Lessons Learned from “I Love New York”

I love New York. Seriously. I totally get why the city chose the phrase as its official motto. I stepped off the train today, inhaled an aromatic brew of garbage, sweet roasted nuts and hustle-bustle (aka, Eau de Manhattan) and grinned. The air is thick with humidity, but my giddiness is far more dense.

My excitement got me thinking during my plane ride. What is it about New York that makes us squeal its motto? Between novel work and spurts of half-sleep, I wrote this post. Alas, I apologize for the peanut smell. 😉

“I Love New York” history, in a nutshell:

In February of 1975, New York nearly collapsed when underwriters withdrew from a $260 million dollar bond issue. City cleaners went on strike. Schools closed. And 300,000 people lost their jobs. In effort to rebuild, the New York Commerce Commission began marketing the state as a tourist hotspot. Advertisers chose “I Love New York” as the slogan because of the deep affection residents historically maintain. It turned up on everything from t-shirts to radio waves, thanks to the official “I Love New York” song by Steve Karmen. Fortunately, the efforts paid off. The motto has stayed strong, as has the spirited city-patriotism of New Yorkers and tourists alike. Inspiring, right?

According to Dr. Keith Dinnie, author of City Branding: Theory and Cases, the best slogans come from within and reveal the true identity of the brand. They’re less about commercialism and more about spirit, authenticity and relationship—New York being a prime example. What if we applied the same principles to our lives? Sounds like success-in-the-making to me.

Lessons Learned from “I Love New York”:

1. Respond to difficulty with love. The woman who responds to losing her job by pursuing her passion, forming a new career she truly loves. The man faced with an illness who decides to put all of his energy into self-care so he can regain health and vitality to share with loved ones. The family enduring financial hardship that downsizes from a house to an apartment so they can continue to pursue careers, hobbies and the togetherness they love. What we focus on grows, love and happiness included.

2. Live authentically. Many of us do. But too many people are afraid to pursue their true passions. Too many stay in relationships, knowing they’re damaging. Some of us dress to impress, while denying our personal style. Others fall prey to addiction, avoiding our true feelings by fixating on drugs, dieting, shopping. Sometimes we don’t even realize our in-authenticity. We struggle with headaches, fatigue, feel like staying in bed or continually rationalizing how “right” or “best” our behaviors are. Self-awareness is a key to unlocking authenticity, according to psychologists.

3. Choose a positive personal mantra. It’s easy to get down ourselves, question our abilities and self-criticize. But none of that moves us forward. When I feel overly critical, I remind myself of the positives and try to treat myself the way I would a close friend. It often works, and the muscle keeps growing stronger. Ever since I trashed my blonde card, I’ve been standing up taller and second-guessing myself since. Words are powerful, particularly when shared with others. Now I’m wondering if avoiding negative self-talk and humor only goes so far. Emphasizing positivity too might make us indomitable…sorta like New York. 😉

So I’d love to know… What’s your “I Love New York?” 

In case you’re short on ideas, consider the following—all via Louise Hays, minus the last one:

As always, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, I’m off to savor New York, ThrillerFest and the company of some of the world’s finest writers and readers. More scoop on my time here soon. 😉

As a gentle reminder, I’m still accepting “I AM A WRITER” photos for a project that will be featured on my website. Email me your photo (august at augustmclaughlin) by July 21st. Cheers!

Leave a comment


  1. We’re going to New York this autumn August. As a kid growing up in Blighty it was always the coolest place on earth. Kojak too! Can’t wait. Best wishes.

  2. I love New York! We used to have a wholesale toy and school supply company. Danny would attend Toy Fair every year. i joined him every other. I loved being on my own all day in the big City. I walked for miles and chatted up everyone. Despite the stuck up reputation, New Yorkers can be a friendly bunch.
    My favorite times were going to the Today Show tapings and then waiting in Will-call for Conan tickets! He does a really funny warm up for the audience. Then I would hit Bergdorfs, Barneys… all the best shops on Park and I had to stop in The Plaza…
    It brought out the adventurer in me. I haven’t been for 2-3 years and am really going through withdrawal…
    Have a blast for me!

