Dec. 27, 2022

Susan Drumm Explores Neural Pathways and Music Ep. 101

Susan Drumm Explores Neural Pathways and Music Ep. 101

Hi, I’m Susan, CEO and Leadership Coach

Change can be scary. Or it can be an opportunity. The enlightened leader capitalizes on opportunities in a way that serves humanity.

My mission is to help visionary leaders find their path to Enlightened Leadership – their unique leadership growth path and the blind spots that could get in the way.

Sometimes, that means making a radical, necessary change that others may view as “crazy.”

For me, this moment of radical change happened at age 30, when I decided to take a hiatus from my corporate career to get a Master’s degree in acting from the London School of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Here I was, a graduate from Harvard Law School, with a successful career in business, having worked for companies like GE/NBC, and I hit pause on my momentum to pursue… an advanced degree in acting?

I didn’t know what lay ahead of me, but I followed my gut anyway (despite plenty of people telling me I was crazy).

It turned out to be one of the best career moves I’ve ever made. Because it gave me the tools to help leaders make a meaningful difference in the world.

I learned fundamental lessons about authenticity, being present, connecting with others, and dealing with your inner critic.

Eventually, these lessons gave me a unique take on how to be an effective leader.

And as a result, these lessons led me to a coaching path, working with billionaire CEOs, prominent Fortune 50 executive teams, and incredible entrepreneurs who set out to disrupt their marketplace.

Bottom line?

My most radical decisions helped me become someone who can coach others to make their own gutsy (but crucial) decisions.

Where to find Suzan Drumm

Website: www.susandrumm.com


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Transcript
Susan Drumm:

And what I wanted to get to is, let's see if we can uncover the liability, which is the perspective that's not serving you the underlying background music. Use music as a way for you to identify when you're on the, I call it the Eight Lane Highway to Hell, meaning that's the neural pathway that's been grooved and grooved and grooved, and how can we use music to create a new neural pathway and really lock that in in a way with that superpower of music.

Natasha Miller:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit these in a myriad of other topics? Will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. My book, RELENTLESS is now available everywhere. Books can be bought online, including Amazon and BarnesAndNoble.com. Try your local indie bookstore too, and if they don't have it, they can order it. To them, the reviews are streaming in, and I'm so thankful for the positive feedback as well as hearing from people that my memoir has impacted them positively. It is not enough to be resilient. You have to be RELENTLESS. You can go to the therelentlessbook.com for more information. Thank you so much. Susan Drum is the founder and CEO of Meritage leadership. She graduated with a law degree from Harvard and a master's in acting from the London School of Music and Dramatic Arts. She is the author of The Leader's Playlist, and we talked about what led her to writing the book, how Music Can Impact an Entrepreneur's Neuro Pathways for Good, and how she's planning to scale her business. Now, let's get right into it.

Susan Drumm:

What we do is focus on designing programs for senior leadership and the next level down rising star programs, as well as C-Suite teamwork and have individual coaching programs. So I tend to work where I'm designing something based on. The strategic imperatives of the company and what needs to happen in terms of leadership growth, and also how well is the senior team performing and how well are they gelling and how well is collaboration happening and is everyone in sync and helping them work on that and get on the same page to be the high performing team they need to be.

Natasha Miller:

How are your clients finding you or vice versa?

Susan Drumm:

Most of the time it's through word of mouth. Although now that my book is launched, it's coming a lot more from the podcast that I do, the Enlightened Executive, the book, all the material that we've started to put out. So I think in the past it was all word of mouth, and now that's shifting as well based on the initiatives that we have going.

Natasha Miller:

And what led you to writing the book? The Leaders playlist.

Susan Drumm:

Well, I knew I wanted to write a book because I wanted to put a piece of thought leadership out, and I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but I didn't know exactly what angle I wanted to take for a while because there's so many leadership books out there that just pretty much say the same thing, and I did not want to do yet another book like that. And so it was very important to me to create a piece of thought leadership and something that was different in the marketplace that had not been approach. That's on one side. That was an intention, but honestly, part of why I wrote it is it's a process that worked for me and the use of music to be able to shift state, but also build new neural pathways is what helped get me through a really difficult time. And I started that as an entry point and kept using it to dig further down.

Natasha Miller:

Tell me more about that. As you know, I'm a musician and I come that vantage point from a different place, because that's what I was born to do. That's what I've always done. I had no idea I was gonna ever have this other business. But what does it mean to you and what neural pathways have you reforged or forged?

