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Happy Columbus Day!

It’s been 8 years since I ventured out into the social media world for the very first time.  I know I wasn’t the original “explorer”, but it was still a big move for me.  Permit me to share an updated, slightly wordsmithed version of my very first post from back in the day – beginning with:

People told Columbus the world was flat.  He didn’t insist it was round.  He got in a boat. 

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How cool was that!  No debate; no argument; no headlines; no hype.  They said, “Impossible!” he said, “Get me to a boat!”  Then Columbus got in that boat (funded by the original venture capitalist); and proved his point.

What a stellar example of commitment to success!  “Hey Chris, the world is flat you know.  If you go out there, you’ll sail right off the table into oblivion.”  “That’s OK”, he might have said, “I think we’ll be all right.”

What about you?  What are “they” saying you cannot do?  Do you agree with them?  Are you looking back at the land for your security?  Or are you looking out across the vast ocean and on to your future?  Are you debating – or are you doing?  Where are you turning for the fuel to maintain your positive, can-do attitude?

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. 

Babe Ruth

If you’re reading this, then you’re in my boat.  Welcome to The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©.  The next time you’re having one of “those days”, filled with too much negativity from “them”, come back aboard for a little positive reinforcement.

I’m using a social media platform as my vessel – it is the 21st century after all.  Some people today might say, “Gary; Linked In, Face Book, Twitter are fun and all; but a vehicle for ongoing business-to-business, business?  Impossible!”  Well, what do I know?

I’ve spent the last four decades of my career perfecting professional selling skills.  You know – permission-based prospecting; discovering the customer’s goals; presenting solutions; closing the deal?  Remember?  Are any of those skills relevant today?

Or have we in business actually shifted to Likes, Groups, Tweets, and other, electronically-impersonal means of getting ink and contract to meet and money to change hands?  Were professional selling skills important only when the world was flat?  Well, what do I know?

Best-selling business author Jim Collins wrote this:

The Tyranny of the OR vs the Genius of the AND.

To me, it’s not social media – or – the old way.  I think social media is important.

But, I also believe that building business relationships still plays a key role in the customers’ success; and in turn, our success.  I would like to believe that knowing what you’re doing is still critical to a sales person’s achievement.  Being a product expert + a technology expert + a competitive expert + a business person are the key characteristics our customers value.  Again, what do I know?

Similar to Christopher Columbus, no one can predict ahead of time what changes the online world will bring to the future of my profession.  I’m certainly not going to argue about it.  I’m just getting in my social media boat and setting sail – I believe I won’t fall off the face of the earth.

I hope you join me for the voyage and visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com often.  Bring a friend!  After all:

No sense in being pessimistic.  It wouldn’t work anyway. 

Unknown Sage

Here’s to the New World.  Thanks again Chris!

GAP

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How was your day?

One year ago last week, I was in an earthquake in Mexico City; a 7.1.  How do you work that into casual conversation?

September 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm local time, a powerful earthquake shook the bejeezus out of my training class; our lunch break; my colleagues and me!  Thankfully, no one in our group got hurt.

Unfortunately, there were many in Mexico City and surrounding states that did get hurt; over 200 people killed; hundreds perhaps thousands injured.  According to The Guardian ©;

It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.

In fact, because of that 32nd anniversary; commemorating that devastation; we actually had an emergency evacuation drill at 11am in 2017.  Just about 2 hours before the real thing hit again!

During the episode, I wasn’t afraid; but I was not brave either.  I was conscious of the fact we were experiencing an earthquake – on the 19th floor of a hotel no less.  What started out feeling like a freight train passing by, causing the table to vibrate quickly erupted into what seemed like a prolonged period of ferocious shaking; I could not keep my feet.

Those much braver than I were calling out; directing us towards the archway leading into the room.  Firmly they instructed us to move away from the windows; calmly, they reassured us that we will be alright.

I remember looking out the window and seeing the glass buildings across the plaza actually swaying.  It was surreal; it reminded me of that scene in movie The Matrix when the helicopter crash caused a ripple through the facade of a glass office tower.

My overriding feeling today is one of disappointment.  So many had invested so much before the earthquake hit – and after.  Gustavo Moussalli, out Latin American Division Director and the executive sponsor for the class had made a huge commitment to his local partners; coordinating a 3-day enablement class to support their success.

