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Growth Health and Wellness Management Women In Business

Mindful Leadership – Be Alive With What You Believe

If mindlessness is being asleep at the wheel of life, mindfulness is becoming more awake and aware of your beliefs—as media mogul Oprah Winfrey says, “What I know for sure.” What do you know for sure?

Your mindful practice for today is to push away from your desk for just two to five minutes—yes, you can set your phone timer.

Use that time to ask your inner self what is it you believe about the way you are running your life. What is it you believe about the way you are running your business?

Breathe, pause, breathe again.

Don’t panic! You don’t have to tell anyone, and there are no right or wrong answers.

The answers are found in mindful breathing.

What you believe tends to be what manifests in your life. If you believe life is a challenge, you get more challenges. If you believe it’s supportive and easy, you get more ease.

This week, spend those few minutes a day thinking about what you want to believe about an experience you are having. Feel in your body what you want to believe. Your feelings are your power center.  Believe in the power of you!

AFFIRMATION:  My beliefs empower the life I want to live. 

Mindfulness matters!

Growth Health and Wellness Management Women In Business

Where to Begin Mindful Leadership? Centering

Our world is overwhelming. This is the third week of the last fifteen that a major shooting has been in the news as I write.

Our fear of being alone, or missing out on something important makes us feel we need to sift through the constant, unprecedented deluge of information coming at us, even though we know most of it is just noise. We have less recovery time between events, and we’re getting less of the sleep we need to rejuvenate. It’s unsustainable, it’s exhausting, and it leads to a mindlessness that takes a toll on our personal and professional lives.

Enter mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming fully present in the moment. It is often confused with meditation. While meditation is one form of mindfulness practice, it’s not the only one. In today’s 24/7/365 world where stress is rampant, mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, decrease health challenges, and increase focus, resulting in a better quality of home and work life.

Mindfulness has seven practices. I’m going to guide you thru these steps. I intend this series will educate, connect, and hopefully inspire you to try each of the seven for just two to five minutes on the next seven posts—and all week long.

Week 1 Mini-Practice: Centering
Centering is practicing the process of reconnecting to the still, small voice inside of you. Centering in partnership with breathing and small hand motions will bring you back to you.

Today, push yourself away from your desk for just two minutes.  Yes, you can set a timer if it reduces your stress. Feel your breath enter through your nose and move through to your heart center, then exhale through your mouth. Do this three times. When was the last time you took a mindful breath?

Next time you are heading to a conversation that may be less than mindful, try centering. This practice, while simple, is not easy.  The more you try it this week, the more you are likely to let go of mindless and become more mindful.

Mindful Matters!



Growth Health and Wellness Management Women In Business

What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

We live in world that demands our immediate attention 24/7/365.  We have created a culture that rewards busy, but also punishes it with poor health, stress, often relationship crisis and often-mental fatigue.  As the world seems to speed up year over year many professionals are opting for a different way – mindfulness


Mindfulness is the process of bringing your whole self, body, brain and spirit, awareness to the present moment.  It is taking moment to pause and calmly acknowledge how you are feeling and thinking in the present moment.

Mindfulness is not simply meditation.  It’s a way of being and a choice on your leading and living.

Mindfulness was named one of the 2018 business trends. There are seven practices to become a mindful CEO running a more peaceful, presence filled, and profitable company. I’ll share with you the strategies and research behind the companies applying mindfulness in the next 7 weeks.

Growth Health and Wellness

Belle’s World – Death

Original Prompt published on July 21, 2017 on Belle’s World.

Has a death made you re-evaluate your entire professional career or personal life?

Over the past week, I have read two articles, by successful executives who have dealt with death.  One executive lost a son who was only 18.  He is dealing with the emotional upheaval that he lived longer than his son.  The other executive had a peer who was only 40 suddenly pass away.  These incidents have an impact on our emotional capacity and core.  They make us think about the uncertainty of our own lives, careers and life journey.

The first death that affected me happened in 2012.  I was already 2 years into renewing focus on my life journey and ability to own who I was both in my personal and professional life. I will always remember March 2010 as a true outward turning point in my life – it was when I got divorced for the second time at 33 years old.  I had been shattered emotionally and was starting my journey with a new purpose (another post for another day!).  In 2012, a respected Assistant Vice President passed away on vacation, in his sleep, next to his wife. He was only 41, had no children and was making an impact, in his work both internally and externally.   There were no outward signs or health issues that would give any indication that we were going to lose him.  Over time, it was released that he was very stressed with work but just kept it internalized instead of finding and using his network to support finding solutions to his stress.  I was two years into my new journey and this incident made me think, what I wanted considering I was now single and didn’t want children.  I had already made a shift from being a brand marketer to leading innovation which allowed me to be closer to the way I thought and could envision the future.

