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| "This book
presents clear, powerful answers to the questions, How do I get the most out of my
one shot at life?' It shakes you loose from complacency and helps you move forward
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Interview Questions Biography of Jeffrey Makoff
Biography of Rhoda Makoff Advance Praise Print Journalists
Some personal and business decisions
Get Off the Fence!
10+ 1 Steps to
Help You Make
Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D. and Jeffrey Makoff, Esq.
Paperback: 400 pages
Its not always easy to make a Big Decision, whether its about marriage, education, career, kids, health, business or personal finances. Get Off the Fence! shows how to make the decisions that count.
Youll learn to:
Taking intuition out of the equation can spell failure.
It's easy enough to tell ourselves "Don't sweat the small stuff," but let's get real -it's not all small stuff. Sometimes we have to face tough decisions:
Get Off the Fence! covers all of these life-transforming decisions, and much more.
This is not an ivory-tower textbook on decision theory-it's a step-by-step handbook for guiding people through the process of making difficult choices. Mother/son authors Rhoda and Jeffrey Makoff bring years of personal and professional experience to the table-they have made hundreds of "big decisions" in their successful careers and counseled thousands of people through difficult choices. The Makoffs present ten steps to effective decision-making, but they also recognize another essential component-the role of emotion in making the best decision possible. This crucial eleventh step is where the "heart" or intuition comes in. Get Off the Fence! also includes fascinating stories about people who have made major life decisions.
Get Off the Fence! will help people take control of complex situations instead of feeling helpless and paralyzed by indecision. It will prevent them from making poor decisions that create a lifetime of regrets and self-recrimination.
About the Authors:
Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D., shares the wisdom she gained through years of experience as a biochemist, parent, business executive and educator. In the early 1970s, after years of biochemistry research, Dr. Makoff co-founded the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Makoff started R&D Laboratories Inc., a niche pharmaceutical company. She served as the companys Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer until 2000, when R&D Laboratories was acquired by a New York Stock Exchange company. Dr. Makoff now pursues business consulting and charitable work. More information about Rhoda Makoff can be found here.
Jeffrey Makoff, Esq., is a San Francisco attorney and Co-Chairman and CEO of DigitalCustom Group, Inc.. The Makoffs have helped structure thousand of major personal and business decisions as both advisors and decision-makers. More information about Jeffrey Makoff can be found here.
Advance Praise for
Get Off the Fence!10+ 1 Steps to Help You Make
That Big Decision
Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D. and Jeffrey Makoff, Esq.
Paperback: 400 pages
Carl Spetzler, Ph.D.
Chairman, Strategic Decisions Group
"This book presents clear, powerful answers to the questions, How do I get the most out of my one shot at life?' It shakes you loose from complacency and helps you move forward with confidence."
Movie producer ("Theres
Something About Mary")
Rhoda Makoff, Ph.D. was born in Los Angeles in 1937. She was educated at Westridge School in Pasadena, El Rodeo in Beverly Hills and graduated from Beverly Hills High School. She received her B.A. degree from U.C.L.A. cum laude in 1958 (Zoology), and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the U.C.L.A. Medical School (Department of Biochemistry) in 1961. She was a U.S. Public Health Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, Harvard Medical School (1963-1966). Dr. Makoff was a research endocrinologist and adjunct assistant professor in the Dept. of Medicine at U.C.L.A. Center for the Health Sciences in diabetes and kidney-related subjects from 1976-1985. She published numerous research papers in her scientific fields between 1960-2001.
Dr. Makoff co-founded Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences (one of the leading preparatory schools in Los Angeles) in 1970 and was its director for the school's three critical start-up years. While at Crossroads, and in subsequent positions, Dr. Makoff counseled hundreds of teens and parents. She served on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Families of Blind Children, and as the Chairperson of the Southern California Affiliate of the National Kidney Foundation and its Patient Services Community Education Committee. She is founding publisher of iKidney.com, an advice, information and support Web site for kidney disease patients worldwide. She is Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. She is on the Board of Directors of Wildwood School in Los Angeles.
In 1983, Dr. Makoff founded R&D Laboratories to develop, market and distribute specialty pharmaceutical products for the renal (kidney) disease market. She went on to receive numerous awards/honors as Chairperson, President and CEO of R&D Laboratories and became a popular speaker at scientific and professional conferences worldwide, and a career advisor of many women. There have been very few female CEO's in the pharmaceutical industry. R&D Laboratories made both the "Inc. 500" and California "Fastest 50 Technology Companies" lists during the late-1990s. The Southern California Women's Referral Service gave Dr. Makoff the "Entrepreneur-Business Woman of the Year" award in 2000.
In October 2000, Dr. Makoff sold R&D Laboratories to a public pharmaceutical company, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She grew the company from a startup to sale without venture capital. Among other activities, Dr. Makoff played a physician in Steven Spielberg's hit movie "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial." She is an avid mountain climber and, in 1993 (at the age of 56), completed the climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Dr. Makoff has been married for 48 years to Dr. Dwight Makoff, a physician. Dr. Makoff has four grown children and eight grandchildren.
