What Kind of Bird Are You?

Originally published on Thrive Global 

Whenever the topic of middle school comes up, just about every adult I know swears they’d never go back to that time in their life. It’s kind of a dizzying moment in everyone’s life where navigated puberty at different speeds, transitioned to become more independent and having to change classrooms and teachers several times a day — each one accompanied by the teacher’s individual teaching styles and rules to abide by.

And now we have a pandemic thrown on top of it, forcing teachers, students and parents to get through this already challenging time with an extra layer of anxiety thrown into the mix.

As an adult, I took a handful of Human Resource Organizational Psychology courses to help in subjects like “time management,” “working relationships” and even once took a class called “dealing with difficult people.” I can’t tell you how many times I had thought about how much these programs and the self awareness that I experienced it would have saved me when I was in middle school. 

One of the assessments still used today is called DISC. The letters represent four different styles of working, reacting to stress and communication. The letters stand for Dominant, Interactive, Supportive, Conscientious and each sits in its own box that forms a quadrant. Above the line are fast-paced, verbal individuals while below the line are more reserved and even-paced people. If you fall to the right of center, you are more people oriented. To the left of center, you are more task oriented. Many times, we are a combo of 2 or more.

WHAT KIND OF BIRD ARE YOU?

A quicker way to understand these is through a website called TakeFlightLearning.org which presents the DISC styles as birds (eagles, parrots, doves and owls) to further demonstrate the four styles and characteristics. 

Read on to see if you can identify your child, yourself and think about how these styles will behave in situations like sitting through a class in person or online or following through on homework assignments, studying for a test or general socialization in unfamiliar settings. 

Once your child becomes familiar with these personality types, check back in to see which teacher is which bird and use that knowledge to help when subjects are challenging.  This is something you can also use to help with communication in families and at work.

So, what kind of bird are you?:

D (dominance) are eagles. 

They see big picture and are focused on solving problems

Under pressure they may:

Become impatient

See things in black and white

Exceed authority

Get tunnel vision on accomplishing a task

Best ways to communicate with them:

Be prepared and organized

Be clear, specific and to the point

If you disagree with them, focus on the facts

I (influence) are parrots.

They are interested in how we relate to people.

Under pressure they may:

Become frazzled and unorganized

Not listen 

Become even less interested in details

Verbally attack

Best ways to communicate with them:

Ask about their ideas and goals

Allow time for relating and socializing

Help them get organized and put details in writing

S (steadiness) are doves.

They desire calm pace and energy level

Under pressure they may:

Resist change

Nod even when they disagree

Worship status quote

Become fearful and hesitant in changing environments

Best ways to communicate with them:

Don’t force them to make a quick response

Break the ice with some personal comments

Listen and be thoughtful and inquisitive with your responses

C (compliance) are owls.

They are focused on rules and procedures.

Under pressure they may:

Fear making mistakes

Go into “analysis paralysis”

Get stuck in set way of doing things

Prefer to work alone

Best ways to communicate with them:

Ask if they see the issue the same way as you do

Provide them with info and time to make unrushed decisions 

Recognize they may be uncomfortable speaking to large groups

SOARING HIGH

Anxiety is often ignited by feeling powerless or not having control over the future. However, if a child knows and understands his/her/their DISC style everything becomes more clear especially when they learn to identify the style in their classmates and their teacher too. 

DISC style can help with work tendencies, desired environment, motivators, communication tips and best approach to handling conflict. This kind of awareness can really help a student thrive more at school if they understand themself and those they are having to work with and communicate with on a daily basis.

So while your child may or may not have to deal with remembering the locker combination, getting to the next classroom in a timely manner, submitting homework through a portal or learning how to adapt to their ever-changing world, they will at least have a better understanding of what motivates them and where they may want some support so that they can really soar above and beyond.— Published on August 18, 2020

Gennifer Birnbach, CEO and Founder at Gennifer with a G, inc.

