Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 180 | December 5, 2022
Chief Growth Officer at Starcom
Welcome to Difficult Conversations. Today, we have Liz Poret-Christ hosting along with Dr. Orsini. A few weeks ago, when Liz was scrolling through Facebook, she came across the PELOTON Cancer Warriors page and saw a post by Gina Jacobson. Her thoughts about battling cancer, mixed with a bit of dark humor, and a lot of honesty made Liz realize that she would be a great guest on this podcast. So, joining us today is Gina Jacobson. For the past twenty-seven years, Gina has worked in a broad range of roles with the Publicis Group, including overseeing media at Starcom and creative development at Leo Burnett. Her official title at Starcom is Chief Growth Officer, but she thinks of herself as a “Chief Potential Officer.” She’s known for her critical strategic thinking, digging into her client’s businesses, and has a passion for building and nurturing teams who deliver engaging, strategic work. Gina was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2018, and has outlived her prognosis by several years, and intends to keep living a joyful and purposeful life, helping others realize their full potential. Get ready to hear Gina’s story and be inspired!
Gina shares her background story and how she got to where she is today with her career. We learn how her leadership style and philosophy of “recognizing fear” started, and she goes in depth how her philosophy deepened after her cancer diagnosis. Gina tells us about the breakdown she had at a conference in front of her whole leadership team and reveals how having cancer changed her philosophy of leadership, how she views the world, her job, and how being more vulnerable helped her and her co-workers. We hear the story about the four oncologists Gina interviewed and how their communication affected her ability to envision a successful path forward. She explains how each of the conversations went, and how she ultimately chose the one that communicated with her in a way that she felt this physician was her advocate and one that she could trust. With the great connection she had with this physician, she makes a point that the positive attitude certainly made for an easier journey and a more tolerable journey. Gina describes her cancer journey as a “masterclass in fear” and shares her message to everyone. We hear about her blog and a post she wrote about telling the kids, and specifically one with her son, and his response that felt like a knife in the gut for a mother to hear. We end with Gina telling us the type of conversation she finds most challenging and the strategies she’s developed to get better at having those difficult conversations. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.
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Gina Jacobson (2s):
I think first I would say I had no idea going into this how dominant a role fear plays in every conversation in every relationship. I really didn’t realize the way it was playing through every relationship I had from my coworkers to my husband, to my children. So I think the first thing that I would communicate is it’s important to understand that because once you can start to identify when that’s happening, you can make a conscious choice to behave differently. You can step outside of it. You can understand what you’re angry at your spouse for.
Gina Jacobson (43s):
And if it’s something a little bit more internal than external So I think the first thing that I would want them to understand is that it’s worthwhile to actually spend some time looking at fear and and how it’s manifesting because it allows you to get control over it. And I think once you can do that, grace is what follows.
Announcer (1m 4s):
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.
Liz Poret-Christ (1m 50s):
Welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversations Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician. This is Liz Poret-Christ, managing director of The Orsini Way. And I’ll be your host on today’s episode. But don’t worry, Dr. Orsini is here with us as well.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 4s):
Liz Poret-Christ (2m 5s):
A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and I frequent a page called the PELOTON Cancer Warrior Page. As someone who’s had cancer, I find a lot of inspiration and comradery from an amazing group of people who have not only had cancer, but also share their love of all things PELOTON. So one day I came across a post by Gina Jacobson and it only took a minute when I thought, wow, Gina would be a really incredible podcast guest. Her well-composed thoughts about battling cancer mixed with a bit of dark humor and a lot of complete honesty made me stalk her like a fan girl and begged her to be on the show. So without further ado, let me introduce you to the incredible Gina Jacobson.
Liz Poret-Christ (2m 47s):
For the past 27 years, Gina has thrived in a broad range of roles with the Publicis Group, including overseeing media at Starcom and creative development at Leo Burnett, she is known for her critical strategic thinking, digging into her client businesses, and a passion for building and nurturing teams who deliver engaging strategic work. During her tenure, she has led award-winning and results-driven work across categories as diverse as hospitality, insurance, CPG, tech toys, retail and mobile, and across clients including the Four Seasons, Beam Suntory, Essurance, Kraft Heinz, Kelloggs, Nintendo, and many others.
