Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | Email | | More
Are there uncertainties in your work? Does the worst-case scenario leave you feeling paralyzed from taking action? How can you redirect the unknown into creative solutions?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about turning uncertainty into an advantage with Ursula Eysin.
Podcast Sponsor: Apply!
Whether you’re starting a solo practice, thriving in solo practice, getting a group going, or thriving in a group! Or launching a big idea, or thriving with your big idea, we have a consultant that can help you.
With our team, we continue to grow to have consultants that will help you at every single phase of practice.
If you want to apply to have a 30-minute pre-consulting call with me, I would love to chat through where you’re at.
The goal is to just hear where you at, where you’re headed, and where you want to change things, and then to say, “Here’s where I’d spend my time and money if I were in your situation!”
We have enough people applying at every phase of practice, so we don’t need to squeeze you into anything. In fact, we would hate that.
We would rather say, “Here’s where we can join you and offer some consulting to help you reach your goals faster”.
So, apply over at practiceofthepractice.com/apply if you want some help with one-on-one consulting today.
Meet Ursula Eysin
Ursula Eysin is a Vienna-based Creative Strategist and Founder of Red Swan that helps individuals, companies, and other organizations to turn uncertainty into a competitive advantage through the future scenario thinking method. Master in Sinology, Political Science, Economy, and Advanced Studies in Public Relations, Ursula uses her knowledge to share information on future scenarios, technology, business, and the human factor and helps her clients become wildly successful by diving deep into their subconscious minds.
Visit Red Swan and connect with Ursula on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
In This Podcast
- Use scenario-thinking in your practice
- Get help from the future
- Find your values
- Don’t be afraid of the worst-case scenario
- Ursula’s advice to private practitioners
Use scenario-thinking in your practice
You can use scenario thinking as a tool to shift uncertainty into an advantage within your private practice.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- What is one of your big, ultimate goals? At what place do you want to find yourself?
- What are your motivations?
- How do external factors influence these possibilities?
We sought out the things you cannot influence anymore. I think, especially in times like these, you should not exhaust yourself by concentrating on things you cannot change.
- Which aspects can you influence? What can you change?
- What are your core principles and values?
Get help from the future
Scenario thinking works best when you work with the future. Imagine your best-case (while realistic) scenario five to ten years ahead. What does it look like? How did you get here?
When you have these different scenarios, you do something like a method actor. You imagine the future, even 10 to 20 years ahead, it’s not one year ahead … why? Because human creativity works best when you have obstacles in the now and then you give [yourself] the chance to think really far ahead … it’s about creating the future.
Creative future thinking opens the creative box which then opens the realm of opportunities.
Then, think about what you can actually do. What is a concrete step – or steps – that you can take, no matter how small, to start to bring this vision to fruition?
All these other steps are more [of] an awareness exercise … but then you take … inspired and creative action steps because awareness alone is not enough.
Find your values
Your values, your principles, and your core motivations are critical to figuring out who you are, what your passions are, and what you want to do with them in the world.
Commit to spending time alone, with a consultant, or with a mentor to figure out what truly matters to you, and how you want to embody that through centering it in your business.
Ask yourself these three scenario questions:
1 – If you could look into the future of your topic, what would you like to know?
2 – If this topic developed according to your wishes, optimistically but realistically, what would it look like?
3 – If things were to go south, what would you be worried about?
Don’t be afraid of the worst-case scenario
Work with the worst-case scenario, and go through it. Which aspects of it are scary or uncomfortable? Can you think of at least one solution per imagined problem?
When you are addressing the worst-case scenario:
- Go through your principles and values to remind yourself of your driving forces
- Frame your challenge and set out the scope of the problem
- Add in the future; where would your business go to?
- Think of where you can find your greatest leaders to work with
Ursula’s advice to private practitioners
Start turning uncertainty into an advantage right now. We are faced with uncertainty all the time, and it can cause anxiety, but it is the realm of opportunity.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
Check out these additional resources:
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!
This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 811.
I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I hope you are doing great. In these last two months of the year, we’re going to really be thinking through and talking about how do you plan for next year, how do you come up with ideas and strategies and really take any uncertainty that you have and have a plan for it, have a direction, have a way to use that as an advantage. That’s why I’m so excited about our guest today. Ursula Eysin is a Vienna-based creative strategist and founder of Red Swan that helps individuals, companies, and other organizations to turn uncertainty into a competitive advantage with future scenario thinking method. I’m so excited to have Ursula on the show today. Ursula, welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast.
Thank you for having me, Joe. It’s a pleasure.
Yes, it’s so funny because I had never heard of futurist scenario thinking until just about a week ago. I just in episode 802 talked to Charlotte Kemp about how to do forecast future scenarios and all of that and then to see that you’re on my schedule also, I’m like, something’s going on here where people are caring more about uncertainty and all of that. Before we started talking, before we started recording, you were just sharing with me a little bit about the history of where this thinking came from. I would love to just dive right in to, you’re talking about the Air Force and, let’s dive right into the background of this type of thinking and processing.
Yes, thank you for this great introduction and I’m so happy you already dealt with uncertainty, because let’s be honest, people hate uncertainty. Actually before all this crisis hit uncertainty was very hard to sell to people. Usually, people just say, give me certainty instead, do some trend prognosis, give me some numbers so I can feel safe. But with this crisis a lot of people realized that is not possible. So what is the scenario thinking process? It was invented by the use Air Force in the 1940s, and then in the 1970s, Royal Shell, the oil company adapted it for business usage very successfully. They were able to skyrocket from a rather weak market position to number two of the world’s biggest oil companies.
I had the great pleasure to learn this process. I call it scenario thinking. It’s originally called scenario planning, but you’ll see why I do not like planning so much because everything is uncertain. I had the great pleasure to learn this methodology from the former chief strategist of Royal Shell, Kai Rosa, who happens to be an Austrian as myself and returned from his life at Shell, let’s say in 2010 to Austria. We started to do this process, to apply this methodology for Austrian ministries, big organizations, international corporations and companies of all kinds of sizes and in all kinds of sectors to help them to turn uncertainty into an advantage.
Now, when you think about the average small business, so mostly we have therapists, counselors, psychologists, they may be a solo business just them, they may have a handful of support staff, maybe they even have a group practice of five, 10 up to probably 20 would be the average range of people, so still considered a small business. When you think about this future scenario thinking, what are some of the maybe three or five steps that they can take to start to utilize this within their businesses?
Yes, thank you very much. First of all, I would like to say I get this question a lot, is scenario thinking only for big corporations like shell, not at all. I do that even for individuals. My favorite example for that is a 13-year-old student who struggled and the whole family was desperate. Well, I said, okay, if she wants to, we can do a scenario process. She wanted to do that, 13-years-old, I didn’t think such an analytical process would work with a 13-year-old but it was just great. The imagination of youngsters is really, really great. So what did we do? We sat together for a Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and started to gather driving forces for her decision on what school she wanted to go to. These, in this case are personal motivations.
For companies, you usually will also consider external factors like how will regulation change? How will the economy change? What technology will be invented maybe or technology do we already have attended? But it’s also very important and my favorite thing to dive deep into the personal motivations, the personal driving forces. For her that was just right to find the driving forces, what is really important for you. So we gathered this and then we analyzed it in a so-called impact uncertainty analysis where we ask how important is that for your decision and is it already decided or you can you still, do we still have a say in that? Is it not fixed yet? By this we sort out the things you cannot influence anymore.
I think especially in times like these, you should not exhaust yourself by concentrating on things you cannot change. I think that’s something like there will be more regulation, the economy will decline probably and that stuff. Yes, that’s something you have to be aware of also for your business of course, but then focus on the things you can still change. These are the things which are uncertain. We call it critical uncertainties of the future. You can find that out by this analysis. Then we take two of this critical uncertainties, is usually something like your core motivations or your core principles. For me, for example, it is, one of my core principles is human connection. So is it there or is it not there? The other key dimension for me is driving for excellence.
So when I choose a business partner, for example, I would look for someone who is also striving for excellence and has a lot of human connection. That would be an empathic leader. So this would be my guideline to choose a business partner. When you have these different scenarios, you really do something like a method actor, you imagine the future and it’s like 10, 20 years ahead. It’s not like one year ahead because why human creativity works best when you have obstacles in the now and then you give them the chance to think really far ahead, not because we think we can look that far into the future. It’s not about predicting the future, not at all. That would be a probable position. It’s about creating the future, but we think like 10 years ahead because that opens the creative box that opens the realm of opportunities. So you really try to put yourself into these scenarios to flesh them out, to imagine yourself in the world, like let’s say now 2032, you and your business and this year.