Gennifer Birnbach is an award-winning writer, branding specialist and co-host of the “Your Practical Magic” podcast. Her 25+ year career includes launching TV Land, rebranding Bravo and ghostwriting for individuals like Roberta Flack. She has been providing intuitive, career-change coaching to professionals of all levels for over 20 years through her Reiki Genergy practice.

Your Practical Magic Will Lead the Way

As published by Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global on July 18, 2020

Not long ago, I often told people how I desperately wanted to take a year off from my corporate job in television to learn new skills and work on passion projects. Whenever I shared this with others, I could feel an elevated energy, a fire, a spark fill my center and nearly propel me forward. But, of course, my brain would jump in and talk me down with boring lies of why I should not.

I had met a woman at work who already had a headstart and I admired her so much for going for it. When we met, we discovered that we were both highly intuitive, spiritual and immersing ourselves into various alternative health and healing modalities.  

I was a trained Reiki Master, a Positive Psychology enthusiast and a messenger (both as a copywriter and as someone who seemed to get intuitive messages or info from spirit to pass along to others). She was trained in Donna Eden Energy Medicine and Martha Beck’s Wayfinder Coaching and someone who could spot an aura that needed to be fluffed a mile away. We had always dreamed of working together outside of television and in another way where we could both share our passion for growth and leading others to make changes where they could grow too.

At the beginning of 2020, that friend had asked me to guest star on her original podcast called “Your Practical Magic.” The podcast provided real talk about energy-based tools that anyone could try and apply to live their life with more ease, grace and joy.  I loved being on the show and discussed some tools I learned to remove the gross feeling you have after being ghosted (professionally or personally)

Just as I was asked to join “Your Practical Magic” full time as a host, the pandemic hit New York (where we are both based). The world seemed to shut down and freeze around us but she and I agreed that now was the time to jump wholeheartedly into taking classes, trying new ideas and seeing how far we could push this passion project of ours.  

I set up a google drive folder called COVID FREEBIES which I filled to the brim with class notes and materials in all areas of marketing, entrepreneurship and podcasting. I learned about recording equipment, editing, email marketing strategies, social media best practices and so much more from experts everywhere. It was a great distraction and I picked up a few new tips but really the greatest lesson was realizing how much I already knew and how much I was suffering from Imposter Syndrome.

Glinda the good witch tells Dorothy, “you’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” I was learning about and living out my own practical magic by discovering how silly it was to wait for something as life changing as a pandemic to move forward with my dreams. 

My intuition guided me on where to direct my focus. I pulled oracle cards and kept track of the messages or warnings they offered. And I listened. I shared my fears and dreams with others and learned more about myself through their observations and answers. This, in itself, was an even higher education than the online programs I was committed to.

I felt so happy, free and alive by this adventure. I liken it to opening a brand new box of Crayola crayons. The possibilities are all there in front of me.

I had once heard the expression “painting the plane, while you are flying it.” It meant that you can’t always wait for things to be completed before beginning, you just have to start flying and the rest will catch up.

In this case, I was taking dozens of classes to learn how we could build upon our already established skills yet we were already making things happen!

“Your Practical Magic” started to attract people who wanted to be on our show, podcasters who want us to be on their show and new listeners including friends and family who I didn’t know shared a similar interest in this topic.

Together, my friend and I are building a community where we are normalizing conversations around healing old wounds, rising from the ashes and even finding normalcy when all we can do is lie down and be quiet.  Through this event, our friendship and professional relationship have both grown as well. 

This experience has shifted my passion project to be my life’s passion. I always knew this would come true but never like this. The permission I had been waiting for — to break away from the hamster wheel, to learn something new and to enjoy time working on a passion project — was finally here. And for that, I am grateful.

You can listen to Your Practical Magic podcast anywhere you get your podcasts. To subscribe to the Your Practical Magic newsletter, visit Yourpracticalmagic.com

Buy Buy Graduate 2020 Party Goods

I’m a natural-born optimist and it’s pretty easy for me to exude positivity no matter the situation. I’m a glass half-full kind of person who can find the good in any situation. Even in this horrific pandemic, I’ve found many pockets of joy to give me a boost and continue to look forward to the possibilities of what tomorrow will bring.

