The Most Important Theme of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

Rich Dad, Poor Dad revolves around three main characters: poor dad, rich dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki’s second father) and the son (the author himself as narrator of the book). The essence of each character is:

  • Poor dad – educated but lacking the street smarts
  • Rich dad – very little education (eighth grade), tons of street smarts
  • Kiyosaki – the spectator who learns lessons from both but internalizes only rich dad’s traits

The story of Robert Kiyosaki and Mike starts in 1956 Hawaii, when both boys were a nine years old. Their first get-rich scheme was a counterfeit nickel making company. They made plaster molds of the nickels and melted lead toothpaste tubes and filled the molds to produce the nickels. Their plan was foiled by Mike’s father, who informed the boys of their illegal activity.

After that day, the boys dedicated their free time to leaning about finance and economics from Mike’s father, the rich dad. The first lesson Mike’s dad made the boys experience was hatred of the “Rat Race”. He was able to achieve this by making the boys work in one of his grocery stores for three hours for ten cents an hour pay. Within a few weeks, Kiyosaki, tired of being exploited for labor, demanded that he receive a raise, but instead, Mike’s father cut his pay and told him to work for free.

Eventually, both boys tired of being under appreciated (and unpaid) and they met individually with Mike’s father. In their meetings with rich dad, he apologized for lack of pay and he offered them either the moral of the lesson or a pay raise. Both boys chose to learn the moral of the lesson, while rich dad offered them pay raises. He started at twenty-five cents, a dollar, two dollars, and even five dollars, which would have been considered a large amount of money for an hourly wage, but the boys still remained strong with their decision to learn the moral of the lesson.

The lesson to get out of the “Rat Race” and instead of spending your whole life working to put a little money in your pocket and a bunch of money in someone else’s pocket, have people work hard to put money in your pocket. Out of all the lessons that were taught to the boys, this one was the most important.

Poor Dad

The author compares his poor dad to the millions of fathers who encourage their sons to do well in school so they could get a good job with a good company. Poor dad believed in the traditional principles of working hard, saving money, and not buying material things that one cannot afford. He believed that having a good job with a solid company is what one should aspire for; hence he expresses disappointment when his son leaves the employ of a large, reputable corporation.

Poor dad looks to education as the passport to success. He held a doctorate degree, went to Ivy League universities, but was always struggling financially. He believed he would never be a rich man and the author points out that this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Poor dad was more interested in a good education than the subject of money. The author wrote that his poor dad would always say things like, “I’m not interested in money” or “money doesn’t matter.”

The author points out that poor dad was preoccupied with things like job tenure and security, Social Security, vacation and sick leaves, company insurance and salary raises and promotions. The author felt that his poor dad was more interested in these factors rather than on the job itself. This is what the author calls being trapped in the Rat Race.

His poor dad worked hard incessantly but somehow never made it ahead financially. Poor dad’s approach to the subject of money was based on working hard to have enough money to pay the bills (in contrast to rich dad’s approach to make one’s money work for him).

Rich Dad

The author wrote that it was when he was nine years old that he started realizing that his rich dad made much more sense than his poor dad. It was from rich dad that the author learned not to say, “I can’t afford it”, but instead to ask, “how can I afford it?” He explains this principle by relating an incident when he and his best friend Mike went to work for Mike’s father. Rich dad paid them very low wages deliberately so that would stir anger and a sense of injustice in them and eventually for them to realize that in order to get ahead, one must work for himself and not for others.

For example, in that part of the book when the author complains to rich dad that he can hardly afford to buy anything with the wages he is paid, rich dad tells him that he shouldn’t dwell on the fact that his wages are low, but instead ask “how can I make more money” because this stimulates the brain to take action. His rich dad says that when someone says, “I can’t afford it”, his brain stops working. It therefore kills initiative and promotes passivity.

The author adds that while his poor dad invested time and effort in education, he did not have any knowledge on investing. His rich dad, by contrast, was very skilled in the investment game because that’s all he did. The attitude of his rich dad about money was manifested in the saying “the lack of money is the root of all evil” (his poor dad, on the other hand, believed that the love of money is the root of all evil).

According to the author, rich dad also nurtured the idea that taxes punished producers and rewarded the non-producers. He was the type who encouraged money talk at the dinner table and was portrayed by the author as someone who learned to manage risk, instead of not taking risks.

The Son (Robert T. Kiyosaki)

The author takes a common sense approach to the subject of money and emphasizes the need for accounting knowledge so that the reader clearly understands what assets and liabilities are. He makes simple diagrams that show the inflow and outflow of money and how the rich build up the asset column and the poor build up the liability column (expenses). It is obvious that the author places much importance on accounting knowledge – no matter how boring it is – because he says it is “the most important subject in your life.”

By using numerous examples and anecdotes, the author drives home his messages effectively, revealing his pro-capitalist stance.

The author also shows his understanding of the mechanisms employed by the government and the tax man and concludes that it is the middle class that actually pay for the poor. The rich are the ones who are hardly taxed because they have the knowledge to use tax legislation to their advantage.

A Primary Theme in Rich Dad, Poor Dad

One theme that’s apparent in this book is that for an individual to be wealthy, he must aim to own the system or means of production, rather than work for another individual. The author stresses that there is obviously something confining about being an employee; it shuts the mind to other possibilities and it stunts initiative.

Financial intelligence is THE most powerful asset. By studying the precepts of accounting and investing, the author believes that individuals will be able to see the difference between an asset and a liability; in fact it is the more concrete application of learning what’s right and what’s wrong. Generating a string of expenses is wrong, building assets is right.

Unlike individuals who earn and then pay taxes on what they earn, corporations earn, spend what they want to spend, and pay taxes on what’s left. Corporations, therefore, hold a certain degree of power. The rich know how to use this power, the poor don’t.

The author also believes that true luxuries are experienced when they are the outward manifestations of intelligent investing and asset building. He cites the example of his wife purchasing a Mercedes Benz because it was the car she liked and worked hard to be able to purchase it. The author cautions however about keeping up with the Joneses and getting into debt because of this human frailty.

Fear, laziness, cynicism and arrogance are to be blamed for most of human inaction.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Ex Pharmaceutical Rep Reveals Horrors of Prescribed Drugs

An ex-pharmaceutical sales rep has come clean after fifteen years of being in the drug pushing business. In her powerful book, Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher, Gwen Olsen explains why she left her lucrative career selling drugs for some of the biggest names in the business – Johnson and Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Abbott Laboratories.


Now she passionately advocates against the pharmaceutical industry, their unethical practices, and the hundreds of thousands of lives they lead to the grave. Olsen’s eyes were opened through a gradual course of tragic events.

No Such Thing As A Safe Drug

“It was an awakening process, a spiritual and consciousness process where I started observing what was happening, what some of the drugs were doing, the misinformation, the disinformation,” Olsen explains. “I was being encouraged to minimize side effects when I talked to doctors. I started to realize that these patients were literally being tortured by the drugs. There is no such thing as a safe drug.”

Her book unveils her experience selling pharmaceuticals and the dirty secrets the industry doesn’t want anyone to know. Olsen reveals that when drugs hit the market, no one knows even 50 percent of the side effects associated with the drug.

Doctors are convinced of the drug’s effectiveness and their patients literally become test subjects or lab rats for the pharmaceutical companies. Olsen even confesses, “we were being trained to misinform people.”

For years Gwen Olsen thought she was helping others by selling pharmaceuticals, but in 2004, a family tragedy opened her eyes to the truth.

“My niece was 20 years old, she was attending Indiana University and she was a pre-med student, an extremely intelligent, beautiful woman, and just a beautiful spirit inside and out. She was in a car accident and was prescribed vicodin hydrocodone for the pain, and became addicted.”

The vicodin destroyed her niece’s concentration, leading the young woman to turn to a stimulant drug called ephedrine. The drug helped her stay awake long enough to study for school.

“She had a drug interaction and ended up in the hospital, and they tagged her with a bipolar disorder, not a drug toxicity or a reaction to the drugs she was on. They started giving her more antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, and that set her on the road to becoming a mental patient,” said Olsen.

Soon, the young woman dropped out of school as the side effects of the medication took hold. The more she tried to wean herself off, the more violent the side effects became. A dependency had formed in the chemistry of her brain and the twenty-year-old battled a severe depression.

“Her mom was on her way home to take her back to the psychiatrist and get her back on drugs,” Olsen continued. “[That is when] my niece walked into her younger sister’s room and took an angel lamp that was filled with oil, and poured it over herself and ignited it, burning herself alive.”

The realization struck Olsen to the core and she left her career selling pharmaceutical drugs. Now she speaks out against the deception, telling the gripping story of her niece’s suicide.

“It was a promise made to her that I would not let her memory be sullied, and tell people what had happened to her. She would not be remembered as a mentally or genetically defective person, I would not allow that to happen. And I realize that there are thousands and thousands of people out there that need a voice, and I’m serving as that voice,” she says.

Today, one of Olsen’s biggest concerns is for the millions of children taking antipsychotics, which has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. These drugs are especially being given to kids in foster care, putting them in a virtual chemical straight jacket.

“A large number of psychiatrists are dishonest, because I see them giving people drugs that they know are brain damaging therapeutics, that they know do not have positive, long-term outcomes, that they know will not cure anything. They just take a list of symptoms and call it a mental illness or disorder.”

Children are given fake diagnosis left and right and put on mind altering drugs with suicidal side effects. Psychiatrists can diagnose mental illness today without any scientific proof. No blood tests, urine tests, or PET scans are required. The result is millions of children are labeled and stuck on these drugs, trapped in a culture of hopelessness.

“I was so disillusioned, as well as angry, when I found out how much deception, how much misinformation was taking place and how I’d been used in that game. I literally was the one on the frontlines. I was harming people unintentionally, but I was responsible. I carry a burden for that now.”


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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Chilling New Information in the Frightening True Story of ‘Unholy Matrimony” Murder Revealed

Puppies in the doctor’s back yard gave San Antonio police detective Walter Dennis a firm suspicion that the St. Bernards were more than just mere coincidence.

After he knocked on the front door of Dr. Charles James Guilliam’s house, a woman with long, straight blond hair opened it. It was a cool Sunday afternoon, February 17, 1974, when Dennis introduced himself and the other suited gentleman standing with him on the porch of the Tuxford Street residence in northeast San Antonio.

“…and this is detective John Dillmann from the New Orleans Police Department,” Dennis began. The lady shook their hands and identified herself as Dr. Guilliam’s wife, Katherine. “We are here to speak with your husband.”

“I’m sorry, but he is out of town on business and can’t be reached by phone right now,” the twenty-something-year-old woman reacted. The detectives verified with her that Dr. Guilliam was a consulting psychologist currently working on a project in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

“We are also attempting to locate a Mr. Claudius Giesick,” Dennis requested. “Do you know Claudius Giesick?”

“Yes, I believe he is a business associate of my husband,” she responded.

“How about Sam Corey,” the other detective asked. “Do you know a Sam Corey?”

Katherine’s faced twitched. Dennis could hear the puppies barking outside and noticed she had difficulty focusing on the enquiry. She asked detective Dillmann to repeat the name.

Sam Corey

“You know–Sam Corey,” Detective Dennis replied for the New Orleans investigator. “The big, heavy man. He ran for Mayor of San Antonio and owns the Tokyo Massage Parlor here.”

“Oh yes,” Katherine swiftly remembered. “Jim has gone to his parlor for a massage a few times.”

When asked, she had no photos of her husband she could provide the detectives and asserted that her spouse would have to be the one to answer these questions about him. Dennis gave her his business card and asked her to have Dr. Guilliam call him as quickly as possible.

“Look in the back yard,” Dennis whispered to Dillmann as they walked back to the police car. Dillmann said yes, he had noticed the puppies too when they started barking during their questioning of Katherine.

As Dennis drove back to police headquarters, the two officers compared notes. Dennis had received a call from Giesick on Friday after telling the police operator he needed to speak to a detective. He told Dennis a strange account of how he had spent the last two years in virtual hiding because he was in extreme danger from a criminal named Zent.

Unholy Matrimony book (John Dillman)

Giesick said that his bride, Patricia, had been killed by an oncoming car while they were enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans the previous month. He wanted to let the detective know that the New Orleans police may be notifying them. Should New Orleans make any inquiries into this death, Giesick was requesting that the SAPD tell them he had to disappear because he was their police informer against this violent gangster, Zent.

Detective magazine account of the Unholy Matrimony case (W. Dennis)

Dennis, suspicious of this bizarre request, went to a nearby office to run a computer check on Giesick’s background. When he discovered there was a warrant out for passing hot checks, Dennis instantly arrested him. Dennis then contacted New Orleans and reached Dillmann, who flew into San Antonio Sunday morning. By then, Giesick had been released. Someone posted a bail bond on his behalf. Dennis discovered that someone was Sam Corey.

When Dennis picked up Dillmann at the International Airport Sunday morning, he had already arranged for a 10 a.m. meeting with Corey at the police station downtown. They took a formal statement in which the more than 300 pound Corey wrote that he “emphatically and positively” did not know Patricia. He did not know if Giesick has worked in any massage parlor. He claimed to hear of her death some days later from the bride’s mother who called him from New Jersey. Corey admitted he knew Giesick and had actually met him in Richardson, near Dallas, since the death.

If Corey had known that Dillmann was working on this case for a couple of weeks, he may have been more truthful. The New Orleans detective, by this time, knew that pretty, strawberry blond 24-year-old Patricia Ann Albanowski had been employed in a massage parlor and had been heavily pursued by Giesick.

Two different insurance agency investigators had concerns. Giesick purchased insurance policies totaling over $300,000 on the day of their wedding, prior to embarking on their honeymoon flight to New Orleans.

Patricia’s mother said that in a New Orleans hotel room, the night of her death, her daughter called very worried. Her new husband had left to take their rental car back for some kind of repairs.

Patricia told her mom that Giesick was a psychologist, but didn’t have an office. He often had to go undercover and disappear because he had helped the federal government arrest a major gold smuggling organization. The government was so concerned about his safety and reprisals from this smuggling gang, they had provided Giesick with a new identity. The name he said the Feds gave him was Charles James Guilliam.

