YAPClassic: Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Business Executive Coach Shares His Secrets for Training CEOs and Entrepreneurs

YAPClassic: Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Business Executive Coach Shares His Secrets for Training CEOs and Entrepreneurs

YAPClassic: Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Business Executive Coach Shares His Secrets for Training CEOs and Entrepreneurs

Back in the late ’60s, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith joined the fad of studying philosophy and began learning about Buddhism. Buddhism taught him that we can only find peace in what we already have, and what works for someone won’t work for everyone. He now utilizes those teachings as a top-rated executive coach who works with some of the most powerful business leaders in the world. In this episode of YAPClassic, Hala and Marshall chat about the 20 habits that hold people back, how to avoid and overcome bad triggers, and how to live a happier life.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is recognized as the leading expert on leadership and coaching for behavioral change. 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.


In this episode, Hala and Marshall will discuss:

– What Buddhism taught him

– Why success makes you fail

– A life-changing habit that takes 3 minutes a day

– Why the inherent urge to win?

– How to break the habit of being negative

– Excuses people have for change

– Defining a behavioral trigger

– 4 stages of the feedback loop

– How to avoid triggers

– Magic moves: apology and optimism

– What makes listening so powerful?

– 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:

Inc.com: Do You Have Mojo or Nojo?: https://www.inc.com/marshall-goldsmith/mojo-nojo.html

Inc.com: Why Leadership is a Contact Sport: https://www.inc.com/marshall-goldsmith/contact-sport-overview.html

Marshall’s Website: https://marshallgoldsmith.com/

Marshall’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/coachgoldsmith


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: What's up, young improfiters? Welcome back to the show. In this episode of Yap Classic, we're replaying my first interview with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall Goldsmith is my LinkedIn client. He's been my client for several years now, but when I recorded this episode, he was not my client yet. Now that I personally know him, I can confirm that he is the real deal.

He's one of the biggest experts when it comes to leadership coaching for behavioral change. And he's been named one of the top 10 business thinkers in the world and is the author of several New York Times bestsellers like Trigger and What Got You Here Won't Get You There. In today's episode, Marshall and I go deep on how to avoid and manage triggers and enact meaningful and lasting change.

We also break down the importance of feedback loops and Marshall's groundbreaking 360 assessment technique. This episode is a must hear for all business leaders and entrepreneurs. Marshall is the best of the best when it comes to executive leadership. So without further ado, here's my interview with Dr.

Marshall Goldsmith.

  I know that you studied directly under the father of modern management. His name is Peter Drucker. What was he like and what were some of the key lessons that he taught you? Well, 

[00:01:27] Marshall Goldsmith: I feel very blessed.

I mean, I got ranked number one leadership thinker in the world twice. My intellect compared to his is that of a 10 year old child. This guy was so, so smart. He taught me many things. And I'm going to share just a couple with you. One is, he said, you know, we spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do.

We don't spend enough time helping leaders learn what to stop. He said, half the leaders I meet, they do not need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop. Well, that one comment led to my book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Now, the second thing he taught me, which is really good for younger people who are listening to your podcast right now, is this.

If your listeners don't understand anything I've said, but this one thing, it's going to help them be more effective in life and happier, including you. So this is just a great thing to learn. He said, our mission in life is to make a positive difference. Not to prove we're smart, not to prove we're right.

Well, we get so wrapped up trying to prove how smart we are and right we are, we forget we're not here on earth to do that. We're here to make a positive difference. If we don't make a positive difference, it doesn't really matter how smart we are, how right we are. Then he said, number two, every decision in the world is made by the person who has the power to make the decision.

Not the smartest person, the best person, a fair person, or a logical person. Decisions are made based on one and only one variable, power. Whoever has the power to make the decision is going to make the decision. Then he said, if I need to influence you and you have the power to make the decision, there's one word to describe you, that's called customer.

One word to describe me is called salesperson. You sell what you can sell. You change what you can change. If you can sell it, you sell it. If you can't sell it, you can't change it. Take a deep breath and let it go. It's just such good advice. And before you deal with any topic, ask yourself one question. Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?

Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? If the answer is yes, go for it. The answer is no. Let it go. 

[00:03:25] Hala Taha: That's really good advice. Something else that fascinated me about yourself and something that I feel is really different is that you describe yourself as a philosophical Buddhist.

So what steered you towards Buddhism and what has being a Buddhist taught you? 

[00:03:41] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, you're a little young for this, but back in the olden days, that was what was called a hippie. I spent, for example, 1969, three months out on the road hitchhiking. That was like living in another era. And back in that day, people often studied different kinds of religions and philosophies.

So I studied Buddhism. So I've been in Buddhism for, 50 years. And I'm not a religious Buddhist. I'm a philosophical Buddhist. Buddha was brought up very rich. His father was a king. He was protected from life and then he was living in a kind of bubble. One day he was able to sneak out of the bubble and he looked around and he learned something.

