By Barbara Laskin, President, Laskin Media


What you have to keep in mind, whether you’ve been out of the work force for one month or one year, is that employers are looking at you “as part of a team.” Unless you are their only employee—you will join a team that already exists. So, you want to display character traits that show “you can get along.”

You also want to be memorable, and impressive. After all, most potential employees are not hired on the spot. They are hired upon reflection, after many other interviewees have come and gone. They are hired after references are checked and sometimes, after a second and third interview. Your goal, then, is to catapult yourself to the top of the heap. How do you do that?

Prepare like a reporter

One of the ways is to prepare for the interview meticulously….as if a reporter was interviewing you. As a former TV anchor and reporter myself, I encourage my clients to take a page out of media training. Find out about the company you want to work for. Today, with the Internet, that’s a cinch. While employers are looking for many things in a new employee, the one thing that never fails to impress them is a potential employee’s knowledge about their company. You should, however, keep your digging low-key. You don’t want to come across like an FBI-profiler…but a few knowledgeable tidbits will go a long way.

How else can you become “the one?” There are several ways to leave a lasting impression: and they all involve communication. Time is money for these people. So, those who can tell their story briefly and effectively are more valuable, and hire-worthy, than those who can’t. Take the time to know your own story…your background, education, work experience; be able to tell it effortlessly. If there are noticeable “blemishes”…like a work gap, a firing, or very few references, find reasonable responses for those questions marks. Honesty is the best policy. Ask some key questions yourself. But most of all, listen carefully. And don’t be a blabbermouth. No body wants to hear someone talking all the time. Instead, keep your responses brief and focused.

Powerful and Positive

Finally—there’s personal style. We all know that hiring someone is a very personal decision. You may be the greatest candidate ever—and still not get the job. I always think if that happens—it was probably not the job for you anyway. There WILL be another opportunity. And that brings me to positive thinking. There is no substitute for a positive outlook and an energetic and captivating delivery style. Your posture should be straight, your voice…easy-to-listen-to, and your facial expression, upbeat and enthusiastic. You need to come prepared, polished and professional. Your outfit doesn’t have to be couture, just neat and clean. You need to stay positive—no matter what. And if you don’t get the job this time—you will the next time.

Next-wave job counselors are eager for the coming layoffs.

By Sarah Bernard

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Grant Shannon, the founder of the Merrill Adams employment firm, makes his living by helping people find jobs, but he prefers to view his behind-the-scenes role metaphorically: “Do you know who Al D’Amato’s campaign manager is? No. Do you care? No. We do for our clients what a political-campaign manager does for candidates seeking office. And no one has to know about it.” His colleagues take the comparison very seriously. One recent Monday afternoon at his Rockefeller Center office, while anxious clients gripped the waiting-room furniture, executive vice-president Arthur Schill chatted eagerly with one on the phone. “I’d like to get you in the market very quickly,” he said. “Is there any chance we can get together tomorrow afternoon?” He hung up and leaned forward. “We’re starting her campaign this week.”

If Schill and Shannon seem especially charged up, they’re not alone: These are heady days for people in their line of work. A series of market dips and corporate mergers has left investment houses, banks, and other major New York employers poised for a wave of downsizings. Citibank and Travelers will send as many as 1,000 New Yorkers to the unemployment line; NBC and CBS recently cut 300 positions each.

Downsizing is nothing new, of course, but those experiencing it have a wholly new field of job counselors and consultants at their disposal, one that their pink-slipped predecessors in the early nineties couldn’t have imagined. Not just glorified unemployment offices but an ultrasensitive, full-service self-help industry, offering everything from standard interview coaching to brush-up sessions on table manners and personal grooming. Merrill Adams counselors even subcontract speech therapists for ill-spoken clients.

“Downsizing can be a real opportunity,” explains Jim Oher, of Chappaqua’s Oher & Associates. “But it’s not an opportunity unless you get over the hurt.” He’s speaking of the opportunity for downsizing’s victims. Regarding the opportunity for his consulting firm, he’s confident there will be more than enough business to go around. “At a forum,” he recalls, “this woman asked me if I was upset because there are so many coaches out there. Ultimately, I’m not, because like everything else, you have to satisfy your clients or there will be a consequence.”

