Are You Reading This Because You’re Procrastinating Doing Something Else?!


On the UCLA campus during finals week, I saw a student of mine stretched out on the grass under a tree, looking up at the leaves. I stopped near my student and looked down. “Donald! What’s up?” Without moving a lick, he looked over at me. “I’m creating the now,” he said.

Carolyn See



This post is about the “now” I’m creating. . .


Later in June I’m slated to begin teaching at UCLA Extension my eleven-week “Dynamics of Interpersonal Communications” course.



I’ve never taught a class online.



Some of you who read this blog have taken the course. You know that it’s highly “interpersonal” and interactive. And so, you might not be surprised to read that I feel intimidated by the task at hand!


I hadn’t intended on writing about this. I had another idea for the post. BUT I kept coming back to this notion of me being a fraud!

My website is called The Business of Confidence. On a regular schedule I toss out advice on how to be confident when speaking or engaging in difficult conversations. And now, here I am, struggling to find the confidence to do something seemingly “simple” – teach an online course!


Yes – I feel like a fraud. At least of sorts.


I’ve procrastinated for weeks in doing the prep work the school has asked of me. In fact, writing this post is part of that procrastination!


Why have I procrastinated?


Well, the answer both surprises – and – embarrasses me. That’s why I’ll share it with you.


  • I’m afraid of failing.
  • I’m afraid the online course won’t be “perfect” (not that I think the in-class course is “perfect” in all respects).
  • I’m afraid I’ll mishandle the technology and look like an idiot to the participants.
  • I’m afraid the school will finally realize I’m incompetent and not renew my contract.
  • I’m afraid if I don’t master the technology I’ll miss out on opportunities.
  • I’m afraid of failing.


My fears have created a mindset – and my mindset has created my fears.


Although I know these fears are illogical and irrational, I am seduced by them. The more I feed these fears the more of a stranglehold they gain. The result is – I procrastinate. Like many of you, I trick myself into thinking that if I put off the hard work, then my fears won’t come to reality. It is all magical thinking!


Okay. So maybe I’m not a fraud. Maybe I’m simply like many of you – a person who easily veers toward seeing the pitfalls of a new situation and not the opportunities – someone who buys into a form of catastrophic thinking and becomes paralyzed with worry and irrational fear.


Maybe it’s because I’ve coached so many on how to be and live confidently that I’m stunned that truly old habits die hard and so, too, old fears.


I’ve been humbled by this experience (which is just beginning) because I’m reminded that confidence is not a state that, once attained, is permanent.


Confidence is a way of feeling, thinking, living that is ever ongoing.


There is no confidence without honesty and without honoring feelings, even those generated by irrational thinking that make me feel anxious and uncomfortable.


Confidence is grounded in a state of heightened awareness and being reconciled to the truth that confidence is a decision to act in a way that goes against the worst-case scenario.


I’ve written about this before and here need to remind myself that pursuing “excellence” means consistently asking the questions that challenge my crippling way of thinking:

  • What am I telling myself?
  • What feelings are those thoughts generating?
  • Are those feelings energizing me or draining me?
  • If draining me, then how can I go about doing the task differently so as to be more efficient and productive?
  • Is there anything I should be doing that I’m not doing because I’m afraid to do it?


THE question is –

if I didn’t believe the lies, and the fears had no power over me, who would I be and what could I do?


Confidence is driven by the pursuit of excellence – not the pursuit of perfection.


Perfection is rigid and unchanging.

Excellence is fluid and adaptable.


Excellence incites creativity and allows me to take risks in exploring opportunities and unanticipated possibilities.


What matters isn’t that we attain perfection,

but that again and again, with humility and faith, we reach.

Cheryl Strayed


I decided to “come clean” this week in the hope that if today you find yourself procrastinating know that there is a “simple” reason for it all – choose to move through the lies you’re telling yourself – do what you know you must do!


I’ll leave you (and me) with the stark yet encouraging words of motivational guru Wayne Dwyer:


You’ve never done it before, and if you expect yourself to do it the first time with the finesse of someone doing it for the 1000th time, you’ll be in trouble. When you start a first creative project or begin the study of an art or craft, what I want you to do is lower your standards until they disappear. That’s right. You’re not supposed to be good at the beginning.

Practice Makes – Better!


Fall seven times. Stand up eight.

Japanese proverb



People often ask me what they need to do in order to become a more effective communicator.


The answer is simple –

Every day you commit to consciously and determinedly practice doing something differently! 


The following are reflections from two clients (names changed) that give you a sense of what can happen through focus and determination.



I’ve been working to stop myself from getting intimidated when attacked at work. In the past, when my boss would start talking over or interrupting me, I would wait until he was done and restart what I was saying. (I was raised in a household where it was very rude to interrupt.) Now, I keep talking. I stand my ground. He doesn’t always hear me right away, but he interrupts and talks over me much less.


I also have been asking myself why my boss acts the way he does. For example, last week when he threatened the loss of jobs if results didn’t improve, I asked myself, “What is his goal with this conversation?”


