My nephew, Ben, is graduating from high school this spring. He has requested that I come to the event and, as he puts it, “make a scene.”
Of course, I am only to happy to oblige.
Ben has great parents who have sacrificed mightily to give both of their kids the best chance for success in life. But Ben needs something that his parents are just not able to provide.
You see, Ben suffers from the attention-getting bug. He likes it when people notice him, look at him, and laugh at him (or with him, it really doesn’t matter).
Given that I am afflicted with this same disease, he knows that he can count on me to whoop and holler, and run around naked if I have to, when his name is called to bring some notoriety to the boy.
This job, as I told him, comes with a price. He must humor this aging dad and give me five minutes to share some advice from a fellow attention addict.
Here is what I told him…and you.
1. It’s never enough
You are never “all set.” The applause, laughter, and appreciation from a customer or audience dies in seconds. Your desire to re-capture that feeling can drive you to excellence, drive you crazy, or at worst, drive you to drugs and alcohol. You get to choose.
2. Trust your gut
Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows you as well as you do. Many people will give you ideas but YOU get the final say. You are way smarter than you think you are about what is right for you.
3. Make decisions
Even the wrong decision is better than no decision. People who are quick to make decisions are trusted, they are looked up to, they are people to be taken seriously. It is what leaders do. It is what successful people do.
4. Have two jokes always at the ready
When with a group of people, there is always a lull in the conversation. Secretly everyone is hoping that someone breaks the ice. Be prepared with a couple of jokes in your pocket that are relevant, and you will get the chicks.
5. Learn to say, “Hello, how are you?” in at least five languages
People love it when you speak their native language and a side benefit is that they will want to introduce you to their culture with food. It is a great way to get free food.
6. Embrace failure
Everyone fails. The ones who do it more succeed bigger in the end. Proudly proclaim to the world how badly you failed. Something strange will happen; you’ll get more opportunities. Embracing failure shows confidence. Chicks dig that too.
7. Commit good stories to memory
Make them self-deprecating. Make fun of yourself and your family, never anyone else. Practice the stories alone before you use them out in public. This should be easy. I know your family, you have some good ones!
8. Play the harmonica
It is one of those instruments that sounds impressive, but it is pretty easy to learn. Great for weddings and bar mitzvas if you can join in with the band.
9. Make up different words to songs
There is stiff competition when it comes to singing. But if you change the words and make them funny, you will get a lot of leeway from the audience.
Finally, Ben, say YES. More often than not, your choice in life will come down to saying yes or no.
Here’s the tip: Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I fail?” If it is legal, if you think it would be a good story, if death is not involved…say “YES!”
Uncle The Deej