Laura Gassner Otting is a professional motivational keynote speaker and Washington Post best-selling author who helps innovators, idealists, and iconoclasts get “unstuck” in their thinking and achieve extraordinary results. She inspires others to push past the doubt and indecision that consign great ideas to limbo. Laura encourages others to think bigger and accept greater challenges beyond their current limited scope of belief. She delivers strategic thinking, well-honed wisdom, and catalytic perspective informed by decades of navigating change across the start-up, nonprofit, political, and philanthropic landscapes. Laura dares listeners to identify their voice, and generate the confidence necessary to tackle bigger-than-life challenges while exploring innovative ways of leading, managing, and mentoring others. She is an instigator, a motivator, and a provocateur, and she has never met a revolution she didn’t like.
Laura’s 25-year resume is defined by her entrepreneurial edge. She served as a Presidential Appointee in Bill Clinton’s White House, helping shape AmeriCorps; left a leadership role at Isaacson Miller, to expand the startup ExecSearches.com. She founded and ran the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, which partnered with the full gamut of mission-driven nonprofit executives, from start-up dreamers to scaling social entrepreneurs to global philanthropists. She is the author of Mission-Driven, a book for those moving from profit to purpose. She is also the author of Limitless.
Bryan Wish: Laura, welcome to the One Away Show.
Laura Gassner Otting: Hi, Bryan. Glad to be here.
Bryan Wish: Hi. Great to have you here. So glad you were open to this. It’s very aligned to your work, as I’ve shared with you, and excited for you to be able to share the things that you’re into, but to get started, curious, what is the one away moment that you want to share with us today?
Laura Gassner Otting: So the one away moment for me was when I walked into a tiny little strip mall campaign office in Gainesville, Florida, and saw a video of then governor Bill Clinton talking about an idea of community service in exchange for college tuition. And I had that lightning bolt moment where suddenly I was like, this needs to happen. He needs to get elected. We need to have this program. This makes so much sense. And I dropped out of law school. I joined the campaign and my entire life changed.
Bryan Wish: Wow. Okay. So what were you doing in Gainesville, just so the audience knows, and what about maybe that message, that idea, really spoke to you and how did you-
Laura Gassner Otting: So I was in law school at University of Florida. I was 20 years old. I had graduated early from college. I skipped kindergarten and I graduated early from college, so I was a little young, and I started in the January class. So I graduated from college from University of Texas in December of 1991. Started law school in January of 1992. I was going to turn 21 years old in February of 1992.
So I was young, but the January class of law school is like a non-traditional class, right? Quote, unquote nontraditional class. There are people who are coming back to school after being gone for a while. There are people that are reinventing their careers, so not people that are on the typical academic track. So I’m 20 years old and I’m looking at my left, I’m looking to my right, and people are showing pictures of their kids to each other and sometimes their grandkids to each other. And I’m like, I can’t even legally go drink at the freshman class happy hour afterwards, because these people are going to have to certify when I pass the bar exam that I uphold the law and clearly I’m like going to pull up my fake ID because I’m 20 years old to go to this bar.
So on there, having spent my entire childhood thinking, I’m going to solve all the problems. I want to run for office, I want to be the first female Democratic Senator from the great state of Florida, PS that job’s still available. There has not been a female Democrat elected to the Senate, so Florida get on that. But I thought I was going to be the one.
I grew up in a home where we watched the news every night at dinner, the six o’clock news, and then the anchor would do their editorial piece at the end, and we would discuss it as a family. And so I grew up righteously indignant about famine in Ethiopia, and the AIDS crisis and the hostage crisis and all of these things. And I was like, I’m going to run for office. I’m going to solve the problems. So the plan was go to law school, graduate, of course with honors, get a job in the DA’s office, put the bad guys away, make some like big splashy headline case, get recruited to run, win, of course, right? If I’m graduating with honors, I might as well like extend the fantasy, right? So I’m like landslide victory. And there I am to solve the problems and I get to law school and I realize that I don’t want to be there.
I’m not like any of the other students. I was the kid on the very first day that got called on by the teacher to answer the question and answer the question and answer the question. Like that Socratic method style, where you just basically beat the student into submission. And I went about 40 minutes until I couldn’t answer a question anymore and then I just collapsed in a pile of tears. So that was my first day of law school. So what do when you’re somewhere where you don’t really know if you belong, you can’t find your real community, you are completely mortified because you didn’t know 47 minutes of case law, you only knew 41 on your first day of law school. You date a boy who’s terrible for you.
So I started dating a boy in the class who was awful and probably a good human, but like not the kind of guy you really want to be dating, but you know, when you’re in a bad place, you do stupid things. So I ride, I swear this story’s coming to an end, I promise this shagging dog story, but it’s worth it. So I used to ride my bike to campus and it was raining that day, so he’s like, well, I’ll give you a ride back to your apartment, we’ll just stick your bike in the back of my IROC Z, which tells you everything you need to know about this guy, right? Let’s stick your bike in the back of my IROC Z, but first I want to stop at this guy’s campaign office. He’s running for president.
I was like governor who? From where? Arkansas? Not a chance in hell. George HW Bush had just won desert storm, he had a 91% approval rating, the Democrats were searching for a sacrificial lamb just to put on the ticket because Bush was going to get reelected. But we stop at this guy’s office and kids, if you’re listening, this is how you used to get information, you’d have to go to like a little strip mall, like pick up paper that had the candidate’s stances on it, because the internet didn’t exist. And I walk in, he’s going to talk to the volunteers to pick up the paper. And I go in, and I watch this TV in the corner and there’s Governor Bill Clinton, giving this impassioned plea about this idea of service. You do community service, you change a community while you also change yourself, and in that bargain, you get college tuition. And it was like this lightning bolt moment that hit me where all of a sudden I went from, I’m going to solve all the problems, I can do it, I can help too, that needs to happen, let’s get the right person in the right place so that we can change policy for all. That was my one away moment.
Laura. I mean you can deliver a talk. There’s no doubt. One, thank you for the detail. Very cool. It’s also really interesting just with how you grew up, you talked about the 6:00 PM news, the ambition of just like I want to take on the world’s problems and just how maybe that was put right in front of you. You knew like that was a draw that you needed to go pursue. Before we kind of talk about where that led and led to. I’m just curious, you sound like you were always fairly ambitious from a young age, but when you kind of look back on childhood and you look back on maybe events growing up, can you point to anything that was very formative and that maybe shaped that ambition to maybe go out and serve the world in a really big way?
