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What's New in Coaching

 Current Teleclass/Workshop Courses

Stay tuned for upcoming courses. Contact Dana to design a course for your organization or group: dewhitaker@openingeyes.net or 510.919.2944.


What's New in Microfinance

 In the Know/Get Involved:


There are innumerable ways to get involved in helping women and girls be all they can be. Girls, Inc. is one I'm proud and excited to support. A national organization, Girls, Inc. helps transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls typically attending schools in low-income areas so that they become strong, smart and bold though tutoring, mentoring, counseling and leadership development opportunities across the US and Canada. Take out your kleenex and watch what a difference you can make: http://vimeo.com/95776109

Dana at the Girls, Inc. Gala Red Carpet

I recently walked the red carpet at the 2014 Girls, Inc. Gala, TASTE, in Alameda County, CA and had the privilege of sitting next to Nang Dunn, the evening's keynote speaker. Here's a sneak peek of her harrowing, heroic story: Splitting into two groups given its size, she and her family of 13 escaped from Laos during the Vietnam war and after a short stay in Thailand, they landed in Oakland. She attributes her motivation and success to Girls, Inc. Nang was the first of her siblings to attend college, she became a Lao chef/teacher and founder of the VillageRun Foundation, www.villagerun.org, a non-profit helping girls receive work training rather than fall (or return as) victims of sex-trafficing. And (phew!), Nang is currently writing her memoir. As I listened to her story and shared mine as an author about women maximizing their lives despite, or because of their challenges, she and I immediately connected. She then asked me to be her coach through her writing/publishing/marketing/speaking...process. I said "YES!" Stay tuned!


Innovations from the field

Looking for a valuable way to volunteer your talents and time? Grameen Foundation (see highlights below) invites you to get involved either from the comfort of your own home or in the field! "By donating your time, skills and expertise to strengthen organizations working to break the cycle of poverty, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of the world's poor. But we hope this experience will also be meaningful to you. Bankers without Borders' unique end-to-end volunteer support offerings—from pre-recruitment project design to post-engagement professional development opportunities—helps us earn consistently high marks from our volunteers and clients: 98% would volunteer with us again and 95% of both clients and volunteers report their projects were successful." Simply go to: www.bankerswithoutborders.com.

While researching my book, Transforming Lives $40 at a Time, I had the privilege to travel with Grameen Foundation CEO, Alex Counts, to India and Bangladesh to witness microfinance organizations and their clients supported by Grameen. A devotee of Grameen Foundation ever since, I'm delighted to highlight two mobile technology programs that have been so successful in their incubator stages that they are now expanding to help millions! Here they are!:
  1. The Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) program which uses mobile phone applications to reach the most rural villages by employing a network of Community Knowledge Workers. Trusted within their communities, these CKW farmers provide other poor farmers with relevant and timely agricultural information including caring for animals, planting crops, treating pests and diseases, and getting fair market prices for produce and livestock. Using a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation is working with the mobile operator MTN and other partners to expand the program across Uganda. The goal is to train 1,500 Community Knowledge Workers to serve more than 1.25 million poor Ugandans.
  2. The Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) program is working to reduce high infant and maternal mortality rates in Ghana. Using a basic mobile phone, community healthcare providers collect patient data and upload records to a centralized database which are analyzed to establish personalized care schedules. Reminders are sent to nurses and patients about care visits. Recorded messages containing advice on pregnancy-related issues, important facts about fetal development and reminders about healthcare visits also are sent to expectant mothers. The pilot stage of this program, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was so successful that the program is now being expanded throughout Ghana in partnership with the Ghana Health Service. Generous support for this phase is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Saving Lives at Birth Partners: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank. Additionally, Grameen is extending the Mobile Health technology platform to a new geography and health priority with an HIV/AIDS program in India. For more information on these and other life-changing efforts, please visit: Grameen Foundation.

