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Episode 77

Finding Your Purpose & Limitless Potential featuring Laura Gassner Otting

Episode  77
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The pandemic has challenged many of us to dig deep and discover that we may have options and opportunities that we were too busy to recognize. 

Best Selling Author and Motivational Keynote speaker Laura Gassner Otting helped create the  AmeriCorps program under President Bill Clinton, and her new book Limitless aims to help you shape a future that is in better alignment with your true purpose. Laura joins us for an illuminating conversation. Plus Fritz and Weezy are digging deeper into Being The Ricardos on Prime and recommending Bathtubs Over Broadway on Netflix, 1883 on Paramount +, Don’t Look Up on Prime, and Licorice Pizza in theaters.

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Louise Palanker (00:00:07):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Louise Palanker.

Fritz Coleman (00:00:09):

And I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:10):

Hey, good news. You no longer have to ask your Twitter followers what you should be watching and reading next, because we are here and we have ideas and wonderful guests with ideas. So today we'll be talking with the Washington Post's bestselling author and motivational keynote speaker who helped shape the AmeriCorps program under President Bill Clinton. Laura Gasner, Oting, but first Fritz, what have you've been watching this? All

Fritz Coleman (00:00:33):

Right. I have a good one. Uh, uh, a lot of people have seen this. It's Don't look up the movie on Netflix. Yeah. It's the End of the World comedy, written and directed by Adam McKay, who wrote and direct advice and wrote Talladega Knights and wrote Anchorman, and this is funny, mostly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It's the story of Michigan State astronomy PhD candidate Kate Debowski, played by Jennifer Lawrence and her professor, Dr. Randall, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. They discover a comet that, according to their calculations, is gonna strike the earth in a little more than six months. As a matter of fact, they've analyzed it as an extinction level event, meaning curtains for planet Earth. Yes. The problem is they can't convince anybody in power of the seriousness of the situation, including the President of the United States, played by Meryl Streep to Trump-like perfection. Ultimately, the president gets on board with the danger because she sees how to make political and financial hay out of this impending threat.


I'm gonna stop there, but I can't say it ain't looking good for Mother Earth. <laugh> McKay said the movie is a metaphor for the climate apocalypse. You could also plug in the pandemic, and our current political situation is a metaphor. He set out to make an hilarious comedy. A and then suddenly the pandemic hit, and along with it, a big wave of Andy Science fervor. So he programmed that into the movie, and McKay got to wondering if he could balance absurdist comedy with the sadness of reality, and he pulls it off mostly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the best part of the movie is what McKay does best, satirizing modern life and politics and media, and the culture of fame and celebrity like he's done in all his other movies. But the rest is kind of whistling past the graveyard. It's thought-provoking, scary, but the thought-provoking was the obvious point. Meryl Streep is a killer president slash narcissist. Jonah Hill makes a fantastic chief of slash steep, of chief of staff slash asshole <laugh>, who you really, really dislike, but he's written beautifully, and so I recommend it. It's, it's not perfect, but it's needs to be discussed amongst your family.

Louise Palanker (00:02:50):

Yeah. It sounds like it's thought provoking and conversation inviting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, Fritz, have you watched on Netflix Bathtubs over Broadway?

Fritz Coleman (00:02:58):

Yes, I have.

Louise Palanker (00:02:59):

Yes. Okay. So, late Night with David Letterman, writer Steve Young was tasked with uncovering unique and quirky finds for a show segment called Dave's Record Collection. This mission led Steve directly down a rich and hidden rabbit hole, which is the world of industrial musicals. These are Broadway quality, lush, and extravagantly mounted productions designed to thrill and entertain members of a highly specific community, convening yearly in celebration of car parts or kitchen appliances, or the many in varied uses of silicone corporations such as General Electric, McDonald's, Ford, DuPont, and Xerox spend bundles on elaborate stagings and recordings of musical masterpieces with custom crafted lyrics extolling the virtues of dipping sauces and plumbing fixtures. Steve launches himself on a quest to uncover every industrial cast recording marked internal use only, and that journey leads him towards personal connections with the writers, composers and cast members who breathed life into these limited releases. Much of what makes this film so much fun is Steve's enthusiasm intersecting with the quirky richness of his passion, directed by David Wisen Bathtubs over Broadway features, David Letterman, Chee Rivera, Martin Short, jello Biafra, Don Bowles, Florence Henderson, Susan Stroman, and some exquisitely designed faucets and shut off valves. You will find bathtubs over Broadway on Netflix.

Fritz Coleman (00:04:28):

I love this movie, but not for the reason it was made. Okay. I love the Subplot, which was, it was the final days of David Letterman being on the air. Oh, that was, and Steve had been his writer, maybe the head monologue writer for 25 years, and it was so poignant, and, you know, he's going through the trash looking for memorabilia to take with him on his way out the door. And, and, and he's a classic writer. He's very quiet, uh, well chosen words, not, you know, uh, not a powerful presence in the room, but he's the classic comedy writer, which is, you know, his mind is turning a mile a minute,

Louise Palanker (00:05:07):

Constantly exceedingly dry.

Fritz Coleman (00:05:08):

I, I just love to, to be a big shot about it.

Louise Palanker (00:05:10):

It was really good, and I think it's really cool that Dave let them film in those final days.

Fritz Coleman (00:05:13):

Yes. Well, Dave, Dave was executive producer. I think he probably financed the film, so, yeah. Anyway, I'm gonna do, uh, what is all the hot topic this week in movies, licorice Pizza, only in theaters right now? I saw it at The Laley. It's the latest movie from Paul Thomas Anderson. Nobody has ever captured life in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, better than Paul Thomas Anderson, like he did with Magnolia, which I didn't understand, but I love the Visuals Boogie Knights and now, licorice Pizza. Licorice Pizza is the name of a now defunct chain of record stores in Southern California. And Anderson says he chose that name because licorice pizza conjures up memories of growing up in one of the most iconic suburbs in America. The San Fernando Valley, which as you may remember, was the inspiration for Valley Girls by Moon Zappa. This is basically a coming of age comedy drama set in 1973 Encino. It's a lot of things. It's a misma, it stars Alana Ham Heim. Help me, Hamme Ham Hamme. It's the Hamme sisters who have rock hits, and they, they have a big cult following, and they're all in the

Louise Palanker (00:06:20):

Movie Ham Sisters, you know's the Israeli Hamme sisters and the American Haim

Fritz Coleman (00:06:24):

Sisters. I think this is the American Hamme sisters. Okay. But they're Jewish, and that's part of the topic addressed in the movie her costars, Cooper Hoffman, who is the son of deceased, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who was a frequent collaborator with Paul Thomas Anderson. I gotta tell you, these two unskilled actors, first time actors, uh, Alana and, and Cooper were spectacular, very believable. Also in the movie, Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn singer, Tom Waits Cooper as Gary Valentine and Hamme as Alana Kain start his friends, then turn to business partners, then turn a, uh, turn to co-conspirators, and they end up in a relationship. There's a glitch. She's 25, he's only 15. Whoa. And the relation, and, and that's part of, there, there, there's some controversies stirring about this movie for that exact reason. True, the relationship goes from volatile to tender and back again, Valentine is a fairly successful child actor turned waterbed, company owner turned pinball arcade owner Kane decides she wants to try her hand at acting, and ends up cast as Sean Penn's co-star in a movie.


