Laura Gassner Otting – Author of Limitless
Laura talks about:
- How do you define success?
- Does success = happiness?
- Her thoughts on “fake it till you make it”?
The person who influenced Laura the most in the past year:
Kara Goldin, Founder and CEO – Hint Inc.
Her note to all CX professionals:
“Find your why, and relate it to the customer’s why.”
Nick Glimsdahl 0:02
Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast. My name is Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Laura Gassner Otting. Laura delivers strategic thinking well-honed wisdom and a catalytic perspective informed by decades of navigating change across the startup, nonprofit political and philosophical building traffic tropic landscapes. Whoo. I couldn’t say that if I tried. She’s also a keynote speaker, and the author of the book limitless how to ignore everybody and carve your own path and live your best life. Laura, welcome to the press one Nick podcast. Hey, Nick, it’s great to be here. Yeah. So I asked every single guest, one question at the very beginning. And it’s what’s one thing people might not know about you.
Laura Gassner Otting 0:45
So as you mentioned, I make my living as a motivational keynote speaker, which means I get up in front of 1000s of people and I talk for 45 minutes or an hour. And one of the things that most people don’t know about me, and that surprises them, and that probably a lot of your customer service professionals might be able to relate to is that I’m actually a raging introvert.
Nick Glimsdahl 1:08
And so how do you feel because I relate to this in my my specifically because of my wife, but how do you feel? Do you feel energized? Or do you feel drained at the end of that keynote,
Laura Gassner Otting 1:21
I want to go back to the hotel room curl up in fetal position and order room service, I don’t even watch Netflix, because it’s like, it’s almost too much interaction. I, you know, I think anybody who anybody who interacts with people on a regular basis either gets energized by them or drained by them, and then you either get energized or drained by being alone afterwards. And for me, I get energized by being alone. I love the interaction with people I love being on stage. I love those moments when somebody in the audience goes, Oh, or Ah, or Yes. But it is kind of exhausting to that sort of thing, especially when I’m trying to talk about an idea that I believe in so deeply. And if you’re selling something that you care about, that you believe in, you also believe in it so deeply. And so it’s like you leave a little piece of yourself when you do it. And so I have had to learn how to fake the extraversion on stage, like be ALGEO on stage. And then also how to remain true to myself when I’m there as well. So I’m like, the way that I describe it as I’m like, 100%, open with about 60% of my life. And I tell personal stories on stage, I connect what I’m doing to things that are meaningful, so people can tell there’s actual emotion and meaning behind what I’m doing, because meaning matters so much. But I don’t talk about everything. I don’t talk about the stories, I’m not ready to tell you, you know, I think it was maybe Bernie Brown who said that you should tell stories from the scars, not the wounds, right. So like just being able to know where in the story to bring people in how much to share, who to share with when to share, it helps me to figure out how to get energy from what would otherwise drain me and not just have it suck me dry.
Nick Glimsdahl 3:03
You have a thing that I think is fascinating with introverts who specifically are keynote speakers. Is, is amazing, because you don’t get energized off of that any any extrovert can easily get up on stage. And be energized by the conversation they have, regardless of what they’re talking about. But you truly have to believe in what you’re doing, and be fired up enough to convince yourself and say, You know what, this is worth it. This is why I’m doing it. And I’m not just doing it because I I get excited about coming up on stage. But I do it because I’m fired up about it. And I believe about and I think other people need to as well.
