“Living like A Refugee?” Not this Survivor

I’m one of millions, millions, who look for stars to arise, hit it big like a rock star,
oohhh millions, millions who play this game called life  – D-Vvine, “Hit it Big”

You’d have to have your head in the sand not to have heard about the Syrian refugee crisis. My good friend, who performs under the name D-VVINE (pronounced “Dee-vine” – and trust me, she is divine) knows a thing or two about living in crisis, having survived a civil war, leaving behind her whole family and coming to New York City all on her own, with no support.  A talented and very successful musician today, D-VVINE recently wrote a song about hitting it big that reflects the challenges she survived, a darkly humorous song that only a true survivor could sing.  Another line:

And I’m gonna win it, yeah yeah, a-ha, from a world of madness to something so divine.

Here’s D-VVINE’s video: D-VVINE – Hit it Big


Website:  www.dvvine.com

Toots Thielemans retires at age 91

In the late 80’s. Toots played at Fat Tuesday’s in New York. I went to see him with several friends. He had a trio. After the set was over, as I walked to the men’s room Toots was walking in my direction. As he was about to pass I said, “Oh Toots, I wish you would have played the theme to ‘Jean de Florette’!”, a beautiful theme he had recorded for both this movie and its sequel, “Manon of the Spring.” Toots stopped and said, “Are you staying for another set?” I told him I hadn’t planned to, and he responded, “If you stay another set, I will play it for you. But if I forget, please remind me.” My friends left, and I stayed, and sat directly in front of the stage, several feet to the left of Toots. As the set was winding down, I called out, “Jean de Florette!” He said, “Oh yes,” and told the audience, “I sometimes record movie themes, and I recorded this theme for a movie a few years ago.” Turning to his musicians, he said, “I didn’t bring charts for this, so you guys just hang out.” He then turned his chair to face me, and locked eyes with me, and then played this beautiful theme, never once looking away. I was in tears by the end of it. Even typing this, I get choked up by it. What an extraordinary gift from a most generous and talented man.


Next time, I’ll let the chips fall – a lesson about obsession

Sometimes, I get obsessive about things.  I admit it.  Some idea gets in my head, and I can’t just let it go.  This kind of thing can both serve me and disserve me.  After all, my ability to play guitar today is the resuot of my obsession with teaching myself to play the guitar when I was 13.  In this particular case, I’m not sure what to make of it.  

Last year I discovered Beanitos.  These are a snack chip made entirely from rice and beans, no corn at all, and which have a mouth feel and taste that gives me the same level of satisfaction as a good potato chip.  Unlike other snack chips, these are high in protein and, if not as healthy a choice as an actual dish of rice and beans, they at least have gotten me, to a great extent, away from my potato chip addiction.  They are also pointedly free of GMO products, which is a big thing with me.

My favorite variety has been pinto beans with flax seed, which have a great texture with the added attraction of all the great benefits flax seeds are known for.  Recently, I discovered that I could no longer find this variety, but could only find “Simply Pinto Bean.”  Great, but just not quite as amazing as the ones with flax.  (Or as Brad Pitt might confide after a few beers, “Jennifer was awesome, but Angelina is amazing.”)  
I learned from Beanitos’ Facebook page that they reluctantly had to discontinue the product because the process of crushing the flax seeds sometimes caused problems with the product, to the extent that some of it smelled rancid, and their customers “overwhelmingly” did not care for this.  I had never encountered this issue, and the thought occurred to me that they could not have possibly sold out of every bag.  There must be some unsold product somewhere.  I turned, of course, to Google, and searched for my chips.  One after another, I found the chips seemingly for sale, but accompanied by the words “currently unavailable.”  Then I searched for companies that sold things like unsold stock.  Ultimately, I found one company that sold mainly wholesale, and apparently had the chips in stock, either single bags or boxes of nine bags.  I called them to make sure, and learned they had exactly ten bags left.  I ordered all ten for $37.19, including shipping..  

They arrived within a few days.  Usually, when I get something delivered that I bought online, I hear in my head the “Wells Fargo Wagon” song from “The Music Man.”  When the box came today, I did not hear this song in my head. Instead, all I could hear was my dad’s voice, saying, “What are you, meshugenah?  Are you out of your mind?”  Maybe, since I just opened a bag, and… feh.  They smelled stale, and were inedible.

I called the distributor, and they’re sending Fed Ex to pick up the rest of them next week. So I’ll just be out the $3.75 for the bag I opened. 

Next time I get my mind wrapped around something and I can’t let go, I will say to myself, Beanitos! 

My 75,000th listen contest is now live!

On April 24th, my Blogtalkradio show, Coaches’ Corner (www.blogtalkradio.com/coachandrew) surpassed 75,000 total listens!  That means the contest I announced on April 10th is LIVE!  I’ll reiterate the salient points here:

Qualified entries only!  To win, follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/coachandrew), then send an email (coach @ andrewporetz .com) with the subject line “Put me in, Coach!” In the body, tell me that you believe you’re the 75,000th listener, your Twitter name, and tell me the name of the guest and something you learned from any show of mine that you listened to. 

The second and third persons to write in will each win a one-month coaching package.  But wait, there’s more!  I will also choose the person who writes the most insightful response to what they learned from the show for a one-month coaching package!

All others will receive an initial assessment and free one-hour coaching session and a 10% discount on all coaching services just for participating! The three winners also qualify for a 20% discount on all future coaching services.

Coaches’ Corner about to hit 75,000 total downloads!

ImageBack in 2010, I had a contest for my online radio show, Coaches’ Corner on BlogTalkRadio, when I was about to reach 10,000 downloads and nearly 50 shows.  At the time, my average listenership was 213, and my biggest show (with the late Naava Piatka) was just over 700, which number was a seemingly impossible number to break.  I took a hiatus for nearly a year while enrolled in classes, then came back better than ever.  Now, approaching 100 shows, I’m about to have my 75,000th download, with half of those coming in the past six months!  (Prior to the night of Hurricane Sandy, I had just hit 40,000.  My show with Peter Shankman of HARO garnered over 800 live listeners and over 10,000 downloads.)  Now, it’s rare for my show not to break 1,000 downloads, and my top ten shows all exceed 2,000!  I’ve opened up the show to many people who touch, move and inspire people to action in their lives, and have had several terrific singer-songwriter musicians.  (And the leadership coach David Brownstein, who bridged both worlds by sharing his original music with my audience.) 

To find my show on iTunes, you might use this handy short URL: www.bit.ly/coachescorner, and you’ll be taken right to the page.

To celebrate my imminent 75,000th download, I also have a contest going. The first person to write to me (at coach @ andrewporetz.com) and say “I’m your 75,000th listener” (along with the guidelines below) will win a full three-month telephone coaching package and assessment valued at up to $1,497!

Qualified entries only!  To win, follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/coachandrew) and check for my announcement that I’ve surpassed 75,000 listeners, then send an e-mail with the subject line “Put me in, Coach!” In the body, tell me that you believe you’re the 75,000th listener, and tell me the name of my guest and a short description of the show you listened to.  Most importantly, tell me something you learned from listening to the show. 

The second and third persons to write in will each win a one-month coaching package.  But wait, there’s more!  I will also choose a random person who wrote the most insightful response to what they learned from the show for a one-month coaching package!

All others will receive an initial assessment and free one-hour coaching session and a 10% discount on all coaching services just for participating! The three winners also qualify for a 20% discount on all future coaching services.

The clock starts the moment my show reaches 75,000 listens (as of April 10th I’m at 73,653, so it can happen in the next day or so) and ends when I have my first three winners, though any qualified entry before Memorial Day will qualify for the free coaching session and discount.  Good luck!

Naked Mind kickstarter: Special Edition of Coaches’ Corner

I love kickstarter.com — it’s an amazing resource that has helped many people fund projects through crowdsourcing in a way that was impossible just a few years ago.  I’ve happily contributed to and helped promote several that have caught my eye.  Last week I met a fascinating, engaging and highly spiritual young woman named Sarah Barab. Image

She told me about her six-year journey to create a movie about the power of meditation, good chunks of footage for which have already been shot, and she told me about her kickstarter campaign for this movie, called Naked Mind.  When I read the website and saw the trailer, I felt compelled to help.  With only little more than a week to go, I wanted to do more than give a small donation.  Of course, I invited her onto my Coaches’ Corner radio show on BlogTalkRadio.  I also offered some of my services to be given away as kickstarter perks.

Tune in now to Coaches’ Corner with guest Sarah Barab and check out her Kickstarter campaign at Naked Mind.

Groundhog Day, redux

I’ve written before about Groundhog Day, but this is a different story.

The truth is, the movie “Groundhog Day” is my muse.   Recently my friend Charlotte exclaimed on Facebook, “You must live 720 days a year!”  This was after I had spent the early afternoon sledding in Central Park with one group of friends, met Charlotte for an exhibit in Tribeca about the late Andy Kaufman, and had taken the train back uptown with her.  A mere hour after she got off the train for her stop, she saw my post:  “On my way to a jam session in Times Square!”  Charlotte commented, “But you JUST GOT HOME!!!”  I hadn’t planned to go to a jam session until a “last minute” invitation from singer-songwriter Emily Forst came my way.   My intinct told me to say “yes,” and then figure out the “how” later.

It all comes from “Groundhog Day.”  If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Bill Murray’s character’s breakthrough begins when Andie Macdowell suggests he uses his time to improve himself, and he takes this on with gusto, using what had been a terrible curse,  but now the incredible gift (with a new perspective) of unlimited time, and learns so many things that would have otherwise taken literally lifetimes to learn.  He has the time, and takes the time, to learn about everyone he meets, no matter how seemingly insignificant they might have seemed before.  He becomes an expert pianist, ballroom dancer, ice sculptor, linguist, even a doctor. 

Of course, this is just a movie, and even if it weren’t, I’m not the one trapped in a time vortex.  But it does make me realize how short life is, and how much it is incumbent upon all of us to live life fully expressed, as much as is possible. 

So I’ll continue saying YES! to things that either advance my purpose or continue my journey of self expression, especially if it’s something that can positively impact other people.  I’ll do this even if it means I get less sleep than I should.  Because the truth is, all the great things that have come my way and the amazing people who’ve entered my world have happened because I was willing to say yes (or yes/and, as they say in improv), and then do it, and just let life surprise me with wonderful results, which, like “luck,” are simply the residue of what happens when opportunity meets preparation combined with intent and action. 

Stay tuned for my article about the power of Yes!

Thank you, Zig Ziglar

The great Zig Ziglar passed away the other week. I realized at the moment I heard of his passing that I had never sent him the letter I had written earlier this year acknowledging him for his contribution to my life. I’m mailing it to his company today, and posting it here for posterity.

Andrew S. Poretz CPC
Certified Professional Coach
New York, New York

August 6, 2012

Personal and confidential

Ziglar, Inc.
5055 W. Park Boulevard, Suite 700
Plano, TX 75093
Attention: Zig Ziglar

Dear Zig,

I’m reflecting on my life as I’m writing a book in the personal development arena that will be part-memoir, and I’m thinking of my personal journey that brought me to coaching and professional development. When I think of the initial match that started the fire, so to speak, I’m brought back to June of 1979. I was a failed college student of 21, and in an act of desperation, I had taken a summer job selling books door to door for the Southwestern Book Sales Company of Nashville, Tennessee. When I arrived in Nashville for a week of sales training, we were handed kits that contained, in addition to training and business materials, several books we were required to read, including “The Richest Man in Babylon,” “The Greatest Salesman In The World,” and “Think and Grow Rich.” At our kick-off event, you were our keynote speaker. By the time of that keynote, my brain was probably exploding from the very new and different information from the books and the training. I remember being mesmerized by you. “I’ll see you not just at the top, but over the top!” Your voice rang in my ears and my mind for months to come. Although the job turned out to be a bust for me, it was also the great beginning. This opening to the Law of Attraction, to the rules of success, to having an attitude of gratitude, eventually allowed my increasingly open mind to explore strange new worlds, as Captain Kirk would say. It eventually propelled me to a long and continuing journey into personal and professional development. I often listen to you on my Audible account. Today, people pay me to coach them. I have an online radio show that has been downloaded many thousands of times. I’m writing a book. While the journey has taken longer than I would have liked and I’m still far from “there” (wherever “there” might be), I’m also still standing, still doing, still striving, and still excited about the possibilities that life has to offer! It occurred to me today that I’d better make sure I personally thanked you while I still have the opportunity.

So, Zig Ziglar, I thank you for all you do, for the great legacy of your many years of service to the world, and personally for the profound change you helped inspire in me. You have my everlasting gratitude.

With best personal regards,

Andrew S. Poretz

New Park Volunteer Opportunities post-Sandy

This just in from the NYC Department of Parks:

Many of New York City’s parks, playgrounds and beaches were severely
impacted by Hurricane Sandy. If you would like to volunteer with NYC
Parks to aid in clean-up and recovery, please review the list of
parks, playgrounds and beaches below that are in need of assistance
this Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. Click the links below to sign up
in your borough and be sure to check back for updates on other parks
in need of volunteers!


Crotona Park (Wednesday)
Orchard Beach (Saturday only)

Click here

to volunteer in the Bronx

Brooklyn (Saturday only)

Coney Island

Click here
to volunteer in Brooklyn


Fort Tryon Park (Saturday only)
Harlem River Park (Saturday only)
Inwood Hill Park (Sunday only)

Click here
to volunteer in Manhattan

Queens (Saturday only)

Joe Michael’s Mile
Crocheron Park
Queensbridge Park
Astoria Park

Click here

to volunteer in Queens

Staten Island (Sunday only)

Kaltenmeier Playground

Click here
to volunteer in Staten Island

Peter Shankman, The Bold Request and Quantum Growth

Quantum Growth. It’s that thing that happens when something really takes off. When your trickle of book sale cash becomes “hand over fist.” When your following goes from hundreds to millions. I got my first taste of Quantum Growth last night, after my interview with Peter Shankman (@petershankman) of HARO fame on my Coaches’ Corner show on BlogTalkRadio (www.blogtalkradio.com/coachandrew), which was also a featured show on BlogTalkRadio. Peter, who is quite a successful guy, is a person of major influence in the world of social media and public relations. He’s also about as nice a fellow as you could ever hope to meet.

