Showing posts with label Personal Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Stories. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Virtual Coffee – A Power Tool for Connecting

What if you had a way to give free positive publicity to one of your key connections or influencers? Would you do it?

Recently I joined the community of More Clients More Fun to learn more ways to leverage the power of LinkedIn to build strong relationships.

I was intrigued with one of the strategies suggested by the program’s creators, Ana Melikian, Paul McManus and JoAnne Henein.

What’s the idea?

Set up a “Virtual Coffee” video call with the person online and record the conversation. You conduct the interview and focus the spotlight on the other person. 

Who could you interview?

- Current clients who know you well

- Prospective clients and other connections you’d like to add value to
- Influencers whose work you admire and want to promote – such as best-selling authors or celebrity speakers
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

And what kinds of questions could you ask during such a conversation?  

A few suggestions…

What is your business/practice/role in your company all about?

Your background is X. How did you transition from that into what you’re doing today?

What is the WHY behind what you do?

Who do you serve? Who are your ideal clients?

What changes/improvements are you seeing as a result of the work you’re doing?

What’s the most rewarding part of your job/work?

What is your favorite quote and why?

How can people reach you?

The beauty of this kind of interview is that you’re truly being of service to another person. You’re providing THEM with a platform to get positive exposure without having to promote themselves.

Lisa Wozniak is an active member of the More Clients More Fun, and I sent her a connection request after seeing her on one of their recent webinars. At the end of a lively initial phone conversation, she graciously invited me to have a Virtual Coffee with her.

Lisa sent me several of the questions listed above, and I gave thought to my answers prior to our next call, which she recorded on Zoom.

What a blast! 

The result is an 18-minute video that I believe will energize and inspire you. Here’s our Virtual Coffee!
If this idea appeals to you, commit to implementing it. Make a list of a few people you’d like to interview and invite the first one.
Who knows what doors will open to other opportunities when you focus on highlighting the good work that others are doing in the world?
If you’d like to know more about More Clients More Fun, I encourage you to check out their website and sign up for their free webinar, “10-Point Checklist to Enroll More Clients Using LinkedIn.” You’ll discover several ways you can update your profile to speak to your ideal clients.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How I Recently Overcame the Need for Perfection

In his LinkedIn Riches course (which I highly recommend), John Nemo suggests you create a head-shot “About Me” video introducing yourself and place it at the bottom of your LinkedIn Summary section. It’s a terrific way for people to get to know you better because they can watch you describe the type of work you do, the audience you serve and what you offer.

When I heard about this idea, I thought it would be fairly straightforward. Boy, was I wrong!

I wholeheartedly agreed with his recommendation but kept putting it off. I had all kinds of excuses…It would be a hassle to set up the lighting, microphone and camera…I wasn’t sure what kind of message would resonate with my current and potential connections…I was concerned about how I’d come across.

All that thinking boils down to fear that the video (and therefore, I) would fall short of the ideal. Of course, this “ideal” was something that I had conjured up in my head and did not exist in reality.

My procrastination was a form of PERFECTIONISM.

For me perfectionism means having ridiculously high standards and being afraid to take action due to a fear of failure or criticism from others.

I realized that I was holding myself to standards that I would never think to impose on anyone else.

I finally took the plunge and made the commitment to get the video done immediately.

I like planning and structure, so I drafted a script that would serve as my guide. Unfortunately, I did not USE it as a guide. I actually tried to memorize the whole thing and practiced it numerous times to get the words and tone right. Not a good idea!


I enlisted my husband Lee to set up the lighting and use his camera to record the video. He is a mechanical genius, so that was smart teamwork.

When I did earlier headshot videos a few years ago, I recorded them by myself. I didn’t anticipate how self-conscious I’d feel with Lee standing behind the camera. I got distracted by thoughts of him evaluating me as I spoke (totally unfounded since I know how much he loves me) and forgot what I wanted to say next, so I had to stop and restart several times.

Another reason I stumbled over my lines was due to trying to recall and repeat the script verbatim instead of speaking from the heart.

Then we ran into technical challenges with the camera. No problem. Lee has a second one. Ha! We had issues with that one, too. That meant stopping so he could investigate the problems.

By the time he was ready, we were both mentally tired and decided to postpone the shoot until the next day.

Day 2 – SUCCESS!

The next morning I got up early so I could process the events of the previous day and figure out how to ensure a smooth recording this time.

Thinking and reflecting worked.

I had 3 insights that gave me just what I needed.

1. I realized I was taking this project WAY too seriously!

That was a huge ah-ha. When we’re in the middle of something we’ve deemed important, we tend to take ourselves very seriously – and expect the same from others.

I committed to having FUN so I could enjoy the preparation and recording process.

Big thanks to Jason Goldberg and Steve Chandler for their inspiration to take a more playful approach to everything in life with their writings and The-Not-So-Serious Life Web TV show!

2. I took a few minutes to visualize myself being relaxed and confident in my delivery.

I knew what I wanted to communicate. I just needed to calm down and remember that I was connecting with one person at a time, just like in a 1-1 conversation.

3. I gave up memorizing the script and simply outlined the key points I wanted to make.

This approach allowed me to focus on the natural flow of my words and allowed me to speak more smoothly.

I’m happy to report that I was able to record the video in the FIRST take that morning.

It’s now in my Summary section, and I’ve included it below in case you’d like to see how it turned out (3:19 minutes).

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever had a project that you took too seriously and what you did to get past your fears to complete it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Do You Talk Too Much about Yourself?

I’d arrived a few minutes at the beauty salon for my hair appointment. While I was waiting for my stylist to arrive, I couldn’t help overhearing the only other stylist who was there with a client.

“Sheila” was talking non-stop about a worker’s compensation situation involving her brother. He had been seriously injured on the job a year ago and had not worked since. Things were finally reaching a resolution, and Sheila was giving her client a blow-by-blow account of everything that had been taking place.

Soon my stylist “Beth” arrived, and we started having our own conversation when I sat down in her chair. But not for long.

Right after Sheila’s client left, she came into Beth’s area and started repeating the same story she’d just relayed to her client. I noticed that Beth gave minimal responses and after Sheila’s next appointment arrived, I found out why.

Beth told me that for the past year, Sheila has been obsessed with talking to everyone within earshot about this situation. It saddened me to discover that she’s so pre-occupied with this one challenge that she never attempts to actually engage others in a real conversation. It hasn't occur to her to stop talking about herself long enough to inquire what’s going on with her clients and coworkers.

