Book Launch: Living Longer IS the New Normal

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Health & Wellness
Book Launch: Living Longer IS the New Normal

Book Launch: Living Longer IS the New Normal

Joseph M. Casciani, PhD

My New Book

For nearly 40 years, I have worked as a psychologist with older adults, their families, and staff. And now, in line with my continued focus on aging, I have a new book out, published on Amazon: Living Longer IS the New Normal.

In the book, I attempt to bring my experience and observations to steps that older adults can take to define themselves as strong and resilient, and capable of seeing a positive future. I like to think that it offers inspiration about aging and brings perspectives to the reader that help with living a long, healthy life, and knowing how to take control of our future regardless of health status.

As you may have seen in my writings or heard on my weekly internet radio show, the Living to 100 Club is open to anyone on this journey. Whether healthy or not so healthy, young or old, living alone or with family, the members of the Club keep a positive mindset. Living Longer IS the New Normal is another vehicle for me to encourage others to commit to moving forward no matter how many bumps encountered. We are turning aging on its head!

Not Always a Smooth Road

In my career, I can certainly attest to the bumps and obstacles to be encountered along the way. Always maintaining a positive energy and influence with frail, often depressed or angry nursing home patients was challenging. Managing the practices of mental health professionals working in these same nursing homes was rewarding but also wearing on the spirit. Then, when I sold my companies the first time in 2014, I encountered some bad actors, and experienced some serious setbacks that took a heavy toll. But finally recovering from that led me to create the Living to 100 Club, start the radio show on Voice America, and work with a legitimate buyer for my companies, all of which got me back onto a smooth paved highway.

It was easy to write this book. I wrote it for the layperson, the consumer. It Is not meant for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, so there may be criticism from my colleagues. But, in fact, I very much liked the freedom to share my thoughts in a more popular version. I could recall the direction I took with my patients over the years, helping them to be unburdened by their negative thinking and outlook. This is why I would often encourage those who could, to get up and be out in activities, in the lobby, or just in the hallway with others; When you’re in your bed, you’re in your head was a favorite line I used. It was clear that one small change in behavior would often snowball. And the best part of writing this was knowing that I was targeting seniors as my audience. A favorite line by Jean Cocteau, the French poet, works here: I may swing from branch to branch, but always in the same tree.

If You Like It, Please Share It

The book is available as a paperback and as a Kindle e-Book. I think it can be a good read for both professionals and patients. I would respectfully ask that, if you get a chance to read it and like it, to share it with your organization, facilities, and colleagues.

One last thought: the Living to 100 Club website is undergoing major revisions and will soon include more content about the behavioral elements of specific medical and psychological conditions, largely re-purposing what I had written or taught over the years. The audience for the website remains the older adult and their caregivers. Please be sure to visit.

Thank you.

Seniors Connections Matter: Connecting Seniors Through Technology

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Seniors Connections Matter: Connecting Seniors Through Technology

The impact of the coronavirus on our nation’s elder citizens has been enormous and  has highlighted the disconnect elders experience from family and loved ones. Directives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Federal agency that oversees Nursing Homes, is that all visitation is to be restricted, exceptions noted in the case of end-of-life or comfort-care. This has resulted in nursing home residents being isolated from families and loved ones.  Family members and loved ones are also increasingly concerned about their loved ones, knowing all too well that their presence plays a key role in their ability to  advocate to for their loved ones  care. As we move forward from the virus, and the possibility of easing restrictions for in-person family nursing home visits ensues, the need for families who live a distance from their loved ones residing in nursing homes having access to virtual visits should not be any less of a priority.

We all need and crave connection, especially with loved ones, and now more than ever.  Understanding that need, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,  has urged facilities to facilitate visual connections between residents and their loved ones. Many residents do not have mobile devices to establish these connections or, if so, need assistance to use them. Of the 15,600 nursing homes, the vast majority of facilities may not be equipped with a sufficient number of devices to enable residents and families/loved ones to have frequent virtual visits, especially since many facilities have upwards of 200, 400, and 500 residents.

Nursing home residents are isolated, lonely and understandably frightened. The stress from prolonged isolation is documented and can be considered equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes/day. It impacts anxiety, sleep disorders, falls, cognitive decline and symptoms of depression.