And they both interact with Tom Waits in a reenactment of one of Penn's characters in old movies. And she then volunteers for the mayoral campaign of City Councilman Joel Wax, who is a real LA city councilman. One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Valentine's and his assistants install a waterbed at the home of Fayne movie producer, John Peters, who again, is a very real person. The plot bounces all over the place. What seems puzzling, and it seems confusing until you learn that most of the scenarios are based on reality. And I'll explain that and that'll be done in 2001. Anderson was walking by an elementary school and encountered a student nagging a female photographer that was a lot older than him. That's where the idea occurred to Anderson, to have a relationship bloom between a teenager and a woman 10 years older. The additional stories were from the life of Anderson's friend, and you may know this person, um, Wei, Gary Getman, who was a child actor Yes. That played in yours, mine, and ours with Luci Ball. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. He also started a waterbed company and opened a pinball arcade <laugh>. So Getman also actually delivered a waterbed to the home of producer John Peters. All that to say this weird series of surreal circumstances is based on reality. When I found that out, I like the movie even more. It's very, I have lived in the San Fernando Valley for 40 years, raised all my kids here, so the locations pulled at my heart.

Louise Palanker (00:09:01):

Well, if you think of the subplot of any given day of any given person, that's what it's like. Nothing. You know, they don't layer nicely the way they do.

Fritz Coleman (00:09:10):

No. And the anxiety between these two, even though you know, you, you, you forget that there's the big age difference, the anxiety when they fight and then, and they're, they're critical of one another, and then they love each other and they can't get along without each other is very, very real. So the reality of the relationship is wonderful. But you might have a problem with 25 15,

Louise Palanker (00:09:29):

I think it's sounds like a movie. Yes, of course. I mean, that's completely illegal, but it sounds like a movie that you watch more than once, and now that you know more, you see more. Yes.

Fritz Coleman (00:09:37):

Yeah. And there are great scenes from the Valley on Magnolia Boulevard in front of the Outport Hall Theater where I've performed. It was fantastic.

Louise Palanker (00:09:43):

Well, I've been watching 1883

Fritz Coleman (00:09:46):

On par. I can't wait to see that. I haven't

Louise Palanker (00:09:48):

Seen, so you know about this. It's a prequel to Yellowstone 1883 Fellows, the Dutton family, as they flee poverty in Texas and embark on a wagon train odyssey across the Great Plain, seeking a better future in Montana, real life couple. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Star is James and Margaret Dutton with Sam Elliot as Shea Brennan, a tough cowboy clouded by personal grief. The Dutton's daughter Elsa, played by Isabel May provides the hauntingly beautiful journal like Narration. The cast also includes Billy Bob Thornton with a cameo by Tom Hanks in a heartbreaking Civil War flashback Earn It Moment, which had me saying aloud that dude is super hanksy, which turned out to be because he was Tom Hanks

Fritz Coleman (00:10:28):


Louise Palanker (00:10:30):

This series inspires the question, are Tim McGraw and Faith Hill better actors than they are musicians? It's a close call. <laugh>. There are moments where, you know, they won't, but hope they will break into a chorus of just to hear you say that you love me. And maybe they will when they at Long Last Reach Montana after a two episode premiere Paramount. Plus it's dropping a new episode every Sunday.

Fritz Coleman (00:10:50):

Love 'em. Love Yellowstone. Can't wait to see 1883.

Louise Palanker (00:10:54):

Yeah, it's really good. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm enjoying it. So I thought maybe we could talk. Well, let's just put it this way. Many Christmas revelers spent the holiday covid testing Santa and watching being the Ricardo's.

Fritz Coleman (00:11:05):

They really

Louise Palanker (00:11:05):

Did. It's becoming a new Christmas tradition. It blew up. So it's from Aaron Sorkin and I, I mean, you watched the movie. I watched the movie. We had mentioned it before, but I thought maybe we could sort of talk about all of the various themes that are explored in a film that takes place in the 1950s, because I loved Nina Ariana as Vivian Vance, JK Simmons as William Fraley and Aaliyah Chak as writer Marilyn Pu Lucy. Historians such as myself, had long heard tales of Lucy's interest in keeping Viv a little heavier and less attractive. We have also heard about Viv feeling hurt when William Fraley, an older looking fellow, was cast as her husband. This film puts human faces on these legends in heartfelt, thoughtful conversations, which really help us understand the point of view of each player. These four people are the Beatles of sitcoms, and Sorkin brings them to life, blending their affection for one another with the inherent tension and jeopardy of their moment on that mountaintop and the history they were creating together.

Fritz Coleman (00:12:03):

Well said, I I love it for a multitude of reasons. Yeah. First of all, Aaron Sorkin's the best writer in movies and television. Yes. He, he makes everything crackle. I just love him so much. Second of all, even though Lucci Ball's an iconic character, I knew none of the facts portrayed in this one week of time when this show was really hot. I didn't know she was accused of being a communist. What I really loved about it was that she was the driving force behind a lot of the physical comedy. She had these brain, you know, uh, aneurysms at three o'clock in the morning and got, and got the cast to come into rehearsal. She was, she had the sense of the physical comedy at what worked and what didn't work, which was fantastic. I never knew that she benefited from the writers and her relationship with the female writers.


Really an interesting part of the movie. But I love the fact that she was sort of the arbiter of the, of the, uh, physical comedy in it. And I love the fact that they, uh, uh, cast two very, very, um, off reality actors to play these parts. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, because you're thinking, uh, oh, she's an Aussie. Is she gonna be able to pull this off? Well, after you get past the point where, uh, oh, it's not a cartoon, it's just a suggestion of her physical aspects in her and her character. They were beautiful. And, uh, I also love the fact that, uh, Sorkin was criticized for not using a real Cuban actor. He said, I used the Spanish actor. He said, how do you cast Cuban? How do you tell somebody no, make the character more Cuban? There's no way to do that. He said, I, that's why I disagree with these casting times that we're going through. Now, if you have a good actor who's playing a gay character, and people get mad because you're not using a gay actor, how do you act gay if there's no homosexual sex in the movie? How do you get a person to act more gay or act more Ukrainian? You don't you, if it's a good actor, pull the thing off. And if it represents whatever you're doing, that's,

Louise Palanker (00:14:07):

I mean, it is acting. And so our best American actors are Australian, and we've stopped complaining about that a long time ago.

Fritz Coleman (00:14:12):

Yeah. No, it's English Australian, and then the

Louise Palanker (00:14:14):

Rest. So Nicole Kidman as Lucy, the only thing people complained about was, you know, it's not Deborah messing, but they never said a word about her being Australian. So why can't a guy from wherever Javier, where is he

Fritz Coleman (00:14:25):

From? Yeah. Uh, he's, uh, I think he's Mexican. Isn't he Spanish? He

Louise Palanker (00:14:28):

Spanish. That isn't Cuba. But he looks exactly like,

Fritz Coleman (00:14:31):

Yes, he plays the car and she was great. She had the quality of the voice. Oh yeah. The look. And, and as soon as you put aside that it's not a, you know, it's not a, a direct cartoon, then you, you realize they did a spectacular job.

Louise Palanker (00:14:44):

Well, what they were depicting was they were playing the human beings who weren't the Lucy and Ricky that we see on tv. Right. They were playing the human beings that you see on the set and in their daily lives and in their home, and their backstory and how they met and all that. And those human beings were very vividly portrayed and brought to life. Yeah. Because Lu, you know, when you're Lucille Ball or Steve Martin, you don't walk around funny all the time. I mean, you and I do, but you know, we're that exception. So yeah. So it's like, wow. What, what must that have been like to be,

Fritz Coleman (00:15:15):

That was the conflict. It was the human conflict in their relationship with them and the networks and them and Philip Morris. And, but

Louise Palanker (00:15:21):

Against all odds, they brought this to the screen. Nobody wanted Dessie in it in the first place. No one wanted Lucy to have a sitcom in the first place, place. She proved herself and then they were the thing that everyone saw that night. We, our Attention will never be that focused again. Mm-hmm.

