Improv as a life skill to be learned

Attended a free improv class in North Hollywood recently. Found it online. Learned something new about improv, aside from always saying yes. Learned that it’s also our job to make our partners look good. 

I barely participated. Instead, I watched as carefully as if I was waiting to jump in on a double dutch jump rope session.

This is something I feel like I need to continue explore. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but I love the spontaneity of it. It forces you to think quick on your feet and roll with the punches. I see improv as a valuable life skill that must be learned. 

This class felt a little advanced for me. Starting to think it might be worth it to invest in a formal Improv 101 class via Second City. 

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My 10-Year Life Plan

Do you have a 10-year life plan written down anywhere? I guess I’m getting into the game a little late. 

I have to admit, I never thought I’d make it past the age of 30. I was always waiting patiently for the grim reaper to take me ever since I was a child. I used to think that manic depression would get the best of me.  Well, it hasn’t. And I’m still here despite my darkest moments.

Now I’m faced with the reality that I might actually be around for awhile. Looking back at the last 10 years of my life, there is one thing I am certain of — I don’t want the next 10 years of my life to look anything like the last 10 years.

While reading this book called “Rich Bitch” by a journalist named Nicole Lapin, I realized it was time for me the bite the bullet and get clear about my goals, accepting that my life trajectory may not look like most others. For example, marriage and home ownership aren’t huge priorities for me at this stage in my life, but I may change my mind about what marriage and home ownership means to me 10 years from now. 

In the spirit of holding myself accountable, I’d like to share with you my personal plan for the next 10 years of my life. 

Year 1 – Age: 30

Finances – Stick to a budget and spend within my means.
Fun – Write and publish a book.
Family – Make dating and relationships a priority. 

Year 3 – Age: 33

Finances – Move into a 2-bdrm apartment.
Fun – Live in Spain or Costa Rica for a month.
Family – Date one person seriously.

Year 5 – Age: 35

Finances – Contribute $12,000 annually to a retirement account.
Fun – Produce my own web or podcast series.
Family – Consider living together. 

Year 7 – Age: 37

Finances – Start a charity organization supporting heart health.
Fun – Write a screenplay featuring two female protagonists.
Family – Consider having kids. 

Year 10 – Age: 40

Finances – Consider buying a house.
Fun – Take two vacations a year – one traveling abroad and one traveling within the states.
Family – Consider getting married. 

If you don’t have a life plan of your own written down somewhere, then I encourage you to start a 10-year plan like I did. 

The best part about this exercise is that it forces you to think about how congruent your goals are with each other and consider potential conflicts of interest that may be preventing you from reaching your  life goals. 

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I got a Chromecast and I love it.

I ordered a Chromescast as a Christmas gift to myself. It looked weird, but a friend raved about it. I figured I only had $30 to lose if I didn’t like it.  

 

I keep telling my dad how he can watch all his favorite TV shows on the Internet without waiting for it to show up on Netflix. But the idea of watching TV on his computer when he’s already on it all day for work didn’t seem very appealing to him, especially since Netflix is connected to the TV through a Wii gaming device. 

Today, I got to show him the magic of watching TV online using my new Chromecast device.  

 

I visited the website I use to watch all my favorite shows without owning a TV, and streamed the second season of a show my dad has been waiting to be released on Netflix.

I was worried my laptop would be out of commission, but I’m still able to use my laptop like normal while he watches his favorite TV show.

This is so awesome. Now I have a reason to buy a TV. No more toggling between screens.

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What makes an idea stick?

I’m reading a book called Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Brothers perhaps? I have no idea and I don’t care enough to Google it. According to the back cover of the book, there a six qualities of a winning (aka sticky) idea: simplicity, unexpectedness, concrete news, credibility, emotional and stories. 

I’ve only read chapter one so far – Simple – and already I’ve highlighted a few things I wanted to reinforce by writing about what resonated with me.

The start of the chapter began with an anecdote of a West Point colonel who shared an expression they always used: No plan survives contact with the enemy.

It was one of those lines that had me slowing down to really absorb it. He goes on to say, “You may start off trying to fight your plan, but the enemy gets a vote. Unpredictable things happen… Many armies fail because they put all their emphasis into creating a plan that becomes useless ten minutes into the battle.”