Liz Poret-Christ (3m 30s):
Gina’s official title at Starcom is Chief Growth Officer, but she thinks of herself as a Chief Potential Officer. In her role, she oversees new business and organic growth and has a passion for uncovering new opportunities and inspiring clients and coworkers to pursue what’s possible. Gina was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in the fall of 2018. She’s outlived her initial prognosis by several years and intends to keep living a joyful and purposeful life of recognizing and helping others realize their full potential. As always, the promise on this show will be to inspire you and teach you how important communication is in medicine, business, and in everyday life.
Liz Poret-Christ (4m 14s):
I have no doubt that after meeting Gina and hearing her story, you’ll be inspired. So welcome Gina. Thanks for being here.
Gina Jacobson (4m 22s):
I’m so glad you found me on that PELOTON site. I might post on that site more often than I actually get on the PELOTON.
Liz Poret-Christ (4m 31s):
So we ask every guest to tell us a little bit about themselves outside of the bio obviously we just shared so the audience can get to know you, who you are, where you come from, and more importantly how you reach the pinnacle of your career being on our show.
Gina Jacobson (4m 44s):
It truly is the pinnacle. I never would’ve dreamed a girl from the Midwest would make it here today. I was actually born in Milwaukee, really haven’t left a Midwest since. When I graduated from Notre Dame, I really wanted to get into advertising and I managed to land myself a position that was then Leo Burnett Media in Chicago. I really wanted to be on the account side. So I figured I would give it a year or two and I would do a great job and I would request a transfer. But it’s been 27 years now and I’m still here. I think I was a victim of either inertia or my own success and I’ve stayed with the same company my entire career.
Gina Jacobson (5m 24s):
I think at some point, Liz, you mentioned Chief, Potential, Officer. I realized that’s what I was really interested in. Is understanding the potential for our clients, our brands, my people, my team. And that’s when I really landed in my role at New Business. It was the perfect launchpad for me to put my purpose into action, both internally with my coworkers and externally with clients.
Liz Poret-Christ (5m 50s):
That’s a great story. So we had a call a few weeks ago and you gave Dr. Sini and I a very interesting introduction to your leadership style. It was so interesting to me that it inspired the name of this episode, which is going to be called Recognizing Fear. Can you recap a little bit about how that philosophy came about?
Gina Jacobson (6m 8s):
Absolutely. I think one of the best things about my company is the amount of time and energy we put toward leadership coaching. And the particular model that we’ve adopted really uses fear as a root of the philosophy and gives us all language and tools to recognize when fear manifests. When you think about conflict, particularly in a business context, very, very, very often fear is at the root of it. And so we spend a lot of time understanding our own default reactions to fear and then what to look for in other people so we can recognize their default reactions to fear So, that we can consciously address our own behavior or if we’re dealing with somebody else who might be exhibiting signs of fear, that we can quickly move into a place where we get the conversation back into a safer place.
Gina Jacobson (7m 2s):
I think none of us are at our best when we are victim to fear. And so Recognizing that gives you power to behave differently and to get into a more creative constructive place.
Liz Poret-Christ (7m 15s):
So Gina, do you think your philosophy changed after your cancer diagnosis?
Gina Jacobson (7m 20s):
I would say that it didn’t change. I think it deepened and it broadened in terms of how I was applying it. I called cancer my masterclass in fear, I think because it helped me to understand not just how fear manifested in a work situation, but how it played outside of a workplace in my more personal relationships and frankly played a role for me when the stakes were much, much higher than they ever were in a workplace dynamic.
Liz Poret-Christ (7m 49s):
Can you tell us a little bit about how that diagnosis happened and the story leading up to that?
