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I had drinks on Friday with a very Clever professor from K State, and in our discussions I realized the articulation of Clever has become much broader than I had originally intended.I believe this to be a good thing and have very much enjoyed the readers driving the content- HOWEVER, there is still a concept here, and it is VAST at the same time as it is SIMPLE.

Those who are Clever are willing to learn, to grow, to experience, to stretch, expand and broaden their interest base to enrich the flavor and texture of who they are. In doing so, several amazing things tend to happen. Suddenly, you have new and exciting topics to discuss with others- not just on dates, but with your parents, your business associates and those you meet in social situations. You find you have interesting hobbies that put you square in the path of others who share them, you gain confidence in how you approach others and find you converse more skillfully. Best of all- you learn the value of making an effort.

Clever is about making an effort. If you want to meet men- get off your ass and start going to places men go, do things men like to do, learn about the aspects of life men find interesting and worthwhile, become conversant in their leisure pursuits. But don’t be false. If you try something and you don’t like it- don’t do it or pretend to like it. Internalize the experience and respect the fact others might enjoy it and like discussing it.

If you want be a better father- get off your ass and start talking to people, asking questions and looking your children in the eye when you engage with them. When they tell you they are bored- because they are- instead of saying- “Go …” say, “Let’s …” All they really want is your time- vote with TIME and you will BE a great father.

If you want to deepen the relationship with your father- get to KNOW him. One of the greatest honors in this life is to be known- so KNOW. Ask him questions- find out how the life he has lived shaped him- don’t forget, it also shaped you- literally. Do some research ahead of time. If he was in the Korean war, do some reading. Ask poignant questions, not- “What was being in the war like?” That is the same as saying “How are you?” It is a platitude and it lets the other person know you don’t really want to hear the REAL answer.Because let’s be honest- isn’t the answer to “What was being in the war like?” “It freaking sucked” -?

If you want to meet some new people- DO something. I will continue to caution myself against telling you to STOP doing things (unless it’s STOP being a spoiled, indulged, selfish, self-centered, egotistical, hateful, abusive person) because Clever is about starting to DO.

Strike up conversations- ask questions of others- do not prattle endlessly about yourself. It’s called a conversation because there are logical turn slots- I say something and then you say something relevant in some way to what I said- until an obvious segue – which should NOT be in the form of interrupting the other person or redirecting the focus to yourself – presents itself to switch topics.

As we enter the holiday season- we will all be confronted with endless social opportunities- so let’s get talking! Let’s do a little research and put ourselves in the right place at the right time to ask that shamelessly handsome guy from PR whether Toby Gerhart has a chance at the Heisman (the answer is no)- because you overheard him say he went to Stanford.

Have purpose. Be intentional. Be Clever. Today and Every. Single. Day.

Have an important interview or evaluation coming up at the end of the year? Find out every single thing you can about the person conducting it and get busy. Oh, they attended Virginia Tech? Ask what a Hokie is. It’s their mascot- which isn’t really an answer to the question- but the term was used in a spirit chant written in 1896 by O.M. Stall and it goes like this- FYI (more information than nine of 10 need):

Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.

Techs, Techs, V.P.I.

Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.Polytechs

Vir-gin-ia.Rae, Ri, V.P.I.

So, it’s not really a bird as the physical representation would suggest- but a word.

The point is- be active. Begin any situation knowing what you want to achieve. If you attend a Scotch tasting- a goal might be to learn enough to talk to your brother and share his favorite drink, which might lead to more conversations.

Brushing up on hockey might spur a desire to learn more, to attend a game- to buy a couple tickets and invite the impossibly dashing friend of a friend whom you overheard expressing close to rabid interest in the NY Rangers.

If your mother likes to cook and never ventures out to enjoy the meal- take a cooking class and ask her to teach you a few of her recipes. KNOW and it might lead to being KNOWN.

Can you imagine going on a second date with a man, you text him you are pulling into the valet and when you arrive there is a perfectly chilled dirty martini with three blue cheese-stuffed olives because he REMEMBERED you telling him it was your favorite drink?Granted, he is probably trying to get you hammered- totally kidding. He listened to you. Isn’t that lovely? He invested time in your happiness and comfort. So much more romantic than a glass of Champagne because he can’t remember what you drank last time and doesn’t every girl LOVE Champagne? The answer is no, and prosecco is not Champagne just because there are bubbles- bubbles do not a Champagne make. We will get into the difference between Champagne and methode champenoise at another time.

This leads me to the point I wanted to make. It ties in again with gift-giving- ’tis the season. I received a gift the other day- it was via iTunes from a friend from college. We’ve known each other for 20 years and had not talked until finding one another on Facebook. Ours was a friendship I cherished but was robbed of by time, space and coming of age. The gift was the new solo album by Dave Gahan, lead singer of Depeche Mode. My first thought was not that I had received the gift of music, but that he remembered my preoccupation with Depeche Mode and it wasn’t something we’d talked about recently.

I realized true gifts are being listened to, being heard, being loved, being known, being appreciated, being recognized, being championed, being supported, having your hand held, having someone walk through something with you, being admired, being respected, being adored, being cherished, being held, being kissed, being complimented and just BEING.

If any of the above sound like gifts you would like to receive, then make a list of those to whom you plan to give them.

I heard a shocking and ugly statistic today- Americans spend an average of $450 billion dollars a year on Christmas and it would only take $10 billion to provide clean potable water to everyone in the world. Is this the new death by consumption?