We all face difficulties and challenges. That’s part of life.

We all need encouragement and support to get through the rough spots.

But even during those times, you can look for opportunities to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Because continually talking about you and your life pushes people away. No one will want to listen to you for long if you focus exclusively on yourself.

Instead, set aside your own pain or situation for a few minutes and ask questions about how they are doing. You’ll derive these benefits:

1. You show another human being you’re genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Learning about the ups and downs in their lives can help you put your own challenges in perspective.

2. When you shift your focus to someone else with the intention of really hearing what they have to say, you stop thinking about yourself and your own problems, at least temporarily. You’re more available mentally and emotionally to respond to the needs of another person.

3. You become more aware that the world does not revolve around you. You can start thinking of ways that you can be of service to others.

Do you have a “Sheila” in your life? Do you find yourself avoiding this person?

I know I do.

In my limited time on earth, I prefer to interact with individuals who are not self-absorbed, who do not talk incessantly about themselves and who want to learn what’s happening in the lives of those around them.

Encountering someone like Sheila reminds me how I do and do not want to be around others, because one of my goals is to contribute something of value with each interaction.

“Genuine wisdom is usually conspicuous through modesty and silence. – Napoleon Hill

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Conversations Overheard on a Blueberry Farm

Every summer my husband Lee and I visit a local blueberry farm to pick spray-free berries and stock up with a year’s supply. We usually avoid going on Saturday because of the crowd. But on this particular weekend, that was the only day we could go.

Lee and I are serious berry pickers.

We don’t talk much to each other during our time in the field. Instead, we focus on finding only the best, ripest berries and filling our buckets.

But apparently, for a lot of folks, picking berries is the preferred way to socialize with family and friends.

Since we’re not talking, we easily hear the conversations of those in close proximity.

Being the observer of people I am, I can’t help but notice the differences in the types of exchanges that take place, especially between adults and the children with them.

And I once again marvel at the opportunities adults have for positive influencing (or not) the young people in their charge.

Here are some exchanges that stood out for me…and why. (Note: Ages cited for children are best guesses, not verified).

Most ENDEARING (Mother and 5-year old Daughter)

Daughter: Mommy, here are some berries I picked. You can put them in your bucket.

Mother: Why thank you, honey. That’s very kind of you to share with me.

Daughter: Of course! You’re my mommy, and I love you.

My take: Children don’t naturally become sensitive to the needs of others. It takes effort on the part of their parents to help them become less self-centered. This brief exchange, along with other comments they shared, illustrated that this mother has invested time teaching her daughter to be thoughtful and considerate.

Most ANNOYING (Grandmother with 8 year-old Girl and 10-year old Boy)

Boy: It’s getting too hot out here, Grandma. (actual temperature: low 80s)

Girl: Yeah, I’m starting to get all sweaty.

Grandmother: It’s not fun when you got hot and sweaty. Would you like to quit now?

My take: I wanted to jump through the bushes and shake this woman when I heard her reply to these two whiners. It was a beautiful, sunny day – perfect for being outdoors. Instead of encouraging the kids to enjoy their time outside or assuring them that sweat is the body’s natural response or any other comment that would have communicated they had no basis for complaining, she sympathized with them. Her response did nothing to help these children develop mental and physical toughness.

Most HUMOROUS (Man at edge of field and Grandfather in middle of field)

Man: Is there a Grandpa King out there somewhere?

Grandfather: Yes, here I am!

Man: Great, I’ve got your grandson with me. He couldn’t find you.

Grandfather: Good luck to you! (everyone in the entire field laughs in unison)

My take: Later at the barn when we were paying for our berries, we saw the grandfather with his wife and grandson. Their interactions showed that he had probably only been half-joking with his earlier response. He didn’t seem to be enjoying his time with the boy. No matter what the grandson said or did, the man had a critical comeback. While I know children can try your patience, you can always find something to praise and affirm if you’re paying attention.

As adults, we’ve established closely-held beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of. What we heard about ourselves as children from those whose approval means most to us – such as parents and grandparents – goes a long way to shaping the way we see ourselves.

No matter what role you have in the lives of the young people you interact with, you have the power with your words to enrich or diminish their self-image and the way they view the world.

And come to think of it, you also wield that same influence with everyone you interact with, no matter what their age.

“Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming.” 
- Haim Ginott, child psychologist, 1922-1973)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reflections on Our 2014 Family Reunion

In 1988 my parents organized the first family reunion for me and my 5 siblings, our spouses and children. At that time there were 17 of us. Today we number 34.

And yet, every 3-4 years most of us have been able to gather together at the beach, thanks to the generosity of Mom and Dad.

This year was the first time we were missing the key person who made it all possible: DAD

My mother had mixed feelings about having another reunion after his death in November of 2012. But she and Dad had always said these reunions were one of the best investments they’d ever made. They took great joy in watching their children and other family members have fun together and form strong bonds.

And so, Mom decided she wanted to continue the tradition. We all came together last week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

What she and the rest of us didn't know was that my sister’s husband Gary had figured out a way for us to “see” Dad all week. Gary designed a banner that included our favorite picture of Dad from a previous reunion, along with purple letters and gold lines (LSU colors).

During dinner the first night, Gary slipped out with two of the guys and hung the banner so it would be visible anytime you looked out from the house.

When he came back inside, he guided Mom over to the gigantic sliding doors. The rest of us followed behind. The tears flowed freely at the moment we all looked out and saw that beautiful tribute to the man who’d made these reunions possible.

Every day we could feel Dad’s spirit with us as we ate meals, laughed together or played in the pool below the banner. We knew he’d take great pride in the fun we were having.

The banner had to be taken down Thursday evening as the threat of Hurricane Arthur loomed near. But that wasn't the end of it.

Friday evening Gary spread the banner on one of the dining room tables and encouraged everyone to write a note on it, expressing what the week had meant to them. Reading those beautiful, heart-felt messages stimulated more tears and hugs as we reminisced about Dad and what he’d meant to our family.

As I now reflect on that special week, I’m filled with gratitude for the legacy Dad left to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yes, we’ve been enriched by his thriftiness and generosity, which made these special times with family possible. But more importantly, we continue to aspire to be better human beings because of his own humble, kind and sensitive nature. His spirit will inspire us for the rest of our lives.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Motivating Others – What Doesn’t Work

I vividly recall a scene from 8th grade, even though it happened almost 50 years ago.

