Dr. Madelyn Blair: Speaker, Author, Executive advisor & Founder, Pelerei


My NativeAdVert:

For the past 30 years, Madelyn Blair works with her executive clients to help them achieve their dreams for their business, their staff, or themselves. Meeting today’s complex challenges with ease calls upon resilience. Her approach of using narrative, resilience practices, and deepening knowledge builds a strong, sustainable foundation. Dr. Blair speaks throughout the world on unlocking resilience.  She has done leading work in the use of story for the last 20 years. Among her positions, Dr. Blair is faculty at Columbia University and blogs on Psychology Today on the topic of Resilient leadership.

My Goal of the Day:

My daily goal is to stay ‘in practice.’ Practice for me is sitting in silence for 5 minutes, reflecting on who I am, posing a question for the day, and last, but not least, deciding on the most important thing I should do for the day. That simple set of practices keeps me resilient no matter what is happening around me – and resilience is essential.

My Thought of the Day:

Bring your whole self to the world every day. It is the finest gift you have to offer. It is your best.

My Action of the Day:

It is my job to choose how I will respond to the challenges each day presents. Staying in the practice for resilience prepares me to choose well.

My Tip of the Day: Be generous in all that you do.

My Pic of the Day:


A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I actually live in the country. My view is of grass and trees with mountains in the distance. That said, I actually enjoy cities very much. New York, for example, is filled with energy. You can feel it when you walk down the street. I seem to be able to do more when I’m in NYC. Washington, which is closer to me, is a city best described as beautiful and heavy with history. I get more done when in New York.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I always prefer to eat what makes my body happy. I have found that staying within this boundary has led me to more energy, clearer thinking, and boundless curiosity. If my body craves green vegetables, I eat them. If it feels like it should have meat, I eat meat. If I remain in tune with my body, everything works better – and I always fit my wardrobe!

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM: I’m a person who expends enormous amounts of energy in the day and so I need a lot of sleep. At 6 am, I’m sleeping until 7. Morning exercise? Absolutely. Just before I hit the office.  

10:00 AM: Deep in my first project – usually the one that is the most important for me to do that day.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Lunch is always best in my kitchen – smoked salmon on a slice of gluten free toast. When I travel, it is the meal I miss the most.

7:00 PM - Wrapping up for the day which means cooking dinner. As I love cooking, I usually find this energizing and fun—a great way to end the work day.

11:00 PM – In bed, listening to a podcast until I fall asleep.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

One time when I had a bladder infection, I was told to drink water all day long. It became a habit. The more I drink, the better I feel. The water is room temperature, but when I did some work in China, I learned the secret of drinking hot water right after a meal. Perfection.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

The app I use the most is Clock. As I begin the day, I check my calendar and set alarms at 2 minutes before the time I must move to each event. Being freed from checking the time, I can focus deeply between meetings. It’s amazing what you can get done even in short, intense blocks of time.

What should everyone try at least once?

To listen to someone else for as long as they want to talk. And when I say listen, I mean that in its deepest sense. You are not thinking of your response. You are not judging what they are saying as right or wrong. You are not even thinking about how it fits into what you think. You are just taking in what they are saying. At some point, the other person will acquire a look on their face of genuine appreciation. At that point, you will know that you have listened deeply, and you may have made a new friend.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

My favorite place for ‘getting lost’ is when the words in my mind quiet down and I work in the world of patterns. This can happen when I am reviewing data but especially as I put together a jigsaw puzzle. It is the one activity I can do for hours without ever getting bored. To do it demands that you remove all language and work strictly with shape, color, and image. I think every artist knows this place, too.

Annita Perez Sawyer: Author, Psychologist & Faculty Member at Yale Medical School


My NativeAdVert:

Annita Perez Sawyer is the author of the memoir Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass, winner of the 2013 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Program Nonfiction Grand Prize. A psychologist in practice for over thirty years, she is a member of the clinical faculty at Yale Medical School. Her work has appeared in both professional and literary journals, where her essays have won prizes and twice been included among the Notables in the Best American Essays series.

Annita spent most of her adolescence in psychiatric hospitals. First admitted in 1960, at seventeen, she endured 89 electroshock treatments, based on a faulty diagnosis, before she was transferred “unimproved.” Eventually, she was assigned to a skilled psychiatrist and gradually recovered. Although shock treatment had erased almost all of her early memory, and stigma compelled her to hide her past, five years after being discharged from the hospital, Annita graduated Summa Cum Laude in Yale’s first undergraduate class to include women. She earned a PhD from Yale in 1981. 

Decades later, after having established a successful psychology practice, but still frustrated by her lack of early memories, Annita sent for her hospital records. Reading them prompted recall of of those lost early years—all the sensations from her disconnected past poured out as terrifying flashbacks. Re-traumatized, she sank into despair, in a process she had helped her own patients manage, but could not control in herself. Again, with skilled help, she recovered. She knew she had to share what she’d learned, so she became a writer. Faculty and students from outstanding writers' conferences, generous artists at prestigious residencies, talented friends around the country, and members of a dedicated local writers' group became her literary mentors.

Annita speaks to clinical audiences around the country. Seeking to diminish the stigma of mental illness, she presents her story as both a cautionary tale and inspiration. In talks, essays,  stories, and a blog in Psychology Today she considers lifetime consequences of childhood trauma, harmful effects of fads in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, the enduring impact of stigma and shame, and the power of human connection to heal.

