Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.

How to take risks with confidence – Insights from Elisabeth Moreno, CEO France of Lenovo

We all need role models, people who have tread the path we hope to travel and who came out alive thriving.

Elisabeth Moreno, CEO Lenovo FranceElisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France is such a person.  Lenovo is a $43 billion global technology company and a leader in the PC market.  Moreno, a black woman from Cap Vert who immigrated to France as a child and was brought up with little means, has risen to the top in the fast-pace, male-dominated world of high tech.

Moreno recognizes the significant role self-confidence and risk-taking have played in helping her achieve this success, and seeks to transmit these qualities to her team, her family, and to you and me.  It’s a delight to interview her.

As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

“I took a risk…”

Interview with Elisabeth Moreno
CEO Lenovo France

Denise Dampierre (DD): “Welcome.  Let’s dive right in. Tell us about some of the risks you took in your career.”

Elisabeth Moreno (EM): “Hello.  Risks are like finding yourself at the bottom of the pool.  Either you sink, or you swim.  I swam.

A professional turning point in my career was when I accepted to launch an initiative in Morocco for a company I worked for in the past.  No one believed I could overcome the social, racial, and religious differences.  Yet, when you must rely on yourself, you discover qualities deep within you.  I consider my two years in Morocco as among the best of my professional experiences.

Another risk was also to join Lenovo. When they came knocking I was in my comfort zone and could have stayed there for years.  And yet…my flame was flickering.  Lenovo, a Chinese company, represented opportunity and the unknown.  I took the risk to be vibrant with life.”

Build confidence: Try. Dare. Make Mistakes. Fall…and get up again.

DD: “It seems that risk-taking is integral to your life-paradigm.  Where did it come from? Were you born with it?”

EM: “I was scared of everything as a child!  I feared doing wrong.  Dreaded not understanding or not being understood.  I was scared to try.  And the more I focused on my fear, the more it grew and the less I dared anything.

I learned to embrace risk by facing challenges and realizing I overcame them.

When confronted with the kinds of situations, “If this should happen to me, I’ll die,” I came out of them alive.  Those fears were in my head!  When I realized these were fears I created, I sought out counseling and coaching and embarked on some thorough soul-searching and soul-healing.

Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.

When we take a risk and it works, we grow in confidence.  It nurtures more confidence.

Even if the risk does not work out as hoped, we still grow in confidence.  We learn from every trial.  And even in failed attempts, something worked. If that one element succeeded a first time, there is a high probability it can generate positive results again.  Our society depends upon risk-taking.

Once we gain in confidence, then we need to learn to maintain it.  Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.”

DD: “You speak of changing yourself.  And yet many people resist change and risk-taking because they believe the problem lies with someone else.”

EM: “We only see in other people something that resonates with us, be it positive or negative.  Everyone is not sensitive in the same ways.  One person can be transported by a piece of music whereas his tone-deaf neighbor finds the noise discomforting.  One person will leave a conference feeling ecstatic and uplifted and someone else deems it was a waste of time and money.

It’s so much easier to believe the problem lies in the other person.  People do not change against their will.  If they want to evolve, they will.  The only person on whom you have real power to change is yourself.

We reap what we sow.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.

I spend a lot of time transmitting. There is no magic wand to extract change in someone else.  And yet, I can create circumstances which favor change in others.  First, to be a role model, which I practice in both my personal and professional life.  Next, to be authentic.  When I am genuine with others, I invite authenticity from them.  When you are sincere, 50%—no, it’s more like 80%—of your contacts will respond with sincerity.

We reap what we sow.  As a junior manager, I believed success lay in being tough.  I reaped fear and distrust.  Then I took the risk to trust my team.  Trusting anyone renders one extraordinarily vulnerable.  When I trusted, positive results abounded.

Life is like a mirror which reflects what we give.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.”

DD: “How do you transmit a desire for risk-taking to your team, to your young employees, and to your daughters?”

EM: “As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

Our youth seek meaning in life and in work.  Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.  We focus our training on knowledge-building; we need to build know-how.

Creating learning experiences implies accepting our vulnerability as people.  By doing, and through interaction, we face our humanity straight on. Unfortunately, today’s education in France focuses so strongly on the intellect, and we find ourselves disconnected from our own humanity. I wish our youth had more opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Parents are obsessed with grades and, with the best of intentions, raise children to become test-taking machines. I don’t blame them; we all want to protect our children and do the best for them. Unfortunately, many parents respond out of fear.

And yet, our children will, and need to, confront their own fears.  This is how to prepare them for taking risks and for success in life.

Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.

For a long time, we have been taught that leaders should manage with their intellect.  Reasoning reigns.  I have learned that leadership also relies on your heart and your gut.  As parents, we are called to use our brains to find ways to connect meaningfully with our children and to help them develop grit.”

DD: “What do you want your employees and daughters to believe about risk?”

EM: “I want my daughters and everyone to dare to take risks.

Risk does not avoid danger.  The fear of risk will not keep bad things from happening to you or me.  In fact, it is a good thing to recognize the riskiness of a venture.  It will guide you to keep a safe distance from the edge of a cliff.

Only our fears are often exaggerated. The outcome is often less serious than we dreaded.

I want my girls to have confidence.  Let them try.  Let them dare.  Let them accept making mistakes.  They will fall…and pick themselves up again.

I want my daughters and my young employees to know they are marvelous and a wonderful life awaits them when they embrace it.

Too many people today no longer dare to risk.  If they don’t succeed on the first try, they are ashamed.

If you or I do not take risks, we might distance danger, but we will forget to live.  We end up like the walking-dead: biologically alive yet without a life inside.

The more risks you take, the wider you open your arms to life.” It need not be a big risk, even the small ones can open fantastic opportunities.

DD: “Are there risks you did not take and wished you had?”

EM:  Laughter.  “No.  Of course, there must be some.  However, I do not live looking in the rear-view mirror and harboring regrets.  While I am still alive, I can still embrace those risks.”

DD: “Thank you.”

Thank You

Elisabeth Moreno gave us food for thought.  May we feed on it wisely.

  • To clear out the fears in our head
  • To dare and learn
  • To nurture our confidence daily
  • To lead with humanity

Stay tuned as, next week, I’ll share exercises to put these insights into action.

P.S. I’m writing from my orange Lenovo PC.  My husband recommended it for the technical qualities and value for money.  I fell in love with the color; it makes me happy to begin work every day.

Cover photo by Sammie Vasquez from Unsplash
Fanny Smith Ski Cross Olympics 2018

Time Optimization Tips from the Olympics

Time management matters when nanoseconds make the cut for an Olympic medal.

That’s the case with champion women’s skicross Fanny Smith, from Villars-sur-Ollon, who won the bronze medal in the Olympics at PyeongChang.  Our children learned to ski in Villars and I too felt that thrill of the locals when she earned her medal.

Fanny Smith Bronze Olympics 2018

On our local slopes we don’t see these; they are prevelant at the Olympics.  The blue lines on the slopes.


Optimize Time with Success Lines

These markers help racers and coaches trace the optimal path to follow.  It’s literally their time-optimization guide.  Stay within the lines to go faster.

How do you track the optimal path and reach your goals fast?  For your life?  For your work? For your relationships?

Time management is an issue for many of us.  Few of us can afford hours retracing our steps.  And yet many of us do so with relationships.  Building positive rapport between people takes time…and it takes even longer to clean up after the s*@! hits the fan. 

Too far off these blue lines and the skiers crash and forfeit the race.

If you find yourself impatient or frustrated or repeating yourself, it’s time to consider.  Might something be out-of-focus: either your goal or the path to get there?

Save Time & Fix your objective

I begin many workshops with an activity* to bring our goals into clear focus.

Step 1—List the Time Consuming Challenges

What zaps your time and energy in relationships?  We clear out what blocks our vision by naming these challenges.

For a workshop for managers of Millennials, we wrote down “Challenges Working with Millennials.”

Participants chime in: resistance to rules, attached to the phone, in need of perpetual feedback, (too) high view of his (untested) capabilities, and even spelling mistakes.

Maybe you don’t work with the Gen Y.  Then tweak the question to match your work dynamics:

  • Challenges of working with off-site teams
  • Challenges of working in Finance/Legal/Marketing in an industrial group

This process of listing difficulties creates a positive group dynamic and opens communication.  Everyone realizes we sweat and worry over similar predicaments.  In expressing these shared relationship challenges, we give ourselves and each other the permission to be human and to learn.

Expressing the negatives has the effect of letting dust settle.  The atmosphere is lighter and we are ready to clearly focus on the positives we seek.

Step 2—Identify the Team Skills to Build

We then create a separate and complementary list to bring the leadership goals into focus.  These are the skills managers seek to transmit to their teams to create a motivating and performing work environment.  We enumerate them under, “Qualities of our Team’s Culture.”

Of course, you seek to develop technical capabilities: mastery of financial analysis or digital marketing tool.  You ALSO aim to build communication and soft skills:  trust, mutual respect, learning from experienced team members, learning from youth, seeking excellence…

Step 3—Assess

Once the two lists are completed, we step back to review them side by side and invite comments from everyone

Some participant are motivated: “I had not thought of myself in the leadership development business.  How inspiring!”

Others balk: “What pressure.  I don’t master all those soft skills.  How can I pass them on to my team?”

Many have questions: “Do I have to do all of them at once?” and “So, what is the link between the two lists?”

Step 4—Use Time Optimizing Success Lines

Success lines help us identify where we are and where to aim.  They’re like a GPS.

These lists represent our leadership GPS.

The challenges point to our present situation.  “You are here.”  This is where we have arrived using our current leadership style.  This is also where you will stay by continuing with your actual managerial tools. 

The qualities represent our desired destination.  Like when your team members jump out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm to get to work and engage with a dynamic team.  Or when colleagues seek you or your employee out for greater responsibilities.

