2020 | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

Yearly Archives: 2020

If I Could Be Anyone Else It Would Be Bill Murray, And Here’s Why

If I Could Be Anyone Else It Would Be Bill Murray, And Here’s Why

Like a LOT of people I’m fascinated with Bill Murray, the legendary actor and all around just probably one of the most liked people on the planet. If you don’t know the legend of Bill Murray, start here. If you don’t like, or don’t know who Bill is, this entire thing is probably not going to make sense. Click that link, go read some stories, then come back.

Here’s the thing about Bill Murray. When I look at him, and read about him I think to myself, “Self, this guy is everything that you should be. Carefree, fun, adventurous. Just present in your life.” Because that’s what he is. And who doesn’t want that? You might not think you do, but be honest with yourself, it would be pretty amazing.

There’s a great book I read about these stories and his career that I highly recommend. There’s also a Netflix movie about all of this. And countless other articles and stories you can read about building his legend. Just use the Google.

My favorite is when Bill walks up to people, does something to them, and says after, “No one will ever believe you.” Like the guy who said he was eating his lunch at Wendy’s and Bill walked up, grabbed fry from him, ate it, then said that and walked away.

He’s right. Nobody is going to believe you. But it happened, and he does stuff like that all the time.

Some people might think that this is him just being a clown or putting on a show when he does things. It’s not. He lives his life this way and it’s fucking awesome. Bill just isn’t being “wacky”. He isn’t doing “stunts” or “skits”. He’s, through his carefree actions, teaching us how to really live. How to get fully engaged and be mindful of the world around us. 

To embrace the moment and just, fucking, live.

How many of us don’t enjoy life? I mean, even the smallest of things. Joining a kick ball game you come across at the park? Walking into a house party and just hanging out with some cool people? Offering your extra ticket to a World Series game to a random stranger you met on the street? These are all Bill Murray stories. Most of us don’t think that way though. We’re guarded and worried and hesitant. Social media has made it even worse. We connect with each other even less now on a real, face-to-face, human being level. 

But not Bill. He comes into people’s lives randomly, reads the room, and makes everyone feel special. We all want to be better versions of ourselves because of him.

Look at his films. A lot of the themes in most of his films are about letting go, enlightenment, and moving on. Living life at its fullest. From the famous line, “It just doesn’t matter” from the movie Meatballs. To the Razor’s Edge where he sees death and war and pain and decides to live a life the opposite of that. To Groundhog Day where he lives the same day over and over and eventually learns how to be a better person and be present every day instead of wasting your life doing the same thing, every day. Scrooged is ultimately the same story as well.

Here’s what I take away from Bill. Good things can lead to bad things. Bad things can lead to good things. If you win, or if you lose, it just doesn’t matter. Because life is going on either way. 

The question is, are you going to be present in it, through all the good and the bad, and experience it and live it, or not? 

Are you going to wake up every day like it’s Groundhog day and live the same experience over and over, and change nothing then die?

Because isn’t that what we’re all doing? Wash, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over. A friend calls and asks us if we want to go see a band we’ve never heard of. We say no because “we just don’t have time” or “never heard of them so why would I do that?” You see a flyer on a telephone pole about how to learn how to play piano but you decide you’re too old or you don’t have time to try that even though it’s been a life-long dream.

Think about that. That’s how most of us are living our lives. I’m guilty. Are you? Probably.

What must it be like to wake up every day and be Bill Murray? Experiencing new things and just living the life you’ve always wanted?

So what’s stopping us from living the unlived life like Bill Murray? Money for one. Bill’s rich, I get it. He doesn’t have to work. He can go anywhere, anytime and just randomly walk around and do fun stuff and experience things. We can’t. We have jobs and responsibilities. He’s also famous, so he can walk into your party and start washing your dishes and nobody is going to stop him. Or he can walk behind your bar and start bartending and they’re not going to call the cops.

But other than that, what is really stopping us? Time? Bullshit, we have time. How much time do we waste watching mindless television shows? How much time do we waste arguing with people about politics on Facebook? 

You have time; you just choose to use it the wrong way.

Bill doesn’t. And that’s why we should all aspire to be like him.

So text me now. What’s your favorite Bill Murray story, AND, what are you going to do today that is different than the same thing you do every day?