Barbara Laskin, a former TV anchor who readies clients for on-camera appearances, has recently expanded her business to include one-on-one confidence-building workshops. She counsels her charges on everything from how to sit (lean forward) to how to listen (attentively) to how to select a suit jacket (something slimming). Laskin expects that her business will see an increase this year, just as it did in the last recession. “There’s a lot of people out there who simply cannot present themselves,” she says. “I had one young woman, a Harvard MBA, who sounded like a mouse. Her voice just didn’t dovetail with her résumé, so we worked on presentation.”

Drake Beam & Morin, which is often hired by major corporations to counsel laid-off workers, offers so many micro-targeted options (like personalized two-page marketing plans and detailed physical critiques), they’ve become a kind of self-improvement boot camp. Joan Oliver, a certified image consultant, gives lessons on body language and lunch interviews. “I remind them the water glass goes on the right and the butter dish is on the left,” she explains.

According to Arnold Brown, a trend analyst and co-author of The Insider’s Guide to the Future, this is just the beginning. In the future, he says, “the idea of free agency is going to move into the business world.” Outplacement agents will become more like talent agents, amassing more power and negotiating deals for clients. The agents seem ready for whatever ethical complexities that development may entail. “Citibank and Travelers laying off thousands of people,” says Oher, taking a pause, “it’s awful. But it is a huge industry.”

“It is sad. But what would be really sad,” adds Alan Kramer of DBM, “is if we weren’t around to help them.”

By Barbara Laskin, President, Laskin Media

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On May 3, 2012, the worst thing that could ever happen to the New York Yankees, happened. Even if you don’t like baseball, or you hate the Yankees, you will acknowledge the revered place both hold in our collective consciousness. Steroids aside, baseball is still America’s sport, and the Yankees are America’s team.

And Mariano Rivera is not just another rich aging athlete. He is the greatest closer of all time. And much more. Rare among celebrities, he is beloved and honored by friends and competitors alike. He is also deeply religious, extraordinarily hard working and takes nothing for granted. He is always polite–even to the media–always grateful, and, despite his athletic prowess, unfailingly humble.

In short, he’s almost too good to be true.

He’s 42 now, is a 13-time All-Star, and has played for the Yankees for an astonishing 18 years.

Actor Richard Gere remarked recently in Gotham Magazine, if you want to know the soul of New York City, all you need to do is go to a Yankees Game and wait for the 9th inning. That’s when the ‘Great Mo’ gallops like a Gazelle the length of the field and the roar of the crowd doesn’t stop until he reaches the mound. “It’s as captivating as the last, lingering note of the Philharmonic” says Gere.

We don’t have many leaders anymore. And fewer heroes. The reason we look for them in sports is because we know how hard athletes work, and how much they sacrifice to compete and play at the highest level. And the reason we love sports is its unpredictability. You never know what’s going to happen!

It’s the best reality entertainment there is.

But back to May 3, 2012. On that horrendous afternoon in Kansas City, hours before game time, Mariano, while throwing or “shagging” balls in the outfield, tore his ACL, a potentially career-ending injury. He was carried off the field by tearful players and his coach. In excruciating

pain, he still managed to tell us what we needed to hear.” I’m not going out like this,” he said. The next day, he didn’t make excuses or evade tough questions.

” If it’s gonna happen like that, at least let it happen doing what I love, you know,” said Rivera, “And shagging, I love to do. If I had to do it over again, I would do it again. No hesitation. There’s reasons why it happens. You have to take it the way it is and fight, fight through it.”

Few public figures speak so eloquently and honorably when confronted with personal disaster. He didn’t need pollsters to tell him what to say.

Rivera has spent a career excelling, without fanfare. Day after day, year after year. He gets the applause he deserves but he conspicuously never seeks it.

He has nurtured countless athletes. It is known in baseball lore that he is completely selfless when it comes to counseling young pitchers.

He is a true mentor. How many of those do you know?

Or are the stories you hear more like this? No one has time for anyone any more. Callers are never called back. Thousands of on-line resumes of desperate job-seekers are never read. Those who are interviewed for positions are rarely, if ever, told why they don’t get them.

That’s why Mariano is such a comforting revelation in a time of increasing insensitivity toward others.