Laura Gassner Otting:
So I was always ambitious, but I was ambitious for the wrong things. I was ambitious for the grades and the gold star and the accolades and the attention. And I was ambitious to achieve success in the way that everybody else told me I should achieve it, would make me happy. So I did all the things. And what I found was that all of that left me exhausted and empty, right? I checked all the boxes, they were all full, but I still felt empty. I grew up in a home of parents who were like the first generation to go to college and to really achieve and to do well and to change the socioeconomic status.
My sister who has two MBAs, was one of those kids who came out of the womb beautiful and just never had an awkward stage. She was just one of those was like, she floated all the way through middle school and high school, never had a hard time. And because I skipped kindergarten, as I mentioned earlier, I guess I knew how to stack blocks and share at an early age, I was just a year behind her in school. And all of my male friends all had crushes on her because she was beautiful. And I remember at one point crying to my mom about it, being like none of my friends and they all like Karen and they don’t like me. And she was like, “Don’t worry, Laura, you’re the smart one.” Right? Okay. My sister has two MBAs. So it’s not like she’s the dumb one. That was one of those things that I kind of hung my hat very early on, on being the smart one, on having the brains, on being the person who could overachieve in that area.
And I think that a lot of us get that when we’re growing up, we get defined by something like you’re the athletic kid, you’re the soccer kid, you’re so great at dancing or whatever the thing is that somebody at some point just happened to say one random day. And it was probably an off the cuff statement and we just take it as definitional to who we are. And so it’s funny because I did always want to achieve, but I don’t know that I wanted to achieve because of the righteous indignation about the way the world was, I might have possibly wanted to achieve, because I saw the people who were solving those problems as leaders. And I thought leaders were the people who were out front, who had the spotlight on them, who had the boldface names, who were famous, who people knew, and it wasn’t until much later in life, actually, once I went to go work in the White House, that I realized that there are so many different ways to define leader and there’s so many different ways to lead.
And frankly, ironically, now that I actually make my living in the spotlight on stage, I’ve realized that my comfort zone is actually not being the person who gets all the accolades and who is the big star. I do a lot of political fundraising, just as a hobby on the side, and there’s a photo of a Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who was in my living room, actually in my dining room, and she is talking to a whole group of people that are gathered. And the photo is of her in the distance sort of blurry and me right in front of the camera, but the picture’s taken from behind me, so you can sort of see the side of my face, very sharp and clear, and she’s giving her talk. And I have this look on my face that my grandmother would say is felling. I’m just like, so proud of her and happy and excited about just being able to do this thing for her. And I am stage left and she is center her stage and what I learned is that I can actually lead in my community and I can make change for the things that I care about, but I don’t have to be the high achiever, gold star chaser, looking for all the accolades anymore.
Bryan Wish: You know, I think that’s a really profound lesson to learn and also realize how it ties back to everything that you just said of how you can make changes within the community, maybe without being the person front and center, but activating and propelling the people who need to be front and center.
Laura Gassner Otting: Yes.
Bryan Wish: By giving them the best chance to enact the change that you care about.
Laura Gassner Otting: And it’s interesting because actually when I left the White House, and I know you want to go back and walk through some of these things, but when I left the White House, I actually became a head hunter. I went into executive search, and the job of executive search is being a person behind the scenes who puts the right people in the right position so that they can get the right things done.
Bryan Wish: And while we’re on the topic, it’s okay, this is the beauty of this show is that we can let it be fluid. When you talk about community organizing or putting people on the right seat, what have you learned about that over your career? How do you do that? And I know your work is a lot about helping people reach their highest potential, so in a sense, you’re putting people on platforms where they can excel. What have you learned, maybe a few lessons or things that stand out that enable that to happen for an individual?
Laura Gassner Otting: In order to put the right people in the right place or for somebody to make the change they want to make?
Bryan Wish: I mean, more in the community organizing side, putting people in the right place to enact the change.
Laura Gassner Otting: So I’ll say a couple things. From the organizational side, the biggest mistake that people make when they’re trying to find the right people to help them get where they want to get to is they either say the person who was leading us just left, let’s find exactly the same person, because they were great. Or they say the person who was leading us just left and let’s find exactly the opposite person, because they were terrible, right? And they don’t stop and ask a very important question, this is a theme because asking the right questions is the way you get the right answers. So that’s number one from the organization side, and then I’ll tell you from the individual side, from the organizational side, the question they should ask themselves is what would success look like in six months, in 12 months, in 18 months, in 24 months? And what kind of person do we need to help us get there?
Because sometimes the person who got you to where you are is not the same person who’s going to keep you going to where you want to get to, right? You might need a different person. If you think about an orchestra, for example, you might have somebody who wrote the most beautiful music in the world, but once they’ve written the music, you don’t want them to then be the person leading the orchestra or playing the first chair of violin. Maybe they are a great conductor or great violinist. But most of the time you’re probably looking for a top-notch conductor now to then take what they’ve wrote and put that into practice, and in order for them to do that, then you need to find the first chair violinist. So you have to think about where we are in the fight, where we are in the scaling, where we are in the growth, where we are in whatever it is that we’re doing and what kind of person needs to get us to the next level? So that’s from the organization side.
From the individual side, the mistake we make is the mistake I was making when I was in college. How can I help? How can I be the person to solve all the problems? What can I do? And then you get the hammer nail problem, which is, I am a hammer so everything looks like a nail to me, right? So this is, and I ended up giving a TED talk about this, a TEDx talk, this is where we see children in Australia who are struggling with the entire continent being on fire and we send stuffed koala bears, because we want them to know that they’re loved. Well stuffed koala bears are flammable. So that’s a pretty stupid thing to send, right?
That’s a funny example, but a more serious example is when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 67,000 teddy bears descended on that tiny town of Newtown, Connecticut, a town that only has 25,000 residents in total, by the way, 67,000 teddy bears. So the amount of money that it would cost to buy and ship and store and distribute and eventually incinerate those bajillion teddy bears could be better used is for lobbying for common sense gun control or grief counseling for these families or rebuilding the school or any of the other things that might make sense.
