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3 Steps to Hitting the “ReStart” for 2014

3 Mar

We’re well into 2014: are you still focused on those resolutions to achieve your best?

I’ve been wondering why so many resolutions go unfulfilled each year.  Fortunately I have lots of data:  my own actions and inactions.  Each year  I start with the best of intentions, yet, forget to clear out the “old junk” which initially created the “problem” to begin with.   I realized I  reboot (restarting a computer program with or without turning off the power), when I need to restart (a “platinum” reboot shutting everything down before turning back on refreshed) my internal programming each year.

www.daimanuel.com Check out this great post!

www.daimanuel.com Check out this great post!

So thanks to three January “in-box” prompts (below), I’ve restarted my 2014 (and life) thinking since I’m planning a platinum life reboot.

1.  Are you asking the right question?  This question but not the sender’s identity stuck with me.  Hmmm, were my resolutions (and me) stuck because I ask wrong questions?   (Spoiler alert:  Yup!)  Wrestling with my major move’s next step, I’ve been asking:  what will I do to find new clients and earn a living (a usual resolution and necessity to be sure).   Yet I realized I’ve asked this over and over while finding myself duck taped to inaction.  Why?  Because quite simply, this isn’t my right question.   Turns out my right restart question is harder and scarier: “what will I do with my life that will make my heart sing and allow me to feel like “me”?    Once asked, I had to stop and listen to my answer.   YEA!  Kinda…  I realized it’s time for me to do something really, really different with my life and the great skills I have.

 2.  ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?‘  Prompted agent Rachelle Garner rachelle@thewordstudio.com.   Geeze… tackling my ‘right’ question requires ousting that fear I unconsciously flaunt like a favorite bauble.    During the Jewish New Year I saw beneath my fear.  And guess what I found?  SHAME!  Shame in the guise of concrete overshoes has weighed me down making it easy to drag my feet and stay dormant.  Shame of having lost myself and all I had left behind.  (And turning into a dog chasing his tail type of thing.)  The thing about shame is, it’s embarrassing to admit to myself and others because it is so…  Well you know – like Brene Brown says, it is an unspoken epidemic.  This is powerful stuff:  Brene Brown http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Brene-Brown-on-the-3-Things-You-Can-Do-to-Stop-a-Shame-Spiral-Video  and her TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html.

3.  De-clutter:  This prompt comes from just about everywhere.    I know I’m not alone in loving my stuff – Chachkes, jewelry, scarves, jackets, books, papers, you name it- even though I constantly talk and write about living luxuriously on less.   My answer to what do I de-clutter?   Everything:  stuff, people, ideas – everything that feeds fear (and my shame) and keeps me dormant.    Honestly though, the idea of de-cluttering is overwhelming even when I’m not buying more.  And this stuff I love is part of who I am – how I define myself and share that identity with the world.  If I don’t have it, then who am I?  (And I’d guess why must of us don’t de-clutter) But the right question is:  Will divesting ‘stuff’ free me – and my shame – to live the life I want now?   My right answer: YES!!  So after years of holding on, I’m moving on by getting rid of almost all my beautiful clutter.  Let me know if you’re in NYC and need an apartment, or antique furniture!

Brene Brown urges us to share shame to move forward.  Good advice. By sharing, I’m shedding mine along with my earthly antique possessions and antiquated beliefs about what I should be doing.  My ‘ball’ is in motion and I’m waiting impatiently to receive word about my next step.  I’m excited and scared but my load is free(er) of clutter.

What about you?  Are you living and doing what you really want?  Start and share your own journey,  by personalizing these prompts:

  1. What’s your right question????
  2. What’s hiding beneath your fear keeping you stuck?
  3. What can you de-clutter from your life to free you (emotionally and physically)?

I’ll share my progress and plan once I receive word.  Share what you’re up to also.  Let’s make 2014 a real step forward in our life’s journey.

Lose those last five: Weighty writing words from Mari

7 Nov

Writing about losing those last five pounds is my greatest work of fiction – and you know I’m much more into the ‘serious’ non-fiction stuff.

To begin with, that five has doubled this last year – I only wish my portfolio was as ambitious.  I’d like to pull the ‘that’s middle-aged’ thing as a reason.  Maybe it is.  Of course it could also be tied to the usual suspects:  eating too much chocolate while sitting at this very same computer.

My reality is projected in a pair of pants.  Beautiful black wool work pants, circa 1992.  I’ve dubbed them my ‘conscience’ pants.  On bright days, they accentuate my waist.  On not good days, these same pants ask:  Is that a giant muffin around your waist, or have you just been too happy to see chocolate?  It’s why when I’ve seen ‘backfat’ grafittied around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I look guilty.

The good news: I have no need to wear these pants these days.  The bad news: I have no need to wear these pants.  I have way too much time to whittle away at that ‘good for me’ organic chocolate.  And my “conscience pants”?  Out of sight, out of fit.

