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Laura J. Lieff

Specializing in Expert Service

My Blog



Posted on April 1, 2016 at 3:14 PM Comments comments (1724)
Have you ever encountered someone who spoke with you for only a short time, but who made you feel very special? Have you ever wished that you could charm people in the same way that you were charmed?

You can. Although some people are naturally charming, I think that it's possible to learn how to be charming.

People are easily charmed by someone who is genuinely interested in them. How do you show your interest in someone? Ask the person questions about himself, his work, his life, his family, his interests, and so on, and pay attention to his answers. Speaking of paying attention, when you're talking with someone, in person, don't let your eyes wander around the room. Focus on the person with whom you're speaking. Smile or, at least, have a pleasant expression on your face. Laugh at the person's jokes.

Friendliness and humor are charming. The other day, while on the train, I asked a young woman how many more stops there would be before my destination. She answered me, as did the young man who was sitting beside her. I told them both that I had grown up in a different part of Brooklyn a looooong time ago. I emphasized the word, long, to be humorous. Then, I said to the young woman that that was her cue to say that I didn't look as if it was such a long time ago. Both the young woman and the young man could tell that I was joking by the big smile on my face. A couple of minutes later, the young man said, "Ma'am. I like you. I'd like to be your friend." I thanked him and told him that that was sweet, but I'm having trouble keeping up with the friends I already have.

The point of this story is that without going out of my way or even meaning to, I had charmed this young man by being friendly and exhibiting some playfulness.

Playfulness and lightheartedness are also frequently employed by charming people. Charming people are entertaining. They want people to enjoy their company and they find a way to entertain those who are fortunate enough to be in their company.

Finally, some people receive fewer compliments than you might think. If you can find something that you can sincerely compliment the person with whom you're speaking about, go ahead and compliment him. A sincere compliment is always welcome.

You don't have to be phony to be charming. You just have to be interested in the world and the people who inhabit it.

How to Be a Good Friend

Posted on March 1, 2016 at 2:46 PM Comments comments (587)
If you live and work in the New York metro area, there's a strong possibility that you live your life on steroids, figuratively-speaking. You move around at the speed of light, you multitask, you have to-do lists in a few places, you go from one barely-finished task to the next, and you feel stressed out a lot of the time. Is this a good way to live? Not really. Is there anything that you can do about it? Probably not, unless you're wealthy enough to hire people to assist you and most people aren't. There are ways to reduce your stress, many of which you already know. Of course, it stresses you out even more that you don't have time to employ the various ways of reducing your stress, i.e., exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, etc., however, I am going to try to keep this post positive. 

I find that one of the best ways of reducing stress is to have good friends with whom to communicate. What if you're new to New York? How do you make friends? One of the best ways to make friends is to join groups or to participate in activities that interest you. Good friends, usually, have at least one common interest, if not more. That's how they became friendly in the first place and, sometimes, it happens serendipitously. I met one of my very good friends in the street, in front of Bergdorf Goodman's a little over a year ago. It was the holiday season and we both stopped to take pictures of Bergdorf's beautifully decorated windows. We engaged in conversation and wound up spending a couple of hours looking at the decorated buildings on Fifth Avenue, especially Saks Fifth Avenue's fabulous display and, then, having coffee. It goes without saying that you have to be able to go with the flow to meet a friend this way, however, this woman has become one of my best friends within a fairly short timeframe.

Now that I gave you a few ideas about how to meet potential friends, I should tell you how to keep them. The best way to keep friends is to be a good friend. Being a good friend includes being kind, being supportive, being there when your friend needs you, being empathic, being helpful, wishing your friend well and enjoying his or her good fortune and, most importantly, making time for your friend. Most of us have friends who are great to be around when we're feeling either up or down, but some friends can't handle both moods. The people who make the best friends are those who are great to be around no matter how we're feeling. There are times when a friend of yours might need you, but you aren't available for reasons that are out of your control. That's okay, but you should try to get back to that friend at your earliest possible opportunity. I don't know about you, but I rarely, if ever, forget a kindness that I've received from a friend and I always try to return the favor in some way or other.

