Win Friends and Influence People


I was reading a blog post about how hard it is to make friends after college. It was kind of a sales pitch for his networking program, but the point kind of hit home, that I can certainly count on one hand the amount of legitimate ‘friends’ that I’ve made since college. It just seems more difficult, or we aren’t in the right head-space to make those deeper friendships or something.

So that reminded me of a book I read a couple years ago as part of one of my year-long challenges. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. (He has no relation to Andrew Carnegie the steel king of the late 1800s. Dale was one of the first big sales/self improvement writers. It was written in 1936, but as I read it again as I was preparing for this podcast, and now that I’ve been in the ‘real world’ for 6 years or so, I found that the concepts in it still hold a ton of relevance. I wanted to do a podcast where we discuss a few of the concept and get the other Good Guys opinions on if they see this type of stuff happening. Hopefully we will land on some concrete recommendations and strategies for how to deal with people and come off as a ‘better guy to know’ in both personal and especially professional situations.

Part 1 – Fundamental Techniques in Handling people – These ones are certainly best used in a professional environment. The first principle he talks about is criticism.

“Human nature is to blame everyone but themselves” – You see this all the time in the work place. No one will ever say that they failed because of something they did. There is always something/someone else to blame. Timelines/technology/other teams, etc.

Because of this premise – Carnegie argues that criticisms is totally futile. It hurts people’s pride, makes them feel unimportant, etc. He gives a BUNCH of anecdotal examples of famous successful people like Abraham Lincoln that wrote that they never criticize anyone. I’ll just share one about Mark Twain:

“He wrote to an editor about a proofreader’s attempts to ‘Improve my spelling and punctuation.’ He ordered: “Set the matter according to my copy hereafter and see that the proofreader retains his suggestions in the mush of his decayed brain’ The writing of these stinging letters made Mark Twain feel better. They allowed him to blow off steam, and the letters didn’t do any real harm, because Mark Twain’s wife secretly lifted them out of the mail. They were never sent”

So here’s where I want to interject a practical thing we can do in today’s world – writing emails. You’ve heard this before and it admittedly sounds kind of dumb, but I’ve certainly done a version of this in my professional life. We are usually so quick to respond and email instantly, that we no longer get that thoughtfulness that letter writing and mailing used to, and so we are very susceptible to knee-jerk reactions. So the next time you write an email that you really want to lay into someone with. Don’t hold back, go nuts on your first version. Wallow in your smugness, and then compose a better version that dials the criticism way back.

As a follow-on tip that I just have from my own experience, if you are communicating criticism, because something needs to change, don’t call the person out directly. Use a lot of ‘we’ and ‘it’ instead of ‘you.’ Because, again, humans are great at rationalizing things so that they don’t blame themselves. As Carnegie says, rather than criticize people, try to figure out why they are the way they are.

The other principle I think is valuable in this first section is that the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.

That pairs nicely with the following observation; “The only way anyone does anything, is if they WANT to do it.” It sounds almost pessimistic, but if you need to get someone to do something for you, you need to always keep this in mind, and frame everything you do with the premise that people are always thinking: “what’s in it for me?”

Part 2 – Ways to make people like you – These are great in any situation and honestly I’m going to start making a way more concerted effort on all of these. I’m going to re-order these from the way Carnegie lays them out, to make it a little bit more like an average introduction at a cocktail party or something:

  • Step 1 – SMILE. This is a physiological life-hack. Carnegie inkled it back in in the 1930s, but since then, there have been study after study about the effects of certain kinds of smiling. It makes others comfortable with you, and even may change your own neural pathways into making you happier. It comes through over the phone, etc. It’s gotta be a real smile, though. This is a huge rabbit hole that might be worth doing a whole podcast on, but for now, challenge yourself to smile more. Especially when you greet the people you see every day, and when you meet a stranger.
  • Step 2 – Names are of utmost importance! Think back to our fundamentals where we said that the most fundamental desire for humans is to feel important. What better way to have that manifest in that people remember your name? This is a really hard thing for me to do and I want to get better at it – and I’m going to give some techniques here in a second. But keep this quote from Carnegie in mind: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Formula to remember someone’s name:

