Community//

Dr. Michelle Rozen: “If I could do it- so can you”

My main empowering message is this: it is never going to be the right time. Take the first step. Take control. You make 35,000 on average every single day and those decisions shape your life. I want you to get in the driver seat of your life, work and courage and make winning decisions that […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

My main empowering message is this: it is never going to be the right time. Take the first step. Take control. You make 35,000 on average every single day and those decisions shape your life. I want you to get in the driver seat of your life, work and courage and make winning decisions that will get you to the life that you want and deserve. If I could do it- so can you.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Michelle Rozen, PhD a game-changing, revenue- building, performance-boosting change expert, keynote speaker, and highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is an author, a Huffington Post contributor, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN. Dr. Michelle’s rare blend of audience engagement, killer take-away strategies, and instant connection with the audience have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. Her latest work is around “2-Second Decisions”, helping people to master time management and power through decision making in turbulent times. Dr. Michelle consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

One of my favorite memories of growing up has to do with my dad. I specifically remember one day, walking back home with him after a school celebration in second grade. It was one of those celebrations where kids sing and parent tear up and get emotional with excitement. Only problem is, I can’t hold a tune for the life of me, and this was when I found out. “Dad” I said sadly on the way home ‘I think I was really singing off tune’. My dad looked at me. At that moment, as a parent, he could have easily lied to me. He could have told me that I sang beautifully and what am I even talking about. He could have also chosen to be brutally honest and tell me that yes, singing is not my thing and next time I really shouldn’t sing so loudly. You know, not to ruin it or the rest of the kids if you know what I mean. But he made a different choice. A very interesting one. He looked at me and said ‘you know, Michelle, even if you sang off tine, I think you did it quite beautifully’. He chose not to lie and not to crush. He chose to tell me that he loves me despite my imperfections.

What came out of this, in my adulthood, is a woman that is very quick to forgive herself for her mess ups and shortcomings. The biggest gift we can give our kids is to teach them to love and forgive themselves, in spite of their shortcomings and mess ups. That is what builds resilient, strong people, and that should be our goal as parents and as leaders.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

“It all started on a rainy, windy day, on October 11, 2008. I was 37 years old and I felt that my life sucked. Back then, I’d meet my good friend at Starbucks at 7am every Saturday morning before our kids woke up. One day, I told her how much I hated my job and routine. She looked at me and said, ‘Then change it. Go to school and change your path.”

“I wish I could,” I told her while holding back the tears. “My kids are so young, and they need me. Adam is in a startup and never home. One day, when the time is right, I’ll do exactly that.”

She gave me a sharp look and then told me something that changed my life.

“Michelle,” she said, “you just don’t get it, do you? Your kids will always need you and Adam will always be in a startup. Go and sign up for classes this week, and tell me next Saturday that you’ve done it.”

I looked at her puzzled. That never crossed my mind. I never thought of it that way.

SO, I REGISTERED. I COMMITTED TO CHANGE

Not many people start their master’s with a five-year-old toddler, one-year-old infant, full-time job, and spouse who constantly travels. The new 3am to 6am shift for studying was brutal, but my life was suddenly full. I was being challenged. I was finding fulfillment. I was going somewhere.

Then, in 2008, the economy nosedived. My husband’s startup shut down. Being challenged moved closer to being broken. I told my husband that I thought the most sensible thing for me to do was to take a break.

“I’ll go back to school later,” I told him. “When things get better and the time is right.”

He looked at me and said two things that I’ll thank him for every day for the rest of my life. “Who deserves a PhD more than you?” Then, he said, “Michelle, if you leave now, you won’t go back. Stay with the program no matter what and finish your degree.” So, I stayed.

A few semesters in, I found myself struggling with bills, kids, work, and school. The juggle impacted my coursework, and I even received a warning letter from the university. It said I was on probation unless I repeated a class. I literally sat and cried.