Idling through my closet is a bit like antiquing – so many beautiful things carrying their own bit of history and memories.  A few months ago, my “conscience pants” whispered:  ‘choose me’.    Filled with anger and dejection (obviously), they tried to choke my waist.

It was a battle, but I wrestled them off and back into the closet.  Write on, right?

Just when I needed it, along came Mari’McCarthy’s  28 day  weight loss journaling challenge.

With all that diet advice out there,  why do some of us continue to carry that inner tube around our middles?  Is it for safety in case we get lost at sea?  Metaphors aside…

Pen, paper, and  Mari’s guidance, I set out to discover why that weight has merged with a part of me, and, how to let it go.  While Mari’s journal is filled with lots of things we’ve all heard before, what’s great is how she pulls it together, with time for reflection.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Focus on internal “weights”, how I want to feel, and more importantly WHY.  As I make steps to change my life I need to be my best me.  I want to be fit and strong, bounding up stairs and lightening my conscience  by sitting comfortably in those lonely, yet lovely black wool pants.
  • Then there’s the chance to think about negative body – image self-talk, and identify the voice behind those critical words.   Thanks Mom!    I realize it’s really time to turn off the volume.
  • Mari has me journaling about what I eat, and more importantly, how I am feeling at the time.  I eat healthy most of the time.  So when does most become not so much?  Recording my eating patterns has given me some food for thought:  My irregular life leads to irregular eating habits (ok, knew this).  Glaringly apparent was how light I ate when the sun was up, but by the time I get home late(r) and famished, I ate accordingly.  I now eat heavily before I leave home, carry apples and nuts to keep me sated.  My healthy diet was filled with veggies, but lacking protein.  Adding beans, tofu or ground turkey which I rarely ate is filling me up: the good way.
  • Every emotion whets my appetite (no surprise there!).  While I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling (fill in the blank), I now recognize it’s a habit.  It’s not what my body wants because I keep eating (and writing), but without feeling satisfied.  I’ve started filling my sugar tooth with spoonfuls of vegetable bean and tofu stew (much yummier than it sounds), or toast and peanut butter.  Journaling reminds me to go to sleep not eat when I come home tired, angry or lonely.

How am I doing on Day 14 of 28?  My “conscience pants” tell me they’re almost ready to leave the house muffin-free and my feet aren’t dragging up the subway stairs.  I’m reframing more than my body self-talk – I’m reframing what I eat and when, going for a sandwich rather than a “snack”, feeding my hunger for real stuff.

Because it’s real stuff that will get me where I want to go, wherever my next journey takes me.  

6 steps to commit: ‘red handbag’ to retirement

20 Aug

I’ve spent years searching for the perfect handbag.  You know, the bag that will hold a ton, sit comfortably on my shoulder, and look beautiful with everything I wear.  Yes, I am the eternal optimist.  So when I recently uncovered the pictured red handbag, bundled away  in my closet since last winter, I shouldn’t have been totally surprised.  But I was not thrilled.  I felt exhausted by one more ‘not quite right’ thing cluttering my closet – and my life.

Yes, this is really my screen saver now.  A reminder to not spend money on what I don't really want and definitely don't need.  Ca-ching!  Money saved!

Yes, this is really my screen saver now. A reminder to not spend money on what I don’t really want and definitely don’t need. Ca-ching! Money saved!

But I live by the motto: Spend/Learn/Coach.  A recent communication coaching session  with my client ‘C’, aged 42 uncovered her financial conflict with saving for retirement.    She looked like she was going to whack me with her beautiful blue and green wedge sandals:  “I don’t have $1000 to open a Roth IRA.  I can barely afford what I need to live now.   It’s too overwhelming to think about how to save for retirement.”

Magically transforming from coach to financial therapist,  I reminded her that like managing any conflict, getting from our financial ‘here’ to ‘there’ retirement plan is understanding the ‘red handbags’.   It is uncluttering to focus on what we really need and want.

I’m working with ‘C’ to create her dream future using 5 steps which I’ll talk about next month:

  1. Create a long-term dream.
  2. Identify which values will be met by your long-term dream:
  3. Determine the dollar amount you’ll need to live your dream.
  4. Find the money to get ‘there’ starting with YOUR red handbag
  5. Open an account

This month let’s talk about the real savings killer: emotion.  I’ve heard from ‘C’ and many others:

“I can’t save for the future while living for today.”

I get it: Things are tight for many of us, so where do we skimp?  The future is uncertain.  Who knows what will happen or what life will be like 20, 30, or 40 years from now.

Because this is true it’s more important to prepare our finances.

