the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: success

The Recipe for a Happy and Successful Man

Editor’s Note: I know this post is rather odd.   Look at it as an experiment.

Every man instinctively knows the recipe for a successful and happy life. The recipe is as simple as the easiest homemade mac-n-cheese or a basic chicken soup.

The recipe for a man’s happiness contains three ingredients.  I call them Head, Heart, and Groin (or you can that last ingredient Dick, Cock, Johnson, or “the Big Fella,” whatever term you prefer).

If a man can satisfy the needs of each of these essential ingredients of his Life – Head, Heart, Groin – blending them artfully so they all work together reasonably well, he will be a happy man.

Let’s imagine your life as a soup. We are talking metaphor here, not a real soup, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was an actual “Head, Heart, and Groin” oxtail soup  served at some food cart in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

The happy man is our final completed soup, ready to serve.

Sadly, few men are anywhere near Master Chefs when it comes to their own soups. 99% of men are completely amateur cooks.  They brazenly overpower their soups with one ingredient, act cocky and don’t follow the recipe at all, and get so distracted that they burn the pot, or in extreme cases, even burn down the entire kitchen.

Head, Heart, and Groin.  What does that mean?

We all want to —

1) satisfy our intellectual curiosity (Head)

2) love and be loved (Heart)

3) connect physically with another (a polite way of saying “get laid”) (Groin)

These ingredients are easy to find.   If these items were sold in a typical suburban supermarket, we would find them right on aisle 1, next to the other common kitchen staples, such as Heinz Ketchup, Diet Snapple, and Ring Dings.

If the ingredients are so easy to find, and the soup so easy to make, why do we fail to be happy?  If the answer is as simple as a recipe scribbled on the back of an index card, why are there a million self-help books giving us advice?

Most men have one basic problem.   They were never taught to use a measuring cup, so the soup never turns out right.

In my own case, my soup of Life always turns out over-salted, too spicy, or bland.

It’s not that I’m lazy or stupid. I’m working on perfecting my soup all the time, trying new methods and techniques, even adjusting the amounts depending on the life situation.  I just can’t seem to get my soup to taste right.

When I am alone in the house, I over-think every move and action.  My soup is mostly Brain.   It is like I have created a matzoh ball soup with a giant matzoh ball plopped right in the middle of the bowl, allowing no room for the broth.  The matzoh ball absorbs the liquid, and the dish can hardly be called a soup anymore.

This does not create happiness.  Too much Brain makes a bad soup.

One of the reasons I am writing this post right now is because I’m procrastinating from “real” work.  I cannot think today. My mind won’t rest.  I feel like one big brain, with my body irrelevant, and my body doesn’t like it at all.  I just want to take a nap.

When I leave my house, I tend to experiment with my recipe, hoping to adjust the balance of the three ingredients, striving for that perfect soup, and a happy Life.  I do this as a necessity, knowing that Brain soup will never make you friends.   But as an only child, I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable with others.  I think I also have some co-dependency issues, as you can from five years worth of posts about my relationship with Sophia.  When I connect with others, both in real life and online, my soup becomes heavy on the emotion and schmaltz — Heart.

At first, a Heart-heavy soup seems like a perfect recipe for relationships, but too much heart is like too much salt or chicken fat, or in the case of the matzoh ball soup, a matzoh ball that wasn’t molded correctly, so sits in the soup all soggy, crumbling like the New York Jets in this year’s championship game at the mere touch of the spoon.

A Heart-heavy soup is more edible than the Brain-heavy soup, but most people would pass on it the second time.  It gives you heart-burn.   Men who approach life with too much Heart frequently grow irrational, even crazy.  They are rarely happy.  When you see me on Twitter getting petty with you, you know what type of soup I am preparing in my kitchen.

The third ingredient for a man’s happiness is very important, although we sometimes keep this hidden from view, like MSG in a Chinese restaurant.   Without getting into too many of the details, there are specific personal reasons why I’ve been overcompensating my soup with Groin.    Have you noticed how many of my blog posts are all Groin, with little Head or Hearth?  I don’t intend this to be the case.  I just sometimes let the soup kettle boil and boil with too much Groin inside the pot until it is practically jumping off the stove

Some men enjoy being all-Groin.  In matzoh ball soup terms, their soup contains two round matzoh balls, and the matzoh balls can be quite tasty, but the soup is absolutely bland, as if the chef forgot to add anything else to the broth.

I frequently make this type of Groin-oriented soup online, especially in my blog posts, but rarely in real life.  I would be happier if I added more Groin to my real-life soup, and more Brain to my virtual version.

So, there you have it.  The three simple ingredients, the recipe to a man’s happiness.

