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Thursday, May 4, 2023

May 2023: Motivation, Management and Multiple Time Zones

I have had a great month with clients, and the song "I've Been Everywhere, Man" is currently running through my head as I think about them! I have virtually visited the countries of Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, and Bosnia, while also touring all over the US too, meeting online with clients from Chicago, Phoenix, NYC, Minneapolis, Pasadena, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Sacramento, Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Richmond... I am grateful for the opportunities to listen, learn, and share. P.S. Speaking of world travel, here's a new hack for managing multiple time zones on your Google Calendar - a lifesaver!)

Here are some of the things we discussed... I hope they provide some new insights to you as well!


🎨 Leadership is an Art by Max DePree. I made a goal this year to go back and skim through at least 25 of the books on leadership that I have acquired over the years. And this one caught me a bit by surprise... I realized I had actually never read it, and had only heard it recommended. DePree was the CEO of Herman Miller furniture, and renowned as a gifted leader. Personally, I found the insights within this little book to be unique and thought-provoking -- in other words, it didn't sound like every other book on leadership. Sure, it is occasionally quaint and uses "he" more than I would like; after all, it was originally written in 1989, and the edition I read was reprinted in 2011. But its humility, emotional intelligence and generosity really stood out to me. It is a quick read, but will stay with you. (Ironically, the current CEO of DePree's former company was in the news recently, and not in a positive way. Not sure this CEO got around to reading DePree's book!)

Here's one quote from the start: The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.

πŸ€“ How to be a Good Manager in 2023. I am guiding #managementdevelopment for three different clients right now and here's a good summary of what is needed in a #manager in 2023: 5 ways to be a manager that people don’t want to quit. If you liked this one, this is worthwhile as well: “Help, I’m an accidental manager.” These are the management secrets you are never taught.

πŸ’ͺ🏽 How Do I Stay Motivated After Surviving Layoffs? This entire podcast series is excellent and if you are looking for a new one to subscribe to, jump on this one. This particular episode captures the raw emotions that I hear in some of my clients after layoffs, and the host, Muriel Wilkins, a tremendously gifted executive coach, conducts a master class in walking someone through next steps.

And here's an extra... if you have been laid off, or need a boost as you consider a job change, this one caught my attention: This is how ChatGPT can level up your job search. I am barely wading in the waters of Generative AI (and some of it concerns me a lot), but this particular topic proved fruitful.

😡‍πŸ’« How to talk to a problem employee about their poor job performance. You may be just finishing up performance reviews, but this issue bubbles up year-round. In fact, there is perhaps no other topic I receive from leaders and managers more than this one. We seem to be uniquely terrible at giving constructive, substantive, clear, direct feedback. Let’s stack hands on this and commit to getting better at it!! It is always better to address things early to avoid confusion and complexity. If you want another resource, I often send out this one: 14 questions to ask an underperforming employee during a one-on-one meeting.

⚕️Washington Post Opinion: ADHD is an illness, not a lifestyle. Don’t punish people for it. As I have shared here before, I am encountering more and more clients who have been diagnosed as neurodivergent: this includes ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, and autism, to name a few. The increase in diagnoses can be attributed to advances in neuroscience, greater awareness, and the stresses of the last 3+ years on our mental health and stress management. This article is behind a paywall, so I'm giving you the PDF I downloaded. I can almost guarantee you know a neurodivergent person, even if you don't realize it. Please take a few moments to learn a bit more about how it feels for those going through some significant challenges. (Additionally, the opinion writer followed up with a column on readers' responses to her column, including negative reactions to her use of the word "illness." You can find those reactions here.)

🐾 This Week in WildlifeThis is a fun photo gallery to follow...  animal photos lift my spirits every time. The muddy puffin this week is ridiculously cute.

Thanks for reading... reach out with questions or feedback (or even a complimentary 30-minute coaching session for new clients) at

Thursday, April 6, 2023

April 2023: "Just Keep Swimming..."

I was late posting for March, so I'm trying to recover by posting near the start of April. I suppose I could just list a few of the gajillion articles out there on AI and ChatGPT, but I will spare you. I certainly have plenty to share on other topics. As I compiled this month's list of recommendations, I realized that they all revolved around the need to press in and persist in the face of fatigue, discouragement, challenges and so on. So I titled this post based on Dory's little phrase that often runs through my head. Here goes!

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😡‍πŸ’« Meeting Culture Run Amok with Christina Janzer. I have appreciated several episodes in this podcast series because they all address the new post-pandemic dynamics in the workplace. The host sums up this episode: “The idea that every problem, every issue, every roadblock in your organization can and should be solved by a meeting, that’s meeting culture. And it’s a real problem for most organizations I know.” This link includes the transcript, and I recommend printing it out and using it for a team discussion to evaluate your online meeting practices.

