Being the Gift You Are

Posted on Aug 18, 2016 by in Work

Sometimes, I am just blown away by who people are. I share with you here a letter from a fellow member of the Kappa Alpha Society (not the Order, of recent ill repute):

Hi A++os Herz,
I hope your summer has been going brilliantly. I have finished my internship in India working with drones and am back in the USA. I am proud to say I learned a lot and am very excited to see what my field holds for me in the future. I am now trying to figure out what my immediate plan is post graduation. I am debating between a master's, a job, or having my own startup. I eventually would like to have my own startup, a drone services firm, but I understand the amount of work that it takes. I am a passionate and actionable person, so I think this is a viable option for me soon.

I am very interested in University of Pennsylvania's Masters of Urban Spatial Analysis, and was wondering if you had any advice for me to have a leg up in this admissions process.
As for jobs, the firms you shared with me are both very exciting, and to work with either of them would be a very good fit for me. I also wanted to know if you had any contacts at . . . ?

These are my ideas, and any thoughts would be appreciated.

A++ S++

I think you are missing something huge here, and that is that you are a gift to these companies. Your energy, your desire, your interest, your love for this field are apparent.

Most companies are desperate for qualified people. They advertise a position (they hate to do that), and hundreds of people apply that think they can do anything that is within a hundred miles of the work. The company reluctantly sifts through resumes to find the few that will take the least training to be acceptable for their purposes, and will have to waste time training, and then be left wondering if this person is going to split when the thing he really wants comes along.

And now you come along, and give them the chance to avoid all this initial pain. You are the Gift. You have to get that.

As to the startup, it is a tough road to travel, but can have great upsides as well. But here's the thing, you can bring a startup mentality to your job (I've heard it called Entreployee and Intrapreneur), and create unlimited pathways to growth within a job.

The other benefit of having a job is making your mistakes on someone else's dime, and having colleagues who can support you. A mentor is a fine thing to have, and you might be better able to find and interact with one when you work for someone else.

As I think about it, you might even want to choose your job based on the mentor-ship and community that will be available. This is the community that will be yours for the rest of your career; so you might as well start with the best. They say that a big chunk of Silicon Valley came out of the startup that was PayPal.

That said, a master's might also make sense. But again, why do it on your own dime? Why not find a job in the Philly area doing the work you love, and have your employer sponsor your master's. I don't know how viable this is, but it could be a good fit if you can balance the demands of the two. You could do your research in an area with direct applicability to your work. But even to this, you could bring the Intrapreneur mindset. Get on a project with your adviser that will feed into the network I suggest below. Then take it with you.

What's clear, to me at least, is that you should not wait for job openings to apply to the companies that interest you. You should get clear on your unique value proposition, and let them know you are available. You should also talk to as many people in these companies as you can, after you've done as much research as you can, and get their pain points, and what you could do to alleviate them.

If you do it right, you could even make a business of being the connector in your industry as you start to go deep in these companies. For instance, as you are talking to one and get his pain, you might be talking to another and get his solution. Then you start the Spatial Analysis newsletter to share ideas. You get on their radar every two weeks with another interesting article (it doesn't have to be one you wrote), you let them know you are there to field their questions and find answers, and you become the go to guy in the field. You bring on a few other experts to contribute, and soon you are the Huffington Post of Spatial Analysis, bringing in the planning people, the equipment people, the software people, the other disciplines that integrate with yours.

It's just an idea. Right now, it looks like you are coming from a conversation of scarcity, when there is an abundance of possibility around you. I've written about it elsewhere, and it's not my idea anyway, but your path forward would be well served if you become an idea machine. See my friend James Altucher for more on this. And you don't have to buy his stuff to get a ton of value. I particularly love his weekly podcast.

So I don't know folks at . . . . The fact that I know anyone close to this industry is a fluke, but hey, there are a lot of flukes out there, and if you just reach out a little more, you'll probably find you are connected in many more ways than you could imagine.

