Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 147 | June 8, 2021
Founder and CEO of Fierce, Inc.
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. It is my deep belief that every critical moment in our lives starts with a difficult conversation. Good communication is the key to success and the key to any relationship in both business and in our personal lives. Today, I am very excited to have as my guest, Susan Scott, who is one of the leading experts in the field of effective communication, a best-selling author, and the Founder of Fierce, Inc. Her clients include mega companies such as Starbucks, Yahoo, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. Susan is the author of two hugely successful best-selling books, Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership. She is a popular and sought-after Fortune 100 public speaker and renowned leadership development architect. Known for her bold, practical approach to executive coaching and leadership development, Susan has been challenging people to say the things that are hard to say for over two decades.
Susan tells us all about herself, how she became so passionate about communication. She shares her story on how she decided to start Fierce, Inc., and write her first book, Fierce Conversations. , She tells us how she wanted these conversations to have something more meaningful and something that connected at a deeper level with people. She explains that the key idea is that the conversation is the relationship, and it’s a skill that you can be learned. She talks about why the most common mistake of communication is misunderstanding. In Susan’s first book, she explains “beach ball reality”. She shares an inspiring story of how Robert Redford starts every meeting. Susan goes in depth about leadership, and tells us why a great leader needs both, “smart, plus heart.” Susan explains when it comes to communication, she believes most people get it, want to learn it,, and often see results right away. Also, find out about Susan’s new book coming out next year called, Fierce Love. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit follow, and download all the previous episodes to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication.
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Susan Scott (2s):
No, you can see when the penny drops, you just see it and you realize, okay, this person just got it. And this is going to change this individual’s life. Because once you understand that you’re navigating your life one conversation at a time. And one of the other really key notions, which is that, you know, the conversation is the relationship. Our most valuable currency is relationship. Once you understand that and that every conversation you have is either enriching flat-lining or harming your relationship. Once you understand that you can’t not know it, you can’t shut it out.
Susan Scott (43s):
You’re always conscious of it.
Welcome to difficult conversations: lessons I learned as an ICU physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and president and CEO of the Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author, Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders how to navigate, through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 31s):
Well, a big warm welcome to another episode of difficult conversations: lessons I learned as an ICU physician. If you’ve listened to this podcast before or attended any of my workshops or lectures, I’m quite certain that you have heard me say this over and over again, that it is my deep belief, that every critical moment in our lives starts with a difficult conversation. How we navigate through those conversations can make the difference between success and failure. Good communication is the key to success and the key to any relationship in both business and in our personal lives. That’s why I am especially excited to have as my guest today one of the leading experts in the field of effective communication.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 15s):
Susan Scott is a best-selling author and the founder of fierce Inc. After 13 years leading CEO think tanks, and more than 10,000 hours of conversations with senior executives, she founded fierce Inc. In 2001. Her clients include such mega companies as Starbucks, Yahoo, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. Susan is the author of two, usually successful and highly respected best-selling books. Her first book, and one of my all time favorites was Fierce Conversations published in 2002. It remains even 20 years later number 12 on Amazon communication and management and top 50 in business communication skills.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 58s):
Her second book Fierce Leadership was published in 2009 and was equally successful. And last I checked was just, yesterday is still in the Amazon top 100 in its category. Susan is a popular and sought after fortune 100 public speaker renowned leadership development architect. Known for her bold practical approach to executive coaching and leadership development. Susan has been challenging people to say the things that are hard to say for over two decades. She lives in Seattle, Washington. I hear in a tree house. I can’t wait to hear that story. I want to welcome Susan.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 39s):
Welcome. And thank you so much for being on this podcast tonight.
Susan Scott (3m 42s):
You’re so welcome, Tony. It’s truly as a privilege, I’ve been looking forward to this. I think you’re one of my new best friends.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 49s):
Well, thank you. You interviewed me a few days ago and I was just saying before we started recording that, I think I’m going to get used to this speaking to Susan a couple of times a week now. So this is going to be fun. So whenever I do an interview or give a lecture workshop, one of the first things that people ask me, and in fact, you asked me when you were talking with me, why I became so interested and passionate about communication. And I talk about it in my book and that everybody has this profound moment, and maybe it’s a lot of little moments. And so I tell my story in the book, but I’ve been waiting to hear yours because I know all about your work and many people know about your books, but how did you get to this point?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 29s):
Who’s Susan and how did she get to be at the pinnacle of her career being on my podcast ?
