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to help you achieve Success without the Tsuris ™

Whether you need a full-day board or staff retreat, a condensed leadership or professional workshop, or a keynote speech for your big event, our team will work closely with you to customize an engaging, educational and energetic experience that will help you meet your learning needs, work within your timeframe, and achieve concrete outcomes.

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Nice Things
People are Saying

Deb has been a respected speaker and facilitator for a number of our JCC conferences over the past few years. While I've heard about her energy, hard work in preparing, and meaningful content, it took her recent keynote speech at our annual JCCs of North America Professional Conference to make me realize what an incredible asset she is. Watching her present a content-filled, energetic, and personalized session  -- without using any notes -- was very impressive. Deb is a multi-talented, serious, and impactful presenter."
– Allan Finkelstein, President and CEO, JCC Association of North America

As a leader of a new congregation that resulted from the merger of two temples -- each with its own leadership and methodology – I decided we needed to have a board retreat to meld the best of both organizations. We wanted to grow our membership, improve the services we provided, and get more members involved in our leadership, but neither board had the experience or training to guarantee a smooth transition.  We learned about Deborah Grayson Riegel and her coaching practice, and hoped that her reputation for a high energy, creative teaching approach would yield real implementable ideas.  Deborah exceeded our expectations. We did indeed leave the training with a more cohesive team, ready to implement several new ideas on how we can move forward in our mission to improve services to our membership.  This turned out to be one of the best 90 minutes of training I have been through, as Deborah kept us moving and thinking the entire time. I would recommend Deborah to any organization that seeks to develop new operational efficiencies through a team approach and who wants to advance leadership effectiveness by developing better listening skills."
– Jeffrey Karp, President, Karp Financial Strategies, Inc., Second VP, Temple Kol Tikvah

When our Federation was looking for a dynamic speaker to attract seasoned as well as new solicitors, Deborah Grayson Riegel was the perfect fit!  Her national reputation as a trainer and coach gave us the confidence to promote our upcoming Solicitor Training workshop to our campaign, board and community leadership.   Deborah Grayson Riegel ‘s presentation was very personal, engaging, interactive and educational.  “Soliciting without the Tsuris” was valuable for everyone – from the most experienced solicitors to those who are just getting started!   Any community or organization looking for a home run should invite Deborah to their community!" 
– Sue Littauer, Development Director,
Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte

Deborah is spunky and strong and uses her energy and insight with the precision of a laser. She is just as good a listener as she is a coach, which is actually what makes her a good coach. When doing presentation coaching, she keys into to what's important. She finds the buried lead. She carves out the diamond. She makes you shine, through rigorous challenge and glorious inspiration. She is one of kind, and anyone who meets her, works with her, befriends her, is one lucky person. I certainly feel blessed and grateful for her help, support and guidance."
– Author Kimberlee Auerbach, The Devil, The Lovers & Me: My Life in Tarot

“We loved the stories you told, you were charming and vivacious and everyone LOVED you! You handled the facts, gave them concrete information, and told them what they needed to know. Your methods were logical, and you delivered the messages even-handedly and without bias - giving each side it's due. You led with the facts, backed them up, and got to the point. Everyone in the room had a fantastic experience! Thank you. Thank you. You made me look good and it was a great start to the campaign year!”
– Beth Appelman, Director of Development, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford

“I am so glad that JNF leadership had the wisdom to provide such a dynamic and insightful trainer to bring the new JNF staff together – you blew everyone away."
– Julie Fink Paris, Western Pennsylvania Regional Director, Jewish National Fund

Creating a Culture of Accountability
From the reception desk to accounting to the mail room, everyone has an impact on the reputation – and the success – of the Jewish organization in the eyes of donors, members, beneficiaries, prospects, vendors, the media and the community. But when staff on the front line or in the back room feel like their attitudes and behaviors don’t matter because they are “behind the scenes”, the organization is put at risk. In this session, Professionals of all levels will understand how their job is truly mission-critical, and learn how and why to be accountable and customer-focused in both reactive and proactive scenarios. (Note: a separate session is offered for those in supervisory roles who want to create, reinforce and model a culture of accountability)