Unholy Matrimony movie starring Patrick Duffy and Charles Durning

When the detectives called Patricia’s mother to confirm information, they learned more startling clues. Patricia, or Trish, as her family called her, commented that Giesick said had been married twice before. His first wife, a former Miss Texas, was killed in a hit-and-run accident along with their only child. His second marriage ended in divorce.

But what she revealed next alarmed both men to the core. On January 2, 1974, Claudius Giesick and Patricia Albanowski were married. Their pastor’s name? Sam Corey.

Before they left for their New Orleans honeymoon trip on January 13, Giesick presented his wife with a wedding present: a St. Bernard puppy.

The detectives soon uncovered information to prove Sam Corey, in a scheme to save on taxes and protect his massage parlors from police troubles, became an ordained minister with the Calvary Grace Christian Church of Faith. He filed a request with Bexar County to change the name of his business from Tokyo House of Massage to Tokyo House Massage Temple.

They also learned that Corey had provided money to Giesick to deposit into his Harlandale State Bank account in San Antonio. The money was used to buy several insurance policies, pay some rent and a few bills after he had performed the marriage ceremony.

As the investigation progressed, it was revealed that Corey was in New Orleans on the night Patricia was hit by a car. The rental car Corey used was checked for evidence which exposed and matched Patricia’s hair. In his formal confession, in order to cut a deal for a lighter sentence, Giesick implicated Corey as the driver of the car that killed Patricia on January 16, 1974.

Giesick had asked his wife to go for a walk that foggy and chilling night. He wanted to show her a family of ducks near the romantic water at a bridge up the street from their hotel. On cue, he noted Corey was waiting nearby in the rental car.

“I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him.”

Giesick (center)

“I waited about four or five seconds to give him enough time to get started,” Giesick confirmed with no remorse. “I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him. Seconds later the police were there because a guy came by and called the police. Then Mr. Corey came by in the Monte Carlo, just drove by.”

Giesick confessed that his new wife, at the moment of impact, was on the road “on her hands trying to get back up again, but she was facing up. As she was trying to get up, she had sandals on and she was slipping. She couldn’t get up…There was a double thud. It very distinctly hit her twice.”

Several days later Giesick and Corey flew to Trenton, New Jersey for Patricia’s funeral. Corey “was wearing Catholic-priest clothes and was paid by the Albanowski family as a priest; he accepted several donations…for prayers for Patricia.”

On February 22, Dennis and other San Antonio police arrested Giesick for bigamy. It was confirmed that Giesick had been married four times. A one year marriage ending in divorce, a California marriage annulled after three days, to his existing wife Katherine in 1969, and illegally to Patricia.

Eventually Sam Corey was sentenced to death which was later reduced to life in prison. He died at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. Giesick received a 21 year prison sentence, but was released in 1986 at age 54. By 2000, he was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for submitting false auto theft reports in an attempt to collect insurance funds.

Years later, when asked what he remembered most about the case Dennis, a then retired detective, had two answers.

Patrick Duffy played detective in Unholy Matrimony

“Well, of course I remember the book by Dillmann and the 1987 TV movie, ‘Unholy Matrimony’ with Patrick Duffy of the Dallas television show starring in it,” Dennis offered. “But the most disturbing thing that sticks in my mind was going back to Giesick’s house on Tuxford to talk with his wife again during the investigation. This time I brought a patrolman with me that actually knew the couple for a few years, hoping she would trust him enough, maybe we could get better information from her.”

The blond hair lady at the door with the St. Bernard puppies was Katherine Kiser Giesick, the real wife of Claudius Giesick, aka Jim Guilliam. They had been married since September 1969. She recognized the friend, the police officer with Dennis, immediately.

During their conversation, the young policeman revealed that her husband had called him to ask if he would say they had been divorced for a couple of years.

“She was puzzled by this, we could tell,” Dennis remarked. “It was obvious we hit a nerve and she acted like she was both hurt and confused.”

“I will never forget the look on her face when we told her about Patricia (Albanowski)—her death and the insurance,” Dennis shook his head. “She started crying in disbelief.”

“It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”

“We thought she was crying because of the news we just told her,” Dennis continued. “But she got up and went to a drawer in the kitchen area and brought back a file—a paper.”

“It still brings me chills to think how evil Giesick and Corey were when I saw what the paper was,” Dennis revealed. “It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”

During the April 1975 trial, court evidence showed that when the FBI analyzed the pieces of human hair taken from underneath Corey’s New Orleans rental car and from the exhumed body of the bride, “all 15 characteristics were matched perfectly.”

The District Attorney showed how Giesick, all through his adult life was a “con man who made his living off ripping off insurance” companies. “Claudius Giesick literally lied his way through life. He posed as a psychologist. Dr. Jim Gillium and even collected fees.”

“Claudius Giesick told friends he had a plan by which he could hook Sam Corey on a murder charge in New Orleans.” Testimony and evidence also showed how he attempted to get two women to take out insurance policies on their husbands and have them murdered.

Katherine and Claudius Giesick’s divorce was final on Oct. 19, 1976. They both remarried. He lived in Louisiana for a while, but moved back to San Antonio in 2006. If alive in 2022, Giesick would be 75.

Personal Note

My father was Detective Walter Dennis. As a teen, Dad would often take me to the scenes of crimes and investigations he was currently, or previously, worked on. I became the youngest licensed private investigator in Texas at age 18 and oversaw investigations, missing persons, and personal security protection services for over seven years.

My father, Detective Walter Dennis, giving a briefing at the San Antonio Police Dept.

Years later, after my father passed away, I heard Giesick served his term in prison but was incarcerated again in 2000 for insurance fraud. I tracked him down when he was age 70. Giesick was living in a rundown one bedroom apartment just southwest of downtown San Antonio. He was sitting on a lawn chair with a cheap bottle of wine in his hand.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Books to Help You Cultivate Positive Thinking

By Anna Charles

Positive thinking is one of the most beneficial habits a person can adopt.

The Mayo Clinic explains that it is an effective form of stress management and can improve general health. It can also increase lifespan, lessen depression and stress, and help build better resistance against diseases.

In trying times, you should try to see things in an optimistic manner. Positive thinking isn’t about disregarding struggles; it’s about trying to look at a situation with a less abrasive perspective. This will help you live a happier and more fulfilling life. If you want to learn how to think more positively, there are many resources, like books, which can help you. Here are a few that will surely guide you to see things with a better mindset:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck

First on this list is a book by Mark Manson.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is all about learning to accept the circumstances you encounter and taking things in stride. Problems are inevitable but instead of feeling negatively towards them, learn to let go and not take them too seriously.

Iconic singer Freddie Mercury has said “I’ve lived a full life and if I’m dead tomorrow, I don’t give a damn,” which is the mindset Manson wanted to impart in his book. Knowing yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses can help you understand which challenges you can overcome and how. This will help you find constant and genuine happiness. It will also aid you in how to think more positively and productively.

Don’t Overthink It

Thinking and reflecting aren’t necessarily bad things, but when you tend to overdo it, it can lead to more stress and anxiety.

Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel aims to teach readers to stop overthinking on a daily basis. Overthinking can oftentimes feel like a pattern that is difficult to break and one that we have no control over.

But Bogel explains that negative thoughts can be changed to positive ones, even when you’re overthinking, using the many actionable strategies she lists in her book. Included inside is a framework that readers can use in discerning both small and big decisions. Simply following it can bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. This will not only guide you to breaking the habit of negative thinking but it will also help you find energy for things that really matter to you.

Happiness Becomes You

Tina Turner is a legendary name in the music industry. In her book Happiness Becomes You, she lays down the knowledge she has amassed throughout her life and career that helped her think positively. She tackles the many hardships she has encountered in hopes of giving people motivation to keep going.

Turner also taps into her Buddhist faith as it has kept her grounded for decades. She talks about how she turned her dreams into a reality and how to make the impossible happen. It details the many adversities that the singer was able to overcome before she found the success she has today. This book radiates nothing but positivity, and those who read it will learn a thing or two about how a good mentality can be a great help to achieving their goals.

Deep Kindness

One of the major aspects of positive thinking is learning to be less harsh on yourself and others.

Deep Kindness by Houston Kraft highlights the many ways readers can practice imparting goodwill. The book also explains how these principles can help you get ahead in life.

Kraft gives many exercises and prompts to help readers develop their sense of kindness and why it is important in today’s world. Not only will it help create a positive environment, but it will also help build a positive mentality by helping readers live a better and more fulfilling life. Through constant practice, you will find yourself acting more kindly towards yourself and those around you, making your mindset more optimistic overall.

Learning how to lessen negative thoughts can be difficult, but positive thinking is something many people need. Through learning to accept life’s challenges, spending more time on things you love, and being kinder to yourself, positive thinking can become second nature.

Guest Post written by Anna Charles for


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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Most Fundamental Lesson Good Writers and Bloggers Must Know

It was fun interviewing and meeting performers (Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Clint Eastwood, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina, and Jackson Browne, to name a few).

In journalism school at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) University, I started out as University Star Fine Arts Assistant Editor my sophomore year.

Especially rewarding were lessons I took away from writing reviews of concerts, theatrical performing arts, books and art. Committed to learning all I could to hone writing skills, I paid particular attention to Journalism and English professors who endured my thirst for knowledge in and out of class.

One of the more prominent lessons was the “Three Act Narrative.” Today, we have the Internet, but I wouldn’t trade the value of learning from brilliant teachers and good ol’ trial and error.

In screenplay writing, I’ve learned movie plots go by a formula called “The Hero’s Journey.” However, in practically every story you’ve ever read or seen has more in common than you think.

What if I said that a bloodcurdling horror movie with zombies and a Shakespeare play has the same building blocks? Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? But it won’t be once you understand what narrative structure is.

Plot vs Narrative

You may have heard of the word plot and the word narrative, but they are not one and the same.

🔹‘Plot’ refers to the summation of events in any given story.

🔹 ‘Narrative’ refers to the way the plot is structured and presented to the reader.

Detective novels involve the investigation recounting what actually happened in the mystery. While the plot would involve these details regardless of where they appear in the text, the narrative offers the reader clues along the way and saves the big reveal for the end.

By cursory glance, the structure may seem inconsequential. But in truth, the narrative is what makes every story satisfying.

As readers, we love to piece together the details of any story ourselves before its revealed at the end. We also love when the writer peppers foreshadowing throughout the novel, as it makes the ending that much more satisfying. Even twist endings make sense in some way. But why is that?

This is because of a concept most writers use called the three-act structure. The concept is simple; your story can be divided into three, clearly defined or not, acts, each serving a different purpose. At its simplest, a story must have a beginning, middle and end. But how the writer structures these three has a large impact on how the story itself is read.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

Act I: The first act has all to do with the setup. Also known as the expository act, this part of the story establishes everything we, the reader, need to know.

Where is this story set? If it’s not a real-world setting, what are the rules by which the universe operates? Who is our main character? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What is the main conflict our hero must overcome? These are all questions the first act must answer.

The first act also features an ‘inciting incident’ that sets the story in motion and slowly builds towards a major plot point.

Act II: The second act starts right after the first major ‘incident’ in a novel. In The Wizard of Oz, this would be when Dorothy reaches Munchin Land for example, and the first major plot point was Glenna the Good Witch telling her to “follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

The second act’s role is to build towards the big climax by adding additional details that will become relevant later and include a second major plot point. Some novels may even feature a ‘midpoint’ – this is where the protagonist is at their lowest or the farthest from achieving their goals.

Act III: The third act packs the biggest punch of all – the climax. But before the climax, there must be something called a pre-climax. This is the part where the protagonist is working towards the climax in which they face their primary conflict head-on.

In The Wizard of Oz, this would be the lessons learned along the way with Scarecrow, Tinman and the Cowardly Lion to be overcomed before Dorothy confronts the Great and Powerful Wizard.

The third act is usually the shortest act in any novel because it moves so fast. Following the climax, the novel quickly offers a resolution that wraps everything up.

Freytag’s Pyramid

The 19th-century German writer Gustav Freytag adapted the three-act structure into what is now known as Freytag’s pyramid.

According to Freytag:

🔹‘Rising action’ is where the stakes are continuously raised and the key to building a satisfying climax.

🔹‘Falling action’ is when the big conflict is conquered and the story either winds down for a resolution or resets for a sequel, as is the case with most children’s books.

The name ‘three act structure’ comes from the fact that most dramas, especially dramas in ancient Greece as well as most of Shakespeare’s play years later, followed the three-act structure almost religiously.

Aristotle, in his seminal work ‘poetics’, where he explains the mechanics of what makes a good story, explains the important way to keep a story moving is its “cause and effect beats”. Every scene in a story must feed into the scene that happens next and not seem like standalone episodes.

The three-act structure is especially important in cinema, which must fit a remarkable amount of plot points, rising action and character growth into two hours or so.

Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay writers rely on the three-act structure to help them pace their movie in a way that keeps the audience engaged as well. The three-act structure really took off in the film industry after Syd Field’s pioneering book ‘Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. This book has served as a reference for some giants in the industry like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood and in writing their own movies too.

The three-act structure has become so prevalent that it has also influenced the way TV shows are written. You may have noticed that when your favorite television show ends on a cliffhanger, the next season quickly resolves the cliffhanger so it can move on to building up the story again.

A narrative that is just as intense throughout the story with no build rarely has a satisfying ending. So what these TV show creators are doing is something like a soft reset. They are slowly building conflict again so that the season finale can be the most exciting point in the season.

Once you realize the basics of the three-act structure, it’s not that hard to spot. Whether it’s in books, movies, or TV shows, the three-act structure is everywhere.

A common topic of discussion in our family after watching a movie or seeing a play include questions like Where did the writers go wrong? Was there not enough exposition? Was there too much exposition? Did they drag out the middle?

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

In Memory of Luis Vera: 1956-2021

A Fierce Fighter For Civil Rights and American Justice

Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. (J. Dennis)

The Sunday, November 20, 2021 death of Luis Roberto Vera, Jr., 65, a prominent civil rights leader and Texas attorney, appropriately made national news this week.

I spent a few years interviewing over 200 people and researching (spending many hours side-by-side studying Luis) for a book, “Miracles of Justice.”

