Posts by: diana

To Friend, Or Not to Friend…and More Controversially, to Un-Friend

Evil is unspectacular and always human,

And shares our bed and eats at our own table,

And we are introduced to Goodness every day.

Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;

he has a name like Billy and is almost perfect

But wears a stammer like a decoration:

And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;

It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover

And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,

And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.
W. H. Auden

Last week, evil, with spectacular cunning and self-congratulatory malice, picked a quarrel and succeeded, sweeping so many of us downriver in a torrent of grief. I am still fighting for purchase, gasping for air and looking for something to hold onto as I struggle to reconcile a sadness that for the moment, is beyond reckoning.

The morning after the election I awoke hoping for some intervening middle-of-the-night miracle. It seemed impossible that a man, who through his own reprehensible words and actions demonstrated he was unfit to serve as this country’s leader, had been elected. And yet, there it was—there was no magical out. His ascension revealed a fracturing within America that was far worse than we had imagined, forcing me to accept that my beautiful, beloved and wholly imperfect America—the one I grew up with, was proud of, the one that I have always had such high hopes for—had died. In no small measure, it helped steady my grief to know that the majority of my Facebook community felt the same way. Their morning-after thoughts a welcome salve on the wounds of my post-election despair.

But there was also the “other” side of my Facebook community: people whose values—and this is not necessarily limited to political leanings—proved so grossly misaligned with my own. The bombastic “know betters” and self-proclaimed pedants who, through derisive and inflammatory comments, sought to tell me how I should feel, what I should believe, how I should act. Some posts and comments so outrageous that I, a woman not given to rage, found myself engaging in spiteful fantasies of recrimination not worthy of my better self. Further evidence that this deeply polarizing election has given rise to a nearly unprecedented mean-spiritedness (and that is a diplomatic characterization) in public forums that I for one have had enough of.

This was not the vision I had of Facebook when I began to build my community. Perhaps I didn’t think about it enough—I simply presumed it would be a place where like-minded friends could kick off their shoes and be themselves with impunity. But on reflection, I suppose it makes perfect sense that what I’ve ended up with is a community that doesn’t always make sense. In the early days of Facebook, I got caught up in its intoxicating novelty—friending everyone I met and failing to bring the notion of discernment into the equation. But the time has come to exercise agency, because now more than ever I want and need to feel at home within my community. I want to feel that my Facebook friends—even the ones I don’t know that well—are people whom I would wholeheartedly welcome into my home.

And in my house, first and foremost, we observe and promote basic rules of civility and human decency. We are not nasty or unkind. We acknowledge and support each other’s feelings and opinions, and when we have different points of view, we do not berate or bully or intimidate. When emotions run high, we are tender with one another.

In my house, we believe that “love is love is love.” We support gay marriage. We support people’s right to determine their own sexuality and sexually identify in whatever way is right for them.

We believe that all men and WOMEN of all races are created equal. Full stop.

We believe in religious freedom and further, that religious beliefs are personal and should not be imposed on anyone else—and that extends to the right to not believe in anything at all.

Not everyone is welcome in my house. There are only so many spaces around my table, and if my values are not in line with yours, I respectfully ask you to leave a seat open for someone else.

This is not simply a matter of politics, although certainly, that is a motivation. Trying to sell me on Donald Trump’s finer points is akin to trying to convince me that Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy. It won’t work, so please stop.

But there is another driving force behind this and that is my desire to create a community of people who legitimately care about who I am, what my values are, what I can contribute to the conversation.

If you friended me years ago and don’t remember why or who I am; please feel free to exit. If your interest in me is professional, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

If we elect to leave one another’s communities, it doesn’t mean that we can’t interact meaningfully and congenially in other ways. But this is my home and I want—and deserve to be—fully comfortable within it. And so do my guests.

Writing Your Life: Six-Word Stories

If you are not a word-lover, the fact that April is National Poetry Month probably doesn’t even register on your ‘I find that mildly interesting’ scale.  But for those of us who are, it’s right up there alongside British Period Dramas and French Cinema…..and of course…..Girls.

I think what I love most about poetry can be distilled down to one word: economy.  I have always marveled at the way great poets and lyricists manage to do so much with so little.  How they can tell a story of staggering heartbreak in just a few lines.  Tom Waits (who I think is one of the great poets of all time) does this consistently.  Sometimes humorously, and at others, with such powerful dramatic punch, it brings me to my knees.  DylanLeonard Cohen.  The poet-songwriter list goes on and on.

The notion of ‘economy’ brings me to another poetic marvel––Six-Word Stories, which even if you’re not a lover of words, you might actually love these.

