Buying Back Your Karma, LeBron?

This past Father’s Day was a great day for me. Not only did I celebrate my second year of being a Father, but I became Godfather to my nephew. It was a lovely church service with an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to follow, and good times hanging out with family. That was enough to make it an amazing day. Those are life events, and they’re awesome. That wasn’t the end though. As my day was winding down, I watched the NBA Finals in which the San Antonio Spurs defeated the evil empire Miami Heat to win the championship. To say that was the cherry on top of my day is understating. It’s like I was eating ice cream, and suddenly I got caramel, chocolate drizzle, peanuts, candy sprinkles, and frigging gummy bears raining down on my dessert. As a basketball fan, it was so unbelievably sweet. My only objective for watching the NBA playoffs was to see Miami lose. Why do I feel this way?

Four years ago Lebron James, who is the best player in the NBA currently, and when it’s all said and done, might be regarded as the greatest of all time, became a Free Agent. To my non-basketball watching readers, this means he was free to sign a new contract with any team of his choosing. He had played for the Cleveland Cavaliers his entire career up to that point. He was born and raised not far from there, so this was his home team. Up until this point, I kind of liked him. What followed was sort of off-putting. He decided to team up with the other 2 top Free Agents that year, and all sign with the same team, basically guaranteeing that they would be the best team in the NBA. This type of collusion had never really happened in any sport that I was aware of. This is all perfectly within the rules, so can’t be called cheating necessarily. There was a salary cap system that prevented one team from spending more money than all the rest. If the Miami Heat wanted to spend all their money on only 3 players, then I guess the other 9 wouldn’t be that great. Except for the fact that a lot of quality veteran players agreed to take less money, and play a lesser role in hopes that hitching their wagon to these guys might bring them a championship before the end of their career. So instead of having only 3 good players, they had 12 good players, and became the envy of the rest of the league. There was a TV show to announce Lebron’s intentions. There was introduction ceremony at the arena where they boldly predicted that they would win the next 5 or 6 championships. It was all really disgusting to me. I tried to imagine Larry Bird agreeing to play on the same team as Magic Johnson in order to dominate the league, and I think they would have rather died. As good as Lebron was, and as hard as the Cleveland organization really tried to put good players around him, I guess at the tender age of 25, he’d run out of patience with his hometown, and took his ‘talents to South Beach’.

I really just wanted them to lose. I would have cheered for any team who went against them. They made the finals in their first year together, and lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That was pretty sweet, but to be honest, making the finals in their first year as a new team was a pretty decent achievement. I was hoping for their failure to be more extreme. The following two seasons the won the NBA championships. I watched those games, and tried to suppress the bile from shooting out of my mouth onto the entire world. It was all happening, just like they said. I so badly wanted them to be brought down to earth. Finally this year, after making the finals for the 4th consecutive year, they ran into a team that could bring them back down to earth. This Father’s Day I got to see them hang their cocky little heads in shame as they walked off the court. That said, in 4 years they made the finals 4 times and won 2 championships. I wish I could say that they somehow didn’t live up to the hype, but that’s pretty good. I hate them.

Fast forward to now. They had opt out clauses in their contracts, and guess what? They opted out. Weird. I thought as stacked as they were, that maybe they’d go after another few championships. There was no reason to think that they couldn’t. Then this morning I find out that Lebron James is leaving sunny Miami, and going back home to Cleveland. Shocking! It is kind of a feel good story though. It’s kind of making me hate him a little less. Could it be that he finally realized that he would never feel true satisfaction from his achievements in Miami because of the way that situation had been manipulated from day one? Did it suddenly occur to him that if he were able to bring a championship to his hometown, that it would be way more fulfilling than bringing it to a place with nice weather, beaches, and a cool nightlife? Is there a part of him that isn’t whole because he basically sold out his people to take the incredibly easy road to success? I kinda think so.

I think Lebron has come to the realization that there is a thing called Sports Karma which most people don’t know about or understand. What he did only had subtle amounts of evil to it. So when Karma struck, it wasn’t in the form of a career ending injury, or a lack of success, but possibly an empty feeling that he wasn’t able to enjoy his success the way he thought he would. At 29 years old he’s decided to go against all Basketball Free Agent logic, and sign with his hometown team again to take care of unfinished business, and maybe right an old wrong by bringing that long suffering franchise a championship.

I gotta say, as cynical as I am about some of these things, I kind of like this. I think maybe I don’t hate this guy as much as I used to. I almost think that as long as it doesn’t conflict with my Toronto Raptors success, that I might be hoping Cleveland does really well. I did not recently envision a scenario where the sight of this guy wouldn’t really irritate me, but now??? I don’t really mind him. Until he does some other dumb thing I guess.


Guys….. Your Feet Are Fucking Ugly

First I want to apologize to the small number of people who enjoy reading my blog on a consistent basis. I apologize for the inconsistency. I lost my blogging mojo or something. Life’s been a little more challenging in the last while. I’m not going to make excuses, but I just kind of stopped blogging there for a bit. A bit of a shame too because I think I had a two-year streak of a blog a week going, and once I pissed that away, it just became easier to not do it, than to do it. The truth is I didn’t even miss it. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really enjoy writing. I do enjoy expressing ideas. I should just say them into a recording device and be done with it. All this typing and self-imposed deadlines kind of suck the life out of me. Now I do enjoy what I’ve written. I’ve gone back and read a few. I hope it’s not super obnoxious to say that I’m a fan of my own work, but I’d say I’ve enjoyed reading at least 60%-80% of my blogs. The typing, and brainstorming is just aggravating to me most of the time. Especially on a timeline. Plus, I haven’t made myself laugh in weeks. That’s part of the reason I blog. A good laugh. So today, if you’ve read the title, you’re expecting a rant. I’ve cursed in the title, which I try not to, but it had to be done this time. These rants are building up inside me, and I have to let fly.

