“The Invisible Mentor” Interviews (Part 1 & 2)

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Host Avil Beckford interviews me on (his/her) series “The Invisible Mentor” —  I would definitely recommend you check out the site! (Original Links to our interviews are here (part 1) and here (part 2), or follow the transcripts (below)  The following interviews are provided courtesy of  The Invisible Mentor©

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PART ONE

  • Interviewee Name: Irene Becker, Life and Leadership Coach
  • Company Name: Just Coach It
  • Website: JustCoachIt.COM 

Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Irene Becker:  I’m a coach, a speaker and writer who helps people to work, communicate and lead happier and smarter lives in high stress, high change environments.

Avil Beckford: What’s a typical day like for you?

Irene Becker: A typical day for me is exciting, challenging, it’s a gift. I think life’s a gift. I take each day as a blessing and an opportunity to be of service to others.

Avil Beckford: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

Irene Becker:  Life has taught me that during the good times as well as the bad to look at the world with wonder and awe. I look at my challenges as my teachers. The unique model I developed is helping people use strengths and stressors to build what I call the 3Qs: Enhanced IQ- greater Ideation and action ability; Enhanced EQ – emotional mastery, communicating for influence, leadership resiliency; and SQ – the values and alignment that is the foundation of everything. So I’m not teaching the 3Qs, I live them.

I developed a routine of exercises that helped me build all three areas – my mind, my emotional strength and my values alignment, and it helps recharge me, reset my brain, motivate me and I think everybody needs little steps they can take, that take a couple of minutes everyday but don’t cost anything that they can use on a consistent basis to strengthen their Qs.

Avil Beckford: If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Irene Becker:  I wouldn’t trust in people because they had a big position or a big name. I think in my younger days, I initially perhaps was too trusting in people with big positions and names and presumed they had knowledge and integrity that wasn’t necessarily so. I think that was one of my greatest learning lessons because in terms of being focused and motivated and putting together a plan and executing it, those are things that I have been good at. But it’s the relationships that we make, make or break our lives and our businesses and careers. So knowing whom to trust and not to trust is critical.

Avil Beckford: What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past year?

Irene Becker: For me, the most important discovery I’ve made is the power of love. And it’s both personal and business because I’ve had a year of incredible growth, great successes and also great challenges, and what I came to realize is that everything really boils down to love.  Abraham Maslow talked about this in the  Hierarchy of Needs. I don’t think anybody has come to the fore to really change that at all. After our survival needs have been met we want to be loved and we find that through our work, we find it through our relationships, but some people find it by consumerism – having things, getting things and are deluding themselves into thinking they are going to love themselves more thinking this is love. But when you boil down to it we all want to feel loved.

I think that I have discovered that the power of everything is the power of love. Everything comes from that, it’s the foundation for everything – love directed at service, love directed at letting go of one’s need for validation and transforming it into contribution. Love means letting go of judgment, love means accepting one’s strengths and deficits, love means embracing the gift of life, love means becoming a consistent learner, love means also developing the ability to lead in the face of crisis. Even from a marketing perspective, if you are in a business, you really have to reach out and give love to your clients so I think love is the foundation for everything.

Avil Beckford: What are the three threats to your business, your success, and how are you handling them?

Irene Becker: I think the three greatest threats are very similar to what a lot of people would say to a contracting marketplace and economy, differentiating oneself in a crowded marketplace because the price of entry into the marketplace is lower than ever before. You can market almost cost-free, anybody can set up a website but you now have more people in the same arena vying for business. And I find the third challenge is lack of time to do everything I’d like to do. I’d like to make more of a footprint, contribute more, and there is only so much that one person can do. How do I handle it? I handle it by really focusing on my goals, objectives and what I can do now and using every change, challenge, opportunity and success to learn more, share more, to contribute more because to me that’s what’s important.

Avil Beckford: What’s unique about the service that you provide?

Irene Becker: I have a whole range of services and programs that help clients achieve results in their businesses, their careers and their lives. But it’s not only that they achieve results, it’s that they achieve results that help them work smarter and be happier in the face of change, multiple challenges, results that help them optimize, humanize and monetize their talents, in a whole new arena where everything is changing. Or in the face of a leadership change or career transition, or communication challenges, I think the ability to help my clients see both their strengths and challenges differently in a way that takes them forward, smarter and happier is really unique to my 3Q model.

Avil Beckford: Describe a major business or other challenge you had and how you resolved it. What kind of lessons did you learn in the process?