From my perspective, I felt like he was being a bully. After doing perception checking, I thought he might be trying to motivate us. I responded by saying that when people threaten my job, it does the exact opposite of motivating me.


Instead of just getting angry that he was attacking the team, I was able to voice my feelings and affect how he will try to motivate us in the future.


Once he realized that his tactic, rather than the message (results need to improve) was the issue, he changed.



I’ve started to practice better listening in my 1-on-1 conversations with: my Boss, my Direct Reports and my wife.

I’m a very impatient person and get annoyed quickly and as a result I react without thinking things through.

Often times this gets me in trouble. I realize that if I could be more patient and listen to what the other person is saying I wouldn’t react in such a negative way.

I’m consciously forcing myself to be more ‘passive’ in sessions and go prepared to more intently listen and take notes during or right after meetings. I use the notes for my follow-up communication, especially in email.  This helps me pay more attention to things that I would generally ignore.

This technique is definitely making me effective in my communication with my direct reports as it’s helped me increase their trust level.

Even my wife has noticed the difference!


During this time of quarantine I invite you to consider:

  • What have you noticed about YOU that you hadn’t been aware of before?
  • Do you like what you’re noticing?
  • If so then mindfully practice doing this on a daily basis.
  • Don’t like what you’re noticing?
  • What would you like to see yourself doing instead?
  • What small step(s) can you regularly practice that will lead to this new behavior becoming a habit?



Want to become an effective communicator? 

Commit to practice doing something differently – daily!


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:

  [email protected]


“Why Can’t People Act Like Adults?” Duh!


Courage is not the absence of fear,

but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.

Ambrose Redmoon



Two weeks ago I guest zoomed with a class of twenty-four Loyola-Marymount students. They are all communication studies majors and their instructor invited me to talk on what’s needed to thrive in the workplace.


Although I enjoy talking with undergrads this time I felt challenged. We’re in the midst of a surreal pandemic and really, what do any of us know?!


Although your undergrad days, like mine, are over, I thought I’d share with you something of what I told them.


I told them that someday, when the pandemic is “over,” much will have changed in the way we go about our lives and our business. And much will stay the same. I was reminded of this about

a month ago when the head of a private high school reached out to me for help.


Sarah and Gail, the directors of two of the school’s most important public-fronting departments, were not getting along. The friction had started way before the pandemic and was escalating during this work-from-home time.

I interviewed them separately and at the end of the conversations each asked me, “Why can’t people just act like adults and do their job?”


Love it! Of course, part of me wanted to ask in return, “why can’t I just win the lottery?!”


I got to thinking – what does it mean to “act like an adult?”

When I wasn’t binge-watching Netflix I grabbed pen and paper and jotted down what people look like when they “act like adults.”


Unlike a child, an adult,

  • Knows a shadow from a real threat
  • Can speak on their own behalf
  • Doesn’t play people off each other
  • Makes informed choices even when uncomfortable
  • Can tell interpretation from fact
  • Resists lies
  • Confidently makes mistakes
  • Knows why and how they’re biased
  • Can appreciate a story
  • Listens generously
  • Is curious how they can help
  • Is willing and able to engage in difficult conversations
  • Has conviction
  • Manages emotions
  • Sustains relationships
  • Knows how to get needs healthily met
  • Knows how to change a diaper (!)


Okay, I know. . .you’re thinking this list does NOT describe so many of the adults you know! Hey, it’s a fast and furious and rather arbitrary list. AND it serves to answer the question, “Why can’t people show up to work and act like adults?” IT’S HARD – that’s why!


There’s more.

Laced through all these traits is the most important trait of all.

An adult can navigate FEAR. An adult exercises emotional courage.


Perhaps I was influenced to select this “adult” can-do trait because we breathe pandemic-related fears twenty-four hours a day. However, since the pandemic roared forth, I’ve had conversations with at least half-a-dozen people, each of whom is each wrestling with fear not pandemic related.


Margaret works for LA County. She has a new boss and new protocols have been put in place for doing her job. She hates the change. She hates her job. And, yeah, she hates her boss. She pouts. She isolates. She plays helpless victim and is subconsciously sabotaging herself. She asked me what she should do.


Simple. She needs to self-advocate. Take responsibility for her career. Begin to plan for a job change. Treat colleagues like colleagues and stop destructive behavior.


After telling her this she became quiet. When I asked what she was thinking, she said, “That’s hard to do. I don’t know if I can do all that.” I asked why she thought she couldn’t do what I suggested. “It’s not fair that I have to change. What if I can’t?”


She had hypnotized herself with the fear of “What if?”


Randy shared that he wasn’t happy with how he delivered a performance review to one of his direct reports. He realized later that he had been a “bit” snarky in some of his comments. I asked what he wanted to do. He said he needed to apologize. And then he sighed. He looked at me and bemoaned, “This is hard to do. I don’t want to look weak.”


He feared being decent would be interpreted as weakness.


Jason came to me because he wanted help improving his public speaking skills. He was already an engaging, smart speaker so I wasn’t sure want he wanted to work on. After taking me on rambling musings about his speaking shortcomings, he owned up to having a crippling sense of being a fraud and that stymied him from engaging clients in the tough conversations he needed to have.


