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Two Quotes I Live By

I once did a monstrous blog post entitled “The 50 Tweets That Businesses Should Be Doing.” It was my far-reaching attempt to coax clients (and you) onto Twitter. “We don’t have anything to tweet about,” I’d often hear. Nonsense. You have much to discuss; it’s just that some of it doesn’t have anything directly to do with selling stuff. I followed that post up with one entitled, “10 Tweets To Leave on the Cutting Room Floor,” or something like that.

One of the tweets I advised you to cut from your tweeting repertoire was offering the quotes of famous people. To me, they just seemed empty and pointless. Now, I just wrote a book that, like many books, offers inspirational quotes at the beginning of each section. So basically I’m a total hypocrite. Or perhaps, I learned from my mistakes.

Recently I was emailing my friend Joshua Arnao some advice, and he asked me, “What are one or two quotes that inspire you?” In an attempt to answer his question, I came up with what you see below. The first quote is from me (I’m not famous!) and the second is from Maya Angelou. Let me be clear on this first quote: no, I do not inspire myself! Rather, I just want you to know that this is one of the prisms through which I view life. And of course, the Maya Angelou quote is actually a “famous quote,” and she did inspire me during her lifetime (and still does).

Let me know what you think down in the comments (if people still do that).

1. “The literal ability to perform an action and the advisability of doing so are two very separate things.” ~Chris Reimer

Here’s what this means to me: To a varying degree, we are all given power in our lives. Power at home, power at our jobs, power to shape the lives of others. We have the green light to fire someone if they break rule XYZ. It’s in the Employee Handbook. However, the green light does not always have to mean “Go!” For instance, decisions made while angry have an above-average chance of being short-sighted, damaging – what you’d call “wrong.” As I allude to in my book, in life there are the blacks and the whites – the extremes – and then there’s a very deep pool of grays, and that’s where most of the swimming in life is done. So get to know that deep water. Understand it and the other people swimming in it. This is important! I like to live my life in a results-based way – what am I trying to accomplish? – versus following every single rule to the letter. You do not merely possess the power of “do.” Don’t look at it that way. You have the power of “choice.” The choices you have been entrusted to make are not preordained “correct” simply because you are The Big Cheese.

2. “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

I quote this in my book. It means the world to me. Achievements aside, what’s really left at the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, is how we feel. Hopefully we feel accomplishment, and hopefully we feel good about ourselves and the world around us. It’s hard work to do right by people! Don’t kid yourself. And we too often ignore the people in our lives and what they’re going through. We should not ignore each other’s struggles any longer. Our work lives depend on it, not to mention our overall health. The world needs more empathy, and I think Ms. Angelou provided us a strong, crystal-clear reminder of the importance of treating each other with love and respect.

What Will You Be Remembered For?

I’ve seen social media experts give advice to the effect of, “You are known for the content you curate.” Could that really be true? Do we want that to be true?

I think we are known for the most important thing that we do in our life, whatever that might be. So I would say that you should make sure that the most important thing that you’re doing in your life is not curating content on fleeting social media sites. If the troubles of our world are mountains, you should be moving mountains. I don’t think that has much to do with a personal brand, or how big your Twitter account is, or how you lost a bunch of followers on Instagram.

Get off your ass and go make some art, or help somebody in need.

Your Words Matter

Brian Urlacher

One morning, I was watching Mike & Mike on ESPN 2, and they had former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on set. He retired a few years ago, and his exit from the Bears was a bit messy. Urlacher and the Bears couldn’t agree on a new contract, but to hear him talk about it now, he was ready to take less money.

However, he didn’t like the Bears’ approach. Paraphrasing, Urlacher said the Bears presented their offer as:

“This is what we can pay you. Take it or leave it.”

But Urlacher would have rather heard something to the effect of:

“This is what we can pay you. We need you. Come back.”

Note that it would have been the same dollar amount, no matter what language Bears management used – strong-arm language, or more persuasive language designed to appeal to Urlacher’s heart. Perhaps the Bears didn’t really want him back, and that’s why they chose the former. But are we to understand that Urlacher would have taken the low-ball contract offer if the Bears had just been nicer? Yup.

Some will say, “Bro, it was the same amount of money! Who cares? Take it!” Nope, that’s not how human interactions really work.

When faced with a challenge, the most important question you can ask yourself is not, “How am I gonna do this?” Rather, it’s “What am I trying to accomplish?” Once you frame your challenge in that manner, you’re ready to answer the “how” question. In this case, if the Bears didn’t want Urlacher back, they won. If they were ready for him to take the offer and would have welcomed him back with open arms, they screwed up.

