Hello my friends, today my guest is Mark Thompson. He’s the world’s #1 CEO coach, a title that he inherited from Marshall Goldsmith, our friend and mentor. Mark is in the MG100 with me (the Marshall Goldsmith 100). He’s a leader inside that group, a member of 50 Thinkers.
He is also the coach to some of the top leaders in business including – Lyft’s CEO and cofounder Logan Green, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, the CEO of the World Bank Jim Kim, Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs. He went to high school with Steve Jobs and he was at Stanford with Jim Collins. One of only two people I’ve ever met who’s coached Tony Robbins. He talks about that in this interview
He’s one of these people that seems to know everybody. He’s been everywhere. Of course Mark is also a New York Times bestselling author. He has written Admired: 21 Ways to Double Your Value, that he coauthored with his wife Bonita Thompson.
00:04:08 – What’s life about?
00:05:13 – The bridge from passion to contribution
00:23:23 – One exercise Mark does with all C-Suite Executives
00:34:40 – What’s it like to coach Tony Robbins?
01:05:05 – Lightning round questions
01:11:16 – Mark Thompson’s travel hack
01:26:40 – What’s the most important thing on the path to publishing?
Bryan Miller: 00:00:00 A question asked, courageously answered honestly and lived authentically can change your whole life. For me, that question was, how can I use what I have, what I love and what I know to bless the lives of others? This school for good living and this podcast are one answer to that question. Hi, I’m Brian Miller. I know that the world can work for everyone, but that it won’t until it works for you. I’ve created this to help you make the difference you were born to make. It’s a series of conversations with thought leaders who are moving humanity forward and in each episode I explore their lives and the work they do. I also ask them to breakdown how they’ve gotten their books written, published, and read. This podcast is all about exploring the magic and mystery and sometimes the misery of the creative process. So if you have a mission, a message, and a motivation to share it, this podcast is for you.
Bryan Miller: 00:00:50 Welcome to the School for Good Living. Hello my friends, today my guest is Mark Thompson, the world’s number one CEO coach, a title that he inherited from Marshall Goldsmith, our friend and mentor. Mark is in the MG100 with me (the Marshall Goldsmith 100). He’s a leader inside that group, a member of thinkers, he is also the coach to some of the top leaders in business – including Lyft’s CEO and cofounder Logan Green, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, the CEO of the World BankJim Kim, Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs. He went to high school with Steve Jobs and he was at Stanford with Jim Collins. He’s one of these people that seems to know everybody. He’s been everywhere. One of only two people I’ve ever met who’s coached Tony Robbins. He talks about that. I asked him about that in this interview and of course Mark is a New York Times bestselling author. He has written Admired: 21 Ways to Double Your Value, that he coauthored with his wife Bonita Thompson.
Bryan Miller: 00:01:56 They’ve been together 40 years which is an accomplishment all on its own. Mark has also written Success Built To Last: Creating a Life That Matters, and if that’s not enough, he’s also a Broadway producer. His plays have earned 10 nominations for Tony Awards and won five.
Bryan Miller: 00:02:15 In this interview we talk about things that make life and work matter. We explore the topics of passion, purpose and contribution, how to find your passion, your purpose, and how to live it. I love a statement he makes, “We don’t take ourselves seriously enough when it comes to pursuing our joy.” We also talk about values and how the values conversation that many coaches and consultants do is crap, but why values and clarifying them are important and how to approach it in a way that’s actually useful. We also explore the fact that two out of three people in many surveys shows people are unhappy in their current work. We talk about why we give our power away and play the victim instead of shaping our life to be exactly how we want it to be.
Bryan Miller: 00:03:03 We also talk about the gap between intentions and impact. It’s an interesting view Mark has that’s very useful in all of our relationships, our intimate relationships, and our work relationships. At the end of the interview, as the creative part of the conversation comes online, he shares his advice about getting your ideas and your work to a larger audience. This interview has been one of my favorites. I’m so grateful that we finally made it happen. Thank you Mark, for sitting down with me and thank you for tuning into this. I think you’ll take away something you really enjoy, something that will help you be happier and more fulfilled. If you take Mark’s words to heart, it will help you truly live a life that matters.
Bryan Miller: 00:03:52 So with that, please enjoy and enjoy this conversation with Mark Thompson. Mark, welcome to The School for Good Living.
Mark Thompson: 00:04:01 Bryan, it’s such a pleasure to be with you and your family and in your gorgeous home and in your community. Thank you for having me along.
Bryan Miller: 00:04:08 It’s my pleasure. Okay, Mark, will you tell me please, what is life about?
Mark Thompson: 00:04:14 Life for me is about love to be loved, to give love, to find love, to spread love. For me, it’s a matter of trying to find that balance where we are able to find no distinction between giving and receiving love.
Bryan Miller: 00:04:33 Wow, that’s beautiful. Now when people ask who you are and what you do, how do you answer that?
Mark Thompson: 00:04:43 I find that since it’s about loving, I am an empath. I try to find the bridge between a person’s joy and contribution. Because if you can find that space that feeds you and allows you to contribute, there’s magic there. And so my purpose in life is to help people find that bridge.
Bryan Miller: 00:05:10 And how do you do that?
Mark Thompson: 00:05:13 The process of looking at your own life and joy is one that requires a level, I think of patience and engagement like never before that to pay attention to the thing that lights you up, the idea that obsesses you somehow, it’s something that you find your mind return to. Some of those are negative thoughts and some of those are amazingly constructive thoughts. What is it that really grabs your attention? What is it that makes you feel proud when you’re engaged in doing it? What is it that you’re doing that you lose all track of time. We did some research around passion. I think I’m talking about three different things. Passion, purpose and a sense of contribution. These three areas are what we find drive people to make a contribution and find their joy year after year after year and in passion. We found passion. Something that you lose track of time doing.
Mark Thompson: 00:06:21 Some people call it the flow. Mikael Chez Mohali, studied people who were involved in doing something in a deep way and whenever he disturbed them in the midst of that process, he’d ask them, “How long have you been working at it?” And they’d say, “I have no idea.” That’s the flow. People know what that feels like. I think when you’re in the flow, passion is also about doing something that you never see as so much a failure, as a learning. It’s the thing that you often want to do first. You have decision bias in favor of the things that you’re passionate about. You’d like to hang out with people that do your passion. There’s lots of measures I think to start to get closer to your joy, to pay attention to it. And there are many different processes you can go through to try to find that, that path.
