Vera: Congratulations on your book ‘No fear career’. What’s the most paralyzing fear you’ve seen get in the way of career success?
Robin: I would say the fear of uncertainty of the career path. People worry about whether they can really pull off a successful career. They wonder whether they will succeed in the job they have and those feelings drive people to become emotional in their decision making. Part of the challenge is also because organizations fail to give employees a vision of where they want the organization to go; to give confidence to their teams that they are here to stay. Organizations are not taking a stand in terms of what they’re about. This is a failure of leadership really.
Vera: So if a person finds themselves in such an organization, how do they chart a way forward if they find themselves in a box with no prospects of advancing?
Robin: They need to accept that they are in a box. Sometimes, even though people are in a box and looking at a dead end, they keep thinking things will get better. It’s important to accept where you are and then adjust. Adjusting requires that you acknowledge what your part in being where you are is and do what will get you unstuck. This may mean starting preparing to make things better for yourself. That might be for example going back to school. It may also mean saying to your boss that you want more responsibility and even suggest what that might be. You also need to access your intuition and respond thoughtfully. You need to be quiet in your mind to start getting clear on what you need to succeed, what you need to do in the moment and go for it.
Vera: Sometimes intuition sends signals but the fear being experienced can be so strong it drowns out the intuition. How does one cut through fear to ‘hear’ the inner voice?
Robin: When confused, sleep on it. When you feel the same feeling/messages coming up say 3 days in a row, it’s your gut showing you which way to go. All our lives, we are always inputting all kinds of information and our intuition becomes our second brain. We need to trust it and act on it. Our inner judge, the critical voice will inevitably speak up but you have to prevent it from overpowering you. If it helps, do this exercise- write down the mean things the critical voice tells you, then throw the paper away. Flip the mean voices, don’t believe them; be loving to yourself.
Vera: You believe in one being authentic. What really is authenticity?
Robin: It’s about speaking and being what is true in your heart; truth with conviction. When words like ‘should’ and ‘could’ are in your conversation, you’re not being authentic. Unfortunately, there is a lot of people-pleasing that many bosses seek. Fearless leaders transcend that. Authenticity does take practice.
Vera: What do you suggest one does if their boss asks them to do something that doesn’t sit right with them?
Robin: When a boss requires something of you that you feel goes against your authenticity, don’t get confrontational; acknowledge the boss’ request and try to understand what their vision is around what they’re asking of you. Read it back to them to be sure you’re clear, appreciate and understand what is being asked of you. Even offer some of your own ideas if you have them. That way, you’ll be collaborating in a way that elevates your game and makes them see that you support their overall mission. It’s very easy to act out of fear and get confrontational. When you engage with your boss to see the bigger picture, you end up doing higher value work by being curious and seeking opportunities to be understanding and engaging without compromising who you are.
Vera: You say “in the age of transparency, authenticity is the only answer- it’s the fuel to forgive what was and move forward with grace. What do you mean by grace and how does one move forward with that?
Robin: Grace is forgiving yourself and others. When we get stuck, we are not being graceful and we end up holding onto resentment because of how we think someone should have acted. That is arrogance and we need to let go of that. Sometimes, we have high expectations that everyone has an understanding of what we want. Having grace means adjusting and making decisions that make for our highest good and those around us. Let go of people, places and things that no longer work. Leaving the toxic stuff behind is better for one’s health and the sanity of all.
Vera: I like the analogy of the artichoke and peeling back the layers till one gets to their authentic self that you share in your book. What are these layers and how does one know they’ve reached the core/the essence?
Robin: Getting to the heart of who you are and how you tell your story to the world is important. Like an artichoke, as you peel the leaves to get to the core of who you are, it’ll start to feel uncomfortable. But don’t stop, push through. As a child, our house burnt down and all I got away with was a portable Sony TV. I have no baby pictures, all memories went up in flames. But I don’t wallow in that, I tell my story in the positive; never from a bad point of view. Find a courageous, heartfelt way to become the superhero in your own show. Figure out who you are and who not to be again.
Vera: You urge that flaws be turned into something unique. How have you done this?
Robin: People count themselves out because of their colour, gender, accent etc. Personally, I have used the fact that I think different, that I am a woman, that I went to University of Alabama, which is not a fancy school. I have played up all these to stand out and be comfortable about how being different is good.
Vera: You took a bold to leave ‘famous’ Los Angeles to go live in a small town in SantaFe, New Mexico. How is that working out? Was it the right decision?
Robin: I wanted to move to a quiet place; cut away what no longer worked. I wanted to raise my daughter in a place of good values. I have written 4 books there and working on a fifth one. I wanted to be a brand strategist, a story teller, an inspiration for people who want to embrace change. It has worked wonderfully.
Robin Fisher Roffer is Founder and CEO of Big Fish marketing Inc. She leads an award winning team that has launched and evolved dozens of media brands all over the world such as Animal Planet, CNN, MTV, The Hallmark channel and TNT. Robin is the go-to person for television networks, technology companies and content creators ready to bring audiences to brands across multiple platforms. With a mission to inspire professionals to fearlessly reach their potential, Robin has authored 4 books including “Make a name for yourself”, “The fearless fish out of water”, “Reinventing yourself” and her latest “Your no-fear career”. A speaker and frequent media guest on fearless leadership and personal branding, Robin keynotes corporate conferences at companies such as Walmart, Microsoft, AIG, Starwood Hotels and top business schools like Columbia, Wharton, USC and Northwestern. More on Robin and her work at www.bigfishmarketing.com
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building visit www.verangoma.com and www.excellicaleadershipgroup.com