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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.

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The Red Handbag’s 5 stepping stones to ‘there’

24 Sep

I was introduced to the fabulous term ‘financial meddler’ on LearnVest.com.    Mostly because that’s ME.  Though I prefer to be called a  financial Yenta:  I meddle in your finances (I also take friends bra shopping), telling you what you should or shouldn’t spend.   Or more like, why and how you should save.

Last month, I had great fun ‘Yenta-ing’ into your closet, urging you to search for your own ‘red handbag’ (https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/6-steps-to-com…-to-retirement).   Uncovering those somewhat pricey, forgotten, items huddling in your closet and are horrified to find.

Did you look?  Think of it as your own early Halloween scary house exploration.

What extra money is lurking in your closet?  Like this Pottery Barn jan-o-lantern?

What extra money is lurking in your closet? Like this Pottery Barn jan-o-lantern?

Are you working toward saving your $1000 to open (or contribute to) your Roth IRA?   My friend J. was ‘Yenta-ed’ into saving $80 last month for her existing fund.  How are you doing?

Not convinced?  

Look at all those 60+ folks who don’t have the funds to retire – even if they want to.   Sadly, they had no financial Yenta.   And btw, while I’ve suffered through embarrassing explanations of  why a red handbag is my iPhone screen saver, my credit card is now gathering dust and I’ve saved $50.

Fall is the perfect time to begin saving.  Nature is spewing seeds for spring blooms.  We can invest money for retirement blooms.

So read and take action as I walk you through  (last month’s) 5 steps to get from ‘here’ to retirement ‘there’:

1.  Create a long-term dream:  Let’s face it, the only reason to save for an unknown future is because your dream is more enticing than that ‘red handbag’.   Hopefully you love what you do now (if not, you are due for a change).   The next phase of your life should be equally thrilling.  Let  your imagination go wild as you play over fantasies about ‘what you would do if…’.     I plan on running a middle-aged hostel in Eastern Europe;  my friend M. wants to retire to Central America to use the Spanish she’s been learning for the last ten years;  G. and A. have moved to be close to their grandkids.   Create that vision, then tell people about it.  Talking makes it real.  When they ask how you will fund your dream, proudly tell them about your Roth.
2.  Identify your values fulfilled by your long-term dream:  As a Yenta, I can tell you your values direct every aspect your life from finances to love.  If you haven’t identified them, do it NOW! https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity.   Here’s why your values must match your dream: without interest in saving –  no interest will accrue to make that dream come true.  And accrued interest, aka compounded interest is how saving helps your money grow.
3.  How much will it cost?  Let’s assume a lot.  Keep in mind:  Starting when you’re 25 and saving $5500/year at 6% interest you could save approximately $902,000.    (Check out LearnVest.com to learn more about compounded interest – which grows beanstalks like magic beans)   If you don’t have that much, if you’re older, that’s no excuse to not save.  Do what you can.   But do it NOW to get you on your way.   For my dream, even if I can’t own my hostel, I confidently have the financial freedom to manage one.
4.  Get to ‘there’ starting with YOUR red handbag:  No excuses.  There’s money in your budget somewhere.  Take an afternoon and go through your closet, your bank and credit card statements.  Stay focused on that long-term dream and what you want.  Get rid of ‘crap’ literally and figuratively.  And find yourself a financial Yenta to put her hands on her hips and ruthlessly support your saving.

5.  Open (or contribute) an account:  Remember you have till April 15th.  $1000 will open an account with Vanguard, Fidelity, and T.Rowe Price, or a local bank.  I admit to liking a brick and mortar place.  Remember you can always change where you keep your money so don’t get hung up on finding the perfect place now.  Some banks or brokerage houses will offer money to open an IRA as tax day approaches.  (Take it – why not!)   After you’ve saved it gets easier:  Write your check for the $1000;  Walk into the bank or brokerage house (i.e. Fidelity);   Fill out a form and hand over the check;  If you don’t know which fund to invest your money, ask to speak with someone and in ten minutes they will advise you.