Irene Becker: I have had incredible successes. I was the first women CEO of a steel company in Canada and I have had incredible challenges. Being the first woman CEO of a steel business in the late eighties, when I was a “minority”, who was discriminated against, had all the odds against me, and making a go of it was a great challenge. But I’ve also faced physical illness, going from being incredibly wealthy to starting from ground zero. I’ve been to the back of the woods and out again, and I’ve managed to do it with my head, heart and soul in alignment. I’ve gone through some incredible successes and I’ve gone through life shattering challenges. And I think for both of those, more so from the challenges, I discovered the power of learning to see our challenges with different eyes that take us forward.

I’ve discovered my passion for the 3Qs, for really finding ways to help myself enhance my potential intellectually and to develop greater mental focus, greater action-ability, and then to build the whole emotional intelligence piece – resilience, creativity, communication and to always tap into the most important Q for me are values in alignment, our spiritual quotient. So I learned to process and see challenges differently in a way that help the Qs. And the reason why I’m so passionate about the 3Qs today is that they have taken me to where I am now. They have taken me from the back of the woods to the front, and I think that we are living in the most incredible times.

What Charles Dickens said hundreds of years ago, “These are the best of times and the worst of times,” in a way he was visionary because I don’t think you could find another phrase that would aptly describe the times in which we are living. Two months ago there was a man who had a face transplant. We’ve now reached a point where we think we can cure breast cancer. During the drought in Texas they managed to use urine for water. I could sit here and talk for an hour about the absolutely awesome, incredible things that are on the foreground.

On the other hand, London is burning, we have chaos in the world, we have 11 million people on the brink of starvation in Africa. We face worldwide economic crisis. The United States is in economic peril. We have incredible challenges. However, we also have incredible opportunities to become change leaders – to use all our challenges, all the learning and the knowledge to make a positive difference in our world and our community. I think we can only do it when we look at our problems differently and build our Q strengths.

So whether it’s from a personal view of our life, a business perspective, or in a large enterprise we need to become 3Q leaders, and I’m really passionate about that because we’re going to be tested and challenged.

Somebody asked me about a month ago when are we going to stop riding the sea of change, we’re not, it’s going to continue. There is no more ladder to success, the ladder’s been broken. We’re going to deal with constant change and it’s going to come faster than ever before. So the way we see problems and challenges have to change and I think that’s implicit in building our Q strengths.

Avil Beckford: Tell me about your big break and who gave you.

Irene Becker: When I think about big breaks, I think that my biggest break has come from my faith in God – in the eternal source of love and faith in all good things. Ironically, my biggest breaks have been tied to my greatest challenges that I’ve faced. My father died and left me $580,000 of debt, against all odds I made a go of the business. I’ve had incredible successes that started out as unbelievable challenges so I can’t say that an individual gave me a big break because my journey has been one of incredible challenges. I would say that the challenges gave me a big break! They gave me the ability to build my vessel, my soul and my strength. And understand if I’m going to move forward, if I’m really going to achieve my potential, it has to come from inside out; and from developing a new perspective, an attitude that helped me transform frustrating, challenges into proactive solutions to move forward.  It is our ability to look at both our strengths, and of equal import, our challenges with new eyes that is the catalyst for our true potential.

Avil Beckford: Describe one of your biggest failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?

Irene Becker:  I guess one of my biggest failures was going from a net worth of millions to starting from ground zero and having to do really menial jobs just to support my children. What did I learn? I learned sometimes life throws a brick at us, crimes happen, unjust things happen and you can just lose everything you’ve worked hard to acquire in a blink. It happened to me, but then I realized that the most important thing is not failing, it’s failing forward. It’s taking that experience and learning from it. I guess in a way that was the genesis of the 3Qs. I remember in particular, I was working cleaning a toilet on my 40th birthday and I looked up and it was a far cry from the millions and the black tie affairs, and everything else and I thought, “You know what, I love myself from inside out,” because for whatever reason I’ve been forced to start again and I never gave up my faith, I never gave up my hope, I never gave up my courage, I never gave up my integrity, and those are really the richest gifts we have. It taught me that the greatest riches we have, and the greatest potential we have, come from inside out, and I think it was a really important lesson.

