September 2004

Volume X Number 3

G&S Moves


About a month ago, we relocated our Manhattan offices to Suite 501, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, 10017.  The building is on the corner of Vanderbilt and 45th, directly across from the Met Life Tower, adjacent to Grand  Central Station.  Our phone number and my email address will remain the same, as shown above.


This is an exciting new space in a landmark building, a more convenient location, and will afford us a warm and welcoming space to meet with clients and provide for their needs.  We have upgraded our telephone and computer systems, which has produced, of course, some glitches, but these are almost all over.  We are pleased that it is a more secure building – and has direct underground access to Grand Central, which will be an added benefit for those of us commuting through there. We welcome you to come visit.


My Summer Vacation,  or You Never Know Who You Sit next to at Dinner


My wife, Caren, and I decided, at the last minute, to take the week of the RNC as our vacation, and thanks to the good people of Delta SkyMiles, we flew to Brussels, returning after Labor Day from Paris.  It was our first visit to Belgium, and, while I could share the highlights of the art or the food, the most memorable—and unexpected—event was having dinner two nights in a row, seated next to Leonardo diCaprio, Gisele Bundchen, and Leonardo’s 89 year-old grandmother, Elena.


The first night, we were the only Americans, in a half empty restaurant.  The second was a fancier—and packed with locals—place.  Leonardo had a digital camera and we traded cameras to take pictures and —good New Yorkers that we are—we never alluded to their celebrity status.


Leonardo’s grandmother was asking the kind of questions grandmothers get to ask: “You’ve been going out for almost five years, where is this going?”  I suppose, had we listened more, we could have come up with a good story for a tabloid, but I was more impressed by a number of things I observed that relate to career coaching.


First, Leonardo is not afraid to learn or to expose his lack of knowledge.  He was able to correctly tell Gisele, a Brazilian, the US Presidents, in order, since he was born and the years they had served. He asked the headwaiter to explain the menu, even though his first question was, “Do you have Belgian waffles?” The second night, he was much more informed in his questions.  Many clients approach the job search process with such trepidation and fear of embarrassment that they don’t ask good questions. 


Second, energy and enthusiasm can help you win people.  Anything Leonardo ate he complimented, and his smile never failed.  (Nor did his appetite; both he and Gisele, who is the  Victoria Secret model and on  the cover of this month’s Esquire, ate like the twenty-somethings they are.)  Particularly in the busy Michelin-starred restaurant, the result was clearly positive.  He was invited to sign the wall in the kitchen, which he immediately did, shaking hands with all the cooks and dishwashers, thanking them for dinner.


Clients often are wary of saying the job would be an ideal fit, for fear they will appear too obsequious; or they are frightened of saying  “I really want this job,” because it’s too risky.


Finally, Gisele asked what I do for a living.  When I told her, she said they lived in the West Village and had friends who could use my help. “Do you have a card?”  And no, dear reader, I hadn’t brought cards! She was sweet enough to suggest I contact her on her website, but the moral of the story is “Be Prepared,” because you never know when networking can actually lead to something.


In today’s Sunday New York Times, in an article on paparazzi, Leonardo was mentioned as one of the “paranoid” show-business types. From our perspective, that’s not true, and I hope I can get Gisele’s recipe for chocolate-chip cookies made with hazelnuts and real Belgian chocolate!


A Parable from Louis, the Organic Farmer 


I shop Saturday mornings at the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh fruits and vegetables we will have for dinner on the weekend.  After buying carrots from a bearded, somewhat forbidding farmer, I was surprised when he slipped a newsletter in with the produce.  It contained this Story of Ugh, which we have edited for you. It has a message that is perhaps especially important in these busy times…..


A year ago, a ram was born in my flock. Ugh was truly ugly—a short little lamb, demon horns curling crookedly, square eyes peering out from a face of dirty wool, a runt as rams go weighing a third of what he should. He was loved by those who saw him but nonetheless a problem—not breeding stock, but too small to slaughter, love or no love.


Ugh’s mother had deserted him soon after birth; this can mean a health problem in the lamb, something the dam knows that you do not.


One day I was busy picking vegetables for market when I didn’t really have time to bottle-feed Ugh. I decided to listen to his mother and let nature take its course, so when the flock went up over the hill, I sent Ugh bumbling along, thinking that he would fall, the vultures would get him, and that would be the last I saw of him.


But the next morning, surprisingly, there he was with the others. Oh, well, the flock would go back over the hill again today and that would be that, for sure this time. But, no, the next morning, there he was, tough little guy, 3 days without milk and still going. I give in and mixed up some milk replacer, which he eagerly drank. A lamb on milk replacer is a money loser; I would get no return from this one. Sentimental that I am, I continue to feed him. This is a mistake…why am I doing this?


My intern Einat loves Ugh. He bobs over looking awry and charms her. “Ugh,” I say scowling, “I want you to gain 30 pounds so I can get you to the slaughterhouse!” “No, no,” Einat protests, “You can’t kill Ugh.” Oh, yes, give him more oats and get him fat. But he doesn’t grow, he just gets uglier.


One day Einat and I gather wild mint down near the pond. I tell her of a Native American foraging tradition: to keep this mint community and ourselves in good health, we must never pick the scrawniest, droopiest mint stalk because that’s the good luck charm of the mint, the protector, the healer…. Einat interrupts my story: “You mean, like Ugh.” I almost fell over into the water. Ugh, I knew there was a reason, I just didn’t know why!


Books  I’d Recommend


The Power of Full Engagement  by  Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz, New York, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2003, $26.00.


A reader of my newsletter suggested this bestseller on managing your life to the greatest level of effective-ness. Much of the program comes from years of work with such athletes as Monica Seles and Ernie Els.


Loehr and Schwarz’ approach is to manage energy, not time.  They point out the need to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.  They encourage the creation of highly specific, positive energy management rituals—something akin to Covey’s Seven Habits, but a bit more concrete. 

The writing is clear and lacks the “leap of faith” so many self-improvement books require.  The authors’ examples of how we lose control of our energy expenditures and how many corporate executives become preoccupied with the near term echoed  many of the coaching situations we see at G&S.   


The ultimate test of any self-help book (or perhaps any book) is whether it gives the reader new ideas or insights into his or her own life.    For me, this book accomplishes that test.