I attended a Catholic school, and many of the teachers were nuns.

On this particular day, Sister “Mary” had just walked back into the classroom. We could tell she was angry but no one could guess why. She marched up to a student whose desk was in the front row, and she commanded him to stand.

When he did, she slapped his face and sternly said, “Your desk is out of line!”

His face turned bright red, most likely from embarrassment and the sting from the slap. He straightened his desk and sheepishly slithered back into his seat.

This was not the first or only occasion that Sister Mary delivered a slap to a male student that year.

While the girls were spared such physical abuse, they did endure degrading verbal attacks.

Sister Mary controlled the students in her classroom using fear and humiliation.

That approach worked if you measured results by compliance.

We were scared into a level of obedience that squelched any spark of individuality or creativity.

I’m sure Sister Mary thought she was teaching us valuable lessons. But in fact, she created an environment where students silently resented her actions and couldn’t wait to get away from her.

She had no clue about what it takes to motivate young people to give their best effort.

Unfortunately, some adults today continue to use such tactics to intimidate people at work, at home or at school. In their roles as boss, parent or teacher, they require strict observance of their rules. When those rules are not followed, there’s hell to pay.

There’s no attempt to understand the needs or wants of others. No interest in having a reasonable conversation to discuss alternative points of view.

And so, those affected by the person in authority can end up feeling threatened, humiliated or afraid. They might conform to the requirements, but they are repelled by the leader’s behavior.

They’re likely to become angry and resentful about the treatment they’re receiving. They may be outraged at the unfairness they’re experiencing personally or observing happen to others.

If you’re in a position to influence others, take a close look at your own approach.

As a parent, how do you respond when your children ask questions that challenge one of your rules? How often do you invite them to tell you the reasons behind requests they make so you can truly understand their perspective?

As a leader, what do you say or do to communicate to others that you value their ideas and contributions? That you appreciate who they are?

On a daily basis, examine ways that you may intimidate the important people in your life. Look closely at what you do or don't do to encourage and support them.

If you’re not sure how they perceive you, just ask what they’d like you to do more of and what they’d like you to do less of. You’ll discover what would truly motivate them to give their best.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Lesson in Courage from Wood Ducks

Nature shows are favorites for my husband Lee and me.

They allow us glimpses into the animal kingdom that would otherwise be hidden from us.

An added benefit: Watching these creatures in action often gives us valuable insights for our own lives.

Take for example, the young wood ducks featured in the 2103 Emmy award-winning PBS Nature Program, An Original DUCKumentary.

The mother wood duck lays her eggs in a tree cavity, up to 70 feet above the forest floor. Although she lays just one egg per day, the chicks all hatch on the same day. And just 24 hours later, they’re ready to greet the world.

First, the mother flies out from the nest and lands on the ground nearby. Then she starts calling her babies to join her. One by one they venture to the edge of the nest hole. At this point, their wings are not developed and they’re incapable of flying. So you wonder, how are they going to get out of there alive?

The first one looks out, hesitates for just a moment, and then jumps. You watch incredulously, thinking it’s headed for certain death. But instead, this one-ounce ball of fluff lands softly on a bed of leaves. The others follow in turn, and together they pursue their mother’s voice, waddling behind her as she leads them to the water.

The scene is remarkable. We were holding our collective breaths, wondering how these delicate creatures could possibly survive such a fall. This brief video (1:33 min) shows exactly how they do it.

There’s no place for fear or self-doubt with these young birds. They’re driven by the need to be with their mother, and this burning goal over-rides the brief uncertainty they might experience just before making their tremendous leap.

For me, it’s a valuable lesson in courage.

As humans, we have the unique ability to reason and imagine potential consequences, often to our detriment. We can over-think the situation and allow ourselves to get caught up in negative emotions – projecting bad things that could happen if we take a specific action.

This can lead to indecision and inaction as we become paralyzed due to fear of failure, concern about criticism from others, or doubts about our own abilities.

Next time you feel afraid due to uncertainty about the future, recall the wood duck chicks taking that leap with no assurance of how they’ll land. Summon the courage to act, and you can benefit no matter what happens, as Norman Vincent Peale so wisely observed:

"Too much caution is bad for you. By avoiding things you fear, you may let yourself in for unhappy consequences. It is usually wiser to stand up to a scary-seeming experience and walk right into it, risking the bruises as hard knocks. You are likely to find it is not as tough as you had thought. Or you may find it plenty tough, but also discover you have what it takes to handle it."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding Composure Under Stress

It was a tremendous opportunity.

I’d been invited to speak to 900 entrepreneurs at the fall conference of GKIC, a leading provider of marketing information and tools for building small businesses.

I used to deliver training programs and speak on stage regularly, but that hasn’t been a primary focus for me in more than two decades.

While I was excited about the chance I’d be given, I knew I needed to prepare thoroughly. I’d been a member of this organization for years and had attended many of their meetings. I understood all too well how diverse the membership was and the challenge of creating a message that would captivate and inspire the audience to action.

I crafted my presentation with almost 100 PowerPoint slides, to keep the pace moving fast and hold the attention of the audience.

I rehearsed until I was comfortable with the material and my pace.

With all that preparation, I was still not prepared for what happened when I took the stage.

My mouth went absolutely dry.

I’d never experienced that feeling, in all the talks I’d given in the past.

I felt uncomfortable about taking a drink of water before I even spoke my first words, so I jumped right in. But I was self-conscious of the way I sounded and became distracted.

On top of that, the remote for changing slides had functions in different places than the one I was used to, so I made some early mistakes when changing the initial slides.

I could feel the anxiety building in my body, and I was concerned it would carry over into my voice.

So I paused to get a sip of water, took a deep breath, and reminded myself why I was there. “I am here to serve. They need to hear my message.”

It was as though a switch got turned on inside my head.

In an instant I was able to harness the positive energy I had for my topic and let go of the stress that had threatened to overtake me.

After 5 minutes of faltering, I went on to deliver an excellent presentation in the remaining 55 minutes.

As I later thought about the experience, of course, I wished that I could have made a stronger start.

But I also made sure to give myself credit for maintaining my composure instead of giving in to the fear and panic that bubbled up.

