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    Now available in hardcover!

    Mastering The CEO's Greatest Challenge

    Anyone with executive responsibilities – entrepreneurs, business managers, directors of large organizations, even parents – needs to be focused, in command, and able to make wise decisions at any moment.

Meet the author

Michael H. Kahn, Ph.D.

Throughout his 41-year career as a psychologist, Michael’s special focus has been to identify the psychological tools of people who manage life's challenges well. He has used this understanding to counsel, teach, train and coach others to develop these tools. His aim is always to equip people with the coping skills needed to engage life to its fullest potential.

Michael received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Miami University in 1976. As a college student and then a graduate school student during the 60s, Michael’s thinking and values were shaped Continue Reading.


Imagine what daily life is like for that Chief Executive Officer that you admire. How do they manage the many competing, and often conflicting, aspects of their work life with their personal needs and desires? That is their greatest challenge!

A plethora of information is available on how effective CEOs manage, lead, plan, and make decisions. while not so much on the personal side of how they pull it off. In fact, CEOs typically keep that aspect of themselves private.

Many years ago, when I became an entrepreneur, I was daunted by how to manage the same challenge. But once I started imagining how successful CEOs do it, I realized that there must be effective strategies. If not, the tenure of CEOs would be brief: shortcomings in managing their work demands and personal needs would erode their capacity; their work performance would diminish, and they would suffer personal losses, even burnout.

That gave me hope that I could develop such strategies. So, as a clinical and health psychologist, I set out to identify strategies that are psychologically sound, simple, actionable, powerful, and can be developed by anyone. Over time, my search expanded to executive coaching, and whatever was available in the public domain. It culminated in my own research, the CEO Stress Project, and the book, Mastering the CEOs Greatest Challenge: Strategies for Staying Cool in the Executive Hot Seat.

It is a DIY manual that you can use. Its focus is on actual CEOs, because their challenges epitomize the ones we all face in our ongoing efforts to develop and sustain "the good life." If you have this gnawing feeling that you are capable of more, that life should not be this stressful, then this practical and compelling guide will empower you to realize your full potential.

The introduction offers an overview of how to master the CEO’s challenge. Move on and read the section descriptions and the 1st page of each chapter to hone in on the issues that are most immediate now. Then consider the book as a resource, so you can focus on other helpful strategies when needed.

Table of contents

This chapter launches your understanding of the personal side of being a CEO and what it takes to function optimally. You’ll learn about the rationale for the practical methods presented throughout the book that will allow you to thrive. You will gain a mental map of your greatest challenge: mastering the interplay between the often-competing external demands of work and your internal personal operating system, including your biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs.

This chapter provides an overview of what success can mean from several perspectives. How do you identify the specific components of what success means to you? What does your own version of success look like? You will use the author’s step-by-step guidelines to set up your Personal Positioning System so you can systematically manage demands in alignment with your life goals, and resources.

In this chapter, you will learn how relinquishing the myth of natural talent and embracing a skill-building mind-set can guide your efforts to achieve self-improvement goals that are realistic. You will use empirically derived guidelines to navigate the process of change, so you can succeed in meeting your goals and attain lasting results.

In this chapter, you will learn several scientifically-based, practical strategies to stay synchronized and to operate in cool mode – so you can reliably access your ideal executive performance state. You will find information that allows you to better understand how your personal operating system works and the key elements it requires to function optimally. You will gain a working understanding of the human drama of managing your own biopsychological system.

In this chapter, you will learn ways to monitor your mind-body system while in action. You will discover your advanced warning system that signals you when the stress reaction has been triggered and learn reliable ways to take constructive action to regulate your automatic reactions. As your mastery for resetting your system improves, you will find that you have more options to decide how and when to respond to your stress reactions.

In this chapter, you will learn about the biopsychological imperatives of your mind-body operating system. What do you need to do to maintain a steady supply of high quality psychological and physical energy so you can perform optimally? Here you will find practical strategies in line with your core personal values and your personal and social well-being, as well as your needs for nutrition, sleep, exercise, and rest.

In this chapter, you will learn specific, practical strategies to ensure that your workday ends with you feeling satisfied with how you managed the day’s pressures. Using the strategies in this chapter, you can successfully regulate your energy and efforts so that you are proud and pleased with the quality of your productivity. Learn about how this sense of well-being frees you up to forgive yourself for inevitable disappointments, so you can let go of the workday. Then, transition from work to home using the methods you’ll find here.

In this chapter, you will learn to adjust your manner of working to the type of task you are working on. The author’s simple strategies will help you set up your work time to fit the realities of how brains work. You will find that you can be more productive, because you will be better able to maintain your cool.

In this chapter, learn to recognize when the strain caused by being “on” so much is eroding your performance capacity. Learn the mental traps that can interfere with self-renewal and what it takes to restore good energy. Included are specific strategies to replenish yourself so that you can function at your best.

In this chapter, you will learn specific, actionable strategies to increase your capacity to be cool, — remaining calm, composed, powerfully focused, and in command. Learn how to do the right thing, even in the face of intense pressure. Not feeling so cool? Learn how to appear cool, so you protect your image and can best serve your staff and the public.

In this chapter, you will learn what to do if you lose your cool. Learn about emotional and mental events that trigger loss of cool and discover the different types of disruptive emotional and mental reactions that can follow. Gain specific strategies to recover your cool in different situations, including situations that you can manage by yourself and those that are better handled by enlisting another.

In this chapter, you will learn how to promote the quality of relationships you require to function at your best. You will find straightforward guidelines for laying the foundation for good relationships by “hiring smart,” and fostering a work culture that promotes loyalty, teamwork, and empowerment. You will also learn the keys to developing essential people skills: sensitivity to important social and emotional factors, communication strategies to coordinate your life with others, making and declining requests, easing office tensions, and managing special relationships.

In this chapter, you will learn to recognize your own mind-set in your role as CEO and how it affects what you perceive as your tasks. Learn how to formulate systematic strategies for dealing with task management that enable you to be strong in your execution. Included are practical strategies for organizing and planning, weekly focusing questions, practical ways to manage work inflow and disruptions, and taking stock at the end of the day.

Sustaining Synergy for Success

The final section provides a summary of key points from the book. You will also learn how to approach your ongoing efforts to develop the life you desire. Here the author underscores a basic tenet of his approach: you must care for yourself, be considerate of yourself, and feel that you are worthy of the effort to create a full life.

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