Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should and What to Do About It


Clint Murphy Laura Gassner Otting


Laura Gassner Otting, Clint Murphy


Clint Murphy  00:00

Good morning, Laura. Welcome to the podcast where I’d love to start is if you could give our listeners a brief bio about yourself in the event that they don’t know you yet.


Laura Gassner Otting  00:10

Oh, well, my name is Laura Gassner Otting. I am the author of three books, the most recent of which is the brand new Wall Street Journal bestseller Wonderhell, and I’m really excited to be here today.


Clint Murphy  00:22

Well, let’s dive right into that word wonder hell itself, which is driven off of two sides of a coin, that people don’t often associate together. One is success. The other is the hell that comes with success often, because it opens up so many doors and causes other challenges. Can you give a high level of why wonderhell, and then we’ll dive into some of the components of it.


Laura Gassner Otting  00:53

Yes, we often talk about the idea of stress when things go wrong, right? When you’re worried about where the next paycheck is going to come from, you’re worried about making payroll, you just, you’ve got too much on your plate, you’re feeling burnout, we, we often talk about that. But we don’t often talk about the stress that comes from when things are going well, when you sort of get everything you want it and then you’re like, Oh, no, now what? Right? So wonderhell is that space in between who you were yesterday and who through this success, whether it is a huge thing you just sold your first business, or maybe a small thing, you just sold your first tube of lipstick, right? There’s this moment where you see this potential, this burden of who you can be in between who you were yesterday, and who now you’ve just realized you can become tomorrow. And the hell part of it is how the burden of this potential sits on your shoulders and is like, hey, Clint, what you got for me? Are you going to live into this newfound potential that you didn’t even know you had? Last week? Last month last year? Are you going to let it pass you by? And what I realized when I found myself in wonder hell is that in this moment, you feel that hell just as exquisitely as your ego suddenly says, Yes, I do want that, I do want more, I do believe there’s part of me that can have and be more. So yes, it’s wonderful. And it’s hell, it’s wonder hell.


Clint Murphy  02:18

And the interesting part is, if we choose not to continue to grow, continue to take on that next challenge, it creates its own form of hell. And what you write is accepting your most recent success as a finite destination would mean there is also a finite limit to your growth. And all this does is steal the wonder and leave you in only the hell. And so a quick digression on that before I hand it over to you to expand on that for our audience is, that’s the whole reason I have this podcast. I’m creating on social media is I was at a point in my career where I was told, hey, the bus stops here. There’s no more room for growth in the business. And that’s okay. But I don’t want that to mean, there’s no more growth in your life, Clint. So I thought, Well, why don’t I do something on my own, that allows me to continue to grow and expand my entire world and see what’s out there for down the road? And then I won’t be stuck in that hell that you’ve talked about, if we just stop where we are?


Laura Gassner Otting  03:40

Yeah, you know, so all too often, we let other people’s lack of imagination, stop our ambition. And I, you know, I have found so many times during my career, that there are people in our lives, whether they are parents, whether they are friends, whether they are bosses, whether they are colleagues, whether they are even mentors, who suddenly say to you like, Who do you think you are, to have these dreams, to want to grow to charge what you charge to think that you belong, where you think you belong? And it’s not because we’re not capable. It’s because they simply can’t imagine that for themselves, let alone for us. And we let other people’s lack of imagination stop our ambition. And it is, I think, a great tragedy, like, just think about how many people you’ve helped through this podcast thing about how you’ve helped yourself through this podcast. And if you’d listened to that person who said the bus stops here, that wouldn’t have happened. And so I spent 20 years in executive search, it was my job to call the most successful people on the planet and recruit them away to work on behalf of my clients. And that sounds like kind of a hard job, except for the fact that despite all the success, which is why I was calling them, they weren’t very happy, which is why they were calling me back and during these 20 years of executive search what I came to learn I was that even people who are internal candidates who apply for jobs but don’t get the jobs end up leaving, because the very process of interviewing for that bigger job means that they have to wear the clothes of that role, speak in the voice of that role, think in the mindset of that role. And once they place themselves in their brain in that role, they can’t unplaced themselves there, they can’t unsee themselves there. So we have these moments in our lives, where we imagine what else we could be. And just because other people around us can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real. And the last thing that I’ll say, is this, the thing about wonder, which is amazing to me a book, wonderhell, this journey that I’m on of wonderhell that’s amazing to me, is that every time I talk to somebody about it, every time I tell somebody about the idea, every time somebody reads the book, they hear me on stage, they come up to me afterwards, and they’re like, Oh, my God, I’m in wonder hell, too. And it’s like, yes, here’s the conceit of the book, we all are in wonderhell, every single one of us, it is very hard to have evolved over millions of years to get to a place where we’re not constantly thinking and growing and evolving, and changing and iterating and innovating, that’s basically DNA. So we are people who are constantly thinking about what’s next. And I don’t say this into like, bigger, better, faster, more, you gotta keep crushing it man. Like, I don’t say it like that. What I say is that, how cool is it that at this age, and at this stage, wherever you are in your own journey, you can look inside of yourself and see that there is another layer, another gear, if you want to take it. We are all constantly growing and evolving.


Clint Murphy  06:41

And one of the things that I really want to zone in on you talked about there is when you talked about when we have the vision and we’re dreaming big in we believe we know what’s possible in our world. So many people who are close to us don’t share that vision. Don’t want to go further along for the ride. Do you just keep building in silence and not waste the energy and time trying to convince them? Because the results will eventually convince them and you just go it alone until they come along for the ride?


Laura Gassner Otting  07:13

I think it depends on the people. I mean, the the short answer is yes. Right? The shorter answer is yes. The pithy answer is we have to stop giving votes in our lives to people who didn’t even have voices, right. The problem is that along the way, there are people who we have given votes to or people who have just had votes. Again, parents often are fall in this category. And I love my parents, my parents are wonderful people, they’re incredibly supportive. But the last time I lived in the same house, as my parents, I was 17 years old, I didn’t have a fully formed frontal lobe, I barely had a frontal lobe. So I would return the car late for curfew, empty of gas, but you know, with the volume of the radio, you know, super high up, they would get in the car on Monday morning. And it would be like be blared out and couldn’t even get to work on time. And they’d be like, Oh, Laura, she can’t get anything done. Right. So when I tell them, I’m dropping out of law school to join a presidential campaign, when I tell them, I’m leaving the White House, nobody does that to like, go become an executive recruiter, I tell them, I’m leaving that mark, executive recruiting firm, to go start my own company. When I tell them, I’m selling that company. And maybe I’ll become a professional speaker and write books. They think I’m crazy. Because the person who they know who they really, really know is that 17 year old girl who’s still returning the car late for curfew, you know, I’m 52. Now they’ve watched me, they’ve watched me succeed and a lot of things. They’ve also watched me fail on a lot of things, but they see me pick myself up and be able to make it through. And yet, they’re still so worried that I’m going to get hurt because the last time they knew me, I was 17. So there are people in our lives who give we give votes to because they’ve always had votes, and we really should stop giving them voices, we should stop asking people for their opinion, we should stop asking people for their permission, we should stop asking people for their blessing. When really, we don’t need it to move forward. I don’t need my parents permission, their their blessing, I don’t need that to move forward in my life right now. It’s not like I’m relying them, you know, on them for my allowance anymore. But yet we do it because we have been trained to want that. So they’re your family, then there are the people who are kind of, you know, jealous, the ones that they see your rise and all they can see it through the lens of their own stagnation. So, you know, we run into them at the coffee shop and they’re like, oh, good for you, you know, and you can tell they’re not full throated excited and if they’re your peers in what you’re doing, even if you’re not working with them, but they’re a fellow entrepreneur or in my case, a fellow speaker and author and they’re like, yeah, good for you. That’s That’s That’s great. You feel their hesitation. And so when things start to go wrong, you’re like, well, they’re on the same journey. Maybe they know better. I’m not so sure. And then they’re my my favorite. They’re the ones who were Just playing scared, are the ones who they cannot imagine doing it themselves. And when you see them, they say, Oh, are you sure you should do that? I’m not sure. I’m not sure you should do that. That’s too scary. What they really mean is, I’m not sure I should do that. I’m too scared. But then the minute something goes wrong, the minute it gets hard, the minute we get rejected, we’re like, oh, maybe this was too scary. Maybe they were right. We even if in the moment, we don’t onboard their hesitation, or their fear, or their uncertainty or their doubt, it still sits in the back of our head, like these little cancerous time bombs waiting to just explode. And then as soon as they explode, they take over, and then we’re filled with anxiety and uncertainty and doubt, and all of their crap becomes all of our crap. So what I like to do, is I like to have a very, very, like, tiny, tiny group of people around me who I ask not for their opinion. But I asked for, like, if you were thinking about this, what kinds of questions would you ask? I don’t ask if they think I should do it. I ask what would their concerns be? What would their fears be? How big would they dream about this? What do they think could be possible? And when I get that information that I who know myself better than anybody else can make that decision. The other thing I do is I do make sure that I put the biggest ass kicker I know in my sidecar. And I make sure that they know just how big I’m dreaming. They believe in me, they see me sometimes they see me before I even see myself, right. They’re the ones who are like, maybe should dream a little bigger. Those are the people who you should be asking for their opinion. But everyone else, you know, their opinion doesn’t matter. Their blessing doesn’t matter. Sometimes we just asked mostly because we want our ego to feel good that we’re on the right track. We want to impress people who really don’t matter.