This is a guy who truly leads by example. He was born poor in Panama, but claims his childhood was wonderful because “everybody helped each other.” He credits God with giving him his talent and his Mom and Dad with giving him values. He started a foundation with his wife (first and only) to help “B students who are talented”, because, he says, they need more help than “the A students.

When he blows a save, and there have been some doozies, he doesn’t see the loss as a defeat. He sees it as a learning process. He doesn’t dwell. Or whine. Instead, he keeps his mind clean and starts fresh every time he’s on the mound. He never blames anybody else for his losses but himself.

He has praised all his bosses, even the irascible late Yankee-owner, George Steinbrenner.

Mariano’s teammates have said they can’t envision the Yankees without him. “It’s hard to even talk about it,” Alex Rodriguez said after the injury.

His loss is incalculable.

How many people can we say that about?

Colin Powell once lamented we are living in an era of “no shame.” Everything is acceptable–even overtly shameless behavior.

So, Yankees No. 42, age 42 with 608 saves (the most in Major League Baseball history) may never play baseball again.

Now that would be a shame.

By Barbara Laskin, President, Laskin Media


Image of Get the Hell off the Stage! Weiner’s Resignation Offers Tips for Handling Hecklers

The truth is…hecklers are like hackers. They’re shameless and their goal is to disrupt, steal stuff (in this case, the limelight) and cause damage. And everybody hates them. From a media training standpoint, Anthony Weiner’s sex saga is instructive on many levels. Leaving out his “personal failings,” it was his reactions to those failings that cost him his job and quite possibly, his political future…though, you never know. After all, Elliot Spitzer has become the new sage of CNN.

Whatever you do or say in public is only as good as the media’s response to it. While some have bemoaned the fact that Weiner resigned in public (NBC’s Ann Curry wailed, “Why did he do that?”), had he not, and done it via press release, I guarantee you that he would have been slammed for cowardice. Today’s media is as callous as it is forgetful. It wasn’t too long ago that everyone disapproved of downcast wives standing beside their husbands as they apologized for their transgressions.

And yet, there were some in the media openly wondering why Weiner’s wife wasn’t around when he finally copped to on-line philandering.

No doubt Weiner took a risk by resigning in public. He could not have predicted that Howard Stern would unleash his potty-mouthed surrogates on the press conference. But, however loud and obnoxious those catcalls were, I would have counseled Weiner to do the same thing. It showed guts. Segueing to the corporate world, if there is a particularly dicey issue that needs to be addressed because the media or someone else will disclose it, the best thing to do is simply come forward, and come clean.

Rep. Weiner did much better with his resignation appearance than he did with his lying disingenuous interview to Wolf Blitzer and others. He soldiered on. He was brief. He said what he had to say. He put the emphasis where it should have been: on his failure as a politician to serve with distinction. He (thankfully) didn’t take any questions. It’s what he should have done previously with his “admittance of guilt” speech. Back then, he allowed questions and got walloped because he didn’t know how to stop them, or answer them effectively.

You should never respond to foul-mouthed attention-seekers—in fact, the reporters started to take care of them for Weiner by yelling at the intruders themselves. Audiences, too, always support the speaker, not the hecklers. Even if the transgression is awful…the person who comes forward to repent is always vulnerable and therefore, an object of pity. My advice to anyone in Weiner’s position is this: Just say what you have to say, say it clearly and concisely, say it as if you mean it—and get the hell off the stage.

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November 30, 2009

Tiger Woods sells razors, eye surgery, Gatorade and cellular service as easily as he pitches golf balls onto the green, but if his squeaky-clean image takes a hit, so could his lucrative stream of endorsement deals.

Since turning pro in 1996, the world’s top golfer has pulled in more than $750 million in endorsements, far more than he’s made winning tournaments. In the last year, Woods pulled in $110 million in endorsements, tops among athletes, according to Forbes. But fallout from the mysterious one-car crash outside his Florida mansion could leave Woods’ endorsement magic in the deep rough, say experts. Their advice: Come clean ASAP.

“In order for Tiger to stop the bleeding, he has to plug the wound–NOW,” said Barbara Laskin, whose New York-based company trains public figures in handling the media. “Here is the one truism: the cover-up is (usually) worse than the crime–and in this case, it surely is,” she added.