Bryan Miller: 00:07:11 Yeah, that’s powerful. And as I hear that formula, I mean, it sounds so simple. In fact, some of these…
Mark Thompson: 00:07:17 Simple but not easy as the usual adage, isn’t it?
Bryan Miller: 00:07:20 And what are the things that I hear, you know, as a coach, and I know you’re one of the world’s top coaches, one of the world’s top CEO coaches, executive coaches, and recently again recognized as one of the Thinkers 50.
Mark Thompson: 00:07:35 Thank you.
Bryan Miller: 00:07:36 Congratulations on that.
Mark Thompson: 00:07:37 Appreciate it. It’s a privilege.
Bryan Miller: 00:07:38 One of the things that I hear, I don’t know if you heard this with the clients you work with, but I hear two things. One is I hear people say, I don’t know how to find my passion. I don’t know what it is. And you’ve just offered a few things that if we allow ourselves to say, well, what is it that I lose track of time doing? Or what is it that I choose first? I mean, those things sound so doable, like so easy, but I wonder if this is one of those things that it’s so easy people overlook it.
New Speaker: 00:08:04 Clearly. Well, I think we actually get talked out of it. My feeling about passion is that it’s usually bound and gagged and thrown in the basement because we’re afraid of it. We actually do know what we love. It just terrifies us and it terrifies us for many reasons. One of the reasons could be the fact that you need to make something of yourself young man, and this isn’t it. You know you’re not choosing the path that may be community or loved ones or people you admire and respect, tell you should follow. So that would be a very good reason to perhaps subdue, restrain or avoid your passion.
Mark Thompson: 00:08:43 There’s also reasons where you could be finding it in conflict with a system of beliefs that you were raised on or a culture you could be out of pace with the place that you are. Maybe little boys don’t dance in your neighborhood or they call you names. Would you be dancing? Maybe, but what kind of price are you willing to pay and what are the trade offs? There’s a chapter in my book, Success Built To Last, where we talk about you better get it, just give up on your passion before it takes you over or takes you out or or, or makes you really face what is going to give you joy for a long period of time. And I do that to be purposely controversial because we don’t realize. I was just with Venus Williams last week and she has a number of businesses that she started and she really believes in the empowerment of women. And she was talking about how, have you ever noticed, you’re usually the last person in the way before you do something you’re passionate about. And it may be that they’re just assumptions that are being made about what other might, what other people might believe. And I’ve, I talked to Marty Lindstrom in London last week. He’s one of the MG 100 and he’s also one of those who’s written New York Times bestselling books on marketing and brand positioning. He wrote a book called Buyology, and he’s talking about how you can engage people in finding their passion and then create a consumer community around that. Maybe you like in a particular topic area or product area. And long story short, he says, you know, when it really comes down to it, there’s only a handful of people who really are thinking and caring about what you do with your life. Find that tribe, find that group. Because everyone else is pretty much more involved in their own drama, even though they’re passing judgment on yours. They’re really not that interested. So take off the straight jacket, kick the jail door open and go for your passion.
Bryan Miller: 00:10:39 Oh, I love that. And there’s moments when that seems way more doable. Like it’s something that will work out, you know, than others. And so when I said there’s two things I hear with clients, one is like, “I don’t know how to find it.” The other sometimes is, “But I can’t make a living doing that.”
Mark Thompson: 00:11:00 That was the first point I was making about, you know, those who love you maybe legitimately are really worried about you surviving doing that stuff.
Bryan Miller: 00:11:06 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, just before we started recording, we were talking about your life story. You know the path that you followed, including being, you didn’t say very talented, but I took it that away about being a successful musician and how, although that wasn’t necessarily the path you followed, it was a thread that has followed you in your life. And and I wonder, with that as something as a lived experience where, I don’t know if you saw that as your passion necessarily, but will you just talk a little bit about your experience with music and whether or not that was a passion and and what that is like. What was that like for you following, you know that?
Mark Thompson: 00:11:51 Well, coming from a family where we struggled financially where we had… I had a brother who had a brain injury at birth that left him mentally retarded. My mom was one of the last people to have polio in Silicon Valley when it was virtually wiped out, but that put her in a wheelchair. I had a severe eyesight issue which made it very difficult for me to develop my motor skills or even read when I was in middle school. So a lot of drama and trauma around my house and pursuing your passions when you’re trying to make a living or keep a roof over your head, is even magnified further, to really drive a sense of fear that if I’m just going to do stuff for fun, then how are we going to pay the bills? It can sound so selfish. It can sound completely selfish. And one of the things we’ve found, and one of the journeys that I decided to go on was a very Napoleon hill sort of journey.
Mark Thompson: 00:12:47 I made it my business in life to go meet some of the highest achieving people in the world. People though who had been successful for at least 20 years or more, two decades. In other words, a minimum, no one hit wonders, but people would have been contributing to their field of profession. It might be out of the spotlight of people. It might be a service worker, it could be a self made billionaire. I met with presidents of countries. I met the Dalai Lama and I met Nelson Mandela before he died. And they’ll say, no self made billionaires. I met with people who were educators, who are in government, people who’d had an impact for a long period of time. And then we did a global study on success. How did they define success? And one of the big surprises in that journey was to hear that they define success three ways. That I opened this conversation around having a sense of purpose larger than yourself, having a sense of achievement or performance.
Mark Thompson: 00:13:42 In other words, it’s great to have a purpose, but it’s really important spiritually and in terms of your cognitive acceptance of challenges to make progress, to feel like you’re making progress is very satisfying. And then the third area is passion, which is really just about you. It is selfish, it is about you. And the problem is we don’t take the passion, we don’t take ourselves seriously enough when it comes to pursuing our joy. And that’s not something we are generally taught to do or feel safe about is the point that you’re making. And yet greatness and high performance for long periods of time aren’t possible unless we are connected to those three areas that we feel like we’re part of something bigger than us, that’s maybe contributing to the world, could be a company or a cause and then making progress towards that goal and it’s not. And it needs to be something that gives you some intrinsic joy that gets you up in the morning that makes you feel resilient to setbacks.
