Tag Archives: perspective

What have you learned lately?

20 Aug

school desksWe’re nearing the end of the warm season; that’s right, summer’s almost gone. What did you do? Take any holidays? I was lucky enough to spend a week in beautiful British Columbia where I enjoyed charming cities and looked at the Pacific Ocean every day. I’m going to Montreal next weekend to cap off the season.

One thing I’ve become very aware of is that holidays and hot weather are a good combination to turn us lazy and sloth – not only physically but mentally. It’s easy not to do much on hot, heavy days thick with humidity; this kind of weather can bring about sleepiness, migraines, low energy, and the desire to drink cold beer. Most people agree that it’s okay to let this happen during the summer – it hearkens back to our two months of holidays while we were in school, the two months of bliss that at the time seemed to last forever. Invariably, the beginning of the new school year neared and the pressure to stop having fun and get your nose into a textbook nagged at us. It was depressing and at the same time, exciting.

Like you, I’ve been riding the summer calmness, digging the feeling of relaxed holiday in the air, and not taking much seriously. But a couple of weeks ago, I sensed an unknown stress pressing into my mind. I told a friend about this anxiety and he says he has it too. He thinks it’s because it’s the time of year we’ve been conditioned to associate with work – i.e. school. I think he’s right.

I felt invisible pressure to do something with the autumn looming, but I didn’t know what. Then I received a booklet in the mail from the Toronto District School Board that listed dozens of adult classes that begin in September. I looked through and found many classes that interested me. Yesterday I registered for one and I feel great about it. After a couple of months of working (mostly part time), sweating, loafing, laughing, drinking, and socializing, I’m excited to learn again, to improve myself, to make a commitment to something. To me, it’s like the physical feeling of changing from shapeless sweat pants and t-shirts to fitted, woven clothing.

It’s one thing to take a week or two (or more if you’re lucky) to go away on holidays which chops up the year, but quite another thing to make a commitment to learn something new. I’ve decided that instead of taking a winter holiday in January, I will take another class. Lying on a beach is certainly relaxing, but taking a class is definitely much cheaper (albeit not warmer), and the mental improvements from it will last my lifetime.

Can you imagine who you could be if you made the decision to start learning again?

Learning is fun and a wonderful investment in the mind. It’s also a good way to stop stagnation – let’s face it, as adults it’s very easy to fall into a comfortable rut and to keep on with the tried and true schedule. But this gets boring and boredom can eat away at our minds. Learning is a healthy challenge for us and keeps us humble, but it also means change. Some people are afraid of change, but the thought of it depends on your perspective: when it comes to learning, I think about change as an enhancement, not as anything uncomfortable.

Learning whets the imagination and the intellect and improves confidence; new skills develop and talents emerge. Putting yourself in a new environment to learn with other people is an amazing experience. I can’t wait to take a seat at my school desk on September 9 and let the learning begin!

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

– George Bernard Shaw



Top 10 ways to turn off a self-respecting woman

11 Aug

Men, it’s time for a perspective change. To prepare yourselves for this, you first must consider yourself by thinking about the degree to which you can focus on something. Next, think of other men and how intense you may have noticed they can be when concentrating on reaching a goal. Got it? Now, put a bunch of these men in a room and put drinks in their hands.

I want you to now imagine that you’re a single woman in the same room and think about what it might be like to be the target of this intense and intoxicated masculine focus. If you can do this, you may be able to understand why single, self-respecting women choose to remain single.

1.  When she’s standing at a bar, make sure to confine her space – i.e. barricade her with arms and elbows.

2.  Walk up to her, introduce yourself, and follow with “wanna shag?”

3. Assume that she wants you to paw her, just because she said hello back.

4. Put your hand up her dress.

5. Ask the woman if she’s married, what her sexual orientation is, and make comments like, “with a body like that, you mustn’t have any children.”

6. Keep talking to her and hang around her though she isn’t even making eye contact with you.

7. Get really drunk and flash a wad of cash around, making sure she’s seen it at least 3 times. Try not to stagger while you do this.

8.  Get really drunk, walk over to a woman with whom you’ve never spoke, grab her by the arm, drag her to the dance floor, and force her to dance with you.

9. Get really drunk and interrupt the conversation you’re having with the woman to get into a fist fight with another drunk guy.

10. Exclaim “Don’t leave me!” when she turns to walk away.

* All items in this list are are true and actually happened to me. I’m sorry to report that 6 of these 10 points happened in one night not too long ago.

Follow the magic leader

28 Jul

Dan Trommater is not your ordinary miracle worker.

I happen to have met a couple of real life magicians recently and found myself fascinated by their craft and curious that I could apply image principles to what they do and how they do it. Last week I wrote about James Alan, Magician, and how his clothing dictates what kind and how much magic he can perform. We also found that because James practices traditional magic, he makes his image match his profession.

This week, I will again discuss modern magic in ways that you didn’t expect, and I will again draw parallels between a magician’s magic and the magic of  image, but this time, our magician is not a traditional type.

Dan Trommater is doing something completely unlikely with his magic combining it with leadership training to help managers and leaders become more effective in their jobs at organizations who want a unique approach to leadership.