Details of the Friday morning incident are sketchy. The initial report, that the golfer had gone for a wee-hours drive, then hit a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree before his golf-club wielding wife rescued him by smashing the rear window of his Escalade, has not held up well to skeptics. Coupled with reports that Woods had been having an affair with a New York nightclub hostess, the event has folks wondering if there was a more direct relationship between Woods’ injuries and that golf club Elin Woods was swinging. Woods isn’t bringing any clarity to the situation with cryptic written statements and his refusal to talk to cops.

Jeff Lloyd, managing director at image consultant Sitrick and Company, said there doesn’t appear to be anything to the story that needs to cause Woods long-term damage. But acting squirrelly about it can only make things worse, said Lloyd, whose company recently counseled Chris Brown, after the singer pleaded guilty to beating then-girlfriend Rihanna, and has also worked with Paris Hilton.

“I don’t know what the facts are, but he has a tremendous amount of good will,” Lloyd said. “He’s extremely popular. The biggest problem here is the overreaction to something that most likely has a reasonable explanation. The worst case scenario is that there was some sort of marital dispute, and name a couple that hasn’t had one of those.

“But the rumors and innuendo will only continue until there is some sort of definitive statement from him that addresses this. The worst option is to go through a sort of water torture, where the facts come out in drips and drabs.”.

Other athletes have seen their endorsement deals dry up when their image took a hit:

  • Swimming superstar Michael Phelps lost an endorsement deal with Kellogg’s after photos surfaced on the Internet of him sucking on a bong at a college party. Other sponsors, including Visa, Speedo and watch company Omega stood by the swimmer, after he came out with a quick mea culpa.
  • When Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel, he beat the charges but lost millions in endorsements. Bryant had signed a $45 million deal with Nike just before his 2003 arrest, but the sneaker giant benched him for two years until the incident blew over. McDonald’s and Nutella dumped the Laker guard altogether. By 2007, Bryant was pulling in $16 million a year in endorsements and this year, the figure climbed to $45 million, according to Forbes.
  • Michael Vick made $7 million in endorsements in 2005, ranking him 33rd on Forbes’ list of celebrity pitchers. But when he was busted for dogfighting charges, the endorsements disappeared. He’s back in the NFL, playing second string for a fraction of his old salary and the only deals he has are public service announcements for the ASPCA.

Woods hasn’t been accused of anything approaching rape or dogfighting, and likely won’t face any criminal charges at all. Both he and the nightclub hostess deny that any affair ever took place. But much of his appeal lies in his wholesome, scandal-free image. And the best way to reclaim that, according to Laskin, is to ‘fess up and take the full hit now.

“The key to surviving this incident is to get your story out fast, efficiently and as honestly as possible,” Laskin said. “And the dutiful wife should not be at his side, unless she’s fully committed. Otherwise, it looks fake.”

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December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods’ sponsors are standing by him so far, but if his unraveling scandal costs him even a small fraction of his endorsements, he could take an eye-popping hit.

Woods’ carefully cultivated image and status as the world’s best golfer have brought in more than $750 million in endorsements since he turned pro in 1996, far more than he’s been paid for his work on the links. In the last year, Woods pulled in $110 million in endorsements, tops among athletes, according to Forbes. Among his sponsors are Nike, Gillette, AT&T, Gatorade and Accenture, a consulting company. Should one dump him, or future suitors get turned off by his tarnished image, big numbers are in play.

“Even if Tiger takes a 10 percent hit on his endorsement income going forward, that’s $10 million a year, or $100 million over the next decade,” wrote Gerald Posner in The Daily Beast.

With the scandal still mushrooming, it is impossible to gage the damage to Woods’ reputation, much less his bank account. What’s known is that he had a bizarre accident in his SUV outside the family’s Florida mansion in the wee hours on Friday. There have been reports that the crash came after he and wife Elin fought over reports he’s been cheating on her. One woman has denied sleeping with Woods, another has said she did and a third paramour has been reported.

The woman who claims to have had an affair with Woods, L.A. waitress Jaime Grubbs, said the damage to Woods wallet could really hurt. She told US Weekly that the reported billlionaire often griped “he wasn’t as financially stable as he wanted to be.”