The common denominator in how most people described Luis, is the word “fighter.” That he fiercely was…especially in the case of Dominique Ramirez, who at 16, became the youngest Miss San Antonio in history.

During her tenure, Dominique was abruptly decrowned of her title by replaced leadership on the pageant board. Long story short, the beautiful Dominique’s plight made international news as she was unfairly kicked out by the board. After unsuccessful attempts to find an attorney, Dominique experienced her first miracle: enter Luis Vera, Jr.

Attorneys Steven Price, Dominique Ramirez & Luis Vera during 2011 trial. (J. Dennis)

This week, Vera was acknowledged by The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC, the nation’s oldest Hispanic civil rights organization, founded in 1929) as their national general counsel and worked with them for three decades.

LULAC’s National President Domingo Garcia issued a statement on the passing of Vera. 

We have lost a friend, and our Nation’s Latino community has lost one of its greatest defenders. Luis was a man whose fight for justice often took him from the streets of our poorest barrios in San Antonio to the marbled hallways of our federal courts. Judges knew when Luis Vera walked into their courtroom…He was widely respected, even by those who presented opposing legal arguments in landmark cases…Luis followed in the footsteps of those before him who have helped build LULAC into one of America’s most respected civil rights organizations. Vaya con Dios Luis Vera.

“Ironically, Luis lives on through the recent lawsuits he helped file in federal court that will forever carry the imprint of his love for justice and the voice that shall never be silenced,” LULAC National CEO Sindy Benavides said in a statement.

My wife, Loralyn, and her southside San Antonio Kingsborough Elementary and Middle School classmates, meet for lunch at least once a year at Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant for a mini-reunion–all paid for and hosted by Luis. He cherished his lifelong friends. The biggest smiles I’ve ever seen beam off of Luis’ face were with his classmates.

Luis with elementary school classmates, September 2021. (Walter Tenery)

In loving memory of Luis, here is Chapter 4 of “Miracles of Justice,” his introduction in the book.

(Note: Luis didn’t want to have the book published yet, because he indicated to Dominique and me that he was working on a potential movie deal–slowed by the pandemic–and didn’t want to intrude on that possibility.)

Miracles of Justice

Written by Jack Dennis, with collaboration from Dominique Ramirez-Wilson. Copyrighted by Jack Dennis

Chapter 4    Against the Odds

He’d been playing against the odds of death far too long. Politicians, CEOs, foreign and domestic governments, school district officials, and other organizational threats of courtroom confrontations didn’t faze him. Luis Vera emerged fiercer. If they spread lies to the media, it only strengthened his persistence. He didn’t flinch. When they decided to enter a game of chicken, they would play against a relentless, and very much alive, warrior beast!   

Vera grew up having high expectations for himself.  He attended San Antonio College, St. Mary’s University and the University of Texas at San Antonio simultaneously to finish his last two years of college in one year.  He met his wife Rosie in 1988 when she worked as a file clerk at the State School on South Presa and S.W. Military Drive. Vera was a new unit manager supervisor. It was a “place to park while I waited for law school to begin,” he said.

“What I first remember about Luis is that he was undergoing training and he was already wanting to change everything,” Rosie laughs. “He was a bit crude. He would ask me out to lunch, but I said ‘I just don’t think so, or that I don’t want to go out. It’s not going to work.”

Persistently, Vera continued to ask.

Luis & Rosie at 2019 Presidential Inaguration Gala, Washington DC (L. Vera)

“There’s something wrong with this guy,” Rosie deduced. “I thought he was too blunt and crude. He proceeded to try to talk to me. He asked me one day what was wrong with me so I told him ‘not everybody needs to stand up in the room when you enter.’ It was awkward, but he kept trying. So the first time we went to lunch we took another co-worker so there would be three of us there. I think it was uncomfortable for him.”

Rosie relented. Soon they had lunch together alone. Within a few months she became executive secretary for the Human Resources Director, while her new “boyfriend” continued to be the king of his domain on his unit. One of his personnel techs was a young man named Robert Cuellar, who would one day become president of the annual Fiesta Flambeau Night Parade in San Antonio.

“Church has always been very important to me,” explained Rosie. “Meeting Luis was a ‘God thing.’ I would ask people to go to church and they wouldn’t. He did. When I asked him about it, there was no hesitation. I found that his faith is very strong, but like everything, it’s in his own way. He started going with me every Saturday and Sunday to Living Way Christian Church in northeast San Antonio.”

Luis Vera says a prayer at la Virgen de Guadalupe Church after the trial for Dominique Ramirez in 2011. (J. Dennis)

Luis and Rosie became Mr. and Mrs. Vera within 11 months. Two weeks after their wedding, they moved to Massachusetts where he began law school.

“I enjoyed Massachusetts very much,” she remembered. “It was my first time out of Texas. It was a different life.”

Vera began working for prominent San Antonio attorney Oliver Heard after receiving his license to practice. One of his first cases was a lawsuit against the National Guard. Mexican-Americans were not being promoted even though some of them were career guardsmen.

“It was hard for some of the older ones to compete with rookie guardsmen, especially on the physical training exercises,” Vera recalled. “I went to Austin to meet with a large panel of National Guard leaders. There I was alone, just facing a group of distinguished men, or at least they thought they were distinguished wearing their ribbons and badges. I just thought to myself, ‘you guys don’t intimidate me. To me you are just cub scouts dressing up. Let’s get to the meat of the matter. Let’s talk about real justice.’”

He won.

The Vera’s had four children: Jerry, Michael, Anthony and Melanie. By 2017, with Rosie as a 6th grade teacher at Leal Middle School in south San Antonio, Luis continued to practice law. Their grandchildren included Girbrian, Olive, Vita, Maseo, and Anthony. Yaza, their first great-grandchild, was born in 2016.

“God uses Luis to help people out,” Rosie said. “People just see him at the trial, but his faith is what they don’t see. It is so strong. I’ve seen people come to him with nothing and no hope. One man, an African-American, had his children taken away from him illegally by their mother. He was from another state but knew they were in Texas. He kept coming back to San Antonio but there was no trace of them here.”

“His father, a minister, told his son that he had been praying for him and that he should return because he thinks he will find his children. When the father went before the judge in San Antonio, he told him he understood what he was saying, ‘But you need a lawyer to represent you in something this complex. There is one right there. You can use him.’”

“The judge pointed at Luis as he walked into his courtroom for other business. Luis listened to him and said ‘yeah, I’ll help you, but let me take care of this first.’ Luis was able to find the woman and secured the children to return legally back to their loving father. How did that happen? –that Luis happened to be coming through those doors at exactly the right moment to help this family?”

“Over the years, and during the big fights in court and with my health, I would be so exhausted, be sick with headaches,” Vera said. “People would see or hear about me and they’d say ‘he is not going to last or he won’t make it.’ I would force myself. Being sick made me better as a lawyer. I became more disciplined because now I was limited to so many hours in the day because of operations, doctor appointments, and all. Six to seven days a week, even if I traveled to San Diego, Tampa, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Miami, New York or Washington D.C., I would receive treatment.”

As his body aged toward 55, Vera became less afraid of exceeding his own expectations. He realized that the question of making meaning or purpose to our lives is constantly before all of us in a variety of ways. In the life of an attorney, stress, fear and loss is never very far. On any given day, Vera spoke with people whose lives were reshaped in an instant. In the morning he would speak to a man whose wife had left him after 22 years of marriage. Later, the parents of an ailing child came in to talk about medical malpractice because their daughter would never hear again. Towards the end of the work day, a man strolled in with a wheelchair, broken arm, and in a neck brace.  While injured in a work-related accident, he wasn’t ‘officially’ an employee of the business.

(L. Vera)

What all these individuals had in common was the staggering presence of loss in their lives. But, with Vera, each one had a choice. The loss could be seen as a sign of meaninglessness, or an opportunity to create meaning. Not only was it his job as an attorney to help them through legal remedy, he was their protector.  He perceived himself shield-like by offering choices that provided quality, dignity, and to some extent, a bit of joy.

The deepest losses of life may not be curable.  However, the greater the loss the greater the need for calmness of soul. Sometimes the calmness comes from the realization that distress has to be allowed so we can learn to bear it. We may share in others’ sadness, but we cannot repair the pain. In the book of Job, his friend’s response to his series of tragedies was to sit with him and weep. Although commendable, later they were condemned when they attempted to explain to him why he experienced the sequences of tragedies. What loss cries for is not to be explained or repaired, but to be shared and hopefully, to find some meaning.

Luis in his office. (J. Dennis)
September 2021 (Walter Tenery)

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Author Cindy Leal Massey was a McCollum High School classmate with Luis Vera, Jr.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What Lies Beneath…Lessons From Noted Author

“I knew that the pandemic we were facing was not unprecedented.”

“The last few months of my work on What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards were during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote noted Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey. As I was completing the book, I became very cognizant of how history repeats itself.”

Cynthia Leal Massey

“A few hundred years before Christ was born, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon observed, ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.'”

“All the talk of ‘unprecedented times’ solidified my belief in the importance of the knowledge of history,” Massey, a resident of Helotes, northwest of San Antonio, continued.          

“Steeped in the 19th century, writing about cemeteries, memorials, and the people interred—basically writing about death—I knew that the pandemic we were facing was not unprecedented. In fact, epidemics, pandemics, and plagues have occurred with deadly frequency over the centuries and so have various forms of “shutdowns,” and even resistance to such measures.”

“In the 19th century, long-standing diseases such as smallpox (see what instigated the Laredo Smallpox Riot mentioned in this book), typhus, and yellow fever turned into epidemics several times over the course of the century.”

“Cholera spread worldwide in six pandemics in the 19th century. There was even a bubonic plague pandemic that originated in China, spreading worldwide in the 1890s.”

“Scientific advances in the medical field and the recognition of the importance of sanitation made such pandemics rarer and less lethal in subsequent centuries,” Massey noted.

“Many of the cemeteries included tell the stories of individuals, some known and many unknown, who succumbed to epidemics (diseases that affect a large number of people within a region) and pandemics (diseases that spread over multiple countries or continents). In fact, the mortality rate was so high during the 19th century that there was an entire industry of funerary rites and customs developed to help the bereaved.”

“The sentiments engraved on many tombstones give expression to the anguish suffered when a loved one died,” she said.

Massey “was born and raised in Texas, and so was steeped in Texas history from an early age. Nonetheless, many of the individuals covered in this book were new to me. Even those I knew of were illuminated in ways that made them more real and impressive. How they were memorialized in death also tells a story.”

“An example is General Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, who today is iconic in Texas history. Years after he died, a magnificent memorial by renowned Italian-American sculptor Pompeo Coppini was commissioned for his gravesite, but at the time of his death, he was vilified because he refused to support the Confederacy. Few people, except close family members and friends, attended his funeral in Huntsville.”

“While the gravesites of children, many marked by intricately carved babies and toddlers reclining on small pillow beds, were poignant, the graves with markers for “Unknown” or “Known Only to God” were also moving.”

“Several sections at the Fort Parker Memorial Park Cemetery have rows of such markers—small square concrete tombstones inscribed with the word, UNKNOWN—a sobering reminder of our fate in years to come.”

“…. Cemeteries are important repositories of our history and humanity. While the memorials, statues, and monuments to the luminaries of Texas history are breathtaking, the graves, both marked and unmarked, of ordinary individuals are also worthy of reverence and remembrance.”

Cynthia Leal Massey

Helotes, Texas

Excerpt from Author’s Note of What Lies Beneath, Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards By Cynthia Leal Massey

For more information, see below.


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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards

Our beautiful visit with a long-time-ago friend brought charming remembrances, intriguing history and a fascinating new book.

Dodie and I recently had lunch with Cynthia Leal Massey to catch up and discuss her new book, What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, being released today (August 1, 2021).

Our lunch was at the regionally renown El Chapparal Mexican Restaurant within the nearby hills of Helotes. A growing town in the northwest San Antonio metropolitan area, the city is known for Floore Country Store (Willie, Waylon and other legends have–and continue to perform–at this famous Hill Country dance hall.

Many of our trips into the Alamo City include a stop off at Old Town Helotes (antiques, quaint shops and plenty of charm are worthy) so Dodie can buy a bag of her favorite, Helotes Blend at the Texas Grounds Coffee shop.

Cindy is a popular figure in the area, a local historian, journalist and 14-year city council member. Her research has prompted the official designation of U.S. Historical Marker status at sites and buildings in the area.

This lunch was special for us, not only due to Cindy being a sponsor of CleverJourneys, but because she and Dodie had not seen each other in over 40 years.

Cindy and Dodie were in Student Council together back in their senior class days at McCollum High School in south San Antonio. Cindy and I also worked on the Chanter, our school’s newspaper staff (I was in the class ahead of them).

Dodie on the left. Cynthia on the right. 1973

We agreed the three of us shared commonality traits of being studious, spirited, dependable and “absolutely brilliant.” LOL.

None of us really hung around in a particular clique. “We were all over the place,” noted Dodie. “Sports, clubs, assorted activities and involvement.”

I recall Cindy being contemplative, industrious and thoughtful. She remembered me always “having a camera in your hand everywhere you went.”

Fortunately, Dodie knows that even though I may not be typing, “he’s always writing in his head. Always.”

“As the old saying goes,” Cindy laughed. “Writers write.”

It was enjoyable being around a fellow writer for a couple of hours.

I sensed the familiar enthusiasm and excitement as Cindy told us about her current novel in progress. It’s based on a true story, tentatively titled “Fowl Water,” a literary mystery about the 1958  murder of a South Texas turkey breeder.

My father, a homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department, considered the events surrounding the crime quite legendary.

I’m looking forward to reading it as I’m more than halfway into her fascinating “Death of a Texas Ranger” chronicle of murder and vegence in the Texas frontier. It’s especially intriguing because we live in the area where much of the events occurred.

So what is Cindy’s new book about? Here is Amazon’s description:

Unearth the Mysteries of Those Who Lie Beneath the Oldest Graveyards in the Lone Star State

Texas, the second largest state, both in land mass and population, has more than 50,000 cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds. As the final resting places of those whose earthly journey has ended, they are also repositories of valuable cultural history.

