Archive for Skills

Meaningful Conversations

By · March 29, 2010 · Comments (0)

Meaningful conversations change lives, and even a single dialogue can sometimes lead to a lifelong quest. So it was for my student, years ago in the African savannah, but also for me, as we shifted back and forth from learner to teacher, and back yet again, as both of us searched to understand what lay at the heart of leadership, if in fact leadership was the key to making a difference in the world.

Leadership, it turns out, can be best defined as influencing change through a vision. It is ensuring the realization of an envisioned future. Much has been written about leadership in the annals of academia, by great historians, politicians, entrepreneurs, and by those whose leadership practices we truly aspire to. I have been working on summarizing the essentials for transformational leadership, a daunting task. It is coming together as a convergence of cognition and competencies, thinking and acting, and is ultimately about doing.

After my personal quest into leadership began so many years ago, it continually begged expression. Time and again in my life, I felt the challenge arise to paint a current picture of effective leadership through the lens of thoughts, why thoughts matter, and how they impact our lives. It has taken me decades of searching to understand leadership with some depth, and find the courage to write it down.

A single, meaningful conversation changed my life because it set me on the path of deciphering leadership, and simultaneously finding my passion.

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Now is you chance to join Maria Berdusco, as she interviews authors, speakers and inspirational thinkers on the Leadership International Talk Show. You can join the conversation live, just listen in, or download previous episodes to your ipod or mp3 player, or another device.

Capturing conversations with remarkable people is what the Leadership International Talk Show is all about. It’s the first and third Wednesday of every month at noon. Mark you calendar for upcoming episodes, subscribe to the rss feed, or download your favorite episodes here. It’s a show, it’s a recording, and a podcast and it’s personal, created just for you.

Best selling authors will inspire you, coaches will lift you and great thinkers and teachers will take you to new levels.

Listen on iTunes: Listen now, or download from

Listen on Talkshoe: Listen now, or download from

Listen on Leadership International: Listen now, or download from

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Wyland has earned distinction as one of America’s most unique creative influences and a leading advocate for marine resource conservation. An accomplished painter, sculptor, photographer, writer, and scuba diver, he has traveled around the world for more than 25 years, capturing the power and the beauty of the undersea universe.

Wylands efforts have been recognized by the United Nations, the Sierra Club, the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences, and private and public institutions worldwide. 

Wyland, hailed a “marine Michelangelo” by USA Today, is listed in the Who’s Who in American Art, Guinness World Records, and many other national and international publications.  Wyland inspires people to live their passion, and create a business from doing so.

Inspirational, a great talent and utilizing his passion to lead change conserving our natural environment.

Categories : Leadership, Optimism, Skills
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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Features Executive Coaching in DemandAn article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday outlined an increased demand for coaches as executives work to stay on track, hone their skills, and explore possibilities during the recession.

We each especially need to demonstrate resilience, optimism, optimal communications and collaborative initiative during today’s specific and unprecedented challenges. We still need to take action on what is most important and not languish in the waiting game. The wait and see approach that so many people have taken support neither global recovery nor expand personal opportunity. This is the time to build relationships, explore creative innovation, solidify strategic planning and move forward.

On a recent trip to Europe there was significant discussion on waiting it out, and watching to see what people in the US were dong, letting Americans take the lead on recovery and using US action as a yardstick to gage timing on activity. An important interpretation of this response is that taking action on initiatives is even more critical for global recovery than has been recognized, and indicates that action can not wait.

But having someone to champion that process for individuals is equally important, having someone to act as a trusted sounding board, and provide objective feedback is critical.  An executive coach supports the prioritization process and provides accountability for the implementation of plans in a systematic and manageable way, within the framework of what is possible.

Finding clarity and taking action is vital when a sense of overwhelm threatens to overshadow initiatives.

The Wall Street Journal article indicates ‘Coaches say many companies still use their services to retain top talent and support senior leaders while coping with smaller staffs and recession-starved budgets. Amber Romine, director in global human capital at consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC’s Washington, D.C., office, said she fields a steady stream of requests from clients looking for referrals to executive coaches.’

