Seeing What Our Juries See And Winning Life’s Trials With Heather Hansen

Living our day to day lives can feel like a trial. Be it personally or professionally; we face our own set of juries whose opinions we tend to regard the most. These could be our clients, customers, or even our team members. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton seeks the wisdom of Heather Hansen about understanding what our juries see and how we can use that to our advantage. A lawyer, podcast host, and bestselling author with a psychology degree, Heather has the know-how on dealing with our jury, which she calls the Five Cs—from creating a message that directly speaks to them, to the work on body language that most resonates. She shares all of that with us while talking about the lessons she learned as a trial lawyer that leaders can also pick up. With her book, The Elegant Warrior, Heather then shows us some of the ways we can win life’s trials without losing ourselves in the process.

TTL 670 | Win Life's Trials


We have Heather Hansen here. Not only is she a lawyer, she is also the author of the bestselling book, The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself. We’re going to talk about all kinds of things that she learns as a trial lawyer that leaders could learn. This is going to be fascinating.

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Seeing What Our Juries See And Winning Life’s Trials With Heather Hansen

I am here with Heather Hansen, who is the author of the bestseller, The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself, which Publishers Weekly calls a template to achieving personal and career success. She’s also the host of her own podcast, The Elegant Warrior. She’s got a psychology degree. She spent years as an award-winning trial attorney and trained mediator. You’ve probably seen her everywhere and I’m excited to talk to her. Welcome, Heather.

Thank you so much, Diane. I’m excited to be here.

This is really interesting because I know that you and I are both interested in things that tie into what makes people do what they do and perception. What you deal with is what a jury sees, but that matters to what a leader sees. I want to get into that, but I want to get a little background on you. You have quite interesting things that you’ve done. You have a psychology degree and trial attorney. You’re a bit of an education junkie. Tell me what led to all that.

I majored in psychology in school with the intent of being a psychologist. I loved the psychology degree, but definitely also loved the opportunity to speak in front of a group. I decided that I would become a trial attorney instead and went immediately to law school. While in law school, I started working at a firm that I’m still a partner at and the firm defends doctors in medical malpractice cases. That’s what I’ve done for the past many years. I always tell everyone who asks me about the psychology degree, I don’t think there’s a better degree for the work that I do to understand what makes a doctor tick and the vulnerabilities of having been sued and to also understand why a patient might sue and how they’re feeling. Most importantly, to understand your jury. I think that psychology degree is of the utmost importance.

What I realized is that everyone has their juries. For you, Diane, it might be your audience or the people who read your book or the people that you’re teaching to all the times that you speak. For a leader, their jury on any given day could be their clients, their customers or their team members. What I do is I help people to identify their jury and then create a message that speaks directly to that jury and work on the body language, tone of voice and facial expressions that will most resonate with that jury.

I’ve had Albert Bandura and I’ve had the facial experts on the show. Paul Ekman has been on my show from Lie to Me.

You had Mark Bowden’s partner Tracey. You have run the gamut on the facial expressions and body language people.

I love to talk to those guys and I find it really interesting. I agree, a psychology degree is so important. I love to combine it with business and that’s why I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, but my PhD is in business. A lot of people sometimes think I’m a psychologist because of the cusp of what I study. Psychology comes into so many aspects and your background with doctors, I didn’t realize that’s who you defend because my husband is a doctor. I worked for a pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, forever. That’s an interesting group to represent. I think that’s all important and what I’d like to deal with is when you’re talking to people about finding what their customers and who their jury is, as you put it, isn’t it pretty much the same for leaders? Is it always clients, customers and team members or is it different for everybody?

It’s different every day. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I spend a lot of time with my nieces. If I’m taking care of them for the day, they’re my jury that day. They’re the people that I need to influence. For leaders, yes, it changes every day. Some days the leader is focused on, “What is my team doing? How does my team see the world and how can I help them to see the world the way I do?” Other days it might be, “What do my investors see? How do they see the world? How can I help them see the world the way that I do?” I spoke at a sales conference for a SavATree, which is a huge landscaping company. During the workshop part, we talked about who’s your jury.

It can even break down to the pet who won’t allow you in the house to get into the conversation, but it does change. Identifying who that is in any given moment is the first step to then getting to how do they see the world? What’s their perspective? Ideally, you choose jurors, whether that’s your team, your clients, your customers who share your perspective on life and on the product and on the world, but sometimes you don’t. In my case, that never happens. If you look at a jury in any of my cases, every single juror is a patient. They automatically see things from the perspective of the person who’s suing the doctor. I have never in all my years had a doctor on my jury.

It must be because they’re their peers, I thought.