Mark Thompson: 00:14:42 That does a real number on your judgment in terms of all those attributes of following your passions, making decisions about it. Those three things together are this virtuous triad that engage high-performing people in doing their work of their lifetime. It’s the difference between good and great. I was at Stanford with Jim Collins who wrote a book called, Good To Great And Built To Last, and then I wrote the sequel, Success Built To Last with Jerry Porras with Jim’s blessing. And this idea of going from good to great really requires that you take this extra time to trust yourself, to trust this passion. And what we found is that people don’t just have one passion. So if you’re in an exploratory method of some sort, as you’re saying, Bryan, you help people who often say, “I don’t. If I could just figure out what my passion is, maybe I could go after that. And could I really make a living doing that?”
Mark Thompson: 00:15:36 Well, they haven’t taken it seriously enough yet. There is a portfolio of passions that high achievers have. There isn’t just one thing. So giving yourself permission to engage in more than one passion. Let’s say you like doing Rodeo. Let’s say you like to do, you know, horseback riding. Let’s say that you also like driving trucks. It’s important to experiment with each of those things, like doing a podcast like you’re doing here. What we found is that there’s one thing that you’ll tend to obsess over more than the others but that all of those things are necessary to refuel.
Bryan Miller: 00:16:11 Yeah, I can totally see that. And I remember when I first learned of this term, over care. You know often something that people, especially in the healing fields deal with, you know, people that they burn out because they’re so busy caring for others. Or I’ve seen this in my work with mothers, you know, quite honestly who are managing the household and taking care of their husband and raising the kids and giving, giving, giving, giving to everyone, but not necessarily nourishing themselves. And many of them in my experience, the people that I’ve worked with, that they end up bitter. You know, because they’d been so externally focused on giving. And I think exactly what you’re saying, if they were allowing themselves to fall, and I know I can hear people, I can hear people maybe with the critical ear listening to this, you know, but this point of it is necessary to I think, to nourish ourselves because you can’t give from an empty tank.
Mark Thompson: 00:17:07 Yes. This is something that’s intrinsic to those who have the ability to run the marathon. And it’s, it is about you as it is as much about what other people need from you. And I think we find when we did our research on those three principles of purpose, passion, and performance, when we did a survey of highly successful people who came out of the Wharton School globally, because we get a large list of these people and we ask them about what it really meant to be successful and did they really have time for this passion stuff because everybody talks about it and really was, how did that really factor in? Well, I’ll give you an example for myself. I, if I have a creative problem that I want to solve, if I want to, for example work on a book that you talked about, how some people have that ambition to write or write a book. Very hard to do that.
Mark Thompson: 00:18:05 Some of the steps I take to engage in my passions, so that I am not having a direct impact on my conscious mind, which is often filled with doubt. Right? Why can’t… oh it’s not fresh. Or other people have tried it, or so far people don’t dig this. What should I do? And I’ll, I’ll give myself a creative problem and then I’ll go for a run or I’ll engage in some physical exercise or a game of some sorts, so I’m not directly thinking about it. In fact, I try to put it out of my mind, but I’ve introduced that concept, that problem set and when I come back, I cannot think of a time where I didn’t have some insight. After going into the flow experience and leaving the rational mind behind the subconscious mind, it’s still going to be working in favor of you, working on that issue and can start to contribute some of those insights. And then when the insights come, don’t let the rational mind talk you out of them.
Mark Thompson: 00:19:08 Start writing down some of those ideas, that flow. Maybe that comes up in the middle of the night. When you come out of a dream, write down the idea. What I find is that you can start to write down a stream of ideas that can add up into blogs. And then blogs can be socialized through social media so that you can share those with people, get feedback. They could say, “Those two ideas are great. This third one I don’t get.” And you can start to curate that idea over time. So what I’m saying is that we can’t always trust our rational mind because it’s been trained like our parents have and others, to kind of look out for us and follow a traditional path. When we’re trying to be creative, we try to break some new ground.
Bryan Miller: 00:19:51 And then meanwhile, that I, I’m convinced that rational mind means well.
Mark Thompson: 00:19:56 Yea, it’s not malice and it’s often not malice from other people either. It’s that they are able to see the world through their lens. But we don’t really have a lot of training helping others see through their special lens. Each of us has a story to tell. Then you need to make yourself feel safe enough to start to tell that story and share it and pay that gift forward.
Bryan Miller: 00:20:18 Yeah. So you mentioned this about purpose and this is a topic that I’m really fascinated by. First of all, because for many years I lived believing life had no purpose, that I had no purpose. And you know, I’ve since learned there’s a pretty dramatic difference between nothingness. Like in a nihilistic kind of way, like an abyss and emptiness as in possibility, you know, maybe an openness and space. And so there’s any way, I’m not sure that comes to mind except to say, to live without a purpose is, you know, as I’ve seen in my own life and lives of people I’ve worked with can be very painful. You know, it’s a different experience, but at the same time I think many people don’t know how to find their purpose. So what’s your, what’s your take on purpose and what’s the relationship, if there is one, between passion and purpose.
Mark Thompson: 00:21:09 There’s a definite relationship between passion, purpose, and a sense of outcomes or achievement. We found those, that was really the triad. That was the perfect mix and part of the problem we have finding a purpose, is the same problems that I described with passion, which is we often get talked out of them or others impose them on us. So we’re not ever really able to test whether we believe, whether that is something that will guide our actions, which will guide our behaviors. They’re in neurobiology and in the study of the mind, that we have a brain center at Stanford now. It’s just starting to really unpack the incredible differences between, it’s not exactly the left and right hemisphere that you hear, but there are different regions of the brain and there is a different region for the brain that speaks and expresses language and that part of the brain is not the one that makes decisions. That’s not the one that guides your actual behaviors.
Mark Thompson: 00:22:10 So one of the challenges we find that when you ask someone, let’s say about purpose, and you would start maybe with an exercise of saying, “Write down your values.” The part of the brain that’s answering the question as truthfully as it possibly can, is not accessing everything that’s guided your decisions around your behaviors.
Bryan Miller: 00:22:31 I know, I love this conversation because I hate just a values exercise.
Mark Thompson: 00:22:37 Oh, me too. It’s like that’s what you want to read at a eulogy after I’m dead. You can put down all the values that Mark had. Otherwise it’s, you’re just trying to impress the next dead person.