Susan Drumm:

Yeah, so as I studied more about the impacts of music on the brain, they're quite profound. They allow those neural pathways to form more quickly and to stick. And you think about how music will be. Listen to a song that you remember from your teenage years, and it'll take you right back there. To the time and place. How does music have that ability to do that? How does music have the ability to be used with Alzheimer's patients who are unresponsive and all of a sudden they come alive? That's the part that really got me curious because I knew it had an impact on me, but I thought, well, maybe it's just me and I really like music and that was just my mode. But that's when I started trying it out with clients to look at what are sort. Underlying core beliefs or childhood wounds. And so the book really has two parts. So when I say that is it's looking at your leadership effectiveness is a direct impact as well based on things that could have happened to you long ago. It's a perspective that you carry with you, and in some cases that's a superpower. But I've also seen in doing this work now for two decades in leadership development, that it comes with also some liabilities. And what I wanted to get to is, let's see if we can uncover the liability, which is the perspective that's not serving you the underlying background music. Use music as a way for you to identify when you're on the, I call it the Eight Lane Highway meaning that's the neural pathway that's been grooved and grooved and grooved, and how can we use music to create a new neural pathway and really lock that in, in a way with that superpower of music.

Natasha Miller:

What types of music do you have?

Susan Drumm:

Like specific genres or actual specific tracks? I have some examples, but because music is so, how it touches you is different than how it touches me.

Natasha Miller:

Absolutely.

Susan Drumm:

So in reality, in the book, I go through the seven step process and you select the music. Based on the emotional state, it gets you in and we identify what's that emotional state? What is the new playlist title, what is the emotional state you most want to be in? That is the counterbalance to the old neural pathway of the old belief. And so how we create that, for some people it's rap. For some people it's classical, right? And it's really what does the music do to you?

Natasha Miller:

Right. I was just thinking about that. If you. Just about any person what their favorite band is, they will probably select a band from the years of like 15 to 21. Right. That they listen to during that time period. And that genre or that time period of music is probably what they, in their thirties and their forties and their fifties are gonna go back to because it is such a nostalgic thing, similar to scent and I find it pretty amazing. And interestingly enough, as a musician, I used to be interviewed all the time as a jazz vocalist, and people would say, who are your inspirations? And when I say Bonnie rate, people that are have nothing like the police, they're like, "Wait, what does?" yeah, well, do you want me to make something up or do you want me to tell you the truth?

Susan Drumm:

Yeah.

Natasha Miller:

Ok. So about the book, how are you leveraging it and what are your goals with the.

Susan Drumm:

So the book to some degree is to attract a community of leaders and entrepreneurs who are interested in this idea of enlightened leadership. Right? And that's why I have this podcast, the Enlightened Executive, because I really believe sort of one person at a time, if we start to heal some of these old perspectives and triggers, we're gonna show up so much better. And we're gonna be committed more to a meaningful mission outside ourselves versus actually feeding more egoic type wounds. So that's my main mission. I think post pandemic people are hurting. I mean, you look at the road rage, you look at the levelings anxiety, you look at the sort of divisiveness that we have, it's scary. It scares. In a way that I've never been scared before of that. And so I guess this is my way of trying to offer a solution that is accessible to all. That is a way for people to get cognizant of how do they take control of sort of these old patterns that don't serve them anymore and turn them in personally. In terms of my business, I'm hoping to transition a bit more to digital. So, so much of what I do is in-person and the coaches I use, it's very like labor intensive and one-to-one, they're a group. Obviously there's team sessions and, but very bespoke and while I like that, It's not scalable and it's certainly not scalable on the level of message that I wanna get out to the world. So now it's, I still am gonna keep some of that. I'm not moving away entirely, but I wanna build up this side of the business because that's where I feel like it could have a bigger impact. And I just see a need and I'm trying to fill it the best way I know.

Natasha Miller:

Yeah, a much, yeah, greater reach. You can reach people all over the world at the same time versus humanly taking a plane, which we can't remove the human touch completely, but I agree. This is the way the world is going. It's the way the world was shown to us as being available to us.

Susan Drumm:

Yes.

Natasha Miller:

One of the silver slices of aligning, I couldn't call the pandemic. A complete silver lining. So you've gone from getting a law degree. To running a business, to getting a master's in acting? What is your next big leap?

Susan Drumm:

I think I'm probably gonna be doing a lot more speaking and I think actually what's going to happen is part of the work we're doing is gonna move beyond leadership. When I wrote my book, there's enough material there for two books, and we worked with the publisher to craft. The message that was specific to leadership, but there's a whole nother section which talks about the outcomes in my personal life and me searching for my partner, which I'm using the music now to draw in.

Natasha Miller:

So wait a minute, spoil alert. Did you find a partner or are you using the music to dis. Oh boy.

