Newsflash

Professional Mediator Talks about Art of Arbitration

Wondering how to peacefully resolve a family dispute without taking siblings to court? Need help deciding how to handle the affairs of an elderly relative? Looking for a way to end a marriage amicably without  sacrificing the value of joint assets? Barbara Sunderland Manousso, Ph.D., will tell you that arbitration and mediation are effective ways to bring all parties together for a civilized, problem-solving discussion. 

While divorce cases make up about half her business at Manousso Mediation and Arbitration, LLC  in the Galleria area, Manousso is also well-versed in elder care cases and other family issues. 
 
Mediating and arbitrating a dispute is a timely, quick and cost-effective solution –– a mere fraction of what a lawyer would charge, she said. In divorce cases, there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees when those resources can be re-invested in the family’s future needs, such as college tuition, or “something that’s going to enhance the family –– not crush and destroy,” she said. 
 
“We teach people communication skills, and we keep them communicating,” she said. “If there are children involved, they’re going to be in each others’ lives forever. They don’t need to be confrontational; they need to look at the divorce as a business arrangement.” 
 
Successful mediation culminates in drafting a memorandum of understanding that carries the full weight of a legally binding contract and can be enforced in a court of law if parties default, Manousso said.
 
Before she entered the field of conflict resolution here in Houston, Manousso was already a successful businesswoman. In her native Rhode Island, she managed her own cosmetics company, modeling agency and finishing school, and she had been a television personality on a syndicated game show, Dialing for Dollars.
 
When she came to Houston in the early 1970s, she was involved in fundraising activities, working to build up the Houston Area Parkinsonism Society as its executive director. She also worked to raise nearly $2 million for HIV-AIDS charities, such as The Montrose Clinic,  during a time when a lot of large corporations avoided association with AIDS charities.
 
After these successes, Manousso, who already had an undergraduate degree in semiotics from Brown University, and a master’s degree in public health from The University of Texas, began studying at South Texas College of Law. Soon, mediation and arbitration seemed to her to be a much more equitable and cost-effective process than the legal system, she said, and she changed her career path. 
 
Now she’s passing her expertise along to thousands of students through mediation and arbitration classes. Students ranging from 18 to 82 have come from all over the world — the United Kingdom, Lebanon, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Canada –– to receive this training.
 
Certification requires 40 hours of training initially, plus 15 additional hours every year. Add an additional 30 hours to specialize in family mediation, and another 20 for working with cases involving seniors. 
 
Mediation and arbitration skills are excellent resume boosters, Manousso said, and the skills are a complement to any career. Being a good listener, organization skills and projecting a professional demeanor that commands your clients’ confidence are part of the package a well-trained mediator/arbitrator can apply to any field. 
 
People sometimes take mediation training after their job search in other industries has not been fruitful, or they think they want a career change, Manousso said. Often, after they’ve completed their training, human resources personnel from those industries will come back and seek them out. 
 
“I can’t think of any major company in Houston that hasn’t had its staff come to us for mediation training,” she said. “Every government agency has also sent staff.” 
 
Currently, Manousso serves as the chair for Education, Research and Training for the                      International Association for Conflict Resolution, the umbrella for all dispute resolution organizations. She has also been the Texas Mediators Trainers Roundtable chair for training other mediation trainers across the state for a number of years.
 
Currently, she is president of Houston Geritological Society and has been a state commissioner for Texas nursing homes for eight years. 
 
Manousso’s doctoral degree is in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University, one of only two universities offering a doctorate in that discipline. 
 
 

Coloring Books for Adults

There is something  delightfully nostalgic about opening up a coloring book and willing yourself to stay inside the lines as you fill in blank spaces with bright color, just as you did in kindergarten. And it’s likely your kindergarten teacher knew this activity could calm boisterous five-year-olds, forcing them to focus quietly for several minutes.