Susan Scott (4m 39s):
I majored in English and I taught English. So I was not a business person did not have an MBA. Did spend some time as a recruiter, which I began to know a little bit about business. And then suddenly found myself, invited to chair, two groups of CEOs in Seattle, where I live. And that was a miracle because I don’t think I would qualify now all these years later, I think they would look at my background as say no, what could she possibly bring to this. But it was an amazing opportunity that also scared me after death because I was supposed to spend, and I did spend two hours every month, just one-to-one with each of them. And there were 30 total. So that’s a lot of conversations with these CEOs, everything from software to coffee, to manufacturing, everything you can imagine.
Susan Scott (5m 26s):
And then one day, every month, each group would spend the day together to advise one another. So I knew one thing for sure. I was not going to be advising them on what they needed to do in their businesses. I listened. The funny thing was that, you know, when I’d walk in the door, they’d just start talking. I think they were just thrilled to death to have somebody who was hanging on every word, totally present someone to whom they could say anything, because we were sworn to confidentiality. That was the one person, the world that could say anything to you and their spouses were tired of hearing about it. I’m sure. And so they would just talk and talk and talk.
Susan Scott (6m 7s):
But I eventually learned that we weren’t always talking about the thing we needed to be talking about, maybe because they didn’t want to bring it up. That was too complicated. It was too hard. It was too scary. It was too embarrassing, whatever it was. So I realized I need to change the way I begin these conversations. And so I started beginning them with given everything that’s on your plate, everything, that’s got your name on it, everything. What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about today and off we’d go. And then I had a series of questions that would take us deeper and deeper because sometimes, you know, what you put on the table is a symptom.
Susan Scott (6m 48s):
It’s not the issue. You would know that best as a physician. So, you know, what’s really going on. So these questions that would go deeper and deeper and they would arrive at their own insights and their own action plan. And I just had to ask the questions and listen with every subatomic particle of my body pay fierce attention. And then in the monthly meetings where you’ve got 15 pats in the room, some of whom like to take up a lot of airtime, you know, how do you make sure there’s conversation that a member has put on the table that matters a great deal. There’s a lot at stake to gain or lose based on getting this right.
Susan Scott (7m 29s):
I mean, how do you chair that meeting so that we really do get all of the diverse perspectives and we end up with something that is truly innovative, truly complete. I mean, just elegant rather than the simple solutions. It’s really easy to arrive at good plea.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 50s):
Well, I’m thinking back. So you’re young, right? You’re talking with all these big CEOs and you’re coming out with this common thread and these thought process. And I always say you’re best at things you’re most passionate about. You must have just loved all of it.
Susan Scott (8m 3s):
I did love it. And the other thing that I realized was that, you know, when something bad would happen in a company, you know, maybe they lost their biggest client or they lost a key employee for who may have wonderful plans or the team just, wasn’t not implementing the strategy. The team was coming with all their reasons and excuses, why they couldn’t pull it off. And sometimes it would be even a distraught human being who was wondering, how did I manage to lose an 18 year marriage that I was not prepared to lose? So when they would arrive at one of those horrible events results, but when we would talk about the, how did they get there at that awful place?
Susan Scott (8m 48s):
And they got there one failed or one missing conversation at a time, the flip side, you know, when they had something spectacular to celebrate a brand new client that their competition would kill for it, they would become an organization that was a destination for recruiters rather than a resource. People wanted to come there and their teams were strong and their marriages were strong. How did they get there? It was one wonderful one important one productive, one fierce conversation at a time. And the thing that sort of provoked it all was I was reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and the characters ask, how did you go bankrupt?
Susan Scott (9m 29s):
And he responds gradually. And then suddenly
Dr. Anthony Orsini (9m 31s):
I love that quote. And that must be how you decided to start Fierce.
Susan Scott (9m 35s):
Exactly. Because I thought that’s it, our careers, our companies, our relationships and our lives succeed flat-line or fail gradually, then suddenly one conversation at a time. So really, I mean, it’s all about the conversations, but what gets talked about in a company and how it gets talked about absolutely determines what’s going to happen and what isn’t going to happen. And also who gets invited to the conversation. That’s another very important piece. It shouldn’t always be just the usual suspects.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 7s):
Yeah. I said in my introduction, I say this all the time at every critical moment of your life starts with a difficult conversation. And I truly believe that if we can learn to navigate through those conversations, we’ll be better off professionally and personally. And so you embark in the set, I’m going to start my own company and you started Fierce, correct?
Susan Scott (10m 28s):
I wasn’t going to, I wasn’t going to do any of that. But what happened was that the CEOs were doing really well. They’d be interviewed. They would talk about their conversations with me and their conversations with each other, word got out. Other people who were doing similar work would say, what are you doing with your people? And I would tell them, next thing I know I’d be invited to come inside a company. You know, I want my executives to be able to have meetings like this, to be able to have one-to-one select this. This is so amazing. And over time, Tony, people said, this is awesome. Please write this down. I can only take so many notes and I love your words. And I finally gave in and wrote it down. And it became the first book, Fierce Conversations, achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time and realized that there was something here that the response and this was glow.