Bryan Miller: 00:22:49 Yeah. Well, and this whole thing, I’ll try not to go too far off on this tangent, but you know when consultants come in with these cards and there’s like values in this, it’s ignoring this whole thing about, first of all, that we all map different meanings to different words anyway. Yeah. Anyway, so even if we had the same values, that’s right.
Mark Thompson: 00:23:04 The same list could be the same and mean totally different things. Absolutely.
Bryan Miller: 00:23:09 Whatever we think it is isn’t necessarily what it is because there’s a different part of us that actually makes decisions or we have these unconscious bias. It’s remarkable. So, so keep going with this and how it relates to purpose, and passion and that.
Mark Thompson: 00:23:23 One exercise I do with all my C-suite Executives who are highly ambitious people. I’m not saying this is normal. These are people who are usually very high impact, very ambitious. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have plenty of their own baggage and that they don’t have their own dark, very dark places. As creative people often do, extremely depressed or ambitious, very manic depressive sometimes, in every part of the universe in terms of the personalities. But the exercise I take them through is to explore the proudest moments they’ve had and start to unpack without asking about values. What was it about those moments that were so enriching?
Bryan Miller: 00:24:12 And when you do this, do you go all the way back to childhood?
Mark Thompson: 00:24:14 Yes, very beginning. I’m not asking you about your five favorite career moves. I’m asking you about what would be, that those 5 or 10 experiences that you were proud of and why. And then we unpack what might be some of the attributes of those experiences and your definition of why not mine. I’m not judging any of this. I’m not going to grade this. I’m having you then go back and score the power and contribution of each of those events in your life. And I’ll find that there’s usually 5, 10 15, 20 attributes of each of those engagements. And then there’s a map between the different proud moments. You’ll start to see a pattern. I guarantee you it won’t be the list of values that you wrote down. Some may overlap, many won’t. Then I do the same exercise with the darkest moments of your life and why it is that they were as as difficult and how low they would go with those. And I find something, and this is very hard to just describe without the visuals, but if you think about one of the worst things that happened to you for a moment, almost like you’re a clinician, that it wasn’t about you. You’re looking at this, this point in your life that that was dark and you think about why it hurts so much. You’ll start to describe in words the inverse of some of your actual values, because what we find is that the pride and joy and the life that you have and the darkest moments are almost like ballast. It’s like drowning underwater. It’s your joy being sucked underneath the surface of the earth and your values are being valued, violated in that way.
Bryan Miller: 00:26:12 This makes sense to me knowing we live in a universe of duality, right?
Mark Thompson: 00:26:16 Exactly. So if you were to flip the worst moment to it’s inverse, it might be some of the highest highs. And so the process that I go through is trying to unpack without asking the part of the brain that uses language, but the part of the brain that’s remembering narrative identity. There’s a lot of research around neurotology. And one of the reasons storytelling is so primal is because it also is attached to our identity. So if we can look at the stories that describe our best and worst times, then you’re going to get a clear picture of who you are and what your purpose is. You’ve been living your purpose unintentionally.
Bryan Miller: 00:27:02 Interesting. See, that’s super interesting because when I hear that, I love the elegance of it and the, the way that, here’s a process that if we approach it like you’re suggesting like as a clinician, you know, with some objectivity and some distance from our experience and things like this, that we can perhaps gain a deep insight about ourselves. And at the same time, there’s a little bit of me that goes, well, is that really just us kind of matching? We’re mismatching against whatever conditioning we have, you know, and then calling it our purpose instead of, but I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud as I hear it. You know?
Mark Thompson: 00:27:42 Well, actually what this does is sneak up on your conditioning because then we’re going to ask you why was that your proudest or darkest moment? And when you unpack that, I’ve had people who are convinced they could game it, game the system, because that’s where your conditioning comes in. I don’t want to be either vulnerable. I don’t want to go against stated values that might be acceptable in my family, my community, my tribe, my spouse, my partner. So there’s, there’s no way to escape conditioning, which is why asking a list of values is pointless cause your conditioning and your lack of capacity to describe all your values with that part of your brain is it makes a very low probability that you’re going to find your actual values. But your behaviors had been a reflection of those values for a very long time.
Bryan Miller: 00:28:36 Yeah. That and for anybody who’s listening to this now, especially if you’re in this field of coaching or even say mentoring, advising, working with others in a capacity that you’re helping them understand themselves more deeply or expand their awareness. This, if you haven’t already stumbled upon this insight, I hope that this is really opening up something for you to really serve others, to help them see the truth of what they believe and what they desire, or even what they feel is reflected in their behaviors.
Mark Thompson: 00:29:07 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 00:29:09 That’s such a massive thing and if we want to get past whatever looking good or getting by, you know, that really being honest about that writing excepted. So that’s huge. Okay. So that’s, I like that. That’s pretty, that like I said, it’s pretty straight forward to start to come at our purpose by looking at our proudest moments, our behaviors.
Mark Thompson: 00:29:30 That has led up to the life that we have been leading and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. That is an adage that ends up being true. I hate to admit that. Yes, habits die hard. And they usually come from a place and it could be conditioning, but you’re not trapped in that. If you can unpack the why behind what’s driving those and where your joy really is lacking or lurking, and whether you or others have been actively trying to suppress it because of fear. That still might be the decision that could come with, but then it would be a choice. There’s another dimension of this, I think that comes around playing the victim.
Bryan Miller: 00:30:15 Say more about that.
Mark Thompson: 00:30:16 So I don’t know about you, but I’m much more comfortable being a victim because then I give my power away.
Bryan Miller: 00:30:21 Yeah. And it’s always easier to blame someone else.
Mark Thompson: 00:30:24 Yes, and so as long as it’s your fault and you have to change and I don’t, it takes work. To do what we’re describing here. That’s why that’s the simple but not easy part. Is a diet that difficult to understand? No, but almost impossible for most of us to follow because it’s, it means that we have to activate our disbelief that choice matters and choice does matter. So being a victim is where we often are falling, when we are not able to pursue something that we’re happy about. I can’t make money at that. I can’t contribute this way. All of the people who’ve had the highest impact did not ultimately think about how to get paid for what they do in money until they also felt about what they needed to do to have impact.
Mark Thompson: 00:31:17 And then they made money at it. And I see a metaphor for this. I come from Silicon Valley. It’s a classic place where a sense of purpose and contribution comes prior to business model. It happens all the time. I helped incubate, you know, many companies that didn’t have a business model.