  1. Know that the most common reason for forgetting someone’s name is because you’re not really listening. Usually this is from nerves about the impression you’re making. So you need to deliberately give your full attention and focus on THEM not yourself.
  2. Ask for the name again if you didn’t hear it correctly. I do this all the time, where I just nod and then 2 seconds later realize that I didn’t hear it right. Apologize and say you didn’t catch that. If it’s a weird name like Perek, ask if you’re saying it right, and if it’s REALLY weird, ask how they spell it or where it came from so you can burn it into your brain. I’ve never done this but it sounds legit.
  3. Use repetition in the ensuing conversation. So if I was just introduced to Perek at a party, I would say stuff like “Nice to meet you, Perek” and “So Perek, how long have you known the host of this party,” or “So Perek, what are you drinking and where can I get me some?” Make it a game to use the person’s name 3 times before you move on.
  4. Make associations to other people. Create a mental picture of the new person standing beside someone you already know well with a similar name. I’m skeptical of this one…
  5. Associate the person with an object or animal. Like “Perek-Penguin”
  6. Study the person’s face or other distinctive features that could help you remember later on. Like “Geo with the lazy-eye”
  7. Get a wing-man
  8. Write it down. If it’s a really important business contact or something you want to be sure to remember, write it down when you have the chance, along with any associations you made.

If all else fails, just ask again and move on. Be sure to do the other steps this time or else!

  • Step 3 –

Become genuinely interested in other people. There is tons of stuff that goes along with this, but the main thing is that virtually all people like talking about themselves so if you can get them talking about themselves, they will love you.

Resist the urge to ‘one-up.’ We all know this guy so I don’t think we really need to talk about him, just don’t be this guy.

You also need to be actually genuinely interested in them, so I think it’s a good idea to have some topics you can ask about that this is natural for. For me, my go-to thing to ask about tends to drift towards business/economics. So if I’m talking to a stylist that works at a salon, I ask about her ratio of walk-ins to regular appointments. What ratio is best, would she like to have all appointments and no walk-ins? What is a good tip to give your stylist etc. If you ramp that up to a lawyers, I’m fascinated on how they decide what a ‘billable hour’ is and how many of their actual hours make up one billable hour etc.

Another good one is asking them about their most recent vacation or trip. (Be very cautious here to not one-up) Just ask about what they experienced that they didn’t expect, would they go back, etc. And be genuinely interested. Even if you have been to the place they went, just mention it in passing and get it back on their experience. Remember, we are always trying to make THEM feel important.

So we’ll call it there. That takes care of the first 2 sections of Carnegie’s book. The next sections deal with persuading someone to your point of view, and being a good leader. Would highly recommend giving the book a read, as it will definitely make you a good guy to know.

Net Neutrality


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I have to be honest here – I had heard the term Net Neutrality a million times, but never really stopped to figure out what it was.  Seeing something so frequently on Twitter and hearing stories on the news constantly will occasionally turn me off of a subject.  Such was the case with Net Neutrality.  It didn’t help that the subject is clearly a giant political issue.  But, alas, for the good of myself and the Podcast, I decided I needed to decode things a bit and clarify what is happening out there that is stirring up so much emotion.

The history is broad and a lot of it is entrenched in legal battles and behind the scenes activity.  In this podcast, I grab out some of the points and topics that most interested me, and that I thought the average listener might be interested in.  This is by no means a full history, or a presentation of a solution.  I hope listeners will come away either a small satisfaction for knowing a little bit more about Net Neutrality, or a passion to dig deeper themselves to try to find their answer.

As always, thanks for listening.

Interview with StyleGirlfriend


How many times have you gone through your closet before work wondering how this random assortment of clothes is supposed to be assembled into something that resembles an outfit? How awesome would it be if you had a girlfriend (or a friend who is a girl) to give you just a little bit of advice to bring out your inner style? Well loyal listeners, look no further! On this episode of the podcast we interview Megan Collins from about not just what you should be wearing, but about what it means to have your own style. Following suit, we get started on a new challenge where for the next two weeks, we are not allowed to wear jeans! Join in on the fun and thanks for listening!



Recreational Marijuana


Recreational Marijuana

In November, 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize use of recreational marijuana in their general elections.  In Washington, Initiative 502 was supported by 55% of voters, and in Colorado, amendment 64 got 53% of the vote.  These landmark pieces of legislation flew in the face of federal laws that continued to ban the use of even medical marijuana.  A Rolling Stone article published in April of 2012 reported that the Obama administration, had undertaken over 170 “SWAT-style raids in 9 medical marijuana states resulting in at least 61 federal indictments.”  Given the federal government’s continued stance against the legalization of marijuana, the votes put Washington and Colorado in a precarious position.  Leaders in both states got to work outlining practices which would allow their constituents to follow the newly-minted laws without getting into trouble with the federal government.