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Stop Saying You’re “Too Busy” To Connect With The People Who Mean The Most To You

Stop Saying You're "Too Busy" To Connect With The People Who Mean The Most To You

Today is a quick assignment. But first, I wanted to remind you that the entire point of this is that you text me after you read this. If you recall when you signed up, I'm trying to create true engagement with you. So... if you are reading this, please text me after, my direct number is below.

If you don't want to do that I'm 1000% cool with you unsubscribing. I won't be offended. Slightly annoyed, but not offended. :)

"Cutting people out of your life is easy, keeping them in is hard?."

- Walter Dean Myers -

So let's make this quick and easy today. I have an assignment for you.

I want you to think about the person you appreciate the most in your life who you don't connect with as much anymore. Someone who was/is always there for you but you lost touch with on a personal level. You know, before social media, when you actually talked to people, in person.

This could be a sibling, a college friend, a long lost lover, a former co-worker, a mentor, whomever. Somebody who you used to be close to. Someone who means something to you that you lost touch with for whatever reason.

Now I want you to call them, not text them, not Facebook message them... call them in the next three hours or less. And I want you to say something like, "I was thinking about you. We never talk anymore because we're both so busy. We never get together. Let's rectify that. Are you available for coffee, or a drink or lunch later or tomorrow or this weekend or tonight? Just wanted to reconnect, even if it's for ten minutes."

If they're not local and you can't meet with them, a phone call is just fine.

They're going to say they're too busy to meet, even for ten minutes. Do NOT let them off the hook. Go to them if you have to. Pick a coffee shop or restaurant close to their home or office. Make it easy for them so they can't say no.

After you make the call and set it up, I want you to text me and tell me who you contacted, and why this person means so much to you and when you're meeting.

That's it, simple, yet oh so hard to do, right? Can you do it? Will you do it? What could come out of it? A rekindled friendship? A new relationship? A new career? What "could" happen? Find out.

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Hello Newman! How To Make Peace With Your Nemesis

Hello Newman! How To Make Peace With Your Nemesis

Everyone has a nemesis. Jerry had Newman. Oscar had Felix. I’ve got a bunch of them in my own little world in Cleveland. Unless you live in yurt in the middle of nowhere, and even if you’re just the most super likeable person on the planet who gets along with everyone, then you have someone in your life who is your nemesis, probably. If you don’t, you’re perfect, congratulations!

As an angry young man I treated my nemesis with contempt. Don’t get mad, get even! That was my mantra back then. Years later, and as the grey hairs show up more and more, I tend to look at things much differently. 

In fact, I’ve got a guy who I have been feuding with for years now. We don’t like each other, at all. I won’t go into the details because who cares, but suffice it to say he is definitely the person when I see walking in my direction I used to have thoughts in my head of either punching him in the face, or a throat punch, or worse. Of course, thoughts are thoughts, I’m not a violent person at all. We all have those thoughts. The difference between people who act on them, and who don’t act on them, is jail time and the path to becoming a sociopath. 

So I’m older now. This guy, this nemesis of mine, I am softening on him. And here’s why. 

You know what? F*uck him. He’s not getting in my head anymore. He’s not taking up ANY space for negative thoughts in my brain ever again. When I see him now I smile and move on. He does not get to control my thoughts and feelings. 

But can I do better than that?

I’m trying to be a better human being. And part of that is examining the reasons why things are the way they are in my life so I reach enlightenment, if that exists. Being introspective takes work and is not easy. Is it me that caused this problem? Shit, maybe it is? Probably not, but hey, I’m open to the idea of that at least. I’ve actually gone as far as thinking about ways to repair the relationship, even though I don’t want to (just being honest with myself). 

But how? How do you let go of the hate like a Jedi? How do you make someone like you?

Maybe Ben Franklin has the answer? 200 years ago, he wrote in his autobiography…

"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."

Translation? If you’re trying to make nicey nice with someone, do them a favor because they won’t expect it, then they will soften on their issues with you.

In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th century:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of pursuing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

Boom! Now the question I have to ask myself is this. Do I have the balls to do that to my nemesis? Would you? Would you suck it up and ask them for a favor and express an interest in something they are passionate about in order to try and get them to think of you more favorably?