Many executives in a coaching partnership talk about how their companies and careers would be different if they had access to coaching decades ago. From personal skills and interpersonal relationship effectiveness, strategic planning and execution, and through to change management, leadership development through coaching is widely recognized as an indispensible tool for today’s time and beyond, as we shift into economic recovery.

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 Attend this years Pittsburgh Human Resources Association (PHRA) Annual Conference at Heinz Field on September 29 and 30th. This event is not to be missed!

Register  for the Conference here! Join me as I speak about the essentials for transformational leadership and my book, ‘How to Think Like a Leader’.


Categories : Leadership, Skills, Thinking
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De-Stress During Difficult Times

By · August 12, 2009 · Comments (0)

When hard times hit, managing your stress level is more important than ever. With issues and difficulties of many types coming at you from a multitude of directions, your overall stress level can increase significantly, and finding ways to counter the stress you feel is an important priority.

The American Psychological Association just released their annual Stress in America Survey, and no one is surprised that stress levels have increased in the last year in the US. People reported more fatigue, anger and irritability and more than fifty per cent of respondents said they lay awake at night, unable to sleep because of stress.

Combined exhaustion, irritability and anger can result in different behaviors by different people and understanding the effects of stress in yourself, your family and your community is critical. People who otherwise manage their feelings and keep their stress in check may find it hard to do so.

Here are five simple ways to prevent and manage stress. Practice these techniques for yourself, but also share them with others, as you support those around you who are also feeling significant stress:

1. When some things are not working, take time to recognize what is working, and going right. Focus on the good things in your life, and what you appreciate.

2. Understand that many difficult situations are temporary and not permanent, to help keep perspective. Choose your response to events to keep things in balance.

3. Keep news and television watching in check, to prevent specific details from taking over your thinking.

4. Engage in calming activities, such as finding pockets of quiet time to read, or talk with someone you respect and who is supportive of you.

5. Become resilient by accepting what is, and cannot be changed. Try to take away a learning and move on.

The best way to manage your personal stress level is to not allow yourself to become overcome by negatives, but take on an approach that is continually hopeful, in spite of difficult times. Be resilient.

Carefully manage the thoughts you have to keep your stress in check.

Maria Berdusco supports others through challenges and can be reached at 412-221-3376. Visit Maria’s website.

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APA Past Presidents

Seligman, Farley & Zimbardo

The club of past presidents in almost any organization, community or country represents not only significant brain power for the individuals who have achieved the role, but also the synergistic strength of their collective knowledge and experience.

Zero in on not just any organization, but the American Psychological Association (APA), founded in 1892, and now with 150,000 members, who gather annually to celebrate new data on the human mind.

When I listened to Marty Seligman, Frank Farley and Philip Zimbardo, all APA past presidents have a conversation this morning about the state of things, it felt as though the collective truths they shared was not their just their own. They represented the progressive and cumulative learning of the previous presidents of the APA.  There was a sense that it was not just three of them on stage, but also William James, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Albert Bandura, and over a hundred contributors who have filled this role to take psychology to where it is today.

The conversation flowed like that of old school chums, or even brothers; comfortable, trusting and willing to dialogue openly, knowing they were on call to teach the past, present and future of psychology, but humbled by the responsibility and determined to represent the best of what psychology has to offer. There is great learning to be gleaned from listening to a clever conversation.

They talked about undoing the constructions of the past, overrating of the past and childhood, and imagining a future different from the past to live optimally. They discussed creating alternate futures, and that much is determined by how one interprets the past, present orientation and future perspective.

Thankfully, psychology is no longer based on the medical model of what is wrong, but instead on what is right and building on it. They talked about strengths, time perspective, Mount Everest, and sex on Sunday, bantering until they summarized with, ‘Start your life today, create your future’. They concluded that the key is to instill hope and dispel fear because future gazing is at the heart of being human. Seek hope and have positive expectancy, they said.

Not bad for a trio of leaders who have authored thousands of peer-reviewed papers.

