3 Reasons Why We Don’t Finish Things

It’s true: I almost didn’t finish my new music album.

Between my personal, creative and corporate lives, I have seen incompletion patterns amongst my peers and within myself. Based on the experiences, I believe the 3 major reasons why we don’t finish things are:

1. A lack of painful consequences (or allowing “acceptable” consequences to take place);
2. A lack of accountability to other people (or to oneself);
3. Focusing on perfection or a similarly unachievable goal.

To crush these blockers, I recommend playing a game: The Intentional Interference Game. The only rule is to intentionally / purposefully interfere with your established work patterns. I played the I.I. Game and won shortly after gameplay began.

First, I gave myself a painful consequence: I booked a date for mastering my record. If I missed the date, I would likely hurt my relationship with the studio and lose money. I foresaw pain!

Second, I created some accountability with some of my peers by promising them a copy of the album, also by a certain date. I knew if I didn’t come through with these particular peers, they would be asking me about it and I didn’t want to sheepishly say that I was “still working on it.” I felt accountability!

Third, I drew a line at 97% “perfection” for my album. Of course, I believe that a line can be drawn at any point for any project. This particular line meant that I had to make a few artistic compromises, but it allowed me to move forward. I forewent perfection!

I became motivated to finish what I had been working on. The 3 reasons for not finishing things and my game to combat them I hope are straightforward. Perhaps you can try playing the I.I. Game to leap incompletion hurdles in your own world?

dyniss the second fistful album cover 400 px

This album wasn’t getting finished until I played the Intentional Interference Game.

The Importance of Interviews

Having recently been interviewed on independent web variety station www.thatchannel.com, I was reminded of the importance of interviews. I have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed (and interviewed others) in different scenarios: as a white-collar worker, as a music artist and as a regular fellow in different social situations. In my experience, therefore, I have been led to believe that there are three categories for interviews:

1. Job: the stereotypical interview for employment or to join an organization;
2. Media: not just for celebrities — think about casual street passersby for news sources or interviews for leaders in not-for-profits, communities, businesses or politics;
3. Life: like on a first date or when you meet new people.

In my professional and non-professional opinion, I believe that all three are important because they can indicate how solidly we know ourselves – inside and out. Other people will sense this even when they’re not trying to. If we interview well, it can lead to business opportunities or social opportunities.

I think I did okay in the interview above – I was relaxed, tried to steer any heaviness to lighter territory, didn’t stumble too much, but did offer too many “umms” and wandering responses. Forgivable, but what does this have to do with knowing myself?

If we know ourselves, we should be able to communicate whatever lies within us easily and authentically.

A person’s ability to summarize information succinctly and clearly for any recipient, while supporting the process in the other direction is a sign of a good communicator. I’ve read plenty of success-oriented books and articles over the years where authors have argued how a strong command of communication can help anybody succeed in any realm. A general communicating with his troops, a CEO communicating with his associates, an entertainer communicating with his audience – it’s likely that most leaders in the world would not be in their positions without very good communication skills.

I have greatly enjoyed interviewing on both sides of the proverbial table. It’s like a game of chess with many options to think about at any given moment, but a winner or a loser are not always required. Since the thinking required for interviewing can also be compared to a muscle, similarly, you can build it with practice. If I had done an interview the day after the one shown above, all things remaining equal, I know it would have been better thanks to a recently friendly game of chess and some muscle memory.

PS: Role-playing for interviews in my opinion is the best way to get better (other than doing interviews for real). Find a friend or family member who can role-play with you.

March 2015 Newsletter

This is a blog post duplicate of the recent email newsletter, so I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve been up to, what’s to come and what you might like to leverage.  I intend to provide you with something valuable to read or pursue.

As you may already know, I’ve been pursuing medium and large organizations to speak and play live at.  There’s a separate sister website for that here.  By blending public speaking with songs, I create “Team Bonding” (a diet version of “Team Building” if you know what that is).  If you work for an organization that gets at least forty people together for meetings or events, then consider messaging me.  I would add fun and interaction to your organization’s yearly / quarterly / special event or meeting.  If you empowered me to book a live show or write a song for any organization, then I would offer you some personal compensation.  Message me if that sounds like your new side business.  🙂   If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then click on the below YouTube link — it will lead to a recent corporate holiday show video.  You’ll get an idea of what I’m up to:

dyniss live show corporate

At a corporate show.

Direct link to video — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPZEL0UZEAs

One of my recent public live shows was Wonderfest (see photo below), whose theme was “empowerment.”  You can always visit my website shows page for future gigs.  The next public show is called Vegan Rock.  I’d love to see you there on Thursday April 9 at Supermarket Bar in Toronto.  Don’t be afraid of the title of the show — all diet lifestyles are more than welcome to support this fundraiser for the Toronto Vegetarian Association.  PS there will be amazing baked goods to enjoy.

dyniss live wonderfest

Live at Wonderfest.

