“I believe everything happens for a reason. I don't have any regrets, even though I've done some stupid stuff in my life—like, really dumb things. I wouldn't take it back, because I learned more from my flaws and failures than I have from the 'successes' of life. Those have been the character builders.” — Paula Faris
In this episode of Outliers, I’m talking with Paula Faris (@paulafaris) about leaving prominent television host roles at the height of her career to find her strengths, her vocational calling, and her true self.
After earning a degree in broadcasting, Paula Faris found her way to ABC News as a correspondent on World News Now and America This Morning in 2012. She was later Co-Anchor of Good Morning America Weekend from 2014 - 2018 and Co-Host of The View from 2015 - 2018. She was nominated for a Daytime Emmy three years in a row for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host. Her podcast, Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris, ran for three seasons and featured guests from Tim Tebow to Ted Cruz. Her first book, Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling, was released in April 2020.
- 00:02:15 – Paula’s background in faith, including Catholic, Lutheran, and non-denominational churches
- 00:04:04 – Aspiring to give grace to herself and others, and not judging people on their worst days
- 00:07:26 – Cancel culture and the assassination of people’s characters
- 00:08:25 – The perils of pinning your value and purpose to what you do or to your career
- 00:14:41 – Three questions to ask yourself to help find your vocational calling
- 00:21:03 – Why Paula launched her podcast, Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris
- 00:21:49 – How peace and fear can coexist in choices
- 00:23:20 – Taking the first step and allowing God to reroute you as needed
- 00:26:08 – Five questions to ask yourself when you feel fear in a situation
- 00:30:02 – How COVID-19 affected Paula’s book launch and mindset
- 00:32:50 – On narrating her own audiobook
- 00:35:29 – A deep dive into Paula’s podcast, Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris, and what she’s learned from it
- 00:39:08 – On one of Paula’s favorite books, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- 00:41:33 – On Paula’s favorite podcast interviews
- 00:44:22 – Paula’s next project
- 00:45:52 – How Paula got the nickname “Paula 20 Questions”
- 00:46:33 – Key habits for great interviews, including doing research and mirroring
- 00:50:54 – Paula’s learnings on leadership, and asking your team the question, “What is one thing I don’t want to hear?”
- 00:58:57 – Paula’s daily rituals, including preparing for a smooth morning, CrossFit, and Chick-fil-A
- 01:03:45 – How Paula’s father inspired her in his life and his death
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
Links from the Episode
- Connect with Paula Faris: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- ABC News’ Paula Faris on “Season of Hell” that Led to Her Journeys of Faith | Global Leadership Network
- Paula Faris to Launch Podcast on Faith for ABC News | Variety
- Paula Faris | Wikipedia
- Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling | Paula’s book
- Pete Richardson: Gaining Clarity on Your Life's Purpose | Outliers with Daniel Scrivner - Episode #6
- Jackson, MI, where Paula grew up
- Catholic Renewal, which inspired an ecumenical group Paula’s family was a part of
- CrossFit (Also discussed in Outliers Episode 10 with Mark Sisson)
- Cancel culture and its high-horse mentality
- Good Morning America Weekend, which Paula co-anchored
- The View, which Paula co-hosted
- David Shedd, who inspired Paula in finding vocational calling
- Joshua 1:9, which inspired Paula to press into her fear
- Martin Luther King, Jr., often attributed to the quote "Faith is taking a step when you can't see the rest of the staircase."
- Target, where Paula’s new book is sold
- Wal-Mart, where Paula’s new book is sold
- Christian Book Distributors, the main distributor of books in the faith space
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, former editor of the Chicago Tribune, one of Paula’s favorite books
- Apologetics, a field of religious expertise
- 10% Happier Podcast with Dan Harris, former co-anchor of Good Morning America Weekend
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, who inspired Paula’s habit of mirroring in conversations
- Global Leadership Summit, an event Paula is involved in
- Beth Comstock, who inspired Paula’s leadership style
- Enneagram Test, used for finding people’s strengths and weaknesses
Mentioned guests on Paula's Podcast, Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris:
- Nikki Haley
- Tim Tebow
- Dave Ramsey
- Sam Harris
- Kellyanne Conway
- Ben Shapiro
- Deion Sanders
- Ted Cruz
- Tim Scott
- Marianne Williamson
- Cory Booker
It’s worth the work to figure out your talents and gifts, and how you can apply those to the world around you. Those intrinsic strengths can be used in many ways, for many careers, to help many people. Identifying yourself by who you are, rather than what you do, leads to a more lasting sense of peace and fulfillment.
- To find your vocational calling, ask yourself three questions: What are you good at? What do you love? What do trusted people notice that you're good at and you love?
- When dealing with fear, ask yourself five questions: What am I afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that could happen? When have I allowed my fear to paralyze me in the past, and how did that feel? When have I not allowed my fear to paralyze me, and how did that feel?
- “You can be convicted and dogged in your beliefs and still respect the other person, and they don't have to be wrong. You don't both have to be right, you don't both have to be wrong. So just take care of your own sphere, take care of yourself, take care of your own house. Don't worry so much about the White House, that's what I always say. But yeah, just lead with respect and love.
- The most important things to remember when interviewing someone: “… the most important thing is doing your research, showing you care, that you know about that person, and that you want to know more. Then B, just listening.”
- “It's called mirroring. What you do is if you want the other person to open up, you literally repeat the last three words that the person said.”
- “One thing that I really took from her, she would ask her people once a month, “I want you to tell me something I don't want to hear." What that did was... it opened the lines of communication.”
- “One thing that helps me is I get everything ready the night before. I even put out the bowls for cereal and their spoon and their glass for orange juice so that I can invest in that time. Honestly, I know that sounds stupid, but I get all three of their water bottles out to fill them up. I get everything that I need for the next morning, cereal boxes, the bowls, everything laid it out so that I can actually enjoy that a little bit more.”
On Outliers, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today.
Daniel Scrivner (00:00:01):
Okay. We have a huge treat today, and we're lucky enough to have Paula Faris joining us on the podcast. Paula Ferris, welcome to the show.
Paula Faris (00:00:08):
Thank you very much, Daniel. It's a pleasure to be here.
Daniel Scrivner (00:00:10):
I'm super excited to have you. I've been preparing for this for quite a while. One of the places I wanted to start, this episode we're going to really focus in on and talk about your experience with faith, the book that you recently published called Out, and your challenges and your struggles over time with work versus worth and calling versus career, and some of those struggles. But maybe where I wanted to start is if you could just share a little bit about your own personal journey with faith and where you feel like that started in your life.
Paula Faris (00:00:38):
For sure. But before we proceed, I want to give everybody listening a little bit of color as to what's going on between Daniel and I right now. Daniel has these ear buds in that make him look like he could break out into some sort of rock song at any moment.
Daniel Scrivner (00:00:53):
Paula Faris (00:00:53):
Yes, exactly. I have to say I've done hundreds of podcasts, and yours is the first where you actually send ... You sent me a headset. I'm wearing what looks like a gaming headset.
Daniel Scrivner (00:01:08):
It is a gaming headset.
Paula Faris (00:01:08):
It's a gaming headset right now, just to ensure that the quality, the audio quality is good. It comes in the mail yesterday, and my son's like, "Mom, why did you order a gaming headset?" I was trying to explain to him that it's for your podcast. He's like, "Can we keep it? Can we buy it from him?" Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm actually doing a podcast or if I'm supposed to go play Xbox with my son.
Daniel Scrivner (00:01:30):
We're on Twitch. We're on Twitch right now.
Paula Faris (00:01:32):
We're on Twitch right now. But I look like I'm either doing a podcast or playing Fortnite with my son wearing this gaming headset. My husband walked in a moment ago and he said, "Good luck landing the planes." There's also throw that into the equation. I look like I'm an air traffic control.
Daniel Scrivner (00:01:48):
Just to redeem myself, it looks totally ridiculous, but we've tried out so many of these and we found that it's helpful. But yes, it is a gaming headset. It is a little bit of an aggressive ask, but thank you.
Paula Faris (00:02:00):
No, but I have to say I appreciate it, and I think that's what sets you apart already from other hosts. My son thinks you're awesome, by the way. This guy sends gaming headsets to everybody.
Daniel Scrivner (00:02:11):
Until he sees what you're doing, then he's very bored.
