The Frustrating Necessity of Making Time

How To Fight Your Way Through a Jungle of Priorities

Garonzi Stefania, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Time is something we only have a finite amount of. As much as time is a human construct and as elastic as it is (according to the physicists), it limits how much we can do in a day. And as much as we’d like to, we can’t make time, can we?

A Little Story About My Personal Grievance with Time Management

I worked in the retail (grocery) industry for 26 years. Over that illustrious career, I worked with and for some of the best people I’ve ever met—manager’s that would bend over backward to help you out, make you laugh, or just feel respected.

I’ve also worked for some toolbags that shouldn’t have ever been elevated to a managerial position. Period. Selfish, arrogant, dweebs who come in to work with a coffee in their hand, telling “locker room” jokes, sit in an office all day, and do anything they can to get out of actually doing work. (I wish I had known these tricks for spotting and dealing with difficult people back then!)

One such disaster—a man who shall remain nameless here—said the one thing to me that has pissed me off more than any other remark a boss ever laid upon me in those 26 years.

A Little Context . . .

At the time, I was running a dairy department single-handedly. My daily routine went something like this:

  • Wake up at 3:30 to be at work by 4 AM
  • Pull all the outdated stuff from the entire department
  • Order tomorrow’s load
  • Put up 300-450 cases of dairy product
  • Fill 7 milk racks floor-to-ceiling
  • Fill three doors of eggs
  • Order the next day’s milk deliveries (from three vendors by phone!)
  • Take care of all the damaged items
  • Clean up the cooler and get it organized for the next load coming in that night

If I had any time leftover, I’d pretty up the department, straightening shelves and such.

The company had set metrics that applied to all associates to see how effectively they were working with expectancies about how many cases you should be able to stock in an hour, how long it should take you to do an order, etc. I was hitting 130%-150% effective every day without fail—doing the work of one-and-a-half employees and providing 12 hours of billable labor in an 8-hour shift.

One thing I was constantly failing to do, however, was check the dates on the drinkable yogurt the company thought it was a good idea to merchandise in with the sodas at the register coolers. When the boss called me into the office to talk about it, I explained exactly how much work I was doing (with the company metrics provided).

Instead of thanking me for the effort, looking for ways to leverage more help in my department, or even offering a solution to our outdated yogurt drinks, he simply told me that I had to “make time.”

He wanted me to do even more work in the same eight-hour shift! I was pissed beyond belief.

How the hell do you “make time?”

I held that conversation in my mind for the next 15 years—bringing it up in gripe sessions with my fellow employees—and it still irked me up until a few months ago. What changed? I read something that forced me to shift my entire perspective on how I viewed time.

Time Is a Human Construct—It Doesn’t Really Exist!

I picked up a copy of Jen Sincero’s You’re a Badass at Making Money a while back. It was in that book that she reiterated something I’d heard time and time again but had never really understood until those bold words were before me on a page.

Time is a human concept. We created it so we could segment our days and wrap our monkey brains around our perceived realities.

Sincero went so far as to mention a tribe of First Peoples here in The United States have no concept of time. For them, all of time—the past, the present, the future—are all happening at once!

Before we get too far out into the weeds and start talking about how Marty McFly zipped back to 1955 to save his own parent’s marriage by rocking Johnny B. Goode on a high school stage three years before Chuck Barry recorded it—let’s get practical.

In an interview with Zibby Owens, Jen Sincero cleared up her perception of time as it applies to our daily lives nicely. She said bluntly that if something is important to us, we have to “make time” for it.

“Time really is, as Einstein — was he the one who said that it’s a concept? It really is a concept. You can’t wait for time. You have to make time. Make it happen for yourself because it is there if it’s important. It really is”

Jen Sincero

This skewed my whole bent on this decade-plus long grudge I’d held against an old manager. I still think he’s a jerk, didn’t handle any situation well, and should have done a lot differently, but maybe I was wrong too. Because if something is important to me, I do “make time” for it.

I carve out hours a day to play video games. I lop minutes off my life droning in front of Twitter or Tik Tok. I mindlessly watch TV to unwind after a stressful day. I make time for all these activities even when they fail to add value to my life or get me any closer to my professional goals.

Realigning Your Priorities—Take Time to Make Time

Suddenly, it dawned on me—I was repeatedly failing to make the things I held as important actually important.

I was prioritizing leisure activities over productivity. I was swapping mindless entertainment for self-enriching learning. I was letting honest-to-goodness money-making time slip through my fingers while I chuckled at dogs riding skateboards and people getting hit in the genitals by various objects.

So how do you “make time?” You take back your life from all the little routines you’ve slipped into that don’t add value. Identify them. Eliminate them. Be ruthless.

And just like that, you’ll find yourself making time.

That doesn’t mean that occasionally droning in front of social media or playing video games or watching TV should be completely excised from your life—relaxation and mentally checking out have a quantifiable value too! However, the majority of that time should be given to the activities or goals that you repeatedly tell yourself are important in your life.

