A conversation with Alexandra Jamieson of Super Size Me

“We are both in this radical honesty together where…we have a structure that’s going to hold us as we evolve and change together and as individuals…I witnessed that many people don’t feel safe to evolve and change and be themselves. So if you can’t change with the people around you, I don’t know that you are allowing yourself to change.” -Alexandra Jamieson

Today, I’m excited to speak with Alexandra Jamieson of Super Size Me fame. For two decades, Alexandra has worked professionally as a coach, driving creative women to build their visions for success. She is also an award-winning author, a podcast host, and an artist. She says she is on this earth to help others be rid of imposter syndrome and claim their worth (and wealth!).

In today’s episode, we speak about effective communication, couples’ coaching, and meeting snacks. Listen in to find out how to hone your communication skills like a professional musician mastering their instrument and why a movement break is like MiracleGro for your brain.

Show Highlights

[0:55]  Supersize Me & going viral for quitting veganism.
[5:05] The tiny thing that makes couples communicate effectively.
[14:51] Why effective communication is like playing an instrument.
[18:10] How going to bed angry can actually benefit your relationship.
[29:35] No more conference cookies.
[34:52] The All-In Method.
[37:56] Alexandra’s challenge for the listener.

Alexandra on LinkedIn
Radical Alignment: A book about difficult conversations
Alexandra’s podcast, Her Rules Radio, on Stitcher

About the Guest

For 20 years, Alexandra has coached creators, founders, and leaders on the rise to use their strengths, values, intuition, and creative thinking to achieve success on their own terms. She loves championing women and their creative visions by helping them feel worthy of their desires, allowing them to begin bringing their visions to reality and transforming the world. Outside of her coaching work, Alexandra has hosted her #1 podcast Her Rules Radio for 6 years and written 5 best-selling books. You also may know her as co-producer and co-star of the Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a facilitation agency that helps teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Intro: Welcome to the Control the Room Podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures for the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control, and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

Douglas: Today I’m with Alexandra Jamieson, coproducer and costar of Super Size Me. Today we’re here to talk about her fifth book that’s upcoming, will be released in August, called Radical Alignment. Welcome to the show, Alexandra.

Alexandra: Thank you so much for having me.

Douglas: So, for starters, I’d love to hear about how you got started in the work you do.

Alexandra: It’s been a long and tangled road to be an author and coach. I’ve been an author and a coach for over a decade—as you said, this is my fifth book—and I really started in the health-and-wellness world. And we were about the same age when you and I both discovered we had these massive health issues in our mid-20s and that food was the answer. So I dove deep. I’m a two-feet-in kind of person. I discovered food is healing, food is medicine. Went to culinary school, became a vegan chef, did catering, etc.. And right around that time, I met my now ex. But we made the movie Super Size Me together. He ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month, for anybody who remembers that. He got really sick, and I put him on my vegan detox plan afterwards to, like, clean up his liver, his high cholesterol, all the stuff that happened to him so quickly from eating terrible fast food all the time.

And I was also a budding health coach. I was working with people one on one to help them figure out their nutritional needs but also their emotional eating life. So it was a very interesting mix of coaching techniques that I was bringing to people.

But after being vegan for a decade, I started to get really sick again. I was chronically anemic. I had all these health concerns, and I really tried everything in the vegan framework to fix it. But it turns out I am one of those people that has to eat things like chicken liver and organ meat. That’s the only way my body can absorb iron.

So I had this kind of infamous coming out as no longer vegan that went viral. You know, we all want our stuff to go viral, Doug, but this I really didn’t want anybody to see it. I was like, I just have to be honest. I had written three vegan cookbooks at this point, so it was a bit of a shift, you could say. And it really blew up in, first, a very kind of over-the-top, extreme way, like people wishing me death, losing friends because I wasn’t vegan anymore.

And that also led to my fourth book called Women, Food, and Desire, which is this real examination of women’s cravings and our relationship with our bodies. And around that time, I was now getting divorced from Super Size Me husband, and I met Bob, my new husband. I stepped it up, upgraded a little bit. And Bob came from this design and agile consulting, facilitation world, and I have been in the coaching world for just over 10 years at that point, and we began to realize as our relationship grew that we were talking about a lot of the same things. Even though I was doing kind of life coaching, health coaching, he was doing real, like, solid business design kind of consulting, it was like, we’re using a lot of the same tools to help people figure out what they want, what they need, what the challenges are, and move forward. So that’s kind of the seed that led to this book that has some really powerful tools at the heart of it.

