Do You Recognize the Patterns that Lead to Success?

Do you recognize the patterns that lead to success?

My friend Dan Levitan, venture capitalist and managing partner of Maveron does. He’s been the successful backer of such companies as eBay, Zulily, and Allbirds. Personally, I find what Dan does fascinating! He recognizes the patterns of incredibly driven, consumer-centric entrepreneurs and it has lead to some amazing successes.

Dan is one of my coaching clients, and when I started working with him, I had no clue what venture capital even is. Most of my clients are CEOs or “could-be” CEOs of very large organizations. Dan has a lot to teach about venture capitalism, I’ve asked him to share his knowledge with us in this interview. Think of it as the 101 of venture capitalism.

Marshall: What is venture capital? How does it work? How does your firm work?

Dan: Great questions!

Venture capital is pretty simple to explain. America is a country of innovation. And, that innovation needs to be funded. Venture capitalists raise money from institutions and individuals to create a pool of money. Then they spend their time looking for the best entrepreneurs, who have the greatest and boldest ideas. They try to match them up with areas of interest. For instance at Maveron, we’re looking for the best consumer-focused, end-user consumer brands.

We try to find incredibly driven, consumer-centric entrepreneurs and bring to them the pattern recognition of having done this with many consumer brands over time. We then package this up with not just advice, but with a network of consumer experts and money to help accelerate an entrepreneur’s dreams.

Ideally we catch them in obscurity and watch them go from there to ubiquity.

Marshall: A great example you use of a company that you did this with that is successful is Starbucks.

Dan: I met Howard Schultz and the team at Starbucks when it had 100 stores and today I think the number is something like 27,000! It is a true story of success, certainly.

Marshall: Yes, it’s a wonderful story. Thank you for this great 101 view of what a venture capitalist does!

After one year, the first 100 leaders in Marshall’s ‘pay it forward’, 100 Coaches project have been selected (out of over 16,000 applicants). Learn more about this amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world at In 2018, 100 Aspiring Coaches will be selected based on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. Please apply at We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on Do You Recognize the Patterns that Lead to Success?

How to Put Yourself in a Position to Win!

One of my coaching clients is Dan Levitan, managing partner of the venture capital firm Maveron. Dan is different that most of my coaching clients who are mostly leaders of big corporations. I’ve learned a lot from coaching Dan, including the importance of taking risks.

Many of us have been brought up to never fail. We are taught to believe that failure is bad! One thing that I love about what Dan does is he is in a business in which most investments fail. Some are big winners of course, but some fail.

In a recent interview, I asked Dan how he deals with the high-risk factor of the business he’s in. Below is an excerpt from our talk.

Marshall: One thing that I love about what you are do as a venture capitalist is you grapple with the fact that most investments fail. How do you deal with this fact?

Dan: Well, Marshall, unbeknownst to me for a long time, I’ve lived two lives.

My first life was as an East Coast investment banker-oriented life. Exactly as you said, in that life, taking risks and failing were considered serious negatives. And, then about 18 years ago, I moved out to Seattle. Now I spend most of my time between Seattle and San Francisco helping early state consumer-focused companies and entrepreneurs grow. I help them go from obscurity to ubiquity.

And, although many of those attempts don’t work, the success and the learnings from the failures, have energized me to persist, learn, and keep trying. At the end of the day, I don’t believe anything great was every accomplished without some significant risk being taken.

Marshall: This is a very important point. It’s not like we are going to spend our whole lives taking massive risks. On the other hand, as we journey through life, there are times to take risks. There are times to recognize potential opportunity and make a bet, knowing that if it comes in you’ll win big and if you lose, you lose. Be prepared for the loss. Be willing to go for it!

Dan: In 1994 I was talking to my now friend and partner at Maveron, Howard Schultz. We were different. I had gone to fancy schools, was working very hard as an investment banker. Howard was the CEO of a small company that had just gone public with 150 stores, called Starbucks Coffee Company

I said to Howard, “You’re having all the fun! I’m working my butt off and not having a good time. Why is that?”

Howard said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “I don’t think you’ve put yourself in a position to win.” I thought about this. What did he mean by that. He meant that I needed to define what winning is for me. And then I needed to be in a job that could put me in a position to win.

Then Howard said, “I didn’t know that Starbucks was going to work. But I did know that if it did work, I would feel as if I had won. And that has changed the way I think about helping guide people who come to me about careers. Ask yourself: What is winning for you and how do you put yourself in a position to win? And if you really are convinced what winning is, you should be willing to take the risk to win.”

Marshall: I love it! Put yourself in a position to win, be willing to take a risk, and realize that you might fail.

Dan: Right, and you’re going to learn from that.

Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches ‘pay it forward’ legacy project is making great progress. On April 27, in addition to the first 25 members, Marshall announced 30 fantastic new participants (out of over 12,000 applicants). In 2017, 45 more top professionals will be selected (mostly from outside the US). In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches. This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. If you would like to apply, please to go We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on How to Put Yourself in a Position to Win!

Transformational Growth and Disruptive Change: 4 Principles to Guide You

Dear readers! This blog post is the first of a two-part series on transformational growth and disruptive change by my dear friend Mark Thompson for the AMA (American Management Association). You can see the article here:


This blog post is part of a two-part series on transformational growth and disruptive change.

The No. 1 priority for the highest achievers today is to lead a personal and professional transformation for themselves and their teams. But that lofty goal can feel like attempting to change tires in the middle of rush-hour traffic. You have to lead transformation without sacrificing financial and operating results, or injuring your engagement scores. Here are four principles applied by some of the most successful (and most disruptive) leaders of the new world.

World Bank: Diversity and inclusion as a sustainable competitive advantage

Great leaders have to ask: Where does your innovation come from? Are you tapping into a diverse collection of views and backgrounds or just one homogenous group of people? How do you touch and engage a diverse workforce and diverse customers in every community you serve?

The World Bank does it by welcoming, encouraging, and harvesting the ideas and insights of a choir of more than 80 nations that fund the bank. It’s not an imposition on management to hear out all these diverse ideas; it’s not a separate HR “program” to be tolerated. It’s a core asset, and the bank sees it as a crucial sustainable competitive advantage. In fact, most countries send representatives to live right there onsite at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Virgin Group: Reinvent your assumptions, burn the house down

Sir Richard Branson’s biggest insight about self-awareness and executive renewal in business came from losing his family home. Think about what it would be like if your dream house went up in flames, then ask four important questions:

Would you:

  • Rebuild your house exactly the same or differently?
  • Recreate the same design, same architecture and space? Not likely.
  • Restock it with all the same things? Probably not.
  • Recruit all the same people to the project? If your organization vaporized, and your employees had all exited, would you work hard to invite certain people back to your organization? Would you not invite others back? If disaster struck, how would you decide what and who goes or stays?