So from the individual side we have to stop asking, how can I help? And we have to start asking what needs to happen, right? So how can I help is I’m going to run for office and solve all the problems, what needs to happen is this guy’s got a great idea, let’s get him in office so that we can make this work. How can I help is I’m going to go out and start a nonprofit. What needs to happen is I can become a head hunter and put the right people in the right positions to actually run organizations that are already doing good things.
And so in every place in our life, if you’re a manager and you have staff members that are coming into your office all the time, all day long with problems and your chief complaint, and I hear this from so many of my executive coaching clients is I can’t get any deep work done because my staff is coming in all day long with these little problems. My answer is stop solving their problems, stop saying how can I help? What can I do for you? Let me give you the answer. And to them, what needs to happen for you to feel more successful? What might need to happen is, oh, I actually need to learn how to use this program. So you get them training rather than teaching them how to code that one box in Excel 15 times a day. So it’s really shifting the conversation I think both on the organization and the community organizing side and on our individuals deep, deep, deep, compelling desire to solve our own egos, just like let’s get some dopamine and solve the problem and keep going.
Bryan Wish: Beautiful. I love the holistic approach that, okay, how do we do it at the community level? How do we do it at the individual level? And I think it’s a great transition back to where we started about seeing the opportunity, tuition through community service and Bill Clinton’s message. And I think for you saying what needs to happen, and maybe you seeing a platform that enabled something aligned to you to happen. So I think it’s great that we have some context now into kind of your background. So back to the story, in a sense, when you kind of marched, you said you went into the office near campus, by the way, both my parents went to Florida.
Laura Gassner Otting: Oh, okay.
Bryan Wish: Spent a lot of time in Gainesville growing up. And so, what did happen once you saw this opportunity, you realized you were maybe different from a lot of the students on campus and but you saw an opportunity to create impactful change?
Laura Gassner Otting: Yeah. So I want to just be clear about one word, which is different. I saw that I was different from everyone else on campus and I want to make sure that the understanding of that word is not that I thought I was better than other people on campus. I was just different than them. It just wasn’t the right place for me. And I think a lot of times we think that when we’re different from other people, it’s because we’re worse than them, right? And everyone’s so much better than us, and we feel badly, we feel like we don’t belong. And so I just, when I wrote limitless, I wrote it because what I realized after 20 years of doing executive searches, that we’re all different from each other, and we’re all different from who we are, like who I was when I was 20 is different than who I was when I was 30, 40, and now 50.
So I love different. I think different’s really good. We’re going to talk more about that later, but I definitely didn’t think like, oh, I’m better than, I don’t belong. It was more just like, I was having like organ rejection failure. Like I just could not be there. I didn’t know what was right, but I knew that that was wrong. So I walk into the office and he’s giving this talk on this little teeny TV, and I’m like, that makes so much sense. So I start volunteering for the campaign. And about three weeks later, all four principals, Bill and Hillary and Al and Tipper Gore, all come to Gainesville and you know, Gainesville, not a big place. We got 36,000 people to show up at that rally. So the national office was like, who are those volunteers in Gainesville? We got to get them on payroll. We got to staff them up.
Well, it turns out getting on payroll of the campaign means you get paid all the Ramen soup and idealism you can eat. So I got on a campaign bus, I started traveling all around the south of the country putting on rallies, so showing up three days before the candidate would show up, you get the volunteers organized, you put up the bunting, you alert the press, you figure out the security lines for the secret service, like all the logistics that you do. And then the candidate lands and literally halfway through their talk, you’re already like on the bus to the next place. And it was a great thing to do when I was 21 and really did not quite know what I wanted, but I knew that I had this calling to serve this leader who was who supremely charismatic and inspirational, and just had this idea that I think made so much sense. And then as I got to know his ideas, I realized that he was actually really aligned with a lot of other things that I thought, which is interesting because I grew up with a father who was a Reagan Republican.
And when I was in 11th grade, all of my peers were registering to vote. And I was again, a year younger because I’d skipped kindergarten, so I couldn’t register. I was still 17. They were turning 18. And I was walking around the classroom, literally trying to talk people into registering as a Republican, which is hilarious because I have never been a Republican in my life, I’ve never voted for a Republican, it’s not that I don’t like them, that’s not where I’ve been. What I realized was that I’m actually a pretty centrist Democrat. And so there were those moments in your life where you’re like, oh, everything I thought up until now was defined by other people in my life who told me what I should think and who I am and what makes sense for me, and it turns out the reason why it isn’t working is not because I’m miserable and middle school sucks, it’s because, although everybody is miserable and middle school does suck except for my sister, but it’s because I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t, and that’s just exhausting.
Bryan Wish: Totally. And you know, you’re talking about being different, I’m just thinking back to high school and even college, I think a lot of people they develop political interest, I’m not saying later, but maybe not as passionate or adamant about politics in high school or even early in college until they I think face the real world. It seems like your parents did a good job at exposing you to the real world a bit earlier. Is that another reason maybe you felt a little different than the norm, just because your view on humanity and the world was maybe a bit more evolved and so people kind of connect and relate and like politics was an outlet for you to make more macro change?
Laura Gassner Otting: I don’t know. I think I’ve always been sort of constitutionally incapable of small talk. I’m just, as much as I want to know what your plans are over the holidays, I just don’t. Like, I just don’t care. I want to know you, I want to how you’re feeling, I want to know what you’re excited about, but your vacation plans over the summer? I just, I can’t, it’s not me. And what I realized was that it’s not that I don’t like small talk, I just don’t like shallow interaction. Like I like to talk about real things and there’s nothing more real than like people dying, right? Like global warming, starvation, oppression, it’s real. And I also, frankly, I am a cis gendered, straight, white female. I’ve got a master’s degree. I’m happily married for 25 years to my original spouse. I’ve got two healthy children. I’m privileged AF, right? So if I can’t do something with this privilege, I’m kind of an asshole, you know?
Bryan Wish: Totally. Yeah. Well, it’s a good I think we recognize the privilege that we have and then figure out what’s the difference that we can go make with it, and that you’re recognizing that about yourself, and also I really align with you on deep connective talk versus the shallow talk, I think.
Laura Gassner Otting: Sure. That’s why you do the show.
