What my Mom Taught me About Emotional Intelligence

I am so fortunate to have my mom close by. She's healthy, active and sharp as a tack at 89 years young (she'd say, "Are you putting that on the internet?").

We've been spending a lot of time together lately, with Mother's Day, her birthday and other family events over the past two weeks. I am like her in many ways: a fun-loving extrovert, a people person.  She's out of the house every day volunteering, pursuing hobbies and having fun.

She knows everyone by name at bingo, church, and even the grocery store. And she knows a little something about them. She knows how to make people feel at ease and to make a connection.

I've definitely learned a lot from her (though she's way better at remembering names than I am!). She was the first person to teach me about emotional intelligence.

Here are three things more things I learned about EI from my mom:

You get more flies with honey than vinegar. One of mom's favorite expressions speaks to how important is it to "be nice." You will definitely get more cooperation and collaboration if you are authentically pleasant, easy-going and "sweet." You can choose to be sour or sweet. You get what you put in. All the elements of EI - self-awareness, social awareness, self-management AND relationship management - are represented.  Smart cookie!!

Mind your Ps and Qs. While the origin of the term is unclear, my mom always gave this advice. It meant to have good manners and be mindful of what you do and say. Clearly self-management. She also said, in a more restrictive tone, "Sit there with two feet in one shoe."

You never know who you'll run into, so be good! If you look beyond the hint of paranoia, you'll see that behavior matters. It's how you behave and treat others when no one is watching that is the true test of character. Take an interest in other people. Try to understand their perspective.

And always follow the Golden Rule.

Emotional intelligence is more than just being sweet! Join me for a 6-week online course that starts tomorrow. Click here for all the details.

When Self-Doubt Sneaks Up on You

self-doubt, question, workshop, retreat

Have you ever doubted yourself?

Of course that's a rhetorical question. Everyone has self-doubt, usually a negative, undermining force that can stop you in your tracks. You get all caught up in your head. You might start ruminating or obsessing. It can get so overblown that you lose touch with reality.

I had an episode of it recently. I was working on a contract developing a training program for health care providers. As part of the development process, I’d deliver the 3-hour training to pilot test the curriculum with trainees and funders.

I'm a pretty confident gal, especially when it comes to training. I’ve been around the block a time or two, and I’m known for being good at what I do. Some might say I’m at the top of my game.

Self-doubt can be kryptonite to your confidence.

Public speaking, workshops

I was kind of surprised when I couldn't shake off the self-doubt I had about my materials and my approach. I was questioning how good my presentation was. Were my slides interesting enough? Would I capture and keep the audience's attention? Would I present the information in an understandable way? Did I have enough interactivity? Would I help people think about how to apply the material? So many questions!!

The venue was also different than I’d anticipated. When I heard “pilot testing,” I thought about 20 people with extended time for discussion and feedback.

Imagine my surprise when I found 100 people in a huge, classroom style auditorium.

Did I mention they were also videotaping it for use in their online learning center?

My bad for not confirming all these details, so I was thrown.

I was also presenting after my friend and colleague of 15 years, a master trainer who has been doing this for as long as I have. Of course he was funny, engaging, informative and professional. That’s why he’s a master!

And his slides were full of cool animations and features mine were lacking.

If self-doubt wasn’t enough, now I had a good dose of slide envy.

My turn.

The first hour of training was dragging by. The group pointed out errors in the slides and had lots of questions. The session wasn’t interactive enough. I was starting to sweat. And I decided to take the break a little early.

One of the funders came rushing to the front of the room as soon as I called the break. I was expecting admonishment.

Instead, he beamed, “Wow, you are an excellent trainer.” He pointed to the trainees:  ‘They are right with you, completely engaged.”

Uh, ok. I was taken aback and pleased by the compliment. But was I really that off in my self-assessment? Others approached me at the break with questions, comments and more good feedback. They were definitely engaged.

The break was over, and I continued with the last 90 minutes of the training. We had the feedback session, which acknowledged the need for more photos in my slides, but otherwise, the comments were positive. Afterward, someone told me she saw my passion for the material come through.

The overall assessment was, “Great training.”

Even with all that positive feedback, a confident, experienced and skillful trainer like me was still influenced by niggling self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a thief that tries to rob your confidence.

But it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Self-doubt can be a positive and corrective force, providing a mental quality control of sorts.  Self-doubt keeps you in check: you check your facts, check for typos, check your bank account or check that you locked the front door. A pilot recently told me he experiences self-doubt every time he gets ready to land an airplane, and he considers that a good thing!

How can you extract the benefits of questioning yourself while keeping your self-confidence in tact? Here are a few ideas:

Acknowledge it. We all have moments of self-doubt, so be on the lookout. Practice noticing it. The more you can be aware of it, the more likely you’ll be to take the steps to manage it, integrate it into your experience and move on.

Look at all the data. While the feedback from others at the training was positive I was relying too much on my internal feedback and high expectations. I needed to evaluate what was real and what was a product of my imagination.

I used the feedback to improve the presentation for the final draft. I fixed the errors and added a few more pictures.

Know your limits. It makes sense that I would doubt my ability to do fancy animations because, well, I don’t know how. I could spend hours trying to figure it out, but I know it’s not my forte. I’m lucky to have a member of the team to help out with that. Those are true limits to what I can do. Delegating is great.

Look at past successes. Shake self-doubt by thinking about situations where you did a good job. Ask yourself where you’ve done well and look back objectively at times when you’ve achieved success, had good outcomes and things turned out the way you had hoped. These are great reminders that can dispel self-doubt – or at least quiet it a bit.

The flip side of self-doubt

My friend Lisa Braithwaite, another experienced speaker, had a related experience with a training she did recently. Check out her post about the dangers of complacency that come with experience, and what happens when an expert becomes just a little too overconfident.


How do you deal with self-doubt? How can you foil that sneaky thief? Share your insights, experiences and advice below.



Where Do You Find Inspiration?

What inspires you? 

Nature? Music? Art? Architecture? 


As a leader, it's important to stay inspired and motivated. 

Where do you find inspiration? 
Above are just a few things I've recently found inspiring - a picture my daughter captured of a bee on a flower at a botanical garden; the amazing choir at the University of Utah; poolside desert landscape at a conference in Palm Springs (I'm actually here right now); a fun paint night with my husband (those are two separate paintings that make one - sweet, right?); or even an ornately detailed, 100 year old wooden ceiling in a gorgeous retreat house in Santa Barbara.
I'm also endlessly inspired by others. It's why I love my job so much! Seeing people grow, face their fears, work hard to reach a goal, help others just because.
The possibilities are endless if you're paying attention. When were you last inspired? Chime in with a comment and share an inspiring moment you've had recently.

Don’t Bring a Briefcase to a Ski Resort (or Lessons in Living in the Moment)

I am not a skier. I have never skied. I grew up in sunny Southern California, and despite being only 2 hours from ski resorts where many of my friends flocked to in the winter, my parents were transplanted New Yorkers who didn’t do the outdoor thing. The closest I’ve come to mountain recreation is riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain in the fall at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. We would go for Oktoberfest. No snow-just beer, polka and autumn leaves.

So when our daughter decided to go to college in Utah, we figured it would be the perfect opportunity for her to try skiing – without us! The U has an amazing outdoor program with discount rentals and ski outings that we encouraged her to take advantage of. How great! She’d get to ski and we wouldn’t have to deal with anything but the cost.

But her first year was hard and busy and she didn’t have time or energy to explore the options before her. So when I was planning to come out to spend a couple of weeks to support her through a rough patch, she asked if I’d take her skiing. Uh, ok.

Obviously the ship has sailed for me to try this sport that’s hard on the knees and ankles. Hurling myself down an icy slope on long planks is NOT my idea of a good time. I’m clumsy enough to fall when walking through a parking lot, no less engaging in a dangerous winter sport.

I arranged for an afternoon lesson for her, complete with equipment and lift ticket. She was so excited!

My plan was to stay in the lodge, watching her and working on some writing projects. I’d been traveling for work for weeks and trying to fit in time to work on our upcoming retreat, Find Your Voice, whenever I could. This seemed like a great opportunity for some down time to get some work done.

My first surprise was parking at the bottom of the hill and taking the Cabriolet lift to the mountain base. The “Cab” was basically an open bucket to stand in that takes you to the mountain base.

How cool!

Actually, cold, especially because I was woefully prepared, with no hat or gloves. I had a cotton scarf and a faux fur headband. I’d be fine! I like the cold, and this was an adventure.

The thing I was most prepared for was work, as I schlepped my canvas briefcase with computer, a couple of books, a water bottle and snacks. I was conspicuously lacking the equipment everyone else had with them. Oh well.

But when we got there, I found out that her lesson was up the mountain (did I mention I have zero experience with skiing or ski resorts?) and I’d be hanging out below. She got on the gondola with the instructor and another student, and off they went.

The gal scanning passes told me I could go up and watch from the upper lodge. Seemed like a good idea.

I got my pass and up I went in an enclosed gondola this time (yay!) with a young woman ready to snow board. As the gondola climbed, it started to snow. And snow harder. Again prepared only with my headband and briefcase, I was wondering what it would be like at the top.

Why was I surprised that there was snow everywhere and no path to walk safely to the lodge? I carefully made my way across the snow pack, with skiers whooshing by. Luckily I was wearing some sturdy boots with good traction (borrowed) and made it in, upright and unscathed.

The place was PACKED with skiers resting, eating, drinking. I wondered if it was a good idea to drink a beer then head back to the slopes!

Little kids were sleeping sitting upright. There were lots of families, couples and folks ranging in age from 5 to 75. I saw where the lessons were taking place and spotted my daughter. Cool! Now I just needed to find a window spot where I could settle in to watch and get some work done.

I soon realized that work wasn’t going to happen. When my daughter was out of view, I was too fascinated with all the people dressed in their bulky, awkward clothes, dealing with the skis, the cold, the equipment. I watched the people in the snow board lesson struggling to stand up, compared to the more experienced skiers effortlessly gliding down the hill.  It was one of those “to each his own” life lessons and left me thinking, “One man’s pain is another man’s pleasure.

I actually started to appreciate how this was thrilling for so many. The snow would come down hard, then clear in a moment’s notice. It was really beautiful. I could see the allure of being outside in such a gorgeous place, speeding down a mountain.

I also appreciated seeing my daughter head up a ski lift for the first time and spotting her about 20 minutes later skiing down the hill. She was on her feet and had a big smile on her face. Off they went, back to the chair lift.

View from the lodge

I walked outside and stood there, briefcase over my shoulder, waiting for them to come back. At this point, it was snowing pretty hard again, but I was getting used to the drill, watching for speeding skiers, sweeping the accumulating snow off my briefcase (at least my water stayed cold!).

After she took one more run, all by herself this time, the slopes were closing, so we headed back down the mountain in the enclosed gondola. She had an amazing time, fell in love with the sport and did really well.  The snow continued to pick up as we descended.

After she returned her equipment, it was time to get back to the car. She was carrying helmet, goggles, ski pants.

I was still clutching my briefcase, which by this time was covered in snow.

Back to the Cabriolet, this time down the mountain in a pelting snow squall.

My daughter and I riding the Cabriolet in a snowstorm

When we got back to the car and I shook the glaze of snow from my head, I also shook my head at myself for trying to do too much instead of just enjoying the moment.

I ended up loving the experience but didn’t need the literal baggage I took with me.

It was a lesson in not overextending. Just staying in the moment, unplugging and enjoying my surroundings.

It’s also one of the reasons we are offering the Find Your Voice Women’s Writing and Leadership Retreat. I know I’m not the only one who’s schlepped work somewhere to try to multitask when what I really needed was to unplug, unwind and reflect.

We are providing a weekend of writing, leadership development, yoga breaks, healthy foods and connection with a group of like-minded women in a beautiful, supportive setting in Ojai, CA May 13-15.

Want to know more? Click here for all the details.

Where Were You on 9/11?

The Twin Towers and Lady Liberty

A number of years ago, I wrote this recollection of the events of the September 11th terrorist attacks and memories of my experience that day and the days following.  As with all significant, out of the ordinary events, most of us have vivid memories of where we were and what we were doing.  Feel free to share yours below. I lived in NYC on September 11, 2001, but I wasn’t in the city that day.  Instead, my colleagues and I were at a national meeting in Crystal City, Maryland, across the highway from the Pentagon. We felt the hotel shake when the plane hit.  Soon after, we smelled smoke.  The building was locked down.  Like many others, we could do nothing but wait and watch the horrifying images on a big screen.

While phone service was limited for the first few hours, I felt reasonably certain that my daughter was safe at her preschool in upper Manhattan, over 10 miles from Ground Zero.  I had hoped that my husband was still in the city, but, when I finally reached him, I learned he had crossed the bridge soon after the first tower was hit and was stuck in New Jersey.  He ended up driving over 100 miles out of the way and taking 4 hours for a typical 18 mile, 30 minute trip home.  He had to ditch the car in the Bronx and make his way by livery cab and foot back to Manhattan.  6 hours later, he picked up our daughter and made it home.

Back in DC, the trains weren’t running; the airports were closed.  People at the meeting started talking about carpools to Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Florida.  I was able to leave the hotel that night and stayed with friends in DC, relieved for the comfort of good friends in familiar surroundings, away from the destruction and chaos that were so closeby.  Then I had to figure out how to get home.

I was able to get a train back to NYC on September 12th.  I’ll never forget the first glimpse of the two giant pillars of smoke rising from Ground Zero as the train made its way through New Jersey toward Manhattan.  The towers were gone.  The smoke and sky where the towers once stood were like a huge scar.  I will never forget these images and memories from those unfathomable days.

I’ll also never forget the changes that took place in the city after 9/11.  Everything was quieter, a startling change in a city of deafening overstimulation.  Planes weren’t flying over head , a very strange occurrence on an island with waterways that serve as giant flight paths for 3 major and multiple smaller airports in the area.  Only the occasional roar of fighter jets circling the city was heard, extremely unsettling after the air attacks.

People were also quieter.  We all seemed to be whispering.  We were also making more eye contact than is usual for New Yorkers.  Sometimes the glances were suspicious, but mostly they were supportive and sympathetic, looking for a connection, an understanding smile, or a little reassurance.

The Friday after the towers fell, I was coming home from my office in the early evening (I was working as a psychologist at the time and spent many months processing the events of September 11th with my hospital clinic and private practice patients).  I would normally take a 30-minute subway ride, but I preferred to stay above ground for while and ended up taking mainly buses and cabs for almost 2 months after the attacks.  The bus ride home would take about an hour.  My only concern was that I’d miss the candlelight vigil scheduled for 7pm.  I was hoping to participate at the park in the close-knit neighborhood where I lived, but as the bus continued its stops, it became clear I wasn’t going to make it.  At a stop in West Harlem, around 138thStreet and Broadway, I saw people gathering in front of an apartment complex.  I jumped off the bus, ran across the street and joined the growing group.

A woman had a basket full of candles and was handing them out to the crowd.  Most people were speaking Spanish.  The woman with the basket started talking to me.  I told her I lived uptown but had seen the gathering from the bus and wanted to be with others for the vigil.  We shared our sadness for those who had perished and concern for the hundreds who were missing.  People started lighting each other’s candles.  The woman started the ceremony.   She spoke to the crowd, well over 100 people, in Spanish and English.  She turned and asked if I thought we should say a prayer.  “That sounds nice,” I said.  “What’s your name?”  she asked?  I told her, and she turned to the crowd and said, “Gloria has joined us and will lead us in a prayer.”  She turned back to me and asked, “Do you speak Spanish?”  “Uh, no…”, I replied.  “That’s ok, I’ll translate.”

I wish I remember what I said.  At that time in my life, I wasn’t praying too regularly, so I was a bit out of practice and certainly taken aback.  I just started talking – I know I prayed for the victims and their families, peace and healing for us all.  As I spoke, the woman with the basket translated.  When I was finished, she made a few more comments, then invited others to offer intentions.  People prayed for friends, family, friends of friends, firefighters.  People held hands and cried.