Six-Word Stories as an art form, was allegedly started (allegedly, because it has never been verified) by Ernest Hemingway, who was challenged by a literary agent to tell a story powerfully and completely, in just six words.  Here’s his story:

For Sale:
Baby shoes. Never worn.

-E. Hemingway

Here’s my one word response:  Wow.

Smith Magazine spring-boarded the Hemingway Six Word into a group of successful books.  One of which, was given to me by a very lovely man (you know who you are) who I stepped out with a few years back.  It is titled “Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak By Writers Famous and Obscure.” There are ‘wows’ aplenty within those covers, let me tell you.  (And some good laughs too.)  Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites:

Not interested.

-Stephanie Gerst

Now I hate hearing that song.

-T’Anna Holst

I trusted her forever.
Good choice.

-Nate Koechley

You holding my hair,
me puking.

-Diana Greiner

Romantic comedies screwed me for life.

-Daniela Medina

Which brings me to my Six-Word thinking challenge for you:

If you were going to write your life story in six words, what would it be?  Would you be happy with your Six-Word Story?  If not, what needs to change in order to create a re-telling of your story?

My Six-Word Challenge has got me thinking; that’s for sure.  And while I’ve yet to write mine (and I will) what I know, is that making the courageous decision to follow my passion to write, has meant even if I’m not quite there yet, (with the happy ending) I sure am getting close.

I’ll end with an excerpt of a Raymond Carver poem I’ve posted before.  I’m sharing this with you because when I read it for the first time several years ago, I realized I was not happy with the trajectory of my life story.  And while I had absolutely no idea how to change that, I committed to embarking on a truth-seeking quest to figure it out.  After a journey than has been in equal measure painful and wonderful, I can happily say, I’ve narrowed the chasm–––I’m getting closer to feeling myself “beloved on this earth.”

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Writing Wisdom: Lessons on Business and Life #1

Wow…what a CapD Difficult few weeks it has been.  Every victory earned was hard fought and I’m exhausted.  Throw in a couple personal life challenges, and oy vey, I feel like I need a week in Hawaii being catered to by __________________ (insert fantasy of choice.)

I just finished editing another section of my novel to 99.99% completion (2 down; 3 to go) and I’m over-the-moon thrilled with how it turned out.  BUT (and there are some big buts here––and probably a double entredre too) it cost me big.

If I were going to sum-up these last several weeks, I would call them the “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” weeks.  (For any of my coaching clients reading this; take those words seriously to heart.)

Now, none of the lessons learned here are new lessons.  These are things I know.  These are mistakes I should be well past making––that is, if I were a perfect, flawless human.  Which sadly, I’m not.  No matter how evolved any of us likes to think we are, evolution demands constant vigilance––get a little sloppy, and we are right back where we started.

First, let me start by saying that writing this novel has been the most demanding, terrifying, lonely thing I’ve ever done.  Taking a company public and dealing with Wall Street analysts?  Easy.  Raising $100 million revolving line-of-credit when your business is missing its numbers?  Piece of cake.  Writing a novel?  Makes those Saw movies look like Disney.

But here’s the good news––writing a novel has also proven to be an extraordinary microcosm for business and life, in a way that has allowed me to get very clear on belief systems and fundamental truths.

I’ve thought a lot about why this is and I think it comes down to the solitary nature of art.  As a writer, everything is up to you.  You ARE your whole company.  You are responsible for everything good and not so good that happens.  You can’t say, “Yeah, I design great shoes, but those developers can’t figure out how to get them made.”  You are designer, developer, manufacturer.  You are also marketing and sales.  And finance.  Writing a book is like funding a start-up.  You’re doing this on spec.  Bills still need to get paid even when you’re not.  (Want to talk about scary?)

What’s great about this, is that if you show up to your process and pay attention, you learn lessons in a way that really makes them stick.  Bottom line?  You have no choice but to learn them, because there’s no one else to fall back on.

So….getting down to it… are some of the business and life lessons writing taught (strike that, reminded me of) these last few weeks:

1)  Some things are not worth saving.  (Employees, relationships, product lines, 100s of pages of story.)  And when you try and save things you shouldn’t; it always, always, ALWAYS, costs you.  Cut your losses early and quickly––as difficult as it may be.

2)  Some things are not exactly right, but may be worth saving.  That beautiful, moving paragraph that you keep trying to insert in this chapter?  (That wonderful human and dedicated employee that just isn’t right in sales?)  You may be able to ‘cut and paste’ them out of sales and try them somewhere else.  You may end up with a win, but you still have to be willing to let them go.