πŸ”Œ A Human Energy CrisisThis is intriguing. I haven't done academic research on this, but anecdotally I can verify that I have multiple conversations each week with #coaching clients about #motivation, #resilience, #burnout, #anxiety, and all other sorts of personal or professional challenges. How are you doing?

πŸ“œ How adding ‘microcrocredentials’ to your rΓ©sumΓ© can help clinch that new jobThis has been my experience -- I have taken a few short but useful online certificate courses and it has sparked interest, expanded my knowledge base, and brought value to my clients.

😱 How High Achievers Overcome Their AnxietyI have had SO MANY #coachingconversations with clients on the topic of #anxiety and how to manage it. Take time to read over the 11 most common "thought traps" - this article puts words to what many people experience.

πŸ˜‡ Why Americans Care About Work So Much. As someone who spent 30 years working in a vocational career in religious institutions and non-profits, this is an especially interesting article. As the author says, "Here is a history of work in six words: from jobs to careers to callings." Do you feel your job is your “calling”? This article is behind a paywall so I printed it out from my email - forgive the slightly wonky format.

🫣 Seeking feedbackI am meeting with several clients in preparation for #performancereviews... But to get over the once-a-year dread, here are some tips on how to seek out #feedback from your manager throughout the year. Even better, here is how leaders can get the feedback they need to grow as well.

Monday, March 20, 2023

March 2023: Three Years In...

If you follow this blog regularly you know that my goal is to get out a new post at the start of every month. So... March has definitely "marched" along at a quick pace and kept me busy. I'm glad to finally catch my breath and post several different things I've enjoyed and used with clients recently.

Maybe because we're hitting the 3-year mark on the official start of the pandemic, you will detect a bit of a theme here in my recommendations (SO MANY emojis!)... So much of what my clients are seeking to manage relates to day-to-day pressures in both personal and professional life and how to maintain some level of stamina emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. I hope you find them valuable!

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😳 Why being a highly sensitive person could be your greatest personal asset. I am often contacted by clients who need some insight on how to manage their anxiety, stress and emotions. They wonder if they are depressed, or have issues with anxiety, or might even be neurodivergent (OCD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, among others). Fundamentally, they do not know where to begin! I want to be clear that I am NOT a trained therapist or social worker; all I can do is share (anonymously) what other clients have discovered along the way, and give some options in terms of getting the help they need. Out of these conversations, I have several #coaching clients who have found the description of "highly sensitive person" extremely helpful for the way they observe and process people and processes. Check out this article about its advantages. And if you are curious to learn more, go to Even if this doesn't apply to you, you may have someone you work with or care about come to mind.

😈 Do you have an "inner critic"? On the heels of the recommendation I just listed, I want to add this one. I’ve used this link with several clients in the past few weeks, which qualifies it for a recommendation here. For those with high Restorative, Achiever, Responsibility or Deliberative in #StrengthsFinder, dealing harshly with yourself may be an ongoing challenge for you. As the article states, "We all know this voice in our head that constantly criticizes, belittles, and judges us... Our inner critic can be a cruel and deeply damaging force. Its strength and impact determine our overall mental wellbeing. The destructive voice in our heads is never satisfied and can soil and spoil anything we may achieve, no matter how impressive." If any of this sounds familiar, take some time to check out the many resources available on this link.

πŸ˜ƒ Happiness in America, Part 1: The Secret to a “Good Life,” According to an 80-Year Study. I enjoyed this discussion of a longitudinal study at Harvard. Super fascinating - it certainly makes me interested in knowing and learning more, and talks about all the stuff I care about most: #meaning, #purpose, #resilience.

😫How to Manage Anxiety after a LayoffGreat direction on how to #journal to avoid #catastrophizing when dealing with something difficult like a #layoff. I have a boatload of journaling prompts also available if you need them.

πŸ€” Making decisions, seeking approvalQuite possibly my favorite #newsletter, by #OliverBurkeman. Take a few moments to consider how much you look for #approval from others when #makingdecisions.

πŸ§’πŸ½ 30 Questions to Ask Your Child Beyond "How Was Your Day?" I am always quick to provide questions for team conversations and relationship building in the workplace, but I have neglected to provide questions for just as important a cohort of people, children and teens (and maybe all the other people in your life?!) Try these out.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read through these... feel free to reach out with questions or feedback at

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

February 2023: Listening... a LOT!

