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Money, Money, Money

February 27, 2010

Filed under: Coaching — admin @ 11:03 am

Spent a day recently at the Money Coaching Institute in Petaluma California. Deborah Price and Steve Shagrin have developed a unique program to analyze how people relate to money.

Deborah and Steve have developed a series of archetypes which can help anyone deal with their tendencies. From a holistic coaching standpoint I was interested to see how money issues can impact virtually every aspect of your life.

I urge you to visit Deborah’s website and take the Money-Type Quiz. Just keep in mind that all the ‘types’ they outline are often present in all of us, although one type usually predominates.

The test is a good place to start and particularly with couples, can help resolve some difficulties that may surface in other areas.

If you need some help, drop me a note.

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Who Needs a Coach?

February 25, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management — admin @ 9:44 am

Sunday’s New York Times “Corner Office” feature included an interview with Jane Eggers, the CEO of a custom T-shirt company with offices in Germany and Boston.

The articles are usually pretty predictable and can’t help but leave the subject looking a bit self-satisfied. Only the very best have a realistic view of their own strengths and weaknesses, a key component of emotional intelligence.  They offer a glimpse into how the CEO’s see themselves which probably leaves most of their employees smirking.

Last week, after the usual questions the interviewer asked what is the toughest part of the job and Ms Eggers noted that it was the loneliness. Not having anyone to bounce ideas off. Board members don’t really wan t to know and telling employees will only start rumors.

For many CEO’s the answer is coaching. That is exactly the reason many companies employ coaches for their top level managers. Coaches act like a mirror and while we may not have all the answers, we don’t have a stake in the business, so we can realistically help a CEO ponder the alternatives and at least ask the right questions.

That’s what coaches do. Maybe I’ll write Ms Eggers a note, it sounds like she could use some help.

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Laughing at Yourself

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — admin @ 7:39 am

It’s probably not good to make fun of your own profession. but I couldn’t help myself when I was introduced the Liza the Life Coach.

But then you really can’t take yourself too seriously these days. It’s too easy to get carried away with our self importance.

I coach because I really enjoy helping my clients achieve their goals and make decisions for the right reasons, but I have to admit when I listen to some of my colleagues or read some ads for coaches, I wonder what these people are thinking.

There are way too many people in the world who are afraid to stand back and take an honest look at what they’re saying or doing. And that goes for more than coaching.

By the way you can see Liza on TV in ads for candy bars. Have fun.

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Who Needs People Skills?

February 22, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management — admin @ 9:33 pm

A lot of executives seem to feel people skills are overrated.

Thankfully the trend is moving the opposite way. I came across a nice article from Harvard Business Review which explains why people skills are needed now more than ever.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

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Video, Video, Video

February 19, 2010

Filed under: Management,Uncategorized — admin @ 12:49 pm

I like the video on my website and I thank my web guru Mark Merenda from Smart Marketing for suggesting it. If you read his comments from my January 26th posting you can understand why he uses them.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to make and use video. If you would like to see what I consider the wrong way –  take a look.

The irony is that the video was sent out by an organization for HR professionals, who should know better.

The lesson here? Communication is 90% non verbal, and if the style masks the message you’ve already lost the battle.

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‘Weird’ Photography

February 18, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations,Tech,Wellness — admin @ 5:18 pm

Sometime in the next week you will notice that my website photo will change. It’s no big deal but hopefully I will stop hearing comments about my tie.

But, like everything else, there’s a lesson here.

To get the new photo I went to a local photographer. I just needed an image for the page but I never thought to ask about whether the photographer, Nan Phelps in Kensington, CA, used a digital camera.

She doesn’t . Nan uses a Mamiya C330 – a model I used as a photographer 30 years ago. What ensued was a lengthy conversation about whether she should switch, or at least offer customers a digital option.

“Photography is about the process,” she said, “I see it as art, and when I hear about other photographers spending hours digitally retouching photographs I cringe. I don’t mind being called weird, or old fashioned, I have a niche, I’m doing very well, and I meet many starving digital photographers, all stressing the need for a faster and faster turnaround. I just want to say stop.”

She was unmoved by my suggestions,  insisting she didn’t care if the digital shutterbugs  raced to the bottom offering lower prices.

“I don’t need to update my software or computer every 18 months, and I’m very proud of my work and don’t have to worry about whether an image I took with a digital camera might be one I want to enlarge but can’t.

It was a wonderful discussion and I have to admit she may have won me over. You can decide for yourself when the new portrait is posted, but just maybe, we’d all be a bit better off if we just slowed down.

I know there would be less stress and that could only be good. Thanks Nan.

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Shot to the Head

February 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:25 pm

My dad doesn’t tell war stories. He’s almost 90 now and a member of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. But in all his years I’ll bet he’s talked about his WWII experiences maybe 5 times.

But stories out of Afghanistan today remind me of one story he did tell. His unit was in Italy when they came under fire. I wish I had lots of colorful details but dad is rather matter of fact about the experience.