The very interesting thing is we develop positive and negative scenarios and your audience certainly knows about that. We are not very creative in positive scenarios. When I ask people, okay, how do you get to this best case scenario, usually there are not many ideas. But when we are, for example, for a small business in negative scenario like our, we do not have the right suppliers, the right partners do not want our product, we need to find other product ideas, other services, et cetera, then people get really, really creative. So when you look at the scenarios, it’s very important to go through these very bad scenarios, not to be pessimistic about the future, but to be very creative because our mind works best when you present. Its obstacles to overcome and to create the future. From there I enable people to take inspired action steps because all these other steps are more an awareness exercise, so to say but then you take creative inspired and creative action steps because awareness alone of course is not enough.
I want to just make sure I captured this, so the impact uncertainty analysis, that’s like the big umbrella and within that we’re looking at the things that you really can’t influence, which actually reminds me of John and Julie Gottman’s work with couples where the majority of fights are fights between a couple that just won’t get solved. They’re entrenched, so you can either decide, do you want to stay with this person and put up with this fight and realize that they’re never going to probably change, they’re never going to put the toilet paper back on the toilet paper roll, something little like that. Or it could be something big like their religious philosophy. So that idea that there’s a lot that we can’t influence, so don’t even put your worry, your uncertainty, your anxiety into those things. There are critical uncertainties, one or two of these things that really are values that we want to center for us around. Then imagining 10 to 20 years ahead instead of just a year ahead. Then the negatives scenarios really help us pull out that creative and inspired action steps. Was there anything that I missed in that flow of the impact uncertainty analysis?
That was a perfect sum.
Awesome. Well I want to go back to that critical uncertainties because you mentioned that and then gave examples of your own values. Maybe share with us some other values people have especially that step, I feel like I want to dig into that a little bit more. Tell us more about critical uncertainties and how people can figure out really those driving values for themselves.
Yes, of course it depends on the person and sometimes we think that values are really universal, but actually values need to be very flexible. So the core motivations of course, are different from person to person. Let’s take another example maybe. I did this with a startup I wanted to work with and I usually run a small scenario exercise with startup I want to mentor. The goal in this case was actually to help them to regularly have cash flow and to build a consulting around the core product because that’s something I know how to do and together have this consulting business and their product together. So they had a core value. Yes, we want to make money, we want to make money with our product. Of course, it’s not wrong to have that. You never should dismiss anything just like every value, every driving force you have is valid.
We want people to like our product and yes, we also want to, of course we want to make money, so we need this consulting business. I wanted to help them with that. Then we had just one scenario, in which they did not make enough money from their own business, from their own product. Everything else was okay but for them they said, oh, this scenario for us is an out of business scenario. We would not do our startup anymore. For me that was a major red flag, was for me as an entrepreneur, I never think of an out of business scenario. I might want to pivot, I might want to change something. By this we actually found out that the consulting business in this case was not a driving force for them. It was actually not something they really wanted to do. It was something they wanted to do to get money, to get cash flow but they were not committed to that. They saw it as add-on and something that should pay the bills. So for me, that was, ok, I’m out because for me, to build this consulting business was a core motivation and was critical uncertainty. Can we do that together? How do we do that? It was something really for opportunities and to work on. In this exercise I immediately realized they don’t have any scheme. I would put energy and maybe even money into that, and they would be out.
Whether you’re starting a solo practice or thriving in solo practice, getting a group going or thriving in a group, or launching a big idea or thriving with your big idea, we have a consultant that can help you with our team. We continue to grow to have consultants that will help you at every single phase of practice. If you want to apply to have a 30-minute pre-con consulting call with me, I would love to chat through where you’re at. The goal is to just hear where you’re at, where you’re headed, where you want to change things, and then to say, here’s where I’d spend my time and money if I were in your situation. We have enough people applying at every phase of practice, we don’t need to squeeze you into anything. In fact, we would hate that. We would rather say, here’s where we can join you and offer some consulting to help you reach your goals faster. Apply over at practiceofthepractice.com/apply if you want some help with one-on-one consulting today. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/apply.
