For about the 12th time since I hung out a shingle in 1987, I had to overhaul the enterprise. However, I had no expectations for this latest pivot.
In the past I would obsess that the modifications I made in my communications boutique would produce the best results ever. When that didn't happen or not fast enough I defaulted into a resentment. The entity I most resented was myself. I figured I was a loser because what I had expected to happen didn't.
About eight months ago I sensed that I was going to keep earning less and less doing editorial kinds of writing. You know - that 1,500-word in-depth features. The supply of writers who could do that and for peanuts kept increasing. So, I decided to focus a whole lot more on marketing communications. I didn't know what to expect so I had no expectations.
The business began developing after about four months. Then it caught fire. I even raised my fees.
What I have figured out is that success came my way because I wasn't distracted. I didn't project what should happen. Instead I simply kept doing what needed to get done.
Remember the Oprah era. Back then we were instructed to "talk about it." If there was a conflict in the relationship, we obeyed Oprah and shared our feelings with The Other. Of course that usually created more emotional turmoil. And what bugged us never did get resolved.
Now, with the smartphone, every human being has the option of simply blocking The Other out of our lives. The trick is: We have to mean business. There is no coming back from that. Being blocked screams a message to The Other: Nonono, I don't want you in my life.
The pivot from "Let's talk" to "You're toast" probably will add years to our lives. Gone is the unnecessary wear and tear on the heart - physically and metaphorically.
For example, there's no explaining ourselves. The Millennials taught us over-50 that we are not beholden to anyone. Especially not that woman around the corner who has defaulted into giving us non-stop advice and the six-week lover who goes on non-stop about himself.
In addition, we belly up to the new visual world order that words are weak vehicles of communications. Hamlet had it right when he lamented, "Words Words Words." Instead of relying on talking it out to center myself, I can look at a sunset. Or surf Facebook for photos of delighted children at birthday parties.
And, third, we get the opportunity to assert our sense of self and freedom of choice in relationships, with no heavy lifting. Just a click will do it.
It could be the smartphone, not mindfulness, which brings that amazing gift of peace of mind. We click. We are in a state of well-being.
In spring 2014, the residential development in Connecticut where I was based didn't require 30-days notice. So, once I arranged to rent via the internet an apartment in Arizona, donated much of my furniture and books to charity, and had the car serviced, I was off. There was no long goodbye.
In my current rental situation, I had to give 30-days notice. Since I was going to have to pay a penalty for breaking the lease, I simply couldn't afford to pay double rent - that is, here in AZ and in my new destination of Ohio. So, it turned out to be the long good bye.
That has been an ordeal. And not only for me.
Other folks get tired of asking you how the move is going. And since you won't be part of their social and professional networks any more, they really do want you out of the picture.
As for me, the core of the ordeal has taken the form of having to explain over and over again why, after 27 months, I have decided the Southwest wasn't for me.
For instance, yesterday at my meditation group, I felt put on the defensive. Some members of the group challenged me to justify the decision. Others grilled me about the details of the move.
What I have concluded is if the move isn't immediate, don't announce it. Toward the departure date, yes, say good-bye to those who have mattered in our lives. The rest? Believe me, they really don't care much. It's likely they won't even notice that we are gone.
On August 28th, the wagon train pulls out. For others and myself, that seems light years away.
Research shows that we tend to earn less as we age. And, when we retire or even semi-retire, we will be on a restricted budget. That's why many of us Baby Boomers are considering relocation. The cost of living where we are living is making us lose sleep at night.
USA Today presents a list of states where our dollar stretches. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, they range from Mississippi to Ohio.
No surprise, New York and New Jersey are where the dollar buys less than a dollar's worth.
" ... the biggest indie movement of the World Wide Web's first 25 years."
And movements serve to empower people. As founding editor of Gawker, Spiers helped to push the boundaries of traditional gossip journalism. That proved both influential and profitable. It will be debated for a long time what finally killed that innovation. In New York Magazine, Max Read looks at many aspects of that issue.
Meanwhile, while some such as Spiers and her colleagues at Gawker made it huge, Everyman/Everywoman who had understood how to operate the new medium of blogging finally could digitally worm our way into the global conversation. The challenge was: sticking with it. Too many got bored or unwilling to invest the energy to creating unique content. They stopped. They went mute.
Blogging will remain a communications powerhouse. Only it can no longer function as a silo. Those with a point of view or product/service to sell also have to leverage myriad other communications tactics. At the top of the list of those is the ability to repurpose material across many platforms.
Ever since "Social Network" made founding a startup The Cool, many enterprises much less successful than Facebook have become a kind of public nuisance.
Yesterday, one contacted me about doing one 500-word financial article a week for about 10-cents a word. Not quite a plum assignment. The vetting process was proceeding as if I were being considered for a lifetime justice positon on the U.S. Supreme Court.
I got out of that force field as fast as I could.
My regret is that I did not end the tedious conversation by reporting to the founder on the phone that Martians had just landed on my lawn. I had to get out there and provide a proper welcome.
In a world order that's become totally volatile, the fundamentals of crisis communications are as well known as how to text. Even small businesses, such as mine, develop a plan.
Yet, Lewis and Clark Law School, reports lawyer-journalist, Kathryn Rubino, in Abovethelaw, didn't even comply with the first essential step: Disclose immediately that a crisis exists and share all the information that is known at that time. Promise ongoing updates.
The nature of the crisis was that the answer sheets for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) were stolen. They had been in the trunk of the car of the MPRE site coordinator.
There was no immediate disclosure of this event to internal or external constituencies. Yet, the damage involved was huge.
For one thing, those who took the test will have to take it again. Talk about twice-fried stress.
In addition, as one test-taker told Rubino, social security numbers had been compromised. Yet, the test-takers had not been informed of that for nearly a week. During that time they could have embarked on preventive measures for identity theft.
Lewis & Clark has offered to refund the test-takers' money and to provide re-take dates. Usually in crisis management, much more of a make-good is created and announced. Also, is its legal team addressing the issue of alleged negligent supervision in this tragic situation for test-takers? That should also have been shared with the media.
Takeaway: Law schools should have a detailed crisis management plan already done. A key part of that is the list of channels for immediate communications of the event. For Lewis & Clark that should have ranged from internal parties such as students to the media such as Abovethelaw.
Job number-one when starting to work for our new boss or client is this: figuring out what makes that professional tick. That provides what we need to know in order to get the relationship on-track. After all, success is mostly about soft skills, such as aligning our communication patterns with what they are used to.
That job is easiest when the other professional is a narcissist or totally self-absorbed. What they want, ranging from praise to total agreement with their brilliant strategy, is obvious. We dish it up and things go well.
Right now, as Molly Fisher points out in New York Magazine, narcissism has a bad reputation. But, that could be over-simplifying. I'd opt to do business with a narcissist sooner than a less obvious player.
A lot harder or impossible is to decode those who aren't narcissists. They are complex. And usually cunning enough to conceal their agenda under layers of subterfuge. Their game is so good that we are usually thrown off our game. In fact, we don't even have enough data to put on the right game face. No, we can't pander.
The positive result of that, of course, is that the quality of what we produce for them tends to be better. That's because we don't know what would make them feel good. So we have to invest a lot more effort to just doing the task right.
Obviously, narcissists limit their game. But, if we are an employee or a consultant, that's to our advantage. Our game is easier. So, it's naïve to put the knock on narcissists who have the authority to hire us. In fact, we should seek them out as a future bosses and clients.