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Choosing Delight

Choosing Delight

Ross Gay’s Book of Delights is an invitation. Starting and ending on his birthday, the poet wrote an essay a day about the things, people and events that struck his delight - a smile from the person selling him a bus ticket, a song on the radio, his garden, a turn of...

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Tell Your Story as a Novel from Different Points of View

Tell Your Story as a Novel from Different Points of View

Stories have power. We humans are narrative creatures. Our stories anchor us to our identities and help us understand ourselves. When we are in a new relationship, we dole out our stories as a way of inviting someone to know us, and if you’ve been with someone for a...

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You can’t tell by looking at me …….

You can’t tell by looking at me …….

We all wear masks. They consist of the parts of ourselves that we gladly show to others - qualities, attributes, feelings, and experiences that we choose to reveal in a given setting. We also have parts of ourselves that we don’t talk about or show. Maybe because...

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My White Fragility and What I’m Going to Do About It

My White Fragility and What I’m Going to Do About It

I am white. That is to say, the pale pinkish color of my skin that Crayola used to call "flesh" puts me in the socially constructed category of “whiteness.” But I don’t typically think of myself as having a race. If you ask me to describe myself, there are lots of...

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Approach your career like an artist

Approach your career like an artist

When you are feeling stuck, uncertain, and afraid of taking action, you would do well to remember Diebenkorn’s  “Notes to Myself on Beginning a Painting.” Number 7 is: “Mistakes can’t be erased, but they move you from your present position.” He was, of course,...

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Experiencing Grief and Joy at the Holidays

Experiencing Grief and Joy at the Holidays

The following is a Perspective I recorded for KQED. You can listen to it here. I’m a holiday person. Starting with the Thanksgiving ritual of going around the table and ending with staying up ‘til midnight on New Year’s Eve, I treasure the traditions of the season....

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From the Culture Desk: When Startups Get Political

From the Culture Desk: When Startups Get Political

“It was great in the early days. Then things got political.” This is a common lament from my startup clients. When pressed to define “political,” the answers can get a bit fuzzy. Most find it hard to pinpoint, but, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of...

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Get Your Gratitude On – For Its Own Sake

Get Your Gratitude On – For Its Own Sake

All over the country this week bloggers are holding forth on the subject of gratitude. And I’m all for gratitude, not just in November, but daily, maybe even hourly. But too often gratitude is touted not as an end in itself but because it will help you achieve some...

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Details, Details…..Confession of a Former Associate

Details, Details…..Confession of a Former Associate

It's really hard to excel at something that you don't like. At my first law job after my clerkship, I was one of forty lawyers to join a prestigious 450-lawyer firm. As our training ground, we newbies were distributed throughout the firm and assigned to help more...

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It’s Not All About You

It’s Not All About You

California may very well be the cradle of the "spiritual but not religious" movement, if you can call it a movement. Many of us are are more inclined to spend our weekends hiking or mountain-biking than in a church, synagogue or mosque. And we are not alone. The Pew...

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My New Hero

My New Hero

This post first appeared on the Perspectives series on KQED.  You can listen here. Rushing to change into my street clothes after a morning swim, I heard “can I help you with that?” I looked up to see a young woman reaching out to help an older lady  pull her shirt...

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Life on the Other Side of the Finish Line

Life on the Other Side of the Finish Line

Last weekend I completed the Bike MS Waves to Wine ride -- the longest cycling event of my life -- and I raised nearly $4000 for the MS Society. I feel strong and happy and proud. (I hesitate to admit that I feel proud, because my good New England upbringing taught me...

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From The Obvious Files: Get More Sleep (+ Some Tips)

From The Obvious Files: Get More Sleep (+ Some Tips)

This morning, I watched my beloved and bleary-eyed husband pour orange juice into his empty bowl. When the kids and I started howling with laughter, he realized what he was doing, grinned, and spooned his oatmeal into his glass and sat down to eat, slurping juice from...

