I'm ready to level up!

The Secret to EQ with Dr. Karyn Gordon

Nov 09, 2022

This week I interviewed the amazing Dr. Karyn Gordon. Karyn is an expert when it comes to EQ. What is EQ? Read on to find out more! 

 

A Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, TED Talk speaker and nominated for the 2021 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, Dr. Karyn Gordon is the CEO and co-founder of DK Leadership

She has spoken live to more than ½ million people in 17 countries – including Fortune 500 executives, family businesses, entrepreneurs, professional associations, school boards and families. 


She was invited to collaborate with professors from The Wharton School to develop an EQ curriculum for family businesses and The Consul General of Canada in New York hosted a private reception honouring her work for organisations and families. 


Dr. Karyn has a Doctorate in Marriage & Family with additional certifications in leadership, Emotional Intelligence and career direction. She has served as the media spokesperson for Maple Leaf Foods, Microsoft, eHarmony and UNICEF. A professional counsellor for 25 years, executive coach she is also a media personality who has consulted for Good Morning America, Forbes, Inc, The New York Times and Cityline.   


She lives in Toronto with her adored husband of 20 years, twin teens and 2 high-energy puppies. She has many hobbies including interior design, tennis, skiing and spending time with her family! 

 

My Key take aways from the episode were:

 

  • Leadership is a mindset. It's not a title. It's not a destination. It's a mindset. As leaders, how do we set our minds? What is the filter that we look through? Is it abundant? Is it positive? If we can start to think of leadership as a mindset, it will impact how we lead ourselves and also how we lead others.
  • CARDS. C- communication, A- appreciation, R- relationships, D- discipline, S- stress. To improve your EQ, you need to spend time with someone who has a higher EQ than you do. So spend time with someone who ranks higher than you in the different areas that the CARDS framework focuses on. Ask these people for feedback, and then LEAN INTO the feedback! They will help you see your blindspots.
  • You can develop EQ at any stage of your life! What are you doing to develop your EQ this week? Pick one area of CARDS and work on one of those this week.
  • Identify the difference between thoughts and feelings. You cannot erase a thought, you need to replace it. Practice replacing your toxic thoughts with empowering and positive ones. Practice this daily and it will become a habit.
  • You can challenge thoughts - NEVER feelings.

 

Full Transcription

James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today on investing in yourself. Enjoy the show.  

 

James Laughlin 

Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of my HPC, the High Performers Club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate Q&A. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 seats at the leadership table. You can apply today by going to www.jjlaughlin.com/HPC. 

 

James Laughlin 01:06 

IQ or EQ? What's more important? Well, today we're going to dive into that. Dr. Karyn is currently the founder of a global leadership coaching company that specializes in emotional intelligence skills, for organizations and families. Look, she's known for her expertise, and she's often featured in national media outlets is currently the leadership and relationship expert on Canada's number one daytime show CityLine, she has also previously worked with Good Morning America, Forbes, and the New York Times. She's the best-selling author of her most recent book, The Three Chairs. It's all about how great leaders drive their team's communication, productivity, and engagement. It's a best-selling book, incredible read real amazing insights for teams and for families. So, I definitely encourage you to check it out. She's an incredible speaker. Most recently, she did a TED talk a few months ago and it's already got over a million views. Today you're in for such a treat, she shared so much, and some of the incredible tools that we can embody and embrace, to develop our own EQ. And what was exciting about this was that she made it very clear that EQ is a skill that anyone can develop. So, let's get into it. Let's have some fun, sit back and enjoy the show. 

 

James Laughlin 02:41 

Karyn, a massive welcome to the lead on-purpose podcast. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 02:45 

Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. 

 

James Laughlin 02:47 

It's so great to be connected. And I guess I should rewind a bit and just think back to a conversation I had with a mutual friend. He rang me up as like, James, you've got to connect with Karyn, and that was Scott O'Neill. And anytime Scott O'Neill says you got to connect with this person, I listen, and I act. So, I'm so glad he did that. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 03:04 

Scott is a beautiful human, and you know the same thing when he said you have to connect with James. So here we are, awesome. 

 

James Laughlin 03:13 

That's so good. Well, you and I have a shared passion. And we both could geek out on this topic for weeks and months. And that is leadership. What is interesting is you have and your whole company does have a really incredible view and a lens of leadership. So please share with the listener right now what is that lens that you and DK leadership look through. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 03:35 

So, leadership, to me is a mindset. It is a mindset, it is not a title, it is not a role, it has nothing to do with what degrees we have, besides our name, how much money we have in the bank, it is a mindset because you can be the one thing also that we really focus on is not just the mindset, but really figuring out what makes a great leader and leadership actually, you can actually develop certainly developing leadership from childhood, really, for every single age group. So, the area that we really focus on is leadership EQ skills, because leadership is a huge umbrella as you and I know. And so, we really hone in on leadership EQ skills and develop great leaders both at work and at home. 

 

James Laughlin 04:13 

I love that. And it's interesting because EQ, like, often when I'm chatting about that people are like, oh, such and such has very low EQ or doesn't have it and never will have it. Yeah, right. Yeah. Is EQ something that we can learn, we can improve, can level up? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 04:30 

Yes. And you know, this is actually one of the reasons why I love the topic so much. Because when I really started understanding and researching and learning about EQ, I realized wow, not only is it one of the best predictors of success, but however you define success based on research, we know that in the 21st century is the best predictor of success. But the part that I got most excited about is that you can actually learn it. So, while some parts of emotional intelligence are easier or more kind of like naturally kind of like almost helped develop because of our personality type, most of the parts of emotional intelligence are actually all things that we can actually we can learn, which means that all of us can learn these skills to help ourselves be successful again, however, we define it. So, I think that's the piece that I think is just so extremely exciting. 

 

James Laughlin 05:10 

That is incredibly exciting. And what I understand as well as this comes from research, just comes from you taking incredible research and then distilling it and really powerful lessons and information. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 05:22 

Yes, exactly. And so, what I love to do, we might my doctorate is in marriage and family. So, I'm actually a registered therapist, although I don't practice, I still practice, but very, very part-time, most of our focus is on leadership development and companies. But one of the things I just find so powerful with this topic is that, you know, there's so much research out there, one of the things I love to do is take a look, go over all the research, find the patterns in the research, and then teach tools that are really easy for people to apply it because I find that we don't necessarily need more research. It's just it's almost overwhelming. So, seeing the patterns, and then seeing the application so that people can actually create positive change. That's where we really what I really get excited about. 