When I was at the height of my career, I had a home in Westmount, in Forest Hills, it was in a decorating magazine. I got to do a lot of philanthropic work, and I was a really driven person – I was a real type A and people used to say, that I must feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. There is a very insecure person behind every type A personality. We need people who are Type A. But what really pushes someone to be an over achiever? What pushes them is the emotional need to be validated. There is some kind of wound there and they have to keep on proving to themselves. It’s really great in terms of empire building. It’s great in terms of success, and I’m not negative about that because we need people who are going to be Type As to build businesses, to build educational institutions to make our world better, to drive the economy. But, from another perspective, when you come to a personal place, when you can stand naked with your truth, you realize that you’re not going to take the accomplishments, you’re not going to take the BMW or the Mercedes to your grave with you. We all came into the world the same way, and we all are going to leave the world the same way. What we will take with us are the values we’ve put a fence around, our ability to live with integrity, our ability to hang on to the faith, hope, courage, humanity, integrity that nobody can steal from us. And it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in the C-Suite of if you have 10 cents to your name, nobody can steal that from you. And those are the greatest riches.

Avil Beckford: What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?

Irene Becker:  I have had a lot of tough decisions so I want to speak in generalities a bit, because the toughest decisions I’ve had to make – I mean there have been tough business decisions, in running an organization you always have to make tough decisions. The toughest decisions I’ve had to make were the decisions I had to make as a parent, the decisions I had to make about the children I loved more than anything. Do I make a decision that people want me to make, or do I do the right thing, even though sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do? Whether it is in our personal relationships, or whether it’s in our business, to step back from the need to be validated or the need to please, or the need to make things nice, and to do the right things is so hard. But I have made tough decisions based on what is the right thing, what is in alignment with the greatest good, what is in alignment with my SQ-spiritual quotient-values.  In the end, I believe that all good decisions are founded not in what we want to achieve, but in alignment with the values the SQ that is critical to sustainable success.

And the tough decisions have come initially with really tough circumstances, but in the end they’ve been successful decisions, whether it was in my business, my career, decisions I had to make in terms of my children. The tough decisions we make that are in alignment with our greatest values are never wrong decisions. And in the end, I think that they come back to us in very special and surprising ways as a gift.

Avil Beckford: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

Irene Becker:

  1. My father’s death: He was the only family I had, shaped my life in a terrific way.
  2. Having to face the challenge of running a business against all odds and making a go of it certainly shaped my life: It was a unique experience because for the first time in my life, I was a “visible minority”. I’ve always been a minority because I happen to be Jewish, but people don’t meet me and say, “There is a Jewish woman.” But for the first time in my life when I took over the steel business, I was a young woman in an industry with no women and I was discriminated against as soon as someone met me. I think that experience taught me how to move beyond that kind of obstacle. It taught me a lot of personal tools. It also built what I consider one of the greatest leadership and human quality, empathy. I got to understand what it’s like to be really discriminated against before you even open your mouth.
  3. I also think that my children’s birth and bringing them up was an event that shaped my life in such an incredible way. I really think that our children are gifts to us, they’ve taught me so much and I’m blessed about love, life and learning. And I think the ultimate task of sharing is when you have kids, and it’s an incredible test of a lot of things.

So I think those three things – my father’s death and having to live without family, taking over the business against all odds and being a “visible minority” and becoming a mother have been three events that shaped my life in a tremendous way.

Avil Beckford: What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?

Irene Becker:  I’m proudest of surviving and thriving with my faith, courage, integrity and humanity intact. I am equally proud of having been blessed with a skill set and a career that has helped me help others engage their true potential. I’ve faced a lot of tests. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen, I’ve had my face in the mud, I’ve been to the back of the woods and I’ve also been incredibly successful. Throughout it all, I’ve refused to give up my faith, courage, integrity and humanity. And I think that’s what I’m most proud of.

Avil Beckford: How did mentors influence your life?

Irene Becker:  In an absolutely tremendous way because I did have one mentor – my father. He was my mentor, my best friend and he taught me and gave me the courage to never let go of my values, or my humanity and to recognize what’s truly important in life and to appreciate, and the foresight to reflect and learn always. I think that they are all important gifts.

Avil Beckford: What’s one core message you received from your mentors?

Irene Becker: Our values and our ability to live them is everything. We cannot see past the next challenge, we cannot truly live, lead and succeed to purpose without living our values.  Leadership means service about self, and in serving we not only lead and succeed we’ll also attain that ever elusive but critical sense of fulfillment and purpose that we need to live and work at our best.

Avil Beckford: An invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn things from by observing them from afar, in the capacity of an Invisible Mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?

Irene Becker:

  • Look within! Tie an anchor around your courage, faith, integrity and humanity and never let go…use them to find your true power; power to validate from inside out rather than to seek the validation of others.  Power to make a difference in whatever way you choose.

Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?