Rediscovering that calming, stress-reducing, repetitive motion has led to an explosive  resurgence in coloring books for grownups in the past three years. If you’ve been to any book, craft or hobby store lately, you probably have come face-to-face with this hot trend ––maybe on even the “impulse buy” rack of your supermarket.
 
Today, adults who want to tap back into a favorite childhood pastime can choose from Buddhist mandalas, Mehndi designs from the East, Japanese kimonos, Art Nouveau designs, paisleys, geometrics, international cityscapes, florals, butterflies, fairies, mermaids, unicorns, birds, sea creatures, religious images, Native American symbols and Day of the Dead tableaus. Dover, one of the leading publishers of coloring books of all kinds, lists 163 different titles for adult coloring books on its website, in addition to another 229 for children.

A July 2015 article in The New Yorker called the coloring book trend just the tip of the iceberg in a larger, escapist “Peter Pan” syndrome sweeping the country. However, some coloring books cover very adult themes such as a guide to sexual positions and one irreverent title called Calm the F__ Down by Sasha O'Hara, which encourages grown-ups to “color the things you can’t say.” 
 
A lot of grownups are certainly buying the idea. The Nielsen Book Scan reported 571 million paper copies of books were sold in 2015, compared to 559 million the year before. While a leap of 16 million books seems like a big victory for print publishers in a digital world, industry experts attribute a large part of that increase to the rise of adult coloring books. 
 
Five of Amazon’s top 20 best-selling books of 2015 were coloring books for grownups. The biggest seller in this genre came from a Scottish textile designer named Johanna Basford. Her Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt, ranked number four on the list, two places higher than the late Harper Lee’s  Go Set a Watchman, the controversial sequel to her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. 
 
Basford now has sold more than 10 million copies of Secret Garden in 40 foreign editions –three million copies in China alone. With three other titles now on the market, she is widely recognized as the artist who, in 2013, opened the door for the latest wave of adult coloring titles, with many other artists rushing to cash in.
 
Even though they are hot sellers right now, these books are hardly new, having been around since the 1960s. 
 
The Anatomy Coloring Book by Wynn Kapit and Lawrence Elson, first premiered in 1977, and continues to be a bestseller among high school biology and college pre-med students nearly 40 years later. 
 
Elissa Davis, director of customer service and retail sales for the Jung Center in Houston, says that institution has carried adult coloring books in its bookstore for decades –– primarily mandalas for meditation, but current demand has prompted them to expand their                 offerings. 
 
Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung was a big believer in the power of expressive and creative arts, and he also did a lot of work with painting mandalas –– an intricate spiritual and ritual symbol in Eastern religions. Those spiraling symbols lend themselves well to coloring book designs, Davis said. 
 
“Creative activities allow the brain to work on its problems while the hands are busy,” Davis said. People who were told as children that they had no artistic talent are rediscovering there is a value to creative pursuits, and coloring books may serve that purpose, she added. 
“They absolutely force a person to slow down and focus on what’s directly in front of them,” she added. 
 
That impetus to focus may explain why some therapists offer coloring pages to help Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients. The calming effect of the coloring process is one of  many reasons people have taken to this new art form –– even if working on a computer all day has already given them carpal tunnel syndrome. 
 
Judy Reagan Hughes, a funeral director with the SCI Corporation, finds stress relief in her paisley patterned book.
 
“I concentrate on coloring each paisley differently, and it helps me forget about work or other things,” she said. “It clears my mind and the time flies.”
 
Hughes was so taken with her book that she decided a small box of colored pencils wasn’t enough. So, she bought herself a new set of 152 crayons. 
 
The Crayola company has taken note of the trend and introduced its own line of adult coloring books, along with pencils and fine-tipped markers to fill in intricate spaces. Another company, Painterly Days, offers books printed on watercolor paper for those interested in that medium. 
 
One small coloring book can often lead to larger investments in supplies, as Raequel Roberts learned. The communications manager at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston said she hoped $50 worth of new pencils would improve her coloring skills. 
 
“The books are certainly much harder than the books of my youth,” Roberts said. “Of course, my expectations of perfection are much higher, too.”
 
