Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Archive for April, 2018

Lucky Charms

Some of us will recall a TV commercial for a heavily sugared breakfast cereal named Lucky Charms, declared to be ‘indescribably delicious’.  Well, their consumption, no doubt, has been beneficial over time to the dentists whose clients have overindulged in such candied cereals when younger.

The more general concept of lucky charms, also known as talismans, has been widespread for ages.  I can remember as a youth having a yellow rabbit’s foot.  For many years they were quite a popular, inexpensive trinket to carry around.   (If they were real, perhaps the afflicted rabbits lived in abodes for damaged fauna, along with frogs in wheelchairs.)

In an article on the subject in the April edition of Toastmaster magazine, talismans are divided into two foundation types: rituals and objects.

Illustrating the first of these, there’s the story of one member of a Toastmasters club in India, who gazes into her own reflection in a mirror for confidence in speaking; she “calls her deep gaze routine her talisman – a ritual to empowerment”.  For many others, relaxation and breathing exercises done intently can also serve the purpose.

Object types stem from the concept of being “items believed to protect against evil forces”; they can also focus on the purpose of being lucky charms.

In Eurasian countries, the Evil Eye Amulet not only looks to ward off harmful effects of exposure to an Evil Eye, but also to bring happiness.  In Native American lore, there are dreamcatchers.  Individuals, of course, can and do produce their own material versions of talismans.  A Distinguished Toastmaster in the U.S. created a personal logo involving the heart, which she believes inspires confidence and connecting; she has turned this into a side business of logo-adorned jewelry (which she wears herself at important events) and t-shirts.

While it would seem almost anything could become a talisman, it is uncertain how auspicious some charms or rituals may be…

  • Painting red spots around one’s eyes does not ensure immunity if arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour
  • Squeezing soft toilet tissue for relaxation is unlikely to be encouraged in a public wash room
  • When preparing an effective amulet, if crystals aren’t available, one can try energy-efficient LED bulbs
  • Ice cubes with subliminal messages may cause drinkers to float some unintended proposals
  • A lucky hat is worn most successfully by someone who brims with confidence
  • Carrying a favourite medallion will be less effective when dealing with a magnetic personality
  • Wearing a lucky tie is more impressive when combined with wearing socks
  • A chain holding extracted wisdom teeth can help provide inspiration to compose biting satire

Remember, a lucky break isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be!

Weather Forecasting Axioms

Weather forecasting is relatively easy in some parts of the world because changes are so limited or slow to form: deserts for example, where wind changes are the greatest variable.  In other places, forecasting takes advantage of regularity: tropical rain forests for example, where predicting rain is like predicting daylight.

In the northern hemisphere we live in areas where weather patterns are highly variable, affected by both large-scale movements, such as El Nino, and frequently moving patterns, such as Colorado lows or chinooks.  These are enhanced by system air flows which collide, shifting wind patterns, as well as local geographic factors such as the predominance of high or low terrain.

Highly inconstant conditions like precipitation and temperatures are catalysts for shaky weather forecasts.

Despite the technical improvements of satellite imagery and computer models, the accuracy of predicting oncoming weather, often even for the next 24 hours, remains surprisingly elusive.  This is demonstrated frequently by differing forecasts for the same area from differing weather bureaus.

It seems the all-purpose declaration calling for sun, with cloudy periods, and a chance of rain (or snow, or hail, etc.) is often as valid as a much more detailed, scientific projection.

Using anecdotal evidence, one wonders if there are some weather-related axioms we can rely on.  Perhaps these…

  • One of the advantages of nighttime is that it hides bad weather events better
  • The use of percentage probabilities lets a forecaster deflect measurements into lottery odds
  • Simulation models are no more dependable per se because of 3D
  • Radio and TV stations will not concurrently publicize identical forecasts
  • Enjoying a treat such as popcorn may have to serve as the silver lining behind the dark cloud
  • One person’s significant weather difficulty is someone else’s excuse to procrastinate
  • Unless it’s computer generated, the voice relaying weather updates will editorialize even bad news in a cheery manner
  • No matter how much forecasts prove accurate, there is always room to complain about timing
  • If a baseball player can be in the hall of fame with a batting average of .300, then forecasters can be afforded some wiggle room for blame
  • The ‘stretch goal’ of weather forecasting is to be as accurate as predicting weather in the past



When Sales Skills are Life Skills

Many are the skills we can develop which help us to grow, making a positive ripple effect of our efforts on others, gradually wider and fuller.

Some aptitudes have wider applications than others – consider cooking versus negotiating skills.  The significance, the impact, of some talents may expand beyond the borders of their logical environments.

Take characteristics of time management and effectiveness, discussed in an ‘advice’ column in the March edition of The Insurance & Investment Journal.

Long-time speaker and advisor coach Jim Ruta examines how top life insurance producers maximize their business output, i.e. their sales success, by efficient use of deadlines and persistence in their practice.

For instance, what industry leaders do is, “They squish years of average advisor production into one”.  A major component in achieving this is adhering to creative, meaningful deadlines.

A good example of how having a deadlines mind-set is valuable is in connection with vacations.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that people accomplish more going into and coming out of vacations than if they’d worked straight through.  (I wish I had followed this adage more.)

Using his tips to advisors as guide, there are practices which can benefit many others in society, including…

  • Address a high priority opportunity or issue each day
  • Start each work day in front of an opportunity
  • Establish limited time periods in which to accomplish basic requirements, such as administrative
  • Bypass the basic ‘to do list’ concept, in favour of directly slotting in the activity in one’s calendar
  • Record measurable achievements, and use them as implicit motivation to keep improving with higher numbers, on an ongoing basis
  • Maintain using deadlines to getting things done in a quicker manner

Insofar as the precipitative ingredient of persistence, the value of this behaviour is illustrated in an anecdotal truism: sometimes prospects do a better job of selling ‘no appointments’ than advisors do in gaining appointments with them.  In that context, there’s a sale made in every such encounter.  This can be in part due to assumptions made by the advisors about the viability of eventually converting certain prospects.

As with other versions of fishing, a focus combining patience with persistence will periodically land a prize, perhaps even a big one.  The formula for advisors to absorb, namely a strong approach + inspiration + persistence = success, applies to those in the much wider ripple.

Opportunities to apply these techniques, be they relating to work, family, or leisure, are as discoverable as ever.