When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Some might believe this is a cliche. Truism or not, these lines could not have been more accurate in describing my encounter with Shawn Athanasios and my weekly sessions with him. Not a youngster, in fact quite a few years older than this mentor, I had reached a crossroads in my professional and, in some ways, personal life. A college friend of long ago, who found himself in a similar situation, recommended I contact JAAS Coaching. I did not know what a career coach was. I had all kinds of preconceived ideas. I thought JAAS Coaching would help me get my resume together to transition from my present job of 25 years, which it was clear I was about to lose.
These naive expectations could not have been further from the truth. From the beginning, I would work in weekly sessions that included demanding mental and physical exercises. I would come to understand why I interact with my environment and others as I do. The implicit and then stated goals were nothing short of a full-fledged personal transformation. Things that I vaguely knew to be true were skillfully drawn out of me with great clarity, to examine, but more–to feel. To enlighten. To dream. Shawn was essential in putting me on the path to new dreams, new expectations, new realities. These are not pipe dreams or the meaningless spewings from a smokestack. These new dreams, expectations, and realities are grounded in universal principals.
Since I am not a fast learner, I gradually came to grasp the interconnection between mind and body, and the even less-tangible connection between mind and soul–to find the Real Me; to point this new person in the right direction. Lest this sound like one of those makeover shows on TV, let me emphasize the process is arduous and far from complete. But change, Shawn points out, is not difficult. It is a challenge. My JAAS Coaching sessions changed my views of myself as well as my career path. As William Carlos Williams wrote, “A new world is only a new mind.” Shawn Athanasios is not a cheerleader. A Buddhist, which I was not and am not, Shawn is a vital teacher who works with sensitivity with one’s innermost talents. These are the talents and positive qualities one does not even know are there, even, as in my case, after more than a half-century of living with oneself. A lot of baggage is checked at the door. For me, Shawn and the mission of JAAS Coaching are the best. I plan to sign up for another session.
Effective Public Speaking Testimonials
I just wanted to thank you for a great semester, but more importantly for positively impacting my life. I began to describe how you and your class influenced me in my speech but I feel as though I didn’t get to explain fully. Very rarely do I leave a class having been changed to the extent that my every day life and thinking is transformed in an enlightening way. I grew up with health struggles and much anxiety that created fear for loss and failure. I always feared anxiety. Whether you intended to or not, whether it was something specific or not, you personally made me more comfortable with anxiety and trusting in myself. It almost sounds ridiculous that I am claiming in 14 weeks one person changed my outlook on life but I really believe it to be true. You showed me that anxiety is not a bad thing, but a natural and useful thing. Now, I no longer fear it. I take it like a man. It’s okay to be sad sometimes. Overall your class made me a more satisfied and happy person. I am not only more confident in my public speaking, but in my existence and in my ability to conquer anything. Thank you for this. I don’t want to belabor everything so I hope you realize the extent to which you positively impacted my life. I will definitely take your class and its lessons with me for years to come. Again, thanks for everything. Also, thank you for accommodating me with Jewish holidays etc. Whether you know how you did it or not, you helped me, so may you continue to do what you do the way you do it, and may you continue changing the lives of kids. Isaac Kassin
This course is by far the best, most productive, most engaging, most thought-provoking class I’ve taken in my time at NYU. It has undoubtedly changed the way I not only speak in public, but how I communicate with other people (peers, friends, adults, professors) on a daily basis. The fact that it doesn’t count as a Field of Study class anymore is simply a travesty. When I asked my adviser why it was removed from the list of Field of Study courses, she told me it was because the mission of the Media, Culture, & Communication department is to provide an academic and theoretical understanding of communication, and this class was more focused on developing practical skills. While I did learn how to practically give a good speech in this class, I also learned the cognitive and social causes behind what makes a speech resonate with an audience. If that isn’t academic, I don’t know what is. Put simply, this class is too amazing to be just an elective. I feel like a better person having taken it. Carolyn Marie Boyce
