Social Media, Internet Marketing, Referral Marketing – oh my….

I get email promotions every day about how to be successful in the launching of my new business.  Most of these communications seem designed to leverage fear, uncertainty and doubt.  They are particularly aimed at baby boomers, employing the concept that we are too out of touch with today’s reality (read: stupid) to be able to come up with our own social media and internet marketing strategies. And honestly, until recently the only thing that I could do with SEO (Search Engine Optimization, the major enabler for Internet Marketing other than newsletters) is spell it correctly (admittedly sometimes a feat unto itself) but all that has changed…

Most boomers were taught to read when they went to school. I realize that today many question if that is still the case.  We were also taught to do research in Libraries, using the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and a Card Catalogue.  When it came time to turn in term papers, we used manual typewriters and white out.  If were able to figure all that out with very little help from adults who raised us without sharing that they loved us “just the way we are” but having no compunctions admonishing that “we must be seen and not heard”, then surely we can figure out Facebook, Search Engine Optimization and how it fits in with what we were raised on which was Referral Marketing.

Readers of this blog know that I am all about authentic “empirical learning”.  One thing that I have learned and both Presidential candidates are re-learning, is do not give off the cuff remarks to anyone. Someone will see them and forward it on, re-tweet it, re-blog it, post it…and in the process, distort the original intent beyond belief. We learned this concept via the game of “telephone tag” and with the advent and prolific use of the Internet, it just becomes that much easier.

An example is an earlier blog entry in which I talked about the death of a great aunt and named her. As a result, two of the relatives of the person who took her life came out of the woodwork to process their own budding awareness of the event which occurred so long ago. This was unexpected, possibly bad but probably actually good, and most definitely, unintended. Key lesson to be learned: when writing blog entries it is best to stay on track with your message.

In reviewing the statistics on my nascent web site and blog, I see very little traffic. However it has led to business and referrals. Why? Because the people that have  visited were looking at the site because I, or someone that knows me, sent them there based on a conversation. It has, therefore, fulfilled my desire to describe who I am to others.  This effort of just getting a domain name along with the process of beginning to craft and share a message has been valuable to the few who have seen it. Yet in looking at the site stats, I came to two conclusions: 1.) I need a more effective SEO strategy, and 2.) I need  a Social media strategy that gets people to my site from Facebook and other social media sites.

There are numerous consultants out there that will charge $500 or more to put up a Facebook page, or you can buy a Facebook Marketing for Dummies Book for about $25 and start to play with it yourself. As in anything else in life, it is either time or money, a day of your time and a few dollars or paying someone else for their “expertise.” The question you should be asking is what you are going to do to the site tomorrow.  The net – net, as a work colleague of mine once said, is consistency. Interesting content to your target audience pushed out on a relatively constant schedule. Many sites that I have reviewed that people paid good money to have built unfortunately had no consistency and were not very interesting.

So, in order to build consistency, you need content. Even the most prolific of us sometimes simply have nothing to say. In such times (as often as they may occur), leveraging existing content that is consistent with your websites theme is a useful tactic. Repurposing of content, adding your own insight and perspective, can help get the message out to a broader readership base and is one of the main principles behind the staggering effectiveness of communication via the Internet today.  How do you find something to re-post or post? I use two tools, Google alerts and Stumbleupon (an iPad app – also a website).  I use both tools for key-worded items like “Encore Entrepreneurs”, “Pittsburgh Technology”, etc. for my alerts. I use topics like “Business”, “Computers”, and “Spirituality” from Stumbleupon.  I spend less than thirty minutes a day reviewing these alert emails. If I miss a day, I delete the alerts and move on. However the e-mails in my corporate Gmail account remind me to review what I might otherwise dismiss or forget. This can be very beneficial on the days that “life” happens and things just seem to get away from you. Another helpful tip is to use a separate email address to subscribe to the alerts to keep my primary business address cleaner.

This is also an effective way to understand some of what is interesting to your target market. Try sending out the content and see where it goes. If something gets “likes” and is reposted, it must have resonated. If not, then either no one is seeing it or it was simply not very interesting.  When I taught executives how to use a personal commuter in the 1980’s they were afraid to touch it, my children however mastered it in days when it was introduced to our home.  To learn new techniques as adults, we have to become like little children and play. Don’t be afraid to try something new or look stupid. You will learn from the process and be able to share how much smarter you are for the journey.

Once you have created a Facebook Page for your business, and made it public, that page gets picked up by search engines.  Perhaps you found this blog entry from my onCOREventures Facebook page. We will go deeper into Facebook strategy creation in a later post. I will deal with next step, Search Engine Optimization, in my next blog entry.

Thinking from the End

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when creating a start-up it is important to ask – what is my exit strategy?  Why?  Because without an exit strategy it is easy to never build value into your business venture.  Many people running small businesses complain that they wake up in the morning realizing that they are working for a tyrant – themselves.