Friendship takes time and effort. If you take the time and make the effort, your life will be enriched for it and that joke that your friend just told you will make you laugh. How important is laughing? It is VERY important as it reduces our stress.

When to Become Intimate

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 10:22 AM Comments comments (445)

Dating is tricky. It's a bit like a chess match. If you're an honest, straightforward person, dating is bound to be more difficult for you.

People, frequently, say that they don't play games or that they don't like game-playing when it comes to dating. If they're being truthful, these people need to learn how to play the dating game. For example, a woman who is assertive and who goes after what she wants needs to take more of a back seat in dating. Men like to be "the hunters" in a relationship and are more interested in women who allow them to pursue them. If you're a woman and you are the hunter, you're more likely to be devalued by the men you "catch". Even a shy man prefers to be the hunter, although he might need more encouragement from the woman.

One of the big issues women who date grapple with is when to become intimate with a man. This isn't as difficult to determine as women think. The answer is that it depends upon what the woman wants from the relationship. If all she wants is sex, she can become intimate during the second date. If she's looking for a long-term relationship, she'd be well-advised to wait until she's been out with the man several times (i.e., at least 4 - 6 times). There are many reasons for waiting to become intimate. One of the most important reasons is that, no matter what they say, most men don't respect women who sleep with them too soon. They think that if a woman is intimate with them before knowing them, they're one of many with whom she's been intimate. This might not be the case, but that's what men think. 

If you're a man who is interested in having a long-term relationship with a woman you've met, you'd be smart to take things slowly with her and to not pressure her into intimacy. Assuming that the woman is interested in sex, she'll let you know when she's ready.

There are, occasionally, exceptions to what I've written here, as there are always exceptions, however, it's always wise to play the percentages.

As I am in unfamiliar territory when it comes to the dating habits of homosexuals, I would venture a guess that, especially regarding lesbian relationships, the above applies. I honestly don't know whether the above advice is as good when it comes to dating between two men.

How to Enjoy Dating

Posted on December 2, 2015 at 4:34 PM Comments comments (436)
People who aren't in relationships during the holiday season might feel a bit self-conscious or lonely during this time of year as it appears that everyone else is half of a couple. Although this isn't, necessarily, factually true, it can feel that way, especially around the holidays and Valentine's Day.

Many people choose to be single as their independence is vital to their well-being, however, that is not true of everyone who is unattached.

Most people who are single date. Although some people enjoy dating, there are plenty of people who don't and who view dating as a necessary evil. 

Dating doesn't have to be boring or a waste of time. If people would spend a little time thinking of creative ways to date, they might find dating more enjoyable. Instead of going for just a drink or a meal, a date can be arranged around an activity that interests both parties. For example, a date can be a visit to a museum or art galleries, a tennis game or a trip to a driving range, a lecture, a photography class, a trip to the zoo, etc. After the activity is over, if both people want to continue the date over drinks or a meal, they have that option. Otherwise, they can go their separate ways without feeling as if they've wasted a few hours as they will have been engaged in doing something enjoyable.

Dating is a numbers game: the more people with whom one goes out, the better the chance of meeting Mr. or Ms. "Right". Dating doesn't have to be work. With the proper mindset, it can be fun. The goal of dating should be to find someone whose company you enjoy and with whom you want to spend a lot of time. People like to be around upbeat, fun people so, the immediate goal of dating is to enjoy yourself and to be entertaining and/or charming for your date. There will be plenty of time to discuss more serious matters, later on, if you concentrate on having fun in the early phase of a relationship.

To My Father, In Honor of Father's Day

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 10:23 AM Comments comments (279)
There are many poems about the relationship between a father and his daughter.  Some of them were written by famous poets and others were written by aspiring ones. The poem, here, was written by Thomas S. Carver, a man whose profile you can find in Facebook.  This poem could have been written for my father and me, even though we had never met the poet.

Be sure to have some tissues handy.