Clint Murphy  11:50

And all of that plays into the first stop, we’re going to take on wonder hell, we have three we have imposterville, doubtsville, and then we’ll get to burnout city, we’re going to start with impostorville. And so, for our listeners who don’t know about impostor syndrome, can you clue them in at a high level what we’re talking about here, impostor syndrome, inner critic, and then we’ll dive into a couple of the ways that we can overcome it the rest they can, they can get the book and dive into those other areas. But we’ll, we’ll tackle a couple together. And then we’ll get over the doubts that we have to overcome next.


Laura Gassner Otting  12:31

Yeah, so wonder hell is built around an amusement park and like an amusement park, you’ve got like small world and adventureville. And so this is, you know, imposter town, doubtsville and burnout city. If you are thinking to yourself, I’ve done this thing. I’m in this place that I didn’t think I get to yet. Somebody’s going to find out I don’t belong here. I’m so worried that I’m going to fail. People are going to see me and they’re going to say, oh, yeah, that’s right. They didn’t really belong here. That last success was as high as they were going to go. Welcome to imposter town because 70% of us have impostor syndrome, by the way, of the 30% of people who don’t, many of them have this thing called Dunning Kruger, which is a idea that was built by these two scientists named Dunning and Kruger who realized that the very people who don’t have impostor syndrome, most of them are the ones who should, they are actually delusional. So if you don’t have impostor syndrome, don’t worry, you may not be one of those people. But for 70% of us, we have it. And here’s the thing, when I found myself in wonderhell, here’s what I did. I talked to 100, different glass ceiling shatters, Olympic medalist, startup unicorns, creatives, thinkers, philanthropists, activists, everyday people like you and me, because I wanted to find a way out. And what I realized was that all of these people, they still had impostor syndrome, whether they were, you know, building their second billion dollar company, like think about that second billion dollar company, or they were at the top of a ski slope, about to go down their next run, literally, with a gold medal in their pocket from the last one still had impostor syndrome. So welcome, impostor syndrome is that moment, when you, you feel like you don’t belong. Maybe you don’t deserve the success that you’ve had, maybe people are going to realize that you are not good enough to be there. But here’s the thing about imposter syndrome. Each time we rise to a level where we haven’t been before, of course, we’re going to feel like an impostor because we didn’t think we’d get there. And everyone else in that room is feeling exactly the same way too, whether they’ve climbed up the ladder already, or they are on the ladder for the first time. Each time you get to a new rung you like Wow, holy crap, this is pretty cool. But let’s just think about the term impostor syndrome itself, like the gall of the term imposter syndrome, like oh, you’re an imposter. You don’t belong here. Maybe you should leave or you’ve got a syndrome. How are you feeling? Well, maybe you should lay down right. Imposter Syndrome puts the onus of feeling like we don’t belong on us, like we’re the victims. But, you know, imposter syndrome was a term that was coined in the 1970s. And it was coined in the 1970s, when leadership looked pretty homogenous, right, straight, cisgendered, white male, Ivy, League college, etc. Like all of that, you know, the trappings of success? Well, for the most part, leadership doesn’t necessarily look like that anymore. So of course, each time we get to that next level, we’re in a place that wasn’t built by or for people that look like most of us. So of course, we’re going to feel like we have impostor syndrome, but for the people who I spoke to, who were successful, and happy, who thrived and wonderhell they heard imposter syndrome, not as this idea that you shouldn’t be here, but as a congratulations, that you’ve made it to somewhere you never thought you’d get to. So isn’t it amazing? It’s all gravy from this point on.


Clint Murphy  15:50

So a rephrasing of not that I don’t belong. I’m just, I just had this feeling. Because I’ve got somewhere where I deserve to get in, it’s new. And it will go away as I play through it. A bit of a different way to look at it.


Laura Gassner Otting  16:06

Yeah. And it may not go away. And it’s okay, if you feel that way. Because, you know, what I learned was that the people who had impostor syndrome, what they said to themselves wasn’t, I’m not good enough. They just said, I’m not good enough yet. And so that word yet was so powerful. What they said was, everything that I’ve done up until now has gotten me to this point. And all those things I did, I didn’t come out of the womb, knowing how to do, I had to learn. So every step of the way, I got to a rung that I didn’t expect to get to. And I learned how to do the thing, which then got me to the next rung. Isn’t that amazing? It’s not that I haven’t done it, I just haven’t done it. Yet. I’m not It’s not that I’m not good enough. I’m just not good enough yet. Everything that got me to here won’t get me to there. But everything that got me to here was now built a foundation on which I learned new skills, I was able to create more network, I was able to have confidence, I learned how to learn to everything that got me to here created the foundation, which will get me to there, I just have to trust the process.


Clint Murphy  17:10

And we’ll jump ahead to the idea of dreaming in elephants and being ambitious. When you think about that and you have those big dreams. And you are in that spot where it’s new, and you’re just starting and you’re not good enough yet, I find that a lot of people may say, I stopped too early. Instead of as Bill Gates said, We overestimate what we can do in two years, and significantly underestimate what we can do in 10 years. And part of that I’ve found personally is setting the goal long enough. And then just trusting that process. So even if I’m not good at podcasting to begin, I’m not going to assess myself until I hit episode 100. Yeah, I’m not going to let myself be in the elephant graveyard or podcast graveyard, as they call it, where podcasts get to Episode 14, and they stop. And so there’s hundreds or 1000s of podcasts that have less than 14 episodes. Wow. So just saying to yourself, I’m willing to embrace the suck long enough to get good. And I’m willing to be good, long enough to become great. Which may take me a decade.


Laura Gassner Otting  18:33

Yeah, I mean, I heard a great interview with Ira Glass from This American Life, obviously, you know, I mean, just phenomenal. podcaster, one of the first big podcasters. And people asked him like, how did you get so good at it, and he goes, because I allowed myself to suck for long enough to get good at it. And, and I thought that was you know, I thought that was so great. My favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is this, we would worry much less about what people thought about us if we realized how seldomly they did, like, people are not paying that much attention to your first 14 podcast to be like, oh, yeah, yeah, let’s look at Clint, let’s, let’s sit here and watch him suck. Nobody is paying that much attention. Because we’re all so worried about sucking ourselves that we don’t actually look at anybody else. So we have so much time and space to suck in absolute anonymity, before anybody even notices what we’re doing, which is why we think everybody’s an overnight success, because we don’t watch the days and the weeks and the months and the years and the decades of hard work that goes into it. And so for me, I think that the liberation of anonymity because of the mass narcissism of everyone else is, maybe one of the greatest things you can it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is just to know that nobody cares about you. Nobody’s paying attention. None of us are that important. And then once you do start getting better and you do start getting noticed and you do start getting attention by At that point, you’re good because that’s the reason you’re getting all the attention. So I just, you know, like, let’s just bathe in the mass narcissism that gives us this, you know, incredible anonymity, I think for a while and trust the process. You know, when Michael Jordan went for the famous Chicago Bulls threepeat, I watched this great documentary, the way about him, The Last Dance, and in it, they said there was an interview with him where they were like, Were you nervous? Were you nervous? Like nobody had ever three peated before? Were you nervous, the pressure was on and he was like, No, I trusted my skills. I trusted the work. I did the work. And I knew when it came time, I could perform. I did the work. He did all that work for decades. So I think we just have to trust the process like you said embrace the suck.


Clint Murphy  20:43

Yeah. And when it comes to Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, we often refer to that as the spotlight effect. We think we’re in the spotlight. And in reality, one of the best lines I heard is we think we’re the stars in everyone’s movie, when in reality, it’s their movie. And we’re maybe a be credit extra. Yeah, maybe if we’re lucky. Okay, so just remembering that. And so part of what we’re talking about there, we’re talking about this idea of dreaming in elephants. Yes. And so we alluded to it with our long time horizons. But can you share where that dreaming in elephants comes from? I thought it was an stunningly beautiful metaphor. And then taking that to well, how should we think about our dreams and with the life we want to build for ourselves?