And if you are ready to go to work on this now, I invite you to:

Schedule Your Conversation Now

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A Birthday Blessing

Posted on Jul 25, 2016 by in Personal

A good friend, a Ms. Cathy Roussel, shared this quote for Sharleen's Birthday Book I loved it so much I've printed it in A3 and it's the one thing on my wall in the office. I'm taking on the parts in bold.

“So, in a context of making the world work for everyone, and having that as the opportunity to create that as the context for our lives, we find we then have the power to create as the principle of our living that who we are makes a difference. That it really counts who we are.
“You see, I am quite clear that I'm never going to be the same. It's not going to be day by day, tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace. Yes, it's true, that like you, I'm going to go back to the circumstances I left. But I'll never be the same because my life will be lived in a context of my own creation . . . the only way one can have a context. My life will never be the same, because I'll have the power to shape and form my own life because I'll have the power to create the basic principles of my life. I will not go out to find out if I make a difference. I will live my life out of the principle I make a difference! And for that, I will never be the same.

“You and I…listen to this…you and I can choose to make humanity…you and I can choose to make the success of all humanity our personal business. You and I can choose to make our daily business, what we wake up for, what we go to work for, what we come home for, what we go out for, what we do the things we do in life for…you and I can choose to make as our personal business the success of all humanity. You talk about being alive. You talk about getting up with a sense of purpose. You talk about having dignity. You and I have a great, an incredible opportunity. We have the opportunity to make the success of all humanity our personal business. We can choose to be audacious enough to be responsible for the whole human family. At that level of audacity, you are truly alive. You are out there, you have swung out, you've stepped out, you have put yourself out, and you got it on the line.
We can choose to make our love for each other what our lives are really about.

Werner Erhard, A World That Works For Everyone, 1980

And if you're in a place where you're looking to choose what your life is really about, or you'd like to share in what I've chosen, and you just need a little push to get you on the right path, I am here to help:

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On the Occasion of Sharleen's Birthday

Posted on Jun 29, 2016 by in Relationships

I answer a lot of questions on Quora about relationships. I've answered more than a few on how do you know you are in love. So here I share how love looks for me:

Sharleen: “Are you Jewish?”
Me: “That depends. How Jewish are You?”
Sharleen: “Well, both of my parents are Jewish.”
Me: “I guess I'm not Jewish enough for You then.”

I suppose we knew in an instant where this might lead. While we've come a long way since then, some things don't change. I still want to call you a hundred times a day. You are still my best friend and the person I most want and love to play with.

You generate Love and Care and Beauty without thinking about it. It is who you are. You are the instant mother to a whole troupe of Lone Soldiers. You are the daughter who shifts everything in your life so you can go to a doctor's appointment with your mother in Jerusalem. You are the Mom who becomes an English teacher because heck, the school needs one. You are the Awesome Mom who has gotten up a thousand times to cook in the morning so that your kids have a solid breakfast and a proper lunch. You can't help but welcome Shabbat with meals fit for royalty.

You don't do anything in half measures. If you're going to make a hat, well cashmere it is. If you want to give someone jewelry, you make it yourself. You give people their smile back, giving them back a piece of themselves. You've heard of pre-made food, but that's not your style. It bothers you if it's not your own Challah on the table. Your food is the best, your kiddushes above and over and for everyone you can think to invite. Your house is the warmest.

You believe in people. We say that the only thing a child needs is to know his parent has his back. Our kids know that, without reserve. You have read all seven Harry Potter books to your children three times, in addition to many, many other books. You show up whenever your children have an event or a need, a new belt in Judo, a project day, another parent for the trip. You show your children how to be children, sometimes to their chagrin. You dance harder. You've been the fourth for four-square. You've played enough games of Monopoly to last you a lifetime, and yet you're still up for a game when your children call.