Laura Gassner Otting 3:43
Yeah. Oh 100%. Before I got into keynote speaking, I actually ran an executive search firm. And I I worked in the White House, left that when I was 25 years old, I worked in the White House when I was 21 to 25 years old. And I left that with basically no ostensible skills whatsoever but with a Rolodex that could choke a horse, right? So what do you do when you’re like young, you’re hungry, you’ve got a huge Rolodex, and you don’t actually have any real specific job skills. You become a headhunter. So I spent five years working for the best and the brightest learning how to do this work better than anybody on the planet knows how to do it. And then I had a moment of rage where I was so fed up, I was like, there is a way to do this work better with more meaning more authenticity, more integrity, more profit for us, less, you know, cost for the client, there is a better way. And I remember marching into my boss’s office, and I was like, there is a better way. And he was like, there’s the door. Like, I can either stay and keep doing things his way or I could leave and do him Why wait? And you know, Nick, once you realize that you’re not part of the solution that you thought you were part of you just leaves you in only one place, which is that you’re part of the problem. And I that for me was untenable. I couldn’t do it. So I launched my own firm and I I would walk into my clients offices. And I would tell them about what we did. And we can have, we can have a whole conversation about like, where I messed up in terms of customer service and sort of, you know, selling to what my customers actually cared about. But I was so excited about the way we were doing our work. And the solution that we had that time and time again, once I actually got it right, which took a few years. My clients, my potential clients would look at me and they’d be like, God, Laura, you, you seem like you love what you do. And I was like, yeah, how could I not, I’m doing this work the way it’s supposed to be done. And I have the best team ever, and we’re going to solve your problem. And it’s a problem I actually care about. Isn’t that amazing. And so, for me just being able to be energized, about what I was doing, because I knew it was the right thing created that contagious confidence that made my clients not want to hire anyone, but me and my team to do the work. But it really came from not finding, you know, how do I pretend to be an extrovert for this moment of selling, but like, how do I actually attach what I’m selling to what I actually care about, that they also care about, too. And together, we move forward?
Nick Glimsdahl 6:14
Yeah, there, I think we could just continue to sit on that question and dig for an extra two hours. But unfortunately, we don’t have a whole lot of time. So I love what you’re saying, though, there’s so much behind that. And I think there’s so many people, so many, too many people that have a ton of energy. And they don’t really know and they don’t have a purpose behind it. They are not focused on where they’re at, or they’re not focused on the customer. And they’re not guiding them in the right direction. So I can I can continue to go on a rant and a soapbox on that for for a long time. But I want to talk about your book limitless how to ignore everybody carve your own path and live your best life. And I pulled out a handful of questions, I could probably pull out another 30 or 40. But I want to stick to these few. At the very beginning. You kind of talk about success. So how do you define success?
Laura Gassner Otting 7:05
Well, so I talk about success in the book as this thing that’s been given to us externally. Someone else along the path somewhere said you should do x you should be why you should marry z, you should wear these clothes and exactly the right size, you should you have the right house and the right spouse and all the stuff that we were told, growing up was success. And what I what I learned over the course of those 20 years in executive search was that it was my job to call the most successful people in the world, the boldface names, the headliners, the ones who were doing amazing work, and recruit them away on behalf of my clients, right, because like, that’s the job. So I find the most successful people call them up. And here’s what I learned. They all called me back. Because despite all that success, they weren’t all that happy. And I was so interested in this idea that success on paper didn’t mean happiness in real life. And so I started thinking about my own definition of success in my own definition of success was that bigger, better, faster, more, right? You always got to be making more money, the fancier title, the bigger office, the nicer car, the you know, fancier vacations. And what I realized was that some of those things didn’t make me really happy. I’m a princess, I like 800 thread count sheets, and first class plane tickets, no question about it. But some of those things I didn’t really care that much about and when I was so busy defining my success through other people’s ideas I was achieving, but I wasn’t happy. And so for me, I define success as am I able to be present for the people that I love and the causes I hold dear in the very best capacity that I can be present in? And that’s really it. Am I making the world a better place? Because I’m president? The if the if there is a need to make number and a want to make number, right? Like what’s your rent or your mortgage? What does it cost to you know, your car insurance put food on the table, take with the constant take vacations, etc. But in between the the need to make number right like you got to make your nut and the want to make number is how many vacations are you taking a year? are you flying coach or first class? Are you being philanthropic? What kinds of causes? Are you able to serve? Are you you know, buying the nicer car like what are the things that you want in life and between the need to make number and the want to make numbers really how you personally define success and not everybody else around you?
Nick Glimsdahl 9:29
Yeah, I think one thing you said was, I was living or I was trying to work to somebody else’s happiness or somebody else’s version of success. Where does that come from? Where do we see everybody else and talk about oh, we need to get the this house in this watch in this vacation house in this car. Where does that come from?
Laura Gassner Otting 9:48
Well, I mean, come from a lot of places for me. I had a fourth grade teacher who was like, you know, Laura, you’re pretty argumentative. You should become a lawyer. And I was like, Well, first of course I told her she was right. Because, you know, it’s argumentative. But then I was like, Huh, okay, maybe. And at the time I was watching la law, you know, with, you know, Susan j was, you know, it’s pretty lady lawyer, and she was, you know, dating Harry Hamlin like handsome, you know, guy, lawyer, and everything was great. And I was like, Oh, that must be what success looks like, right? Like, you have to, like wear the right suits, and you have to do all the right things. And I also was, I was very sort of politically minded, even then, and I was like, I’m gonna solve all the problems in the world. And at the time, everybody who was an elected office was a lawyer. So I was like, Okay, I’ll become a lawyer, you know, go to law school, become a lawyer or get recruited, I’ll run for office, I’ll be the first female democratic senator from the great state of Florida. PS that job still open. There’s been one lady senator from Florida, she was Republicans, there still hasn’t been a Democrat. But in my mind, that was success, because that’s what I saw on television. That was like the one thing that I saw. And for you know, and regardless of whether or not that was the path that made sense, for me, that was the path that a teacher who really, to be honest, had no crystal ball or Weegee board, or any kind of training and career development, like looked at me in fourth grade and said, You’re argumentative, you’d make a great lawyer like this passing aside comments. And I took it as definitional. So I had that you might have had a parent who said you should be x, you might have had, you know, a friend who said, you should be why you might have like, looked at the television and looked at the Kardashians and been like, Well, you know, I see what they’re doing that looks good, I’ll do that. Like, every one of us, at some point, has somebody and usually there’s like, a high school counselor who says pick a college, pick a trade, pick a career, pick a path, pick a major pick of something, and you go, okay, because that’s what everybody else is doing. And the problem with that is when you’re 16 1718 years old, being talked about at high school counselor, the one thing that you don’t have is an actual frontal lobe, which is, you know, the part of your brain that helps dictate good logical sound decision making. So we’re actually asked, and this is the craziest part of it, we’re actually asked to make a decision that’s going to affect the rest of our lives, when we literally do not have the brain capacity to make a good one. And so is it any surprise that we all turn around at, like 3545 55. And we’re like, this all there is to solid was meant for and the problem is that we never stop along the way, either at the very beginning, or give ourselves grace every seven to 10 years when we’re changing so rapidly, and the world around us is changing so rapidly, to say, Is this what success looks like? For me? Is this what success still looks like? For me? You know, when limitless first came out? I did like 150 podcasts or so. And there was one question that I would keep getting that made me crazy. And it was, well, what would you tell your 22 year old self. And I was like my 22 year old self, who is listening to a podcast that was recorded over the internet, via my, my wireless headphones on my cell phone. None of those four things existed when I was 22. So even if I didn’t know who I was, which I didn’t, even if I didn’t know who I was, the world around me has changed so much since then. I mean, frankly, if you’re listening to this podcast now, in real time, we’re in the midst of the corona virus pandemic, even if you had an idea of what you thought 2020 or 2021, or even 22 was gonna look like it doesn’t. So all of the external definitions of success don’t matter if they don’t comport with our own internal definition of success.
Nick Glimsdahl 13:53
I love that that was an awesome explanation. So when one of the things that drives me nuts, but I want to get your perspective on it is when somebody says it doesn’t matter if I’m in high school, or if I’m 20s 30s 40s is and or it doesn’t matter if I’m a parent or a coach or or you know, student counselor, but somebody says, just follow your passion. How do you feel I already know it’s coming. But how do you feel when you hear that statement?
Laura Gassner Otting 14:23
I think follow your passion is the follow your passion is the spoken word. Legitimate sister of the live love laugh tattoo. That’s how I feel about follow your passion. Apologies for anybody listening, who has a live love, laugh tattoo, but gotta get rid of that. Get it removed, go get it removed. Follow your passion is the career advice illegitimate sister of that tattoo? And here’s why. Because when somebody says to get you just got to follow your passion. All that says is as long as you find your passion as soon as you find your passion, everything’s good. To be hunky dory, things are going to be great. It’s going to be Nirvana you’re going to be happiest can be food will have no calories. Everything’s going to be great, right? Just awesome. But here’s the issue. When you find that thing about what you are passionate, it’s not going to be perfect. And so the minute something goes wrong, the minute it gets difficult, the minute you screw up the minute life hands you a pandemic, the minute something happens, that knocks you a little bit onto the left or the right, you go, Oh, well, I guess it must not be my passion because it is my passion, everything would be perfect. And I’d be like sitting at Coachella with you know, a flower crown on my head and you know, in a Zen position, everything be perfect. And, and the these Insta flow hunters who are like imploring with all their mind for us to follow our passion. It’s, it’s it’s insanity, I would much rather see somebody say, I’m not going to follow my passion, I’m going to invest in my passion. Because when you find something that you love so much that you want to call it, your passion, you’re actually willing to get knocked around by it, you’re willing to get gutted by it, you’re willing to mess up and you know, fall down and get up and fall down and get up and fall down and get up because you are passionate about it doesn’t your passion deserve you trying to master it, you trying to perfect it. So what I tell people is don’t just follow your passion, find something you’re passionate about, and then invest in your passion. Because doesn’t your passion deserve that? anyway.
Nick Glimsdahl 16:28
So it seems like that they shouldn’t completely remove their tattoo, the follow your passion, but maybe remove the follow and put invest in on top of your passion.
Laura Gassner Otting 16:41
Yeah, I’m all for people having a life doing something that they’re passionate about. I mean, I just described my career in executive search, where I might cut my confidence in my excitement about it was so contagious that my clients couldn’t help but hire me. I want people to live like that. I just want people to know that if you’re doing something that you love, and you’re passionate about it, and it’s hard, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not that you haven’t found your passion. Maybe you have the fact that you want to keep going back to it is amazing. So I know we want to talk about failure at some point. I think this is probably a good point. And probably a good place to segue into that. Because I think, you know we can we live in this world where we think failures finale, we think the minute something goes wrong, the minute we mess up, it’s over, we’re done. It’s history. Because what happens you you graduate from high school from college, in the military, you go into the first like quote unquote job right in your in your job, you get hired, because you are showing some kind of competency in something, you get hired to do that thing. And then you get praised for it. You get promoted for it, you get paid more for it. And you’re afraid to step left, you’re afraid to step right, because if you mess up, then what are you going to do you have to do this thing that you got hired to do you have to do this thing where you’ve shown mastery where you’re good, you’re competent. And that’s not the way we learn and we grow. So think about think about, do you have any kids? I do. Okay, so how old are your kids?
Nick Glimsdahl 18:17
three and one,
Laura Gassner Otting 18:19
three and one. Okay, so your one year old is probably trying to is threatening to walk my guess, right? He’s Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay. So your three year old will also went through that right now? How did your three year old learn how to walk by doing the same thing the one year old, did fall down, get up, fall down, get up. It’s not like your three year old fell down the first day and went, Okay, guess I can’t walk failures finale, your three year old learn that the way to learn how to walk was to just as my husband says, fall down less slowly each time. That’s just what we do. In life, we’re just falling down less slowly began to stand a little bit longer. But we as adults, somewhere along the way, we forget that that’s where we learn is in the failure. And so failure is not finale. It’s fulcrum. It’s the place where we grow, and we change and we learn, and we innovate, and we iterate, and we get better, and we get better, and we get better. But if we’re afraid to fail, and if we’re afraid to like dig in and invest in that passion, and we’re only like, oh, I’ll follow my passion. As long as it’s perfect. Everything’s great. We don’t change. We don’t learn, we don’t grow. We don’t figure out who we are when we are at our very best. And the whole idea behind limitless is that in order to be the person we want to be when we are at our very best, we have to mess up we have to make mistakes. And actually, I was giving this talk in Austin, Texas a couple of years ago and I got to this line failure is not finale, it’s fulcrum, and at that moment, I looked down, stage left and sitting in the front row stage left was commander Tim Cobra of NASA commander Tim Coker of NASA has been on three spacewalks because he’s a show off I was like, finales, not the, you know, for the failures, that finale, it’s fulcrum, a step for you, sir, for you, your deal. Because for you and like, so I always say to people now I’m like, so as long as you’re not an astronaut, yeah, you’re gonna be okay. If there is oxygen in your lungs, and there’s blood in your veins, you’re gonna not just not just survive the failure, you’re going to get better from it. So I encourage people not to just look for the path that you know, is the promised perfection, but to really instead look for paths that allow themselves time to figure out how to master what they want to do.
Nick Glimsdahl 20:44
Yeah, it is important to fail. I mean, if if people say, Oh, you should fail forward, I think you should fail, learn, adjust, and then try again. And then you’re going to learn and adjust and to try again. And as you continue to learn and grow, you’re going to do other things to improve where you’re at. And it always helps that you don’t fail, where other people have failed, where you can have the ability to learn from where Laura has failed in the past, where where Nick has failed in the past, but there’s so much to failing, that you have to be able to grow and you have to I always like the the forging, you know, to forge metal to forge a golf club, it needs to be under pressure, and you can’t really without that pressure. Without that failure, you can’t really grow and it can’t get any stronger than than where it’s at. And I just love that. Love that analogy. So another another phrase that I know it’s gonna make you very happy, but what’s your thoughts on the phrase fake it till you make it?
Laura Gassner Otting 21:54
Oh, boy, I think I think fake it till you make it is damaging. It’s super damaging for for so many reasons. Um, first of all, when somebody says fake it till you make it, they’re telling you that you as you are don’t belong. Like, where do we think imposter syndrome comes from imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re an imposter. Like you don’t belong where you are. And, you know, so I also have kids, my kids are 17 and 19. So I’m on the other end of the, of the tunnel from you. But when my eldest was three, he was a walking, waddling, toddling ear infection machine like it’s the second a drip would come out of his nose. I was like, I better get on the phone to the pediatrician because he’s gonna have an ear infection and 24 hours raging scream fest. And and, you know, it was great because I was like, I can’t wait to get a diagnosis, we get a diagnosis. He has an ear infection, the ear infection is the infection is the problem. Here’s the antibiotic, but when we have imposter syndrome, what’s the problem? It’s not the infection. It’s the imposter. Right? Like we get diagnosed as the problem, we have a syndrome, there’s something wrong with us. So fake it till you make it means don’t act like you act like someone else entirely. Okay, so that sets up a lack of self esteem and a lack of confidence to start with. So now you’re faking it on a false Foundation, because you don’t even feel like you belong there. That’s the first problem. That’s just the beginning of it. Then we get to this place where we’re faking, it’s so hard that we don’t even pay attention to what’s happening around us. I as I mentioned, I walked into the white house when I was 21 years old, I volunteered on the camp on a presidential campaign. I’m walking in there all these bright young and Hungary’s who went to Ivy League schools, and they’re all where they’re all like wearing these like perfect, beautiful suits, and they’re carrying like their grandfather’s satchel, and they’ve got their New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that are all highlighted in dog here and I’m literally wearing my mother suits from the 80s like Alexis Carrington shoulder pads, I was showing my kids a picture of me in the Oval Office a few months ago, and they’re like, What the hell are you wearing? And I was like, I know it’s grandma Shelly suits. I mean, like, I like all these all these bright young and Hungary’s had had had had the hammy down briefcases because that’s a family heirloom, I didn’t have clothes. And so I would sit there at these tables, watching them all, like writing in their notebooks, like furiously scratching out all these ideas. And I had none. I had no ideas. I was like, What’s going on here? I’m gonna belong, I’m an imposter. So I would sit there and I would fake it. And I would like write things like pick up the dry cleaning at the dog room. Like I didn’t know what else to write. So I’d make stuff up. And while I was so busy faking it, trying to pretend that I was them. I was missing all of the relationships happening around me. I was missing deals getting made, I was missing the things that they were reading to learn more and get better. I was missing the schmoozing. I was missing, like how people interacted with each other. So I was building this, this house of cards based on a false foundation so that I and then while I was doing that I was missing the stuff I actually needed to make it to actually get better. That’s the second problem. The third, the last problem is that once you’re so busy faking it till you make it, you’ve created yourself in the image of somebody else. So you don’t even know if you want the thing that you’re faking, because you’re not even getting a chance to experience it as you. So you don’t even know if you like it. So you’re so busy trying to pretend to be somebody else and achieve someone else’s achievement, that by the time you get there, you’re like, Who am I? And who is this and do I even really want it. So from beginning to middle to end, fake it till you make it is not going to get you where you want to be.
Nick Glimsdahl 25:32
Yeah, and the thing about that it is the it’s, it’s you are trying to fake it till you make it. But at the same time, when you are using big words and talking in circles, people can see right through that. And so when you’re trying to fake it till you make it, it’s not actually you faking it, because people can see it.