Susan Scott (11m 20s):
I was traveling around the world, teaching this long before I wrote the book and the response to these conversations, these approaches and people practicing, having them were so profound. And sometimes people would say, I had no idea. It was even possible to have a conversation like this. And so I knew I wasn’t the only person on the planet who really wanted more than the usual chit chat. And I wanted something deeper, something more meaningful, something that connected at a deeper level with person or the people that you know, I was talking with. And I was in good company.
Susan Scott (12m 1s):
I mean, I think most of us want that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (12m 3s):
Yeah. I think that’s why you and I become so close because we enjoy the same thing. When we teach someone to navigate through these conversations, that you’ve mentioned that there’s a look in their eyes and sometimes it’s like, they just learned how to play the piano and they look at you and go, oh my God, that’s awesome. I love that. Right. And so what a great feeling.
Susan Scott (12m 26s):
You can see when the penny drops. I mean, you just see it and you realize, okay, this person just got it. And this is going to change this individual’s life. Because once you understand that you’re navigating your life one conversation at a time. And one of the other really key notions, which is that, you know, the conversation is the relationship. And our most valuable currency is relationship. Once you understand that, and then every conversation you have is either enriching flat-lining or harming your relationship. Once you understand that you can’t not know it, you can’t shut it out.
Susan Scott (13m 7s):
You’re always conscious of it. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get it right every time. Cause I certainly still don’t. Sometimes I’ll have to say, Hey, that’s not what I meant to say. Can I have another go? Please
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 21s):
Say, sometimes it’s almost like rewiring someone. I think most people don’t even think about the way they had conversations. And then once you bring it to their attention and they’re saying, oh, I’d like that. So that’s great.
Susan Scott (13m 32s):
And it was a skill. It truly is a skill that you can learn and you should be very proud of it. It’s not a, and it’s not a soft skill either. I mean, fierce conversations. It’s a strategy for getting things done. It’s the culture. It’s what you catch. When you come here into a company, it’s how we talk with one another. With our clients, with our customers, with our vendors, it’s such an important part of any organization’s culture. It’s a big deal. It’s more than just taking some training. It’s truly a way of life. Everything that we teach works at home equally well.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 5s):
So it works in your professional and your personal life. And I do believe that it can be taught. I know people out there asking, cause I love the name. Why do you call it fierce conversations?
Susan Scott (14m 16s):
I have to give credit to a guy named David White, a poet actually from the Yorkshire Dales in England. And he was giving a talk and I was listening to him and he used the phrase, fierce conversations. And I don’t know Tony, it went through me like a sort of a little lightning bolt I thought, oh yeah, I want some of that. I love it scares me a little bit, but I think there’s probably something there. And of course I got to define what we mean by a fierce conversation. And it’s really the simplest definition. It’s one in which we come out from behind ourselves, into our conversations and make them real.
Susan Scott (14m 56s):
We disclose what we’re really thinking and feeling. And
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 58s):
You say in the book, all conversations are with myself. And sometimes they involve people.
Susan Scott (15m 7s):
That is because the most common experience of communication is misunderstanding. Because you say one thing and I hear something else. I mean, even something as simple as picture your dream house, somebody might picture a penthouse apartment. Somebody might see a little place by the sea at cottage in the woods, a tree house. I mean, who knows, we’re all really different and our context, all of those beliefs and those attitudes and those perceptions that are kind of baked in, we’re running everything that we experience, including what people say through that and interpreting it and often getting it wrong and being misinterpreted in turn.
Susan Scott (15m 50s):
So the part of fierce conversations is okay, here’s what I heard. Is that what you meant?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 54s):
One of the things I love about your book and what you teach is that it’s also very practical. It’s easy to learn. I’m going to talk about a few things about your first book and we’ll get into your second book. But I think to really illustrate how you teach fierce conversations, to me sums it up in the beach ball, reality that you talk about. Can you explain that to the audience,
Susan Scott (16m 16s):
This is about how to lead it an amazing meeting that is almost like a think tank and companies really. I mean, my gosh, they’re so boring half the time, especially if you’re in yet another zoom meeting and you know, you’re doing solitaire under the table or thinking about other things. And I mean, meetings can just be killer in terms of energy. So how do you have a meeting that really wakes everybody up and go someplace interesting and arrives at some place? Even more interesting where people can’t wait to come to the next one and feel very proud of what they did. So I think back to some work that I did with Madeline Albright years ago, we were in Washington, DC.