Adapting to Different Behavioral Styles
How many times has someone gotten upset with you because they misunderstood your intentions? How many times have people misread your mood, your tone or your approach? Was there a small change that you could have made that would have prevented all the confusion? Too often, that insight comes a little too late. In this session, Professionals and Board Members will learn how to grasp that insight before those misunderstandings occur, not after. Participants learn to see their own unique behavioral style and preferences, and will recognize how behaviors – their own and others – are likely to be misread. By learning how to adjust their communication style to meet the needs and styles of those around them, relationships flourish and more work gets done.

Appreciative Inquiry: Shifting Your Organization’s Focus from Problems to Possibilities
Does your staff, lay leadership and organizational culture focus on what’s wrong, what’s broken, and what’s not working? If so, then you need an attitude adjustment that can drive powerful, positive change. Appreciative Inquiry, a framework developed by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve, helps groups identify what is working well – and how to get more of it – rather than trying (again!) to identify and overcome obstacles or threats. You pick the goal (such as “Embracing Collaboration,” “Delighting Our Donors or Customers,” “Celebrating Change,” etc.) and see how the Appreciative Inquiry process can shift problem thinking into positive and practical possibilities.

Board Building
Eight Steps to Building a Better Board
Board building is often seen as a one-time event rather than an on-going continuous improvement process. However, board building is critical to breathing new life into the organization – and the Jewish community -- while honoring its history, and maintaining the integrity of its mission, vision and activities. This session will give Professionals, current Board Members and Lay leaders who seek board positions the eight critical steps of building a strong, vibrant and diverse board that can get the work of the organization done in a personally and Jewishly fulfilling way.

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Board Governance
Getting the Board to Govern More and Manage Less
Whose job is it to update the strategic plan -- and then stick to it? How about linking the current agenda to the strategic agenda? Who is supposed to monitor the success of your organization’s initiatives? Both the Board and Professionals have separate and distinct roles in keeping the Jewish organization viable and running smoothly. In addition, both share areas of mutual support and responsibility. In this session, participants will learn how to maximize their individual and collective impact from strategic thinking to human and financial resource development and more. Note: It is highly recommended that Professionals and Board members participate in this workshop together for maximum impact.

Communication Effectiveness Series
Can we talk? Of course we can! But are we really communicating? Communication is more than talking and listening. It requires a deep understanding of another person’s perspective. But when you take into consideration all of our biases, behavioral idiosyncrasies (no, of course we don’t mean YOU), unspoken emotions, personal agendas, and unshared assumptions, this can seem almost impossible. These sessions show Professionals, Board Members and Lay Leaders to recognize their own communication styles, strengths and challenges to increase their self-awareness, as well as how to read other people and see how others interpret their behaviors. These sessions also applies this new knowledge to the area of conflict, and helps participants discover simple ways to communicate more respectfully and constructively. Most importantly, these sessions leave participants with a gut-level appreciation for the needs of their lay and professional partners, and a toolkit for adapting their communication styles in ways that create enduring working alliances.

DiSC® Behavioral Inventory
Your staff and board are smart – but how smart are they about themselves and how their behaviors are perceived by others? If they could benefit from an eye-opening, non-judgmental discussion about who they are and how they can change improve their communication, understanding and tolerance, then DiSC is for them. The DiSC© Profile is a nonjudgmental, self-response tool for understanding behavioral types and styles, and is considered one of the most scientifically validated and reliable assessment tools in the world. Applied in organizational and interpersonal situations, the DiSC® Behavioral Inventory can lead to invaluable professional and personal insights. DiSC® is used for personal growth and development, training, coaching and managing of individuals, groups, teams, and organizations.

Emotional Intelligence
Emotions play a critical role in all of our relationships, and managers who understand how to read and use them effectively have an advantage. Even when business is done in a rational, logical manner, it requires the buy-in from human beings who operate on an emotional basis as well. This session offers a provocative and practical look at emotions in interpersonal work situations and how they can be used as a tool for leadership.