Your words matter.

They Didn’t Quit, Even When Their Jobs Were Gone

I love this StoryCorps piece. An assisted living facility abruptly shuts down, and two employees remain behind to take care of 16 residents who would have never survived without round-the-clock care. Just incredible.

It speaks to me about courage – stepping up when no one else will. If there’s litter on the street in front of you, but you didn’t put it there, what’s your next move? My preferred attitude on this – I will pick it up, because if I don’t, who else would? And why would anyone else act in such a selfless way if I’m not willing to demonstrate similar behavior. Too often, we wait for the other party to do the nice thing, to make the first move. The world won’t become a better place unless you step up. You’re that person.

StoryCorps always makes me tear up.


R.I.P. Rizzo Tees (2008 – 2014)

I Hate Pants Forever

Hi everyone. This is going to be a weird blog post, perhaps too little too late, but I’ll do my best to make it interesting, understandable, and fun.

Today, October 30, 2014, on the 6th anniversary of the birth of Rizzo Tees, I announce its death. Happy 6th birthday, old friend, and I hope you don’t mind being shut down! Today is your official last day.

This is not meant to be dramatic, and at this point, how could it be? To anyone observing, it has been readily apparent for at least two years that the business was no longer getting my attention. I haven’t debuted a new tee design in years. There are probably some steps I should have taken earlier to make something great happen with the business – either ramp it up, or sell it. I got so busy with transitioning to a new career, with trying to learn to be a great ad agency salesman, with trying to write a book, with finding a publisher, with actually writing a book, and now with trying to sell a book … there was no time for Rizzo Tees.

And really no desire either. For the first few years, I loved concepting tee designs, working with amazing tee designers to bring them to life, and I loved debuting the designs. Some sold amazingly well. Some barely sold. I quickly learned what success and failure felt like. But that list of stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph – especially the book – captured my imagination and didn’t let go.

I’ve had several people ask me if I wanted to sell Rizzo Tees. I don’t know … whatchoo got? I sheepishly told several interested parties that I don’t even have time to sell it right now. All of my energy is going into my current job, and my book marketing efforts. I have no cranial capacity to think about selling the business. I don’t feel like dickering over price, and don’t want to be told it’s not worth what I think it is, or whatever.

Anyway, the death of this business is OK with me. Even with a mixed record, I can say I accomplished everything I wanted to with it. I learned so much, met all of you, and left my old CPA career. Knowing that a career change was the goal from day one, I say “Mission Accomplished.” For any of you who have known me since 2007-2008, you know that’s what I wanted to see happen. I even made this video outlining my dream of leaving accounting by July 1, 2011. I beat that date big time, and I’m proud of that.

And now a new mission has begun. This book of mine, Happywork, seems infinitely more important than the tee biz ever did. I know that’s not true, that my feelings are being temporally affected. But yes, let’s just run with it – the message of this book is important to me now, and now is now, so it’s the most important thing going on in my life. I think my message of happiness at work is going to be my number one priority for years to come. We’ll see where life takes me.

Gary Vaynerchuk Props to my TweepsEpic Meal Time

To all the people who bought shirts, especially the bacon ones – after all, I was once known as the Baron of Bacon (TY Shelley Niemeier for that moniker) – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. It was a joy to make you fun shirts. It was a thrill to see the Epic Meal Time guys and Gary Vaynerchuk wear them in their videos. Mostly, it was just fun making things. There is glory in making stuff (and I draw a direct distinction between this and being a “social media guru”). When I talk to my two young daughters about their future, I tell them to never shy away from making things. Making food (chef), making living spaces (interior designer), making coffee (barista), making art (artist), making clothing (fashion designer), making buildings (architect), or making stories (author). Whatever you do, I tell them, please make something for the world. I’m happy that I did that with Rizzo Tees, and I think the greatest chapter to come will be written by my first and hopefully not last book.

Thank you everyone for being a friend of mine. In 2015 and beyond, let’s make great things happen.



This sort of thing makes it fun to be in business. I mean, how cool is this?

Love Each Other – A Powerful Message

You might not agree with everything he’s saying, but this message about love, tolerance, and compassion is worth consuming.

Texting and Driving – Dangerous!

Chris Reimer on the Mark Reardon show

A few months ago, I joined Mark Reardon on KMOX for a discussion on texting and driving. He noted that I posted about the subject on Facebook and foolishly challenged me to a debate.

In all seriousness, I always enjoy going on Mark’s show, and I hope you enjoy the discussion we had. And I must thank him for allowing me to shamelessly plug my upcoming book Happywork, releasing on February 17, 2015.