Making more money, improving your interpersonal relationship, realigning your career path for a more rewarding experience, investing in a hobby you’ve always secretly thought frivolous, even finding the time to figure out what really is important to you—all of these are made possible through making time for them.

Your assignment is to look critically at your life.

  1. Write down the things you’ve always considered important but never seem to have enough time for.
  2. Track your time daily. Use a phone app or a notebook and jot down how much time you spend doing anything.
  3. At the end of the day or the week take stock. Identify those time-wasting activities that consume your day.
  4. Actively eliminate or reduce those unnecessary time-wasters.
  5. Reprioritize those things you identified as actually important and start spending that newly-minted time wisely!

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

Controlling Someone Else’s Reality

How to manipulate someone's perception of you to change their reality and get the results you need to get ahead in your professional career, earn more money, and live a wealthier life.

How Skillfully Manipulating Conversations and Communication Can Get You the Results You Need

The mind works in mysterious ways. We’ve seen how it can take the input from your five senses and twist it to fit into a vision that’s unique to you. We’ve also seen how it can (with scientifically measurable results) change the real world through ways that physicists are just now beginning to understand. It all hinges around perception–your mind’s ability to make sense of the world as you see it. So, if your perception is your reality, you can learn to control other people’s perceptions to make their reality what you need it to be.

We’re not talking about real mind control through the internet like researchers at The University of Washington seemed to demonstrate in 2013. Nor are we talking about Gaslighting like The Guardian warned us all against. We’re talking about skillfully spotting and understanding communication clues other people are giving you and formulating your response to subtly influence opinions of you and outcomes of conversations.

This is a useful tip for introverts to learn because we’re not naturally the center of attention in any gathering and sometimes (whether we like it or not) we need to be. If we’re gunning for a promotion at work, if we’re trying to showcase the value we bring to the company, if we’re trying to manage difficult employees or coworkers, we need to learn how to read people, then feed them the information they need to make the decisions we want them to.

Being a Full-Body Listener

Listening to the other people in the conversation is the first–and most important part–of this not-so-nasty scheme. But it’s not enough to simply hear the words coming out of their mouths. You really have to take in all the energy they’re putting out verbally, physically, and mentally. Use all of that to really understand what they’re saying (and what they want you to hear). Doing so will help you formulate the correct response.

People communicate on so many levels–some research even confirms electromagnetic direct brain-to-brain communication–that can be almost impossible to get the straight dope without digging far below the surface. Below are a few tips on how to become a full-body listener and really get to the heart of a conversation.

  • Active Listening–This set of techniques can not only help you understand what people are really saying but will help them feel validated (and valued) as well. Researchers at Duke University have pinpointed three solid habits for good active listening.
    1. Leave Distractions Aside: Make sure the speakers know they have your full attention
    2. Be Mindful of Your Body Language: Sit close, incline your head, hold eye contact, make positive acknowledgements (nods, etc.)
    3. Ask for Clarification: Summary what the speaker has said then ask specific questions to confirm or deny your assumptions.
  • Read Their Body Language–Look for clues in the way their holding themselves: arms close to the body or open and expressive, eyes focused on you or wandering around the room, body erect and uncomfortable or relaxed. All of these subtle hints will let you know if they’re being genuine, snarky, fearful, engaged, or bored to tears.
  • Letting Silence Speak for You–Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody, has an interesting technique to illicit more information when a speaker is reluctant to give it up: silence. Uncomfortable silence. It will make people’s brains go into high gear and they’ll speak to fill it–often giving away more info and opinion than they had intended to.

Communicate Your Intentions

You can’t assume that the other people in the conversation are understanding everything you’re saying as deeply as you’d like them to. The old trick about speaking as if to a child or to someone that knows absolutely nothing about the subject is a good technique to use but even then you may lose some of your followers. Sometimes, you can’t even assume they’re listening to you at all.

That’s why you have to hammer home your point as quickly and succinctly as possible:

  1. Minimize small talk–it’s a time waster than can lead you astray.
  2. Get the recipient engaged with the conversation (usually by asking them bout themselves or their role in what you’re discussing).
  3. In certain circumstances–employee/employer relations–it’s appropriate to ask them to reiterate your point so you know that they got it.

Here are a few more tips you can use to make sure your presentation goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Avoid Confusion–Prepare your conversations in your head before, if you can. Take a moment during the conversation to ensure the words come out right. Pay attention to your speech.
  • Get Out of Your Own Head–Don’t let your own doubts derail the conversation. Getting wound up about what the listener may be thinking about you or what you’re saying often spirals out of control.
  • Don’t Try Too HardStephanie Vozza, writing for Fast Company, says that overcompensating is the easiest way to lose your credibility. Instead, be your authentic self and bring the same game every time.

Be Bold and Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds

There comes a moment in every conversation where your point has to get across or the whole endeavor is a waste of time. This is the point of no return during which you have to be direct, decisive, and bold–often to a point just shy of rudeness.