Roberts said striving to be perfect doesn’t add to the stress at all. Instead, she said, “It’s really fun and totally mindless.”
 
Deborah Quinn Hensel is a freelance journalist and a staff reporter for Houston Woman Magazine.

Optimize Your Brand Thru Impression Management

While we never have a second chance to make a first impression, there may be some solutions for turning things around if we’re dissatisfied with the way others perceive us.  

Impressions people form  depends more on our behavior than our true personality.  Anyone’s perception is their reality.

However, there are valid techniques to help us clarify our true intentions.  Impression Management is a process by which people might alter the perceptions others hold of them. When used for ethical purposes, Impression Management can stretch us to new heights.  
 
There are three general types of impression management: authentic, ideal and tactical.
 
The Authentic Method is used when an individual desires to present himself in a manner in which he sees himself.
 
The Ideal Method is used to present an image of how one wants others to see him. An image makeover falls into this category. 
 
The Tactical Method is used when an individual desires to present the most popular image. (An example is political “spin.”)
 
The way our brains function when we form impressions is complex. Noted psychologist Dr. Robert Weinberger explains, “All four lobes join forces to contribute in generating signals through our senses. The occipital contributes its visual cues, the temporal stored memories, the frontal past and ongoing experiences and the parietal an integration of them all. And,  even these do not take into account the almost reptilian olfactory forces that are difficult to qualify, yet  instinctively and powerfully guide our first impressions without thought. Who among us has not formed an immediate impression based on a foul odor or the               sensual allure of Shalimar? The substrates of first impressions, even among the youngest and most naïve human creatures, are wonders of neural achievement.”
 
We move in a fast-paced world.  Few get to see the accolades and diplomas on our walls or the philanthropic work we do in our community. Consider Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. The main subject of his book is thin-slicing, our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. The idea is that spontaneous decisions are often as good as — or even better than — carefully planned and considered ones. Gladwell gives a wide range of examples of thin-slicing — in gambling, speed dating, tennis, military war games, the movies, malpractice suits and predicting divorce.
 
Your environment also speaks volumes. Local interior designer Susan White said, “Businesses employing a traditional color scheme of rich jewel tones such as navy, burgundy and deep green appeal to the upper class and suggest stability and capability.”  
 
If your office or storefront has not been updated in over 10 years, impressions formed there, rightly or wrongly, may be that your goods and services are outdated and possibly inferior. 
Objectively assess your image and brand. Image changes with trends and style. Branding represents the values of a business, the lasting impression or legacy important to its mission. Elements of each are intrinsic to the other.  Both must be clear, consistent and current.
 
Below are crucial behaviors in building a personal/corporate image and brand:
 
• Dress as well as you can possibly afford. High-end clothing can be found in resale shops and outlets.
• Be gracious, positive and generous. Express gratitude.  Give to others and to your community.
• In social media, offer rich content and compelling updates.
• In your emails, use a simple 10-12 point font in blue or black, and a complete signature with contact info is essential.
• Responses to correspondence should be made promptly via same medium (texts with texts, calls with calls, etc.) and with correct grammar.
• Keep appointments.
• Stop behaviors that may be annoying, such as talking loudly, smacking lips, self-promoting,                  interrupting, smoking, etc.
 
Michael W. Kraus, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, co-authored a study of 128 men ages 18 to 32 with diverse backgrounds and income levels. Results published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology show that clothing with high social status can increase job performance and dominance in “high stakes” competitive tasks. Results of a 2015 study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, suggested people engage in higher levels of abstract thinking when they dress up, compared with when they dress casually. 
 
Are you getting the reactions, sales or promotions you want?  If not, consider consulting with a professional image consultant. He or she can be pivotal in unlocking answers, tweaking behavior and restoring the comfort level in your own skin.  
 
