MIKE JAFFE, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER
MBA, BCC, CLPC
Mike Jaffe is president and founder of SAVIA Leadership, a global leadership development firm that unlocks the potential of individuals and teams through conscious communication, experiential learning and transformational conversations. He approaches every relationship as a trusted partner and is committed to building a culture of leadership in organizations.
Also a nationally-recognized speaker, executive coach and best-selling author, Mike has appeared as a featured expert on CNN and Fox News, and has been published and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, MSN, CNBC, US News & World Report, Crain’s NY Business, Entrepreneur Magazine Radio and other national and regional media outlets.
Mike’s programs have impacted business results for industry leaders such as BuzzFeed, FreewheelTV (a Comcast Company), Birchbox, Starbucks, PepsiCo, FanDuel, Dashlane, Disney Interactive, GE Capital, Glaxo Smith-Kline, Pernod Ricard, and other companies ranging from the Fortune 500 to small businesses.
Prior to founding his company, Mike’s career experience includes business consulting, strategic planning, new product development, and client retention and loyalty for major global players such as American Express, Marsh and McLennan and JP Morgan Chase. He earned his MBA in Management and Marketing from New York University and his BBA in Management and Finance from SUNY Albany.
My WakeUp Call – The Day I Woke Up and Started Living
My story reminds people that life is a gift and every day counts. It’s time to wake up to the fact that none of us have endless tomorrows, even though we might be living as if we do. Contrary to the frequent fear-driven messages we hear, this is a lesson of finding the possibility for change, then pursuing it. It’s the small, consistent changes we make that lead to big differences.
Like so many others, during my career I never played a very active role in where I headed. The promotions and job changes were spaced out well enough to give me the illusion of progress, but in reality, I simply ‘floated down the river’ letting life take me from one place to another. None of it truly felt like it was my ‘right’ work. I was not really happy, but moderately comfortable.
Then, one day when I was in my thirties, the ‘river’ I was floating in took me to another Fortune 500 company and I found myself in yet another j-o-b. Great people, the work was fine but yet again, it didn’t feel like it tied into something more meaningful for me (even though I had no idea what that would be). I had just moved to Connecticut from New York City and the new office was all the way in downtown Manhattan, increasing my commute from 25 minutes to more than two hours each way! Each morning my wife would drive me to the train station with our one-year-old daughter sleeping in back, tucked sweetly into her car seat. I would come home each night and my little girl would be exactly as I left her, asleep in the backseat as my wife waited in the parking lot for my train to arrive. Days would go by where I wouldn’t see her awake at all. Children look peaceful while sleeping, but seeing her mostly in that state started to remind me that this was not the kind of parent I wanted to be, absent from her waking world.
I soon found myself wishing away my weekdays, hoping for each one to finish sooner than the clock would allow, in favor of the weekend and time – awake! – with my family. I realized that my work felt unimportant to me yet AGAIN, I felt out of place AGAIN, and I didn’t know what to do about it. My wife was taking care of our daughter and upkeep on our new home so I was the sole financial provider. However, I didn’t know what would fulfill me and had no direction. So I did what many people in that situation do – nothing. After all, life was just fine… wasn’t it?
Then, one Monday afternoon, I was sitting outside my office having lunch. It was a beautiful late summer day in New York where the sky was a stunning cerulean blue with not a cloud in sight. As I sat there enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face, I felt more grounded than I had in a long while. I looked up at my office building and was overcome by the sense that somehow it controlled my life. I realized at that moment that I HAD to make a change… even if it was a small change. A new intention was born.
This time had to be different! I had to take action. So, I decided that the next morning, instead of rushing to catch the early train in keeping with my new morning ritual, I would take a later train so I could have a nice relaxing breakfast with my wife and (awake) daughter. I remember smiling at the thought thinking this was a good first step. Not a big step, but at least a new beginning. One of the most important lessons I realized from that small decision was that nothing would change until I changed it. It was clear that I would never FIND the time. I had to CREATE it!
The next morning my wife, surprised to see that I was already dressed and ready to go, asked quizzically, “I thought you were taking the later train today?” She asked me whether we were still having breakfast together or if she should drive me to the station so I could make my normal train. Little did I know, at that moment, I was standing at the crossroads of my life and my answer to that innocent question would determine my fate.
The chatter in my head started: “Do I just take the early train and have breakfast together another day? Will my daughter even be aware that we’re having breakfast? Do I risk going in late? Will I get in trouble at work? I’ve only been there a few months, can I even do this?” But then I had a moment of truth and my true values came forth to guide me, stirring something inside me and stopping my hesitation. “No,” I said to her. “The whole point of the morning was to have breakfast together, so let’s have breakfast together. I’ll catch the next train.” It was a simple declaration; as innocent a decision as if made on any other day of my life.
