Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute.

She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Better.tv.

Our Children Are Our Change

Our Children Are Our Change
For the past ten days I have been traveling outside of the United States. We had a packed itinerary and my intention was to disconnect and just be where I was with the person I was with. Halfway into my trip, the Parkland shooting occurred. Since these horrific acts of mass violence have unfortunately become part of our daily life, I realize that I've actually developed a pattern of how I digest these heartbreaking events. I tend to watch hour after hour of commentary, making sure I check in from the morning shows to Jimmy Kimmel Live’s opening monologue. Since Parkland is less than an hour drive from where I live and I know people who live there, I am sure that had I been home, I would have been that much more fixated on learning more. Being in Europe, I actually felt a bit guilty about not being more on top of the subject. Yet every time I entered a designer store in Paris, I was consistently struck by the lack of gun control and safety precautions in our schools. How was it that to enter a designer store my bag would be searched and in some cases an armed guard would stand at the door, but in most schools in the U.S., people can walk in carrying anything? 
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The Inconvenient Truth

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In the past few weeks I have been fixated on the news and stories surrounding the world of USA Gymnastics. Like most of us, I have looked on with horror, disbelief, and heartbreak as well as a profound sense of admiration for the 156 women and girls - "the army of survivors" - who shared their victim impact statements and testified against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. I also cheered when Judge Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison and so matter-of-factly said, "It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You don't deserve to walk outside a prison ever again." Just yesterday, Nassar was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in prison after a second sentencing hearing where more than 60 young women and teenagers read or presented victim impact statements. 


Like many of us, I can't help thinking about the other people and organizations involved in this situation who were told or put on notice about Nassar's behavior and did nothing to stop it. Whether it was Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, or private training facilities, I am a huge proponent of the investigations that are and should be conducted as to how these entities and people - these enablers - ignored or mishandled the sexual assault complaints lodged against Nassar. It's chilling to realize that he could have been stopped decades ago. 


Being a mother of three daughters the same age range as many of the women I watched testify, what stops me in my tracks are the victims and survivors who shared that they told their parents what was going on and, for whatever reason, their parents dismissed or minimized what their child was saying and did not advocate or did not advocate strongly enough to put a stop to Nassar's sick, destructive, abusive behavior. 


Although, I would like to think that as a parent I would have listened and taken charge, and now there is no question that I would, 15 years ago when I was a newly divorced, single mother of three girls trying to juggle so many aspects of life, the truth is I don't know how I would have responded...And that haunts me. Doing a good deal of soul searching, I have been asking myself questions like: 
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From Monkey Mind To Mindfulness

mindfulness

Although it feels like New Years was weeks ago, we are still very much in the conversation of "New Year, New You!" Even though every January we tend to engage in a dialogue about what we can do to revamp or upgrade our lives, each year we see a few new concepts or practices added to the "what's trending now" lists. In the past few years, the concept of mindfulness or being mindful has become a crucial part of the self-care conversation. 

From the boardroom to the kindergarten classroom to centers and apps dedicated to the practice, mindfulness trainings are widespread and have become mainstream. Credited with reducing stress and anxiety and having several other physical and mental health benefits, mindfulness is often defined as the practice of bringing your full mind to a singular object or situation or, as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and leader in the field of mindfulness, defines it, mindfulness is "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally." 

Although being totally present to one thing for even five to ten minutes might seem like a no-brainer, for many it is a challenge. Described as a practice that takes practice, many beginners are encouraged to practice mindfulness by bringing their attention to day-to-day activities, even something as simple as drinking a cup of tea or eating food. We are urged to smell the food, taste the food, chew the food, and truly be in the experience of the food. 

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Empowering Bad Behavior - #TimesUp Now!

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Happy New Year! I have been thinking a lot about this first newsletter of 2018. In a perfect world, I might be using this post to share with you some profound, uplifting, spiritual experience that I had ringing in the New Year and setting the tone for the upcoming year, but the fact is I cannot. I rang in the New Year experiencing emotions that ranged from horrified, shocked, and speechless to feeling victimized.

I was at what I thought was going to be a sweet get-together which quickly got hijacked by the bad behavior of a 40-year old woman who, in a nutshell, was committed to proving that she was right and everyone around her was wrong because they were not adhering to her demands and doing and acting as she wanted them to. Although I've only known this woman for a relatively short time, from what I have seen, this woman's bad behavior had nothing to do with New Year's Eve. It has been on display since the day I met her and from what I have heard from people closest to her, it has always been ever-present in her life – igniting toxicity, trauma, and trouble where ever she goes and with whomever she is with.

Yet, just as troubling as this woman's consistent bad behavior has been the reaction of everyone around her. Not wanting to have to "take on her stuff," they let her stuff dictate and infect every move, moment, and mood. That was until New Year's. Seeing the horror, hurt and humiliation reflected in the eyes of people like myself and others who were bystanders as we watched the events of the evening unfold, the people closest to this woman could no longer ignore the proverbial elephant in the living room. It was painfully obvious that the air and joy was being sucked out of the room and that their tendency to choose "harmony" over truth had landed them in hell and empowered bad behavior as well as a negative, venomous presence in the space. 