Having an exit strategy allows the small business owner to always be aware of the value of his or her business.  It turns the business into an asset – making it possible to sell the business in the future.  This is especially true for Encore Entrepreneurs – who will want to sell their business when they finally are ready for the fourth stage of life – probably in their eighties as they finally “kick back” and relax and reprocess their long and fulfilling life as they prepare for their final transition.  Without this exit strategy planned into their business planning from the start – a late life business owner could really feel trapped in their business and regret their decision to start it as they toil day after day.

At onCOREventures in our Authentic Launch Process we validate business approaches at the first step of planning them. We work with our cleints to build in the exit from the beginning.  To do this, our Validation phase starts with Backroom Management Services “8 P’s” process in which we look at Purpose, Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Production, People and Profit. We then look at the underlying product assumptions and they are expanded into a fully operating company model including the definition of an exit plan for the business – how is value built with this venture launch?

We build this model from the assumptions on how the business will operate BEFORE we create all of the detailed business plans, launch plans and product creation steps.  Having this baseline look at how the business will function in terms that new business owners can understand allows us to alway come back to this baseline as we learn more and more about the business as we continue with the validation phase of our program.

However you decide to launch your afternoon of life business – make sure you know how you are getting out of it.  For a complimentary call to review your business ideas please contact me.

 

Masculine and Feminine Energy in Start-ups

I have taken the last four weeks off from the blog world of our site.  Sometimes life just happens. Recently, launching my networking efforts, the old fashioned, real world ones, has been the focus. During this process, I stumbled upon a spiritual blog which prompted an interesting realization.

I have often gone off the deep end trying to understand the Jungian concepts of the masculine and feminine within each of us. This particular rabbit-hole quickly leads to “mental masturbation” or “thinking about thinking.”   Like most people in the second half of life; balance is of critical importance to me.  The blog linked to above talks about the concept of balance when applied to the different gender forces that influence our behaviors and capabilities as complete human beings. Related back to my current focus, this resonates to me as learning to leverage the feminine energy of creation along with the masculine energy of outreach into a balanced dance of driven and guided innovation.

I work with my start-up clients in a three phase process; Vision, Validate and Venture Launch.  The Vision stage is very much feminine energy; it’s all creation, all the time. It quickly becomes easy to feel somewhat out of balance, because in this phase we are not doing anything outside our small circle of friends and advisors.

In the Validation phase, much of the work is still inward focused and feminine with just a smidge of masculine energy added in the form of risk based outward thinking to allow for figuring out how to let the creation manifest in the form of a potentially viable business.

The final stage, Venture Launch tends to draw almost exclusively on masculine energy, if we are not careful to remember the concept of balance. We must be consistent in looking for the advantages and avoiding the potential pitfalls of either too much or not enough of either masculine or feminine energy. In my own case, I began to fall out of balance with all of the networking I have been doing. I left myself no time left for creation.  When I read that blog entry last week, I began to schedule some time to get the “fun” creative tasks back into my life; things like writing this blog and beginning to define new programs to be launched in the fall.

I first learned about the idea of interior masculine and feminine energy influences Dr. Chuck Gallagher who was working with Marriage Encounter at the time. He described living while relying solely upon masculine energy or feminine energy as being akin to flying a jet airplane with only one engine. It requires a great deal of work to keep the plane headed in a straight and balanced direction. That was over twenty five years ago and finally, I feel like I have figured out what that means and how to implement balancing masculine and feminine energy in my daily life.

The good news here is that for people in the second half of life that “have to” work at authenticity and balance, it is relatively easy to do within the context of launching the life you were born to live – AT LAST.  The idea is to balance your creative efforts with your business efforts, thereby increasing and enhancing the output of both. Isn’t that why creatives want to launch a late life business in the first place?

 

Massage and Meditation

Yesterday was July 4th. It was a little over one year ago that I had my first massage at a spa. Now, I am no expert on the subject, having lived over sixty years before even experiencing my first treatment, but I can tell you that the experience transformed me. In terms of healing and wellness, the power of touch is nothing short of absolutely amazing. My spa experience last year was the warm up to a Chopra Center “Journey into Healing” retreat at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville N.C. The back to back experiences of the massage and teachings left me altered and renewed at a DNA level. It started my own journey from being “worried well” into true wellness. I have since come to believe that one simply cannot successfully launch a third stage of life venture unless our core body is healthy and well.

Recently I’ve been reading “With Purpose – Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life” by Ken Dychtwald and Daniel J. Kadlec, in which the authors coin the term “middlescence”.  They write that until the early part of the last century there was no term for the period of adolescence, noting that G. Stanley Hall invented the concept. This is correct, yet they failed to acknowledge that Mr. Hall went on to write, in 1923 “Senescence in the second half of Life” which describes exactly what Dychtwald and Kadlec are referring to as this new phase of “middlescence”.  In fact Mr. Hall wrote the senescence book as his middlescence (or Life 3.0 as we call it) effort. So the three authors agree and, in the case of both Dr Dychtwald and Mr. Hall, dedicated their lives to understanding this late life phenomenon of needing purpose in the evening of life in order to feel truly fulfilled.