The second death hit me harder.  Cathy Coughlin was a mentor and the CMO of AT&T when I knew her.  She accepted me for the person I was – someone who was a little different than others.  Cathy was a successful woman in what had been a very white male dominated executive board.  She came up through the ranks and played her part well.  She was highly intelligent and for her time knew how to fit in but also bring her knowledge to the table.  She followed the rules to get where she was and I respected her greatly for her journey.  I on the other hand, was breaking “rules” left and right both in my personal and professional life.  In the beginning, she would be embarrassed for me if I was a little too open or blunt about how I saw things.   Over time, she began to appreciate me for the same and would ask for my opinion when we met.  She was one of the first work individuals who noticed, when I outwardly started changing my appearance from being old school power suit professional with long hair to owning my presentation of who I was to the outside world.  Cathy passes away in 2015 at the age of only 57.  I was no longer at AT&T but I received 5 texts, when it was announced, from folks who knew my relationship with her.  I cried that night as I hadn’t had a chance to see her since 2012 when I had left her organization.  She had made the biggest impact on me with her support of someone who was so different from her and others in the organization.  She gave me the some of the strength I needed as I was moving on my transformational journey to truly own what path I wanted to take forward.

The third death was very personal and happened at a time when I had already left the corporate world and was spending my full time focusing on me.  I met June in 2014, at the Joule Hotel lobby while she was sipping a dirty martini in honor of a celebration of life for one of her close friends, alone.  I went over and a 2 year friendship began.  She became part of my life family and a mirror to my future.  I thought I had years of time with her but I always made sure to make time for her or meet her if she could.  June was 82 when I met her and a firecracker.  In some ways, I think she was busier than me!  When I was with her, I felt happy and fulfilled that I could learn from her and move forward in owning myself and my journey the way I want it and not based on what the path should be.  She passes away February 1, 2016 at the age of 84 because of a fall.  I will never forget the day, as its my dad’s birthday.  June had also been a very accomplished lady during her time but I knew her as a friend and the relationship we cultivated.

We know that life at the end of the day is about a legacy we leave and the legacy is left through relationships.  As a whole, even the most successful people are remembered by their relationships with those around them.  I am still a very ambitious individual. These deaths were a piece of my self-awareness journey as I continued to focus on how I could make an impact on people and feel fulfilled with the work I was doing.  The journey of owning who I was – personality, thought process, lifestyle – took almost 6 years. It is not an overnight journey and in many ways harder to do alone.  I had the support of a life family that didn’t judge me and gave me a safe space to evolve.  This is what I now provide to others.

I enjoyed the corporate world while I was in it. However, at some point the box wasn’t big enough for my thoughts and ideas.  So today, I focus my energy on impacting individuals and continuing to build relationships doing what I do best.  Connecting and making people see their own paths.  The focus can sometimes make me be away from my “family” but it is a part of what drives me and is accepted by those in my life.  Over the years, I have had the consistent, honest conversations on who I am and how I want to live my life.  It allows the people in my life to manage their expectations on what support I can provide to their lives.  At this point, death is no longer something that will shake my world as I make sure that I have good relations and spend time with those that matter to me.  It will always be shocking when you see young deaths of good people and the definition of young is changing everyday as we live longer.

How has death affected your view of your personal life and professional career?

Welcome to Belle’s world. Everything in this world is based on a bell curve. Our media concentrates on giving advice to make everyone be a part of the masses.

This is a weekly series of Urvi’s insights on her perception of the world. They say perception is reality and she lives in her own fantasy world. This allows her to delve into the human element of our lives, helping individuals decipher their own souls, to understand, who they are and what they want, in the journey of life.

Belle’s world explores the extremes and goes beyond the surface. Ready to read about some of the “elephants in the room?”

Contact urvi, if you want to build your emotional wealth and enhance your life based on your inner core.  A confidential and non judgement zone that allows you to begin to flourish in life, love, career, wealth – your personal journey.  #thehumanelement

Best Practices Health and Wellness Human Resources Management Marketing Skills Women In Business

How to Avoid Conflict – Part 1

At some point or other, we all have to have important conversations that have the potential to get ugly and uncomfortable. When in doubt, I say do your best to avoid the conflict.

I’m not talking about avoiding people in the hallways, refusing to answer the phone or saying “yes” to everyone – whether or not you mean it – so that you don’t have to say “no.”

There will always be disagreements and necessary discussions about difficult or unpleasant topics. But these conversations do not need to degenerate into round after round of browbeating to try to get your point across.

