To be an effective leader, you must replant yourself regularly. Owning what is in your life, being transparent about it, and developing credibility with others is the key to success in business and in life. In this episode, Heather Hansen shares her pivotal story and insights on leadership, credibility, and transparency. Heather is a Keynote speaker, consultant, trainer & author of The Elegant Warrior and Advocate to Win. Heather shares how the idea of replanting yourself regularly, inspired by Aliyah Koka, has helped her become a better leader in her personal and professional life. Through her story, Heather emphasizes the importance of owning what is in our lives and being transparent about it. She also explores the themes of leadership, transparency, credibility, vulnerability, resilience, and more. Join us for an inspiring and thought-provoking conversation with Heather Hansen.
- 01:13 – Heather Hansen Outside the Standard Bio
- 05:20 – Clarity: A Tool of an Advocate
- 10:21 – Professional Vulnerability
- 19:43 – Credibility: To Believe
- 27:13 – Advocating To Win
- 34:40 – Knowing Yourself, Replanting Yourself
- 39:00 – Resilience Is a Skill
- 42:12 – Perspective-Taking
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Replanting Yourself: A Pivot Story On Transparency, Credibility, And Leadership With Heather Hansen
I am super stoked to have Heather Hansen on the show. She combines her psychology degree, meditation training and many years of courtroom experience to teach international audiences to advocate for themselves and their businesses. Her book, The Elegant Warrior is an Amazon bestseller and her podcast by the same name, The Elegant Warrior is consistently in the Top 10 Business Podcasts on Apple. I’m in the mood for learning. I hope you are as well. Let’s welcome Heather Hansen.
Heather, so you just heart your own bio. It’s funny to hear our own bio, whatever that is that sums us up and yet, I don’t know about summing things up so neatly. To you, what’s one thing that is not in your standard introduction or bio that you would love for people to know about you?
I think the most important thing with respect to this conversation is that I was a terrible advocate for myself for a very long time. As a lawyer, as a trial attorney and I know that’s your background as well, it was my job to advocate for others and I was phenomenal at it. Now I teach people to advocate, but I wasn’t able to do that until I learned that I had to start advocating for myself that no one could do it better than I could. Most importantly, it was a skill that I used in the courtroom and could use the same skill and tools outside of the courtroom. That took a little bit of work on what I call my inner jury to start advocating for myself as strongly as I did for others.
This is one of those Jerry McGuire moments, where like, “You had me at.” I wasn’t expecting you to say that. I want to follow that further. I want to dig in. I’m sure people that reading this now and go, “Yes, we got to get into that.” I’m going to come from a very personal place. We have lawyers that are reading and all that thing and so many lawyers will get in touch with me or law firms.
The lawyers will get in touch with me to say, “You got to help me. How can I enjoy what I’m doing more than I’m enjoying what I’m doing?” Sometimes people need to leave the profession or they think they do. We can track that. Do we need to leave? Do lawyers need to leave in droves because there’s something systemically broken in that system that is the law, which we can take up?
I want to start with this idea that you were not a great advocate for yourself because I feel like the same. It’s to be able to do it for other people. I could not be fearless, but I had a lot of courage for someone else’s cause. For my own, not so much. Will you say a little bit more about what that looked like for you?
Yeah, I could talk about what it looked like for me and I can also talk about why I think that happens, the science behind it, but let’s start with the personal. I can tell you the exact day. I defended doctors in medical malpractice cases and in this particular case, it was a young female, a surgeon, who reminded me a lot of myself.
Studies show that when someone reminds you of yourself, you tend to have even more empathy for them. I was even more invested in her case and she called me the day before openings and said her boss had told her that if we lost the case, she was going to lose her job. Adam, I could see my lips in my periphery getting bigger. I was having an allergic reaction to my own stress hormones. I ended up in the emergency room and there are a lot of things I learned from that but relevant to this conversation, I recognized that I was trying too many cases.When someone reminds you of yourself, you tend to have even more empathy for them. Click To Tweet
I was not doing enough of the things that I loved. I lived in Philadelphia. My partner at the time lived in Connecticut. He did not come to support me when I was on trial, so I didn’t have support from my significant other, my partners, even my friends and family. The thing is, I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t advocate for myself. The way that I talk about advocating, there are a couple of definitions but one of them is asking for what you want in a way that makes you likely to get it.
I can do that in the jury. I say to the jury, “I want you to give me a defense verdict.” I’m very clear about it, but I didn’t say I tried to infer or with my partner, for example. I would go to him when he needed me and assumed that he must know that I needed him to come to me when things were stressful.
I would continue to do more at the firm and I would assume that they would know that I would want the same for me, but I never opened my mouth and asked for it, much less collected evidence and told stories and built credibility and asked questions and all of the skills that would help me to advocate for myself. I realized when I was sitting in the emergency room watching the steroids and Benadryl drip that I needed to change something. For me, it was easier to externalize it, and we can get back to the science on that, and to start using the tools in the courtroom and pretending like I was my own client.
You said so much there. I want to unpack it for myself a little bit too, is this idea of advocacy starting with clarity or being clear about your desire, your intention, if you want to call it that? To simply say and I spent many years in the legal profession, so I know what it’s like to stand in front in court in front of a judge or a jury and simply say, “Here’s what I want,” not for myself, because that’s the interesting thing about being a lawyer. It’s never about us.