Helen Sage Perry has been a professional corporate and personal image consultant in Houston for the past 15 years. (www.helen-perry.com)
 
 
 
 

7 Ways to Participate in #GivingTuesday

After a frenzied shopping weekend featuring tons of doorbusters and a few brawls, it's easy to feel a little disenfranchised with the holidays. This season is supposed to be about giving, and yet slogans like "Thanks-getting" and advertisements featuring starry-eyed kids with endless gifts under the tree convey an entirely separate sentiment.

To get back to the true spirit of the season, today's #GivingTuesday reminds consumers to look beyond themselves and give to someone in need. Consider these seven ways to give back today (and beyond), and consider making it a part of your holiday tradition.

Have your children donate toys.
To cultivate charitable giving within your kids this season, start a tradition where your children select one (or more) toys from their current collection to donate to a child in need. Research local organizations accepting gently-used toys and schedule a time to accompany your child to the donation site. Allowing your child to experience charitable giving first-hand will help him or her understand the good feeling it produces.

Participate in a fundraising activity.
Many community events including 5K runs often benefit a local charity and represent a fun way to spend time with family and friends. Head to your city's website or Facebook page for details on upcoming activities and determine what makes the most sense for your family. A brisk run before Christmas dinner that benefits the local food bank, for example, offers a healthy activity for your kids as well as an opportunity to help others.

Pick up extra groceries for the local food bank.
As you shop for holiday meals this season, consider picking up a few extra items to donate to your local food bank. Some grocery stores even have bags of food for purchase, which they donate on your behalf. The annual Grab 'n Giveevent from Sprouts Farmers Markets, for example, discounts bags of food by 10% and donates them to local food banks in their communities.

Get vaccinated.
Still need to get your flu shot? You can vaccinate yourself against this common holiday illness and give back at the same time. Through Dec. 1, vaccines administered at Walgreens will result in two vaccines for children in need through theUN Foundation's ShotLife Campaign.

Volunteer your time.
There are several opportunities to donate your time, whether it's an afternoon visiting with residents at a local nursing home or serving at your neighborhood soup kitchen. These activities are popular during the holiday season, so call ahead to determine availability. You can also check out VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteer opportunities based on your interests.

Shop with stores that give back.
You can make a difference as you shop this holiday season by purchasing from stores that give back (and save a little money, too). TOMS Shoes is a popular brand that donates a pair of shoes, glasses or other items and services to someone in need for every purchase, and also has coupon codes for savings at CouponSherpa.com. At JCPenney, for every pair of fingerless striped gloves purchased through Dec. 24, $2 will go toward the JCPenney Cares non-profit organization which supports after-school enrichment opportunities for children. You can also use Amazon Smile to donate a portion of the cost of your purchase to a charity of your choice.

Gift donations.
If you're struggling to find the perfect gift for people on your list, consider donating to a charity on their behalf. You likely know what causes are important to them, plus many non-profit organizations also provide a tax write-off. For a list of trustworthy charities by cause, check out GiveWell.org. Kiva offers a unique twist of gifting donations with its Kiva Card, which gives recipients an opportunity to provide a loan to someone who inspires them. The funds are then repaid as the recipient works off the loan, and the money can be loaned again to someone else. 

Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice.  As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more.

Women on the Move Awards to be presented

For the 30th time, Texas Executive Women will present its annual Women on the Move® Awards  at a luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar St. The big event benefits Texas Executive Women’s mentoring and scholarship programs for high school girls.

This year’s Women on the Move honorees include the following outstanding business women: Nory Angel, Christina Morales Berger, Victoria Bryant, Melanie Brown, Jane Cummins, Gina Gaston Elie, Julie Hardin, Jonia Wallace Reynolds, Gayle Slaughter, Cheryl Lyn Walker. Receiving TEW’s 2015 Rising Star Award will also be presented. This time to E. Nicole Baldwin. 
 
Nory Angel is the executive director and CEO, SER Jobs for Progress. SER Jobs for Progress is a non-profit organization that provides education, training, employment and empowerment services to those in need. 
 