Focus, Focus, Focus

But you may wonder, “It’s just a list…”

Correction.  It’s a lens. 

You get what you measure.  When your bonus is set on profit, you’ll likely avoid high volume, low margin customers.

“Human systems grow in the direction of their deepest and most frequent inquiries.” – David Cooperrider, founder of Appreciative Inquiry, Case Western University

Our leadership focus is what we generate in our team. Your and my focus matters because it changes our actions.

“The act of looking for certain information evokes the information we went looking for—and simultaneously eliminates our opportunity to observe other information.” – John Wheatley, quantum physicist

When we talk, model, clarify, and encourage the qualities we seek in our team, we create clear success lines. And that saves tons of time…and money, and energy, and good spirits.

Positive Communication Tools

A clear focus is the first among many tools to build the qualities in your Leadership GPS.  Check out the workshops to discover others and how to develop them in your team.

Leadership GPS Works In Life too

This optimizing GPS applies in personal relationships as well.

When our four boys were young I embarked on a husband-improvement-program.  As a woman, I KNEW how to be a great dad!!!

Every day for one month I noted one helpful behavior my husband did for the family and let him know my appreciation.  “Honey, thanks for having done the dishes. It’s really nice to finally relax after having put the kids to bed.”

I anticipated behavioral modification in my husband.  This process changed me. 

My previous focus lay on the mountain of chores to be done and how my husband did not do his part.  My tone of voice often sounded critical.  When focusing on his contributions, I became more enjoyable to be around.  Maybe he became more involved or my company became more pleasant; either way, we ALL (sons included) do chores.

Ranking high on the list of “Dampierre Qualities to Groove Together” (our family GPS) you’ll find:

Everyone in the family helps.

Food for thought

  • How many times a day do you focus on what is going wrong? On what is going right?
  • How time effective is your critique?
  • Your critique is welcome here. What do you disagree with in this post?

Tell us in the comments.  Thanks.


Cover photo from lacote.ch

Gold Medalist Virtue and Moir

Win-Win Relationships – When 1 + 1 = MUCH MORE

If you and I would be in a room together, three of us would be present.  You.  Me.  And our relationship.

It’s been Olympic season, which made me wonder, “What does a gold medal relationship look like?”

Gold Medal Relationships On Ice

Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (ice dancing) swept me off my feet.  Figuratively, that is (although I am writing with a sore knee and bruised thigh having fallen on ice!)

In the rink, we find Tessa and Scott AND their “je ne sais quoi”, that is, their win-win relationship.

Here are comments from and about them:

 “Better together.”

“Trust empowers them to dare.”

 “What a privilege to work with an exceptional athlete and person like you!”

Gold Medal Relationships On Water

It’s more than a male-female thing.

The team of nine Americans who won the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing competition experienced this too.  In the book Boys in the Boat, one of the team members, Joe Rantz, describes the feeling of flow when the eight men rowed in power to the rhythm set by their savvy and demanding coxswain (navigator).

It’s like they were flying across the surface of the water, in total unison, all as one.

On Olympic racing day, one of their rowers ran a high temperature, and the coach recommended they replace him with their backup man.  The other eight men in the boat insisted on competing as the original team.  They performed better together.

Winning Relationships In Outer Space

Such an intense win-win relationship goes beyond sports and youth too.

Space Cowboys

In the movie, Space Cowboys, a retired NASA engineer, Frank Corvin (played by Clint Eastwood), agrees to rescue a threatening Russian satellite only if accompanied by the team he trusts: his fellow retired cohorts, especially William “Hawk” Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones) who passes flight-worthiness despite being diagnosed with late stage cancer.

Together, they’re better.

How would you describe your personal and professional relationships?

Relationship Test

One of my workshop activities reveals how we view “winning” in relationships.

Participants are paired and placed across from each other with a string of yarn between them.  The instructions are

  • No talking
  • No touching
  • Winning is when the other person crosses the line between the two of you.
  • Go!

This activity comes from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.


I first tried this activity with groups of parents.  The room overflowed with creativity.  Some folk got on their knees, others pretended to have found something so hilarious the other person should come and check it out, even others pulled out money from their pockets to bribe.  The room buzzed with good humor.

In the debrief, I ask which pairs had a winner (a few), which had no winner (most), and which had two winners.

The “Aha! Moment” came when the two winners demonstrated their double success:  they each cross to the other side at the same time. 

Participants realize how ingrained they are in the win-lose paradigm.


On another occasion I attempted this activity with a group of professional women, all from different organizations.  Upon hearing the instructions and the “Go” a few of them made minor attempts to connect with their partner. Within seconds the room was silent, and no one budged. The cost of losing outweighed the benefit of winning.

Win-Lose Relationships at Work

Too many of us come to work expecting win-lose relationships.

You might recognize these behaviors, either in yourself (!) or in colleagues.

