Join us on an inspiring journey with Laura, the author of “Wonderhell,” as she shares her personal experiences of embracing uncertainty and the powerful impact of surrounding herself with the right people. Laura’s story begins when she made the bold decision to leave law school, taking unexpected turns that ultimately led her to write “Wonderhell,” a book about living in the question and finding one’s unique path.
As we follow Laura’s story, we learn the importance of living in a state of “doubtable” and embracing uncertain situations. By relying on resilience and adaptability, Laura discovered that uncertainty is essential for growth and being open to new experiences can lead to self-discovery and new opportunities.
The tale takes a deeper turn as we discuss the significance of having the right people around us while navigating uncertainties and challenges. Although we mention the famous Jim Rohn quote about being the average of the five people you spend the most time with, we clarify that there’s no direct scientific evidence to support it. Instead, we delve into the concept of mirror neurons, which scan our environment for sameness and influence us subconsciously. This neurological basis highlights the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who support and encourage our journey.
Laura’s story also emphasizes the idea that the people who were with us during one phase of our lives may not be the right ones to accompany us in the next. It’s not about discarding people, but being intentional about the advice we seek and the voices we listen to. Through personal experiences about well-intentioned family members not fully understanding decisions and career paths, we learn that being mindful of who we seek advice from and having a supportive cheering section can make a significant difference in both our personal and professional lives.
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
“The only people who are visited by Wonderhell are the ones who think are worthy of it. You don’t see a bigger, higher, better, different potential for you if you don’t have the intelligence and the creativity and the wherewithal to get yourself there.”
Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.
Learn more: lauragassnerotting.com
Follow Laura on Instagram: @heylgo
Ep. 99: Get Unstuck, Find Your Purpose, #BeLimitless | with Laura Gassner Otting
Produced by Nova Media
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:00:00] The only people who are visited by Wonderhell are the ones who I think are worthy of it. You don’t see a bigger, higher, better, different potential for you if you don’t have the intelligence and the creativity and the wherewithal to get yourself there.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:00:23] Hello and welcome to The Daily Helping with Dr. Richard Shuster, food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, tools to win at life. I’m your host, Dr. Richard. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and whatever you do, this is the show that is going to help you become the best version of yourself. Each episode you will hear from some of the most amazing, talented, and successful people on the planet who followed their passions and strived to help others. Join our movement to get a million people each day to commit acts of kindness for others. Together, we’re going to make the world a better place. Are you ready? Because it’s time for your Daily Helping.
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Daily Helping Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Richard. And I am excited to welcome back to the show Laura Gassner Otting. If you missed our first conversation way back in Episode 99, go check it out. We were talking about her book, Limitless, which is really awesome, and we’ll have the links to it in the show notes. But we’re here to talk about her latest book, Wonderhell.
Laura is an author, catalyst, and executive coach. She inspires people to push past the doubt and indecision that keep great ideas in limbo by helping audiences think bigger and accept greater challenges that reach beyond their current limited scope of belief. She has been everywhere. She’s been on Good Morning America, The Today Show. She writes for Harvard Business Review. She’s been in Forbes HR Magazine. As I said, she’s the author of Limitless, which debuted at number two in The Washington Post Bestseller List when it was released in 2019. And we’re going to talk today, as I mentioned, about her new book which was just released, Wonderhell. Laura, welcome back to the show. It is awesome to have you back on The Daily Helping.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:02:27] Well, I’m so excited to be here. And I know life has taken a lot of twists and turns for both of us since I was here last time, so I’m excited to get into that.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:02:35] Absolutely. We were saying how it felt like a lifetime ago. You were one of the pre-pandemic conversations that I had. And we’re both doing very different things. So, catch us up. We’re going to talk about Wonderhell, of course. But what were some of the big shifts for you that came out of all of that?
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:02:53] I mean, you know, I think a lot of us woke up at some point during the pandemic and asked ourselves, when life goes back to normal, is the normal I’m going back to really the life I want? And at least for me, and I know for you and probably for a lot of your listeners, the answer to that question was a great big, giant, resounding no.