Fearing he was an imposter caused him to censure himself and not say what he knew he had to say.


And those two high school directors? Sarah and Gail were caught-up in a web of power struggles. Each was afraid – of losing power, of not being given credit for what they accomplished, of having the other one receive more validation from the head of school. Ultimately, each was afraid of not being recognized.


I’ve been startled with these and other conversations as I naively thought pandemic fears would trounce all other fears!


And so here’s what I’ve relearned –


There is fear in the midst of a pandemic.

There will be fear when the pandemic recedes.

There will always be fear.

We will never not deal with fear – from events of our own making as well as outside our creating.


Those LMU students wanted to know how to thrive in the workplace. Sarah and Gail wanted to know why people in the workplace can’t act like adults. Well, the abiding truth is that our lives are defined by how we deal with fear.


Each of the people I spoke with, in a moment of quiet, knew what they had to do. In that moment of quiet, each was challenged with an invitation – to choose authenticity or to choose self-deception.


No choice is final.


Not everyone I spoke with chose authenticity.

Change is hard especially when that change means being kind to one self. (That’s another article!)


For now, though, I’d ask you to consider:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • How real is that fear?
  • Is it what you’re really afraid of?
  • What do you really want?


And, hey, can I help you break through that fear?!


When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Mr. Rogers


Do you want to break through the fear-based 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:

  [email protected]



Being Willing To Live In the “Now”


I pursue now-ness. That’s what I do.

Wang Deshun, 80-year-old fashion runway model




In these days of quarantine I’ve been re-reading past articles and blog posts as I’m mulling a book (more like mulling that someday I’ll be mulling a book!). Reading these writings has been like reading a diary – the diary I said I was going to write and then never did. . .


This is a fav post of mine as I recall the experience and the sense of panic and annoyance I had like it was yesterday. Of course, reading it in the midst of a pandemic gives it a different spin.


How much more true today is that need to be in the “now.”

Wow! And to believe that the “now” will lead to a “tomorrow.”


This post was written at least four years ago. Declan (see postscript) is healthy and happy and active and learning to live with an arm that is still not fully functioning. His grandmother tells me that he is intrepid and laughs a lot.


May the same be said of us!




I had set my phone alarm for 7:30 AM. I woke up at 8:00 AM confused – how could I have slept through the alarm? Hmm – my phone was dead. Dead as in it wouldn’t turn on even when I plugged it to a charger. I had an immediate sense of dread – yeah, not everything is backed-up. How could I be so stupid? Easy question to answer, but. . .


I had meetings to get to and no time until later in the afternoon to pop into a Sprint or Apple store. I was both annoyed and creeped out by the arbitrariness of my phone being dead. It was so random – the phone had been fine when I went to bed.


Much of daily life is a routine. And that routine is made up of so many small things we don’t think about, but count on – like a cell phone working. Remove any one of those small things in our routine and we can be thrown off balance.


Part of what it means to be confident is not being sidetracked when something breaks our routine.


Being confident means regaining balance quickly and not losing sight of the big stuff.


Now, you need to know that I’m jotting these notes down at a Starbucks. I’m early for a meeting and since I’m without my phone I have nothing to do except jot ideas down on napkins!


I’m not a happy camper.

I find myself forced to look, observe and entertain myself with my thoughts.


MY thoughts. My thoughts, though, are driving me crazy:

“What if they can’t fix my phone?”

“They won’t be able to fix my phone.”

“I’ll have to get a new phone – and that will cost money.”

“I’ll lose all my photos because I never back up regularly.”

“Wait! What about my contacts?”

“Ugh! I’m such a loser!”


Ah, the Curse of Catastrophic Thinking!


What I have to remind myself is that confident people refuse to succumb to wasting time on the disastrous, “what-if’s.”


No one likes disruption from routine. A confident person, though, navigates it with equanimity because they know they will find a way to handle “it” – whatever “it” may be.

The night before I was watching a movie set in the late 1980’s.  There were no cell phones. The only way to communicate when out in public was by finding a phone booth. I remember phone booths quite well but looking at the movie’s characters frantically searching for a phone booth reminded me just how isolated we were back then.


And so am I in this moment at Starbucks.


I can’t check email.

I can’t call anyone.

In fact, I am the only customer in Starbucks not looking at a cell phone!

All I can do is mindfully prepare for my meeting with my client Niall.


I’m reminded that a confident person is grounded in self and connected to people and the world beyond any technology.


In a recent interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash hit musical “Hamilton,” observed:

“I think a lot about trying to meet the moment as honestly as possible, because I don’t pretend to have any answers.

In fact, I have infinitely more questions than answers.

That’s all I control: I can control how I meet the world.”



A few days after jotting down the above thoughts, I ran into Danielle, the daughter of a friend of mine. Danielle’s youngest child, Declan, is nine months old. About three months ago Danielle noticed he wasn’t using his left hand and was overcompensating with his right hand. She took him to the pediatrician and so began the most hellish 24 hours of her life.