 

James Laughlin 06:00 

And I know that the listener right now is getting excited going. Okay, okay, tell me, how do I level up my EQ? So, when someone's thinking about EQ, I guess before they level it up, what is EQ from your point of view? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 06:12 

Yeah. So, it's a great question. It's actually one of, my favorite questions. When I speak at a business conference. And this happened not too long ago, there are about 500 people in this room, and they're all business leaders, mostly C suite. And I said, put your hand up, if you actually heard of EQ, everybody's hand goes up, right? They're really happy. They're like, Yeah, I know what it is. And then I said, and then the second question, put your hand if you can tell me with what it is. So, out of an audience of 500 people, I'm lucky James, if I can get five people to put their hand up. And in this particular conference, you know about, I'd say about three to four people put their hands up. So, I'm like, great. Okay, so tell me what EQ is. So right away, we start seeing the gap, right, we've heard of the word, but very few people actually know what it is. And then they kind of fumbled through their definition that it was partly true, but only a fraction of reality with what it is. And the third question that I love asking is, who can tell me how you develop it and build it, nobody's hand goes up. And that is like right there that speaks to where we've kind of dropped off, right? So, there's been a lot of research about people writing an article, but most people don't know what it is. And they don't know how to build it. So, what is emotional intelligence, it is simply a set of five skills. That's it. So, one of the things again, like what I like to do is take a lot of research and make it simple. So, for everybody listening, think of the acronym cards, it's our own acronym, because I, it just helps us kind of remember it. So here are the five skills and whenever you think about how you would rate yourself according to these five skills, C stands for your communication skills, and your ability to give and receive feedback. It's your ability to build trust with other people. A stand for your attitude, your attitude of yourself, whether are you arrogant, insecure, or confident, is also your ability to set meaningful goals in your life. R stands for your relationship skills, and your ability to see life in a different way. This is where generational differences, cultural differences, personality differences, and racial differences come into play. It's realizing that how I see it is different than how you see it, and how other people see it. So that's where empathy is also kind of part of that third category. D is a really interesting one, D is your decision-making performance and self-discipline skills. And so, a lot of people don't realize that when they are managing their time, they're actually using their EQ. So, someone who has very high EQ, they know what their priorities are, they take initiative, they step on the gas, they know how to kind of basically maximize, you know, with what needs to get done, even though it may not feel good at the moment, but they do with what's important. All of that is part of emotional intelligence. And the last one, which is really significant, certainly, when we see the mental health crisis that's happening is our stress, anxiety, and emotion management skills. So, somebody who has very high EQ, knows what stresses them out, knows how to set boundaries, knows how to say no, knows the importance of self-care, might really focus on exercising to kind of lower their stress. And so, somebody with very high EQ can perform at a very high level. Okay, so that's the A and the D with very low stress. So those are the five skills. And so, for anybody listening, going, gosh, I really want to kind of get a little bit more data on that, then you can go to the website dkleadership.org .org is not a charity, it is a for-profit people up in Canada, you know, in.org are very popular. So, dkleadership.org. And you can actually download a free leadership EQ scorecard. And you can actually download it for yourself, your team, your kids, because a huge piece of this topic, James is really starting to have some self-awareness. So, you can do it's one page. So, it's easy to do it in 10 minutes, and you can figure out which of these five skills which ones am I doing really well, and which ones don't know what I need to work and just starting to have that kind of self-reflection is like really a good first step. 

 

James Laughlin 09:45 

That's so amazing. And I'll be doing that right after we chat. I'll be going to the site and downloading it. I'll also put that link in our show notes. So, if you're listening right now, please go and do it. Take the action it will take you 5-10 minutes to do and it's heightening that awareness. So okay, now that we know how we can develop it. And we take this assessment. Yes, where from here? So, if we went through each part of that those pillars for cards. What's one thing in each of those pillars that we could do to 1% improve in that area? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 10:17 

It's a great question. So, there's actually I'll give you two actually. So, step one is do the assessment, because you're going to have like right away, you're going to kind of figure it, oh, and you'll just probably feel better, because one of them, we're going to be probably better than the others, right? We're like, oh, you know what, in this category, I'm actually doing not too bad. But the other ones I have to so, so I think doing the assessment is kind of a good first step, in terms of how you build it, there's a lot of different ways, but a couple of really good practical ways is identifying the superstars in your life, according to the five of the five. So think about who are the superstars of people that you know, not somebody on television, somebody that you actually know, that is just crushing it as it relates to communication, or is really good at goal setting, or is really good at stress, or is really good in terms of self-discipline, like put a name, so print off the assessment, and then put a rockstar in your own life that you think is doing an amazing job, and then go out for coffee with them go for lunch and say, You know what, I was listening to this amazing podcast, and I did his assessment, and you are the person that I thought is just doing amazing this? Can you give me some pointers on how you do it? How do you give feedback so, people listen? Or how do you manage your stress? Without the kind of, you know, how do you say no, without feeling guilty, like, lean in and ask the rockstars in your life what the skills and habits are that they have done, according to that, and you will get a wealth of information. So that's kind of one really practical way. And if you don't feel like you have the competence to maybe ask the people just start observing, and watching them. Watch how they handle feedback, watch how they set goals, watch how they say no, and just pay attention. And because it really is like a language, it really is like language games like and so if people you know, and that's why if you kind of hang out with people who have very high IQ, you're just going to start learning it, you're just going to start learning the language, just like if I want to learn French, I want to hang out with people that speak French. So that's a really good way. Another way that's really powerful is to ask for feedback. This one's scarier, but it's, it's incredibly powerful. So, ask, you know, two to three people in your life, work, and home, because you're going to get different kinds of feedback. You know, you can basically print the assessment for yourself, here's how I think I'm doing it. And if you're really gutsy, copy it, and give it to your spouse, your kids, and maybe two or three coworkers and say, how would you rate me according to these, and then just see if the numbers match? Because it's possible that we think we really manage our stress really well. And our spouse is like, no, you don't actually because when you come home, you're like, crazy, or you're like stressed out like, and so getting that feedback is a really powerful way of, of maybe showing us some gaps and some blind spots of where we actually have to lean in and kind of make some changes. 

 

James Laughlin 12:52 

That's great. And if we get that feedback, and we rebut, we defend, we justify, we get angry. What does that say about our EQ? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 13:01 

Yes, it says it says that we're really struggling. It says you need to take read my book and take some courses. Because the key thing with emotional intelligence is that this is a journey for all of us. Nobody really arrives. Okay? This is something that is an ongoing, lifelong journey that we all have to we all need to kind of pay attention to. And so, when you're asking for that feedback, try to get curious, not defensive, try to get curious, not defensive, leaning in if something doesn't really kind of make sense to you. So, you know, I'm surprised by that. Can you kind of give me an example of what I've said, that has given you that impression? Because it's, it's so tempting for us to get defensive with feedback, but we want to get curious, not defensive. 