The Attention Seeker

  • Sentences begins with “I”
  • They attend and speak in meetings that do not involve their work

The Controller

  • “When I want your Opinion, I’ll Give it to You”
  • “Do it My Way”

The Power Monger

  • For them to look good, others have to look bad
  • It’s vital to be first, no matter how

The Poisoner

  • “Why are you trying so hard? Management does not care”
  • They spread gossip

The Incapacitator

  • They don’t give you a chance to grow.  It can even sound nice, “Don’t worry.  I’ll just do it.”  The hidden message remains, “You’re not good enough.”
  • They don’t delegate

Breaking Free from the Win-Lose Paradigm

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Imposing change on others is like pressing down on a ball.  As soon as the pressure is removed, it bounces back to its previous state.

We can, however, change ourselves.  It’s POWERFUL.  It’s like changing the surface against which a ball bounces.  If we acted like a spongy texture (absorbing stress) and replace it with a sturdy, bouncing-off surface, the conversation will fall differently.

Check out the workshop “Communicate Positively Even Under Stress” which brings insights and skills to change your own response in ways to build win-win relationships.

What About You?

What are some win-lose relationships you face at work or in life?  How would you describe them?

Let’s hear the same about the win-win relationships too!

Please share in the comments below.

Set the Family GPS – Build a Positive 2018

RSVP workshopWhat’s your family culture?  Is it helping each of you thrive…at home, at school, and at work?

The Purpose – Set & Reach Family Goals

Create your Family GPS

  1. Specify the character qualities you wish to transmit to your children in the upcoming months
  2. Plan concrete action steps to reach that goal

For example:


To listen to each other


  • To use a talking stick so we don’t interrupt
  • To spend 5 minutes in Conversation Time after dinner

To do our best in work

  • To brainstorm solutions together at Challenge Share on Saturday mornings.  Parents can also share a difficulty.
  • To have Reading Time for everyone, 30 minutes after lunch on Sundays.


The Process

Timing – New Year

We can set goals anytime…and yet research shows that goals set at New Year’s are more likely to be kept!  The beginning of the year marks one of the moments for pause, reflection, and new beginnings.

Let’s do it!

Tools – Positive Discipline inspired activities & tools

Through group activities, we help set a family GPS: identify our current situation and set a destination for growth in 2018.

The process is FUN with lots of group interaction, brainstorming and even role playing.

Once the goals set, we explore numerous relationship strengthening tools to apply in the family context to help turn these family aspirations into achievable, realistic, AND enjoyable objectives.

Facilitator – Denise Dampierre

The workshop is led by Denise Dampierre who brings expertise from

  • Harvard Business School – leadership development concepts made family-friendly
  • Positive Discipline – an approach to building collaboration and respect-filled relationships
  • Appreciative Inquiry – inclusive change management which builds on strengths
  • Mother of 4 boys – practical experience tried and tested in with 4 boys withing 7 years

The Specifics

When – Thursday, January 25 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Where – 65, quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris.  In the American Church in Paris, room G4

How much – 25€ per person



Martin Luther King Jr "I Have a Dream"

6 Insights to Dream Big for Your Family from Martin Luther King Jr

Today we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many remember this inspiring leader in the human rights movement for his speech “I Have A Dream.”

What is your dream for your family? 

What do your children dream for their own future?
(Check out our workshop for teens)

1. Dream for Your Family & Empower Kids to Dream Too

Learn from this great man to dream big and empower others to have a vision.

It’s OK to dream big even when the situation looks dire

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail … I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” MLK Jr

nine dots

You and I can limit ourselves.

We can allow ourselves to hope what is feasible – the Basic-Fix-Dream rather than THE GRAND-VISION.

If our children dislike school, we aim for passing grades.  Could we dare for a passion for learning?

When siblings fight, we hope for “no blood.”  Can we envision them as co-builders of an amazing venture?

You may be familiar with these nine dots.

The exercise consists of passing through each of these dots once with four straight lines.  No more, no less, no curves.

Try it.

The clue?  Get out of the square.  In fact, there is no delimited zone.  The nine dots are in the shape of a square and folks like you and I apply the boundaries.

Dreaming means setting sights high…

…then following through with an action plan.get out of nine dots

2. Powerful dreams tap into a common heritage, a larger-than-me mission

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the hue meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

According to psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, grandfather of Positive Psychology, a communal vision which benefits your community, be it family, neighborhood, friends, or more taps into our basic human needs of belonging and contribution which he describes as “Gemeinschaftsgefuehl .”

A community goal brings along with it a network of supporters.

It takes a team to reach the stars.  Set a dream that motivates and engages all.

Co-dream. And co-labor (collaborate).

Which of your children’s classmates will want to help your kid be better than everyone else? (or vise versa)

3. Live the vision

Walk the talk. Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words.

Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words Click to Tweet

The US constitution declared all men of equal value.  And yet they were not treated as such.

Are you ambitious for your child?  What qualities do you dream for them?

