Press Release for Immediate Distribution

Dr. Sydney Ceruto accepted into Forbes Coaches Council

Forbes Coaches Council Is an Invitation-Only Community for Leading Business and Career Coaches

New York Feb 11, 2019 — Dr. Sydney Ceruto Founder & CEO of NYC MindLAB, LLC, has been accepted into Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.

Dr. Ceruto was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of her experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honors. 

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Ceruto into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Coaches Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”

As an accepted member of the Council, Dr. Ceruto has access to a variety of exclusive opportunities designed to help her reach peak professional influence. She will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum. Dr. Ceruto will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share her expert insights in original business articles on, and to contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts. 

Finally, Dr. Sydney Ceruto will benefit from exclusive access to vetted business service partners, membership-branded marketing collateral, and the high-touch support of the Forbes Councils member concierge team. 

“I am thrilled to be part of the Forbes Coaches Council. I feel this is an extraordinary opportunity to share my extensive knowledge of Neuro Coaching and help share the myriad benefits of what I believe to be a huge differentiator in how we coach our clients.” said Dr. Sydney Ceruto.


Forbes Councils is a collective of invitation-only communities created in partnership with Forbes and the expert community builders who founded Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). In Forbes Councils, exceptional business owners and leaders come together with the people and resources that can help them thrive.

Published Forbes Articles


Relaxing Before Conversing

I can’t emphasize this enough: Your mood when you enter into a conversation defines how successful it will or will not be.

Many of my clients struggle with this quite a bit. But after they see me and learn how to enter into a heated discussion properly, they have reported back to me how being relaxed and calm at the start made it much easier to be patient, open-minded and empathetic. Relaxing their body seems to take their brain as far from the fight-or-flight response as possible, thus they are freer to focus on the other person in the conversation instead of themselves. This has saved them from countless arguments with their partners, family members, co-workers and bosses.

Focusing on what the other person is saying rather than preparing an immediate response, although difficult (even for me at times), is what is needed to quell fights and save you from ensuing regrets. That’s something many of my patients struggle with, but “setting yourself up” in a calm, steady head-space helps stop you from shifting into response-preparation mode. See, when you relax your body, your mind often follows. For example, if I’m nervous or angry, but consciously breathe deeply and evenly, the nerves and ire lessen as my body calms down. I don’t let my emotional brain take over, instead, I press pause, and let the logical, reasoning parts of my brain do their job.

One thing I teach all my clients is to try to relax and regulate their breathing when they get upset and feel like tempers are beginning to flare. More than any other emotion, anger triggers the amygdala. When a person is impacted by anger, their communication style often changes drastically. The logical, pragmatic part of our brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hypothalamus (the emotional center of the brain) is basically in control. When those two regions are making the decisions, the outcome is rarely one we don't soon come to regret.

The information being processed from the person we are trying to have a conversation with — our boss, child, cohort or significant other — is filtered through the neural pathways of the amygdala and hypothalamus instead of firing straight through to our PFC. Unfortunately, those two brain regions almost always take precedence over the PFC, in large part because of how our primitive brain is evolutionarily hardwired. This neural network undoubtedly helped our ancestors as they roamed the plains of the savannah hundreds of thousands of years ago, but in today's modern world, it has become much more of a hindrance.

When the amygdala engages, becomes reactive and goes into high alert, it does this without much contemplation of negative outcomes. Because this brain region is not at all involved in the processes of assessing, reasoning or evaluating, the brain actually believes it is in a fight, flight or freeze situation and acts accordingly. Once that happens, all bets are off!

When these two brain regions are triggered, specific neuronal hormones flood into the brain and you experience a burst of energy. This is our body's natural response to a real or perceived threat. Most of the time, this extreme reaction is due to a perceived threat, not an actual threatening event. Because the amygdala does not understand language, it is not easily assuaged. When many people become rapidly enraged, their anger remains unchecked and they may do and say things they later come to regret. This inordinate display of anger can last for several minutes and occasionally up to an hour. It is only when the sensible and rational part of our brain, the cortex, reengages that we begin to see things from quite a different perspective — one that is far more congruous with the actual situation.

In my 90-day total transformation program, I teach my clients many different yet equally efficacious methods for working through anger. Often times, a client may feel angry as a result of a learned defense mechanism, so I will suggest removing themselves from the person and surrounding circumstances. Other times, there are specific triggers that elicit deep-seated anger or rage that stem from an early childhood trauma, so we work diligently to purge those negative and frightening memories.

