Marshall Goldsmith: Live the Earned Life | E171

Marshall Goldsmith: Live the Earned Life | E171

Are you a goal-oriented overachiever? Do you believe that once you accomplish X, Y, and Z goals you will be happy? Or perhaps you feel like you’re drowning in regret for opportunities you’ve missed. Today’s guest, leading executive coach, and best-selling author, Marshall Goldsmith reminds us about the importance of living in the present. In this episode, Marshall joins Hala to discuss his new book, The Earned Life: Loose Regret, Choose Fulfillment. 

Topics Include: 

– Marshall’s childhood and early years 

– Hitchhiking and why Buddhism is Marshall’s life philosophy 

– Marshall’s interpretation of Buddhism

– How Buddhism philosophies play into Marshall’s favorite sayings 

– How he uses his Buddhist philosophies in coaching 

– His book, The Earned Life: Loose Regret, Choose Fulfillment

– The marshmallow research and the benefit and drawback of delayed gratification 

– Coaching moment and the power of “I am”

– Impermanence and the every breath paradigm 

– Letting go of past successes

– Two exercises to earn your life every day

– Definition of an earned life 

– Why not worry about the outcome

– The parable of the golfer and the beer can 

– How regret and fulfillment are opposites 

– The three demands when it comes to living an earned life

– Demand #1: Live your own life, not someone else’s version of it 

– How vicarious living prevents us from living our own life

– Demand #2: commit yourself to earn every day, make it a habit 

– Demand #3: attach your earning moments to something greater than mere personal ambition

– What is the agency of no choice and why is their freedom in limiting choices

– Marshall’s actionable advice 

– Marshall’s secret to profiting in life  

– And other topics… 

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is recognized as the leading expert on leadership and coaching for behavioral change. He has been named one of the Top Ten Business Thinkers in the World and the top-rated executive coach at the Thinkers50 ceremony in London since 2011. 

Marshall is the author of several Wall Street Journal and New York Times #1 bestsellers including Triggers and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, which is also the winner of the Harold Longman Award as Best Business Book of the Year. His newest book, The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment was released in May 2022. 

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Resources Mentioned:

The Earned Life by Marshall Goldsmith: 

YAP Episode #42: Become a Better Leader with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith 

“The Better Boss” Marshall’s New Yorker Profile: 

Marshall’s Email: [email protected]

Marshall’s Website:

Marshall’s Linkedin:

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Marshall’s Facebook:

Marshall’s YouTube:

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Hala: [00:00:00] Welcome to young and profiting podcast. Marshall 

Marshall: low, so happy to be here. 

Hala: Yes. I'm super excited for you joining us today. You've been recognized as one of the top 10 business thinkers in the world, and you are the number one executive coach in the world and the number one leadership thinker in the world.

 And on top of all of that, you've penned the super famous leadership books.

Hala: What got you here? Won't get you there as well as triggers. And this is actually the second time you've been on my show. You first joined us back in October, 2019 for episode number 42. In that episode, we talked about the habits that hold people back from the top, how to change bad behavior as well as the power of using your magic move.

Hala: So everybody loved that episode so much for anyone tuning in right now, if those topics resonated with you, be sure to go back and check out my first conversation with Marshall, that was episode number 40. And so Marshall, this time around you're coming back and we are much closer friends. my team at yacht media is running your social media, and we're also gearing up for the launch of your podcast.

Hala: So super happy to have you [00:01:00] here, Marshall. 

Marshall: Oh, you guys do a wonderful job and I am happy to be. 

Hala: Yeah, it's been a pleasure working with you because I personally see that you truly practice what you preach and everything that you do. last time.

Hala: Like I said, we focused on leadership more generally, and today I want to focus on the concept of the earned life and get a deeper understanding of how Buddhism plays into your leadership. But before we get into your newest book, let's rewind to your early childhood. You were born in valley station, Kentucky.

Hala: You grew up in a low income and low educated area, and your mom was actually a huge influence on your educational upbringing. Can you tell us about your early years Marshall? Well, 

Marshall: again, brought up in valley station. We had an outhouse the first four years I was in school, so I wasn't brought up in yuppie.

Marshall: And my mother went to college two years, which is very unusual for a neighborhood and was a first grade school teacher, but then got married and my father had this idiot idea. Women shouldn't work. So we got to be poor. but the good news. All of my mother's first grade [00:02:00] school teacher energy was devoted to one student.

Marshall: That would be me. I knew how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide before I went to school. So I go to the first grade and the teacher goes one, post one is two. I go, yeah, I look around. No one knows it. But me. I told my mother, I must be the smartest person that ever got. 

Hala: That's so funny. And I know that another pivotal point in your life was when you went hitchhiking.

Hala: I think you were about 19 years old or in your early twenties, you spent three months on the road and there you found Buddhism. Tell us about that and why you chose Buddhism as your philosophy of. 

Marshall: Well, that was 1969 lovingly referred to as the summer of love. I did spend three entire months living on the road.

Marshall: I told my parents, I was going to college for the weekend and was gone three months. And it was just an amazing experience at Bell's era of that time. And I learned a lot about life because when you travel, you have time to reflect and I didn't I'd wake up. I wouldn't know where I was. Your [00:03:00] life is really random.

Marshall: You don't know who's going to pick you up. I mean, I could write a whole book about my adventures as a hitchhiker. And so yeah, I had all kinds of wonderful adventures, but I think it gave me a good appreciation of life and Buddhism also in term, in the impermanence of life, how everything is constantly changing.

Marshall: And one funny story about that. I was just doing a program oh two or three weeks ago. And a woman in the class was from rifle, Colorado. So I said, I've been to rifle Colorado before I spent the night there. She said, where'd you staying? I said, the laundry mat, she thought I was getting, I described the laundry mat.

Marshall: She said, oh my God. He did stay in the laundry mat. I spent the night there and then a couple of nice people brought me a sandwich too. They were so nice when I was a kid staying in the laundry mat of rifle, Colorado. 

Hala: That's so funny. And I guess I'm just curious of how Buddhism is something that you discovered on that trip, or how did you first get inspired to learn more about.

