This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #090 with Victoria’s Secret CEO Jan Singer in which she shares how she helps others manage their inner dialogue.


Michael Gervais: How do you manage and help others manage the inner dialogue. I know that you’re really connected to your inner dialogue so how do you work with it? When you hear a negative thought, when you feel something that doesn’t feel good, when your body temperature heats up and you’re not sure exactly why. How do you work with that?

Jan Singer: I take it all the way to the edge, unfortunately. So, I know the worst case scenario. I take it right to the wall so I can manage back.

Michael Gervais: Oh so you front load? You think of worst case scenario?

Jan Singer: Yeah. Just so I can go back from there so it’s all upside. I ask a lot of questions.
Somebody from my team will come in and say you know, “I don’t know about this. I don’t know about that. I’m worried about this. I am worried about that.”

And then I will say, “And then what? And I’ll say and then what. And then what will happen?”

And I just let them play it out. And then what will happen.

“Well, then I won’t get the job done in time.”

And then what will happen?

Give me the worst case scenario. Worst case scenario, we shut the whole company down? Is that happening? Nope. All right. So now let’s manage back.

Employees can spin. So sometimes it’s very calming to let them just talk it out. You know, talk it out, tell me what your worst fear is about this right now and therefore the worst fear in the bigger picture, take me through it.

They get it out and then they hear themselves speak and they go, “Oh wait a second like the possibility of that happening is pretty small.”

Or if it is possible, lets problem solve, like what would you do about it?

And sometimes just giving them the space to just talk it out, asking the questions that allow them to say it out loud, solves the problem, or they’ll tell me where they need my help.

I do that a lot at home too. I hear what if and then and then and I’m like so then what? You know so then what? So what’s the worst thing that could happen? Are we going to be homeless and even if we’re going to be homeless we’ll be really good at it so it’s okay.

Michael Gervais: Yeah so what you’re doing is inoculating the fear.

Jan Singer: Yes you’re right.

Michael Gervais: Yeah so you’re giving yourself this inoculation ahead of time saying, “Well if that actually does happen, which is a low probability, I’d still be fine.”


Listen to full podcast here.


Jan Singer is the Chief Executive Officer for Victoria's Secret Lingerie, the world’s most recognized and beloved intimate apparel company.