So, you know, I am 52. I have two kids. One is in college. One is about to go off to college. And so, I’m at this moment in time where I’m about to be an empty nester. But I’ve also just launched my next book. And so, that demands that I’m on the road, that I’m traveling, that I’m doing the hustle, that I’m doing the whole thing.
And there have just been a lot of moments where I’ve said, "Well, you know, this is something I did for the first book. Does it make sense for me to do it for this next book? Should I still be doing it? Have I reached a point in my career where I don’t need to do it anymore? Have I reached a point in my life where I don’t want to do it anymore? Are there things that I should be asking for that I wasn’t capable or qualified to get last time?"
And I really had to stop myself from saying, "Well, the first book did well. That strategy worked. I should just do that strategy again," because the world has changed and I have changed. And so, rather than doing 150 podcasts like I did the first time – I think you’re my 27th podcast – I think I have maybe only a handful left on my calendar because I just decided to go with quality instead of quantity in sort of all places of my life, in my relationships, in the book promotion and marketing, and my speaking, and everything.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:04:31] I love that. That does resonate very strongly with me. And it’s really interesting, pre-pandemic – the research and I’m going slightly tangential here, but you’ll appreciate it – they’d always done these happiness studies on people. And what they always found was that those who didn’t have children were happier than those who did. And those who didn’t have children could, you know, have this wild life, and all the money, and they could travel into all these things.
Something really interesting happened when the pandemic hit, that reversed for the first time ever. And I think the reason it reversed is because we realized as a society, Laura, that what really matters is family, is our goals, our values, what’s really important to us, and having that connectivity to others, that sense of connectedness.
And so, when I hear from you, your accolades obviously speak for themselves. You’re everywhere. Your book has been remarkably successful, Limitless, I’m speaking of. And yet for you to say, "Yeah. You know what? I’m not going to do 150 podcasts. I’m going to do less than 30. I’m not going to speak as much."
And focusing on quality over quantity is a theme that I think a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, really resonate with, because when it boils down to it, why? All right? Like, why do we start a business? Why do we do the things we do? And for most of us, it boils down to, well, I want to take care of the people who I love the most and be with the people that I want to love the most. So, it sounds like that’s, in many ways, the case for you.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:06:21] Well, it is. But I also want to be really clear that while I’m doing less, my goals are actually more. So, Limitless debuted as a Washington Post Bestseller. And in that moment, I was like, "Well, I expected three people to buy this book, like my mom, my dad, my husband, and maybe my dad would buy it used from my mom." I had no expectation at all. Literally, not only did I not have a big mailing list, I didn’t actually even have a mailing list. So, I spun gold out of yarn for that book for sure.
But in that moment I still was like, "Well, I made The Washington Post. I wonder if I could make a bigger list. I wonder if I could make The Wall Street Journal. I wonder who sits under the oak tree with Oprah. She got to talk to someone. Why not me?" And so, I had this moment where it was amazing, exciting, and wonderful that I was able to achieve this thing I didn’t expect. And in that moment, I also saw this vision of what more maybe I could be.
And that then became stressful, and anxiety provoking, and identity shifting, and imposter syndrome rendering, and all of those things. It was wonderful and it was hell. It was Wonderhell. And that was actually the moment where I’d conceived of this idea of Wonderhell, where it’s like success is amazing, and also it’s not an endpoint, it’s a waypoint. It shows you everything else you can become.
So, I’m sitting here telling you that I did less of quantity for the book, but I increased the quality for this book so that I’m hopeful that it becomes a Wall Street Journal Bestseller. Those lists come out tomorrow. I think maybe I’ve pre-sold. I think maybe I sold enough in launch week to get there. I don’t know yet.
But I can tell you that I definitely left it all on the field, you know, this last week that was launch week, but not in a way where I was just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. I was strategic, and I was smart, and I was elevated in the way that I knew was the right way to do it for this. So, I worked just as hard, if not harder. Not to be cliché, but I worked smarter at what I was doing.
So, I just think we confuse busy for impact a lot. And so, we’re so busy doing all the things for all the people that we’re not actually impacting the people, or the causes, or the communities, or the companies that we actually care most about.
