S11E09: How CEOs hold themselves back, with Marshall Goldsmith

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S11E09: How CEOs hold themselves back, with Marshall Goldsmith

Today Richard Medcalf speaks with the legendary Marshall Goldsmith, in this episode of our "CEO Rolodex" season. 

Marshall is the only two-time winner of the Thinkers 50 Award for #1 Leadership Thinker in the World. He has been ranked as the #1 Executive Coach in the World and a Top Ten Business Thinker for the past eight years. Dr. Goldsmith is the author or editor of 36 books, including three New York Times bestsellers, that have sold over 2.5 million copies and been listed bestseller in 12 countries. Amazon cites him as the author of two of the Top 100 Leadership & Success Books Ever Written.

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • What Marshall has learned about being fulfilled
  • Why "BHAGs" are rubbish
  • Whether achievement does actually lead to happiness
  • The biggest mindset challenges CEOs have - and how they hold them back
  • Marshall's definition of legacy

“Big Hairy Audacious Goals? Absolute rubbish."

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Transcript

Marshall Goldsmith
Achievement relates to actually getting results related to specific goals. Happiness is the process of life itself. They’re not the same thing. They are independent variables. A lot of people say, well, if I’m happy, I’ll achieve more. Maybe. Maybe not. If I have higher aspirations, I will be achieving more.

Maybe, maybe not. And ridiculous, big, hairy, audacious goals. I mean, no offense. That is such a ridiculous concept. Why? Every waitress in Hollywood said big, hairy, audacious goals, and they’re all waiting on tables. Yeah. This is retroactive logic. It’s called the survivor bias.

Yeah. He set big goals. He’s a success. Therefore, if I set big goals, I will be a success.

Richard Medcalf
Welcome to the Impact Multiplier CEO podcast. I’m Richard Metcalfe, founder of XQuadrant, and my mission is to help the world’s top CEOs and entrepreneurs shift from incremental to exponential progress and create a huge positive impact on our world. Now that requires you to reinvent yourself and transform your business. So if you’re ready to play a bigger game than ever before, I invite you to join us and become an Impact Multiplier CEO. Today, I speak with legendary business thinker, Marshall Goldsmith. Markle is the only 2 times winner of the thinkers fifty award For number 1 leadership thinker in the world, he’s been ranked the number 1 executive coach, top 10 business thinker for the past 8 years, Author, editor of 36 books, 3 New York Times bestsellers, 2,500,000 copies sold, bestseller in 12 countries. This guy is the real deal. And in this conversation, we get into deep star.

We get into what he’s learned over his long and illustrious career about being fulfilled. We talk about why the traditional advice about big, Hairy, audacious goals turns out to be rubbish. We look at whether achievement leads to happiness, and if not, what does. We look at the biggest mindset challenges that most CEOs face in his experience, and we talk about legacy. Marshall’s somebody who’s at the phase in his life where he’s really, really serious about legacy. And so I really encourage you to listen in, Digests all this wisdom from the legendary Marshall Goldsmith. Hi, Marshall. Welcome to the show.

Marshall Goldsmith
Oh, thank you so much for inviting me.

Richard Medcalf
Well, you know, I almost hesitated. I almost actually started this conversation with, welcome Moses to the show, because for me, you’re a bit like Moses. You know, you’re the grandfather of executive coaching. You know, you’ve gotta come down the mountain various times. I think 55 times or how many books you’ve written With various tablets. And you look a bit like Moses as well. So on how I imagine Moses. So, I would have said Pythagoras, but I used that on David Allen.

So I’m gonna stick with Moses you. I think I’m gonna start to name all my heroes, with different little images. So, Marshall, I’m really happy to speak to you today. You’ve influenced my own coaching practice. I know you’re one of the world’s probably the world’s most well known executive coach. You’ve been doing it for years years. The coach of extraordinary, leaders. I’d love to start with something about happiness because many year a few years ago, I reached out to you About when it I asked you for tip.

I was writing a blog post. I was like, what’s a tip you’ve got for leaders who wanna improve their effectiveness? And he basically said, well, Just check that you’re actually happy. And I see this a lot with some of my clients. They’re sh they’re driven, they’re driving, they’re making big things happen. And yet when you start to scratch the surface, the frustration, the anxiety, the fatigue. So I’m not even bored with what they’re doing at this point. I’m just curious, what’s your experience been about happiness, and how do you Help people to reconnect to that.

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, I think, you know, this is really important. I’m gonna ramble on, if you don’t mind, But in my book, The Earned Life, I talk a lot about this one. And so if you look at what leads to a great life, what matters in life anyway? It’s not that much. 1 is you need to have like a middle class or below middle class level of income. So nobody listen to this call. Money’s not They may think money’s gonna make them happier. It won’t. I I I work with a lot of billionaires.

