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70: A Body Of Work


This thing says I'm 70. Really?

I was going to title this piece "This Bod's For You" but I'm already pushing my luck with a selfie. I can assure you, this is not something I do on a regular basis. Or ever. It took every ounce of nerve just to hit the "publish" button.

Three months ago, August 27, to be precise, I was a beaten, bloated and bleary eyed survivor  of a VA detox unit. I was also 33 pounds heavier. I didn't take a "before" shot because it was something I didn't want a record of.

This piece is about how the human body responds to exercise at any age. As I have stated before, I just turned seventy and was trying to wrap my head around the realities of being an "old guy."

I was using exercise, like I use everything, as a drug to keep me sane. Having been in pretty good shape most of my life, I wondered if I had any muscle memory left. The human body, treated with respect, will respond in kind, I was delighted to find that my old friend exercise, never let me down.

A VA psychiatrist told me recently, "Bob, 70 is not old, not any more, so if you have any plans on retiring, think again. Back in the 70's you were a dead man, but not today." Well, that's the way I've always felt. I have never had a job I wanted to run away from and sit on a beach. I'm just not wired that way. And when I do re-invent myself, (again) I want the stamina I'll need to meet those rigors.

I'm setting myself up here, but I think it's important that you young(er) pups know that you never have to hang it up and sit on the sidelines. Ever. :)

After all, no one is more pleasantly surprised than me.


Free Fall


Single at seventy. Who'd a thunk? Actually, me. I've always been single, at least in my mind. Never had kids. Being the oldest of ten cured me of that. Always been a loner, kept my own counsel and usually minded my own business. Just had to find that someone who would put up with my isolationist world view. Did that. Now, everything I own is in a POD in Nashua, NH, percolating and waiting for orders.

I live, for now, in a small apartment with two little dogs, a bike, a guitar and my trusty computer. Gone are the trappings that damn near choked the life out of me. Two houses, three cars, enough computer and camera equipment to staff Fox News. What is it they say about boys and their toys?

There is a lightness in my step these days. The weight of all that responsibility having been shuffled during my long overdue stay at a VA Rehab. I moved from there to a hotel until I could get my bearings and then I started the long slow process of finding me again. I must admit to being shaky at first and disoriented for sure.

Being yanked off of alcohol and Xanax is no small feat. Done hastily or incorrectly, the Xanax by itself could have put me down. My blood pressure was testing its limits at that time.  I was in stroke territory most of that period. While I was there, my life and everything in it was being reshuffled. I awoke to a new reality. Today.

 Being single, once it gets out, is a very interesting place to be these days. Women in my demographic do not play games. There is no flirty gamesmanship, no eye batting behind a nervous smile. Time seems to be a'wastin'.

I am probably in the best physical condition of my life. I take each day as it comes and that means taking nothing for granted. I battled doctor prescribed anxiety meds as well as muscle relaxers and sleep medication for years. If I can survive that...

I was a nine on the misery index. Glad to get that "jones" off my back. Who knows what life has in store? Beats me, I'm still falling.


Standin' On Shaky Ground.


Logical people.....don't get it. The binary, black or white, good and evil, it's either in, or it's out kind of folks who can't see past their glasses. The kind that needs to have you coach them so they can upsell your concept to their management. "I got this, Bob." But they don't got this, Bob.

Scary. Logical people. They make your terra not so firma.

I remember once pitching a Spanish version of a patient education video to a group of pharma marketers and being given the third degree by a guy with a calculator wanting to know exactly how much we could make off of each video. I told him we weren't in the video business. It would be used as a marketing/teaching/sales, tool.

It went over like a fart in a space suit. I mean, who has answers like that to a concept? Not me, I'm an idea guy. Those people scare me.

Like the old joke: Know the difference between an elephant and a loaf of bread? When the reply is no, you casually mention that you won't be sending them to the grocery store any time soon. Kinda like that.

If the person you are pitching to has to be spoon fed, you have every right to feel shaky. It means when the whip comes down, and it will at some point, you will be one of the first to go. If they don't intrinsically have any idea  of your value and your potential down the road, start shakin'. You have my permission.

I missed a cut once at a pharma outfit and didn't know why. I was ready to go. More than ready, actually, I was packed. Then they gave me the news. "You still have a job  here if you want it."

