Video Tip: Managing Transitions with Ease

“Hey honey, it’s time to go.”

Transitions can be tough. When you approach someone who is wrapped-up in an activity and need them to change their behavior to accommodate your needs, it can often result in conflict. This little tip can make those requests go much more smoothly by setting expectations and engaging the person you want to influence in a meaningful way.

How it works

What: You need someone to stop what they are doing and do what you ask.

When: Use this when you want to manage a transition without drama. It might require some negotiation, but it will generally make transitions much less painful. Examples:

  • You want to leave a party and your partner isn’t quite ready yet.
  • You need the kids to stop playing and get in the car.
  • You want a co-worker or subordinate to stop what they are doing and focus on a new task.

Benefit: Instead of demanding someone change their behavior, you’re asking them to partner with you to decide the best time for the transition to occur. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your position; instead it encourages a conversation that more often results in a cooperative outcome without fighting or bad feelings.

Did you try this technique? How did it work? Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share with your friends. Thank you.

Coaching Case Study: Finances After the Divorce

David was married when he was 25. He and his wife waited a few years and then had two kids. All was going well until it wasn’t. I met David after his divorce and provided coaching to help him gain control of his finances and adapt to a post-divorce financial outlook he hadn’t expected. This kind of change is a common reason folks hire a life coach.

Clarifying the problem

David was suddenly responsible for making alimony and child support payments, while still feeling responsible for adding to the kids’ college fund. He’d been so busy working, he left his wife in charge of the money until now. He had no idea where to start.

Setting reasonable goals

In coaching, setting goals is an important part of the process. David’s goal was to understand how manage his money in a way that supported his long-term commitments – college for the kids – while still planning for his retirement that is about 25 years away.

Using coaching to get it done, started with clarifying his values around money and his kids. It was clear he wasn’t about to leave them behind; despite the divorce, he was committed to his plan to provide money for college for both.

We also un-covered his retirement dreams. Much different now that he was divorced, he could still imagine a scenario where he would get remarried and spend his “golden years” with a partner. He wanted to make sure he had a home to live in that wasn’t mortgaged so he’d have money for some travel.

Finding his truth

During our discussions, it turned out the real reason David didn’t want to manage the marriage money is that he was afraid he would make a mistake and potentially lose money because he really didn’t know how to invest. In fact, his fear kept him from learning about interest rates and saving benefits and other things like how to invest in the stock market. As we dug into that fear, he discovered he’d inadvertently learned several bad behaviors from his father who did lose money.

We worked to peel back the layers to discover he truly did want to learn more about money, but he needed to be free of the anxiety attached to it. That revelation was key to removing the stigma he’d attached to it and from there, he proceeded on a path of learning about different investing strategies – and other tools he had access to through his job – and he was able to build a plan for the long term.

Holding David accountable

Because David was inclined to shy away from money at first, building in accountability was key. It was when we realized he kept avoiding some of his homework, that we were able to uncover the messages he’d had from his father. After that, David always took away a weekly assignment and by the end of our time together, he’d mapped out a financial plan that he felt comfortable with today and he knew he could change over time.

Coaching provided him with a safe place to address an issue that was driving him nuts. Once we figured out why it was so hard (his dad), his energy shifted and caught fire. While the amount of money he made didn’t change, his relationship with money did and suddenly money wasn’t a bad thing; it was something that could help his meet his commitments and realize his dreams. Managing his finances after divorce was no longer a challenge.

Don’t let your fears hold you back. Give coaching a try. At least try a complimentary consultation to see if coaching is right for you. It’s free and easy.

It’s True, I Love Stealing Other People’s Children

It was so easy.

All I had to do to lure them away was send them a text. And then they were mine!

Much to Katie’s chagrin – she really can’t complain, she’s off storming the South Pacific with People to People – I swiped her friends and took them to a food fest at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Watsonville.

My glorious partners in crime, Emelia and Eva, are Katie’s friends and they are wonderful, fun and appreciative. They accompanied me to the event to learn more about the food bank and the local service organizations and foods we have in Santa Cruz County.

Free Food at the Food Bank!

We got there to find a great spread – lunch! I wish I could remember which group made the food. It was tasty. Enchiladas, salad and if you look, that’s a tri-tip sandwich on Eva’s plate.

It was sunny and warm and it was fun to feast with the girls and dish about my daughter! Well not exclusively, but there was a little gossip about her flirting with some boys in New Zealand. I hadn’t heard that story. It was so good to get the “deets” (that’s slang for details if you aren’t hip – it’s probably actually old-school slang at this point).

After lunch Bly, pictured on the right, gave us a personal tour of the food bank. We started in the offices learning about their marketing efforts like The Waiters Race organized by Soif Wine Bar owner Patrice Boyle to celebrate the French holiday Bastille Day and raise money for the Watsonville-based charity Second Harvest Food Bank.

