There was a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about our holiday gifting habits.

We’re giving more gifts to ourselves!

The NPD Group survey cited 32% of consumers had already purchased gifts for themselves this season with a little more than two weeks before Christmas.

Before the recession, 12% of consumers admitted to self-gifting.  Last year 19% told NPD that they intended to buy gifts for themselves but after the holidays that number rose to 26%.

There is certainly nothing wrong with buying gifts for ourselves especially since most people push their budgets to also buy many gifts for others.  (Only 18% of those surveyed this year said they weren’t going to shop at all).

Self-gifting is not new.  What may be news is that it is on the rise.

But while we are considering that special holiday gift for ourselves, here are gifts that cost us nothing and bring benefits all year long:

  1. The gift acceptance that we are human therefore not perfect and will remind ourselves of it often in the year ahead.
  2. The gift of forgiveness not only to others but to ourselves as well.  Anger and resentment can fester inside.  It’s not worth it.  Let it go and be free.
  3. The gift of adventure.  If we were told we had only 3 years left to live, we would likely live it differently and more meaningfully.  Why wait?  See life’s ups and downs as an adventure because the lows accentuate the highs and the highs are the reward for the lows.
  4. The gift of time.  Given to others, it is a precious commodity these days.  When we give ourselves time to enjoy life, our friends and family we make everyone happy.
  5. The gift of appreciation.  No one can be depressed while they are in the process of appreciating others or something special that has happened to us.  Go ahead and give this gift as many times a day as possible.

“A hug is the perfect gift; one size fits all, and nobody minds if you exchange it.”

But let’s also remember to give ourselves a hug more often.

Thanks for sharing my daily thoughts with friends and associates.  Feel free to post this link to your website if you’d like to spread the positive word.

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The Bet That is Always a Sure Thing

I was out of work, out of money and out of luck.

That’s when Malcolm P. Rosenberg, a friend of mine in Philadelphia called me to his law office and handed me an envelope with $5,000 in it.

I said, “I can’t take this”.

He said, “You’re down on your luck but you are a winner and I’m betting on you”.

I left his office empty handed because I couldn’t see a way that I could repay my friend then or ever.

My mortgage payment was due at week’s end and I didn’t have the money to pay it.  Malcolm called me back to his Center City office and broached the subject again.

“It’s just a loan, if you can’t repay it, you don’t have to.  I’m betting on you”.

I shook his hand, took the money this time and was never asked to sign any paper that required that it be repaid.

You can probably guess the rest of the story.

I survived long enough to get my radio career back on track with a major market radio station.  I was able to repay my friend well beyond his original investment.

And I learned a life’s lesson.

Never bet against anyone – it’s a sucker’s bet.

Bet on people.

Bet on yourself when you are down because you’ve done it before and can do it again.

Then, push forward and do the same for someone else when they are down on their luck.

It’s not easy to admit to being so low that you had to take a handout to survive. 

But I had to do it. 

What I am proud of is not disappointing myself or the person who believed in me when my confidence wavered. 

“Luck is the residue of design” – Branch Rickey

Make your own good luck by betting on yourself.

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  • Excellent story and good advice. How refreshing to know that there are people out there…..friends who can be counted on in the least expected of times.

  • Excellent story and good advice. How refreshing to know that there are people out…..friends who can be counted on in the least expected of times.
    Jaime Sanchez

  • what a great story
    the thin about you Jerry is that you celebrate the spirit of Christmas all year round…
    pal joey 

Dealing With Difficult People

Life can be miserable when we are spending part or all of our days with difficult people. 

If you work with them, sometimes you can quit. 

But it’s not so easy to fire the family.


Putting their own self-interests ahead of yours or the group.

All talk, no listening.

Unwilling to bend, give or compromise.

Bullying behavior to dominate the discussion.


Not about to keep commitments.

We don’t know anyone like that, do we?

Here’s the antidote:

  1. Don’t let their anger, incite your anger.  Walk away and get yourself together.
  2. Don’t react.  Respond.  Think it through first.  Avoid smartphones, email, text messages while you are cooling it for a moment.
  3. Change gears if it is within your power to do so by changing the conversation and stopping the diatribe. 
  4. Difficult people win every time they make us angry, so it’s best to think about how they got to us and address it effectively.  When we do this, they fail every time.

PaperClip Communications warns of the fine line between having confidence in dealing with difficult people and giving attitude:

Confidence serves as armor. When you sow confidence you are displaying the ability to communicate and respond to information with poise, calm, and self-reliance.

Attitude serves as a weapon. When you give some “attitude” it can come off as an attack mechanism against the doubt or lack of confidence you may actually be feeling.  And, when you use this “weapon” it can sometimes be perceived as being difficult.

“A simple rule in dealing with those who are hard to get along with is to remember that this person is striving to assert his superiority; and you must deal with him from that point of view” – Alfred Adler

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Be a More Effective Leader in One Day

No one wants to follow a person who only has eyes for themselves.

It’s hard to make sacrifices for those who seem more interested in what they get from your efforts instead of what everyone gets.

As a disc jockey, I worked for a program director who installed a direct line into the studio to chew you out after every mistake.  Since you can’t have a telephone ring while a microphone may be open, this boss hooked the phone up to a 150 watt floodlight.

I can still feel the heat of that light flashing to this day.

A real leader begins with praise and honest appreciation.

This is the key to motivation.

It is impossible for one’s ears to remain closed when they are listening to some form of praise and appreciation.

So try it for a day.

No big announcements.

Just a little private experiment.

Try to use this one-two punch before asking someone to do something for you: 1) begin with sincere praise;  2) show appreciation.

Keep a tally and see if in one day you haven’t discovered what great leaders already know or as Dale Carnegie put it:

“Praise a man (person) for what he does well, then gradually help him with his shortcomings.  This method will work in an office, in a factory, in one’s home, with wife (spouse), children and parents, with almost anyone in the world.”

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Is There Such A Thing As Too In Touch

I heard a report on NPR yesterday that one-third of the 18-34 year old demographic confessed to using their mobile devices in the bathroom.

In fact, 9 percent of iPhone water damage comes from – well, accidently dropping their phones in the toilet.

I’m not sure there is much difference – except sanitary considerations – from reading a newspaper on the john and texting someone.

The real issue is not connectivity.

It’s balance.

And in a digital world people are so connected that it begs for more balance.

No time to disconnect and think.

This is personal and different for everybody.

As a Professor of Music Industry at USC I asked my students to give up their cellphones and iPods for two days.  They did it reluctantly.

When they reported back to their class on what happened when they went analog, many confessed to enjoying the respite although every student couldn’t wait to get their digital devices back.


Quality of communication instead of tonnage.

Manageable and meaningful social networks not just large lists from which to harvest “friends”.

These issues have always been critical to effective communication even before the digital age.

Scott Peck reminds us “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”

We can multitask some things but we cannot multitask and effectively communicate.

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  • @Scott Simon Thank you, Scott.  I appreciate it.

  • Ah, the bathroom and media usage. Always used that when pitching radio in the old days, “Who can watch TV in the shower using electricity?” The battery is the most under-appreciated app!
    Jerry, love your articles. Good luck with your upcoming conference. I’ll pass along the word about it to people who really need a lifeline in their job and career.