Tasha Eurich has helped thousands of leaders around the world to become more self-aware and successful. Her first book, Bankable Leadership, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in 2013. Her latest book, Insight, delves into the connection between self-awareness and success. Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times, bestselling author. She’s built a reputation as a fresh modern voice in the business world by pairing her scientific grounding and human behavior with a pragmatic approach to professional development. In this interview, Tasha and I talk about a lot of things, including the work she’s done and the things she’s learned in more than 15 years of being a scientist. I hope you enjoy it, and if you listen all the way to the end where we talk about writing, she shares some things about writing that, if you’ve tried it, I think will resonate with you. Please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Tasha Eurich.
00:02:00 – What’s life about?
00:02:32 – Who is Tasha and what does she do?
00:17:02 – Thinking about ourselves isn’t knowing ourselves.
00:27:42 – Enlisting love critics.
00:36:07 – Lightning round.
00:43:09 – Third generation entrepreneur.
00:51:38 – Meditative retreat.
01:05:54 – Composite characters.
01:26:10 – Turning research into readable content.
Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom-Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both by Tasha Eurich
Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think by Tasha Eurich
Tasha Eurich TEDx Talk
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Health
White Noise APP
Orange Theory Fitness
BRYAN: 00:00:54 Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher and New York Times bestselling author. She’s built a reputation as a fresh modern voice in the business world by pairing her scientific grounding and human behavior with a pragmatic approach to professional development. Over her 15 plus year career she’s helped thousands of leaders around the world become more self aware and successful. Her first book, Bankable leadership, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in 2013. Her latest book Insight delves into the connection between self-awareness and success. In this interview, Tasha and I talk about a lot of things, including the work she’s done and the things she’s learned in more than 15 years of being a scientist. I hope you enjoy it, and if you listen all the way to the end where we talk about writing, she shares some things about writing that, uh, if you’ve tried it, I think will resonate with you. And if you’re working to get your book done, I think that will be useful to you. So please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Tasha Eurich.
BRYAN: 00:01:55 Tasha, welcome to the School For Good Living podcast.
TASHA: 00:01:58 Thanks for having me.
BRYAN: 00:02:00 Oh, it’s my pleasure. So what’s life about?
TASHA: 00:02:05 Just really starting with the easy initial question, right. I think, um, I think I agree with you. Um, life is about giving to others and making the world a better place.
BRYAN: 00:02:19 Beautiful. I feel like I’m letting you off too easy if I just stop there, but that’s fine. We’ll come back to that one.
TASHA: 00:02:24 We’re done Right? That’s it!
BRYAN: 00:02:26 I do say that’s my favorite question for Uber drivers.
TASHA: 00:02:29 Oh my gosh. I bet you’ve heard some amazing answers.
BRYAN: 00:02:32 Yeah. And one of the most common thing really is the people acknowledged they don’t like, they don’t know, right? It’s this, this big mystery for so many people. But that’s why I love talking to thought leaders like you who you do have an answer and not only do you have an answer, you’re living an answer. Which comes to the next question, which is; when people ask who you are and what you do, and I recognize this probably changes context by context, but how do you usually answer that question? Who are you and what you do?
TASHA: 00:03:02 So if I take the Peter Drucker model of, you know, explain what you do as if it could be put on a t-shirt. I help leaders succeed by seeing themselves more clearly and so that really takes the form of everything from executive coaching to working with management teams to building programs that help build leaders. But my background is in organizational psychology. So it’s, it’s basically the intersection of everything that’s interesting about humans and everything that’s interesting about business all in one. I love what I do.
BRYAN: 00:03:37 It shows. Um, I did see somewhere online, in fact, I’m pretty sure it was on your own webpage that talks about you being an unapologetic musical theatre nerd. Tell me about that. How does that fit in?
TASHA: 00:03:50 So I, I actually have loved theater since I discovered a cassette tape of the soundtrack of Les Miserables in my parents garage when I was about seven. And I think that was probably not an appropriate musical for a seven year old to be listening to you. But I remember I, I started, I heard the first song and it sounds a little cheesy, but my entire life changed at that moment. And so I was a, I did some professional theater, not a lot, but some when I was in high school, I studied theater in college and my, my heart, if I have the talent for it, would have been as a, as a broadway great. Um, but in the spirit of self awareness, I discovered that not only was I probably not good enough to make it, I wanted things like health insurance and I wanted to own a house and I wanted all these things that, you know, maybe a career as an actor wouldn’t have really allowed me to have reliably. So very sadly, it now is something that I love and appreciate and enjoy, but I’m not directly involved with.
BRYAN: 00:04:54 Well, you grace the stage in other ways right, and being a TED speaker is one of those and now your two TED talks have collectively got more than two and a half million views, which is pretty cool.
TASHA: 00:05:09 Oh, I didn’t know that. Very cool.
BRYAN: 00:05:11 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, will you tell me a little bit about what, and I know you’ve done, it looks like you’ve done one for each of your books, basically that relate to the topic of each of your books, Bankable Leadership being the first one a couple years ago, and then, um, your new book Insight. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve learned about speaking from the stage and making, like taking the message and sharing it with others in this, basically this new medium, I mean relatively new in the span of human history, right, TED talks and transmitting ideas over the internet. But what, I know there’s a big question, but what’s that been like for you?
TASHA: 00:05:49 Maybe I’ll answer that question. It’s such a good one with what I learned between my first and my second experience, um, because I think it mirrors so much of what I’ve learned in my business as a, as a speaker, you know, on and off the TED stage. So I think we all grow up, you know, in school and in our families and it’s good to be perfect and it’s good to have everything together and it’s good to have a plan and I spent so much time as a speaker, you know, trying to focus on that, right. Being the perfect version of me that to some extent I started to lose the ability to bring who I was to the stage. And so in my first TED talk, I’m proud of it and I worked hard and I, you know, I wrote and I rewrote and I had someone help me with all the slides and the design. But when I, when I watched it for the first time, I said, I feel like that’s not me. You know, I’m saying stuff that I know is true and I’m telling stories that happened to me, but there’s something about me that didn’t quite make it onto that stage. And you know, it’s really interesting because it led to a longer process of exploring what is that, you know, first of all, how is it so hard to be yourself on stage? And second of all, what was I missing that really was preventing me from doing that? And so for my second TED talk, I, I, I basically got to do over, you know, it was the same affiliate. They were happy with how the first talk went, which was gratifying. And so I decided that the only goal I had at the end of the day was to ask myself was I myself onstage? And if the answer was yes, I was going to call it a victory. So obviously I paid a lot of attention to what I was saying and focusing on my audience and how can I make them better off. But what I started to realize was, um, you know, the less hard I tried, the easier it was to be myself. And, and there’s a metaphor to that I think in life in general. So I talked about my fears in the, in the second talk I talked about what I was scared of. I showed them that I was profoundly imperfect. And I think in doing that, that was what really helped me maybe get to another level as a speaker because I think, you know, if you think about all the greats, Renee Brown is one that comes to mind, brilliant thinker, brilliant speaker. I think what she’s able to do with our audiences, connect with them as humans and if we can’t show ourself as humans, if we can’t be on that stage, not as a perfect teacher, but as a person, we’re never going to make that connection and help make their lives better. So it was actually, it was one of the more profound experiences I’ve had going through that first and that second talk, just to realize, you know, what am I really about as a speaker and how can I bring that to the stage?
BRYAN: 00:08:46 What an amazing way to think of the measurement for success for, you know, for a talk. Looking at it now as you kind of evaluate yourself, um, how did, how did you answer that question for yourself?
TASHA: 00:08:57 So the funny thing was I still haven’t seen it because I knew that if I watched it I would start getting in my head and critiquing all this stuff that I decided didn’t matter. So I was kind of like saving myself from myself by not watching it, but I will never forget that moment it was. I ended with a quote with this beautiful Rumi quote that said “yesterday, I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I’m wise so I’m changing myself.” And I just remember sitting there and hearing those words come out and finished the talk and in that moment I knew that I had, I had accomplished my goal. And the funny thing is we’re getting such an amazing response to it that I think, you know, that sort of underscores why it’s so important to just be who we are.
BRYAN: 00:09:42 So was that Rumi quote scripted? Was that part of it or did that spontaneously come out and near the end?
TASHA: 00:09:48 I wish I was that smart or that quick. Yeah. Most, most TED talks that are done, I think at least by the bigger affiliates are scripted. So part of the challenge is to pretend like you’re thinking of all of those things for the first time and the same way that an actor pretends that those lines are spontaneously coming out.
BRYAN: 00:10:08 Right, you know one thing I really love about your most recent TED talk is how funny you are. You know, you are, you are very personable, you know. And I think that my experience is when, and I can speak for myself, for people that I coach; you know, when people are comfortable, they spontaneously humor does seem to arise, right? It’s like a natural expression of who we are. But the more perfection we strive for, the more rigid we are, the less, you know, humor typically that comes out or maybe there’s laughter, but at our expense, not because just an expression of who we are, you know? But I, I really liked that. So, job well done for what it’s worth. You’ve got thumbs up from this guy.
