On compassion

When you feel completely exposed, completely loved, and accepted at the same time, then you are being wrapped in compassion extended to you by the other. 

Shame and fear cannot tolerate that kind of powerful connection surging between people;
courage, compassion, connection can. Your willingness to let your friends see you imperfect can strengthen courage, compassion, and connection. If it does not, then they are not willing to be vulnerable. 



From Shame To Worthiness

We cultivate worthiness by cultivating courage, compassion, and connection. 

When you try to win someone over...
When you are not authentic...
When you feel shame, practice courage and reach out!

Share your story with someone who earned your trust and can respond with compassion. 

You need courage, compassion, and connection ASAP. 

This helps you stay in your worthiness.

"Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it - it can't survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous think to do after a shaming experience  is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes." B.Brown.

However, share your story only with someone with whom you have a trusted connection. Someone who can be vulnerable, embraces you for your strengths and struggles. Talk to the friend who earned the right to hear it. 

Stay away from a friend who is horrified with you just to be comforted her/himself; the one who feels sympathy (I'm so sorry.), not empathy (I get it, I've been there.); the friend who can't help you because s/he to disappointed in your imperfections, you've let him down; the friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that he scolds you (What were you thinking?) or he looks for someone to blame (We'll kick his ass.); the friend who is about making it better out of her discomfort (It wasn't that bad. You rock.); the friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you (Listen to what happened to me.). 



Why Startup Founders [And Everyone ] Should Work With A Coach

Posted February 20, 2014 by Orrick Total Access

By: Anamaria Nino-Murcia (Startup Coach & Founder of Foothold Coaching)

When I was an early-stage entrepreneur, I considered—and then quickly dismissed—the idea of hiring an “executive coach.” I assumed a coach would be too expensive and completely out of touch with what it takes to launch a new product from a shed in Menlo Park. Two years later, we reached profitability. But I often wondered how much better I could have performed if I had worked with a coach. So, I leftElliptiGO almost three years ago to found my startup-focused coaching practice.

Coaching isn’t new to Silicon Valley, but it isn’t as commonplace as it could be among startup founders. Mark Suster bluntly highlights the value of coaches to founders“If you don’t work with somebody like that now, it’s your loss.”

Now, it’s one thing to hear this message from an entrepreneur-turned-coach or an entrepreneur-turned-VC, and it’s another to hear it from current founders who started working with a coach at seed-stage or even pre-funding. I polled a few of my clients to ask why they find value in coaching and why they’d encourage other startup founders to work with a coach. Here is what they told me:

#1: Accelerate Your Personal Growth

Your ability to personally grow faster than you could ever be comfortable with is the single biggest determinant of whether you will survive and succeed.”

- Ben Knelman, Founder & CEO of Juntos Finanzas

When I first started coaching Ben, we met on a sidewalk bench because he had no office, no team, and was trying to figure out how to turn a college project into a real company. Two years later, he now leads a team that is about to grow out of their Mountain View office space and expand internationally. Ben would be the first to tell you that the pace at which a student-founder-turned-CEO needs to develop executive skills is intense.

The founders who succeed over time are the ones who learn the fastest—not just about product-market fit—but also about themselves. Working with a coach accelerates your learning and helps you develop leadership skills ahead of when your growing team will need them.

#2: Get Emotional Support

 “It’s lonely at the top, and it’s so nice to not only turn to friends or a spouse.”

- Julia Hu, Founder-CEO of lark

Founders often confront emotional challenges they don’t share with teammates, investors, advisors or even trusted friends and family. A coach creates a safe space for you to talk through struggles, but a coach will also help you brainstorm your next steps. And they help you feel better so you can get back to running your startup.

Imagine if you could develop your product, pitch investors, and lead your team without the distraction or burden of fear, insecurity, doubt or anxiety—how much better could you perform?

Ben Horowitz of a16z publicly acknowledges that, “By far the most difficult skill for me to learn as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology.” And who helped him develop that skill? Bill Campbell, the legendary CEO coach to many of Silicon Valley’s most successful leaders.

#3: Have an Unbiased Sounding Board

 “You need space outside of your team and investors to work through important decisions.

– Colin Mutchler, founder-CEO of louder

 “Everyone else in your life has some personal or professional bias—having a coach is the only unbiased sounding board you can have.”

– Romain David, Co-Founder of Meexo (acquired by Live Nation)

Founders make myriad decisions every day under massive uncertainty. To navigate this ambiguity, entrepreneurs usually tap their advisory networks of friends, mentors and investors. The best advisors offer shortcuts based on their knowledge and experience. You consult them because you want their expertise and their associated bias.

But what do you do when you have plenty of people to tell you what you should do and no one who can help you figure out what you want to do? A good coach is an active listener, a pattern-spotter, and someone who helps you decide, quickly and thoughtfully, what you want to do. Coaches take on your agenda as their own—without financial, professional or personal bias.