Peter Shankman

This show happened by way of a great bit of timing, some major generosity on the part of Peter Shankman, and my willingness to make a bold request. On the morning of September 27th, I saw a tweet from Peter, saying, “OK, guys… How can I help you today? Whatcha working on? Whatcha need?” The mere fact of this tweet blew me away. Peter has always been an incredibly generous man, and he does not reserve his generosity for only his closest friends. I immediately tweeted back, “I need people for my radio show who ‘touch, move and inspire.’ And yes, you’re in that category!” While I was hoping he’d jump on it himself, I’d have been thrilled to even get hooked up with one of his influential friends to interview. Instead, Peter responded, “@coachandrew I’ll do that for you. Contact Meagan, my assistant…” along with an email address. THUD! And just like that, it was on. I set up the show with Meagan for October 29th.

A little history. I’ve been doing the show for several years, and have done about 85 shows, interviewing people who “touch, move and inspire.” The shows have run the gamut from your basic life coach, to spiritual coaches, to childhood idols, and even my own dad. I closely follow the stats provided by BlogTalkRadio for my show. For the first couple of years, a good result would be 300 archived “listens” (downloads or streaming plays from the site or from iTunes), with most shows only having a handful of live listeners, with 28 being my highest number. With the exception of one show, with Karen Monteverdi of GreenMountain Enrichment and Empowerment Center (who is now my own coach), which had over 2,800 listens, an exceptional result was anything over 500. In recent months, things have changed. Nine of my top 10 shows have at least 1,000 listens, with the 10th at 951. Going into last night’s show with Peter Shankman, I had one show over 3,000, and two over 2,000. I submitted the show to be a featured show, which I’d never done before. This was bold request number two. When I received a note of congratulations from BlogTalkRadio telling me my show had been selected as a feature show, I got goosebumps from head to toe. I felt like a minor league pitcher who just got called to go to “The Show,” the major leagues. I started promoting the show in the week before.

It’s showtime! Monday, the 29th, was no ordinary day. As it turned out, Hurricane Sandy, a/k/a Frankenstorm, had arrived. New York City was on lockdown, and by 8 p.m., there were millions of people without power. I hadn’t heard back from my last note to Meagan, nor had Peter responded to my tweets about looking forward to our show. I was getting nervous. I opened the chatroom 8:40, and launched the live pre-show feed at 8:45. Normally my guests call in about five minutes before showtime. At 8:55, I sent a text to the last cell phone number I had for Peter. No response — probably not his current number. At 8:58, I tweeted at him to please call in. At 9 p.m., the show started. I announced my name and the show, and that we were in a major hurricane, and we are waiting for our guest to arrive. I killed a minute or two talking about the challenges of the storm, and invited people to call and chat about the storm. I then decided to play a song, and I began to play a cut by Drew Gasparini, my guest of the previous Monday. A minute or so into the song, I saw my virtual switchboard light up with a phone call. The buttons to pick up the call hadn’t properly rendered, which I made mention of, and refreshed my screen. Thankfully, the buttons appeared, and I was able to bring the call on the line. It was Peter! I skipped my own introduction, since I can always edit this in, introduced Peter, and away we went for the next 55 minutes, during which time we were both jarred by blasts of wind from Sandy, explosions, and the word that he might imminently lose his power.

It felt like a really good show, and my post-show feedback from my coach and from others was quite good. Then I went to look at the early numbers, which would include only the live listens at that time. What I saw made me literally rub my eyes. I even logged off and logged back in, to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I had a total of 810 live listeners! This by itself made this a top 20 show. As the night went on, I’d check back to see how the archive shows were going. It was like watching an odometer on fast forward, with something like 150 every four or five minutes. By the time I’d gone to bed, it was nearly 4,000. A mere 25 hours after the show, my tally is 7,889 — and this is over 400 more than it was when I started the article 20 minutes ago!

There are lessons here. First, be bold! As William Hutchinson Murray famously said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Second, think big! We all have to start with the first steps. Eventually, we can take bigger and bigger steps. My dream guests include Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Jack Canfield and Sir Richard Branson. It may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. The third? Have an attitude of gratitude! One of the things I’ve learned from following Peter Shankman over the years is to do nice things for people, and to be grateful and humble. And to wear a Scottevest. I will never forget this wonderful gesture, and I know I will pay it forward. Thanks, Peter!

Listen to the show here: Coaches’ Corner with Coach Andrew Poretz and guest Peter Shankman

My One Singularly Sensational Moment with Marvin Hamlisch

Back in 1982, working for Showtime in their public relations department, I got a call from a guy named Ed Yost, who was some sort of manager and producer for various artists.  I’d helped in in the past with some odd requests. “Marvin Hamlisch is pissed,” Ed said.  “Nobody called to congratulate him on the ACE Award he won for Showtime!”  The ACE Award was the cable television version of the Emmy Awards, at a time when cable wasn’t quite taken seriously, before the Emmy people included the likes of Showtime and HBO shows for anyone’s consideration.  Marvin won for “Marvin Hamlisch: They’re Playing My Song.”

It was one of those days when everyone was either away or busy or indifferent, and no one seemed interested in handling the situation.  So I stepped up.  “I’ll call him, Ed.  What do you want me to say?”  Ed asked me to call Marvin at home, tell him I was from Showtime, and congratulate and thank him for his fine work.  He gave me Marvin Hamlisch’s personal home phone number, and I did just that, in my most professional pseudo announcer voice.  “Mr. Hamlisch, This is Andy Poretz calling from SHOWTIME!  We want to congratulate you on the ACE Award and thank you for your amazing work!”  “Um, okay.  Thanks, I guess.  Who are you again?”  Marvin was probably not thrilled that an underling like me called him.  I wasn’t the head of the company, the director of programming, nor even held an important position in the public relations department, after all.  But we chatted for a couple of minutes, and Marvin groused a little bit about the whole situation.  I had to lie and say “I loved the show!” when he asked what I thought about it – but at that time, my family did not yet have cable, and so we had no Showtime. 

It’s no lie now though to say Marvin, I loved your work.  You’ll be missed.

He was like a brother to me

While driving in my rented Nissan Sentra in San Anselmo, California on June 27, the theme to “My Three Sons” came on the news. At first I was delighted to hear it, until the announcer shared the reason for it: Don Grady, the actor who played “Robbie Douglas” on “My Three Sons,” was dead from cancer. To my surprise, I started crying, and had to pull the car over and compose myself.

If you don’t know the name, you’re probably not someone who grew up in the 60’s. Don Grady was an actor and musician who was best known for “My Three Sons.” Robbie Douglas had two brothers, Mike and Chip, and when Mike was written out when the actor Tim Considine left the show, Robbie became the older brother, and neighbor Ernie was adopted by Steve Douglas, the widowed father of the boys.

This death hit me hard, for this reason: Don has been my friend on Facebook for the past year. Don’s TV brothers, Stanley and Barry Livingston (Chip and Ernie, respectively) are also my Facebook friends. Unlike Don, I had actually met the Livingston brothers some years ago when a mutual friend brought me to a house party at Barry’s home in Hollywood. Oddly, being able to say I had all three My Three Sons as Facebook friends was even more thrilling than being able to say that I had met two of them.

Don was a Facebook friend in the best possible way. He completely engaged with people, whether they were his personal friends or fans, even if those fans had no conception of him outside of “Robbie Douglas.” He made personal comments, answered mail, and was thankful for all the love that came his way. When he talked about missing his father, I asked him what lessons his father taught him. “Great question, Andrew!” He went on to talk about those lessons, and it was clear he relished his family. Don was a musician, and was happy to talk about his music, and generously offered free downloads of several of his songs. He was a very good musician, in fact, and I let him know it. He was self-deprecating about his music, and I reassured him that as a fellow musician, I know what I’m talking about when I hear talent. He was thankful for my comments. This engaging, combined with the fact that I grew up watching the three TV brothers (and for years in reruns), I felt like I had lost a brother.

As it turns out, most of the world had no idea Don was even sick. He never talked about his illness. When people would congratulate him on his youthful good looks in his most recent pictures from 2009, he would be thankful and credit clean living and a good family life. I knew for some time that in fact, he was quite ill, through my friend who was close to Stanley Livingston. It says a lot about his grace and strength that he never turned his illness into a pity pot, and as long as he could, maintained his connection to the many people who didn’t know him, but felt he was like a brother.

My Groundhog Day

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray finds himself locked in time, repeating the same day over and over again, thousands of times, until he’s finally learned his lessons and has opened his heart to love. He sees the same people and encounters the same circumstances, gradually learning that he cannot change them; he can only change his actions, his reactions, and the choices he makes in dealing with what comes his way. He recalls every repeat of the day, while the people he encounters are only experiencing this day for the very first time.

Every day I bike to my day job on 34th Street and Ninth Avenue, starting from my apartment on West 168th Street. I leave the house at approximately the same time each day, biking along Broadway, then turning right onto 158th Street, and biking down a significantly steep hill, past the two Riverside Drives (an anomaly of city planning), then to the ramp that takes me to the entrance to the Greenway, a highway of sorts for cyclists. skaters, walkers and runners. Wending my way past the open fields near the Hudson River Sewage Treatment Plan, then the Harlem Fairway, I enter the Cherry Walk. The Cherry Walk is unlike any other part of the Greenway. This section has no lighting at night, is lined with various trees, including cherry trees, and winds a curvy path along the Hudson River, only a few feet from the water to the west, and only a few feet from the West Side Highway to the east. There are geese that make their habitat along various parts of this section, and on turbulent days, the river water will splash hard against the rocks, more like an ocean. There are, throughout this section, secret sculptures made of driftwood. The sculptures are often just pieces of driftwood fastened or arranged together. I’ve seen the artist, a fellow who bikes around his driftwood and goes to work. I once even helped him right his cargo wagon that was attached to his bike, after a wheel broke and the entire thing tumbled over.

It’s usually in the first quarter mile of this ride that the first of my “regulars” appears. An attractive woman, thin, with a face that reminds me a bit of Meryl Streep, with straw-colored hair and no helmet, rides her bike just about every single day in the opposite direction of mine. The first thing I ever noticed about her was the blue basket attached to the front of her bike. I’d always smile at her, and she would either ignore me or give me what seemed like a dirty look. She wasn’t there to connect with anyone. She would always ride slowly but with purpose. I’d usually see her again, hours later, on the way home. We’ve never once traveled in the same direction.

I usually, but not always, see my next “regular” within a half-mile of the blue basket lady. A gray-bearded, big bear of a man, with a black Brompton. I have the habit of always “dinging” a passing Brompton with a single ding of the little bell on the handlebars. I feel it should be like a special salute to other members of our exclusive club, kind of like “the nod” that young black men like to give each other, the nod that says, “Hey brother, I recognize you because you look like me, and I’ve got your back.” Sometimes Brompton owners “get it” and ding me back. For the longest time, Bearded Brompton did not get it. He’d usually not look at me, or wonder why I was dinging him. After many consecutive days, however, he realized that hey, we’re both Brompton owners, and we should salute each other. Again, this “regular” is always going in the opposite direction from me. I’ve run into him all over the Greenway, at various times, and almost always see each other in both the morning and the night. We’ve never shared a word, but only the occasional smile. For about a week, he rode without a helmet, revealing a surprising full head of thick hair, a dashing figure under that helmet, though I’d never have guessed it.

Finally, there’s Fast-Walking Older Lady, a woman I’d estimate to be in her mid-to-late 60’s. She’s petite, with a cute figure and silver/blonde hair. She’s not unattractive, though she’s seen better days. For quite some time, she always wore a ghee, a karate outfit, and would always walk in a determined manner, never allowing her eyes to connect with anyone. Unlike my first two regulars, this one sometimes walks in the same direction that I am going, though more often than not, she’s walking towards me. Also unlike the other two, I generally see her only once a day, in the morning.

I sometimes would see my “regulars” all in a row, within minutes. Sometimes I’d just think, “Where’s Bearded Brompton Guy today?”

There was also a fourth, Red Kerchief Lady. I usually would see her going southbound on the Greenway after work as I rode north. She never wears a helmet, but always wears a red kerchief, red lipstick, and a scowl. My smile has never been returned with anything but an angry scowl. Still, I had made up a song in my mind for a while, “The Lady With The Red Kerchief,” but I never finished it. She now rarely appears in my Groundhog Day.

For a period of nearly a year, Fast-Walking Older Lady disappeared. I stopped seeing her on my trip. The funny thing is, I missed her. Worse, I was worried about her. I made up stories about her in my head – she walked every day because she was recovering from a stroke or a heart attack, and she’s not longer here because it happened again. She’s dead, Jim. Or maybe she got tired of the cold and moved to Florida.

Last month, she reappeared. I was oddly elated and relieved. Finally, one morning as I was passing her, I slowed down, and said to her, “You know, I don’t know you, but I was very worried about you, because I saw you every day, and when I didn’t see you, I was quite concerned.” She responded, “That’s so nice to hear, thank you so much. I was away for awhile, but I’m back now.” I still didn’t get her name. But the next day, I said hello to Blue Basket. She said hello back. We now wave or say hi to each other. My little community of nameless people in my Groundhog Day.

So what’s the lesson here? How many of us go through our lives, seeing the same people every day, yet never acknowledge their existence? Do you notice these people who ride the bus with you, shop at the same supermarket, or simply walk past you on a daily basis? These people are part of your Groundhog Day. They’re like some odd extras from Central Casting. So here’s my challenge. Start to notice the people who are around you on a daily basis, but with whom you have never had any contact. Smile, wave, or say hello to them. An even bigger challenge? Introduce yourself. “Hi, I see you every day, and I have no idea who you are, so I thought I should finally introduce myself.” Let me know what kind of response you get!

I’m thinking I should invite my regulars to lunch.

Customer service and the power of Twitter

I’ve learned from the great Peter Shankman the power of getting fast customer support by mobilizing Twitter to get the attention of the right people at a company that’s done the wrong thing.

A perfect example of the power of Twitter in the world of customer service is the recent debacle of daily deal site kgbdeals.com‘s (formerly The Dealist) unfortunate partnership with the now-defunct Digital Doorstep to distribute Fandango Bucks. The daily deals site offered a compelling offer back in October 2011 to purchase vouchers for Fandango Bucks for two tickets worth up to $24 for only $12 (which is now less than the cost of a first-run movie in Manhattan, where I live). I bought four, giving me eight tickets, but I had to use them before January 31, 2012.

