For the Guyfolk: How To Get a Girl To Break Up With You

My friend Landon has been in a relationship for five years now.  He mentally and emotionally checked out of the relationship four years ago, but he won’t break up with his girlfriend.  He would prefer that she end it, for total fear of being seen as the “bad guy.”  Now, usually my advice would be: “Grow a pair of stones and do the right, honorable and manly thing.”  But, after much consideration, I think it would just be easier to give him (and other guys) some tips on getting your woman to do a man’s job.  Landon, this post is for you!

Be Honest – Every relationship is built on lies.  When you start seeing a woman, you attempt to present her with the best version of yourself.  Of course, there is no best version of you.  You’re terrible.  So what you present to your date is someone who is not you at all.  And she does the same to you.  Eventually – usually after a few years of marriage – you decide that it’s probably safe to finally be yourself.  This always leads to divorce.  Those who stay married are the people who are able to keep the lie up for an entire lifetime.

Therefore, the easiest way to get a woman to end things is usually to just be yourself.  I know a guy who aspires to one day own a home with a long hallway that he can decorate to look like the Death Star trench that Luke Skywalker flies through in Star Wars.  That’s the kind of debilitating honesty that brings even the steadiest romances to a screeching halt.  So, what about you?  What’s wrong with you?  Figure out and embrace that and you’ll be on your way to lasting lovely loneliness.

Occasionally, honesty doesn’t work.  For some women – though she’s horrified that a grown man still wears footy pajamas and takes his vitamins in gummy form – the challenge of changing a broken, disgusting man into a half-way functioning member of society (or “woman”) is the greatest thrill.  If you find yourself in this kind of relationship, stop being yourself immediately.  There is only one way to get this kind of woman to break up with you: 

Become the man that she claims she wants you to be.

Be Sensitive – Women say that they want a man who is in touch with his emotions.  What women don’t realize is that most men are in touch with their emotions.  And those emotions are anger and hunger.  What women really want is a man who gets sad, because women are often sad and misery loves company.  You’ll need to cry in front of your woman.  The first time you do, her attraction towards you will actually increase.  But be diligent; after fifty cries in twenty days, she’ll be begging you to go.  I realize that sadness is a difficult emotion for many men to produce.  To aid you in tear production, go into your garage and try pulling nose hairs out with a pair of pliers or stabbing your thigh with a Philips head screwdriver. 

If taking a hammer to your junk isn’t your style, try this:

Be Romantic – Women love to watch romantic comedies and then complain that your relationship is nothing like the one in the movie.  However, if you take these movies and remove the good looking actors and the quirky soundtracks; what you’re left with is a combination of creepy stalker and borderline felony behavior.  So, if that’s what she says she wants, give it to her.  Cut off locks of her hair while she sleeps, press them into a copy of Atlas Shrugged where you have underlined the most misanthropic passages.  Or, wear a chain around your neck that has a vial containing her toenail clippings.  You could also acknowledge every milestone, no matter how small.  Give her roses one year after the first time you ever split dessert.  Rent a limousine on the three month anniversary of that time you both wore sweaters that were sort of the same shade.  Buy her a scented candle to commemorate the two weeks since she told you the story about how her beloved childhood cat “Snickers McFlurry” died of feline leukemia.  You relationship will be deader than that cat before you know it. 

Be Communicative – Landon’s problem is that he has chosen to pull away from his girlfriend in the hopes that she’ll “take the hint.”  This obviously isn’t working for him.  Landon needs to “push in” instead.  Women think they want a man to communicate.  So communicate your ass off, fella.  Call her thirty times a day just to tell her you’re thinking of her.  Visit her at her “girls night out” to tell her (and her friends) that you have a tummy ache.  Show up at her work while she’s giving an important presentation to ask her “should I get this mole looked at?”  When you’re together, tell her every thought that you’re thinking as you’re thinking it.  If you’re not thinking anything, think up some thoughts to say that you are thinking.  Try to dominate the conversation by speaking unceasingly; train yourself to breathe less, if necessary.  Start accusing her of not communicating and complain that she never shares what she’s thinking or feeling.  I guarantee what she’ll be thinking is this:  “How do I get out of this suffocating death trap of a relationship?”