That’s what they always say, but most doctors will admit that they can’t be fair. As a result of that, they get struck from the jury. They say, “It’d be very hard for me not to take this personally and to put my own sympathies for the doctor’s side.” Patients have similar perspectives. I think that you can either choose your jury and that’s ideal and that’s wonderful or you can convert them and help them to see things through your perspective. For the leaders that are reading, that’s your job. Your job is to be such a good advocate that you’re able to change the perspectives of the people who follow you.

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Do you watch the show Bull?

People ask me that all the time. I have watched the show. It’s unrealistic. I wish I had those kinds of resources available to me during jury selection. The majority of my cases I try in Philadelphia, though I do try in New York and New Jersey as well, we pick juries pretty quickly and don’t have that access. That’s the only chance I have to ask them questions and I know that you have an interest in curiosity and that’s one of my five Cs of an advocate. Asking questions is the best way to know your jury’s perspective so that you can change it if you have to.

Let’s go over the five Cs.

First is connection. You want to make a connection with the people in your jury. You want to listen to what it is that they’ve told you and then try to mimic that back to them in some ways so that you can connect with them. You also want to be able to see things through their perspective and there are exercises that can help us to do that. It’s a practice, but once you can see things through your jury’s perspective, you can start to connect with them.

You hit a couple of things there for me. I love that the first part of listening to what they tell you and mimic back because that’s what I tell everybody with the listening exercises. You have to be able to paraphrase what the other person has said. This is what I hear you’re telling me and then spit back whatever they just said to you in your own words so that you can show that it helps with empathy and understanding. I try to teach this to my students all the time because they love to copy and paste and put quotes around it and say they’ve done all this understanding. I won’t let them copy and paste their quotes. I won’t let them do it that way. I make them paraphrase everything and they hate that at first, sometimes. To me, that’s the only way I can tell that they’ve digested what it is that they’ve read and learned and are able to cite it properly.

Did you ever waitressed, Diane?

No, I haven’t.

I waitressed for many years and I got good tips. I read a study that showed that the waitresses who repeat back the customer’s order, get 74% higher tips. I think that people want to know that you hear them and that you’re trying to get it right. The way that you ask your students to paraphrase, if a juror during jury selection tells me that he has a hobby in woodworking and it’s an orthopedic case involving nails and hammers and saw on bones, I will make woodworking analogies to speak back to the jury.

You’re talking about seeing things through their perspective and that’s what my next book is. Perception is all about being able to see things from somebody else’s perspective. That’s hard for people. This is one way definitely to paraphrase and mimic back as you’d put it. If you tell them how you see it, sometimes that enlightens them so much. They’re like, “That’s not at all what I meant.” Let’s go onto the second one. I didn’t want to get onto the next one without saying that because you hit on something so critical with that.

You and I could talk for hours about the value of perspective and perception because it’s the basis of everything. I think what you see truly is what you get.

It ties in IQ, EQ and CQ, cultural question, curiosity question. It ties it all in for me and that’s why I’m fascinated by it.

TTL 670 | Win Life's Trials
Win Life’s Trials: Asking questions is the best way to know your jury’s perspective so that you can change it if you have to.


The next thing is compassion and one of the things that I always say is in my cases, there are times when I have to take away the patient’s story, but I work hard to never take away their dignity. We, lawyers, call the rooms where we prepare for, trial war rooms, and we call the stories that we tell about trials, war stories. You are a warrior when you step into the courtroom, but I still think that compassion has to be at the foundation of everything we do and we’re advocating,

To fall asleep at night, sometimes I can’t shut my brain off. I turn on an episode of The Practice.

I love The Practice. It’s always on when I was in law school and I loved it.

There’s an episode where Bobby’s arguing with a nurse. He is so argumentative and she said something about, “We don’t kill everybody who’s in pain,” for the guy with the kidney stone is crying about the pain. His argument was, “Are you equating cancer with a kidney stone?” He totally berates her on the stand. You can do that with people. You can take their point that’s maybe a valid good point and slam them in a way to make you look better and win what you’re trying to win. You win the battle and lose the war.

In that situation, Bobby was cross-examining a healthcare professional and because the jurors are patients, it’s a little bit easier for them to get angry at the healthcare professional. On my side, the jurors are patients so I am never going to attack the patient. One of the jurors might see themselves and say, “That’s absolutely right.” I think this is a Wayne Dyer quote, “I also believe that there are two ways to get the biggest building in town. One is to knock down everyone else’s building and the other is to build your own.” In my cases, I work hard on building my own case and supporting my client in the way that he or she advocates to the jury and work less hard. Not to say I don’t love cross-examination. In fact, it’s my favorite part of the case, cross-examining the other side’s expert because that’s less personal, but no matter what, I’m approaching it with compassion first.

Are these experts always sleazy as they make them seem?

