Defining Success: Deena Goodman


With a professional background in Public Relations, Acting and Clinical Social Work, Deena Goodman, LCSW, CPCC combines her expertise to deliver values-driven coaching across industries to entrepreneurs and  executives alike working on electrifying their executive presence, establishing a sense of fulfillment professionally and personally and delivering with unforgettable impact.

Deena has a passion for understanding human behavior, exploring the human experience and helping humans manifest insightful change. Deena has extensive experience and knowledge in the fields of women’s leadership development, executive presence, influencing without authority, and assessment. Deena has worked with executives in the world of Real Estate, Finance, Media, Tech and Pharmaceuticals.

Also a psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan, Deena treats Adolescents, Young Adults and Families dealing with a variety of life issues and remains driven by the resilience that she witnesses in her patients on a daily basis.

A member of the International Coaching Federation and the National Association of Social Workers, Deena received her BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, her Masters in Social Work from New York University and her Coaching Certification from The Coaches Training Institute. Deena is also certified in the Hogan Assessment. Deena resides in Manhattan with her dog, Charley and lives for live music, theater and cycling.

How do you define success?

Failing, picking up pieces, learning from error, gaining insight, owning strengths and flaws, a willingness to reevaluate and always trying again.

How do you measure your own success?

That is a tough one for me. Like many of us, I unfortunately find myself living in the land of “shoulda woulda coulda” and “it’s never enough.” I am continuing to reevaluate the way I analyze and assess my professional and personal success. I think measuring and then owning my success are directly connected and are also ever evolving. Right now I focus on maintaining a willingness to redefine, reassess, remain vulnerable and follow through. In terms of measuring my success with clients, when a client reveals new insight, makes a behavior or life pattern change or expresses a clear sense of value and self love, I know that together we have succeeded. I will also say on a superficial level that affording a life of comfort through means derived from work that is meaningful and feels nothing like work is major success in my book.

How does success feel?

Success feels powerful, exciting and fulfilling. When I have a successful moment with a client in session, I feel a sense of pride, fulfillment and also wonder at the client’s capacity to change. When I experience personal success or growth I feel a sense of excitement and increased levels of confidence. When I nail down a new personal or corporate client I feel a healthy hunger for more, I am inspired and motivated and extremely hopeful!

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

The idea of success is something I surely grapple with as someone who carries a lost dream in tow, which means as opposed to success I have found myself quite familiar with feelings of failure. As a child and adolescent I dreamed very wildly and freely of being a singer and an actress and a great big star. I pursued this dream until my mid twenties with some success when a series of events, choices, mistakes and a fragile ego led me to give up this dream, perhaps too soon. I continued to work on the business side of music and events until I moved to my third career - Social Work. I thought for sure a career that would mirror my life drive to help people would only be fulfilling and yet finding success working with a high-risk population of adolescents left the ‘success bar’ low. And that is actually what I have learned about feeling successful.

I think through all three careers I expected success to feel huge and be reflected by a huge reward or a grand level of attention or impact. I missed the small but so relevant moments of success along the way. You quickly learn as a Social Worker to measure expectations of success and to celebrate the small moments of progress, for yourself and your patients, as opposed to waiting for a grand and sometimes impossible result.

I am still learning what feeling successful means to me, at one time it meant hitting a high note with clarity and perfection, it meant landing a meaningful moment in a scene, it meant applause or a sold out show at Joe’s Pub, it was writing my first song. Then success became connecting people to one another, getting a whole bunch of people in a room to rally around a band I believed in, seeing a massive paycheck at the end of the night and knowing I made it by throwing a party where people laughed and danced. Staying up til the sun came up with creative hearts and souls. That felt like success.

Success is different for me now and sometimes it leaves me feeling downright unsuccessful, because the rush that comes with my current successes is less and the moments of success are not necessarily clear or pleasant. So- when was the last time I felt truly successful? I suppose it was today, when a new client told me that, no matter what, she wanted to figure out how to afford continued services because she hasn’t found it easy to talk to a therapist and today she found it easy to talk to me.

I didn’t hit a high note, there was no applause and I didn’t get to make my pre-rehearsed Grammy speech, but there was success for me in providing a space for someone to feel comfortable and then allowing myself to take that moment in as a quietly glorious moment. And then I got on the 1 train and went home.

How do you celebrate your success?

Truly? An attempt at internal acknowledgment and a celebratory cocktail.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Work on what you cannot live without. When it gets hard and you feel shitty or you actually are shitty at what it is you are working on and you think that all is lost, sit in that, feel it, notice it, and get the fuck up and keep going.

Don’t listen to anyone else, not even your darkest internal critic. Don’t give up. Accommodate, learn, change, grow, modify. But don’t give up. You carry that loss for longer than the pain you find yourself in trying to achieve your end goal.

Oh, and avoid the Facebook shame spiral to the best of your ability - compare yourself to no one. And drop the whole end goal concept and love your moment. Trust me. Then you will be successful.


Twitter@deenagoodman | Instagram@deenagoodman |