TASHA: 00:10:50 Thank you my friend. I really appreciate that.
BRYAN: 00:10:52 Your book, um, Insights, the Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves and Why the Answer’s Matter More Than We Think. Great title, title and subtitle. Speaking about the title, I’m curious, what was your working title for this book?
TASHA: 00:11:07 Oh Man. You know, it’s funny. We went through so many iterations. It’s hard to remember. I think, I think the working title was “Insight, How to Succeed In An Increasingly Self-deluded World”, which sounds very negative, but, um, you know, and that’s the truth. But I think what, what my focus is, is helping people succeed by working on their self-awareness and knowing that not everyone around them is doing the same. And that’s what gives them a unique edge.
BRYAN: 00:11:38 Who did you write this book for?
TASHA: 00:11:40 So I wrote this book for, my primary audience were leaders. So formal, um, you know managers, executives in any kind of organization. Whether it’s a nonprofit, a fortune 100 company, public agency where um, they want to accomplish more. So they, they don’t want to be in the same job they’re in forever. They want more responsibility or maybe they want to change careers and do something completely new. I think typically when we are striving for more, the skill of self-awareness is really one of the primary skills that allows us to make that happen. You know, I think if we just want to keep coasting and doing what we’re doing, self-awareness, you know, may or may not be that important. But what I want, what I wrote Insight for people who want to do more, people who want to do better, and also people who wanted to strengthen their relationship. So obviously that’s the case if you’re a leader, but you also have friends and family and a spouse and kids and the benefit of self-awareness is that once we improve that, it, it impacts all areas of our life. So primarily it’s kind of a work and professional development book. But what I hear frequently is that it’s helped people in all areas of their lives.
BRYAN: 00:13:02 Yeah, I read this book and I really liked it. I find that it’s very readable. You know, it’s like, it was enjoyable between the stories you told and some of the research that you included that just confirmed what I already knew, which is human beings are not rational creatures. Right. Or at least not, not all the time, or maybe not even often, but it’s, it’s fun.
TASHA: 00:13:24 Every once in a while.
BRYAN: 00:13:25 Yeah, every now and then the facts seem to suggest that maybe we are. One thing that I, that I really liked about this book I’d never thought of before was you talk about the difference between internal and external self-awareness and you know, I’d never distinguished that there were internal and external, but will you talk a little bit about what you mean by that?
TASHA: 00:13:46 Sure, our research team started this process about five years ago and just a little bit of context might be helpful. I had seen as an executive coach, so many clients of mine make these transformational improvements in their effectiveness and leadership ability by seeing themselves more clearly. And I started as a scientist to get interested in what do we empirically know to be true about this thing that we call self awareness. And the more I dug, the more I found these articles that were usually platitudes, you know, “get in touch with yourself, ask yourself the important questions, get feedback.” But the more I peel the layers back, I realized that we actually didn’t know as much as I would have expected we did about what is self awareness, why does it matter, how do you get more of it? Um, and so on. So our research team came together, you know, as I said, about five years ago to try to answer some of those questions. And the first question, which we thought would be pretty simple and straightforward, was what is self-awareness? And we were pretty shocked that it actually took us almost one year to just define what self-awareness really was. And we did that through a lot of things I won’t bore you all with, but we, we interviewed dozens of people who made improvements in their self-awareness very extensively. We surveyed thousands of people. We um, reviewed and summarized almost a thousand empirical journal articles and what we kept seeing over and over, were sort of these two buckets of self knowledge that were as we would learn, not related at all. So the first bucket we named “internal self-awareness”. And in a nutshell, what that is, is seeing yourself clearly. If I’m internally self-aware, I understand my values, my passions, what do I want to accomplish in life, what are my strengths and weaknesses? Um, you know, uh, my patterns across situations and that’s all internal, right? So the, it’s an understanding of ourselves. The second bucket we named “external self-awareness”. And in a nutshell what that is, is knowing how other people see us. Getting feedback, getting the right feedback, getting honest feedback, and having an appreciation of even if we don’t agree how we’re coming across to other people. And in our research what was so surprising, at least to me was just because a person is high on one doesn’t necessarily make them good at the other. So you could be low on both, which a lot of us are, you could be high on both, in which case you know you are somebody I was studying and trying to learn from you, but more often than not, people tend to be a little bit better at one than the other. So the internally self-aware people that maybe don’t get feedback, self examination is their hobby. They just love to ask themselves those questions, but they might not have an appreciation of how they’re coming across and therefore you know, their relationships could suffer or vice-versa. There are people who are so focused on how other people see them, that they’re not making choices in the spirit of their own best interest in happiness because they, they might not even know what that is. So I think that’s a, that’s just a really important discovery and it’s a great way to start diagnosing your own self-awareness and where you need to grow.
BRYAN: 00:17:02 That’s really, I think, a remarkable insight and gives, gives me at least a new way of thinking about, you know, how I can become more self-aware. Because as you mentioned in your talk and your TED Talk, you talk about thinking about ourselves isn’t, like it isn’t related to knowing ourselves, right? What do you mean by that? And did I get that right? Thinking about ourselves isn’t related to knowing ourselves.
TASHA: 00:17:30 You did. That was really our second most shocking discovery was um, we were running a study where we were looking at how much time people spent self reflecting; you know, is it minutes per day, hours per day, once a week, and so on. And then we were measuring kind of quality of life variables. So are you happy with your life and your job? Do you feel like you’ve got control over your life? Are you low and depression and stress and anxiety? And my hypothesis all along was, well of course the people who self-reflected would be better off. They would be happier, they’d be less stressed, less anxious. And I was shocked to find that the pattern was actually the opposite. And so we spent a couple of weeks thinking, well maybe self-awareness isn’t that helpful. Maybe, maybe looking at ourselves and analyzing ourselves is actually a nonadaptive skill or characteristic.
BRYAN: 00:18:23 And it was actually, it was, we kind of had this existential crisis of our, are we measuring self-awareness and therefore it’s bad or are we not measuring what self-awareness actually is, which is why we’re sort of missing the point. And what we discovered after, um, you know, a lot of other investigation was the good news is that introspection, self-reflection in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that the way most of us do it is completely wrong. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. You know, we a, every psychologist is trained in somehow to at least understand and appreciate the contributions that Freud had. And Freud is really the person that, that started and he said, we can look into our own consciousness. We can, if we just spend enough time and energy and, and lay on a therapist’s couch for long enough, we can uncover those unconscious motives. And why am I the way I am? Why do I think what I think? Why do I feel the way I feel? But as it turns out, modern science has actually shown us that it is physically impossible for us to access all of those unconscious thoughts, thought processes. So I think that’s a, that’s a piece of it is we just assumed that if we ask ourselves enough questions, we’ll get there. Um, another reason that introspection is, well, at least the way most people do it is incorrect; is that we ask the wrong question. So we, we ask a question like; why do I feel this way? Which, you know, that has a tendency, especially if it’s in a negative situation to take us down a spiral of self-criticism or defensiveness or self-loathing. Um, and, and so again, it’s not that we shouldn’t be asking ourself the question, it’s just that most of us ask the wrong question. Um, and then last but not least, we, we answered the question. So anytime I’m going to ask a self-reflective question, I’m going to find an answer. But what we know is as sure as we are, that that’s the right answer; it very often is not the right answer. So if it’s like this constellation of things we’re trying to access something we can’t access, we’re bumming ourselves out in the process and we have a false level of confidence about something we think is true that, that may be actually isn’t true. And so that gave, I think that should give us all pause. Anybody who you know for whom self-reflection is a hobby, the question isn’t necessarily how do I reflect less? The question probably a better one is how can I reflect in a smarter, more strategic way?
BRYAN: 00:20:59 That, I think is such a powerful insight and anybody who’s ever had children or been around young children for any period of time knows that “why” the question, “why” can be an endless regression, right? It’s just, well then why that and why that and why that and why that. And you know, I, I’ve actually started sharing this a little bit to groups that I talked to, um, that in my own life and I see exactly what you’re saying in this. It was like right on, in your TED talk. I was like, I’ve experienced that, the almost the futility of asking why sometimes, right? Because in my life I felt for many years I actually felt guilty for the privilege and opportunity that I have, you know, just being like, hey, I was born lucky kind of, you know, and so for a lot of years I felt that and my life changed when I stopped asking why, why me in a good way, why do I have so many resources? Why do I have so many opportunities? Why do I have so many blessings? And it was, even though it was about an empowering subject, I experienced it as a very disempowering question. And my life totally changed when I stopped asking why. And I started asking; what do I do with my resources? What do I do with my opportunities? Totally different experience. So like exactly what you’re saying.
TASHA: 00:22:16 That is so powerful. Yeah. I love that example. I think it’s such a great one.
BRYAN: 00:22:21 Yeah, and too, what you’re saying about the questions, you know, that we come up with these answers for. Like, and to be honest, this is something that Tony Robbins really helped me see, when he said, “when we ask a question, there is what we see or what our answer is, what we make it mean, and what we do about it”. And he talks about becoming more conscious of all of those steps in the process. And consciously like intentionally, choosing your focus, creating, empowering meaning, you know. And like for me, for three and a half decades, it was just an unconscious process. I was just observing reality and my interpretation was true, you know, so everything you’re saying resonates so much with my experience of life in the last five or six years. It’s really remarkable. So thank you.