Both sides are paid. I spoke about this in a keynote I gave because if the jury likes the patient, the patient is probably going to win. If the jury likes the doctor, the doctor is probably going to win. When it’s even, when the jury is torn, then it comes down to a battle of the experts. There’s often a lot of great fodder for cross-examination for those experts. When they travel around the United States testifying, you have their old testimony to use against them. These cases are all about and may leave a lot of evidence behind every time they step into a courtroom. It’s a lot of fun to cross-examine experts. Some of them take their job very seriously and are very much sticklers for the truth, but the majority on both sides give attorneys plenty to play with.

It’s hard to like certain ones on the stand. What comes to mind with doctors is always House. I loved House. They have these strong personalities. My husband is a plastic surgeon, so I imagine you’ve probably dealt with a lot of plastic surgery-type of cases and things like that. He has a great personality, but I’ve met a couple of other plastic surgeons who come across as maybe prima donna seeming. That’s going to be a hard thing to overcome for the jury’s going to automatically see a certain type of thing and react. How do you test that? Are you on the side that’s against the doctor?

I represent the doctors.

If you get the guy who comes in who’s that type, what advice do you give him?

There’s so much there. First of all, the thing that I want to point out because people are often shocked by this. There’s no correlation between negligence, which is a doctor making a true mistake and losses. There is none, which is a problem because it means good doctors are getting sued and bad doctors aren’t getting sued. The correlation is in how well they communicate. The arrogant doctors are more likely to get sued. I deal with the bad communicators most often. With that said, just because they’re a bad communicator doesn’t mean they’re arrogant. It often means that they’re more focused on the medicine or the surgery than they are on the relationship. What I encourage my doctors, and I talk about this in my book The Elegant Warrior, is I never would ask them to fake it until they make it.

I would never ask a doctor to go up there and act all sweet and cuddly because jurors are smart. They read body language and tone of voice and energy and they would hate that. What I do encourage the doctors to do is what I call show it until you grow it. If I have a doctor that is rough around the edges but extremely knowledgeable and has used that knowledge to make, be understanding of a particular area of medicine better in the world. I encourage him right at the beginning of my examination to start talking about that because as he or she shows something that they’re comfortable with and that they love and do for the good of mankind, truly, that grows and the jury starts to feed off of that. They see that enthusiasm, charisma, and the love of the patient and the love of the medicine, and then the jury starts to feed that back to the doctor. To answer your question, I really look for the thing inside each doctor that the jury can feed off of so that that can grow and they can make a connection.

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As you’re talking about this, it brings back all my years as a pharmaceutical rep. I’m thinking of the low EQ doctors, a lot of doctors that were pocket protector kids that got out of the whole world of socialization and because they were in books. A lot of times, they see themselves as always right. I would think they would be easy to irritate on the stand if you question their capabilities. Do you have any of them that lose it?

Absolutely. Usually, I know that ahead of time and so you try to resolve those cases, even if your experts are telling you everything’s right because the jury is not going to like it. We talked about doctors not liking to be questioned. I know of a doctor, a radiologist who missed a lump in an MRI, a mammogram and he was sued for it, and we resolved the case, but he could never go back to practicing. Every study, he’d go back and look at it again and look at it again. It’s hard for doctors because they have to be able to cut into the sternum, the chest bone or they have to be able to cut into the brain with some confidence that they’re going to do everything right or else they can’t do their job. To be questioned is sometimes dangerous. It’s a difficult thing for doctors.

I wonder how many of them have OCD or on the spectrum or some issue that makes them so great at what they do. The House character, for example, he’s definitely out there and I think that they represent them that way because it’s trying to show you that they are obsessed a bit, don’t you think?

Yeah. I think that in order to, especially those doctors who put ten years of their lives into their training and are super-specialized, there is a level of obsession. I remind people of this all the time. If I make a mistake in my day, my cases are often catastrophic, so a terrible mistake could be a multimillion-dollar mistake. If a doctor makes a mistake in their day, it could mean life and death and that is a huge weight on their shoulders. Anyone who thinks that it isn’t is wrong. Lawyers are called counselors for a reason. My psychology degree comes in great help to me in dealing with doctors who are wondering whether a mistake that they made could’ve caught someone their life. That’s not something that these doctors take lightly.

No, they don’t. It’s something that they look at very logically when I’ve talked to them. They try to keep themselves distanced from it and look at it from the outside, but it can be hard when you’re involved in it. Egos get bruised, I’m sure, when they have to go to court about it. Let’s go to the third C because I’m interested to see what else.

The next thing is creativity. There are so many ways that I use creativity in the courtroom and so many ways that your leaders can use creativity with their journeys. One of the ways that I talk about in some of my keynotes that I use creativity is female trial attorneys are less than 5% of trial attorneys. One of the many benefits of that is that my voice sounds different. One of the unfortunate realities of trial work is that jurors fall asleep. In almost every case, there’s at least one juror who falls asleep on a given day and it’s terrible but it’s understandable. This stuff can get complicated. After lunch and if we turn off the lights because they’re playing a video, we lose five of them when that happens.

