How to Do the Ridiculous

I couldn’t wait to start coaching! It was 15 years ago, and after a bewildering two years of trying to figure out how to support myself and my three children, I heard the words “corporate coach,” and I knew that was it! I didn’t know exactly what coaching was and had never been in a corporation (or even worked in an office) but I had made everyone I had come into contact with rich (except me!), and it seemed I would now have an occupation that would allow me to benefit financially from my gift.

It was two years since I had become a single mother to my home schooled children, the oldest being 11, and I had a continual flow of thin envelopes in my mailbox communicating in complex terms that I had late fees, overdraft charges and utility cutoff dates. I was teaching art with my children (I told the school and camp directors they were my “cleanup helpers” and they taught alongside me) and showing my paintings, but having decided I did not want to sell my artwork (I loved my paintings!), I knew I had to find another “revenue stream.”

That was a new word in my vocabulary. I learned it at my first networking event, when some sort of financial professional used that phrase and also “passive income streams.” I imagined gold flowing freely into my house (a good idea!). I apologetically told him I had no idea what he was referring to, but since it did sound promising, I told him to give me a call. Next day the phone rings. “Lisa Yakobi?  I’d like to continue our conversation.” I’m interested.  After fifteen minutes of him going on in the same vein as before I said I was sorry and told him I still didn’t have the slightest idea what he was talking about (or what he wanted from me), at which point he hung up abruptly. I thought that was rather rude and added “revenue stream” to my vocabulary list of words to investigate…and as something to acquire!

Well, after hearing about corporate coaching, it seemed I found my magic key to riches (which meant at that time paying my array of bills, mortgages and loans). I began by signing up for coach training on the phone (now I did “school at home” too!) and learning from students and teachers all over the world how to “empower” others.

I went about “empowering” everyone I met, at no charge (as was my habit anyway), but now I engaged them in more lengthy conversations about their “challenges.”

I soon discovered that absolutely no one wanted coaching (even at my price: which was zero per hour)! Ten years ago, no one knew what coaching was (or even wanted to know). Unfortunately, I couldn’t describe it. When I said I was a coach, people asked me, “What sport?” I always responded with curiosity, “What sport do you think?” and they all answered, after a pause, “Lacrosse?” I have a vague memory of playing an inane game with sticks in high school, with my very athletically inept schoolmates (sports weren’t cool in the Hippie days). To this day, I have never seen a Lacrosse coach (but if any of you wonder what I look like, that might be a helpful description!).

I had to practice my “coaching skills” and being newly single, my first prospects were any man who asked for my phone number. I gave it out liberally, and when my men called, I kept them on the phone for hours, with my coaching question list in front of me, asking them about their early “passions,” “limiting beliefs” and the like. If they endured this drilling and still wanted a date, I would meet them for coffee and reveal my true intentions (of converting them to coaching clients). Needless to say, I did not convert one “prospect” nor get second dates.

Six months went by in this way, with my adding to my “free coaching for men” several meetings that I organized of the few coaches that lived on Long Island and offering every single coach an opportunity to barter coach with me. I even mentor coached a few with my very limited abilities! One of my coaching barter “mentees” I liked so much I asked her to be my business partner. So far I hadn’t earned a penny through coaching, but neither had she, so we were in business! I had started facilitating classes for $5 an hour at the local Women’s Center where I snuck coaching into their program (we were only supposed to “share” without comment or “judgment”) and invited her to co-lead one of my groups. I even split my pay with her!

She advised her daughter to coach with me…and I had my first real “client!” Wow! I started her at $200 a month for 4 one-hour coaching sessions that took place in my master bedroom! My home schooled kids did what was called unschooling, which resulted in a great deal of noise, mess and running about the house, but my bedroom had a lock on the door and was relatively quiet. My client went from what she believed was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to a new job, a boyfriend, a volley ball league, art classes and a townhouse condo! She now seemed way happier than me! Although that was somewhat disturbing (and a trend that continued), I went on to have a full practice of coaching clients (all female) that coached in my bedroom! By the time I found a man to coach, it was spring and we coached at the picnic table in my backyard. In the summer, after many mosquito-bitten clients, I tamed my children and had clients sitting indoors at my dining room table.

It took many years for me to stop the threatening mailbox flow and become a corporate coach in reality, not just in fantasy. I had always been accused of being on “cloud nine” (where were clouds 1-8…and beyond?). I supposed that meant I lived in a fantasy. Well, it was my fantasy that drove me. It was my fantasy that made me believe people would pay me $200 to coach in my bedroom. And it was my fantasy that brought me my “revenue stream” after all.

How do you do the ridiculous?

Get on cloud nine and keep going!

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Are you sick and tired of the pink poodles in the office?

pink poodle lisa yakobiDo you lay in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about the people at your workplace who seem to get by (very well) either by doing absolutely nothing or (worse yet) by preventing everybody else from getting anything done?

There is a solution. (No, not drugs.) You just need to do a little creative visualization.

Imagine you are a housekeeper in an exquisite and wonderful twenty-one room home. The owner is an eccentric old woman who adores her twenty-one pink poodles, and each one has its own room. The dogs chew the furniture, shed, mess up the bed, beg for attention and treats, romp, bark and generally keep you from getting or keeping any of the rooms clean.

Now, basically the poodles are harmless, though somewhat spoiled. And despite your best efforts, you cannot train or restrain them or get their poodles’ happy owner to give them up or relocate them. Continue reading

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I got married by mistake!