The vouchers had to be redeemed through Digital Doorstep, a digital fulfillment company. Pasting the codes would then reveal the Fandango codes needed to apply when purchasing the movie tickets. I used two of vouchers without incident, and preemptively redeemed the other two so that I would have the Fandango codes ready to use. Now, with just days before their expiration, I decided to use them. When on the Fandango site and in the process of purchasing tickets, I discovered that my codes were “cancelled.” Perplexed, I went back to the Digital Doorstep site, where I was informed that the company was no longer redeeming coupons and that I should go back to the deal site in question to obtain a refund.

The kgbdeals.com site was of little help. There was nothing on the site referring to this issue. The “Contact Us” section had only an online form, and no phone number. Googling for a phone number was unsuccessful. The top deal sites Groupon and Living Social both offer toll-free support lines, so this did not bode well. I submitted a report, but got no response or even an acknowledgement in email. I then decided to see if the company had a presence on Twitter. They did. I immediately tweeted them about my problem. When I looked at their Twitter page, I noticed a number of similar tweets, and their responses, which gave a special email address for each person to use to send them particulars of their transaction. Apparently kgbdeals had set up a “Digital Doorstep Response Team,” with a corresponding email address.

I sent to this address the same content of my earlier form submission. Now, within minutes, I had a reply — automated, but a reply — and not longer after, I had a personal reply. It took a number of back and forth emails to get things straightened out, but eventually I was rewarded with a notice that my canceled codes would be refunded $24 within five days. (Notably, there was another email from another person on their team, calling me “Alexander,” saying I’d be getting $48. I let them know, and then they sent the correct one.)

So, thanks to Twitter, problem solved. I’m disappointed, however, that the company still has not bothered to put up any sort of notice on their website pointing people to the solution I found on my own. I’ve discovered that this is often the case: a company does a decent job handling disasters via Twitter, but still allows its old-school customer service people to do a lousy job. (I find it nearly amusing, since I cannot help but think of the Russian KGB when I see the name kgbdeals, and their handling of this mess reminded me of how the old Russian bureaucracy might have handled it.) For that reason, I unsubscribed from kgbdeals.com today.

Barney Fife, Postal Inspector

I live in a building in Washington Heights near the top of Manhattan that is over 100 years old. I personally have lived in this building at the corner of 168th Street and Broadway, which contains a mix of residential and commercial tenants, mainly offices of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, since 1985. My next-door neighbors have lived in the building since World War II. The building number is 601, and has been 601 since the time the New York Highlanders baseball team played their games across the street before moving across the river and changing its name to the New York Yankees. This address is reflected on the façade of the building, but more importantly, on the mailing label of many thousands of pieces of mail and packages that come to the building, as well as appearing on official documents like my driver’s license and passport.

Despite all of this clear and convincing body of evidence, a recent visit by a postal inspector determined that the address is “actually” 603. Somehow, this has escaped the attention of the USPS and the entire Western world since 1908. It has not ever been a problem for anyone, but now that the postal “service” has become aware of it, it is a huge problem. The postal service announced via a flyer in our mailboxes that the address is incorrect and that all mail must now be addressed as 603 West 168th Street, failing which, all mail sent to 601 will be returned to the sender after a two-week “courtesy” period.

There apparently is no 601. It’s not as if said mail could possibly go anywhere else by mistake. There are only two possibilities: Barney Fife (a/k/a Don Knotts on “The Andy Griffith Show”) is the postal inspector, or the United States Postal Service itself has “gone postal.”

So let’s see if I have this straight. Thanks to Mr. Fife, literally tons of mail that will come to this building in the next six to twelve months will be returned by the Post Office to their respective senders. The cumulative cost of postal service man hours, driving of postal vehicles, delivery by air, gasoline to fuel the trucks and planes, not to mention the thousands of hours of people needlessly sending forms to vendors, service providers, friends and family, etc. and ad nauseum to have them “correct” the building address, is astounding. Since the USPS is effectively absorbing the cost of all such returned mail, this also means many thousands of dollars in lost postal revenue to a service that is so broke that it has threatened it could go out of business, and has asked Congress to let them off the hook for the deals it made with the postal union. With such a broken bureaucracy, it’s not surprising why.

Of course, the sensible solution to this non-problem is to fix the entry in whatever book or database or other official document has gotten our Barney Fife’s feathers so ruffled. After 101 years, Mr. Fife, my coaching to you: you might consider another line of work.

The coaching lesson here? The address change might even be technically correct, but always look at the cost of “being right” versus doing “what works.”

Fixing your vanishing Facebook feed

I’m re-posting this (not written by me) from one of my Facebook friends because a lot of people don’t know this:

Have you noticed that you are only seeing updates in your newsfeed from the same people lately? Have you also noticed that when you post things like status messages, photos and links, the same circle of people are commenting and everyone else seems to be ignoring you?

Don’t worry, everyone still loves you and nobody has intentionally blocked you. The problem is that a large chunk of your friend/fan list can’t see anything you post and here’s why:

The “New Facebook” has a newsfeed setting that by default is automatically set to show ONLY posts from people who you’ve recently interacted with or interacted the most with (which would be limited to the couple of weeks just before people started switching to the new profile). So in other words, for both business and personal pages, unless your friends/fans commented on one of your posts within those few weeks or vice versa – you are now invisible to them and they are invisible to you!!

HERE’S THE FIX: On the homepage click the “Most Recent” title on the right of the Newsfeed, then click on the drop down arrow beside it and select “Edit Options”, click on “Show Posts From” and change the setting to “All Of Your Friends and Pages” (you can also access the “Edit Options” link at the very bottom of the facebook homepage on the right)

Note: Business pages do not have a newsfeed; however, page owners should adjust the settings on their personal accounts.

The good news is: now you can now view all of your friends and fans again. Great!! But you aren’t finished yet! Here is the bad news: YOU ARE STILL INVISIBLE to a large portion of your list. You must get the word out to ALL of your friends and fans by inviting them to this event or creating one of your own so they can read the post and adjust their settings. To invite your friends: Click on “Attending” at the top and then you will see an option to invite your friends under the smiley face. It’s public so everyone who logs onto facebook can view it and even the friends who can’t see your posts WILL see the event invitation. You can also tweet about it, create a blog post or send out an email to your subscribers in hopes of reaching them all.

Coaches’ Corner 10,000 listeners later, and a contest!

After over a year of doing my online radio show, Coaches’ Corner on BlogTalkRadio, I’m excited by the results I’ve had. I’ve done a total of 46 Coaches’ Corner shows, with an average listenership of 213 and a total of nearly 10,000 downloads. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with some amazing coaches, authors, social media mavens and other experts who touch, move and inspire people to action in their lives. I’ve received a dozen books and have learned a tremendous amount from my guests. I even got a share of ad venues (a whopping $28.45, but that would buy a few Whoppers!).

I’m also on iTunes. My entire directory of shows are there for the taking. I’ve learned that it’s not easy or intuitive to find my page there. For some reason, searching for them gives a “no results found” while at the same time displaying the show with my picture on the right side of the page. So I’ve made it easy for my listeners who prefer to use my iTunes feed. Just use this handy short URL: www.bit.ly/coachescorner and you’ll be taken right to the page.

I also have a contest going. The first person to write to me (at coach @ andrewporetz.com) and say “I’m your 10,000th listener” (along with the guidelines below) will win a full three-month coaching package and assessment valued at up to $1,297!

To win, check back here or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/coachandrew) for my announcement that I’ve passed 10,000 listeners, then send an e-mail with the subject line “Put me in, Coach!” In the body, tell me that you believe you’re the 10,000th listener, and tell me the name of my guest and a short description of the show. Tell me something you learned from listening to the show.

The second and third persons to write in will each win a one-month coaching package.

All others will receive an initial assessment and free one-hour coaching session. All winners will also get a 20% discount on all future coaching services.

The contest begins as soon as my show reaches 10,000 listens (as of June 3rd I’m at 9,832, so it can happen in the next day or so) and ends on June 30th. Good luck!

Call in your relationship questions to the “Love Wranglers” on tonight’s Coaches’ Corner @9:30pm EDT, 646-929-2893. bit.ly/lovewranglers

Tonight on Coaches’ Corner join me and my guest, “Business Life” coach Peter Marcus, calling in from beautiful Monterey, California. Call in on 646-929-2893 to ask Peter a question.


I nominate @critiques4geeks for a Shorty Award in #curator because she’s funny and gives good tweet!

Just saw that @Amex advertises a new “high yield” savings account… at 1.50%! That’s high yield? No, that’s “better than no yield.”

Join me tomorrow on BlogTalkRadio with guest Dinah Day

My guest on Coaches’ Corner for December 9th is Dinah Day, a noted Executive Image and Career Transition Coach, is the CEO of The Image Circle, Inc. With more than 25 years experience in television, film, theater, network sportscasting and career counseling, Dinah takes an acutely personal approach with her clients in applying her on-camera techniques for the purpose of clarifying the many ways we come across to others. We determine what course of action to take in making improvements and adjustments in appearance, presentation skills, self-confidence and business leadership development. You can learn more about her at http://www.dinahdayimagecoach.com.

My show starts at 9:30 p.m. EST. You can listen in at www.blogtalkradio.com/coachandrew. If you’re listening live, I’d love some call-ins! Call us at 646-929-2893. You can listen to the replay at any time.

Learn to croon….

Those of you over the age of about 45 or so may remember “The Little Rascals,” and in particular, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer. Alfalfa was a freckle-faced, tall, skinny boy with black hair parted in the center, and an impossible cowlick on his crown that always stood up straight. When he wasn’t pursuing Darla, Alfalfa was singing, if you could call it that. Alfalfa’s singing voice was always on the verge of puberty – he rarely came close to hitting the note, and his voice would crack and squeak. The joke was that everyone thought Alfalfa was the next Bing Crosby, and he even once beat out his frenemy Butch, despite Butch’s virtuoso violin playing. My favorite Alfalfa songs were “Learn to Croon,” “There’s an echo (yoohoo!)” and “I’m in the Mood for Love.”

One month after my thyroidectomy, I’m back to all normal activities, including biking. I’m feeling good, and am getting used to Armour Thyroid (which we’ll talk about separately). The only thing not to come back, so far, is my voice; my surgeon informed me last week that my right vocal cord is weak, and may take months to recover. I can speak, but if I go above a certain area of my voice, I crack and squeak. My once-excellent singing voice (he said, modestly) sounds suspiciously like Alfalfa’s. I can now sing just like the old boy without bothering to do an impression. I thought I’d post a before and after video comparison:



I licked the “Little C”

I love to talk about perspective and context. It’s easy to whine about my situation.  By seeing everything in context and perspective, I can see how small it is, especially compared to far more challenging situations that other people face.

I remember distinctly John Wayne’s bravura when discussing publicly his battle with lung cancer.  “I licked the Big C,” he declared, regarding his lung cancer surgery in 1964.  This Hollywood tough guy wouldn’t bow down to this invisible enemy.  Although he beat the “Big C” in battle, eventually he lost the war.

Today I learned definitively that my “highly suspicious” nodule was, indeed, cancerous.  I wasn’t really surprised, though I was hoping to have this suspicious nodule cleared of all charges, so to speak.   The good news is that this was also contained to the nodule.  There was no other involvement, and the area was so small that the surgeon said it’s questionable that I would even need the next step of radioactive iodine treatment.

So, I licked the “Little C” — a mere bagatelle (or “bag of shells,” as Ralph Kramden would say) in the scheme of things.  I’m feeling pretty lucky today!   I should stand in front of a microphone at Yankee Stadium and do my Lou Gehrig impression.  Actually, now seems like a good as time as ever to give an instant replay of that most famous, humbling and inspiring speech, which took place 70 years ago this month:

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.

— Lou Gehrig
July 4, 1939

Winning life’s battles one day at a time

In the past few months, I’ve been in a battle of sorts; a battle for my life, though it’s not quite as dramatic as that sounds.  I was diagnosed with Graves disease (hyperthyroidism) a dozen years ago, and last year it came back after a 10-year remission.  Earlier this year, my doctor felt a nodule in my thyroid.  She sent me for an ultrasound, and then a biopsy.  At the end of May, I learned that the nodule was “highly suspicious” for thyroid carcinoma, and that I would need to have my thyroid removed.  There were really no alternatives, but fortunately, this is one of the most curable forms of cancer, and very slow-growing, so I had sufficient time to investigate different surgeons. My biggest concern has been my voice.  After all, I coach on the phone, I host a show on Blogtalkradio, and I’m a singer.  The thyroid is right next to the vocal chords, and it is possible to have significant vocal damage during thyroid removal.  I finally selected Dr. Komisar at Lenox Hill Hospital.  Dr. Komisar is experienced with dealing with people like me who use my voice professionally.

On Monday, I had a total thyroidectomy.  I learned that I have unusual vocal chords, and it was a big challenge to deal with them.  My voice is weak, but seems to be intact.  I’m told it will regain strength.  If it doesn’t, I would be unable to coach effectively over the phone, my Internet radio show would have to cease, and I’d never get to sing again.  I’ll find out soon enough.

What would I coach myself to do if this were to prove true?  Well, of course, I would look to my strengths.  My voice has always been one of them.  Writing is another (you could call it “my other voice”); thus, I would suggest to myself that I start writing a lot more.   I am going to take my suggestion.  Great coaching, me!

I’m thinking of creating an entirely new blog, and using the more robust hosted version of WordPress, which allows for more customization and the potential for creating partnerships.  I’m not clear if I can port this blog over, though I would like to be able to keep it as an archive.  I started this one back when I was in coaching school.  At the time, blogging was just starting to become hot, and the good people at ICA decided that it should be required of students that they start a blog.  The blog has evolved over the past few years, though I have not written here nearly enough.

This week’s guest: Marc Jones

I met Marc Jones while coaching in Self Expression and Leadership at Landmark Education. Marc is a really cool guy, and is an acting coach in NYC. He teaches actors and business professionals the art of acting. He also is the co founder of two companies, Connecting is an art and Philanthropic Events. Connecting Is An Art provides acting training to business professionals and to educational institutions. CIAA has been asked to create acting programs for several private high schools through out the tri-state area. Philanthropic Events creates branding and events for charities and non-profit organizations. Some of the charities Philanthropic Events have worked with include the Food Bank For New York City, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Marc has received an award from the Borrow Group for all his artistic support. For more information, visit http://www.PhilanthrophicEvents.com.

Tune in at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/coachandrew on Sunday night — if you’re listening live, call in with your questions to 646-929-2893.

Testing this widget from Networked Blog

I found this on Facebook after Jack Canfield sent it to me. What’s good for Jack is good for me!

