June 2007

Volume XIII Number  2 



Happiness Is ….

My good friend, Joe, is a philosopher from the Bronx.  He is one of the most optimistic people I know, and has taught me a great deal about life.  One of his favorite comments relates to happiness. He puts his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart and says “there’s this much happiness,” and then, holding both arms as far apart as he can, he adds “and there is this much Happiness.”


I was reminded of that comment when I received an email from an outplacement client who had started a job after leaving another position where he had been for four months.  Don wrote “while I was happy to have the X job, I feel like I’m in heaven in this new one.” Many people seem to put up with an inch of happiness because of the risk of not getting any. Perhaps it’s the fear of failure, or maybe, like the old Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?”  Finding out that what you wanted was not what you thought it was going to be is a feeling we have all had.  There is a big difference, though, between committing to a career and choosing an entrée for dinner.


A great example is Jon Corzine, who, in his own words, “is one of the luckiest people.” A Wall Street multi-millionaire, Corzine decided he wanted to be a US Senator.  Elected to the job, he found it much too tedious, without much power to actually effect change.  So, he took advantage of circumstances, and was elected to Governor in a state where the position has genuine leadership potential. In an interview after his accident, Corzine said he experiences great happiness every day because

he has a second chance to do something he loves.


Many people who seek career counseling are not enjoying their jobs and want to reposition themselves into something they perceive to be more fulfilling. Often, this is a completely new job, in another division or company, which has a different “feel” or culture. 


Brad was selling advertising space for a radio station. Five years out of college as a communications major, he was making “good money” by his own estimation, but felt bored and in a dead end job.  Through our assessment of his accomplishments, the need to communicate was clearly the driver for Brad.  He was able to target communications training companies and transition to a marketing position, which involves travel, which he likes, conducting seminars to help people communicate more effectively.  Brad reports the increase in job satisfaction has made him happier in all aspects of his life.


For me, happiness is derived from the opportunity to help others overcome the hurdles they face in reaching greater happiness.



Happiness….. Personal


Happiness, like career coaching, involves a certain level of planning.  We have two weddings coming close…. our son, Jeff’s, is August 5th and daughter, Elizabeth’s, is  October 7th.  This has made the planning aspect of happiness quite real.


Corporate Culture: Guess Who’s Coming to Visit

In my work with the Five O’Clock Club, I frequently go with Kate Wendleton, our President, to visit human resource executives.  We have corporate clients from the most prestigious Fortune 500 companies but also from small not-for-profits.


It is very often a learning experience for us, not only in terms of what issues are facing the manager and employer, but also what the cultural “feel” is like.  An interactive advertising agency was made-up of twenty-somethings and the reception area doubled as a lunchroom.   A major not-for-profit is housed in an east-side mansion where we met in a stained-glass formal library.  In contract, we met another not-for-profit in a rather decrepit former hotel in which  the human resource director apologized to us for having to unfold two metal chairs.


One major teaching hospital’s SVP’s offices are in an ambulatory care building with real patients waiting treatment; another is in an apartment building used for staff housing, and a third is in a very nice office building over twenty blocks from the hospital.  Each of those locations worked for the people, we met but each felt very different to us.


When I work directly with a client, it helps to understand both what the “feel” they are coming from and potentially going to.  I remember one client who transferred to London, showing me the picture of the manor house that was their European headquarters.  He called in a panic when he got there and was assigned an office in a turret, requiring climbing two flights of circular stairs.   The explanation was that he was going to be on the road 80% of the time.  He was ready to quit, when his new boss told him it was a tradition to

haze the new Americans and gave him a much less remote  work area.


Physical environment is clearly one component of corporate culture and its importance shouldn’t be under-estimated.


Books I’d Recommend

Feel the Fear.. And Do it Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., NY, Ballantine Books, A$15.95, 2007. 


One of my clients left this recently re-issued classic  for me to, as she put it, “spread the word.”  I am a skeptic when it comes to self help books, but there is a great deal of solid thinking here, and Jeffers writes well.


“Keep remembering that you are aiming to get to the point where you are the giver.  When you are aware of the fact that “you have”, you can give.  When you are a giver, you have nothing to fear.”


This is the kind of book I keep going to for a reminder of positive ideas and feelings at times when I feel stuck, or for ideas on how I can do my job better.  I think you might find it useful, too.



I actually have two related, but separate, practices.  As many of you know, I work collaboratively with The Five O’Clock Club doing career and business coaching and see career clients privately in my office. 


I am also a licensed clinical social worker and am board certified.  I accept most health insurance, but can only bill that way if there is a legitimate mental health diagnosis.


I would welcome any referrals.