Ask yourself, how open are you to hearing an alternative point of view?
As I am always saying, the times are changing, fast. From global unrest to polarizing politics to toxic company cultures, everybody is having a challenging time talking to each other. To help us have better conversations so we can move forward together, I bring to you Rose Fass, a wonderful woman who will help us think about the conversations we’re having and how to turn them into powerful growth experiences. I interviewed Rose for this podcast in June of last year and what she said applies so strongly to our world today that I wanted to share her thoughts with you again. As she says in her book, The Chocolate Conversation, conversations become who we are, what we hear, and how we build relationships. A lot to learn here. Listen in and please share.
Watch and listen to our conversation here
To connect with Rose
Want to communicate better and more effectively? Check out these 3 podcasts:
- Monique Russell—Why Is It So Hard To Communicate?
- Imogene Drummond—How Can A Brilliant Artist Show You How To Communicate Effectively—Online?
- Nadia Bilchik—How To Master Communication In A Virtual World
Additional resources for you
- My two award-winning books: Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business and On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights
- My third book, Women Mean Business: Over 500 Insights from Extraordinary Leaders to Spark Your Success, co-written with Edie Fraser and Robyn Freedman Spizman
- Our website: Simon Associates Management Consultants
Read the transcript of our podcast here
Andi Simon: Welcome to On the Brink With Andi Simon. Hi, I’m Andi Simon. As you know, I’m a corporate anthropologist, and my job is to help you see, feel and think in new ways. And for our podcast, I go looking for people who can help you do that as well. Our job is to get you off the brink. But unless you can see things through a fresh lens, begin to understand them in a new way, you get stuck, or stalled, or you know what you know, and your brain doesn’t really want to change anyhow, thank you very much, please go away. I’m happy where I am.
But today, the times are changing. We are in a world that is full of turmoil, everywhere, of all kinds. From COVID, to the Ukraine, to what’s going on in corporations, everybody is having a challenging time talking to each other. And so I brought you today a wonderful woman who’s going to help you think about the conversations that we’re having, and how to turn them into really growth experiences. The whole world is a conversation. We’re having a global conversation right now.
So today, we have Rose Fass here. Rose and I met fortunately, serendipitously at the Westchester Business Council, where she was presenting an absolutely brilliant presentation. And she’s going to share some of those insights with you. It was really so touching. I said, Wow, can I share her with our audience as well? Now, the Westchester Business Council is a marvelous organization. You have no idea how many people I’ve met there, it’s a really cool place. But each time I meet somebody and want to share them, they add some dimension to our day today.
Let me tell you a little bit about Rose and then she’ll tell you about her own journey. Rose knows, as she says, how to use her unique gift to take a mess and quickly put it in place with effective steps to teach desired outcomes. Interesting, isn’t it. So she loves to change as I do, and like me, is a culture change expert. She’s a natural facilitator who connects with all types of people at all levels of an organization, from the C-suite to the people closest to the work. She has over 45 years of experience in technology and consumer-based industries. During her career, Rose has opened businesses in the United States, has been a general manager with full P&L responsibility and led major corporate transformations. She was a chief transformation officer at Xerox and she’s going to tell you a lot about some of her learnings and why at this point she’s ready to help others do all kinds of transformation. These times, they are a-changing as Bob Dylan told us in the 60s. Rose, thank you for being with me today.
Rose Fass: Thank you, thank you so much. And it’s interesting that whenever I hear my bio, I have to smile a little because I go back to being this little kid in a very small neighborhood with a group of young Italian girls like myself just walking around and trying to figure out what it was that we were going to do when we grew up. So the interesting part about all of this is, I run a company right now called fassforward Consulting Group. And it’s probably the culmination of everything I ever did at Xerox. Later I went to Gartner with the now CEO of ServiceNow, Bill McDermott, and then met my colleague and partner there, Gavin McMahon, and we started this about 21 years ago. And I still feel like I’m a student of the subject that I talked about. So I want to bring myself into the room as little Rose, so you know who I am. Then we can decide whether any of us are a big piece of stuff, or we all buy into this world with our brilliance and our muddy shoes.