I can tell you money. There’s almost no correlation between happiness and money. Some of them are very happy. Some of them are miserable. Part of you do need to at least enough to get by, and everybody’s got that. Number 2, you need to have good relationship with people you love, and, probably, I’m not gonna help them do that particularly. Number 3, take care of your health. But assuming that you’re healthy, you’ve got a good relationship with people you love, and you got a middle class income, what matters? Three things.

One, you need a sense of higher aspiration in life. Why am I doing this? What’s the purpose of all this? As you mentioned, why? Why am I doing that? You need some answer to that question, that aspiration is beyond an individual achievement. One thing you mentioned when we talked earlier is that, You know, great leaders are not working for money as such. They’re working because they find a sense of purpose and meaning in what they’re doing. The second element for living Great life adventure ambitions need to connect to these higher aspirations. So you’re actually achieving something that is meaningful, and what you’re achieving, though, is connected into something that’s important, higher aspiration. And then number 3, we’re gonna talk about because that’s the one you brought up. Now you need to enjoy the process of life.

You need to be happy. Now people define happiness in different ways. I never get into a semantic debates, but I’m gonna give you my definition of happiness, and that’s I love the process of what I’m doing. As opposed to the outcomes, happiness is the moment. I enjoy doing it now. I enjoy the process of this experience now, and all 3 of these are very important. The people listening to you right now or listening to us, One, some people fixate on the aspiration stage. They have high goals, aspirations.

They don’t really achieve anything, but they got lofty thoughts, and they may not enjoy life at all. Some human service leaders, for example, love humanity. They just hate humans. So, you know, they they kind of live it in their head. Some people most humans are lost in the the stage of day to day life. You know, they play the video game. They go through life. Our ancestors were poor people.

They didn’t have time to think about higher level aspirations. They were just getting by the day. That’s most of humans. That’s not your listener. Most people listening to us right now have a different problem. They’re addicted to achievement. They’re addicted to achievement, and they fall into a classic western trap. What is it? Once I achieve this, it’s all gonna be better.

Once I get the money status, BMW condominium, $1,000,000, $1,000,000,000, something. Once I get this, it’s all gonna be okay, and I’m gonna be happy. Couple of problems with this. 1 is there is no there. Once I get there, there is no place called there. There’s only 1 book that has the same ending, and they lived happily ever after. That book is unfortunately called a fairy tale. That’s not that’s about the real world.

You know, you can get some place where you’re eternally happy all the time. And then the other problem that occurs with this thinking is people forget a couple of things. 1, they may forget why they’re doing it. And then number 2, they don’t enjoy the process of life itself. They get lost. They literally forget to be happy. Now in my in my book triggers, I interview 3 of the smartest people I ever met. Okay.

Doctor Jim Kim obviously, I can use their name. Doctor Jim Kim has a Simultaneous MD and PhD with honors from Harvard in anthropology in 5 years. Normal human to get a PhD in anthropology from Harvard takes 8 years. He went in 5 years got a medical degree at the same time. He went on to be president of Dartmouth and then see head of the World Bank. Doctor John Noseworthy, head of the Mayo Clinic, number 1 hospital in the world, and doctor Rasha, head of the United States Agency For International Development at age 37. Brilliant people. All 3 ask a question individually.

On the average day, how would you score, and did I do my best to be happy? All 3 had the same answer. Never dawned on me to try to be happy.

Richard Medcalf
Never dawned on me. Wow. Yeah.

Marshall Goldsmith
Dawned on me to try to be happy. Now they’re all medical doctors. I said, did it dawn on you you’re gonna die? Did they cover that in medical school? That death thing? Yeah. They brought that one up. Death. Yeah. I said, do you think this is a silly question? He said no. Very important question I forgot to ask.

Now I had a very similar experience 2 weeks ago weeks ago, I coached the guys worth about $4,000,000,000. So I said to him, why do you wanna hire me as your Coach, anyway, am I supposed to boost straight up from 4,000,000,000 to 4,100,000,000? You know? Who cares? Right? You said you’re right. Who cares? It doesn’t matter. I said he said he coached my friend, and he was happier. I wanna be happier. I said, great. So I worked with a guy for a year. He gets happy.

Life is good. 2 years later, I just called in 2 weeks ago. How’s it going? I said, what happened? You know what he said? Forgot to be happy.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. It’s so it’s so interesting, isn’t it? It’s, what’s going to my mind is You talked about empty achievement. Right? So we’re driving, we’re driving, but we’re not sure what we’re doing. Sometimes people then focus on purpose. Why am I doing this, and what’s what contribution do I wanna make? I love that. You know? I’m all about that. I’m all about impact. That’s The whole point of this podcast and and what I do.