To some, I’m completely annoying and I totally get why. Sometimes you just want to sit in the sorrow and pain of what is taking place around us and my vitamin-C sunshine is like ants on a picnic only flipped.

But recently, I was struck with a deep, unthinkable pain in my heart that left me reeling.

I had to run to the store to pick up something we were out of. It was a simple task I have become accustomed to. Putting on my mask and keeping at least 6’ distance from anyone else in the store. I’m not shocked any longer but the act or experience of it. It’s been over a month already.

As I walked past the aisles, I spotted a section of Graduate 2020 party goods and my heart broke. I instantly felt like crying for the thousands of parents out there who have been robbed of the experience of celebrating their child’s graduation big time.

Pausing for a second here, I recognize how odd it is that with all of the images and news out here right now, Graduate 2020 paper plates should not, in reality, be the thing that pushed me over the edge.  The news, the sirens, the empty spaces where people used to gather are much bigger things to shake me to my core. I suppose living through past disasters like 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy have sadly prepared me to process what I am seeing and hearing all around. I don’t think any of us can predict what to feel and when. I certainly would never have guessed that paper plates would flare up sadness and grief like it did.

To help explain, I want to share with you that before I even got married, I dreamed of having kids and planning their birthday parties and celebrations. To me, it was the ultimate act of showing my love and I could not wait to do that for my own children someday. 

My daughter’s 1st birthday was a 50 person BBQ.  Seeing the love and joy in honoring my daughter was one of my top 10 favorite moments.  The same with other milestones like preschool graduation, 8th grade graduation and getting a driver’s license. I always invited others to join us and be a part of making the day or accomplishment feel special.

With every cake I picked out or special meal I planned, I felt elevated by the love I was putting into it for them to experience by myself and those who joined us in our celebrations.

My oldest is a junior in high school so this is not our big year to celebrate her accomplishments (or for me to acknowledge mine as her mom) and while I felt bad for those whose kids were not going to have the senior experience they’ve been promised their whole like, it wasn’t until I saw these party supplies that I felt it even deeper for their caregivers.

We all want our kids to get to experience the greatest joys in life. Graduating is obviously up there. 

I know everyone will celebrate in their own way and it will still be special even if it’s not how you imagined it to be. And while this is so frivolous at a time like this, I am really hoping that I will see those 2020 Graduate plates and napkins in photos shared throughout May and June. Because seeing those party goods again, but this time with a family using them to enjoy their special day, may possibly unbreak my heart.

Hair I am with my authenticity!

There are many reasons I somehow found myself out of touch with my identity.

I grew up knowing I was different. I didn’t feel that I fit in at school because I was one of a few Jewish kids in my grade. Class picture day was held on Rosh Hashanah (school was open, I was absent). I was asked to sing “Ave Maria” in the school holiday show which only had Christmas songs. I went into Manhattan a lot with my family and wore clothes that others announced were weird. I was even accused by multiple kids in my class that I was lying when I said I had been on an airplane.  

I didn’t feel that I belonged at Sunday School either. There the kids were mostly from a different district and knew each other from their zip code. I also didn’t seem to wear the right clothes there or be into the right things.

For years, I’d toggle between trying to conform with hopes of building friendships and feeling accepted. Or at least to fly under the radar from any teachers or other authority who let me know in a subtle way that they didn’t appreciate what I brought to the table.

It wasn’t until high school that I felt more relaxed about my uniqueness. I met others through a shared love of music explore, pushing fashion-norms and expanding beyond my suburban bubble to meet others who were also considered “others.”

Throughout those years, one of my biggest struggles was with my hair. It was curly and was tough to “feather” or “straighten” or look more like “permed curls.”  When I was little, I gravitated towards the black dolls because their hair looked more like mine. I connected more with Donna Summer. My imaginary friends were the cast of The Wiz (on Broadway with Stephanie Mills as Dorothy). 