Laura Gassner Otting 25:51
It’s so true. And, you know, we talk a lot about having mentors, and having champions and all the people who help open doors for you. Because, you know, the doors open from the inside, right? Like, you got to have somebody there, but and, you know, in customer service, people know, like, if you’re, if you believe in what you’re doing, and if you’re being real, even if you make a mistake, people are willing to like give you more patience, and try a little harder and wait a little more, and you’re in it together. But if you’re just fake and you’re reading a script, and it’s not who you are, it’s not what you care about, and you’re just parroting someone else’s words, I used to see this all the time, I would have team members who would come with me to go pitch clients, and and they would they pretend to be me, they would do their best elogio and personation. And I’m not gonna lie, I was really good at selling the work. as me, they were terrible at selling the work as me, just like, if I walked in, and I pretended to be you, I would be terrible at that, too. I think authenticity is so important, because meaning matters so much. That if you cannot connect to what it means to you, you’re just parroting someone else’s lines. You’re just acting and most people are pretty bad actors.
Nick Glimsdahl 27:04
Yeah, it’s like, not a community theater. Yeah, I was just gonna say it’s like, it’s like high school acting is not non professional actors. And you’re like, Wait a second, you’re not really Romeo.
Laura Gassner Otting 27:15
Yeah, you’re like, this is painful, this is really painful, and the popcorn is soggy, I am not happy here. And you want to get away as fast as you possibly can. And not only that, if the person then you know doesn’t give you exactly what you want. Or if the deal isn’t exactly in the right price range, or it’s not solving your problem immediately, you’re actually angrier that they wasted your time than before they started and so not only are you not going to use that company, again, you’re going to head map that company all over social media, because you’re so I read about the waste of time the interaction. So you know, I, I would I would walk out of those pitches with my team members. And I just be like, okay, here’s how you get better. Stop trying to be me. Like, you can’t be me. And that’s not to say I’m amazing. It’s to say you’re amazing. You should be you because you’re amazing. Go be you. And they were like, Oh, okay. And it’s also easier by the way to be you.
Nick Glimsdahl 28:11
It’s so much easier to be you. But you have to be you have to understand that it’s not just about being a better version or a reflection of Laura. Right. It’s a being a better version of, of Nick being a better version of Mike. It’s it’s finding a way to improve your craft but still be you on that journey.
Laura Gassner Otting 28:33
Yeah, I it’s so. So I’m a nice Jewish girl from Miami. And I married a nice Catholic boy from the Midwest. And and when I was growing up, I used to think that I used to think that winter were like the three weeks in the mall where there was fake snow because we didn’t get I didn’t we didn’t i didn’t know from seasons, right? Like, you can’t wear white after Labor Day like, man, we were white. You’re Brown. It’s Miami. So I never really like got it. And I would go to the mall during Christmas time. And I would see these beautiful trees and I’m like, that one’s all silver and that one’s all gold. And maybe one day I’ll have a Christmas tree. I’ll definitely do that. It’ll be this beautiful matching perfect, everything’s gonna be great. And then I met my husband and I went home for the First Family Christmas in Cincinnati. And his family started bringing down from the attic, these dusty, tattered time worn boxes that held these ornaments in them that we’re so audaciously ugly and mismatched and you know, this one’s got some of these name on and that one’s got a little crack in and this one’s like kind of like tattered and yellow and I was like Why don’t they know that they know like the perfect Christmas trees out there. The beautiful all silver and the beautiful all gold. And then as they started pulling the ornaments out and putting them on the tree. It was like this one was from John’s First Communion. And this one was from you know and Becky’s bridal shower and this one was when when Learn how to walk and, and I fell in love. It was like, it was exactly the opposite of what I thought I wanted. But the meaning that was attached to each of these ornaments. I couldn’t imagine not having that. And so now, my family, you know, my husband and my kids, we have a Christmas tree. And every time we go on vacation, we get an ornament from wherever we are. And every year when we when we decorate the tree, it’s like, oh, remember when we were in, you know, the Bahamas, remember that trip to Lake Tahoe, and oh, my God, remember your food poisoning in London. And wasn’t that the grossest thing ever. And, but we laugh and we tell stories, and it’s amazing. And it just goes to show you that like the shiny, pretty perfect, that we think is going to be the thing that we all care about isn’t it’s finding the thing that’s actually attached to something that matters to us, whether it’s, you know, whether it’s finding out why we do the work and connecting them to our clients, whether it’s figuring out what success means to us. And then going after that with everything we have. It’s you know, having those conversations, the sales, the customer service, all of those things. It’s attaching that meaning to something that matters to you so that when I tell you that story, you could see the tree, you could fall in love with those ornaments just in the same way that I did, because meaning matters so much.
