The Blog

You wouldn’t expect the author of a book called The Benevolent Dictator to have much patience for people who cry at work. Would you?

But Michael Feuer, former CEO of OfficeMax who’s graced the talk show more than once, told me he doesn’t read tears as a sign of weakness. He reads them as a sign he’s doing something wrong.

Hence the word benevolent, huh?

When someone starts crying -- or yelling, for that matter -- you can take it as a sign productive communication is over. You don’t have to give up on that, but unless you stop for a moment and reassess your technique I wish you luck getting anywhere you want to go.

You probably know people who keep tickling after you beg them to stop. Who keep teasing after you tell them it hurts. Who won’t let up with the accusations when they couldn’t be further from your truth.

If they refuse to read the signs it’s your job to hold up a bigger one.

It’s red and white, has eight sides, and will help you turn a corner -- if you take it seriously.

Are you a bully?

 

4/23/14

 

You wouldn’t expect the author of a book called The Benevolent Dictator to have much patience for people who cry at work. Would you?

 

But Michael Feuer, former CEO of OfficeMax who’s graced the talk show more than once, told me he doesn’t read tears as a sign of weakness. He reads them as a sign he’s doing something wrong.

 

Hence the word benevolent, huh?

 

When someone starts crying -- or yelling, for that matter -- you can take it as a sign productive communication is over. You don’t have to give up on that, but unless you stop for a moment and reassess your technique I wish you luck getting anywhere you want to go.

 

You probably know people who keep tickling after you beg them to stop. Who keep teasing after you tell them it hurts. Who won’t let up with the accusations when they couldn’t be further from your truth.

 

If they refuse to read the signs it’s your job to hold up a bigger one.

 

It’s red and white, has eight sides, and will help you turn a corner -- if you take it seriously.

 

~

Who ups your game?
April 22, 2014

When I found out my friend Colleen had subscribed to my blog, I tweaked that night’s post for an hour. I’m not kidding.

Wasn’t I already as picky about wording as it’s possible to be?

Apparently not.

Talking with Colleen or even just thinking about her inspires me.

You’re supposedly the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I’ve only met Colleen in person once and I don’t know her very well at all. What I do know, though, makes me want to do a better job at life.

Because you only get the one...

cowThe light we just bought -- the one that’ll help me apply makeup in even the most dimly-lit hotel bathrooms -- was anchored to a sturdy piece of cardboard backing with contraptions that took Darrell a while to assess.

“Do they have instructions for freeing the light from the cardboard? On the back of it, maybe?” I asked. Then I realized how silly that would be. Darrell agreed. But if they did, he guessed they’d be under a heading that read: “How to Steal This.”

When I was little I submitted a question to a national newspaper column that catered to curious kids. “Why the ‘T’ in T-shirt?” not only made the column but rated a headline in my hometown paper: “Omahan learns why of ‘T’ in T-shirt.” Which inspired so many other questions. Like what the heck I’d been thinking. What did I think the T stood for? What? And if I was so curious, why didn’t I just ask someone a little more worldly? A baby brother or sister, perhaps.

During the talk show I once asked a career consultant who’s also a triathlete if the Ironman is a year-round sport. He was gracious as he explained you don’t do Ironmans in the northeastern part of the country in the winter. Then it hit me, how difficult it is to swim through ice.

Darrell thinks a willingness to ask the silly questions is essential for a talk show host. What’s silly to one person, after all, is often what the next person would ask -- if he wasn’t afraid of embarrassing himself.

A question about cow sex comes to mind. It wasn’t something I’d posed on the talk show, thankfully. It was on the way to California several years ago. Darrell fielded one question after another as we made our way across the desert, and Katie was enchanted. The laughter kept building until my big finale, at which point Darrell bent over the steering wheel and started laughing so hard I thought he’d never stop.

If you want to find out what I asked, let me know.

I hesitate to fill you in here.

It’s that silly.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

“Why don’t they just water ski somewhere else?”

You’ll have to watch this video of people dodging Asian carp to understand why Darrell laughed so hard at that question.