So I used to live in East Utica, New York. That’s where I was born, on Ruptor Street, and we had a four-room cold water flat that my dad worked very hard on, kind of getting it to where we would have hot water or mom wouldn’t have to boil it on top of the stove. Believe it or not, I’m 72 years old and I can actually think back to those days very fondly. But my claim to fame was I lived down the street from Annette Funicello. All of you young women, she was on the Mouseketeers and we were just all a bunch of Italian girls who could dance and sing and we were all cute. And we just could not understand why Annette got discovered by Walt Disney and ended up in Hollywood and we were left in East Utica. So for many, many days, I walked with a group of Italian girls home, complaining, whining, saying bad things and being green with jealousy.
I remember this one day, it was unusual because it was early spring, and if you know anything about upstate New York winters, they’re horrible. But the weather was nice and I saw my dad picking dandelions out on the front lawn. I went up to him very quietly, because I just wanted to scoot by. My father was a World War II Marine, a published poet and conversant in all the Romance languages, so he was a very interesting guy. I remember walking by and him saying, “Rose,” and I halted. I turned around, this little nine-year-old looking at him, and he said, “What do you see?” And he held up the dandelion. And I thought, Oh, God, I don’t want to do this. This philosopher, I don’t want to do this. And I said, “I don’t know Dad, I see a dandelion.” And he said, “Yes, darling, but I want you to look wider. I want you to look deeper. I want you to look beyond just the dandelion.” And he looked at me, and I said, “I don’t know Dad, what do you see?”
I think at that point, I had learned how to be very good at rhetorical responses, especially when I didn’t have an idea of what to say. I was so down in the dumps that I just didn’t have the energy to get into it. I usually did, because I think for my dad I was the one that appreciated poetry and philosophy. So he looked at me and he said, “Darling, I see the end of a long winter. I see the dawning of a new season. I see lovers walking hand in hand exchanging silence. I see children picking these out of the lawns and handing them to their moms to put them in juice glasses on the sills as a means of saying I love you.” And I looked at him. And I said, “You see a lot, Dad.” And he said, “Rose, soon this dandelion, this beautiful expression of spring is going to become a weed, and we like many homeowners are going to go to the nurseries and we’re going to get the stuff that will take it out of the lawn because we want to rid ourselves of this one beautiful expression of spring that’s now an ugly reminder of cleaning up the yard.”
And I looked at him. He said, “Because soon honey, the beautiful flowers are going to come along, the irises, the tulips, and yes, even the roses. But the beauty of the dandelion is not in its first expression of spring, it’s in the root, because it’s resilient. And all of us know that no matter how much we hack at them next year, they come back double fold. We named you Rose, but roses are fragile. In your heart, you need to be a dandelion.” That is my signature story.
I remember that day of standing there on that little patch of lawn and crying in the arms of the Marine and in the arms of the poet. And for whatever reason, letting it all out and feeling like I may be enough. I didn’t think I was but maybe I’m enough. And I think we women struggle with that. And so for the rest of my journey, I have reminded myself that we get kicked around, and we get hacked at. And we just have to be resilient. And so today, I think that’s probably more true than ever. And it has held me together for many, many years. Andi, so I want you know who I really am, the little rose, the woman who became who she is today, and that I am a combination of all of those beautiful moments when you learn through pain.
Andi Simon: Now, by saying that, I guess I visualized that scene with your father was exhilarating, maybe painful. But he was imparting to you wisdom that’s really hard to come by otherwise. Who else would you trust to listen to that way? So you may have cried but I have a hunch he had a long term impact on the way you see the world. It’s all of the implications and the meaning that it has. Am I right?
Rose Fass: The Marine, unlike the philosopher, said, One rule for my two brothers and me was to be up by 0600, ready for company. Every day of my life, I am out of bed by six o’clock and I get dressed no matter where I’m going. My hair is combed. I’ve showered and am presentable and so are my brothers. And in his mind, it was the “ready for company” meant a lot of things. Were you ready to be gracious? Were you ready to be approachable? Were you ready to be aware, conscious, willing to help? All those things culminated in that one little statement: be up at 0600 and ready for company. And I’ve kind of never forgotten that. Today, with people working remotely, I noticed they get on the camera, and oftentimes, they’ll take the camera off because they’re not camera ready or they’re even in sweat pants, and they’re looking draggy. And when you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s hard to feel good about life. Yes, and we’re living in a time when I think more than ever we have to bring our best selves to whatever we’re doing. Because it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. I really believe that.