He said, people get old. Then he was able to sneak out a second time. He learned people get sick. Third time people die. He said, you get old, you get sick and you die. Shit happens. Not so good. Then he realized I can't be happy with more. All this money and stuff. It doesn't make any difference. Then he went out in the woods and starved himself and he tried to be happy with less And he learned you can't be happy with less either He finally realized you can only be happy with one thing what you have There's only one time you could be happy and it's now and there's only one place you can find peace.

That's here Yeah, that's to me the essence of buddhism and in my coaching. I teach something called feed forward Everybody asks for input. I teach them to listen to it to thank people and they don't promise to do everything But you do what you can and Buddha said only do what I teach if it works for you That's where I got the idea.

If it doesn't work for you, it's okay. Don't do it So when people give us ideas to try to help us, rather than judging them or critiquing their ideas or putting them down, you know, the learning point is you say thank you for the 

[00:05:23] Hala Taha: ideas. That's awesome. Super interesting. So, like I mentioned, you are a world renowned leadership coach.

Your clients are top performing CEOs and executives. But it's honestly a bit counterintuitive to think that top leaders who have achieved so much success have trouble changing any unfavorable behaviors that they have on their own and need to seek outside help from people like yourself. However, I know that's exactly what your popular book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, is all about.

And you have said in the past that success makes you fail. So can you explain why that is true and why? It's extremely hard for successful people to 

[00:06:02] Marshall Goldsmith: change. Well you're making a great point. Any human, in fact any animal, will replicate behavior that's followed by positive reinforcement. And the more successful we become, the more positive reinforcement we get.

And we fall into something called the superstition trap. What is it? Sounds like this. I behave this way. I am successful, therefore I must be successful because I behave this way. Well, the reality is we all behave the way we behave and everyone I work with is mega successful and, and they're all successful because they do many things right, and in spite of doing some things that are stupid.

And I've never met anyone so wonderful they had nothing on the in spite of list. Well, we've all got something on the in spite of list. See, one thing I'm very proud of in my book, Triggers, is 27 major CEOs endorsed the book. Why I'm so proud of that is 30 years ago, no CEO would admit to having a coach.

They would have been ashamed to have coach, embarrassed to have a coach. Well, today, they're not ashamed. We all need help. Twyla Tharp, world's greatest choreographer, has had the same personal trainer for 27 years. Why she had the same trainer for 27 years, I'm Twyla Tharp, I need help, and I'm saying, okay, that's why she looks so good.

Top 10 tennis players, how many of them have a coach? 10. Why do they have a coach? They're trying to get better. So, I think it's really just a healthy way to look at life. Yeah. 

[00:07:25] Hala Taha: So do you feel like there's a right balance between success and failure? Well, to 

[00:07:30] Marshall Goldsmith: me, On a more existential level, how do you define success?

I'll give you just a few key variables. One is, be healthy. If you're not healthy, the rest of this doesn't matter too much. Two, you need enough wealth to have at least a middle or upper middle class kind of income. Extremely poor people are not particularly happy, but after you get to kind of a mid level of income, from there on up, more money doesn't make you happier.

Lottery winners are not that much happier for example, so you need wealth to a degree you need health Then you need to have great relationships with people you love so You know your listeners shouldn't get so focused on their career. They more the people they love and then assuming you have enough wealth You're healthy.

You've got great relationships with people you love What matters two things the first is happiness and by happiness what I mean is you love the process of what you're doing You're just in a way doing it And the second is meaning that is the outcomes of what you're doing are important to you And what's really important in life is you need to experience both happiness and meaning simultaneously If you just try to achieve happiness without meaning Well, you know, like for me, when you're older, you're something like old man playing crappy golf with old people at the country club, eating chicken sandwiches and discussing gallbladder surgery.

That doesn't work, right? There's empty. It's empty. On the other hand, if you try to pursue meaning without happiness, you're a victim or a martyr. So you really need to, number one, love what you're doing, and two, you need to see it's meaningful to you. And the key to me for success is, no one can find happiness for you, but you.

No one can find meaning for you, but you. I cannot tell you what you love doing, that has to come from your heart. I can also not tell you what's meaningful for you, that also has to come from your heart. So happiness and meaning to me, that's the ultimate goal of success. It needs to come though from the inside, not from the outside.

Western diseases, I'll be happy when, when I get the money status, BMW condominium, I will be happy when, well, we all have the same win. You know, the key is, you know, be happy now, be happy with what you have. 

