Born: St. Louis
Education: Bachelor of arts, history, Princeton University; Juris doctorate degree, Washington University in St. Louis
What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
How important the combination of critical listening and understanding the point of view of the other person involved is. There is a book I particularly like, ‘Difficult Conversations,’ by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen and Bruce Patton.
When you go into a difficult conversation, there is a point of view or a perspective from the other person that you need to try to understand. It’s not all about going into that and being there with your perspective and knowing what the right answer is at the end and arriving there.
It’s much more about trying to communicate your perspective effectively and listen to them and realize the real truth about why you’re having that difficult conversation. It’s not about placing blame. There’s blame on both sides.
It really changes your perspective on difficult people and difficult situations.
When I’m listening to somebody talk about an issue, one of the things I have to decide is, ‘Is this something that needs to be fixed or is this something that just by listening and being empathetic, that’s what the resolution is?’
My analogy is to my marriage. I have learned that more than half of the time, if not 80 to 90 percent of the time, it’s not about fixing the problem. Guys want to listen and their first inclination is, ‘Let’s fix that.’
Their spouse is not looking for a fix. It’s very much the same in business. Is this something that I should be fixing? Or by listening and understanding where they are coming from, is that what the real need is?