The danger with having a purpose is that if you still do it on the same mindset as you are when you were being, Just like just getting the money is is actually becomes a millstone around your head because it’s like another thing you’ve got to do. I know almost the world is now on your shoulders because it’s deeply important. And so you have to actually kinda hold it lightly. That’s why I said rather than playing to not to lose or playing to win, you get to play to play. So this is just worth doing. I’m gonna do it. But I also know that if I’m coming from a creative, Fun place. I realize when I have the most fun, my clients get the most impact.

It’s crazy. Right? I think that happens for every leader.

Marshall Goldsmith
You know, it’s interesting. You’re making a great point. We all believe I’ll be happier after I achieve. Fill in the blanks. This doesn’t work. I’m a Buddhist. And Buddha teaches the concept of the hungry ghost. If that’s the way you think, You’re always gonna be eating.

You’re never gonna be full. Let me give you a couple of extreme examples. One is my good client, Albert Bourla. He wrote one of the, endorsements for my book. Albert was the CEO of Pfizer, and a couple years ago, I go, Albert, how’s it going? Well, good. We came off that vaccine. I said, Albert, I took that great job CEO of the year and, company made high profits, highest profitability, very good employee engagement, on and on. Albert, what a year.

What a year. I said, What’s your biggest problem, Albert? He said I have a huge problem. Next year. If his value as a human is he has to do better than last Here, he can write it off. It’s never gonna happen. Michael Phelps won 25 gold medals more than anyone in history. What do you think about doing after that? Killing himself. You’re not gonna find happiness out there.

Happiness and achievement are independent variables. You’re not gonna achieve your way to happiness, and you’re not gonna enjoy yourself to achievement. Now I went to UCLA and got a PhD. Last year, they had 165,000 applicants to UCLA. I taught at a school in India recently. It had 10 times that many. The Indian Institute of Technology, the hardest school in by far in the world. So my friend is a billionaire.

He wants to be teachers. Okay. I’m I’m thinking These are techie kids. I can listen to old man talk about Buddhist nonsense. Right? Well, the place is full. That surprised me. Then I said, well, they’re gonna sit there and use their cell phones. I started talking about life and happiness and meaning.

What’s it all about? 10 kids started crying while I was talking. They never had a life. You don’t get into Indian Institute of Technology if you start trying when you’re 18. No. Not at all. By the way, you don’t get into that school. Mommy and daddy got into that school. So these kids’ whole life has been achievement, and they were always given a dream.

If you get into IIT, you made it. You get into I

Richard Medcalf
Oh, much. Let me ask you about this. Yeah. Because definitely there at IIIT, that’s what’s happening. But do I would imagine I’ve seen I’ve seen this, but I wanna check your experience. Like, what happens when you are the CEO of a $1,000,000,000 company?

Marshall Goldsmith
Oh, yeah. Same thing.

Richard Medcalf
Same thing. Right? Because they still don’t feel safe or secure. I mean, well, what drives what is that drive achievement drive?

Marshall Goldsmith
Look. It’s okay to be the CEO of a big company, and it’s okay to make money. That’s fine. The point is you can’t Place your value as a human being on that. Now key point. A guy in our group is Safi Bahcall. I said, now, Safi is a brilliant scientist. I said, Safi, what did you learn from us when you did all these groups? We were I met with 600.

We spent 600 hours over COVID, my friend Mark Thompson and I, with 60 amazing people. Their names are in the book, not a secret who they are. I said, Safi, what’d you learn? He said, I learned one thing. Happiness and achievement are independent variables. He used to think, I’ll be happy if I achieve more. He said, no. I won’t. Be happy be happy and achieve to achieve? I said, Safia, I’m glad to realize that you already have a PhD in physics from Stanford.

You’ve written a New York Times best selling book. You’ve made 1,000,000 of dollars. You started 4 companies successfully and consulted the president. If that is not enough achievement to make you happy, do you really think a little bit more is gonna get it over the line?

Richard Medcalf
And so and so within that You said you’re what? What’s the point of achievement from your perspective?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, achievement relates to actually getting results related to specific goals. Happiness is the process of life itself. They’re not the same thing. They are independent variables. A lot of people say, well, if I’m happy, I’ll achieve more. Maybe. Maybe not. If I have higher aspirations, I will be achieving more.

Maybe, maybe not. And ridiculous, big, hairy, audacious goals. I mean, no offense. That is such a ridiculous concept. Why? Every waitress in Hollywood said big, hairy, audacious goals, and they’re all waiting on tables. Yeah. This is retroactive logic. It’s called the survivor bias.