[00:09:37] Hala Taha: That's so touching and it's so true. You've definitely got to know from internally what really matters to you and make sure you fulfill those things. So really great advice. So let's talk about your two most popular books. What Got You Here Won't Get You There and Triggers. They've been recognized by Amazon.

com as two of the top 100 leadership and success books ever written. Millions and millions of people have benefited from your books, which is so incredible. So as an introduction to the books and also your expertise to our listeners, if our readers had to take away one key concept from each of these books, what would that be?

[00:10:15] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, first I'll start with what got you here won't get you there teach people. There is ask for input from everyone around you. How can I be a better manager? How can I be a better team player? How can I be a better supplier? How can I be a better customer? How can I be a better son or daughter? How can I be a better father, mother, better brother, sister, better friend, better family member?

Get in the habit of asking that question, how can I be a better? Then listen to what people have to say. Again, don't promise to do everything they say. Just promise to listen and think about it. Pick the most important things for you to improve and then just follow up on a regular basis. How am I doing?

Follow up on a regular basis, get input, and if you do this, I mean, I have research from tens of thousands of people, you tend to become more effective. Not as judged by yourself, but as judged by the most important people in your life. So that's from my book, What Got You Here, Weren't You There? In my book, Triggers, I'll teach your listeners something that takes three minutes a day, costs nothing, will help them get better at almost anything.

Now, some people are skeptical. Three minutes a day, cost nothing, don't make it better than anything. Sounds too good to be true! Mm hmm. Half the people that start doing this quit within two weeks. Not because it does not work, they quit because it does work. This is called the daily question process, and that's, you get out a spreadsheet, You write down a column of questions that represent what's most important in your life, friends, family, co workers, etc.

Every question has to be answered with a yes, a no, or a number. Seven boxes across, one for every day of the week. At the end of the week, the spreadsheet will give you a report card. I will warn your listeners in advance, the report card they see at the end of the week might not be quite as beautiful as the corporate values plaque you see stuck up on a wall.

I've been doing this for years, and you do this every day, you learn that life, life is incredibly easy to talk. Life's incredibly difficult to live. And if you do this every day, it's humbling. Most people can't do it. I have a woman named Jasmine call me every day. She's going to call me right after this call.

Every day she calls me and she listens to me read questions I wrote and provide answers I wrote every day. Someone asked me, well, why do you have a woman call you every day? Don't you know the theory about how to change behavior? I wrote the theory about how to change behavior. That woman called me every day because my name is Marshall Goldsmith.

I got ranked number one leadership thinker coach in the world and I'm too cowardly to do this stuff by myself and too undisciplined to do it by myself and I need help and it's okay. See, once we admit we need help, life is better for everybody and this daily question process is amazing. The first six questions I recommend are number one, and they all start with, did I do my best?

Number one, did I do my best to set clear goals? Number two, did I do my best to make progress for achieving my goals today? Number three, did I do my best to find meaning? Number four, did I do my best to be happy? Number five, did I do my best to build positive relationships? And finally, number six, did I do my best today to be fully engaged?

And our research on this is amazing. Just by asking these six questions every day, you tend to get better in amazing ways. And if your listeners would like to get articles, I wrote one called Leadership is a Context Sport that talks about the point I made from what got you here, won't get you there. I wrote another one called about the Daily Questions from the book Triggers.

If they just send me an email, I'd be happy to send them copies of both articles and my email address is marshall at marshallgoldsmith. com and Marshall has two L's. Cool. 

[00:13:47] Hala Taha: So let's stick on this daily questions for a bit. Why is it necessary to make sure that you are asking active questions rather than passive ones?

[00:13:57] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, there's nothing wrong with passive questions. Here's the issue. If you ask, like, employee engagement surveys, always ask passive questions. If you ask a person a passive question, we tend to blame the environment. For example, do you have clear goals? People say no. Why not? Well, they're confused. Do you have meaningful work?

No, they make me do trivia. It's them, it's their fault. See, these active questions begin with the phrase, did I do my best to? And what's amazing about that phrase is, You cannot blame someone else. All you have to do is try. You don't have to succeed. Did I even try? And that's why the active questions are so powerful.

Let me give you the hardest question you could ever test yourself on every day. It has four qualities. And this is totally counterintuitive. Quality number one is, you write the question. You write your own question. Why is that hard? You can't blame the idiot that wrote the question. Number two, you know the answer.

Why does that make it hard? You can't say you don't know how to do it. Number three, you know it's important. It's not trivial. And then finally, number four, all you have to do to make a high score is try. You just have to try. Yeah. Now you might ask, why is that so difficult? No one to blame. It's very hard to look in the mirror every day.

No one to blame but yourself. And I've been doing this for years and I learned about 95 percent of all my problems I can see in one place. Just look in the mirror. Very hard to face this for most people, including me, by the way. It's hard to do this every day. That's why a woman called me. 

 The thing I love about the daily questions is that it really helps to build a habit.