Douglas: That’s amazing. I echo that similar sentiment in my journey at Voltage Control, just as a facilitator, not wanting to just be too dogmatic or aligned with one specific discipline. And the more I sought out and the more I learned in all these different silos that there is quite a bit that’s common, but there are some stuff that people were doing a little differently. And when you combine those things together, you can get these real awesome, emergent qualities that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

So, I’m curious. Can you tell a story or is there a tool in particular that when you think about the fact that you came together, that the sum’s greater than the combining of the parts, per se.

Alexandra: By the request of some of our friends, we actually led a couple of couples workshops. And I’ll be honest. It was usually the women, like, dragging their boyfriends or husbands to come to these workshops. And we realized they were there for very different reasons. One person wanted one experience, and one person was there for a completely different reason.

And so Bob had this kind of tool from his past life. I think he was also a newspaper design director. Anyway, he said, “You know what, we don’t need to get on the same page. We need to get into alignment.” And we started teaching this very simple conversation tool to put all the information out on the table. Why are you here? What do you want? What are you worried about? etc..

And after a couple of workshops, we realized, like nothing else from those workshops really took off, but this one simple conversation structure that we taught, people kept texting us and emailing us and saying, “What was that four-step thing that you took us through, again? because I have this other conversation that I need to have.”

So over the course of the next two years, people kept bugging us for this thing. We’re a little slow on the uptake. I’m like, “All right. Let’s just put this in a Google Doc because then we can stop explaining it to everybody. We can just say ‘Here it is; here it is; here it is.’”

But we kept getting these incredible stories from our friends who were using it, that it was helping them in their marriage, that it was helping them with negotiations at work, that they were using it like Bob was using it, teaching it in these high-level, CEO boardroom kind of situations. And then the CEO would say, “That was amazing. I’m taking that home to my husband, and we’re going to use that conversation at home.”

So I  was like, “Oh, my goodness, this one little thing,” sometimes it’s just this tiny thing that people keep asking for. We didn’t even see how valuable it was. And that’s the genesis of this whole project, this book.

Douglas: So what are these four steps? You’ve got me very curious.

Alexandra: So it’s a really simple, guided conversation that helps two or more people get really clear and develop just a deeper understanding of or appreciation for each other. It really creates team psychological safety. And there’s some very specific things about that in terms of how you run it, right? You’re the facilitator guy, so you totally get it. There’s some ground rules that you got to set up. You got to set the stage.

And, you know, one thing is, I always tell people, first, never say to someone, “We need to talk.” That’s the wrong way to introduce any kind of conversation.

Douglas: That’ll ruin the rest of my day. All I can think about is, “What are we talking about? What things?”

Alexandra: So, think about how you want to invite someone to a conversation or a meeting. Have a comfortable, distraction-free place. And believe me, we use this in business and in our personal lives, so we’re very clear to make sure everybody is well rested. We do not do meetings at the end of the day. We just don’t. Make sure you’re fed. Make sure no one has had even one glass of alcohol.

Those are three very basic things. Because we are human animals, our bodies are very much aligned with our brains. And if we’re not fed, if we’ve had even a little booze, and if we’re exhausted, we’re not going to be present or clear. So think about those things before you get to an important conversation.

And then, get clear about what the point is. “What are we talking about and why?” And just, we’re very specific. “Okay, we’re going to talk about project x so we can become a great team, or we’re discussing our summer vacation so that we can both have a wonderful time.” That level of clarity.

And then, you go into the conversation. A minute ago I said team psychological safety, and one of the things that we’ve learned in all of our practice and all of our research is that there is a real inequality of power in most rooms. There’s somebody who’s got the power, and there’s somebody—and there’s extroverts and introverts. So we actually request that you time everyone, that everybody gets two or four minutes per share so that it is very equal.