Paula Faris (00:02:15):
No, he thinks it's cool. But hey, if it improves the audio quality, then I'm all for it. To answer your question, Daniel, my faith journey, I say I'm a Christian mut for all intents and purposes. I grew up in Jackson, Michigan in the Midwest. I'm a Midwest kid, and my parents had found their faith and their 40s, late 30s and 40s. So I had my first communion in the Catholic Church and then we switched to the Lutheran Church and then I went to a Baptist high school, and then I went to a very strict Bible college. Then along the way, the common denominator throughout my entire childhood, my parents belong to this ecumenical group called Morningstar Christian Community. I know it sounds like what is that? A cult? No, it wasn't a cult. It was born out of the charismatic Catholic renewal in the 60s and 70s.
Paula Faris (00:03:07):
We met at the local YMCA and different families from all over Jackson County, which is where I'm from Jackson, Michigan, we had our respective churches and then we met separately with Morningstar Christian Community. So you had Catholics, you had Baptists, you had Episcopalians and you had Lutherans, and we met separate from our churches on Sunday nights, very Pentecostal. Then we would have what we would refer to as small groups on Saturday nights. We would have breakout into small groups. We call those households. I've seen it all, so I try not to get hung up on the minute differences between a lot of the denominations having been Catholic and Lutheran, Baptist and Bible and Pentecostal, and now I go to a non-denominational church. I think at the end of the day what really matters is if you're a Christian, they'll know you're a Christian by your love for people, all people. I try not to get hung up on the differences But yeah, I'm a Christian mutt. That's basically how I refer to myself.
Daniel Scrivner (00:04:04):
One of the things that I wanted to talk about is all of us, in our faith practices, we have things that we do, rituals that we do. But I think more important than that or something that I really enjoy is just ways of being, ways that we try to show up in the world, ways that we try to show up in daily life or an interaction with our family or our kids. Can you talk a little bit about, I know you mentioned that you go to a non-denominational church now, but some of those standards you try to hold yourself to, and some of the ways you try to show up every single day?
Paula Faris (00:04:31):
Standards. Things that I hold myself up to, I don't always live up to those though. But the thing that I really try to aspire to do is to give people as much grace and give myself as much grace as I give other people. I don't want to be judged on my worst day. Just for instance, I had something really embarrassing happen to me a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if you've ever sent the wrong message to the wrong text thread on your phone. I did. I had been ... Presumably, I thought I was sending a message to my college girlfriends. We have known each other for 25 years. It's like we talk like truckers and sailors to one another, okay? Even though we went to a Christian school, we love each other.
Paula Faris (00:05:11):
We know everything about one another, and we were having the funniest conversation on this text thread, and they were asking why I couldn't get together. I was explaining to them what was happening, was super busy. But one of my son, my middle child, he has been having basketball tournaments and his coach, [Kaz 00:05:29], was scheduling them at the last second. I would jokingly send something to them about this is why I can't get together because his coaches continues to schedule these tournaments out of the blue. Well, I accidentally sent that message to a different chain, and the chain that I sent it to was my son's coach and all the parents.
Daniel Scrivner (00:05:49):
Paula Faris (00:05:51):
I literally realized it right away, and I was like, "Oh my gosh!" I put my phone in airplane mode hoping that it didn't go through, and it went through and it was really embarrassing. I threw my phone down and I walked away, and I was like, "I have literally no idea how I'm going to redeem this situation," because I couldn't just say, "Oh, I said the wrong thing," because I followed it up with, "Hey, by the way, I'm doing CrossFit." Clearly, I'm talking to my friends. I just thought, you know what? I told my son what happened, and I said, "Look, that's probably not the best moment for your mother. Not one of my finer moments." I don't want to be judged in that moment, my entire character, because I know who I am, my friends know who I am, those who know me know who I am.
Paula Faris (00:06:34):
I don't want that one thing to define me. So guess what? I want to be the type of person that doesn't allow one thing to define others. I want to give other people the same amount of grace that I give myself and give myself the same amount of grace that I'm giving other people, and not allowing just that one thing to define me. But it was mortifying and it was embarrassing, and it was a great reminder of the type of life that I want to live. I'm a flawed, failed human being, I do stupid stuff. We all do stupid stuff, and I realized that about myself and I realized that about other people. I don't want to be that judgmental person that judges and assassinate somebody's character and judges them on one thing. I'm just trying to be full of grace for myself and for other people.
Daniel Scrivner (00:07:15):
Which I think it's a beautiful thing because that's definitely not very common today. I find that it's very hard to, I guess, see people doing that. I think that's a great thing.
Paula Faris (00:07:26):
Yeah. Especially with cancel culture. I mean, we're making generalizations and assassinating people's character based on one thing, and it's this high horse mentality. Let's all get off our high horse, okay? Let's think of some really stupid stuff that we've done. Would we want everyone to judge us based upon that one thing? No, we're imperfect human beings. Let's live in that grace, knowing that we're all making mistakes, we're all at our journey, let's embrace the flaws and the failures, the highs and the lows and extend grace to everybody, including ourselves.
Daniel Scrivner (00:07:58):
Yeah, and we're all generally flexing that judgment muscle way more than we're flexing the curiosity muscle. Rather than trying to understand where the other person's coming from or why do they feel that way or what led them to that point of view, we just jumped right to well I disagree.
Paula Faris (00:08:13):
Exactly, and I'm right and you're wrong.
Daniel Scrivner (00:08:16):
That's true, and that's always the next thing.
Paula Faris (00:08:19):
I'm going to change your mind, and guess what? We can't agree to disagree. You're a horrible human being.
Daniel Scrivner (00:08:25):
From there, I want to fast forward a little bit. We talked about some of your earliest experiences with faith. But part of your story and one reason that I was so excited to have you on and why I feel like this conversation's so topical and timely is I've struggled an immense amount with how much worth to put into my career or the things that I end up doing in the world. I know that you've had your own similar experience with that. You start off with this really deep rooting in faith, you then go and become very career-driven and lose that and have to rediscover it. Can you about that journey a little bit?
Paula Faris (00:08:57):
Yeah. Well, I think you're doing something that I've done and that we all fall victim to, and that's we interpret so much of our value and purpose and identity from doing, from what we do. It's one of the first questions that we get asked. What's your name and what do you do for a living? Our children, what do you want to do when you grow up? If it's not implied, it's explicit in our culture. We have to lean in, we have to find that one thing. Even in church or faith culture, find your purpose in calling and it's always related to doing, is it not? It's always related to career. You have to find that one thing that you were created to do. I leaned in really hard, I thought I was here to be a broadcaster. I've been in the field for well over 25 years now. I leaned in really hard. It was at the top of my game, anchoring Good Morning America, weekends in The View, co-hosting The View.
Paula Faris (00:09:47):
I was leaning into my God-given calling and my purpose, and then I burned out and I sensed that God wanted me to pause and to slow down and to pump the brakes a couple of years ago. I thought, but wait, didn't you call me to do this? Isn't this the one thing I was supposed to do? So why would I pump the brakes now? It wasn't until I went through a series of unfortunate events within a small period of time, and I write about it in my book, it was the season of hell, where unequivocally God was trying to slow me down. I had a miscarriage, I had a concussion at work, I had a head-on car crash, influenza and then pneumonia within seven months. I knew God was telling me that I needed to slow down, and if I was too stubborn to slow down, which I was, He was going to slow me down.
Paula Faris (00:10:34):
At the height of my career, I decided to off-ramp for a little bit and to pump the brakes. It was in that space, Daniel, that I realized I had no idea who I was outside of my job. I had no idea who I was without this title, because I had introduced myself and I thought my purpose was to be the best broadcaster that God created me to be. When that change, and that inevitably does, we experience vocational shifts. I think the average is five to seven throughout our lifetime when we experience these shifts and we're so tied to the doing that we don't know who we are outside of it. I had to figure out who I was outside of what I did. I'm not saying that you can't love what you do. You can absolutely love what you do, but there's a difference between loving what you do and being defined by what you do.
