually understand people.
  18. The importance of emotion, there is no such possible thing as “taking emotion out of it.”
  19. How narcissism can be a good thing…
  20. A final discussion that will finally help you completely understand who Donald Trump is (fascinating!).

ROBERT GREENE is an American author known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. He has written six international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature. Wikipedia




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Business Is About Making (Or Not Making) Eye Contact; An essay from Todd Schnick

Success in business (and life) starts with making eye contact.

Have you ever dined in a restaurant, or shopped in a boutique store, and when you really needed help, the staff moved all around you and somehow never made eye contact with you? I trust you have experienced this. You remember the frustration.

You’ll ask “Why won’t they look at me?”

But you do it as well.

Ever notice when someone on a street corner is asking for your help, you always KNOW how to avoid making eye contact? I mean, honestly, I get why you avoid making eye contact here, but I point out this scenario to remind you THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO AVOID MAKING EYE CONTACT WHEN YOU WANT TO.

Anyways, I am not just talking about working in a restaurant or a retail store. And to be honest, I am not even talking about making eye contact when sitting across a table visiting with a customer or sales prospect.

I am talking about paying attention…sincerely paying attention.

And it’s about listening…active listening.

We are so easily distracted these days. And we are too busy. So, what happens here is we are running in a million different directions, rather than slowing down, putting the iPhone down, concentrating, actively listening, and making eye contact.

Making eye contact is also about looking for opportunities to serve others. In that restaurant, it is glancing over at your table to see if any of your customers need anything. It’s being proactive.

If they are knee deep in conversation and their wine glasses are full, you’re good. But LOOK FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE.

Yes, this can only be done making eye contact, observing (paying attention), and listening.

Mindset plays a critical role here. If you are simply earning a paycheck, you are probably less likely to make eye contact.

But if you sincerely care about your work, looking to create a positive experience, and/or want more meaning and impact as a result of your work, you will proactively make eye contact.

It’s that simple.


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Your Decluttering Checklist; An Action Plan from Todd Schnick

You have too much clutter. You know this. But you don’t know where to start. Here is a simple checklist to get you going. Print it, and then work through one each day. Go:

  1. Your medicine cabinet. A lot of it is out of date.
  2. The junk drawer. You probably have one in multiple rooms.
  3. The sock drawer.
  4. The collection of t-shirts. Your collection here is silly.
  5. Old credit card bills. You don’t need all those.
  6. Dress shirts. Discard the worn down ones.
  7. Pots. When did you last cook with that?
  8. Coffee mugs. Remove 75% of them.
  9. That box of extension cords.
  10. All those old mobile phones. And the endless pile of charging cords.
  11. Books. The ones you will never read (or read again).
  12. Pile of magazines. If you won’t read the current issue…
  13. Coat closet. Yeah. That.
  14. Cleaning supplies. I am willing to bet you have a near empty bottle of something in there.
  15. Tax files. You only need the last seven years.
  16. Old sheets and pillow cases. Do you really want your guests to sleep on those?
  17. Batteries. Some of those are years old.
  18. Light bulbs. Do you even have that lamp anymore?
  19. Wine cellar. Some of that white wine is no longer any good.
  20. Khaki slacks. You don’t need that many. You could open a Gap with all those.
  21. Blue jeans. You haven’t been that size in years.
  22. DVDs. Give me a break.
  23. Beach towels. Seriously…how often do you go to the beach?
  24. Emails. Emails. And emails.
  25. Digital files. Oh Lord, don’t get me started.
  26. Attic. Yeah, get rid of it all.
  27. Basement. Yeah, get rid of it all.
  28. Rented storage unit. Yeah, get rid of it all. Save some money.
  29. Garage. Necessary yard maintenance tools only. And cars. Don’t forget the garage is actually for cars.
  30. Exercise room. [spits up coffee].
  31. Tool box / Work bench. Do you even know what that tool does?
  32. Old computers. Yeah, it’s not really a security threat at this stage, since it was manufactured in 1992.
  33. Extension cords. Unless you need to connect to something a mile away, you can probably get rid of a few.
  34. Holiday decorations. Come on, your children are now in their 40s.
  35. Your email addresses. When was the last time you used THAT email address?
  36. Books on Kindle. Don’t forget to delete useless books that you will never read again. Free the servers!
  37. Gift/discount cards. You know, the stack in your desk…the ones that expired eighteen months ago.
  38. Paperclips. Honestly…will you ever use those?
  39. Coins. Why aren’t those in a bank earning interest?
  40. Old photos. Man oh man, those old photos in a box in the closet must really mean something to you!
  41. The furniture in storage. If you really wanted to use it, it wouldn’t be in storage.
  42. Appointments, including those “I want to pick your brain” meetings. Do you REALLY need to spend your limited time there?
  43. Glassware. You don’t have to keep that gift.
  44. Tupperware. Seriously?
  45. Dog toys. Some of those things are pretty skanky, despite what Fido says.
  46. Old Christmas cards from previous years. And birthday cards. And Easter cards. And…
  47. Neck ties.
  48. Writing pens. You don’t have to collect all of those, especially the ones you lift from your hotel room.
  49. Actual furniture. Do you really need that piece there? Does it serve a real purpose? Was it a gift you are too chicken to eliminate?
  50. Social media accounts and profiles. Honestly, do you really need to have a presence on all those platforms?
  51. Owner’s manuals. I am willing to bet you have a manual for a piece of equipment you no longer own.
  52. Receipts. The shoe box full of those is really valuable…

What do to with all of this stuff?

  1. Trash it.
  2. Donate it.
  3. Recycle it.
  4. Sell it.

I hope this initial list helps you begin the important process of removing physical, digital, and mental clutter.

This list will continue to evolve over time. You might want to check back every now and again to see what else you can declutter. And if you have additional ideas, please address them in the comments below!

Thanks and good luck!


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Header image from Shutterstock (PRILL).

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We’re All Watching Something Different; An essay by Todd Schnick

So, I was recently on a flight from Reno/Tahoe back to Chicago O’Hare. At one point, I paused my film to take a quick break and stretch a bit. It’s a long flight after all.

Then I noticed something very interesting. I looked at all the people around me, and their seat back video monitor: They were all watching something different.

Every person.

There’s a lot of content out there: Netflix series, films, news, documentaries, this and that. And on that one airplane, we were all watching something different.

Oftentimes, one believes that EVERYBODY cares about what YOU do: watching the same films, listening to the same music, buying the same products, driving the same cars, or watching the same event, like the Oscars.

But as I observed on the plane, that isn’t happening.

Oh sure, there will be random long tail discussions around common interests on Facebook and Twitter, but really, at the end of the day, we are all watching something different.

You have to remember this when you are marketing something: an idea, a candidate, a political cause, your art, or a product.

Just accepting this fact will naturally change how you approach, think about, and develop strategy and tactics to push the narrative around your product.

Point is, it’s really, really hard to get attention. And when you do get that attention, treasure that relationship with everything you’ve got.

Don’t ever forget that. Thus endeth the lesson.

Photo from shutterstock.com (Fred Mantel).


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