How To Find Compassion In A World Filled With Grief

For the ordinary man or woman, the world is full of grief not compassion. Happiness eludes us because we seek to be constantly entertained or indulge our senses. Compassion for others is fleeting because we don’t even have compassion for ourselves. If love begins at home, why are we so hell bent on fear and loathing?

Finding compassion for yourself and expressing mindfulness in all your mundane activities is not as hard as you think.

Our problems and challenges arise because they are rooted in the thoughts, which dance in our minds. Much has been written and spoken about the mind. However, compassion is instinctual and goes beyond the mind.

Behavioral psychologists talk a good game about positive psychology and emotional intelligence thus, inventing a vocabulary stripped of all spirituality.

Their works are valid and inspire many of us to be all we can be. However, more should be said about compassion. Because most people want a world of goodness, we walk the path of compassion, realizing that there is more here than meets the eye. So we continue to investigate and consume multitudes of books, watch podcasts, and even participate in seminars. The root of our problems stem from our own minds, which are a checkerboard of crisscrossing reflections, opinions, and prejudices.

Because we think the mind is master of all things, we let it persuade us to do things that are not necessarily in our best interests.

Our state of consciousness shapes our world view. We start to believe in the fiction we have created. However, our lives are not centered on reality but only on what we perceive to be reality. To be in full rapport with life, the mind must be stripped clean of all thoughts. To do so, brings the practitioner into a state of presence. Once this is done, compassion becomes one of our closest friends.

For most people, mindfulness is a formidable challenge. Let your sense of positive psychology guide you to a state of Zen consciousness.

For this reason, it is our belief that the practice of Zen can pay huge dividends. Zen masters for centuries have counseled practitioners to focus on the tasks they do with awareness because Zen heightens our sense of compassionIt doesn’t matter what those tasks are. It can be doing the laundry as well as writing a client report. To act with consciousness requires absolute focus. Training the mind to respond in this manner will give you a cleaner sense of your own awareness. Compassion then flowers like a lotus.

One technique to use in getting there is meditation.

Meditation is not what you think and there are an infinite number of ways to do so. One way is to sit as motionless as possible and watch your breath. In Kashmir Shivaism, practitioners concentrate on the divine vibration. When you think about this closely, you come to recognize that without this vibration you wouldn’t be physically present anymore in the external world. Without the divine vibration, compassion would not be possible.

It is not necessary to count your breaths.

although some practitioners do so. Listen closely to the sound it creates. In Sanskrit they refer to this as the So Ham or the Hamsa mantra. It is natural to all living beings. You need not change your belief system nor engage with any rituals. Just be. The blissful state that ensues stills bodily functions and quiets all discursive thoughts. Concentrating on the breath is nothing new. In fact, it is quite an ancient technique. As Lama Govinda wrote, it gives you a lucid path to experience personal development: “This state of perfect mental and physical equilibrium results in inner harmony where serenity and happiness fills the whole body with supreme bliss.

What is the most striking about the practice of mindfulness is the process of breathing.

Breath is the connecting link between the the conscious and subconscious mind, between the gross material plane and those planes of finer substance. What I particularly love about this practice is the fact you gain access to your very own voice rooted in authenticity. True personal development is impossible unless live the experience.

Many meditators use sounds, better know as mantras to fill their thoughts. Others use visualization of images of saints or masters. Although these work, there will come a time when you must relinquish these props. The term here is surrender, an often misinterpreted concept. This is why Zen masters prefer to focus on the breath, and to give into it totally. Let your mind be reabsorbed into its own state of being. Buddhists call this the void. It is total emptiness. Only when you come out of this state do you recognize that this is where you have been.

The uniqueness of Zen practice lies in totally freeing the mind and its bondage to all objects, visions, or imaginings.

Total freedom is intense. It gives you the power of the force. Now, when you act, you are consciously presence in the present moment at all times. The mind no longer swings like a monkey on a tree nor are you held hostage to your emotions and feelings. You see quite quickly that you are not your life situations. Most people will never experience that and I find this a shame. It is not that they can’t experience this. They can. They have chosen not to do so because they enjoy the fiction of the personhood they have created for themselves. Plato addressed these points avidly in his dialogues. Sadly, no person can give this experience to another. He or she can be guided by a master, but it is up to you to make it happen. This is why it is referred to as self realization.

The take-away: As the renowned Zen master, Yasutani-Roshi aptly said, “You are the dharma to perfection!” Most of us don’t see this. We see the glass is half empty not that it is half full. We fail to see the yin and yang need each other to complete the circle. The good news is that you are already the circle. There is nothing to seek, nothing to buy, and essentially nothing to do. Just be who you really are. So what are you waiting for?

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About The Author

Andrew Scharf is a speaker, coach, and author. He is also a marketing strategist in career transformation at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you are an optimist and seek a holistic approach to fulfilling your objectives on any project, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

How Presence Revealed The I Ching To The World

Thousands of years ago, Fu Hsi a Taoist sage, revealed the I Ching to the world. He was able to do so because he practiced presence. His spirit was free from worry and anxiety. He knew how to see what is real from what we think to be real. He understand that presence, to borrow a phrase from our times, is the power of the Force.

Presence demonstrates how interconnected everything in our world truly is.

What was relevant for Fu Hsi is as relevant to us today. Unless we grasp the purpose of life, we loose the plot and get entangled in the weeds. Our problem is that we refuse to see something which the human eyes cannot physical behold. And yet, the Force is not a concept. It is real and flows in and around all things. The Taoist masters understood this. So have many others. To come to grips with mindfulness, you must let go of your thoughts. Presence is not about words or concepts; It just is.

This is why some practitioners learn to master positive psychology and emotional intelligence.

Their modern minds do not like arcane spiritual concepts or mystical expressions. They prefer concrete, verifiable scientific facts. Presence you will find is so much more. It is presence itself that gave birth to the ideas which let human beings even construct the language and paradigms that these two fields are articulated.

In physics, we learn: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You can’t get any more presence than this.

As your mind chews on this thought, it begins to resonate. You recognize that there is nowhere to hide and nobody to deceive. You can never con yourself. The Self can never be fooled because it is always awake even when you sleep in a state of presence. Now how’s that for positive psychology.

Legend has it, Fu Hsi saw I Ching markings on the coat of a great horse.

In a flash of inspiration, he noticed all that was good in this world. The markings were nothing more than positive psychology grounded in presence. So why is the I Ching so important?

The I Ching conveys emotional intelligence rooted in both animate and inanimate objects. When harnessed, it has the power to let us lead fuller and more meaningful lives in tune with our true nature. “If knowledge is the key to freedom“, then it contains solutions to the riddle we call life experience. It gives meaning and purpose to our lives showing us our Why. Too many people deny their own presence and prefer to be mired in darkness. Open a newspaper. Any newspaper will do and you will see this is so.

Positive psychologists and the principles of emotional intelligence provide us with a more modern framework to suss out our presence.

They do not change anything except the words the mind has dreamt up to convey presence beyond language. Even scientists with their descriptions of quantum mechanics cannot surpass the mechanisms employed by the I Ching. Presence it appears, take many shapes.

Knowledge as we know it has many forms. For example, if we know how to earn a living, we are free from poverty; if we know how to keep ourselves healthy, we are free from illness. If we know how to walk the path, we are free from failure, suffering, and misfortune. Controlling our destiny is something every human being has attempted from the beginning. The problem is that many have forgotten how to do this. Is it any wonder that happiness has alluded them?

Upon discovering the I Ching, Confucius himself said, “If years ago I knew its tenants, I would have given 50 years to its study thus avoiding all the stupid mistakes I made in my youth“. Powerful words coming from another mastermind on navigating the intricacies of presence.

Every culture has understood that universal laws cannot be violated. The Rishis of India would call this concept karma. Fu Hsi comprehended how volatile concepts were because they could be misconstrued or worse manipulated to achieve less than noble goals. As one pundit cited, one definition of the term volatile means to have the power to fly.

The Tibetans refer to the presence principle as having the ability to ride wind horse. Wind horse is released when the kundalini within the body is unleashed. This internal energy is invisible and yet lies coiled up at the base of the spine until it mysteriously is opened. It can be opened by practicing Tai Chi or Yoga. A living master who understands its secrets can also do so on behalf of one who is a sincere seeker.

Wind horse clearly shapes and alters us with every breath we take. It’s function is to guide is into balance and harmony with nature so that we resonate with authenticity. Authenticity is merely another name for truth. Know the truth and the truth will set you free. Sound familiar?