Hala: I like 

Marshall: to read. So I read a book called Sidharth at, which got me started thinking [00:04:00] about Buddhism. Now there are many schools of Buddhism, so I'm a philosophical, not a religious Buddhist. So let me just share my school, just short version of it. And by the way, Buddha said only do what I teach if it works for you.

Marshall: So there's so many different schools of Buddhism that are almost the opposite of each other. It doesn't mean the wrong. They just have different interpretations. My interpretation is pretty much. Buddha was brought up very rich. His father was a king and he was protected from life and he was able to sneak out of his little bubble three times the first time, you know what he learned, people get old second time.

Marshall: He learned you get sick. The third time, learn you die. He said, old, sick and die. That's not so good. And he really believed this. I'll be happy after I get more things not going to work. So then he went out in the woods, starved himself, and he tried to really find peace by having less, you know, when he found out I didn't work.

Marshall: And in one night he finally realized something. I can never be happy with more. I can never be happy with less. There's only one thing I can ever find peace with what I have. There's only one place I can never find peace [00:05:00] here. There's only one time. I can never find peace now. Be happy now. So my school of Buddhism, what is Nirvana?

Marshall: Nirvana is talking to some old bald guy, but this is it. This is heaven. This is hell. 

Hala: That's so interesting. I can't wait to kind of dig deeper on some of those philosophies with you in a bit, but before we do. As I've been getting to know you better. I always noticed that you say a lot of the same things over and over.

Hala: You sign off all your emails and even your text messages to me with life is good. Right. And doing some more digging. I found that you have two other favorite sayings be happy and let it go. So what are these things? Life is good. Be happy now. And let it go mean to you. And how does Buddhism philosophies underlie all these things?

Marshall: Well, to me, they're great Western diseases. I'll be happy when, when I get the money status BMW, the condominium, I will be happy when one of the most powerful parts of the book as I talk about the fallacy of confusing [00:06:00] achievement and happiness, achievement and wellbeing, achievement and peace. Everyone I work with is a ridiculously high achiever.

Marshall: I mean, ridiculously high achiever. And one of the guys in my group was saw. And Sophie said, you know, I've learned something, he's a scientist. Now Sophie has a PhD from physics in physics, from Stanford, he's worth tens of millions of dollars. He started companies, he wrote a book called moonshots. He's consulted to presidents, you know, blah, blah, blah.

Marshall: Sophie said, I finally realized something. I used to think that happiness was dependent upon. They said no

Marshall: happiness and achievement are independent variables. You're gonna achieve all kinds of stuff and be happy. You achieve nothing to be happy. You can achieve all kinds of stuff and be miserable and you achieve nothing and be miserable.

Marshall: He said happiness and achievement are independent variables. Well, the great Western disease is I'll be happy when you might've seen the great art form of the west before. I don't know if you've seen it. It sounds like this. Person has said they spend money, they buy a product and they become happy. This is [00:07:00] called a commercial.

Marshall: So I don't know if you've ever seen one of those, but we are bombarded with this message thousands of times, over and over. And the message is happiness is. Somewhere else. Well, you know, be happy now that's now a life as good as be grateful for everything you have and you'll let it go as quit carrying around all that garbage that we all tend to carry around, you know, learn to forgive yourself, forgive other people and let go of the past and be willing to start.

Hala: And how do you use those sort of philosophies? Like life is good. Be happy. Now let it go in your coaching with your coaching clients. Well, 

Marshall: actually my coaching has changed in a way The last time you interviewed me, my whole focus was helping successful leaders that you've positive.

Marshall: Long-term change in their behavior. I still do that and help people become more effective leaders. Only. Now I also try to help them have better lives. Why half the people I coach are building. I mean, one guy coach is worth $4 billion. What am I supposed to do? Get you up to 4.1 billion. What does it [00:08:00] matter?

Marshall: Anyway, most of the people I coach have re they've achieved so much. They don't need me to help them achieve more. And one of the things I help them do is make peace with life. Be happy and just start to have a good. And so I've, I've kind of changed. I didn't use to do that, but now I do, because a lot of people, I coach her family, people, they're running family businesses.

Marshall: They've got a lot of money. They've got a lot of status and success. So I say, look, I'm not going to make you successful. You're already ridiculously successful. I'm not going to make it rich already. Ridiculously rich. I just want you to have a little better life. 

Hala: So speaking of a better life, you wrote this new book called the earned life, lose regret.

Hala: She used to film it. It comes out May 3rd. We're going to stick all the links in the show notes, so everybody can go find it after they're done with this interview and you've written and edited over 30 books. And you wrote this book during COVID and based on my research, I know that you believe that any good book solves a universal challenge.

Hala: So I'd love to understand what inspired you to put out one more book. And what universal challenge are [00:09:00] you trying to solve with the Ernst? 

Marshall: Well, this one is basically choosing fulfillment and losing. That's the challenge I'm thinking about. 

Marshall: And This is a much more, uh, it's much more book about life than just changing leadership behavior. 

Hala: Yeah. And I personally loved this book. I read like a book a week. Marshall. I was just like, there's so much meat and potatoes in this book.

Hala: Some books are very fluffy. Yours was not, this was really meaningful and had a lot of unique insight that I haven't heard before. So I highly recommend everybody go check out the urban life. I love. But you wrote it during COVID right. And I'm wondering, like, did something trigger you personally to write this 

Marshall: book?

Marshall: Yes. During COVID a lot of this book is what I learned during COVID now during COVID I had no idea what the world would end up being like, and my friend Mark Thompson, and I, we spent, oh, I think four or 500 hours every weekend, we spend six hours with these phenomenally successful people. And every weekend they [00:10:00] would talk about their.

Marshall: What went well, what could have done better there challenges? I mean, week after week, hour after hour, we did this. And, you know, I learned so much about life and I can't mention the names of the people. They're incredible people, pal, Gus, all the famous basketball star was in our group and, you know, Curtis Martin, the NFL hall of fame.

Marshall: And then we had a tele loon Broadway star and we. How did the Olympic committee head of the Rockefeller foundation, president of the world bank, you know, on and on just a phenomenal, very diverse group of people from all around the world. We have people from India, from Indonesia, from Paris, all different places, and they all talked about their lives and they just loved it.