It’s not easy to maintain your cool and keep your feelings under control in the face of adversity. It’s tempting to let emotions take over.

Unfortunately, that can lead to undesirable consequences.

When you take time – even if it’s just a quick minute – to think about the potential impact of such an outburst on you and the people around you, you’re more likely to calm yourself and respond appropriately.

The more often you’re able to engage composure, the easier it will be for you to stay calm in the midst of unexpected situations.

“If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” 
- Dean Smith, American college basketball coach (1931- )

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Best Kind of Accountability Coach

Several years ago we retained the services of a marketing consultant who gave us some terrific ideas for growing our business.

In the process of working together, I got to know “Brian” well, both personally and professionally. On occasion, he’d confide in me about challenges he was facing with his college-age son.

I remember one time in particular.

Brian described how he’d responded to one of his son’s many requests. I was dumbfounded. This dad was clearly engaging in what any counselor would call “enabling” behavior – doing something for another person that he should be doing for himself. Creating dependence. Not preparing this young man to become a responsible, successful adult.

I made the decision in a split-second to jump in with both feet and ask him some hard questions.

Questions that forced him to think about the consequences of his actions.

He was clearly uncomfortable trying to come up with responses to my questions, but I persisted. I could envision the disastrous father-son relationship unfolding with all kinds of undesirable outcomes. I felt compelled to help Brian see what could happen if he continued to rescue his son.

Later, Brian thanked me and said that conversation was a turning point in their relationship.

And then he used a phrase to describe me that I cherish to this day:


I pride myself on speaking the truth to people, but I try to do it gently, to maintain the other person’s dignity and self-esteem.

I got to thinking…we all need at least one person in our lives who’s willing to be that kind of coach for us, an accountability coach.

Your motivation increases – sometimes by a factor of 10 or more – when you know you have to answer to someone else for your actions.

The founders of 12-step programs understood this. When people start attending meetings, they are encouraged to get a “sponsor.” This is a person who will be there to support them and ask the hard questions to keep them on track.

If you’re trying to make a significant change in your life – whether it’s related to your career, a personal relationship, an addiction, eating habits, or exercise routine – make it a priority to find someone who will agree to be your accountability coach.

This person’s main job is to contact you regularly and ask whether you did what you said you were going to do.

Knowing you’ll have to face this person’s questions helps you stay on track during moments of weakness, distraction or potential excuse-making.

Who’s the best person to ask?

1. Someone you trust. You’re going to be opening yourself up to scrutiny and making yourself vulnerable. So you have to feel confident that he or she will have your best interest at heart and keep confidential anything you share.

2. Someone who will be honest with you. Who would make the best “velvet hammer” for you? You need a person who will tell you the truth without sugar-coating it.

3. Someone who’s willing to contact you regularly. Who can you count on to follow through and stick with the schedule you both agree to? Consistency is key here, so you need a person you can depend on.

Having an accountability coach doesn't have to take a lot of time for either party. The goal is to keep you on track with frequent touch-points. Your coach’s role is to ask questions that reveal if you've been completing the actions you committed to. You can even create the questions you want the person to ask you. After all, YOU know better than anyone what you want to achieve…and what sort of accountability structure will best keep you on track.

If you’d like to investigate a technology that combines a proven process for building new habits with a group of support coaches, check out ProStar Coach. A one-year subscription to this online development system can help you develop the strengths and skills you need to be strong for every aspect of your life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Help Your Children Learn How to Manage Money

The habits that parents help their children establish while growing up carry over into adult life. Take money, for example.

Kids who are given whatever they ask for don’t appreciate what it takes to work for something you really want. They can easily develop an “entitlement” mindset with adverse consequences later.

Imagine the difference if instead, they learn that when you want something, you have to put forth effort to make it a reality. It doesn’t magically appear out of thin air.

When our daughter Alison turned 13, we decided to give her a clothing allowance. Each month she knew she would receive a set amount of money that she could spend on clothes. And by the way, it wasn’t a generous amount.

She could blow it all on a single blouse or pair of shoes, or she could take advantage of sales, discount coupons and consignment shops to stretch her dollars.

She also understood that she couldn't come back to her dad and me to make up the difference if there were a big-ticket item she wanted to purchase. No, she had to find a way to earn the money. Or she had to save up the allowance over a number of months.

She quickly learned it was fruitless to ask us for more. We’d simply require her to figure out for herself how she was going to buy something she claimed to desperately want.

Yes, at times she complained. Her other friends didn't have these kinds of restrictions, their parents were more lenient, etc. But this occasional whining didn't faze us. We firmly believed that learning how money works in the real world was a critical life skill we needed to teach her.

During her junior year in high school, the French teacher decided to set up a trip to France for the students. Alison was beside herself with excitement about the prospect of visiting that country. When she presented us with the total price for the trip, we agreed that she could go if she paid for half the expenses.

After an initial protest, she started figuring out ways to earn the money. And she did. I’m convinced she enjoyed the trip all the more because she had to invest her own money in the adventure.

It’s been a decade since Alison was a teenager, and these thrifty habits have continued into her adult life.

She and her husband love to travel, and Alison approaches each trip as a personal challenge to combine economy with luxury.

Recently they went to New York City, stayed at the Waldorf Astoria and enjoyed many fabulous meals. But it didn't cost them a fortune because she had applied her finely-honed sleuthing skills to uncover terrific deals online.

Whether it’s clothing, home furnishings or food, she seeks out bargains. You’ll rarely see her pay full price for anything, and she’s taught her dad and me some great tips for shopping at consignment shops and thrift stores.

Her personal money management skills influenced her career choice, too. She works in the financial investment industry, helping people make the most of their money as they plan for the future. She absolutely loves her work and feels a deep sense of satisfaction in guiding others to think about their long-term financial needs.

As parents, one of our most important jobs is to prepare our children to become independent, responsible adults. When they learn how to manage money, they acquire other strengths they’ll need for life, such as self-discipline, patience and effort.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Are You Living a BIG, FULL Life?

I was sitting in one of the church pews with my husband, daughter Alison and son-in-law. We were attending the funeral of a good friend, the father of one of Alison’s best friends.

His death had come as a shock. Just two weeks before, he’d been admitted into the hospital for a medical problem…and now he was gone.

The church was packed with family, friends, church members, and patients from his dental practice.

During the service, four people delivered touching eulogies. Reactions alternated between tears and laughter as each person shared special memories of their relationship with Harold.