“They’re doing it on purpose,” he said. “They’re demonstrating, in a lighthearted way, how pervasive the species has become.”

Oh.

What do you doodle?
April 16, 2014

Darrell and I were about to have a conference call with the team who’s going to rep our radio shows. I’d written the ringleader’s name down so I wouldn’t embarrass myself by forgetting that, and then I started drawing a little beehive of circles next to it.

At the risk of revealing there’s nothing too trivial for me to dissect I asked myself the following: “Why circles?” The last time I remembered doodling -- in college, believe it or not -- I drew triangles.

This means something, I bet.

So I looked it up, because the Internet knows everything. It seems I’ve moved from “purposeful and meticulous” to outgoing and honest, if not totally confident.

That rings true.

It reminded me how, after my divorce, I started crossing my T’s from right to left. I couldn’t figure out why, and it was such a sudden switch I couldn’t stop wondering what it meant.

Is this what it means? “When the T bar goes back to the left, representing the past, it shows introversion.” Divorce has a way, I think, of making you introverted. You’re a little less eager to hand over your soul to just anyone. So there’s a possibility that analysis is dead on.

I understand handwriting analysis -- or doodling analysis -- as much as I understand astrology or professional wrestling. Which is to say, not at all.

I don’t discount what I don’t understand, though. I’m sort of a sucker for the mystery of it. And Darrell’s such a skeptic it helps keep things even more interesting around here!

Do you have tact?
April 15, 2014

“You know I’d follow you to the ends of the earth.”

That was Katie’s way of saying tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert wouldn’t enchant. That was my era, not hers.

But can you imagine a sweeter way of telling me? I can’t.

I was glad to take it off the list, then. Nothing spells stressfest -- or “bend over,” as Darrell would say -- like Ticketmaster.

But Billy Joel? At Madison Square Garden? That’s another story.

Watch for it, here. After the sting of the credit card statement wears off!

Nothing beats a good night of sleep to set the tone for a fun, productive day.

It starts with being exhausted the night before because you made the most of yesterday.

It continues with getting to bed in enough time to reflect on that as you drift off.

How do you make up?
April 10, 2014

makeup photoWhen I worked for a big company in the Kansas City office, one of the women asked how I got my makeup so perfect every time. The question surprised me, because she was like almost every other gal in that group. Stunning. We’re talking beauty pageant contestant gorgeous.

We were at an off-site seminar at the time, and the light in the bathroom where I got ready was garish. Bright, harsh, can’t-even-stand-to-look-in-the-mirror awful. So by the time you felt presentable in that light you looked pretty darned good everywhere else. It was the same light I had in my apartment, if memory serves -- hence the question.

Now granted, if you do a good job on your makeup people won’t realize you’re wearing it -- or it won’t be so noticeable they think to mention it.

But who am I kidding? I wear makeup. Sue me.

I’d forgotten the whole natural light thing during our home renovation. I’ve been doing dishes in the bathtub for six years. Having enough light to apply makeup in had slipped down the list of priorities. That is, until we holed up with Katie in her dorm room (oops! residence hall!) for a week while her roommate spent spring break elsewhere. The light in Katie’s bathroom leaves a lot to be desired -- until you feel presentable there. Then everywhere you go when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror you think, “Not bad!”

It strikes me how much of getting ready -- for the day, or for life -- involves learning, unlearning, and relearning.

Change the lighting, get so much more out of the time you spend getting ready.

Use your ring finger to blend eyeshadow or whatever it is and it’ll look so much softer and better -- and be so much gentler on your skin. I’d given Katie that tip years ago, and last summer she reminded me what a great one it was -- after I’d long forgotten it. Now it’s my routine once again. Thanks, kiddo!

I don’t where Katie learned about eyelash mites, but ever since she told me about them I’ve never not washed my face before turning in.

Kate’s always had a light touch when it comes to makeup. She’s a natural, so to speak. Add makeup artist to the seemingly endless list of careers she could excel at.

Meanwhile I’ll try to remember what I’ve already learned from her -- and from me!

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson