Will you beat the odds in 2014?

The statistics are staggering. Only one in five people set annual goals for themselves. What’s even more surprising, though, is that of those, only 8% actually achieve them. So what’s going on?

It seems that the key to success is to write down your intentions – which increases the likelihood that you’ll reach them by ten times. And it’s like compound interest: the earlier you start writing down your goals, the more it’ll pay off as time goes on. A Harvard Business School study showed that those who wrote down their goals will earn 9 times more over their lifetimes than those who don’t.

If you are local, I can help you be on your way this Sunday, November 10, from 1-5pm at a workshop I’m holding in Palo Alto called Success 2014: Goal Setting for the New Year, in which we will devote time to learning the art and execution of goal setting. It may well be the best time and financial investment you’ve ever made. Why? Because it will organize and prioritize every sector of your life and create an actionable plan using a step-by-step process that will guarantee clarity and accomplishment. I am so passionate and convinced that this is the way to go that I offer a satisfaction or your money back guarantee.

The workshop will include two other components that are necessary for success: an assessment tool that will be set up so that you can track your progress at regular intervals, and regular accountability check-ins. The best part is that this method can be replicated year after year.

Spending a Sunday afternoon in November may just be the shift you’ve been looking for to organize your goals and path to success. You can then sit back and enjoy the holiday season knowing that you’ll be beating the odds – the minute that 2014 hits.

Putting It Out There In A Big Way: Book Expo 2013

Pinch me now please.

I’m heading to New York City this week for the largest author, book and publishing event in the nation, BookExpo America 2013 (BookExpoAmerica.com), being held at the Javits Center from Thursday to Saturday, May 30th to June 1st.  I’ll be at Booth #377 with my book, How to Slay a Pirate: Lessons on Success from Sailing the Pacific, where I’ll be joined by Alicia Dunams of Bestseller in a Weekend (BestsellerInAWeekend.com) and 8 other authors with their newly released books.

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the networking opportunities, with some of the biggest names in publishing, well-known authors and bloggers, booksellers and more. I’m trying to think of this as my first learning experience as an author (pinch me please), hoping to absorb as much as I can.  Apparently Alicia will be sending us off on networking challenges to keep us busy (as if we will  need it!). The most repeated advice on BEA has been to wear comfortable shoes – there will be loads of walking.

I’ll be autographing my book for the first time (pinch me) – not surprising since it’s my first book – at three separate times: Thursday, May 30 from 1-2 p.m. at Booth #377; Thursday, May 30 from 3:30-4 at Table #5; and Friday, May 31 at Booth #377.  Stop by and get a free autographed book if you are in NY – and there will be some fun giveaways.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but think: Pirates!

My reference to “pirates”, for those who are just joining the conversation, is to the negative self-talk that robs you of your dreams. How to Slay a Pirate is the ultimate guide to setting your goals in motion, slaying your pirates, and finally achieving what you’ve only dreamed of until now.  Accompanied by practical step-by-step exercises to guide you through the process, together with travel blog excerpts from my nearly two-and-a-half year family sailing adventure through Mexico, the South Pacific and into Australia, this book delivers an honest account of challenges, risks, and rewards to  make a compelling case for why finding your passion is essential.

I felt compelled to write this book because I truly believe that every one of us should be following our passions to contribute to those around us all that we were meant to contribute.  The message couldn’t be clearer within the pages of my book – and I offer strategies for figuring out what that contribution was meant to be. I tell my own story, going through the pirates that were robbing me of all that I wanted – in fact they weren’t even allowing me to see my dream – and how I overcame those pirates. I also give numerous real-life examples of others who started out believing they couldn’t do what they dreamed of, but then followed the steps outlined in my book and made it possible.

Besides the passion, I’m also all about practical: The book contains real pen-to-paper exercises to help you identify what your dreams and passions and goals are — those things you’ve only dreamed of until now. I’ve included the 6 steps to set yourself up for success before you begin slaying your pirates. And of course, I’ve identified the 5 pirates that are most likely plaguing you, and how to get past them — again using practical exercises to help you along the way.