[00:15:38] Hala Taha: You know, they say if you don't do something daily, your behavior doesn't change. You don't change yourself. So sticking on habits, you outline 20 habits that hold people back from reaching the top. Some examples are winning too much, adding too much value and playing favorites. We don't have time to cover all 20 in detail, but I'd love to run through some core themes that I picked out that relate to these 20 habits.

Maybe let's start off with the theme of being too competitive. So, some habits you mentioned that I think fall into this category are winning too much, withholding information, claiming credit when we don't deserve it, and failing to provide recognition. So, can you talk to us about this type of quote unquote bad behavior and how it negatively impacts our relationships?

Well, what 

[00:16:24] Marshall Goldsmith: happens is we've been programmed to succeed and win. Every one of your listeners, including you, have taken test after test after test in your life. And I looked up your background, you're a very good student. 4. 0 grade average. You got a lot of reinforcement for doing one thing over and over again, proving how smart you are.

Over and over and over. And it's real tough. When you've had as much reinforcement as you've had for proving how smart you are to stop doing that. See, it's hard. Every time you made those A's, people pat you on the back. Oh, congratulations. You're the valedictorian of the school. And almost everyone I coach is just like you.

They're real smart, hardworking people. What's hard when you take tests day after day after day, not to just go through life proving how smart you are. Now, let me give you a couple examples of this. Winning too much. You want to go to restaurant X, your husband, wife, friend, or partner wants to go to restaurant Y.

You have a heated argument. You go to restaurant Y. Food tastes awful and the service is terrible. Option A, you could critique the food and point out our partner was wrong. And you know, this mistake could have been avoided if only you'd listened to me, me, me. Or option B, shut up. Eat the stupid food, try to enjoy it, and have a nice evening.

What would I do? What should I do? Almost all of my clients, what would I do? Critique the food. What should I do? Shut up. Well, it's very hard for smart, successful people not to critique the food. Another one, even worse, you have a hard day at work, you go home. Your husband, wife, friend, or partner is there and the other person says, I had such a hard day today.

I had such a tough day. And if we're not careful, we reply, you had a hard day. You had a hard day. Do you have any idea what I had to put up with today? You think you had a hard day? We're so competitive, we have to prove we're more miserable than the people we live with. I gave this example to my class at Dartmouth.

A young guy in the back raised his hand, he said, I did that last week. I asked him, what happened? He said, my wife looked at me, she said, Honey, you just think you've had a hard day? It's not over.

[00:18:24] Hala Taha: That's so funny. You know why we have the urge to want to win so much? What's the meaning behind that? Like, why is that so inherent for humans? 

[00:18:33] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, we've been reinforced throughout our lives for winning and proving we're smart and right. And again, at the lower level of an organization, that's really not so bad.

You kind of have to prove yourself every time you get promoted, though. You got to learn to stop doing that. And the worst thing a CEO can do is try to prove how smart they are and win all the time. At that level, you want to make everybody else a winner. Don't want to make it all about you. So it's a very difficult transition.

One of my customers said, for the great individual achiever, it's all about me. For the great leader, it's all about them. You see, it's hard to make this transition from being an achiever, which is mostly about me. To being a leader, which is mostly about them. Yeah. 

[00:19:13] Hala Taha: So let's talk about the habit of being negative.

So Always kind of giving negative feedback and also starting our sentences with no or but or however Can you explain that habit to our listeners? 

[00:19:26] Marshall Goldsmith: It's one of the classic challenges of the smart people I coach is they tend to be a little stubborn. Now, I'm assuming you're not stubborn, but many of the leaders that I coach are stubborn people.

So, one night I was having dinner with General Eric Shinseki, he's head of the United States Army, four star general. We're in a room surrounded by two to four star generals. He said, Marshall, who is your favorite customer? I said, sir, my favorite customer, smart, dedicated, hard working, driven to achieve, creative, entrepreneurial, cares about the company and customers, great values, high integrity.

Stubborn, opinionated, know it all that never wants to be wrong. I said, sir, you think any of the generals in this very room may fit such a description? He said, Marshall, we have a target rich opportunity. Well, there's no but, however, thing is the classic problem with stubborn people. If someone talks to us, the first word of mouth is no.

We just say, shut up, you're wrong, or but. What does but mean? Just regard everything you've said. One of my clients was stubborn and opinionated, so I was reviewing his 360 feedback report. He said, but Marshall. I said, that's free. If you ever do that again, I'm going to find you 20. All the money goes to the charity of your choice.

He said, but Marshall 20, no 40. No, no, no 60, 80, a hundred. He lost 420 in an hour and a half at the end of the hour and a half. He said, thank you. He said, I had no idea. He said, I did that 21 times with throwing it in my face. How many times would I have done it had you not been throwing it in my face? 50 times?