3)  Nobody wins if you work so hard you kill yourself.  I nearly burned down the house twice.  Got so involved in my work, I was absolutely oblivious to everything going on in the world around me.  (Like food on the stove, showering, buying groceries, getting exercise.)  I managed to forget that I was not only writing a book, but training for a half-marathon.  To achieve that goal I actually needed to get out of my pjs and show up at the track.  I have one word people, BALANCE!  And I was lousy at it.  You may like to think the work benefits when you’re being obsessive, but it doesn’t, it suffers.  Always.  (And by the way, the bad OCD gremlin inside me still doesn’t want to believe that, but I keep telling her, it’s true.  Because it is.  Really.  I mean it.)

4)  Nothing good happens without perseverance, hard work and tenacity.  The old ‘life is a marathon, not a sprint’ thing.  You have to show up every day ready to play your best game, even when you’re tired, or scared, or just plain blue.  Some days the work is so hard, you feel like throwing in the towel.  But you can’t.  Not if it is good work; not if it is the work you’re meant to do.

5)  Measures of success need remeasuring. Your victories don’t have to be grand, they can be simple.  Like finishing a paragraph or a sentence that gave you fits; coaching an employee out of a bad attitude.  It’s not just about hitting the NY Times best-selling list, or taking your company public––it’s all that stuff in the middle––all those points along your journey that represent victories.  Don’t set yourself up for future devastation by creating unrealistic measures of success.  Please, don’t do that to yourself––not in life, or business or art.  Be kind.

6)  Real success only occurs in the absence of ego.  Probably the greatest benefit that I’ve experienced through writing, is the ability to take criticism non-defensively.  This is big.  Huge big.  I was never any good at this before, but I am now.  I have one clear, precise goal:  That is, to write the best novel I possibly can.  Any feedback I get that helps me do that?  Bring it on.  Don’t go easy on me and do NOT hold back.  And most of all, don’t tell me what you think I want to hear.  Tell the truth.  Let there be no naked emperors in the room.  (CEOs everywhere, take heed.)

7)  Coaching matters.  One of the things I feel most blessed by, is my relationship with my editor and writing coach, Marcia Meier.  Marcia has been my champion throughout this journey––has seen me through incredible self-doubt and fear; has held my hand and encouraged me when I was ready to walk away.  There is no way––and I mean NO WAY––I would have developed into the writer I am today without her support.  The right coach––the one who can tell you the hard stuff in a way that enables you to hear it from a place of power––is invaluable.  Our relationship has grown over the last two years into something quite magical––it has reminded me of the power of community and team.  My team is smaller than it was when I was CEO-ing, but it is no less important.  Surrounding yourself with people who see your vision and are committed to helping you achieve success, is not only important, it is the cornerstone of creating exceptional product.  It makes all the difference in the world.

I’m going to stop here: There are many other things that could make the list, but I’ll hold them for later.  Right now, I’m remembering that old balance initiative and stepping away from the keyboard.  Time to get into my running clothes, and after that, I think it might be a good idea to get something other than coffee into this old house of mine.

Happy weekend to all, and special love to my Boston homies.  We Massachusetts folk are made of tough stuff, and don’t you forget it.

The ‘Yeah But’ Brigade

I’d follow my passion, but…..

I’d ask for the promotion, but…..

I’d launch a new company, but…..

Yeah, but he’s already made his money so he can afford to follow his passion.

Yeah, but she’s luckier than I am, that’s why she’s thriving.

Yeah, but it’s a really difficult time economically.

And so on, and so on, and quite boringly, so on.

We’ve got just one life….

Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste one more precious moment of it being part of “The ‘Yeah But’ Brigade?”

Finding Your Voice….Without Losing Your Mind

Eventually, it happens to all of us.

Some sooner; others more later than does them good.  A lucky few have it from the get go.  For the rest of us, it comes to us as it will.

New life; mid-life; end of life.  Job lost; job found.  Joy.  Tragedy.  Marriage.  Divorce.  Mercury in retrograde.  Full Moon.  No moon.  Too many hormones; too few.

The Tipping Point.  The Unstoppable Groundswell.  The “Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take it Anymore,” show-stopping line in the sand.

The day we wake up and say, “I’m done.”   Done with a major, tattooed capital D done.

Done.  Over.  Through.  Mad as hell, DONE.

Done with the  misogynistic boss; the sabotaging, subversive employee; the condescending coworker. Had enough of the hypercritical in-law; the gossipmonger frenemy.  ‘Bout ready to pop the discounting spouse; the attorney with attitude; the crappy contractor.  So completely over the client who takes advantage; the abusive customer; the snotty service rep.

