Thursday, December 31, 2009
Without the advantage of shared experiences that are gained over a period of time, step-family members often don't have a chance to learn to trust one another, come to an understanding of the rules of discipline, or agree upon reasonable expectations. However, if family members are very committed to working through the issues they can get to a wonderful place. IT IS POSSIBLE. But, it takes time, patience, and an emotional investment. The place to start is in learning about the dynamics of step-families and seeking professional counseling to help with the transition.
Monday, December 21, 2009
1. Resolve to clean out the clutter. Clutter is unprofessional and a psychic drain - blocking creative energy and new ideas. When a business's physical space is disorganized or overcrowded it sends a negative message to staff and customers. Use ebay (or an ebay reseller), freecycle (www.freecycle.com), or a bartner exchange to get rid of your extra inventory and unwanted items.
2. Resolve to tap into your existing resources. List your personal and professional resources and create an action plan outlining how you will use each of those resources during the next month, six months, and year ahead.
3. Resolve to give your website a face lift (or makeover). Your web presence should be viewed as your business' face on the world stage. It should be a work in progress. Keep your website current and make frequent updates and revisions. Make sure your website links to your Facebook, twitter, and blog pages.
4. Resolve to reduce expenses. What worked during boom times will not work now. If it is too difficult for you to see what you can trim, sit down with someone else who doesn't know that much about your business. Show them your expense spreadsheet. Explain where your money is going. Which expenses can you justify? Which ones seem out of line?
5. Resolve to provide exemplary customer service. Your customers are the key to your success. Can you keep your customers happy? I am amazed at how often I encounter businesses that seem oblivious to the fact that if they don't make their customers happy there is someone else waiting for the business. Stay connected to your customers, find out what is working for them, what isn't, and what needs you can meet.
6. Resolve to create an out-of-the-box niche. Your out-of-the-box niche is what makes you stand out from the crowd. If you don't have a niche and nothing in your industry calls to you, start studying your industry's past, current, and emerging market trends. Do some market research by talking to targeted customer groups and find their unmet needs. Having a niche doesn't mean you turn away other business. You can still take that business in. But, having a niche gives you a marketing target and expert status.
In 2010, as resources become tighter, we will encounter more conflicts in our personal and professional lives and this trend will be mirrored on the local, national, and international stages. The new economy will continue to foster the creation of innovative services by entrepreneurs who are able to side-step the traditional attorney-driven model of conflict management. The majority of these services will be technology based, allowing people to access information that they will use in DIY models or with reduced fee service providers.
Additionally, here are my top 3 Conflict Managment predictions for 2010
1. Mediation will be used to resolve many of our current foreclosure and related mortgage problems.
2. Terminated employees will bring law suits against their former employers in record numbers. Most of these cases will be treated as nuisance matters and settled for small sums.
3. Media circus divorces (Jon and Kate) will continue to lose in popularity with celebrity couples choosing instead to use the confidential process of mediation to negotiate their break-ups. The public will continue to follow suit.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
1. To enable the partners to determine if reconciliation is possible.
2. To expose past hurts.
3. To confirm that the spouse is no longer part of the team and instead wants to take care of him/her self.
4. To keep the connection alive until the lessor connected partner is ready to let go.
5. To enable each spouse to avoid looking at her/herself and their individual failures. By pointing the finger at the other spouse, each partner can lessen his/her guilt and feelings of failure.
6. To promote letting go.
Keep in mind that each divorce, each couple, and each fight is unique. So some of this be more relevant in some cases then in others. However, there is always some version of the fight and if we can help a couple structure their fight and make it more productive there is a better chance for a productive dialogue as they move through the process of divorce and into their future relationship as co-parents. If instead the fight is driven by attorneys in a court setting they miss much of this opportunity for self-discovery and closure.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The dictionary defines unprecedented as "without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unparalleled." Our current experience - a collective swimming in unchartered waters - was brought about as technological advancements, which continue to occur at lightning speed, met and coupled with the new economy. Additionally, for many entrepreneurs, industry specific factors may also be at play.
I have been talking to business owners about these unprecedented times and I am finding that smart entrepreneurs know that keeping their eyes open to the emerging trends in our culture, our communities, and our industries is critical. In fact, this is the perfect time to ask ourselves what unprecedented changes and opportunities are facing me and my business. Here is how some smart and savvy professionals answered this question. As someone fascinated with the concept of emerging trends, I would love to hear your answer.