There you have it, guys.  With careful adherence to these steps, she’ll be sitting you down to have “the talk” in no time.


Dream Interpretation

Freud spent a lot of time analyzing and attempting to interpret the meaning of the dreams his patients had.  For Freud, almost everything was about sex.  Objects in dreams usually ended up symbolizing penises or boobs.  This may have been satisfactory for Freud, but what about those of us who aren’t complete perverts?  Is there a way for us to know what our dreams mean?

Sure you can look up dream interpretation on Google or check out a dream dictionary from the local library.  They’ll tell you that a pig represents selfishness and a fence represents blockage.  By this simple logic, dreaming about a pig behind a fence means you need to block your selfishness or else unblock your selfishness or maybe stop someone else from blocking your selfishness.  But is this always the case?  What if your subconscious is simply trying to alert you to the fact that you forgot to put your pig back in its pen before you went to bed?

That’s why it’s important in dream analysis to take the dream as a whole.  It’s a little more work than a simple encyclopedic list, but the results are much more accurate.  The subconscious can be a messy place to delve into; but luckily for you, I am here to help you navigate.  Below are four dreams recounted by the dreamers themselves, followed by my startlingly perceptive analyses:

“When I was in high school, I had a dream that I was eating Lucky Charms in a cafeteria-style building but it was a television studio and Malcolm Jamal Warner came down and sat with me.  He asked me if I wanted to go with him to pick up his son and I said ‘oh I didn’t know you were married’ and he said ‘my wife died.’ and I said ‘sure, I’ll go with you but let me put my Lucky Charms in my locker first.’  And we left, end of dream.” – Viv V.

Viv, the Lucky Charms in your dream could symbolize either nourishment or Ireland.  We’ll split the difference and say that they represent potatoes.  The building that’s both a cafeteria and a television studio is tricky, but I think I’ve figured it out.  What’s one thing you can get both from a cafeteria and from television?  Answer:  Cheese.  The building represents cheese.  To your young subconscious, Malcolm Jamal Warner of Cosby Show fame, doubtlessly symbolized excitement and titillation.  Spice.  Finally, we have the living son and the deceased mother.  The mother/child relationship is one of nourishment (there’s that word again).  In this case, it’s the nourishment of life-giving milk.  When we break it down, we have:  Potatoes, Cheese, Spice and Milk.  Viv, I think your subconscious was trying to give you a recipe for either a casserole or a gratin.

“Well, last night I was somehow drifting in the sea, drifting closer and closer to the dam…then a seal came and distracted me, coming right at me, then when he passed he turned to follow me and it freaked me out and made me drift closer to the dam!  Then four, then 6, 7, 9, massive amounts of planes go by way too slow, way too low, way too close together.  This part is a recurring dream, where I am always running (or swimming) away from a massive terrorist attack.  Then the navy ship comes up to save me, and just as I’m pulled out I realize the seal actually wanted to HELP me, and I want him as my new pet.  Once I’m on the ship I ask to wring out my hair in the sink, where Jena Malone sneaks out of her and her sister in Sucker Punch’s room to help me – because at this point I’m sneaking around the ship like a spy – and then I wake up.” – Heather J.

Heather, this dream isn’t about boats and terrorists.  It’s about your desire to say swears.  You’re obviously repressed and your subconscious is begging you to start dropping some f-bombs.  (Planes drop bombs.)  You’re almost there, Heather; drifting closer and closer to that dam (or should I say “damn”?).  Don’t let yourself get stopped by the seal – as in “my lips are sealed”.  As you see in the dream, you are safe (“saved” as you say) when you get to the navy ship.  Wringing your hair is a symbolic way for you to shed your potty-mouth repression.  Now, amongst sailors, you’re free to “swear like a sailor” yourself.  Finally, I’m not really sure how you sneaking around the ship with two hot girls from Sucker Punch relates to swearing; but I do know that I’m pretty damn pissed off that you woke up when you did.