First, let me address ‘The Book’. The faithful will know that I thought it would be a good idea to pressure myself into writing a chapter a week of a book, so I could get it done. This was a mistake. I’m officially shutting it down. I will continue to write that book, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It was arrogant of me to think that with no prior experience, and not a lot of free time, that I could just whip up a chapter a week of ‘book worthy’ material. I’m not happy with the quality of what I’ve written. It needs more TLC from the author. I’m not saying this is the last you’ll see of it, but I might just sprinkle a chapter in here and there when I feel inspired. It’s one thing to bang off a blog entry when you don’t feel inspired, but if you decide to write a book, you SHOULD be inspired (unless you’re extremely talented to the point where inspiration doesn’t matter).

So now that you’ve suffered through that, let me address why I’m really here. This has been burning a hole in my state of being for months. I’m here to tell all men that your feet are fucking ugly. Why are so many of you wearing sandals? Are we at a beach? Are you about to go swimming? No. You’re everywhere with these chopped up, beat up, dead nail, unkept feet that make a chicken breast whacked to bits with a meat tenderizer look like pre-Vegas Elvis Presley. I’m not suggesting you should have nice feet. You are men. Have nasty feet, I do! That’s why socks and shoes exist. Wear them. Now if you live in a 3rd World country, and you happen to be reading this blog, do what you gotta do. First World readers???? Cover up those wretched, hairy, dirty, smelly, crusty brillo pads you call feet. They disgust me. Dead skin flicking off into the atmosphere polluting the environment as you saunter around like a fucking Prince. Stop with the excuses too. Don’t tell me how oppressive the heat is, and how uncomfortable your feet are shackled in their sock and shoe prisons. If you own proper footwear, you should feel no level of discomfort whatsoever. Nothing compared to a little rock, or piece of glass getting under your feet while you’re walking which probably happens all the time. Even if you get pedicures and take care of your feet like a woman would, you are still a dude, and your feet probably look even creepier. What dude wants to have feet that look like they’ve never walked a day in their lives. That’s actually worse than having ugly feet if you ask me.

I would never say a human being is ugly, we’re all beautiful inside, but men’s feet are gross. I understand that summer is sandal time. It’s a losing battle for me, but how about a bit of compromise? If it’s not quite summer yet, how about you wear shoes? Like, if you are wearing pants for example, how about no sandals? I mean it’s too cold for shorts, right? If you’re wearing a light spring jacket, how about we rock the shoes and socks for just a bit longer? If you know you’re going to be inside for at least 80% of the day, how about proper shoes? Are you a fucking surfer? No? Shoe em up. Your feet gross me out. I don’t think I’m over-stating it. If I had a choice between holding a random guy’s foot in my hand, or reaching into a garbage can, and grabbing a fist full of garbage, I’m not hesitating. I’m just hoping for banana peels. You’re offending me. Knock it off.

A proud parenting moment….. My son is a year and a half old. On about 5 separate occasions, we have tried to get him to wear sandals. Each time we get the same reaction. He fights us. We overpower him. He tries to take them off. We don’t let him. He cries, and stands in one spot like his feet are in a bucket of cement, and he’s about to get thrown into the ocean like Bruce Willis in ‘Billy Bathgate’. He won’t even take a step. He despises it that much. As much as I hate the wasted investment, there’s a part of me that’s proud of him for not wanting to take part in something as dumb as guys wearing sandals. Even though his feet are totally not ugly yet, he somehow knows that the whole notion is idiotic, and he refuses to participate. That’s my boy.


My Mother-In-Law’s Eulogy

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet (by my standards anyways). Because as we know, Carmencita was short….. and of course very sweet.

I first met Carmencita Catli in 2002 when I started dating her eldest daughter. I remember how easy she made it to feel comfortable in their home. I remember how welcoming and accommodating she always was. I remember being totally and completely fascinated with the concept of a rice cooker, and how you could have warm rice available to you 24 hours a day. I had heard that culturally it was typical to walk into a Filipino home and immediately be offered food. I’d also heard that the polite response was to sit down and eat. Carmen loved to cook, and when I would come over, there always seemed to be multiple meat options available which is right up my alley. We had an interesting dynamic right away, because if you love to cook, it’s always nice to have someone around who loves to eat. If you love to eat, it’s always preferable to have someone around who loves to cook. She spoiled me ROTTEN. She took note of all my favourite dishes, and just about every time I went over there, we were having one of my favourites. The beefsteak, the Adobo chicken wings, the barbecued Kalbi, She set the standard for how I feel all Filipino cuisine should taste. I think the reason there aren’t that many Filipino restaurants out there is because everybody thinks that their mom makes everything best. Well she became my Filipino mom, and she finally had a white son who had a stomach like a bottomless pit. Nothing was getting thrown out. I tried to help with the dishes a few times, but she wouldn’t let me. She’d say ‘Leave it… You go relax’…… Then I would insist. ‘Hey, you cooked, let me just help’, and then she’d say ‘LEAVE IT!!!!’ ‘Ok, I’ll go relax’.

Soon I found out that she was an avid golfer. It wasn’t long before we were golf buddies, and opportunities to play with her kept cropping up whether it was a little par 3 course, a top-notch course, or even a tournament that she was able to get me into. She was a tiny woman, so she didn’t have prodigious power on her golf swing, but I NEVER saw her hit the ball anywhere but straight down the middle of the fairway. I could hit the ball a lot harder, but not straight. So while I was in the forest having tantrums and looking for my balls, she would methodically work her way to the green 100 yards at a time. Golfing with her wasn’t so much about her golf game as it was about her snacks. She always had enough food with her, so that if Zombies attacked, our four-some could survive for at least three days. She made sure everyone was hydrated, using sunscreen, and had the proper equipment to play with. If you made a great shot, she was the perfect cheerleader, and made probably an inappropriate amount of noise while dancing around the green after a good putt. It was the type of excitement, that I’m sure only the pros have seen. We had great fun on the golf course.