Gerardo Diez Martinez, our local Channel Manager made all the arrangements.  The meeting rooms and set-up; AV equipment; food and beverage; Gerardo spared no expense to insure we would have everything we needed for his partners.

My colleague Susanna Lagtapon sacrificed time away from her daughter’s 13th birthday; traveling instead to join us for the class.  Our colleague, Tony Caporal, with cooler head and bravery, prevailed following the earthquake.  He helped us retrieve our laptops and luggage.  (Even stopping at the lobby bar to grab a free beer on his way out of the hotel.)

Our VP, Brian Enright, was our “home base”; coordinating flights out of town; hotel reservations; and anything else he could do to support us from afar.

And especially Hector Garcia from our long-time partner NetSoft.  Hector insisted on personally driving us to the airport; would not hear of us taking a taxi or a bus.  He would navigate us through the city streets; on constant vigil for our safety.  Three hours to drive us 12 kilometers.  Three hours in the opposite direction from his own home and family – taking us in his care.

As with all disasters, there were many heroes – named and unnamed.  But that was 2017; Mexico City; and an earthquake.  Today, it’s another crisis; another natural disaster; another conflict.

We are all thankful for so many first responders and other heroes – named and unnamed.  May God bless them all.

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Nineteen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become all too common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for too many young people.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us. 

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton, Colorado – We are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M 

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today – and every day!

GAP

Olympians all…

It’s hard to top Olympic longevity.  Per Wikipedia:

The Olympic Games (Ancient Greek: Ὀλύμπια Olympia, “the Olympics”) were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states … They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympics is traditionally dated to 776 BC.

That’s 2,794 years (and counting)!

Are you watching the 2018 Winter Games?  What’s your favorite part?  Here’s mine from a previous Games:

Let your imagination put you in a grandstand at the Seattle version of the Special Olympics.  There are nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.  At the gun, they all start out, not exactly in a dash, but with relish to run the race to the finish and win.  All, that is, except one boy who stumbles on the asphalt, tumbles over a couple of times, and begins to cry.  The other eight hear the boy cry.  They slow down and look back.  They all turn around and go back… every one of them.  As you watch, one girl with Down’s Syndrome bends down and kisses him.  You hear her say, “This will make it better.”  All nine link arms and walk across the finish line together.  Everyone in the stadium, including you, stands up, and the cheering goes on for several minutes.  People who were actually there are still telling the story, four years later.  Why?  Because deep down we know this one thing:  What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means changing our own course. 

David S. Pottruck

The Olympics are a major TV event.  High drama perhaps; but has their purpose morphed? Originally the Games were religious in nature; intended to honor the Greek Gods.  Back to Wikipedia:

In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.  Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

I didn’t know that.

Here’s what I do know – Olympians are not limited to Olympic Games.  For many of us, just facing our daily challenges is an Olympic event.  For many of us, making ends meet requires an Olympian effort.

For many of us, each day we must set our mind for victory to avoid defeat

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

 

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will –

It’s all in the state of mind.

 

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

 

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or later that man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can. 

Unknown Sage

The Olympics will continue in the future.  For the rest of us; we will rise tomorrow; set our mind for the demands of our day; thinking (BELIEVING) “we can”!

Not something I would call “Games”.

GAP

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123117…ABC

Code?  No.  123117 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).

ABC?

ABC:

Always be closing. Telling’s not selling.

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please tell us your favorite “sales-closing” story.

Here are two of mine.

I worked with a seasoned sales professional years ago at Integral Systems.  He needed this one last deal to exceed his number and qualify for Club.  His prospect was in New York and he started with the old “camp-out-close” – showing up at their office without an appointment; determined to see his prospect; camped out until he did; needed to close the deal.  The prospect played along.

Unfortunately after agreeing to meet, his prospect wasn’t budging any further as my colleague tried every “ABC” tactic he knew – an extra discount; lenient contract terms; even an opt-out, side letter (unacceptable by today’s revenue recognition standards, but a common “last resort” back then).  At the end of a short but spirited interaction between the sales rep and his prospect, the “because-it’s-my-day” close was born.  It likely went something like this:

Prospect:

“I’m sorry, but as I told you; our plan is to finalize our vendor selection in January.  Why should I buy from you today?”