After 10 or 15 minutes, a noticed a cab pulling up near the corner.  Cabs were hard to come by at the time, so I slipped away, got in the car and continued toward home.

I will never forget those moments on a street corner, part of a group of total strangers from diverse cultures, classes and backgrounds, sharing the grief, fear and concern that brought us together that night for a little comfort during such a stressful and frightening time.   I will never forget the feelings of hope, unity and peace that night; the feeling of connection to others;  a degree of pride and love for my country that I had never felt before; and the gratitude and sorrow for those who courageously lost their lives and for the thousands of innocent victims whose lives were changed forever.

All of our lives were changed forever on September 11th.  Today I pray for our continued healing.  And I pray for more peace, love and unity in the world that can also change our lives forever.

Miele Head Shot TL.jpg

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a leadership coach, speaker and trainer who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  She is a New Yorker by birth and heart who lives in Southern California. 

Mixing Paint - And Leadership

Do you ever feel the need to be more creative? When’s the last time you tried something new, like ceramics, drawing or painting? At the beginning of the year, I decided to make time for more creative and artistic endeavors, and painting was calling my name. I had no idea where it would lead, but I knew I needed to let go a little and do more with the more creative part of my brain.

So I signed up for a month-long, weekly watercolor class. As I was learning to paint, I started making connections between art, creativity and the way I approach a new situation or project. Issues around taking action, dealing with frustration, perfectionism and going with the flow all came up while I was painting . You can see some of my paintings and read more about the leadership lessons I learned here.

Six months later, I am running workshops that integrate leadership development and painting. Designed to help people use their creative potential to become stronger leaders, The Art of Stronger Leadership workshop is born!

The fact is I’ve been using art in my training for years. You can always find me in possession of a big bag of markers and giant sticky notes at a workshop. Draw your strengths or your vision; create a mind map; decorate a puzzle piece; draw your ideal day, etc., etc.

Drawing helps translate words into images and can create a more quiet, relaxed mind. You can lose track of time, get into what you're doing and let your mind wander. Combining words, images and the movement of drawing can result in new insights, increased creativity, more clarity and greater focus. Even doodling can help you process information more efficiently as you activate more parts of your brain.

Coloring is also enjoying a resurgence, with adult coloring books among Amazon's top sellers. And look what I saw in the entry of Barnes and Noble the other day. Coloring is a great stress reliever and leads to greater imagination, creativity and freer thinking.

Coloring's not just for kids

You probably won’t be surprised that I came up with the idea for the Art of Stronger Leadership while painting and decided to take action and offer it to other leaders who want to get more creative.

Creative Connections

On the day of the workshop, all the elements were in place. I was working in an art studio with two professional artists who were there to lend their technical and creative expertise to the painters. A diverse group of women registered to attend. I was ready with a great agenda, handouts and, of course, snacks.

As people arrived at the studio, their excitement was palpable. A few had recently gone to painting classes, so they were primed (get it??) to paint again. Another claimed she was “not creative” but looked forward to an opportunity to see what she could do with paint. Another hadn’t picked up a brush since elementary school.

Half of the women were entrepreneurs with their own businesses, and the other half held a leadership role in nonprofit or for profit organizations.  They all had one thing in common: an interest in clarifying and strengthening their leadership style and vision through painting.

Reflect, Envision and Create

After introductions, snacks, and a brief presentation, the workshop had three phases:

  • Reflect on what makes you a stronger leader
  • Envision your future as the leader you want to be
  • Create a painting that captures your positive view of the future

Reflect. Using a process inspired by Appreciative Inquiry, each person recounted a “peak” leadership experience. Think of a time when you were at your best as a leader. Recall the details and circumstances of what went well and how you did it. What strengths did you use? Who else was involved?

IMG_1881The exercise was an interview that proved to be a powerful experience for all. Learning from your past success is a positive foundation when you begin to visualize what you want in the future. Also, sharing your success with someone else can be uplifting for both interviewer and interviewee. One participant said,

“I loved the way we discovered our vision and story through the interview. It was great to tell someone my dreams and vision and also wonderful to hear about my partner’s peak experience as a leader.”

The interview concluded with a question about wishes for leadership in the future, especially in the context of the peak experience. Where do you want to see more of those success experiences in your leadership style? Maybe you want to be more collaborative or manage a larger team. Maybe you want to change your position altogether. Determine what you want, and turn it into a wish.

Envision. The interview about the peak leadership experience and three wishes set the stage for a guided visualization. Picture where you want to be as a leader in 5 or 10 years. What will your life look like when your future wishes and aspirations have come true?

This vision and the images related to it became the basis of the painting.

Create. The moment everyone was waiting for: painting a piece that represents your vision and wishes for yourself as a leader. After sketching some ideas, time to put paint to canvas.

IMG_1883 IMG_1893 IMG_1887IMG_1884

Some jumped right in and started painting. Others needed more support, guidance and time to decide where to start. Especially for those who hadn't painted, they experienced varying levels of uncertainty (“Where do I start? What do I do next?"), frustration (“This does not look how I want it to.” "Can I have another canvas?") and ultimately acceptance and appreciation (“That really captures my feeling.” “I kinda like the shading of the green on that hill.” “That's not so bad.”).

Having artists work with them helped build confidence and learn some technical skills that helped them paint the images they imagined.


I was blown away by the beauty, depth and insights achieved in these painting.

One painter realized one of her goals as a leader was to incorporate more joy into her life and leadership style. Her painting reflected this.

Another realized that while she always strived to create abundance for her clients, she was less focused on creating abundance for herself.

Another realized she needed to focus more on the harmony of her team and how people's individual strengths could complement each other more effectively

Another painted a colorful landscape with birds representing the carefree members of her team.

So fun!

I love the wonder and surprise you feel when you create something unexpected through art. The sense of accomplishment when you say, “I made that.” One of the more hesitant participants said, “The creative outlet is fantastic – I got soooo out of my zone.”

That's what it's all about.

Leadership masterpieces

Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone, get creative and see where it leads you? You might surprise yourself! Share your experience in the comments. You can also post a picture of your recent artistic endeavors at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching. How do art, creativity and imagination make you a stronger leader?

If you're in the area and would like to explore your strengths, goals and leadership vision through art, join us for the Art of Stronger Leadership.

Our next workshop is scheduled! Click on the dates below for more information.

Monday, February 29th, 5:30pm-9pm

Gloria Miele - OptimalDevelopmentCoaching.com

Thirteen Thoughts for High School Graduates Heading to College

It's graduation season, and this year we've got a high school graduate in the house. It's been a big celebration with lots of excitement about new beginnings and anticipating attending the University of Utah in the fall. Of course we want her to be as prepared as possible, so we've been looking for resources to help her on her way.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to a young adult heading to college?

At a recent meeting, I asked the question of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, a group of outgoing, seasoned business people, who shared some excellent ideas for soon to be college Freshmen:

1. Try new things. When you go to college, you are presented with opportunities to take classes with people who are experts in their fields. Yes, you'll get specialized in your major, but make sure you get a chance to study something new and interesting that expands your horizons: Astronomy, Robotics, Anatomy, Comparative Religion, Art History, even Statistics!! Or look for classes like these at your school for some really thought-provoking coursework.

Of course this suggestion to "try new things" got a laugh from the group, since college students try all kinds of new things. So when you do, and we know you will, be responsible and sensible. You know what's right and wrong.  15 people partying on a small balcony is never a good idea. Nor is drinking until you pass out or throw up.  By all means, go out, experiment and have fun, but consider the consequences of all your actions.

So let me climb off my soapbox and paraphrase Mark Twain,

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do....Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch winds in your sails. Explore Dream."

2. Just show up. When you go to college, you'll have freedoms you've never imagined. No one calls home to tell your parents you missed class, so it can be tempting to blow it off, read the book, borrow a friend's notes and hope for the best. You might pass, but you're missing out on the richness of the college experience, learning from an expert in the field and interactions with others. Just do it!

