Job Search Magic

Brain Coach: Does Optimism Mean You Have to Be Happy All the Time?

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

Does optimism mean you have to be happy all the time? As humans we experience a wide range of emotions. On the negative (“minus”) end of the spectrum, those emotions can include worry, fear, anxiety, hate, worry, frustration, bitterness, jealousy. On the positive (“plus”) end of the spectrum, we have love, joy, peace, gratitude, hope, and happiness.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that Optimism is the umbrella for emotions that put us into the “plus” category. Can we be in the “plus” category all of the time?

I had a conversation with a fellow coach the other day, and we talked about what it feels like to have that “mountaintop” experience—the feeling you get when you’ve been at, say, a retreat or an amazing conference where you’ve connected with like-minded people who have inspired you. You come away believing that things are possible. That you can do it. That there is hope.

Then I posed the question:

How much of the time do you think we can live in that “mountaintop” space?

What is your answer to that question? 10%? 20%? 30%? 40%? 50%? 60%? 70%? 80%? 90%? 100%?

Our brains look for evidence of our beliefs. If we think the answer is 10%, we will prove ourselves right. If we think the answer is 90%, we again will prove ourselves right.

So back to the question of the day—does optimism mean you have to be happy all the time? What if we can train ourselves to live in the 90th percentile! I am heading there, and live is wonderful from this perspective!

And yes, we will have moments when unwelcome circumstances happen—goals don’t get achieved on schedule, sickness comes, people we love die. (Grief should never be ignored, but it can be wrapped in gratitude and peace.)

Or, on a smaller scale—an email comes that contains words that hurt your feelings, a jealous feeling flashes for a moment when you see someone experiencing the success that you want for yourself, a loved one says something unkind to you.

These circumstances can be wonderful and welcome reminders of where you want your focus to be. When you put your hand atop a hot stove burner, you don’t leave it there. You remove it immediately. Likewise, when you experience the flash of frustration/fear/worry, notice that the “stove is hot” and pull yourself away from it.

Click HERE to access Brain-Based Coaching Tips on Mountain-Top Optimism.


Brain Coach: Optimism Squared–Span & Subtleties

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

For many years, I wasn’t aware of how “routinized” my ability to worry, catastrophize, and feel guilty had become! It was a habit that I hadn’t realized was part of my daily life. And with every worrisome thought, I caused a chemical release in my system that took me even further into a subtle but impactful state of unsettledness, second-guessing, and insecurity.

I wasn’t a basket case by any means, but I certainly didn’t live with the confidence, freedom, and fun that I live with today. And I can assure you, I am sooooo much happier with my increasing Optimism. It has greatly increased my ability to see options and take action.

And I know the same is true for my colleagues who are on a similar journey. @JamesBeeman @KarolTaylor @BeverlyHarvey @SusanChritton and other fellow Master Brain-Based Success Coaches!

Optimism—Span & Subtleties

I’ve talked about the Speed and Sustainability of Optimism. Here are two more dimensions:

Span: Are there some areas of your life where you’re naturally an Optimist while other areas (a challenging relationship, career success, finances) aren’t as strong?

Subtleties: Or, are there subtle areas of your life that you may not even realize you’re approaching from more of a Pessimistic perspective? Places where you’re 1) resigned, 2) restless, or 3) in a bit of a rut? For instance,

  • The ebbs and flows of business (do you assume “there are just busy times and down times in my business—it’s just part of the cycle, not something I can control”) or
  • Relationships (do you assume “there’s no way I could get business from that person—I’m too small potatoes to work with them”), or
  • Diet/weight loss (if weight loss has been a struggle in the past, do you assume “this is just the way it’s going to be”), or
  • Other everyday circumstances (do you assume, “there’s no way I’ll ever get my email under control”), etc.

Click here for a Coaching Tip to Increase Span & Subtleties of Optimism:

Insights? Actions?


