Welcome To The Join Up Dots Business Coaching Podcast With Laura Gassner Otting
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Introducing Laura Gassner Otting
Today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast is Laura Gassner Otting.
She is a professional motivational keynote speaker and the founder of Limitless Possibility.
Where she empowers innovators, idealists, and iconoclasts to get “unstuck” in their thinking.
She pushes past their limiting beliefs, and achieve extraordinary results.
She is turned on by the audacity of The Big Idea and that larger-than-life goal you just can’t seem to shake.
She is an instigator, a motivator, and a provocateur, and she has never met a revolution she didn’t like.
Her new book Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life is like a high-energy masterclass and brainstorming session all in one.
With actionable tips to transform your vision for your career and do work with purpose.
How The Dots Joined Up For Laura
As she says “Many of us spend our lives pursuing a singular idea of success, one that was created for us by someone else.
We give votes to those who shouldn’t even have voices and strive to go faster and faster even as we find ourselves falling further and further behind.
We chase gold stars, we check all the boxes, we lean in – and yet we still feel incomplete.
When we don’t define success in our own terms, finding our purpose and carving our own path becomes impossible.
So how do you break the cycle so that you can live your best life?
That’s a good question isn’t it?
So has she defined her own route to success, or living one that is what similar folk are doing?
And when she isn’t being the greatest version of herself, how does she wind down her superpower and just relax and recharge?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Laura Gassner Otting
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Laura Gassner Otting such as:
How to make a guest shine on a tv show by making them the best version of themselves they can ever hope to be.
How at her core she is a introvert, and the reasons why she takes so much effort to prepare before she steps into the limelight.
Laura shares how she was so scared in her early days in politics and seriously played the imposter syndrome to death.
Why being authentic to ones self is not the way that perhaps David Ralph first thought…but is so true.
Books By Laura Gassner Otting
How To Connect With Laura Gassner Otting
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Laura Gassner Otting Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:21]
Yes. Good morning, everybody. Good morning and welcome to another episode of a join up dots their motivation or inspiration or conversation or podcast and literally can go in any direction. And I’ve already warned the guest of that fact. Now she is a professional motivational keynote speaker and the founder of limitless possibility, where she empowers innovators idealists, and iconoclast. I’m not even sure what that is to get unstuck in their thinking push past their limiting beliefs and achieve extraordinary results. She is turned on. Yes, she’s turned on by the audacity of the idea and that larger than life go, you just can’t seem to shake. She’s an instigator, a motivator, a provocateur, and she’d never met a revolution she didn’t like now her new book limitless how to ignore everybody can be your own path and live your best life is like a high energy masterclass and brainstorming session all in one with actionable tips to transform your vision for your career and do work with purpose. As she says, Many of us spend our lives pursuing a singular idea of success, one that was created for us by someone else, we give boats to those who shouldn’t even have voices, and strive to go faster and faster even as we find ourselves holding further and further behind. We chase gold stars we check all the boxes we lean in, and yet we still feel incomplete. When we don’t define success in our own terms, finding our purpose and carving our own path becomes impossible. So how do you break the cycle so that you can live your best life? It’s a good question, isn’t it so as she defined her own route to success or living one, that is what similar folk are doing and when she being the greatest version of yourself, she just wind down her superpower and just relax and recharge. Well, let’s find out as we bring into the show to start joining up with the one and only Lola Gassner Otting. Morning, Laura, how are you?
Laura Gassner Otting [2:17]
I’m great. How are you doing today? I’m very well as I was reading that you did like a lot of that came from your blurb you like big words don’t give up. Like, what’s an iconoclast? To start with, I tripped up on it. And I thought, I actually have no idea what that is.
I like to joke that I like big words, and I cannot lie and any of your guests who are Gen Xers will know that rap line and everyone else was like, What are you gonna? So I do, I grew up in the 80s listening to a lot of rap music. And I think the brilliance about rap music is that you really have to have an excellent command of language and be able to twist and move words and I’m constantly fascinated by Spoken Word Art.
artists and poets and and rappers and lyricist because I think their ability to, to to mold and shift language to bend it to their message. It just fascinates me. So iconoclast iconoclasts are people who are different than everyone else. They see the world through a completely different lens. And because of it, they’re able to see solutions to problems we don’t even know exists yet. They’re able to be the creators, the inventors, the innovators, they’re the ones who are doing those big bold things that you think well I never would have thought about that. And so an iconoclast is really somebody who stands up against the against everyone else’s opinions against the the you know that the tidal wave of naysayers and says yeah, but still going to do it my way. I would call that bloody minded is is that the English version of it?
Well, I don’t know the English version of it, because I don’t speak English. I speak about
David Ralph [4:02]
society is always the same, except that we do it properly. That’s the only thing.
Laura Gassner Otting [4:08]
What do they say? They say we’re too We’re one continent separated by a language, one country separated by a common language.
David Ralph [4:15]
And if you say you will president he can’t even speak his own language we well, we chuckle a lot. And in the introduction, actually, I saw about we give votes to those who shouldn’t even have voices is an anagram for Trump.
Laura Gassner Otting [4:28]
Well, you know, I have to be very careful when I get on stage and say that line and say we get votes in our lives to people who shouldn’t even have voices. But, you know, as any of your listeners will know, if they go and look at my bio, I’ve done a lot of work throughout my entire career democratic politics. And so as you might imagine, Trump was not my candidate of choice, nor does he remain my president of choice. It’s astonishing. We won’t go there because it’s not a political show, but I’m certainly from this side of the pond. It’s quite amusing, but we’ve got our own problems over here so we can’t just gloat now. Well, one of the things that
David Ralph [5:00]
shocked me, Laura, and this is when I’m going to come across as intrigued one minute and then a creepy podcast hopes is when I look back over your your history, and the fact that you’ve got teenage children need to look cold enough. I don’t know how you’ve managed to do it. You know, I I’ve now got a face like an 80 year old scrotum basically. And you just look like a glorious young teenager. Is it different water in America? Well, what’s going on?