Aaaannndddd.... 2023 is off and running! I'm not even sure where January went. Phew. Usually this is a relatively slow month for me as clients take their time to get back in the swing of things after the holidays, but that lasted for all of one week this time, and then the requests to meet kicked in. Which I'm obviously thankful for!

As I look over this month's recommendations, I did not realize until I saw the entire list that there seems to be the pervasive theme of LISTENING, whether it's an informative podcast, tips on communicating better in a digital world, a story about paying attention, or understanding others who live life very differently from you. I hope you enjoy them -- I sure did.


🧐 The science of happiness, with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. This is a very robust conversation, and had many highlights for me. Listen to it and learn more about #resilience, "anti-fragility," figuring out your #calling, and what does it actually mean to be #happy

🫒 Intent versus impact: a formula for better communication. Much of my #coaching right now is focused on equipping #managers on how to lead their #remoteteams. One often-neglected aspect of this is how to best #communicate because so much can be lost or misunderstood in #digital messaging. This article provides some clarity and next steps. It could be a spark for a good virtual team discussion on how you want to best communicate moving forward.

πŸ‘‚πŸ½You Have to Learn to Listen. My favorite read of this month. The title says it all. It's a long read but WELL worth the time. I think it's behind a paywall, so here is a PDF version. As we are bombarded by apps, news, devices, stress and just too much noise overall, we can lose our capacity to truly hear someone. This story is tremendously compelling. Do not miss it.

πŸ‘¨πŸ½‍🦳 πŸ‘±πŸ½‍♂️ Gen Z in the Workplace. This is a conversation between a Gen X father and a Gen Z son. Being a #Boomer myself yet having worked with young adults my entire adult life, I often function as a translator between the generations. I found this conversation very engaging and enlightening.

🎧 Science-backed productivity playlists to help you dive into deep workI don't know about you, but I usually need some instrumental music in the background to really focus when I have to.

🀝 Team-Building Questions and Activities, January 2023. Every few months I try to generate a new list of questions and simple activities to use to help foster deeper connections between groups. I hope you find these helpful - please let me know which ones worked best!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

January 2023: Reading, Reflection and Revving Up

I don't know about you, but I'm having a bit of a hard time getting going again after the long break. Part of it could be the dark and dreary days of late (that's right, Santa Barbara is actually having weather recently, with many days of rain and overcast, which we certainly need), but I am guessing part of it is also how the holidays fell this year, which allowed for consecutive long weekends, about which I am NOT complaining!

But it is time to get started, and I am hoping that writing this post will assist me in revving up for 2023! I hope it proves the same for you. 

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πŸ’₯ Word of the Year GeneratorThere is nothing magical or prophetic about this. It is just a fun exercise to jump start your vision and strategy for 2023. My word was “Inspire” ~ I’ll take it! I spent some time in my journal considering how I might gain inspiration in the coming year, and how I might inspire others.

I passed it along to a few friends… one received the word “Yes!” and she loved it. Another received “Burn” and that was energizing for her: what might she burn down this year? What fires her up?

Yet another received the word “Work.” Nope! She didn’t want that one… the second was “Youth” - no connection for her there. Then she got “Surprise” and that worked. Again, no rules here. Just have fun with it, see if it sparks something for you and pass it along to others.

✅ Best Productivity Apps for 2023. This may feel like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth because I am a huge fan of the authors Oliver Burkeman and Walter Brueggemann, who both say that we need to focus far less on productivity and much more on being present and mindful. I could not agree more.

Nevertheless, I am also realistic that each of us are responsible for getting work done, and many of the apps described here are helpful in self-organizing and prioritizing. These words from the article put it well: 

The problem: productivity is deeply personal, and the words "productivity tools" mean a lot of different things to different people. What works for you may or may not work for me, which is why—after over a decade of writing about productivity software—I don't really believe there are objectively "best" productivity apps… Just remember: the specific app doesn't matter. The best productivity app is the one that works best for you. The most important thing is having a system.

⏰ Wake Up Your LinkedIn ProfileI often coach people who need help finding a new job or even a new career. One of the many key elements in that process is starting / improving / refining / maintaining your LinkedIn profile and presence.