Susan Scott (16m 59s):
We were working with a bunch of women in politics. God loved them. We took Q and A and someone asked her, you know, if you had all of the, because she was secretary of state at that time, if you had all of the world leaders sitting here listening to you and you could advise them, but you could only say one thing, what would you say? And she said, without missing a beat, she said, I would advise them that what matters anywhere matters everywhere. I love that. What matters anywhere on this beautiful blue marble of a planet of ours matters everywhere.
Susan Scott (17m 41s):
Especially right now with a pandemic. We need everybody to be vaccinated. We need to be safe all of us, but it’s true in a company. What matters anywhere in a company matters everywhere in the company or should. And so the beach ball meeting is you think about what is the topic? Okay, here’s the topic, here’s the problem we want to solve, or the decision we need to make, or the strategy you have to design or the opportunity we need to evaluate. And an important philosophy is of mine is that a leader’s job is, is not to be right. A leader’s job is to get it right for the organization.
Susan Scott (18m 24s):
So to get it right, we need multiple competing perspectives on the topic. And so we need to think about, okay, who should I invite? Whose perspectives would be important for me and for us, whatever’s making the decision to understand before they make that decision. And you invite those people in and you think of it as every single person in a company is standing on a different colored stripe on the corporate beach ball and is experiencing the company from that stripe. If I live on the green stripe and you live on the red stripe, you and I can’t even see each other, we’re on opposite sides of the beach ball. And so you might be talking about how red everything is and I’m sitting here thinking, what is he talking about?
Susan Scott (19m 11s):
It’s green, it’s not red, it’s green. And so if you ask, what color is your company? It’s all of those colors. It’s all of them. So Robert Redford’s really good at this when he’s very creative about who he invites to a meeting. And he says at the beginning, which is something else that not enough leaders do, he says, here’s the topic you were invited because I want to know your perspective on it. I’m going to tell you what mine is. And I’m even going to tell you if I had to make a decision right now today, without your input, this would be my decision for these reasons. Your value here is to tell me what I’m missing. You know, what are you seeing that I’m probably not saying. And if the idea of pushing back on me, challenging me, scares you, it shouldn’t because that truly would be your value.
Susan Scott (19m 57s):
And if we get it right, I will be different. I will be different. When this conversation is over.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 3s):
I saw that quote in your book. I love that. I have it written down right here and say, I’m inviting you to influence me. I want to be different. When this meeting is over,
Susan Scott (20m 15s):
Who ever hears that from their leader, everybody would lean forward into that conversation and want to be very helpful. And also there are methodologies throughout the meeting where you make sure you call on everyone. So if somebody hasn’t spoken, what’s it look like from where you sit. And they’re only two answers that aren’t acceptable. One would be, I don’t know. And if they say that, you would say, well, what would it be? If you did know, I just wouldn’t let them squirm. Or if they said, well, I don’t have anything to add because Kathy pretty much said, you know what I would say, then you would say, what would you add? If you did have something add? So people learn very quickly. You don’t get to come and check out.
Susan Scott (20m 57s):
You are going to be asked for your perspective. And then at the end, when you’ve heard from everybody, then you ask everybody to be quiet, to write down on a piece of paper. What would you advise me the most excellent advice you could give me right now, given everything that we have just explored together. It just one or two at the most things, no big long essay and no talking, no side talking. And then everybody reads what they’ve got. And then the leader says, thank you. Thank you. And thank you. And thank you. And thank you. I feel better prepared. Please put your name on those and give them to me so that if I want to talk with you further about your idea, I’ll remember whose it was.
Susan Scott (21m 36s):
What’s wonderful. Is that somebody who came into the meeting believing that the company is orange and only orange, it’s all orange at the end of the meeting when they say, well, this is, was my advice. You understand that they now see that it is also pink and blue and green. And you know, all these, we do influence one another. And I mean, I did this for an executive a head of an oil company and his administrative assistant was in the room. And at the end I asked her what her thoughts were. And she said, oh, I don’t have anything to add. I’m just the administrator. I hate it. When somebody says, I’m just the whatever. And I said, no, I really want to hear from you because you sit where everything happens.