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Can You Afford Coaching?

Can You Afford Coaching?

A friend of mine recently asked, "Do you find that the people who most need coaching can least afford it?" and it got me thinking about money and about the value of coaching. The question of what you can afford it highly subjective and value-laden. Look at any budget...

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The Secret of Goal Setting: Values Alignment

The Secret of Goal Setting: Values Alignment

One of the first things we do in a coaching relationship -- whether it is career coaching, leadership development, team coaching, or personal life coaching -- is set goals. Like most coaches, I encourage my clients to (1) be very specific about their goals, (2) make...

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What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

One of the first questions I ask new and prospective clients is "what do you want?" More often than not, the answer is: "I don't know," or "I'm not sure." The first phase of coaching then focuses on clarifying what the client wants so that he or she can begin to move...

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Follow Tina Fey’s Advice: Say Yes, And…..

Follow Tina Fey’s Advice: Say Yes, And…..

There are a number of lessons I will take from Tina Fey's memoir, Bossy Pants. Stay away from the paper cups in male writers' offices at Saturday Night Live is one.** Another is that fame and fortune do not make women immune to the often agonizing trade-offs between...

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Grading on a Curve Undermines Performance

Grading on a Curve Undermines Performance

Microsoft offers a lesson on how not to conduct performance reviews. Its evaluation process, called "stack ranking" -- essentially grading on a curve -- has had a disastrous effect on morale, performance, and innovation, reports Kurt Eichenwald in "How Microsoft Lost...

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Going Pro

Going Pro

If you read my last blog, you know that I am battling resistance. Today it has taken on many forms, from errands to housework to the season finale of "Smash." And now it has gelled into writer's block. I have several ideas,  each of which has some merit, but none of...

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Battling Resistance

Battling Resistance

Today I'm writing about the ways in which we stop ourselves from pursuing what we want: resistance in all its forms. Sometimes it is personified as our gremlin, saboteur, or negative voice that tells us that we are not capable of doing or creating what we want or that...

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Summer Camp is a Big Step for Parents, Too

Summer Camp is a Big Step for Parents, Too

On Sunday we delivered our nine-year-old daughter to the bus that will take her to sleep-away camp for the first time.  It was far from a tearful goodbye – she was first in line to get on and gave me a warm but brief hug before boarding. I smiled bravely and waved at...

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Re-Defining Having It All

Re-Defining Having It All

I feel the need to explain myself. My last two posts on the topic of Having It All -- both which might be interpreted as discouraging -- are probably not very good marketing for someone in my profession. After all, my job as a coach is to help people dream big and...

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Having It All Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Having It All Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

What do we mean by "having it all," anyway? What ever happened to “enough”? Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic Monthly article, which I already blogged about earlier this week, asserts that we are lying to young women when we tell them that they can have it all. Instead...

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Men Don’t Have It All, Either

Men Don’t Have It All, Either

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s heavily Tweeted cover story in the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” publicly and very personally acknowledges what most women in the corporate trenches already know: it is incredibly difficult to climb...

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Mentoring Others Pays Off

Mentoring Others Pays Off

Mentoring and coaching others turns out to be more than just good Karma. A recent study of high-potential employees, Leaders Pay it Forward, found that those who mentored or coached less experienced colleagues advanced their careers and earned more than their peers...

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When Is It OK to Settle for Less Than Your Dream Job?

When Is It OK to Settle for Less Than Your Dream Job?

I believe in going for it, following your muse, pursuing your dreams -- not playing small or "settling." But sometimes, it's right to take a job that is not your dream job. But don't despair -- you can make such a pragmatic choice without giving up on your vision. The...

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Get Out of the Box, Literally

Get Out of the Box, Literally

I confess, I have come to loathe the phrase “think outside the box.” My quibble is not with the concept, but with the overuse of the metaphor. Now it turns out that the value of thinking outside the box is not just metaphorical – it is literal. New research described...

