Archives for the month of: March, 2011

Leadership expert Steven Covey says, “When we listen with the intent to understand others, rather than with the intent to reply, we begin true communication building.”

While sitting in Bryant Park recently, two bright young lads approached me and asked some very personal questions about my thoughts on life.  Although they didn’t come right out and say it, turns out they were missionaries for the Unification Church, otherwise known as the Moonies.

The funny thing is that the very day before I had watched an interview with the creators of the highly acclaimed new musical, Book of Mormon and the topic of missionaries and religion was top of mind, so I was more open than usual to engage with them while soaking up some sun.

Instead of automatically dismissing them, I asked questions about where they were from, what they had experienced since they’d been in NYC and what they hoped to gain while here. I did offer my opinion about how trying to convince people of what to believe was a pretty fruitless endeavor, that each individual is on their own path and needs to come to their own understanding of religion, spirituality etc in their own way, in their own time.

I suggested that they should just do what they love, be the best version of themselves they can be and that in itself would do more than anything else. I hoped that they would savor this experience of traveling and meeting so many different types of people from themselves (one was from Wyoming, the other from Washington State), which would do more to enrich their lives and connection to humanity than actually recruiting others to their belief system.

It was a pleasant and respectful conversation, and I think we each came away feeling it was a positive interaction.  And I did ask about some of the principles and mission of the church, which I did not necessarily disagree with, as I can always find points of connection with just about anyone – because there is a little bit of all of us in each other and a little bit of truth in everything if you listen and look for it, and we have much more in common than we think we do.

With so much anti-Muslim sentiment and political divisiveness these days, on top of a crumbling planet and economy, Brotherly (& Sisterly!) Love, under whatever label you’d like to call it, is the only glue that will hold together a planet currently patched together, to coin a good friend’s term, with ‘bubble gum and rubber bands.’

So if you’re feeling like Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep or Michael Stipe, give me a buzz and I’ll proselytize you to yourself, converting you into your biggest believer, so you can get out there and make your corner of the world a little brighter for us all!

I woke up Saturday morning and turned on the TV to find out that foreign military action had begun in Libya. What?!? I had missed the quickie UN Resolution that took place on Friday and watched live as the media was scrambling trying to decipher what was going on and all the time I’m thinking, is this really happening, again?

A sinking feeling came over me; yes I was happy that Lindsay Lohan was out of the news, but to be replaced by coverage of another US multilateral intervention!?  Yikes. Spring has most certainly sprung.

One thing we know for sure is that history, unfortunately, often repeats itself. War is rarely simple or justified. We’ve had so many movies and video games laden with violence that as a society we’ve become de-sensitized. What we see on the big screen is now starting to unfold in reality on the small;  even still there has been so much massive tragedy and destruction the last several years, both natural and man-made, it doesn’t even phase us as much as it should. As long as we still have our DWTS, American Idol and Jersey Shore we can numb ourselves and tune out.  When will we ever learn??

Because we’ve been lulled into such a state of complacency and so many are dealing with financial survival, the gravity of what happened this weekend is barely registering our richter scale. But if you can’t comprehend and connect globally, then at least reflect and act locally.

There’s a old song that says “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” So the question is: Are you at war with yourself? Is your head battling your heart and gut as to the direction it wants to go, or your body struggling with your mind and not doing what you need it to?  Where in your life is history repeating itself? What conflicts are constantly being re-created with different uniforms, labels, scenarios and countries?

As Bob Marley sang, we don’t need No More Trouble, not only with our multi-front wars in the Middle East, but our wars at home on the middle class,  women’s health, Muslims, and homosexuals to name a few. Right now we’re  Rock in the Casbah but at the end of the day All You Need is Love , so start by learning to Love the One You’re Withyourself and those closest to you. Then, and only then, can we start to truly stand united and break the chains of our past.

As Yogi Berra famously said, ‘It ain’t over til it’s over’, so if you’re feeling like you’ve been stuck in a Nick at Nite  M*A*S*H marathon loop, give me a buzz and we’ll pull the plug, launch Operation Open Heart and finish this thing once and for all.

As we watch with heartbreak and compassion the devastating aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, it’s a good time to reflect on (or react to) where that tectonic plate is in your life that needs to be released of its tension? Where do you need to prevent a tsunami or nuclear fallout from occurring (or recover from one that just did)?

We all have areas of life that we tend to neglect more than others and allow things to build up over time. Like Mother Nature’s need to release her pent up pressure through a variety of earth and weather based events, our unbalanced energy has to go somewhere – and when not addressed it gets buried within us as fat or addictions, crushing debt, unhelathy relationships, dead-end jobs, physical or mental illness, or a general malaise, until one day the walls come a tumblin’ down – because if you don’t take care of it, the Universe eventually will.

As the saying goes, we often need to have a breakdown before we can have a breakthrough – it’s just life showing you where change is required.  What emotions have been repressed that need to be released with a good cry or a sweaty workout?  Is your mind about to crack (hopefully not like Charlie Sheen, which on the surface appears entertaining but is no joking matter); is a relationship or career or job search or your finances beyond repair or in need of a big ole tune-up; is your body giving you a hard time?