Irene Becker: Compartmentalization. I really balance my life and I’ve learned to organize my thoughts and my time. I think one of the things, and it’s really hard for us is that our time is so stretched, but we need time to reflect. We need personal time and we need to balance that in a way that makes us more effective and happier. 

How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Many readers read this blog from other sites, so why don’t you pop over to The Invisible Mentor and subscribe (top on the right hand side) by email or  RSS Feed.

PART TWO

  • Interviewee Name: Irene Becker
  • Company Name: Just Coach It
  • Website: JustCoachIt.COM

Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Irene Becker:  I’m a coach, a speaker and writer who helps people to work, communicate and lead happier and smarter lives in high stress, high change environments.

Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it? 

Irene Becker: I make sure that I take downtime for a couple of minutes, three times a day to do exercises that build my 3Qs. I do a little exercise called the Pause that’s a two-minute stress buster and mindfulness meditation. When I have downtime, I’m either learning, praying and meditating, or I’m sharing and doing something of service that’s relationship-based.

Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?

Irene Becker:

  1. Always be solution-focused. We know that our brain is automatically set to negatives, so being solution-focused is retraining our brain. But today more than ever before, we all need to move from being problem-focused to solution focused.
  2. Don’t forsake your courage, integrity, or humanity.
  3. Give more, share more, care more and contribute more because they are all roads to fulfillment and happiness.
  4. Love more.
  5. Live more and laugh more. Appreciate and be grateful for your life-inject humour wherever and whenever you can.

We look around and there are parts of the world where people go to bed hungry and yet they seem to be happier than people in North America and Western Europe. Life is a gift.

Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?

Irene Becker: My favourite quotation is from  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who was a palaeontologist and Jesuit priest. He said, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?

Irene Becker: I don’t think that my formula for success would resonate with everyone, so I’m going to give you two answers. My definition for success is service above self. I had a client who was the Bill Gates of the country (Canada), and I’m really curious, here is a man who has everything, had built everything from scratch. And I asked him, “How do you define success?” and he told me in two seconds, “happiness,” so I think that’s the ultimate definition because when I define success it’s service, it makes me happy to feel that I have been of service. So success is happiness. I think the formula for success is timeless, it’s creating value for others. Whether you’re talking about business or personal success, it’s only when we’re creating value for others, that’s what success is. It’s that feeling of contributing that makes us happiest, and a sustainable business is about creating value for others. A sustainable relationship also depends on creating value for others.

Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?

Irene Becker: Learning, continuously learning, being passionate about my craft, working hard, contributing and understanding the difference between wants and needs. We used to be in a marketplace where Marketing 101 used to say, find the need, that’s no longer true. We’re so deluged with everything. When you have a product or service you have to understand the want.

Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?

Irene Becker: Find your passion then search for the want. Work hard, work honourably and work consistently.

Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?

Irene Becker: This was such a hard question because there are so many people I want to meet. So I decided that I would pick people from the past.

  1. Abraham from the Bible
  2. Rumi the Sufi mystic and poet
  3.  Dr. Martin Luther King
  4.  Albert Einstein
  5. George Washington Carver, the peanut farmer: He was a man of such values and principles, a true leader. He was offered a lot of money but would have to give up his values and he never would. Corporations wanted to buy him out and I think it was the most incredible story.
  6.  Anne Frank

I would say, “Thank you!” because they all made the world a better place, and they all truly came from a place of love and service – extraordinary people.

Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?

Irene Becker: I actually have a few books. I couldn’t come up with just one. The Torah, Bible, the  Psalms, The  Zohar, The Prophet,  Les Miserables and the Wizard of Oz.

Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?

I would take books: The Psalms, The Bible, The Zohar, Writings/Essays by my children, Poetry by Rumi.

I would take my favourite movie, Bruce Almighty as it is both very funny and very profound, spiritual.

Irene Becker: For the two years I would be praying, meditating, reflecting, and writing thoughts of value that I’d like to share with others – Thoughts about how life is a gift and how to use it. I would try to develop a routine that taps into my head, heart, soul and body. Never giving up faith that my two years was for a purpose that I cannot see, but that will be of service to others.

Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?

Irene Becker: Love!  The ability to cleave to the spark of Godliness, the spark of eternal love that is the source of all.

Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?

Irene Becker: Love and prayer!

Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?

Irene Becker: I would wish for what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said in my favourite quote that I would see a day when…. “We shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..

Irene Becker: I am living and leading in service to the greatest good, because it is only in service that we realize our true purpose.

How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Many readers read this blog from other sites, so why don’t you pop over to The Invisible Mentor and subscribe (top on the right hand side) by email or  RSS Feed.

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