100 times? He said, no wonder people think I'm stubborn. The first thing I do when people talk to me is I prove I know more than them or they're wrong over and over and over and over again. He got so much better at being a good listener just by learning that. 

[00:21:07] Hala Taha: Yeah, a big takeaway I got from your book is that you need to sometimes just like pause and if you're going to say negative response or if you're going to say no or but start off with thank you instead and show your gratitude.

And one of my favorite stories actually that you tell is about gratitude and self control. You talk about being in the car with your wife, for example, maybe on the way to the red light. And, you know, I've had this happen to me with my boyfriend maybe 10 times at least. So could you tell us about this story and share the lesson on why the best response you can say when you're unsure or when you're going to say something negative is simply thank you.


[00:21:48] Marshall Goldsmith: you know, it's interesting. Everyone says they want to encourage honest input. We want people to tell the truth, and we don't want to punish the messenger. So when I teach my classes, I always say, How many of you believe you should encourage honest input, encourage the truth? Don't you? And they all raise their hand, right?

And I said, Well, you wouldn't shoot the messenger, would you? Oh, no, no, of course not. Then I gave them this case study. Imagine you come home from work, you've had a hard day. You get in the car to go to the store. You're driving to the store, lots of traffic. Cars are cutting in front of you, people honking their horns.

The person in the front seat goes, Look out! There's a red light up ahead! You say, Thank you? Or did you say, What do you mean there's a red light? Do you think I can see? I'm gonna drive this car. Would you be quiet and let me drive? Well, almost everyone in the room chose plan B. So what was the cost of that person saying, Hey, there's a red light up ahead?

Nothing. What could that have saved? Your life, their life, and the lives of other innocent people. Somebody gives us something that has a fantastic potential benefit and costs nothing. What should we say to this person? Just say thank you. Just say thank you and don't beat them up for telling you the truth.

[00:22:50] Hala Taha: So let's talk about improving some of these bad behaviors. You were a pioneer of the use of 360 degree feedback. Can you tell us about this 

[00:22:58] Marshall Goldsmith: process? In my coaching, every leader that I work with gets confidential feedback from all of their key stakeholders. These will be their direct reports, their peers, their managers, could be board members, and then they pick important behavior to improve.

Then they go back and talk to people saying, Thank you for this feedback. Here's what I've learned. Here's what I'm going to do about it. They practice and feed forward. They don't ask for more feedback about the past ideas for the future. They don't critique the ideas. They shut up. They thank people.

Don't promise to do everything. And then they follow up on a regular basis. And the follow up is, you know, two months ago I said I wanted to be a better listener based on the last two months. I guess for the next two, they follow up, follow up, follow up. And then we measure improvement. And again, the people that do this stuff tend to get better.

People that don't, don't. 

[00:23:44] Hala Taha: So I'm not sure which book this was in exactly, but you say that people change their ways when they feel like something they truly value is being threatened.

Can you talk about this and maybe also talk about some of the big excuses people have for change? 

[00:24:00] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, change is hard. And if we're going to change anything, we really have to have kind of a what's in it for me in terms of values. And that's why feedback is important. Most people do value their families.

And they get feedback from their families that they're not doing a good job, they want to get better. Most people value their co workers. They get feedback from their co workers, they're not doing a good job, they want to get better, so. That's really important. In my book, Triggers, I talk about why we don't do all the stuff we know we should.

And there are a variety of reasons. Years ago, my biggest client was Johnson Johnson and at the end of my class, about 98 percent of the people said they were going to do what I taught. A year later, about 70 percent had done something and 30 percent had done nothing. I'm not ashamed of these numbers. I'm very proud.

70 percent of 2, 000 people is 1, 400 people getting evaluated by 10 co workers each. So about, you know, 14, 000 people have a little better life, so I'm proud of that. I got to interview the people who did nothing. And I said, why'd you do nothing? Well, the answers had nothing to do with ethics, values, or integrity.

They went in a word that you're the most ethical company in the world. They're good people. I'm sure your listeners are good people. Had nothing to do with intelligence. They're smart. I'm sure your listeners are smart. The reason people did nothing had to do with a dream. A dream I've had for years, and I would bet even at your young age you've already had this dream.

The dream sounds like this. You know, I'm incredibly busy right now. Given work at home and new technology that follows me everywhere and emails and voicemails and global competition, I, I feel about as busy as I ever have. Sometimes I feel overcommitted. Every now and again, my life feels just a little bit out of control.

But you know, I'm working on some very unique and special challenges right now. And I think the worst of this is going to be over in four or five months. And after that, I'm going to take two or three weeks and get organized and spend some time with the family and begin my new Healthy life program that everything is going to be different and it won't be crazy anymore.

