Painting with Scissors

The years after World War II were not kind to the artist Henri Matisse. The war had cost him his home, his marriage and in a particularly cruel twist of fate – a serious illness had robbed him of his ability to stand or paint. Immobile and unable to work, he became depressed and bedbound. To get out of this …

The Art of Persuasion

Most of the work I do with executive leaders and teams could be summed up in a single word: communication. How to get it right, and what to do when things occasionally go wrong. Whether you are selling a product, pitching an investor or negotiating a peace agreement in the Middle East – the goal is always the same: how …

Little Feat

Several readers of my monthly newsletter have asked in recent times, “Where the hell have you been?” If you haven’t seen me in a while, you may not know that I’ve given birth to a new venture: a baby boy named James, born in November 2014. He’s pretty cute if I say so myself, and has so drastically altered my …

Dolce Far Niente

Remember when leisure time was seen as a good thing? A healthy thing? It was a quaint old time when people closed up their shops or offices for a spell during the summer months while they went off to spend some quality time with loved ones, indulge in cherished pastimes or otherwise recharge their batteries in some meaningful way. One …

Double Down

In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, The Shawshank Redemption is cited as one of the most profitable movies of all time. A full twenty years after its release in 1994, it is still making heaps of money. With its universal themes of hope, friendship and perseverance, it is also one of the most beloved movies by critics …

The High Note

While scanning the radio in my car for a good song, I stumbled upon an interview with Paul McCartney. He was funny and engaging, so I stopped to listen for a while. He was asked about his voice, and if, at age 71, he could still sing all those old Beatles songs. His answer was honest and revealing. “Well,” he …

Go Easy

After a very long day at work, I stood in line at the counter waiting for my takeout pizza to bring home. Unconsciously, I was berating myself for all the things I had left undone: taxes still to be filed, an offsite meeting to be prepared, client emails to be returned and all the usual turmoil of an overtired brain. …

Sochi and You

As sporting events go, the Sochi Winter Olympics could rival anything else on television for sheer entertainment value. The pomp, the ceremony, the costumes, the drama, the tears – it’s Downton Abbey in Lycra. And I admit, I was glued to it. But look a little deeper, behind all the glitz and glamour, and what you will see are ordinary …

Pleased to Meet You

I recently met with an engineer who had asked me to coach him on improving his “people skills.” After being passed over for promotion at his firm several times, he thought he was missing something. A top graduate of one of the best schools in the country, he certainly had plenty of book smarts. But he felt his lack of …

Superabundance

As an executive recruiter in the early 90’s, I worked mainly on contingency. That is to say, I only got paid when I had successfully placed candidates in a job. Very quickly, I learned to develop a keen sense of who was a prospect and who wasn’t. The tendency for most recruiters is to focus only on those few “superstars” …