So we spent some wonderful time together having breakfast in our small dining room. It was another beautiful morning and I looked at my family and just smiled. I had known my wife since we met on a Junior High School trip to Quebec in 9th grade and I knew the moment I saw her that she was the “one”. Here we were 18 years later and I was living the reality of my dreams. Life was good!
She dropped me off and I took the train into New York City’s Grand Central Station, smiling the whole way. I’m sure I looked out of place among the cranky faces of so many other commuters who were beaten down by the many hours they had spent getting in and out of the city at such a cost. But nothing could bother me that day – I felt I had some control of my life! It felt great!
I got on the subway, and instead of being in my office, I was underground at 8:45am when the first plane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, into my floor, hitting my desk. Most of the members of my group were up there when it happened, including my boss and team. The morning I had breakfast with my family just happened to be September 11, 2001.
So now you see why I feel compelled to share my story with you and why I recreated my career to serve as a WakeUp Call for others – so you don’t have to experience a tragedy or a near miss to wake up to the possibility of your life. So you stop drifting downstream looking back at your life asking ‘why?’ and instead turn around to look forward and say, ‘What now? Where do I want to go?’ So you and the many thousands of people I now work with can stop ‘losing’ precious days.
In many ways my life began anew the day before that memorable day in September, but not for the reason that you may think. Most people believe that it was my close brush with death that changed my outlook on life. Yet my feeling of being alive and having control over my life spread a smile over my face long before I arrived to see my office engulfed in flames. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t die on September 11, but instead the reality that I had already begun living on September 10.
In the simple act of choosing a small step toward my larger goal, I had turned myself around to face downstream and take responsibility for the direction in my life. Sometimes we give in to the illusion that we have no control over our lives. Yet small decisions can make big differences in your life. Do you realize that life is a gift and every single day counts? You don’t have endless tomorrows and the ‘some day’ you are waiting for may never come.
I gave up my comfortable corporate life and chose what for me is a harder road. Today I am a speaker, executive coach and leadership development expert, sharing my message and empowering others. I have been blessed to have impacted people across the US, in Canada, Europe, and China. I love my family and my life as much as ever (including my son who has since been born.) Now, I even love my work! How can you live any other way?
If you feel that you are not living the life you’re meant to live, it’s time to find one small thing you can do to move your life in another direction. You may have continued down uninspired paths because you were simply stuck or afraid or uncertain of how to break this powerful spell. But if you can find one thing to change, one thing that makes you feel more alive, then you must do it.
September 10th was a day that looked just like any other day. That day was my wake-up call. Today is yours! Today is that ‘someday’ you’ve been waiting for. Ready to get started?
Note: My story is included in my book, “Wake Up! Your Life is Calling.” Click here to get the book.
Meet the team
You couldn't be in better hands
Sabrina is an entrepreneur dedicated to supporting people’s shifts in consciousness, communication and community, as they navigate the intricacies of leading, growing, or starting a business or creative endeavor. She is an artist, spiritual seeker, avid traveler and humble student of the people and cultures of our world.
In 2005 Sabrina and Mike Jaffe co-founded the Mike Jaffe Company (which was renamed to SAVIA Leadership in 2019), a global leadership development firm that unlocks the potential of individuals and teams through conscious communication, experiential learning and transformational conversations. Through a carefully selected team of coaches, facilitators and change agents, they deliver high-impact training and development programs and executive coaching to some of the country’s fastest growing companies.
During a 9-year career with Coach Inc., Sabrina held several positions including Director of International Sales, responsible for developing Coach’s wholesale business worldwide. She also began her own consulting business, Sabrina Jaffe LLC, which provided independent retailers and start-ups with expertise in sales, marketing, merchandising and product development.
Sabrina earned an MBA in Management from Fordham University and a BBA in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Currently she facilitates leadership circles for women that provide a structure for each woman to tune into her inner values and self-expression, and bring her gifts forward into the community and the world. She is proud to sit on the board of an international non-profit dedicated to empowering women and girls worldwide.
Jaime joined SAVIA Leadership in 2015 and is currently the Director of Client Services focusing on Client and Business Management. Her ability to manage a multitude of tasks in a fast-paced environment with complex moving parts is where she thrives.
Jaime is also the Director of Events for Berkshire Corporate Retreats, a division of SAVIA Leadership, which helps teams transform the way they interact, communicate and perform through powerfully facilitated, customized retreats in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.
Jaime received her Associates in Liberal Arts and is currently pursuing her B.S. in Business Administration with a focus on Organizational Behavior and Leadership. She is a Certified Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument Neuroscience Practitioner, Licensed Director, and Accredited Teacher
Jaime is civically engaged in her communities. Her volunteer work includes active participation on several youth and advisory boards. She is self-motivated, an avid athlete, coach, traveler, and above all, passionate about her family. She prides herself on continual personal and professional growth, constantly challenging herself daily with the mantra “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing”-Audre Lorde