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Marriage Confidential — Provocative but Unsatisfying

Marriage Confidential — Provocative but Unsatisfying

Pamela Haag's Marriage Confidential is a promising and provocative but ultimately disappointing exploration of modern marriage. In what she calls the “post-romantic” era of marriage the author introduces the concept of the “semi-happy” or “low-conflict” marriage – a...

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Ask the Right Questions

Ask the Right Questions

Sometimes, asking “why?” can be a trap. A typical individual coaching client comes to me wanting to do something (it could be anything – find a job, write a book, earn a promotion, get in shape) and looking for my help. Very likely by the time he comes to me, he has...

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Revive Your Flagging Resolution

Revive Your Flagging Resolution

Overheard conversation between two regulars in the elevator of 24 hour Fitness gym on January 3: “Crowded today.” “Yup. It's all those New Year's resolutions.” “Uh-huh, but don't worry, it won't last long.” It seems that built into the whole idea of New Years...

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Making the Most of Your Offsite

Making the Most of Your Offsite

Three days of togetherness doesn't make up of 362 days of overwork. And all the rah-rah "team building" in the world is no substitute for listening to and acknowledging your employees. To be effective, an off-site employee retreat must address the needs of the...

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What’s the Use of Myers-Briggs™ (MBTI)?

What’s the Use of Myers-Briggs™ (MBTI)?

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most widely used assessment tools in business and management settings, as well as in personal and career development. Its long history and use, including ongoing research and development, make it a remarkably reliable and...

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Mindfulness Lesson on Ice

Mindfulness Lesson on Ice

Today at the ice rink, the present moment collided with the past and the future. And I'm not talking about science fiction here. I received a lesson in mindfulness. For the first half hour of our family outing I skated slowly, holding hands and guiding each of my...

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Conflict Avoidance is a Warning Signal

Conflict Avoidance is a Warning Signal

The absence of conflict may be a sign that something is wrong with your team. This may sound counter-intuitive at first, but it’s true. In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni sets up a pyramid of indicators of team dysfunction read more…

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Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Many of my career coaching clients cringe at the word “networking.” But I think networking gets a bad rap. When undertaken in the right spirit, building relationships can be fun as well as helpful. And you don’t have to be Keith Ferrazi to do it.

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Thinking Like an Owner

Thinking Like an Owner

My husband and I recently hosted a company party for the biotech startup where he works. When the CEO, who was picking up the tab for the event, offered to pay for carpet cleaning, I joked, “Thanks, but I don't want to increase your burn rate.” He chuckled, “That's...

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No More Mister Nice Guy?

No More Mister Nice Guy?

Nice guys earn significantly lower salaries than less agreeable men (though still more than women, regardless of their agreeableness) reports a new study by Timothy A. Judge, Beth A. Livingston, and Charlice Hurst in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology....

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Launched!

Launched!

This morning, I launched my son -- my  baby -- into the world. Today he begins an academic career that I hope will foster and channel his natural curiosity, helping him chart a path of discovery that takes him ..... where? The possibilities are endless. He also will...

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Learn from Success

Learn from Success

"Learn from your mistakes." How many times have you heard this? It's good advice, as far as it goes. The lessons of our failures are valuable -- burn your finger once and you learn to steer clear of the hot stove. But how often have you conducted an autopsy of a...

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The Benefits of Over-Communicating

The Benefits of Over-Communicating

When in doubt about who's doing what, OVER-COMMUNICATE. Ask questions. Air assumptions. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Frequent, direct communication prevents you from assuming that your colleague is going to do something, only to find out when it's too late that he...

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How You Slice It

How You Slice It

What are your priorities? Are you living them? There's a group called NotMyPriorities.org that hands out postcards depicting a pie chart of the United States' budget. The Pentagon's slice is well over half the pie, with each of the other categories (education, health,...