And I’ll tell you where I realized this. It was actually just before the pandemic, ironically enough, when I realized that all of my relationships were long distance relationships. When my husband and I were first dating, we were long distance. I lived in Washington, D.C., and then I moved to Boston. He was in New Haven. And then, we sort of switched places. So, we were sort of not in the same city for a couple of years.
And every time we would get together on the weekends, it was like we were fully focused on each other. Now, this was like before cell phones and the internet, so it wasn’t like we had to put our cell phones away. But we were fully focused on each other for the weekend. And there was like a lot of pressure on the weekend being perfect. We really were together. We didn’t see any other people. We didn’t do anything else. We were just together.
And then, we get married. We’ve been married for 25 years now. And whenever I travel for work – I travel almost every week for work – I’m not home. But when I come home, I don’t think like, "Oh. I’m only home three days this week. I should focus on my husband. I should focus on my kids." Until one day I was like, "Wait a minute. All of my relationships are long distance, even the one with my husband."
Like, I share the same bedroom with him and yet we have a long distance relationship because I’m gone two or three or four nights a week, so it is a long distance relationship. My relationship with my kids is a long distance relationship. My relationship with my friends, with my clients. All of the relationships in our lives are all long distance relationships. And so, there was this moment just before the pandemic where I was like, "Oh. The quality of the time that we spend matters so much more than just the hours that we put in."
And then, of course, COVID happened and we no longer had a long distance relationship because we were in the same house all the time, the house, the office, the school, the same building. But all the rest of my relationships became long distance relationships. So, I think this idea of how would you treat all of your relationships in your life if they were long distance and the time that you were together mattered so much, I think that really changes the way we think about quality versus quantity.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:10:41] That resonates strongly with me. As I’ve mentioned on this platform, in the media, pretty much everywhere because it’s a whole separate focus area for me, when I had my stroke in 2020, very similar, like we go through this thing in these different phases. And, obviously, when we’re 17, we’re idiots and we think we’re invincible. But you and I are pretty close in age, and you could not have convinced me that I would have ever had a stroke. It was impossible.
And so, when you’re hit with that moment of realization, it’s the quality of the time because you don’t know how much is left. And so, with that in mind, every day is special and you have to focus on what can I do today. Not pressure to say, "Oh, my God. This day has to be a perfect day," like you said. But how do you make those meaningful memories? How do you you create those perfect stories in a way that it means something? It means something even if it’s watching a ballgame with your kid. That may seem innocuous, but it will mean something to them when they look back on it, you know, 10, 20 years.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:11:58] Well, and if tou know that’s the last ball game you’re ever going to watch with your kids, you are going to put your phone away. You’re going to watch the hell out of that ball game. I mean, I did not have a stroke, but in 2021, I developed an exceptionally rare autoimmune disease that, literally, 800 people in the entirety of the United States have. It’s like 330 million people and 800 of us have it. I don’t even know what the 0.000 whatever percentage of it is.
But I can tell you that I lived in Boston, which is like the center of the medical universe. And I saw a dozen doctors who looked at me stripped down naked with this like, "Oh, wow. Okay." Well, by the way, after you just turn 50, that’s not the reaction you want stripped down naked in front of everybody. But it took months to figure out what was wrong with me. And over the course of those months, I got worse and worse and worse and worse. And I spent a number of nights in the middle of the night Googling symptoms, which, by the way, you should never do.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:13:00] Don’t do that.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:13:00] Don’t do that. They should take the phone away from pregnant women and, like, mysteriously sick patients. Those are the two times where I Googled things that I should not have. But I spent a number of nights making mental lists in my head of what are the videos that I want to make for my children so that they can play them on those important days, like graduation, getting married, first children, all of those things because it really does put into focus what matters when you don’t know if you’re going to be there for the things that actually matter.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:13:36] It’s true. It’s true. And so, you mentioned that you overcame this illness.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:13:42] I did. So, I’m in remission.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:13:45] Congratulations. That’s excellent.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:13:45] Thank you. Thank you. And whatever remission means for a mysterious disease that nobody actually really knows how it was caused, or you get this off label, like, ten months of chemotherapy infusions. Who the hell knows? But over the course of that time, it was very interesting because I wrote Wonderhell during ten months of chemotherapy infusions.