I do not profess to be inventing anything at this phase of my life. For me, that time is now past. While I share a patent for a technology product in my history, I am, quintessentially, the guy who figures out what new “stuff” is good for. So, true to form, I now ask what do we do with the knowledge we have gained.  Likewise, coaches will often ask clients a variation on the theme of “what would your life be like if it was true for you that the last thirty years of your life would be driven by your passion, gifts and purpose in a unique way that you now have the time, ego, and understanding to access?

Before he died in 1924, G. Stanley Hall, who lived in a Newtonian mechanical world, said “The man of the future may, and even must, do things impossible in the past and acquire new motor variations not given by heredity.”  In the areas of health and wellness, more than half of what we have learned has been discovered in the last five years. That knowledge is still growing and in a few years no doubt more than half of what we know then will have been discovered after I wrote this blog. A good example of such learning is the recent idea that fully half of what we used to chalk up to “hereditary characteristics” is in fact social programming of our subconscious by our parents in the first few years of life and that  it can be re-programmed. In consequence, I believe the biggest “motor variation” we must strive for is a way of accomplishing this re-programing of the subconscious mind to be more in tune and aligned with our core values and selves.

To effect this mental shift, we “lay” practitioners do not necessarily need to invent anything new, we instead must practice the gift of discernment. What is the knowledge level and currency of your “official” practitioner? Is he or she a life-long learner? Many physicians were trained in a Newtonian model to believe that the body is a mechanical structure.  As we know now, such is not the case. Our bodies can be much more accurately perceived as holographic quantum beings, enjoying virtually unlimited potential and the capacity to constantly recreating itself. What we must now accept is that our minds and bodies are inextricably linked. Our wellness, in the mind, body and soul, is dependent upon our core physical body being in harmony with its surroundings. In essence, our body is linked to our way of thinking and being. Put simply, our thoughts become reality. We have seen this in many areas of our modern world, from studies that seek to unravel the power of prayer, in movements touting the limitless capability of positive thinking, and in our fascination with the concepts of empowered, motivated leadership in the business world.

Over the coming weeks and months we will explore how to move from being worried well to wellness. For today, I am going to pass on the two concepts that I took away from the Grove Park Inn. Massage and Meditation.

Yesterday I was catching up on my research into Spiritually and Health and found a DVD on how couples and families can massage one another (our monthly spa trips are simply not enough). I have already shared links on how to get started in meditation but I realize there are skeptics out there. For those of you that are interested, and those of you that are skeptical, don’t take just my opinion. Here is a link to the website for transcendentalist meditation which links other sites proving the benefits you will experience by incorporating meditation in your life.

Mickey Mantle commented shortly before he died at the age of 63 that if he knew he would have lived this long he would have taken better care of himself.  For many people approaching this age, we have new knowledge that can be applied to our way of living in order to bring about healing and rejuvenation.  Many of these techniques and dietary changes take a long time to implement.  I have been working at diet and exercise regularly for the last 23 years since I healed myself from a serious illness using techniques that I learned from an early mind body physician – Dr. Bernie Siegel. This experience has led me to an ever increasing understanding of the mind body connection. The progress of the first several decades of daily exercise and an evolving way of eating expanded exponentially, making a quantum leap, when I began regular meditation and became aware of the healing power of touch.

Earlier this week, I took my ‘young in mind’ – but – ‘old in body’ mother-in-law to a doctor apt. When she was told that she would have to endure yet another procedure, she looked at me and asked if my wife (her daughter) would be available to go with her because the touch of my wife’s strong, bony fingers on her wrinkled and aged hand brings her comfort and energy. This exchange left me thinking that we must not reserve that touch and energy only for times of stress or wait until we are too old in body to try to start truly living the lives we were born to lead. If we are going to live till 90 we must decide what this life will look like. Will we be dependent on oxygen machines or wheelchairs, or will we be living active vital lives.  Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal, and someone once told me that there are no guarantees on a birth certificate. It is far too easy to underestimate the power we hold inside ourselves and the ability we have to share it, comforting and healing each other and ourselves.

Generation 13

No, this is not about the next series on the “House” genre…

In the book “Generations, The History of America’s future 1584 to 2069” published back in 1991, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make a compelling case that the “Boomer” generation really only goes through 1960 and actually started in 1943. They contend that people born after that year comprise a different generation which extends from 1961 to 1981.  When I first heard of this, I was unsure that I agreed with them, probably according to conventional wisdom, because my spouse, born at the end of the baby boomer “traditional segment”, is in the same generation as myself. Accepting this new classification places me squarely in the “older generation.” Something my spouse has probably long suspected…  However, the more that I think about it, the more I tend to agree. This “thirteenth generation” to come around since the English speaking settlement of North America is markedly different from the boomers.

Boomers are idealists, while Generation 13 is reactive. I have intuitively known this since the early 70’s when first looking back at 1968 through the lens of Kent State and Watergate. For boomers, 1968 was a defining year.  Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, along with Robert Kennedy.  Riots took place in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.  The year began with the Tet offensive, along with Apollo coming back from the orbit of the Moon, bringing color photographs of the Earth from Space. I remember thinking that we looked so small.  For many of us, this was the beginning of the end of our idealism. Granted, many such death blows would be dealt in the years to come, but perhaps none so powerful as this humbling reminder of our fragility and ultimate inconsequentiality.