Paula Faris (00:11:21):
Do you know who you are outside of that? I thought I would, I thought I had maintained proudly and heartily that I could step away and my job didn't define me. I'm defined by who I am, a child of God. But then when the rubber met the road and I stepped away, it wasn't enough just to be a Jesus follower or a wife or a mom. None of that really matters. Who am I? I'm not the co-host of The View, I'm not the anchor of Good Morning America anymore. What am I now? It was as if those things did matter. I went on this journey of trying to find out the parts of me that didn't shift and shake in a crisis, which ironically, I didn't realize the foresight that's what's happening right now in this pandemic where things have changed so much for all of us. We've experienced loss, whether it's loss of loved ones, whether it's loss of job, loss of finances, our bank account doesn't look the same.
Daniel Scrivner (00:12:07):
Paula Faris (00:12:11):
Everything has changed. So you realize when you place your significance in something that's inevitably going to shift? Whether that is your job, whether that is relationship, whether it's bank account, whether it's status on Instagram, Twitter, when you place your significance in that, and it shifts, you're going to have an existential identity crime. You're going to have a crisis. When your purpose is tied into those things, you're not going to know who you are outside of that when they shift, and they will shift. I went on this journey to find out who I am outside of what I did. For so long I was Paula Faris, the anchor of Good Morning America and co-host of The View. When that changed, who am I again? I know who I am and I know why I'm here. I can love what I do, but that doesn't define me.
Paula Faris (00:13:01):
I realized in that phase of reflection and self discovery, that my worth wasn't work, and that my value wasn't vocation, and that my calling wasn't just career. Once I released myself from that, it was as if the shackles were off and I gave myself the permission, God gave me the permission to branch out and try new things, to take risks, to press and to fear, things that He's put on my heart that maybe I didn't think I was qualified or capable of doing. Just because I'm great broadcaster, doesn't mean that God can't use those same skills that made me a decent broadcaster. The gifts of curiosity, the gifts of question asking, championing and challenging people, all made me an effective broadcaster, but God can use those same gifts in different areas and in different seasons.
Paula Faris (00:13:44):
I don't have to be one thing for the rest of my life, and I thought I did. So it's freeing. It's as if the shackles are off. I can be used in so many different areas, and I'm excited to step into these spaces where I feel I'm being led, I don't really know what it's going to look like, but there's risk involved, changes involved, fear is involved, faith is involved, peace and fear co-exist. I can have a peace that I'm supposed to do something, I could be scared as hell about it. I had to realize fear is normal and that's up to me to press into it. But I know now, when I say who am I, it's no longer related to the doing. It's I'm Paula, I love Jesus, I'm a mother, I'm curious, I ask questions, and I like to champion and challenge people. That's who I am, and guess what? That's never going to change. That's who God created me to be, and God can use that in a myriad of different capacities. That won't change in crisis, personal crisis or pandemic.
Daniel Scrivner (00:14:41):
It's amazing just hearing you talk through that because it seems like a big piece of it is not giving so much of your work to external things or extrinsic things, and just going inward. I think, one, really getting to know yourself really well, but then finding those things that you can hold on to that you possess almost completely. Is that what the journey was for you? Was it a lot of just distancing yourself from external things?
Paula Faris (00:15:05):
Yes. I think, well, the journey was falling flat on my face realizing I'd had it all wrong, but I don't fault myself, I don't fault other people for doing it because it's baked into our society, it's baked into our culture, it's baked into our vernacular. What's your name? What do you do for a living? It's this expectation that success looks like one thing, okay? What really helped me was, during this phase of reflection and discovery, I remember doing distinctly this interview with a gentleman who worked for the FBI and ... I'm sorry, he worked for the CIA, and his name was David Shed. I had read that he felt called to go into government. I was like, "Okay, I'm just sick of people throwing this word around." Like I'm called. What does it even mean to be called? What does it look like? What does it sound like?
Paula Faris (00:15:53):
We throw that word around calling and purpose, and yet, how do you even define it? How do you describe what it is? He said something to me that really ... It was an aha moment. He said, "Vocational calling looks like three things. What are you good at, what do you love, and what do trusted people notice you're good at and you love?" He says those three things have to line up. For me, what am I good at? Well, I'm curious. What do I love? I love asking questions. My nickname growing up was Paula 20 Questions. Could you imagine how annoying I was, Daniel? Then what do trusted people notice that I'm good at and I love? Well, my high school teacher, drama teacher, Mr. Bassoon, was the first one to really channel that, and say, "You're curious, you ask questions. You should go into broadcasting."
Paula Faris (00:16:40):
Then my college professors were affirming that too you should be on air. What are you good at, what do you love, and what do trusted people notice you're good at and you love? For me, curiosity, asking questions. It just happened to channel into broadcasting. But peel back the layers of yourself, you're not just an entrepreneur and a CEO. What has made you an effective CEO and entrepreneur? I'll give you an example. My husband, he started out as a college basketball coach and then he got into real estate, and now he manages a big real estate firm in Manhattan. My husband's gifts are leadership and motivation. That initially manifest itself in college basketball when he was the captain of his team, and then when he coached, but when he coached college basketball, and now he manages 200 plus agents in Manhattan.
Paula Faris (00:17:29):
His gifts of leadership and motivation have allowed him to branch out vocationally in different areas. Because you say what's the common thread between being in basketball and real estate? Well, coaching, managing, leadership, motivating. But you have to ... When you ask yourself those questions, it's not I'm a great engineer. It's what has made you. Peel back those layers a little bit more. Do you like to fix things? Are you a creative person? Are you a loyal person? I have a friend who says she's loyal and encouraging, and those are the things that she's good at and that she loves. She is a podcaster and an author, and she's also a counselor. You see how those gifts have manifest itself in different areas. But when you ask yourself what you're good at and what you love and what do trusted people notice you're good at and you love, you have to check all three boxes.
Paula Faris (00:18:24):
A dear friend of mine, I'll give you an example of what it's not. She works in a business space. She honestly should be a consultant, and I have spoken that life into her. I'm like, "You're really good at it. Other people have noticed you're good at it. You should be a business consultant." She said, "I don't love it." She doesn't check that second box. She's good at it, and other people notice she's good at it, but she doesn't love it. What are you good at? What do you love? What do trusted people notice you're good at you love? Peel back those layers and ask yourself those questions. Sometimes it helps to have other people, your close friends, to answer those questions with you because you're too close to the situation often that you can't see the forest from the trees.
Paula Faris (00:19:01):
For me, when I first started asking those questions, I'm like, "I don't know." But curiosity, is that really a talent and a gift? Yeah, it is. We each have our own super powers. Then once we peel back those layers and we realize how we are uniquely wired, what we're good at, what we love and what other people notice we're good at and we love, it's really just freeing to see the different ways that those gifts can be used in different seasons, in different capacities as well. We don't have to be one thing for the rest of our life.
Daniel Scrivner (00:19:30):
It's a great tool, and I love that. Yeah, it's so simple, so crisp. I think even just hearing that, you're like, "Yeah, of course, that sounds like exactly what you would do to try to figure out what that looks like." One thing I want to just talk about a little bit more, as you describe it, you fell down on your face, had to get back up. From, I guess, the outside looking in, It's not like you just stopped doing anything or you stopped being ambitious. You have a podcast, Journeys of Faith, that I think is incredible. You have a book out called Out that's doing really, really well. So it seems like, I guess, the follow up questions I want to ask is, do you feel like ...
Daniel Scrivner (00:20:01):
Because both of those to me, they're incredible. They feel like what you were made to do. Do you feel like those things snapped into place once you got that sense of identity? Then the other question I guess I'm curious to dig into is maybe you are giving a little bit less of yourself to those things, or you're letting them be ... You're not letting them become all consuming, but you're clearly still putting a lot of energy and effort. Can you talk about how that works? How do you maintain that distance, but still yeah?
Paula Faris (00:20:27):
Yeah, when I decided to pump the brakes a couple of years ago, it's not like I quit my job. I didn't quit my job. My book's not about quitting my job. It's about reinventing yourself, finding out who you are outside of what you do, the parts of you that don't shift and shake, and not accepting yourself as this one thing forever and ever, and pushing back at society's lies that say, "This is your only value." When I decide to step away from the two dream jobs, I'm stepping into this space of the unknown. I'm meeting with my boss, and I just say, "I need to get my life back. I'd like to work Monday through Friday," and I was in contract negotiations and they said that they wanted to keep me and they would work with me. I said I want to work Monday through Friday.