I’m going to try it. And this is going to suck, man. But I want to be a better person. I want to end this rivalry. It is doing me no good at all. It is a poison that only erodes my life, not enhance it, and I simply don’t have time for that any longer.

I’ll report back in the future with my results. Wish me luck.

Modern science backs up Franklin. Repeated studies have found that because the human mind hates cognitive dissonance (holding two contradictory thoughts at the same time), it will try to resolve the conflict between kind actions and unkind opinions by shifting its opinions to be more favorable. 

In essence, if you do something nice for someone, your mind concludes you must at least kind of like them, and you proceed accordingly going forward.

So would you try it? Text me and tell me about your nemesis and give me one thing that you think you could ask a favor of them to try to fix the problem?

Text me now. (216) 236-8294

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The Ultimate Wisdom of Chuck Palahniuk

The Ultimate Wisdom of Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, is a wonderful, violent and meaningful story if you read between the lines and pay attention to the messages it gives. So today we’re going to examine some of the famous quotes from the movie and talk about them together. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, it’s ok, we can still discuss the quotes on their basic level without the story context.

But you really should read the book. The movie works too. And in my opinion, it’s one of the only movies that is actually, possibly, better than the book. My other picks that fit that bill are Dances with Wolves and Wiseguy (Goodfellas). 

Now on with the quotes from Fight Club. Remember to text me after and “fight” me. :)

“You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.”

- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club  -

Materialism: This is an epic smack down on it. As harsh as this quote screams at us all; it’s dead on. Yet here we are, a society of people driven by our possessions. Directed like cattle through the chutes of advertising and marketing sales funnels. Our lives are more meaningful when we achieve more possessions that create not only the dopamine hit our brains require, but also give us social status and sense of self worth.

Don’t believe it? How’d you feel when you bought that iPhone 11 you’re reading this on right now? Or how’d you feel when you bought that new, fancy car and collapsed into the leather, heated seats? When you walked into the office with that Prada handbag; you’re telling me you didn’t want people to notice?

You felt good; don’t pretend you didn’t.

Look, you’re not an asshole because you like to buy stuff and accumulate stuff, that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m just saying, we like our stuff, but it’s owning us, and not the other way around. Our possessions, and the pursuit of more of them, keep us in bondage away from the life unlived. The life that we all deeply want to have, where we don’t have the pressures of money and the worries of every day normal life like bills and relationships.

Because that’s what we all really want; to live without pressure/worry, and too much stuff. You may not be open to hearing that, or believe it, yet, but deep down if you had the choice to forgo all the “stuff” in your life for true happiness and a pure sense of meaning, you’d take it. Probably.

Here’s a really, really obscure book I once read that I really dug. It’s called The Pots Of Gold: Memoirs Of A Modern Prospector. It has a massive 16 reviews so you know it’s super popular. One of them is mine from 2012. It’s a saga about a regular guy who did something highly irregular. He turned a two-week vacation into an eight-year adventure in the heart of Gold Rush country of Northern California. He made his own shelters, stayed in cabins, lived in caves, or slept under the stars as he prospected year-round in the High Sierras.

“Anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving the modern world behind for even a short time—no mortgage, no bills, no telemarketers, will enjoy this rousing tale of one man’s journey as he retraces the path of part of America’s history. Self-effacing, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and always compelling, Memoirs of a Modern Prospector will make you think seriously about loading up your backpack for an adventure of your own. For those of us who can’t take off and follow our dreams just yet, this may be the next best thing. His story is part how-to manual and part introspective, a tale that makes us envy his audacity and love of life.”

I’d do it. Would you?  

"I don't want to die without any scars.”

- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club  -

Sometimes I look at my children and feel terrible about how much I have protected them and kept them safe from the harsh realities of the world. Now don’t get me wrong. We (my wife and I) don’t wrap them in bubble wrap, and we don’t shelter them from the news. But honestly? Yeah, they’re soft, and it’s my fault. They’re soft in a way that they have never wanted for anything, or experienced any real life challenges beyond the normal suburban, middle-class nonsense. 

So in a way, by protecting them, I’ve failed them, and I realize that. Of course, in a way my failure is also a success. It just depends on how you view it.