Marshall: And, you know, lie. Well, one there's an old saying it's lonely at the top. Used to be lonely at the top. It is lonely at the top. Today is lonely. They have no one to talk to there. So you know about social. They can get killed in an instant in social media, they have to be very careful and they just liked the idea of they're accountable talking about their lives.

Marshall: Yet [00:11:00] nobody's being judged. Nobody's putting you down, nobody's evaluating you. One person said, you know, it's nice one hour a week. I just get to act like a human. 

this is basically what I learned from. 99% of humans, you know what they're trying to be. They're trying to be them. They're trying to be like those people I was with. I mean, these people, if you look at their Biles and look like gods, but you know what you learn, they got kids with drug problems, parents with Alzheimer's, they get sick.

Marshall: They're just humans. Yeah. 

 So let's talk about this topic of regrets and choosing to live the earned life. How would you define an earned life? 

Marshall: Well, and earn life occurs when you really have alignment between three things.

Marshall: One is your aspiration, your higher sense of purpose. The second is you're achieving something meaningful. And the third is your day-to-day actions. When the actions are aligned with those. That's how I define the earned life. And it's interesting because most humans in the history of the world were [00:12:00] lost in the action phase.

Marshall: They just show up, they go from day to day. They're not bad people, but they're just do whatever's in front of them. And they kind of just live. Some people are really lost, an aspiration, a higher purpose. They don't achieve much, but they kind of live in their heads. The people that I work with pretty much, if they're not careful or lost energy, They achieve so much that they're almost achievement junkies.

Marshall: And sometimes if we're not careful, we get so lost in achievement. We forget to ask the question, why am I working 90 hours a week? Or number two, we forget to enjoy the process of life itself, the day-to-day actions of life. So with these people really getting them to focus on don't become an achieve a holic.

Marshall: Oh, and the other thing I think is very important in this. 

Marshall: Never make your identity or your value as a human being based on achievement or the results of achievement. For two reasons, one, you don't control the results. The results are impacted by many things you don't control. And number two, [00:13:00] even if you achieve the results, how long does that bring any kind of peace or happiness a week?

Marshall: Not much, then you have, what do you have to do more, more, more. One of my favorite parts of the book is the story about the marshmallow research. I love it. So in the marshmallow research, you take this kids and you give them a marshmallow. So say the kid will get, if you eat the marshmallow, you get one. If you wait.

Marshall: Oh, And then a kid that waits he two now, allegedly they have this research show, the kid that needs one, Marshall marshmallow becomes a drug addict. The ones that eat to go to Harvard and get PhDs or something. It seems a little overblown, but the point of the research is very clear. Delayed gratification is good, delayed gratification, almost every self-help book.

Marshall: Delayed gratification is good. Here's how you can work out more. Here's how you can go on a better diet. Delayed gratification is good. Well, here's the problem with. They didn't take the kid that ate two marshmallows and said, you know, kid, wait a bit [00:14:00] three. Ooh, don't eat those. Wait a little bit more. 4, 5, 10, a thousand.

Marshall: Where do you end? An old man sitting in a room waiting to die, surrounded with uneaten marshmallows. It's so true. Sometimes you have to eat the marshmallows. 

Hala: I feel like this is why the book resonated with me so much because I feel like I'm like one of those overachievers who can't stop achieving and it's sometimes it's okay to slow down and think about like, what is my ultimate goal here and just be happy with what you have.

Hala: Right. And not always be thinking about what's next. What's next. 

Marshall: Okay. Breathing ready for some free coaching for you. It's a coaching moment. Are you ready? Yes. Raise your right hand. Okay. I used to be one of those compulsive overachievers. 

Hala: I used to be one of those compulsive overachievers. 

Marshall: I do not have an incurable genetic defect.

Hala: I do not have an incurable genetic 

Marshall: defect. I can change if I want to. I can change if I want to now see what you've said before you said I [00:15:00] am. As long as you say, I am, guess what? You're programming yourself. That's where you're going to be nothing wrong with that. If you don't want to change, if you do want to change, don't talk to.

here's the problem. If you say I am anything, then you try to do something else. Even if you succeed, you'll feel like a phony. What if this is me and I'm doing this, this must not be me. And the real me is a compulsive overachiever. Anything other than that is not the real me.

Marshall: That would be a phony. So be careful don't program yourself. If you want to. 

Hala: That's really good advice. Let's talk about regrets in the book. You say that regret is a feeling that you wouldn't wish on any human being. Why do you believe that regret is one of the most empty and desolate feelings that a human can have?

Marshall: Well, the point about regret, is it going, going back to letting go? It can be something we carry around for years or even decades. And a big part of the book is just learning to let go of that. And [00:16:00] one thing I love is the idea of every time I take a breath, it's a new me. Uh, new me, new me, new me, everything that was done before has done by an infinite set of people.

Marshall: Those names of those people called the previous MES and learning to say they did what they did and learning to forgive the previous versions of you for being humans. And then the future versions of you. Well, they're going to be who they are. So I, a couple of exercises. I love one is writing a letter to the past versions of yourself.

Marshall: Just thanking them. Thanking him or her for something good. They did. And it was write a letter to the future version herself saying, here's the investment I'm making in you. And here's what I expect back. So the concept is a really useful concept, you know, think of yourself, breathe. Ah, think of all those previous versions of you.

Marshall: They worked hard. They gave the, you that's talking to me a lot of stuff. Nice people. Did they make some mistakes? How are those previous use? Ah, few mistakes. Let it go. Let it go. If any group of women did that many [00:17:00] nice things, what would you say to those nice women? Thank you. Yeah. Just say thank you. Yeah.

Marshall: Forgive yourself. 

Hala: Yeah. I think I'd like to really dig deep on this because I think this is really, really important. What you're saying. So Buddha once said with every breath is a new man and he meant that literally in a core pillar of Buddhism is something called imperfect. And that's the notion that the emotions, thoughts, and material possessions, we hold do not last they're fleeting.

Hala: Right? So can you help us understand the concept of impermanence and this every breath paradigm? I really want you to go deep on this 

Marshall: Marshall. Well, this is very hard for Western people to understand, because it's so different. The Western paradox is I will get there and it's going to be okay that there is this place I'm going to go.