That night, I cried myself to sleep. I was tired and worn out and felt that I had no wins under my belt. Everything seemed to work against me. Perhaps I was wrong with my choice to go back to school. And a PhD? For a full-time working mom of three little ones with a husband who is never home? What was I thinking?

Maybe I should have thought this through. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I am just aiming too high.

That night I cried myself to sleep.

The next day was my daughter’s 10th birthday party. I had it all planned beautifully, with the kids and the balloons and the beautiful cake and all the fun activities. I was smiling on the outside but my heart was heavy. What am I to do? Should I stay at school, or should I leave? I had a big paper that had to be submitted within a week. I am chanting to myself: should I stay or should I go? Should I stay in school? Or leave? Should I even write the paper at all? Just to think of all the spare time I’ll have if I just won’t have to do it…

And then the cake came and I hear the kids chanting:

Are you 1

Are you 2

Are you 3

Are you 4

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I remembered a tool that I learned in one of my classes. We’ve learned a tool of scaling for people who suffered from depression. It was called scaling questions; it was a part of Solution Focused Brief Therapy and the goal of the tool was help people scale how they feel.

Are you 5

Are you 6

And I think to myself: what if I use this to decide, right now, right here- what on earth am I going to do? What if I use this tool to figure my decision out?

Are you 7

Are you 8

Are you 9

My head is chanting: Do I stay or do I go?

The kids were chanting:

Ae you 10

And then they yelled-

STOP

And then it hit me.

It’s a 10. It’s a 10 for me. How much do I really want to leave? 0. I just kind of think it’s something people expect me to do but it’s not what I really want! How much do I want this? 10! I want this a 10.

I got up. I gave Abby the biggest birthday hug and felt so relieved. So happy.

Gosh. Now I have to write this paper.

WHO CARES?

I know what I want.

I know my 10.

I know what matters the most to me.

Fighting tooth and nail I got my PhD. The day I got it was one of the happiest days of my life. Not that I liked the ceremony, I hate ceremonies (also, didn’t really eat that morning and forgot my banana in the car so I spent the entire ceremony thinking of that banana- full disclosure). But what I really felt good about that day was that I stuck with what mattered to me the most. This wasn’t about pleasing anyone. This wasn’t about doing what other people expected of me. This was about following my “10” through and through. And it felt whole, and it felt right.

That decision I made at that birthday party is a decision that changed my life. It changed my life not only because I took a decision that changed the course of my career and ultimately my life, but also because it gave me a tool to work with when it comes to making decisions that I found myself using in my daily life more and more. And the more I used it, the more successful, focused and high achieving I became.

I used it for prioritizing and time management and found myself a lot more confident and in control of my time, both for work and for rest.

I used it for making business decisions for myself.

I used it for managing my day to day

I used it extensively with leaders throughout the globe that I was working with. I found that leaders used it in team meetings for team decisions, and for their own decisions that they had to make.

Who to hire?

Who to fire?

How to price

Outsource or in-house

Instead of being in doubt, indecisive or taking the wrong turn if life, in a business, as a leader or within your family, I started getting out of my own head and coming up with a number for every decision in my life. I was amazed at the impact it had on leaders I have worked with. I was amazed at the power it had over my own life. I learned to be bold. I learned to be decisive. I learned to take action. And I witnessed how successful and powerful it made others. Change was no longer just in sight. Change was happening.

I believe in the power of the human mind to do amazing things when we are given the tools and the freedom to make the decisions that shape our lives. I believe in getting in the driver seat of our life, work and future. I wrote this book in order to share all of that with you.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

