Breaking & Making Your Rhythm


Has this ever happened to you? You eat one or two Doritos at a party, and within one week you are eating them daily? And while you are eating your bowl of Doritos waiting for your dinner to cook, you think, “I wish it was this easy to make myself exercise three times every week,” Sigh. Crunch.

I admit that Doritos are my gateway food. The fear of Doritos for me is real. Once I start eating Doritos, I fear, the door is open for Tombstone pizza and then ice cream of every kind. Many of us exhibit addictive behaviors when eating processed foods. That is actually true. So, how can I win the battle with Doritos and what does this have to do with business and leadership?

Mindset. Habits. Creating your own rhythms.

A number of my clients were at the halfway point in their sessions recently. The trend I see is how the work they do to shift their mindset after the first few sessions creates a rhythm that leads them toward developing new habits. The shift in mindset comes from reframing the way they view certain tasks. Rather than thinking about their development as something “extra” they have to do, they characterize the changes as part of their everyday life.

The key is mindset. How do you think about exercise? If you begin to see it as an everyday activity – I brush my teeth, then I lift weights, then I take a shower – the activity settles into your routine. It may create a syncopation before it incorporates itself into the orchestra that is your life. Patience. You are making new music, and it is all your own.

How does this work in the opposite direction? How do I undo the damage of daily Doritos? I reframe it in my mind. “Doritos are a sometime food,” just like the mantra the mom on Bob’s Burgers uses to break her pie habit. Not a forbidden food. Not a daily food. A sometime food. I need to repeat this mantra to myself over and over in my mind. My morning and evening routine do not include snacks, but they do include lifting weights and walking the dogs.

What habits do you need to adopt or remove from your daily rhythm? Start with mindset.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

My Clients Are Brilliant


Over the last several weeks, many of my clients made significant progress toward a goal. As a coach, I watch for signs of improvement. I help the client take notice of positive changes. My clients exhibited so much impressive change lately, I needed a new word to use in addition to kudos, congratulations, awesome, and fabulous.

The word is brilliant. My friend in Manchester, who is also a brilliant coach, uses this word frequently. I love the word every time she uses it. And now, it best describes my clients and their progress. They are brilliant!

After finding the correct word, and feeling quite brilliant for doing so, I reflected on how this great success happens. How do individuals and teams move themselves forward until they realize significant change?

There are themes that travel across all of my coaching engagements. Individuals or groups seek to improve in an area or areas. We set goals to create a path for moving forward. Then, we embark on a journey of action / reflection; action / reflection. It all looks a bit humdrum on paper. Why am I so excited?

While goals and actions may be similar from one client to the next, the difference – and the brilliance – shines through in the reflection. Clients reveal to me infinite ways to look at, digest, interpret, and define the information that comes to them and through them. My clients are brilliant! And that is the magic of coaching.

As a coach, I ask the questions that resonate with clients so that they recover their own wisdom. Some questions are the same from coaching session to coaching session. Some manifest through the individual circumstance. I use a number of clichés from person to person as we look for a way to frame things that speaks to the individual.

Coaching is a quest and a journey. It takes hard work, resilience, focus, and motivation to realize results.

In the meantime, here are a few of the clichés you will hear when working with a coach that are absolutely true:

  • Baby steps.
  • Eat the elephant one bite at a time.
  • Eat the frog first thing every morning.
  • You hold all of the answers in your own mind (just like Dorothy and the ruby, red slippers).
  • If you focus on a particular outcome, you will start seeing ways to obtain the goal.
  • Persistence is key.

My brilliant clients benefitted from all of the clichés above and a number of other analogies. Which ones work for you? How have you made improvements that helped you achieve your goals?

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Perception & Self Image


Have you ever participated in a 360 assessment? This is an assessment where you assess yourself and those who work with you – in 360 degrees around you – also give you feedback. That means your boss, your direct reports, your peers, your clients, and your colleagues have an opportunity to participate. It is an incredible process. Exciting and scary! There is tremendous value in learning how others perceive you.

I went through – it is definitely something you go through – one of these 360 feedback assessments several years ago. The primary positive feedback drew a picture of me as a rock. Yes, a rock! Sturdy, dependable, reliable, strong Mary – that’s me. I was so disappointed. To me it evoked the highest level of boring. I didn’t want to be a rock. I wanted to be a shooting star. I want to be seen as creative, engaging, etc.

The feedback suggesting areas needing improvement was brutal. Apparently, I made up my mind regarding how to solve a problem before asking my team for their input. This is defeating for the team. I cried, and I knew it was true. Even though the feedback came to me many years ago, I continue to work on this aspect of my personality now. I have improved, and I am constantly evaluating my behavior. How did I do today? Did I listen to the suggestions of others with an open mind?

As a leader, that piece of feedback was absolute gold for me. I now see it as an invaluable gift that helps me concentrate on my biggest passion – helping other people achieve their goals.

I have guided many of my clients through this kind of feedback process. In the end, they are grateful for the feedback they received, even if it was hard to take. Sometimes though, learning about areas for improvement can push you off your path. It can negatively impact self image and confidence.

Keep this in mind: Hold onto the positives of your self image and realize feedback will help you become even better.

Keep this in mind: Most of the feedback will be positive. Embrace it! It is very human to focus on the constructive feedback more than the positive feedback. It is a good thing that my team, boss, and clients perceived me as dependable. It means they felt they could depend on me.

If you are planning to gather feedback, here are some tips to help you keep things in perspective. Grab your journal or your favorite notepad for this. Settle down into a comfortable and comforting space. Supply yourself with your favorite drink or music.:

  • Before taking a self-assessment or diving into a 360 assessment, make a list of the traits in your personality that you view as positive. Make a list of one or two traits that you believe you need to change or be managed more closely.
  • Now write down your goal for participating in the assessment. What do you want to achieve? Why is it important to you now?
  • Decide. It is very important to decide that this assessment is what you want right now.
  • Commit. Commit to keeping an open mind and to taking action based on the results of the assessment. Commit to yourself.
  • Make sure you have someone – a coach or someone who is certified to administer the assessment – on board to walk you through the results and interpretation of the results.
  • When looking at the results, have that list of positive traits and areas for improvement that you wrote down with you. Remember who you are. Think about who you want to be.
  • When the perception of who you are is not in line with who you believe you are, it is clear you need to make some changes. Plan. Pick just one area for improvement and take action.
  • After three months, look at your progress.

Feedback is a gift. When you receive it, be sure to thank those who gave it to you. Be you, and improve.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

How Your Gifts Come Back


I recently worked with family members to clean out two households. One last year was for my mother who has dementia and is in assisted living. The other was for my sister who passed away in February. It started me thinking about the weirdness of getting gifts back when I had loving chosen them for the people I love.

The gifts I am receiving now – from myself through a circuitous route – are little things like holiday-themed pins and earrings, artwork I had commissioned for my sisters (I had one made for each of us, now I have two), and pieces of clothing. What an uncomfortable feeling! And yet, what a glorious gift. These re-gifts offer new opportunities for me to carry these people with me. I am learning to shake off the strange feeling and embrace the joy this brings.

In the midst of this curious situation, my clients are experiencing a return of gifts they have given. Gifts of mentoring, kindnesses they have shown, and sometimes advice they have given. In all of these cases, they expected nothing in return. Yet, in a few years, sharing time and experiences led to gaining a new client – an unintended result. They feel a bit uncomfortable about reaping these rewards, because their intention was purely to help and support someone.

Likewise, as a coach, one of the greatest gifts I receive is when I hear a client incorporate my words into their thought process and behavior. Things like, “I realized that my negative thoughts were draining my energy,” or , “After I reconnected with more of the people in my network, I found that they were excited to hear from me.” My words often come back to me.

I am not offering action items with today’s post beyond this – think about and notice all of the gifts you give. Here is a list of a few:

  • Your time
  • Listening
  • Advice
  • Mentoring
  • Strategies
  • Ideas

What kinds of gifts have you given? How do you feel when they come back to you?

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

One Thing At A Time


It seems that nearly everyone I speak with expresses feeling overwhelmed and anxious. My clients work in professions that demand the highest levels of accountability and responsibility. On top of that, they do the work of self improvement. And, they are dedicated to their families, communities, and social circles. It is difficult to show up for everything and everyone 100% of the time.

My clients master the ability to turn an idea or concept into a solid, actionable item to move themselves toward continual self-improvement. Stars currently, they strive for superstardom. The weight of constant expectations puts many of them into overload.

During our coaching sessions, we work together to develop habits that lessen the overwhelm and the fatigue. Like most things, the first step is to be self-aware. Where does stress come from and how can it be managed?

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • First, set your mindset. When you think of the items on your todo list, what image comes up? How do you feel? Make a note of it.
  • Many clients see their task list as never-ending with pages and pages of items or a big cloud of “stuff” to do. Let go of infinity and close in on one item at a time. For example, when you wake up on Monday morning, redirect your thinking to the few most important items to accomplish.
  • Talk to yourself. Remind yourself, “I do not to finish this entire list today.”
  • Each day, prioritize your bigger list by making a list of the few items that you want to complete that day. Some people like to write the physical list, while others keep the list in their heads. Either style works. If you are the kind of person who loves to check things off, make sure you give yourself that satisfaction at the end of the day. If you prefer to keep track in your head, make sure you erase the items you finished to clear them from your brain.
  • Take breaks. Your watch probably tells you to stand up every hour. If you do not follow those instructions, set a timer and walk away from your desk every two hours.
  • Take a lunch break. Walk outside. Eat lunch somewhere other than your desk.
  • At the end of the week congratulate yourself. Focus on what you accomplished rather than what you did not get to.

As time goes by, the habits you create to insulate you from fatigue and anxiety will pay off in big ways. Ultimately, you will find your are more productive when you do your best job of managing your task list.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Stuck in the Middle

From The Client Wisdom Blog by Mary Balistreri

When talking with my business development coaching clients, I find some people excel in making connections through networking and some people excel at hauling in a piece of business that is known and ready to close. The challenge for many comes from the middle portion. The struggle is how to keep a relationship moving forward to its conclusion and turning the talk into clients.

The marathon nature of developing business relies on the ability to keep moving despite the exhaustion and, sometimes, boredom of slogging toward the finish. Where is the finish line? It seems to stealthily creep away when you are in the middle of the run. The sooner you build business development stamina, the more resilient you will be when you feel stuck in the middle.

Keep moving! The most important thing to do is to keep moving. Remember, it takes 8-10 meaningful touches and 8 months to three years to bring in a new client. Check out the tips below for ways to maintain your momentum and finish strong.


  • Adjust your mindset every morning with positive statements. What you think creates your world each day. Every morning, be intentional about what you will accomplish that day. Choose your message. “I will reach out to a potential client today.” “During the meeting with my current client, I will ask them about their newest challenges.” “I will follow up with on the challenges I discussed with my prospect at yesterday’s meeting.”
  • Make a list of the bus dev actions you will take. At the start or end of the week, make a list of actions you will take to move a relationship forward. Hang the list next to your computer so that when the time comes to act on the list, it is nearby and you can jump right in.
  • Talk about business. Clients get frustrated about the lack of business from relationships they are developing. We often discover together that when they are meeting for coffee, lunch, or a zoom call, the discussion is about personal things and not about business. Each time you connect with a prospective client, be sure you talk about business. This is how you discover their needs. Open-ended questions like, “What is challenging you now,” and “What are the goals for your business unit this year,” open the door to understanding how your business can help their business.
  • Remember to talk about your business, too. People love to talk about themselves, and after you listen to them, make sure to take some time for your business. Tell them what kind of trends you see in work you do which might apply to their business.
  • Act on opportunities immediately. A prospect mentions at the end of a coffee meeting that they would love to work with you. Act immediately to continue the conversation. Even if the cadence of your meetings is quarterly, this is a sign the prospect is ready to move forward. A possible response is, “I am happy to hear that. I would love to work with you, too. Let’s talk about what we need to do to make it happen.”
  • Adjust your goals. When your goal is focused only on bringing in a new piece of work, you may disappoint yourself and lose your momentum. Adjust your goals to smaller landmarks. I suggest clients create reasonable goals for each meeting with a prospect. For example, after meeting someone at at networking event, the first goal is to schedule a meeting to get to know each other. After achieving that goal, the goal for the meeting may be to discover whether there is an opportunity with this prospect. And so on.
  • Reward yourself. Create a reward system for yourself to match the size of the goals achieved. What is the right reward for you? Maybe you eat a piece of quality chocolate when you finish your follow up; you take a Friday afternoon off after you have submitted a proposal to a prospect; and you treat yourself to new shoes or a fancy dinner once a contract for work is signed. Acknowledging your progress in bits adds to the resiliency you are developing.

Start now and build your resiliency to increase your business development stamina. Get unstuck from the middle.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Lessons from My Sister

My sister, Ann, passed away on February 18. In reflecting on her life, I realized she was true to herself. She lived authentically; something we are all trying to do and talking about doing these days.

Her death reflected her life. All of the elements of her personality shone through during those last few days.

She was dramatic. As the photo captures so well, Ann loved drama. It could be argued she also created drama or that drama found its way to her. She had an abundance of stories to tell about adventures including wild places, exotic characters, and strange happenings. Her last few days on earth, in keeping with who she was to her core, were very dramatic. The hospital stay had many ups and downs entwining hopes for a recovery with uncertainty until revealing her stay on earth was ending.

She got to yell at someone. Ann was a yeller, declaring this tendency to be very Sicilian and taking pride in it. She had big opinions and told people what to do; often speaking very abruptly and loudly. It made her happy. At her deathbed, she grabbed the opportunity to yell at a few family members to learn to get along with each other. “You love each other! It’s not worth it (to fight). Get along!” she cried. Forming the words was difficult in her condition, and she found a way.

She defined many moments of her life with music. Music filled the background of Ann’s days and nights. She listened continually and I believe it numbed her pain by offering a safe place for her mind to seek relief for her body. On her deathbed, she chose songs to play at the funeral. “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles occupies space at the top of the list. We played it for her several times while she drifted in and out of consciousness.

She was creative. Ann was gifted with great creativity combined with a process-oriented mind. I was in awe of her ability to take a few pieces of broken artificial Christmas tree limbs and magically turn them into wreaths that could have come from a high-end catalog. Her description to Harry & David in a complaint letter about the less-than-perfect peaches she purchased made your mouth water craving the perfection she knew from the fruit. In death, she vividly described everything and everyone she saw in the in-between world she was experiencing. ” I see pink, and blue swirls. I see sparkles,” she described. She told us she saw a loved one who passed a few years ago and she was cooking.

She spoke her mind. If you regularly flamed visibly when embarrassed, you did not go out in public with my sister. She said what came to mind in every situation. The upside was you always knew what she thought. In death, she told us several times, after waking from a turn surfing in the in-between world, “I’m not dead yet! I’m not dead!” All of us reassured her that we knew she was alive.

She was spooky. My sister saw ghosts, encountered the mischievous doings of poltergeists, and was very interested in the mystical magic elements of our Sicilian heritage. My husband, Steve, is also a bit spooky. Her only words to him were, “I’ll talk to you later” meaning after her death. I have no doubt she will keep her word.

She loved enormously. Love was a four-letter word to Ann both positive and negative, filled with enormous happiness, great sadness, betrayal, disappointment, soaring bliss. Love was the most important part of life. Upon seeing one of our nieces at her deathbed, pure bliss spread across her face. “Is it my Aimee? My little Aimee?,” she said over and over again. Her primary message for everyone was a simple, “I love you.” She shouted it into the phone for friends who called. She spoke it loudly at times and softly at times to those who gathered in her hospital room. And, finally, she spoke it with her eyes as she looked up at us with recognition at the very end.

Often during my life, I would get caught up in the woulds and shoulds. Should I do this or what would happen if I did that. Ann’s advice to me remained consistent. “Do what you want,” she said, “And don’t worry about it.”

She was right. I am the happiest when I am being myself. I also worry less when I direct my own destiny rather than worrying about what other people will think of me. That was the key to her longevity.

She was completely, authentically, gloriously Ann to the end.

Pick Me! Pick Me!


Do you tend to raise your hand whether you are called on or not? Do you love jumping up to take on a new challenge? Does your enthusiasm seep into conversations, because you have so much to say?

In our last blog, we talked about those who tend not to raise their hands: the people who need to be called on to share their thoughts. Some of you responded that the blog spoke to you. Some of you at the opposite end of the spectrum raised your hands to say you were hand raisers. Today, let’s talk about you.

First, congratulations to all of you hand raisers. The world needs you to keep things moving. Your voice, like all voices, is important. However, just as in the case of the non-hand raisers, you may be missing out and creating situations where others are missing out on the value you can bring.

What do I mean by that? You may be thinking, “If I tend to tell people what I think, share my ideas, and volunteer for positions, how can others miss hearing my voice?” Here’s how:

  • Burnout. Often volunteering for too many things leads to not having enough time to accomplish things well. People who are over extended may peter out and stop showing up. Or it becomes hard to be present, because there are so many more things to accomplish. Others miss out on the value you can really bring because you are only half committed.
  • People stop listening. If one person is constantly speaking and giving their opinion, others stop listening. When people stop listening, they make assumptions about the messages. They may miss the substance of what is being said.
  • Others stifle their own ideas. The non-hand raisers in particular hold their ideas closer and often refrain from speaking up. There may be no space for them to insert an idea. The hand raisers miss the benefits of other points of view. Ultimately, it is counter to innovation, because an echo chamber is created. Only one source of opinion is heard.
  • You may not be saying what you think you are saying. Many people think out loud. This is a trait of extroverts. Extroverts problem solve while they are talking. As a result, those listening may check out and not stick with the thought process through to the end. So, the final resolution is lost.

What is the solution for hand raiser to make a bigger, better impact on the world? Here are some thoughts:

  • Continue to volunteer. Whether you raise your hand for a position or to add to a discussion, keep doing that and be more mindful of how you do it and when.
  • Pause. Take a step back to consider the situation before you jump up and raise your hand. If you are considering taking on a new project or new job, sit down with a notebook and write down the pros and cons. Why are you volunteering? How does it impact your goals for the year? How much time will it take, and do you have empty spaces in your calendar that you can give up?
  • Pause 2.0. If you are in a conversation and want to share your thoughts on a subject, pause before speaking. Write down your thoughts if you are in a meeting. This pause gives you time to think the subject through and finesse your idea. The end result will be a more succinct idea and a higher likelihood that others will listen.
  • Listen more than you talk. I know this can be difficult when you have so many ideas and so much to say. The more you listen the more you will realize the value of the amazing thoughts of other people – especially those non-hand raisers. Often, this group of people think deeply before they speak. They bring new life to problem-solving and share imaginative resolutions.

Remember, every voice is important. Use your voice. It’s your power. And, make space to hear the voices of others, too. There is greater power in diversity.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Use Your Voice. It’s Your Power.

When you were a child in school, did you raise your hand when you knew the answer to the teacher’s question? Did you volunteer to erase the chalkboard or to be the hall monitor? Or, were you the kind of kid who only talked in class if you were called on? Did you like the attention or dread it?

All of those reactions during childhood can carry over to adulthood. My clients seem to be at the extremes. Either they always raise their hands or they will not raise them without someone – a leader or peer – calling them to do so. Today’s blog is about the reluctant ones. When they hesitate to enter the ring, they miss out on opportunities to better their lives. They also deprive others from the opportunity to hear their unspoken ideas and experience their leadership styles.

It seems every week I have a client who is “thinking about throwing my hat in the ring” for a promotion, leadership position, or piece of new work. What is holding them back?

Here are a few of the obstacles this group encounters.

  • Often, these individuals are uncertain about their own skillset. They want to be 98% sure they have the experience and qualifications for the job. What if they make a mistake?
  • Some of my clients expect to be asked to take on a new role or manage a new client. They believe that if those in power believed they were the right choice, someone would offer them the opportunity.
  • And, some are resistant to change or risk adverse. Keeping things the same is the safest route.

Why is this important? Because every voice matters. Behind each voice and thought lives the power of that person.

A few thoughts:

  • It’s ok to make mistakes. Everyone does it. Mistakes create opportunities to learn, and offer chances for your humanity to shine through. It can be reassuring to those around you when you admit you are not a superhero.
  • If you do not advocate for your own abilities, who will? It is a nice thought to believe others will see something in you and offer you opportunities. The truth is, people are busy. You need to tell them what you can do and tell them what you want.
  • Silence is agreement. If you do not speak up, the assumption is that you are not interested or you agree with a decision. The only way for people to know what you think is to tell them.
  • Yes, there is comfort in things remaining the same. It is predictable. And while the sameness may not bring you joy, you know what to expect. Move yourself forward by stepping a toe into the water of change.
  • Stretch yourself. Growth comes from learning new things, ideas, and activities. When you try, you find out more about yourself: what you are really good at doing, and, sometimes, what is harder for you.
  • Finally, give the people around you the gift of yourself, your thoughts, your skills.

Did this article resonate with you? Are you someone who more easily raises your hand? We will talk about the group who volunteers next time on The Client Wisdom Blog.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Embracing Your Type at Work

My husband gifted me this mug for Christmas which brazenly states People Person. The cup made me think about my joy in seeing this phrase nowadays. I am a people person. I am proud to see it, and I embrace that part of me now, but this is a new thing for me.

When I entered the corporate world more than 25 years ago, I learned being a people person was not viewed well. I hated the words other professionals used to describe me, like:

  • “She’s so bubbly, a real people person!”
  • “What a social butterfly.”
  • ” Mary is always jovial.”
  • “She’s so nice. Always smiling.”

I did not want those words attached to me. To me, the connotation was a people person was friendly, but of little substance. It drew a picture in my mind of someone who is fun but not competent with business issues. Someone who is not a good candidate for leadership.

So, I tried to change myself and others’ perception of me as much as possible by being very serious and using phrases like “I think” rather than “I feel.” During conversations, I would steer the subject toward factual information rather than listening to what my gut had to say. I even came very close to showing up as a Thinker in the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator for a nanosecond. People would say to me, “you must be a Feeler in Meyers Briggs,” and I would respond, “Yes, but my Thinker/Feeler score is actually very close.”

What changed? Why do I embrace my Feeler/People Person label now?

When I work with clients, I see many of them dealing with similar struggles. In a recent training, a participant indicated they came up as a certain “type”, but they did not believe it fit their true personality. Some clients tell me directly they do not want to be a certain type. I noticed that each type of person, from thinker to doer to ideator to feeler, wants to be seen differently.

I decided to follow my own advice; the advice I give to clients.

Steps to Embracing Who You Are:

  • First, realize that no matter how you show up on an assessment, you decide who you are and who you want to be.
  • Next, think about how you act and react in a variety of situations. Each person is a little bit of every type. There are times when the label is spot on and times when you behave differently. Make note of those times. Write it in your journal if you have one.
  • Now, recognize that each type of person brings value to the table. Spend some time thinking about what you bring. Write it down.
  • Then, beyond assessments and type, there is the unique value that each individual brings to a situation. Consider yours.
  • Finally, embrace who you are. What are some ways you can incorporate your unique value into your work and your life?

For me, the change came through all of these steps, paying attention to the behaviors of other leaders, and listening to my clients resolve their struggles. I changed my own thinking about my type. Being a people person is a critical leadership skill. Empathy, openness to new ideas, and understanding cultural differences are all strengths of good leaders. The result? I am proud to be a people person.

What about you? How do you use your strengths and talents at work?

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

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