Life Coach & Designer, Dreams Will Come
Posted on: February 14, 2012 | Go to profile
Believing that the practice of lifestyle design is equally important as artistic design, Mimi combines her unique experiences as a psychologist and visual artist to “give thoughts visible form.” Fueled by the mission to dispel the belief in fear, anxiety and depression as absolute truths, Mimi combines techniques to retrain her clients’ neural grooves, old READ MORE »
Q: If a business has has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: The greatest innovations are sparked out of necessity … whether they result out of the need for financial, professional, or personal growth, innovation is intimately linked to our instinct for survival. Considers NASA’s race to the moon and the ensuing technology and innovation that resulted from that endeavor. That “misson” is now history, but the innovations that arose from that singular purpose (think Velcro, Teflon, the microwave oven) are now part of our everyday lives. As a nation, we were inspired by a dream. We expected to get there first. And we were supported to take every conceivable action to make it so.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and brought you to where you are today.
A: When I think back on “the signs” that brought me to the multi-faceted career I have today as a coach, designer, and artist, I am reminded of my 6th birthday for which I insisted I design my own ice cream cake decorated with the colorful critters I had been drawing from my imagination. At that time, I was also enamored with reading the unabridged Webster’s dictionary and the set of Encyclopedia Brittanica that graced my bookshelves. (Yes, we read hardbound printed matter back in those days —it was the 70’s, after all!). I believe it was this early love of words and images that steered me to the career I enjoy today.
Getting from that birthday to where I am today, however, was an indirect path. Due to some personal hardships, my journey has taken quite a few twists and turns. Ultimately, however, these challenges have strengthened my sense of purpose and vision, adding the power of experience, education, and resourcefulness to the tools I offer today as coach and designer.
Q: 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: 1). Clear vision = Articulated and purposeful thinking, an uncommon quality to possess
2). Integrity = Inspired action aligned with commitment to a vision against—and in spite of—all odds; no excuses!
3). Thoughtful communication = Exceptional speaking, writing and interpersonal skills, all of which set an example to build a unified culture while commanding respect and imitation.
Q: Innovation requires creative thinking. How do you tap into the creative thinking resources within your business?
A: The greatest innovations are sparked out of necessity…whether they result out of the need for financial, professional, or personal growth, innovation is intimately linked to our instinct for survival. Consider NASA’s race to the moon and the ensuing technology and innovation that resulted from that endeavor. That “mission” is now history, but the innovations that arose from that singular purpose (think Velcro®, Teflon®, the microwave oven) are now part of our everyday lives. As a nation, we were inspired by a dream. We expected to get there first. And we were supported to take every conceivable action to make it so.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: A mind at rest is a mind at best. I personally achieve and maintain this state of mind by taking a bath, practicing meditation and yoga, committing to daily exercise, and eating a clean diet. Where there is mental clutter, there is almost always visual clutter. This is, in fact, one of the principle reasons I became a designer. I believe that by weeding and minding our personal space, we nurture our minds, which directly affects our mood and outlook. In practice, maintaining an inspired living/work space is proven to have a positive affect on our psyche.
On “vision”, it’s important to note that, we can only focus on the “big picture” if we know what we want or where we want to go. My experience in coaching and design is that many people don’t take the time to figure this out and then chide themselves for feeling foggy. My antidote is to schedule in the time like a doctor’s appointment (even if it’s just 5 minutes a day on your commute and you make the notes on your iPhone). Carving out a personal vision statement allows focus. Having something articulated on paper (preferably with words and images) helps keep things in balance and perspective—even at the busiest of times.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating? Can you share a personal story of successful negotiation that leaped you forward?
A: Take a good look at where you learned or decided that asking for what you want is a bad thing….once you see that this is a rouse keeping you from achieving your potential, you may find it easier to let go of this old way of thinking. When you get that out of the way, you get your way! Stand firm in your resolve.
When you know your worth and expect nothing less, that is what you receive. When I stopped giving my work away for free (or for less than I know it to be worth), I began attracting better paying, more lucrative gigs and clients. The biggest chasm here is the one between desire and expectation. The physical distance between your heart and your head is relatively short, but the space between them can be enormous. You may want and pray for something until the cows come home, but wishing and hoping alone won’t make it so. What will make it manifest is the aligning of inspired action with positive expectation.
Some of the simplest, tactical tips I can offer are: write down the specifics of your proposal, practice your delivery in the mirror and/or in front of a friend, videotape yourself (highly recommended) to see how you come across in your execution. Write down what you want in one column and see how that compares to what you expect in another column….you might also consider working with a coach.
Q: What do you believe makes a great brand?
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: In addition to my artistic talent, education, years of experience and communication skills, I believe it is my joie de vivre, humor and passion for all that I do that gives me my unique flavor, i.e. “brand”.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: My husband and I are expecting our first daughter this winter…and what I wish for her is “no fear!” in this department. Figuring out who we are and what we want to be should be a joyful exploration. I will encourage her get out there and experience as many different fields and arenas as possible until she arrives at her list of ideals. The truth is there is no perfect job. We probably need to design and carve out a niche for ourselves in this day and age. Nonetheless, every opportunity brings lessons and learning, all of which help put the puzzle pieces together. Love the process and enjoy the people you meet along the way. Revel in the diversity you are exposed to. Marvel at the doors that open to you because of your nubile age. Time is on your side. Know that the more enthusiasm and energy you bring to your investigation and research, the sooner you will have your answer.
Q: What or who in your life gives you the strength to persevere? Is there an example in your life of a time when others were against you or your dream, yet you persevered?
