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The Power of Being Vulnerable with Topaz Adizes

George Grombacher May 6, 2024


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The Power of Being Vulnerable with Topaz Adizes

LifeBlood: We talked about the value of being vulnerable in our interactions with others, the power of a good question asked the right way, how to get the most out of interactions with others, how to get better at doing it, and where to start, with Topaz Adizes, Emmy Award winner, experience design architect, and author.       

Listen to learn why practice makes perfect when it comes to having meaningful conversations!

You can learn more about Topaz at TheSkinDeep.com, X, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Topaz Adizes

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:01
Topaz a dieses is an Emmy Award and winning writer director experience design architects work has been featured at Cohn at Sundance at IDFA. at South by Southwest, he is the author of 12 questions for love a guide to intimate conversations and deeper relationships. Welcome to the show, Topaz.

Topaz Adizes 0:22
Hey, thanks for having me. Good to be on.

george grombacher 0:24
excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal last more about your work, why you do what you do?

Topaz Adizes 0:30
Well, the last 11 years, my team and I are at the skin deep, we’re an experienced design studio we’ve been holding the space for people have incredible conversations. And that project is called the end. Why the end because the relationship is you and I, us and them. It’s the end that connects us it’s the end is the the conjunction, if you will. And so for the last 11 years, 11th year now we’ve had over 1200 conversations that we’ve filmed with three cameras and all kinds of conversations a deep, cathartic, incredible, and we have a beautiful community online. And I think, you know, it’s just rare that you get an opportunity to be a witness to all these intimate conversations. And so the book is really a learning, it’s a distillation of what we’ve learned from holding the space for so many conversations.

george grombacher 1:17
What makes something an intimate conversation,

Topaz Adizes 1:20
vulnerability. Vulnerability, I think, courage to step into the vulnerability. And you don’t even have to actually say anything than an intimate conversation. You can just be in one. What I mean by that is, like what I’ve seen from 10 years of doing this, well, when we wrote the book, 10 years, and 1200 conversations of all kinds of relationships, fathers and sons, grandparents, grandchildren, lovers, people have been married for 1520 years who were dating is the ability to ask the question, and to sit in that space, even if you don’t come up with the answer. But are you asking the questions? And are you as in any type of relationship? Are you sitting in the discomfort of that place of exploring that question? And I think at the core of the intimacy is vulnerability, is being able to sit in that space?

george grombacher 2:21
Is it that’s that that is hard? There’s there’s no doubt about that. So I’m interested in talking about why that’s hard. And can I have it if if I don’t have the right questions?

Topaz Adizes 2:34
I don’t have right or wrong questions. I just have there’s better questions, and there’s not so good questions, right. So there’s a well constructed questions that can set you up to really be successful. And then there’s other questions that will make it more difficult. So let’s, let’s give an example. If you asked in the context of your relationship, why do we fight so much? Well, it’s not a right or wrong question. But that might not be as constructive as, what’s your biggest conflict right now? And what is it teaching us? This way to remember that the mind is built to protect while the heart is built to connect, right? It’s a nice little Ryan’s to remember it. But if you ask yourself, if you ask your mind, why do you fight so much? Your mind is going to serve? The question is going to go out and find the answers. Why do we fight so much? Because what our mind is always built to protect. So it’s gonna go and find the answers. It’s looking for the answers, it’s looking for the answers. So if you ask it a question, it’s gonna give you a litany of reasons why you fight so much. How empowering is that? How constructive? Is that in the shape of your relationship? Versus if you ask the mind, hey, what’s our biggest conflict right now? And what is it teaching us? That’s giving it a bit more of a empowering one that gives you more agency making more constructive? Because what is this challenge that we have that’s teaching us? And there’s also something about the shaping of the question, right? So if I said, What is our biggest conflict? And what is it teaching us? It’s helpful, because what is it teaching us places to conflict in a way of learning, but by myself, by me saying to you, asking you, what is our biggest conflict? That’s giving you the arbiter of truth? Because you’re gonna say, well, our biggest conflict is this, objectively, this is, but I can improve that question by saying, What do you think, is our biggest challenge? And what is it teaching us? And by what do you feel is our biggest challenge by putting Do you think or do you feel? Now you’re not the arbiter of the objective truth? You’re the arbiter of your own subjective experience. And that makes it a bit less of a conflict, right? We’re not going to fight over what is the objective reality between us? It’s, that’s your experience. So you can even improve that question, what do you feel is the biggest conflict in our relationship right now? And what is it teaching us? And the point from this in the book and that I’ve learned from all this is that there’s so much power in the questions and We are so trained in our society to find the answers and state the answers that we don’t realize the power is in the question. So instead of looking for answers, create better questions.