The Internal Career Coach: How to Coach a Manager with Low EQ

By Susan Whitcomb | 4 Comments »

shutterstock_90636670I just got off the phone with an internal coach who is coaching a manager who has low EQ. You’ve probably come across this type of manager—the financial superstar who is bottom-line oriented and therefore gets promoted but has yet-to-be-developed skills in the area of motivating, developing, and relating to his/her direct reports.

As I’ve taught coaching over the years, I frequently hear the questions of “How do you get people who are highly analytical to be more relational?” and “How do you increase their EQ?”

Here’s my latest thinking on those questions, based on my understanding of neuroscience.

It starts with compassion.

Compassion keeps us out of fight-flight mode and puts us into peace-possibility mode, and we know that our brains are more able to come up with options and see solutions from the latter stance.

You might think, my low-EQ manager clients don’t want compassion from me! Maybe not. We do know that one of the things they do need is a no-judgment zone. And that is compassionate. We know that they do need to remain calm and in control so they can find solutions. And we know that they’re not in control when they’re being emotionally hijacked!

Next, is curiosity.

To help someone change their thinking (and then their behavior), they must be curious. They must wonder whether the way they’ve always thought/acted is still making sense. They must wonder what a different way of being might bring them better results.



Compassion & Curiosity in Coaching Conversation

Here’s how compassion and curiosity might sound in a coaching scenario:


Client: My new employee isn’t cutting it. She doesn’t quite have the skill set we really need at this point in time. I don’t have the time to deal with this. I want to just cut her loose.

Coach: I hear the drain.


Client: Right. It’s just one more thing and we’re going through so much with this re-organization.

Coach: Lots on your shoulders. I can almost see it physically. [pause] And I hear you wanting to be done with this.


Client: I do. This isn’t what I signed up for. It’s a drag on our productivity.

Coach: Sounds like it’s a drag on you, individually, as well. So even though you don’t want to spend time on this, it’s still taking up space in your thought process and draining your energy.


Client: No kidding. [sigh] She’s not totally useless, but there are some things that really annoy me.

Coach: What would those be?


Client: She’s overly enthusiastic and doesn’t count the cost, and then it ends up causing misunderstandings and friction.

Coach: And on the flip side, you said ‘not totally useless,’ what are the things she does well?


Client: In a way, it is her enthusiasm that the rest of the team seems to respond well to.

Coach: Double-edged sword.


Client: And she really pulls the project management piece of things into focus. She can get other people on board.


Coach: It’s what they call ‘cognitive dissonance.’

Client: What do you mean?


Coach: Part of you says “she’s really upbeat, she’s loyal as the day is long, she’ll tackle anything you ask her.” And another part of you says, “a leopard doesn’t change its spots, I don’t have time to train or develop her, I don’t think she can do the job anyway.”

Client: Right.


Coach: And typically when there is cognitive dissonance, there’s hesitation, procrastination, second-guessing, and that quiet internal voice in our heads that keeps chewing on things, stealing away precious resources from our ability to think creatively and strategically.

Client: That makes sense.


Coach: Up to this point, it’s as if your brain may have been focusing on thinking, ‘no time for this, cut her loose’ as the wisest move—the best way to cope—, and yet there’s another part that’s quietly raising its hand to say, ‘hmmm, but she does bring some value to the table.’


Coach: One of the best ways to resolve cognitive dissonance is with curiosity. What comes up for you with that word “curiosity”?

Client: So, maybe, curiosity around where does she fit best, curiosity around what would happen if I simply told her that she’s not cutting it, curiosity around what will I do in the future if I get someone else on my team who doesn’t have everything on the ‘wish list’ that I want—will I just cut ‘em all loose?


Coach: What else?

Client: I’m done.


Coach: Open to some other thoughts?

Client: Yep.


Coach: Curiosity around how to leverage her strengths … curiosity around how you leverage your strengths in managing her … curiosity around whether this might take less time than originally imagined …

Client: Those are good.


Coach: You’re stretching her. You’re stretching yourself.

Client: I hear that. I get it.


Coach: How do you want to execute on the insights?


[end of excerpt]


Did you spot the compassion? Did you spot the curiosity? How might you implement these ideas with the people you coach? With yourself?