After I unpacked and grieved over missing that big fat juicy package, I asked around as to motive. I asked because in all the time I was back in-house, no one had shown an inkling of understanding of my potential. My mama didn't raise no fools.

The ground started to rumble at this point. One manager even posited that I missed the cut because people liked me and liked working with me. "I mean, who doesn't like Bob?"

Well, I certainly wasn't going to give him any names.

Having spent a good deal of my career in sales, I was very good about asking open ended questions to get a feel on someone's thinking. What I usually got back from upper management was enough to tell my wife to start looking for housing back out west again. See the part about "mama" and "fools" again.

Years ago, I had a guy teach me the C Scale on the guitar. The next time I saw him, I showed him that I was able to pick out that same scale extended all the way down the neck. He told me how rewarding it was to help someone who could take things all the way out to their logical conclusions. I never forgot that. Take an idea an add to it.

Always ask those open ended questions when pitching  any creative offering. Try to gauge their understanding of what you are bringing to the table. That way, you will always know where you stand, shaky or not. You should never be surprised. Ever.

I wish I had a nickel for all the times I heard, "I don't get it." I felt the ground rumble every time.

They weren't gonna get it, cause I wasn't gonna give it. Get it?





See me, feel me, touch me .... pay me.

Drunken Salute

Catch 23?

You used me, but that's OK, it's what I do.

I was just looking through some old footage I produced for a company developing their values program. I met with the head of HR and she told the "team was stuck." They had reached a creative impasse if you like and besides shooting interviews and b-roll, she would like me to attend a developmental meeting and break the log jam. I, of course, couldn't wait. When I arrived on the designated morning, I was greeted by the V.P. of HR and the V.P. of Marketing. When the three of us entered the too small room I could see I had my work cut out for me.

There were at least 15 attendees and they were in the middle of  one of their all too frequent arguments. They paused long enough to hear my introduction and got right back to what they were arguing about. Now, here's what I thought was interesting, both V.P.s moved their seats from the table to the back wall. They were getting out of the line of fire. No sooner had they repositioned themselves, when someone lobbed, "What do you think, Bob?"

This was not my first rodeo and had seen the efforts of outsiders torn asunder. There was a veteran consultant sitting across from me taking copious notes and looking all the worse for wear. I said, "Democracy is hard, isn't it?" I didn't realize how hard democracy really was until I saw what they had so far. It sounded like the kids they were. Now I know why the V.P.s withdrew. They were in the middle of a pissing match in which there would be no winners. Only whiners. Good move. They're probably still in their positions. They are, I just checked.

So I went back to my studio and drafted up a few adult ideas that would not induce a gag when offered up to board members. I e-mailed a new graphic and suggestions to replace "cool" and "humble." What I got back was the unwillingness to change anything, even though they thought what I had put together was better by far. Ambushed, I thought. They didn't want to be the villain, so why not bring in the outside antagonist to don the bulls-eye outfit?

Long story short, we got through it but I'm wondering how they'll feel about their values once they get old enough to vote.

If you're in the middle of a project like this and you need to change targets, call me. (See title)

Bob O'Hearn
President & CEO

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Sizing them up

I pulled this piece out of a book I'm writing entitled, "Churn: And other gut feelings."  

Disappointment is a funny thing. If you disappoint someone either you give a shit or you don’t. It first happens when you're younger, and you don’t know what to make of it. You have to figure out what that person means to you before you can decide how to feel. With me, disappointing others became a way of life.

What would be considered unthinkable today on the disappointment scale, was considered every day life to me back then. “Oh, they’re yelling again, big deal, as long as they don’t hit me.”

Seems as I got older, my sphere of disappointees grew larger and I had to constantly bob and weave. Like running from a bunch of bookies I owed money to, they were always gunning for me. My evasive tactics could chop up my roaming territory in a big way. If I ended up in the wrong place, I could get hurt. Today, I can’t imagine having someone think really ill of me without getting ill myself.

It was that first day of school in your gut, every day. A feeling I had to adjust to all the way up into adulthood. Then it became an out by design. I remember breaking up with someone when I was older, offering, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Lessen their expectations. Always let them know how fucked up you are up front. You are aware also, that when someone tells you they are disappointed in you, they are manipulating you.

Bob O'Hearn
President & CEO
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