Laura Gassner Otting  21:29

Yeah, so the dreaming in elephants comes from David Usher, who was was the frontman, while still is the frontman of Moist, which is one of the most successful bands to come out of Canada. And he was very used to creating ideas and melodies and lyrics out of whole cloth. But he didn’t really have his big, wonderful moment until he decided to become a pioneer in the AI space. So one day he, as he as you know, the band was sort of taking a hiatus, he decided he wanted to get into artificial intelligence. And he had this dream that he could bring to life historical figures like Albert Einstein to have conversations about the theory of relativity with third graders. And he would walk into these meetings, and he would talk to all these coders and he would just explain this idea to them about how it was gonna work. Like Albert Einstein was gonna, like, wake up from sleep and be like, Hello, young girl, like, where are you from? Oh, you know, Poughkeepsie like, Well, I live in Vienna, and like, just this whole conversation with them. And all the coders would like nod their head. Yep, yep. Yep. Sounds good. Yep, sounds good. And then he leaves the room. And later he find out that they were like, What the hell was he talking about? So he dreamed these huge, big ideas. And by the time the ideas became reality, people had like nicked around the edges and taken a little here and taken a little there. And everybody tries to like, small size your idea to you know, reality size, your idea that by the time it comes to fruition, you still want it to be something that’s worthy of you something that you’re proud of. So if you start by dreaming in elephants, and by the time it becomes a reality, you know, maybe it’s something that’s still big enough for you. And you know what he said to me, because because, you know, it takes two years to gestate an elephant, right? So, elephant is pregnant for two years, a litter of puppy takes nine weeks. So puppy litter, puppies, litter of puppies, litter of puppies, elephant still pregnant, right? So it’s gonna take a long time to create this idea. That’s big. And that’s worthy of you. But if you want to do something, that’s exciting. And that’s fresh, that’s new. And that’s worthy of the effort you’re going to put into it. We got to start dreaming elephants.


Clint Murphy  23:39

I love that. And another section you talked about in playing big, you pulled something from your book Limitless, which was the idea that a leader, a manager, a successful entrepreneur, must think about three factors, profits, flexibility, and impact, and make decisions based on one or at most two of these factors. And what I found really interesting and piqued my interest was you said, it is impossible to start or run a business based on all three. But if you stick to your two main priorities, the third will eventually follow. What does that look like? And how does it tie into the concept of continents?


Laura Gassner Otting  24:23

Yes, so Limitless is based around this idea of consonance, which is alignment, it’s flow, it’s where everything you are is manifested in everything that you do. And it comes from my 20 years in executive search, where I realized that the handful of people who I could not recruit away, had this thing that had the success and happiness they had not work life balance, but work life alignment. They weren’t they were waiting to be happy when, they were happy now, right? They weren’t following their passion. They were investing in their passion. They were just, they just felt different. They were uncoachable for me as a recruiter and you know, I was pretty good at recruiting. I’ve recruited away a lot of pretty successful people. But there were a handful of people. And I was when I sold my executive search firm, I sat down and I was like, Alright, this is the time I need to solve this problem. Why couldn’t I get those people? I couldn’t do it. And what I realized is that they had this combination of four things calling, connection, contribution and control in exactly the right amount for them, at this moment in time in their lives. Calling what is this? What is the gravitational force that gets me up in the morning, the leader, I want to serve the cause that I want to that I want to solve a business, I want to build a family, I want to raise. Connection, does the work I’m doing every single day what’s in my inbox? my to do list my calendar get me closer to that calling, or farther from it? Does it connect to what I care about. Contribution, How does this work contribute to the life I want the lifestyle, I need the flexibility, I’m looking for, the paycheck I want, how does the brand manifests my values on a daily basis? How does the work contribute to who I want to be? And then lastly, control how much personal agency do I have to control how much the work connects to my calling and contributes to my life. So that’s sort of the idea of continent. When I left the big search firm, I’d had this sort of moment of rage, where I realized that the work could be done differently. I was at an executive search firm, where the way executive search works is you charge 1/3 of the first year’s cash compensation for placing the executive and I was doing work specifically for mission driven organizations. And what I realized was that if you place the Chief Strategy Officer for the Ford Foundation, for example, that person is going to get paid like $300,000, which means as a search firm, we’re going to make $100,000 off of that search. Pretty good. If I am doing an executive director for a local domestic violence shelter, that person is maybe going to get paid $60,000. So we’re going to make $20,000 for that search. Now as a peon at its executive search firm, who was incentivized by my boss to work harder for the $100,000 fee, or the $20,000 fee, the $100,000 fee, but who needed our help the most, who missed the money more? It was that executive director search for the domestic violence shelter the $20,000 fee, and it just didn’t feel like it worked for me as a human, I just felt badly about doing more work for the group didn’t need me as much. And they didn’t miss the money as much when I knew that this other organization needed me even more. And so I left and I started my own search firm that had a different business model that allowed us to give equal priority to both of these clients. Because for me, I knew that I wanted to maximize impact on the world, I wasn’t able to maximize impact if I was incentivized only by, you know, the highest paying clients. I also knew that I had a six week old baby and we were probably gonna have another child and I was gonna be raising kids. So I needed to maximize personal freedom and flexibility. At that time, we were young, we were still happy, you know, eating ramen soup and idealism, like I didn’t need to maximize money, I didn’t need to maximize profit. So I spent a lot of time now I should say, I understand this as a strategy. In hindsight at the time, I didn’t. At the time, I was just like, I want to do good in the world. And I want to be able to, like be there for my babies. Over time, what I realized was that because I was incredibly like myopically focused on maximizing these two things, so that I could feel good in the world, and I can be a happy human, we ended up being very successful. We grew 100%. Year over year, over a year until at one point, I had 30 staff working for me, and we were doing, you know, seven figures every single year, as we were growing high seven figures. I realized at that moment, when I was sitting in a retreat, we brought all 30 people together, we were sort of lived all over the world, we were we were remote before it was COVID, cool. We brought all 30 people together to sit in a in a room and do a retreat. And we brought in a Harvard business professor to facilitate the retreat. And she started the day off by saying, Okay, how many people do you think are the right number of people for this company? Let’s do that as an icebreaker. And we went around the room again, we had 30 people, we went around the room, and some people were like, really cheeky, like 29. And some people were like, 50, and some we were like, 100. And by the time they got to me at the end, I thought to myself, that’s a really dumb question. What are we trying to do here? What kind of business? Are we trying to grow? What do we want to help? Because if you tell me what we’re trying to do, what success looks like, that’ll tell you how many people we need, because if we want to maximize impact in the world, that’s probably 100 people. If we want to maximize freedom and flexibility for me, that’s probably one person. If we want to maximize our profitability, it may be something like 10 You know, so there are these moments where we’re growing as a company where we have to make decisions about what we’re actually solving for. And so often the success culture, the success world pushes down our throat this idea of bigger, bigger, faster more are the only definition. You did $100,000 last year do 500 this year, do 500 this year ,do a million next year. You did a million? What about five? Well, maybe we don’t want to run five, maybe at $5 million, you’re stressed, you’re not sleeping, you’re dealing with all the problems from all the employees around you, you’ve gotten to a point where it’s like your systems are stressed, but you’re you don’t have enough money to invest. So maybe it’s $1 million, $3 million. And then seven is the place that you need to be. So we have to figure out what are we trying to solve for. And what I realized is that when I was myopically focused on impact, and personal freedom, flexibility, we ended up growing so fast that by the time I sold the business, I ended up making more money than I would have if I would have stayed at that traditional firm. So I think you can pick one, maybe you can pick two. And you don’t have to run your business only by those two forever. But certainly for a season of growth for a you know, your strategic plan for that, you know that that six months, nine months ,year, and just make sure,  just make sure that you’re making decisions based on that so that you don’t have this sort of success. You’re not dealing with like whims of the market pushing in one direction or the other.


Clint Murphy  31:19

So much to unpack there.


Laura Gassner Otting  31:20

That’s a very long answer. I’m sorry.


Clint Murphy  31:22

No, it’s okay. Because I like it. Because what I’d like to chew on a little is this idea you use what are you trying to solve for? I often tell people to ask themselves, what are you trying to optimize for in this particular season of your life? So there’s two concepts I want to expand on a little further, is choosing what to optimize for because this ties in later to when to burnout city is if we’re not optimizing for what we want to optimize for, and we’re accepting hustle cultures do more in every area of our life. It’s impossible. I can’t wake up, have my cold shower, do my meditation, go for my walk in sunshine, do my social media… and then go to work, do a full time job and have a family. I mean, it’s just impossible. Yes. So what am I optimizing for? And then this idea that our life has seasons, and what we’re optimizing for in one season may look different than another season. But what I might optimize for in this season could feed my ability to have what I want in that next season. So this is more thinking in elephant gestation years or dreaming big, longer term horizon. Yes. I’m willing to go hard for a season or two, or a long season to have the exact season I want down the road, if that makes sense.