He was so proud of his little girl
It was her very first day of school
He walked with her to school that day
And she held his hand all the way
They walked together quiet and sad
A little girl and her loving dad
Into the school her father led
But he almost cried when she said
Daddy, Daddy please don't go
Don't leave me here all alone
I'll miss you if you go away
And I might need you, can't you stay
Little Daughter please don't cry
You'll be okay so dry your eyes
You have our memories in your heart
We're together though we're apart

He sat up front on her wedding day
And cried as his daughter walked away
Later that night he watched her dance
He sat there waiting for his chance
The band started to play their song
Father and daughter danced along
She looked at him and saw a tear
Then leaned and whispered in his ear
Daddy, Daddy I have to go
I hate to leave you all alone
I'll miss you when I go away
But if you need me then I'll stay
Little Daughter I'll be just fine
I'll love you always you are mine
I have our memories in my heart
We're together though we're apart

She came in his room and kissed his head
Then sat next to his hospital bed
He took her hand and held it tight
And wished he had the strength to fight
They sat together quiet and sad
A daughter and her dying dad
He saw the tears she tried to hide
She looked at him and then she cried
Daddy, Daddy please don't go
Don't leave me here all alone
I'll miss you when you go away
I still need you, you have to stay
Little Daughter I love you so
I want to stay but have to go
I'll always be here in your heart
We're together though we're apart"

To my dear, sweet Dad -- You're never far from my thoughts.  You taught me that strength often masquerades as gentleness and you gave me the very special gifts of confidence and optimism.

Happy Father's Day to all!

On Mothers and Motherhood

Posted on May 9, 2015 at 5:16 PM Comments comments (59)
As I like last year's Mother's Day post, I am posting it, again, this year.

There are many good quotes about mothers and motherhood.  Some are profound, some are personal, and some are humorous.  In this post, I am including the quotes, from notable women, that resonated with me.  Enjoy!

"So when the great word 'Mother!' rang once more, I saw at last its meaning and its place; 
Not the blind passion of the brooding past, 
But Mother -- the World's Mother -- come at last, 
To love as she had never loved before --
To feed and guard and teach the human race." -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman

"To nourish children and raise them against odds is any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons." -- Marilyn French

"My mother could make anybody feel guilty -- she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know."  -- Joan Rivers

"I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it." -- Rose Kennedy

"The best way to keep children home is to make the atmosphere pleasant -- and to let the air out of the tires." -- Dorothy Parker

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." -- Tenneva Jordan

"A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother." -- Unknown

For many of us, Mother's Day is a sad day:  our mother is no longer with us, we have lost a child, or our mother was only our mother by virtue of the fact that she gave birth to us.

The last quote is for my very dear mother, with whom I haven't been able to celebrate Mother's Day since she passed away 32 years ago.

"Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds.  Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world." --
Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Importance of Being Helpful

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM Comments comments (421)
There are two kinds of people in the world:  the givers and the takers.  Of the two, who do you think is the most content?  

If your response is "the takers", you're either naive or very selfish. The takers might have more material things and an easier time of it but, in many cases, they don't feel good about themselves as they know that they haven't done anything to deserve the things that people give them and/or the assistance that they get from others.  

I met someone, recently, who, when I told her that I like to give the names of my health care providers, for example, to others was certain that the reason that I liked to do that was the hope that these others would respond in kind by doing me a favor.  When I told her that that wasn't the reason, she didn't believe me.  The truth of the matter is that if I can encourage someone to go to a good, caring, well-educated health care provider as opposed to going to a second-rate doctor, it makes me feel good.  It, also, makes me feel good to refer people who have taken good care of me to others as I'm helping them grow their practice.  Is there anything other than feeling good in it for me?  Not really although, since I believe in karma, maybe there is.  

Whether I'm rewarded for my good deeds or my helpfulness isn't the point. Admittedly, as I'm not Mother Teresa, I want and expect to be thanked, verbally, but I don't expect more than that.  If I get anything more, I am both surprised and grateful.

