Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ten Questions with Author James Giambrone, Jr.

I read Wisdom is the Answer, Common Sense is the Way by James Giambrone, Jr. for two reasons. The first and main reason is I have none of the two attributes mentioned in the title. The second reason is its author Giambrone aka David Sullivan is a good friend of mine. I read most of the book during a particularly rough week in my life and have to admit that the BESNL helped. It works even under the acid test.

I thought it would be best to learn more about his work in his own words, so I asked to interview him. David gladly accepted my request and here are his responses:

1. What was your motivation/inspiration/impetus to write a book about teaching common sense?

It developed over time in combination with my personal motto, the purpose of my life is to serve. As a martial artist and police officer (retired from each) I focused on facts, analyzed problems and seeking solutions. I’m also a massage therapist and did that part-time while working police work full time. In effect I became a mini life coach to many people. After hearing for a decade, ‘You should write a book’, I did, to help others live better lives.

2. You discuss many different relaxation techniques, memorization exercises, etc. Have you tried all of them? Did you have some collaborators for the different methods?

Yes, I’ve done everything. I have favorites that I regularly use. My collaborators were instructors, peers and anyone that taught me something. Thus, I drew from life.

3. Do you still use all of the memorization techniques or do they teach your mind to become sharp enough to remember well enough without having to resort to them?

Memory, like muscles, need regular exercise or else it slips. I periodically review my own book, for memory tactics and other issues. A key to success is to have fun in everything you do.

4. The BESNL method (Breathe, Exhale, Smile, Nod and Laugh) seems to be simple enough to relax, but my laugh usually comes out as rather maniacal or between clenched teeth. Does that still count?

Oh, yes it does. Every step closer to the goal is helpful, although I suggest you invite your teeth and jaw to be relaxed!

5. I read the lion’s share of your book during a week, which was particularly vexing (actually it was one of the worst weeks of my life). What advice would you have for someone frustrated with BESNL or who claims it doesn’t work for them?

Either give it time to succeed or find something else. Nothing works for everyone. There are no secrets. If you don’t like the cooking at one restaurant, go to another. I’ve helped a lot of people, I resistfully accept that I can’t help everyone, which will likely affect my application for sainthood. Try just deep breaths to relax. Or deep breaths with an image of a place that is calm, peaceful, loving and safe for you. It can be a fantasy or something from your past.

6. Tough question: You used the phrase “Get over it” at least three times in the book. I consider it one of the most callous, insensitive phrases ever coined. I think it’s merely a nicer (but not nice) way of saying “I’m tired of listening to your problems. Shut up and leave me alone.” Do you feel it’s an effective tool or good advice for common sense?

Yes, it is. “Get over it” is a tool that I put on the table. You decide if you want to use it. As with all words and phrases, the delivery and intent is crucial. “You did a good job on that” can be healing or hurtful. All words and phrases can have good or bad meanings, perception is the key. Remember, there are four basic personality styles, so we need different tools to deal with any situation. Obviously, ‘get over it’ fails for you. That’s okay. Another useful tattic is ‘TTMO’, Time To Move On. There are solutions. Sometimes it takes a search. The background behind, ‘get over it’, is to make the decision to do better. It’s amazing that many people need to be taught that. And as I wrote, dealing with me is like shopping at the store. Take what you want and leave the rest.

7. You mention that professionals with advanced degrees should let people know what they stand for. I have a Ph.D., but it would be quite tedious to spell out “Doctoral Degree of Philosophy in Analytical Chemistry” on business cards, documents, etc. You even agree that it saves space to use the initials instead, but it’s difficult to have it both ways. How should I let people know what these letters mean?

Since ‘Ph.D’ is so common, no further explanation is needed on a card. But for other more obtuse titles they can be explained on the back of a business card, in a brochure or when making personal contact. After all, what good are the letters if they are not understood? Just like restaurants that serve foreign food and offer a menu item in the non-English name. Of course, I’m talking about places in the US. What good is it if the customer doesn’t understand it? Restaurant owners who use common sense give both, the foreign name of the dish and English. My point: see how we can be better!

8. In Chapter 20, you write the two hardest jobs are being a parent and being a spouse, because they are the ones we receive the ‘least amount of training’. Shouldn’t you have added that we also receive the ‘greatest amount of criticism’?

If I had thought of that, I would have. Seriously, it’s a major issue around the world. I pray that we all can do our best, or as close to it as is reasonable, and be kind when judging others. Yes, I know I’m leaving myself open on the issue if we should judge our peers.

9. Later in Chapter 20, there is a section starting with ‘Let’s have…” You seem to get up on your soap box. It felt rather tangential to the sections about common sense. What was the motivation for writing that section?

First, the entire book is my soapbox. After I looked up tangential and reviewed chapter 20, I believe all those points fit perfectly with common sense. That you feel that section of the chapter digresses is simple proof of one of my comments in the book, the message sent was not the message received. Every point made there is based on real life. Many of the issues have caused injury or death. Being careful enhances living. I know we’re a bit limited for space so I’ll avoid mentioning a few dozen of my points, so I’ll invite readers to buy my book. I’m completely confident there is something for everyone there.

10. Last question. Are you absolutely sure I don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease? It really would explain a lot.

Well, not absolutely sure, but confident enough that I’d bet on it. You are afflicted with the human factor, thus, you’re not perfect yet, but in my eyes, you’re a darned good, loving and altruistic person. You are a credit to our species. Thanks so much for inviting me to spent time with you!! Your reviews of my writing have been refreshingly helpful.

Look for David Sullivan's work Stopped for Speeding April 22 from Loveyoudivine Alterotica's Bi-Line at

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