Susan Scott (22m 18s):
You know, a lot about what’s going on, you know, where all the bodies are buried, you know, so much, what is your perspective? And she just looked like the deer in the headlights and all the guys. And they were all guys. They were looking at me like, huh, don’t do this to her. This is horrible. Don’t put her in this position, but I just waited. And eventually she said, well, you guys are not going to like this. I don’t think we’re talking about the real issue. I think the real issue is, and she put it on the table and everybody just about fell out of their chairs because she nailed it. And they knew that was the real issue. You just don’t know where the wisdom is going to come from.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 58s):
I was fairly honored to hear captain Mike Abrashoff speak. And he was on my podcast. I don’t know if you know that name or so it reminded me of your story. Reminded me of his story. He know he took over the worst ship in the Navy and asked every single sailor what they can do to improve it. And one sailor who was most reluctant asked him if he knew why they had to paint the ship so many times. And the captain said, no, I don’t know why. And his answer was because we use bolts that rust and the rust runs through. And that’s why we have to keep painting the ship. And he said, captain has anybody in the Navy ever heard of stainless steel. And he brought that to the Navy and guess what?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (23m 42s):
They changed the bolt. So no, everybody has really something to add. And I just love that in my business, Susan in healthcare and most of these audiences in healthcare, the beach ball analogy could not be more true. And I just finished the Ted talk, as you know, and I want to hear about yours also. And hopefully that’ll by the time this airs just beyond, but the Ted talk was about the impersonalization of medicine and professional burnout and high suicide rates and doctors. And I can tell you that I worked at a lot of places in there, almost all the same is that the green line is administration.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 24s):
The blue line is nursing. The pink line is patients and the gray line is the doctors and they never cross. And so I think what happens and I, you know, this is that the green line talks about the blue line. The blue line talks about the yellow line because they only see it from their point of view. And then you have the, you talked about the government, they didn’t have the politicians over there. They’re on some tiny black line. I don’t know where they are. Sometimes they’re totally lost. And they’re trying to dictate all the other lines, you know, thousands of miles away. So I think that’s great advice,
Susan Scott (24m 59s):
A little hilarity here. I was given some dating advice many years ago, and I was told there are five things it’s really important to look for in a man. You need to find a man who has a job, hopefully one for which he’s paid need a man who has a great sense of humor makes you laugh. You need to find a man who’s handy around the house. You need to find a man who’s a great lover. And the fifth thing is you need to make sure those four men never meet. That’s funny. Those four people never meet. And yet wouldn’t that be the perfect person?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 39s):
Yeah. Maybe we can get something done. What a thought,
Susan Scott (25m 43s):
An amazing experience. He brought up, you know, he was head of GE and he, they bought a manufacturing company and he called a big meeting in their warehouse. There a thousand people crowded into this warehouse and he said, well, this is a big problem here. We need to solve this. And I want to have your ideas. And a guy in the back and overalls held up his hand, they pass the mic back to him. The guy said, well, I’ve been thinking about that, Mr. Welch. And here’s what I think we could do. And he explained it. And Jack Welch said, that is a great idea. And the guy said, Mr. Welch, all these years, they have been paying for our hands when they could have had our heads for free.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 22s):
I love that. That’s great. That is great. Let’s move on to leadership. One of my favorite topics and the topic of your second book. But before we even get into the details of the second book, and then we have the third book coming out, I was reading your first book and I purposely didn’t read your book. I told you this right? When I was writing my book, I said, I read her book. God forbid something seeps in and I don’t want that to happen. But when I read your book, my mouth was open so many times because I’m like, oh my God. So there’s one part in the book. I didn’t tell you this before. There’s a saying that my grandfather taught me and said it many times. It is a saying that I’ve repeated over and over again in every workshop that I ever give.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (27m 8s):
And no one has ever heard it before. And I was told it was an old Italian saying, which I think it is because I looked it up and I read your book and they’re in big letters. It says the fish rots, right? Lauren, I called my wife. I like it is in her. The fish rots from the head down is the Italian saying. And I believe that boy that we take our keys from our leaders, the whole company. Right?
Susan Scott (27m 40s):
Yeah. And you know, so often the leaders, especially the higher up, they are, they don’t feel they need any learning, anything to do about conversations in meetings. And I remember in one session, we actually did have the boss in the room with his team. And he was sitting in the very front and you know, it was talking about here. It’s really important to do this and this. And he said, this absolutely what I do. And behind him, everybody was shaking their heads and signaling to me, no, he does nodo that. So, you know, a leader definitely does model what is appropriate and what is desired and what is going to get promoted. And what’s going to get attention and what’s going to get his approval or her approval.
Susan Scott (28m 26s):
And it’s not always healthy. It’s not always really healthy and great for the company. And so many times people have said, the problem is our leader, and I don’t know what to do about that. And so how do you go to your leader? How do you go to your CEO or just the head of your brand or whatever it is and say, I want to talk with you about something. If there is a way to do that and still keep your head not be made available to industry immediately, you know, even that, and sometimes that is what it takes for a leader to get the joke that I’m saying that I want innovation. I’m saying that the, how important that is, and I want new ideas and all this.
