The Mojo Podcast: Marshall Goldsmith

Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It

Marshall Goldsmith, Executive CoachMarshall Goldsmith

"If I could write a headline that sums up the last ten years of the American (and other rich country's) workplace -- and the next thirty years as well -- it would be this: 'That Job is Gone!'" - Marshall Goldsmith

Welcome to a special Leadership Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio. I'm excited to have back on TPR one of America's preeminent executive coaches: Marshall Goldsmith. The timing of Marshall's books is truly remarkable: His New York Times bestseller What Got You Here Won't Get You There was released in 2007. An accurate reflection on the times and the economy? I think so.

His latest book, just released this month is titled Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It Considering how brutal the economy and job market has been over the past couple of years, I think many of us have struggled to keep our mojo intact.

Program Transcript

Marshall Goldsmith Interview Transcript:

Welcome to a special Leadership Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton reporting.

I'm excited to have back on TPR one of America's preeminent executive coaches: Marshall Goldsmith. The timing of Marshall's books is truly amazing. His New York Times bestseller What Got You Here Won't Get You There was released in 2007. An accurate reflection on the times and the economy? I think so. His latest book, just released is titled Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It. Considering how brutal the economy and job market has been over the past couple of years, I think many of us have struggled to keep our personal mojo along with our sanity intact.

Marshall, thank you so much for speaking with us today on TotalPicture Radio.

MARSHALL: Thank you for asking me.

PETER: Back to my intro, the brutal economy; friends and acquaintances I speak with in the coaching profession, people I regularly communicate with from i4cp, The Institute for Corporate Productivity and from ASTD and HR leaders and SHRM, and they're all saying the same thing, Marshall, corporations are zeroing out their training and coaching budgets. What do you think this lack of investment is going to mean long term for these organizations?

MARSHALL: Well, again, I think that's a short term smart long term dumb strategy because in the end, what you really need to be doing is focusing on keeping the greatest people and the real return on coaching is with the high end, not the low end anyway. Keeping the people who are your high-potential future leaders, that's where the investment needs to go and sacrificing that is a mistake.

PETER: Congratulations on your new book. I just downloaded your iPhone app!

MARSHALL: Oh, great.

PETER: However, I see you were not able to work diet into the title, Marshall.

MARSHALL: Well, that's true. I mean after the last book, I was threatening to do that. My last book was the #1 best selling business book, the #1 best selling diet book so 10 times as many copies. I was thinking about titling this book Mojo: The Diet.

PETER: Speaking about your last book, the interview we recorded in New York in 2007 is still on TotalPicture Radio in the Leadership Channel and I highly encourage our listeners to have a listen to that because it absolutely is relevant today as it was when we recorded it.

Marshall, let's talk about your new book. How do you define mojo?

MARSHALL: Mojo, that positive spirit toward what you're doing... Now, that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside. So, I define Mojo as the focus on happiness and meaning in what you're doing at this particular point in time.

PETER: Your book centers on mastering what you call the four keys - identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance. How did you arrive at what you call these vital ingredients to having great a mojo?

MARSHALL: Well, I went back and sort of look at the definition and I thought what are the factors? The first one, identity - that positive spirit towards what you are doing. Well, who is the you in you?

In my coaching, I've really focused now more on identity than I ever have in the past. In the past, I focused largely on helping people change behavior but as I've grown older, I realize if you change your behavior but you don't change your identity, the way you define yourself, you may think you're a phony or inauthentic and that people can make positive changes without being phony or inauthentic only to the degree that they are able to change their identity or the way they define themselves and then achievement of course, it's pretty hard to have a positive spirit towards what you're doing if you don't do it very well. Only in the book, I look at achievement from two different dimensions.

One is the more standard dimension, that is what do you bring to the task or the activity. The second one is a little different, what does the activity bring to you; because if you look at the concept of achievement, to me a truly successful person in life is a person who's happy doing what their doing and finding meaning in their lives. You can be a billionaire who's achieved a lot and still be negative, bitter, and cynical.

So, to me, the real definition of success doesn't come from the outside, it comes from the inside.