In 2008, Carmen was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. When I do the math, it was like half the time I knew her. I remember being told at the time that she would be limited to approximately 2 to 4 years. We all felt an incredible sadness upon hearing this news. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because I feel like what followed was nothing short of incredible. Carmen didn’t slow down at all. She seemed to react well to chemotherapy, which I’m told is one of the worst things in the world, but you wouldn’t know she was going through that based on her attitude and her demeanor. She had her bad days, but when she had good days, she got up and did something, whether it was golf, shop or travel. She lived 6 more years and saw both of her daughters get married, and not only witnessed the birth of 3 grandchildren, but became a huge part of their every day lives. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel with her on 4 separate occasions during this time, from Maui to Orlando to Vegas. She didn’t slow anybody down. Now in a celebration of life, I didn’t want to bring up cancer necessarily, but during her epic battle in which she defied all odds, the positivity, the grace, the strength and perseverance, the positive attitude, the way she never let it get her down, or if she did, she wouldn’t let it show, and refused to let it bring others down…. to me this is a big part of her story.

Last year we had an opportunity to take her golfing at Taboo up in Bracebridge which she had indicated was her favourite golf course. I sort of felt like it would be the last time we would end up doing something like that together, so I wanted to go there specifically. I’ll be honest now and say that there were a few times when I thought we’d be doing something for the last time, and it wasn’t the case. I don’t want to cheapen her memory by comparing her to the Energizer Bunny, but she did keep going and going and going…….So we were somewhere on the back 9, and Dave and Mayur were off somewhere looking for a ball or something….. not one of mine this time. Carmen said something to me which I’ll never forget. She didn’t always open up with this kind of stuff, but maybe it was the sunshine or the beauty of the golf course that led to the moment, but she said ‘Ryan, you know what?? I’m so happy. I really love my life. I love having grandchildren and spending time with them.’ In light of all that has happened, it made me feel really good to hear her say that. She was loving life right up until the point where she was physically unable to anymore.

Carmencita left us with many great gifts. She was probably the most thoughtful person I’d ever known. Her selflessness, and giving nature made everyone around her feel like a million dollars, in some cases falling all over ourselves to try to make it up to her or do something nice for her. She was a giver, and when it came time to reciprocate, she just wanted us to ‘Leave it’, because it made her happy to be of service to all of us. When she came over to babysit her grandson, he’d already be asleep, and all she had to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. The minute we walked out, she would run into the kitchen and start doing the dishes or whatever. I was kind of embarrassed, I’d tell her to please leave everything, but she wouldn’t listen. Every time. To the point where I felt like if she was going to babysit, I had to go clean up the kitchen first.

While this is still short and sweet. I just wanted to leave you with the following thoughts. While I’m happy that she’s no longer in the pain that she’d been recently experiencing, her absence has left a void in our lives that we will feel for the rest of our lives. To have known her is to have experienced love, fun, strength, positivity, generosity, and a great sense of belonging that can only happen when you are welcomed into friendship by someone like her. She is a bright light that continues to shine in the lives of all who have been fortunate enough to be a part of her life. Carmencita Catli, I’m glad I knew you.


The Book – Have A Plan

So much of achieving your cool actually has to do with avoiding uncool behaviours and situations. We’ll go through a lot of these, but we can’t spend all of our time avoiding the uncool. We have to march towards the cool like an army of relentless soldiers. We already know it takes discipline, but what are the behaviours universally associated with cool? There are about 500 million of them. Let’s start with having a plan. Then have a backup plan. Then have a backup plan for your backup plan. Then accept the fact that nothing in life will ever go according to those plans. Sound logical?

Life is short. When you get older, you realize it and wish you had been more productive when you were younger. When you’re young, there’s no sense of urgency, because you feel like life isn’t short, and your dumb little young brain is impervious to that kind of information. Older people are forever trying to warn younger people of this fact, but to no avail. Let’s just say that at some point in life, it feels like the fast forward button has been pushed, and everything moves way faster. Most would argue that totally sucks. So this next little bit of advice doesn’t necessarily relate to your cool as much as it is just general life advice. Decide what you want to do, and start doing it. Even if it’s totally wrong. You can make corrections later, but you can’t get back the time you wasted trying to decide. I think the idea of a bucket list is sort of morbid, but you need to have some idea of things you would like to do in your lifetime. It’s probably important to get a good education and have a great career as part of this plan, but I’m not your parents, I’m just a guy trying to write a book about cool. For our purposes here, I’ll need you to make a list of every cool thing you have ever wanted to do, both short-term and long-term. There’s no due date for this homework assignment. It should take you your entire life to make this list, as you’ll always be adding to it, but when you first start it, you’ll have had your whole life up to this point to have thought of these things, so I expect your list to already have at least 50 awesome things that you’ve always wanted to do. They don’t need to be easily achievable either. Don’t limit yourself when making this list. If marrying into Royalty is the most absurd thing on your list, I think pursuing that is a great way to waste your life, but my opinion of this list doesn’t matter. Only yours does. You always wanted to be an astronaut? Write it down. You’ll also have to make sure that some of the items on your list are achievable short-term objectives. Think of things you’ve always wanted to try like an exotic food, or a challenging activity.

Take this list, and post it on your fridge. Every time you go to get yourself a snack to eat on the couch, you should be reminded that you are a person with hopes and dreams. Even though it’s really important to have this list, you shouldn’t attach too much importance to it. The completion of the list isn’t the point of the exercise. In fact, it would probably decrease your cool factor if you let this list hijack your life, and let your success at the completion of the list affect your self-esteem. What this is really all about is direction and ideas for when you feel like you don’t have any of either. As soon as you post this list on your fridge, you should realistically never complain of boredom ever again. If you ever say that you are bored, then subtract a few points from your cool factor. People don’t want to hang out with people who are bored. To make up those points, you need to be a person that cures others of boredom. In the event that you aren’t a fascinating conversationalist, you’ll need to have an idea of what to do with the time you’re allotted. If there’s not a lot going on in your life at the moment, then you should refer to this list, and start working towards one of these objectives. I’m not suggesting that you aren’t allowed to spend a few evenings on the couch watching sitcoms or ballgames if that’s how you unwind, but the cool people are out doing cool stuff. What are you doing?