Laura Gassner Otting [5:29]
I you know, I think it’s just good camera filters. Think it’s good lighting. I was on the Today show which is you know a national morning broadcast show here and I walked in and the the hair and makeup women you’re supposed to walk around with like, you know, your hair for mostly done in your makeup very late. And I walked into the woman’s like, okay, so you look pretty good. You look pretty done. We don’t need to do much. And then she proceeded to spend 45 minutes on doing everything I did, and redoing it. And I looked up in the mirror and I was like, Oh my gosh, you just made me look 20 years younger. And I told my publicist, I wanted to go back on the Today Show because a you know, I want to be on the show again. But I want to look 34 again, I was just, it was magical. I don’t know it was the makeup or the lighting or the cameras or the the fairy dust that the makeup and hair lady sprinkled on me. But it was it was pretty incredible. And I just I love. I finished the show and I called my husband I said what do you think? And he’s like, I think you’ll be very happy with how you sounded. And I think you will be ecstatic. Have you looked.
David Ralph [6:34]
But was he ecstatic when you got home? Was that the version he now wants every single day?
Laura Gassner Otting [6:40]
Yeah, well, by the time I got home from New York, I already had about five glasses of champagne to celebrate the fact that I had embarked on myself on national life TV. In fact, the today show was sort of funny because it was not only my first TV interview ever, it was my first interview about the book ever. It was my first live interview ever. And so you know, talk about travel by fire. All right, you’ve never done this. Go to the today show. And it turned out that I actually kind of crushed it on the Today Show. And I only say that because the only reason I did was because they were so good. The hosts were so good. Hoda and Jenna Bush Hager that and Ryan eagled was, uh, was was there as well, the three of them were so good that I think that if I even if I had barked on myself, it would have just been like, let’s cut to camera to, they would have cleaned me up and then they would have cut back they were so good that they made me so good.
David Ralph [7:31]
No, but you made yourself so good. Number one, you wouldn’t be on the Today Show unless you got yourself into that position. And that doesn’t happen overnight does it you know, you’ve you’ve lived your life, you’ve had experiences, you’ve got yourself in that position, where basically you’re talking about a subject, you know, inside out because you’re living it.
Laura Gassner Otting [7:49]
It’s true, I so I make my living as a motivational speaker, as you mentioned. And that means I get up on stage and I talk for 45 minutes, 60 minutes without any notes, I just get up and I talk and I walk people through the outline of how to live their best life and how to really find success and happiness and confidence. And, you know, every once in a while I, I sort of stopped in the middle of where I am. Because, you know, I look out into the audience and somebody is giving me a weird look, or they’re on their phone. And I’m thinking here, the tape in the back of my head is like why are they looking at me like that? Maybe that’s just their resting processing face. Maybe that person’s really bored and checking Facebook, maybe you know, but you have this voice in the back your head that’s like, yep, yep, yep, yep. And it just kind of talks and, and then I lose my place. And I have to remember where I am. And sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. But I know the topic so well, that I still I can still talk about it in a way that’s impactful and compelling to an audience because it really does come from the core of who I am. My topics are based on a 25 year career of knowing this. And also I do talk about this teenage kids much to their chagrin, on stage, as well. So it really I really do bring all of who I am to being on stage. And it’s it becomes much easier to do because it really is a message that I know better than any other message.
David Ralph [9:13]
It give too much of yourself away. That’s the question. I do podcast after podcast and people say, Oh, I heard you talking about your wife the other day. And I think well, thank God, she doesn’t listen to this rubbish. Did you give too much away? Do you walk off some stage thinking? Actually, I should have kept that back that that was funny. It was a story that made the audience you know, engage with me, but actually it was one step too far?
Laura Gassner Otting [9:40]
Well, so it’s an interesting question. Because I am in my core, an introvert, which I think people think is sort of funny, because I make my living speaking to thousands of people on stage. And I have a very public persona. But I’m I am exception, I’m 100% transparent about I’d say 60% of my life. And the other 40% is pretty kept pretty quiet. I mean, I don’t really talk that much about my husband or his career on stage, I don’t talk about the kind of house we live in, or the kind of car I drive, I don’t talk about the kind of vacations we go on, you know, I there are parts of my life that I keep really separate, not because I’m I’m trying to create a persona that’s out there, I just, there are parts of my life and parts of my life that my husband and my kids have asked for me to respect and keep private. And then the rest of it i is open for discussion. And, you know, I because of my topics, I talk a lot about finding, you know, ignoring everybody else and finding who you really are, and becoming confident in finding your own personal voice, living an authentic life, it’s really hard for me to do that on stage, if I’m not being authentic when I’m up there. And so I have to tell stories that have some sort of placement in the audience, you know, that they can see themselves in the story. And a lot of times that comes with a vulnerability. So after I speak, you know, I signed books, and people will come up to me and every single time they’ll say things like that story that you told about being scared in this moment, or about, you know, your kids at you know, and you know, yelling at your kids or about this moment of rage you had in this office, I mean it and just telling these stories that they’re like, yeah, I’ve had that I’ve lived that I can relate to that. And you also seem like you’ve kind of got it all together. So the fact that you’re telling the story, and you not only through your talk provided a path through, but also that I that you didn’t wake up in the world completely 100% put together gives me the confidence to know that I can put these changes in place and get there to my
David Ralph [11:52]
issue with being authentic. And I agree with you, if you can tap into that super talent where you just become yourself. Ben been it becomes easy, and just life and money and whatever comes your way. Now, if you’re being totally authentic, why would you then sit for 45 minutes having extra makeup done? Why would you not just go to the today show and go? No, this is me. This is authentic. This is how I normally look put me on straight on.