Ideally, the goal is to address the issue in a way that gets to the heart of the matter, and reaches a mutually agreeable resolution quickly and efficiently without raising voices or blood pressure. There is one intuitive – and yet commonly overlooked – key that can keep most disagreements in the realm of civil, productive discussion.

The key is consciously listening to understand. This is where most people fall woefully short in both their efforts and their outcomes. Listening to understand is critical to avoiding real argument for one crucial reason: most people continue to argue a point because they feel like they have not truly been heard or understood.

Most people think that they listen, but the short answer is that they don’t do it right. Let’s look at the difference and key strategies for listening in a way that gets to a peaceful, positive, and productive result.


Listening “wrong”

In disagreements, most people “listen” in order to find an opportunity to interrupt, contradict, or defend. This isn’t sincere listening; it’s more like scanning the horizon for the best time to retaliate.

When both parties are simultaneously focused proving why they are correct and the other is wrong, what they are both (rightfully) saying is, “You’re not listening to me!”

This quickly leads to an impasse with one of two outcomes: The first is that both sides leave feeling frustrated, with no resolution to the issue at hand. In the second, one side “wins” by forcing the other side to concede, i.e. lose. This leaves the winner with a bitter-sweet “victory,” and the loser feeling resentful, a combination that will have a variety of negative repercussions down the line in the form of morale, work quality, and office politics just to name a few.

The irony is that when people are able to voice their concerns, and truly feel like they have been heard and understood, they are often willing to accept “no” for an answer. So how does that work?


Listening “right”

When you listen to understand, you start by erasing any presuppositions and assumptions that you already know what they’re going to say and why. Instead, you enter the conversation from the perspective that there’s a missing piece, something you don’t yet know or understand about their position, priorities, interests or concerns. Be curious.

Invite the other person to share first. A good strategy is to take notes as you listen, which serves several purposes. First, you can record any key points so that you don’t forget them, which serves as a good future reference resource.

Second, you can jot down any questions or other thoughts you want to share. Don’t get me wrong – the idea is not to list all the points you disagree on just so you can launch into a point-counterpoint debate when it’s your turn to speak. That feels litigious, not collaborative or respectful.

Writing down your ideas as you listen has a variety of benefits. First and foremost, it keeps you from interrupting. When people aren’t interrupted, they feel more respected and less stressed or frustrated, which helps to keep the peace. But it also gives you a chance to reflect and organize your thoughts before you do finally speak, which can streamline the process, avoid clumsy and emotionally-charged knee-jerk responses, and help you prioritize issues to address.



In part 2 we’ll address Talking from Listening: once you’ve heard them out, what do you say to keep things moving in the right direction?


Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss them with me personally!

Best Practices Health and Wellness Human Resources Management Marketing Skills Women In Business

How to Avoid Conflict – Part 2

In my previous blog, we looked at the difference between “Listening Wrong” and “Listening Right” as a part of “Listening to Understand,” a fundamental principle in laying the ground work to have a potentially difficult conversation in a way that is constructive rather than combative.

Now, let’s look at strategies for when it’s your turn to talk, after you have successfully demonstrated listening to understand. 

Once the other person has finished sharing their perspective, don’t sabotage the exchange by launching into a “now it’s my turn to talk and your turn to listen” monologue. Remember that you entered the conversation with the initial goal of understanding their perspective. So the first step you need to take in line with this goal is to confirm your understanding.

A great segue can be as simple as, “Thanks for taking the time to explain that to me. I want to make sure I understand the key issues. Can I run through my main takeaways based on what I heard, and you can correct me if I’m off somehow?” Who would say no to such a request?

Once you have the go-ahead, start by paraphrasing your understanding of their key points. You should use simple, reporting language such as, “You said that your budget _____,” or “Did I understand correctly that in your department _____,” or “Your primary concern is that _____, right?” Whatever you do, do not comment on anything yet.

This step also serves multiple purposes with mutual benefits. From the other person’s side, they are happy to know that you are valuing their input enough to take time to ensure that you understood it. Plus, it is reassuring for them to have you confirm that whatever they said was received as it was intended. This builds trust and facilitates further discussion.

More importantly, paraphrasing this way ensures that you actually did understand all of their key points. Misunderstandings could be due to missing or improperly stated information in their initial explanation, or perhaps you were writing something down and didn’t catch something else they said at the time.

Regardless of the cause, once you have had a chance to confirm the facts, then everyone is satisfied that all key information is on the table, and, most importantly, they feel relieved to know that they have been heard and understood.