Bryan Wish: Right. Yeah. It’s not-
Laura Gassner Otting: You jump right into what’s the pivotal moment in your life, that’s not a shallow conversation. I love that conversation. It’s funny because when I would do search, so I did executive search for nonprofit organizations, mission driven, universities, foundations, advocacy organizations, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time listening to why somebody wants to increase shareholder value for Coca-Cola or Hilton hotel chains or Apple. I mean, like no offense to use all of those chains, they’re all great. But just spending my days listening to somebody talk about that. I don’t know. It was much less interesting than when I was 24 years old. I laid with a gunshot wound in the arms of my nephew and promised myself that if I survived, I would get out of this gang and I would make sure that he never was in one. And that we changed our neighborhood, right?
Or I got a call three in the morning, and it was because Egypt Air 800 went down and I had to show up in front of 500 reporters and how do you get so good at crisis management? Well, because my father was a drunk growing up, and so I never knew a Friday, he’d come home with an envelope of cash, an empty gin bottle, or a knife, and you get good at crisis. And people would share their stories with me like this, of like a diagnosis, an accident, a world event, a something that happened that completely changed the trajectory of who they were and where they were going and what they thought actually mattered in the world. And so, like you, I got to hear about these pivotal moments and those two stories I told you, those are real stories from people who I placed in jobs, and that’s how you know, when the shit hits the fan at two in the morning, you know that the person is going to show up because it matters to them because they were cradled by their nephew when they were 24, because they dealt with those crises growing up. It matters to them. It’s not just like, is the stock price going up today or down today? This is their livelihood, but it’s their life.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. And due to everything that you just said, it sounds like you really had to develop a strong muscle around empathy and comfort and care earlier than most. I’m sure it pays off in your raising a family and things of that nature. But I bet those muscles to be finessed a little bit earlier.
Laura Gassner Otting:
You know, it’s funny that you say that because I think I was a late bloomer in that area. I remember two particular moments in the beginning of my freshman year in college, neither of which I’m very proud of, but the first was when we were unpacking, I grew up privileged in suburbs of Miami, my father was a doctor. I didn’t want for much growing up, we were not fabulously wealthy, but I had a very secure childhood and I went to a high school that we actually had to walk through metal detectors to go through, there was a ton of drug crime in Miami in the eighties and the school was super diverse, we were like a third black, a third Latino, a third white and of the Latinos there were like the Venezuelans and the Cubans and the Puerto Ricans. And the blacks you had the Dominicans and the African, everybody, to Haitians, it was bouillabaisse. You had a little bit of everything.
Bryan Wish: And the Lauras.
Laura Gassner Otting: Yeah. There were just a ton of fascinating people. I saw poverty and I saw drugs and I saw crime, but I didn’t see like homelessness, right? I didn’t see homelessness and I didn’t see a lot of diversity in terms of disability. And so when I got to college, I remember we were all unpacking on the first day we were carrying our stuff in and there was a ramp going into the dorm, and I made some comment, like, why is there a ramp here? None of us were in wheelchairs. And the woman who was unpacking the car next to me was like, well, my mom is, and I was like, oh, I’m an asshole. Okay. Right.
I just didn’t even, it was such an arrogant … I was so completely just like self focused at that moment, and I remember a few weeks later, we were all out drunk one night and there were people sleeping on the street. And I was like, why are they sleeping on the street? It’s raining. And the same friend was like, Laura, he’s homeless. I was just like, oh. I just hadn’t encountered either of those things in my life, and so I was that typical person who like, if you don’t see it, you just don’t even realize it exists.
So there I am, this high school student, who’s righteously indignant about the AIDS crisis and famine in Ethiopia, and the hostage crisis, and yet completely blind to like the human condition right next to me. So I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if, unless you grow up with that in your home or in a home that is actively volunteering and involved in those communities. I think most kids are selfish idiots, and I think a lot of times they grow up to be selfish idiots as adults because we can create our own world now. With social media, you don’t have to see anything that makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to see anybody who disagrees with you. So I think we live in this world where we can maybe under develop our empathy muscles if we choose to do so.
And so my very unpopular political belief is that we should reinstate a draft, some sort of draft or compulsory service. Doesn’t have to be military service, but some sort of one year of service where you go to a community that isn’t yours, you serve along people who don’t look like you, who don’t act like you, who don’t pray like you, love like you, think like you, and you help other people, but you also change yourself in the bargain because you’re getting to interact with people who you wouldn’t normally interact with. And I think if I had had that experience in high school, it wouldn’t have been such a schmuck when I got to college freshman year.
Bryan Wish: It’s interesting, just back to the privilege of growing up, it’s like you were blinded by some of the just big things in your own backyard, yet you could see the big things of the world. And I think privilege can sometimes blind us to that, and maybe to your point, restrict the empathy muscle from being used. And maybe when you grow up with a little more hardship, that muscle has developed a little bit earlier. Let’s keep on the track too, I want to get back to, these tangents are awesome, by the way, I want to get back to, you said, I think where we last stopped was you were going on the campaigns or setting up these events and then by the time Bill spoke, you were on off to the next place. I’m just curious for you, you were really pulled in this direction at 20 years old and then went down this path. Where did this all kind of take you? What happened as a result of serving on the campaign?
Laura Gassner Otting: Well, it took me to the White House.
Bryan Wish: Okay.
Laura Gassner Otting: So my very first real grown up job was working in the White House, which is kind of ridiculous, and you will hate me less if you know that the job that I had just before that was in high school where I was changing bed pans at a hospital. So it wasn’t all like rainbows and stars. Although a friend of mine joked around that they were probably both equally shitty jobs, ba-dum-dum-cha. I ended up at the White House and I got there because on the campaign trail, I met a guy by the name of Patrick, who was the one who was organizing all the volunteers and where they were going when, and so on day one, well during the transition period between when the election happens and when the next president gets sworn in, it’s called the transition, the presidential transition.
And it’s when all of staffing happens and we’re setting up systems, and Patrick was the one who was in charge of figuring out where all the volunteers would go. And so I, Bill Clinton won, I was in Little Rock, my job on election night was making sure the flags were like in the right place behind Bill Clinton, when he would accept and like give his victory speech and making sure all of the snacks and the Diet Cokes, they drank a lot of Diet Cokes, the snacks and the Diet Cokes were actually set up well in the green room back in the Governor’s Mansion. I was like a peon to the peon to the peon. But I went from Little Rock, drove back home to Gainesville and was like, all right, what do I do now? And Patrick called me and said, “Hey, you should come to DC.”