Laura Gassner Otting  32:52

Absolutely. I mean, you know, I talked about having a six week old baby Well, now that baby is just finished his sophomore year of college and the next baby who came a couple years after is about to leave for college. So I’m about to be an empty nester. The way that I structure my time right now looks very different than how I’m going to structure my time in the fall. And in fact, the way I structured my time, you know, four months ago, as I was leading up to book launch, and over the course of the last four months during book launch is all out 100%, go, go go. But my summer looks very much like I’m a failure, because I don’t have a lot of stuff going on, on purpose. Then I come back to September when I’m an empty nester. And I go hard again. So you know, I want to make sure this is the sort of maximizing, you know, personal freedom and flexibility. But, you know, at this point, I’m not maximizing impact in the world as much. I’m maximizing personal freedom, flexibility, and I’m maximizing profit, I want to make sure that the things that I say yes to if I’m going to leave the house right now, you know, not right now I’m in book launch, but over the summer, when it’s taking away family time, it had better be not just like, I’m going to make a lot of money as a full fee gig, whatever it is, but it’s going to be a long term relationship, it’s going to lead to things that are going to come later. It’s not just about the money. It’s like how will this money turn into more money later? How does it make more sense to me, and if it’s in a beautiful place, and I can bring one of my kids along and we have a little like, you know, Mom and son like couple days away, like when I say you know maximizing profit, I say that is like very broadly defined profit in our lives. And then I come back into the fall and then I’m going going going again. But this allows me to make enough money, build a big enough platform, be able to grow who I am in the world and my notoriety, my followership and all of that stuff. Because by the way, PS Clint. That means that when I post about a cause that I care about, or I want people to donate to something, I want them to go vote or I want them to do whatever I am now maximizing impact in the world, right. So my ability to you know, focus on the first two, knowing how that will help me impact and grow the third becomes part of that strategy.


Clint Murphy  35:08

So let’s shift because with all of that thinking and planning for the book launch this season, long term view, a lot of that is, in hindsight, someone’s going to look at you and say, Well, Laura, you got lucky so many times in your career.


Laura Gassner Otting  35:24

Geomagic. Right. So with that, you just have LGL magic.


Clint Murphy  35:28

Yeah, just magic. It’s overnight magic. So let’s talk about how we create that luck and how we create that overnight success that you’ve had, which at first, you talked about this idea that another author had brought these four factors that we can use to create luck. And I did get a little nervous and scared as an introvert, that there may be some extraversion required in these four factors. Can you take our listeners through, what are these four factors? And how can we use them to create the luck we want in our lives in to overcome impostor syndrome?


Laura Gassner Otting  36:08

Yeah, I have to remember what they are. It’s Dr. Richard Wiseman, wrote a book called The Luck Factor. And there were things like you saying yes more often, turning negatives into positives. So it’s not failure. Failure is not finale, it’s fulcrum, it’s sort of where we learn and we grow. It’s being having a sort of a positive outlook. Basically, what it comes down to is believing that things are going to go well for you. So saying yes to trying new things. Anyway, that’s sort of what it all what it all boils down to now, like you, I’m a bit of a raging introvert as well. So I know that seems ridiculous, since I, you know, make my living speaking on stages, but I talk at people I don’t have to interact with people. It’s very, you know, you get to have this conversation with an audience, but they don’t say their part out loud. So, you know, as Glenalyn Doyle likes to say, like, I love humanity, but individual humans kind of tricky, right? So I get to work with humanity, but not necessarily individual humans is great quote that I put in the book where she’s like, I would die for you. But like, maybe not meet you for coffee. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, my God, it’s like she crawled into my soul and wrote those lines. So here’s the thing, when we sit at home, and we have hopes and dreams, and we do the hard work, and we think somebody is going to notice us, we are delusional, people are not going to notice us. Because again, refer back to 15 minutes ago in this conversation, everyone’s too busy worrying about themselves. So we have to actually put ourselves out there, we have to say yes to events, we have to, you know, have the conversations, the coffee, you know, networking, we have to put ourselves out there, we have to try new things, we have to be extroverted. Now, as an introvert, I do this as a situational extrovert. So I think very hard about where I’m going to go, who’s going to be there, I do some research, I don’t try to meet everybody in the room. But I’m like, Who are my one or two, or maybe if I’m really feeling like I had my Wheaties for breakfast, like, I’m really feeling ambitious, where are my three targets that I’m going to meet that day. And then I don’t try to like do the whole pitch, all I want to do in that conversation is just get the next meeting, get the one on one meeting because by the way, the people who are there also have better things to do, they probably want to be home on the couch watching Succession or seeing their families about to go off to college or whatever the thing is, they want to get their one or two targets acquired, and then get the hell out also, so we don’t have to go big before we go home, we just have to like get the next meeting. So I try to be like a situational luck tourist, I try to be like a situational extrovert, where I do it like in the moment. But here’s the thing. There are not people who are born lucky. There are not people who have LGO magic. There are not people who are overnight successes, they’re just doing the work that we don’t see. And often they’re making sure that they’re in the deal flow so that people do actually see the things that they’re doing. There are moments, we’re all going to an event and I understand that the purpose of the event, even if it’s a workshop, is not necessarily to learn is to make sure that people see me there and see something that I just did so that they think the next time they get asked for something, and they can’t do it. They remember oh, you know who was good at this, because I just saw her Tell me about a thing is Laura, I should refer her. So we just we put ourselves in the deal flow in a way where we show up more often people see us and as an introvert, my favorite way of doing that is just to give to others. So if I am somewhere and I have no idea what I’m doing, but I need to learn something, for example, the first time I had to write a professional speaking contract, I had no idea what it looked like. So I asked 40 speakers that I knew for their contracts, I took their contracts, I made notes about all of them. Here’s how people handle intellectual property. Here’s what people handle travel. Here’s how people handle, you know, deposits. Oh, by the way, here’s one interesting thing somebody does. Most people do it this way. Three people do it this way. And I made notes because I want to write my own contract. And then I was like, You know what, I bet all those people could use it too. So I gave it back to all of the people like here, all the notes, anonymized, obviously, but here are all the notes. And because I did that, I became seen as somebody who was a giver, somebody who was knowledgeable, somebody who was organized somebody who was professional. So when those people got asked for a referral, who do you think they thought of me?


Clint Murphy  40:20

Genius? I love that. No extra


Laura Gassner Otting  40:23

No extra effort, right? It took no extra effort. I was already doing the work. So why not just give, so many people hoard information? Yeah, why not be a giver?


Clint Murphy  40:32

Absolutely. And we’re definitely going to talk about abundant mindset in a few minutes. But you hinted on something else there that I want to talk about first, that ties to creating luck, because you and I both have the same view on this one. And it’s this idea of manifestation, often referred to as the law of attraction. So you and I highlight the same thing. Yeah, law of attraction is great, but it has to be accompanied by the law of action. Can you talk a bit about how having our dream board? Yes, there are benefits to it. There are psychological benefits to having the dream board. But the dream board alone is not going to create the luck.


Laura Gassner Otting  41:19

So Right. So I’ve always thought that manifestation was complete and total nonsense, right? I was like, I’ve manifested the partner of my dreams, I manifested the trip to Japan, it’s like that no you didn’t i How could you possibly do that? We can’t do it. So then I did some research because I was curious about how lucky people become lucky people. And what I realized was that it’s not the act. It’s not like the fact that you just wrote, like, I want to go to Japan and like beautiful, like, you know, glitter paper on your dream board. It’s the actual act of writing it down signals to your brain, your brain gets like 11 million bits of data every single second and it can process 50, five zero, 11 billion versus 50. We’ve got to help our brain a little bit like, in this moment, right now listening to this podcast, you’re hearing my voice, you’re listening to intonation, you’re you’re thinking about all of the things in your life that you know, read that or, you know, you’re resonating with the things that I’m saying and you know, the soothing dulcimer tones of Clint’s voice, he interviews his his authors and his and his thought leaders, you’re also thinking about where your body is, right now you’re thinking about the temperature of the room, you’re thinking about what you’re doing next year, you’re you’re sort of feeling the you know, the fabric on your shirt, right, we have all these inputs that are coming. So when we tell our brain, I want to go to Japan, it just gets lost in a billion different other things that are going on. But if we write it down on our dream board, and we see it every single day, I want to go to Japan, we see like a beautiful picture of pagoda, pagoda and you know, great sushi and you know, the lights of Tokyo. If we look at that every single day, we’re training our brain to notice it. And so when a bus goes by, and it has a sale half off flights to Japan, we see the bus, we didn’t manifest the bus, we didn’t manifest the sale, what we did is we told our brain of the 11 million bits of data you’re going to get, that’s what I want you to pluck out. So we’re able to make ourselves luckier by being much more actionable. being much more active about the things that we want to do. Even better is if you take that vision board and you share it with somebody else. And you have that conversation so that if they see the trip to Japan, like it now becomes one of those things also. So it’s not just you who’s looking for, you know, what you want to do. So if what you say is, I want the promotion, I want to learn how to be a public speaker, I want to write a book, like you start putting these things there. And you share that with a group of people around you who are part of what I call your framily, right? Your combination of friends and family who really see you who know you who believe in you want you to get to where you’re going to you want to get to when they see these things. And they’re like, oh, I should call Clint because I just heard about this, whatever insert your next step is here.