Heck, I’ve failed myself in this regard. I have a few scars (my time in politics), nothing big, but certainly no “witness” moment. Like me you’ve met people who have amazing stories of life. Addictions, loss of limbs, disease, etc… Those are terrible things, yes. But they also shaped their lives and gave them experiences that most of us won’t have. An argument can be made that your scars make you stronger or more experienced, and possibly then, you might have lived a more fulfilling life? Seems logical. 

"We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.” 

- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club  -

We’re all soft. The previous generations went through some heavy shit. Yeah, we had 9/11. We had a housing crash that messed with the banks. Those were terrible, terrible things. But they weren’t anything like WWI or WWII. 

Our grandparents and those before them dealt with some serious possible world ending shit. The Great Depression had people living on the streets and on breadlines. When the housing crisis struck in 2008, sure, lots of people lost a lot of money. Lives were ruined, yes. But you probably still had a cell phone, and you ate every day, even if it was fast food.

If any of that stuff (Cuba Missile Crisis, Nazis trying to control the world…) that happened way back when happened in today’s world, we’d poop ourselves, right after we Tweeted about it.

Mental illness is at a record high. Suicide is as well. Organized religion is trending down. The American Dream is slowly draining through our fingers like sand in an hourglass. We’re depressed and frightened, more than ever. 

Spiritually, today, we’re simply just not sure what to think. At least in earlier times it was more black and white. Now we don’t know what to believe in, if anything at all.

“If you died right now, how would you feel about your life?”

- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club  -

Obvious answer: You’re dead, you wouldn’t feel anything. But you get the point. 

My advice? Today is a new day. Take a goddam risk this week. Do something stupid, or fun, or fun and stupid that you’ve always wanted to do. Chuck Palahniuk demands it.

Now text me and let’s fight about it. Which of these quotes stood out to you? Did anything you read today make you feel better, or worse about your life and where we are all going together as a society? 

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Take This Pill, It’ll Make You Feel So Much Better?

Take This Pill, It’ll Make You

Feel So Much Better?

As a child of cable television and pop culture (born 1971), most of my early knowledge of the world around me came from watching movies and television, and to a lesser extent, books. I mean, I certainly didn’t learn much from those Encyclopedia Britannica's my parents stuffed in the closet. They were excellent for writing papers on the Kangaroo from Australia or the Medieval period, because, well, the Internet didn’t exist!

I remember learning about space and the stars when I was six-years-old when I saw a movie called Star Wars - A New Hope. Should a six-year-old really have gone to see that movie at 10pm at night at the mall with the neighbor? Probably not, but hey, it was the 70’s. We didn’t helicopter parent back then, and it was amazing, both the movie and the time.

At that age I didn’t know what science fiction was. I mean, I didn’t really think Star Wars was real, but I had never really experienced something like that. And it moved me. It made me want to know more. It made me want to think bigger. It expanded my view.

Then came Indiana Jones who also taught me to dream big, and also gave me insight into how big the rest of the world was outside of suburban Cleveland Ohio. The 80’s didn’t offer much in terms of quality movies but I will say that I can still watch Police Academy and laugh my butt off from crude jokes. There were also some great nude scenes in the movie and what can I tell you, I was in eight grade. Good stuff man.

Fast forward to 2011. I watched a movie called Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper. The plot goes as follows. “With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access one hundred percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.”

The movie was good, not The Godfather good, but good. I didn’t really care for the violent parts because that’s not my thing. What I loved was the concept of being able to take a pill and become smarter and then accomplish amazing things. Like perhaps, write an amazing book that changes people’s lives. Or develop a cure for a disease. I didn’t like the plot line in the movie where he used his new brain power to get rich, but I get it, that’s what most people would do and it made for a better movie probably.

So here is the question I have for you today, and I’m looking for an honest answer. 

If you could take a pill that gave you 100 times the brain power you have now, what would you do with that knowledge?

If your answer is, “I would use my brain power to become a billionaire Jim,” then I won’t judge you for that, I promise. If you have another answer, I’d love to hear that too. Finish reading this then text me your answer.

But before you do that, let’s talk about how this could eventually become a reality, and more importantly, why does this kind of stuff work on us?

This is a real product. It’s a supplement called QUALIA that is sold by a company called NEUROHACKER Collective. I found out about this through and article on Scientific American

QUALIA is a supplement that is designed to target the whole system and bring about "radical cognitive enhancement.” It’s all based on something called Nootropics. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Nootropics.