Saving is a mindset.  Finding the perfect saving strategy is like finding the perfect handbag – and even more important.  To begin, you have to commit to saving.  Right now, you have to acknowledge it’s important to learn to save.  6 steps to focus your mindset:

1. Clear the information clutter:  We’re bombarded with facts and statistics about retirement savings, especially for women:  How over 60% of us have less than $50,000 saved.  Women, who live longer than men and will need more, have less saved and are less knowledgeable about how much they will need.  Women are hesitant to jump into the stock market and handle accounts.  Worst of all, the shouted message we’ll need a million dollars saved for a comfortable future.  ‘C’  said she’ll never make that cool mil, so for her it’s a ‘why bother.’

Saving is worth the bother.

2. Compounded interest: Save early save often:  Every little bit you save helps, whether you’re 42 or 22.  Though honestly starting at 22 is best.   It’s all about compounded interest, which is like using sunscreen or anti-aging products: the younger you start the greater the benefit.   An over-simplified example:  if you invested $500 a year for 30 years – compounded interest would turn that $15,000 into $61,172.00.      Imagine the dreams come true if you invested $2000 every year!

There is so much information out there, how does ‘C’ know where to begin?

3. Start small.  When a problem seems too overwhelming to tackle, focus on baby steps.    Although ‘C’ has a small 401K from a former employer, I recommended she open a Roth IRA.    (see Learnvest.com for more)   Roth IRA’s are recommended.  The taxes are already paid on the money, so you aren’t taxed when you pull money out for retirement,  to buy a house or for an emergency.  You only need $1,000 to begin.

4. Identify your ‘red handbag’:  It’s August and ‘C’ has till April 15th to open her Roth IRA.  That’s nine months  to save $1,000 to secure her future.  That’s about $110 per month or one ‘red handbag’, or whatever your ‘it’ is.  It’s  that simple.   Saving for the future will realign your current spending on your values.   *Start by looking through your closet for your ‘red handbag’.   Identify what’s eating up your space, and money and not enriching your life.   Pull the ‘it'(s) out and lay them on your bed.   Commit to security and satisfaction.  My pictured ‘red handbag’ above) is  my screen saver and painful reminder when I want to shop.

Do you have a Roth IRA?  If you don’t, plan now to open one by April.  If you do, plan to add money by April.

5. Understand your investment phobia:   Emotionally, ‘C’ moaned about the 2008 market crash, and, how she doesn’t want to lose her money.  Yes, most people lost half  their portfolio’s value then.  It was terrifying.  Today, people have recovered their money, and more thanks to  compounded interest.    Will the market crash again?  Probably?  Will it still be beneficial to invest your money?  Absolutely.  Adopt an investing mindset with the stock app on your smartphone.    Start checking out the 2 year changes in stocks and the market.   You’ll notice they (and your money) like a roller coaster, fluctuate, though you’ll end up on top.

6. Talk ‘investments’ with others:    I recommended ‘C’ begin talking about retirement saving with friends, family, and co-workers.  Talking will increase her comfort level and ease her into action.     BUT, she said, she couldn’t decide which bank or brokerage company to go with.  She  has nine months to decide.  Even better:  she can’t make a mistake – accounts can easily be moved at no penalty.

Now is the time to think and commit.  Till next month.

Tell me about your ‘red handbag’!

What will it take to make that commitment to save $110/month for 9 months to open your IRA?

How would your finances benefit from a financial therapist?  Share your concerns and find out!

This blog also appears on: blogger.com as part of ‘Diary of a Professional Single Woman

The Coach is IN (the cafe): 12 tips to: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

18 Jun

Should I stay or should I go?

aka

Do we marry or is to time to find my true love?

two dinosaurs 'in love'

This was K’s question as we squeezed a chat in between her travels in and out of NYC.   K’s destination:  her relationship’s future with her life-long boyfriend.   I asked about a rumor I’d heard from a man she thought was ‘perfect’ for me: ‘K’ and her boyfriend ‘B’ were engaged!   (He wasn’t perfect – at least for me, and as for them, well read on)

‘K’ and I met during my travels and have occasionally met up over the last few years.  We have an interesting connection, likely due to a shared passion, the focus of her work venture.   With enviable energy and resolve she is pulling people together and ‘broadcasting’ their voices.  She’s young:  mid-twenties and been with “B’ for over ten years.  Romance and problems merge into the expectation they will be together forever.   ‘B’ and ‘K’ have been traveling for the last few weeks – half the time with her colleagues.

First,  how can this single soul  talk about life-long love?

Here’s the true thing about discussing everything and anything:  People usually give opinions, project biases, and share fears.  While it’s part of friendship,  it’s not (always) helpful.

Admittedly I couldn’t help K. from experience.  Absolutely I could help her as a coach.  Coaching focuses on listening , asking the right questions and providing needed tools,  are the best skills to have as a friend, manager, and parent.

'B' and 'K' adventure.  Carnival cruise ship.

‘B’ and ‘K’ adventure. Carnival cruise ship.