Fritz Coleman (00:15:36):

<affirmative>. Yeah,

Louise Palanker (00:15:37):

That was a singular

Fritz Coleman (00:15:38):

One, 6 million viewers in one night, or some hideous number there. Crazy. But it was really beautiful. It was about female empowerment. She was very powerful. And it was also a female allowing her husband to be powerful so that he didn't feel dissed in the whole situation. It was a lot of power dynamics in a relationship, which I really found interesting. It

Louise Palanker (00:15:56):

Was interesting, but also disturbing that women probably still feel that in order to save their marriage, they have to help their husband feel more powerful. But that's another conversation for another day. I'm gonna introduce our guest cuz she's just that wonderful. So we're gonna introduce Laura Gasner Otting, Washington post's bestselling author and motivational keynote speaker Laura Gasner. Otting inspires people to push past the doubt and indecision that keeps great ideas in limbo. Laura delivers strategic thinking, well honed wisdom and perspective generated by decades of navigating change across the startup, nonprofit, political and philanthropic landscapes. Honing her entrepreneurial edge over a 25 year career, which began as a presidential appointee in Bill Clinton's White House, where she helped shape AmeriCorps. She left a nonprofit leadership role at Isaacson Miller to expand the startup exec Laura also founded and ran the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, which partnered with the full gamut of mission-driven nonprofit executives from startup Dreamers to scaling social entrepreneurs to global philanthropists. In 2015, Laura sold N P A G to the team that helped her build it to serve on Hillary Clinton's National Finance Committee. Her subsequent TED Talk, how Can I Help, became so popular that it launched a speaking career. Laura has now spoken across the United States and internationally to university's companies, conferences, accelerators, TEDx, and the US military. She is the author of Mission Driven, moving From Profit to Purpose, and The Washington Post Bestseller Limitless. How to Ignore Everybody, carve Your Own Path and Live Your Best Life. Please welcome Laura Gassner Otting. How are you?

Laura Ganer Otting (00:17:34):

Hello. I'm good. I've enjoyed listening to all the suggestions. I can't wait to finish this and go watch some TV

Louise Palanker (00:17:41):

<laugh>. Well, you don't have to take notes cuz it's on a podcasting. You can just roll it back to the beginning, <laugh>, and that's the beauty of Pause and podcasting. So, I listening to your book, and I love the way you narrate your book. So if you, if you're those who feel more inspired by audio learning, then there's an audio version of her book and you use the term consonants. That seems to be a theme. I hadn't heard that term used so frequently, but it seems to be sort of the essence of what you feel that people should be striving towards. Can you explain?

Laura Ganer Otting (00:18:11):

Yeah. So over the course of 20 years of interviewing thousands of people who were very successful in their careers, right? You have to remember, as a re retained executive recruiter, my job was to call the most successful people on the planet and try to convince them to turn their lives upside down, to go take another job somewhere across the world, usually leaving a job, uprooting a family, you know, moving kids across the country. And, and it sounds like it's a really hard job, right? Like, you have to call super successful people and talk 'em into leaving or calling them about a job they'd never heard of before in an organization they may not know a company, they may not know, certainly a head hunter. They didn't know. And the truth is that the job wasn't actually all that hard because what I learned in 20 years of doing this is that despite all that success on paper mm-hmm. <affirmative>


People really weren't all that happy in life. And what I realized was that success didn't always equal happiness. And I was fascinated by this idea. And I started thinking about the handful of people that I wasn't actually able to recruit away. And I started thinking about my own career dropping out of law school and joining a presidential campaign, leaving a presidential administration partway through. Nobody ever does that to join an executive search firm. Having my Jerry McGuire moment and leaving that to start my own thing, and then selling that when I could just like, you know, hang out and ride off into the sunset, mailing it in for the next 20 years. And what I realized was that at every step of the way, I also had success. I had the success on paper that if anybody looked at my life, they would say, everything's perfect.


Check, check, check, check, check. You did it all. And what I came to realize was that success is nothing thing that brings us happiness. It's what I learned was consonance. And consonance is this alignment, this flow. It's, you know, Louise, when, when the, you know, those moments, when the very best of what you do, like you're being asked to do something that is calling upon the very best of what you do. And it's to solve a problem you actually care about. And you're being rewarded for solving that problem in some way that is personally, financially karmically meaningful to you. Those are the moments when you can do anything. You can jump over buildings, you can walk through fire, you can, you know, leap over, you know, over, over, over oceans. You're in consonance, you are doing, you are, when what you do matches who you are. And you can do anything. And what I realized was that success isn't the thing that we should be pursuing, but it's this idea of consonance. And so I wrote a book about it.

Fritz Coleman (00:20:35):

You have a lot of, um, I'll say, uh, many mantras in in your writing and in your speeches, Laura. And, and one of the recurring themes is self-doubt. And that pushing past doubt and and doubt seems to be the greatest speed bump to an individual success. Talk about the importance of conquering yourself doubt.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:20:59):

Well, so I think that there are a lot of, there are a lot of things. I mean, you know, the book is called Limitless, how to Ignore Everybody, carve Your Own Path and Live Your Best Life. And, you know, it's a little bit of a, of, of a, of a, um, hyperbolic, uh, subtitle, right? How to ignore everybody. Should You Really Ignore Everybody? I don't know. But I think what happens, for instance, that along the way we have these ideas, we have these dreams, we have these goals, and you know, you run to somebody in line at Starbucks and you tell 'em your big hairy, scary idea, and they look at you and they're like, Ooh, I don't know. Are you sure you should do that? I don't know if you can do that. That's really scary. And what they're really thinking is, Ooh, I don't know if I should do that.


I'm too scared. And then we start doubting ourselves. We start wondering, is this not the right dream? Is it too big? Is it too audacious? Can I really do it? What if I get hurt? What if I fail? What if people look? And so I think that there is a role for doubt, right? Like there's, there, there's a role for it. There's a, there's a, a line in the book where I say, failure is not finale, it's fulcrum. It's the place where you learn and you grow and you, and you iterate and you innovate. And the very first time I gave the talk, um, that is, that's based on the book, the keynote, based on the book, I said, failure's not finale, it's fulcrum. And then I looked down at stage left, and there was an astronaut like Commander Tim Cobra of nasa, who's been on three space walks. And I was like, failure's not finale. It's fulcrum except for you <laugh>, sir,

Fritz Coleman (00:22:24):


Laura Ganer Otting (00:22:26):

Except for you, for you failure would most definitely be finale, but for the rest of us <laugh>, right? Like, nobody's paying that much attention. So yes, there is a role for doubt in your life if you're an astronaut, but for the rest of us, right? I, that's really where you figure things out. And I think, you know, we, we are all so weighed down about this idea that like, somebody's gonna see me, I'm gonna fail. It's gonna be embarrassing. But my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote is this, is this one. You would worry much less about what other people thought about you if you realized how seldomly they did. Right? Nobody cares. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? Nobody's paying attention. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think doubt's, okay, doubt's like where you dive in deep and you figure things out and you answer your questions and you gather data. But I think way that where we let doubt trip us up is where we think A, we could have a complete data set. Like, you're never gonna have all the answers. And B, if you let other people determine whether or not you should move forward

Louise Palanker (00:23:26):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, I, I think I, I am picturing while, while you're talking, I'm picturing that I used to take my nephew out to these rocks and with his friends, and he would just jump, like from rock to rock to rock very fluidly. His friends were more careful, and he used to say, don't think jump. And I thought for him, that comes naturally. And it feels like for you career-wise, that came very naturally. Whenever there was another rock to jump to, you just jumped and you didn't give a lot of thought because you had a lot of confidence in your capabilities. But you must be a lot, uh, advising a lot of people that don't have those instincts and have jeopardy. That's not just embarrassment. It's also kids and it's, it's financial and it's a whole, like, you must hear pushback from people who are just by nature more cautious. So how do you help them?