Since that time, the president has taken a few steps into the spotlight on the issue, spurred largely by ever-increasing popular support for legalization of marijuana.  In a January 2014 interview with The New Yorker, Obama stated “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”  He also described concerns that arrests for marijuana use were disproportionately heaped on individuals of lower socioeconomic status.  Of course, Obama made no outright claim that the feds would turn a blind eye to marijuana any time soon, but his message was clear – that he was motivated to stay out of the way of state legalization pushes and to concentrate federal efforts elsewhere.

So, what was in the two legislation landmarks that passed back in 2012, and why was there such a big buzz about them only recently?

Washington’s Initiative 502:

– No more arrests for adults age 21 and older for possessing limited (1 oz of useable MJ, 16 oz of MJ-infused product in solid form, 72 oz of MJ-infused product in liquid form) amounts of marijuana

– Cannot grow marijuana at home unless you are an authorized medical marijuana patient

– Retail outlets allowed to sell marijuana after rulemaking deadline of 12/1/2013 for WA state liquor control board, dept of agriculture, and dept of health

– Cannot use marijuana in public (fine, but not arrest)

– Standard for marijuana impairment while driving (5 ng/ml)

– Marijuana sales taxed at 25%

Colorado’s Amendment 64:

– Adults 21 and older can possess up to 1 oz of useable marijuana

– Adults 21 and older can grow their own marijuana (up to 6 plants, only 3 mature, can give marijuana away to other adults over 21 but cannot sell)

– Illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana (5 ng/ml)

– Marijuana sales will be taxed at a maximum of 15%

What changes have we seen so far?

In Washington, stores selling marijuana are expected to start springing up over the next few months.  As such, tax information is not yet available, but state patrol records of DUIs since the legalization of recreational marijuana use are available.  They show an interesting picture.  This table is pulled from More Pot, Safer Roads published in Forbes on 4/3/14:

In Colorado, marijuana sales are expected to $1B in the next year, with recreational sales estimated at about $610M.  The newest budget numbers suggest that the state will collect $100M per year in taxes on the sales.  Colorado plans to spend the first $40M it collects on school construction around the state.  Following that, $45.5M is slated for youth use prevention, $12.4M for public health, and a number of other measures, including $2.2M for “oral fluid devices” used to test THC levels in saliva.

Only time will tell how all of this shakes out, but WA and CO are paving the way as the rest of the country (and the world) watches from the sidelines.

Pregnancy Etiquette



Mitch’s Top 5 pregnancy tips for Good Guys and Gals –

  1. Don’t be the first to bring up pregnancy. It seems like a very benign and happy thing to ask about. We’re all getting to that age, a bunch of friends are have gotten married in the past few years, we are coming into our own career-wise etc. So it seems like a natural, life question to ask a couple. Here’s the thing; it’s not always easy to get pregnant. 50% after 4-5 months, 70% after 9 months, 85% after a year.
    So this tends to be one of the most important and thought out decisions in a couples’ life, and the actual tactics pretty much take place in secret because it is not EASY to get pregnant. Based on those stats, the majority of couples are trying deliberately for 5 months or more before it happens. This takes a big time psychological toll on the couple; it sure did on us.
    So now put yourself back in that conversational situation again where you ask a happy couple – ‘So, you’ve been married a year now, when you gonna take the next step and have kids?’ There are only a few options of how it plays out:

    1. They have thought long and hard about it, and are not actively trying, so they say so. This is probably the best case scenario, but you still might be risking them being a little offended that you think they ‘should’ be starting a family.
    2. They have thought long and hard about it, and ARE actively trying. This means they’ve probably had at least a few months of realization that it’s not going to be automatic. This pretty much forces them to lie to you because they won’t want you following up in 5 months. (we had to do this a lot)
    3. They are actually pregnant but haven’t started telling people, in which case, they have to lie to you anyway.