My Goal of the Day: To be myself; to act with integrity.

My Thought of the Day: People actually care what I think; they want to hear what I have to say. Imagine that!

My Action of the Day: Although my schedule doesn’t always allow it, I try to walk for at least a half hour every day. It gives me a chance to stride and feel tall, to reflect on my life and ideas and hopes and dreams.

My Deed of the Day: Because of my book, and sometimes my talk or my papers, graduate students or young clinicians contact me. They need to share struggles with demons from a psychiatric past that they are required to keep secret in their present situation. I feel honored to be trusted and eager to offer comfort—just knowing someone else understands can make the unbearable tolerable. So we converse by email.

My Tip of the Day: Never underestimate the power of a kind word or a smile to touch another soul. Never forget how we as humans hunger for basic respect.

 My Pic of the Day: (any additional pic that expresses something special)

This was my first book launch. It took place at the Harvard Faculty Club, hosted by my best friend from high school


A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I love many things about Northampton. I love the architecture, the history, and especially the people—they’re all ages, all types— real individuals who appear friendly and content to be themselves. I love that most side streets are narrow and cars really do stop for people in the zebra striped crosswalks. This keeps the pace manageable and reflects the thoughtful, welcoming atmosphere.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Every morning I start with a large mug of Lapsang Suchong tea and pumpernickel toast topped with roasted red pepper hummus and cottage cheese. We sit in a bright room and watch birds out a large picture window. It’s been close to fifty years, and we’re in our third home, but I haven’t tired of this routine. 

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – I’m begging our geriatric calico cat to please let me sleep a little longer. Sometimes I succeed. More often, she’ll start pacing back and forth across my chest or sit on my pillow—half on my head, half on my pillow— and I’ll give in. I love the morning light, so I don’t really mind.

10:00 AM - I’m in my office, perhaps finishing one psychotherapy appointment, perhaps about to begin another. I love the integrity of my work, focusing as best I can on every detail—paying attention to each individual, every word, every gesture—theirs and mine—listening, working to be open and as clear as I can be about who is me and who is the person I am meeting with. Wonders happen there.

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

For lunch I usually enjoy Greek yogurt topped with walnuts, Fiber 1cereal, and a drizzle of maple syrup. I learned about this from an older friend many years ago, and I’ve savored it ever since. A restaurant? I really like the salads and sandwiches at The Roost on Bridge Street in Northampton.

7:00 PM -  On Tuesdays I’m settling into my seat in the rehearsal space of the Pioneer Valley Orchestra chorus. Before I moved, I was at New Haven Chorale rehearsals at 7:00 on Mondays, and on Wednesdays I would be at my writers group or my clinical study group. I’m still seeking a writers group in Northampton. On other nights, I’m sitting down to dinner with my husband, Will.

11:00 PM - I’m wishing I’d brushed my teeth sooner and was already in bed. Or, I’ve made it into bed, I’ve turned off the light, and I’m finishing the New York Times mini-crossword puzzle on my iPhone—the last act to clear my mind, before I settle down to sleep. If I’m still awake after that, I’ll recite one of my favorite poems until I drift off.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I always look forward to my mug of Lapsang Suchong tea and the time of quiet reflection that goes with the beginning of my day. I often enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner, although it’s not essential. For some reason I can tolerate only a little wine—or any type of alcohol—before I develop strange reactions in my arms and chest. I’ve never understood why. It’s definitely something I want to avoid.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I’m embarrassed to say I know little about Instagram and hardly enough about Apps in general to have a favorite. I do use WAZE for navigating when I drive, and I love it.  A few years ago, when my brother was visiting, he insisted that I have it and installed it on my phone. He was right!

What should everyone try at least once?  Dance your heart out on the grassy lawn of a local farm or a small town common while a lively band plays nearby.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I love exploring my new town, wandering down streets I haven’t traveled before. But I trust that I’ll find my way back to familiar territory before too much time passes. (And I have WAZE on my phone!) Years ago I got lost in dense woods when I was at the MacDowell Colony in winter — I forgot that I was farther north than usual, so darkness fell before I expected. I wasn’t lost long, but it turned from intriguing to scary. I didn’t enjoy it!

Cecilia Dintino: Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Columbia University Medical Center

My NativeAdVert:

Cecilia Dintino is a psychologist and drama therapist in private practice in New York City. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, The Women’s Program, and adjunct faculty with New York University’s Program in Drama Therapy.

Dr. Jessica Pierce: Bioethicist, Author, & Expert on ethical aspects of human-animal interactions

My NativeAdVert:

Hi. My name is Jessica Pierce and I’m a writer and bioethicist. My work explores a broad range of ethical issues in biology, medicine, and human-animal relations. I’ve written ten books, including The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives and Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets.

Kira Willey: Award-winning children’s music artist, kids’ yoga & mindfulness expert, speaker, & Creator, Rockin’ Yoga school programs

My NativeAdVert:

Kira Willey is an award-winning children’s music artist, kids’ yoga & mindfulness expert, speaker, and creator of Rockin’ Yoga school programs. Kira’s four releases of yoga albums for kids have all won numerous industry awards and earned national acclaim

Herman Aguinis: Avram Tucker Distinguished Scholar & Professor of Management, The George Washington University School of Business

Herman Aguinis is the Avram Tucker Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Management at The George Washington University School of Business. His research, teaching, and consulting address how to acquire and deploy talent in organizations.