TASHA: 00:23:05 Yeah. Thank you. I love hearing those examples because I think this topic is such a personal one for so many people and for the folks like you who are willing to confront that and who are willing to have honest conversations with themselves about some of these things. That’s where, that’s where you just start to see exponential growth in, in meaning in success and happiness. It’s, it’s powerful.
BRYAN: 00:23:31 Yeah. You know, as I read your book, one thing I was really interested to ask you is, and again, knowing you know, you, you’re a PhD, you’re very, you’ve, you’ve studied these things for many years and I, and I, I said this earlier, but I do love how much research you pull into this. Like it’s, it’s really fascinating and amusing actually in a lot of cases where like the thing about the pantyhose and people chose the one on the right, right? Because it was just better. Right? And it’s like even when they’re told it’s the same thing, they don’t believe it. But what I wanted to ask you as I read these, these results, and this is something that I feel like I kind of grapple with is if I look back at the history of humanity, you know, it seems that we’ve made as a, like as a species, we made some significant breakthrough is when we started being willing to acknowledge that we don’t know the answers to things. Right? And we, and we were willing to question and we were willing to basically invoke the scientific method and start looking at things in this really empirical kind of way. But as a scientist, which you are, right? I mean, do you consider yourself a scientist?
TASHA: 00:24:40 Oh heck yeah.
BRYAN: 00:24:42 Yeah, that’s, that’s what I thought and I get that there is at any given moment there is a kind of a scientific consensus on anything from climate change to human behavior or whatever. Right? Generally generally speaking, in at the same time as we look back, we know that the history of humanity seems to be the history of being wrong or learning more. So how do you balance, like when you say that we, we can’t, no matter how hard we try to excavate the contents of the unconscious, right? Which I happened to believe like I, I subscribed to that myself and at the same time there’s a little part of me going, well maybe we can. Maybe that is a limiting belief, right? I mean, how do you balance? So where this is all going; how do you as a scientist balance knowing that we might be wrong with like taking what the latest and the best research tells us about anything? I hope that question makes sense.
TASHA: 00:25:34 It does. It’s the same reason actually that at least in my field, in psychology, we can never say research proves. Research proves this, because the idea is you can have a hypothesis that you support, you know, and study after study after study supports that hypothesis. But it doesn’t mean at some point that the next study could refute that hypothesis.
BRYAN: 00:25:59 Right.
TASHA: 00:26:00 And to me that’s part of what I love about the scientific method is there, there is always more ground we can gain in terms of what we know. I think there is, there are a lot of flaws and a lot of weaknesses in the peer reviewed journal world, but it’s, it’s designed to ensure that we are continually asking those questions and not taking anything for granted. So it can be frustrating. You know, just an example, so when I was in graduate school, you know way more than probably like 15 years ago now. Um, all of the statistical analysis that we learned are no longer use today. Just think about that…
BRYAN: 00:26:41 Yeah, a decade and a half.
TASHA: 00:26:41 So I spent five years learning. Yeah. SPSS and a couple of structural equation modeling software and today nobody uses that. And not only do they not use those software packages, they have completely changed the way they analyze data. So for our research team, I had to get someone who was in a PhD program now who can answer all those questions. And so, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s sort of, it’s like a blessing and a curse. I think on one hand, for me personally, it’s been very frustrating, but it’s also really exciting to see how fast our field is advancing. And I’m sure that’s true in other disciplines. But I think in psychology we’ve just had these exponential leaps in even the last 10 years.
BRYAN: 00:27:23 I think you and I were together in a presentation that Rob Nail made, from Singularity University and he talked about, think about the pace of life today and recognize that this is as slow as it will ever go in our lifetime. Like it’s only accelerating, right?
TASHA: 00:27:39 But everyone nervously laughed. Yeah exactly, it’s crazy.
BRYAN: 00:27:42 Totally right. He’s totally right. It’s pretty remarkable. You talk in your book about enlisting loving critics to help us gain deeper insight into ourselves. Will you tell me what you mean by that, how we can do that.
TASHA: 00:27:59 When we first started to look at the behaviors of highly self-aware people, I had this expectation that we would talk to them and they would say two things. The first thing I thought they would say is, “oh my gosh, I love getting critical feedback. It is what just lights my fire. I get so excited every time I get the chance.” The second thing I thought they would say is, “I get feedback from everybody. Anyone that I come in contact with I’m going to ask them for their feedback.” And we actually found that neither of those things were true. So the first debunked myth was, you know, even the most highly self-aware of all successful people said things like, “are you kidding? I hate hearing I’m not perfect.” The second thing we heard was that they were actually surprisingly picky about who they listen to feedback from. If I just take a brief detour on that, I think probably everybody who’s listening to this has had an experience in their life at some point where somebody comes up to them and says, “excuse me, can I give you some feedback?” And you are, you would bet everything you own that that person is not in fact actually trying to help you. Right? I call it drive by feedback and it, it’s true that not all feedback is well intentioned. Not all feedback is helpful. So as we dug a little bit more into what these highly self-aware people did differently, we found that they really had about a handful. So five or less people that fit two criteria. So one is the self-aware person had to believe that they had their self-interest at heart. So I have to believe that somebody wants me to be successful without a doubt before I accept feedback from them. Right? The second is they also had to be confident that that person would tell them the truth. So I’m not going to go seek out critical feedback from people who either can’t or won’t be honest and direct with me, especially when I need them to be. So we put those two things together as a loving critic. And as I kinda go around the world and speak about this, it’s very, it’s very surprising and very common that most people say, “well, I have somebody that does one of those things, but I can’t really think of anyone in my life who has, who has both.” And that’s. So that’s the holy grail of feedback, is yes it’s about how we ask. Yes, it’s about, you know exactly what we say, but in a more fundamental and important level, it’s about who we are tapping to tell us this information. And so I think that’s great because it’s actionable if it’s really helped me solidify and identify a smaller group of trusted people that I can go to. You know, let’s say I get drive by feedback from someone. I might take that to my loving critic and say, “hey, this person said this to me today, does that resonate with you? Have you ever seen me doing that?” And then they almost become like your personal board of directors and they can help you sort through any surprising feedback that you get from anyone else. So it’s, it’s, it’s actually a really nuanced but really important, uh, approach.
BRYAN: 00:31:01 I think it’s really powerful. And I’ve heard people over the years talk about creating a kind of a personal board of directors or advisors or whatever they might call it. Um, will you tell me a little bit about how you’ve gone about that in your own life?
TASHA: 00:31:17 I think it’s, it’s definitely possible to get great feedback from people who don’t know you very well. But I think if you’re, if you’re building a relationship with a, you know, somebody who’s a mentor, for example, the value of their, of their feedback improves with every year that they know you. So for me, um, I kind of have, you know, everybody has different areas of their lives that they want to focus on, making good choices and being happy and whatever success looks like for them achieving that. And so what I’ve tried to do is, is along the way collect people that will help me in each of those areas. So you know one of the things that’s really important to me, obviously as a writer is becoming a better writer. And so over the years I have befriended, you know, maybe some of them out of pity initially, but I befriended a lot of amazing, brilliant, successful authors, both fiction and nonfiction; who are, um, who want me to be successful, who are giving me their time and their energy. Um, but who also are willing to tell me the truth. You know, I, I had, uh, one of my most important mentors recently. He said, “you know, you’re really at your best as a writer when you’re writing about research and the area that I think you need to improve are your stories.” And that was actually something that I heard before I started working on Insight. And so that was one of the goals I had as I was writing book two was, um, you know, obviously try to keep doing what I’m doing well, well, and not let that lag, but to focus a little bit more on the storytelling aspect and make sure that the stories have detail and I’m showing and not telling and I’m introducing obstacles to the protagonists and all this stuff we hear about storytelling. So, um, and that’s just one example, but I think in the writing world, I’ve got probably, um, probably five or so loving critics that I turned to. And the same is true for consulting. The same is true for speaking. You sort of think about it, that, that in and of itself as a clarifying exercise for all of us to say; what are my spheres of life, where I need to be getting feedback? Um, and, and it also helps you figure out who you might select. Does that answer your question?
BRYAN: 00:33:31 Yeah, it does. So thank you for that and I’m curious too, because I think probably every human being feels like, you know, they could use help at least sometimes. Right? And like you’re saying, it can be useful to differentiate or distinguish the different spheres of our lives. So for some of us, you know, it might be growing our business and others that might be being a better storyteller or whatever, being a better parent, whatever. So within that, as we look to people that we admire or respect or whatever and we reach out to them, um, one of the things that I wonder how it’s worked for you is as a practical matter, how do you stay in connection with these people and get, you know, that kind of feedback? Because it’s probably not like they all come over for dinner, you know, once a quarter or you have a structured lunch or something like that. How do you kind of stay connected with them and, and get and get this. And by the way, as I’m saying that, and then how do you, how do you add value back to them?