Paula Faris (00:21:03):
I really felt I had this sense that I really needed to launch a faith podcast where people could talk about their different faiths and why they believe what they believe because in media it's one of the first questions that we cut out, is if they mention God or Allah or Jesus, we're like, "Yeah, but we don't care about that. Tell us about that salacious quote that you gave or your game winning touchdown." We don't want to hear about their faith. I wanted to create a space where we could have respectful conversations with people with news makers regarding their faith, why they believe what they believe. They allowed me to launch that podcast, and then I was just reporting Monday through Friday in a much smaller capacity. The challenge often, Daniel, we can sense something in our spirit that we need to make a change. We have a peace that we're supposed to make some sort of change.
Paula Faris (00:21:49):
But then we're scared as hell to take the next step because we don't know what it looks like, and that's where faith comes into play. You don't get a sneak peek at the next chapter before you finish writing the one year in. I knew that I was supposed to obey and I knew I was supposed to pump the brakes. I didn't know what it was going to look like on the other side, I just knew that this is what I was supposed to do. I knew that I had to press into my own fear, and that's when I realized in that season, you can have a peace in your spirit that you're supposed to do something and you can still be terrified, and that's normal. So often we mistake fear for our intuition. Oh, my intuition is telling me not to do it. Now, I had a peace that I was supposed to do it, but I was so terrified because I was scared of what I was walking away from.
Paula Faris (00:22:32):
Who walks away at the height of their career? Pumps the brakes at the height of their career? I was scared of what I was walking into, which was the unknown. But I realized fear is normal, and to get comfortable with that feeling of fear and that it was up to me to press into it. Depending on your faith level, the verse that really helped me was in Joshua 1:9 where God has called Joshua to take down the City of Jericho and he asks him to circle. But then he says, "Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Don't be afraid and don't be discouraged for the Lord your God's with you everywhere you go." That verse, it said, "Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous?" So we're commanded to be strong. This is a command to step into faith, to press into our fear. God commanded Joshua, He commands us to be strong and courageous.
Paula Faris (00:23:20):
He says don't be afraid and don't be discouraged. So He acknowledges that we're going to be scared, but He commands us to press it too, and then He promises us that He's going to be there, lead us through it. So often it's like when your GPS. You know how when you plug directions into your GPS and it doesn't really know where you are? You're like, "Okay, but I'm here. Am I supposed to take a left or a right out of here?" You just have to start driving, and that it'll reorient you and you're like, "Oh, I took the wrong turn." Do you know what I'm saying? Like when you first put the directions in?
Daniel Scrivner (00:23:48):
Every time my wife puts in maps, this is exactly what happens here.
Paula Faris (00:23:52):
Okay. But that's what it's like. You have to start driving, you have to start moving, you have to take that first step, and then things become clear for you. But it's not going to become clear unless you start moving, right? Unless you take that step of faith, until you start driving in a direction and then God will say, "Nope, not here," or God will say, "Yep, this is where you're supposed to be going." But you have to take that first step, you have to press into your fear, you have to start moving, and sometimes God just wants to ... He wants to either refine you, He wants to test your obedience, but you have to take a step of faith. It's like Martin Luther King, "Faith is taking a step when you can't see the rest of the staircase." You just got to start moving. You have to start moving. I just realized I had to get used to those two feelings of fear and peace coexisting, that they're not mutually exclusive and there's nothing wrong with me if I feel fear.
Paula Faris (00:24:46):
It's totally normal. Fear's mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. I think every "successful" person has had to press into their fear has been told one time or another that they were crazy to do something. It doesn't have to make sense to you. It doesn't have to make sense to other people. I say if you have peace about something, you proceed, and if you don't have a peace, then pause. But if you do proceed, expect and anticipate the fear to be present, and then it's up to you to press into it and to move forward. I still don't know what the next chapter truly looks like. I am going to be taking another leap of faith this fall and doing something that's been on my heart for a long time that I didn't feel I was capable or qualified of doing because I was a broadcaster, right?
Paula Faris (00:25:28):
But I realized God gave me these gifts of curiosity, question asking and champion and people, and I want to use those same gifts in a different capacity now. I'm going to stop by in those lies that I have to be one thing for the rest of my life, and I'm ready to take risk and press into my fear because I have a peace of that this is what I'm supposed to be doing, so I'm going to be proceeding. But it can be scary, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with me if I'm scared about it. I have a peace and I'm moving forward.
Daniel Scrivner (00:25:53):
I love that. It feels like you've got a lot of clarity about how that works. Do you interpret fear more as a test then? Is the fear just fear of the unknown, and it's always there? Is it God's way of testing us and seeing if we can overcome this hurdle?
Paula Faris (00:26:08):
That's the thing. Fear is normal. It's just there. There's nothing wrong with you if you feel fear at all, and I think we just have to get used to that. We have to get used to that feeling. So often fear is just ... You know why fear is there? Because it's trying to paralyze you. It's trying to paralyze you from taking the next steps. It's trying to hold you back. Fear is something that we will all deal with in decisions big and small. One thing that really has helped me to press into it is I just came up with some questions and it's a mix of seeing what else is out and finding out what works for me. But I apply these five questions to my own life and to my own situation, okay? So I just name it. What is it that I'm scared of? Okay, what am I scared of?
Paula Faris (00:26:57):
For me, it's the fear of failure, it's the fear of what people are typically are going to think of me, the fear they'll think I was a has-been, that I'm washed up and I'm irrelevant. So it's all these stupid fears, okay? Just articulating it and writing it down. Then the second question I ask myself is what's the worst thing that could happen? Because so often we think negatively, oh, the worst thing that could happen is that I fail and it doesn't work out, and just list those fears. Then the third question, flip that script around a little bit, what's the best thing that could happen if you step into your fear? We often go negative. Go positive. Think about the positive. Think about, oh, if I do step into my fear, well, hey, I don't have to regret that I didn't go for it. That right there is a huge plus. That's a huge, positive.
Paula Faris (00:27:42):
The fact that my fear didn't hold me back, for me that's usually the biggest bonus. Then write down the other positives. What are some of the best things that could happen if I press into my fear? Four, ask yourself ... Name some times, think about some times where you've allowed your fear to paralyze you whether it was big or small, like I didn't try out for the high school soccer team, I didn't try out for the tennis team, or I didn't go to that meet and greet that I should have gone. Big and small, and then write down how that made you feel and why you regret it, okay? Then the fifth question is, write down some times, think about some times where you didn't allow your fear to paralyze you, and if you remember how invigorating and confident you felt that you didn't have that regret of not going for it. I try to ask myself those five questions whenever I'm toiling through something, and it just helps me work it out a little bit, and especially that third question, what's the best thing that could happen?
Paula Faris (00:28:32):
It puts me in a more positive space. Instead of thinking negative, I start thinking about the positive. The greatest thing that can happen by not allowing your fear to paralyze you is that you don't have the regret of knowing that it paralyzed your destiny, that it clamped you up and that it prevented you from taking that step that you knew you should take. That really helps me. But I think you have to get used to that feeling of fear and peace co-existing. There's nothing wrong with you when you feel fear. But I always say the very first step before that, if you have a peace about it, and that peace from your spirit that this is what you're supposed to do. If you do, then proceed and expect and anticipate fear, it doesn't have to make sense to you or anybody else. People might call you crazy. Gosh, I've been called crazy. I was told by an executive that I was crazy for pumping the brakes, that that would be a career killer. But get used to that, get used to those feelings of discomfort.
Daniel Scrivner (00:29:25):
That was a very compassionate thing for that executive to tell you.
Paula Faris (00:29:29):
I know. Very, very. Yes, exactly.
Daniel Scrivner (00:29:31):
Paula Faris (00:29:32):
Career killer, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you for empowering me, for trying to establish balance in my life.
Daniel Scrivner (00:29:39):
Yeah, not allowed.
Paula Faris (00:29:40):
No, never. The times are changing though. I think in this moment too, with COVID, it's empowered employees to really say just because this is the way that it's always been done, it doesn't have to continue to be that way. Champion yourself and advocate for yourself in this moment, say, "Just because this is how we've done it, we don't have to continue doing it this way. We can change. We can adapt."
Daniel Scrivner (00:30:02):
It's so funny you bring up that link between fear and that loss of identity and COVID because I definitely feel like I've seen that in almost everyone that I know, is this sense of our lives and what an average day looks like and being in the office and being perceived this way. Now all of a sudden, we're all stuck at home. We're all in our home offices. I feel like everyone's had to grapple with that sense of identity, and who am I? Because it's very different.
