Transition with Ease and Grace. 3 Powerful Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself

golden gate cloudyOne of my potential clients is going through a major transition and called me to inquire about executive coaching.

She is a new mother of 15 month twin girls and is having a tough time balancing her work and personal life.  After working in a senior role for 15 years in a major company, she felt compelled to put in her resignation.  She needed time to rethink her career, finances, and family life and hopefully find a family friendly employer.  She is now in the process of winding down and closing this chapter of her life.

Transition times are tough and can be very stressful.  There is a sense of loss, maybe some humiliation, and a lot of anxiety about the unknown future.  There is also a tinge of excitement and anticipation about creating something new.

You may find yourself in the midst of a major transition.  Here are some coaching questions that could help you during these times.

  1. As you go through this process, notice how you are feeling.  Label it and acknowledge your feelings of the moment.  Do not judge or make this feeling wrong.  Whatever you are feeling is yours and you are entitled to this. Notice the change in your feelings as the transition progresses.  Do not be alarmed if it gets tougher before it gets better.
  2. Notice your thoughts.  What would you like your team and colleagues to remember about you?  What would you like your transition theme to be?
  3. Who are you being throughout all this process?   I’ve been through several transitions throughout my career and continue to do so during my encore career.  We moved 17 times and lived in 3 continents, all transitions have been very stressful, some more than others.  I have a theme or mantra that helped me tremendously whenever I am in transition and that is — “Move with Ease and Grace”.  I meditate on these words every spare moment I have and it never fails to center me.  It keeps me calm and greatly influences how I behave.

Transitions are wonderful, they give us hope, enable us to change to have a better life.  When I think of my major transitions, I was fortunate to have a coach guide me through it.  My coach helped make a cloudy and foggy journey clearer and certainly made me aware when I have reached my destination.

Job Search Tips for Graduates

graduatesWith graduation coming up, it’s that time of the year when I receive requests from moms to coach their graduates with their job search. Some basic questions like in what city do you want to work or what industry do you want to work in are not as firm in the new graduates minds as their parents would like it to be.  Therefore discussions on what to do after college becomes a frustrating conversation between parents and their kids who are really confused after spending four years or so in an expensive college.

Below is an excerpt of my conversation with Alexi, a very proactive, smart and coachable college graduate job searcher.  If you are a recent college graduate and looking to get on the job search track, here are some thoughts to get you started:

1. What kind of job do you envision yourself doing in your 30s and in your 40s?.  If you don’t know, don’t worry.  If you do, good for you.  Research or work with a career coach or your guidance counselor to find out entry-level jobs in your field.
2. Have you taken a career assessment that gives you some general direction on how you may apply your natural skills and talents?  If not, I recommend the Ucipher graduate assessment.  It is an on-line tool that provides insight into your strengths and roles that match who you are.  It is also easy to interpret. You can  access the tool by clicking here –
3. My friend, Dana Manciagli,  recently wrote a book – Cut the Crap and Get a Job.  You can look her up on Linked In and Facebook or buy the book at Amazon.  She has lots of tips for the job searcher.  Read the book and incorporate her advice that makes sense to you.
4. Are you open to relocation?  If so, start looking at jobs in your desired location.
5. Are you subscribed to job boards like Indeed or Monster?  Suggest you choose companies that you want to work on and research on the kinds of jobs that they have along your lines of interest.
6. Is your Linked In profile updated?  If not, create a professional one.  There are lots of jobs posted in Linked In.  Add your resume to your Linked In profile with a nice professional picture that shows your face.  Sign up for job leads in your areas of interest.  Start networking and connecting with friends, former teachers, neighbors, club members etc on Linked In.
Alexi wanted to know if he should remain anonymous in Linked In since he is job searching.  I disagreed.  Looking for an entry-level job after college and viewing career information is not something to hide or be ashamed of.
7. Set goals.  Decide how many applications you will send out or how many contacts you will reach out in a day and make this your priority above all else.
8. Lastly, know that finding a job is a full-time job.  Invest in it and treat it like a special project. Do not be discouraged by the rejections or lack of communication from companies.  Keep a positive attitude – you only need one great job offer, the more rejections, the closer you will be to your job.
But first, we need to figure out what kind of jobs you are interested in applying, then we can tailor your resume to the job and start applying.  It takes a couple of months to get into the swing of a job search.  The perfect job is just waiting for you out there.
Alexi is a terrific coachee.  He took  the assessment and  career advise and asked very good questions.  I have no doubt that he will be finding his perfect job in no time.