Clint Murphy  44:10

I love that and the one thing I’ve found in a lot of successful people that I know that you hit on there is a high bias to action. So even without all the information or 100% of the answer, it’s that consistent drive forward towards the goal that they see.


Laura Gassner Otting  44:32

One of the most interesting studies that I quote and the bottom line is it’s so interesting to make was by the guys who did Freakonomics. And what they learned was that if you are stuck, you are totally stuck. You’re indecisive, you have no idea what to do. Should I leave my spouse? Should I you know, go for the promotion. Should I buy the house right? Like whatever the big giant decision is that you’re trying to think about? People who flipped a coin and the coin said heads do it, were happier years later than people who flipped a coin. And the coin said, Tails don’t do it. And they were happier, even if the decision in hindsight, was not a good one. So they said, I shouldn’t have left this to the spouse, I shouldn’t have gone for the promotion, I shouldn’t have bought the house, they’re still happier in, in hindsight, that they made a decision and they did something. I thought that was super fascinating. Because even in making the wrong decision, they learned things about themselves, which gave them other opportunities, right? Like, maybe I shouldn’t have left the spouse. But if I hadn’t left the spouse, I wouldn’t have met this group of friends. And I wouldn’t have traveled to Japan. That was the greatest trip of my life. And when I was there, I met somebody who said, you know, you really should write a book about this experience. And then I did, and there I am. And now as speaking, right, so it’s like, even if we have left turns, and right turns in U turns, and if some of those turns are wrong, they lead us down other paths, like no path is final until you know, the end of the day, right. So that’s why I say like, growth is never finite, like you’re never at the end of your road until you are at the end of your road, right? There’s only one final decision. That’s the end. So you know, this idea that action beats stagnation every day of the week. Again, this is another liberating thought for me, like when you’re in wonder hell, and you’re like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, just do something. And by the way, even if the something is, I’m going to sit here for a specific period of time and collect more information, you’re never going to have a full data set. But if you’re like, I’m going to just for the next 30 days, not do anything, see what else comes along, and then make a decision on date certain that’s still action, even if that action is saying still. But we have to be active participants in our lives, or else we’re just passengers on someone else’s bus.


Clint Murphy  46:49

Yes. So let’s keep our action moving us through the amusement park, we’ve been to imposter town. Let’s get over to Doubtsville. So what does Doubtsville look like for our listeners at a high level, Laura, and then we’ll dive into some of the doubts that people are dealing with and how to overcome them.


Laura Gassner Otting  47:10

Yes, So Doubtsville is in that moment of it’s amazing. It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. And also, I’ve never been filled with so much anxiety and dread and uncertainty and envy and exhaustion, and doubt in my entire life. Like, I don’t even know who I am as this new version of me. Ah, right, this hell of the tsunami of emotions that come at us. And what I learned from the people who I interviewed was that they were masters at renegotiating the relationship with these emotions. So they didn’t see uncertainty and doubt and dread. And they didn’t see it as limitation,saying stop, don’t go forward. They saw them as invitation saying Cool, man, like you’re on the right track. So they were able to change the voice inside their head that said, Oh, no, you haven’t done this before, too. Oh, wow, you haven’t done this before. So they knew that doubt was not a thing to stop them, but was actually a thing to say, Cool. That’s great. You’ve got doubt. That means you can gather more data, you can keep moving forward, it will all become clear, eventually.


Clint Murphy  48:18

And so that first part is we’re going to have uncertainty we’re going to have be uncomfortable because this is new to us. We’re at a new stage of life. And the idea that we need to learn to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Yes. What does that look like for you? And what does that look like for our listeners? How can they take these baby steps to become comfortable being uncomfortable?


Laura Gassner Otting  48:48

So I ran the first mile of my entire life when I turned 39 years old, like of my entire life. And at the end of that mile, which by the way, took me six weeks to run. I was like, Well, you know, if I string three of those together, maybe I could do a 5k. And at the end of that 5k I was all hopped up on endorphins. So I was like, you know, if I string two of those together, maybe I could do a 10k. Now, I say do not run because they were definitely do and not run. To call them running would be an insult to runners. But at the end of that 10k I was like, Well, if I string two of those together, and maybe another mile or so I could maybe do a half marathon and this was obviously like six weeks than an eight weeks and then a couple months ago. It took a long time to get to that point. But I live in Boston, you know where this goes one of  the homes of the major marathons of the world. And I’m now training for my sixth marathon. But if I had woken up that first day and said God, you know, I feel like crap, everything kind of hurts. I haven’t exercised in two years. Maybe I should like go for a walk. If I had said I’m gonna run a marathon let alone five, No way could I have dreamed that like we all have this like if you can dream it, you can do it, which is just garbage. If you do it, you can dream it like where do people get confidence from like the confidence to dream big dreams. It doesn’t come from just waking up one day with LGO Magic, Clint magic doesn’t, you don’t just wake up like fully formed and I can do anything. You wake up one day and you say, I’m going to do this small thing, I’m going to lower the bar, like so low to the ground that I have to slither under it, like I’m gonna lower the bar, I’m gonna go walk for five minutes, like that’s it, right? Anybody can walk for five minutes. After five minutes, the next day you walk for 10. And then you walk for 15. And we get confidence by showing ourselves competence. competence, yes, leads to confidence. That’s how we do it. So it’s not if you can dream it, you can do it. If you do it, you can dream it. And by the way to go back to what we talked about originally about people whose lack of imagination halt halts our ambition in its tracks. The reason that we are able to hush those voices is because we are able to imagine 10 miles after we’ve run five miles, but we can’t do 10 If we’ve only done one. So we show ourselves the competence that we have to hush those other voices, because we can see the next step even if they can’t. So, you know, there’s this moment in running marathons at mile 20.1, where you don’t know what’s going to happen, right? Like the farthest you run a marathon training 26.2 miles, the farthest you run and training is 20 miles. And then you start to taper and you get ready for marathon day. And whether it’s your first marathon or your 50th marathon, you get to mile 20.1. And you’re like, I wonder what happens now, like, I have no idea, am I going to finish? I’m exhausted, everything hurts. I’m chafing in all the wrong places as if there’s like a right place to chafe. And you don’t know maybe that day it’s hot. Maybe that day it’s raining maybe that day, it’s freezing. Maybe there’s a headwind, maybe there’s a tailwind, maybe you’re having the run of your life and you’re like, am I going to have a PR or you’re like, am I even going to finish? And we have to make that decision in that moment, every single step for the next six miles. Am I going to do it? How am I going to do it? What is it going to look like? And so, you know, the way that you get through it is you say okay, well I’ve done this before, I’ve run a 10k I know I can run a 10k I gone 20 miles so like I’ve got it in me even if I walk, I’m gonna like run, great. Walk, fine. Crawl, okay, whatever. Like there’s no, you know, like, again, you get the same medal for coming in last as the person who comes in second, right. So like, we have to remember that in these moments of doubt, when we have no idea what’s going to happen, we just have to, you know, lean back on everything that we put into that moment and know that we can get there, it may not look like what we thought it was going to look like. But we can still get to what we want to get to in in those six miles. That’s where the lessons come.


Clint Murphy  52:59

Yeah. And I often refer to it Laura as this idea that we’re building our get shit done muscle. And for a lot of young people out there, I say one of the easiest ways to build that is through athletics is through marathon training, Ironman training, ultra marathon training. Because when you do these things, you teach yourself I am the type of person who does things that the average person isn’t willing to do. I am the type of person who completes hard challenges. And you don’t start with the Iron Man, you start by getting a pair of running shoes and doing a little jog around the block. So you start as small as possible. And you teach yourself every time you take that incremental step up. I am the type of person who completes things. I am the type of person who has an end goal and brings it back to today and then gets it done methodically over time in that teaching can be applied eventually to anything you want in life.