And I also, by the way, trained to run the Boston Marathon, which I ended up doing. Because in that moment I was like, I need to cling to who I am as a human because, if I don’t, I will lose myself in this whole thing. And I was like, I’m an athlete and I’m a writer. I’m a parent. I’m a wife. These are the things I am. So, I just went crazy and doubled down on those things.
And in the beginning of the acknowledgement section of Wonderhell, I actually write, What I originally wrote in 2021 were 85,000 of the worst words you will ever read in your life. But thanks to a community of family and friends that I, in no way, deserve, what you have in front of you now is, like, 64,000 of much better, much tighter, much funnier, much smarter words. Because there are things that we do in these moments where we have to figure it out.
And Wonderhell, it’s actually shaped around an amusement park, where we think success is going to be fun. It’s going to be great. I can’t wait to get there. I’m going to go on all the rides. I’m going to go to all the towns. It’s going to be amazing. And then, we get there and we’re like, "Wow. This is harder than I thought. It’s actually worse."
Like, I succeeded in this thing, and in that success, I now have a faster pace, bigger goals. I’ve got an increased hunger. Just like in an amusement park, you’re like, "It’s going to be so much fun." And at [3:00] in the afternoon, you’re like, "I’m sunburned and dehydrated, and my kids are whining, and the corndog in my stomach is threatening to exit on the roller coaster I don’t even want to go on." It’s kind of the same thing.
And so, Wonderhell is divided into three sections, Impostor Town, Doubtsville, and Burnout City. And so, the third section of the book, I think is so relevant to the conversation we’re having right now, which is this moment when you’re like, "You know, maybe I do want it all, but I don’t want it all right now." Like, maybe it’s okay if I’m going to take this time and I’m going to choose to double down with my family because I’ve done enough doubling down at work, and that’s not where my focus is right now. I’ve got a kid who needs me. I’ve got a spouse who needs me. I have my own health who needs me.
And maybe I’m going to ride the merry-go-round instead of the roller coaster right now because I’m just going to say no to hustle porn. I’m going to say no to the 10X bigger, better, faster, more, crush it, lean in. And I’m just going to know that my kids spell love T-I-M-E. And I’m just going to be there with them for right now because the you can have it all is true, you just don’t have to have it all at the same time.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:16:28] And I think what having it all means changes based on your life circumstances, too, right?
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:16:35] It really should. If it’s not, we should be asking ourselves, why not?
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:16:39] So, it sounds like we’re doing this book backwards.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:16:44] That’s fine. We don’t have to talk about all three sections. I just think that one section is very relevant to this.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:16:48] Yeah. Well, I kind of want to talk about Impostor Town because that’s fascinating to me. So, I think imposter syndrome is something that we all have.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:16:57] Well, only 70 percent of us have, I learned actually in this research. The other 30 percent have Dunning-Kruger. And, like, they should have imposter syndrome, but they don’t. Apparently, it’s only 70 percent of us, which is still a huge number.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:17:09] It’s a large number. Certainly, when I started this show five years ago, I didn’t think anybody would listen to it. And then, even when it really started getting popular and got on NBC and all these things happened, and people, like yourself, were coming to my platform, I was like, "Why does this person want to come on my show?" So, this was something that I absolutely struggled with. So, I spent a little bit of time in Impostor Town. So, take us through that part of the amusement park, if you will.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:17:35] Well, let me ask you a question. So, now you’ve had how many episodes?
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:17:39] Over 300.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:17:40] Over 300. And you’ve got people that are coming on your show and are you still like, "Why are these people coming on my show?" Or are you like, "Awesome. I deserve it. They should be here. I’m amazing."
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:17:50] I believe that I’ve paid my dues, so to speak. I think I’ve worked very hard to deliver a program that people listen to. And I haven’t looked for a guest in years. They usually just come to me. And I’m incredibly grateful for everybody, whether they actually are a fit for my show or not who wants to come on The Daily Helping. I wouldn’t say I’m better than the next podcaster, but I would say that I do a good job. And the people who come on, come on because I’ve built a reputation. So, I’m proud of that.