Introverts will often couch their main point in a lot of extraneous talk because we’re very aware of the listener’s emotional response to what we have to say. However, doing that can water down your main idea, lead to confusion, and may function as a sign of deference to the listener (which can be terrible for employer/employee relations in the long run).

Instead, clearly make a bold statement. It’s uncomfortable but when pulled off correctly it showcases your idea, your courage, and your value to the team.

“I don’t believe in going around the block to go next door; I believe in direct communication. I believe in saying, ‘Here’s what I heard. Is that what you were told? If so, I’d like to present my side of the story.’”

Roberta Matuson, author of Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work.

This is all great advice if you’re driving the conversation or are politely given the chance to express your message. However, we all know there are times when you feel as if you can’t get a word in edgewise.

Hijack the Conversation (The Right Way)

“’He who speaks, controls’. . . I had always believed that statement to be true. We see it all the time — at networking events, bars, and especially now in political debates. Whoever is louder, more verbose, and more theatrical dominates. Points are given to those who put on a show.”

Dave Schools

Have you ever tried to have a two-way conversation with a boss who talks too much? Or maybe you’ve spoken with a coworker or employee who takes every opportunity to go off on tangents about how previous managers have done things in the past. Sometimes problematic conversations devolve into tit-for-tat finger pointing and blame assignment or contests in which the participants try to one-up each other with sob stories.

None of that is helpful or to the point but how to you break in?

With a technique called cognitive incision. The basic premise is that if you tactfully insert a strategic question, the speaker has to shift his thought pattern and what he’s talking about to answer that question. This helps you steer the talk away from harmful or wasteful topics back to where it should be. Often the question needs to be either shocking, comedic, or witty because it has to be big enough that it takes a moment for the respondent to think about their answer. This beat is important–it’s the “incision” from which the tactic got it’s name.

To use cognitive incision, you must listen closely to the speaker, track their statements, and predict where they are going. The sharpness of your question is absolutely crucial. It cannot be simplistic, easily dismissed, or nominal. It should be relevant and well-timed. Maybe humorous. It should go off like a curiosity detonator in people’s minds.

Dave Schools

Dave Schools, Founder of Entrepreneur’s Handbook and Crypto Handbook, uses the clip from Downton Abbey below to illustrate how the question of “what is a week-end?” completely shifts the tone, the topic, and the destination of a conversation.

But sometimes it’s not enough just to shift the conversation. Sometimes you need to control it. In those cases, you have to stop the intended listener from ranting, reminiscing, or waxing poetic and get to the point you need to discuss. Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody, has identified an easy way to do just that with one simple word.

Pick a strategic point in the other person’s soliloquy and insert “and.” Follow that “and” immediately with what you intended to say.

The word “and” is important here because it allows the other person to assume you agree with the point they just made without you actually having to agree with it. It also breaks their tirade and allows you the opportunity to insert your thoughts into the conversation.

Practice Makes Perfect–find Your Guinea Pigs

Instead of jumping in feet-first and hijacking the Monday staff meeting, practice on a more receptive audience first. Look for conversations with friends and family in which you can use these techniques to subtly shift conversations, insert your thoughts, and really control the outcome of the interaction. Once you’ve built up some skill and confidence, attacking those big interaction (with your boss, a potential employer, a problem coworker) will seem a lot easier.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

There is No Spoon—Perception Is Reality

Our minds actually create our reality through perception and our minds can actually influence reality. Science and parapsychology combine with an age-old management mantra to get spooky!

How an Age-Old Management Gem Gets Mind-Bendy When We Apply Science

If you’ve read any self-help material pertaining to communication, you’ve no doubt come across the statement that a person’s perception is their reality. Usually this comes in the conflict resolution or direct leadership section of the book where the author is trying to get you to understand that not everyone sees everything through the same lens. And while most authors use this statement metaphorically to call out a person’s natural tendency to remember certain bits of a conversation and forget others (as they fit or don’t fit within their own mental construct), I’m talking like actual reality! The one that’s right before your eyes! (Or is it?)

Yes, I grew up watching The X-Files. I wanted to be Fox Mulder. But that doesn’t mean I was (or currently am) a crackpot. I believe in science, the scientific method, measurable quantities, facts, and well-supported theories. However, the more I dig into perception, the stranger it gets.

Before you tune me out, let’s get into to some hard, undeniable scientific truths.

Your Mind’s Eye Doesn’t See What’s In Front of You

We perceive the world through our senses. The big 5 are sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Some would argue that there are several other senses that we can layer on but that gets into the realm of pseudoscience and we’re going to steer clear of that for today. The heaviest hitter in the big 5 for most people is sight. Unless your vision is altered in some way, you’re likely relying on your eyes for the vast majority of sensory input. Now, other senses often play a bigger part in memory recall (especially sound) but for this discussion were talking about the immediate construction of our individual reality—perception.  

So, we could argue that your eyes don’t lie and everything we see in front of us is real. I’m going to tell you right now that’s wrong.