The most essential first step in curbing your emotional reactivity and anger is to figure out which emotions make it most difficult for you to be calm, relaxed and open. Pop a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or put a recurring reminder on your phone. Then, the next time you feel that emotion, try a breathing exercise. Notice your heartbeat and how it changes as you breathe more slowly and evenly. It’s OK if your thoughts are racing or if thoughts aren’t present at all -- the important thing is to focus on your breath.

If your thoughts continue to race, imagine each thought as a raindrop. It’s there, and then it’s gone, like when you stand and watch a rainstorm. You don’t actually see individual drops because they fall so quickly. But you do see hundreds or thousands of them just sliding past, falling in and out of your line of sight. If it helps, imagine racing thoughts like that: present, but gone. Let them exist, don't fight them or be scared of them. Instead, let them just pass; do not dwell on them. Remember, thoughts are automatic and cannot be controlled. It is only the emotion we attach to those thoughts that means anything and is what ultimately drives our behavior, for better or worse.

There’s no singular method that works every time, for every person. It is paramount that you keep trying different modalities until you find a solution that keeps you calm, less reactive and in control of your anger.


How To Master A Behavioral Interview

Behavioral interviews are now the standard in almost all hiring situations. From executives interviewing for C-suite positions to high school students looking for summer jobs, “tell-me-about-a-time-when” questions are ubiquitous.

There’s a good reason behavioral questioning has been adopted so widely -- it works. The idea is that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior; coaxing out how candidates have handled specific situations in the past will tell an interviewer more than just rehashing a resume or asking about strengths and weaknesses.

Behavioral interviewing also gives interviewers the chance to assess soft skills, something that can be very challenging to do. Things such as the ability to handle stress, take criticism or successfully act as part of a team can all be assessed through behavioral questions.

While behavioral interviewing isn’t a perfect predictor, it offers a more complete picture of a candidate and how they’ll function in an organization. That means behavioral questioning isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and interviewees need to be prepared for it.

The Challenge For Interviewees

The big challenge behavioral questioning presents interviewees is that it can be what I refer to as "handcuffing." Behavioral questions require answers that are anecdotal and narrative in nature. The interviewee essentially has to dig through their past work experiences, find a relevant scenario, and then convincingly tell the story in a way that paints them in the best light possible -- all on the spot.

That can be daunting, and it isn’t uncommon for excellent-but-unprepared candidates to crumble under the pressure. Luckily, it’s very possible to prepare for behavioral interviews. While there are countless variations of what questions might be asked, some are more common than others, and the simplest way for an interviewee to prepare is to get a list of those common questions and start formulating their answers well in advance.

A lucky candidate might be asked one of the questions they prepped for and knock their answer out of the park. But even if that doesn’t happen, the self-review and added confidence that preparation imparts on an interviewee means that even totally unfamiliar questions become easier to answer.

Advanced Preparation For High-Pressure Candidates

Naturally, the level of the position sought has a huge impact on the level of pressure that exists in an interview. A student looking for a first job out of college has a lot less to lose from a botched interview than a candidate for a vice president position. In the former scenario, prepping with a question list might be enough. In the latter it isn’t, and candidates interviewing for high-level positions need to consider more advanced preparation strategies.

This is why I believe it's critical to mimic the interview process to become more comfortable for the real thing. In my own coaching practice, for example, I prepare my clients through highly immersive interview simulations in which we don’t just go over the questions they’re likely to encounter, but we also recreate the entire interview setting. The goal is to make them as comfortable with the entire process as possible. With each additional pass, their confidence increases, ensuring that when they walk into their actual interview, they’re as calm and collected as possible and in the right frame of mind to succeed.

That additional stress-management training is the key to advanced interview preparation. You could consider undergoing a full professional simulation as the one I mentioned above, or you can do it yourself. At home with a spouse or friend standing in for the interviewer, recreate the interview setting, and have them ask you potential questions. The key is to make the practice sessions as close to the real thing as possible from an emotional standpoint (in addition to a mental one).

Behavioral interviewing has become ubiquitous because it works. But hiring managers and executives have begun to realize that their application of behavioral questioning techniques needs to be constantly refined and adjusted to achieve the end goal -- getting a candidate to think on their feet and provide an honest look into their past performance and work behaviors.

That makes preparation more important than ever, and it also means that confidence and comfort in the interview are as -- or more -- important than trying to anticipate the questions themselves. But regardless of what method a candidate chooses, it goes without saying that an interviewee walking in confident and prepared has the best possible chance of walking out with a new job.