The first speaker had been Harold’s friend for more than 50 years. They had met their first year at the University of Richmond and remained close throughout the decades.

And he was not alone. There were more than a dozen other men in attendance who could trace their relationship with Harold back to those early college years.

I found it remarkable that Harold had managed to maintain strong friendships with all these people. They had shared a love of U of Richmond football and basketball, attending games together whenever possible over the years. As the friend said, Harold was not a fan, he was a “fanatic” about the Richmond Spiders. Clearly, many of his buddies shared his passion and were equally committed to honoring their friend by attending this service.

The second speaker was a retired minister who had gotten to know Harold as pastor and friend almost 30 years before when he’d been assigned to this church. Again, he and Harold had remained close throughout the years, even as the pastor’s assignments had taken him hundreds of miles away.

Third up was Harold’s oldest of 5 grandsons, a 20-year old college student. He warned us that he was going to cry, and he did…along with everyone else in the church. He delivered a moving tribute to his grandfather, sharing some of their experiences and adventures. It was obvious he deeply admired the man he called “Grandpa” and would be forever impacted by the love and memories they’d created together.

Last to speak was Harold’s daughter, Alison’s friend, who is now an ordained minister herself. Despite her sorrow in the unexpected loss of her father, she was able to pay homage to her dad through her stories about their relationship. She spoke of his high expectations for her throughout her growing-up years. You could tell that, even as an adult, she held his opinion in high regard and valued his approval.

What came across loud and clear as each person spoke was the love and commitment that Harold had for those in his world. Each one recalled how kind and thoughtful he was. He took a genuine interest in others and was always eager to hear what was important to them.

This carried through in his work as well, where he practiced dentistry for over 30 years. He created a caring environment where his staff loved coming to work and his patients actually looked forward to going to the dentist. Many of them were loyal patients for all those years, bringing their children and grandchildren to his practice.

His wife Kathy said that he’d lived a BIG, FULL life. What a great statement. And it had nothing to do with the places he traveled or the money he earned.

No, Harold lived a life dedicated to creating special, memorable experiences for those he loved, just by his presence. He squeezed every ounce of enjoyment from everything he did, and he enriched the lives of all who were privileged to know him.

Think about your own life. What are you doing to make sure it’s BIG and FULL?

“Life is not a ‘brief candle.’ It is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations.” 
- George Bernard Shaw, British playwright (1856-1950)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Do You React When Others Make Mistakes?

It was the end of a great week-end.

I had coordinated a 3-day field trip for people who love bird-watching. My husband Lee and I had helped lead groups to various locations around the Outer Banks.

We had 80 attendees, and everything had gone according to plan – lots of birds, good weather and friendly people.

After the tally on the last day – where we gather together and add up all the species seen – several people came up to me to thank me for a great weekend.

I was feeling pretty good until one woman approached me after the others had dispersed.

Everything about her body language screamed that she had strong negative feelings associated with what she was about to say.

“Meg” introduced herself and reminded me that she had registered for the trip via email a few weeks earlier. She was offended that, in my confirmation email, I had asked her if she was a member because her name was not on my copy of the membership roster.

She had replied with a caustic email saying she was a member and added a few other choice words. It turns out she had just paid her dues the week before, and she was quite annoyed that I didn't have the most current membership list to see that she had paid.

In my email response to that message, I apologized to her and even thanked her for setting me straight. I explained that my membership roster was 2 weeks old so I didn't have her name on my list.

But apparently that wasn't good enough.

She felt the need to continue the complaint in person.

I was taken aback and at a loss for words as I listened to her criticism of our process.

I couldn't imagine why anyone would get so upset over such a small thing. Why couldn't she let it go?

I can’t know that answer for sure, of course. But I can speculate, based on my decades of life on the planet interacting with other human beings...

When you don’t have strong self-esteem, it’s easy to take things personally.

You feel threatened by a perceived offense and react negatively. If you’re like Meg, your preferred mode is to verbally attack the other person.

It’s unfortunate, because this type of reaction only serves to damage relationships. Instead of drawing others to you so they can affirm your worth and value, they are repelled.

I feel sad for people like Meg because she chose to overlook the positives and focus on the negative. And then to dwell on those negatives for several days.

After all, this exchange of email messages had taken place weeks earlier.

The lessons I took away?

Be gracious when another person makes a mistake. You've made mistakes, too, and hope others won’t hold them against you indefinitely.

It’s unhealthy – mentally and physically – to allow negative emotions to dominate your way of being. Let go of perceived offenses as quickly as possible.

Don’t assume it’s about YOU. It probably isn't.

Every person you encounter has challenges and struggles. You can brighten their day…or cast a dark cloud over it. Your choice.

“Often we allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances that, in a year's time, will be forgotten by us and by everybody. No, let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections and enduring undertakings.” 
- André Maurois, French author (1885-1967)

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Magic Questions for Learning from Your Experiences

Several years ago I attended a large conference for entrepreneurs, with more than 1,000 attendees. The night before the official event kicked off, I was able to attend an exclusive reception for just 100 people. It represented a terrific opportunity to meet potential partners and clients.

After most guests had arrived, the host passed around a microphone so each person could give a 30-second introduction. The idea was to say something compelling about your business so those who might be interested in your products and services could seek you out later.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go first. I wasn't sure of the best approach.

When it my turn did come, I felt like I blew it.

I didn't exude confidence. I didn't grab their attention. Not a single person came up to me afterwards.

During the rest of the reception, I spent a ridiculous amount of time beating myself up for not taking full advantage of that opportunity.

My inner critic was running rampant.

When I got back to my hotel room, I knew I needed to do something to let go of this incident. Otherwise, I’d waste valuable time and energy dwelling on something I couldn’t change…and feeling bad about myself in the process.

In our ProStar Coach system, we teach five questions to help a person process a situation, to draw out lessons learned and make improvements the next time.

We call them “magic” questions because they are truly transformational.

I decided to write out the answers these questions. It would force my brain to think about the situation in a different light.

1. What Happened? What was the sequence of events? Who did what?

2. Why did it happen that way? What were the causes?

3. What were the consequences? Think about the impact of the event. Outcomes? Benefits? Costs? Problems? Resolutions?

4. How would you handle a similar situation in the future? What lessons can you take away that you can apply if this happens again?

