Fuck the Status Quo - It's Draining You

It’s all in your head

It’s actually all in your hands

Whatever you direct energy towards, grows

You know that person who annoys the sht out of you at work? Or that feeling like you’re getting a bad deal? It’s all how you see it. You expected one thing, but something else is happening and it feels awful.

Here’s a fix:

1. Acknowledge the emotion your feeling: anger, frustration, resentment, paralysis

2. Make a plan to get a different outcome which takes care of your wants and needs.

Status quo is no longer acceptable. It’s draining you. You’ll either find a way to make this work, or you’ll find another option that works for you. It’s all in your hands to take action. And if you want, I’ll help you out

Don't Give Your Clients Food Poisoning


"Steve Schwarzman has said this is like the restaurant business...  If you continue to serve good food, your customers come back and new customers show up"

Back when I was a fins guy at Moore, I remember Steve clearly saying this and adding "never poison a customer - one case of food poisoning, and your franchise is done."

When I worked as a bus boy for Gramercy Tavern as a 20 year old, I discovered the need to sense the mood of each customer and deliver a consistent product. Client service is about helping people with what they need. It's not about you! How can you serve better grub and provide a better customer experience?

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Escape the Illusion of "Pressure"

Golf is easy How do you see it?

My buddy Rich Fang and I played golf yesterday afternoon. It was my first round in 4 years!

I used to get frustrated, pissed and annoyed at errors.


One bad stroke crumbled my enjoyment for the round and shifted my mental energy to Coors soda consumption. I’ve spent the last four years studying my own emotions, reactivity and thoughts. I’ve coached 100 amazing high achieving clients and helped them study themselves.

The ILLUSION OF PRESSURE is a malignant fun sponge. Pressure implies something could explode - a catastrophic consequence.

You’re already living on a beautiful golf course, playing each day as you choose. If you’d like it to feel more free and easy, let’s talk. It’s in your hands to choose how you want to see it. Oh and I shot a 50 on the front and a 43 on the back - with a bit of practice and intention, I will begin to see this old exercise in torment with excitement and joy.


Try Shit, There Is No Such Thing As "Failure"

Why risk failing at something new, when you can just keep what feels comfortable and routine?

It’s time to A/B test your life.

It’s only through trying stuff that you discover something new and enjoyable. Trying a new restaurant is one thing, however trying a new job or career carries great risks - what if you have to go back to your old job? - what if you try something and realize you want to try something else... what will everyone say?

Many of my clients are ultra high achievers who are also perfectionists. It keeps them trapped for years in jobs that don’t really light them up. By reframing the perceived risk of the failed outcome of an A/B test as optimization, we can see the incredible risk of sticking with the status quo.

The peanut gallery (your parents, college friends, colleagues) will be there to criticize your moves that don’t work, but it’s your life. One life ‘mon!

What routine thinking are you stuck in? Try sht! Where’s an area you can try something new? Thanks to Schlomo Benartzi for inspiring this coaching take on his A/B concept.

One experience leads you to the next - it's rarely the first thing you try that works -- it's iteration 2 or 3 that leads you to something you never even knew existed.

You're a kind, creative person...

You’re a kind, creative person

I can see it in you, even if you don’t see it right now

Years of schools like Harvard, endless competition and achievement can make you pretty hard. And self- sacrifice can lead you to lack empathy for those who don’t cut it

While this mindset is totally understandable, it’s draining and dividing. It smells - emanating from you like too much Hugo Boss



I help humans like you scrape away the calluses that have hardened over that gentle person inside you. It’s never too late

If you wake up each day feeling like a General who’s tasked with crushing and disciplining the incompetent people you work with, let’s have a talk I’ll show you who’s beneath that hardened exterior, and help you flow through each day with greater ease and elegance

Explore Your Options for Stress Relief

Convinced you have to make this job work else? Constantly replaying what you could have done better?

The Solution: Explore your options for stress relief

This makes no sense on the surface: if you've had a few hiccups, you should keep your head down and grind. You should solicit feedback and pray you can correct your mistakes.

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Stress and fear of calamity biologically limit your thoughts, and are a circular prison which deprive you of sleep and calm, as scenarios race through your head. Keeping focused on what's not working will keep you trapped and drain the life out of you.

Release the pressure of your current situation by setting up 1 or 2 networking coffees over the next two weeks. Get out there and listen to what other people are doing in the world. Leave your heavy narrative at home, and open your ears to be inspired by new ideas.

As you begin to see that life goes on outside your current situation, your draining emotions around your current job will dramatically decline, and you'll be able to find renewed focus, and see your current challenge in a more positive light.


Why are you still reading this? You can't control yourself? In fact you can't! Biologically, you've been sucked into the vortex of the need for constant stimulation.

My coaching clients often ask me “what can I do when everything is going so fast and i feel out of control.”

