Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Phyllis Mufson | Career/Business Consultant and Certified Life Coach

Interview :: Phyllis Mufson
by Juanita Berge, 1 Aug 2010

Phyllis Mufson is a career/business consultant and certified life coach with an international clientele of creative and enterprising people. Her overall aim is to help individuals develop fulfilling work while growing personally and professionally, to achieve this she draws from a wide range of training and skills.

Email: [email protected]
Follow me on Twitter:

PCG: Take me through the process. If I engaged you as a coach, what could I expect?

PM: You could expect that we would work together as a team, focused on your goals. You could expect to be more focused, more productive and more creative through our partnership. If you commit to your growth through the process, you will accomplish more, and with more ease, than you would on your own. We would develop action plans that bridge your dreams with your current situation. You would learn new skills and strategies, and identify and disarm the obstacles that have been holding you back. You would get ideas and support, and be held accountable to achieving your desires. You could expect to reach your goals, but within the context of living a happier, more fulfilling life.

Clients frequently tell me that I helped them turn their fear about change into a sense of adventure. They are also surprised that the impact of the work they do in coaching creates positive ripples in all areas of their life. They comment that they feel more completely themselves, and more comfortable expressing themselves than ever before.

PCG: It seems your work falls into two fields: coaching and consulting. What are the differences between the two?

Phyllis Mufson | Career/Business Consultant and Certified Life Coach

PM: Coaching is a method of personal and professional development based on concepts from business, spirituality, psychology and organizational development. Working with a coach is a bit like having a personal trainer or an athletic coach. A coach helps you develop your potential, in your career, and also personally. When I coach it's like I'm facilitating a personal growth workshop, but focused only on the needs of one person.

Consultants offer advice based on their areas of expertise. Some of the areas where I help clients are with career choice, job search, career management, personal branding, and small business development. I help them refine their communication skills such as: listening, how to articulate what they have to offer in interviews and negotiations, and how to work collaboratively with others. I'm qualified in the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), which is a highly validated instrument that identifies individual preferences, and helps clients understand themselves and others better.

Some clients hire me either as a coach or as a consultant, but most often clients choose me because I bring both areas of training and experience to help them accomplish their objectives.

PCG: I read that you also do workshops? What goes on in a workshop?

PM: The workshops I lead are highly interactive, information-rich and humorous. There's always time for participants to share their perspectives and practice what they are learning. Workshop attendees leave energized, with a broadened outlook and new tips, skills and insights they can put to use immediately to make their work lives more satisfying.

Phyllis Mufson | Career/Business Consultant and Certified Life Coach

PCG: What subjects do your workshops encompass?

PM: The workshops I design and present cover a wide range of personal and professional development topics.

Some workshop topics include: "Creativity on Demand," "Innovative Thinking: Tapping Your Creative Flow", "Idea Parties," "Careers for Creative People," "Yes And . . . Creating Cooperative Relationships," "Leading Through Integrity", "Getting Off Your Yes, Buts..." "Blueprint Your Future," Myers-Briggs and Personality Style topics, "The Networking Game," and other networking topics.

PCG: How did you come to enter this field?

PM: At a time when I was looking for a new career direction, a light bulb came on when I saw "Stand and Deliver," a movie about a dedicated math teacher who works with drop-out students. I cried throughout the movie. Fortunately, rather than comforting me and trying to get me to stop crying, my partner asked me questions about what moved me so much. I responded that I was moved by the way the Edward James Olmos character inspired his students. I realized I wanted to focus my work on this quality of inspiration.

That discovery led me to approach Barbara Sher, a personal growth author and one of the pre-cursors to the field of coaching. Her book "Wishcraft" fascinated me, and I asked her permission to design a workshop based on it. Not only did she give her permission, but to encourage me, she generously introduced me to the audience and had me talk about the workshop the next time she spoke in Philadelphia.

Soon after, I was hired by an international career management firm to lead workshops to help laid-off executives choose a new direction and learn and practice job search skills. Although I was new to the field, they chose me over candidates with training and experience. I discovered later that I was hired because they saw me clearly as 'a natural,' and they trained me in their methods. It was an inspired time for me and I felt encouraged by the help and mentoring I received.

I have been given a great gift that has made my life much happier. My work is so well suited to me that it's a pleasure and I'm always interested in learning and developing more. This is what I want for my clients as well.

PCG: What gives you expertise in this field?