TASHA: 00:34:27 So if I stay on the writing angle, that’s easy, right? So if, if somebody is a writer, I will always say, if I can ever read any of your drafts, if I can ever endorse the book for you or you know. I’ve found that the community of, you know, nonfiction authors, mostly that I’m a part of are so, so, so generous and I think that’s just, um, it’s really gratifying actually to be a part of that community. But how do I stay in touch with folks? One area that I really try to take advantage of because I travel so much for my speaking and the work that I do is to say, “hey, I’m going to be in your city.” Um, I, I just took Chip Heath out to In and Out Burger when I was in, um, you know, the Palo Alto area. So I said, “hey, I’m going to be there. Do you want to have a burger?” And we had a burger and we talked about our new projects. And um, it does take a lot of presence of mind and commitment and that’s where I would go back to our previous conversation about loving critics, that we shouldn’t have 20 loving critics. There’s just no way to keep track of that many people. And so as laser focused as we can be, I think, the easier it becomes to stay in touch. And you know, I’m not a big, I’m a millennial, so I’m not a big like telephone user where I call people out of the blue, but I’ll text, I’ll email. And um, you know, just to keep that connection going and to tell that person, you know. Sometimes I spontaneously email them and say, I was thinking about how grateful I am for all of the help that you’ve provided me and I just wanted you to know that there’s somebody really grateful out there thanking you right now. This very moment.
BRYAN: 00:36:03 Well, thank you for sharing that with me.
TASHA: 00:36:05 Yeah.
BRYAN: 00:36:07 I want to turn our discussion now. I want to ask you those questions that I warned you about earlier. The ones that maybe you’ve never been asked before. Um, are you ready for a sort of lightning round?
TASHA: 00:36:20 Yup, bring it on.
BRYAN: 00:36:22 Okay. Using words other than a box of chocolates, please complete the following sentence. Life is like a…
TASHA: 00:36:30 Hurricane.
BRYAN: 00:36:32 What do you wish you were better at?
TASHA: 00:36:38 Everything.
BRYAN: 00:36:38 Here’s your t-shirt again. If you were required everyday for the rest of your life to wear a t-shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quote or equip, what would the shirt say?
TASHA: 00:36:49 Oh, here’s a quote, it’s Goethe. “Whatever you do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
BRYAN: 00:37:01 What book other than your own, have you gifted or recommended? Most often?
TASHA: 00:37:10 Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.
BRYAN: 00:37:13 Why that book?
TASHA: 00:37:17 That’s a good question. There are some books that come along that are able to simplify and make practical some of life’s most vexing challenges and I think they did that with how do you help humans who, as we discussed earlier, are irrational. How do you help them change for the better?
BRYAN: 00:37:36 Is there something in that book that’s helped you change something in your own life or something you’ve taken away that you use with your clients?
TASHA: 00:37:43 Um, there’s actually something I use literally every day from that book and they call it, The Five Minute Room Rescue. So you know, when you’re traveling and busy and you come home and your house is just a mess, you think, oh, I don’t have, I don’t have time to clean up this whole house. But actually just taking literally five minutes and putting a timer on your phone and spending five minutes cleaning up. And if you do that every day, you’ll make a huge impact. I think that’s, that’s, you know, that’s the first example that came to mind, but it literally is something that I do everyday that helps reduce some of the inevitable chaos that I live in.
BRYAN: 00:38:17 Yeah. The hurricane that life is.
TASHA: 00:38:18 Yeah, exactly.
BRYAN: 00:38:20 Do you make your bed everyday? Every morning?
TASHA: 00:38:23 I do. Not when I’m in a hotel because I don’t know why, but when I’m home, yes.
BRYAN: 00:38:28 Okay. Speaking of hotels and travel, so for your work as you’ve already discussed, you travel frequently. What’s one travel hack? Maybe something you do or something you take with you that makes you travel less painful or more enjoyable?
TASHA: 00:38:43 I have a white noise machine on my iphone that I put on whenever I am sleeping away from home and not only does it help me with like thin walls and noise in the hallway. It provides just something that is consistent and it actually, I think it helps me just relax and sleep better because I feel like even if I’m in an unfamiliar place, like I’m sleeping to a familiar sound.
BRYAN: 00:39:09 Hmm. What’s the, what’s the app? Do you know the name off hand?
TASHA: 00:39:13 Oh, you know what it’s embarrassing that I don’t. I think it’s… I actually think it’s called White Noise.
BRYAN: 00:39:19 Okay. I’m sure we could find something if we look on the app store.
TASHA: 00:39:22 Don’t quote me on that. Look it up.
BRYAN: 00:39:24 Okay. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
TASHA: 00:39:30 About four years ago I started to obsessively go to Orange Theory Fitness. Which is, I don’t know if it’s found its way to where you are, but it’s a interval based heart rate workout. And I was the kid who couldn’t run a mile. Literally had to get a note because I had asthma when I was little and now it brings me so much joy and I think it makes me such a more pleasant person to be around.
BRYAN: 00:39:57 Oh, that’s awesome. Orange Theory has made its way here to Salt Lake and…
TASHA: 00:40:00 Wonderful.
BRYAN: 00:40:01 I know you’re telling me the truth because you included Orange Theory in your acknowledgements.
TASHA: 00:40:06 I did, I did, that’s true.
BRYAN: 00:40:09 That’s like, wow. That’s awesome. Well good…good for good for you. And good for Orange Theory. That’s great…that’s great.
TASHA: 00:40:15 My husband calls it the cult. I am not their paid spokesperson. I just love them that much.
BRYAN: 00:40:22 What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
TASHA: 00:40:28 How to see other people with empathy and compassion no matter how upset we are with them.
BRYAN: 00:40:36 How can we do that?
TASHA: 00:40:38 Hmm. That’s a unfortunately I think that might be the topic of my third book. So I don’t yet know the answer. Um, yeah. I don’t know. I think especially in times like these, when we’re getting so tribal and you know, people who have been friends forever or married forever are turning on each other. It’s, I think it’s one of our most, if not the most pressing problem in our society.
BRYAN: 00:41:06 Definitely hearing this theme. It’s getting louder and louder I think. Okay. What advice did your parents give you that has made an impact on you, or stayed with you?
TASHA: 00:41:21 There’s so much, but one thing that comes to mind from my mom who was the very successful entrepreneur. She started the first school in the country that trained and certified nannies for, for kids. And she said, no matter what, no matter what happens, never ever, ever burn a bridge. And I, I think of that in those moments. You know, when you just have a horrible job and you want to quit. Like a resignation letter and put it on your boss’s desk and then walk away and never come back. Um, I..I think of those, that advice every time. I…I feel that I’m in a situation like that and it has served me well, um, dozens and dozens of times. Because even in that moment, no matter how much you want to stick it to the other person, um, everything comes back around. Never ever burn a bridge.
BRYAN: 00:42:12 Yeah. That is great advice. Um, I think about that same thing a lot. Somebody once said it to me this way, you might have heard, um, “never cut what can be untied.”
TASHA: 00:42:23 Oh, I love that. Wow.
BRYAN: 00:42:26 Yeah. That sounds like…
TASHA: 00:42:28 That’s profound.
BRYAN: 00:42:28 You’ve got a really wise, really wise parents or at least a wise mom. I don’t know anything about your dad yet.
TASHA: 00:42:36 He’s okay too.
BRYAN: 00:42:37 Um, either from his, the life he lived, the example that he is, or from something he said; what advice has stayed with you from your dad?
TASHA: 00:42:45 It’s, it’s, it’s not an easy one for me to answer. Um, but I, my dad modeled for me what it means to be at the top of your field. He’s a incredibly well regarded lawyer. And um, just to have that, that presence and that devotion to the profession that he chose has always been very inspiring for me.
BRYAN: 00:43:09 Oh, that’s great. I thought I saw something in a google search about you. Something related to being a third generation entrepreneur? Am I, am I accurate in that? Tell me about that.
TASHA: 00:43:19 Yep, that’s true. So my grandpa owned a plumbing company in Bay city, Michigan. Um, post war obviously. And then my mom, as I mentioned, started the nanny school that trained and certified nannies. And so I, I grew up with it, you know, literally in my blood and I talked about this all the time, but I would go to my, to work with my mom. Um, she was a single mother at that time. I was, you know, it was between the ages of maybe six and preteen basically. And I would see her running her company everyday and she would take me with her to meetings and I would, you know, play with all the office supplies and make copies of my hands. And um, I think it’s part of what made me so home in the business world. I literally got to grow up in it and I got to grow up seeing this incredible leader and person model the way for me. It’s, I was so lucky to have been able to do that.
BRYAN: 00:44:16 No, that’s great. Okay, so I want to do this at this point rather than leaving it to the very end of our conversation because I want to be sure I get to it. Two things, one is I want to let you know that as a show of gratitude for you, making time to talk with me and everyone who’s listening that I have made a lone, a micro loan to an entrepreneur in India on your behalf. So $100 loan to a woman named Rena who’s in Burdwan, India who will use this money to purchase vehicle repair tools, tires and tubes for the motorcycle repair shop she owns with her husband. So I just wanted to do that as a show of gratitude to you.