Andi Simon: You’re making the important point about our best selves. And I want you to talk a little bit about the career that you had because we could stay on your lessons learned in your youth a lot. But the best self is a very interesting concept. We are working with a lot of women as coaches, and they are successful, but not happy. They have a position or are partner in a firm. They’ve got degrees, are financially successful and they’re asking, Isn’t there more? We talk a lot about who am I? What’s my purpose? What’s my best self? So a little bit more about as you got into your career, you began to carve out an area around transformation. Sounds like your father became living in these companies a little bit further.
Rose Fass: By the way, Andi, you talk about youth. I often relate to men in the work that I do. I tell them there’s no more important person in a young woman’s life than their father. Mom plays a role but Father gives them the sense of validation and approval of who they are as women. And I think that’s critical, just as mothers help their sons become more approachable and more yin and yang.
So for me, my early career after I got out of Boston University, I started at Saks Fifth Avenue in an executive training program, and I had two mentors. I had Jan Edelstein, God rest her soul. She was very gypsy-ish, wore all these crazy skirts and crazy glasses and lots of bangles. But knew Judith Leiber, Bottega, every possible fashion brand you can think of in accessories. I was her assistant and I was also assistant to the blouse buyer, who was Miss Janet. And I’m not kidding. Little bow, little glasses like a librarian, always in the black pencil skirt, white blouse, buttoned to the teeth. They could not have been more different. Jan told me to have to learn how to be creative and every bit of data and information you need to make good sound decisions. But let that be one data point that I want you to go with your gut when you feel you know how your experience is and how something speaks to you.
Then I went up to Judith and she taught me the process. And it was so procedural. I remember taking an inventory where every single blouse had to be counted. And in those days, these departments were massive. And I walked around and I was spinning. And I was trying to take a few little shortcuts. And she said to me, “Miss Maysa?” (my maiden name) And I said, “Yes”. She said, “You are not to take shortcuts. You will one day take shortcuts but that will be after you learn the long way home, and I’m going to teach you the long way home.”
The unique part about this was that Jan and Judith were really good friends. They could not have been more different. But they understood each other in their own way. And neither of them really took shortcuts. Most of them understood what it meant to take a long way home. Years later, working with young people and trying to get them to understand that there are steps to getting to an outcome that doesn’t just happen because you wish it so, I would say to them, “You are taking shortcuts. You can’t do that either. You learn the long way home.” And here’s the long way. It’s like doing math in classes; you do the long version, and then you can get to the quick answer. So for me, my whole career has been pretty much about working in data areas that required both my gut and my ability to be disciplined.
Andi Simon: Very interesting. I grew up in the retail business. I was supposed to take over our family firm. A very big store in Manhattan, a department store in the old family model. And I was being trained to take it over. As I’m listening to you, I vividly remember trips to the market with my grandmother and my mother to go buy. I remember saying to my grandmother, “How do you know what to buy?” She said, “Well, Andrea,” (I remember her voice so well) “1/3 will sell full price, 1/3 will sell on sale, and 1/3 will walk out the door. Now if we’re good, we’ll have enough money coming out of that to pay bills and do it again.” And that’s my vivid memory, being taught that. I remember putting blouses on the hangers. You were counting the blouses. I was putting them on the hangers with Leo in the basement.
Rose Fass: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We did it all. I remember Judy Garland coming in to buy a Rosanna sweater. Oh, no, I’m really dating myself here. But Rosanna sweaters were weaved in such a way that it was a staple in every woman’s closet. And in those days, believe it or not, women wanted to be a size 12. They wanted to be curvy, and terrific. So she came in emaciated. And she insisted on the size 12 sweater and I thought, “You need a size 6.” We didn’t have 2s and 4s and zeros. Six was the smallest size back then. So ladies, we actually did get to eat. She insisted. And then she called in my department manager and she said, “I want to talk to her boss.” And I’m like, Oh my God. And the whole thing was, you give her what she wants. She’s a size 12 and in her mind she’s that size. Well, later, I got a call from upstairs. They said, “Wrap all of Ms. Garland’s things up and we’ll send them over to the hotel.” And that was the end of the conversation.