It is not what you say, it is how you make them feel. 6 Tips for Impactful Feedback or Reviews.

performance reviewI’ve had the privilege of coaching several clients this week on their leadership 360s.  It is always a deeply fulfilling experience and I am honored to coach them on this sensitive, emotional yet extremely powerful leadership topic.

Recently I blogged about the distinction between intent and impact –   This conversation becomes extremely important during the dreaded performance review or when you need to give feedback.

Performance reviews or periodic formal or informal feedback sessions are opportunities to recognize accomplishments and deepen relationships and trust that enhance performance. As an HR professional, we emphasize the importance of honest direct feedback, quantifiable results and smart goals.   The reality is our brains cannot remember all the data discussed during the review, so it is important that we are  clear on our message and the impact that we want it to have.

Throughout my experience working with people from all over the world, one thing remains true – regardless of culture, nationality or language,  after the conversation, people do not always remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.  Even as years go by, the feelings stay or sting, the negative feelings stay longer.  Here are some tips to have a positive impact during a feedback session or performance review:

1. Use more “I, We, Our” words than “You”.  This reduces defensiveness, judgement and opens up the listening.

2. Find several positive items to recognize and call attention to these.

3. No surprises.  If there are areas for improvement, make sure that they have been dealt with in the moment or close to the incident as possible.  Do not wait for the performance review to bring it up.

4. Be constructive in your comments.  Share your vision for the team and where you see your team member fit in.  Be future focused vs rehashing past mistakes.  Say – if this situation comes up again, this is how I’d like it handled.

5. Focus on the person, not the task.  A performance review is daunting, people already feel vulnerable, use this time to focus on the person – their motivations, aspirations, goals and what they need from you to succeed vs focusing on the task.

6. Lastly, be at ease.  If you are relaxed and comfortable, chances are they will be too and will be more receptive to your input.

Whether you are a thinker or a feeler, the tone and feeling that you convey sets the impact, way more than the content of your message.  While these may seem a no brainer and mere common sense, we are not always aware on how we are landing with others.  Our leadership effectiveness hinges on the impact that we make and not necessarily on our intent.

If you need a breakthrough in your leadership, send me a note or give me a call.  I’d be happy to discuss how executive coaching may help you develop.





4 Ways to Prepare for Your Career Conversation.

young employee meeting w managerMy client is ready to move to another role within the company after only a year in the job.  Although there continues to be a lot of valuable work sent her way, she feels that she is not learning anything new; she is not challenged.  She is concerned about bringing up the topic to her manager, someone she greatly respects. She wants to stay in the company, in her current location, but she is ready for something new.  Here is how we prepared for this conversation.

1. Do your homework before you meet with your manager.  Figure out your bigger picture, where do you see your career 5 to 10 years from now?  This is not an easy exercise; you may need to take a couple of weeks or even months to figure this out.  It does not need to be accurate and perfect, you can tweak and update your vision along the way.  The long-term career vision is critical to help you decide on new skills and experiences you will need. My client sees a few possibilities in her career: Country HR Manager, Vice President Human Resources of a business unit, Corporate Human Resources role in headquarters.

2. When you have this picture in mind, figure out the relevant skills and experiences that you need to acquire to get you there.  My client has developed strong analytical and financial skills over the past 10 years and has a master’s degree in Human Resources.  Due to her strengths, she continues to be tapped for similar planning and analysis roles. She would like be in other areas of HR: talent management, business partnering and organizational development to round-up her portfolio.  She will review specific roles with her manager and seek guidance on how to acquire these competencies for current and future roles.

3. Have a transition plan and timeline in mind.  She has a rough idea of how work will get done when she transitions into a new role; she also has a timeline.  While these are not definite, your proactiveness will relieve your manager’s initial concerns about backfilling your responsibilities.

4. Be confident and ask for what you need.  You will be surprised how helpful and supportive your manager can be once you share your career plans and request for specific assignments.