Christina Morales Berger is president and CEO of the Morales Memorial Foundation. She has carried her family’s tradition of driving progress in Houston’s East End by continuously overcoming obstacles and giving back to the community. Berger took the reins of the Felix H. Morales Funeral Home family business in 1993.
 
Melanie Brown, head of the Technology Operations Strategic Execution Office at CenterPoint Energy, oversees annual strategic planning and initiative operationalization, and special projects with a $110 million portfolio. Brown also is an author and public speaker who empowers business leaders and organizations to succeed.
 
Victoria Bryant is president of Ambassadors Caregivers. Her ambition is to make a difference and leave a legacy. She provides professional caregiver services to seniors, the disabled and anyone who needs an extra hand.  
 
Jane Cummins is the executive director of Educational Programs, Inspiring Communities dba The HEART Program. Because of her work, she was appointed by Houston’s Mayor and City Council to serve as commissioner on the Houston Commission on Disabilities. She also currently serves as president of the Texas Lyceum.
 
Gina Gaston-Elie is a news anchor at KTRK-TV, ABC 13. She enjoys sharing news stories that inspire viewers and giving them information to make better decisions, big and small, and grow as a human being. 
 
Julie Hardin is a partner at Reed Smith LLP. She is a graduate of Leadership Houston and serves on the board of directors of Girls Inc. of Greater Houston and The Women’s Resource, and on the Advisory Council for Dress for Success Houston. 
 
Jonita Wallace Reynolds is the CEO of Gulf Coast Community Services Association, Inc. GCCSA’s programs and services are designed to educate, equip and empower the un-served in Harris County. Reynolds is a public speaker and true servant-leader who awakens daily with the desire to personify Gandhi’s profound words, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” 
 
Gayle Slaughter, senior associate dean for Graduate Education and Diversity at Baylor College of Medicine, is dedicated to improving the quality of life through training the next generation of scientists and physician scientists. She currently directs several programs that help transform curricula at three Houston universities.
Cheryl Lyn Walker is the Welsh Chair, professor and director of Texas A&M Health Science Center, Institute of Biosciences & Technology. She is an active researcher, conducting cutting-edge research on how the genes individuals inherit, and exposures to chemicals in the environment, determine risk for diseases such as cancer. 
 
Rising Star E. Nicole Baldwin is the founder and CEO of Biao Skincare and a U.S. Army veteran. She is a burn victim and survivor who has used her own skincare line to virtually eliminate physical scars from her face and body. She formulated her safe and effective beauty and skincare line to address the unique complexion needs of women of all ages and races.
 
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this year’s class and we are looking forward to the awards luncheon with great anticipation,” said Friederike “Rike” Hass, executive director of  Texas Executive Women. “Women on the Move® is an opportunity to be inspired by the achievements of great women and also raise college scholarship funds for the next generation of great leaders.”
 
Sallie Sargent, president and CEO of the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee, will be the featured speaker at the Woman on the Move Luncheon. Sargen, a 28-year veteran in sports marketing and event management, has a resume that includes All-Star games, college bowl games, Republican and Democratic conventions and a variety of other events.
 
The 2015 Women on the Move Award Luncheon is underwritten (to date) by: Platinum Sponsor H-E-B; Gold Sponsors Sofia Adrogue/Gray Reed & McGraw, PC/Kelli Cohen Fein/Caroline Baker Hurley/S. Shawn Stephens and Y. Ping Sun; and Silver Sponsors Ambassadors Caregivers, ConocoPhillips, MDS, Inc., Debra Ibarra Mayfield, Nancy Hall, Shira Yoshor, KPRC-TV, Melanie Gray/Winston & Strawn LLP, and Susan Soussan/ Elizabeth Ray/Katie Kennedy. In-kind sponsors (to date) include Barfield Photography and Lisa Malosky Productions. Media partner is Houston Woman Magazine.
 
For more information about purchasing tickets and/or sponsorships, visit www.TexasExecutiveWomen.org/. 
 
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