Back to the future… my landline phone is back!

I’ve been using BlogTalkRadio to do podcasts for the last five weeks.  I tried my cell phone and then Skype to call into my switchboard, with results that ranged from poor to dreadful.  The last Skype show I conducted, with Jonathan Hefter, sounded like an episode of the old Diver Dan show — we might as well have been in a studio in the Coney Island Aquarium for all the bubbling sounds and skips.

Blogtalkradio recommends using Skype, and in fact I bought a high-end USB headset and a monthly plan to use Skype to call regular phone lines just so I could use Skype for my show.  Considering that I want many people to download my show, and that it’s also great content for my guests to use, I became quickly disenchanted with using Skype.  I’ve looked into some means of improving the connection, and tried a few tweaks, to no avail.  I also own a Packet 8 videophone, which has somewhat better sound quality than Skype, but it does not have a headset jack, making it impractical to use.

Last year I had my landline phone restored to use for coaching clients, but after a few months decided to shut it off again.  Actually, I put it on suspension, and paid a monthly fee to NOT have a phone!  I was pretty determined to have a great sounding show, so last week I called Verizon to reinstate the phone yet again.  Now I’m paying for a landline, a Packet 8 VoIP line, Skype, and my cell phone.  Something has to give, so I’m considering having my Packet 8 phone turned off and having my phone number (which I’ve had for the 25 years I’ve lived in Manhattan) re-ported to the landline.

Almost immediately after plugging the phone back into the jack, it rang, to my surprise – and of course, it was a telemarketer!  I’m listed as Andrew, Coach in the phone book (a method of being unlisted without paying for it), so it was a little jarring to have someone say, “Coach Andrew?  I’d like to tell you how to save money on your car insurance….”

I realized, when preparing to do my Sunday night show, that I had only a low-end Trimline phone for the landline, and it had no headphone jack.  Off to Staples I went.  I bought the most basic phone I could find that would accept a headset, a Verizon cordless model with few special features – all I really needed.  I didn’t realize until shortly before the show started that the headset jack was for a 2.5 mm plug, and my headset was 3.5 mm.  Back to the Trimline for my first show with the landline, but with the phone handset in one hand and my hand on the keyboard and mouse to control the switchboard and to toggle between the switchboard and my show prep document.  All I needed was a foot pedal and I could do my Rosemary Woods impression.  [A Nixon tape reference, for those of you too young to remember this.]

Next BlogTalkRadio Coaches’ Corner with guest Tracey Steinberg, Esq.

I had my first show last Sunday night  I’m continuing this weekend with my second Coaches’ Corner with my special guest, “Life Coach Tracey.” Tune in live at 11 p.m. at www.blogtalkradio.com/coachandrew, or play it back at your convenience.  I welcome calls live on the show, or come to the chat room during the show and post your questions for my guest or me.

Tracey Steinberg, Esq., a New York City attorney and dating coach/career coach/motivational speaker who helps young women excel professionally and marry “Mr. Right.”  After completing her coaching program, Tracey went on to complete advanced programs for both career coaching and coaching singles.  Tracey has had her own television show, radio show and advice column and her expertise on dating and career topics have been featured on Fox News, MNN, Tribeca Radio, and The Daily News.  You can learn more about Tracey on her site, www.LifeCoachTracey.com.

Blog Talk Radio

We all know about podcasting.  BlogTalkRadio (www.blogtalkradio.com) takes podcasting a step further by creating a virtual radio station for all to use.  On April 12th, my first show, “Coaches’ Corner,” will be live, at 11 p.m. EST.  Callers are welcome. [Call in number: (646) 929-2893]

Coach's Corner with Coach Andrew

Coach's Corner with Coach Andrew

There’s some history here, and I thought I’d share my story.

In 1992, I was exploring my life’s purpose.  I’d dabbled in writing, comedy and music.  I’d just taken a “men’s weekend,” and was looking at what might be next.  One night, I had an epiphany:  I should be on the radio!  All of a sudden I had my life’s purpose.  I’d be the next Howard Stern.  I
felt the most powerful surge through my entire body with this epiphany. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? Of course! It was so obvious! I was delirious with joy at this newfound understanding of my life’s purpose. The next day I called the Columbia School of Broadcasting and set up an audition and interview. I journeyed deep into Bergen County, New Jersey to the school. I was soon sitting behind the kind of radio console you would see in a full-fledged studio, following a script to read a commercial and a news flash, and then dashed back to Manhattan to go to work. The admissions director called me later that day to tell me the good news. I was accepted, and had a partial scholarship. My future was here!

That evening, I excitedly sent an e-mail to a friend of mine, Tracy Carman, who was a “radio buff” who was involved to a great extent with radio archiving. Tracy told me I needed to talk to a professional in the business, and gave me the name and number of a former on-air talent who was now a professor, but whose name is long gone to my memory. I called the fellow the next day and told him my big dream. He asked, “How old are you?” “Thirty-five,” I replied. “Thirty-five? You’re too old! You should have thought of this years ago. You don’t have a chance! I mean, sure, if your dream in life is to make $15-20,000 a year working for some 5-watt station in the middle of nowhere, then by all means, go for it. I’d just stick with whatever I was doing if I were you.”

I felt like a giant prick had just deflated my balloon. I totally bought into this “dream stealer’s” advice, and in an instant, my dream was over. That was it. Finito. Of course, I know now that this was a test, and I had not passed it. I quit at the very first bump in the road.

Seventeen years later, a fellow coach, Crystal Williamson, e-mailed me asking if I’d like to be a guest on her BlogTalkRadio show. I responded, “Your what?” Crystal then explained to me that BlogTalkRadio is a website where anyone could create their own virtual radio show. You needed no experience or very much in the way of technical skills. They provide a virtual switchboard, and if you have a computer and a phone, you’re in. I quickly accepted her offer, and the next week called into the show as her special guest.

It was a great experience, and I was reminded of my old dream. I realized that an opportunity was here – perhaps a small version of the original dream, yet an opportunity to realize it. I signed up for an account. Last week, I did a test show, just to get a feel for what it would be like. I did this on the spur of the moment, signing up for the next available slot, at 11 p.m. I took a 15-minute segment, and went on Facebook to let my world know what I was up to, inviting people to call in. One friend, Debbie, posted, “I’m staying up late for this!”

The show was strictly a test. I had no guest, and I had trouble finding the switchboard at first. I fumbled around, struggling to find something to talk about. The feeling was like being on the phone and leaving a message on an answering machine – there was nobody there to respond. Eventually, a topic came into my mind, and I just went with it.

I ended the test two minutes early. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was Debbie. “I listened! You were good.” I thought she was joking, and asked her to tell me what I was talking about on the air. She gave me a pretty good recap. My first listener!

will learn to dance in 2009 if it’s the last thing he does! (Because he’s “so money and doesn’t even know it” – apologies to Jon Favreau)

Happy Valentine’s Day — may Cupid’s arrows be on target this year. And now… it’s time to go dancing!

Tweet! Tweet! Fun with Twitter

I signed up for Twitter last year.  For the most part, I’ve found it a bit perplexing.  I’ve mostly followed a handful of people, and a handful of people have signed up to follow me.  Not all of these are the same people, and I learned just this week that if you are following someone but they are not following you, you cannot directly “tweet” them, which also means you cannot respond to one of their tweets other than by e-mail.  I read a couple of good posts, such as this one on Julia Stewart’s blog:  How to Get People to Follow you on Twitter (Julia is a fellow coach:  follow her at http://twitter.com/masterycoach).

I invite you to follow me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/coachandrew — once you do I’ll follow you as well.  If you have great Twitter content and are compelling, I might even follow you via SMS text messaging.  At the moment, I follow via SMS only the chatty, but compelling, entrepreneur Peter Shankman of www.HelpAReporterOut.com (better known as “HARO”), and my friend Stephanie Grayson-Zane, the terrific corporate speech trainer of www.corporatespeechtrainer.com (follow her @ http://twitter.com/stephanieupdate — if she lets you!).

“25 Random Things About Me” — for all you Facebook fans

I’ve been enjoying tremendously connecting to people on Facebook.  In the past month or so, I’ve reconnected to dozens of people from high school I haven’t seen since 1974, and even to my childhood best friend from the age of 3 to 5, and who I last saw around the age of 13 or so.

There’s been a fascinating exercise of sorts floating around Facebook recently, whereby someone writes up a list of things about themselves that may or may not be of interest to anybody, then “tags” 25 of their Facebook friends (both literaly, using the “tag” feature, and as in “tag, you’re it”).   Initially, when my friend Leora from Iowa tagged me, I resisted doing this.  After all, I’m a proud “contrarian,” and don’t like doing things just because “everybody is doing it.”   After awhile, as more people tagged me, I started to look at their lists.  I decided to try writing mine, with the intention of keeping it to myself.  The more I wrote, the more things I wanted to write.  Ultimately, I found this exercise to be quite a lot of fun, and I wound up “tagging” over 25 friends.  Now, dear reader, I share my list with you.  And by the way… tag, you’re it!

25 Random Things About Me

1. I was terrified to sing in front of people for the first 20 years of my life.

2. I wouldn’t sing in front of my grandparents (at age 5) unless they covered their eyes.

3. The first time I sang in public was when I sang “Popeye The Sailor Man” in the kindergarten show at P.S. 205 in Bayside. (How I finagled this gig, in the middle of a “circus” show, is another story.) The next time was maybe 10 or 11 years later, in my brother Jonathan’s party band, for a Sweet 16 at Sammy Kaye’s Roumanian Deli on Queens Boulevard. I had sung around the house, and my brother had encouraged me for months to try singing in public. I finally relented and agreed to do a duet with him on “The One After 909,” but a massive migraine-like headache came on while I was singing, growing in intensity as the song reached the end. I had to quit performing immediately thereafter and sit in the corner, holding my head and covering my eyes, until we went home.

4. I didn’t try singing again until one of my Phi Sigma Delta fraternity brothers, Barry Dickstein, commented effusively on my singing after a bong game in college. I signed up for University Sing, did a duet with a guy whose name I can’t remember (but whose mother was a MILF!) on “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” I didn’t die, and have been able to sing in public ever since. Not dying is good!

5. When I was 15, I tried to ride my 5-speed English racer down a motorbike trail in the lots behind the shopping center. It was over 90 degrees that day, and I was all alone, as all the other kids were in camp or otherwise occupied. I flipped over the handlebars and landed on my neck, and was completely paralyzed for a good hour, unable to move, feel a thing, or cry for help. I probably would have been found dead days later. Miraculously, feeling came back, and I arose, wounded and sore, but alive and well. I decided in that moment that I must have a guardian angel who argued with God on my behalf that day. It was probably my maternal grandmother.

6. I taught myself to play the guitar when I was 13, in the eighth grade (I’m now in the 48th grade…). My brother gave me his old student guitar after a trip to Sam Ash in Hempstead to buy his first real guitar, and I was buying my first good trumpet. He was going to throw out the student guitar, but offered it to me. In the backseat, on the way home, my brother gave me my one and only guitar lesson, consisting of two chords (E minor and A minor), and the opening notes of “Satisfaction,” apparently the Jewish guilt version of the song in a minor key. I quit the trumpet the next year and joined my brother’s band. I’m finally ready to take guitar lessons and actually learn what I’m doing.

7. My one idiot savant skill is the ability to remember weird details of every phone conversation I’ve ever had from a pay phone. Whenever I pass a pay phone, I remember someone I spoke to on it, even if it was someone I never spoke to again. As more pay phones disappear from our world, I remember less conversations.

8. The entire world of personal growth and development that has opened up to me, including my coaching career, would never have happened had Andy Kaufman not “confessed” to David Letterman in 1982 that he couldn’t tell his parents that he loved them, and even brought his real parents out from the wings to tell them on national television, “for the first time,” that he loved them. I later found out this was not even true, but that story moved me to enroll into my first personal growth seminar at 1 in the morning in early February 1983. Feeling and expressing my love is now as available to me as the air that I breathe. [I also had the opportunity to acknowledge Andy to his face later that year for his contribution to my life. His brother Michael has been one of my dearest friends since meeting him, in a remarkable “coincidence,” at that first seminar in 1983.]

9. In 2004 and 2005 I was a semi-finalist in the Andy Kaufman Award show in the New York Comedy Festival. I bombed, but it was an amazing experience.

10. Shaving my head was rather liberating. I once turned down a big part in an indie movie called “He Oughta Be Committed” because I was too chicken to shave my head.

11. Sometimes I have to have comfort foods. My favorites are Nabisco Animal Crackers, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, my mother’s tuna casserole recipe or meatloaf recipe, rice pudding, and vanilla ice cream.

12. When I was a kid I wanted to watch every TV station go off the air and come back. I’d watch the pattern until it went to static. I drove my brother nuts, since he shared the room with me.

13. When I was around 5, Hall of Fame Quarterback Y.A. Tittle came to my family’s apartment for coffee and cake. I freaked out and called him “The Man on the Moon,” and yelled, “Get that bald man out of my house.” Ahh, talk about the chickens coming home to roost!

14. The first girl I ever decided I was in love with was Lorie Leff, in the fifth grade. She was beautiful and smart and her hair smelled nice. I was terrified of talking to her. I had an iguana that I named after her. I learned that naming your pet iguana after a girl is not a turn-on.

15. My first real love was Lisa Shaine. I chased her for half of high school. We went to the senior prom together, and she gave me my first kiss; it was amazing. I wonder how she is sometimes.

16. I love to mix cereals. I don’t eat sugary cereals or add sugar to my cereal. Sometimes I will have as many as three different cereals. My favorites are Wheat Chex, Cheerios, Grape-Nuts and shredded wheat. Cheerios and Wheat Chex don’t go together, but the others can all be mixed.

17. I love, love, love getting on my bike and just exploring. It keeps me young.

18. I still love cartoons. Cartoons keep me young. My favorite current cartoons are Family Guy and Spongebob Squarepants.

19. I never watch news late at night, or anything negative. I like to watch old comedy shows before going to sleep, or Conan. It think it’s great to go to sleep laughing. The bad news will still be there in the morning, so why take it to bed with you?

20. I like to get dressed in a tux on New Year’s Eve and pretend I’m living in a Fred Astaire movie.

21. I have a lot to be grateful for.

22. I can type about 125 words a minute, at least after a double latte. I created a mnemonic keystroke system that more than doubles that speed.

23. Goofy things excite me. When I get a package delivered, I hear Ronnie Howard in my head singing “The Wells Fargo Wagon is a Comin’ Down the Street” from “The Music Man.”

