Susan RoAne is a keynote speaker and a bestselling author who sold over 1.3 million books. One of her well-known masterpieces is the classic How To Work a Room®.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
In the city of Chicago… I am NOT a ‘burb baby. Home of Cubs/Sox/Bulls/Bears/Blackhawks, Mayors Daley, Kickbacks, Dead people voting, Phenomenal Art Institute, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, MAJOR universities (Northwestern, Univ of Chicago, Univ of Illinois, De Paul, and the iconic Second City and more.
Childhood was almost boringly normal EXCEPT my brother had polio and that impacted our lives..and his. I believe that made me more empathic, caring and sensitive to others and their situations.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Things have a way of working out…even if it isn’t the way I planned.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I’ve wasted time and money on recommendations that were not right for me. I didn’t fall for most of the crap my speaking colleagues recommended but wish I had the money I should NOT have spent …sitting in a compound daily account. I’m currently appalled at the number and intensity of the “coaches/consultants/experts” who sell their systems/”podcast in a box” guaranteeing full calendars and overnight bestsellers which is a crock! They sell their wares …to PT Barnum’s audience. (He said a sucker is born every minute). I now advise my colleagues NOT to sign on anyone’s bottom line until they’ve done extensive due diligence.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I fell into my business because my school district laid off 1200 people. I was one of them. But I turned it into a business to help my colleagues: Career Change for Teachers Workshop. I ran it out of Assemblyman Willie Brown’s office. Way Too long a story to type.
Getting laid off because of financial mismanagement was awful. BUT within a year my workshops were full to capacity, I had 100 people on a waiting list. My dear “femtor” (she made up that term), Sally Livingston said, “100 people on a waiting list…my dear girl…you have a business”!
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
BE FAR, I am convinced that my “secret sauce” is that I stay in touch with people. That’s why I have a great life, friends around the globe. BUT, My bias is that I stay in touch with people I LIKE, respect, trust and enjoy and with whom I laugh! For the life of me, I cannot make myself stay in touch with people I don’t like, respect, trust, enjoy, and CARE about.
What is your morning routine?
I’m not a great sleeper; but I DON”T worry about it because my mother said I was “a lousy sleeper from the minute I was born.” I’m up often at 4am..and 6 am or so. Every morning I read my 3 papers in print: Local, San Francisco and Wall Street J (on Sundays it’s NY Times). I do my social media; I’m a BIG tweeter. Facebook is a way to stay in touch with people…so I do. I also read my online papers, content summaries, The Week, Politico, The Daily Beast… I follow interesting links on twitter, linked in.
It’s multi-tasking time because simultaneously I watch The Terrific Trio of Late Night Smart hosts. Seth, Stephen and Trevor and LAUGH. I start my day laughing.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
BUT I also work out with trainers (father and son) 2 days a week, and wear my fitbit: I walk 10,000 steps and try to get 5 miles in at least 4 days a week. One of my trainers is a Presbyterian Minister who also gives “pastoral counseling”. I also gained 15% of bone density! Except for crispy French Fries, I eat fairly healthfully/don’t drink/don’t smoke.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Beats me! Being an insatiable life-long learner I always have my attenna up for what is new, educational, interesting.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Do something else! Watch a funny show, take in a movie, take a walk, call a real friend.
OR I IRON! Yes, that awful, boring, difficult task helps me. As an author, we often invest years in a book. BUT, with ironing a top or scarf, when it’s done, there’s a great sense of accomplishment!
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The Millionaire in YOU by Michael Le Boeuf (Legitimate New York Times Best Selling author). His research about Millionaires was down to earth, sensible and cut the BS out of most of the nonsense we hear espoused by the charlatans.
- Millionaires live below their means!!!!!
- They invest, save and endow. They are charitable.
- They don’t have to show off the latest model of anything: car, watch, boat…etc.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Favorite saying of mothers, grandmothers and it’s my Marketing Mantra:
“Ya Never Know!”
It’s the answer to all things that work…and those that don’t. It’s the reason they gave to the question “Why Should I go”? It’s shorthand for serendipity/coincidence/Happenstance.
The other quote I learned in Sunday School and it has informed my life:
“Silence is approval”
The person who is silent in the face of wrongdoing is worse than the violaters because they know better and have not done better. Stand UP and Speak out is my other mantra.