 

James Laughlin 13:45 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I want to try in my own mind, I'm thinking through this. So, in my mind, so we've got this new neutrality line, below that line. We can experience anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, and we go get therapy for that, above the line, you know, that's where we're growing. That's where there's hope there's joy, and we can get coaching or even some consulting above the line. So, with EQ, if I had some major trauma that I hadn't dealt with, and I'm below the line, so to speak, and I'm dealing with anxiety and depression and so forth. Can I still develop my EQ? Or should I have other support along with me as I'm developing it? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 14:29 

Absolutely. Every single person can develop emotional intelligence, it does not matter. And this is part of the reason why, again, when I kind of went into this work, you know, because I'm registered as a therapist, as well as a specialist in this area. It has really given me a very wide net to work with people because I will work with people that have massive anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, but I also learned because I've been new for a long time that with certain tools, and skills that are very practical, it is amazing with what people can actually do. And so, while some parts are for sure, are there chemical balances there? Certainly, there are a lot of things. Obviously, there's, you know, genetics will obviously play a play. But, James, this is one of the reasons why I'm so excited about this. When I first started practicing 25 years ago, he was in a medical office, and I work with three physicians there. And so, when people have anxiety, or depression, where do they go, they go see their doctor. So, they would go see their doctor and I came on board, I was pretty young, I was really excited, ambitious, and you know, wanting to kind of help people. And I just learned if I could make things really practical, really, really tangible. And if I had people that were hungry to learn it, we could kind of do some really cool things. And so, I would start working with people with some very, very heavy, heavy, heavy topics, suicidal, cutting, self-harm, addiction, like you name it. But I realized that if I could help them with their mindset, and if I could give them very concrete tools and help them understand, you know, anxiety, depression is just a feeling, it's the thoughts that are the problem. So, if I can help them change their thought pattern, it will actually help indirectly change how they feel. And if I can help them do that, all of the sudden anxiety drops, depression drops, competence kind of goes off, self-harm, kind of completely stops. And then we, my clients, we're seeing a such tremendous impact. My practice exploded in two years, there were almost, you know, over 100, doctors, and medical doctors in this building, and they would start seeing the results of their patients. And, I'm not anti-medication, I mean, some people for sure, need it, the majority of my clients never went on it, because, and I would always work in collaboration with a medical doctor. So, I would say I'm going to focus on your emotional wellbeing, while I'm doing this because a lot of the topics have a physical impact on it, you always need to be working through your medical doctor, let me work with you and coach you on very specific tools. And it was amazing with what people could actually do and so. So, it's interesting, right? Because of this whole thing about mental health people like me have anxiety, I have anxiety. Yeah, we all have anxiety, okay? There are a lot of myths under like, and a lot of people do not understand that anxiety emotion is just an emotion. That's all it is. We all have anxiety. And so, the challenge is that, and we're seeing this in the workplace, a lot of HR like we don't know how to manage this, we don't know what to say when people come into our office and say have anxiety. But this is where my background has been super, super helpful. Because I train, I teach, I have seen tremendous results with what people what happens when we change our mindset, which is that A part, okay, that's A part of the cards. When we really learn how to master a healthy mindset, it has a massive impact on how we actually feel. And in my book, I think it's like the 10th or 11th chapter, I kind of give examples on how I helped change how I help clients, C suite, senior leaders who are also parents, they want to kind of do this for their kids as well, how you can actually change your mindset. When you change your mindset, it literally indirectly changes how you feel. This is the stuff they need to be teaching in schools. This is the practical stuff, you know? This is the practical stuff, because everyone talks to this mental health crisis, and we are in a mental health crisis because we're not teaching this in schools, like so I've had so many clients over 25 years going, this is like a game changer. Like it's a game changer once we realized how much power we actually have. So, it's very exciting. I think I just get very excited because I see the results and I know that it can really help people. 

 

James Laughlin 18:22 

Yeah, can see that passion. And that's just we need more of your message. We need more people reading your book. And I want to think about the mindset for a moment. So, what I hear is that, hey, look, we can influence our mindset, we have a lot of actual influence over it. So, for the listener that's listening right now, what are one or two ways that they could actually influence their mindset to create more harmony, create more positivity, create more hope, and manage the anxieties that we have literally every day? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 18:54 

So, it's a great question. So, the first thing I want everybody really understands is the mechanics. And we're going to kind of go into a little deeper on the S side, okay, the stress and energy and emotion management. So, the first part is I love things very much, I like logic, okay, I love logic, I love numbers. I like things to make sense. And I find that with a lot of my clients, if, you know, when we think about emotions, it's like it just seems so abstract and we use like, oh my gosh, I don't know I don't understand it. So, it's like actually creates anxiety when we even think about it. But I tell my clients and we can really understand how our emotions and feelings work, and then we actually can learn with what we can do all of a sudden, it's like oh, that's how it works. So here is kind of like a one-on-one lesson system. We're all going to have situations or stimuli things are going to happen in our life we're going to get bad feedback. Maybe our parents neglected us maybe we've got a disability we're going to have stressors in our life we all have okay some people their parents’ divorce we've got like a financial bear so we all have stimuli are stressors in life, that's external. But what happens is how we think every time we have stressors, our mind will attach and meaning to that stressor, okay, or mine will attach or to or, you know, we’ll have a mindset about that stressor. And that mindset can be either really healthy, or it can be really toxic. If it's healthy, I'm probably going to feel I might feel discouraged. But you know, I'm sad, but I'm not probably going to feel depressed about it. But if my mindset is toxic, I'm probably going to feel really anxious and just in stressed about it. So, it's really learning how to figure out, what the thoughts are inside of my head, how we think drives how we feel, and how we feel drives our behavior. So, it's cognitive, emotional behavior. So, it's like this domino effect. So, feelings are just like anxiety, and depression, they're just feelings. That's it. And we've got hundreds of them. Most people think we have between five and 50, we've got hundreds of feelings. You can't change feelings, they're not good or bad. They're not right or wrong. They're just, they're doing their job. So, you can't change feelings. But you can change your thought. So, if I tell myself, I'm stupid, I'm stupid. I'm stupid. If that's my thought, James, how am I going to feel?  

 

James Laughlin 

Stupid, of course.  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 

I'm going to feel stupid. If I feel stupid, then how do you think it's going to affect my behavior and my actions? What's going to happen in terms of me going after jobs? What's going to happen? What do you think? 

 

James Laughlin 21:08 

Well, you're going to definitely limit yourself, you're going to feel that you're not worthy. You're not enough. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 21:13 

Exactly. So, you can see the domino effect that it all started with a thought, right? So, it all started with the thought. So, if I'm telling myself, I'm stupid, I'm going to therefore feel crappy, I might feel anxious, I might feel depressed. And that's going to know negatively impact my performance in my life. But if I can change my thought pattern, so maybe I'm struggling with something, I need to learn how to ask for help. And I can kind of start thinking, but being very mindful of what are the thoughts that I'm telling myself. Are my thoughts truthful? Are they kind? Are they empowering? Or are they toxic? Because if they're toxic, we're going to feel like crap. If they're really empowering, we're going to feel hopeful and kind of start putting a plan together. So, it's all-around helping people really unpack what are the thoughts inside of my head. How does that drive my behavior to feel? And how it drives my behavior and then learning how to change my thoughts. It's very powerful, it's deep, but it's so powerful. And I love doing it with clients of all ages, you can teach this to eight-year-olds, and I have clients that are in their 90s. So, you can teach them pretty much for every age group. 