We never did it for the money. We never did it for the power or the feeling of how important we were in the moment. I know that. I’m self-aware about that, but to stand there and go, “Your Honor, or jury, my client’s been harmed or my client didn’t create that harm, etc.” It’s so easy to be clear. That first thing you said, I think, is so powerful that when it comes to our own advocacy and this is the question, not the statement. Do you think we more often than not, pretty much expect everybody else in our world to be mind readers?
We do and clarity is such an important tool of an advocate. The more clear we can be with the jury, the more that we can simplify it for them. The more that we can speak in their language and not our own, the more likely we are to win. That is true when you’re advocating to your “jury” of clients, customers, friends, family, partners and children. You want to speak in their language, make it clear and make it simple and there’s that.
There’s also this feeling that we have asked with our actions, Adam, rather than coming out and specifically asking with our words. “I want you to come to Philadelphia when I’m on trial.” God forbid I asked my partner that. He should know. I want him to come. How could he not know? That’s not fair to him or to me because I have resentment and neither of us are happy.
What are you not saying? Let’s use that as an example because I think that’s one that a lot of people can relate to through their own context, but when you don’t say specifically, “Joe, I want you to come to Philadelphia to support me while I’m on trial in part because I’m alone. I need that support. I need somebody to remind me to drink water. Somehow speak things out before I go to bed so I can sleep at night.”
Now, whatever the support might look like, why is it that you don’t say specifically what you’re looking for but rather expect, I’m now projecting here but, “If Joe loves me, that he’ll know that’s what I want and that’s what I’m saying and that’s what I need.” It’s almost like a test. Are you setting Joe up for failure when you do that as much as yourself?
You are, but not on purpose. I just think it’s so vulnerable. It’s so vulnerable and especially there are studies that show that for women, it makes them feel needy. The word needy can have a lot of mental attachments to it. The truth is, I have needs, we have needs, you have needs and we have needs, food, water, shelter, but we also have needs love, support and all of those other things, but it feels vulnerable.
I have a different opinion on vulnerability than some do, but I do think when it comes to those relationships, your significant other, your children, your friends, your family, even your partners at your law firm. If you’re close enough to them or your partners or your colleagues at work, if you’re close enough to them, they’ve earned the right to your vulnerability and without it, your relationship can’t go to that next step. I think that it is vulnerable to say, “I need you here,” and so instead we do for the other what we would like and hope that they can read into it that we would like it and that doesn’t work. That’s not advocating.
That’s so interesting. I want to get your definition of vulnerability, especially since it’s been talked about. I don’t want to say ad nauseam because it’s right that it’s been spoken about for so long. Brené Brown tore the cover off that thing she has in so many ways in a lot of different areas, but that one in particular. Let’s start there because I have some other thoughts, but I want to get right to your definition of vulnerability.
It’s not so much a formal definition. The way that I think about it is when a baby’s born, they have a soft spot on their head. I think of vulnerability as exposing your soft spots and that’s how I think about it. I have a different idea about it because I don’t think that we should embrace it in all of the places that people are trying to embrace it. For example, the courtroom. I don’t want my clients to feel vulnerable when they’re going up to testify on the stand.
I don’t want them to turn to the jury and I don’t want them to be authentic either, which is another big word that people use. I don’t want them to turn to the jury and say, “I am freaking out now. I am so afraid I cried this morning or I feel like I’m going to throw up. I don’t like you. I think that you guys are scary.” Those things are both vulnerable and authentic and none of that is as helpful when they’re before a jury. I think Brené has said this, “People need to earn your vulnerability.” It’s important to make that distinction.People need to earn your vulnerability. Click To Tweet
People have to earn the right to hear your story. I think that’s part of her message. I was going to ask you about this because this concept of vulnerability and power or powerfulness. In the context of being a powerful professional and knowing this from the standpoint of an attorney and a female attorney. Do you think that it’s harder? I don’t want to turn into it a gender conversation about that because the principle is universal.
Can you be a powerful professional however you identify and also, be vulnerable? If so, where does your vulnerability show up that’s helpful versus what you described, which probably would get you to lose a case for somehow or another there’d be a malpractice suiting against you for saying, “By the way, jury, I’m not quite at my best this morning because I’m petrified. I’m nervous, even though I shouldn’t be, but I am somehow.” Don’t do that in open court. Where’s the line if there is a line that you’ve determined?
All vulnerable. It goes without saying. I think that what you’re talking about is professional. Where do you show that vulnerability professionally? I like to think of it instead as credibility. I don’t love authenticity. I don’t love vulnerability. I like credibility. When I teach people how to build credibility quickly, part of that is making promises and keeping them setting expectations and meeting them but when you can’t and that’s when things start to feel vulnerable, you own it.
Owning it is saying, “I don’t know.” Owning it is saying, “I broke my promise.” Owning it is saying, “I didn’t meet my expectations,” and for some that’s vulnerable. Saying those things is vulnerable. For me, it’s a part of credibility but owning it, being willing to say, “I did not show up on time and I will do it tomorrow. I promise I will,” then doing it. That is a credibility multiplier.