It’s that easy to get to ‘there’ from here.  If it still feels overwhelming, start saving anyway.  And I’m always available to be your financial Yenta!

Dream big!  Many say life gets even better in your 60’s.  I’m looking forward to the experience and want you to join me!

What’s your dream?

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

Confessions of an Introvert

15 Jul

At a recent networking event, I was rounding the outskirts of the crowd, seeking safety and the lone networker to chat with.  Standing off to the side, a woman held out her hand as I passed.  ‘Hi, I’m ‘Y”.

We shared our ‘how do you/what do you do’s’.  At this crowdfunding gathering, she was seeking funding for her clothing line for women with curves.   She had all the qualities of a fashion designer:  savvy, attractive, and outgoing.  And she couldn’t wait to get out of ‘here’.  Not because she didn’t want funding or believe in her project.  Networking and the brouhaha of it all was ‘too much’.  ‘Y’ is an introvert.

Compacting meaningful conversation to forge a connection is an introvert talent.  But what does this really mean?  With the caveat that not all introverts are created equal, I think it’s time to shed light on the wonderful and often misunderstood inner light of an introvert.

We can be charming, fun, vivacious, sparkly.  Don’t be fooled by this one facet of our personality.   Introverts are not necessarily wall flowers, shy, or anti-social.  It’s far more complicated.

Our mantra:  “When the going gets tough, the tough go to bed.”  Personally, I live by this Barbara Sher quote.   I’m very outgoing and love being out and about.  But when I need to recharge to be my best me – my most authentic me – I unplug and pull the covers over my head.   For minutes, hours, days….  it all depends.  ‘Y’ confessed she spent the 4 day July 4th weekend at home.  When friends told her she had to go out and do stuff, she shrugged:  ‘why?’  She had a happy weekend – alone.

http-www.nickpierno.com

http-www.nickpierno.com

Small talk is like junk food.  It’s great every once in a while.   Tasty.  But only in small quantities.  Babble is empty calories.  Too much leads to weighing us down and making us sluggish.   After an hour or so, talk should move on to something substantive whether it has to do with life experiences, personal thoughts vs. actions.  As ‘Y’ shared, our conversation became real and relaxing when she could share thoughts about how and why she spent July 4th.

theintrovertentrepreneur.com

theintrovertentrepreneur.com

Social media is a bore.  We have no need to talk about ourselves.  No need to share every action and thought in a public, impersonal way.  Why?  If you have something you want to share – text.  It’s more personal.

We do not rant and rave.  Ideas and emotions can be jumbled in our head.  Talking about them in the heat of the moment means we say things we don’t mean which we’ll replay in our heads over and over.  And by the time we’ve sorted them through, well, we have no need to talk about them.

Which means, it can take us days to get back to you about something said or that thorn that got stuck in our side.  We need time.  To think.

We are great company to ourselves; never (or rarely) lonely alone.

If we are out and about and having a great time, it is still exhausting.  If we are not having a great time, it is exhausting, draining, and, lonely.

A seemingly invigorating social event will not ‘pump us up’ if we are emotionally drained.  Especially if there is no meaningful, personal, one-on-one connection/conversation.

infjdoodles-tumblr (for all you Myers-Briggs folks)

infjdoodles-tumblr (for all you Myers-Briggs folks)

I can write this post as ‘we’ because it doesn’t need to be all about me.

We are great listeners.  As one introvert once told me, extroverts see themselves as the center of the universe, introverts are happy to be on the outside.  But just because we will listen and not make everything about us doesn’t mean we have nothing to say.

We won’t talk just to talk.  We won’t talk unless someone is listening.

We may share intimate details of our life, but if you never respond or follow-up, chances are we won’t do it again.  Or maybe we will because we love you.  But it saps our energy.  It’s not connection.

Okay, I’ve said enough.  Time for this introvert to go back to bed.