The pioneer cemeteries—those from the 19th century—provide a wealth of information on the people who settled Texas during its years as a Republic (1836-1845), and after it became the 28th state in 1845.

In What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, author Cynthia Leal Massey exhumes the stories of these pioneers, revealing the intriguing truth behind the earliest graveyards in the Lone Star State, including some of its most ancient.

This guide also provides descriptions of headstone features and symbols, and demystifies the burial traditions of early Texas pioneers and settlers.

About the Author

Cynthia Leal Massey combines her background in journalism and love of history to write award-winning historical fiction and nonfiction.

A former corporate editor, college instructor, and magazine editor, she has published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and several books.

She is a recipient of a Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award for Western Nonfiction and a San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Award for her book “Death of a Texas Ranger: A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier.”

She was a winner of the Lone Star Award for Magazine Journalism given by the Houston Press Club for “Is UT Holding Our History Hostage?” published in Scene in SA magazine. One judge wrote: “In her exhaustive look at the unique battle over the Bexar Archives, writer Cynthia Leal Massey manages to make history come alive, filled with dark plots and do-gooders of yesteryear, and allusions to cattle rustling and murder and more.”

The article was also a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters O. Henry Award for Best Work of Magazine Journalism.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry called her novel, ” The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas,” a vivid picture of the Rio Grande Valley as it was fifty years ago [and] a very good read.”

Born and raised on the south side of San Antonio, Texas, Massey has resided in Helotes, twenty miles northwest of the Alamo City, since 1994. A full-time writer, she is a past president of Women Writing the West.


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Fire Your Boss: Book Summary via JackNotes

JackNotes In a Nutshell

The Pandemic Year of 2020 taught millions of Americans about job security. After the presidential election and inauguration, the current resident of the White House immediately starting cutting jobs. Soon America was turned into a tailspin of insecurity, socialistic handouts, free rides for illegal immigrants, laxed border protection and both domestic and foreign problems.

Fire Your Boss was written by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine Publisher: Harper Collins, 2004

This book helps some learn how to look for new employment, choose among numerous job offers, and thrive in this economy. You will find out why it is not beneficial to keep relying on your boss for financial security and job satisfaction. Here are my summary notes from Fire Your Boss.

You must rely on yourself !

The Job of Your Dreams .

Believe it or not, you can take charge of your career. You don’t have to keep worrying that your job security depends on the whims or moods of your current boss. The job of your dreams is within your reach. In fact, you can even transform your current job into that dream job.

Seven Steps to Gain Control of Your Work Life :

  1. Fire Your Boss… and Hire Yourself.

2. Kill Your Career… and Get a Job

3. There’s No “I” in Job .

4. Go Fish

5. No One Hires a Stranger.

6. It’s the Money That Counts.

7. Hello, I Must be Going.

Fire Your Boss… and Hire Yourself >The first thing you must do to get the job of your dreams is to fire your boss and hire yourself. To do this, you must not allow your boss control what happens in your career. You must take charge of your work life. Firing your boss is a mental exercise. You should not walk into your boss’ office tomorrow and demand a resignation. Even if you have fired your boss and hired yourself as a manager, you must appear as loyal and as dedicated as ever. This time, you’ll be determining your own value. You will be setting your own goals. You will be in charge of selecting the skills you wish to attain. You will also have your own personal work plan. To start doing this, you must undergo a process of self-examination.

Write your own job description > Write a brief description of your job. However, do not align yourself with a certain company, profession or specialization. Reflect on what you do each day and each week. Give yourself a performance review. Find out what other people with the same job description earn. Also find out the skills that are valued in this certain field. Define alternate courses. After you have done the two steps above, you will realize that there are alternate courses available to you. Brainstorm about all the other fields and occupations that would suit the job description that you created. Put your plan into writing. Develop your own plan for your work life. Remember that your future plans should not hinder the alternate courses you have defined. Note down the new skills you need to acquire.

Kill Your Career… and Get a Job >Most people don’t see their jobs as emotionally satisfying. In fact, most people work because they need to put food on the table. Killing your career does not mean quitting. Rather, it means that you should stop looking for emotional satisfaction in your job. Instead, look for a job that provides a large and secure income. Reserve the search for emotional satisfaction to your personal life. You should stop thinking of your work as a career. It is far healthier to view it as a job. Ask “Why Do I Work?”

Usually, there are eight reasons why people work: power. / respect. / security. / travel. /serve. / meet people. / express yourself. / money.

You must learn to derive satisfaction outside work, and basically expect only Money from your WORK. You must earn respect off the job, find security away from work, and travel for pleasure (and not for business). If you are working to meet people, remember that there are far better places that are more suitable for making friends.

There’s No I in Job > You must realize that you have been lied to. In the past, you have been told that to succeed in your career, you must show up on time and work as hard as you can. You were also promised that you would be rewarded if you show up early, work all day, and stay late at night. Even if you have been a model employee, your job is not secure. You must realize that people act in their own self-interest and not in the company’s interest. Instead, to succeed in your career, you must stop focusing on your own success and start worrying about your boss’ success instead.

The best thing you can do is to help your boss meet his goals. This is the best path towards job security. If you make your boss look good to others, you will look good to your boss.

Six Personality Types of Bosses and What They Want

The buddy

He wants to be one of the guys. Have lunch with your boss every time he asks and ask him sometimes as well. Include him in your group activities.

The loner

He wants to do his job and not be bothered with anything else. Help your boss stay away from other people. Offer to attend weekly meetings on his behalf. Volunteer to teach the new hire.

The stickler

He follows the rules and wants everyone to do the same. Follow the rules. Show up on time and dress the same way he does. Do things by the book even if you think it might hamper productivity.

The glory seeker

He needs to be the hero. Make sure that all of your triumphant efforts are reflected on your boss. Always ask him for advice. Compliment him on both actions and appearance.

The fighter

A boss who needs conflict. Do not allow yourself to be a target. Offer scapegoats and divert his attention to other potential targets.

The coward

He is always afraid. You must help your boss by eliminating anything that may cause fear. Offer to take the blame for something that has gone wrong.

Go Fish >Today, you can get laid off even if you are doing a good job. To make matters worse, the job market has been so tumultuous that getting a good job is now harder than ever. You must turn job hunting into a proactive and ongoing part of your life at work. After all, nowadays, employees are hired to get fired or replaced. You must learn to cultivate as many offers of employment possible. This will allow you to choose the job that is best for you.

You must stop hunting for one specific job. Instead, fish for as many jobs as possible and look at everything that bites. Then decide which jobs you can take, and which ones you can throw back.

How to Act During Job Interviews >Make sure that you are dressed neatly and that you are well-groomed. Do not wear too much perfume or jewelry. Arrive on time. Smile. Shake hands firmly. Make eye contact. Do not sit until you are invited to. Do not slouch, cross your arms or legs or touch your face.

No One Hires a Stranger >Networking is not as effective as it used to be. Nowadays, business executives are aware when they are approached by individuals who are using networking as a disguise for a job hunt. Instead of relying on networking, you must learn to turn to your personal life when seeking job opportunities. Become active in your church or pursue a new hobby. Go to social activities whenever you can. Of course, you can not rely on personal contacts alone when you are on a job hunt. Take advantage of old-fashioned methods such as answering help wanted ads and visiting employment agencies.

Appearance Counts>Always make sure that you are wearing something clean and appropriate. Furthermore, be conscious of your manners when you are meeting with people. The best way to make friends is to smile and to look people in the eyes.

Engaging with Strangers >Here are some tips you can use when talking with people you have just met: Ask questions. Listen closely and don’t interrupt. Don’t argue or disagree. Avoid frowning. If you can’t draw the other person into talking about himself, talk about something you share. When asked to share about yourself, do not take too long. Make sure you do not one-up the other person.

It’s the Money That Counts >Companies nowadays are trying to lure employees into their folds by offering non-monetary benefits. These perks include health club memberships, company-owned cafeterias, and even concierge services. You must not forget, however, that your main reason for getting a job must be to increase your stream of income. Rewards that do not affect you financially are useless.

You need to get a job that pays the most money possible. When choosing between job offers, you must take into consideration and Isolate the Factors That Are No Longer Important : Amenities /Auto (car) /Challenging /Culture /Disability insurance /Environment /Expense allowance Health insurance /Income /Life insurance /Opportunity for advancement /Opportunity for learning /Paid time off /Proximity /Retirement plan //Stability /Status /Title /Tuition reimbursement /Unpaid time off

Hello, I Must Be Going >Now that you know that your departure is inevitable, you must plan for it. Think of the reasons why you would want to leave your current job. Think of negative developments that can force you to leave. Think of other jobs and the positive attributes they might have that can cause you to jump ship.

Leave Before You Are Pushed Out >Your job is not secure. Remember that if you leave your current company out of your own accord, you will receive better offers.

The Life of Your Dreams >Remember, you can turn your work life around. By firing your boss and hiring yourself as manager, you cease to depend on other people for job satisfaction. You can increase your income, spend less time at work, and have more time for your family. By finding the job of your dreams, you can have the life of your dreams.

The Last Word on Power: Executive Re-invention for Leaders Who Must Make the Impossible Happen

Summary of Tracy Goss book The Last Word on Power: Executive Re-invention for Leaders Who Must make the Impossible Happen

I first met Tracy Goss, one of the foremost experts on transformational leadership in the late 1990s, as an executive at H-E-B Food/Drugs in Texas.

I had been warned that grown men and women, people I knew, were experiencing emotional experiences–some even cried–as she “gutted you open to force you to be honest with yourself” before she “changed your paradigm about making the impossible actually happen.”


I saw remarkable transformations in leaders. It was hard work, but the changes in those of us who learned from Goss was extraordinary.

Her book and classes were some of the most powerful I have ever experienced. She consults to CEOs and top executives of major communications, technology, banking, food and retailing companies, in the U.S., U.K., and Europe.


As with all JackNotes, this is a summary of knowledge to improve and live better lives. This particular summary is longer than most, because the book (for high level executives and leaders) is detailed and academic. More detail is provided than in most of my summaries.


Ms. Goss is the President of Goss-Reid Associates Inc., and cofounder of the Leadership Center for Reinvention, both based in Austin, Texas.

My training included one-on-one and group sessions with her. Per “train the trainer” sessions, I also taught other executives throughout the company. It was certainly life changing.

Her book is billed as an invitation to accomplish something so extraordinary that it currently seems impossible. A big-stakes game lies at the heart of this. She has conducted intensive programs for executive leaders and the key leaders throughout their organizations. So revolutionary is this course that it has changed the lives and organizations of the people who have gone through it. I have italicized some of the key points.

Chapter One: The Power to Make the Impossible Happen

The power that brought you to your current position of prominence and responsibility as a leader – the power that is the source of your success in the past – is now preventing you from making the impossible happen in your life and in your work.

You must acquire a new kind of power: the power to consistently make the impossible happen. The pathway to this new power is to completely “re-invent” yourself: to put at risk the success you’ve become for the power of making the impossible happen.

The outcome of Executive Re-invention, for those who take it on, is an entirely different relationship with reality, not only with the future but also with the past and the present.

Goss defines this advanced level of power as the ability to take something you believe could never come to pass, declare it possible, and then move that possibility into a tangible reality.

Once you acquire the capacity to generate the power to make the impossible happen, it cannot be taken away from you. In fact, it increases over time.

Fortunately, this power can be acquired by anyone- anyone who is committed to something in his or her life that is currently not possible and who is willing to “re-invent” himself or herself to accomplish it. Nobody can achieve that sort of power by copying what someone else did.

Executive Re-Invention is a series of radical transformations in which you put at stake the success you’ve become for the power of making the impossible happen. Through seven distinct transformations, you completely re-invent yourself as a leader by redefining your reality of the past, present, and future and your relationship to taking risks, winning, action, and being extraordinary. Executive Re-Invention provides you, and allows you to provide others, with the capacity for making the impossible happen regardless of past experience or current circumstances.

Some people are concerned that the imperative to “re-invent themselves before they re-invent the organization” implies that there is something wrong with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Executive Re-Invention is not remedial work. It does not even improve the leader’s skills. It takes leaders someplace new, to unknown and unfamiliar territory.

Executive Re-Invention is not a psychological journey. It’s not a theological journey. It’s not even a philosophical journey. It is primarily an ontological journey. Ontology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality and different ways of being. Executive Re- Invention is concerned with the different ways that you as a leader are being and how that determines your reality of what’s possible and not possible.

The purpose of this book is fivefold:

1. To introduce the path of Executive Re-Invention for leaders and engage them in making the impossible happen

2. To incite people to see the value of following this path, to re-invent themselves and the leaders of their organizations

3. To dispel the myths and habits that hold people back from their own destiny

4. To end the despair about resistance to change in organizations, and, as result of the first four purposes:

5. To catalyze the emergence of extraordinary leadership in all aspects of everyday life.

Leaders Must Reinvent Themselves First

If you are going to re-invent your organization, then in order to succeed, you must first re-invent yourself.

The way key leaders think and act has been a key force in giving the organization its current identity and practices. Therefore, if you are one of these people, and you do not re-invent yourself before you begin, then your re-invention effort will not accomplish what you want.

The situation of corporate leaders today is that they take on the “top gun” missions of complete corporate re-invention but without any training.

If you are a breathing human being, you are resistant to change. Like all your fellow human beings, you are designed to be incapable of starting with a clean sheet of paper. This is not a matter of changing what you are doing, but of transforming your way of being.

Until you have re-invented yourself to be personally free from the constraints and limitations of your own past (including your own past successes), you will not have the power to deal effectively with what is the source of resistance to change – either your own or that of others.

Transforming Your Way of Being versus Changing What You Are Doing

Change is a function of altering what you are doing – to improve something that is already possible in your reality (better, different, or more). Transformation is a function of altering the way you are being – to create something that is currently not possible in your reality.

The way you are being is the source of your reality, which in turn is the source of your actions.

It is difficult to realize in the environment of typical business language that your actions are always the expression of some overall way of being unknown to you, of which your will and decisions are just a part.

The Context is Decisive

To alter the way you are being, you must engage with the phenomenon of context. Context is the human environment that determines the limitations of your actions and the scope of the results your actions can produce.