We rounded the corner and found the sign (right) that noted half the people served by the food bank are children. That one hit home for all three of us. We also saw this huge whiteboard that lists where food is being delivered and when. It’s a two week window of outreach that extends all over Santa Cruz County. Very impressive and real.

The warehouse was next and thanks to a great Capital Campaign, the bank has racks now to stack the food that’s donated from many places. It’s rather amazing to see stacks and stacks of donated food. One of the girls said it felt like a “Costco for good.” Couldn’t agree more. We passed by strawberries donated by Driscoll’s and Happy Boy Farms tomatoes and more.

We ended looking at the inside of a box of food that’s delivered to families based on the donations given in those food bins that show up at the holidays all over Santa Cruz County. In the photo on the left that says Food Drive, you see what a family might get. I saw two cans of anchovies and it took me a minute to force down my gag reflex. They are so gross to me.

Then I realized, if I was hungry, that would be food and I would be grateful. I am grateful that I am not that hungry and don’t have to rely on Sardines. Very, very grateful.

We walked outside to find Sam Farr talking with the gathering about his support of the Food Bank. When I snapped the photo, he was surrounded by Plantronics Interns who always seems to be on hand to help out at these events (wow).

Before we left, we visited the various booths set up around the event featuring local growers and plenty of great produce. I buried myself in raspberries – like gold at the store and I could have as many as I wanted! – and the girls tasted tomatoes, apples, strawberries and more.

They gave us bags and we were invited to take home produce. We all left with lots of fresh goodies from organic carrots and radishes to home grown plums, apples and berries.

The girls expressed interest in volunteering sometime soon; maybe to sort food. I was glad to have the chance to share such a good time with them. They were terrific company and made me miss my daughter just a little bit less.

Stealing kids is totally worthwhile – as long as their parents agree! I just hope Katie won’t kill me when she gets home!

The School Talent Show, Twitter, American Idol and the Joy of Parenting

Permission slips were due last Friday for the school talent show. Let’s get real, this is elementary school – how much talent can there really be? The slip specifically noted no “lip singing” which appalled me. Is there no one proofreading these documents or do they really think that means lip-synching? Anyway…

After a day of gut wrenching self analysis, my daughter decided not to try out. Her girlfriends abandoned her (not a surprise to me) and aside from desperately trying to convince me she could mime, we agreed she has no “talent” for this year’s show. Sure, the little singing and dancing act she had prepared with her friends would have been cute, but my kid is no Ashley Tisdale. Or Nicole Richie. Or, well, you get the idea. Which brings me to Twitter.

I just started Tweeting last week and I have to admit, it’s a guilty pleasure. If you are unaware of what’s going on, this Business Week article does a nice job summarizing what you have been missing. There are lots of folks who think it’s a flash in the pan, like Mark and a summary from the WTweetJ blog. But I don’t care, that’s not the point. The point is Tweeting is all about me! I have a place to publicly vent, share and use 140 characters that summarize exciting things about me! It is awesomely self-centered. I am sure if one does it enough, it might even make you go blind.

In a world where we are all just cogs in the wheel, Twitter gives you this little place where you can feel important. And the cool thing is, you can connect with others and find out they are doing things that are as unimportant as the things you are doing. And it is fun. But does it turn us into self-centered monsters?

Monsters.

You know who I’m talking about: like the kids who try out for American Idol who have no business wasting anyone’s time. Could it be that these kid’s parents never told them they can’t sing? At no time have their friends said; could you quiet down a bit, you are drowning out the radio? Or like my mom told me, “You’re okay Jen, but that’s a voice you might want to save for the shower!” Is today’s culture hopelessly, helplessly addicted to themselves, convinced they are worthy of Idol fame? And does Twitter give validation to this culture?

Big questions that I can’t answer, but rest assured you won’t see my kid trying out for American Idol. I am gentle. I let her down easy – ahhh the joys of parenting. I do let her know there are things she does well and but there are times when she should let the professionals, like Paris Hilton, do the heavy lifting. I am bummed she won’t be in the talent show, but seriously, does the world really need another mime?

Join me on Twitter – just keep in mind, it’s not the best forum for mimes!

Kids and Tech: Are we Googling our Way to a Stratified Society?

These are strange times. I listen to the news and worry about the price of gas, global warming and if my child will have a future. It’s almost surreal and yet I realize my parents and my grandparents also had things to worry about as they raised their children.

While my mind swirls with “big people” problems, I juxtapose these thoughts with the daily craziness that comes with raising an eight year old. I am not talking about homework, making sure the chickens are fed or the trials and tribulations of friendship. No, I am talking about the language the child is using!