And I learned that being technically right wasn’t necessarily socially effective. When I later put together the technical, social and political spheres, which are a big part of the book that I’ve written, called The Chocolate Conversation, and the book I’m writing now, The Leadership Conversation, making bold changes one conversation at a time. We live in this technically right space where we have the facts, we know what we’re doing, we’re going to say it the way we’re going to say it, but sometimes we have to socially adjust to what a person is capable of experiencing in that moment. And getting somebody there by connecting with them, not through facts and through your technical expertise, but through that human connection, and then ultimately positioning it in a way that they feel like they came out of this a winner.
Andi Simon: Being an anthropologist, my affection is with understanding women and people. We really intuitively watch what goes on and observe and listen. People can’t really tell you what they’re doing, to your point. And when you look at data that has no meaning out of context, I still hear my anthro 101 professor saying to me, There is no data that does not explain, does not exist out of context. Their meaning is set into the context. But the other thing that we’ve learned is that people decide with the heart, the gut, the eyes, and then the data in the brain begins to operate. And that means we have to experience each other. We’ve got to feel each other. We really don’t know what it means. The reason I love my podcast to be video or audio is people see differently. But as you’re thinking about it, the first book and the second book you’re writing now are all about conversations. They are about your passion. Same thing.
Rose Fass: I think for me, Andi, you put it perfectly. One of my dearest friends that I got to know when I first started at Xerox, then went to Palo Alto Research and then later came with her to Gartner and that my early days at fassforward, was an anthropologist, and I just loved Susan because she always said that to me. She said, Rose, there’s their side, this side and somewhere in there there’s the truth. And then there’s the person who’s observing the truth.
We had a gig with Estée Lauder where they wanted to know what was important to women around mascara. And Susan just sat on trains and watched people put it on. And I was like, Oh my God. And she goes, Well, what’s important to you? I said, Well, at night, when I want to give myself a refresh, you have to take it all off because it clumps when you put it all back on again. And later, they came out with a conditioner that you could literally put over a mascara and then put it on and we were part of that pattern. All in the conversations with women about what was important conversations.
For me, the first and the most important one is the one you have with yourself. Yes. What’s that conversation that’s going on in your head? What’s your head telling you? What have you done that maybe was right or wrong? So I’m going to take a little moment here. I have a colleague that works for me here, Liz works with me. And I adore her and she happens to live nearby. She put her car in park and realized she had forgotten two presents in the house. She left the dog in the car, her handbag, and just quickly, 30 seconds, ran to the apartment, grabbed this stuff, got back and the handbag was gone. And she beat herself up about that for three straight days in a row. “But I only left for 30 seconds.” “But I only did”…is what we do to ourselves. We beat ourselves up over the mistakes that we made. And we don’t celebrate the fact that we’ve learned something.
You’re parked by a bus stop, someone’s riding a bus, so they’re not doing as well as maybe you are in the car. They get out. They see an open door, they grab a handbag because it’s something to get them by for whatever period of time. And whatever karma was involved in what you owed that individual from some other life, maybe it got taken care of at that moment. And no mistake, let’s not worry about it. Let’s not get ourselves all worked up. Yes, it’s disturbing but at the end of the day, we are going to make mistakes. Our victories will keep us buoyant in life, but our mistakes are what are going to teach us in life. I really believe that.
Andi Simon: Oh, I agree. I agree. Yeah, I’d like to add to that, that Liz had a damaged self. One of the things that we often say is, flip it around and begin to express. I think what you’re saying is gratitude, what do we do, because it changes the whole, and we manage our minds, the mind does exactly what it thinks you want it to do. When you understand that you can be unhappy, or you can have a lesson learned, I’m grateful she showed me, I will never do that again. Right. I learned that the little time I took was really unnecessary to do it that way. I mean, all the things that turn negative lemons into lemonade, right out of that building that story. It’s a little like your dad with his dandelion, and your answer, It’s a dandelion, and he said, Push, go further. And so to your point, that self care that we need, and that self awareness comes from taking every experience and turning into something else.
Rose Fass: Because nobody’s perfect out there. I don’t trust perfect people. I learned that in my first book. I think we’re all a little messy. I kind of feel this way very strongly. I look at Golda Meir, and I think of what she went through when she became Prime Minister. And it was messy. But what an incredible character, right? Gandhi was messy. A lot of these incredible leaders that we knew about. Winston Churchill never got out of bed sober. Very messy guy. But leadership is messy. And if you are willing to take that on, you can obviously do something uniquely different in the world. I look at Steven Jobs as one of the great leaders of our time in innovation, not so much in leadership, but in innovation. And at the end of his life, he finally came to grips with the fact that I’ve lived this incredible life, but it’s coming to a much shorter halt than I had anticipated. And yet he was very messy.