TASHA: 00:44:57 Thank you Bryan. That is the best show of gratitude I could ever imagine. Is she going to keep us updated?
BRYAN: 00:45:04 She will, you know. I’ll send you the link to this loan.
TASHA: 00:45:07 Okay
BRYAN: 00:45:07 The total loan is only $350. But um, I’ve been making loans through Kiva for, boy, almost 10 years now, and that’s one thing I love is that these entrepreneurs do give a report. And I love that it’s not charity, right? It’s to get the money. They repay it, they know what to do to improve their life and the life of people in their community. So, so she will. Yep.
TASHA: 00:45:28 That is so wonderful. Thank you for doing that.
BRYAN: 00:45:30 Yeah, my pleasure. The other thing I want to do at this point to make sure I do it is I want to ask if people want to learn more from you or if they want to connect with you, what should they do?
TASHA: 00:45:41 So let me give you two things. The first is if you’re just interested in the topic of self-awareness in general, and maybe you’re wondering how am I doing when it comes to my self awareness, we created a free quiz. We call it like a party trick. It’s not going to give you your end all be all assessment of self-awareness, but if they go to Insight-quiz.com. So Insight-quiz.com, there’s a free five minute self-awareness assessment. You fill out 14 items, which is a shorter version of our full measure, and then you actually send it to someone who knows you well and they fill out 14 items on your behalf. And then you get a nice little report that shows you where you are and gives you some suggestions. So, um, we do that with the only intention of making the world a more self-aware place and helping people who want to grow, grow. And then if they want to read more about me. Secondarily, I’m, I’m pretty much everywhere on social media. Tasha Eurich is my handle and if they want to learn more about Insight, they could go to Insight-book.com.
BRYAN: 00:46:45 Awesome. Thank you. Okay. So before we move to the questions I have for you about writing, I’ve got two more things that popped up. I really want to get your perspective about. One is about social media and how it has helped or hindered our ability to have insight about ourselves. What’s your, what’s your take on that? Where, who was it? Somebody said everybody’s always on vacation, you know, like everything’s so great. It’s like life is this constant highlight reel. But what’s your view on social media and its impact on our ability to be self-aware.
TASHA: 00:47:23 So social media is one of the global trend affecting all ages that is tempting us to be more self-absorbed and less self-aware. And when we were studying our highly self-aware people that didn’t start out that way. Um, our interview subjects I mentioned earlier. I was absolutely shocked when I discovered that they spend more time on social media than the average person. So we tried to like what is going on, how is that even possible?
BRYAN: 00:47:57 These are self-aware unicorns?
TASHA: 00:47:57 Self-aware unicorns spent more time online. So we thought, what the heck is going on here? You know, did I analyze my data wrong? No, you know, and what we discovered was actually they use social media more, but they also use it completely differently than most of us use it. So there’s a distinction that a researcher created that I think sums it up really well. There’s sort of two types of people on social media. There are the “meformers” whose sole purpose and existence on that platform is to notify everyone how smart, special and gifted they are or how great their vacation is. And there’s the second type, which is the “informer” who is posting content for other people. So I’m a beautiful photograph that would make someone feel calm or a funny cartoon that would make someone laugh or something, anything that is focused on the people that they are, um, that are following them versus themselves. And that was a really, really big personal insight for me. And as part of the research for this book, I did all the exercises that I put in there. So I learned some things. I did, I learned from one of my friends. She said, “I…I love you in real life, but I hate you on social media.” And I discovered that I was, not intentionally, but I was doing all of those things that we know are not good for you or for your relationships or your self-awareness. So it’s actually completely changed the way that I use social media. Um, if it were up to me personally, I probably wouldn’t have any social media accounts. But the one thing that it does allow me to do is connect with readers and you know, people who they tell me these great insights they’ve had about some of the work I’m doing or the way they’ve used tools. What I’ve started to try to do actually is use it as a forum to model self-awareness, discovery. So I was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and I was a Nob Hill, right? So this huge, ridiculous, like three blocks, straight up hills. And my cab driver was driving the up one on the way to the hotel and he said, “you know, no matter how in shape you are, ma’am, please promise me that you are not going to try to walk up these hills.” And I said, oh no, why would I do that? Of course not. Of course I won’t.” And then what did I do? I was leaving my hotel and I thought it can’t be that, it can’t be that steep. Like surely I could do it. And so I go down halfway through the first block, I’m huffing and puffing and leaning against a building. And so I actually posted a picture of the sidewalk incline and shared that story. And to me I think that feels better to me. It feels more honest. I, I definitely don’t have the balance right yet. And it’s hard, you know, as a business owner and when you sort of have to promote yourself. But that’s actually been surprisingly fun for me is, is, is shifting the way I’m using social media maybe even to poke fun at myself more than anything else.
BRYAN: 00:50:59 No, I was, I was reading your twitter feed today and I think you do a great job. And when I say that, what I mean is first of all the graphics look great. Your photos are professional and then the content, I mean you’re tweeting like at least twice a day it looks like. But it’s all content that is useful. If I want to learn more, I mean you’re sharing about what other people have written and other people have discovered. And I was like, this is, this is how I want to do it. This is great.
TASHA: 00:51:25 Thank you. Yeah, it’s all about the informer goal. Informer not meformer, that’s what I try to live it by.
BRYAN: 00:51:31 I love that. So unusual for millennial. Good for you.
TASHA: 00:51:35 I know, right?
BRYAN: 00:51:38 Okay. The other thing, the other thing I want, I want to be sure to ask you, going back to what you shared with your loving critic. Talking about being a better storyteller in your writing and that you took that to heart and you included some great personal stories and insight. And one of them was the story about when you went to the meditative retreat. Right? And I love how honestly you shared because I would have just thought, oh yeah, Tasha lives in Colorado, she’s close to the mountains, of course she meditates. You know, this kind of thing. Will you share just the, like a short version of that story with our listeners.
TASHA: 00:52:13 Sure. So as a, as a type A perfectionist, I have always had a love hate relationship with meditation. Um, I love it in that the scientific benefits are absolutely, sort of, unequivocally clear. Um, but to me growing up in Denver, being a city girl, there’s always a stereotype I had of, you know, usually they were people that lived in Boulder, Colorado. And you know, they went to these week long mindfulness meditation retreats and I just thought, oh my gosh, even the thought of that stresses me out. But for the research for Insight, what I kept stumbling upon, much to my chagrin, over and over and over was how important mindfulness is for self-awareness. It’s sort of, it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition. And so I thought it would be really funny is we’ve got this Shambhala Mountain Center just, you know, a couple of hours away. It’d be funny if I took my little sister who is a, um, you know, huge meditation devote. And we could just do a weekend’s introductory meditation course together. And you know it’s funny. So it starts with my car, my gas guzzling car driving into a parking lot of hybrids. Right. And I think, oh, this is not, these are not my people. I don’t know if I should be here. And then there’s people walking around who clearly, you know, this is not their first mindfulness meditation rodeo. And as the weekend went on, not only did my sister have lots of opportunities to laugh at me, but, um, I, I went through the process that I, that I sort of thought I would go through. Which is, oh, meditation is hard. But actually it’s kind of helpful. Oh, I don’t know if I could ever do this in real life, but maybe I could. And towards the end we actually went to the Stupa , which is, I think it’s called the Stupa Dharmakaya. This gorgeous, you know, you imagine pine trees everywhere. It’s an, a very, very kind of deserted area and the mountains and this huge stupa with all these colorful flags and weeds, snowing. There’s snow on the ground even though it’s May. And we hiked all the way up there. And I found myself really surprised to be thinking, oh gosh, I hope we get to meditate once we get there. And, and when I told my sister, she almost fell on the ground laughing and I said, oh, this is very strange. Maybe this is a new version of me and we went up there and I sort of, for the first time in the Stupa meditating on the last day. Got It. And I had all these big plans that, oh, of course I was going to turn, you know, half of my office into a meditation studio. And what I discovered was I wasn’t, it wasn’t quite right for me to go that far, but I have found myself every once in awhile while it’ll be like when I’m in a waiting room or something, I will take the time because I’m there anyway. It’s not like I’m doing anything. And um, it, it, it, I’m, I’m surprised that it’s been as helpful as it is, although I shouldn’t be because all the researches what the research is, right. That was just my little microcosm.
BRYAN: 00:55:18 I laughed. I really laughed when I read that story. And it’s like, yeah, all those hybrids. All those Subarus, you know.
TASHA: 00:55:27 They don’t want me here.
BRYAN: 00:55:29 When you talk about, um, having some benefit from your meditative practice and even when you just take advantage of a few minutes here or there, what, what have you seen in your own life? Like how has it helped you?
TASHA: 00:55:41 For me, I think it actually is about quieting my mind and being where I am rather than anywhere else. And you know, I think type A worry warts, you know, we worry about the past or we worry about the future. We think about all the things we have to do when we get home or why didn’t I do this yesterday? What’s wrong with me? And I think it’s, it’s helped me exist in, in the moment rather than putting pressure on myself that doesn’t need to be there. That’s something that Marshall Goldsmith teaches us, right? It’s this idea of, and you just let it go and that means everything.