So I packed up all of my belongings in my little Nissan, 200 SX, and I got on the auto train from Florida and I went to DC, not really knowing if I would know anybody, and I called the JCC, I remember on the way, the Jewish Community Center, I called from like a payphone at one of the train stations and I was like, hi, do you have like a board or anything where people are looking for roommates? I’m on the train going to DC and I need to find a roommate. The woman who answered the phone was like, actually I need a roommate. So I end up moving into this woman’s apartment, I don’t know who she is, I don’t know her from Adam, from Eve, whatever. And I end up moving into her basement apartment in Adams Morgan. It was me and her and 450 square feet and rats and cockroaches and again, lots of Ramen soup that’s that was it.
And Patrick says, come on down. So I start going down and I start volunteering in the transition, and that leads to me getting to know other people, and then I get called in on the very first day, 12:01 after the inauguration, and I go to political affairs, and political affairs was run by a guy who on the very first day was sitting in his office with his feet up on the desk and he was reading the clips, and the clips were basically photocopied front pages and interesting stories from all the newspapers around the world. People would come into the White House at three in the morning and photocopy and then like distribute hundreds of these to all the directors of the offices.
Again, this is pre-internet, and I’m in the office for like five minutes and the phone rings. So I pick up the phone, answer it and I was like “Mr. Emanuel’s office, may I help you?” It was like, “Is he in, this is his mother.” I was like, oh, no. So imagine me. I’m like 21 years old, I was changing bed pans right before this. I went to college. I had never been in an office with like a phone system and it’s the White House. So it’s one of those phone systems the size of a briefcase and there’s like a billion numbers and buttons and red lights and green lights and things are flashing at everywhere. And I’m like, I don’t know what to do. So I take the phone and I gingerly put the handle down next to the cradle because I’m so afraid that if I try to put her on hold, I will disconnect my boss’s mother. Like, what am I going to do?
I’m volunteering. I’m not getting paid. I just packed all my belongings, I’m living in this basement apartment. I cannot disconnect the man’s mother. So I kind of tiptoe into his office in my shoes that don’t really fit me because they’re my mom’s shoes and she is taller than me. I’m also wearing her suits from the 1980s. And again, she’s taller than me. So I don’t just look like Alexis Carrington with the giant shoulder pads, I look like somebody dressing up as a Alexis Carrington for Halloween, like a kid was like wearing this thing that is way too big for her. So I tiptoe in, and I’m like sir, your mother’s on line two, with this smile on my face, like, please don’t yell at me.
And he was like, “Tell her I’m really busy.” And I was like, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, okay. So I tiptoe back over and I pick up the phone from the side of the like giant console and I’m like, “Hello, ma’am I’m sorry. He’s going to have to call you back. Goodbye.” And I hang up the phone, and meanwhile I’m thinking to myself, [inaudible 00:35:50], she’s your mom. I would’ve been like “Mom, I’m in the White House, can you believe it?” I’d be stealing stationary, all the MnMs or the White House boxes on them. I’d be like stashing them with my briefcase.
So I got home that day and I called Patrick and I was like, listen, I don’t want to work for him. I don’t know anything about leadership, I don’t know anything about people, I don’t know anything about anything, but the dude didn’t take a call from his mom. That’s got to say something about just who he is as a human. I said, if anything happens to open up a national service, which is the idea that I’d heard about that I was so interested, if anything opens up a national service, call me. I want to work there. I’m like, otherwise I think I might have to pack up and go home. The next morning he calls me up and he is like, “Laura, you’re in luck, national service needs something to do data entry.”
So I go down to national service, I wear the same suit, because it’s the only suit I have. I walk in and I start doing data entry in some outbuilding somewhere like in the Navy yard, like way far away from the White House. And I’m doing data entry for like a month, data entry, data entry, and I’m getting paid like minimum wage, maybe. I think it was paid minimum wage, but I think we were working so many hours I think I was making like 30 cents an hour, might have been what it came down to. And then we had a meeting in the office where we had to do some presentation that the data was involved in and the boss was like, who put all this data in? And I kind of gingerly raised my hand, and he was like, huh, interesting. Do you want another project? I have a project for you. And I was like, oh, okay, sir. Okay. And he says, first of all, he comes over, he introduces himself to me. Hi, my name is Eli Siegel. I’m like, you run the office, I know who you are. But the difference between I won’t take a call from my mom to I’m going to introduce myself to this peon nobody person, because the that’s just good character. It’s who you are.
And he says, “Listen. So the Peace Corps was an immediate success from the moment John Kennedy even put up an idea balloon, whereas the war on poverty was a failure from before Johnson could even sign it into legislation. I want to know why, because I want to make sure national service is a success. Go find out.” It’s like, oh, okay. That’s not a small assignment. So I pack up my stuff in my mom’s old briefcase and I start leaving to go to the Library of Congress, because again, that’s how you did research back then. I was in the card catalog figuring it out. I’m on the way out the door and the deputy director of the office comes up to me and he’s like, “Laura, listen, Eli’s a very busy man. He is not going to have time to read your whole report. So why don’t you do the report and give it to me. I’ll put a summary page on it and then I will give it to Eli.”
And I was like, oh, okay. That seems strange, but sure. So I walk out of the office and as I walk out of the office, a woman by the name of Janet V. Green comes up to me and she’s like, you know what just happened, right? And I was like, yes, no, tell me what just happened? And she’s like, he’s going to screw you. He’s going to totally take your work. And I was like, yeah, but what can I do? I’m an intern. I’m a volunteer. He has me dead to rites. I have to do what he says. And she’s like, “Well, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go do the report that Eli said you can give him in a week. You’re going to give it tomorrow. And you’re going to say your deputy is going to read this and summarize it for you. But I thought you might just like the raw data since you seem like you like that from the other report.”
And I was like, “I can do that?” And she’s like, not only can you, you will. So I stay up all night, I do the report, I do all the research, I call everybody I can possibly who was involved in the war on poverty and involved in the Peace Corps, all that, and the next day, as Eli’s walking out of the office, I give him my dot matrix printed, here’s the reports, sir. Your deputy’s going to summarize it for you, but I thought you might like the raw data. And he was like, oh thanks. And he takes, he shoves in his briefcase, and then I go home and I cry into my Ramen soup about losing the job that I didn’t even have yet. And literally the next morning I walk in and Eli says, “That report was great. I told my deputy to put you on payroll.”