Yeah. He set big goals. He’s a success. Says, therefore, if I set big goals, I will be a success. No. Maybe not. I live in Nashville. Every waitress here is a songwriter or singer.

So, you know, let me give you one other story. Jack Welch almost died. Jack Welch, former CFGE, famous guy, almost died. My friend’s his buddy. He said, Jack, what’d you learn about life when you almost died, had triple bypass? That’s only one thing. You know what he said? Why am I drinking the damn cheap wine every night? Why am I drinking a cheap wine? I’m Jack Welch. I’m rich. What am I thinking? I almost died.

Right? You get this wine cellar filled with great wine. He’s drinking cheap wine, and then what am I doing here? The

Richard Medcalf
So so the question that comes to my mind is, what are the sources of motivation then? Right? Because a lot of people, They think, well, if achievement isn’t how are you gonna be happy? Then why am I, why do I need to achieve anything more? I’ve already got that back.

Marshall Goldsmith
You know what? Achieve to achieve. I’m not saying achievement is bad.

Richard Medcalf
I I know. I’m just wondering, for example, for you much, but what What drives you to achieve things that you need to?

Marshall Goldsmith
Good. Good. Achievement. I mean, I achieve a lot. On the other hand, achievement doesn’t make you happy. Now be happy to be happy. I I wanna give people a test. Every day, ask 1 question.

Did I do my best to be happy today? Just ask yourself that question. Did I do my best to be happy today? You wake up in the morning and say, you know what? Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. Did I do my best to be happy today? And it’s amazing that helps. The guy I just talked to, the billionaire, forgot to ask a question. I wake up. I forgot to try to be happy. Well, you know, be happy. Be happy.

Go, don’t. And by the way, you know the marshmallow test? Stanford University had this marshmallow. Take a kid. You give 1 marshmallow. Eat 1, you get 1, but you wait. Oh, you get 2. So the research says, oh, the kids that waited, big success. The kids that he won, loser.

What they didn’t do is take the kid today too and say, kid, wait a minute. Wait. Wait. A little bit more. 3. Oh. A little bit more. 4, 5, 10, a100, a1000.

Where does the story end? An old man Sitting in a room filled with uneaten marshmallows waiting to die. Sometimes you have to eat the marshmallow.

Richard Medcalf
The marshmallows. I love it.

Marshall Goldsmith
Eat the marshmallow. You you you don’t ever eat the marshmallow. Here’s the problem with delayed gratification. If you live a life filled with delayed gratification, you know what you get a lot of delay. And you know what? You don’t get much of gratification. Almost every self help book says the same thing. Delayed gratification is good, sort of. Sort of.

Richard Medcalf
I hope you’re enjoying this conversation. This is just a quick interlude to introduce you to 2 transformative programs that we run. The first is Rivendell, My exclusive group of top CEOs who are committed to transforming themselves, their businesses, and the world. It’s an incredible peer group and a deep coaching experience that will push you to new heights no matter how successful you’ve already been. The second is Impact Accelerator, a coaching program for executives who are ready to make a big leap forward in their own leadership. It’s readily described as life changing, and no other program provides such personal strategic clarity, A measurable shift in stakeholder perceptions and a world class leadership development environment. Find out about both of these programs at x quadrant.com/services. Now back to the conversation.

They don’t necessarily always have to be Opposite. Right? Like, you can invest for the future and enjoy the process is really what we’re saying. So, Marshall, I want us to switch gears a little bit because We got listeners to this podcast, the CEOs or entrepreneurs. You worked with many, many of these over your career. I’m wondering just what What’s, in your view, the biggest biggest blind spot that most senior leaders have?

Marshall Goldsmith
Oh, for the people like her? Ego. Yeah. What what happens is you see, Peter Drucker taught me a great lesson. Our mission in life is to make a positive difference, not to prove we’re smart, not to prove we’re right. Everyone I coach has been proving how smart they are and right they are thousands and thousands of times to get there. You went to you went to Oxford. Oh, my god. I mean, you you probably have severe mental deficiencies there.

You how many times you have to prove you were smart over and over and over again, hundreds of times? It’s hard to stop. It’s very It’s it’s hard to stop. So what I teach him is, look. The bottom, it’s all about being a great achiever. At the top, it’s not being about a great achiever. It’s being a great leader. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

You had to quit proving how Smart you are, quit winning, quit proving how right you are, and let other people I wrote a book about this. What got you here won’t get you there. That’s what the whole book is about.

Richard Medcalf
Simple as that. Right. So how how would you know? Right? So if if you’re a leader, you think, well, hey. I’m pretty good. You know, I’m driving things. That’s a bit too involved in my business. It’s going well. Yeah.