Susan Scott (29m 7s):
And every time somebody comes up with one, I shoot them down. And I say, yeah, I hear you. But you know, and pretty soon nobody’s bothering to even try. That’s just one example of the mistakes
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 18s):
Are people saying my door’s always open, but when you do come in, they’re very short with you. Please leave. I’ve asked this question to several guests because I’m not sure, I think I know the answer, but I want to hear what you have to say. So many companies promote the smartest person in the room and they can’t be leaders. And I think it’s going different ways now? Can you believe it’s possible to take just about anybody and turn them into a leader by teaching them the right way to communicate? Or do you think it’s just most people or do you think you should just take that leader and then teach them the skills?
Susan Scott (29m 59s):
I think it has everything to do with the belief system that persons operating from. You’ve got to get them to understand and grasp the one because you can teach somebody how all day long. But if they’re not convinced about the, why am I doing this? Why do I need to do this? They won’t do it. And I just do feel, we have a saying called smart plus heart. We really want both. We, I don’t think you can be a great leader without both of them. So we need your smarts bring in your brain sales, but we also need your heart. We need you to be able to connect with your employees and your customers at a deep level. We need for you.
Susan Scott (30m 40s):
And you write about this, Tony, the compassion, the empathy that needs to be present as well. And just because you’ve got this exalted title does not mean that is no longer important. That is very important. So smart plus heart. I have seen time and again, and I’m sure everybody has, you know, where someone just brilliant comes into a company with a fabulous plan, great ideas, and ends up riding out the back door on their white horse because they failed to capture people’s hearts. And that happens all the time. So you really need both. And I think if I were going to be working, I do sometimes coach leaders. Well, let’s start with your belief system.
Susan Scott (31m 20s):
For example, I believe that there’s more than one right way to live a life. So let’s not be so judgmental. Let’s not be so clear that your way is the highway. You know, I believe that everybody who comes into your company wants to contribute. And if you keep shooting them down, they become smaller and smaller until they’ll absent their spirit from the work. And then you’re dead. You know, I mean, all of these beliefs are what support the behavior and the behavior is easy to learn. But first you’ve got to understand a few things.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 54s):
And I believe at least in the world of healthcare, we’ve been doing thousands of doctors and nurses, et cetera. Doctors are not known for their phenomenal communication skills. I mean, let’s face it. Some of them are, but they aren’t. But what I find is, and we’ve looked at this, I would say there’s about 20% of the people that come to me and we do our training and, you know, we’re training, breaking bad news, you know, giving really difficult diagnoses, but also patient experience. 20 of them are just natural. And I want to hear what your thoughts are about that, where they’re just phenomenal speakers and people loved them and they walked into a room and it’s just inborn. And then I find about 15 or 20% of the people that I work with.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 38s):
I could train them every day from now until next year. They’re not going to improve much, but the rest, I think once you take that person, so they’re smart, they have a heart and now they have to convey that. And that’s where you come in. Do you find that’s the majority of the people that you speak with?
Susan Scott (32m 59s):
So I think it is the rare person who cannot grasp the importance of the way they’re talking to all of the conference. The rare I’m jumping around. But yesterday I kicked off a rollout of fierce conversations, training in a very large global company. And I had to compliment the CEO because it is the rare leader, given everything that calls for his or her attention. And in this case, it was, it’s a woman, which is a rare leader who turns her attention to the conversations in the company. And yet the conversations are the fulcrum that allow us to solve our issues and to do amazing things. So I find it, once you explain this to people, they get it.
Susan Scott (33m 43s):
I mean, I didn’t get it until I heard some ideas from other people. And I thought, holy smokes, of course, you know, and then I was launched and I find that’s most people’s experience. And there are some who are so terrified about transparency, about being in the room when somebody might be feeling emotional is they just don’t want to be there. They don’t know what to do. They don’t want to experience it themselves. And even they don’t even understand the importance of telling people how great they are in a way that it lands, because just saying good job at a boy and a girl that just doesn’t do it.
Susan Scott (34m 23s):
And you know, you have to be specific. Wow. The way you acted in the meeting today, people were really challenging you and you didn’t get defensive. You just kept saying, say more about that. Thank you for that. You blew my socks off, keep doing that. I mean that that’s part of fierce training. How do you do that? Express your appreciation of people. And so I do find that most people get it and want to learn it and start practicing it and then start seeing results right away,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (34m 53s):
Your book and your training makes people, at least for me anyway, want to like take a pad and a pencil as you’re reading, they’ll be like, oh, I love that. I’m going to write that down. Just like you said, I love that. I’m going to, I always say people just steal from me and I’ll steal from you. And I love what you said. I think it was during your Ted talk, you were talking about your first leadership book and said, you could also have called it the complete guide to the fricking obvious. I love that because that’s true, right. It’s stuff that we didn’t consider, but once you teach it to us, we’ve got to write that down.