Bryan Miller: 00:31:35 I mean, that was Pinterest, right?
Mark Thompson: 00:31:37 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 00:31:37 You advise the founders of Pinterest, and I remember when I learned that they had at the time an $11 billion valuation and had never generated a dollar of revenue. And in fact, if I understood it right, didn’t even have a revenue model at that time. That’s correct. And I’m like, that is nuts.
Mark Thompson: 00:31:52 Yes. Well, they were just nuts enough to be following their passion and they had a sense of purpose. The difference that they had, and I don’t take any credit for their discovery of what a business model would be, or for the nature of the incredible work they did. I mean, one of the great things about the privilege of being a coach and being able to take part of the journey with Ben and Evan, was that I love watching people play on the court, or on the field at a level. I’d never possibly could, but if I could enable that or unlock that passion and purpose at scale, that’s what I’m all about. Much better coach than I am a player. And I think that’s typical of many coaches, and teachers, and advisors, and knowing that that is actually a valid place to be in the ecosystem. Otherwise I’d have to accept the fact that I am a slacker compared to everybody I coach, which is definitely true. And you take something like Pinterest, this is a whole organization of pages that are driven by what? Joy. And not showing off, not being like maybe other social media platforms that might be more focused on presenting you in a, in a way that makes you look as most attractive or all the rest.
Mark Thompson: 00:33:12 This is about going down the well of passion and joy for its own sake. And that is extraordinary. As a turns out, that’s also great advertising model because if people grab photos from the world that they love, and they put it on their site, I think you don’t have to get creepy in understanding what they love. Do you? I know what you love because you just put it there. Now I can sell advertising against that. That’s a really legitimate, straight forward way to create a business model out of joy and it’s worth more than $11 billion now. It went public this year.
Bryan Miller: 00:33:47 Yeah, that’s amazing. Well then, and your comment too about, you know, people who follow their passion and, you know, they’re aligned with their purpose making, making a major contribution without ever, or at least initially giving thought to, how do I monetize this? How do I earn profit doing this kind of thing.
Mark Thompson: 00:34:08 It’s really more about the value that you create or the impact that you’re having. You do need to worry about that. That’s the purpose police. That’s about having an impact greater than yourself, not just following it, but actually intentionally developing the skills, capacity, discipline and structure so that you can make a difference in the lives of other people. And then they will pay you for that. But it should be doing something you love so that you actually get great at it. Not mediocre, not just good enough to make a paycheck, but good enough to make a real difference.
Bryan Miller: 00:34:40 Yeah. Well somebody that comes up when you talk in that way, that I think is an extraordinary example of this is Tony Robbins. And Mark, you’re one of only two people that I’ve met who I know, that in your professional bio you list that you have coached Tony Robbins.
Mark Thompson: 00:34:58 Yeah. Right. He’s the ultimate coach and he’s coached me a lot more. I feel privileged.
Bryan Miller: 00:35:05 The law of reciprocity. In effect in the universe. But will you, will you talk just a little bit about what that was like?
Mark Thompson: 00:35:14 Well Tony Robbins ends up being a person who’s got a gift beyond imagination in terms of the contribution he’s made on people’s lives, the impact that he’s had on transforming his own life. Into something that’s given him meaning. And uh, he and Sage invited me down to Namale, where they have in Fiji during the financial crisis. And they were going through the whirlwind that the world was experiencing at that time. And really thinking about their empire, and their portfolio of products and services, and impact and their next act. And I met him at an event that I was speaking at and he invited me to make the trip there that weekend, says, “Do you happen to be available?”
Mark Thompson: 00:36:06 I forget where we were. We’re in New York or Los Angeles when I was giving a presentation at some business excellence seminar that was being run, by he and Chet Holmes. And, uh, he called me in back and he says, “You know, I’m thinking about these things. Uh, let’s talk about some of the people that you know and some of the business models that you’ve experienced and let’s compare some notes.” So we spent an amazing week together down there, unpacking his amazing life and fell in love with Sage, his his lady. And, uh, we, and my daughter and wife had the experience of being able to learn from him what he would do, to transform his world that at a moment, which was dark for so many parts of the world. And he’s done so well since then.
Bryan Miller: 00:36:54 Yeah he has, absolutely, and I haven’t known him personally, but I’ve been around him. A couple of years ago my wife and I joined his platinum partnership.
Mark Thompson: 00:37:02 Yes, so you’ve taken trips together many, many places around the world.
Bryan Miller: 00:37:07 I feel very, very fortunate for that. But one thing that I’ve loved to watch, you know, as I look back at his progression is, when I came home from Date With Destiny and read Awaken The Giant Within, and I saw that that book was written almost 25 years prior, but the 1-800 number in the back of the book still worked. He’s been so on.
Mark Thompson: 00:37:27 So focused. Yeah.
Bryan Miller: 00:37:28 This whole time that it’s been, it’s been amazing.
Mark Thompson: 00:37:30 You don’t have to have to guess what profession he was in for a very long time.
Bryan Miller: 00:37:34 Yeah it’s pretty cool. Well, and you just mentioned your wife, Juanita, and you’ve written a book together.
Mark Thompson: 00:37:41 Yes, we have.
Bryan Miller: 00:37:42 Right. You wrote, Admired, and this book, 21 Ways To Double Your Value.
Mark Thompson: 00:37:47 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 00:37:47 Will you tell me, why did you write this book? Let me ask the question this way. Who did you write the book for? And what did you want it to do for them?
Bryan Miller: 00:37:58 I spoke a little earlier about the work that we did with Success Built To Last and Built To Last was a book that was written at Stanford by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins, at a time when there was a hope and belief that you could find a set of operating principles for a business that would be built to last. And so they use that as a meme and it was about what would you do in terms of organizational structure? How would you build that business, run that business, who would it be for? And so I was attracted to the idea of how to take those principles that a business would operate and personalize them. So what would be the built to last principles for you as an individual, as a person who’s developing a career or a life. How could you be built to last? And we did a global study of the most successful, high impact, high achievers for those who are high impact for at least 20 years or more. And we found that the secret of creating a life that matters, that Success Built To Last, was a process of creating a life that matters to you, uniquely for you. So that global research we did on success led itself to another question that people would ask us, just like they asked Jerry and Jim about Built To Last. What could you do in a company, that you could do for yourself, that would make you build to last? Now, what could you do to create a leadership team that would be able to energize and engage people? Because all of the research, Gallup or otherwise says that two out of three people are unhappy in their work or jobs.