 #4: Anticipate Later-Stage Challenges

 “In the early days, you’re so busy sprinting to put out fires that you might not take the time to stop and think about the long-term impact of your choices. And yet, even the smallest decisions made early on can significantly change your company’s trajectory. Working with a coach helps me realize which decisions made now might have ramifications a year or two down the road.”

- Maria Wich-Vila, HBS alum and early-stage entrepreneur

 If your coach has worked with founders at your stage and beyond—you benefit from the patterns that coach can help you anticipate.  Coaches can’t see around every corner for you, but they can help you spot a cliff before you set yourself on a path to march off it.

For example, I’ve helped founders overcome toxic relationships with investors or advisors so I have useful insights for how to avoid those relationships in the first place. I’ve seen the mounting costs of not firing an underperforming teammate quickly enough, so I can help other founders make changes to their teams more decisively.

Tips for Finding A Startup Coach

If you’re interested in working with a coach, you can get referrals from advisors, founders or other trusted contacts in your network. You can also get a free personalized coach recommendation from Noomii. Use Ed Batista’s post on how to choose a coach to help you screen and evaluate potential coaches.

While there are hundreds of executive coaches in the SF Bay Area, there are only a handful who work exclusively with startups—a focus I believe is extremely important. I work with founders who are pre-funding or at seed stage, and I help them grow through a Series A and beyond. If you’d like to learn more about my approach to coaching, please get in touch. And if you have already raised a Series A or Series B and are looking for a coach who specializes with startup CEOs at those stages, I’d personally recommend Dale Larson, Marcy SwensonDave Kashen and Bryan Neuberg.



They are verbs

We acquire courage, compassion, and connection by practicing just like we learn to bike by biking or walk by walking. They are actions. 

The more courageous acts we engage in, the more courage we have, the more courageous people we are. 

We reach out to practice courage. 
We express empathy with words to practice compassion. 
We treat ourselves and others with care, love, and respect to practice connection. 



Before we dive in.....

Before we dive in....can we talk about the scary stuff that we need to remove before we can practice courage, compassion, and connection?

Before we talk courage....can we practice letting go of what other people think?

Before we talk compassion...can we practice setting boundaries and saying 'no' ? Can we say no even if it means disappointing someone?

Before we talk connection...can we practice self-acceptance? 

This is very hard to do. We have to first stand up to 'not good enough', to fear and shame. Then we will have easier time to be seen and known. 

It is after we deal with shame and fear, we can let go of what people think, set boundaries, and accept ourselves as we are.

The first little step may be to start loving yourself. What does it mean? You treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. You are your best friend.



Courageous people

Exhibit integrity in all they do.

Treat people with respect regardless of their status.

Are humble and let their actions speak for themselves.

Know their strengths AND their weaknesses.

Keep their promises and vows.

Engage with purpose, passion, and meaning.

Defend the innocent, no matter how small.

Speak truthfully and love selflessly.




Wholeheartedness and parenting

"We cannot give our children what we don't have. Where we are on our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books." B. Brown



The first step: Loving yourself

Knowing and understanding yourself is important. Loving yourself is fundamentally more important to a wholehearted life. 

Be kind and gentle to yourself as you work on discovering who you are. Can you embrace the tenderness and vulnerability as you claim your power?

You love yourself by believing in your feelings and relying on your feelings. 
You love yourself by considering your interests and goals first. 
You like yourself. 
You are careful not to cause hurt or inconvenience yourself. 



3 Ways to Rebuild Your Life When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

Posted on August 22, 2013 by Alexander Heyne

“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.”

- W Clement Stone

In 2010 I had the best year of my life. By far.

And then in 2011, I had the worst year of my life. By far.

I was living abroad in China, living the life I had always dreamed about – full of adventure, variety, and spontaneity.  I had friends from 20+ countries all over the world. I learned to speak another language. I was constantly traveling. I had the closest friends I’d ever had since childhood.

In other words, life was the way it was supposed to be.

And then I moved back to my home country.

I had no friends.

No job.

No apartment.

I moved back into my childhood home because I couldn’t figure out “what next?”

And then, for the first time in my life, I got really depressed.

It’s a funny thing being depressed if you’ve never been depressed before – suddenly, there’s a wall of resistance around everything in your life.

Everything is so difficult. It takes so much effort. Every day is a struggle.

It overwhelmed my thoughts, and every waking moment I found myself driving around town thinking, “meaningless – all this stuff is totally meaningless.

I would apply to jobs but find myself thinking, “this is all pointless. Why am I doing this?” I sabotaged every action of mine.

Naturally, when you view everything in life as meaningless, it becomes that way, and I was really struggling. And that’s when I decided I was tired of being worn out by this constant feeling of hopelessness.

It took me more than a year to piece this together, but I found 3 things that successfully flipped the coin for me – three things that saved me.

1. Create a happiness ritual

When you’re rebuilding life from the ground up, every day is filled with chaos.