Susan Scott (35m 23s):
It’s clear. It’s so clear. It’s like, how did I miss that? You know, how did I miss that? And it was David White that gave me the idea about relationships. He said, you know, the young man who’s newly married is often puzzled, frustrated, even irritated that this lovely person to him me as plight just troth before his face on a regular basis, wanting to talk yet again. But the feeling just talked about last night as something to do with the quality of the relationship. And you wonder is why are we talking about this again? And then he said long about age 42 and I remember he smiled because he was 42 and very long about age 42 of he’s been paying attention. It dawns on him, this robust conversation that I have been having with my wife.
Susan Scott (36m 7s):
It’s not about the relationship. The conversation is the relationship
Dr. Anthony Orsini (36m 12s):
That goes for a spouse that goes for a business leader to team member, doctor patient relationship nurse. It is, I love that it is the relationship. So I love that. I’ll probably steal that though.
Susan Scott (36m 27s):
You know, one time, one time offer that up very early in the training. And that idea came up. And one of the guys in the training shot up out of his chair, ran out of the room, came back about 10 minutes later. And he said, you guys I’m really sorry. But I had just had this feeling that I’ve got a customer who’s about to leave us. And I just called him and he is about to leave us and I’m on the first plane outta here. I gotta go sit down with him and save the relationship he’d been pretending not to know, but he knew somewhere in his subatomic particles, he knew there’s a conversation that needs to take place here. And he just had been putting it off. Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 5s):
As we’re getting close to the end, I want you to tell me about your new book. Cause that’s coming out soon, correct?
Susan Scott (37m 12s):
January of 22. So which is getting closer and closer and I’m very excited about it. So what has happened all these years, Tony is I get emails from people from all over the world saying, thank you for writing your books. I love it. I’m really using it, but I want you to know I’m using it at home. And I just had the best conversation with my wife or my husband or my partner that I’ve ever had. And I just wish you would write a book just on that. That book has been circling me for many years. You know, I have a wonderful CEO. Who’s running the company. Now it gives me a little bit of breathing room and I’ve written Fierce Love, creating a love that lasts one conversation at a time. And it has eight killer conversations for couples to have that I think are really important and how to have them in true stories that explain, you know, like here’s, this what’s going on with this couple and how they add it in it also busts some very popular myths about romantic love that mislead and derail us.
Susan Scott (38m 11s):
And I’m very excited about it. I think it will probably be more successful than my other books. And they’ve done just fine. But I think this is for the general public. This is not just for the business world. This is for everybody out there who wants to love better. I mean, love it doesn’t make itself. We make it or we fail to make it or we unmake, it. It’s not like God is up there ex machining. What happens in our lives? Certainly not the amount of love we have in our lives. That’s up to us and you know, it can seem complicated, but it really isn’t. It’s all about the conversations because the same thing is true for a romantic relationship. That is true for a company. What gets talked about in a relationship and how it gets talked about determines whether this relationship is going to thrive or flatline or expire.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (38m 60s):
I think the general appeal to that book because who doesn’t want to succeed in their relationship and love. So can’t wait for that book to come out. That’s going
Susan Scott (39m 9s):
To be really excited about that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 10s):
I’ll tell you a quick, funny story. I was giving a lecture in Oklahoma to a hospital about having difficult conversations and conflict resolution and this very young, of course, as I get older, everybody looks younger and younger, very young girl came up to me. She was a nurse practitioner and she just said, does this work with husbands? She just got married. So she was so cute. It was really funny. So I didn’t warn you, but I warn everybody else. But I know you’ve been on so many podcasts and this is right up your alley. So I didn’t warn you. I finished every podcast with the same question. You’re so knowledgeable.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 49s):
You probably talk for an hour about this, but I always ask every guest, what was the most difficult conversation or type of conversation that you were involved in? And can you please give some practical advice to other people that may be in that similar to help them navigate through it
Susan Scott (40m 9s):
Really personal? It was when I decided to leave my marriage and I had to have that conversation with my husband who should have seen this coming. I couldn’t imagine he was happy because we were like housemates, you know, just housemates for a long time, had totally different goals, totally different interests, but that was really hard. And he and I had not been successful in trying to talk about things. And I found that we just got quieter and quieter and quieter. And the things we weren’t talking about were killing us. And so that conversation which was had in the lake district of the UK, because we had been doing some work in London and went up there at a BNB and it was a long conversation and I was crying.