Over 2:00 p.m. drinks at a cafe on 34th Street, ‘K’ shared:  ‘B’s grumbles included time ‘K’ spent with their traveling companions, the changing itinerary, and money.’

Doesn’t everyone grumble about money?

Within sips, we’re both tipsy, easing me into coach mode.  ‘K’ said working through their issues was appropriate in a 20 year marriage with kids. Not for them before marriage.

My thoughts:  regardless of whether ‘B’ was the one, understanding the issues and their values (use this activity!) would help them sort out their future and ultimately help ‘K’ get the love she deserves.  Pulling out paper and a pen that didn’t work, I drew my DiSC quadrant diagram.

'K' and 'B' style circled in pink!

‘K’ and ‘B’ style circled in pink!

Here’s a cursory sum:  they’re both task focused.  ‘K’ is Dominant:  focuses on action (often)  ‘her way’ – and why she is successfully launching her innovative venture, and, very personable.  ‘B’ is Conscientious:  logical, and a planner.  ‘B’ hates schedule changes:  and this trip’s itinerary fluctuations.

‘K’ instantly got the simplicity of it all, relaxing her faster than our rum.

 

80% of conflict is due to style (Dr. Donna Springer):  a HUGE part of ‘B’ and ‘K’s challenges (and for all of us).  Communication style, is part of, but not your whole personality.  Style explains how we behave, act, and react.

People may be jerks (which is how we usually define someone different).   Style identifies specific ‘jerkdom’ behaviors bugging ‘K’ and ‘B’.

couple arguing

Here are 12 tips about style and conflict:

  1. You know that class or book you want to take about dealing with difficult people?  It’s all about their different styles.
  2. People won’t change – will you?  Didn’t think so.  But you can understand them.
  3. Realize that gurgling conflict between you and someone else is about style.  Don’t look at it personally.
  4. Realize that your judgement about someone being ______ (fill in the blank:  aggressive, pushy, flaky, unreliable, etc). is about style – not a character flaw.  Remember you have flaws too.  In fact we ALL have them.  Embrace them.
  5. Be aware of what you judge people about:  it will help you understand your own style better.  ‘K’ doesn’t like ‘B’s inability to go with a flow – but then she often redirects the flow mid-stream without concern!
  6. Don’t judge.  It doesn’t make you superior, right, or better.  You are not.  It just makes you less likely to ever have a meaningful relationship with that person.
  7. If you don’t know the DiSC or have a friend like me  (who is a coach), be aware that those behavior difference you don’t like are likely communication style differences.  I know this is a repeat – it’s that important.
  8. Listen.  That means not talking about yourself and not judging what the other person is saying because it is not about you: what you say, think, or feel.
  9. Be aware of what the other person is focusing on.  That will tell you what’s important to them.  If it’s important for you to relate to them.
  10. Be aware of what’s important to you and what YOU focus on.  This is indicative of your style.  Don’t see it as abnormal or a character flaw if it’s not what other’s expect, especially if it’s different from your family.
  11. Ask questions like ‘Tell me more’.  Then listen – without judgement.
  12. Learn about yourself.  Style is a big part of our identity and explains all those freaky things each of us do that are normal for us based on our style.

What’s your style?

How can style help you decide if you should stay or go in love and work? 

Heart, Mind, and Sole: 3 Steps to 3D Luxurious Living

14 May

(this blog originally appeared on  http://www.blogher.com/three-steps-luxurious-living

How do you define luxury?

5 star vacation?  Cashmere?  Jimmy Choo’s?  For me it’s flea market jewelry.  Chances are, we all have something.  The question is:

Can you afford your defined luxury?

I know luxury is typically defined as an extravagance or indulgence.   Yet all this ‘stuff’, including a great pair of shoes, doesn’t add to happiness.  The thing is we may want luxury, and we need financial security.  Especially for the long term.

Gold:  fools or real?

Gold: fools or real?

Here’s a fact: 

Luxury is NOT about money.

Here’s another fact:

Size (of your paycheck) does NOT matter.

Hmm.  Maybe we just need to redefine luxury.  Imagine having all your needs met.  How does that feel?  Imagine this life as the ‘new normal’.    Your life filled with what is most important to you focuses on values.  This is luxury you can afford.

What's growing on your money tree these days?

What’s growing on your money tree these days?

Talking about money is personal – and uncomfortable.  But money is important for security and comfort.  It helps you be your best.  You have to believe you deserve that.

Current statistics about single women and finances show we are not at our best.  For starters, only 35% of single women have a retirement account.  And of those who do, 57% have less than $20,000 saved.  The ‘new normal’ means we learn to be financially independent regardless of where we are and our relationship status.

Is your financial relationship where you want it to be?