This explains why copying someone else’s strategy – while it may improve your reputation – never seems to lead to an effective action.

Changing processes will not get to the heart of transformation because you cannot get to being from doing. Processes and doing do not provide people with the power to alter their context.

Creating context is a cornerstone in the foundation of Executive Re-Invention. You shift the way you are being by creating a new context from which to relate to reality.

Language is the House of Being

Language is the only leverage for changing the context of the world around you. This is because people apprehend and construct reality through the way they speak and listen.

By learning to discover the concealed aspects of your current conversations and learning to engage in different types of new conversation, you can alter the way you are being, which in turn, alters what’s possible.

When you create a new context, you create a new realm of possibility, one that did not previously exist.

The leaders of the American Revolution created a new realm of possibility for humanity. They did this by declaring, “human beings have rights.” This brought about a new political environment.

The Stages of Re-Invention

This book takes readers through seven separate transformations. Each one involves new skills and new ways of thinking. Each requires some practice, and some willingness to experiment. Each offers an opportunity for broadening your own capabilities, for making the impossible happen in your own life and in the life of those around you.

The first four stages have to do with freeing yourself from the constraints of the past:

1. Uncovering your winning strategy: learning to recognize the existing sources of power underlying your individual success in the past

2. Experiencing the limits of the Universal Human Paradigm at work in your actions: undoing the context, and the way of being, that lead you to seek continuous improvement instead of re-Invention

3. Learning to put everything at risk: becoming willing to operate with no guarantee that you will succeed, and with your eyes wide open to the high odds of failure and the accompanying consequences

4. Inventing a new master paradigm that provides you with a new source of power: making a series of declarations that constitute a new master paradigm that allows you to engage the forces around you in an unprecedented manner

The last three stages build your capacity for making the impossible happen:

5. Inventing an impossible game to play: creating the future that re-invents you as a leader, and making bold promises in the game you have chosen to play, so that you do not spend your life carrying a spear in someone else’s opera.

6. Breaking the addiction to interpretation: operating in a reality where there are no “shoulds,” and where every problem and dilemma is seen from the standpoint of an invented future rather than through the filters of history

7. Operating beyond the limits of your Winning Strategy: learning to operate beyond compensating for what’s not possible. Like building a new set of muscles, this stage develops the capacity to have your everyday acting express the “impossible future” you have invented.

Who are the candidates for Re-Inventing Themselves?

The “impassioned” CEO or anyone accountable for an organization’s future

Anyone in the position of being an “executive transformational catalyst”

Anyone engaged with a “designated impossibility”

Before moving on, ask yourself these three questions. Answer the one which is the most evocative for you.

1. What are you interested in accomplishing that requires you to re-invent yourself to accomplish it?

2. What would you be committed to accomplishing – if only it were possible?

3. What’s worth accomplishing – so much so that it would be worth re-inventing your whole self?

Chapter Two: Uncovering Your Winning Strategy.

Discovering the Source of Your Success, Which is Also the Source if Your Limitation

A Winning Strategy is a lifelong, unconscious formula for achieving success. You did not design this Winning Strategy, it designed you. As a human being, and as a leader, it is the source of your success and at the same time the source of your limitations. It defines your reality, your way of being, and your way of thinking. This, in turn, focuses your attention and shapes your actions, thereby determining what’s possible and not possible for you as a leader.

Success is Never Free

Your Winning Strategy is not what you do. It is the source of what you do. It is a manifestation of who you are being. That is why, to a surprising degree, your behavior (what you are doing) is governed by Your Winning Strategy.

For as long as your Winning Strategy is your ground of being, it will never occur to you to take actions beyond it.

But as soon as you must take on the impossible, the Winning Strategy will not only cease to be useful, it will impede you from succeeding.

Your Winning Strategy also determines what, from your point of view, is wrong with other people.

The purpose of this first stage of transformation is not to find a better Winning Strategy, but (1) to recognize your own individual Winning Strategy and (2) to recognize the Compensating Power principle at work in your own Winning Strategy, and how this affects your current source of power.

The Compensating Power Principle

The Compensating Power Principle: Every time you exercise your Winning Strategy and produce a possible result to compensate for what’s “not possible,” to an equal degree you expand the scope of what’s “not possible,” thereby keeping the cycle going.

Re-inventing yourself does not mean replacing one Winning Strategy with another. Any Winning Strategy is as limiting as any other and keeps you trapped in the past. Re-inventing yourself deals with releasing yourself from the grip of all Winning Strategies. It means releasing yourself from the relentless practice of applying any formula that is a compensation for what’s not possible.

Start by asking yourself: In my everyday work life:

What do I listen for? (“listening for”) To what is your attention drawn? One way or another, this “listening for” element determines whether or not you will move into action and shapes the action you will take.

Observe yourself taking notes at meetings or programs. What information do you write down?

Notice when you feel you’re in the right place and things are going well. What gave you the clue that things were okay?

Ask yourself during conversations, “In what way is what I ‘listen for’ expressing itself in the conversation that I’m presently having?

“Listen for” what it is that prompts others around you to go into action too fast.

Ask someone who knows you well what they think you “listen for.”

From what actions do I expect power? (“so as to act by””) What represents an essential solution or action, in any given situation, to produce a successful result” You don’t consciously dwell on your actions; they are automatic responses to the context created though your listening.

Some techniques to uncover this include describing four or five examples of what you look like in action. Are you designing, confronting, persisting, helping, persuading, or taking responsibility? You should begin to see a pattern in your descriptions that expresses how you move forward in order to achieve success. Think about your negative opinion of others.

People sometime condemn others for not acting “properly” Your opinion of them is a clue to your “so as to act by” element. Examine your own speaking – in both verbal and written form. The act of writing, more deliberate than speech, forces you to choose words that are significant. Your writing holds clues to subtle nuances that reveal your approach to action.

What is the desired outcome of my life? (“in order to”) What’s most important to you in the long run? You act, move, study, talk, and make decisions in order to what? In order to achieve what outcome?

To articulate this component of your Winning Strategy you can examine your past.

You can ask yourself what the worst thing is that could happen to you as this element is easiest to spot when it is threatened or thwarted.

Expressing Your Winning Strategy as a Whole

Think about the three components of your Winning Strategy as a whole. Revealing is truly a discovery process: You must unearth your own Winning Strategy. Your Winning Strategy is as unique to you as your fingerprints.

Winning Strategies in Organizations

Organizations too, have a Winning Strategy. It is a reflection of the Winning Strategy of the organization’s leaders.

If the senior leaders are in a position where they can’t be pushed out, and they don’t leave of their own volition, they will push the organization back to the point where they are again needed and feel power. They might say they are willing to do anything to help the organization’s success, but the Re-Invention process will be undermined.

Chapter Three: The Universal Human Paradigm.

The Voice Whispering in Everyone’s Ear

A paradigm is a constellation of concepts and values shared by a community of people. The larger the community, the more significant and all-encompassing the paradigm.

The context of the Universal Human Paradigm, which colors all choices, decisions, and actions, is this:

o There is a way that things should be.

o And when they are that way, things are right.

o When they are not that way, there’s something wrong with me (the interpreter of events), with them (other people) or with it (anything in the world).

The Way Things “Should” or “shouldn’t” Be

There is a way that things should be. And when they are that way, things are right. When they’re not that way, something is wrong with you, them, or it.

This context of the Universal Paradigm is the source of the Winning Strategies described previously.

Since it’s so universal, why be concerned about it? Because the Universal Paradigm, which we have learned from childhood onward, hamstrings us in fundamental ways that affect our ability to create the impossible.

The Perpetual “Missing Dot”

A good way to understand the Universal Human Paradigm is to compare it to a popular game. Think of life as that familiar nine dot puzzle that is often used to show the advantage of “lateral thinking”.

The object of the game is to connect a square of nine dots with four straight lines without ever taking your pencil off of the paper. Once we know the trick, of course, the new awareness seems obvious. But it was not obvious before.

To live your life by the principle that “life should be some way” is to spend your life playing the equivalent of the nine-dot puzzle without connecting the last dot. As soon as you make that last move, at whatever cost it takes, another dot mysteriously opens up elsewhere in your life. You get better and better at playing the connect-the–dots game and you reap success in the process. But every attempt leaves just one dot unconnected, one goal unmet, one significant aspect of life unfulfilled.

You can only solve the nine-dot puzzle by becoming aware of the artificiality of the limits of the box. Similarly, you can only break out of the Universal Human Paradigm by increasing your awareness. The first step is the same as the first step in solving the nine-dot puzzle: to step out of your imaginary frame and look closely at the parameters of the puzzle.

Survival Under the Universal Human Paradigm

The more you follow your Winning Strategy, the more you are buying into the game. As long as you think you are playing the game effectively, you don’t question the need to play it.

The survival game established by the Ultimate Human Paradigm is the game that holds you back from making the impossible happen.

The Universal Paradigm in Organizations

The default context of organizations is the context of the Universal Human Paradigm: that there’s a way things “should” be. When they are that way, things are right. When they’re not, there’s something wrong with me, them, or it.

One of the ways you can spot a transformed group or organization is to observe how people relate to each other. Their interactions are not based on personalities or on results; they are based on their commitments.

Chapter Four: “Dying” Before Going into Battle.

Freeing Yourself From The Illusion That You Can Control Life So That It Turns Out The Way It “Should”.

Japanese Samurai warriors, in reminding themselves of the inevitability of loss, used the phrase “Die before going into battle.” This practice allowed a warrior to enter an episode of combat without fear of death. He had brought himself through an experience of the acceptance of death ahead of time. His death was a plausible outcome. In this way the warrior was able to fully give himself to his mission without concern for survival. Such freedom made all the difference between defeat and victory.

The equivalent of experiencing “dying before going into battle” for today’s leaders is to accept – as if accepting a gift – these statements:

o Life does not turn out the way it “should.”

o Nor does life turn out the way it “shouldn’t.”

o Life turns out the way it does.

The End of Hope

Accepting that “life doesn’t turn out the way it should” is the equivalent of an alcoholic “hitting bottom”. You must go through a life-transforming experience before you can transform your relationship to the addiction and before you can move from denial to acceptance.

There are a least three significant implications of the statement “Life does not turn out the way it should.”

In the long run, your Winning Strategy will never completely “work.”

Your life will never be complete. To be a human being is to devote your life to pursuing the ninth dot until you die.

You cannot control the outcome of your life. In the end, the outcome will be the same. One day you will die. Someone with a shovel will throw dirt over your face. You will be, at that time, as satisfied or unsatisfied as you will be. In the meantime, life won’t follow the pattern of the controls you are trying to put in place.

Your life will not turn out as you hope it will. There is no hope of life “turning out as it should.” Life turns out as it does.

Accepting Hopelessness as a Gift

Accepting that you can’t control the outcome is not the end of action – it is the opening for the boldest and most daring action. You can accept total responsibility for your choices and actions. You are free to play full-out in creating and implementing an extraordinary future for yourself and your organization.

For this transformation to affect you, you must see through the illusion that you can control the outcome.

You can provide a different quality of life for your life. You can take on making the impossible happen, knowing all the while that even if you do that, you will still not alter the outcome. The author calls this process “getting to zero” – reaching a state where you do not interpret events as being “better than they should be” or “worse than they should be”. Events are simply what they are.

Chapter Five: Creating the Re-Invention Paradigm.

Acquiring the Capacity to Make the Impossible Happen

The next transformation is to invent a new master paradigm – the Re-Invention Master Paradigm – discovering its possibilities as if nobody had ever discovered them before.

Inventing a new master paradigm is accomplished with language: specifically the speech act of declaration.

A declaration is the act of speaking that brings forth a future the moment it is spoken.

For a declaration to be authentic and have the power to create a future, one element is essential. The person who speaks the declaration must have authority in the area in which he or she is declaring.  

A Declaration of Possibility

The new realm of possibility you declare is founded solely on your stand for that possibility – without precedent, argument, or proof. Said another way: A declaration of possibility brings “what is not” into existence as a possibility.

As with all declarations, to make an authentic declaration of possibility, you must have authority in the arena in which you are declaring. That arena is: What you say is possible, and not possible, in your future.

You are the authority in the arena of what you say is possible and not possible in your future. You have total authority with regards to what you say is possible and not possible in your future.

While this may seem self-evident, it is extremely important to understand that in the past you have not taken this authority. As a function of your Winning Strategy and the Universal Human Paradigm, you have given away your power to determine what is possible or not possible in the future. You have given over this power to the past. Anything impossible in the past has been impossible in the future.

You are about to break through this barrier. You will reclaim the power you have given to the past.

Creating the Re-Invention Paradigm

Getting beyond the limits of your Winning Strategy and the entire Universal Human Paradigm requires reclaiming the power you have given to the past: the power to determine what you say is possible or not possible in the future.

This is accomplished by a series of three specific declarations which bring into existence a unique realm of possibility – a new master paradigm designed for making the impossible happen, the Re-Invention Paradigm. This is the new paradigm from which to express your leadership.

The first two declarations create the new Re-Invention paradigm. The first creates a new future for you as a leader. The second provides a new source of power in the face of present circumstances. The third declaration is the context for the new paradigm. It frees you from the constraints of the past.

The first declaration: “I declare the possibility that ‘what is possible’ is ‘what I say is possible.” With this declaration you reclaim for yourself the power (to determine what’s possible in the future) that you had formerly granted to the past.

Before operating from this declaration, you automatically related to the future according to the guidance of the Universal Human Paradigm. Which means:

Events take place

You interpret those events

Those interpretations determine what you are willing to declare possible, which in turn shapes the limits within which actions can occur.

These limits, in turn, affect the scope of the results that can be produced.

Once you are operating from this declaration, the future is invented. What you say is possible determines what is possible. Your actions and the results they produce are a reflection of the possibility you declared.

The second declaration: “I declare this possibility: ‘Who I am’ is the stand I take.” With this second declaration, you create the possibility of a new way of being for yourself as a leader. The phrase ‘who I am’ refers to the way you are being. This declaration makes room for a new way of being that is a function of the commitment that you are willing to make.

Power in the Re-Invention Paradigm is generated from a commitment to an “impossible future”. Once you declare a specific impossible future, your way of being now operates in relationship to that declaration. Your Winning Strategy no longer dictates your action.