Susan Drumm:

Yes. It's work, exactly. Work in progress. I'm thinking, okay, if this works in a leader, Capacity, how can I use it to attract my life partner? And there's a couple different interesting. Pieces to this because the part that didn't make it into the book, there's definitely some personal aspects, but it was actually much closer to a memoir, similar to your amazing book and all that stuff. I want to tell that story cuz it's a powerful story and yet it's unfinished. Of course, we're always unfinished, so this is my work now is to see can I use this in this capacity similarly, so if I do move forward, I already have a title for the second book, which is gonna be the Soulmates playlist.

Natasha Miller:

Okay. Well I wish you luck on that and yeah.

Susan Drumm:

Thank you.

Natasha Miller:

Please let me know when it has all landed and.

Susan Drumm:

Yeah.

Natasha Miller:

It's exciting. Have you ever thought that you should write a book? That you should write the story of your life to help other people learn from your experience, please go to memoirsherpa.com and learn how I can help you write, figure out your publishing path and market your story, your memoir, to a best seller status. Tell me a little bit about the acting degree, and of course I'm going to assume that, that's really going to help you in a speaking career.

Susan Drumm:

Yes. It's really the reason I got into leadership development, which is interesting. So I went to law school and didn't end up practicing law, then went into business and strategy consulting and then went, worked for NBC in marketing and business development. But I always had an interest in acting and I got so fed up though with the corporate life and corporate, my own terrible managers at times that I decided. I just need a break from this and I'm really called to acting. That sounds amazing. And so think of it as like a sabbatical that ended up being a new career path. And I applied and got into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. So there's, as I look back on it, yes, there was the whole music component to this as well. So interesting that I've now 20 years later, drawn that in.

Natasha Miller:

And what is your instrument?

Susan Drumm:

Well, at the time it was voice. Just voice. I don't know. I the only instrument, my mom so wanted me to play an instrument because she said I had a musical ear like my dad. My dad played accordion, an organ and he was just incredible. I know I have some of that ability, but I was too flighty as a child and I tried basoon and guitar and organ and, but none of it stuck. And I wish I had listened to mom cuz I think

Natasha Miller:

But you're a singer.

Susan Drumm:

Yes, but singing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. But not at the level certainly that you did. And that's why when I did that program, I was much more in the drama side than the singing.

Natasha Miller:

Theater, mostly?

Susan Drumm:

Yes. Theater. Okay. Mostly it was Shakespeare Restoration Theater and Checkoff.

Natasha Miller:

Well, okay. That's amazing. So how much does that theatrical training lend itself to your ability to command a stage, craft your message, deliver it, and really let it sink into the audience?

Susan Drumm:

Yes, that ability to deal with the inner critic that I think you learn as an actor, that piece and really understanding it was there. I think the first time I went to drama schools when I first even thought there is something, this was back in 2001, so wasn't like mindset was a big conversation at the time. What people knew even about this idea of an inner critic. But that's where it was introduced to me. And as an actor, you really have to learn how to get a handle on that. And be able to also connect authentically. And that's the other piece I think that's been a signature, is this idea as an actor, like you really wanna be connecting and really authentic and who you are and how you're showing up. Yet as an actor, you're playing these different roles. Well, how do you do that authentically? And I think actors are really honed in the skill of shifting state, and that's why also related in this book is I'm using music to shift state and they hone that skill over and over. So if I'm gonna go out, on stage. I need to really get myself into the peak condition to be able to do that, to achieve the intention. I'm really looking to do.

Natasha Miller:

Great training. So back to your company, what does your team look like right now?

Susan Drumm:

So we've got three, well now four actually, I just brought somebody on, which is kind of exciting. Three core sort of support staff from all the internal operations. And then we have about 15 coaches that we use in the programs, and then some facilitators and some specialists that are a little bit more based on, do I need a specialist in this area for this program or not?

Natasha Miller:

Give an example of what a specialist might.

Susan Drumm:

It might be somebody particularly focused on innovation. Okay. And how do we create a mindset where people almost within a corporation, how do they have more of the entrepreneur mindset, right? Because we know our business is facing massive disruption. So we're gonna need to come up with some incredible ideas. Yet we're a larger company, how do we do that? Now, I don't only work for larger companies. That's just an example of where I would bring it in. There's also, yeah, I work a lot with private equity and they're portfolio companies, so they'll bring me in to look at, oh, we need to replace the CEO. How do we get them gelling more quickly?

Natasha Miller:

I'm sure you're a favorite for those when you're, you're like, give them the ax You all have to go.

Susan Drumm:

Great is a founder, but can't take it to the next level.