Jeffrey Makoff, Esq. (Rhoda Makoff's oldest child) was born in Los Angeles in 1961. He was educated at St. Augustine-By-The-Sea Episcopal Day School, Crossroads School, Palisades High School and received his B.A. from U.C.L.A. cum laude in 1981 (Political Science, emphasizing India and Southeast Asia). During his sophomore year, Mr. Makoff was an exchange student in Ahmedabad, India where he studied at an institute for non-violence that was founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920. Mr. Makoff received his J.D. degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1985. Mr. Makoff is a member of the California and District of Columbia bars. Mr. Makoff practiced law at the international firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Los Angeles from 1985-1992. In 1992, Mr. Makoff formed a "boutique" advisory and litigation firm with his wife, Charlotte Makoff, Esq. The firm started with no clients and by 1997 its practice included media companies, financial services companies and prominent individuals. Makoffs LLP (www.makoffs.com) advises executives and businesses on a wide variety of legal, business and personal issues.
Beyond the law, Mr. Makoff has counseled countless people through financial crises, job turmoil and dislocation, medical problems and marital problems. While some of this counseling had its roots in a lawyer-client relationship, Mr. Makoff often is consulted by other professionals, persons who have been referred, friends, and friends-of-friends, on serious issues. Mr. Makoff was a long-term advisor of R&D Laboratories, Inc., and a key member of the team that negotiated its merger in 2000.
Mr. Makoff is the founding co-Chairman and CEO of DigitalCustom Group, Inc. DigitalCustom Group is an international creative services company that provides custom digital photo editing services. DigitalCustom's unique consumer service, Image-Edit & Art, has won wide recognition including a "First Class" accolade from Wired magazine. Like Rhoda Makoff, Mr. Makoff has contributed to public education about kidney disease. Mr. Makoff was the original creator of iKidney.com, one of the world's leading online kidney disease communities and information sources. Mr. Makoff's production company, Poetic Media, Inc., developed and published Lori Hartwell's Chronically Happy: Joyful Living In Spite of Chronic Illness.
Mr. Makoff and his wife of 21 years have two children.
Suggested Interview Questions for
1. Your book is about making big decisions. What is a big decision?
ANSWER: A big decision is a choice that's going to transform your life. Obvious ones involve marriage and family, career, health and education. There are many others -- life support decisions for a parent, abortion, starting a business, single parenthood, coming out as gay, doing a substance abuse intervention, living organ donation and finding a birth parent if you're adopted.
2. What are typical problems that people have when they face a big decision?
ANSWER: It is hard for many people to make life changing decisions. It's unfamiliar territory, and many big decisions are made when you are pretty young. For some people the issues are emotional, such as when fear is a barrier. Fear of being a failure is common. Fear of financial ruin or homelessness is common. Other people have difficulty with information. They don't know who or what to rely on, or they use information to justify a choice rather than to make it. People also have trouble identifying the real choice they need to make. They focus on minor issues to avoid the stress of making a major choice. Everyone has his or her own approach to big decisions. Almost everyone has both strengths and weaknesses as a decision maker. Our book helps people harness their strengths as decision makers and overcome weaknesses.
3. How does Get Off the Fence! help readers make better big decisions?
ANSWER: Get Off the Fence! shows readers how great decisions are made. We look at everything - emotion, intuition, advice of friends and family, timing, and show where it fits into the decision. The book helps non-expert decision makers understand what they are going through and how to improve it.
4. What made you write a book about making big decisions?
ANSWER: After spending many years in business, education and law, and participating in thousands of big decisions, we wanted to share what we'd learned with people who don't make big decisions every day. The book is totally pragmatic. We chose the hardest life decisions, and many true stories, to illustrate each point. We wanted to write something that was accessible to consumers with advice that readers can apply immediately. We hear from a lot of readers that the book helped them understand their own past decisions as well as current ones.
5. Your book sets out "10+1 steps" for a big decision. What are the 10? What is the "+1."
ANSWER: The "10 Steps" are the steps that great decision makers use to make tough decisions. We present them in a way that readers can readily grasp. We include plenty of "mental hooks" that readers can keep in mind about decisions. The "+1" is intuition. When people make big decisions they may experience thoughts that aren't totally rational. People have dreams and gut instincts, messages come from prayer and nowhere. The book defines intuition and shows how intuition plays a very important role in both personal and business decisions.
6. Is this book for helping you in your personal life or is it a business book to help you with your career?
ANSWER: It's a book that applies to all parts of life. Both of us have strong business credentials and experience but this book is meant to help you make decisions in your personal life as well.
7. If you could give people just one piece of advice to improve their decisions, what would it be?
ANSWER: If we have to choose it would be: Get good information. If people were better at identifying good information, a lot fewer mistakes would be made. Know what you don't know. Know who is biased and just trying to sell you something. Don't make false assumptions. Don't get advice from sources that aren't qualified. No matter how good your decisions skills are, bad information feeds bad decisions.