Of all the states, Florida took swift action in mid-March to ban visits to nursing homes in an effort to manage the spread of the virus. Now, Governor Rick DeSantis, in a May 26th Forbes magazine article,[1] suggests that “we must restrict visits to nursing homes by family and friends for at least the next several months, with the possible exception of those who can prove that they are not actively infected with the novel coronavirus”. If this suggestion becomes a reality, residents and family members may not be able to have valuable in-person visits in the foreseeable future.

Please think about the mothers, father, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, in the nursing homes all across the United States and Donate Now. A Nursing Home resident and Family member/loved one will thank you.

“Nursing Homes have been my life’s work. Seeing the pervasive loneliness and isolation nursing home residents experience as a result of being disconnected from their families and friends is heartbreaking. It’s important for me to find a way to bridge that gap.”

PLEASE HELP US!! Visit Senior Connections Matter, Connecting Seniors Through Technology


[1]Roy, A. The Most Important Coronavirus Statistic: 42% of U.S. Deaths Are from 0.6 % Of The Population, Forbes, May 26, 2020.

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever * Beautifully Illustrated & Written, Filled With Kid-Appropriate Adventures

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Llama Llama Best Summer Ever * Beautifully Illustrated & Written, Filled With Kid-Appropriate Adventures

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their safe, friendly hometown and make childhood memories. On this DVD, join Llama Llama as he camps, boats, floats and swims his way through his BEST summer ever! Adventure and learning awaits with Llama Llama and pals! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! DVD because it is very entertaining. It is a great tool to entertain young children or kids my age, especially during this pandemic. Each episode is very well illustrated and the script is well written.” Cadence G. adds, “I like Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! because all the episodes are different and have their own little adventure, even though all eight episodes have to do with summer activities.” Katherine S. wraps it up with, “Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content. The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.” See their full reviews below

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! DVD because it is very entertaining. It is a great tool to entertain young children or kids my age, especially during this pandemic. Each episode is very well illustrated and the script is well written.

This DVD is based off the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. One of Dewdney’s of the first books in the series is Llama Llama Red Pajama. Her Llama Llama books have been adapted into an animated television series for Netflix and this DVD is a compilation of episodes about summer. Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep, Gilroy Goat explore their hometown and have fun at the same time making childhood memories. This is truly the best summer ever for Llama Llama and his friends! Every episode is a new story with a new story line. This DVD includes eight episodes with a duration of approximately 11 minutes each for a total of 90 minutes of fun and adventure.

The animation is neat with bright colors, very detailed and colorful landscaping and excellent voice-overs that match each character. My favorite episode is “Last Day of Summer” which is about Llama Llama going kiting with his mom and friends at the beach, but it starts raining so his mom suggests doing indoor activities. His mom thinks of a fun way to go kiting indoors. They place a sand-looking mat on the floor; turn on a fan and Luna stands on the background to move fake waves made by cardboard. This episode is my favorite because it gives you a very good idea of how to have fun while staying at home during this pandemic.

The moral of this show is to never give up because Llama Llama does not stop trying to sell lemonade and keeps trying till he eventually gets customers. This shows how to keep trying even when things don’t work out the way you want them to. It teaches children to be persistent because there is no worse battle than the one you don’t fight for. This show also teaches children to be creative and to be resourceful like when they are kiting inside the house.

I’d give Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 5 to 18, plus adults can watch and enjoy this DVD with their children! This DVD is available now so go and look for it! It’s perfect for summer and pandemics.

Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever!
By Cadence Graber, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! because all the episodes are different and have their own little adventure, even though all eight episodes have to do with summer activities. At times, certain parts get a bit cheesy, but the characters are so cute that I think little kids will like this DVD.