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? 

Keep your Dance Partner and Avoid the Conflict Dance with these 5 steps

17 Jun

Toe-tapping and ready to groove to the music?  

Intrigued by a dance invitation?

Well, there’s the 2-step, the waltz, and then there’s the conflict dance.

I always say that every conflict starts with an invitation.  An invitation to get all hot under the collar.  The only dance that’s never cool.

better invite dance

It’s a decision.  It takes two to tango and two to argue.

Your partner has an itch – and ‘dancing’ with you will scratch it.

‘K’ told me how ‘B’ filled her dance card:  they were on a nice romantic cruise after a week of travel and conferencing.

‘B’ brought up the money issue with a huffy ‘I spent SO much money on this romantic cruise.’  He talked numbers. ‘K’s toe started tapping itching to rumba through his rumbles.

pointing finger man at woman

After all, ‘No one puts Baby in the corner!‘ How dare he bring up money?

They  talked about the trip’s finances before they left.  She talked numbers.

I broke it to her as gently as I could:  ‘Sometimes arguments about money aren’t about money.  (Of course, sometimes they are…)  

Money is the number one fight between couples and is a leading cause of divorce!

And then I shared my  3 steps to avoid the conflict dance (and appreciate the perks of being a wallflower:

Step 1:  Avoid the seduction and heat of the moment: Recognize the ‘invitation for what it is.  An invitation to fight/argue.

‘B’ knew exactly which of ‘K’s buttons to push to ‘pump up the volume’ so to speak.  In responding, she did exactly what he wanted her to do:  dance back.

Here’s where you decide:  Do you wanna dance?  Especially realizing you’re not going to be arguing about the ‘real’ issue.

(Note:  if you do want to fight just to fight be aware of your motives. We’ve all known couples (in particular) who get into screaming matches that last for days with no end in sight and so hope of resolving the issue.)

woman aghast

Step 2:  Say:  NOTHING!  Especially if you’re also angry, since before you know it you’ll be in a dancing furry. ‘K’ responded in the way most of us would by telling ‘B’ what she had paid for including air fare and hotel.  While this is true, it was just enough to escalate the situation so they were stomping on each other’s toes.

two dancers dise by side

Better is to stop and just think a minute about what you want:  if you want to preserve the relationship:

Step 3:  Listen.  FYI:  Listening will turn the fastest twirl into a seductive slow dance – and here I mean the good kind. Your partner may not have brought up the main issue, but address it respectfully.  Giving someone what they want will ease the path to communication and connection.

Step 4:  Give your listened response – not your high kick (initial) one. Rather than sharing a detailed expense report, ‘

K’s better response would have been: “I really do appreciate this cruise”, or “I really appreciate us being here”, or “Thank you for this great cruise” or something like that.  Chances are this is what she would have said at a later time. This thank you and acknowledgement would have turned off the music to ‘B’s conflict prance. If your partner drops it, let it go temporarily.

relaxed time

If s/he doesn’t, or definitely at a later time:

Step 5:  Bring the issue a little closer and ask for more (info) The issue will come up again (as we all know), so stand on tippy-toes, and in ‘K’s situation ask: ‘You know the other day when you brought up _?  I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about money?”

choose how we dance saying

Repeat:  ” I appreciated the cruise (or what you appreciated!) and would like to know more about how you feel paying for it:

Or

“What would make you feel better considering both of our financial situations?’

Or

‘What could we do differently next time that would make you feel better?’

Often, if you are both relaxed at this point, your partner will talk about what the real issue is/was.

In ‘K’s situation, she was talking to me, not ‘B’.  Though she did realize he was probably feeling put off because she had (professionally) spent so much time with  other men during the conference and their travels. As in all conflicts, this one goes deeper…  Next, I’ll share ‘K’ and ‘B’s communication style differences.  I also recommended they go through their values.  It’s all a start – a good start!  And I know they deserve the best.

