December 2, 2021

Do You Have A Few Childhood Hangovers? If So, Follow These 5 Steps To Move Forward

"Picture of Val Boyko"

Val Boyko of Mother

I want to thank Val Boyko of Mother Whisperers for this wonderful post on how some of our beliefs ingrained in us as children can actually hurt us later on in life…not just personally but professionally.  I have a few of these, so this is a great post for me to noodle on!

You don’t need therapy to appreciate that your childhood has impacted who you are today. What you may not appreciate is how some behaviors you learned as a child may be holding you back in your career!

In my work as an executive coach and now as a Mother Whisperer working with women,* I’ve found that our relationship with our parents – especially our mothers has a powerful long lasting affect on all our relationships as adults – including how we interact with others at work. I call these childhood hangovers. We may not even be aware of them at first, but they sure do give us – and often those around us – some headaches! For many of us, recognizing them for what they are, and shifting our thinking can become just the aspirin we need!

Childhood hangovers are usually hidden behind our professional image and we don’t like to admit to anyone – including ourselves!Here are some of the typical insecurities many people carry around:

  • It’s wrong to say what I really mean, express myself fully or speak up.
  • I believe that I am not good enough or deserve what I have.
  • It’s wrong to put my needs first before others.
  • I find it difficult to say no.
  • I believe that I can make others happy – and they will like me if I work hard enough to please them.
  • I tell myself not to trust others because they will let me down or abandon me.
  • I resent any feedback. I tend to take it personally and defend myself. I am not able to ask directly for what we want. I resent being told what to do by people in authority.
  • I avoid confronting others and tend to be the peacemaker.

If any of these resonate with you, please know that you are not alone. It isn’t just you. It’s pretty much everyone. When we pay attention to childhood hangovers we are moving towards being free to be our true selves and truly successful.

Here are my Top 5 Strategies to overcome Childhood Hangovers:

Become an observer of yourself. Notice times when you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable at work. Observe your self talk and behaviors when you feel anxious.

Experience what is going on in your body.

Don’t reject anything you are experiencing. Withhold judgment or self criticism. Find compassion instead for the child who needed this coping strategy to feel secure.Start off small with small action steps. For example if you want to speak up more, then commit to doing it in a place where you feel safe first – like the dry cleaners or supermarket. From there, take it to the next level.

Avoid putting all your energy into the past (Why am I doing this?). Focus on strategies that will move you forward into a future without those behaviors. (What can I do differently next time?).

Imagine the person you would like to be. Fix that image in your mind. Now act as if you were that person. Start acting and you will grow into becoming like that person.

About the Author

Val Boyko is a career and leadership coach and loves working with professionals who want to express their true selves and get ahead in their career. This work has led her to also look more into the relationships that we women have with our mothers – mine included! – and how it can impact our relationships in and out of work, and ultimately our success. To find out more about the daughter mother work I am exploring with fellow coach Marlene Durrell, please visit us a

What Leaders Really Do by Jeannette Paladino

Jeannette Paladino is a Business Communications Expert and the Author of

I want to thank guest blogger, Jeannette Paladino, for her thought provoking post about What Leaders Really Do. She hit the nail on the head!

I have my ideas about leadership, having worked for good and bad leaders. I’ll open with what I consider a leader’s primary duty – to communicate his or her vision for the company. Some experts would say this is the second step in being a leader; first comes the vision. But without communications across, up and down organizations, the leader’s vision will never be realized.

John Kotter is perhaps the most articulate and brilliant theorist on what makes for leadership in an organization.  He says it better than I can, so I’m going to reference his words of wisdom here.  Then, we’ll see how his theories apply to three leaders, or visionaries, of today — Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, and Reed Hastings, the chief executive and co-founder of Netflix.

Kotter, a retired professor of organizational behavior at Harvard, has written countless books and articles.  I still have an article that he wrote in the May/June 1990 issue of the Harvard Business Review entitled “What Leaders Really Do.”  I hadn’t read it in a while, but just did, and was blown away by how his vision of a leader could have been written yesterday, even though in 1990 most companies were just dipping their toes into email (my own agency had one computer that could send and receive emails and it usually didn’t work).

No Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no internal networks, hardly any electronic connectivity, in other words.  Yet leaders today face the same challenges as those back in ancient times (ca. 1990).

The Difference Between Management and Leadership

Kotter clearly delineated the difference between management and leadership, which are both crucial roles in the success of a company.  Let me cut to the chase with his definitions:

Leadership is about coping with change

Management is about coping with complexity

To quote from that article, “These different functions – coping with complexity and coping with change – shape the characteristic activities of management and leadership.  Each system of action involves deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of people and relationships that can accomplish an agenda, (my bold face) and then trying to ensure those people actually do the job.”  Isn’t that what social networking is all about today?  Forming networks and communities that share common interests and goals?