We’re no longer willing to be discounted, degraded or deliberately demeaned.  We’ve finally found our voice.  And we’re ready to tell the world.

We shower-script our exits; rehearse ‘I’ll show you’ speeches; plot befitting endings while streaming old episodes of Dexter.  In short, we get a tad bit carried away.

And though I am sorry to interrupt, (since you are clearly having a very good time) I do have to urge you (most vehemently, in fact) to pull back those reins.  Because, Nellie, you’re about ready to get yourself into one mighty big heap of trouble.

So, take that resignation letter out of the inbox; put away the pepper spray; redact that tweet and consider this:

1) The Dastardly Nature of Drastic Measures.  Do not blow up your life.   Are you listening?  I’ll say it again, because it’s very, very important:  Do not blow up your life.  (At least not without thinking things through.)  You are in the middle of your very own existential tsunami so get advice; give it time.  If after exhausting all the ‘let’s fix this’ alternatives, you still believe that drastic measures are required, then okay.  But first, develop a rational plan, vet it with your ‘team’ and then go forward; clearly, soberly.

2) The Continuum of Pent-Up Demand.   Think of your emotions as points on a continuum.  By staying silent, you’ve been hanging out at zero.  When you finally get in touch with how angry you are, (about having swallowed your words for soooooo long) you’ll find yourself suddenly rocketed into the land of ten.  Productive change happens at that place in the middle.  Stay cool until you find it.

3) The Complexities of Anger.  Anger turned inward leads to depression; turned outward, can get you twenty-to-life.  Own your anger, but find appropriate, self-supporting ways to express it.  (Kickboxing is a personal favorite.  Nothing like punching that bag.)  Imposing your anger on someone else?  Not so much.

4) It’s Not Their Fault.  If you’ve gone for years letting ‘them’ get away with it, then ask yourself, who’s really at fault here?  Before you shoot, think about how you have enabled ‘their’ bad behavior.  And then ask yourself, is this relationship, this job, worth saving?  What would need to happen to make it productive, positive and healthy?  And from there, be the instrument of change.

5) It May Not Work; They May Not Get It.   Or, ‘they’ may not care enough to get the relationship back on track no matter what you do.  Finding your voice, invariably means leaving people and situations behind.  It’s just the way it is.  Which is not to say it’s easy; because it’s not––but you will get through it––you will.  And remember, you don’t need to make those big break-up speeches, nor do you have to detach completely.  Sometimes distance is all that is required; at others, it will be better to ‘go gentle into that good night.’

It may take time to find the right melody, the steady beat, but eventually, you will find that pitch perfect voice of yours.  It takes practice, but it’s there, waiting to shine through.


Nowhere in any dictionary is selling defined as: “The act of brow-beating a person or persons over the head until they see things your way.”

Nor does it involve exasperated outbursts or theatrical arm-throwing when ‘they just don’t get it.’

Selling is a relationship; simple and clean.  You give; you get.

Every time they don’t get it, ask yourself if you’re doing everything in your power to make sure they will.

And if they still don’t get it, maybe it’s time to find the audience and tribe who will.

Editing and Closets

Editing a book––or conquering any big, complex project––is a bit like organizing a closet that hasn’t been cleaned in years.

The first time you look inside and realize the scope and magnitude of what you’re dealing with, you want to RUN FOR THE HILLS.  So much stuff.  So many memories.  You feel attached to all of it.

When you finally muster the courage to take that closet on, you begin by dividing things into segments.  What you haven’t worn; what is torn and tattered; the things that no longer fit.  After awhile, patterns begin to emerge––you see that you have 400 black dresses, a single white t-shirt and only a few things with a smattering of color.  Tells you a little something about balance.

After that first pass––while you’ve gotten rid of the obvious––you still have more than you need.  You’re still having a hard time letting go because you can’t get past what it cost you to acquire those 400 black dresses; the long hours of work you had to put in to pay for them.

With each pass, you get a little more discerning; things get easier.  You’re able to say, “Even though it cost me, it doesn’t look good on me; it no longer fits.”

You keep the cycle going until you are down to the essentials––the base and foundation.  And then it becomes glaringly obvious where the holes are.  And you fill those in.  And when you’re done, you can start tweaking; adding a belt here, a shoe there––a polish and a rub.

Editing––like any big project––does not have to be overwhelming.  You just have to stand back and think before you begin.  Organize, break things down in small bites, detach from ‘what is’ and envision ‘what can be.’  And when you’re ready, you’ll know exactly where and how to begin.

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