From the Desk of Bob Mankoff:

Bob Mankoff had some good advice to the presidential candidates following last week’s debates. Advice that everyone could take. Memo to the candidates: Humor can be an effective way to communicate your message. 1. By making it memorable. Funny points are repeated more than unfunny ones. 2. By creating a positive mood in the audience, so that it makes them less likely to disagree with you. 3. By making you more likeable. 4. By making your opponent less so. 5. By making it more difficult for the audience to conjure counterarguments to your answers, because humor is distracting. 6. By directing some humor back at yourself, to make you even more likeable and preëmpt your opponent. Here’s the rest of …

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Teach Your Children Well: How to Develop Successful Kids

When I was a young father, I wanted my young children to be very good at everything they did. I wanted them to be very good students, very good athletes, very good thinkers, etc.

Although they never took a great deal of interest in sports, they did well enough in school and became bright and athletic thinkers.

By the time they had become young men, my desire for them to excel at everything had evaporated. And in its place was something else: pride and satisfaction in knowing that they had become independent and kind.

Many parents, I believe, experience the same shift. When their children are small, they want to see them excel because they believe that childhood performance is an indicator of future success. But as time passes, they come to have a more realistic view of maturation.

One of the most important recognitions is that the most important stages of childhood development are all marked by the need to separate in some way from the parents.

This makes perfect sense when you consider us as creatures of evolution. When our children are helpless, our instinct is to nurture and protect them. As they grow older, they acquire habits (biting the nipples that feed them, breaking free of the hand that holds them, discovering music their parents abhor, etc.) that promote independence.

This is as it should be. A mentally healthy parent learns to accept and eventually desire his children’s independence.  

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Focus on Your Strengths

Some people are intrinsically social … others are intrinsically thoughtful.You can’t change these proclivities and you shouldn’t try. Instead, you need to discover them and make use of them. I have known extremely successful people whose only talent was in socializing. But socializing won’t make you rich … strategic networking will. Likewise, Rich Schefren and I are intrinsically thoughtful. But thoughtfulness won’t get you rich … strategic thinking will. Step One: Discover your hidden talent. Step Two: Unleash it. Step Three: Direct it.

The Wrong Way to Help the Poor

Some people believe that charity (helping people in need) is a bad idea. Recognizing the challenge of charity (making people dependent), they take the position that all charity is wrong. This doest make sense for so many reasons I won’t bother mentioning them. I will say only this. I know a few people who espouse this radical approach publicly and yet provide charity privately. This brings us to the more relevant question: what role should government have in charity? And that is where the argument gets interesting. At one end of the spectrum are people that argue government should have no role at all. The government’s job is only to protect freedom and property. Frederic Bastiat’s monograph, “The Law”, does …

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Dealing With Debt

A dream: You are on a beach of golden sand. You have a large bucket, large enough to carry a million dollars’ worth of golden sand. You put a scoop of sand in the bucket. Then another. With each scoop, you feel richer. But then you notice something. The bucket isn’t getting fuller. There is a hole in the bottom, out of which sand is escaping. You work faster, hoping to fill the bucket by adding more sand quickly. Yet, as fast as you fill it, the sand escapes. Still you move faster, and still the bucket will not fill. In fact, the level of sand in the bucket is getting lower! This is the problem with trying to get …

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Deep Thinking

Today’s post comes from my good friend and neighbor, Bob Irish. Read his compelling argument below. I mowed the lawn today, and after doing so I sat down and had a couple cold beers. The day was really quite beautiful, and the brew facilitated some deep thinking on various topics. Finally I thought about an age old question: Is giving birth more painful than getting kicked in the nuts? Women always maintain that giving birth is way more painful than a guy getting kicked in the nuts. Well, after another beer, and some heavy deductive thinking, I have come up with the answer to that question. Getting kicked in the nuts is more painful than having a baby; and here …

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More on Big Ideas

A Big Idea, in the information marketing business, must be more than just catchy and suggestive. In other words, information marketers must do more than create David Ogilvy’s idea of a Big Idea. A Big Idea for Ogilvy was a cowboy smoking a cigarette while perched on a horse. That works for selling cigarettes but it wouldn’t work for selling books and newsletters and other information products. In the world of information publishing, a Big Idea must contain within it an exciting, arresting thought – a thought that directly or indirectly promises something that the prospect desires. It must also be immediately ascertainable, intellectually stirring, and emotionally compelling. A Big Idea instantly drives the prospect toward a foregone conclusion by …

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