Whenever, like, how would you there. How do you even start to detect what you’re not seeing?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, I give people what’s called confidential 360 degree feedback. So I, you know, I tell them whatever I doesn’t tell them. Yeah. And then I said, look. You have a choice. You wanna change or not? And, by the way, I’m often asked a question, how do I convince people to change and don’t want to? And the answer is, I don’t. You see, I I I learned one thing, and it’s coach. I only work with people who care.

In my coaching, the client I coached that improved the most, my friend Alan Mulally, was the client I spent the least amount of time coaching, and he was great to start with and improve the most. Now, Alan, you know his story, was that Boeing, he went to c o four to start goes from 101 to 18 forties, CEO of the year, And 97 97% approval rating from every employee in a union company. Unheard of. An amazing guy. I talked to my friend, Alan. I said, Alan, of all people I coached, you improved the most, and I’ve spent the least amount of time coaching you, and you were great to start with. I said, Alan, I made a chart on 1 dimension. It’s called time spent with me.

The other bench called improvement. It was a negative correlation between spending time with me and improvement. I said, Alan, the way this chart looks, if you never met me, you’d been even better. I said, what should I learn about coaching from you? He told me one lesson. It changed my life. You know? He said, you have one job, Marshall. Client selection. You work with great people who are dedicated and wanna get better.

This will always work. You work with the wrong people. You are wasting your time. No one’s getting home to get better. I learned one thing as a coach. It’s not about me. Now, by the way, I have ranked number 1 coach in the world for years. Why? I I by the way, I’m no longer ranked number 1 coach.

You know what? The award is named after me, so it would be a little tacky for me to give an award named after me to myself. So I’m no longer number 1.

Richard Medcalf
It’s already been done before, actually. So

Marshall Goldsmith
I’m no longer number 1 coach. I in fact, in November in London, they have the Thinker’s Fifty. I’m giving out the award to the number 1 coach, but it’s not me because it’s named after me. So, anyway, I asked my friend, Alan, you know, what do you do? He said, don’t make it about you. Make it. Now why did I get ranked number 1 coach? Nobody knows I’m a good coach. Why? I got great customers. Nobody’s got better clients than me.

You read my book, Dear in Life. Look at the first 6 pages, right? Anybody’s going to look good coaching those people. There’s so anybody’s gonna look. They’re coaching him. I I’m coaching an all star team here. You know, you wanna be a great coach, coach your all star team.

Richard Medcalf
Oh, yeah. So so let’s imagine that so How do you know? I know you got a book on being coachable. It’s coming out right now. But, like, how do you know? When you See somebody? Like, how are you gonna detect, and how why they even know? Like, are they gonna be a great client?

Marshall Goldsmith
How do you feel new book. Becoming coachable. Brand new books coming out next week, I think. I don’t know. Some anyway, everyone I work with, they have to get confidential Feedback. They have to pick important behavior to improve. They have to publicly talk about what they wanna work on. They have to publicly apologize for their sins.

They have to follow-up on a regular basis. If they do that, they’re gonna get better. And if they don’t wanna do it, you know what? It’s okay. What do I say? It’s fine. I’m busy. Just work with someone else.

Richard Medcalf:
Do do you find that for example, if a client CEO, say, would ring you up, Do they ring up and say, I think I need to win for myself? Do they ring up and say, hey. Go work with somebody on my team because they’re really they suck.

Marshall Goldsmith
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s fine. You know what? I said, you don’t wanna get better? Fine. Don’t. But don’t expect them to change if you’re not going to. Yeah. Lead by example here.

Don’t preach, preach, preach. You all get better. You want them to get better? Look in the mirror. Let them watch you get better. By the way, you don’t wanna do it to you don’t wanna do it for yourself, don’t dump it on them.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. That was the question. Would you would you work with somebody one level down from, say, the CEO from somebody who’s not being coached?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, it depends. Sometimes, I I coach you the CEO or the future CEO. The key, though, is if I’m coaching the future CEO, this whole thing has to be supported by the CEO and the board of directors. Because I don’t wanna work with people for a year, and then, you know, I they get better, and Doesn’t matter. So it has to be supported by the CEO and the board of directors, but everyone I coach is CEO of the future CEO. Now, let’s be fair. I get a few bonus cards that most coaches don’t have. Let’s say you’re the future CEO, and company wants me to coach you.

I say, here is exactly what you’re gonna do if I work with What if you said I don’t wanna do those things? You know what I’d say? It’s okay. I’ll just go back to the board and tell them and CEO that, you know what? I Just can’t help you. I’m sorry. I just can’t help you. You need a better coach there. It’s okay. Good luck. You can do that? No.

