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Three Hacks to Boost Motivation, from Knopman Marks CEO Liza Streiff

Liza Streiff offered a high-energy masterclass on motivation to launch Knopman Marks’ new, 8-week series—Essentials to Thrive. The audience, polled at the start of the live-streaming session, wanted to learn how to grow during times of adversity. Streiff, the CEO of Knopman Marks, responded with personal stories and strategies to thrive no matter what is going on around us.

In the midst of a global pandemic, with many facing fear, uncertainty, and loss of routine, the inspiring message and actionable steps Streiff shared were especially timely. To unlock motivation, productivity, and a positive mindset, Streiff explained, we must first quiet our minds, then fuel them, and always look for the upside.

3 Big Ideas to Get Motivated

  1. Seek peace. This may sound counterintuitive, but motivation begins with stillness. Take a moment for yourself. “Breathe in peace and hope,” Streiff instructed. “Exhale anything you need to let go of, such as fear, anxiety, or resentment.” A few deep breaths can restore calm and a feeling of being grounded, the first steps to getting motivated.
  2. Know where your power lies. Distinguish between what you can control (your energy, your mindset, what you choose to focus on today, and how you treat others) and what you cannot control (the coronavirus, the global economy, and how other people act). Streiff’s message: “Create a mental filter.” That way you don’t waste energy trying to change what you cannot control. Focus on what you can control instead.
  3. Get focused. “Clarity is power,” Streiff noted. Clarity allows us to know what to do next and avoid feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed. She also cited the motivating power of acknowledging our progress every day. This helps us avoid focusing on a never-ending to-do list that we are unable to fulfill. Maintaining a progress report helps us step out of perfectionism and keep the energy and motivation flowing.

Q&A with Liza Streiff

  1. You mentioned you’re a member of the 5:00 am club. What does waking up before the sun do for you?
    When I heard about the 5:00 am club, I’ll be honest, it didn’t sound like something for me. I am not a morning person. But I decided I wasn’t going to let that excuse stand in my way. I wanted to set my day up to win. I decided that I’m highly adaptable and I can condition myself to do this. It wasn’t easy. It took some time. But it’s made a real difference for me. Getting up early gives me time alone to think and strategize so that by the time my kids are up, the work emails are rolling in, and the world needs my attention, I’m crystal clear and ready to go.
  2. With so many pulls on your attention, including three young children and your role as CEO, what has made the biggest difference in your ability to focus and thrive?
    My days used to be filled with back-to-back meetings and pockets of time that were spent frantically answering emails. I didn’t have heads-down time to do focused work or even 10 minutes to take a walk, breathe, and clear my head. Then I embraced the role of architect in my own calendar. This has made a huge difference in what I’m able to accomplish each day. I’ve made owning my calendar a priority. Being very intentional about what my calendar looks like has helped me do what matters most each day.
  3. Can you explain the power of increasing constants in our lives, and how it impacts motivation?
    The idea is that we increase constants and decrease variables where we can. Since we have a finite amount of energy available to us each day, it’s helpful to remove decision-making wherever possible. For Steve Jobs, this meant a uniform of jeans and a black turtleneck, to avoid wasting any energy deciding what to wear. For others, this might mean knowing you will eat oatmeal for breakfast each morning. Anything you can put on autopilot conserves valuable energy.
  4. You said the difference between sustainable performance (where we thrive) and volatile performance (where we burn out) is identifying what fuels us. What fuels you?
    Self-care isn’t a luxury. To perform at my best consistently and keep motivated, I need to give myself downtime and recovery time. What fuels me is listening to an inspiring speaker or a great song, connecting with myself in solitude, and surrounding myself with people who feed my energy rather than drain it. One tool I love that always fuels me is to focus on what is good about a given moment, even in the most difficult ones. Then I connect with that sense of gratitude and take a second to savor it. Looking for the upside is always available to us.

If you missed Streiff’s session on motivation, a recording is available in the Training Center at You can also access worksheets to practice some of the exercises Streiff outlines in her session.

Register here for the Essentials to Thrive series, and join us Wednesday at 12:30 pm ET for the second live-streaming masterclass: Digital Wellbeing with Giancarlo Pitocco, founder & CEO of Purposeful Digital Wellbeing.

Suzanne Riss is an author and Director of Communications at Knopman Marks Financial Training. Previously the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, she is a fierce advocate for issues facing working moms and an authority on work/life trends. Her expertise has been tapped in interviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CNN. Suzanne's third book, Work Disrupted, published by Wiley, was released in January 2021.