BRYAN: 00:56:23 Yeah. You know, I asked Marshall one time what book he was reading. And rather than just answering the question, he said, “read Old Path White Clouds.” So I’m like, okay. So I read it and it’s the history of Buddhism, you know. It’s 600 pages on the history of Buddhism. So after…
TASHA: 00:56:41 Did you read it?
BRYAN: 00:56:42 I did I did, I read the whole thing. I actually didn’t know that we knew that much. That there are historical records that go back, obviously thousands of years. But so much is documented about the people, the places, the teachings, you know, this kind of thing. I actually thought it was pretty fascinating. It could be like a 400 episode. Tell a serious, you know, lot of drama in that. So…
TASHA: 00:57:05 Right. Well, what I’ve learned is if Marshall tells you to do something, you say yes Marshall, thank you Marshall. And you do it and you’re better for it.
BRYAN: 00:57:13 Yeah. He might not even know why, but there’s, there’s some benefit from for sure. Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay. So with, with our last part of this conversation, I want to turn our discussion now to the topic of writing. What is the best part. Was going to ask you what’s the worst part about writing? But I’m training myself to look for the good first, right? Because I know we’ll find out what we look for. We’ll find what we look for.
TASHA: 00:57:42 Right.
BRYAN: 00:57:43 So what, what’s your favorite thing about writing?
TASHA: 00:57:48 The satisfaction I get once I am going through my final draft and it’s not to say that I don’t have perfectionist tendencies. But to see something go from, you know, everyone’s first draft is awful and anyone who tells you differently, I’m not sure what I would think about them. But seeing it go from, you know, every single time I write my first draft and I say I am a horrible writer, this is the worst piece of writing that ever existed. And then I say no, trust the process. And then inevitably I get to something that I’m reading and saying I’m, I’m proud of this. You know, this is what I, what I wanted to say. And I think, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s the same every time and I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore, but that’s, that’s the moment I, I wait for every time.
BRYAN: 00:58:37 How many people do you run into that tell you they want to write a book or they’re writing a book? How common is that for you?
TASHA: 00:58:46 I get probably 20 or 30 emails a week about it. Um, a lot of times it will be a, you know, someone that I’ve met once and their sister’s cousin’s friend wants to write a book and could I give them advice? And, um, one of the things that I learned from our mutual friend Marshall is to pay it forward. And so as often as I possibly can, I try to spend even if it’s 15 minutes on the phone with people and realize that everyone’s goals are so different, you know, there’s really no best practices when it comes to writing. You’ve really got to figure out what do I want to accomplish and what path does that create for me. Um, but yeah, there are a lot of people who have a book in them.
BRYAN: 00:59:28 Yeah. I, I share this sometimes with my podcast guests, but I, I asked a publisher one time, is that true? Does everybody really has a book in them? And the publisher said, unfortunately.
TASHA: 00:59:42 And they get all the submissions right?
BRYAN: 00:59:44 For better or for worse. So and where I was going with that, because I hear that a lot too with people that I meet, people that I work with, you know, and, and I do think everyone has something valuable to share. Absolutely. Right? And whether it’s a book where it’s just, you know, in conversation or some other medium, you know, painting or music or something. I think we all have clearly we all have gifts and talents and it’s wonderful when we’re able to share them with others in a way that’s mutually beneficial. But what, like where I’m going with the question is, you know, in your mind what really sets you apart as someone who has been able to translate this intention of writing into a reality? And these 20 to 30 people a week who tell you, you know, that they’re going to or they want to.
TASHA: 01:00:28 I honestly have no idea. I wish I could give you a good answer for that. You know, I think part of it is just sheer determination. And, you know, one thing that I do see a lot is that the desire to write a book is not proportionate to the amount of commitment to spend time writing the book. And you know, that’s the one where it’s hard to help somebody else do that. You know, so, so if you’re serious about it, I think the question is how can I just be putting one foot in front of the other always every single day, making progress in what I’m doing. And if you, if you work your way back, you know, and in this case with Insight, which is a commercially published book with one of the best publishers out there, if that becomes your goal at the outset, I think it’s so overwhelming that I wouldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. So for me, if I think about maybe what allowed me to get there was just breaking it down into very, very, very small parts, you know. So um, one of the first steps I took was ask all my smart author friends, you know, what their advice would be for me. So I wrote a list of people to talk to and that was my action item, you know. And I would, I would try to plan a month or two out, but I think for me that is what helped me not get completely overwhelmed by it. And I think so many potential authors get stuck at that phase where it’s like, I don’t even, I want to do this, but I don’t even know what to do to get started.
BRYAN: 01:02:07 Yeah, I mean, what do you say to somebody who doesn’t have smart author friends? I mean they’re in that situation and they, they have the intention and they want, they would love to get the benefit of, you know, insight from people who have been down that road, but maybe they don’t. They’re not currently connected with people like that.
TASHA: 01:02:24 I mean I would challenge them and say, you know, when I was where you are, I didn’t have smart author friends either. And I, I, I made them. And I think, you know, going back to what I learned from my mom is it’s all about relationship building. And you know, you, you could send emails to 10 famous authors, nine of them might not write you back, but one of the might. And if you can make it really easy for them and you know, find some way to give back to them or at least, you know, what a minimum show your gratitude. That’s how stuff happens. You know, some of my best writing mentors started with a, you know, like a stalker email that’s like, I love your work. You’re the best. Would you ever talk to me? Um, so, so don’t underestimate the power of the cold email as long as you do it smartly and as long as you don’t have too high of expectations.
BRYAN: 01:03:15 Yeah. When you reached out to this list of people, because I’m hearing you say you, like you got as methodical or intentional is actually writing it down systematically, you know, reaching out to them, having conversations with people. What kind of advice did you hear? What did you learn that really helped you in your journey as a writer?
TASHA: 01:03:35 Yeah, I think if I had to sum it up, it would, it would be the point I made earlier, which is; every author has a different goal. And you know, you might have a goal of building a speaking practice or you might have a goal of becoming the next Tony Robbins. Or you might have a goal of using a book to further your consulting. Or maybe you have a goal that you want to hit a really, really specialized audience and help them be better. Each one of those examples could have a completely different right answer about the best way to proceed. So I think it’s funny when I talk to people who want to write books, I make them talk for the first 15 minutes of our 30 minute call and I say, you know, tell me more about what you want to accomplish. In a perfect world, if this book does everything you want it to for you, what would that look like? Um, and usually the first answer is, well, I want to change the world. It’s like, okay, so let’s assume you changed the world, but what do you want to do it for you? Um, what, how will this, how will this better your life and your family’s life? And um, and so I think that’s, that’s where people start and I think it’s easy to assume that, you know, there’s one right path and that’s really not the case. There’s commercial publishers, they’re self publishers, there’s hybrid publishers, and each of those is a right answer. It just depends on what your goal is. The second piece of advice that I have heard really frequently is know your audience. It’s really easy to say my book is for everyone, but that’s actually not what publishers want to hear. They want, they want you to say, you know, my ideal, my ideal reader is women between ages 18 and 35 who have a professional career who wants to grow themselves professionally. I just made that up. But, um, because having that focus is what allows you to differentiate and market the book. Um, and so for me, I always default back to Insight is for everyone or Bankable Leadership is for everyone. And I really have to force myself when I’m writing, I actually, I have a couple of characters that I invent that are my target audience and I sit there and I imagine almost as if I’m talking to them. Like, what would they say about this? Would they think this is helpful? So I think those are probably the two most common.
BRYAN: 01:05:54 Yeah, I do think that’s really, really good advice about know your audience, right? I mean for one thing as a writer, I think it makes it a lot more like doable. Helps you navigate, like you’re saying, am I, am I on point? Is this interesting or useful to my reader? For sure. How did you come up with the kind of that composite or that avatar, whatever you might call that character for yourself? How did you arrive at those?
TASHA: 01:06:21 I actually think those composites are amalgamations of people I know. You know, because I, I joke that I’m not a real writer. I write nonfiction. I don’t invent characters out of the air. I’m not quite that creative or quite that smart. Um, so for me that, that never felt like the right way to connect with them. But if I, you know, like if I think about the same struggles that leaders have. Whether it’s, you know, the example I always used as a female, Ugandan entrepreneur, in a hut in a dirt with a dirt floor or a fortune 10 CEO in New York City. What, what challenges do they share? And, and that was where I started to get some of those composites. I think about like, oh, this challenge is really common and then I would think of somebody I knew that, I would start to put things together. So for me, I’m, I’m all about tangible, practical, observable. Um, so that I think, I think that’s how I did it. It’s sort of hard to articulate, but that might be close.
BRYAN: 01:07:24 Tell me about how you think about and how you organize your time as a writer and and how that might change when you’re in a book project versus all the time. Like in fact, let me just start with an earlier question, which is do you write every day?
