When I coached Bill O’Connor on This Emotional Life, we spent about 80% of our time on job-related coaching, and 20% of our time on assessments like you saw on TV. As PBS writes:

With the help of [an executive] coach specializing in positive psychology Bill was able to refocus his career search and channel his strengths.

The 80% of Coaching

The most important job of a coach is to move a client closer to where he wants to be. That’s why 80% of my work together with Bill included:

Bill was a great client because he did the exercises between each session, and was really trying to figure out where to take his next step career-wise.

The Three Steps of Coaching

Coaching almost always involves three steps, and we focused especially on the latter two:

  • ASSESSMENT – where is the client going? For Bill, this was deciding his next career move (you saw this on the PBS program – the Assessment step)
  • TARGETING – what specifically needs to be done? Which companies? What industry-function-geography?
  • ACTION STEPS – practicing the cold call (it’s all practice) and writing job-specific resumes

Considering Coaching?

If you’re considering coaching, send us an email or call 1-877-818-NEWS (6397). I can help coordinate a fit between you and one of our coaches.

Client: Bill O’Connor
Coach: Senia Maymin
Project: Job-Search

Posted in All

SUBJECT: e-intro: Joyce and Richard

Hi Joyce and Richard,

It’s a pleasure to introduce you two.
Given that you go to so many of the same conferences, I’m surprised you don’t already know each other. You may be interested in working together on some projects down the road together since your fields are so similar.

Joyce, Richard and I know each other from the Appreciative Inquiry conference in which we were on the same team, and learned a lot about each other’s business strategy and next steps. He is starting an area of his business focused only on small companies and resolving early product management conflict.

Richard, Joyce and I have been colleagues for years. She is an executive coach, and focuses on CTO’s in the ______ industry. Her clients have said she was the best thing moving them to manage their teams the way they wanted to manage them. Joyce facilitates conflict resolution sessions for upper management, especially in IT, product management, and financial systems.

All the best to you both,

My friend Y-Rock (that’s his rock-climbing name) taught me how to write e-intro’s. It takes me 5-10 minutes. I give one-two highlights about each person. I mention why the two might be interested in connecting.

ALMOST ALWAYS before I do the above step, I check in with each person in a separate email. Or I’ll see one person, and realize it might be connect to connect her with the second person, and then I’ll email the second person to check in about that hunch.

I connect people when I have a hunch that there’s a mutually good thing that can come out of it. I don’t connect one person with another when there’s no potential joint interest (for example, one person who’s looking for a job with one who hasn’t hired in years and isn’t planning to). They may have other things in common – other than job hunting – and that would be an entirely other reason to connect them.

That’s the cool part about connecting people. They may grow something even bigger from this connection. And like I said yesterday in how to “How to Give Good Recommendations (Places, People, Things),” just make the e-intro personal. What do you know about the person? Why do you think this person is great?

Posted in All

Funny situation. I was part of a team that was consulting to a large group. We each had responsibility for a section of the large group. I had grown to like the people in my section a lot. The people were visiting our town and were wondering what nooks and crannies to explore. So a few of us had a light-hearted and fun idea: for each of us consultants to write down our favorite, personal recommendations about the city, and to hand it out to the people we were working with.

There was just one problem.
Not everyone got the memo.

Not a literal memo. There was no literal memo. Not everyone heard the idea. So one person who volunteered to collect all the information and print it out to give to our people did something funny. She removed each of our identifying names. So instead of —

“Senia recommends this bakery on the corner of X and Y, and says “make sure to go to the chocolate shop on Z Street and ask for a chocolate-covered strawberry to go.” ” …

Instead of that, we got this —

Bakery – Corner of X and Y
Chocolate Shop – Z Street

Ladies and gentlemen, these two are not the same.
One had a heartbeat. The other didn’t.

How to Give Good Recommendations (for Places, People, Things)

RULE NUMBER 1: Make the recommendations personal. Why is this your FAVORITE place? Why is it the BEST chocolate? What does this place have the MOST of? (Try using the first-best-most language).

RULE NUMBER 2: Ask them how it was. That way you can taylor your next recommendation to them.

I used to have a big mouth when I was a kid. A huge mouth. When people would tell me secrets, I used to tell them to other people right away. I was a jerk.