In order to drive home the point of simplicity in communicating a message, the authors liken the planning process to a Commander’s Intent – the goal of a plan or desired outcome. From the top of the command chain the CI may be abstract, but at the tactical level, the CI is much more concrete. This means that if something doesn’t go according to plan, you won’t be at a loss for what you should do. The CI will keep you on target, allowing you to get creative with how you achieve your desired outcome.

“No sales plan survives contact with the customer,” write the authors. So true. No matter how prepared I thought I was for a sales call when I worked in the matchmaking industry, every potential client had a vote. I had to be quick on my feet to hit my target or scheduling so many consultation appointments per day. 

Another thing I high listed was the idea of simple meaning to find the core of an idea. Also, “it’s about elegance and prioritization, not dumbing down.

The huge aha came to me when I started reading about how schemas convey complex message using simple analogies or metaphors people are more likely to understand than when you give them accurate information. 

“People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little,” wrote the authors. This line really resonated in light of difficulties I’ve been having conveying complex information to people don’t get it. In my quest for transparency, I find I overwhelm people with so much information, they don’t now what do with it. The Curse of Knowledge, they called it. 

So now that’s my homework, or at least something to be mindful of in my communications. Avoid overexplaining and give just enough to be useful, but not too much that it’s paralyzingly. 

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Loveball Book Project Update

Couldn’t sleep, so I decided to blog about one thing that’s been keeping me awake at night – my ongoing book project which I refuse to give up on, Loveball.

Loveball is a term I started using a few years ago to describe the recreational sport of dating. It’s also my working book title, but that is changing in light of a recent revelation. You’ll find out why monentarily. Hang with me here for a little backstory in case your new to Survival of the Singles…

The Premise

I like to think of dating in terms of softball. The objective is to score as many runs as possible by moving around the bases after you hit a ball with a stick.

Loveball works kind of the same way with the objective being to date as many people as possible by creating your own dating league, building an all-star dating lineup and discovering the most valuable person on your dating roster.

This involves learning to categorize the people you date into three distinct leagues as determined by a combination factors including looks, personality, values, self-esteem, social eptitude, employment status and relationship competence. Some factors may weigh more heavily than others depending on the person. For example, solid relationship skills may trump looks for an okay looking guy who treats you the way you wanted to be treated. Or looks might trump low self-esteem for a hot broad you click with in the bedroom.

Once you’ve learned to effectively categorize the peoole you date, you may come to same realization that I did: You are who you date. This knowledge will give you all the power you need to take yourself to the next level and date people that are within your league.

Make no mistake, “within your league” does not mean you are settling. Rather, it means recognizing your worth and dating accordingly. This means dating people who recognize your worth, filtering out those who don’t and adding your best relationship prospects to your mental dating lineup for further speculation based on how they score on five key levels off attraction and compatibility: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial. I’ve written briefly about this in the past.

Everyone you meet in Loveball moves around the proverbial bases to your heart in much the same way people move around real bases on a softball field after getting a hit.

If you meet someone you are initially attracted to, then that would be considered a base hit, or a single, because that person made it to first base with you just for being physically attractive and someone you’d get down with in a heartbeat. (Note: Getting on base, and in a scoring position is easy. It’s getting around the bases that poses a greater challenge.)

Now, say you start talking to this person and you start to feel an emotional connection as learn more about this person’s background and how much you have in common. You single hit just turned into a double for meeting you on two levels of attraction.

Through the course of the conversation, you start getting turned on by this person’s intelligence and thought process. Your single or double, has now turned into a triple for having three layers of attraction to critical for maintaining a relationship with you.

You get the idea, right? Determine five core needs you have in a relationship, or use the five I mentioned, and make as many base hits as possible. Every base hit has a chance to score your heart as the winning the prize. The most valuable person on your dating lineup may not be who you expected from the start of your dating season, but you know you’ve found your ideal match when you hit a homerun or grandslam and find someone who meets you all the way on four or five levels of attraction.

It’s an approach to dating I have developed over the years to help me avoid unneccasary heartbreak and improve the quality of my dating experiences.

Some people love the sport. Other people hate it. How much you love or hate any kind of sport usually depends on your competency level relative to how much you enjoy it. If you suck at something, you probably won’t like it as much. But if you stick with it and put in the time it takes to better yourself, you’ll probably enjoy it much more because of the personal investment you put into improving your competency level.

New premise

When all is said and done, the title Loveball does not accurately describe the subject matter of my book. It’s a really a book about pain.  The irony is not lost on me.