I don’t feel like I used to. I don’t feel like, "Oh, my God. Why is this person coming on my show?" Like, "Okay. I’m a pretty established brand now, and so people come on. I’m grateful for it." But I’m here because I’ve worked really hard and created something that people like.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:18:46] And if you had somebody who was like a bucket list guest who came on your show, would you feel like an imposter or would you be like, "Yeah. I’ve done this. I know how to interview people. They’re coming to me. I feel pretty good. We’re going to have a good conversation"?
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:19:00] Yeah. I would feel like I could have that good conversation. I would think it would be cool.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:19:04] That’s a huge key. Okay, so first of all, let’s talk about imposter syndrome just as it is, the gall of the term alone imposter syndrome. Like, "Oh, you’re an imposter. Maybe you should leave. You don’t belong here. Oh, you have a syndrome. You must be sick. Maybe you should lay down." Like, the gall of the term alone puts the victim, the one feeling that way as the one who is at fault. When, in fact, it’s not. It’s the systems that are set up that don’t make any sense. But this idea of the term imposter syndrome that you don’t belong gives us this feeling like, "Well, maybe I’m a fraud. Maybe they’ll figure it out. Maybe I’m not good enough."
And what I learned in the research of this book is that, first of all, just to go back for a second, when I found myself in Wonderhell, I interviewed 100 different glass ceiling shatterers, Olympic medalists, startup unicorns, and everyday people like me and you who found themselves in Wonderhell to figure out how they got out of it. And what I learned – much to my chagrin – was that they never got out of it. They don’t get out of it because it turns out that on the other side of this Wonderhell, figuring out this thing that you want to do is just the next one and the next one, if you’re lucky, the next one after that.
And so, rather than learn how to grin and bear it and put their shoulder to the wheel and clench in, rather than learning how to survive it, they learned how to look forward to it and plan for it and thrive in it instead. And one of the things that they did was they changed the self-talk. They renegotiated the relationship that they had with these emotions. So, instead of saying, "Oh. I have imposter syndrome, I don’t belong here," they would say, "Oh. I have imposter syndrome, cool. That means I’m saying where I never expected to be." It’s not, "Oh, my God. You haven’t done this before." It’s, "Oh, my gosh. You haven’t done this before."
And so, they were able to see it as an adventure and excitement and know that failure in it might just be part of learning. And that’s awesome. So, they just renegotiated, they redefined what was happening. And instead of saying this is a warning sign that I’m on the wrong track and it’s a limitation, they saw it as this is actually a very helpful ally to tell me that I’m on the right track. It’s an invitation.
And one person I spoke to in particular, what she did is she said – well, I’ll tell you. It’s Dorie Clark. I think you’ve probably had her on the show. Dorie is an absolutely fantastic Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, professor at Fuqua School of Business at Duke. And she is just absolutely incredible in sort of business leadership management.
Well, she also has a passion for writing Broadway musicals.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:21:43] I knew this about her too.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:21:44] She wants to completely change and do this whole thing. And so, I interviewed her and said, "Okay. I don’t understand. Like, you went to college at 14. You’re super brilliant. You’ve been able to accomplish all these things. How were you handling this sort of hobby shift?" It’s not a career shift, but a hobby shift.
And she said, "Well, I walked into this program, the BMI Lehman Engel program, which is the number one program in the country for scoring Broadway musicals. And we went around the room and everybody introduced themselves. And I’d written three songs in order to apply for this. At first I got rejected. Then, I worked with a coach, then I got these three songs, and then I applied and I got in."
But going around the room and this person’s like, "I’ve written six Broadway shows. And I’ve been nominated for an Emmy. And I’ve produced this, that and the other." And she’s like, "I had a choice. I could either put my hoodie up and slink away in embarrassment and say I’m an imposter, I’m a fraud. Or I could say, ‘You know, Dorie, you’ve been really successful in other parts of your life, even things you didn’t know how to do because you learned how to do it. So, it reasons to say that you will be successful in this part of your life if you just use the same process to learn, and to grow, and to network, and to look around, and to absorb, and to get better. Because it’s not that you’re not good at scoring Broadway musicals. You’re just not good at it yet.’"