Susan Scott (40m 54s):
I had a baseball cap that I pulled down because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anybody to see, you know, my sunglasses on, I’m trying to hide and he’s white as a sheet. And that conversation was really hard, but I had it. I’m not saying that the way I had it was perfect, but I had it. That’s what I want to say to people. If you have a sense that there’s a conversation that has your name on it, you’re right. Get on it. Don’t wait. Actually, it’s the missing conversations that are the most expensive and gradually we’re moving towards a suddenly, if we had been awake during gradually, which where we live, 90% of our lives and we, if we had stayed current with one another, all along the way, we probably wouldn’t have had to have this momentous really horrible, ugly, scary conversation.
Susan Scott (41m 51s):
So my advice is stay current, bring it up. Even if you think it’s going to be awkward or somebody is not going to receive it well, if you say, you know, you’re using some of our approaches, which are all in the book that people can read. I want to talk with you about the effect that this is having on that. And the way you talk about it in your, even your tone of voice, everything about it. It is an invitation that is really hard for someone to decline. And usually they will step into the conversation and you can, you know, at least you’ll be somewhere further than you were before you tried to have it. And you won’t both be pertaining. The thing that I say all the time is that while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career or a company or a relationship or a life, any single conversation can.
Susan Scott (42m 48s):
So we all know, sometimes we try to pretend if this is not that important, I can put that off for a better day or when I’m in a better mood or he or she is in a better mood. The sun and stars are in the right position, in the right music is playing in the background. That’s when I might have this conversation and it gets put off and put off and put off. And all of a sudden you’re at a suddenly you didn’t want,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (43m 10s):
And your book, a quote from Woody Allen, right? The first rule of enlightenment is to show up. I guess that’s what you’re saying is start the conversation is the hardest part.
Susan Scott (43m 18s):
He said, I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be in the room when it happens. What you think of Woody Allen. He has said some funny things. And I think that is the way some people feel about some of these conversations. I’m not afraid of these conversations. I just don’t want to be there, you know, but you kind of have to be there.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (43m 37s):
Well, just like your books, that’s very sound advice. And I think that’s what I promise my audience every week is that they’ll feel inspired and that they’ll leave with some great communication techniques that will help them in their personal and private lives. And they’ve certainly done that if they listened to this today and if they want to learn even more, your books are both amazing. And I recommend them highly to everyone. And we’ll put all those show notes and all the connections on there before I let you say goodbye though. I wanted to ask you, this was way up on my question list. Do you live in a tree house? Cause I read that somewhere. I got to know about that before I let you go.
Susan Scott (44m 16s):
Yeah. 15 years ago, I had it built. It’s on top of a very small mountain on orcas island off the coast of Washington state. It’s held by seven Douglas, firs. It has all the creature comforts, including a gas fireplace that I use as the heater, my favorite kitchen views to die for and a ramp so that it’s easy to get up in and out and the dogs can do it and everybody can do it. And it’s where I spend about half the time. It is, it’s so beautiful. You know, you have to take the ferry to go there because it is an island. And when I drive off of the ferry onto the island, there’s this breath that I take, the air smells different, feels different.
Susan Scott (45m 2s):
It’s easier for me to be peaceful. And I absolutely love it. And friends and family come up and visit. And there’s a little, I built a little cottage on the ground. So people come and visit and we have the most wonderful talks and we build a fire and we do smores down on the ground. Of course, you know, it’s just a really special, wonderful place
Dr. Anthony Orsini (45m 21s):
I got to ask because I’ve never known anyone to live in a tree house, but I’m the same way. When I see water, especially if it’s salt water, my blood pressure goes down 20 points. And I can imagine that. So Susan, this is great. It’s always so much fun to speak with you. I’m so glad that not only am I getting to know you, but my audience is finally getting to know you the best way for people to get in touch with you is through Fierce Inc?
Susan Scott (45m 47s):
FierceInc.com and they can sign up for our newsletter. There are many great articles in the newsletter about conversations and also that’s where people will be notified when they can order fierce love if they want it. So that would be the place to go.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (46m 2s):
So we’ll put that in the show notes. We’ll put all the links in the show notes. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go hit. It’s not subscribe anymore in apple. It’s now follow and download the previous episodes. If you need to get in touch with me, I can be email@example.com again, Susan, thank you so much. This was an absolute pleasure.
Susan Scott (46m 23s):
Thank You for having me, Tony. I always love talking with you.
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