 

James Laughlin 22:12 

That's gold, I love it. And so, for the person that's in process and going through life, and you're trying to figure out what are my dominant thoughts, what are the things that are coming up? Are there points in their day or their life that those thoughts will come in? And they should capture those thoughts before the business? Kind of they get forgotten. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 22:31 

Yeah, so what I do with my clients, and I do this, a lot of my, a lot of my executive clients is, you know, electrical comes in. So, there's usually with what happens for a lot of people like gyms will come in, they're like, I just don't feel great. I don't feel great. I and I are like, well, how do you feel? I don't know. I feel like they're like, the awareness level is just not really there. So, the first thing is, you know, I'll try to get them to figure out, you know, what is the feeling that they're actually having. So if I feel anxious, or I feel sad, or feel depressed, and then I try to get them to connect the thought to it, so I feel anxious, because I think what I think I'm not enough, I think I have to have this net worth, I think, I'm not going to get this promotion, I think my kids don't like me, I think my wife's going to leave as I get them to actually start writing down their thoughts. Now, for some people, the thoughts are very top of mind, just give them a pen or paper, and they can actually start writing them down. For a lot of people, they're like, I'm not sure. I don't know. And that's where you're learning how to be quiet and still is very powerful. And so, I'll tell clients, I'm like, Okay, let's wait, let's be silent, don't worry about the silence, I'm fine. And I allow clients to kind of get comfortable with silence because in the silence, the thoughts will kind of bubble up. And when they bubble up, then I get them to write them down. And so, kind of step one is writing down, what are my thoughts that I'm telling myself and all, generally speaking, all of our thoughts start with, I think that's kind of a good way of kind of, you know, to help people figure it out. And then I get my clients to look at those thoughts. And then ask themselves, would you tell somebody that is just like you that looks like he talks like you has your same job? That is just like you would you tell your best friend who is just like you those thoughts? And most people will say, no, and that's the clue. They're toxic. Because, you know, when we give advice to our best friend who we love and adore, usually, we're going to be giving very empowering kind recommendations, right? We're not so it's usually it's like a little bit of the flag. Am I telling myself empowering thoughts or toxic thoughts and that is kind of a good way for people to kind of figure that out? 

 

James Laughlin 24:34 

Great and you go from then the toxic that I think and then when it's empowering you to change the vernacular so tie arms or- 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 24:43 

Yeah, so usually you could but I find for clients to really adopt because it's not until they adopt the new thinking like really adopted that they will feel any difference. There's a huge like this, this season in terms of helping people figure it out. So, what I have found the most helpful is actually when I get people to rewrite their thoughts, I actually get them to do it in the second person because I find that their brain will adopt it faster. If it'd be kind of be in a second person, like, what would you say? If you would not tell your best friend that what would you say? Because your thought you can't erase thoughts, you have to replace thoughts. Our brain is very sophisticated. So, I usually get clients, if I'm doing this in an individual way, I actually get clients to almost do it in a chart form, toxic thought, new thought. And, and some of them I mean, depending on what the client is with what they've gone through, even in trauma, even with very, very deep, dark things that people have experienced very deep stressors, you can still do this kind of work. But it is really, sometimes clients will have like one toxic thought. And when we charge towards it, we like I help them write like a whole page, like you just knew charge. But you have to, you have to approach your thoughts from a very logical perspective. But it's very powerful. Because once your brain adopts the new thinking, they'll start to feel different, you know, or anxiety will start dropping, and their depression will start dropping. And that's when actually you can really tell this is what I found working in the medical office is that's when you really can tell is something on a physical basis, if I can really help them have healthy thinking, and their anxiety and depression drops, you know that the root issue is more emotionally based. But if I can get them to develop healthy thinking, but the depression and anxiety are still high, it means you can tell that there's more of a physical base. And that's why it's so critical to always be working with a medical doctor to kind of manage that, that physical side. 

 

James Laughlin 26:35 

Such great advice. It's incredible. And if I'm adopting a new thought, and it's empowering, I'm saying it, but I don't yet believe it. So, how long do you think that might take me to do? Do people give up going, I've got a new thought. But actually, I still don't believe it today, tomorrow, or next week, and they give up on and go what's not me? Is there a point where we can start to believe our thoughts?  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 26:57 

Yeah, for sure. And it just is a matter of time. And I just tell my clients all the time, like, I know the process, I know how this works, just you just got to stick with the program, like just stick with the program. And just trust me, I know what I'm doing. Because I've done this for so long. And James, I've never not, I've not seen it work, to be quite honest. Like it, but I tell you what, you've got to stick with it. Like it's like fitness train, you're like just like training, we are training our body, we are training our mind. You know, and so, I get clients to write out the new thoughts I get them to, and then I get them to read it over and over again. And for some clients, it might only take a couple of weeks for some clients, if the toxic thought is really rooted in their brain especially and I'll see this with my older clients. If it's rooted in their brain, it will take them longer, because the thought of the toxic thought has been going on longer. So, I actually find I can see faster results with kids and teenagers because the toxic thought hasn't been going around so much. But when I have clients in their 30s, 40s, and 60s, the same process works but it just takes longer. 

 

James Laughlin 28:02 

You can get you can kind of rip the weed out when they're younger kids and young adults. There's no depth to it. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 28:09 

Does that kind of make sense? Like it's just been going it's a numbers game, to be quite honest. It's a bit of a numbers game. And I'll often even not actually because again, I like logic, and I like numbers. And you and I were talking before about how we both love to measure things. I love math, who's always one of my favorite subjects. And so, I thought if I can always kind of apply math to this. And it is like a bit of a math game. So, I'll ask clients like the toxic thought roughly how long has that been going around your head? Well, it goes around my head about 10 times, and for how many years? Well, maybe about like over, you know, 10 years, just add up 10 times to 365 to like, there you go. That's the number and this new healthy thought, how long has this been going on? Well, I've only said it to myself, like two times. I said your feelings, and this is what understand the mechanics of it. Your heart does not know the difference between what's true and what's a lie. If you feed it toxic, toxic thoughts, it will feel it. It doesn't have the ability to say is that truthful? Is it not truthful? And so, you in so it's a bit of a numbers game, if you kind of feed yourself really truthful things, it's just a matter of time before your heart will actually kind of catch up. 

 

James Laughlin 29:10 

I really resonate with that I really do.  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 29:13 

And it doesn't really make sense. It's a bit of a numbers game. And so, I just tell my clients, I'm like, okay, you've got like 185,000 times, your brain has told you that you're stupid and you're not worth it. So, it's going to take a little bit of time, but usually, it only takes a few 100 times it doesn't take anywhere near that. But there's a very specific way that I coach clients, how to challenge it for the brain to really adopt it. It can't be its deeper and bigger than the kind of like you know, kind of once you know one sentences or one kind of comments are like you're worth it like which is true, but especially with a lot of clients, you know, but 70 to 80% of people really identify with the imposter syndrome with insecurity. They have got deep-rooted toxic thoughts about who they are as a person. And so, when we challenge it, we just charge towards it. So, you have to challenge in a certain way for the brain really to kind of adopt it, but, but everyone can do it. And it just takes a lot of discipline to kind of focus on it.  

 

James Laughlin 30:14 

I love it. And so, if we want to charge towards it, how do we do that? What would be the way to do that passionately, and with conviction? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 30:20 

So, in my book, I give this example, there are a number of examples of different kinds of CO leaders that I've kind of worked with. And it's interesting, right? Because we can see people talking about leadership, we can talk, we can see people that have, you know, they're a CEO of like this big company, and they look so confident. And one of the things that I love about my work is when they work with me, and they love the fact that I'm a leadership, developer, and EQ specialist, but I also have this background in counseling, right? So, the mask comes off, and obviously, they start talking about their toxic thoughts. And so, in my book, I kind of explain very specifically how you do it. So again, as I said, I get clients to kind of like write it, what are the toxic thoughts? Just kind of like, make a list? What are the toxic thoughts? And then what are the new thoughts and making sure that the new thoughts are kind, there truthful because you can be kind and loving and be mean about it, right? So, you want to make sure that the new thoughts are kind and loving, and truthful, get a person to focus on what they can control, help them accept what they cannot control, and be specific. It's got to make. So, whatever that new thought is, it has to check off those five boxes. Okay, that's the new mindset. And so, I describe it as kind of like, if I have bad eyesight, I get glasses, right? So, this becomes the new mindset, this is the new glasses for having a healthy mindset. So, whatever thought we're going to be telling ourselves, or giving advice to a friend, those are the five criteria, those are the five that I found. And the way that I figured it out. It's kind of fun, actually. I don't know, maybe, but in my fourth or fifth year of practice, I noticed, you know, self-esteem is a big issue. So, I started kind of doing like gathering all the research and how much that was correlated with anxiety, depression, and all kinds of different things. And I knew you could change thoughts, but I didn't know how you could do it. And so, it was a lot of trial and error. And all I had to do James is kind of thinking about, okay, who do I know in my life that is really good at giving advice? And I figured out five different people in my life. Some were colleagues, some were family members, and some were friends. And then I started figuring out what's the pattern of that advice. Like, you know, a lot of people give advice, but why do some people give really good advice, or really, really want their wise counsel, and some it's like, really bad advice. And I started thinking about these different people and like, what is it that kind of ties the pattern, and I realized it was these five things. These were the five things that spoke the truth but in a loving way. And they got me to focus on things I could control and get me to accept the things I couldn't and then would be really specific about it. And so, whenever I'm getting people to reframe their thoughts, that's the criteria. So, whatever the stimuli that we have, put on the glasses, and think about how we can apply that mindset with whatever, whatever external, tough, difficult stressor that we have in our life. And also, we have a new mindset of actually how to approach life, 

 

James Laughlin 33:20 

Your methodology, like, I know, you cannot see it, but inside, I'm so excited by what you just shared, like so excited. And I know that the person listening right now is probably on their phone on Amazon, ordering the book, I'm going to put the link in the show notes, because that's just one thing you share in the book, but that has the power to transform lives, like transform leadership, transform companies, teams, families. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 33:45 

Yes, yeah, cool. It is so cool. And it applies to every age group. Like I started creating this methodology and understanding this when I started working with teenagers than children. And then when I kind of expanded into working with business leaders, I'm like, this is the same stuff. It's just, that it's reshaped, to apply more to corporate culture, but it's the same stuff. And, again, the beautiful thing about it is that these are all things that every single one of us can learn for ourselves. And that we can actually help teach with our team at work and are actually your children at home. It's the same, it's the same set of tools. And that's kind of what's kind of put me in a bit of an interesting space and the leader because as you and I were chatting about before leadership is a huge umbrella and with really, with what's really set me apart in this world of this leadership arena, is that my, the tools that I teach you can apply to all parts of your life. It's like the same toolkit. So, you can apply this at work, and you can apply this at home same it's the same set of tools. 

 

James Laughlin 34:44 

Yes, really cross-pollinate across all parts of your existence. So, here's what's interesting, it's kind of regional and specific to New Zealand here. We have the highest teenage suicide rate in the OECD, so pretty often, we have the second first or second highest domestic violence rate in the OECD, and the child mortality rate, I think, is third. So, people think in New Zealand, they think of this beautiful cliff, and it is beautiful. But we do have our problems. And my son is now six. And the day he was born, there was a big shift in terms of what my priorities were, as most parents could probably relate to. And I thought, Okay, I've got 10 years, to really learn a lot myself, and then to try and equip him with skills around understanding his emotions and his feelings and how he can manage his mindset. So, he's six, and we've started the work and it's slow. But I've been reaching out to different people that have operated in that space to be like, what can we do because I worked at a private school, and I was there for about 13-14 years, and there were 10 kids that committed suicide in that time.  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 36:01 

Oh, oh, that is tragic.  

 

James Laughlin 

Youngest was 10 years old.  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 

Oh, my God. 

 

James Laughlin 36:07 

Horrific. It's just not good enough. And we need to do something about it. And some people are very passionately trying to do stuff a bit, and others are trying to like brushed under the carpet, let's not talk about it. That's not an option for me. So, with my little boy, Finn, what you're sharing, I think I need to start. He's only six. But I need to start having those conversations. And where do I start with such a young child? And I'm sure there's somebody else listening right now that has a kid that that's young, or they have a child that may be nearing puberty, which is kind of the danger zone for a major mental health crisis? Where do we start initial conversations? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 36:41 

Oh, it's such a good question. And again, this is one of the reasons why I love this topic so much, because leadership applies to all parts of our life, right? And so, when you think about you can teach leadership skills to your children, it's really so I would say that one of the first things and I'm a mom of twin boys that are 15 years old, it's been so fun for me to kind of learn this academically and apply it professionally. And then oh, to apply to my own family. So, my husband jokes, he's like, at the dinner table, I'm like, often I'll start going off on a thing. And my husband's like, Oh, here's another life lesson boys. And I'm like, Mom, okay, I'm like, I got it. Got it. So, I can't like I'm like, so passionate about it, but they're really good sports about it. They're really good sports about it. So, there are lots of different ways you can actually teach kids but one of the couple the really important things, I would actually focus first on a little bit on the east side, or sorry, that this is the stress and the energy, motion management skills. And a really good thing to kind of help kids is to start articulating, what's the language of feelings? Okay, because of feelings, okay. And so, if you think about feelings, and this is really interesting, a lot of people are not able to articulate the language of feelings. So, okay, James, how many feelings do you think we have? 

 

James Laughlin 38:04 

I mean, I think it would that I would probably instantly go to 12, 10, or 12. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 38:09 

Right. So, most people would say that we have hundreds, some experts and we have about, you know, plus 3000 plus, happy said overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, exhausted, perplex tired, passionate, what was that? I don't know. 10? 12? So, we have a huge vault of feelings. Most of us don't know what they are. We don't understand how they work, but they don't understand how they affect us. And so, this would be a really great, simple way for you to start with your son. So, he comes home from school, and you say, how was your day? And how did you feel? Now, most kids will be like, it was good. I was fine. That's not a feeling. Okay. So, feelings are one word. Okay, so feelings are one word happy, sad, nervous, anxious. And so, one of the things that I actually found working with boys, in particular, is if I ask them, how do they feel? They'd be like, I don't know. Because it's like this vault that they don't understand. So, what I do is I give a meant drop-down menu, I'm like, well, did you feel happy, sad, nervous, anxious? See, if we give a multiple choice, they're like, Yeah, you know, I felt happy, or I felt actually sad. So, you by giving them actually starting to kind of teach the language of emotions is a really great way of actually helping them lean in. And so, you get them to actually start articulating with what their emotion is. And then you can actually then your kind of lean in and say, you know, tell me more a little bit about, you know, why did you think that or what happened in your day that kind of caused that and so you can kind of lean into it, but helping them be aware of their emotions is a really, really good a good starting place. It's, it's for sure, a good starting place. Is that helpful? Very, yeah. And you know, one of the things that um, I was just on another podcast, I was talking about this, and the interviewer was like, okay, and he goes in like, Karyn, this is so good. It was around differentiating between a thought and a feeling. This is another really big one, okay? And this kind of ties into both the C and the S going back to the cards analogy, so here's another question for you, James. I feel as though you're a terrible dad. Okay, that's a sentence. Is that a thought or a feeling? I feel as though you're a terrible dad. 