Why would you make all of the above choices?

For Sir Richard, seeing his dream turn to ashes was a teachable moment of epic proportions—an unexpected provocation to rethink innovation in a world full of surprises.

Lyft: Values-driven leadership: nobody does it alone

Lyft cofounder Logan Green was inspired to start his company after a trip to Africa, where he was awestruck to observe extraordinarily cooperative mass transit in Zimbabwe, despite the apparent chaos of a developing country. People would swarm toward their destinations loaded with chickens and produce, and Green was aghast to see how everyone who needed a ride was encouraged to get a lift from an agreeable driver, whether perched on the roof of an overloaded bus or precariously clinging to the back of a motorbike.

The experience inspired Green to start ZimCar, a name he chose in honor of the African country. Version 2.0 of that vision is a company called Lyft, the world’s fastest-growing ride-sharing firm, whose focus on values-based service and collaborative leadership serves as ballast during this period of exponential growth and change.

Pinterest: Redefining success

The fourth transformational principle embraced by the world’s growth-company leaders relates to how you measure and manage meaning in your life and work. Pinterest founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann envisioned a world where every individual could discover and activate his or her passions online—the world’s biggest catalog of ideas to help you identify and actualize your desires.

Pinterest today engages more than 200 million users and this fall reached a pre-IPO market value of over $12 billion. If you haven’t paid the site a visit, it’s time that you give yourself permission to explore what success means to you, because that’s part of the secret formula that will help you generate sustainable success in a world characterized by dizzying change.

About the Author

Mark Thompson is a New York Times bestselling leadership author and America’s No. 1 executive coach for growth companies. For a free copy of the World Success Survey, email Thompson at

Follow him on Linkedin:

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on Transformational Growth and Disruptive Change: 4 Principles to Guide You

How to Make Sure You Leave on a High Note!

Recently, I interviewed my friend Dan Levitan, venture capitalist and managing partner of Maveron. I’ve enjoyed working with Dan over the last few years not just because Dan is a great person and leader, but also because, Dan is very different than most of my other clients.

Most of my clients are in big corporations or large non-profits so what I learn from them is based on their perspectives as leaders of large organizations. Dan’s approach to life and leadership, coming at them from a venture capitalist’s point of view, is very different.

I’ve learned a lot from Dan about his unique approach, and am excited to share it with you. Following is an excerpt from our interview in which I explain what I’ve learned from Dan about a concept that he taught me called the “exit strategy”. It’s a great lesson that applies to both life and leadership!

Marshall: One of the really important things I’ve learned from you, Dan, that is critical in venture capital, is the concept of “exit strategy”. It’s especially important to you as a venture capitalist, because if you don’t ever sell (exit) the company, you won’t make any money back!

Dan: Exactly!

Marshall: You’ve got to sell it! And, while it’s nice to build the company, someday you have got to sell it or you won’t see a return.

How do you leave on a high note? You have to have a plan! And, this may sound obvious, but planning isn’t something you do on the spur of the moment, it’s something you do before the moment.

You’ve taught me a lot about this concept – it’s called developing an “exit strategy”, and I think it applies to life. Since realizing this concept, I’ve thought about it as it relates to my own life. I’m 68 now and I’m thinking about my own exit strategy. When I leave this earth, what do I want to leave behind?

I think it’s very healthy for all of us to look at the concept of an exit strategy at various phases of life, not just when we’re older, but all throughout our lives. Some of us don’t ever do this and we get stuck right where we are dreading change. Without an exit strategy, we can very easily develop an overwhelming fear of what comes next and thus do nothing at all!

It seems to me that you don’t have to stay in any job, even a corporate job, forever. That being the case, you need to think about your exit strategy even before you’re even thinking of leaving the company.

When I coach people, one of the first things I tell them is – “If I tell you to leave, leave. Don’t stay too long. It’s better to leave a year too early than stay a day too long…. and get fired. Don’t overstay your welcome.

My suggestion to everyone reading this article is the same. Better to stay a year too short than a day too long…and get fired. Don’t overstay your welcome. It’s very healthy for all of us as we journey through life, to have an exit strategy no matter what phase of life you are in.

  • If you’re a young person, think about this, where do you want end up? Of course, you want to live your life without regrets. Think about it, reflect on it. It’s important!
  • If you’re in the mid-phase of life, think about the next job you might want. What about the next promotion? What are you looking for, what do you want, and how do you move from this position to the next?
  • If you’re in the later phase of life, like I am, it’s really important to ask yourself, “what are you going to do the rest of your life?” I’ve done entire programs with people just about this question and it has been very enlightening for all of us.

So, a challenge that I would like to give everyone reading this blog now is to ask yourself: What is your exit strategy for the various upcoming phases of life? Don’t look on this planning as a negative, look at it as a positive, because clearly if you have a great exit strategy, the one thing you won’t have is regret!

After one year, the first 100 leaders in Marshall’s ‘pay it forward’, 100 Coaches project have been selected (out of over 16,000 applicants). Learn more about this amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world at In 2018, 100 Aspiring Coaches will be selected based on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. Please apply at We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on How to Make Sure You Leave on a High Note!

Failure Is a Great Teacher!

What are some of the more common reasons leaders, especially leaders of startups, fail? And, how can we learn from failure and become even more successful because of the experience?

My friend, Dan Levitan, managing partner of Maveron, a leading venture capital firm he founded with Howard Schultz president and CEO of Starbucks, says this,

Leaders may be headed for failure when:

  1. They don’t own the outcome. They are victims of circumstance and thus lose faith in their abilities.
  2. They are inflexible. Leaders and organizations need to be nimble and flexible to changes in the industry marketplace.
  3. They lose touch with the customer. Product fit and staying relevant to the customer is critical to success!

When negative factors impact our success, we may begin to get angry because, “It wasn’t my fault,” It isn’t fair,” “They didn’t tell me.” This type of thinking is only going to lead to more failure!