Kotter says that leaders seek relationships and linkages that help explain things.  Leaders need to be visionaries. Most discussions of vision have a tendency to generate into the mystical, “but people who articulate such visions aren’t magicians but broad-based strategic thinkers who are willing to take risks,” he says.

Visions With Mundane Qualities

Kotter makes the point that many visions and strategies are not brilliantly innovative.  Many are mundane, but “what’s crucial about a vision is not its originality but how well it serves the interests of important constituencies – customers, stockholders, employees – and how easily it can be translated into a realistic competitive strategy.”

So that explains why so many people think that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are geniuses.  They were visionaries who changed the world, when you think about it.  Zuckerberg took a simple idea:  college students wanting to bond with each other.  Getting together in the local hangout wasn’t enough.  They wanted a common meeting ground where they could interact 24/7.  Zuckerberg saw the possibilities and took the college circuit by storm.  He understood how to make the linkages to help people create networks of friends.  So in 2004, as a Harvard undergraduate, he launched Facebook in what amounted to a revolution in communication – it all comes back to communication – and his followers grew to be 500 million strong.

Steve Jobs capitalized on a simple idea.  Bring the Internet to your cell phone.  Not very imaginary.  The technology was already there but he had the vision to harness the pieces and figure out how to make it work.  He encouraged thousands of people to create iPhone apps that users can download that meet their particular needs. Now his competitors are rushing to catch up with smart phones of their own.

Transforming a Business With Snail Mail

Reed Hastings, the chief executive and co-founder of Netflix had a simple idea to offer a subscription service for customers to rent movies by mail.  Hardly an earth-shattering idea, but nobody else was doing it. As my former agency’s creative director used to say, “there are no big ideas, or small ideas, only powerful ideas.”  The service took off – remember Kotter saying not originality but serving consumer interests was key — and now Netflix has moved beyond snail mail to become the biggest source of streaming web traffic in North America during peak evening hours, according to an article in the New York Times “Netflix’s Move into the Web Stirs Rivalries.”

Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, was quoted in the article, “Netflix used an open-source network, the U.S. Postal Service, to launch an alternate distribution business without asking anyone for permission…now they are using another open-source network, the Internet, to transform the business.”

Here’s the thing – nothing has really changed in the definition of leadership in the past 20, or 30 or more years.  Ideas about how to make something bigger, stronger, better, faster so it serves your community is still the currency of leadership.

So, are you a leader or a manager?  Most people think it’s cooler to be known as a leader, but it’s the managers who turn the leader’s vision into a profitable product or service.

For an excerpt of the HBR article by John Kotter go this link What Leaders Really Do.

Author:   Jeannette Paladino

Jeannette Paladino is a business writer helping companies to be more profitable using social media as a strategic communications tool to engage with employees and customers, to educate, and sell their products and services.  Her blog Write Speak Sell offers her points of view on social media, employee engagement and branding.  She has held senior marketing and communications posts with major companies and public relations agencies.

Is it Unprofessional to Gossip at Work? Weigh In!

It’s Not “Unprofessional” to Gossip at work

gossip at work picture

Do You Gossip At Work? I Think We All Do!

Or Is It?

This is the eye grabbing title of a recent article in Harvard Business Review.

The article immediately grabbed my eye, because I have always felt that gossip at work is something that should never be tolerated, yet this article has opened me up a bit on the subject.

In life and in the world of leadership coaching, I have never  been a fan of a great deal of gossip at work (or in social circles), because I believe that:

  1. About 99% of the time, gossip is delivered by a third party.  I don’t really want to believe much that does not come straight out of the horse’s mouth.
  2. By the time I hear gossip, I wonder how much the story has been changed, watered down or embellished
  3. I always wonder about the source…gossip always seems to come to me from the same people, so it makes me wonder about their motives.
  4. I have seen gossip at work destroy families and businesses.

The recent HBR article suggests that managers and leaders often try to squelch gossip at work without addressing the deep rooted problem that is generating it…that gossip is a symptom of a much larger issue and by listening closely, a leader can work to resolve the big problem at the root.

I  know that everyone gossips…we all do in one way or another.  And…managers and leaders DO gossip.  My question today, is this:  Do you agree that workplace gossip can be professional if addressed head on?

Leave your comments below about the HBR Article about Gossip at Work below.

