Four Questions

There’s More Than One Answer to the Four Questions Pointing Me in a Crooked Line

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a pink T-shirt, tan shorts, and Stan Smiths.

How does Dave feel today? Dave feels cultured and contemplative.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? The Complimentary Spouse and Dave went to a botanical garden this morning, and then to the Pulse Memorial.

How is Dave enjoying the mini-vacation? Dave is having a good and relaxing time, yet still he dreads the mind-numbing drudgery of the workweek that begins tomorrow.

Travel & Food

Dos and Don’ts: Travel Recommendations from Britt and Dave

Travel ideas the Complimentary Spouse and I do not recommend

Going to Cancun for fun when you’re a senator and your state faces an emergency of historic proportions.

Travel ideas the Complimentary Spouse and I do recommend

Routing your flight from Tampa to London through Los Angeles because you want to get lunch at In-N-Out.

Driving to Bodega Bay from San Francisco just because it was the setting for The Birds. Perhaps Tippi Hedren will be there, but you won’t get her autograph or photo because she wants you to pay for them. Instead, you will go to the marina and see seals playing.

Accidentally driving into Syria when you’re looking for the memorial to Turkish pilots in Israel.

Going to Chili’s for breakfast at Dallas Love Field. You never know when someone will write out his salsa recipe and a napkin and give it to you.

Buying a Tampa Bay Lightning “How Swede it Is” T-shirt solely because you’re going to Stockholm in a few weeks and you want to get a photo of yourself wearing it there as onlookers give you funny glances.

Reenacting the poses in paintings and statues.

Choosing restaurants just because they share a name with family members.

And, finally, posing for photos on the Malecon in Havana. Maybe a cute random American tourist will come up, insist on being in a photo with you, and walk away.

Four Questions

See That Girl, Watch That Scene, Digging the Four Questions

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a Bucs polo shirt, tan shorts, and Stan Smiths. 

How does Dave feel today? Dave is relaxed. 

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? The Complimentary Spouse and Dave are taking a mini-vacation. 

What did Dave have for lunch? Dave had a Shake Shack burger, which was pretty good and will have to tide him over till he can get to the burger nirvana known as In-N-Out.

Four Questions

Everybody’s Working for the Four Questions

What is Dave wearing today? Dave’s ensemble consists of a purple polo shirt, tan shorts, and Stan Smiths.

How does Dave feel today? Dave is pumped up.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave is celebrating the end of the work week by playing loud dance music.

Is Dave a good dancer? Dave once did an interpretive dance based on the performance of the stock market. Alcohol was involved.


Going Beyond the Basics of Benefits: Business and Government Perspectives

I’ve written before about my marketing mantra: Always promote the benefits. I got to do exactly that in a non-business context yesterday when I spoke at city hall to support a proposal to make Tampa’s Citizen Review Board more independent.

I’m grateful that others were able to offer legal perspectives, historical context, and compelling personal accounts. My strategy was different. I assume that the hardest thing for city council members to do is justify their votes about a contentious issue to their constituents. The benefit I provided, therefore, was information they can use to explain their decision in favor of the proposal to other people.

Why did I focus on messaging for constituents instead of the proposal itself? I made this decision based on many years of doing business-to-business marketing. In many cases, the people I reach aren’t the people making the spending decisions. Describing the benefits of my product or service to my immediate audience only gets half the job done. I need to give them the information they need to convince others as well. 

Here’s how that usually breaks down:

  • You have a challenge
  • My product or service is the best solution to that challenge
  • Here’s why my solution will make your job easier
  • Here’s the proof that your entire organization will be more productive and save money with my solution

The reasoning for this is simple. The people who read my marketing materials are usually the ones using my product or service daily, so their primary concern is about what it will do for them. But, in most cases, the people in this audience aren’t cutting the check. Those who ultimately decide what product to buy probably aren’t concerned with how the product or service works on a day-to-day basis — they won’t be using it. Instead, they want to make sure they’re making a choice that provides the best return on investment. 

When I spoke to the city council yesterday, I did something similar to what I do in the business world. I wasn’t necessarily talking about how the proposal works or its legal implications. Others did that for me. Instead, I gave the city council members information they can use to tell their “bosses” — that is, the constituents they are elected to serve — how a pro vote benefits them?