Making a long story way shorter, within the span of 24 hours, Danielle and her husband Ryan were told that Declan might have a brain tumor, then were told he might have cerebral palsy until finally they were informed Declan had had a stroke while in the womb. His left-side motor skills were impacted.


While the prognosis is good for the long haul, for Danielle and Ryan it has been an indescribable rollercoaster of emotions. And yet Danielle told me that she and Ryan are stronger now than at any point in their relationship. They know they and Declan will survive – and thrive.


They refuse to obsess over the “what if’s” and instead imagine the “what can-be’s.”


Like all confident people, their attention is focused on how they can meet the world – in the “now” – with determination, stick-to-it-ness and inventiveness.


What about you? Are you living in the NOW?


Do you want to learn how to confidently go about your work in The NOW  – yes, in the now of a pandemic – so as to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]




Stop Numbing Yourself!


Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.

If you can’t be a sun, be a star.

For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.

Be the best of whatever you are.

Martin Luther King Jr.


Last week I Zoomed with Clay (name changed), a client who is a manager in the IT department of an international company.


Clay hates his job – and really hates it in these pandemic days.


He’s the classic case of a person who was promoted not because he showed managerial promise but because he was good at what he did.


Although he has the potential for becoming a solid manager, he has no desire. Rather than take charge of his career he’s resigned to doing a numbing job for the sake of a pay check.


Prior to the pandemic, I think he would have welcomed the idea of getting fired as it might have prompted him to look for more satisfying work.


Now, though, he’s stymied in the habit of going through the motions.


I asked Clay what he’d like to be doing if we lived in that longed-for imaginary ideal world.


Without hesitating, he said, “I’d like to write operas.”


Wow – I hadn’t seen that coming!


He explained that he had wanted to pursue a career as a classical musician, but his parents would not support such “nonsense” and they guided him down a stable professional path.


As you may know, sometimes stability can come with a steep price tag. Clay is paying that hefty price.


During these days of quarantine, I’ve been doing spring-cleaning and for me that involves not just tossing out the stuff that’s been collecting dust. It’s also a time to sort through links to articles and posts that I convinced myself someday I’d use.


Here’s an edited obit clipping I passed along to Clay. It’s for a Michael Masser.


You probably don’t recognize the name, though Masser, a stockbroker-turned-composer, wrote hits for Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Roberta Flack.


I’ve kept the obit because it tells a story I don’t want to forget. And it’s the kind of obit that I hope someday can be written for Clay.


Here’s how Masser made his career and life changing decision (as written by Sam Roberts in the New York Times).


As Mr. Masser biked to work as a broker in Midtown Manhattan in the 1960s, he would detour to the Juilliard School to putter on a piano. A self-taught pianist, an inner muse was urging him to switch careers and pursue his true calling.


‘I was working as a stockbroker in New York and had the seemingly perfect life,’ Mr. Masser told The Chicago Sun-Times in 1988.  ‘But I was unhappy, and someone I knew convinced me to see a shrink. I walked in and told the doctor I wanted to write music. He said, ‘What’s the problem with that?’ I told him that didn’t go over well in my family.


He listened, took my money and said: ‘Here’s a note of permission to write music. That’s all you need to clear your conscience.’


And it’s funny, because that’s all I was looking for: permission. I had been the dutiful son and husband for so long, I had forgotten about living for myself.’


In these pandemic days we are all on a wild roller-coaster ride of emotions and thoughts. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. I believe, though, that this is also a time of remarkable opportunity.


The opportunity to allow ourselves to think about our life in ways we may have become afraid of. In ways we may have forgotten.

The world has been turned upside-down. There is no going back to the “old normal.”


All that lies ahead is the “new normal.”


I encourage you to give yourself permission to think about who you want to be in that new normal.


Is there something you’d like to be doing other than what you have been working at? 

What are you going to do about that desire?!


Do you want to break through the numbing 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:

[email protected]



“Who Am I?” – How Do You Answer That Question?!


We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.



In recent weeks, while sheltering at home, I’ve been doing Spring-cleaning – not with tossing out “stuff” that’s been collecting dust, but rather by rummaging around old files that are scattered about my MacBook.


I’m constantly downloading and collecting links to articles and posts that I convince myself I’ll use someday in a workshop or in the classroom – or for this blog.


I came across the following five items about famous people who would seem to have nothing in common other than that they were famous.


However, what moves and amazes me is that each of these people had to grapple with the question that each of us has to grapple with –




Take a look at these “snapshots” and taken together let them challenge you to ask yourself the hard question that needs to be asked. . .



Charles Herbert, Mid-Century Child Star on TV and in Movies, Dies at 66

By Sam Roberts Nov. 4, 2015


Charles Herbert, who was 4 years old when he was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout and went on to become a top-earning child actor of the 1950s and ’60s, died on Oct. 31 in Las Vegas.


He shared the limelight with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and James Cagney. Mr. Herbert was making more than $1,600 a week at one point (almost $13,000 in today’s dollars), but wound up broke and, later, addicted.