Generations in the Workforce
Age diversity is nothing new, but recently the workplace has been influenced by demographic and social changes that mean we are now working with more generations than ever before. As older workers delay retiring and younger workers are entering the workforce, younger bosses managing older workers. Furthermore, the threat of institutional and procedural knowledge loss that comes with an aging workforce looms large. Leaders need to develop an understanding of the different generational perspectives to improve teamwork, communicate more effectively, andeliminate subconscious stereotyping. This session offers insights into the characteristics, motivators and expectations of each of the generations, and helps in developing strategies to promote workplace cohesiveness and achieve intergenerational collaboration.

Getting the Most from Your Key Professional and Volunteer Contributors
You’re managing staff and volunteers on a variety of tasks, and you’re wondering: Why isn’t this getting done right? Maybe it’s because you haven’t asked four key questions: Do they currently have the knowledge they need to achieve it? Previous experience in having done something like it? The confidence to do it? Motivation to stick with it? Your approach to recognizing and removing barriers to performance will depend a lot on the answers to these four questions. However, if you ignore the diverse needs of the people you manage, there is a greater chance that professional and volunteer contributors will waste energy moving in the wrong direction, get frustrated with a lack of success, or just disengage from a project or team. This session gives Professionals a user-friendly, comprehensive framework and toolkit to kick-start or complement your existing management approach to identify existing levels of willingness and ability, and lead staff, volunteers, and the organization to success!

Lay-Pro Relations
Lay-Pro Partnerships without the Tsuris
When your Professionals, Board Members or Lay Leaders hear the term “Lay-Pro Relations”, do they get a warm, fuzzy feeling – or a knot in their stomachs? If you identified with the latter, then this session is for your organization. Effective, respectful and fulfilling Lay-Pro partnerships are the hallmark of successful Jewish organizations. To articulate a clear and common understanding of where the organization is going and how it will get there, both professional and lay partners need to develop and exhibit key collaboration skills and shared expectations. This interactive session will provide a framework for fostering relationships built from cooperation, joint planning and implementation, effective communication and shared personal and Jewish values.

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The Meaning of Leadership; Leading with Meaning
If you search for “Leadership Books” at, and you’ll have more than 18,600 titles to choose from. If you were to write your own book about leadership to compete with – or complement – the masses, what would be in it? What traits, behaviors and Jewish value would you include in your discussion? Are you currently modeling your own definition of leadership – or someone else’s? In this session, lay leaders and board members will explore various leadership theories from business, organizational psychology, and social
science, while building their own personal and communal leadership model and action plan.

Maximizing your Strengths as a Manager
The strengths of a manager can be a terrific benefit for the people who work for them. And of course, their limitations can trickle down to create frustration, confusion or even paralysis for those they manage. Because they have this effect on others, managers have a responsibility to know themselves. This session give Professionals with supervisory responsibilities a safe, fun way to understand and organize the strengths and challenges that they bring to the table. They gain a greater appreciation for the impact that their behavior has on others, and they discover how their personal style is read and filtered by difference co-workers, and even lay leaders. As a result, participants learn to maximize their strengths, both making themselves and the people they manage more effective in the process.

Deborah’s session on meeting management was lauded by Gary Rosenblatt in the New York Jewish Week! Click here to read the full article!

Successful Meetings without the Tsuris
More schmoozing than strategic thinking? More opinions than outcomes? More food than facilitation? It must be a Jewish meeting! Every time you hold a meeting for Professionals, Lay Leaders, or Board Members, you have an opportunity to re-engage participants in the vital work of the organization, plan and accomplish mission-critical tasks, build ownership, retain talented professional and volunteer leadership, reinforce supportive personal and professional relationships, and demonstrate that this organization knows how to get things done. How many of these opportunities are you missing? If your meetings are unproductive, unfocused or unpopular – this session is for you. Participants will learn how to consistently meet the 3 criteria for productive meetings, how to build an outcome-based agenda that drives the entire meeting, how to use the meeting to reinforce Jewish values, and 8 other miraculous meeting makeovers.

