How can I cope with embarrassment?

Smile and take a deep breath! Embarrassment is like a plot-twist in a movie that you didn’t see coming – it’s a shocking surprise. And like Simon Huggins mentions: ride it out.

When you feel embarrassed: smile, breathe, and allow it. Let the moment live. Then get right back to building your startup, writing your book or practicing your speech.

Oh, and practice doing something embarrassing “on purpose” so that you feel okay with feeling embarrassed.

BTW, embarrassment is something you could blog about. We can all relate to feeling embarrassed.

The Price of Becoming a Badass

My friend Zoe Ventura was showing off her new roller skating jump, then fell on her ass shortly after landing. She got back up, dusted herself off, and skated around the Reno skate park and executed the exact same jump – this time balancing herself differently after her landing. And all’s well – minus a nice raspberry on her hip.

The price of becoming a badass is frequently falling on your ass!
The price of becoming a badass is frequently falling on your ass!

Using “No” To Stay On Your Path

Sometimes, misery comes from saying “yes” to something/someone you should have said “no” to. Then you have to back out of it and reestablish your “path.” Sometimes family and friends will make you feel guilty, be angry with you, make fun of you or ignore you until you “give in” to something you really should say “no” to. Learn to say “no” when asked to leave your “path.”

It All Starts With A Single Pebble

As I update my life’s bio, I gotta give a big shoutout to William Hanford Lee Jr. In the summer of 1983 or 84 (I can never remember), we were all standing in the parking lot of Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, CA, just after performing in The Best of Broadway for a couple’a weeks. Billy (as he was known at the time) asked me if I wanted a job doing production layout at his family’s newspaper, The Observer.

Since I didn’t know anything about newspaper production layout, Billy taught me everything from the ground up: Rubylith, Amberlith, double-truck layouts, positioning copy, proper margins, border tape, cutting proper 90-degree-angle border corners (which I always sucked at), pica pole rulers, X-ACTO knives, waxing machine, enlarging photos, fixer and stop-bath in the darkroom. EVERYTHING!

This exposure to layout, graphics, and photo enlarging equipment would carry me on to eventually lead a 7-person team for The PennySaver’s art department a few years later in Rancho Cordova, CA.

In 1988, I was able to easily step into the role of designing t-shirt art for Sunrise Sales in Spark, NV, with all the same skills that Billy first taught me at The Observer.

From there my brother-in-law at the time, Jim Minor, asked if I’d be interested in replacing his advertising agency’s retiring art director. “Sure”, I said. It was here that I first transitioned from doing graphic design manually to using a Macintosh, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator.

Today I design my own t-shirts using Affinity Designer, and sell them online at

Thanks, Billy Lee, for throwing a single pebble into the water that continues to ripple across my life.

Losing vs Loser

Has your favorite sports team ever lost? Losing is part of the game. All hail the game!

I lost this weekend’s District 39 Toastmasters International speech contest at the District level (round 4 of 6). Didn’t even place. And when the top-three winner’s were announced, and I wasn’t one of them, I was immediately handed two options:

1. Bewildered

2. Be grateful

Rich Hopkins: “It’s ok to be both.”
Me: “As long as I firmly land on Be Grateful as soon as possible, then I can move forward with extreme freedom.”

John McCain: “In your opinion, what made the winning speech better?”
Me: “Keerthi Karnati‘s District-winning speech (at District 39’s 2017 Spring Conference) was simply a deeper, heart-felt, funny, scary, well-presented speech. And only Be Grateful allows me to see that clearly.”

Michael Stephens: “I don’t think it’s that you’ve “lost”; I just think it’s that someone else “won”… great job:)”
Me: “I firmly believe in meritocracy. I also believe in losing as a normal part of living – everyone should not get a trophy. That’s one thing I like about Toastmasters, there are clear distinctions between trophy and no trophy. Like winning, losing is equally a natural possible outcome of participating.”

Robin Robinson: “Next topic, sportsmanship and being a good player. Competing with dignity, and dealing with the outcome graciously, is a worthwhile skill. And you did that. Bravo.”
Me: “Sportsmanship is a big deal to me. I’m all for analysing my own loss, but pointing fingers is definitely not cool. So, yeah, sportsmanship has huge value.”

Losing vs Loser

Losing is part of honing one’s craft. The loser stops honing.

(To move forward) I must be willing to admit that I lost

I have to admit that I lost the speech contest in order to re-calculate my destination. Losing a speech contest and turning down the wrong street are the same. They both require self-realization and re-calculation. I feel a certain freedom when I look in the mirror and accept my loss. Owning it is liberating!

An Important Lesson About “What’s Best”

April 3, 2017, I presented my 2017 Toastmasters International Speech Contest speech for the first time out loud in front of my Capital City Toastmasters club. Plenty of rough-and-tumble mistakes, including a totally botched opening. It was awesome! You can view the full “Mistakes & All” video here.

The third point in my speech was discovering the perfect music that allowed me to “flow” while doing my college homework. The feedback from my Toastmasters club was enlightening:

  1. Some people do best when they study in complete silence.
  2. While others do best when they’re listening to Simon & Garfunkel softly in the background.

Find your best studying/homework/focusing environment.

Does Your Life Feel A Little Flat? Feeling Stuck?

Fired up iTunes, started playing a favorite dance tune from Nightmares on Wax’s Boiler Room mix that pumps up my creativity and productivity – and realized: I bet I can make a few minor adjustments with the Equalizer.

The same is true in life. You don’t have to stay stuck at “flat.” You have options. Choose a new filter.

Try a new outlook. A new point-of-view. Your life is adjustable. And you decide your mood, your reaction to every situation. Just like in iTunes, pull up your equalizer and make a minor adjustment. The results will be major! You’ll become more productive, more focused, more creative.

Is Your Life Feeling A Little Flat? Try a new filter.