Perhaps you already know that every person perceives colors differently due to physical differences in the eye. I once had a pair of pants that I absolutely considered to be blue but every time I put them on, my wife called them purple.

But did you know your mind also takes the stimuli your eyes pump into it and messes with that as well?

The Blind Spot!

Each of your retinas—the bit in the back of your eye that’s loaded with photoreceptors—has a considerably large empty spot in which there are no photoreceptors. This, logically, would create a blind spot somewhere near the center of your field of vision. But you don’t see an empty spot, do you? That’s because your mind take clues from the nearby photoreceptors, does a little jiggery-pokery, and fools itself into erasing that blind spot.

This article in Scientific American goes into detail about this phenomenon and even gives you several methods by which you can trick your brain into revealing this blind spot—it’s kinda freaky if you’re up for it.

Victorians (specifically physicist Sir David Brewster) attributed this magical band-aid that covers the gap in your field of view to God, however, modern scientists believe that this “filling in” is a manifestation of what’s called “surface interpolation.”

“. . . an ability that has evolved to compute representations of continuous surfaces and contours that occur in the natural world—even ones that are sometimes partly occluded (for example, a cat seen behind a picket fence looks like one whole cat, not like a cat sliced up).”

Leslie G. Ungerleider of the National Institute of Mental Health, Ricardo Gattass of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Charles D. Gilbert of the Rockefeller University, and other physiologist are currently exploring the mechanism behind this process at the neural level, however, for our purposes, the phenomenon represents just one of the ways your brain alters the real world to create your own personal reality.

Your Brain Treats Imagined Stimuli the Same as Real Ones!

Okay, so your brain is a tricksy thing that plays fast and loose with objective reality. It takes real input, smudges it a bit and makes you think that this altered perception is real. That’s cool (not really).

But what if I were to tell you that your brain also makes imaginary things very real?

I’m not talking about manifesting a rabbit in a hat or wishing for a million dollars only to answer the door for one of those publisher’s sweepstakes guys. I’m talking about the fact that your brain treats imagined stimuli in an almost identical way to real stimuli.

Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience measured the mental “effort” musicians expended while playing music, listening to music, and imagining music. They used various measures including pupil dilation and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on trained musicians and non-musical types (like me!) What they found is that regardless of whether the musician was actually playing, listening to, or mentally imagining themselves play a song, the measurable effects on the brain and the body were nearly identical. (As you would expect, the effects were very much muted on those who had no experience actually playing music.)

The effect isn’t limited to musicians though. Research conducted at The University of Colorado at Boulder and published in Science Daily looked at imagination therapy and it’s the very real improvements patients with phobias made using it. For this study, people with certain phobias were asked to imagine their specific phobia—dogs, spiders, heights, etc. Simply doing so created very real physical fear responses in the individual—increased sweating, faster heart rates, more rapid breathing. However, the study went on to prove that repeated imagination sessions in a environment that was proven to be safe—a therapist’s office—actually decreased the physical response to the actual phobia in real life just like traditional exposure therapy!

Want more research into how your brain fools you every day?

There’s even a cognitive scientist named Donald Hoffman who has made a concrete Case Against Reality.

But now that we know this, what can we do with that information?

Your Brain Can Actually Change Reality

This is where it gets even weirder. I’m going to tell you know that your brain can actually change reality. Not in the hippy-dippy sense that positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes (though they actually do) but in the sense that the very act of perceiving something can change measurable reality.

The Studies Back the Statement

Perhaps you’re familiar with The Baxter Effect. Discovered by Cleve Baxter—a former CIA interrogation specialist) this measurable phenomenon became the basis for the wildly popular Secret Life of Plants.

In essence, Baxter was messing around with a potted plant in his office one day when he had a little too much time on his hands and hooked the poor thing up to a polygraph (lie detector) machine. Baxter noticed that when he expressed harmful thoughts toward the plant (specifically, burning it) the plant exhibited measurable electrical responses similar to those humans express when placed under stress. Baxter then recreated the experiment multiple times and found that even if the plant was miles away, it still reacted in a similar fashion at the exact time he thought about harming it.

His thoughts created a response in the plant!

Another lesser known experiment by Helmut Schmidt involved random subjects, random numbers, and some random lightbulbs.  In short, Schmidt hooked some lightbulbs to a random number generator. The bulbs should have theoretically lit completely at random—which they did when not being observed by test subjects. However, when Schmidt introduced the experiment participants and told them to “psychically” manipulate which lights came on, he recorded results that were 1%-2% higher than would be expected by chance.

Of course, if you’re looking for a more commonly accepted demonstration of how your perception of reality actually changes reality, look no further than the extremely well documented placebo effect. Multiple studies over generations have shown that when people believe they’ve been given medication, their medical conditions measurably improve—even if the pills they’re given are nothing but sugar tablets!