From there, you can transition into sharing your side of the story with something like, “Okay, well, let’s start with _____.” It’s important to keep your language objective, and if you feel like their view on something is incorrect, keep your explanation fact-based, calm and impersonal. There’s a big difference between saying, “There are a few details I don’t think your team is aware of,” and, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

If the other person does not play by the same rules and interrupts you when it’s your turn, you can explicitly draw their attention to the contrast and make a respectful request: “I’m sure you’ll have some comments and questions, which I welcome, but I listened to you without interrupting, and would appreciate the same courtesy in return.” You can offer them some paper to take notes on while they listen, for their own benefit, and ask them to paraphrase what they understood when you’re done, so they can follow your model more completely as well.

At best, once you have heard each other out, and truly sought to understand each other’s objectives and reasons, you can come to a solution that meets everyone’s needs. But at the very least, if the answer still has to be “no,” there is still potential for positive outcome.

At that point, “no” can sound more like, “I truly appreciate the fact that/your concern about ___. For now, we have to prioritize _____ because of _____, but I understand the impact that it will have on your situation, so…”

Even though the other person might not be happy with the immediate result, it’s much easier for them to accept the outcome because they understand why, and are emotionally satisfied that they have been respected as a person and a professional.

In the end, difficult topics are addressed productively without fighting and casualties of war, and respectful relationships are not only maintained but strengthened. You’re not avoiding the issue, you’re avoiding creating a mess.

More importantly, you’re leading by example, and fostering a healthy culture of open communication, transparency, and mutual respect.

That’s the difference between someone who has a leadership position, and someone who is a leader.



Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss them with me personally!

Entrepreneurship Health and Wellness Management Women In Business

Thin Without Dieting

Check out the video here.

What’s the most frustrating thing you think about when you look at your body and say to yourself, “I need to lose 20 pounds?”

Is it?:

  • How am I possibly going to do this? I’ve tried so many times.
  • Dieting has never worked for me.
  • Even if I lose 20 pounds, how am I going to keep them off?
  • I just like to eat. Now what?

The bottom line is that diets don’t work. The recidivism rate on people who were on a diet is over 95%.  You resent having to deprive yourself, so why do it?

In today’s video Esateys gives six simple rules of how to lose weight and keep it off without dieting. 

Change your life style and your eating habits and you will change your waistline. Guaranteed!!  

And when you lose weight and keep it off  you will feel so much better about yourself and that will make you more productive and successful in your business and in every area of your life.

More on Esateys. www.esateys.com

Best Practices Culture Growth Health and Wellness Human Resources Management Women In Business

Dads: Raise Your Daughters to be CEOS

Father’s Day is coming up, so in the spirit of honoring the male role models in our lives, I’d like to share a special note with all the dads and other men (and women) out there about how to raise your daughters to be a successful, confident and happy future executive.

Over the years, I’ve spoken in front of myriad professional women’s groups, and coached women at every level and in every industry imaginable, and one factor regularly surfaces as having a major influence on their current levels of confidence and self-efficacy: their relationship with their fathers.

I often get asked how I’ve developed my confidence and sense of self, and more and more I realize how much of the credit goes to my father (and mother) for setting this foundation in me in all these ways and more.

Dad (a music teacher) encouraged me to audition for all-state band (I played the alto sax), which I did all four years of high school, even though I only made it once. After each audition, we’d talk about what went right and wrong and how to do better next time.

He pushed me to take honors classes but didn’t flinch when I agreed to take AP history and Spanish but not calculus (thank goodness!)

(I’ll probably get flack for this, but I’m going to mention it anyway.) He also always told me I was pretty, even when my ever-fluctuating adolescent weight was on the top end of the yo-yo curve. To a teenage girl’s self-esteem, it mattered. A lot.

When I decided to go for my PhD instead of getting a “regular job” he asked probing questions so we could discuss the pros and cons and the best way to make it work.

And he never once gave me a guilt trip about my biological clock or his (undeniable) desire for grandchildren even though I was 40 before I finally met my husband.

He let me know that he recognized my efforts and intentions, trusted my judgment and respected my decision, even when we didn’t see eye to eye.

Most importantly, even when I had genuinely messed up, even though he was really upset with me in the moment, he never belittled me or called me names, and he made it clear that he still loved me.

So for all you parents, here are four strategies for how to communicate with your daughters in a way that builds her confidence and empowers her with the skills and perspective to be a successful leader:

  • Talk to your daughter. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations, and ask tough and sometimes personal questions to help her think through things, then be prepared to listen. Listen to truly understand her motivations rather than to identify the holes in her argument and formulate your rebuttal.
  • Challenge her to try new things, and set ambitious but attainable goals. Celebrate victories, acknowledge and praise progress and efforts. Recognize the difference between when to say, “it’s okay, you can’t win ‘em all” and “I don’t think you really gave it your best. What happened?”
  • Invite her to initiate difficult conversations with you instead of hiding her true feelings.
  • Even when she does make a mistake or otherwise does something you don’t approve of, make it clear that the you think the decision or action was dumb, not that she is stupid. Then – possibly an hour or so later after you’ve cooled off – remind her that you love her and are proud of her no matter what.

If you can fine-tune your objectivity regarding this aspect of your relationship with your daughters now – no matter what their age or family or professional status – that sets a foundation for success that no fancy MBA can match!


Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss them with me personally!

Best Practices Growth Health and Wellness Management

Friendly Rivalry

On June 1st the Cleveland Cavaliers will face off against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. This is the first time the same two opponents have met three straight times in the championship series in the over 70 year history of the league.


While the recent success of these two clubs has pitted each team against one another for the championship title, many sports fans, analysts and historians wouldn’t consider Cleveland-Golden State a heated rivalry — certainly not on the same tier as other sports rivalries like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, or even the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. In fact, a recent news article described the upcoming series as a ‘friendly rivalry’.


I was recently at a conference attended by many of my “competitors”. And while one could think that a conference filled with so many competitors could have created an environment that is hostile, guarded, secretive, and filled with an “unwillingness to share” attitude — it was exactly the opposite.


The whole event was overflowing with best practices, helpful and creative ideas and a focus of everyone wanting to help one another be EVEN better.


I’d argue that those I considered my closest competitors have become trusted advisors and, even, some of my closest confidants.


A little competition is healthy, and having friendly rivals can actually make you stronger and wiser.


As for the Cavs and Warriors, while they’ll be battling it out over the next few weeks and be fierce competitors, their underlying respect and appreciation of one another will raise their game to a higher level.


Lou Diamond is the Founder & CEO of Thrive – a leading consulting and coaching company helping the best people and companies become even more amazing. He is also the author of the newly released international best-selling book “Master the Art of Connecting“ and podcast host of “Thrive LOUD with Lou Diamond”

Growth Health and Wellness Human Resources

3 Steps to Fearless Communication learned from the United Airlines Story

While the details of the removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight are still being uncovered, there are many things to learn from this unacceptable outcome.

In all likelihood there were people who could have stopped this from escalating to what it became. There were people who had the skills to move through the conflict with calm and produce an ending that would have been quite different. There were people with courage and high ethical standards, right there, watching and feeling paralyzed by fear.

The situation got this bad because too many people thought they were powerless to suggest a change of course or break some rules.

As members of organizations, families and communities what do we need to learn from this episode?

We can’t stop bad things from happening. We CAN remind the people in our lives how simple it is to communicate without fear.

We CAN increase the number of times we feel confident and powerful and connected to others. When we feel connected to others we have less fear.

These are three ways I know to stave off fear.

Kindness is KING

Treat people well. Smile and say hello. Thank people for a job well done from the people who pack your groceries to the lobby attendant who hands you a pass to enter a building. Your positive energy actually increases when you are kind to people. It sets the stage for you to feel good and for the people around you to feel good too. Communicate kindness and you will feel more connected to people and situations.

Listen to LEARN

I can’t say this enough. People want to be heard. In even the smallest conversations, if you practice listening to people to learn something – other than listening for your moment to speak – you will feel lighter when you communicate and you will learn something that will take you out of your head. You’ll routinely learn more about people and how much you have in common.

GET COMFORTABLE Being Uncomfortable

We are suffering from a lack of confidence in conflict because people avoid conflict at all costs. Conflict is not fun but if we are regularly kind and know how to listen to people (because we do it so often) then conflict doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

If something is wrong we need to be able to say it is so. Take time to go over what this means with the people in your life. If you’re a manager and/or a parent, talk about speaking up and ask if there was something you could have done better. Encourage feedback that may be uncomfortable. When you do this, you too get to practice getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

I tell my teenage sons before they head out to a party or a large gathering of their peers, “Right before something bad happens there is no neon sign saying, ‘SOMETHING BAD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.’”

I remind them they’ve got to rely on their ability to see right from wrong. They must be able to stand up for themselves and/or remove themselves from a situation that’s escalating. Yes, I tell them I trust them even when there is a string of terror running through my body with memories of times when they got into trouble.

Fearless communication comes from within. It’s developed over time. It needs to start somewhere and be nurtured.

We are suffering from a lack of confidence in conflict. We can turn this around.

Imagine how much better this would have turned out if one or more people at United could say what they needed to say without fear.

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