It’s a book about the pain of dating and how one hopeless single navigated through the pain of a lonely heart until she discovered more love than she could ever imagine in an unlikely package. It’s also a simple guide for helping women overcome the greatest pains in current dateonomics. 

The new book title is now Demystify Dating, which I believe more accurately describes my decade-long journey of exploring different ways to improve my dating prospects and romantic relationships. Pre-order it today at www.nikipayne.com.

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What’s your daily mantra? 

I am love, I found myself repeating over and over again during an afternoon meditation session.

As I was saying those words, I felt my eyes start to water. Then I found myself smiling upon the realization that I am love.

I’ve always known this in my heart to be true, but I think today was the first time I actually believed it. Maybe I’m still basquing in the glory of my almost perfect day yesterday.

I used to worry myself a lot over what other people thought of me, especially as it relates to my career choices.

Are you a writer? Or a social media manager? Or a dating journalist? Are you an Arbonne consultant too?  Wait, you’re a matchmaker now???

Ever since I was a kid, I never felt like I fit in or belonged anywhere. Am I White? Or am I Asian? I can’t decide.

I am not any one of these things, but all of the above. I don’t fit neatly into a box, and I’m okay with that because I am so much more than what I do to pay my bills every month.

I am love. That’s what the fuck I am.

It has taken me a long time to finally get to this place, of realizing that I am the source of all the love that is or isn’t in my life. It all starts and ends with me.

I’m finally beginning to see the world of difference it makes when you take the time required to love yourself everyday by prioritizing yourself for a change instead of everyone else BUT you.

You feel nourished. You become fullfilled. You experience a sense of accomplishment. You approach the world from a place of certainty and confidence as a result, even when the world challenges and pushes you past your limits. Most importantly, you are better equipped to serve those you love in the full capacity they need from you.

Some people may call this being selfish. I call it being mindful of the impact you have on the people around you.

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An almost perfect day

Today, I had an almost perfect day.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night. Slept for at least 7 hours. Woke up before 6am excited about life. Read for 30 minutes before hitting the gym. Ran for about 35 minutes. Took a shower. Made it home for breakfast by 7:30am. Meditated for about 5 minutes before hitting the coffee shop by 8:30am. Started my day with a daily finance and goals review. Began consulting work by 10 until about 2:15pm when I took a 15 minute break to head back home, practice my Spanish with a quick couple of games via the Duolingo app, and meditate for another 5 minutes right before a 3pm team call that lasted a couple hours. 

By 5:30pm, I made time to practice the guitar and figured out the chords for a song I wrote which, for me, was super exciting because it’s always been a dream of mine to put music to my words. I did it! Now I just need to practice playing the chords together more seamlessly and figure out a good strumming pattern for it. The fact that I figured out the notes alone was a huge accomplishment in itself! Never thought I had it in me, but apparently I do! :)

I only have four items left in my Coach.me cue of things I want to get done everyday to truly make it a great day.

  1. Blog daily
  2. Market daily
  3. Work on book project
  4. Learn something new

On second thought, make that two things left to do since blogging is in progress, and the promotion of this blog post will count as my marketing for the day. 

The only thing that would really make a day like this even better would be having someone special to wind down with, cuddling on the couch watching an episode of our favorite television shows (one of his choosing and one of mine to keep it fair) followed by a session of some passionate love making before calling it a day. (Insert satisfied grin here).

I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the life I’ve been working so hard to build for myself. I’m doing work that’s more in alignment with my higher purpose and more in tune with my personal interests. 

Is this what it feels like when you stop worrying about everyone else and start focusing on yourself? This feeling of accomplishment that vibrates all throughout my body is one I don’t want to forget. It’s moments like these that keep me going when the going gets tough. 

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The three question niche test

According to Eben Pagan, if I get three Yes’s to the following questions then my niche should be tested in the real world.

One problem: I am super torn between niches. I fell in love with the dating industry out of my own desire to have more fulfilling relationships. But I also fell in love with the marketing industry out of an interest to share my dating articles. For me personally, the two go hand in hand. You can’t really have one without needing the other. 

Here are the three questions that are supposed to help me solidify my niche:

  1. Is my prospective customer experiencing pain + urgency or irrational passion?
  2. Is my prospective customer pro-actively looking for a solution to their problem or desire?
  3. Does my prospective customer have few or no perceived options to solve their problem or deliver their result?

I have a feeling that a truth I’ve been long denying will reveal itself by the end of this training exercise.