I had a hard time finding a hairdresser up in my parts who knew how to cut and/or style curly hair so I went for styles that were punky or trendy in a way that I could style with my fingers. Pulling my hair straight and strapping it down with hairspray and gel. I started going to Astor Place in Greenwich Village for cuts and then following it up at a local Barber Shop for upkeep.

When I got to college, I was encouraged (for the first time ever) to let my hair be curly. I found an amazing stylist who was great with curly hair. Celebrities like Maria Carey began to surface and finally I started to see women who looked more like me and were considered beautiful. It felt good.

Flash forward to the mid-2000s when I began working for a company that was more conservative than I had been in years. It was creative too but sort of in-the-box (at least that was my perception).  It didn’t feel quite right and in hindsight I realized how much of it brought me back to unresolved feelings of reporting daily to a place where I didn’t always feel like I belong.

I would get occasional comments about my outfits. I was once in a meeting where my favorite color to wear was described as “lowbrow” by an executive when seeing it in a potential ad. Color and fashion are choices, I suppose. But when I received unsolicited suggestions about straightening my hair, I felt personally attacked and judged. 

I know many people go through this sort of thing (and far much worse than I, a white woman, will ever experience first-hand). One day, I felt pushed too far and explained how my curls were my ideas growing out of my head. My hair was my power. My hair was one of the only things that no matter how I cut, dried, brushed etc, it will always keep coming in as it was 100% intended to. Curly. Unruly. Unpredictable. I loved how that also mirrored how my thoughts flow.

Getting back to authenticity and what that meant for me in the workplace, I knew it was time to cut bait and be my own thing. I had a beautiful image from a co-worker who wanted me to get back to who I was and now I needed a tagline to go with it. My brain shot off dozens of options. My hair and I agreed upon, “every curl on my head is an idea” because it is true and I am true.

For further discussion around being authentic, listen to my guest appearance on Your Practical Magic Podcast.

WHAT COUNT CHOCULA TAUGHT ME ABOUT EMPATHY

A few years ago, I discovered that my life-long ability to deeply understand (and sometimes even feel) other people’s emotions had a name. It’s called being an Empath. Many of us describe it as a blessing (we can tap into it to help others who need support) and a curse (we often take on those feelings ourselves and it’s hard to shake off).

My earliest memories of being cursed with empathy was when I would watch Saturday Morning cartoons. In between each show there were a parade of commercials targeted to kids. Toys, games, fast food and cereal.

The cereal commercial that most-often triggers my anxiety around the feelings I’m feeling (on behalf of others) is Count Chocula and Frankenberry.  

Frankenberry was a little more passive, talking about how sweet and delicious his cereal was. He seemed proud.  Count Chocula had aggressive sales tactics and not only pushed his cereal as the more superior one, he often got in Frankberry’s face in a “come at me bro” kind of vibe.

Every single ad for this cereal stressed me out. I just wanted the kids eating cereal or ANYONE to tell them, “Guys, both cereals are great. People like both and we will take turns each morning choosing one or the other.”

Their office culture seemed toxic and they needed to work together not against each other.  These were mostly the thoughts my 8 year-old self would have throughout the :30 seconds (and sometimes continuing after).

Then there was the Trix Rabbit who just wanted to enjoy the cereal that his face was on. The kids were not inclusive and teased him saying, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids” which is obnoxious. The cereal was obviously his idea and in addition to the kids not sharing, they insulted him and talked down to him.  My brain chatter would be like, “What is their problem? Give the rabbit a bowl of his own creation and fuck the rules!”

SIDEBAR: Interesting fact, there was a change.org petition to tell General Mills that Trix were also for rabbits. I see there are others who cannot sleep until harmony is restored.