Unknown Speaker 5:13
I love everything about that. Thanks.

george grombacher 5:16
What is the? What is the? Is there an objective of conversations?

Topaz Adizes 5:23
Oh, yeah, it’s different kind, right? So let’s be clear, like, what kind of conversation are we having? Are we having the conversation to decide what we’re gonna have dinner tonight? Are we having the conversation, decide what we’re gonna do with our finances? Are we having the conversation to decide how we’re going to raise our child? That’s one thing? Are we having another conversation where we’re exploring our emotions or relationships, it’s a different kind of conversation. Right? I will have a conversation where we’re purely going to have a good time, and we’re not actually going to talk about anything serious whatsoever. Great. Let us be clear about this kind of conversation we’re having. And that to me, it comes to the house, right, you’re not going to cook in your bedroom. And you’re not going to go to the bathroom. In the kitchen, you’re going to do certain things in the kitchen, certain things in the bedroom, certain things in the bathroom. We should make those spaces also intentional in our conversations. I mean, much like you would in the business. Some meetings are there to check up checklists, some meetings are there to brainstorm about strategy, some meetings are there to do a qualitative evaluation, you know, you have different kinds of meetings. So why don’t we have different kinds of conversations in our relationships and make it clear, because the last thing you want? Is your partner showing up to you and saying, we’re going to talk? Sure, what do you hear that your instinct is holy shit, and you start like, you pull out your your mind comes up, I’m going to protect you. Okay, what’s, where’s the problem? Oh, here we go. How do we avoid that? Well, we do maintenance checks, we have weekly check ins conversations, we create the space for those kinds of conversations to alleviate the pressure and work through the challenges that we currently have. Because if we don’t, what ends up happening is that the pain of the tongue on the conflict or the tension that’s not acknowledged or handled, just that pain continues to build until the point that you have to handle it. And that’s why your partner or you go to your partner and say, Hey, we got to talk, or to your friend or to your dad or whoever, whoever it is. So how do we, so if we can bring more intentionality to our awareness of what kind of conversations we have, and definitely have an exploratory talk, one that explores your relationship, your dynamic your patterns, do you have once a week, once a month, right, and explore that, so that way when you have it, otherwise, you’re going to have it every two, three years, and whenever there’s enough pain, and so it’s super challenging to have those conversations are supercharged, and there’s all pent up. Disappointment, expectations, aggression, and that makes it more challenging.

george grombacher 7:56
For each of these are the conversations in the kitchen. Should I be thinking about and being mindful of, of using my heart versus my mind? Is it all all the time?

Topaz Adizes 8:10
So like, so funny, you know, as everyone says, We’re the heart the mind reads, it was a one thing. It’s all integrates a holistic, right. But what serves what? And so a friend of mine, she gave me a great quote. I was in Austin two weeks ago, and I named Samantha and she’s an artist, and she says, we should allow our minds to be the altar, we should train our minds to be the altar upon which our hearts sit. My thought is beautiful line. And what that reminds me of it makes me think of is what serving what, and the mind should be in service to the heart because the heart is built to connect. And what’s the payoff of this whole conversation? Why do this? Why is because when you connect with the people you’re closest to your sense of what it means to be alive as a human being is revitalized, is Energize. It’s more fulfilling, right? If we are often in our own silos, if we’re on our superficial relationships, we’re not really exploring things, that’s fine. But we’re missing the opportunity to go deeper.

