Monthly Archives: May 2014

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


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


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.
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.