“When I was a little kid I dreamed that I was being attacked by aliens and I woke up screaming on the top bunk in my room.  I saw my mom coming across the house to calm me down and as she was picking me up to get me down from the bed, I realized she was an alien.  And I screamed and woke up in the top bunk.  Freaky, huh?” – Justin C.

Justin, your subconscious mind was very perceptive – and at such a young age! – by alerting you to the reality that your mother is in this country illegally.  I suggest you contact Immigration immediately.

“I was in the elementary school where my sister-in-law and I worked as teachers.  I was in the office section of the building and heading to the bathroom.  I opened the door, only to find her and my husband in there, making out.  They both turned and stared at me – he with a look of annoyance and anger, as if to say “What? Go away.  Leave us alone.”  So I looked down, flustered, felt really bad – as if I had intruded and bothered them – while also feeling devastated, and I closed the door to give them some privacy.  Sadly, it’s pretty normal for me to have dreams where the people I love do horrible things!” – Miranda B.

Miranda, you’re not alone in having these kinds of dreams.  They are much more common then you might think.  These dreams can be quite disturbing; but I’m here to tell you that there is a simple, yet proven technique for ridding yourself of these kinds of dreams altogether.  Here it is:  Stop eating at Del Taco before you go to bed at night.


What about you?  Would you like your own dreams analyzed as thoroughly and knowledgeably as you’ve read here?  Your subconscious mind has many great things to show you; but unfortunately, your conscious mind is too stupid to figure out what they are.  As always, I can help.  Email your dreams to, and I’ll give you the answers you seek, whenever I get around to it.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

One morning recently, I awoke to find the following email awaiting me in my inbox:

I really hope you get this fast.  I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in London UK for a program.  The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing.  The wallet contained all the valuables we had.  Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed  very grateful if i can get a loan of $1,850 from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home.  I will really appreciated whatever you can afford in assisting me with.  I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.  Thanks so much.



I know what you all must be thinking:  “Oh my goodness, is your friend Adam alright?  Were you able to get the money to him?  Did he ever make it out of such a dangerous cesspool like London?”

In answer to the first question:  I wouldn’t exactly call Adam a friend.  He’s more of a guy I allow to hang out with me.  As to the second question:  I have a firm policy that I don’t give money to strangers.  I define stranger as “anyone who asks me for money.”  Regarding the third question:  Adam never was in London.

“But his email,” you say, “It clearly states that Adam was stranded in London, seeming moments away from being roughed up by those Q-Tip-hatted guards that protect the queen.”  But you see, my friends – or rather, people I allow to read my blog – Adam and I (especially I) were victims of a scam.

Scammers, con artists, flim flam men have been around since the dawn of time.  During the Stone Age,  confidence cavemen would throw animal pelts over fallen tree trunks and trade the “carcass” for fire.   Here in the Information Age, with its Googlebytes, its YouTwits and its iPatches, scamming has moved up into a whole new level.  And we must be ever on guard against these internet-based scams (or IBS).  Doing so requires some detective work.  So let’s put on our Sherlock Holmes hats, our Columbo trench coats and our Miss Marple pants and get to sleuthing.

Using the email I received as a reference point, here are my tips for detecting a scam:

Look for inconsistencies of voice.  The people who write these fake emails often live in other countries and don’t speak great American.  Unfortunately, in my case, Adam also does not have command of the language.  He often uses phrases like “after we went for sight seeing” and “this will enable me sort our hotel bills.”  And Adam often goes back and forth between capital and lower-case when writing the pronoun “I”.  So here we reach a dead end.

Look for holes in logic.  No matter how solid the scammers story appears to be, if we look close enough we’ll find cracks.  In this case, we have “Adam’s” use of the pronoun “we.”  I expended a lot of mental energy attempting to picture someone agreeing to accompany Adam on a trip.  I just couldn’t do it.  This was made even more preposterous by the level of intimacy implied by the email.  Adam and his companion were apparently sharing everything – hotel room, cell phone, passport.  And what’s this “program” he and his companion are a part of?  Everything about this program is very vague.  That’s a big red flag. Since I’ve known Adam, he’s been involved in three separate 12-step programs, seven get-rich-quick pyramid schemes and two cults.  But no matter what thing he was involved in, he just wouldn’t shut up about it.  

