Let’s play with play-doh!

Read time: 12 min

Good morning!


“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

–  Joseph Campbell

THE FIRST STEP: Seize the opportunity

When Life Hands You Play-Doh…

boomunderground vintage kids boy commercial GIF

“How Do You Know?” is a 2010 romantic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon with Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson.

Paul Rudd’s character, George, is trying to decide whether to go to prison for his dad (Jack Nicholson). To decide, he needs to find out whether the girl he loves Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) would rather be with Matty (Owen Wilson), who she’s currently with, or him. So, he gifts Lisa Play-Doh for her birthday. Play-Doh? Not exactly the diamonds or new puppy you were hoping for, but romantic nonetheless with a little (necessary) explanation. George says, “This is only half the gift. It doesn’t work without the story,” and he tells the story of how Play-Doh came to exist.

The “Play-Doh” that’s fun to play with and oddly satisfying to squish started as a pliable, putty-like substance concocted by Noah McVicker of Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer Kutol Products. The putty was initially intended to clean coal residue from wallpaper.

After the transition to natural gas and washable vinyl-based wallpaper, demand for the cleaning putty tanked. McVicker’s nephew, Joe McVicker, joined Kutol to save the company from bankruptcy.

Kay Zufall, Joe’s sister-in-law, was a nursery school teacher whose students loved creating art projects with the wallpaper cleaning putty. She convinced Noah and Joe to manufacture it as a child’s toy.

Joe and Noah wanted to call it “Rainbow Modeling Compound.” Kay Zufall and her husband came up with the name Play-Doh. Good move, Kay.

Back to the RomCom. George tells Lisa, “I have kept [this Play-Doh] for a long time as proof that we are just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.”

For Lisa, this small adjustment was to break up with Matty and fall in love with George.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the things you need to do to move forward and equally, if not more, overwhelmed when you don’t even know what (where or who) “forward” is. By framing it as “one small adjustment,” moving forward is less intimidating.”

ACHIEVERS’ ARMORY: Equip yourself with proven tools & tactics

A Notebook For Dealing With Stress

High achievers often speak about carrying around a notebook to map out their thoughts and ideas. These types of notebooks are great for solving everyday problems of a busy person like organization and productivity. What they don’t provide is guidance to navigate through the stress and anxiety that can be brought on by being so busy. That is what with Anti-Anxiety Notebook was designed for.

The Anti-Anxiety Notebook is a journal designed by psychologists to help with stress and anxiety. It provides the tools you need to cope with and manage the rigors of everyday life. The structured journal entry is based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a proven technique for tracking and managing your stress.

Unlike regular journals, this one does not require a daily check-in. You can add a journal entry whenever you feel the need to. The format includes different types of check-in prompts, notes and tips from therapists to guide and encourage reflection, and deep reflection questions as well.

To dive inside this unique journal and view the layout, please click here.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Master the soft skills

Sliding vs. Deciding

When asked how you wound up in a particular life situation, you might respond with, “It kind of just happened.” You shrug your shoulders and look away, still wondering the answer to that question yourself.

Think, the couple whose relationship began as a swipe right, the couple who moved in together to avoid a solo quarantine or the couple who got pregnant and felt obligated to get married. Often without realizing it, these couples slid through transitions that could have been planned out, discussed, and debated.

Sliding versus deciding separates dedication from constraint commitment:

  • Dedication commitment = expecting/preparing for long-term
  • Constraint commitment = buildup of stuff that makes it harder to leave the relationship. For example, buying a house together, having pets together, or having kids together.

Simply, constraint commitment is sliding; dedication is deciding.

Studies show moving through critical transitions together purposely creates a healthy and satisfying relationship.

In the past, relationships followed a sequence: courtship, marriage, cohabitation, and sex, and ended with children—each milestone a signpost necessitating a check-in, a conversation, a setting of expectations.

Now these milestones, if you can even call them that, happen out of order, in every sequence possible. About nine in 10 couples have sex before marriage, half of all women cohabit before marriage, and four in 10 babies are born to unwed moms.

