I’m an executive coach, leadership facilitator and mindfulness teacher.
I'm passionate about conscious leadership and helping people be their best and brightest selves. In addition to coaching leaders and facilitating L&D courses at Facebook, I teach mindfulness classes to employees working at tech start-ups as well as larger companies and organizations, including Whole Foods Market, LVMH, Sephora, Cisco, Adobe, the San Francisco Giants, Stanford University, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Forest Service Department. I teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at UCSF and the San Francisco Zen Center.
I launched shinebright in 2009 to bring greater focus, impact and leadership to hyper-accelerated and always-on workplaces that constantly demand greater levels of productivity and efficiency. I'm hardly a stranger to this world.
My career began at TBWA/Chiat Day, one of the world's leading creative agencies. This was a perfect starting point for me, as I've long been passionate about and inspired by, great creative and design—whether manifested through beautiful art, photography, technology, product design, architecture, urban planning, garden landscapes, fashion or film. It was at TBWA/Chiat Day and later, EURO and BBDO, where I began learning and honing the nuanced art of inspiring creative teams to develop their best work.
Eventually I sought greater influence on the totality of a brand, including product design, digital experience, retail environments and employee engagement, to name a few. So I shifted my focus to brand strategy and design. I had a chance to partner with some of the world's best designers at Siegel + Gale and later, Landor. I also worked at Doblin, an innovation strategy firm, where I partnered with teams of anthropologists using empathy and human-centeredness to be intuitive, recognize patterns and create ideas for new offerings. Over the years, I helped build the brands and businesses of American Express, Citi, Barclay's, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, HP, Fujitsu, Gillette, Nestlé, Pfizer, Bayer, Disney, McDonald's, MTV, Nike and New Balance; worked with institutions including Feeding America, the CLIF Bar Foundation, Social Venture Network, Encore Careers, San Francisco Film Society, TEDx and Stanford University; and partnered with a range of start-ups, in industries from technology and software to solar energy to organic food. I also had the opportunity to work on the client side at ebay and Charles Schwab, where I learned what it takes to build a brand from the inside out.
The nature of my work required that I multi-task at lightning speed, always striving to be one step ahead of consumers and competitors, and to be first to market with a new product, service or innovation offering. I was on the move incessantly. I visited more than 30 countries, lived out of a suitcase and sometimes even lost track of the airport through which I was traveling! Fast forward 20 years: The cumulative stress of my intense, fast-paced and often dizzying life finally caught up to me and I begun to suffer severe and frequently debilitating lower back pain.
Yet setbacks are often turning points in disguise. And 2009 was the year I experienced both. Visits to the orthopedist, physical therapist and acupuncturist didn’t help much to resolve the back pain I was experiencing. Then I took a science-based mindfulness class at UCSF, one of the country’s leading medical and research centers. I had been meditating since the early 1980's when I was competing as a junior tennis player in sectional and national tournaments. My coach introduced me to meditation to help me reconnect with my breath, be centered and play each shot at a time. And it helped. But I had not practiced Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a form of mind-body meditation that involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. The 8-week MBSR class helped me learn important practices that transformed my relationship to the present moment and, as a consequence, to stress and the related pain I'd been carrying in my lower back. Because I'd been in automatic-pilot mode, unconsciously reacting to stress and the frenetic demands of a 24/7 connected world, I was unaware of how my body was being affected by my environment, my actions, and even by my own thoughts and emotions. I realized I had been missing an essential area of my life experience—that of my own body.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese poet nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, points to this process when he writes: "Mindfulness is revealing and it is healing." By learning how to pay attention to the richness of the present moment, everything began to slow down. There was much room. Spaciousness. Vivid awareness. From this place of calm and stillness, I was able to listen, acknowledge and attend to the messages my body was sending me. Instead of unconsciously reacting, I began consciously responding to the variety of ordinary moments, as well as the highly charged situations in my life.
This heightened moment to moment awareness led me to wake up to new ways of seeing, being and acting. My life (and fortunately, my back) changed for the better. I left my job as Managing Director of a boutique brand innovation firm to pursue a different type of work—one that advocates slowing down to speed up, and helps employees and teams perform at their best through executive coaching, mindfulness training and leadership facilitation programs. Since then, I've deepened my own practice by spending restorative time in nature, meditating with Tibetan Monks, climbing Machu Picchu, gazing at the dark velvet starry sky above Martha's Vineyard and, closer to home, going on mindfulness meditation retreats here in Northern California. These practices have helped me open to an even deeper sense of awareness and connectedness—to myself, to others and to life itself.
In terms of my education, I graduated from Penn with a degree in Economics. I’m a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and a graduate of the CTI Leadership Program. I'm a Google Search Inside Yourself Certified Teacher™ and a Potential Project Certified Teacher™. I'm also a graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Practicum with Bob Stahl, MBSR Teacher Development Intensive and MBSR Professional Teacher Training with Saki Santorelli and Jon Kabat-Zinn from the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical Center. Born in New York, I grew up in Connecticut and now live in San Francisco.