Your career journey is as important, fulfilling and fun as achieving your career goals.  While keeping the end state in mind, be flexible and welcome the occasional twists and turns that may come your way.  These are opportunities for you to consider and don’t be afraid to step into unknown open doors or knock on new interesting ones.

Through our coaching conversation, my client became more prepared and confident to speak to her manager.  I am so excited for her and can’t wait for our next coaching call.

Get Hooked. Four Ways to Sustain Your Peak Performance

meditation pose 4I am working with a client on her goals for the next 12 mos.  Her top priority is to grow her business to the next level.  While she realizes that personal health and fitness are critical priorities, she can’t see how she can fit this into her already overbooked schedule.  She is not alone, many of us allow our own health and fitness slip in favor of more important work and family commitments.

The reality is, no matter how important our business and career commitments are, we are only able to sustain peak performance if we are in top shape mentally and physically.  Despite all the fitness and health reminders everywhere, it is still very difficult for us to get hooked into a program that doesn’t seem like a burden to our overflowing schedules.

Usually a trigger event causes us to change our lifestyle.  It could be the latest blood test results, how we look, our weight, or some comment that got us.  Whatever the trigger, we find ourselves exploring an activity that we hope will last and become our daily routine.

How do you get hooked to a regular health & fitness program?

1. Find something that you really like.  My daughter got hooked into running, my brother into biking, and a female colleague into kickboxing.  I got hooked into Bikram yoga, 90 minutes of hatha yoga in 105 degrees temperature.  It’s been 3 years since my first hot yoga class.  It is not easy, most especially during summer. But I feel GREAT, so I keep going back and eventually my practice evolved to 5 times a week.  I feel my day is not complete without my yoga practice.  I got hooked.

2. Don’t think.  During the early days, it took all my will power to get myself into class.  I remember my boss advising me: don’t think, just go.  Once we think of all the reasons why we should or should not go, we have already slouched in our couch.  Some sleep in their workout clothes, I have all my items in my gym bag the night before so laziness does not creep in.  Anticipate and remove barriers that may get in your way.

3. Do it every day for the next 30 days.  If you want to get hooked, you need to make your workout a habit, a part of your daily routine.  If you can extend your daily practice to 90 days, there is a higher chance of automating your practice.  After 3 mos on the program, I purchased an annual membership.  This got me motivated to get hooked.

4. Get involved in your community.  Find friends who like the same activity and support each other.  Eventually my yoga studio became my community, I got to know other yogis and yoginis and we support each other in our practice.  This makes the experience more fulfilling,

If you are serious about being at the top of your game and sustaining it, I invite you to consider creating an automated health and fitness plan that is part of your daily life , outside your “to do” list.

Do you want to get hooked into a regular health and fitness plan?  Start by putting yourself towards the top of your priority list and experiment with these suggestions.  Share know how it goes.


5 Ways to Manage the Emotional Ups and Downs of a New Career or Venture

roller coaster woman laptop

I have a couple of clients who are looking at new careers or starting a business.  At our sessions, we discuss how emotional this can be.  When you put yourself out there and pour your heart and soul, you can’t help but feel vulnerable.  This emotional ride sometimes feels like a roller coaster.

Upon receipt of good news — be it a new client, a new job prospect, a promising sales lead, you start the climb up and feel really good.  However a cancelled appointment, a postponement of an important meeting, a client not renewing their subscription or a rejection letter can send you downhill really fast.

Have you ever felt like you were riding an emotional roller coaster?  How do you manage the ups and downs of a new venture without losing faith in the project and confidence in yourself?

Here are 5 ways to manage your emotional roller coaster and flatten the road:

1. First , discard the emotional roller coaster idea and imagine yourself driving your favorite car on a smooth drive to a new destination.  As problems come up, recognize them as bumps along the road that will get you closer to your destination.

2. Continue to celebrate wins, big and small, and identify positive actions that are repeatable.

3. Give yourself time to feel bad news, eventually, shorten the time you allow yourself.  At some point, a shrug will be enough to move on.  Journal your negative thoughts and feelings or share with a friend or coach.  The important thing is to get it out of your system.

4. Remind yourself that you’ve handled bumps and trials in the past and you recovered.  You just need one job offer, one prospect, and one more client who is just waiting for the right time to sign up with you.  Choose to remain optimistic.