5. What will you do NOW? What is your next step?

I wrote down my answers to each question on a piece of paper. Completing this exercise helped me stop thinking about what I’d done and forced me to focus on creating a positive outcome in the future.

The process of thinking through those questions gave me an amazing amount of insight and helped me let go of the past. The endless replays of the earlier scene stopped.

When you encounter a situation that doesn't go the way you’d hoped, take a few minutes to answer these questions.

Don’t just think about them. Write out or type your responses.

This reflection process is one of the most powerful tools available for letting go of the past and creating a positive attitude about the future.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How Quickly Do You Get to a Place of Acceptance?

On the first day of 2014, my husband and I had a terrific fall/winter garden in place, with rows of healthy vegetables like kale (3 varieties), collards and broccoli growing nicely. But then the bitterly cold weather hit a few weeks later, with temperatures in the single-digits.

And all those lovely veggies got decimated overnight.

I allowed myself a few minutes of feeling frustrated and disappointed. We’d invested a lot of time in sowing and caring for all those plants…and then they were gone in less than a day.

But I quickly realized there was nothing I could do to change the outcome, and now we’re focused on plans for our spring garden.

When it comes to Mother Nature, I reach a level of acceptance rather quickly. I recognize that what happens with the weather is totally out of my control, and I don’t expend a lot of energy wishing for a different outcome.

But in situations involving human beings, accepting reality can be trickier.

One reason: We think we have the power to influence another person’s behavior.

And of course, sometimes you can.

But the fact is, for many situations, you have absolutely no control over people’s actions. Just a few examples…
  • A family member drinks too much, eats unhealthy foods, smokes or has some other bad habit that concerns you.

  • A potential client indicates she’s eager to work with you or buy your product, and another decision-maker in her organization shoots down the idea so the deal is dead.

  • A friend promises to help you with an important activity but has to cancel at the last minute. This is not the first time he has failed to come through for you.
When you find yourself in circumstances like these, you have a choice about your response.

You can stew and fuss about what the other person did or did not do. This expends precious emotional and mental energy by focusing on the negative.

You can replay individual scenes repeatedly in your mind, thinking about what happened and what you wish had occurred instead. This rehash of the past is futile. You cannot change what has already transpired.

You can accept the reality of what happened or is happening and move on.

This last one is tough, because you may not want to stare the truth in the face. Or you prefer to make excuses. Or blame the person, your bad luck or some other external event.

But facing the truth is the only option that can bring you to a place of calm and peace.

Acceptance is all about seeing and acknowledging what IS.

As psychologist Nathaniel Branden brilliantly observed: "Accepting does not necessarily mean 'liking,' 'enjoying,' or 'condoning.' I can accept what is—and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck."

Next time something happens to you – or someone does something – that elicits a negative reaction from you, monitor your thoughts and self-talk.

The faster you can recognize the reality of the situation, the faster you'll be able to  make positive, healthy choices about your next step.

“Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” - Virginia Satir, American psychologist (1916-1988)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to Make Someone Feel Special…or Not

This year my primary care physician got promoted to an administrative position, so I needed to find a new doctor.

I decided to go to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) due to what I’d read about their approach to treating patients: “DOs combine today's medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patients, with their eyes to see their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and illness.” (from American Osteopathic Association website)

Unfortunately, I did not choose well, and I will not be going back to this DO for future check-ups.

What “Doctor Smith” did and did not do is instructive for all of us.

When meeting someone for the first time – whether in your business or personal life – there are simple actions you can take to make a strong, positive first impression. And there are other behaviors that really turn off the other person and make it difficult to get the relationship off the ground.

Here are 5 things Doctor Smith did that convinced me I did not want to return.

1. He did not introduce himself.

The exam began with the nurse asking me questions about my medical history and entering my responses into their computer system. When Doctor Smith entered the room afterwards, the nurse left and he went straight to the computer and started reviewing what was on the screen.

He didn’t look at me, say hello, state his name or confirm who I was. I had to assume he was my new doctor.

Lesson: It’s so basic! When you first meet someone, a warm handshake accompanied by a friendly greeting help put the person at ease.

2. He never had direct eye contact with me. 

During the entire time I was there, Dr. Smith looked mostly at the computer screen. A few times he glanced over my way but not once connected with my eyes. He couldn’t have described me to someone if he’d been required to do so.

Lesson: When someone is trying to have a conversation with you, have the courtesy to give your full attention and look at them as they’re speaking.

3. He interrupted me.

While he was looking at my lipid profile, I started to talk about the fact that I was concerned about my HDL number being low and I’d changed my diet in an effort to raise it. Before I could finish my sentence, he jumped in and said that modifying my diet wouldn’t do any good and that my number was just fine.

A few other times he cut me off as I was attempting to say something. I finally gave up.

Lesson: If people are trying to tell you something – let them finish! Even though you may think you know where they’re going, or you wish they’d get to the point faster, it’s important to let them express their complete thought before you jump in.

4. He did not ask questions.

Dr. Smith didn’t attempt to learn anything about me – either personally or professionally. I got the distinct feeling that he was just running through a drill, checking off all the requirements to cover for an initial visit.

Lesson: If you really want to connect with someone, ask open-ended questions that reflect a genuine interest in learning more about their interests and their life. Most people prefer to talk about themselves, so you will stand out when you focus on listening more than talking.

5. He corrected me.

At one point as Dr. Smith was reviewing my blood work from the previous year (looking at the computer monitor, of course), he commented that it all looked good. I said I was surprised he had that report in his records since I had the blood drawn at a different healthcare system. In fact, I’d brought a hard copy to give him because I’d assumed he wouldn't have access to it.

He said I must be wrong about where I had my blood work done, that I must have come to his medical building. I replied that I had never stepped into that building before this day and I clearly recalled where I had gone. He continued to insist I must have forgotten.

Lesson: Give up the need to convince people that you’re right. No one likes to be told they’re wrong, and it’s especially annoying if the other person knows you are the one who’s mistaken. Be gracious and acknowledge, “You could be right.”

What I’d hoped would be a positive experience with a new physician turned into a huge disappointment.

It didn't have to be that way.

It served as an important reminder that each time we interact with another human being, we have the opportunity to make that person feel valued…or overlooked.

You have that choice every day with every person you encounter.

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee." - Marian Wright Edelmen, American activist (1939- )

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do You Overlook the Obvious?