Have you ever had a dream that resembled that dream? Yeah. How many years? 

[00:26:00] Hala Taha: Well, you know what? I'm very much the person who doesn't believe in being busy and it's a matter of prioritizing. But as a younger person, I definitely acted like that. Yeah. Good, 

[00:26:10] Marshall Goldsmith: good, good, good, good. And so it's really important and we use all kinds of excuses.

Another excuse is one of my favorites. It's called, uh, it's a special day. You know, I'm going on that diet, but it's the Super Bowl, so I'm going to eat that Super Bowl pizza and guacamole, or it's my birthday, or it's my kid's birthday, or my boyfriend's birthday, or my mother's birthday, you know, somebody's birthday.

So if we're not careful, we can make up this special day excuse to cover almost every day. Every day is a little special or different and makes an excuse and so in my book Triggers I talk about all these wonderful excuses we have that keep us from doing what we know we should and It's hard. It's hard to face the reality of our lives.

That's why the daily question process is so 

[00:26:51] Hala Taha: hard Yeah So let's move on to triggers since we're already talking about it Can you explain to our listeners what a behavioral trigger 

[00:27:00] Marshall Goldsmith: is? Well triggers in any stimulus that may impact our behavior. It could be a sight a sound a word a person Any stimulus that impacts our behavior as we journey through life?

You know, we all have this image of the person that we want to become. Well, why don't we become this person? Well, every day we journey through life, we have these triggers, these events that occur, these sights, and they usually sometimes push us toward becoming that person, but usually push us away from becoming that person.

Somebody says something, we become angry, we go off the handle, the driving case study. You smell something, eat food you didn't want to eat. You told yourself you shouldn't eat. So as we journey through life, Very important to realize what are the triggers in my life that really set off behavior that's inconsistent with the person I want to become and How can I number one anticipate these triggers?

So then I can start becoming aware of them before they happen and anticipate them if possible avoid them And if not possible to avoid them at least learn how to adjust my behavior So that I'm not being controlled by these triggers and if you look at life You can say, you know, how much do I control and how much am I controlled?

And you can look at different dimensions. If you've ever been to a motivational speech, they're always the same, you know, you can do it. You can do it. It's all up to you. You can do it. Or the book, The Secret. If I envision it, it will happen. Well, you know, it's partly true and partly not so true. The other view is we're like a pinball machine, pinball bouncing through life and B.

F. Skinner, the Harvard psychologist, basically said that we're just controlled by triggers in our environment. We have no control. Well, in my book Triggers, I think they're both a little bit true. We have some control and part of my life is a function of what I can control. And part of it is I am being controlled.

And the whole idea of the book is really to just balance the equation a little bit more in terms of I'm in charge of my own life and a little bit less of I'm just being manipulated by my environment. 

[00:28:59] Hala Taha: Yeah, before we move on to environment, let's just dig deeper into habits and triggers and feedback loops.

Specifically, I'd like you to explain what a feedback loop is to our listeners. So it's comprised of four stages, evidence, relevance, consequence, and action. Could you maybe walk us through a real life example of a feedback loop so that our listeners could really understand what it is? Well, you're 

[00:29:24] Marshall Goldsmith: driving your car.

And you see a sign that says speed limit, 30 miles an hour coming up in a small town. It was evidence that something's going to happen. And then how important is it? We think I might get a ticket. And then eventually think that's relevant. And then you've got this evidence, which would lead to a consequence, which is something bad.

And you ultimately end up changing your behavior. So as we go through life, we're constantly given the opportunity to deal with these feedback loops. And the important thing is to say, all right, am I being sensitive enough to these feedback loops? Am I aware of what's really going on around me? For example, you have a little child.

The little child says, you know, I miss you, mommy. What does that mean? How can I process this? And the co worker who seems upset. Being able to read your environment as best you can, so that you're learning from the environment at all times. And then you're able to make adjustments in your behavior that fit the needs of the people in your environment.

 So when it comes to triggers is the key to be aware of them and learn how to avoid or replace those triggers? 

[00:30:40] Marshall Goldsmith: First become aware. What are the triggers that set me off? Then if you can avoid the triggers avoid them. For example, if you only quit drinking don't go to bars You want to quit smoking don't smoke if you want to quit eating chocolate get chocolate out of your house Because when the stimulus is there you're much more likely to do it So just avoiding it if you can is the first thing but sometimes you can't avoid it So if you can't avoid it, then you're going to need to learn to adjust to adjust your behavior So it kind of fits that you know, look I love chocolate I can't get it all the house because my wife likes to eat it, too And she wants it to be here, but I need to realize when I see this chocolate i'm going to be tempted to eat it So how can I adjust my behavior so that I don't 

[00:31:22] Hala Taha: yeah And like you mentioned like a big trigger is your environment So in your book you say if we do not create and control our environment our environment Creates and controls us you call the environment things like the devil and that we should treat it like our enemy Why such the hard feelings could you dig into that a little deeper?