Laura Gassner Otting [12:19]
Because the authentic version of me doesn’t look terrible.
Yeah, but it’s not
David Ralph [12:25]
nice, you that should know. But I think there’s a
Laura Gassner Otting [12:28]
definition. I think it’s a different definition of authenticity. Authenticity doesn’t have to be warts and all authenticity is living fully into the person that you want to be. So I like to feel powerful, I like to feel in control, I like to feel like I am showing up as the what I consider to be the best version of myself. And that person is polished, that person is wearing nice clothes, that person is wearing that person works out a lot and works really hard for a figure and is wearing clothes that are not sexy, but our bond conscious because that gives a it connotes power, right and it gives you control over the room over the meeting. And that person is super polished. And that comes with makeup. I’m I feel much more powerful. I feel like I’ve so I don’t I mean, I think there’s a confusion between we’re authentic means we have to show up as you know, the like the person who rolls out of bed hungover at 6am. I think that’s wrong. I think authenticity is who you want to be when you’re at the version of yourself that you want to put into the world, the version of myself that I want to put in the world is really ambitious. And that ambitious person shows up demanding the shot, demanding the power, demanding the control. And that comes with a level of polish that gives me confidence to do it. Other people may not want or need that level of polish. But for me, I walk in knowing that I’m at the very best and I can kill it because I know that I’ve controlled all the things that I can control so that everything I can’t control, I then have much more capacity for
David Ralph [14:00]
Okay, so you are a kind of not a control freak, you know, control freak. No, you’re not. Are you really you’re you’re just no I am. This is my show, Laura, you are somebody that knows what you’ve got to bring to do the best performance. You’re like an actress who’s putting on the voice for the white white show. Really?
Laura Gassner Otting [14:21]
Yeah, so I’m not arguing with you. But I thought you know, that’s how much control I need.
Here’s the thing, I sit in the aisle seat of every airline flight I take and I travel but 150,000 miles a year. So it’s a lot of planes. And it’s not because I think that if the plane is going down and a fiery, fiery ball of I’m yeah, no, I just I just need the illusion of control. Like, I don’t want to have to step over the guy who’s sleeping on the aisle seat so that I can go to the bathroom. Right? It’s just I just I’ve even the illusion of control is control that I mean, that’s just who I am at this. I’ve always been as a person. And and I i think that i think that if that’s the person that you are, you know, I I’ve learned a long time ago, not to apologize for my ambition. And I think that we I think that we think that ambition is a bad word that it’s a dirty word. No, she’s so ambitious, right with it, we shy away from it, and we hide it in this other, more socially acceptable. So humility, right of like, hashtag humble brag. And I think that women, again, I think women especially suffer from this. But here’s what I’ve learned, I’ve learned that if I am going to do the best by the people that I love and the causes I hold dear, then being in a position with more power, more control, more authority, more money, more resources, more network, or whatever it’s going to take to do that is not my ambition. It’s my responsibility. And so for me to authentically show up in the world to live into the responsibility of the privilege, and the power and the opportunity that I’ve been given.
David Ralph [16:01]
This is fascinating. I wasn’t expecting to have this conversation. But this is what joining us is all about. Because in the United Kingdom, I was saying to my son the other day, we get a lot of TV presenters now who are unshaven, and they turn up, especially the ones that are doing sports programs and stuff. And I said to him, when I was a kid, you never saw a TV presenter who hadn’t shaved who wasn’t in a suit. And now they walk out like they just walked out the pub is standards dropping, do you think and that’s why what you’re saying now makes perfect sense to me, you’re actually taking control of the situation. So all the people that think they are being authentic by just rocking up in the clothes, they normally were, actually are three steps behind you because you prepared for it?
Laura Gassner Otting [16:45]
Well, but see, but that’s where I would argue that they in fact are authentic to who they are. And if walking in unshaven and not in a suit is what allows them to feel like their version of themselves so that they can have confidence to live into their own voice, then create. So for years, I ran an executive search firm, and we would walk into client meetings and we’ve either pitch them, you know, these big giant expensive projects, or we would be presenting them with with candidate pools and ask them to make major decisions about the direction of the organization. And I would notice for the first year or so every new staff member I had, they would walk in and they would present trying to do their best elbow and pressing impersonation, they were trying to be me. And they weren’t good at it. And it wasn’t because they weren’t good. It was just that they weren’t good at being me. And the same way that I wouldn’t be good at being them. So it wasn’t until they figured out their own voice and then lived into that voice that they became great. And, and so I show up polished with makeup, you know with with with nice clothes with, you know, with things that make me feel like the authentic version of myself. And that’s what gives me confidence and power. If these people show up with you know, unshaven and you know not in a suit and that’s what feels like that they’re authentic person that gives them the ability listen to that voice and gives them power then great. So I think authenticity really needs to be Who are you and how do you want to live that
David Ralph [18:10]
life? I am flippin I am sarcastic and I try to do the bare minimum that that’s basically me and chemical you LG Oh, I like that. LG Oh
Laura Gassner Otting [18:21]
yeah, that’s my friends call me I’m Hey, LG. Oh on all the socials and everywhere. That’s who I am. LG. Oh,
David Ralph [18:26]
I wish I had a sort of an abbreviation. Mine’s Dr. So it’s just Dr. That doesn’t work. But LG. LG is excellent. So we’ve you bought that comes out how to ignore everybody. And this is actually I get so many pitches on law to come on. And especially with people with books and I’ve got here we go chapter five, they’re going to talk about this in chapter eight. But yours how to ignore everybody spoke to me, because instantly you’re making yourself a category of one you’re breaking free from the comparisons are across social media, and you’re just doing your own thing that’s gonna be held life is about isn’t it becoming your own category of one?
