Sarah K. Ramsey, creative solution specialist and relationship expert, helps people unravel complicated situations so they can move forward faster in both business and life. People make over 35,000 decisions a day, yet decision-making and problem-solving is not a skill that we are taught in school. Through solution-based thinking, Sarah is bringing life-changing clarity to help people find answers for problems and decisions that on the surface seem impenetrable.
As the host of the globally-acclaimed podcast, Toxic Person Proof, and best-selling author of Toxic Person Proof: Clear the Confusion and Learn to Trust Yourself, Sarah is no stranger to unraveling complex issues and she provides a sense of power and direction to her clients, enabling them to create positive momentum both personally and professionally.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Sarah K. Ramsey: My clients have nicknamed me The Success Fairy. I began a life coaching business to help people design lives they were excited about living after a toxic person encounter, but quickly noticed how often my clients were getting raises and promotions. I asked my clients what the feedback was from their managers and they all agreed that my clients stood out at work because I taught them how to be high-performing problem solvers. When you can make decisions with ease and untangle confusing conversations to give people clarity, then it’s easy to stand out.
I see a lot of people stuck in what I call problem stacking. When Einstein said “Watch out for negative people, they have a problem for every solution.” he was talking about problem stackers. According to Harvard Business Review employees spend 10-20 hours a month complaining about their bosses. This is a huge loss of profit and productivity! Yet, leaders are told to be good listeners rather than learning how to lead complainers into solutions. When people can unravel complaining and confusion to get to results they become standouts in the work place. Their personal lives improve significantly too!
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Sarah K. Ramsey: Personally I have learned to lean into humor. The entire world has had a traumatic experience and the world is craving a light at the end of the tunnel. I have always had a love for humor, but was nervous to use it in marketing, because I was afraid it would appear unprofessional. However, when I see the reviews of my first book and get feedback on my second book I know that people appreciate a funny story to teach a crucial concept. I’m also leaning into funny social media posts etc.
It’s harder and harder to get people’s attention so it’s important to use whatever tools we have at our disposal, even if it’s a little out of our comfort zone! If I have to dance on TikTok or sing in front of a green screen of the Beatles, to get me message across, then I’m going to do it. I have to take my business where people are looking, not just lean harder into what I’m already comfortable with.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Sarah K. Ramsey: Remember businesses have seasons. Personally the pandemic was a season of harvest for me and I had a great year. Now people are getting nervous about finances it is a different season in my business. I am still doing great, but it wasn’t like harvest season where I felt as if I had built a money machine! I’m also putting time into launching my new book Problem Solved:
Simple Habits For Complex Decisions which has taken my attention away from income generating activity. And, that is ok! There are seasons of Winter and seasons of Spring. Store up during the harvest seasons to get you through the Winter and remember that Winter will not last forever! Think long term not just what is happening this quarter. O
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I was already in the online space so that set me up for success during Covid. I did start my podcast Toxic Person Proof during Covid because I knew people would have a need for connection and a podcast could be an online friend. Personally I am an off the charts extrovert and so I was freaking out when I could not meet new people and have interesting conversations.
The Toxic Person Proof podcast now ranks as a top 2% globally acclaimed podcast. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! But, it was really a process of self- evaluation. What did I have that my customer needed? Where did we align? How can I reach them where they are right now? For you then answer might not be a podcast, but the right answer is always to use your strengths to meet your customers needs.
I also think we have to move faster than before. People are more forgiving of imperfection, but if you wait too long you lose momentum. I can’t imagine struggling with perfectionism right now. We just don’t have time for it as leaders. People need what we have now. Jump out of the plane and build your parachute. You can do it! And, if you don’t then someone else will.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I wish I had built my TikTok following during the pandemic. Gary V is a social media strategist I follow and he did tell me to start TikTok, but I just looked in horror at so many of the early videos and did not want to “waste my time.” This was a huge mistake.
It seemed like such a platform for teens, but now it is the fasting growing social media platform. In the online space you have to be a little bit of everywhere and I had so much success with Facebook that I did not build my TikTok and Instagram as much as I should have. I am building both now!
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I think we are online for good. I do not see us going back to things that are less convenient as we are all trying to save time. I also love that we can connect to the best in the word rather than just connecting to the people closest to us. It is normal for me to talk to people from multiple countries in a day. I love it! I see that being more normal for each of us in 2022
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I did a masters thesis on screen time and children long before mainstream media was concerned about screens and mental health. I really try to watch my screen time, but I am still in front of a screen least 6 hours per day.
During Covid I committed to doing client calls by phone and I walked around the neighborhood during these calls. Both my clients and I got exercise and sunshine and it prevented depression. I’m also a much better listener when I am on the phone rather the zoom. It is easy to get distracted by my hair sticking up or thinking about my lighting.
I want to be fully present and that is easier for me by phone. I also encourage my clients to walk and talk as well. It’s so bad for our health to sit in front a screen each day!
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I keep a running note of stories to use as teaching points in the notes feature on my phone. This is a great place to bring humor into your communication. If a neighbor tells a story about a bee flying up his pants in elementary school, then I write it down. If we are sitting at family dinner and someone tells the story of their mom saving a deer from drowning and putting it in the front seat of the car to take home, I write it down.
If someone says they have a half sister names Kiki Tutu Feathers I write it down. I never know what stories will be used to teach what points, but I do know that people love to laugh. If I can bring a funny story into a serious teaching point, then it will make that teaching point much easier to remember.
I also know how stressful it is to feel the pressure of coming up with a story if you don’t have a list to pull from. It’s much easier to have a running list and then figure out what story is the best for communicating your points. Post-Covid research is showing that nostalgic communication is what people are gravitating to. You notice most of my stories are from childhood or the past. The past certainly had problems, but it’s nice to think about a world where we had never heard of Covid. Pull stories from that world to connect with others in 2022.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Sarah K. Ramsey: The biggest challenge right now is a lack of solution based thinking. We make 35,000 decisions a day and no one teaches classes on how to make decisions. There is also no language around how to walk someone through a decision. We say abstract things like “trust your gut,” but what we really need is a framework for making decisions and solving problems. With the rise of information around emotional intelligence, we are better at talking about our problems, but we are not necessarily better at solving them. This means people are stuck in complaining!
Good leaders often tell me they are good listeners, but great leaders understand how to equip others into making a great decision. Great leaders know how to speak the language of confusion and turn it into clarity. I think not having a language around this is why so many people are experiencing burn out and calling their work place toxic. Leaders need to develop cultures where solution based thinking is the norm and complaining is the exception rather than vice versa. I’m excited about my new book Problem Solved: Simple Habits For Complex Decisions which teaches people how to do translate confusion into clarity.
According to research from Stanford University, complaining for 30 minutes a day shrinks your brain. Listening to people complain for 30 minutes a day also shrinks your brain. According to research from Harvard 70 % of executives are considering leaving their job due to burnout. According to MIT people are leaving their workplaces because they are calling their work place toxic during the Great Resignation.
The research is clear that things are not working, but managers are scrambling to figure out how to fix it. I think developing an easy to use language to cut the complaining and creating cultures where solution based thinking is the new norm is the answer leaders are looking for. A framework for decisions, a language template around solving problems will reduce stress, save time, prevent burnout, and create healthier work environments!
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Sarah K. Ramsey: I am always up for learning more about online marketing, but I am obsessed with how things will change with Meta. Will people stop getting married because a virtual wife is easier? Will our children have robots in their home to babysit our grandchildren? What will less and less human interaction do to our mental and emotional health? I think life will look a lot differently in 20 years and our businesses will obviously have to adapt.
This goes back to the point I made earlier about jumping out of the plane and building your parachute from there. Things are moving quickly and the main thing we will all need is the ability to adapt.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Sarah K. Ramsey: There is an entire chapter on this in my newest book Problem Solved. My experience in toxic relationship work brings such a unique perspective to this conversation. Toxic people never think the problem is them and yet I was responsible for equipping my clients with ways to get what they want even if the person in power doesn’t change. These strategies are exactly why these clients started standing out in the work place. I didn’t just teach them about toxic people, I taught them how to solve problems around the toxic person who refused to look at themselves. Think of it as a degree in radical responsibility with an emphasis in action.
I taught them to ask “What problem am I trying to solve? Is this my problem so solve or someone else’s problem to solve? Does this problem have a solution or am I fighting a gravity problem?” Then we learn to focus all the energy on problems that were my client’s problems to solve. There are certain things we have to accept and certain problems we have to action. We better be able to recognize the differences between the two if we want to move forward.
This is certainly applicable in the work place. Nothing ever changes without change. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you always do what you have always done, then you will always end up in the same place. You get the idea. Sitting around and hoping your boss changes is a terrible strategy. Finding ways you can change things within your control is a great strategy.
I think most people can avoid a lot of trouble if they learn a language around problem solving before they jump ship. It does not make sense to find a new work place that others consider toxic. If this many people are leaving their jobs, then people are just going to be switching jobs! If you don’t have a culture of solution based thinking, then you are the boss they don’t want to work for. If you can’t translate confusion to clarity, then you are the boss they don’t want to work for. Change begins with you!
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Sarah K. Ramsey: I would want to change what people are afraid of. Our brains are designed to keep us safe rather than making us happy. Our brain’s default is being afraid of what will happen if we change something. Most of us should be afraid of what happens if we don’t change something! In my work I try to help people think this way, but it would be a lot easier with a magic wand!
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Sarah K. Ramsey: When people hear my framework for decision making they say “Oh. It is really that easy it?’ I know life can be a thousand times easier if you learn to turn your own attention on the problems that are yours to solve and stop problem stacking.
And, it is actually easier than the ways people are currently thinking. Easier decisions translate into.an easier life. Less complaining is better for your brain. Problem stacking leads to burnout. Being able to translate other people’s confusion into clarity is true leadership. Success to me is showing people that life really can be easier.
Solving your problems means less problems and that is something everyone wants. Excited to see how Problem Solved: Simple Habits For Complex Decisions will help make life a whole lot easier.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Sarah K. Ramsey for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Sarah K. Ramsey or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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