Laura Ganer Otting (00:24:17):

Well, I, I would say, I, I would actually push back politely on the premise of your question, which is that I, I, I was filled with insecurities and, and lacking confidence and uncertainty and doubt and all of it. I mean, I dropped out of law school because I heard somebody talk about this idea that inspired me so much I couldn't look back, right? This idea of service in exchange for college tuition. And I thought, oh my God, that needs to happen. Let's make that happen. And I was so inspired, but I will also tell you behind me was flunking out of law school, right? I was getting straight D's. So I don't know that I had much choice. Sometimes you just move forward because what's ahead of you is better than what's behind you. Um, in other cases, there were moments where I said, look, there is a need to make number and a want to make number.


And I know that I could leave this company and I can start this business because I know that I have enough business in my back pocket that I'll hit my need to make number. And then in between the need to make number and the want to make number are all the things that you sacrificed, right? Like, maybe we won't go out to any fancy restaurants for the next year. Maybe we won't take any vacations. Um, maybe, you know, I'm, I'm, I, you know, I'll, I'll send my kids to, you know, the, the, you know, the, the, the local public preschool as opposed to paying, you know, paying for the private one where they teach them, you know, Mandarin or like, whatever the things are. So I think that there are things that you have to decide along the way, but a lot of times we make those decisions not because everything in front of us is magical if we make those decisions, because what's behind us doesn't really work.


When I left that company to start my own, I, I had, I had come to this moment of realization that the job I thought I was doing wasn't the job I thought I was doing. Mm-hmm. So I was there, um, on behalf of the search firm where I worked to help my clients, which were all mission-driven, non-profit organizations, cure cancer and feed the homeless and, and reverse climate change and all these amazing, incredible things. But what I realized was that the way that the business model was created was that we got paid one third of the first year's cash compensation of anybody placed, which meant that the positions that paid the most money, right? Chief strategy officers, a big giant foundation, were gonna give us much bigger fees than the domestic violence shelters, um, uh, head of, uh, fundraising. Now, I can tell you that the head of fundraising for the domestic violence shelter was a much more important role in that organization, and that Monday was gonna be missed much more than that giant foundation.


Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I realized one day that I thought I was part of the solution, which was finding talent for all these organizations, but really I was giving my last 5% of energy and effort every single day to the clients that I thought needed me the most. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because that's how I was incentivized by the person paying my salary. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I walked into my boss's office one day and I was like, there's a better way. Here's the plan, let's do it this way. And I had a whole, um, redesign of the business model, and I was like, here's the boo, here's the way. And he was like, there's the door, right? <laugh>, like, you can either keep doing things our way and you're good, so we'd love to keep you, but yeah, if you don't like that, you should leave and do it your way. And Louise, I got to that moment where I realized that I wasn't part of the solution, which leaves you in only one place, which is that you're part of the problem. And for some of us, that's a tenable place to be. But for most of it, it begins to feel a little bit like organ rejection. Like you can't stay in a position where you know, you're not doing the very thing you came to do. And so you start to think, well, what else can I sacrifice so that I can make that leap because I need to, I have to. I cannot, this job will not, this is not who I am and what I wanna

Louise Palanker (00:27:56):

Be. When you look around right now in government, especially, this is visible to us. You know, you see a lot of people who are somehow rationalizing some really bad turns in what they had maybe initially set out to do. But the, the culture has changed to expect something of us that we're not. And I, I think ultimately that makes us unwell as humans and as a society. And so, I, I think what you did is really, really bold and really brave and really healthy.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:28:28):

Yeah. And I think that happens to a lot of people. I mean, in the beginning of this podcast, Fritz mentioned, don't look up. And I also watched it over Christmas and then didn't sleep that night because it was, you know, it was haha funny, not so much, right. It was a little too real. Um, but, but, you know, but the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio starts off in one way, and then he gets excited and attracted and, and, and, and, um, rude by the attention and the media and the power and all of the stuff. And I'm not gonna spoil it, but you know, you, you, you, he, he woke up one day and looked around and had to have that conversation with himself. And I think that the pandemic has done that for a lot of us. I think a lot of us woke up at some point over the last two years and asked ourselves this question, when life goes back to normal, is the normal, I'm going back to really the life I want.


Mm. And so a lot of us have made decisions and changes and you know, for some people it may be not seeing certain people anymore that they've, you know, unfortunately learned way too much about on social media and their willingness to believe in science or not. Right? And for others of us, it's thinking about whether or not their job really fulfills them. You know, one of the things that I write about in the book is that we have this idea that the only jobs, the purpose are jobs of service. And service can only be real a bit sacrifice. And, and I can tell you this as an unimpeachable source of somebody who spent 20 years putting people in positions that were purpose driven and mission driven, that for a lot of people, your purpose is just making enough money to get out of debt so your children can make different decisions than you had to make.


Or maybe your purpose is buying a beach house in a Maserati, or maybe your purpose is, you know, leaving everything at work so you can be home at five o'clock every night and have dinner with your kids. All of us have different purposes. And one of the things that I write about in the book is that your purpose is only your purpose. It doesn't have to be anybody else's. And the problem is that we start giving votes in our lives to people who shouldn't have voices. And I think the pandemic has been a moment of clarity for a lot of people about whose voices really should matter and whose voices we need to just push away.

Fritz Coleman (00:30:32):

Do, do you find that during the pandemic people became a little more introspective than they were before and required the knowledge and wisdom and suggestions that you offer in your book a little more than they may in non pandemic times? It just seems like it would be a great time for people to absorb what you have to offer.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:30:50):

Well, I think what I write about in the book is I give people a, a bit of a structure, right? Because it feels very overwhelming. Like, well, if, if success, right? If somebody handed me a, a, a definition of what makes a good job good in high school or in college, or whenever, isn't that what it should be? Right? Like, isn't it how much money you make and who is your boss? And, uh, what's the mission of your company? Or how many skills am I gonna acquire? How prestigious will this job look on my resume when I look for the next job? Right? They're all those things that we were told early on were the things that we should look for. And by the way, we were told that when we were 15, 16, 17 years old, right? Pick a trade, pick a path, pick a major, pick a college, pick a career, pick a job.


Like those were the things we were told to do. I mean, don't you remember that in high school, we all mm-hmm. <affirmative> sat down and we all took like the ASVAB test that told us, you know, and told me I'd be a good firefighter. Right? But we all took those tests that told us what kind of skills we'd have, and then we sat down with a college counselor or a trade school counselor or somebody who said, okay, here's the applications, fill them out and go. And every one of us said, okay, I guess that's who I am. I guess that's what I'm gonna be. And what I have come to realize, um, even more so now that I have a 15 and a 17 year old, my own, or sorry, 17 and 19 year old, my own, is that the one thing that we're missing at that age is a frontal lobe, like the actual part of our brain that dictates good sound decision making.


And yet we're asked to make the decisions that are literally going to affect the very rest of our lives when we do not have the capacity mm-hmm. <affirmative> to make a good one. Like, we don't have that part of our brain that says, here's how you make a good decision. When we're asked to make the decision that's going to create the pathway for the very rest of our lives. And so, is it any wonder that people wake up, you know, and have a midlife crisis or at this point a pandemic crisis and go like, is this all there is really this all I'm here for mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I mean, I personally had a lot of revelations on my own in the pandemic, and I wrote a whole book that had already described this. So, you know, I think, I think nobody is immune to it. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (00:32:54):

<affirmative>, right? Talk about the four Cs that you mentioned in your book.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:32:59):

Yeah. So, um, consonance is basically made up of four things. So you mentioned I'm a motivational speaker, so it's gotta have, they all gotta start with C, right? <laugh>, it's gotta have a little, it's gotta have a little, a little organization to it. So there's four. The first is connection, or sorry, the, sorry, the first is calling and calling, uh, is about that question of purpose, right? Like, what is that gravitational force that gets you up in the morning? What is the thing you wanna do? The business, you wanna build the leader who inspires you? Uh, the bottom line that you wanna grow, the, the, the, you know, the, the community issue that you wanna solve. Maybe it's the family you wanna nurture, right? It can be paid work or unpaid work, but what is that calling that you have in life? The second piece is connection.