Professor Athanasios changed the way that I think about communication. Really, his guidance impacted me that strongly. The learning environment he created was accepting, encouraging, and critical in the very best way. He always looks for a way to improve the communicative understanding of his students, both superficially, with the discipline of public speaking, and more deeply, within the realm of human-human interaction. I would take any other class he taught in a heartbeat. Professor Athanasios taught me skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life. But more than that, he gave me a new perspective on what it means to communicate effectively. I think that’s pretty significant. Anonymous
The inability to speak publicly can be crippling, particularly for those hoping to enter the business world. To be able to deliver a powerful and moving speech effectively however can make all difference between being mediocre and being successful. More than that though, learning how to be a great public speaker can make you a more confidant person and help you to discover many surprising and wonderful things about yourself. These are just some of the things I learned when I had the privilege of taking Professor Athanasios’ Public Speaking class at NYU. Anonymous
Shawn Athanasios is a life-changing teacher. He didn’t just teach the basic tenets of public speaking, because anyone can do that. He taught me how to find passion within myself and translate that into persuasive, informative, and moving speeches. During a mere semester of seeing Shawn two times a week, even the most timid student was speaking with vigor and confidence. Shawn teaches his students how to be real, how to be successful, and how to give speeches that will be remembered. If you want to learn public speaking, if you want to learn how to be more confident and self-assured, or if you just want to learn how to move people, Shawn Athanasios is your man. I am a better public speaker and person for having taken his class. Bridget Freihart
Professor Athanasios has an obvious love of teaching and his personal investment in both his subject (public speaking) and his students, and the energy he is willing to devote to see his pupils succeed is refreshing. Personally, I have seen a marked growth in my own public speaking skills – both the way I approach the idea of public speaking itself and the execution of speech-making. As one who came into Professor Athanasios’ class considering myself a relatively strong public speaker, I have seen my assumed strengths blossom into something even greater – he has instilled in me the values of passion, true confidence, and commitment to both my speech and my audience – qualities that often slip through the cracks for many speakers capable of giving a “fine” speech. Professor Athanasios has demonstrated his ability to communicate these values to a group of students that is quite diverse in age, interests, and public speaking experience. I very much enjoyed watching the entire group grow further into poised, engaging public speakers. I have no doubt that every student in his class, myself included of course, have finished the course being better for having taken it.”
Executive Coaching Testimonials
“Working with Shawn helped me to set goals and priorities for my life. Through meetings with him I was able to better define these goals and begin taking action towards accomplishing them. I would highly recommend JAAS Coaching to anyone who is looking to make a change in his life.”
Shawn Athanasios is part shaman, part fix-it man, and part common sense coach. When I first met him, I had the raw materials to have a successful Astrology Business, but very little motivation or organization. It was Shawn’s uncanny mix of intuition and honest, appropriate pressure that helped me to move toward my potential. It was his personal style of opening me up with the right information at the right time that enabled me to put together a realistic, concretized vision and a practical plan of action for my business and my life. I began with Shawn in January of 2005, by the end of the year, I had an activated Consulting business complete with a website and a client queue of over 20 people. The road to this goal was not easy. Life isn’t easy – and frankly, I had a problem with that. By helping me activate my business goals, Shawn affected my life goals. That is the power of JAAS Coaching’s holistic approach.
Making things happen for myself is one of the biggest lessons I learned while working with Shawn. He did not do the work for me, I had to do it for myself and he assisted in helping me clarify my vision. I was sort of feeling depressed when I first starting working with Shawn because I had been fired from a job and my self-esteem was low. I was also 50lbs overweight, which caused me to overly self-critical. It is not like Shawn ever said lose weight, but I did not feel good about myself while 50lbs overweight and he didn’t let me ignore that reality. I am not saying that I didn’t have obstacles along the way, I just learned how to deal with the obstacles for the first time. I have a new zest for life and I feel so much better about myself and what I am able to accomplish.
