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    Have Your Book, And Read It, Too!

    I was speaking this morning with a coaching client, who was trying to commit to an exercise program. When I asked her what some of the roadblocks were, she mentioned that she gets herself caught up in a good book, and then doesn’t want to break away from the book to go to the gym.

    Now for me, I don’t even need a GOOD book as a temptation to skip a workout! But here’s what I do: I have a special, terrible stash of junky magazines I pick up from my airport visits (I am too embarrassed to name them here, but you probably can guess that at least one of them leads with a “Britney!” headline) — and I only allow myself to read them on the treadmill, bike or elliptical. That way, when I am craving crap (of the intellectual kind), I take myself directly to a sweat n’ read session.

    I suggested to my client that she buy a stash of books she has been eager to read, and park them in her gym bag. They can only escape that gym bag AT THE GYM. They are not to see the light of day anywhere else.

    Her response? “Why didn’t I think of that?”

    My response: “Hey, that’s what a coach is for!”

    Happy reading!!!


    Eat, Eat! A Lesson on Networking

    “More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.” Peter Drucker

    Lunch? Dinner? Who has the time?

    Well, the Jewish mother in me says, “You gotta eat!” The organizational coach in me says, “If you’re gonna eat, you might as well eat strategically!” No, strategic eating doesn’t mean making sure that your meal has vegetables, protein and carbs (but don’t tell that to my nutritionist). It means using your “down time” for a higher purpose.

    I know this is not new. There are books about it, like “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” by by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz.

    But in the same that NBC TV calls their re-runs “New To You” if you haven’t already seen them, if you’re not already actively networking, then this is, in fact, New To You.

    Here are some questions to get you started:

    1. If your network were “perfect” what three things would be different for you?
    2. Where do you want to go in 6 months? a year? 3 years?
    3. Who specifically can help you get there? How?
    4. What’s keeping you from taking a more active role in your own development?

    …and one more:

    5. Who in your existing network is draining you rather than giving you energy, and what might you do about this?


    My Jewish Coach Goes in Search of the Holy Grail in North Carolina

    Last week, my Aunt Laurie moved to temperate North Carolina from frigid, frostbitten Minnesota. Tomorrow, I head down south to help her unpack, set-up and explore her new surroundings. In explaining to my kids, 7 year old twins Jacob and Sophie, where I was headed and why (as a frequent business traveler, I have mastered a 10-second “pitch” explaining the why, where and how long of each sojourn), I tried to engage them in my mission.

    “So,” I asked, “what kinds of places would you like me to find near Aunt Laurie’s house for when YOU get to come visit?” Like the lawyer I am not (but my father-in-law secretly hopes I will become), I asked the question knowing the answer already. I sat back, waiting for the inevitable list: toy store, candy store, ice cream store…

    And this is why I am not a lawyer — because I never saw this coming.

    Sophie replied: “Bathrooms.”

    Bathrooms? Not an amusement park, zoo or go-kart track?


    Basic needs. What fun would everything else be if you don’t have a bathroom?

    It reminded me about how important it is to take a step back and distinguish between needs and wants. So ask yourself:

    What are three things you really need — in your career, in your relationships, for your health?
    What are three things you really want — in your career, in your relationships, for your health?

    Not sure? Use my FREE TOOL to find out.

    Oh, and be warned: it doesn’t ask about bathrooms.


    Work-Life Balance: What the Jews can learn from a Monk

    Last February, I was a speaker at the Training Magazine Conference and Exposition, sharing some highlights from “Corporate Universities in the Non-Profit Sector,” a chapter I wrote in a business book (or as my mom put it: “dry”) The Next Generation of Corporate Universities (Mark Allen, ed.) One of the best things about speaking at conferences is that you get to attend the rest of the sessions for free, and I found myself in a session with a captivating speaker, Kenny Moore, former monk and present-day business executive. Talk about bashert — he is the Corporate Ombudsman and Human Resources Director at KeySpan Corporation (now National Grid), where my husband works!

