Today’s Word: declivity (noun) – A declivity (dih-KLIV-ih-tee) – as opposed to an acclivity – is a downward slope or inclination. As used by Arthur Young in A Tour in Ireland: “The declivity on which these woods are finishes in a mountain, which rises above the whole.”

Did You Know?: The U.S. once had paper money in the amount of 3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents. These “fractional bills” were issued by the Treasury from 1862 to 1876 in the face of a growing coin shortage.

Worth Quoting: “Don’t lose faith in humanity. It is an ocean. A few dirty drops does not make the ocean dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Watch This: “The World’s Biggest Jerk” is so good, I almost wish it didn’t have a happy ending…

 

 

 

Today’s Word: interloper (noun) – An interloper (IN-ter-loh-per) is a person who interferes or meddles. As used by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy, a bastard, or an interloper.”

Did You Know?: In Japan, you can buy all sorts of things from vending machines. Not just condoms and cigarettes and snacks and cans of soda, but comic books, hot dogs, light bulbs, women’s underwear, and alcohol.

Worth Quoting: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

 Watch This: Wouldn’t it be cool to have this guy delivering pizza to you when you’re having a dinner party?

https://youtu.be/Oky9Q7xXe88

 

 

Today’s Word: mortality (noun) – Mortality (mawr-TAL-ih-tee) is the condition of being dead. Not to be confused with morbidity (mawr-BID-ih-tee), which is the condition of being ill or diseased. As used by William Shakespeare in The Life and Death of King John: “We cannot hold mortality’s strong hand.”

Did You Know?: The country with the longest average life expectancy, according to the World Health Organization (2015), is Japan at 83.7. Japan is followed by Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Iceland, Italy, and Israel. The USA comes in at 31, with an average life expectancy of 79.3. South Koreans and Slovenians live longer, on average, than Americans. The countries with the lowest life expectancies are in Africa, with Swaziland at the end of the tail at 49.18.

Worth Quoting: “Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales.” – Bertrand Russell

Watch This:

It’s very seldom that I come across a “public service” message that I can’t at least quibble with. And want to quibble (if not argue) with because I’m instinctively uneasy with someone else telling me what to do, especially when it comes to my private life. But I could find nothing at all to quibble with after watching this video…

 

 

Today’s Word: torpor (noun) – Torpor (TAWR-per) is sluggish inactivity; lethargic indifference. As used by Sarah Bernhardt in her memoir My Double Life: “I did not want to move again, and the torpor seemed thoroughly delicious.”

 Did You Know?: A hardboiled egg will spin, an uncooked egg will wobble.

 Worth Quoting: “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.” – Dorothy Parker

 Watch This

 Very funny! I didn’t see it coming.

 

 

Today’s Word: maladroit (adjective) –Someone who is maladroit (mal-uh-DROIT) is unskillful, awkward, bungling, and/or tactless. As used by Alexis de Tocqueville, describing a French cabinet minister: “His mind was narrow, maladroit, provoking, disparaging and ingenious rather than just.”

Did You Know?: The human head weighs, on average, 8 pounds and contains 5 trillion atoms.

Worth Quoting: “The gentleman calls attention to the good points in others; he does not call attention to their defects. The small man does just the reverse.” – Confucius

 Recommended Reading

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

By Amy Cuddy

2015, 352 pages

 When she was a college sophomore, Amy Cuddy suffered a brain injury in a car crash that reduced her IQ by 30 points. She was told she probably would not be able to finish her bachelor’s degree.

She did, of course. Then she went on to graduate school and eventually got a PhD in Social Psychology from Princeton. That was how she introduced herself when she gave her now-famous TED Talk in 2012.

I am always skeptical of overcoming-all-odds stories – especially when the details are hard to verify. So I read Presence skeptically. And that skepticism swelled every time the author referred to herself as a scientist.

Impressive bio and academic credentials aside, Presence is essentially a self-help book. In some circles, that is a bad thing. But when self-help books are based on the writer’s actual experience and those experiences are replicated by others, I want to listen.

Turns out Cuddy has some good advice on how to feel more confident and exhibit more personal power by practicing certain physical behaviors. The habit of smiling frequently, for example, improves one’s disposition – even if the smiling is artificial.  Habitual frowning has the opposite effect. Walking tall – if you make a habit of it – will make you feel more confident and that confidence will be noticed and respected by others.

Today’s Word: panoply (noun) – A panoply (PAN-uh-plee) is a complete or impressive collection of things. As used by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins: “Humans are just a very, very small part of the panoply of life, and it is arguable that in a certain sense, humans have emancipated themselves from Darwinian selection.”

Did You Know?: In most lotteries, the chance that you will die on the way to buy your ticket is greater than the chance that you will win the big prize.

Worth Quoting: “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” – Umberto Eco

Watch This

The Elephants That Came to Dinner

 

 

Today’s Word: inalienable (adjective) – Something that is inalienable (in-AIL-yuh-nuh-buhl) cannot be taken away from you, surrendered, or transferred to someone else. As I used it today: “Consciousness: the greatest natural gift — your innate and inalienable ability to experience the world around you, to notice and to appreciate a million possible things.”