It’s a 1 question IQ test. Do you wanna do this, son or not? If you do, it’s great. If you don’t, I don’t care. It’s not my career. It’s dying. It’s yours.

Richard Medcalf
Well, here’s the question. Is it seen by the board or or by those people as remedial Or capability building.

Marshall Goldsmith
Oh, it’s it’s look. If it’s remedial, they’re not gonna be potential CEO or CEO of a multibillion dollar company. I’m not I’m not in the fix the I’m not in the fix the loser business. I’m in the health community.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. That’s what I’m imagining, but it it it’s a common misconception. Right? And then in some parts of the world, the idea of having a coach is seen as a as a sign of

Marshall Goldsmith
That’s changing. That is changing. Look. I’ve been last week, I was in Riyadh all week, Saudi Arabia. I gave confidential feedback. All of the 2 ministers in this In Saudi Arabia, they wouldn’t do that 30 years ago. World’s changing. By the way, it was weird in America 30 years ago too.

Since the world’s changes, it’s becoming much more the norm than the exception. Why wouldn’t you have a coach? Why not? You got an ego problem? Look. How many of the top 10 tennis players have coaches? 10?

Richard Medcalf
I’d hope one of them. Yeah.

Marshall Goldsmith
Why do they have coaches? They’re the best in the world. They say, why do I need a coach? I’m the best in the world. They’ve got multiple coaches.

Richard Medcalf
So it’s just it’s fascinating, isn’t it? So talk about the, Talk about so you talked about the ego as being the biggest barrier to being better. Where’s that most likely to show up when you’re a CEO?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, look. We all tend to fall into something called the superstition trap. Here’s how it works. I behave this way. I am successful. Therefore, I must be successful because I behave this way. Well, You behave this way. You are successful probably because you do many things right and in spite of doing some idiotic things.

I’ve never met anyone who’s so lovely they had nothing on that in Quite of list. And if they’re men, I’d say, if you think you got nothing to improve, go talk to your wife. Right? They you you got some stuff you need to do better, I’m sure. And then number 2, Back to what got you here won’t get you there. Yeah. You’re good, I hear. That doesn’t mean that the world changes. That doesn’t mean you’re gonna be good there.

And so you need to constantly focus on getting better. And, Bob, we we never get there. Look. People ask me if I have a coach. I have someone call me on the phone every day to try to help me for 25 years. Why? My name is Marshall. I’m too cowardly and undisciplined to do any of this stuff by myself. I need help, and it’s okay.

Who we getting here? We all need help. It’s okay. What is this macho garb how about willpower? Willpower is grossly overrated. My clients now I just started this. Now I have somebody call them up every day on the phone to remind them to do stuff. Every day.

Richard Medcalf
Funny, isn’t it? We think we we get we get past that, but we can’t is what you’re saying. You can’t we can’t get past this basic stuff.

Marshall Goldsmith
Let let me just I can’t speak to we, but I can certainly speak to me. I never got past it. Yeah. I never got past it. You know what? I need help. You know, now You might think, well, aren’t you gonna grow up someday? 74. I haven’t quite made it yet.

Richard Medcalf
Oh, yeah. Well, I remember in your book, triggers. Right? That’s that’s your big argument that this your environment. I mean, as anyone knows, like, if you’re trying to lose weight and your Your beloved one, you know, your beloved one is buying cakes and chocolate and sticking them in right in front of you in the kitchen. How’s it gonna happen? Right? It’s all, yeah, setting yourself up for success and the people around you and the structure around you. Yeah. And yeah. So so what you’re saying is for everyone, there’s a question of, Am I do I actually want to get better? Sounds like.

That’s 1 question. Second is, do I believe I actually need to get better? Does it really matter? I think if not if I can say, you know what? I don’t need yeah. I’m fine. I’m all fine.

Marshall Goldsmith
And that’s okay.

Richard Medcalf
That’s okay.

Marshall Goldsmith
You know what? I don’t care because, see, I’ve learned a hard lesson in my role as a coach. My name is Marshall Goldsmith, not Jesus Christ. Well, you see, I’m people don’t care or have bad attitudes. I’m not really in the savior business. I’m not here to save anybody. If somebody doesn’t care, it’s okay. They’re all adults. They’re all doing fine in life.

Nobody’s starving here. Right? Yeah. Nobody’s starving. They’re all doing fine. You wanna change grades? You don’t wanna change it? Fine. Don’t. I don’t care. So how do I convince people to do anything? And I don’t.