3. Keep an open mind. You just graduated, and you already have some pretty set beliefs about politics, the environment, religion, music. You have friends with different beliefs, but  you'll encounter an even wider range of perspectives in college. Keep your mind open to possibilities.


4. Embrace the next chapter of your life with positivity. Attitude is everything, and a positive attitude will get you far. Follow your dreams!!

5. Get involved and get to know people. It's never too early to start building your network (you already have begun), so join some different groups, expand your social circles, get to know your professors (use those office hours!!), your RAs and TAs and that kid down the hall with the big hair. And don't forget to set up your LinkedIn profile.

6. Always have a Plan A and Plan B. You may dream of being a prima ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, and it's awesome to follow your dreams in a single-minded way. However, you've probably already noticed that life doesn't always end up how you expect. Keep doing what you love while considering different options for how to apply it (business manager of a dance company, dance teacher, marketing director for a theatre). You never know where you'll end up.

7. Don't worry. If you take Psych 101, you'll learn there's an optimal level of anxiety that helps you work at your best (aka the Yerkes-Dodson Law). But constant worrying doesn't fall in the zone. Be grateful for every experience and let go of anxiety and worry (you may learn more about how to do that in Psych 201...). Take advantage of the gym, deep breathing and meditation for stress relief.

8. Question popular culture. I hope you already know that just because everyone else is doing it, you don't have to. Question the trends to see what's right for you.

9. Keep volunteering. For the last 4 years (hopefully more), you've been counting up your volunteer hours so you can fill in the blanks on your college apps and show the admissions folks that you're a community service maven. Nice work! You know that giving back feels great, so why stop now? No one's counting any more, but that doesn't mean your efforts don't matter. Find places and causes that are important to you and keep giving of your time and talents, which are treasures. The world needs you.

10. Be true to yourself, especially when your values are challenged. You're still growing and evolving and finding out who you are (that never stops, by the way, it just changes). But you also have a pretty good sense of what's important to you. Your values will be challenged. Question and decide on what's right for you.

11. Take advantage of internship opportunities. While you're learning, meeting new people and growing, you'll want a place to apply those skills. Getting an internship, either between semesters or while you're in school, can be an excellent way to get experience in your field, see what it's like to work in an environment that interests you, and keep building your professional network.

12. Use your strengths. You know those things that you're really good at and love to do?  Those are your strengths, and hopefully your major reflects them. But even in courses and experiences not in your major, make sure to use your strengths.  Are you analytical? Empathic? Strategic? Responsible? Pay attention to the activities, information and relationships that get you most excited. That's a clue to where you'll shine.

13. Ask for help. As the years go by, you have become more and more independent. But that doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Reach out to others, use the resources available to you on campus and off, and run things by your trusted friends and advisers to get input from other sources.

Heard the expression "Two heads are better than one?" Well, it's true for 2, 4 or even 10. That's how I wrote this blog post after all....

One more quote to inspire you:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." -Henry David Thoreau

Do you have any advice to add? Share in the comments below.

And here's our high school graduate!

Graduate and Proud Parents


gloria-miele-head-shotGloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a trainer, speaker and executive coach who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success. Sign up for more resources and updates by entering your email above and receive a free strengths-based goal setting e-workbook. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for even more motivating and inspiring resources to become a stronger, more confident leader.



The Art of Stronger Leadership: 7 Leadership Lessons From Learning to Paint

Do you feel like you spend too much time in your head? Wish you had a creative outlet? As a leader you can get tethered to the office, your computer, the phone or the conference room and may neglect your more creative side. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to bring more of my fun, imaginative side to my work. Many years of technical writing and presenting in academia developed habits that are hard to break. Now, as a trainer and coach, I want to bring more play to what I do for me and my clients.

And if what I see on social media is any indication, a lot of people are getting excited about flexing their creative muscles. Painting studios are popping up everywhere, as are craft nights, photography tours and workshops, dance classes and all kinds of opportunities to find the right fit to make time to get your creative juices flowing.

I’ve taken a writing and acting class (www.kimmaxwellstudio.com) that was fantastic (more about that continuing collaboration in another post about the Finding Your Voice) with free writes and acting exercises that really pushed me beyond my comfort zone while marveling at the talents of the others in the class.

I also took a watercolor painting class and LOVED it – I was even happy with my first piece of art: a watercolor painting of a rose.


I starting taking more lessons this year and have learned so much about painting, color and composition but also about myself, my style and how the creative process can inform my work as a trainer and a leader. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about leadership from painting:

1. Get the right tools. Before I started, my painting teacher sent me a supply list of the types and sizes of brushes, colors and brands of paint and even type of paper I should invest in to get the most out of class. I went to a local craft's store, but they didn’t have a lot of what I was looking for. I picked up a few things, some better than others, and figured, “How bad can they be?”

Well, I answered that question quickly when one brush started shedding bristles almost immediately. The inferior paper didn’t take the pigment the way the good one did, and some of the paints weren’t as vibrant as others.

As a leader, you have to have the right tools too. That might be a computer program, a new piece of equipment or a new hire who’s the right person for the job. Never underestimate the importance of investing in the best tools to get the job done.

2. Get a mentor. With any new endeavor, it helps to have a guide who has more experience than you do. Mary-Gail King has been my instructor, teacher and mentor in all things painting. She shares the technical skills I need to learn but even more importantly helps me find my own style and strengths as a painter. She also shows me how to make my vision a reality and pushes me out of my comfort zone.

As a leader, you are a coach and mentor to your team. Helping to support them and their strengths is a key aspect of that role. But you also need your own support system- a mentor, a coach or a master mind group to give you that support and perspective to help you do your best. There's nothing like some objective feedback from like-minded people.

3. Be patient. Watercolors can be tricky. If you paint next to a part of the piece that’s still wet, paint can run into the next area. Sometimes this effect can be awesome; other times, it can feel like a disaster.

It’s so hard to wait-like watching water come to a boil or watching paint dry (Actually, it IS watching paint dry).

As a leader, you also need to be patient. Working on projects, learning new skills, reaching a goal, developing an employee, can take time. Patience is a virtue that may require some practice.

4. Get some distance. Every painting can benefit from stepping away to gain more perspective. You can get a whole new view of a painting, bringing to light where it needs some more detail, color, texture or shading.

As a leader, you can always benefit from a little distance. Maybe you need to literally step back from a situation and let others work it out. Maybe you need a break. Or maybe just a fresh set of eyes and objective ear to process what your next steps will be.

5. Take action. Sometimes you just need to start. When I sit down to paint, I don’t always feel ready. I chat and look at colors and play around before putting paint to paper. Often it’s better if I get something going.

In a recent class, I was hemming and hawing and realized I needed to be “a woman of action.” It was a perfect metaphor for a number of other things going on that I was pussyfooting around about and not getting accomplished. That conclusion released my productivity in so many other areas. I’m a woman of action. Woohoo!!

Every leader needs to be decisive, and some situations require fast action. Developing the confidence to make a quick yet thoughtful decision takes some practice, experience and the ability to listen to your gut. Painting has definitely helped me do that.

6. It’s ok to make mistakes. We all make mistakes, especially when trying something new. As a novice painter, I make plenty of them. I’m still not exactly sure about the color wheel and types of paints, so my work can go in an unintended direction. What to do?

  • Sometimes you can fix it. A little blot of a paper towel or wet brush can help.
  • Sometimes you just need to start over. My first still life included a bunch of beets that started to look obscene. When I showed it to my teenage daughter, we both laughed so hard we literally ended up on the floor crying. I had to take the loss and move on.
  • Sometimes you just need to accept a mistake and keep going. In a burst of excitement, I splashed some water on my favorite painting, leaving a mark in the sweet spot of the sunset. Oh well. Trying to fix it could result in worse, so I decided to leave it as a feature of the piece and put the brush down.

As a leader, it can be hard to walk away, to recognize when a situation is worth salvaging or needs to be let go. No matter what the solution, it’s always important to own your mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

7. Set aside time for growth. We don’t always make the time we need to flex our creative muscles, but it’s so good to give another part of your brain a chance to get a workout. Just like setting time aside to exercise, review financials or do performance reviews, it's important to set aside time to be creative.