24. My musical icons are The Beatles, Sinatra and Elvis, in that order. I’ve always done impressions, and I taught myself to sing as an impression of a singer, by singing to Sinatra records, meticulously listening for and replicating the nuance of every breath, phrase and lilt. Eventually, I found my own voice.

25. I invented the Internet in the sixth grade, in 1967. Seriously. We had to write an essay in Miss Nooger’s class. She asked us to make up an invention, then write about it. My idea was for a TV screen that would slide out from under the toilet bowl, and you could press a button to get the contents of any newspaper in the world instantly delivered to the screen. She thought there was something wrong with me, and called my mother to express her concern about my “bathroom obsession.” Clearly, she didn’t know that the bathroom is also known as “The Men’s Library”!

Blog Talk Radio with Coach Crystal Williamson

I enjoyed being a guest on fellow coach Crystal Williamson’s “Blog Talk Radio” show tonight.  This is an interesting service — a virtual radio show that can be streamed live, or downloaded at a later date.  This service gives the power and freedom to anyone of creating their own radio show.   I’ve signed up to create and host my own Blog Talk Radio show!

Tomorrow, I will write about a dream I once had of being a radio personality, and how I bought into the negativity of a “dream stealer” who burst my bubble.   For now, here’s a link to the show.  Much thanks to Crystal Williamson for the opportunity.

BlogTalkRadio with Crystal Williamson, February 4, 2009

Bill Hicks vindicated on Letterman, 16 years later

Tonight, a rare thing happened for me… I watched Letterman and was moved to tears.  I can always count on David Letterman to laugh before going to bed.  Not this time. It seems that back in October 1993, a young comedian, Bill Hicks, was scheduled to appear on the show for his 12th appearance.  For whatever reason, Letterman’s reaction to Bill’s bit (a confrontational series of jokes about pro-lifers, among other things) was to cut the entire appearance from the show, and it never made it to air.  Bill and his family were pretty upset by this decision, as you might imagine.  Still, as Steve Martin would say, professional show biz is not pretty.  Bill Hicks might well have had a much bigger future ahead of him but for something not known to more than a few people that night in 1993; he was very sick with pancreatic cancer, and there would not be another shot at Letterman, because four months later, Bill Hicks was dead at 32.

David Letterman tonight showed himself at his most human, something we’ve rarely seen over the years, the notable exception being his return to the air after open-heart surgery a few years ago, where he profusely and gracefully thanked the surgeons who saved his life.   Tonight’s show had that edge of humanity, as Dave welcomed to the show Mary Hicks, Bill’s mother.  Dave apologized for his 1993 decision, and recognized the impact on Bill’s career and on his family.  Mary clearly appreciated this.  More importantly, and to my amazement, Dave then showed the entire clip of Bill Hick’s censored act.  Some of the references were a little dated (“Marky Mark), but otherwise the material held up beautifully.  You saw a man in prime comic form, and you might have felt, perhaps, like you were cheated of a talent you might have become a big fan of.  Bill Hicks would be only 49 today, had he survived cancer.

Dave was so real and humble after showing the clip.  “This saws everything about me, who I am, and not Bill.  That was a beautiful bit, perfect, so funny.  What was I thinking [in cutting it]?”  The Hicks family goes home with closure, vindication, appreciation, and pride.  Dave Letterman

A truly beautifu and touching moment, and a nice one to take to sleep with me.

Obama acknowledged his wait staff!

As a coach, I’ve become very aware of the need for more acknowledgement.  I’ve said before that acknowlegement and recognition is something that babies cry for, and grown men die for.  There were so many great moments in the Inaugural festivities last week, but one relatively small one, in particular, stood out for me.  In Obama’s speech after the Capitol luncheon, after expressing concern for Senator Kennedy, he acknowleged the wait staff at the event!   I cannot ever recall hearing the president of the United States thanking the wait staff.  Of course, I’ve never been to such an event in person, so perhaps this is a normal occurrence.  The wait staff are the underpraised, overworked men and women who make it possible for any successful banquet to take place.  Clearly, the guests at this luncheon were in agreement with President Obama’s gracious gesture, from the loud and ebullient applause that followed it.

Bravo, Mr. President!

Stepping up: How disasters bring out the best in us

“Brace for impact,” the pilot announced on a US Air flight 1549 shortly after takeoff.

I was drawn to the windows of my Manhattan office after hearing the sounds of sirens and helicopters rushing to the .  Apparently, a plane made a crash landing in the Hudson River.  I immediately turned to CNN on my Sprint TV to find out what happened.  A US Air shuttle to Charlotte, North Carolina apparently struck a gaggle of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, causing both its engines to fail.

I was glued to the news reports, and relieved that people were quickly rescued.  I was struck by a few things.  For one, the quick action by ferry boat operators in the vicinity of the plane.  New York is a harbor town, surrounded by water.  There has been a big increase in the number of ferry boats that shuttle passengers between New York and New Jersey.  The operators of these boats instantly swung into action to help out.  Then there were the passengers.  There were reports from several rescued passengers about how people worked together to get safely off the plane.  One man gave kudos to the passengers in the exit rows, who quickly had the emergency doors opened and did their jobs to direct people onto the wings.  Another man, in a cap and no jacket, told reporters that his priority was helping the “women and children first” to get to safety, reminding me of the valiant men of the Titanic.   I heard that rather than panic, there was a sense of calm on the plane as the passengers helped each other get off the plane.  There were no deaths, and few injuries.  Of course, the calm and expert handling of the plane by the pilot and co-pilot cannot be understated in bringing this plane down in a controlled descent that made a total rescue possible.

Today could have been a disaster with an entirely different outcome.   I’m proud of these folks.  Nice stepping up!

New Year’s resolution: Write more!

Happy New Year. I realized today that I haven’t written here since before Election Day. I didn’t write about riding my bike up Broadway in Manhattan after Obama’s victory was announced. I haven’t written about meeting Will Smith and acknowledging him for something he once said that I have used in coaching for years. I haven’t talked at all about my recent forays into public speaking (after talking about doing it for years); joining and consistently working out at a gym, taking on running (on a treadmill) despite exercise-induced asthma; renewing my love affair with the electric guitar; or even some wonderful performing opportunities I’ve had in December. I’ve actually had a terrific couple of months, and now it’s time to get crackin’, McCrackin! So… if someone were coaching me here, I’d have to make a commitment and a by-when, right? Okay… I will agree to write at least one post a week starting today, and by the end of February will have created the consistency and momentum to write in this blog at least three times a week. Fair enough? Feel free to hold me to this. You’re all coaches, aren’t you?

“Points of You – The Coaching Game”

I run a local coaching “Meetup” group called “Coaching – A Call to Action.” The group consists of many coaches and professionals in the area of transformation and personal growth, as well as people interested in coaching. Recently, I was approached via e-mail by Marc Bar-Or, a fellow in Israel, about having an event to introduce to New York coaches and therapists “Points of You – The Coaching Game,” a coaching game, or tool, created by an Israeli coaching couple, Yaron Golan and Efrat Shani. The game was recently introduced at the ICF event in Montreal, where it was received quite favorably. I was intrigued after looking at the website, and then Marc clinched it by sending me a courtesy copy of the game by international courier. The title is a bit of a play on the phrase “points of view.” The point of the game, as stated on their website, is:

The Coaching Game is a personal coach that we can pull out
whenever we find ourselves having to cope,
make a decision, or just at any point along the way.
It allows us to explore significant issues in our lives
from different perspectives, to achieve clarity, to
form insights and to decide what actions to take.

Ah, a personal coach in a box! I opened the package with anticipation. My first reaction was how much it looked like a beautiful gift. The game, which consists primarily of gorgeous photographs on “Points of You” cards with single words on them, along with a book of quotes and action cards, is contained within a simple, yet elegant, burlap-type

The game as it appears before opening

The game as it appears before opening

fabric that closes with a bow. The fabric has some colored dots in some spots, sort of like colored fairy dust, that is quite appealing. The effect is warm and inviting, and with a bow fastening it closed, it brought up the feeling of opening up a new present.

Once you open the bow, you’re presented with the contents:


My event, which was held at the Ripley-Grier Studios in Manhattan, a favorite rental space for many in the New York creative arts, as well as for people leading small seminars and workshops.

A creative Manhattan oasis

A creative Manhattan oasis

I welcomed the 19 guests and introduced Yaron Golan, stifling my urge to introduce him as the family who owns the Golan Heights. Yaron started by gave some of his personal history, how he came to the coaching profession, and how the game was created. Then he had us take a “timeout” — about 10 minutes of meditative silence with the lights out, and our eyes closed, optionally sitting or lying on the floor, while he had some Israeli music play out of his laptop. The timeout allowed us all to calm down, let the day’s stresses and tensions fall away, and clear our heads for what would come next.

With the lights back on, Yaron described the game more fully, then put the deck of cards into the center of the room. He requested that we each take a card at random, choose a partner whom we did not know very well, and had us speak about what was working in our lives, connecting that to the word and picture that was on the card. Each pair took turns speaking to the other. This was the start of a terrific process that allowed the people in the room to open up with each other and feel more connected. We did about three or four processes, each with different partners, and we’d trade cards with the new partners so that we could have more starting points for new points of view.

After these, Yaron spoke about some other aspects of the game. The burlap cover is actually a sort of game board when opened up and turned over.

This aspect of the game brings the coaching aspect in play, and reminds me a bit of using Tarot cards. Here, you can ask a question (to your partner or to yourself), and pick three cards at random. and place them in the three rectangles on the board. You can then look at different points of view based on the words and pictures on the cards, and your responses will create answers to your questions.

We finished the workshop with a standard paper and pen exercise to gain clarity on any insights we got, and what would be our next action steps into next month. Yaron offered the game for sale at a significant discount to the participants.

As I utilize this tool personally and with clients, I will be able to write further here about what kinds of results can be expected from this game.

“Where were you on Election Day, 2008?”

Most of us can’t recall exactly where they were at specific times and on specific dates without the benefit of an appointment book.  Throughout my life there have been a number of momentous global events, both good and horribly bad, which are so fixed in collective memory that for as long as I’m alive, I can tell you where I was when that event happened.  That would include the great ones like the Beatles performing live on Ed Sullivan, Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon in 1969, and New Year’s 2000, and of course iconic tragedies like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and John Lennon in 1980, and the terrorist attacks of “9/11” (September 11, 2001).

Election Day 2008 will likely be one for the great-moments side of this equation.

I’ll give you mine.  At 10:42 p.m. on November 4th, with the “score” 235-195 Obama over McCain, I left Pizzeria Uno on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, got on my bike, and rode over to Broadway.  By the time I reached 96th Street at 10:48, I heard the first shouts of “Obama! Yeah!”  With every block I passed, the shouts became more frequent and more boisterous, and reminded me of popcorn starting to pop.  At 105th and Broadway, a hundred or so Obama supporters were celebrating outside the Obama Upper West Side headquarters.  I stopped to take in this moment.  Champagne was poured and drunk openly; strangers stopped to high five and hug each other; a middle-eastern taxi driver stopped his cab at the corner, jumped out to whoop and shout and immediately received a hearty hug from a large black man who was crossing the street.

After ten minutes of soaking it in, I got back on the bike.  When I reached Columbia University, I saw thousands of young people celebrating the moment as if the Yankees had won another World Series.  Traffic was now being rerouted, but the police let me through, and the crowd cheered me along as I cheered them back.  It was electrifying, and something I’ve never seen for an election in my life.

I wanted to make it home in time for the speeches, so I kept going, and arrived just after McCain’s graceful concession speech.

One reason I have chosen to write about the election is how it fits with my motto to “Dream Big, Live Bigger.”  A big part of my coaching process is helping people to have big visions and dreams, to make the seemingly impossible into a reality.  I congratulate President-Elect Obama and the thousands of dedicated, committed men and women who made the “impossible” happen.  Now it’s time to get down to some serious business, and much healing on a global level.  We have a lot of challenges, and from those I also see great coaching opportunities with so many people in transition.   I look forward to 2009 with real hope for change.

Editorial: On November 4th, get out and vote!

Get out and vote on November 4th!

Get out and vote on November 4th!

I’m sure by now you know that Tuesday, November 4, 2008 is Election Day. I cannot more stress how important it is for every citizen of our great country to get out and exercise your privilege as an American to vote for the candidate of your choice.

This particular election is perhaps a watershed moment for our country. The last eight years have seen a decline in our quality of life, fears both reasonable and unreasonable, unprecedented levels of government corruption on a national scale, an economic debacle not seen in three-quarters of a century, and a loss of esteem of America in the eyes of the world and to a great extent, within the country itself.

I do not believe that is a perfect candidate for president in this election. Indeed, with the grueling political process, the unrelenting invasions of personal privacy by our media concomitant with its ability to blow every minor flaw or mistake out of proportion, our best and brightest leaders might not even throw their hats into the ring any longer. That being said, we must look to the most reasonable choice.

As a coach, I’m called upon to suspend my judgment and to rarely offer my opinion. However, as a leader in the transformational movement, I am compelled to take this opportunity to take a stand.

It is my assertion and my opinion that there is only one reasonable choice on Tuesday, a choice that offers hope in the face of everything that we’re up against right now. That choice is Barack Obama.

Whatever your choice, wishing your candidate into office will not suffice. Here’s your chance to take action. Vote on November 4th!

“Life is easy. It’s people who make it complicated”

I happened to be eating in a corporate lunchroom today during a spirited conversation between two young women at the next table. They were complaining about the inanities of daily office life, and one of the woman said, “Life is easy. It’s people who make it complicated!” The phrase jumped out at me, causing me to stop eating (a significant feat, but that’s another story). A gem, I thought, worthy of its own Whitman’s sampler.

I believe there’s much merit to this sentiment. We live in a world of rules, laws, procedures, protocols, statutes, regulations, codicils, blueprints, schematics and instructions. We are so busy defining, we rarely are just “being.” Ah, the simple life.

Yearning for the simple life makes me wax nostalgic. I can remember a much simpler time, when I was a small child. Sure, childhood was a simpler time for everyone, but I mean the times I grew up in, from the late 1950’s to the mid 1960’s. Back then, most of our games did not require power, but merely imagination and a willingness to get dirty. We played mostly outdoors, games like hide and seek, Ringalevio, stickball and “off the wall,” where you’d throw a twenty-five cent Spalding rubber ball (or a Pensy-Pinky, if you only had a dime) against the side of a building. None of our games required a computer processor — back then, a computer was a huge machine that took up a room. If it rained, we played board games indoors, or made up our own games.