Pop music went FM in 1968. In Pittsburgh Jim Quinn played bubble Gum music (who can forget Sugar, Sugar – no matter how hard we might try). The AM station KQV targeted an ever younger micro-bopper music set while over on the FM side acid rock was being played to boomers so that we could escape Nixon, the “Peace” candidate.  We realized that if Nixon was the best chance for a peace candidate, we are all hosed.  I remember driving back to CMU from St. Margaret’s Nursing School and reading the billboard “This time vote as if your whole world depended on it.” Seriously?

In retrospect, I have always known (but not always understood) that people born in 1961 and later were reacting to our outrageous behaviors, reacting against feminism, reacting against protesting the war (funny now that I joined that reaction when my lottery number came out as 301). As the new generation grew and matured, they reacted to our sexual excess; though this potentially was more of a reaction to the worldwide outbreak of the nightmare of Aids as they entered their twenties and thirties.

So if you are in generation 13 and still reacting, ponder this: How will you cope with the state of the world as you enter your fifties and plan for the future? How is that economy working out for you? Does the US and European Sovereign Debt figure bring you much comfort?  I’ve often thought the boomers put their head in the sand in the eighties…it’s time to retract our ostrich ways and allow the sun to shine on issues we’ve successfully ignored for decades now. Boomers born before the Berlin wall went up, before the Cuban Missile Crisis, before JFK was executed might be just barely able to hang on by their fingernails, retiring in a semblance of the way of the “greatest generation”, but I would not bet on it.

If you are in Generation 13 (as two of my children along with my spouse are) and are still dreaming of a traditional secure retirement, heed the words I often heard as a child and “forget about it!”  One of the best lines in television, from the HBO miniseries on the 101st Airborne division, “Accept the fact that you are already dead, then every day is a gift.” Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal.  For those of us that are in Generation 13 (and I apparently married into that generation for better or worse) we need plan B.

The careers we selected in our youth either no longer fit or simply do not exist.  The dream of the “good life” in retirement is gone.  When (not if) the sovereign debt bubble bursts, there will be no more pensions, no more iced drinks on yachts, no more processions of white shorts and  pastel polo shirts in an endless sea of green golf courses. Forget Greece or Spain…is California too big to fail? But all of this doom and gloom is not to say that we cannot create a new concept of the “good life.” In fact, that is exactly what we must do. This choice, to redefine who we are, what we stand for, how we want to live, is our birthright.

Soon we will not be able to exist in the same way that we are living today. What exactly are we going to be dong to support ourselves? It does not matter who wins this year in the election…our nation is broke. If the government couldn’t simply invent paper that has supposed value, we would be declared instantly insolvent. We need to figure out how we want to live in the post industrial world, who we want to be living with, how we spiritually ground ourselves and how to become as healthy as possible…if we hope to survive.

Gratitude

The saying goes that all things come in three’s. Whether these occurrences are good or bad is a matter of perspective but we seem to notice the pattern more often in “bad-times.” A few days ago I learned that a former colleague’s wife suddenly died at work last week. Next I heard that another former colleague was seriously ill and might not make it through her difficult battle with a rare form of cancer. Finally a classmate of my wife’ had a stroke.  All of these people were in their prime, and with my focus on how to live well till 100, I am feeling grateful that, in large part due to my spouse, I am still around to be pontificating on these matters.  I am also feeling pain and loss for all of the family members and friends affected by these unexpected and tragic events. Finding gratitude in these times can be difficult.

I am especially grateful for my spouse’s constant study of food.  She has been researching diets and exercise for as long I have known her.  Recently I ran into someone who knew me from before my current marriage who claimed they barely recognized me because I was in so much better shape.  My adult children laugh, to themselves until one finally ratted the group of four of them out to me, about the lifestyle “change of the day” every time they visit, which is rather frequent.

Nutrition and diet are an evolutionary study as we re-learn the lessons that our great grandparents knew.  We used to say “Grandparents”, but my grandmother discovered Entenmann’s pastries, Nabisco raisin cookies and Bryers ice cream (and knew what to do with them). Throughout our personal journey, we have moved from the Zone, to South Beach (the diet, unfortunately) to high carbs, to mostly vegetarian to wheat free and so on… There were more stops I am sure, but our minds tend to block out trauma.

Recently, my ever inquisitive spouse has taken her study to a new level. In the interest in making my life better she shares some of the more interesting items with me. I have already talked about wheat belly in an earlier blog and I’m thinking I might have started this renewed interest of hers. A couple weeks ago, as I was struggling with not being able to digest the increased amounts of animal protein (the four legged variety), she comes out with “You are what you eat. You eat cows and you look like cows, move like cows.  People who eat chickens tend to run around like chickens and peck at things, people that eat swordfish are sleek and graceful, etc.”  I am not sure of the validity of this view, but I know that another work colleague of mine once told me that humans cannot digest beef, it sorts of just sits there for a few days and festers until it can be disposed of. Nice image right? Now I wonder why I got constipated when I reintroduced beef into my diet.  For some reason I cannot get Meg Ryan in French Kiss saying “fester, fester, fester…rot, rot, rot…” out of my mind.