Gina Jacobson (7m 54s):
You mentioned I was diagnosed back in September of 2018. Colon cancer is one of those where you can be diagnosed without any signs, And, that is really where I was. I was 44, 45 years old and the signs that I look back now and see as my earliest were all things that could have been attributed to the stress of a crazy job in new business or the overworked nature of a mother with four kids in the house. And so it really went a while with me not realizing that anything was was going wrong. Ultimately I had a colonoscopy and by the time I went in I could literally feel underneath my rib tumor pressing out.
Gina Jacobson (8m 38s):
And you know, I think at that point I had started to sleep most of my weekends trying to recover from my week. We knew something was not right and when I felt that I knew that something was very, very wrong. And still I had two different doctors telling me no, it couldn’t possibly be anything serious. We’ve taken blood tests, you know, your liver enzymes would be off the charts if something was seriously wrong. And so they were still giving me those assurances as I went into my colonoscopy and I woke up to news of a likely malignant growth in my colon and the news that they were going to set me up for a CT scan that following Friday for staging.
Gina Jacobson (9m 19s):
And I said, well I don’t need a CT scan to know I’m a stage four cancer patient. I knew in that moment and you know, in spite of all those assurances at the start, I was inoperable. About 80% of my liver was covered in tumor. I did a lot of research. We did a lot of looking into online articles, miracle cures patients who looked like me. We met with a doctor and then we got a second opinion and a third opinion and a fourth opinion. And finally somebody that we really trusted told us it really doesn’t matter where you start, everybody will start in the same way. So just get started. And so that’s what I did.
Gina Jacobson (9m 59s):
I started with one doctor at Northwestern, eventually moved to another doctor at that same practice and I was treated there for the beginning of my journey. I had to stop when I had an infection after quite a few cycles. And at that point we decided to get a fifth opinion and went to New York to speak with somebody at msk, cut to three surgeries. I was finally N E D or no evidence of disease for those, oh, the listeners probably know what that means, right? So I thought I was in the clear. But over the course of the next few years, I recurred three separate times after that and So I had radiation, I had more chemo, I had an ablation and now I’m finally clear again and knocking wood, hoping to stay that way.
Gina Jacobson (10m 46s):
So it’s been about four years in all and I haven’t had periods without treatment for more than I would say four or five months at a time.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 54s):
Wow. That’s quite a story. Gina, I have a question about you and Liz have something in common, That, you both battled cancer and it survived and I have not. And so it’s something that we talk about with communication. It’s something that I can’t quite understand. It’s not something t..hat you can understand unless you’ve been through that. So take me back to where you were talking about how it’s changed her philosophy of leadership and how you view the world and how you view your job. Cause what I’m leading into is why is communication difficult? Why is bonding with your team and building team members hard for so many people? Tell me about that And, that angle and I sense. You were good at it already, but I really wanna dive more into that, how that changed you.
Gina Jacobson (11m 38s):
I think you might be right. I think I considered myself a fairly empathetic leader. I had good connections with my people. Cancer really turbocharged it and I think the reality is that it stripped me of the ability to be who I thought I was supposed to be. So, I saw myself as the pinnacle of a team. I needed to be the strong one. I needed to be the positive one. I had to keep my team motivated and suddenly you’re not able to be that person anymore. And I fought hard, I think for too long to continue to show up the way I used to show up until a leadership conference where somebody led us in a meditation and I really broke down in front of our whole leadership team.
Gina Jacobson (12m 26s):
It was probably the 25 or 30 most senior people at the organization at the time. And I confessed that I was leaning into work maybe too much in spite of my diagnosis because I was so confused about how to handle my family. I had been trained to deal with fear in the workplace, but I hadn’t been trained to do that for my husband or for my children. And one of my coworkers came up to me and she said, you have no idea actually, she was a direct report at the time and she said, you have no idea how relieved everybody in this room is to see you finally break down. Your vulnerability is a gift you give to your people.
Gina Jacobson (13m 9s):
And, that phrase has stuck with me for years since she first said it because I had always thought that being strong was what I needed to do for my people. And I think them finally seeing me as a human who wasn’t always on all the time, who was afraid for her life, who was struggling with these health challenges really opened up a relationship in a whole new way. And I think they could finally come to me with more than just neatly wrapped recommendations and opinions. I think it allowed them to feel like they could be more open and more vulnerable in turn.