Of course, I struggle, just like the rest of you, in creating the perfect soup.  My soup is always too much of this, or too little of that.

Being a Master Chef in Life is a difficult task.

Virtual Blogging Conference – Day One – “Being Practical”

I was reading some of tweets from a recent blogging conference, and the tidbits of expertise sounded pretty trite.

“Find your tribe.”

“Comment freely.”

“Give to the community and the community gives back.”

C’mon, we all know that shit already. I knew that stuff when I was blogging for one week.

I remember during BlogHer, when Amy and I were doing our storytelling session, a new blogger stood up, asking an earnest question. After hearing the two of us talk for a while, she wanted to know if she was “writing her blog wrong.” This freaked me out, because I had just spent the last fifteen minutes “explaining” the rules of good storytelling, and I suddenly realized that this woman had actually LISTENED to what we were saying and was taking it seriously, as if we actually knew the definitive answer to the question, “What makes a good story?” I found myself getting pissed off at this woman. Couldn’t she see that Amy and I were nice people, but ultimately frauds?

“Don’t listen to what we are saying,” I told her. “If you follow what we tell you, you will write a crappy blog. You need to listen, understand it, and then say, “F*ck you, I’m doing it my way.” Then, you will have a good blog.”

Of course, I didn’t really believe that either. So much for being a good teacher.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about the practical aspects of writing online rather than artistic ones. Let’s face it. Having a personal blog just doesn’t bring in the chicks as much as it used to. I met these bloggers last week, and there was little interest in personal blogging. Most of the talk was about book deals, blogging conferences, blogging summits, marketing opportunities, and staffs of writers on blogging magazines. Half of my blogging friends have moved away from their personal blogs to primarily write elsewhere. They are smart. Everyone needs money to live, including bloggers.

I have no complaints. Blogging has been good for me. I like my personal blog. But for many of us, especially if you have some ambition, it is not enough. Most of my writing for pay has nothing to do with blogging, so it has been a vanity publication for myself. Am I the only one who is noticing a growing lack of respect for the old-fashioned “blogging for self-therapy?” Even mothers, who used to say they blogged for “community,” now say they are in it for commerce. A mompreneur is cool. Blogging because you are lonely at home is kinda pathetic. Male bloggers have the most pressure. What male blogger hasn’t been asked by his buddies —

“So, dude, how much do you make on your blog?”

“Uh, nothing.”

“So, why are you doing it?”

“It is a creative outlet.”

“Man, if I had all that free time, I would at least be watching porn and jerking off!”

“I don’t really consider writing my blog as “jerking off.”

“I see. What you are saying is “Blogging” IS a code word for jerking off. I knew it! That’s cool that you can be home and jerk off. You had me there for a second with that blog writing shit. No real man is gonna be working for no money unless he lost his dick down the drain.”


Today, I will be running a Virtual Blogging Conference on this blog. There will be only one person attending this conference. His name is Mike.

Here is Mike.


YOU — all of you who have come to this post — have been hired as speakers at the conference. There will be no pay, but free virtual potato chips will be available in the lobby.

Today’s session is titled “Being Practical.”

Our job is to help Mike.

Mike just started blogging last week. He is a nice guy. He has a funny and likable writing style. He lives in Tulsa. He writes about his wife and his dog. Sometimes he writes about the funny things that happen at his office, where he is a graphic designer.

As a blogger, he has a goal. Within one year, he wants to have an extremely popular blog, make at least 500 dollars a month in ad revenue, win a blogging award, be written about in the New York Times, have an article published in the Huffington Post, be a keynote speaker at BlogHer, have a book deal with Random House, get a free trip to Disney World to blog about my experience, be followed by big-shot tech blogger Robert Scoble on Twitter, and gotten drunk with the Bloggess and French-kissed her at a Christmas party.

You may not care about any of these things. But Mike does. And he has paid good money to come to this conference. Our job is to figure out the best way to help him accomplish his simple goal. Seriously. In the comments.

Dear Michael

Dear Michael,

Last night, on Dancing with the Stars, the final dance was a ridiculous group number to the classic song, Rockin’ Robin.   This song has been around forever, and has been released by several different artists, but without a doubt, my favorite version is yours, back from the early days. It captures your youthful energy, years before you became the King of Pop.   You were a star, even as a child.   And what an amazing child you were!   What talent.   I actually remember the days of the Jacksons, and those white spacesuits you would wear in your TV specials.

After “Dancing with the Stars,” I thought about you.   I watched a couple of your old videos on YouTube.   I love the Afro from the seventies! Everyone knew you were a brilliant singer and dancer back then, but no one expected your fame to shoot through the roof in the eighties.   I can’t think of any musical career like yours.   Is there anyone anywhere in the world who has never danced to a song on “Thriller?” (My favorite album is still “Off the Wall”)

I remember once being in Thailand, being driven in a tuk-tuk by a driver playing “Billie Jean” on the radio.