Several years ago, my business partner Denny Coates and I used to travel a lot, conducting training programs for clients.

I distinctly remember one of our trips because of the lesson we learned one evening at our hotel.

It was our first day in town, and we had just gone out for a bite to eat. When we returned, we decided to park near a side entrance to the hotel since our rooms were far from the lobby entrance.

When we got to the door, we saw a sign that said, “Use room key to open door.”

Back then, magnetic room keys were fairly new. I knew how to use them to open my room because the lock box is right there on the door. But I didn't see any lock box next to the entrance where I could insert my key.

I turned to Denny and said, “Do you see where I’m supposed to put my key?”


We pride ourselves on being pretty resourceful and quick to come up with workable solutions.

But this had us stumped.

There appeared to be nowhere that I could insert or slide my key to get the door to open.

I even resorted to sliding the card along the area where I could see the lock. But honestly, I felt pretty foolish doing that because I was certain that wouldn't work.

And it didn't.

We were ready to give up and walk around to the lobby when another hotel guest approached the door from inside the building and came out. She held the door open for us.

I thanked her, showed her my key so she’d know we were legitimate guests, and told her why we were standing there.

She said, “Oh, the place to insert your key is right here.”

She stepped about a foot away from the door and pointed to one of the same lock boxes that was on our hotel room doors. It was not right next to the door. But you only had to step back a few steps to see it.

Neither Denny nor I had thought to do this.

Instead, we had looked at each other befuddled and had not been able to see the solution, which was less than a foot away.

We felt silly and then laughed about it for a long time afterwards.

Even though you may not have encountered a situation exactly like this, I bet you've faced something similar.

You get so close to a problem that you aren't able to see the solution. And often it’s right in front of you. Your emotions or other filters get in the way of seeing what’s right there.

Next time you find yourself struggling with an issue, take a step back – literally or figuratively. Ask yourself what you might be overlooking.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from someone who’s less emotionally involved. That person may have the objectivity and insight to help you see what you need to do. Or at least point out other options.

“The obscure we eventually see. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.” - Edward R. Murrow, American journalist (1908-1965)

“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” - Alan Watts, American philosopher (1915-1973)

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." - Henri Bergson, French philosopher (1859-1941)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Making a Commitment Is Serious Business

One of my younger brothers was 34 years old when he got married. In his twenties, he was more interested in pursuing his career, hanging out with his friends and going to college football games. During that time he dated several young women.

He knew that he wasn't ready to make the commitment to be with one person for the rest of his life.

It turns out that my brother was smart to realize this about himself. Several of his friends who had married young went through divorces before they were 30.

Of course, the issues around commitment aren't limited to young people or even to marriage.

Many times we jump into something without fully understanding the resolve and dedication required to make the endeavor successful – whether it’s pursuing a degree, starting a new job, joining a gym to get in shape or starting a weight loss program.

We may not anticipate the rough spots we’ll encounter because we have an unrealistic view of what to expect or we simply haven’t thought it through.

If you approach such important life choices with limited information and consideration, you may give up at the first sign of trouble. As legendary football coach Lou Holtz wisely observed:
“If you do not make a total commitment to whatever you are doing, then you start looking to bail out the first time the boat starts leaking.”
The solution is to get involved with your eyes open. Find out what a goal will require from you. Recognize that you may have to give up time, freedom and other things that were once important to you. Then decide if you want to make that kind of commitment.

One of the most quoted lines from the Star Wars movies came from Yoda:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
NBA basketball coach Pat Riley expressed that same sentiment this way:
"There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or out. There's no such thing as a life in-between.”
And once you decide to move forward, you can expect to experience some doubts. You’ll wonder if it’s worth sticking with what you said you’d do.

Because you will run into roadblocks, conflicts and even criticism from others. It’s going to happen anytime you undertake a worthy goal.

When these obstacles kick in, take time to reflect on your reasons for making the commitment in the first place. Remember and re-feel the positive emotions you felt. Renew your motivation by visualizing the end-result you want to achieve.

"I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret." - Anthony Robbins, American author (1960- )

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Group Intervention at Work

Several years ago I was supervising a team of ten people, and most of them got along well.

But over time, I picked up serious rumblings from four of them about “Rita,” one of the team members.

They had legitimate complaints about her performance related to lack of cooperation and sharing of information. They found her difficult to approach and talk to.

I contemplated talking with Rita myself, but that violated one of my deeply-held beliefs:

When you give constructive feedback, it should be from first-hand observation.
I had not seen these behaviors myself so I wasn’t comfortable addressing them with her.

Another option was to insist each person talk with Rita individually. I wasn’t sure how effective that would be, since emotions were running high by that point. And these four individuals did not possess expert feedback skills.

So I decided to do something radical.

I set up a group intervention.

Interventions are sometimes necessary when someone is in denial about an aspect of their behavior, and the opinion of just one person doesn’t get their attention or carry much weight.

An intervention brings together a group of people who care about that person’s future and are willing to speak the truth together. This has been done with positive impact for decades with alcoholics and drug addicts.

A skilled facilitator guides each participant in advance to write out the specific behaviors that have created a problem, including these components of constructive feedback:
1 – Describe the specific behavior.
2 – Share your reaction and feelings.
3 – Explain the impact on you or others.
4 – State what you need from this person.

A sample statement would be something like this:
When you [negative behavior], I feel [feeling] because [negative impact]. What I’d like you to do instead is [desired behavior].

I figured that I could follow the same process to get Rita’s attention and influence her future performance. She was a valued employee and I didn't want to lose her. I also wanted to teach the others how to give appropriate feedback.

First, I met with the four individuals as a group and explained what we were going to do. I gave them the four components to include in their feedback and required them to write down what they were going to say.

I then reviewed what they’d written and coached them on ways to word their message to be factual and non-judgmental.

Boy, were they nervous. They’d never done anything like this before, and they weren't sure how Rita would react. They were concerned she would feel we were ganging up on her.

I tried to reassure them that the outcome would be positive.

On the morning of the intervention, I met with Rita a few minutes before we were to gather. I explained to her that we were about to have a meeting that was just for her. I assured her that I cared a lot about her as a person and as an employee. I explained that some of her team members had concerns about her behavior and wanted to share those with her. And I said I’d be facilitating the process to make sure everything that was said would be appropriate.