Rather than wallowing in what could have been and what should have been, here are four suggestions that you can try that will help you learn from failure and use it as the great teacher that it is.

  1. Realize that we all make mistakes. Everyone makes bad decisions sometimes. We are all just human! You don’t have to love everyone, just accept them for being who they are. Carrying around anger directed toward your co-workers, direct reports, or bosses does not help you, your company or the people who work with you.
  2. Forgive yourself. You are an adult. You chose to work with this company. In a way, you made a bet. Sometimes our choices don’t work out as we had planned; sometimes we need to change something to achieve success. This does not make you a bad person — just a human being. At a deeper level, the person you are in fact angry with may be yourself. Don’t be personally ashamed because of a failure. Own your performance. You have done your best!
  3. Assess the situation. One of greatest challenges for leaders is to let go. Objectively consider your situation. Given the organization as it exists today, do you want to stay? If so, make the best of where you are. Do you want to leave? If so, begin searching for another job.
  4. Remember your deeper mission in life. Behave in a way that optimizes benefit for yourself and the people that you love. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by letting your anger over failing override your logic. I have seen many otherwise smart people make stupid decisions when they were angry. Don’t let this happen to you!

After one year, the first 100 leaders in Marshall’s ‘pay it forward’, 100 Coaches project have been selected (out of over 16,000 applicants). Learn more about this amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world at In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches. This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. Please apply at We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on Failure Is a Great Teacher!

Introducing 100 Coaches: Pay It Forward Champions

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Rancho Santa Fe!

I am very excited to announce the selection of the 100 Coaches in our pay-it-forward project! This is an amazing group of talented people.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the project, here is a little back story.

A couple of years ago, I attended a program led by my wonderful friend Ayse Birsel, one of the world’s top designers, called Design the Life You Love. At the program, Ayse asked us to write down the names of our heroes. I wrote down Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of the Girl Scouts and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom), Alan Mulally (former CEO of Ford and CEO of the year in the United States), Dr. Jim Kim (President of the World Bank), Peter Drucker (founder of modern management), Paul Hersey (noted author, teacher, and personal mentor of mine), and Warren Bennis (one of the world’s greatest leadership thinkers of his time). Then Ayse asked us to describe what made us think of them as heroes. I wrote that they were all “great teachers” and “very generous.” She then challenged us to “be more like them” in designing the lives we love.

It was from this fantastic program that I came up with the idea to teach 15 people everything I know at no charge. In return, these 15 would ‘pay if forward’ by doing the same thing for 15 others, for free. I was inspired to do this by the many great teachers and leaders who have so generously helped me – without ever asking for anything in return. It is my way of recognizing the amazing contributions they have made in my life.

I made a 30-second video about the project for LinkedIn. It ended up becoming the most widely viewed video in the history of LinkedIn. I am amazed that so far more than 16,000 people have applied to be part of 100 Coaches. I have been very humbled and inspired by this overwhelming response!

It is time now to announce the 100 Coaches. This amazing group of individuals are some of the top people in their fields. They represent leaders in their own worlds with a diversity of interests that relate to the topic of coaching. They are listed by category not by rank order.


Three Inspirational Leaders and Teachers

Three iconic leaders inspired the 100 Coaches project. They are key 100 Coaches members and faculty. They are also extremely kind and generous.

  • Frances Hesselbein – Former CEO, Girl Scouts of America and Peter Drucker Foundation. Winner, Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a US civilian. Author or editor of 29 books.
  • Alan Mulally – Former CEO, Ford and Boeing Commercial Aircraft. CEO Magazine – CEO of the Year. Fortune – #3 World’s Greatest Leaders. TIME – World’s 100 Most Influential People.
  • Jim Kim – 12th President, the World Bank. US News and World Report – One of America’s 25 Best Leaders. President Dartmouth College. Co-founder Partners in Health. TIME – World’s 100 Most Influential People.

Thinkers50 – World’s Most Influential Management Thinkers

Called ‘The Academy Awards of Leadership’ by the Economist,Thinkers50 is the world’s most reliable resource for identifying, ranking and sharing the leading management ideas of our age.

  • Alex Osterwalder – Co-founder Strategyzer. Lead author of Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design, which sold over one million copies in 37 languages. Authority on new technology and communication.
  • Rita McGrath – Has been selected as the World’s #1 Strategic Thinker. Voted HR Magazine’s Most Influential International Thinker. Faculty of Columbia Business School.
  • Herminia Ibarra – Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behaviour at London Business School. Bestselling author and formerly professor at INSEAD and Harvard. Has been recognized as the World’s #1 Leadership Thinker.
  • Whitney Johnson – Author of the critically acclaimed: Disrupt Yourself. Co-founder of Rose Park Advisors—Disruptive Innovation Fund. A leading thinker on strategy and breakthrough innovation.
  • Liz Wiseman – Author of the best-selling books: Rookie Smarts and Multipliers. Teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. World leading researcher on the impact of leadership in organizations.
  • Martin Lindstrom – TIME – World’s 100 Most Influential People. Author of several New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling books. World authority on branding and culture transformation.
  • Tammy Erickson – McKinsey award-winning author. Academic Programme Director London Business School. World authority on generations in the workplace.
  • Stew Friedman – Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Author of the bestsellers: Total Leadership and Leading the Life You Want.
  • Gianpiero Petriglieri – Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEADDirector of the Management Acceleration Programme at INSEADmedical doctor and psychiatrist by training.
  • David Burkus – Bestselling author whose Ted Talk has been viewed over 1.4 million times. Regular contributor to Harvard Business Review. Recently named a ‘Top 40 Under 40 Professors Who Inspire’.
  • Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez – Author of the best-selling book:The Focused Organization, Winner of the 2017 Thinkers50 Award for ‘Ideas into Practice’. World authority on project management.
  • Deepa Prahalad – Focused on design and emerging markets. Co-author: Predictable Magic. Fellow International Academy of Management & Center for Digital Transformation UC Irvine. Inaugural member of Thinkers50 India.

Non-profit CEOs

  • Mark Tercek – President and CEO, Nature Conservancy – world leader in global conservation. Profiled in New Yorker and Author bestselling: Nature’s Fortune. Former Managing Director and Partner, Goldman Sachs.
  • Tony Marx – President and CEO, New York Public Library – the nation’s largest library system. Former President, Amherst College. Author of three books on nation building.
  • Raj Shah – President, The Rockefeller Foundation. 14th Administrator, United States Agency for International Development. Former Chief Economist – Gates Foundation.
  • Asheesh Advani – President and CEO, Junior Achievement Worldwide – the largest NGO dedicated to teaching young people about entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Former CEO, Covestor and CircleLending.