Look for technological trickery.  I noticed the email I received was sent from Adam’s real life email address.  However, there was a separate “reply to” email address that I did not recognize.  My friend, Mbanefo says that this is a common tactic of hackers.  And I’ll take his word on it – in addition to being multi-millionaire Nigerian prince, Mbanefo seems to know a lot about how the internet works.  He’s a good man.  I would trust him with my life, and my bank account number.



Parenting with Julio

I am often asked:  “John, you’re amazingly smart, witty and youthful looking; and your blog is life transforming.  Is there anything you don’t know?”  And I have to answer in all honesty:  “Probably not.”  However, just because you know everything, it doesn’t mean that people will take your advice on everything. 

One such area is Parenting.  Just because I don’t personally own any of the tiny, bug-eyed, noise machines myself; people assume I can’t advise others on the proper feeding and maintenance of these almost human-looking creatures.  So for that reason, I have gone against my better judgment and allowed my blog to be taken over by another for this installment.

Julio Ibáñez is my good friend (so he tells me) and the author of the blog Daddy’s Timeout (  My people inform me that he has children and that he is quite good at making sure they don’t go rogue.  The following article is presented to you without edit or comment from me (once again, against my better judgment):

I must admit that I don’t usually write advice columns.  My own blog is more about reflecting on being a parent than advising people how to do it.  However, when my good friend John asked me to write a guest post for his site, I was more than happy to oblige!

His work has been changing lives across the country and even throughout the world.  As such, I was anxious to do my part in reversing some of the damage he’s done and prevent further ruination if possible.  I was all the more motivated when he mentioned that he wanted to turn his attention to parenting.

So in the interest of minimizing the scarring of our future generations, here are some practical yet hard-earned bits of advice for new and expecting parents:

1) Buy It Used:  There are two facts about your new child that you should know a) they grow at an almost exponential rate and b) they are exceptionally talented at ruining fabrics.  So, for the first 0-9 months of your child’s life, many articles of clothing are practically disposable.  They will either wear an outfit once and grow out of it OR wear it once and permanently damage it by means of regurgitation or diaper blowout.  You’ll find that there are enough new expenses to keep up with upon the arrival of your precious child, so save yourself some money on this front and buy used.

This works great with toys as well.  Kids outgrow toys almost as quickly as clothes, so consignment stores are usually full of last season’s “hot” items.  The novelty of opening a brand new, packaged toy won’t even register until they’re much older and they’ll get just as much enjoyment out of these gently used items that cost a fraction of the price.

Plus, reusing is recycling.  Buying from garage sales or consignment stores keeps items out of the landfills (for a little while longer, at least).  Just make sure to wash and/or disinfect any such items you bring home.

2) Try Generics:  On a similar note, don’t automatically assume that name brands are better than the various generic ones.  Maybe you’re willing to spend a little more for nationally-known formula or baby food because of their reputation and how primary such items are to your child’s health.  That’s understandable.

But there’s one category of spending where there’s almost no real reason to stick to higher-priced national brands: diapers.  Think about what they’re for and then ask yourself why you would pay a premium.  And, as most parents discover, this is not an insignificant expense!

Now, it will take some trial and error, as some brands quickly show why they cost so much less. However, don’t give up the search on the first leaky generic as there are plenty out there that are solid replacements for the $30.00/box Huggies.  For example, if you have any around you, I’ll swear by Kroger’s Comforts brand (they have another generic one step down from this that I can’t recommend) and they are up to 25% cheaper than some of the more famous name brands.  As much as I hate Walmart and their generics, their Parents’ Choice diapers aren’t bad, either.

3) It Will Now Take You Up to 2 Hours to Leave Your House:  The process will inevitably look something like this: Pack toys, a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, blankets, stroller, then you’ll have to feed baby because you’ve run right up to mealtime and finally you’ll have to change baby’s clothes after the inevitable spit up.

Like Airport Security, there’s no way around this, so just start working it into your schedule.