International Museum of Women (IMOW)

IMOW.org is a groundbreaking social change museum that inspires global action, connects people across borders and transforms hearts and minds by amplifying the voices of women worldwide through global online exhibitions, history, the arts and cultural programs that educate, create dialogue and build community. With its unique focus on cultural change, I.M.O.W. advances the human right to gender equity worldwide." Women from around the world may weigh in on subjects that uncover inequities, propose and celebrate solutions, and connect and empower women, thus the world as a whole. One of Dana's photos was a winner in IMOW's Picturing Power and Potential photo contest.


CGAP, the website for the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, is an essential site to visit if you want to expand your knowledge of microfinance, read current findings from the field, hear from experts, learn about technology and social impacts, and gain access to publications on a range of topics.

Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM)

Would you like to meet and learn with and from women involved in microfinance, both domestic and international? Check out www.waminternational.org for a chapter near you.


Experience the world exclusively through the eyes of women. Visit online to hear the latest from every corner of the world. Voice your opinion, share your stories at: www.worldpulse.com.

 Dana's Book/Film Picks:

Centeredness, peace and power do not need to reserved for certain times like weekends and vacations. Nor does waiting for these occasions serve you; in fact, a 'when I have time' attitude about cultivating these things may be too late. With all the research about the physical, mental and emotional affects of chronic stress, it is essential and possible to be centered, peaceful and therefore powerful on a moment by moment basis. Author Thich Nhat Hanh's page-long offerings in Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (Random House Publishing House, 1992), teach without preaching, how to thoroughly enjoy everything from washing dishes to eating a piece of fruit, thus, how to quiet our too-busy minds as we learn to focus on the 'now' no matter what it is, and nothing more, nothing less.

What makes a company succeed while others selling the same or similar merchandise/services fall behind? What leads to sustained motivation, drive and resilience in the face of inevitable challenges in our professional and personal lives? The answer lies in the key question: "WHY?" Why does my company exist? Why is it important, valuable? Why am I working so hard? Why am I striving? Why am I devoting my energy to this? When we can answer and resonate with the question of 'why', it becomes our raison d'être, our life raft in times of need, our cheerleader as we move forward, excel and succeed. For a deeper discussion of the power and essentiality of answering "Why" watch Simon Sinek's TED talk: http://tinyurl.com/agc3jvo

What do you do if you're being picked on? What do you do if you witness such behavior? How can you as an individual rise above such abuse, both internally and externally? What can we do as a friend, sibling, parent, community, nation and world to end this too often life-taking phenomenon? This heart-wrenching documentary, Bully, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, addresses these vital questions.

What if you could be resilient, motivated and successful, no matter what? If you have such desires but are having a difficult time getting or staying there, you must read the engaging, step-by-step guide book, Happiness at Work, by Professor Srikumar S. Rao, Ph.D. Learn how to see your circumstances in fresh, new ways, make and reach realistic goals, and discover the passion within yourself that is sustaining, no matter what! The McGraw Hill Companies, 2010.

If you want to be in-the-know and inspired by innovations in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design—domestic and international, you'll want to subscribe to www.FastCompany.com. "Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company and FastCompany.com inspire readers and users to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business." Fascinating, want-to-share daily articles.

Are you taking too long to get to THE point, convincing a client, connecting with colleagues, conducting a meeting? In How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, Milo Frank's clear, concise strategies and examples (often packaged in 30 second-long paragraphs!) will prepare you to hook your audience, explain your goal using the right tone—including body language, and ask for what you want all in a natural, credible, inviting way. A quick read with invaluable impact.

What is a leader? There are myriad definitions, but one article that outlines key components of a successful leader comes from Chapter Two of Bruna Martinuzzi's new book, The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. An adapted article of this chapter can be found here. MindTools.com is a superb source of information on topics ranging from team management to creativity, problem-solving to stress management.

