WHY WORDS ARE IMPORTANT

I am generally seen as a ball buster when it comes to people not using the correct words or form of. I’d like to explain myself.

HOW THE $%^& ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN

  • It’s funny to me when people blurt out or type out something “close to” what they meant. “You know what I mean” – HOW ABOUT NO. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. Which is why we rely on WORDS to help others understand- make them real and meaningful. Take context into consideration. If someone misinterprets you, UNDERSTAND HOW THAT COULD HAPPEN and apologize- you shouldn’t be offended if you truly didn’t mean it to be that way- then provide calm clarity.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL LEAVE THOSE WHO CANNOT COMMUNICATE EFFICIENTLY BEHIND

  • Let’s be honest- AI is already infiltrating our lives. Those videos of children and grandparents asking Alexa things that she doesn’t understand – those are REAL. If you aren’t asking the right questions with the right words, you will not get the RIGHT ANSWERS. Intelligence doesn’t mean they can read your mind.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A MASTERS IN ENGLISH

  • Basic communication doesn’t mean it has to be grammatically correct, or even with the right punctuation (although, important in some cases).

TEXTING, EMAIL AND THE GIFT OF PROOFREADING

  • A lot of people bash on the fact that talking on the phone is “old school” and “doesn’t happen anymore.” This is actually a good thing! So, instead of REACTING to something, or using words that you’re not sure if they’re the right ones in that moment, you have time to THINK, RESPOND, and PROOFREAD. Actually give thought to what you’re about to let someone else read and think “how could this be interpreted? Maybe I should clarify some things, or change that word.”

THEN WHY SAY IT

  • Literally zero reason to say anything that you don’t mean or you know to not be true. Literally. Zero. 

READ MORE (GOOD STUFF)

  • You’re already doing it. Keep on. Find some people that when you listen to them or read their words, you understand. And keep listening or reading. You’ll end up able to communicate like them. I promise.

 

 

 

 

WHY I LOVE POWERLIFTING

In keeping with the theme of this weekend (my second powerlifting meet ever tomorrow), here are my thoughts on the sport and why I am in love with it.

YOUR BIGGEST COMPETITION IS YOURSELF

  • A lot of people don’t really understand what a powerlifting meet (or powerlifting in general) entails, nor would I expect anyone to- I barely knew even while I was going through it, and I’m still learning. The conclusions I’ve made about it is this: we are all people who have decided discipline and preparation have been a priority in our lives in the past several weeks/months. We believe in ourselves and want to encourage others who are on the same path. We break personal records more than state or national, although definitely wouldn’t mind if that was the case. There is something about proving it to a group of people that really pushes you.
    • this isn’t to say there aren’t rules, in fact there are a lot. and standards you need to hit in order to make it count. gotta have some structure 😉

IT COMES DOWN TO A TOTAL OF 9 REPS, ALL DAY

  • Generally, powerlifting isn’t about several reps of anything, but truly it all comes down to one day and only 9 reps. You “open” with a weight that you think it’s an easier one, and you build your confidence. Your second “attempt” is one you think is more of a “yeah, I could probably get this weight.” If you don’t get it, then you can try it again. If you did get it, you move on to your last weight- the one you’re aiming for. The one you weren’t sure if you could get or not. This is the one.

YOUR EMOTIONS AND MENTAL STATE ARE TESTED

  • “Exercise makes you happy!” Totally, totally, totally. Except, for when you’re 6 weeks into have another several weeks of 2 hour sessions five days a week and you’re exhausted. Maybe physically, maybe mentally, maybe both. But you continue on. You pass your own test. You put mind over matter and default to your newfound determination; not easily, but you do it. I can’t tell you how many times my head fought with itself, in which I learned a lot about what I’m actually capable of.
  • When you’re actually in the moment, this is when your mental state needs to just stop. You have to trust yourself that you did everything that you could to prepare your BODY for this moment, because if you didn’t, IT SHOWS

WEAKNESSES SHOW

  • It is in those few seconds of strength we are physically tested. The times you went down in weight, the times you didn’t do 15 reps and did 12 instead, did 3 sets instead of four- they all come out in those few seconds. The muscles you have been working on now have to show up in a big way.

I had a laundry list of “wrong” when I came out of my first meet: i had the wrong belt (I had to squat beltless), I need something more than BANG BCAA’s and protein bars to get me through the long day, I have to create a warm up routine and make it tailored to how my muscles and joints feel (which means I have to silence my head and truly listen to them), I have to look at every other person as their own set of rules and pains and strengths and cannot even try to compare anything I’m doing to what they’re doing, I can’t skip core day (ugh), I have to block out my surrounding and JUST DO IT.

