The Best Advice to Worriers

If you have a worry problem, do these three things:

  1. Ask yourself “what is the worst that can possibly happen?”
  2. Prepare to accept it, if you have to.
  3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

That is Dale Carnegie’s advice.  I have seen no better in my life.

Yet, I am a lifetime worrywart.  I think I got it from my mother who was a professional worrier.

So how do you improve on the best advice ever to stop worrying?

Remember to use it.

It always works because 99% of the time that which we worry about never happens and in 1% of the cases, what we feared doesn’t happen the way we anticipated.

So a real commitment to putting worry in its place is to start each day reciting the three things that can help most.

Ben Franklin said, “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen”.

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The Perfect Holiday Gift For Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

A number of years ago, I found myself making Christmas Eve and Christmas Day phone calls to friends and family who had lost a loved one.

I didn’t realize exactly what I was doing but over the years I kept on doing it.

The phone rings and it’s me wishing people who feel emptiness at holiday time a happy day.  It doesn’t have to be someone you know real well.

Sometimes the calls last longer than either one of us expect.

And they are upbeat because even when the loss of a loved one is mentioned, a few consoling words seems appropriate.

The conversation is easy.

Just ask questions and you’ll get plenty of answers.  What have you been doing? How is the family?  And drill down to ask about others.

If it is the first year alone, the recipient is usually surprised to receive such a call but always pleased.

Then just add them to the list for subsequent years as they look forward to the joy of catching up as much as you will knowing the real precious gift you are giving – the gift of your time.

Try it this season.  

“No matter what your heartache may be, laughing helps you forget it for a few seconds.”  — Red Skelton

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Listen to the Other Side of Silence

Just because people are quiet, doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to say.

And being talkative doesn’t mean you do.

One of the most advanced and potent human relations skills is to listen to the other side of silence.

That which is not said, but can be valuable if we listen for it in others.

Even when a person outwardly expresses a feeling, it doesn’t mean that it is their true feeling.  We humans often say things that are opposite of what we think or feel.

I have seen marriage counselors who sit between warring partners trying to get them to express what is on their minds directly to each other and then they are asked to recite those feelings back. 

Amazingly, it’s not easy even to communicate even when the two people try to listen to what is being said with the help of a psychologist.

Listening to the other side of silence requires a sensitivity for the whole of another person without prejudgment.

The ability to put in perspective what others say for it may be what they think we want to hear.  (We all do it).

Gathering information without making an immediate assessment of the person or situation is critical to effective communication.

Ironically we live in a fast paced world with more communication devices, social networking and opportunities to express ourselves and yet, the truly skillful communicator knows to cultivate a respect for that which is not said.

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” – Chaim Potok, The Chosen

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  • Jerry, this is one of the best articles regarding ourselves interacting with others. I grew up in the Jesuit culture. “In Service to Men.” I”m lucky. I leaned in high school to listen to others but also to HEAR what they were saying. I’m sharing this with my circles.

Understanding the Tragedy At Newtown, CT

The words that come to mind are …

Compassion — An outpouring of love shown to families and survivors of the shooting locally, nationally and worldwide.

Gratitude for those whose lives were spared and for our children whom we embrace even tighter today because it could have happened anywhere.

Bravery — The courage of those who were the heroes some of whom lost their lives protecting innocent children from death.

Appreciation for how first responders fought through their tears while they did the toughest job in the world. 

Thankfulness that as grotesque as they are, senseless mass shootings are relatively uncommon even though several major incidents in the U.S. every year claim precious lives.

Brotherhood and sisterhood with others in harm’s way around the world who are also the victims of rage and murder – from war zones to school buses in the Middle East where children are targeted because of their political views.

The words I search for …


Now What?

The Dalai Lama reminds us of a saying in Tibetan: “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength”.

From strength comes ultimate acceptance although things will never again be the same for the families and town of Newtown, CT.

“The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever” – Carroll Bryant

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Showing Appreciation At Work

I was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article about the do’s and don’ts of showing gratitude in the workplace.

It’s no surprise, according to the article, that the workplace ranks dead last among places people express gratitude.

If you work in the media business, it isn’t uncommon for employers to skip the compliments for fear that employees will ask for a raise.

So, here’s how to turn bad gratitude into good:

  1. The employer who walks around at the same time once a week to thank everybody is not as effective has catching employees doing something right, great or promising in real time.  
  2. Offering praise with the intention of getting an employee to work late is self-defeating.  Gratitude works best when it comes with no strings attached and that means no strings.
  3. Avoid the word “but” when thanking someone.  If you say, “you did a great job, but”, you might as well not offer the appreciation.  Believe me, the “but” is the only word the intended recipient will hear.
  4. Waiting before acknowledging a good performance is like eating stale bread.  Serve the compliment when it is fresh.

Employees like to work at places where they are appreciated and as we have said in this space before, appreciation is the number one employee demand – not money or anything else.


A study of 815 managers by The Society for Human Resource Management reveals more than half of human resource managers say showing appreciation for workers reduces turnover and 49% believe it increases profit.

We may not be able to change someone else’s ability to appreciate the work of others but we are always in control of our willingness to begin and that makes us more powerful and kinder people.

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  • I’ve told this to people about using the word but”
    If you have to use the word but as a clarification which is totally incongruous with the original intent (praise, etc.), then you’re talking to the wrong side of the person! Turn them around and talk to their butt because that’s the side of that person who will be listening when you use but incorrectly. 
    Translated: Use “but” in a compliment and the other person may be thinking, “Kiss my a**.”

  • Great advice, Jerry. Something I need to work into my ethos more, I think. Thanks.

Conquering Fear

In the movie “The Impossible”, the actress Naomi Watts plays a woman vacationing in Thailand with her husband and three children when the tsunami of 2004 hits and separates them.

It’s a real life story that has been described by USA Today as impossible to watch on screen “and leave emotionally unscathed”.

Yet Watts has a fear of water from childhood when at 14 she and her family were caught in riptides.

Watts had to overcome her fear of water to be immersed in water tanks for close-ups and underwater scenes for the film which opens December 21.

Almost everyone has fears and as long as these fears do not paralyze us, we go on with life.

The best advice I ever heard about conquering fear is to do the thing you fear to do and the fear will go away from you.

Constantly step up and confront the fear as Naomi Watts did in the shooting of “The Impossible” so that it never gets the best of you.

This is often more difficult than it sounds, but there is no other way.  Otherwise, fear takes over and ruins lives. 

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.”

— Frank Herbert

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  • Cool story, Jerry!


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

We’re giving more gifts to ourselves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Bet That is Always a Sure Thing

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

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

I said, “I can’t take this”.

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

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

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

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

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

You can probably guess the rest of the story.

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

And I learned a life’s lesson.

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

Bet on people.

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

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

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

But I had to do it. 

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

“Luck is the residue of design” – Branch Rickey

Make your own good luck by betting on yourself.

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

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

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

Dealing With Difficult People

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

If you work with them, sometimes you can quit. 

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


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

All talk, no listening.

Unwilling to bend, give or compromise.

Bullying behavior to dominate the discussion.


Not about to keep commitments.

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

Here’s the antidote:

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

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

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

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

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

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Be a More Effective Leader in One Day

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

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

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

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

A real leader begins with praise and honest appreciation.

This is the key to motivation.

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

So try it for a day.

No big announcements.

Just a little private experiment.

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

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

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

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