Laura Gassner Otting  54:06

I’ve learned so much about myself through athletics that I just never even I never even knew I was capable of. The last marathon I ran was the New York City Marathon and I sprained my ankle at mile four. I just literally fell over my own two feet, sprained my ankle, and I heard like pop pop, right, like couple of knots and not such a good sound that you want you that you want to feel that you want to hear. And I you know, popped right back up and kept going because you know, there were 1000s of people running behind me I was gonna get trampled if I laid on the ground. And I remember just feeling so much pain and seeing stars and looking around for like a medical tent. And there wasn’t a medical tent right there. So I just kept going. I like walked it first. And then I started to jog a little bit and the friend that I was running with, they’re like, are you okay? Are you sure you’re okay? And I was not sure I was okay. But there was nowhere to go. And we were in Brooklyn and are digging at the finish lines in Central Park, right? Like we were, we were staying near Central Park, like I had to get back there somewhere. And all I did, I looked around and I just saw hundreds of people on the sides. And I was like, there’s no like, I can’t find a duck and find a taxi here. Am I gonna get an Uber? Like, I gotta get back to Central Park somehow, like, I might as well keep going. And I kept going, and it hurt. But as I kept going, I was like, you know, like, walk it off kid, right? It just hurt less as I kept going. And so I finished the marathon running 22 miles on a sprained ankle. And by the way, I finished it a PR was the fastest I’ve ever run. And I, that PR was 4:02. Now again, I’m not a fast runner. So 4:02. That’s good. I was really proud of that. And as soon as I finished, like, I turned the corner to come down into Central Park, and I was trying to do math. I was trying to do math. And I was trying to figure out if I keep going at this pace, can I finally get that sub four that I’ve always wanted, I can’t do math on a good day, let alone running 22 miles on a sprained ankle,25 miles at this point. And so I turn the corner and Central Park South, and I just can’t keep running every part, like I was just searing pain, every part of me was just screaming, stop, stop, stop. And I walked a little too much. And I finished at 4:02. And as soon as I saw the number, I thought to myself, Well, shit, I gotta run another one. I have to run another one. And I stop, and I walk over to the side and I kind of like put my arms on the on the little retaining wall. And I was just like, ah, and a guy walks over me with a wheelchair and he looks at me, he goes, you need this? And I’m like, no, no, man. I’m good. And he goes, have you looked at your ankle, and I look at my ankle. My ankle is like the size of a watermelon. But it looks like a gigantic like dark purple eggplant. And I looked down and he was and he looks at me. He points me goes you and appoints the chair. And he goes, here he goes, you, here, now. And I sat down in the chair. And I looked at my ankle. And my friend who I ran with all the way to mile 18 came back to find me. And by the way, she got to 3:55. So we’re in our 50s she qualified for the Boston Marathon on the beautiful. At Mile 18, and I was like, just go Leave me leave me. And she was like, are you okay? And I was like, No. And she’s like, I mean, I meant physically, but I think mentally. But I had taught myself over the course of the four previous marathons that I could do hard things, because it turns out that the hard thing about doing hard things isn’t the hard. It’s the do. It’s the just doing it. Like the fact that I was already going meant I could keep going. That’s right. It’s not the it’s not the hard. It’s the do like momentum really counts for a lot.


Clint Murphy  57:51

And so have you started planning an ultra marathon yet? Have you been bitten by the bug of going that little extra?


Laura Gassner Otting  58:01

Actually, I hate running. I hate every single step of running. I hate training. I hate all of it. But I love having run. I love having run. I never feel as good as I feel when I’ve run and and for me the look on somebody’s face when I say oh yeah, I have an 18 mile training run this weekend is fine. I don’t need the like I’ve got a 50 mile training run. I don’t. So here’s what we’re doing. I’ve now run Boston three times I run New York, I run Chicago. I’m a charity runner, I don’t qualify like I you know, I run Boston as a charity runner. But we’ve now signed up for Berlin for September. Which means that now we have to do London and Tokyo also because those are the six majors. And this weekend, we’re running our seven mile run because we’re like, right at the beginning of training that marathon is not till the end of September. And my friends has to be like we’re six and a half miles into the Seven Mile runner no matter how far you’re running. If you’re running seven miles, or 50 miles, that last mile feels like you can never run another step like it just like this week will run eight but the Seventh Mile will feel hard. The six won’t feel hard. Like it’s just like a mental thing a mental Bertel burnin and she says to me, you know, they’re considering making Sydney another one of the majors and I just looked at her and I went fuck you. And that was my response. I was like, No, I can’t. But when she was like, we’re gonna sign up for Berlin. I’m like, Yeah, we’re signing up for Berlin. That means Berlin, London, Tokyo, right? Like we just I think we all have these ideas in our head of like what complete looks like and for me, like the end of the chapter of marathon running looks like I’ve done the world majors done complete. Next thing I never have to run another step again, like what’s the next thing that we’re going to do? So, to go back to Doubtsville? Right. I think a lot of the people who find themselves in Doubtsville They are very good at being able to define what perfection looks like. They’re able to define what complete looks like and they were able to give themselves this longer time horizon, this gift of learning, like, I know that by the time we get to London or Tokyo, I may not be able to run anything near a four hour marathon, I’m just going to be in it to finish. But the idea that like, I’ve done the thing, that’s all I need, I don’t need it to be and each one I did faster until eventually I BQ’ed, like, Boston qualified like, I don’t need it to be that, like, I know, in my mind, what success looks like. And as long as I’m clear on that, that I don’t have to worry about this sort of perfectionist need to drive towards external goals. I can be intrinsically motivated by my own.


Clint Murphy  1:00:40

Yeah, the one thing I wanted to challenge you on a little too, because, you know, when you were being a little self deprecating with your running, but if you’re seven minutes off a BQ time, you’re a runner, you’re not just running, you’re a runner. So there’s impostor syndrome in there you know, like, you’re close. You’re getting there.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:01:01

It’s just that I look so ridiculously horrible when I run my husband. Oh, we do. It’s funny. My husband’s like, I just don’t understand. He goes, every time I see you running. He just looked like every single step hurts. And I’m like, because it does. Go on Boston Marathon Monday, and I see these Kenyans flying by and I’m like, they don’t even touch the ground. They’re just they glide. And I’m like, how do they do that? Like, I am like a Clydesdale I’m just like, are really it’s like pa-thunk pa-thunk and I’ve downloaded, you know, all the playlists that are 180 beats per minute. So I can like keep going at a certain pace. And oh, it’s just it’s horrible. But here’s what I learned about it. That each one of us needs to get on. We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. And that discomfort looks like the very depths of our pain cave. Now I write in the conclusion of the book, I tell a story about the first time I ran Boston and it was 92 degrees. I didn’t even know my own name. You know, by the time I got 10 miles in, by the time I got 16 miles in my husband had given me Ziploc bags full of ice. And by the time I got to miles 16 or 17, I saw a friend on the course who pointed to my jog bra and pointed to my my ice in my shirt and went wow, that’s a great idea. And I looked down and I was like how these get here like I was it was unsafe. It was not good. I get to mile 18 at the bottom of the last of the hills in Newton and so this is Heartbreak Hill very well known because it’s where people break it’s your heart gets broken. You just you lose everything. And see a friend in the Newton center who holds up his phone, the phone says 92 degrees. And he says Wesley career just finished. Okay, I still had at least an hour and a half to go. And this man this incredible marathon runner had just finished not only and he just finished, he finished only 10 minutes off his time the year before in perfect, like 50 degree overcast conditions. It’s 92 degrees and full sun. I had past previous years winters on stretchers along the way on these hills of Newton like it was just people had IVs and arms. It was like a warzone bodies littered everywhere. It was just terrible. And I realized as I was coming over the top of Heartbreak Hill going down into Brookline where you’re like, Okay, I’ve only got mostly like downhill or flat to go. I can. I can imagine it. I live here. This is my home territory, know what it looks like. I’m gonna do it. I get to one mile out. Fenway Park is one mile out to the end. And I have this moment where I’m like, I’m going to do it. I’m going to be a marathoner. I’m getting emotional, just thinking about it. Now I’m, I’m going to run my first marathon I am going to, I’m going to get across the end and somebody’s going to put a heat sheet around my shoulder and a metal around my neck, like I’m a freakin superhero. And I’m going to be a marathoner. And what I realized was that it took everything I had in me to keep going, I had to push to the end of that pain cave. And to get so comfortable being as uncomfortable as I’ve ever been in my entire life. There was a woman in front of me, and I was kind of pacing myself off of her. She was running steps, step, step I was running step, step, step behind her. And we get to the point where you’re about to turn onto Boylston Street so you’ve gone underneath you know, you’ve made the right on Hereford. You’re making a left onto Boylston and you’re on the dance floor. There are people hanging out of windows, and you know, in all of the office buildings, and it is your like a half mile from the finish. And people are screaming so loud that no matter what volume you have your headset on, you cannot hear a thing. And it is just a party and the woman in front of me and people are like six people deep like against the barriers on the sidewalks. And the woman in front of me looks at a cop. The policeman standing there it says I’m done. Let me out. He’s like, You’re almost finished. And she’s like, I’m done. I can’t I’m done. You have to let me out. Let me out. And she argued with them. I looked at her, I’m like, I’ll carry you to the finish. Like we’re almost done. And she was like, No, I’m done. Now I’m done. She was so heatstroked, she just didn’t even notice. So he let her out. And she finished. And I wish I had like, written down her number or something, I wanted to give her my medal. We’re in these moments that I realized that Wesley Career had gone to the very depths of his pain cave in order to get to the finish the way that he did. And I was getting to the very edge of my pain cave, to get to the finish in the way that I did. And even though our pain caves looked very different from each other, being at the very depth of our pain cave feels exactly the same.  And Laura, as you talked about that, something that’s going to come up the listeners who are listening. They’re hearing all of the hard things you’ve done. They know some of the hard things I’ve done, and they’re saying, you too, must be super motivated. And it’s not about the motivation. It’s about the accountability. Can you talk about how we use accountability to drive forward? Not motivation? Yeah, so this is where I get to tell you as somebody who makes my living as a motivational speaker that I think motivation is bullshit. And here’s why. As I mentioned, I hate running, I mentioned my running buddy, the same running buddy who, you know, got her BQ, the same running buddy, who told me that we’re gonna have to run Sydney, maybe I have a running buddy, I don’t run alone. I hate running. So if I am going to get up at five in the morning, and I need to run 10 miles and it is snowing outside, I’m not going to do it, I will break a promise to myself every day of the week. But if we have to go run, and it’s we have to run 20 miles and it is gross sleeping, awful, freezing rain, I’m going to do it. And I’m going to do it every day of the week, because I won’t break a promise to you. So if I’m meeting somebody else, I always do it. So for me, motivation means that you have to wake up every day, dig deep into that imaginary well of motivation and find some reason you want to do it. I can’t do that. I can’t do that in any kind of sustained way. But if I know that I have to show up for you. I’m never going to break that promise. So you know, I mentioned earlier that I like to find the biggest ask kicker, I know and put them in my sidecar. For me, it’s this running buddy. Like, I won’t let her down. I won’t let her down. And when we run, it’s almost like a challenge. Like internally, like we never speak it out loud. But at some point, one of us says I need to stop and I need I need a walking break. But we try to push each time. So that weird, we are the last one to ask. So you know, I don’t want to let her down by making her walk earlier, she does want to let me down. And so we push each other a little bit harder each time to show up as our very best selves.


