EI for #MeToo


I have begun writing a book that I’d love some feedback on.

First, let me say that I in no way condone violence or criminal behavior and I am definitely not intending to blame the victims. That said, I think young women out in the workplace for the first time should learn to exercise some emotional intelligence to avoid becoming a #MeToo statistic. Or if not avoiding a bad situation, at least having some tools to deal with it.


Here’s an excerpt from my introduction:

But what about acts that are offensive, but not necessarily criminal. If you don’t want to rely on a human resources department that may or may not have your back, what alternative do you have?

Dr. Wayne Dyer defines a victim as someone who runs her life according to the dictates of others. He says you can rarely be victimized unless you allow it to happen. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own life.

I maintain that in order to be proactive, what you need is high EI or emotional intelligence. The good news is emotional intelligence can be learned.

Daniel Goleman popularized the term Emotional Intelligence in several books on this topic. Emotional intelligence can be divided into four basic categories: how well do you know yourself, how well can you manage your emotions, how well do you understand others, and how much influence can you exert over them.

Knowing yourself includes being able to understand your own personality and how you are perceived by others.

Controlling yourself involves problem solving and making decisions. It also means taking responsibility for your actions.

Understanding others means being able to interpret their words and actions and predict the outcome.

Influencing others involves getting them to do what you want. Or not do what you don’t want. Can you communicate so others will hear you? Can you resolve conflict?


Please email me and let me know what you think. 



Coaching with compassion



Dr. Richard Boyatzis is a big deal in organizational behavior circles. His official titles on his web page at Case Western Reserve University take up a full paragraph. He has written seven books and a slew of articles outlining his Intentional Change Theory. I first learned of his work through a MOOC entitled Conversations That Inspire: Coaching, Learning, Leadership, and Change.

Boyatzis projects great warmth, and his theory reflects his own personality. He  advocates fostering of what he calls positive emotional attractors. Simply put, this entails coaching with compassion instead of coaching for compliance. The leader, boss, or coach should not focus on the problem or try to fix the employee. They should help the employee envision an ideal future. Only through a shared vision is organizational change possible.

Negative emotional attractors have a longer shelf life in our memory. Boyatzis estimates it takes three positives to counteract one negative interaction. Negative emotions, of course, mean stress. Chronic stress increases cortisol which turns off the immune system and inhibits growth of new tissue in the body. Chronic stress constricts peripheral vision literally and figuratively. We’re not interested in seeing new ideas or new people. That inhibits change from occurring.

My problem with Boyatzis and the authors of best-selling leadership books in general is that in my long and exceedingly checkered work life, I have encountered maybe one or two bosses who through education or instinct seemed to practice this approach.

Is it me? Am I just a malcontent, or have I had incredible bad luck in bosses? I would love to hear from anyone who has worked for one of these supportive leaders.



Function over form


Instead of beating yourself up every year when you fail, yet again, to achieve your resolution to lose weight, why not learn to appreciate the body you have? What a concept.

Researchers at Florida State University have put together a program that helps participants feel better about themselves. Professor Pamela Keel has studied body image throughout her career. She notes that the ideal body type as portrayed in the media is unattainable for almost everybody. Although the resulting dissatisfaction with their bodies is particularly prevalent among young women, it affects an awful lot of people. After all, the majority of Americans are overweight.

So what do you do to counter the bad feelings? Take a deep breath and stand in front of a mirror with few or no clothes on. But instead of berating yourself, think about the function of your body parts. In other words, don’t focus on how fat you think your legs are. Instead, think about how they get you everywhere you want to go. Doing this draws on the idea of cognitive dissonance.  Positive statements that conflict with the negative thoughts you’ve had about your body eventually turn those thoughts around.

And once you start thinking more positively about yourself, you begin to take better care of yourself, and that may actually lead to the weight loss you wanted all along.



Eat more amino acids to lose weight



If you, like me and millions of others, are overweight, a new study offers a possible solution.

Researchers at the University of Warwick found that tanycytes, cells in the part of the brain that controls energy, detect nutrients in food such as  amino acids. Two amino acids, arginine and lysine, react the most with these tanycytes and thus make you feel more full. Large concentrations of arginine and lysine are found in pork shoulder beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils, and almonds.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to add more of these foods to my diet ASAP.

Grow where you’re planted



I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?






Another kind of segregation



I have recently made my first foray into the world of fiction. My contemporary romantic novella The Lady Is a Mayor is set in a highly fictionalized version of the place where I actually live. The story involves a disagreement between townspeople who are in favor of economic growth and those who are determined to protect the environment. My book is a comedy, so it ends with the standard happily ever after. In real life, this isn’t often the case.

William Chopik, a psychology prof at Michigan State University, has published a study that indicates living among those whose viewpoint you don’t share can affect your personality. If you are on the Trump train and all your neighbors are Hillary supporters, you may distrust them so much that you withdraw from relationships.

Chopik says his findings could explain why many Americans seem to be consolidating into heavily red or blue geographic areas. This may also explain political gridlock. If you never communicate with anyone different, you don’t learn how to compromise.

Racial segregation is technically a thing of the past, but its implications are far from gone. Maybe we also need to take a look at political segregation.



