Monthly Archives: January 2021

Down And Out In Paris and London

I've loved George Orwell's 1933 autobiographical novel about his experiences in Paris and London, right from the time I first read it at 16 years old.

Little did I suspect that within a few short years, I would be in a similar and then worse situation in London and Dublin. That was 1981-84 and I was on a downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse, unemployed and unemployable, moving from squat to squat, living in squalor with people in the same desperate situation.

But that's not what this piece is about.

I'll keep those stories for other days - how the guy who broke into Buckingham Palace and into the Queen's bedroom not once, but twice, crashed on our floor - how I arrived in Heathrow Airport on the same day Bobby Sands died and spent nearly 5 hours being "interviewed" by police - how Maggie Thatcher who despised "society" was busy dismantling the up till then cherished welfare state while 3 million were on the dole - how I woke up shortly after 7 am one morning to the sound of anti-terrorist police raiding our house, breaking in through the front and back door, and down through the roof and how I lay on my mattress with 2 heavily armed men standing over me, guns pointed - down! down! stay down! don't you f***ing move!

But yes, that's for another day.

Now, January is almost over. Winter is half-way done. The days here are getting longer but the temperatures are still low and I hear we're in for more snow.

Today let's talk about how little has changed in the almost 232 years since the Civil War better known as the French Revolution of 1789-99

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

This opening chapter of Dickens' 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, set in Paris and London at the time of the French Revolution, is compelling and powerful. And it could easily have been written about 2020-21.

The pandemic has changed the world. Online business is booming. Delivery services are making money hand over fist. Traditional personal contact industries are suffering. For everyone who's winning, there's a corresponding person who is struggling.

Sometime in the most recent, or next, 24 hours we will cross the threshold of 200,000,000 coronavirus cases and 2,200,000 deaths. Who knows when, or if, things will return to normal? I think instead we're going to have to adjust to what will be a new normal.

In any society, 5% game the system. They push the envelope, find loopholes. They exploit everything to their own advantage. A tiny proportion of these are outright criminals - their illegal activities are the result of deliberate and considered choices to operate and live that way.

It is tempting to fall into cynicism, especially when we see the 1%. The 1% that always seem to measure, judge and respond to everything based on the What's-In-It-For-Me principle. Some of them ignore the problem, some accentuate it -it's not what they do that's important, but why they do it. We all know examples of man's inhumanity to man - emotionally tone deaf rules and responses to the suffering of the old, the poor, the powerless.

Because this 1% are highly visible, it's easy to misapprehend what's really going on. We should remember they are the tiny minority.

The 99% are silent and invisible so it's easy to assume they're not there, or not doing active. But we each know many examples of the triumph of Community - that sense of humanity and togetherness that compels us to reach out and help our neighbor.

Nurses, doctors, paramedics, and an entire human healthcare system going above and beyond to save lives and restore health. These same people getting sick and dying in the course of treating the sick, caring for the elderly, comforting the poor. Ambulance drivers, firefighters, police, first responders of every type putting themselves and their lives on the line day in, day out come what may.

It is sad that community and society are negatively associated with the -isms derived from them. Communism should reflect a valuing of community. Instead, it was used as a vehicle for autocracy. Socialism should reflect the importance of remembering that we are social animals, that we need society. Instead, it became sheep's clothing under which the wolves of fascism and totalitarianism lurked and lured otherwise decent people into the depths of inhumanity.

Two of my recent articles focused on Donald Trump, the world's most visible recent example of how close to the edge normality can come in the thrall of a leader with autocratic ambitions. And how easily it happens.

The social order is fragile and danger is never far away. If you doubt this, cast your mind back to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 - a city devastated, 1,800 dead and anarchy on the streets within days.

Will we ever learn?

Did you enjoy this piece? Leave me a comment below...

I should have written sooner…

It's evening time. I've been up since 6 am and it's now on the cusp of 9 pm. I'm tired. I want to go to bed. But I made a commitment to  write and publish every day so I have to finish this before I'm done.

We had snow last night. I went out and threw snowballs. It doesn't often snow so I wanted to take advantage of it. Plus, I've spent the past 8 years in the Middle East where 20 celsius is regarded as cold.

I came across a question today, a guy asking how detailed his plan needed to be before he started his business. The advice split fairly evenly between those who were very interested in the plan aspect and those who said just get your first customer and start.

I noticed he was very vague on what this business was and in the comments thread he said he had "lots of ideas". I think that's the place to start - one idea, not several.

Our friend from yesterday (you know, DJT, the Voldermort of the GOP) knew that. He had one key message - Make America Great Again - that perfectly articulated the problem and made him the obvious solution. Look back at any of his speeches or campaign rallies and you'll see that he was very disciplined when it came to themes and messaging. When he focused on "The Wall" he put MAGA quietly to one side and relentlessly drove home his Wall message. The closer to the Mexican border he went, the more strident his oratory.