Having dreams is cool. Having the courage to share your dreams with friends and family is cool. Being supportive of other people’s dreams is cool. Trying to make your dreams come true is cool. Helping others make their dreams come true is cool. Being able to recover from your dreams not coming true is cool. Dreaming new and different dreams when your other dreams didn’t work out is cool.

One of my greatest regrets stems from certain behaviours that I exhibited while in high school. I didn’t have a very clear perception of what cool was, which probably led me to think that a book like this should exist. I went to a school that had a Performing Arts program in it. So there was a lot of creative energy flying around at all times. The school plays and musicals were always a cut above what you might normally see at a high school because we had so many talented people who were passionate about what they were doing. I wasn’t part of the Arts program, and I don’t regret that one bit, but just going to that school presented a lot of opportunities to get involved with some of the creative projects that people were working on. I did take Drama classes, and I loved acting and writing, but beyond what was expected of me as a student, I didn’t participate in anything. Even though there were probably all sorts of opportunities and outlets for my own creativity. When I would hear about, or even watch some of these performances, I always secretly envied these students for pouring their hearts and souls into something, and then having it come to fruition. Witnessing their performances with a negative attitude from the back row probably seemed cool to me at the time, or maybe to whomever I was spending my time with. In my heart I probably wanted to be part of that creative energy somehow. Just to see the joy on their faces after everything they had worked for had finally happened was bittersweet for me. I was in slacker mode, and more of a hater than a participator. God forbid that a performance required some sort of vulnerability or a strange outfit. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone for that. It was just easier to sit back and watch other people take chances. I don’t want to use a played out ‘caged bird’ analogy, but I had a lot of creative energy bundled up which I haven’t always been eager to share with the world, and I probably would have enjoyed letting more of it out when there was such an abundance of opportunity to do so. To this day, I’m not always able to sum up the balls to participate in really cool things, but I guess if I’m to give myself a small slice of credit, I’ve always been fairly supportive of other people’s creative endeavours . So I get half a point on my cool factor for that, but lose a full point or more for missing out on opportunities to take part in something that I might have really loved, possibly because I was worried that my slacker friends might have thought I wasn’t cool. The irony is that today I believe I was incredibly un-cool for even giving a shit what any of them thought. I didn’t find this out until later, but the true essence of cool is to follow your heart and your dreams while being completely unaffected by other people’s opinions of your choices. The lesson?? Don’t let people hold you back. Don’t hold yourself back.

Getting back to having a plan, here is the best tangible advice I can give you during this chapter. This will work at any age, under all circumstances to elevate your cool factor a bit. This will be important for dating, hanging out with friends or spending time with family………

Know your town and be a ‘Life DJ’

Knowing your town is the first step. It’s the research part of this 2-step cool tool. In your personal activities, try to avoid a lot of repetition. This is harder than it sounds. You may have a restaurant that you love, and want to go back there over and over again. I’m not saying that’s bad, but you have to check out a lot of different restaurants. If there are ‘fun’ things to do like bowling, or roller skating (not everyone considers these fun, but you know what I mean), you need to know where these places are. If there are hang-outs like coffee shops or pool-halls, scope them out. If there are festivals, or cultural events, know about them. If there are live music or comedy or theatre venues, familiarize yourself. You want to have a good working knowledge of everything that is cool in your town. If you are from a very small town in a remote area……(sigh)……. I’m sorry. This isn’t going to help you that much. If you are from or near a big city, there will be an almost limitless amount of great things for you to find out about. There should be lots of resources available to help you with this too. Think websites and community newspapers, or websites OF community newspapers. The whole point of this endeavour is so that you always have ideas when it comes to going on dates, or hanging out with friends, or entertaining out-of-town family members. You should be an ambassador of your town. The benefit of having these ideas is that if a good time is had by all, you will be the all-star that organized it or came up with the idea. Also, from a backup plan perspective, if a good time is not being had by all during an outing planned by you, or someone else, you can always easily segue into another activity which makes you the rescuer of a bad night. Now before you get too happy with yourself, don’t you dare take credit for it. This isn’t about you. Just let people quietly be in awe of you and how well you know your town. Chances are they’ll look forward to hanging out with you again.

Now that you know your town, you can be a ‘Life DJ’. A friend of mine told me I was a Life DJ once. I had never heard this phrase before, so I don’t know if he made it up, or if it’s an actual thing. He explained that a DJ in music suggests and informs you of all the good music that you need to be listening to. While I like to do that with music as well, he suggested that I was the type of person that tried to get other people to experience cool things whether it’s music, food, travel or otherwise (and possibly pesters people relentlessly until they try my recommendation). I was really happy to receive such a thoughtful compliment. (Be a giver of thoughtful compliments, and add half a point to your cool factor. Be a guy who writes a book, and talks about thoughtful compliments he’s received, minus half a point, but it was worth it.) I think everyone should be a Life DJ. If we’ve experienced awesomeness in life, then who are we not to share it, and encourage people to experience it with us? I love finding the ultimate souvlaki (for example), and bringing people to that restaurant so they can try it, and watching their faces as they enjoy it for the first time as well. Why would I be selfish about that information? It’s meant to be shared. From a cool factor standpoint, I think it’s really well looked upon to be the guy that recommended a great experience for others, and possibly even went along for the ride. Now that you are armed with ‘knowing your town’, you could be that ‘Life DJ’ for some of your friends. If you’re at a phase in your life where you are dating, how great would it be to be to never run out of great ideas for places to take that person that you’re trying to impress? If you have friends or family visiting from out-of-town, wouldn’t it be cool to show them all the best stuff that only an insider like yourself would be able to compile? If you’re a music fanatic, and really know your stuff, then aren’t you making other people’s lives better by recommending great albums? If you’re movie buff, and you’ve just seen the most amazing film, isn’t it your job to encourage other people to see it? There are a million examples of how you could be a Life DJ. Share the awesomeness of the world around you. You will make people happier for knowing you, and it will increase your cool factor. The best part is that you don’t need to have a particular skill set to make this happen. It just requires some research and some enthusiasm. If you want to go to the same place over and over and over again, then you better be really interesting in some other way. People get bored with stuff. If you can cure them of that, then you are indeed, very cool.