I’ve been studying the worlds of psychology and self-improvement to be a more effective “thinkertainer.”  I’ve subsequently been blogging a bit about the better related books I’ve been reading.  My newest post is on the concept of dishonesty.  Are we naturally dishonest?  The proven answer is that we all are, some of the time.  If you’re interested in learning more about that surprising phenomenon, you could click through to read more:
Direct link to blog post — http://dyniss.com/are-we-naturally-dishonest/

I’m in a group called the Toronto Songwriters Association.  Each month, we agree on a songwriting assignment to complete and deliver the next month.  This month, I delivered a fresh original song called, “What Do You Think?”  The assignment was to use or be inspired by somebody else’s writing.  I used my step-grandmother’s poetry.  The resultant song questions what goes on in other humans’ minds and is probably good enough to make it into a future album.  Next month’s assignment is to write something about, “a surprise.”  PS: If you’d like to have me create a custom song for yourself for any reason (e.g. a gift for your loved one), then message me.

I’m still working intermittently on my upcoming album, “The Second Fistful.”  It’s going to be superbly interesting because it will integrate around fifty spoken voices into the songs.  I don’t have a release date yet, but “it’s getting there!”

If you’re in the music business like yours truly, then you might be interested in hanging out with me at one of two Toronto groups I’ve been attending regularly — “Balanced Breakfast” or “BS Fridays” — both of which are great for chatting with like-minded individuals.  Message me for an invite.

1. “Thinkertain” the audience at your event with inspiring speaking and songs. The audience becomes part of the performance.
2. Write and record a world-class song for you, your loved one, or your organization.

Contact Dyniss here.

Visit and interact with Dyniss on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. (social)
Recent head shot of Dyniss

Are We Naturally Dishonest?

I have been studying psychology independently to help me to do better work as a “thinkertainer.” This is a quick review with personal references regarding my recent read, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves, by Dan Ariely, PhD.

Controlled experiments prove that we are all somewhat dishonest, no matter how honest we think we may be. Ariely proves this partially through a series of his (and/or his close colleagues’) controlled scientific social experiments. To reach some conclusions, they used highly similar experiments and methodology, while being occasionally speculative. But there were plenty of other experiments which weren’t their own. The results on a whole were thought-provoking and believable enough for this fact-seeker.

If we are dishonest in any world: business, financial, personal, social — it’s not usually based on our own cost/benefit analyses, i.e. “Can I get away with it?” Rather, it’s usually based on how far we feel we can stray from an acceptable vision of ourselves. “Will I still accept myself after I commit this act?” Ariely calls the space for this question the “Fudge Factor,” whose width varies from person-to-person. If I am a recreational golfer and still feel okay about my own integrity by moving the ball with my foot, then I may indeed move the ball with my foot.

But other things can counter this phenomenon. If there are “reminders” about dishonesty (like a sign at the golf club discouraging cheating), or if I am being watched, or if I have never tried that particular type of dishonesty before, then chances are lower that I will follow-through with the questionable act.

Rationalization was another exciting section of the book. Quite simply, we make up stuff all the time to provide “answers” for ourselves or for other people. We rationalize everything from retail purchases, to why we said or did something when we might not actually know why. One of Ariely’s examples I had lived through in my corporate life: A leader whom you admire wants to ever-so-slightly massage numbers or facts for the sake of making a report look good. You end up rationalizing the slight change as doing good for him or her, while doing a good job for the company. We think we’re being altruistic. Take such an example and expand it — you’ll get results like the Enron disaster or the 2008 financial crisis.

Oh, and let’s not forget about observing other people being dishonest — it greatly increases our chances of acting in the same way. In fact, Ariely had more than one example of organizations refusing to use his proven methods of reducing dishonesty in the workplace because of the existing cultures amongst the employees. I have also seen this first-hand in more than one large organization. If we as a group have something to prove to shareholders for example, then everybody colludes quietly. There is no punishment, so it becomes part of doing business normally. Unfortunately, most organizations and governments still think internal solutions are increased transparency or zero tolerance — but those solutions simply do not work.

I highly recommend this book. On a personal note, it helped me to re-evaluate what I have been saying on “auto-pilot” in certain situations. I believe that with some practice, I shall be able to slightly increase my self-integrity — and in keeping with Ariel’s comments — not just my self-perception of integrity.

Hire me to “thinkertain” your audience with inspiring speaking and interactive songs.

dishonesty transit slugs

It’s not really dishonest if they’re charging us too much, is it?

Can you see inner beauty?

