By: Barbara Agin

I am sure you have all heard of the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

This classic acknowledges the differences between men and women in an effort to help them communicate more effectively.

In the business world, women have unique strengths and barriers to success. When Donnalyn Giegerich, the leader of an empowerment speaking and corporate training company, was highly recommended by a female credit union professional to speak at our Convention, we thought she was a perfect complement to our speaker line-up, especially since adding on the Emerging Leaders track focused on that next generation being groomed to move up the management ladder. 

“What’s Trending with Women and Leadership” is a two-part series dedicated to women; however, each session is effective as a stand-alone…and everyone can learn a thing or two!

I asked Donnalyn about each session, and based on her responses below, this really looks like a fabulous session!

Read the full interview by Barbara Agin NJCUL VP, Member Experience & Education

Why is it important to your professional development and ability to stay valued in the workplace? DonnaLyn Giegerich Wellness and Empowerment Speaking, who was highly recommended to speak at our Convention, will review this and more in the Emerging Leaders track!

Join us at the NJCUL 84th Annual Meeting & Convention

Ever meet that person that always goes the extra mile at work or in the community? Chances are they are motivated to do more, create more and share more because they feel valued. Perhaps the sheer magic of the work itself is inspirational for them, but for many, people put in the extra effort because they feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions. In the world of work and executive coaching, I spend a fair amount of time listening to professionals lament over toxic work environments, unrefined leadership skills and old school management behavior. In order to encourage your teams to put forth that discretionary effort, or extra push to see that prized project to fruition or extra sale closed, consider the following: Listen, learn and look for ways to value your team members in creative and individualistic ways. Research shows that it’s not just about money. Performers go the extra mile when the work culture is progressive, inclusive and fun. Some professionals value career progression, learning opportunities, community visibility and/or work/life integration options over more money.  In the world of organizational development and employee engagement, progressive companies have been using the “stay interview” to discern what really matters to their key employees. To retain top talent, the best managers are asking their direct reports what they love about their jobs. Managers are also asking what they can do to make the work or volunteer experience more rewarding. And then they listen. Know anyone feeling burned out at work, disengaged or unappreciated at a worthy non-profit? If you’d like to dial up your team’s discretionary effort, pick a comfortable place like Starbucks to have a connecting conversation. Listen to their ideas on how you can dial up processes, people skills and projects to keep your high performers engaged and energized. Nobody wants to learn how simple it may have been at the exit interview!


Living Well Lifelong Learning

“Education is a lifelong journey whose destination expands as you travel.”

I had lunch last week with one of my favorite travel pals.  Elaine had just returned from a cross country RV tour and had lots of interesting experiences to share with a fellow travel junkie. I love Elaine for a lot of reasons but I was especially grateful for her enlarging conversation this month at Seed to Sprout because dreary February was starting to sabotage my sunny psyche. Elaine was the perfect elixir on that dim day. Here are three things that brightened my day:

1. Creative minds energize one another. The day may have been dark, but she was bright with  ideas for  2018. Hibernating this winter? Consider connecting with an interesting friend that you haven’t seen in awhile. I guarantee you’ll learn something new as you share your travel adventures.

2. Elaine conquered the Bisbee1000 Stair Climb in Arizona this past October during her cross country RV adventure. This 4.5 mile course includes nine staircases connected by winding roads and an interesting history in Tombstone Canyon, Arizona. Reserve your spot in 2018 on Oct 2 if you dare at

3. To balance our busy work lives, Elaine and I always compare notes on our yoga and wellness modalities. I shared some highlights from my recent yoga teaching assignment in Cabo San Lucas and invited her to my next yoga gig in Dominican Republic in March. She brought me up to speed on her long term success with rolfing which I admitted knowing too little about. Rolfing is a bit like  having someone do yoga for you. In short, rolfing is all about structural alignment. Created by Dr Ida Rolf, an American biochemist, this system seeks to deeply manipulate and reorganize the connective tissue(known as the fascia) that permeates the entire body. Rolfing can be thought of as a cross between physical therapy and massage where the practicioner applies  slow, deep stretching around the joints to lengthen tissue and free up the fascia so your body motors the way it was meant to move. It’s a great compliment to a yoga or pilates practice to support structural integration and a super movement therapy for pain relief. Learn more locally by asking for Rebekah at This husband and wife team have been sharing this healing modality for decades from their locations that include Manhattan, Montclair and now Asbury Park.