In a world where technology changes as fast as the weather, my daughter can stop me in my tracks with the words she uses to manage her world – ripped from the headlines of the technology found around our house. Here’s just a sampling of what I am talking about:

“Mom, power off the car while I run in and pick up my jacket,” she said as she ran back to the classroom.

“Put it on pause just a second,” she said, asking me to stop talking for a moment while she ran to the bathroom.

“Let’s just delete those,” she muttered as we cleaned out old clothes from her dresser.

And of course, like any good household, the minute grandma forgets what she was going to say, my daughter suggests she just “Google it.” In fact, her answer to most things is to “Google it” and I hate to say it, but we do and it works!

I was a rhetoric major so I am comfortable with language and its evolution. But I wonder if we are heading into a Max Headroomfuture where we will have a stratified society with those that are part of the information/technology world and those who are merely observers. If you remember the show, the way the bosses controlled the masses was to give them a steady stream of television. Make it free, manage the information and make sure the constant drone pacified everyone.

I see these differences happening even in my daughter’s small world. In our house we consume information. She’s exposed to the latest technology and she quickly adapts to new devices and services. But most of her friends, who have limited to little access to information and technology often don’t understand some of her references. She readily admits she can’t explain what her mother does because they just wouldn’t get it.

Thankfully in third grade, these differences aren’t deal breakers. But as she gets older, I can see how the kids will start to self-select. The techie kids hanging out with the other techies. So I wonder, are we heading toward a truly stratified society? And more importantly, will it matter if the polar icecaps melt and California ends up under water? Can you see why my head is spinning? These are strange times.

Burger King, McDonalds: My Daughter Asks, “Why are fast food meal toys so stupid?”

Yep, that’s what she asks every time we order a kids meal at a fast food restaurant. She’s eight and has actually been asking this for a long time. Over the years, we have accumulated – like millions of household across America – tons of fast food toy crap. Little plastic things that really don’t do very much (except one truly awesome telescope that still works).

Now that Katie is older, she wonders why these companies would want to do so much to destroy the planet. She understands that these toys have no value – in fact they are worse than a long walk to the land fill. In most cases, they are so useless they are never touched again beyond the visit to the restaurant. (See our photos for examples.)

From Taco Bell: football in April. “Mom, these aren’t for girls!”

From Burger King: Squidward “High Low” toy. You actually need two of these to get the full stupid effect. You manually move the numbers of both toys to see who got “high” and who got “low.” Really.

Carl’s Jr: Bee Movie car. “Mom, that’s for babies.” Except babies can’t have them. No one under three years old can have them. So why give them away at all?

Since I am in marketing, I try to explain to her that toys have become something consumers expect in a kids meal and that they are often used to get children to demand a particular brand when choosing a fast food meal, “please mommy, we must go to McDonalds because they have Dunder Mifflin bobble heads!” sort of thing.

Katie simply doesn’t buy it. She says she’d actually makes her eating decisions based on the food served (or, let’s face it, where I take her) and she does like getting a present with her meal, but she’d prefer something that didn’t hurt the earth. So she offered me a few ideas. I think she’s on to something and with that, I challenge the fast food industry to think twice about what they are doing and try an little innovation.

Here’s Katie’s List of How to Make Meal Toys Better:

iTunes: even at eight, she loves iTunes. Since a song is 99 cents, we realize one song per meal would be too much, but if three visits to the same place equaled one tune, collecting iTunes credits would be worth it – and would make her want to go back to the same place.

Webkinz: she needs cash in Webkinz World. If she were to get a Webkinz collectible trading card (think about the exclusive potential here) it would give her added powers and points for her Webkinz account. With a decent partnership, it could get her access to new worlds or games.

Earth-Friendly Collectibles: she cares about animals – a lot. She’d love to get trading cards with information about different animals that she could share with kids at school or interact with on the web. Maybe for every card code she enters, money goes to saving the rain forest. From frogs to polar bears to lady bugs, she wants to learn about these things and save them from extinction.

Relationship Cards: she doesn’t really know what to call this but what she’s looking for is a way to get more information about the characters on shows she cares about (iCarly, Hannah Montana, etc.). Getting “inside scoop” is meaningful to her and gives her a social advantage with her friends. To keep it earth friendly, the “key” could again come on a card with an SMS text number or web code where a bevy of paperless information could be provided to her.

Sometimes I am amazed at her ideas.

I think they have merit, would be “green”, would meet the needs of most children and could be used to create interaction rather than landfill. All her ideas could last much longer than a stupid plastic toy and could actually create more of a relationship with her as a consumer not just with the fast food brand, but with the secondary brand (Hannah Montana, endangered animals, Webkinz, etc.) as well.

Katie and I would love know how you feel about the toys in your kids meal. We also want your ideas for premiums that don’t involve plastic or pollute the earth. Ideas? Thoughts? Let us know!