Your credibility goes through the roof. In the courtroom, when a witness would say on cross-examination, “I agree with you on that, but this is why it doesn’t matter or this is why I still believe that Heather’s case is the one that the jury should believe.” All of a sudden, this guy was willing to agree with the person cross-examining him. He must be telling the truth. That’s owning it and we can do it in our personal lives. Every time we say, “I was wrong, or I don’t know, but I’ll find out the answer,” we’re showing that bit of credibility that some people like to call vulnerability.
I think this is where the rub is and it’s the rub for obvious reasons. It doesn’t get spoken about enough where the person who’s being professional and understands that you don’t, in hyperbolic terms, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve in open court necessarily. Yet that same individual goes home at night. Now, is that guarded or let’s say, guarded person at home, which is something I talked about during my TED Talk was how this concept of having my guard up all the time as an attorney, but I learned it before that. This idea of protecting.
You’re out there alone. Let’s call it for what it is. The moment you were born until the moment you move on, you are alone in this world. You have lots of people around you. Hopefully, a lot of people that you can connect to and love and be loved by but it’s a solo journey. You are alone. You have a beautiful podcast called The Elegant Warrior.
You’re like a lone warrior. The lawyers understand that. Tennis players understand that. Lots of people get it, so there’s a way that you put your armor on to get into a battle for those particular things, but then when you come home or in that conversation with the fictional Joe about what you need, there’s an issue. What is that issue, Heather?
I think there are two ways to do it. You can be defensive in every relationship that you have and some of us do that.
That is a choice, yes.
It is a choice and if you’re trained that way, if you’re spending your days being defensive, I was a defense attorney. I got very good at being defensive and so that is one way to go. The other way, the way that I went was to lay down and not fight any of the fights in my personal life. I was so tired of fighting and putting on my armor to go to work every day, that when it came to my personal life on those rare occasions, what I would say, “Why don’t you come to Philadelphia?” He said, “No.” I’d say okay because I didn’t want to fight anymore.
All of my fight was used up on my clients. I think that either way, for professionals who go into and a lot of people who aren’t even professionals, some people who are dealing with very difficult children feel like they have to put on their armor to deal with their children. The ability to find someone who has earned your vulnerability so that you can show them your soft spots is important part of being human and is going to make you a whole lot happier and healthier in the long term.
I want to come back to that in a second. I’ll just say that in the courtroom, one of the things that I wish I had known then because, honestly, I was d decent attorney. I won a fair amount of my cases. I was a pretty strong advocate because I’m pretty tenacious. The greatest compliment I got and it’s funny the way lawyers take these things as compliments because I’m going to now share what made me feel good about myself at the time.
I was in a bunch of federal court cases with a very large law firm that happened to be defending the same corporate defendant. I was pursuing on behalf of clients that had been allegedly discriminated against, both on gender and race and a number of other things. I was barraging this big law firm with paper like the way we know how to do. That’s the equivalent of the punch in the ring would be the service of papers and more paper and lots of trees falling down because I’m going to win a case here.
At one point, he called the office on a Saturday and I was the only one there. I picked the phone. I think it was probably my wife or somebody. I was like, “Whatever,” and it was him. He goes, “I knew it was you. I just knew you were in the office. You’re probably going to the post office, aren’t you to postmark something from me?” I said, “Yes, John. That’s the plan.” He goes, “You are relentless,” and that was it.
We resolved all those cases in the end, but that was a compliment, this relentlessness, which was exhausting. Physically, I had nothing left from that standpoint to fight. When I left that office, I wasn’t going to fight with anybody in any other arena, so I know I completely understand what you’re talking about. Your boundaries get moved and whatever.
When I was standing in the court, a thing I didn’t know then but since having so much in my pivot career, became a speaker and traveling the world to talk about these kinds of things, luckily. I’ve had lots of stage time and things go wrong like they do in court that exhibit or that whatever thing that you plan for can go sideways. I’ve had things go sideways too many times to count on a stage in front of a few people or in front of a few thousand people. The thing I learned in the speaking realm is that you earn the trust of your audience when you don’t pretend that thing didn’t just happen.
That’s a big freaking deal. For the lawyers out there that haven’t learned this lesson, this is a freebie right here. Don’t pretend that the judge or the jury didn’t notice what just occurred and you as is it. You utilize it if you can. I know we’re off that topic. We started with Heather a little bit, but does that make sense to you as well?
It’s the own it piece. If something has broken down, own it. If something is not working, own it. I just did legal and you have to own it. You have to own that something broke down. I did legal analysis for one of the TV stations but a big trial that’s in the news now. We were watching some of the trial and then talking about it on television.