Gina Jacobson (13m 51s):
And I feel like I am a much better leader today. As a result of that, I think I’m probably less in their business. Physically, I couldn’t be as tightly engaged and I think it really forces you to trust your team for who they are and what they do. And they all really rose to the occasion. I think my worst months were probably their best periods of growth.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 15s):
It’s really interesting Liz that she says that because during our workshops and the lectures that I give, the keynotes, the presentations that I give to businesses about how to communicate and be a good effective leader, we talk about, I even mentioned in the TED talk, whether you’re a physician or your business leader about showing your vulnerabilities and being a human being and that you really for a position to really be a good physician, he has the form a relationship with his patient. And the same thing for a leader and his team members. In order to do that, you have to show that you’re vulnerable, you have to laugh at yourself, show some humility. And once the person who you’re speaking to, whether that’s a team member or a patient says, well he’s one of us or she’s one of us or she’s not so perfect, there’s a bond there that really forms.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 1s):
And so it’s really interesting that, you said that once you were showed your vulnerability, they got closer to you.
Gina Jacobson (15m 7s):
I think the other thing is cancer has such a stigma that people, they’re worried about talking or saying the wrong thing and So, I found that the more open I was, the earlier with what I was going through, the more comfortable right, the safer it made people feel. They weren’t walking on eggshells, worried about saying the wrong things. I would come in and announce when I was having a really terrible day or how I was feeling or that I was balding or whatever that case may be. And I think that’s the kind of thing That you can do to make people feel safer when you know that they are going to be a little hesitant because they don’t know exactly what they’re getting into.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 49s):
Really interesting. Yes.
Liz Poret-Christ (15m 51s):
I would imagine that your team probably performed better. As you said, they were the most successful in your vulnerability. They wanted to prove to you that they got you right, they had your back and they were gonna carry the load. And I think that’s when any kind of difficult diagnosis happens. That’s really all you want is to know that the people around you are gonna help carry you through to the next step.
Gina Jacobson (16m 12s):
Liz, you’re exactly right. I mean I really could not have imagined how people would come to the table for me, but there is this gap between people wanna help and it’s difficult to ask for help and I think you have to articulate this is what I need. You do need to do this yourselves. You have to give them permission, I think to go there both from a personal support perspective and from a work manager perspective. And once they have that permission, they will soar.
Liz Poret-Christ (16m 42s):
So talking about the kind of support That you need, obviously the name of the show is Difficult Conversations and we like to talk about the difficult kinds of conversations that people have. I’m going to ask you later on what you think is the most difficult kind of conversation. But can you take us a bit back to when you were interviewing oncologists and how their communication affected your ability to envision a successful path forward?
Gina Jacobson (17m 8s):
The first three conversations that I had, I’ll summarize, I think they were very similar. I think all three oncologists, clearly very well regarded, respected from major cancer centers, all very good at what they did to varying degrees. They had bedside manner that was a little warmer versus a little bit more direct. But I would say they were all very honest and they all talked to me about what my prognosis for my odds were literally to a person. They each said some version of my hope is to keep you alive for a year or two and then hope that medical science offers something more than it does now.
Gina Jacobson (17m 49s):
And the consistency with which I was hearing that made me feel like, you know, it must have come out of a telling a cancer patient what her odds are. Book 1 0 1 and I found myself in all of those meetings trying to cheer the oncologists up. I remember the first oncologist who gave me the news and I said, well you don’t understand. I have a very, very good looking family and we’re gonna look great on your brochure as a success example for this cancer center. Sort of looked at me, that’s great and blinked, you know, they did not know what to do with me. I think optimism and humor, maybe not something that they were super used to coming in those offices.
Gina Jacobson (18m 32s):
One of the doctors was really probably the roughest conversation that I had. And I knew at that point from doing research that I needed to have surgery for any hope of being cured. And So I asked him, do you see a path or what would my path towards operability be? And he said, that’s like you’re barely in preschool and you’re asking to talk to the college counselor. And I can appreciate that. It was early to ask that question. And yet I think I knew myself well enough to know I’ve been an achiever my whole life. I needed for my sake to know what the goal was, So, that I could start to move toward that goal.
