1: BE CAREFUL, TED
The trick to being a self-help guru? Charge insecure people for useless information they could have found on the internet. If you haven’t twigged this yet, then why not try our ‘7 Secrets of Gorgeous Intelligent Rich Thin People ’ seminar. It might seem a little steep at €950 for an afternoon session in a provincial hotel, but that price includes one free cup of tea and two Bourbon Creams from Aldi. And with a bit of luck you’ll be able to pawn it off on the next eejit down the chain. If you think this all sounds like a pyramid scheme of ideas, then you are starting to get the idea. Hopefully you won’t get the full idea before you register for our seminar.
You are now ready to take advantage of our words of wisdom in this guide. A word of warning. You will hear a lot of fellow gurus talking about TED Conferences. This is where lots of needy people sit in a giant theatre and nod along to an cheerful billionaire. It’s like religion for cool people.
In the rest of the world, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. That’s why it’s cool. Unfortunately in Ireland TED stands for a priest on Craggy Island. That’s why it’s not cool. There is no point in telling Irish people you went to a talk by some tech start-up guy whose brain was the size of a small planet. The minute you say the word TED, they will all think exactly the same thing – ‘that’s mad’. It’s our internal Fr. Dougal. We can’t help it. To hear more, why not sign up for our, ‘Man Up, You Waste of Space’ refresher bootcamp? It’s keenly priced at €199. You should be aware this only covers one Bourbon Cream. Bring your own tea.
2: YOU LOOK LIKE CRAP
This is the big one. (Says you, introducing a friend who could do with losing a few pounds.) There is a real demand out there for someone to patronise middle-Ireland back into shape by humiliating them in public. Unfortunately that ground is currently occupied by Operation Transformation.
You’ll need a different approach. It’s time to target a section of the Irish population who do could do with a change of diet. Enter middle-aged men. They are not just good for putting out the bins and plodding on through life when it all seems a bit pointless.
Middle-aged, middle Ireland man is gone mad for the extreme marathons and sponsored cycling trips to Cape Town. The upside is that he is trim and toned. The downside is with the thinning hair, sunken cheek bones and sun-fried skin, he also looks like a posh crack addict. This defeats the purpose of all that training, which is to attract the attention of young ones.
You need to target these men with a book and specially designed range of snack-foods. Go for the jugular with the book. Call it ‘The Au Pair Won’t Notice Because You Look Like Shit’. Don’t worry about insulting them, they hear much worse at home. The cover is vital. If you think putting a random semi-naked woman on the front is a bad idea, you’re in the wrong business. The only problem with one semi-naked woman is that it isn’t two – you know what to do.
Obviously, your range of food should be organic and 100% Irish. Focus on TV ads. You’ll need a fella with a culchie accent to stand in a field and say he made it himself. Never mind that it’s a smoothie made in Belgium from rotten kiwis. We trust culchies in fields for some reason.
3: THE DECLUTTER GURU
Meet Jaysus Man. He is the Irish guy who goes to a bus-stop or train station in continental Europe and has only word when the thing turns up on time – Jaysus. We’ve all been there, but not for long. The continentals are pretty good at organising things. We’re not.
There is plenty demand for a guru to whip us into shape. Half the country is stuck in a negative equity house that is bursting at the seams with expensive youngsters. So we recommend you focus on becoming the Declutter Guru. A top tip could be to throw out the pile of letters from the bank reminding homeowners they are to blame for everything. You could also point out their house wouldn’t be so cramped if they hadn’t stuffed it with clever storage solutions from Ikea.
Resist the temptation to go on a nationwide tour. You’re dealing with a lot of scatterbrains here. Half the people will turn up late in odd shoes and ask if they can take a loan of your pen. You’re much better off with a book in these circumstances.
You will need a snappy title. Try ‘Clean Up Your Gaff, You Filthy Slob.’ No one ever went broke in this country telling Irish people they are worthless and lazy. Put a picture of that one Kirstie Allsopp from Location, Location, Location on the front. Women respect her straight talking. Irish men get turned on by a strong willed English one with a twinkle in her eye. It’s a Maggie Thatcher thing. Use it.
Go for simple advice in the book. Chapter One should be called Get Rid of The Mantelpiece. That alone should get rid of 70% of rubbish in your house, when you take into account old phone bills and 14 Christmas cards from 2005. It doesn’t matter what you call Chapter 2. They’ll have lost the book down behind the couch long before they get that far.
There was a time when detox meant brown rice, prunes and four hours in the jacks. Not any more. When people talk about detox these days, they mean cleaning people out of their life. As you can imagine, the Americans are big into this type of detox because it means they don’t have to give up triple decker Fatty Burgers. But what about us?