I failed on two of my 9 lifts. That generally isn’t bad but it didn’t feel good. One was because I moved my foot at the top of the lift, and one was because I just didn’t even get it up off my chest. And I know what was going on in my head at both of those moments really were to blame.  I beat myself up over that for weeks. And still am holding on to it. Not a focus of my mental state but it’s lingering, comes out from time to time.

The day after my first meet I was an emotional and mental wreck. Maybe it was the 3.5 hours to get there and then 3.5 hours home that drained me, maybe it was everything altogether, but the day after I felt like I failed myself and I didn’t like that whatsoever. Two days after that I signed up for this meet I’ve got tomorrow.

Why? I’m not sure. I think I could prove to myself that I have learned and I am going to fix my faults. Know when to up the weight, know when to wait for the command, know when to push past when I wanted to quit. But more importantly, know that this is all for me. What I’ve learned in lifting applies directly to every aspect of my life.

You want a career that you love? Then you need to build the foundations in preparation of that career.

You want a successful relationship? Every day, you need to work a little towards making it that way.

You want a successful business? You need to build your brand’s muscles.

Incremental growth means a steel-like foundation and shorter recovery time.

There are off days- doesn’t mean they aren’t productive days though. I’d like to refer to them as “breathers” or “big picture days,” when you listen to the silence and adjust your path based on your gut and the trajectory of current projects.

Nutrition: Unico Nutrition | Meals by DeLeo Clothing: Fitsmo | Nicepipes Apparel

Denver, Colorado. 8.30-9.2

Stay: AirBnb

Travel: United/Lyft/Uber

Agenda: None

Experiences:

+ Red Rocks Amphitheater

+ Native Roots Dispensary

+ Orta Vez Restaurant

+ Red Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Gift Shop

+ Sexy Pizza (GrubHub Delivery)

+ King Sooper

+ Simply Pure Dispensary

+ American Cultures Kombucha Bar

 

Lyft / Uber  Stories

From Airport to AirBnb: Lindsey

Stepping out of her car in red plaid and jeans, she was the perfect introduction to the midwest. Mentioning our trip to Vegas to see Britney Spears on Saturday set the soundtrack to the rest of our ride to full-blown 90’s pop. I learned a lot about Lindsey: her first concert she attended sans parents was *NSYNC, she convincingly argued that NSYNC created more successful singers than Backstreet (although her opinion that 80’s music sucks cost her some music opinion credit in my eyes), recently drove her 12 year old daughter Kansas to see 21 Pilots, comes from a family of pot heads, was in Vegas a few years ago for a friend’s 21st birthday, saw David Copperfield, and has a sister and a brother.   Born and raised here, I asked her what she would suggest to anyone coming into Denver for the first time – “Red Rocks!” – was her immediate response, so it was the first thing we did the next morning.  (That and to have chili – states the mexican food is amazing)

From AirBnB to Downtown Denver: James

After a brief argument of Lyft versus Uber, I won and booked James in a towncar to drive us downtown. Well, we all won. Come to find out that James used to own a restaurant in Denver, and only recently closed; said it was getting too expensive ($80k a month for rent). On mention of being from Upstate NY, he tells us that he makes his own wing sauce and sells it (https://captainspongefoot.com/Captain-Spongefoot-Products.htm), and recently won the best wing sauce contest in Buffalo. Anyways, all of that information came as part of the suggestion to go to a particular dispensary called Native Roots.

From AirBnB to Red Rocks: Benjamin

We lucked out with this one. Pulling up in a Jeep Wrangler, Ben was about to escort us into the mountains with the most perfect mode of transportation ever (I – also – own a Jeep). Ben had two bottles of water in the cup holders in the back seat, and very quickly proved himself to be an alternate universe version of a good friend which made me feel at home immediately. Driving us up through Red Rocks, we find out that Benjamin moved to Denver 4 years ago. He’s in between jobs right now, and had a bad experience driving at night with Lyft- a person got out of a car at a red light and started pounding on the roof of their own vehicle.

From Red Rocks to Thrift Store in Suburb: Martin

Awkward silence and driver-excluded conversation…. nice guy.