And that’s a real difference between saying "I don’t belong. I’m an imposter" to saying "I just don’t know how to work in this environment yet." And that’s what you just said, right? You get the bucket list guest and you’re going to say, "I’m not cowed, I’m not overwhelmed because I know I’ve done the work. I don’t know how to interview that person yet, but I know how to interview and I can figure it out."
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:23:29] Yeah. In my world, we call that cognitive reframing. Because, essentially, we are taking something and switching it around in terms of the language. Language is so powerful.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:23:41] So powerful.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:23:41] We don’t often realize the words that we use can actually paralyze us. When, by just shifting one small thing, like the example you used was genius, it was, "Oh. It’s not that I’m in unchartered waters and I’m over my head. It’s that I’m on an adventure and I’m the captain of my own ship and we’re going to see what happens." So, I love that. I absolutely love that.
Let’s take a few minutes and talk about the second town. Refresh my recollection.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:24:09] Doubtsville. Yes.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:24:09] Doubtsville.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:24:11] Doubtsville. So, Impostor Town is where you decide that, "Look, success doesn’t make things easier. It makes it harder. I’m going to embrace this potential that it revealed to me that I have, even if I’m not so sure." Like, even if I’m like, "I don’t know if I belong there. I’ve got this imposter syndrome problem." Doubtsville is where you renegotiate the relationship from these mixed emotions, from being an invitation to a limitation.
And Burnout City, of course, is where you understand the success is a cyclical journey and that you expect that you’re going to be revisiting it over and over and over again. So, you expect it, you plan for it, you learn from it, you welcome it.
So, Doubtsville is how do you manage uncertainty. How do you fly with that net when suddenly you’re the first of, you’re the only one who has? How do you find your own way when you are not quite sure what the path is in front of you? And what do you do with the people who are around you, who surround you in those moments?
Because a lot of times when we achieve something we didn’t know that we could achieve, we learn a lot about ourselves in that process. We also learn a lot about the people who are around us as well. And not all of those people belong in our next adventure. They were in our last adventure. Frankly, some of those people didn’t even belong in our last adventure. But we have a lot of people who are around us who are feeding our brain with doubts, and uncertainties, and fears, and jealousies, and all of those things.
And like our self-talk, as you were saying, is so powerful, a lot of times what other people feed us becomes our self-talk too. So, a lot of what I talk about in the Doubtsville section is sort of how do you figure out who belongs around you in these moments so that when you are figuring it out as you go, when you are figuring out how to deal with all the uncertainties in the world, who do you lean on?
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:26:04] It’s become cliche a bit in the world of podcasting and personal development that, invariably, every few episodes you have to bring up the quote by Jim Rohn, right?
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:26:15] Which is a BS quote, by the way.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:26:17] Right. It is.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:26:17] Like, there’s no science behind – actually, I write about this in Wonderhell, there’s no science behind the five people. He just made that up.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:26:23] There isn’t. There isn’t. But there is science around something called mirror neurons. Did you learn about these when you were digging around?
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:26:31] No.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:26:31] So, mirror neurons are really fascinating. Mirror neurons are more recently discovered in kind of the neuron world. But, essentially, what they are, are these little guys who are scanning our environment. Think like the Terminator, like Schwarzenegger in the bar and he’s looking for things that fit. Mirror neurons are scanning our environment for sameness.
And so, the greatest example I could ever give of mirror neurons is, so you’re a Bostonian, so if you took two people and you put them at Fenway Park and the Red Sox had a walk off homerun, the two strangers high fives and they’re hugging each other like they’re best friends. Take those two exact same people, take them out of their Red Sox jerseys, and put them on your subway in Boston. If they bump into each other on the subway, how are they going to interact with each other?
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:27:27] They’re not going to be happy.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:27:28] Exactly. So, the mirror neurons are scanning our environment for sameness. And how that impacts us subconsciously is, if you are having the same messaging drilled into you, whether it’s your own thoughts or people who are in your proximity who are telling you "This is never going to work, Laura. Your book is going to fail. What a stupid idea. I don’t think so. Try writing something else," you internalize that because that becomes homeostasis for you. And pretty much every system in our brain and our body in general is designed to pull us towards homeostasis.
