by Lori Milner: author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
Cal Fussman is a New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned interviewer, podcast host, keynote speaker and corporate consultant on interviewing and storytelling. I first came across Cal on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast and recently discovered one of the most thought-provoking articles in a while and wanted to share it you.
“After I brought up the subject of breaking the ice with a question, I got an e-mail from Andrew Pyle in the UK that lifted my eyelids. Back in 2011, Andrew had to undergo surgery on a tumour that was growing behind his right ear. If it had been left unattended, the tumour would have pushed through major blood vessels in his head and Andrew would’ve died. There was a risk that the surgery would cause Andrew to go deaf in one ear. So, on the morning of the surgery, he decided to put what he believed to be the greatest song in his head as if he could keep it there for the rest of his life. That song, in his mind, was Whatever by Oasis.
I went directly to it on YouTube and found that more than 28 million people had watched and listened to it performed on one particular video. I hit play and could see why — for all the glorious positivity in it. The surgery was successful, and not only did Andrew come out of it able to hear Whatever, but he had a question to break the ice in future conversations.
Here it is:
“You’re about to have life-saving surgery, but there’s one side effect — you’ll go deaf. What’s the very last song you’ll listen to before going under?” Andrew pointed out that this is a very different question from: “What’s your favourite song?” Or: “What would you want played at your funeral.” He said his question forces people to really think about their answer, and sets up follow ups like:
“Why did you choose that song?”
“What does it mean to you?”
“Do you remember when you first heard it?”
The conversations that have started over this question have led Andrew into some amazing relationships. This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve done workshops for companies where I’ve asked everyone in the room to come up with the song that most accurately describes who they are. It always brings forth great responses and usually has people getting up to sing. The group is always closer after the experience.
I’m still thinking about the last song I’d put in my ears if I knew I was going to be deaf. I’m not sure what it would be. There are so many options. But I can tell you one thing. Whatever, by Oasis, will always stand out to me in a special way after getting Andrew’s note.
Everybody, please keep the conversation going. I’m loving it.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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