Need a diploma?

Need a diploma?

I drafted my first official diploma a few weeks ago.  

I took a piece of white paper out of the closet, got out my favorite fountain pen and chose a canary yellow marker for the “official stamp” that I drew above my signature. 

I spent some time on that stamp. I really wanted it to look like foil. The kind glued to passports and birth certificates that screams THIS IS OFFICIAL BUSINESS!

No, I haven’t started a side hustle as a notary public or an administrative assistant. 

I just decided right there in my office that my client deserved an official something to move ahead despite her fears. 

You see, French culture believes in certificates. In official stamps. In procedure. 

If something comes easily, that means you’ve done it wrong, cheated your way to the top, gotten a free ride, missed an essential piece of knowledge along the way.

It’s got to be painful to be worthwhile.

And that goes for pretty much everything— from getting into a top-notch business school and opening a bank account to returning a T-shirt at Monoprix. 

Beware of the chairs

Beware of the chairs

Chairs. They provide comfort. Security. A soft spot to land a tired tush at the end of the day. And if you work at a desk eight hours a day, they definitely know your butt better than you do. 

But they’re deceptive objects: they support us, but they also condition us. Leaving us a bit numb and indifferent to spontaneous opportunities and whims.

Did you know that the fewer chairs you have at a party the happier your guests will be?

I learned that at my previous job in marketing where we regularly hosted events for our community.

Events were the glue that kept our community close. Without them, the social seams that we worked so hard to build unraveled quickly. Needless to say, we became damn good at party-throwing.

As soon as we entered a venu we removed all chairs in sight. 

Stacking them up in closets, behind bars, under blankets, so that when the first guests arrived they they had no where to hide. (If you’re wondering, the second most important thing is to have the music playing by the time people show up. There’s nothing sadder than a music-less party, ami right?!).

Speaking of parties. I held my first little gathering for my coaching clients a few weeks ago. It’s been a dream of mine since before I became a coach to build a community of awesome, inspiring women.

Five Empowering Life Lessons From Michelle Obama (That You May Have Missed)

 Five Empowering Life Lessons From Michelle Obama (That You May Have Missed)

I’ve had Michelle Obama in my ears for the last month. In the morning as I walk to work, doing my groceries on the way home, heading off to meet friends for dinner, on the park bench while watching my kids play soccer.


She’s become a trusted advisor. A wisdom whisperer. A funny pal. Her impeccably articulated stories now etched into my day-to-day memories.


In the fifteen hours that I’ve listened to her a few key moments stand out. Not the rousing moments woven into her sold-out live book tour performances (that I loved, BTW!), but softer moments.


Subtle and quiet, they show shifts in perspective as Michelle takes more and more responsibility for her own happiness and fulfilment.


Learning how to take charge of your own happiness and fulfilment is a theme that means a lot to me. Why? Because it’s the bedrock of the coaching journey—the springboard that creates big leaps forward.


So in a celebration of subtle springboards, I present you with:

Michelle Obama’s Five Discreet Life Lessons On Taking Charge Of Your Own Happiness and Fulfilment (That Didn’t Make It To The Book Tour)


Lesson 1: If You Want To Find Your True Self You First Have To Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You

Michelle Obama lived the first 28 years of her life as a happy control freak, following a strict recipe of hard work and determination. Even her stuffed animals were stiff. When the question “Am I good enough?,” regularly popped up in her head, she pushed herself even harder to prove her worth to others. Following a success-driven path on a straight-and-narrow road landed her in the corner office of a swanky law firm with the prospect of climbing even higher up the lawerly ladder. But then she met Barack, a late to meetings, unpredictable, out-of-the-box thinker with a wild drive and no clear path. Falling for Barack was a challenge ideologically and emotionally. It meant rebelling against predictability. Against the establishment. Against the perfection impression she hoped to project. Allowing herself to fall in love with him was the start of her swerve off the predictable path into a windy, challenging, imperfect, but deeply more satisfying one.

In Michelle’s Words:

"This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path—the my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly."

Click over to read the rest

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 3 of 3.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 3 of 3.

This is the final instalment of a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy" and help you move forward with meaning. Click here to read the first part and here to read the second part. 


A bow-tied Jiminy Cricket with a head full of question marks

A black, viscous, oily splotch 

An oval face with empty eyes and a gaping mouth

A green carnival mask 



Are these clues from a dated detective board game? 

Or elusive fragments from an epic dream?


All good guesses, but they’re actually illustrations of limiting beliefs drawn by some of my clients. 


And they play a critical role in how to send your self-sabotaging thoughts and emotions packing in order to free up space for those that spark joy instead.  


Before we get into that, let's recap what we’ve uncovered in these last two blog posts:

  • We learned how to detect thoughts and beliefs that are self-sabotaging and fear-based.

  • We learned how those thoughts and beliefs trigger emotions and then actions.


I’m not sure which beliefs you’d like to transform, but let’s play with one that many women hear with the volume on full-blast. 


“I’m not good enough.”


Did you know that if women don’t feel 100% qualified for a position they won’t apply for it, while men apply if they think they meet just 60% of the job criteria?


That’s exactly how a limiting belief like “I’m not good enough” can translate into emotions such as fear and insecurity which then trigger actions (or inaction in this case). 


