Robbins practiced as a defense attorney before transitioning to her current career as a CNN commentator and author of Stop Saying You’re Fine: The No-BS Guide to Getting What
You Want. She delivered a well-received Closing General Session
at the 2015 PCMA Education Conference, for which Convene
interviewed her; the interview is excerpted below.
What is the key to getting what we want?
There are two invisible forces that are
holding you back. One of the invisible
forces is how life in modern society
is shutting down your higher-brain
functioning and shutting down your
impulse for action. And the second
thing that’s an invisible force that is
stopping you is fear.
What is it that we fear?
You only have two fears. The first fear is
the fear of death itself. What it actually
is, is simply the fear that something
unknown is about to happen and you’re
afraid you can’t survive it. You’re fear-
ing that if you took a risk, if you went
out and swung for the fences and tried
something crazy, different, new, exciting
at your next event that you’re putting on,
you fear that it could be wrong. So you
get paralyzed and you don’t do it. And
there’s another fear that we’re going to
discuss that’s actually the good fear; it’s
the fear you want. It’s called FOMO —
the fear of missing out.
FOMO sounds like something you could
really take advantage of to attract
people to your meeting or conference.
Absolutely. In fact, if you really think
about it, what is the psychological driving
force of Facebook, of Twitter, of Snapchat,
of Meerkat, of Periscope — of all of these
things? The driving force is the fear of
missing out. That’s why everybody is log-
ging on to these things; it’s fundamental.
Your conferences need to be so awesome,
in your opinion, that people would be
morons not to go because it’s going to be
such an incredible opportunity.
Do you have one takeaway that you’d
like your audience to go away with?
I want every person in that audience to
be reminded just how remarkable they
are. And I want them to feel inspired
again about the opportunity that it is
and how cool it is to get to plan events
that can change the course of people’s
A psychologist by training, Biswas-Diener is a trainer, coach, and author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, The Courage Quotient: How Science
Can Make You Braver, and, most recently, The Upside of Your
Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self — Not Just Your “Good” Self
— Drives Success and Fulfillment.
What will you be talking about at
Convening Leaders 2016?
I will be speaking about positive psy-
chology. Writ broadly, that’s sort of what
makes people function well. Instead of
just asking the question that psychology
has always asked — What goes wrong
with people? — we’re interested in what
goes right with people. Often that’s in
a work context, so we’re interested in
what does good leadership mean? How
do people achieve goals? What moti-
vates folks? How do they work together?
What’s conflict resolution? How are
people hospitable to one another? How
do they support one another?
Do leaders tend to focus on what’s
wrong instead of what’s right in their
They do a little bit of both. The most
classic business analysis is the SWOT
analysis, where you look at strengths
and weaknesses, opportunities and
threats. I think within that there is
some sense of balancing: “We want to
pay attention to what goes wrong. We
don’t want our ship to sink, but we also
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