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Rebecca Zung: “Stop trying to make not your people your people”

“Stop trying to make not your people your people” — not sure where I heard this first but this is just seriously one of the best pieces of advice ever. Some people just won’t like you, won’t get you, or don’t think what you wanted them to think about you. It’s fine. Wish them well and move […]

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“Stop trying to make not your people your people” — not sure where I heard this first but this is just seriously one of the best pieces of advice ever. Some people just won’t like you, won’t get you, or don’t think what you wanted them to think about you. It’s fine. Wish them well and move on. They aren’t your people. Lots of other people are your people. Just focus on them. I take this advice pretty much every single day.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Zung.

Rebecca Zung is one of the Top 1% of attorneys in the nation, having been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Lawyer in America”, as “Legal Elite” by Trend Magazine, and recognized by her peers and the judiciary as AV preeminent rated in family law, the highest possible rating for an attorney by Martindale Hubbell. She is the author of the bestselling books, Negotiate Like You M.A.T.T.E.R.: The Sure Fire Method to Step Up and Win (foreword by Robert Shapiro) and Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide for Achieving Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Freedom, and is a sought after major media contributor. Her perspectives are in high demand by television and print outlets, as she has been featured in or on Extra, Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Time, Dr. Drew, NPR Talk Radio, Good Day New York and CBS Los Angeles among others. Now, based in Los Angeles, she is continuing to serve through her very popular YouTube channel, media appearances, podcast, articles and on-demand programs such as S.L.A.Y. Your Negotiation™ with a Narcissist and Breaking Free™ Divorce Masterclasses.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was married at 19 the first time and had 3 children by the time I was 23. At 29, I found myself divorced and was teaching elementary school in inner city Ft. Lauderdale. As a divorced single mom, I was desperate for a way to feed my kids and put a decent roof over their heads. The only advanced degree program that didn’t require lots of pre-requisites was law school. Luckily, University of Miami had a night school at that time, so I applied and got in. My ex husband watched the kids while I went to school at night. I taught during the day, went and got my kids, helped them with homework, took them to sports and dance, fed them dinner then went to school at night from 7 -10 pm and studied until 2 AM. Then up at 6 AM to do it all again.

I then got a job straight out of law school with a top divorce attorney. I got remarried and had another child too. Then I started my own firm and wrote a bestselling divorce book, which allowed me to do a lot of press. I learned how to negotiate at a mastery level because my entire divorce practice was all high net worth, high conflict cases. In 2019, I wrote a second bestselling book on negotiation. By learning about narcissism, I was able to apply my knowledge of negotiation to narcissists.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I am the only attorney on the planet right now who is giving people real advice on how to negotiate and shift the power dynamic with narcissists. I started discussing this on YouTube early in 2020 and my channel went from zero subscribers to now closing in on 100,000 and nearly 5 million views. My SLAY program is changing lives every day. SLAY stands for S- Strategy; L — Leverage; A — Anticipate; Y- You.

1 in 10. That’s how many people are estimated to be afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder or just simply lack a conscience. 3.4 billion people. That’s how many people are estimated to be victims of narcissists. There is a pandemic of narcissism and no-one is immune. While there are many who are talking about defining narcissists, or what causes narcissism, I give step by step guidance by offering a plan to shift the dynamic of power in dealing with them. It’s time to stop being surprised by narcissists’ behavior and get on the offensive. It’s a power switch. We ALL have to know how to effectively deal with narcissists in everyday life and get what you want.

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?