Healthcare Leaders

  • John Noseworthy – President and CEO, Mayo Clinic. US News and World Report #1 Best Hospital in the United States – Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’ 14 consecutive years.
  • George Daley – Dean of Harvard Medical School, Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at HMS.
  • James Downing – President and CEO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He was instrumental in launching the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which TIME listed as a Top 10 Medical Breakthrough.

Corporate CEOs

  • Hubert Joly ­– Chairman and CEO, Best Buy. Former CEO, Carlson. Board of Directors, Ralph Lauren. World Economic Forum – Global Leader for Tomorrow. Glassdoor – 100 Top CEOs. Forbes – #1 Leader in Retail.
  • Liz Smith – Chairman and CEO, Bloomin’ Brands (Outback, Flemings, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill) – one of the world’s largest casual dining companies. Former President, Avon. Board of Directors, Hilton, UNICEF.
  • Garry Ridge – CEO, WD-40 Company. Co-author Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called ‘Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A’. Top-rated professor at the University of San Diego.
  • Kevin Koch – President & CEOKoch Enterprises, Inc.,a holding company that operates seven distinct business. Previously Kevin was a leader in Electronic Data Systems and Ford.

Former CEOs / Advisors

  • Harry Kraemer – Former Chairman and CEO, Baxter. Top-rated Clinical Professor of Management and Strategy, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. Author of two best-selling leadership books.
  • Jeff Slovin – Former CEO and Director of Dentsply Sirona. He achieved consistent growth for 16 years at Sirona. Former CEO Named #1 Most Influential Person in Dentistry for 2017.
  • Bill Simpson – Former CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. Bill began his career with Hyatt Hotels Corporation. American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Board of Directors.
  • Mark Parsells – Chairman and CEO of three private equity backed corporations. Former President of Citibank Online. Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Global Debt Registry (MHR).

Corporate Executives

  • Aicha Evans – Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel Corporation. Formerly SVP in charge of wireless communication. Fortune Magazine—top future women leaders in America.
  • Rod MacKenzie – Executive Vice President, Chief Development Officer for Pfizer, member of Pfizer’s Executive Leadership Team. Co-inventor of darifenacin (Enablex™).
  • Kathleen Wilson-Thompson – EVP and Global CHRO, Walgreens Boots Alliance. Black Enterprise Magazine ‘Top 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America’ and ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America’.
  • Agapol Na Songkhla – Chief People Officer and Executive Vice President of Human Capital Group at Thai Beverage (ThaiBev). Former Executive VP and Head of Strategy & Transformation at TMB Bank.
  • Mike Sursock – Managing Director‐ Operations Group Baring Private Equity. Former CEO of KKR Capstone for Asia Pacific. Advisor and Speaker at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
  • Telisa Yancy – Chief Marketing Officer at American Family Insurance. Formerly a leader in the automotive, retail, restaurant, media innovation and consulting industries.
  • Deborah Borg – Chief Human Resources & Communications Officer, Bunge Limited. Former President, Dow Chemical USA. HR and talent development roles with General Motors Australia.
  • Darek Lenart – Senior VP HR, Finance MasterCard. Former HR director with Pepsi Central Eastern Europe, and gained HR expertise at PLIVA Pharmaceutical Company (now part of Teva Group).
  • Sean McGrath – Human Resources Vice-President World Bank Group. Former HR Director and member of executive management team at the National Irish Bank.
  • Gregory Enjalbert – Vice-President Asia-Pacific at Bombardier. Focuses on business development and implementation of new business plans across the Region.

University Leadership Development Professionals

  • Praveen Kopalle – Associate Dean MBA Program, Signal Companies’ Professor of Management and Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Leads Tuck’s incredibly innovative coaching program.
  • Tom Kolditz – Brigadier General. Distinguished Service Medal. Leads the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, Rice University. Provides groundbreaking university-wide coaching. Led Leadership Department at West Point.
  • Sanyin Siang – Executive Director of the Duke University Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics (COLE). Author: The Launch Book. One of LinkedIn’s 2017 ‘Top Voices’ among all Influencers.
  • Annie McKee – Executive Coach and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches and leads the PennCLO Executive Doctoral program. Author: How to Be Happy at Work. 
  • Clark Callahan – Managing Director, Custom Programs Harvard Business School Executive Education. Formerly led the growth of Executive Education at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
  • Diane Ryan – Associate Dean. Programs and Administration, Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. Former leader and Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point.
  • Bernie Banks – Brigadier General. Associate Dean, Leadership Development and Clinical Professor of Management, Northwestern. Led West Point’s Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.
  • Paul Corona – Clinical Associate Professor of Leadership, Director of Full-Time MBA Leadership Development Northwestern University. Builder of global brands including Alka-Seltzer, Chevrolet, and Deloitte & Touche.

Internal Leadership Development Professionals

  • David Peterson – Director, Center of Expertise, Leadership Development & Executive Coaching, Google, Inc. Served as leader of worldwide coaching services for PDI Ninth House (now Korn Ferry).
  • Laine Joelson Cohen – Director, Leadership, Executive and Professional Development for North America and Global Business Relationship Management for Citi. On the faculty of NYU’s School of Professional Studies.
  • Prakash Raman – Executive Development at LinkedIn. Coach, facilitator, with a focus on leadership, values, mindfulness, and teamwork. Former Division I athlete and top tennis player in the US.
  • Ronnie Miles – Manager, Organizational Development at the Federal Reserve Board. Former Global HR Business Partner at EMD Millipore, Senior-level OD partner at Fannie Mae, and Waste Management.
  • Jasmin Thomson – Leadership coach of MBA students at Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business. Leads leadership development and engagement at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
  • Patricia Gorton – Director of Global Leadership and Talent Development at Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC). Former SVP at Citi in both marketing and business development roles.
  • Bonita Thompson – Creator of the ‘What’s Next?’ Game. Leading innovator in HR for over 25 years. New York Timesbestselling author of ADMIRED: 21 Ways to Double Your Value.
  • Deanne Kissinger – Vice President, Global Talent Management at Diversey, Inc. Formerly in sales and sales management for pharmaceutical organizations including GlaxoSmithKline UK and US.
  • Wendy Greeson – Vice President, Global Learning & Development Cielo. While at Arthur J. Gallagher, Wendy was recognized for her extensive work with Harvard Business Publishing.