  • Respect of self and of others
  • Love of excellence and effort
  • Wise decision-making
  • Curiosity and tolerance

Let your children witness it through your actions.

  • Speak to the children with respect…even when they act without thinking
  • Stick to your commitments, like when you say, ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • Allow them to live the uncomfortable consequences of their own unwise decisions when the stakes are low. Misplacing a 10 cent coin is less painful than losing €1000.
  • Listen actively to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions

THAT is dreaming with credibility and conviction.  Our example convinces our kids of the value of our hopes.

4. Dream with valor

Martin Luther King Jr ignites our fire when speaking of brotherhood, transformational peace-making, and character.

A dream worth living for is one worth dying for too. 

Who do you want with you as you end your days here?  What do you want said of you and for them to share with each other?  NOW is the time to plant those seeds.

For me, I want the “F.U.N.” back in funeral.  It’s because I celebrate life today that I hope folk will remember me with a smile GRIN in later years.

5. Clearly define success

“…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

A clear goal vitalizes both you and your co-dreamers.

Visualizing is a technique many leaders adapt to help them define their objectives.

A friend shared her experience at a career change workshop she attended.  The facilitator invited participants to close their eyes and to think of their ideal (dream) job.

“Now visualize the office in which you are working.”

And they proceeded with another dream session.

“Describe your colleagues.  Their age, what they are wearing, their facial expressions…”

Specifics make the dream more real…and realizable.

6. Seek strength for the LONG (loooooong) haul

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with… With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.”

In our quick win world, how can we prepare for valiant dreams that require sacrifice and persistence?

Performance experts assert that it’s not talent that keeps people from reaching their goals; it is lack of consistency which engenders lackadaisical results then discouragement and finally giving up.

In what will you place your faith?  Where will you find your source of strength?

The question is not “if” you will require boosting and encouragement.

The issue is WHEN.

Martin Luther King Jr found his from the God of the Bible.  It did not make him into a perfect person.  It made him united with others AND able to take a stand alone, peaceful AND powerful, patient AND courageous.


Thoughtful brother

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be more generous. To child, learn through a job.

We are coming to a close of our Family Feedback of the year. One son remains to give and receive his feedback with his parents.  This is the fourth in the series of posts to give you a glimpse into one our most precious and powerful family moments.

Click here for our How To’s.

Read on to learn how my son told me to be more generous and I encouraged him to grow by working simple jobs of manual labor or service.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

We are seated at the dinner table and the boys chose to go around in the order of seating. It’s our second son who finally got the floor.

Son (17 years):  “Mom, what I really appreciate is your flexibility with letting me spend time (like the night) with my girlfriend.”

This is a very delicate issue between us because his behavior is in contradiction with my values.  Yet, you see, my job as a parent is to provide him with an education and to present him with a set of values.  He graduated from high school this summer and now lives out of our home.  My role as a mother has evolved now:   to allow my son to fly with his own wings.   I did my BEST while he was under our roof.   It is his life, not mine.  I have made mistakes and learned some of my best lessons from them. He too will blunder.  He might choose some or none of my values for his life.  He will live with the consequences of those choices.

With regards to my life and beliefs, I try to follow Jesus Christ.   Try.  Because invariably I fail. But  Jesus loves me.  Still.  So, if I follow Christ, I am to love.  Still.  And loving my son now means to be “less of me and more of him.”

Mom:  “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

To Change

Son:I really don’t have a way where you could change…

This is our son who has complained and COMPLAINED about …everything and anything.  He’s an expert at finding faults.  We have purposefully taught him to identify other people’s strength and to encourage them.  It’s been WORK.

Son: “…ah yes.  You didn’t do it this year for Christmas, but sometimes you offer people the gifts you would like to receive.”

Mom:  “What do you mean, exactly?”

Son: “Last year you gave everyone kitchen tools.  The ceramic knife, the knife holder, the latest fashion cookbook…you used them all.”

Embarrassingly, this is all true!

Mom:  “I see (all too clearly) what you mean.”

Son:  “Ok, what about me?”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom: “What you have done excellently last year is master your schoolwork.  You graduated with honors. Intelligence contributes to these results, and you also worked for those grades.  You exhibited discipline and determination…along with balance in your social and spiritual dimensions of life.  And it was not just last year.  This year your academic demands are even heftier and you’re at the top of your class and keeping up with a life.”

Dad:  “You’re ranked N°1 in your class?”

Son: “Didn’t you know?”

Banter between son and father where the younger bull gets to show off his size and the senior one grunts his consent.

To Change

Rowdy teen boysMom:  “And what you could do to change is considering getting a job.  Try working for money.  The jobs you’ll have at your age are mostly entry level manual labor or service positions.  It’s a good thing to know first-hand the value of sweat and smile.

Son: “I’ve thought of that.  But you see, I don’t feel the neeeeeed to work yet.  (oh, oh!)  I work at school and then deserve a vacation.  I can afford not to work now.”

Mom:You can afford it?  Who’s paying for your time off?  Until when?  Why?