The defense attorney said to the judge and the jury, “Your Honor, I’m terrible with technology. I’m trying to figure this out, I apologize.” He spoke to the elephant in the room. He was taking forever with the technology and probably annoying everyone in the courtroom but now the jury probably feels a little bit bad for him. He’s an older guy struggling with technology. You gain so much credibility when you own it with your friends, with your family, on a big stage when you’re giving a keynote or in a courtroom. Everywhere that you go, you are advocating and owning it is boosting your credibility through the roof.You gain so much credibility when you own it with your friends, with your family, on a big stage when you're giving a keynote or in a courtroom. Everywhere that you go, advocating and owning it is boosting your credibility through the roof. Click To Tweet
You tied that up so lovely and to connect the dots here, you could use the word vulnerability, which gets used a lot. You could use authenticity, which has bothered me for a while. There’s this concept of being transparent, which is another thing, but this idea of using what is, utilizing what is, owning what is and owning it, creates credibility with other people. That is a very healthy and smart, I would say. An intelligent way to utilize that concept of vulnerability in a more professional setting.
I agree with you and I don’t think most people want to aspire to vulnerability but we all should aspire to credibility. The root of the word credible is to believe. Who doesn’t want to be believed?
That’s killer. Heather, I think people are nodding up and down going, “That’s that I can use.” The vulnerability thing is strange. People don’t want to be perceived as weak. I tell this story about when I ended up in the hospital like you. I was still a lawyer at the time. I was having trouble dialing my feelings in the morning, especially starting the day, having difficulty. I don’t know if people out there can relate to this, just trouble in the morning. I had trouble going to sleep at night too, wake up at 3:00 in the morning thinking about cases or clients or whatever and couldn’t get back to sleep and all that. First of all, did you ever have that difficulty, Heather? Sleeping or getting up?
Yes, especially on trial. I would get up. I would crash at the end of a trial day, but then, I’d wake up at 2:00 AM and I’d be up for the day. I’d get up because the case is in your head and it’s running through. I would get up and start prepping for the day ahead. Yes, been there.
One of these mornings for me, I ended up in the emergency room, similar to you. I ended up there, electrodes, the whole nine yards. They’re doing echocardiograms and stuff like this and I’m sweating. I couldn’t stop sweating and my mind is racing and I was both upset with what was going on, but I was also so freaking pissed at myself. It’s self-loathing on top of the palpitations. Ultimately, the doctor came in and gave us the good news, which was that my heart was fine. I wasn’t having an event like that, but I was having something else, which you probably know what I was having.
Everybody knows what I was having. It was a panic attack. The first one I ever had and not the last one. Ever since then, whenever I’ve had feelings of intense anxiety, I know what it is now and I have a process or method to deal with it, which is easy. It doesn’t seem easy, but it is because it’s all originating from our thoughts or at least from my thoughts.
In that moment, I was so devastated by what that was because there was nobody for me to tell. I was relieved. I cried, my wife and I cried together. I went home and I hugged our four kids. I wouldn’t let them go, but weeks later, I was back to being a workaholic. I was back to ignoring because I didn’t know what to do with it. There was no one I was going to tell. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed and certainly wasn’t going to give that edge to my opponents, whether they were other lawyers I collaborated with or lawyers I was up against.
I was never going to tell anybody that. What I came to realize many years later is that there was a moment where I could have been transparent with people I worked with at a minimum. Other attorneys around me to ask for what I needed or at least tell them where I was coming from would’ve enabled or created far greater trust and credibility to use your word. In that moment, I had the courage and I lacked the courage to do that at that time.
I was afraid and so it’s a cocktail of negative. I don’t even want to call it negative, but other ways of seeing things. I was framing it as I have to keep this private, I have to keep this away from people. I can’t let anybody use it against me. I have to stay guarded. That was my frame. When you ended up in the hospital, when you were feeling that way, what was your frame and when did it change?
I remember right before I ended up in the hospital, I was on the phone with my best friend and I said, “I want someone to help me,” but I didn’t know what help I wanted. I didn’t know who that person could be and I didn’t know how they would help me. I had the realization that it had to be me but everyone who’s reading has been through these types of moments. They may not have hopefully ended up in the emergency room, but we’ve all been through these moments where we’ve been like, “I want someone to advocate for me to ask for what I want to get me what I want.”
I do want to give because I hate to be talking about all the issues without giving some proposal for a solution. There’s a lot of science behind what I ultimately did. If you externalize it, Adam, there’s a good book called Chatter by Ethan Kross. He’s at the University of Michigan. He’s a psychologist there. He talks about the voices in our head and this idea of illeism, and he’s not the first to bring this up.
I talk about it in my book, Advocate to Win as well but he has a great conversation about it. Illeism is the practice of talking about yourself in the third person. Men do this more often than women do. LeBron James famously, during a press conference said, “LeBron James is going to do what’s best for LeBron.” Trump often talked about himself in the third person. Pele, the soccer player, Andre Agassi has done it. Bob Dole has done it. Salvador Dali did it.
There are a lot of examples of men who do this but the reason that it’s helpful, especially in these situations is you’re externalizing yourself. If you were to say, “Adam needs help here.” It doesn’t feel as personal. It doesn’t feel like as much like it’s you. Now, in my research, I couldn’t find a lot of women who did this. For the women reading, what might be more powerful for you is an alter ego.
Beyoncé had Sasha Fierce. Originally when she started, she would be Sasha Fierce when she was on stage. Pink, Madonna, Lady Gaga, these are all al alter egos but all of these are ways to externalize almost as if you’re advocating for asking on behalf of someone else and I did that for myself. I made it so that I said, “This is going to be a separate person who wants to do things differently than lawyer Heather. I wanted to do more television, write my books, start a podcast and I, lawyer Heather, I’m going to start advocating for her.” Thinking about it that way, externalizing it made it easier for me and it might do the same for some of the readers.