The Basics Of Intraoffice Conflict Management For Effective Executives And Managers

Workplace conflicts are a fact of life. Getting through an entire career without running into some type of interpersonal problem is essentially impossible. With the right support systems, a positive attitude and a little training, most people can learn to resolve those conflicts, but unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t have the tools necessary to deal with interpersonal conflicts in a healthy way. In those cases, differences between colleagues can poison not only individual performance but an entire office.

In my practice as a coach, I’ve helped countless clients in executive and C-suite positions learn to mediate their own issues and those of their subordinates, and its amazing how much positive change can be effected when managers understand conflict more clearly.

The Two Sides Of Unhealthy Conflict Response

When conflicts arise at work, unhealthy responses manifest in two basic forms: refusal to compromise and over-compromise. In that way, work relationships are a lot like romantic relationships. But at work, hard authority lines drawn through positional power, like those between a boss and a subordinate, can render the situation much more complex.

Refusal to compromise: When one or both parties refuse to compromise, healthy resolution becomes impossible. There are many reasons why someone involved in a conflict might choose not to compromise. It could be that their ego won’t allow them to. Or they may view compromise as a sign of weakness that undermines their positional authority. Or, they might just not really know how to – an incredibly common social deficiency. In any case, when compromise is rejected, the only solution may be for a superior to step in and take forced action.

Over-compromise: Conversely, some people engaged in conflict want nothing more than to remove themselves from a situation they find unbearably stressful. Like a partner in a relationship who will go to any length or make any change to try to appease their significant other, in a work environment, this kind of conflict resolution never really works out because it’s so uneven. The colleague who over-compromises might temporarily relieve their stress, but they’ll still end up feeling victimized. The colleague on the other side who refuses to compromise will essentially get their way, and their behavior will only be reinforced. In the end, nobody really wins.

A Healthier Model To Workplace Conflict Resolution

It’s important to recognize that conflict is natural, and differences between people don’t have to be destructive or a source of negativity. In fact, they can represent an opportunity. For instance, the same differences that cause a conflict between two employees may enable them to look at the same task from different angles, making them ideal teammates when it comes to solving complex problems at work. But for two people to make the most of their differences, rather than being ripped apart by them, some reframing and conflict resolution is required. Luckily, there are some very straightforward steps that managers and employees involved in conflicts can take to move towards that resolution.

1. Have someone on staff with formal training. The first, potentially most obvious, but also often overlooked solution is to have someone on staff specifically trained in intraoffice conflict resolution who can act as a mediator when needed. Ideally, every employee should have access to some kind of conflict resolution training, but having specific staff put in a position of responsibility for facilitating mediation is an important step.

2. Enable both sides to share their feelings on the situation. Conflict is almost always driven by emotion, and so resolution absolutely requires understanding the feelings of both sides involved. That isn’t to say that both sides are always equally to blame, and in many cases conflicts are heavily weighted to one side over the other. But even in those cases, allowing the aggressor to express their feelings on the situation can shed significant light on why the conflict exists. Likewise, sometimes just hearing an honest description of the way they’ve made each other feel is enough to iron out the differences between two people.

3. Understand 'WIIFM.' WIIFM stands for “what’s in it for me,” and it underlies a wide variety of human behaviors. Conflict resolution is one of them, and for mediators, managers and the involved parties trying to iron things out, it’s important to realize that people aren’t likely to change their behavior unless there’s something in it for them. Figuring out the WIIFM factor on both sides of a conflict is key to finding a solution, and any solution should ideally involve both sides giving up something and gaining something.


How To Embrace Power And Achieve Career Success

Throughout my career, I've talked to many women and men whose current accomplishments didn't line up with what they knew they could achieve. What was holding them back? It wasn't their work ethic. Many of them were hard-working and highly motivated. But one of the things standing in their way was their relationship with power.

I found it was often women who were struggling. It’s not that they didn't like or want power; many weren't gaining access to power because the same people have wielded it for a very long time. It’s hard to break down the doors and get in. This year, women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies hit a record high of only 6.6%. For women and men of color, these numbers are even smaller.

The barriers to entry are vast. For example, women in positions of power often face a lot of criticism and double standards. Men are expected to be ambitious, but how many women are praised for being at the top? According to Harvard Business Review, managers tend to use more positive words to describe men and more negative words to describe women during performance evaluations. I believe this is because social constructs have long rendered women and minorities as “weaker” or “inferior.”

As a result, I've observed some professionals who have internalized double standards about power. But I believe you can help change your relationship with power using something called "neural rewiring."

