That Th!nk You Do Chapter 5 – Rules of Competition

For those who didn’t know, I’ve signed with a new publisher and my first book out with them, The Think You Do, should be available late Nov-Dec ’22.


As always, let me know what you think.

Rules of Competition

NextStage did a bunch of political research during the ’08 Presidential race, and some of which appeared on my BizMediaScience blog. One of the questions that we still get with regularity involves the public’s perception of Senator Clinton versus Governor Palin.

The question being asked was asked about politics and the answer has little to do with politics. It really has to do with how people perceive another person’s hard work, ambition, drive, steadfastness, …, in a word, competitiveness, and especially how these traits are gender-biased. Thousands of years ago when I was in college a fellow told me that I was steadfast. “And that is a quality of the Lord,” he added. I responded, “I’m steadfast, you’re stubborn, and he’s too stupid to know any better.”

My response beyond being glib is a statement of psychological distance.

Let me give you an example. Steadfast, as in “holding to one’s beliefs”, is great when people share your beliefs. But if you don’t share my beliefs and I’m somehow stopping you from achieving your goals? Then perhaps my steadfastness is, to you, stubbornness. What if you have no opinions about my beliefs per se but believe I have no idea what I’m doing? Then perhaps I’m too stupid to know any better.

The above is a demonstration of a given trait being considered as a plus or minus based on psychological distance — how far one person’s beliefs are from another’s.

Competitiveness is interesting because it comes in two forms. Goal-directed competitiveness — where you compete against yourself to achieve a goal — has no psychological distance component. Interpersonal competitiveness — when you want to beat someone else — has a strong psychological distance component attached. Psychological distance comes into play when there’s recognizable winners and losers.

Public perception of an individual’s competitiveness is what gets votes. Both men and women think highly of people who are goal-directed, not so highly of people who are interpersonally competitive (probably because we don’t know when that competitive nature will be directed against us). And both men and women will create extreme psychological distance between an interpersonally competitive female but not so much towards an interpersonally competitive male, which is where gender-bias comes in.

Politicians get votes by demonstrating a balance between goal-directed and interpersonal competitiveness. Both Senator Clinton and Governor Palin are competitive — they are politicians, after all. Senator Clinton’s staff had a difficult task (whether they realized it or not) that they executed well (whether they realized it or not); Senator Clinton had to compete against her Democratic rivals and convince the public that she was goal-directed. Specifically, that her goal wasn’t the Presidency, her goal was to benefit the voters.

Governor Palin’s staff never managed to get her image out of the interpersonal side of competition. People who were undecided knew she was against the Democrats, but once you got past that, what were her goals? There was no goal-direction to balance her interpersonal competitiveness.

Continue readingThat Th!nk You Do Chapter 5 – Rules of Competition”

That Th!nk You Do Chapter 4 – Change (which is Constant) and Managing the Work-Life Balance

For those who didn’t know, I’ve signed with a new publisher and my first book out with them, That Think You Do, should be available late Nov-Dec ’22.


As always, let me know what you think.

Change (which is Constant) and Managing the Work-Life Balance

Susan (wife, partner, all things known and unknown) and I are coming on our 25th wedding anniversary (note to readers: we just celebrated out 38th). We’ve been together for 31 years (now 44). I wrote our wedding vows:

I can not promise you fidelity, sanity, health, hope, love, comfort or joy. All I can promise is that I will change. Not all my changes will be good. I ask God’s help that not all will be bad.
I ask you today to be with me in my changes, to tell me when I am foolish, to heal me when I am sick, to love me when I forget to love, to give me hope when I have none to give, to give me comfort when I am cold and alone, to give me joy when all I know is sadness.
Stand with me the rest of my days. I have asked you to do this. I ask you again, here, before our friends and families. It is said before others, but the words are for you. I love you.

Nobody in the audience knew what the vows would be, not even the minister. People knew I’d written them and everyone assumed they’d be whimsical if not funny. I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve asked for copies of our vows since then.
Continue readingThat Th!nk You Do Chapter 4 – Change (which is Constant) and Managing the Work-Life Balance”

That Th!nk You Do Chapter 3 – Romancing Real Women … and I don’t have to write more because I’ve already got everybody’s attention

For those who didn’t know, I’ve signed with a new publisher and my first book out with them, That Think You Do, should be available late Nov-Dec ’22.


As always, let me know what you think.

Romancing Real Women … and I don’t have to write more because I’ve already got everybody’s attention

Men, pay attention:

Taunus swung the axe effortlessly, almost gracefully for a man his size. Up, over, down and the wood split evenly, almost willingly, cleaving cleanly in two and falling to either side of the stump he used as a brace. He took a neckerchief from his backpocket and wiped the sweat from his brow. Catching Raina staring at him, one hand raised to block the setting sun from blinding her, he smiled and pantomimed his circus-strongman origins at her until they both laughed.
Suddenly she screamed. A bear reared over Greya.
Greya, sitting in front of the cabin playing with the cornstalk doll Taunus made for her, turned.
The bear waived its forepaws over the child. Greya held her doll up towards the monster as if offering her toy to a friend.
Suddenly there was a silent blur and Taunus stood between Greya and the bear. Just stood. Unmoving. Calmly breathing. His dark eyes smiling at the bear. Raina heard his voice, low, soothing.
Greya giggled.
What was he saying, Raina wondered.
The bear lowered itself to all fours. It sniffed in Taunus’ direction, growled something — or said something, Raina couldn’t be sure — and trundled off.
Taunus turned and lifted Greya in his arms, tickled her until she laughed, kissed her, lowered her to her feet and nudged her in Raina’s direction. The child waddled off towards her mother.
Greya safely beside Raina, Taunus walked back to the woodpile. The sun glistened off his back, the old wounds receding as they realized today there would be no battle.