We’re saying, it’s a bit of a hack because it’s a way to grease the wheels as Lawrence tribe once described, the entire profession. A legal profession that is and hacks, if they work, they’re great. LeBron is one of the greats, but not to me the greatest, so send me all your hate mail. I’m going to say Michael Jordan’s the greatest of all time in that sport, and Kobe might be second.
Regardless of my opinion there, it feels like when LeBron says, “LeBron’s got to take care of LeBron,” I hear ego, but the fact of the matter is that we have no trouble often advocating for others. This has been documented. Women, when their children are in danger, can literally pick up a car. They have superhuman strength for their children, but women will often stay in abusive relationships or not advocate for themselves.
There’s a dichotomy there. There’s something where it’s easier to simply look at it almost like from a Neuro-Linguistic Programming standpoint, where you’re not directly asking on your behalf, but you’re advocating it in the third person for yourself. Let’s do it. Let’s do it if it helps us create and hold boundaries that don’t allow others to abuse us or simply leave our requests or desires unstated.
That’s it. You can’t leave this earth not asking for what you want but that would be a very tragic thing. Any way that works for you to start doing it more often and better. When I first started talking about this work, I would ask people, “Are you someone who asks for what they want very easily but never gets it? Are you someone who never asks for what they want and therefore never gets it or do you ask and get it right?” Most people fell into one of those first two. Some people are asking but they’re just not asking. Advocating is not just asking. You can go out around and ask people for all kinds of things. You’ve got to ask to optimize your chances of getting what you’re asking for.
That’s the skilled attorney in you because that’s part of the training. That’s one thing. I have never wanted our kids to go to law. We have four kids and they’re all doing beautifully in the world and all that. I probably dissuaded them from being attorneys, as it turns out. Not so much intentionally, but I guess so. I want to correct myself there in saying that there is something powerful about spending three years in the study of advocacy. Law school didn’t teach you how to advocate too much anyway.
I was going to say not school. It’s experience.
No, but then 5 years or 10 years into doing it, you have a sense of, as you say, this elegance. How do you elegantly advocate? When you say the elegant warrior, you’re not talking about getting in there like a barbarian and with a club-wielding to get what you want. That’s your latest book. The A to Win is a book of yours but you also have The Elegant Warrior, that’s the newest one. Is that correct?
The Elegant Warrior was first. Advocate To Win is the more recent one, but The Elegant Warrior is the one that has resonated most thoroughly with the largest amount of people.
Tell us about the elegance. It’s beautiful.
I am big into words. In fact, in my second book, there’s a whole chapter on words. The words that we use matter. When I hear a word, we’ll look up the root of the word to find out where the magic is. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but the word abracadabra means I create as I speak. I do think that our words create our reality.
The root of the word elegance is to choose. I believe that elegance is the ability to choose, to respond rather than react. In the courtroom, that’s important to be able to respond rather than react, but you get to choose how you will be in this life. It might be the only power you have and you get to choose how you’re going to advocate, how you’re going to deal with asking, and how you’re going to deal with conflict. There are two ways to have the biggest building in town. You can knock them all down or build your own. That’s a choice. For me, elegance is the choice that I make every day to advocate in a way that I can be proud of and look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.
Your latest book is Advocate To Win. I want to get into that as well. My latest book is called Change Proof, which is a book about resilience. Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Resilience is the through line of it and the book before that was called Pivot. I want to ask you about your pivot story because you didn’t go from that defense attorney working, God knows. We won’t even say how many hours we ultimately put in those days but what’s the story? What’s the pivot story of you going from full-time defense attorney to the work you’re doing currently?
It’s interesting. That moment in the emergency room was where the pivot began. They say leap in the net will appear. That’s not the way I did it. I had heard early in my career a Lee Iaccoca quote where he said that, “Every few years you should replant yourself.” I wanted to do that, but I was afraid. I say like, “Instead of leaping, I was creeping.” I started doing more of the other things that I wanted to do and asking for more support at the same time.
I started doing more television, which brought me to New York more. I loved being in Manhattan. I was living in Philadelphia, so I got an apartment in Manhattan but still had my apartment in Philadelphia and was doing more TV, then I started doing the work. I wrote The Elegant Warrior while I was still a full-time attorney, but I was cutting back on my cases.
It was very much like creeping from one pot to another rather than leaping from one pot to another until, ultimately, I am still at my firm. I am still a partner there. I still have my finger in a few cases, but most of my time is spent training, teaching, and sharing advocacy ideas and advocating for yourself, your client, and your teams.
It wasn’t a very drastic pivot. It was over time and for me that allowed me to it. It wasn’t as sexy, but it allowed me to feel comfortable that I could take care of myself, that I was financially going to be okay, that I wasn’t leaving my clients in the lurch, that I would still be there for them and I was still able to do all the things that I wanted to do. Even now, I’m writing a novel and I get up. The first thing in the morning, I promised myself that I’ll write every day. You do have to prioritize when you’re going to do multiple things, but for me to have multiple outlets for my creativity and for my energy.