Our brains constantly adapt and change. Studies by neuroscientists have shown that the brain is capable of basically rewiring itself in response to new stimuli. When something new becomes a habit, our brains form new neural pathways to accommodate the change. You can rewire the neural pathways that control thoughts, emotions and more. What this means is that you can essentially rewire your brain to think about power in a different way. First, you have to remind yourself that you deserve to have power. Here are four tips to help you do that:

1. Don’t downplay achievements. When you downplay your successes, you are saying to yourself — as well as to others — “I don’t deserve it.” So, avoid statements like “It was nothing” or “Anyone could have done it.” When someone praises your accomplishments, simply say, “Thanks.” You are admitting to them and, more importantly, yourself, that you have wisdom, skills and talents that deserve recognition. Revel in your ambition and power knowing that you have worked hard for it.

2. Don’t add qualifiers. Avoid saying “I’m no expert, but …” and “Maybe not everyone will agree, but …” Your opinion is valuable. Remember: You don’t have to justify it.

3. Believe in yourself. It is important to believe that you can handle challenges. When you earn a promotion, try not to worry about whether you can handle the extra responsibilities. You have already proven that you have what it takes. That is why you got the promotion.

4. Don’t attribute your successes to forces beyond your control. Do you tend to attribute your achievements to blind luck? It’s important to recognize the role that hard work and talent played in your success.

Once you start to think differently about your attributes and successes, you’ll naturally redefine your relationship with power.


The Psychological Concept That Can Make You A More Effective Marketer

Why do humans purchase the things that they do? Why do they choose certain brands over others? One of the most powerful things that influence consumer behavior is a basic psychological concept called classical conditioning. This type of learning can explain why we buy the same things over and over again. We have been conditioned to respond to and be attracted to certain brands, goods, and products. The interesting thing is that we are often not even aware that this has taken place. The most successful brands know this and use the principles of classical conditioning to get us to buy their products. Let me explain how. 

The Role of Classical Conditioning

If you’ve ever taken an introductory psychology class, you’ve probably heard of classical conditioning. The term was coined by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, who came up with the idea that animals — and humans— could be conditioned to respond to a neutral stimulus. 

Let me explain. Pavlov studied digestion in dogs. While conducting research studies on digestion, the physiologist noted that the dogs drooled as soon as they saw the white lab coats of the researchers who fed them. The animals didn’t need to see or taste the food to react. Just seeing a white lab coat was enough to make them drool. 

Pavlov decided to study this phenomenon in the laboratory. Pavlov started by feeding the dogs’ meat powder. When given the meat powder, the dogs would salivate. This is a response that occurred automatically. The next part of the research involved ringing a bell. Pavlov initially didn’t get a response when he rang the bell. However, he eventually paired the ringing of the bell with food. Every time he rang a bell, he would give the dogs the meat. Eventually, the dogs made such a connection between the bell ringing and the meat powder that they began to salivate at the sound of a bell even if there wasn't any food in sight! He was able to get the dogs to react to something that normally wouldn’t produce an effect. Advertisers use this principle in marketing campaigns all the time to get people to react to their products. 

Real-world example: This Nike advertisement is a perfect example of classical conditioning. Throughout the commercial, you are shown one example after another of inspirational sports related stories with the Nike swish logo subtly appearing. At the conclusion, they leave you with their Logo and inspirational quote, “Just do it”, linking the Nike logo with inspiration.

How to Make Classical Conditioning Work for Your Brand

So, how can you use the principles of classical conditioning to make people have positive associations with your brand or product? 

Try pairing your brand with something that produces a reward. For instance, offer a bonus deal or incentive that gives customers free products once they purchase a certain number of products. This activates a reward response. The customer learns to associate your brand with a good deal. That lasting impression can actually cause people to assume that they're getting a good value even when you don't have a promotion running!

Another popular technique is to market your product in a way that forms an association with feelings of happiness, satisfaction and success. Many successful brands do this. When you think of Christmas, how do you feel? For most people, the Christmas season elicits feelings of joy and happiness. Coca-Cola knows this, and so the beverage company has been associating its ads with Christmas since the 1920s. Perhaps try images that feature groups of friends having fun or a person taking control of their morning routine. These types of images can make your product look like a gateway to positive experiences.

The Bottom Line

The focus really needs to be on "training" customers to think of and turn to your product or brand on a Pavlovian basis. You can do this by creating a response to stimuli using value-adding promotions or desire-quenching imagery. Of course, it is always important to use marketing techniques that are ethical and responsible when tapping into the power of classical conditioning. The implementation of classical conditioning done correctly marries the worlds of marketing and psychology in a way that helps brands to enter mainstream consciousness.