This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friends Euclid the Sheep, Gilroy Goat, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe having different adventures, like the one when Llama Llama wants to help Euclid buy a new tire for his bike because it breaks, so the crew helps him raise money by starting a lemonade stand. Another adventure is when Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have a babysitter and have so much fun together. Although, Llama Llama has to step in a few times to help out the babysitter when certain things go wrong. You’ll have to watch the episode called “Llama Llama and the Babysitter” to find out what happens and how Llama Llama comes to the rescue. It is really cool to see all of the characters have fun together and solve problems when they need to. I also think it’s neat that the characters are so funny and have their own little personalities. My favorite part is when all the friends have an indoor summer day because it is raining. They take their game of sand volleyball inside, which is something I’d like to do. I’m not the best at playing volleyball (okay, I’m horrible), but it’s still a fun game to play with friends.
The animation is really good because you can see everything that is going on at all times; it’s really life-like. The voices of the characters fit them perfectly. I like how all the characters are so different from one another. For example, Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) is usually confident and has a strong voice, while Euclid (Brendon Sunderland), who is kind of shy and nerdy, has a weaker voice. It is exciting to see the characters play together outside in the summer. I look forward to being able to do more summer activities as it gets warmer in Minnesota, where I’m from.

The message of the DVD is you should take advantage of beautiful sunny days, but that you can still have fun even if it’s not sunny or if things don’t always work out the way you planned. Each episode has its own little message, so you’ll have to check out this DVD to learn more.
I give Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 10. This DVD is available now, so go look for it.

Llama Llama: Best Summer Ever
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content. The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.
This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friend having the time of their lives on their summer vacation. Episodes include Let’s Go Camping, Beach Day, Boat Float and Last Day of Summer. Wherever Llama Llama goes, there will always be fun.
The Llama Llama animated series is so cool, because they are based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. There are several lovable characters including Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe. This DVD is approximately 90 minutes long with eight episodes. My favorite episode is Last Day of Summer, because it shows that even if the weather is bad you can still have fun indoors during the summer.

There are a lot of positive messages in this DVD including keeping a positive attitude when your plans change unexpectedly and, if you go with the flow and have a positive attitude, the outcome can still be fun. We also learn that a little bit of practice can make you feel more confident and that if you feel as if you are not getting enough attention from your parents, just know that they still love you. This DVD has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do. However, there are scenes showing jealously.
I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend this DVD for your kids.

Shazzle vs. Signal: The Power of End to End Encryption

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Shazzle vs. Signal: The Power of End to End Encryption

Shazzle vs. Signal: The Power of End to End Encryption
What is End to End Encryption (E2EE)?

End to End Encryption (E2EE) is a secure method of communication that allows your message to be encrypted to prevent third parties and hackers from accessing the message while it’s being transmitted.
How does End to End Encryption work?

End to End Encryption works by using keys to encrypt and decrypt messages that are stored between the two users’ devices. This means that the only phone that can decode the message you’re sending is your intended recipient. E2EE is almost unbreakable unless someone found the exact key from a user’s device or if someone hacked your device or recipient’s device.
Is End to Encryption Secure?
End to Encryption is one of the most secure ways to communicate today. The only person or people that can view the message without having the encryption key is your intended party(s). Currently, end to end encrypted messages still pass through servers, but are completely unreadable without your encryption key.
Shazzle vs. Signal
What is Shazzle?

Shazzle is a free, secure messaging suite of products that includes ShazzleChat, ShazzleMail, and ShazzlePay. You can send encrypted messages, emails, files, and payments quickly and securely with Shazzle products.

Through Peer to Peer (P2P) connectivity and end to end encryption, Shazzle turns your phone into your own private network to communicate safely and securely to your friends, family, and peers. Shazzle is free and available on the Google Play and Apple App Store today!
Shazzle Features

• End to end encryption and peer to peer network makes Shazzle one of the most secure messaging platforms today.
• Shazzle’s full platform includes more than a messaging application. It also includes an email platform and digital wallet to ensure that you’re safe and secure in more ways than one.
• Shazzle’s registry works with a Trust on First Use (TOFU) system meaning that once an endpoint has been secured and trusted you will never have to re-enter a PIN or verify yourself. This will make communication quicker and safer for you and your intended recipient.
• Group chat with your friends, family, and peers quickly and securely with our group chat feature.
• Set Self-Destruct Timers on media files so that they are deleted from someone’s phone.
• Optional passcode lock is available for an extra layer of security for all Shazzle users.
• There’s no file size limit for any file or message you send through Shazzle.

What is Signal?

Signal is a secure messaging application that works with end to end encryption to help keep your information private and secure. The Signal messaging app is available on the Google Play and Apple App Store.
Signal Features

Signal offers a variety of unique features through their messaging app including:

• End to end encryption to communicate securely and safely to your friends and family.
• Signal Pin is a mandatory option that helps keep your application secure and private in the event that you lose or damage your phone.
• Group Chat to communicate with multiple people at once securely.
• Make video and voice calls safely and securely through the Signal app.
• Cloud storage to backup your information and messages on a Signal server.