Speaker 1 9:12
Did I lose? You know, I think that that’s right now. Right?

Topaz Adizes 9:15
So that, to me is when something goes well, great, okay, cool. But why why? What’s the investment here? What’s the payoff to the investment is that greater sense of what it means to be alive is a greater sense of the human experience? And yeah, but you you asked, What was your question that you asked me because I kind of went on just

george grombacher 9:33
whether or not we should reserve the brain for certain talks in the heart for others.

Topaz Adizes 9:37
I just think we should have the brain and service to the heart. And so how can we do that is by the questions we asked. So if you want your partner and you’re pissed off because it isn’t that hurt you and you go, why did you do this? That’s a that’s coming at them aggressive manner. They’re going up against a wall, they’re gonna protect themselves. They’re not giving you up. Do you actually connect so before You go them tap into your curiosity, I’m in relation with his partner, or I’m with my business partner, oh, my father, my best friend, my, my brother, my sister, and they did this action, and it hurt. Or it’s confusing, and you’re upset and you What do you want from them? You want them to apologize? You want to hear them say, Sorry, what do you wanna hear from them? Okay? Well, that’s an agenda, you want to have a certain end. What I suggest is come to the thing with an intention. Which is the beginning intention is where you come from, in the beginning, agenda is where you expect to end up at. If you come to someone with an agenda, they can feel it. And that’s your mind working out. Because now your mind is like a troll and you’re playing chess. And you ask them a question, how often are you asked a question by someone and you just instantly know, okay, we’re playing mental chess right now. And I’m defending myself. And you know, how do you so how do you create the space for someone to actually to ourselves exploratory? If you’re asking the question, and you’re coming at it with an agenda, then let’s go back to the intention. And the way you can wait to tap into this your own curiosity. I want to know why my sister did that action. Not that I want her to apologize, I first want to know why. Because I thought we have a loving relationship, or we’re in this or what how did this come up? How did you they make this mistake? So ask the question from a place of curiosity, because that is the underlying intention of curiosity, exploration. Right? If you come up with an agenda, now your mind is at play. And now we are two minds, kind of fencing if you were playing chess, instead of actually connecting.

george grombacher 11:35
More combative versus collaborative? Yeah.

Topaz Adizes 11:38
And how do you create the space for that? Right? You know, it’s a lot about the spaces. And what I mean by that is, very simply, let’s give an example. If your home and your partner comes home, and goes, Why do you love me? Out of the blue? Your space has not been created for you to really explore that year, was wondering, Where’s that coming from? So you’re, that’s that’s the question you’re answering. Where’s this coming from? Not why do you love him? Or vice versa? If they came home and said, George, I love you so much from here to the moon and data data that you’re not really receiving that? Because you’re wondering, Where’s this coming from? What happened? Now, if we just create the space, for instance, we have car games that we sell 12 editions, you know, two or three questions in the box. If you come and say, Hey, let’s play this card game. Right? Oh, there’s a space, the attention is going to play this card game is exploratory? Boom, you pull out a random card, or it says, What do you love me? Where it says, Where do you look? Why do you love me? Oh, now you’re not wondering why they’re asking this question. You know, because you’re playing a game. It’s a random card of a box. Right? If they tell you why they love you so much, they’re answering the question, you’re not wanting, you’re not rejecting it, you’re not wondering why they’re telling you this, you know why they’re telling you this, you’re having an experience, you’re playing a card game. So the card game creates a space for one to give and for the other to receive. And so how do we create those spaces in our real lives? If it’s a car game, great. If it’s not, you can say hey, let’s have a let’s have a conversation by the fire. road trips are great, because we’re in the space, there’s nowhere to go. It’s hey, let’s ask each other questions. Let’s have a conversation. So when we embark on conversation, let’s just create the space by setting an intention. Hey, let’s do this. Let’s play this game. Let’s do right, and then ask well constructed questions.

Speaker 1 13:28
I love everything about that. Yeah. Do you advocate that?

george grombacher 13:32
We have for lack of a better term standing conversations?