What does it take to be resilient to adversity? Can such resilience be learned and nurtured? According to author Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D, optimism—believing oneself and circumstances are changeable, that the event and one's part in it is specific, and there are also non-personal causes of the event—is the key to getting up after a setback. In Learned Optimism, How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (Vintage Books 2006), Seligman says that we need both optimism to explore and revive and pessimism which elicits caution, reflection and safety. But an over-abundance of pessimism—believing that oneself has permanent flaws, that one mistake or setback represents all future possibilities and that setbacks are purely one's fault, is not only not helpful to being resilient, but not true! Those are simply beliefs, thus changeable! Becoming aware of one's beliefs, checking for evidence of the causes of the setback, and opening up to new ways of seeing the event and the possibilities for future change is the optimism that can be learned.

Unfortunately, our bodies and our weight are intricately tied to our self-image. Anyone not on a (perpetual) diet is seen as odd and envied by the majority of people who are. Author, Geneen Roth, who professes to have gained and lost 1000 pounds in her life, has turned her one-time obsession with food, feasting and fasting into a gift to herself and to all who attend her workshops and read her books. Her latest, Women Food and God (Scribner 2010), explores the real reasons we diet and the expense we pay for using food to hide who we are, want to and can be. She gives us a way to say 'No' to The Voice that keeps us barricaded from what our bodies really want, and 'Yes' to ourselves, body, mind and spirit so that we never have to be on a diet or deprive ourselves again.

Suzanne Scurlock-Durana's book, Full Body Presence, shows us via clear, compelling descriptions and exercises how, by activating five principles, we may live fully in the present. These include: Trust in the existence of Life's nurturing energy; Feel our natural connection to Life's energy, thus enabling us to claim our internal wisdom; Integrate this energy in order to develop healthy, flexible, strong boundaries; Expand our perceptual lens to see possibilities rather than be stuck in limiting expectations, and; Choose, moment by moment, to connect to life-giving resources. (Healing from the Core Media 2008).

According to A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future author Daniel H. Pink, the glory days of Western Civilization's left-brain linear, logical, knowledge-based biz whizzes are over. That's because for every new ingeneous product introduced by these whizzes, within months, a deluge of copycat products are developed and brought to market by other 'I can do it better and cheaper' biz whizzes, many of whom live and work (more cheaply) overseas. (Bye-bye USA jobs, and the market edge) As, if not more important, it's no longer the 'whats' one can devise and sell that defines success for a business or an individual. In fact, says Pink, our material abundance (of originals and copycats) is breeding nonmaterial desires that no product alone can satisfy. Indeed, the once revered giants of the Information Age are only going to thrive, not to mention survive, if they move into the quickly emerging Conceptual Age.

Once seen as frivolous, and touchy-feely, zeroing in on the right-brain of the Conceptual Age is the answer to professional success and personal satisfaction. Within the pages of A Whole New Mind (Riverhead Books, March 2006), Pink compellingly outlines—for children to adults—the essential 'six senses' or aptitudes required to satisfy both one's personal longings and professional competitiveness. These include: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning.

Beginning a career search can be daunting, scary and complicated. Twenty years ago I devoted myself to following the steps in Richard Bolles', What Color is Your Parachute, and it's as inspiring and clear today as it was then. I am using Bolles' revised 2009 version to help my coaching clients better understand their preferred transferable skills and key values so that their next career is not just a paycheck at the end of each month (though that is certainly important!), but one that provides deep satisfaction.

Is it possible to do less and live a richer, fuller life? Explore the whys and hows of living from passion and intention, rather than being dictated by the clock. Opening Eyes recommends: Marc Lessor. Less. New World Library, 2009.

HOW we do what we do has the most significant impact on our well-being, our ability to connect with others, and to produce desired shifts in the personal and professional arenas of our lives. What are the winning HOWs in today's transparent, ever-changing, competitive business climate? Opening Eyes recommends: Dov Siedman. HOW. Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything... in Business (and in Life). John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

We do have control of our happiness quotient despite life's inevitable bumpy roads. Opening Eyes recommends:
Marci Shimoff. Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out. Free Press, 2008.

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