In a 2006 interview, Mr. Herbert said, “The worst thing a person can lose is your identity,” adding: “It’s O.K. as a child because people look at the screen and say, ‘O.K., he’s Fred’ or ‘O.K., he’s Tom Sawyer.’ But when you’re an adult, people don’t know who the hell you are — you don’t walk around with your credits. They want to know who Charlie is. And I didn’t know.”



Ruth Reichl: Life After Gourmet Magazine


When Gourmet magazine closed in 2009, then-editor Ruth Reichl was shocked by the news. [email protected] spoke with Reichl about her book, My Kitchen Life: 136 Recipes That Changed My Life, which chronicles how cooking helped her to heal from the loss of the job she loved.

Reichl:  I’d been working since I was 16, and I had always identified myself by my job. I was a cook. I was a writer. I was a restaurant critic. I was a magazine editor. Suddenly, I was a nothing.


It’s really pernicious to think that you are your job. Although I had been in food all my life, I had not been cooking for a very long time. I’d been too busy to do serious cooking. By really throwing myself into the cooking and paying attention to how much pleasure it gave me, I rediscovered that the secret to life is learning to take joy in everyday things. . .


I realized that I wasn’t my job. That I was me. I re-found the person who was kind of always in there. . .those Conde Nast editor jobs are princess jobs. You live a very big life. You meet famous people, and you travel first class, and everybody is bowing down to you all the time.


All that stuff is just gloss. Who you are is more important than thinking that because you’re hobnobbing with famous people, you’re really somebody. You’re not.



Jennifer Lawrence Felt Lost After Breakup with Nicholas Hoult

The Huffington Post


In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Lawrence spoke about her relationship with ex-boyfriend, actor Nicholas Hoult.


Lawrence opened up about the couple’s split, which occurred around the same time she wrapped filming on the “Hunger Games” movies.


“These movies had been my life for so long and they had to come first in everything. I was also in a relationship with somebody for five years and that was my life,” the actress told Sawyer.


Lawrence continued, “So my life was this person and these movies and we broke up around the same time that I wrapped those movies. Being 24-years-old was this whole year of, ‘Who am I without these movies? Who am I without this man?'”



Mary Lou Retton opens up about her struggle of discovering ‘who you are’


Their Olympic moments happened 24 years apart, but the journeys of Mary Lou Retton (1984 Los Angeles) and Shawn Johnson (2008 Beijing) are similar in so many ways.


Both grew up away from the spotlight — Retton in West Virginia, Johnson in Iowa — before bursting onto the Olympic stage at the age of 16. Both won a collection of medals at their Games, vaulting each to sudden fame and a bevy of post-Olympic commercial opportunities.


The adjustment to that new life, however, was not easy for either woman. And while both continue to be household names, they admit it’s still hard to balance fame and regular life.


“Finding my own voice was difficult,” Retton said during a conversation between the two women. “I’m a 48-year-old woman and I still struggle with it. But I’m getting better. When that physicality is gone and the title is gone, you have to find who you are. I’m really still trying to find that out.”


“That’s good to know,” Johnson replied. “Because I’m still trying to find it.”


“It’s a journey,” Retton said. “It’s a lifetime process.”



Landon Donovan Urges Athletes To Speak Out About Mental Health

Huffington Post – 08/12/2016


Retired soccer star Landon Donovan doesn’t shy away from talking about his experience with depression — and he hopes other professional athletes will be just as forthcoming.


Donovan took a three-month break from his professional career in 2013 to prioritize his mental health. While athletes can sometimes seem unstoppable, it doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to mental health issues just like everyone else. In fact, Donovan suggested that retired athletes can be especially at risk for depression.


“I think our problem is we wrap our identity around what we do and it becomes who we are. So, you see a lot of former athletes struggle with this, a lot of athletes that are no longer being recognized for what they did on the soccer field. They’re like ‘Well, what am I now? I don’t have this sport anymore.’”


The former LA Galaxy forward said therapy helped him become more open about his mental health, and he encourages others who feel affected to do the same.


While these days of quarantine can be mad-crazy, they may also be the right time for you to explore

how life-skills coaching can help YOU become YOU

with enhanced confidence – and joy!

Please contact me

  [email protected]









Learning How to Live “Day By Day” in These Crazy Times


Courage is not the absence of despair:

it is rather the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.

– Rollo May



Crazy days and crazy nights.

It is all so surreal.

I hope you and those you treasure are safe.


I write this post keenly aware that the life of each of you has been turned upside-down in ways we could not fully have imagined just a month ago.

So, please know that posting this is my way of saying, I hope you are managing, that you are, indeed, persevering.


For most of my professional life I have taught, coached, counseled and trained. People have sought me out because they want, if not answers, then at least direction on how to get answers.


As I write this newsletter I have no idea what will happen between today and Memorial Day weekend (the weekend my goddaughter Meredith is to be married).


Like you, I’m taking it one day at a time.

BUT – what does it mean to take it one day at a time?!


As I’ve talked with friends, colleagues and clients during these past weeks, I’ve been struck by how folks fall into one of two groupings:

  • Those who are afraid and are paralyzed by their fear.
  • Those who are afraid and are energized to move through their fear.