Part of my excitement in my book launch and my trip to Book Expo is that I am doing this with one of my closest friends, Beth Blecherman (Techmamas.com).  She is the one who inspired me to tell my story and write my book. And she’s kept me sane through the whole process, providing me with a calming perspective – as she always has whenever we’ve taken on projects together. Her book, My Parent Plan: How to Create a Family Project Plan to Organize Your Life and Kids,  combines her experience as a mom of three quickly-growing boys, plus her 20 years in professional project management to help parents understand the process of creating and working through a parenting plan based on their individual family’s needs and personalities. My Parent Plan empowers parents to step back to think about their daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly activities and set up a plan in advance. This gives families the time to find the right information, identify budget-friendly options, consider the needs of each family member and make informed choices to create the optimal family plan.  No doubt, you need a plan if you want to find the time to write a book!  Her book is available on Amazon and is worth the read.

By the way, my next goal: To reach bestseller status on Amazon.  I’m hoping to achieve this by running a book buying blitz on Tuesday June 4.  I am offering giveaways and raffling gifts to those who purchase from Amazon on that day – once you’ve purchased (and I hope you do), you can head to my website BGCoaching.com where you will be prompted to enter your information, including Amazon purchase receipt number, to be eligible.  Please mark your calendars for June 4 and purchase here.

And please share with me: What have you been wanting to do?  What must you do or accomplish in your lifetime? What are you passionate about?  Let’s start the conversation.

Grit and Gratitude

I read an article recently that compares the hero’s journey to our own journeys when we are attempting to reach a compelling goal. We start off with a seemingly insurmountable task, need to slay many dragons along the way (or pirates, as I like to call them), the tension mounts as we get closer, we feel defeated and want to give up at regular intervals, but we persevere until we reach our goals. I have linked to the full article below.

The hero’s journey, when put that way, sure feels familiar. I have stretched myself more than I could have ever imagined over the last couple of years. First, I set out as a non-sailor on a sailing adventure with my family, experiencing both physical and emotional discomforts along the way. I consistently slayed my pirates along the entire journey. Now that it’s over, I look back and realize that I accomplished my goal and got past my pirates by simply persevering because of a compelling goal in mind.  I just had to do it. I stood with my grit.

My latest stretch has been writing my first book, getting it published, and now launching it on June 4. I have slain many pirates along this path as well, and I continue to do so. Although I believe with every ounce of faith that my message is one that needs to be heard, my pirates are shouting: What if the book is an absolute disaster? What if no one cares what I have to say? What if the writing is terrible and readers don’t even get far enough to hear my message?

I will stand by my grit knowing that I am on the hero’s journey of life, with my own compelling goal being this: I must be heard. I must share what I know to be true.  My book’s message:  You must learn to slay your own pirates if you are to reach your own compelling goals.

My grit got me endorsements from big names (Neal Petersen, Diane Selkirk, Joanna Strober, and Brian Tracy), and a sponsorship from Pirates Booty for Book Expo America (where I will be autographing at booth #377 on May 30 and 31 and handing out over 500 snack bags of Pirate’s Booty!). With my compelling goal as my backdrop, I achieve little successes along the way, until I get to the end of this particular story.

But it’s not just the grit.  I could not have done what I’ve done without the kindness and generosity of those who have helped me along the way, like my book endorsers and my sponsor. It has me believe in the genuine goodness of people and the willingness of most to help others out. I am so grateful that so many have willingly helped me along the way.

I realize that it’s also gratitude that keeps me slaying pirates. My family has been on the journey with me. I have many friends who have regularly asked me how it was going and gave me encouragement and support daily. And I’m grateful for getting to do what I love.

Where to go from here on my own hero’s journey? Once a goal has been reached, we are changed for good. We have grown, and become bolder to take on the next challenge.

Read the full article referred to above:  http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/.

Who’s Your Pirate – Part II

How you navigate your Pirates, the negative self-talk that stands between you and your dreams, is key to reaching your goals. The first step, however, is to identify which Pirates have latched onto you. While there are many excuses that our Pirates give us to maintain the status quo, all can generally fit within one of the following five categories:

1. That’s just the way it is or that’s just the way it’s done. As in: You’re stuck here. There’s a real sense of struggle and sacrifice in this mantra. It’s full of martyrdom. It makes you a victim of your circumstances. And it’s saying: Who are you to think that things could be different? You’re not special. Nor are you lucky, like all the really successful people who actually live their dreams.

2. You don’t have enough. As in: You don’t have enough time for this, especially not now. You don’t have the resources, the knowledge, the wherewithal, the money, the support. While the successful people have all those things, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll ever get them.