Mark Thompson: 00:39:32 We all feel that, right?
Bryan Miller: 00:39:33 It’s amazing.
Mark Thompson: 00:39:34 It’s a terrifying majority of people who, who actually are gainfully employed, who are depressed, unhappy, disengaged. And there’s a proportion of every employee population who’s actually actively working against the system, or against the company, or against each other. And those people spending maybe the majority of their day complaining about others playing the victim, and being unhappy in that way. So we had an interesting insight about that, after having studied only the people who are the most successful in the world, ooking at these high achievers. Then we were interested in saying, okay, a lot of research has been done to find out that two out of three people are happy in the office. What about that third that is engaged? What did they look for in a leader? Who would they follow? Because isn’t that who we want to attract to our organizations, to our communities, to any company that we’re building.
Mark Thompson: 00:40:35 We want to attract people who are engaged, inspired, and happy at their work. Who do they want to follow? So we did a study, one of the first studies on who you admire as a leader. So we reversed engineered Gallup’s Most Admired People list and Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list, and see if we could find what would be the principles. We found 21 ways to increase your value in your job and your career. Wouldn’t you like to be more valued, admired, and respected for what you do? Who doesn’t? I remember at our conference that I held at Stanford, I asked the folks at 2000 people in the audience and I said, is anyone here ever feel overvalued? Have you ever felt overvalued? I don’t care who you are, you probably have never felt overvalued. In fact, the only person that ever raised his hand about being overvalued was Marshall Goldsmith.
Mark Thompson: 00:41:22 He said, “I’ve been overvalued!” And I said, good for you. You’re the rare minority of people. So I, Bonita and I as partners, as life partners and career partners, Bonita spent 30 years in corporate human resources. She’s been a disruptor and innovator herself. She’s always worked in organizations that were inventing a new industry. She was one of the few first people to start the biotechnology company, Genentech. Hired the first 200 people there, so she was an entrepreneur before I was. She helped reinvent Bank of America when it was going through a transformation. She helped build a Levi Strauss and the first human resources intranet, the first computer system to support the people there. So she’s been a serial entrepreneur, intrepreneur as we call it, within organizations in HR. And so to be married to this person who’s expert on human resources, behavioral psychology, and was a computer science major and got her degree in business at the Haas School of business, she studied under Federal Reserve chairman, Janet Yellen before she was Federal Reserve chairman.
Mark Thompson: 00:42:20 So I’ve got this technical research partner who is a behavioral psychologist. I’m an entrepreneur and a business builder. And we thought what better way could we represent the most admired teams, than to be one? So as life partners and as business partners, Bonita Thompson and I decided that we’d write a book called Admired: 21 Ways To Double Your Value. And so we get as many questions about how the heck could you work with your spouse on a book, and still be married.
Bryan Miller: 00:42:49 I was about to go there and by the way.
Mark Thompson: 00:42:51 Well you should. I’m happy totally to go there. And we’ve done many speeches together as partners because, if there’s one thing that’s necessary in every career, and every team, and every organization, is, it’s about the team. And so you don’t see teams on stage talking about that. You don’t see partners even talking about that very often. So my wife and I are, you know, we’ve been together 40 years. And we’ve had many, many experiences and we’ve built organizations separately and together. And so it’s part of our mission now in this phase of our life to help pay that forward as partners.
Bryan Miller: 00:43:29 That’s so awesome. I’ve barely been alive 40 years.
Mark Thompson: 00:43:32 I know. It’s embarrassing to use that.
Bryan Miller: 00:43:35 It’s amazing. Like it’s so impressive. So this is one of my questions for the enlightening lightning round, but I’m going to go ahead and ask you here. So relationships are hard.
Mark Thompson: 00:43:43 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 00:43:44 What has made at, and forgive me if this is too personal, but…
Mark Thompson: 00:43:48 Nothing is too personal.
Bryan Miller: 00:43:49 What has made yours work?
Mark Thompson: 00:43:52 Fair fight. So one of the things I think people spend more time and energy doing, and this is true for personal relationship as it is in business, frankly. Is how much time do we spend proving that we’re right, for its own sake?
Bryan Miller: 00:44:08 I don’t like to admit that.
Mark Thompson: 00:44:10 Don’t you prefer to be right than do the right thing?
Bryan Miller: 00:44:13 Often.
Mark Thompson: 00:44:14 That’s the truth. We spend a lot of energy in the office, in the community. Part of it’s driven by the best of intentions because we think we’re thoughtful people. We think that we’re loving people. We think that we have the right intentions, but one of the things we found in, in years of doing research around this is, there’s a huge gap in humanity between your intentions and the impact that you have in others. So here’s the double standard in all relationships, business and personal. We judge ourselves based on our intentions. I didn’t intend to hurt your feelings. I didn’t intend to do that badly. I intended to do the right thing. I didn’t intend to do anything wrong or make you feel badly. The outcome and the impact is different from my intentions. The way it landed, by the time it hit your side of the table, is very different and you’re going to judge yourself by intentions, but you’re going to judge me by my impact. And there is a fundamental, as a coach, if there’s one thing I spend the majority of my time working on in organizations, and I suppose it’d be true if I was a marriage and family therapist.
Mark Thompson: 00:45:25 It’s come up more than once, as you can imagine, having had a longterm marriage and been successful in helping some of the greatest long lasting unicorns in history. It’s been a privilege of mine is to understand the difference between intentions, your intentions, and the actual impact of your words and outcomes. So if you really are playing to win, if you really are planning to have impacts, outcomes, effectiveness that you’d like to have, if you’d like to really be heard, then you need to think about the difference between what you intended and how it landed on other people. And what the impacts were because that’s our double standard. We always judge others on impact and we judge ourselves by intention.
Bryan Miller: 00:46:08 That’s, that’s huge. And I’ve never thought of it that way. But now that you’re saying it, I can see that in some of the misunderstandings or disagreements in my own marriage that I will hear back from my wife the impact of some of my behavior and then I’m explaining away…
Mark Thompson: 00:46:27 That’s not what I intened, honey.