There were no cell phones, either. When you went out, you’d let your parents know the general vicinity you’d be playing in, at the most. If something were urgent enough, they’d come and find you, or send another kid to find you. You’d carry a dime in case you needed to make an emergency phone call from a pay phone (those phones didn’t even have a dial tone without paying first, although secretly, if you jiggled the hook a bunch of times, an operator would come on). All phones were owned by one company, and you never owned them; you rented them. A family would share one phone, although you might have an extension phone, so you could yell, “I GOT IT!” when you were on the phone, so anyone else in your house might hang up. Long distance calls were expensive, and rare. They were also a big deal. “I’m on long distance!” A long-distance phone call trumped most everything in importance. And since the other person was paying, you’d never say “I’ll call you back” — you’d drop what you were doing to take this call. A long-distance call from anyone was right up there in importance with “The president is on the phone!”

Television was a black and white box that got channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13. That’s it! There was no cable, and no channel was on for even 24 hours. Channel 2, the flagship CBS station, was on 22 or 23 hours a day, but not 24. One by one, each night, the stations would sign off the air with a statement about their license, followed by the national anthem, then a test pattern. Finally, just static. Hardly anyone had an FM radio back then, so the most you had to entertain yourself with late at night might be a transistor radio. Of course, that wouldn’t be available anyway to a small child… because that child would be sleeping by then.

You’d play all day, and if you hurt yourself, you wouldn’t call a lawyer. You’d call your mother, who would “kiss the boo boo,” put some Neosporin (or that weird red stuff) and a Band-Aid on it, and make it all better. If it were serious enough, you’d call the family doctor, a kindly older man. If he were very concerned, he’d make a house call. A house call!

As my head is clearing from all this nostalgia, I’m thinking, what can I do to make life simpler? What steps will I take this week? In fact, for those of you who are feeling that indeed, we’re making life too complicated, I invite you to make this into a coaching assignment:

  1. Write down five to ten things in your life that seem complicated and take up more time than you want to spend.
  2. For each thing, break it down. What’s complicated about it? What ways can you simplify it? Is there anything you can do to make it fun?

Of course… don’t make this complicated! Keep it simple, smarty! Have fun with it.

Joining the “global economy” – outsourcing my site

At last, I’ve gotten around to hiring a professional web design company to create a website for me. After examining many, many options, I decided to go with Sean McPheat’s outfit, LifeCoachWebSolutions. Sean is in England. He is a coach and entrepreneur with all sorts of websites and businesses out there. This is probably the best overall value I’ve seen, and they’ve made a lot of sites specifically for coaches. I’ve looked at this company for a long time. Initially, I didn’t want to use them because they include the hosting and domain name, and it seemed that was a big part of how they make their money. I already have hosting and more domain names than I know what to do with. I learned from writing to Sean McPheat that I could use my existing hosting, “no problem.”

Once I paid up ($297 plus the “Value Added Tax” (“VAT”) that European countries charge, totaling about $318), I learned, to my surprise, that the sites are actually created by a company named WebArtIndia, based somewhere in India. I soon received an e-mail from a man with an unpronounceable name, letting me know he was leading my project, and requesting me to look at their websites or any other sites I liked, let him know what buttons, links, elements, colors or other layout considerations I had in mind, and informing me that a team would be assembled to put this website together.

It took several days for me to look at many sites and collect my thoughts. I sent my many requests to WebIndiaArt, and within three days they came up with a mock-up of my new site. I’ll post a link to it here, although at some point this will be taken down.  I saved the image to my computer for posterity and uploaded it here for any comments:

Coach Andrew’s new website mock-up

Website Mockup June 5, 2008

I’m submitting my changes this weekend. Once the design and layout is done, I have the fun part of writing all my copy for the various pages. This company gives you 90 days until they sign off on the site. After that, it’s $30 an hour, or I can finish it myself. The good news is $30 an hour is pretty cheap. The better news is that they give you Front Page extensions, so you can edit and maintain your own site if you are up for it.

I’m pretty excited about creating my new site. I like having a “team in India,” even if they are 10 1/2 hours away. When I looked at the developer’s own site, I saw they can do virtually anything I want, including SEO and logos, etc. I’m now part of the global economy.

Throwing out my comb — finding freedom in a head shave

Hair today, gone tomorrow

On November 7, 2007, I prepared for surgery. The next morning, I would go under the knife for the second time in 31 years, to sew up my torn rotator cuff. The cuff had bothered me for years, and a serious of traumas, pulls, bashes and accidents finally caused the old boy to just give out. Alas, I would not be helping the Yankees pull out another big November.

I spent the first couple of weeks after surgery trying to find a comfortable way to fall asleep. In the first week, I slept upright in my “Archie Bunker” Easyboy chair, wrapped in support material, an ice cuff for my shoulder with flowing ice water, and much in the way of a “little help from my friends,” including Percocet and Valium. I had neglible movement you need. This recalls McCartney singing, “The movement you need is in your shoulders.” How right he was.

When I was finally able to get out, I discovered a new casualty of the surgery was an inability to comb my hair. I’m actually left-handed, but right armed, and needed my right arm to make the most of my thinning head of hair. I took on the art of the baseball cap, and even the sort of Irish hat worn by John Lennon in “A Hard Day’s Night.” But what to do about this hair, not to mention the growing salt-and-pepper beard? I ventured down to the Village one night, to a store on Christopher Street that I recalled had a little old Italian barber would cut off my hair for $10. I thought I had the right place, but everthing was wrong. It was a young, gay place with higher prices. Still I decided that $25 to shave my head and trim my beard would not be so bad. I was terrified — I asked for opionions, an we settled on him cropping my head close and stopping, and then decicing on whether to go further. The bartender would make odd comments like how he dated an “older man” once who had a salt-and-pepper beard like mine. Ultimately, when we got it to a buzz cutt, I asked for more feedbck on going “skin to skin.” I decided I’d come this far. So there it all went — shaved all the way down

Later, I learned how freeing this was. I no longer had to worry about my thinning hair, No special products, no gels, no losing combs. Thankfully I had the right head for this sort of thing. No new headshots must be taken, as I look nothing like my web page anymore, even though the pictures date back only nine months. Other than those odd moments when I pass a reflecting and am started by the image reflected back to me, I’ve grown accustomed to my face. Why I almost made my day begin….

Any coments?

How Commerce Bank lost its niche… and its heart

There’s a lot of talk in the world of coaching about “finding your niche.” A niche is what lets a coach, or any business, set itself apart from the pack. Find your niche, and do it better than anyone else, and you’ll have more business than you know what to do with.

In banking, there was one bank that created a niche truly unique from all its competitors. They created a model based on creating not just good customer service, but the best. They found out what the customers not only wanted, but dreamed of. The result was a bank open seven days a week that offered such amenities as free coin counting, free checking, and no surprise fees. Walking through the door, you’d be greeted personally, and often offered a free piece of candy. Blue “Commerce” pens were plentiful and soon gained wide circulation among the cognoscenti of the 9-5 set in Manhattan. When you opened an account, even for a nominal amount consisting of just the change you brought in for counting, you’d get a personal, handwritten card from the person who opened your account. With these sort of practices, for a number of years, Commerce Bank was a shining example of what happens when a commercial entity has a strong mission and purpose and combines it with leadership in the art of customer service.

Somewhere in the last year or so, this once-great bank lost its bearing. Without warning, the bank instituted draconian “monthly cycle fees” that rivaled that of their biggest and worst competitors for fee gouging. Closing an account became a process of trickery and deception that would not allow a customer to leave without incurring months of miscellaneous fees that were never on the statement. Stories of branches “losing paperwork” that would then cause even more fees became common knowledge. The same type of petty, nickel-and-dime thinking that plagues much of the banking and credit card industry replaced the powerful vision of customer care that made this bank one of the fastest growing in the country. Perhaps it is the concerns of a steep recession, but clearly, this bank has lots its mission and purpose.

My mother had a great expression for this. “You’re being penny-wise and pound foolish.” (The “pound” gives away the origins of this expression as an old British one.) It means you’re more focused on the small picture, not the larger one. It’s like hiring an accountant for $150 to examine your $75 cell phone bill.

Let’s look at this from a coaching perspective. If you were coaching the CEO of Commerce Bank, where would you start? My first questions might be, “Has the vision and mission of the bank changed in the past five years? Are the benefits attained from these fee strategies worth the cost to the bank in customer loyalty, goodwill, and future business?

I invite your coaching questions or provide your own approach.

April 4, 2008

Coaching — A Call To Action — announcing my New York Meetup group

A few months ago I took over an active Meetup.com group. On February 27th we had our first event, at a local bar in New York called Rue 57.  We instituted biweekly coaching calls this month.  Every other Sunday, I offer one or two laser coaching sessions with a small group of participants and fellow coaches.  Soon I will open the call guest coaches on topics such as relationships, parenting, and spirituality.  In the next few days this blog will have many new entries. Much to report, and I’m excited about it!

So where was I…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. But here we go.

I went on vacation back in June. I traveled to California, for my father’s 80th birthday. The highlight of my trip was really the two visits I took to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. I learned early in the trip that the New York Yankees would be visiting the Giants for their first regular-season game, and in fact the first time (other than an exhibition game) that the two teams have played since the 1962 World Series. I asked my dad if he’d like to go to the game for his birthday present. I managed to score a couple of pricey ducats. The day before the Yankees got to town, we went to the stadium to pick up our tickets. My father wondered if they had tours available of this beautiful new stadium, which has been open for just a handful of seasons. By a stroke of luck, there were, and the next tour would be starting in seven minutes.

The tour was terrific. The guide, a former New Yorker himself, took the 11 of us into various parts of the press and clubhouse area, up through the dugout, and then into the stands. We really saw just about everything that could be seen.

A special moment occurred when we were in the visitors clubhouse. The guide showed us the old clubhouse door taken away after the 1999 season at Candlestick Park, the last seaoson that the Giants played there. The door was signed by the many players from visiting teams, as well as the Giants players, who played at Candlestick that year. The clubhouse manager, who owns the door, happened to walk into the room, and the tour guide asked what would be on the menu for the team. My father jokingly asked the guy what would be on the menu for us. The fellow responded by saying, “You know what? Follow me.” He marched us into his private office, normally off-limits for the tour, and much to the surprise of the guide. There, he regaled us with stories of the memorabilia lining every nook and cranny of his office.
Locker room manager and memorabilia

The best moment in the tour came when we were in the dugout of the visitors team, where the Yankees would be sitting for the next three days. My father and I took a seat on the bench, and the guide offered to take our picture. My father and I in the dugout

This is the picture I see every day as my cell phone “wallpaper.” What a swell day!

I’m not just a graduate, I’m also an affiliate!

You might recall those old commercials for Hair Club For Men: “I’m just just the president; I’m also a client.” I’ve been clamoring for my coaching school, International Coach Academy (“ICA”) to have an affiliate program, and at last my clamors have been answered.

Have you ever considered coach training to improve your business, interpersonal relationships or leadership skills? You may not want to become a ‘Life Coach,’ but coaching techniques can be applied in many different personal and professional contexts.

One of the best decisions I have ever made was to enroll into ICA back in May of 2005. The program has trained me well in the fundamentals and advanced techniques of professional coaching, and has also profoundly and powerfully improved many areas of my life and has enhanced all my relationships. I also have received the training and support necessary to actually create and implement the structures for a profitable coaching practice.

I believe the ICA coach training program is one of the best in the world today. It has excellent trainers, and an amazingly diverse student body from all over the world. Imagine being in a wonderful, supportive learning environment with people calling in from the United States, England, China, Switzerland, Ireland, and many other countries. It really brings home that we are part of a true global economy.

I have joined the brand new ICA affiliate program, and get to help kick it off! We are offering a great incentive and a great way to get a feel for the training and the school. I urge you to take a look at this very professional program, where you will meet others from all over the world to study leading-edge interpersonal development.

Please note: as a reader of this blog, there is a 10% discount in your registration if you sign up for a program with ICA before June 29th. So if you are considering becoming a coach, or want to use coaching skills to enhance your professional or personal life, this might be the right time to act.

ICA currently runs 5 distinct communities of practice:

– life coaching

– business coaching

– executive coaching

– spiritual coaching

– career coaching

Each community of practice (or CoP as we call them) has a community leader, a dedicated online space, a forum and a

network of like-minded people. These communities are great places to build your networks and learn new skills while you

do it in a lively global thought-provoking environment.

If coaching has been something you have been considering, I really encourage you to take up this opportunity; it is a

unique way to “get inside” this fantastic community and see why I am so passionate about it.

I encourage you to go have a look at the website, and to give yourself the gift of finding out more about this leading-edge coaching training program.

Click this link for more information on this offer:  International Coach Academy.

If you do decide to take the training, please do me a favor and sign up via this affiliate link!

If you have any questions about the program, the certification, or the time requirements involved, please contact me and I will be happy to answer them!

Research paper final results

I meant to post this last month, but it got caught in the draft folder.
I received the results of the research paper/case study I did for my final assessment for ICA. This was one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done. Only two months ago, I didn’t know what on earth I’d be doing for this paper, until I reached out to fellow coaches and students for feedback. One coach friend of mine, Rob Stringer (www.parentingwithintention.ca), knew I had created a coaching team in my men’s organization. In this team, I’d been training non-coaches in the fundamentals of coaching as a means of creating a better support structure. Rob suggested I do a case study on my own project. As it turns out, it was a brilliant idea, and I rolled up my sleeves and got started. On April 20th, I submitted my paper. Last night, I got my results back — scoring a 96%, which translates to High Distinction.  I’ve only heard of one higher grade, and have learned that many students received grades in the 80’s and even 70’s, which makes this a true accomplishment.  I received some terrific feedback from the instructor who graded my paper.  I proudly display that feedback here:

Dear Andrew

Congratulations on successfully completing your research paper, this is a great achievement.

This is a very interesting case study and you have done extensive work in designing, developing and implementing this program. The outcome of this is a very interesting and informative account of a coaching model, approach and methodology for implementation. I think it would be really worthwhile for you to seek out opportunities to share this with coaching colleagues through either a publication or presentation format.

What you haven’t included and you might like to explore, is how does what you have done relate to what others have done in a group or self coaching context? If you do present the project to other coaches it would be useful to have explored this in some depth.