I’ve committed to myself a few hours a week of a painting class, writing class or some other artistic endeavor to keep those juices flowing.

cambriaHere’s my favorite piece so far. I’m really proud of the work and feel like it does make me a stronger leader by being more attuned to the moment and more responsive to others. Plus the image just makes me feel good.

Do you want to get in touch with your creative side? Would you like to see how getting out of your head can make you a stronger leader?

I’m collaborating with two artists - my painting teacher, Mary-Gail, and Connie Schuh, owner of a local painting studio www.paintblankcanvas.com - to offer a new workshop: The Art of Stronger Leadership: Paint Your Vision.

This 3-hour course (June 4th, 6-9pm) will help you get in touch with your strengths as a leader through stories and art. We’ll use your leadership successes and dreams as a catalyst to inspire and fuel your creativity. You’ll come out with more confidence, a piece of original artwork and some of your own lessons about the art of stronger leadership.

Space is limited to 20, so check out the registration information here.

How has art inspired your work and your capacity as a leader? Please share your thoughts (or art!) below.

The Year of the Coach and Other Professional Development Trends for 2015

Wondering what’s hot in leadership development and talent management for 2015? I attended a webinar hosted by The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), a leader in strengths-based professional development, and I’m excited to report the trends as predicted by TMBC founder Marcus Buckingham and CEO Jason Averbook. As a strengths zealot and longtime follower of Marcus and his work, I wanted to hear what these guys see as relevant for talent management this year. TMBC is calling for a radical shift in the way we manage people (more on The Year of the Coach below), and noted 5 trends for 2015.

1. Personalization – Remember how excited you’d get when you were a kid and found a little license plate or key chain with your name on it? Or how disappointed you'd be when your not so common name was nowhere to be found (i.e., Gloria)? And how super excited you were when you finally found one? Everyone wants a personalized experience, including in the workplace. It captures our attention, like those little license plates.

The personalization trend in talent development can be implemented by providing training and coaching that’s individualized, intimate and focused on the person, not the organization.

Buckingham gave the example of personalization in onboarding, which should be less about why the company is great and more about why the person is a great fit for the organization. We need to focus more on our people's strengths and let them see how they can be an asset to our organization.

Jason Averbook said it well:

Averbrook talent quote

This is the power of a strengths-based approach: it sets the stage for a personalized coaching experience, focused on the unique strengths of each individual on the team.

What’s your vision for increasing employee engagement this year? How can you get the best out of each member of the team with a personalized approach? What do you think would happen if you asked each person what would help them work at their best?

2. Focus on the team leader. You know that the team leader is the one who makes things happen. Without that local oversight and structure, a project can fall apart. The team leader sets the tone, creates structure and motivation and brings together performance and engagement.

TMBC suggests it’s time to go micro. If we’re measuring employee engagement, we need to be asking the right questions of the right people at the right time, related to the projects people are working on, the teams where people are functioning. And the team leader is central to this process of increasing engagement.

buckingham on teamsThe trend is to give team leaders the tools they need to function at their best and to offer personalized advice, coaching and recommendations for action to their teams. That's what will create more effective organizations.

#3. The shift from Big Data to the Right Data. Over the past year, big data has been a big thing, with technology tools enabling us to cull information across millions of data points. But that boils everything down to an average mass of information.

Remember trend #1? Big data is far from personalized.

Another issue with the data we typically collect is the amount of evaluation error in the multi-source performance appraisal (e.g., 360 degree assessment). We keep using these tools, assuming that with enough time and training, we can teach people to reliably rate others on their performance.

However, recent studies reveal that no matter how much time and training, we can never become reliable raters of someone else’s performance. Our ratings are considered to be part of an "idiosyncratic rater effect" which is more about us than the people we're rating. About 61% of a rating can be attributed to this type of bias (if you're interested in the research, you can access it here).

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8 28 07 AM

That’s a lot. And makes you realize we need to rethink the tools we’re using. Again, a strengths-based, personalized approach can help us collect and apply the right data to help people work at their best.

#4. Feedback is not coaching. Thank you, Marcus! This is an important distinction to make. Feedback is typically focused on the details of what’s not succeeding in what you're doing now. It's threatening, typically unwelcome and evokes defensiveness. Not good!

Coaching is typically focused on the future, a productive process that looks at strengths, successes and solutions. It's the type of positive attention we all seek. Attention that makes us better.

In fact, Marcus proclaimed 2015 The Year of the Coach.

He said, "We'll see companies more and more realizing that coaching is the fastest way to excellent performance." Can you imagine a sports team without a coach? A musician without a teacher or conductor? We don't question that coaching helps elicit and amplify a person's talents. People flourish into excellent performance with an excellent teacher or coach.

So this year, TMBC sees the trend of providing coach training for team leaders (see #2). According to a live poll of the webinar viewers, about 85% of managers spend less than 25% of their time coaching. How can we improve those numbers to help each member of the team be more effective and get the personalized coaching he or she needs?

The Year of the Coach!

I liked Buckingham’s suggestion to establish a coaching ritual to get team leaders and members in the habit of regular and ongoing coaching. It can be as little as 10 minutes a week, as long as it’s focused on strengths and helping people reach their project goals.

How can you practically implement coaching at a scale that’s needed in your organization? TMBC forecasts training that consists of simple, quick and usable learning modules that teach coaching skills. I like it!

#5 – Technology. The final trend is technology, which is an integral part of our lives.  This is how we work now, so this is how we should be helping people be at their best.

Expect mobile technology that will provide relevant information personalized (there's that word again) based on a set of assessment results. Think of an autoresponder, where you can schedule and drip personalized content to people based on their interests. This is becoming widely used in changing behavior in many realms, including healthcare, with programs that push health information based on your specific medical concern, whether diabetes, obesity or heart disease. An app can send a pushed message about  making healthy food choices in the late afternoon, when someone is considering what to have for dinner.

For professional development, TMBC is already doing this with the StandOut assessment and program. And they recently partnered with SurveyMonkey, so no doubt more cool stuff is on the horizon.

I think these trends are exciting and spot on. The discussion was rich and full of examples, too many to mention here.

If you'd like to view the entire webinar, check out the recording on YouTube: http://youtu.be/QCcRfHkJE_g

And come back for Part 2 of this post, “Putting Trends into Action."

Wondering how to implement these trends in your own organization? Give me a call at 805-482-1625 or send me an email at gmiele@optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com and I’d be happy to help you find the right solutions to be on trend in talent management in 2015.

Can $50 Worth of Stickers and a Mason Jar Make Your Goals a Reality?

Did you do any New Year’s rituals or activities to get prepared for 2015? The case on resolutions is mixed, with some statistics showing that 92% of people do not keep them, though other studies have shown over 40% success after 6 months. Some may feel more comfortable setting intentions or goals for the year ahead, which are well-articulated and focused on process and small steps. Look back and reflect on your accomplishments in 2014. Celebrate your successes and decide what you want more of in your life. You can pick a word or a quote for the year. You can also do a vision board or create a container for notes about gratitude or happiness.

I must admit, this year I’ve done a bunch of these. I’ve been revising my business plan in a marketing program and working on my goals for the coming year.

I’m attending a vision board workshop, where we'll create collages with words and images that reflect what we want in the year ahead. I bought a bunch of fun stickers for that and a New Year's craft project with my family.

Yeah, I’m serious about laying things out and creating a solid plan for 2015.

Another thing that caught my eye on New Year's Day was a hashtag on Twitter: #3words.  Basically a challenge to come up with 3 words that you want to define your year.

After some deliberation, I decided on Focus, Enrichment and Gratitude (Persistence and Compassion are runners up). And here’s why:

Focus: Candidly, this is one of my big challenges. While I like to “focus” on my strengths, I don’t always focus on the tasks I need to complete. I am a notorious multi-tasker, even though I know I do better work when I’m doing one thing at a time. I’m also easily distracted by social media (I’m a fun-loving, relationship-oriented extrovert, after all), which can really wreck my – ahem – focus.