To strengthen our character, life provides us with what one of my colleagues refers to as workout scenarios. Milarepa, a Tibetan master, totally grasped this concept although he did not have to work off his stress at the gym. He called it the manure of life situations, we would prefer to ignore. However, you can not go through this journey and ignore manure. As he cliche states, Shit happens. No wonder the word merde is used so much in France.

What Milarepa taught his disciples was that everything in life is a teaching if we choose to see it as such. To paraphrase the Tibetan, the deeper the doo doo, the more the benefits. The free lunch crowd will not like this precept. Simply put the FLC people believe in entitlement, they do not pay their dues nor do they obey the rules of the road. They believe as JP Sartre claimed, rules are for other people.

Let’s look at another example. Take the case of Bobby Kennedy. His story continues to fascinate. Chris Matthews from Hardball on MSNBC lovingly retells his story in his latest book. His journey during 1968 is one of compassion and empathy. Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy. Bobby would have understood wind horse perhaps not as a Tibetan concept but because he lived the words he spoke. This is key. Bobby spoke to everyone in the same manner. He stood for our higher ideals. During that fateful year, he rode the wings of dragons and realized his true nature.

To know without knowing, to do without doing, Lao Tse puts us on notice. He’s telling us that consciousness lies inside our hearts. You cannot go to Walmart and buy this in aisle five. Since every new idea which percolates is a key, when we arrive at our source, we can learn to channel these ideas to better mankind as a whole. However to draw from this treasure chest demands complete emptiness and surrender to being.

Presence demands nothing form us. There are no preconditions. It’s like be there or be square.

Will the I Ching work for you? Yes, but only if your heart is pure and sincere. The divine cannot be duped with any versions of three card monty. Since diversification in our universe is total, it remains valid because you must follow your own path. Nobody can walk this path for you. Quick or slow is a choice you will make in accordance with your own awareness. This is way the sages always said that knowing the truth is the only game in town. Accepting this or not is strictly up to you. Just remember that the universe could not exist at all unless it was in harmony with itself. Grasp this secret and you are home free.

One word of caution, do not allow yourself to be led astray by a leader. It’s as if Fu Hsi has been speaking to us through the ether. The universe is stimulated by you. In all circumstances, what you believe determines your actions. Your actions determine your future. Om Sai Ram. May the force be with you.

Chime in. Join The conversation. Let us know what you think.

About The Author

Andrew Scharf is a speaker, coach, and author. He is also a marketing strategist in career transformation at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

Why You Should Learn To Master Mindfulness

The new mantra in C-Suite is mindfulness. Mindfulness has many practitioners and for good reason. First, it creates sanity in an insane world and secondly, it gives you the tools for real business leadership. Why? Because it helps make you a master of your Self. Suffice to say, there are those who poo-poo the idea of meditation saying that’s it’s overhyped and will interfere with their carnivorous habits. Finally, they add “if my grandmother had wheels, she’s be a wagon“.

Let me share with you some of the reasons to practice mindfulness.

One of the best reasons to engage in this practice is the following poem by Zen master Ryokan.

I must go there today

Tomorrow the plum blossoms

Will scatter.

Ryokan was a pretty eccentric character, which already is reason to love him. He was renowned for his beautiful verse as well as his calligraphy. What his practice shows us is how to transcend artifice and present spontaneous expressions of pure spirit to those we work with, live with, and most importantly to our own being. When you examine your own life, what do you see? Joy and sadness. Pleasure and pain. Love and loneliness. Illusion and evil. To get to the root of our goodness, we need to go deep inside to find peace of mind. Meditation is the superhighway to take us there. It puts us back in touch with that simple teaching Jesus tried to share with the Pharisees when they demanded to know who he was. Unfortunately, the Pharisees suffered from a hearing disability. You don’t need to be a Christian to get this. It is universal and the birthright of all who breath on this planet. He quietly responded, “I am”.

“Because you love the sound of one hand clapping…”

Start mindfulness now

Close your eyes. Sit in a full lotus if possible. If not just sit in a chair spine erect or lie down in a straight position. Repeat to your self, “I am” to the sound of your breath. In Sanskrit, this is referred to as “So Ham”, the original and most powerful of mantras. For the uninitiated, a mantra is a divine sound vibration activating your own physical form. Without breath, your physical form would cease to function. It’s this energy which gives you resilience.

Now before you go pour yourself another bourbon ‘n branch water, recognize that every soul faces stress. How we manage this stress is determined by our state of mind. However, it is impossible to control the mind because in essence your self sits behind your mind in silence waiting for you to make contact without language. Stilling the mind is the reason normal people as well as sages meditate. The immediate effects of continual practice are calm, focus, and connection to being.

“Because life is more than rock ‘n roll hoochie coo…”

· Calm is your original state of being. Mindfulness puts you back in the driver’s seat when under emotional and stressful situations. Here’s another classic gem by Ryokan to make you laugh:

The mountain village;

Swallowed up by

A chorus of croaking frogs!

Don’t you just love this one. When I read this I was cackling like a hyena. Croaking frogs indeed. Sounds like some of meetings I recently attended.

· Focus. Mindfulness strengthens concentration, and will keep you from getting distracted from the tasks at hand. Recognize there is always something going on around you to make your mind jump like a monkey. Unless you are Hanuman, this is not a good idea. Hanuman was the jokester-in-chief to Lord Rama. So why did Lord Rama love Hanuman so much? Because Lord Rama knew that Hanuman was always focused in a state of oneness and being.

Some colleagues ask me how do I handle the stress of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking doesn’t mean that you do 100 things simultaneously. What it does mean is that you manage your time efficiently and remain focused on the essentials as you are doing one thing at a time with mindfulness.

· Connection. A close brother of mindfulness is love. “Do you know what love is?” to quote the great jazz flutist, Eric Dolphy. Listen to this masterpiece and you will discover love is a state of consciousness. It has nothing to do with having a passion for chocolate. When you treat each human encounter as you would like to be treated you are on the right road. Kindness costs nothing. It creates great vibes and lets you and everyone around you accomplish more. When I coach people one of the comments that comes up most when describing what they like about great managers and business leadership traits is…kindness. This term can be defined by your ability to show compassion and respect with dignity.

So is mindfulness the key to greater success?

You bet it is. It relieves stress, helps you make more friends, and enables you to bond with people in meaningful relationships. Have you forgotten that the basic component of business leadership is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is about compassion. You do not need to be the Buddha and use mindfulness to increase your self-awareness. However, should you decide to walk this path you will inspire others through positive actions.

Learning to meditate is easy. Although there are countless techniques and practices, use the one previously mentioned in this post. It is simple and requires no investment. When you do so, do this in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Early morning and before retiring are best. Set aside 30 minutes. Repeat to your self, “I am” with each breath. Every time you loose focus, gently guide your mind back to its source which lies in the center of your chest and is known by those who practice Yoga as the heart chakra.

Although this technique appears simplistic, it is not as easy as it appears (in the beginning). Your mind will want to jump like a monkey, trying to manipulate your thoughts. The mind is great at this game and holds no prisoners. But once, you know, and I mean truly know that you are not your mind, and that the mind is just a tool, you will overcome this tendency. Remember, do not try to control your breath, just watch your breath. At first, meditation will appear to you like an exercise. Soon you will discover that mindfulness is not a burden but a great joy. May you revel in your own being.

Who knows, maybe one day you will write poems like this one:

Who says my poems are poems?

My poems are not poems.

When you know that my poems are not poems,

Then we can speak of poetry. – Ryokan

What role does mindfulness play in your life?

Share with us your comments on this business practice.

About the author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

How To Handle The Fear Of Failure

“The greatest fear is fear itself.” – Franklin Roosevelt

We are a funny lot. Our minds have us conned and are out of control. One of the major fears we all have is the fear of the future and fear of failure. Nobody likes to fail. However, the fear of failure is like poison and if we give in to this, we condemn ourselves to living a life of lies. Do you realize that when your consciousness is directed outward, you give rise to the mind and the world you perceive? I thought not. Time has come to change tactics. Direct your mind inward. Realize your own source. Return home to the non-manifested by living in the present moment.

A successful response to fear and failure is a question of approach.

The time has come for a cold shower. Sometimes we give into the illusions that surround us. We listen to the advice of well-meaning others without diving into the eternal ever present moment which is now. Everything in a physical form is subject to life and death. Every entity is subject to change. When times are tough we need solace and concrete solutions not as Hunter Thompson described, bouts of fear and loathing.

