Evaluating Needs: It’s Personal


For every business, there comes a time to pause and evaluate. Success can be tricky. Once you achieve your goals, do you run by them and continue continuing? Or do you stop and celebrate, and then continue doing what you did to bring the success?

Once you achieve those goals, please celebrate! Then grab your paper, journal, favorite pen, and comfortable chair. Ask yourself “what’s next?” for you and your business? Clients tell me this is the most dangerous place to be. They fear scaling their business means they will lose their lifestyle, because all the new work requires working more hours. It does not have to be that way.

One of the scary things about becoming successful is you need to evaluate, strategize, and delegate. If you bring in more work, it does not mean you have to work more. It means you have to learn to trust, plan, build a team, and trust the team and the plan.

Easier said than done. What you need for yourself, your business, your team, and your life is not necessarily the same as the things your colleague down the hall or in your business group may need.

I coach a number of emerging and established business people in professional services and nonprofit organizations. As we work together, they learn that the habit of taking a break to reflect, consider, and examine their success leads them to the answers to “what’s next?” for them.

Some of the answers include:

  • Expanding the team to include pricing expertise, executive assistants, or social media experts. In other words, adding people. In some cases these people work with new clients, and sometimes they perform administrative tasks.
  • Purchasing items to streamline the operation. This can include software like CRM (Client Relationship Management) systems, and items particular to the business like computers, machinery, etc.
  • Finding new space in which to operate whether you need a co-working space for sometimes, new real estate to open additional locations, or new facilities.
  • Learning a new skillset. Some clients find that in order to increase business, they need to learn a new skill such as professional development to increase leadership skills or earning a certification specific to their field so they can offer more services to their clients.

The key to the solution is that it solves your particular problem. Take some time this weekend to reflect and write it down.

To learn more about this contact, reach out to MBT More Business Today at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mary@mbtmorebusinesstodayllc.com

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mary@mbtmorebusinesstodayllc.com

Building Trust: The Essential Factor in Relationships, Leadership, and Business


Now that I am an empty nester, my pets are my children. My husband and I stayed overnight away from home last week and placed our dogs with a boarder. Each day apart from them, I anxiously looked for news of my babies, Storm and Snow. The boarder sent us an email with photos, and placed pictures on their social media page, too.

The picture of my pups attached to this blog shows their happiness. They love staying over at the kennel, playing with other dogs, and having their own adventure. Venturing out this way even lessens the separation anxiety of my herding dog, Storm. As a herder, she feels responsible for the entire family (the herd) when she is at home. She needs to know what we are doing every moment. Since COVID and working at home became the thing, she leads me to the bathroom every morning and to my desk and computer. Then she can rest on the floor next to me, knowing where I am. In short, staying without us is a vacation for the dogs, too. And, it is a vacation away from us AND the dogs, for our cats.

After collecting information from us, they used the information to provide the service we needed. They kept their promises.

The Client Wisdom Blog

I was thinking about this after picking up the dogs. It made me wonder, “what would it take for employees to come home at the end of a workday excited, smiling, and happy?” How did our kennel create so much trust with our dogs and with us, that we feel happy and comfortable with them? What do leaders need to do to create that environment for their team? And, how can we create that happiness for our clients and customers?

The answer is they know how to build trust. Trust is the key component in relationships. And, as I firmly believe, relationships are the critical ingredient in good leadership and successful business.

Here is what they did:

  • First, they understand their industry and their clients’ needs. They provide a system in their business that soothes their customers’ anxiety. They post photos of the dogs who stay with them on social media every day. When a new customer visits them, they talk about the social media pages.
  • Next, they ask about the clients’ specific needs. On their web site portal, there is ample opportunity to supply information about the quirks and needs of the dogs. They also ask clients how often they want to be contacted while the dogs stay overnight and the best way to send updates.
  • The next step is essential to building trust. After collecting information from us, they used the information to provide the service we needed. They kept their promises.
  • Our experience was the same with each person we encountered in their organization. That means they hired people thoughtfully and trained them well on how to create the client experience that is the company’s brand. The staff clearly understands the expectations and delivers positive interactions.
  • They built a welcoming community. Through email notifications, social media, and good communication with their employees, they tell clients about events, discounts, specials, and changes in the hours of operation.
  • Finally, they were responsive.