Is it more men or women who fall asleep?

It doesn’t matter. Some of the jurors because they’re with us all day, they will work at night. They’re sleep-deprived and bored and sitting still.

It seems like men sleep better than women in my experience.

It varies, but I can tell you across the board when I speak, they wake up even if it’s just for a minute because my voice sounds different.

When I listen to the Bobby trial thing, anytime I fall asleep listening to that, it’s always this one woman that wakes me up. When I’m trying to fall asleep to it, there’s this one woman and it’s weird that you say that.

TTL 670 | Win Life's Trials
Win Life’s Trials: Show it until you grow it.


That’s probably off-putting but for me, it’s because my voice sounds different.

She has a nice voice. It just sounds different like you are saying.

I use that creatively. Normally, I lay the foundation and then get to my big crescendo question toward the end. When I find that the jurors are dozing off, I will often lead with my most important questions in case I lose them again. That’s one of the many ways I used creativity. Another way we’ve already talked about is in making those connections. Listening to what the jurors have told me during jury selection and then creatively coming up with analogies that will speak to those jurors. Your leaders can do the same, whether it’s in using their tone of voice and their body language to resonate with their juries of clients, customers or team members or whether it’s creating a message that best speaks to those people and using the right words. The choice of words in and of itself is important. Choosing the right words creatively that are best going to speak to your jury is important.

It reminds me of some of the conversations I’ve had on the show about what comes first between creativity and curiosity. The creativity experts all tell me that curiosity comes first in terms of you have to ask the questions to learn the answers to, to develop the innovation and the ideas and the creative solutions. A lot of that creativity is sparked by thinking, “Why this? Why not this? How can I?” As you’re talking about changing your tone and the different things that you do it, you reminded me of a teacher I had in grade school. I dedicated my last book to him. He was the most amazing algebra teacher I ever had. How exciting can you make algebra for you?

He would yell at the chalkboard. If it was like 2 + X equals 3Y or whatever the equation was and he’s trying to get rid of the two, he’d yell at the board. He’d go, “You, get off there,” and he’d scream at the board. He’d slam the board and then grabbed the trashcan and put it on his head or he’d walk into the little coat closet and he’d go, “I might as well be teaching from in the closet.” He’d do these crazy things, but it got you involved. You’re like, “This guy, what crazy things is he going to do next?” It reminds me of Alan Shore on Boston Legal. I think that we can all use a little bit of that to wake people up a little bit.

That teacher was using creativity to advocate. That’s exactly what he was doing. There are studies that show that surprise makes people far more attentive to you. If you’re giving a talk or teaching a class or giving a PowerPoint presentation to your team, if you can incorporate some surprise, and sometimes the surprise is in your tone of voice, your body language or in the messaging, that will wake up your jury or whoever you’re speaking to. In large part because the lizard part of our brain, the part of our brain that’s wondering whether someone’s out to get us a little bit afraid. That’s what that teacher was doing with you for sure. Yelling and putting this basket on his head, he was doing it exactly right. He is using creativity to keep you on your toes.

The funniest thing is this guy is a total introvert if he wasn’t in front of the class. He is a normal every day kind of guy that sat there and drank strained carrot juice for the rest of the day. Then he’d get on stage in front of people and he would come alive. I’m telling you, I’m great at algebra because of that guy. It probably led to a lot of what I’ve done in my life.

That’s an amazing teacher. I love to hear that. I talk to teachers about how they can use these tools to advocate their students because it makes such a huge difference in a kid’s life.

I wish he was still alive. He made it into his 90s. He was an amazing teacher and everything you’re talking about is important and creativity is huge. In the business world, to get people to be more creative, we’ve got to ask questions, “What can I do to my voice? What can I do to get attention?” You’re asking questions to get to that level of creativity. Let’s go to number four.

You’re feeding right into number four, which is curiosity. It’s funny that you say that curiosity comes first. I have an infographic on this that I use in my workshops in my work. The infographic is they’re all equal in a circle because they feed each other. For me, it’s not one before the other but they all work together. Curiosity is everything to a trial attorney. Many people have said to me, “I should have been a trial attorney. I’m good at arguing.” The truth of the matter is, I only argue for a very short time at the end of the case, during closing arguments. The rest of the trial, all I do is ask questions. I ask the questions of my clients and there are many ways to ask questions. You ask questions of yourself. I can ask questions to build my case and to help my client make a connection with the jury. I can ask questions to attack the other side if I’m crossing their experts. Curiosity and active listening to the answers is one of the most important tools of an advocate.