In fact, scientists like Alia Crum, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of Stanford’s Mind and Body Lab, are still trying to find the limits of the placebo effect. So far they’ve found that:

  • People who believe doing physical work in a job counts as exercise actually live longer
  • Telling subjects a milkshake is “indulgent” makes the person feel fuller
  • Making a subject believe a drink is caffeinated actually increases blood pressure

So what does this all mean for you?

Your Reality is a Creation of your Mind and Your Mind Affects Reality

Combine real results uncovered in those two fields of research we dipped into above and the statement that your reality is a creation of your mind and your mind can actually change reality becomes disturbingly/delightfully true.

I’m not saying that imagining a pile of money at your front door is going to result in you becoming rich. I will tell you that going to work every day with the expectations that you’re going to have a crappy day will—more often than not—result in you having a crappy day.

Does projecting positive thoughts about money and wealth in general directly lead to more wealth landing in your lap as Jen Sincero suggests in her book You are a Badass at Making Money? Maybe not. But I can tell you that positive thoughts about money and wealth will improve your attitude about making that money and actually putting in the work necessary to “make it rain” will be a hell of a lot easier.

Now, you don’t have to take this leap with me, but I personally believe in a higher power at play in the universe—not necessarily a bearded dude on a white cloud (Christianity) or Alanis Morisette who can destroy you just by opening her mouth (Dogma).

My personal higher power is more like that proposed in Unified Field Theory or a Universal “Intelligence” that can influence (and be influenced by) our thoughts. I’ll get into this more in another post because it deals with parapsychology, reincarnation, similar beliefs and iconography in disparate ancient civilizations, and the like.

However, even if I’m wrong about all of that, my practice or projecting positive thoughts into the universe isn’t going to do any more harm than putting a few more people in a better mood for the day. If I’m right. . . well, let’s just say Einstein once called Quantum Entanglement “spooky action at a distance.”

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

Spotting Synchronicity

How spotting synchronicity can help you make life-changing choices

Or the Role of Fate In Your Personal Growth

You may not know what synchronicity is, but you’ve definitely experienced it. Say you’ve been thinking about calling your mother and the phone rings. Surprise! It’s her just checking in. Or maybe you’re craving pizza all day to come home to the luscious aroma of melty cheese and spicy pepperoni wafting from the takeout box on the kitchen countertop. Maybe you’re toying with the idea of applying for a new job or taking on a new career entirely over your morning coffee and the guest on the morning show that’s playing on TV is speaking about how she did just that and it changed her life forever!

That’s synchronicity in its most simplified form. Many people get it confused with coincidence, but it can be much more powerful and have truly life-altering consequences if you know how to spot it.

What is Synchronicity?

The OED defines synchronicity as “the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”

It was the Swedish psychologist Carl Jung who came up with the word after pondering the phenomenon of acausal parallelism. (Synchronicity has a better ring, don’t you think?) Young, who was closely associated with the controversial sex-obsessed Sigmund Freud, believed that these events—even though seemingly random—had deep-seated, powerful meaning.

Indeed, Jung believed that synchronicity was not left to chance alone and that the inner workings of a person’s mind played a role in either the manifestation or the realization of those “coincidental” events. The man placed so much weight on these milestones that he believed synchronicities could provide insight, direction, and guidance for those who recognize them.

Jung spotted these events himself—even during the treatment of his patients—and ascribed significant meaning to them. Indeed, in one anecdotal attribution, Jung describes a seemingly random occurrence in which a woman’s dreams coincided with the improbable appearance of an extremely rare insect!

“Shortly after, the woman began describing a significant dream of a golden scarab (a costly piece of jewelry). As she was describing this beetle in more depth, Jung heard a tapping at the window behind him. He opened the window and revealed a live goldish-green scarab beetle, not native to the area.”

Arts of Thought

My Personal Experience with Synchronicity

Since I became aware of the phenomenon of synchronicity—albeit through the mind-bending Matrix movies and other pop culture sources—I have spotted far too many to recount here. However, there have been several Big Ones that really made me stop and take stock of my situation, my personal life, and my career. The following story is true—although it seems to coincidental to be so—and represents a string of synchronicities that shook me out of a professional funk into which I’d fallen and spurred me into action.

I was walking through Target one day on a mission to find something else entirely when I decided to browse through the books—something I often do anyway. This day I so happened to stop at the self-help section (which I never do because most of those books or smoke and hokum) when I spotted a copy of Jen Sincero’s “You are a Baddass at Making Money:  Master the mindset of Wealth.” It was 20% off so I took the bait and bought the book.

The next day, I was sitting on the couch reading how your mindset could really affect your income because of your spiritual/quantum connection/entanglement with what Sincero calls the Universal Intelligence. At the time, it was sounding like a bunch of New Age hippy-dippy hooey to me–Think and Grow Rich sort of stuff. However, I had previously been exposed to the Unified Field Theory in physics (via the works of researcher Graham Hancock) so the possibility that Sincero was onto something itched at the back of my skull.  