We can all apply this strategy to building trust in our relationships.

For more information, contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

Acknowledge Grief in Yourself and Others


Recently, I woke up feeling depleted. I spend a good deal of time listening to clients and creating a safe space for conversation. Many expressed an array of emotions in response to the headlines all of us experience each day. Anger, sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, disbelief – all can be related to grief.

One of the greatest learning of 2021 for me, number two on the list found in the Client Wisdom Lessons in Action blog, is to acknowledge grief in yourself and others. While working with clients, I remind them to take a step back or away in order to allow themselves to heal. This advice is not an everyday occurrence, and is available when it is needed. I needed my own advice on Friday.

The question rose in my mind, what do I do now? How do I acknowledge the grief?

Conversation with myself, the mindful business coach

While working with one of my clients, we chuckled over the realization that it is often easier to help someone else than it is to apply the information to yourself. We noticed how, when good leadership exists, the top leader models the behavior to those who report to them. Those leaders model the behavior for their direct reports, and so on. It creates the ripple effect of great leadership that leads to belonging.

Here are some steps I took:

  • First, acknowledge emotions. Early in the week I acknowledged the grief my clients were experiencing. I said, “That sounds like you are describing grief. What would you call your feelings?” I acknowledged that I was grieving. I told myself, “It feels like I’m grieving. I need to work on this.”
  • Identify where the emotions show up in the body. For me, I feel tightness in my chest; then my shoulders ache with tension.
  • Find an outlet for the feelings. I used a meditation and visualization I learned recently. I also journaled about the feelings.
  • Rest. I took a nap.
  • Get in touch with nature. I sat outside with my dogs and cats and enjoyed the fragrance of my lilacs and the warmth of the sun.
  • Connect with others. I joined a grief circle. I also phoned friends and relatives to check in with them and talk about our feelings.

How do you acknowledge grief and emotions?

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mary@mbtmorebusinesstodayllc.com

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I Am the Chipped Plate


The original title for this post was Embrace Imperfection. Strive for Excellence. It was going to be about changing perspectives. The idea started with the discovery of our wedding china.

I am at the stage in my life where I realize I have too much stuff. While looking through the items stored away in the attic, basement, and every hiding place in the house; I came upon a box holding our wedding china. Years ago, when I hurriedly packed up the old set, I could only see flaws.

One of the dinner plates had a noticeable chip on the edge. We never bought a full set before the pattern was discontinued, so we never will. We have four place settings – dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate, coffee cup and saucer- and a platter. I remember feeling embarrassed by the chip in one plate and the lack of bowls.

Now, many years later, I was overcome with sentimentality for the set when I recovered it from the box in the basement. I remembered picking out the pattern with my soon to be husband. We were very daring in choosing a black, art deco pattern. Those were my thoughts nearly 25 years ago. I love the china now and would be proud to use the set when friends visit for dinner.

I was so proud of my changed perspective. I thought, “I will write a blog about embracing imperfection. We need to change our perspective and embrace our flaws. If we are not striving to be perfect, then how do we succeed? Excellence is the answer. We need to let go of perfection and embrace striving for excellence.”

I had let go of perfection years ago, or so I thought. Several very smart thought leaders tell us that once we believe we have conquered our flaws, there is inevitably more work to do.

When I am very excited or on a deadline for a project, I can become a steamroller. I get very bossy. This is a flaw I thought I had confronted and harnessed. Like the chipped plate, I had just tucked it away.

I gave into false urgency yesterday and turned into a bossy steamroller. The biggest problem with this behavior is that I flatten people without realizing it in the moment. In retrospect, I discerned I lost my self-awareness and hurt a friend’s feelings.

While I tossed and turned unable to sleep last night, I had an epiphany: I AM THE CHIPPED PLATE. Rediscovering this chip in my personality did not bring back positive memories. No warm sentimentality emerged from this chip. As a very wise friend often says, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” Now what? Wallowing in self-disgust is not productive and does not repair the hurt I caused.

