Friday the 13th. Lucky or unlucky?

September 13th, 2013

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“The way you think and what you think is determined by your theories about yourself and your life. Thought controls you more than you realize.”   – Michael Michalko, author of Creative Thinkering

When the 13th falls on a Friday, the date will be lucky, unlucky or just another day depending on your beliefs about it. I view the day as an opportunity to examine the beliefs I hold about yourself, my work, and the people in my professional and personal lives. Because like a Friday the 13th, what those things mean depends on my beliefs about them.

Our perceptions, how we interpret what we see and what conclusions we draw from it about ourselves, others and the world all depend on our beliefs. And the process happens quite automatically.

A belief is anything you accept as truth. And it’s our beliefs that shape our experience. For example, if you believe a situation will frustrate you, then most likely it will. Or, if you believe a co-worker will make you unhappy, then probably s/he will.  And your frustration or unhappiness – or bad luck on a particular calendar day – will, in turn, reinforce your belief.

Just because you believe something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. So beliefs can be limiting. But we all have the energy – the ability to change our ideas about ourselves and our work situations –that allows us to grow, expand and develop more fulfilling lives.

We have the ability in any moment create an attitude we do not have currently. Our power is always right now, in the present moment. How we think about things, how we shape our beliefs, what we choose to expect, all determine the outcomes of our work-life experiences.

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What lights the fire under your derriére?

August 2nd, 2013

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My favorite Broadway musical, Avenue Q, celebrated its tenth anniversary on Wednesday. And as the only show I’ve seen four times (so far), I must give a nod today to the cast of colorful Muppet-like characters trying to find their purpose in life. There’s no shortage of laugh-out-loud moments with occasional “full puppet nudity” and some naughty songs that poke fun at racism and porn.

But, for me, the most meaningful lyrics are sung by recent college grad Princeton, who, with no apartment, no job and no work experience, is eager to discover his “Purpose.” And the other puppets on Avenue Q are refining their purposes, too. Because aren’t we all on a continual search for our purpose? Tweaking our lives along the way to feel good, love what we do and help others along the way?

As my mentor Napoleon Hill used to ask: What are you waiting for and why are you waiting?  Everyday holds opportunity to hone what he calls Definiteness of Purpose. And it all starts with a burning desire to reach a goal. Knowing what you want to accomplish. Formulating your plan. Lighting that fire.

Now whom am I going to take to see Avenue Q this year?

Want to reduce complexity? Try poetry.

June 28th, 2013


I’ve identified a poetic thread in my life over the last several months. It started with the MTA’s Art in Transit “Poetry in Motion” series and surfaced most recently with Brooklyn Academy of Music’s announcement that Fiona Shaw will perform in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as part of its fall 2013 Next Wave Festival. That confluence of poems reminded me of a John Coleman blog in the Harvard Business Review last year about the intersection of poetry and business.

In “The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals,” Coleman remarks on a number of poets who were business leaders. (I was surprised to learn that Lloyd’s Bank of London had T.S. Eliot on the payroll for a decade.) And he imports some strong reasoning on why reading and/or writing poetry can aid in the development of leadership skills. He provides great support for these ideas:

  1. Poetry teaches us to get our heads around and simplify complexity.
  2. It can help develop a keener sense of empathy.
  3. Reading and writing poetry also develops creativity.

And perhaps most importantly, Coleman suggests that the beauty and meaning inherent in poetry can serve as triggers for hopefulness and purpose in our work. I appreciated the reminder and felt up to the challenge.

London-based writer and poet Cheryl Moskowitz’s poetry collection, The Girl is Smiling (Circle Time Press, February 2012), rests on my nightstand to inspire as needed. It was in her wonderful poem “Leaving” that I learned a cinquain is a five-line poem of twenty-two syllables. And it has rules: The first line has only two syllables; the second line, four syllables; the third line is six syllables long; fourth line has eight;  and the last line mirrors the first, with just two syllables. So I gave it a shot.

deep thought

unseen pattern

creates reality

confident, powerful, happy


Can you guess my subject? Feel like trying your hand at a cinquain, too? Oh, go ahead. Get creative; simplify your thoughts. And let me know what you come up with.

Poem in the image is “Ragtime” by Kevin Young

These leaders get it.

June 7th, 2013

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Some straight talk from three smart business leaders caught my attention this week. While their words are simple, the ideas expressed are big. And all are mindful of success being inclusive.

“I like hearing that people don’t like to be micromanaged…When someone says, ‘I want to own something. I want you to trust me,’ I love that,” said Adi Tatarko, CEO of Houzz, in her interview with The New York Times’ Corner Office.

Costco pays its workers an average of $8 an hour more than Wal-Mart’s average hourly pay, says CEO Craig Jelinek, as part of a deliberate strategy to ensure that workers are well paid and well taken care of. “I just think people need to make a living wage with health benefits,” Jelinek told Bl oomberg Businessweek. “It also puts more money back into the economy and creates a healthier country. It’s really that simple.”

“…there is a more humane and more sustainable definition of success that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, empathy, and the ability to give back,” wrote Arianna Huffington in advance of The Huffington Post’s first-ever women’s conference yesterday, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.” It’s no coincidence this brainy woman was a moderator at the Change your Mind Change the World 2013 event held in Madison last month. (Here’s a link to Wisconsin Public Television’s recordings of the full day’s discussions.)

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol at

Changing minds can change anything.

May 17th, 2013



“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

A whole lot of human energy emanated from Madison, Wis. two days ago when global thought leaders, including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, participated in Change your Mind Change the World 2013, a day of panel discussions on how neuroscience, economics, environments, emotional intelligence and health care can combine to make the world a healthier, happier place. The event was co-hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute.

If you weren’t in Madison, or missed the simulcast, recordings of the morning and afternoon sessions will be posted on the event’s web site next week, perhaps even as early as Monday.

In addition to the Dalai Lama, Davidson and Patz, the other participants include:

  • Don Berwick, national leader on health care quality, former CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, recent administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
  • Daniel Goleman, psychologist, science journalist, author of The New York Times bestseller “Emotional Intelligence,” named one of the 25 “Most Influential Business Management Books” by Time magazine;
  • Arianna Huffington, author, syndicated columnist, founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post;
  • Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; interdisciplinary advisor on promoting health globally;
  • Lord Richard Layard, professor, economist, director of the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, co-author of the United Nations’ “World Happiness Report”;
  • Mattieu Ricard, bestselling author, translator, photographer and Buddhist monk, author of “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill,” dubbed “the happiest person in the world” by popular media. (He also has several awesome TEDTalk presentations. Check out this one.)

And until you can watch the Madison sessions online, check out Action for Happiness, a movement that invites you to be the change, first from within and then outward.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at