Now that you have more of the privileges of adulthood, isn’t time that you also take on more of those responsibilities too?”


Mom:  “Aagh!  It’s tough when you want to eat your cake and keep it too!” (In French we say, ‘To have the butter and the money for the butter.’ ‘Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.’)

We can all relate…and smile.

Dad: “Are we finished with the analysis and mutual-flagellation?”

Everyone:  “Poooooor Dad!”  “If it were THAT bad, why did you stay with us?” “Yes, dear ”

Mom: “Everyone clear his plate and takes at least one other thing back to the kitchen!”

Thus closed the evening meal and the Family Annual Review.

Follow Through on the Family Feedback

Our comments now hang in our Frame of Fame…where they’ll stay several weeks and re-appear from time to time over the year…as behaviors might deteriorate and the need arises to

  • be humble,
  • be generous,
  • think before speaking,
  • advance step-by-step, or
  • dress one’s age


Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Eldest son

Family Feedback How to & Example—To Mom, be clear. To child, be humble

“A TABLE!”  That’s French for “Time to eat. Kids, come NOW! Prepare your taste buds and your conversation skills…”

On December 31 the family was dispersed in six different parties.  On January 1, we all sat down for a meal together…and shared feedback on the previous year and insights for growing forward.  We call this The Family Annual Review.

We do this every year and it is AN AMAZING family moment that the children request year after year.  

Friends (who also are parents) exclaim, “What a great idea….but I’d be so scared.”  We’re giving you the play-by-play so that you can get a feel for how it happens…and do it “chez vous” too!

Since we have four sons, we’ve given each one a full post.  Keep clicking to the next post!  Each child is different (don’t you KNOW!) so you catch a different aspect of the exchange from each one.

How To – Family Feedback

Children Give Feedback to Parents

Every year, and it has now been close to ten years, we set aside a moment to step back and review our relationships.  It began when I realized I peppered my sons with feedback all day long.  But when could they voice their likes and concerns to me in a way that I would receive them graciously?

The first year, the boys game me feedback.

One behavior I do well and that they want me to continue doing.

One behavior to talk about changing.
Sometimes this can be a no-brainer.  (The first year our youngest son did this he piped up, “No more lemon cake.” Go figure.  He felt the others got a treat when he was stuck with a cake he did not like.  Apple cakes became the norm.)

Sometimes discussions ensue.  We aim to close on an action step.

Parent Gives Feedback to Child

I learned so much from their feedback shared in this out-of-the-every-day-buzz-of-activity setting.  The following year, I requested to share thoughts for them following the same process.  It is one of my favorite times of the year.

I share an OFFICIAL affirmation (we take notes and review them occasionally throughout the year). This is what they do well.

I share a vision for their growth in character.  In this post, you’ll read about my son and a vision for him growing in humility.

Read on and discover the richness of the exchange…and the natural flow too.

Feedback to Mom

Mom, sometime between the green beens and the cheese (meals chez nous are served in courses.  We’re American AND French!): “Hey guys, let’s do the review.  Who wants to give me feedback?”


Well Done

Four sons

Mom: “Son 1 (of course I used his name, probably preceded by a ‘honey’), why don’t you start.  What is one thing I have done well this past year?”

Son 1 (19 years old.  Junior in college):  “I know I’m only supposed to say one thing, but here are two.  You have been very welcoming of my girlfriend coming to stay at our home (she stays in the guest room).  You’re becoming more flexible.  You have also been kind in driving me back and forth to school (he comes home some weekends and usually takes public transportation…which takes 1 hr while, at no-traffic times, the car takes 20 minutes) on some short notices.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “I’m glad we have been able to coordinate schedules so that we can do those runs outside of rush-hour.”

To Change

Son 1:  “…and to change, two things too! (meek grin)  First, consider letting my girlfriend and I sleep in the same bed at home.  And second, you’re not clear with the financial budget.  When I come to you with exceptional expenses (contact lenses, pharmacy purchases…) you say those are in the budget, but when I worked out finances with Dad we did not include funds for that.  So, I feel like I’m paying for too much.”

Mom:  “About the girlfriend, I hear you.  You know that we have different perspectives on this and I’m not willing to change (yet?).  So what is the budget exactly?…. (Discussion to clarify)…well, let’s get that written down and put it in The Binder (THE PLACE where we store family ‘contracts’, kids’ friends’ phone numbers, forms we’ll need in two months and  wonder where to keep in the meantime…)

For reimbursements, talk to me and bring receipts.  You usually do so when my hands are full of soap suds from the dishes…so I’ll put Post-It notes in the kitchen drawer on which you can write an IOU and stick it on top of the stove.  That way I’ll remember to pay you back.”

Son 1:  “Thank you.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom:  “My turn for feedback to you.”  (Yes, all the other boys are listening…and eating.  We get a few ‘Pass the _______’ as we’re going along.)