4) Your Child Is Unique:  Your child will inevitably hit some milestones later or earlier than their peers.  Some talk sooner, others walk sooner, and still others perform differential calculus equations sooner.  However, let’s talk about the milestones that REALLY matter.  I’m talking about the lucky jerks who’s kids somehow start consistently sleeping through the night at 2 months or are potty-trained by the time they can hold their own head up.  If said parents have some tried and true method (within reason) they’re willing to share, give it a shot!  But otherwise, do not base expectations of child-rearing on the experience of others.  Your own child will reach these stages on their own time, so have patience and try to forget that other such children are actually out there somewhere.

(Now, if you have any concerns about perceived developmental delays, please talk to your pediatrician.  Generally such concern is reserved for delays of months not weeks, but frequent communication and regular checkups with your doctor will help identify any true issues early.)

5) You, However, Are Not:  You’re child may be a wonderful snowflake of individuality, but you’re about to turn into a clone of your own parents.

Whether your own parents left you a good or bad example, the important thing is to learn from both their successes and mistakes (as we inevitably make a bunch of our own).  And if you do see a negative pattern repeating itself, remember that it’s never too late to change our behavior or reactions.  As our children grow, we will grow as parents if we allow ourselves to do so.

In Gratitude

I’ve been accused of many things through the years – judgmental tendencies, a scathing wit, an inescapable and incapacitating sexual energy.  I accept these criticisms.  But one accusation that has dogged me of late is that I possess a heart of ingratitude.  This I do not accept.  My naysayers say “Nay.  You treat people with such contempt.  You seem to think everyone else on the planet is beneath you – especially your faithful readers.  You have no appreciation for anyone.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am exceedingly grateful for all of my readers; and every day I thank my lucky stars that there are so many people in this world who are beneath me.

Gratitude is good for the heart and the soul.  Regardless of circumstances, it’s important for each of us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  And it isn’t that difficult to do either.  Whether you’re amazing like me or unamazing like you; there is still so much to be thankful for.  Here are some tips:

Keep a Gratitude Journal.  Every day, write 3 to 5 things in your journal that you are grateful for.  This is the exercise most often prescribed by so-called experts.  I have my reservations about this method.  I agree that for some people this can be an effective tool for staying mindful of all the good things in their lives.  But what about all of you poor saps who don’t have anything good happening in your lives?  Well, in your case, you might want to record 3 to 5 really terrible things that are happening in other people’s lives.  I call this a Something Resembling Gratitude Through Comparison Journal®.  If you do decide to keep a Gratitude Journal, be careful that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  Keep a decoy Gratitude Journal by your bed and the real one in a safe deposit box at a bank downtown.  The last thing you need is for your enemies to know how you are “so thankful for all of the recent advances in erectile dysfunction science.”

Another tool in your arsenal is Gratitude Yoga.  Here we combine the American-bastardization of a Far Eastern pseudo-mystical exercise form with the Hippie-dippy, granola-crunching non-violent nonsense of the power of positive thinking.  If you are into the New Age at all, this is your “Perfect Storm.”  I know I sound very cynical here, but I actually do a variation on Gratitude Yoga quite regularly.  Whenever I’m watching television and a P90X infomercial comes on, I stop for a few minutes to watch, all the while saying, “Thank God I’m not doing that sh**.”

A Google search of “gratitude” revealed something called Gratitude Crystals.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get too far in my research before my internet went down.*  Before my computer connection crapped out, I saw these terms:  Legend of Zelda, Side Quests, and Skyward Sword.  I’m not exactly sure what any of that is; but if forced to conjecture, it sounds like something that happens in New Zealand.  Or maybe something that involves Harry Potter.  Feel free to check it out further on your own.

I’ve also created several products to help you stay grateful.  (Keep an eye out for the upcoming John Tells You How To Live merchandise catalog.)  You know that old expression:  “Keep your friends close and your napkins even closer.”  Well, I’ve taken that principle and created the Gratitude Bib®.  The GB is like one of those lobster bibs you wear when you eat lobster at a lobster restaurant; but instead of a picture of a lobster on the lobster bib, there’s a picture of a family member or other loved one.  Thus, whenever you wear the Gratitude Bib; you can take a moment to remember someone that you are thankful to have in your life.  And you’ll have something to mop up that garlic butter running down your chin.