You were a role model to me, a symbol of a what could happen when you are talented.   You took your childhood talent and ran with it, eventually reaching the pinnacle of fame. You were the King of Pop!

And then you just went bonkers.   You seemed miserable.   You became the butt of jokes.   All my life, I was under the illusion that artistic success, fame, and fortune were the goals of life — and this would bring happiness to the one who attains it.   What went wrong with you?   Why were you fooling around with your face so much?   Who cares if you are gay/straight?   Didn’t anyone tell you that your obsession with young boys was unhealthy?   If I can find a good therapist in Los Angeles, couldn’t you?   It should have been as easy for you as… like your own song goes… ABC.

I hope you get your act together.   Maybe one day, you can go on tour again, maybe a couple of weeks in Las Vegas.   It would be a sellout.   I would go, unless it is really really expensive.   If so, I would just watch it on HBO a few months later.

If you don’t want to heal yourself for yourself, do it for me.   It makes me feel sad to think that you’re miserable.   If the King of Pop can’t be happy with everything he has, what hope is there for any of us?!

I am a Success

top of mountain 

Hey, everybody!

I just want to tell you all that I'm doing great.  I really feel good about myself.  I'm proud of my accomplishments, I like the way I look, and I take pride in my wonderful qualities.  I feel success at my fingertips and I KNOW it will happen for me.  Yes, I can have it all — LOVE, PASSION, SUCCESS!

Of course, this morning I was a complete mess.  I was miserable.  I was depressed over a multitude of things.  I was about to throw a few Prozacs into my mouth, but I remembered that the last time I took some, it made me penis feel numb —  and that's way too much sacrifice, even for someone when they're depressed.

Then, tonight, Sophia and I ended up going to a seminar about "Success."  It's a long story about how we ended up there, so don't ask.

But I do know now that SUCCESS IS GOOD.  Everyone respects successful people.  We admire them.   We like to be around them.  All the top blogs are written by confident, successful people.  That's because they have VISION.  

Think you're a loser?  Well, you're right.  But you can change things RIGHT NOW by not thinking of yourself as a loser.  Think of yourself as a WINNER.   If you think positive and BELIEVE in yourself, those things you want for yourself WILL HAPPEN.  Do you want a beach house, visualize it!  It will come.  Be like Jim Carrey when he was an unemployed actor.  He wrote a million dollar check out to himself and carried it around as a reminder of what he will BECOME!

So, from now on, I am a changed man.   No more blog posts ranting and raving and complaining like a loser.  No more mocking of myself in a self-deprecating, weak, sissy-boy manner.  If I am going to use humor, it should be at YOUR expense, not my own.  After all, I am the confident and successful one.  You're the one who deserves to be laughed at.  From now on, this is a blog where an employer can come and read it, then say, "Now that is a confident and successful man, one who I want to hire as my vice president of Employee Confidence."

During tonight's success seminar, we were asked to answer these questions:

1)  What is one accomplishment you're proud of?
2)  What is one physical trait you're proud of?
3)  What is one character trait you're proud of?

These questions were not easy for me to answer.   Are my eyes really the BEST part of me?   Is "nice guy" really an interesting character trait?  Are my SAT scores in math my greatest single accomplishment?  

For everything I thought about that I was proud of, I countered with something that "brought me down."  

"What about something good that I wrote?" 

"Oh yeah?  What about losing a writing job with "Sesame Street" after writing an inappropriate sketch with Big Bird?"   

"I guess I'm proud of being an honest person."  

"You're separated from Sophia.  Are you proud of that?"

In fact, answering these tough questions made me so nervous —

Hey, wait a minute, why I am I telling you this?   Why do I want to tell any of you bloggers out there about my insecurities?   Do you ever see Oprah talk about her insecurities?  No, successful people push their insecurities aside.   That is why they are successful.   Others come to them looking to lead THEM out of THEIR insecurities.  

So  —

I just wanted to say that everything is great with me.  I am SUPER HAPPY.  I am super SEXY!  I am confident in my job search.  I see great things for my marriage and love life.   I have so much POSITIVE ENERGY, it's practically shooting out of my ears.

Aw, fuck — who am I fooling?  I'm going to take a Prozac and go to bed.

Neil's Penis:  "Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!"

