Featured Non-Fiction Author  

 

Mastering Cheap Psychological Tricks:

Motivational Speaker and Author
Dr. Perry W. Buffington, Ph. D.

By Joyce Dixon
 
 

 

 

 

Dr. Perry Buffington is a licensed psychologist who lectures full time to business, educational and professional organizations on leadership and problem-solving. A native Georgian now living in Florida, Dr. Buffington is a former contributing editor for Delta Air Lines in-flight magazine, Sky. He hosted "The Dr. Buff Show" and "ParentWise" on radio.  Dr. Buffington has been a guest expert on CNN, and his articles on human behavior have appeared in national and international media.  He is the author of eight books on parenting and practical applications of psychological techniques, as well as an anecdotal history of Atlanta.  

He is currently working on Cheap Psychological Tricks for Moms and Dads (available Spring, 2002) and a new cheap tricks book about money.

You have mastered marketing your field of knowledge in a wide variety of outlets (radio, TV, columnist, seminar speaker, books, etc.). Did one outlet lead to another? What is your trick for time management and organization?
 
Any genius here, I think, is just an accidental illusion. They've just been one luck break after another. I wish I could tell you that I started out with the desire to be a nationally syndicated writer, but the truth is it happened by accident, and one thing lead to another to another to another. I finished up with a Ph.D. in child psychology, and the writing career started with a cold-call letter.  Here's the story. One day I was flying from New York to Atlanta. I was bored, so I picked up a copy of Sky Magazine, the official magazine of Delta Air Lines. In it was an article entitled, "Blame it on the Croats." The writer was a Ph.D., and it was an article about the origin of neckties. I read it, and thought out loud, "That's one stupid article."  In a flash of insight, I remember thinking, "I can write stupid articles just like that." So I wrote down the name of the publisher, but neglected to jot down the name of the editor. Got home, sat down in front of my green Remington manual typewriter, and didn't know how to address the letter. How do I start the letter. "Dear Sir?" "Dear Madame?" When all of a sudden, I saluted the editor with "Dear Gentlepeople." Well, it turned out that the editor was a textbook feminist. She was so flattered that she received one non-sexist letter that day, well, she called and hired me on the spot. I wrote 125 consecutive monthly articles for Delta, 60 million readers a year. This run ended in 1991.
 
I call this my 15 cent investment. That was the price of the postage stamp, and my entire career can be traced back to this one cold-call letter.
 
As far as time management, no trick. I enjoy juggling lots of projects at the same time. When I hit a wall with one, I move to the other. Somehow magically I make the deadlines. I've never missed a deadline in my life.
 
For Southern writers, ARCHIVAL ATLANTA, your book with Kim Underwood, is an interesting collection of obscure facts about the history of Atlanta, Georgia. Was the book an exercise in fact-checking items of which you had knowledge; or did you discover most of the facts through research? As a trivia buff (couldn't resist), do you have plans for future books of this genre?
 
A lot of the stories, I knew. And if you look closely at the book, you'll see that there are two clear parts. I teasingly referred to them as B.C. (Before Coke) and A.D. (After the drink.) I was more interested in the parts B.C., and Kim was more interested in the stuff A.D. I was glad, because I think Atlanta after Gone With the Wind is pretty boring. Many of the stories I remember because of good old GPTV when I was growing up. There was a lady named Bernice McCullar, and she could tell a story better than anybody I've ever heard. Well, when I was in the fourth grade, this lady did a show on GPTV called, "This Is Your Georgia." That's where I got the foundation for the book, and then the rest was the result of lots of hours in the Atlanta History Center. Wonderful people, by the way.
 
Your column for Universal Press Syndicate has become one of the most active in their catalog. Do you see self-quizzes as a tool for personal inventory, entertainment, or a bit of both? Do you find interactive self-quizzes on the Internet more user friendly then those in magazines?
 
There's no doubt, the quizzes are popular, and I think they're lot more fun on the internet than in magazines. When you take them on line, the computer scores them for you, and then you get a "Dr. Buff interpretation," which are pretty fun. I write them in a way where the response from me catches the reader a little off guard. When they read my answer back to them, I want the reader to say, "I didn't expect to hear that." I write a feature and a quiz for Universal Press each week. Some papers buy only the feature, others buy the quizzes, and some buy them both. It's a creative trick to come up with a column and tangentially related quiz. You see, they both must stand alone, and be related at the same time.
 
As we move toward a society of telecommuters rather than in-office staff, what impact do you see this having on the corporate ladder and business interaction?
 
Interactions and office relations will become more cut-throat. If I don't have to look at you face-to-face each day, in essence if I don't bond with you (pardon the psychobabble), then if it's necessary to down-size, right-size, up-size, out-of-sight is out of mind. In other words, emotional attachments will fall by the way side, and this teamwork garbage will be just another management fad. After all, since the 1970s, corporations have adopted one new management fad every 1.5 years. They'll never learn.
 
What advice would you give to depressed writers with a stack of rejections?
 
Everything we do in this life in general is "on approval."  With writers, editors put our approval or non-approval in writing. I got a reject letter just the other day from an editor who said she thought my ideas were totally wrong.

Bottom line: Expect a 15:1 ratio. Even the most seasoned writers get fifteen rejections before they ever get one acceptance. I've got seven books to my credit, and editors still want a proposal. How to deal with rejection, just get over it. The best advice I can give is one a friend gave me years ago. Do something, some little thing, no matter how small to further your career each day. When you do that you may get a lot of rejections, but you'll get more "atta boys/girls," too!
 
What is your favorite exercise for maximizing creativity in your writing?
 
It's hard to use the words, creativity and routine, in the same breath, but routine is my best creativity exercise. I've learned the times of day that  I'm my most productive--mornings for me--and I work my writing schedule around those times. Also, I stop projects in mid-sentence. I don't wait until I get to a good place to stop, I just stop. Years ago I learned in psychology school about the  Zeigarnik Effect. It's the tendency for the brain to forget completed tasks and remember non-completed tasks or failures longer. So, if I stop in mid-sentence, I just let my brain think it's a failure and allow it to continue to work longer and harder subconsciously, while I work on other stuff.
 


Cheap Psychological Tricks (interactive column)
http://www.uexpress.com/cheappsychologicaltricks/ 
 
Dr. Perry W. Buffington Ph. D.: Psychologist, Author, Media Personality
http://www.drbuffington.com/buffington_bio.htm

Selected Books by Dr. Perry Buffington
  

Cheap Psychological Tricks for Lovers, Peachtree Publishers, 2000

Cheap Psychological Tricks: What to Do When Hard Work, Honesty, and Perseverance Fail, Peachtree Publishers, 1996

Your Behavior is Showing: Forty Prescriptions for Understanding and Liking Yourself. Hillbrook House, 1988.
 
Archival Atlanta: Electric Street Dummies, the Great Stonehenge Explosion, Nerve Tonics, and Bovine Laws. with Kim Underwood. Peachtree Publishers, 1996.


2001 Joyce Dixon, All Rights Reserved