February 2015

There’s cold, and then there’s COLD.

Cataclysmic COLD, my friend Marge Schiller proclaims.

I step out of a Westin Hotel in the Chicago suburbs, submerged in my red down jacket, heavy turtleneck, knit cap, gloves. Walk briskly toward the shopping mall on the other side of the street. Then I run. Really really run.

– 7 degrees Fahrenheit. I feel the COLD in my bones.

No exuberant hymns to COLD from me. I live in Florida for a reason.

But I have a few mental cold remedies. They taste good. Consider them your unexpected gifts of the cataclysm. Let them warm your heart.

COLD creates fresh common ground.

Hibernate at home if you must – but don’t do cold alone.

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Day before Valentine’s Day.

Snow mounds taller than my body flank the streets in Boston’s Financial District.

I was in a rotten mood, my friend Marc Rubin says to me as we settle into a meeting room at 2 International Place.And then it changed.

Flight delays the night before. Marc finally reached his home in the Boston burbs at 1 in the morning. Grabbed an early-morning cab into town to make our meeting and avoid the traffic mess. I got into the elevator with a woman who had a dour expression on her face, Marc explains. We rode up in silence. She got off an a floor before me. As she walked out she turned around and said to me ‘Have a nice day.’ And I suddenly felt better.

It was more than the exchange of a social pleasantry. It was a micro-moment of love. The impact of four simple words transcended the time it took to utter them.

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The first 5 minutes.

They set the stage. For a meeting. For a conversation. For the day.

They disproportionately fuel the spirit of all that follows.

What do you do with your first 5?

When I was a theatre director it happened even faster. 5 seconds.

Even before you delivered the monologue you had prepared for your audition. Even if you were physically right for the role I was casting. I knew within 5 seconds.

We often call it first impression.

Within 5 seconds I knew if the audition would delight.

The dynamics of an audition are very specific. The actor’s preparation and skill meet a whole wide net of intangibles.

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When I help you I help myself.

Blazingly clear to me as I devour Adam Grant’s book Give and Take.

Why Helping Others Drives Our Success is the subtitle.

Uhuh. When I help you I help myself.

Adam Grant is a young rockstar professor at the venerable Wharton School of Business. He sees a world divided into takers, matchers, and givers. Grant compellingly shows, a few caveats not withstanding, that givers are the ones who win the game of life.

It’s not a hollow win. It’s a deep, I know-why-I-am-alive kind of win. The win that reminds me how you and I drink from the same well.

Dana, the agent for my new book, has helped me to fashion a superior book proposal.

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