After this stand is taken, and the commitment is made, then all the deterrents of the past – interpretation, historical analysis, and fear – are no longer deterrents. They are now something that exists, about which you are informed, while you take actions to move the possibility into a reality.

The third declaration: “I take this stand: ‘there is no such thing as right or wrong and no fixed way things should or shouldn’t be.’” This declaration is the context for the Re-Invention Paradigm. It displaces the Universal Human Paradigm context (“There is a way things should be, and when they are not, there’s something wrong with me, them or it”).

You are declaring the possibility that henceforth you are relating to everything that happens primarily as something that happened – without any meaning added. You are declaring the possibility that henceforth you do not relate to an event as whatever interpretation or explanation or conclusion you drew, based on the past. You do not relate to it as “the event happened the way it should” or “the event happened the way it shouldn’t.” You relate to it as “the event happened.”

Power is determined by the speed with which you can declare something possible and move that possibility to reality.

Taking a Stand

Taking a stand is a declaration of possibility that allows something to move forward from “existing as a possibility only because you said so” to “existing as a reality where it is so in the world.”

Taking a stand involves five essential elements:

1. The stand generates a unique kind of certainty. You are certain of your persistence and continued capability in the face of risks and quandaries. You base your certainty on the willingness to “live in a question,” rather than needing to know all the answers. When you have taken a stand, you do not need to know in advance how you will accomplish this possibility. You trust that you will be open enough, questioning enough, and capable enough to handle whatever needs come along during the course of your commitment.

2. There are no explanations, evidence, or proof in this arena. You can’t explain or justify a stand. You take your stand because this is the stand you take.

3. There are no justifications. You do not need to justify your purpose: You do not take a stand because it’s the right thing to do, or because it must be done, or because the world will be a better place.

4. There are no prescriptions. There are no rules of behavior, textbook solutions, or formulas for what to do or how to do it. Each person who makes a declaration must find his or her unique way of acting toward the commitment and filling in the missing pieces.

5. There is a commitment to take action. You make a commitment to move the declared possibility to a reality, regardless of the circumstances. This requires making a series of bold promises and fulfilling them. Without this commitment to act, the possibility you declared will never be transformed from a possibility to a reality, and it will go out of existence over time. Declarations are deliberately purposeful. They are always made in relation to your commitment to provide what is missing for the declaration to become real. That is what gives them credibility.

All five of these declarations require courage – a kind of existential courage where you must stand on your own, bringing forth yourself and the future from nothing. Taking a stand doesn’t necessarily mean standing alone or without support. Taking a stand determines who you are being and what you are committing yourself to, while life happens the way it does.

From Declaration to Design

The author closes this chapter with an invitation. She invites us to make a bold declaration of possibility regarding yourself as a leader.

History changes through declarations. Only through your declarations can you begin to alter the context in which you live. Only declarations will allow cultures to give birth to a new way of being. Only declarations allow you to transform the world.

Chapter Six: Inventing an Impossible Future.

Creating a new Game that redesigns you as a Leader

This transformation leads you to design a new “game” for your life – an invented future, constructed with rules, principles, and a designed scoring system, in which the stated purpose is to reach your “designated (im) possibility.” Based upon your design, this game will shape your choices and actions, while life “is turning out the way it does.” The game will redesign you as a leader.

The next step is to create a specific stand – a stand that is large enough in scope to replay the game of “surviving” that you have played in the past, through your Winning Strategy. It will be interesting enough to devote your life to fulfilling.

This stand becomes your impossible game in life. What’s the relationship between the stand and the game? Once you take this stand, you will have embarked on the game; indeed, designing the stand you take is a key part of designing the game.

As you play the game, it will alter your identity. To make the impossible happen, you give up the old identity that was built on your Winning Strategy. You begin to relate to yourself as “Who I am is the future of my enterprise.” You are being a “clearing” in the world; an opening in which an invented future can crystallize. Over time, others will quite naturally relate to you as this invented future, rather than as a personality.

Leaders are the “Clearing” in which the Future Happens

A clearing is an opening in the world of dense, conflicting interpretations – a place of light and simplicity.

The clearing is created by your listening. You are always “listening from” the stand you have taken to be the future of your organization, the country, education, government, or your industry. This listening functions as a kind of gravitational pull. When you are a clearing for a particular future, you will find that everyone around you shows up as related to some concern or commitment associated with that future.

You will know that you have become a clearing when the kinds of problems you have to deal with, and the kinds of conversations you have, have altered. They will no longer have to do with your Winning Strategy but with the stand you have taken.

The kinds of requests that people make of you, the kinds of promises that you make, the reasons people come to you, the invitations you receive, and the areas you spend your time with will all be different when they are shaped by your invented future.

As a leader operating in the mode of transformation, the fundamental question is: “What kind of clearing are you being?” Your actions, and the actions of those you lead, will be correlates of that clearing.

Generating a Clearing for Yourself as a Leader

To generate a clearing, you speak “yourself.” This is a very different act than speaking about yourself. It’s made with a kind of speech act called an “expressive” – a form of declaration that lets others know who you are in regard to a specific issue or relationship.

This game calls for being very explicit. This can be accomplished by using the expressive that begins, “Who I am…” You always create a clearing with an expressive that brings forth the arena from which you will generate the stand you take. The expressive might take the form “Who I am is the future of …”

Creating an Invented Future

A goal is a place to get to from where you are.

Unlike a goal, a realm of possibility is not a place to “get to” from the present. It’s an invented future to “come from” into the present. An invented future is unrelated to the past. It has no “in order to” component. In fact if you fail, it doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. It still moves the possibility forward.

You engage in the possibility for its own sake, simply because you said you would. You declare it a game worth playing, regardless of whether you succeed or fail. Indeed, it is unlikely that you will succeed, since the scope of your game is intentionally designed to probably be very large.

Even if you succeed in fulfilling the realm of your impossible future, life will still turn out the way it does. The game will not get you the “ninth dot.”

Play the game, and you will be free to live and work in an environment of unlimited possibility, rather than in an environment of inherited options. You will have the capacity to use your professional life as a leader who makes the impossible happen by engaging in actions of the highest risk. Reinventing yourself into an impossible future doesn’t alter how life turns out. It alters who you are being and what is available, while life turns out the way it does.

The Design of Your Game

You invent an “impossible future” by creating a specific realm of possibility and declaring that fulfilling this specific realm of possibility is the game that you are now playing in life. You further declare that you are no longer playing “life” for survival, but for making the impossible happen.

Everything, from here on in, depends on what you are committed to creating.

The game you invent out of the transformation in this chapter is the vehicle from which you will develop the mastery you need as a leader who makes the impossible happen.

First, make sure you are standing the presence of the three declarations described in Chapter 5, the declarations that together free you from the Universal Human Paradigm:

o “I declare the possibility that what is possible is what I say is possible.’

o “I declare the possibility that who I am is the stand I take.”

o “The stand I take is: ‘There is no such thing as right or wrong, and no fixed way that things should or shouldn’t be.”

Now move to your specific stand and put the game I motion.

o “Who I am is the future of…” (Your expressive)

o “I declare the possibility that…”

You will return to these speech acts when necessary, during the course of your game. This is because you must create the Re-Invention Paradigm anew each time you operate from it. It must be continuously brought into existence.

It may be appropriate to reiterate your expressive and declaration, almost as a ritual to bring yourself back into the transformational mode, from which you are playing the game.

Finally, make the game real by making an initial bold promise – a promise that stretches you beyond the limits of your present reality. The bold promise is the answer to the question what is the focus of your attention in the game you are playing?

During this game you will always be in action. You won’t take action on fulfilling the declaration of possibility itself. It is handled by making a series of bold promises, and taking action again and again, to fulfill them and make new promises, standing in the future that you have declared.

Throughout all of these stages of designing the game, bear in mind, five key design principles:

1. Principle #1: Assume you will fail in this game. You will wholeheartedly play to win. The only way you can play any game authentically is to play it to win. But you know in advance, that it will turn out the way it does. What’s important, because you said so, is that you move the possibility forward. Regardless of the impediments you encounter or the circumstances that you must include, they are all opportunities for building the muscles of making the impossible happen.

2. Principle #2; something within the game has to be more important than something else. As you create guidelines and measures, keep checking on whether this is a truly bold promise.

3. Principle #3: the game you design must be currently impossible, and you must be passionate about engaging in it.

4. Principle #4: the bold promises you make should have challenging time frames.

5. Principle #5: the game must be large enough in scope to hold all of your other accountabilities inside it.

Chapter Seven: Building the Bridge between “Possibility” and “Reality”.

Implementing Your Impossible Future.

The Addictive Cycle of Interpretation

Before you can proceed further, you must break an addiction. All human beings have this addiction; it is a component of the Universal Human Paradigm. It is the addiction to interpretation.

Transformation always begins by breaking the addictive cycle of interpretation and distinguishing what happened, from your interpretations about what happened.

In the Re-Invention paradigm, what happens – whether generated by you or someone else- is always and only a conversation: always and only a request or a promise.

The Bridge from Possibility to reality is a Conversation for Action

The next two transformations of Executive Re-Invention are designed to break the addictive cycle by transforming the way that “action” occurs to you.

Your vehicle, once again, is conversation. You moved an “impossibility” to a “possibility” with the speech act of “declaration,” now you move a “possibility” to a “reality” with two new speech acts: requests and promises. Together, they constitute the elements of a conversation for action.

Action will now mean a series of committed requests and promises.

Requests That Generate Commitment

Both requests and promises bring forth the future as a commitment. When you make a request, you generate something in the future as a possible commitment. And you seek a committed response from a person who has the authority to deliver on that commitment.

Your purpose in making a request is to move a specific possibility forward to a reality. You give a name to that possibility and invite one or more people to commit themselves to it, in some form.

The power of a request stems in large part from the fact that a request isn’t a representation of an action but is, in fact, an action in itself. At the moment a request is made, it brings forth the possibility of an action in the future. You are taking an action to move a declared possibility to a reality.

What allows people to authentically accept a request is the assurance that they have the authentic opportunity to decline. With the freedom to decline a request, both people are empowered.

Once you integrate into your way of being the knowledge that anyone can say no, it will begin to change you. You will begin to ask for more, which can be a huge departure from your previous way of operating.

If you don’t think you need to make requests, if you don’t think you need to ask anybody for anything, you are playing a very small game. You are also playing a small game if you only make requests you think will be accepted.

A request always involves four elements:

1. A committed speaker. If you are making a request, it must come from a committed stand. You must be extremely clear about the commitment. Because it shapes the way the request is worded, which in turn affects the ability of the listener to respond effectively. You shortchange your own power if your request doesn’t match your own commitment.

2. A committed listener. The listener must be someone who can do something about the request. If the person you are speaking to does not have the authority to grant your request, then you are not operating from a place that will move you to the future.

3. A specific set of conditions. If they are imprecise or ambiguous then the request will be ineffective.

4. A deadline or time limit. The listener must know exactly how much time there is to fill the request, and the speaker must know the point in time at which he or she can clearly determine whether the request has been fulfilled.

If the requests do not contain all these requirements, they do not bring forth a committed response, and the action does not move forward.

Requests with clearly worded, specific conditions ensure that the listener is, in fact, responding to the same request that the speaker intends to make.

“What Are You Asking For?”

In the Re-Invention Master Paradigm, you design your conversation to ensure that your requests will be heard. You can do this only when you realize that you have no control over the outcome. No matter how well you phrase your request, it may be denied. If it is denied, that will be a denial of your request. You will move from there to making another request. In fact, either way, you will move on from there to make more requests and promises.

Timing is vital to making a request, if you move into action too soon, there will not be enough support for possibility because the speaker and the listener will not be connected to the same commitment. There must be enough background conversation to ensure that both parties are willing to play in the same game.

Before making a request, you must create a background of relatedness that supports the possibility. A background of relatedness is rooted in the shared commitment that all the principle players have for the work you conduct together.

To create a background of relatedness, you begin by “listening for” that mutual commitment. You listen for the statements in the actions of the other person, find the aspects that resonate in your own commitment, and then build those into your request.

Creating a background of relatedness is one example of how each conversation in the Re-Invention Paradigm is an act of creation, with both players starting at zero. The two players can only create a new context by articulating it freshly – being specific about the language they use and making sure that important features of that background are spelled out.

If your request is accepted, move the action forward with more requests and promises, as they seem to be called for.

When They Say No

It doesn’t matter whether requests are accepted or declined. It doesn’t matter if they are declined with vehemence. A clearly worded request always moves things forward, even when it is declined. Simply by making the request, particularly if it is a well-thought-out request, you have to put yourself in a better context from which to raise other requests, or make their promises, related to your “designated possibility”.

The decline of a request is, in fact, a committed action. Declines move action forward as powerfully as acceptances if they do not become embroiled in interpretations. Declines bring hidden issues to the surface.

It’s important to remember that you have made a commitment to fulfill the possibility, not to fulfill the possibility “in a certain way” or “the way you want to.”

Promises, Bold Promises

A promise is the second speech act in a conversation for action. Like a request, a promise is an action that brings forth a future as a commitment and moves the possibility forward to a reality. It’s important to remember that only requests and promises move possibilities to a reality.

When you make a promise, you bring forth a particular future, as a commitment. You always make a promise to a committed listener, even if that committed listener is only yourself.

A threat is also a form of a promise.

In making the impossible happen, action is always and only a speech act. And always and only a request or a promise. In moving a possibility to a reality, there is no set order to which comes first – a promise or a request. However, the author recommends beginning with a bold promise, because it creates urgency and makes fulfilling the possibility an immediate priority.

The boldness of the promise is important. A bold promise is a promise that you don’t know how to fulfill and that, predictably, you could not fulfill within the specified time frame. Bold promises dramatically shorten the time it takes for a possibility to become a reality. If you are keeping all your promises, then your promises aren’t big enough. When you make a bold promise, you are also agreeing to stay in communication about your progress. You have made yourself accountable to the person who is receiving your promise.

Include as many supports as you can think of when you are designing the conversation in which you can make your promise.

The promise is the tool you use to put your words in action. If you promise something, you are saying that you will do everything you need to do to live into your promise. All that counts is your word.