Today, my spouse comes out with this pearl of wisdom “Chew your food.”  Now I remember that statement from my grandmother (at least the food that did not come out of a box) so the advice resonated with me. Frankly neither my spouse nor I are good at following this rule – yet.  Apparently, when you chew your food, enzymes are released in your mouth that starts the digestion process. This action also tells your brain “hey I am eating now so you can forget that hunger thing.”  Consequently, we fill up faster and are able to more easily avoid overeating. I remember hearing all of this information from my ninth grade biology teacher, so this is not exactly new news, but perhaps something worthy of periodically reminding ourselves about.

I am grateful for this journey, and the wisdom and curiosity of my spouse.  I would not be here now if it were not for the lifestyle changes that her lifelong study has inspired.  She has never badgered me, just simply given me information.  Ladies (and gents) you do not have to beat your spouse over the head with “you know that you cannot digest that steak you are eating ….ever” and “you can only use the protein from the first four ounces of that 20 ounce porterhouse that you are eating at Mortens.”  A little information consistently repeated seems to get through…even to me.

I am now, once again, off land based animal protein, except for dairy and eggs, and have lost my desire for a lot of the other “stuff” that was once so tempting.  I can look at the Prius sedans in our church parking lot and say “Well, I don’t eat meat so my carbon footprint is lower than yours and I am not sitting on an electromagnetic field while I am driving my car.” My spouse is not just a nutrition expert – more to come on EMF and binding agents used in food – in later posts.

I think that anytime modern science and nineteenth-century transcendentalists agree – the concept must make sense.  Henry David Thoreau said that being vegetarian is “just more efficient”, and Michael Pollan says “Eat food, mostly plants, not a lot”.  I am the Thoreau expert in the family, my spouse is the Pollan expert, and on this topic at least – we can agree.  It is nice to come at something from different perspectives and arrive at the same answer.

So today I am grateful for my spouse and her lifelong affair with learning about health and nutrition and my own lifelong learning.  Namaste.

Father’s Day

I used to hate Father’s day.  As a feminist male, I bought into the “fact” that every Sunday was Father’s Day. Certainly my family of origin and my first wife’s family of origin celebrated this event every week.  I never really understood exactly what Father’s day was supposed to be about.

What was a Father’s day celebration anyway?  This way of thinking was akin to my thinking small mind, my “I am my story” mind or, more appropriately, my “I am my sad story mind.  This small mind, “woe is me” thinking was triggered by feelings of guilt common to all men since the industrial revolution took us out of partnership on the farm with our wives. This step made us absentee parents, toiling first in factories, then offices and shops, to support families we were never with because we were always working.

At the health club the other day, I heard a typical Father’s day type story. You know the kind, just an empty, meaningless small story with details like how many problems someone had while fixing a gutter.  First this went wrong, then that went wrong, and finally something else went wrong.  As I listened, I applied this concept to my own way of fathering; first I missed the soccer game because I had to work, then I got drunk, then I burned the hamburgers. In short, simply one problem after another.

So, I was very happy to read about what fathers are doing today. It is a whole new world these days for young men raising families. Fathers are becoming stay at home dads, they are home schooling, they are assuming the role of caregiver, and yet, they are still men (read more about it here.)  I believe it was our “boomer” generation that laid much of the groundwork for these activities that are now becoming more common.

Later that day, I spoke at length with both of my son’s, enjoying conversations which were meaningful and deep. My sons actually cared about what I was talking about, and when, because I was in a bad mood, I tried to go to my “small story”, they kept probing and asking me empowering questions. They helped me to get back in touch with my “big story”, all the while encouraging and believing in me.

My current “small story” is about how hard it is to launch a new business.  How much work it is, how much I hate marketing, how much time referral marketing takes.  The unknowns….. Yet both wanted to hear the bigger story.  They helped me move into thinking about how much fun I am having coaching my clients, how meaningful it is to me, how it helps others.  They forced me to shift my perspective by not accepting my desire to “play small.” Both listened and helped me understand why it is so hard for men to open up to other men about needing help to figure out what they want to do.  They both reminded me that men will share anything with one other trusted male, in a one on one setting, but they will not open up when there are witnesses.

After the shift, men are drawn to their families and many times become afraid their families are beginning to find them irrelevant. They might also think they have dishonored their families either by something they did or failed to do.  Having functional and loving relationships with all of my adult children and their life partners is one of the pleasures of my “big story”, because it is something that I now take very seriously, every day, not just on a few choice “Hallmark” holidays scattered throughout the year.