It’s simple: without a map, without any signs, you’re likely to continue on the same road that you’ve been on until you eventually wind up somewhere. We’re all kind of “playing it by ear.” It’s the inertia of it all that keeps us sliding. The constant buildup which, research shows, prevents couples from breaking up.

Why do deciders fair better than sliders?

Deciders might be more thoughtful people. Deciding means thinking thoroughly about what they want in a partner, living together, getting dogs together, or having children. It’s deliberate. Deciding gives couples more practice working together, proactively talking through important life issues, skills that could help them build a happy marriage.

We need to create those signposts for ourselves, communicate, and reflect on our situation. Ending up anywhere is not better than ending up nowhere. Deciding can lead to ending up somewhere pretty spectacular.

NEXT LEVEL: Keep your success going

Playing Doctor by Recognizing Patterns

The New York Times used to publish a column called “Think Like a Doctor” by Lisa Sanders, a doctor and author. Each posed a medical mystery—the print version of an episode of House M.D.

Here’s an example mentioned by Anders Ericcson in “Peak”:

  • A thirty-nine-year-old male police officer had an earache, and his right pupil was smaller than his left.
  • He took antibiotics to treat an ear infection.
  • When the earache reappeared two months later, the antibiotics didn’t help. The doctor thought it was probably just a sinus infection, but because of the pupil issue, referred the patient to an eye doctor.
  • The eye doctor referred the patient to a specialist.
  • The specialist immediately recognized the small pupil as a symptom of Horner’s syndrome but had no idea of the cause and the relation to the ear pain. So he asked some questions until the symptoms seemed to align.

Solving what caused the pupil to be smaller than the other was straightforward: it only required having learned about the syndrome at some point and recalling its symptoms. But it was piecing that information together with the ear pain that proved difficult.

Less experienced doctors tend to diagnose and jump quickly to conclusions and discard seemingly irrelevant information. They fail to generate multiple options. They don’t dive deeper when things don’t seem to add up.

Expert diagnosticians can consider many different facts as pieces of larger patterns, not isolated information.

Experienced diagnosticians come up with possible diagnoses and then analyze the various alternatives to select the most likely one.

The solution to the medical mystery described in the New York Times required that sort of approach:

  • Stroke and shingles were both possible of causes, but the patient displayed no symptoms of these illnesses.
  • A third possibility was a tear in the carotid artery wall, which runs right alongside the nerve affected in Horner’s and passes near the ear. A slight tear in the artery can cause this nerve to press into the face and, in rare cases, press on a nerve to the ear.
  • This possibility prompted the specialist to ask the patient questions about lifting weights. Weightlifting can sometimes tear the carotid artery, which is typically associated with headaches. When the patient answered yes to lifting weights and having a headache, a tear in the carotid artery was the most likely diagnosis. An MRI scan verified this, and the patient was put on blood thinners to prevent the formation of a blood clot while the vessel healed.

The key to the successful diagnosis was having the necessary knowledge organized and accessible to allow the doctor to come up with possible diagnoses and zero in on the most likely. The doctor pressed on until the clues added up.

A simple way to apply more complex and integrated knowledge structures to your thinking is by using “if…then” structures.

If these things are true, then it must be or must not be the case that…

MONEY: Become wealthy

What’s a Bear Market?

A bear market is when a market experiences prolonged price declines. It typically describes a condition in which securities prices fall 20% or more from recent highs. Bear markets are often associated with declines in an overall market or index like the S&P 500, but individual securities or commodities can also be considered to be in a bear market if they experience a decline of 20% or more over a sustained period of time—typically two months or more. Bear markets may accompany general economic downturns such as a recession.

The causes of a bear market vary, but in general, bear markets are accompanied by a weak or slowing economy. The signs of a weak or slowing economy are typically low employment, low disposable income, weak productivity and a drop in business profits.

In March 2020, global stocks entered a sudden bear market in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.


Two marriage jokes I heard this weekend:

One for the ladies: Your husband is a great person to tell your secrets because he’s never listening.

One for the men: Always hold your wife’s hand when you go to the mall or she’ll get loose and go shopping.

NEWS BREAK: Stay informed

1% BETTER: Improve each day

Call your bank and ask for an increase in your credit limit. Higher credit limit = lower credit usage.