Marshall: And therefore everything is going to be different after I do X. And that will be permanent. Now there's a book that exemplifies this. You've probably read several of these. They had the same ending it's called and they lived [00:18:00] happily ever after. Now, this type of book is a fairytale. That's not life. Life is not a place you would get to.

Marshall: And then. Life is a place that keeps changing all the time. The you I'm talking to now is not going to be the you that was there before we started talking. We're always changing and we're all impermanent life itself. Doesn't last. So as you go through life, looking at it as a series of infinite change and always starting over every time I take a breath, it's a new me.

Marshall: Well, what that means. Let's take a concept like happiness, that doesn't come from the past or the future. It comes from now taking a breath and saying it's, I'm a new me. Really looking at our life and creating, meaning, creating happiness and always starting over. Bob Dylan had a good quote. He who was not busy, being born is busy, dying.

Marshall: Well, that's kind of the essence of the book is we're constantly being reborn. We're constantly being reborn. We're different. And the idea is looking at that as an opportunity to start over, we can [00:19:00] lots of restarts here, uh, restart, restart. We get a lot of chances to start over and it's it's to me a very healthy way to look at life.

Hala: Yeah, it's a, it's a very unique approach of looking at life because oftentimes even when it comes to our relationship, Or own self-development we think like, oh my significant other did this. And so I'm going to hold this resentment against them for a long time. When in reality, what your significant other did 10 years ago has nothing to do with who they are today.

Hala: And same thing with yourself. If you bombed a test 10 years ago, doesn't mean that you're going to do it again. And so you get to start over with other people and even with your. I 

Marshall: love it. There's a story in the book about that, which I love. And it's a story of a friend of mine. And basically his wife starts in on it.

Marshall: They had a really great weekend. This is why I started seeing on, well, you could have been a better father. And the guy said, basically, you're right. That was 10 years ago. [00:20:00] And you're right. I did a lot wrong 10 years ago. I'm not the same person. I was 10 years ago and you're criticized in a 10 year ago person.

Marshall: He's not here right now. And it was very good because she instantly said, you're right. You're not the same person. I said, what am I gaining by bashing somebody who's not. 

Hala: Yeah, I feel like it's a super mature way to think of things when it comes to your relationships and when it comes to yourself. So I think this is one of the most important and kind of impactful things that I read in your book was this concept of the every breath paradigm.

Hala: So a lot of us can't seem to let go of past projections, past failures, but then some people also have the problem of not being able to let go of their past successes. And they obsess over that. Can you talk to us about 

Marshall: that? Oh, I certainly can't. I've done nine programs at my house with retiring CEOs.

Marshall: This is a huge issue. It is so hard to let go of that past success and realize that it's no longer. What am I good coaching clients was Mike Duke. Mike was the CEO of Walmart. He had a [00:21:00] great story. He said when I was here at Walmart, I told this joke and obviously Walmart very sensitive as a clean joke would not offend anyone.

Marshall: People loved the joke, always laughing. I love my little joke. Then he said I retired and I was in his group of people. I told the joke. No one left. And he said, well, I thought they must be grumpy. Another group tells the joke, no one laughed. He said, finally, my wife came to me and said, Mike, you idiot. You actually thought that joke was funny when he was the CEO of Walmart.

Marshall: Did Joe was real funny. How about when he's not the CEO? Not funny anymore. It is hard to let go. One of the people that endorsed my book is pelvis hall, past 41 years old, and he's just retiring as a basketball star. The former CEO, it's tough. The Olympic champion, Michael Phelps has sad story after winning that final melt thought about killing himself.

Marshall: Why if your measure of value is I have to achieve more than last year. You're never going to get there and you do get older and you're may not do what you did last year. And [00:22:00] it's hard. Tele the Broadway star. He's he's 40. Now. He's not going to play a Latin anymore.

Marshall: That rolls over. It's a constant reinvention of. But not comparing yourself to what you used to be and not living, not being the ex athlete. Who's sitting there getting drunk, talking about Superbowl. You know, that was 40 years ago. That's not you. That was some other person did that 40 years. Yeah, move on.

Marshall: Yeah. Live your own life. Now, by the way, in the book, we have a great case study. Curtis Martin, none of you've met Curtis yet. I love Curtis national football league hall of fame. Just a wonderful person brought up in a terrible environment. So a lot of murder and death when he was growing up as a kid and so happy.

Marshall: And he's one of these people he's helping others. He's happy. He's very successful. He's banking. And one of the reasons he didn't get stuck in the past, as opposed to a lot of, unfortunately, NFL stars, bankrupt, divorced, sad. Why they're living in that other era. [00:23:00] They're living in the past. A lot of them Curtis taught me this, you know, they lose their money.

Marshall: A lot of them, they give it away. They literally give their money away because they're trying to buy love. Doesn't work. There's a good song about that money. You got lot of friends hanging around your door. When it's gone and spend an ends and they don't come around no more, uh, you know, that doesn't 

Hala: work.

Hala: Yeah. So it's very difficult to do this, you know, it's, it's easier to kind of talk of it, talk about it at a high level, but when it comes to putting it into practice, how can we make this more like muscle memory and make this more? Like in any situation we can just realize, okay. Like it's time to be fresh.

Hala: I'm a new person. I'm not my past. How can we make this muscle mass? 

Marshall: Well, there's two suggestions. I'm going to give you one involving some questions. And one involving one question. The first thing I do is call the daily question process. So every day I write down a series of questions that represent was most important to my life.

Marshall: And many of them begin with the phrase. Did you do your [00:24:00] best to, for example, did I do my best to be happy every day? Did I do my best to find meaning every day? Did I do my best to build positive relationships? Did you do your best to every day? There's a little scale, you know, and you, yes, no, or a number.

Marshall: And then at the end of the week, you get a little report card. I've been doing this for about 25 years and I have to have someone call me every day for almost 25 years. Almost every day. Someone calls me on the phone to make sure I do this. Hi, my name is Marshall Goldsmith. I got ranked number one, leadership thinker and coach in the whole world.