Topaz Adizes 13:36
What does that tell you more about that, just that I have a conversation every

george grombacher 13:39
Monday night at five o’clock with my wife and we do it, you know, me? Well, well, we’ll make him dinner, or

Topaz Adizes 13:45
boom, I call it a practice. Make it a practice, because what you practice you get good at. So make it a practice. You know, I think it’s really important. To create a practice, just like you would practice, exercise or work is a practice, you show up every day at a certain time you check out at certain time, you know, what we practice we get good at why are we practicing better communication with our partners? Not even better, but just explored. conversations that remind us what elite means to be alive, what it means on this journey of life, you’re going through this. You’re having this experience growing journey have you know, meaning people building things, learning things? Don’t you want to share that with someone? Don’t you also want to share that with the people closest to you? How can you do that in a way that’s constructive? How can you do that in a way that’s connected? That’s all in the book. Right? That’s the intention of and, and let’s go back, which like, you know, watch some of your interviews and your podcasts. You know, when you started you were doing about you want to teach people Correct. I assume this. So you say this in one soundbite, but you were teaching people about financial literacy and finances, because it was just kind of like this gray zone for a lot of people. So you’re offering value that way Where do we learn? How to have deeper, more meaningful conversations? Who teaches us that? Nobody? Yeah, we get a model in our families, which may or may not be good modeling, maybe with your friends. But what do we learn that? Fortunately for my team, and I, we’ve learned that by actually doing it for 10 years, you’re 12. Now in our 11th year, well over 1200 conversations, oh, wow, this works, this doesn’t work. This is a really good question why this question goes really well, after this question. How do we better hold the space? How do we intention without bringing an agenda to it. And so I think it’s one of the most overlooked things is that ultimately, as a human being, we want to be seen, I believe, you want to be seen. You want to know that you’re seen, heard. And conversations are a great way to do that with our intimate, but we don’t learn that anywhere. And so that’s my offering. That’s the offering of the book. That’s what my team and I offered through all our content that we

george grombacher 15:58
felt, I think it’s such a powerful thing. I’ve long held the belief that our knowledge that our undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to another human being. And that you’ve been doing this for over 10 years suggests and means that you predict safe spaces, and trigger warnings, as well as phones being ubiquitous. What do you think about all that?

Topaz Adizes 16:25
I think they’re really helpful tools. Like the phone is a really helpful tool. The question is how using your tool. And if you look at, if you go to dinner, and you look across the restaurant, and you see a couple or a family on their phones, instead of talking to each other, I understand it, because they get quick, small dopamine hits with every swipe. Right? There’s getting, that’s what the machine is built, the building is built to be a dopamine addicting machine to take your attention. Because in the future, already now, I’ve been saying this for years, but after water and air, like the most valuable commodity is people’s attention. So it’s grabbing your attention, okay? And finally, you’re giving it attention, you get a little dopamine hit, okay. But what if I told you put the phone down, create the space by just say, hey, let’s have a great little cup exploratory conversation would ask these random questions as well constructed question, like from our deck or create one yourself or from the book, okay. And instead of getting the dopamine hit in one minute, you’ll get it in 12 minutes. And it will be exponentially, you know, to the triple effect of what you were on the phone for 12 minutes. Where will you spend your time. So I’m telling you that you can get a hit of dopamine that is much greater and bigger than you could spend the same amount of time on the phone that will reinforce the relationship with the people around you. Where would you spend it? I think it’s just a simple equation, for sure. You know, but we don’t know how to do it. We’re not it’s again, where do we where we taught this, how we model this. So that’s the offering. That’s the learning. I think that’s what’s really powerful. And when I see. And it’s not to say that sometimes you’re in a relationship where you’re sitting at the, with your family, or sitting or your wife, you’re sitting there a partner, and there’s nothing to tell you right now. There’s nothing to talk about. And you’re sitting in silence, and yet that’s okay. So like we have to talk all the time. But if you ask yourself a new question that you haven’t asked before it connects two separate things, or puts you in the other person’s shoes. Oh, now there’s a space to explore. Oh, now my mind is gonna go searching for the answer.

george grombacher 18:36
Do you get better at questions by practicing? It’s like anything else?