Relish your Being and set your Self free.

This is not a concept. It is a state of consciousness. The effects of the egotistical mind are all around us and at best can be described as insane. However, something new is emerging. More and more people are breaking away from these outdated concepts and putting themselves back on the road to well-being. Collective mind patterns have condemned us into bondage for eons. Time to end your suffering. Release your pain. Only you can do this. Nobody can do this for you. It’s aa journey we all must make. Some of us make the journey sooner, others of us make it later. But make it we must, willingly or unwillingly.

In the words of Sensei Nyogen Senaki, “You cannot see it with your eyes. You cannot hold it with your hands. You cannot smell it with your nose. You cannot hear it with your ears. You cannot taste it with your tongue. You cannot form it in your thoughts. Here it is“.

He is referring to the happiness and peace which is our birthright. Don’t you want to live in a state of consciousness where you are no longer subject to your worst tendencies and fears? Of course, you do. What do you hope to achieve? Are your goals so material that you have forgotten to bask in your own glory? Optimistically, focus on your goals. Breath deeply and watch the flow of energy go in and exit your body. Forget results. Focus. Dissolve. Repeat.

This technique sounds rather easy and intuitive, but it becomes hard to do when the consequences of fear and failure appear severe.

Let me give you an example: Many people loose their jobs for one reason or another. Some because their companies are downsizing, outsourcing, changing their business model, or whatever. The reasons never make sense because there is no sense to make. Forget rationalizing these decisions. Do not flagellate yourself. Accept this fact with humility. For anyone who has gone through this process, it is a destabilizing position. However, you are better than this. You are not a job function. Believe in Being. Accept your own divinity. Rejoice in your existence. Experience Being and dance in your innermost invisible presence.

“Because you’re living in the material world…”

Just think. There is nothing to buy. There is nowhere to go. Seek but do not grasp. Being can be felt but it can never be mentally understood. It is beyond the mind.

You’ll experience it when you feel the waves of consciousness percolate throughout your body filling you with joy. To regain awareness is what some term enlightenment. Enlightenment is just another term. The ego mind loves terms like this. Forget them all. Just rejoice in wave upon wave of Being.

Our inability to feel this connectives gives rise to fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the known and fear of the future. Oddly enough, our greatest obstacle to bathing in bliss 24/7 is our identification with the mind. Our minds have become our own worst enemy torturing us with its compulsive tendencies. This is why we suffer and everyone thinks suffering is a norm. There is nothing normal about this. It is mental noise which prevents us from revealing in bliss.

Time to recognize that the actions you take in face of challenges is critical to your ability to deal with them.

How do you deal with fear and failure? Share your comments below.

About the author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

What Makes A Great Communicator, The Ultimate Snake Charmer

Years ago, Ronald Reagan was known as the great communicator. Even Bill Clinton had a reputation for walking into a room and charming a den of snakes. When it comes to communications, many of us think we’re not too bad at this game. The truth of the matter can be quite different. We think we are charmers but in reality we are not tapping into the current mood of the people we are trying to persuade.

“People know when you are telling them a lot of B-S…”

Now I don’t know if you have ever taught undergrads, but being persuasive among this lot can give the best communicator a good run for his or her money.

First off, this crowd is not easily impressed. Secondly, there is the question of attention span. Have you every felt that you were getting across to someone only to realize that it was an illusion? Actual understanding is so much more profound. Just ask Ramana Maharishi. He rarely spoke, but his energy vibration was so potent that were you to sit in a room with him, you felt he understood your deepest feelings and emotions.

Presumptions about understanding are rampant with people we think that we know. This allows us to believe we are getting through when in reality we are talking past the very people to whom we wish to communicate. References and touchstones are relative. Being on the same wavelength is really a question of consciousness. The moment you are rushed or preoccupied with other thoughts is the moment that non-communications is taking place.

Simply put, if you have any intentions towards leadership, then you must be a great communicator.

Speak with authenticity and from the heart and you will connect. The moment you try to get clever your message will be askew.

“Are you so easily distracted…”

Here are a few keys to recalibrate how to be a great communicator:

Speak to groups as individuals. This is a hard nut to crack but it is essential. No one wants to feel like a number lost in a crowd. To engage you must make eye contact and show intimacy. The moment you can do this, a bond is fostered and every one in the room feels as if you are speaking to him or her directly. To get to this level of communications is magical. During the messaging you won’t even know because you will have lost all sense of I. It’s a zen-like moment. Satori was never easier.

Talk so people will listen. If the success of a restaurant is location, location, location then the hallmark of a great communicator is to listen, listen, listen to your audience. Gauge your perception and be ready to adapt and change your tone and style according to your audience. Do not drone on nor read from a slide presentation. This is not communicating. There are terms to describe this approach none of which are positive. When your audience becomes participants with feedback and questions contributing to the discourse, know that you are on track and have cracked the code on how to really reach out and touch people.

Remember, communications is not what I say or the highway. It’s a two way street. Actually, it’s a dialogue. Tone and texture play a significant role as does body language. Do you file your nails when someone else is speaking to you? I thought not. However, you don’t think twice about reading email or sending SMS. Actions always speak louder than words. Show you are engaged not distraught or distracted.

The power of connecting emotionally. Maya Angelou, a great communicator once stated: “People will forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Let your emotional intelligence shine otherwise people will know you do not care what they are saying. Don’t let your persona or ego get in the way.

Dress your body language. Some people are afraid of authority and suits in general. Don’t kid yourself, clothes speak volumes whether formal or informal. If you desire frankness be forthright. People will rarely tell you what they tell their peers. The old chestnut that the suit makes the man (or woman) is spot on. Clothes set the tone. The way you speak and move your body reveal unspoken messages.

Being a great communicator is that simple.

“A great hat speaks volumes…”

What are your intentions. Clearly, know what you want talk about. Are you giving a discourse or is your objective to chair an informal discussion. To be convincing you will need to focus on content. Content always matters, It shows intent and defines a sense of purpose. Don’t fill the air with wasted words. Also remember, nobody likes to be talked down to. Avoid jargon. Forget insider terminology. Jargon seems to invite inclusion but winds up excluding the very souls you want to engage with.

Stepping up your game. The best way to do this is to study speakers you admire. Watch how they engage an audience. Notice the dynamics. Quickly, you will notice that there is no one style to communicate. Circumstances can dictate the gravity of speaking. Most great communicators understand human psychology and know to make contact. They feel your pain. They identify with their audience. They do not act as echo chambers but listen closely before making recommendations when asked for advice.

Let’s hear from you! In your view what does it take to be a good communicator? How easy or hard do you feel it is to interact and persuade your audiences.

About the author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

Filakia: When The Sons Of Cavafy Call You To Dinner For Souvlaki

Are there times you want more poetry in your life, but just can’t find the time to fly over to Monastiraki in Athens and stop by the Central Market for one of life’s simple but great taste treats? Then my advice is to nip over to the second arrondissement and grab a souvlaki at Filakia.

Filakia provides one of the best Greek food treats in Paris. Souvlaki and gyros are freshly made with noble ingredients.

The atmosphere is pure hipster in the Montorgueil section of the city. Enjoy your grilled chicken or lamb, shrouded with sun filled tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers laced with a garlicky tzatziki. It is the ideal pick me if you are on the run or need of some serious snack food before dancing in the streets. These pita sandwiches are served with a smile. Bring your own bouzouki music. The ouzo and ice is optional.

“Because you want something to fill your soul…”

Grab a clipboard or gaze up behind the counter for the menu of the day. Filakia will not disappoint.

When the RedHerring crowd checked in the other day for lunch, there was a small cluster of punters, chomping away, knocking back something chilled on this summer day. As we knocked back a few drinks, I could have sworn that I saw someone I thought I had met in Piraeus. He smiled and strummed his santori as he passed in acknowledgement. Hey, this is Paris. Stuff happens.

The menu features 3 types of sandwiches for lunch with a distinct focus on quality. For less than 15 euros you will walk away sated and probably start checking the internet for the next available flight to Greece.

Filakia – 9 Rue Mandar 75002 Paris

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares ideas on the topics of travel & leisure, lost weekends, style and menswear.  He is also an award winning content marketing strategist at RedHerring, the style and menswear blog for Whitefield Consulting Worldwide.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

Holiday French Style & Dance In The Aisles

A little French holiday simply brings out the best in everyone. Are you up for the frissons of Saint Tropez, or simply catching a thief in Cannes?  Go ahead, picture yourself with an Apero lounging about East Mamma in the twelfth. Just think, your train doesn’t leave the Gare de Lyon for another three hours.