Paula Faris (00:30:28):
It's really uncomfortable. We're all out of our comfort zone. But I think it's also ... It's kind of the great equalizer, this moment, where it's exposed so many of our insecurities and our doubts and our flaws, where ... Even for me, this is the message of my book, and I can't tell you how many times I've had to remind myself of the message that I'm preaching about. I launched my book, Daniel, in April, right when the pandemic hit. Everything was canceled. My book tour, the book signing, all the big orders from Target and Walmart, all the conferences that were going to order tens of thousands of books, the distribution channels were shut down, the main distribution channel and the Faith Space, the Christian book distributors was shut down April, May, June. Those that pre-ordered my book in March didn't get it till July.
Paula Faris (00:31:18):
There were problems with the audio distribution, and I had to remind myself is my significance coming from the success of this book? Because guess what? That's going to shift and that's going to shake. I can't allow my significance to come from something that moves, and that was very challenging for me. So it's something that I grappled with and I had to really remind myself I had to just give it up, and I was like, "I knew that I was supposed to write this book. I never wanted to write a book, but I felt when I went through this experience, a couple of years ago, walked away the height of my career and didn't know who I was outside of what I did, I felt like I was supposed to write about it." I just had to give that up. I'm the messenger, but God's the carrier and he can get it into the right hands and success, God's kingdom doesn't look like success in man's kingdom.
Paula Faris (00:32:07):
So I had to detach myself from the disappointment and from the setbacks, and just put it in God's hands. I truly believe I'm one of those people I believe everything happens for a reason. I don't have any regrets, even though I've done some stupid stuff in my life, really dumb things. I wouldn't take it back because I've learned more from my flaws and failures than I have from the "successes" of life. Those have been the character builders.
Daniel Scrivner (00:32:35):
Yeah. Some things you have to learn by painful experience, and oftentimes that's the best way to learn the lesson because then it's branded super deeply. Because you have this touchstone moment or memory that you can think about.
Paula Faris (00:32:46):
Yeah. I have a scar from that. Okay, thank you for the reminder.
Daniel Scrivner (00:32:50):
One of the things I have to ask about is I know for your book, you did the audio book version yourself, and you talked about that just being a really wonderful experience. Can you share what that was like and why you decided to do that?
Paula Faris (00:33:02):
Oh gosh. Well, for me it was like bring it all back to where it began because people ask me growing up did I know I wanted to be a broadcaster. I didn't even think about it. I didn't even think it was a possibility until I was in high school when my high school drama teacher, and I mentioned his name earlier, it's Mr. Bassoon at Jackson Baptist High School, He cast me as the narrator in all of our productions. I thought I was an actress. I wanted a main role, I wanted to show off my acting chops, but he continually cast me as the narrator, and the narrators and the productions really carried the entire production, carried the tone. They moved the audience through the production and closed it. At first, I begrudged him for casting me as the narrator.
Paula Faris (00:33:46):
But then it was because of the role that I played in those productions and his feedback, that's the reason I went into broadcasting. Because he said, "You tell a great story, you have good inflection, intonation, and you're engaging. You should go into broadcasting," and literally that was the first time I even thought about it, when he suggested it to me. It was only because he cast me as the narrator, something I didn't want to do, but something that I grew to really love. It was because of him that I went into broadcasting. Fast forward when I get to do the audio version of my book, it just took me back to where it all began, where I discovered these gifts that God gave me and to get back in the booth, and I have tracked things and I guess, "narrated" throughout my broadcasting career. But to be able to narrate the audio version of my own book was really ...
Paula Faris (00:34:38):
It came full circle for me. It was emotional, especially there's one chapter in particular where I talk about ... I dedicated the book to my father who died during the writing of the book, and so chapter 11 was really, really tough for me to get through. That took a full day. I had to leave the studio a couple of times and come back. But it was, all in all, just a really beautiful experience, so much so that I told one of my agents, I was like, "I'd love to narrate books. I'd love to get back to that." It takes me back to the love that I realized I first discovered, and it was how I first discovered this niche and broadcasting. It was a true honor. I loved it. Not everybody likes narrating their books, but-
Daniel Scrivner (00:35:20):
No, not everyone's good at it. Let's just say that.
Paula Faris (00:35:23):
If you want to write another book, Daniel, and you need me to narrate it, I'm happy to.
Daniel Scrivner (00:35:29):
Okay. Well, I'm holding that in my back pocket. It's like [inaudible 00:35:33] good idea. I want to spend a little bit of time talking about your podcast, Journeys in Faith. I mean, I listened to quite a few episodes preparing for this. Number one, you're an amazing interviewer. You just are so comfortable and natural, and so I feel like you're such a great conduit for people to engage with people. But the thing that attracted me to it is I've had my own faith journey. I would not describe myself as a incredibly religious person, but I definitely have spiritual practices that I do. But I also find that it's something, again, like you said, that anytime faith gets brought up, especially in, I don't know, public or a media setting, it's silenced or edited out.
Daniel Scrivner (00:36:09):
Yet you've had people like Nikki Haley, Tim Tebow, Dave Ramsey, all people with very different backgrounds and journeys, as well as people who are atheists like Sam Harris on the podcast. But what I've loved is that you engaged with it in a way that clearly this was an important topic for you, but you wanted to give everybody a platform to be able to talk about it. Out of all those conversations, what stood out to you and what are some, I guess, incredible things that you've experienced and heard and felt as part of that journey?
Paula Faris (00:36:37):
What I learned is you can be dogged and convicted in your own faith and still have really riveting, respectful conversations with people of other faiths. All of that it does is it showed me that I need to show up as my true self. You need to show up as your true self, if you're Christian or Jewish or atheist. So often we're scared to show up as our true selves because we're frightened what people are going to think about us, but they're going to say. But the moment that you do and you show up as your true self in a very respectful manner, the next thing you know you're having great conversations with other people who are encouraged to show up as their true self. You have riveting conversations about what's important to them, cultures, traditions, faith, and it breaks down these walls of ignorance and naivete. Often I think for me, I learned about other faiths and it's not that we're disrespectful of other faith, we just don't take the time to talk to people.
Paula Faris (00:37:33):
It also showed me I can love my faith and believe wholeheartedly in my faith, and I could still respect other people who believe differently. It doesn't make them wrong. It doesn't make me wrong. I can believe what I believe wholeheartedly is the truth, and I can still be respectful and love people. I can sit down at a table and I learned this from doing The View too. I can see people for people, and not people as policy, and not people just as their religion. I can sit down and have a conversation with them and love them. Why? Because they're made in the image of God. That's all I need to know. That's all I need to know. They're made the image of God and I can respect them and love them for that. Don't have to agree with them, but I can respect them at the end of the day enough to say, "You can believe what you believe, and I can believe what I believe," and guess what? We can still coexist.
Paula Faris (00:38:22):
We can disagree without being totally disagreeably. What was interesting is it only made my faith deepen, and I think if you haven't ever challenged your faith and haven't asked yourself some of those tough questions ... I mean, I'm a journalist, so I think that some of that is just inherent. I like to explore, and I'm a skeptic at heart, I like to ask a lot of questions. But I think if you haven't ... If you don't have an answer for the hope that is within you, you have to have an answer for the hope that is within you. Then I think that you need to really dig in and ask yourself some of those hard questions. What do you believe? Why do you believe it? How does it get you through the ups and downs? People ask me all the time, and I think what's great about working in such a secular environment, people would challenge me all the time and what that did was it forced me to dig in. to really research and explore and investigate.
Paula Faris (00:39:08):
One of my favorite books is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but that's been one of the most transformative books in my life, along with The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I know totally random. But Lee Strobel was the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, and he was an atheist or agnostic. I can't remember which one, but his wife became a Christian. He thought she was a loonie tune. He went on this journey to basically disprove Jesus Christ. He put him on trial, and he interviewed scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, The Case for Christ, and it talks about his journey to becoming a Christian and ask some of those really deep theological questions that we all get posed if you are a person of faith, if you are a Christian. But I just thought it was a really fascinating read. Again, you have to be ready to answer for the hope that's within you. It's not enough just to say, "Oh, this is how I was raised." Come on, we can do better than that. We could do a lot better.
