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    Executive Speaker

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    Notes from a Strategic Planning Session

    Ah…back on the road again after being home for the entire month of October (thanks, Jewish holidays!)

    As I was facilitating a strategic planning session for a

    Group Facilitation

    20 Great Group Program Questions

    Copyright 2008 – Jennifer Britton | Potentials Realized

    A couple of weeks ago during the Group Coaching Essentials program I was asked for some quick questions anyone could use during a group program. I came up with the following list and wanted to share it with you:


    20 Great Group Questions:

    Starters/Warm up:

    1. What’s your hope for today’s session? What’s your fear? What’s your fantasy?
    2. What do you want to take away from today’s session?
    3. What is your intention for the day?
    4. What will you commit to bringing to the group?
    5. What role do you want to in the group?
    6. What is your unique gift which you bring to the group?
    7. On a scale of 0-10 how engaged will be with the process?
    8. What risk will you take today?
    9. What is one action you can take today to stretch your comfort zone?

    Checking in along the way

    1. What’s been your biggest ah-ha so far?

    2. What will turn up the volume on your learning?

    3. What is one thing that you can do in the next hour/day/session that will stretch your comfort zones?

    4. What has shifted for you since we started?

    Action Planning:

    1. What’s going to make that exciting for you? OR

    2.On a scale of 1-10 how exciting is that for you?

    3. On a scale of 1-10 how committed are you to it?

    4. What action can you take to make this happen?

    5. What do you need to commit to?

    6. What do you need to say yes to? What do you need to say no to?

    So my daughter Sophie doesn’t believe in G-d…

    Or, at least, that’s what she said when her twin brother Jacob said that he does. Which means I have no way of knowing if she doesn’t believe, or if she is continuing yet another year’s resolution of doing and saying the opposite of Jacob.

    Whether or not she was trying to get a rise out of me — or raise some genuine questions — I shared a thought with her about a fundamental difference between Christianity and Judaism that I had learned from a JTS professor who spoke at my shul last year (and as soon as I can remember who it is, I will let you know). He explained that Christianity is a religion of beliefs — you must buy in to the whole megillah (not their word for it, of course), and failure to believe is sinful. Judaism, on the other hand, is a religion of behaviors — you are judged on what you DO more than what you believe. Not believing in G-d doesn’t absolve you from treating others with dignity and respect, or from engaging in the mitzvot. Being Jewish is about doing.

    Do I care what she believes as Jew? Honestly, yes, I do. But that’s because I’m her mom. But what the rest of the world will see about Sophie is how she behaves: respecting others, speaking kindly, sharing her gifts. That’s what being a Jew is about.


    Leadership is about what you DO!

    “Leadership is action, not position.” — Donald H. McGannon, Former CEO, Westinghouse Broadcast Corporation

    Whether you are the board president, the rabbi, rosh yeshiva, CEO — or hold any title that makes people site up and take notice, remember what people really want and need from you — your commitment to roll up your sleeves and participate in a meaningful way.

    I believe that most of us have two fundamental needs, regardless of our role in the organization — the need to benefit and the need to contribute. In fact, when I teach sessions on running effective meetings, those are the two criteria for determining who should attend a meeting. If a meeting participant will neither benefit from nor contribute to a meeting, then give them back their time to do something more useful than sit in on a meeting! Trust me — he or she will thank you for it, and your meeting participants will appreciate a leaner, more focused meeting process.

    Those in Jewish organizational leadership positions often benefit from title, position, status, connections, and paycheck for those in paid positions (and yes, I see you — the one eye-rolling about the idea of benefiting from a Jewish organizational paycheck. But I won’t let you distract me!).

    Here’s the question: does your level of contribution — decisions made, problems solved, resources developed — meet or exceed the benefits you receive from your position? How would your lay or professional counterparts and direct reports answer that if asked about you?

    If you’re not sure, are you willing to ask? If you’re willing to ask, who will you start with? If you’re not willing, why?