TASHA: 01:07:42 It depends on what I’m working on. For Insight I, I, my publisher did not do this I did this to myself. But I had a pretty aggressive deadline so, um, for the summer of, I guess it was 2016. Yeah, 2016. I wrote for about eight hours a day, every day and it was excruciating. There’s, there’s nothing positive I can say about it except that I did it and it was done. And that’s not my preference. What I typically like to do, I’m like, if I’m doing more short form stuff. If I’m writing an article for Harvard Business Review, is I give myself a week to just think about it and create space in my mind. I’ll usually email myself ideas. Like if I’m, you know, sitting on the train on the way to the airport and I get an idea, I’ll just send myself an email with the idea and the subject line. And then I start compiling it and I start putting things together and then I literally put it away. And then when I’m writing I do try to work every, every day if I have a deadline or something. But it’s usually shorter spurts. So I’ll write one article and a couple of weeks and then I’ll take a little bit of time off. I’m definitely not one of those like super prolific authors that can just write all day every day. It takes a lot out of me and I’ve, I’ve learned to just live with that and not try to change it.
BRYAN: 01:09:03 Yeah. I have a, I have a friend who talked about, he’s now probably in his sixties and I called him early on. At the time he was the only New York Times bestselling author I knew. And he talked to me about writing, requiring stamina and how he’s lost some of that stamina as he’s gotten older. And I’d never thought about it taking stamina, but when I, now that I have more experience writing and as I hear you talk about your eight hour marathons, it’s like. Tell me what that was like for you and how you, how you maintained or found the stamina to even do that.
TASHA: 01:09:37 I’m thinking about if my husband was sitting here, what he would say about living with me during that time. Probably wouldn’t be anything particularly positive. He was awesome. So I think the first piece of that is having a support system. Um, not that you can whine, you know, endlessly to, but who can say things like, you know, can I go get the groceries this week? Okay, yes. You know, getting that in place. So I think that’s probably the way that I was able to get through it practically. And then for me, what I found is varying the environment I was in helped. So if I was gonna write for eight hours, I had a rotation of, you know, five or six coffee shops and you know, a couple of restaurants. So I would write for the morning in a coffee shop. I would move somewhere for lunch. I would move somewhere else in a coffee shop in the afternoon and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on coffee and lunch. But I learned that if I sat somewhere too long, I ceased to be productive and I don’t really know why that is. And going back to our conversation earlier, it kind of doesn’t matter. Um, that was sort of what I discovered. I also discovered that um, making excuses was not helpful. You know, so I’d wake up and say, I don’t really know if I have it in me today. You know, and that couple times I’d say, well why don’t I just do it, just try it for an hour and see if it works. And I would, I would always be able to push through it. So I learned that, you know, in my mind there’s really no such thing as writer’s block. Writer’s block is, “Oh, I’m scared”, or” I don’t have it in me”. Because you can always sit down and write. It’s going to be, it might be horrible, but it offers drafts are horrible. So that was the other thing that I learned is just suck it up as Marshall would say, suck it up and sit down and start writing and something awesome is going to happen if you’re a little patient. So I think those are maybe two of the things.
BRYAN: 01:11:30 Yeah, I think. I think that’s such a great perspective to choose to believe, you know that writer’s block, it’s not a real thing. If you sit down and something will happen. Right. Like some something, something will happen. So tell me about how you conceived this book. Insight, like how you thought about it as a project, how you outlined it, how you organized the material and then how you wrote within that. Like did you have, when you were doing those, eight hours a day, did you have page counts or word counts or any other targets that you did? But from the kind of the macro of the architecture through the process, how did you think of the book?
TASHA: 01:12:09 So the first step of the process for me was writing a two to three page overview of the project so that I could find the right literary agent. So for my first book I didn’t have one. It was a kind of commercial, um, hybrid, commercial self-publishing hybrid basically. So I did it all myself. So for me it actually really helped to start at the very, very big picture level, 50,000 feet. What is this book in two to three pages. And that in some ways was the hardest part because it was putting the guard rails around the project, you know, is this a book about this or is this a book about this? And then once I went through that lovely process and actually ended up getting the best agent ever, then it was time to write the proposal. So then proposal was a little bit more detail. And then once the book was bought it was time to outline the whole thing. And I loved that because it, in same way that setting small goals kind of helped me get the book done. Setting just slightly widening the focus every time was what, you know, made it sort of tolerable or palatable. Where I could say, okay, well I’ve, I’ve, I’ve already got the proposal. I just need to flesh out but some of these chapters look like. And so for me that provided a good a blueprint. And then when I was working with my editor there were a couple of changes we made to the structure of the book. And actually I was surprised at how stressful that was for me because I had been thinking about it one way for, you know, several rounds of what had come before. But she’s such a fabulous editor and I was really lucky with everybody that I worked with. So once I was able to make those changes, then it was just a matter of literally, like you said, sitting down and saying, “today I will not go to sleep until I have a rough draft of chapter eight”. It might be the worst rough draft of all time, but I’m going to have it by the time my head hits the pillow and, and, and again, I think it’s, it’s biting off a piece of it. So I couldn’t work on multiple chapters at a time. It was just too I don’t know, cognitively taxing for me. So eye on the price was the name of the game. Today, what is the chapter, what is the word count I need to have for this chapter, and then I’ll figure out the rest later.
BRYAN: 01:14:28 So those changes that your editor recommended later in the process. These are structural changes to the way you had thought of it. Right? What? Tell us a little bit about what, what that was like and how well those changes worked.
TASHA: 01:14:41 There were a couple of chapters that every time I would sit down to outline them, I wouldn’t really have anything to say. And I kept thinking, well, maybe, maybe something will come to me for this. And you know, she’d come back and say, “you know, this part of the outline is feeling a little flimsy to me. Why don’t we collapse it with this chapter.” Oh my gosh, that’s a great idea. So, so it really was sort of taking what was already there and, and putting it in different combinations. And that’s where, you know, for anybody who’s listening to this who is working on a book or wants to work on a book, no matter what route you go, if you can have an editor, whether that’s somebody that you hire, whether it’s you’re very smart, very generous spouse, it’s just so hard to see the forest for the trees. And I think that’s where somebody like that can really come in handy.
BRYAN: 01:15:32 How did you find your editor?
TASHA: 01:15:34 Uh, she was nice enough and smart enough to buy my book. So the way it works at the commercial publishers, is you sort of say, “all right, the book is for sale, anyone who wants to can bid on it.” Um, and we did have a couple of publishers interested and we ended up going with the one that I had always wanted to publish with, with Crown Publishing. So it was, I to this day, pretty much every day. I feel so lucky to have been able to have that opportunity.
BRYAN: 01:16:04 That’s great. Why did you want to go with Crown? Why did that matter to you so much?
Speaker 3: 01:16:08 You know, I think sometimes it’s just an intuitive sense that we have. It’s like when you were applying to colleges and you just kind of know like, oh, this one’s really for me. It was also a lot of my friends had, had, had great experiences publishing there and they have a reputation for not doing too many books. You know, there are a lot of publishers that just have so much on their slate that they can’t pay attention to their authors. Um, and you know, Crown, in that case, did a couple of books a year basically. So, um, just had so much attention and support from the whole team there. It was really amazing.
BRYAN: 01:16:46 That’s awesome. And it sounds like your agent was able to help make that connection.
TASHA: 01:16:52 Yes. Correct. So, and, and this is another thing that nobody really tells you that maybe I can save people some time. So if you want a large commercial publisher, any of the big names, it’s, it’s, I’m not going to say it’s impossible. Because if you know somebody, maybe that can help you. But it’s very, very rare, um, for, for them to buy books where the author is not represented by an agent and New York especially. It’s a very small community. The publishing world is really, you know, everybody knows everyone. And so if somebody wants to go that route, that could be a very helpful approach. Is to not even think about the publisher. But if you want to go down that road to say, okay, I need to get the best agent I can possibly get the will represent me. And then that kind of opens the doors for other things in the future.
BRYAN: 01:17:41 Yeah. And I imagine it probably helped you that you had a great book already when you approached your agent. Then you had that two to three page document you discussed. But how, how did you, how did you find your agent?
TASHA: 01:17:55 So that was, um, asking for introductions. I know a lot of authors actually that have sent. If you can get a name, you know, at an agency if you can get a name and send them, you know, whether it’s your proposal, whether it’s a book overview, that’s definitely not unheard of. So I don’t think there’s any right way or wrong way to do it. But for me, I made the request to some of my mentors who are authors and said, you know, would you be willing to introduce me to your agent? And it’s a, it’s a tricky question because you know, you sort of think about the life of a fabulous successful author like they are. I’m sure, you know, they get 20 to 30 people a week asking something similar from them, from them as well. So for me it’s about building relationships and not making a request that isn’t accommodated by the strength of that relationship. Right. So there are some authors that I knew just peripherally. I didn’t want to put them in that position where they would be uncomfortable. I asked the people that I knew would be comfortable saying no. And knew that I wouldn’t hold it against them so that, that actually is a really tricky part of it. Because you want to leverage your connections, but you also want to keep the bigger picture in mind. Um, and I, you know, I’ve, I’ve had a couple situations where for whatever reason it doesn’t make sense for me to make that introduction. You know, sometimes it can make things a little awkward. So I would encourage people to use your network, but be really honest with yourself about whether it’s a fair request that you’re making of that person. Does this all might be too honest, but I feel like um, I feel like I’ve discovered that as this process has gone through.