A: My husband is my rock. He believes in me unconditionally. When we met, I was 24 and embarrassed to call myself an artist. I could barely tell people at parties what I did for a living when they asked. Until he came into my life, I had felt unsupported in my dream to be a professional artist because my academic family discouraged me from pursuing what they deemed as an “alternative” career path. After college, I ventured out on my own with an innate need to make art; I also carried a burning desire for a graduate degree. Miraculously, I still expected I would get (at least) one, in spite of the reality that I lacked the practical means to make it happen. My husband supported me in more ways than I can count to finally fulfill my dream of earning a master of science in art and design. All of this occurred in my mid 30s, at a time when I thought all hope was lost. The turn of events that culminated (overnight acceptance, followed by funding assistance, teaching opportunities, and merit awards) affirms my belief that anything we expect for ourselves is possible.
Q: What do you think is the key to happiness?
A: In my coaching practice, I use the metaphor of trueing a wheel, which you already appreciate if you happen to be a cyclist. When we true a wheel, we tweak and create balance over time in order to ride at optimum speeds with enjoyment and efficiency. When the wheel is trued we feel like we can fly….I have observed that we are our best selves and at our happiest when we are ‘trued’, i.e. aligned with action. You’ll note that where you are happiest with your circumstances correlates with where you bring your focus and attention through repeated action/habit. Where you are unhappy, you will note you are slacking. We all know that even a tiny action in the direction of our ideals can lift our spirits when we’re feeling down. So, if you’re ever feeling off, do the one thing you think you don’t want to do and giggle as things start to shift back into balance. This trick has never failed me!
ON Taking Risk
Q: Usually reaching something great or grand in life requires taking a risk. What has been your greatest risk so far and how was it rewarding?
A: The biggest most rewarding risk has been forging my own career path. I do what I love in spite of the odds and the warnings I was given. I opted to follow my instincts rather than the traditional paths subscribed. I followed “the signs” and I listened to my heart. In my misguided youth, I allowed faith to lead. Though, in truth, if I had rationalized what I was doing, fear could have stopped me in my tracks. The risk was to let things unfold without forcing a timeline or ascribing to an already charted dependable path to success.
Q: Oprah has that great section in her magazine “What I know for sure.” What do you know for sure?
A: What I know for sure is that I am a survivor…I have the knack for reinventing and redesigning myself. I have faith in my ability to recover from setbacks and I am confident knowing that my creativity trumps any obstacle or hurdle that comes my way.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: Exercise, nutrition, play
Q: In theory, one should prioritize their own health in order to be in the best state to take care of others (family, kids, work, etc.). But in reality, I’ve found that women often take care of themselves last. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Women who choose to take care of themselves last usually don’t see it as the choice that it is. Most often this is because that is the model that was set for them growing up. As a mother-to-be, I am highly aware of the fact that part of being a good role model or mother is first taking care of myself, i.e. putting my own oxygen mask on first. I can’t be the great mother, wife, coach, designer, and friend I endeavor to be if I don’t set the example by keeping myself in optimal shape. It is my responsibility and privilege to care for this body I have been given to inhabit as an instrument of my creativity.
Q: What place in the world has the most sentimental value to you and why?
A: Having traveled the world, NYC has the most sentimental value to me…I came to NYC for college, rented my first apartment in Soho, and became a self- sufficient adult in this city. There is also nothing quite like being welcomed back through customs to the city that never sleeps after a long trek overseas. Aside from the modern conveniences and lifestyle, there is, as Dorothy says, no place like home.
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite destinations?
A: Italy, Greek isles, home (NYC)
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite places to get lost?
A: The steam room, cuddling on the couch with my husband, sivasana
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite places to shop?
A: Online, on vacation, Century21
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite restaurants?
A: Pure Food & Wine (nyc), Coast@shutters on the beach (Santa Monica), Cornerstone@the park hyatt (Seoul)
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Eclectic modern
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: Alexander McQueen, Narciso Rodriguez, Valentino
Q: What is your best buy ever?
A: Jean Paul Gaultier silk bustier ($20) or Dolce and Gabbana white silk evening gown ($69) (Century 21 steals)
ON Cooking & Food
Q: If you love to cook, can you share a favorite recipe?
A: Butternut Squash Soup w/ Star Anise (+ Optional Ginger Shrimp)
24 large shrimp (about 1 lb), peeled and deveined (I prefer “rock shrimp” if available)
1 Tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup chopped shallot (sometimes I add as much as an entire red or Spanish onion…veg. amounts are loose)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (I sometimes use as much as 6 cloves depending on the season)
3 whole star anise
1 3/4 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (5 cups) normally I use organic PRECUT chunks (cutting these puppies is a major gonzamagilla)
2 cups lo sodium organic chicken stock or veg. broth (add 50% water to reduce sodium to make at least 4 cups liquid)
truffle salt (or sea salt) to taste (no more than a pinch)
1 tablespoon truffle oil (or organic EVOO)
curry to taste
fresh cilantro sprigs (garnish)
Toss shrimp with ginger in a bowl and marinate, chilled, 30 minutes (do not marinate any longer or enzymes from ginger will begin to cook shrimp). Make soup while shrimp marinate. Cook shallot, garlic, and anise in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 5 minutes. Add squash, stock, and water and simmer, uncovered, until
squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove star anise. Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender (use caution blending hot liquids) until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch, then transfer to cleaned pan and keep warm, covered. Sprinkle marinated shrimp with salt. Heat oil in a 12” nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shrimp in 2 batches, stirring, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per batch, transferring to paper towels. Bring soup to a simmer and season to your liking. Divide among soup bowls and mound shrimp in each bowl. Note: Soup (without shrimp) can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. If making soup ahead, begin marinating shrimp about 40 minutes before serving.
ON Cooking & Food
Q: If you were stranded on an island and could have an unlimited source of 3 foods (and calories were not a concern), what would they be?
A: Branzino, Gazpacho, Fruit (it’s what I imagine wanting to eat on an island!)