There I was vacillating between belief and disbelief, the TV babbling in the background, when I paused to collect my thoughts and Tamron Hall was interviewing Maria Failla—a Broadway performer who had her career cut short by Covid Lockdowns and turned her passion for growing houseplants into a lucrative business and bustling online community via her podcast series Bloom & Grow Radio.

Kinda spooky that I just happened to look up when this lady was describing how the synchronicity of her Broadway show being cancelled corresponded with her renewed interest in growing healthy houseplants. I still wasn’t convinced though.


I went back to reading only to look up a few minutes later when Tamron was interviewing Javiera Montoya, a former corporate financier who left a seven-figure salary to pursue her passion career baking bread! Of course, she turned that career into a money-maker as well, getting feature placement in The Huffington Post, getting on television shows, on television shows,

Here this woman was, telling the world how she faced adversity from co-workers, friends, and families to embrace this new passion project and change her life forever.

I was—in a word—shocked. So much so that a little giggle escaped my lips.

What were the odds that I would be reading a self-help book about being courageous enough to make the sort of money I wanted and deserved doing something I was good at and passionate about at the same time as two people who had trod that path before me were being featured on National Television in My living room? (Keep in mind, 9 times out of 10 when I’m home alone the television is off.)

This synchronicity was just too powerful for me to ignore!

I’m not saying that I believe the Universal Intelligence Sincero writes about beamed Tamron Hall into my living room so I would take the first steps on this new personal, professional, and financial journey. However, like Fox Mulder is fond of saying, I want to believe.

The Key to Profiting From Synchronicity

“Synchronicity is an ever-present reality for those who have eyes to see.”

Carl Jung

As life-changing synchronicity can be, most of us simply coast through life without even noticing these events. If we do notice them, we often chalk them up as curiosities and make jokes about “living in the Matrix, man.”

This habit adds no value to our lives other than entertainment. With a little practice, you can profit (personally, emotionally, professionally, even financially) from synchronicities but you have to recognize them first.

You can train yourself to be open to these synchronicities and spot them when they occur. It feels a bit weird and the first time or two—like you’re stepping into the twilight zone or embracing some Eastern philosophy founded by a bearded guy sat atop a mountain. However, once you get over the spookiness (or the goofiness) of the situations, you can then analyze the individual synchronicities and how they could possibly apply to your life, your personal journey, and your career aspirations.

The first step is pausing and acknowledging even small acausal parallelisms. Believe me, they’ll get easier to spot when you do.

Tracking Fate’s Footprints

Jonah Calinawan, a self-described accountant, artists, and mythologist, is a proponent of the power of synchronicity and began tracking these coincidental events he experienced in his life (with bar charts and everything!)

JOnah Calinawan's chart showing the synchronicities he's noticed in his life.

Not only has he spotted multiple “small synchronicities,” (some of which he classifies as “interesting & strange”) but also several “life-changing” examples including meeting his partner of 22 years, how a dream led him to pursue a Ph.D., how a chance meeting with a stranger led to a career that lasted 15 years until he decided to give it up to become a fulltime artist.

I’m not saying you must break out the spreadsheets to keep track of the synchronicities in your life (unless you want to), but at the very least you should be open to them, aware of them, and analyze them when they occur. If you want, take it a step further and keep a daily journal. Note down when these synchronicities happen and what you think they mean at the time.

Here’s to Getting a Little Spooky

I’ll admit, I’ve been a conspiracy theorist for years. I love the debate around UFOs, alien visitation, ancient civilizations, and all that weird stuff that falls outside the norm. Hell, I wanted to be Fox Mulder and even went so far as to dress like an FBI agent for a while in high school (who needs friends, right?)

It’s through this lifelong investigation—for the lack of a better word—that I’ve come across actual science in the fields of neurobiology, physics, electromagnetism, psychology, and various other fields that actually support the theory that there’s some sort of extrasensory “paranormal” universal binding agent surrounding us all (like Master Yoda’s explanation of The Force). We’re talking heavy hitters in their fields like Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Neil deGrasse Tyson, CIA Interrogator Cleve Backster, Stanford scientist Russel Targ, and many more who have produced real, measurable results pointing at “spooky” influences on the real world around us.

If plant’s can somehow tell what you’re thinking, if coincidence isn’t just coincidence, if your perception of reality is really limited by your brain and not your senses, then who is to say that opening your mind to the possibility of breaking out of your shell, diving head-first into new roles, and making more money than you ever thought possible isn’t a key component of actually making it happen?

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

The Law of Social Proofing—Break Free from Herd Mentality

Introvert’s Suffer from Serious Self-Doubt

Introverts often give in to Herd Mentality and sacrifice their voices. Be bold, show courage, and be rewarded

One of the most powerful attributes introverts like us have is that we’re extremely introspective. We like to take our time with decisions, digest data, plot potential outcomes, forecast future roadblocks—in short, we live in our heads. However, that introspection—if left unchecked—can be detrimental to our confidence. Even if we’re 100% behind our decisions, that little moment in which we analyzed everything is often perceived by others as doubt, hesitation, or just plain incomprehension.