Freeing beliefs and assumptions

I met Dan at a business networking group a couple of months ago and I was fascinated by what he does and how he does it, wondering what a mix of magic and business would look like. The more I talked to Dan, the more I understood where he was coming from and found that what he does and what I do have many things in common.

First, our occupations represent the liberation of thought, belief, and assumption.

Magic, according to Dan, is a tool used to “involve audiences in a friendly, fun, and supportive environment that transforms them into 5-year olds by engaging their sense of wonder. ”

Doesn’t that sound nice? Tell me more, Dan!

“I like to open my keynotes with a magic trick that messes with the way the human mind thinks it understands the universe,” he says, “A member of the audience is invited to sign their name on their $20 bill which I make disappear. Next, they open a box that has been in full view the entire time and inside the box is a lime. We cut the lime open and inside of the fruit is the signed dollar bill!”

This is a trick that Dan performs in order to challenge the assumptions of the group. He asks the flabbergasted audience to write out their theories about how he possibly could have transported the bill to the inside of the lime. Members of the group then share their theories, showing that there is more than one way to look at things, and that there is more than one solution to the puzzle. (In fact, throughout Dan’s career he’s used at least  ten different ways to get the bill in the lime, so he really believes in this exercise.) This type of exercise forces people to question their assumptions about what they understand to be “right” and opens them to other possibilities – this is where the magic happens.

Dan punctuates presentations with magic to lead the audience in the shared experience of wonder and gives them a glimpse into their child-like selves. His tricks challenge assumptions of his audience and they are able to experience reality in a new way, and this is really cool. I say that because I do the same thing with image work.

Altering the image challenges men’s assumptions about themselves, as they are able to experience themselves on several new levels. If a guy continuously wears shirts that are cut too generously, for example, he may assume that all shirts feel sloppy to wear, but when he gets into a flattering and properly fitted shirt,  his assumption about fit and the experience of clothing has changed because he has experienced clothing in a way he didn’t know was possible. His world view has been altered for the better, and this is magical for me.

Magical leadership

When looking for commonalities between magic and leadership, Dan saw that both were about engagement and vision.

“Magicians and leaders must address a diverse group and form connections throughout that group, align them to a clear, common goal, and influence them in such a way that the end goal is reached for everyone’s benefit,” Dan says.

In his leadership speaking presentation, “Think Like a Magician – Achieve the Impossible” , “you’ll learn how magicians are able to turn the impossible into reality and you’ll gain valuable tools for harnessing the potential within yourself and your organization.” And that’s what it’s all about, dear readers – enhancing what is already there (but so often buried) and harnessing the potential of oneself. With this, comes the magic of confidence which can move a man to unbelievable levels!

People like people with confidence; confidence makes us feel safe somehow. I think that confidence is the most appealing characteristic of them all (what do you think?). Some of you will have worked for people who were good leaders and some will have worked for people who were not so good leaders. What was the difference? Confidence. Confident leaders know who they are, they know what they see, and can communicate their vision to the people they influence. (If leaders were not confident, would they be leaders at all?)

I have seen my clients reach the goals they set out to achieve at the start of our work because they have seen themselves from a different angle and their confidence shines through. A new angle and a fresh perspective can change what a guy sees in the mirror, in his psyche, and how people are struck by him. It can be quite amazing.


Reality is subjective and one of the reasons that I like Dan is that he understands this. He understands it so much that he works it into his act.

Everyone sees and experiences the world differently and each reality is unique. With 6 billion people on the planet, that’s a lot of perspectives, but no matter how empathetic we may be, we can really only see things through the lens of our own perspective. Dan sees unchallenged perspectives as “baggage” that can keep us closed by colouring our decisions and clouding our realities (i.e. barriers, often self-inflicted but in place due to outside forces), so he tries to open it up during his presentations and loosen preconceived notions with magic to spark our sense of wonder and possibilities.

In this video, Dan illustrates the power of perspective, whereby the audience experiences the magic “trick” of cutting a length of rope and then restores it, while Brian, the stage volunteer, experiences the “magic” of the rope miraculously reconnected by magic dust:

Brian’s sense of disbelief is suspended from his perspective on the stage because he sees the trick from the front end; the rope seems to be actually restored by magic and as any 5-year old would be, he is delighted by this. On the back-end, Dan is actually showing the audience how the trick works by showing the concealed bits of rope to be cut without going near the long piece. It seems that not everything is what it seems.

And this brings me back to the theatre, the place of illusion, where we think not in terms of what something is, but what it could be. As a theatre designer, I must be able to see the potential of something when I look at it (like how shot polyester can look like linen on stage) and apply this to my work as an image consultant when I consider men. Because I can see what could be, it is my job to shift the client’s perspective so that he is comfortable seeing himself from a new and non-judgemental perspective, allowing him to experience himself, clothing, and colour on a whole new level.

Image work is truly magical in this way because it gives a guy the opportunity to see himself in a way that he has never been seen before, giving him a chance to appreciate himself and feel good about projecting a natural increased confidence.

Challenging perspectives through magic or through image work opens people to new and sometimes unthinkable possibilities, paving the way to liberation through unguarded wonder and the suspension of assumption. When we are open to change and open to learning so that we can become our best, that is our magic moment – grab it!