Marshall: Have someone called me on the phone every day to make sure I do this stuff. I'm too cowardly to do this stuff by myself. I'm too indisciplined to do this stuff by myself. I need. That's okay. And one thing I'm proud of in this book, I mean, you saw the people endorsed the book, just amazing people. And for the people endorsed the book were ranked the best leader in America for at least one year.

Marshall: I said it was pretty impressive group. And one thing I'm so proud of is they all stand up and admit they need help. Yeah. 30 years ago, none of these people [00:25:00] would have said they had a coach. None of them would've said they needed help. They would have been ashamed of how to coach they'd have been ashamed of.

Marshall: One thing I'm very proud of is, Hey, these are big people. And you know, let's see president of the world bank CEO of the year in the United States, CEO of Pfizer, winter, the presidential medal of freedom RV business review, best CEO in the world, head of St. Jude's children's hospital on and on and on.

Marshall: These are big people, wonderful people. I'm so proud that they are, you have the courage to stand up and say, look, Hey, I might be a big deal. Guess what? I'm a human, I need help. I'm not above. I will need help. We'll do. 

Hala: Yeah. And you mentioned there was a second, a second 

Marshall: exercise. Yeah. The second exercise is that when you write that letter to the future, and an interesting thing about that exercise is, and I'm going to give you a not so happy story.

Marshall: One of the guys that my group said, uh, uh, retiring as CEO, I worked 80 hours a week for the last 40 years [00:26:00] with one goal. So my children would never have to do this. Then he said, that's the worst thing I could have ever done for myself, for my wife or for my children. His kids are trust fund babies, spoiled ungrateful doesn't have a close relationship with them.

Marshall: What he did is he gave his children a gift. When you give somebody a gift, there's no strings attached. Guess what they do, what they want, basically. The rich bumps, they're just trust fund bumps. What he should have made as an investment. What he should've said is look, I'm willing to work very hard to help you.

Marshall: Here's what I expect back. I expect you to try to have a meaningful life. I expect to use this as an opportunity to do something special. I expect you to learn. I expect you to be grateful, not expect you to be a bum who just sits there and spokes, pot and watches TV all day. 

Hala: Let's talk about that a little bit more.

Hala: Why is it so much more powerful to earn something rather than be handed it? 

Marshall: Well, when we earn something, we feel a sense of [00:27:00] worthwhile. I got this because I did something and I feel I deserve it when somebody's giving us something. What does that mean about, you know, It means someone else earned something doesn't mean you weren't anything you just stood there and your hand happened to be out and you got a break.

Marshall: Someone else did something of value that was given to you, as opposed to you did something of value that was given to yourself. And again, the reality is it's pretty hard to be proud of the fact that someone gave you a handout. 

Hala: So this reminds me of something that you said in your book was actually the definition of an earned life.

Hala: You said we are living in earned life when the choices, risks, and effort that we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives. We're of the eventual outcome. And this really stuck out to me because like we were saying before, I'm a goal oriented person. And so for me, that seems counter-intuitive.

Hala: That you don't need to worry about the outcome and you need to let go of the outcome or [00:28:00] the earned rewards. So I'm just curious in your opinion, why is it that we don't need to worry about the outcome with all of 

Marshall: this? Well, let me give you an example, the parable of the golfer and the beer can the golfer and the beer kit.

Marshall: Now here's a golfer and is it a chance to win the club championship is a big chance and never had a chance before last hole. And he's getting their tip and people in front of him for so much drinking beer noisy, very distracting, but he think he sort of hits the shot. It looks perfect. All of a sudden something happens.

Marshall: It bounces into a terrible position. He's walking towards the ball. What happens? Cause he's a bear cat. The idiots in front of him have left a beer can on the fairway. Now his ball is in the bad straights. He's angry. Oh, those idiots. What does this call from? Need to do? Stop. Breathe. Forget about the drive.

Marshall: Forget about the people. Forget about the beer. Can't forget about winning the championship. You come up with a strategy. [00:29:00] You walk to that ball and you hit the shot in front of you see in life, all you can ever do is hit the shot in front of you. You hit the shot in front of you. And when you're thinking about the results you're living in the past, you're dreaming of the future.

Marshall: You're not focusing on hitting the shot. Well, the key is hit the shot. And the thing about achievement is the greatest college basketball coach in history was John wooden. I was at UCLA when he was there and he said, Do your best, that's it be proud? You do your best and lose fine. You do your best and when fine, it doesn't matter.

Marshall: Yeah. That's all you can do. Harry Kramer's CEO of Baxter was an I'm my a hundred coach group. And. Somebody said, how do you sleep at night? You've had to fire people, lay people off. You had to be very hard things to people. He said, I only asked two questions. One did I do what I thought was right. And did I do my best with the answer is I did what I thought was right.

Marshall: And I did my best. He said, I can sleep. That's all, any of us can ever do. You just do what you think is right to do your best to make peace? Well, [00:30:00] to me, that's it. You don't get lost in the past. And you don't get lost in the future and you never place your values of human being based on results. The most famous poem in history is called the Bhagavad Gita.

Marshall: And this is the essence of the Bhagavad Gita. You have a person with two choices in the poem, the Bob, again, one choice it's very bad. The other choice is worse and he's going on and on about how bad his choices are. And the message is pretty simple from Krishna. And the message is do what you think is right.

Marshall: Do your best. And sometimes in life, we do have two choices, bad and worse. Okay. Pick the one that's the least bad and make the best of it. 

Hala: Yeah. I love that. I think that's super powerful. So I'd love to talk about regret and fulfillment in terms of the fact that it's a spectrum. Right. So I also thought this was pretty enlightening in your book.

Hala: You know, you say that regret and fulfillment are like opposite sides of the spectrum, polar opposites, right. And everybody. Slams on one part of the spectrum, no matter how successful they are. [00:31:00] So you could be super successful and still have a lot of regret because you may have focused on your career and not your family or something like that.

Hala: So I'd love for you to kind of walk us through how regret and fulfillment are total opposites, and maybe some examples of people that you've met, where they surprised you in terms of the regret that they 

Marshall: felt very surprised because the people I deal with. On paper, amazingly successful yet some of them like the one I mentioned, if you look at it, CEO, huge company, multi, multi multimillionaire, highly educated, smart.