I entered the room with Rita, and the others were already seated in chairs that I had arranged in a circle. Rita slid into one of the empty chairs, and I sat across from her, with the others on either side of us. I wanted to be able to see everyone, but especially Rita.

I opened by stating that we had come together because each person in the room had something to say to Rita, and they wanted to do it in a way that would be helpful to her and to them.

The team members took turns sharing their feedback, and Rita was given an opportunity to respond after each one. What ensued was a dialogue that clarified the real issues and led to agreements for future action.

At one point, another team member, “Kate” placed her notes beneath her chair and sighed. She realized that she had contributed to some of the problems. The blame didn’t lie exclusively with Rita. Kate shared responsibility for the problem. She actually apologized to Rita and everyone else for the part she had played to worsen the situation.

The entire group came together in ways I could not have predicted.

After that day, they became less afraid to address a minor issue head-on, before it grew into a big problem. They even encouraged each other to speak up in meetings.

Too often constructive feedback takes the form of criticism and blame, and it’s filled with emotion. That’s because we wait too long to speak up.

Follow this simple 4-step model the next time you need to address an issue with someone. You’ll find that you stay calmer and the other person will likely react less defensively.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The No. 1 Worst Listening Turn-Off

I was trying to have a conversation with this person.

But I found myself getting irritated with one thing he kept doing…interrupting me in the middle of a sentence and talking over me.

It became impossible to carry on a conversation because it seemed like I was never able to articulate a complete thought.

This is an extreme case, but unfortunately, interrupting is a common occurrence.

We all do it at times. We get an idea while someone else is telling their story, and we blurt out what we want to say whether the speaker has finished or not.

So how can you avoid falling into this trap?

The first step is to catch yourself doing this. If you quickly apologize and stop talking, there’s no harm done. The speaker can pick up where she left off.

The problem is, you may be oblivious to this habit. And you could be ticking people off without realizing it.

This happened with my business partner Paula and me a few months ago. Since we’re a small company, we each juggle a lot of balls. And when we get on the phone to coordinate our projects, we’re moving fast. If one of us is talking and pauses for a second to catch our breath, the other sometimes jumps in too quickly. Or interrupts mid-sentence.

Fortunately, we both became aware of this unproductive pattern at about the same time. We discussed what we were doing – and why – and agreed to work on recognizing when we were doing it as we were doing it and give each other real-time feedback.

This solution has worked well. She’ll say, “You’re interrupting me” if I speak over her. I apologize and shut my mouth immediately so she can finish her sentence. And vice versa.

But that kind of exchange doesn't happen often.

Instead, people raise their voices in an effort to be heard. Or the speaker may shut down and give up, deciding it’s not worth trying to finish.

The result is that what needs to be said doesn't get said by the person who wants to say it…or heard by the one who needs to hear it.

Just a few vital reasons why you need to stop interrupting if you exhibit this habit:

  • You may miss important information that the person needs to tell you.
  • You send a message to others that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.
  • You don’t learn anything when you’re speaking.  
  • You’re communicating that you don’t have the patience or self-discipline to wait.

These behaviors push people away and damage relationships.

Start monitoring yourself during conversations. If you find yourself about to jump in before the speaker has finished talking, stop yourself. Focus on the words and meaning of what’s being said. You’ll be less likely to jump in with your own opinions if you’re trying hard to understand theirs.

"To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It's a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued." - Deborah Tannen, Author and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Are You Feeding Your Brain?

Sometimes you discover information that’s so important, you want to scream it from the rooftops to make sure everyone else finds out about it, too.

That’s what I felt like doing after reading David Perlmutter’s eye-opening book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers.


Because what’s contained in these pages is not common knowledge.

Very few people know which nutrients best feed our brains and ensure long-term mental health.

Dr Perlmutter is the only physician in the U.S. who is both a board-certified neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He’s also a founding member and fellow of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. This gives him a unique perspective when examining the impact of the foods we eat on brain health and function.

In his practice over the past three decades, he has treated people of all ages, from pre-schoolers with signs of ADHD to elderly patients in their 90s with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

In an astounding number of cases, simple dietary changes have drastically reduced the problem.

While I’ve read and posted about other excellent books that give solid scientific evidence for a high-fat/low-carb approach to eating, this is the first that explains in plain English the impact of our eating habits on brain health.

This book is a wake-up call if you’ve been under the impression that only your genes affect whether or not you’ll eventually suffer from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Or you think that popping a pill (such as a statin drug) relieves you of taking responsibility for the effects of what you eat.

The truth is, if you’re not careful, what you put in your mouth on a daily basis has potential to accelerate the shrinking of your brain.

Dr. Perlmutter was the featured guest on the Dr. Oz show on October 21, 2013, in a segment called “Do Carbs Cause Alzheimer’s?”

This written interview on the Psychology Today blog gives more details about the breakthrough ideas contained in the book.

And this page on his website lists upcoming and archives of media appearances (radio/TV shows) with excellent content in each one.

A few of the startling facts revealed in the book…


“Eating high-cholesterol foods has no impact on our actual cholesterol levels, and the alleged correlation between higher cholesterol and higher cardiac risk is an absolute fallacy.”

“High cholesterol is associated with better memory function.”

“The fundamental role of LDL in the brain is to capture life-giving cholesterol and transport it to the neuron where it performs critically important functions…LDL is not the enemy. The problems occur when a higher-carbohydrate diet yields oxidized LDL and an increased risk of atherosclerosis.”

“Cholesterol acts as a facilitator for the brain to communicate and function properly. Moreover, cholesterol in the brain serves as a powerful antioxidant. It protects the brain against the damaging effects of free radicals.”


“Researchers have known for some time now that the cornerstone of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders, is inflammation. But what they didn’t have documented until now are the instigators of that inflammation— the first missteps that prompt this deadly reaction. And what they are finding is that gluten, and a high-carbohydrate diet for that matter, are among the most prominent stimulators of inflammatory pathways that reach the brain.”

About FAT…

“The human dietary requirement for carbohydrate is virtually zero; we can survive on a minimal amount of carbohydrate, which can be furnished by the liver as needed. But we can’t go long without fat… Respect your genome. Fat— not carbohydrate— is the preferred fuel of human metabolism and has been for all of human evolution. We have consumed a high-fat diet for the past two million years.”

Whatever conclusions you come to about the way you choose to eat, this book will impact your understanding of your amazing brain and what it requires to perform at maximum levels for the rest of your life.