Nick Glimsdahl 31:17
Yeah, meaning matters so much. And the storytelling behind what you believe in matters, matters more than you know. Yes. So Laura, I wrap up every podcast with two questions. The first question is what book or person in customer service or customer experience has influenced you the most in the past year? And then if you can leave a note to all customer service and customer experience professionals, it’s going to hit everybody’s desk, Monday at 8am. What would it say?
Laura Gassner Otting 31:45
Well, so the first I will say is over the course of the last year, I’ve had a chance to get to know Kara golden, who is the founder of hint water. I interviewed her for my next book about her last book that she just put out called undaunted. And she told a story about when the COVID crisis hit. And they had to shut down, she took a route, she took a route and she went in, she was restocking shelves, and she was there. And she was she went into target and went into Whole Foods and everywhere she was going and she just like put on a baseball cap and like went in and did it and, and in some of the interactions, people realized who she was, and that she was there. And because she was there, and she showed up, they were like, not only do we love you, and this is great, but we’re gonna give you even more shelf space now. Right? Like in the book, she talks a lot about just the value in building the company of showing up of standing by her product of just being there understanding the customer, what they’re looking for. And so her book undaunted, is absolutely fantastic. And just the power of showing up and being real and talking about why you do the work you do. So she would be she’s the person that I would that I would talk about. If I could leave a note to all customer service professionals that they would find on Monday morning, what would it say? It would say? Find your why. And relate it to the customers Why? I think a lot of times we find our why. And we think that’s good enough. My why was I wanted to do executive search search work in a way that was more in had more integrity to the way I want to do the work. But I also needed to make sure that the client understood it. So I’ve mentioned earlier that I made a mistake in the first few years of trying to sell the work. And the mistake that I made was I was so geeked out about how our process was better. It was different, it was more efficient. It was this that and the other, I was so geeked out about our process that I would walk in. And I would talk about our process. And I had like a 50% hit rate on what I was selling. And finally one day a friend of mine was on a search committee and we didn’t get the search. And I was like what what gives like, come down and like what happened there? Like you’re my friend, like Didn’t you stand up for me? And he was like, Laura, do you find great candidates? And I was like, of course we do. We’re an executive search firm, that’s table stakes. And he said you never said that. You walked in and you talked about your process and how you do the work and your pricing and your people and you know all the things like your deck your deck had like your your logo and your mission statement and your bio and all that because it wasn’t till we got to like page 10 that you even talked about us. He said every other firm walked in and said we find great candidates. Now let me tell you how. So my problem was that I figured out something that worked. But I forgot I figured I understood my why. But I forgot about my customers Why? So then I started walking and I was like we find great candidates. Now let me tell you how we do it and why it’s better than everyone else you’re going to talk to today. Once my client understood that their problem was my problem and I was going to hold their problem in my hands until our collective problem went away. I was unstoppable. Yeah, so far. Find your why but make sure you connected to your customers Why?
Nick Glimsdahl 35:04
So that’s some sound advice, Laura what’s the best way for my listeners to find you to connect with you? Or otherwise?
Laura Gassner Otting 35:12
Sure so all my good friends call me LG. Oh, Laura Gassner, awnings, a lot of name. So I am at Hey elogio on all the socials and they can go to Hey, LG o.com as a shortcut and if they’re interested in learning more about how to find their own definition of success, they can go to my four questions calm and take a very short, quick four question quiz that will help them figure out how to find their own definition and things to do to achieve
Nick Glimsdahl 35:41
good stuff. Laura, thanks so much for being on the podcast. I wish you nothing but success. Thank you.
The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.
Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:
- Customer service & customer experience leaders
- A hostage negotiator
- Award-winning authors
- Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
- Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
- Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:
- What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
- If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?
You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.
If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.