External Leadership Development Professionals

  • Michael Bungay Stanier – His books include the Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Coaching Habit. Canadian Coach of the Year, Rhodes Scholar, and an expert on leadership development and training coaches.
  • Gabriela Teasdale – President at Fundación Transformación PY and CEO of Paraguay Leadership Team, a professional training, coaching & community building organization.
  • Molly Tschang – Along with her leadership development work for corporations, Molly provides consulting for the NYU Reynolds Program for Social Entrepreneurship and does extensive pro-bono work for great causes.
  • Louis Carter – CEO, Best Practice Institute. A top advisor to C-level executives of major companies. Author of 10 books including: Change Champion’s Field Guide, and his newest book: In Great Company
  • Pawel Motyl – Formerly CEO (ICAN Institute) – Harvard Business Review Poland publishing and executive education. A leading European expert on decision making, leadership and talent management.
  • Tasha Eurich – Organizational psychologist, researcher, New York Times best-selling author. Written for Harvard Business Review, featured in The Wall Street JournalForbes, and New York Magazine. Latest book, Insight, long-listed for 800CEOReads Best Business Book of 2017.
  • David Nour – David has developed leaders in global companies such as Disney, Cisco Systems, Deloitte Consulting, IBM. A featured writer in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company.
  • Edy Greenblatt – Author of award-winning book Restore Yourself: The Antidote for Professional Exhaustion. P ioneering expert on resilience, faculty & coaching director DeSautels Centre for Integrative Thinking, University of Toronto.
  • Anu Oza – Led the leadership development practice at both Mercer and Accenture. Teacher and session leader at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Harvard University and Columbia University.
  • Terry Jackson – Consults with major companies such as Southern Corp, ExxonMobil, Bristol Meyers Squibb, New York Life. Currently engaged with the Pakistan government on several major consulting projects.

Executive Coaches

  • Carol Kauffman – Founder Institute of Coaching, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical SchoolHer Leader-as-Coach training received Harvard’s Inaugural Program Award for Culture of Excellence in Mentoring.
  • Sergey Sirotenko – A leading executive coach in Russia. Served as Director of Leadership Development at Yale and has taught Interpersonal and Group Dynamics at the Yale School of Management.
  • Cara Juicharern – A leading executive coach in Southeast Asia. She was recognized as one of ‘The Ten Wonder Women in Business’ by WOMAN PLUS Magazine.
  • Judith Glaser – Chairman, Creating WE Institute. Best-selling author of 7 business books including: Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. A ‘Top Ten’ global coach.
  • Peter Chee – President of ITD World. Creator of The Situational Coaching Model, author of 5 books including Coaching for Breakthrough Success. Recognized as the #1 Coach in Asia.
  • Hortense le Gentil – A leading executive coach in Western Europe. Helps leaders understand their Personal Identity to facilitate positive change in leadership behavior.
  • Reeta Nathwani – A leading Singapore based executive coach. Reeta is an authority on emotional intelligence and solutions focused coaching. A leader in BoardAgender which promotes inclusive, gender-balanced business.
  • Alisa Cohn – ‘Top Ten Coaches in Boston’ – Women’s Business.Executive coach for CEOs, emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. Cornell University Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and Faculty of Cornell Tech.
  • Philippe Grall – A French national and leading executive coach in Japan. Specializes in group coaching for board members. Facilitates workshops on vision, mission and values integration.

Strategy and Culture Advisors

  • Keith Ferrazzi – Addresses behaviors that block the achievement of strategic goals. Bestselling author: Who’s Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone. Published in The Wall Street Journal, HBR, INC, and Fast Company.
  • Chester Elton – Recognized as a top Global Guru in Leadership and Organizational Culture. Co-author of 5 New York Timesbestselling business books, including The Carrot PrincipleThe Orange Revolution and All In.
  • Dorie Clark – Marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker. Author of Entrepreneurial You. Clients include Google, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation and Yale. Teaches at the Duke Fuqua School of Business.
  • Erica Dhawan – Co-author of the bestseller: Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence, rated #1 on what Corporate America Is Reading. A Research Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership.
  • Claire Diaz-Ortiz – Technology innovator and speaker. Led social innovation at Twitter. Award-winning author of eight books, including: One Minute Mentoring. Fast Company – ‘100 Most Creative People in Business.’
  • Jeff Kuhn – A distinguished thinker, author, advisor, educator, and speaker at the intersection of strategy, innovation and growth, and organizational renewal. Author of Beyond the Mirage: Strategic Leadership in the New Market Landscape.
  • Denise Pirrotti Hummel – An expert on the connection between inclusion and business performance, an author, consultant, Ted Talk finalist, HBA Board member and the Chair of Athena’s Life Sciences Committee.
  • Himanshu Saxena – Strategic mindset, design thinker, and mindfulness practitioner, he was appointed a business coach for ‘Industry Vertical Heads’ under Prof Vijay Govindarajan at Tuck School of Business.

Strategy to Execution Advisors

  • Sandy Ogg – A leading expert in matching talent to value. Former Operating Partner at Blackstone, Chief Human Resources Officer for Unilever. Author of /move: The CEO’s Playbook for Capturing Value.
  • Mark Thompson – New York Times bestselling author, coach, investor and advisor to leaders who are transforming their companies—from Virgin’s Richard Branson and Apple’s Steve Jobs, to Pinterest founder Evan Sharp.
  • Marcia Blenko – Advisory partner at Bain & Company. Her focus is organization, decision effectiveness and leadership. Author of Decide & Deliver: Five Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization.
  • Bob Nelson – Recognized as a Top Thought Leader by the Best Practice Institute, he has sold 5 million books on management employee motivation and engagement, including 1501 Ways to Reward Employees.
  • Price Pritchett – Bestselling author of 26 books, which have sold more than 10 million copies, pioneering thought leader on merger integration strategy, corporate culture, innovation and organizational change.
  • Peter Bregman – An authority in strengthening leadership in people and organizations. Author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, 18 Minutes, and host of Bregman Leadership Podcast.