What I say to people in management is, it’s something you can plan for. It’s the management of work, it’s the management of plans. It’s all about the stuff that we get to look ahead and do but leadership happens in the moment. It happens when Rosa Parks gives up her seat on the bus. It happens when, at the worst moment in your life, you are going to have to have the courage to do something that you otherwise would be terrified to do. And yet you do it. That’s leadership in the moment. We don’t get to plan for that. And if we can accept the fact, as I said earlier, that we come into this world with our brilliance and our muddy shoes, and that life is messy, that we can’t expect perfection, and we can’t hold ourselves accountable to perfection, then we can do what we need to do as all individuals and just progress, one conversation at a time.
And I do believe we’re in a conversation right now. And we have had very different backgrounds, and yet some very common ground, both started our careers in retail. You went on to become an anthropologist. I got to work with one for a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve taken my business career to heights I never dreamed I would be at. And I have the opportunity to work with C-level executives. And when they ask me how I think I know or why it is what I’m saying, I go, It’s easy. I’m 72. I’m at least 20 years older than you and I made every damn mistake that I could possibly make up to this point. And I’m still making them. So I’m saving you the benefit of that.
And in the book, it’s a book of stories. It’s a book of stories about different leaders, different experiences, my journey as a young woman to my business career, and all the different ways in which we sabotage what we are capable of. That phrase that came out very popular a few years back: Don’t go there. I absolutely hated it, Andi. I’d be like, I’m packed and ready to go. I don’t want someone to tell me, Don’t go there. That means this conversation isn’t safe, let’s not have it. The conversation is as safe as you choose to make it if you can have a civil discourse. And so I have a chapter in the first book, “Go there. Find a way to go there.”
So many times when you bring up the fact that women are unhappy in their current roles is because they have not expressed what they’re distressed about. It’s like Cassandra, Greek tragedy, the voice is trying to come out. And it’s not. And we have to make ourselves known. And I don’t mean in an alfa, overly feministic way, but to be real, to come out and say, look, this isn’t working for me. I need other things. And today, these people in big positions within corporations, whether they’re women or men, are willing to listen. They don’t want the erosion of their diverse employees. They don’t want that. They want you to stay. So if ever there’s a time to express yourself, using the right way to speak.
Andi Simon: So let’s stay on that. This is a new book that Rose is working on for our listeners. She has a first book. Did you call it The Chocolate Conversation?
Rose Fass: Yes, The Chocolate Conversation.
Andi Simon: Yes, I do love chocolate. But The Chocolate Conversation has now led to a whole new book. What we’re talking about is conversation. All of life is conversation. Yes, Lazer, the late organizational anthropologist, wrote great stuff about conversational intelligence and the power of we. And what we’ve learned from the neurosciences is that when you say in a conversation, the neurosciences, the brain goes, Ooh, run away. The amygdala hijacks it, it flees it, the cortisol said, This is going to be painful. Don’t hang around, off you go. But when you say, We, the we brings out all kinds of good oxytocin or wonderful hormones that say, Oh, let’s bond. This is the love that we feel. You, Rose, tell us about the book you’re writing.
Rose Fass: Well, it’s a book of conversations. It’s a book of conversations with myself with others. I think what you said earlier, I really care that somebody gets heard and gets acknowledged. I remember facilitating a very large group of different cultural people from Latin America, Portugal. People that were there from France. And we had these earphones on, because they were getting translated into English. And at the same time, we were facilitating all these different languages. There was this one little Portugese guy and he stood up and he was trying to explain something to his boss. And it was completely misinterpreted.
One of the things that I call the chocolate conversation is just talking, right?, and the boss got very annoyed, and I said, Stop for a minute. And I kind of took off my earphones and I said, Can you just translate for me? Yes. And I said, this is what I think I heard you say, and he was, Si, si, si. And I said to him, And so I translated and took the whole thing, and I brought it back. And in that moment, there was such a relief. And I thought to myself, I teared up, because in my heart of hearts, the worst thing in the world is when you’re standing there trying to express yourself in another language even, and someone is just not getting what you’re saying. And completely misinterpreting, because we spend more time on our own point of view than trying to understand what it is that you’re saying.