Now I don’t want to be all Debbie Downer so I’d like to point out an ad where I felt someone was treated fair and that was McDonald’s. In most ads, the Hamburglar tried to steal the McDonald’s hamburgers any chance he got. He did not succeed. It was taken back from him. But these ads were more soothing for my empathetic soul because it was more about the act of stealing vs. an exclusive VIP club where his kind didn’t have access to these goods. Plus Ronald spoke to the Hamburglar the same way he spoke to close friends like Grimace, Mayor McCheese and those cute Fry Guys. And I appreciated his warmth and understanding.

If you also identify as an EMPATH and if these advertising situations just triggered you as well, here is a 5-step guide I discovered on how to protect your energy. You are very welcome!

Career Changer Starter Kit

I love reinventing myself, learning new things and taking off-roading adventures.

In my career I have successfully moved from publicity to marketing to advertising among other professions. Each role gave me incredible new skills and the ability to bridge gaps between teams since I had walked in their shoes.

During that time I also completed Floral Design, Positive Psychology, Project Management and Reiki Master certificate programs. I enrolled in those courses to try things out when my current job began to grow stale.

Walking this untraditional path, I have been approached by people of all levels who wish to do the same. Here is what I tell them.

Everyone knows what they are meant to do next but often there is a fear of moving forward. Good news, you can and will make it happen. Annoying news, this is not going to be an overnight process. Similar to doing stomach crunches to get beautiful abs, you will be sculpting your thoughts.

You’ll have to bury tired, low-energy stories that no longer serve you. You’ll have to nourish your brain with new beliefs and language. You’ll have to trust your intuition that you are on the right path. And you’ll have to do it daily until you are ready to go out in a crop top.

Here is my suggested Career Changer Starter Kit to help you dig deep, reconnect with your authentic self and figure things out. Let’s get started!

VISION BOARD

I prefer to do this in powerpoint and seek out photos that evoke what I want or what makes me happy. For years, I included stuff for myself and my family (vacations, better communication, home improvements).

In 2019, I only put my photo and surrounded myself with images of people who inspired me, whose energy I’d want to be around or who I wanted to emulate.

It includes Oprah, Awkwafina, a very young Mother Teresa, and more.  The nice thing about doing it in PPT (vs cutting and pasting) is that it is easy and you can swap images in and out as you transform. By summer, I had made some edits to better align with my own evolution. A board that can change as you do is a very powerful tool.

From left to right: Oprah, (me), the 2019 Pantone Color of the year (which I found hopeful and motivating), AwkwafinaHodaEllenMichelleMother TeresaIyanla (who midyear replaced someone else when I outgrew her), SisterShanimy soul sister, Noreen O’DonnellJen Sincero,
Maxie McCoy, and Brene Brown.

REPLACE THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD WITH PODCASTS

You must start rewriting the narrative in your head and replace it with new statements, beliefs and thoughts. Listening to others’ stories of resilience and grit may resonate with your own fire and remind you of who you are and what you are determined to achieve.

My top place to pull from is Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast and one of my favorites to start with is an episode called “the difference between your job and your work.”  I am a subscriber to this podcast and find myself listening every Monday morning to rally for the week.

A friend suggested one particular episode of TheRobCast (Rob Bell) which gave me a tidbit that I tried and found helpful when I was feeling stuck in my career. He said to put Post-Its on my computer “Show Me How To End it Well” and “Show Me Some Options.”  Soon I was able to see the opportunities unfolding before me as a whole (vs parts).

Another podcast that’s decent is called On Purpose with Jay Shetty. All of these are spiritual (not religious). I find having some kind of spirituality is important because without it you cannot trust the unseen or that things are happening as they should. So if they start talking about religion, and you’re not interested, just zone out a little. Either way you’ll find the majority of it is inspiring, insightful and, again, helpful to change the narrative in one’s brain.

GET QUIET AND READ

THE POWER OF NOW I got the audio book. It was powerful and transforming. I would listen to his weekly interview with Oprah in (you guessed it) her Super Soul Sunday podcast where each week they’d dissect one chapter of his other book NEW EARTH .  This is helpful for rediscovering your true self and can help with anything from career to relationships and more. The podcasts ran in January 2019 and together really get you up to speed!