Gina Jacobson (19m 19s):
And I think in retrospect, I realized that those three doctors really intended to put me on palliative care, keep me alive for as long as they could. And it wasn’t until I chatted with the fourth doctor who or the facts of what she was sharing were not that different. But I think she allowed for the fact that there was a possibility. She said, I remember her words. Nobody ever knows how a patient is going to react to chemotherapy. Very true And. That is what I needed to hear. I needed to hear that there was a little bit of hope, a little bit of possibility. She threw me a lifeline and I grabbed it and then did everything I could to follow that path.
Gina Jacobson (20m 1s):
But I knew I didn’t wanna work with an oncologist who didn’t see a successful path forward for me. The voice in my head said, you don’t know me, you don’t know me. And I’m glad I listened to that little voice and I kept going and looking for the right doctor because I might have made a choice to take a path that wouldn’t have resulted in me being alive today.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 25s):
So this is a common issue when I’m talking to doctors as a lay person or even as a physician, you have no idea who the best oncologist is. You have no idea. The best gastroenterologist is you have people who say, oh you gotta go to New York because all the best doctors in New York, or you gotta go to LA. Well that’s bull. There’s plenty of bad doctors in New York and there’s plenty of great rural doctors in other towns and people ask me all the time, how do you pick a good doctor? And you really don’t. There’s no way of knowing whether that first or second oncologist was better than the fourth. But you’ve picked the fourth one because of some communication ability. In the end it’s all about trust.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 6s):
That, you looked her in the eye and you liked the way she spoke to you and you two bonded and you said, I’m going with you.
Announcer (21m 10s):
And trust and a positive attitude is just as important as the medications that they’re giving. And in many cases the oncologists are all following protocols anyway, right? So they’re all doing the same meds, but you pass by three oncologists. That’s really interesting. That, you chose it for that reason.
Gina Jacobson (21m 26s):
Well and not only did I pass up three oncologists, I passed up three colon cancer specialists to work with a generalist. She was a general oncologist and I consciously picked her in spite of the fact that she wasn’t a colon cancer specialist because I felt that she was my advocate, And that I could trust her to allow me to be a part of my own care.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 55s):
Liz, this is so fascinating because it’s the same thing when we talk to business leaders. You have the great resignation, you have a lot of people who are now leaving the workforce or turnover. You chose that oncologist because you found trust and people will stay with a leader or they have a choice of four different organizations that are offering them positions right out of college. And there’s something about maybe a particular leader, That, you trust that, you decide to stay in. It’s just, and once it all come down to communication, relationship and that’s why this is such a great interview and a great guest to have
Liz Poret-Christ (22m 29s):
And I think. It’s so interesting because we also talk about how it’s a statistically proven fact that patients do better and they’re more compliant and have better outcomes when they feel a connection to their doctor. So you are the shining example of that. Here we are strive for five, that, you are outliving everything those three other doctors might have guessed would happen. And is that because you have a great attitude and a positive path forward? But that doctor helped contribute to that and I think that’s amazing.
Gina Jacobson (23m 2s):
And it’s so hard. I think there’s some danger and the idea of it’s my positive attitude that saved me. What I will say is I think the positive attitude certainly made for an easier journey, made for a more tolerable journey.
Liz Poret-Christ (23m 19s):
So you describe your cancer journey as a masterclass in fear. I love that. I think that’s incredible. What message, if you were giving that masterclass to others, what message would you have?
Gina Jacobson (23m 31s):
I think first I would say I had no idea going into this how dominant a role fear plays in every conversation, in every relationship. I really didn’t realize the way it was playing through every relationship I had from my coworkers to my husband to my children and so I think the first thing that I would communicate is it’s important to understand that because once you can start to identify when that’s happening, you can make a conscious choice to behave differently. You can step outside of it. You can understand what you’re angry at your spouse for.