Daniel Scrivner (00:40:03):
Yeah. You have to have your own answer for that. Not a borrowed answered or your parents answer. Any of that.
Paula Faris (00:40:09):
I think more importantly, they'll know you're a Christian by your love. I mean, you could talk the big game and you can have the theological answers to every question and you can be even an expert in apologetics, which my brother is. But if you don't have love, you have nothing. They're not going to listen to you unless you lead with love. They'll know you're a Christians by your love for one another. Lead with love, and then when people notice that there's a difference about you, then they start asking, "Well, what's different about you?" But if they can't tell from the external that there's something different, they're not going to care what you say.
Daniel Scrivner (00:40:40):
No, I definitely agree with that. You have to be an example by which people can just intuitively ask questions about, "Well, You're amazing. You always show up this way. Why is that the case?" Then I feel like you've got something to really explore and talk about together, as opposed to just yelling at somebody your beliefs. Just never works very well.
Paula Faris (00:41:00):
Yelling believe this way, no it doesn't. Don't throw names out there and oh, if you truly believed you would do this or you would vote a certain way. No. I mean, again, you can be convicted and dogged in your beliefs and still respect the other person, and they don't have to be wrong. You don't both have to be right, you don't both have to be wrong. So just take care of your own sphere, take care of yourself, take care of your own house. Don't worry so much about the White House, that's what I always say. But yeah, just lead with respect and love.
Daniel Scrivner (00:41:33):
Yeah. I guess an episode that I wanted to share, like I mentioned, I listened to a few episodes of Journeys in Faith leading up to this. The one that really blew me away is Nikki Haley. I knew a little bit about her, I know people that are huge fans of hers, but I think what was really engaging and interesting about that interview is, number one, hearing all the difficult things that she's gone through, especially being governor of South Carolina and how important her faith was to get her through that, including dealing with PTSD. But I think it was a really intimate and personal angle to learn about somebody and to see really that this thing, like you've mentioned, is never discussed and is omitted and is edited out, is actually a ... plays a huge role in her life and all of your guest's life. Is there a favorite interview or a favorite moment that you have from one of the episodes on the show?
Paula Faris (00:42:21):
One of my favorite episodes was having my dear friends and my former co-anchor at Good Morning America, Dan Harris, and he hosts a really popular podcast, 10% Happier. He describes himself as an agnostic Buddhist. But Dan and I, I joke that I'm the little sister he never had nor wanted, we just have such a familial warm vibe, but he's like my big brother and I'm the annoying little sister, and we would have the most challenging religious faith conversations debates.
Daniel Scrivner (00:42:54):
But loving, loving challenging debates.
Paula Faris (00:42:57):
Off camera. Very much so off camera. He was one of my favorite podcasts I think just because of our relationship and our past, and he's such a good human being. We don't see this ... We don't have the same point of view when it comes to faith, but I respect him and he respects me, and he knows that there's something different about me. That's definitely one of my favorites, but they're all different in their own, right? I think just as an overarching takeaway was just seeing these people in a different light, seeing these news makers, whether it was Kelly Ann Conway, or Ben Shapiro, or Sam Harris, or Tim Tebow or Nikki Haley, like you said, or Deon Sanders, we had some really great guests.
Paula Faris (00:43:41):
I did a political series with some of the prominent Democrats and Republicans, Ted Cruz and Tim Scott and Marianne Williamson who had some crazy policies that she was throwing out there, but really interesting too, and Cory Booker. I'm just trying to rattle off some names from season three. It was important for me to have diverse ideology and their diverse perspectives on there as well. But just really being able to see these people for people instead of just boiling them down and reducing them to their politics or their ideologies to peel back the layers was really fascinating. I'm excited. I was able to do three seasons of Journeys of Faith with ABC and-
Daniel Scrivner (00:44:22):
Yeah. Will we see another season or another [inaudible 00:44:25] something like that?
Paula Faris (00:44:28):
You'll see something different. There'll be a different podcast out there. Just put it that way. I can't really say much about it. It won't be Journeys of Faith, it won't be with ABC, but I'm excited to launch a new podcast soon. It'll probably explore some of those tenets about purpose and calling and taking risks and people that have reinvented themselves, Second Acts, that sort of thing, pressing to our fear, things that are resonating in this moment where people are all reflecting on who they are and whether or not this is what they want for their life. I'm excited to explore that. It'll be fun.
Daniel Scrivner (00:45:06):
I can't wait to see what that looks like. One of the things that I really appreciated about your podcast and the way you engage there is, number one, you clearly have ... like I mentioned before, you have your own very strong point of view, you're a Christian, but you had people on the podcast from all walks of life, from all religious backgrounds, from all experiences, and you did an amazing job at having really genuine, open, compassionate conversations. One of the things I wanted to explore with you is just your roots in journalism, and I think your thoughts about what it takes to have a deep nuanced conversation with somebody? In your mind when you sit down with someone and you know that there's all these really interesting ideas you want to explore, how do you go about navigating that conversation, and how do you think about what you're really doing as a journalist in those moments?
Paula Faris (00:45:52):
Well, look, I think there's an element of just inherent curiosity from my perspective. I mean, my nickname was Paula 20 Questions. I've always been inherently curious.
Daniel Scrivner (00:46:02):
Yeah, what's the background on that nickname?
Paula Faris (00:46:06):
I was so annoying, I didn't stop asking questions and I didn't stop challenging people when I was little. I was the youngest of four. For instance, we had a close family friend. Her name was Judy Bartelle. She would come over, and she smoked. I was little, I probably like six, seven years old, and every time she came over, "Can I look through your purse?" And I would find her cigarettes and I'd be like, "You know these are going to kill you, right?" I was never afraid to ask questions or get in people's face.
Daniel Scrivner (00:46:32):
Two good skills.
Paula Faris (00:46:33):
From an early, but also being the youngest. I was the youngest cousin on both sides, by a large margin. I was a little annoying, and I asked questions I was persistent. So I earned that moniker, which I think was meant to be negative, Paula 20 Questions just doesn't shut up, and then it became who I was. I've used that as a strength in some capacities. But I think just my inherent curiosity, and I think you have to go into an interview, even if you're not interviewing. Whether you're a CEO or you're a manager and you're interviewing people, you're interviewing potential employees, or you're just trying to have a conversation with somebody, I think if they don't know that you care and have done the homework and research on them, they're not going to be engaged.
Paula Faris (00:47:23):
I remember one of my first ... when I was first interviewing at ABC. I went into an interview with one of the executives and I could tell they were looking at my resume for the very first time. So you're in Chicago? Because when I was interviewing, I was in Chicago at the time, and I was interviewing on the East Coast. I still remember that didn't make me feel ... It's not that you need to feel special, but you need to put the other person at ease in some capacity. Yes, you could still ask tough questions and you can challenge them, but they have to know that you've cared enough to do the research, and that you've cared enough to find out a little bit more about them. Before I was getting ready to be interviewed by you, and I'm not even in the interview, I was doing the research on you and found out a little bit about what makes you tick because I think that's important even in a conversation to know, ask questions, to know about the other person on any of the other side of the table.
Paula Faris (00:48:22):
A, that's the most important thing, is doing your research, showing you care that you know about that person and that you want to know more. Then B, just listening. Once you can do those two things, you're going to find the person on the other side of the table, whether it's in an interview setting for a job or in a professional interview, you're going to find that that person's going to open up. One other tactic that I learned from Chris Voss ... I don't know if you've read his books, Never Split the Difference. Chris Voss, I had to interview him a couple of years ago at the Global Leadership Summit, and he was the former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. Okay. So he's in some of those hostile environments. He says that we're in negotiations every day that we don't even know. But one of his tactics it's called mirroring. What you do is if you want the other person to open up, you literally repeat the last three words that the person said. Let's just say something to me.
Daniel Scrivner (00:49:20):
Well, it just makes me think about Michael Scott because I know he ... I feel like in the office, there's a few scenes where mirroring is involved, and it's a little creepy.
Paula Faris (00:49:26):
You just said it's creepy. It's creepy? Tell me about that. You're literally just repeating the last three words, and what that does is it shows them that you care and that you're listening, but it gets them to keep giving a little bit more on that it, to keep opening up.