From Thrift Store to AirBnB: Rick

Yet another collision with our alternate universe. This snow-haired Benz driver almost appeared out of nowhere, and upon entering his vehicle he offered us to plug into his power source if our phones’ batteries were low. Rick was a radio personality in Denver for years, and before that – a comedian. He even won 1st place in an episode of America’s Funniest People, which yielded him $10,000. With a classy flair in his demeanor, he hands us a business card and encouragement to give him a call while we’re still in town.

AirBnB to Kombucha Bar: Joseph

Immediately friendly, and after some of the basics are taken care of (just got into town yesterday- only here until saturday, from upstate ny, etc etc) he segway-ed  into a political test statement (you know what I mean). When he realized what “side” we were on, it was revealed that he has a degree in political science and the current state of affairs is frustrating to him. What I found most amusing is when he was speaking, he approached a word in a sentence that he had to hesitate before censoring himself. Noticing his hesitation, I then followed up with a sentence with the expletive he censored – giving him free reign to use it: and use it he did. He spilled out his distaste for the political actions being publicized in our society, and sparing no colorful word. It actually made me smile more than anything, knowing the unspoken relief of freedom of speech I had allowed him to have.

Grocery Store to AirBnB: Ashley

She passed us on the other side of the road, and yelled from her window that she was turning around to get us. After pulling a (probably illegal) U-turn, she arrives and we pile in with groceries. Again, we speed through the “visiting from out of town” spiel and she tells us about how traffic was insane trying to get in and out of the Broncos game that night. Thankfully, it had slowed down around our time (~7ish). She tells us we have to go to as many dispensaries as possible, and that’s all she’s suggest. Completely swooned over the fact that we went to Red Rocks already, talked about how any band there is worth it to see. We pulled on to our street, and Ashley was extremely intrigued by our tiny temporary abode, and we told her she HAD to see the decor – so we invited her in. She drifted around with her laid-back mid-west, hippie aura and expressed her appreciation of the thoughtful design. Leaning against the wall for a few minutes to talk about the benefits of THC v Alcohol & Cigarettes, and then ultimately ended with another “isn’t the world crazy right now?” conversation, and back on to her Thursday night Lyft shift. Felt like a friend came over to visit.

 From Airbnb to Goodwill: Zeke

Cool right off the bat, Zeke arrived in the morning  in the red version of my car back in NY. Talked about music, red rocks, and the like. It is then revealed that our own driver is a musician, and has played the Red Rocks stage. Friends with a guy who used to play drums for 311. 

From cafe to Airbnb: 

From Airbnb to Viewhouse: Simone

Curly blonde hair, we got a lot of positivity from our mid day Lyft driver. Mentioning our intention of attending the tattoo convention in town, we start chatting about our ink experiences. She mentioned the age-old “young and dumb” term that many people who used a tattoo as a form of rebellion at 18 and regret it. Except this one was slightly different. Simone told us that she believes that the energy of the artist, their point in life, their life force comes out in all of their art. Her first tattoo was done by a man who had owned a tattoo shop that closed, but was desperate to get back into doing it- it was painful, jagged, blown out- was supposed to be a vibrant lotus flower but instead she described it as a dying flower. Not 6 months later, her tattoo artist took his own life. She said they all knew he was struggling, but never thought he’d get to that point. Simone carried anger for over 4 years when she found out that he decided to take his life in front of his 2 year old, and while the other child was in the house. Her empathy for his children shook her to the core, and even turned into a “Aunt Simone” to them, offering as much comfort and support that she could through that period in her life. 

I found it crazy- similarity between her concept of artist’s work reflecting their point in life really was amplified by her artist’s inability to give her a vibrant flower. She didn’t even think of it that way before I mentioned it.

She mentioned she has approached tattoo artists in the past about designing, but has never been satisfied. I have to wonder if that’s a mental restriction she’s put on herself because of her prior experience …. inability to connect with an artist emotionally since then. 

Simone mentioned to us that she also barely is making rent these days. Tattoos are an expense she can’t justify. 

 
 

 

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T ASK FOR THE SALE

We are all smarter than this by now, at least so I’d like to think.

I have had a ton of random experience in many different industries, 95% of which dealt with messaging, communicating, interacting, and selling to the “general” public. There were a few common themes and observations I’d like to share, both on the “salesperson” and consumer point of view.

