Why Donald Steiny?

I have taught myself several professions well enough to make a living at them. Because of that, I believe that, in the end, everyone teaches themselves everything.  Decades teaching mostly computer science related, but also social science, and even humanities has taught me that I am right about that.

Teachers can point you to things to do that will help you learn, warn you against dead ends, help you with attitude and perspective, and encourage you, but there is no opening on your head to pour in knowledge, you have to gain that yourself.

Coaches have different “models” they use to do their thing. I am fortunate enough that in my life I have been deeply exposed to most  of them and have been able to synthesize what I have learned.

My main filter is whether something is evidence based. I am expert in recognizing the way we trick ourselves into believing we know things we can’t possibly know.

Starting in 1979 I got familiar with Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).  It was an outgrowth of the work of Gregory Bateson, Paul Watzawick, Jay Haley, Virginia Satir, and others at the Palo Alto Mental Research Agency and of the hypnotic techniques of Milton Erickson.  I had already been into Bateson et. al. for years and came to UC Santa Cruz because I was interested in cybernetics and systems theory.

I went to UC Santa Cruz to study linguistics which is considered to be one of the most difficult majors at the school. It has an excellent department.

I met the co-founder of NLP, John Grinder, and my first job after college was working on a natural language parser to implement the meta-model described in the Structure of Magic. I leveraged my knowledge of linguistics and could understand what he was saying about the relationship between cognitive distortions and language..

I spent several years hanging around with his students and being exposed to the techniques and models. For instance, I took a hypnotism class from Milton Erickson’s daughter and took non-verbal communication lessons from a mime that taught NLP workshops.  John was always available to answer questions.

Ultimately, I found NLP too reductionist and it makes claims that can’t be verified by evidence. There are parts of it that are useful and I took those, but I learned a lot more.

I had years as a software engineer doing projects for Hewlett-Packard, Bell Laboratories, Sun Microsystems, Intel, and other companies but it led me back to teaching, which is something I am passionate about.

I had learned the importance of metaphor on our reality and used the knowledge in teaching. That increased my skill at seeing how it fit in our reality.

When I got into business, I had questions about the status-quo that led me to the sociological concept of social networks. I got so into it I would up being a scholar at Stanford and working on a book with one of the most influential sociologists alive.  Part of the book was about how we construct ourselves, others, and institutions from the stories in our environment.

About 10 years ago I heard a talk by David Burns, the author of Feeling Good, a book about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  I was fascinated by it, read that book and many others and learned to practice it on myself and others.  It made complete sense to me because it leverages the fact that we construct much of reality, including ourselves.  I can show this to you and it is liberating.

I need to say so there is no misunderstanding, this is nothing like The Secret.  The “co” in “co-create” means that you share the world with other people and changing that shared world is difficult and even impossible.  However, when you get how it works you have way more choices.

So, I get many of the things we do to ourselves that make us unhappy, unsuccessful, and unfulfilled in life. But, I also get what we do to make ourselves happy, successful, and fulfilled.  I don’t go to the unhappy part, it’s no fun.

I can show you how to teach yourself to be happier, healthier, luckier, more successful.  I have done it with many people.

Does what I say sound provocative?  Potentially useful?  Contact me and we can have an initial interview.