I have also developed a new service called Gratitexts®.  For a small monthly fee [$229.93 – additional phone and/or text messaging fees may apply.  Check your provider], you will receive a daily barrage of text messages to your phone:  “U were incredible!” “Miss u gurl/dude :(” “B C-ing U L8R?”  You will get no fewer than 800 barely comprehensible messages texted to you each day – giving you the distinct sense that you have friends. And there’s nothing more gratifying than feeling loved and appreciated while not actually having to interact with another human being.

You can also purchase a copy of my Gratitude Scrabble®.  It’s like regular Scrabble; but without those damned Qs, Zs, Xs or Js.  Play now, thank me later.

Ultimately, you want to find what works for you.  Maybe you’ll end up using all of these tools.  Maybe none of them.  Maybe you’ll purchase all of my products.  Maybe just multiple quantities of a single product.  The important thing is that you seek lasting contentment and happiness by staying In Gratitude. 

Also, consider a trip to New Zealand.  I know you’ll be thankful that you did.




*Feel free to add my misfortune to your Something Resembling Gratitude Through Comparison Journal.

My Genius Can No Longer Be Contained To A Single Blog

My Genius Can No Longer Be Contained To A Single Blog

In my efforts to make humanity palatable I’ve contributed a guest post to another blog:  The Polar Bear Periodical.

On this week’s edition of the Polar Bear Periodical, learn how to become a reality show celebrity.

The Stars Tell Me That I’m About To Cash In

In my day-to-day business of telling people how to live, I am often asked if I am psychic.  There are two reasons for this:  One, my acute powers of observation and keen insight into individual lives can easily be misinterpreted as extrasensory; and two, people are stupid.

So I declare here and now – definitively – that I am not a psychic.

It occurs to me, though; that not being psychic hasn’t stopped countless other people from cashing in on this multi-billion-dollar-separating-gullible-people-from-their-money industry.  It’s time for me to get my piece of the pie!  To that end – and without further ado – here is your horoscope for the week beginning. . . whatever day you read this (I’m that good!).

Aries  “The people who plan to fail are those who fail to plan.”  Spouting off trite little aphorisms like that one is the main reason people avoid you in social situations.  And why you’ll never truly be loved.

Taurus  Your moon is rising in Venus this week; which is a lot less dirty than it sounds.  This means a time for embracing adventure and taking risks.  You will quit your job and go into business for yourself; which will end up being a lot more dirty than it sounds.

Jiminy  No matter how poor you are or how little you have, there are always people less fortunate than you.  That said, the more money you fritter away on charitable donations the poorer you become, reducing the number of people less fortunate than you.

Canker  Two things to bear in mind:  1) For the hundredth time, your friends are going to a tapas bar after work, not a topless bar.  2) Regardless of where they end going, you should at all times remain fully clothed.  For once.

Leo  Three minutes into your set, the lighting rig at the Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club will come crashing down onto the stage; cutting short both your stand up career and your legs.

Virgin  Vincent Van Gogh.  Johann Sebastian Bach.  Franz Kafka.  History is replete with examples of men and women who were not appreciated or understood in their own time but whom we now consider geniuses.  In the case of your not being understood, however; we can probably chalk it up to the concussion.

Libra  Too many people let the concerns and worries of this life keep them up at night.  For you it’s the bonus features on the two-disc Blu-ray extended director’s cut of All Dog’s Go To Heaven that keeps you up at night.

Serpico  It’s important to have dreams.  It’s just as important to hold onto those dreams loosely, though.  Some dreams change.  Other dreams fade over time.  Other dreams simply don’t come true – like your dream of not accidentally locking yourself out of the house wearing nothing but a towel just as the members of a home Bible study arrive at your next door neighbor’s house.

Sacagawea  There is definitely love for you in the stars this week, my friend.  Which is too bad since you live down here on Earth.