Brain-Based Techniques for Success: Which paradigm is your client operating from?

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

November has been a very exciting time here at The Academies with our 5th Annual Virtual Bootcamp! In case you missed it, here’s a sample of the buzz from social media:

  • Michelle Carroll shared this quote of John Assaraf’s: “You have all the intelligence you need to be successful.
  • Stacy Harshman chimed in with this quote from Tali Sharot: “Our brains aren’t quite the final authority on what is around us, or indeed, within us…
  • Tolu Adeleye picked up this nugget: “Helping clients in transition—remember, what has worked for them in the past is a key part of our work as coaches.”

You can see these and other takeaways by searching for #theacademies on Twitter. On Facebook, visit with us in the group Susan Whitcomb & The Academies ( to glean takeaways and pertinent information you can use with your clients today!

As you know, using brain-based techniques in career coaching is a passion of mine. I’ve heard from many people in our community who report an increase in confidence, competence, and compensation when using the brain-based techniques.

Paradigm Chart

One of my favorites is discovering which paradigm your client is operating from. We discussed this at length in session #1 of the Virtual Bootcamp:



Also, did you know that you actually have 3 “brains”? Many Virtual Bootcamp attendees were surprised by this new information. The neural networks in our head, heart, and gut are worth paying attention to. Head, Heart GutEach of these neural networks plays a key role in decisions made during the job search, interview process, and landing the job.


To learn more visit:

If you have any question, please reach out to our Program Advisor, Shelly Cantrell ( or 877-659-3769 ext. 1). Through November 26th , you can use the following coupon code to save $50 off the archives and handouts (Plus bonus handouts not shared live!): VIPSAVE50





X-Men, Coaching & Rewriting the Future

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

x-men-days-of-future-past-professor-xMany moons ago when I married my husband, I was NOT a sci-fi fan. It was about last on my list of favorite movie genres, right above horror films. Give me a British drama or chick-flick any day of the week, but “no thank you” to sci-fi.


How things change. I soon learned that if I wanted to see a movie with my husband, I needed to be open-minded to what he liked. And so I’ve learned to appreciate movies like the X-Men and Inception and 2001 Space Odyssey. Last weekend, the whole family went to see X-Men’s latest release, Days of Future Past. Without spoilers, the movie points out how our choices today can impact not only our lives but many others’ lives in the days to come.


shutterstock_29017780(1)As a coach, you can imagine that “I’m all over that!” Choices create change. We all know that choosing to eat healthy today (and every day) will help create health in the decades to come. For business owners, choosing to spend time on marketing today will help create new business in the months to come. For job seekers, choosing to pick up the phone and have meaningful conversations with networking contacts today will create trust and more job opportunities in the weeks to come.


For change to happen, we need to create an environment conducive to change (the “helpful how’s”), and we need “inspiring why’s” associated with the change. Let’s start with the latter. Let’s say you want to change your financial situation for the better.


  • shutterstock_88446508(1)The Inspiring Why’s: We all have reasons for why we want something. To achieve significant change, go beyond the obvious. For example, perhaps you want to boost your finances because your child needs braces for her teeth. That’s a valid reason.

    But stretch a bit to think beyond this. What do those braces represent? Is it a life of greater confidence for your child? More opportunities for her? Better dental health down the road? Or maybe some of the “inspiring why” has to do with you: The opportunity to feel like you have provided well for her? The ability to learn something new (how to market better, how to provide a new service, etc.).

    If you really, really want to create change, go deep with your “why’s”!


  • shutterstock_150769385(1)The Helpful How’s: How does your environment need to change to help create change? Is it that you need to surround yourself with experts, mentors, and role models who inspire you? Is it that the television or Netflix needs to get turned off? Is it that your calendar needs to get rearranged so that activities that bring the highest income and highest impact take priority? Is it that you need to clean your desk so you’ve got room to create and hear yourself think?

    All of the inspiration in the world (the “why’s” above) won’t create change. It must be paired with meaningful action!