And connection really answers the question, does your work actually matter? Right? Like, if you called in sick tomorrow, can anybody notice? Did anybody care? Does the work you're doing on a daily basis actually connect to that calling that you wanna serve? The third piece is contribution. So while connection's all about the work contribution's really about you, how does this work contribute to your life? How does this job, this brand, this paycheck, the work that you're doing, contribute to the kind of life that you wanna live, the lifestyle you'd like to have, the career trajectory that you'd like to, um, that you'd like to build, the values that you wanna demonstrate on a, on a, on a daily basis. How does this work contribute to the person that you wanna be? And then lastly is control. And control really answers the question of do you have any agency whatsoever?


Right? Do you have any say in the teams to which you're assigned at work? How much hustle, uh, uh, uh, goals? How much money that you make, the metrics by which you are, uh, going to be assessed at the end of the year. How much control do you have over how much your work connects to that calling and how much it contributes to your life? And here's the thing, you don't have to have all a hundred percent of all four of these things at every age and at every life stage we want. And we need different amounts. So when I was 21 years old, dropping out of law school and joining that presidential campaign, I had so much calling, I had calling out the wazu, right? I was inspired by the leader. I was inspired by the idea. It was, you know, I was young and naive and optimistic, and anything was possible.


Did I have connection? No. I was getting the coffee for the guy who got the coffee for the guy who got the coffee, right? Did I have any contribution? I don't know. I was getting paid in all the ramen soup and idealism. I could eat <laugh>, but if this guy won, could be kind of a cool career trajectory, right? Maybe there'd be an opportunity, who knows. And then control, no, was I gonna be in Des Moines or Dubuque on any given day? Didn't matter. I went to wherever they sent me. Now I'm 50. I've got, you know, two teenage kids, one's in high school. I've got a husband with a busy career. I need a whole lot more co control right now in the work that I'm doing. I need to actually be able to know where I am every single day and plan for things.


Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, you know, I, I need my work to contribute, but I'm sort of going from the, the, the age of I need to maximize income to like, I need to have enough income, but I also wanna start maximizing legacy, right? Like, I'm sort of in this place where I'm thinking about maybe the chapter after the next chapter, going back then to connection. You know, it's gotta matter. I'm, I have spent a lot of years of my life doing the, the, the easy check off the list work that doesn't actually move big projects forward. And now I've gotta make sure I'm actually spending my time in good ways. And then in terms of calling, I'm an entrepreneur, so I get to, you know, set my own my own purpose every single day. But it's, each one of us is going to have a different definition of continents and how much calling connection and contribution and control you want.


But also each of us individually at every agent, at every life stage will also have a different definition. And that counselor who we talked to when we were 17 years old, giving us a definition of what makes a good job good, didn't actually have us prioritize that list in this way to understand what makes a good job good for you. And so that's really the missing piece that I'm trying to answer with my book, limitless, is to help people understand what do they want at this moment in time, and what do they need to do to change themselves, their career or their workplace to get to a, a a, a place where they can feel like they're much more incontinence with everything happening in their lives.

Fritz Coleman (00:37:15):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, as an adjunct to that, uh, I, I watched your TED talk and it really resonated with me because I'm in involved now that I'm retired for my other job, uh, heavily in the nonprofit world. It's everything I do during the day. And, and you made a, a really interesting point in there that, uh, you, you have to stop asking, how can I help? And I thought this is such a great piece of advice for people in the nonprofit world because the, uh, entry level and mid-level employees in a nonprofit organization never make as much money as their worth. So if they remind themselves, uh, about the mission, you, you, your recommendation is look at the mission. Why are you here? What, what, as you suggested, makes you get up in the morning and want to come and give your life to this. If you keep the the end mission in your mind, that is the eyes on the prize, you will be much more successful then worrying about the nuts and bolts, uh, of daily life and how much you're not making, and just keep reminding yourself of what drew you to the mission in the first place.


I just thought that was a great piece of advice, particularly with people who, you know, are, are using a lot of their talent for not as much money as they might be worth in the private sector.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:38:33):

Yeah. I mean, that's a really interesting interpretation of it. I I didn't intend it for, um, nonprofit workers to, to be satisfied that they were not making as much, frankly, I, I, I said it to people that are donating to nonprofits to get them to give more <laugh> so that nonprofit workers could actually make what they're, what they are worth. You know, I just woke up, um, one day just so frustrated that yet another tragedy happened and people were sending teddy bears, right? I just, I talk in the, I i, I talk in the talk about how when a gunman 20 children in six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 67,000 teddy bears to descend in on the town of Newtown, Connecticut, right? There are only 25,000 people who actually live in the town of Newtown, Connecticut, right? Let alone schoolchildren, right? But mm-hmm. <affirmative>, 67,000 teddy bears.


It's enough to fill an entire high school gymnasium or an Olympic size swimming pool three times over. And yet every time something happens, we say, oh my God, that was terrible. We ask ourselves, how can I help? And then we send daddy bears and I talk in the talk about sending, you know, gallons of milk to, to, to Japan after typhoon ha uh, haan. I mean, the Japanese historically do not consume a lot of dairy. And, you know, all of the winter coats that got sent to Haiti after the earthquake, I mean, it's insane. We ask ourselves, how can we help? And we just, all we do is we solve the problem of our own egos need to help. We just, we, we check a box, we send something, it doesn't make a difference whatsoever. And then there's another tragedy and we go, oh my God, that was terrible.


How can I help? And we do the same thing over and over again. And so in the talk, I'm, I'm sort of, uh, righteously, indignant <laugh> about the idea that there's a better question to ask, which is what needs to happen. And actually, it's, it's sort of interesting because throughout my career, that's really been the thing that's driven me to make the changes that I've made along the way, is that when I found myself asking how can I help and not what needs to happen, I've sort of found myself getting increasingly closer to the center of the problem, the defining it by what I was able to bring to it, as opposed to asking how can I help? And figuring out if there were better people who could be better suited that I could help either fund or train or, um, amplify or whatever the things were that I could do that the problem needed versus my own ego wanting to be there, you know, right in the middle of all the things.

Louise Palanker (00:40:50):

Hmm. Yeah. That's, that there's a lot of, so you're saying there's a lot of ego involved in our, our charitable instincts that we don't, we we don't. Maybe just Yeah. And it's not, yeah, go ahead.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:41:00):

And, and, and it's not a bad thing. I mean, look, wanting to send a teddy bear comes from the greatest place inside of us, right? It's like donating a, a plain of blood or giving money for a bed and a home of shelter. Like it comes from the best part of our humanity is the surest sign that we are actually all gonna be okay. That I know. And yet it actually doesn't do anything to solve the problem. Like, if we sat for a second and we thought, okay, the money that it takes to, to, to buy and ship and store and distribute, and then eventually incinerate all of these teddy bears, like, what? Everything happens to 67,000 teddy bears, they end up getting incinerated, right? All the milk goes bad. The winter coats that they don't wear in Haiti, like, what happens to them? They can't afford to ship them back. They get incinerated. So the money that all this takes could be better used for so many other things. Like think about if, if we took the money that was, um, and I'm gonna get political here for a second, but I've heard your show before, and I know that you have gotten political, so <laugh> Yeah,

Fritz Coleman (00:42:00):

We've gone our

Laura Ganer Otting (00:42:00):

Way. But look, if we took the Yeah, yeah. I mean, if you, if you took the money that was spent to, to, to, to buy a shit store and, and distribute, you could, you could, you could, you could fund lobbying to get rid of the nra, right? I mean, the amount of money that we are wasting not solving the problem because we're asking ourselves the wrong question. It's not like anybody who's sending a teddy bear or giving a pint of blood or, or, or donating it, a jacket doesn't wanna help. We just aren't helping. We're not, we're just, what happens that we are confusing? We are confusing. Action for impact. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you know, this goes back to one of the CS of consonants connection. If you look at your daily schedule, if you look at your to-do list, if you look at what's in your calendar, like what, what's in there?