It’s part of making people feel comfortable with supplying those answers. Just because we ask questions doesn’t mean that that person is going to want to answer us. In the research I found, the majority of leaders felt like they inspired curiosity, but less than half of employees believed that they did. They may think that they’re asking questions and allowing people to answer questions in a comfortable way. My research found that fear, the voice in their head, their assumptions, technology and environment were the four things that kept them from being curious. That environment can be your boss or it could be your last boss or somebody in your past and you don’t even realize it as a leader, that they’re held back by something else. Even though you’re curious and you want to ask them questions, you don’t know what’s stopping them from their history, which is an important thing.

In my book, I talk about a woman named Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. She was the judge in the Larry Nassar case. He was the gymnast doctor who was accused of molesting all those young women. In my work as an anchor at the Law & Crime Network, I covered those hearings. I listened all day to those women who testified. It was very interesting to me because at the beginning, only about fifteen women intended to come forward and most of them didn’t want to use their names and then by the end, over a hundred women came forward and most of them did use their names. I attributed it in large part, which is why I wanted to interview her, to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Her question to the women as they came forward wasn’t, “Tell me what I need to know.” It wasn’t, “What happened to you? Tell me what happened to you.” It was, “Tell me what you want me to know.”

[bctt tweet=”When we communicate, we share perspectives. When we advocate, we change them. ” username=””]

For leaders, it is so important to ask questions that put the other person in the driver’s seat. That they can tell you what’s important to them. Instead of asking these closed questions that the person who is answering you tries to make you happy and make sure that they’re hitting the points that you want to hear, asking curious, open-ended questions like, “Tell me what you want me to know or/and what else?” which is another magic question. Those questions overcome some of the fear and environment and the other things that you found stood in the way of being curious.

It’s interesting because I’ve been listening a little to some of the Epstein things going on and who’s coming forward and who’s not and who feels comfortable sharing what has really happened to them. I love that question that she says, “And that what else?” I’ve talked to a couple of people on the show about how improv, using the “yes, and” to get people to explore. Have you ever taken an improv class?

I haven’t but I know the value of it. I have talked to some other speakers who have recommended it.

I did one. It was so much fun and I think that it could help every speaker just to get a few little tips. Comedy helps in so many different ways. Any speaking training is interesting, but if you’ve never taken an improv class, it’s fun. Let’s go on to number five.

We’re in the last C and in some ways this C is probably the most important, especially for the leaders and that is credibility. I cannot win my cases if the jury doesn’t find me credible, full stop, end of story. I understand the focus on trust in business and I think that’s lovely. It’s absolutely wonderful if you have trust in your business. It’s hard and we often fall short because trust takes time and you have to earn it. Credibility is something a little bit different and you can earn credibility much more quickly. I have to earn credibility. Some of my trials may take a day, others take a month, but in that amount of time, I don’t think it’s possible to establish trust between me and the jury, but I can establish credibility. The way that I do that is by making promises and keeping them, setting expectations and meeting them and doing that again and again. The secret sauce to establishing credibility quickly, especially for leaders is when you can’t meet an expectation or when you can’t keep a promise, you own it immediately.

This reminds me of all the sales training we had to under promise and over deliver. I meet so many people who do the exact opposite and I’m stunned by it. If they tell you, “I’ll get back to you this week. I’ll do something this time,” and then they don’t with no explanation. I think of somebody who is supposed to help me with something in January of 2019. In about June, he finally comes around and I’m like, “I did that last January when we were talking about it.” This is June. What planet do you live in?

It is so true and that is such a ding on his credibility. I give exactly that as an example. If you say you’re going to get something to someone by Friday, get it to them by Friday. If you can’t, if there was some life event or weather problem, then own it. That builds credibility so quickly because you’re willing to admit that you are not perfect, but you know that you didn’t meet up to the expectation and then also be willing to fix it.

Not only that, but they’ll say they want to be the one everybody likes. They’ll say, “We can do that. We’ll do that,” and then they never do it. They say yes to everybody on the phone or in a meeting and nothing happens because they’re conflicting, the two people that they’re saying yes to. How do you get leaders to realize that people buy-in and think, “I’m going to get this. This is going to happen,” and they’re casually going at and going to placate them?

I think so much of this goes back to your next book, which is perception and perspective. Leaders understand that people buy-in when they start seeing it from those people’s perspective. MRIs of the brain show that as you gain power, you lose the ability to see things through other’s perspectives. I think that sometimes my greatest gift is in helping my clients, whether it’s a doctor who’s testifying to a jury to see things from the jury’s perspective or a CEO who’s about to go in front of his team and talk about layoffs to see things from that team’s perspective. Once they do that and do it well, then they see that this expectation that they set is real to the people sitting in those chairs. This promise that they made is real to the people they made that promise to. I think it begins there.