Laura Gassner Otting [19:06]
Well, I’d like to think so. I mean, like I said, when my staff was trying to be me, they weren’t that good at it in the same way that I wouldn’t have been that good of being them. And so I think we all have to each one of us is wonderful and unique and quirky. And I think it’s not until we learn how to live into that person, that we really find our stride. You know, there’s a Harvard Business Review article that talks about your fundamental state of leadership. And you know, think about those moments when you have been firing on all cylinders, you were making it rain, you were closing the deal, you were wooing the guy, we were in the girl, whatever, like the you were, you were just on fire. Or, you know, maybe it was a moment when you were helping a loved one through a tough situation or helping a colleague through a hard problem, or maybe talking to your wife about, you know, talking about her that she didn’t like, but it was it could have been allowed public, bright moment, it could have been a quiet, dark, private moment, it could be anything, but it’s when you were like unfettered, you were just everything that was inside of you was being called to task for the problem at hand. And that’s your fundamental state of leadership. And I think that’s the place where each one of us is uniquely our own personal, amazing, badass self. And I think that’s where we’re each leaders, you know, it may be that you’re standing on stage in front of 2000 people and you’re a leader, it may be that you’re the CEO, and you’re the leader. But it may just be that your younger brother looks up to you. And you’re the leader, maybe that there are people in your community that see you as a leader, you could be in center stage, you could be stage left, in behind the scenes. And I played both of those roles in my career and have learned to learn what works in each of them. But I think that, you know, the book was originally called purpose, how to do work that matters. That’s boring. And and it was originally supposed to be a guidebook and you know, the guidebook are written chapter one problem, solution, Chapter Two problem solution, chapter three problem solution. And I goes on for 10 chapters, but I think all your audience members will fall asleep if I keep going. And, and I was having a really hard time writing this, you know, a publisher asked me to do and I was having a really hard time doing it. And I called him up about a month into the process. And I was like, Look, this isn’t working. And I just, I don’t think I’m the person for you. Because I can’t write this book about purpose in this format. It’s just, it’s not working for me. And he said, Yeah, actually, I would agree. And we’re not going to publish this book. I was like, Wait, what? That wasn’t the answer I was expecting. And he said, but you know, I think you’ve got a really big idea here. And I think we want to publish it as a hardback in the spring, when big idea of books come out. And then I had this moment of panic.
David Ralph [21:56]
What Why do they come out in the spring, Ben, is that because everything’s new, and you’ve come up with winning two, and everyone feels good? Is that why they do that?
Laura Gassner Otting [22:01]
Yeah, I mean, I think big idea books come out in November and an April and we were having this conversation in like October, right? So it was too late for November. So it’s either November before like holiday buying season, or it’s April when people are looking for graduation gifts and summer reading. And you know, it’s just sort of the timing of the year. These are things that I learned about the publishing industry along with 7 billion other things that I never knew even existed. And so I had this moment of panic. And I thought, Oh, my God, this wasn’t the book. I was intending it right. And I’m not really sure this is what I want to do. And I don’t really know what I would even call it and I called a friend of mine, who’s amazing at titling things, government of clay a bear. And
David Ralph [22:41]
he’s been on my show many years.
Laura Gassner Otting [22:45]
So you know, Clay, and you know that he is incredible Academy talking about somebody who gets words, he is amazing at capturing ideas in short phrases. And he said, Well, what do you want people to think like, after they’ve read the book, I said, Well, I want them to stop being limited by everybody else’s idea of success. And I want them to just ignore them, and have their own life and just live a great life. And then we spend 45 minutes going back and forth, and purpose, how to do work that matters became limitless, how to ignore everybody carve your own path and live your best life. And at that moment, when we came to it, I said, Clay, I love you. And we never spend enough time talking. And I want to talk to you all day long. But I have to hang up the phone right now, because this book is beginning to pour out of me. And I swear I wrote the book in like three weeks at that point, because it just it was so it had it. The book is about consonants, about figuring out how to make what you do match who you are. And that was a meta moment where I became unburden unlimited by this other title that the book had, and then suddenly was was so uplifted by the new one, that it just all came out in such a perfect way. And it’s all because it’s all because of the title. So I’m glad that the title stuck out for you. Because I do think that the title and the beautiful covers really been what’s helped propel this book to become a best seller.
David Ralph [24:10]
Well, let’s play some words. Now motivational words, and then we’re going to come back to LG Oh, he’s Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [24:15]
my father could have been a great comedian. But he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an account. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you
David Ralph [24:40]
love. Now, we’ve only been speaking for about 25 minutes or so. But I’m already thinking to myself, the younger Laura that was walking through the the corridors of power in the White House. Did you find that really restrictive or empowering? Because I can’t imagine? That is you? I can’t you you seem to want to express yourself, where politics is all about red tape and finding a way through Really?
