My coaching sessions with Hema were quite possibly one of the most productive and influential components of my fellowship training. I started the coaching session feeling unsatisfied with my relationships with friends and family, completely overwhelmed with my growing to-do list and struggling to have difficult conversations with colleagues.
During each session, Hema helped me break down why I was doing what I was doing and reconsider my life from a perspective of values and purpose. By clarifying what was important to me, I was able to take small steps each week to become more productive at work, more present with my family and consider alternative strategies for difficult negotiations.
At the end of the sessions, I felt empowered by my strength and productivity and recognized my own potential. I think this was especially helpful as I complete my medical training and begin an academic faculty position and have the tools to navigate the related challenges, but also think that it would be an invaluable experience for anyone at any point in their career.
My family appreciates the closer relationships and my ability to let go of my to-do list and other responsibilities and I am able to enjoy and savor each moment of life. I am grateful for this experience and believe that it truly changed how I approach work and life in general.
- Lauren Macafee, MD
University of Michigan
I met Hema during my cardiology fellowship. For several months she met with the fellows on a weekly basis. Even though our meetings were brief, I always walked away feeling that I had gained something valuable. We learned about meditation and discussed issues such as work-life balance. Through her expertise in nonviolent communication she helped us manage what were sometimes complicated relationships with attending, patients and nurses.
I was particularly troubled by my interactions with a mentor, and was so grateful for Hema's guidance. She enabled me to understand what might be driving my mentor's actions, how to temper my frustrations, revise my own expectations, and make the most out of my relationship with my mentor.
Hema's kindness and compassion are immediately apparent when you meet her. This is one of her many qualities that makes her so well-suited to work with health care providers. She puts people at ease with her calm demeanor and warm smile. But she is also extremely adept at asking focused ' and sometimes difficult' questions that foster introspection and self-discovery. Hema has an in-depth understanding of the challenges that healthcare providers face, and is an ideal person to help us on this path.
-Tamara Polonsky, MD
University of Chicago
I became chief of a major section at UCMC at the relatively young age of 38. Although, I was technically, academically and intellectually prepared for my position, there was something hindering my advancement. The section was good, not great. My relationship with patients was good, not great. This created a lot of frustration, anxiety and anger. This came to a crisis situation when in-fighting, and destructive behavior was adversely affecting my talented faculty. Through a recommendation from a colleague, I contacted Hema and she became my personal coach for over one year.
We met every Wednesday for lunch for an hour and during that time she changed my ability to communicate and mange relationships not only with faculty but also with patients and family members. She, through her coaching and probing, brought out and help me cultivate my 'motional intelligence'. Her method uses 'non-violent communication (NVC)'.
My first reaction was to dismiss NVC. After all, I was not a violent person and did not want to hurt anyone. But Hema made me realize that violence is not only physical. But that we can hurt people equally through our words and poor communication. She first made me aware of the issues. Then she coached me and helped me improve my ability to listen and understand the needs of others; to better create win-win situations; and to help articulate a vision and direct a group of faculty towards lofty goals.
The NVC program has also helped with clinical medicine. Many times, patients have visited other physicians and come to us with anxiety and doubt. Through Hema's coaching, which has filtered down to my entire support staff, we are able to unmask the fears patients might have and make them accept and thrive after surgery. Hema and the principles of NVC have made me a better physician and leader, helped create a thriving and harmonious group of outstanding surgeons, and permitted us to communicate with patients leading to improved clinical results.
- Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD
Professor of Surgery; Section Chief, Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery University of Chicago
Much more than I expected. That is how I would describe my experience working with Hema as a coach. I expected good practical advice, focus on living out of connection with oneself and others, and tools to effectively negotiate conflict. In all of these areas, Hema has delivered.
But I have received more. Through Hema's coaching I have come to identify and address deeper fears and anxieties. She has taught me very concrete but also heart-level practices that have helped me to daily choose to live toward the things I truly value.
As a result, I have begun to live with greater purpose, clarity, and relational connection to those around me. I have much more confidence in addressing conflicts and other challenges that arise in my life, and much more peace in the process."
- Farr A. Curlin, MD
Hema has been instrumental in helping me transform my life. I was going through many stresses at the time we met: caring for a loved one living with a terminal disease, raising my children, and working long hours. My husband traveled often and I frequently faced challenges alone when one of the boiling pots would spill over. I came to view the world with some skepticism and negativity and felt as if I were a victim of my circumstances.
One day, it happened that one such pot boiled over with a hospital admission of my loved one. She had deathly infection and the doctors were not sure she was going to get through it. My first reaction was to despair and let my mind race to the end-burying her when I still was able to hold her warm hand in mine at her bedside.
This was where I learned the important lesson of present moment awareness. Hema helped me connect with my inner wisdom and that of my loved one to trust and savor the moment, instead of wasting it preparing for bad things to come. The realization meant that I first had to acknowledge and deal with my inner fear of my loved one dying. While I thought at first that I needed to 'conquer my fears'.Â I realized later that there was more power over the situation if I acknowledged the fear rather than to seek to overcome or suppress it. Because Hema coached me to tap into my inner wisdom, I became more self-reliant.. While many would say, of my loved one 'Boy, I'll bet you can't wait until she's out of the hospital,' I would think, 'Yes, but perhaps I should celebrate the time we have now.'