Why do you think that they lose that ability? What does power do to people?

It’s a number of things. As you become more powerful, you feel like you don’t have time to always see things through other’s perspectives and you also don’t need to. It goes back again to the lizard brain. Women for example, in the past we have always been subject to a man’s whims and needed men to protect us. That’s one of the reasons that studies show we are better at seeing things through other’s perspectives because we had to survive. As you become more powerful, you don’t need to do that as much to survive so you lose that skill. The other thing is that if you’re surrounded by yes people, you think everyone shares your perspective and I see that a lot.

TTL 670 | Win Life's Trials
Win Life’s Trials: Curiosity and active listening to the answers is one of the most important tools of an advocate.


Travis Bradberry has posted a lot that CEOs have lower levels of emotional intelligence and I think a lot of what they’re pointing at there is you get promoted at the beginning and you’re around a lot of people. You’re dealing with a lot of things, but then you get more isolated, you’re dealing with more financial, more yes men, yes women type of things and you can get distanced from reality, right?

Yes, without a doubt. I remember reading about one of the presidents who said that his wife kept him from seeing things. She took him down and put him in his place every once in a while. He said, “You’ve got to see things from the perspective of the people who voted for you.” I think that you’re 100% correct. When you live in an ivory tower, all you see is what you see from that tower.

I had a very famous cousin. His name was D. Ralph Millard and he wrote all the books my husband had to read to learn how to do cleft palates. He was voted one of the Most Influential Plastic Surgeons of the Millennium. He was a huge deal in that realm. I remember talking to his wife on the phone one time and he was in his 80s at that time, and we were going to a society dedicated to him. That’s how important this guy was. I’m like, “Do you know if Uncle Ralph is going to be there?” She was like, “That idiot. He can’t find his whatever. Who knows where he is?” She was so funny because she was super smart too. Talk about bringing him down to earth. I’ll never forget it because as smart as he was, she took him and put him back in his place.

It’s to show him that he’s an equal and that we all have our areas where we shine. As much as he is famous for his knowledge, expertise, skill and technique, I’m sure his wife was much better at bringing up their kids or organization. We all have our things. When you start to think that your thing is the only thing, that’s very dangerous to these five Cs and your leadership skills.

I always tease my husband, “I’m going to start saying that about you if you don’t show up,” because there’s always somebody who’s going to bring you down to earth. All the things that you talk about are so helpful to leaders and you speak it in all these groups. Now that I realized you do more with the medical field, I was trying to figure out why you run the Dr. Oz show. That explains it. Is that what you talked about on the show?

The TV work I do is mostly as a legal analyst. On Dr. Oz, I’ve talked about a number of different cases in the news including the Lori Loughlin situation. He’s not doing quite a bit of criminal stuff on his show. The same thing with the stuff I do on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. It’s just the legal story of the day. Though on those occasions where it’s a medical malpractice case, I enjoy it because I do think that it’s an important thing. We all go to the doctor and to have a better understanding of that relationship and how important it is that we advocate for ourselves as patients. If I can add to that discussion, I would love the chance to do it.

What do you think of Lori Loughlin? I’m curious about what you said. They had a Bull episode that was a play on that whole thing. They had a guy on trial for his father bribing the school and now his father is dead and now they were suing him because he shouldn’t have been in the school in the first place. I thought it was interesting.

It’s so nuts because jurors watch those shows and they’re influenced by it. It’s funny because she and her husband, and it’s both of them, they keep rejecting the opportunity to enter a plea. Every time they do and I’m asked to talk about it on TV, I say, “I don’t know.” I would hope that their legal advisors are advising them to take the plea, but you can’t make a client do it if they feel very strongly about the principle behind their case. I have had more than one client try a dangerous case and come to regret it on principle and that might be what’s going on here. I think that they feel very strongly that this is the way things were done and they didn’t consider it a bribe and I think that’s going to be part of their defense.

The other thing that I wonder, and this is just me speculating, is that if one, either he or she has agreed to take the fall for the other at trial because they’re sharing attorneys, which is unusual. I would have recommended that they have separate representation. I’m trying to think of ways where this could make sense and those are the only ways that I can come up with. If she had taken a deal similar to Felicity Huffman’s, she would’ve done more time, but she would be close to the end of her time maybe.

That would’ve probably been your suggestion for her if you were advising her?


[bctt tweet=”Overcome the curse of knowledge and talk to people on the level that they can understand. ” username=””]

I wonder if she is sorry.

Maybe they’ve lived in an ivory tower too long.

You must deal with that a lot. A lot of doctors are saying, “Nope, I want to fight this,” when you know that the best thing would be not to.