I have found as the warmer days are with us that a little French holiday is just the ticket to bring a smile to your face and a bit of spring to your step.

Who doesn’t want to trade the town for one of those picture postcard views with a place by the seaside?

Ironically, my father claims that I’ve been on  a holiday French style ever since I left the States (to work in Paris). That’s fathers for you all over. Send them an Instagram, and they think you’ve gone to the dogs.

Nevertheless, here I still am foot loose and fancy free, out at our local. Here at the Cafe Brazza, everyone is talking French holiday over their morning jolts of espresso and warm croissant. How I do love this place. It is pure theatre. Do you know a better way to begin the day? I rest my case.

Can’t you just picture the holiday action:

Shoulders are shrugged and hands are waved with passion and gusto. This year, the mood indigo focuses on nostalgia. Think Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot by Jacques Tati and you get the gist.

However, as cinema buffs know, Tati’s film will put in you just the right mood for a little French holiday. Forget the news. Forget politics. Book a simple holiday where pleasure is easy and honest. Picture black and white photographs Polaroids and you will catch my drift. When I think of a little French holiday, I see an endless ream of photos like a garland of clamshells hanging over a beach cabin.

Why bugger off to Isle Maurice and get bit by those nasty mosquitoes? Holiday French style and you won’t be disappointed.

Recently, the weather in Paris has stirred my memories of Nice and ‘Exile On Main Street‘. It must be all that sultry sunshine. Eating grilled bar with fennel the other night with a side of mixed cherry tomatoes, capers, anchovies, and rocket salad triggered my memory of lost weekends past. Life might be more than rock ‘n roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do.

Nonetheless, all joking aside, the evenings are now long and the sun doesn’t set until close to 23h00. Quite a delicious feeling, I must admit. It’s like having two days squeezed into one.

Here in Paris, Posetto, the best Italian for ice cream in town is dishing out cones and cups to those fortunate to be here strolling the Marais in what is our greatest season: fariente. Punters are in shorts and sandals, while at the café terraces life is just getting started.

Cafe chat is contagious. Everyone is talking about the “hot” place to be. The general consensus is that Calvi, Nice, l’ile de Rê, and Hossegor are the in places this summer.

To people outside France, only Nice will strike a bell.

As in all things, style demands holiday focus.

To sport the right look, use the local holidaymakers as your style guide for inspiration. In Paris, people choose their attire with deliberation. Issues of cost do arise, but it is more about being style savvy. The French touch, which seems so easy to do, is quite difficult to get right. A little French holiday will put paid to that.

“Dancing to the back beat of your own drummer…”

I won’t say that it appears in their genetic coding, but I will say that there must be something in the water. Perhaps the trendy, Montcalm from the Pyrenees has trace elements we should be more aware of. Women seem sexier and men seem to have that certain unfussy dash which shows true élan.

On holiday, the national mood swings and everyone wants what I used to refer to back in the States as that Cape Cod wind swept and sea bitten cool. Although dress codes vary across the country, there is one thing that you will notice. Style is timeless and effortless. There is a simplicity that anyone with a sense of aesthetics can achieve with just a pinch of effort.


Everything can be bought on location: the right clothes, the perfect bathing suit, suntan oil and even a toothbrush.

Trendy Calvi
Of all the holiday hot spots, Calvi wins hands down as the trendiest place to be seen yet another year. You can spot the in crowd by their sunglasses. By far the shades of choice are Ray Ban aviators. Shirts are loose and of white cotton or linen mix. Dior beach towels dominate La Balagne, Chloe bags with a long strap swing across the chest and Sonia Rykiel dominate the “big” names. My favorite is a bag stating, “Born to shop, forced to work“.

Some of the women look like escapees from Colette on the rue St Honore. Last summer, there was a woman with long blond hair, wearing a long evening dress calling out, “Marcello, Marcello” in one of the piazzas.

Recently, the French press has been running feature after feature on how chic Corsica is as a holiday destination. It is true that the coast on the side of Calvi is ravishing. However, most of the best coves are only accessible by boat: read the word “yacht”. The island has diverse eco zones and offers any adventurer every thing they need to subscribe to the Gypset.

Nice Is Back In Vogue
This Riviera destination has always had allure. Once an Italian city, you can feel straight away that it has more in common with la dolce vita. Not far outside of town is the charming port, Villefranche-sur-Mer. Last year, the town celebrated yet another anniversary of the Rolling Stones mythic recording. In this town, it is always rock ‘n roll…

As you float through the narrow streets, turn up the volume on your iPod when listening to “Plundering My Soul”. To get the R&B vibe, rent an red Alfa Romeo coup for touring the countryside.

The Nicois attitude is very 1970s in the best sense of the term. No one on this side of the Riviera has hang-ups when it comes to bathing and lazing about in the sun. The Fitzgerald’s got good and lost down here and so can you. On the beaches and coves, women flaunt the gifts which nature has endowed them with without any complex. Men for the most part where a tiny slip in black.

The Promenade des Anglais still holds the magic for which the Riviera is justly famous. The lights at night along the magical palm studded crescent will delight the most jaded palates. Bling-Bling is common, but it just adds to the party flavor. The major religion here is sunbathing with fervour. Everyone seems so healthy. Of course the Mediterranean cuisine with its emphasis on fresh, local, and organic play big. Indulge in the real Salade Nicoise and you will see what truly makes this salad a French classic. Eaten on location has nothing to do with variations consumed elsewhere whether in France or worse overseas.

What I have always loved about Nice in summer is the town truly sparkles. Old Nice is where the action is and wears its Italian sense of style with nonchalance.

If you feel at home with the gingerbread people, artists, and designers, you will absolutely love the fireworks display on Assumption.

Seeing the light show reminds me of that famous scene in Hitchcock’s, It Takes A Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. The whole area reeks of high heels, Rolex submariners, and Rivas. The opulence can be enjoyed as a perfect antidote to the any economic crisis psychology fostered by the grey skies and high seriousness in Northern latitudes. Come down and party. After all, everyone here is an exile from some street.

BCBG Paradise at L’ile de Rê
The BCBG tribe have colonised l’ile de Rê. It is as if everyone from Neuilly and Versailles decided to hold a Downeast clam bake just outside of Seal Harbor. At the beach, Portes-en-Rê, it will feel like old home week. Bad taste and bling have been outlawed.

Style trends are preppy. Find yourself a vintage Madras sports jacket to go with your Bermuda shorts. Leave your socks at home. Let your feet rejoice. Ralph Lauren would feel right at home here. The beaches are sand and the smell of Atlantic salt clings to the hair and skin. The island is very civilised and delightful for cocktails and late evening shindigs with family & friends.

Bring a bag of jazz records featuring Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy.

It will give you the ideal soundtrack to plan excursions. If you need to shake your booty, skip this place and head straight to Ibiza.

Cool Hossegor
Further down the coast as you hit the Landes country is Hossegor. It is home to the French kahuna and you can surf your heart out. Here, surfing style dominates everything. Quicksilver board shorts and wet suits predominate. Because of the surf attitude, American trends and brands run big here. Even vintage Levis jeans are common currency among the surf set.

The younger crowd of pretty young things to quote Evelyn Waugh, is particularly keen on bright colours reminiscent of the late 1960s and flamboyant prints. There is quite a Venice Beach scene here. After a heady day on the surf, there are enough clubs for you to dance the night away until dawn.

Getting Here
All major airlines land at Paris-CDG and provide excellent connections to internal flights or train links.

Join The Conversation. Please share your thoughts on what you love most about France.

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares ideas on the topics of travel & leisure, lost weekends, style and menswear.  He is also an award winning content marketing strategist at RedHerring, the style and menswear blog for Whitefield Consulting Worldwide.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.



22 Essentials To Career Planning

If beach holidays didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. Here’s 22 essentials to career planning when the party’s over. If you are looking to change jobs or apply to business school, perhaps a little career planning is in order when you are chilling out in Trouville. Let me share with you a list of 22 essentials worth keeping in mind during the holiday season.

Start by sorting out the jewels in your life. This is much more than downsizing. It is a question of recalibrating your career calculus. Why be left holding the bag?

“Because you need the right sound track…”

My dear friends, L & K recently emailed me this rather curious list. They are currently staying at a cedar bungalow in one of those charming Hill Stations nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Certain sages in India claim that “You are what you eat” – and what you don’t eat. Similarly, life depends on what you keep and what you don’t keep. There are many things in life that people keep, but only a few are truly worth holding on to. I hope you find their career planning chart as inspiring as I do.