What is the difference between Signal and Shazzle?

Shazzle and Signal are very similar and both want to create a safe and secure application for users to communicate without fear of hackers and third party servers. However, there are significant differences between the companies. Signal offers a single product available through your phone and Shazzle offers a full suite of products to help you stay secure on multiple systems.

Signal recently launched a feature that requires you to input a pin upon every entry to the app. Shazzle has created an optional feature that way you do not need to input a pin every time if they would prefer not to.

Additionally, Signal features a cloud storage system to backup your information and Shazzle does not. Cloud storage can be a security risk to some people and that has caused concerns to some users. Shazzle’s system does not back up on any server or cloud storage software to ensure and mitigate the risk of your information becoming available to third party servers.

Finally, perhaps the biggest difference is Signal secures your communication via end to end encryption only. Shazzle uses end to end encryption and a peer to peer network to turn your phone into your own private server to communicate with other Shazzle users. Your messages aren’t passed between servers or stored on any server.


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bumblebee on bottlebrush.jpg

“I rejoice when I see anyone, and especially children, inquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but always grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of happiness.” Gertrude Jekyll

It’s not only the airlines and cruise ships that are grounded! Young people everywhere are also enduring the sheltering-in-place mandate. As we embark on our eleventh week of staying-at-home and on-line learning, adults and children are naturally a bit antsy.

When I was a kid and school was closed for whatever reason, my very first instinct was to get outside and explore. I wanted to be on the tractor plowing the fields with my Dad, tending the vegetable garden with my Mom, or leading the rest of the ranch kids on an adventure through the creeks and hills to identify flowers, plants, amphibians, and insects. 

Bumblebee nest in birdhouse.jpg

I’m certain that my love of the natural world began as a child. As an adult, I have always felt it was important to share this passion with youth. Gardens offer a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment. Nature is a public health resource that is available to everyone. Since its springtime and we are all grounded, why not employ some fun activities that the entire family can enjoy together while practicing social distancing?

Here are a few ideas that I’ve implemented with my family and students over the years.