And we have this idea that getting to inbox zero is an accomplishment. Like, you're gonna be successful, you have to inbox zero. But like, unless your job is inbox zero getter, like <laugh>, you're not successful. You're not being successful in your job, you're just busy. You're, there's action, but there's no impact. And so, you know, I want people, when they're asking themselves that question, when life goes back to normal, is the normal, I'm going back to really the life I want to ask themselves. Like, how are you spending your time? Is it action or is it impact? And if it's impact, what does it impact? What does it impact towards? And is it impact towards the calling you actually care about? And is that contributing to the life that you wanna live? Right? Like, these are the questions I think, I think there's no better time for us to be asking these questions. Mm-hmm.

Fritz Coleman (00:43:31):

<affirmative>, I think this is fantastic information. So would you say that nonprofits small, medium, and large are not marketing themselves properly? Like, isn't it their responsibility to say what kind of help they need to solve the problem instead of go to click donate when you go to their website or something like that?

Louise Palanker (00:43:50):

Or someone online coming up with the idea of teddy bears and everybody loving it and running with it instead. Like if you donate to the Red Cross, you know, you're really helping.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:43:59):

No, I think this is the, you wanna know what the problem is? Yeah. I think the problem is that nobody wants to go to a dinner party and say, I funded one third of an IT guy's salary. Yay. Yeah. They wanna go to a dinner party and show kids with flies and eyes. They wanna go to a, a Facebook and show a picture of themselves wrapped in, you know, black and brown children that are poor, right? It makes them feel good. It's sexy. It's fashion, philanthropy, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, nobody wants to say, I funded an assessment to determine whether or not the program that you know, is, you know, operating in one school is actually working and, and, and so that we can scale it across the world. No, they wanna say, I funded the scaling across the world, right? People wanna fund the sexy shit.


They don't wanna fund the stuff that actually works. They don't wanna fund overhead. And you know what? My job as a head hunter, my job was to find the most successful people that can help that organization scale, grow, impact, do incredible amazing things, and change the world. And yet my fee was overhead. Nobody wants to say I funded a head hunter, but they wanna say, we've got the greatest executive director of all time. Right? So I think the problem isn't that nonprofits aren't able to communicate. It's that donors don't wanna hear it. Donors wanna go and say, I did a, you know, teddy bear drive in my Tony suburb. Isn't that wonderful?

Louise Palanker (00:45:20):

That's really

Laura Ganer Otting (00:45:21):

Interesting. They wanna write a check in

Louise Palanker (00:45:23):

Silence. If they give enough money, you can just Photoshop their head on a bunch of kids with teddy bears and there you go.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:45:29):

Exactly. Frame it. Exactly. So, you know, I I, I talk to a lot of nonprofit executive directors and I, I sort of counsel them because they're like, well, what do I do? Right? Somebody comes to me, they wanna have this, you know, Teddy bear drive, what do I do? I can't say no. So I say, you know what? Let them have the teddy bear drive and use that as the entry drug right's, the gateway drug. You get them excited, you get them interested, they do the teddy bear drive. Then they come for a site visit, they bring all the rich friends for a site visit, and slowly you start helping them understand what it actually takes to run this organization. Mm. Like in order to put the teddy bearer in the hand of the kid and be this little shiny ray of hope that we want the teddy bear to be, there's all this other stuff that has to happen first, right? Yeah. There's, there's, there's, there's, there's, there's finding the building, there's, there's painting the classrooms, there's finding the teachers and training them. There's all the things that you have to do to understand how to make this, whatever foster shelter work before the kid gets handed the teddy bear, right? So you bring them in, you show it to them, and you help them understand what it actually takes. And you be, you, you turn them into allies and not just supporters. That

Louise Palanker (00:46:37):

Is really interesting. I love that. Because, you know, everyone watches Oprah go to Africa with soccer balls. She get the, you see the face of a happy child. That's kind of what we're all going for, right? So, yes. It's just hard.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:46:51):

And then she leaves

Louise Palanker (00:46:52):

And then she leaves and like, what else has happened here? What happens? Yeah, exactly.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:46:56):

Right. Right. And, you know, no shade to Oprah. Like that's great. She's done incredible work building, you know, schools, schools and

Louise Palanker (00:47:02):


Laura Ganer Otting (00:47:02):

Else, and she's just absolutely. Um, but at some point the cameras disappear. The shiny faces disappear. The soccer ball is punctured. Like, then what? Right. You know, like it's, it's, it's interesting. There's a really good example, um, that I, I, I, I actually talk about in Limitless about action versus impact. And it's about to the, the founder of Toms shoes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, Blake, I think it's my mice, mice. Anyway, he, he was in, uh, uh, a third world country and he looked around and he was like, oh my God, there are no children in schools. All these children are on the street. What's going on? And he found out that one of the things you need to go to school are shoes. Shoes. So he had already founded Tom, so he created this buy one, give one campaign. So if you buy a pair of Tom shoes, it, they give a pair of shoes to a kid who needs to go to school.


Okay, great. Sounds amazing. All these kids go to school. Then what happens when their feet grow? They can't go to school because suddenly they don't have shoes that fit. Oh. And what happens to the local cobbler? What happens to the local shoemaker? What happens to the industry? The leather maker? What happens to all the industries that then get disrupted? Right. And so he goes back and he realizes, I'm actually not solving the problem. I actually might have created more problems. Wow. And so what he learned to do instead is now he builds factories in these, in these countries. He hires local people. He trains them about how to make shoes. And all of a sudden he's now creating economies, creating jobs. And everybody's happy. Everything's great. Kids are going to school, and he's solving the problem. But he walked in saying, I'm a shoemaker. I've got shoes. How do, how can I help? I'll just send them shoes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> problem solved. But it's until he realized what needs to happen is a whole economy, the whole ecosystem needed to change.

Louise Palanker (00:48:40):

It's a whole teach Amanda to fish. Terrible.

Fritz Coleman (00:48:42):

That's really wonderful.

Louise Palanker (00:48:43):

So they, they need to be self-sufficient. And if they just, if they haven't encountered that knowledge, they give them knowledge. I mean, people just need information really. And they're, and they're great. Everyone's Yes, yes. Everyone's brilliant. They, we just need information. You know, a lot of people, you

Laura Ganer Otting (00:48:57):

Just need to ask better questions, that's all. Yeah. You just ask a better question. You get a better answer.

Louise Palanker (00:49:00):

And there's parts of the world that aren't connected to the internet, cuz like, we're, we've gotten kind of lazy and just like, well, there's a YouTube that will show you how to do that. Well, you know, in some parts of the world, there's no, you don't ha you, you don't have access to Yeah. Learning how to make shoes, you know, you need, you need help. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but the right kind of help. And I love, like you're saying, just study it before you just go throwing teddy bears study the situation. Yes.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:49:25):

Yeah. Yes.

Fritz Coleman (00:49:27):

So talk about AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps works with partner organizations as a way for people to volunteer to help build back their communities. And I definitely love the senior aspect of it too, because seniors have accumulated a lifetime of knowledge and expertise in some given area, and it makes them feel like they're still necessary. I just thought that was wonderful. Describe AmeriCorps and its development and your relationship with, uh, the president, putting that together.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:49:55):

Yeah. Um, so it was a long time ago, <laugh>, it was 1992. Uh, bill Clinton ran for president, uh, on a number of signature campaign promises, one of which was this idea of national service. And the idea was that, uh, there is nothing that's wrong with America, that can't be fixed with what's right with America. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I was 20 years old, I was full of idealism, and I was like, yes, that's true. And I frankly still believe that's true. Um, and so the idea was rather than just giving handouts to people, and you have to remember I was, I was like, I grew up, like in the Reagan era, I was very much a, like a centrist. Um, I, I, I grew up in a, in a Republican father, Democrat mother household, but sort of very fiscally conservative. Um, and so for me, somebody like Bill Clinton, who was a new Democrat, very centrist democrat, was like, this makes, so, it was practical.