Unfortunately, we’re repeatedly exposed to that perception over the years starting in childhood. That constant push back from others can undermine our own confidence and leave us second-guessing ourselves, unwilling to freely express our opinions, or unable to take bold actions. This, in turn, can increase that erroneous perception that we’re wishy-washy, which cycles back onto us.

It’s not hard to see then why a lot of introverts give up their free will and simply agree with the herd when it comes to making even important decisions about our lives. The Law of Social Proofing, as the phenomenon of herd mentality is called by researchers, is a term coined by author Robert Cialdini way back in 1984 (ironic, right?) Cialdini figured out we as individuals give up our opinions and decisions when in social situations and blindly accept the prevailing thoughts and actions.

Why do we do this? We’re either attempting to blend in with the crowd so we’re not singled out—which can be embarrassing, stressful, and in some extreme cases even life-threatening—or we’re subsiding our own thoughts, opinions, and attitude in hopes that the group will like and accept us.

One of the most common ways we all engage in this social proofing in the modern world is by reading reviews of products and services online. In fact, 91% of us read reviews before purchasing anything online. When we’re searching for something particular, we want to know that it works, that it’s cool, that it’s fashionable—and the easiest way to do that is to read what other people who have purchased it have to say. These reviews are so powerful that they can often sway a potential buyer after reading only a few words!

Social Proofing Isn’t About Finding the Best Bidet!

The LUXE Bidet on Amazon has some of the best (and most entertaining) reviews you’ll ever read. In fact, one afternoon I fell down the rabbit hole and read dozens of these—some of which made me laugh so hard tears came to my eyes.

Unfortunately, social proofing isn’t all about finding products that we assume will work for us. In fact, our tendency to rely on social proofing can often lead us into situations that are uncomfortable, harmful, or just plain wrong for us.

Science Daily asked the question “are we programmed to make bad decisions?” In the article, the author examined research from The University of Exeter concerning social proofing and how it changes how people live their lives! The study found that being repeatedly exposed to beliefs that don’t reflect our own actually changes the way we think about real life situations.

“. . . the challenge is in evaluating personal beliefs when they contradict what others are doing. We showed that evolution will lead individuals to over use social information, and copy others too much than they should.”

What’s the danger in accepting herd mentality too often?

“The result is that groups evolve to be unresponsive to changes in their environment and spend too much time copying one another, and not making their own decisions.”

In short, when you try to blend in too often, you forget how to think for yourself and other people become the masters of your destiny.

That simply won’t do. You’re here because you thirst for change. You need what’s rightfully yours. You know the status quo just isn’t good enough anymore. So be bold!  

Break Out of the Herd and Make Bold Moves

You want to change your life. You want to be more successful at work. You want to be a more assertive individual. You want people to recognize the power within you and acknowledge the value you bring to their lives. But if you stick with the same old thought patterns, you’ll never get any of that.

To change your life:

  • You have to change the way you think.
  • You have to start valuing your own opinion more than those held by others.
  • You have to realize that the decisions you’re making need to be the best ones for your life—not necessarily the ones that will make you most popular.
  • You have to act differently—be bold, take chances, and live the life you’ve been given.

Jen Sincero talks about “The Fallacy of Security” in her book You’re a Badass at Making Money. She mostly applies this notion to financial security but I would challenge you to think of it in terms of your personal and professional relationships as well.

  • How often have you remained silent or “bit your tongue” when your significant other has said something that deeply hurt you?
  • How often have you failed to raise your hand in a meeting and speak your mind?
  • How often have you resorted to silence or a mumbled non-response when your boss asks your opinion?
  • How many times have you “gone with the flow” at work even when you’ve spotted ways to improve the way things are done?

After reading her book, I didn’t feel like money was just going to fall out of the sky, into my lap, but I did rethink many of my long-held beliefs about income, success, and relationships. I came to the realization that I held onto many of these beliefs so strongly because I was an introvert and living life along the path of least resistance.

All of these are perfect examples of how succumbing to herd mentality (or social proofing) has subjugated your own thoughts and potentially harmed your personal or professional life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done just those things out of fear, out of embarrassment, out of the desire just to get through the day without any drama.

But let me tell you a secret: when you start speaking your mind—especially at work—your life will change. In fact, one of the easiest ways to climb the professional ladder and be noticed by your bosses is to develop managerial courage (even if you’re not a manager).

Unless your boss is a moron, they want people to make their own decisions. They don’t want to have to micromanage every task, every day. They really want to feel that the people they’ve hired—the employees they’ve put their trust in—really take ownership of their roles in the company.

I know when I became a manager, having people that engaging with their jobs, looking for solutions, and presenting ideas was not only exciting and refreshing but productive, innovative, and inspiring as well. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to showcase the value you bring to work every day.