NO ONE WANTS TO BE SOLD TO

  • Now more than ever, when it’s 1000x easier to spend your money, people are opting for online, or hassle-free spending/purchasing and pick up. Why? Because it’s easier. You don’t have someone pushing stuff on you because they need to hit certain numbers, or someone talking your ear off for the first 5 minutes you walk into a store, or signing you up for a credit card that you’ll end up paying off for 8 years. There are automated check out counters popping up everywhere- making it even easier to make your shopping experience as human-less as possible – for a reason. We’re all tired of the pitches, upsells, and scripts.

YEAH, BUT YOU’RE WRONG

  • We are in the digital information gathering age. If I fed scripted lines given to me by corporate used to instill fear in my customer – “if you don’t get this, then THIS happens” or “you can’t get that without THIS” – 85% of those transactions came back to me as returns. I lost money in the end. I may have made my number for the day it was sold, but I had to give it right back within 30 days. The people who I spoke to as fellow humans, offered similar and real solutions and alternatives (EVEN IF IT WASN’T MY BRAND OR PRODUCT) turned into a network of great people. I had people coming into my store because they trusted me and my opinion, and they brought more people to me for the same reason. I gained them as customers because it was only natural, and their purchases became regular and my return rate plummeted. If you lie, or exaggerate, and they can find that out- then you’ve lost that customer for life: no one likes to feel lied to or taken advantage of.

HOW ABOUT NO

  • What do you do when you feel unsure about something? Do you decide to go all in anyways? I hope not. And this is what “sales” people need to understand- your job is to instill confidence, listen, respond appropriately, and educate your customer so they are the ones who say “You know what, I want to get this. This is what I need.” They want to know that THEY’RE deciding to purchase on THEIR terms, not because you asked them for it. My rule of thumb is if you have to ask – the answer will most likely be NO (or a yes, that later turns into a no).

IF YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE IS GOOD, YOU WON’T HAVE TO “SELL IT”

  • This is a luxury these days, believe it or not, to actually have a product or service of quality. Be wary of those who overcompensate for lack of quality by lowering prices (you pay for what you get), attacking their competition (why can’t we all just get along?), or hammering a message home with you that is not a direct reflection of their product or service.

OH MY GOD- A HUMAN.

  • If your business sees an actual body, a living breathing person, you have to know that they DECIDED your business was WORTH the effort to show up. You cannot be anything but grateful for them, and assist them at all costs.

THE EXCEPTIONS

  • There are exceptions to everything, and here are a few anomalies I witnessed:
    • People who are used to the sale, love the pitch – you’ll recognize them if you’re a good listener. They’re the ones who ask guiding questions, making your “pitch” natural and successful
    • Deception can happen on either side – business or consumer. Not all customers are honest, not all of them are good at saying no. I would have people who seemingly had the time of their lives shopping with one of my employees, spend a decent amount, and then strategically come back on a day they knew that particular employee wasn’t there and return their purchase. Nothing against the business, nothing against the employee, but the person felt for whatever reason their purchase wasn’t justified or made with proper thought.
    • Some people make cheating the system a sport. This is why being genuine when you represent your brand is so important. If you’re lying, they’ll challenge it, find it, and get their way because you didn’t stand for your brand or product.
    • I’ve even had people who I loved speaking to and interacting with, who then went home and took a fraction of something I said and wrote it into my business or company as a negative experience. Ugh.

 

Driving with John Lithgow  

I recently completed production work on a feature film starring a few known (or should be known) actors. Here are the stories of my time with them in lieu of pictures or autographs. 

From the get-go, John and I hit it off. I don’t think this was a exclusive situation either, as he was one of the most genuine, down to earth people I’ve ever met. He felt like a grandfather to me, which made me reminsice of my own. 

First time I brought John back to his hotel, we had been shooting in a BBQ joint near the production office. While I was waiting for him in the car, I realize he may not have known who I was or that I was waiting, so I went inside the location to find him. 

His tall stature was not hard to miss as I looked down the first hallway I found. He had a brown bag in his right hand, and asked if I’ve seen his driver. “That’s me!” I responded. He asked my name and followed me to the van. 

While on the ride home, he asked me if I was a local. I informed him that I am such a serious local that I have our city’s symbol tattooed on my leg. We talked about how Rochester had adopted him as a prodigal son of sorts, calling him a native and reporting of his temporary residency in the area for the film.  

John explained he was born here, and lived here only for a year and a half, but is so flattered by the attention and love shown to him. He asked who were the known people out of Rochester, we spoke briefly of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Kristen Wiig. He told me that his mother was from here; telling stories of her privileged life including “getting drunk and breaking into the Eastman house grounds.” His son lives in Buffalo, and he explained he had been to upstate probably 4 times in the past several years, one of those times being a one man show he performed at Eastman. 