You've produced more Landmark programs than we can remember. You have touched literally thousands of lives. You have given people new leases on life, new relationships, a new space to be with that which is important in their lives. You have generated, again, and again, and again, your relationship with your mother, with your sister, and with the people you work and live with. You listen for what's important, and you bring that. You're a Giant, and you never think it's enough.

It's said that what distinguishes a Navy Seal is that when he has given all he has, and can't move another muscle, if a buddy is in need, he finds what he needs to keep going. You'd have made a damned fine Navy Seal.

And You continue to bring your Goofy Smile. That was our first moment, and I forget it sometimes. I don't always give you the space to smile like that, but it's that smile, and your faith in me, especially when I so often lack the faith in myself, that has made our life together possible.

Thank You for staying around so that I can Choose You, over and over again, so that I can look at my wife and partner, who seems to get sexier every time I look at her, and have something to wake up for every morning.

You're amazing. At some level you get that. My blessing for you is that you should be present to that every day of your life. You should get the gift you are to the world, and have the freedom to always let that shine.

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Thank You for being the person who is constantly willing to generate the rest of your life with me. It's an honor and a privilege to hold that space.

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Permission to Be

Posted on Jun 20, 2016 by in Personal, Personal

or “Why I am a Landmark Junkie”

Landmark Worldwide is a company committed to reliably delivering that which makes a real difference in people's lives. It accomplishes this through its transformational courses, the foundation of which is the Landmark Forum.

Landmark has been a big part of my life, and especially of the things that work in my life for more than 21 years. Most anyone who spends more than a token amount of time with me will hear me talk about the Landmark Forum. So I thought I'd explain a little bit about why. Now I can point you here instead of trying to come up with it over and over again.

The main reason: I'm with the same woman, Sharleen, twenty years on, and Landmark has given us the ability to play with each other, to laugh with—and at—each other, to not take ourselves too seriously, and to see how damned big we are in the world.

We have four amazing kids, and who we are with and for them comes from what we have learned at Landmark. From Landmark, we have taken on practices of acknowledging our children, and learned to listen for what is truly important.

I get to be with myself. Twenty one years in, and I am still noticing where the little voice in my head (others might call them internal dialogues or hidden scripts) are keeping me from creating the world I want. And when I notice them, I can deny them their power.

For instance, less than two weeks ago, I noticed I've got one about how “I've got to do it alone. ” Noticing it let me give it up. For the first time, I created a team around a goal in my life I've been pursuing for 20 years. Also out of that, I met with someone about forming a pretty neat partnership. These would not have happened without this work.

For the new year, I created the possibility of being Active, Present, and Alive. By the end of January, I'd been to Germany and visited with my cancer-stricken Aunt and Uncle (he's now dead), five first cousins, and five more of their family, most of whom I hadn't seen this millennium.

I get to forgive myself. This one is the hardest for me. I often feel that—except for my family—my past is a sea of mistakes, lost chances and missed opportunities.

From Landmark, I see that my playing the victim of this past robs me of my future. It's a place I easily go, but I have the tools, and the partners, to notice this sick game. When I do that, I can actually create bold new futures.

I can lean into my fear. The first thing that I notice when I create a new future is the gap between where I am and that which I am inventing. The next thing I want to do is throw my hands up and walk away.

But I get that's only the little voice in my head, the child who was embarrassed, who failed, who wasn't enough, trying to keep me safe.

And I notice I am 47 and I don't need the conversations of my naive and scared younger to run my life today. I can say “I am scared, ” and act anyway.

In short, I can give myself Permission to Be the great person that I always suspected was inside there somewhere, but was too afraid to let out. He's actually far more powerful than I ever imagined.

So I share because I think a world of empowered, present people, people who are up to big things, people who lean into their fear, people who are willing to create the world they want to see, to borrow a phrase “to be the change they'd like to see in the world ” (M. Ghandi), would be a great world to live in.

I share because I know anyone who wants to be this has it available to him.