But when he was in the Rust Belt, the Wall was the wallflower and MAGA took center stage.

In Washington, it was Drain the Swamp.

In New York, on The Apprentice, it was "You're Fired!"

He didn't waste time or energy trying to sell complicated messages, or appealing outside his base. He knew the best customers to sell to are the ones you already have. Zero cost of acquisition and they spend more.

Slogans seem to come naturally to him. Because he is at heart a snake-oil salesman - he'll tell you any lie you like for you to convince yourself of what you already know in your bones - that you want him on your side, that you trust him, that you are drowning in despair and he's the only one who seems to care.

Your logical mind knows he's liar, a cheat, a fraud, a tax-dodging, rule bending, law-breaking juggernaut that is going to crash and burn, bringing you with him if he can't make you take the hit for him. But your paleomammalian brain doesn't think that way. It governs a universe of emotions, assesses the plane of survival. It is responsible for our "sense" of self, as opposed to our ideas of self. This part of the brain rules on emotion. It sees the world as relatively straightforward - eat or be eaten, beat or be beaten, rape or be raped, kill or be killed. Given that, it's surprising that it gifts us with the ability to discern and interpret body language, especially facial expressions, and to accurately detect minute nuances be they inconsistencies or congruence. Even though we're now apex predators, we weren't always and that brain remembers.

So this 6' 3'' Giant, with his handsome face, his greedy eyes, his winning smile, he tells that brain that you're safe with him - that you're right to recognize him as the Apex of Apex Predators, that he eat, beat, rape or kill you. And you believe him.

More tomorrow...

 

Was that a Twit I heard Twittering in the White House? So Silent Now, So Quiet

"Enlightenment is man's exit from his self-incurred minority. Minority is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another....
...Through laziness and cowardice a large part of mankind, even after nature has freed them from alien guidance, gladly remain in minority." Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

I suspect that at least part of George Orwell's motivation in the choice of the title of his dystopian novel "1984" was a nod to Kant's "Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment" published in 1784.

I have no idea whether Donald J Trump has ever studied Kant or Hegel, Marx or Engels, or Orwell even. But I would guess that at least some of his mentors did.

Trump has demonstrated an almost magical ability to move people. He perfectly captured and held the attention of nearly 200 million people in the USA for 4 straight years. Has no one ever thought to wonder at how a septuagenarian became the highest skilled Tweeter in the world? << sidenote - a Twitter message is a tweet? Why isn't it a Twit? >>

Wielding his virtual pen, infinitely more powerful that the swords of the 4th Estate, his dominance of the news and media landscape was total.

That a self-proclaimed billionaire could position himself as the champion and saviour of the poor, the forgotten, the marginalised and a once middle-class society ground down by decades of mismanagement of public service should be shocking. That he flaunted his wealth, unashamedly exploited his low paid workers, and practiced the direct opposite of what he preached was par for the course for him. He famously claimed that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it - one of the few times he is known to have told the unvarnished truth.

He leaves behind him a seething pot of 75 million disgruntled and unsettled angry Trumpublicans and Donocrats. It's unlikely he will enter the presidential fray again. the question is, what's next for Donald "Harry Houdini" J Trump?

One thing you can bet on is that it won't be boring. Nor small. Nor quiet. This man has proven over and over and over again that he's a survivor.

One of his early mentors was Roy Cohn. A lawyer and prosecutor, he was spotted by J Edgar Hoover and introduced to Senator Joesph McCarthy - yes, that Senator McCarthy, of McCarthyism notoriety - the man whose name is forever associated with a dark and dangerous period in modern American history. Cohn was McCarthy's legal counsel and diligently and enthusiastically deployed his considerable intellect, killer instincts and cruelty to persecute his targets.

His mentee is not his intellectual equal but has a similar capacity for cruelty and the same willingness to use personal attacks and insults as weapons. Where Trump outshines Cohn is in his charm and charisma which he uses to great effect. That combined with a talent for throwing mud (real and manufactured) that sticks endears him to his fans who love to see and hear him "sticking it to the man"

Lyin' Ted Cruz, Crooked Hilary, Do-Nothing Democrats - attack. attack, attack - yes, definitely the best form of defence...

More tomorrow.

What Gets Measured…

Pearson's Law is that what gets measured gets done. And what gets measured and reported, improves exponentially.

I've been doing some measuring and here is my report:

I started publishing on Medium.com in May 2020 and continued through to August. Then I didn't publish until December.

So I've published in 6 out of 9 months = 66.67%

I have written 27 articles. Monthly output ranged (excluding Zero product months) between 2 and 9 posts and my average for the 9 months is 3 per month.

My 27 posts got 435 views and 270 reads, a read % of 62%. The highest number of views I got was 76 and the highest number of reads was 53.