He was wounded three times and I know that over the years there were nights he woke up reliving enemy fire but he claims that he just shrugs it off. He still has enough shrapnel in him to set off the airport metal detector and he can’t have a full body MRI because, in case you didn’t know, the M stands for magnetic.

But, when he talks about that battle in Italy he just says that after the fire died down and he and his men were able to relax a bit, his buddy turned to him and asked if he wanted help to the infirmary. Surprised my dad asked why, only to be told he had a bullet hole in his helmet.

He took off his helmet and sure enough a round fell out but that was it. No blood no wound just a bullet to the head.

He just smiles about it today but down in the basement there’s an army helmet with a hole you can put your finger through.

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The Lemonade Factor

Filed under: Management — admin @ 9:15 am

Our neighborhood has a yearly yard sale. Selling lemonade to the captive audience has become big business for the 8-10 year-olds on the street.

This year the self-appointed CEO of the effort, a 9 year-old girl who is just beginning to learn the lessons of leadership, came to me quite upset. “Sophie wants to let one of her friends, -a seven year-old – work at the stand, but I think she’s too young,” the CEO complained. “ I want Sophie to stay but she can’t just tell everyone they can work,” she’s not in charge.

We talked about the issue for a few minutes and finally came up with a way to tell Sophie her friend was too young to work.

While age may not be an issue in most companies, experience, knowledge and simple managerial preference are often criteria used to create teams which are suddenly expanded when ‘volunteers’ decide they’d like to help out a friend.

What’s the best way to make sure the people you want, are part of a team without any extra ‘talent?’ Now that’s a management question.

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Another Phone Story

February 9, 2010

Filed under: Management — admin @ 11:16 am

I was recently ‘forced’ to call the customer service line for a large insurance company. I navigated through the dreaded phone tree until I found the appropriate line where I could sit on hold until their customer service representatives could finish ‘helping other clients.’

Nothing new or unexpected, but before the music started a slightly stern female voice came on to tell me they could no longer answer questions about claims more than two years old, that I could only ask about three items, and that all calls would be ended after 20 minutes.

As I fumed about what I could not do, a cheery young woman suddenly came on the line to help me with my problem. The contrast could not have been more dramatic and I told her so. I suggested that it might make her job a little easier if the recording told people what they could do rather than what they could not do.

Innocently I asked, “have you ever listened to that recording?” to which she answered, “why no, but that would probably be a good idea.” Turns out she was a psychology major in  real life and, probably to humor me, said she understood my complaint and,  thought it was quite justified.

She also solved my other problem, but I can’t help wondering how much the whole dynamic might change if administrators let people on the front lines listen to their brilliant ideas and didn’t leave callers with a negative impression before the whole process started.

I’m sure they don’t really care what I think of their messages, but it has to make the customer service reps job even tougher if the call waiting process creates a negative mood even before any action is taken.

Another example of how just a little emotional intelligence could reduce a tiny amount of unneeded stress for everyone.

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Emotional Intelligence on patrol

February 6, 2010

Filed under: Coaching — admin @ 3:12 pm

To be a good police officer, you need a pretty high level of emotional intelligence. EI takes in a lot of territory on the psychological development scale, but a personal incident this past week will give you an idea what I’m talking about.

My wife and I left for a short appointment in the early evening. We backed out of the driveway just as last bits of light left the sky and coincidentally another band of rain showers moved overhead.

While we were out, the rain became a torrent and it was still raining heavily as we turned  into our street to pull back into the driveway. Unfortunately there was no entrance. A neighbor had parked his car across the front of the driveway.

After dropping my wife off, I parked halfway down the block and trudged over to my neighbor’s house, ready to hear his excuse for being so stupid. After all, he’s lived on the street for three years.

There was no answer and after a few expletives I went home and called the police. When the patrol officer arrived, he checked the registration, confirmed the car belonged to my neighbor and retraced my steps to the owner’s front door.

His result was the same and he returned to my front porch saying,”I can do whatever you want, we can tow it, I can put a ticket on it, or perhaps, I can just come back in a few hours and if it’s still there, I’ll give him a ticket then, the choice is yours.” Then the officer added, “He is your neighbor after all, and while it’s pretty stupid, you’re both still gonna be living on the street.”

While my wife lobbied for the ‘tow it now’ approach, I picked door number three – patience. Sure enough, a few hours later, the rain stopped and I heard my neighbor, a young man of about 30, moving his car.

When I went out to move my car back into the driveway he approached to apologize adding, “I don’t know what I was thinking, it was raining, I just saw a parking spot and was focused on getting in the house.”

I just mumbled something about how incredulous I was and the incident was over.

My point is, I was considering only two options – tow or ticket – but the officer had enough emotional intelligence training, or perhaps it came naturally, to suggest option C, which, in the long run, allowed  for long term neighborhood peace.

Figuring out option C, is why many people hire personal coaches.

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