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Reality Check Your Resolution

Reality Check Your Resolution

Whether or not you are a resolution-maker, the New Year invites you to take stock of the distance traveled over the last twelve months and set goals for the coming year. This year, many of us look back on 2010 and see a lot of hardships – whether loss of job,...

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Childcare – Who Pays?

Childcare – Who Pays?

"I'd love to work, but I'd barely make enough to pay for childcare," says my friend, a mother of three. And I've heard this explanation from many stay-at-home-moms, heck, it was my reasoning for a long time as well. But assessing the cost of childcare solely to the...

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Find Abundance Through Sharing

Find Abundance Through Sharing

These days, scarcity is everywhere. As the media tell us daily, jobs are scarce, money is tight, credit is hard to get, and hope for speedy recovery is in short supply. On top of the financial pinch, many of us feel caught in a perpetual time crunch -- there never...

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The Stop Doing List

The Stop Doing List

If you're like me, you have a To Do list -- whether the high-tech version on your smart phone or the low-tech kind written on a Post-It, or perhaps just maintained in your head. But do you have a Stop Doing list? Maybe you should. I got this idea from Jim Collin's...

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Confessions of a Mid-Life Mama

Confessions of a Mid-Life Mama

Mid-Life Crisis -- the phrase conjures up the image of a forty-something man who suddenly feels his life slipping away from him,  wonders if this is all there is, and reacts by getting himself a flashy new sportscar, or a maybe a hot young girlfriend.  There's no...

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The Four Bs of Balance

The Four Bs of Balance

When my pals and I were in our twenties, I don't remember worrying much about finding balance in our lives. We worked hard, played hard, stayed up late and damn the consequences. But now as a mid-career professionals, many of us with children, I find we are all...

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Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude

"Truly grateful people don't make lists of things to be grateful for any more than happy people make lists of things to be happy about." says Hank Deveraux in the epilogue to Richard  Russo's hilarious and poignant novel, Straight Man.  And there's a certain...

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I’m a Triathlete (who’da thunk it? not me!)

I’m a Triathlete (who’da thunk it? not me!)

Well, I did it! On Sunday I completed the Olympic distance Marin Triathlon. It was the culmination of weeks of training, and I felt great. I am still basking in the glow of accomplishment and I am already thinking about doing another triathlon and bettering my times....

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Tapping Into Your Inner Board of Directors

Tapping Into Your Inner Board of Directors

Have you ever been stuck at a decision point, paralyzed by inner conflict, pulled in multiple directions by different needs, desires, and fears? Instead of trying to choose among these warring factions of yourself, perhaps it is time to get them to work together. Cast...

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Thanks, Moms!

Thanks, Moms!

Here's a shout out to all the stay-at-home moms (and dads) out there – thank you for all you do, not just for your own kids but for my kids too. I am writing this from my hotel room in Pt. Reyes, California where I am staying for a client off-site retreat that Leigh...

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Bedtime Chicken

Bedtime Chicken

Lately, my husband and I have been playing a game of chicken. It goes like this: Both of us say that we want to go to bed earlier, but then as evening progresses, we each keep on working and wait for the other to blink first. Finally when it is well past our target...

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Happiness vs. Pleasure

Happiness vs. Pleasure

I have a confession to make: I didn't actually feel very good at the gym on Saturday. My triathlon training session  -- especially my somewhat labored running -- was not pleasant. It didn't actually hurt, but it was hard work for me. I thought of the blog I had posted...

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Happiness Beyond the Comfort Zone

Happiness Beyond the Comfort Zone

In fifty-one days my husband Reece and I will be running, biking, and swimming the Marin Triathlon. There! I have set a specific, measurable, and actionable goal. Now that it is public, I am committed. So here's a cool thing I have noticed: three weeks into my...

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How Much is Enough?

How Much is Enough?

Money. We all need it, and daily we make decisions large and small about how to use it. We are constantly bombarded with news of the economy, and many of us have definite opinions about the local, national, and world economies. But when it comes to personal finances,...