1) Keep Calm

Life can be unnerving. If you don’t make an effort to keep collected and focused, you could easily lose your cool. Take regular, conscious deep breaths to center yourself. This is a more sanguine approach to running through the streets shouting, “Godzilla, Godzilla, Godzilla…

2) Keep Your Chin Up

Great for your posture. Guaranteed to diminish your double chin. Best of all, it helps you maintain an – I can handle this attitude -. By keeping your chin up, you keep your head above water. Perfect for all career planning.

3) Keep Your Spirits High

Hanging out with Bob Marley’s heirs in Kingston doesn’t count unless your career planning involves running a coconut plantation. Always maintain a joyful attitude. No one can do this for you. When the going gets rough, count your blessings. Don’t be cynical. Everyone has blessings. So do you.

4) Keep Your Word

A gentleman or gentlewoman’s word should be their bond. Stand by what you promise. Think before speaking. Once a word is uttered and released into the ether, its vibration can never be erased. If you need inspiration, consider John Lennon’s refrain in Across The Universe.

5) Keep In Time

Don’t be swayed by others. Swing to your own rhythm. Although everyone must adapt to their circumstances, it is best to dance to your own soul music. Remember what Aretha Franklin said, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

6) God Bless The Child

Billy Holiday was right. God bless your inner child. It is your access point to creativity. Marvel, imagine and invent with a carefree smile. Have doubts? Examine the creativity of Picasso and Matisse during their mature years. Playful as kittens, don’t you think! Career planning for them was a continuous adventure into the unknown. No wonder they produced creative marvel after creative marvel.

7) Keep Abreast Of The Times

At a certain point in our lives, we feel swept away. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t get caught in a time warp nor let current events sand bag your sanity. The joy of living in any time is to be present. If you start asking yourself, Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? This should be a signal to get out of your mental closet.

8) Keep In Shape

Your shape reveals your state of health. Remember, the body is the vessel in which you journey through life. Always carry a first-class ticket by keeping it healthy and strong.


9) Keep Your Mouth Shut

Some people talk too much. Avoid being too verbose. Sometimes, silence speaks more eloquently than words. Miles Davis was right when he explained to some know-it-all that the space between notes is silence. The melody of his music is carried on the back of the absence of sound.

10) Keep Good Friends

Real friends are hard to find. Nurture friendships that make your life more wonderful and meaningful. Truly poor is the man who has no genuine friends.

11) Keep Great Memories

Each day you breath, you have the power to leave a potent legacy. Memories of cherished moments stand out and are more valuable than a jeweled necklace. When you live each moment beautifully, you string together these magical episodes and they truly sparkle. Just ask Jimmy Stewart. It’s a wonderful life.

12) Keep A Journal

Writing a journal is therapeutic. It allows you to speak to your inner being. Jot down your dreams and aspirations. Inspiration and strength are nourished in the manure of experience. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

13) Keep Giving Thanks

Not many people say grace before meals these days. Yet giving thanks builds a positive energy frequency and feeds the power of bringing more abundance into your life.


14) Keep Going Forward

Even if you scream, Stop the world I want to get off, this is not happening. Learn to be comfortable with change. Emotional baggage only weighs you down. Why not float like a butterfly? Mohammed Ali did.

15) Keep Out Of Danger

Most of us are not thrill seekers. If you love extreme sports, go for it. However, there is no need to seek out trouble unless you are a danger junkie. Life is full of surprises. You never know what fate has in store.

16) Keep Up The Good Work

Just as unhappiness feeds on itself, so does success. The more you do, the more you achieve; the more you achieve, the better you become. Success is the fruit of your engagement. Enjoy the process. Pat yourself on the back.

Why act like a sloth weighing moss spores between your toes, when unleashing your inner dragon is more thrilling. Kundalini awakening is more fun than collecting postage stamps.



Such souls couldn’t be more wrong. This is where your journey first starts to pick up steam. Youth is an attitude. This does not mean you should neglect your body. Keep it strong and supple. One pundit I know stipulates: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

18) Keep On Dancing

Life is a dance through time and space. You can Cha-Cha, Tango, or Rock ‘n Roll. Embellish whatever music life plays for you.


Get excited and script the choreography, which pleases you best. When you’re light on your feet, you’ll feel happiness swell in your heart.

19) Keep On Loving

Without trying to sound silly, you wouldn’t be here if your parents didn’t hug each other in a tender embrace. Love makes the world go round and is the noblest sentiment a human being can share with another. So share the wealth.


20) Keep On Dreaming

Dreams keep us alive and vibrant even under the most challenging of circumstances. Master the power of manifestation and learn to turn your dreams into reality. Everything starts as an idea. Hard work and perseverance lubricate your actions. Before you know it, your achievements will start pouring in.

21) Keep On Hoping

Never lose hope. “Tomorrow is another day” as Scarlett O’Hara once quipped. However, you don’t live in tomorrow land. You only live now. It is in this moment you change your approach to career planning. It is the only time you every have.


22) Keep On Believing

Belief is the mother load. What you believe you are is what you are. No matter what spiritual path you find yourself on, recognize that belief is not carved into clay tablets. They are energy vibrations, which can change. Make your beliefs a direct experience. Don’t just mechanically repeat the jargon we all learned as kids. Blind belief is what it sounds like. Simply blind. Strain your beliefs like a chai wallah makes tea.

Life is not a cake walk. Negative feelings and painful experiences happen to us all. They can be hard to handle. The best way to get through the sticker bushes is to forgive, forget, and move on. A heavy heart will only weigh you down. When I feel a bit down in the dumps, I quickly remember the advice I received from a Buddhist monk. Here’s what he said:

Feel comfortable with flowing water through your fingers. Do not envy the poor soul who tries to grasp the water by closing his or her fist. When such a person opens their fingers, they find their hands empty. Just be content to hold the sound of water in your heart.

Join The Conversation. Please share your thoughts on what’s most essential to you.

About The Author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, apply for an MBA or college, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

What It Means To Work In Harmony

Last week, I chaired a seminar in Bangalore discussing with professionals how to turn their lives around by working in harmony. You don’t need to be forty to have a mid-life crisis. I know people who are twenty facing similar issues. These issues devolve around finding meaning in the workplace in an environment filled with acrimonious toadies, money grubbers, and power hungry Samaritans all seeking to take advantage of perceived opportunities or weaknesses they find in others.

Our panel was tackling how new approaches professionals find themselves facing demand more than face saving gestures of manipulating technology and digital communications. Influencers can certainly play a part, but the rest of us owe it to ourselves to stand apart with dignity and not get sucked into a whirlwind of tit for tat or degenerate into conspiracy theories on why the world is not the place we wish it to be. From my perspective as an entrepreneur, counselor, and story teller I know a thing or two about how to present yourself with authenticity and make the right pitch without selling out your core values.

“When you’re thinking life is like a rainbow…

Story telling has always been part of my world whether it was enjoying Kim or listening to the sound of Jeeves warbling to his master on the ways of decorum and proper behavior. As the Zen master Renzai stated, “You must meet the world head on in a spirit of truth and authenticity. Forget how your mind would like it to be and concentrate on how it actually is“.

As I grew up and matured, my mind often debated putting aside these Zen virtues in order to deal with the more realistic or traditional academic and career choices. Through my career journey, I worked as a bartender, waited tables, and even acted as a consultant but I was always doing so within the guidelines of what others told me to do.

It wasn’t until I was 30 that I realized that I had to take back control of my life, and this decision radically reshaped my life. It put me front and center, or as some saw it, on the razor’s edge walking a thin line, balancing what I knew to be worthwhile pursuits v. just trying to earn a living. One thing I was very well aware of was I didn’t want my life to be a version of Game of Thrones or The Apprentice.

“Who doesn’t look for shortcuts…”

Then one day, someone approached me during a class I was teaching and asked me for help and counsel. I had never thought of myself as a counselor before, but the person in question said, “When you speak, there is a voice of authenticity. You speak from the heart, and are able to draw from concrete experiences, which make the listener sit and take notice. Your words resonate in a way, few individuals communicate.

What this experience taught me is that work isn’t simply about thinking of a way to put food on the table. It showed me I had the power to create value in the things I am passionate about. It also taught me that there are times you need to showcase why your work is valuable and that it can change someone’s life. This was a heady message to come to grips with. By doing so, I recognized that I could positively impact on the lives of individuals as well as corporate organizations.