    • Sounds like you’ve had wonderful times in NYC, Susie. I agree that New Yorkers are, as a whole, super friendly. And little beats walking around the city solo. 🙂

  3. New York is on my short list of places to visit. So many things to do, and a completely different world than the relaxed Midwest. And of course, I’ll have to do a foodie tour!

    As for personal mantra, I’d have to think about it, but this is great post, August. Love how you tied it to personal motivations.

  4. Coleen Patrick

     /  July 12, 2012

    I love new york! I usually get to go at least once a year. I’ve always seen it as this super cool place, maybe because I was born in northern, NJ. I don’t know, but I could see Manhattan from my grandmother’s kitchen window. 🙂 Have a super time!

  5. I love New York after spending a week in Manhattan for a business conference. It was July 1998. Prior to that, I had misjudged some of the New Yorkers’ I’d met, thinking them arrogant.
    What I learned in not to judge the Big Apple by a few bad apples. I’ve since worked with a large number of New Yorker’s and became good friends with them for reasons similar to to your descriptions. For the most part, the people were easy to like and very good at what they did.

  6. Wonderful post, as usual August 🙂 I’m a HUGE fan of Louise Hays. I’m working through one of her books now. Up until recently, I was all about being who others wanted me to be, and now that I’m living for ME I am so much happier. I have always been a chronic headache & fatigue sufferer…weird, I’ve been going days and weeks without headaches and feeling great all day long. Funny how that all works, eh? 😛

    • Thanks, Kate! Words and messages really can be powerful. I’m so happy to hear that your wellness has improved, thanks to positive use of them.

  7. New York is wonderful! I’ve been there a few times and can’t wait to visit again. Can’t wait to hear more of your conference and experience.

  8. “I Love The Gift I Share” Very nice post!

  9. I love New York too…it’s where I grew up, after all. But, so glad I left it forty-five years ago. Give me southern California any old time! 🙂

  10. LOVE this! Tweeted and facebooked it!

  11. Raani York

     /  July 12, 2012

    *chuckle* – It was 1989 when I was in New York for the first time… and met the biggest idiot on earth there, armed with a knife but no brains… he scared the hell out of me…
    Thank God by thinking back the past 6 years my memories of New York are getting better every time I’m there.

    Another great post August!! I just love them!!!

  12. Fantastic post, August! Since I spent a large part of my life in NYC and grew up in its suburbs, I have a deep love for it. It’s a place where you can be both big and small, where you can experience the best and the worst, where people of every size, shape and color merge, and where being different doesn’t make you an outcast. Your three lessons are spot on and I really couldn’t add anything better than those. Have great time!

  13. I’ve never been to NY, August, but I hope to one day see it. Needless to say, I live the dream vicariously through Florence Fois, of the Fois In The City blog. She does frequent posts about her beloved city and I learn something new every time.

    Have a great time in NY!

  14. mgedwards

     /  July 12, 2012

    Have fun in New York, August! I love New York. Try to find some time to sleep. 🙂

  15. Nicely done. 🙂 “Treat yourself as you would your best friend” is great advice and something that has been nagging at me for about 4 months. It’s true: it works. I just have to remember it more often.

  16. I spent a couple of days in NYC at the Writers Digest Conference in January. It was a nice place to visit, but give me wide open spaces anytime 🙂

  17. lynetteburrows

     /  July 13, 2012

    Great post, August, even with the peanut smell. 🙂

    I haven’t been to NYC in years but when I could visit, it was always an adventure. I’m more of a small town girl, but there are definitely things I love about NYC.

    As for my personal mantra, you may have guessed mine: Be the Hero of your own story. It means a mix of follow your own quest, your own star and be the best that you can be.

