You’re not who you think you are. You might think you know how you’ll handle stress, but you’re probably wrong.

Jodi Grinwald was. Here was a woman who spent 20 years in corporate and nonprofit sales and development, planned events, oversaw people, and traded ideas like dollar bills, only to find that when things got stressful, she didn’t meet the challenge with the head-on ferocity of a tiger. She instead slumped into victim mode, a.k.a., the old “oh woe is me” approach.

She didn’t know that until she took a test regarding her energy leadership. Needless to say, the results startled her. But here’s the thing — knowing the harsh truth has made her a better business coach, she says. She’s been through the fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la phase and know how it feels. And now she knows how to help people fix it.

Grinwald, who works out of the Tom’s River home office of Today Is the Day Coaching, will present “Energy Leadership Tools for Executive & Business Coaching” at the Human Resources Management Association on Monday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Princeton. Cost: $65. Visit

Grinwald grew up in Brooklyn and attended CUNY College of Staten Island with plans to be a teacher, but ended up as a sales rep for Sunstyle International in 1994 and moved into business development with Intelligroup four years later. She worked various business management development positions until 2005, when she wanted to get into nonprofits and joined the American Heart Association as a senior regional director. She left to become vice president of regional development for the American Lung Association in 2013.

Grinwald founded Today Is the Day after setting up a visit from a business coach for her staff at ALA. She had no idea what to expect from the coach, but ended up so impressed that she decided it was the right thing for her.

“She just brought everyone on this amazing journey,” she says of the coach. “People were laughing, people were crying. When she left, I thought ‘What is this life coaching thing?’”

Grinwald’s father, a career manufacturer’s rep and aspiring singer/songwriter, even late in life, was also a major factor in her decision. “He was always my life coach,” she says. Though he had always sung opera, he never wrote a song until he was one day walking into work and witnessed a deceased homeless man being carried away, no one knowing who he was.

It was, Grinwald says, a lesson to him and to herself about the importance of paying attention to what surrounds you in life, a lesson that would come in handy when she made the jump to business coaching. But her final push to go for it came after her father contracted ALS. “He told me, ‘I never got to live my dream, so live yours’” she says. Six months later ALS claimed her father, but she took his support and his lessons and put them to work helping people, which she says she has always felt called to do.

Energy leadership. The concept of energy leadership revolves around what type of energies a person puts out under various leadership situations. There’s everything’s-all-right you, and there’s everything’s-going-looney-at-once you.

And while people in general are capable of a certain forgiveness for how others handle stressful circumstances, how business leaders in particular comport themselves has major influence on where the company is going and how the staff will do their jobs.

Like Grinwald’s self-discovery about her stress personality, she has found that people are often way off in who they thought they were when stuff starts going down. But knowing the truth is always good, she says, and it leads to being able to fix the issue better. It’s a lot like seeing yourself on camera and noticing, yes, you really do look like that when you dance. Now that you know, there’s a process to follow that can help you fix it.

The difference between therapy and coaching is that whereas therapists work to get people over their pasts, coaches take the “it already happened, time to move on” approach. By focusing on what can be done to get past the issue now, Grinwald says, leaders, professionals, and anyone looking to be a better version of themselves can actually put real plans and actions into effect. One thing, though: you need to be open-minded about the whole change-yourself thing.

Needing help is OK. If there’s one universal uphill all business coaches climb it is that people in general don’t really have a clue what a business coach is. Consequently, their perception of a coach is often along the lines of motivational speaker or other business equivalent to New Age guru.

But a coach, says Grinwald, helps employees and leaders see where they are and where they need to be. A lot of times, she says, someone in a job was doing great, and then suddenly isn’t. Whatever happens, the person gets beset upon by the tasks at hand, loses focus, and doesn’t have the ability to right the ship.

For executives this is a far more problematic situation. Managers and executives often have a lot of people working for them, meaning that their drive to do a good job for the company is what keeps food on several tables. An executive who has lost focus on the company’s mission can’t train employees properly, could give bad advice, and could let important things go because they’re simply overwhelmed.

Most executives who call in a coach, Grinwald says, have some issue with time management. There’s a ton to do at work, but there’s also the kids, the spouse, and, you know, life. For these types, she says, the routine of having to always be on, always be a leader, always be perfect in the eyes of other employees compels leaders to think they are completely indispensible.

You’re not. But you are important, and when you’re working well, everyone you oversee works better. The problem, Grinwald says, is that people in need of help don’t like to ask for it, especially from someone like a coach, about whom they’re unsure. The perception is that asking for help is weak, and when you’re in charge, you don’t want to appear weak.

“We’re all in some way or another control freaks,” she says. “Letting someone in is giving up control, and that’s hard for people to do.” In truth, however, asking for help is a strength. “I find it commendable when executives recognize they need help,” she says. “We’re here to guide.”

By guiding, she to a degree means helping people see what’s around them; to recognize who they surround themselves with as much as noticing simple things like the trees and sky when you step outside. So often, she says, people keep their heads on their phones and computer screens and miss what’s really happening.

As a self-described “recovering workaholic,” Grinwald knows how easy it is to attend her daughter’s game or show and hear her ask “Are you watching?” and answering yes, but in reality her eyes were fixed on her phone the whole time.

So in short, notice the people around you before they get carried away from the streets, no one knowing who they are.

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