 

James Laughlin 40:17 

So, to me when you say I feel it makes me feel it, that's just you're feeling that. But then again, now that I think about it that you haven't actually described our feeling. It's a thought. It's a thought. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 40:30 

Correct. Okay, everybody listening, this is super important. Because you can apply this both at the office and with your spouse and with your kids. Most people don't answer that question, right? It is a thought. I'm going to say it again. I feel as though you're a terrible dad. I've used the word feel in it. But it's not a feeling. It's actually bad English. And a lot of us talk this way. It should be I think that you're a terrible dad, and therefore I feel frustrated, sad, and disappointed. Why is it so important? Because as a parent, and as a leader, you want to empathize with feelings, but you can challenge thoughts. You never challenge a feeling. So, if somebody says, I feel anxious, I feel depressed, I feel sad, I feel abandoned. You never challenged feelings. But you can challenge the thought. So and so this is a really, really important thing because I see this, you know, if I do marriage coaching, for example, I see this all the time. So, people will say, you know, I feel like you're not really a good partner, but don't challenge me because that's how I feel. And the person's like, What do I do? Like so they feel stuck? Right? But that's actually really bad English. So, you're like, no, no, what is the feeling you can listen to the feeling, you can empathize with the feeling, but you actually challenge thoughts. And this is a really important conflict, work in communication work, but also with your kids. So, with your kids, you help them really understand what's a feeling what's a thought, and to learn and differentiate them. So, I'm going to listen to my feelings, but I'm going to really start paying attention to my thoughts. I'm either going to challenge my thoughts or read or redo my thoughts and just help people. And that's all part of that EQ side that I'm talking about that kind of SI, and you start teaching it young, James, you can start to literally to your kids. Yeah. And kids will pick it up faster, they will actually pick it up faster, I find actually more than adults. 

 

James Laughlin 42:18 

It's interesting because of Finn for the probably the last year and a half. So, from about four and a half through till this point. Often when there's heightened emotion, he will say, he'll have this moment and then he'll say, Dad, I just feel sad. Or that I feel really tired, like after a big outburst. And I'm like, Alright, thank you for sharing that. Like that what you need? Let's talk. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 42:40 

Yeah, so what you do is you empathize with me, like thank you for sharing. So, what you do, thank you for sharing. Helped me understand why you feel sad. Okay. So, listen to the feeling, empathize with the feeling, but lean into it. Okay, so he might say, I feel sad because I got left out at school. Or I feel sad because of my friend who sits down beside me. So obviously, you're going to you're going into the thought. Or he might say, I feel sad because I have no friends. I think I have no friends, dad. So here is the thought and the feeling. And so, we want you to use empathize with the feeling like, you know, thank you for sharing, I can understand you feeling sad. Let's talk about that thought. See, what I'm doing is I'm just helping him separate it. Let's talk about that thought when you say that you think you have no friends. Do you really think that's true? Is that a truthful comment? Because I know that you hang out with Brad and Joey. And so, let's lean into that. Well, yeah, but I don't really hang out with him that much. See, what I'm doing is I'm starting to challenge the thoughts. Because it's very possible that maybe he does have friends. But maybe the one friend that he really wants is not paying attention to him. Do you see what I'm doing? So yeah, so we empathize. We live so feelings are really, really helpful to help us understand what the thought is. But we don't want to just empathize with feelings. In fact, if we empathize too heavily with feelings, sometimes that can actually breed entitlement, you want to be careful about that. Okay, so you listen to the feelings, but your kind of like leaning in fear with what's the thought. Is the thought truthful? Is it or is it really toxic, and that's the part you want to get to and to help it really to help your kids. 

 

James Laughlin 44:17 

And what's so interesting about when you're saying this, I'm seeing and feeling and hearing Finn in this situation, but I'm also seeing a CEO talking to a staff member like it's no different. someone on your team is going to be experiencing the same things. And that's a great methodology that transcends all ages. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 44:33 

Yes, it does. And this is the beautiful thing about this topic. That's why I love it. That's why so many of the CEOs and senior leaders we work with, they're like, Karyn, I love this. I can apply this like, oh my goodness, this is so helpful. I can apply this with my team, I can apply this with my clients, or my customer and I can play with my kids. And that's what I think the beautiful thing about is just it's so transferable to all parts of our life. 

 

James Laughlin 44:52 

And as you were speaking, I was just thinking about feelings and emotions. So, what's the other one in this same or are they different? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 45:03 

It's a little bit of a debatable topic. So, feelings are kind of more with what I was saying like happy, sad, nervous, anxious, perplexed, you know, they're one word, emotions tend to, it's a bit more of a broader topic, and it’s kind of almost embodies more the physical part of it as well. So, for example, if I feel anxious, usually it's because my thoughts are about the future. What if I don't get this job? I think what if I don't get this job? What if I don't get married? What if I don't have this net worth? So, anxiety tends to be fueled by thoughts that are, but the future stress is usually correlated, more of the thoughts around time. I don't know if I have enough time to get this project done. So, when we talk about emotions, it's the feeling part, but it's also how it affects us physically. So if I have anxiety, I might get you to know, really dry throat, my heart might start racing, I might have stomach issues, right? So, it takes on like a physical component, which is why whenever I work with a client, you know, come when you talk about kind of below the line or anytime that they have like, some, you know, some real anxiety, stress depression, like these sees are these are not going to make this stuff up. These are real things. I always have to make sure I'm working with a medical doctor, just because there is a physical, there's a physical impact, you know, and so, and so it's very much of that kind of collaborative approach. But when we think about emotions, we kind of think about both the thoughts, the feelings, but also kind of that physical kind of in terms of how it affects people as well. 

 

James Laughlin 46:28 

That's so helpful. Thank you. Really, really helpful. And let's just for a moment, I'd love to chat about your book. What inspired you to write the book? Why the title, and what's the impact you want to make on the world around you with the book? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 46:42 