See above ☺

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is only funny in retrospect considering how much I move on stage these days but at the time it was not that funny at all. My first speaking engagement was in Canada at a conference for elementary school teachers. When I got to the conference, the organizer pointed at a podium and said: ‘Michelle, I just need you to stand there’. I was so confused. How can I be engaging if I just stand behind the podium the whole time? Hesitant, I asked him: ‘Are you sure? I would rather move around and interact with people”. The guy just looked at me impatiently and said: “Michelle, please. I just need you to stand there, behind the podium and please don’t move form there, that’s it”. Being that this was the first time I spoke to a large audience; I had no experience to understand that just standing behind a podium and not moving literally ruins a talk. I followed his request and stayed behind the podium the whole time. Somehow, I got through the talk and did what he asked but this is what I had learned: communicate expectations ahead of time, stand your ground, and take the lead. I never, ever, just stood behind a podium again.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I owe so much of my success to my husband and business partner, Adam. I am so grateful to him. Adam has this thing about him where if I set a goal for myself or want something, he commits to it himself. When I came and said that I want to go back to school, this guy, who was always in trouble with me for not helping enough around the house, took it upon himself to stay with the kids and run the house while he was working full time so that I can go to classes. When he couldn’t do it, he made sure we hired help. When I wanted to quit school because the economy collapsed and he lost his start up and we had no money, he pushed me to stay. In my hardest moments. He encouraged me to push forward.

Two years ago, he joined the business as my business partner and manages the marketing and branding. When we started working together, after already being married for 20 years, it is a miracle that we even stayed married. It was so challenging and we didn’t get along at all. Now, we work together in complete harmony. We understand each other completely and I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Adam’s relentless work and belief in me.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Failure means nothing. It is what you do when you fail that makes all the difference. I do not believe in people that don’t fail. I believe in being a successful warrior. You fail, and you hurt, and you get up and you fight for where you think you belong. This industry is made of successful warriors. We are all afraid of failing, but we all do it anyway. That’s what being a successful warrior is all about.

What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

As people, we have a moral responsibility to lift others. This is something that everyone should be doing with everyone around them, today more than ever. People in the speaking industry have more impact on more people. It’s just a wider scope of people that hear you and are impacted by you. Getting the mic, getting that impact is an opportunity that comes with a huge moral responsibility. If you got the mic and you were mediocre- you’ve wasted the mic. You’ve wasted the opportunity. I am here to fully respect and max out the opportunity that I am getting.

My main empowering message is this: it is never going to be the right time. Take the first step. Take control. You make 35,000 on average every single day and those decisions shape your life. I want you to get in the driver seat of your life, work and courage and make winning decisions that will get you to the life that you want and deserve. If I could do it- so can you.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

Five tips for being a powerful and effective speaker:

  1. Tell stories, but make sure there is a punch with a moral- people love stories that have a powerful bottom line lesson to them, and I usually like to change the tone from entertaining while telling the story to a lot more dramatic when we get to the moral part. It creates a more powerful effect.
  2. Be vulnerable. I always add a bad pic of myself and laugh at my own expense. You have to do it tastefully, but it makes you a lot more relatable
  3. Simplify everything that is complex- people do not have the patience for complex theories. The secret is in taking complex concepts and making sure that you present them in the simplest and most easy to understand way,
  4. Make your actionable takeaways very memorable. If people do not easily remember your actionable takeaways, they did not learn a thing.
  5. Do not pile up information. Sometimes speakers want to bring a lot of value but pile up too much. There is just so much that people can take in. Chose the most important tools or messages.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