We’re so simpatico. It’s ridiculous. I’m not a jump-ship guy. I wasn’t going to leave my clients in the lurch or create some heightened insecurity on the part of our family financially or whatever. The pivot for me was not about tearing down a bridge. It was about building another bridge. It sounds like you can travel over those two bridges together now and you didn’t even have to tear down the first one. You changed it and those are great pivots.
I would use your word for that, Heather. That’s an elegant pivot because so often, people think in terms of either or which someone once shared with me very much scarcity-based thinking. This idea of it’s either this or it’s that. When you can apply the theory and in practice that it’s both. That’s what you’ve created is both world, that’s elegant.
Thank you. I take that as a huge compliment and I do think that when we try to break things down into good and bad, left and right, red and blue, all of those things. That duality doesn’t serve us. The more that we can recognize that it’s always and all the places where it can be, I think that it does serve.
I was listening to Steve Harvey. He was on a podcast and I love Steve Harvey. I think he’s funny. For him, he said, “I couldn’t have an option B because I would’ve had to put some energy into option B and I was always going all in on option A,” and I get that. That makes sense to me. For some of the readers, you might be that personality. For me, it was more making sure that I had my bases covered and that things were covered and that worked for me. Some people do need to leap in order to go all-in and I understand that as well.
It’s the burning the ships. It is a chapter in here. I talk about the sunk cost fallacy and burning the ships as a commitment device, which people know and this is so individualized. If you are the person that has to burn the ships in order to do something new, then by all means, burn the ships. It’s your life, as you said.
You have to know yourself. You have to be willing to iterate and see then go back and say, “That didn’t work and maybe if I try it this way.” It takes something that I’m terrible at, Adam. It takes patience.
I’ve had to learn patience. I’m much more patient than I used to be. Kids will do that, I think and other things, but I want to say there’s a throughline for me. I want to see if it’s the same for you. In the book Pivot, which is all about this idea of how you reinvent or as Lee Iaccoca said, “How you replant yourself.” That could have been a great endorsement. I’m going to go back now and do that again.
We’re on the second edition of this thing, but it’s art and science of reinvention, personal and career-wise. There’s a chapter in the book about resilience. This latest book for me is called Change Proof. It’s more about the concept of resilience. That’s why when I’m asked to speak more often than not now, my keynote speaking is either resilience keynote speaking or it’s work-life balance keynote speaking or mental health or stress management. Those are the areas of well-beingness in the workplace that I get asked to come in and talk about.
In my life, what I realize is that the book is not a book about pivoting with a chapter about resilience. The book for me, my life story is a book of resilience that has a chapter in it about pivoting. I want to find out about what resilience looks like for you. How important it is? How is it that you’ve developed it? Were you born with it? Have you strengthened it? Give us your chapter and verse, if you could, Heather, about resilience.
I don’t think that I was. Was I born with it? I’m not sure, but I know that it is something that I have had to work as a muscle and grow and I have grown it. I was lucky enough to be about 100 pounds overweight when I was in high school. I say lucky enough without any hyperbole or sarcasm because I lost that weight in college. I think it took resilience to be that heavy in high school. It’s hard. It’s tough and not to be going to prom in all of those things.
That was tough, but it took resilience to get up, be happy, and go through my days. Not allowing it to beat me down and having lost the weight allowed me to gain a lot of credibility in myself and believe in myself that I could do hard things. This then made me more resilient so that it wasn’t the suffering, the hard part of going through the worst of it but also overcoming it.It takes resilience to get up and be happy and go through your days. Click To Tweet
Both sides gave me resilience and those things have continued to happen in my life and they will continue to happen. One thing I know for sure is life is 50/50. There are always going to be those bad parts that make it seem like, “I don’t want to get up tomorrow,” then there’s going to be that part of me that is resilient, that is going to get up tomorrow and figure out a way to figure out the problems. I think that resilience is inherent and I worked it like a muscle.
That resonates well for me. It’s fitting with any of the sports analogies that we’ve even talked about earlier, that performance. You have to perform resilience, which means you have to all performance as I was reminded. I have a book of daily readings that I check out every morning from Emmett Fox, which is a cool meta physician that’s been gone a long time, but his work remains, which is lovely. He was talking about proficiency, to be proficient in anything.
It requires practice. Why shouldn’t something like being resilient be a thing you practice so that you can perform it when it’s needed? That’s the thing. We’ve done a lot of research on the topic of resilience. The one thing that’s clear is that you have to develop it before you need it. People want to be resilient, but only when there’s a crisis.
When it’s hitting the fan, that’s when they want to count on their resilience. They want to count on their faith. They want to count on other people when it’s chaos. The time to be developing the network of people you can count on and your faith and your resiliency is before you are required to have it. Does that also seem to be true for you?
It resonates so thoroughly. These words that we use, resilience and advocacy, we use these words and people throw out these words all over the place, but they’re both skills. Resilience is a skill. You have to learn how to do it. You don’t wake up resilient and with your teaching, with your help, people can figure out, “What tools are going to help me to be more resilient when this stuff happens? How am I going to focus on this and work on this and build and grow this skill?”
