Isn’t it remarkable that succeeding often doesn’t come down to how good your plan is but how quickly you get started and how long you persist?

Failure Method:  Need to do more research.  Have to check with a friend.  Haven’t had the time to think things through.

Success Formula:  Here’s what I want to do, let me start now.  I’ll divide things up into small projects.  I’ll stay with it even if nothing happens.

The benefit of failing is it tells you how badly you want something and what price you are willing to pay in persistence to get it.

Words to Ban

I can’t

I won’t

If only

Problem (they cause stress)



I hate


Fear of Failing

Fear of failing is understandable – it doesn’t feel good.

Except that the only way to succeed is to learn from failures.

No one wins all the time – some do better than others but not by that much.

  • If you’re not failing, you’re not succeeding – you’re playing it safe to protect your feelings.
  • Times at bat matter – the more swings you take, the more chances you get to connect.
  • Everyone has a number – the number of times it takes to succeed.

Replace the fear of failing with the fear of not trying hard enough because the more lessons learned, the more success is earned.

Conquer Your Phone

Thank God 2020 is over and yet the good news is we made it and no matter what we were resilient.

Now off to conquering our iPhones and Androids – taking charge, showing them who the boss is and Axios writer Scott Rosenberg has the plan:

  • On an iPhone, go to “Settings” then “Notifications.” (On Android, it’s usually “Settings,” then “Apps & Notifications.”)
  • See the long list of apps? Turn every single one of them to “Notifications off.”
  • Then, and only then, go through the list a second time and ask yourself, “Do I really need this notification?”
  • If you do, turn it back on.

Phones have become so much of life and a pandemic that is conductive to staring at screens more often didn’t make it much better.

Our new digital goal:  Make the phone a tool that you control and not a way of life in which we lose control.

Adversity & Dealing with Difficult People

My NYU music business students spend part of their classes with me developing skills on managing fear, worry and anxiety and human relations.

They are already on their way to being successful in the music business, but will they be happy?  That’s a question for all of us to think about.

  • Just as winning the lottery has proven again and again it does not live up to the fantasy, earning more money at work doesn’t always bring happiness.
  • Isn’t it interesting? We go to college to learn skills that will make us richer but often don’t learn how to handle adversity or to deal with difficult people.

It is just as important to make a life as it is to make a living.

Saving Time

Alan Lakein, the author of personal time management book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life  

He’s big on planning (“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.Failing to plan is planning to fail.”)

He lists 61 ways he saves time – here’s a sampling:

  • #7 — I remind myself:“There is always enough time for the important things”.  If it’s important I will make the time to do it.
  • #16 – I’ve given up forever all “wait time”.If I have to wait, I consider it a “gift of time” to relax, plan or do something I would not otherwise have done.
  • #27 – I do first things first.
  • #31 – I ask myself, “Would anything terrible happen if I didn’t do this priority item”.If the answer is no, I don’t do it.
  • #61 – I’m continually asking myself:“What is the best use of my time right now?”

I love Lakein’s famous quote:

Time = Life, Therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.

Stress Reduction

Often the things that cause stress just linger and we wind up adding them to our lives.

So, we try everything from meditation to exercise, therapy to medication yet there is one way to make a dent in stress with half the effort and side effects.

People usually can’t recite the major sources of fear and worry in their lives.

They just pile stressors one on top of the other and admit to being stressed out.

  • Focusing on a handful of top anxieties actually can make the quickest difference.
  • Work getting to you? Work smarter and get more rest.
  • Other people’s problems getting YOU down? Put a stop/loss on adding their stress to yours?
  • Worried about the future? Stay busy as most of what we worry about never happens.

It’s funny – we know the things we like and try to work them into our routine as much as possible.

Identifying the specific things that are making us miserable allows us to do as few of them as possible.

Picking Friends Out of a Lineup

The word friend has become corrupt in a world of social media likes and follows.

  • Does anyone actually have 50 friends, or 100 or thousands? Or are they followers, interlopers, outliers?
  • Imagine if you could see your friends in a lineup like the police use to identify suspects. Who would you choose out of that lineup?

Separating friends who you would readily identify keeps things real.

Knowing who deserves your time, interest and love is a big step toward valuing something that has become devalued in the digital age.

Bolstering friendships doesn’t take a police lineup, but it does involve making a choice.

2 Words People Love

“Better” and “important”.

Politicians, advertisers and just about everyone substitutes the word “change” even when people who want it find that they really don’t like change.

  • But everyone loves “better” so not promising change but emphasizing “better” is a universal attention getter. After all, “change” is scary even if we want and need it.  But “better” accomplishes the same thing without the fear.
  • Same for “in-depth”. It suggests substance and knowledge but few will stick around long enough to let the in-depth information sink in.  Few read in-depth articles or join discussions that require such an investment in time.
  • Better to say “important” because everyone listens when “important” is followed by something that is actually “important”.

Length is not what makes something “important”, it’s the actual value.

Words matter because people respond to some and are repelled by others even if what they reject is the promise of something good.

Accumulated Anxiety

Here’s a sample of how anxiety from within and from others can pile on top of each other and a way to put it in its place:

  • A sickness adds concern for a loved one, bills pile up, a pandemic changes everything, health concerns on top of that, working at home, worries about not being good enough…
  • Instead of accumulating things that make you anxious, give one away every time to accept a new one – don’t add more. Managing what’s left by staying busy and being grateful.

Just being aware of how anxiety creeps into our life, can prevent it from multiplying.