Elaine and I agreed to keep moving and grooving this winter and to always support one another’s lifelong learning goals tempered with trending travel tips far and wide. Learn more about Elaine’s adventures at

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is resilient leader who is passionate about helping others improve their lives. Many know of Donnalyn through her summer-long  Yoga on the Lake series, power panels or keynote speaking engagements.

Kneaded Vacation couldn’t be happier to have her bring her healing hands to our home on Broad Street on Fridays and Saturdays.

Donnalyn can be booked for:
* Reflexology
* Reiki Healing
* Private Yoga sessions

Reserve your spot with DonnaLyn today! 


Lifeleaders and entrepreneurs are busy people. We talk fast, move fast, meet many people and usually prioritize helping other people achieve success. Everyone wins when rewarding connections are cultivated. But how do we respond when repeat requesters keep showing up to ask for more help, more hand-ups or more hand-outs? Here are a few tips to keep your connections and conversations constructive, courteous and collaborative:

1. Recognize that everyone’s time is valuable. Before “the ask”, consider querying “Is this a good time to talk?” before lunging into a long winded request that may take your counterpart off guard or interrupt their busy day. Consider framing your request in a way that values their time and gives them a choice to opt out. “I need X by tomorrow” can be more successfully softened by rephrasing the request to “Would you consider helping me with X goal?” or “Might you share your thoughts on how I could advocate for X  goal?”. In this way, the recipient hears less demand and more respect and consideration for his/her time. “I need another favor(freebie)” or “When can we meet?(assuming they are available or interested) do little to cultivate a sense of reciprocal warmth and mutual sharing.

2. Manners still matter. No one generation destroyed refined communication skills. To the contrary, the established and emerging leaders I interact with are largely thoughtful and respectful of time and networking contacts. But, every now and then, an intruder keeps appearing with multiple, demanding requests that are worthy of a blogpost. The tendency to demand responses with an air of entitlement is perplexing and unfortunate. What is more helpful is a revisit in how we show up with our verbal, non verbal and written communication skills. When our dominant messaging skills are on target, our success soars! Please, thank you are still very much in vogue.

3. Standing out as an exceptional leader is easier than you think. A vendor shared two theatre tickets recently as a gift of appreciation for branding work done on her behalf. I agreed to the work and expected nothing additional in return. She, however, wanted to express gratitude in a meaningful way(I’m a theatre enthusiast) and made sure that two tickets found their way into my hands. Nice touch! Another client devoted some extra branded content for my company to show appreciation for an emcee effort that put more people in the seats at their local fundraising event. Win. Win.

4. Before you ask what an influencer can do for you, consider asking them what you can do for them. Sounds like a Kennedy countryman quote, right? Well, I’m happy to share that framing your request in the spirit of “others first” will connect you much more quickly to your goals. Being interested in another’s success before you pitch your own needs will usually land you faster and further along your trajectory of success. Good luck!

Yogi’s call it karma. Creatives remind us that “our vibe attracts our tribe.” Most would agree that everything is connected in business and in life. It’s important, therefore, to keep our energy engaging. Einstein once said, “Nothing happens until something moves!”This was a perfect reminder for a vibrant group of high performing realtors at a recent awards celebration at Baylor’s McLane Stadium. I was invited to speak about what’s trending in leadership resiliency for a room full of entrepreneurs that prioritize moving, momentum and the power of perseverance. A favorite book is The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton which provides the science to support the power of positive thinking. This cerebral read reminded me of the “expectancy effect” that I’ve known about for years as a manager of people and mentor to many. Also known as the “Pygmalion effect” after the mythical sculptor that magically brought creation to life, the theory underscores the importance of setting the bar high for achievement. There was no playing small for Pygmalian. When we let someone know that “we expect the best” from them in an encouraging way, they often rise to the occasion. It’s a subtle and effective way of saying “I know you can do this and I can’t wait to see you make it happen.” That’s a big morale boost for a sales professional trying to hit his/her numbers, a college grad trying to get a job or a seasoned professional making an industry change. It’s a powerful tool to help leaders develop self efficacy and/or career confidence.

