Forget Leadership Training! This is how to hit the ground running as a manager. Every sentence provides realistic, practical, and applicable advice for today.

—Ivan Dunmire, EVP, Director of Human Resources, MPG

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No Life for Dummies Manual Here

If you’re searching these pages for answers about how to parent your kids or coach your team or manage your employees, you’ll leave terribly disappointed.    

I don’t sit on a perch above you, able to lob down proclamations about your life. I sit alongside you, engaged in my own struggle to make sense of my own world.

I don’t stand in your shoes, able to see all the moving parts that shape your decisions.  I stand in my own, trying to sort through the variables that should mean something to me.  There are a lot of them.  This is confusing.  Life is complex.

In these pages you’ll find my stories and observations about the way I coach my team and parent my kids and manage my employees.  A few times I think I’ve gotten it right (for me), and I’ll share that.  Plenty of times I think I’ve gotten it wrong (for me), and I’ll share that.  Sometimes I have no idea what to make of my actions, or I’ll see something that makes me scratch my head in wonder, and I’ll share that.  

If you’ve asked me for advice, you’ve heard me respond with “it depends” followed by a gazillion questions designed to get you to arrive at the answer that is best for you—a response that makes you roll your eyes in frustration.  Sure, it would be easier in the short term if I responded with a list of shoulds (like those I get from the countless experts in my life).  “Oh, that’s easy…”

  • You shouldn’t swear in your blog.
  • You should have that looked at.
  • You should sing Kum Bay Yah with your employees on a weekly basis.
  • You shouldn’t pressure your kids so much.
  • You should eat less cheese.

You would nod in agreement.  I would pat you on your knee all grandfatherly.  And I would feel pretty damn good about myself when we parted.  You might even feel good too:  “Man, Sean gave me the answer to life in, like, 15 words.”  But then, just after you put my brilliant advice into action, you’d realize that I had it all wrong, or at least not all the way right.  I didn’t have nearly a sufficient grip on nuance or history or interpersonal dynamics to help you make a well-informed decision. 

I don’t have the answers for you.  I don’t even have the answers for myself.  I just have my eyes wide open looking for them.  And in the process of looking, I sometimes stumble across an insight or an event that caused me to reconsider how I view a small portion of my world.  Maybe such an insight or event is useful to you.

Life would be easier if you could go to a blog and get all the answers.  You can’t—at least not from this one.  I’m not writing the one-size-fits-all Life for Dummies manual here.  Got too much respect for nuance and complexity to take on a task so great.  Plus, it sounds exhausting. 

If you’ve got a guy who’s got the answers (not a guy who thinks he has all the answers – we all have some of them), please let me know.  Would make my life easier, and I could stop writing and get back to work. 

About Sean O’Neil

Sean O’Neil considers himself a workplace and team dynamics expert (which is really a ploy to sell books and speaking engagements).  He is also Principal and CEO of One to One Leadership (, a sales and management training firm with clients that include the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer, News Corporation, First Data, ADP, Xerox, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Knicks.  Sean and John Kulisek co-authored Bare Knuckle People Management:  Creating Success with the Team You Have – Winners, Losers, Misfits and All, which is due to be published in May 2011.  Sean has contributed to or been featured in, among others, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Selling Power Magazine and Incentive Magazine.  He can also frequently be seen pacing the sidelines of a youth team he’s coaching.

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  1. by marijane funess on

    wish all givers of advice were so honest – no one should expect that getting the tough answers to life’s questions should be easy!


    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Agreed. I’ve always had trouble with people’s desire to oversimplify the comlpicated. Thanks for your comment, MJ!


  2. by Sharon Piech on


    Can’t wait to read your book. I know Bill will like it too. Please put me on the pre-order list!

    Sharon (Flynn) Piech


    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Thanks Sharon! Best to you and Bill!


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