Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn or a Mark Manson F*ck
Sep 28 2016

squirrels-nutsmasteIt’s an unconventional title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life(amazon link), but it’s an insightful, irreverent, and hilarious book that’s not too trite, sappy, or “duh, who doesn’t already know that!” kind of read. It seems to be about how so many of us get hung up on the wrong things and make ourselves and potentially others in our social solar system miserable. He helps the reader figure out what they really should give a f*ck about instead of wasting time and energy measuring their success or failures using other peoples metrics instead of their own.

He suggests if we go through life being uncertain about everything, including our adamant beliefs about ourselves and others, as well as accept our idiosyncrasies and human flaws, we will be much happier.  I suck at directions, and that’s OK!

Those who are absolutely certain about things tend never to achieve lasting happiness because really, as most of us know, nothing is certain and disappointment is inevitable.  As a person who practices yoga, self-learning, appreciates the teachings of the Buddha, was raised Episcopal/Southern Baptist, and performs much less mental self-flagellation than I used to, the concepts Manson discusses resonate with me.

It’s a much more upbeat read than the must read book Man’s Search for Meaning(amazon link) by Viktor Frankel, a psychiatrist who writes about concentration camp survivors. Those who made it through the experience (if they weren’t randomly killed) had something they really gave a f*ck about. Those who didn’t were more likely to be measuring success by using metrics that didn’t fit the situation in which they found themselves (i.e., the drastically unfortunate cards they were dealt). I think the lessons in Frankel’s and Manson’s books are similar, but Manson uses many more F-Bombs and has modernized it to address our current more whiny “first world problems,” because, fortunately, almost none of us Gen X’ers and Millennials had to survive a horrific concentration camp!

Other posts I’ve written on self-exploration that may be useful to new/future readers are:

Wow, I didn’t realize how much I wrote about this sappy, self-help, existential crisis stuff! But I think all that writing and creating of songs I did was better than doing the 100+ less emotionally, physically, spiritually, medically healthy things I could have done while processing all that painful personal growth, trying to stay a mostly sane mother, and not turning into a raging HULK. Haha! Thanks to my readers who actually read my ramblings and still remained readers! 😛

Based on who you ask and when you ask them, I am much happier, tolerant, understanding, and calmer (unless provoked/poked while I’m under duress!) than I used to be even 3 to 5 years ago, which likely explains why I post much less frequently.  I’ve learned to tame some of those demons (who never fully disappear), set better boundaries (which Manson mentions in his book), be OK with my human failings by relying on GPS, and try to make better choices largely thanks to the kindness, support, and understanding of my numerous truly amazing friends and certain great family members. Just like Manson and most of us, I am constantly learning what to give a f*ck about based on where I am in life. I’ve gotten better at letting the rest of it flow on by just like the river in Siddhartha(amazon link) by Herman Hesse.

I’ll be interested to see how Manson’s views change if/after he has kids. Those new humans can cause you to question your entire life in a mostly sleep deprived state as well as pummel your a$$ affirming how little we really know/understand about ourselves or tiny humans!  He also discusses the “fear of death” in his book. Ironically, I fear pain more than I fear death. I fear dying before my kids are on their own, and I can’t even think about anything bad happening to them because then I might as well be dead.

I highly suggest you read this book because I care enough about all of you (even if I don’t know you) that I don’t want you to embody this quote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Shifting Agreements
Apr 12 2009

One of the distinctions discussed in the Landmark Advanced Course is one of Agreements.  These aren’t agreements that you sign like contracts, these are social agreements on how the majority agrees to act around certain issues.  Some of the most notable social Agreements that have changed over time are how we as a society agree to treat women, Black, and gay people.  These shifts affect our lives, our businesses, our entrepreneurial endeavors whether we are consciously aware of them or not.

Not too long ago women did not have the right to vote or were not easily able to work outside of the home.  If they did try to work outside of the home, they were also expected to keep the home front in complete order.  If you transported a man or woman out of the 1950’s to today, they would be shocked at the amount of freedom women have thanks to the women’s movement.  They also might be surprised how day care, store hours, and business flex time schedules have changed to accommodate working women.