Sales Rep:

“Well Sir; because today is my day; and you have an opportunity to make today a special day for me.  Some day it will be your day; and when that day arrives, someone will have the opportunity to make that day a special day for you.  But today is my day and that’s why you should buy today.”

And his prospect did!

And then there’s the variation of the “because-it’s-my-day” close, I call the “me-or-my-successor” close:

As a sales professional, I carried a quota for over 40 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head.

After 26 weeks into my 2nd year, I was put on a “performance warning”.  At the 39th week, the Vice President of Sales was asking my Sales Manager to fire me.  Since my company had chosen to proactively promote me (perhaps a bit prematurely) at the start of the year, I asked my Sales Manager to give me 52 weeks to sell my annual quota.

We agreed that at the end of the 52nd week, if I was still below 100%, I would resign.  At the end of my 51st week, I was at 75% and significantly behind the required sales dollars necessary to keep my job.  However, I had been working hard on a very large account.

I called the executive at my prospect and asked, “Do you think you will accept our proposal?”  “Yes”, was his response.  “Excellent, thank you!”  I reacted.  And then I added, “Do you think you could place your order this week?”  When my prospect asked why, I said, “Because if you place your order next week, it will be with my successor.”

And at the 52nd sales meeting, with the Vice President of Sales in attendance, I “roll-called” the second largest deal in the region’s history; finished my 2nd year at exactly 100% of my quota; and kept my job.

123117… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!

GAP

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Traveling, revisited…

To support a corporate initiative, I have been traveling a lot in 2017.  The phrase, “traveling a lot” is relative.  I’m traveling a lot more than I have in recent years; but I’m not traveling nearly as much as my boss or the other true Road Warriors.

Of course, none of us business types travel nearly as much as my friend Monica who is a flight attendant for United Airlines.  With her seniority, Monica has a degree of control over her travel schedule.  As such, she occasionally encounters a passenger that takes the same flights for business purposes.  One such passenger gave Monica a compilation of travel humor that she in turn shared with me.

In 2017 we know that the skies may not always be “friendly”, but we can fly with a smile on our face nonetheless.  I mean, a plane flying in the air is by itself an amazing feat:

So when you’re on your next late; cramped; bumpy flight, here are a few tales to help your disposition, all courtesy of Monica and our favorite Unknown Sage:

Tower: “Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o’clock, 6 miles.”  Delta 351: “Tower, give us another hint.  We have digital watches.”

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight.  While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC ask, “What was your last know position?”  The student replied, “When I was Number 1 for takeoff.”

Taxiing down the tarmac, the DC10 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate.  After an hour-long wait, it finally took off.  A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, “What was the problem?”  “The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine”, explained the flight attendant.  “It took us a while to find a new pilot.”

The pilot was sitting in his seat and pulled out a .38 revolver.  He placed it on top of the instrument panel, then asked the navigator, “Do you know what I use this for?”  The navigator replied timidly, “No, what’s it for?”   The pilot responded, “I use this on navigators who get me lost!”  The navigator proceeded to pull out a .45 and place it on his chart table.  The pilot asked, “What’s that for?”  “To be honest, sir,” the navigator replied, “I’ll know we’re lost before you will.”

A DC-10 had an exceedingly long rollout after landing with his approach speed a little high.  San Jose Tower, “American 71 heavy, turn right at the end of the runway, if able.  If not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101 and make at right at the light to return to the airport.”

After waiting what seemed to be an interminable amount of time taxiing, an unknown aircraft complained, “I’m f***ing bored!”  ATC responded immediately, “Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself!”  Unknown aircraft replied, “I said I’m f***ing bored, not f***ing stupid.”

The controller working a busy pattern told the 727 downwind to make a three-sixty, a move normally used to provide spacing between aircraft.  The pilot of the 727 complained, “Don’t you know it costs us two thousand dollars to make even a one-eighty in this airplane?”  Without missing a beat the controller replied, “Roger, give me four thousand dollars’ worth.

O’Hare Airport Control, “United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one-o’clock, three miles, eastbound.”  United 329, “Approach, I’ve always wanted to say this – I’ve got that Fokker in sight.”

Here’s to getting home safe, Road Warriors – not everyone can do this for a living.

GAP

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Elephants…

One segment of the sales profession that fascinates me is selling “big deals”; “up market”; “enterprise”; “global”; “whales”… “Elephants”.  Many are enamored with the feast of the “kill”.  Few have the constitution for, nor an understanding of, the perils of the “hunt”.