K Stands for Know it All

Do you know of someone in your life…maybe a partner, boss, spouse, student, employee or leader who exhibits the following:

1. They always seem to know every answer…

2. They never listen to others’ opinions…

3. They send you e-mails with all caps in certain sentences to let you know how right they really are…

4.  They want to argue or make you look foolish in front of a group, and as you look closer, you realize they are multi-tasking, answering text messages or just not paying attention…why should they have to pay attention?  They know it all…

Yes…the above description lays out in spades just 4 of the signs of someone who is what we call a “know it all”…which is actually a syndrome used to describe people who have a need to always look right, be right, make the teacher or boss look bad, and so forth.

We all have people like this in our lives.  I have had a few of these ” know it alls” in my training programs over the last few years.  In the early days of their “wisdom sharing”, I am all ears…I am excited to hear about what they know and how it may help add value to the other students in the program and to the quality of the program.  But, after complaining 10 times and sending me e-mails in all caps (because all caps are used in sentences when they really, really know something much more than I do), I start to tune these folks out, because over time, their credibility begins to wane, other students in my classes or team members in a company complain to me that they are irritating, dominating the class or bringing negative energy into the team or grouop.

So, if you have someone in your life who falls into this category, I have a few suggestions.

1.  Be patient. These folks obviously have an emotional need that is not being filled somewhere in their lives.

2.  Ask the person what they really want and need from always knowing it all and complaining about how you don’t know how to do things.  They may need a platform to share their expertise or an outlet where they can be called on for their wisdom.

3.  During a conversation, state your idea, and turn to the  person who thinks she knows it all, and say “What do you think about this?”  (They are more than likely going to disagree or argue with you…so, without caving in, simply see if there is anything in their answer that is valuable).

4.  Carve out your boundaries around this person and make those boundaries crystal clear. At the end of the day, it is not appropriate ever to give the know it all your full attention or constantly give them the stage.   State your boundaries on how much “know it all” information you will take and how many times you want to hear from each person.

5.  Speak to the person privately who is the know it all about their behavior. Someone who is dominating the conversation or who is the “know it all”  often comes back to bite you as the leader.  The other people in the room, in the classroom or on your team will perceive you as someone who does not know how to deal with difficult people.  Set up a time to speak privately to this person and say “You know…you offer so much value to our team, yet there are times when you speak up so often or complain so often that it seems to water down your great ideas.  I believe you could be so much more effective by speaking less and listening more and when you do speak, use a positive, collaborative discussion with the team.  They want to feel like they are being heard as well.”   I would use this approach and then observe the know it all for about 3 months.  If things don’t turn around, it is time to get some help (probably a coach or maybe even a therapist…I am not a therapist, but there may be something serious going on with someone who constantly has to criticize, be right and be in command of each discussion).

6.  When all else fails, seek outside help. It may be time to bring in a coach, consultant or even a therapist.  But…do not let a situation like this go without addressing it swiftly!

I heard a leader say recently something like this:  “You know…he thinks he knows it all, and he doesn’t.  He actually has less experience than the rest of the team, so it is very annoying to the experts on our team who do know the answer…he is truly making himself look foolish and he is hurting his credibility.”

Those words will stick with me forever…the best approach always is to come into each new experience with a beginner’s mind.  When it’s time to show your knowledge, use it wisely and it will land like a velvet glove!

A Company Divided: Bridging the Generation Gap at Work Through the Power of Communication

Business woman text messaging while waiting in line with colleagJeannette Paladino was kind enough to ask me to write this blog post today for Write Speak Sell.

The excerpt is below, and you can read the full post here.

At the end of the day, your company will either sink or swim based on how well you communicate.

I am sure you have heard this 1,000 times…”Great communication is necessary for great leadership” or “We must communicate better if we want to be successful” , womp, womp, womp.   The topic of communication has been beaten to death, so we have become numb to its importance.  We go about our day not returning phone calls to customers, sending out curt, hurtful e-mails, turning a deaf ear to our employees and just basically shutting people out or cutting them off at the knees.

In this day and age, I have a prediction…and I am not a futurist.  I believe that those companies who will succeed in the future will be those companies who learn to not only communicate better with their customers but who take the time to actually learn how to communicate across generational and cultural barriers.  I believe those companies and businesses who choose to ignore this important aspect of communication will perish.    In order to be successful with this process, you do have to take the time to learn about each generation in our workforce… their values, key motivating factors and how they best like to communicate so that you can begin to knock down the walls which are so strongly holding up the divide.

So, here is a run down of the six generations who are alive and well in our world and interacting with our businesses as consumers, investors and advocates.

Read the full post here..

How Judge Sonia Sotomayer Mastered the Broken Record by Jeannette Paladino

Jeannette Paladino had a great post this past week on how Judge Sotomayer has mastered the “broken record” technique during her questioning this past week by the Senate Judicial Committee.

Jeanette makes some great points that we can all learn from in this post, so check it out here.  I agree that Sotomayer has kept her cool and played the game that needed to be played this past week..