I relied on Hema to coach me through tough personal challenges of the past and continue to utilize her teachings in my everyday life. I have the sincerest gratitude for how she has touched my life.
Harvard School of Medicine
"WOW! Is the only words I can start this testimonial with. At the time I started working with Hema, I had a very great company with much potential, but as it's leader I had difficulty in getting my staff to see this potential. Therefore leaving me often tired, overwhelmed and frustrated.
In my working with Hema over the last year, I have moved from this potential of being not only a wish but a reality for my staff to see how we all collectively make Covenant Security Solutions as success. She helped me work through dusting away the cobwebs I had, to allow me to be a clearer beacon of hope and light for my staff so they could understand their roles, responsibilities and potential within this great organization.
As a result I am more confident as a leader, less stressed and more aware of where I need to be to allow us all to shine to our highest potential. Hema is a true gem!"
- Danyetta Fleming Magana
President/Founder Covenant Security Solutions
I began coaching with Hema at a time when I felt darkness about my relationships, my work, and myself. Discouragement and frustration - even sadness -- characterized my days. Most pressing: I was not able to lead our children in homeschool and home life well. I knew I was not in a healthy place, but I could not see clearly how to get to a brighter one. My current strategies were not working for me. My husband had been working with Hema for a while in his professional work and I had seen the positive outcomes - not only in his work setting, but also overflowing to our home life. So to Hema I went for help.
I began by identifying what needed changing, as well as visualizing what it would look like and what it would do for me (and the people around me) when those changes occurred. Hema listened carefully as I expressed my guiding values and shared with her the readings that inspired and spoke truth to me. She incorporated all of that into our coaching sessions, being attentive to guide me toward alignment with what I had expressed.
Since working with Hema and learning NVC (non-violent communication) I have experienced serious changes in my thought patterns and in communication skills. I feel as though a glass ceiling has been removed. 'The truth has set me free. A reality that once seemed unattainable has become a real possibility. Ingrained and ineffective habits of thought and communication are being replaced with rich, true, healthy ones.
Through coaching with Hema I have been able to better understand the needs driving me, and to clarify my guiding values and goals. The ongoing coaching keeps me focused, moving forward, and aligned with what matters most to me.
Her helpful phrases and creative ideas provide practical tools for making changes. Communication role-play during coaching equips me to put into practice what I'm learning about NVC (non-violent communication).
I am extremely grateful for the clarity I've gained in this process, and the ongoing support I'm receiving to stay aligned with my deepest desires for myself, my relationships, and my work.
Coaching with Hema has been enriched by the fact that my husband and I both are doing so. The new awareness, the shared goals, and the new communication skills have strengthened our marriage and family life. 'To be specific about changes:
I have much more confidence and energy. As I've grown in accepting others and myself, I've experienced the freedom to take risks, to try new activities, to reach out to experiences and people. I 'stretch and grow' more than I did before coaching. I see new possibilities as I continue to nurture an 'abundance mentality' and as I nurture acceptance of myself and of 'what is.' I understand that I am empowered to make choices in my life. If things don't work as hoped, I know I can accept myself and make adjustments as needed. Practically, this has impacted my work (homeschool teacher and home manager) as well as my personal life.
- Kimberly Curlin
Wife of Dr. Farr A. Curlin
I cannot express how grateful I am for Hema’s influence on me. I first met her over 12 years ago through a weekly practice group she led on communicating compassionately. In working with us, she demonstrated the principles of empathy and interpersonal connection outlined in Marshall Rosenberg’s book “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.” Hema has helped teach me how to listen— to others and to myself.
The skills I’ve honed through her practice group have helped strengthen my personal and professional relationships, even landing me an internship at a prestigious magazine. Working with Hema has helped me overcome emotional obstacles and see difficult situations in more productive ways. Her wisdom, thoughtfulness, patience, and gracefulness have inspired me and helped me grow more in the direction of the person I want to be. I would recommend working with her to anyone.
- David King
After completing medical school, residency and starting fellowship, I realized that I had never taken the time to analyze my strengths, weaknesses and future goals. My weekly sessions with Hema challenged me to set both personal and professional goals for myself that would allow me to achieve real growth. After identifying my core values, I found that I was able to problem solve with Hema's help.
My husband noticed a difference in my demeanor at home. I feel that I was able to achieve real success in my worklife because of coaching with Hema. I truly feel that all physicians need to work with a coach like Hema. We are often beaten down by our work and are not given permission to develop who we are and what are our values and purpose. She has given me the tools to continue to develop who I am and what I want and I am truly thankful for that.
– Physician, University of Chicago
I can testify to the life-changing effect that working with Hema has had for me. I have worked with many coaches over the years (business coaches, life coaches, marketing coaches, etc.). Some were very helpful, others less so. What is different about working with Hema is that every one of my previous coaches had some sort of a template that they had learned from somewhere.
With Hema, I have found the approach to be strikingly different. Rather than following some textbook approach, Hema's tremendous gift and power is in how she holds space for me to sink into what is alive and integral within me. She so thoroughly embodies a kind of Gandhian way and teaches principles of transformation through nonviolent means (both inside one’s self and in relation to others) so completely that I am gaining a steadier sense of my own deeper purpose and possibility. With Hema's gentle and assuring guidance, I find I am experiencing a deeper confidence in myself as I head into some very major transitions in my life and business.
I honestly can’t imagine where I’d be without Hema!
CEO Chaturanga, Holistic Fitness