It was unscripted, reflective, fully supportive and so natural that one could not help but acknowledge the great wisdom of this band of brothers. They  represented learned, highly credentialed researchers who’s common bond is that each have served a lifetime of studying human behavior.

One could not help but think that Seligman, Farley and Zimbardo modeled human behavior optimally. They created amongst each other a perception of the closest achievable bond among us, that of family.

What a pleasure to experience the conversation and somehow with 10,000 APA conference attendees, I felt as though I was attending a family reunion, even in the midst of academia, with the family being one of those who deeply care about humankind.

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stephen-covey-7-habits-pittsburgh-july-29-09The first time I recall having a front row seat at a major event was at a production of le Miserable. The event was especially memorable because I watched in rapture as a feather dislodged from a dancers costume and wafted slowly down from the stage and landed right in my lap.

Ever since, securing a front row at any event has been a delight and an honor, coveted, and hard work, but well worth it, because it puts you right up close with the action.

I have found over the years that obtaining a seat in the front row requires lots of extra effort and even then happens only occasionally. It means arriving very early, reserving far in advance, paying more for the privilege, knowing someone special, or even by helping the planners out. I didn’t expect though, that my profound feather experience would ever be repeated, and yet it happened again just this morning. 

It was uncanny, serendipitous and synchronous, when a feather dropped from Stephen Covey’s ‘Indian Talking Stick’  as he waved it to the audience, emphasizing its strength. I have read Covey’s books many times over the decades and hearing him speak live at 77 years old meant a lot to me.

There I was somehow ready for the unexpected, front and center, and  managed to catch a photo of Stephen Covey and his stick. A shiver went down my spine as I recognized the beauty of the moment, it’s wonderful alignment and congruency and I knew that I was in the right place.

Covey reminded us with the warmth and wisdom of a sage of the timeless ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’:

Dependence to Independence

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice 
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution

Independence to Interdependence

  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Mutual Understanding
  • Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation

Continual Improvement

  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was published 20 years ago and is still a best seller in business and leadership. Five years ago, Covey followed with The 8th Habit, which is finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. When we asked him how he came to develop the extra habit Covey said he sensed a lack of emotional commitment to what people represent, and felt compelled to teach personal significance and passion.  Covey delivers his message with a quiet, knowing conviction, and I felt drawn to his personal passion.

You may be wondering what the ‘Indian Talking Stick’ is all about? Ask someone to hold a talking stick, and then ask them to talk until they feel that you completely understand what they are thinking and feeling. ‘I am serious, try it,’ Covey said. The talking stick is a tool for conflict resolution, empathy and improving relationships.

A marvelous message from a feather.


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nhl-stanley-cup-final-pittsburgh-penguins-vs-detroit-red-wingsEven though I am sitting in a little cabin in the woods, overlooking Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and watching a historic event on a tiny television, this moment is as precious as it could possibly be, whether here, or live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the Igloo Arena in the city of three rivers.

Memories are created by emotions. When a powerful feeling overcomes you; when strong emotion occurs, it creates its own neural circuit in your brain, ripe for retrieval.

A first kiss, a wedding dance, a babies birth, and for Pittsburgh, winning the 2009 Stanley Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize, represents moments of such ecstasy that the brain connection we create is fully etched and imprinted, forever accessible to each of us who participated.

Hockey’s Stanley Cup and football’s Super Bowl, at home in Pittsburgh in the same year. Congratulations Pittsburgh Penguins 2009!

The moment is now. The memory is forever.

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We Love Birthdays…

By · June 8, 2009 · Comments (0)

albert_einsteinAnd we love celebrations! Celebrate successes as you achieve them. Celebrate summer on its way after a long, cold winter. Get outside and breathe deeply into the new day.

Albert Einstein said that there are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, and the other is as though everything is a miracle. This is the ‘half-full or half-empty’ approach to looking at a glass of water, and at the world. This may remind you of the power of your choices, and your imperative to manage your thoughts, not having thoughts manage you. Einstein understood the influence of gratitude. He had a full appreciation of the scholars that had previously laid the groundwork and set the stage for his own discoveries and breakthroughs, when he noted:

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.