And when I was a teen, one specific person told me that she couldn’t trust me to not tell things to others. I’d realized she hadn’t told me something crucial to her, and we were good friends at the time. That made me really sad and upset for weeks….
Until I realized she was right. And then I realized I needed to change my ways. And did immediately.

And it was hard. Until with practice, it became easy.

So it only fits that I went into a career in which I can never tell anyone anything about anyone. Coaching.

The first phone call I ever have with any client or potential client, I tell that person, “Anything you say will be only between me and you. If I’m going to refer you to another coach, I will clear with you in advance what I can say about you (typically describe your career and what you’re interested in coaching for).” Beyond that, I don’t say a word. I make that clear up front. And that’s how it goes. And to do that, I’ve had to get comfortable not telling things about people.

I know someone who works in a sensitive area. Let’s call this person a lawyer in a discreet practice. I took a wonderful example from him. He never recognizes a client in public. If this lawyer is sitting next to his client at a restaurant, he won’t say hi. He won’t make eye contact. He won’t even smile. And he tells his clients this in advance. A lot of his clients are celebrities. And people often don’t want other people to know what they’re coming in for. I love that.

Some coaches talk about their clients: “I’m coaching so-and-so, and I’m coaching so-and-so.” Unless the client himself tells people that he’s being coached by me, nobody will ever know who my clients are. This is why it’s difficult when I’m contacted by media or press. I go to my clients and ask them if they’d be interested in this press opportunity (when the press wants to cover, for example, entrepreneurs being coached by a positive psychology coach), but it’s often hard because I won’t describe what my clients are doing except in a general way unless the client also wants to be interviewed. But clients do tell their friends they are working with an Executive Coach, and they talk about me. So, yes, the information can come out, but not from me.

Why do I say all this? Because it’s hard to keep confidences. Unless you know that that’s your rule. … That’s it. It’s my rule, There are no questions. I just keep confidences and don’t tell anything to anyone.

But what if you have an amazing story? Or what if you want to share the experience of one client with another client because they are related experiences?

“My friend Emily”

This is my answer. If I want to tell a story about a client that will not identify them, I will say, “I have another client who was also going through job interviews right around the December bonus season. Let’s call my client Emily. Emily found out that she could do job interviews in the early morning by phone because she was applying to jobs in Europe. Maybe that’s something you could go since you’re looking for jobs in London while living in NY.”

If I want to tell a story about a friend, same thing. “Oh, I know what you mean about messing up socially in front of your boss. I have this one friend. I’ll call her Emily. Emily was once at a Christmas party, and she….” Fine. No problem. No way this friend could identify your “Emily” friend. And if you think the friend might be able to identify your “Emily,” then see suggestion #5 below.

Look at my examples above: “when I was a teen, one specific person….” and “Let’s call this person a lawyer in a discreet practice.” The lawyer could be a lawyer or someone who deals with sensitive information. And the teen example doesn’t give away anything personal about my friend.

In short, YOUR WORD = YOU. If you break your word, or talk about people, or spread gossip, YOUR WORD gets broken down. Your social capital goes down the drain. YOU become less trustworthy and less desirable to talk to. All you have is your name in this life. Keep it clean. Keep it spotless. Keep it trustworthy.

How to talk about secret confessions:

  1. Don’t mention identifying information.
    You may not want to say, “I have a friend who’s a laser surgeon” or “I have a friend who works at the Department of Energy.” Those are identifying. “A doctor” or “works for the government” is less identifying. “A friend” is even less identifying.
  2. Don’t say where you physically were when you talked to the person.
    “When I was visiting my friend in Florida, he told me…” The friend you’re talking to may know your friend in Florida. “Oh, Richard?” “Doh!”
  3. Be careful about “he” and “she.”
    Here’s how I get around this. I say, “A friend of mine told me this story. Let’s call my friend Emily.” I always use the name Emily. Even if it is a guy. It’s easy for me because I have practice doing this, but it will be hard the first few times you try to explain a story about a guy by saying, “So I was talking to Emily and he – she said that her boss was telling her to work 100 hours a week. Her mom was sick at the time, and Emily needed to visit her mom often. Here’s how she handled the situation….”
  4. Time frames can be identifying.
    If Yahoo wanted to buy your friend’s company in 2003 but the deal fell through, maybe it’s better not to mention 2003. If you don’t want to give out someone’s identity, just be aware that time frames – like locations – can identify a situation.
  5. Most importantly, DON’T TELL the story if you have even the slightest hunch that this could result in something uncomfortable.
    Trust your gut. If you have a sense that someone could be unhappy with you telling this story, DO NOT TELL THE STORY. It’s just that simple. This is part of being a confidant. This is part of being a friend.

