An Uncle's Advice To His Nephew

An Uncle's Advice To His Nephew
So proud to see he has the sippy cup "secured" like a football.








Dear Jack,

You’re only 22 months old and on the cusp of the terrible two’s! As your 40 yr. old uncle, I wanted to impart some advice and wisdom. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this and if the world changes as much as it has in my life you could be enjoying this on the moon or on the “road” a la Cormac McCarthy.

Before I begin, be leery of anyone giving advice in an elevator or declares them self the wing man of a city or a food snob. Be your own man and make your own decisions; accept the consequences that come with your convictions.

Here’s some advice for you and your life ahead.

  • Some will say don’t be an asshole! I say this is very relative. If your daughter’s boyfriend thinks you’re being an asshole, remind him your uncle will help you hide the body. But if your girlfriend or wife thinks you’re being an asshole, take a deep breath and think about what you’re doing.
  • Listen to your mother. She drives me crazy too. I’ve known her longer and I know she can be crazy but she loves you more than you know. You need to be there for her always, always.
  • Be a Renaissance Man – this is the best advice I ever got. Learn a little about a lot and be able to talk to anyone from the Board Room to the bus stop. Be able to connect to your fellow human and have compassion for them.
  • Read 1-2 books a month.
  • Later in life people may have to work for you but it doesn’t mean they want to work for you. When they want to work for you, they’ll work harder and better than they ever thought and your team will find greater success.
  • When you’re in college, think before you jump and if she’s cute, be safe.
  • See people, cultures, religions and experiences with no preconceived notions. You have a black cousin, an uncle who lived in a foreign country and great grandparents who worked in a carnival. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Make your own decisions based on your own experiences, don’t be a lemming.
  • Drink like an adult. What you drink in your college days shouldn’t be what you drink in your 20s or early 30s. By 40, you should have two to three drinks you can order in any situation. When in doubt, go tonic and a piece of citrus.
  • Be able to read and order off a wine list. This will come in handy for work and dating.
  • Never ever have a ponytail.
  • Accept that the generations before you will see you as lucky and not as motivated as you should be.
  • There is no such thing as a "free" lunch.
  • Learn what the real meaning of the word assume is.
  • The past is gone. The future isn’t here, yet. Live today and be the best you can.
  • Know your limit and if you can out drink the group there is no need to prove it, twice.
  • If someone is being definitive saying this is “the last” or ultimate, be confident they will amend their comments if they can get out of the corner they painted themselves in to.
  • When you go on a date – HAVE A PLAN, open doors and tell her she looks amazing. The latter you can whisper in her ear.
  • Just because she doesn’t kiss you on the first date doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you.
  • When it comes to women, I don’t know what technology will be like, make a phone call or some personal contact. A text or email is nice but not enough.
  • Don’t get your hair cut at a place that has the word – cut, hair, or an ironic Z in the name. Spend money so you don’t look like your mother cut your hair or implies you may have gotten an early release.
  • Participate in charity work don’t just write a check.
  • When people pontificate about how to change the world, ask how they’ve personally affected change.
  • Remember important dates for those who are important to you – birthdays, anniversaries happy and sad. Send a card or flowers or make a phone call. Posting on their Facebook wall isn’t enough.
  • If you wonder who the asshole in the room is it might be you. And you’ll never be the smartest in the room even if you teach kindergarten. Be humble.
  • Tip well. You don’t know if they’re having a bad day or what their life is like outside of work.
  • Don’t be around to hear the bouncer call bar time, unless you’re the bouncer.
  • Have nice things. If all things were equal, we would all drive a Ferrari and drink Krug. Life isn’t fair and people notice nice sunglasses, shoes or an umbrella, even if they don’t mention it.
  • Eat well and eat healthy but know you need to exercise to live a long life. Enjoy the fuel you consume but don’t be a glutton or lazy.
  • Act like you’ve been there before whether it’s a VIP room or a dive bar.
  • Be comfortable speaking publicly whether it’s a birthday toast or a shareholder meeting.
  • If you’re eating with one other person, pick up the bill and be generous.
  • Don’t take pictures of every thing you do in life! Enjoy the moment and write about it for you or others but you don’t need to make that instant a photo shoot.
  • If you’re successful enough to be interviewed, don’t speak in clichés and never complain about your life. There is always someone having a harder time than you.
  • When you see a beautiful woman, don’t feel the need to approach her unless she says hi first or smiles when you make eye contact. There is no need to “help” her at the gym or driving range. But, if you’re wondering which lettuce goes best in a salad, good luck!
  • Buy your wife or girlfriend flowers “just because.”
  • Have a suit for any occasion and that includes a tux. Wear a pocket square but no tie clip unless you’re in a 50s tribute band. If you’re in a 50’s tribute band, we’ll have another discussion.
  • Learn an instrument.
  • Don’t be the first to drop names or places.
  • Stop wearing your baseball hat backwards after you leave college and be cautious when you wear gym clothes. People will think you’ve given up or are out to collect money.
  • Don’t seek revenge but never forget those who have wronged you or the family.
  • If you bring a bottle to a party, be prepared not to drink any of it.
  • If anyone asks how dinner was and you didn’t enjoy it – smile and tell them – “It couldn’t have been any better. Thank you for inviting me.”
  • Be good at all sports but you don’t need to be the best - know golf etiquette, pass more than you shoot in basketball, be able to hit a ball out of the infield and be able to catch anything. I know you’ll learn to ice skate.
  • The same goes for gambling – know how to play cards, craps and bet the sports book but know what your limits are and if it seems like a sucker bet don’t take it – unless she’s cute and dinner is on the line.
  • If you’re paying a cover, I hope you’re in love. Don’t complain about it but you better be in love or the best wingman ever.
  • If you’re eating at a buffet, walk the entire buffet first and don’t eat the sushi or oysters.
  • Be spontaneous and get tickets at the last minute.
  • Always buy the first round.
  • Being alone isn’t the worst thing in life. Seeing a movie or grabbing a bite alone with a book can be enjoyable.
  • Just because your friends do it doesn’t mean you should too – be leery of drugs or any adventures after midnight.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes.
  • Have your own personal sense of style and be comfortable in dressing better than the event dictates.
  • Keep saying bless you, thank you and I’m sorry. It won’t sound as cute as it does now but people will appreciate it.

You know I’ll always be there to pick you up, give you a hug or help dig the hole. I love you more than you will ever know and hearing you say, “Hi JOE!” will never ever get old.


Your Uncle.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at


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