Clint Murphy  1:07:56

When did you realize or develop this accountability mindset? And was there something you did that shifted that created it that our listeners can say, Okay, well, if I want to stop, wishy washy motivation is my driver. And I want to move to an accountability mindset. What are some things they should be thinking about to develop that?


Laura Gassner Otting  1:08:20

Yeah, you know, I was actually just having this conversation with my 20 year old son this weekend, who was saying that, you know, he was thinking about taking social media off of his phone. And when I asked him why he said, Because I wake up in the morning, and if I don’t have to get to class, or if I don’t have to meet somebody, or if I’m not, you know, driving my girlfriend to, you know, work or whatever it is. I just lay in bed and I scroll social media. And then the next thing I know, an hour, two hours, three hours has gone by, I didn’t get to work out that day, I end up being late for class, like he was talking about how if we’re if he doesn’t have a thing to do, then he just gets lost. And I realized to myself, I realized and I said to myself, like, like, I’m 52 years old, and I do exactly the same thing. Like if I didn’t have this podcast to wake up and do. I don’t know, I’m not so sure I would have gotten much more done this morning like this. It got me up, it got me going because I was here because we’re doing video, I needed to make sure I showered because I needed to get that shower in and do my makeup. And I have podcasts all day today. Well, this is the only time I’m going to work out so like I gotta get my workout in because I’m not going to do in the middle because I’m not going to shower and do this whole rigmarole hair and makeup thing again. So, you know, sometimes having that early accountability in the morning helps get us going on the day. And then once we’re going in the day, things are good. When did I realize that I realized it probably when I was training for that very first marathon and I would meet the charity team every weekend for the long run. But I wasn’t doing all those midweek runs that like get the miles underneath. And what I realized is that if I didn’t start doing them, I was gonna get hurt. And you know, for me, marathon running isn’t about being the fastest I can be on marathon day. It’s about just completing marathon, which means that I need to get to marathon day uninjured, I can get injured during the marathon, no problem, who cares about how I’m walking the next day. But I have to get to marathon day uninjured. And the only way to do that is to do all those midweek runs. And so I started to just ask people in this marathon group, Hey, what are you running your six miles, your seven miles, you’re 12 miles during the week, and I would just show up when they were doing, I’d be like, Great, I’m gonna be there with you. So I realized that when we set these giant goals, these things that are bigger than us, the only way to get to it is to do the baby steps in between. And if we cheat on the babies, the baby steps, we can’t cram for the test. Like you can’t cram for the marathon. So in order to do the work, like Michael Jordan, right, I trusted the work, we have to do the baby steps in between. And the only way to do that is to have like date, certain deadline person that you’re meeting, you might be somebody who was incredibly intrinsically motivated to do all the baby steps in between, but you would be a unicorn. That’s pretty rare.


Clint Murphy  1:11:00

Yeah, so you’re setting that big goal, you’re marching it backwards and saying, Well, if I actually want to achieve the goal I set for myself, I have to do these things. Yes, every day. So I will show up, I will do the work. And that’s how I’m gonna get there. Yeah. Which again, for the listener, anything you want to achieve in life? That’s the recipe, what do I want in the future? What’s it going to take? I’m going to show up and do the work every day until I get there.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:11:26

Yeah, the best way to get better at anything is to shut up, show up and do the work. It’s just it’s so unglamorous. But that’s it, shut up, show up and do the work.


Clint Murphy  1:11:36

I like it. I’m gonna write that one down. Sure. So you already talked earlier about abundance? What does abundance look like for you contrasted with scarcity? And how does that help us overcome our doubts?


Laura Gassner Otting  1:11:50

Yeah, I mean, so abundance looks like when I took all of those speaking contracts, and I handed it out to everybody, like, here’s how to do it, like, here’s the here’s the playbook. Here’s how the 40 smartest people I know, do this work, I could have kept it to myself, I could have said, you know, I’m not gonna give it to anyone else, because I want to figure out how to do it. But I don’t want them to do a good job because I, they’re my competition. What I realized, you know, I have a good friend who’s also a speaker, his name is Scott Stratton. And he’s a fan of talking about how we don’t take ladders to the top, we take elevators to the top and on the elevator, there’s room for all of us. And the more people you pack into your elevator, you know, the we all the boats rise together. And so what it looks like for me is every time I have somebody who has a book coming out, or who’s giving a talk, or who has a media hit, I talk about it, I put it on social media, I could only just put my own, but I might as well put everybody else’s, because when I have something, they put it up there. I think that there are people who like stand in the corner, and they keep score, and they watch everybody else and they take for themselves. And they are very scarcity minded. They think that success is like pie, there’s only so many slices to go around. But the truth is, it’s not. The more that we contribute to each other’s success, the more success there is to go around and around. And I think, frankly, I think success is contagious. So if we’re around people who are successful, if we help them, they help us, we all do better together. And so I try, I try very hard to burn the bridges in my life with people who tend to be repeated scarcity offenders. If it happens, once fine, it happens twice, fine. But after a certain amount of time, you realize that you can keep giving and giving and giving, but that person is not only not going to be giving, they’re going to be taking. And that’s just energy that’s literally taking away from you being able to give to other people. So I like to imagine that, you know, there may be a group of people that I give to, some of whom will never give back to me. But just the very process of giving reminds me of who I want to be and how I want to show up in the world. And it shows other people the values that I hold dear and the more that I manifest those values, even if it never comes back to me, the more I act as the person who I want to act as an by the way, this is called your fundamental state of leadership. The more that you can act like the person who you are when you are at your very best. What are the muscles you’re using? Who are the people surrounding you? What are the words you’re using? What’s the energy like? What are you wearing? How are you acting? How are you in your body? What are you thinking? How are you feeling? If you write those down, like think about a moment where you crushed it. Maybe it was a public thing you were on stage, you were doing a great presentation. Maybe it was private. Maybe you were crunching numbers for a presentation in the back room. Maybe you were helping a loved one or a colleague through something that you know a really hard situation. You were your very best version of yourself whether it was public, private, loud, quiet, doesn’t matter. Who are you when you’re the very best version of yourself and write down that person, write who that person is and put it on the lockscreen of your phone, on the bathroom mirror, on your car steering wheel and try to act into that person every single day. Because the more you act into that person, it’s not fake it till you make it. It’s just know who you want to be and just be that version of you that are more often so that it becomes your fundamental state of leadership every single hour of every single day.


Clint Murphy  1:15:20

Absolutely. And what I often suggest to people, Laura, is if you’re in a room with other leaders, you can pick one of your favorite traits from every one of them and say, What’s a trait I see in Laura, that I want in myself? Yes. And I’m going to copy that trait. Yes, until that is me. Yes. Not to your point. I’m not I’m not going to fake it. But I’m going to act in the way that I appreciate it in Laura, until I act like that, without even thinking about it, I’ll be conscious about it for a certain amount of time. Eventually, people will just say, Hey, you’re very similar to Laura in this capacity. And that’s when you know, oh, well, that worked.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:16:03

Yeah, I mean, I interviewed, I interviewed somebody for Limitless, guy named Larry Fish. And Larry was the CEO of one of the biggest banks in New England. And he said to me one day, well, actually, he didn’t say to me, I did some research. And I saw him give a speech at MIT, where he said that he starts every single day by writing a thank you note to one of his employees. And when I went to interview him, I was like, Larry, every single day a Thank You note, like, how do you do that? And he looked at me, he looked at me, and he said, I have 1000 employees, if I can’t find something, to be grateful to one of them for every single day, I am not doing my job, I am not paying attention. And I remember thinking to myself, Wow, it’s so smart. Now, I don’t write a thank you note every single day. But I remember thinking, I need to be more grateful. Am I faking gratitude? No, of course, I have gratitude inside of me. But I’m reaching into the gratitude part of my persona. And I’m saying, Hey, you, we need to raise the volume on this part of you. And so I live in the world now, these whatever, seven years later, after interviewing him as a much more grateful person, I’m not faking it till I make it. I just tapped into it. And I developed it, I shined the sun on that seed in my personality until that part of me grow.