Dr. Ralph Bourjolly is an Optometric Physician in Pompano Beach, Florida. Dr. Ralph saw an unprecedented opportunity when a technological advancement allowed him to incorporate a digital camera that takes pictures of a patient's retina, into his practice. He is now able to take clear pictures of a retina without dilating the patient's eyes and email the photographs to a retina specialist, saving time and raising the standard of care.
Jay Ghanem, of Auto Tech and Body in Pompano Beach, Florida is an entrepreneur with a unique ability to sense industry changes and opportunities. Jay is currently working on ways to power cars with waste cooking oil. And, he recently became a distributor of Xenon headlights. These lights can be installed in any car, reducing energy consumption while significantly improving visibility.
Massage therapist Marie-Josee Berard of the Infant Massage Institute says that an emerging trend in her industry is using massage during pregnancy to avoid colic and other common problems. Amazingly, Marie-Josee is able to use massage to help mothers take care of their babies while the babies are still in the womb.
According to Michael J. Maynes, a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner, "the financial services industry is going through a pruning process and this trend will probably continue so that broker dealers with poor balance sheets and high risk portfolios will be acquired and stronger firms with less debt and lower portfolio risk will gain market share." Mike has found that the current economic mess has caused his role to evolve so that he has become more of a helper, assisting people in developing or revising their budgets and managing their finances after a layoff.
Danielle Zimmerman of Abi's Place, a school that specializes in teaching children with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, says that recent cuts in Medicaid funding and school budget cuts have provided her with a unique opportunity. Because Abi's Place is a 503© they are able to raise funds with creative fundraising events and provide the services that her students need.
The bottom line is this. If you are a dentist, you need to be taking digital x-rays. If you are a psychotherapist, you need to expand your tool box beyond Woody Allen style long-term therapy. It's that simple. Those who are able to turn their challenges into opportunities will weather the economic storm.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
1. Resolve to clean-out the clutter. When you clean up your house you are honoring your home - the temple for your relationship.
2. Resolve to have the difficult conversations. Talk to each other. And, if that's too hard, write each other letters.
3. Resolve to live within your means and clean-up your credit. You already know which one of you is "the saver" and which is "the spender." Put "the saver" in charge of all funds. You may need three accounts - yours, mine and a joint account to insure that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement.
4. Resolve to put each other first - before your kids, parents, friends, or jobs.
5. Resolve to work together as a team. Marriage works best when the partners don't see things in terms of win-lose against each other. A sports team is most successful when everyone pulls together for the common good - so is a marriage.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
There are so many avenues for expression these days I often dont know where to go first. A few months ago I stated using Facebook. Its a great medium in that it provides a pictorial component to go along with the written words. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever reads this blog. But, with Facebook I know that someone is reading - their responses are almost immediate. So please, if you have not done so already, connect to me on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Things have been hectic. On a personal note, this summer was a busy and joyful time. My daughter completed her training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. While she was there - for four months - we babysat for our granddogs, making us a four dog household. And, both my son and my niece got married within a two week span of time. As part of the festivities I traveled to New York four times and hosted two local bridal showers. And when the weddings were all done David and I went to Las Vegas for an amazing birthday party for my sister Michele.
Professionally, I have become interested in the work of legal futurist Richard Susskind (The End of Lawyers? Oxford, 2008). Susskind asserts that “the legal system is on the brink of a fundamental transformation.” In my mind, the family law arena is ripe for a revolution, or at least a makeover. The public seems eager to move away from the traditional/attorney-driven model of divorce, towards a more humane and family-friendly approach. And, the new economy is accelerating the shift. We continue to be very busy at A Friendly Divorce. But, there is a limit to how many couples David and I can personally usher through the transition of divorce. So, we are venturing out to teach other professionals our system. We are now assembling a small group of Florida mediators to learn our process and help move us closer to a national training program. Please contact me if you want to learn more about how we help families conserve their resources and minimize heartache during one of the most difficult times any family can face.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
There is a better way!! Take a look at - http://www.afriendlydivorce.com/uncategorized/jon-kate-and-everyone-else-getting-divorced/
Wishing you all the best, Elinor
Thursday, July 23, 2009
In my mind, racism and its related open wound, are key factors in the whole matter. But, other factors, and some big fat male egos, come into play too.