Gratitude can help you to have appreciation for all that you are, do, have, and perceive. Like Einstein, it may spur you to a response of action, but it can also make obstacles in your path much less difficult. By having a sense of appreciating what is working, you are less likely to be pulled down by that which isn’t. By focusing on gratefulness for how far you have come, and what you have accomplished, it becomes easier to take steps and embark on the remaining portions of your journey and tasks. This allows you to take necessary initiatives for achieving your goals. Being grateful also serves to immediately make you feel a charge of goodwill and confidence.

Another birthday, another year, and another reason celebrate life.

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Brain Sardine

Conversations about brain and behavior in a leadership context are often about great thinking, and focusing on what you can control, not what you can’t. This is also known as self determination, which strengthens your thinking because it puts you in control of your destiny, as opposed to just responding to what is going on around you.

Another great way to strengthen your thinking is with sardines.I have been following the study of inflammation since my laboratory days in the early eighties and a great deal has been learned since then. Inflammation is often not only localized but can also be systemic, when it has effects in many organs and body systems. Inflammation can lead to arthritis when it is in a joint, heart disease when it is cardiac, and memory loss when it is inflammation of the brain.

Inflammation is your body’s way of saying something is not optimal. There can be a physical injury, a bacterial invasion, a chemical intrusion or a simple foreign lesion. This was the case with a sliver in the sole of my foot a few days ago. I had an instant limp and within hours a puffy protective mechanism appeared.

Inflammation: perilous or protector? Both it seems, supportive when moderate, but dangerous when extreme. We now know a simple low dose aspirin every day for inflammation prevents joint pain, heart disease and even breast cancer.

What do aspirin and sardines have in common? Both reduce inflammation. Omega 3’s, extracted from sardines, salmon and mackerel deliver anti-inflammatory effects for joint mobility, cardiac health, cancer prevention, and even positive mood, according to clinical studies. We can now add cognitive function and improved memory to this list.

The brain benefits of omega 3’s include emotional well being, cognitive clarity and a reversal of some of the effects of neurodevelopment disorders such as dyslexia, cognitive deficiency and anxiety. This is good news!

An daily omega 3 capsule will help you think better. We know conscious thinking has powerful outcomes for self determination, and smart approaches, and now we can support the strategy with sardines.

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beaA fascinating discussion on the future of books and reading took place today at Book Expo America in New York City, the world’s largest book conference. The conversation, called ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ featured authors Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired, Lev Grossman, Time Magazine Book Critic, Steve Johnson, of ‘Invention of Air’ fame, and Tom Standage, Editor of the Guardian.

While discussing the future of books, Johnson noted he now has over 600,000 Twitter followers and the new paradigm for books is ‘twitter to blog to Amazon’ and one click opportunities which now account for 20% of the book industry. This was a glimpse into how people now choose to read.

There are now low barriers to entry for authors, publishers and readers alike, and all are true winners in this shift, with content as king, and accessiblilty for writing, publishing, perusal, purchase and reading, all potentially online. This means that your creativity, courage, collaboration and communication skills as a thinker and, yes, as a leader can be rewarded by the simpicity with which your message can be conveyed, and the ease with which you can stay current with the latest releases.

One author at the Book Expo America announced his book idea to a friend and a mere 62 days later it had been completed and had the attention of the New York Times. It is  a wonderful time to be writing books, expressing ideas and experiencing collective output as a reader. Now is your time to write, read, write, read and write.

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leadership-from-the-edgeCalling all leaders: You have the opportunity to attend a one-of-a-kind LEADERSHIP workshop on Friday, July 10 from 1-4 pm  at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh PA! Don’t miss out!

Registration is now open for a full afternoon program where you will explore your leadership capability and grow your leadership potential. Leadership belongs to everyone, leadership belongs to you.