Today, when I describe myself to people as a storyteller, I do so with the conviction that a little positive branding can position someone to change his or her life. I’ve never been keen about job titles and never think of myself as better than anyone else. If the Dalai Lama can describe himself as a ‘simple monk’ that is a lesson for us all on the virtues of genuine humility. After all, how do you expect someone to connect with you if you walk over their head or think that you are superior to them. You simply can’t. It doesn’t work and comes across as pompous or disingenuous.

“When you’re filled with thanks giving…”

Work should be so much more than prestige, titles, and the like. It should be a legacy of changing lives with a lasting impact. When you can make a difference, why sit on the sidelines or sell your talent just to the highest bidder? Your career should be integrated into your life not apart from it. Compartmentalizing life is not holistic, leads to burnout and dislocation. To keep it all together requires balance. It is the same advice the Buddha once gave a musician: “If the strings are too tight, they will snap; If they are too loose, you won’t be able to play. Taut with balance, and you will hear a melodious sound guaranteed to bring you harmony that you can share with others“.

Does your professional life resonate with this kind of music? Perhaps now is the time you take the necessary steps to overcome your challenges. Remember, you can’t teach the world to sing unless you yourself have achieved a question of balance.

Join the conversation: What does work mean to you?

About The Author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of thought leadership, career management, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, apply for an MBA or college, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

Self Awareness: How To Be Your Self Even At Work

“Because sometimes we feel torn apart…”

Most of our time is spent at work. Some analysts calculate that we spend at least a third of our lives engaged in our professional activity. Add in the amount of time we spend sleeping and there is not much time left over for any sense of self awareness. Oddly enough, time unlike other commodities in our possession is not a renewable resource.

Isn’t it time to take our lives and the time we have back into our own hands with a sense of self awareness?

The workplace has its own arcane set of rules if we are to succeed. Conformity is a given if we are to make any headway. Unless of course, you own and run your own organization. Trying to please your supervisor can be a very tedious and thankless task.

“Everybody is trying to be my baby…”

The Problem With Being Serious

Because we are hell bent on success, we have forgotten what success really means. Doing whatever it takes seems focused, but inevitably leads us into the weeds on self awareness. Delivering results is par for the course on any job function. However, long hours do not mean that we are efficient or productive and often get in the way of letting our personalities shine through in the workplace.

Because many workplaces do not want us to be ourselves, we wind up role playing just to make a living. The end result of this behavior is that our work languishes because we are left unfulfilled and hence unhappy. Any positive sense of self awareness falls to the waste side. To shine like a star with a constant light, you will need to find a metier in which you can be your self and exhibit your passion. Otherwise, you will be just one of many struggling souls waiting for the weekend.

Showing Your True Colors

When your true colors shine through not only does your performance stand out but you have a sense of self worth of knowing that what you do really matters. You no longer need to try and impress because accomplishment always stands out. Before you know it, new projects and opportunities will come looking for you and not the opposite. Liberating the inner you is just the starting point for self awareness. Now you will begin to understand what the gift of life has offered us: a chance to make a difference one project at a time.

“When you want to make an impression…”


How Leila Stood Out

Every one of our colleagues has special talents. Work doesn’t always let us exhibit them because the context does not allow for this. At one social gathering, Leila decided to serenade us. We hadn’t a clue that she could sing, let alone play jazz piano. And then we all knew. On the weekends, she was practicing with her band and soon to make a record in a nearby recording studio. Would she have a hit album? We would find out. However, what this showed all of us is that we each needed to express ourselves beyond spread sheets and powerpoint presentations.

What Leila understood is that in our imagination, we have the power to configure our own world. A career starts in the mind and is un-manifest. Through the power of thought, we have the will to create and bring to fruition what lies in our imagination. Such is the power of thought. Uncontrolled thoughts can lead us to despair and unhealthy activities. Positive thinking can reshape our world. Their are many dreamers who changed our world. You need not change our world, but you can remake and change your own life.

Let Your Personality Shine Through

Now it is true that in the office, Leila did not stand on a desk and belt out standards. Nor do you. There are other ways to let your personality shine. A classic form of self expression is the way we dress. Many corporate environments either have strict dress codes or unspoken ones. Ever notice the color schemes of most people’s work clothes? Black, navy, and grey dominate. These are deemed serious tones for a work environment. Wearing bright pink or orange is not encouraged. Color however, can play a demarcating role in the choice of your accessories. Women in general, have more latitude here than men. Yet, men too can show some ingenuity through careful planning and a view towards style without being ostentatious.

“When variety is the spice of life…”


Building Your LinkedIn Profile

As professionals know, LinkedIn is a professional platform to allow people to search for new opportunities or promote their organizations. Here style does matter in terms of language, self-expression, and yes, even your online photograph. Give thought to how you promote your online persona. Do you want to come across as many do or do you want people to remember your profile? By exercising the right tone you can shine out without being obnoxious. It is a question of crafting the right message to your target audience. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to display your personal flair, sophistication as well as your expertise. Don’t you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward?

Identifying Opportunities

When the occasions arise, join groups, discussions, and activities which highlight that inner you. This does not mean becoming a showboat. It means joining a conversation or discussion where your voice is heard and you are recognized by the attributes you can bring to he table. If you do not share your expertise or talent nobody will ever know what you are capable of.

Humor is a distinct tool at every professionals elbow. However, different cultures value and see humor differently. Don’t use humor to ridicule. Use it to lighten tense or pressured scenarios. Getting people to laugh builds bonds and shows your humanity.

Decorating your workspace is another way you can let your inner self hang out. Now, I’m not suggesting you call in an interior designer. Most of us work in open spaces and the old-fashioned office spaces no longer apply. You can however, have pictures on your desk, bring in plants, and if you are fortunate enough to have your own private space, to hang pictures or photos on the walls. One colleague had a photo of her master on her desk. When seen by others, it generated discussions about yoga, diet and well-being. In my experience, sharing non-work related passions and activities get us to bond better with each other. It highlights our interests and shows a multidimensional quality of what makes our inner being tick.

Join the conversation: How does self awareness make your personality shine out at the office?

About The Author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of thought leadership, career management, and self awareness. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, apply for an MBA or college, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

Evaluating European Business School Rankings: Navigating The Unknown

The performance of European Business School Rankings are clearly the first place to start when applying to business school. Were I applying to business school today, I would clearly investigate European business school rankings. Please note that xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiments are fueling student choices across the EU.

Hate crimes motivated by religion or race are up 41% across the UK following the Brexit referendum. UK politics has therefore, created a climate of instability. Having stated the obvious, the UK still offers Europeans and non-Europeans an outstanding business education for those who can afford to pay for their studies at London Business School, Imperial College, Said (Oxford), or Judge (Cambridge).

If you are applying to business school, please investigate the European business school rankings to make sure that you are making the right choice.

If you are considering an MBA or Masters degree program, now is the time to start getting your applications together.  To help you decide on the best schools to apply, evaluate the top 25 European business school rankings published by the FT.

As a rule, the FT business school rankings are dependable and the most reliable when evaluating where you want to go to school.

Depending on the criteria used to evaluate a business school, applicants should weigh the following points: career placement track records, academic strength and flexibility, and ROI. Flexibility is another vector worthy of your consideration.
“Paris offers a business school scene second to none…”

Given that we live in an age of disruption, students and young professionals should draw up a strategic road map with alternate paths to career success. European Business School Rankings are just the starting off point. What I find interesting is that the major players are usually in the top quadrant of the European Business School Rankings year in and year out. Their positions vary from year to year. It is rare to see a newcomer break ranks into the top 5 although this does happen.

Added to the mix this year are the rise of nationalist and populist sentiments sweeping much of the continent. Do not underestimate the impact of Brexit. London has been one of the key business school targets of many Europeans in the past. Brexit calls into question the future validity of attending school in the UK. The effects of the referendum are hard to evaluate at the moment. Concern focuses on international mobility and visiting faculty members. If you are jittery on the future of the UK, other European countries have outstanding business schools worthy of consideration. The cost of living is also much lower in France, Spain, Holland, Germany or Switzerland. The European Business School Rankings are therefore, a guide to making the right choice for your career development.

“Applying to business school is almost like swimming upstream…”

When evaluating your short list, recognize that location, location, location matters.

Chances of getting a job after graduation vary from country to country. Students from highly ranked institutions tend to find jobs more easily abroad. Lastly, not all business schools are created equally. The best feature innovation, entrepreneurial incubators, offer program flexibility, and in a nutshell offer their students advantages lesser schools cannot. Forget the marketing hype, brochures, and trade fairs. Consult with alumni. Get real feedback and examine the sectors that grads really get placed.