Today, I do my best to support my clients in their “Elephant Hunting”.  I’m merely a guide however; having stopped carrying an elephant gun in 2011 when my elephants got away (see http://thequoteguys.com/2011/02/the-obvious-choice/ ).  My clients like that I know the language of the “hunter”; what to say; what to ask.  They also like that I know how to avoid the language of the “villagers”.

Big deal tracking is usually a quiet endeavor.  Not for want of self-invited guests.  When the boss hears we’ve got an elephant in the pipeline, she becomes our new best friend; along with product management; corporate executives; vendor partners; and a safari of followers.  Exactly the commotion the “hunter” doesn’t want.

I was speaking with a former sales rep of mine who lamented his disgust with his “elephant hunting” experiences over the course of a long and illustrious career.  Here he was, one of the best enterprise sales professionals I have ever known lamenting; lamenting!   It wasn’t about the financial remuneration or company accolades.  In my experience, it’s never been about the money (aka the “kill”) – it’s about the “hunt”.

Pursuing a big deal is as intellectually and confidence-challenging as it is exhilarating.  Exhilarating: as in exciting; terrifying; roller-coaster; nerve-wracking.  The exhilaration is the issue.  You see, “Elephants” are rare and missing the “kill” can be job-ending.  There’s also the negative impact of bringing in an “elephant” – only to have “the villagers drag the carcass off for their feast” expecting the “hunter” to simply go out and track down another.

In my wife’s business, a $500 transaction is considered “big”.  In the software business, many of my partners feel it takes a $500k level before it’s “big”.  I recently caught up with another former sales rep of mine who has been assigned a multi-million dollar quota from 13 accounts – 13.  I suppose if we were in the aerospace field, it would take a $500 Million deal before it gets to “elephant”.

Regardless, I find when a sales rep is working an “elephant”; it can not only be a lonely endeavor, but one that tests your intestinal fortitude.  Facing the prospect’s committee is tough enough.  Add-in lawyers (theirs and ours); purchasing; competition; plus, while tracking – worrying that “No Decision” is lurking in the shadows and will scare our rare “elephant” back into the jungle.

Still, all those pressures are trumped by the “village”.  It goes like this…  From our colleagues, every single time we see them – Hey Gary, how’s that big deal coming?  From our manager, every single time we see her – Hey Gary, did you close that big deal yet?  From corporate executives – Gary, you need to “commit” that big deal for this month.  From Accounting – Gary, you need to change the payment terms of that big deal to Net 30.

Even from the home front – Honey, when will you get the commission check for that big deal?  I wonder if she’s looking at our bank account:

Checkbook Balancer’s Law

In matters of dispute, the bank’s balance is always smaller than yours.

Unknown Sage

Enamored with the idea of selling “elephants”?  Be careful what you ask for.  To keep one’s sanity (and job), life as a “hunter” might mean living apart from the “villagers”.

GAP

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The trial and error train…

My wife was updating me recently on the remaining 2017 schedule of events her company will be participating in.  Coordinating business schedules is a common routine among married couples these days, true?

She is pursuing new business development strategies this year – including a handful of new trade shows.  We discussed the commitment; the time; the money; the risk.  We speculated on the trial and error probabilities reflecting on 2016; trying to learn from past mistakes; trying to leverage past successes.

Every time any of us tries something “new”, it’s natural to speculate whether or not such newness will be successful.  And as we all know, almost every new thing (aka trial) involves the risk of failure (aka error).  But to succeed, we must be willing to press on – move forward in the face of possible failure.

Virtually any endeavor involves such risk – a job change; marriage; having children; launching a new product line; investing in new trade shows – almost every endeavor requires a willingness to accept the principles of trial and error.  There are occasional exceptions:

Von Helsing’s Theorem 

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

But those are exceptions (and we’re not all sky divers).  For our more usual, daily adventures we press on; we overcome adversity; we risk failure in the pursuit of success – financial success to be sure; but family success; relationship success; fulfillment of life success.

Even when failing, we must follow White’s views along with those of White’s followers:

White’s Statement  Don’t lose heart… 

Owen’s Comment on White’s Statement  …they might want to cut it out… 

Byrd’s Addition to Owen’s Comment on White’s Statement … and they want to avoid a lengthy search.