As with requests, the way you phrase a promise is critical. Different forms of phrasing a promise convey different nuances. Each form has its own flavor and ramifications. Consider these: I accept, I pledge, I vow, I contract, or I agree. I guarantee, or I swear. I authorize.

After a Promise is Made

There are three possibilities:

o You can keep it – that is, you can fulfill the conditions of the promise on time.

o You cannot keep it. When the due date for the promise is past, the promise has not been fulfilled.

o You can revoke it. Revoking a promise is taking an action at the moment you recognize that the promise will not be fulfilled by the specified date. You declare that your original promise will not be fulfilled, giving the person you made the promise to as much notice as possible, so that person can deal with any consequences or inconvenience your revocation may have caused.

In all cases, as with accepting or declining a request, no meaning is added to keeping, not keeping, or revoking a promise. It’s just what happened. There may, however, be consequences to not keeping or to revoking your promise. You must take responsibility for those consequences. The recognition that you aren’t “good” or “bad” does not absolve you of the responsibility. In fact, the only reason to revoke a promise is that revocation is the responsible thing to do, and you fully accept the consequences.

There are actions to take after a promise is revoked or not fulfilled. These actions might include offering an apology for what the person must deal with; making either a new or different promise, to help ameliorate the results from not fulfilling the first; offering to fulfill any requests the other person might have that would reduce the inconvenience for them.

That last action, offering to fulfill the other person’s requests, creates an opening for that person to ask for something, so that you do not destroy the background of relatedness. In fact, your offer can create an opportunity to build an even stronger background of relatedness.

Three Questions After Something Happens

With your knowledge of requests and promises, you can now react differently to events that happen to you. Instead of occurring for you as the “causes” of “what’s right” or “what’s wrong” in your life, actions can now occur for you as “requests” and “promises” that come your way. This gives you a great deal more freedom in the way you respond to them.

The key is the speed with which you shift out of the Universal Human Paradigm. Can you move immediately to stop the inevitable interpretation from throwing you off balance?

o Questions #1: “What happened?” The answer is always “A conversation took place”. In other words, someone made a request or a promise. You merely note any interpretations, explanations, or conclusions that occur to you as something that “you have”.

You then ask the follow up question:

o Questions #2: “What’s missing?” ‘What does not exist that is essential for your ‘designated possibility’ to become a reality in the context of the game you are playing?”

What’s missing?”

Question #3: “What’s next?” The answer is always “take action from the future.” Make a request or a promise that moves your “designated possibility” (the game you created) forward into a conversation that is taking place in the request.

When that request or promise is accepted, declined, or countered, then make another. And another. And another. Until the invented future, the possibility that you are being, occurs in worlds as a reality, for you and for other people.

Action Under the Re-Invention Paradigm

You can “have” your interpretations, instead of acting from them as if they are the “truth” or an event that “really” happened.

“What happened,” on a moment-to moment, hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis, is irrelevant to the final outcome. “What happened” is just what happened.

Chapter Eight: What Athletes and performers know about being Extraordinary (That Executives Don’t)

Most people are not used to thinking seriously about transforming their action after reading a book. You already know that transforming your action as a result of a book is difficult – maybe even impossible.

The author then makes the following declaration and promise:

o “I declare the possibility: The transformations necessary for Executive Re-Invention can be produced by reading this book and using it as a coaching tool.

o I invite you to make the same declaration, and I promise that the transformation from this chapter will give you the wherewithal to fulfill it.”

Creating a Lifelong Practice

 Everything starts with practice. The seventh transformation of Executive Re-Invention, and the focus of this chapter, involves your relationship with practice and with “being extraordinary.”

 The transformations in this book reinforce each other to the extent that (no matter how valuable you may find them individually) the power they provide to make the impossible happen is only available when you incorporate all of the transformations as part of who you are being.

 That includes this last transformation in the area of practice – to embrace practice as the pathway to attaining a level of competency at making the impossible happen, and to continue to refine it throughout a lifetime. In short, you develop a way of being the practices, not just doing them.

 When you engage in this transformation, you shift your relationship with “being ordinary” from occurring as a function of natural talent, opportunity, and circumstances to “being extraordinary” occurring as a function of practice.

 When this transformation is complete, practice will no longer occur to you as a means to an end. Practice will occur to you as the essence of beginning.

 The key to extraordinary performance is the practice. Practice is the threshold of capacity.

 The price for being extraordinary calls for a relationship with practice that is equivalent to the commitment that artists and athletes have to the practices of their professions.

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

 Inherent in each of the first six transformations that make up Executive Re-Invention is a specific form of practice. These practices are components of a single transformation in themselves. They cannot be begun, let alone mastered, until you have completed the other six transformations.

 In working with these practices on a day-to-day basis, you will deepen each of the previous transformations individually, and you will provide yourself with the power of the entire Executive Re-Invention process- the power to make the impossible happen.

 Each of the practices gives you access to a particular type of power, but only when they are put together do they add up to provide access to power to make the impossible happen.

 To transform something is to alter how it occurs (how it exists, and how you are being in relation to it): from occurring in a way that constrains or limits you to occurring in a way that frees your actions. In each of the seven transformations, you are creating a new “clearing,” in which the key elements of leadership (winning and succeeding, the past, taking risks, what’s possible and not possible, the future, action, and being extraordinary) can exist as a component of your power to make the impossible happen.

Practice #1 Six impossible declarations before breakfast.

The transformation “Uncovering Your Winning Strategy” involves your relationship with success and winning.

You are shifting from…

… success and winning occurring as the desired outcome..


…success (in the form of your winning strategy) occurring as a compensation for what’s not possible.

 Recognize your winning strategy in action, moment by moment, and – instead of acting or giving in to that strategy – stop to ask, “What ‘possibility’ am I compensating for here?” To implement this practice, you must stop and catch yourself. It is best managed on a day-to-day basis. In this practice you don’t just “believe” impossible things; you declare them, incessantly and enthusiastically.

Practice #2: Tuning into the world of interpretations.

The transformation “The Universal Human Paradigm” involves your relationship with the past.

You are shifting from….

…the past occurring as a series of events that “really happened” and are “the” truth….


…the past occurring as a series of interpretations you’ve made about events that happened, all of which are valid and none of which represent “the” truth.

 To deepen this transformation, you develop this practice; become aware, day by day, of the extent to which you (and other people) automatically and immediately interpret everything that happens. Be able to hear that nearly every conversation is a reflection of the universal interpretation: “There is a way that things should be and there’s something wrong with “me, them, or it” when they are not that way.”

Practice #3: Giving up the meaningfulness of your past

The transformation “’Dying’ before Going into Battle,” involves your relationship with taking risks.

You are shifting from…

…”taking risks” occurring as a serious threat, where the consequences might result in losing everything (if things don’t turn out the way they “should”)…


…”taking risks” occurring as “moving the action forward,” with nothing to lose (since life does not turn out the way it “should”; it turns out the way it does).

 To deepen the transformation you develop this practice: taking the stand: the stories you tell about what happened in your life, your career, and your organization are not “true” – the events as you interpreted them never happened. Indeed, life itself is meaningless, and is all an interpretation that you made up. Finally, it doesn’t mean anything that life is meaningless.

 You can put all of your life at stake, in the service of whatever “designated impossibility” is important to you, because you know all of your life, to date, is meaningless. When you can do that, then you have met the challenge of this practice and completed the transformation of learning to “die before going into battle.”

Practice #4: having the “world” for your “word”

The transformation “Creating the Re-Invention Paradigm,” involves your relationship with “what’s possible” and “what’s not possible”

You are shifting from…

…”what’s possible occurring as “what’s predictable,” bound by the limits of past experience…


…”what’s possible” occurring as what you say is possible and what you commit to make happen, based on nothing.

 To deepen this transformation, you develop the practice: Replace “predicting the future”(by analyzing what’s possible, benchmarking, setting objectives or goals, or making feasible promises) with “declaring the future” and making bold promises to fulfill it.

 Keep up this kind of practice, making and following up declarations of “impossible” possibility. And at some point you will hit a threshold where a significant enough part of the world will concur that “when you declare that something is possible, it happens.” Making the impossible happen will no longer be a possibility you invented, it will be an expertise you have, as a function of who you are being.

Practice #5: Recognizing the cost of the tantrums you throw

The transformation “Inventing an Impossible Future,” involves your relationship with the future.

You are shifting from…

…the future occurring as “someplace to get to” (from the present), where “what’s wrong with you, them, or it” will be fixed or improved, and things will be the way they should”…


…the future occurring as an invented “impossible” game, where there’s no such thing as “should” or “shouldn’t.” as ‘right” or “wrong.”

To deepen this transformation, you develop this practice: Shift your focus of attention from what you are doing to the way you are being. Specifically: Are you being the “invented future and context” that you created, or are you being “right,” dominating and avoiding domination, and justifying the way you are?

The payoffs for maintaining your unwanted condition can be put onto three categories. While all three apply, one of them will be the senior payoff – the most influential – for the particular unwanted condition that is persisting.

1. You get to be right. You also get to make somebody else wrong.

2. You get to dominate or avoid being dominated

3. You get to explain the way you are and justify staying that way. This payoff, the strongest of the three, is directly connected with the “in order to” column of your Winning Strategy.

In this realm of practice, you bring yourself in touch with the enormous cost of your racket. You probably already know what your persistent, unwanted conditions are. (A clue is: They are things that you complain about most). You need to allow yourself to experience that the cost is greater than the payoff. Only then will you stop conning yourself and running a racket.

The practice of viewing those unwanted conditions as a racket will allow you to recognize them for what they are. In recognizing them you no longer have to act them out.

Death is not the most profound loss or tragedy in life. That which dies inside of us as we live is a far greater loss. The loss of possibility, a loss that comes from running our personal rackets, has ravaged the lives of too many individuals who could have otherwise transformed the world.

Practice #6: Learning to see the “hook” coming before you swallow the “bait”

The transformation “Building the Bridge between ‘Possibility’ and ‘Reality,’” involves your relationship with action.

You are shifting from…

…action occurring as “a series of activities”…


…action occurring as a series of conversations.

Now to deepen this transformation, you develop this practice: Replace reacting from the past with acting from the future.

This practice involves learning to listen to actions as elements of conversation: speech acts such as requests and promises. Even when you recognize events as requests and promises, it is still easy to be swept away by your interpretations of what these events “mean.” You become hooked by those interpretations.

One way to recognize a hook is to examine yourself regularly. To try to anticipate moments when you are getting worn out, upset, annoyed, or frustrated. When you do experience those feelings, they are probably not a direct result of the event that actually happened – the request or promise that was actually made. Chances are, your strong feeling stems directly from an interpretation or conclusion you’ve assigned or drawn.

As you develop your expertise through this practice, you learn to avoid being hooked. Even in the heat of the moment, you learn to distinguish your reaction from the interpretation, and distinguish your interpretation from the event itself.

Timing is everything. You have to see your interpretations arising, without being swept away into actions based on those interpretations.

A key ingredient in transforming your relationship with action, and in mastering this practice, is your ability to transform what you “listen for.” Train yourself to “listen for “requests and promises, rather than for assessments and assertions. “Listen for” requests and promises, not for your Winning Strategy’s version (or someone else’s version) of what “should” or “shouldn’t” be, what’s “wrong” or what could go “wrong.”

When you learn to listen well, you will be able to pick out the opinions from the requests. As you learn to listen, you will discover what people are committed to and you will begin to relate to them from their place of commitment.

The Last Word on Power from the Author

I declare this possibility: the time for a revolution in leadership has come. It is time to live in a world where a vast number of people are actively engaged in making the impossible happen.

I assert that nothing less than a revolution in leadership will allow the successful re-invention of our organizations, industries, and countries worldwide.

I thank you for the opportunity to share this conversation.

I take the stand that anyone who has read this book has the opportunity to re-invent himself or herself into an extraordinary leader, who makes the impossible happen.

I invite you to join me in taking the stand that you, personally, are such a leader.

I urge you to commit yourself and your organization’s leaders to take on Executive Re-Invention.

I strongly recommend that you declare (for yourself) who you are as a leader, before you close this book.

I assure you that if you seriously engage in the practices of Executive Re-Invention, you will realize each of the transformations.

I promise that when you accomplish all seven of the transformations, you will give yourself the gift of ultimate power- the power to get the world to match your words – the power to dance with the past, the present, and the future with complete and total freedom!

Executive Summary: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

JackNotes Executive Summary: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray, Ph.D

It is important to remember that men and women have reciprocally different natures. Men and women need to appreciate these differences, and cease expecting each other to act and feel the way they do.

Chapter 2: Mr Fix-It and the Home Improvement Committee

Men love to have their abilities recognized and appreciated, and hate to have them scorned or ignored; women love to have their feelings recognized and appreciated, and hate to have them scorned or ignored. Men don’t rate feelings highly as in their view they can result in hotly impassioned, wildly unstable behavior; women don’t rate abilities highly as in their view they can result in coldly dispassionate, aggressively competitive behavior.

Men like to work on their own, and exercise their abilities by solving problems quickly and singlehandedly; women like to co-operate, and exercise their feelings through interactive communication with one another. Men value solutions, and view unsolicited assistance as undermining their effort to solve problems alone; women value assistance, and view unsolicited solutions as undermining their effort to proceed interactively. Men desire that their solutions will be appreciated; women desire that their assistance will be appreciated.

Chapter 3: Men Go to Their Caves and Women Talk

When faced with tough problems, men become non-communicative so they can work out how best to help themselves, while women become communicative so that others can work out how best to help them. Men like to demonstrate their abilities by being allowed to solve problems without interference; women like to demonstrate their feelings by being allowed to relate problems without interference.

When men do communicate, they like to get to the point, and generally only want to listen if they feel the conversation has a point; women enjoy talking for its own sake, and are happy to listen unconditionally.