Obviously the notion of ditching all your friends and starting again is attractive to some Irish people, particularly if your name is Lucinda Creighton. Or if you went into partnership with some old school friends in late 2007 and bought up half of Roscommon.
That said, we do not see much opportunity for personal detox in this country. Why? For one thing we have a poor track record when it comes to breaking it off. Research shows that 72% of Irish couples should have broken up years ago. Except most attempted break ups take place in a pub, where they fall foul of ‘You’re Not So Bad After Two Pints’ syndrome. One more pint and they’re discussing marriage.
The other reason is we don’t like the personal detox is because it’s a small world when you come from Ireland. Even if you ditch someone in college and wipe them out of your life forever, there is a strong chance you will end up end up staying in the same apartment complex as them in Lanzarote. Irish people know only one way out of that kind of awkwardness. Go boozing with their ex friend and don’t mention the war. Even after 8 hours of solid pinting in The Thirsty Mick across from the marina. Say nothing.
5: BE LIKE THE ROY
The hottest thing to hit the Irish self-help arena in 2014? Dragons.
Dragons are Angels for men. Here’s a refresher on the Angels thing for those of you who just moved here from the moon. A lot of women stopped going to mass after the child abuse scandals and instead starting praying to this imaginary crowd of angels if they wanted to get a husband or a Mini Cooper. (This is only a very slight simplification.)
Irish men didn’t buy it. They refuse to believe there is something ‘out there’ unless they’ve had at least five pints. Dragons are different. They are basically pissed-off Angels. This appeals to Irish men. They are obsessed with any form of life that that is completely unhappy about everything. What else could explain their love affair with Roy Keane?
The truth is that most Irish men want to me more like Roy Keane. (Make that Ronan O’Gara for professional types because they would find it hard to take life lessons from the working classes.) You need to tap into this obsession with cranky Cork men.
Your pitch to the men of Ireland is simple. They are surrounded by cranky Dragons, driving them on to greatness by sneering at their efforts in a Cork accent. This will come as a huge relief to Paddy, who worries the guy scoffing at his every move is actually a voice inside his head.
Your crackpot theory will be outlined in a guaranteed bestseller called ‘Be Like the Roy.’ It encourages Irish men to ask what would Roy think of this. So for instance, you might ask your Dragon what does he think of your new shed? That would be in the chapter called ‘Seriously, Do You Call that A Shed?’ Obviously you might want to get his book out before Roy’s Ireland lose 1-0 at home to Rockall and Hove Albion. That could really affect sales.
6: MAKE THAT FORTUNE
There is always room on the shelf for a book called ‘Why aren’t you Donald Trump (Other Than the Fact you’re a Woman with your Own Hair)?’ The challenge is pitching it to a nation of economic experts.
It would have been no problem five years ago. Back then anyone who could explain bond yields was given his own television channel. This is known as the David McWilliams Effect. This doesn’t work anymore. Why? Because you’ll find people leafing through the Economist in dentists’ waiting room these days rather than looking at an 8 page pull-put of Gerald Kean in some celebrity magazine. It’s that serious.
So you’ll have to come up with something better than buy low, sell high. Self-Help books love a counter-intuitive title. Try a book called ‘Buy High, Sell Low’ about your cousin Andy who got into property in 2006. Stick a photo of a Nazi dominatrix giving poor Andy what for on the front cover. That would work on a number of levels.
You’ll need to follow that up with a get rich scheme. Don’t mind stocks and shares. Donal and Nuala know from their time at the dentist that shares will continue to go up while America prints money, and then they will come crashing down like the bejaysus. They’re not going to pay for that information.
. You need to find a consensus and stand against it. The current consensus is that Irish people will never again trust property. The truth is that most of us learned one thing from the crash – property is the business as long as you don’t get caught out like poor Andy.
So call your book ‘Property is the new Property: You Deserve Eight Range Rovers.’ And maybe put a photo of a Nazi Dominatrix on the front. That’s never a bad idea.
7: LEAN OUT
You might have heard of Lean In. It swept the United States last year when the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, released a book called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Women loved it. It told them they could have it all without feeling guilty that their kids were being raised by a teenage girl from Warsaw. Some men felt the book should have been called The Guide to Awesome Nagging: How to Make his Life Hell. They didn’t say it in public. Nobody is that stupid.
Sheryl’s book told women they need to get their partners to do more parenting and housework. This offers a massive opportunity for an aspiring self-help guru. Someone has to advise men how to dodge that bullet. Your book title is obvious. Lean Out: Men, Home and How to Avoid Filling the Dishwasher.
Chapter One is called ‘Jesus, It would be Faster to do it Myself’. This tells men how to make a balls of simple house-hold and parenting tasks so that their frustrated wife will cry out the name of the chapter. Make sure to include a diagram showing how to put a onesie on a baby back to front. It’s not as easy as you might think – but it’s so worth the effort. As for tumble drying woollens, we recommend it.