    Anyhow, Kenny, author of The CEO and the Monk” and host of the website wrote a great piece in an email about Work-Life Balance that I am reproducing here, with not just his permission but his blessings (I mean, he was a monk…). BTW: He told me he loves the website!

    So keep reading…

    Work-Life Balance: A Conspiracy of Optimism
    By Kenny Moore

    Work-Life balance is, at best, a fabrication. At worst, a cruel hoax.

    It’s time to stop believing all the hype. As adults, we well understand that it’s never been a question of balance. It’s always been a question of choice. As the Spanish proverb reminds us: “Take what you want, says God, just pay for it.”

    Living with the Consequences

    Sharon Edelstein has a young daughter named Rebecca. Sharon came home from work one day and found her jumping on the bed and told her to stop – she was going to get hurt. “I won’t get hurt” Rebecca said, and continued bouncing. Her mother repeated the warning and added that she might also break the bed. “No, I won’t,” Rebecca insisted. Her mother gave up. “Fine,” she said. “Do what you want. You’ll just have to live with the consequences.” Rebecca immediately stopped bouncing. “I don’t want to go and live with them, Mommy,” she said. “I don’t even know who the Consequences are.”

    As the ancient seers stated so well, we don’t get to do everything in a single lifetime. We merely get to make choices. Not all choices. Only some. And we pay a price for the one’s we choose. Sort of like being at a buffet luncheon without your cardiologist. You can eat anything that’s available; you have only to deal with the aftereffects.

    Growing old gracefully provides more than ample opportunity to get clear about what we consider important and then make our decisions accordingly. In this journey called life, we’re all free to do whatever we want. And like Rebecca, we need only live with the consequences.

    But don’t expect to get balance. What we’ll get is stress: that dynamic tension of trying to creatively live out our lives in a less-than-perfect world. And we’re required to do it all as frail, flawed and frightened mortals.

    Want a high-flying business career? Go for it.
    Might you desire to get married, raise a family and live in conjugal bliss? Good for you.
    Maybe you’d prefer to use your artistic talents and create a world of new possibilities? God bless.
    Perhaps you’d want to be independent and care free? I’m envious.
    But if you expect to have it all, get ready to play center stage in your own exciting Greek Tragedy.

    Finding Help in Unusual Places

    I’ve got a wife who works full time and two teen age boys who are experts at disrupting the status quo. I spend most of my days behind a desk in a corporate job. I haven’t yet found any balance. Mostly, I’ve found chaos. But alas, on a good day, some insight.

    I no longer look to Jack Welch or Oprah Winfrey to give much help in discerning life’s mystery. Rather, I look to the poets. Freud got a few things right and he was certainly on to something when he said: “Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me.”

    Making choices and living out the inherent tension it creates requires a focus on “being” rather than “doing.” The ability to be silent, ponder the deeper possibilities and creatively craft a life-response are aspects of maturity more closely akin to the work of a Poet than a CEO.

    Fostering this poetic outlook requires a personal discipline that may not be to everyone’s liking. For those not yet ready to embrace it but prefer an addiction to cell phones, e-mails and non-stop meetings, e. e. cummings offers some practical words of advice:

    Poetry is being, not doing
    If you would follow,
    Even at a distance,
    The poet’s calling,
    You’ve got to come out of the

    Measurable doing universe
    Into the immeasurable house of being.

    Nobody can be alive for you.
    Nor can you be alive for anyone else.

    If you can take it, take it and be,
    If you can’t, cheer up and go about
    Other people’s business, and do and undo
    Until you drop.

    Wasting Time: a Portal to the Divine

    There’s been a spate of books about Atheism surfacing of late on the New York Time’s Best Seller list, but I don’t think it’s gaining broad acceptance. For most people, it’s not a practical choice. It seems Henny Youngman’s experience continues to hold sway: “I thought about becoming an atheist, but I gave it up. There were no Holidays.”

    The real threat for modern folks is not a lack of belief. It’s a lack of time. We’re so busy being productive and trying to get balance in our lives that we’re in danger of missing the Divine when He shows up.

    Being busy may work wonders for our Professional life, but it wreaks havoc on our Interior one.