I’m not in the convincing business.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Which brings us back to that, well, radical responsibility. Right? If you’re a CEO, No one’s gonna make you do it. Perhaps your board might insist, but, actually, if it’s about acceleration, nobody might be making you do it. The question becomes, How serious are you about getting better at what you do?

Marshall Goldsmith
Yeah. Which is okay too. I mean, I don’t care if people don’t change. Nope. Don’t worry, James. Don’t. It’s okay.

Richard Medcalf
Marshall, let me switch gears a little bit here. You’re obviously somebody who’s highly accomplished. We you know, we we know that. We don’t Go without saying, but what would it look like for you to multiply your impact over the coming years?

Marshall Goldsmith
I’m I’m glad you asked that question. It almost sounds like I paid you to do that. Now as I’ve grown old, a couple of things. My mission is to Help people have just a little better life. Now we mentioned you do much more macro level things than me, which is good. I’m just not an expert on what the strategy part of what you do. I just try to help people have a little as I’ve grown older, my little aspiration’s going down and down, impact up and up. If I quit working, I’m not gonna change.

Let’s imagine 1 person who listens to this Zoom call or whatever it is, has a little better life. Good. This good. Yeah. I’m declaring victory here. I’m declaring victory, so as I’ve grown old, you know, I just wanna help people have a little better life. Now how can I magnify what I do? Back to your good question. Uh-huh.

My new project. Number 1, I give everything away. All my materials online. Go to marshall goldsmith.com. Go to YouTube. Put my name in the search engine. Everything I give away, all my material, copy, share, download, duplicate, use in church charity, put your name on it, translate it. It doesn’t bother.

Change it, modify it, I don’t care. Now I’m working on my new project, Marshall Bot. I spent the last 5 months training my own computer bot. See somebody looks and sounds exactly like me, same green T shirt, and Marshall Buss gonna try to help you for free and multiple languages, hundreds of thousands of times instantaneously. That’s it. And, you know, most of my life is something called legacy. The 100 coaches program is legacy. I adopt all these people, give back, you know, and they give to others.

What is the definition of legacy? Being there when you’re not there. That’s it. Being there when you’re not there. Well, that’s most of my I’d say Three quarters of my life is focused on legacy projects.

Richard Medcalf
What was the trigger that pushed you into legacy thinking? What was the moment in your life when you went, now, The game’s legacy.

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, I went to a program called design the life you love. Back then, the woman said, who are my heroes? They were kind Kind and generous people are nice teachers. She said you should be like them. I decided to give back everything to as many people as I could. I that led to the 100 coaches program where I just adopt people. 2 of the people I’ve adopted, very fortunate, are co CEOs of a AI company. And so that led me to this whole crusade to, you know, give away everything. And what what am I saving it for? What am I saving it for? What is the intellectual property? What am I saving this for? You know? We’re all gonna die anyway.

Let’s do some good here.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Beautiful. Well, perhaps that’s a great place to, to wrap things up. I should have 1 more question, which is I don’t even know whether it’s gonna be applicable.

Marshall Goldsmith
Yeah. Now I The one final thing to wrap up, but you asked me your question, and then I’ll say that. Go ahead.

Richard Medcalf
Okay. Yeah. Sure. Yeah. I definitely ask. What else do I ask was, I always ask 2 people Two questions. I don’t know where where we’re gonna go on this with you. The first question is, what do you like to modify your impact? You’ve talked about that with Marshall Bot and The other things that you’re doing to give away your work and and and and create that legacy.

The other question is about you. Like, at this stage in your life, Are you, like, done? Or is that places where you where you wanna grow and shift, change, and and evolve in order to multiply your own personal impact Even further. So, like, are you, like, the finished product, and, like, now that’s it? You can just scale that through Marshallpot? Might be the case. What are the other things where you think, you know what? This would be amazing I can grow into this

Marshall Goldsmith
I’m always coming up with ideas, so I’m always working on new books, new ideas. I’m working on a book with my friend, Al Mulally, stakeholders that are leadership. I’d like to write a book on Buddhist thinking and day to day life. You know, I’m always working on new stuff. So I might work. So now You might say, why am I doing this? I’m old. But you know what I could be doing right now, but I’m not. I’m making such a sacrifice to be here.

Do you know what I could be doing? I could be playing crappy golf with old men at the country club while eating chicken salad sandwiches and talking about gallbladder surgery. So given the given the choices, I I think I’d rather do what I’m doing.

Richard Medcalf
Well, that’s great. So that’s after the to do list. Moe, my question was really, is there a to be list that you still have?

Marshall Goldsmith
Yes. Yeah. And that’s it. You know? So that’s this is all stuff. I pretty much covered it all. That is what that says me.

