“Listen As You Teach” A Conversation With Rocky Rosen “The Cigarette Whisperer”
“One of my clients had a bone infection in her leg. She went from doctor to doctor and stood the risk of having her leg amputated. One doctor she saw told her there is nothing in medical science we can do to help you unless you stop smoking first. I am proud to say she still has both legs and is still smoke-free. How does one measure that as doing good work?”
I had the pleasure to interview Rocky Rosen. Rocky is considered by many to be America’s foremost expert on getting people free from cigarettes. Rocky was a 2-pack per day smoker for over 20 years, and had tried numerous ways to stop smoking, including: nicotine replacement therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, injections, aversion therapy, support groups. Although he was able to get some time off of cigarettes, eventually the urge to smoke would reappear, and Rocky would find that he was right back smoking as much as ever.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I smoked for over 20 years, having started at the age of 13. By the time I was in my early 20’s I had the worst cough of anyone you will ever meet. I began my mission to stop smoking when I was 22. I finally smoked my last cigarette just before turning 35. During those years I went to many programs, tried many gimmicks, even was chewing nicotine gum and smoking at the same time. My doctors were telling me if I didn’t quit I would probably never see 40, definitely would never see 50. How I finally got off cigarettes was by stopping trying to quit and teaching myself how to get free. This happened when I began to use my urges to smoke as the vehicle to stop smoking instead of always trying to fight, ignore or deny my urges. 3 years after I finally got free I had a friend ask me if I could help him stop smoking as well and I developed a positive, cognitive behavioral therapeutic approach to getting smokers free. Over the years I have helped many hundreds of smokers to get free as their personal stop smoking trainer.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company.
Two former clients, unbeknownst to them, one the wife of a studio executive and the other a well-known star, were in Europe chatting at a party on a balcony. This was in the late 90’s. They were joined by someone who was smoking at the time and offered them a cigarette. Both declined and as they continued to chat when the studio exec’s wife admitted she had about 3 months off cigarettes after having worked with a man in Los Angeles. The other one went — “Rocky Rosen?” and she said yes. Then the star said, “I stopped with him 6 months ago as well.” I always found that story very amusing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to emulate your career?
Don’t do it. Or do do it. But if you are going to do it always put your client’s needs first. To listen as you teach. To feel empathy as they struggle. To always be honest. I am a firm believer that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and an instant to ruin it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
While it is a 4-day program, I can help anyone get smoke-free in 72 hours without tricks, gimmicks, drugs, nicotine replacements, hypnosis or b.s. I always offer a free, no-pressure consultation that takes about 2 hours. I think I stand out because my clients know I am there for them 24/7. Not necessarily for the rest of their lives, but definitely for the rest of mine.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
According to the Centers of Disease Control, smoking is the single largest cause of premature deaths and preventable diseases and disabilities in the United States. I have seen miracles with some of the people I have worked with go from poor health to good health. For me there is nothing more fulfilling in my life than helping another — other than the joy my daughter brings me.
Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by the Foundation, or through your work there?
One of my clients had a bone infection in her leg. She went from doctor to doctor and stood the risk of having her leg amputated. One doctor she saw told her there is nothing in medical science we can do to help you unless you stop smoking first. I am proud to say she still has both legs and is still smoke-free. How does one measure that as doing good work?
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am going to be launching thecigarettewhisperer.com in about two months. This will be a platform that will make my services more readily available to anyone who wishes they could stop smoking.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The Practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy by Dr. Albert Ellis, PhD. It helped me get smoke-free and it what I based my program on. Teaching people how to take something that is persistent, and they believe is a negative (the urges to smoke) and turn it into something positive. Wanting to smoke is not problem. It’s the condition. Smoking is the problem.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Well I have two, if I may. Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They joined together to help combat the global tobacco epidemic. In the USA there are over 40,000,000 who still smoke. In the world there are over a billion smokers. They all deserve better than what cigarettes/tobacco/nicotine are doing to them.