And you can always talk about your friend Emily.
It’ll be interesting to see a bunch of Emily friends popping up.

On PPND, we’re having a discussion this month of what additional strengths may be worth pursuing.

Here are the nominations so far:

Are you high in one of these strengths?

Are there others you may propose?

Full list of strengths is here.

I’m reading the Handbook of Social Psychology, and came across Dan Gilbert’s chapter on “ordinary personology.” This is the study of the characteristics of individuals. However, Dan writes how one of the phrases used to describe this area of research was not such a good name for it:

“Calling this process perception is a bit like naming one’s cat Dog. The family gets used to it, but when guests arrive there is always a lot of explaining to do.” (1998, Volume 2, p.89)

Have a good “swim” today. I mean “run.”

Posted in All

Sometimes I forget.

I get caught up in “This is the most important project I should be working on!” And I forget. And then things go downhill: my mood changes (I feel rotten, don’t want to be around people, get sad more often), my attitude changes (“everything sticnks”), my drive and motivation change.

And then, one morning, I wake up and say, “Hey! I haven’t exercised all week.” What kind of example is this to clients that I’ve worked with? Whenever I’ve worked with a coaching client, he/she has “homework” between each session: a Body Exercise as well as a Mind Exercise. Ask any effective coach: the best progress for a client happens between sessions. When people are focused on gradual, deliberate change (often in the same time at the same place: more on this below). There is something to be said for consistency in life. What we do each day is what we can see as results in hindsight.

That’s why exercise seems trivial, and at the same time, exercise can decrease depression, anxiety, and stress. Even more interestingly (!), not only can exercise make us healthier, but lack of exercise can make us feel depressed (I searched for the specific result I wanted [that not doing 30 min of exercise per day is linked with increased depression], and cannot find it right now, but will find it for you later and update here; the closest immediate result I found is that lack of exercise is the key between depression and cardiovascular disease).

Just last week, 2,000 adults polled in the UK turned out to not have been exercising enough. This article says that minimum exercise for adults is 30 min per day for five days. Others say 10,000 steps per day is a good metric of exercise. Still other fitness devotees say interval cardio three times a week for 20 minutes each time, and weight lifting three times a week for under an hour.

Whatever your choice of HOW is great as long as the choice is TO DO. I’ve just returned to my choice of TO DO. I cannot believe I dropped the ball on exercise.

Me who says it’s the second most important thing towards happiness here and here.

The last thought as I go back to the large project I’m working on is based on the research by Dr. Wendy Wood at Duke: a habit is something people do at the same time in the same place. Think of brushing your teeth: same time, same exact location. How can you make exercise a habit? For me, it’s running when I wake up, and running generally the same path, but with increasing the number of minutes each week. What’s your trick?

Great summer to you!
(Or winter if you’re in Oz or NZ). :)

Lisa has a question:

How do you consciously create happiness when you are in a bad mood? People seem in bad moods lately, a lot.

I’ll be talking about:

I am on the program Live! with Lisa, and you can listen live at http://wstcwnlk.com/ (there is a big “Listen Live” button). 5pm PT / 8pm ET. (I’ll be on at about 5:15 PT (8:15pm ET)).

We welcome your calls too!
Call in during the show at 203-845-3044.

Posted in All

This is one of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen (no audio in there so don’t worry about checking your speakers):

Here’s an article that describes this. BTW, this past week, the NYT wrote an article about twitter as a rallying or gathering mechanism, and – most interesting to me – as a monitoring mechanism. There’s already a couple that had a baby kicking generate a twitter post that read: “I kicked Mommy at 08:52 PM on Fri, Jan 2!” Patients could hook up measurements like blood pressure or heart rate to twitter alert doctors of their status (remember that twitter accounts can also be private – you don’t have to be alerting the whole world).

You can follow the brain-writing-to-twitter account: @uwcbi.
You can follow me: @senia.