Valentine’s Day triggers us to think more deeply about our romantic partners. This week, I encourage you to think more deeply about everybody else, too. Can you see inner beauty in somebody you know? Can you see an admirable quality for the first time in a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even somebody whom you’ve never met in person? The benefit of seeking the best in others can increase your emotional well-being. Try thinking well of anybody in the world intentionally and single-mindedly for 10 seconds straight. You’ll likely feel better afterward.

For Valentine’s Day, I am releasing a remix and video of one of my songs (“All the People”). It declares how beautiful all people are. Click here to see it on YouTube or watch it below. Please share the video if you “love” it. 🙂

What can Dyniss the Man of Song do for you?
1. “Thinkertain” the audience at your event with inspiring original songs. The audience becomes part of the performance.
2. Write and record a world-class song for you, your loved one, or your organization.
647.870.8733 cell
contact[at]dyniss[dot]com email

Carrots and Sticks Must Die

This blog post is a quick book review with related comments for Daniel Pink’s Drive. I have been studying psychology books in this genre because I take a personal interest in motivation for people (and for people working in organizations). In fact, I have written songs that are related to this theme.

I have been increasingly appreciative of books that are highly scientific, quote controlled experiments and leverage peer-reviewed papers. This is because there is a lot of written information about motivation techniques which is speculative and/or steeped in tradition.

I’ll define “steeped in tradition” as something that I have personally experienced. I worked in several organizations where the “carrot and stick” method of motivation was highly dominant and was pursued to get more out of their people. In other words, “more money” or “IF you do this, THEN you get that.”

What the book explains scientifically is that this traditional way of engaging employees only works for menial / mechanical / repetitive tasks — and even then, can eventually peter out. If a person has real responsibilities, is required to think creatively, needs to problem solve, etc. — not only does it have a non-effect past a very short term, but it can in fact have a negative effect on the individual’s performance!

How can a negative effect even be possible? Virtually every business in the Western world seems to think compensation is the gateway to employee motivation. Virtually every business is incorrect. The same problem doesn’t just apply to employees: it can apply to your family members or friends (if you try to motivate them).

Once “competitive” compensation is given to an employee (which brings a person into neutral motivation), Pink offers the 3 real motivators:

1. Autonomy (you have control over what you do and when you do it)
2. Mastery (you are becoming better and better at something)
3. Purpose (you are working on something that has a greater meaning to you)

I realized that these real motivators are sorely lacking in a lot of jobs. Maybe you have some Purpose working for a hospital, but do you get to choose what you do and are you getting better at it regularly? It helps me understand why employee retention or motivating your teenager can be such a challenge.

The book explains much more in an engaging way.

Book me (Dyniss) to engage your audience with interactive songs.

carrot stick string bait motivation

“If / then” rewards cause limited or negative motivation. Do you know the 3 real motivators? Image “The Bait” via Creative Commons via Flickr via nist6dh.

Is your time worth more than anything else?

Your time could arguably be your most valuable possession. Certainly you have shared some time with somebody before and experienced how meaningful it can be.

When we kindly share our time, we tend to feel better about ourselves, about the recipient and about the relationship with the recipient. It’s quite easy to share time — only the intention is required to begin — and even giving a little bit could have a great effect.

This holiday season, if you want to feel better than you already do, you could try giving a bit of your time to somebody. Anybody.

You already know how to share your time in traditional ways (keep doing that), but here are a few very modern / easy ways:

1. Try writing an email (or replying to an email) using more thoughtfulness and more words than you would normally ever use.
2. Try communicating directly with somebody in more meaningful detail on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram than you normally ever would.
3. Try finding (and then sharing) a link or an attachment of a relevant song, video or article with somebody whom you might not normally share anything with.

People will notice. However, as with all giving, I recommend that you don’t expect anything back — even a response. What always counts is what you did and the intention behind it.

My personalized Christmas song, “Hey Sophie” carries the same message. It’s about giving things that money can’t buy. At ChristmasDedication.com, you can send e-cards of this message for only the time it takes to type somebody’s email and whatever message you care to share.

clock hands time roman numerals

Is time worth more than anything else? “Old Clock” image via Creative Commons via Flickr via William Warby.

Does your day job feel sucky?

Does your day job feel sucky?

It’s possible that you’ll think it sucks less when you consider facts like this one: a quarter of the world’s population has to spend an entire year’s wages to buy the computer/ phone/ tablet you’re reading this email on.

Thinking about a big picture like that can make you feel happier because it can trigger your sense of gratitude.

Does your day job still feel sucky?

It’s possible that your day job (or anything else that’s a responsibility — like a simple household chore) still feels sucky because you’re running around like crazy trying to deal with it.