Oh, great question. So, the book came out of if anybody has seen my TED talk, you will have heard this story. It'll be a little bit of a repeat. But so, in my second-year practice, I specialized with teenagers, and millennials, I love young people. But it was this one particular day that was a bit of a game-changer. I had all these different teens coming into my office that it was my seven o'clock appointment, she came in, she was about 17 at the time. And she started talking about how she didn't like who she was, and, you know, was interesting. She was a high performer, she was a top A student, and she came from an affluent family, like, on the outside, this girl looks like she has a perfect life. And this is what I saw all the time. But what was interesting is in my office, the mask comes off. And she really starts talking about how I'm not enough. I don't like who I am. And how was it you know, how was affecting her friendships and all kinds? And she had massive anxiety and massive perfectionism. So, it was the way that she looked at me. And you know, when you said you used to work at a private school, I remember looking at her, I said, what has been done about this in your school because like, I keep hearing this narrative. And it was the way that she looked at me, James, she said, nothing. Nothing has been done in my school. And just the way that she looked at me, and I remember saying to her, I'm going to do something like I literally like blurted it out. And at the time I had my Master's in Counseling, I knew about self-esteem, but I didn't really know how it worked and how to change it. So, I just booked off time a, you know, and basically spent a lot of several days at the university and kind of poring through the journals because back before the internet, that's what I had to do. There was no Internet, right? It was like old school; this is how old I am. And so, I literally am like climbing up and down a ladder of these, this, the University of Toronto Libraries and pulling off journals. And I started getting poring through the research and I started seeing this very powerful pattern on confidence and how that affects goal-setting perfection emotions, how you choose friendships, and all that. But it was all me it was all scattered in all these different journals. Like every you know, every researcher has kind of done a different part of the research. And I thought, how can I make this easy for people to understand? And then I just remember sitting back and certainly mulling over how can I kind of make this all fit together. And then I came up with the three chairs. So, the three chairs, I created the concept of three chairs, I started teaching it in schools, I begged high schools to take me You know, I had no speaking background, I begged a principal to take me up on it. And I remember the first time I spoke at a school I had kind of caught decided on the concept of the three chairs. But it never tested. There was no testing James, zero, there was no testing. I just had this idea in my brain. And I said to the principal, give me some actors put me on stage, give me some chairs and I'm going to teach kids about self-esteem. And I literally almost threw up in the car. I was so scared driving to school, I'm like this could really fail badly. But I thought I'm going to go for it. And so, once I gave it my first high school, it was 500 kids. And I watched the body language. They got it once I taught the concept, they got it and I'm like, oh my goodness, this thing is actually resonating. So, I'll share with your viewers just so they can kind of stand with what the three chairs are just so that people can really understand it. So, these are the three chairs in the book that's called the three chairs. And so, what it is, is when I would do this in schools, I would actually have actors, young people act out the characters and give them a little character sketch. So that's very powerful. But when I teach this in companies, I usually just get three chairs, put them in front of people, and kind of explain it. So, here's, here's the concept of it. And this is all based on science is all based on research. And the book gives you all the research on where you know, where I kind of found all this all the data, but the person on the left-hand chair is what I call the insecure leader or the blind data to this the person they put themselves down. So, they're very tough on themselves. They could be a CEO of a company, but internally in their own head, they're, they're really, they're their own worst critic, they put themselves down, they're super tough on themselves. That's where the imposter syndrome kind of fits in. The one on the right chair is what I call the arrogant leader. They're arrogant, they're full of themselves, they put people down, they're pretty aggressive in their communication, and they don't really care how it makes other people feel. And then you've got the middle chair leader, the confident leader, and this is the person who feels really good about themselves. They don't feel like they're better than anybody else. But they have a sense of humility. And this is a really key part. This is a leader that says I know a lot, but I don't know everything. So, I'm going to seek out feedback, I'm going to ask people about my blind spots. And so, I teach the three chairs. And it's powerful. Because once you kind of identify with what chair you're sitting in, you can make very strong educated guesses based on research on what on how you actually make decisions. So, if I'm sitting in the left chair, and this is really good for parents, so but if I've got a 10-year-old, and they're sitting in the left chair, James, who do you think they're going to be attracted to? For their friends? What's your guess? 

 

James Laughlin 51:27 

In terms of being there, so the one on the right share was the arrogant alone. Yeah, in the middle is heart-centered. Yeah, they are. Yeah. And then on the left, so they're probably going to not make great choices and friends. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 51:45 

Right. Exactly. And that's what we find. Research tells us that if I if I've got a child who's sitting in that left chair, they are more likely to choose friends that are also sitting in that left chair or sitting in that right chair. 

 

James Laughlin 51:58 

Interesting. So, they're not going to vote for the person that's got that self-confidence.  

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 52:03 

No, if I've got a child who's sitting in that middle chair, they're more likely to be unconsciously attracted to people who are sitting in the middle chair now a lot of times, so just take that one little bit of data, just like that one. I mean, okay, so this is what I got so excited about when I'm sitting at this university, and I'm feeling like, I'm like, hang on a second. So, if somebody is insecure, they're more likely to be attracted to other people who are insecure. And I was like, well, that doesn't make any sense. But when you understand the mechanics of it, it actually does make sense because what happens is, if I'm in that left here, if my child is in that left chair, and I'm telling myself toxic thoughts, we talked about toxic thoughts, right? If I'm telling myself toxic thoughts, I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. What does that middle chairperson going to do? They're going to say, Karyn, you're worthy. But that doesn't match what I think. So, what will I do? I will discount it. You're just saying that you're supposed to say that you're my counsel, you're my mom, you're my parent, you're my friend. I won't believe them. Because it doesn't match my thinking. But the person on the right chair will say you're not worthy. That matches what I'm telling myself. So, guess who is attracted? And that's why friendships are attracted, usually in those two chairs, and also dating partners. Wow. So, I'll tell you a really cool story, James, I was speaking in a private school in New York City. This is a number of years ago. And I was parenting it was a parenting event. And it was on three chairs. And afterward, I have a woman come up to me and mom and she says, where are you going right now? So, I have to go back to the airport and get flying back to Toronto. She goes my limos downstairs kind of give you back. Can I give you a drive in my limo, back to LaGuardia Airport? I'm like, Sure, great New York City is great. You know, that'd be crazy with air with taxis. So, I get into her limo. And with all the traffic took us about an hour and for an hour, she debriefed her life, according to these three chairs. She goes, Karyn, she goes, I came to hear about a parenting conference. And I'm sitting I'm listening to, and those three chairs actually blew my mind away. Because all of a sudden, I could understand why I made certain choices. Why I chose certain friends. Why did I marry the husband? I did because I'm seeing the left chair come from a very affluent family. Everybody thinks we have this great life. And I have massive anxiety and very low self-esteem. And who do I marry, I married this guy? Our marriage is horrible. He blames everything on me. I'm the problem. We have a horrible marriage, we divorce and now so I'm now single, I've got this daughter. And where she says she's sitting in this chair. And she goes, I'm just listening to you. And I just everything started making sense. And this is again, when we talk about why this is not being taught in schools, right? So, you know, she said, this is such a simple, brilliant concept. And she goes, I want to be that model. I want to show my daughter what this looks like. Because, you know, we don't we're not born in these chairs, James, we learn. We learn where to sit. And we learn from a lot of different places, but what I found in my work and 25 years, the best predictor is our parents and even more specifically, the same gendered parent, there are exceptions to that. I see lots of exceptions. But I would say from the majority perspective, that's what I see. So, if I'm sitting in that left chair, and I have a 15-year-old daughter, and she sees me afraid to take risks, she sees me care what other people think she sees me not say, no, she sees me kind of, you know, be feedback, fragile and fall apart, she sees me, weigh myself all the time. She picks it all up. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 55:28 