It made so much sense. The idea wasn't just to give a bunch of handouts. It was, you allow people to do community service, like a domestic Peace Corps in a community, their own community or some other community for a year. And in exchange for that year, they get college tuition. They get, uh, uh, uh, money to go to college. So it was like, change yourself while you're changing the world. So this was like, it was everything I, I wanted and more. And I was at, I was in law school at the time and a few weeks after I had, um, first heard about this idea, all four principals, bill and Hillary and Alan Tipper all came through Gainesville, Florida. We got like 36,000 people to show up at this rally. So the national campaign was like, well, who are those volunteers? Right? Like, we got, we have to hire them.


Now, hiring them, of course, as I mentioned earlier, meant all the idealism and ramen soup you could eat. It was, you could hire for exactly $0. But it was an exciting time. And I was young enough then that I was willing to sleep in a van. So, you know, <laugh>, everybody wins. Um, <laugh>. So it, we were actually, I think Motor voter was the first, uh, was the first legislation passed, um, after he was inaugurated. And we were the next one out of the gate. So it was, um, it, it, it was, it was an incredible, uh, it was incredible lobbying campaign because we had to get support from all the local governors. We had to get support from the military, actually, because we didn't, we couldn't compete with the GI Bill. So we had to offer just slightly less money than the GI Bill to be able to do it.


Right. There was all these sort of moving parts, um, to do it. But since the passage of it in, uh, in 1993, there have been over a million, uh, individuals who have served in AmeriCorps and they're everyone from young people who are 18 to 24 looking for college tuition or alleviation from college loans all the way to, you know, senior, um, to, to senior AmeriCorps members and foster grandparents. So really the entire gamut, anybody can serve. I mean, it's like that M l k quote that everyone can be great cuz everyone can serve AmeriCorps sort of the same, the same thing. Mm-hmm.

Fritz Coleman (00:52:53):

<affirmative>, I'm a firm believer in, uh, mandatory service to your country for two years. That's why I just loved it. Either military or non-military service. Got, go ahead.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:53:01):

I gotta tell you, I think, and this is not a popular opinion, um, but I'm not running for office, so that's okay. I think that the solution to what's aing our country right now is mandatory service. Absolutely. Some sort of compulsive, some compulsory service, whether it's domestic, uh, whether it's military, whether it's community, whether it's Peace Corps, whether it's, um, uh, uh, volunteering through local, you know, police, firemen, education, et cetera. But some sort of service. Cause I think what's happened is that we don't see anybody who doesn't look like us, right? Love like us, pray like us, think like us. And, and, and that has, we are able to create these silos that, um, we get our own news, we get, you know, we're in the, we're all in our own bubbles, right? I mean, I'm in a liberal bubble in the Northeast. We're all in our own bubbles.


And, and when there was compulsory service, you were serving a lot of people who were not like you. You had to learn to communicate with people. You had to learn to, to, to, um, to manage them or be managed by them, right? Like, you had to understand that the world didn't look like you thought the world looked. And I mean, I, you know, I, I saw, I saw a a, a diagram online actually just this morning that had a a, a full circle that said truth. And then it had like a little arc part of the circle and it said perspective. And I was like, well, isn't that, isn't that it, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like we all have perspective mm-hmm. <affirmative> because we all see our own little piece of the circle, but none of us see the whole circle, which is how we see truth. And, and, and it reminded me of a TEDx talk I watched a long time ago about, about truth and fact.


Like we mentioned before, we started, before we started, uh, uh, recording that I'm from Miami, but I live in Boston now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's 35 degrees outside. That's a fact. It's 35 degrees outside. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, my truth is that's really cold. Really, really cold. <laugh>. Now, my kids grew up here and their truth is at 35 degrees in December is great <laugh>, it's bing, it's amazing. Right? So the fact is that it's 35 degrees, but our truths are both totally different. Right. And I think that's what's happening right now in our country is that there's fact, and then each one of us has our own truth, but the more that we get exposed to other humans, right? Like, isn't it Kurt vk who said something like, like, uh, like, uh, racism can't survive travel or something like, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> like you, it's ignorance can't survive travel. Like the more that you're exposed to other people, other things, other truths come. So yeah, I'm off for compulsory service. Yeah. Because I think that that's the way we get there.

Louise Palanker (00:55:26):

And I think, you know, in so doing, you create a common purpose which inspires a sense of community. And it could be why kids who go to college are not as siloed because they've gone to college and met a bunch of people that came to that college from different points. And you know, the kids that go, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> from high school and to kind of like, uh, their, their career in their, in their hometown. They can be, they can have those blinders where they're just, they're not open to other points of view because they haven't worked side by side with people that, that come from different points. That's

Fritz Coleman (00:56:02):

Right. And, and, and in America, you, you're, you're, you're programmed into being shot out of a t-shirt cannon out of high school into college, even if you haven't made up your mind what you want to do with your life. So I, I think that, that the compulsory service situation would solve a number of problems. One would be allowing children to get their legs to understand what they want to, uh, sample a little bit more of the world that may point them in a direction that they hadn't thought of before. And, and my desire to do it was, uh, I had a terrible time in college during the Vietnam War and was drafted because I dropped below a certain average the first time I went to school. And I signed up for the Navy to avoid. I I, I wanted to serve my country. I just thought I could do it better in a non-gun oriented environment. <laugh>.


So I enlisted in the Navy and it was the greatest single decision I've ever made in my life, was it taught me, uh, about, um, uh, uh, accepting people from all cultures and learning that Americans aren't all they've cracked up to be. And, and Europeans had better opinions about American politics than we did. And I just learned all this wonderful stuff. And I, I tried to convince my sons to do the same thing, but I was, I was not successful at doing that. But it all goes back to the time when my uncle, who during the depression, worked in the CC camps and he was the only employed person in the family. And when you worked in the CC camps, you went and built national parks, you worked on roads, you cut down trees, and they sent a portion of your paycheck home to your family. And that was the only money coming into my family during the depression. And I just thought they had to have that program now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, I mean I, anyway.

Laura Ganer Otting (00:57:45):

Well, you'd be happy to know that they do because there is a part of AmeriCorps, it's called the N C C and it's the National something Conservation Corps, like conservation C stands for, cuz it's been a million years now. Yeah. National, uh, civilian Conservation Corps. Yeah. Thank you. Um, and, uh, that's part of what they do. So when there is a national, uh, when there, when there's a, a, a natural disaster, for example, the, the, the National Guard goes in, but also the N C C goes in and they help working. Uh, they help work to rebuild roads, to rebuild bridges, to do all those, to do all of that stuff. So that there is a part of AmeriCorps, uh, that does do that work. Right now

Fritz Coleman (00:58:23):

I'm writing them a check as we speak. Oh, that's

Louise Palanker (00:58:25):

Awesome. That's fantastic. So before we go, I just wanted, I know that you talk to people about making, not subtle, but big, kind of bold changes. And I'm just wondering if you think that we are born with natural talents or natural interests. In other words, are babies and toddlers drawn to what interests them and then good at it by the time they are six years old? So should we do what interests us even though we are not good at it yet? Or is it too late by the time our brains have finished developing at, at 25? In other words, are you good at music by the time you're six because at three you were just drawn to the piano or drawn to the, to the radio? Or are we actually born with certain talents?