“What you have done that is really great is to develop a relationship of confidence with your Chinese tutor.  (He helps a Chinese student with French and English…and with cultural adaptation.)  From time to time you tell us of his surprised (horror-stricken) reactions to events at school.  The entire family has benefited from your sharing those insights.  And what it shows about you, is that you have been able to secure his trust so that he can express both positive and negative observations with confidence. That’s GREAT.

Son 1: “Yeah, it’s been interesting for me too.  Thanks.”

To Change

Mom:  “Regarding growth for next year, be humble.  You’ll be studying in Asia for 6 months. Life doesn’t happen the same way there as it does in Paris.  We French are known for being aggressive and arrogant…and you have exhibited those attitudes in the past.  Being humble means purposefully listening and learning.  Be like a sponge:  take in before squeezing out.

Son 1:  “I hear you.”

That’s good enough…it’s even wonderful!



Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)


You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here


with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here


with tots

Click here

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Free download

Click here to get your free downloads.


We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!


Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Child giving kiss in thanks

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A Family Meeting for your family in your home
facilitated by Denise Dampierre, Positive Discipline educator

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

A Family Meeting is an opportunity for children to give feedback to parents, both about what they appreciate in family and areas where they would like to see change.  Parents always seem intrigued…then wary.  “What if the kids will make a laundry list of our faults and we will feel overwhelmed?”

With a clear and positive structure, Family Meetings are enjoyed by all!

Father mother son daughter in family meeting

Today’s gift is a Family Meeting in your home with your family held under the guidance of Positive Discipline trained Denise Dampierre.  After a brief introduction, you will begin the Family Meeting by sharing thanks.  What each family member appreciates in the other.  Then we will broach issues to change and close by celebrating your family.

This structured discussion lasts 30 plus minutes, depending upon the number and ages of the children.

The sharing of THANKS sets the tone for the Family Meeting. 

An attitude of gratitude also sets the tone for this gift-giving and gift-receiving season.

The Christmas Nightmare

You may have experienced this too.  It’s Christmas morning and the SUPER-EXCITED kids are Ready. Set. GO. to open their gifts.

Son and Daughter rip off the wrapping paper (you spent hours to put on) and discard the shreds on the living room floor.

Then they wail.  They did not receive The. ONE. Present. they oh-so-badly wanted.  They gave you a list of 10 wishes and you offered them 9 and, oooops, you missed the right one.

Or it could be they don’t like the chocolates offered by Great Aunt Martha.   Your child prefers milk chocolate with krispies, not this fancy (and expensive) stuff.

Or a sibling received better or more presents than they did….

The supposed-to-be magic festivities result in an emotional breakdown.

When Christmas Magic Means Fair

Parents work hard to prevent such a scene.  We spend fortunes on our children.  We make lists and compare the “value” of gifts so that the kids feel Christmas is “fair.” (Fair to whom? To you? To the child born in South Sudan?)

What about another approach?  It might require a paradigm shift.

When Christmas Magic Means Thankful

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart. Stewart plays George Bailey, a kind-hearted man who regularly sacrificed his well-being for the good of others.  One of these altruistic acts got him into major financial trouble.  In desperation, George turns to the town’s banker-tyrant, Mr. Potter.  Potter, referring to George’s life insurance policy, tells him

“You’re worth more dead than alive.”

That’s when George decides to take his life … but is given the chance to see what life would be like had he not been born. He is given the gift of glimpsing the value of his life which, in his discouragement he had been too blind to see.

It’s people’s thankfulness for George that transformed the situation.  First came the change in attitude.  This then enabled a reversal in circumstances.

George Bailey richest man in town

Gratitude Characteristic

There’s a multiplier effect to appreciativeness.

Thankfulness opens the eyes to more gratitude.

Being thankful for a tree with flickering lights leads to gratitude for electricity, and an income to buy the decorations, and the dedication of the garbage folk who pick up the spindly debris (stuffed into those recycling bags of course!)

Gratitude Can be Taught

Gratitude can be taught!

Thankfulness is a mindset which develops through practice.  Like any habit, the more we do it, the easier it is…and then it just comes naturally.

Like many new skills, it can feel awkward at the beginning.  We all start somewhere.

Olympic medalists did with their sports.

We can too with our thanks.

So when folk shrug their shoulders and excuse their self-focus with “It’s just not part of my personality or part of my culture,” think again.  It might not be part of their practice.  Yet!

Olympians excel in their domain through a discipline training plan.  So, what plan will you put in place to train yourself and the kids in gratitude?

Olympic skiier
Olympians began…
Little boy on baby skis
…like this.