So, while the Jim Rohn quote may not have a direct scientific link, there is a neurological basis for surrounding yourself with the voices that are going to help you on your journey.
So, I love that you’re talking about this in your book because, I think this is one of the most vital things in life, not just business, but in life, is, having a cheering section that promotes you in the right way.
And one of the other things that I think you said was so important that doesn’t get said enough is that those people that were on the boat with you on your last adventure might not be the right ones to go with you on the new one.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:28:55] Right. And I’m not saying you should always be leveling up and kicking out the people that are where you were. I just think that there are people in your life, for example, I love my parents. My parents are wonderful people. The last time I lived in the same house as my parents, I was 17 years old. As I mentioned at the top of the show, I’m 52 right now. I have done some growing and some evolving since I was 17.
In fact, when I was 17, I used to bring the car back, of course, late for curfew with the volume on the radio turned all the way up and the gas turned all the way down. So, my dad would get in the car on Monday morning to go to work and Motley Crue would be playing at ten. There’d be, like, less-than-an-eighth of a tank of gas. Clearly, I got grounded a lot when I was young.
So, when I told him I was dropping out of law school to join some unknown presidential hopeful’s campaign a governor from Arkansas, they were like, "You’re doing what? Are you sure? That’s not so smart." When I told him I was leaving the White House, when I told him I was leaving the big firm and starting my own, when I told him I was selling that firm to the women who helped me build it, when I told him I was going to write a book, they were like, "Are you sure you should do that? Do you know or can you do that?" Not because they didn’t know me, not because they didn’t have my best interest at heart, I don’t think they knew my heart. They didn’t know who I had become at that point.
And so, I think we can keep all the people around us. I just think we have to be really careful about what volume we turn up and what volume we turn down. And I’m very intentional about who I ask for advice, mostly because if I’m so busy getting advice from the people from whom I ask, there’s a lot less room in my day for the people that give me advice that I don’t ask for.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:30:38] Makes perfect sense. And I think, too, we speak about family, family, though oftentimes well-intentioned, most people can’t relate to the journey that you’re on, that we’re on as entrepreneurs. It’s in many ways a journey of one. It’s an end of one. I get that. I’ve had similar conversations over the years with my parents as well who don’t quite understand why I didn’t just want to be a psychologist anymore. I get that totally.
Laura, our time together has flown by and it’s been so fun. I knew that it would be. As you know – and you’ll have to do something different this time because it’s a different book – I always wrap up every episode by asking my guests this single question, and that is, what is your biggest help? That one most important piece of information you’d like somebody to walk away with after hearing our conversation today.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:31:42] I would say that if you are listening to this and going, "Oh, my gosh. I’m in Wonderhell too," I would say congratulations, because the only people who are visited by Wonderhell are the ones who I think are worthy of it. You don’t see a bigger, higher, better, different potential for you if you don’t have the intelligence and the creativity and the wherewithal to get yourself there. So, it may be stressful, but it’s also kind of exciting. And I would say lean into the wonder and less of the hell.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:32:17] I love it. Laura, tell us where people can learn more about you online and get their hands on Wonderhell.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:32:24] Yes. So, my name is Laura Gassner Otting. All my good friends call me LGO, so I am @heylgo on all the socials, H-E-Y-L-G-O. And if you’re interested in the book, it’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. If you want to support your local independent bookstore, go to bookshop.org. And it is out. It is available. And I’d love for you to pick up a copy and reach out to me on social and let me know what you think.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:32:48] Awesome. And we’ll have links to everything LGO in the show notes at thedailyhelping.com. Well, Laura, thank you so much for joining us back on the show. I loved our discussion.
Laura Gassner Otting: [00:32:58] Thank you so much, Dr. Richard. It was fun to be back.
Dr. Richard Shuster: [00:33:01] Absolutely. And I also want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who took time out of your day to check out the podcast. If you liked it, if you found the conversation interesting, go give us a follow on Apple Podcasts and leave us a five star review because that helps other people find the show. But most importantly, go out there today and do something nice for somebody else, even if you don’t know who they are, and post it in your social media feeds using the hashtag #MyDailyHelping, because the happiest people are those that help others.