Thursday, September 30, 2010


I believe that everyone is “interesting,” that no individual is without value or interest. Sadly, some of these people hide their colors, and others are simply sleepwalking through life. Call these sleepwalkers, Delta-Beings.

Why “Delta”?

A fully functioning brain can generate as much as 10 watts of electrical power.

Beta: Strongly engaged brain. Brain waves of 15-40 cycles per second.

Alpha: Not all that engaged. Brain waves of 9-14 cycles per second.

Theta: Daydreaming. Brain waves of 5-8 cycles per second

Delta: Deep, dreamless sleep. 1.5 to 4 cycles per second.

Delta-Beings always play it safe.

Delta-Beings do not ruffle feathers, trouble the waters, or rock the boat.

Delta-Beings will do what they are told to do…immediately…without even thinking about it.

Delta-Beings think tradition is off limits and that the mantra “We have always done it this way,” is divine wisdom.

Delta-Beings always agree with everyone—even when they all are disagreeing with each other

Delta-Beings don’t stand out.

Delta-Beings don’t know that there is a box, much less that they might want to think-outside-of-it.

Delta-Beings are predictable.

Delta-Beings parrot the company line, even after it is proven that it is only a punch-line to a very old joke which no one finds funny.

Delta-Beings rarely do anything “wrong.”

Delta-Beings do not challenge.

Delta-Beings can only solve the problems of the past.

Delta-Beings do not create, they only maintain.

Delta-Beings resist visionaries because such people require that Mr or Ms Delta-Being wake-up!

What can you do, if you are a Delta-Being?

Go find weird people, eccentric players, and off-the-wall-thinkers that never encounter a rule they don’t question. Find people who are allergic to boxes. Get to know them. Be challenged by them. Allow them to take you on the magical mystery tour of their thought processes.

Look around you. Look at your office and your life. R-e-a-l-l-y look. How many people of color are there? How many people from different cultures and countries? How many of your friends think exactly the way you do about almost everything? SNOOOOORING!

Read books, magazines and periodicals outside of your industry. Read up on genomes. Read Tolkien. Read Bob Sutton’s, Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. Read books which challenge the way you have always done-it, believed, thought. Shake-up your brain.

Visit museums. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of creativity and self-expression. Consider the nuances, the juxtapositions, the shades, and the spaces. Go read up on the lives of the artists who move you. If they are still on this planet, contact them. Go meet them. Listen to them.

Visit a nearby graveyard. I am serious: dead serious. This is where you are headed. No matter how many years away it is, it is not all that far away. What will the epitaph read?

She Was Bored to Death
Wow! What a Ride

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Question of Manipulation

One of the questions that comes up when dealing with the topic of reinvention—at least as I am describing it—regards “manipulation.”

“When we create a role that takes up space in the minds of the Powers That Be, are we not seeking to manipulate people?”

Contrary to some people’s thinking, I see the word “manipulation” as value-neutral. The question for me is always Towards What End? I deeply appreciate the chiropractor manipulating my weary bones, for example.

The word “manipulation” is like the word “ambition.” There is rarely success or progress without ambition, yet for some reason it is usually spoken of pejoratively. The question for me, however, is, “Ambitious for … what?” Only then can I assign a positive or negative value.

When seeking to persuade someone to come to a decision or to take action, do you not speak in a certain tone, choose appropriate words, generate a certain degree of energy? Are you not thereby seeking to manipulate the person?

Most all of you reading this Dress For Success (to some degree, anyway) when you go to work, entertain potential clients, etc. Are you not seeking to “manipulate” people to see you in a particular light?

When you step into a room filled with the Powers That Be (PTB), do you not move Just So: making certain you speak to him, acknowledge her presence, make the rounds so as to be seen by them? Why? You do this because it creates the desired image (Power and Authority), which, in turn, will serve to add cache or value to your reputation. You are “manipulating” your image in the minds of others, are you not?

One of the comments previously posted was, “People see what they want to see.” I couldn’t agree more. People look at us through the prism of their beliefs, expectations, present psychological states, biases, etc. So, if you decide that keeping your job is important to you, that success is critical to your future well-being, I suggest that you ascertain the mindset of those you intend to influence and then craft the role you need to play, so as to be perceived in the manner you desire.