By mistake? Oh, well maybe everyone does that.
But mine was a grammatical error.

Let me explain.

It is 1988. I am teaching English 1A to adults pretending to study English. They are actually in my class to obtain and maintain their student visas. The men succeed in not learning better than the women. So, in the interest of justice and fun (and being a former feminist), I don’t discriminate; I give all the men Ds. They consider their grades a joke. And among my underachieving students is my husband to-be. He asks me before, during and after class for the whole semester and succeeds (even without the benefit of eloquent English) not just in achieving a date with me but on winning my hand on our very first date!

Three months later we are on what can only be called a honeymoon by a great stretch of the imagination. We are in his country and all of the inhabitants are his relations. We are waiting for his visa so he can return to the US. We are a week into this experience when his sister in law (the only one among the throng who speaks English) asks me with undisguised wonder how we got married. I proudly relate the romantic story of my husband’s proposal on our first date.

Continue reading

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Numbers Made My Head Hurt

Once a month my husband got really grouchy. He had BPS (Bill Paying Syndrome). He would sit at the dining room table with bills and envelopes spread all around and call out to me in a voice tinged with suspicion, asking things like “What did you charge on July 16th for 1,475 dollars?” to which I would say “How would I know?” Then I’d get busy at the other end of our apartment, meeting the needs of our children until the bill paying time was finished.

One day, I decided I had enough of this type of hostile interrogation and told him bill paying was his department and never to ask me another question about a bill again. I was homeschooling our three children, math gave me a headache, and I had no time to waste on stuff that didn’t concern me. Money was not my department. Victory! That was the last of his annoying behavior. Continue reading

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The Magic Question that Works Every Time

How to Find Your Core Message and Turn a Simple Story into a Spellbinding Speech!

“I need a life balance coach.” I said in jest (or so I thought) as I introduced myself on a tele-seminar I was delivering to around fifty coaches on  how to craft a keynote speech. A moment later a voice called out  “That’s me! I’m a life balance coach.” Just one voice …out of fifty people who are trained in life balance. Why did she speak up?

I found out. Continue reading

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How to Get More Customers than You Want

When I was young, I just hated having to do the girl thing. I imagined how I would act if I were a boy. I’d spot a girl, tell her she was beautiful, ask for her phone number, pick her up and kiss her right away. But it was the 60’s and Mom said a girl had to “play hard to get”. I hated the delays involved in this methodology although I practiced it with strict discipline. I found it effective and efficient and left a trail of tormented males wherever I went. When I became acquainted with the law of karma in the 1970’s, it did give me pause, but I was determined to win in the battle of the sexes and deal with universal forces later. Continue reading

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How to be a Speaker with No Speeches

Be careful what you wish for!

When I decided to become a professional speaker my plan was to fly around the country and speak about…I didn’t know…. whatever was on my mind! I told my coach about my new goal and he said “That’s a fairy tale. Lisa, when are you going to get real?” And I thought coaches were supposed to be unconditionally supportive… guess not! In his defense, he didn’t know me very well… First off, I just can’t bear being told I can’t do something. In fact, once I’m told I can’t, I must (think of the implications)! Next fairytales not being true…. he had just challenged my “paradigm” (new biz word) and I wasn’t going for a shift. Continue reading

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The Power of Negative Thinking!

I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life (the second half, that is)… I would be a speaker! I had heard a cassette of a motivational speaker and thought “I could do that!”. It was 10 years ago and I had a cardboard box of tapes that had once belonged to my Dad that my brother described as “Dad’s legacy’ when my father passes on. They were dirty and came from boxed sets minus boxes and many cassettes but it was cool stuff. I listened to a metaphysical speaker (previously a English businessman) share ancient Chinese prosperity secrets, a southern grandpa who learned to be successful selling cookware, tips on how to be a multi-millionaire from the 1930’s and then came the best: Les Brown. Why, he was just telling stories! That was easy. I had the sudden realization… I would join the ranks of the speaking superstars!

Hmm… how to get started? Continue reading

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Plan to fail!

How do you achieve success? You plan to fail! When I began my coaching career my fall back plan (the plan that just had to work) if I did not succeed in becoming a coach (or anything else) was to write a three volume tome- something the size of the bible…but considerably longer.

It was to be a chronicle of all my sorrows in the event that they did not turn to joys. (I used to sing that spiritual “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” to keep my spirits up!) And as I went from disappointment to despair I filled the imaginary book with imaginary heart wrenching prose. Continue reading

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How to Be Irresistibly Attractive… to Everyone!

What’s the one thing you need to know about selling, networking and… dating?

Let’s start with dating. When a man wants a woman to go out with him what does he do? He flatters her (telling her he likes her smile or that she’s the prettiest woman in the room). He asks her a question about herself and listens attentively as she talks about herself, looking into her eyes (he shows he is interested in her). He says something personal and funny and entertains her (the shortest line between two people is a laugh). He tells her something about the good things he has that she might benefit from (he dangles a carrot like his condo on the beach).He tells her a story (he let’s her know a little bit about who he is or what he thinks in a way that’s dramatic). He offers to take her somewhere she wants to go (he picked up on it in the conversation-he was looking for an ‘in’). He asks for her phone number (he’s lettings her know he would enjoy her company in the future). And he calls her …quickly! (He wants her to know he’s excited about her). Continue reading

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