How To Feel Less Defensive

“Have you ever been incarcerated?” When I was mentoring at Defy Ventures, an organization that trains formerly incarcerated individuals for employment and entrepreneurship, I learned that that was the question participants dreaded most in a job interview (and understandably so, since it often meant the end of the interview). Though, for most of us, the question we dread being asked may not be as damning, we all have one that puts a pit in our stomach: What’s your market traction? […]

The Pain of Feeling Left Out

I’m living in Paris for the next few months and psyched to have found a Crossfit-style bootcamp so I can keep up with my training. The group is all French, and they have been friendly and welcoming, including me in the customary bise — greeting each other with a kiss on each cheek — each time we meet. Still, they’ve known each other for awhile and my French is not yet up to speed, so the private jokes and slangy […]

Are You Afraid To Go All Out?

In one of the more heart-wrenching stories from the Rio Olympics, US cyclist Mara Abbott was one of two leading the pack in the women’s cycling race as they climbed the steep 19% incline. Racing down the descent, the other cyclist crashed and Mara was alone in the lead — until, 200 meters from the finish line (and a gold medal), she was passed by a trio surging up from behind, and came in fourth place instead. Afterwards Mara said, “I was proud of the way […]

What A Flight Attendant Can Teach Us About Creating Certainty in An Uncertain World

Recently, on a cross-country flight from New York to California, the flight attendant announced: “We’re heading into a thunderstorm so the seatbelt sign will be on for the next 45 minutes. Feel free to get up and use the bathroom if necessary but keep in mind that we will remind you to return to your seats as quickly as possible.” As a student of neuroscience, I was impressed by the attendant’s understanding of the fight-or-flight threat response. Because typically, what […]

Are You Leveraging the Power of Curiosity?

My dad likes to tell this story from my childhood: I was three years old, we were eating dinner and my mom chastised me for chewing with my mouth open, saying “That’s how pigs eat.” My immediate response: “Do cows do it too?” Apparently, I’ve always been curious about behavior, bovine and otherwise.  Over the years, living in Japan and Europe and working in diverse company cultures, I’ve developed an endless fascination with understanding why humans behave the way they do […]

How To Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The Navy SEALs have a saying: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Sounds like an oxymoron but, of course, if we want to grow, we need to get used to being outside our comfort zone. The thing is, our modern lives are all about ease and instant gratification. We don’t like the discomfort of a slow Internet connection, much less voluntarily exposing ourselves to potential rejection or failure. But that’s not where the magic – the growth, the learning – happens. So […]

No Rules!


A few weeks ago, on a rainy day, I came out of the subway turnstile at 72nd Street. I was following a guy out one of the doors when he stopped suddenly, right there in the doorway — because of the rain, I guess. I gave him what I thought was a gentle “keep it moving” tap on the shoulder and he turned around angrily and said, “Don’t touch me.” Annoyed, I said, “Well, don’t block the doorway.” And then […]

How To Outsmart Your Fight-Or-Flight Reaction

A few months ago, around the holiday season, a friend and I walked into a wine bar on the Upper West Side. (Sounds like a bad joke.) Sitting there at the bar, with a Britney Spears song blaring on the loudspeakers, struggling to read the menu in the dim light and pressured by the overly attentive bartender coming over every 90 seconds to see if we were ready to order, I felt a wave of panic and an overwhelming urge to leave. Fortunately, I […]

Crush It At the Holiday Party: Six Ways to Network Like A Navy SEAL

Ah, the holiday season. In addition to the usual networking events and industry conferences, there’s the year-end cocktails and company parties chockful of opportunities to socialize, re-connect and talk shop. Most people will take a casual approach and flit through the season’s festivities, chugging eggnog and scarfing down hors d’oeuvres. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to capitalize on this goldmine of opportunity to connect and bond with the people who could be important catalysts for your […]

‘Tis The Season to be Emotional, Part II: What To Do When Things Get Tense

A few days ago, I gave you the first part of a step-by-step training plan that lays out exactly what and how to practice managing your emotions. Now that you know how to prepare, what do you do in the heat of the moment when your emotions flare up? IN THE MOMENT 1.Recognize the signs of the “fight-or-flight” response. Heart pounding, stomach turning, palms sweating: these are signs that the part of your brain that is on the lookout for […]