Let’s answer these three questions as it related to the dating industry and my current book project:

  1. No. My prospective customer has accepted their single status with open arms. As much as they’d love to meet that special person to share their life with, it has no longer become the end all, be all thing for them. They no longer see the pain in being single. In fact, they’ve learned to embrace the single life and cherish every relationship they do get to have, however long or brief the interaction.
  2. No. At least not that I’m aware. My prospective customer has reached a point in their lives where if the solution falls in their lap, they’ll explore it. If it doesn’t, they won’t feel like they’ve missed anything. 
  3. No. My prospective customer has tons of options.

This waking reality is kind of sobering and disappointing.

Now, let’s answer this question for the social media niche:

  1. Yes. My prospective clients want to market themselves more so they can make more money, but they don’t have a marketing budget because they need to make more money first. They are in a catch-22 bind. They know they need help to grow, but they lack the resources needed to bring on more help.
  2. Yes, my prospective clients are looking for a solution to their problem. People in my circle of influence generally see me as the solution. But often times, they don’t have the budget to retain me at the level they need me to be at for them. 
  3. Yes, my prospective clients feel like they have limited options given their lack of resources.

Sigh. 

Eben Pagan mentioned in his training the number one mindset revolving around niches. He says that “niches aren’t ‘chosen’ — and they’re not want you want them to be.”

This realization makes me want to cry. I literally have a tear dropping down the side of my face and into my right here as I lay here contemplating my niche. He’s so write.

I chose the dating niche, but the social media niche chose me. And more people need help with marketing than they do their love lives. Besides, maybe helping people grow their businesses through social media will help improve their personal relationships inadvertently. And there’s still an element of relationship building involved in social media.

I can still blend my interests together to serve the needs of my prospective client. I’ve found my focus, but I’m going to need some time to mourn my book project. I had such high hopes for it. 

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10 profit mindsets shared by Eben Pagan

Eben Pagen, the genius behind dating persona David DeAngelo and Double Your Dating, has launched a free seven day course on how to build a profitable business from scratch. Since he is a pioneer in the dating industry as we now know it, I figured he was someone worth listening to since he’s had such massive success in my chosen niche, especially when I found out the Eben Pagan and David DeAngelo were one in the same. Digital Romance uses some of the same marketing tactics as Pagan, as does Matthew Hussey.

There are 10 profit mindsets Pagan suggests having as the key to building a profitable business from scratch.

  1. Bootstrapping is better.
  2. Make it small, then go big.
  3. 80% of what I try won’t work.
  4. My business isn’t a job.
  5. I get paid in proportion to the calue I create for other people.
  6. I’m cracking the code, not just trying to “make money.”
  7. Business success comes when I’m doing many things right.
  8. Revenue isn’t the same thing as profit.
  9. I’m 100% resoponsible now.
  10. My success comes because I take action.

No. 4 really a struck a chord with me in an ouchy kind of way. No. 5 is something I’m striving to do more with for my social media management business. I have a few comprehensive guides in the works that I need to hurry up and finish so I can start delivering massive loads of value to people I might be interested in working with in the future.

Mindset Exercise – What’s Your New Mindset?

I always thought the having a growth mindset was the key to success. In E-Myth Mastery, Michael Gerber says that your commitment to personal growth must forever operate on a parallel track to your commitment to building a profitable business. Maybe I’ve got things all wrong. Let’s find out.

Question 1: What is the part of your mindset that has held you back from business success?

I think the part of my mindset that has held me back the most from achieving greater business success is this notion that I have nothing of value to offer the world. On the surface level, I know this is simply not true. But beneath the surface, self-doubt causes me not to believe in myself full-heartedly as well I should.

Question 2: Which mindset shift will create the biggest shift for your future success?

If there is one thing I do not doubt, it’s that my commitment to constantly learning and growing will empower me with the confidence to truly believe in the value I have to offer the world. Deep down inside, I have a big heart and a lot of love to give to those who need it most. I want to share my heart with people in a big and impactful way. Share the love, that’s kind of my new guiding mantra these days in search of values-based opportunities.

Question 3: How can you remind yourself of the mindset shift that you’re making – so you create the success you want in business?

This is something I struggle with. Matthew Hussey calls these reminders “emotional triggers.” I don’t really know how to answer this question. I have yet to find the emotional trigger that inspires me to take action. 