What causes you to do the conflict dance?

5 Strategies for Secure Identity: Only YOU can prevent GENOCIDE (Step 1)

18 May

Talking about 6 steps to prevent genocide…

While walking through Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery  with my friend Julie, she pointed out nobody cares about genocides.  Not really.  After all it will never  happen to them.

This is to prevent forest firest....genocideourcarelessness.jpg

This is to prevent forest firest….genocideourcarelessness.jpg

People care about bullying.

Bullying happens.  A lot.  School yard bullies graduate to board rooms.

Have you ever  teased a little too far or not acted with kindness when you were feeling unhappy or insecure?  Bullies act because they’re insecure.

Bullying and genocide share DNA.  Genocides, the Holocaust, hate crimes – are merely bullying on steroids.

The Holocaust started as aggressive bullying way before Kristallnacht (1938) and Germany’s invasion of Poland  (1939).  It started in 1933 with Hitler Youth learning to spot Jews, and beat up weaker ‘youth’.  Hitler youth turned in parents who didn’t support Hitler.  They learned new songs…

“Yes, when the Jewish blood splashes from the knives, things will go twice as well.”

Scary…

Hitler youth were primed and ready for genocide.  Why did they get so wrapped up in this identity?  What was wrong with their authentic selves?

I wonder how this relates to  branding on Facebook and Twitter in the wild world of social media.

It’s a similar question to why kids  join gangs:  the need to belong.   To be liked.

After the recent Boston bombings, the ‘experts’ chimed in about what makes a terrorist:

“Terrorists are people who are alienated.  They have a confused identity… not ‘x’, not ‘y’… not connected to family or to parents… they find a new identity on the internet…” (summarized and pulled from various sources)

Red flag: people are turning to the internet to build community, AND to discover who they are, or who they want to be. HUH???

“Those who don’t love themselves as they are rarely love life either.”  Rachel Naomi Remen

For self-love, here’s my 5 strategies for secure identities:

disc improves....

Step 1:  KNOW your strengths, weaknesses, challenges.    Learning about yourself can’t be googled.  It’s complex and includes race, religion, gender, nationality, looks, socio-economics, and, our innate personality or what I call ‘naked identity’:  who you are without your ‘stuff’.

The best way to undress your naked identity is through the DiSC assessment tool.  The DiSC uncovers how you behavior, act, react, deal with conflict, work and your natural abilities as well as challenges.

I had an education student who was told to be an engineer – inside he was an English major.  Look around your office/classroom – are people their inside ‘selves’, or doing/being what others expect from them?

I’d put money on the mean, grumbling person not being their DiSC style.  Don’t judge others for not being like you.  Accepting someone else helps them accept you.  Focus on you.

Step 2:  Let your values guide your action

Identify your values (click here to identify yours).   Live them.  Believe me it’s hard.  And realize:  you and I may value ‘relationships’ but define it very differently. Understanding these differences in defining them is what’s key to security.

Step 3: Listen to yourself 

Everyone has an opinion about who you should be and what you should do.   Chances are those ‘everyone’s’ are telling you what they want.   I bet they have a different DiSC style and values than you.    Moments of Awareness  is the best and easiest way to listen carefully.

Your ‘friend’s’ not quite complimentary comment that leaves you wondering how you feel – about the comment, him/her, and yourself?  Listen:  it’s more about the commenter than you.  Listen to yourself.

Step 4:  Care more about yourself 

This may sound selfish – but just the opposite.  You can’t take care of anyone else unless you’re secure in yourself.  Taking care of yourself makes it easier to listen to others.

Step 5:  Don’t be a victim of Identity Theft:  Believe in yourself 

Knowing your DiSC, values, and regularly using Moments of Awareness to assess your feelings, will secure your identity.   If someone makes you doubt yourself, try

confidence-thechangeblog-com

confidence-thechangeblog-com

to understand which of their values aren’t met.  Learn and ‘listen’ if it is in line with YOUR identity.