The Book – Cool Requires Discipline

COOL REQUIRES DISCIPLINE

Nobody said this would be easy, least of all me. Most people never fully achieve their cool potential because there is always something that could be improved upon. It’s very much like Golf in the way that no matter how hard you work at it, or how much success you have with it, you will never be perfect. It’s also like golf in the sense that a Golf swing has so many moving parts, and sometimes you can do a lot of things right, but one flaw can mess up your whole swing. In fact, almost everything I’ll say about cool in the next paragraph can relate to Golf as well, but it would be totally un-cool for me to continue on with these Golf analogies while your Cool Factor is hanging in the balance.

There will be people out there who are just cool without having any idea how they got there. It’s like any skill that you can be ‘a natural’ at. They just instinctively move toward the cool without even knowing that they’re doing it. Good for them! I would say that most people spend at least a bit of their life feeling unsure of themselves, and wondering how they could walk among the seemingly chosen few that were blessed with the cool gene. The first thing you need to know is that trying a new thing, getting a tattoo, or wearing a name brand shirt isn’t going to get you there. You need to walk cool and talk cool all day every day, but before you can even do that, you need to find out what cool is, and understand it. I’ll try to help you with that throughout, but at the end of the day, only you will know what cool is at your age, in your town, among your people, and most importantly in your heart.

Where should you start? Figure out what you think is cool. Most people instinctively would try to find out what other people think is cool, and start moving towards that ideal. This is the wrong approach. You can’t be someone else’s cool. It doesn’t work. You need to find your own cool. You can certainly get ideas from other people though. You just can’t let anyone know you’re getting ideas from them. Be a watcher, but don’t make it obvious that you’re watching. You need to have some Coolfluences, which are people who you perceive to have a good supply of all around cool. Find out why they’re cool in your eyes. What do they look like, smell like, talk like? How do they react to things? What do they believe in? What do they stand for? How do they treat people? What are they into? How do they dress? Ask yourself these questions. Come up with a hundred more questions. Then ask these same questions about yourself. Are there any similarities? Differences?

Now if you think I’m going to suggest that you start acting, dressing, talking like the above person on your way to being cool, you’ve got another thing coming. If you think someone at your school, office, gym or pet cemetery is cool, you can’t just copy their haircut and think that’s gonna cut it. It doesn’t work like that. That would be copying, or biting which is unoriginal, therefore uncool. Don’t ever try to be like someone. Be yourself. Just tweaked. Think like a Rock Star. Everybody that makes music has influences. It’s usually quite alright to pay homage to some of these artists, by allowing them to influence your sound. However, if you spend your whole music career trying to sound like a certain artist, then you can’t be a cool Rock Star, you can only be a Cover Band. I’m not suggesting Cover Bands can’t be cool. As long as they own it, and don’t try to act like Rock Stars, they’re alright in my book.

So allow yourself to be coolfluenced, but don’t be a biter. How do you do that? By diversifying your coolfluences!! It’s very likely that you find more than one person to be cool. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of people who you find cool. So to diversify your coolfluences, you are taking an aggregate of possibly hundreds of cool people, and utilizing the relevant information from each of them to form a cool consensus. If you are borrowing cool ideas from 600 people, it’s very difficult for anybody to notice that you aren’t in fact coming up with all of these ideas on your own. If you have only 2 coolfluences, then you are likely acting exactly like them, and people will easily be able to tell where you got your style from, and that’s not a good look. By that rationale, why am I recommending that you borrow inspiration from anyone at all, when you could just use 100% original ideas of your own? Let’s be honest with ourselves, if you were 100% happy with your original ideas, you wouldn’t be reading this book right now. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Cool has long been established. Just look around you, and take the ideas that work for you, without letting anyone know you’re taking them.

So I’ve asked you to find 600 cool people and ask yourself 100 questions about why each of them are cool. Sound like a lot of work? Of course it is. Cool requires discipline. This process will take longer than a week. Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. Cool is no different, although you will find that it comes easier to some than others. It’s no different from school, really. The more you study, the better chance you have of getting good grades. The unfair reality is that some people will be able to get good grades without studying. Just like some people are inherently cool. If you aren’t inherently cool, but aspire to be, then you need to do the homework. In cool, like in school, don’t be hating the people who come by it easily. Hating in general is detrimental to your cause. Jealousy is negative a million points on the Cool Factor scale.

When you’ve found your 600 cool people and asked yourself 100 questions about what makes them cool, it probably makes sense to write down the answers (IN A PLACE WHERE NOBODY WOULD EVER FIND THEM, BECAUSE IT WOULD BE SO INCREDIBLY UNCOOL AND WEIRD IF ANYBODY EVER DID………SCRATCH THAT, DO NOT WRITE ANY OF THIS DOWN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES). Then you need to analyze the answers to these questions. Were there similar answers that came up over and over again from multiple subjects? If you found that most of your 600 cool people smelled good, were kind to children, and had awesome hobbies, then maybe YOU need to smell good, be kind to children, and have awesome hobbies.

Remember that these are 600 people who YOU selected (I’m totally exaggerating about that number, but do as many as you can), and 100 questions that YOU came up with, to get 100 answers that YOU analyzed. How you interpret that data can be the foundation for what YOU think is cool. Even though you pulled that data from a lot of different people (unbeknownst to any of them), the final pool of information should be 100% unique to you, and therefore totally authentic. How, and what you decide to implement into your own character or lifestyle will determine how cool you become in your own eyes. The cooler you become in your own eyes, surprisingly, the cooler you will seem to other people.