It takes practice. It’s not enough to learn it from Adam, though you need that foundation in order to do the thing. It takes practice. Advocating is the same way. It is a skill. There are specific tools that you can use to get better at it and it takes practice. I think that in both of these, resilience is most certainly something that is a skill that entails tools. There are specific tools you can use to be more resilient, then you have got to practice it. I would suspect that you would encourage people to look for ways to practice it. When the big thing happens, they’re not knocked off their feet.
One of the ways that I practice is through reading and you and I have this in common as well. We love words. We’re word people. We’re lifelong learners. I’m looking at you and I’m going, “Here is a lifelong learner.” This Advocate to Win, when we think about how it is you advocate for yourself, so I’m going to click and get a copy of this book as well. Is that a book that people can use as a tool to practice what we’re we’ve been talking about?
Yes, in fact, the subtitle is 10 Tools to Ask for What You Want and Get It and there are ten tools. Some of the tools we’ve talked about are credibility, evidence, perspective, questions, negotiation, argument, presentation, facial expressions, body language, all of that. That book is the tools. It’s your tool chest. If you want to get out there and start advocating for yourself tomorrow, you can pick up one of those tools now.
You folks also can go straight to Amazon. I want to ask you this question as a way for us to bring our conversation to a pause, not to an end because I want to continue with you on another show. Skill and practice, there’s this wonderful relationship between these two things. To develop skills you have to practice. There’s no shortcut that I’m aware of. I don’t care who you’re talking about.
Let’s go back to LeBron James. I dissed him a little earlier, so I’m going to say something else now. For him to become as great as he is and has been, the only way that he got there, in addition to his natural skills and talents and his parents and whatever else supported him along the way. He has practiced tirelessly to become one of, if not the greatest in his sport. That’s a fact. I want to know what one skill you practice on a routine basis, Heather? Whether it’s to develop your resilience, self-advocacy or anything else that’s super important to you, like your spiritual life, if that’s important to you now. What’s one skill that you practice on a regular, even daily basis?
It is something that encompasses everything you mentioned. I have a very strong spiritual life and this is part of that. It’s perspective-taking. It’s the ability to see things from different perspectives. I challenge myself to do that. I think that it is key to being a strong advocate, to being a resilient person. Your spirituality supports it and it allows you to step further into your spirituality. One example of this is anytime that I have something going wrong in my life, I will challenge myself, specifically a conflict with someone else.
I’ll challenge myself to say, “Where am I the victim here?” I can pretty easily tell the story of where I’m the victim when I’m in a conflict. Now I make myself tell the story, “Where am I the villain?” I will write it out as if it’s a short story where, “These are all the villainous things that Heather did and her evil laugh as she did this specific thing.” I’ll write it out again as if I’m the victor. It allows me to see that there’s always another perspective and there’s probably more that I could write out but doing that gives me the skill of seeing things from different perspectives.
I also think that I got very good at this as a trial attorney because I always had to see the case from the other side in order to defend against it. I started to recognize how important it was and how practice made you better at it. Now it’s something that I do try to practice every day and I do it for myself and say to myself, “How does source see this?” I call it God. Some people call it love, the universe or whatever but how does God see this person? What’s a different perspective and what’s the biggest perspective, the best perspective? That’s a challenge that I give myself that seems to support me in being resilient, being a strong advocate and being a better human.
I love that. The term thinking and perspective to me are so synonymous. I feel like we should be queuing. Cue both sides now version of Joni Mitchell’s great platform. Heather, I have loved this conversation and know other people for sure have. They’ll be advocating for themselves and for others more effectively because we got to talk, so thank you.
I hope so. I’ve been so excited about this. I love your show. You’re doing great work and so thank you for having me.
Thank you. Everybody out there, we want other people to enjoy this. How do we do that? For one thing, if you want to write to us and let us know what it meant to you, go to AdamMarkel.com/podcast and leave a comment. I’ll be the one to return that message. It won’t be a bot or another person, it’s me. Thank you for doing that. The algorithm, I don’t know how it works. I’ll be vulnerable. I have no clue how it works. I don’t know if anybody does, but the mothership knows how or is programmed to know how, so it’s simple.
If you leave us a rating of five stars, other people will get access to this because it will magically appear in their feed or whatever, the whole thing is. We appreciate that. Self-serving, but we so appreciate it. Lastly, if you’ve not gotten your own resilience assessment, if you haven’t figured out at this moment, in a snapshot in time, how resilient you are now mentally, emotionally, physically and very much on point with what Heather said, spiritually speaking, whatever that means to you. You can simply go to RankMyResilience.com and get your free assessment. It takes just three minutes, which is way cool as well. Heather, thank you again so much for your time.
Thank you, Adam. It was my pleasure.
That was so enjoyable. Heather Hansen is a superstar. I could listen to her and speak to her all day long, so perhaps we’ll have her back again, but I got to say, I got so much value out of the conversation I was able to be a part of. I hope you got tremendous value. I want to summarize a couple of things that stood out and that I will continue to noodle on.
She talked a lot about how it is that we own what is in our lives, to understand that owning it. Not so much to be vulnerable, even though vulnerability is baked into it. I’m not saying anything against that particular term, but it’s used a lot and we’ve heard a lot about it. Maybe it’s been watered down or diluted in some way by how often the word gets thrown around. I loved how Heather framed that. I won’t say she even reframed it, but she gave us some more texture, if you will.