Marshall: Will you think both fulfillment the guys off the charts? Not really. Not really. In his own mind, not really too happy with life and basically said I blew it. I blew it here. And the problem with that regret and fulfillment thing is other people don't fill out the scorecard. And you may fool somebody else, but at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself.

Marshall: And you've got to look at that and say, what do I feel? Am I proud of this? Am I ashamed of this? Do I have regret? Am I sitting there saying, I wish I would have? And [00:32:00] we, the book begins with a story of a guy, you know, the interesting story guy filled with regret because he wanted to go out with some woman and he basically chicken.

Marshall: He got afraid. And then he's carried it around this sense of existential regret. If I would have things could have turned out better for me, maybe, maybe not. He still carried it around. It's very hard to forgive ourselves and forgive others and just let go and say, all right, that was then this is now.

Marshall: That was then this is now. And I mean, I coach people that haven't forgiven mom and dad for being who they are. Yeah, I mean, 30, 40 years are carrying around this anger and the problem with all that is you're not hurting the other person as much as you're hurting yourself. 

Hala: Yeah. And I feel like the other kind of lesson and all of this, and just an insight that I had from your book or what you're trying to sell.

Hala: There's no one size fits all when it comes to regret, right? There's small regrets. That don't really matter. And then those there's these [00:33:00] big existential regrets, you call them like not having children or not taking a big job. And this is the purpose of your book is to make sure that you know, what you want in life so that you don't make these big regrets that are super hard to let go.

Hala: Is that right? 

Marshall: And it's interesting because we sell them regret the risk we take in. We often regret the risk we failed to take. So it's a question of, I talk about risk and opportunity. When do I take the risk? When do I not take the risk? And I point out examples of when risk taking is very important and when it's not.

Marshall: And I give some example of my own life of stupid risk, and I was like 27 and we're going out and riding boogie board. I don't know, not that much of an athlete in. And then I get macho and I started riding a few ways though. You can do it, then go out there like an idiot and try to write a nine foot wave and flips over and breaks my neck in two places.

Marshall: I'm looking I'm even here. And now I talk about that from like, this is that part of my aspiration in life to be a [00:34:00] surfer. No. Am I any good at it? No. Am I ever going to achieve anything? No. Why am I doing that? Well, I got lost in this macho ridiculous stuff. Show off a thing. That's an example. Not really thinking on the other hand, when you take a chance on something, maybe you don't succeed, but you tried, well, then you can look back on life and say, Hey, I gave it a shot.

Marshall: I look, I'm my home now is here in Nashville. I mean, you know, God bless a lot of these kids are all waiting on tables, but Hey, they're giving it a shot and they're going to try to be the music star. And reality is most of them aren't yeah. Yeah. It's still, I respect them. They're trying to giving it a shot here at the end of the day.

Marshall: They'll probably be okay. Just do something. 

Hala: Yeah, and so true. And I love the connection that you made with taking the appropriate risks and not making mistakes, like taking a big risk on something that you don't even really want. Right. So I want to close this out with some three demands that you talk [00:35:00] about when it comes to living an earned life.

Hala: I thought this was a great way to kind of just summarize some of the key points in your book. And I'll tee you up for each demand and maybe ask some follow up questions. So the first demand was live your own life, not someone else's version of it. Can you tell us your 2 cents on that one? 

Marshall: Yeah. And I mentioned, I can't mention his name is my friend mark Tercek, who was a managing partner of Goldman Sachs.

Marshall: They did the IPO, he makes a ton of money. And he's thinking about being the CEO of the nature Conservancy and we're walking around and he says, well, I don't know, what will they think of me? I'm thinking, what, what are you. It's not their life. It's your life? Well, part of this, that first thing is live your own life.

Marshall: I mean, it's pretty hard to live a fulfilling life if you're not living your own life. And you got to say, what is real life mean to me? Not somebody else. And get over that I have to impress so-and-so because so-and-so doesn't care anyway, really. And just not trying to waste your life on that and being willing to take or not take a [00:36:00] risk to live your own life, which sounds pretty simple, but an amazing number of people don't and they end up dying thinking, you know, I wish I would have, I wish I have gone for this gone for that going for something.

Marshall: Well, it's not somebody else's life is your life. Yeah. So part of it, and it's not as simple as it's. Because we were so focused on him and not in a negative way as human beings, we've been brought up. You have to impress people, you have to gain approval. That's just part of our history. It's hard not to do that old.

Hala: Yeah. I think a lot of people have this problem where they let other things and people stop them from going for their dreams. And so in your book, you actually list off a couple of reason why people don't live their own life. Two of them that really stuck out to me was inertia and obligations. Can you tell us your perspective on inertia and 

Marshall: obligations?

Marshall: Well, inertia's greatest predictor of anything. The biggest predictor of what do you do five minutes from now is what are you doing now? And so we all tend to be where we've been go, are we gone? And in my other [00:37:00] book, I talk about this too. It's hard for successful people to change. Why any human or animal replicate behavior that's followed by positive reinforcement.

Marshall: Now the more successful we become, the more positive reinforcement we get and we fall into a trap. I do this, I am successful. Therefore this makes me successful. I'll just keep doing this over and over and over again. As opposed to saying maybe I can do something different or maybe this doesn't always work.

Marshall: So that's kind of inertia and then obligation is what we talked about though, that feeling that somehow I'm supposed to do this in Mark's case, he's a managing partner of Goldman Sachs. It's like, it's not like they're all going to sit there and go through. Oh my good. He left us. I'm going to die. No, they'll do fine without well, Jim Kim, greatest story, Jim Kim was president of Dartmouth college.

Marshall: Kim gets a great guy. It was partners in health, literally saved tens of millions of lives. He's president of Dartmouth college. He's a great guy, not necessarily the best job for him. You know, this food and student cafeteria and raising money all the time. So he gets offered a job as president of world bank.

Marshall: Oh, I don't know. I've [00:38:00] only been at Dartmouth college two and a half years. Should I take the job as a take the job? So then I obligation, he ended up taking the job. I called him three months after he had the job. I said, Jim, I'm at Darren. Guess what it's still here and now they're all complaining about the new president.