I’ve come up with 3 ways to view luxury for building a healthy financial relationship:

  • Heart luxury is all about quality relationships, including with money.
  • Mind luxury is using your skills and talents in work and play.
  • ‘Sole’ luxury is having only quality ‘stuff’ you can touch, feel, or walk in.
Luxury should keep your heart pumping!

Luxury should keep your heart pumping!

These 3 types of luxuries are meant to guide you personally, professionally and financially and lead you to action.

Grab a notebook and apply them in these 3 steps for luxurious living:

1.  Take inventory of your assets. 

  • Start with ‘sole’, and take stock of all your ‘stuff’, daunting as that may be.
  • For heart, make a list of the types of interactions you have with others.  Don’t list out names of people.
  • For mind, write out the types of actions and tasks you do regularly in your job and your life.

2.  Evaluate your ROI (Return on Investment)

Everything has a value or cost, not just ‘sole’ luxuries.

  • Go through your lists, and highlight each item, interaction, or task that feels good and adds indulgence to your life.
  • Put a red line through all items or interactions that drain you or makes you feel bad.

3.  Cut your losses, Bolster your gains

  • ‘Stuff’ that weighs you down makes you feel poor.  This is not the ‘new normal’.  Starting with your ‘sole’ items, get rid of things that don’t feel extravagant or luxurious – regardless of the cost.  Take a picture of things you get rid of.  It will remind you of what you don’t need.
  • Now look at your heart and mind lists.   The plusses are true luxuries.   These add value to your life.  These are what you want more of.

Over the next month, keep track of what adds to your heart, mind and ‘sole’ through these 3 steps.  Take note of what makes you smile.  These are the things that will keep you on track financially.

Keep track of heart, mind, and sole luxuries for success and focus.  www.123rf.com

Keep track of heart, mind, and sole luxuries for success and focus. http://www.123rf.com

In months to come I’ll share specific strategies to balance your heart, mind, and ‘sole’ with your money.   You’ll identify your values and communication style and learn how these can help you decrease debt, save money for retirement and other goals.  They will also help you talk with partners about money.

What is your greatest money concern?

 

How does your finances affect your personal and professional life?

 

What would you like to learn to be financially independent?

 

Share specific questions or concerns about your finances and I’ll address them here.

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?

Tech Day’s 3 Questions

26 Apr

Trade shows are like Halloween for adults:

You walk in, are given a bag, and then go booth to booth for a treat – seemingly unlimited handfuls of refined sugar.

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull - to get me through the day

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull – to get me through the day

The trick:  Talking to the right people and/or getting to the right booth at the right time.

 

NYC’s Tech Day event inside Pier 92 was decidedly Pacific Northwest:  casual and hip.

preview.crowdzu.com My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing

preview.crowdzu.com
My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing

There were few card-carrying AARP members, or even people over the age of 35.

preview.crowdzu.com

preview.crowdzu.com

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

Does the tech world belong to the young?  Maybe.

Weened on Facebook and the wonder of ‘thumbs’ (vs. ‘tongues’) communication which I’ve written about, technology is part of their DNA.

photo-46

A bit overwhelmed by the energy and buzz of 151 vendors and their admirers, 3 questions came to mind:

1.  How far will technology go in changing our lives?

Cell phones alone have revolutionized communication – how much more can we and will we do from the palms of our hands?photo-41

Technology facilitates shopping ordering food,  making travel arrangements, and finding love, making our life easier, right?

But I wonder what we lose inphoto-39 that ease.  There’s the obvious: no more spontaneous conversations with strangers, no challenge (and satisfaction) in planning a trip and poring over a half a dozen travel books, and no opportunity to touch and feel a new clothing purchase.

Societally, how will this change our interactions with people and products?  As many have noticed, customer service skills are missing:  and I’ve noticed it’s not only service workers unable to converse with customers, but many customers don’t/can’t connect back.  I miss this social ‘kindness’, do you?

There are lots of ‘apps’ that connect us which is great.  But what about the depth of the connection:  how much thought and feeling gets lost in 140 characters or on a face book page?  Are we becoming more or less lonely?

And, is society driving technology, or is technology driving us – like sheep?

2.  Does technology reflect people’s values?

No matter the need or want, chances are there’s an app for that.  Or there will be soon – if it’s profitable.  That makes sense, right?   ‘Build it and they will come’ as Kevin Costner said in ‘Field of Dreams’.  And there’s money in those apps, with an emphasis on fast and efficient from specialty chocolates to real work improvement like echo time (tracking work flow efficiency) and crowdzu for one-stop crowd sourcing.,

Social media - the new 'being social'?

Social media – the new ‘being social’?

Yet at this ‘progressive’ event – there was no recycling.  Not convenient or not on people’s radar?

Orange 'swag' bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Orange ‘swag’ bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Is it true our values follow the money trail?  

If it’s not profitable – or quantifiable by an app, will our core needs defining our humanity also become non-recyclable throw-aways?