  1. 1. Begin a nature journal. Use a spiral binder, a notebook, or design a beautiful unique diary. Go outside and observe. Use crayons, markers, or paints to illustrate and chronicle what you see.
  2. 2. Record nature sounds. You’ll hear different sounds at various times of the day. Crickets chirping, frogs croaking, birds singing, water tricking, wind whistling, squirrels chattering, bees buzzing. Make a personal meditation recording on your smartphone.
  3. Bird houses on Moraga-Lafayette Trail.jpg
  4. 3. Underground exploration. The earth is crawling with activity. Underneath the surface of the soil, countless critters are busy at work. Go to a corner of your garden and gently dig up a trowel full of soil. What do you see? Earthworms? Millipedes? Sowbugs? Slugs? Are there spiders or other insects crawling? Note your findings in your nature journal.
  5. 4. Make a “stained glass” window. One of my favorite projects as a kid was picking pretty flowers to press. Instead of making a book, we made “stained glass” windows by pressing an arrangement of petals between two sheets of wax paper and ironing the wax paper. Make sure to place a thin dishcloth on top of the wax paper before ironing. The wax paper seals the flowers together creating a colorful window. Choose brightly colored flowers and dark green foliage that will lay flat. California poppy, bougainvillea, pansy, violets, rose petals, and nasturtium work especially well. Hang them with ribbon by a window to reflect the rainbow of hues.
  6. nasturtium for stained glass windows.jpg
  7. 5. Decorate your mailbox. Plant a climbing rose or trumpet vine at your mailbox to brighten your street. You’ll need to keep it shaped and pruned.
  8. Bonica roses and cornflags cover a mailbox.jpg
  9. 6. Grow a vegetable garden. Besides the ease and rapid sprouting of beets, radishes, and carrots, one of the most rewarding combinations to do with kids is to plant a Three Sisters Garden. If possible, give your child her own little plot so she will feel proud of being a farmer. The Iroquois Native Americans planted corn, beans, and squash for a balanced diet. Corn is a source of carbohydrates, beans offer proteins, and squash is filled with vitamins. The corn is the pole for the beans to climb while the squash grows low to the ground providing shade and keeping the soil moist. There is nothing tastier or more nutritious than home-grown food. Make sure to plant tomatoes and peppers now.
  10. 7. Plant herbs and flowers in containers. In several containers, sow seeds of your favorite herbs for seasonings. Dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, thyme, or mint. Sprinkle a few flower seeds for color. Cover with wire to keep the critters and birds out, using Christmas clips to secure the wire. Decorate with rocks, shells, or other trinkets that your kids have found.
  11. Container Garden with Christmas clips.jpg
  12. 8. Go on a tasting adventure. For this experience, an adult must know with 100% accuracy that a plant is edible because there are many toxic flowers and leaves in nature that can make us very sick or worse. This is an educational encounter that kids truly savor. Some unexpected plants that can be sampled include rose, nasturtium, fennel, calendula, dandelion, wild mustard, miner’s lettuce, and the berries of Oregon Grape. Leaves and flowers of all herbs can be sampled. Make sure there are no pesticides or insecticides on any of these specimens. Record the flavors in the journal. Do you find something sweet, sour, bitter, or something else? Emphasize the importance of knowing what is edible and what is poisonous before tasting anything. 
  13. oregon grape.jpg
  14. 9. Scavenger Hunt. Animals are always building, hunting, gathering, and scavenging. Take a walk around your backyard or a hike in the neighborhood to collect a few of nature’s discarded treasures. What did you find? An empty bird’s nest, twigs, acorns, feathers, bark, pinecones, or nuts? Design a natural art piece together.
  15. 10. Introduce animals. Children are naturally drawn to animals. Since grounding, I’ve noticed a huge uptick in people who have decided to buy newborn chickens, rabbits, birds, potbelly pigs, goats, dogs, and cats to familiarize their children or grandchildren with animal husbandry. As someone who was born and raised on a farm and has always been surrounded by animals, I’m a huge proponent…with this caveat. Remember that these adorable babies grow up to be adult animals who aren’t always so cuddly. They require food, water, grooming, shelter, and constant care throughout their lives. Raising any animal teaches discipline, responsibility, patience, kindness, gentleness, interdependence, and love. These are all magnificent virtues. Are you ready and prepared for the long haul?Cynthia teaching poultry to child.jpg

Gardening has many benefits for the physical and mental health of everyone in the family. According to the Centers for Disease Control, we burn approximately 330 calories per hour of gardening. Gardening lowers our blood pressure, it reduces depression, anxiety, and stress while increasing our wonder, happiness, and satisfaction. 

For the foreseeable future, we are all grounded, but we don’t have to endure a perpetual Groundhog Day. Expand the quality of daily living by proposing the joys of gardening and being one with nature to your children, teens, and community. Go outside and meander.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay sane. Cynthia Brian-sefie in the trees.jpg home.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more at

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

#coronavirus, #activitiesforkidsm#nature,#edibleplants,#tresaurehunts,,#ross,#hikes,,#stayhone, #spring,#chicens,#covid-19, #gardening, #cynthiabrian, #starstyle, #goddessGardener, #growingwiththegoddessgardener, #lamorindaweekly

How to Help Midlevel Leaders Grow and Develop

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How to Help Midlevel Leaders Grow and Develop

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The following blog is provided by Liz Kislik. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Defining Organizational Problems: Beyond Personal Experience that aired on May 26th, 2020.


Midlevel leaders are absolutely crucial to managing the guts of an organization and accomplishing its business. Unfortunately, even competent, up-and-coming leaders can languish if they don’t get appropriate developmental attention from their senior leaders, but those senior leaders sometimes expect junior leaders to develop on their own.

In an interview I did with Amir Ghannad for The Transformative Leader podcast, we talked about how senior leaders can provide the right input to middle managers to ensure they’re achieving their own successes and supporting the organization’s continued growth.

Be Intentionally, Persistently Curious

Leaders often think of middle managers in terms of their roles and responsibilities and form monolithic assumptions about how middle managers are expected to think and what their considerations are. But every individual takes action based on what seems best to them at the time. If their choices seem wrong, probe to find out their reasons.