YOU’RE NOT LOST Hands down one of the most powerful things I did for myself when I got quiet was read this book and DO THE WORK in the exercise sections. It absolutely shifted my mindset. 100% buy it and do it!

BIG MAGIC I got the audio book. It felt like author, Elizabeth Gilbert, was giving me one-on-one coaching. This is especially helpful if work in a creative industry or if you want to. It was recommended by one of my favorite smart ladies, Donna Cravotta.

REINVENTION ROADMAP I liked this book but I did read it at a time when I was in desperate mode so I’m confident I wasn’t ready to hear what it was telling me to do. I still liked it and found it helpful (it’s a workbook so the exercises help you think things through).  I’ve revisited what I wrote a few times and I can actually see what I had hoped to come true materializing. It’s great to have a tool to guide you and to refer back to for a pep talk as needed.

YOU ARE A BADASS was given to me as a gift by another curly-haired friend. It was humorous and helpful. The author, Jen Sincero, has written variations of it since (money, weight loss etc) and sells one-a-day calendars, organizers in case you’d like expand her advice in other ways.

Reading about people you feel connected to or are inspired by is really a great way to open  your mind to your possibilities. Audiobooks are a great way to ingest this info too.

I personally loved listening to Michelle read Becoming to me via this audiobook. It was not just inspiring but it felt tangible because I could hear how she chose to share these words. Seek out someone who fills you with good vibes and provides inspiration around resilience.

VOLUNTEER AND BOOST YOUR SKILLSET

Find places you’d enjoy learning something new OR applying your best skills to the greater good of something you believe it. It’s a nourishing act, you are surrounded by like-minded people and can build an experience that reminds you of your talents or unearths ones you weren’t sure you had.

I volunteered in many Employee Resource Groups and was asked by my peers to lead the Asian Pacific American ERG (very flattering and exciting). I am also on the board of Future Now Media Foundation and served on the Promax People & Culture committee, led a team within NBCUniversal’s Erase the Hate initiative and did some marketing communications for WICT-NY. I met so many great people and was able to share what I know and receive mentoring from others.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

I’ve tried many online courses but COURSERA is the one I liked the best. I studied Positive Psychology when I wanted to help coach people but felt imposter syndrome because I didn’t have a degree or certificate (even though I’ve been coaching people to make career changes for years).

It’s great because they often have a free month special and then after that it’s a very reasonable monthly charge. You pay based on how fast you can get through the course. If it’s $75 per month and you can do the course in two months, it’s $150. If you can jam through it in one month, it’s only $75. So that’s up to you and your commitment to moving through it. When you are done, you can easily apply the badge/certification to your LinkedIn Profile or other.

Also looking into things in local schools is great. That’s how I ended up studying and completing a Floral Design degree at Parsons and became a Reiki Mater at NYC Open Center. When you feel stuck, finding a new outlet to feel challenged and see accomplishments of completing levels is really inspiring.

BUILD A LUCKY SAVINGS ACCOUNT

I collected anything I felt was a good luck charm, a sign or whatever all in one place building a Lucky Savings Account. Mine has found pennies, bird feathers of all kinds, fortunes from cookies and even 2 Sweet & Low packets (which my grandmother used to use in that quantity) that randomly fell onto my hand one day while I was fixing my coffee at a bagel shop. Hi, Mema!

Seeing those found items piled up gave me a sense of security that things were moving in the right direction and that I had something greater watching out for my well being.

Feathers, fortunes, 2 Sweet & Low from my Mema and protective stones to anchor it all in a dish that says LOVE

You’ve heard it all before, change starts with you. Simply getting promoted, landing a new role, making more money or moving to another city is not going to bring everlasting happiness.

The change starts with you and must align with your authentic self. And to get there, you can start with these tools or use them as a guide to find your own gurus, workshops and messages to help you along your way.

I hope you found this helpful to get started. 

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