Daniel Scrivner (00:49:42):
Yeah. I know. Even just restating, that's something I've tried to get better at recently as well too is ... A lot of what I do during the day is I'm in meetings with my team at Flow, and we're doing all the things we need to do to continue to operate the business and grow the business. Inevitably what a lot of that looks like is really just trying to understand. I think what a CEO is at the end of the day a lot of the times is somebody that needs to understand everyone's point of view on the team and be able to get all those people to move in one direction as one team, and a big part of that simply just listening. So I feel like one skill I've tried to get better at recently, which in my mind is I make it a point to really try to make people feel heard and really try to be present in meetings.
Daniel Scrivner (00:50:23):
But I think one way that's helpful is just to restate what people say. Say, "I think this is what I heard you say. Is this really what you were meaning? Or is this how you feel?" I found that that's really powerful because, number one, it does ... I think in our world today, people often don't feel heard. They don't know if you're really paying attention. We don't know if anyone's paying attention half the time when we're talking or sharing our thoughts or even on a phone call with somebody else, and so it makes people feel heard. But I think another is everybody likes to feel like they're important. It makes people feel they're important, which is a great skill.
Paula Faris (00:50:54):
I think that's why we're in this situation we're in. Everybody lives in offense, and it's just everybody wants to feel unique and special. They want to feel heard, and people don't feel heard at this moment because there's so much clamoring for their attention. I think it's great, the type of environment you've tried to create. As a leader, I think we're all leaders because we all have influence, I feel like my leadership style is copied. I've tried to find what's worked for other people. It's a culmination of what I've learned along. Same with my parenting. It's like I didn't figure it out. Other people that were doing, I took bits and pieces. One thing that I'm trying to really apply now that I'm forming a company, which I can't really talk about yet, but you'll find out more in the spring of 2021, when I was interviewing Beth Comstock and I was interviewing her for, again, the Global Leadership Summit, which I'm really involved in, she is one of the former chairs.
Paula Faris (00:51:43):
I think she was the first female chair at General Electric, and she's was also an executive at NBC Universal. I was interviewing her about her leadership style. One thing that I really took from her, she would ask her people, "Once a month, I want you to tell me something I don't want to hear." What that did was it opened the lines of communication, but it made people A, like you said, feel heard, and it also established this atmosphere of transparency and honesty where people felt that they had a voice, that they had a say and that they were heard. I thought that that was ... That's something that I'm trying to implement into my own leadership journey, asking the people on the team, at my team what's one thing I don't want to hear, because I want them to know that we're a team. We are a team.
Paula Faris (00:52:33):
There might be a structural hierarchy, but we're a team at the end of the day. That's the way that you build, not just an honest culture, but a really strong culture where people feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. I know working for other leaders who've made me feel like I was part of it, and they saw something in me that I didn't see for myself and they shared their vision and they believed in me. I wanted to run through a wall for those leaders. That's the kind of environment that I want to establish too. I think that's a really good question that we can all fold into our own leadership. Tell me one thing I don't want to hear. It can be painful.
Daniel Scrivner (00:53:12):
I think it's amazing because I think the only way you're ever going to improve is by being aware of and making it okay and making it comfortable and actually good for people to bring up those things. It's not that it's going to feel great. I'm sure it probably always stings a little bit when people share those things, but that's the only way you're going to make progress, by talking.
Paula Faris (00:53:30):
How often do we see abuse of power, abuse of leadership where leaders have surrounded themselves with yes men and yes women and enablers? Then what that does, it creates this dictatorship, it creates an air of dishonesty, and also like I need somebody to save me from myself because I can get in my own way. I want people to challenge me and to call me out respectfully when I need to be called out. Because that's the thing, as leaders we have to be confident enough and secure enough in ourselves that we have assembled a team that feels that they have a say and that has a voice, and that they're part of something bigger than themselves. Again, I need to be safe for myself a lot. I really do.
Daniel Scrivner (00:54:14):
One, I'm so glad you touched on that because I feel like one of the most challenging parts about getting better as a leader is really just leaning into and understanding the things that you don't do well and knowing and being aware of those things and knowing how to offset them. I find that the best leaders have put more work in to themselves than necessarily than the business or than their team. Because I think if you have issues or things you're struggling with or you don't want to hear difficult news or you need people to build you up constantly, those things are all going to show up negatively in the way that you lead and in then the way that your team interacts with one another. So I feel like one of the ... It's maybe an indirect path, but one of the ways to become a better leader is just to really work on yourself and know yourself.
Paula Faris (00:54:54):
No, that's really great. I haven't heard it put that way, and I think that that's something that's really valuable that I could fold into my own leadership style and leadership journey. Because as the leader of a company, I mean, you set the tone, and that's the thing. You've surrounded yourself with people who fill in the gaps. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses, and I'm not trying to ... I think that a strength is identifying your weaknesses and making sure that you have people that fit those gaps and fill those gaps, and they know that they are empowered. You're in this space because I can't do this alone. I need you in this space, and I'm delegating to you and I'm entrusting you. Yeah, I think part of leading is just managing, but motivating people. You're right. If I'm investing in myself and my own leadership style, I don't have to be all things to all people and do all things. That's why you hire really kick-ass people on your team, and they need to know that.
Daniel Scrivner (00:55:49):
That's a myth. No one is all things to all people, good at all. That's not a thing.
Paula Faris (00:55:54):
I am so bad at that. I think I was mentioning to you earlier, I couldn't even figure out how to save a PDF on my desktop yesterday with my team, and I was like, "Guys, I think I need to go to technology 101." But then again I was like, "But that's why I have all of you." I'm never going to claim that I am technologically literate because I'm not. I don't want to be though, because that's just not my wheelhouse. But that's why I've got you. I've got you guys on my team to help me with this, but also to carry that load. This is a weakness of mine, and that's why you're in place and I believe in you, and that's why you're in this position. I'm not trying to be all things to all people. I know where my strengths lie and I'm going to focus on those, and this is where your strength is and you are a huge part and crucial to the team, as we all are. We all have to have the baton at certain times, not one person with the baton at all times.
Daniel Scrivner (00:56:44):
Yeah. That's a quote that's constantly just been rolling around in my mind, is just this idea that great idea or great things are always built by a great team. I do really think. I think obviously now we've got a resurgence in superhero movies and I think everybody wants to see themselves as the person that can do it all and be at all. But I think that that's not reality, and that it really does take you knowing your limitations, knowing what you're good at, and I think you shared a great rubric for figuring that out earlier, just going through those three questions, to really understand what is your area of genius, and then knowing how to offset that by finding really talented people that are good at the things that you're not, or the things that drain energy from you or the things that when you're doing it, you're clear this is not what I'm called to do.
Paula Faris (00:57:26):
I think that's one of those great tools that you can use on your team, whether or not you issue the Enneagram test to find out what people's strengths and weaknesses are. But also maybe applying those three questions to everybody on your team. Okay, let's sit down, let's work through this together. What are we good at, what do we love, and what other people notice we're good at and we love? Then what that does is it unleashes those talents and gifts within each person on your team to live up to that potential. Well, I want you to use your talents and gifts of fixing things, I want you to use those on this team. That's where I'm really relying on you. Your inherent talents and gifts, which you're good at and love, your curiosity, let's focus on that, let's build into that. That's why you're on this team.
Daniel Scrivner (00:58:07):
I love that wording too. It's not I want you to do this. It's take your talents and gifts because you're uniquely good at this.
Paula Faris (00:58:14):
Yeah. I mean, this is your unique DNA code. This is not mine. I think just really playing up people's strengths instead of focusing on the weaknesses, this is what you bring to the table uniquely. This is how you're wired and this is where I want you to shine in this area. My brother-in-law loves to fix things, and he's a surgeon, but he also has a farm and loves to tinker in his garage and fix his tools and just fix everything around the house. I think it's interesting how his gift of just wanting to fix things and people have manifest themselves. He doesn't want to be a surgeon and a doctor for the rest of his life. He could use those gifts of inherent talents and gifts of wanting to fix things and people in different ranches and at different capacities, different seasons of life.
Daniel Scrivner (00:58:57):
I want to ask a couple of closing questions, and one of them is just for things that they do every single day, these could be rituals, this could be before I get up I think about the things that I'm grateful for, the little day in and day out that help them show up as their best selves. Can you share some of your practices?