It does happen, but it’s the same way that I would teach anyone to deal with that and that is with evidence. We prove everything with evidence. I will show the doctor evidence of areas where we have concerns. The things in the medical records. Medical records are rife with things that could have been said better. Things are the medical records that might support the other side or experts that we’ve hired who see these concerns. I’ll start to pile up the evidence in the hopes that I can get the doctor.

It’s interesting in that way because in those situations it’s almost like I’m acting like the patient’s attorney. I’m like, “Look at this and look at this.” Sometimes it does make it hard, though it helps me to see things from their perspective and then to know how to defend it. What I’m doing in that situation is to say this is all the evidence that the other side is going to present and hopefully over time, and we do have some time to have these discussions about two years from the day a case is filed to the day that it goes to trial. In those two years, we build a relationship and they start to find me credible. Ideally, they start to trust me and then I can present them with the evidence and have a real conversation about what is it that they want out of this trial?

I know certain doctors have a lot more insurance like an OB-GYN or whatever. They have trailing insurance or all these things because of the baby and things they have to cover. Is it stacked against doctors? Does it make it harder for doctors or people to want to become doctors now?

Yes, especially the OB-GYNs, nurses and midwives too. They have such a place in my heart because they’re not the doctors that are paid the big bucks. They do this for the love of mothers and the love of delivering babies. When there’s a problem with a baby, it’s a catastrophic problem. It’s almost impossible to defend because think of the jurors looking at this baby who is going to need a lifetime of care, is brain-damaged and has a feeding tube, and their muscles are clenched and contracted, and then I’ve got to come in and start arguing the medicine and science. That’s a difficult case to defend and their insurance premiums are sky-high. In fact, I was on a task force in Philadelphia years ago because we were losing a lot of our OB-GYNs. They were leaving, especially Philadelphia, because it’s a tough venue for doctors. There was going to be nobody left to deliver babies.

Having had two children, I’m wondering how much the nurse comes into play because the nurse does almost everything the doctor basically touches.

First of all, juries love nurses because they know that they’re doing their best and they don’t see them as these highly compensated people like they see the doctors, but it’s a team. It’s an interesting thing because part of the team is the patient. One of the things that my OB-GYN struggle with is that they’ll talk to these young mothers about nutrition and then they’ll see the young mother in the waiting room with a Big Gulp Slurpee. That is going to predispose them to pregestational diabetes, which is going to make the delivery difficult. Sometimes we’ll do what we call a team letter, which we send a letter to the patient saying, “You’re a part of this team too. I can’t do this without you.” Every member of the team has to be present and paying attention and listening and using all of these five Cs in order for all of us to have the best healthcare possible.

In addition to what you said about having psychology be such an important aspect of what we can incorporate with what we’ve learned, I think sales is a big part of what helps me in my day. As you’re talking to me about all of this, you’re painting a picture in the jury’s mind and that’s what leaders have to do. When you’re selling your employees on an idea or you’re talking to shareholders or whoever you’re talking to, you would just have to have this skill of being able to be persuasive and that requires some sales skills. Have you ever been in sales?

I sell to juries every day, I say that all the time. Now I’m working with sales teams. I’m sure you’ve read To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink. It’s a brilliant book because every day everyone is selling. As a waitress, I would sell the upsell on the mudslide. I worked at The Gap for a while in high school as well. In that aspect, I was in sales, but I’ve not been in sales in my professional career since graduating law school, except for the fact that sometimes I’m selling my case to the jury. Sometimes I’m selling a settlement to my insurance company. Sometimes I’m selling an objection to a judge. You’re right, everybody is selling every day and that’s what advocating is. I always say that when we communicate, we share perspectives. When we advocate, we change them and that’s what selling is.

TTL 670 | Win Life's Trials
The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself

Daniel Pink’s book is great. I used his book Drive quite a bit in my work in curiosity, but as you’re talking about this and who are salespeople and who aren’t, doctors are salespeople and they’re entrepreneurs. I was in a meeting with a doctor who is an MD. He had an MBA and a JD. I thought, “This guy’s got some bright spots in his life.” He’s very smart and we were talking about how little training they give to doctors in the business aspect. I just find that stunning. A lot of these guys are taken in by their office managers and they lose so much money. As the patient aspect though, you don’t look at a doctor as a business either. You must deal with a lot of that in terms of perception, of how they’re viewed. Is it a business? Are you customers? Does that come up at all?

