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The Gift of Knowing What to Say

When I was in elementary school, I rebelled by acting out in class.  I was class clown in the classical sense.  Being silly gave me attention and rewarded me in way that I needed at the time.  It lead me to think and believe that I show be a stand up comedian as an adult.

Several high school aptitude classes later and a degree in Communication, I fell into the lap of Marketing and later Sales, because that’s what people do.

It was only after one particularly unfulfilled day at work, that I stayed up late surfing the mobile web, looking for ‘something’.  That ‘something’ ended up being a trip down memory lane, in Mrs. Horiuchi’s 7th grade history class.  I signed up for Improv Comedy Classes, of which I had no previous experience doing.

It has been an incredible 2+ year journey and counting.  I feel like I’m beginning to itch the scratch of my 12 year old self and building a new skill set that I never knew I needed.

Some of the key lessons I’ve picked up:

Improv teaches presence.  If you aren’t locked-in on your world around you, then you are officially lost on stage.  Your teammates are counting on you to be real without notice.  That means you can’t think about your mortgage, or sports, or your career while in a scene.

Improv teaches acceptance.  Everyone on earth has a reality of the world/experiences/expression in their mind.  Most times it’s different than your own.  If you can’t accept another persons reality, and add value to it, you simply can’t grow a meaningful relationship with them.  It’s amazing how valuable this is in everyday conversations.

Improv teaches teamwork.   For new improvisers, ‘funny people’ struggle to be good teammates and non-naturally funny people struggle to take chances.  A good team has a balance of personality and activity, but if you follow the basic rules of Improv–the playing field is completely level for both naturally funny-unfunny people.  The best improvisers learn to be assistants to their team.   They make others look better, and in turn make sets look better.  Selfish improvisers struggle.

Improv is a confidence builder.  Very few people on the face of the earth experience performance in front of a paying audience.  It’s such a unique motivator.  It keeps you from getting complacent.  And then, walking off of a stage where people don’t hate you (at least) after paying their hard earned $5 is grounds for being able to conquer just about anything else.

I recommend Improv, at least classes, to just about every person that casually inquires about it.  It’s worth a look, even if you don’t do anything beyond 4 weeks in a classroom.

Here’s a link to the place that I’ve taken improv lessons at.

Improv Lessons



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Brain Reboot in 2013

Brain Reboot in 2013

If you are a human, you’ve probably discovered that reaching your BIG PICTURE year end goals/resolutions (whatever you want to call them) are not that easy.  If you are not a human…Salutations, brethren.

The fact of the matter is that the things that we intend to happen often times wont work out exactly how we expect them to.  However, I’ve learned in the past year that if you are open to interpretation and adaptation you can still achieve what you have set out to.

The Tornado

I dedicated the year 2o13 to ‘education’.  I expected to further my professional knowledge depth by taking extra-curricular classes and staying more diligent in my required daily industry research.  Knowing my shortcomings, deeply rooted in procrastination, I signed up for an online business class with Coursera in January.  January, as to not wind up crunching a years worth of agenda into late November.  Already I had felt accomplished.

After falling behind within in week 1, not completing the required study materials in week 2, and deciding that staring at my monitor was not a well matched learning procedure in week 3;  I became discouraged.  The required means of studying (sitting in front of a monitor after sitting in front of a monitor for 8 hours) just didn’t spark any solid resolve out of me.   I wanted to get better through study, I just couldn’t push through the distractions.  My birthday came and went, and per usual, I reflected on my lifetime of accomplishments.  As the perfect storm brewed of underlying frustration and discouragement and a typical birthday reflection period,  I regressed.  I crawled into a hole emotionally and productively.  Feeling beaten professionally, my personal life began to suffer.  I caught myself caring less and less about my future, people, and the routine of it all.  My unavoidable mental conversations went something to the tune of ‘I’m now 34 years old, I’ve accomplished none of the things I’ve set out to, I’ve wasted time, I’m too good for my current professional state, the light is nowhere visible in this tunnel, and I’m no longer attractive to my significant other.’

All triggered because I failed at taking an online class (a free one, mind you).  

The spiral struck like a tornado, and took me to a place I never expected or wanted to be, much like a real tornado might.

I needed to be fixed, and I needed it FAST.  My year, and more importantly, my life was being turned on it’s head by an unwarranted case of the blues.   After a few hard and pressing conversations with my girlfriend, I decided that it was no longer solely within my capacity to tear down the obstacles that I had created for myself.