15 minutes later, I get called into the deputy’s office and the deputy’s like “Eli told me to put you on payroll, he told me what you did. I researched what the lowest possible salary I could get away with giving you was. So here it is, sign here. Welcome to the White House.”
Bryan Wish: Wow.
Laura Gassner Otting: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got my first paid job in the White House. Yeah. For $22,717 a year, thank you very much.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. I don’t think that was too terrible back then.
Laura Gassner Otting: Oh no. That is the equivalent of like something like $30,000 now. I mean, it was, it was shabby enough that I still would buy that Ramen soup when it was on sale for like a 12 pack for 39 cents a pack instead of 49 cents a pack. But you know, you talk about pivotal moments, right? Like I could pick several pivotal moments in my career, but having someone like Janet, stop me and say, do you know what’s happening here?
Bryan Wish: Yeah.
Laura Gassner Otting: And then providing that solution and taking that risk, it was probably one of the least certain things I ever did in my life, and I never would’ve known to do it, I never would’ve known how to handle it, I never even would’ve seen what was going on because again, I was always like the smart one who looked for the accolade. So I was like, I’m just going to like be the good doobie, and it turns out that people don’t give you what you deserve, they give you what you demand, and there are moments where you have to stand up and say, this is my work and I need to be involved in this.
Bryan Wish: That’s special. I also think that Eli, giving you the project, it’s a lot of, I mean, for reasons that he could take the work and blah, blah, blah, the fact that he would send someone who just came in as an intern to just say, go do this, to solve a very complex question, it sounds more like a 12 hour span, maybe an 18 hour span and turn it around. I mean, I think it shows a lot of autonomy or maybe trust. He said, go do this a little bit early. I mean, [crosstalk 00:42:22]-
Laura Gassner Otting: I think he looked around, the truth is that I think he looked around at all of the kids, we all called ourselves kids. There was one office in the old executive office building, which is the big, beautiful, great building right next to the White House where there were like 14 desks. We were like packed in there like sardines. It was a big office, but there were a lot of us, and we called it the romper room because we were all so young, but everybody in that room went to an Ivy league school. Everybody in that room had some parent who was a giant donor. Everyone in that room at some connections, they interned in the Mayor of New York City’s office. They were legit real, like they’d interned in the Senate. They were Senate pages. They were like real. And I was scraggly at best.
I mean, they were wearing their own clothes, for starters, right? Their shoes fit them. I was definitely, I had gotten there through just sheer, just moxie, audacity, gumption. And I think he just assumed that I was one of them. I remember years later him asking me if I had gone to college with his daughter and I realized it because my husband went to college with his daughter, and I think he just over the span of history, I obviously didn’t know my husband at the time when I first started working for Eli, but I think he just conflated it. He just assumed everybody in that office was an Ivy leaguer, he just assumed I was one of the bright, shiny young people in the office and I wasn’t. And so I got really the lucky that he didn’t actually know who I was, or I don’t think he ever would’ve asked me to do that project.
I, since, after that time, ended up, the official job that I got was Confidential Assistant to the Director of National Service, which meant that I was the person who just did his advance, I would vet the events that he would go to, I would vet the invitations, I’d make sure he had his speeches, his airline tickets, like all of that stuff. I was just like his logistics queen and eventually was promoted and did jobs that were sort of heftier for him. But I don’t think anybody was more surprised than the rest of the bright, young, shiny kids that I got that project and they didn’t frankly.
But it’s an interesting thing to talk about because I could spend so long talking about the imposter syndrome that I felt when I was sitting in that office and they were all there, they were so smart and they all had all these big ideas and I had no ideas. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so worried, and it turns out that nobody was actually thinking about, because they were all worried about themselves. Like even though they all had these beautiful college diplomas and some of them law diplomas, and I was a law school dropout, they all felt like, well, I only went to Harvard, that person has a Rhode scholar. There’s a woman that I know in the speaking industry, named Allison Levine, who has summited the tallest peak on every continent, she skied to the north pole and the south pole, she led the first all women’s American expedition up Everest. She’s climbed Everest twice. And I was talking to her one day and she’s like, you should be represented by Speakers Bureau, and I’m like, yeah, I don’t know. You climbed Everest. I didn’t. And she’s like, “Laura, the first time I walked into a Speakers Bureau, they were like, yes, so you climbed Everest, but did just saw off an arm, because we’ve already got that guy.”
There’s always going to be somebody. So at the end of the day, I think you have to stop looking around at everybody else and just think about what it is that you can offer, right? What does the problem need? And then in terms of what the problem needs, what solutions do you have to bring to it?
Bryan Wish: Totally. I think that’s the irony about imposter syndrome is no one around us is really always thinking about us, and I think I had that experience firsthand, I think you described it really eloquently. I think this is a great transition too, into maybe the body of work that maybe you’ve started to put out today and Laura, you’ve authored a few books now, I thought I saw three, two. And it seems like it’s centered around meaning, purpose, helping people reach full potential, aligning what you do with who you are, things that it seems like you have been actively working towards your whole life without realizing it until you maybe did. So would love to know, just for you to share, how did you realize this is the line of work that I really want to pursue, I really want to go make an impact in because it’s impressive, and the credibility to your story behind maybe what led you here is also really fascinating, but just curious, what made you say I want to write the books, I want to talk, I want to make an impact in this way?
Laura Gassner Otting: So I wrote the book, well, the first book I wrote was called Mission Driven. It was about going from corporate to nonprofit work. And I wrote that book because I got a phone call one day from Kaplan Publishing, who was like, “Hi, want to write a book for us?” I was like, I’m sorry, who are you? What is this? And that was really part of the executive search work that I did. The book Limitless that we’ve been talking about loosely, and the next book that I’m working on, which is why you’re thinking three, because there’s a third one that’s in the works that’s going to be called Wonder Hell.
Bryan Wish: Yes.
Laura Gassner Otting: Honestly, I wrote those books cause I needed them. I wrote them because I was thinking about these things. So I left the White House and I joined an executive search room, one of the biggest in the country that specifically nonprofit work and I loved the work, but I did not love the business model. And I was there five years into the work, really learning from the best and the brightest about how to do this work so well. And I had this moment of rage, really, where I was like, we can do this work differently. We can do it better.