The hack: turn off your phone for five minutes, stick it in the drawer, and just be by yourself. Marvel in the silence and eerie calm. This simple action snaps you out of your agitated, hyperactive state, and allows you to refocus on what's important. Like a fresh shower or a breath of fresh air, use this method throughout the week to restore some control and sanity in your life. Cheers!

What if the worst happens?

What if I get fired. What if I don't get in. What if they don't want me. It's taken a lot to get this far, and one misstep could crumble it all. What then?

Try this - “I’ll figure out another situation that works for me and my family.” Time continues. A perceived failure reveals the next opportunity.

I spend my days working with high achieving professionals at the top of their industries. While consequence based thinking can drive you to achieve great things, this working style drains your energy, creates burn out, and means you're always fighting the universe.

To lighten up, sleep better and get some rhythm in your step, write down the worse thing that could happen. And then... and then... what would you do? The mind inflates the worse case scenarios and gives them great power over you. On paper, each scenario becomes manageable, and the fear loses its grip over you.

You will start to realize that your creativity, resourcefulness and training mean you're never screwed, it's not over — in fact, everything is happening exactly as it’s meant to. As you go with the wave 🌊 and intentionally choose your path forward, you will be filled with energy and find the universe working for you.


The First Thing People Notice About You

The first thing people notice about you is how you're breathing.


As an actor enters the stage, the first thing an audience senses is how the actor is breathing.  Before they've spoken, the breath - as indicated by the motion of the body - tells us what to expect. As pack animals, another person's breathing pattern carries a wealth of information. 

Most simply, another person's breathing pattern signals:

  1. Danger and insecurity 
  2. That everything's fine
  3. Abundance and excitement

Despite your mind's best efforts to conceal your emotions, your breath reveals everything about how you're feeling. Think through few recent situations:

  • The frantic co-worker who's racing to get something done - the staccato, intermittent gasps.
  • The unreadable colleague who holds their breath - is their chest / belly even moving?
  • The calm assertive boss who's inviting and grounded - a natural, elegant presence.

Biologically, we hold our breath to hide from predators, to avoid detection.  When attacked, our breath quickens, we suck in more air, put our hands up and fight. With a perspective that 'we will get to the right answer,' breathing is completely natural, and nourishing. Watch an electric group of individuals interacting, and you'll see then breathing naturally, and in sync with their emotions and feelings.


How do you present?  What alters your breathing pattern?  Here are a few ways to heighten your awareness:

  1. When walking down the street, ask yourself "how am I breathing" - this is a great moment to study yourself as it's something you usually put no thought into, and there's usually no one around you.
  2. Take note of what quickens your breath (chest contracts, and you pull more air in), when are you holding your breath (usually when feeling intimidated), how are you breathing when in the presence of your most relaxing friend.

As a coach, I often work with clients over the phone.  While I can't see them, I can hear the rhythm of their voice, the calm-intentional pauses or lack thereof, and I can sense where they are.  Practice observing yourself and watching others.  And if you find yourself holding your breath, or often hyper-breathing, realize your human and you're getting information about what situations are creating fear and stress in you.  By consciously accepting whatever is throwing you off balance, you can begin to choose a different reaction, and observe your breathing to know where you are.

Horrible Boss? "Just Don't Take It Personally"

Your boss puts you down, dismisses your ideas, and has no regard for your time. A part of you wants justice, feels cold and cynical, and wants to embrace your inner Tyler Durden - filled with rage and fantasies of revenge. The Internet tells you your superior is a narcissist or a psychopath and there's little hope. And then you friend tells you to "stop taking it so personally."


When someone is making you feel down and underappreciated, the "don't take is personally" strategy can be very empowering.  


  1. It gives you a choice over how you feel, rather than being at the effect of someone else's actions
  2. You own your emotions and feelings
  3. You can see bad behavior for what it is, and acknowledge and accept it


  1. Over a long period, this allows you to tolerate or enable an abusive person
  2. Unless you explore why you're feeling upset by the other person's behavior, you are invalidating your own emotions


There's an incredible opportunity in studying these moments which throw you off your game.  On one hand, you can get fired up and yell at the offender or complain to a colleague. On the other hand, you can shut up and suck it up.

However, there's a third option in "not taking it personally" combined with using the moment as an opportunity to learn more about yourself.

  1. Realize the offender's behavior is not about you. Put yourself in their shoes: what's happening for them that they would react to you in this way?  
  2. What's making you feel so bad? What is the offender doing specifically that's making you feel upset?

Part 1: It's not about you! What's leading them to behave this way? In analyzing the motivation of the offender, you'll begin to realize whatever they're going through is coming out in behavior towards you.  It's not ok that they are being abusive or dismissive, and i'm not advocating that you tolerate the behavior for a long period of time, however, as you start to realize they are not as in control of their behavior as it previously felt - like an intentional act of hurt towards you - you can start to feel a little bit bad for them that they are so unconscious of their behavior, and realize its not really about you - it's not actually personal.