This is a lifelong pursuit. You must be always focused on the cool. Never stop watching, listening and learning. If you’re older and you feel like you’ve attained your cool, but then you give up learning about it and pursuing it, the cool will elude you. In the worst case scenario (and I see this ALL the time) you can become stuck in a time-warp of cool. 1985 cool is cool in 1985, but not cool at the time that I’m writing this book, but I’ve seen a lot of people who are 1985 cool, and completely oblivious to time marching on. They walk around with a ridiculously outdated hairstyle, and questionable fashion choices, and have no idea how ridiculous they look. To be clear, if you look like 1985, and you’re not doing it on purpose for some sort of weird Hipster irony thing, then you cannot be cool in whatever year it is right now. You must never stop evolving. The cool will always evolve. You either evolve with it, or get stuck. I would argue that it’s almost better to be completely ‘un-cool’ than stuck in a cool that no longer exists, but that’s just me. Not to beat the crap out of this point, but you should be cool no matter how old you are. There are different standards for cool to accommodate different age groups, so I’m not saying that 60 year olds should dress or act like teenagers, but there are too many people who think it’s okay to just mentally check out of your cool after they’ve had a kid or two. It’s not OK. You can tone down your Coolspectations, but you cannot get stuck in some freaky pop culture and fashion time warp. You are not serving anybody’s best interests when you do this.

Here are a couple of examples of basic cool concepts that most people need to address on their journey to cool.

Example #1
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s a big one for me. This may sound basic, but if you like the way everyone on your list smells, how do you smell? Maybe there are some hygiene products that would help you smell good if you don’t already. By the way, if you aren’t sure if you smell good, then you probably could upgrade. Maybe cough up a few bucks for a nice bottle of cologne. My recommendation is to not to pick the one that Johnny from the gym has. Go to the fragrance counter at your local department store. Try a few on. Different fragrances work well with different skin. There will be a perfect fragrance for you. I always favour a unique scent instead of the wildly popular one that everyone wears. That’s just me though. I always like to imagine that some girl I used to know will smell a cologne I used to wear somewhere years later, and then starts feeling nostalgic about me. This is only made possible by a unique cologne choice, because if you’re rocking some Calvin Klein scent that 8000 people at your high school had, then nobody will remember it was you that wore it. That probably doesn’t happen for me in real life, but in my head I believe it does, and if I don’t believe something like that in my own head, then nobody else will, but we’ll touch on those things later in the Confidence chapter. To summarize, finding the fragrance that suits you best is WAY cooler than buying a popular fragrance because you heard a lot of cool people had it. That’s lame. Not as lame as not smelling good, or worse….. smelling bad.

Example #2
I’m guessing that every person who goes through the exercise of finding 600 cool people, and asking themselves 100 questions about why that person is cool will come to the conclusion that they like the way cool people dress. This is one of the most paramount things with being cool is looking cool. Again, some people just look cool, and hardly have to work at it. Others won’t be able to achieve this with such ease, but it’s a learnable skill to be sure. Be aware of fashion! You don’t have to follow it too closely unless you want to. You just have to make sure that you aren’t completely out to lunch with your wardrobe choices. I can’t sit here and explain to you what I think you should be wearing. What I think is irrelevant to your cool. Besides, any fashion tips I could give would be outdated by the time you read this book anyways. The most important tip I will give you is the following. Wear clothes that look good on YOU. You can spend money but you don’t have to. You can buy great fashion brand names, but you don’t have to. Get clothes that look good on YOU. I capitalize that because so many people see clothes that look good on other people and think ‘I wanna buy that’. I can’t emphasize this enough. Just because something looks good on someone else, doesn’t mean it will look good on you. Find what looks good on you. Also, don’t feel like you can’t look good because you don’t have a lot of money. Some of the most stylish people I’ve met are thrift shoppers. If you’re willing to spend the time to understand fashion and style, or at least have a minimal working knowledge of it, you should be able to find clothes that work for you under any budget. If you look good, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel good. Looking good and feeling good leads to confidence, and confidence leads to cool.

There are people who you will identify as cool. You can’t take the same path to cool as they did, but it is good for you to know what their path was, and if there was anything to be learned. At the end of the day, whoever you think is cool will have achieved that through their own unique self-expression. While it’s important to know why you think other people are cool, it is only through your own unique self-expression, that others will find you cool. It sounds easy, but for most people it’s a bit of a process. With a little research, some implementation of some cool tools, and a better understanding of your own personal cool, you’ll be well on your way.