Example. If The PTB perceives your quiet demeanor as weak (due to their peculiar mindset), then you will want to “act” in ways that they will consider strong or assertive. Quiet is not a synonym for Weak, but some people think otherwise. If these people are the Gate Keepers, it doesn’t help for you to sit quietly, thinking quiet thoughts to yourself about their idiocy. You have to “act” in ways that demonstrate your strengths in their minds.

Example. The football stadium is filled with 60,000 citizen-voters. The choir is singing, America the Beautiful. Right when it gets to the phrase, “The laaaaAAND of the FREEEEEEE …” four fighter jets burst across the sky. And then, “Ladies and Gentlemen” (American Flags waving in the wind behind the individual): “The President of the United States!” Or, “The Future President of the United Sates.” Why this act? Because the symbols create the desired image … these are symbols that others perceive as “Presidential” and “Patriotic.” (I do think that, today, people are quite aware that such “acts” can be deceiving, but the point is still valid: “I need to act Just So, so as to create the desired image.”)

To all of this, some will still insist that, no, they are NOT seeking to manipulate, only to influence. Whatever.

Okay. If it helps, think in terms of “managing your image.”

What is the image you want to create in the minds of others? How are you going to accomplish this? How will you manage yourself—dress, talk, comportment, and expertise—so as to maintain this image?

If you don’t care how others perceive you, you are handing your image (and reputation) over to others to manage.

Maybe they will do a better job than you?

Maybe they care more about your success than you?

Maybe. I doubt it.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Never Upstage the Boss

Show me a man who is a good loser and I will show you a man who is playing golf with his boss
. Jim Murray, American sports writer and Pulitzer Prize winner

It seems self-evident, but all too often I have witnessed otherwise sane people making their bosses look bad. This is usually NOT a good idea. In fact the only time I can think it would be okay is if the boss was on his way out … but, even here, it can backfire on you, as it may cast you in a poor light in the mind of your future boss, not to mention your peers.

As you are reinventing yourself, creating a role that will take up space in the minds of the Powers That Be, you will want to be careful when both you AND your suoervisor are in the stage at the same time. In most cases, bosses prefer being center stage.

Give the boss credit for your ideas. Publicly. He knows who did what. If he wishes, he can deflect the praise and give you the Atta-boy. If he receives the praise for work he did not do ... well that is useful information, isn’t it?

If you run a successful project or campaign, make certain you say something to the effect that you couldn’t have accomplished x without his support. Yes, even if he did absolutely nothing to help you. You hold your job because he chooses to keep you employed, so it is not that much of a stretch to say, “He supported me,” is it?

Never argue with your boss in front of other people. If you have a serious problem with what he is saying or doing, go to him in private. However, even if no one else is around, maintain a respectful demeanor. Yes, even if he is unjustly chewing you out. Stand your ground, make your points, but do not hit back. Ever.

I am not talking about those conversations where there is a lot of give-and-take: where the supervisor is looking for different perspectives, approaches, ideas. Here you should share your mind. Respectfully.

I know. Some of you are great friends with your supervisors. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can take liberties with him. Michelle Obama might call the President “Obama” or “Dear,” but I guarantee that his closest friends call him Mr. President. The office is to be respected. Period. (Ok. Maybe this is just a hallucination of mine. Maybe they call him "Barry." You get the point.)

Even Saints have egos. If you wish to remain in the good graces of your supervisor, you will not want to threaten his ego.

And if YOU are a supervisor and are reading this?

You need the team’s input. Encourage healthy debate. Remember, “teamwork” is not where everyone is running around doing what you told him or her to do!

Cultivate an atmosphere of openness.

Don’t be thin-skinned. Realize that your employees are telling jokes about you around the cooler. If you overhear them, consider telling a joke about yourself that you thought particularly funny. While you can’t allow disrespect to develop in your team, you also do not want an image that creates fear of ever disagreeing with you. You might as well acknowledge your humanity. After all, everyone around you is already aware of it, eh?

When appropriate, share some of your past defeats and failures. This will encourage your team to be honest about the things that are not going well for them … while you can still do something about it!

