What I learned from a $5,000 workshop

What I learned from a $5,000 workshop

I'm a big Tim Ferriss fan...

…and have been since The 4-Hour Workweek. Besides his books and his podcasts, I really like his “Five-Bullet Friday” newsletters. They are easy to digest and he always introduces me to something new (most recently the mentalist Derren Brown).

In that spirit, here are a few of the things that have challenged me and made me think more critically about myself and my relationships with others.

The quote that comes back to me again and again: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage — pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically — to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” ~ Stephen Covey

What I Learned from a $5,000 workshop: Every year, I commit to one significant professional development workshop or certification. This year, I chose to spend 3 days with a well-known leadership coach. We weren’t there to learn how to do anything. We were there to take turns being on the “hot seat” to be coached. He was good. His style was direct and intense. There were times I was physically sweating and a point that brought me close to tears. I left with greater clarity about what I needed to change, but greater confusion about how to do it. My lesson? Real, sticky, meaningful change is a commitment. Epiphanies have their place, but if it weren’t for my work with my coach every two weeks, nothing very tangible would have stuck. (And yes, this is a plug for coaching.)

Between the World and Me: My work has never been explicitly in the diversity and inclusion space. I have deeply held beliefs about how we treat each other, but I have chosen not to make it a focus of my work. And while I have committed to continuing to educate myself, for me, it goes beyond just about understanding, it’s about feeling it. Art allows me to feel. In this case, it was a play at the historic Apollo Theater. Between the World and Me was adapted from the 2015 book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is based on a man’s letter to his 15 year-old son about what it means to be black in America. It is a beautiful example of how art can spark an important conversation, one that comes not just from the intellect, but from the heart.

Derren Brown: Even more than an impressive mentalist, he’s a student of human behavior. In his two Netflix specials, he creates ELABORATE experiments to test what people will or will not do. In The Push, he uses persuasive methods to test whether he can get someone to push someone else off a building. Not only does he make you think about what you would do in these situations, but he is a master of using influencing techniques. Check out both The Push and Sacrifice.




Starla Sireno specializes in Executive Coaching in NYC. She partners with leaders to more effectively navigate the complexities of their roles, increase their influence at all levels, and hone their interpersonal communication skills to become more impactful both internally and in client-facing roles. Inquire how you can work with Starla or her team.

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