She talked about having when you own things, when you’re transparent about things and you own them, what happens is that you develop credibility with people. It heightens credibility and that’s ultimately in a business context. The way in which we could look at being more transparent in more cases. I don’t want to say in every single case. I’m not suggesting or advocating that we walk around sharing TMI and things wearing our hearts on our sleeves in ways that aren’t beneficial.
There is a fine line to understand this, but that’s one extreme doing that. The other extreme is more prevalent in that people walk around more guardedly. I know that’s certainly been the case for me and it’s been a work in progress for me not to be on guard. I did all TED Talks about the concept of being on guard and where that comes from and how my occupation as an attorney only helped me to live more into that on-guarddedness.
The idea that when we’re guarded in that way, when we’re on guard so frequently, when we’re protecting and defending and even creating this impenetrable outer layer, this facade as it is in some cases too. It is exhausting to put it mildly. It’s depleting when we have to maintain that security system. We already have a 24-hour ADT security system baked into our reptilian brains anyway. We’re already built for that but we add these other layers of guardedness.
It’s no wonder that we’re walking around with a constant cocktail of cortisol coursing through our veins. That was a lot of season. I like that alliteration. That was fun. I want to add one other layer to this too, which is that when we are willing to be transparent and we own things that as we do that, we develop credibility, as Heather should suggest it.
From that credibility comes trust, which is the most important thing in any relationship, whether it’s a professional or more personal relationship. I love this discussion we had about the framing and the reframing if you will of the word vulnerability and authenticity and things of that sort.
I also loved her pivot story and the way that she talked about pivoting from a different vantage point than a lot of people sometimes think. She didn’t quit her job. She didn’t quit lawyering as many people do. I retired to practice law, but I did it slowly. It was this idea that she shared about Lee Iaccoca saying, “The goal of all leadership should be that you replant yourself regularly.”
I thought that’s great. She said that’s like creeping. For her, it was creeping, not leaping. I’m also, the same thing, am I saying I’m a creep? I’m a creeper. Creeper not a leaper. In the book Pivot, I wrote about creating a plan B and how it is that you create this plan B while your plan A is still operative. I still think that the best pivot method I know is the pivot design your change before change designs for you or the universe designs your change for you.
I’d rather be by design than by default, if you will. Often, it is we have to choose change before it chooses us. That’s a phrase right out of the book, Change Proof on that very same topic. We got to talk about that and how it is that you navigate building this plan B or building this second bridge. Not burning the first one or destroying the first one.
We talk about the fact that, for some people burning the bridge or other commitment devices that leave you no room for a treat, they’re effective. They can be effective just not the way this particular control freak wants to do it. Maybe you’re like me and maybe that’s a thing for you too, so a slower process can offer some greater certainty and stability and all that thing. That was wonderful.
We talked about a lot of different books. We mentioned the book Chatter. We mentioned how it is that you can advocate to win and what that looks like. That is Heather’s book, in addition to the Elegant Warrior. She wrote a book called Advocate to Win. That’s her latest book, in fact. I got so much out of this conversation, including the definition of abracadabra. I don’t know if that struck you or if you wrote that down but abracadabra means I create as I speak. That is so on point with both my own spiritual beliefs as well as what my own code of conduct leads me and directs me each and every day.
I create as I speak. I create as I think and I speak. Abracadabra is a great anchor for that concept. I also left Heather with one question at the end. What’s the one skill that you practice daily? I want to ask you all that question now. What is the one skill that you practice daily? You can leave your answer to that question in our comments section, AdamMarkel.com/podcast.
If you’ve also not yet found out how resilient you are in this very moment, it’s a snapshot away, just three minutes by going to ResilienceRank.com. In 2 to 3 minutes, sixteen questions later, you’ll get a snapshot of these four important realms of resilience. They sometimes change a little bit here and there on a daily basis, but over periods of weeks and months and even years, they can change pretty dramatically, which is the work that we do in the world.
We have used this now with more than 5,000 business leaders globally. If you would like to have your team take the assessment or even perhaps look at your entire organization taking the assessment, getting reevaluated on a quarterly basis with some wonderful things in between, this is a wonderful conversation that we can have. Certainly, you can reach out to us. We’ll be happy to meet you where you are.
You can just email [email protected] if you want to learn more about how to deploy what we call the RLA, the Resilient Leader Assessment on behalf of your teams or even perhaps a wider audience across function or geography in your organization. With that, we wish you a wonderful rest of your day, your evening, wherever I’m finding you at this moment. Make it a beautiful and blessed one. I’ll see you soon. Ciao.
- Heather Hansen
- The Elegant Warrior
- The Elegant Warrior – Podcast
- Advocate to Win
- Change Proof
- Amazon – Advocate to Win
- [email protected]
About Heather Hansen
Heather Hansen combines her psychology degree, her mediation training and 20 years of experience in the courtroom to teach international audiences to advocate for themselves and their business. Her book, The Elegant Warrior, is an Amazon best seller and her podcast, The Elegant Warrior is consistently in the top 100 business podcasts on Apple