One thing that worked for me last year was using a version of the Pomodoro Technique –  choosing a simple task to accomplish and working on it for 25 minutes before taking a 5 minute break; then coming back for another 25. The trick is to do this with minimal distractions and work only on that one task. It’s amazing how much more I can accomplish when I close my browser and email program and put my phone on airplane mode. I may need to get a picture of a tomato for my vision board….

Enrichment: Are you a lifelong learner? If you're reading this, chances are yes!  I’m always taking a class or reading an article or going to a show or something that enriches me. I’m also keen to enrich others, which is why I love being a trainer and coach. As a result, enrichment seemed like a good word for the year.

After last year’s enriching experience of taking a writing and acting01afc5939363da54c87fddf76a66872112c7784e9d class, one way I've decided to flex my creative muscles this year is by taking a watercolor painting class. I’m really excited to see what I can create under the expert direction of a local artist. Here’s what I came up with just playing around in her studio over the weekend.

Gratitude: As a student of positive psychology, I’ve been delighted to see the explosion of research over the past few years around gratitude and other positive emotions. There’s an entire research institute at UC Berkeley devoted to understanding how experiences like gratitude, compassion, altruism and happiness are related to education, relationships, career and health. It's so simple yet so powerful.

Even though it seems simple, we are so focused on fixing problems that we're not always grateful for our accomplishments or even the little things that lift us up. This year, I'm working to keep gratitude front and center for myself, my family, my colleagues and clients. I like the following quote too.

"Everyone wants to be appreciated. So if you appreciate someone, don't keep it a secret." -- Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur

Last week I went to a local craft store and spent some time in the scrapbook supply aisle with all the stickers (holy cow!!). About $50 later, I was out of the store with sticker sheets in themes I knew would appeal to my family: musical notes, guitars, graduation symbols, inspiring quotes, and more. We sat down and decorated our jars and have been doing a pretty good job reminding each other to add a note every day. As a new habit, it might take some time for us to keep up, but we're working on it!


If you're feeling you'd like a little extra help working on your goals, visit my website to download your free workbook, “Strengths-Based Goal Setting.” This series of questions and activities will get you thinking about your goals through the lens of your past successes, strengths and achievements. Check it out!

What are the #3words you'd choose to define 2015? What other steps have you taken to prepare for the New Year? Comment below!

Healthcare in a Minute

Where did you get your last flu shot? At the doctor’s office or at your local pharmacy? I usually go to CVS, where the wait is short, plus I get 20% off my next purchase (can be real savings with a teenage girl in the house who always has a CVS list). But have you ever had a check-up for a sore throat, cough or back pain at the drug store?

blood pressure,  healthcare, clinicWith changes to healthcare laws that are necessitating increased access to care, the “minute clinic” or retail clinic is becoming a popular and widespread concept. With nearly 1,600 of them across the country in drug, grocery and big box stores, estimates predict these numbers will double in the next few years.

I saw my first “minute clinic” last year in the back of a Duane Reade in NYC. I was immediately impressed to see a nurse practitioner at a desk, ready and waiting for a customer. What a great idea to bring healthcare to the people!

I talked to someone who recently used a minute clinic because she wasn’t feeling well, was heading out on a business trip and knew she couldn’t get in to see her regular doctor. She was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. The NP discussed the treatment, the prescription was filled right at the store, and she was on her way. The next day, she received a voice messages from the minute clinic to find out how she was feeling, make sure she was taking the medication and inquire if she had made a follow-up appointment with her doctor. Since she felt good, was taking her meds and had made an appointment, she did not return the calls. However, the clinic kept calling her until they spoke to her. They told her they needed to talk to her directly to be sure she understood all directions and was following up appropriately. Needless to say, she was impressed and spoke highly of her experience.

But not everyone is as enthusiastic. Physicians are concerned not only that these clinics eat into their market share, but more importantly that “stop and shop” medical services may not identify clues to larger problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using these clinics for children due to concerns over “fragmentation of care” and missed opportunities to identify more serious problems that might stem from minor complaints.

Patients are concerned about continuity of care - that an NP may not be qualified or won’t know anything about them. Others have strong attachments to their primary doctors and don’t want to give up those relationships.


I appreciate these caveats, but I think the benefits far outweigh the costs. Over the past year, I’ve been involved in national training initiatives to help providers integrate telehealth technology into clinical practice to expand access to care. As more people get insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, our medical systems will need to find ways to treat more patients with a variety of resources. The minute clinic can be effective with the following in mind:

Have a primary care doctor. Yes, everyone should have a doctor or clinic that has a record of your health care needs. Even if that’s your local urgent care (mine is also a family practice center), it makes good sense to have that “medical home” that knows and understands you. As noted above, this is especially true when dealing with children.

Regulations are key. There’s great potential for the success of these clinics as long as they are well staffed and regulated. I see a real opportunity for hospitals to collaborate and create partnerships or sponsor these types of clinics, providing another level of care important to consumers.

Take a collaborative approach. Retail clinics should adopt a collaborative team model with other physicians and the community. Medicine is often conducted in silos, but with technology and good practices, there is less fragmentation. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) will be required by all practitioners later this year, so having a more transparent system can start transforming the way we deliver care.

Nurse practitioners are great providers. Like any health care provider, training and supervision are essential. And a well-trained NP is an outstanding asset in any clinical setting. At my doctor’s office, I most often see the NP, and she’s great.  Also, there aren’t that many primary care docs left. The vast majority of students coming out of med school are specializing, not coming out to work with the marginally ill.

Manage Change. Change is hard, and this new model is a change in something very important: the way we get our health care. Patients, providers and the general public will all have to make some changes. So some of this is good old change management. How can we engage people to do something different, something that may make them uncomfortable or threatened? Having a champion of change can be very beneficial – someone who’s already on board, who thinks it’s a good idea.

It can also help to bring in an outside person to lead change: someone objective who can help an organization implement new ways of doing things. One of the main components of the telehealth technology curriculum I teach entails helping people understand how to implement a change process. Whether you’re in healthcare or any other industry and could use some support around making change happen, I’m happy to talk to you about options for consulting or training to meet your specific needs.

What’s your experience with the Minute Clinic? Have you used one? Would you visit one for your healthcare? Share in the comments below.

To hear an excellent story on Minute Clinics, you can listen to this On Point Radio show that inspired this post.

Are Your Strengths Part of the Puzzle?

strengths collage I love facilitating workshops and retreats, especially with teams who want to make the most of what they're doing by focusing on their strengths: those things they do best and love to do most.

A strengths retreat, like the one pictured at left, can be a breath of fresh air for an organization and an opportunity to bring out the best in everyone.

This retreat for a local real estate team brought together agents, brokers, marketing staff, interns and lenders to spend a morning learning a lot about themselves, each other and creating a strategy to apply their strengths to achieve their sales and marketing goals in the coming year. Each person took Gallup's StrengthsFinder 2.0 before the workshop and came ready to explore and apply their Top 5 strengths themes with their colleagues.

In the "Your Piece of the Puzzle" activity, each person decorated a blank puzzle piece to represent their strengths. The finished product, pictured above,captures each person's unique, creative style as well as the how they come together as a whole. I framed the puzzle, which now hangs in their office as a terrific reminder of the day and their contributions.

What are 2-3 strengths you bring to your team? List them below. Not sure? You can learn more about your strengths by downloading my free e-workbook (see the upper right hand side of the page) . If you're interested in finding out more about a strengths-based workshop or retreat for your team or organization, let me know!


Do Resolutions or Intentions Make A Difference in Your Success?

A new approach to your 2014 goals I hope you appreciate my photo of one of the spectacular  winter sunsets we've been having here in Southern California. I've paired it with this thoughtful quote my Facebook friend and colleague Evelyn Kalinosky posted on New Year's Eve. I've always felt that resolutions are a trap, a set up for failure, and I resonated with the idea of instead focusing on intentions. Maybe it's just semantic, but the change in perspective might make a difference for you.