So very quickly, the way that executive search firms work as they charge one third of the first year’s cash compensation in order to do a search. So if you are doing a search for the chief strategy officer of the Ford Foundation, that position pays $300,000 a year, say, you will get $100,000 fee for finding that person. But if you’re looking or a Director of Development for a local charter school or domestic violence shelter, and that position maybe pays $60,000 a year, that’s a $20,000 fee.
So if you’re sitting there in your office, who are you more incentivized to serve? The $100,000 fee or the $20,000 fee? Now, it seemed to me that the gigantic foundations had a lot more money and it was a lot easier to do those searches because every wanted those jobs than these local domestic violence shelters. And I always felt like I was being incentivized to give the people, the organizations, the causes that I thought needed the most help, the last 5% of my time. And that just didn’t sit right for me. And I realized that there was a better way to do the work. So I marched into my boss’ office and I was like, here’s the better way. And he was like, there is the door. And he said, basically, look, we love you, you do great work, you’re welcome to stay here, but if you’re staying here, you’re doing it our way. And if you want to do it your way, then you have to leave.
Once you realize that you’re not part of the solution, it only leaves you in one place, which is that you’re part of the problem, and I couldn’t be part of the problem. And so I left, and I started my own firm, and I ran that for 15 years. We grew a hundred percent every year for the first 10 years, and then I got to the 10 year mark and I realized I hadn’t really learned anything new in a while. And I felt stagnant because of that, and what I realized at that moment was there are people who I have spent the last, at that point, 15 years, and over the course of the executive search, 20 years, calling, the bold face names, the most successful people, the ones who are like, God, if we could only have someone like that, we would be doing great work here.
My job was to be hired by clients to go find that person and to call them up and to recruit them away, and it sounds like a really hard job, except what I realized that despite all that success, all of those people, they all returned my calls because we all believe that happiness is on the other side of the next new job, the next promotion, the next salary change the next organization, the next leader, the next whatever. We have been trained for years in this world, and specifically, I think as Americans, that bigger, better, faster, more. There’s always something. There’s always going to be, the grass is always greener, the road is paved with gold over there, just keep going. And I started thinking about my own career. I thought about the people, the handful of people that I could not recruit away and also my own career. And what I realized is that at every turn I didn’t necessarily, I wasn’t happy when I was pursuing the checklist.
Go to law school, become the lawyer, go to the big firm. I wasn’t happy there. I was happiest when I was pursuing the thing that mattered to me, right? And at every agent, at every life stage, what is meaningful to you is different, and what I realized was when I was in the flow, when I was in alignment, when I was like kicking ass and taking names, jumping over buildings, walking through fire, it was because I was confident. I was in line. It was as if there was harmony. You know, Bryan, when the very best of what you do is being called upon to solve a problem at hand, a problem you actually care about.
Bryan Wish: Yeah.
Laura Gassner Otting: And you’re being rewarded for solving that problem in some way that’s meaningful to you, whether it’s financial, emotional, karmic, whatever? You feel so good. You are like a superhero. Those are the moments when you’re in consonants. And so I started thinking about those moments for me and those moments for other people. And what I’ve realized is that there are four things that make up consonants and they’re calling, connection, contribution, and control.
So calling is the gravitational force that gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s a leader you want to serve, a business you want to build, a bottom line you want to grow, a cause that you want to fix. Maybe it’s a family you want to nurture. It’s the thing that matters most to you. Then there’s connection, and connection really tells you does your work actually matter? Like, do you understand why all the things on your calendar are on your calendar? What’s on your to-do list, what’s in your email box? Does your work, if you do the work that’s on your plate today, does it get you closer to that calling or further from that calling? Is it connected?
Then there’s contribution, and if connection is about the work, contribution’s really about you. So how does the work you’re doing contribute to the life that you want to lead? The lifestyle you’d like to maintain, the career trajectory that you want, the values you want to manifest in a daily basis. Does your work contribute to who you want to be? How you want to show up in the world? And then there’s control, and control is all about personal agency. So how much control do you have about the teams to which you’re assigned, the client prospects that you get, the amount of hustle and how much money that hustle puts in your pocket? Are you going to be in line for the promotion, or are you able to say I just want to be a back bencher for now and raise a family and I’m going to go further later, do you have control over that, and really how much control do you have about how much your work connects to the calling and how much it contributes to your life?
And what I learned is that you don’t have to have a hundred percent of all four of these things, but at every age and at every life stage, you have to have the right percentage of each of them for you. So when I was 20 years old and dropping out of law school, I had all the calling in the world. I mean, I was so inspired by this idea, which eventually became AmeriCorps and a million young people have served in this program, right? Like that was amazing. Did I have connection? No. I got the coffee for the guy who got the coffee for the guy who got the coffee. I was setting up flags behind a podium. Anybody could do it. My work didn’t matter.
In terms of contribution, was I getting paid? Not really, but was I manifesting my values on a daily basis? Hell yeah, and if this guy won, it was possible I could have had a pretty interesting career trajectory out of it, right? So that’s that. And then control, not even an ounce of control, like are they going to send me to Des Moines or DePaul? [crosstalk 00:54:59] photos? I don’t know. I get to find out that morning right before I got on a plane. So that doesn’t matter. Now I’m 50. I’ve got a kid in college, I’ve got a kid who’s a junior. I need control.
I need to make sure, I’m not getting on a plane to go give a speech, unless I can understand exactly how it is contributing to the business that I’m trying to build. I need to be aligned with that client. I’m not going to go inspire a whole bunch of people who are doing work that I think is bad for the world, right? I don’t have to do that. I don’t want to do it. So who I am now, oh and by the way, happy to live on high school gymnasium floors and eat cold pizza when I was 20. Now I’m kind of a princess and I’m 50 and I’ve reached the age where if I sleep wrong, if I sleep on a bad pillow, my neck hurts for three days. So I need to make sure the contribution is there.
So at every age and at every life stage, we want and need different amounts of it. And what I realized is that it’s probably every seven to 10 years that we change, and what happens, Bryan, is that when we’re 15, 16, 17 years old, somebody says, hey, pick a major, pick a path, pick a trade, pick a career. And we go, okay. And we do it. And then we look back at 25, at 35, at 45, and we’re like, why did I decide to become an accountant? Why did I decide to become a mechanic? Why did I decide I didn’t want to start my own business. And we don’t understand why we did these things, and it’s because we made these decisions literally before we had a frontal lobe, the part of your brain that actually dictates good, sound, logical decision making, the frontal lobe doesn’t form in females until the early twenties and males until the mid twenties. So we’ve made these decisions about what our lives are going to look like before we even know how to make good decisions. And then we’re like, why doesn’t that work? And it’s because nobody says us, you need to pursue consonants.