Interestingly, if I have seen any theme so far in 2018, it has been very much in keeping with the one I just described. I have already received numerous calls and messages from people who can no longer tolerate accepting or enduring the bad or inappropriate behavior of others to rule the roost, be it their children, spouses, co-workers, employers, or friends. They've had it with living in denial, turning a blind eye, trying to make it better, or being blinded by their own wishful thinking. The cost of living in an environment of constant judgment, righteousness, and pessimism has not only brought them down, but also been downright depleting. 

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What Do You Need To Eliminate Before 2018?

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As the holidays kick into high gear, I am thankful and a bit overwhelmed as I fill in my calendar. There are parties to attend, dinners to organize, presents to buy, decorations to hang, and visits from out-of-towners, friends, and family to prepare for. As I anticipate the month to come, it feels like my to-do list is infused with a sense of accumulation. Although I look forward to the abundance and merriment of delighting in the decadence of December, I also feel a strong sense of urgency to resolve and handle certain issues so I do not carry them forward into 2018. And the good news is there is still time. 

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A Gratitude Ritual

A Gratitude Ritual

As each one of my three daughters comes home for the Thanksgiving vacation holiday, my heart expands and I am overcome by all of the amazing gifts that I have in my life. As I wrote on the dedication page of my new book The Integrity Advantage, I am blessed to have amazing women in my life to learn from, laugh with, and lean on. In particular, I publicly acknowledged my mother, my three daughters, and of course Debbie Ford. A woman of courage, brilliance, and faith, Debbie radically shifted so many people's lives - especially mine. Through her teachings, wisdom, honesty, and vision, Debbie gave and keeps giving me - and all of us - the gift of liberation.


As we enter the holiday season and this sacred time of introspection, Debbie's words ring in my ear. Especially around this time of year, she used to remind us that:

"When you're in the presence of your gifts,
you naturally feel gratitude."

If you want to live a life beyond your wildest dreams, if you want to turn the ordinary into extraordinary and find the miracles that are dancing in front of you in every moment then start with the practice of cultivating gratitude.


So as we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you a powerful Gratitude Ritual Debbie created. (See below.) I hope you take the time to do it. Especially during this season when we all literally and figuratively have so much on our plates, it is important to go within and connect with your blessings.


And as I turn my attention to what I am most appreciative for this week, I want you to know that I am grateful for YOU. I know that there is no greater honor than to be welcomed into your life and share in your emotional and spiritual evolution. I appreciate your openness and willingness to let me be a part of your process!

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Turning The Tables on Turkey Day Trauma & Trepidation

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Happy almost-Thanksgiving! If you are like me, I'm sure that you cannot believe the holidays are already upon us. What happened to Fall? Although the song says "Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays," despite what we see in Hallmark Channel's Five Night Thanksgiving Movie Event, the fact is that most of us experience a sense of dread as we envision our upcoming holiday gatherings. Feelings of resistance, anxiety, and resignation start to bubble up as we anticipate the drama and dis-ease that will undoubtedly accompany the candied yams and pumpkin pie. As we contemplate the upcoming holiday, our minds naturally drift back to Thanksgivings past and we automatically become stressed out thinking about our family dynamic and the scenarios that consistently cause trauma and trepidation before we get to and/or around the Thanksgiving table. Any hope of warm and fuzzy feelings turn cold and cautious as we contemplate situations like:

  • How do I once again try to explain to my family why I have to bring my own food since I eat vegan or gluten-free?

  • What can I do to appease my parents and in-laws, who are all divorced but expect us to show up and make their Thanksgiving meal the most significant one?

  • How should I handle it this year when, at the last minute, my sister-in-law once again decides to invite four more people to dinner?

  • What do I do when Uncle Bob brings up politics and the holiday goes from being about pilgrims, Native Americans, and gratitude to Democrats vs. Republicans and hate and hurling insults?

  • How do I not get pissed off at my family when they stay glued to the couch and watching TV as I do all of the work in the kitchen?
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How The Divorce Diet Became The Integrity Advantage

How The Divorce Diet Became The Integrity Advantage

As you may know, this past week, my first book, The Integrity Advantage, was released. It was a pinnacle moment filled with a smorgasbord of emotions. It quickly turned into a somewhat surreal experience watching this baby being birthed out into the world, seeing people holding the book in their hands, and knowing that they would soon be reading my words.


Many people have asked me why I committed to this concept of integrity as a way of life a few years ago. I was recently invited to write a guest blog addressing what motivated me to write this book and what I hoped the reader would get out of it. Since it was my own pain and chaos of living out of integrity that brought me to living and realizing the advantage of living an integrity-guided life, I thought I would share the blog here. 

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Stop Covering Your Butt!

Stop Covering Your Butt!

Last Saturday when I was taking a bootcamp class at my gym, I noticed this adorable twenty-something standing next to me. Although I have seen her before, I have never talked to her. Truth is, she generally works out every morning at 6 AM, whereas I stumble in at 7 AM. I have in the past overheard some of her conversations. They generally revolve around what she is eating and her asking advice from others since she is "starving herself and not losing any more weight." Having been in that situation for a huge portion of my life, I have had tremendous empathy for her. Although part of me wanted to jump right in and save her, I could hear my three daughters (who are also in their twenties) in my head saying, "Mom, don't be scary!" So beyond complimenting her whenever I could and was appropriate, I kept my scary-self quiet.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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