Would the woman who called-in the initial 911 report have called the police if the men she saw breaking-into Gates house were white? Honestly, we will never know how much of the motivation behind the woman's call came from racial profiling and how much was from her concern as a neighbor.
Likewise, we don't have a video tape of the arrest scene. So we will never really know how things played out when Crowley showed up. However, my 20 years as a mediator has taught me that in almost every human conflict, it takes two to tango. So I believe that both men contributed to the escalation of the conflict. And, while race is one of the factors that influenced both men before, during and after the arrest incident, power and ego also came into play.
Gates is calling for an apology. And, at this point, in the court of public opinion, Crowley would be wise to offer one. Here is what he could say and still save face:
"Needless to say, this incident was most unfortunate and I am sorry that it has caused Dr. Gates suffering and stress. I was called to the house for a reported break-in and sadly things escalated before it became clear that this was Dr. Gates' home. I hope that Dr Gates knows that it was my intention to protect this home, as I would want to protect any home in Cambridge. I can understand how upsetting it must have been for Dr Gates to have the police show up on his doorstep, especially since he was already dealing with the frustration of being locked out. Under different circumstances I believe that Dr Gates would have conveyed the facts to me and we would not be here now. Once again, I am sorry for the suffering and stress that Dr. Gates has endured in relation to this incident."
Likewise, Dr Gates can take this mishap and turn it into an opportunity for opening up a worthwhile and meaningful dialogue on race and racial relations. Hopefully, he will choose this path and avoid putting himself into the whinney victim stance that we often see in reaction to feelings of dismissed, discounted, disrespected, or disenfranchised.
Monday, June 15, 2009
5 Things To Do
1. Plan ahead. Dont wait until the last minute to make summer plans. However, be flexible and know that the plan may change.
2. Tap into your support network. Dont depend on just one person. Make sure you include many others - friends and/or family members - in your plan.
3. Keep it simple. Avoid biting off more then you can chew. Keep your financial and time restrictions in mind and set up a plan that you can afford.
4. Create new rituals. Divorce is the perfect time to assess and re-create your life as you want it to be. This time of assessment also allows you to design rituals that you will want to follow for years to come. Ask yourself - what do I REALLY want to do over this summer? Is there a signature event that you can host and call your own for years to come (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, or just a Girl's Weekend Getaway)? Now, set it up and do it.
5. Volunteer to help the needy. Giving back to the community feels good but it is also a great way to meet new people.
5 Things NOT To Do
1. Dont isolate. A little alone time is OK but make sure that you will be around others in your support network.
2. Dont waste time arguing over the details. If your Ex is stuck on having the kids for certain days, go with the flow. Many of my clients find that they get more when they give in. So be flexible and open to unseen possibilities.
3. Dont focus on the past or hold on to old patterns and rituals. Change is the only guaranty we have in life. Avoid dwelling on the things you miss as well as the vacation disasters that were part of you former life. Instead look to the future and march on.
4. Dont go anywhere you really dont want to go. Avoid critical or nosey relatives and anyone else who will open up old wounds.
5. Dont jump into a new relationship just because you dont want to be "alone." Instead, enjoy this summer season as a single.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Typically, as a Mother-Daughter relationship evolves over time, their dependencies change. Ideally, Mom should become a supportive friend and ally. But early patterns can influence us forever. And, for some, the Mother-Daughter relationship stays stuck in adolescence - fraught with hurt, disappointment, disconnection, and conflict.
It takes two to tango. However, in order to improve a Mother-Daughter relationship, the mother must do more of the work. Here are five things you can do to lessen Mother-Daughter conflict.
1. Accept your daughter as an adult. Mothers who are unable to accept their daughters as adults typically find that their relationships are categorized by struggle and old patterns of control and rebellion.
2. Don't criticize. A mother's efforts to motivate self-improvement often make a daughter feel hurt and inadequate. Daughters need their mothers to view them as competent adults and beautiful women.
3. Listen supportively and allow breathing room. Avoid giving advice which may reflect your own values and desires. Instead, ask questions to improve your understanding of what she wants to do when faced with difficulty and allow your daughter to make her own decisions - even if you disagree.
4. Check it out. Before you do anything for your daughter or intervene in any way check it out with her. The Golden Rule does NOT apply. Instead, do unto your daughter, as SHE wants to be done unto. The only way you will know this is to ASK her what she wants.