Bryan Miller: 00:46:28 Exactly.
Mark Thompson: 00:46:28 Well, no, I actually, I get that you didn’t intend that at all, but that’s how it landed.
Bryan Miller: 00:46:34 Yeah. That’s interesting. Well, thank you for sharing that.
Mark Thompson: 00:46:37 Of course.
Bryan Miller: 00:46:38 That distinction. That’s, I think that’s very useful. Let me ask another question about Admired. So you, you did this research, you found this 21 ways to double your value. What surprised you?
Mark Thompson: 00:46:49 Well the nature of the exploration ended up coming down to this, and the first step is to understand the difference between intentions and impacts. But here’s another way to impact, or to really express that. I think that might be easier to think about. And that is, how much do you feel valued by your organization, your company, your club, your tribe. And if you were to assign a number to that, you know, what number would that be on a scale of zero to 10? Well, we ask people that question all over the country and people…
Bryan Miller: 00:47:30 And by the way, just to understand when you ask this, is it anonymous?
Mark Thompson: 00:47:34 Yes. Completely anonymous, We did an anonymous survey. We didn’t ask about who you were addressing. We talked, we did a Gallup like poll of a thousand people. And we said, so give that a ranking. And people would say, you know, how valued do you feel by your organization and people give that maybe a four. Um, and then we ask them how valued do you feel by your spouse? And maybe a five. Uh, and then what about your very best friends and family? Maybe as high as a six on a scale of 10. So that’s interesting. Okay. So you don’t feel like exactly overvalued, but, you wish it was higher than that.
Mark Thompson: 00:48:15 Okay, let me reverse that for a moment. How much do you know about the values of the people who you’d like to be valued by? How much do you really know about your boss’s values? When people were giving that a three. They don’t know very much about it at all. How much do you really know about the values of your friends and family? It’s a lower number in all cases. So there’s this basic principle you mentioned earlier about reciprocity. How can you expect to be highly valued by people whose values you’ve never taken any time to understand? I expect to be hugely… Your happiness in your job is directly correlated to your relationship with your boss. How well do you know how your boss is being judged to be successful in her job?
Bryan Miller: 00:49:05 Most people, and myself included, it’s not all that well.
Mark Thompson: 00:49:09 How well do you know that? So if you knew how your boss was being judged, your spouse is being judged, your kids are being judged, and you could help enable that. Do you think they value you more?
Bryan Miller: 00:49:20 Oh a hundred percent.
Mark Thompson: 00:49:21 So this is really the core, the core principle that we learned in this work about being admired. Because if you could find out what it is that others value, they’ll value you more for valuing them. It’s the reciprocity principle in humanity is enormous. And so if you want better relationships, make it your business to understand how you can make the people who you value most more successful. You get success by giving it to others.
Bryan Miller: 00:49:52 That makes sense.
Mark Thompson: 00:49:54 Success is generated only when you find ways to make others successful.
Bryan Miller: 00:50:01 Yeah. And what’s interesting to me in this is I think, and you can share with me your view, but I think you could substitute the word love for success in that sentence and it would still be true.
Mark Thompson: 00:50:13 Absolutely. Which is where I started. My job is to help you discover what you love, who you love, and how to love them, and why. And so absolutely true that this is why, and this is what separates from being the victim. Because if you realize that becoming successful by generating success for others, they will reward you with success. Now, you’re going to think of a hundred times when people didn’t reciprocate and when they were mean to you anyway, or they bullied you anyway. That is actually beside the point. When you ultimately are successful, it is because you made other people successful.
Bryan Miller: 00:50:53 Yeah. You know, just to go back to Tony Robbins for a minute. I listened to a recording he did once of his version of the success principles, you know? And when people asked him to give the soundbite answer to the one most important thing that will help you be successful, that was exactly what he said about helping others be successful. Like THE bottom line. ONE thing you could do, to achieve success is, help others be successful. And I’d heard that, but you know, I didn’t really believe it, but here it’s coming up again.
Mark Thompson: 00:51:22 Generate value for them. So that’s when you really make it your business to understand what somebody values by watching their behavior, by listening to them, by interviewing them, by seeing what it would be. That would be a game changer in making them successful. I just was doing an interview on Linkedin at the headquarters and at the Empire Sate Building and they have a studio where they do coaching on career. And they said, you know, what do you do when you’re in that interview, and and how do you have a good impact, and how do you make sure you optimize your salary? And I said, remember the interview is not about you.
Mark Thompson: 00:51:59 It is NOT about you. They have a problem they need to solve. They need a person to solve that problem. Do you understand what the problem is and can you help them solve it? And then they’ll recruit you to the cause. This interview isn’t about you, it’s about them. And it’s a whole new way of thinking about generating value and success that comes from being so focused on what other people need that they’ll pay you to help deliver it.
Bryan Miller: 00:52:25 I mean that that one thing too right there, I mean that’s a gem. I think in this conversation that we’re having now that again, if listeners really took that away, where if you are finding yourself in the role of looking for employment, or joining a team, really understanding that, that view that these people have something they’re trying to accomplish, they have an obstacle they’re looking to overcome, and if you’re just going in like, what’s in it for me? You know, you’re probably not going to be received very well. And that, that whole thing, I mean on the basic, that’s why maybe I shouldn’t, one of my first questions in an employment interview is what do you know about this company.
Mark Thompson: 00:53:04 Exactly!
Bryan Miller: 00:53:05 Right? Because already you start to get a sense of, is this a person that’s me-centric or are they…
Mark Thompson: 00:53:10 Engaged? Do they care?
Bryan Miller: 00:53:12 Do they even begin to understand what we’re about and what we’re trying to do?
Mark Thompson: 00:53:15 Absolutely. And I think both, and you’re pointing it out as an interviewer, that ends up being a common mistake with the interviewers as well. The best way to interview people is to find out how engaged they are, how much they know about the company. Then engage in what we call behavioral interviewing, which would be to say, “So under these, have you ever had a scenario in which this was experienced and you had a setback or a failure? And what did you do when you made that mistake and had to express that failure? Take me through that experience.” And then listening to them talk about how they face that crucible, took the heat, made it right, tells you an awful lot about them, in ways that might not be as well packaged as they came very well-rehearsed. Everybody comes in on their best behavior. Or try to be.