First of all: I highly recommend working on your profile before you need to find a job. No doubt you are discouraged and exhausted when that time to transition comes, and the creative juices are often squeezed out by fear and stress. So please make a resolution to work on LinkedIn proactively and consistently, not just when you need to look for a job... you just never know :) Here are three links I recommend:

πŸ“š What Did I Read // What Am I Reading? I have mentioned here before that I am a recovering English major, so I am a BIG reader. (I also have Input as my #5 talent in StrengthsFinder). I have a few friends who are frustrated with me that I do not read fiction... I don't have big explanations for this other than perhaps I burned out on having to read two books a week throughout four years of college, the majority of which was fiction? ANYWAY, here are my top five favorite books from 2022, though it is difficult to narrow it down:
  1. 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. I am relentlessly pumping up this book by Oliver Burkeman (as I have done so previously on this blog). So, so good. It really made me reflect on my fierce focus on productivity and how that is unhealthy in so many ways. I can say I feel changed by this book.
  2. On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old. One of the favorite authors of my life is Parker Palmer, and he does not disappoint here. I initially was not interested in this book because he was writing from his 80 year-old perspective, and I did not think I was in that mindset yet. But I was humbled to realize that I should not wait until I'm 80 to think back (and forward) on my life --- DUH. 
  3. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. I feel like the title says it all. I recommend this book to so many clients and when the 25th anniversary edition came out this year, I decided to read it again. Gulp. This book kicked my ass, plain and simple.
  4. Calypso. Few writers make me laugh out loud like David Sedaris. His stories, especially about his family, are hilarious, and yet sometimes also a punch in the gut. Who needs fiction when I can read stuff like this?!
  5. How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question. My favorite show streamed during COVID was The Good Place, and after I finished it I became borderline obsessed with the ideas behind the show and with its creator, Mike Schur. When I heard about this book, which emerged from his work on the show, I snapped it up. His goal was to write a book about philosophy that his teenage children would understand, and that was perfect for me! Check it out.

What Am I Reading? I am almost always working on a few books at a time, so here goes:

⁇ πŸ€” Questions for the New Year. I will end with this. As I mentioned in last month's post, I am a big fan of journaling, and a great resource for journaling prompts is the therapist Esther Perel. Here are her New Year's prompts:

What are your associations with the “new year”?

Does the promise of new beginnings motivate you?

Does the conclusion of the previous year stress you out?

Do you prefer to bring in the new year dancing with others or in quiet contemplation with yourself? Why?

What area of your life could use more structure?

What area of your life could use more spontaneity?

As I said, I hope these recommendations rev you up for 2023. Thanks for reading -- feel free to pass this along to a friend or coworker. And please send questions or feedback, or set up a free 30-minute consultation, at Cheers! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

December 2022: Gearing Up for What's Ahead

I cannot say that I will miss 2022.
It was a rough year for a lot of people: more COVID, Mpox, RSV, war in Ukraine, layoffs, inflation, political tensions... for me, it was dominated by a severely broken ankle in May from which I am still recovering. The word of the year is apparently gaslighting. Bleah. My personal word of the year is physical therapy. Bleah again.

Sadly, we felt the same buh-bye feelings about 2021... 2020... so I'm cautiously (skeptically? tentatively? desperately?) optimistic for better news in 2023. In the meantime, I encourage us all to do some reflecting in these dark, cold winter days. I find it so important every year to take some time to pull the lens back and look back over my calendar, my journal, and world events in the past year and get my bearings for the one to come.

So my first recommendation builds on that idea, and then I throw in some other ones that sparked conversations with clients and fodder for new presentations. Tell me what you think!

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✍🏾 Journaling Prompts. As I have shared more than once here, I am a massive fan of journaling. Personally, I use Evernote, having given up on writing things down years ago because I ran out of room in my condo to store all the #@(#& journals. But I also found, in talking with many clients, that they often have earnest desires to journal but are quickly stalled with the pressing question of "What do I journal about?" So here I am with a multitude of prompts, links and opportunities. And I want to put a special endorsement on the prompts I've collected from Esther Perel, a therapist who has intriguing podcasts and whose interviews I have enjoyed. I think these might be just what you need to spark some energy to journal on a deeper level. You may want to bookmark this journal prompts link because I update it relatively regularly. Just do it!!

😑 What is Emotional Labor? I find the correct concept of emotional labor to be very helpful especially when working with clients who are customer-facing. Across the board, I am hearing from those clients that interactions escalate quickly when there is any sort of frustration, and that they are not equipped to deal with the barrage of anger and antagonism. Furthermore, it creates massive stress because they are not able to respond in kind (nor should they). But that is remarkably taxing and that has caused some significant churn within the workplace – it feels like someone is always quitting out of exhaustion and frustration and those remaining are having to adjust to new people and more onboarding. Further content can be found here: The Concept Creep of Emotional Labor and The Power of Non-Anxious Presence. Bottom line: we have got to learn how to settle down interpersonal communication in every area of our lives: family, friends, colleagues, customers. Closing in on 3 years of challenging world events has worn us down and made us more reactive and less resilient. Let's work together in 2023 to regain some patience, generosity and civility.