I am not sure this was a mistake but it was definitely funny. I had taken the bar exam but didn’t have my results yet. My boss, the managing partner of the firm, had asked me to draft a marital settlement agreement, which I had done and he had heavily edited. Then the client was coming in to sign it. My boss said that he would be unavailable but that I could meet with the client, a dentist, and have him sign it. The client signed in front of the paralegal, then she left the room. Thus, the only person with any real knowledge of the process had just left the room. Then, to my horror, the client asked a seemingly innocuous, but to me, deadly question which was “So what happens from here?” My gut dropped out of me. I wanted to say “I have no idea buddy — your guess is as good as mine! I’ve got nothing for you!” But I did not say that. Using large hand gestures for effect so that it would seem I knew what I was doing, I said “Well, um, we will put it all together…. John will review it one more time…. And um…we’ll give you a call!” Then I quickly ushered him out before he could ask any more questions! I remember thinking, wow, 4 years of college, and 3 years of law school, and I knew nothing about the actual practice of law. I often think of that moment because I try to remember to give myself credit on how far I have come since that moment.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My father was my first mentor. He had come from China at 15 and was immediately accepted into Bronx High School of Science, then went on to Columbia Undergraduate and Medical School. He was very loving but also had very high standards for me. My mother, who is German, was very successful in business and was one of the first female real estate brokers in the state of VA. Being Chinese and German, I often joke that I have no fun genes at all. It’s all work hard, be very efficient etc. All kidding aside, my parents taught me the value of hard work, integrity and being the best I can be at whatever I am doing.

My first bosses in the law were also great mentors in a lot of ways. The male managing partner taught me a lot about how to run a law firm and grow a practice. The female partner was a master at marketing. I used to call her the Madonna of family law. She actually gave me a book on my very first day at the law firm called “Women Rainmakers”. I learned so much about how to create, grow and maintain a successful practice.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“People will think what you tell them to think” — my business coach, Kelly Townsend, was working with me while I was setting up my own law practice. I was worried because I had practiced law, then spent a couple of years as a financial advisor (had my Series 7 and 66) and was going back to law. I thought everyone would think I was a flake going back and forth. She said “people will think what you tell them to think” — and then said “you are going to tell them to think that you are the only family law attorney in town that has a financial background, so you are more qualified than everyone else.” So I marketed myself that way and guess what — many people who hired me said that they were hiring me because I was the only attorney in town that had a financial background so they knew I could handle their case better! Go figure!

“Whatever you say, say it with authority and people will believe you” — my dad used to say this all time. Now I use that when I teach about negotiation. I also use this as an example of how narcissists are able to use their voodoo and cast spells on people.

“Stop trying to make not your people your people” — not sure where I heard this first but this is just seriously one of the best pieces of advice ever. Some people just won’t like you, won’t get you, or don’t think what you wanted them to think about you. It’s fine. Wish them well and move on. They aren’t your people. Lots of other people are your people. Just focus on them. I take this advice pretty much every single day.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I want to create SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist for lots of different sectors –

SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist in Business

SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist in Divorce

SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist in Family Relationships

SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist for Teens

Etc

I also want to create a program for lawyers and a network for lawyers who are certified in my SLAY methodology.

I also want to create a non-profit for people to get access to funds for legal representation against narcissists.

I’m also planning a TED talk, a documentary and so much more!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women are often not taken seriously especially in business. There really still is a glass ceiling at the very top of the food chain. Even women lawyers are only paid $.70 cents on every male dollars. It’s time we all learn to “negotiate our best lives” (the name of my podcast ☺)

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I read Marianne Williamson’s “A Women’s Worth” when I was about 30. It was so impactful for me — especially the quote that says something like when others are jealous of you or your accomplishments, just turn away and smile and say to yourself “I haven’t even started yet”

I also loved her quote in “A Return to Love” about “our greatest fear” isn’t that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure….

You are a person of great 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That you can create that power switch and shift the dynamic with anyone.

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

That would be the Marianne Williamson quote. I love it because it speaks to how the universe is abundant. We all have access to create the life we want. It is quantum law. We are all stars that can shine. My shine has nothing to do with anyone else’s shine except that if we all shine, we have a gorgeous universe filled with incredible light.

Here’s the full quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.youtube.com/rebeccazung
https://www.instagram.com/rebeccazung
https://www.facebook.com/rebeccazung

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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