3. You’re not enough. As in: You’re not smart enough (or as smart as all those other successful people are). You’re not good enough to do this. You especially are not entitled to this. What have you done to deserve this? You are simply not worthy enough and besides, you’re already not successful enough. Who are you to think anyone will listen to you? Or go along with you?

4. You shouldn’t. As in: You are so selfish for wanting this. Your family (or your boss, or the organization, or someone or something else) needs you, and you’d be letting them down. They are relying on you, and you are a terrible person for abandoning them.

5. Your dream is just too insignificant to matter. As in: There are far greater issues facing this planet (like starving kids in Africa). Who are you to think your dream is important? You are so self-absorbed for wanting such a ridiculous thing.

I am willing to bet that one of those Pirate voices shows up in your head to insist that you have no right to be making a change. It keeps us in the status-quo, and therefore, to a certain extent, our Pirates protect us — from failure and discomfort. While it keeps us comfortable, however, it tricks us into thinking that we should not or could not do what we really want to do.

Which Pirate or Pirates show up most in your life? What have those Pirates stopped you from doing? What are those Pirates costing you?

Who’s Your Pirate?

I am a firm believer that perhaps the single most important factor that stands between you and your dreams, your real resonant successes and what you really, really want in life, is your Pirates. We all have them. They will be with us until the day we die. So who are they??

Our personal Pirates are those subversive, whispering voices that sabotage our most exciting and compelling plans over and over again. They are so subtle, yet so part of who we’ve been that we think they are part of our personal truth. Our Pirates seem to attack our psyche just as we approach doing something that takes our breath away, and work harder and harder to hinder our efforts as we get closer and closer to taking the leap. The result: Our Pirates separate us from being our truest, highest and best selves.

Your Pirates will be with you for the rest of your life. Whatever they are saying to you, they are indeed saving you from failure. But at the same time, they are also “saving” you from living your life as you were meant to be living it.

What are your Pirates saying to you? I’d love to hear from you.

A memorial story of optimism

The world commemorated Yom Hashoah V’Hagevurah this past week, also known as Holocaust Memorial Day, to honor the six million Jews among the thirteen million who were killed at the hand of the Nazis only a few decades ago. I was asked to speak to my son’s middle school as the child of a Holocaust survivor. Here are my words:

When I was asked to speak to you today as the child of a holocaust survivor, I realized that growing up, I never considered myself the child of a holocaust survivor because I never considered my dad to have been a holocaust survivor. After all, he never spent time in the concentration camps, didn’t have a tatooed number on his forearm, and didn’t have personal horror stories to tell that many of my friend’s parents and grandparents shared. My dad’s story is a different one – which may have led him to be perhaps one of the most optimistic and grateful human beings I have ever met to this day.

My dad was born in 1937 in Bucharest , the capital of Romania, two years before the start of WWII. His parents, my Bubbie and Zaida, were wealthy merchants in downtown Bucharest. My father attended Jewish Day School and lived a relatively normal life for the first years of the war.

It’s important to know that almost all the Jews of Romania were killed during the Holocaust outside of Bucharest. However, Bucharest was different: the Jews living in the capital city of Bucharest were spared, and my research showed that about 75,000 Jews lived in Bucharest before the war. My grandfather’s sister (my father’s aunt) and her family did not fare so well. They lived in rural Romania where they were murdered along with the rest of their village.

That’s not to say my father doesn’t remember there being anti-semitism in Bucharest: My father would be taunted on his way to school by older boys bullying him because he was Jewish. The worst of the war that he recalled to me was spending days on end in the bomb shelters while the Allies were bombing the city.

Perhaps it’s because he didn’t remember the details, or he was too young to remember, but my research also showed that in January 1941, 120 Jews in Bucharest were killed. Furthermore, “antisemitic legislation downgraded the identity of Jewish citizens to second-rate status: they lost the rights to education and health care, their property was confiscated, and they were forced to perform humiliating hard labor. In September 1942, approximately 1,000 Jews were deported to Transnistria. Despite such treatment, most of Bucharest’s large Jewish community was spared the worst horrors of the Holocaust.” (Wikipedia)

My father recounted to me that in Bucharest, the chief of police was sympathetic to the Jews. He told the Nazi regime that he would take care of the Jews himself. Although the Jewish schools and businesses were eventually closed down, most of the Jews of Bucharest survived the war. Compared to most of Europe, the Jews of Bucharest fared well. For this, my father felt lucky.