Experts immediately advised Woods to come clean about the accident and any other issues likely to play out in the tabloids. For his part, he said Wednesday “I regret those transgressions” that have hurt his family and said he is “dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family.” But the mea culpa quickly shifted into an indictment of the nosy media and an indignant demand for privacy.

Media specialist Barbara Laskin said Woods blew it by not speaking out earlier, then made things worse when he did.

“If I had been counseling him I would have advised him to act quickly, and get on top of the story before it engulfed him,” Laskin said. He didn’t. He thought he could wait it out. The result has been a media circus and a slow unraveling of his carefully packaged public persona.

There could be a loss of endorsements, the loss of a once richly-deserved stellar reputation…and worse of all, the loss of his family. Tiger should have acted like a Tiger–and owned up fast. Had he made today’s statement in public four days ago…then some of this hysteria would have been diminished. The cocktail waitress who claims she had an affair with him would have been seen differently…and he might have blunted her confession, along with salacious texts, by simply admitting to it first.”

Among Woods’ endorsers, the only one to vocalize support for Woods has been Nike, who issued a statement saying their thoughts were “with Tiger and his family at this time.”

Other athletes have seen their endorsement deals dry up when their image took a hit:

  • Swimming superstar Michael Phelps lost an endorsement deal with Kellogg’s after photos surfaced on the Internet of him sucking on a bong at a college party. Other sponsors, including Visa, Speedo and watch company Omega stood by the swimmer, after he came out with a quick mea culpa.
  • When Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel, he beat the charges but lost millions in endorsements. Bryant had signed a $45 million deal with Nike just before his 2003 arrest, but the sneaker giant benched him for two years until the incident blew over. McDonald’s and Nutella dumped the Laker guard altogether. By 2007, Bryant was pulling in $16 million a year in endorsements and this year, the figure climbed to $45 million, according to Forbes.
  • Michael Vick made $7 million in endorsements in 2005, ranking him 33rd on Forbes’ list of celebrity pitchers. But when he was busted for dogfighting charges, the endorsements disappeared. He’s back in the NFL, playing second string for a fraction of his old salary and the only deals he has are public service announcements for the ASPCA.

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By Corky Siemaszko, DAILY NEWS
February 17, 2009

A-Rod is a chokeup artist.

That was verdict Tuesday from body language experts and top image consultants who watched Alex Rodriguez try to separate himself from a steroids scandal that has knocked him off his pedestal.

The harshest criticism came from Joseph Tecce, a psychology professor and body language expert at Boston College, who called the Yankees slugger’s 33-minute appearance a “put-on.”

“I have not seen a more controlled, contrived press conference ever in my life,” said Tecce, who based part of his conclusion on the rate at which Rodriguez blinked.

Most of the time, he said, people blink 30 to 50 times a minute – and the blink rate goes up under stress.

“Alex Rodriguez was at 20 blinks per minute during one of the most critical moments of his life,” Tecce said. “That’s evidence to me of how well-rehearsed he was.”

Rodriguez also “played the naive card repeatedly.”

“He’d retreat to phrases like ‘young and stupid’ and look down, so as not to look at the questioner,” Tecce said.

Sonya Hamlin, author of “How to Talk So People Listen,” thought “that part of it was genuine … he didn’t know what to do with his face.”

The rest, however, “didn’t wash.”

“He wasn’t straight. He didn’t level,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think he put the steroid scandal to rest. It wasn’t enough for him to say that he was young and ignorant, because everybody knows he wasn’t 18 when he was injected.”

Barbara Laskin, President of Laskin Media in Manhattan, disagreed. She said Rodriguez hit some home runs and may have “put Pandora back in her box.”

“I think he scored highest when he pleaded for understanding,” she said.

“He really elevated himself with the very last thing he said, when he looked straight out and said he simply missed being a baseball player.”

It’s when Rodriguez was asked for specifics about his steroid abuse that he began tripping over his tongue, Laskin said.

“He scored lowest when he admitted he didn’t know what he was doing, but continued to do it for three years,” Laskin said.

Psychologist Marilyn Puder-York, who works with another much-maligned group – Wall Streeters – said Rodriguez had the deck stacked against him before he began speaking.