Did You Know?: During his presidency, Thomas Jefferson refused to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. According to most historians, because it was considered to be a day of prayer, he believed it violated the First Amendment. (The part that prevents the government from recognizing or favoring any religion – which has come to be known as “separation of church and state.”)

Worth Quoting: “It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” – George Horace Lorimer

 Watch This

An old friend and Vietnam vet sent this to me:

 

 

 

 

Today’s Word: amortize (verb) – To amortize (AM-er-tize) is to gradually pay off the initial cost of an obligation (such as a mortgage or car loan). As used by Porter Bibb, best known as the first publisher of Rolling Stone: “NBC corporate is looking to get the best return they can on the $80 million that they paid for the broadcast rights to the World Series. Obviously, the longer the series runs, the better they do in amortizing their investment in getting the rights.”

Did You Know?: Male penguin court a female by searching the beach for the perfect pebble and placing it in front of her.

Worth Quoting: “By the age of fifty, you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.” – Marya Mannes

Q&A

Why You Must Know (or Learn) How to Sell Your Products

LD wants to know: As the founder/head of a business, if you have some other sort of expert knowledge, is it necessary to learn the marketing side as well?

The short answer is “yes.”

If you are not an expert marketer yourself, it makes sense for you to partner with someone who is. But don’t allow yourself to stay ignorant of the marketing and sales secrets. You must learn them as they are discovered. As founder/head of the business, you must become a master at selling your product/service… even if someone else does the actual work.

If you don’t, you will always be at the mercy of your marketer. If sales are good, he will be able to demand more compensation than you want to give. And if you refuse, he can leave you without a marketing machine. Or worse… he might start another business to compete against you.

So if you are not an expert marketer now, you are going to have to engage someone to fill that role. Problem is, you won’t be in a position to know if the person you hire is up to the job.

After a few weeks or months, you may find out that he doesn’t meet your needs. And then what will you do? My suggestion: Pay a big signing bonus to acquire the best talent you can. But write a contract that lets you disengage after 3 to 6 months if you are dissatisfied with him for any reason.

And let your new marketer know that he has two jobs: to sell your products and to show you exactly what he’s doing. That way, if you do have to let him go (or if he leaves), you won’t be completely up the sales and marketing ditch.

Today’s Word: brouhaha (noun) – A brouhaha (BROO-ha-ha) is an uproar, a noisy and overexcited response or reaction to something. As used by the British writer Tom Hodgkinson: “Truly, the bench is a boon to idlers. Whoever first came up with the idea is a genius: free public resting places where you can take time out from the bustle and brouhaha of the city, and simply sit and watch and reflect.”

Did You Know?: In traditional Japan culture, saying “no” directly is considered rude.

Worth Quoting: “Without that element of uncertainty, the bringing off of even the greatest business triumph would be dull, routine, and eminently unsatisfying.” – J. Paul Getty

Check It Out

On October 16, I told you about the premiere of Off the Rails, a coming-of-age movie that my friends and I wrote and produced. It tracked a few years of our lives back in the rocking 1970s. Here’s a look at the new poster we’ll be featuring in March at the US premiere in Miami. Notice those laurel leaves on the bottom. Looking good!

And here’s a link to the trailer for the movie: https://www.offtherailsfilm.com

 

Today’s Word: Schadenfreude (noun) – Schadenfreude (SCHA-den-froy-duh), a German word, is a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction when something bad happens to someone else. As used by investment manager James Chanos: “I’ll always understand the Schadenfreude aspect to short-selling. I get that no one will always like it. I’m also convinced to the deepest part of my bones that short-selling plays the role of real-time financial watchdog. It’s one of the few checks and balances in the market.”

Did You Know?: People recall smells with 65% accuracy after a year but visual recall sinks to 50% after only 3 months.

Worth Quoting: “We are all born unfree and unequal, subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group, diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of characters.” – Will and Ariel Durant

Recommended Reading

Lake Success

By Gary Shteyngart

2018, 352 pages

Lake Success is the story of Barry Cohen, a wealthy hedge fund manager who likes to believe his wealth is deserved, despite the fact that his funds have all gone belly up. You might think of him as Willy Loman selling hedge funds… or a Jewish Jay Gatsby before he comes to West Egg.

Lake Success is Shteyngart’s attempt to step beyond the realm of social satire – a genre of literary fiction that he brilliantly mastered with Super Sad True Love Story– and into Great American Novel territory. And Lake Success has all the requirements: The background is America, the protagonist is flawed, and through his journey to find himself, the reader discovers something important about the culture of the country.

Ultimately, though, I see it as a failed novel. And that’s because it lacks the one thing all GANs have: the author’s deeply felt sympathy for his protagonist.

That said, a strong recommendation from me. A failed Shteyngart novel is still a very worthy and very enjoyable read.