After the war, his life resumed to normal for a few years. The Jewish community in Bucharest actually grew because many survivors flocked to the city.

When the communist regime came to power in Romania in 1948, however, when my father was 11, it closed all religious schools. My father’s parents’ store was taken away, and his father was sent to a forced labor camp for several months. He was released only because my grandmother went every day to plead with the police to let him free.

It became clear once the Communists came to power that things for the Jews were going to get worse – and my father’s family didn’t want to stick around as they didn’t think they’d be so lucky a second time. My father’s family applied to emigrate to Israel, then a newly established country. They were asked to pay money to government officials several times, which they did, but heard nothing. in 1950, five years after the war, my father’s cousin was Israel’s delegate to the World Communist Congress being held in Romania that year. Romania’s Communist party leader was Ana Pauker, a Jew, and my father’s cousin pleaded with her to let my father’s family leave. The next day, my father’s family received a postcard stating that they had 72 hours to leave the country for Israel, could only take with them one set of silver candlesticks, one suitcase each, and a very limited amount of money or jewellery. They left virtually everything behind. And yet, for this, my father felt lucky.

They arrived poor to a very new country in Israel, and in 1952, my father celebrated his bar mitzvah in at a make shift synagogue held in a bunker. He used the tallit (prayer shawl) borrowed from an old rabbi because he did not own his own. After services, his parents hosted a small group of people for tea and cake in their small home. For this, he felt lucky.

Although the United States did not permit entry to my father’s family, the next year my father emigrated to Canada with his family to be closer to his relatives then living in New York. He arrived in 8th grade, around your ages, without knowing the language, and very poor. He worked hard, being grateful for this new opportunity, and by the end of the year was first in his class in several subjects. From there, he made a fine life for himself through education and a positive can-do attitude. He became an electrical engineer, married my mother, had three children, became a partner in his consulting firm, held numerous volunteer positions, and all the while felt so so lucky. As an adult, he became relatively observant, thankful to God for having spared his family from the devastation so many others came to during the Holocaust.

I tell this story because his story is one of hope. While he died over 20 years ago (after being on dialysis for 15 years, and still feeling lucky that there was a way to keep him alive!), it’s only recently that I realized he was a holocaust survivor. Who’s to say why one person survives the holocaust while atrocities were being committed only a few miles away? But what I do know is that holocaust survivor stories can be stories not just of suffering but of tremendous luck and optimism. This is what shaped my father’s life – and how we all remember him years later.

May his memory be for a blessing.

How Did You Get Here?

Have you ever found yourself in a place where  you never thought you’d be?  Over my lifetime, I’ve asked myself several times, “How did I get here?”  Sometimes, it wasn’t a good thing either – like when I realized I’d been practicing law for nearly ten years and felt no passion for it. Sometimes, though, I’ve posed the question out of a sense of awe – like when I was crossing the equator on a boat with my family in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a three-week passage. We were fulfilling a dream, doing things we never believed we could carry off, and were in the exact place we wanted to be at that moment. It is these times, obviously, that we need to be striving for.  It is that sense of awe and purpose that fuels us to be the best we can be.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the emotion of passion as “an intense, driving feeling or conviction”. By definition, then, your passion inspires you to act.  In May 2010, Simon Sinek delivered a TED talk that very convincingly demonstrates the way to inspire leadership is to find people who have passion for what they are doing. And it’s not surprising that the premier management consulting firm, McKinsey&Company, recently came out with a study evidencing peak performance and job satisfaction when an employee at any level finds meaning in his or her work.

These are consistent with one of my favorite inspirational quotes that comes from an ancient yoga theorist, Pantaljali: “When you are inspired… dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Change begins from within, from that place of passion and purpose and cause. Once you find it, you begin to live intentionally. You are making conscious intentional decisions about your life – which leads to a life lived on purpose, performing at your peak. So much more is possible from this place.

Regardless of how you got here, whether you’re in a good place or one not so great, find your inspiration, meaning and passion in what you do.  And from that naturally comes more inspiration, meaning and passion. I’ll meet you there.


What Does Saying No Really Mean?

