Who Cares “What Will They Think?”


The #1 refrain I hear from people who come to me seeking to build-up their confidence is, “I’m afraid of what people will say / think of me.”


So much time, so much energy is spent worrying about “them.”


And certainly I get it – I’ve wasted so much time worrying and I’ve silenced myself on way too many occasions out of concern and fear.


Recently I came across an item on the Huffington Post that caught my eye. It’s short and so I’m reprinting it here.


As you read this, imagine (if you can) that you’re Ryan Gosling!


Nicholas Sparks Says No One Wanted To Play Noah In ‘The Notebook’


No one likes Noah. At least, according to author Nicholas Sparks, no one wanted to play the part of “Noah” in the screen version of “The Notebook.”


During a conversation with IMDb Asks on Wednesday, Sparks revealed the difficulties he had casting the famously romantic leading role.


“It was really interesting because a lot of the actors said, “Well, what’s Noah’s arc?” Sparks said. “It’s a guy who falls in love and then he just kinda does nothing, and then waits for her to show up and then he’s there and he’s still in love and then at the end of the film, well, he’s still in love. Where’s the arc? Ryan Gosling came in and he really brought that story to life.”


Gosling managed to bring the story to life, but he apparently landed the part because he wasn’t considered traditionally handsome by Hollywood standards and the film’s director.


“[Director] Nick Cassavetes called me to meet him at his house. When I got there, he was standing in his backyard, and he looked at me and said, “I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts,’” Gosling told Company magazine in 2011.


Definitely the kind of stuff that boosts your self-esteem, right?


I think it’s fair to say that Gosling’s life would be radically different today had he worried about “what will they think?”


Certainly gives me something to think about!

What about you?


Do you want to learn how to confidently live your life without worrying about what “THEY” will think?


To explore how life-skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me






How People Can Drive Each Other Nuts!


The first duty of love is to listen.




Last week a couple met with me to explore communications coaching. Cathy (names changed) admitted she didn’t feel a need for coaching – it was her partner Jack’s idea to meet with me.


Cathy claimed everything’s good in how they talk – though at times, she said, she “might” be a bit too passive in their arguments – especially when he becomes “his usual pigheaded” self!


Hmm. . .


Jack readily admitted he’s competitive and enjoys arguing even when he knows he’s wrong. This is true even with Cathy.


I asked if she enjoyed arguing with him when he was in the “zone.”


She didn’t. In fact, she hated it.


But, she said it didn’t matter as she just shuts down and lets him have his way.


Jack jumped in, saying that he hated it when she shut down.


I asked if he heard why she shuts down.  Yes, but. . .


“Then why do you do it?” Cathy demanded.

“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I don’t want to argue. All I want is to get what I want,” Cathy matter-of-factly explained.


“There, that’s the kind of attitude I don’t like. I feel like she’s disrespecting me,” said Jack.


“She doesn’t take what I say seriously. I explain things logically to her. I give her the reasons why we need to do something a certain way and she ignores everything I say.”


“Is that true?” I asked Cathy.  “Do you ignore Jack? Do you intend to disrespect him?”


Cathy was blunt in her response, “I know what he’s going to say – I just don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to know the reasons why I can’t have something when I feel I should have it. The problem is he thinks with his head and I think with my heart. He doesn’t respect me when he doesn’t listen to why I want something.”


Exasperated, Jack, tossed out, “She doesn’t have any reasons for anything. All she has are just feelings.”


Let me freeze frame here – does any of this sound familiar?


I want to point out that Jack and Cathy were very polite in the way they spoke to each other – this wasn’t a shouting match. However, they clearly felt frustrated.


Let me try to distill an hour and a half conversation into some manageable thoughts.


Studies show that the most successful relationships are the ones where the couple is similar enough that they comfortingly compliment each other and different enough that they invitingly challenge each other.


This is certainly true with Cathy and Jack.


By dint of personality and profession (engineer) Jack values logic.

Cathy is a person, by dint of personality and profession (sales), who values feelings.


He spots specifics and she stares at the panorama.


He thinks logic is going to win the day because that is how logic is supposed to work.


However, as soon as she begins to feel that he’s clobbering her with facts, she shuts down.  “What’s the use?  He’s not interested in what I have to say” is her mantra.


And he becomes frustrated when he sees her give up. He wants her to fight for her ideas. He’s a competitor and that’s what competitors do!

They’ve created dance steps, patterns, rituals for arguing and those steps are now like the air they breathe.


They presume, “well, that’s just the way we are.”


Hmm––not exactly.


I asked Jack, “when you’re in an argument, do you notice that she’s becoming more passive?” 