So how do we go about unraveling that belief, or at least diminishing its grip on our lives? Click over to find out.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

This is the second of a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy."
Click
here to read the first part.


It's 11:45am on a rainy Parisian spring day. I walk into an empty restaurant where I have plans to meet a friend for lunch an hour later. 


I tell the woman behind the counter that I’m early for lunch, but that I’d like to have a coffee and sit and work a bit before my friend arrives. 


“There’s no one in the kitchen now,” she snips. 


“That’s fine, I’m not ordering any food yet,” I say.


“How many will you be?” she asks. 


“Just two.”


She points to a table by the door and tells me that’s the only table for two that’s available. 


It’s raining and chilly outside and I ask whether I can sit somewhere further inside.


She points to another table in the back, by the toilets. 


I’m not feeling that location either. Especially since every single seat in the place is currently empty and it's just a casual, neighborhood place. 


I spot a little table for two on the cushioned couch in the center of the restaurant and ask if I can sit there. 


She rolls her eyes, let's out a huge exasperated sigh and nods “yes” reluctantly.  


I walk calmly over to the table, take off my backpack and my bright red raincoat. As I start to sit down I hear the dull thud of old coffee being banged out of the portafilter and the hissing of steam on the espresso machine. 


I turn around and say, “oh, I’d like an allongée” (an americano)  not the regular short café that I assume she’s starting to make.


She lets out another enormous sigh, so loud this time that I can feel her distain wash over my body like the Polar vortex.


My throat seizes, my heart starts racing. I want to scream and run out of there. 


In the 45 seconds that this entire scene unfolds a million thoughts have raced through my mind. 


“I hate this woman!”

“I’m going to walk out of here.”

“I’m going to leave a bad review on Yelp.”

“I should contact the owner and complain.” 

“This would never happen in America.”

“People are evil.”


The emotions that boiled up were a mix of hatred, anger, even guilt. ("How did I provoke this?")


And then I took a deep breath and thought about my last message to you about tracking self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings, which brought on a wave of new ones:


“She must be having a hard day.”

“This job clearly isn’t working out for her.”

“Interacting with humans is hard when you're miserable.”

“It’s not you Zeva, it’s her.”

“Write about this and you’ll feel better.”


I suddenly felt more calm, grounded, confident, and even grateful as I found the tools to transform this experience into something positive. 


How did that all happen? If we slow down the process frame-by-frame, like in a comic book, this is how thoughts and emotions work together.  (Click over to read more)

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 1 of 3.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 1 of 3.

This is the first in a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy" and help you move forward with meaning. 


Marie Kondo has helped millions of people rid their homes of objects that clutter their lives. 


“My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying,” she says in the first episode of her Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo before we meet an overwhelmed couple with two young kids and a house busting at the seams.


“The cluttered house seems to be affecting their relationship as well,” says Kondo about Rachel and Kevin, the exhausted homeowners and young couple who are having a seriously hard time liking each other.  


“I would like to help this couple focus on what matters most to them, time with their family,” she continues before helping them bring light and joy back into their home. And, more importantly, back into their couple. 


Where focus goes, the energy flows. 


By asking people to wake up their objects, hold them close and look for a spark of joy in their bodies, Marie Kondo is teaching people how to identify and focus on what's most important. 


She’s also helping people learn a physical and emotional language in order to do so— a new tool to put in their self-development toolbox.


What I love about her concept, dear reader,  is how poetic and simple it is. 


And how it can be applied not only to objects, but also to the beliefs in your head. 



Click over to find out what I mean by that.

How to get a full-body YES when making a big life decision

How to get a full-body YES when making a big life decision

I pulled out a black-and-white marble notebook and drew a big line down the center of a page.  

 

It was Spring of 1992 and I was a Senior in High School. My mom, step-dad and my best friend Helen were with me celebrating at Fiorentino’s, the best Italian restaurant (RIP) in all of Brooklyn.

 

We had just finished off a couple of orders of “spiedini alla romana,” the deep-fried mozzarella with anchovy sauce that the restaurant was famous for and that I still dream about to this day.  

 

And now it was time to get down to some serious business before our main dishes arrived. Deciding which college I would go to the following year. 

 

So we did what most people do when faced with an enormous, once-in-a-lifetime decision: a pros and cons list! 

 

What a concise and curious way of making a huge life decision, don't you think?

  • We challenge ourselves to get really, really cerebral and serious about a decision.

  • We write down a bunch of items in each column in a factual, dissociated way.

  • We diligently count up the number on each side. 

  • We make a decision based on the column that has the highest score.

  • We stick to that decision OR scrap it all and decide what we really want to do. 

  • And we try to complete the task all before the check arrives!

Even though I’m pretty certain I made the right move when it came to college, as a coach I’ve learned that pros and cons lists are terribly flawed because they often neglect the physical and emotional components of decision making.


A better way to “experience” a decision is to travel into the future and try it on for size, looking for clues to what its impact may be from an emotional, physical and intellectual perspective.


When it comes to making full-body decisions I’ve seen my clients have huge revelations with the “sit and scan” technique we do together. 

 

So, what’s the “sit and scan” technique, how does it blow pros and cons lists out of the water, and how can you learn the steps to make full-body YES decisions all on your own?

Read on to find out.