    Hope you have a fantabulous time in NYC and at Thrillerfest (I’m there in spirit)

  18. I need to do the positive mantra thang a little more often!

    I’ve never been to NY but would love to see it. I admit it scares me a little. I’ve lived in this little town – pop 1,000 when all the tourists are gone – for near 8 years and now when I go to a “big city” (even Asheville – which ain’t big I tell you! :-D) I become nervous! Lawd. But, to see NY would be an iconic thing for me.

  19. I am hopeful we will return to live in NYC sometime in the next year 🙂 Great post on a wonderful place

  20. Marc Schuster

     /  July 13, 2012

    Looks like we just missed each other… My wife and I visited New York last weekend!

  21. Hi August,
    I just love this posting. The I love NY syndrome has spread all over the world and wherever you go you can see I love Paris or I love London. NY is a trendsetter. But not only that, I enjoyed how you linked the I love NY to how we feel about ourselves. Thank you for this very encouraging post.

  22. Kourtney Heintz

     /  July 13, 2012

    Awesome post August! Great tips spun from a fun topic too. Very memorable. I guess my mantra would be I love my emotions. I’m not going to feel bad for my feelings anymore. 🙂 I’m going to love all the experiences they give me. All great fodder for writing!

    Have fun at ThrillerFest can’t wait to hear all about it!

  23. I Love NY, is a motto coined for the state but popularly used for city NYC.
    I love NY because it’s vibrant, it’s cosmopolitan and it’s a cultural salad bowl (over a melting point) where culture reside close to each other complimenting & adding flavor to each other’s culture while still retaining their own identity at some level. May be that’s the reason it’s my home for decade and a half!

  24. Great Post. It made me think of one of my Fave. Madonna songs:

  25. There’s nothing like the people in New York. I’ve found them to be the warmest, most interesting people in the world. Plus, there’s nothing like walking in Central Park.

  26. Hey August, great thoughts in this blog post. My favorite to date!!

    First off, I have only been to NYNY one time. My father being from Brooklyn, made the trip that much more insightful. I was there on business and was able to schedule a gig on the lower east side having many clients and some corp managers come out on a Friday Night to here me play. It was awesome; the city, the culture, restaurants, the ambiance- what an amazing city. We played a game after the gig, where clients/friends and I went from one to pub to the next ordered a round and I was challenged to pick a willing soul, group, or couple at the pub and solo for them on my harmonica – We couldn’t leave the pub until I did that. We must have hit at least 10 pubs, the listeners were anywhere from game to indifferent, yet, most were pleased to participate in our spontaneous game. A rare, fun night with great friends for me- special memory indeed.

    I loved what you wrote about authenticity. Especially addiction. The coping behavior rears it’s ugly head in myriad forms often difficult to notice when it isn’t drugs, alchohol or other degrading or socially unaccepted behaviors. Yet, Yes! it is sad to not find your spirit liberated congruent to all it has conviction to be regardless of external force. Awesome subject!! thanks for sharing.

  27. NY is a big deal for me as it is the first city I travelled to by myself, despite my anxiety disorder. I went to the Writer’s Digest conference, and I told myself nothing was going to stop me. Not even the blizzard. Not even getting lost. Nothing. I was successful, so now NYC holds a special place in my heart, because of that city I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it. 🙂 Enjoy your visit.

  28. Running from Hell with El

     /  July 16, 2012

    Morning August!! I was writing a comment this weekend and then I got distracted. I’ve been to NYC a few times, on business, and pleasure, and what I remember is the clarity of the blue-gray water, as I looked out from a Manhattan sky scraper. And hearing Mass at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And meeting with a client charged with $250 bank fraud in another part of Manhattan.

    The city is so special, even if it gives me a bit of a headache!

    As far as mantras, I’ve had different ones, especially for the marathons I’ve run. In the first one, I kept saying, “I’m going to make it.” In another one: “This is my city (DC).” In another one, “Whatever it takes.”

    But for day-to-day struggles, I go with, “I’m gonna be okay. It’s gonna be alright.”

  29. Enjoy your bite of the Big Apple, August!

  30. I LOVE NY too! It’s my favorite city on earth…so much to do and so much excitement, it’s overwhelming, in a good way!


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