“Then, why do you persist?” 

“I want her to see it my way.” 

“Does she ever come out of her passive state and say, ‘you’re right—I wasn’t thinking straight.’” 


“Never? Then why do you persist?”


And I asked Cathy, “in an argument, what’s your goal?” 

“To get what I want.” 

“And how do you do that?” 

“I plead and then when I get frustrated, I just ask, ‘what do I have to do to get X?” 

“And do you ask in a pleasant tone of voice or do you have attitude?” 


Smiles all around.


“Do you pout; cross your arms, and make it sound like a demand if not an ultimatum?”


She actually looked shocked that I knew!


80% of what we respond to in a conversation is not what is said, but how it is said. 


She tuned him out when he started to lecture.


He tuned her out when she started to pout.


No one likes a know-it-all and no one likes a whiner.


So, what to do? 


It’s not possible to magically change personality. Nor is there any reason to do so.


Choices can be made in how to communicate.


Cathy needs to understand that “because it feels good” is not a reason that is going to advance her cause.  How do you respond to a “reason” like that?


Jack needs to understand that people don’t always make decisions based on what is most logical.


He needs to help Cathy explore her feelings so as to help her understand what she is thinking.

And, she needs to help Jack explore his thoughts so as to help him understand what he’s feeling.


They each need to help the other understand what it is they individually want and explain why they want what they want. 


Together, they need to want to find new ways of having conversations.


And that’s what I’m going to help them do in our future coaching sessions!



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:



12 Most Enduring Life Lessons Gained While Living Unplugged on a South Pacific Island


When I was seven years old I spent four months in the hospital for a heart condition. I got through the ordeal, in part, because an old, reclusive neighbor dropped off three shopping bags of National Geographic magazines.


I devoured stories of exotic locales and vowed that someday I’d have my own Nat Geo experience.


In my senior year of college I was offered the opportunity to teach at Xavier High School on the Pacific island of Weno in the Chuuk Lagoon (part of the Federated States of Micronesia).


I was fortunate to have lived there when life was still unplugged and a trusty portable typewriter was my “tablet.” Today, my home office is a veritable Apple outlet, but the three years I lived in Chuuk was life changing.


Here are the 12 most enduring lessons I learned from that adventure and that have guided my life ever since.



Be in the moment

Imagine being in a meeting with colleagues and no one looks down at a smart phone.  The ability to focus on what is happening in the present is startling.


Offer only your best to others

Whenever I visited, people welcomed me by sharing freely – food, beverage and laughter. By the time I left to return to the States, TV had arrived in the islands. On my last night, I visited the home of my student Salvelo. His family had one of the first TV sets. It was sitting atop a table at the far end of the main room. Everyone was stretched out on mats watching. Salvelo’s mother gave me her mat, so I’d have the best view. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life. Yet, typical of true hospitality – unhesitating giving.


Story begets story

Because there was no TV at the school, we entertained ourselves. At night, I’d go to the back of campus where students would light a fire, lop off some coconuts and we’d sit around telling stories. My grandmother had been a prison guard in NYC for thirty-five years and so I could match any of their shark attack yarns!


All people share three things in common

GiGi, a Filipina who left home for political reasons, had a personal story of love, pain and loss that was poignant and harrowing. She once told me that every person loves someone, has lost someone or something precious and is afraid of something.  Wonderfully dramatic, but I’ve yet to meet the person for whom this isn’t true.


You can’t run away from pain

Sue volunteered to teach in the Science Department because she was fed-up with life in Los Angeles where men ignored all 375-pounds of her. What she didn’t know is that in Chuuk, big women are considered beautiful. Sue lasted three months, as she couldn’t handle the lavish attention. She returned to LA without having made peace with herself.


Carpe Diem

When the job was offered to me, I had no idea where I was going. And that’s what I loved – the adventure of it all. My comfort zone was shattered. Being uncomfortable allowed the world to never be the same for me. Seize the day – and not just a day-planner app!


There’s more to life than meets the eye

My first night at the school the generator was turned off at 10:00 P.M. and the campus was dropped into an inky black, unnerving silence. Norman and Taka, two of the teachers, took me up to the roof where I became dizzy from what I saw. As a boy from the Bronx, no one ever explained how the night sky is exploding with stars. And every day for the next three years I learned that there is just so much more to the world than I could ever take in.


The pen is mightier than the text

Marshall McLuhan famously claimed, “The message is the medium.”  But it’s equally true that the medium dictates the message. Having no laptop, I could only write letters. With pen in hand I reflect and compose differently from when I’m dashing off an email or a scrunched text. Being a multi-tech user allows me to experience a variety of thinking.