[00:31:41] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, what happens is i'm reading a book now called deep work it's a great book it talks about social media and how we can become completely addicted to social media in a way that's Not healthy. The average kid that's flunking out of school in the United States spends 55 hours a week on non academic media.

So, you know, it's like an addiction and he talks about how Facebook can be addictive and depressing and the more hours you spend on Facebook the more depressed you tend to be for two reasons one You see all these fake lives You know, the vacation's always positive, and the kids are always beautiful, and you think, gee, my life isn't as good as that.

Well, nobody's life is that good. It's a fake life. Or you're posting fake lives, and you realize that's not really me anyway. It's depressing either way. So I think, you know, very important to realize that we are bombarded by stimulus. And this hasn't become less real in the new world. This has become a lot more real.

And we need to really back away and say, Am I being controlled by this, or am I controlling this? And if we're not careful, we end up being controlled by this. So, uh, when I was a professor at Dartmouth, a young man used to drive me a limo driver back and forth, and uh, he flunked out of school, he spent 25, 000 hours of his life playing a video game, World of Warcraft.

25, 000 hours. That's an addiction. You get two PhDs in 25, 000 hours, you played a video game, well, that's an addiction. So you really need to be sensitive to, how much am I controlling this, and how much is this controlling me? Yeah. 

[00:33:16] Hala Taha: Can you talk about some of the ways that we can Change our habits. We talked about the daily questions, but other any other commitment devices that we can employ 

[00:33:25] Marshall Goldsmith: get help in the same way that you know, I have help.

I have someone call me every day. Why? I need help. If you haven't fixed it by yourself in the last 10 years, you're probably not gonna fix it by yourself next week. Just admit you need help, and it's okay to need help. Like I said, my book triggers, look at the names of the people who endorse my book. I'm CEO of the United States, I need help.

I'm with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I need help. I'm head of the world's largest pharmaceutical company, I need help. I'm president of the World Bank, I need help. Well, they're not too good to get help, so don't be above getting help, because we almost all need help. And again, if you could do it by yourself, you would have done it by now.

[00:34:02] Hala Taha: Yeah. So you have these concepts of magic moves. Two of them we covered, the power of asking active questions, asking for help, which you just covered, but we didn't cover two of them, apology and optimism. Could you tell us more about these magic moves? Well, 

[00:34:18] Marshall Goldsmith: let's start with apology. Very important. All my clients who do this, they all get confidential feedback and none of them are feedback is perfect.

So I'll have things to approve. So the first thing I tell them is they say they apologize. Say, for example, I've gotten feedback indicates I need to be a better listener. If I've not listened to hear the other people, I'm sorry, please accept my apology. There's no excuse. Well, if you want everybody else to take responsibility as a leader, let him watch you take responsibility.

Let them watch you take responsibility, and that's, you know, a very important message to send a role model to people. Don't try to be better than everybody else. Just be a fellow human being, and everybody takes responsibility. The other one is optimism. And this has been studied to death. I mean if you don't believe you're going to do something you probably won't if you tell yourself I can't do this.

It's just the way I am. Well, you probably are right You can't do it and that's just the way you are You have to tell yourself why am I saying this is just the way I am Why am I saying I can't do this unless you have an incurable genetic defect. You can probably change Well, since almost no one I coach has incurable genetic defects.

They can all get better You know, you can't make yourself taller Optimism won't make yourself taller, but you can become a better listener or better with people. You can be better at giving recognition. These are all positive things you can change, not things you can't change. Yeah. 

[00:35:44] Hala Taha: One thing that we didn't get to touch on that I think is actually really important and you just alluded to it is listening.

What makes listening so powerful? 

[00:35:54] Marshall Goldsmith: Well, you know, if you want to show concern for other people, you need to be able to listen. What is the message you communicate to people when you're not listening? I don't really care about what you have to say, or you. And one thing I teach people on listening, this is somewhat counterintuitive, is this.

A lot of people think we don't listen, not by what we say, but how we look. So I always try to teach my clients, pretend you're on video, and you're going to be judged by do you look like you care? Number one, it'll probably help you be a better listener, but people will feel you're a better listener. Now, have you ever had this happen before?

Has anyone ever looked at you and said, you're not listening? Yeah. And then have you ever repeated what they said verbatim to prove they were wrong? That doesn't really help the relationship. When somebody says you're not listening, what they're really saying is you don't care. You see, if you look like you cared, no one would ever say you're not listening.

What they're really saying is you don't look like you care. And the higher up you go, the more important this becomes. At the CEO level, this is critically important. Let's say I'm in a meeting. I've heard this presentation 20 times before. I know everything that's going to be said. It's been vetted 12 times before I see it.