Mini-MBA for Busy Jewish Professionals
What does the Harvard Business Review have to do with working in a Jewish organization? More than you know! If you’re too busy with daily work to keep up with the business of ongoing professional development, then this session is for you. With four key goals – Get to Know Yourself, Get Along Better with Others, Get a New Perspective and Get More Done – you will learn what the world’s leading thinkers in supervision, interpersonal communication, time management and self-awareness can teach us as Jewish professionals, leaders, and human beings. Using lessons from authors such as Chip and Dan Heath, Daniel Pink, Suzy Welch, Susan Scott, Dan Ariely, and more, you’ll leave this session with a mini-MBA that yields maximum results. Each Mini-MBA course is completely customized to meet the goals of your particular organization and group of professionals.  

Moo Shu with a Schmear: Adventures of a New York Jew Living and Working in China
When Deborah Grayson Riegel, a professional coach and speaker, was invited to become a Visiting Professor of Executive Communications for the MBA program at Peking University in Beijing, China, she didn’t realize how challenging it would be to live a Jewish life among more than a billion non-Jews. From figuring out how to avoid eating bugs, dog and donkey (harder than you might think,) to explaining to her students what a Jew is and what a Jew does, to finding a Shabbat minyan where you stand and “face west” towards Jerusalem, Deborah’s humorous and touching adventures abroad paint a powerful portrait of what it’s like to live a life of Jewish choices – even when those choices are hard to find or challenging to make. Deborah artfully weaves in the case for Jewish connection – whether it’s for fundraising, volunteer or leadership development -- while she talks about living Jewish values, honoring Jewish identify and creating community halfway around the world.

Myers Briggs
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is based on the work of Carl Jung and Isabelle and Katherine Briggs. This nonjudgmental instrument helps individuals and teams understand themselves and others in context of improving relationships and tasks execution. MBTI provides an indication of preferences. In this highly interactive session, participants wil complete a 95-question instrument and identify a four-letter MBTI type and will increase their awareness of how their preferences and other' preferences influence their daily behaviors and improve areas of conducting meetings effectively, resolving conflicts, reducing stress levels, making better decisions and increasing communication effectiveness.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Negotiation and conflict resolution are integral parts of daily life and working with people. In order to maximize your chances of getting and keeping the support of others (especially when others may have different agendas than yours) you need to strengthen your skills in addressing issues before they affect performance or damage a relationship --whether the problems are within the team or with clients, customers, and stakeholders. This session covers the foundations of negotiation, negotiation strategy including planning and framing, how to recognize and prepare for the phases of a negotiation, and how cultural differences are increasingly playing a role. Another aspect of working with people is how to deal with the inevitable conflicts that may arise. Leaders are called upon to resolve conflicts, not only within their teams but also with other stakeholders. This session will also cover constructive and destructive conflicts, discover ways to get to the root cause of a conflict, and ensure long term resolution and healthy relationships.

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Performance Management, Feedback and Coaching for Supervisors
Performance Management without the Tsuris
Professional talent is tough to retain in Jewish organizations – do your managers have the skills they need to keep their direct reports interested, challenged, developed, rewarded, and recognized? In this session, Professional Staff with supervisory responsibilities will learn to establish performance goals, design performance plans, give (and receive) constructive and positive feedback, prevent and manage performance issues, coach for performance improvement – and get their own work done, too!

Public Speaking
Public Speaking without the Tsuris
You speak volumes – even before you’ve said a single word. From the way you use your hands, eyes and mouth to the way you give pause, pace and pitch to your voice, you are constantly broadcasting how you really feel – as well as how your audience should feel about you and your organization. How confident are you about the messages you’re sending? This session prepares Professionals and Board Members who publically represent their organizations – at meetings, major events, or to the media -- to manage their anxiety, their delivery and the audience while delivering a compelling and memorable message about the organization.

Volunteers and Lay Leaders play a vital role in the Jewish organization as hands-on workers, donors and as organizational decision makers. My Jewish Coach’s Volunteer and Lay Leadership training provides benefits to both the individual and the organization; volunteers emerge from training with new knowledge, skills and behaviors that allow them to have greater positive impact on the organization and the community. In addition, volunteer development offers each participant a chance to develop their enthusiasm for and commitment to the organization’s mission, vision and goals.