When I was the age my sons are now, I would have conversations with my father of a very different kind. They were entirely superficial.  The ability to now having meaningful, honest and open conversations with my sons on Father’s day (or any day), facilitated by our mutual knowledge, appreciation and interest for who each of us are and what we are doing in our lives, makes all the difference in the world.  We do not live in an enmeshed relationship; they do not call me every day, or even every week, but we talk often enough and honestly enough that we have a sense for who we, each of us, are as men.  Of course, I talk to my two daughters and they are both delightful, but fathers and daughters are a different dynamic than fathers and sons.  My father and I did not ever get along, and likewise, he did not get along with his father before him. This is a lonely and detrimental pattern that I have successfully broken.

So, I am grateful this year for the growth in our family that allows us to enjoy honest and open conversations between generations of men. That my sons live in the same town in Ohio and are close as adults, even though they spent very little time together as children because of their age difference,  is a joy to behold.

Even more of a joy is the fact that they are both actively searching for what it means to live an on-core life now. Many of us do not come to this path before we enter our fifties, and often in reaction to major life changes. I realized talking to them that being a parent to adult children is not about intruding in their lives, it is about continuing to live our own lives, and sometimes seeing ourselves through the mirror of their perspective. It’s about setting an example as we age and become “wiser”. We must live that wisdom and not burden them by trying to impose it unduly upon them.  As Gandhi said, we become the change we wish to see in the world.  We must now trust that our children are smart enough to figure out how to apply these lessons for themselves when they are ready.

Integral Relationships

In my last post I discussed the concept of OnCore or Integral relationships. In order to have on OnCore relationship, at least one partner must be aware and living an on core Life 3.0.  For both partners to be in that frame of mind is a bonus, but more often than not, people and relationships are at different levels of consciousness. And we are all at different levels each day and in each area of our lives.

Yesterday I was asked “What is consciousness?” The only answer I can provide is that it is what a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography “you know it when you see it.” One of the key traits of consciousness is living in the moment and bringing awareness to authentic facts as we know them. As Eckhart Tolle has taught me “I have form”,  “I am a male,” “I am breathing,” etc…

In the process of preparing my next tele-class series on relationships, one of the books that I am reading about identified 40 or so traits that “society” almost universally assigns to either the male or female gender roles. The book also has the reader complete their own personal survey in which I found that internally I personally identify with more feminine traits than traditionally male traits, examples include being talkative, superstitious, compassionate, and sometimes submissive. However externally I identified overwhelmingly more with the typical masculine traits such as being aggressive, assertive, and dominant. I wonder how common this is for men in general?

In my personal relationships, I have often shown these inferior (personally inferior, not collectively) traits in addition to my public persona. Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychoanalysis, referred to these interior traits as the Anima or Animas, the internal masculine or feminine within us.   He also said that ” One cannot live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in importance in the morning will be of little importance in the evening and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” Jung believed that as we age, each person’s task in life is to integrate these inferior traits into the greater whole, in order to become fully integrated or complete, or as we call it now, Integral or OnCore.

As I shared in a recent post regarding the disposability of men, I believe a society (or the masculine mindset of that society) that continues to force one gender (itself) to live in a subset of gender roles is reinforcing that disposability factor. This mindset inhibits males from becoming balanced. I personally know of two retired males that could no longer stand living and so they stopped, rather dramatically.

The book that I’m reading is written for men who want to become Integral. It teaches that we should not show the emerging softer side of ourselves to our spouses because this would confuse them and possibly frustrate them. This is particularly true if their spouses are in their fifties and finally beginning to live a more independent life. It is suggested that these spouse don’t want to be burdened by a needy husband getting in touch with the interior inferior side of his persona. But this makes me question, if we cannot authentically be ourselves that inter-spousal intimate relationships – then where exactly can we explore and embrace this new understanding? I think perhaps it is not truly a question whether we should be authentic but rather the issue relates to in what manner we are authentic. Specifically, there are many ways of embracing the traits that have been here to fore interior, to explore them fully, openly and authentically, to share this journey with our spouses, without becoming (or making them become) psychotic. We are, after all, talking about living an Integral life not one of incapacitation.

Bruce Lipton, in his landmark best-selling book “Biology of Belief“, laid out exactly how we become socialized and programmed in the first five years of life. In my own case, as I shared a few blogs ago, my mother was dramatically impacted by the death of her great aunt. This stamp on her character, in turn, permeated how she raised me.  This created in me a need for balance in my “personal software” that was scripted unintentionally by my mother. The same is true for all of us, we are all shaped and molded by our parents beliefs and experiences. We become who we are through a process of learning (often subconsciously) how they see us.

Fortunately for me, in the back of the book, Bruce shares how we can reprogram ourselves. This process is actually how he became able to write the book in the first place. Several  years ago when speaking at a conference, Bruce was followed by Rob Williams. Around that time, Rob had invented a process called PSYCH-K(R).  PSYCH-K(R) allows us to put our brain into a whole brain state and simulate the brain state that was present when we were young and very easily programmed.  After the age of about five, brain changes in elasticity alters our learning patterns so that after that point and as we age, we are no longer so easily programed. To complicate matters, most of us don’t remember much of what we were told before the age of five. However the supercomputer inside the brain, our subconscious mind, remembers everything and it is our unconscious or subconscious programming that will often  determine how we how we make decisions or respond others.