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Five Tips for When the Parenting Honeymoon is Over

Five Tips for When the Parenting Honeymoon is Over

What do we do when the first bloom of parenthood wears off and reality sets in? In marriage, it is called the "seven year itch," when many a husband or wife tires of the reality of life with their spouse. But this experience is not limited to marital partners, says ...

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Take a Day Off From Tech

Take a Day Off From Tech

I hereby declare my first No-Tech Sunday a success! After hemming and hawing, resisting and justifying … I did it. Saturday night I sent my last email and made a Facebook post (about going offline, of course!), and turned off the laptop. So that I wouldn't forget, I...

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What’s Behind the Compulsion to Check Email

What’s Behind the Compulsion to Check Email

Do you feel annoyed and burdened by email and yet feel a perverse desire to check it throughout the day, even when you don't really need to? As if maybe something really interesting or important is waiting in the Inbox? (This hope is usually disappointed, of course.)...

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In Pursuit of Happiness

In Pursuit of Happiness

The United States' Declaration of Independence holds that all people possess the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I learned this in school, and then somewhere along the line I got the idea that to pursue happiness was somehow selfish...

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Drudgery Transformed

Drudgery Transformed

How can you stay motivated when you are overwhelmed by a To Do list as long as your arm? Or when everything feels like drudgery and you just can't make yourself get started? One way I help my clients get into action is to connect them to the purpose underlying what...

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Stigma-Busting (or How I Dealt With Lice)

Stigma-Busting (or How I Dealt With Lice)

As my children and I boarded the plane at SFO bound for Lake Michigan, the pilot invited the kids into the cockpit for a look. One by one they sat in the pilot's seat while I took photos with my phone-cam. It was cramped but jolly, and then Matty informed the pilot,...

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Breaking Up (With Your Job) is Hard To Do

Breaking Up (With Your Job) is Hard To Do

I have a client who is completely fed up with her job. She is spread too thin, underpaid, under-resourced, isolated, and dissatisfied. She has tried hard to make the job work better, but it has now become clear that the fundamental problems with this job are not going...

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Walking My Talk

Walking My Talk

A good friend of mine recently asked me if being a coach makes me feel like I have to do everything perfectly. I told her that I don't feel that way, but that I do feel an obligation to “walk my talk.” But what does that really mean? For me, it means that I need to do...

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Mommy Needs a Time Out

Mommy Needs a Time Out

I am test-driving Jane Nelsen's  "Positive Discipline." As I read the book, I am trying the techniques, and I will share my experience with you. Here's the scene: I have just busted my daughter for some infraction, and she is defensive and angry. I begin to explain...

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Conscious Eating Tips for Moms

Conscious Eating Tips for Moms

Moms --  do you find your weight creeping up? Maybe you never lost the baby weight, or maybe it was a couple of pounds last year and another couple this year. But if you do the math ..... well, before you know it you'll be deep in mom-jeans territory. Now's the time...

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The Measure of a Mother

The Measure of a Mother

I'm about to do something very un-coach-like. I'm going to suggest that you lower your standards. As a coach, I always encourage my clients to dream big, to set ambitious goals and not be bounded by what seems reasonably achievable. Succeed or fail, you're usually...

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In Praise of Partnership*

In Praise of Partnership*

  I'm not sure when "partner" became a verb, and truth be told, my inner lexicographer probably winced the first few times I heard it. But now I have adopted it whole-heartedly. So much so that today I partnered with a terrific coach and consultant, Leigh Marz,...

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What’s on Your Nightstand?

What’s on Your Nightstand?

  Further confirmation that I have found the right profession -- my bedside reading. Lately, my reading habits have changed. I have always been an avid reader of fiction. From Narnia and Tolkien in grade school, to romance novels in my teens, to literary fiction...