Step 6:  Share your identity

D., a young American-Korean woman I met in Berlin said it best:  A secure identity means you can explain who you are to others.  Practice till you can.

What is your identity?  

How does knowing your identity keep you from lashing out to others?

What do you think we need to teach others to prevent bullying – and genocides?

3 Questions everyone should know: MOMA (per Peter Senge)

18 May

So how do you stay focused and calm in (almost) any situations, from conflict, to over-shopping?

That’s easy:  simply use Moments of Awareness (MOMA), which I first learned about in Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline Fieldbook.

Think of it as the ‘ginzu knife’ of life – it works in EVERY situation.

Plus, it’s easy to transport everywhere, including through airport security.   This is one of the most brilliant tools around and I”ve used in all my communication, conflict management, leadership, financial ‘therapy’, and everything in between, coachings and trainings.

Usually these are used when something is ‘wrong’.  But they can just as valuable when things are ‘right’ and you want to learn from and repeat something.

3 Simple steps:  Learn this.  Practice this.  Use this.  With yourself.  With your colleagues.  With your kids.  Ask yourself and/or ask others.

MOMA:  Moments of Awareness questions:

1.  What are you feeling?

Focus on the body:  the body doesn’t lie.  Think about if your body feels tight?  relaxed?  Are your hands clenched?  Is that smile natural or forced?  Do you all of a sudden feel sick to your stomach?  Feel your teeth clenched?

Focusing on your body will tell about real feelings that may not be expressed in words.

2. What do you want?

Here’s one way to think about your body’s message to your mind:  whatever is going on just isn’t working (for you).  This question will tell you specifically why it’s not working.  Bottom line:  you have a value that isn’t met.  Identify your values NOW.  Then when you are in a situation and your body is screaming it’s time to take ‘flight or fight (or shop, or…)’ you’ll know specifically why.  to find your values just go to the page Values Activity.

Your body may tighten for example when you are with a particular person.  You may think it is because s/he is a jerk.  This may be true.  But the reason you think they are a jerk is because what they say and do doesn’t meet your values.  Now you have a reason to tell them why you have to walk away.  Now do it.  WAlk away!

Remember:  your body will tell you when your values aren’t being met.  Listen.  And find out specifically which value is not being met!

3.  What am I doing to prevent myself from getting what I want?

Now you get to look at your actions.  Wait. Go deeper:  look at your words.  But not the words you say to others.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS YOU ARE SAYING TO YOURSELF.

When it comes to preventing yourself from getting what you want, it is that self-talk that separates out one action from anther.

Listen:  If your self-talk is negative, regardless of that bright shiny smile or firm handshake or perfect ensemble you present to the world – those words rolling inside your head is what the world will hear because that is what you are sharing.  REally.

You are sharing what you are saying to yourself through your non-verbals – the way you hold your body, etc.

Write down those negative terms of endearment (yes, that is sarcasm) you say to yourself so you are aware of what you are saying.  Of what you are doing to yourself.  Now write down – then SAY – to yourself what you would tell someone else in the same situation.

Look in the mirror, then say it with conviction.

Simple.  Try it with yourself.  Try it with a friend till you become an expert.  

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.

5 steps to Polish your Elevator Pitch to Perfection (thru 3 types of messages)

9 May

Is sharing your pitch as comfortable to you as pushing the ‘up’ on an elevator button?

Does your pitch feel as comfy as elevator chit-chat?pressing buttons

I don’t know about you , but when it comes to selling myself, my words turn into a mouthful of caramels.   Well, maybe not that sweet or gooey.  And, to make it worse, I’m a communication coach/facilitator.

How can this be?

Hey, it’s hard to sell – ourselves – to others we don’t know.  Others who are in the midst of selling to us.  Sometimes it feels like networking events are huge swap meets where there’s lots to sell and let’s of competition for the pennies in people’s pockets.