  • Feyzi Fatehi – An INC Magazine nominee, a pioneer in the Cloud industry, and the founder and CEO of Corent Technologies, Feyzi is also author of The 10x Innovation Revolution.
  • Pooneh Mohajer – An INC Magazine nomineeA visionary entrepreneur. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of tokidoki. She is also the co-founder of Hard Candy, which she successfully sold to LVMH.
  • Michel Kripalani – President & CEO of Oceanhouse Media, an app development company, ranked by Inc 500 as one the Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2014.

Startups / Small Business / Family Coaches

  • Divya Silbermann – Human resources leader at technology startups, including Facebook and Eventbrite. Facebook’s first HR hire, she has led global people programs, been an HR Business Partner, and CFO.
  • Everett Alexander – Chief investment officer who formerly worked at Invesco Ltd. He has spent more than 15 years investing in industries such as healthcare, energy, industrials, and technology. He is a family business coach.
  • Bryan Miller – A leadership and family business coach, he has held leadership roles with the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. Award-winning author of: Behind the Drive.
  • Doug Winnie – A leading ACTIONCoach Executive Coach, he has built and sold several of his own multi-million dollar companies and now teaches business owners how to do the same.
  • Donnie Dhillon – Founder and CEO of London Business Growth and partner with ActionCOACH. Recognized as the youngest director at GlaxoSmithKline and business coach to businesses embracing emerging technologies for rapid growth. Active director and consultant for BNI.
  • David Gallimore – Led seven successful startups inside Boeing, Capgemini, IBM, Wall Data. Co-founded a business/law school clinic at Seattle University based on the Grameen Bank micro-lending model.

Personal Leadership Thinkers

  • Tal Ben Shahar – Co-founder and Chief Content Officer of the Happiness Studies Academy. Taught two of the largest and most popular courses in Harvard’s history, ‘Positive Psychology’ and ‘The Psychology of Leadership.’
  • Srikumar Rao – Developer of one of the most popular courses ever taught at top business schools (Kellogg, Columbia, UC Berkeley, London Business School), author Are You Ready to Succeed? and Happiness at Work.
  • Julie Carrier – CEO of Girls Lead, which supports the world’s leading girl-serving and youth-serving organizations including the United Nations Foundation, Girl Scouts, the Future Business Leaders of America.
  • Julie Rosenberg – Physician executive, advanced yoga instructor and global healthcare leader at Pfizer. Author of Beyond the Mat: Achieve Focus, Presence, and Enlightened Leadership Through the Principles and Practice of Yoga.

Fascinating Leaders from Diverse Fields

  • Ayse Birsel – One of Fast Company magazine’s ‘World’s Top 15 Designers’. Author Design the Life You Love, and recipient of IDEA (Industrial Design Excellence Awards) and Best of NeoCon Gold Awards.
  • Mitch Carmichael – Senate President – Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia. His vast experience from serving on the Committees of Finance, Judiciary, Education, and Rules. Executive position with CityNet.
  • Jim Citrin – World leader in executive search. Leads CEO Practice at Spencer Stuart. Best-selling author of 7 books, including: You’re in Charge, Now What? and The Career Playbook.
  • Brown Johnson – EVP, Creative Director, Sesame Workshop. Former President of Animation & Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon. Recipient of Emmys, Television Critics, Peabody, Imagen and NAACP Image Awards.
  • Paul Hill – Former Director of Mission Operations NASA. Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
  • Eric Schurenberg – President and Editor-in-Chief of INC and Fast Company. Formerly CBS and and managing editor of Money Magazine.
  • Rob Nail – World authority on disruptive technology and the future. CEO and Associate Founder of Singularity University. Prior to Singularity, he co-founded Velocity11. Former director at Harman.
  • Dave Meltzer – CEO of Sports 1 Marketing. Forbes and Entrepreneur Top 5 Keynote Speaker, and 2017 ‘Game Changer of the Year,’ ACQ Global Awards. Author of Compassionate Capitalism and Connected to Goodness.
  • Howard Prager – President, Advance Learning Group, Senior Leadership and Change Strategist for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Teaches executive education at the University of Notre Dame.

100 Coaches Leadership Staff

  • Scott Osman – CEO 100 Coaches project and Director Good Omen Partners. Previously Scott served as the key innovator and global director of the Purpose Strategy practice at Landor Associates.
  • Sarah McArthur – COO Marshall Goldsmith Inc. leads many exciting projects for Marshall including 100 Coaches, the NYT bestselling Triggers, and Marshall’s Thinkers50 and LinkedIn blogs.
  • Frank Wagner – Co-Founder Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. Has trained over 2,000 coaches. Author The Coach’s PlaybookThe Leader as Coach.
  • Taavo Godtfredsen – Taavo is an Executive Coach & Leadership Advisor, and was the Executive Producer & Vice President for Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft.
  • Howard Morgan – An executive coach, Howard is one of the founders of HRM Possibilities (with Marshall and Ron Campbell) and Founding Partner of the 50 Top Coaches organization.
  • Will Linssen – Practice leader for Asia and Europe at Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. A Master Certified Coach, he provides executives with effective business solutions for measurable results.
  • Chris Coffey – Chris leads Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching with Frank Wagner. Author: The New IQ, How to lead Up, Down, and Across and The Coach’s Playbook: The Leader as Coach Playbook.
  • Luke Joerger – Digital Marketing / Audience Development / Dir. of Content for Marshall Goldsmith and 100 Coaches Project. Responsible for generating millions of followers and billions of video views across platforms for major media brands.

In 2018, 100 Aspiring Coaches will be selected based on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. Please apply at We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on Introducing 100 Coaches: Pay It Forward Champions

4 Ways to Manage through Turbulent Times


[Edited from Lifestorming by Marshall Goldsmith and Alan Weiss]

In 1980, Peter Drucker wrote a cutting-edge book called Managing in Turbulent Times. Today, turbulent times are the norm, so we might as well get used to them and get better at dealing with them.

Features of today’s turbulent times include:

  • No expectation of privacy
  • Immediate and irretrievable communication
  • Global applications and competition
  • Rapidly advancing technology (sometimes helpful and sometimes not)
  • Shifting demographics
  • Remote learning
  • Extensive extracurricular activities for kids
  • Huge pressure on attention spans
  • Virtual reality in business and personal pursuits

You can certainly add many more. How does one cope? How do you progress, let alone hold your position, against these headwinds? What actions can you take to continue your journey in the directions you’ve plotted?