Seek to win your team’s respect, on a daily basis. Give praise where it is due and help where it is needed. Put flesh and bones to the vision and values you espouse, through you words, behavior, and attitudes. Be the sort of person you want others to become.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Admiration and familiarity are strangers

George Sand

There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt.
Charles De Gaulle

If am often seen at the theater, people will cease to notice me

It’s finally getting cooler here, in Atlanta. Needless to say, for a guy who hates the heat, this is a welcome change. Of course, many people here are thinking the same thing, except, for the most part, when the winter months do arrive they will soon be pining away for the sun and heat. Not me, mind you, but then I am not the average guy. Ruminating on this led me to thinking about the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Or is it “Absinthe”? Anyway …

There is something about
absence that we need to remember in our quest for developing an image of authority and power.

The familiar becomes boring, or at least something we take for granted

The familiar becomes predictable, which, in turn, means you are no longer unique

Familiarity breeds contempt: not always, of course, but often enough to make it something about which we are cautious.

Once familiarity sets in, people begin defining you in terms of your weaknesses and faults. Or so I have seen. Remember what Ben Franklin said, “Fish and visitors stink in three days.” Time your “comings and goings,” so as to never stink!

Obviously, if you are in the early stages of creating a role that causes you to stand out from the herd, you will want to appear everywhere: helping complete this project, adding value to that team, serving those supervisors in their quest for success. However, after your image is seared into the minds of the Powers That Be, it is time for them to experience some tactful absence.

Where is she? We could really use her input on this project?

Has anyone seen him lately? We need his wisdom on this.

Someone go find her and tell her we need her. It feels like we are only operating on 4-cylinders.

Most people don’t get this treatment until their funerals. Don’t wait until you die for people to forget about the things that bored, aggravated, or upset them, only remembering the good things about you. Learn when to leave the stage for a while, creating desire and anticipation for your soon return.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Alchemy of Silence

The last few posts I have been commenting on reinvention and the task of adopting roles (particularly at work) that cause you to stand out from the herd, in the minds of the Powers That Be. I have been careful to emphasize that I am referring to APPROPRIATE ATTENTION, mind you, using the illustration of how Court Jesters can attract attention but never be taken seriously.

For some personality types, the temptation is to think that the role that attracts the most attention is the gadfly. First of all, most offices already have this actor. so you won’t be standing out all that much. Second, the incessant talker who insists on chiming in on every topic of conversation, no matter how inane, is, as everyone knows except the gadfly, annoying. Not exactly the image of authority, eh?

But what about the person who, eschewing the inane, feels that he must have something important to say, something “valuable” to add to the “important” conversations? While you certainly do not want an image of being the Fifth Wheel--an unnecessary appendage that can easily be removed without any measurable loss--adding your two-cents so as to always be seen as a contributor is worth … what? Two-cents?

Silence is Golden
In my last post, I suggested that extroverts may want to consider refraining from a constant need to be transparent, so as to create an air or aura of mystery. This is different from the silence that is due to fear or insecurity. “What if I say something wrong or stupid?” No, the role I am referring to is the one used by actors such as Mitchum or Burton, whose serene stillness attracted the most attention.

Think about it: In an age where everyone is preening, posturing and prattling on and on so as to grab his or her Fifteen Minutes of Fame, it seems to me that, today,

Less is More

Minimalism Trumps Maximalism

Or at least this is a possibility that you may want to consider when creating your role.

Saying less, remaining silent when everyone else around you is speaking, can be a challenge.

Have you ever noticed how many people expect you to share your every thought, to be “honest” about your feelings regarding everything being discussed, and then insist on interpreting every word you have spoken? Of course, his or her interpretation is The Truth, regardless of your protestations! Have you also noticed how many of these same people then use that information to control you? “This is who you are!” “That is what you said.” Thereby putting you into a box from which, in their minds, you will never escape.

If Information is Power, then information given at the most appropriate time and in the most succinct manner—well, that is nuclear power!