Many years ago, in winter, I was walking in midtown Manhattan and noticed a blind man across the street, down the block, who was trying to negotiate a mound of snow.  I was disheartened to see that nobody stopped to help him. I might add that I was, also, appalled by the callousness with which people were scurrying by this disabled man.  I crossed the street as quickly as I could and got to the man before he slid and hurt himself and helped him cross the street safely.  I felt that it was the least that I could do and, as always, when I see a blind person, I realized my good fortune in being able to see.  

Don't get me wrong:  I'm no saint.  Anyone who has been on the receiving end of one of my tirades will tell you that I have a hot temper and that I'm not the most patient person on the face of the earth, except, of course, when I've been hired to be patient.  I am, however, an empathetic person and am, easily, able to put myself in the next person's shoes.  Maybe that's why I feel that it is so important for us to help each other.  I am not suggesting that we help one another to our own detriment, i.e., that we spend all day helping other people and don't get our work done (unless, of course, our job entails helping other people).  I am suggesting that, whenever possible, we try to help one another as we all gain something in that interaction:  the person who needs help, if he's normal, is grateful and feels more in control of his situation and we feel good for being able to make someone's burden a little lighter.  It's a win-win situation.

If you're ever feeling down and/or feeling envious of the man or woman you know who you think gets everything handed to him or her on a silver platter, remember the point of this piece:  it's easy to feel good about yourself when you help others as it gives you purpose and reinforces the idea that you're a nice person.  We all slip up, on occasion, as it's pretty hard to be nice 24/7, however, generosity of spirit rarely gets you into trouble unless, of course, you're dealing with a narcissist whom you encourage to rewrite his marketing letter because it's filled with typos and he gets angry that you had the temerity to try to correct him.  "It takes all kinds" as they say and, once in a rare while, you'll regret that you tried to help someone.  Most of the time, however, you'll be very glad that you did.

Everyone is in Sales

Posted on October 1, 2014 at 6:46 PM Comments comments (91)
If you were to enter a movie theater in any major city and had an opportunity to ask every audience member what he or she does for a living, you'd, no doubt, hear a wide range of professions or occupations.  What you might not realize, at first blush, is that everyone is, in reality, in sales.  I can hear the push back from the professionals who are reading these words. "What do you mean?  I went to law school for 3 years and passed the bar exam  I'm an attorney!"  "Are you crazy?  I gave up my youth to go to medical school and do an internship and a residency.  I'm a doctor!" "How dare you?  I'm an investment adviser!"

I am not trying to insult anyone, however, if you don't believe me, think of how many clients you'd have, as an attorney, if you didn't put your best foot forward when you meet with potential clients and interact with current clients; consider how many patients you'd have if you were arrogant, dismissive, and rude as a doctor; contemplate how many clients you'd have, as an investment adviser, if you didn't return your clients' phone calls reasonably promptly, if you didn't have their financial goals and tolerance for risk in mind when you bought or sold financial products for them and if your primary concern was to sell products that brought you the biggest commissions or fees.  

We are all being judged by our clients, patients, employees, employers, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, friends, etc., and, if you think that selling is beneath you, then you might not be living up to your full potential as a professional, employee, employer, husband, wife, and on through the list.

I think that the bad connotation of the word "sales" must have arisen from the unfavorable depiction of used car salespeople on television.  These salespeople were portrayed as fast-talking, disingenuous, slick people who were only interested in moving old cars off the lot.  They were not depicted as people who had any interest in the welfare of their customers.

These days, since there is a wealth of information on the Internet about all kinds of professionals and since there is a lot of competition for every client and patient, it behooves EVERY professional to be aware of, and to employ, the practices of good salespeople, such as the following:  exhibiting good manners; finding out what the clients' needs are and filling those needs instead of telling clients what they need without knowing much about them; behaving like a knowledgeable adviser instead of taking an it's my way or the highway approach; persuading the client or patient to do something that you KNOW will be good for him or her, even though the individual might, initially, balk at the suggestion; behaving with integrity and only promoting those goods or services that would truly benefit the client or patient.