Then the third one, reputation. Reputation is that you were projecting onto the rest of the world and mojo also talks about radiates to the outside. What does the world see in you and does that align with that person that you want to be seen as and then finally, I think maybe the most important part of the book for today is acceptance.

Change what you can change and accept what you can't and if you can't change it, learn to make peace with it. And basically looking at life, I've got two choices, if I'm not happy with what's going on, I can change it which is the world around me or I can change me. That's about it; change it or change yourself and sometimes we can change the world around us and I talk about some ways to do that in the book. When we can't, I also talk about how to let go and just say, how can I accept what is, and changed what I can't.

PETER: On that topic of acceptance, Marshall, one of the people you profile in mojo is an all-too frequent profile today. He's a 55-year-old former TV executive waiting to get back in the game with the major network. You know, it's just not going to happen. So how can we convince the Chucks out there they need a new game plan?

MARSHALL: Well hopefully, the Chucks of the world will read this book and really look in the mirror and quit looking for a job that's not coming back and you know, I have a whole chapter called, That Job Is Gone. And that's true not just at the Chuck level, that's true at the high-end jobs, such as IBM executives. It's true at the low-end jobs, such as blue-collar workers. A lot of jobs are gone today and I think very important that the old world is not coming back. Change is here. What is is. How can I make peace with the new world as it exists, quit pinning for a past that's not coming back and say get on with life.

PETER: It's real interesting that people continue to hold on, and grasp onto these jobs, as you put it, that just aren't coming back. Look at the publishing industry, I mean, there's tons of jobs that are gone forever in that industry.

MARSHALL: Oh, I actually look at this book, Mojo, this is near the end of an era. I mean 20 years from today, who knows how many printed books are going to get sold but I can tell you - not many. In this book, the book I'm holding in my hand right now in this format, there will be printed books 20 years from today, but I can tell you not many. And if you got to make a living selling print in 20 years from today, you're in trouble. Might as well sell vinyl records. You know somebody's going to buy them, but not too many.

PETER: Here's Marshall's most frequently asked question - what is the one quality that differentiates truly successful people from everyone else? Can you answer that for us?

MARSHALL: One word - mojo.

PETER: {laughing} That's a pretty good lay up, huh?

MARSHALL: That's it. That's it. Truly successful people have mojo. They're finding happiness and meaning in what they're doing now. That, to me, is the definition of success.

I have had these programs at my house with retiring CEOs. I've done three of them. It's really fascinating, and we talk about what matters in life and the first thing I tell them is, if you think you're going to be happy playing crappy golf with old men at the country club, sitting at that same table eating chicken salad sandwiches every day and talking about gallbladder surgery, you're going to be in for a big bad surprise. It ain't gonna work.

What I tell them is you know, let's talk about what matters in life, and we've only come up with five things that matter. There is heath; if you don't have health, the rest of it doesn't count for too much. And then there's wealth; wealth only impacts happiness in the United States up to around $50,000 to 80,000 a year. After that, wealth isn't going to make you any happier. Study after study has shown this. The Forbes 400, they are no happier than people making $65,000 a year. So for these people, wealth isn't it.

Relationships are critically important. In my last book, I talked a lot about relationships. The only other two things that matter in life are happiness and meaning. That's it. Basically if you're healthy, you got enough money, that you're making kind of a middle-class lifestyle, you have good personal relationships with people you love and respect, and you're doing something that's meaningful for you, and you're happy in doing it, guess what? You just won. You won. You're a big winner and if you miss any of those, guess what? You start losing.

PETER: In contrast to Chuck who you wrote about, you wrote about a corporate communications executive, who on the surface has all the trappings of success - he has a great job and makes lots of money, but doesn't consider himself to be successful. We've all met the Richards of the world out there in the cubicle farms.

MARSHALL: They feel like losers, yeah, and you know, somebody else from the outside could look at him and think that what he's doing is fantastic and he might be putting on a good show to the world but on the inside, he feels like he sold out. Ultimately, the person we report to, is that person looking at us in the mirror. And if that person doesn't feel good about you, you got a problem.