Realizing this, I knew I had to come up with an easy and fun strategy to share my skills.  Luckier for me, I had an opportunity to share them Tuesday night at Showbiz in NYC with 2 meet-up groups:  Crowdzu and Women’s Business.

Are there new challenges with face-to-face networking?  We’ve gotten so used to doing it in cyberspace and are less likely to reach out in person.  I guess for people

We're all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us...

We’re all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us…

who have ‘grown up’ this way, it is easier connecting through LinkedIn and Facebook.  Me, I’m old-fashioned.  I’ve been told my ghost-like on-line presence renders me invisible.

But onward…

In person communication is 3D and so is a great elevator pitch.

Light travels faster than the speed of sound:  people see, before they hear us.  And the assumptions begin!.

Meeting face to face here are the percentages for how our messages are heard:

  • 55% of the message heard is our body language, mostly facial.
  • 38% is the pitch, volume, and intonation of our voice, and,
  • 7 (measly) % is our actual words.

That’s 93% of a message ‘heard’ are nonverbal!

Body-Language definitions:images

What you're feeling on the inside shows on the outside

What you’re feeling on the inside shows on the outside

Aware of the power of our presentation, I came up with these 5 steps for a polished pitch:

1.  Purpose:  Decide – and write down why you are going to an event and what you hope to gain.  Doesn’t matter if it is just to get out of the house or if you are looking for a job or funding.  Your purpose will keep you focused and give you extra incentive to walk through the door.

2.  Attitude: Wow!  How are you feeling about the event and life in general?  Your attitude is that 93% of what people will hear when you share your brilliant skills.

For those of us who have been having a rough time ‘out there’, it can be hard to keep a positive attitude and this is why it’s really important to rethink your current situation.  If you are feeling really bad, maybe take a break and rejuvenate yourself.  Watch a TV show or meet with a friend who makes you laugh.  Or get extra sleep which always makes (me) feel better.  Most of all, don’t apologize for how things are.  Write down all the things you’ve learned, all the sock drawers you’ve cleaned up (or socks you’ve tossed), or the number of interesting conversations you’ve eavesdropped at Starbuck’s while whiling away the hours.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself all the things you are good at and all you have to offer.   Remember attitude is 93%!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

3.  6 Parts of the 7% verbal:

  1. Smile, maintain eye contact, and shake hands:  a REAL handshake regardless of gender.
  2. Share your name and title
  3. Present your hook, or question.  This may be:  What brings you here today?  or as a prospective documentary filmmaker learned to ask at the workshop:  ‘Do you know who Major Taylor is?
  4. Tell what you offer including specific skills.  T. shared this first as benefits but these are her skills:  Expert at listening and identifying people’s talents and then connecting the right people with the right position.
  5. Share the benefits of your specific skills.  As S. pointed out, just telling people they will save money isn’t enough.  Be sure to be specific:  for example with T., her benefit is saving time and frustration, which will add to productivity.
  6. Ask a follow-up question to gather more information and keep the conversation flowing.  E. has a brilliant skin care line and her pitch follow-up:  ‘What is your skin care challenge?’

Be comfortable enough with your words that you can customize your pitch.  

Be sure to match your skills and benefits with your audience.

4.  Practice

It’s one thing to put together the right words, but remember it’s the nonverbals that will ‘seal the deal’ so to speak.  I always recommend practicing in front of the mirror.  Say your pitch over and over maintaining eye contact with yourself.   Smile.   Become comfortable with the words and watch the excitement build on your own face. It’s catchy.  The more comfortable you are with the words, the easier it is to customize.

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

5.  Appearance

In our perpetual casual Friday society, the way you dress still matters.  Dress for the job and position you want to have.  Want to be in business?  Wear a suit.  Want to be takes seriously?  Dress appropriately.  You’ll feel different and people will treat you in kind.

Most of all: Have fun!  And follow-up with all those business cards you take!

What’s your favorite tip for elevator pitch presentation success?

How do you prepare for networking events?