Register now for the ‘How to Think Like a Leader Workshop’. Executive coach and licensed psychologist Rosemarie Perla and I will be leading a workshop which is designed to transform you and the power of your influence, through personal, leadership and business development opportunities. You will:

  1. Explore personal approaches that form a leadership foundation
  2. Examine the planning process from a strategic vantage point
  3. Experience the underlying elements of interaction and impact
  4. Extend your leadership capacity through influencing change

Practice this sequential progression, and learn how, as a leader, you can clarify your focus to optimize potential and the leadership spectrum for yourself and others. This provocative presentation will explore the realm of cognition, spirals of thinking and experience as a series of thoughts, and how they impact you as a leader.

Delve into the concepts of change and discovery from within a leadership context and framework, where individual and group leadership synergistically accelerates. Clarity and clear new processes will emerge for you, and those you impact. Join us!

Register here, or more information call 412-221-3376

This workshop will be presented by:

Maria Berdusco, author, leadership strategist, facilitator,professional coach and founder of Leadership International.


Rosemarie Perla, psychologist, executive coach, strategic leader and founder of Perla Group.

The workshop will be hosted by Beth Caldwell, community leader, author, mentor, and Executive Director of Pittsburgh Professional Women.

WORKSHOP FEE: $49 includes Lunch, Presentation and Complimentary Copy of ‘How to Think Like a Leader’ by Maria Berdusco. Register online now at This workshop is open to all, everyone is welcome, and bring your entire team. For more information call Leadership International at 412-221-3376


How to Think Like a LeaderEach attendee will receive a complimentary copy of the book, ‘How to Think Like a Leader: A Personal Guide to Change and Discovery and Why Your Thoughts Matter’ by Maria Berdusco, or the companion workbook. This book, its practical applications, and accompanying exercises  will change the way you think. You will clarify your thinking to focus on essential skills and thought patterns to capture true optimal living and leading. A must read for all leaders.

The key to essential leadership today is influence, not authority. – Ken Blanchard

Categories : Leadership, Optimism, Skills
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Have you discovered TED yet?

By · May 25, 2009 · Comments (0)

Here is a piece of brilliance.


When you discover something profound, the overwhelming reaction is to want to share, not to hoard, in the spirit of collaboration, and not competition, and TED does exactly that. It is a non-profit organization that stands for technology, education and design and is all about ‘Ideas worth spreading’.

TED is devoted to giving millions of knowledge-seekers around the globe direct access to the world’s greatest thinkers and teachers through a forum, and for creative thinkers it can be described as a burst of ideas. Today’s opportunities for utilizing technology are mind boggling and having TED sift through the most brilliant for us is a great gift to the world from Chris Anderson.

This video is about the sixth sense, an MIT student’s mind boggling device for information access everywhere, every way, every how. Take a look at the video above or

This is leadership at its most brilliant. The minds on the globe are remarkable, and viewing brilliance is call to action.

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Optimism on the First of May

By · May 1, 2009 · Comments (0)

May 1, 2009 feels like a perfect day for leadership.

Practicing leadership goes beyond onetime successful initiatives to a level of practice, where through awareness and repetition of essential skills, great leadership becomes a habit, and successful outcomes become everyday occurrences.

Spring’s newness, a vibrant potency in the air, and apple blossoms just outside my window framing this morning’s sunrise convey hope and optimism of the future. This is exactly the setting that drives us forward with a sense of positive expectancy of the future, through appreciation of the abundance of the present.

You have many opportunities to lead, at your workplace with teams and colleagues, in your organization and various communities, in your home life and with your family. Leadership is influencing change, and what better time is there to contemplate positive change and how to influence it then when nature, in its continual regenerative cycle leads you through the process of renewal, growth and strengthening.

Nature’s patterns also can serve to remind you that waves of action and enthusiasm naturally flow in a rhythm, where you give pause and recharge, taking time to balance energy before a creative burst of innovation and activity.A sense of optimism not only lures and challenges you into the action mode, but it is also the foundation for resiliency and persistence, and carries you forward when a sudden obstacle threatens to obstruct your path.

Optimism is a positive outlook for the future that assures well being and a glimpse into the fullness of promise. Sunrise and blossoms are perfect metaphors for life’s possibilities on the first day of May. Carpe Diem!

Categories : Leadership, Optimism, Skills
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