Another thing that could make a difference in your success with your intentions is to approach your goals with your strengths in mind.

To help you, I've developed a downloadable worksheet that will get you focused on your strengths and thinking about how you can leverage those gifts and talents to achieve your goals (or resolutions) this year.

Just visit my web site, enter your email and take the first step to start learning more about your strengths and using them to make 2014 your best year yet!

A couple of other resources to keep you on track:

  • On Victory Circles Radio, Cheri Ruskus interviewed productivity expert Jason Womack, author of Your Best Just Got Better, who shared some excellent tips to stay focused and productive. Listen to the recording here.
  • In this New York Times article, read 4 research-based tips to keep you on track to reaching your goals
  • I wrote a blog post about how to get things done in the last 100 days of the year. Many of the points apply to your resolutions as well.

What are your intentions for the new year? What is your plan for achieving them? By sharing them with others, you're more likely to succeed. Weigh in below!  

5 Timeless Blog Topics

Over the past few months, I've had blogging on my mind. It’s no secret that blogging is a great way to show your expertise, drive traffic to your website and create a community or tribe of people with similar interests. Pad of Paper & Pen

But I still can’t seem to break through that two post a month pattern.

In October, I participated in a 30-day blogging challenge with the fabulous copy writer, editor and writing mentor, Dawn Mena of Captivating Copy. I was simultaneously working on a very time consuming project, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet the ambitious goal of daily blogging. However, I wanted to get Dawn’s expertise delivered to my inbox daily.

Guess what? I still did 2 posts in October. Old habits die hard. But I did learn a lot.

One tip was to host guest bloggers on your blog to supplement your expertise and expand your audience.

Great idea! So of course I asked Dawn to write a guest post for my blog (might as well go to the expert, I say).

Below is her guest post with 5 inspiring tips to get your blogging juices flowing (I’m working on #4 now, so watch for my next blog post on telehealth!).

Dawn Mena small headshot 2

Thanks again, Dawn, for the excellent blogging challenge and sharing your expertise here. Find out more about her below, and visit her web site for a helpful giveaway too.

5 timeless blog topics that will never let you down

Ever sit down in front of your computer to write a blog post or Facebook update and totally blank out? “What the heck am I going to write about today?” goes through your head, making it even harder to concentrate and you end up playing solitaire and wasting that valuable half hour you’d set aside for writing. I’m going to help make sure this never happens again by providing a list here of 5 easy writing prompts that will help you never have that blanked out feeling again. I suggest you print this out and keep it nearby on your desk or close to the computer where you do your writing. I promise, it’ll soon be one of your most valued resources for keeping you calm and confident as you share your expertise on your blog.

1. Lists: Everyone loves a list. Take your knowledge and experience and turn it into value or even entertainment for your readers by giving them a list. Ideas: If you are a florist, list your top picks for a seasonal bouquet. Beauty product representative? Give your audience a list of morning or evening activities and/or products they can use to kick up their beauty routine. Make it simple and make it valuable.

2. How-to’s, tips & tricks: I’m not telling you to give away the store here, but I know that you all have a massive amount of information for how-tos at your fingertips. Share instructions for projects, activities, etc. that your audience can use and that will build their trust in you as 1) a person who really knows what they are talking about and 2) someone they know will provide them with value and knowledge. Ideas: If you are an event planner, give instructions for making homemade invitations. Cupcake maker? Share how to pipe that cool frosting swirl on top.

3. Reviews: Read a good book that relates to your business? Recently attended a fantastic event featuring a great speaker? Tell people about it. Describe the event, the audience, the setting and the value you gained from it. Share some of the speaker tips with others. Recommend future attendance if you really liked it. And be sure to mention organizers, locations and featured speakers or guests, especially if you are connected to them through social media. They will appreciate it, and you will raise your visibility.

4. Current Projects: if it’s not top secret, share what you are working on. Maybe you are developing a new product – share highlights and even ask questions of your audience. Asked to speak at an event in the future, let people know what you are doing and what you’ll be talking about. Are you an artist? Share the steps of your creation – you can get a multitude of posts that way.

5. Answers: If you are still stumped, take 10 minutes to surf around and read what others are talking about within your field of expertise. There are bound to be some questions others are asking or talking about. Write a blog article that posts one of these questions and then provide your answer. Illuminate your brilliance and help others to find resolution to their problems, all in one. _________________________________________________ Strategic content expert Dawn Mena helps entrepreneurs and business owners make memorable impressions with captivating writing that helps them achieve their business and life goals. She specializes in crafting custom copy and mentoring frustrated writers, focusing on bios, blogs, websites and social media. Learn more about Dawn, and get your free copy of “Six Secrets for a Captivating Bio” at www.getcaptivatingcopy.com.


Which of these 5 tips will you use to start your next blog post? Any questions for Dawn? Join the conversation by leaving a comment or question below.



Too Much on Your Plate?

Have you ever felt like you've got too much on your proverbial plate? Do you ever feel over-committed, overwhelmed, over-worked or overloaded?

Yeah, me too.


Like many entrepreneurs, and especially entrepreneur moms, I tend to take on a lot. I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I have too much on my plate. 

And with so much going on, it's often hard to digest the experience, process it smoothly, avoid heartburn that comes with the stress of overdoing it.

Get where I'm going with this?

With all those food metaphors, I came up with an idea. A portion control business strategy.

Do you need to clean up your plate? Make healthier choices? Watch this 2 minute video for some ideas on how you can have better business portion control. 

Weigh in below (and that wasn't meant to be part of the metaphor-but it is now) and tell me how you might exert a little portion control for your business health.

gloria-miele-head-shotGloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, trainer and executive coach who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  She also offers training and coaching programs to develop tech-savvy leaders in health care. To learn more, visit  www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com where you can sign up to receive a free tool to optimize your strengths. 


Living a Double Life

SU training cropped I’m in transition: re-evaluating, evolving, exploring and reinventing a long career exclusively involved with helping people learn and better themselves. I started teaching piano when I was 15 and from there never stopped tutoring, mentoring, coaching, treating, educating, inspiring, motivating, connecting and supporting others. It's just what I do. It's what I've always done as a teacher, tutor, mentor, coach, psychologist, supervisor, trainer, speaker and leader.

Over the last five years building my coaching practice, I've continued to work as a training director and consultant on national research projects to develop and test effective treatments for people with addictions, something I've been doing in one way or another since 1990.

When I received my coach certification through the College of Executive Coaching, I imagined a 1-2 year transition out of research and into a full time coaching practice.

It hasn't worked out exactly how I imagined.

In fact, I've been living a double life.


Locally, I am known in the business community: the owner of Optimal Development Coaching, a vice chair on the board of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Instructor for Women’s Economic Ventures Self Employment Training class, a master mind facilitator, speaker and workshop leader with a focus on strengths. I belong to a number of organizations supporting the arts, education and the empowerment of women and girls. I'm a Girl Scout leader and active volunteer in my area.

But to my colleagues in the mental health community I've been a part of for so many years, I'm known as a master trainer, conference and webinar presenter, published author, psychologist, clinical and research supervisor, grant reviewer, curriculum developer, workgroup leader and instructor of clinical psychology at Columbia University.

See what I mean by a double life?

sign picSo now I'm bringing it all together with a variety of different projects, all of which still involve training, educating and coaching. I’m working on national initiatives to educate treatment providers about telehealth, i.e., the use of technology to improve treatment outcomes. This is cutting edge, research-based work that has relevance for changes in our health system as we implement the Affordable Care Act. My goal is to develop tech-savvy leaders in health care.

I will continue to offer workshops and facilitate retreats and team building events focused on developing collaborative, strengths-based, emotionally intelligent people and organizations. I'm excited to collaborate with Susan Ross at the Good Vibe Studio, an amazing work, music and meeting space in Thousand Oaks, CA, a great option to tap into creativity at a personal or professional development event.

Susan and I are also students and zealots of the master mind, each coming at it from different, yet complementary perspectives. For the last few months, we've been running a master mind group at the Studio. What a joy it is to watch these business owners benefit from the collective genius the mastermind brings to brainstorm, problem-solve and create and reach their goals - even the audacious ones!