Nootropics (/no?.??tr?p?ks/ noh-?-TROP-iks) (colloquial: smart drugs and cognitive enhancers) are drugs, supplements, and other substances that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. While many substances are purported to improve cognition, research is at a preliminary stage as of 2020, and the effects of the majority of these agents are not fully determined.

The use of cognition-enhancing drugs by healthy individuals in the absence of a medical indication spans numerous controversial issues, including the ethics and fairness of their use, concerns over adverse effects, and the diversion of prescription drugs for nonmedical uses, among others. Nonetheless, the international sales of cognition-enhancing supplements has continued to grow over time, exceeding US$1 billion in 2015.

Yep, this kind of stuff is a BILLION plus business, every year. 

From the article, about QUALIA…

I tried it. Personally speaking (and of course I can't speak for the experiences of others), when I took it, I felt as though I could focus for a longer stretch of time, hold more in my working memory, and connect lots of dots at once. Also, my thoughts felt as though they were flowing faster, there was a lifting of my brain fog, and my anxiety was basically non-existent for the entire day.

Let’s not get into the debate over whether Nootropics and the products that NUEROHACKER makes. This is not science like real cures for diseases or anything. These are supplements. Buyer beware. I must admit I do take a supplement. It’s pure bee pollen and I’ve been taking it for ten years. I don’t know what it really does for me, but I’ve convinced my brain it makes me feel better and give me energy. My point is I’m quite possibly just as much as a fool as the person who takes something like QUALIA. 

So yeah, let’s instead talk about the concept of the term radical cognitive enhancement, because that is far more interesting don’t you think? In 2012 The Atlantic published a piece called “Why Cognitive Enhancement Is in Your Future”. 

Cognitive Enhancers are not new to our society. Caffeine and nicotine are largely accepted as legitimate ways to help us be more focused, stay awake and be more productive. But meditation, yoga and a good night's sleep are also things we could do to enhance our performance. So it’s not just drugs and manufactured supplements is my point.

There are other ways too. The guy selling adderall out of the pizza shop on campus can probably hook you up and that will “cognitively enhance” you to write that term paper overnight. You “cognitively enhance” yourself every day when you drink a pot of coffee. So most of us do it in one way or another.

The question is, why do we feel the need for this type of thing in our lives? 

We all know why. Because at the core of our soul we all want to be better. Live better. Feel better. Be happier. Be healthier… and so on. And there is nothing wrong with that.

So we reach for something to help us get there, and that’s where the billion dollar business comes in… 

Because it’s much easier to take a pill than actually do the work to be better. And that is the core issue that created this marketplace.

When you really think about it, a lot of the greatest marketing and products and services come down to this one core message. “We make it easy for you.” I remember working at a convention about twenty-years ago and I was able to meet and spend the day with the late, great Billy Mays (RIP). My boss produced Billy’s commercials so that’s why I was there. Billy was a pioneer of late-night infomercials. He was quite probably the greatest television salesperson that has ever existed selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products.

During a break in the action when the crowd has disappeared to lunch, as I was standing next to Billy I asked him, “Billy, what’s the secret to all this? Why are you so successful?” Graciously, he pulled me aside privately and demonstrated the secret. There was a bowl of water on the table. He took one of his products, I forget what it was called, like a Shamwow or something. (For reference a Shamwow is an absorbent towel.) He dipped the Shamwow in the bowl of water, lifted it out and said, “Jim, watch my face as I squeeze the water out of this.”

He proceeded to give me a line from the commercial while he rung out the Shamwow. When he was finished, he said “Did you watch my face? That’s the secret. Never show effort.” He was right, when he rung it out he purposely did not contort a muscle on his face. It looked like he was squeezing warm butter. Zero effort.

Mind blown. In that moment Billy told me everything I ever needed to know about marketing in 30-seconds. And that is…

Easy Sells.

So that’s why supplements work. That’s why products like my bee pollen and QUALIA work and produce billions of dollars in profits. 

And that is why we all wish we had a pill to make us better.

***

So let’s get back to the original question. 

If you could take a pill that gave you 100 times the brain power you have now, what would you do with that knowledge?

Text me now. (216) 236-8294

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