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portraitmj150Knowitall.ch has teamed up with Mary-Jeanne “MJ” Cabanel (MBA, CPCC), to provide you with some useful tips for managing your life. As a personal and executive coach living in Geneva, her passion is helping people unlock their own passions and accompanying them on a personal and professional journey of discovery and self mastery. MJ's clients come from all over the world and range from individuals to board level executives.

MJ trained with the Coaches Training Institute where she is currently a member of the coaching faculty. She holds an MBA from Thunderbird Global School of Management and has been a happy expat in France and Switzerland for 20 years.

The following articles have been taken from her popular blog, which can be found on her professional website at: www.mjcabanel.com.

angerintheworkplace web

By Mary-Jeanne "MJ" Cabanel, www.mjcabanel.com

Part 1 – Yours

I train emotional intelligence and communication skills all over Europe and consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the subject.  Except, that is, when any injustice befalls my children.  Then with amazing speed, I become a ferocious Mama Bear protecting her cubs.  It happened quite recently, actually, and before I knew it, a scathing email had been sent far and wide to all parties involved as well as to a few leaders of the free world just for good measure.

I know better.  Still when the old reptile brain (or amygdala) gets triggered, the rational adult human being heads for the hills and is nowhere to be found.  This physiological response, also known as flight or fight syndrome, is normal and the way we, as human beings governed by the brain are wired.  It is not, however the best way to win friends, influence people, or get that promotion.

So what do you do when emotions kick in and your grown up checks out?


By Mary-Jeanne "MJ" Cabanel, www.mjcabanel.com

I was meeting with the director of a great organization here in Geneva.  She is a woman on a mission and she was sharing her plans for the upcoming year with me.  As the conversation shifted she shared that she had four young children  “I need a coach” she said cheerfully.  “MJ specializes in work life balance” interjected her colleague.  

Thunk! Heart and stomach dropped and saboteur entered stage right.  Work life balance—yes!  Yes!  I remember that! That was before I got busy with my own mission and life and work became one glorious thing—except when it wasn’t.  Like today, a school holiday when I was working and my daughter was at the movies with the babysitter.

Time to take stalk and walk my talk.  Here is what I want to remember about work life balance.  Hope it informs you too!


By Mary-Jeanne "MJ" Cabanel, www.mjcabanel.com

Last week, I nearly made the faux pas of huge consequence.  Whilst in a meeting with a big client and two colleagues, an idea popped in my head and I took off running—at the mouth.  And, I might add, totally in the wrong direction from where the client wanted to go.  Luckily, the client who is also a friend, called to check out what I was thinking and to see if we could turn the conversation back to what she really needed.


I wasn’t listening. I was too busy thinking ahead, planning what to say and getting turned on by my own brilliance.  Indeed, studies show that most people only half listen focusing instead on what they will say next rather than hearing the message the person is trying to get across.  They think that in order to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous they must sing for their supper or at least be the most charming person in the living or boardroom.  For the person trying to communicate, all this talk and no listen can be terribly frustrating.


When I decided to leave my job in Business Development for a Hedge Fund company I got a glimpse of the abyss.  That deep, dark scary place that descends forever into hell and from which there is seemingly no escape. In fact, it called out to me offering such reassuring words as “if you leave now you will be nothing, have nothing, know nothing.  You will fall down here and never get out.” Tempting though it was to go there, with the help of a top tier coach I agilely managed to hurdle the chasm and not look back.

Similarly, one of my clients who left a board level position with a fortune 500 company told me that when he turned in his computer, his Blackberry, and his parking pass he felt “stripped naked and alone.” This feeling stayed with him for nearly a year until he began rebuilding himself from the inside out to find his true identity apart from the job that up until that moment had consumed most of his waking hours.

So how do you preserve your true self or, if it’s past that, separate yourself from your job?

mouse2The other day a mouse got in my house.  This took me completely by surprise. I have a new and (mostly) clean house and of all the things I expected to turn up a mouse was the least of them.  I was horrified and wanted to pretend this just wasn’t happening.  Then I decided to ask for help and did what any modern communicator would do I posted the problem on Facebook.  There I learned two things:

  1. Everybody has mice
  2. The only thing that separates people and their mice is the kind of trap they use to rectify the situation.

The favoured trap was a humane cage, primed with parmesan, that caught the little rodent and allowed us to let it go a good ways down the road (don’t come back now ya hear) with little trauma to all involved.

While the mouse is gone the metaphor remains, what do you do when an unexpected and totally unwelcome problem crops up into your otherwise tidy life?

30minsmjblog“You have put in many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile” —Brian Tracy

We generally accept that it takes 30 days to change a bad habit. Just replace the old habit with a new habit for a month and you’re on your way to a new life.

And it’s commonly accepted that staying fit and healthy requires a minimum of 30-minutes of exercise each day.

During this day and age of hyper multi-tasking and competing priorities, we’re often too busy, overloaded and flat-out exhausted to take on new goals – even if we know they are the deepest desires of our heart. It just seems like too much work.