Marshall: Five 

Hala: goes on. It's so funny. We all make these decisions as if people care that much about us. And at the end of the day, people only care about themselves. You know, nobody cares 

Marshall: primarily. Right. And I'd also, if you asked them, most of them would probably say, just do whatever you feel like. 

Hala: It's so true.

Hala: Okay. So let's oh, another one. That's really interesting in terms of why we don't live our own life vicarious living. And I think this is super interesting given everybody's addiction to social media, how does vicarious living really prevent us from living our own life? Well, 

Marshall: I mean, vicarious living is huge.

Marshall: I don't have to tell you, you know, more about this than I do, but the average kid that's flunking out of [00:39:00] school is spending, I forget 55 hours a week on some sort of media TV movie. Social media. It's an addiction. And we have to be very careful because when you're living vicariously, you're living through someone it's not your life.

Marshall: You're not one of the Kardashians. You're not the movie star. That's not you. And you're reading this drama of them. Well, what happens is vicariously. We start living through them or the football team or whatever. And my son brought up. I use video games, as you know, pretending to be in a battle. It's really not.

Marshall: It's a pretension on my son said, no, no, no. You missed the point. People spends thousands of hours, millions of hours watching other people play video games. Pudi putt. How many hours billions of people watching this guy play video games, making sarcastic comments hour after hour. They're watching his nonsense.

Marshall: He's some Swedish guy. I'm not blaming him by the way. He's making millions of. He's doing okay. 

Hala: He's living. Not everybody else. Isn't 

Marshall: he's living his [00:40:00] life, but why are you watching this Swedish guy making sarcastic comments, playing video games for hours? Well, you're living someone else's life. You're not living your own life and you can never find happiness living somebody else's life.

Marshall: The other thing is they don't care about you. They don't care about you. They're living their life. You're never going to find satisfaction, living someone else's life. Yeah, by the way, physiologically my friend Martin Lynn's from his study, the brain, when the football player scores a touchdown, the fan experiences, almost the same reaction as a football player in the brain.

Marshall: It's like they scored the touchdown. They're jumping up and down. They're screaming. They didn't score the touchdown. They watched someone else where the touchdown 

Hala: is this so interesting. Part of the reason why I've been very successful, especially in the last like five years is because I literally don't watch TV.

Hala: I don't even know how to turn on [00:41:00] my TV in my apartment. I don't ever want, I don't do that. And even on social media, I'm focused on my content and my clients. And. And my friends make fun of me. They call it holiday TV. They're like, oh, she's on holla TV again. Cause all she cares about is her stuff because I'm not worried about what everybody else is doing.

Hala: Because like you said, I feel like that's wasting your own life when you're trying to live. When you're paying attention to somebody else's life just live your own life. 

Marshall: Yeah. Live your own life because like you live your own life, at least as your life. It's your life. And, you know, I had a funny experience that with the new Yorker magazine, many, and this changed my life many years ago, the new Yorker magazine, and it was 2012 worth of story of my life.

Marshall: It called the better boss, wonderful story written by a woman named Larissa MacFarquhar. And in this story, um, she is going to in new Yorker profiles, a big deal, they spent hours on this thing, right? They spend an average of $60,000 per profile, just doing the research a lot. This is a serious thing. She followed me around for two.[00:42:00] 

Marshall: Yeah, half of the new Yorker stories are just rip. I just, you know, rip into people and almost all of them have at least three paragraphs of Andy's a jerk, but I talked to my wife and I thought about it and I thought, Peter Drucker taught me who's the customer. I thought, well, first I thought it was the people that send me money, but there's no, the customer is my unborn great-grandchildren and this brilliant woman is going to write a story about me.

Marshall: And if I don't act like me, they won't know me. They're just going to know some fictitious character. They won't know me. So I told my wife, I'm going to act like. And I said, we're probably going to lose about 150,000 bucks or 200,000 bucks. I'm sure I'm going to annoy people, but I'm just going to claim myself.

Marshall: Cause it turned out as the best thing I could have possibly done. Number one, she's got an IQ of a zillion. Anyway, she went to Harvard. What are the odds I'm going to fool her for two months? Zero. If I did try to fool her, she'd probably just justifiably crucify me for acting like an ass. So I said, just be yourself.

Marshall: Be yourself. You may lose. But at least it's you that lists. 

Hala: I love this conversation. Let's move on to demand. Number two, it's commit [00:43:00] yourself to earning every day, make it a habit. Why do we need to do this? 

Marshall: Well, that goes back to also my daily questions. It needs to be something you restart every day, because if we don't, we just get lost and it is so easy to get lost on little things.

Marshall: I, one of the guys in our group was Palka saw the basketball star and one of his areas was he wanted to be better at being present around his wife. Not just sitting there, but actually being in the room in his mind. So he tells his story, he comes home and he says, yeah, I how'd. You do he's in our little garage, not so good, man.

Marshall: My wife very upset with me and she said, I wasn't really present too much. And he checked out. He said, but I was tired. Well, how hard were you home? So tired. I was working out all day. Very tired training for the Olympics. I said, yeah, it's interesting. I paid a thousand bucks for a seat. My son, Brian paid a thousand bucks and we went to watch you play.

Marshall: Boston Celtics and the world championship bear and yam. You guys won that game was probably the biggest game of your life. And you're running up and down the court like a banshee. Now co-chair Phil Jackson called Tom [00:44:00] Elvin two months ago. Did you say, you know, Phil I'm tired, I'm tired, Phil? No, he said, no, I never, in my career told coach I was tired, never.

Marshall: So I said, you think your wife is impressed?

Marshall: Well, it's often harder at home because when we're working like you, when you work your own. Very on your professional, you know, when we're not on. And we're not in that professional mode, it's actually easier to lose it and realize, you know, there's people at home are important and every day you need to rearm Jim Kim, another guy, my friend, the world bank.

Marshall: I said, every day I returned my legacy. That's the way life is the person that did that stuff. Yesterday. Was that person from yesterday. They're not here today. And the thing we don't think about is the fact that we need to really focus on earning all kinds of things, happiness, meaning purpose. And if we don't.