Laura Gassner Otting [25:08]
Well, when I was walking through the corridors of power of the White House, I was barely 22 years old, and I was still wearing my mother’s hand me down suits with the giant crystal Carrington shoulder pads. Yeah, I mean, it was great. I had the I had I had just graduated from college at University of Texas. I was a child of the 80s. As I mentioned earlier, I spent a very brief and non shining moment in law school, that I dropped out to join the Clinton campaign in Arkansas, and move to Washington DC. So Texas, Arkansas 80s, there were a lot of big shoulder pads, and I had the big hair to match. And the only thing that I didn’t have that was big was my voice I was so I was so scared of everything. I because I felt like I didn’t belong. I mean, you want to talk about imposter syndrome. I would walk into these offices, there’ll be all these bright young things. And they would walk in with their dog eared, you know, marked up copies of the washington post in the New York Times. And they would be sitting before meetings with start furiously scratching out notes on yellow legal pads. And I would think to them, I would think to myself, like, what are they thinking? Yeah, what what I did, like, I didn’t have any ideas, my head, and so many they couldn’t stop writing. And so I would just start writing random things.
David Ralph [26:29]
It doesn’t mean that they’re good ideas, does it?
Laura Gassner Otting [26:31]
But about 22 years old, you don’t know that you just think everyone else has lots of ideas, and you don’t. And all you do at that point is you compare yourself to everyone else. I was so busy comparing my bloopers to everyone else’s highlight reels like because that’s what was my perception. I just thought that everything they were writing must have been brilliant, because they were there. They got to the White House. And I didn’t think to myself, well, I got here too, right? Yeah, I just thought, you know, they got here and they belong. And but they’re, you know, Ivy League degrees. And they’re, you know, they’re, they’re their jackets with appropriate size shoulder pads. Clearly, they clearly have walked the halls of power before. And I think I was so busy trying to look smart that I didn’t actually get smart at the time. So I wasn’t so worried about being restricted. And what I said I was more worried about just having anything at all to say,
David Ralph [27:21]
I’ve always needed to be alpha, of actually restricting what I say, improve through my career through London and different places of work. I was always struck by those board meetings, where somebody would sit there for two hours and not say one thing, but when they open their mouth, it was brilliant. And I could never do that i every single gap. I had to jump in somehow, which I suppose has led me to where I am today. So it’s interesting, isn’t it about that that early version of yourself is probably it’s not even probably it’s definitely a link to where you should be you just can’t see at the time?
Laura Gassner Otting [27:57]
Oh, yeah, you know, it’s, I have come to learn.
I’ve come to learn that sitting quietly is more useful than I had originally thought. And it was mostly through a career in Executive Search. Because, you know, when you interview somebody and you ask them a tough question, and they give you an answer, you know, your immediate reaction is, well, I’m going to jump in and ask the next question, or I’m going to jump in with the follow up. But what I’ve learned, and especially when I would do reference checks, you know, I would spend a half hour on the phone doing reference checks. And I’d ask people tough questions. And I found that if I just waited and literally count in my head, like counted a beat a five in my head. Dates just keep talking, they’d say something else. And people are so nervous about quiet space, that they fill it with all the things that they didn’t mean to say. And that was what I really got all of the best information. So I think I am somebody who I like to talk, I speak for a living, this is what I do. My grandmother when she met my mom, husband, many, many, many, many years ago said you know, he’s very quiet doesn’t talk a lot. That’s okay, because you talk enough for two people. I’ve always been a talker. But I have learned that being a listener is really important too. And I would probably say that liking to jump in and fill the noise and be part of the conversation. That’s what you got. You’re here today. But you wouldn’t be as successful as you are here today. If you weren’t also a really good listener.
David Ralph [29:27]
I think Well, I think that is true. And I think that is something that Fortunately, I have developed into a superpower in my my professional life. But I’m really bad at it in my family life. It seems like once I go into the house, and I’m away from the recording studio, I switch off and they all accuse me of not paying attention. They’re not listening. It’s weird how you can have something that works so well in an environment. But actually, you can’t take it with you.
Laura Gassner Otting [29:52]
Yeah, that’s a really interesting thing. I have you ever tried to get better at it? Or is it just something you’ve accepted it? That’s part of who you are?
David Ralph [29:58]
I’ve been married for 30 years? I don’t try anymore? I don’t try to there’s not much really after 30 years that’s worthwhile me listening to Is There Really?
Laura Gassner Otting [30:10]
Well, I would say Happy wife happy life. So I’m not sure I agree with that.
David Ralph [30:16]
I just give you a glass of wine first thing in the morning and she’s happy for the rest of the day. That’s that’s how I that’s how I sold it with you as well. The thing that interests me is, so many people do a TEDx talk, a TED talk, and they bang on about it. And it’s the first thing that they always tell me when I pitch. Oh, I was a TEDx. I was TEDx. I think everyone is, but you seem to be kind of forced into it. It didn’t seem to be a recognized path to where you want it to be. It was like a first stepping stone would not be right.