Here is our recipe for staying your course during turbulent times (in other words, modern times):

  1. Create a support system. We’ve seen too many people fail because their closest family and friends undermined them. You need people around you who can give you honest feedback when requested, and who buy into your journey. That may mean candid discussions with a partner, vulnerability among friends, and truthfulness with yourself. These people create a constant eye in the storm. If they are not of that persuasion, they will merely exacerbate the wind gusts and rain.
  2. Understand that behavior is more important than victories. If you engage in consistently correct behavior, you’ll be successful. It’s far better to be gracious in winning and losing, for example, than to win constantly by manipulation and deceit, which will eventually do you in.
  3. You can’t cement victories into your operating system, but you can cement behaviors. They become part of your unconscious competency, your automatic habits, and stand you in good stead in all circumstances. A person who’s naturally generous will be so without thinking about it, gaining the respect of others without trying.
  4. Seek excellence, not perfection. The futile search for perfection will kill success, because it is never achieved. No plane you’ve been on, no dinner you’ve consumed, no relationship you’ve developed, has ever been or will ever be perfect. Yet we procrastinate, delay, and postpone, holding out for an ideal that never materializes. Once you’re content with excellence, you’ll improve daily and will act daily with alacrity and intent. Your journey will speed up because you’ve accepted and embarked upon a good route, and have not waited for the (illusory) perfect route.
  5. Learn when to fold and when to hold. There is a time in many pursuits, no matter how worthy and cherished, when you no longer throw good money after bad. Poor gamblers seem to think that they can reverse luck if they just keep playing and, when they’re ahead, don’t know when to quit. We’ve seen too many people endure bad bosses, poor relationships, unruly children, burdensome obligations, and other “necessary evils” to the point of depression. There is a time when you cannot change things, they will not get better on their own, and you need to take a sharp right turn to escape your predicament.

Using the four markers above, remember, your goal is to remain steady, to maintain your equilibrium through it all and allow your character and your presence to be paramount, guiding you through turbulent times, helping you continue on your journey, and allowing you to be at your imperfect best no matter what!

Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches ‘pay it forward’ legacy project is making great progress. On April 27, in addition to the first 25 members, Marshall announced 30 fantastic new participants (out of over 12,000 applicants). In 2017, 45 more top professionals will be selected (mostly from outside the US). In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches. This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. If you would like to apply, please to We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on 4 Ways to Manage through Turbulent Times

The Secret to Setting Yourself Up for Explosive Growth!


[Edited from Lifestorming by Marshall Goldsmith and Alan Weiss]

Character evolves. Our circumstances change. We are constantly bombarded with opportunities to grow, be better, and develop as human beings. Not everyone rises to the challenge. Some of us are afraid to because we think that people will judge us if we change or do things differently.

The point we want to make here is critical: a shift in your identity doesn’t make you a phony! You are allowed to fill new roles and take on new responsibilities. You may hang back, wondering “Who am I to…?

  • Tell a teacher that there is too much homework?
  • Ask for a meal not on the menu?
  • Address this particular group on that topic?
  • Offer to be chair of the fund-raising committee?
  • Lobby the town counsel for a stop sign at a dangerous corner?

We encourage you to be willing to take on new roles. Where once our commentary or intervention was improper, now it may be precisely relevant. (Or it may have never been improper at all.)

Rather than asking yourself, “Who am I to…?” Why not change that question and ask yourself, “Did I do my best to…?” Why not stop holding yourself back and dive into being better? Why not prepare yourself for explosive growth by changing the questions you ask yourself?

This process of asking yourself “Did I do my best to….?” is called the Daily Questions and I use it every day. In fact, I pay a woman to call me up every day and ask me a series of questions that I wrote, such as: Did I do my best to be happy that day? Set goals? Make progress on those goals? Say or do something nice for my wife, my son, my daughter, and my grandchildren? If you do this yourself, you might even add the question, did I do my best to rise to the challenges put before me today?

I have about 40 Daily Questions and I think of these as a brief self-test on my life’s main priorities. My caller offers no judgment, she just listens politely and perhaps offers a few general words of encouragement before we hang up.

Asking myself “Did I do my best to…?” keeps me focused on becoming a happier, healthier person. It provides the discipline I sorely need in my busy working life as an executive coach, teacher, and speaker, which involves traveling 180 days out of the year to countries all over the globe.

I hope you’ll try this for yourself! I’d love to hear what questions you want to ask yourselves – please leave a comment! And if you’d like to see my questions, send me an email to

Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches ‘pay it forward’ legacy project is making great progress. On April 27, in addition to the first 25 members, Marshall announced 30 fantastic new participants (out of over 12,000 applicants). In 2017, 45 more top professionals will be selected (mostly from outside the US). In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches. This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. If you would like to apply, please to We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on The Secret to Setting Yourself Up for Explosive Growth!

6 Reasons to “Fire” Clients!


[Edited from Lifestorming by Marshall Goldsmith and Alan Weiss]

Americans are passionate consumers and acquirers of things. The Los Angeles Timesonce reported that our homes contain an average of 300,000 items![1] At the same time, we are fascinated with getting rid of our stuff. The book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Japanese home organization expert Marie Kondo, is a global best seller. Apparently, 4 million of us want help eliminating the objects in our lives that do not, as the book says, “spark joy.”[2] This speaks volumes about our consumer culture, but it also reveals an underlying obsession with cyclical change: We purge the old to bring in the new. And we are hungry for expert advice about how to pull it off.

As consultants, we advise our clients in professional services to consider “firing” the bottom 10 to 15 percent of their clients every two years. That’s because although many of these clients made sense at a different point in their growth and our own, they no longer provide support or are even profitable. In the corporate world as well, we advise that our clients triage their customers, so that the most attention can be paid to and the highest investment made in the most loyal and highest potential customers.

We would never advise abandoning all customers! And we don’t advise you to abandon all habits. But some relationships are holding you back, and some people are taking advantage. Which relationships should you continue to develop, and which should you gently let go? In business, we recommend that customers be referred elsewhere (fired) when they:

1.    Are problem-prone and complain about trivial matters.

2.    Don’t present any more potential business.

3.    Don’t refer business.

4.    Are no longer profitable.

5.    Are engaged in unethical or questionable activities.

6.    No longer match your mission statement and values.

Of course we don’t recommend that you jilt longstanding clients or old friends simply because they aren’t your style anymore. Many of our successful clients have outpaced their peers in income and social status. The happiest among them know how to maintain old relationships without awkwardness. They gain more respect, not less, by keeping their old connections.