Marshall: Inertia kicks in. You watch the game, you go to the TV, you know, like you said, you're like a zombie and your life's over. [00:45:00] 

Hala: And it's because the things that make us fulfilled like happiness, like you were saying, those things are fleeting, right. They come and they go super quickly. And so to your point, we need to learn how to earn them over and over again, because they can be gone just as fast as we get them, 

Marshall: which again is the great Western disease.

Marshall: I will be happy when once this happens, everything is going to be okay. It's all going to be okay. Once I get money status BMW car, they. Well, no, once you get that, it's nice. Yeah, it doesn't last, very long. 

Hala: Totally agree. Okay. So demand number three, attach your earning moments to something greater than mere personal ambition.

Hala: Right? 

Marshall: And I think that's why you need to answer that question of your attributional. Your aspiration in life. Why am I doing this? Why? Because the people I know work their butts off, they're all phenomenally hard-working achievement. They don't need me to teach them about delayed gratification. They [00:46:00] live delayed gratification.

Marshall: They're highly educated. They're successful. They worked their butts off. Well, you've got to have an answer to this question. Why am I doing this? And if there's not some higher purpose as to why. Then why are you sitting there killing yourself to achieve all this stuff? Unless there's some higher reason to do it and it doesn't have to be religious reason, just some reason there needs to be something it could be.

Marshall: I want to have great kids that have good lives, or I want to, I don't know. I want to help as many people as I can, or I want to help the people I'm with have a little better life. It needs to be something though. That's not just a goal line because the problem with the finish line is after you cross the finish line, you are.

Marshall: Um, by definition and here's part of the book is a good phrase. My wife came up with after the victory lap. And what happens? You all people cheering. Yay. What happens after the victory lap? If that's it, you finished, this 

Hala: is super inspirational. So there's one more question I want to ask before we start to really wrap this [00:47:00] up and it's sort of related, we'll figure out how it's related and it's the fact that you wear the same outfit all the time.

Hala: You wear a green polo shirt and khakis. I meet with you once a week. I see you every week and it's true. You are the same thing every time, no matter, like if you're on a podcast interview with me to 50,000 people, or if you know, it's me, us, and four people, you're wearing the same thing. Talk to us about this freedom in limiting your choices and how that relates to an earned 

Marshall: life.

Marshall: Well, there's a chapter that would call the agency of no choice, which talks about the value of not having to make choices. And back to the new Yorker story. Ironically, this connects in the new Yorker story, the woman said, I always wear a green t-shirt and khaki pants. I actually didn't. But she said I did.

Marshall: So after that people kind of expected it and I thought, what the heck? This is my life. I don't have to think anymore. So literally every day I wear the same clothes, green t-shirt khaki pants that makes life easier. One more [00:48:00] decision. I don't have to make decisions or. And the more we can eliminate decisions the better.

Marshall: I mean, Barack Obama, he basically said he has a gray suit and a blue suit and a white shirt and a blue shirt. And then his wife picks out the ties and that's it. And you're just kind of stumbles around why he doesn't want to think about that. Well, it's nice. I don't have to think about what I wear and the more we can look at choices that are not that critical to us, it makes our life simpler.

Marshall: Makes it easier to. And, you know, the nice thing is people expect me to wear a green shirt and khaki pants. So I can go work in city Corp with everybody else has a coat and tie and they're all dressed up. I don't have to wear a coat and tie, but people don't expect me 

Hala: to. Yeah, you've just made it iconic.

Hala: You're just an icon style icon. Awesome. This was such a great conversation. So I always wrap up the interview with two of the same questions to all of my guests, and then we do something fun at the end of the year with. So the first question is what is one actionable thing my young and profits can do today to become more profiting tomorrow?[00:49:00] 

Hala: Well, 

Marshall: I'm going to define property and in a different way, I'm going to find profiting as property and is achieving a meaningful and successful life for you, which is not necessarily money. And that is. And imagine you're 95 years old and your skin ready to die before you take the last breath. You're given a beautiful gift.

Marshall: The ability to go back in time and talk to the person who's listening to me. Now, what advice would that old person facing death have for you? This listening to me right now? Well, whatever that advice is do that that is the definition of a profitable life. 

Hala: This might tie into the next question, but we'll see.

Hala: What is your secret to profiting in life? 

Marshall: secret and profit? And we, life is kind of what we talked about. Breathe and start over and say

Marshall: Profit in life is not accumulating. So. Profiting life is living now. living now, a life that's meaningful for you.

Marshall: Not coasting on what I did last week. What my net worth is it's living now. Making the biggest difference you can make now. 

Marshall: And yeah, let's [00:50:00] finish by why do I do this? Well, basically, as I've grown older, in some ways, my level of aspiration has gone down and down and down my level of impact on up and up and up what we're worried about, what I'm not going to change.

Hala: What's my goal on this podcast is very, very simple. I hope someone listening has a little better life. If one person listened to his podcast has a little better life. This one is good. I love that. Thank you so much, Marshall, before we go, where can everybody find the earned 

Marshall: life?

Marshall: Well, number one, they gave me a million dollar advance. So it's probably going to be almost. So will be in Barnes and noble, and it'll be in all kinds of bookstores and Amazon, wherever you can find books. And it's available in the audio version, which I recorded myself, the auto versions available and the Kindle version and they're all.

Marshall: And if you're in New York city, fifth avenue, Fifth avenue is basically going to be papered with his book. So you're going to do, and you know, the window of the fifth avenue, Barnes and noble, it's going to be nothing but this book. Oh [00:51:00] yeah. So it's going to be pretty easy to find, or send me an email.

Marshall: [email protected] If you send me an email, I'll make. I trust everybody. So if you say I pre-ordered the book, I'm going to order the book. It doesn't matter. You don't have to prove it. Send me an email. I'm going to send you a copy of the earned life documentary. It's basically a movie about my life and you get to see my closet and see actually how many green t-shirts are in that closet.

Hala: I love that this is awesome. The earned life is wherever you guys buy your books. It's going to be everywhere. You can find it on Amazon. I'll stick the link in the show notes. Thank you so much, Dr. Marshall for coming on this show, this conversation was amazing.

Marshall: Thank you so much.