In this case, what does embracing imperfection mean? I could shrug and think, “Well, that’s just me.” That is not right. Embracing imperfection does not mean I get a free pass. It does mean I have to accept my flaws (this is only one of many) and take responsibility for myself.

How do I strive for excellence while understanding that the chip will always be part of me? I came up with a few ideas.

  • Own the flaw by acknowledging it to myself. “I was wrong.”
  • Look for the triggers. I was very excited and had too much caffeine.
  • Take action to address the pain I caused. Apologize. “Friend, I know I was wrong, and I am sorry for hurting you.”
  • Try to do better.
  • Remember, it is a process. It is life.

How do you address your mistakes? I would love to hear your ideas.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mary@mbtmorebusinesstodayllc.com

Comparing Yourself to Others: Yes and No


Followers of this blog may have noticed that I skipped last week. There was no blog published during the usual every two week time slot. It was intentional. I took a few days of vacation to enjoy our local film festival last week. The time off had been planned, and became more important to me because I celebrated a success. I achieved a goal, and enjoyed a break.

“Lessons In Action”, a recent blog post, describes the lessons I learned in 2021. This lesson is number seven, “Comparing yourself to others paralyzes action.”

Many of us spend a great deal of time in action. Action is good, unless you run past something that is important to you, your goals, and your growth. Many of us also spend a great deal of time comparing our progress towards our goals to the progress of others. This can become a habit that is dangerous to your progress.

When I work with clients at MBT More Business Today, I first ask them about their aspirations. Beyond today or a few months from now, what do they aspire to achieve in work and in life? During these conversations, many clients articulate their goals in terms of the achievements of role models. This is a fun process! Clients will often combine bits and pieces of the people they admire while fleshing out the entirety of their aspiration. Focusing on the attributes and accomplishments of others in this way is a good and healthy practice.

However, things can go astray when clients feel unworthy because they compared themselves to the progress of someone who seems to be more successful. Sometimes, clients become frozen. They express the feeling of hopelessness. They start to speak in terms such as, “I will never do it”, and, “I always do something wrong.” When the always and never reveal themselves, it is time to take a break.

In the opening paragraph, I mentioned I had achieved a goal. The days before, I was in the always and never space. It caused confusion for me. I was not sure what to do except sit with the confusion. Then, in the normal course of my life, a seed I had planted and watered sprung to life. I felt overcome with emotion the next day! I paused to feel the emotion and celebrate by embracing the few days of vacation I had already planned.

It made me think more deeply about comparison. Like most things in life, it can be beneficial and destructive. It is important to intentionally look for a balance.

Here are a few tips:

  • How do you feel after you compared yourself to someone? If you are motivated, it is probably a good thing. If you feel unworthy or stuck, take a pause.
  • Write down how you feel.
  • If you feel bad, concentrate on positive things. What went well for you the past week or month?
  • Take out your plan. Do any of your accomplishments match your goals?
  • If they do, pause to celebrate.
  • If they do not, think about the next action to take.
  • Remember, each action will take you closer to your goal.

How do you celebrate your achievements? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mary@mbtmorebusinesstodayllc.com

Good or Memorable?


My husband and I ventured out for a fancy dinner on my birthday. On the drive home, ranked the meal in our Top 10 of all the meals we have enjoyed in our 25 years together. What characteristics put this one in the Top 10?

We have enjoyed many memorable experiences through the years. The price tag of the meal does not guarantee a spot in our best meals list. Some of our most loved nights out happened during a quick bite at a chain restaurant. The date itself does not have to be a celebration. The temperament and humor of any guests who join us is most certainly a factor, but not the deciding factor.

The factor that joins our Top 10 together is the way the experience made us feel. The servers do not need to go above and beyond. The food does not have to be the best we ever tasted. The ambience does not need to be the height of elegance. We need to feel valued, respected, satisfied, and comfortable. When we feel all these things, the event will surpass the category of a good night out to become a memorable experience.

The clients, customers, vendors, and employees of a business will also decide whether they enjoy working with the organization based how the experience made them feel. Maya Angelou famously said, ” ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As a business owner or leader, how do you know what impact you are making? Do your employees and team members feel like they belong? Do your clients feel valued? And, what about you? Are you happy and satisfied as a business owner or leader of a business?

Based on our recent experience, here are some tips to answer the questions above:

  • Check in with clients and staff regularly throughout a project. “Is everything to your satisfaction?” is a question our servers and hosts asked us often, but not too often.
  • Deliver on time. All our food was the right temperature and arrived right when we needed it.
  • Provide the best possible deliverable or product you can create. Each course arrived at our table delighting our senses – sight, smell, taste, and texture.
  • Watch for signs that needs are not being met and anticipate new needs. Our servers would look in on us to gauge our needs, filling our water glasses without interrupting the flow of our conversation and asking for feedback with each course. In business, stay in touch with client needs by asking questions and listening to the response. Discuss future goals with everyone who touches your business – clients, employees, vendors, etc.
  • Ask for feedback. Our servers asked, “What did you enjoy most?” and “What else can we do to make this experience the best it can be?”
  • Finally, check in with yourself once in awhile. What made you feel valued this week? What needs to happen to make you happier or more satisfied?

By creating a sense of belonging in your business, you will deliver a memorable experience.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

Reset and Re-Center


People are tired, flustered, in need of break. Clients expressed these feelings in February and March. Many judged themselves, because they took breaks from work at the end of 2021, and felt worn out again after just one month of the new year. The feelings echoed one of the lessons I learned from 2021 – Lesson 6. Take A Walk Outside.

While brainstorming around this challenge during a recent mastermind for business women, one of the participants suggested we go outside and hug a tree. She chuckled at the idea, and told a story about how the one action helped her to reset and re-center herself.

When I work with clients, we discuss a variety of ways to take a moment to stop the constant action of daily life and think. I had never actually hugged a tree. I gave it a try.

What did I feel? Silly. I was worried at first that my neighbors would see me out there. What would they think of me? It was 24 degrees outside. I shook it off, shaking my arms and my head, and tried again. After a minute or two, I laid my head against the bark. I felt lighter. Slowly my limbs relaxed and my mind emptied. Wow!

When I returned to the house, my thoughts were of Spring. I saw myself sitting outside in my garden surrounded by roses, hostas, lillies, and lilacs. I smelled the beautiful peace of existing outside and watching the birds. Ahhh.

It worked! Here are a few additional suggestions.

  • Obey your smart watch and breathe deeply for one minute.
  • Take a walk outside.
  • Download a meditation app and spend 10 minutes per week using it.
  • Journal for a half hour.
  • Write down your accomplishments for the month.
  • Go for a run or exercise.

How do you reset? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

Business, Leadership & Understanding


Our last blog focused on the need everyone has to tell their story and to be heard. This is universal. Listening to another person, whether to build a client relationship or to build a team, is a key skillset that rewards you with greater success. Listening to yourself is also key to understanding the needs of your team and your clients. Finding the hidden thought processes that keep you from realizing your potential is essential to your success.

When MBT More Business Today opened at the end of 2020, I categorized our services into three buckets: coaching, professional development training, and DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging). The lessons from 2021 revealed that DEIB is not a separate service, it is part of all the services. As a friend said to me at a recent networking event, “Inclusive leadership and business is not a separate thing. Inclusion is business!”

She was right. As I pondered the future of MBT, I decided our brand as The Mindful Business Coach is Building Belonging into Business.

Clients who seek out are services are looking for ways to succeed while staying true to their own values and needs. My clients needs to feel comfortable with how they interact with their clients, their prospects for business, and the teams they lead.

Think about this. The first step in running a business is to look inward. What do you have to offer that is of value to a customer? How do you want to conduct your business? What is important to you? What do you value?

The next step is to look outward. Who are your customers? What do your customers need to succeed? How does your offering meet their needs? Who do you need as a business owner or leader to service those needs?

When you ask yourself these questions, you create a circle of understanding. Understanding the people, including yourself, who contribute to the circle creates the arcs that connect the pieces.