Climate change is real – as real as the devices we hold in our hands

We need clean air and water more than gadgets – don’t we?

April 20th was Earth Day, and the environmentalists had their own trade show.  Why can’t hipster techies and hipster environmentalists be the new peanut butter and chocolate?

green festival nyc

3.  What ‘tongue’ communication skills do people need?

Differences between communication styles parallel age differences.  As a communication coach I am beginning to wonder if this new generation needs, wants or

Wild!

Wild!

even expects those basic communication skills we used to take for granted:  two-way conversations, asking open-ended questions, ability to talk to strangers, listening, and of course customer service niceties.

I’m talking about the ‘grey’ areas in talk beyond the black and white facts of daily life that are easily captured on Facebook and twitter.  The grey areas that make our photo-44

My favorite image- from google ad words!

My favorite image from google ad words!

conversations and lives more colorful.  I think…

There’s an awful lot of ‘noise’ competing for our time and attention these days.  Including all of us who blog, begging web surfers to listen and acknowledge us (thank you!).  Does this count as listening?

And as we evolve in seeming milliseconds versus millions of years will natural selection prove ‘thumb’ communicators as winners?

Change happens – I just hope we all know what we are doing.

5 Leadership Characteristics: The Raoul Wallenberg Effect

16 Apr
London Memorial

London Memorial

The story of a hero and a leader.

The BBC’s report on Raoul Wallenberg achieving honorary Australian citizenship this morning told of a remarkable man’s accomplishment.  Or of a man making

Raoul Wallenberg uhnmm.org

Raoul Wallenberg
uhnmm.org

the best of all his knowledge and being and ‘stepping’ up in times of need?

Raising the question are leaders born or made?

This question gets raised when leaders are identified and scrutinized.   If it’s the latter, (and most of us believe it is) we can all adopt the ‘Wallenberg Effect’ and become the leaders we are meant to be in our everyday life.

A little background:  In 1944, Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat was sent to Budapest to ‘save’ this Jewish community.  You can imagine the challenge:  the Nazi’s were in a hurry to ensure Budapest’s 700,000 Jews followed in the footsteps of millions of other murdered Jews in Europe.  Wallenberg was only  33, and had no real diplomatic skills.  He was rich,  He had connections and his family name offered protection.  Mostly, he had chutzpah, conviction, and, courage.  Taking extraordinary and audacious actions, he managed to save close to 100,000 Hungarian Jews.  In one story he jumped on top of a cattle car to hand fake Swedish passports to people  on the way to camps.  He took people out of death march lines, ‘reminding’ them of their Swedish backgrounds.  On more than one occasion he convinced the Nazi’s NOT to shoot people after round-ups.  In sad irony,  when the Russians ‘liberated’ Budapest in January 1945, they placed Wallenberg in jail and he was never heard/seen again.

Budapest plaque

Budapest plaque

But his strength in action, lives on.  And after hearing the story this morning, I was reminded of the why and what of the  ‘Wallenberg Effect’.

The 5 characteristics attributed to Wallenberg are easily matched with basic leadership professional development we’ve all taken and/or taught.  And it’s always good to take a moment and remind ourselves (and others) of how to be our best:  http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/readings/wallenberg.htm

1.  Knowledge:  First and foremost, leadership is based on self-knowledge, or what Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Leaders know their strengths, their (communication) style and how they can effectively apply this style to motivate others. Wallenberg took 100% responsibility for ensuring (the Nazi’s) heard his message by meeting their ‘WIIFM’s’ (What’s In It For Me) or motivation which was to be strong and secure.

How do you define your EQ?  How do you support and develop this knowledge in others?

featurepics.com

featurepics.com

2.  Objective:  Leaders have clear goals and vision and take action based on their values.  Wallenberg acted on what he thought was right (values) and “walked the talk” when it came to saving the Hungarian Jewish community.

What are your top 5 values?  What actions do you take on a daily basis that support your beliefs?

sathyasai.org

sathyasai.org

3.  Ingenuity:  Leaders are able to work through and around situations.  To be sure Wallenberg had great connections, but he also used his knowledge of the Nazi’s love for extravagant detail when he supervised the creation of fake Swedish passports.  I’m sure his ingenuity, along with his EQ came into play as he ‘created’ 30 safe houses to hide people.

How do you know when things aren’t working and what steps do you take to identify a new win-win solution?

the 9-dot puzzle:  think outside the lines!

the 9-dot puzzle: think outside the lines!

4.  Confidence:  Chutzpah anyone?  Leaders feel they can do anything if they are doing the right thing.  Wallenberg made full use of his ‘charisma’ to stand up and ‘direct’ the Nazi’s in a way no-one else had.  Certainly his conviction and confidence swayed the Nazi’s to let him pull people out of death march lines.

How do you act when you are 100% sure of your conviction (versus when you are not)?