Natasha Miller:

So I mean, let's just talk about honesty there. That is something that probably all of us.

Susan Drumm:

Yes. Yes.

Natasha Miller:

We'll be facing if we're successful enough, right?

Susan Drumm:

Yes.

Natasha Miller:

To get to that next level. And what is your involvement in Meritage day to day?

Susan Drumm:

Well, I'm too much in the business. I'm gonna be honest.

Natasha Miller:

Yeah.

Susan Drumm:

That's one of my things I'm working on is I'm selling, I'm delivering some. I am-

Natasha Miller:

managing

Susan Drumm:

managing, although now I brought in a COO, a fractional COO. Good to help. And that has been, I do think this idea of having the right visionary mixed with an integrator is really important. And if I try to do all the roles as I scale, that's not good. And my skill is in visionary, so I need to. Kind of let go of the reins and bring someone else in that can handle that piece. So I think that's really important for a lot of entrepreneurs to see at what point do you do that and which aspect do you gravitate more towards and get that right partner in.

Natasha Miller:

I'd love to share this with you as it may inspire you, or it may just inform you. So yeah, my, I have a company that's 21 years old and I just, for the first time ever hired a full-time COO mind blown. He is amazing. And he's taking us to so many different levels that I could have, but I'm too tired. Okay. But I've also started this other completely different company, and guess what I've done, Susan? I've hired a fractional COO at the start.

Susan Drumm:

Nice.

Natasha Miller:

So at the very same moment, my 21 year old business has a COO for the first time. At the very same time, my new business has a COO and I really wanna see what that development can be. So I'm really excited and I'm really glad to have been able to share that with you.

Susan Drumm:

Yes, that is great. Yes. I can't wait to see what happens now that we're

Natasha Miller:

-me too. So you can wait to see what happens for me and I wanna see what happens with you and your relationship status.

Susan Drumm:

Yeah. Yes, yes. Maybe I'll have more space now to actually.

Natasha Miller:

That is probably Exactly. Here's the deal. The next book, hire a COO. Yes. So you can land your life partner.

Susan Drumm:

Yeah, exactly.

Natasha Miller:

Okay, so the last thing I wanna ask you is what are you focusing on? What is one of the biggest strategies for growth that you're focusing on to scale and grow meritage?

Susan Drumm:

How can we move from more bespoke type work and leadership development is very hard. It's not easily productized. How do I create a repeatable process that can be one to many that is the biggest conundrum and still have it be impactful because there's a lot of people out there like trying to do that, but it's sort of pretty watered down, and so threading that needle of really making it impactful while making it much more scalable and repeatable, that's not, I'm kraken.

Natasha Miller:

So I understand that for scale and growth, and that makes absolute sense. So your book is a lead generation tool, but how are you getting Meritage, this digital implementation and the book in front of people?

Susan Drumm:

Well, so the book is gonna come in where promoting this concept and the idea and then building, there's a masterclass that goes along with it. So that's my first piece into taking that initial lead magnet of the book, right? And saying, okay, you want more, then here's a masterclass that will walk you and help you through the process. And then from there I'm looking at, well, how do I take that now into using some of my coaches for more quick hit one-on-one coaching to get people aligned with their playlist and how they use that and implemented. And also thinking about a subpart that looks at what is, can we help you build your playlist? So some people are like, I don't know. Could you come and give me suggested songs as well? And so I'm thinking building out sort of a service to be able to do that for people to help create those playlists based on their titles and what they're trying to achieve with it. So those are sort of some of the funnels.

Natasha Miller:

I'm wondering how you fill the top of the funnel though. Is it digital marketing? Is it "Oh, got it." networking is it? What, how are you getting the masses at the top of the funnel?

Susan Drumm:

Yes.

Natasha Miller:

So that they can filter down right now.

Susan Drumm:

I mean, as you probably know, there's huge influencer networking element to this. It's partnering with people, it's meeting new influencers, it's getting on their podcasts, right? It's talking and really reaching out as this book launch to every single person I know, and I have never done such an endeavor where it is like this sort of concerted effort to go back through my life and kind of reconnect with all of these amazing people. It's been extraordinary, honestly. So there's that piece. I do have a PR firm that I hired to help and so hopefully some articles and things that are coming out. I looked into like the traditional PR, I'm not sure it's quite expensive, and you wonder, well, is the ROI really worth it? Kind of not sure and decided, well, I'm not ready to bite that off with everything else going on. So it's primarily the influencer grassroots effort right now for more. Go to the show notes where you're listening to this podcast. Wanna know more about me, go to my website OfficialNatashaMiller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast now. I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.