PETER: So how does one go about measuring their personal mojo?

MARSHALL: Well, you've already started downloading the apps, I think we should do it as we go through the day, real simple, and the mojo meter, well first, let me give you my three favorite lines in the book.

PETER: Okay.

MARSHALL: My three favorite lines are, line one - our default reaction in life is not to experience happiness.

Line two - our default reaction in life is not to experience, meaning; Our default reaction in life is to experience inertia. Many people are just drifting through life. They're just basically going through life, drifting along, without a clear sense of focus, a clear sense of direction, or a clear sense of any kind of identity. So what happens is, it's no wonder they don't get anywhere, because there's really not much where they're headed for.

I think it's very important to try to break this cycle of inertia. We all tend to be what we've been and do what we've done and behave in the way we behave in the past and what I like about the mojo meter is, as you go through the day, every hour, every interaction, how happy was I? How meaningful was this? And here's my theory, let's imagine you work in a big company. You got to a meeting, a boring meeting, stupid PowerPoint slides, you're dreading it. Well, option A, you can go to that meeting and be negative and cynical and bitter and piss everyone else off. Or option B, you could say, "You know, one hour of my life is gone anyway. How can I make the best of this hour?" Well, I think if you knew you're going to have to do this evaluation, you'd be much more likely to make the best of the hour. And it's interesting, it's not that you're going to turn that hour on a 1 to 10 scale from a one which is negative to a 10 which is positive but let's say you turn it from a 1 to a 5.

PETER: It's really awareness, right?

MARSHALL: Right. I'm a Buddhist, and that's just basically, what Buddha taught, you know, is just awareness. Keep it in your mind and I'll tell you it's hard to keep it in your mind, very, very hard to keep in our minds.

I have this daily question process I talk about in the book, I do every day with my own peer coach, right and why do I do this? Somebody said, "Why do I have to have somebody go through this stuff with me every day? Don't I know the theory about how to change behavior? I wrote the theory. That's why I have somebody do it every day. Do you think it's easy for me? It's not any easier for me than anybody else. Have you ever seen the movie Up In The Air?

PETER: Yeah. In fact, I was going to ask you about Up In The Air, because in reading your book I see you're one of these 10 million frequent flyer American Airlines miles people. Do you have one of these Clooney cards?

MARSHALL: Well, the Clooney card is not quite real and no pilot ever came over and talked to me, but I do have 10 million frequent flyer miles. I do have a card that does say 10 million frequent flyer miles on it.

After the movie, people are much more impressed now, though when I show them my card. {laughing} A lot of them don't even believe it. They think I'm making it up. I say read the card.

PETER: Well, fortunately, what you fly around and do is a lot more productive than what Clooney was doing in the movie.

MARSHALL: Well, also I stay nicer hotels and eat in better restaurants, and I don't rent cars. {laughing} My life is a little easier than his.

PETER: I want to circle back around and talk to you about reputation, because you know with social networks, the internet and Twitter and all the things that are going on, it seems to me reputation has become far more transparent than it was even a couple of years ago, sort of adds to the complexity of your "brain pill" question, doesn't it?

MARSHALL: Oh, and I'll tell you reputation, I'm glad you're bringing up issues like Facebook. I had a woman call me a couple of years ago, and she worked in a very large consulting firm, and she had an unusual last name. So she called up and I'm just talking to her and we're introducing ourselves, "Oh. Did you go to Columbia?" "Oh, yes I did. I got an MBA." I said, "Yeah, do you like to run marathons?" She goes, "Oh, yeah. That's very interesting. How did you know that?" I said, "Did you ever go to Jamaica, do some really good dope and have a fantastic party?" She said, "Oh my God, were you there?" I said, "No, unfortunately I wasn't there but I just read about it." And I said, "I'm not really sure you want to be telling the whole world that." She goes, "Oh my God."

Well, I think a lot of young people today have no idea that what they are putting on Facebook, those text messages, that stuff can all be saved for posterity and it can come back to kill you.