The BIG Shakeup

Sometime in June, I received recommendation from my Doctor to seek counseling from a Narrative Therapist.  Narrative therapy, unlike the regular Freudian stuff, is a more non-blaming, non-diagnosis type that just picks up on the issues as they occur today and seeks to show you the reality of them out from behind the veil of false perceptions.  I’m not an expert, that’s just how I’d interpret it.

Unwavered by the social stigma for seeking such guidance I began to go regularly and the real education of 2013 began.

My interest in peer comparison, material objects, unreasonable expectations, and aging fear all began to slowly melt away with every hour long session.  Other interests began bubbling up within me and surfaced.  I built myself a desk in June, an undertaking I have never come close to tackling previously…

Desk DIY

For me, the concept of building a desk meant more than just taking raw material and turning it into usable furniture.  It was a transformative project.  Over 35 hours, I planned, learned, and overcame obstacles to invigorate a sense of pride that I hadn’t felt in a while.  It was life affirming.

Later in the same month, I impulsively began taking Improv Comedy classes.  As early as 6th grade, I can remember idolizing stand up comics and even professing that I would one day become one.  Why not give it a go 20+ years later?

Improv has a really liberating effect that I can barely explain.  If you’re not familiar, it is a discipline of comedy that is delivered with no prior preparation of material and is driven by audience participation.  Yes, just like ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’

One of the most important lessons in Improv is to develop a trust of your own instincts.  If you attempt to write lines for yourself in your head, or pre-determine things you will do and/or say, you will be frustrated.   It won’t go as well as you hope it will, and not until you clear your mind and make yourself exceptionally present can you shine brightest.   It’s about listening, being attentive, and reacting with clarity of mind.

In August, I developed a new brainstorming strategy founded on principles I’ve had for years but never pieced together.  It’s been received so well by my professional peers that It’s leading to exciting new business opportunities in 2014 (already rolling).  Any connection to Improv there?  You’d better believe it, sweet cheeks.

At the close now of 2013, I realize that though I’m nowhere near where I expected to be; not only have I achieved my goal of ‘education’ but far exceeded the desired outcome. When I fell off track, I tried something completely different.  I’m lucky enough to have been open to those opportunities.

FTW, 2014!

In September, I began to feel ‘right’ again.  I made amends with the universe and started to understand and enjoy myself (by the help of Therapy and Improv) in a way that I haven’t previously.    The time was as right as ever to get engaged and seal the commitment to my then girlfriend, now fiance, that I had set for earlier in the year:  That I would fix me and in turn fix us.  In 2014 we’ll do the wedding thing.

In February of 2014, if all holds suit, I will be performing Improv on stage in front of a live audience as a culmination of my six months of studying it.  I plan to make Improv a part of my history in 2014 and continue to honor it as a craft.

January 2014 will be a kickoff for a new business partnership that is rooted by already successful peers that believe in me and have unbelievable vision.

My brain is different, better, rebooted…

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Get Fat & Rich for the Holidays

Get Fat & Rich for the Holidays

If you’re not selling jelly beans, Lincoln logs, or iPads, the holiday season could mean a period of sluggish business and a variety of distractions.  A lot of executives may travel and others just pack it in as there aren’t many decision makers around for…decisions.

What is there to do then for the entrepreneur or serial business hunter:  How about take a little time to connect with people outside of your circle, find a little culture, and explore while still keeping tabs on your analytics accounts from home?  The value in this activity will be a tall cold glass of refreshment, distant from fighting crowds at the mall and picking at remaining Thanksgiving leftovers well into December.

The holiday season is the ideal time to GET RICH.  Not financially however, more existentially.  If the economic boom blog post was the one you were seeking, I’m here to inform you that you can now look elsewhere.  This is not the droid you were looking for.

We’re getting rich with a new experience.

Let’s call it a sociological adventure.   We’re going to expand what seems to be an always shrinking world with the power of the pen.

Here’s what I’m doing and what I’d like to encourage you to do and report your findings…

1. Go to MapCrunch – A site that allows you to travel to a random place at the click of a button.

2. In the right hand side toolbar, leave all countries selected (as-is) and click the ‘Urban’ checkbox.  This will give you a higher likelihood of being randomized into a residential area, though they use a pretty loose definition of that.mapcrunch















3. Click ‘Go’, and for a few milliseconds, wait with anticipation.

4. Take a look at your location and try to get your bearings.  I was dropped in a neighborhood in Peru.


Peru Neighborhood









5. Explore your area for a bit and see if there are a suitable amount of what appear to be private residences in the area.