What is different about the folks in these two groupings?

The folks who are afraid and determined to move beyond their fear are mindfully challenging themselves to –






Feel. There is now a proliferation of articles, podcasts and talks focused on how to navigate life in the midst of a pandemic.


I have the sense, though, that for many of these well-intentioned advice pieces, the advice comes down to: don’t be afraid – we’re in this together – we’ll make it.


My response is, Yes. True. I agree. I hope. AND. . .


I think we should allow ourselves to feel afraid. We have good reason to feel afraid!


I also think that many of us are feeling not simply afraid. I think just as strongly we are feeling a tremendous sense of loss. We are feeling grief.


Each of us, as citizens of planet Earth, has lost and may continue to lose something, someone we love and enjoy and delight in.


Let’s not rush past what we are feeling. Let’s feel what we feel. Let’s name what we are feeling. AND let’s not allow the complexity of what we’re feeling to paralyze us.

I’m afraid.

I’m grieving.

Now what?


Each of us needs to answer that “now what?” question. Yeah – that’s the “business of confidence.”


Adapt. A friend of mine is an instructor at Loyola-Marymount U. Jerry happens to be 89-years- old. When his seminar course had to move online because the university was shutting down in-classroom instruction, he was not happy. He was apprehensive.


AND he was determined to “make it work.”


He embraced Zoom (best thing since sliced bread, yes?!) He rallied his students. He rallied those of us who are scheduled to guest speak through the rest of the semester. He accepted the invitation the madness of these days offered him – the invitation to adapt.


Jerry is a man who has reinvented himself half a dozen times in his life. At 89 he is again reinventing and adapting.


In the midst of uncertainty, Jerry is energized by his anger, his grief, and his fear. You will never hear him say, “I don’t know how and so I can’t and so I never will.”


Connect. These days invite us to do more than feel and adapt. They invite us to connect in new and unexpected ways.


Last week I spoke with a colleague who shared that the unexpected gift of quarantine is that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend – they recently moved into a new home. With excitement and a touch of wonder, he said, “It’s been such an unexpected gift to have the time for us to get to know each other in a deeper way.”


Wow! I was moved by the spontaneous surprise he felt.


Two weeks ago I was hired by a new client, Justin, who is wanting to hone his presentational skills.

He found me on LinkedIn. Random. Unexpected.

I thought he’d want to wait until after the quarantine to start our coaching. He didn’t. We’ve met several times on Zoom J and an easy, collegial rapport has developed.


Connection in the midst of separation.


Each day ask yourself, “Who can I reach out to and surprise today?”


For those of you who’ve done training with me, you know one of my fav books is Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone.” Well, many of us have no choice but to eat alone!


Each of us, all of us, has the choice to not be alone in the midst of uncertainty and its roller-coaster of emotions.


Expand. Among other things, I’m using this time to take the time to catch-up on reading, turning to that pile of “someday books.” I’m revisiting old genres. Exploring new. Putting aside my Kindle and feeling the hefty warmth of a real printed book again. I forgot how much I enjoy reading just for the sake of reading.


I recently had a conversation with a client who was considering a career change prior to the outbreak. We were playing around with ideas and options and at one point Rose said, “I hadn’t thought of that!”


Now is the time to find ways to generate those “I hadn’t thought of that” experiences.


Here’s the thing –

We want life to return to “normal.” Like you, I don’t know what life will return to. I don’t think, though, it will return to “normal” as we used to know “normal.”


To live – really live – in that as yet new normal, we will be asked to dig deep within. Why?


Because when this is over there will be many people who will be hurting and afraid because of what they went through. They will be our customers and clients, our colleagues and, perhaps, our bosses. If we’re going to work with them and for them, we’ll have to do so with a renewed awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses. And that renewed awareness will only come about because somehow. . .


We will have accepted Fear’s invitation to –







I think this is what it means to take it day by day!


One of my literary heroes is the writer and diarist Anais Nin. She mentored me in college and for many, many years I’ve had a saying of hers framed in my office –

Never crystalize.

Remain open to change, renewal, adventure, experiment.


I always thought it was a “lovely” sentiment.

It is.

And now it has come to bite me in the butt!


Stay smart.

Stay safe.

Stay healthy.

And never lose sight of this certain truth – life is good and worthy of our best.


Should you have any pressing questions or even

just need someone to vent to who will listen,

feel free to email me: [email protected]

You’re not alone – we really all are in this together. 

The One Thing Really Confident People Do Really Well!


Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be.

But what will happen in all the other days that ever come

can depend on what you do today.

Earnest Hemingway



Last week before my UCLA class on Interpersonal Communications I met up with Peter (names changed), one of my students, for a consult. As we were talking, a middle-aged woman approached us. She was out of breath as she pointed to Peter’s red water bottle, “Is that yours?” she asked with what I thought was an accusatory twinge.




Peter gave her a startled, “It’s mine” but to my New York eyes she had that “you’re lying” look in her eyes.


Peter stared at her and then did the most remarkable thing – he offered her his water bottle, asking, “Would you like to take it?”