PETER: Marshall, I've spoken with so many recruiters who have told me just that: they have had applicants who were about to get hired and then the hiring manager went on to their Facebook or their MySpace page and saw something like what you were just describing and that was it, they didn't get the job.

MARSHALL: They didn't get it. I think very important, a lot of young people confuse honesty and disclosure, and I think it's fine to always be honest, it's not always fine to engage in unnecessary disclosure. And you know, one thing you see on the Internet, too much information. So I think real important that people of all ages understand that.

PETER: I have a question from one of my friends on Twitter for you. And Chandlee wants to know, why you only follow 12 people on Twitter?

MARSHALL: I didn't even know I was following 12! {laughing}

PETER: Well, Chandlee, there's your answer.

MARSHALL: It's news to me. On the other hand, my entire book has been converted to tweets.

PETER: I know.

MARSHALL: It is a tweet book.

PETER: Yeah, which I think is very cool and it's very clever, because your new website, which promotes the book has this whole thing where you can just go in and pull out these nice little bite-size tweets from the book every day.

MARSHALL: That's it. The whole book has been converted to tweets.

PETER: And if you go to, you can download iPhone or a Blackberry app for your phone and you can find these nice little bite-size tweets, and also all kinds of other good information. I have one last question for you, have you become to U2 fan?

MARSHALL: Well, you know, I am now. I didn't know, when I wrote this story about Bono, I had no idea who he was. As I said in the book, his records were recorded past 1975, which kind of put him out of my league but after I did have the chance to have that dinner with him, I do enjoy his music now, because I went back and started buying some of the CDs to see what they sounded like and you know, I like that story he impressed me as such a good guy and authentic guy in trying to help make the world better. You know, God bless him.

PETER: I really enjoyed that story too, because of the way he described himself as a rock star without it being self aggrandizing. It's just who he is and how he is leveraging who he is to do all of the good work that he is doing.

MARSHALL: I thought the guy was completely impressive and again, I wasn't a fan of his. I didn't even know who he was. I did learn something, though, when I had dinner with him. I don't know if I shared this with you. I sat next to him, and there were about 800 people in the room, and every time I looked up, I realized beautiful women seem to be staring at me. I never knew how handsome I must be.

PETER: Well, Marshall, it's been great to have an opportunity to catch up with you and congratulations on your new book Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It. Is there anything you would like to leave our audience with?

MARSHALL: Find out what leads to happiness and meaning for you. Challenge yourself to look on the inside and find out for yourself and spend as much of your life as you can doing that.

PETER: I think that's really excellent advice.

MARSHALL: Thank you very much.

This special Leadership podcast is brought to you by ExecuNet, a private membership network where you can connect to the people, insights and opportunities you've been looking for to achieve the success you deserve. To learn how ExecuNet can help you make the right connections for your career and business - and build your personal Mojo - visit

Begin experiencing the power of trusted connections. Apply for complimentary ExecuNet Associate Membership.

Mojo is the moment when we feel we're 'on a roll', firing on all cylinders, and everyone around us senses it. When we're moving forward, making progress, achieving goals, clearing hurdles, passing the competition-and doing so with increasing ease. Sports people call this being "in the zone;" others describe it as "flow." Marshall describes it as Mojo--"that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside."

Mojo plays a vital role in our pursuit of happiness and meaning because it is about achieving two simple goals: loving what we do and showing it. And it becomes apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from inside us and are evident for others to see. In other words, it is the moment when there's no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

Mojo is the moment when we do something that's purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it. This book is about that moment--and how we can create it in our lives, maintain it, and recapture it when we need it.

About the Author

Marshall Goldsmith is America's preeminent executive coach. He is among a select few consultants who have been asked to work with more than sixty CEOs. His clients have included many of the world's leading corporations. Goldsmith has helped to implement leadership development processes that have impacted more than one million people around the world. He has a Ph.D. from UCLA and is on the faculty of the executive education programs for Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan. The American Management Association recently named him as one of fifty great thinkers and business leaders of the past eighty years.

Listen and download this podcast at:

Copyright © TotalPicture Radio. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
TotalPicture Radio is a service of Total Picture Media.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by