This past week I found myself feeling overwhelmed. I was Drowning – that feeling we get when we are doing too much. Everyone has a different threshold, but I had clearly reached mine. My To-Do List was not only getting longer, but it also was not having anything taken off. In other words, I was getting nothing done. My mother and stepdad were coming into town for a short visit and I had no idea how I was even going to spend time with them, and as they get older, I want every minute of them that I can get.

When we are frantically trying to do too much, everyone and everything around us suffers. We cannot be present with those we are with, we forget to take care of ourselves, we don’t get enough sleep or eat properly, we are more inefficient, we lose things, we become disorganized, our environment is in chaos, and we are more prone to accidents or getting sick. You know that feeling. And when it hits, it’s time to say No.

When we say No to things on our plate, it is more than just saying No to things that we’d otherwise be doing. When we say No, we are actually saying Yes to a way of being. We are saying Yes to a greater calm, to being present and being intentional in how we live our lives. We are saying Yes to being in choice. And that’s powerful.

Ask yourself if you are in that state of Drowning. Have you hit your threshold? Do you need to be saying No to things on your plate? If your answer is Yes, get intentional about what you will say No to, and put the plan in place. It feels powerful and freeing. On the other hand, if you are feeling stuck, that there’s nothing you can say No to, please contact me. I will help you figure it out. Because there is always something you can be saying No to. You are always in choice. You get to choose how you will Be. Please don’t settle for any less.

Dispelling the Myth: Coaching vs. Therapy?

There are many who hold the erroneous belief that coaching is essentially the same as therapy. There are certainly similarities, but the differences make coaching a significantly different concept worth noting:

Similarities include a relationship between a trained professional and a client who seeks the services of the professional to help them get past issues that they are experiencing. That is perhaps where the similarities end.

The differences between the two are far more evident. First, coaching “supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused.

“Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through.” –International Coach Federation

While a licensed therapist has received training for longer periods, certified coaches have received rigorous training as well. Perhaps a reason for a therapist’s longer training includes the fact that therapists are trained to work with entire populations including those with mental illnesses, whereas coaches work with those who simply want a change. In addition, licensed therapists are trained to take the lead in their sessions, getting their clients to a specific resolution. Coaches will simply guide their clients to take themselves where the client wants to go, being a place of resonance for that client. The coach is simply there to help the client get clear on what it is that the client wants.

As a coach, there have been situations where I have referred a client to a licensed therapist, although I continue to believe that regardless of being in therapy, one can still benefit from skillful coaching, even simultaneously.

What’s All This Hype About Coaching?

As a rigorously trained certified life coach, I must say that I’m biased. I believe everyone can use the services of a life coach. There is no question in my mind that we could all use some help moving forward in lives, internally and externally. I believe without movement, we stagnate. I also believe that the nature of coaching continues to be misunderstood by many. And so I’ll take the opportunity to set the record straight:

Coaching is about making Powerful Changes that will take your life to the next level

Coaching is the on-going professional partnership between a coach and a client in a process of both thought-based (internal) and behaviorial (external) change that will maximize your potential. By design, it helps you improve and enhance the quality of your life – taking you ‘to the next level’ of satisfaction and fulfillment. This is achieved through a variety of learned methods and applied during the coaching sessions. These methods are drawn from concepts, models and principles strongly based in a multi-disciplinary foundation: behavioral sciences, management, spiritual traditions, the arts and humanities.  With proper training, a skilled coach will guide you to extraordinary results.

Coaching is about creating Clarity that resonates with who you are

What makes true coaching remarkably effective, is that the agenda as well as the journey toward powerful change is set by the client her/himself. A good coach will simply but skillfully guide you toward what is resonant and true for you. In other words, the coach has no idea where the coaching will lead and has no set agenda for where it will go; that is up to you and will be exposed through skillful coaching.  Only you have the answers that are true for yourself. And what is true for you will be unique to who you are as an individual, based on your own set of values, beliefs, purpose, and unique gifts.

Coaching is about Action and Forward Movement

While there may be a lot of talking going on in the coaching sessions, once you become clear on what you want so that you can live your life in a way that is consistent with who you are, we set goals and develop action plans toward creating excitement and fulfillment on your own terms.


Now, who wouldn’t want this for themselves?

Stay tuned for more:

  • How do coaching and therapy differ?
  • What methods do coaches use to guide you toward clarity and resonant action?
  • What is expected of the individual in the coaching relationship?