When leaders think, “Oh, that’s trivial. That’s dumb. I’ll just tell them to knock it off,” they’re actually undercutting their subordinates’ autonomy and ability to adjust and perform better. If you ask what prompted middle managers’ actions or comments instead of making assumptions, you can approach them in a more open, less judgmental way and you’ll seem less like a know-it-all. You’re also more likely to take their opinions and concerns more seriously.

During our conversation, Amir told me about two skillful, productive people who had been in conflict for 12 years based on a single mistaken impression. Once the mistake came to light, the relationship improved dramatically, but it took months of probing to uncover the original misapprehension. Amir’s story demonstrates that no directive to behave differently can effectively cut through someone’s deeply held pain (even if that pain is unnecessary) — and how finally getting to the bottom of a long-held conflict is a true relief.

Partner on Problems and Perspectives

Say you do figure out where your midlevel leader is coming from. You can’t do an improvement to them. You may be able to see what needs to change, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to hear it. So, after finding out what they’re thinking, go to wherever the other person is mentally, and take their perspective rather than dictating to them from on high.

Unless it’s a true emergency, try to ignore your own reaction and the intensity of your beliefs about what would work better. Suppress your impulse to impose solutions, because when you slice through difficulties like the proverbial hot knife through butter, subordinates may not feel ownership for the situation. They may follow your directions but neglect to think broadly about costs and benefits, sequencing, or other operational details — even if they know more about operations than you do — and mistakes are more likely to be made.

Don’t Give Leaders Solutions; Teach Them How to Develop Solutions

The old saw, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!” is a common complaint among leaders who believe that their people don’t think and want to be spoon fed. Risk-averse middle managers may be comfortable having you act decisively and save them time and effort by telling them what to do. But in the long run, you build better solutions when more people contribute to them. And why create unnecessary dependency that slows down implementation and turns you into a bottleneck?

You may need to teach the people involved new ways of thinking and interacting if they’ve developed the habit of expecting you to call the shots. This kind of development requires coaching rather than directing. So, ask middle managers what factors lie under the scenarios they present, and to be explicit about pros and cons — not just as a general list, but as detailed, second-order potential consequences. Encourage them to hypothesize about why negative patterns recur and speculate about multiple potential alternatives.

As midlevel leaders begin to see you being consistently curious, open to their views, willing to partner, and supportive of their decision-making, not only will they be better partners for you but they also may start exhibiting those behaviors with their subordinates as well. That’ll help develop your next cadre of up-and-coming managers, and strengthen your organization from the bottom up.

Onward and upward —


To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Liz Kislik is a management consultant and executive coach, and a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and Forbes. Her specialty is developing high performing leaders and workforces, and she helps family-run businesses, national nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies like American Express, Girl Scouts, Staples, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Highlights for Children solve their thorniest problems. Her TEDx talk, “Why There’s So Much Conflict at Work and What You Can Do to Fix It,” has been viewed over 160,000 times. Liz received her BA from Yale University and earned an MBA in Management from NYU.

Photo by Christina Morillo

Steve Michelson – From One Pass to Sustainable Tomorrows, Innovator Supreme!

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Steve Michelson – From One Pass to Sustainable Tomorrows, Innovator Supreme!

We have the pleasure today to visit with Steve Michelson about “Making Media That Matters.” Steve Michelson is the Executive Producer for The Fund for Sustainable Tomorrows, a 501©3 non-profit specializing in supporting engagement campaigns around cause-related documentaries involving health, social justice, sustainability and the environment.

Two current projects that he is leading are the film Phil’s Camino and the mission to change the standard of care around cancer treatment.  The Fund is also managing the engagement around the release of the film 16Bars about the reentry of returning citizens to society from our prison system. Steve’s on line course, in association with Ringling College in Sarasota Florida, for the next generation of documentarians will launch this year as Making Media That Matters.

Michelson has functioned as Executive Producer on many award-winning films including: In Our Own Hands How Patients are Reinventing MedicineThe Third HarmonyScarred Lands and Wounded LivesNature’s Orchestra, Walking in Two Worlds, River of RenewalPower PathsBurning the FutureCrude ImpactOil on Ice and more.