Laura Ganer Otting (00:59:12):

Well, so I'm not a neuroscientist, so I can't give you any actual, uh, real science around this. Um, but I would say that I think that the worst advice in the world is follow your passion. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, in fact, and, and here's why, because I think that the idea of follow your passion, you know, we've all seen those, like those Instagram memes of some like flax and haired girl wearing like a flower crown and she's staring out over Coachella or like a sunset or something, she's like in a yoga pose and she's like, follow your passion. And she's like all of her Insta fluid, her mic follow your passion <laugh>. And here's why I think it's terrible advice, because following your passion tells you, well, as soon as you figure out your passion, everything's gonna be smooth sailing. Which goes to your question, rather, if you're good at something, it's gonna be smooth sailing, you're gonna be fine.


But the problem is, is that as soon as it gets hard, as soon as you get rejected, as soon as you make a mistake, as soon as it, it, it's, you don't get it right the first time you're like, oh, I guess this must not be my passion. Mm. Because if it was a natural at, then everything would be fine. It's my passion. But here's the thing, like we, nobody's good at something from the very few of us that are like phenoms from birth, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, very few of us. And frankly, we see a lot of them burn out really young, right? I just mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I just finished watching, um, king Richard, which I would imagine you've probably suggested on the show in, in, in previous mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, episodes. But you know, they, they talk about Richard Williams keeping his daughters from going pro early cuz they didn't want them to to burn out, right.


Even them, they're phenols, right? Even them like, it, it's a question of how do you keep falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up because it's in the falling down and getting up that you get better and better and better at the thing that you wanna do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And frankly, I think your passion deserves that. Like, your passion's gonna gut you, it's gonna tear you apart, it's gonna turn you inside out, maybe turn your bank account inside out also, you know, at the same time as you're getting better and better and better at it. But that's how we do the thing that we love. That's how we become talented at something. It's not that we're born at it. I mean, you know, there are very few Serena Williams and the Wolfgang Edades Mozarts out there. There's just the rest of us slovenly crew that have to figure out how to do it.


But I think that it's in the falling down and getting up and the getting better that we figure out what we are actually passionate about and what we do wanna do. Like if you fall down and get up and fall down and get up and you don't wanna do it anymore, it turns out that wasn't your passion. But if you wanna keep banging your, you know, head against the wall until you actually get it, I say more power to you. Like it's clear that you care about that thing. It's clear that you wanna do it. And I think that it's in the, it's in the, you know, my friend Jonathan Field who, who um, just wrote a book called Sparked and he's the, the host of the Good Life Project podcast talks about the difference between perfection and mastery. That it's like in the perfection of something we slowly kill ourselves, but the to to have the gift of getting to spend your entire life trying to master something. How wonderful is that? Like I just picked up playing the drums a few years ago, and by the way, I'm crap at playing the drums. I don't know how to move my body in space and time. I have no sense of rhythm, but it takes about five minutes to pick up like a simple rock beat and it takes the rest of your life to get really good at drums. Yeah. And isn't it so amazing that I get to do that?

Louise Palanker (01:02:32):


Fritz Coleman (01:02:33):

Yeah. But you're, but then what you're really saying is it does make sense to choose your passion because you have to have something that you can fail at repeatedly and still see a reason to pick yourself up and keep trying. It's

Louise Palanker (01:02:47):

Like a love affair.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:02:48):

Yeah. That's gonna come back to it. It's, it's just not as simple, right? Like I think you should follow your curiosity and I think you should know you should, you can follow your passion, but just know that like, that's not, that's not the solution, that's not the end. It's just, that's like a, it's, it's a guidepost, right? It's a direction. It's not a, it's not a, a a a final state.

Louise Palanker (01:03:07):

Yeah. And I, and I know that learning comes from failure. I mean, just, just play any video game and you know, that you have to fail the level to learn how to beat the level. That's what life is. You just have to keep going.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:03:18):

It's, it's, it's actually what I'm writing in my next book about is that moment I'm calling it Wonder Hell. And it's that moment of, oh my God, this is amazing. It's incredible. It's working. It's so wonderful and oh my God, I've never been so exhausted and full of anxiety and stress and I don't know how to do the next thing. It's hell, it's wonderful and it's hell. Now what you, it's wonder you take, you just get to keep going through the cycle.

Louise Palanker (01:03:39):

Well, you take a break from it, you walk through a little bit of your life and then you think, oh, I could try it this way. You know, you have one of those moments, right? And you go and then you're excited to go back and try it again.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:03:49):

Yep. Yeah. Usually those moments come in the shower <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (01:03:52):

They do, they do. We need to have more pens that write in the shower.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:03:56):

Yes. Yeah. People are always asking me like, why do I come up with in the shower? And I'm like, cuz that's the only time you're not staring at a screen. It's the only time you're letting yourself

Louise Palanker (01:04:05):

Think <laugh> your brain is still like also walking any kind of activity that doesn't necessitate you activating your brain is when good ideas come to you sometimes when you're falling

Laura Ganer Otting (01:04:15):

Asleep. Absolutely. I Yeah.

Louise Palanker (01:04:16):

Yeah, go ahead.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:04:17):

That's so true. Several years ago I stopped meeting and meeting and eating and now I only meet and move. So I have people meet me for a walk or like, even if they're on their phone and I'm on my phone, we like walk together or something. I just, that's a great idea. All the good ideas come up that way. And

Fritz Coleman (01:04:30):

Less expensive

Louise Palanker (01:04:31):

Brainstorming too. That's is, yeah. Is less expensive. Yeah.

Laura Ganer Otting (01:04:34):

Yeah. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (01:04:35):

Well, we wanna thank you so much. Where can people find you online? And uh, we have links to, we're gonna have links in the show notes. So where, what else should we add to that? Your website?

Laura Ganer Otting (01:04:43):

Yeah, so, um, my name's El Laura Gasner Otting. Everybody calls me l g o, so you can find me at hey, like h e y hey, l g o mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, on all the socials and hey uh, is a shortcut to my website. And if you listen to me talk about calling connection, contribution, and control and you're like, I don't know how much of that, what I need, how do I figure it out? There are four questions you need to ask yourself and you can find those four

Louise Palanker (01:05:09):

Oh, very cool. Very cool. Fritz, how can people help

Fritz Coleman (01:05:12):

Us? A fantastic discussion, Laura, thank you so much. If you enjoyed this episode Media Path, it would help us to be a little more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you leave us a quick review on Apple Podcast, and if you're new here and this is your first time, check out our back catalog. You'll find it binge worthy. For instance, episode 29, we talked to Radio Icon Tim Conway Jr. Who just happens to have an acting park in Licorice Pizza. We're promoting our friend Tim, also episode 47. We talked with Henry Elston about 1960 Sol Harry, Harry Elson, sorry. Uh, he was the founder of the, uh, successful r and b Friends of Distinction. Anyway, thank you for spending an hour with us and we would be overjoyed if you would, uh, take a moment to share your thoughts with us and recommend us to a friend.

Louise Palanker (01:05:56):

Well, you do know that Harry can be a nickname for Henry. This is the case with Right, right.

Fritz Coleman (01:06:00):

So you shouldn't have brought it up. But anyway,

Louise Palanker (01:06:01):

Sorry. Okay, good. <laugh>, we would, except for He, he listens to the show and I, we love you Harry. We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where we are, a Media Path podcast. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at media path podcast We wanna thank our wonderful guest, L g o, Laura Gasner Otting. Our team includes Dean of Friedman, Francesco Desmond, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Fiac, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise Lanker here with Fritz Coleman, and we will see you along the media path.


I'm also a drummer,


<laugh>. I hope you're better than me. Well, that's, you know, that's a case of couldn't, you couldn't be worse. <laugh>. No, that's, that's a case of.

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