So think about what you want in the future. Then consider: What’s your “inspiring why”? What’s your “helpful how” to conduce change? Share your story!!


How a New Grad Cut His Job Search Time in Half Using Twitter

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

How long is the job search? 27 weeks, says the BLS! Is there a shortcut? One jobseeker found it … in the form of Twitter.

Stephen Moyer, one of the 13 jobseekers featured in The Twitter Job Search Guide (JIST, 2010) authored by Chandlee Bryan (@chandlee), Deb Dib (@CEOCoach), and myself (@SusanWhitcomb), is a stellar case study on how Twitter can work wonders in a job search.

As Chandlee likes to say, when it comes to networking,

“Twitter is the barrier buster!”

Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, there are no approvals when it comes to connecting with (or “following”) others. So whom did Stephen follow? People in the industry he wanted to be in. Here are some excerpts of my interview with Stephen (@Stephen_Moyer).

“When I first started on Twitter I was doing an internship with a logistics company and was interested in getting into recruiting and HR, so I went looking through some of my followers and noticed Karla Porter (@Karla_Porter). When I saw her profile, she said she was interested in ‘all things recruiting’ so I thought ‘maybe I’ll contact her through Twitter.’ I sent her an @ message asking if she could help me out and answer questions. Within 15 minutes she sent me her phone number and said ‘call.’

“I told her I was doing my internship and it turns out she knew my supervisor at the logistics company. A couple of days later, I got a message from Karla saying she talked to my supervisor, who gave me stellar reviews, and wondered if I’d like to come down and do an internship with her.

“During that time, Karla was mentioning me on Twitter as the ‘infamous intern,’ commending everything I’d done for her, and people started to notice. Karla had a request to have me join her on a blog talk radio program she was going to be on to answer some questions about etiquette on Twitter. During that process, a couple of people on the radio show asked me if I’d be able to help them out with their blog talk radio shows, including Paul Paris’ the Ex-recruiter show and the Bill Boorman show. Bill Boorman gave me 10 minutes at the end of his show to discuss why I wanted to be a recruiter and he allowed other recruiters on the show to give me guidance and free mentoring.

“I got tips from another recruiter, Animal, on how to develop my profile and how to make it more recruiter friendly since recruiting is what I wanted to do. I also followed up using different LinkedIn contacts. I connected with people in the U.S. and Canada who gave me some valuable insights on an interview that was coming up.

“Twitter has been indispensable in my job search. I would never have received the multiple interview opportunities (and offers) without being out there and active on Twitter.”

To summarize it, here’s how Stephen shortened his search. He …

• Shifted his tweet strategy from social (and started using Facebook for his social interactions) to more professional, interacting not just with friends but people in his target industry.

• Used Twitter to create opportunities for voice-to-voice and face-to-face contacts … and even picked up the phone first in some instances (revolutionary!)

• Engaged his Twitter community with @ messages (writing directly to someone on Twitter while allowing others to see the message) and conversations.

• Became a real person, not just another Twitter handle, which caused others to know, like, and recommend him (Karla_Porter).

• Used an integrated approach (LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as phone contacts, radio shows, etc.)

• Asked for advice (and listened to it!)

• Followed up, followed up, followed up!

Bottom line. Instead of the typical 27-week job search timeline, Stephen landed a new opportunity in just 10 weeks. Applause, applause, Stephen!

So join the conversation! What else have you seen work when it comes to Twitter and the job search?

Want to learn more about using Twitter as a barrier-busting career management tool? Join us for the next Microblogging Career Strategist program that starts in June. Info here!


Recent Posts

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For many years, I wasn’t aware of how “routinized” my ability to worry, catastrophize, and feel guilty had become! It was a habit that I hadn’t realized was part of my daily life. And with every worrisome thought, I caused a chemical release in my system that took me even further into a subtle but […]


I’ve been on a journey of becoming more Optimistic over the past few years. I’ll admit that, for many years, I lived with a tendency toward feeling “guilty” and even a bit “fearful” about getting everything done or having the business I needed to make ends meet—I was often the first to: Wonder: “Whew, we […]


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