Last year my spouse and I both attended the basic and advanced PSYCH-K workshops.  While there I experienced clarity and was able to discover and effect the necessary change in several areas of  my own “software”. I identified that my mother’s distrust of men was projected as a child onto me, creating in me the need to trust myself as a male. Another small change I needed to make was to cultivate acceptance of the fact that it is “okay” for me to enter into a profession which draws on the compassionate intuitive side of my persona. To be clear, I accepted my mother a long time ago and harbor no deep seeded resentment against her. I know that she did a good job however,  there were just some things that were provided “free with purchase.”

Two profoundly altering yet simple statements came out of this processes in a less than four hour session. By contrast, I have spent time with three therapists over the years at various times of my life. In those years of therapy, I gained knowledge but no interior change.  I now know this is because that subconscious super computer in the brain works many, many times faster than our conscious minds. This is why affirmations do not work.  Affirmations combined with years of mediation and discipline will, for some, eventual help shift our understanding. Yet in just four hours on a Sunday morning last January, I eliminated most of the issues that I’ve had my whole life. Since then, I’ve been able to get on with being an authentic integrated whole person.

Being OnCore, integrated and Integral are actually very easy. We simply have to want to do it. We have to want to grow. Wisdom is easily acknowledged and accepted if we have the courage to face ourselves, to understand our demons and to move past them.  Clearly until now, for our society this has been the road less traveled. On a cold wintry day last January, that wasn’t dark and stormy but sunny and clear, I made the choice to take the load road less traveled, and it has made all the difference. You can do this too.

You can attend a PSYCH-K retreat or you can hire a coach who is trained in the techniques.  I also discovered that PSYCH-K and Breakthrough Laser coaching (an iPEC coaching technique) are “kissin’ cousins”. As a coach, I have integrated these tools into a cohesive practice designed to help you identify and get past the subconscious obstacles holding you back so that you can get on with living the life you born to live…at last.

The R Word – Relationships

No not retirement…relationships.

It does not matter who I coach and for what, eventually and usually sooner rather than later, it is all about relationships.  For me it has always been about relationships, especially my spousal relationship.

My first marriage lasted twenty years and, as I approach that timeframe with my second marriage, it occurs to me that for people approaching retirement years danger looms on the horizon.  Over 50% of marriages end in divorce.  When my current wife and I got married the minister pointed out to us in his sermon that we had a 65% chance of divorce.

There are more studies than I can easily reference that point to the reality that people in relationships are healthier than people that are not in relationships.  Yet, more and more people live alone. Why?

People of all ages now seem to crave independency, unwilling to be enmeshed in relationships where they may lose their sense of self.  Compounding this factor for those in Life 3.0, more women seem to be less interested in marriage while more men seem to want it.

We are conditioned in early life to adhere to certain gender roles that have worked for the species. Men are attracted visually to pretty women while women gravitate towards men that show promise of being good providers.  The social changes in the last fifty years have turned the status quo upside down as more and more women embark upon successful careers while many men are trending towards “burn out” and are no longer able to financially “outperform” women.

Six years ago I retired from a six figure salary senior executive career to pursue my dream of photography, and also to take care of our home.  I made that decision consciously and intuitively. It was the right time to do it.  At the same time my executive wife restarted her career in a high stress position that would leave her little time for traditional homemaking.

Over the next five years, my spouse became highly independent, while I fit myself into the role of caregiver. This was a complete role reversal, and for a time it worked well for us.  However, after a while, I realized that I, like the majority of female caregivers, simply needed more. My spouse and I now find ourselves negotiating on who is going to do which “wife” chores. I had thought that we were unusual, and perhaps we are in that we have cooperatively and consciously acted.  But in researching the topic of “boomer” relationships for my practice, I see that there are macro trends at play affecting us all.

We have what is being called by some an Integral Relationship. I am calling it an OnCore Relationship.  The hallmarks of this type of relationship are that both parties are awake. Morpheus has extracted both partners from the Matrix.  The women are working towards ascendency while the men are getting in touch with their rootedness. By understanding their own path and respecting themselves above all others, each participant in an Integral Relationship is able to give the same amount of respect to their partner. Consequently, there is no subordination, no struggling with a loss of self. Together they help each other maintain alignment, provide encouragement, raise each other’s energy, and generally enable greater success. Together the sum is greater than the parts, parts which incidentally are equal but not the same.

We, my spouse and I, are in the minority of the “lucky ones.” We are awake, aware, and able to work together towards a common goal. Many of our clients at OnCore Ventures are not in this category. They struggle with balancing their new and deeper understandings of themselves with the mindset of their spouse, who is often at a different level of awareness.

The only way out of this conundrum is, as I said earlier in the week, to “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Working to transcend your own state of being will spill over at some point to your relationships creating contagious energy that your spouse (and others you interact with) will perceive and respond to. This may be just the impetus they need to set themselves on their own path towards Life 3.0. We must consciously work to create transpersonal relationships, and in doing so helping society to evolve to a new reality.