What I Learned on the Internet Today


Women, you’re Not a Failure if You’re Not in a Relationship

(terrific post by Stephanie Klein)

"It’s amazing how we think of ourselves as failures because something doesn’t work out.  Yes, we see it as a learning experience.  We see it as "for the best," but really, deep down, we worry that we’re failing at this.  At being with another person.  At making it work.  Instead of realizing, maybe it just wasn’t the right person.  No, screw maybe.  You’re not a failure when a relationship ends.  The same way you’re not a success when one begins.  Too many women are beginning to measure their worth on the merits of their relationship.  "But I was the only woman in that room without a ring on my finger, and it just…"  NO.  Stop that.  I’ve been her, too.  I’ve been in and out of "us," the kind of "us" with a ring.  It didn’t make me more of anything.  And it didn’t make me less once I was alone.  You’re failing yourself when you measure you that way.  Instead, value yourself on the strength of your female friendships, on the wise old women you can turn to for guidance.  On your ability to make people laugh, or think, or know that you’ll always be there for them.  Even when they feel like the failure."

Men, you are a Failure if You Show Any Fear

Self-Confidence — How to Develope the Self-Confidence You Need to Succeed in as Few as 31 Short Days!

"We should not apologize to ourselves. A sense of the dignity of life, and the sovereignty of the soul, should keep us strong and positive. We should be too big for the little habit of excuse-making. Self-depreciation never won a single battle of life. It has, on the contrary, killed ambition, weakened the will, and incapacitated thousands of men for noble work. Apology is weakness on parade. Avoid it. Observe some man who comes toward you, walking with short, jerky steps, his dress careless, the corners of his mouth turned down, keeping well to one side of the walk. As he passes, he gives you a hasty, frightened glance, which tells you unmistakably of despair, discouragement, and failure. The man’s whole life probably has been negative in its character and outlook. The daily, and perhaps hourly, streams of false suggestions poured into his mind have at last overwhelmed him and his life closes in an eclipse.

Many a man tormented by fear and timidity does not realize what a flood of negative thoughts daily affects him. He hedges himself in with suggestions of limitation, incapacity, and unworthiness. He constantly thinks not of how he will succeed, but of how he will surely fail. When Washington Irving was asked to preside at a public dinner to Charles Dickens, upon his visit to America, he hesitated and said he would surely fail. It was pointed out to him that he was really the man properly to direct that high function, and at last was prevailed upon to accept. But to many friends he repeated his fear that he would fail. The night came, and before a brilliant gathering Irving arose to speak. He made an excellent beginning, but suddenly stopped and brought his remarks to a close. As he sat down, he whispered to a friend on his left, "There, I told you I would fail, and I did!""

Women, you Can Be Successful as a Stay-at-Home Mom:

Our Life:  Feeling Successful as a SAHM

"It’s taken a long time but I’ve finally realized that my achievements are extraordinary every single day. It is this recognition that I have given myself that doesn’t just make me able to mop another floor, wipe another nose, scrub another toilet, prepare a meal and not really expect a whole lot in return and be able to do it without grumbling and complaining, but to actually do these things with joy. I can wash the same clothes every other day, shop for the same groceries, run kids to the same practices and lessons each week, and know that I’m successful, because I know if I wasn’t doing those things that may at times seem unappreciated, that my family members lives would not be as pleasant or enjoyable as they are. In the same way that a nurse, or a doctor takes care of yet another patient (Hopefully because it makes them feel good) or a marketing person comes up with yet another witty ad, or a lawyer closes yet another real estate deal and feels successful for it when they have been acknowledged momentarily with a monetary or sometimes even maybe more satisyingly with a personal compliment or thank you, I can feel successful when I have found a knew way to deal with my children’s arguments or created a new meal that "almost" everyone liked, or knitted a new baby blanket for the newest baby coming, or delivered a meal to a neighbour or freind in need, or spent some time doing one of my favorite things, writing because it brings me joy. If we go about these things with a positive happy attitude, not expecting anything more then the realization that we are raising a happy, loving family then that can be a reward in itself and we will truly enjoy it."

Men, you are  Committing Career Suicide as a Stay-at-Home Dad:

from the Wall Street Journal

"When Steven Greenfield, a 40-year-old software-development administrator in San Jose, Calif., started looking for work early last year, he found he had some explaining to do. Managers kept quizzing him about his decision to stay home the prior four years to raise his three young daughters.

One interviewer asked him if he was gay or "just weird, since ‘stay-at-home dad’ isn’t something a man is willing to admit to," he was told. A second interviewer accused him of failing to keep current with technology because "raising kids was too time-consuming," although the interviewer never bothered to ask Mr. Greenfield about any of his specific technological abilities.

A third, informed of Mr. Greenfield’s stay-at-home status, simply seemed at a loss for words. The interview wandered off track, and ended quickly."

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