Train as of Today

Advance step by step to encourage a thankful spirit (and preventing a Christmas Nightmare) in the next few days

  • Today:
    • Be an example of thankfulness.  Say, “Thank you” five times today.
    • As you put your child to bed ask them about one thing for which they are thankful today
  • Tomorrow
    • Be thankful out loud for something that you usually take for granted: electricity, sunshine, comfy sofas
    • Say “Thank you” to your partner while your children are within earshot
    • Share ONE Great Thanks to every child
  • After-tomorrow
    • Be thankful for this day. So excited to see what it will bring!
    • Transform a “calamity” (spilled milk, dirty clothes…) into a question. What could you and I do differently next time?  Say “Thanks for this time thinking of solutions together.  I learned about you and felt heard too.”
    • Share a train of thanks. “I’m thankful for a car.  It makes it possible to visit Grampa and Grandma.  I’m thankful that you have so many people who love you.  I’m even thankful that I’m hungry because I’m looking forward to our meal together even more!”
  • The day after that
    • You decide!

Prepare for a great Christmas morning NOW by practicing thanks. 

Take the time to practice.

Boy mopping floor doing chores

Build Kids’ Confidence with Chores

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

1 magnetic Chore Chart for parents & kids together
from Ludocatix  

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

“What life skills do you want to transmit to your children?”

Ludocatix chore chart

This is how we begin our Positive Discipline parenting workshops and invariably parents share a list of traits like these:

  • Responsibility
  • Autonomy
  • Love of excellence
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • ….

Today’s gift helps you transmit these skills to your children AND SIMULTANEOUSLY make life easier for you.  Ludocatix offers you a magnetic chore chart which you and the kids, together, adapt to your home.

Do You Know?

In a survey of 1001 US adults, 82% said they had regular chores growing up but only 23% indicated that they require their children to do them, reports the Wall Street Journal in their article “Why Children Need Chores.”

What happened?

Many parents feel they burden their children with chores and feel guilty.  Or they fear chores could negatively impact their relationship with the kids.  Yet research demonstrates the opposite.

Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.

Aren’t those the skills parents desire to pass onto their children?!

Today’s gift, a magnetic chore chart you can create with your children, helps them remember their chores in a fun and colorful way.

10 Ways Children Benefit from Chores

Here are 10 reasons why chores are great for kids…and therefore great for you too.

  1. To help kids feel needed
    How do you define your family?  What helps the kids know that they BELONG.  When a child has a regular chore, the other family members COUNT ON HIM.  He is needed; he has a role to contribute to the well being of all.
  2. To build a love of excellence
    Parents get to encourage quality in work as they observe how well a chore is completed.  They are also able to provide immediate, usable feedback.
    “Honey, is that pink toothpaste I still see on the bathroom sink?  A clean sink is shiny and white.  Show me how you cleaned it last time and we’ll find one thing you can do differently to make the sink glow!”
  3. To not treat parents like the Maid of the Butler
    When parents or house help do all the chores, kids tend to treat those who clean up like…servants whose purpose is to fulfill their desires.  Parents have a higher calling!  When children participate in chores, their respect for parents grows.  They’re not going to treat Mom or Dad like servants, because they do the same thing!
    “Darling, we are a family.  Everyone helps.  It’s what we do.”
  4. To teach responsibility
    The dishwasher gets emptied every day.  The trash gets taken out several times a week.  We vacuum the living room on a regular basis.  Household chores are recurring tasks and children learn to the importance of ongoing maintenance effort.
  5. To manage time
    Chores require a little bit of time.  It takes 5 minutes to set the table.  10 minutes to declutter the front hallway.  10 minutes to vacuum under the dining table.  A regular chore requires a child to integrate these few minutes into their daily schedule.
  6. To improve school grades
    Performance at school is often related to ongoing, regular effort…just like chores.  Mastery of a subject grows little bit with daily practice.   Chores show immediate results and thus reinforce the value of this daily effort.
  7. To build empathy
    We do chores for the benefit of everyone in the family, not just for ourself.  At an early age, chore-doing children get to learn to think of and act for others.
  8. To build hope for the future
    Chores truly become burdensome when they are done alone.  When children see their parents always busy with household tasks and not available to play, they create a sad vision of adulthood: all work, no fun.  Why grow out of child-like behavior if it’s to become a slave to toil?
  9. To become a more attractive partner
    As the mother of four boys, I remind them, “If you want to attract a woman of value, you can’t treat her like a maid.  Treat her like a woman of value!”  And that means doing your share of the chores.
  10. To be appreciated & affirmed
    The result of chores is immediate.  Either the table is set or it is not.  And everyone in the family knows who’s turn it is to prepare the table for dinner this week.
    “Sweetheart, that’s a lovely job folding the napkins this way.  Thank you!”
    “Today we can thank Joe for the clean hallway.  Thanks, darling.  I really appreciate not tripping over backpacks.”

And we have not even mentioned that kids enjoy a cleaner home, they learn motor skills, they test negotiation skills (“Can you do the dishwasher for me today and I’ll vacuum the stairs for you tomorrow?”) and soooo much more.

Chore Charts

How to move from theory to practice?  A chore chart sure helps.  And Ludocatix’s colorful magnetic charts make it easy.

Children and parents work together to decide who does what when.

And as the children grow and their abilities evolve and your family needs change, well, just move the magnets around to update the chart!

Photo by Frank McKenna on Unsplash