Regarding your relationships with your loved ones, there are numerous examples of the need to employ sales talents.  For example, instead of nagging your husband to make an appointment for a physical, don't you think you'd be more effective if you were to describe how having a physical would benefit him?  If you believe that a friend is behaving in a self-destructive manner, isn't it better to use examples of others who have gone down the same path, recognized their mistakes, sought professional help, and turned their lives around in a positive way?

Sales is not just about convincing someone to purchase your goods or services: it is also about persuading someone to do something that you think or know will benefit him or her.

Finally, first impressions are important.  When you meet a new person, he or she will form an impression of you from the way you dress, your manners and mannerisms, whether you make eye contact, your handshake, whether you're engaged in the conversation and a good listener, whether you're friendly, what you say and the manner in which you say it, etc. Whether you are interested in getting new clients or patients, at that particular moment, is inconsequential.  The fact of the matter is that if you try to make a good impression on everyone you meet, you will always come out ahead.  I am aware that it is impossible to be charming and affable 24/7. That's where sales ability comes into play.  

I am not suggesting, here, that you be phony.  I AM suggesting that, as much as is humanly possible, you present the best version of yourself that you are capable of presenting to everyone you meet.  Doing this will help you, immensely, in the pursuit of your professional and personal goals.  

Do you see what I mean by the statement that everyone is in sales?


Posted on June 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (85)
On Father's Day, I had an opportunity to observe different kinds of fathers as I, unfortunately, couldn't spend time with my own father.  My father had passed away in 2008.  I was at the driving range as, other than being on a golf course, it is the best way that I can think of to honor my father's memory.  

My father was 40 years old when he took up golf and I took it up at the same time, at age 10.  He taught me how to play golf and my father and I spent many wonderful hours playing different courses, hitting balls at the driving range, buying new clubs, and talking about golf together.  Although I'm a much better tennis-player than I am golfer, golf has always had a very special sentimental hold on me.  From ages 10 - 13, I was my father's golfing buddy.  Then, as is normal, I became more interested in spending time with my friends and developing crushes on boys.  My father and I resumed only occasional golf outings when I came back to golf, after several years of pursuing other interests.  It was always a special experience for me to play golf with my father, even when one or both of us weren't playing well as spending time with him doing something that we both enjoyed was one of my favorite ways of spending time.  I'll never forget the time that my father and I were matched with two much younger men and my father chipped into the hole and I followed him, immediately after, with a chip into the hole!  The young men couldn't believe their eyes and I couldn't believe mine!  My father used to chip into the hole once in a while, but, until that day, I had never done so, at least, I don't recall having done so. What were the odds of our making two great shots, like that, back to back?

This blog isn't really about golf:  it's about different kinds of fathers and their relationships with their children.  When I eulogized my father at his funeral, one of the things that I said was that my father was the perfect father for a woman like me.  It was true.  I was, indeed, very fortunate to have been born to a man who was light years ahead of his time and who genuinely admired and loved women, thinking that we were every bit as intelligent and talented as men and, admitting, without any prompting from my mother, sister, or me, that we were, probably, even more intelligent. What also made my father such an outstanding father, for me, was his optimistic nature, his belief that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to, and his gentle and loving nature.  