Same goes for Black people and gay people.  Not too long ago Black people couldn’t drink from the same water fountains, use the same bathrooms, or eat at the same restaurants as White people.  Not too long ago it was taboo to be gay.  It was considered an abomination, a sin and in many places it still is, but no one can argue that the perception has shifted.  If you watch TV or see the movies, gay people are showing up everywhere!  Mixed race couples were also frowned upon and yet now you see many more mixed couples (race, religion, ethnicity).

So much has changed and it’s because of the people (entrepreneurs, change agents) who took it upon themselves to help make the shift.  The interesting and ironic thing is that the people who tended to resist the shift the most early on are the people who were afraid of changing what they felt was the ‘right’ lifestyle.  Some of the biggest resistors to the women’s movement were women!  Women who were happy (or told they should be happy) living the stay-at-home-with-kids lifestyle looked down on the women who wanted to work and be treated as equals.  I saw an Oprah show once where a stay at home mom actually said she felt that women who chose to work loved their children less than those who chose to stay at home!

In other parts of the world, where horrible practices like foot binding in China or female circumcision in certain African tribes occurred, the older women were the ones fighting the hardest not to change the practices because in some strange way they found comfort in familiarity and felt if they had to go through it why shouldn’t the next generation?!  The psychology behind these extreme behaviors is mind boggling, but we humans are creatures of habit.

The uneducated Black people were among the many who would by their behavior hold back other Black people from a well deserved education and prosperity.  I dare say there were many closet gay people who often fought against gay rights because it might expose them.

Agreements shift in business as well.  What one generation thinks is OK in business, the other does not or they modify the agreements slightly to make things work for them.  I believe we are living in part of a shift right now in thinking on how things should operate on Wall Street and on the US Capitol Hill.

The shifters consist of entrepreneurs, politicians, and well known leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Gloria Steinham, Carly Fiorini, Indra Nooyi, Indira Ghandi, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (first female priminister in the world who happened to be from Sri Lanka – where I was born), the Pope, and all the change agents whose names we may never know but who have a profound affect on their businesses/communities which in turn affects cities, countries, and the world. [Yes, that sentence was way too long!]

These shifters see something in society that is missing or needs to be changed (from technology to social policy) and they begin the shift…most likely not even realizing the role they are playing at the time in making the sift.  Big shifts take time.  Some are good shifts and some are bad, but they happen nonetheless.  I’ve started thinking about the shifts we are making as a society and here is what I see:

  • Parenting – shifting from the primary caregiver being the mother to shared care between mother and father.  I have a handful of women friends whose husbands stay at home while they provide financially for the family.  This is a huge change from even our parents generation where that didn’t or very rarely happened.  Most of our fathers barely changed a diaper!  Even my company Babble Soft might be contributing to a shift in how we take care of our newborns when we no longer have the same nearby family support structure and need to know more about how our baby is progressing for doctor visits.  It seems that we are still early in this shift, but it’s happening.
  • Job Changing – In our parents and grandparents generation it was not uncommon for someone to hold a job with one company for 30 years!  Nowadays most people change jobs within 2 to 7 years.  I know in the technology field if you saw a resume where the person has spent more than 10 years at one place, you wonder about their ability to innovate.
  • Marriage – with divorce rates averaging 50% for first marriages, 67% for second, and 73% for third marriages it seems that we as a society are more accepting of this change in lifestyle than in the past generation where it was much rarer to get a divorce but people were tolerating the situation.  People were living alternative lifestyles in private and now they are living them out loud in public.  This is despite the increase in marriage counselors!  I wonder if the marriage shift has any correlation to the job changing shift?
  • Technology/Communication – It’s acceptable (for the most part) to have a gadget (cell phone) attached to you at all times.  How we all lived before cell phones and iPhones, is beyond me.  It has created a shift in how we communicate (voice, email, twitter, text messaging) that is unprecedented.  It has yet to be seen if this is good for humanity in the long run but we seem to be heading towards an ‘always connected’ society.
  • Medicine – We’ve seen a shift from non-profit based medicine to for-profit based medicine which has led to some great innovations in the medical field but also to movement away from what is best for each patient/the system and towards what seems to be the best for the lawyers. 🙂
  • Elder Care – Only a generation ago, it was common for aging parents to live with their children but now it’s more common for them to go to a retirement community, an assisted living place, or elder care facility in at least the American culture.