On the other hand, if I look bored and disinterested, the young person making the presentation, this will break their heart. They'll feel terrible. So I teach people, look, you gotta look like you care. And that's not being a phony. That's being a professional. You gotta communicate to that person what you're saying is important to me.

And not just To what you save and how you look and if you don't they'll just be devastated. So it's a great lesson to learn at all levels of management. When you're young, it's important. When you're old, it's 

[00:37:29] Hala Taha: important. Yeah. Totally agree. So to close out the episode, you have an article on Inc. com that's called, Do You Have Mojo or Nojo?

And I thought it would be a cute and memorable way to end the show. Could you tell our listeners the difference between mojo and nojo? 

[00:37:45] Marshall Goldsmith: Mojo is that positive spirit towards life, which starts on the inside and radiates to the outside. And you see that when you. Go to the store, check into the hotel at the airport.

You know, it's that positive spirit which radiates to the outside. And nojo is exactly the opposite. It's that negative spirit which radiates to the outside. That spirit that says, I don't want to be here, I don't like this, I don't want to talk to you. So I think very important as we journey through life to look at two things.

One, generating that positive spirit inside ourselves. And going back to those questions. You know, am I doing my best today to be happy? Am I doing my best to find meaning? Am I doing my best to be engaged? Build relationships, generating that positive spirit inside yourself. And then number two, back to, imagine you're on video, communicating that positive spirit to everyone around you.

And I think as you mentioned a couple of times, even more important at home than it is at work. Communicating the spirit of, I'm happy to see you. I love you. You're important to me. And good to do those good things at work, even better to do them at home. And how about no jo? Well, no jo is the opposite.

That's, you know, I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I don't want to be here. Go away. I'm gonna I said American Airlines. I have over 11 million frequent flyer miles I'm on a three hour flight one flight attendants positive motivated upbeat enthusiastic and the others negative bitter angry and cynical I'm sure you've been on the same flight Well, what's the difference?

It's not American Airlines It's the flight attendant. It's what's in our heart. It's what's different and really don't get lost on the environment Let me give your listeners my final good advice. Are you ready? Mm hmm. I'd like everybody take a deep breath Imagine you're 95 years old and you're just getting ready to die right before you take that last breath You're giving a beautiful gift the ability to go back in time and talk to the person that's listening to me right now The ability to help that person be a better leader and have a happier life.

What advice would that wise old person have for the young person that's listening to me right now? Well, whatever your listeners are thinking now, do that. In terms of a performance appraisal, that's the only one that matters. That old person sees you did the right thing, you did. That old person sees you made a mistake, you did.

You don't have to impress anybody else. Some of my friends interviewed old folks who were dying and got to ask this question. What advice would you have? On a personal side, three themes. Theme number one, three words, be happy now. Not next week, not next month, not next year. Be happy now. The Great Western Disease, I'll be happy when?

When I get that money, status, BNW, a condominium. We all have the same when. Learning point from old people. I got so busy looking for what I didn't have, I couldn't see what I did have. I had everything. All your listeners, many of them are smart people, hardworking people, good people, compared to me, young people.

Don't get so focused on what you don't have, you can't see what you do. Learning point number two, on the personal side, we've discussed several times, friends and family. You realize these people are important, and number you have a drink, go for it. Because you don't go for it when you're 35, you may not when you're 85, and it doesn't have to be a big one.

Maybe a little one. Go to New Zealand, speak Spanish, whatever it is, just do it. Business advice isn't much different. Number one, life is short. Have fun. Number two is do whatever you can do to help people. And the main reason to do that has nothing to do with money or status or getting ahead. The main reason to do it is a 95 year old, you'll be proud of you because you did and disappointed because you don't.

And then finally, go for it. Old people, we almost never regret the risk we take and fail. We always regret the risk we fail to take. And finally, thank you so much for asking me to be on your podcast. And I hope that it's been useful to your listeners and help them have a little better life. It 

[00:41:36] Hala Taha: has. So where can our listeners go to find more about you and everything that you do?

Send me 

[00:41:40] Marshall Goldsmith: an email. Marshall with two L's at marshallgoldsmith. com website. I've got 300 videos online, www. marshallgoldsmith. com. Go to any of these sites and, uh, I have new stuff on LinkedIn, 1. 3 million followers. I can't do any more LinkedIn connections because they tap out after I think 30 or 40, 000, but I can do more followers.

And so go to any of those sites and I'm happy to share everything I know with everyone. 

[00:42:06] Hala Taha: Awesome. It was such an honor. I want to be respectful of our time. So thank you so much for joining Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:42:13] Marshall Goldsmith: Oh, thank you so much for inviting me and I hope I get to see you in New York sometime.


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