And some people have—it’s funny. In Bob and my relationship, he’s an incredible verbal processor. He talks it out and gets clear. And I actually need to sit and be quiet for up to 15 seconds sometimes to know what I’m going to say. But when you have a timer and no one else is speaking, there’s no crosstalk. It’s like, “Okay, I’ve got this space where I can just relax and think about what it is that I need to say.” So give each person the same amount of time. That is true equality.

And then, you go into the four-part conversation. So that’s all the set up. And you each share your intentions, concerns, boundaries, and dreams. And you can think of intentions of, why do you want to be a part of this project? Why can this project support your personal values or your goals? What led you to get involved in this? So what are your intentions in being a part of this? And it can be super simple, like, “I want to have fun. I want to learn something, and I want to make money.” And again, you all go around; you all share the same amount of time.

And then you go into your concerns. And this is where we encourage you to start being very vulnerable in the spirit of, let’s really try to discover who we are. And luckily, the human brain is incredibly good at coming up with fears and worries and concerns. In fact, it’s probably the best thing that our brains are good at. And let’s tap into it. Let’s tap into that negativity bias that we have. Because actually, when you say your worries and concerns out loud in a safe space, and let’s really set up these conversations like, “I want to know what you really think. You’re not going to get penalized for this. Let’s not take anything personally in this room,” when you say it out loud, your brain hears it, and it actually has the effect of calming down your amygdala. Your nervous system can chill out a bit. And that way you can actually get clear and calm, which leads to better decision making by the end of it.

Douglas: Well, there’s a lot there to unpack. Not only the setting—the one big one is setting the initial conditions. You know, you talked a lot about being well fed, no alcohol, a comfortable space. The invitation, I think, is so critical. And I love that you use that word. Liberating Structures talks a lot about crafting a really good invitation. I think there’s some real beauty in that word because it’s not that we’re telling you what to do. We’re inviting you in. It’s very open. And also, I love this notion of starting with gratitude and appreciation. Kudos for that because there’s some really great design elements at play in that activity.

And when you think about the components that kind of came into this, how did you end up developing that? What did you draw inspiration from? Was it just like you just sat down and it just kind of came to you, or was there a process to kind of develop it and refine it?

Alexandra: So Bob and I have been through so many trainings and coaching programs over the years, before we even came together as a couple. When we started teaching these couples workshops, there was the seed of it. It was like, “Okay, why are we here, and what challenges could we have in getting to what you want?” Those kind of—I mean, those seem like pretty basic questions. But it took some time using it and then teaching it in other settings and boardrooms and with my clients, etc., that we’re like, “Oh, it needs to be this order: intentions, concerns, boundaries, and dreams.” It took a little time to figure out kind of the magical recipe. Like, you don’t want to add the salt at the end of a recipe. It’s got to go in at the beginning so that it can spread throughout. So it really became clear through doing it what the order needed to be.

Douglas: I love that you say that, because we’re big believers that facilitation requires practice and you have to develop those skills and you have to get comfortable, and a lot of it has to do with confidence. And, you know, it’s similar to a musician that’s improving, right? You had to get so comfortable with your instrument that you can perform in a very rigid style. Then you’re able to, then, let go and kind of flow with the moment and find what lands.

Can you tell any stories about some of the formulas that you tried that just didn’t work out and why, and what the lessons to learn from that would be?

Alexandra: Actually, I want to go back to what you just said about playing an instrument. We really describe this four-part structure, we’re like, this is playing scales. You know, every great musician still practices their scales. You go dah, dah, dah, dah, right? We do one, two, three, four. And then, eventually, you can improvise. We’re now so practiced with it, we’ll just—let’s say we had a conversation two weeks ago about visiting the in-laws, and now one of us comes up with, “Oh, you know what, I have a new boundary.” We can just, like, drop into that conversation at point C instead of point A again. So we have this shared vocabulary where we’re kind of always in the conversation about different topics. And that’s just—

What’s really, really helpful—I’ll tell you what my life was like before I learned how to have tough conversations using this structure was I just didn’t have tough conversations. I just avoided hard topics. This has given me a sense of—like you said, you have to become confident as a facilitator—I just become confident. Okay, I have four buckets to put all my thoughts and feelings in. And now I know that the science to a good conversation is coming back to the topic, not letting it get off and create—I think that’s one of the reasons why I avoided emotional or high-stakes conversations, because I thought I’m going to have to prove everything I believe is right and have logical arguments for everything, and somebody is going to win, and somebody’s going to lose. With this structure, it’s like, no, we’re just in information-gathering zone. And we develop empathy for each other through it, which is so important. That’s like the sweet spot of alignment.