I was introduced to Shawn and JAAS Coaching by a friend and worked with him from August of 2004 till June of 2005. While I had some ideas about what I wanted to do with my life, Shawn really helped to clarify for myself what my passions are. From there we were able to create a plan that had these passions as the source of what motivated my goals. Shawn helped me cultivate and get to the source of what was blocking me and my life now is more structured, balanced, and creative than it has ever been. I learned how to actually make calculated risks in order to get the most out of my choices. After not painting for years, I have created a plan to include a new career, which includes writing children’s books and illustrating them myself. I have a new job that I love, started dating again and created the possibility of getting married and having children, and lost 35 pounds. Working with Shawn and JAAS Coaching has given me clarity, direction, and the courage to create my life and be responsible for it no matter what it looks like.
Career Consulting Testimonials
I found out a couple days ago that I got the internship I interviewed for the day after we met to discuss my resume. They said they were looking for a senior (which I’m not) but that they were all (I met with 4 different people) so impressed with my interviews that they decided I was best for the position. Thank you for your help, your class taught me a lot of practical interviewing skills.
When Professor Athanasios asked the class what their three motivations in life were, I shuddered because the job I currently had satisfied none of these. I think I had become so consumed with becoming successful and making money that in the process I had lost myself. In fact, I was so moved by what he said to me that day, that I gave my two weeks notice at work and then consequently decided to pursue my dream of becoming a dentist. Although I knew deep down that this is what I always wanted, it took the support and guidance of Professor Athanasios for me to finally come to terms with something I had known all along and for this I will forever be grateful that I was fortunate enough to cross paths with him as one of my NYU Professors. Marietta Fokas, New Dentist Student!
Professor Athanasios, I want to thank you for encouraging me to pursue my “out there” dream. I sat down to write a story today, and it hit me why I really write. My reason is similar to the one that you gave in class, when we were discussing our reasons for choosing our career paths. I’m also afraid. Whenever I finish writing a story, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do it again. So I guess I write to prove that I can. Thank you for everything. Cattleya M Concepcion
I was a senior student in the October-December 2003 section of your interviewing strategies class. I enjoyed the course immensely, and I wanted to let you know that it has been invaluable to my career success. After spending about a month and a half looking for jobs prior to graduation (and using every bit of information and advice you offered throughout the course) I was offered three positions in may, all in my industry of choice and at good salaries. I was actually able to choose which job I wanted! Thank you so much for all your help and the enthusiasm you brought to the course. I especially found the resume-building tasks and interview advice (questions to ask, verbal and nonverbal cues to be conscious of, etc) most helpful, and I have passed on your lessons to numerous others. Please know that your efforts have had an exponential positive and successful effect. Cara Gouldey
Dear Professor Athanasios, I don’t know if you remember me, but I was in your class for the first half of this semester. I chose Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (law firm) as the position I was aiming for, and immediately after our last class, I received a voice message from the manager for their corporate paralegal department! To make a long story short, I interviewed, got the job and I start in July! Thanks for all your help and good luck with the rest of the semester.
Personal Development Testimonials
I’ve thought about my process with Shawn Athanasios, and try as I may, I still cannot describe it exactly. What takes place in this process is beyond the mere meeting of two minds. Think if you will, of the possibility of bringing a friend along through your own personal dreamscape, on an adventure of discovery and rediscovery. This imagery, perhaps, can begin to describe the magic.
Fanny Ferreira – Writer
Shawn taught me how to improve myself in so many ways: from shedding my old beliefs, changing my attitude regarding others around me, to ridding myself of the baggage that was holding me back and keeping me from being productive and working towards my goals on a consistent, and daily basis. Shawn also encouraged me to keep a journal as he emphasized the need to continuously write down on paper what it is that I wanted to create with total clarity. Finally, Shawn reminded me that this daily vision and desire for success, is the key to the attainment of the goal.
Shawn is a wonderful force in anyone’s life. His non-judgmental attitude makes it possible to get help when you need it and remain positive about where you are and where you want to be.
Maggie Maes, Artistic Director, Actors Loft Theatre Co.