If you have any questions on the application process or desire help on which schools best suit your profile, contact us directly for further assistance at

European Business School Rankings

1 London Business School
2 HEC Paris
4 IE Business School
5 University of St. Galen
6 SDA Bocconi
= ESADE Business School
8 IESE Business School
10 Rotterdam School of Management
11 Said (University of Oxford)
12 ESCP Europe
13 Judge (University of Cambridge)
14 EDHEC Business School
15 Vlerick Business School

*(The above list is courtesy of the FT)
Join The Conversation: If you have done an MBA or attended a business school program in Europe, what would you advise candidates when contemplating the European business school rankings.

About The Author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, apply for an MBA or college, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

MBA Education: How To Write Compelling Copy To Get Admitted

“Because you want a top MBA…”

If you are applying for an MBA education or undergrad business school this season, you are going to need to define and target your marketing message. Make sure that the institutions to which you are attracted, sit up and take notice of your profile. Forget the competition and how many people actually apply.

Concentrate on making your MBA education sales pitch authentic, vibrant, and attractive.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

To pull the trigger on a specific audience implies understanding what drives the admissions and selection process. It is more than just a knee jerk reaction. I advise talking to MBA admissions staff and alumni. Examine the profiles of people who were accepted. Secondly, speak directly with MBA decision makers. By doing so, you are better positioned to generate a personality of purpose.

Applying for an MBA education is a step by step process.

“It should integrate your professional goals, future aspirations, personal story, and existing expertise. Let these reasons demonstrate how your presence will enhance the next incoming class.”

2. Interview Your Target Audience

Start with market research. Examine past profiles. Speak with alumni. Knowledge of your audience is crucial to crafting your own profile. Admissions professionals will not let you interview them in the traditional meaning of the term. Instead you will need to ascertain the types of professionals they have a preference to recruit. Armed with this information, you can see if you really have the credentials that they seek before you build your storyline.

3. Market Research Analysis

Market research for an MBA education is useless unless you collate the data.

Identity themes and patterns. You just might find that classic business school choices might be unsuitable. On the other hand, these details can give you the courage to stretch and apply to highly competitive programs. Don’t forget to take time and cost into account.

Research shows that one year MBA education is just as comprehensive as two year programs and can be more cost effective.

Calculating Results

Since doing an MBA education is a substantial investment in time and money, best to understand what business schools seek versus what you think they want.

Brochures and websites are at best marketing tools. Assess the language they use. In this manner when you construct your essays to sell your assets and sense of purpose you will resonate with what admissions officers are looking for. When you build this kind of connection, you will get accepted.

Lessons To Learn

Business schools are spoiled for choice. Most people who apply are qualified. They however, do not all have the same personal story. Keying your personal story to your accomplishments and academic needs leads to a positive outcome. Focus on this rather than get bogged down in techniques and modalities. What people care about most is getting results.
Some MBA applicants either get rejected or do not get accepted by their wish list business school targets. How can this be? Either your credentials are not strong enough or your personal story does not grab the admissions committees attention. If this is your case, make an assessment. Examine the elements you put forward and see where you can improve your application before you resubmit. Recalculating your target list could make a big difference the second time around.

Crafting a powerful marketing message starts with knowing who you are, what you really want, and how you can make a difference.

Once you understand the MBA admissions process, the commitment the application demands you will be better placed to get the results you seek.

Getting counsel from someone who has helped others succeed will give you an enormous advantage. They can help you cut out the guess work, deliver a helicopter overview as well as set up a series of guidelines to get you from A to Z.

About The Author

Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, apply for an MBA or college, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.

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Breathless In Paris: Because You’re In Love For The First Time

“When smoke gets in your eyes…”


Reason dictates that you won’t be the the first one to be breathless in Paris. Everyone has done it from Ernest Hemingway to Audrey Hepburn. Because this town is so tactile and sensual, it is easy to love even in the rain. Who hasn’t been breathless under these conditions! This is a city with no limits on where being breathless is concerned.

So what should you do when you finally get here? I advise throwing caution to the winds.

Galavant round town, ride a bicycle, sip champagne cocktails, or shop till you drop.

The most up-to-date guides are Time Out (English) or Branche Paris (French). Both list nightclubs, trendy restaurants, museums, shops and the like. There are even hipster venues certainly worth a detour. However, coming to Paris is so much more. It’s really about strolling the streets at length and mixing with the locals. Personally, I’d start off by finding a jazz bar filled with gypsies, sip Manhattans, and count my blessings. You are not in Boise, Idaho.

“Because falling in love is never a rational act…”

For example, if you love open-air markets, there couldnt be a better time to come and peruse. There are local flea markets during the warmer months in just about every neighborhood. One of my fav’s is on Boulevard de Rochechouart. As an empty your attic do, it features everything from vintage Hermes scarves, the odd Charles Eames chairs, and even 1960s jazz vinyl.

Who wouldn’t be breathless over this.

For foodies, don’t miss the Marche Bio on Bd Batignolles up in the seventeenth. It starts when the early morning sun is uncurling its fingers of dappled rosy light. Watch the locals eat hot potato pancakes and sipping cups of Moroccan mint tea. On second thought, don’t watch, join right in.

Another vendor is doing a brisk business in Fedora hats at reasonable prices. Buy one for yourself and your partner. Then go drink thick creamy jolts of hot chocolate. It is the perfect accompaniment to a flaky croissant. What breakfast would be like without this noble morning danish, I couldn’t imagine.

Even Toad from Toad Hall has his favorite bakery, LeParrer on rue de Chateau in Neuilly fly over a couple dozen at least once a week to his estate in England on Sundays.

Toad is always breathless on comestibles, but he is Toad.

If you prefer to sit down, why not check out Café d’Or in the fashionista heartland on rue St. Honore. The espresso is like rocket fuel and the strawberry jam is sweetness incarnate. While you are at it, why not pretend to be Scott Schuman, the fashion photographer. After all, the cafe is kitty corner to Colette. There’s plenty of eye candy around. Who doesn’t love this! This street really is the ideal catwalk.

“Who isn’t breathless in the evening…”

For lovers of authentic workwear, why not check out at the Haut Marais. There tiny boutiques featuring Filson, Red Wing footwear, and denim to die for. Before you go better eat a hearty Breton meal at the Breizh Cafe on the rue de Vielle du Temple. Definitely the most savory galettes and crepes in town.

If you are looking for a soundtrack to download while you strut the streets, I would recommend anything by Sidney Bichet.

This is the perfect jazz music where a chilled flute is just an outstretched hand away. Otherwise, look to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to serenade your promenade . If that doesn’t put you in the mood for love, nothing will.

Everyone who comes to Paris should have a reason to celebrate. Forget the dross you have heard about the French at home. Stereotypes are so boring, don’t you think? Speak some French and the Parisians will welcome you like long lost family.

Love and partying do not need a calendar date. Romance is the heartbeat of the City of Light. Just ask Gene Kelly. Few cities in this world personify love as well as Paris. Imagine you are the couple in a Louis Vuitton video. You could even set the stage for your own midnight in Paris. One word of caution: falling in love is never a rational act. So why not throw all caution to the winds. Life is short.

Panoramic Views
A French poet once claimed the best view in Paris was from the top of the Eiffel Tower. My personal favorites include watching the horizon from any of the beautiful bridges spanning the Seine. Who can be too jaded not to want to see this? There are so many to choose from. Forget the love locks. It is so yesterday.

Cafe Lingering
Find a nice café and just linger. While you’re at it, why not write your own journal. I am particularly taken with the Cafe Nemour at Palais Royal. Watch the show. There is even live classical music out front in the piazza. Their terrace is one of the sunniest to dawdle, slurp espresso, or sip cocktails. If you didn’t bring a moleskin notebook, you can acquire one at La Civette just across the street.

Stroll The Champs Elysees
Now, I know what you are thinking. What could be more cliched than the Champs? Well, quite frankly, nothing. However, it is still the most majestic boulevard in Europe, and the French would claim, the world. Hey, why be modest? It really is spectacular.

If you are afraid that you will spend all your money, just keep your hands stuffed in your pockets.

That’s what Jean-Paul Belmondo did. Pretend you are in the film classic, Breathless by Jean-Luc Goddard. The city lies open in front of you, and if you spread out a map, you’ll see, it is shaped like an oyster.

