Mark Goulston

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Co-Founder of Heartfelt Leadership, a Global Community whose Mission is Daring to Care through identifying, celebrating, developing, empowering, impassioning and emboldening heartfelt leaders to support each other and then together change the world for the better. He is the author of the #1 international best selling book, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone and his recent co-authored book, Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In.

Why does the world need a work revolution?
The world needs a work revolution because we are in a state of devolution — we have gone backwards towards our animal instincts to winner takes all zero sum thinking. Too many people are digging in their heels and saying “Why should I care about anyone other than myself when no one else does?”

How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
I cofounded Heartfelt Leadership which is a global community whose mission is “Daring to Care” because I reached a point in my life in which I could no longer tolerate being around people who were selfish, greedy and driven only by a personal self-serving agenda.

Why do you do what you do?
Forty years ago at a low point in my life someone dared to care about me and stood up for me to defend me when I couldn’t, stood by me in a crisis and wouldn’t’ let me fail and then stood up to me in private to push me to do what I didn’t think I was capable of — which was to go on and not do something hasty that I would regret. The most important thing he did for me is tell me that in 20 years I would realize how much the world needed what he referred to as “kindness and goodness” which he felt was my core, but that I couldn’t see or see value in. That was enough to help me finish medical school after dropping out twice. Since then, I became involved in providing for my family and building a successful psychiatric practice and was distracted from a wider, higher calling beyond helping hopeless and often suicidal individuals find hope and a reason to live. And that calling now is to help develop, celebrate, impassion and embolden heartfelt leaders to fix the world for the better.

What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
I love writing and love the power of words to reach, touch and lift the human spirit. Here is a sample of a few of my favorite quotes that touch me and might touch others.

“First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.” — Dr. Milton Greenblatt, psychiatrist and former supervisor

“If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime, but if you teach a man to learn to learn, you feed him for a lifetime and he doesn’t have to just eat fish.” — Tim Gallwey, sports commentator.

“The purest form of communication is to listen without memory or desire. When we listen with memory we have an old agenda we are trying to plug someone into and when we listen with desire we have a new agenda we are trying to plug them into, but in neither case are we listening to their agenda.” — Wilfred Bion, psychoanalyst

What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
One of the things that Heartfelt Leadership does at our Linked in group is not allowing any selling or self promotion. When someone attempts to do that, I politely send them a private message telling them about our no sell, no self promote rule and suggesting they have someone who has benefitted from their service or product join our group and tout their service or product and provide a link to it. No one is allowed to promote themselves. Interestingly, when I have done this, the universal response has been an apology and accolade for what we are doing and the hope that the intent to provide a space where people can share from their hearts is appreciated. Currently we have over 700 members. We believe that there is an ache in people to find a group that comes from a position of caring and one where you can feel safe to be yourself.

What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that inspires you? How does it impact your work?
I love Costco. I love Costco because it puts its customers first, its employees second and its shareholders a distant third. I’m reminded of something that former CEO and Co-Founder Jim Sinegal said when he met with shareholders and they told him that they liked that Costco provided great value to its customers and was good to its employees, but they challenged him to try to further increase its profits to increase the ROI to his shareholders. Sinegal responded with: “I have three words for you, sell your stock”. That story reminds me that making a difference is more important than making a dollar.

What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
I developed a simple survey called the PEP CEO Challenge which contains three questions to be asked of all employees that they answer anonymously. I begin it by stating “If you were at a party and asked someone about their job or company and they spoke about it with regard to their pride, enthusiasm and passion at a level of 10, 10, 10, and you didn’t feel the same about your company, you would feel envious.”

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate how you feel about our company with regard to your pride, enthusiasm and passion?
  2. What would be a single positive thing that we could change that would raise your rating from what it is towards 10,10,10?
  3. What is one negative thing that if we stopped completely would also raise your rating towards 10,10,10?

This survey is very revealing and it’s a challenge to the CEO, because people generally don’t like surveys and if you get them to answer this, you must take action on it.

What is one surprising thing we should know about you?
I am painfully shy and I am a role specific extrovert. This means when I am called upon to perform a certain role that requires me to take charge of a situation in a leadership manner, I will put my introversion aside and do it with full commitment and dedication.

What do you do for fun?
I make an introduction every day. I introduce people core values to core values and the quality of the introductions have improved from what I’ve called a ‘kumbaya’ introduction to real collaborations and friendships. There is nothing I enjoy more than helping good people succeed.

How do you stay productive throughout your day?
I stay much more productive than my being organized might predict. My way of being productive is to try to be totally present with whatever is in front of me. The good part of that is I am able to immerse myself in projects and people at a very deep level. The bad part of it is when it’s time to let go and move on to the next project or person, there is a slight period of disorientation.

How can people connect with you?
Twitter: @MarkGoulston

Where in the world are you?
Los Angeles, CA

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