BRYAN: 01:19:41 Yeah, that’s, you know, we have a saying in our family, actually; “I don’t mind if you ask as long as you don’t mind if the answer is no”, right.
TASHA: 01:19:52 Right, exactly. Exactly.
BRYAN: 01:19:53 Or it’s or that the answer might be no, that’s what we say. And don’t mind if you ask as long as you’re okay that the answer might be no. So…
TASHA: 01:20:00 No guilt, no expectations. Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:20:02 Yeah. I, I like the way you’re saying that though, just being aware. Again, that you know, look, this might not be reasonable. Um, okay. A couple, a couple of last questions before we wrap up here. One is, what was the soundtrack? Did you listen to music? If so, did you use your white noise machine? What was the soundtrack for writing Insight?
TASHA: 01:20:24 So I had two albums that I circled through continuously. One of them was the Scissor Sisters. It was their most recent album at the time. I can’t remember the name of it. And then the other one was the Hamilton soundtrack. And I literally would go back and forth and it’s so weird because I think any writer who’s listening to this can probably relate. There’s certain music that makes you write better and even if you’ve heard it 10 times that week, it’s still going to make you write better. And um, as I got further through the process, I expanded my music background choices a little bit. But, um, that’s another thing is, is if you can give yourself a five percent edge by finding something that makes it easier to write. Two or a five percent edge because you’re in a new place that you know, helps you focus, those things really add up. They’re not insignificant.
BRYAN: 01:21:15 Yeah, I agree. And you know what you’re saying doesn’t surprise me at all having read the book. I’m like, okay, I can, I can see that.
TASHA: 01:21:24 A little Hamilton thrown in there. Yeah…
BRYAN: 01:21:25 I can see that. I can see that. What, um, what routines or rituals did you have for yourself? I know some people like to wear the same robe. You probably didn’t take that out to the restaurants and things like that or lighting a candle or saying a prayer, like whatever. Was there anything that you found like maybe when you would sit down or at any point in your writing that was like a ritual or a habit for you?
TASHA: 01:21:48 I’m just going to joke; do bagels count? Can bagels be a ritual?
BRYAN: 01:21:54 Bagels can be habit forming.
TASHA: 01:21:55 They are. Oh they’re so bad, but I actually found that when I ate carbs that would give me a little bit of an edge. Like straight carbs, even though that’s not usually part of my diet. I don’t think I have a lot of rituals. I think for me, my motto is sit down, suck it up, start writing, you know, set a goal. So sometimes they’d say, I’m going to suck it up and write for 60 minutes and I’m gonna, put it on my phone and then stop and take a break. So I think for me there’s no, there’s no real magic to it besides just sitting down and deciding to do it.
BRYAN: 01:22:28 Well then wasn’t it in your book somewhere, maybe in your acknowledgements, Author Bipolar Disorder that you talk about?
TASHA: 01:22:35 This is a very serious condition that my husband, who is not a doctor, diagnosed me with throughout the course of writing the book. It’s ABD, which stands for Author Bipolar Disorder, and apparently what it was like to live with me during, especially during Insight. Because that was just a whirlwind, was um, I would alternate between these, like euphoric highs where I get, “oh my gosh, I’m so excited to share this with the world it’s going to change the world. Oprah is going to like it. Everything’s going to be great.” And then the next day I would say, “this is the worst book that’s ever been written. I should be ashamed of myself. I’m never going to submit it to the publisher.” And, and you know, literally sometimes he said it the same day. So that’s just, goes back to the support system. Um, try to be nice to them. Even even when you’re going through that, it’s, um, it’s, it’s the most important thing in the world to have people who support you during that experience.
BRYAN: 01:23:25 Yeah. It’s a very human and humbling experience I think, right.
TASHA: 01:23:29 So. Oh, so humbling. I can’t even begin.
BRYAN: 01:23:34 What are the qualities of a great sentence?
TASHA: 01:23:39 Simplicity and only the number of words you need to make the point. And that’s something I struggle with, but aspire to.
BRYAN: 01:23:55 I think you’d do a great job by the way.
TASHA: 01:23:57 Thank you. Well, I have a great editor.
BRYAN: 01:24:00 Yeah. Like I said, it is. Some books are readable and it’s a combination of things from the font and the layout to the, of course the writing itself. But I really, I know I’ve said this already, I really enjoyed your book. Um, okay. So if you had it to do again with this, with this book Insight, what would you do differently and what would you do the same?
TASHA: 01:24:21 What I would do differently is pair it down even more. So if anybody is listening to this is read the hardcover book, there were about, there was about 50 percent more in the initial first draft. Then ended up being in the hardcover. And then we actually cut maybe about 10 percent between the hardcover and the softcover. And brevity is truly the soul of wit. So I think as, as concise as any of us can be, the better our points will land. So I think that’s one thing. Um, I would have spent less time writing op-eds during the launch of the book to try to, you know, New York Times op-ed or Wall Street Journal op-ed. Um, and spent more time actually just trying to pound the pavement and sell books. Um, what I would do the same? I would not change a single person that was part of this project. From my agent and my editor to my publisher, to the marketing folks and the PR folks and everybody on my team. Um, you know, the, the trite phrase is it takes the village is so, so true. And I feel like, um, you know, you’ve got to use your resources and appreciate everybody who’s a part of that. And then I think maybe one thing I’d do differently, just to end it, is to appreciate the process more and not wake up and say, oh, I have to write 5,000 words and say, today I get to write 5,000 words. I get to be a published author and really trying to be so grateful everyday for that opportunity.
BRYAN: 01:26:06 Yeah. It really has a gift, isn’t it?
TASHA: 01:26:09 It’s incredible.
BRYAN: 01:26:10 Okay. And I am curious to know what technology helped you get this book done. And specifically, was there any software that you really liked? Like, did you capture your thoughts in Evernote or Onenote or Trello or you know, anything like that? Did you use Word? How did you, how did you work with technology to get all of your thoughts and your stories and your research organized and turned into readable content?
TASHA: 01:26:37 This is such a funny answer as a millennial. So, um, I used a system of piles of articles, in different piles with different labels on them to keep track of everything. I’m very, I’m very much a luddite, I think in that way. Um, and I have to print everything out. So I can’t say how many trees I killed, but what I do is I use, so I use the piles and then the piles would inform the word document. And the one thing that I do use a lot that um, I don’t know if other, it took me awhile to think of this. I’ll just put it that way, is there’s a function in Word where you can have the program actually read you what you’ve written. And not only is it a good way to spot typos, it’s just a good way to hear it. another way. Like if it’s, if it’s a chapter I’ve been working on for several days, then you cease to be objective. But as soon as you can hear it another way, I feel like that really helped me tighten things up. So that was, um, and I actually use that for everything I write. I don’t write an article, I don’t write a blog post, I don’t write anything without hearing it before I submit it.
BRYAN: 01:27:45 That doesn’t surprise me because there is, I mean it is fascinating to me how there is very much a difference in the way we use the written word and the spoken word. And if the written word doesn’t read well, even if we don’t read it aloud, right, it’s, it can be difficult to comprehend. So I can totally see that this is. And that’s why I say I think it’s very readable. I think it shows because you listened to it yourself. I didn’t know where it could do that. I’ve used word for many years.
TASHA: 01:28:12 Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:28:12 I’m constantly amazed at what Microsoft has put in the software. You know…
TASHA: 01:28:16 It’s so great. I really think that’s been, it’s been a game changer for me. So I bequeath that to your listeners.
BRYAN: 01:28:22 Well, thank you. That’s fantastic. Okay. Final question is; what advice or encouragement will you leave our listeners with about, you know, getting maybe their first book done? Like, just getting the dang thing done or getting started. Maybe directing you now, because I know competence can be a part of it. Even though we might want it, but we don’t really believe it, that kind of thing. But what would you say to somebody who’s working to get their book done?
TASHA: 01:28:52 I would say work hard and don’t overthink it.
BRYAN: 01:28:59 That could be your t-shirt right there. That’s beautiful.
TASHA: 01:29:03 I should live my entire life by that motto. I have a ways to go, but yeah, work hard and don’t overthink it.
BRYAN: 01:29:09 I love it. I do love the Goethe quote too. So maybe there’s, maybe you get to wear two t-shirts. You get to alternate.
TASHA: 01:29:16 One on the front one on the back.
BRYAN: 01:29:18 Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Well I have enjoyed this so much. I really appreciate that you made the time to come on and share your experience and your insight, so thank you.
TASHA: 01:29:31 Thank you so much for having me, Brian. This is a joy, a joy, and a pleasure and an honor, so thank you.
BRYAN: 01:29:36 All right and to everybody listening, thank you for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I hope you get yourself a copy of Tasha’s new book Insight, and I hope you make the difference that you were born to make. Thanks for listening. Until next time.
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