It comes up and a lot of times, patients’ attorneys will try to use that to drive some emotion against the doctor. They are saying, “How much did you make for this procedure,” especially in those cases where they say that the procedure was unnecessary. Sometimes they sue saying, “How much did you make for this procedure?” and they try to make it all about the money. What they don’t understand is exactly what you said. Doctors don’t tend to be good business people and they don’t always know even how much they make. Someone else is usually handling that part of the practice. I do think that doctors are selling and most of the time it’s more like selling you trying to get the patient to be compliant. It’s like, “Take this medication. Follow this diet.” You’re selling that medication, you’re selling that diet, but I definitely see where patients’ attorneys will turn that around and try to make everything about the dollar. If they’re successful, that drives anger against the doctor, which then drives verdict numbers high.

In a lot of that, patients see that, how much did they make? I heard that a lot when I worked for pharmaceutical sales, “Look how much this pill costs.” They don’t look at how many years of R&D expenses, how much overhead, and how much training did it take to get there that they had to pay for. There’s so much that shapes and how much time do you have to even paint that picture when you’re a lawyer? It’s probably not a lot.

None, and at some point, the judge will say it’s irrelevant. If I start going into all the costs that it takes to deliver a baby and remember, we’ll go back to the point that jurors fall asleep. Their eyes will start to glaze over and they’re like, “Why are you talking about this right now?” Especially when we get to my case, because I go second. The patient’s attorney goes first because they have burden of proof. By the time they get to me, I need to get in and get out. I need to have done a lot of my work on cross-examination and make my points as quickly, concisely and clearly as I can to sway the jury to my side.

I would assume most settle without going to trial, but if they go to trial, how long are these trials?

It depends. I’ve had cases that have been one day, that’s the exception. I’d say that the majority are at least a week and I’ve had some cases as long as six weeks. Especially when they’re brain damaged baby cases, you’ve got not only the defendant doctor and the expert against them but also a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric radiologist, a life care planner and these poor jurors, all kinds of people. One of the things I work with my clients now is on overcoming the curse of knowledge and talking to people on the level that they can understand. That’s something I work a lot on in the courtroom as well because when we’re hearing from pediatric neurologists or pediatric radiologists about what they see on these studies, it gets complicated and hard. I have the utmost respect for my jurors for powering through that.

That’s brutal, I’m sure. There are going to be doctors who have done things they probably shouldn’t have done like Michael Jackson’s doctor or whatever. Would you take something like that? Would that be something you’d even be interested in representing? I know everybody deserves representation, innocent or guilty. Would that be a challenge or something you would just avoid?

I don’t have the choice. We’re assigned the cases by the insurance company. I have a little bit of a different situation. I have built strong relationships with the doctors that I represent. They ask the insurance company to assign me and because of those relationships, if I have a case that comes in, but I see immediately there’s a problem, I’ll sit down and talk to the doctor right away showing them the evidence where this is a case that should resolve. My job is to try to see the case resolved. The other thing that happens that a lot of people don’t realize maybe is that a lot of times in those bad cases, we’ve made an offer to settle the case and the patient’s attorney wants more, sometimes to the point of piggishness. Sometimes we are trying this case to let the jury decide the number, knowing that chances are we are not going to win, but we might lose less than what we’ve already offered.

I’m sure in a lot of cases, everybody’s not all innocent or all guilty. It’s got to be a fascinating thing you do. I love how you’ve taken what you’ve done and helped leaders because we can learn so much from outside of our own industry from people who have different experiences. I’ve been listening to the book Range on audiobook and that was a great one in terms of how we can be better from the variety of experiences and outlooks and perceptions that we utilize. A lot of people are probably fascinated to get your book, The Elegant Warrior, and to find out more about you. Is there some link or something that you can share?

The best way to find out more about me is on my website If you go on there and you sign up on the pop-up, you’ll get a free webinar on how to pick people. If you like Bull, you’ll like this webinar because it’s all lessons from jury selection on how to choose babysitters, partners, customers, baristas or whatever your choices might be.

This was so much fun, Heather. Thank you so much for being on the show.

I enjoyed the show and thank you for all you do.


I’d like to thank Heather for being my guest. What a fascinating discussion and she and I would be able to continue that for hours because we have so much that we like in common. It would have been so much fun. I want to make sure if you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at I hope you take some time to check it out. You can also find out more about Cracking the Curiosity Code and the Curiosity Code Index there or you can go right to for that information. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Heather Hansen

TTL 670 | Win Life's TrialsHeather Hansen is the author the bestseller The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself, which Publishers Weekly calls a “template to achieving personal and career success.” She is the host of The Elegant Warrior Podcast. Heather has a psychology degree and has spent twenty years as an award-winning trial attorney and trained mediator. She has appeared on NBC, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and Sirius Radio. Heather has presented her proprietary tools to help people advocate for their ideas in Kuwait, Ireland, Mexico and throughout the United States. Heather’s keynote speeches are interactive, energetic, compelling and full of actionable tools that her audiences can use the same day. Her “5 Cs of An Advocate” have helped thousands of audience members become better leaders, marketers and salespeople.

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