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Four Steps to Avoiding Terminal Vagueness

Four Steps to Avoiding Terminal Vagueness

  According to debtor's anonymous, many people who repeatedly incur unsecured debt experience so-called “terminal vagueness” – a lack of awareness or monitoring of their finances. But you don't have to be ready for a Twelve-Step program to be prone to this...

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Coaching & Therapy

Coaching & Therapy

  People often ask me what is the difference between coaching and therapy. Much is made of the differences, usually by one side seeking to disparage the other side. Therapists claim that coaching – which is three decades old and largely unregulated – lacks the...

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Showing Up

Showing Up

  Woody Allen famously said that “eighty percent of success is showing up.” But sometimes showing up is more than eighty percent – it's the whole ball game. This past week tragedy struck my husband's family when his younger cousin James died suddenly, devastating...

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It’s Not Just For Kids

It’s Not Just For Kids

  The very best parenting manuals translate to other aspects of life, as well. In her classic parenting guide, Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson asks, “Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel...

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My Headset Was in the Fruit Bowl

My Headset Was in the Fruit Bowl

  My timing was flawless. I returned from dropping my son off at school just before my first client of the day. But when the phone rang promptly at 9:30 I couldn't find my wireless headset (perhaps the most important piece of technology for a coach). It was ......

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From Lawyer to Coach (NFL Coach, That Is)

From Lawyer to Coach (NFL Coach, That Is)

  The story of lawyer-turned-football-coach Daron Roberts offers some great lessons on career change. Roberts turned his back on a Harvard Law School education to start from scratch and become an NFL coach. While your transition may be less dramatic, you can...

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Motherhood Runs the Gamut of Emotions

Motherhood Runs the Gamut of Emotions

  I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or cheer when I read a post on ParentHacks suggesting that moms turn their children's bathtime into "pamper" time by sticking their own feet in a lavender scented kids' bathtub while reading a glossy magazine, and then...

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Announcing New Alliance with mac advisors

Announcing New Alliance with mac advisors

  I'm thrilled to announce that in addition to my own coaching practice, I will be joining the mac advisors team for organization and business coaching. Partners Michael MacNeill and Caroline MacNeill Hall are a dynamic pair who bring tremendous experience,...

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Express Your Own Fun

Express Your Own Fun

  You can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you like to do. And since leisure time is limited, beware of forcing yourself to do something because you think you SHOULD enjoy it. Much as I am embarrassed to admit it, I really like Madonna. I admire...

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Law School Grads — Where Did Our Drive Go?

Law School Grads — Where Did Our Drive Go?

  "I don't expect to love my job. There's a reason they call it 'work.' That's why they pay me for it," my friend said to me at lunch yesterday. She is a senior associate at a big San Francisco law firm, and like many in her position, she is overworked and...

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Ten Tips for Business Development

Ten Tips for Business Development

  Here are ten tips to help you grow your business and develop strong client relationships: 1. Know your value. What do you offer? What are your core strengths? 2. Know your edge. Be able to articulate what sets you apart from competitors. If you are a small...

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This is Only a Test

This is Only a Test

  Today I spoke with Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, about her book, happiness, and coaching. Our conversation touched on the importance of taking action. Gretchen's project was all about test-driving a wide range happiness theories...

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Work from the Outside-In

Work from the Outside-In

  Sometimes, when all else fails, you need to fake it. I'm not talking about Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally." I'm talking about creating an exterior that represents how you want to feel rather than how you actually feel, looking good when you feel not-so-good,...

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Interviewing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Interviewing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

  I recently coached two people who were preparing for job interviews that were a stretch from their current position. Several themes emerged that lead me to provide the following guidance to job-seekers. When interviewing for a job takes you another rung up on...

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Starting Sunday — Workshop for Dual Career Parents

Starting Sunday — Workshop for Dual Career Parents

  I'm really excited about my upcoming workshop on Dual-Career Parenting. It's not so much a parenting workshop as a relationship workshop for parents. If you know anyone who would be interested, I still have room for two more couples. *Parenting and Relationship...

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