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume... didn't take a picture... this from thechangeblog.com

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume… didn’t take a picture… this from thechangeblog.com

5.  Courage:  Leaders take action regardless of the repercussions.  On the BBC this morning, I heard Wallenberg acted with, ‘No fear of death’, focused on the end result.  He was shot at while he was on top of that car handing out fake passports, and certainly could have been killed by the Nazi’s at any point in time.

When do you stand up for yourself and others even when you know you ‘are going against the grain’?

An icon of courage! http://plpnetwork.com

An icon of courage!
http://plpnetwork.com

Surely being in remarkable circumstances brings out the extraordinary in all of us.

But why wait?  If not now, when?

I think there are important small, quiet and safe times when we can stand out and develop ourselves to be our best.  Hopefully, most of us will never be in the position Wallenberg was in.

We can all take small steps that lead to giant saves.

a Budapest monument

a Budapest monument

Tel Aviv Memorial

Tel Aviv Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Lessons from a Comedian: 4 Beliefs to keep you on stage and in the spotlight

11 Apr

Last night I went to a one-man show – an off-off-Broadway deal.  And it was…. a bit ‘off’.

For about 90 minutes our ‘host’ huffed and smiled and sweated as he told his story, attempting to pull laughs, guffaws, or at least smiles from the audience.

I’ve done stand-up, I know how nerve-racking it is.

Now this guy wasn’t particularly funny or noticeably talented – which he admitted as part of his ‘shtick’.

I almost felt sorry for him.  To me, it felt painful.  But that had more to do with my beliefs than his. Obviously.  Notice I was sitting at his feet while he had the spotlight.   He had his own show.  ON STAGE with people paying to come see him.

Hmmm… who should feel sorry for whom here?

I realized:  he may have lost last night’s laughter’ battle’, but it was obvious he was winning the ‘war’. The war of life.

He reminded me:  “You can convince anyone of what you’re doing as long as you’re also completely convinced.”

For all of us who think we aren’t ‘enough’ and don’t have what it takes to put ourselves out there, this guy BELIEVED – in himself.

Humor has power.  Remember Romney and Obama's night of comedy?

Humor has power. Remember Romney and Obama’s night of comedy?

Here are 4 lessons on belief I learned (without laughing) last night:

1. (Someone Else’s) Unconditional Belief:

This guy’s mother believed in him 1000% percent.  She took him to acting and dancing lessons as a child after he expressed interest, told him how wonderful he was (even when he wasn’t), and always repeated how much she believed in him.   We all need someone who believes in us this strongly – no edits, no ‘yes, buts…’.  (Parents:  take note!)

2.  ‘It’s not personal’ Belief:

You know the saying:  it’s not you, it’s THEM?  (Or something like it?)  This guy learned early on that not everyone needs to laugh.  His ‘mentor’ was a comedian who never got laughs on stage, but got huge, great acclaim on the big screen.

Failure happens:  people love his stuff, people hate his stuff (like last night) – oh well….  He believes he’ll find the audience who loves him.  He believes he’ll be successful.

I have a feeling he’ll be talking about this ‘bad’ show in future shows – and then get great laughs.

I know I can learn if something isn’t clicking one place, I just need to change my environment and it WILL work someplace else – or another place, or….

3.  There’s always another stage or ‘location, location, location’ Belief

No matter how many failures this guy seemed to have, he picked himself up and found another stage to get on.  Perhaps there were years of despair and depression – we didn’t hear of that.  Bottom line, this guy always found a place to recreate himself, always believed there was a place for him to shine.

And you know, he’s right.

Go get yourself a little...www.bc.ctvnews.ca

Go get yourself a little…www.bc.ctvnews.ca

4.  Fear gets you nowhere Belief

I wish I could remember his exact words because they were brilliant, but the idea was fear is failure.  I may fail if I get up on stage.  Oh well.  I can also take action on my belief I can just get up on a whole new stage and do it all over again – and become the ‘next great thing.’  I like the sound of that…   But if I’m afraid of even getting up there,  failure is guaranteed.

My mantra to get past the fear.  Thank you Nike! www.justdoitfilm.com

My mantra to get past the fear. Thank you Nike! http://www.justdoitfilm.com

Thinking about this:  I worked with a woman YEARS ago who had major conflict with her boss.  And I mean MAJOR, great dislike, etc.  She found another stage- in another department – and they LOVED her and she loved them.   It wasn’t personal – she was in front of the wrong audience.

I can accept the fact that every time I get out there I have a chance of ‘bombing’.  What I like – what I have to – no – WANT to believe – is:

  • that someone believes in me,
  • that I believe in myself – 
  • that there is an audience who wants what I have, and,
  • if  something isn’t clicking, I should go find myself a new stage to ‘perform’.

I’m starting to think this show will turn out to be one of the best performances I’ve ever seen!