So we jump on the trial and error train.  When we ride that train; when we persevere; many times great things are achieved.  Greatness as defined by financial success to be sure; but greatness has many dimensions – great families; great relationships; great levels of life’s fulfillment.

The tracks of the trial and error train lead to many destinations, some of which include expertise:

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. 

Niels Bohn

Is it worth it?  Do we like the destination that train is leading us to?  Some have lost hope certainly; not every station is called success.  It’s sad to see friends or family members fail; heck, it’s sad to see strangers fail.  Failure by accident; self-inflicted failure; failure from natural causes; even failure arising from acts of God as it’s labeled in the insurance field – all are sad.

Feeling sad or emphasizing or helping those that experience errors is one thing.  Pursuit of our success is something else.  We can and should do all, yes?

Fall down seven times.  Stand up eight. 

Japanese Proverb

It’s more than having a positive attitude and maintaining that “I can do it” outlook.  Trial and error is the train we take to success.  It may not be the only train; some are blessed with life’s fortunes almost without effort.  But that outcome is rare and that train is elusive.

So yes, we can rise today and hope buying the winning lottery ticket will result in fame, fortune and happiness.  Or, we can rise today; face the risks of trial and error; accept that these are the tracks toward success – financial success to be sure; but relationship success; family success; fulfillment of life success.

Life – all aboard!

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Eighteen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become increasingly more common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for all too many youths in their teens and twenty’s.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us. 

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton – Today, we are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today, and everyday!

GAP

I don’t wanna…

As I’m writing this little ditty I’m remembering one of those days.  You too?

Having a bad day in and of itself is nothing rare.  It’s just – I’d rather hear about your bad day and try to console you vs. experiencing that bad day myself.    You too?

It doesn’t matter when I know the cause of my mood.  Today for instance, it began with a family crisis false alarm.  I can’t help it.  Even though my sons are grown men; strong men; men I’m proud of more than I tell them; when one (or both) of them are in danger (real or perceived), I react.  And truth be told in many cases; over-react.  And that’s how my day started.

Once I understood that there was no danger, my mind seemed to switch into this “I don’t wanna” mood.  I tried to carry on; stiff upper lip, and all that.  I tried to have the courage to move forward in spite of the fear for my son (real or perceived).  I turned to our favorite, Unknown Sage; sought courage:

“COURAGE”:  The ability to move in the right direction in spite of fear.

Oh, I continued my day; went to the office; completed my meetings; conducted business as usual.  I mean, it’s not my company’s fault that I’m having a bad day.  Not like what happens at other companies:

Due to recent cutbacks the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off until further notice. 

Unknown Sage

And I appreciate knowing that I’m in a job, working for an excellent manager, a member of a terrific team, serving clients who value my contributions, all within a leading company in our industry.  Yes, a rare combination of positive factors many business people do not enjoy (and a source of me consoling them).  Nevertheless, today – I don’t wanna!

Who knows – maybe I have been too fortunate?  Maybe it’s just my turn for a bad turn.  Back to you know who:

Law of Life’s Highway:

If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Unknown Sage

I tried to address my poop-in-the-face attitude.  I read a few articles from TalentSmart one of my favorite thought leaders about emotional intelligence.  I perused their “Unmistakable Habits of Irresistible People” and felt bad.  Tried “Surprising Things Ultra Productive People Do Every Day” and felt worse.  Started down their “Body Language Blunders That Make You Look Bad” and gave up!

Maybe, hopefully, my timing is simply a little off today:

“Timing”:

I just heard the sad story of the comic who lost his timing.  He stepped on his own lines, tried to talk over the laughs, and lost his ability to build a strong close.  He got fired from one gig after another until he got so depressed, he decided to end it all.  He went down to the railroad tracks and threw himself behind a train.

The Jokesmith

I know I’m wearing out my welcome with our Unknown Sage  – but maybe I can still find peace:

My therapist told me a way to achieve peace was to finish things I started.  Today, I finished 2 bags of potato chips, a lemon pie, a fifth of Jack Daniels, and a small box of chocolate candy.  I feel better already! 

Unknown Sage

Yes, maybe that’s it – chocolate, booze, and junk food.  Doctor Oz – don’t start with me.

Well, not to worry.  After writing about it I think I going to be alright after all.  You too?

GAP

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