What it means to bless somebody

It just dawned on me recently that I had never really thought about the meaning of the word 'bless'. that when you are blessing another person, what you're really doing is the opposite of cursing.

It's not just something gods and angels do, but people can do it too. And the way you do it is to look at someone and do the opposite of what you'd do to harm them: Try to help them. NOT save them, mind you, just provide some comfort and letting them know they are loved.

Which is to say, have a conversation with them. REALLY listen to what they're afraid of or hurt by, and then instead of exploiting it or saying something that cuts them to the core, you say the thing to them that is both truthful and uplifting.

It's not easy. At first, you might come across creepy or suspicious because it may not be natural, but with some practice and effort. Example: two nights ago I was working late and took a Lyft home. The driver told me he was working to become a voiceover actor in video games. So we chatted about games and other stuff and then as I was getting ready to leave, I told him I hoped to play a game someday with characters in it that he voiced.

Nothing incredible. Maybe he’s already forgotten it. 

But what if he hasn’t? What if he went on to make something truly outstanding. And what if you I had played even a tiny part in making my next favorite game? 

Imagine if you got really good at it. You could become known as the guy who knows precisely just what to say in every situation. And that's a good guy to have around. People are genuinely appreciative of his existence. He is a hero who provides comfort in times of chaos.

Imagine if we did more of that for other people. If we blessed people who are sad, hurt or scared with hugs, really listened to and comforted our spouses and our elders, treated fast food attendants like they were human beings, etc. And if everybody did that then we would suffer a whole lot less because the world would literally be a blessed place.

Happy New Year and have a blessed 2018 everyone!



I've been busy. 

Examples illustrating what I've been up to following shortly.

Madison Avenue's Terrifying Truth

I've been thinking a bit about Howard Gossage and the reasons I wanted to make ads in the first place.

And why some people hate what we make so much.

The common criticism is that we're all liars, but if all advertising was false then our work wouldn't resonate.

The problem isn't that great ads aren't 'true' on some important level...

It's that the solutions offered (e.g. buy a better perfume) aren't sufficient to achieve the aspirations presented (fulfilling relationships).

More than A.I., this will be the biggest problem facing our industry going forward.

2 helpful cures for insomnia

 I can't guarantee following these two rules will always help you sleep, but I can guarantee disregarding them will almost certainly keep you up at night. As evidenced by the fact that I am writing this at 3am PST:

1. Meditate daily.

2. No caffeine after 2pm.

11 Rules of Undertaking New Projects

I just finished my first freelance business proposal. It took longer than expected but I learned a lot. Here are 11 things:

  1. Always start as early as possible.
  2. Don’t just google “How to ____”, google “Samples of ______”
  3. Structure first.
  4. Never be afraid to be more clear.
  5. It can always be simpler.
  6. Don’t get caught in the trap of what things should look or sound like. If most businesses fail, then why be like most businesses?
  7. Learn from past successes (and failures), but don’t be afraid to try improving.
  8. Get a really good editor and partner.
  9. Everything you write should speak to your target.
  10. The more you set money aside and focus on why they need your help and why you want to help, the more convincing you will be.
  11. Every plan has weaknesses, make sure to address yours.

Let me know if you'd like more or have any to share below.

How to Keep the 2016 Election From Happening Again Part 1


Trump won. Protesting isn’t going to change that fact. And neither side is going to forget that this was one of the ugliest and most surprising elections in memory. So what do we do?

We can go on doing the things we’ve done that only soothes our regret or indulges our ids, or we can learn. And I’m speaking to both sides here. Beating up colored people won’t improve your circumstances anymore than occupying Wall Street will, but learning how not to be manipulated by messages crafted to deceive and mislead might. And they were crafted. On both sides.

Trump may be a bully, but he’s not an idiot. This election just proved that he’s more persuasive than Mark Cuban, Robert Cialdini, Hollywood, MSNBC and Hillary Clinton combined. So the first order of business is to learn what Jedi mind tricks he used to get here.

Remember: magic loses its power once you learn how it works. The glass sheet just under the surface makes the walk on water less miraculous.

It won’t be easy, in fact it actually takes more energy to be objective than subjective. But it will help you avoid days like Wednesday, when you were either harassed because you voted for Trump or harassed because you looked like someone who’d vote for Hillary.

I’m an ad guy, and I’m obsessed with persuasion and behavioral psychology. In the next few days/weeks, I’m going to break down some of the ways both candidates manipulated you. And then we’re going to look at what we can do to keep that from happening by thinking like Sherlock Holmes. Finally, we’ll learn how to fight back.

So if you’re interested, stay tuned.