While at the driving range, last Sunday, I observed two very different kinds of fathers:  one of them was with three of his children.  He was attempting to teach them all how to hit golf balls.  They ranged in age from, approximately, 10 years old to 14 years old.  I could see that the kids got along very well with each other and that none of them would ever become a professional golfer.  They swatted the air a lot, instead of hitting the ball and the only one who had a little promise as an amateur golfer was the youngest boy. (There were two boys and the oldest child was a girl.) Despite their obvious lack of talent, the kids were enjoying themselves.  They were enjoying themselves because their father made a point of interacting with and trying to help them.  I could tell that he was a gentle man, like my father.  Before this family came along, I had been observing another father with his young son.  This boy was, approximately, 10 - 12 years old.  His father had him hitting golf balls, non-stop, and the boy only got off a couple of decent shots.  I could tell that he was getting tired and frustrated, but his father was more interested in, and busy with, his cell phone. Once in a rare while, this father would look up to see how his son was doing, but he missed his son's good shots.  Despite the fact that I was busy hitting my own golf balls, I saw the boy's good shots.  For all the attention that this father was paying his son, they might as well have been sitting in a movie theater with each other.  The last father whom I observed, that day, was with his wife, kids, dogs, and teenage daughter's boyfriend and the boyfriend's parents.  This father's kids were older than the other kids I had observed and this father was, clearly, the head of the family.  His wife, kids and dogs were nice.  However, I couldn't tell what this father was really like as I didn't have much time to observe him.  However, I had had a long conversation with his son as his son was resting with the dogs when I came over to sit near him in the shade.  He was a personable, sociable and very intelligent, 21-year-old man.  I assumed that this father was a good father as his son seemed to be so nice and so well-adjusted.  That usually comes from good parenting.  The young man's sister seemed to be a nice girl and his mother was very nice. (She and I got into a conversation.)  I didn't notice any deadbeat fathers, that day, as all of the men at the driving range who were fathers, to the best of my knowledge, were with their kids, however, we all read about deadbeat and criminal fathers in the news, almost on a daily basis.

We don't get to choose our parents:  it's the luck of the draw.  As I said to some people, this week, and as I posted in my business Facebook page, it's very important to have had good parenting.  It is, however, out of our control.  

I hope that there are a number of fathers and future fathers reading this blog.  I congratulate the good fathers for being good fathers and I sincerely hope that the others mend their ways.  I'm not Shirley Maclaine, so I'm not convinced that you'll have another opportunity to show the stuff of which you are made.  There's today and there are your children who so very much deserve and need your love and attention.  Your children didn't ask to be born.  It's your responsibility, as fathers, to do the best job that you can by and for your children.  You're one of their most important role models and your wives are the other.  Don't let them or yourselves down.  Take your best shot. 

Taking Risks in Love

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (106)
As love and romance are on my mind, this weekend, and as I put myself out there as a career, life, and dating coach, this blog is about taking risks in love.

A short while ago, I saw a humorous response to a question posed on Facebook.  The answer to the question, "When is the best time to tell someone you love them?" was "Before someone else does."

I had one of many conversations, this weekend, with a bright young man whom I know in a casual way regarding risk-taking and never looking back with regret for not taking the risk of telling someone that you love him or her or, at least, letting the person know that you have romantic feelings for him or her.

It takes courage to expose your feelings but, to quote Amelia Earhart, "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace."  You will never be at peace with yourself if you don't reveal your feelings to a person for whom you have deep romantic feelings.  What is the worst thing that can happen? Very few people die of a broken heart. You might feel foolish or embarrassed, temporarily, if your love is unrequited, but you'll survive.  I've been there, so I know.  Frankly, I didn't feel all that foolish as, knowing myself as well as I do, I would have felt more foolish for not taking the risk. At best, the other person feels the same way that you do.  As things don't always work out the way we would like them to, at least, if you're dealing with unrequited love, you have options.  You can either hang in, for a while, to see whether you can change the person's mind and heart or you can move on.  In my experience, love is complex and (1) not everyone is capable of it, (2) not everyone is looking for it at the same time that you are, (3) not everyone is as aware of his or her feelings as you might be, (4) some people are afraid of their loving feelings as they've been hurt in the past and don't want to be hurt again, (5) people, sometimes, fall in love with each other at different times in a relationship.  

The basic point, here, is that the worst thing that I can imagine is looking back at one's life and thinking, "If only I had had the guts to tell him or her how I felt, I might have had a wonderful life with him or her".  As I said to my young friend, "The expressions, 'could have', 'would have', and 'should have' should not be in your vocabulary."

Don't let a great opportunity slip through your fingers because of fear of rejection.  These opportunities don't come around that often and you should grab them when they do.

I have never regretted revealing my romantic feelings and, if they weren't reciprocated, I've come to the conclusion that it was his loss, even though it might have felt like mine, at the time.