Topaz Adizes 18:40
Well, the thing is now that we, you know, we film about three, four or five times a year. And we just got back from Austin about three weeks ago, we filmed and I one of the questionnaires that we have, because so many people at this point people fly and drive in. It’s such an honor, at this point, we have people who have been following the skinny for 10 years, and they play our car game, they watch our videos. So every time and one of the questionnaires is how much how many of our videos and how much of the car games have you played? Have you watched? Because that tells me okay, I have to keep creating new questions. Right? And that’s a great challenge for me because I’m always reading new questions, more challenging questions or wanting to explore different aspects because a lot of our community now that come on to be on and have that you know, apply. They’re very familiar with with our questions are very familiar with our content. Their relationships are informed by what they’ve seen on our videos because they say Oh, this is this kind of relationship is possible. This way of communicating is possible I can model that. So I don’t know if you’re getting better equipped if I’m getting better questions, but I’m definitely making newer ones.

george grombacher 19:54
Well, I think to some degree, it is a bit like a martial art having a conversation and Having a practice. So I think it’s like all those things. First time you do it, you try to have an uncomfortable conversation, you try to be vulnerable with somebody else, you’ve never done it before, it’s not gonna go awesome. It’s gonna go a lot better the fifth time you do it and the 100th time you do it certainly, definitely.

Topaz Adizes 20:15
And I think called Carl Jung has some kind of quote where he says that a good conversation or good exchange with another human being is like a chemical reaction, at least both parties changed. Right? Both are changed. And I’ve seen that so many times, in our conversations that we film on the ad, you know, it’s happened to me, I’ve seen it happen to other people all the time. And it’s really an honor to hold the space for that, and then offer it out to the book into people’s lives so they can learn how to do it themselves don’t know how to they can learn how to ride the bike themselves.

george grombacher 20:48
Yeah. Can anybody get good at this?

Topaz Adizes 20:52
I think so. Absolutely. I don’t think it’s very well. It’s funny, like, for me, I don’t think it’s very difficult. But then again, to me, it’s, I’m in the center of it. So maybe for me, it’s probably a natural instinct, inclination. But I would say for anybody who will be who this stuff resonates with, I would say, buy the book, get it and just start the practice. And like you just said it, you know, at the beginning, you’re not gonna be great at it. But when you first rode your bike, are you great at it, now, you just kept doing it. Now you can ride the bike with your do wheelies and not even hold the handlebars takes practice. Well, we practice we get good at. So let go be graceful in your exploration of your relationship with others don’t have an agenda of you. Because oftentimes, we have two people, one person really wants to play, and the other one does not. Right. But the other person enters into the conversation because their partner really wants to do it. And that’s all you need. And the partner who’s invited the other one into it, if they let go of your agenda, or your concerns that they have to respond in a certain way, the fact that they’re there, the fact that they’re participating is enough human, let them be them. And that is a bigger invitation to them to keep stepping forward and exploring and practicing.

Unknown Speaker 22:09
Right. I love it.

george grombacher 22:12
Well, topaz, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? Where can they get their copy of 12 questions for love a guide to intimate conversations and deeper relationships? And where can they explore all other things help us so

Topaz Adizes 22:25
Thanks though, the book is available everywhere and anywhere Amazon is wherever you get your audiobooks. I mean, it’s it’s all out there. It’s all our videos, all our content, or our products or our car games, is at the skin deep dark, calm, the skin deep calm, obviously have my own website, Topaz ds.com. But really, all our content, all our products, all the things we’re offering here is the skin deep.com That’s also on all the socials, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok and such. Excellent.

george grombacher 22:56
Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show, topaz, your appreciation share to the show the friend who also appreciates good ideas go to the skin deep.com And check out everything we’ve been talking about. And I know I was thinking about some of the finest conversationalist I know and what a joy that they are to be able to engage with and the power of a good question and how we can all certainly get better at it. And I think it’s so great that you have taken the time to create what you’ve created and essentially given people the training to be able to have these important conversations that too few of us have these days. So thank you again, Topaz. Thanks so much, George. Till next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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The Science of Hope with Libby Gill

On this show, we talked about increasing professional engagement, overall productivity and happiness with Libby Gill, an executive coach, speaker and best selling author.  Listen to find out how Libby thinks you can use the science of hope as a strategy in your own life!