“Is it yours?” she asked.



“Well, if it’s yours I don’t want it” – she said now with more a whiff of confusion than annoyance.


Peter held it out saying, “You can have it – it seems the bottle meant a lot to you.”


This unusually kind gesture snapped her back into the moment. She was thrown off balance. As was I!


She left (having declined the bottle) and Peter and I went on with our conversation.


Peter thought little of the encounter – I, though, was blown away by his composed generosity.


Doing something unexpected in a conversation, in a relationship – heck, in your life – takes confidence. And I’ve been thinking about Peter’s particular style of confidence.


He was not quick to feel judged because he has such a solid sense of himself. This allowed him to practice an uncommon generosity to a stranger who was emotionally stressed.


When I complimented him on his kindness, he shrugged, saying, “it’s just a water bottle. She seemed more invested in it than I am, so why not give it to her?”



Even as I write this I am in awe of his generosity BECAUSE that generosity is wonderfully grounded in a sense of confidence.


Peter adapted to the circumstance of the moment, took the woman and her situation in stride knowing that life is littered with the whack-a-do!


SO – the question is – how do you develop that kind of confidence?


Peter did play professional sports after college – not all pro athletes, though, are that generous.


That kind of confidence is a choice.


Peter reminded me that we choose the kind of confidence we want to display in our daily life.


Confidence is manifested differently in each of us. For Peter – to be confident is to be generous.




We each have to decide what confidence will look like and sound like in our own life.


After writing that last sentence, I stopped and reflected on what confidence looks like for me. I’m not terribly proud of my answer. . .

Because I was bullied growing up, I resolved when I was in college that I would never again allow anyone to verbally intimidate me (and, yes, there’s anger laced in that sentence).


I resolved to not be afraid of others who were physically imposing.


I decided to not be afraid of people whose lives were so very different from mine.


And, yes, because of the confident people who have been so generous to me, somewhere along the way I resolved to ground my confidence in generosity.


However, I’ve yet to give away my water bottle!


What does it mean to be confidently generous (and not simply “nice” or “kind”)?


It means that you’re willing to act in unexpected ways that surprise both the other person and you!


It means acting out in specific gestures – offered because you want the other person(s) to experience something good.


It means being consistent in surprising others.


And to use my favorite Italian word, it means having a sense of sprezzatura, which is what makes confidence SO attractive.


Sometimes, while going about The Business of Confidence it’s easy to forget the hidden dimensions to being confident.


Peter reminded me that in its essence to be confident is to be generous.


Do you want to become more confident?

Consider This:

  • If you were more confident, what would you do MORE of?
  • If you were more confident, what would you do LESS of?
  • What is the “water bottle” you can offer to someone this week? This month?


We need you to provide the things that are unexpected, scarce, and valuable. Scarcity and abundance have been flipped. High- quality work is no longer scarce. Competence is no longer scarce, either.

We have too many good choices – there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire.

What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise.

Seth Godin



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being

generous and  influential?

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

contact me at:

  [email protected]


Pay Attention – What Confident People Do So Well!


Business, like life, is about how you make people feel. 

It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

Danny Meyer, founder Shake Shack



This past month has seen a shake-up in various aspects of my routine. And, hey, I’m not happy about it!


Julio, who has serviced my Highlander for more than a decade, quit the dealership and told no one where he’s going.

Rocky, a server of eight years at my fav pizza joint, has moved back to Texas.

And then there’s Pam who retired from the art store where for almost twenty years I had framed all my menus (yes, I collect menus and frame my favs which I have hanging in my dining room).


I don’t mean to sound grumpy, BUT – in the last four weeks I’ve realized how many people make my life run smoothly and I take them for granted. I couldn’t tell you much about any of their private lives although I know that Julio believes in ghosts, Pam adores her goddaughter and Rocky had dreams of becoming a screenwriter.


Each has given me exceptional service for many years – in small ways that added up to me not having to worry about the little details of my life.


Why do I miss this trio?


Because they knew me.

They knew my name.

They knew what I liked and needed within their sphere of expertise.

They gave my slice of impersonal Los Angeles a neighborhood feel by making business personal and not transactional.


Over the years I did thank each one for the care of their service – and I’m glad I did as chances are our paths will not cross again.


For all the books I’ve read on customer service and business management these three people reminded me each time I went to them what real customer service looks like and sounds like.


And they made it look so simple.


What did they do?


·       They remembered my name.

·       They remembered what I did for a living and how I love pizza, my car and menus.

·       They engaged in easy-going conversation without being inappropriately intrusive.

·       They laughed.

·       They knew their job and each did their job with care.

·       They wanted me to be satisfied.

·       They weren’t perfect – but they were darn good at what they did.


Walt Bettinger, CEO of Schwab, tells the story of how in business school he failed just one exam – his final. The main question on the test was actually simple: what is the name of the person who cleans the building that houses our classroom?


Bettinger had seen the woman who cleaned the building innumerable times and it never occurred to him to ask her name.




Her name was “Dottie.”


Bettinger now knows the name of every “Dottie” who works near him.