When we talk about relationships to eliminate, we are talking about relationships that are consistently, poisonously negative, and are extremely unlikely to change. This category includes people who regularly belittle us, people consumed by addiction, or people who make dangerous ethical lapses that could compromise our livelihoods. It also represents relationships with groups that are bringing us down. We suggest dropping memberships in organizations that are downers, meant only for commiseration and cementing a sense of victimhood. We also suggest avoiding negative or depressing publications. If quitting them cold turkey is hard to do, realize that you can achieve just about the same effect by drastically restricting your time with them in frequency, duration, and intensity.

In professional settings, it’s not terribly hard to cut ties with people or groups who are bringing us down. Eliminating a long-term, personal relationship is much harder, of course. Sometimes it isn’t even possible.

We sometimes must accept coworkers who complain or lash out. Perhaps the person comes with the job. Many people love their work so much that they’ll accept a boss who does this. (Yet if you don’t love your work, that’s a futile tactic.) It’s almost impossible to ignore a hovering mother or domineering father (or vice versa).

Unless we decide we’re going to cut them off forever, we have to find a way to accept the feuds at family gatherings—or the other trouble they tend to cause. We can anticipate these dynamics, prepare for them, and be at peace in our tolerance of them. If we don’t accept the things we can’t change, we’ll forever be stressed and unhealthy.

Eliminating relationships from our lives isn’t—and shouldn’t be—a cut-and-dry task. We suggest doing it gradually and in most cases not stopping abruptly. Here are some questions to consider as you attempt to eliminate certain relationships:

1.    What life do I envision for myself a year from now? Is this relationship helpful or hurtful to that vision?

2.    If I had the chance, with whom would I like to meet and develop a relationship? Is this relationship hindering progress in that direction?

3.    With regards to this relationship, what am I accepting as a necessary evil or as an obligation I impose on myself?

4.    And, finally, when it comes to making decisions about keeping or eliminating this relationship, am I using my own metrics for progress and success or someone else’s?

[1] Mary MacVean, “For Many People, Gathering Possessions Is Just the Stuff of Life,” Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2014,

[2] Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Tokyo: Sunmark Publishing, 2015),

Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches ‘pay it forward’ legacy project is making great progress. On April 27, in addition to the first 25 members, Marshall announced 30 fantastic new participants (out of over 12,000 applicants). In 2017, 45 more top professionals will be selected (mostly from outside the US). In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches. This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. If you would like to apply, please to go We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on 6 Reasons to “Fire” Clients!

How Do You Know Someone Will Do a Great Job?


As an executive coach, I have a unique compensation system – I only get paid if my clients get better. “Better” means my clients achieve positive, measurable change in behavior, not as judged by themselves but by their key stakeholders. This process usually takes about 18 months and involves an average of 16 stakeholders.

My coaching approach has been described in several major publications, such as Forbes and The New Yorker. I have been asked many times where I came up with this “pay only for results” idea. The answer is from Dennis Mudd, who was my boss 43 years ago.

Growing up in Valley Station, Ky., my family was poor. Dad operated a small, two-pump gas station. The roof on our home was very old and starting to leak badly. We had no choice but to get a new roof, although this would be a painful expenditure for us. Dad hired Dennis Mudd to put on the roof. In order for us to save some money, I worked as his assistant.

Putting on a roof in the middle of the summer in Kentucky is incredibly hard work. I never have done another job (before or since) that required this degree of physical exertion. I was amazed at the care Mr. Mudd put into the laying of the shingles. He was patient with me as I made mistakes and helped me learn how to do the job right. After a while, my attitude toward this project changed from “grudging acceptance” to “pride in a job well-done.” In spite of the heat and pain, I looked forward to working with Mr. Mudd every day.

When the project was finally over, I thought the roof looked great. When Mr. Mudd presented my Dad with the invoice for our work, he said quietly, “Bill, please take your time and inspect our work. If you feel that this roof meets your standards, pay us. If not, there is no charge for our work.” It was obvious, he was very serious in his request.

Dad carefully looked at the roof, thanked both of us for a job well-done and then paid Mr. Mudd, who then paid me for my help.

I will never forget watching Mr. Mudd when he asked Dad to only pay for results. He wasn’t kidding – he was dead serious, and my respect for Mr. Mudd skyrocketed. I was only 14 years old, but I will never forget this event. I knew the Mudd family. They didn’t have any more money that we did. I thought, “Mr. Mudd may be poor, but he is not cheap. This guy has class. When I grow up, I want to be like Dennis Mudd.”

Although I have received many honors for my work, I doubt I will ever match the dedication to quality and the integrity Mr. Mudd showed. In the past 29 years, I have not gotten paid on a few assignments and have never asked for money I felt was undeserved. Financially, how much has this hurt me? At the time, it caused me some pain and embarrassment, but I knew I was still going to have a very prosperous life.

How much would not getting paid have hurt Mr. Mudd? A lot. Not paying him would have meant that his family would not be eating very well for the next couple of months. This sacrifice didn’t matter, though. His pride and integrity were more important than money.

Mr. Mudd never gave any pep talks about quality or values. He didn’t use any fancy buzzwords such as “empowerment” or “customer delight.” He didn’t have to – his actions communicated his values better than any buzzwords he might have used.

We can all learn a lot from this man. The next time you are working on a project, ask yourself, “What would happen to my level of commitment, if I knew that I was only going to be paid if I achieved results?”

How would your behavior change?

What if someone said this to you, “I don’t want you to pay me unless you are 100% satisfied with the results.”

Wouldn’t you know that person was going to do the best job they could for you?

Mr. Mudd taught me a lesson I will try to live up to for the rest of my life. What is important is not how much he impressed me. What is much more important is that he could look with pride at the person he saw in the mirror every day.

Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches ‘pay it forward’ legacy project is making great progress. On April 27, in addition to the first 25 members, Marshall announced 30 fantastic new participants (out of over 12,000 applicants). In 2017, 45 more top professionals will be selected (mostly from outside the US). In 2018, Marshall plans to select an additional 100 Aspiring Coaches.This group will be selected on their potential to make a positive difference and pay it forward in the future. If you would like to apply, please to go We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted in _Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog | Comments Off on How Do You Know Someone Will Do a Great Job?