8. What advice would you give parents about how to teach their kids to make better life choices?
ANSWER: Teach your children that their life is defined by their values and deeds, and that good decisions will advance their lives and bring them joy. Show them how to manage situations and problems, rather than just respond or cope. Learn how to channel your emotions and passions into positive conduct, then show your children how to do the same thing . Emphasize that the best things in life are obtained by making long-term decisions and taking their personal choices seriously.
9. What is a great decision?
ANSWER: A great decision is one you can accept for the rest of your life. This doesn't mean that you did exactly the right thing, or that it turned out 100% right. But on looking back, you feel that you made the best decision that you could given your circumstances at the time. Of course, there may be regrets whenever a decision doesn't work out -- even if it was the right choice at the time. The worst decisions, though, are the ones where you say "I never should have made that choice. I blew it."
10. Sometimes you hear about how a person made a decision with intuition. Where does intuition fit into making a very important decision?
ANSWER: Intuition occurs when information bypasses your rational faculties and goes directly to you. Many intuitions sort of pop up. It is critical to study your intuitions. Sometimes intuitions are thoughts that we need to know. Good decision makers study their intuitions to understand them. Sometimes you follow them, sometimes not. Intuitions may be dead wrong, or absolutely right. The key questions to answer are "Why do I have this intuition?" and "What is it trying to tell me?"
11. How about emotions? Big decisions should be unemotional and based on the cold hard facts, right?
ANSWER: Wrong. There's a lot of confusion about emotion in decision making. Many people think emotion is bad. This leads to a lot of denial. You make a decision for largely emotional reasons, then come up with arguments to support it. Even worse, if you manage to take emotion out of the picture, you find yourself without the will to carry out the decision. Emotion is like every other important factor in a decision. You need to find your emotions, consider them and work them into your thinking. Especially if you are the one who will carry out a decision, the question "How do I feel about this decision?" is critical.
12. Get Off the Fence! has many true stories about people who made very difficult choices, such as turning off life support or coming out as gay. How did you find these people and choose the stories?
ANSWER: When we got the word out that we were writing about big decisions, many people came forward and wanted to share what they had been through. We didn't simplify the stories or try to make them perfect illustrations. Big decisions aren't simple. We laid it out so that the reader could experience the process.
13. Do you make decisions using the 10+1 steps?
ANSWER: Absolutely, although many of the steps have become second nature through experience with certain situations and decision making in general. It might take us a few minutes to work through most of the steps, when a less experienced person might take weeks or months.
14. Are people born good or bad decision makers, or is it something you learn during life?
ANSWER: It's mostly learned. And people evolve. You see many examples of people who go through periods of poor judgment, then develop into much better decision makers sometimes with the help of a mentor. The opposite happens too. Some people with every natural advantage and training develop bad judgment. Given the choice, we would take good decision skills over natural advantages every time. When a person has poor decision skills, even the strongest natural advantages will just go to waste.
PERSONAL FOR RHODA (AGE 65):
Question: What's your life plan now that you are a senior citizen and retired?
ANSWER: The way I see it, once you are on Medicare and retired, your life is not going to improve. The range of things you can do will decrease, rather than increase. For example, I no longer high altitude climb. I have parents in their 90's, so I might be around awhile. I see more decisions I will make regarding quality of life at each decade, how I want to use my resources so I am comfortable. These are very different decisions than when I was younger. A major decision is when to discontinue driving. My mother still drives. My father-in-law drove into his 90's. I'm not sure this is a good thing, even if the people are sound of mind, yet it appears to be a major decision of older people, emotionally loaded, and in some cases, life changing if they have no alternative mode of transportation. The decisions always keep changing.
PERSONAL FOR JEFF (AGE 42):
Question: You're right in the years that some people call mid-life transition. How do you see your own big decisions at this point and in the future?
ANSWER: In your forties, you start moving away from the endless youthful possibilities reflected in the question "Who do I want to be?" toward a more finite "What did I become?" You watch your childhood idols grow old and die, and your own time becomes a larger factor. A lot of decisions that people make in their forties are done to avoid regrets. It's easy to write off mid-life changes as a "crisis," but many mid-life changes are made to avoid a crisis - a future of regrets. You live a long time after 40, so we could be talking 40 years of a job you detest or a bad marriage. People who feel "stuck" in their forties are miserable and will seize any opportunity to get unstuck, even a bad opportunity. I've always tried to look ahead and make sure I don't get stuck in the first place. I try to plan 5-7 years in advance. If I anticipate that I will want to be in a different place in 5 years, I will get there if I start now. I've made a major career change every 7 years or so. I have been married for 22 years to the same person, but I work hard to make sure our relationship always evolves. Complacency is the worst thing that can happen to a marriage. It's important not to stop trying to figure out what makes your partner happy.
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