Michael Strahan of New York Giants and “Good Morning America” fame was asked in a Harvard Business Review interview how he “pushed people to better performance.” Here’s what he said:

Make everybody feel empowered. I had to learn this as an athlete. So when I played, before every game I would walk through the locker room and go from the equipment manager to the coaches, doctors, and trainers to the players and touch each person on the shoulder or give a pound or a hug. With Brandon Jacobs, a big running back and a rowdy guy, I would get in his face and yell; with Eli Manning, I would just put my hand out and say, “Go have fun.” You’ve got to know your people; there are different ways to motivate. . .When I walk into the Good Morning America offices, I speak to the security guys and the cameramen just like I speak to my cohosts. Nobody gets preferential treatment, because we are all here to do one thing: make the show successful. Without those people, I can’t do what I do. We all need one another.


True that!


And yet, for some, this is not an obvious concept to grasp.


Recently Aiden came to me for coaching because he wants to become an inspirational leader. A noble goal though “inspirational” can mean a range of behavior.


He told me that at team meetings his boss gives seemingly impromptu pep talks that bring some to tears. Aiden wants to be able to bring people to tears. (No, I’m not going to make what is so obvious a joke!)


When I asked what he’s already doing to inspire his team he paused for a long while and then said, “I thank them when they do a good job.”


When I asked how he thanks them, he said it’s usually with an email because he’s busy and he knows they’re busy so it’s easy.


When I suggested he switch to offering a personal “thank you” either face-to-face or via a quick call he gave me a puzzled look and told me he’d feel “funny” doing that because he’d feel self-conscious.


Oh, how we complicate our lives with the weird things we tell ourselves!


The truth is – people who recognize people inspire them to continue doing what they are doing well.


The truth is – people who pay attention and notice and let others know they see them reassure and inspire others.


Julio, Pam and Rocky were not managers. They didn’t head-up sensitive, costly projects. Within the purview of their own responsibilities, though, they did what each of us needs to do more of –

They paid attention.

They paid attention to what I needed and through it all each made me feel valued.


My life, like yours, is complicated. Into my complicated life they injected simplicity by paying attention.


They inspired me to pay more consistent attention to the people in my life.


Smart people – Effective people – Strategic people – Confident people

know how to pay attention

and then use what they gleaned from paying attention to provide standout service.


Years ago, I was privileged to have some business dealings with Fay Vincent who was an entertainment lawyer, securities regulator and sports executive who served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball.


In our last call he uttered a phrase that stuck with me. He said that what he most enjoys is:

To look into the faces of the people I manage and to realize they are this company’s most important resource. 


Fay Vincent’s stayed focused on the great truth that the people he managed, his customers internal and external, were his and the company’s greatest resource.

He was a man who paid attention.


What do you see when you look into the faces of your customers? 

Your colleagues?

How does what you see influence the way you do business?



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:

  [email protected]



Dealing With Paranoia in The Workplace!



When it hurts – observe. Life is trying to teach you something.

Anita Krizzan


Oh, how we complicate our lives!


Steve (names changed) is head of Human Resources for a mid-sized company and Gina is the Associate Head.


Gina is upset that Steve doesn’t promptly answer her emails. She sometimes hasn’t gotten information that she needs and feels out of the loop. She doesn’t like not knowing an answer and is afraid people will think she’s incompetent.


Gina believes Steve is out to sabotage her.


Steve claims Gina is driving him nuts with too many emails. He thinks Gina needs to handle situations on her own as she knows how to do her job.


Although Steve has told this to her, Gina doesn’t believe him.


Gina also thinks Steve likes Judy (new office hire) more than he likes her and is conspiring to make her mess up at work so he has a reason to fire her and then promote Judy!


Let’s start with what could be some of the reasons why Steve doesn’t promptly return emails:

  • He doesn’t like Gina
  • He is incompetent
  • He is too busy chatting with Judy
  • He doesn’t see a need to respond
  • He trusts Gina to do the right thing
  • He doesn’t enjoy dealing with email


While I don’t have security footage that will show me if Steve is fawning over Judy, my instinct tells me that Steve is not some psychopath plotting Gina’s demise. In fact, he promoted her six months ago!


What do these colleagues need to do?


Each needs to do something difficult.


Steve admits he’s not good with answering email. He’s not proud of this and recognizes he needs to do a better job.


He now needs to move on from recognizing this is an ineffective habit and consciously develop a game plan for being more prompt in his responses. If Gina’s upset, chances are others in the company share Gina’s frustrations.


Gina needs to probe what appears to be her paranoia regarding Steve and Judy’s relationship.


Aside from making an accusation, what are the facts to back up the belief that her career is being sabotaged? When I asked, she could not provide evidence other than “she knows!”


Steve and Gina need to reflect on how their behavior could appear to the other and ask how their behavior is making life difficult for the other.


The Golden Rule of doing to others as we’d have them do to us is not nearly as effective as the “Platinum Rule” – of doing to others as they would have us do to them!


That’s real strategy –

and will lead to real and successful communication and relationship!


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:

  [email protected]