Well done on this achievement and your result is 96%.

Laurene Vaughan

ICA Trainer

Age is but a number

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be on a plane to my home away from home, the Bay Area of California.  I go there at least twice a year to spend time with my family.  This is a particularly special occasion, as my father turns 80 next week.  My father is one of those guys who has been using the “old” card since he was younger than I am today.  “I’m too old!” has been his protest line since he turned 40.  I was thinking that after 40 years of calling himself old, perhaps at 80 he has actually earned the adjective.  Then the other night I was on a Peak Potentials call with T. Harv Eker to promote his Woodstock for the Mind event next month.  Twenty minutes into the call, I had a different perspective on idea that my father is now “old.”

T. Harv’s first guest speaker was the legendary Art Linkletter.  I grew up watching Art Linkletter on shows like “People Are Funny” and “House Party.”  He famously wrote a book about children, called “Kids Say The Darndest Things.”  In recent years he’s been more of a pitchman for products and services for seniors.  I learned on this call that Art is now in what he termed his “45th anniversary of his 50th birthday.”  The man is 95!  Not a doddering 95, but a man who only two years ago quit skiing only because his wife threw the skis away.  Art Linkletter still runs businesses, is very active physically and on the speakers’ circuit, and has a keen mind.  He talked about finding your passion and living it.  It was incredibly inspiring to listen to this icon share a small bit of what is nearly a century of wisdom and experience.

Suddenly, 80 is looking young!  And if 80 is looking young, what of my age, 50?  I’m just a baby!  (Someone pass me the Junket, please.)  This is a great perspective that is validated when you see people like Art Linkletter, Jack LaLanne (who, in his 90s, can still workout harder than 98% of people 70 years his junior), or the late Kitty Carlyle Hart, who passed away recently at 95 but was singing professionally at 93!

Here’s to my dad — may he live to be an old man!

Graduation; acknowledgments redux

Last night was Graduation from ICA. Unlike the graduations we experience in high school and college, this event happened entirely over the telephone. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the past two years, and more importantly, a great chance to acknowledge and thank those who helped make this journey the success it was. I was so excited, I actually had on a baseball cap to which I secured the actual tassel of my 1974 high school graduation cap, a memento that had been hanging on my light switch for decades. My father was on the call, which was a great personal thrill, as there’s nothing better than having your father stand proud for your accomplishments. Some people were prepared with what to say when their turn came to speak, and some were not. I was concerned I would be one of the latter group, so I prepared some words and made sure I included everyone I wanted to acknowledge. I deviated somewhat from them, but here are my prepared words for last night’s graduation:


First of all, I want you all to know that I am wearing a baseball cap to which I have attached the actual tassel from my high school graduation cap!

I am not the same man I was two years ago, as anyone who knows me can attest to.

First and foremost, I would like to thank David Wood, a co-founder of ICA, whose newsletters and website led me to jumping into ICA two years ago.

I’d also like to thank all the great teachers at ICA, the voices in my head for years to come, including Karen Capello, Merci Miglino, Jim Clarkson, Lou D’Alo, Bill Turpin, Sheri Boone, Isabelle King, Angela Bird, Ronnie Noize and Paul Litwak. I also must acknowledge Frankie Picasso, who was a huge, huge help to me, and without whom I would not have made it past Foundation Coach. Those instructors I have not mentioned, for whatever reason, I never had the opportunity to be on a call with.

I’m grateful for my men’s team in Men’s Divisions International, where I got so much of the training that led me to coaching.

Thanks to my peer coaches, Bethany and Bluette.

Big thanks to my peer clients, and in particular, Rob Stringer, who showed me that a project I’ve been working on for the past year and a half would actually be a prime candidate for my research paper, for which I got a 96%!

My paying clients who have caused me to grow and stretch as a coach, and tremendously improve my self-confidence.

My fellow students, especially a few people who have become my true friends outside of ICA, like Garry Carlson, who is here on this call.

My personal coach, Barb Robison.

Last but not least, my family, especially my father and my brother, and all my friends who have supported me in this journey.


I just received my official invitation to my graduation from International Coach Academy, which will take place on June 1, 2007, at 7 p.m. I was all set to order my cap and gown, when I remembered that this graduation, unlike the last time I graduated anything back in the 1970s, would be a virtual one. Virtual graduation, you say? Well, why not? Consistent with having all my classes taught via teleclass (on conference line bridges) with students joining in from around the globe, and all my coaching sessions conducted by telephone, it is just perfect that the same technology would make a global graduation possible. Of course, will will all be heading out to the virtual ice cream shoppe afterwards for an obligatory post-graduation banana split!

If you’re reading this and would like to attend, drop me an e-mail at coach@andrewporetz.com before June 1st, and I will be happy to invite you.

Update on the web page

I figured out how to get a counter on my page, and a subscription box.  Of course it would be helpful if I had anything to subscribe to.  Therefore, I will have my first e-zine ready this summer.  I am now making it official — all contributions related to coaching, personal growth, the Law of Attraction, etc., are welcomed.  Feel free to e-mail me at coach@andrewporetz.com with your contributions, suggestions, or anything else on this subject.

My web page is now up!

I finally decided to get rid of the “under construction” page on my website, and spent hours fiddling with Microsoft Publisher, FTP settings, etc., until 4:30 in the morning, when my eyes finally glazed over completely and I called it a night. So please do take a look at my site. It’s not 100% finished, as I haven’t yet figured out how to add things like a counter, a subscribe box, and a signup sheet that does what I want. Ultimately, I will likely bring in a professional to either add these things or re-do the site. For the most part, the page will remain somewhat static, but it also links to this blog, which of course will change all the time. Hey, I’m excited!

My web page: www.andrewporetz.com (will open in a new window).

Pronoia — “Man, they’re out to help me!”

“Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.”  This quote has been attributed to everyone from Kurt Cobain to Fox Mulder.  Those of us into “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction” may have discovered the opposite of paranoia, or “pronoia” — the suspicion that the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.  Now how great is that?  How many of you blame the mythical “they” on everything?  “They” are out to get me.  “They” did this.  “They” knew I was coming.

So here’s another perspective, rooted in the Law of Attraction.  “They” are out to help you!  What if it were true that in fact, all you have to do is choose this perspective?  I assert that this is, in fact, the case.  I believe in the lessons of “The Secret.”

“They” are also counting on you to do your part.  Remember, you must be willing to take action.  I’m reminded of  an old joke about an old man who had prayed all his life to win the lottery, and as a man of complete faith was devastated to never win.  In Heaven, he asks God why He did not make him a lottery winner, despite his prayers.  “But Morris,” God said, “I did my part.  But you never bought a ticket!”

They’re out to help you, man!

Coach Andrew’s Top 10 Rules for Living

1. Discover what you’re passionate about.

2. Discover what you’re great at.

3. Find ways of expressing what you’re passionate about.

4. Find ways of doing what you’re great at.

For rules 1-4, if you haven’t yet figured this out, hire a coach. If your occupation involves doing something you’re simultaneously passionate about and great at, you’ve already done more for your life than most people ever will in theirs.

5. Live the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This is so simple. With this rule as your guide, you’ll find yourself doing things for others because you’ll remember a time when you would have welcomed that yourself.

6. Perform a mitzvah a day.

This is like living the Golden Rule but on steroids. A mitzvah is literally a commandment of God from the Old Testament. It has also come to mean an act of human kindness you do for someone without expectation of anything in return, although a “thank you” would be appreciated. It can be as simple as noticing someone struggling to get their belongings through a doorway, so you rush over and hold the door for them. When is the last time you gave up your seat on the bus for an old lady or a young pregnant woman? A mitzvah can also be much bigger, like giving away an old working printer to someone who can’t afford one. Volunteering or otherwise donating time to a greater good is a wonderful example. I like to use the power of connections. My favorite is putting people together, whether for business or pleasure.

7. Always look for and choose the more powerful perspective.

This will take some practice for most people. It’s easy to always find the bad in things. If you look for the good, you’ll usually find it. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

8. Acknowledge people.

Everyone loves to be acknowledged and appreciated, even for the little things. See my post on acknowledgment.

9. Watch cartoons and stay young forever.

Okay, I know this sounds silly. What I’m really getting at is, nourish your inner child. Play. Have fun. Every time I watch Spongebob Squarepants I connect to the 10-year-old inside me.

10. Stay active.

Ride your bike, walk, run, or just play kick the can. It keeps you young, alive, and healthy.

Today, I am a coach….

On May 28th, it will be exactly two years since I made the decision to become a professional coach, and make a career out of what I’d been doing naturally for years, for free, before I knew it was a career choice. I had a conversation with a fellow at ICA named Dennis Griffin in Australia. The next day, a Sunday, I took the action step of registering and virtually plunking down my money. Almost immediately, I received my welcome letter and student ID. Student ID!!! For the first time since leaving college in 1979 some 20 credits shy of a degree, I was a student! Oh, the glory! I was determined that this time would be different. I would complete this if it killed me. A virtual classroom with students physically dispersed throughout the world would assure that there would be no cafeteria food fights, dorm parties, fraternity keggers, or hot co-eds to distract me from my journey.

In those two years I took some 140 or so hours of classes, practices, and repeated classes, read volumes of material, and practicd the art of coaching one shift at a time. Going at my own pace as someone employed full time in a job unrelated to coaching, I found some people who came in after me who were able to graduate sooner than I did. I knew, though, that it didn’t matter how much time it took, as long as I completed.

Earlier in the year, I didn’t think it would happen for me in June. I knew I had a lot of classes to take, and I had not completed any of the required work to graduate. One thing I had going for me, however, was that I was a “product of the product,” as they say in network marketing. I have been paying for a coach virtually since I started in ICA. I knew that if I was to ever be able to ask someone to pay me to coach them, I’d damn well be willing to pay someone else to do the same for me! Coach Barb is with SuccessTracs, part of Peak Potentials (T. Harv Eker’s “Millionaire Mind Intensive” organization). Barb helped me to commit to graduation. She helped me to deal with any insecurities or doubts that I could do the tough, “scary” work ahead, like my research paper. I kept seeking a back door, and she kept prodding me to hold to my commitment. I became unstoppable, like “Ahnold” in “The Terminator,” getting up at ungodly hours of the morning to take teleclasses, sometimes taking a catnap afterwards. In three months I took nearly as many classes as I’d taken in the year and a half I’d been in ICA. Then, one by one, I tackled my nine assessments to graduate.

On Wednesday, May 15, I turned in my last piece of business, my record of participation. Every last class, peer coaching hour, supervised coaching class and outside client hour is reflected in this spreadsheet. Today, I got the official word that this assessment is completed.

On June 1st, I shall graduate ICA. I’ve been coaching professionally for over a year, and have a growing practice. ICA will deem me a “Certified Professional Coach.” I will be eligible for the first level of certification from the International Coach Federation within a couple of months.

I am reminded of what every young Jewish boy says at his bar mitzvah: “Today, I am a man.” Today, I am a coach. On June 1st, the virtual cap and gown will just make it official. I shall celebrate — and if you happen to be in the neighborhood… the beers are on me!

— Coach Andrew Poretz

Acknowledgement/Recognition: Babies cry for it, grown men die for it

Ever notice how people go absolutely nuts over getting recognized for their accomplishments?  For some, it seems that the reward is in the award.  Anything for that blue ribbon, that shiny brass trophy, or the gold medal saying you’re number 1!   I still have a trophy for being on the number one Little League team in 1965.  It’s one of my least proud accomplishments, however.  Why?  Because that trophy does not reflect the fact that I never got another hit after they took the practice tee away; the times I spent wandering right field and letting easy catches go because I was afraid the ball would hit me in the face; or the times I didn’t play at all, choosing instead to play with rocks off to the side of the field.  Yet there it is, my trophy, forever belying the fact that I had no place on that championship team.  How much better would that trophy feel today if I could feel worthy of having my name on it?

Now let’s get this straight — be generous in your acknowledgment and your recognition, as long as you are being genuine.  If not, your client will know it, and won’t take it in — and your credibility just went down a bit.  On the other hand, genuine, unbridled acknowledgment is always welcomed and appreciated.  That being said, I’m rather pleased to share some unsolicited acknowledgment from one of my clients, hidden in her lengthy list of what she’s grateful for in this week’s session preparation form:

“I’m grateful to have an amazing coach like Andrew supporting me in this process.  I’m sorry I have not acknowledged you sooner.  Thanks for being a part of my process.”

This grown man got a little teary eyed.  And you’re welcome, client!

It all starts with an idea

I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction: What you think about comes about. When you have ideas, get excited about them, and take action, results happen. You start to gather the resources you need, you attract the right people to make your plan come to fruition, and you make things happen. This is the crux of The Secret, as well old standbys like Think and Grow Rich.

As I prepare to graduate from ICA on June 1st, and attain my first level of professional certification as a Certified Professional Coach, I’m looking back on the results I’m having and how they started out as thoughts, little things like seeds, which manifested through time, action and hard work.

I’ve been a coach for years. The idea of becoming a professional coach came to me when someone asked me what I knew about the profession of life coaching, as she was considering a career change. I pretended to know much, but in fact, knew very little about it. Her question led me to investigate coaching. That research led me to the realization that this was what I was meant to do. I joined ICA, and two years later, I am “officially” a coach. (I wrote about this earlier in acknowledging Coach David Wood, a co-founder of ICA, for his immense contribution to my development and his place in this story.)

I’m also in a men’s organization, MDI (Men’s Divisions International), and have been on a team of men for over 15 years. At some point into my journey towards coaching, I had the idea of creating a coaching team to empower our men with specific tools they could use with each other to provide more valuable support. I didn’t know what this would look like or how I would make it happen, but I talked about it, I enrolled other men into my (not-yet-clearly defined) vision, and created a team and a program. We started this program officially in September, and now I have a team of well-trained men who can really impact other people, and who have developed skills in active listening and powerful questioning that they now use throughout their lives. The team also became the basis for my final project in ICA, a case study. In this study I had the opportunity of interviewing the men one at a time, and transcribing their responses. I learned a tremendous amount about the men; myself as a trainer, coach and leader; and the developing program.

It all started with an idea. What ideas do you have in your head? What would happen if you took action on your best ideas? Comments are welcomed!


There’s an interesting networking site for professionals, called Linked-In. I found a “widget” that lets me add a little device on any web page to help people link to me on that site. It won’t display here, but you can see it on my MySpace page, at www.myspace.com/mentorcoach. Meanwhile, feel free to click the link below, and add yourself to my Linked-In listing.  I have fixed the link so that you don’t have to be logged into Linked-In to view my profile.