“People are generally resentful of him because of the money he’s paid and his inability to help get the team to the World Series,” Puder-York said.

So what he said doesn’t really matter. “It’s what he does now to merit the public’s respect that matters,” she said.

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By Sarah Armaghan, Michael E. Miller and Corky Siemaszko, DAILY NEWS
February 10, 2009

A-Rod, your name is mud – for now.

A day after Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez made the stunning admission that he used steroids, top image consultants said his reputation is not beyond repair.

“His trust factor is zero right now,” Florida-based Gloria Starr said. “He only confessed because he was caught.”

Coming clean, however, was a smart first step, Starr said.

“Now, I believe his next step is to begin doing events where he is speaking to the youth of America about the dangers of steroids, things like that,” said Starr. “He has to do 100 times more backpedaling.”

Barbara Laskin, President of Laskin Media in Manhattan,said A-Rod’s consultants probably told him not to do what ex-Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens did, which was to not just deny steroid use but aggressively attack his accuser.

“I mean, it hasn’t gone away for Clemens,” she said. “If he hadn’t said anything it would have been worse. The bottom line is, in terms of the public landscape, Rodriquez certainly did himself a favor by being relatively forthright.”

And the strategy may work, said Laskin. “This may set him free,” she said. “I think this is the road to recovery. This will do him a lot of good, if it is indeed the truth.”

Sandy Dumont, a former model and image consultant, said Rodriguez is lucky he’s “a pretty boy.”

“We forgive beautiful people,” said Dumont, who is based in Norfolk, Va. “He stands a better chance of being forgiven by the guy on the street.”

Dumont said the Rodriguez saga has echoes of another public relations train wreck named Britney Spears. “Slowly, she’s been able to come back in the public eye by doing what she does best,” she said. “Alex Rodriguez can do the same.”

On the street, there was a faint measure of forgiveness amid the fury of still-seething Yankees fans.

“I have more respect for him the way he handled his mistake,” said Adam Kramer, 31, a MetLife employee on his lunch break in Manhattan. “What he did was wrong, but he manned up, which was the prudent move.”


By Wayne Drehs,
February 13, 2008

A little more than a month after she told New York newspapers that Roger Clemens gave a masterful performance in his “60 Minutes” interview, Barbara Laskin, president of Laskin Media, an award-winning New York-based communication training company, was surprised by his inconsistent performance Wednesday.

While Laskin thought the former Yankees pitcher’s opening statement was “extremely strong,” she said he later “crumbled” when discussing his wife Debbie’s use of human growth hormone and Andy Pettitte’s deposition.

“His demeanor changed,” Laskin said of Clemens. “He looked weaker and smaller. There was a disconnect there and he looked in trouble. But does that mean Roger’s not telling the truth? It may not be. Maybe it’s because Brian McNamee has nothing else to lose while Roger has everything to lose.”

Greg Hartley, a former Army interrogator and author of, “How to Spot a Liar,” concurred that Clemens struggled.

“When Rep. Cummings talked to him, he licked his lips 22 times,” Hartley said. “That’s a huge indicator that his stress levels are high. That’s holding back emotion, that’s, “How dare you ask me that.'”

Hartley added that McNamee came across as more sincere.

“When I watched them,” he said, “McNamee came across as a little sleezy, but so what? He’s injecting people with steroids. Of course he’s going to be a bit sleezy.”

Laskin agreed that McNamee gave a better performance, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean she believes him more.

“There were times where Roger was uncomfortable and lost that Roger Clemens roll of credibility. But some of his emotional outbursts were very powerful. I think he may have won some converts. But I’m not so sure there isn’t a little bit of gray with both of them.

“This is not the lottery. There’s no winning ticket. They’re both losers in some way.”

I no longer get nighttime cravings!

First for Women Magazine
November 12, 2007

Barbara Laskin dunked her spoon into a bowl of cereal. I can’t believe I’m eating at 2 A.M. again, she thought. But she just couldn’t get a handle on her cravings.

Then Barbara saw actress Kelly LeBrock discussing the weight loss she achieved with The Fat Smash Diet.

“Kelly said nothing else had helped,” says Barbara. “That inspired me to try it.”

It worked! “Food no longer controls me,” raves Barbara who lost 33 pounds.


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