Gimme Shelter
Take the metro to Porte de Bagnolet. Philippe Starck designed his hottest boutique hotel here, Mamma Shelter, and the ambiance is street-country. Many artists, sculptors, and musicians now call this neighborhood home. If you are not careful, you could go home with a beautiful girl on each arm.

Explore the Musee Guimet
Love this little gem, which houses the best collection of Asian art treasures in the city. Wander around a recreation of Angor Wat. The museum is light and airy.

The Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese collections are rich and you can get lost for hours.

Dreaming of your next adventure on the Silk Road to Cathy following in the footsteps of Marco Polo. It is the perfect cultural appetizer before having lunch in a Laotian restaurant in the thirteenth.

The Pyramid
The setting of the Tuileries gardens is a living tableau in Impressionism. I.M. Pei’s transparent pyramid gives new meaning to breaking the glass ceiling, and is the official entrance to the Louvre. There is always an exhibit to captivate your attention. Come early, the place is always packed. Another intimate café worth the detour is the Café Marly, which sits in the courtyard facing IM Pei’s stark architectural gem. The café is glam and an ideal place to have lunch. Inside, you have the impression of taking tea in an eighteenth century apartment.

A Candlelight Supper
For dinner, I suggest treating yourself by going to Tante Marguerite. The restaurant is a jewel in back of the Assemble Nationale on the rue de Bourgogne. This quiet corner of the seventh arrondissement is home to many culinary pleasures. The restaurant is modern, yet intimate. It is excellent value for money with its set menu. The chef and owner are from Burgundy so the wine list is fit for kings. Drink the Meursault at your own risk. What I am trying to imply is that one bottle will be insufficient as the golden nectar cascades down your throat following bites of a wonderful pan fried sea bass on a bed of baby spinach.

To cap the night off, you might as well through caution to the dogs, and spend a small hour with a nightcap at the Hotel Meurice and if I may dare add, a cigar.

I’m in love for the first time. Don’t you know it’s gonna last. It’s the love that lasts forever. It’s the love that has no past.
John Lennon

Join The Conversation. Please share your thoughts on being breathless in Paris.

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of travel, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at RedHerring, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

Dateline Maine: The Way Life Should Be

“The way life should be…”

Maine has mystique, the moment you cross the bridge from New Hampshire. Somehow even the air smells different. It is briny with a hint of pine resin. You are entering another realm and it is tangible.

However, Maine is more than a geographical statement. It is a state of mind.

I like to believe that the best of the Yankee spirit survives here. The people are resourceful and have a sense of humor. The seacoast and landscapes are stunning. Andrew and Jamie Wyeth have captured its majesty in painting. Their museum in Rockport stands as a testament to Maine communities and their authenticity.

Compared with other States in New England, Maine is vast.

It encompasses forests, rivers, lakes and a rugged coastline. Perfect for sailing and hobnobbing with friends. Of course, there are rituals such as cocktail time. Summers feature eating lobster on a pier and strolling down Main Street, enjoying homemade ice cream. The state can even boast of Acadia National Park on MDI, one of America’s greatest natural jewels.

“Number 54, your lobstah is ready…”

Thanks to my parents, I spent every summer here. It is perfect to indulge my passion for exploring the great outdoors. On rainy days, I kept company with Thoreau, Edward Abby, and Aldo Leopold. To anyone with a grain of sensibility, it is a sailor’s paradise.

I once met a chap, who literally referred to himself as The Old Man Of The Sea. He ran a lobster boat out of Southwest Harbor. In summer, he took visitors out to the more remote islands such as Baker. He explained to me on an extended hike that he would have been dead if he remained where he worked in a factory. Where was that I wondered? New Jersey was his answer.

Maine’s sensibilities have always been tied to the great outdoors and thrifty aesthetics. Take the case of Quoddy, one of the champions of ivy league style. Now, handsewn moccasins are nothing new in Maine. Families have been wearing them for generations.

“When you’re swimming to Seal Harbor…”

What many people will not remember is that the shoe industry in the States was once concentrated in New England. Many of my favorites were made in Maine. In those days, US 1 featured outlets from Freeport to Bucksport. Like many of the products we loved, they went the way of the dodo. The good news is that some survived. If you look closely, you will find that some firms still uphold this noble Yankee tradition. Here’s just a small list: Town View Leather, Wassookeag Moccasins, and Eastland.

Speaking of Maine, here’s a bit of trivia: Did you realize that Quoddy once made shoes for LL Bean?

LL Bean is a Maine classic. The original store would have blown your mind. It is still a Maine institution for hunting and fishing enthusiasts.

Today, the Quoddy workshop is located in Lewiston, the historical home of Maine shoe manufacturing. The headquarters and heart of the company remain in Perry, on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay on US Route 1. Although this road was not immortalized like Route 66, it should have been.

Like any manufacturer of high quality products, it is quite challenging to remain contemporary. Quoddy has managed to navigate these tricky waters and have remained true to the DNA of the brand. Two of the firm’s eponymous shoes are the Boat Moc and the Canoe Moc. Both models feature Vibram rubber soles all handsewn to the upper over a layer of cushioning for that classic moccasin feel.

What I also love is that the perimeter collar lace is fully functional so you can snug up the heel for a custom fit. As the firm claims these shoes are as “sleek and sturdy as a Hinckley yacht”. Now if you know anything about boats, this one is the cat’s whiskers. The shoes are highly prized by preppy fans in Japan, which should not be surprising. The Japanese are fanatics on quality. So if you are looking to give your feet an preppy voice, Quoddy is a good place to start.

Happy sailing.

Chime In & Join The Conversation. Share your adventures Down East.

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor at Whitefield Consulting Worldwide.

For further inspiration, visit our blog & share our posts with your friends.

Dateline Paris: Savoring French Nighthawks

“More than baguettes and berets…”


Figuring out what constitutes French style is like understanding the sphinx.

You know it when you see it, but it’s hard to replicate French style. This is simply because tangible cultural trends are organic. To paraphrase the town’s literary saint, Marcel Proust, Paris is ephemeral and effervescent.


Watching the fashionistas on the streets near the Canal Saint Martin will provide you food for thought. Across town near the Tuilleries gardens, grab a table at a cafe kitty corner to Colette on the rue Saint Honore. There are enough French style cues on location to fashion any look book. Food for thought, if you have a keen eye.

“When you are searching for stollen pleasures…”

There were more hipsters lounging around this week than a cocked hat has feathers. One chap was sporting a tartan raincoat and tweed slippers. Yes, I know its July.

In this spirit of creativity, we decided to send our style mavens off the beaten path to the far reaches of town to provide you with another side of French style. What we’ve discovered is a young and vintage vibe far from the catwalk.

L’epicerie du 4  is worth the journey out to the nineteenth by metro. Perfect for shopping and style gazing. The shop stocks foie gras from Duperier, chocolates from Bonnat, and gingerbread from Mulot & Petitjean. Bring a basket. You won’t leave empty handed. That’s a promise! Then head straight to the canal.

With #ParisPlage in full swing, La Villette will keep your head turning.

Rock ‘N Roll Circus 
5, rue Andre-Antoine 75018 Paris

One of my friends calls this place a dacha for stoners. Absinthe is the big drink here. This place was launched by UFO and Orange Mecanique back in 2010. With more than 40 vodkas to choose from, formica tables, and a sense of pure retro, it is perfect for TGIF. The crowd is feisty and ready for anything. Bring a friend and shake till dawn.

Le Rigoletto
337 rue de Bellville 75020 Paris
Imagine a pizza joint with neon lights at Porte des Lilas. The crowd love the pizzas and calzones, but they really come to this underground venue for the weekend concerts and punk-noise-metal. Picture David Carradine here. The place is buzzing. These DJs know how to mix things up when there is no live music. Order the 4 seasons pizza and a bottle of chianti for an evening al dente.

Hotel Edgar
31, rue Alexandre 75002 Paris
Need a place to crash or just want a night cap? Well look no further than this place. It’s run by Guillaume Rouget and you’ll find many of his artist friends about. Each room is black and sexy. Picture a photographer’s studio. There are 13 rooms. So, its best to book well in advance. Perfect location to take advantage of the neighborhood, pop over to Frenchies, or celebrate happy hour at their cozy bar. They even have a fab restaurant run by Xavier Thierry. Shell fish stars here. Enjoy.

Join The Conversation. Please share your thoughts on French style.

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, and craftsmanship. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at RedHerring, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide.

For further inspiration follow and share our blog with friends