Taunus moved quietly but not so quietly Raina wasn’t warned of his approach as he left the surrounding wood.
What game today, she wondered. She kept her eyes closed and stretched on the blanket, enjoying the tickles of sunlight on her face. Behind her Greya cooed as she played with the cornstalk doll Taunus made for her.
Suddenly Raina felt her face in shadow. Small flowers gently took over the sunlight’s tickling role. She looked up to find Taunus kneeling beside her, showering her with petals of rose, oleander, and orange blossom.
His eyes echoed his words, “Every morning I wake and know there’s one more day of memories I have of you.”
He bent over her and she welcomed his soft, hesitant kiss. She pulled him closer, returning his kiss, letting them linger for a moment in the warmth of the setting sun, the warmth of their many years together.
Greya’s doll fell between them and the child giggled. They pulled away from each other, laughing and smiling.
Suddenly another shadow engulfed them all. A bear, rearing, waived its paws over them.
Taunus threw what petals remained in his hand at the bear. “Argos, old friend. Have you lost your honey?”
The bear fell to all fours, sneezed at the sun and trundled off.
“Greya,” said Raina. “Go find some honey for your pet. Father and I have things to discuss.”
Greya picked up her doll and waddled to where the bear waited, then the two of them went deeper into the surrounding wood.

Pick one that you think will get a woman’s attention.
Continue readingThat Th!nk You Do Chapter 3 – Romancing Real Women … and I don’t have to write more because I’ve already got everybody’s attention”

That Th!nk You Do Chapter 2 – Avoiding Deadly Silences

For those who didn’t know, I’ve signed with a new publisher and my first book out with them, That Think You Do, should be available late Nov-Dec ’22.


As always, let me know what you think.

Avoiding Deadly Silences

You know those movies about families’ hidden stories? Everybody’s happy and smiling and chuckles on the outside and anger and distrust and betrayal are like lava flows on the inside waiting to erupt leaving death and destruction in their wake?

Usually the climax is around a meal, a dinner table. Some little comment is said by this person and that person erupts. Or the child says something that only a child could say and the family suddenly has to deal with great uncle Poopah’s crimes against humanity.

There are reasons these types of things usually happen during meals. I’ve mentioned in presentations and trainings that there are two times when humans are biologically most vulnerable: when we’re putting stuff into our bodies and when we’re pushing stuff out of our bodies. Most people have had the experience of gathering around a table with an extended family and friends. Few people have then had the experience of gathering en masse in the loo.

The science of group, tribal and family behavior aside, there’s often much that goes unsaid in human relationships. You don’t like that they put dishes in the sink rather than the dishwasher. They don’t like the way you put toilet paper on the roll (men, did you know this one?).

Seem a little…umm…ridiculous? Small? Meaningless? Irrelevant?

Of course they do and of course they are. Their very triviality is what gives them their power.

Your significant other should know better, right? I mean, who doesn’t know there’s a preferred direction that toilet paper should come off the roll? Why would anybody leave dishes in the sink when it’s just as easy to put them in the dishwasher?

Here’s what you may not know about these little irritations that cause such major eruptions — people, feeling their life going out of control, will exert increasing control over trivial annoyances before they make any attempt to deal with major annoyances. The mistaken(!!!) belief is that by controlling the small they’ll gain control over the large.

Who Holds Back More, Women or Men?
What’s your guess? And let me up the ante while I’m asking. Do the genders go silent for the same or different reasons? Studies done at Fairhaven College and the University of Houston indicate that men resort to silence more often than women do but the reasons are different. Men use silence to maintain power (to keep their partner “on their toes”) or because they simply don’t know how to express themselves (and women everywhere are nodding in agreement. “You needed a scientific study to know this?”, they’re asking).

Women use silence because culturally and historically they have been second class citizens (women are really nodding now). Second class citizens’ role is to listen, not to speak, hence their emotions, feelings, wants, needs, and desires go unannounced by them and unnoticed by their partners.

What is true for both sexes? That self-silencing is dangerous. It causes depression and the more one self-silences the more one becomes depressed. Depression untreated is a death of the soul, folks, so let me share some methods for bringing both your and your partner’s souls back to life.

Avoiding the Silences
While there is no guarantee, talking and sharing our wants, needs, and desires often cures depression… or at least lets us know the individual we’re talking and sharing with isn’t as involved in the relationship as we’d like them to be. Talking and sharing — using certain guidelines — allows us to take back control or at least know what we can control in our lives.

And you need to know that talking and sharing — avoiding the silences — is hard work if you’ve never done it before. I wish I could say it’s easy, it’s fun, it’s as lively and exhilarating as a game of Stratego and I’d rather have you err on the side of caution than not. Here are some rules to help start the conversation and avoid the silences: Continue readingThat Th!nk You Do Chapter 2 – Avoiding Deadly Silences”

Gender Specific Marketing Discoveries

Long ago and far away I presented my company’s research at conferences far and wide.

One such presentation (from 2007, so dated, I’m sure) dealt with marketing to men and women, and specifically the differences necessary to get the attention of one, the other, and both.

Here’s a podcast of that presentation, ressurected because it’s mentioned in “Sex on the Beach” chapter of That Think You do.