What keeps you laughing?

Which of your beliefs help you get back out there and ‘perform’ again (especially after you’ve crashed)?

Spring Gardening’s 6 Steps to Weed out anger Tammy Faye style!

8 Apr

Got anger?

Willing to admit it?

I’ve been laying a bit fallow all winter, rejuvenating myself and hoping fall’s seeds have been planted where they root as the world ripens into sunnier days and warmer afternoon.  As I dip my toes into the shallow end of spring (buds on the trees here in NYC – finally!), I’m taking stock of my potential bounty.

There are lots of things that kill off new growth – literally and metaphorically.  Our bumbling economy challenges even the most gifted rainmaker to survive the job drought.  Not having the right pollinators doesn’t help either  I realize, viewing my ‘connections’.  Fertilization is an ongoing need.  Memo to self:  ‘work’ those LinkedIn connections and stay vigilant on Twitter.

Cyberspace is important, but it’s our real space internal garden where we need to fend off weeds and other invasive species that keep us from growing.

Recently, I’ve noticed an overgrowth of anger.  And once it roots it is tenacious!

Anger sucks up all the oxygen and  nutrients that should be better spent on a blossoming new project, including having fun.  But anger, like weeds and invasive species – appears to have no predators.  Anger takes over other emotions.  Memo to self:  it’s hard to differentiate the weeds from the flowers.

Anger is like a carnivorous plant:  hungry and dangerous.

Remember the movie:  "Little Shop of Horrors" and the carnivorous plant's 'feed me'?

Remember the movie: “Little Shop of Horrors” and the carnivorous plant’s ‘feed me’?

Turning from a gardening metaphor, Tammy Faye (Baker) says it best:  from the movie “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, Tammy Faye sits and bats her mammoth false eye

Tammy Faye:  Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again!  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/%3Fm%3D02%26d%3D20070509%26t%3D2%26i%3D771302%26w%3D460%26fh%3D%26fw%3D%26ll%3D%26pl%3D%26r%3D771302&imgrefurl=http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/09/us-tammyfaye-letter-idUSN0927384020070509&h=339&w=450&sz=26&tbnid=mW2Xk3YWO-lCAM:&tbnh=92&tbnw=122&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpicture%2Bof%2Btammy%2Bfaye%2Bbakker%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=picture+of+tammy+faye+bakker&usg=__TglXvyNDLRYFl3MA_ZYke2aZAfA=&docid=_oX64oh0S6vGuM&sa=X&ei=19ZiUdCsC82L0QGZo4HIBQ&ved=0CDUQ9QEwAQ&dur=45

Tammy Faye: Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again! http://www.google.com/imgres?

lashes before sharing great wisdom:  “when you’re angry at someone it’s like you are carrying a decaying person around on your back”

A reminder that brilliance comes from unexpected sources.  (the movie is great!)

Decay is great for the literal garden.

For my internal garden, I’ve shrugged off anger in a weeding frenzy with:

Six Steps to Weeding your Anger

Step 1:  Spot that weed:  Feel that anger rising in you?  Sit and luxuriate in spring’s new blooms while jotting down the focus of your anger.  Note the name and issue that is sucking up the nutrients in your mind’s rich soil.

Step 2:  Assess:   how much of that anger is directed at yourself.  Yes, really.  A lot of times when we’re angry at someone else, we are really angry at ourselves for allowing that person to get under our skin, to make us feel a certain way or keep us from getting what we want.  In Tammy Faye’s words, you are carrying your weight on your back in addition to the source(s) of your anger.  (Note to self:  this is why you’ve got bad posture!)

Ask yourself:  Why do I hold onto these energy-suckers?  What does it/she/he provide me – or how does being angry ‘protect’ me from dealing with ‘new growth’?

Step 3:  Commit to weed and dig deep:  Focus on forgiving:  YOURSELF.  Forgive yourself for what you’re feeling, for your anger, for what you haven’t done, for what you have done, for allowing someone else to mess with your head.  This of course it harder than it sounds, after all weeds grow back, right?

weeding

Step 4:  PULL out that anger with your forgiveness and kill its roots by telling yourself you can’t control someone else, but you can control your own emotions.

Step 5:  Plant new seeds:  Create a ritual where you declare yourself anger-free and commit to preserving your energy and joy.  Ask yourself:  What can I do and SAY differently to myself to remind myself I deserve to have joy?  Leave out judgmental words that weigh you down including obligation and fault.  Identify a plant or flower that reminds you of your weed-free mind and keep a picture or an actual plant around you.

seedling

Step 6:  Nurture your new growth:  Look at your plant or flower regularly and remember you’ve forgiven yourself AND the person at the root of your anger.  Remember that person is no longer in your garden when you see them.

Stand up straight and feel the freedom in your back!  

What makes you angry?

How do you forgive others and/or yourself?