Change is one thing that is certain in life, and it is most definitely in the air at the moment. Embracing it and going with the flow makes dealing  with change easier and less stressful, so heed the wisdom from a certain ’70’s hit TV show, when Peter was going through puberty and the Brady kids sang ,very groovily I might add, ‘…when it’s time to change, then it’s time to change – don’t fight the tide, come along for the ride.’ It means that ‘…you’ve got to re-arrange who you are into what you’re gonna be.’ (Try getting that song out of your head now…sha na na na na)

Change is always good if we respond to it in the right way: by accepting our state of affairs, our responsibility in its creation, and facing the fears about what actions are necessary to confront it –  all the while knowing that we will be better, stronger, and wiser for having done so. And, we need to deal with the reality of the situation as it is, not as we would like it to be.

Not sure where the seismic activity or cresting river is in your life?  You can always use the force like Luke Skywalker or Jamiroquai, or give me a buzz and I’ll read the warning signs and provide rescue, relief and/or recovery to help you avoid a full-on meltdown and instead enjoy the ride!


Today is the 100 year anniversary of International Women’s Day so in honor of this occasion I’d like to give a special shout-out to all the men out there and encourage you to celebrate all the ways in which women make your lives better (i.e.check out my post from last week), acknowledge what you can learn from us, and inspire you to get in touch with your feminine side with unabashed pride.

Dan Abrams just came out with a book called Man Down, a tome that provides extensive research proving how women are pretty much better at everything than men. Whether you believed that or not already, the key here is to remember that we are not in a Battle of the Sexes, but more that everyone, regardless of which gender you are identified or associate with, needs to demonstrate the best characteristics of both worlds.

But the reality is that most men have a problem expressing emotion, long considered a girly trait. The amazing irony is that as I am literally in the midst of writing this post (which has been planned for more than a day) I flip the channel to see the end of Charlie Rose interviewing David Brooks about his new book The Social Animal. Charlie, who is clearly an exception to this rule, admits how important it is for people to have the “power to express yourself and have emotional intelligence.” David comments how he, and most men, struggle with this and how he admires Bruce Springsteen as someone who is a ‘manly working class guy who can be emotional in a respectable way.’  (Thanks fellas for validating my post right as I type it!)

Most men will never know What It Feels Like For a Girl, so since this year the day also falls on Mardi Gras, what better excuse is there than to ‘dress’ in drag metaphorically and try your woman-like alter ego on for size.  I don’t mean like a full-on Tootsie or Ms. Doubtfire, but more like the guys in I Love You, Man or The Boss in all his glory; allow yourself to be just a little more sensitive, intuitive, creative, and expressive of what it is you’re feeling.

Whether your birth announcement was pink or blue, we all need to balance our Mickey with our Minnie, so give me a buzz and I’ll give you an opportunity and show you the way to make the most of all of who you are, without having to shave your legs, put on a fake moustache or become like SNL’s Pat

Besides coming in like a lion and out like a lamb, March brings with it a month long celebration of women’s history and accomplishments.  2011 is both an exciting and confusing time for women, as we’ve come very far in many ways (Hillary Clinton, Justices Sotomayor & Kagan), and not so far in others (Real Housewives, Kardashians and the recent attack on Planned Parenthood).

In the US, girls and young women have advanced incredibly and are doing well, if not better, educationally than their male counterparts and make up more than half the workforce. Many women today take for granted the struggle that so many of our predecessors endured until now, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Or do we?

According to the panelists at  Building a Pipeline to Women’s Leadership, although we have had victory in terms of legislating equal rights and the institution of policies and procedures at corporations and governments that uphold them, the day to day reality is another story.

We tell our girls and young women that the sky is the limit, that they have the freedom to pursue their dreams, but women often hit a brick wall when it comes to the top. With an average of less than 15% of the top leadership positions across all sectors, a glass ceiling continues to still exists, and for a variety of reasons, mostly that those already in those positions are too threatened or unsure of how inclusion will positively impact the bottom line, and that the demands of such jobs can’t accommodate all the demands put on women as primary caretakers.  A transformational cultural change is what needs to take place.

The good news is that wall is being taken down slowly bit by bit, old replacing new; another type of Changing of the Guard initiated by women requiring more work/life balance, and now almost demanded from the bottom up, as the millennials and great talent expect to have a certain amount of flexibility and freedom as part of the status quo and will seek it elsewhere if not found.

More and more studies are showing that as the world adapts to and honors the needs of women, everyone will benefit. This approach, combined with the various types of technology now at our disposal, is truly revolutionizing the way in which we work regardless of our gender.

So how to navigate your career in the midst of such change with the economy as precarious and unpredictable at best?  We can’t possibly imagine what jobs will look like in 2, 4 or 10 years (remember just 5 years ago we barely had smartphones, wi-fi, facebook and twitter!)  The only thing to do is to get in touch with and know what it is you offer and be the best at it, continually growing and evolving into the fullest version of yourself.

As I tell my clients and attendees, new opportunities, scenarios, companies and functions are sprouting up daily, so trust that the right opening will find you or you will recognize it when you see it. In the meantime, stay true to who you are, be the exception to every rule until it becomes the norm, and know that at the end of the day, it really is about a journey that we will someday be able to tell both our daughters and our sons what a long way we indeed have come.

P.S. I know this was a bit longer than usual, I’ll go back to my shorter, snappier version next week!

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