    If we want to find some semblance of sanity and advance in our Spiritual Journey, we may need to slow down, risk being less productive and indulge in the ancient rite of “Wasting Time.”

    In my earlier days, I spent 15 years in a monastic community as a Catholic priest. I remember once reading about “The Good Samaritan Experiment” with 40 seminarians at Princeton Theological Seminary. After waxing eloquently about their dedication to God and all His people, they were asked to deliver a sermon on the parable of The Good Samaritan. For those lacking the rigors of monastic studies, it’s the story told by Jesus about a man who was set upon by robbers, beaten and left on the side of the road. A priest walks by and offers no help. Neither does a Levite, another religious leader of the era. It’s a lone man from Samaria, hated by the local gentry, who goes out of his way to offer assistance – hence the title: Good Samaritan.

    In the Princeton experiment, when the seminarians had their homily prepared, they were asked to walk to another part of the campus and deliver their sermon to waiting students. Half were told to hurry, because they were running late. The others were informed there was no rush, they had plenty of time.

    As they journeyed across campus, the experimenters arranged to have an actor slumped as a “victim” strategically positioned along their route so that the seminarians were forced to step over or around the man.

    So, who stopped to help … and who didn’t? They were all budding “men of the cloth” on their way to deliver a sermon on just such a situation.

    What the experiment revealed was that those who were in a hurry passed the “victim” by. Those with time to spare, stopped and helped. It seems altruism and our commitment to our fellow man is less connected to our religious beliefs and more closely aligned with having some free time.

    When the Divine shows up, most of us are busy being too productive to even notice His presence. Maybe God doesn’t care whether we go to church, temple or mosque. Maybe He’s already out in the world waiting to meet us, but we keep passing Him by because we’re in such a hurry.

    Paying a Price for Living our Lives

    Since leaving the monastery, I’d had two near-death experiences. The first was with “incurable” cancer. The second, a heart attack. Both were not-so-subtle reminders that my time’s running short.

    We’re not going to be around forever, and we’re not able to have it all. Acknowledging this will generate more than ample disappointment and regret. And we’ll pay a price for it: Guilt.

    But don’t be dismayed. Guilt doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve done something wrong. It’s more an indication that we have said “no” to some larger authority: parent, teacher, boss. Guilt’s an indication that we’ve chosen to live our own lives and not someone else’s.

    Stop trying to achieve balance and start learning to enjoy chaos. Discovering and relishing one’s imperfect life sooner rather than later is what’s available.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes said that most of us go to our graves with our music still inside. So, forget about work-life balance and let go of the need to please everybody. Rather, get out there and make some choices and let your music resonate.

    The guilt won’t kill you and you’ll do just fine if some folks don’t like you.

    And you certainly don’t need to have it all. For as Steven Wright reminds us: even if you did, where would you put it?

    P.S. If you’re thinking about writing me, give in to the temptation. I love getting mail … and being influenced by what you have to say. Please e-mail me at


    What the Talmud Says About Lasagna

    “A light for one is a light for one hundred.” – Talmud

    As profound as the Talmud is, it doesn’t speak to me as clearly as food does (did I mention I’m Jewish?). When I read this quote, my first instinct was to go long — what profound meaning could we find in being a light unto the masses, how could we lift the darkness for one or one hundred, what unique gifts do you have that you can be sharing with more people…

    And then, lunchtime came. Which meant that the Talmud was clearly talking about lasagna. Not just any lasagna. My husband Michael’s lasagna.

    Michael makes a MEAN lasagna. It’s got all the standard stuff in it — cheeses, spinach, sauce, eggs. It’s got an added twist (a dozen cloves of roasted garlic, which makes for good eating and infrequent kissing on lasagna night). And it probably has some other stuff that I don’t know about, and likely don’t need to know about. In fact, when I suggested the addition of some more spinach the other night, Michael said as respectfully as possible, “could you just let me do it myself???” Hmmm…sort of sounded like one of our 6 year old twins…no, it sounded like someone who knows what he is doing and is saddled with living with a professional coach.