It's worth it. That's all. If you see yourself in this, and can find a way to afford it, it's a gift you really should give yourself.

All My Best,

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How to Leave Your Ex Behind

Posted on May 19, 2016 by in Advice, Relationships, Advice, Ending Relationships
How to Leave Your Ex Behind

Photo by: Ihor Malytskyi

This is an excerpt from my guide, Manning Up: The Guide to Get You Back in the Relationship Game.

First, you will not forget your ex, but until you complete your relationship with her, it is likely to haunt you. (I wrote this originally for guys; if you're not a guy, just switch the pronouns: it should work just as well.)

So here's what I suggest:

  1. Thank Her: Sit down and write a letter to her thanking her for every little thing she did with and for you. Acknowledge her for how she made you feel, and for who she was for you.
  2. Forgive Her: Make a list for yourself of every way you think you have been slighted by her. Consider that any and all of these things might have come from a place that had nothing to do with you. Maybe she slept with someone else because of her own insecurity, not something that had anything to do with you. Write down at least one reason for each of those things that would make it not about you.
  3. Forgive Yourself: You are human. You make mistakes. You screw things up. You might have just killed the best thing you ever had, and just now come to realize it. But as long as you hang on to this, you will not have any chance to see the next great thing, the one that could be ten times better than the best you've ever had. As long as you entertain any conversation that you are a screw up, you will not give yourself permission to be fully in the next relationship. That's a shame, because you deserve a great relationship. So write down every way you were a dick (excuse my language), maybe note where that came from, forgive yourself, and make a commitment not to do that again.
  4. Acknowledge Yourself Give yourself credit for everything you were and brought to the relationship. You are great. Notice all the things you did to build the relationship you had. And thank yourself for that. And note that even if your ex didn't get it or appreciate it, you made a difference. And get that that passion was not wasted. Maybe misdirected, but not wasted. Don't let that go. It's part of what makes you the amazing person you are.
  5. Learn from Her: Take on that maybe you did have something to do with every thing that happened. I know this sounds the opposite of a previous point; it's not. It's not that anything was wrong or your fault; it's that if you take on that you are cause in the matter, you actually can choose to come from somewhere else. Maybe she slept with someone else because she wasn't feeling loved by me. Where could I bring love into the next relationship so that doesn't happen again?
  6. Get that the Next one is NOT YOUR EX: We are human. We look for patterns. We get burned. We say “Aha, I'm not going to let that happen again.” The problem is we start looking for “that.” When we look, we find it. This will kill your love life. I'm not saying be stupid. But don't be suspicious for no reason. That would just be some bad experience haunting you now. Don't let it.
  7. Get that the next one is Different: Even if she's your ex's identical twin, she reacts and thinks and loves and hurts diffently. You can not expect to know anything about her because you know anything about humanity, or women, or even her school or family. Let her suprise you.

As a bonus opportunity, you could actually call your ex and ask her if there is any advice she has for you. Thank her for all the stuff in number 1 above. Ask forgiveness, especially if you think it was all her fault. Ask her please to share with you everything that plugged her in or turned her off. There's probably a ton of stuff you just didn't notice.

Only do this if you can avoid reacting or getting angry. You want to learn here so you can be better in the future. Then finally ask her, “What's the one piece of advice, that if I got it, you think would make the biggest difference for me in my next relationship?” and listen like your love life depends on it.

Then thank her and move along. This should be enough to get you complete. If it's not, you've probably got other conversations about relationships not distinguished. If that's the case, then write down everything you say, or even hear, about relationships. Then look at each item and ask yourself if it's true. You'll notice that there are a lot of conversations in the background that could be getting in the way. But the neat thing is, the minute you notice them, you can let them be, and not let them have power over you. You can choose to come from some place else instead.

And once you've got that behind you, come follow me on Facebook, where I share a regular word of encouragement, sprinkled with some questions for a better date.