PM: I bring a combination of skills developed through training, as well as twenty three plus years of experience consulting and coaching in the career field. There are families in Philadelphia where I have worked with everyone, including cousins. First the parents, then the children as they graduated from school, and then again as they matured and grew in their careers. I trained as a coach and was awarded certification through the Coach Training Institute and have also completed further training in Co-Active Leadership and Somatic Coaching.

I've been interviewed in over seventy newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post and have spoken on career topics on radio and television. Currently I write about Boomer careers for and on personal development for Soroptimist International's "Live Your Dreams" campaign.

In the past I served as director of Career Services at Moore College of Art and Design, and as a marketing and public relations writer.

I served on the United States board of the Association of Career Professionals International (ACP) as well as the boards of the ACP's Philadelphia chapter and Business Women's Network.

A benefit to my clients from my level of experience is that, having worked with so many people, I can usually see into what they are telling me and quickly get to the nub of what is bothering them.

PCG: What's been your experience in the creative fields?

PM: Before beginning my career as a life coach and consultant, I was an artist working in textile design, creating wall pieces, one-of-a-kind fashion, and custom textiles for interior designers. My work sold nationally through retailers from New York: Bergdorf Goodman and Julie's Artisan Gallery to San Francisco: the "Obiko" art wear boutique, and is held in individual and corporate collections. With my partner Richard Valentino, I founded the San Francisco School and Gallery of Textile Arts, and wrote the book "Fabric Printing: Screen Method." I was a winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in crafts.

I started out as a painter, and was awarded a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute and an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts from San Francisco State University. As a graduate student, I was invited to join a committee of arts and science faculty charged with developing coursework to augment adult creativity. I then taught the class along with the chairman of the English department.

I am fortunate that in addition to being a creative person, I'm good at business and I have the ability to think strategically. Since early in my career I have earned part of my living helping other artists and designers earn a livelihood.

Currently I find artistic expression making jewelry. You can see my work online at Personal Treasures and Mufi Jewels

PCG: Who is your audience? (Especially for the workshops.)

PM: I've presented workshops to corporate and small business audiences, to professional and service organizations, and to audiences of individuals.

PCG: What are some tips for tapping into one's creativity?

PM: One tip is to expose yourself to what inspires you in your field, and spend time with other people who share your interests; whether it's art, looking at great design, listening to music, or going to lectures. Schedule time regularly to tap into your source of inspiration.

Another tip is to focus your attention on turning out a lot of work, rather than trying to produce great work. As Linus Pauling said, "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas."

In an interesting study on artistic creativity, a university graduate class in ceramics was divided into two parts. The first group was told to take a whole semester and focus on creating their best, most beautiful or innovative work. The second group was told to spend the semester making as many pieces as possible.

Which group do you think produced the most beautiful and innovative work? The answer is in Linus Pauling's quote.

PCG: What are some of your tips for dealing with creative blocks?

PM: One thing people often forget when they are in the grip of creative frustration is that creative work is a process.

Although there isn't a generally accepted definition of this process, some variation of the steps outlined by Graham Wallas are often used:

  1. Preparation: At the beginning of the creative process you become aware you have a problem / challenge and focus on exploring it, whether the problem is intrinsic (you decide you want to write a poem) or extrinsic (a client hires you to design a new website). Part of this stage involves clarifying the dimensions of an ideal solution.
  2. Incubation: At this stage your unconscious mind is working on the problem even though it appears that nothing is happening.
  3. Intimation: You start to get a 'buzz,' a gut feeling that an answer is coming.
  4. Illumination: This is the 'aha' moment when the answer / solution arrives in a way that is described as 'out of the blue'.
  5. Verification: When you refer back to the preparation stage to verify that you have a workable solution and prepare your solution for implementation.

Understanding how the creative process works can often dispell some of the angst. People frequently get frustrated when they're moving between preparation and incubation. If the answer was already apparent, you wouldn't need to incubate, and you usually move into incubation when you have exhausted all of the readily available, conscious answers. So it's helpful to relax and trust that when you've finished incubating an answer will come to you.

Blocks can come from a wide variety of reasons. The one I see most frequently I think of as "problems with the editor." The editor, sabateur, gremlin, inner critic is the evaluative part of ourselves run wild. Toning down the voice of the inner critic and getting out of your own way is something I help people with in coaching. Readers may also enjoy the book "Taming Your Gremlin" by Rick Carson.

PCG: Who has been the biggest influence on your work?

PM: There have been so many influences! When I write the story of my life I'll answer this question.

Phyllis Mufson
Catalyst for Personal & Professional Growth
[email protected]

Print Article