5. Create a Mother-Daughter tradition and/or go on a Mother-Daughter retreat.
Friday, May 8, 2009
We are currently living through financial, real estate and health crises. The stock market and banks are in upheaval, the real estate market is a disaster, unemployment is at an all time high, and in addition to the health care mess we are facing a possible pandemic. This is enough to push almost anyone over the edge.
Ann Toback Bair, LCSW, calls our current situation a “crisis of trust.” Sadly, there have been serious breaches of trust and many of us have lost faith in our leaders, our institutions, each other and, for some, our selves.
The financial crisis has triggered a lot of shame. Those who have lost their homes, their jobs, and their available credit often feel driven to point the finger of blame at their spouses, family members, and friends. Loss brings back childhood insecurities, leaving us with a diminished capacity and a tendency to act out negatively.
However, there are things you can do to avoid falling victim to the negativity. Strategies for getting though the current crisis fall into two categories - action strategies and attitude strategies.
1. Create a concrete plan of action. List your personal resources and then conceptualize the strategies that you will utilize during the next month, 6 months and year ahead.
2. Become an activist. Get involved with something that is going to make a difference.
3. Commune. Connect with your neighbors and members of your community. Avoid isolation. Start or join a support group or a meet-up. Have a Bar-b-q – serve hot dogs, not steak. Make time for sharing breakfast. It’s critical to remember that you are not alone.
4. Meditate and breathe. When we are anxious we tend to hold our breath. Using a breathing meditation allows us to take in more oxygen. And, more oxygen allows us to think more clearly.
5. Stay busy. Find free activities. Take a walk. Visit the park or the beach.
6. Find more creative ways for finding the goods and services you need. Barter. Recycle. Negotiate. Create.
1. Start the morning with a positive affirmation.
2. Focus on the ways that the glass of your life is half (or more) full.
3. Avoid comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides. For example, you know your 401K is in the toilet. Don’t assume that the same is not true for your neighbor or brother-in-law. When you think of yourself as the only victim you further feed the negative emotions.
4. See crisis as an opportunity to shift gears.
5. Accept those around you as they are. Focus instead on what can be changed in your and your attitudes.
6. Don’t dwell on your losses, mourn them and let them go.
A special thank you to the meeting participants: Ann Toback Bair, LCSW, Barbara Jacob, LMHC, Mark Levinsky, LMHC, Susan Ames, CLU, ChFC, Erica Goodstone, PhD, LMHC, Lisheyna Hurvitz, LMHC, Lillian Alper, LCSW, Susan Lander, MSW, Irv Nadler, PhD, Robin Goldstein, EdD, Beth Cutler, LMHC, CAP, and Julie Shuman, PsyD.
Monday, April 13, 2009
A: Co-preneurship is one of my favorite topics. I find the combination of entrepreneurship and the marriage relationship fascinating. And, I am a co-preneur myself.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 Economic Census more than 3.6 million businesses in the U.S. are run by co-preneurs, husband-wife entrepreneurial teams. Certainly, no single model fits all of them. Some are part of a revolution that is pioneering a new model of marital and business equality. For others, their business is an extension of a traditional marriage where mom is behind the scenes and dad runs the show. The recent growth in co-preneurship has been attributed to a wide variety of causes, everything from new franchise availability to the high cost of child care.
For many co-preneurial couples no part of life is separate from the others; your financial, spiritual, professional and family lives are intertwined. As such, copreneurs face some unusual challenges, and reap some magnificent rewards.
As a result of both my work with co-preneurs and my personal experience as one - building my own business (AFriendlyDivorce.com) with my husband, David - I have come to see that there are no easy answers. What works for some will be disaster for others. However, some key concepts are essential to making co-preneurship work. Here are my top six tips for working with your spouse.
1. Be patient. It’s necessary to learn to work together. So, when you start a new business, be prepared for a learning curve. It takes time to establish the right working relationship and pace. So whatever you decide today may not be what you are following tomorrow. Starting your new venture will involve trial and error. So don't get discouraged.
2. Find and define your shared vision and values. Shared vision and values are necessary for success. It’s important that co-preneurs agree on the purpose of their business; is it a way of life or a way to earn an income? You will be making business decisions based on your priorities and values.