We meet the third Wednesday of the month, with a 3rd Monday group forming. It's perfect for small business owners who are looking to finish the year strong with a plan to hit the ground running in 2014. Through the end of 2013, a 3-month block of sessions, which includes the monthly mastermind as well as personalized follow-up and feedback, is $149. I'm happy to send more details.

I'm working on two books for 2014 publication. The Optimal Development Leadership System  will bring together work on strengths, emotional intelligence, team building and other important facets of being an effective leader. It's a collection of research-based best practices in effective leadership. 

The ABCs of the Master Mind is a collaboration with my dear friend and colleague Cheri Ruskus as a result of co-hosting Victory Circles Radio Hour on the first Wednesday of each month. We always develop an acronym to help listeners understand the different mindset principles that Napoleon Hill drafted in Think and Grow Rich.

As my path continues to evolve and shift, as I reinvent myself, I'm sure I’ll be updating you again soon.

Do you ever feel like you're living a double life? What's your recent reinvention? Any guidance for me on my journey? Questions about my changing path? I'd love to hear from you.

gloria-miele-head-shotGloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, trainer and executive coach who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  She also offers training and coaching programs to develop tech-savvy leaders in health care. To learn more, visit  www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com where you can sign up to receive a free tool to optimize your strengths. 


What Will You Do in the Next 100 Days?

100 Yes, there are just 100 days left in 2013.

Hard to believe, right?

Aside from your holiday shopping (yes, I said it!!), what do you want to accomplish before the year ends?

Here are a few things you can do to make the most out of the remaining days and weeks of 2013:

1. Review your goals from the beginning of the year. I'm sure you've been doing this all along, but in case you haven't been, pull out out that business plan, goal-setting activity or vision board you did at the beginning of the year, and see how far you've come! What goals have you met? Which ones have you exceeded? And what do you still want to accomplish before we say goodbye to 2013?

2. Choose carefully. If you still have a number of goals yuo have yet to achieve, be selective about what you want to get done in the next 3+ months. Definitely make your goals SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Thrilling.

Yes, thrilling. While you've probably seen the T in SMART goals referred to as Timely, and that's important, I believe that's covered in Measurable (e.g., I'll send one newsletter weekly).

Making your goals thrilling, that is exciting, to you will make it more likely that you'll achieve them. See if you can add some sizzle to your goals by making them focused on your strengths as well as your vision and long-range goals.

3. Make a plan. Take out your calendar and start filling in the blanks. How will you meet those goals and get to the finish line? Do you want to revise your business plan before the end of the year? Maybe tackle one section every week. 

Do you want to establish a better exercise routine before the new year? Mark off time to get moving 3 or more times a week.

4. Make a commitment. It's one thing to make a plan, but committing to it publicly and telling others about it gives you a much greater chance of getting it done.

So what do you want to accomplish in the next 100 days?

Share your ideas in the comments!

Ready, set, GO!!

gloria-miele-head-shotGloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, trainer and executive coach who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  She also offers training and coaching programs to develop tech-savvy leaders in health care. To learn more, visit  www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com where you can sign up to receive a free tool to optimize your strengths. 


Try Walking with Colleagues to Build Relationships and Think Outside the Box

What do Steve Jobs, Aristotle, Harry Truman and Sigmund Freud have in common? They all had meetings while they walked.

This idea is getting a lot of attention as people are focused more on their physical health and may feel long work hours prevent them from getting that 30 minutes or more of doctor recommended exercise every day.

In a recent TED talk, entrepreneur Nilofer Merchant discussed her use of walk and talk meetings. "Fresh air brings fresh thinking," she said, and points out the health problem with the way we work these days: "Sitting has become the smoking of our generation." And if you need more evidence that sitting is evil, check out this infographic.

Ouch! That makes me want to stand up and take a walk!  You can watch her full TED talk (less than 4 minutes) below.

Of course another benefit of walking is that it raises your heart rate, so more oxygen reaches your brain. This can lead to having more energy, more focus and improved engagement in the task at hand.

You can also take a walk to grow your business. Nancy Chaconas, Legal Shield Associate and outdoor enthusiast, spearheaded a networking group at our local Chamber of Commerce: Netwalking. Professionals meet at a local park once a month (3rd Friday), take a walk and learn more about each other's businesses.

Meeting in a more casual environment allows you to get to know people in a more relaxed setting and often at a deeper level than takes place at your standard mixer.


Interested in other ways you can improve your thinking? Listen to a recent radio show I did with Victory Circle's founder Cheri Ruskus on the master mind principle of Accurate Thinking. We talk about the impact that movement and environment can have on your thinking.


Have you ever had a walking meeting? Do you find physical exercise affects the way you think? Share your experiences below.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, gloria-miele-head-shottrainer and executive coach who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  Enter your email address above for more great, strengths-based resources to become a stronger leader.


Are You a Servant Leader?

I recently asked readers to share how they volunteer in their communities, and now I'm sharing their stories with you. Holding Hands with Elderly PatientI love the passion that people have for their causes. I truly believe that as leaders we need to serve others.  There’s a whole movement related to Servant Leadership, a term coined by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay

Are you familiar with the concept? From the web site: "Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world."

Young Man and Woman Giving Food and Water to Homeless ManA leader needs to be focused on the big picture, the bottom line and the greater good. She's someone who is a good and empathic listener who takes a genuine interest in the people on her team. He is a caring individual who considers positive outcomes that go beyond profit margins and invested in experiences that create purpose and meaning on a bigger scale. 

Here are a few of the ways people are serving their communities:

“I have been a volunteer fitness instructor twice a week for a Women's Ministry at a local church for over 20 years. I love it! :-)”

Rosanne MacDonald, C.Ht.,  www.hypnovitality.com

“I learned about volunteering first from my parents and then from The Foundation of a corporation I worked for. My consulting business contributes at least 5% of total revenue per year in financial support distributed amongst several not-for-profits we've selected, and I donate at least 10% of my professional time (=200+ hours per year) to various organizations I support. I enjoy it and the organizations appreciate it. I recommend setting up a similar program, within the capabilities of the business enterprise, to any business owner interested in giving back.”

Gene Mancini, Environmental Scientist

“Although I haven't been able to spend time actually being with and volunteering for this group, I have a goal to do it soon.  In the mean time I have been raising money to help fund the program.  Achilles International's mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self-esteem and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life.  My goal is to be a guide for runners and triathletes who are blind or disabled, and hopefully be a key player in bringing a chapter to Ventura County.   http://www.achillesinternational.org

Dani Bansen, Runwithdani.com

 “I volunteer with www.WhatCanWe.org, an amazing organization dedicated to helping offset veterinary costs for licensed animal rescues. We are seeking volunteers of all ages and will pair them with mentors who are community and business leaders. Learn more at our website. (And of course, Gloria Miele, with Scouts!)”

Bonnie Quintanilla, Corridor Communications

“[I volunteer] with my church, Crossroads. They do community outreach with the homeless in Oxnard, seniors here in Camarillo, and much more.”

Mary Gillette, Sewbella Memory Quilts

 “I mentor several people continuously, mostly positive psychology students or coaches, write reviews for others, and showcase their work, give to the poor, help out professional organizations, hug everyone I can, and I practice ‘pay it forward’.  As Positive Psychologist Dr. Chris Peterson said, ‘Other People Matter.’”

Judy Krings, www.coachingpositivity.com

"Women’s Economic Ventures!"

Lisa Braithwaite, Public Speaking Coach, www.coachlisab.com (and recent recipient of WEV’’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year award)

Don't you love it?

Some of my favorite volunteer opportunities are with organizations that support the arts, education and the empowerment of women and girls, including Girl Scouts, AAUW, CAPE Charter School and the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce.

What's your favorite way to serve others? What part of the world are you trying to make a better place? I'd love to hear about it below!

gloria-miele-head-shotGloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a business development and leadership coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She helps entrepreneurs and other business leaders develop the mind set and the skill set to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Strengths-Based Goal-Setting Tool.  You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.