We spoke of his cancer diagnosis, as well as his marriages and love for his current wife. I mentioned some facts of my life, including that my father makes artisan pens. I had one on me, on the off chance that the conversation organically came to it, which it did. Handing him the one I had, I told him he was welcomed to keep it. “You shouldn’t be so generous!” He kept exclaiming. I told him there’s more from where that came from if he’d have them. He said he’d take whatever pen I’d give him, but that my generosity is not an expectation. 

Pulling up to the hotel he says, “Oh! We are here already?” And thanks me for the ride, conversation, and gift. He tells me he’s going to have a night cap with the whiskey that was in that paper bag and call it a night. “Thanks and good night, Christina!” He says. 

The next day, I wasn’t the one to pick him up, but the production assistant that did told me he was raving about me and the pen that I gave him (which he had carried with him). A PA stated that she learned more about me from John talking about me than from me thus far!

——

Second time I drove him home, it was very late. Getting in the van, we speak briefly about how his day went and some random small talk. I helped him IMDB a person on set, but followed shortly with “Christina, I need to close my eyes.” 

Keeping the radio on classical music, John immediately fell asleep. As we drove up to the hotel, I grabbed his leg and said, “hey, John, we’re here. I’d offer to carry you up to your room but I’m afraid of how that would look.” He chuckled and got himself awake enough to get himself out of the car and into his room. 

“Christina, will you do something for me?” He asked. 

“What’s that?” 

“Christina, get some rest. Goodnight.” And he shut the door and headed to his room. 

————–

I was given the task to pack John’s things from his current hotel and move him to a new one. This was one of my favorite tasks, mainly because I am always excited and proud of my ability to be thoughtful and create a home-like feel. 
While packing his belongings, I came across a hanger that was obviously from a bride- the room must’ve been used as a bridal party ready-room the previous weekend. Since I was focused on simply re-creating his current room in the new hotel, I decided that the bride hanger must come with. I wanted to see if he would say anything about it…..

———-

The next time I saw John, he and I had a solid hour-long drive from set to hotel. “So, how’d you do?” quickly turned into the way I would address him whenever he got in the car. He would always give me a summation of his day, and we would continue on conversation. This ride home, John asked me for restaurant recommendations for dinner. I told him I had made a recommendation link with places in the area he must go to. 

I pulled up the link on my phone and handed it to him, then he went down the list for me to give him a one-sentence description off which he decided on one. 

He called and made a reservation, for one. How freaking classy is that. 

We also spoke of his current lead role in a Netflix series, his opinion of a few actors he has worked with, and would periodically interrupt our conversations to point out places of interest that we were driving through. 

When we got closer to the strathallan and I decided to ask if he “noticed anything that followed him to the strathallan,” referring to the hanger. He thought a minute. Then another minute. Said “don’t tell me.” Then asked what it was. I explained the traveling bridal hanger and he laughed. That made my night. 

…………

-driving John from set to airport for the Emmy’s

-emmy celebration (cake, glass, pen)

-john and Derek drive 1 (spirited convo)

-john and Derek drive 2 (praises and industry talk)

Justen Arnold: Flexx Mobility and Performance

Personal trainers are a dime a dozen these days. But people like Justen Arnold are not.

I had the pleasure of meeting with and talking to the Chicago native after a series of social media connections came to fruition. We talked business, marketing strategy, workouts, mobility issues, etc.. but what was more important to me was what drove him to do what he’s doing.

Justen is one of those people that I categorize as “awake.” He gets it. He is not self serving, nor is he assuming. As busy as he is, Justen makes it blatantly clear that his family comes first, and that they are what fuel his drive and energy. While talking in his modest facility in the Rochester Auditorium Center, we also discuss how training has to do with the decisions you’ve made on the inside- your motivation to be better,your commitment to yourself, and a small percentage of it is reserved for people like Justen to support you through it.

If you haven’t yet, check out Flexx Mobility and Performance. Justen is a powerhouse of motivation, energy, and knowledge. You may not be able to get into his already slammed schedule, but you may be a reason he starts a new version of what he does.

Flexx Mobility and Performance

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Justen will be holding “Boot Camp on the Beach” every Sunday from June 4- Aug 27. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please go to eventbrite or email Justen. event flyer.