  2. Don’t try to ‘out’ someone. Once someone is actually pregnant, it’s pretty standard practice to wait until they get through the first trimester, because once through the first trimester, that’s when the likelihood of a miscarriage is much lower. Some people have a sick fascination with being ‘in-the-know’ and so they feel compelled to confront women about it. There is some weird human condition where we relish being ‘in the know.’ RESIST!
  3. Don’t call people out for not drinking. This one doesn’t even have to apply to pregnancy, but is particularly acute in that case. I think I might even have been guilty of this in the past, and it’s some insecure, shameful thing that people do that must be a hold-over from college days or something. Someone turns down a drink or a shot, and we say “Awe – come on, ya woos!” Or the girl version might be, “oooo, is someone pregnant?” As a rule, just be on the safe side and don’t bring it up. Go ahead and silently make a note to yourself and you can congratulate yourself later if you’re actually right, but in the moment, don’t call it out.
  4. If you are lucky enough to get pregnant and it’s relatively easy, being happy and excited is great. Boasting about how easy it was for you is not. I don’t even think it feels like boasting to the couple themselves, they are just happy, but you’d be surprised how that comes off to someone that has been trying very hard for many months. After seeing the stats, I actually see that we were probably right smack dab in the middle of the average at 5 or so months of trying, but boy, during those months, it sure felt like there was something wrong with us, and hearing about how easy it was for some people was really tough even though it wasn’t meant to be that way at all. So just be VERY careful in talking about it with peers, and again, if you’re socially awkward like me, just never be the first to bring it up.
  5. You hear this one all the time, but if a woman is pregnant, do not under any circumstances, comment on her size. It seems like such a no-brainer but when you see your friends that are women, and they are happy and excited to be moms, there’s something (at least in my head) that tries to tell you ‘it’s ok to tell her she looks huge’ She knows it, and what it represents. Your go-to ice-breaker about the pregnancy should always just be ‘how do you feel?’ Then let the mom drive where she wants to go with the conversation. I learned this the hard way.

Agree with me? Disagree? Horror stories? Leave a comment with other things to keep in mind, or any advice for a nervous father to be!


Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey


Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a 13-part television series with a purpose to introduce science as an engaging and entertaining topic. It is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and produced by Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan,who is renowned scientist Carl Sagan’s widow.

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Carl Sagan was the original host of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 1980 television show that covered a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. The 1980 original was the most widely watched series in the history of American Public Television until 1990 when it was surpassed by “The Civil War(1990).” The original Cosmos has been seen by over 500 million people in more than 60 countries.

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey recently premiered on March 9th, 2014 with the first episode titled “Standing Up  in the Milky Way.” The first episode features a tour of the solar system and the known universe before sharing the birth of Renaissance Italian Giordano Bruno’s vision of the universe as a limitless expanse of space and time. It then makes an exploration into the Cosmic Calendar, which dates back to the dawn of the Big Bang.  The episode appropriately ends with deGrasse Tyson narrating how he met his mentor Carl Sagan, the host of the original Cosmos series. And just to add a little more bang to this already star-studded affair, the first episode was introduced by none other than President Barack Obama.

Family Guy fans are quick to ask, why is Seth MacFarlane producing a science series? The truth is that MacFarlane has been a huge fan of Cosmos since the beginning. He has truly been an integral part of the team and has been a strong advocate for the series since the idea to remake the show was spawned in 2008 following an introduction the Druyan. As child, MacFarlane loved Sagan’s show.  MacFarlane sees both series as a gap between the academic community and the general public. MacFarlane also believes that “the universe is hilarious! Like, Venus is 900 degrees. I could tell you it melts lead. But that’s not as fun as saying, ‘You can cook a pizza on the windowsill in 9 seconds.’ And next time my fans eat pizza, they’re thinking of Venus!”

When recently interviewed about the show, deGrasse Tyson stated that “the goal is to convey why science matters to the person, to our society, to us as shepherds of this planet. It involves presenting science in ways that connect to you, so Cosmos can influence you not only intellectually but emotionally, with a celebration of wonder and awe,” says Tyson. “Science should be part of everybody’s life. The prerequisite is not that you become a scientist. It’s that at the end of the series, you will embrace science and recognize its role in who and what you are.”

The new Cosmos draws inspiration, and even some content, from the original series but also takes advantage of newer scientific concepts and major advances in production quality to combine rigorous scientific skepticism  with a sense of romance in the cosmos. Drawing from the original Cosmos, the new production brings back the Cosmic Calendar, which tries to put the unfathomable 13.8-billion-year history of the universe in the context of a year, with all of recorded history taking up just the last 14 seconds of Dec. 31. It is facts like these that highlight the unfathomable majesty of Cosmos.

If you missed the first episode, it can be viewed online at

(Episodes will air weekly on Fox, followed by a repeat broadcast with bonus material Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic.)





This week’s challenge:

Go to the following link and solve the puzzle in as few moves as possible.  Post your score on our Facebook page!

Tower of Hanoi