These are just some of the shifts I see.   Do you see these shifts too?  I wonder how they are going to effect business, entrepreneurship, our day to day lives 5, 10, 25, 50 years out.  I wonder how our children will react to living through these shifts.  I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

Who I Was Being Is Not Exactly Who I Am
Apr 7 2009

Photo by Sandy Blanchard


I just finished the Landmark Advanced Course that builds on the lessons learned in the Landmark Forum.  It was a very powerful course and although it turns out I’m not an elephant or a horse, I discovered courageous parts of myself that I have suppressed because of the fear of what other people would think of me.  And worse yet the fear of what I would think of myself.

To me, life has always been a journey of learning and self discovery.  The Landmark Education courses have been one of the most fascinating steps I’ve taken on that journey.  I’ve gotten more out of these two courses than all of the professional and personal advisers/counselors I’ve seen and books I’ve read…especially more than the romance novels I used to breeze through for mind numbing distractions from my text books in undergrad.

Some people stop pushing the envelope of self discovery because it can be a very scary process and others stop because they realize there really is no envelope to push and are at peace with themselves and the world.  I haven’t met any of the latter kinds of people who have kids…in fact, I’ve met very few of the latter kind.  So I wonder if the way to achieve the rare occurrence of enlightenment is not to have kids.  Hmmm.

I’ve been becoming more aware of an ability/talent I was given to sense people based on what they say, don’t say, their body language, etc.  I’ve heard that 80% of what someone conveys is not through words but through their body language.  I happen to be more attuned to that 80% than most people.  People tell me the most intimate things about themselves and their lives and sometimes I think they are surprised at what they tell me based on how I notice them.

I am sometimes pretty raw and honest about what I see in certain people with varied results.  Sometimes I don’t say anything because I sense the person would not get in the slightest what I’m saying and think I’m crazy.  But ironically, this ability doesn’t work as well with my close family and friends.  And people have had a hard time knowing me because to deal with the bombardment of cues I get from people, I ‘was being’ a person who unknowingly suppressed my ability to share what was going on with me.  In the words of Landmark, I was not being “authentic or fully self expressed” because fundamentally I didn’t trust people with my being.  I was loudly letting them trust me, but I was quietly not trusting them with myself.

There are no magic pills or overnight fixes, just different ways of looking at things, and I think the path I’ve chosen has helped me understand other people and myself a little better, and therefore be a better friend, manager and connector.  I’m sharing more and being more open and vulnerable than I have ever been in my life, and my close friends (and even people I’ve only recently met) and family are responding with such kindness and support that I have found myself with tears in my eyes more often than I expected.

There is another course in this 3 part series, but for now I am not planning on taking any more courses.  I’ll digest, make some changes, and consider what’s next.  I know they are a business so they will do their best to up sell me on their other courses…which is fine because I know I have the choice whether to sign up or not.  Landmark Education is a global, fast growing phenomenon written up in Harvard Business Review and other reputable publications, and I think they will continue to grow given how they deliver their curriculum.  They don’t do any outside advertising but rely solely on word of mouth and occasional press mentions.  Of course those who do the research also pull up stories of their roots in something called EST.  But from what I’ve heard of EST, the courses I’ve taken are drastically different and much less intense.  The only way to know that is to see how it has changed the life of someone you trust and care about.

At any rate, I have met some amazing, brilliant people in these courses who I dare say I’ll probably be in contact with for quite some time.  I’m a bit envious of the younger people who are taking the course because what a head start they will have in making transformation happen in their lives and their organizations.  We had a few 18 year olds  in the group.  What a gift they have been given to have access to this technology at such a young age!

It’s all about Living A Powerful Life and Living A Life You Love!  That is the reason I signed up for the Landmark Education courses.  I’m on my way…stay tuned…

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