    In the words of writer Elbert Hubbard, “Don’t make excuses. Make good.”

    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!!!


    How to Become a Feedback Magnet (Video)

    Feedback concept with hand pressing a button“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

    Elon Musk

    “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”

    Albert Einstein

    Question to Sheryl Sandberg: “What’s the number one thing you look for in someone who can scale with a company?”

    Her answer:

    “Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.”

    The ability to give feedback is a critical skill for leaders and teams, and plenty of us have received training and coaching on how to do exactly that. The ability to receive feedback is an equally important skill, and yet very few of us have learned how to do that without:

    • Defensiveness (“That’s just not true!”)
    • Dismissal (“Who are YOU to tell me that?”)
    • Distain (“Ugh. I don’t want to hear this.”)
    • Distortion (“This must mean I am a horrible person.”)
    • Discounting (“It’s no big deal.”)

    Why does this matter? Because studies show that feedback seekers experience greater job satisfaction, lower turnover, adapt faster in a new organization or new role, demonstrate greater creativity on the job, and have higher performance ratings, especially if they seek out NEGATIVE feedback.

    Who wouldn’t want that?

    In my recent Harvard Business Review Facebook Live presentation on “How to Give and Receive Feedback”, I share user-friendly tips, tools and techniques for how to make feedback (both giving and receiving) less stressful and more successful. More than 84,500 viewers worldwide have watched this in the past few weeks – and have sent me their feedback – and I invite you to do so, too. Email me to

    HBR Live: Giving & Receiving Feedback

    I partnered with Harvard Business Review for Live presentation on giving and receiving feedback effectively.

    Play the video to learn about:

    • The benefits and challenges of giving feedback
    • How to know when it’s the right time to give feedback
    • Debunking the infamous “feedback sandwich”
    • The 5 elements of a feedback conversation
    • How to receive feedback

    I also answered live audience questions, including how to soften the potential sting of constructive feedback.

    Your Personal Invitation is Inside: Harvard Business Review, Facebook, and YOU!


    The man who can’t accept criticism can’t become great. – Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav 

    • Does giving feedback make you sweat?
    • Does getting feedback make you sweat even more?
    • Does your organization give feedback only during annual performance reviews?
    • Would your professionals rather eat a bug than give lay leaders direct feedback – and
      vice versa?
    • Does your culture feel too “nice” for negative feedback?

    If any of these sounds like you, you’re invited to get some new skills, perspectives and confidence around giving and receiving feedback.

    Please join me and Harvard Business Review for “How to Give and Receive Effective Feedback,” a 30-minute Facebook Live event beginning at 10 am EST on Thursday, December 15th.  I’ll be sharing my top tips, tools and techniques, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and get some direction and support.

    Click here to visit Harvard Business Review’s Facebook page to join me. 

    Click here to add this complimentary event to your calendar.

    The Swastika at My Kids’ School

    Last Friday afternoon, I received an email from my kids’ school informing parents that a swastika had been discovered on the wall of the faculty bathroom.
    I felt:
    …and that was just the beginning.

    I also felt:
    Inspired…that my family and I could talk about the impact of this honestly and openly
    Relieved…that nobody was physically hurt
    Hopeful…that the school administration would take aggressive measures to find the culprit
    Compassionate…towards others who are also feeling threatened or unsafe
    Touched…at how many friends and family members reached out to us
    Open…to how others experienced this incident
    Energized…to give more tzedakah to causes that protect the vulnerable
    Protective…of my family and community
    Proud…to be a Jew

    A Ladino Proverb reminds us: “Who is blind? Who declines to see light.” And while there is no part of me that believes that a swastika at school is, in any way, positive or productive, there is a part of me that can simultaneously see the positivity and productivity that can result from such a terrible blow.

    I am committed to bringing more positivity and productivity to the world, and I am eager to start now. Please read and share this complimentary chapter, How to Create Positivity at Work from my Little Book of Big Ideas for Jewish Professionals.

    To Your Success without the Tsuris,

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    “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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