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Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fascination Trigger #7: Rebellion

This Wednesday I'm focusing on the last of the seven triggers that authors can capitalize on to fascinate readers. The idea for this series came from Sally Hogshead's book, Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. See the bottom of this post for links to the other 6 triggers.

People with Rebellion as their primary trigger are the people who follow the beat of their own drum. They are creative types, coming up with inventive, unconventional solutions to their problems.

Randy Ingermanson mentioned George Carlin as a great example of Rebellion. In 1972, he created a comedy routine around the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." Brilliant, really, because he was instantly fascinating with his own version of the forbidden fruit.

Ingermanson also indicates Marilyn Monroe as being a Rebellion personality. When she sang "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy in her breathy, sexy voice...this was definitely edgy and unpredictable (see below).

According to Hogshead, there are 5 defining personality characteristics of Rebellion folk:

1) Innovative - these folk can generate ideas like nobody's business. They don't necessarily plan and deliberate, but have sudden flashes of insight. Deadlines aren't really problematic for them.  

2) Independent - autonomy is preferred over group collaboration, though Rebellion people can definitely work with others. The preference is for their freedom to flex their creative muscles and make their own decisions.  

3) Entrepreneurial - trailblazing isn't unusual for Rebellion personalities. They can self-start, and rather enjoy not feeling hedged in. They might be more likely to start their own venture.  

4) Edgy - cleverness and ability to grasp alternativ eviewpoints and perspectives are strengths of Rebellion people. Most are quick-witted, ironic, or sarcastic.  

5) Unpredictable - ever unorthodox, they enjoy the surprise in others when they do something unexpected. Traditional ideas and actions aren't their strong suit. 

One author that came to mind as having many of these traits is Truman Capote. When he wrote In Cold Blood, he really deviated from the genre of true crime by making his book read like a fiction novel. Instead of a journalistic style, it was very narrative. Capote said that he created a new genre of the "nonfiction novel." Based completely in fact, he helped the reader get into the minds of the victims and the killers, and really feel empathy for their plight.

Then Capote ends his career with a dark, insider look into his own life, with thinly veiled portrayals of his acquaintances and the pathos he encountered in his own society. Talk about throwing a curve ball.

I hope you've enjoyed the series! For those interested, you can find the introduction here, the Power trigger here, the Passion trigger here, the Mystique trigger here, the Alarm trigger here, the Prestige trigger here, and the Trust trigger here.

Let's Analyze

Who else comes to mind as pushing the envelope literary-wise?

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Therapist's Take on Brave: Not Disney's Typical Princess Movie

Over Thanksgiving, I was finally able to watch Brave, thanks to some major sales on DVDs at Target during Black Friday. My daughter and I watched it together, which is something I highly recommend mother-daughter pairs to do.

Merida was such a refreshing take on Disney princesses. She's got the unruliest red hair, and her brogue is thick, certainly unrefined by Cinderella and Snow White standards. She likes to ride horses and can shoot a mean arrow. She's independent and strong-willed, and actually has a mother in her life. To me, she's a great role model for young girls as far as image goes because she's more real.

Now her mother, Elinor, is quite the refined queen. She loves her daughter and husband very much, but she has the highest expectations for her daughter. At one point in the film, poor Merida is subjected to the ministrations of her mother as far as her schooling, ladylike hobbies, decorum, social graces, manners, walking style, and tone of voice.

Soon the heart of the film is unraveled...a true mother-daughter feud/disagreement over expectations due to tradition that clash with Merida's inner desires and goals. This is as age-old as it gets. Audiences from every culture and even gender can identify with Merida's struggle to meet parental hopes while not squashing her own.

Ironically, they both "practice" what they want to say to each other, but end up saying little of it because they end up fighting. Merida slashing a tapestry Elinor has been working on, which separates the mother figure from the rest of the family in the picture. In anger, Elinor throws Merida's bow into the fire.

So when Merida makes a rash decision that alters her and Elinor's destiny via a magical spell, she must seek to make things right. Half of the movie is spent with Merida trying her best to undue what she has done. Elinor and Merida must learn a new way of relating, and I found myself teary-eyed over the intimate, personal way Disney conveyed this message.

What mother and daughter don't need to learn this lesson, especially as daughters grow up and sprout wings of their own to fly? Learning to see the strengths of our children individually apart from what we had hoped their strengths would be, as well as children understanding that parents simply want the best for them, but might not always know what that is. This shift within the family system is so important, and yet no one knows how to navigate it correctly.

Merida and Elinor learn to appreciate aspects about each other they had previously been blind to, and they see facets of each others' lives that they realize aren't all bad. They take to heart the
cautionary rhyme given to them by the witch who cast the spell: "Fate be changed, look inside.  Mend the bond torn by pride."