So I think today, in business, we’ve got to start listening to people at the front of the business, the ones that are closest to the customers, it doesn’t matter what age someone is, there’s truth that is worth listening to. I feel that this is the last value added space right now because our institutions have failed us. People are looking at journalism, and they’re saying, Where is it? Where is the unbiased truth? We’re getting nothing but opinion and vitriol conversations. The public stage has become a boxing ring. Everybody is walking around that whole term of psychological safety. When I hear it, I think, Oh, my God, it sounds so clinical. What it really means is, Can I be comfortable here? Can I be in my own skin? Can I wake up in the morning and feel like it’s going to be okay? And I think we owe that to each other.
I think we need to become more human. We need to provide that peace of mind to our children, to our friends, to our family as much as we can. And we need to find a spiritual essence in all of us. And this has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with who are we, why are we here? It’s not just about the momentary little things that we go through. It’s really bigger than that. And so my books are about how do you have conversations that are inclusive, that shift people’s points of view from a worldview they’re stuck in, establish new standards, a lie, some concerns.
The Chocolate Conversation is about worldviews, standards and concerns. The new book is about being bold with your conversation, saying what you mean, not what you think people want to hear but doing it in a way that you can get your point across in a loving and caring and compassionate way such that people feel touched.
You saw me at the Westchester Business Council. I showed that wonderful little film of Mary Jackson, NASA engineer. And those of you who have seen Hidden Figures know what I’m talking about in the film. This was a woman who needed to go to a school to get an engineering degree so she could become a NASA engineer. She’s brilliant. But she was a woman of color. Walking in at a time when the level of bias against people of color was so serious. And if she had gone up against that judge with hatred, resentment, vitriol, about something that was totally unfair, she would have been right. But she never would have been effective. But she went to that judge with a different heart, and she found common ground. You’ve been first in a lot of places. I need to be first going to that school, we can have this in common. And I shared that at the Business Council because that to me, was the combination of one of the better conversations I’ve been exposed to.
Andi Simon: You have a passion and a purpose. You really do want to see change happen, and how we get along, how we listen to each other, how we learn from each other. And there’s something more here in your life journey that really is transformational. You see that it’s a time where we have to not simply accept the way we are but begin to change the way we go. I’m anxious to hear if you have any message in your little toolkit here to share or some ideas about how we can begin to multiply. A podcast is a podcast, but my whole purpose in life is to multiply it so that people take it and share it. And in the process, learn something they can actually do with it.
Rose Fass: So I think one of the things that’s helped me a lot, and I can’t take credit for it, was given to me by a wonderful professor at MIT that I happen to be in touch with. When you want to have a conversation, particularly one that may have a little conflict associated with it, have the meta conversation, the conversation about the conversation, get permission to have it. That was very helpful to me, because I would be, Are you open to an alternative point of view? And yes, even if it’s going to be very different from the one that you have. Yes. Do you mean it? Yes, I mean, okay, I’m going to take a risk here, and say something that really flies in the face of your experience, your lived experience, and what you’ve just shared with me, and I just want you to consider it. I don’t want you to agree with me, I just want you to consider it. And that’s helped me a lot to be able to have that kind of conversation. And I’ll do it often with a CEO. And they’re like, “Okay,” and they take a breath.
I think also, when I’m getting feedback, I don’t know about you, Andi, but I still lose, if it’s not going to be good. You know, I still have that. And what I’ve learned from my years here is to stop feeling that I’m going to feel it initially no matter what I do, but to step back from it and say, this is just a data point. Not defining my entire persona. It’s not defining my past, my future, my present. It’s a data point. Let me take it in. Let me think about it. Let me try to get myself back centered. I think staying in the present, very important, stays in the conversation you’re having, not the one you’re tying yourself to. And you know, having a conversation is not waiting for your time to speak.
Andi Simon: Well, these are important points. And as the listener is taking their notes, as I know you often do, there’s some lessons here about navigating interpersonal relationships, having a permission conversation before you have the conversation levels the playing field. It’s not adversarial, it’s communication. It’s sharing, it’s a we, in a sense, it’s that what Glaser spoke about, which opens your mind up to something I’m going to enjoy as opposed to flee in some fashion. The second thing is that as you’re going through this, I learned a long time ago to say something like, It sounds like you are upset about something. And if I put it into their zone, it becomes a conversation of listening, as opposed to having a point of view about it. And I would say to my staff, I was an EVP of a bank, and I had lots of folks, and I would learn that and practice it because I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. It was easy to become a command and control leader, but I was very engaging. And I said, Sounds like you’re having some difficulty with your manager? No, I see. Well, it sounds like you’re unhappy with your job.