Linked-In Profile

Well whaddya know, I’m a business coach!

A Community of Practice is a wonderful community, indeed. It is an hour-long call, moderated by a certified coach/ICA instructor, that gives ICA students the opportunity to practice coaching in a safe environment, and get feedback from the teacher and other students. It’s a place to sharpen the saw, if you will.

I decided to participate in a different Community of Practice than usual in ICA. I’d just been doing the General/Life Community of Practice. I thought I’d start trying out new ones. Tonight, it was the Business Community of Practice. I had come on the call with the intention of “listening and learning.” There were only three participants, so I stepped up to be the official observer. As an observer, my job was to watch for the 11 “core competencies” of coaching as established by the International Coaching Federation.

Jerry from Australia coached Jenny from the United States, who had some challenges around starting her business. I took copious notes on Jerry’s excellent coaching of Jenny. The thing that was an “a-ha!” moment for me was noticing that Jerry’s coaching was very similar to how I coach my clients, and noticing that Jenny’s business issues were similar to my clients’ issues. I had never thought of myself as a “business coach” before. I think I had stopped myself from going there because of what I “thought” business coaching was and the reality of it. I thought business coaching was limited to coaching executives and going into corporate environments. I learned that 80% of business clients come from small businesses, entrepreneurs.

I’ve thought of myself as a life/strategy coach for creative people, entrepreneurs and people in the performing arts. I realize that I am in fact a strategy coach for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I could still coach people in the performing arts, with the latter possibly being more from the business end. (I’ve long been involved to some degree with the performing arts, and so I am seeking a niche that could incorporate people in show business.)

This will keep me up tonight! The wheels are already turning, and they’re LOUD!


Amazing, the things you do when committed

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

Do you have any idea how much I hate getting up in the morning? I remember a song that Irving Berlin wrote, and even sang in the movies, called “How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning.” On a regular day, I will set my alarm for the last possible moment that I could conceivably get up, get showered and dressed, and out the door to the j.o.b.When my major commitments are involved, however, it’s a different story. The above quote related to a rather bold and dangerous journey. Still, even in the relatively more mundane commitments we make, it holds a great ability to inspire me. In order to graduate from ICA and, frankly, partly because I backed myself into a corner by disappearing from classes for half a year in early 2006, I’ve had no choice but to take early morning classes. Every Tuesday and Friday, my alarm rings at a quarter of six, in order to get up, find my brain, have something to drink and relieve myself (not necessarily in that order) before a 6 a.m. teleclass. One thing about ICA is that students are located all over the globe. So my 6 a.m. might be lunchtime for my England colleagues, or even nighttime for our Asian students.

The bottom line is that when you create powerful commitments and let those commitments run you, instead of your circumstances, there are few things you can’t do. You’ll notice your “I can’t” turn into “I must.” I must, and I will.

Or as Nike says…. “Just do it!”

Another milestone…

On Thursday, March 22nd, I had my final supervised coaching session.  The first five sessions had gone pretty well.  For sessions 2-5, I had a single client, Brian.  This was quite helpful for continuity, and for creating actual, measurable results that could be tracked.  With a few days to go, Brian sent me an e-mail informing me that he would be unavailable for my final session, as he managed to book a flight out of Florida at precisely 7 p.m. — the start time of the class.  I am pleased to say that I did not panic.  I posted on the ICA board my request for someone to be my client for this call.  Within hours, I had an enthusiastic candidate, Alexandra.  Alexandra lives in Massachusetts, but has a pronounced Romanian accent.  We had a nice conversation on Wednesday night to connect with each other and discuss the parameters for the call.

The final went quite well.  I had an excellent session with Alexandra, and received terrific feedback from the master coach instructor, as well as from the two other coaches on the call.  My oral exam followed.  I prepared for this exam by writing down in advance answers to the questions that did not refer to the final session itself.  This allowed me to be very present and not concern myself with stumbling and nervousness.  I did not read the answers verbatim, but rather, referred to them and also “danced in the moment” when the master coach threw me a curve ball or two.

I also was ecstatic to note, upon receiving my assessment on Friday, that I had hit every last sub-competency over my six sessions!  Many of these I hit multiple times, and some on every single session.  This was one of the big remaining challenges towards graduating the program.  Next stop… the research paper!


When I was a young guy, I used to go to a place called “Ripples on the Water,” a catering joint and dance club in Whitestone, and the former home of the great songwriter Oscar Hammerstein II. Tonight, my peer coaching client reminded me of that place when we talked about the ripples in the water, the cumulative effects of making a difference in someone’s life. She told me a story about how she helped one of her patients “cross over” in a beautiful, peaceful passing to the “other side.” She told me this in the context of how much she’s been affected by watching “The Secret“, and let me know that my introducing it to her and inviting her to watch it has created profound results for her, and in turn for her family, her patients, her projects, and in so many other ways.

Seems to me that if you create enough ripples in the water, you could create a wave. What do you think?

International coaching and technology

I took a class this morning about coaching internationally. One of the appealing ideas about the business of coaching is that you could potentially have clients anywhere in the world, thanks to modern telecommunications. After all, in my ICA classes, there are students from all over the globe on the calls. It’s not quite so simple, though. There are things to consider: differences in culture, language and understanding; regulatory or legal considerations; the process of collecting payment and the conversions of currency; and more. Still, the idea that I might someday have a global business is rather thrilling. For the younger generation, a lot of today’s technology and global business climate is simply how things have always been done. I may be “with it” enough to text message with the best of them, but I can also recall a much simpler time, when someone calling “long distance” was treated as royalty, and when other countries were places you might visit once in a lifetime but communications were only by handwritten letters that took weeks to arrive. When I was a child there were no pushbutton phones, there was but one telephone company, there was no such thing as an answering machine or voice mail, and computers were giant machines with no screens used only by some large data processing companies or the military. Technology has changed everything, hasn’t it?

Coaching by woods on a snowy evening

Of course, the title to this post was borrowed by the old Robert Frost poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  The title popped into my head the other night, when it was snowing in New York, and I had a coaching client.  One of the things that attracted me to coaching was one of the same things that attracted me to network marketing.   “You can run your business in your underwear.”  Now, when you think about it, it’s probably not the most glamorous image you can think of, unless it involves a supermodel doing business in their underwear.   And really, the underwear is not the point.  It’s the feeling of freedom.  I love the fact that I can create a profound difference for people who don’t have to know how, or even if, I’m dressed; whether I’m having a bad hair day; or anything else that could never happen in a face-to-face session.  Still, there I was, in my long underwear, taking a coaching call.   Technically I wasn’t “by woods,” unless you want to consider Riverside Park, some three blocks away.   Well, maybe old Mr. Frost never experienced Manhattan (“… and blocks to go before I sleep…”).

“Some don’t see beyond the circle they draw around them”

I had one of those moments today. You know the ones — where you are frustrated by someone who doesn’t get you, and where you feel lik you are talking to a wall. I was in a chat room today when a woman, a kindergarten teacher, asked me, “What the heck is a life coach?” I responded, “A life coach is to someone’s life as a fitness coach is to your physique — I work with people to bring out their best and be clear and in action on their goals, be an accountability partner, etc.” Her response was surprising: “Thought my mom and dad did that for me. I’m all grown up now. I reach all of my goals now with help from no one but that’s great that you help those who don’t.” Certainly there is some validity to this comment, in that most of us have the ability to make goals and meet them. If that’s all we needed a coach for, there might not be a coaching field to be a part of. Then a friend of mine put it in perspective for me. “Andrew, some don’t see beyond the circle they draw around them.” And that’s a great observation. People seek coaches because they see far beyond their own circle, or at least know there is more to see, and they want it! They know they are stuck in their own circles, and are willing to do something different to get there.

Supervised coaching, day two

I’m blessed to have great coaches. My SuccessTracs coach, Barb Robison, helped me prepare for my supervised coaching. I also got great feedback from a fellow coach, Rob Stringer. So last week, my first coaching session went very well. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but it was good, and my feedback was good. I was determined to be prepared for the rest of the sessions, so I set out to find a good client for my class. I found one in Brian, a fellow who happens to be on my “coaching team” — as it happens, I’m teaching coaching fundamentals to several men to create a coaching-based goal program in a men’s organization I’ve been in for 15 years.

Tonight was great. I prepped Brian before the call, and went over my coaching policies and procedures with him, as well as the ICF code of ethics. We had some idea of what was up for him, and I let him know we didn’t have to do anything else before the call — I’d just coach him and run with it. The call went well — I felt I was in the zone with him, and I could sense his shift as we moved along. My feedback was very specific around the powerful questions I asked, and several of the other coaches on the call gave me great feedback on a couple of specific things I did — things they intend to borrow for their own coaching. I had that feeling of just wanting to dance! I made sure to give my coach, Barb Robison, props for her great opening question: “If this session were extraordinary, what would you want to walk away with?”

I also had the opportunity to learn from other coaches, and got some great ideas to incorporate into my coaching. I learned there is a great value in being on the call for the entire session, not just my own part, as it was a great way for me to learn from other coaches, as well as an opportunity to support those coaches by being present for them as they are for me.

The event that led me to life coaching as a career

In 2004, Barbara, a woman I knew only from the Internet, asked me, “What do you know about life coaching?” I’d heard of the term, and as a longtime taker of personal growth courses and participation in things where coaching took place, I had some idea, so I replied, “I know something about it, why?” Barbara had been a very successful woman and was semi-retired at 55.  She told me she was considering a new career challenge, and wanted me to take a look at a website and give her my opinion. It was David Wood’s site, Become A Coach. David is an Australian coach who has mastered the marketing aspects of coaching. I then looked at his other site, Solution Box. I was immediately intrigued, and getting the idea that there was possibly a significant career for me that I’d never considered (or really knew about) before. I was also impressed that David learned his coaching chops at Landmark in New York, since I did the Landmark Forum in 1991. I became a subscriber, and read all the newsletters sent to me. I wasn’t aware at the time, but each issue, and each article, led me closer and closer to making a leap of faith. My friend Barbara ultimately decided this was not for her. Then I received a newsletter with David announcing that the school he co-founded some years ago, ICA, was now accredited by the ICF, and that the price would soon go up. I began to take a more urgent view, got some feedback from a few people on whether or not I might pursue this, and then took the ICA assessment quiz. The results told me that I was “already a coach” and it was “about time” I got paid for it. I took a deep breath and contacted the school, and by the end of that weekend, I was enrolled in coaching school, and took my first class around the beginning of May 2005, and successfully completed my training in April of 2007, with a graduation ceremony on Friday, June 1, 2007.

My first laser coaching session

Last Thursday. was a big day for me. I had committed on last week’s general coaching practice call to coach on tonight’s call. I did this because I know as a coach and a student of human nature that people are more apt to live into their commitments than they are to just hope to jump into things when the time is right. I knew that if I said I would, I’d have to do it, because I hate breaking my word, especially to others. Before the call, I had a session with my own coach, with the SuccessTracs program run by T. Harv Eker. We talked about tonight’s call and even more about my supervised coaching class that starts on Thursday. She helped me reach some great new perspectives about myself and my competency as a coach, and I was excited and chomping at the bit.

So I had no trepidations about getting started tonight. Initially, I had only the concern that I would have trouble understanding the student who had stepped up to be the coach client, a woman overseas whose name I had difficulty with, and who spoke with a strong accent. However, it proved not to be an issue. I had an excellent session with her, and felt totally confident, competent and on top of my game in coaching her successfully with her issue. I got such great feedback from the coaching client, the observer, and instructor Lou D’Alo that I was literally beaming, my right arm punctuating the air with my silent YES!

I had forgotten to record myself, but I did record the feedback portion, and after I transcribe it I’ll post some of that here.

Supervised Coaching

This week is a veddy scary week, boys and girls, as Count Floyd used to say. Thursday is my first supervised coaching class. Twelve weeks of laser coaching, with six people coaching someone of their choice, with an ICF-certified coach watching for the 11 core competencies of coaching.

In the words of Dan Akroyd in Ghostbusters, “I’m frightened beyond the capacity for rational thought.” Here is where 19 months of classes, 11 months of actual coaching, and every moment where I was not quite in focus during any of the above all come together. In these 12 weeks I will have the opportunity to coach six times, and be deemed either competent or not competent in these, well, competencies.

I will write more about this in the days to come.

Communities of Practice

In ICA, there’s a new class called “Communities of Practice.” These are tag-team coaching opportunities whereby participants will take turns “laser-coaching” a single coachee. It’s a great opportunity to put what you’ve learned into practice in a safe environment, with a lot of support from other students and the instructor, and plenty of excellent feedback. Last week I finally took the plunge and jumped in. I had to bite my tongue when the instructor, Lou D’Alo, said my name and told me which student I’d be following in the queue. My initial feeling was to say, “Hey, I just want to observe!” But I let that feeling pass.

With some trepidation at first, I listened closely. Often on class calls my mind wanders, my attention drifts, and I have to refocus myself. In this call, however, I found myself more in the type of zone I’m in when I’m coaching a client. I was fully engaged with the “client” throughout the coaching by all the excellent student/coaches, so that when it was my turn, I was able to leap right into the coaching fray.

The experience was very liberating. Much to my surprise and pleasure, I didn’t die! Worlds did not collide, nobody stuck a tongue out at me, and I learned it’s actually pretty fun to coach this way. Hoo-ah!

Streams of coaching income

One thing I love about the coaching business is that it opens up so many possible streams of income. Most people think of coaching as a fee-based business. But that’s linear income: you trade your time for money. If you don’t show up for your call, you don’t get paid. Why not work harder, not smarter? Create multiple streams of income from things like speeches, information products, books, etc., and make them into passive streams of income by making them things that you can sell over and over again, through a website, at the back of the room at a seminar, and through sales on other people’s sites. You do the work once, get paid over and over again. Why not get paid while you sleep? Works for me!

Hello world!

Well here I am, blogging in the material world. Here I will post my musings on my classes at ICA as well as coaching-related experiences.

Tonight I have my own teleclass. Every Thursday, I lead a one-hour teleclass where I teach coaching fundamentals to a small group of men who are part of MDI – Men’s Divisons International in New York. This evening we will go over what we’ve learned so far in the past few months, and then set up a three-hour in-person event where we will create a coaching-based goal program designed to cause men to know and live their purpose and win in the game of life. Sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it?