Capricorn  This is your week to get out there and shine, Capricorn.  The world is yours; don’t let anything stand in your way.  Not the naysayers.  Not negative past experiences.  Not your gross incompetence.

Aquarium  Be ever mindful of your role within your social circle.  For while there is no “I” in team, there is a “you” in “you are under arrest for grand larceny, murder and conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.”

Pisces  Creating twelve of these things is hard….so how about this?  Take the 3rd and 7th words from each of the other horoscopes and rearrange them to create your own damned horoscope, Pisces!

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Self-Help Book for Dummies

Webster’s defines self-help as “the action or process of bettering oneself or overcoming one’s problems without the aid of others.”  In recent decades, the publishing world has been glutted with pseudo-scientific books written to aid people in their misguided pursuit of self-improvement.  The quality of the advice in the vast majority of these books range from dubious to downright harmful.  The authors of these books are money-hungry leeches; while the people who read them are fools who enjoy being separated from there money.  Some look at this situation as a travesty.  I prefer to see it as a perfect storm of opportunity.  Here’s my brief guide to help you write a self-help book and get your piece of the idiot-improvement literature pie:

– Pick a topic.  There are self-help books on the market for almost every topic imaginable – proper care for horses, how to bet on horse races, learning to communicate with your dead pets (like horses).  Keep in mind, the more narrow your topic the smaller the pool of idiots that you will attract to your book. Stick with a topic that is relationship-oriented:  how to show your parents you love them, how to avoid becoming your parents, how to parent like your parents parented.  Don’t worry that you know nothing about this topic.  If your advice seems completely alien to your idiot readers, they will simply chalk it up to their own ignorance.  The problem can’t be you, they’ll reason; after all, you were smart enough to write a book.

– Define everything.  Always start with “Webster’s defines involuntary manslaughter as. . .”  Idiots love to know how Webster’s defines things.  And it adds to your word count.

– Use bullet points.  Bullet points:

  • Make it easy for idiots to follow what you’re saying.
  • Ensure that you only use “sound bite” logic and stay away from complex concepts.
  • Transform a sparse and sickly-looking piece of writing into pithy and precise prose.

– Use simple language.  Intricate or overwrought verbiage offers a challenge to your typical idiot.  The previous sentence is a good example of what not to do.  In order to reach a wider audience, instead of the phrase “intricate and overwrought verbiage” you might elect to write “overly complicated language.”  Or to reach an even wider audience “very, very, very big words.”

– Recommend your other books.  By the end of your book, you should acknowledge that although you have shed some light into their miserable darkness there is still so much you could teach them if only you had more space.  And that’s why you wrote three more books in this series that they should purchase.  Getting them to buy one book you wrote nets you a little money.  Convincing them that your vast knowledge has been spread out over seven books with more to come, keeps the cash flowing.  Remember:  you are a pusher and sketchy advice is your drug. 

That’s all the space I have for today.  If you would like more information on how to write a self-help book, please read my booklet, Copious Amounts of Self Help.  Just send a check for $19.95 (payable to “CASH”) to:  John Tells You How to Live, 3008 Riverside Drive, Suite A, Burbank, CA  91505.

An Open Letter to the Brooks Farms Wheat Company, Makers of Wheat Harvest Honey Wheat Bread (Made With 100% Whole Wheat)

Dear Brooks Farms Wheat Company, makers of Wheat Harvest Honey Wheat Bread (made with 100% whole wheat);

On the back label of your Wheat Harvest Honey Wheat Bread (made with 100% whole wheat), under “Allergy Alert” it states that your product contains wheat.  I am shocked! 

This is unacceptable to the millions of us who have convinced ourselves that we have some sort of gluten allergy.  Please rectify this situation immediately by creating a gluten- and wheat-free version of your Wheat Harvest Honey Wheat Bread (made with 100% whole wheat). 

And then send me a coupon for a free loaf.  Thank you.



Self-Employment in The New Economy

As many of you know, I have long been a proponent of the entrepreneurial spirit.  I say “If you have to work, why not work for yourself?”  You get to set your own hours, you get to (hopefully) work at something that you love to do, and you don’t have to speak into a phone with a fake raspy voice when you want to take time off.