From 2006-2019 Michelson was the Executive Producer at the Video Project, specializing in educational and institutional distribution of documentary films. His production studio operates out of his Ranch in Half Moon Bay, CA. called Lobitos Creek Ranch. It has been redesigned recently to accommodate retreats for organizations and groups that come to strategize on some of the challenging problems society faces.

Michelson was co-founder and president of One Pass, San Francisco’s largest production and post-production studio from 1975-85, before starting his own company in 1986. He is a recipient of the Gilbert Award for outstanding contribution to Northern California’s film community. He has served four terms as a Governor with the National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). Steve is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he attended The Annenberg School of Communications and the Wharton School of Business.

For more of my interviews exploring leaders in the entertainment business, make sure to check out my interviews with Glenn Ross, CEO Universal 1440 Entertainment; Scott Ross, VFX Specialist; Glenn Entis, former CEO Dreamworks Interactive; Maureen Fan, CEO Baobab Studios; Gary Gutierez, SFX Specialist; Cynthia Hsiung, Award-Winning Director/producer; and Steve Michelson, Award-winning Documentarian. You can find them all here on my playlist on the KIDS FIRST!  YouTube Channel:

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G


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                                                                              LOVE LIGHT GUEST TESTIMONIAL

                                                                                                    Milly Diericx

                                                                                     “Raising Consciousness to the Vibration of Love”

                                                                                                                           May 22, 2020


“Jean Farish  is a loving soul that helped me stay on track and made my interview a relaxed and enjoyable experience.  Her skill at interviewing reflects her inner harmony and her desire to be of service to her audience. VoiceAmerica was professional, thoughtful and kept me informed of everything I needed to know before, during and even after the interview took place.  An overall beautiful experience.  I hope my intervention was worthy of your professionalism and attention to detail.  Thank you Jean!”








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May 22, 2020
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


“You will be remembered forever by the tracks you leave.”~ 

Navajo saying


MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

Pre_post_Ep4-Cynthia_BrianHave a great holiday weekend!” Josh, our Voice America Radio engineer said to me after our broadcast on Wednesday. “Holiday?” I retorted. “What holiday?” “It’s Memorial Day…BBQ time,” responded josh.

Wow! I had totally forgotten about Memorial Day as we enter our 11th week of lock-down amidst this Covid-19 virus. Like most people, Memorial Day has always been a day of remembrance and a harbinger of the summer to come. In normal times, I celebrate with a BBQ with family and friends or enjoy a three day weekend get-away. Not this year!

On Monday, May 25th, 2020, my husband and I will honor the occasion in our backyard being grateful for health and remembering all the great occasions we have shared with others over the years. There is a silver lining to this pandemic. I believe that people are appreciating family, friends, health, work, and simple daily routines more than ever before. It’s so easy to take life for granted, until we don’t have a life. During sheltering-at-home, why not start growing your own food or plant pretty flowers to elevate your mood?  If you want to start gardening or learn more about it, check out any of these published articles. Get outside, exercise, breathe, and live.

On Tuesday, May 26, 2020, get a dose of inspiration and energy to boost your business and your life with a broadcast I did on Business Access with host Thiago De Souza. Here’s the link which will be LIVE on May 26th, but not before!: 

Bid on our online auction to promote your business, services, and products through June 20. More items will be added in the next week by iConnectx. Visit

Coronavirus has stopped the world. Perhaps now we will treasure one another more and understand the importance of taking care of our planet. We are on borrowed time. Since most of the globe has been sheltering-in-place, our earth is healing. In the next month as places open and people return to work, we must remember with clarity these past three months and do our part to save our species.

While we thank our Armed Forces for their sacrifice and service on Memorial Day, we salute First Responders, Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, and those in the front lines helping others through this rabid Covid-19, including Grocery Store Clerks, Postal Workers, Delivery Drivers, and all Essential Service Employees. We never realized how many people are necessary to make our world function. Thank you to our veterans, active service members, first responders, and our healthcare heroes.

When the crisis has ceased, life as we know it will be different. Let’s not forget any lessons learned. Let’s be vigilant, caring, respectful, kind, and grateful.

Let’s leave tracks of hope and love. Enjoy your weekend. Let’s Remember.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay sane. Stay home.