There are a multitude of ways to gather the information that leads to understanding. Here are a few suggestions to try:

  1. Listen to yourself and to others.
  2. Read.
  3. Meditate.
  4. Research.
  5. Talk to people.
  6. Ask questions.

How do you learn and understand? Feel free to comment below.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

Everyone Needs To Tell Their Story and To Be Heard


Several years ago for Valentine’s Day, my husband Steve gifted us with the mugs you see pictured. Before I could become insulted, he explained that I was “weirdo” and he was “weirdest”. When we first met, we bonded over the fact that neither of us belonged. In fact, when a mutual friend introduced us, she told me, “You will really like this guy. He is weird, but really cool.”

My entire life I found myself in the interesting position of having friends from all different groups while not belonging to any of them fully. In high school, it played out with the stereotypes: brains, jocks, pot heads, theatre groupies, and the popular kids. I also had friends in a religious retreat group for the Catholic Archdiocese. I ran that group for two years, but I never felt like I belonged.

My husband has his own story, but by the time we met each other, we had both concluded we were weird. I worked in corporate America and found success, so my husband deemed me a little less weird than him.

While coaching individuals several years ago, I learned the concept of being in the wrong room. Sometimes the goals and aspirations of an individual do not match those imposed on them by their job or an organization they joined. When agreeing to serve on a board, I would advise my clients to make sure their values and mission align with those of the organization.

“Maybe I am just in the wrong room. That is why I don’t fit in here,” some of my clients remarked. Some of them even suggested that I myself was in the wrong room. They saw the efforts I made to create change, and the frustration in my reaction when I was unsuccessful.

The idea impacted me, and I shifted my thought process to look for the right room. I believe in equality for each person to live and grow freely to reach their potential. My quest for the right room included a deep immersion into learning about our country’s true history of slavery, colonialism, white supremacist structures, racial equity, gender equity, the treatment of indigenous people, and a better understanding of the inequities affecting the LGBTQ+ community. The more I met people who were focused on equality and justice, the more comfortable I became with myself.

I am in the right room now. I discovered that I am not weird. I am me. Steve has discovered the same. He is not weirdest. He is Steve.

The more I listened to people during 2021, whether we were talking about social justice or leadership or business, the more I discovered the great need of each person to tell their story. As a coach, I was prepared to ask questions and wait for a response. Sometimes the magic happens in those moments of silence during which individuals are connecting their past to their present.

How can each of us take this lesson from 2021 – each person needs to tell their story and to be heard – and turn it into action? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Before making a conclusion about someone’s comments or behavior, take a moment to be curious. Ask them, “I am curious, what is going on with you?”
  2. Spend time each week thinking about your own life. What were you taught as a child? How does your childhood impact your view of life, leadership, and business?
  3. Sit down with a friend or colleague and ask them to tell you their story using the same questions listed in action 2 above. Then listen.

Lessons in Action


Readers and subscribers may have noticed there were no new Client Wisdom blog posts since the end of 2021. These two months of 2022 bounced into action, and I deliberately carved out my writing time to think and reflect. I wanted to be mindful in my approach to the blog.

In 2021, my clients taught me and learned from me. Each lesson rippled through my mind spreading to create greater reflection and broader awareness. Learning and listening became the themes of 2021.

We all have watched the effects of a drop of water in a pool of liquid. We have heard the analogies many times. The ripple effect describes my 2021. Each new thought, idea, and lesson propelled me forward in an incredible journey of self-discovery, using my listening skills to better understand people, learning and absorbing stories of individual and cultural hurt and trauma, and clearing away the brush to create new pathways.

Reflection and action are my focus in 2022 and for the Client Wisdom blog.

Here is a partial list of the lessons I learned. Each blog post will focus on one and end with action for us all to take. If you are interested in reading more, please subscribe.

  1. Everyone needs to tell their story and be heard.
  2. Acknowledge grief in yourself and others.
  3. Optimism is transformative.
  4. Detours can be good.
  5. Bravery is all around.
  6. Take a walk outside.
  7. Comparing yourself to others paralyzes action.
  8. One baby step, one bite of the elephant at a time.
  9. Everything in moderation.
  10. Rejuvenate.

I would love to hear what all of you subscribers learned in 2021. Feel free to comment or send me an email.

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