Yes, good to learn that from the front end and I mean, that saves you so much time and energy. There’s an activity we do in Audience Building Academy called taking the blinders off. The idea is that we oftentimes, when with this group, it’s building an audience around our particular specialty, so take a therapist that’s good at treating anxiety and they want to create an e-course on anxiety so they’re launching a podcast and an Instagram channel all around anxiety. So the idea is you build an audience first, then you build the product. Oftentimes people really have their idea of here’s what I want to build, and they have these blinders on and so in this exercise I have them metaphorically take those blinders off and say, imagine that that thing you have latched onto for some reason is no longer an option. You just can’t do a course on anxiety. There’s a new regulation, there’s no audience, like there’s, you just can’t do it. What would you do with your skillset?
To see the creativity that comes out of that when you just put a block on the thing they’ve been focusing on and saying, well I might do public speaking, I might write a book I might do and then they realize, oh, maybe those things are more interesting to me. It just seems that whether it’s in business or in life to take those blinders off can be so helpful. Even just yesterday I was walking with a friend of mine who’s in the neighborhood. He is an awesome guy and he has an insurance business that’s out of his house and he’s looking at purchasing a place an office, like a business real estate. He was like, what do you think? I said, well, I mean, right now that’s not a fixed cost you have right now, so that’s a new cost and you’re seeing it as an investment. Let’s just say that wasn’t an option and then you were going to put that two or three grand a month into some sort of whole index fund into something else.
So even with my friend to be able to allow him to think through, okay, if I wasn’t to buy this business property, then where would I put that money and to just take those blinders off I think can be so helpful. Is part of this exercise, especially when you’re looking at the negative scenarios like walk us through that a little bit because it sounds like some of it is that blinders off type of exercise where you’re saying, sure, we could go in this direction, but let’s go in a different direction. Take us through maybe how people can think through negative scenarios in their business and what that would look like.
Yes, I loved your example. It’s like a worst case scenario. You don’t have this option anymore so now be creative. And people are really creative. Before I do that, maybe I would like to tell the three scenario questions we ask people to find out about their driving forces. That’s usually the first thing, and I would like to do that if it’s okay with you. There are three scenario questions which seem trite, but they’re very, very, very, very effective. The first would be, if you could think, if you could look into the future of your topic, what would you like to know? If this topic developed according to your wishes optimistically, but realistically, what would that look like? The third question is, things would go south, what would you be worried about?
I encourage everyone to ask themselves these questions. It’s very, very useful also because then you know your core driving forces, you know your core values. Of course you can also add external forces but I think the more important thing is your internal driving forces, your core principles will be like a beacon of light in any crisis. It will take you through the crisis. I think this is a very important step. So now let’s go to the worst case scenarios. I developed scenarios, future scenarios with the topic, on the topic, next generation internet, the internet for people 2040 for the theory of technology in 2018. We had a really, really big expert group in this case, like 30 people and these experts came from, they were technology experts, sociologists, psychologists, architects, artists, experts, youth, a lot of people, a lot of people with different perspectives and together we developed future scenarios.
Coming back to the worst case scenario, we had one scenario, which was called the unconscious prisoners. In this scenario, technology was controlling people and everyone was in lockdown and really, really, 2018, what was going to happen in 2020, I swear. But it was so interesting because we became cautious about that. What happens when technology starts to control us? Usually, we are not very much aware. I know I worked with technology since 20 years, I’m technology a consultant and while they develop technology, they are actually not aware that it could have really bad implications on people. So it was really interesting to see that and that some of them thought of that for the first time. Some of them did not. But it was really, really interesting to see that next of course, you can make suggestions on how to get out of that scenario or how to avoid scenarios like that by developing technology, which is based on human relationships, for example, by developing technology that is for the benefit of people and not against them
Now, when people are thinking about these different types of scenarios, what are some practical tips? Like if imagine someone hears this interview, they have a journal and they go get a cup of coffee and they’re like, okay, I want to take some of Ursula’s advice, I want to brainstorm some of these things. what are some of the first steps they can do? Obviously going through that critical uncertainties, like what would you want to know? What would it look like and where are you worried? So they go through that, then what are some ways that they can think through these negative scenarios to really, say they took an hour after this podcast and said, I’m going to enact what Ursula is saying. What should I think through? What should they spend their time on pondering, writing, brainstorming over the next say, hour after this podcast?