In solidarity,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

P.S. During the lock-down, I am available for consultations, webinars, interviews, or speaking via on-line sources only. If interested, email or visit



onairAs part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program, Be the Star You Are!® has collaborated with the Authors Guild to showcase the new books launched by many authors from around the country in a variety of genres. We will also be showcasing artists, actors, and musicians, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity and believe that books, art, music, and film provide escape and joy, especially during tough times. For the next few months, make sure you are tuned in to both StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Writers Wednesdays” LIVE as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays”,

See photos and descriptions of the shows and guests at

Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site as well as iTunes, Stitcher, etc. It’s a giant artistic festival!


If you want to jumpstart your business, service, or promote your products, IConnectx has created an online auction to benefit Be the Star You Are!® with opportunities for LIVe or pre-recorded radio interviews and phone or online consultations with Cynthia Brian. More auction items will be added in the following days. Auction ends on June 20th so start bidding right away to win. Visit:

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by Stephanie Cogeos

The basic definition of literacy is the ability to read and write. But it is also the ability to use those skills to understand, interpret, create and communicate effectively.

Literacy, in general, is vital to the growth and functioning and development of an individual, a culture, a society. Basic reading skills, starting at an early age, create opportunities for growth and continued learning throughout adulthood. Literacy aids in developing a strong sense of well-being and self-image. It allows one to make better sense of what is being said or written. It gives one the ability to create and contribute to a society.  Individuals who are literate can pull themselves out of negative situations or environments. It allows them to work, to learn and find higher job/career opportunities. Individuals who are not literate or have low literacy skills will have problems reading a book/newspaper or even understanding road signs or price labels, a bus timetable, job applications or even labels on medicine bottles. They may not be able to use the internet. Literacy is vital.

Literacy also affects peoples’ health and wellbeing. The more knowledge one has and knowing how to use that knowledge is critical in living a healthy and productive life. People without education are more prone to health problems and criminality. Understanding the world around us or at least trying to, is a little easier when one can use language and read and educate oneself and make ones’ own decisions based on what one learns.

Our society is very technologically oriented and one can find oneself lost in all of this. The more knowledge one has, the more a person has the ability to learn new skills and improve themselves and keep up with a changing society.

There are so many advantages to being literate. It is also fun and enjoyable to be able to learn new things and explore new ideas. Being literate effects many parts of a society and the people in that society. We should do everything we can to combat illiteracy.

Read Book Reviews by our Volunteers

Volunteer Stephanie Cogeos is our Book Review coordinator. She is now doing research to provide resources for the public to learn about the importance of literacy, positive media messages, and empowering women families, and youth. You can keep up with the resources at this link:

BTSYA 3 book series


the reading tub logoOur partner, The Reading Tub, publishes thousands of reviews for kids books, many written by BTSYA volunteers. Check it out:


Positive Results:

About Us:


How to Help:



Contact us:


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We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:

What tracks are you leaving?


BTSYA High Res Logo Read Lead SucceedWe are thrilled and grateful to Thiago DeSouza for creating a new video for Be the Star You Are!® based on our mission of encouraging everyone to be a life-long learner. Check out our video on Youtube at

Cynthia Brian is a guest on Episode 4 of Business Access with Thiago where the motto is “Give Your Business the Mic!” Listen on May 26th at

(The above link won’t work until May 26th or later, or bookmark it)

Thiago will be guest on StarStyle® Radio to talk about positivity on July 8th at 4:15pm Pt. Listen at


Cynthia Brian books bannerIf you need a dose of inspiration, humor, and positivity, check out our books at All of the money from purchases benefits Be the Star You Are!® and you get extra goodies when you buy direct. Plus, these are first editions and can be custom autographed for you. www.StarStyleStore.Net

Raise your eyes to the STARS and shine!


Since we need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary, these are on-line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials,

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1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases

2. Discounted books at Amazon:

3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:

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& buy from your favorite stores.

4. Search and GoodShop: Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too!

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE:

6. BTSYA Logo Store:

7. Buy or Sell on EBAY:

8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell:

9. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” T-shirts and tanks $19.99 at StarStyle® Store:

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10. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle.

We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

Classified Ads:

If you’d like to advertise your service or product while supporting Be the Star You Are!®, we are now accepting approved ads that will benefit readers. Contact for details.


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STAY SAFE! We are in this together while we stay apart.Cyn-</h3>

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Tel: (925)-377-STAR

PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556



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