5. You do not need external validation. While it feels great to be recognized, you don’t need it to motivate you.  You know you are good and capable.  A mentor told me this a long time ago and it always works.

How do you handle your emotional health when faced with a new venture or job search?  Share what works for you.


You are the Driver of your Career. 4 Ways to Improve Your Driving

driver red top down

I remember recurring dreams about driving whenever work stress got too much for me. I would dream that I was driving a car and would fall asleep at the wheel; or I’d be driving a car with my children at the back, fall asleep only to wake up in a sweat; or driving a car and get lost in the dark unable to find my way. Eventually I looked up the meaning of driving dreams and found one interpretation that made sense to me — driving dreams are about driving careers. I am driving my own career and feel the responsibilities of decisions that impact my family directly.  Work anxiety and fear of failure are strong emotions which I accepted as natural consequences of being an executive.

I had a great corporate career and am very grateful for it.  If I could coach my younger self about this very topic right now, I’d ask her what is the price that I am willing to pay to be an executive?  What is it about the work that is causing me stress?  How can I diffuse and handle this?  Am I fully aware of what I am doing and feeling? I was fortunate that during my formative years, my bosses provided me with a success coach. Some of my most successful and productive years were when I had a coach or mentoring relationship with a more senior and experienced supportive person. In addition to having great coaches, I could have improved driving my career more consciously.  I would coach my younger self to be more self-aware, more reflective and more purposeful in planning career and personal success.  I would pause more to regularly ask for directions and ask more feedback about my driving.

As the driver of our career and personal life, are we driving too fast or too slow? Are we distracted when driving? I usually started my drive to the office dialing into my voice messages — this was when cell phones were allowed on the road. I’m grateful that I did not hurt anyone, what was I thinking then? I thought that cleaning up my voicemail would improve my efficiency and productivity. I know now that calling my staff early in the morning added unnecessary stress to them. I guess I was obsessed to get voicemail checked.  I would coach my younger self to enjoy the drive, downtime and some silence.

As the driver of our careers, do we know where we are headed? Wouldn’t it be great if a GPS career apps with a soothing voice could be attached to our cars and order us to “recalculate” when we take the wrong turn in our careers or “make a right turn” at the exact time?  Are we driving above the speed limit of our career growth, making other drivers upset with our speed? Or are we too slow in the fast lane or too fast in the slow lane?

Here are 4 simple proven ways to be a better driver of your career:

1. Know your destination. What is your ultimate career goal? Where do you see yourself 10, 20 years from now? Is it to be a CEO, a VP, a Manager? It is important that you are clear about your end game. As you think through this question, keep in mind that while there are varied, diverse & untraditional careers, most are built with 4 similar structures: Early Career – usually an individual contributor, Mid Career – either professional or manager track, Executive Career – Director ,VP or C suite executive and Second Act – usually pursuing your unique passion or giving back.

2. Choose your lane. How fast do you want to drive your career? Do you want to be known as a Fast Tracker, high potential who gets promoted every couple of months? Or are you perfectly happy to be in the middle lane at certain times of your life?  What are you consciously giving up by staying in your chosen lane?  Are you accelerating or decelerating to get off ramp?

3. Keep your engine tuned up. As you move up the career ladder, ensure that your skills and knowledge are constantly enhanced. Keep an eye on your career dashboard, know when you are running out of gas, when you need to recharge your batteries or perhaps change your car?  This includes taking extreme care of yourself and what is important to you. There is no joy in reaching your destination only to find out that no one is there to share your success with you.

4. Lastly, don’t be a road rage, follow proper driving etiquette and don’t monopolize the road.  There are several roads to take you to your destination. Keep a positive attitude, build lasting relationships and help others along the way. The latter is the most gratifying career act that you can embrace. It is guaranteed to come back to you multiple fold in ways that you have not expected.

How are you driving your career?

The Balance Myth by Teresa Taylor

Just finished reading this book, it is honest, real, vulnerable, love it!  This is how women in the workplace with families can succeed, allowing themselves to be who they really are so they can use their intellect and talents in all aspects of their lives.  Congratulations Teresa!

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Why Hire a coach?

Top Reasons Coaches are Engaged:

(HBR Jan 2009)

    • Develop high potentials or facilitate transition: 48%
    • Act as a sounding board: 26%
    • Address derailing behavior: 12%