What Comes First a Smile or the Joy

So, my NYU students returned from spring break and every class I teach, the same thing – sour pusses.

Some are returning to mid-term exams, others getting a taste of freedom and summer vacation only half a semester away – it’s hard to look joyous.

I was joking with my classes saying “pretend I’m not a robot and that I can actually see your faces – wouldn’t you rather see me smiling and energetic, that’s what I’d like to see from you”.

And believe it or not, the students were transformed – most put a smile on (and yes, I had to remind them a few times) but it taught all of us a great lesson that I would like to share with you this new day.

We’re all waiting around for something to happen to make us smile when the secret is take action and do it first, then something good usually happens at least with human interaction.

My friend the great radio programmer and DJ Jay Cook used to put the biggest grin on his face before opening the mic at WFIL in Philadelphia – no matter what he was thinking, or what he might be going through, the listener got the benefit of Jay’s smile even though they couldn’t see him.

And he walked around the station as one of the nicest guys I have ever met in radio.

Smile first – don’t wait for some outside event to make you happy.

Laziness Reimagined

Stop blaming yourself for procrastination, there is an often-overlooked cause of laziness and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with your shortcomings.

Hard work, focus and resilience comes from seeing what you want to accomplish so vividly in your mind’s eye that you can almost feel and touch it.

Then, how badly do you want it – “it would be nice” or is it “I’ve got to have it”.

And the rest takes care of itself.

What some call laziness is often the lack of a clear vision of what you have to have and won’t settle for anything else – the laziness is rarely ever an issue.

When managing others, keep stoking the vision.

When managing yourself – see it, feel it, taste it.

Getting Your Money’s Worth

Education is the only thing where people want the least for their money.What do I mean?

An often-asked question of learners is “How many classes can I miss?”

To be sure, divide the number of classes into the total yearly tuition and you get a rough per class cost.

If the cost is $70,000 a school year and a student is taking 12 courses the monetary value of each class is about $5,833.

In our world, even when we pay less than that for something, the first thing we want to know is “what else do I get for it?” (Verizon offers “up to $1,000 off our best 5G phones”).

The mindset that makes a difference is to value things like education exactly the way you do for material things and then ask – what else can I get for my education.

Get your money’s worth when it comes to making you smarter.

The Anxiety of Being the Best

It’s not about the most talented person on your team.

The real talent is the person who enables a team to work together.

One star doesn’t mean as much as all the other people working together – you see this all the time in sports, a superstar, everyone else and pressure to deliver.

There is so much anxiety caused by trying to be the best – to meet the moment and it almost never gets done unless there is a leader involved with the skills to integrate the talents of all the differing parts.

Controlling the Job Interview

I thought you would be interested in a student of mine at NYU who will be participating in our summer music business program in LA.

She wants to work in a talent agency that caters to musicians and performing artists so after being introduced to a top talent agent, she was told to write a 5-page paper on the future of the music business.

No problem — she took a course about that with me last semester so on the transcontinental flight from New York to LA over spring break, she pounded out the report on her laptop.

The talent agent was a tough character but he sent her to a second interview and finally one with a third.

In preparation for that final interview my only advice was what I am going to share with you this morning – don’t allow yourself to become the person they want, stick steadfastly to being the person you want to be.

Turns out she was offered a virtual internship but the university requires it to be in-person for the summer program so she had to turn it down.

The interviewer said, no problem – you can start in the fall when you return to New York.

No matter how badly we want something, it is important to remain true to who you are so that should you get the job, the employer also gets the best of you.

Stress-free Living

I’ve added a new course this semester at NYU – Stress-free Living & Working in the Music Industry – a business that helps so many people relax by listening yet imposing 73% mental health issues on the artists and musicians.

From time to time I’m going to share what we’re all learning.

For starters, that happiness does not come from being happy or even trying but from gratitude – it’s a tough sell until we realize that gratitude is the building block of resilience and that it is resilience that makes us happier.

My students and I are working on awakening the power within us to make positive decisions that reject neglect of mental and physical health and promote curiosity in discovering how being grateful truly works.

At the end of one class in which a guest spoke, I asked the students to tell the speaker what they liked about their presentation and – this is just as important – and cite a specific thing as evidence.

I went first to show an example and give them a second to gather their thoughts.

A good number of students waved their hands high to go next and the speaker was on cloud nine.  The students were elated because they could express their gratitude in such a meaningful way – with real evidence, no empty flattery.

You may want to try this at home (at holiday time, for no special reason) or at work – the power of gratitude in building resilience.

The Right to Disconnect

In Ireland, France, Ontario have the Right to Disconnect laws.

Even at the Volkswagen offices in Germany workers are no longer penalized for not answering electronic communications after-hours.

The most stress occurs when staying connected after work.

When sleep time decreases attention spans also decrease.

Unlocking the power within all of us to live as we choose based on our health and happiness starts with placing limits on after-hours anxiety that is not necessary.

Man 2.0

“We’ve kind of confused what it means to be a man, what it means to be masculine.  You’ve got this trope out there that you’ve got to be tough and angry and lash out to be strong. It’s just the opposite … Strength is how you show your love for people. Strength is how you are for people and how you have their back. And how you stick up for other people and [push back] against bullies.”  — Doug Emhoff

Breaking Up with Your Phone

Catherine Price wrote a book about this – a 30-day plan to take your life back by breaking up with your phone.

One of the quick hits worth considering is to put a rubber band around your phone so that every time you pick it up you are reminded to ask yourself if there is a better use for your time at that moment – that’s what she does.

The mission is not to stop using phones or social media that has become an addictive dark hole but to not automatically turn the phone into a compulsive action that robs you of living focused on what is around you.

Chill Leadership

Leadership has to do with helping others succeed for themselves and for the team while you work in the background.

Leadership is a stealth operation that’s why people who look like leaders and sound like leaders are still primarily pushing themselves out front.

An effective leader today is a coach not a superstar player.

In radio, productive salespeople do not make the best managers when their work is “rewarded” by a promotion to boss.

Wayne Gretzky was truly hockey’s “Great One” but he failed as a coach – in other words he could play the game but not help others up their game.

Coaches have special skills – they are not always the ones who manage from a position of great accomplishment – more so, from a recognition of what it takes for others to be a winner.