We learn it. But if she sees me sit in that middle chair, she sees me set boundaries, she sees me see feedback as data, she sees me prioritize self-care, and she also learns that every parent listening, learns how to sit in the middle chair for yourself, and show your children what this looks like. Just be it. show it because they will start learning it without even realizing that they're learning it. So, you know, when you talk about little Finn, you know, for you to show them, you know what this is what the middle chair looks like. And for any parent. You know, again, this is a business book, right? It's a business book. But I taught this to teenagers and children in the TED Talk. What's a little bit different about the TED Talk, is when I taught the three chairs, and in my TED talk, I intentionally broaden the audience so that people could watch the TED Talk as a family, in schools, and with companies. And so again, if you go to our website, you can actually download questions. You can download discussion questions for families, schools, and for teams to come to watch the TED talk, and then go through the questions. Because the whole point is, I don't want I want people to learn this Yes, in the workplace. But let's start teaching it to kids. Let's start teaching it to schools, you know, that all of us can learn how to sit in the middle chair. And so, for Mother's Day, with my own boys, I said, I don't need a gift. What I want for Mother's Day this year, is I want us to watch the TED talk together. They hadn't seen it yet. And I want us to print off my own discussion questions. And let's discuss it as a family and James, it was amazing for my husband, my twin to 15-year-old, and myself. I just let them watch the TED Talk. And they had not seen it yet. And then we went through it literally every question that is on our handout, we had the most amazing family conversation about where we see ourselves sit. Maybe when we see ourselves sitting in the left chair, the right chair, we're nobody in the middle chair because nobody sits, I forgot to mention this. Nobody sits 100% in this chair. Okay, all of us are moving around. Okay, there's no such thing as perfect. So, nobody sits there 100%. My question for everybody listening and watching is where do you see yourself sitting the majority of the time? And, and then you can also kind of even broaden it. You can even ask yourself, Okay, so when do you see yourself sitting in that right chair? When do you see yourself standing, I've had, I have had, you know, senior leaders that I work with, say, Karyn, it works, I have seen the middle, I am confident I know when I go home, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to connect with my spouse, I don't know how to connect with my kids. You know, and so it's interesting, we move around, we move around. So, where do we see the majority of the time? And what can we do to help ourselves sitting in the middle chair? 

 

James Laughlin 58:11 

Yeah, I hear you sound like you know, lead yourself first, learn to do this. And then you can lead others whether that's your kids, your team, whoever that is, actually figure it out for yourself. I really love that approach. 

 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 58:25 

Mm-hmm. Well, it speaks because, you know, one of the things I learned working with teenagers many years ago is the one thing that they hate is hypocrisy. So, you know, when so parents listening, if you're sitting in that left to that right chair, and you're trying to pump up your kids is that the middle chair, they won't listen to you. You won't have earned the respect; you have to show them how what this looks like. And by showing them and again, that's not perfection, you know, it's kind of like, you know, but really trying to really show them how to, you know, as best as you can, I mean, again, nobody's in that middle chair all the time. But if you can really try to show them what that looks like that is going to be your best kind of education for your kids. 

 

James Laughlin 59:06 

Incredible. Well, I can't wait to be getting that book for a lot of my clients and friends and family so they can check it out. I'm going to put that in the show notes. And also, your TED talk. I know that whoever's listening right now will want to check out that TED Talk. It's got north of a million views in the last three months. That's incredible. And it's only growing. So, I'll make sure to put that in there. So, if you're listening right now, please go and check that out right after the podcast. Awesome. That's amazing. I just want to say a huge thank you. We've always got a question that I like to ask at the end before we wrap up. And that question is there. So, let's say we fast forward to the end of your life. That's many, many years out from now. And you've got a very young person, in your family or in your life that you care about. And they want to ask you one last question. No question is this. How do I lead my life? with purpose, what advice would you give them? 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 1:00:04 

How do you live your life with purpose? Oof, it's like a divine question. I think, I think, you know, I talk in the book about six, what I call the six Ps of engagement. For somebody to really be successful, however, you define it, there's kind of six kinds of buckets, they have to pay attention to six P's of engagement, you can apply to companies, self, and also with your kids is it's an amazing goal exercise, actually. But one of the six P’s is on purpose. That's actually the that's actually the first. And so, we teach, we have a career course that we teach young people. And for me, when I was trying to figure out what my career was going to be when I had finished grad school, I was trying to figure out what that is. And I knew that I didn't know exactly what I wanted my job to be, I just, knew I wanted to help people. And I realized, that was my purpose. My purpose is to really help people I want, I want to help people live their very best life, I want them to learn how to sit in the middle chair. And so, whether or not that means I am speaking to high school students or reading books, or doing courses. To me, it's really helping people understand and identify their self-worth. That's my purpose, and my purpose, you know, my career purpose, but also in my own family. And also, in terms of like, you know, the people that I surround myself with are really helping people identify with what their purpose is and really understanding what their self-worth is that that is what I'd say is my absolute purpose. 

 

James Laughlin 1:01:37 

I love it. And again, you are modeling it, so that young person in many years’ time will look at and see what you're doing how you're doing it, that you'd rather than even verbalize the advice, you're walking the talk. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 1:01:48 

Mm-hmm. I hope so. You know, my word, I don't know if you do this, James. But I actually, every year I choose a word for myself, I've kind of I've said all kinds of different goals. But I'll always have like one word, that is kind of my word. And this year, my word was impact. I really, you know, I felt like, for 25 years, I have worked with the most amazing families and companies and teams. But it's an intercompany. And you know, there's only X amount of people that we can kind of work with. And so, this was the year to really, my word impact. You know, we talked earlier about kind of the global impact. And I think that's why I was just so excited about the TED Talk and the book and podcasts, right? Like, to me podcasts are like a great way of giving that, you know, kind of reaching more people and having an impact. And so, I hope everyone's found this really helpful check out the resources and really lean into it. You know, I hope this has inspired people to kind of take action to really understand their own self-worth and how that is really the starting point was being a great leader. 

 

James Laughlin 1:02:44 

You've been sent an amazing guest to chat with. And your message is phenomenal. It's really powerful. And it's very simple, I understand and the way you distill it, it's very helpful for me to just actually understand and embody it. And so, I'm excited to share that with the 1000s of listeners that are listening to this. So, you've impacted definitely 1000s more people today. I wish you nothing but the best. And I look forward, I don't think this is the last time we're going to chat. I feel there are going to be more conversations. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 1:03:10 

I know, I'm telling you, there are so many parts. I mean, we really just kind of focus on what really, to be honest, we just really focus on the stress side, actually, that the last category. We got lots more we could talk about James. 

 

James Laughlin 1:03:22 

Between now and our second conversation, I've got a challenge for the listener right now. Listener, buy the book, read the book, highlight the notes, write all your questions, and if anybody has any questions that they want me to post to Dr. Karyn, can send them to me and in our second conversation, we will dive deeper into the book. 

 

Dr. Karyn Gordon 1:03:42 

That's great, that's great to take away and then do the scorecard everybody that is a really good way around, lean into this like this is all based on science, whether your practical things that they can do, everybody can do to kind of get themselves in that middle chair. And when we think about the middle chair, again, that middle chair concept they have they have worked on those five skills that I've talked about in those five cards. So that's kind of the secret sauce and all of us don't matter what our educational background is, what our age is what our title is, of us can learn how to learn to sit in the middle chair when we develop these five skills. 

 

James Laughlin 1:04:15 

So amazing. Thank you so much, Karyn. You have the most amazing day.  

Dr. Karyn Gordon 

Thank you so much. 

 

James Laughlin 1:04:35 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.