    But I digress…

    If Michael had just made his lasagna for our family’s eating enjoyment, dayenu. It would have been enough. A light (meal) for one (family). But here’s the thing. We invite people over a lot. And Michael makes his lasagna. So for my sister-in-law Rachel, who doesn’t cook, lasagna night at our house is a huge treat. Really. A light for another family. Dayenu. And then we (he) started making an extra pan each time, to give to Rachel. But wait — then Rachel asked if she could come over on Sunday and have Michael teach her how to make the lasagna so she could have it any time she wanted, and cook it for others. Give a girl a lasagna and she eats for a day. But teach her…you get it. A light for many more. Nice. Dayenu.

    But here was where the light shone even brighter: Our good friend Amy’s son is having his Bar Mitzvah next Shabbat, and Amy (having experienced Michael’s culinary magnum opus) commissioned Michael to make several pans of his lasagna for her extended family’s post-simcha celebration! Would we send her the list of ingredients and she would go to the story for us? she suggested. Could she write us a check to cover labor and materials? she offered.

    No way. Michael’s pleasure and honor to be a part of the simcha. From a humble tomato and noodle comes my husband’s light unto a hundred (well, 25+ aunts, uncles and cousins, but you get the gist.)

    Yes, I will resist the urge to go long, except to ask you: what are you currently enjoying that others might enjoy as well? Post here!

    And of course, Es gezunterheyt! (Yiddish for Bon Apetit)


    Do You Know Your Top 3 Goals for 2008?

    Take the free 5 Minute Quiz and download your Free Goals Report!

    Get it here:



    Is an elephant rope keeping you from getting to goal?

    See? I told you there would be more to the elephant story (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my previous post:

    You’ve got a goal, right? And with that goal comes a list of excuses for why you can’t make it happen. Check your list of reasons why not — and I’ll bet you’ll find an elephant rope.

    When baby elephants are brought into the circus, they get a rope tied around their leg to keep them from running away. And it works pretty well (I mean, how many times have you heard on the news that a baby elephant escaped from the circus? Exactly). Now, when that elephant grows up, it can weight between 3 and 6 TONS — one firm yank of the rope, and that elephant is off! Except that the elephant stays put. Why? Because she has learned over time that the rope will keep her from running off. Even though it’s no longer true. Even though she has it within her power to move at will.

    What elephant ropes are keeping you tied down? What excuses do you have, and firmly believe to be true, where a simple reality-test — a firm tug at the rope — would show that the only thing holding you back is an old belief? Who can you test this with? What might be possible for you if it turns out that you are truly stronger, braver, and more able than you originally believed?

    Keep me posted.


    Do You Know Your Top 3 Goals for 2008?

    Take the free 5 Minute Quiz and download your Free Goals Report!

    Get it here:

    Who is on your Personal Board of Directors?

    “Ask your team; they know the answer.” — Chuck Carlson

    That’s great advice — if you have a team. And I’ll bet you do…you just might not have thought about it that way. I think of my team as my Personal Board of Directors.

    Non-profit corporation law states that the Board of Directors has three primary duties: Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, and Duty of Obedience.

    Duty of Care: A board member has the duty to exercise reasonable care when he or she makes a decision for the organization. Reasonable care is what an “ordinarily prudent” person in a similar situation would do.

    In your personal life, who would you trust to make good decisions with you, or even for you, if need be? Who would regard your well-being as highly as her or his own? Is it mutual?

    Duty of Loyalty: A board member must always act in the best interests of the organization, and never use information gained through his/her position for personal gain.

    In your personal life, who acts in your best interest? Who is loyal to you in your absence? Who’s got your back?

    Duty of Obedience: A board member must act in a way that is consistent and aligned with the goals of the organization, and be faithful to its mission. The board member is also trusted with fiduciary management aimed at fulfilling the organization’s mission.

    In your personal life, who suppports you in developing in your own unique direction? Who gives you room to grow and well as acts as a touchstone for your core personal values? Who would call you on your BS — or step if if he or she saw you going down a path that might take you away from yourself? And who would you trust with your most personal information — health decisions, financial data, etc.?

    Take a few minutes to think about it. Who is on your Personal Board of Directors? Why? And have you told them?