Last week at the gym, a middle-aged man came up to me and asked, “John, with the current tumultuous state of the economy, how can you still advocate that people leave their jobs and start their own businesses?”

My response: “What’s your name?”

Him:  “Gary.”

Me:  “Gary, could you get out of my shower stall?  Or at least, hand me my loofah?”

Gary: “Avoiding the issue.  Typical.  You self-proclaimed experts are all the same.”

Me:  “Fine.  Our current economic situation doesn’t change the fact that people can be successful starting their own businesses; it merely changes the kinds of businesses that people should be starting.”

Him: “OK then, what are the best start-up businesses today?”

Here is the answer I provided while Gary shampooed my hair.

Helping Industries.  In the last fifty years or so, America has shifted from goods-industry-focused to service-industry-focused.  Why?  Basically, Americans are lazy and don’t want to do anything themselves.  They want you to do it for them; and they’re willing to pay you to do it, regardless of whether or not they have to go into debt to pay for it.  Obvious career options for the self-employed are jobs like  housekeeper, nanny or landscaper.  There’s nothing wrong with these jobs. . . if you don’t mind a little bit of hard and thankless work.  And let’s face it, if you didn’t mind hard and thankless work, you’d probably just stay in the job that you’re in currently.  Let’s think outside the box:

Lifecoach – Unlike psychiatry or psychology, you don’t need a degree to be a lifecoach.  Any idiot can be one, provided that he can find someone who’s a bigger idiot and is willing to pay the first idiot (“you”) for his insights.  What you need to get started:  An arrogant sense of your own importance, a general disdain for the majority of humanity, and some vehicle by which you spread your insight and advice – such as a blog.

Psychic – What Lifecoaches are to idiots, Psychics are to crazies.  Here, your “wisdom” does not come from you but from some supposed spirit or force that only you can see and hear, who sees fit to tell you intimate details about other people’s futures but won’t even give you a hint as to next week’s lotto numbers.  Unlike lifecoaches, psychics don’t have to stand by the things they’ve said:  when clients return angry after implementing your terrible advice, you can turn around and blame them for misinterpreting the spirit’s direction.  What you need to get started:  A deck of Tarot cards, a poster board sign with “$20” and the silhouette of a hand on it, and a Theater minor from a now-defunct community college.

Sales.  The career potential is almost limitless for an individual with a strong sales background.  Myriad companies like Avon and Pampered Chef are structured around the “independent contractor” who sells their wares.  Here, you have the opportunity to work for yourself and at the same time have an established inventory and name recognition.  But perhaps you don’t want to sell someone else’s stuff.  Here are a few options for you:

Create a pyramid scheme – Here you use your salesmanship to sell people on the idea of selling salesmanship to other people who then sell salesmanship to others.  With a pyramid scheme, there is a product but the product is irrelevant.  It could be water filters or magazine subscriptions or plastic bracelets that you purchase at the dollar store and tell people they have “balancing energies.”  The real money is made from salespeople recruiting more salespeople.  What you need to get started:  A useless product, a conference room at the airport Holiday Inn, and a fuzzy understanding of the legality of business practices.

Start a cult – A cult is a pyramid scheme without the pretense of selling a product.  You, as cult leader, are the product.  You will need to adopt the persona of a salvific figure – either God incarnate, or God’s supreme messenger, or God’s accountant.  You’ll need to convince crazy idiots (“cridiots”) of your ascendancy and persuade them to give you all of their money for little to nothing of value in return – in other words, you need about six months of sales experience.  What you need to get started (in addition to sales experience):  A compound, a tambourine, and a beard or the ability to grow a beard.

In the interest of brevity, I have provided just a few of the possible career options for the novice entrepreneur (“nontrepreneur”).  For a more exhaustive list along with tips and insights to help you along the way, order my booklet, The Career Autonomy Success Handbook.  Just send a check for $19.95 (payable to “CASH”) to:  John Tells You How to Live, 3008 Riverside Drive, Suite A, Burbank, CA  91505.  Don’t be a cridiot; do it today!