Douglas: Yeah. That’s amazing.

I was thinking a bit about this notion of being afraid to have some of those conversations, and maybe it’s not like people might hear that and think, “Oh, I’m daunted by all this fear,” but sometimes it’s just subconscious, right? Sometimes we don’t even entertain the thought, because our brains are protecting us from that thing that we’re deeply fearful of or just avoiding.

And I recently saw some really awesome facilitation guides. It was a guide, but it contained some prompts. And it was written by DiAngelo, who is the author of White Fragility, and these prompts were for basically starting conversations that are hard to start. And she called them silence breakers. And as you talked about being more equipped to have these conversations now, it got me really excited. It reminded me of this notion of silence breakers. And I think it’s really important and it’s amazing to hear that your work is headed in that same direction.

So as folks start to think about being able to open up in this way or what that experience is like, what should they consider or how should they—what are some things that they need to keep in mind?

Alexandra: I’m so glad you asked that. So we covered intentions and concerns, the first two steps. The third one is boundaries. And that is a very challenging topic for people to come up with answers for. What are my boundaries? And it’s not like ordering off a menu, where I’m going to say something and it’s a demand of, this is what you’re going to do for me or this is what I must have. Think of it like, what are the things I need, the conditions that help me show up to be my best? What are the way—think of them as starter boundaries, right? Take the pressure off of things to be perfect. Think of it as, what do you need to be your personal best? What will help keep us from reaching burn out? What rules or standards help us work together best?

One of the things we discovered, and I cannot believe it took me until my 40s to realize this, but do not start an important conversation at bedtime. Don’t. Just don’t. It’s okay to go to bed angry or unclear, truly. That has been a game changer in my marriage. And I’ve seen it happen in the workplace, too. People are like, “We have to figure this out today. We’re staying until it’s done.” Actually, everybody’s exhausted, and nobody is going to show up and be their best right now, so it’s okay for us to take a break and for us to honor the exhaustion that’s present.

Douglas: Yeah, I love this notion of boundaries. I’m a big fan of compartmentalization, so what is the right way to—like, where do we put this thought, and what’s important right now in this moment? And if we can constrain things and really just kind of neatly package them up, then we can better be in service of the work that we’re doing. Maybe we need to put some things aside. Maybe some things are off limits. That’s really, really awesome.

The thing that I’m curious about is, just to get your reaction to this idea of honoring yourself, and authentic relating, they have this notion—well, this ground rule—of honoring yourself. So if someone asks something of you, because this is very deeply relating kind of work that they’re doing, and so someone could ask you a very personal question because we’re trying to build connection, and so there’s this notion of, if you don’t feel comfortable, then just pass. And so only contribute at the level that you feel comfortable contributing. I think there’s some beauty in that. And it’s similar to this being gracious with each other.

Alexandra: Well, there’s two things that you’re reminding me of that I think are so important. Generally, in the room, if there is a designated leader in a work situation, that might be more obvious, right? Like, the team leader or the C-suite-level person. But in our relationship, perhaps the leader could be considered the person who’s bringing this topic up. So they’re leading the initial situation. That person, we realized, they need to be the most brave. They need to be the most courageous and the most vulnerable. They need to set the tone for, like, “I am going to be super vulnerable here. I’m really going to share my heart and my truth here,” so that everybody else is like, “Oh, wow. Okay. This person has been really vulnerable. I’m going to maybe go an inch further in sharing my truth now.” So that’s one aspect.

But the other one is we really encourage—and this is something I do personally all the time—I go through these four steps by myself, and I write out my thoughts. And we will often—I’ve definitely coached my clients to do this. We’ve even done it as a couple, even though we’ve used this hundreds of times now. We will, like, “Okay, you know what, tomorrow we’re going to talk about this topic,” to give ourselves some time to think about our intentions, concerns, boundaries, and dreams, before we meet so that we just have some time to gather our thoughts and maybe be more coherent in how we express ourselves. And that is very compassionate and very thoughtful, because not everyone is a verbal processor. Some people need to write it out or take a walk and think about it first. Why not give people a little more time if you’re able to?