 

Life 3.0 from an Integral Perspective

As readers of this blog have probably noticed, I have been struggling with an exact definition for “Life 3.0.” I know that it occurs after a “shift” and that it typically occurs during the second half of life.

When I first enrolled in the IPEC coach training program, after paying my tuition but before attending the initial session, I stumbled upon Integral Coaching Canada’s coach training program. I subsequently spent several weeks soul searching about whether I should instead under-take that program. I spent a significant, but as it turns out insufficient, amount of time reviewing Ken Wilbur’s Integral Life Practices and A Theory of Everything. Ultimately I decided that my goal was to follow a path ever forward, and so I could certainly participate in this program upon completion of my current commitment, if I still felt inclined.

While actively working through the Energy Leadership path of iPEC and Bruce Schenider, and after I was trained in basic and advanced PSYCH-K (R) defined by Rob Williams and based on Spiral Dynamics (as is Ken’s work), I attempted to co-learn Integral Theory. Fortunately, I remembered a lesson my ninth grade teacher related about a child in a Swiss family that was not learning to speak at the expected age.  It turns out that all four Swiss languages were being used in the family home and the child was not learning any of them. The child psychologist suggested they pick one language to focus on first in order to master each language sequentially with less distraction, minimizing over-load and maximizing building upon previous knowledge.  This is the concept I subsequently applied to Energy Leadership.

Now that I have completed the intense iPEC learning series, I find myself once again attracted to Integral theory and practice, particularly as it applies to Integral Relationships.  Our use of “OnCore” language and theory in our practice is to relay in our own terms what we believe it means to live an Integral Life.

Integral theory writers extensively use vocabulary which can be very confusing to outsiders. In the past, when picking up an advanced book on one of the finer points of integral theory, for example how it is applied to relationships, I would quickly become frustrated and often exclaim “why can’t you just speak English!?!.” This time however, when I went back to Ken’s 2000 book A Theory of Everything, consistent with the laws of the universe (ask and ye shall receive), I found a very clear definition of what Life 3.0 really is.  It is, quite simply, an Integral Life.

For many years I, like the majority of boomers, have proudly identified with the cultural creatives in America. Yet, if there are so many of these creative around, why is America not on a better course? Ken shares that “As the cultural creatives move into the second half of life, this is exactly the time that a further transformation of consciousness……into a mature second-tier awareness can most easily occur.”  Admittedly, when I first read this book ten years ago, I had no idea what he was talking about and promptly stopped reading.

Had I continued reading, I might have understood more and sooner.  Ken Wilbur believes there are four factors important for this transformation to an Integral Life to take place.  These factors include fulfillment, dissonance, insight and opening.  My recent musings on Life 3.0 awakening describe, in my own words, these four stages and my long struggle to transcend them.  Would that I could have “gotten them” from one page of a book.  But as is often the case, at least for those of us that must kinesthetically learn by doing for ourselves, it’s just not that simple.

To summarize Ken’s very clear description; when fulfillment occurs, we have then “had enough” of our Life 2.0 existence. At that point, we move into dissonance where our current situation simply no longer works for us. In the words of a teenager, it is a time when “life sucks.” When this happens we become open to growth and work at gaining insight. Ken points out that we begin to organize our feelings and thoughts during this time through “introspections, conversations with friends, by therapy, by meditation or, more often than not, in ways that absolutely nobody understands, by simply living.” He goes on to say “Finally, if all of those forces fall into place, then an opening to the next wave of consciousness, deeper, higher, wider, more encompassing, becomes more possible.”  Here at OnCore Ventures, we call this time “Life 3.0” which translates to living an integral “On Core” life.

I recently discovered this again over the last few weeks as I began to go to market with my offerings.  In creating language that defines what I do, I had fallen back to earlier levels of awareness and my “boomeritis” (Ken’s term) kicked in.  Life 3.0 is a personal transformation.  In trying to describe this concept I landed on the explanation that is currently on the main page of this site which states: “We’d like to see a large network of OnCore Ventures stretch from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city across this nation and our world. And we are actively working to create as many OnCore Ventures as we can.”

But after further processing, this is not so much where we want to go. By focusing on the ego of creation and the effects of transformation, we are not being precise about our intention.  To clarify, we intend to see more and more people in Life 3.0 ventures of any kind, expanding their consciousness of themselves and the world around them, each and every day.  We operate upon the principles of Deepak Chopra and Ghandi who agree that “We transform the world by transforming ourselves,” and we must all “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We are still playing with the “marketing messages” that must be crafted to describe what it is that “we do”, and perhaps what we do in concept is as confusing to others as Integral theory has been to me up until now.  But, let me be very clear or, as I like to say, put my order in to the universe; I intend for others that want to live an integral, on core life in the second half of life to wake up and do so, and it is our mission to help you do exactly that. We see ourselves as fishers of men. We have walked, and in many ways are still walking, this path that you have now stumbled upon. We are here to shine a light in the darkness ahead so that each step for you is just a little bit easier.