Laura Gassner Otting [30:46]
Yeah, it’s sort of a bizarre story of how it came about I, you know, look, I could sit here and we have an entire yarn about how every step of my career has been strategic, thoughtful and executed exactly on plan. But that’d be bullshit, I’d be lying. And I and I love the premise of your show. Because I think that’s true for all of us. Like, Nobody puts together a path and then sticks on that path. And in fact, in 20 years of interviewing people at the top of their game, super successful people, I found the only not just the most interesting, but the only interesting people were the ones who had left turns and right turns and turns along the way. Because they’re the ones who figured things out about themselves and what really mattered as they went. And so, you know, I’ve been doing all these podcasts as I’m, as I’m doing the promotion of limitless. And I get asked a lot about like, Well, you know, how long did you know, you want to do this? And I just laugh and, and I tell them, and then I get the same question, right? Well, well, you’re being so vulnerable. But I do think it would be a disservice to anybody in any audience to say that this was all smart and planned ahead of time. And so I love the fact that your podcast is specifically for people to join up the dots later and look back and be like, oh, okay, here’s the central theme. Um, I ended up doing a TEDx not because I wanted to, not because I wanted to become a speaker. In fact, I didn’t want to become a speaker. Um, my, I was I, a friend of mine, who you should, if you haven’t already, should also have on your show, Tamsin Webster was the executive producer of TEDx Cambridge. And I got to know her years earlier, because she and I were both running the Boston Marathon as part of the same charity group. And there was a and at the time, my then nine year old son who’s now 14, had been running a blog. nine years old. This kid is all that in a bag of chips, Junior Stark trialist, and he would write about fashion food fun life, mostly because I thought he was kind of lazy in his in his writing and his thinking, and I wanted to sort of push him to figure out, you know, how to how to capture his ideas a little bit better, put a little, you know, elbow grease into into the thinking process. So, she comes running up to me one day, in the middle of like a 17 mile training run, we’d probably run like 15 miles at this point. And Tamsin is this tiny little sprite of a person with this Little Pixie haircut, and she comes running up next to me and she’s like, Hi, I’m Tamsin Webster.
David Ralph [33:18]
annoy her instantly, just that voice.
Laura Gassner Otting [33:21]
That wasn’t that her voice is much better. But like, you know, in my mind, this is what’s happening. And he
David Ralph [33:26]
sounds like Chucky, he sounds like Chucky has just run up to.
Laura Gassner Otting [33:30]
Well, she said, She’s like, She’s like, you don’t know me. But because we’re in this group together. We’re friends on Facebook. And I’ve, I’ve seen the posts of your son’s blog, which, you know, I was just putting on Facebook. So grandma could read them. It wasn’t like we were trying to create like an Instagram celebrity. And I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m the executive producer of TEDx Cambridge. And I’m wondering if you guys might want to do a TED talk about how we found his voice. And I like was looking at her like, are you real is do you exist? 15 miles of running. And I didn’t really know my name at that. And she’s offering me this opportunity to think about doing this TED Talk. And of course, I was like, that’d be kind of cool. I don’t know, why not think I’m going to do this thing with my kid. Great. I come home, I say to my son, Toby, I was like, do you what do you think you have any interest in doing this? And he says to me a little picture, he says, Well, yeah, it sounds great. But if it’s about how I found my voice, why would you be on stage with me?
David Ralph [34:25]
That’s a good question, isn’t it?
Laura Gassner Otting [34:26]
It’s a good question. And so why I’m before I even do my first talk, I get kicked off stage. But I will say that over the course of the next six weeks of him going through the professional development, the training to do this TEDx, I came to learn that Tamsin was exceptionally good at what she did. In fact, it was the best professional development I’d ever had in my life, even just being a chaperone for him. And so she and I became friends and I and I spent a lot of time trying to talk her into leaving the company that she was with and going off on her own. So fast forward a few years, I sell my company, me to the women who helped me build it, and I’m having a little bit of a crisis of identity, you know, who am I, when I’m no longer CEO of this thing? handing over my business card to people like Who am I? And that probably goes back to the sort of control and need to be in power and put together and all of that. So I’ve sort of had this thread that was unraveling. And so I started my own blog, and I wrote something about this question about how we solve big problems and why we’re not able to do it. And I put it up on my, on my website. And so in the middle of this moment, this is when Tamsin is leaving her company and my phone rings, and it’s her and I think, well, I’m driving right now, but I better pick it up because she might be in crisis. She’s in the middle of this this thing. So I answer the phone and speakerphone, cuz you know, I’m a good mom, right? And she says, Hey, I’m
David Ralph [35:47]
sorry that you forced your kid to blog, you forced him up on the stage as a nine year old, so don’t play the good mother row.
Laura Gassner Otting [35:54]
Let me tell you, it comes back to bite me in the ass in the story, don’t you worry. So I am pick up the phone on speaker phone and she’s like, Hey, I saw your latest blog post. I think it’s a really interesting idea. You should think about applying to do a TEDx talk. And I say, no effing way I am scared to death of speaking in public, I have no interest in doing it. Not a chance. Goodbye, hang up the phone. And my older son looks at me and he’s like, so Mom, don’t you always tell me that? If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. And
David Ralph [36:26]
you don’t want that kind of conversation from the backseat do?
Laura Gassner Otting [36:28]
Yeah. And then I get that. Don’t you always tell me that life starts on the other side of the fear?
David Ralph [36:34]
Well, we tell him to take his seatbelt off of a break really sharply. Just for that comment?
Laura Gassner Otting [36:41]
Yeah. And then I get the Yeah. And don’t you always tell me that I have to do hard things.
David Ralph [36:49]
This is that this is not this kind of child you want you want a child just to be sitting there picking a nose in the backseat. You don’t want. You don’t want that kind of conscience kid.
Laura Gassner Otting [36:58]
Exactly. I’m like, Dude, look at your screen, more screen time for you.
