by Dr Marshall Goldsmith
As an executive coach, I help people understand how our beliefs and the environments we operate in can trigger negative behaviors. Through simple and practical advice, I help people achieve and sustain positive behavioral change.
My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better. With four decades of experience helping top CEOs and executives overcome limiting beliefs and behaviors to achieve greater success, I don’t do this for fame and accolades. I do this because I love helping people!
A number of years ago, a wonderful writer wrote an article about me which was published in The New Yorker.
The writer’s name is Larissa McFarquhar and the title of the article is “The Better Boss.” In her article (the whole of which you can find here), Larissa describes me as an executive coach and a human being. It’s funny, entertaining and true. I get a great kick out of it. I hope that you enjoy it too!
Marshall Goldsmith is a happy man. He started out happy, he worked on his happiness, and now, at the age of fifty-three [I am 67 now!], he is very happy. He is, in fact, a happiness professional.
His official job description is “executive coach”: he trains executives to behave decently in the office, by subjecting them to a brutal regimen. First, he solicits “360 degree feedback” — he asks their colleagues and sometimes their families, too, for comprehensive assessments of their strengths and defects — and he confronts them with what everybody really thinks. Then he makes them apologize and ask for help in getting better. It’s a simple method — “I don’t think anybody’s going to say I’m guilty of excessive subtlety,” he says — but it works. It had better work. If it doesn’t, the client gets his money back.
Goldsmith is so extraordinarily buoyant and extroverted (he scored a perfect E on his Myers-Briggs personality test) that he seems to enter a room in a tinkle of magic dust. If he were shorter (he is nearly six feet), he would look like a leprechaun. His head is round and pink and bald, his eyes are blue, and his chin juts out and upward to meet his nose, like the chin of a wooden puppet. He skips more than walks, and when he is in a bouncy mood (which he usually is) he dances along with his arms straight out and swinging. When he laughs (which he does often), he sounds like a goose.
He wears the same outfit every day: green polo shirt, khakis, and moccasins. His favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz,” and his favorite song is “Over the Rainbow.” He ends his e-mails and his conversations with what has become his signature phrase: “Life is good!” The leprechaun quality is one of the reasons Goldsmith is successful. It is a rare executive, after all, who welcomes a man sent by his boss to reform his personality. But people who have worked with Goldsmith call him “disarming,” and say that he seems so happy with his life that when he says he is not judging them personally they believe him.
Goldsmith won’t take on a client who doesn’t want to change — someone who, as he puts it, has not a skill problem but a don’t-give-a-shit problem — but, short of that, the more obnoxious the better. “My favorite case study was in the 0.1 percentile for treating people with respect,” he says. “That means that there were over a thousand people in that company and this person came in dead last. This person would be in an elevator and someone would come up and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?,’ and he wouldn’t even respond. He was hardworking and brilliant; he didn’t lie, cheat, or steal. He was just a complete jerk. The case was considered hopeless, but in one year he got up to 53.7 per cent.
“You know how I helped the guy to change? I asked him, ‘How do you treat people at home?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m totally different at home.’ I said, ‘Let’s call your wife and kids.’ What did his wife say? ‘You’re a jerk.’ Called the kids. ‘Jerk.’ ‘Jerk.’ So I said, ‘Look, I can’t help you make money, you’re already making more than God, but do you want to have a funeral that no one attends? Because that’s where this train is headed.”
And, it was at that moment when the executive realized what was truly important and began making an effort to change. This is what I do. I help people who really want to change do just that, change.
When I started executive coaching in the 1980s, I was a pioneer in the field and many clients kept the coaching a secret. Today executive coaching is seen as a privilege afforded to executives that companies wish to invest in to keep long-term. I am proud of this. I am proud to have helped coaching come into its own as an industry. And, if you want to be an executive coach, I hope I can be of help to you!
Life is good. Marshall.