I mean, you can really watch the responses come back as long as I kept it in their zone, as opposed to trying to take charge of it. And then my third point is that I often ask people, Yur feedback point is really important. I teach a Leadership Academy. And we teach feedback. Because every conversation is feedback. It’s in the feedback loop. And I say to people, If you really want to get the right feedback, say to somebody, What’s one thing you would like me to do differently? You’d be amazed at how interesting that goes.
Rose Fass: Yes. Great question. Wonderful question. And most people are afraid to ask it. And afraid to hear, afraid to ask it and they’re afraid to because they’re afraid to hear it. Very often, and you may have found this too Andi, if you say to someone, I sense that you’re upset about something, they might feel like, Oh, are you threatening me? But it’s more along the line of just sort of stepping back from it and saying, you know, we all have concerns. Yeah, I know I have them. What might be one of your concerns? What are you feeling right now? What do you like about what you do? And what are the things that you could change if you had a magic wand? And you could just change this one thing? What might that be? Just giving people a chance to step outside of themselves and de-personalize a little. Sometimes if we can step out of ourselves.
This is another anthropological method that Susan taught me: stand outside of yourself, just observe it. And it was a hard thing to learn to do. But it’s an extraordinarily freeing. When you can sort of step outside, say what’s really bothering me. Why am I so stressed about this? And we’re going to be stressed, these are stressful times. I really felt bad about that poor tennis player, devoted to his healthy body, he’s not anti-vax. He’s come right out and said it, I’m not anti-vaccinating, I just don’t want to put any foreign things into my body. Now, whatever side of the argument you’re on, the newscasters kept trying to pin him as an anti-vax. And he’s the sweetest guy. And there’s a sweetness about him. And I said, You know, he’s probably a health nut. He believes in alternative medication. Have we tried to understand his point of view? Are we just throwing this out at him that he’s now part of the anti-vax movement now?
Andi Simon: But Rose, we have to wrap up, as much fun as we are having. It’s really an honor and a privilege. We have a brilliant woman, Rose Fass. I want her to give you one or two things she doesn’t want you to forget because we often remember the ending more than the beginning. Although her dandelion story is one that you’re gonna hold on to. Some things Rose you want to leave with us.
Rose Fass: Remember that everybody, everybody piles in with their brilliance and their muddy shoes. Take that away, nobody’s perfect. That’s something I want you to take away. The second thing is, remember the conversation you’re having with yourself. That’s the single most important conversation because that’s the one that’s going to shape the conversations you have with others. And when you do have a conversation with someone else, think about the context. You’re in the social connection you need to make, how things need to be positioned. And think about having the conversation about the conversation before you jump right in. That would be the three things that I would say. And my dandelions story is just if you’re another we’d be happy to have you in the field.
Andi Simon: This has been such fun. So we have had Rose Fass here. If they want to reach you, where can they do that?
Rose Fass: They can do it at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’m on LinkedIn, Rose Fass.
Andi Simon: Yes, everybody’s on LinkedIn. Thank you LinkedIn, it’s a great place to find the world. Now, for my listeners. Thank you for coming. As always, our audience is wonderful. Rose has given you some great insights today about all kinds of things: not only growing up, but also really becoming who we are, listening to our conversations about who we are, and also finding a path to where we find purpose and passion. It comes down to conversations. All conversations are there. That’s how we survive. Then the question is, who are we having conversations with and what are we listening to, and listening has become real important.
Thank you for coming to our podcast. As you know, we’re ranked in the top 5% of global podcasts, which is truly an honor and a privilege. It’s wonderful. And I bring on guests who I think have ideas they want to share with you. My books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local bookseller. My Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business, Rose could have been in there. And I have the stories of 11 women who have smashed the myths. They didn’t listen to people who said, Oh, you shouldn’t, and you can’t and no, we don’t, because they said, Of course we can. And they are really great role models for other women. And On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights is about how a little anthropology can help your business grow. And as you know, we spend a lot of time consulting with clients and helping them see, feel and think in new ways like you.
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