Grit has no expiration date

Francoise was a seventy-five-year-old “broad” who wanted an adventure. And so she replaced Sue as head of the Science Department. She was game for anything – including a role in my production of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.” She was the first character to be bumped-off and she died with aplomb. Generosity of spirit is ageless.


Resourcefulness animates learning

I was assigned to teach literature, but was given no syllabus and few textbooks. Since I’d never taken an education course in college, I simply recalled all the teachers who I didn’t like and then did the opposite. I trusted my imagination, created a curriculum, made a ton of mistakes and along the way educated my students to appreciate the power of the written word. The power of their imaginations. The power that comes from thinking.


Manhattan is not the center of the universe

For all my enthusiasm and good will, I really wasn’t aware of the breadth of cross-cultural differences I’d encounter.  “Be you” translates differently in a communal-based culture that puts a premium on “we” as opposed to the fast-talking, every person for him/her self world of NYC. I had to learn how to be a guest – and to see the world from a different perspective.


We are who we believe ourselves to be

I taught poetry to the frosh. At end of term, I put together a collection of their work and called it, “AH!” That summer, an Australian anthropologist stayed with the family of Bellarmine, one of mine students. On her first night with them Belarmine asked the anthropologist, “Would you like me to read some poems I’ve written. I’m a poet.” She was amused that he called himself a “poet” – until he began reading his poems and she realized he was a poet! Months later, she told me that her evening with “Bellarmine the poet” was pure magic. And so it is that we become who we say we are.


Although this journey took place years ago, the gifts of that unplugged life anchor me today in my oh-so-plugged-in world.


The enduring gift of Chuuk is simply this:

It is the quality of our daily life that matters most.

With or without technology, each of us is the creator of that quality.



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?


To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:



The 1 Thing You Need To Remember About Being Confident


It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

Brother David Steindl-Rast



Last month I was in in San Francisco to catch the performance of my friend Anthony in the riotously funny play “Speakeasy.”


I was early and so popped into one of Little Italy’s many cafes. I was jotting down ideas when a man walked in and went over to the owner. Because I was sitting close by I could overhear their remarkable exchange.


The man said,

I’ve not been back here in seven years but seven years ago I needed a cup of coffee. I was eleven cents short. You told me not to worry and you gave me the coffee. I never properly thanked you but I’ve never forgotten you.




This guy stunned (and I think confused) the owner. He certainly blew me away.


A week later I received a surprise via LinkedIn. I had a message from Emanuela, a UCLA Extension student from nine years ago. She thanked me for helping her learn how to set boundaries and be more confident in expressing her needs and viewpoints.


The class helped her change the way she does business and she wanted me to know that she hasn’t forgotten me. Once again I was blown away!


Emanuela and café guy reminded me that a confident person knows, remembers and acknowledges those who help them.


There can be no confidence without gratitude.


Consider this:

Denise (a former client) told me that she is hurt because Marie hasn’t thanked her for all the strategic help she’s given her at work. Denise is a colleague of Marie’s and feels taken advantage of.


Marie happens to be a current client of mine and she is struggling with what she wants to do with her career. At the core of that struggle are her flimsy and wavering feelings of self-confidence.


Marie wants to move into an executive position because she wants to feel valued and relevant.


However, she’s unable to recognize the gifts and talents she’s developed over an impressive career and so is unable to give thanks for those strengths.


Her personal lack of gratitude is crippling her confidence – and preventing her from being a gracious colleague.


Here’s the great truth – confident people know how to value others.

They know how to show appreciation.


In addition, they are willing to do the challenging work of shining a private light of recognition on their own particular talents and gifts.


Confident people are willing to answer the question, “What are my strengths?”


Not just skills but the strengths that undergird those skills.


Gratitude lets them own their powers and from the gratitude comes the confidence to put those powers to good use.


One final illustration (for why I am fixated this month on gratitude):


Last Saturday I officiated a wedding where Nick, the groom, had big tears streaming down his face as he offered his personal vows to Teresa, his bride.

I seldom see a man cry in public this way and, of course, the cliché is that a crying man is a weak man. But that wasn’t so with Nick.


There was strength to his tears because they flowed with gratitude for the love of this woman.


I have no doubt that Nick’s gratitude let him offer his vows from a place of confidence, loving what he knows of Teresa and trusting what he does not yet know.


A mindful “thank you” is the glue of all relationships – with self and others.


Gratitude is one of the hallmarks of a confident person.


You know you are in the presence of confidence when you hear an emphatic, clear-eyed, strong-voiced “thank you!”


The question I leave you with is –


Who can you thank you this day?

This week?

This month?


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?


To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at: