A Cool Head and a Hot Heart

Interview with Laura Liswood

Laura Liswood
Aaron Saavedra

This morning we had the chance to interview Laura Liswood who is, among many things, an accomplished lawyer, author, and the Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. At the start of the interview, I was nervous. I felt a bit under-qualified to be interviewing such an accomplished and revered person. Thankfully, she immediately put me at ease with her warmth and kind disposition. Once our interview began, it felt as if she wanted to have a discussion with the class rather than purely an interview, and it was clear that she was truly interested in what we thought and how we felt.

Something that struck me was when she began discussing the relativity of happiness. She described to us an image she saw of Michael Phelps winning a gold medal at the Olympics, and how he appeared to be thrilled to have won. Next to him were both the silver and bronze medal winners. The person in second place looked disappointed, as if they were upset that they did not get first place, but the swimmer who won the bronze medal was by far the happiest of the three, joyful that they placed in the top three. This idea that happiness is relative is extremely true, and I appreciated that she emphasized its importance. I feel that, especially during a time like this, we must all try to find the joy in the situations that we are in.

Kahlan asks a question
Kahlan Tervalon

This interview was so real. There is really no other way to describe it. At 8:00AM PST we had the honor of interviewing Laura Liswood. I had prepared for the interview and was ready to ask questions and get answers. I had no idea that it was going to be so much more than that. I have not interviewed many people so I didn’t have any clear expectations and it sort of escaped my mind that the people we are interviewing are human too.

One of the first thing’s I noticed about Laura Liswood was her humanity; her cat even joined the call at one point! But what struck me the most was that she used our names and seemed to converse with us in a way I almost couldn’t comprehend. Out of all the amazing things she said during our hour together, the thing that struck me the most was, “You don’t know what your moral compass is until it’s tested, and I just tested yours.” She said this in response to an answer one of my classmates gave her after she asked him a question. She was so real and understanding. I wish we had more time with her.

Oliver Mensinger

Our interview with Laura Liswood was probably my favorite interview yet. What I really loved was that she interacted with everyone throughout the interview and that she connected with everybody, whether they asked a question or not. She said everyone’s names when she was talking to them and she gave long, satisfying answers to our questions. She talked about challenging authority, stepping out of your comfort zone, and expressing yourself to others in multiple ways. I can now see why our teacher Ward admires her so much. If we didn’t have any time constraints, we could have talked to her all day. It was so much fun. She was very vulnerable and real with all of us, and I have great respect for her and the work she has done.

Savannah Cambell

This morning, at a bright and early hour, we got the opportunity to interview Laura Liswood. For some of us, it was hard to wake up early and jump on to a call and be ready to attend and learn. Personally, I was very excited about this interview no matter the hour because we heard that she was a fiery and passionate person. What better experience than to learn from someone who cares deeply about what they do and works to inspire others. We were grateful that Laura Liswood took the time to make connections with us.

During the interview, something that Laura said that struck me was the concept of a “moral compass.” She stated that you don’t know what your moral compass is until it’s tested. This made me sit back and think, you don’t know how you will respond until you are put in a situation. I think that this idea is very interesting. I used to think that most people know their morals from their experiences growing up and their personal beliefs, but what you say and what you actually do are two very different things. It made me question, “Do I really know my morals if they haven’t been tested? What is my true moral compass?”

Sara Bautista

This morning we woke up bright and early at 7:00 to get ready for our interview with Laura Liswood, the Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. Throughout our interview, I was struck by her perspicuity and strength of character.

Video call with Laura Liswood

It may sound silly, but something I enjoy is having an example that accurately exemplifies the point being made. I found that she would often do this when answering our questions. It was thought provoking and I found it added spice to the interview. When she spoke to us about the benefits of equality between men and women, we learned how even a small thing like providing paternity leave can shift the boundaries of gender roles. While a small modification in overall policy, it allows men to experience a role that is generally associated with women, and breaks down the hard line of childcare being only a woman’s job.

A topic brought up was the difference between momentary and lasting happiness. She spoke about a study that looked at the relative happiness of individuals. An example of this was found in observing the top three Olympic swimmers, or the “swimmer winners.” Michael Phelps, in first place was thrilled, while the person in second was less than overjoyed. Meanwhile, the person in third place was the happiest of all of them, glad to have even placed. She further analyzed the comparative nature of our happiness. She brought up a Harvard study showing that 52% of people would rather make 50K while their neighbors made 25K, instead of making 100K while their neighbors made 200K. The revelation that much of our happiness is relative to our perception of the happiness and success of those around us is something that I will continue to think about.

Her comment about the qualities of a great leader was memorable. She said they have the same qualities that Vivaldi said a good composer has, “A cool head and a hot heart.” She herself was an example of this. 

What truly set this interview apart from the others was that she turned our questions back on us, asking us questions of her own. She was attentive to our responses and asked the seniors about what they had learned from their South Africa trip. I found the reciprocal nature of her interview refreshing. She took care to learn and remember our names, which softened her straightforward nature. Not only that, but her cat came to say hi, which was the perfect touch to a wonderful interview.