Douglas: Absolutely. And we often think about multisensory experiences because there’s kind of a myth that some people are visual learners and some people are auditory learners. The fact of the matter is we all learn through many different forms, and in any given moment, we may be more attuned to a different style, and we kind of need it all. And so if we as workshop facilitators and designers want the best out of our participants, we need to consider those things. So I think that’s really fantastic. And we’ve even been asking people to do that silent solo work as part of the workshop, because, frankly, people are jam-packed schedules and are super busy, so the pre-work rarely gets done. So to be in service of those people, like you say, that are slower or need more reflection time, just bake it in. And the people that don’t need it, well, they’ll be fine.

Alexandra: Yeah. You can doodle—

Douglas: Yes, exactly.

Alexandra: —while the rest of us write.

Douglas: That’s right.

So I wanted to come back to this comment you made about being authentic. And I think it might have been in the preshow chatter. But when you brought it up, it was around this notion of, you had this strong pull to be true to the brand you’ve built and true to this identity that was out in the world, and being authentic to your body, to your DNA, to your cellular—like, everything that was physical about your situation was screaming that you needed to behave in a certain way. If you were going to be authentic to that, you had to leave some other stuff behind. In fact, potentially friends and it could have had an impact on livelihood. And that must’ve been a really challenging moment. And if I really compare it to some of the challenges other people face, it trivializes some of these situations people find themselves in, yet they can’t be authentic. And I think it’s just may be a beacon to those that are in meetings and not being authentic, because the best way to get to where you want to go and to build strong teams is to be authentic. Sure, you can be a role model in the work that you’ve already done. But are there any tactics or things people can think about as to how they can really tap into what it means to be authentic for them?

Alexandra: And I can’t understress how—and this is true for me and my life. You know, I am myself, and you may have a very different, unique experience. But when I feel I am living inauthentically, I am just incapable of being happy. You know, there was a year and a half where I was hiding that I was eating meat. My business was suffering. My energy was suffering. Everything about my life felt frustrating. And I would rather blow up my life by being really honest, and not honest in a way like, I’m going to tell you what I really think about you. No. Me being honest to myself. I would rather have to deal with the repercussions of that. But I tell you how I’ve been able to—I mean, since I met Bob and since we’ve been using this format of communication, I feel so incredibly safe and held because we are both in this radical honesty together where it’s very clear, like, we’re allowed to evolve and change, and we have a structure that’s going to hold us as we evolve and change together and as individuals. I didn’t have that in my first marriage, and I witnessed that many people don’t feel safe to evolve and change and be themselves. So if you can’t change with the people around you, I don’t know that you are allowing yourself to change.

Douglas: Yeah. That’s interesting because I think that applies deeply inside teams, too, especially as we find ourselves in more and more complex situations. We’re not in the days of the factory, where things are repeatable and the same widgets coming down the assembly line every day, one day after the other, or we can just follow a recipe. And so the change itself is changing, and teams have to be able to adapt. And I think the willingness to reinvent the team and be different tomorrow than we were yesterday is really important.

Alexandra: And the last step of the four-part conversation is probably the most important, and it definitely needs to happen at the end, which is you share your dreams. And this is very specific. If this goes incredibly well, what will be true for you as an individual, for us as a team, for the people impacted around us? How will you feel? What will have shifted? You really get into best-case scenario, imagination land, and you start to feel the oxytocin flowing, the connection. And when I hear from you what your dreams are, and I really feel you connected to that, it’s almost impossible for me to not want that for you, too. And it really, even if there are concerns and boundaries which seem to be in conflict, and you know that you’ve got some figuring out to do after this conversation, the dreams brings you all back together. Okay, how can we work together to make this work? It’s a really foundational.

Douglas: I’m going to switch gears a little bit, though. Food’s been a pretty core part of your life, and it’s hard to do work and it’s hard to meet as a team without eating, without having food. And when we met in person, when we had workshops in real life, we had to think about, what’s for lunch, and what’s the catering, what are we going to order? And that’s not as much of a concern anymore.