 So who are you raising the bar for these days? Or how are you asking for help to sharpen your saw currently? How effective have your efforts been over time? I’d love to hear about your experiences helping others become better versions of themselves. I suspect the reciprocal nature of karma will also be part of your experience…expected or not!

I’m not accustomed to stretch limosines transporting me to and from the airport as a conference keynoter. That said, it was a nice experience and a pleasant surprise upon arrival in Sin City. Vegas is over the top and so should its livery be too, right? Problem is, as a yogi and businessowner, I’m predisposed to practicing “less is more” and “is that overhead cost productive?” Limos are too big, too glammy and too flashy for my practical business bones and purposeful yoga practice. But, I went along for the ride, because traveling BIG for a change might be just the stretch assignment I needed. And, since stretch assignments are meant to be enlarging and often uncomfortable, I was in the perfect seat for some learning. Did I unconsciously manifest this moment? Yes and No.

No, I was not visualizing or vision boarding a stretch limo at this national keynote for insurance premium auditors. A limo was not in my speaking contract or on my business bucket list. When I’m speaker traveling, the usual pick up looks like a croweded shuttle, a taxi or an Uber experience worthy of a blogpost. But, in some ways, yes, I probably did manifest that limo because as a corporate consultant and keynoter, I am:

  1. Flexible
  2. Respectful
  3. Enthusiastic

and genuinely interested in contributing to the success of a conference. I recognize there are a lot of moving parts, things change rapidly and that cultivating lasting relationships with event planners requires that I show up routing for event success as a participating team member. So when I’m coaching with clients that want to get the respect they deserve, the success they’ve earned and the life they want, I suggest they start by hailing a taxi or blogging about tips to travel humbly and helpfully. Their limos will all line up later!



Executive coaching is rewarding and regular when done well. Supporting a client in goal attainment takes time and focused committment from both parties. Mentoring can be just as meaningful without the heavy lifting of a formalized client/coach framework. Here are three ways that mentoring high potential leaders can be a boon for both parties:

  1. Learning is reciprocal. It’s a two way street that ebbs and flows over time. Sessions are recurrent but non-periodic and guided by the mentee. Sometimes I hear from mentees once a year or once a month/quarter. The key is availability and accessibility without the relationship being depleting. Having open, honest conversations about expectations is key to a productive and enjoyable experience. Mentors often report relaxing into a mentor/mentee relationship role that’s less intense than a formalized coach/client arrangement. This informal vibe, however, does not correlate to less productivity. There is magic in witnessing to another’s potential when no one’s really in “work” mode. In this way, both parties win!
  2.  Partners get a ton done. One hour in a safe and supportive session leaves a bunch of room for big gains. Our session can be in person, over skype, facetime or on the phone. We keep our meetings flexible and prioritize “present” energy exchanges that are authentic and thought provoking. We value the added bonus of an in person meeting but never miss a beat if we have to meet on line or via apps. We’re always ready to hit the ground running when we commit to our gathering.
  3.  Surprises and unexpected delights abound in a mentor/mentee relationship. A recent meeting with a mentee not only included great news of his hard earned accomplishment but also revealed additional entrepreneurial opportunities for his further development. Along with the corporate job win, he will continue to explore his creative and collaborative business building potential through interesting intercultural projects.

The need for effective mentor/mentee relationships is growning. Mutual exchange across cultures, between generations and amongst industries will provide us all with opportunities to remain current and valuable contributors across the spectrum. Enjoy the process! Feel free to share your favorite mentor/mentee moments at