Chapter 4: How to Motivate the Opposite Sex

A man’s instinct is to look after himself, even if it means sacrificing others; a woman’s instinct is to look after others, even if it means sacrificing herself. In a relationship, a man has to learn how to care for his partner rather than sacrificing her needs in favor of his own, and a woman has to learn how to be cared for by her partner rather than sacrificing her own needs in favor of his, so that the needs of both are met. If they do this successfully, both win, unlike their instinctive behaviors where one person gains from another’s loss. This has to be worked at, because if either partner feels their efforts towards the relationship are not being successful in pleasing their partner, they may feel hurt and decide to revert to their instinctive behavior. Unfortunately this then causes the other partner to do the same, and the relationship unravels inexorably.

In a relationship, a man needs to feel that his attentions are needed, and a woman needs to feel that her needs are attended. To achieve this, a man has to express his desire to fulfil her needs and her worthiness to receive his care, and a woman has to express her desire for his care and his worthiness to fulfil her needs. Both must remember to appreciate, accept, and forgive the other, and avoid blaming them when they fail.

Chapter 5: Speaking Different Languages

Men talk in very literal terms for the purpose of relaying information; women employ artistic license and dramatic vocabulary to fully express and relate their feelings.

Men like to sort their thoughts out before communicating them, and have the tendency to become distant and non-communicative as they ponder their concerns. At this time, a woman needs reassurance that her partner still rates her as worthy of being taken care of. Women like to sort their thoughts out in the process of communicating them, and have the tendency to pour forth a litany of general grievances as they relate their concerns. At this time, a man needs reassurance that his partner still rates him as worthy of taking care of things. Both must try to avoid feeling personally to blame when their partners are dealing with problems.

When a man is troubled, he does not want his partner to express concern for him, but loves to be told that the problem is easily within his abilities to rectify because of the implicit vote of confidence in his abilities. When a woman is troubled, she loves her partner to express concern for her, but does not want to be told that the problem is a simple one to solve because of the implicit dismissal of her concerns about the issue. A solution should be sought once her feelings have been fully listened to: too quick a solution justifies his abilities but devalues her concerns, too enduring a problem justifies her concerns but devalues his abilities.

Men feel validated and gratified when they are left to sort things out by themselves, and feel undermined by being offered sympathy or unsolicited assistance. Women feel validated and gratified by being offered sympathy or unsolicited assistance, and feel undermined when they are left to sort things out by themselves.

To accommodate their partners’ responses, each should make small changes to their behaviors and communication towards the other, but without compromising their own true natures.

Chapter 6: Men Are Like Rubber Bands

Men periodically bolt for cover when they suddenly fear that their self-sufficiency is becoming threatened. At these times they may become utterly unapproachable, demanding the right to be left on their own and to be allowed not to express their feelings, but if given support by being afforded space for a little while, they will soon feel better and spring back into their usual loving selves once again. It can be hard for women to handle the suddenness and speed with which men bolt for cover, and then subsequently spring back.

At times when men retreat into themselves, they can assist their partners not to be overly concerned or take it personally by providing some brief reassurance that they will return in due course. Women should resist the temptation to try to drag their partners back prematurely or criticize them over this natural behavior.

Chapter 7: Women Are Like Waves

Women periodically sink into a depression when they feel it is time for emotional cleansing and resolution. At these times they may become utterly negative in their outlook, dwelling on every problem which troubles them, including long-standing ones which will generally have been raised and addressed before, and if they cannot find any real issues to concentrate on, then they will find some random other things to worry about.

They suspend their normal giving natures, demanding the right to express their feelings and not to be left on their own, and if supported and allowed enough time to express and release their negative feelings, they will begin to feel happier again and return to their usual loving selves. The slowness in which they sink into depression and subsequently recover may be hard for men to handle.

At times when women sink into themselves, they can assist their partners not to be overly concerned or take it personally by providing some brief reassurance that it is not their partners’ fault. Men should resist the temptation to try to lift their partners back up prematurely or criticize them over this natural behavior.

Men demand the right to be free from time to time; women demand the right to be heard from time to time. When a man feels free he finds it easier to support a woman’s need to be heard; when a woman feels heard she finds it easier to support a man’s need to be free.

If a man’s periodic need to be free coincides with a woman’s periodic need to be heard, the best solution is for the woman to make do with being heard by her friends instead.

Chapter 8: Discovering Our Different Emotional Needs

Men and women need to remember that the emotional needs of the opposite sex are not the same as their own. Providing our partners with the wrong type of emotional needs will not be greatly appreciated.

Deep inside every man is a knight in shining armor seeking a damsel in distress who will love him, and shower him with trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. Deep inside every woman is a damsel in distress seeking a knight in shining armor who will love her, and shower her with caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. Men must listen attentively to women to understand their needs, avoiding getting angry or defensive; women must have faith in men’s abilities and best efforts to fulfill their needs, avoiding trying to change or control them.

Chapter 9: How To Avoid Arguments

Communication between relationship partners should be loving and respectful; verbal attacks by contrast are highly destructive. It is often not so much what is said that causes the damage, but the tone of voice and body language which accompanies it.

Arguments thrive on men failing to pay sufficient attention to women’s feelings, and women being critically disapproving of men. Either one may be the initial trigger, because a man’s inattentiveness can cause a woman to get upset and express disapproval, and a woman’s disapproval can cause a man to get defensive and stop listening to how she is feeling.

When men make mistakes they become frustrated and angry, and are best left alone until they calm down. Men consider apologies to be admissions of guilt; women view apologies as expressions of compassion. This difference of perception is why men are generally much less willing to apologize than women.

When engaged in an argument, men use strong and aggressive words to ensure that they win the argument, and women are frequently forced to back down in the face of a totally determined and implacable opponent. Men then feel that they have won the argument, but it is a hollow victory as their partners have not changed their views, but merely buried them in order to avoid an ever-escalating conflict. Sometimes people prefer to evade arguments instead of engaging in them. Men tend to do so by withdrawing inside themselves and refusing to talk; women often just pretend that the disagreement has been forgotten. The resultant peace is a cold one, because the issues continue festering unresolved.

To stop communication degenerating into arguments, men should strive to listen without getting defensive, and women should try to express their feelings without criticizing their partners.

Chapter 10: Scoring Points with the Opposite Sex

Men feel loved if their efforts at giving are appreciated; women feel loved according to what they receive. For women, loving someone means knowing and attending to their needs without waiting to be asked, and so a loved person should never have to ask for anything as their needs ought to be anticipated ahead of time. So women give unconditionally, and proactively seek ways to help others, whereas men only give when they feel that their efforts will be fairly appreciated and rewarded, and often will not know how or what to give without being specifically asked. Men often quickly suspend giving when feeling pleased about having done something; women may only suspend giving when feeling displeased with their partners for doing nothing.

Men value results; for women it’s the thought that counts. Consequently, men value big things much more than do women, who feel more appreciated by receiving lots of little gifts instead. A woman may consider a bunch of flowers to be just as good a proof of love as an entire month of hard work towards paying the bills.

If men and women do not take account of these different perspectives, they may fail to give their partners what they actually want. When this occurs, the man will frequently suspend giving as he feels he is not receiving enough reward back for what he has given, but the woman will continue to give unconditionally even though she feels she is giving more and has started to feel unloved, unappreciated and resentful.

Men should try to identify various little ways to give to their partners without waiting to be asked first, and should avoid the mistake of assuming their partners to be happy giving and not asking for anything back. Women should be careful not to give a false impression to their partners of being happy when they are not, and if they begin to feel resentful they should gently reduce their giving, learn to ask for things back, and be sure to keep expressing lots of appreciation of their partners’ efforts so as to encourage them to give more. Men should try to listen lovingly and respectfully to women’s feelings, women should try to express their feelings in a loving and respectful manner. If men give, and women appreciate, both end up feeling happy.

Chapter 11: How to Communicate Difficult Feelings

Unresolved negative feelings can cause us to act in ways we really don’t want to, or become manifest in all kinds of compulsive or addictive behaviors. Avoiding our negative feelings doesn’t make them go away, but compassionately embracing them can heal them and enable us to start loving again. By acting as loving parents to our own inner child, we finally allow our repressed feelings to be fully expressed and released.

To ease the pain and win love, men often obsessively seek success, and women obsessively seek perfection. Men may use anger, ego, or oblivion (such as burying themselves in their work) to avoid vulnerable feelings of pain or fear; women may lapse into depression or confusion to avoid having aggressive feelings of anger.

Constructive communication is a learned skill, and many of us must first unlearn the paradigm of negative communication and repression of feelings which we experienced during childhood. Communication works best if it presents the full picture, so that the root of the problem is revealed rather than just the symptoms.

Writing our feelings down is excellent for expressing our negative emotions (anger, pain, fear, and regret) in a controlled manner, rather than letting them explode at our partners in the heat of the moment. Having done so, we can get back in touch with our loving feelings, and are then in a much better state to explain to our partners what we are feeling, and what they can do to help us feel better. It is important to communicate such feelings in a loving atmosphere because we may need to feel securely loved while communicating such intimate and revealing feelings, and our partners may need the same if some of those feelings will be painful to hear, or could be taken personally. At times it is worth discussing them with friends or counselors first.

Chapter 12: How to Ask for Support and Get It

Men love to do things which are appreciated, and hate to do things which are demanded. Criticizing him or giving excessive instructions will make him feel more like a slave than a loved and trusted partner.

Men love to prove their worth through the things they do, but they generally wait to be asked, and take a long time to learn to offer their services unsolicited. Women should therefore control their expectations of men being able to anticipate their needs, ask for help without making it sound like a demand because they resent the need to do so, and appreciate the help they receive even though it needed to be requested first.

Women should avoid requesting help from a man in a way which either doesn’t sound like a clear request, or carries implicit criticism that he should have already done it. Questions which begin with the words ‘Could you’ or ‘Can you’ are often interpreted by men as questioning their abilities, and they therefore respond more positively to the same questions if they begin instead with ‘Would you’ or ‘Will you’. The difference may seem tiny, but it can feel as different as the man saying ‘No I can’t’ or ‘No I won’t’ in response to the request.

It is best to allow a man the freedom to do things in a way and at a time that works for him. If a man is busy doing something and a woman needs his help on something else, she should feel free to ask him for help, but be prepared for him to request to defer it or even to refuse it; if requests always require positive answers, they are really demands, and men will sense the difference. If a man grumbles about a request then he is actually considering it, and the best approach is to simply wait for him to come to a decision without saying anything further, and aim to accept the outcome graciously.

Chapter 13: Keeping the Magic of Love Alive

In relationships, unresolved negative feelings can pop up without warning, and we suddenly become upset, or sensitive, or distant. When this happens to our partners we should encourage them to work through it, accepting that it may take some time and that they may need support from outside as well as from ourselves, and do our best to control any impatience or resentments we may feel towards them during these times.

Love inevitably changes over time: the pristine bliss we feel when we first fall in love doesn’t last forever, and over time our personal faults and negative baggage inevitably become exposed. But if we stick tight through the ups and downs of life and each other, then our initial bliss gradually changes into a mature form of love which can become stronger and fuller with every passing year.

The Millionaire Next Door-Jack Notes

The Millionaire Next Door (by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko) is different. It is built on years of research, on a body of statistics and case studies. It doesn’t make hollow promises. Instead, it profiles people who have already become millionaires. This is a subtle but important difference.


The general premise of The Millionaire Next Door is that the pop culture concept of a millionaire is quite false and that most actual millionaires live a very simple lifestyle.

The authors, Stanley and Danko, did extensive profiling of people whose net worth defined them as millionaires along with those whose salaries and age defined them as likely millionaires and, using this data, created a detailed profile of who exactly a typical millionaire is.

From there, extensive interviews with these “typical” millionaires created a much more detailed picture of what it actually means to be a millionaire in today’s society.

Many people who earn high incomes are not rich, the authors warn. Most people with high incomes fail to accumulate any lasting wealth. They live hyperconsumer lifestyles, spending their money as fast as they earn it.

In order to accumulate wealth, in order to become rich, one must not only earn a lot (play “good offense”, according to Stanley and Danko), but also develop frugal habits (play “good defense”).

Most books focus on only one side of the wealth equation: spending less or earning more.

It’s refreshing to read a book that makes it clear that both are required to succeed.

Frugal wealthy breaking even (spartan) Spender breaking even (lavish) broke High-income spenders live in a house of cards. Sure they have the money now to fund their hyperconsumer lifestyle, but what happens when that money goes away?

It’s also difficult for low-income frugal folks to acquire wealth. They need to learn to play financial “offense”. But those with low incomes who spend are in the biggest trouble of all.

The wealthy, on the other hand, generally have a high income and a frugal mindset. They share other characteristics as well.

  • 80% of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich. This is contrary to those who would have you believe that wealth is usually inherited.
  • 20% of millionaires are retired
  • 50% of millionaires own a business

The authors write, “In the course of our investigations, we discovered seven common denominators among those who successfully build wealth.” Those characteristics are:

  • They live well below their means. In general, millionaires are frugal. Not only do they self-identify as frugal, they actually live the life. They take extraordinary steps to save money. They don’t live lavish lifestyles. They’re willing to pay for quality, but not for image.

  • They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth. Millionaires budget. They also plan their investments. They begin earning and investing early in life. The authors note that “there is an inverse relationship between the time spent purchasing luxury items such as cars and clothes and the time spent planning one’s financial future”. In other words, the more time someone spends buying things that look good, the less time they spend on personal finance.

  • They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status. Usually millionaires don’t have fancy cars. They drive mundane domestic models, and they keep them for years.

  • Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care. That is, most millionaires were not financially supported by their parents. The authors’ research indicates that “the more dollars adult children receive [from their parents], the fewer they accumulate, while those who are given fewer dollars accumulate more”.

  • Their adult children are economically self-sufficient. This chapter is fascinating. The authors clearly believe that giving money to adult children damages their ability to succeed.

  • They are proficient in targeting market opportunities. “Very often those who supply the affluent become wealthy themselves.” The authors discuss how one of the best ways to make money is to sell products or services to those who already have money. They list a number of occupations they feel have long-term potential in this area.

  • They chose the right occupation. “Self-employed people are four times more likely to be millionaires than those who work for others.” There is no magic list of businesses from which wealth is derived — people can be successful with any type of business. In fact, most millionaire business owners make their money in “dull-normal” industries. They build cabinets. They sell shoes. They’re dentists. They own bowling alleys. They make boxes. There’s no magic bullet.


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