How did I become a coach?
Where did I learn?
In 2005, I took a sudden career about-face.
I had been a software engineer for 28 years, and I had risen pretty far up the technical career ladder. I led software development teams, was a usability champion, served on standards bodies and architecture boards, and filed 25+ patent applications. I learned many lessons about being part of huge organizations coordinating many talents to get the job done.
In September 2005, I took a big step out of my comfort zone to study positive psychology as a member of the first class of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, the first applied positive psychology masters program in the world.
Applied positive psychology is all about putting research findings to work to make people's lives happier, more productive, more fulfilling, more engaging, and more meaningful. After I finished the degree, I had to figure out, "What next? How do I use what I learned to make a difference?"
For the next 9 months, I focused on helping groups of people inside my company become more engaged and satisfied at work. Certain aspects of positive psychology make perfect sense in business settings and are not hard for people to learn and apply. I published a paper about my experiences in 2008.
Then I set out on my own. I have at least 30 years experience mentoring individuals and groups of individuals. I've heard a lot of stories. I've also experienced the magic of helping people bring their own new ideas into existence. That's the core of coaching.
From 2008 through spring semester 2016, I co-taught Managing Project Teams in the Project Management Department of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. We explored many of the ideas described by Kim Cameron and David Whetten in their book, Developing Management Skills. A significant core of the course involved helping students see themselves more clearly and understand how they are both the same and different from other people. The course built on many of the ideas of positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship.
Since 2014, I have been an executive coach in the coaching network of Silicon Valley Change. We specialize in short-term high-impact coaching to help middle managers and executives gain significant positive momentum.
I learned writing and storytelling with a Bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University.
I learned software engineering and information processing with Masters degrees in Library Science and Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hence my first career in technology, where I learned to solve problems and lead teams.
I learned about the science and application of positive psychology earning a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania. That gave me tools to contribute to greater well-being in the world.
I first learned the principles, ethics, and practices of coaching by completing training at
I gained additional experience and training at the Falling Awake coach training program. See Dave Ellis's book, Falling Awake.
I have been an editor for Positive Psychology News Daily (PPND) since the site opened in January 2007. In that capacity, I've edited more than 1300 articles about various aspects of positive psychology in practice.
I have written more than 80 articles for PPND myself about topics such as motivation, building management skills, making changes by experimenting, long-term love relationships, handling grief, and the well-being of the oldest old. I have also written articles for Forbes online and the Anita Borg Foundation.
I have also edited 3 books and co-authored another:
Since 2014, I have run more than 200 writers' workshop sessions with about 30 authors reviewing more than 500 pieces of writing. We use a process largely based the approach described by Richard Gabriel in Writers' Workshops & the Work of Making Things, though we keep experimenting with ways to make it work even better.