In fact, I’ve seen some jokes around the Internet. I think it was a lady. Her husband was attending a virtual conference. And so she prepared a bunch of horrible food for his virtual-conference experience. So like, soggy wraps. Yeah, exactly. Dry chicken, soggy wraps.

Alexandra: Really bad chicken.

Douglas: Had some pudding in a little cocktail dish. But all joking aside, what is your recommendation, as a health coach, for teams that are wanting to think about, what is a great workshop diet? What should they be thinking about eating when they’re wanting to concentrate more, to work together, stay focused?

Alexandra: I’m so glad you brought this up. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. No conference cookies. Just keep the sugar out of it. Seriously. It does not help in the long run. Everybody crashes. Fruit, for sure. Have some of those natural sugars. Have some in-season, good-quality fruits. Variety of things. People do need a little bit sugar. But if you eat two cookies, half an hour, hour from now, you’re worthless.

Douglas: As a diabetic, I’ve had to dive into a lot of this stuff. And the thing that really clicked for me, it’s okay if you have a little sugar. It’s okay if you have some fat. But when you mix fat and sugar, that’s doing a major whammy on you. And I think that’s where desserts really kill us. And it’s like if you’re eating fruit, it’s literally no fat and it has fiber, which is good. It’s going to slow down absorption. But man, the fat actually hijacks your system, and you absorb the sugar slower, but it really hits you harder on the end because your body can’t pull it down as fast because it really stays with you a lot longer and just, I mean, it really does a number on you. And that’s where the cookies are different than the fruit.

Alexandra: Yeah. So I recommend, get the sodas out of the room. Have iced tea. Caffeine, I think, is the drug that we all got to keep in the room, in some form, but have it be unsweetened stuff if at all possible. And have high-protein stuff. Have good-quality meats and veggies. Keep the sugar as much out of the room as possible.

And the other side of it is it’s not just about the food that we eat. You’ve got to include movement breaks regularly. Do not make people sit for an hour, even. Do some kind of, “All right, everybody’s going to stand up, and we’re going to stretch at the 30-minute mark.” It releases BDNF in the brain, brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It’s like Miracle-Gro for your brain. It really gets you back up. Do a little bit of breathing exercises. That’s as important as what you eat.

Douglas: Yeah. I love that. We love the stretch-and-share fun activity, and especially in the virtual space, because cadence and turn taking can be strange and foreign, and you can’t just go around the circle. So, yeah. Getting out of the chair. And as a facilitator, I think it’s really important to really model that behavior and encourage it, and make sure that people know that, man, this is serious stuff, Zoom fatigue and other things. It’s not only the—you talked about the benefits of getting the movement so that it’s improving our thinking and that we’re coming with better ideas. But there’s actually a negative consequence of not doing some of this stuff, making sure people don’t just use the breaks as an opportunity to say, “I’ll tab over their email and just start doing more text stuff.” Excellent.

Alexandra: Yeah.

Douglas: I want to talk a little bit about differentiated learning and just to hear a little bit about the work that you’re doing around supporting folks that might have different needs. And so when you’re working through some of this alignment stuff, do you ever run into situations where maybe someone’s struggling with concerns or boundaries? And how do you help those individuals that just maybe need a little something different than the rest of the group?

Alexandra: That’s a really great question. And I can actually bring an example from my 13-year-old son. He has dyslexia and ADHD. So he thinks differently than I do. His brain just works differently. And I find that breaking it up into actually two or three versions of the same conversation over the space of a couple days. Like, I pre-set the scene, day one. “Hey, we need to talk about,” like we just did today, “We need to talk about going back to school in the fall because we don’t know what schools are going to look like here in New York City. There’s all kinds of ideas, and nobody knows what’s up. And we know there’s a couple of options on the table. So here’s what I know so far. Do you have any concerns or questions about that before we talk about it in a couple of days with your dad? Just to drop it in there and ask him the open-ended questions so that in the background it’s running. His brain can be prepared to think about it in a day or two.

Douglas: I love that. I always talk about the best workshop homework is where they don’t really have to do anything, but they’re doing it.

Alexandra: Yeah.