Paula Faris (00:59:15):
Yes. Well, this morning I slept in.
Daniel Scrivner (00:59:19):
It's a good practice too. That's a ...
Paula Faris (00:59:23):
I'm up with my kids every morning. I'm in a new season where I really want to be present with my children, and I've never been able to do that because I worked in morning television, so I've never been able to take them to school, rarely been able to pick them up. I get up early most mornings and I'm having great conversation with them over breakfast. I like to get ... One thing that helps me is I get everything ready the night before. I even put out the bowls for cereal and their spoon and their glass for orange juice so that I can invest in that time. Honestly, I know that sounds stupid, but I get all three of their water bottles out to fill them up. I get everything that I need for the next morning, cereal boxes, the bowls, everything laid it out so that I can actually enjoy that a little bit more because we all know getting your kids out the door is like hell. It's a window into what hell is going to be like.
Paula Faris (01:00:14):
I try to enjoy that moment and prepare for it a little bit more. This morning I wanted to sleep in. Yesterday was my birthday, and I told my husband, I said, "I want to sleep in this morning." But that is one of the things that I'm really focused on in this season, and also my mental health. I'll be honest, I think all of us have been affected in some way, in some capacity. I'm a very positive person, but even I've been affected by all of the change. I needed to start focusing on my mental health. For me, that looked like a couple of different things, but mainly I needed to work out. So I joined CrossFit, which I never thought I would do. I am not a meathead, okay? I hate working out, but I needed to get out of the house every day.
Paula Faris (01:00:59):
So I dropped my kids off at school and I go to the gym. What it has provided is some structure for me. I wish I could take a before and after shot, not of my physique. I don't really care so much what my physical body looks like. It's how I feel. I wish you could take a before and after of how I feel after I've worked out, and I feel like a new person. For me it's been radical in my emotional health and my mental health and my physical health, and that's what I'm trying to focus on in the season. I can't do everything for every single person. As you said, good leaders invest in themselves. If I'm better ... If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?
Paula Faris (01:01:42):
I'm trying to invest in myself. So it's been the best thing that I have done in this season, has been to do CrossFit, and yeah, working out really hard. It's not a crazy meathead CrossFit gym, and I just love the team atmosphere, the vibe where everybody's cheering one another on. I can't lift a lot, but that's okay. We're all in it together, we're pushing one another and encouraging one another, and I just feel so strong. Not like I can bench press strong, but I just feel strong as a human being after I work out. There's a lot to be said.
Daniel Scrivner (01:02:17):
I agree. I feel like my willpower is higher, I feel like I'm more optimistic, I'm more excited, I'm more energetic, which is funny because you've just expended a bunch of energy and worked out really hard but ...
Paula Faris (01:02:27):
Totally, and I wasn't able to do ... I've never been able to work out in the morning because when I was anchoring GMA weekends, I would get up at 3:00 AM. I'm not getting up at 2:00 AM to work out. I've never been able to work out in the morning, and my schedule might change in the next couple of seasons. But for now, this is what I'm investing in. I'm investing in this season of my life. I am in a season where I'm really trying to focus on being present with my children and being the best version of myself that I can be, realizing that things can change. Like I said, vocation changes throughout our lives. We're called to do different things at different times. We don't have to be one thing. So this chapter, the season of my life, I'm really trying to be strong mentally, physically, and emotionally for my family.
Daniel Scrivner (01:03:09):
Yeah, and take care of yourself, just super important.
Paula Faris (01:03:12):
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I guess you're right. I didn't realize when you said good leaders take care of themselves, I am taking care of myself. I am eating Chick-fil-A just about everyday too. It's another way of justifying my Chick-fil-A habit. That's what I asked for my birthday dinner. My husband said, "What do you want?" I said, "Chick-fil-A."
Daniel Scrivner (01:03:29):
I mean, we love Chick-fil-A. It's hard not to love Chick-Fil-A.
Paula Faris (01:03:34):
It's God's chicken. There's no calories in it.
Daniel Scrivner (01:03:36):
None at all. Not in any of the breading, not in any of the buns.
Paula Faris (01:03:40):
No. I usually get the grilled nugs and a large fry and a large drink.
Daniel Scrivner (01:03:45):
Well, that sounds pretty good. Okay, one more closing question. We ask every guest to share a person or experience that has just really shaped them, and you talked earlier about your father and how you dedicated a chapter to him. Is there a person or experience that you can share that you continue to hold with you and you just hold really near and dear?
Paula Faris (01:04:03):
With my dad, yeah. He was a genius. He was electrical engineer, but a man of insecurities and a man who was trying to find out who he was outside of what he did. For so long, he was chasing success, which looked like one thing, and experimented with transcendental meditation and Valium. He didn't find peace until he found his faith and that's when he was in his 40s, and that's when I entered the picture. The dad that I grew up with, you don't necessarily realize this until you're older. For me, I didn't really truly appreciate it until I saw my dad in the last moments of his life. This is a person who prioritize being home and being present for dinner, and he had plenty of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder. I'm not saying that ... There's nothing wrong with that. Everybody has to make their own decisions.
Paula Faris (01:04:49):
But for him, he knew who he was outside of what he did and he wanted to invest in people and invest in his family and use his gifts and talents, gifts that God gave him, and really focused on the type of person that he was not just the what he did it, just his vocation. I saw him just sowing into people and investing in people, investing in his family, and he unfortunately had a debilitating stroke in the summer of 2018, in August of 2018 and he was paralyzed on one side, he couldn't eat, he couldn't swallow, he couldn't speak, he couldn't even drink water. My dad, from August to February, just withered away. He lost 60 pounds, and by the time he died, it was really tough to see him suffer like that. But he was surrounded by friends and family every day. I think that was just a testament to the life that he lived.
Paula Faris (01:05:48):
But the facilities that he was in and being cared for, many of the occupants would get one visitor a month. My dad had people on a daily basis visiting him. The week before he died, it was a Saturday, and he slipped into a coma that night and then he died the day after Valentine's Day. That day, a bunch of my cousins were in the room and the family, we are all there, just holding watch with him. Remember, he couldn't speak, he could not. You could actually understand what he was saying when he was angry, because it tapped into a different part of his brain, which is really interesting and fascinating. But this particular day, this is the very last conversation that I had with my dad, and this is what I'll always take away from who my dad was.
Paula Faris (01:06:36):
He was crying that day, and he was crying routinely because he was in so much pain because his body was shutting down. His body was atrophied. He lost 60 pounds within a matter of August to February. I said, "Daddy, are you crying because you're sad?" He shook his head no, and I said, "Dad, are you crying because you're in pain?" He shook his head no. I said, "Are you crying because you're surrounded by love and memories and the people in this room?" He shook his head yes, and I said, "That's the type of life that I want to live. That's the legacy of my father. That's the type of life I want to live for my family and my friends." It just put everything in perspective, and that's the very last conversation that I had with my dad.
Daniel Scrivner (01:07:18):
It's a beautiful last moment.
Paula Faris (01:07:19):
Yeah. He slipped into a coma that night, and passed away the day after Valentine's Day. His gravestone says nothing about what he did. It was the type of person he was. I just thank my dad for that gift of perspective and realizing what's consequential and what's not consequential, and what's inconsequential rather. It's the type of life I want to live.
Daniel Scrivner (01:07:39):
Thank you so much for sharing that story. It's beautiful.
Paula Faris (01:07:45):
Yeah. Thank you. That's why I dedicated my book to my father. He was a flawed man like we all are, but he really settled into the type of person he wanted to be, and when death came calling, he had no regrets. He was overwhelmed by the type of life that he lived. That's the type of life that I want to live and the type of life that I want to encourage other people.
Daniel Scrivner (01:08:05):
That's a beautiful note to end on. Thank you so much, Paula. This has been an incredible conversation.
Paula Faris (01:08:10):
Thank you, Daniel. Do I have to send a gaming headset back because my son's going to be disappointed? Yeah.
Daniel Scrivner (01:08:14):
You can maybe give that to your son. We can talk about it. He would appreciate it, clearly.
Paula Faris (01:08:24):
Thank you, Daniel. I appreciate it.
On Outliers, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge — in business, investing, science, and so much more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today. Listen to past episodes for free, be the first to hear about new episodes, and subscribe to Outliers on your favorite podcast platform.
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