So one of the key things I did for myself was create a “happiness” ritual. It added predictability and stability to my life.

I wrote down a list of all my favorite things throughout the day, and here’s what I found I enjoyed most:

  1. Sitting in coffee shops reading with an afternoon espresso.
  2. Exercising. It turned off my mind and made me feel good.
  3. Kayaking in the ocean. It was a peaceful afternoon session where I could enjoy the outdoors and peace and quiet.

So I had three key activities as part of my happiness ritual, and I made myself do them every day.

The key for me was to figure out how to fill the day with the stuff you love.

Even if it’s just a few things that take an hour, create your own daily happiness ritual and do it every day.

2. Do a 30 day experiment

The second thing I did was try to figure out when I was in flow throughout the day.

Flow is an experience we’re all familiar with – time evaporates, the activity is enjoyable, and we’re learning and growing – but many people don’t know that in studies it’s been shown that Flow producing activities are often the highest highs of the day for many people.

So I did a 30-day experiment – I set a timer on my phone to go off every 2 hours.

When the timer went off, I had to write down two things:

  1. What was I doing?
  2. Did I feel like I was in “flow” with whatever I was doing? Was it enjoyable, was time passing effortlessly, was my mind turned off?

At the end of 30 days, I had tons of information about activities that I naturally was engaged in and super happy without even knowing it.

For example, I learned that freelancing with some clients was actually a high point during my day. I left our meetings with energy and excitement.

I also learned that talking with people was flow producing. As an introvert this was a bit surprising, but just casually talking with people about life consistently put me in flow and was a high.

These were all things I didn’t know 30 days before.

Once I found out which activities naturally made me happy, I began filling my days with more of them.

3. 80/20 Your Problems

The last thing I did was fix the “nagging” issues that bothered me.

In other words, what things were making me the most unhappy throughout the day? What were the main things affecting my mood?

I nailed it down to a few things:

  1. Loneliness. I had no social ties.
  2. Work I disliked
  3. Certain time periods – weekends, and late nights

I then viewed each thing as a problem that needed creative solving.

So for example, I found myself constantly craving social interaction.

Rather than staying at home, I started hanging out in a café in the mornings. Over time, the people began to recognize me, and friendships naturally developed from there.

Since I was relaxing (or sometimes working) in the café, if I wanted to take a break from reading I could find people to talk with. Even if it was quiet, I was surrounded by people.

My work was also un-enjoyable and I wasn’t feeling engaged. I had way too much time to be thinking. Over the coming months I gradually shifted jobs to a startup with a more relaxed atmosphere filled with people I got along with.

Last, my flow test taught me that certain periods of the day were really low for me. Late nights after work at home alone and the weekends (when I had a lot of free time) were the lowest lows.

So I scheduled activities that filled those gaps – I started taking Judo in the evenings.  I started a group on the weekends and started taking day trips into New York City to see museums.

I viewed everything in my life making me miserable simply as a puzzle piece – it was something I could creatively fix, rather than just something I had to deal with.

As time went on, one day someone came up to me and mentioned how “happy” I seemed.  I hadn’t really thought of it, but it was true.  The pieces had all started coming together.

What about you?

At some point, many of us end up at the lowest low in our life. Nothing seems to work. Nothing is enjoyable. There’s resistance everywhere.

Just remember that there’s always a creative way to get back on path. And maybe these three ways – having a happiness ritual, doing a 30 day flow experiment, and doing an 80/20 of your nagging problems – will help you get one step closer back to a life you love.

And don’t ever forget – we are far more resilient than we think. Just because last year might have been the worst year of your life, doesn’t mean this year can’t be the best.

Alexander runs Modern Health Monk, which helps people reverse health problems caused by 21st century life. Check out his free 8-part weight loss mini course, or start with his free insider’s health kit.




Own Your Story. Dare to show up and be seen.

Watch Stephanie Snyder's TED Talk 

What you hide from the world owns everything you do. Your most successful existence will come from making friends with your broken places and being of service. Know yourself and you will know what your life's work is meant to be. Stephanie Snyder has been inspiring students through yoga for well over a decade.



The Modern Science of Yoga: April 12, 2-3:30pm Samsung Hall

Asian Art Museum


Dive deep with the experts to learn the science of yoga and the 5,000-year-old system of medicine from India called Ayurveda. Qamar Adamjee, associate curator of South Asian art, Jeffrey Durham, assistant curator of Himalayan art, Dr. Margaret Chesney, director of UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and Dr. Anand Dhruva, integrative medicine physician and associate professor of medicine, use artworks from the exhibition Yoga: The Art of Transformation to discuss the practices’ origins and their effects on health. 

Learn about contemporary scientific research on the effects of yoga on lower back pain, and learn a few simple poses to do at home. Co-presented by the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Asia Society, and the International Asosciation of Yoga Therapists.

Tickets are available first come, first served. Advance purchase is strongly recommended, due to limited seating.