Douglas: Right? Because if it’s just enough to plant the seed in their subconscious, they’re going to be able to participate more deeply when the time comes, versus giving them a bunch of busy work or having them go do things that require present, hands-on stuff, which no one does.

Alexandra: Yeah, yeah. I’ve learned so much from being his mom and helping him learn to think and me understanding how he thinks. And I’ve been working with women as a success-in-life coach for over 10 years, and 10 years as a health coach before that. And I just realized that different people need different versions of the same question.

Actually, in the book Radical Alignment, we give dozens of options for different scenarios. We talk about how people have used the, we call it, the all-in method. Those four steps are the all-in method. People have used it to plan their weddings, like, huge multi-continent weddings, and they planned with this. But people also use it for their design teams, and they use it in H.R., and they use it at home. So through the book, there’s just dozens of ways to ask the same question, depending on your circumstances. So be willing to be flexible and curious. What’s another way I could ask this?

Douglas: Wow. I love this notion of, what is another way I could ask this? And I think the hallmark of a great listener, a great conversation, is fantastic questions. So what are some of your favorite questions?

Alexandra: I actually really love the dreams questions. What are you doing, and what would be the most amazing outcome for this? I don’t think we often get the opportunity to really dream big and share it out loud in a way where we’re not going to get shot down. So like, the “Oh, you, Pollyanna,” or “You’re crazy.”

I’m also an artist. I come from a family of artists. It’s kind of a miracle that any of us became artists, considering this culture we live in that is so down on artists. Like, “Oh, you better have a backup plan,” or “You’re going to be a starving artist.” You know, those ideas just get woven into the culture. So I love the invitation. Just say, like, “What would you like for Radical Alignment to happen when it publishes?” I’m like, “I would love it to be a New York Times’ bestseller. I want this in every middle school in America. I want every eighth grader learning how to have tough conversations in a way where they feel capable.” Like, that is my dream. That’s absolutely my dream.

Douglas: That’s phenomenal. So good.

And let’s talk a little bit about—one of my favorite questions is, if you can make meetings better, any average meeting—because as you know, I’m on a mission to rid the world of horrible meetings—

Alexandra: God bless you.

Douglas: —if you were to do one thing or just change one thing about meetings, what would it be?

Alexandra: For people to feel really safe to be themselves. I think people are dying for an opportunity to really be safe, to be themselves, and be accepted. I mean, that’s the bottom line.

Douglas: So I’d love to end with a message to the listener. So if there is anything that you’d want to leave them with, what might it be?

Alexandra: I want to invite you to try to bring structure to your conversat—I know I sound a little over the top, but this has truly changed so much about my life. It has changed decades-old family dysfunction, and it has changed my work and how successful my business is. Bring this structure to try it. Try this four-part conversation. Try it a few times. It has absolutely changed my life, my friends’ lives. The woman who wrote the foreword, she will inspire the heck out of you. An entrepreneur, who is a mom of five, she’s, like, “This saved my marriage.” I’m like, that’s a great testimonial for this book. Bring a little structure to your conversations, a little bit more professional structure to your intimate conversations, and a little bit more vulnerable intimacy to your professional conversations.

Douglas: It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today and hearing about your approach and your structure. I’m a huge fan of structure, and this falls right in with the work we do and what I love to talk about. So it was a tremendous pleasure chatting with you today.

And one last piece of housecleaning. How can folks find you? How can they get the book? I know it’s not quite out yet. Give us a little bit to go on.

Alexandra: We would love people to go preorder the book, actually. You can go to radicalalignmentbook.com. Listen, if you buy one or a couple copies and you just give us your little order number on the website, you get a free workshop with us. If you get 10 or more copies of the book, you get an eight-week training with me and my husband. So go to radicalalignmentbook.com, order the books there from wherever you love to get books. We are going to help you use this in your life and in your business beautifully.

Douglas: Excellent. And amazon.com, other suppliers as well.

Alexandra: Amazon, Kindle, Audible, your local independent bookstore, you can order it all through radicalalignmentbook.com.

Douglas: Radicalalignmentbook.com. So incredible. And I wish you the best of luck. I hope you do make the New York Times’ bestseller list. And again, it was a real pleasure to have you on the show.

Alexandra: Thank you.

Outro: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control the Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about working better together.