Guard your thoughts. Hold your cards to your chest. The more people press and cajole you to be “honest,” to make your “contribution,” the more they are simply playing into your hands. Wait … waaaaait … not yet … hold your tongue …

When you do speak, do so in short concise sentences, and do not say everything that is on your mind. He will go crazy over what was not said. She will seek to add to what you were intending to say (or so she thinks), had you kept speaking. When they do this, they will invariably let you know their thoughts, their motivations, and their agendas. Handy. Also, when the meeting or conversation is over, their every thought will be about you: what you possibly meant (or was it?), and what you left unsaid.Voila! An image of Mystery and Power, created.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010


The responses to my last post keep rolling in: most all of them positive, all of them with questions regarding the correspondent’s particular situation. Of course, the majority of the emails I received were from introverts. Go figure. You would think I was asking people to show up to work in their underwear! But that is what it initially feels like, when an introvert acts “out-of-character.”

In considering playing other roles—roles that cause us to stand out, to take up space in the minds of the Powers That Be--I think the question that we must begin with is this: How important is your job and your desire to be successful?

The first time I attended an Improvisation workshop, I thought I was going to toss my breakfast. What held me there? I was anchored to my desire and intent to move audiences to take action in helping the destitute around the world, as well as becoming a more powerful corporate trainer and coach. I felt locked in to a single way of being and acting. I had one “role”: The Real Monte. The problem was that this “Monte” didn’t always move people toward my goals. My outcome was more important to me than my comfort-zone.

There are a zillion fundraisers in the US. Most of them are honest and sincere in their dedication to the organization’s mission. Same goes for trainers and coaches. However, when the stage is filled with so many other “actors,” you had better do something to compel attention, or you will recede into the background. You aren’t going to be noticed, if you are backstage.

Listen. I am not suggesting that you roll yourself up into a carpet so you can be unfurled before your audience. Although it worked wonders for Cleopatra when she first met Caesar! What I am suggesting is that you create a role that emanates power.

Taking on a role that causes you to stand out from the herd does not require that you play some over-the-top character. The movie actor Robert Mitchum learned that if he stood perfectly still while the movies’ marquee stars moved about before the camera, he could steal the scene, drawing the viewers’ attention to HIM. Richard Burton quite often did the same thing while acting on stage with the world’s greatest Shakespearean actors. Serene stillness is far more powerful than histrionics.

For my introverted readers: Take Baby-steps! Maybe all you need to do, so as to take up more space in the minds of your “audience” (supervisor, co-workers, etc.), is dress with a bit more flair. Subtle shifts can be powerful shifts.

For you extroverts: Maybe you will want to cease being so transparent about your life, so as to create an air of mystery?

Reinvention is not simply about taking on a role at work that fascinates and entertains. Court Jesters can do this but no one takes them seriously. The role should be inspired and informed by your goals. The purpose behind reinvention is (appropriate) attention, increased power, and success in your career. If the roles you choose do not achieve these outcomes, let ‘em go and create a new one.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Aurore Dupin Dudevant arrived in Paris in 1831. She left her husband because, she said, marriage was worse than prison. She was weary of other people dictating whom she should be and controlling how she should act. Her intention was to take her life into her own hands and become a successful writer.

Becoming a successful writer at this time was an impossible task for a woman. What female writers that were able to get their books published in those days did not earn a living by their royalties. She was reminded of this hurdle when she showed her writing to a publisher and was told that she should go make babies, not literature.

Undeterred, Dudevant devised a strategy for reinventing herself. She would not play society's games. She would not be restricted to the role “proper women” were to assume. She would not be held down by the old boy’s network. What did she do?

Having always preferred men’s riding breeches to that of a woman’s, she began dressing like a man. All out. Long men’s coats, cravats, the whole shebang. She also would smoke and drink just like the men of her day, and, quite often, curse with the best of them. She then published her first novel, Indiana, under the pseudonym, George Sand.

This female-behaving-as-a-male intrigued people … especially the male artists, who welcomed her into their clubs.

Okay. They were French … but that’s beside the point! The point is she refused to have others dictate her role in society. Had she not taken on a different role, she would have never experienced the success that came her way as a writer.

Choose Your Roles
Hugh Laurie only plays a doctor on House.

Mark Feuerstein only plays a concierge doctor on Royal Pains.