Delayed gratification=weight loss



I just read yet another study with fairly self-evident results. This one is from McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare of Hamilton. They found that folks with ADHD and folks who are obese share an inability to delay gratification. This apparently is true of those with any addictive behavior.

Really? Do you mean to tell me I am fat because I can’t turn down a cookie? Duh.

The researchers say that clinical approaches to weight loss should focus more on the long term benefits. I think we all know perfectly well the long term benefits already. But that doesn’t stop us.

I’m thinking this is also a function of will power’s being a finite capacity. For example, I managed to get through grad school with little difficulty but gained 20 pounds in the process if I recall correctly. Should I have focused on denying myself the extra calories and blown off my studies?

Does it have to be an either-or situation?




Exercise with a buddy


Many years ago. I bought a Pilates machine from QVC. I used it religiously when it was new. Then, as these things go, I got out of the habit. The machine languished on a screened in porch here in Florida and the rollers deteriorated.

Well, I got re-motivated so I ordered new rollers. My husband and I managed to remove the crumbling old ones and attach the new ones, all without causing each other any bodily harm, a feat of which we are both proud.

After copious applications of WD40, the machine is working pretty well. Now, I am again exercising under the observation of a gecko. Poor creature can’t quite figure what is going on. He wouldn’t be my first choice as an exercise buddy. He is not nearly as much fun as the one in the commercials. No witty repartee.

Do you have an exercise buddy?








Self-awareness is such a rare commodity.

I like to think that I am just a little out of shape. This morning, I decided to take a spin on my bike and soon learned how badly I have been fooling myself.

Mind you, I have the old-fashioned kind of bike. No gears or hand brakes for me. Still, I live in Florida, so my route is flat. Piece of cake, right?

First I had to pump up the tires since it has been so long since I rode it. Then I set out wobbling down the block, pedaling slowly.

I lasted about ten minutes before I had to head for home. My legs were all but shaking. Yikes!

Now, according to Web MD, short bouts of exercise, like. for example, ten minutes here and there, are effective. Let’s hope so.



The Productivity Book virtual tour


The Productivity Book

by Michael Brecht

GENRE: Non-fiction/time management

About the book:

Ever wondered what the secret is to productivity? Here’s a hint: there isn’t just one. Introducing the Doodle Productivity Book! Containing in-depth interviews with 30 of the world’s top productivity & time management experts, this book lifts the lid on the industry’s best kept tips and tricks. The result? An engaging and practical guide that will help you find your natural pace, so you can work smarter—not harder.



 Michael Brecht will be awarding 5 Doodle Premium Accounts for Free to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.




Since the questions we asked opened a window into a day in the life of a productivity expert, we wanted our final conclusion to reflect this. So, here’s our summary of what a productive day should look like.

The perfect day starts the night before. Outline your goals. Whether this is a simple to-do list or time blocking, make sure tomorrow’s objectives are clear. Then sleep on it.

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Know what works for you and structure your schedule around that. Nearly all of our experts cited adequate rest as essential to maintaining productivity.

Wake up bright and early. Leave enough time to spend at least an hour and a half preparing for the day. Whether it’s reading, yoga, Pilates, running or simply thinking. Follow this with a healthy breakfast and you’re good to go.

Get to work. Now that you’ve prepared mentally, it’s time to take on the day. This period is when you’re at your most productive, so use it wisely. Let the calls go to voicemail, put your cellphone on silent and don’t answer emails. Emails are rarely worth your most energized and motivated moments. Unless it’s a creative meeting, don’t take it.

If you need time constraints, use a timer! Or the Pomodoro Technique.

Once you’re into the afternoon, time block to focus on admin and less important tasks like responding to emails and taking meetings. This will stop you from getting distracted and help you to focus on one thing at a time.

Because your brain is slower, this is the best part of the day to incorporate technology. So, start up your favorite tried and tested apps and use them to help you take notes, see your reminders, book appointments and whatever else is important. And remember, saying “no” can be more productive than “yes”.

By this point, you should have had a highly productive day. So, use the evening to relax with friends or family. But remember: A little planning the night before can go a long way toward having a successful, fulfilling tomorrow.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I am a serial entrepreneur, have more than twenty years of experience in IT and Digital Media and have held several international leadership positions in Europe and AustralAsia.

Since the beginning of 2014 I am CEO of Doodle – the world’s favourite online scheduling tool. Together with my fantastic team we have integrated Doodle into the Digital Portfolio of Tamedia AG, Switzerland’s largest media company. Our focus is to grow the business into a global application while strengthening its product offerings and continuing its successful monetisation. Doodle AG is a highly profitable business with offices in Zurich and Berlin.

My experience ranges from founding a start-up to various exits to multi-national corporates and subsequent integration. I enjoy topics of digital transformation and the leadership of highly innovative teams with a particular focus on growing a business internationally.

Now that digitalisation is increasingly becoming a topic for all businesses from start-up to large corporate, I have decided to start my own blog. Here you’ll find information on productivity topics, quotes about personal and professional efficiency, my reviews of awesome apps I use myself and I am trying to present a few stories that aren’t meant to be too serious too.

In my private life I am married and our home comprises of four children and our dog (an Australian Labradoodle). We are currently living in five different countries and I myself carry a German and an Australian passport. I enjoy sports, in particular football, swimming, tennis and all kinds of outdoor activities and I am passionate about the discovery of great wines.







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