Sales Skills and Stewardship for Powerful Donor Development
In a Jewish organization, it’s easy to forget how much diversity there is! While our donors may be (primarily) Jewish, they still have vastly different preferences in how they like to be approached, be asked to give, have their concerns addressed, be recognized, and be stewarded. Too often, we get so busy with the overwhelming task of fundraising and donor development that we rely too much on a single, well-worn approach. This session reminds Professionals, Board Members and other fundraising Lay Leaders how different our donors truly are. Participants learn to read the “buying” needs of different people, and adjust the development conversation accordingly. They gain insights into why certain prospects and donors are difficult for them to work with, and practice better ways to respond in those situations.

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Solicitation Skills
Soliciting without the Tsuris
Fundraising Guru Bill Sturtevant writes that “the gift is tangible evidence of an emotional event”. But if the primary emotions that your professional, board and lay fundraisers evoke from donors, prospects and themselves are fear and resentment, the gifts will reflect those feelings. No one who is raising money on behalf of your Jewish organization should feel – or act-- like fundraising is a chore; it can be, in fact, be an overwhelmingly positive and potentially life-altering experience for both the donor and solicitor. This session gives participants the knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation they need to raise money and lower anxiety for both themselves and donors.

Strategic Storytelling to Recruit and Inspire Donors and Volunteers
Stories are a rich part of our Jewish tradition – personally and organizationally – and are an adaptable, universal, and economical resource. Stories support Jewish organizational fundraising, marketing, branding and community building. And when it comes to finding deep, powerful, mission-driven stories, Jewish organizations have the corporate world beat! When it comes to telling these stories strategically, however, Jewish professionals and volunteers struggle with the same issues as those in the corporate world – how to cull the key points you need to make an impact, how to balance facts and emotion, and how to incorporate the critical call-to-action. In this session for Professionals, Lay Leaders, and Board Members, participants will learn the key elements of an effective story, how to link stories to organizational values, mission and vision, and how to design and deliver their stories using 5 key steps that yield results.

Team Effectiveness Series
Our professional and lay teams rely on both individual and group talent. Each person needs to know how to let their strengths shine, while the group need to know how to work as a unit. Team differences are inevitable, and sometimes those differences are easily accepted, laughed about and may even complement each other. But too frequently teams find those differences can also cause confusion, stagnation or frustration. Only when people have a framework to make sense of those differences can they learn what to expect from others and the best way to get what the team needs. In these sessions, Professionals, Board Members and Lay Leaders who work in teams or committees will learn to address three of the most common challenges that teams face: motivation, conflict and communication. Participants learn simple, intuitive ways to make lasting improvements in a team’s effectiveness.

Time Management and Personal Effectiveness
With an ever-increasing range of people, projects and technologies competing for our attention, every single one of us needs to manage our personal effectiveness in order to get anything done successfully. This session offers an opportunity to reflect on your deepest beliefs and values that support or undermine your personal effectiveness, and tolearn how to develop a plan to maximize your own potential through an understanding of Steven Covey's Time Management Matrix.

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“Talk about a seamless, engaging presentation! Deborah led a session on effective professional networking for a community freelancers group. For an hour and a half, the group was riveted, not only because of Deborah's skill, presence, and delivery, but largely due to the useful information and techniques she shared...and that the group practiced during the session. Deborah built on what people understand about networking (and don't understand or effectively practice) to involve them in activities and learning that left them with hands-on skills to build and improve their professional networks and interactions. Deborah inserts her personal experiences in a humble way; she underscores that all of us have human flaws and vulnerabilities that we can either overcome or work to our advantage. Most important is that she demonstrated a love for her craft...a selling component that all freelancers should keep in mind when pitching their services. Deborah is a terrific trainer, presenter, and speaker!”  
-- Michele Israel, Founder and director of Educational Consulting Group/Michele Israel Educational Writing & Consulting