Part 2: It's not about them either!  What's making you feel so upset?  What feeling did the offender create in you?  Anger, resentment, sadness, feeling worthless, are you hungry for justice?  Who else in your life created this feeling in you?  The offender doesn't have some magical power over you to make you hurt at your core, they are triggering an old sensitivity in you left by someone else.

Rather than suppressing your feelings and emotions, Empower Yourself, and Stop Taking it Personally.  Use these opportunities to realize its not about you.  While this introspection and examination may allow you to tolerate a situation, you may also begin to realize your counterparty has fundamental behavioral issues and it is time to terminate your relationship.

Beat The Hangover from Negative Performance Feedback

I work with people who have a track record of kicking ass. Their determination to win, and thick skin, combine to allow them to crush it.  When things go well, the positive feedback loop propels them to great heights and they feel unstoppable and full of vitality. However, a negative performance review can paralyze us and fill us with anger, frustration - creating a sense that the rug has been pulled out from under us. What do you do when you get career limiting feedback? 


Negative performance reviews are traumatic for a lot of my clients. Where they have always succeeded, they suddenly hit a wall, blindsided by evidence of their deficiencies. While the intent of the 360 feedback system is to allow people to improve, the delivery often misses the mark.

Are You Suffering a Feedback Hangover?

Symptoms include feeling frustrated, angry, resentful or directionless and paralyzed. Like the wrong dose of anything, your body is not reacting well and now you're stuck trying to recover.

What You Can Do.

Call your doctor.  Gather the facts, write down your emotions and book a session with an executive coach with expertise in tactical career management.  There's a whole community of people who can help you unload your emotions, process the trauma, and put a plan in place to get back on your feet.  Don't expect this to go away on its own. 

We have very effective methods today to help you get back on track and stay in the right state of mind. Let me help you get your passion and swagger back in your step.



4 Tactics for Leaders to Successfully Communicate with their Team

A prospective client recently asked me to help him become the best "leader, mentor and person possible," and it brought a lot of lessons to mind from couples coaching.  

Given how hard it is to make one relationship between two people work, how do you get to this nirvana as a leader?

From a place of curiosity, practice the following:

  1. Listen to your team (or spouse).  Genuinely listen!  It's hard

  2. Acknowledge what they say and make them feel heard.  This can be a simple "uh-hum"

  3. Validate their emotions, their fears, their feelings: "it makes sense you'd feel that way"

  4. Ask questions that let them work through the problem themselves, and refrain from question that are statements of your opinions or advice

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Everything in life is relationships. When you treat your staff with the empathy that you would show to your family, you make them feel human and connected to you. Even though you will have to make some hard decisions that are upsetting or unpopular, if you've laid the groundwork and consensus that you're human, everyone will work with you to create the best possible outcome, rather than struggle against you.

Just as at home, you work to inspire your children to explore, thrive and achieve, you similarly want to encourage your employees to participate and make them feel like they matter. No one likes to feel dismissed or put down. Yes there are limits to how long you allow people to carry on, but take the first step, and reveal your humanity.

If you have some bad habits or aren’t the paragon of this leadership, good news is -- with your buy in -- I can help you see what’s causing you to behave this way. We will slow down the video tape, look at the X-rays together, and help you practice a management style which will change people's opinions of you overnight.

Enter your email below to receive a detailed guide on how to Listen, Acknowledge, Validate and Ask questions

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Will you get paid what you're worth this year?

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It's Review Season. Will you get what you deserve? You've killed yourself this year and accomplished some amazing things for your firm. Now your fate is in the hands of the "annual 360 review process." Your peers, supervisors and HR will determine your bonus and position going into next year.

Maybe your heart is beating quicker as you read this. Maybe you're holding your breath. It makes complete sense you'd feel this way. The anticipation of getting or not getting money and title is intensified because it materially affects your well-being, and -- from a caveman perspective -- it creates uncertainty around your survival. When we feel at the effect of others' judgments, which we may or may not feel are fair, we instinctively feel on the defensive, which eliminates much of our ability to learn from feedback and see possibility ahead.

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Use this review season to your advantage. Yes, your peers may get you wrong: their perceptions may be out of sync with your good intentions. This year is 'in the can,' so accept where you are, and let's focus on what's next. When you recognize and release your instinctual, protective / defensive psychology, you enable yourself to use Review Season as an opportunity and be seen as someone with high EQ, who can evolve and adapt. With this shift in mindset, you will already begin to shift the misperceptions of you.

In my work as a career coach, I have seen that my most intelligent clients often have a hard time understanding feedback, and specifically what they're doing that's preventing them from being in a bigger role. While the review process reveals so much valuable information, it's often communicated in a way that doesn't make any room for you, your emotions, or allow you to use it to evolve. I've worked with tons of great people who were once passed over, and I understand the emotional toll it takes. I can help you see a path to shifting your mindset, and getting on a path to getting what you want. If this resonates with you, and you'd like to learn more, contact me (justin@levelupwithjd.com) and we can set up a 30 minute call to help you navigate this part of the year, and begin to vision what's possible.