So I was like, ah, and I drew a few expletives out and I’m like, I need to do this do nine. He’s like, yep. So I called Tamsin back. And six weeks later, there I am on the TEDx stage. And TEDx Cambridge is one of the bigger TEDx is in fact, I think outside of big Ted, it might be the second or third largest gathering. So we’re at the Boston Opera House, 2600 people, theater light, no notes, no net, just me and that red circle. And I went out there and I crushed it for 11 and a half minutes, and then I forgot where I was going 30 seconds. And eventually, I got it back. But if you watch the video, you can actually see me looking stage right at one point with this temporary moment of panic effect. But then I really back it. And I got it. And I forgot a couple of essential lines. But pretty much it was okay. I survived. And in the middle of that talk, I actually heard somebody in the audience laugh at a line that was supposed to be funny. And I went Oh, yeah,
David Ralph [38:01]
did a lot of things that weren’t supposed to be funny.
Laura Gassner Otting [38:04]
No, I actually pulled it off. I think I pulled it off. And, and and, and I immediately was like, that was interesting. I want more of that. And then I got an offer to go speak at the Idaho State of Idaho’s annual convention for nonprofit organizations to keynote and they were like, will offer you 1500 dollars and pay your airfare and I thought, What, really, you’re gonna pay me to come talk. Cool. So I got an airplane. And I went out there and I gave a 45 minute talk. And then I got another offer. And another offered another offer with more money. And I thought, well, if I’m going to do this, as a professional, I better actually become a professional. And so I got training, and I got involved in this group of amazing speakers. And those people introduced me to other people. And Fast Forward three years, and I make a living as a speaker, it was absolutely not the plan. But what I found was that there there’s a message that I want to bring out into the world. And the only way to do that at scale is to talk to lots of people at once. And because I was getting on the stage, and I was talking about finding your voice and having confidence and living the life that you know that you have within you, I began to feel inauthentic not having a book, right? I don’t have a PhD in neuroscience psychology. I didn’t have a book and I and I had friends that would say, you know, you spent 20 years stewarding and studying and recruiting leaders in massive moments of career shift. That’s your book, like that’s your credibility, but I felt like I needed something else. And so this whole journey led me to becoming a speaker to becoming an author to having this set, you know, to having this book and being on this path that was completely unexpected and not at all imagined. In fact, I was working on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and had mostly expected to be sitting in the White House reading presidential personnel in this administration, because I was worked for Bill Clinton back long ago, and that I spent 20 years helping people find careers, mission driven, purpose driven work that there are very few people that fit in the middle of that Venn diagram of being in the clinton circles and knowing how to do talent development, management recruitment, at that highest level.
David Ralph [40:18]
So I would argue about you’ve become a category of one bringing the episode all the way back.
Laura Gassner Otting [40:24]
I’m a category of LG Oh,
David Ralph [40:26]
yeah. LG Yo, LG. Oh, did you? Did you have your own theme tune?
Laura Gassner Otting [40:32]
I should I should have my own theme. Yeah, there’s a band called The interrupters who have the song called take back the power and it starts with like, what’s your plan for tomorrow? Are you a leader? Or will you follow? And it’s just really like, in your face, like kind of Joan Jett sort of feeling? Yeah. And I actually wrote to them, and I asked them if I could license their music for like my walk on music, but they’d sit now. It’s very sad.
David Ralph [40:55]
You know, you can do the first 30 seconds, so they don’t have to pay you a thing. So if you just ran on really quick. You do it?
Laura Gassner Otting [41:04]
Sounds like a good plan. Yeah, I bet you that even if even in high heels.
David Ralph [41:07]
Yeah, I like
high heels. I don’t struggle. Put me in a set of high heels, I can still do the Boston Marathon I it’s easy. Well, let’s play some words now from a guy who basically framed the whole show with a classic speech back in 2005 is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [41:22]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [41:58]
We’ve already touched on these things time for the 1500 episodes. And it’s true, isn’t it? You’ve got to have faith in something and more enough to know that faith is just in you.
Laura Gassner Otting [42:09]
Yeah, I think it’s true. And I think we don’t necessarily know it. I mean, I think that’s why I would say to my staff members, don’t try to be me, try to be you be 100% you and that’s where you’ll find success. But I imagine
David Ralph [42:23]
anybody really thinking that I could be you. I’ve been with you for 42 minutes. And I’m kind of exhausted, I spent force. So why would anybody want to be a force of nature like yourself, it must be exhausting to try to be that every single day.
Laura Gassner Otting [42:43]
You know, it’s not exhausting to me, because it’s who I am. Yet, but it would be exhausting to me to be an empath. I feel deeply about everything all the time. I don’t know how people do that. You know, I think my husband does math for living, that would be exhausting to me. I think each one of us can do the thing. That is who we are right? We can live that authentic life for who we are. I think the exhausting part is when we try to be someone else.
David Ralph [43:08]
I think the exhausting part actually You are right. But I think the exhausting part is, first of all, finding that thing that you naturally do better than anyone else, and then turning it into money. I think that’s the biggest path that people have to cross.
Laura Gassner Otting [43:22]
Yeah. And I think the other problem is that I mean, I would agree with that. I think the other problem is that we think that we have to have that figured out really early. And we think that if we hadn’t figured it out really early, and then we go on a different path, whether it’s you know, being an accountant, or a lawyer or mechanic or whatever it is that we’re doing. We think that that then is our path. And we don’t stop part with your life and say, you know, that path might have worked for me at some point. But it doesn’t work for me now. And it’s okay to change paths. That’s all right, too.
David Ralph [43:50]
So before we bring you on to the Sermon on the mic, and send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self, are you are you really where you should be now? Or do you think this is just a now of adults and four years down the line you’re going to be pivoting into into movies or, or hosting the today show and getting people to just come on unshaven because it’s the way to do it.