In every audience, and usually on the front line. You will see very friendly faces. I can read the facial expressions of the people who sit in the front lines all the time. I speak to everyone, but those facial expressions are something that I find very encouraging. This will give you the push to keep going. You never talk to nothing. You talk to people, and remember that they are on your side.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Video graph everything- and make sure that its top quality. The first talks I gave were free. Two of them I didn’t video graph and 2 of them were poor sound quality and I couldn’t use them. The rule of thumb is that what wasn’t video graphed as if did not happen. It’s a must.
  2. Dress for stage- on stage everything is a bit exaggerated. Don’t wear your regular work clothes. It would be boring and, in this industry — boring is the worst. I did that once, I wore my brown work suit, and my own father called me and asked: Michelle, what were you thinking??
  3. Professional hair and makeup are must. I don’t know about the guys but for women- it is the last thing that you want to leave up to chance. You may be great at doing your own makeup but camera makeup requires a professional makeup artist. I once thought that I will be doing my own makeup until I saw the size of the stage in the sound check the night before. Never again.
  4. If anything happens, and things happen, that you didn’t plan- be cool and either ignore it or refer to it with humor. I’ve had mics that stopped working or fell, slides that didn’t work- I still made it work and I made it work. The show must go on.
  5. If you are sick, stay home. But for anything else- a bad day, you lost your voice, no matter what it is- you’ll pull through. You’ll never believe what adrenaline can do. 5 min after getting off the stage you may feel miserable again, but have no fear, on stage you’ll be a rock stat.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I have a new book coming out at the end of this month! It is called 2 Second Decisions- Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Work, Life and Courage with Everyday Winning Choices. I cannot wait! It is about making winning decisions fast. This is a system that I have been using for myself and for my clients for years and now, with all the pain I am seeing through Covid19, I have decided to write it down in this book and make it available to you as well!

I am also launching Success Academy at the end of this month- online training courses for individuals and companies on time management, goal setting, decision making and all the wonderful tools that will get you the success that you are looking for in 2021! I cannot wait to share it with you!

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I am very big on setting boundaries and have taught myself to say NO without feeling bad about it. Here are my three rules for avoiding interruptions during the pandemic as my kids are working from home and I am at the verge of going nuts because I am constantly, literally constantly, interrupted:

  1. If I went to the kitchen to get coffee, that does not mean that I am available. I am working. I am not here. Move away. Let me work.
  2. I do not want to see any cute cat movies during work hours. Do not show me any cute cat movie before 6:00pm.
  3. I rate within 2 seconds 0–10 how important something is right now. Cute cate movies are at 0 (sorry!) but if you got hurt it’s a 10. Sometimes you get so bombarded with interruptions that you become reactive. It is important to remain active and prioritize quickly in order to guard your time, focus and energy- your three most important resources.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It is never going to be the right time. Take the first step”

It all started on a rainy, windy day, on October 11, 2008. I was 37 years old and I felt that my life sucked. Back then, I’d meet my good friend at Starbucks at 7am every Saturday morning before our kids woke up. One day, I told her how much I hated my job and routine. She looked at me and said, “Then change it. Go to school and change your path.”

“I wish I could,” I told her while holding back the tears. “My kids are so young, and they need me. Adam is in a startup and never home. One day, when the time is right, I’ll do exactly that.”

She gave me a sharp look and then told me something that changed my life.

“Michelle,” she said, “you just don’t get it, do you? Your kids will always need you and Adam will always be in a startup. Go and sign up for classes this week, and tell me next Saturday that you’ve done it.”

I looked at her puzzled. That never crossed my mind. I never thought of it that way.

SO, I REGISTERED. I COMMITTED TO CHANGE

It never occurred to me until that moment that I was waiting for something that was never going to happen. There is no such thing as ‘the right time’. So, whatever your heart tells you to do- do now.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I have my heart on working with teenagers and kids from less privileged communities. I feel that many of these kids lack role models and inspiration and their dreams are limited simply because they have not seen any adults that can demonstrate to them what they can possibly become.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Oprah, of course. Because she is living a life that is beyond any circumstances and filled with purpose. She is a living proof that anything is possible no matter what your circumstances are. I don’t know about the lunch though. I don’t think I’d be able to chew!

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleRozen

Instagram: @DrMichelleRozen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichellerozen/

Twitter: @MichelleRozen

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Dr. Michelle Rozen: “Love and accept yourself”

    by Fotis Georgiadis
    Community//

    “Have Clear Goals”, Dr. Michelle Rozen and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

    by Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
    Community//

    Dr. Michelle Rozen: “The Daily List Hack”

    by Candice Georgiadis
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.