A Gay NFL Player? Dale Hansen Says We’re Going to Be Fine

“I don’t understand his world, but I do understand he’s part of mine.”

One Tweet to a Life in Hell – The Justine Sacco Affair

Some people are scared to use social media. It seems too “Wild Wild West” to them. Some of those people are fearful of learning how to do it, some are scared to make a big mistake, and some wish for a simpler time when the definition of “friend” was narrower and “in the flesh.”

As an extrovert, I’ve found my stride in life, so to speak, on social media. The last six years have found me starting a tee company, making many life-long friends, and changing careers. I enjoy expressing myself, learning, having discussions, and entertaining myself on a daily basis.

Someday, I am bound to make a big mistake. I will offend the world at large with an inappropriate photo or tweet. I don’t think this will ever happen, but I should never say “never.” If or when it happens, I hope to have friends coming to my defense. I hope it’s something I can recover from. I hope my family doesn’t bear the brunt. Mostly, I really, really hope it never happens.

I don’t mean to say our lives are not in our control; I firmly believe we are in control of our destiny.

So what happened to Justine Sacco? A PR pro for IAC, she presented the social media community its latest scandal with her insensitive tweet about Africa. While on a plane to said continent, the tweet was blowing up worldwide and she likely knew nothing of it until she landed. Upon disembarking, if her phone was able to grab a cell tower or some wifi, she was undoubtedly slammed with tweets, emails, texts, voicemails, Facebook messages and more. That must have been a bit jarring for her. IAC quickly sacked her.

What should we make of this affair? I always like to dial down to the foundation, to the simplest and most elementary lesson to be learned. This is to say, “What should we do FIRST?” In this case, it’s “BE NICE.” Sorry to keep beating this dead horse, but that’s the first thing we all need to know.

Guys, Justine’s situation is a complicated issue. In reading the countless articles on the affair, I’ve seen the right wing attack the left wing. I’ve seen people make this an age issue, a gender issue, an unemployment issue (how can SHE have a job while I’m unemployed), a race issue, a white guilt issue, and more. You name it; everyone has an angle on this, a prism through which they judge her.

However, if Justine had just remembered rule number one – be nice to others – this would have never happened to her. So what seems complicated is actually quite simple. Be nice!

Through the millennia, since the very advent of the spoken word, we humans have harbored thoughts that we have chosen not to verbally articulate. Justine’s AIDS tweet is the latest lesson on why that’s the case. As I state in the interview I recently did with Mark Reardon on KMOX, most of us have told an offensive joke or two. Some of us have been to comedy clubs and laughed at a comedian saying horrible things. But NO, you can’t say these things on social media. Similarly, you wouldn’t say these things aloud in a crowded coffee shop, on a job interview, on a first date, or at the office water cooler. In those places, in those circumstances, you have to practice restraint.

So that means no off-color jokes about AIDS. No Hitler jokes, no Jewish jokes, no special needs jokes, none of that. You think it’s funny? That’s great – keep it to yourself. You don’t want to offend an entire continent with one tweet!

First and foremost, think of others instead of yourself. Had Justine done that, she might have considered the 1 million Americans living with HIV, or the 30 million worldwide. Let me stake out some brave territory and say AIDS is terrible. Don’t joke about it! Be nice to others.

Be nice!

To listen to my interview with Mark Reardon, HIT PLAY on the second sound file down

Other takes:

1. AdWeek initially reports on the situation.

2. Here are 16 tweets she might now wish to take back. No. 16 is way out there, in my humble opinion.

3. Here’s a robust discussion on my Facebook page about Justine and how long (if at all) we should heap scorn on her.

4. If you read nothing else on this issue, read Roxane Gay’s take on it.

5. Some additional sympathy for Justine’s plight.

6. A friend defends her, saying she’s guilty of not being good at Twitter.

7. The Twitter lynch mob.

Books I’m Recommending Tomorrow at My United Way Seminar

Chris Reimer book recommendations

Tomorrow I’m conducting a social media seminar and Q&A at the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Attendees from United Way-funded organizations will hear me speak about social media, and then will fire several hours of questions at me.

One thing I’ll be recommending off the bat is self-education. When working to understand social media, I have found that practice does make perfect. One hundred and ten thousand tweets later, I do have experience I didn’t before have. However, backing up one step, I’ll want the attendees to be in the right mindset before using social media to say what they have to say.

The books above will be getting a shout out, and I do hope the attendees give these works a chance. I’ve learned so much by taking to heart the messages these authors offered to the world.