However, in every case, you’re probably doing what you’re doing because you have an underlying goal. That goal might be to pay the bills each month or make your house look nice for a visitor. Is the underlying goal worth it? Can the goal be modified? If you need to stick with the exact same underlying goal, then try this: think about and focus on the goal intensely for 10 seconds. Just doing that can make you feel happier because you answer “why” you’re doing what you’re doing.

Hopefully the above thought techniques can help you feel happier about everything from selling vacuum cleaners to taking care of your grandma.

See and hear my new music video about this concept through the song, “I Am Running” on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcTVY7fYY1A

job career day sucks sucky running run

Video image from Dyniss’ original song, “I Am Running.” There are ways to tackle the feeling of a sucky job or a responsibility.

Remembrance Day 2014 – Neutrality

Is it possible that there were more articles and more coverage than I have ever seen before on the topic of Remembrance Day in Canada today?  If so, I would guess that it was thanks to the very recent attacks on Canadian military personnel on home soil.  But what I would like to address, which I didn’t happen to read in my media sampling, is how we can look at one thing in more than one way.

In my Facebook news feed and in the comments sections of a few newspapers I perused today, I saw two opposing views of Remembrance Day:  1. We must remember and honour the fallen from war;  2. War is terrible, so the military’s history and current existence should be excluded from our attention or support. I originally wanted to add the word, “glamourizing” to the 2nd view (I saw it used today), but decided against because I don’t think it’s applicable for the traditions of November 11th.

To be transparent, I used to lean towards the 2nd view.  Such a view can be met with condemnation by peers because it is less popular and because I think it makes it look like somebody has “no heart.”  As I got older, I came to appreciate both views quite equally.  Yes, war is terrible, but it will always happen (in the foreseeable future of humankind) and there will always be victims, likely on every side.

If one can understand that young men and women sometimes enter the military because it is what their peers or family do, or because it is a relatively easy economic or procedural choice, then one can learn to respect that reality.  Not every person has the same thoughts or feelings or values or experiences that you might have. Sure, it can be considered “an unfortunate choice” — but that’s only an opinion.

If one can also understand that conscription (draft) took place in the First World War in Canada, then one can also see that it left many young people without a choice. Today was a day to remember that lack of choice.

With all the above said, I strongly believe that a lot of what we believe (irony!) is based on a very thin layer of knowledge and experience.  We only partially know how our minds work and only partially know what the universe really is.  So for any person to say, “THIS IS DEFINITELY THE WAY SHOULD BE!” on almost any matter to me is out of order.  Even regarding family, friends, religion, politics.  Universally speaking, all four of those topics are microscopically important — but we like to make them big and meaningful. Making little things big and meaningful is okay on one hand because it gives us the satisfaction of living in a framework that we can understand. On the other hand, it destroys neutral or objective views on anything.

My point is that taking a hard side on the Remembrance Day debate, like so many other things, is irrelevant in the big picture.  I do think that war is undesirable and we can wish for otherwise, but wishing doesn’t achieve anything.  I choose to look at war as something inevitable, so in a way it is neither bad nor good.  I also choose to remember those who have fallen because I love all life and all people.

Any one thing can be seen in more than one way. I have a song release upcoming called, “Iguanas,” that reflects this way of thinking.

Remembrance Day Canada 2014 poppies roses

Any one thing can be viewed in more than one way. Image via Creative Commons via Flickr via James Best.

Happy First Anniversary

It has been one year (the first week of October) since I chose to leave my stable and rewarding senior manager position at The Home Depot Canada‘s head office.

Summary: I spent 3 months creating / launching / executing a unique Christmas e-card website, spent 4 months creating a live entertainment concept for cinemas to leverage (it has been parked for now) — and lastly — spent time changing how I perform live — which allowed me to launch my Keynote Concerts business.

When I wasn’t working on those major undertakings, I spent time refreshing this website and recording a new album (which should be finished shortly).

The above summary is all fine and dandy, but there are 2 additional notes I want to share in this post:

1. The first anniversary somehow kicked my psychological butt. This week, I ended up spending more time directly trying to drum up business than I have in the last 2 months. Continuing at such an intensity will be my new “must” to knock my Keynote Concerts startup out of the proverbial park.
2. I might minimize the blogging here about my transition from retail management to music. Either I’ll get back to blogging about my music (and music biz) experiences in general, and/or I’ll begin to borrow posts from the blog I began recently at the other site. What I’m doing there and here is highly related. I’m interested to see how both worlds (pure artist vs. business-focused artist) shake out.

More unknowns are ahead. But I love it.

It may be time to celebrate, but I will not take my eye away from goals.  Photo via Creative Commons via  Peter Thoeny via Flickr.  Photo via Creative Commons via  Peter Thoeny via Flickr.

It may be time to celebrate, but I will not take my eye away from goals. Photo via Creative Commons via Peter Thoeny via Flickr.