Yes, I think the first thing would actually be the questions I mentioned to really gather your driving forces. Sometimes that’s also on a psychological process to find out, I think first you have to frame your challenge. What is your topic? What would you like to know? That can be anything. It can be, should I marry this person, for example? Then you can ask questions, write down, write down these driving forces you have quickly, that doesn’t have to take long and then sort through these striving forces and think of two of them who are significantly different. To form something that’s called a scenario cross, you need to dimension, I mentioned for me, human connection in business very important for me and striving for excellence.
It would be two dimensions of a cross. Imagine you have like two arrows only form a cross so on the one place human connection and on the other striving for excellence. Then think how could the like human connection, is it there or is it not there? Or is it intense or is it just shallow? Is it deep or is it shallow? Striving for excellence is there or it’s not there. In these four scenarios, you actually have four different types of people. Like you have Covid, narcissists, narcissists and empathic leaders, for example. Then imagine what would like to do business with psychopath, something like that. That would be the worst case scenario. Play it out 10 years in the future. Where would my business go to? What would that person look like? What would they do ad how would that influence me and my business? Then the next thing is what can I do now to find these empathic leaders I defined as my ideal business leader? Then you can think of things like, oh, I’m usually going to meetings where there are a lot of, let’s say narcissists or psychopathic leaders. Maybe I should change the meetings I’m attending. Maybe I should go to other places. So let’s find these people. This is what I mean by inspired action steps. Then go out and do the things to get what you want.
I love that. What happens when people start to go through these scenarios, go through this really intentional way of thinking, and then they create these creative and inspired action steps? What would you say are the typical results of what people can see in regards to change within their business?
First of all, what is always very good to see is they have a change in perspective. Very often they are in front, as you said, taking the blindness off, can be really interesting and usually the good it’s always a success when people stand in front of this scenario cross and imagine the various scenarios and then say I now see that in a completely different way. I didn’t see that at all. That’s very good because it’s about bringing the subconscious things to the conscious mind and it’s seeing reality and you can only create the future from a place of reality. You cannot do just wishful thinking stuff. So this is the very good reaction. Then they are very happy to take a decision.
As I mentioned the student, she was really desperate. The whole family was desperate. They didn’t know what school she should choose. After this day, her mother came to pick her up and then she said, so Hannah, that’s her name, do you know now what school you want to go to? I said, I think she knows very well. The mother goes like, but Hannah, you told me you don’t know. The girl said, yes, mom, until today, I didn’t know, but now I know. After that, she took the decisions. She went to the school, she wanted to choose and she was very happy with that. Actually, a week later I did a interview from the future with her, and we imagined then what she wanted to do is become a human rights lawyer. It was like 10 years in the future, human rights law student and how happy was she with her decision? Yes, it was just really, really good. As far as I know for her, she wanted to reach.
Well, the last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
Start turning uncertainty into an advantage right now. I know uncertainty is, we are afraid of uncertainty, but we are faced with uncertainty all the time. It can cause insecurity, it can cause anxiety, but actually uncertainty is the realm of opportunity.
Ursula, if people want to follow your work, if they want to connect with you, what’s the best place to send them?
To my website, it’s www.redswan.at and I just started a subset, www.redwan.subset.com.
Ah, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
I loved it. Thank you very much, Joe.
Well, go take some action, go do some journaling, think through different scenarios. It’s great that you’re listening to this show and that you’re learning so much. Now go take some action and really create some of these scenarios, create some of the value sets, the things that we talked about today. If you need some extra help, we have a whole team of consultants. We have a team of behind-the-scenes copywriters, visual designers, videographers, podcast producers that can help you get to the next level, whatever that looks like for you. Your first step is to head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply if you want to work with me one-on-one or one of our other consultants. We would love to help you out whether you’re starting, growing, scaling, or exiting your private practice, we have help at every single level for you. We have enough people applying that we don’t need to do a hard sell to get you into something that you don’t need. We just say, here’s where I’d spend my time and money if I were in your situation. Also in the call we give you some low-hanging fruit, things that are going to be helpful no matter what. Head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply so you can fill out that application and we can have a chat.
Thanks so much for letting us into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.