Did I do this well? Maybe, maybe not. I had a three-minute time limit and spoke extemporaneously from a few notes scribbled on a scrap of paper. But would I use this strategy again? Absolutely.

Four Questions

The Four Questions Are Crazy About a Sharp-Dressed Man

What is Dave wearing today? Dave looks handsome in a gray suit, white shirt, purple tie, dress shoes, and Pride socks.1 

How does Dave feel today? Dave is proud of himself. 

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave gave a good little speech about police accountability at the Tampa City Council meeting this morning.

Why hasn’t Dave changed into shorts and a T-shirt? Dave is still wearing his fancy clothes because he’s going to a panel discussion about business issues tonight, and the Complimentary Spouse will be the moderator.

1 The next footnote contains too much information.2
2 Seriously, don’t read on.3
3 Dave’s underpants match his tie.4
4 You were warned.

Four Questions

The Four Questions Are Friends, not Food

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a Bucs championship T-shirt, gray shorts, and Stan Smiths. 

How does Dave feel today? Dave is calm and collected. 

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Nothing Dave’s agenda for today is too taxing, and the weather is pleasant.

How is Dave’s non-gluten, non-dairy diet going? Dave would kill any of you for an everything bagel with cream cheese.


We’re Here. We’re Queer. We’re Statistically Significant.

A new Gallup report says that 5.6% of Americans now identify as LGBTQ. That number is significant for two reasons: First, it equates to 1.8 million people1; and, second, it’s a sizable increase from the 3.5% reported in Gallup’s first report nine years ago.

Many people will be tempted to look at this report and infer that there are more LGBTQ people in the country than ever before. While I can’t claim anything with absolute certainty, I’m willing to bet that this conclusion is wrong. The much more likely scenario is that the percentage of LGBTQ people in this country has been constant over time, and what we’re witnessing is an increase in people willing to disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The reason for this trend, I think, is destigmatization. To wit:

  • There are many positive depictions of LGBTQ people on teevee and in movies
  • Public figures freely talk about their sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Young people are coming out of the closet early — in fact, I don’t think some of them ever spend any time in the closet!
  • Marriage equality has normalized same-sex relationships
  • Admired companies (such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft) have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ equality
  • Mainstream society is recognizing the inherent falsehoods in anti-LGBTQ viewpoints and condemning anti-LGBTQ actions

As time goes on, I’m sure we’ll see the number of people identifying as LGBTQ increase. That’s a good thing. It means more people are living openly, proudly, and authentically.

1 That’s 4½ times the entire population of Tampa.


Negative Self-Talk? English Major to the Rescue!

Everyone has good and bad days.1 On my bad days, I find it hard to silence that little disparaging voice in my head. While I haven’t been able to make that whiny putz shut up, I have been able to lessen his impact. The trick is to use the right words to put some space between yourself and your emotions.

Here’s what language can do:

I am sad: “Is,” a form of “to be,” is a short and powerful word. And, in this context, it’s unhelpful because it makes the word “sad” an immutable characteristic. When I say “I am Dave,” “I am tall,” “I am gay,” and “I am Jewish,” those four things are unchangeable parts of my identity. I can’t not be Dave, tall, gay, or Jewish.2 Sadness is a temporary thing and shouldn’t be on that list. 

I feel sad: Upgrading “is” to “feel” is an improvement because it transforms “sad” from a permanent trait to a state of being. Sadness is no longer something that I am; it’s just what I am experiencing.

I feel sad now: Adding “now” adds a temporal dimension. It means I’m experiencing sadness at the moment, not all the time. 

See, that fancy English degree is helpful in the real world after all! By modifying the words my original thought, sadness becomes something I can observe with some detachment. 

When I use this technique, “I’m stupid” becomes “I did a stupid thing just now,” and “I’m lazy” becomes “I didn’t accomplish as much today as usual.” I’m not hyperbolizing a single event and allowing it to define me. 

The next time you’re dealing with uncomfortable emotions, think about the language you’re using. Small wording changes may make a big difference.

1 Anyone who says they only have good days is either lying or on an all-ketamine diet.
2 The double negative is appropriate and acceptable in this sentence.


A Clown in a Gown

Here’s a video of Bianca del Rio’s opening and closing segments at last night’s Drive N’ Drag show in Tampa. It is distasteful and disrespectful and you’ll be a better person if you don’t watch it.1

1 The person laughing uproariously in the background is me.