3. Divide the work. The more distinction you have in your tasks and job descriptions, the better. For many couples, dividing tasks according to ability, not gender stereotypes, is difficult. But this is what often works best. As with all business partnerships, co-preneurship will work best if you and your husband possess different skill sets. Your husband is a very unusual man if he is willing to be called your "assistant." That is a loaded title that raises a red flag. If this is the route that you decide to go I think he should be called the "administrator" or the CFO instead.
4. Communicate. Find out how your husband really feels. Have you considered how this endeavor will effect your marriage? Take about it. Write about it.
5. Fight fair. Hear each other out. Keep all arguments focused on the current dispute instead of reverting back to old hurts and squabbles. And, when you disagree, give yourselves a cooling-off period before making the final decision.
6. Put the saver, not the spender, in charge of money, finances and budgets. The spender may go kicking and screaming, but this is almost always the best business policy.
Co-preneurship can destroy a marriage. So, before you take the plunge, honestly assess your situation. If you regularly struggle with control issues in your marriage, running a business together is not a great idea.
Remember, there is no getting away from your co-worker when you are married to him. You already know whether you and your husband operate as a team or as two individuals who happen to share a space and a future.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Have you successfully launched your divorce/family mediation practice?
Are you satisfied with your divorce/family mediation practice?
Newly trained mediators often report that they face obstacles in their efforts to launch their divorce/family mediation practices. It seems that whether the goal is to build a practice for couples that are represented by attorneys or for those that are pro-se, the road to private practice is often bumpy. Obstacles can include:
- a lack of confidence regarding the novice mediator’s ability to effectively facilitate the session,
- a lack of confidence regarding the mediator’s knowledge of the legalities involved in divorce, including calculating child support and writing the marital settlement agreement,
- market saturation,
- a failure to create an inclusive marketing plan, and
- the lack of a professional mentor and/or a support system.
If these or any other obstacle has kept you from achieving your goal of launching a divorce/family mediation practice, please don't give up. I have long believed that the 40-hour training model that we use in Florida is only a first step for embarking upon a new career as a professional divorce/family mediator. If you are already certified but you still feel unprepared to go to the next level, I have a solution for you. If you have tried to get your practice going with less then satisfactory results, I have a solution for you.
You are invited to join "Launch Your Practice: A Professional Group For Divorce/Family Mediators."
The group will meet over a six month period. During this time we will explore topics related to mediation techniques and strategies as well as to the marketing of a mediation practice. Our time together will include three day-long meetings (August 2009, October 2009, and January 2010), bi-monthly phone conversations and an in-depth email dialogue. Enrollment is limited and participants will be selected so that there will be no direct geographic market competitors. The investment for being a part of this group is $2495. Please call or email me if you want to learn more.
All the best,
Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator & Mediatioin Trainer
Boca Raton, FL
* Teaching mediation - over 5000 professionals trained - http://www.mediationtraininggroup.com/
* Commercial, family, community, & workplace mediation - http://www.elinorrobin.com/
* Divorce Mediation & Forms - http://www.afriendlydivorce.com/
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Read my answer, my newest contribution to Entrepreneur.com at
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Friends, relatives, and parents don't seem able to help young couples strengthen their marriage skills. Even if their marriages do work, these relations are typically not prepared to readily share the intimate details of their marital successes and failures.
Early on in my career as a divorce mediator I became fascinated with the relationship dynamics of the couples that came to me for help. I was interested in finding what had happened to move them away from believing that they would live together, happily ever after. I wanted to see and understand where their relationships had gone wrong and I had a rare vantage point.
So I started putting my thoughts and observations onto paper and ultimately, my notes became a book. Today, I believe that it is possible to counteract and avoid many of the pitfalls that destroy our marriages. However, it appears that it is critical that things start off right. Once the damage is done, it is almost impossible to go back and repair the bond - to reattach emotionally.
My book is titled "The Bride's Guide To Starting Your Marriage Off Right." Clearly, there is both a need and a market for this book; the book stores have lots of books for planning the wedding, and volumes on fixing a bad relationship, but little on how to start a marriage. Accordingly, I really want to get my message out. But, I am told that until the economy turns around and the publishing business is back and clamoring for new titles, publishing the book will be very difficult. So I decided to post the book on this blog, in segments, over the next few months. Please stay tuned.