The Book – Own It

OWN IT

There are lots of ‘cool rules’ that we will go over that are general ways of being. You can apply them to a million situations, and they will generally point you in the right direction. I think these are more valuable than advice that is too specific, like ‘how to behave at a roller rink’ or something stupid like that. You may never go to a roller rink in your life, so I had to cut that chapter. This chapter stays, and is number one, and it’s called ‘Own It’. At the time I’m writing this book, this is a phrase that’s being used a lot. Maybe overused. Maybe by using it as well, I am decreasing this book’s cool factor right off the bat, but I happen to think that it beautifully sums up a behaviour essential to achieving EVERYBODY’s cool aspirations.
Owning it refers to taking responsibility for ones thoughts, words and actions. Be who you are, and celebrate it. As humans we are all incredibly flawed. Some more than others. It’s a normal human reaction to try to camouflage, avoid, or be ashamed of these things. Nobody could fault a person for reacting this way. It’s a strong bet that most people have things in their life that they’ve said or done that they would rather not have people know about. Everybody has a few secrets. If every moment in our lives was a proud one, then I surely wouldn’t need to write this book. How you react to these situations is very important to your cool factor.
What if we just owned it? What if we embraced our flaws? Isn’t that part of what makes us who we are as individuals? Isn’t there some coolness associated with being an individual? Who’s judging us anyways? Something interesting happens when you start to own all of your unique characteristics, both good and bad. You start to realize that other people’s opinion of you doesn’t matter as much as your own opinion of yourself. You start to realize that other people can’t hurt your self-esteem unless you allow them to. There’s something empowering about admitting you’re wrong, acknowledging your weaknesses, realizing that your mistakes are learning opportunities. Trying to make people believe that you’re perfect is exhausting! It’s also (counter intuitively) no path to cool. Pretending to be something or someone you’re not is generally done for the purpose of greater acceptance. The irony is that it’s universally way cooler to just be who you are. If you want to take it up a couple of notches, go over and above just being who you are, and actually try to enjoy who you are. The by-product of that exercise is that while you’re enjoying who you are, it makes it easier for others to enjoy who you are as well.
Now I’m not here to suggest that everybody just has to start being an open book in order to be cool. There is a negative cool factor associated with over-sharing depending on the situation. I obviously can’t break down every situation and give you a ‘cool judgement’ in this book. You’ll have to figure it out on your own, but what kind of book would this be if I didn’t give you a few examples??
Example #1
Be able to take a joke. Especially when the joke’s on you. This is a great one for young people, because this does get easier with experience. How you handle yourself, when people are having fun at your expense is a great indication of how cool you are. Your first instinct will generally be to have your feelings hurt. You need to get past that. In my experience, if you laugh along with the perpetrators, and are unafraid to poke fun at yourself too, it takes some or most of the sting out of the attack. When people see how well you handled it, your cool factor will increase immediately. If you’re not the type of person that can be easily handle this kind of teasing, then fake it til you make it. You can always go to a public bathroom and throw up afterwards if you want, but while people are watching, you have to be cool.
Some people take this skill a step further, and develop a self-deprecating sense of humour. Let’s not take this too far. It is very cool to be able to poke fun at yourself occasionally, but when you become the bully that is constantly making yourself a punchline in order to get a laugh, shut it down. The confidence it takes to be unaffected is what makes you cool here. You can’t try to backdoor the cool making yourself look like an idiot to show how comfortable you are with it. Take the joke, don’t make the joke. Everything in moderation.
Example #2
Know how to shine! This is all about balance. I think there’s nothing wrong with being quiet and unassuming. I think it’s great when you can be awesome at something in life, or at life in general, and be humble and modest enough so the whole world doesn’t stink of your accomplishments. If you have the restraint to not rub your greatness in the uninterested faces of every single human being you come across, then you are someone to be admired.
THAT SAID, I don’t necessarily think it’s cool to downplay your achievements in life that you worked your ass off for, just to seem humble. Shine unapologetically!! If you are Superman, then the world doesn’t benefit from you running around in a Clark Kent outfit all day pushing your oversized glasses back up onto the high part of your nose. There’s nothing cool about being a great singer, and then only singing in the shower. If you are one of the chosen few who are blessed with the ability to do great things during your time on this planet, then recognize that ability, and get off your ass and do something about it. The universe wants you to succeed. After years of working to put yourself in a situation where you can succeed, you serve nobody’s best interests by making the whole thing a big secret. Own your success! It’s your job to get out there and inspire people to be courageous enough to follow a similar path. That’s cool to me. Just don’t be an arrogant asshole about it.
Example #3
Share your passion! If you’re nerd, a sports fan, a groupie, an antique collector, a cigar enthusiast, someone who loves to play Bingo, or belong to any other niche category of interesting people, don’t be ashamed of your perceived weirdness. You’re not weird, you’re passionate about something that other people don’t know about. Maybe that means you need to hang out with like-minded people. Or maybe it means you should share your passion with people who have absolutely no idea how you became interested in such things.
So you’re a bug collector. I know that’s not the classic example of cool. You should have a story to tell. You should be able to articulate your passion. If I met you at a party, and found out you collected bugs, there’s a good chance that I’d be curious to know why. What do you love about it? Why is it the best hobby ever? Know the answers to these questions, and be able to sell the ‘bug life’. People may not find it interesting, but if you share your passion, they might find you interesting.
The exception to the above advice is knowing your audience. During this conversation, look for the non-verbal cues that I actually give a shit before you really drill down and give me a long-winded explanation of the Earwig’s mating habits. It’s best to keep to surface nerdiness with strangers.
Summary
Whether it’s accepting negativity, acknowledging positivity, or being passionate, you need to own these things in order for your cool factor to climb a few notches. People want to experience the real you. I’m not underestimating the courage it takes to actually be yourself, and be proud of who you are despite the fact that like most of us you are probably riddled with imperfection. It’s having that courage to step out, and be who you really are that truly makes you cool. Take responsibility for, and embrace all aspects of your being. It sounds easier than it is.


The Book – Intro

As promised, I’ve started my book. I suppose this is a rough draft because if this week was any indication, I’m going to have to re-write these chapters over and over again. Is that what writers do?? Ughhh…. too much work. Anyways…… Hope you enjoy!

INTRO

Before we get started, I need to explain how you should handle owning this book. This is a self-help book of sorts, but not a coffee table book. In fact, it’s best that nobody knows you own it. One of the cool rules is that you must never let the world know that you’re trying to be cool. It’s probably the hardest thing to pull off. If you’ve invested in this book, you are either a friend or relative of mine, but in the event that you are actually part of my target market (people trying to find a way to increase their cool), then you should really keep this book a secret. That doesn’t help my marketing at all, but for you it’s crucial. Trying to be cool without appearing to be trying to be cool is the trick to this whole thing. It’s a hard enough thing to do, but if someone in your circle finds out that you bought a book to help your cause, your cool factor will decrease dramatically. Plus the relentless teasing!! Counter intuitive, right?? Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through it, but rule number one is to keep your ownership of this book discreet. It’s like rule #1 of Fight Club.