Ah, pride. Perhaps nothing separates us from more relationships than this. What a universal lesson for everyone. I highly recommend this movie for families.

Let's Analyze

Have you seen Brave? How did you think Merida compared to other Disney princesses? What about the heart of the story being the age-old struggle between mother and daughter?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend Funnies: An Idea for Next Thanksgiving

Genius. Sheer genius. With Christmas coming up, still sounds like a great idea. Hope your holidays were wonderful!

**cartoon by Nick Galifianakis**

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


(which I am currently participating in...)

RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you're having a feast or just a little buttered toast, I hope you remember what today is all about. Smile, be thankful you're alive, and God bless you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fascination Trigger #6: Trust

This week, I'm covering the sixth fascination trigger as discovered by Sally Hogshead, the author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. In it, she talks about seven ways people can harness their natural personalities to be captivating to others. I've been going over these triggers on Wednesdays, with only two left. 

[If you missed the introduction to this series, click here. If you missed Power, the first trigger, click here. If you missed Passion, the second trigger, click here. If you missed Mystique, the third trigger, click here. Alarm, the fourth trigger, is found here. Prestige, the fifth trigger, is found here.]

People with the primary trigger of Trust are dependable and consistent even amidst a chaotic environment. They are like a stalwart bedrock.

Staying consistent over time is hard to do, and when it is pulled off correctly, people take notice. For example, Chick-Fil-A has almost a cult following due to it's high Trust factor. People understand and even applaud Chick-Fil-A's commitment to observing the Lord's day and remaining closed on Sunday. You know that if you walk into a Chick-Fil-A anywhere in the country, you're going to get the same high-quality service, offered with a friendly smile. 

The same can be said of Starbucks. A peppermint mocha in Florida tastes the exact same as a peppermint mocha in California...all the way across the country. Their product delivery is so constant and standardized that they made a name for themselves, gouging the American public for $4 cups of coffee!

According to Sally Hogshead, there are five defining characteristics of Trust personalities:

1) Stable - there is hardly any fluctuation in how a Trust person conducts themselves. The situation doesn't matter.

2) Dependable - they follow through on what they said they would do, delivering steady results, on time, and executed as planned. They are hard workers to make sure this happens.

3) Familiar - they are "known quantities" and are respected because of their behavior.

4) Predictable - a Trust individual develops patterns and routines they follow religiously. They believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. They will choose the reproducible proven method over a new innovative one any day of the week.

5) Comforting - there is something relieving about being around a Trust personality. Due to extreme reliability, they evoke a feeling of freedom and release from dwelling on the negative in others.

One author who came to mind with a high Trust factor is James Patterson. The man produces at least 2-3 books a month, although he is most well-known for his Alex Cross series. When someone picks up a James Patterson novel, he or she knows exactly what they are going to get, and it's delivered with pizazz and electricity, which is exactly what he or she is looking for. 

He's predictable with his production of great thrillers, he's definitely a known quantity, as you're more likely to pick up a book by him or Lee Child or John Grisham rather than an unknown. In fact, if you're a true fan, you've already pre-ordered the next book in the series. He's familiar, comforting (though not with his actual subject matter!), and dependable.

Let's Analyze

This one should be the easiest yet. Who else out there can offer up a name of an author you can absolutely hands-down trust to produce consistent results every time you spend your hard-earned money on their newest release?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Should You Feel Guilty for Skimming?

Multicolored Stacked Books by Stuart Miles
With the Thanksgiving holidays around the corner, we probably all have a pile of books to be read (or, if you're like me, a long list in various e-reader apps on my iPad). We've all had the misfortune of picking up a book we thought would be a winner only to discover it's a dud.

I've dealt with three types of readers thus far in this scenario:

1) Tossers: those who toss the book out on it's ear with the attitude of "life's too short to deal with bad prose, poor grammar, fill-in-your-literary-vice-here."

2) Skeptics: those who cautiously read on, hoping that something in the book will redeem their decision to have wasted the earlier amount of time reading it.

3) Dogmatics: those who finish the book no matter what, perhaps silently cursing their inability to toss it or having "wasted" their money (hopefully the book was a freebie on Amazon and then this won't be the case).

I'm not writing this post to cast my vote for any one camp. Sorry to disappoint.

But I do want to offer an alternative to nail biting decisions.

In some ways, I'm proposing the literary equivalent to taking a book on a first date. Mortimer J. Adler wrote a book called How to Read a Book in which he identified four levels of reading that build upon one another:

  • Elementary
  • Inspectional
  • Analytical
  • Syntopical
Elementary reading is remedial literacy. The basics, if you will. You find the book attractive, the cover interesting, the premise engaging.

Inspectional reading encompasses a quick, yet meaningful, advance review to order to evaluate the pros and cons of whether you should go steady with this book. There are two ways to do this, according to Adler:

1) Skimming. This is like taking a book out for a drink (instead of a longer dinner). You read the back cover blurb, glance at chapter titles, selectively dip in and out of content, and skip around a bit.