I gathered 9 followers - equals 1 per 3 articles published and lost 1 so today I have 8.

Medium estimates the reading time for all my posts is 100 minutes and the majority are 3-4 reads.

I want to improve my performance so I need to identify some areas where I can try new approaches. Having thought about it for a few minutes, these seem to be 10 obvious ways to do that:

  1. Write and publish more frequently.
  2. Write and publish consistently
  3. Write longer articles
  4. Define a niche and be consistent in it
  5. Write on topics and subjects that matter to me and I feel strongly about
  6. Find and express my authentic voice - attract my real audience - stop being vanilla
  7. Engage in the Community - follow and comment on other people's work
  8. Test different headlines and sub-headings
  9. Test different article formats - essays, how to's, lists
  10. Keep measuring, reporting and evolving.

Russel Brunson, CEO of ClickFunnels, teaches that documenting is a key to creating content, content that is authentic and sells. And he's 100% right - documenting what you're doing gives you an honest, unvarnished record of what you actually did. That's pure gold for creating products and services that work and deliver the results promised.

He goes further and asserts that if you publish in your chosen medium every day for a whole year, you'll transform your business and your life. That's what he did and from the founding of ClickFunnels in 2014 to today, he and his partners have built a company that turns over c $70 million annually and has over 250,000 rabid fans who run their sales funnels on ClickFunnels software and have used it to generate billions of dollars in sales. (Yes, rabid - Google "ClickFunnels" and you'll see questions like is it a pyramid scheme?, is it a cult?). So I'm guessing he did a lot right.

My only regret is I didn't start daily when I first heard this. Instead, today is Day 3 of my streak.

Mark Joyner, founder of Simpleology, teaches the Seinfeld method of building habits - do it daily, keep a tracker. Pretty soon you'll have a chain of X's and then it's a matter of 'don't break the chain'. This discipline is well embedded in Health and Safety practices - you'll see signs in premises and facilites saying X days without a lost time incident, or whatever the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is.

I'm setting these basic targets for the coming weeks and months:

  1. Publish every day
  2. Get my views per post up to 10 x my best previous = 76 x 10 = 760 views average
  3. Drive my post reads up from 64% to 75%
  4. Be attractive enough and/or controversial enough to attract at least one new follower each day
  5. Put a strong call to action in each post, together with a link to a page where readers can opt in to my newsletter

Next, I'll look at two ways to lift my performance - write a longer article and polarise my audience.

So tomorrow's piece will be about how Donald J Trump is a victim of his own success and how he might claw his way back...

And just so we're clear - I'm sincere and deadly serious.

And I'm not a Trumper. If I was American, I'd be firmly in the Never-Trump camp.

But just because I'm not a fan or supporter doesn't mean I can't see and appreciate his genius for certain things, not least of which is his ability to take the pulse of America and carry millions with him. Love him or hate him, you have to accept the truth that the record turnout in the recent general election had little to do with Joe Biden, the Democrats, or even the Republican Party - the dominant factor throughout was DJT and he delivered a massive 10% increase in voter turnout vs. 2016.

So, watch out for tomorrow's installment.

I'd love to see your comments. Thanks.

I feel called to write a book because…

Books are magic. I've been an avid reader from early childhood. Having exhausted our local library's children's section by the time I was 7, I had to ask my mother to get permission for me to borrow from the adult's library. I read voraciously - always had 5,6, 7 and more books on the go at any one time and finished 5-10 a week. I kept this up all through school and my early twenties. I slowed down a bit when I started studying and working - partly because I had to read so much for my studies and at work. But every time I was off the clock or between semesters, out came the books.

These habits have stayed with me all this time - at the moment I'm reading 14 books, a mixture of business, philosophy and fiction.

To me, 'book' means a physical thing. It's a Sacred Object. I listen to audiobooks, but mostly if I'm driving. My kindle has 657 books on it today, most of which I've read at least once. Although I would be loath to delete an ebook or an audio book, I don't treasure them the way I do my printed books.

My treasured books include first editions of 3 of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and 2 Alice A Bailey books. At the other end of the scale, I've got 70 year old John Creasey adventure novels in dog eared, grubby and well worn paperbacks. I have my father's Latin and Greek texts he studied in the early 1930's.

I NEVER throw books away.

Books are precious, and powerful. A single sentence at the right time can change your life...

This week, I'm participating in the Hay House 7 Day Book Writing Challenge.

It started yesterday and our assignment was: Why do I feel called to write a book?

I feel called to write a book because...

I feel it inside me. I have stories I want to tell, lessons to share. I want to express my experiences. I see other people writing and publishing and know I can do that. More, I see people who have written several books and know that I could do that too. I just need to get started.

I think the process of writing will help me develop the habit and discipline necessary to become a prolific author and to write and publish good quality books on a regular and consistent basis.

