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March 30, 2010

News & Opinion: Marshall Goldsmith's MOJO

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 9:40 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Marshall Goldsmith brought his MOJO to Milwaukee today for our LeaveSmarter series, and I think he really woke the audience up in a way most business speakers just don't.

Our sponsors for these events always send us a list of attendees with seating arrangements ahead of time. The first thing Marshall did was rearrange that preordained seating, having everybody get up and sit next to somebody they didn't know. Then, throughout his time speaking, he would ask tough questions of the audience and have the attendees turn to their new neighbor to answer them, usually with a 20 second time limit, prompting the audience to quickly share their ideas without worrying if they'd sound ridiculous to a coworker—all while forming a very new, very real human connection. No, it wasn't always comfortable, but Marshall Goldsmith is always very effective.

I believe the greatest advice Marshall had to offer today is to "Be happy now." Stop believing you'll be happy when you get the new car, the bigger house, the corner office... be happy now. And that doesn't mean "be complacent," or "don't succeed." It is, in fact, to be truly successful, to be happy now as you're doing whatever it is you're doing. And, if you're not, to do something else.

Maybe that's not as easy as it sounds, but it is probably the most important thing we can do for ourselves and those around us. He illustrated its importance by asking a very poignant question, "What do you want your children to be when they grow up?" The most common answer, of course, is "happy." We don't care what they do or become; we care simply that they're happy. And that should be our goal for ourselves, as well.

We'll have video of the event available and an interview for you soon, but until then, I'd like to share two simple questions he asked us to consider.

➻ "How happy was I?" and "How meaningful was it?" Ask yourself those two questions after your next (and every subsequent) meeting. If the answers aren't satisfying to you, find a way to make that hour-long meeting less boring and actually worth your time. The responses those attending came up with were good, but my favorite was one the author suggested, (and I'm paraphrasing) "Take copious notes... on a different topic."

➻ What percent of all your interpersonal communication time is spent on: "People talking about how smart, special or wonderful they are (or listening to this) + People talking about how stupid, inept or bad someone else is (or listening to that)."

And, as I said before, he did more than just talk at the audience about addressing these issues; he had the audience members talk to each other about them, and they spent almost as much time on their feet moving around the room as they did in their chairs. It is not only an engaging approach, it is a fun one. And when people's awkardness falls away from the interaction, which it inevitably does, it is actually transformative.

You may not be able to have Marshall Goldsmith come to your home personally and do what he did today in Milwaukee, but you can get the next best thing—MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.