    I guess there’s nothing wrong with blogging for board recruitment, right?

    Hey, Wendy…can I officially recruit you to my Personal Board of Directors?


    Goals Interrupted: Notes from a Funeral

    Despite the fact that I had a to-do list a mile-long today, my day was disrupted by a funeral. The brother of a friend, young guy, 3 kids, heart attack – never saw it coming. And the fact that my work day was interrupted by an event I didn’t and couldn’t plan for clearly paled in comparison to a life interrupted. Lives interrupted. Changed forever.

    I paid a shiva call this evening, and found myself talking with the eldest daughter of the man who passed away. Despite the fact that it is a small world — and an even smaller Jewish world — we were suprised to find that we had attended the same High School, Stuyvesant, and even the same Junior High, Robert F. Wagner — 10 years apart. New York is not that small — and it felt bashert to have something to talk about that would provide a welcome distraction.

    As we mused about teachers we shared, I started to remember the plans I had made for myself so many years ago. I was going to be a doctor (and not just to make my mom kvell). I was a serious science student, a decorated science fair champion, and had an addiction to Trapper John M.D. reruns that set the course for later med-head addictions to E.R. (during the Clooney years only), Grey’s Anatomy, and even Scrubs. I followed those plans up through my freshman pre-med year of college, when I realized that organic chem might only be foreshadowing for future academic horrors to come.

    I had had lots of plans, and of all the plans that I made, only one concrete youthful plan actually came to fruition — being a mom. And I can honestly say that I don’t look back on any of the plans that I made and then changed, interrupted or ignored with regret. I do know that the one plan I actually fulfilled is the one that has defined my life the most.

    We never, ever know when we will run out of time to fulfill our plans, our dreams, our goals. What goal have you achieved that most defines who you are? What else do you want to achieve? What are you waiting for?

    And how can I help?

    Take the free 5 Minute Quiz and download your Free Goals Report!
    Get it here:

    Get Moving on those Goals by Eating Elephant Steaks

    Few things stop us as much as the start.

    Face it: you can set all the goals in the world, but actually taking the first step towards achieving it can be the biggest hurdle of all. Often the goals we set are difficult, complex, or ask us to make tough choices. So we don’t even start.

    Here’s a piece of advice that has helped me, and many of my clients, get started on goal attainment: Think of elephants.

    Of course…elephants! Elephants??? What about ‘em?

    Here’s Elephant Tip #1: Eat elephant steaks. It’s nothing new, and it’s based on the old, old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time!”

    I know, I know…not kosher…(the joke OR the elephant).

    Think of the goal as an elephant, and then cut that elephant into steaks. Steaks that are substantial enough to be noticed on your plate, but not so big that they choke, stuff or scare you. Then cut that steak into bite-size pieces, and eat one at a time.

    Try this approach:

    Goal #1: ____________________________________________________________

    Elephant Steak 1:______________________________________

      • Bite 1:_______________________________________________________
      • Bite 2:_______________________________________________________


      • Bite 3:_______________________________________________________

    Elephant Steak 2:______________________________________

      • Bite 1:_______________________________________________________
      • Bite 2:_______________________________________________________


      • Bite 3:_______________________________________________________


    Elephant Steak 3:_____________________________________

      • Bite 1:_______________________________________________________
      • Bite 2:_______________________________________________________


      • Bite 3:_______________________________________________________

    …and so on.

    Having trouble cutting your elephant into steaks, or your steaks into bites? Ask a friend, family member or someone you trust to help you cut your meat. Just like in the old days!

    Wondering what Elephant Tip#2 is? Stay tuned…


    “Deb has been a respected speaker and facilitator for a number of our JCC conferences over the past few years. While I've heard about her energy, hard work in preparing, and meaningful content, it took her recent keynote speech at our annual JCCs of North America Professional Conference to make me realize what an incredible asset she is. Watching her present a content-filled, energetic, and personalized session -- without using any notes -- was very impressive. Deb is a multi-talented, serious, and impactful presenter."

    – Allan Finkelstein, Past President and CEO, JCC Association of North America

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