LOVE is what inspires me. My biggest successes in life came when I was in a committed relationship with someone. Finding someone to share that kind of love with has had its own set of challenges. Quite frankly, I do better in life when I’m in love and when I’m part of a proverbial team working toward similar goals. 

I guess this means my next challenge is to find trigges that create feelings of warmth and love inside me because love is what truly drives and motivates me.

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#RealLifeRelationships

I recently came across a billboard in Hollywood featuring “the most interesting man in the world” that said something to the effect that people from the Westside were willing to make the drive just to see him.

Coincidentally, I posted a rant last month on Facebook about how sad it was that relationships and friendships in LA are a matter of convenience, and how most people don’t make the time for you unless you live within a 20 to 30 minute radius. As it turns out, I’m not the only one that feels this way. Friends and acquaintances who live about as far as I do from our home town, but in the opposite direction, echoed my sentiments. The post got 55 likes and 31 comments.

“People think if you moved away, you should have to come to them,” wrote one person who said she was always the one driving out to see friends, yet no one ever made the same effort for her.

“In LA, our relationships are defined by the freeways,” wrote another person.

“Freeways can make our break some relationships in Los Angeles,” echoed a local dating expert who told me to hang in there for friendships not defined by freeways.

“This is a sad but true statement,” wrote yet another.

I admit, I’d rather be a loner than sit in one or two hours of traffic, but I also crave the emotional intimacy that comes with deep and meaningful friendships. Sometimes, that kind of intimacy is worth the drive. We do it for people we’re fucking, but not our friends? Yah, that makes a lot of sense. Often times, our friendships last longer than our most intimate relationships. Yet some of us push our friends to the backburner, only reconnecting when that relationship is no more. 

The whole reason I started writing about relationships was because I sucked at maintaining them. In some cases, I still do. In an effort to get better at maintaining my own friendships and relationships, I decided to make it a point to start visiting people. If people don’t make the same effort, well, then I know who my true friends are. 

I get that sometimes finances and other logistics comes into play, like a friend I’ve lost touch with in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying, right? 

Connecting in Real Life (Not Just Real Time)

The first person I met up with was my Facebook friend Mark. We’ve never actually met in person but he’s always engaging with me on social media. We had a mutual friend in common and became Facebook friends that way. 

He lives in South Bay but was in the Valley the following Monday for an audition. I drove about 20 to 30 minutes from Northridge to meet up with him in Sherman Oaks at a place conveniently located close to where his audition was. 

Convenience was indeed a factor, but why should I inconvenience him when he was already in my neck of the woods, inconvenienced by a long drive for a short meeting? If anything, I helped make his time down in the Valley worth it. 

Meeting was convenient for the both of us, but an effort was still made on both are parts by planning ahead. It was fun getting to know him IRL (in real life). We totally took a selfie.

  

Last week (or was it the week before last; I can’t remember), I made the long treacherous drive to South Bay to pick up my car registration. It was totally inconvenient for me because I had work to do, but getting pulled over for expired tags and dealing with a fix-it ticket would have been way more inconvenient. 

Since I was in the area, I made it a point to visit my favorite coffee shop in Redondo Beach and get some work done. I didn’t call anyone to hang out because I needed to focus on work, but as I was heading to the gym for a quick workout and shower before hitting the freeway, I think I posted something inconsequential on Facebook like “I love electro” that prompted a text message from a dear friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while since my location stamp said Redondo and she lives in Redondo. 

We immediately made plans to meet up, and I’m so glad we did because it was long overdue. This is a friend who always checked in on me when she was worried about me during a really depressing time in my life. It was her simple messages asking how I was that kept me sane and reminded me that people do care about me whether I realize it or not, and no matter how much I felt like dying inside. I will always be grateful to her for that. 

We met up in Hermosa Beach at a coffee shop close the gym where I was at and reconnected. It was awesome and we totally took a selfie, because that’s going to be my thing now if it’s been too long since the last time I’ve seen someone. 

 
Thank you Abbie for making the effort to shoot me a text asking if I was still in Redondo that day. I was stuck in tunnel vision with my daily to-do list and totally wasn’t thinking about real life connections. Glad we got to spend time together. 

Who will my next selfie be with? The next time I’m in your area, or you’re in mine, let’s make it a point to reach out to each other and meet up for coffee, lunch or even happy hour. And we’ll totally take a selfie to prove to the world that we do in fact make an effort for our friends, in hopes that they will make similar efforts for us too! 😛

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