Laura Gassner Otting [44:11]
I think we’re I belong is under the oak tree with Oprah super soul Sunday.
David Ralph [44:19]
About Oprah all the time, because she’s kind of well known over here. But it’s not hero worship, but over there. She’s She’s like, Oh, my God, isn’t she?
Laura Gassner Otting [44:28]
Well, I think that she is somebody who has lived a life. She is a category of one, she is somebody who, who, who succeeded against all odds, and is able to move people to think and act a different way, because she gives them somehow permission to do it. Because she’s empathic because she’s motivational because she’s vulnerable. You know, this is also somebody who shares a whole lot about parts of her life, but not that much about others. And, you know, I think people can see themselves in her struggles and in her success. And so, you know, she, she, she is, she is very good at allowing people to give themselves permission to take chances and to do things differently. And I think the, my message is really aligned with that. And so I, you know, when people like, what’s your big, your big moonshot goal. And I think, you know, I don’t know, the Oprah, the oak tree with Oprah, or, you know, maybe this books becomes required reading for every college freshman who’s trying to figure out their path and feels like they have to have it all figured out before, frankly, they have a frontal lobe, you know, the part of your brain that allows you to make good decisions, were asked to make the decision about the rest of our lives before we have our frontal lobe fully.
David Ralph [45:43]
So you wouldn’t say join up thoughts was the big one. And you you you gave two examples, man, but you didn’t add a third, even if it was, you know, way down the bottom of the list?
Laura Gassner Otting [45:52]
Oh, well, I was getting to the third and you interrupt
David Ralph [45:55]
me, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’ve been
I’ve been married for 30 years. That’s what I do.
Laura Gassner Otting [46:00]
And then the third is join up dots. This iconic podcast, which really has 1500 episodes just help people think about how they can connect the dots by looking back and realize there’s a path and a theme that helps them figure out their direction forward.
David Ralph [46:14]
You say you lost your power there, I took the power away from you and you became my puppet, I thought the strings and you did back? Well, we’re going to see if the younger version would do the same thing, because this is the part called to serve on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could speak to the young lover, what age would you choose? And what advice would you like to give her where we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music. And when it beats you up, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Laura Gassner Otting [47:07]
So Laura, here is your advice for your younger self. Don’t worry about the guy you’re dating. Don’t worry about the wrinkles on your face. Don’t worry about not having exactly the right close all of the moments when you are into your failure or not finale, they are fulcrum and your ability to learn from that failure to fall down and pick yourself back up and develop the tenacity and the grit will help you understand what your passion is. Stop taking advice from girls and flower crowns on social media and stop listening to them telling you have to have it all figured out. And that you should follow your passion. You’re going to need to invest in your passion, you are going to need to be beaten up by your passion. Don’t think don’t answer the question. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Because that’s not your passion? That’s your safe space? Answer the question, What would you do if you knew for sure you were going to fail. But you would do it over and over again. Anyway, that’s really your passion. Stop listening to your fourth grade teacher who told you that you were an argumentative young woman and would become a good, good lawyer. Stop listening to your grandmother who told you that you had to have the perfect marriage. Stop listening to your boss who told you that the definition of success was the fat bottom line but figure out what your definition of success is figure out who you are, when you’re at your very best figure out what gives you consonants what allows you to have a calling that matters to you that your work connects on a daily basis to it that contributes to the kind of life and the lifestyle that you want to have and gives you the kind of control you need over all of those things and more. Stop listening to everybody else’s definition of success. Stop filling in all the checkboxes to the right internship and the right school and the right house and the right spouse and the right kids, you know music after school program and figure out your path for your definition of success so that you can be unique, wonderful quarterly you
David Ralph [48:59]
and you know I think I’ve she agreed your teacher from from being with you today.
Laura Gassner Otting [49:04]
Well, I told her she was wrong. Of course, I’m an argumentative young woman. And I did end up in law school but I was there for a hot minute until I got to this point where I said this isn’t for me and this isn’t how I’m going to express what I want to do in the world. And aren’t we glad that you ignored her advice? So LG Oh, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you? Yes, so they can find me on all the socials at Hey, LG Oh like hey there he y LG Oh, I’m on the web at Hey, LG Oh calm and the book limitless how to ignore everybody carve your own path and live your best life is on Amazon. com amazon.uk, Barnes and Noble anywhere fine books are sold.
David Ralph [49:48]
We will have all the links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. LG Oh, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots, and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Laura, thank you so much.
Laura Gassner Otting [50:07]
Thank you for having me.
David Ralph [50:10]
LGO, how to ignore everybody in coffee room Park and live your best life. And it really is important I do you think so many people get hung up with looking at what other people are doing and trying to match up. And of course, you can’t see the dots behind the scenes of what’s happening. You can’t see the struggles that they’ve had to go through. And everybody in the entrepreneurial world will have had dark nights of the soul where they’re thinking, this isn’t getting anywhere. I don’t know why I’m doing this. And just hoping for a crack where the light will shine through them. So don’t compare to everybody else. Just get your head down and do the work and become the category of one and you will start to see magic occur. I promise you, I promise you. So until next time, thank you to everybody who’s dropping those lines listening to the show any ratings and reviews in countries across the world, especially sort of the the more unusual slave in the podcasting fraternity of America, Australia and stuff I could really do with those that would help me jump up the categories and get hurt by more and more people. But until next time, as long as you’re here that is good enough for me. Thank you so much for being here. And I will see you soon. Cheers. Bye bye
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.