Clint Murphy  1:17:21

I love that. And the other thing you talked about a few seconds ago that I wanted to highlight was this idea of, of cutting people out. And you phrase this in the book is it’s okay to unfollow people. And it doesn’t only have to be social media, it can be in real life. Yes. Which in I know, it’s in Doubtsville. But that really does tie a little to burnout city as well. Yeah, disease. A lot of the energy people people may call it energy vampires. Yes. They just suck the energy out of you. And so you’re saying, Hey, I’m gonna I’m gonna unfollow that that energy vampire.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:18:01

Yes, yes. So you know, what’s that old, that old expression about how we’re like, we waste a lot of money to buy things we don’t want to impress people, we don’t actually care about the same thing. Like we spend our money to buy things, but we spend our energy to be something that we’re not so that we impress people who we don’t actually care that much about right like, and then we take their criticism, even though their praise wouldn’t actually mean that much to us. So, you know, we’re in the space that just makes no sense whatsoever. And so what I say in the book is like, it’s okay to burn bridges. It’s okay to unfollow people, there are so many people on this planet. And several of them are people that you want to spend more time with, but you just say you don’t have the time. But you do. The problem is that your time is being sucked up by all these other people who you don’t care about. And you’re so busy trying to impress them, you’re so busy, like you’re absorbing all of their energy. And the thing that I realized is in the interviewing that I did, was that if you don’t let those Vampires Suck your energy, they’ll just go find other people’s energy to suck because that’s what they need, like their identity is being that person, is being the person who is the martyr or the complainer or the one who like, I worked so hard, and I never get recognized, like, they want to be that person, it makes them feel important. I prostrate myself to the gods of poverty, or, you know, I work so hard, you know, on behalf of this mission, or that mission, or I work so hard to help these other people and they don’t help make because they’re, they that’s how they want to live in the world. Like, they they have identity from being needed, and from being undervalued and all of the stuff and, and that just like success is contagious. I think misery is also contagious.


Clint Murphy  1:19:47

And so as we shift over to burnout city you were just mentioning time there because they suck up our time. And when we want to avoid burnout, which is the last step in the amusement park of wonderhell you say it’s all about TIME as an acronym. What does that look like? What are you meaning there? Because what we’re, what we’re trying to avoid is that hustle porn culture of like, go go go more and more and more, which just leads to us crashing and burning.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:20:18

Yeah. So this came from an interview I did with Jordan Harbinger. So another very successful podcaster. And Jordan would interview these authors and the speakers just like you’re doing with me right now, when they’re right at this sort of height of their book launch. Or, you know, they just put out a course or they’re, you know, growing up, you know, giant business. And he would interview them about these great successes. And they would say, man, like, this is a time that sucks. This is a time where I don’t ever see my kids. These are the times where I’m exhausted. And I’m living in hotel rooms, I’m eating cold pizza. And it’s just, you know, living out of the minibar. And when they would stop recording, they look at him, they’d be like, yeah, so Jordan. So like, where’s your course? Like, when are you going to syndicate your show? When are you going to write your book? And he’s like, Nah, man, that sounds like it sucks. Like, I just interviewed you for an hour about how hard it is like, No, thank you. And he’s got young kids. And what he said to me is that he realized one day that kids spell love, not L O, V ,E,  but T, I, M, E. And what he realized was that there were only so many days and weeks and months and years where his kids where going to be like, Hey, man, like, Let’s hang out today, let’s do something. He said, I want to be able to say to my kids, it’s Tuesday afternoon, let’s like head down the road to Disney World, like, let’s like, play hooky together. And he said, there’s gonna come a day when they’re gonna say, you old fart, like, I don’t want to hang out with you like Dad, no, he’s the least cool person. I know. He said, But right now, I want to have that, like, I want to have that time. So going back to what we talked about, in the beginning of the conversation, Jordan has made a decision not to maximize profit right now, but to maximize his personal freedom and flexibility so that he can be with his family. And that goes completely against everybody in the hustle porn world that’s like bigger, better, faster, more crush it,  lean in 10x. What he realized was, he wants to lean in to being a dad, right now, he wants to lean into this moment in his life. But if he tried to continue to grow and syndicate and you know, do all the stuff, he said, You know, I’ve never seen anybody as miserable as people who own private planes, he’s like, they’re so miserable, because they have to, like, keep going and keep producing at the level, because they’re now trapped in this sort of hedonic treadmill, where they have to just keep going and striving. And every time they hit, you know, one goal, like they join the country club, they look across the street, there’s a bigger country club. And when they get to the bigger country club, they realize that the bigger country club, there’s a back room of like special VIP members, and you’re going and you’re going and you’re going until one day you’re sitting at work, and you see your kid posts on Instagram, about being at the fancy Country Club that you can’t even get to because you’re so busy working that you don’t even have time to enjoy it. And he just didn’t want to do that. And so, you know, this moment of wonderhell would you see this potential of who you could be? I also want to remind people as we close out the book, and the interview that there is, you can also say no, you can also say Not yet,ot right now. It’s okay. You don’t have to give the trophies back that you earned along the way. You can just hold on to them for a little while. They’re still going to be there when you decide to start hustling again.


Clint Murphy  1:23:14

Yeah, and that was going to be my last question to you is what did that mean to you when you were sitting with your therapist? And he said that line to you? I mean, you don’t have to give the trophies back, Laura.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:23:25

So you know, in the pandemic, like a lot of people the stress got to me at a certain point, I just sort of stopped sleeping. And after a couple months of sleeping like three or four hours a night, my brain kind of stopped working like again, I can’t do math on a good day. But this I got to this point where I could not even remember, like how many cups of sugar went into the apple pie from the moment that I looked at the the recipe book to like turned around to like, look at the sugar like I my brain just stopped working and I went to see this therapist, and he diagnosed me very quickly as being an exceptionally boring overachiever who can no longer overachieve, like that was it, you are an overachiever can no longer overachieve. Because I’m, you know, stop here on the pandemic, and I make my living, getting on planes to go to events to speak on stage as well. There’s no planes, there’s no events, there’s no stages, what do I do? And he said, You know what, we could work on that. And I was like, No, man, I’m good. I’m like, I like being an overachiever. I’m Type A, I’m, like, ride my life like it’s a f1 sportscar. And he goes, Yeah, but it’s untenable. And I said, No, no I’m fine. It’s like it’s a feature not a bug. And then he countered with this, you know, absolute checkmate have a statement and he goes, but you’re here, you got me okay, you got me I give in. I like I like put the king down on the board. I was like, You got me. And he looked at me and he said, you know, Laura you don’t have to give the trophies back. Like everything you’ve achieved up until this point in your life, you are still that person. I don’t have to sell another book for the rest of my life. Listeners, please buy my book, but I didn’t have to sell another book for the rest of my life and I will It’ll be the Wall Street Journal, Best Selling Author Laura Gassner Otting. I don’t have to give that trophy back. I don’t have to keep hustling, I can now decide what do I want to do with that trophy that’s interesting. Not that’s striving. But that’s interesting. And so that to me, again, it’s sort of this liberating moment to realize that we can choose at every wonderful moment who we want to become next, and the only one who gets to choose is us.


Clint Murphy  1:25:28

I love it. And Laura, we went pretty deep. We went pretty wide in the book, is there anything we didn’t cover that you want to make sure you get across to the listener?


Laura Gassner Otting  1:25:40

I want to make sure that people understand that if you are sitting here and you’re like, wow, I do feel this. I think I am in wonder hell, I would say congratulations, because the only people who envision that next version of themselves are ones who are capable of becoming that next version of themselves. So wonderhell, congratulations if you’re in wonderhell. I’m so happy that I’m not alone anymore.


Clint Murphy  1:26:06

I love it. And I plan to be in wonder hell my entire life.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:26:11

The water’s fine, jump on in.


Clint Murphy  1:26:13

Yeah, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Yeah. That’s the way I look at it, and where can our listeners find you?


Laura Gassner Otting  1:26:19

So my name is Laura Gassner Otting all my good friends call me LGO,, so I’m on all the socials at HeyLGO so find me there. You can also go to wanderhell.com to learn more about the book. You can take a quiz there to figure out if you’re in impostor town, doubtsville and burnout city and what to do about it.


Clint Murphy  1:26:39

Awesome. Thank you for joining me today on the podcast. It was a pleasure to talk with you.


Laura Gassner Otting  1:26:43

Thank you so much, Clin


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