The KEY is that this is a time-limited activity.

And here is where my metaphor falls apart slightly. Drinks with a first date can last anywhere from an hour to an entire evening. But with a book, you want to take no more than about five minutes to make the decision about whether to go on to the next level of reading commitment. 

If your gut tells you that this book is unworthy of additional time or effort, CUT YOUR LOSSES AT THIS POINT. You're only out a few minutes of your time and can pick up the next book on your TBR pile guilt-free. You haven't led the book on or made it think you were more interested than you are.

If, however, you are still interested, it's time to go dancing with your book.

2) Superficial. Doesn't sound much better than skimming, but this is reading at it's purest level of enjoyment. You're not pondering why a character did what, you're not losing sleep over something you didn't get. You're just reading for entertainment, just like going dancing with a date. You're actively engaged, but still on a surface level.

Unless a book truly resonates, with a spark that makes you crave to reread, there's no need to go further into Adler's third and fourth levels of Analytical and Syntopical reading. And if you're interested in those levels, buy Adler's book, as the post stops here.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving reading hours....and remain guilt-free due to very intentional skimming.

Let's Analyze

Do you skim? When do you know you've skimmed enough to keep reading or toss it?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


(which we are in...)

RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fascination Trigger #5: Prestige

It's good to be back on the blogosphere! I haven't ever taken a week off from blogging (to my albeit limited memory) and I enjoyed it so much. Definitely think there is something to this whole "unplugging" thing.

But on to our regularly scheduled program.

This week, I'm covering the fifth fascination trigger as discovered by Sally Hogshead, the author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. In it, she talks about seven ways people can harness their natural personalities to be captivating to others. I've been going over these triggers on Wednesdays.

[If you missed the introduction to this series, click here. If you missed Power, the first trigger, click here. If you missed Passion, the second trigger, click here. If you missed Mystique, the third trigger, click here. Alarm, the fourth trigger, is found here.]

People who have the primary trigger of Prestige have high goals and seek even higher goals. They always want to improve and have tangible evidence of their success. They crave respect, but want to earn it.

In layman's terms, this is the respect due to someone having rank. The President is instantly fascinating upon election (or re-election). We would rather hear speeches by someone of note than someone we've never heard of before. Apple products once again made Randy Ingermanson's description of this series in that whether you think it's true or not, much of the world believes that owning an iPhone gives one more prestige than owning a Blackberry or Android.

According to Sally Hogshead, there are 5 defining characteristics of Prestige personalities:

1. Ambitious - Prestige puts high goals out there for themselves, and they push themselves to reach the next level. A lot of energy goes to characteristic.

2. Detail-Oriented - These folk are most often perfectionist in how they present themselves and in the work they produce. They observe details better than most, and have an inner desire to fix even the slightest problem.

3. Admired - Most people perceive Prestige people as somewhat of an expert in their field, and definitely an achiever. They are often consultants and looked up to by others.

4. Uncompromising - "Good enough" is the kiss of death for Prestiges. They pursue improvement constantly, and making concessions and settling in less than the best is very uncomfortable for them.

5. Focused -Since Prestige people focus their attention and energy on "knowing more, doing more, having more, being more," they are well-suited to leadership in various forms.
I didn't have to think long to produce an author who meets these criteria. Martha Stewart has written dozens of bestselling books on a variety of subjects, and her name is synonymous with domestic goddess. She described herself to Oprah as a "maniacal perfectionist." (And come on...anyone who could cook and keep house like this woman must would have to be.) Even the stock trading scandal she was involved with was a result of her ambition and desire to avoid even the slightest problem.

But she made a comeback in 2005 and her company was profitable once again in 2006. Since then, her reputation has only gone up, a result of her drive and will. She's once again highly respected in her fields of expertise.

Let's Analyze

Any other Prestige authors you know? Someone who's a bit obsessive about editing, perhaps?
And just because I'm curious, who among you adhere to a regular "unplugging" from the internet, whether forced to (like what happened to me when we moved) or because you wanted to?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving Week!

This weekend, my family and I moved into a new home! We are renting while we are in escrow and anticipate being real homeowners soon!

As a result, we don't even have Internet hooked up in our new home, and I'm typing this out character by character on my iPhone. So it will be short!

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as moving is stressful, especially with a 4 1/2 year old. But what a momentous occasion! Hopefully our last move ever.

I'm finally unpacking boxes that have been stored away upwards of 7 years.

Most interesting find: hand blown glass flowers that we twisted and created ourselves at the Corning Glass and Museum in Rochester, NY. They were unscathed, which was a miracle.

Let's Analyze:

What's the most interesting thing that you've unearthed from long-forgotten about boxes?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.