These are roles that each actor has chosen to play. Only close friends and family have a clue as to their real personalities. No one condemns them for this. No one cries out, “FRAUD!” Even their families and friends realize that the guy on the screen is not the guy at home in the living room. And this is cool by them.

At work, what role will be most useful, most conducive to continued effectiveness and success? What role do you need to play so as to realize your dreams? I am not suggesting that you change who you are at your core. (Although, the roles you play often rub-off on who you are as an individual.) I am suggesting that you may want to learn to take on various roles, so as to achieve your goals.

In 1970 when I began my studies at Samford University, I was a Music major. (Voice and piano.) I loved classical music and found that learning instruments was quite easy for me. However, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was going to be required to perform in front of people. My personality profile was spot on when it noted that Monte E Wilson, III was an extreme introvert--off the charts, in fact. My High School counselor told me to stay away from anything with moving parts … and people. I kid you not!

My first anxiety attack came the day that I was told it was time for juries. I was to sing before four professors whom would then grade my performance. Worse yet, my jury was going to include Dr. Claude Ray, the Dean of the Music school. I immediately began wondering about another choice of majors.

While standing outside the jury room, waiting for my turn to sing four songs--one which would be in English, the other three in different languages—a young lady ran out of the room crying. Anxiety turned to panic.

For some unknown reason I remembered the fact that many of my favorite movie actors were quite shy and introverted, but became someone else before the cameras. Could I pull this off? Could I pretend to be someone else, a character in a movie that was a great performer? You bet!

When it came my turn, I said to myself, "SHOW TIME!" I went in and nailed the performance. I had chosen to play Mr. Extrovert.

While I didn’t remain in music, my career path required that, most days, “Mr. Extrovert” took center stage. Leadership seminars, corporate trainings, and fundraising for charities required that I play a role: a role that was the opposite of my true personally and way of being. To this day, all but my family and closest friends think that this role is who I am, that I am jazzed by being with large groups of people and standing at center stage.

My passion is helping others to become successful in life, cross-contextually--by which I mean “successful” in every area of life. I saw that Monte the Introvert was going to be limited in his ability to achieve his outcomes, and, therefore, needed to take on different roles.

The people in your world quite often wish to be in charge of who plays what role. They have determined that your role is Ms Mouse or Mr Limpwrist. However, you know what you want out of life. You know better than anyone else what roles will get you to where you want. If you aren’t careful about not allowing others to play Casting Director in the production of your life’s work, you will end up only having a cameo appearance … in the production of their life’s work.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Unique ... NOW

To stand out in the market, companies must offer something so individually attractive and so valued that it transcends being merely a product. They must break through and capture a position in the minds of fickle and choosy consumers.

The alternatives are stark. You must either burn yourself into consumers’ consciousness and leave behind a warm glow—or drop abruptly out of the market. In the wealthy parts of the world, scarcity of goods is history. Now, the precious resource is the space in the minds of consumers. If you can also win their hearts, your message will be really engaging.

Unique NOW… or Never, Jesper Kunde

In the arena in which you are working, think of your skills and talents as the “product” you are selling to your employer, every day. Now, go back and re-read the above quotes and ask yourself, “Am I burning myself into my employer’s consciousness … and leaving behind a warm glow?”

In this economy, expertise and skill only go so far. Especially, if other potential employees possess the same level of skill as you do.

What is it about you that cause you to stand out and be noticed? (In a positive manner, of course!)

How does your direct supervisor experience you?

How do your co-workers experience you?

How do you know your perceptions are accurate?

Being a nice guy is not unique. In fact, “nice” is often synonymous with “bland.” Being a team player is necessary, but usually does not cause you to stand out—unless your team is filled with anarchists. Being good at what you do is necessary, but most everyone else around you is also good at what they do.

Each and every day you are selling yourself to your employers. Obviously, this requires that you keep adding value to the business through your skills and talents. However, it also requires that you position yourself to be noticed and experienced in a unique manner.

Don’t allow yourself to be lost in the crowd. If you aren’t being noticed, you don’t exist in the minds of the Powers That Be. If you don’t take up space in their minds and hearts, it won’t be long before you don’t take up space in the office.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010