I’ve had the idea to write this book for a long time. Ultimately whether we’re prepared to admit it or not, we devote a good chunk of our lives to the pursuit of being cool, or accepted among our peers. For something that so many people aspire to, I’ve always been surprised by how few resources were available to actually make this happen. This book (if executed properly) is designed to be a manual of sorts to increase your ‘Cool Factor’. You’ll hear me refer to this many times over the course of the book. What I’m referring to is the idea that your coolness is a sliding scale and can increase or decrease with just about every move or decision you make. Not every last one of these ideas will strike a chord with you, and nobody can be expected to execute every idea in this book all of the time. I do believe however, that no matter how cool you think you are, or how cool you’d like to be, that there is something here to be learned or perhaps reminded of. My mission here is to pull together a few relatively tangible suggestions that could be helpful to your Cool Factor no matter who you are. There is no perfectly cool person in the world, so there is no perfectly written book that could ever make you that person. We are pursuing excellence, not perfection.

What is cool? It’s a moving target for sure. There’s no real definition, other than it might be the most time-tested slang word for describing your approval of something. Approval can be very important for members of society, yet overtly seeking approval is actually not considered cool which can be very confusing. It’s not conventionally cool to admit how badly you want to be cool, and the irony is not lost on me that purchasing this book might not qualify as cool either. If you watch movies involving teenagers, especially from the 80s, the beginning of the movie usually has the jocks, or the rich kids representing cool, but as the movie wears on, the nerdy main character always ends up being the cool one. That transference of cool is arguably the driving theme behind most teen movies. Teens do tend to have the biggest desire for acceptance, but I would argue that it never really goes away completely. It often just gets buried among life’s other priorities. Adult cool and kid cool take on different forms, but they both stem from the same desire for acceptance. Perhaps kids are more keenly aware of cool, but adults who think it no longer matters are likely experiencing some sort of denial. We evolve somewhat, but at the end of the day, no matter how many kids you have, or how great your job is, or how distracted you become with the real stresses of your life, social anxiety never goes away completely. A lot of people think that we should grow out of that stuff, and that it no longer matters in the real world. I would argue that it matters even more in the real world, but the standards do change.
Cool means different things to different people. The standards of cool to a teenager vary greatly from those of a 45-year-old. Regionally and culturally there will be different behavioural expectations as well. Every individual has a different list of things that they value. For me to be able to tackle this project, and say that there’s a single path to cool that everyone can follow and have success with is impossible. What I think is possible is to come up with some ideas that are designed as action items to increase your cool factor. I can’t change whatever ‘cool tools’ you brought to the table. If you’re rich and good-looking at the time that you’re reading this, then you have some building blocks to work with. It may be a longer path for others. What I can hopefully do is help you walk the path toward cool. I can’t guarantee that the girl of your dreams will fall for you after this, or that you’ll get that promotion at work that you’ve desired. I think if you are able to use some of these concepts, that you can definitely get cooler. Will I give you your money back if not? It’s totally not cool for you to ask for your money back.

Who am I, and what makes me cool enough to write a book about being cool? That’s a very good question. I’m not really qualified to write a book like this in any way, but who is? I’m not an author, I can’t even really sit here and tell you for sure that I in fact am cool. It’s very subjective. If you asked 100 people who know me if they thought I was cool, I feel confident that 70 of them would say yes with a straight face, and if that’s not true, I’d rather not know. Who said I have to be cool to tell you how to be cool? Does a professional sports coach have to be a good player to be a good coach? I think most of the great coaches weren’t the most gifted players, but they paid attention to the details, and made the most of their talents as players. Then they were respected enough to get coaching jobs later. So I feel like I could be a good cool coach even though I might not be one of the coolest people you’ve met. In order to figure out how to be cool, I think it’s important to understand what it’s like to feel like you’re not cool. It allows you time to actually try to think these concepts up. If cool comes very naturally to you like it does for some, then you probably don’t need to think about it as much, therefore making you less qualified to write a book about it. See? I basically just told you that I wasn’t always cool, and if I am now, it’s because I worked at it.

I didn’t go to school for this. I’m not aware of any school for this. There should be one, but again, it wouldn’t be cool for you to go to it. I think like any writer, I’m a people watcher. Like any kid I wanted to be one of the cool ones, but I always felt like I was in the middle of the pack somewhere. I definitely wanted to increase my own cool factor as a kid, but didn’t necessarily know how to do it. The information wasn’t conveniently in one place. I had to try a few things. Some worked, and some didn’t. Is it as simple as buying that shirt, watching that TV show, or using that slang? I used to watch cool people, and try to pick up things, and implement them. Was that a good approach? Or is it as simple as just being yourself and letting the cool come to you? The truth is that those approaches might work, and they might not. Cool is an elusive lady. If you want to spend some time with her, you’re going to have to treat her with respect.

I have one last thought before we start to drill down. Try to remember that cool is not an absolute. It’s fairly temporary in nature. You’re only as cool as your most recent expression of cool, unless you are able to demonstrate a consistency of cool, at which point you will be considered cool. Clear? Remember integers in math? It was simple addition and subtraction using positive and negative values. If you think of a straight line and have zero plotted in the middle, with positive 1-100 on the right, and negative 1-100 on the left, that is what I think of as a cool factor. Your cool factor can move up and down. The closer you are to zero, the more likely that you can go from cool to not cool very easily. If you build up enough cool points, then you can still do a few uncool things without affecting your overall rating. Now picture every act in your life as having an either positive, negative, or even a neutral effect on your cool factor. Now for all you nerds that think I’m about to assign a point system to this, I’m not. I just wanted you to understand that cool moves in positive and negative directions. I don’t find unnecessary math to be cool, so I’m going to shut this concept down right here. No drawings, no point systems. I basically just wanted you to know what I picture in my head when I refer to a cool factor, which I will do ad nauseam.

Are you ready to increase your cool factor?? Good! Let’s do this!!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 311 other followers