Chapter Two is called ‘Extreme Cycling or Massive Therapy Bills – The Choice is Yours. This shows a guy how to convince his partner he will become heavily depressed if he doesn’t go on cycling trips around Mayo with his buddies every second weekend. It also lists the best pubs in Westport.
Chapter Three shows how to change a nappy. Because if the first two chapters don’t work lads, you’re screwed.
8: LOOK EAST
You need to be a little bit Asian. This can often be achieved by just pausing for a couple of seconds before answering a question. It should make you look inscrutable. But it might also make you look extremely high. It’s a thin line. So be careful.
The advantage of appearing like Mr Miyagi is that a whole generation of Irish people reckon the Asians have it cracked . This is the Year Around the World generation who stopped off in Asia for a month before going to live near Bondi Beach with four fellas from Carrickmacross. They went to India first but it was packed with poor people. They quickly moved on to Thailand where Donal and Nuala didn’t notice the poverty because they were off their heads on cheap cocktails. Donal would have had his first taste of exotic sex there. Never mind that is was a ladyboy, you have to start somewhere.
That generation is back in Ireland now with kids, mortgages and a sense that their best days are behind them. You should tap into this. The Year around the World generation can’t look at their Thailand photos because it reminds of when they were thin. There is an ideal solution to all this. Yoga.
We’re not suggesting for a moment that the Yoga market is unregulated. But a soothing voice and a copy of the CD they play in your local Indian restaurant might be enough to get your started. A word to the wise. The yoga thing has moved on a bit. It’s all about extra suffering these days, and the latest thing is Hot Yoga. Some men think that means turning up early so they can get the spot behind the hot Latvian one. They are wrong. It actually just means turning up the heat. So before you advertise your Hot Yoga class, make sure you have access to the thermostat in the parish hall. And don’t forget to pause before answering a question.
9: FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE
1995 to 2007 were the glory days for the Irish worker. Back then he or she had what was known as a career. It didn’t matter where you sat in an organisation. Even an Assistant Junior Piss Boy could look forward ten years and see himself sitting in a glass tower in Shanghai saying “I’m sorry Bruno, this just doesn’t work for me. Hand in your badge at reception, you prick.” (Piss-boys would have built up a lot of bitterness over the years.)
Fast forward to 2014 and anyone lucky enough to be employed has what it is known as a job. This is what the old man had back in the day, and is therefore embarrassing. You can still remember him trudging out to work every day with a Tupperware box of corn beef sandwiches and a Wagon Wheel. The misery of it all. This presents a huge opportunity to a self-help career guru like yourself.
Be careful. A lot of people go down the American route here with books like ‘Get the Corner Office Buddy, You Deserve It.’ That’s too Up with People for us these days. We tried positivity there for a while and look where that got us.
What Irish people want right now is bitterness. That’s what will drive us on. So you should start with a series of lectures titled ‘How to Get Dave from Accounts Suspended Without Pay.’ Follow this on with a self-help guide to career change called ‘You are Five Days from telling the Boss to Shove her Job up her Arse.’ If you are bringing out an American edition, you might feel tempted to change Arse to Fanny in the title. Don’t. Someone will bring a copy home and you’ll end up on Liveline.
Don’t forget the youth market. The young people will be delighted to read your succinct guide to a career in Ireland. Even if it is called ‘Cheap Flights to Canada – An Idiots Guide’
The Rapture is where Jesus comes back on judgement day and takes all the true believers back to his place. If you haven’t heard of it, then you can go to hell. It’s that simple.
The whole rapture thing is huge in the States because they’d believe anything. (Just look at The Gathering.) In fact, some sources reckon that the top ten spots in the New York Times Bestseller list would be occupied by rapture books if they counted sales from Christian stores. So get writing.
For your book to succeed in the Irish market, it needs to tap into our deepest fears. Put picture of a guy standing outside a pub on Good Friday on the cover. Or an illustration of Gerry Adams welcoming guests to Aras an Uachtarain. The title is important. Don’t worry about it being snappy – most self-help titles are so long you feel like taking a nap after reading the front cover. Maybe try ‘It’s no longer enough to give all your money to the Nuns – 100 ways to make sure you’re not left behind.’ If snappy is really your thing, then go for ‘Who’s Sorry Now?’
Next you need to pick a date for the rapture. We reckon some time in 2015 would be a huge hit. It will allow true believers who are in negative equity to send the following letter to their bank. Dear Sir or Madam, Shag off. (Up) Yours, Gerry. The world ending in 2015 has another attraction for our new crop of Holy Joes. It means missing the Easter Rising Centenary in 2016, when we will all be forced to pretend we are in love with Padraig Pearse. That sounds like hell to us.