6. If it’s looking pretty well-established, take a look at the location details in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.


Fortunato Peru



7. Because it’s a bit easier to operate, take that location information and drop it into Google Maps

8. Now comes the challenging part.  In your quaint little neighborhood, do some snooping and find an address on the closest home.  You may need to travel around the block a bit to find one visible enough.

Google Maps Address













9.  You should have a full address and can now send this residence a HANDWRITTEN LETTER.  When was the last time you did such a thing?  The handwritten letter is certainly a lost art for most of us, but can be such a rewarding experience.

You might be saying, ‘Dan, thisiscreepytheywontrespondwhatiftheydontspeakenglishIdontwantto-giveareturnaddresswhatifImputonaterroristwatchlist?’.

I don’t care.  Just cut the bullshit and send it.  There’s certainly a high likelihood that any number of scenarios would interrupt our little penpal experiment.  Send it anyways, there’s also a chance that someone could receive your letter and be enthusiastic to respond from across the world.  The risk IS worth the reward.

Here are some things you may want to ask and write about that are a part of my letter:

I would first, of course, give a nice detailed introduction of yourself and make the interceptor feel comfortable.  Tell them about this experiment and that you wanted to learn something new/outside of your comfort zone.  Take a fair amount of time to express what your daily life is like and what challenges you face, also what you are thankful for.  The goal thereafter is to incite the recipient to share the same, and bring you into their world.

Then, if it isn’t too much trouble, come back here and share your experience with others and I promise to do the same.

If and when they respond, share this experience with your family and friends.  Ask them to do the same and compare your results.  If it doesn’t work the first time, try again in a different location.  Start from scratch.  You may just make a new friend from a place you’ll never visit or vacation to and learn something culturally significant.  It’s my GET RICH FAST strategy for the holidays!  🙂

The get ‘fat’ thing?   I imagine you wont need my help in doing so over the holiday season.

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Robots Are Taking Our Jobs

…Or so it may seem. The question is, are we slowly creating a world where human manpower will become obsolete, or are we simply not thinking about what value we provide that a machine may never be able to.

John Hagel offers a suggestion that would mean an entire rethinking of the future business model, which to his credit in identifying has gone virtually unchanged for a century.

Most employees are, for scalability sake, replicatable devices in a big company. The cog tighteners tighten cogs, the miners mine, and the analysts analyze; all of which could essentially be replaced at some point by specialized robotics.

What is our future among more capable-more efficient employees?

Fortunately enough for us, there will ‘always’ be a very important differentiation between robots and employees. Robots don’t have a childhood, travel, ride horses, open presents, maintain social circles, or get inebriated on weekends. And somewhere near a million other things that shape our personality and influence; essentially, the soul that we have that inspires us. Robots have no source of inspiration and most important to our job security, innovation. Innovators will always have a place to work in the future, but have less importance in a current business infrastructure that requires replication for grand scale.

If we are currently in the era where Geeks are king, the future is bright for people that think out of the metal box.

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Doing it for this guy…

When I was 4 years old, the world was an entirely different place. I hadn’t yet been influenced by anything but my parents, making almost every experience fresh. I’m finding that working in an environment where you can so easily be distracted by shortcomings, challenges, and people who test your patience this guy 4yr is keeping me grounded.

I often forget how it felt to not think about boundaries as they exist today. There are so many reasons and excuses to not complete a task, or to allow projects to take a turn that I haven’t intended, all the while there still lives a little child inside of me that thinks about the world without cloudy filters. This is the energy that I’ve rediscovered and empowered myself with to keep pushing forward without second guessing actions. The child inside is incompetent and yet to be jaded. It’s simply about doing what feels instinctually right

If you can be your 4 year old for a day, how would you approach your tasks thinking that any amount of magic is possible?

The Gift of Knowing What to Say

When I was in elementary school, I rebelled by acting out in class.  I was class clown...
article post

Brain Reboot in 2013

If you are a human, you’ve probably discovered that reaching your BIG PICTURE year...
article post

Get Fat & Rich for the Holidays

If you’re not selling jelly beans, Lincoln logs, or iPads, the holiday season could...
article post

Robots Are Taking Our Jobs

…Or so it may seem. The question is, are we slowly creating a world where human...
article post

Doing it for this guy…

When I was 4 years old, the world was an entirely different place. I hadn’t yet...
article post