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Episode Transcript

george grombacher 16:00
So if I want my iPhone, and my Tesla and my Bitcoin to work, we need to get the metal out of the ground.

Pierre Leveille 16:07
Absolutely. Without it, we cannot do it.

george grombacher 16:13
Why? Why is there a Why has production been going down.

Pierre Leveille 16:21
Because the large mines that are producing most of the copper in the world, the grades are going down slowly they’re going there, they’re arriving near the end of life. So and of life of mines in general means less production. And in the past, at least 15 years, the exploration expenditure for copper were pretty low, because the price of copper was low. And when the price is low, companies are tending to not invest more so much in exploration, which is what we see today. It’s it’s, it’s not the way to look at it. Because nobody 15 years ago was able to predict that there would be a so massive shortage, or it’s so massive demand coming. But in the past five years, or let’s say since the since 10 years, we have seen that more and more coming. And then the by the time you react start exploring and there’s more money than then ever that is putting in put it in expression at the moment for copper at least. And what we see is that the it takes time, it could take up to 2025 years between the time you find a deposit that it gets in production. So but but the year the time is counted. So it’s it’s very important to so you will see company reopening old mines, what it will push also, which is not bad, it will force to two, it will force to find a it will force to find ways of recalibrating customer, you know the metals, that will be more and more important.

george grombacher 18:07
So finding, okay, so for lack of a better term recycling metals that are just sitting around somewhere extremely important. Yeah. And then going and going back to historic minds that maybe for lack of technology, or just lack of will or reasons, but maybe now because there’s such a demand, there’s an appetite to go back to those.

Pierre Leveille 18:33
Yes, but there will be a lot of failures into that for many reasons. But the ones that will be in that will resume mining it’s just going to be a short term temporary solution. No it’s it’s not going to be you need to find deposit that will that will operate 50 years you know at least it’s 25 to 50 years at least and an old mind that you do in production in general it’s less than 10 years.

george grombacher 19:03
Got it. Oh there we go. Up here. People are ready for your difference making tip What do you have for them

Pierre Leveille 19:14
You mean an investment or

george grombacher 19:17
whatever you’re into, you’ve got so much life experience with raising a family and doing business all over the world and having your kids go to school in Africa so a tip on copper or whatever you’re into.

Pierre Leveille 19:34
But there’s two things I like to see and I was telling my children many times and I always said you know don’t focus on what will bring you specifically money don’t think of Getting Rich. Think of doing what you what you like, what you feel your your your your your, you know you have been born to do so use your most you skills, do what you like, do what you wet well, and good things will happen to you. And I can see them grow in their life. And I can tell you that this is what happens. And sometimes you have setback like I had recently. But if we do things properly, if we do things that we like, and we liked that project, we were very passionate about that project, not only me, all my team, and if we do things properly, if we do things correctly, good things will happen. And we will probably get the project back had to go forward or we will find another big project that will be the launch of a new era. So that’s my most important tip in life. Do what you like, do it with your best scale and do it well and good things will happen.

george grombacher 20:49
Pierre Leveille 21:03
Thank you. I was happy to be with you to today.

george grombacher 21:06
Damn, tell us the websites and where where people can connect and find you.

Pierre Leveille 21:13
The it’s Deep South resources.com. So pretty simple.

george grombacher 21:18
Perfect. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show up here your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciate good ideas, go to deep south resources, calm and learn all about what they’re working on and track their progress.

Pierre Leveille 21:32
Thanks. Thanks, have a nice day.

george grombacher 21:36
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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