πŸ›‘ Urgency Doesn't Exist. Frequent readers know I am a massive fan of Oliver Burkeman, who wrote my favorite book of 2022, 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. I stalk him a bit online and subscribe to his newsletter. This link on urgency was a great reminder. Please read the entire post (don't worry, it's not long), but may this little quote tease you: "The first and most obvious sense in which urgency isn’t what it seems is that virtually none of the things that generate that knot-in-the-stomach feeling are the matters of life-or-death we tend to assume." Exactly.

πŸ’¬ Cringe quiz: Are you fluent in Gen-Z office speak? Gearing up to teach another course in January to college seniors, along with my work with some under-25 clients and heck, communicating with my 22 and 24 year old niece and nephew, I took this #genz quiz. Good luck! (PS I got 4 out of 6 right... but I doubt I really get it.)

☮️ Wellbeing at Work? I like this new trend toward #wellbeingatwork. Sadly, I am not convinced that it will continue though... Favorite quote: "The equation is simple: The greater the wellbeing of your employees, the greater the wellbeing of your organization. That’s not just good for your employees; it’s good for your business." #culture #employeeengagement

πŸ‘―‍♂️ Body Doubling. This may be an unfamiliar term to you -- it's certainly new to me. But for my clients who are #neurodivergent, this has proven helpful. For those who might struggle with focus, self-motivation, or executive function (prioritizing), body doubling can provide some assistance in remaining on task. As the article states, "You can body double in person, over the phone, via video chat, or even through text. The knowledge that someone is 'present' and aware that you are doing the task is intended to increase motivation and follow-through." Sort of like studying with a reliable friend in college. Try it out?

I hope you and yours get some good space to rest and restore some sense of hope and purpose for the new year. Thank you as always for reading -- feel free to pass it along to someone else. Reach out to me with questions or feedback at Buh-bye 2022!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

November 2022: Ruts, Rest, and Remote Work

I always have ambitions of posting something at the beginning of each month. Yet here it is November 10... I'm never entirely sure where the time goes, but better late than never.

I am happy to report that one of the reasons that the start of November caught me a bit by surprise was that I got to go on vacation from October 22-29 to Sun Valley, Idaho. My best friend and I, who are great travel buddies, stayed in the guest house of a friend of hers and other than the shock of a 40+ degree temperature difference, the time there was fantastic. I came back rested and refreshed, and the only regret was that I had to do a bit of scrambling upon my return as I had so much to catch up on. Thus the delay in getting this out....

The view from the back of the guest house
(and no, I did not use the tub!)

Nevertheless, here are my most-used recommendations for the month. These especially found a lot of traction with clients. Enjoy!

♥️ Hygge CardsI’ve used this with friends, but also with teams who already know each other a bit. I had one client call these “palate cleansers” during meetings, when things need to shift between topics during busy, topic-filled tactical work together. Another client used them on a staff retreat to warm up the group. I could see them also being valuable as a way to get a team (especially one working remotely) to socialize a bit more in a less-threatening way.

⛏️ How to Get Out of a RutA quick but worthwhile blog post from one of my favorite authors, #OliverBurkeman. #productivity #patience #resilience P.S. I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter.

😴 The Nap Bishop is Spreading the Good Word: RestHere is a podcast interview with the “nap bishop” as well. Y'all, this has been on heavy rotation with several people I am working with. Sure, we have all been hearing about the need for more rest in these stressful times. But I tell you what, this has some really new, really thought-provoking insights in regard to our need for rest. If you can only pick one of this month's recommendations, pick this one.

☮️ How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person. Full disclosure, I have not done this yet. But I find it intriguing and encouraging. And here are the 30 days of challenges.

πŸ–₯ What Great Remote Managers Do Differently. I am juggling three different management training projects right now. This is clearly a huge need in the workplace, especially as we keep wading through the waters of hybrid, remote, layoffs, retention, quiet quitting, you name it. Great quote: “So what managers do remains the same; it’s the how that changes.” This article really highlights a huge shift in management – it is much more focused on people management and not just process management.

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“Especially after COVID-19 forced us all to slow down a bit, I found myself questioning for the first time ever why (and for whom) I and my peers are working so hard — often to the detriment of our mental and physical health — and how that can not only be normalized, but also glorified,” Devon Gates, 21, said. (from Nap Bishop article) 



Hearty Bread for the Whole Journey? aka, "What's with the vague subtitle?"

If you have sat through (endured? enjoyed?) one of my Strengths Finder presentations, you know that I often refer back to my life as an eter...