Gina Jacobson (24m 10s):
And if it’s something a little bit more internal than external So I think the first thing that I would want them to understand is that it’s worthwhile to actually spend some time looking at fear and how it’s manifesting because it allows you to get control over it. And I think once you can do that, grace is what follows. I mean you can allow somebody else grace. You can allow yourself grace to have a reaction that might not be the most flattering in a moment. And I think it just makes it that much easier to continue to move on a positive trajectory with someone.
Liz Poret-Christ (24m 46s):
You have a phenomenal blog if you go to substack and it www.Gina Jacobson.Com in your post-it Telling the kids you recall a conversation with your son Jack, where he felt like you weren’t being honest with him. His response was really thoughtful and honest and it really resonated with me because of a similar situation I had during my diagnosis with my own kids. It was my twin’s junior year of high school and they were getting ready to go to prom and had all these wonderful things coming up and I felt that by not telling them what was going on, I was saving them from pain.
Liz Poret-Christ (25m 28s):
But what I didn’t realize was that my daughter was following me on life 360 and knew that I was at the hospital over and over and over again having biopsies and appointments. And Jack said to you, sometimes when you don’t understand something, you think maybe someone isn’t telling you everything or that they might be lying to you. And. That really resonated with me because when I finally did tell my kids, my daughter was furious at me. You’ve been lying to me for weeks. I knew something was going on and you didn’t tell me. How do I know you’re telling me the truth now? And, that was really hard.
Liz Poret-Christ (26m 8s):
That was a really hard thing to hear. That must have been really hard for you as well.
Gina Jacobson (26m 12s):
Yeah, well I think it was doubly hard because I asked the question expecting for a pat on the back. No, we felt so good about the fact that we had done the right thing and we had been honest with the kids and we spent so much time talking about how smart they were and they would be able to pick up on it if we weren’t honest. I was really not expecting him to say that he felt we hadn’t been. And So that was definitely the knife in the guts for a mother to hear. I hadn’t realized that what we were projecting as we were sharing all this information was we’re sharing everything and therefore there should be no questions.
Gina Jacobson (26m 54s):
And I think that was really what they were interpreting. Okay, well there being so thorough that there shouldn’t possibly be anything that I would wanna ask at the end. I think more than that, I’m sure they had questions that they were afraid to ask. And so, you know, in retrospect I think saying, what questions do you have? Assuming that there would be questions is how I would choose to handle it today. And I think I might go one step further and I might say, what are you scared to ask? Because I think As parents, we were prepared for them to say, could you die? But we didn’t allow them to voice that.
Gina Jacobson (27m 35s):
And so it was a question that they carried with them throughout my diagnosis. And you know, eventually we started to talk about that, but not until much, much later and I think that is one of my regrets.
Liz Poret-Christ (27m 47s):
It’s so insightful because when we’re talking to physicians, right, Dr. Orsini, we talk about this all the time, not to ask, do you have any questions? But to ask what questions do you have? Because it gives them permission to say that things that they might be too afraid to say. And I love how you took it one step further and say, what are you afraid to ask? That’s amazing because as a patient when you’re sitting there, you are afraid to ask questions or you just can’t think straight. So by assuming that somebody already has a question that they may or may not feel comfortable asking, if you take that off the table and just say what questions you have, I know you have some, it kind of eliminates that need to reframe or rethink or twist around to make somebody else more comfortable.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (28m 32s):
I love that Gina, I’m gonna steal that Gina by the way. I’m gonna use that my next difficult conversation with a patient cuz I think that’s great.
Gina Jacobson (28m 40s):
I have a friend who is a stage four breast cancer patient and I was talking with her the other day about her treatment path forward. I said, well, there’s not a lot of clarity. And I said, are you on palliative care? Are they treating you with curative intent? What is happening? And she said, I don’t know. And so that’s a great example of somebody I think she’s probably scared to ask her doctor, is there a chance I could still be cured? And yet the treatment she’s going through is so brutal. She deserves to know that. And I think if the doctor had gone one step further to say, what are you scared of asking?