Make a Decision and Stick With It

We’ll go into developing managerial courage a bit more in another post but essentially the trick is to make a decision based on the best information you have available and stick with it—even if it ends up being the wrong decision in the end. If you have a reason for making that decision and can defend your choice, you’re not only acting courageously, you’re thinking critically, and trying to solve problems—all of which are positive traits that your boss will appreciate.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

Hard Work is Not Noble—The Protestant’s Had it All Wrong!

Are Your Personal Beliefs About Wealth and Money Holding You Back? (Mine Were!)

Growing up in New England, my personal beliefs and attitudes about work were shaped—secretly—by long-held Puritanical ideals that seeped into my brain from the well-water I drank as a kid. Sort of. Now I realize that those beliefs weren’t doing me any favors when it came to making more money, getting a better job, and truly living a wealthy life. By reexamining everything I’d ever been taught, learned, or inherited through osmosis about work, I’ve freed myself from some truly inhibiting behaviors.

Hard Work Is in the Blood

My Father’s Work Shed

I grew up what economists would call rural poor—though thankfully I never knew just how little money my parents had until after they had both passed.

Our family was a large “blended” assortment that spread out and twisted and turned and was—frankly a little hard for a kid like me to wrap his head around. So many uncles (some of whom were actually cousins), aunts (at least one of whom was a step-sister-in-law), nieces (who were older than me), brothers (one of which I only recently found out wasn’t biologically related), sisters (who liked to dress me as a girl), and various other offshoots that spread all over the state and beyond!

The defining trait or characteristic I’d always assigned to my entire family was that they were hard-working, decent folks. We have a long history of tough-as-nails ancestors. One of my great-great (maybe another great?) grandfathers was the first settler to build a log cabin in the town in which I grew up. My grandfather was a lumber jack who swung a double-bitted axe and led teams of horses before and after going to France during the First World War to ride in the cavalry. My uncle worked his ass running massive steam-shovels at strip mining operations in the Midwest after fighting off the Japanese in the Pacific During World War II. My father lied about his age, went into the Navy early to fight the Koreans and came out trained as an electrician. He held a variety of jobs from crane operator, log truck driver, self-employed building contractor, cop—you name it, he did it.

Long story short, everybody poured their blood and sweat (though no tears because us tough Downeasters we don’t cry) into everything they did.

Continue reading “Hard Work is Not Noble—The Protestant’s Had it All Wrong!”

Spotting Synchronicity in the Wild

Good Advice About Attitude for the Grads

Earlier this month, I watched my nephew graduate in a class of nearly 1,000 from Husson University in Bangor, Maine. He’s now got a degree in Mass Communication and is pursuing his dream of becoming a regional sportscaster in the real world with a summer-long internship at a historic ballpark in my neck of the woods.

It is the tradition of the University to confer an honorary degree to someone who has accomplished great things in the world. This year it was Husson Alumnus Saundra Pelletier–fellow Mainer and CEO of Evofem Biosciences. She has made a tremendous impact on the world through running multiple organizations including Evofem—which provides reproductive health products to women in need all over the world and practice “science with a soul.”

Of course, these honorary doctors give a little speech to go with their award. Normally, it’s boring, forgettable, and all about chasing your dreams and blah-ditty-blah-di-blah. Ms. Pelletier, however, had some tremendous advice that echos almost identically what I’d recently been reading in Jen Sincero’s best-selling self-help book You Are a Badass at Making Money.

The synchronicity was just too much for me to ignore. I sat rivetted as Ms. Pelletier talked about how Mainers have a backbone stronger than that possessed by anyone from anywhere else in the world (maybe true), and that we work harder (definitely true), and how we never give up (never surrender). But what really hit me between the eyes was when she started talking about the importance of attitude and mindset when it came to our own personal success.

Continue reading “Spotting Synchronicity in the Wild”

The Day a Shy Person with Introvert Traits Realized He Could Do More!

The Moment My Personal Wealth Journey Really Took Off

There I was, covered in blood, working in a refrigerator for 8+ hours per day, lifting 100-pound boxes, and slinging animal parts for money. It was the best job ever! I miss it to this day. However, life (and my boss) had other plans for me. If I could point to one moment in time when my professional life really took a turn for the better, the moment when my paycheck began its meteoric rise to figures I’d never dreamed about, it was then when my boss gave me what we in the company jokingly call “The Tap on the Shoulder.”

What made this so strange to me was that thought I was a hard worker, I was an extremely quiet introvert!

A Reprieve from Boredom and Frustration

I was working as a meat cutter at a regional chain of stores (that itself was a subsidiary of a nationwide company that was, in turn, a subsidiary of an international company). I had struggled for 8 years to get back into a meat room after changing companies—signing on with a much larger supermarket after quitting the mom-and-pop operation at which I’d learned to butcher. During those frustrating years I filled my time with stocking yogurt—quite a task for someone with mighty gorilla mitts, hanging price tags, and generally being miserable.

Continue reading “The Day a Shy Person with Introvert Traits Realized He Could Do More!”