Richard Medcalf
Beautiful. Thank you. So you wanted to leave 1 final comment perhaps or or thought?

Marshall Goldsmith
Yes. My best advice for everybody. Are we ready? I want everybody to smile, smiling. Take a deep breath. Go hand. And let go of all that old stuff. Now I want you to imagine that you’re 95 years old, and you’re just getting ready to die. You’re on that deathbed.

It’s all over. Here comes your last breath. But right before you take the last breath, you’re given a beautiful gift, the ability to go back in time and talk to the person who’s listening to me right now. The ability to help that person be a better leader, much more important. The ability to help the person have a better life. What advice would that wise old you, who’s looking at death, Who knows what mattered and what didn’t? What advice that wise old person have for the youth listening to me right now? Breathe. Whatever you’re thinking now, do that. In terms of performance appraisal, that is the only one that’s going to matter.

That old person says you did the right thing. You did That old person said, you made a mistake. You did. You don’t have to impress anybody else. Some friends of mine interviewed old folks who were dying got to ask this question. Personal, professional. On the personal side, 3 themes. Theme number 1, 3 words.

We’ve discussed it already. Be happy now. Not next week, not next month, not next year. The great western These I’ll be happy when when I get the money status BMW condominium, I will be happy when. Now let’s imagine 1 of your listeners is, say, 44 years old. What in this show? You know, he’s saying, hey, easy for you to say, oh, man, you’re rich. Got lots of money. Fancy clients write books.

Easy for you to say, mister and miss 44 year old, you got some I don’t have, 30 years. 30 years. Don’t get so wrapped up looking you don’t have, you can’t see what you do have. You got 30 years. I don’t have. You want a few books here. I’ll give them to you. Give me 30 years.

We got a deal. So number 1, Don’t get so busy chasing what you don’t have. You can’t appreciate what you do have. Number 2, learning point for people, friends and family don’t get so busy Climbing that corporate ladder of success and achievement, you forget the people who love you. When you’re 95, they’re the only ones who could be around. And And then finally, you gotta dream, go for it. If you don’t go for it when you’re 44, you may not when you’re 84. It doesn’t have to be a big dream, little dream.

Go to New Zealand, speak Spanish play guitar. Other people think your dream is goofy. Who cares? It’s not their dream. It’s your dream. Had embarrassing experience a few years ago. I said, go to New Zealand, speak Spanish. Guy raised his hand and said, we’re in Spain, you idiot. We all speak Spanish.

Business advice not different. Number 1, life is short. Have fun. Number 2, do whatever you can do to help people. The main reason people has nothing to do with money or status or getting ahead. The main reason to help people is much deeper. The 95 year old will be proud of you because you did and disappointed if you don’t. You don’t think that’s true interview.

Any CEOs retired? I mean, very many ask a question. What are you proud of? I never talk about how big their office was. Just talk about the people they help. Final glass also same. Go for it. World’s changing. Do what things right may not win. At least you tried.

Old people, we seldom regret the risks we take and fail. We usually regret the risks we fail to take. And finally, as I mentioned, my mission in life on this call is very simple. Hopefully, somebody listened to me on this little call has a little better life. So if any of you have a little better life based on this call, is a good call. Thank you.

Richard Medcalf
Beautiful. And that is how you multiply your impact. Hey, Marshall. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure. I’m not gonna ask you where people can find you. You’re immensely Google all over the place. I’ll put them in the show notes.

I’m sure it’s marshall goldsmith.com and, New book and everything. We’ll make sure all that’s there. Just remind us, Ian, what

Marshall Goldsmith
the book’s called? Oh, the new book is called Being Coachable.

Richard Medcalf
Being Coachable. Yep. So that’s gonna be on my

Marshall Goldsmith
Yeah. Yeah. And and I would also recommend the I I I do not recommend most of my 55 books. The ones I recommend are what got you here, won’t get you there. There’s a good one. Triggers is a good one. And also, another good one is called the earned life. Those 3 are all neurodems.

Those are all really good ones. Many of my books are useful only if you’re interested in going to sleep, but those

Richard Medcalf
Well, I’ve I’ve read the one you just mentioned, and they didn’t put me to sleep. They they they were great, and they’ve been influential for me. So, Marshall, Also known as Moses, thank you so much, and look forward to, continuing the conversation.

Marshall Goldsmith
Okay. Thank you. Bye.

Richard Medcalf
Well, that’s a wrap. If you received value from this conversation, please do leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. We deeply appreciate it. And if you’d like to check out the show notes from this episode, head to expodrint.com/podcast Where you’ll find all the details. Now finally, when you’re in top leadership, who supports and challenges you at a deep level to help you multiply your impact. Discover more about the different ways we can support you.

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