I pursued at every point in my life where I changed my career, I followed my curiosity rather than following this checklist. But you get this checklist of like, here’s what makes a good job, good, a good leader, a good mission, new skills development, it looks prestigious on your resume, you’re going to make a lot of money, whatever the things are, but nobody ever says prioritize that list for what matters to you. Here’s what makes a good job good, but what makes a good job good for you is the piece that nobody ever actually asks us to talk about.
Bryan Wish: You know, just the way you’re talking I think for people so young, early career professionals who desire meaning, they don’t know where to start, and I think there is so much talk over the checklist and so much talk over just doing what their parents want, and I think it’s really hard, even if they do think about meaning at a young age, and I think this would be a great kind of final question to wrap on, but if you were to, and thank you for the context, it’s very admirable work, and if you were talking to, let’s just say the 21 year old Laura in college, knowing what you know now, what would you say to them about finding meaning and doing it in a way that allows them to kind of align on the four Cs that you mentioned?
Laura Gassner Otting: Well, I think that if I were to give advice to my 21 year old self, I would tell her to wear more sunscreen. I would tell her to floss her teeth more. But let me put it this way. I think that we spend so much time trying to fit into everybody else’s definition of who we should be, that we don’t actually spend any time figuring out who we want to be, and there’s a great Eleanor Roosevelt quote, which I love, which is you would worry much less about what other people thought about you if you’ve realized how seldomly they did. Nobody’s paying attention. Nobody cares. So it’s not like the advice of like fuck them, right? Like do what you want to do, go do you. It’s more just like you can make mistakes, you can explore, you can follow your curiosity. If this doesn’t work, you can do something else. There are so many do-overs in life.
And so what I would say is there are two numbers you need to think about, right? We were told, go get the best job you can get to make the most amount of money you can make. I would say, no. There are two numbers. There is the need to make number and the want to make number. Figure out what you need to make, maybe you’re paying off loans, maybe you’ve got a small child, maybe you’ve got sick parents, maybe you’ve got something. Figure out what you need to make. And then think about the kind of life you want to have and what that life might cost. That’s your want to make number. And in between your need to make number and your want to make number is your quality of life, right?
So maybe you make less than the want to make number, but you are not working 80 hours a week and on an airplane every week, and that’s okay. You are not going to be put in the ground with a gravestone above your head that has your salary on it. You’re just not. That is not your value. And your value is what you bring to the world and the people around you. So I guess I would say, well, can I have a bonus? I know we’re going long, but can I give-
Bryan Wish: You got all the bonus time you want. That sounds great.
Laura Gassner Otting: So the other thing I would say, and I would say this specifically for women is that we are told so often. Oh, don’t be greedy. Don’t take up too much space. Don’t be too loud. Don’t be too bossy. Oh, she’s so ambitious. Right? Nobody ever says that about men like, oh, Bryan, he’s so ambitious. Nobody ever says that, but they’re like, oh, she’s so, as if ambitious is a dirty word, right? It’s ambitious as the polite synonym for bitch, right? She’s so ambitious. Here’s what I would say, I would ask yourself this question, would having more money, more time, more leverage, more power, more connections, more network, more resources, more whatever, knowledge, network, whatever, would having more of those things allow you to show up more, show up better for the people that you love and the causes that you hold dear? And the answer to that question is of course it would, right? So frankly, it’s not your ambition, it’s your responsibility. So I would encourage everyone one to go be responsible, curious, failures, because you got all the time in the world to keep getting better and get better and get better. And the only way to do that is by screwing up, figuring it out.
Bryan Wish: Love it, truly. From both of those answers, the common theme or the way I’m hearing it is regardless, you need to take the time for yourself to step into who you are and own who you are, which is I think hard, painful work to do, but like you said, it’s necessary work.
Laura Gassner Otting: It’s so hard. Before we started recording, I was telling you about the eight mile hike my 17 year old and I did yesterday, and so it’s a three hour drive there, three hour drive back, and windshield time is very good with kids. And we’re driving home and we’re talking about college applications and what he’s going to apply for and he doesn’t know, and he’s worried and you know, how do I pick the exact perfect major? And he’s like, “You’ve had a really interesting life, mom.” And I’m like, “Yeah. And I’m not doing the thing I majored in.” I’ve had an interesting life because I messed up and I started again and I reinvented and I figured out what mattered to me. The most interesting people that I interviewed in 20 years of executive search, in fact, let me rephrase that. The only interesting people that I interviewed are the ones that made left turns and right turns and U-turns. So I would encourage people to not seek out perfection, but to seek out curiosity.
Bryan Wish: Beautiful. Yeah. I bet your son loves your perspective as a mom.
Laura Gassner Otting: I don’t know. I think my son needs a me who’s not his mom, because you can’t hear these things from your own mom.
Bryan Wish: I feel like there’s always one parent that you always need a semi replacement for, for a bit.
Laura Gassner Otting: Exactly. He was like, how can you help me figure out what to major in and what I want to do for a living? How can you figure, you’re not going to be able to help me. I’m like, do you know what I spent the last 30 years doing in my career? But I’m still his mom, but that’s okay. He’s awesome.
Bryan Wish: So Laura, where can people find you? Where can people find your work, hire you to speak, consult, do all the things?
Laura Gassner Otting: Yeah. So I’ll hold up my book. Well actually it is my book, but it’s the Korean copy because it’s the one that I happen to have right in front of me. So this is my book, Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path and Live Your Best Life is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, bookshop.org if you want to support your local bookstore, and everywhere fine books are sold. There is the Kindle version audio for all of it. My name is Laura Gassner Otting, all my good friends call me LGO, so you can find me all over the web at heyLGO, and I’m at heyLGO on all of the socials. And if you listened to me talk about calling, connection, contribution, and control, and you’re like I don’t know how much of each of those I have or I want or what, you only have to ask yourself four very simple questions and you can find those questions at myfourquestions.com.
Bryan Wish: Amazing. Well, it has been a true treat to have you, really fluid conversation. Thanks for coming, showing up, Monday morning and we did it well. So can’t wait to share this with the audience.
Laura Gassner Otting: Well, thank you. You asked great questions.