I believe it will help me in my business and career. I can use it to position myself as an expert and to introduce people to my thoughts and approach to life. Writing a good book is the first step to a wider and bigger audience, to becoming visible in an authoritative way on social media, tv, press, speaking etc. Being an author will open many new avenues for me to connect with audiences all over the world.

I have a unique perspective on life and think it would be attractive to many people. But at the moment, it's rattling around in my head and nobody knows about it. Writing my book will help me start my movement - every journey starts with a step and writing my book is the first one.

What do you think? Have you thought about writing a book? Have you done it? Let me know in the comments below.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

One of the very first things we learn in life is that we are not enough....
Not big enough
Not old enough
Not smart enough
Not tough enough
Not fast enough
Not tall enough
Not important enough

Then we grow up and start to find our way, and it continues...
Not educated enough
Not trained enough
Not experienced enough
Not thin enough
Not rich enough
Not important enough

As adults, we daily face the fact that we are
Not successful enough
Not wise enough
Not adventurous enough
Not attractive enough
Not interesting enough
Not important enough

Not important enough....

We're taught that everyone is more important than we are - parents, siblings, spouses/partners, children, relatives, friends, classmates, colleagues, bosses, society, church, authority, people with wealth and influence, so-called VIP's.

The market for "solutions" to our not being enough is HUGE - think about it for a minute!!

Improvement: Religion (become good enough and save my soul)
Fashion, Fitness & cosmetic surgery (become more attractive)
Education (prove I'm smart enough)
Psycho- & other self-help therapies (find and fix what's wrong with me)
Status (show everyone I'm good enough)
Distraction TV, internet, social media, sports, music
Avoidance Alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), gambling, sex

We spend $Trillions - yes - TRILLIONS of dollars on these every year. And advertisers spend trillions more to get in front of us while we're doing these things.

This "not enough" paradigm is so fundamentally strong because it's true. Rather, it's true to an extent.

It's true that we're not rich enough - have you ever met or heard of a wealthy person who said I'm ok, I've enough? No, doesn't happen. Why? Because you can never be rich enough - the richer you become, the farther on you'll push the finish line. And there's nothing wrong with that. Wealth and riches are neither good nor evil - it's what you do with them that matters.

Jim Rohn taught that it's our duty to become wealthy, for 2 reasons - it's good to be able to support and provide for ourselves and others and then, more importantly, for who you become in the process.

Tom Bilyeu talks about not being good enough, yet. I am not a good enough welder to weld (not surprising given that I've never welded anything). I am not a good enough writer, yet - I have no problem admitting that, because I know that if I show up and write and put it out there, I'll get better and at some stage I'll be good enough to adequately convey my message to a satisfied audience.

So recognizing we are not enough in specific ways is a good thing - it helps us decide what we want to learn, how we need or want to develop.

The Emperor has no clothes - we all remember the fairytale of the Emperor's New Clothes and how it was a child, a person who didn't see life through an impenetrable veil of indoctrination, who was the one to speak the awful, unutterable truth and break the spell. Once the spell is broken, like Humpty Dumpty it can never be restored.

It is a LIE that you are not enough. That massively dangerous and harmful Lie is cloaked in an illusion masquerading as a truth. The Lie wants you to keep believing that because there are things you need to do, to get, to learn that this proves YOU are not enough, when the TRUTH is that you are enough, have always been and always will be enough.

I am hosting a fantastic 4 day virtual summit from 22 - 25 March 2021 and we're going to go deep into this stuff.

Which brings me to my ask - will you help me choose a name for my event?

https://paraicbergin.com/blog-survey

Thanks, I really appreciate it.

If you enjoyed this and it resonated with you, leave a comment below.

Happy New Year

I hope you and yours are safe and well. Tomorrow is the first "normal" working day of 2021 and a good day to lay the groundwork for a different year to 2020.

I've had a lot of change in my life this past year. Thankfully none of my family has gotten Covid-19 but the numbers of friends and extended family infected or affected directly or indirectly is growing.

Having had an enforced pause that came from losing my job due to the pandemic, I've had plenty of time to think about what I want to do with my life and how I'd like to spend my time. All going well, I will turn 60 in August and as this is the year of the Bull (and my year) I'm ready for a change of direction.

I think of myself as a genius and a polymath - and who's to say otherwise? One of the disadvantages of being good at several things is that it is very easy to have too many irons in too many fires and to spread oneself too thin.

So the biggest changes I plan for 2021 involve me letting several secondary activities go while I concentrate on a very small number of key things that I love to do, am exceptionally good at, and want to improve.

This means you and I may part company...
....or you may decide to stick with me to see what's in store.

Either way, I wish you well

I will be emailing writing throughout January about the changes I am making, outlining each topic and the approach I am focusing on. I will include a link for you to follow if you would like to remain connected with me on that topic.

Comments welcomed and answered