Gina Jacobson (29m 20s):
I think she probably would’ve articulated it And. That clarity, although scary in the moment, would definitely have put her in a position to make proactive choices about her life that she’s not making right now, not able to make right now.
Liz Poret-Christ (29m 35s):
I think the palliative and hospice doctors and nurses are amazing at being able to bring those conversations to light, but I don’t think the rest of the universe is quite there yet. You know, we’ve had amazing guests like BJ Miller and Hospice nurse Julie on the show who have talked about the need for candor and the need to be able to discuss the things that are really scary in a way that make them more understandable and alleviate some of that fear and I think that everyone’s just not there yet. On every show. We ask our guests the same question and I did send it to you in advance. So, I, hope you’ve had a little bit of a chance to think about it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 13s):
We don’t always do that. So you’re lucky, Gina, that sometimes we put them on the spot.
Liz Poret-Christ (30m 16s):
Sometimes some people forget to ask the question.
Gina Jacobson (30m 18s):
So I feel. I feel like on a show with the title you know about fear, asking somebody an on the spot question is probably the epitome of making your podcast guest feel unsafe.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 32s):
All right, so we told you ahead of time. That was good.
Liz Poret-Christ (30m 36s):
So what type of conversation do you find the most challenging and It can be as a leader, as a patient, as a parent, as a human, and what strategies have you developed to get better at having those Difficult Conversations?
Gina Jacobson (30m 50s):
I don’t think there’s a person among us who likes delivering negative feedback, whether it is to a spouse, to a child, in an office setting, which is where it’s usually happens more formally. You’re not supposed to wait right until the end of the quarter to give somebody feedback, but when you’re witnessing something in the moment and you need to address it, I struggle with those types of conversations. I really like to build my people up and I’m always worried that negative feedback works directly against that. I think the two key strategies that I try to keep in mind when that’s happening first is to assume positive intent.
Gina Jacobson (31m 30s):
Generally speaking, with rare exception, people are trying to do the right thing even if the impact they have is negative. And if you can assume positive intent and go into that conversation, assuming that somebody is trying to do the right thing and then second help to communicate that you’re on their side, that your goal is to help them to get done what they want to get done. That one, two punch of, I know what you’re trying to do, it didn’t quite work out, but here are some strategies for how you might go about it next time. I think if somebody feels that you’re on their side, that can be the environment.
Gina Jacobson (32m 12s):
Again, that gets into a safe conversation of, well, you know what? You’re right. I was trying to do X, Y, Z, why didn’t that go quite the way I wanted it to go? You can kind of open that up. You can also acknowledge, I don’t have all the answers, but let’s talk it through to figure out kind of where did we go wrong and how do you start to course correct for the next situation.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 34s):
Liz Poret-Christ (32m 35s):
You can read about Gina’s blog and what she’s learning from the best worst thing that ever happened to her at www. We are all made of Stars.Net or join her on her substack as I mentioned before, www Gina Jacobson.Substack.com for strive for five an accelerated look back at her four year journey and as she approaches her five year survival milestone. Gina, thank you so much for joining us on the show. We’re so lucky to have you and I’m so lucky to have met you and now call you my friend as we do, and we get to do so much on this show.
Gina Jacobson (33m 12s):
Thank you. Thank you. It was a real pleasure getting to know both of you. I think the work you’re doing is amazing and I really hope that more people will have more meaningful constructive conversations as a result of this chat.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 25s):
Thank you, Gina. This was really great. I think our audience is gonna love this episode. We’ve covered so much. The cancer, the communication, leadership, I mean it covers everything. And I think we have so much to learn from you and I think we could probably six more classes from you on how to communicate and lead and So. I. Want to thank you so much, Liz, awesome job. If, you enjoyed this podcast. Please go ahead like follow us on your favorite podcast. If you wanna get in touch with Liz or I, you can get in touch with us, the website, your Orsini Way.com. Please tell your friends and download all the previous episodes. I can’t wait for everybody to hear this. This is gonna be awesome. Thank you, Gina.
Gina Jacobson (34m 3s):
Thank you. Thank you
Announcer (34m 5s):
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Dr. Anthony Orsini
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