Bryan Miller: 00:54:06 Yeah. No, that’s great. Well, and talking about,, leadership, knowing you work with some of the most successful leaders in the world, what do you see is the biggest area of opportunity for leaders to improve their effectiveness as leaders? I mean, I know that’s a general question, but you’ve worked with many people for many years. I’m wondering if there’s, you maybe one or two things that you see that just seems to be like, if somebody did this or somebody stopped doing this, they’d be more likely to get to the next level as a leader.
Mark Thompson: 00:54:43 I think it’s true for the most successful people and those who might be running something where you might say, you know, I just want to start my first business and I have a micro business or I want to serve customers for the first time. The very same principle, whether you’re running a multibillion dollar company or you are starting that first paper route and it is this, nobody does anything worthwhile alone. It’s again, not about you entirely. It’s about who you can recruit to that dream to help partner with you and support you. Every great long-lasting organization starts with one person who can infect another person enough with that vision, can find the complimentary skills, which are often different, and build that dream together. And it can be a trio and it might then grow from there. Finding that person often will have marketing and sales skills, isn’t always the person who can do the accounting, or the legal, or the regulatory stuff. There is often great partnerships. Most small businesses are run by partners. Sometimes they’re married, sometimes not, often are complimenting each other’s skills and realizing that you can’t do it all.
Mark Thompson: 00:56:04 Charles Schwab is a famous dyslexic who was almost cooked at it, kicked out of Stanford twice because he couldn’t do the bonehead English. Genius at math. Pretty darn good at marketing, great entrepreneur, big heart and soul. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business was probably the first to scale a major, multibillion dollar business. Not because he was the person who we, he would ever consider to be the smartest in the room, but he could recruit like hell. He could find other people who are likeminded peers, who are experts in all the different areas to build that organization. And he would use all the principles in my book, Admired. He admired others for those values. So that’s the next in the progression, so you’ve found out the values of that other person. It’s not just about you getting promoted, but if you want to build a business, you want to find people you admire in all the different expert areas of that business, that compliment your skills and then eventually replace yourself. So my, my adage always says, you can’t scale an organization any faster than you could scale yourself. You have to find other people who are better, stronger, faster, impassioned at that.
Mark Thompson: 00:57:14 And so building organizations are just building your career will often come down both to your quality of life and your success in that business, to the quality of people that you can attract, who can own it as much as you do. And attract them to that, to that journey.
Bryan Miller: 00:57:30 I can totally see that and that goes all the way back to the thing. Pretty much we started with about this purpose, passion. Remind me how you phrased it, but the thing about giving to others, serving others.
Mark Thompson: 00:57:43 Yes. This idea that you want to find a way to contribute to others through your purpose, and then deliver on that. That’s performance. The three P’s . Being able to make good on that promise and then passions because you are doing something that you would intrinsically do even if it weren’t to be successful. It would be something you’re attracted to doing. And that’s usually what you find in your pat partners. When we did the research on purpose, passion, and performance, the definition of success, we found that you will tend to index towards one of those areas more than the other two. That with some people tend to be a bit more passion-driven than purpose and performance driven other people. In other words, this might be the person who continues like Steve Jobs to tinker on the beauty of the product. In the meantime, the performance people are saying, look, we gotta make sales this quarter. We’re out of business. We can’t make, we have a minimum viable product, so let’s get this thing rolling. That’s your sales staff saying, let’s deliver this. Let’s win. Let’s get it out there. And the passion people say, oh, it could be a little more perfect and beautiful and all the rest, and they’re both right.
Mark Thompson: 00:58:46 And then the purpose driven people saying, look guys, we need to know who we’re building this for. Who’s our customer? Where’s our organization going? How can we be competitive in the marketplace? And so what we’ve found is if you want to build a great organization, you need all three. You need people who tend to be a little more purpose driven, a little more passion driven, or a little more performance driven. And we find the general population, when we did our global survey, comes out in thirds. So part of your job is to recruit people who are not like you. When people talk about diversity and talk about inclusion, what we really feel is so important with the success of organizations is that diversity doesn’t just have a face, it has a way of life, it has a way of contributing. It has the new ideas. If you’re all the same, then you’re not going to contribute as well as if you can have complimentary skills and personality.
Bryan Miller: 00:59:36 No, I know that’s true. And in what research is showing is you’re saying here, about what’s gonna make us take us to the next level as a leader, is this about a team recruiting and this that the research is showing very clearly that, teams perform better than individuals, and diverse teams perform better than non diverse teams.
Mark Thompson: 00:59:54 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 00:59:55 So, but I’d never, I’d actually never thought about that in my own business until a couple of years ago when I realized that people that I had surrounded myself with, they were, I think they were all very much like me. And I hadn’t even given thought to the diversity of what you’re saying here. So anyway, people that can…
Mark Thompson: 01:00:13 Different sensibilities, different capacities, I mean for the people who do marketing and sales, they ought to be admiring, loving, and relieved at the other people want to do the accounting. And the accountants ought to be really delighted that there’s somebody focused on the customer, and would really like to solve a problem because if you don’t have revenues, you don’t have a business. It takes all kinds.
Bryan Miller: 01:00:34 For sure. Okay. So I want go ahead and transition us to the enlightening lightning round. Before I do, I just want to ask one last question in this portion of the interview about our good friend Marshall Goldsmith. So with Marshall, well okay, so I do have a question but now that it’s coming up, but just say this, Marshall’s a pretty special human being.
Mark Thompson: 01:00:56 We Love Marshall.
Bryan Miller: 01:00:57 Yeah. He’s amazing. What man, I know this could be its own whole interview. But what have you learned from Marshall?
Mark Thompson: 01:01:08 Everything, about coaching. I think that has been valuable to me, that has been the biggest set of game changers, has been inspired by Marshall Goldsmith. I take one example of a practice that I’ve started to engage in, that I mentioned to you I think at dinner, which was if you could bring together people who are feeling isolated because they maybe have a big job, a big dream, not necessarily like minded people about them all the time, that they can feel vulnerable with. I love creating a space, as Marshall has done for years, for people to have a wonderful mastermind dinner and allow them to, in an environment where nobody has an agenda, nobody is trying to make a sale, nobody’s trying to close a deal, nobody’s trying to impress. These are often in my world, in Marshall’s world. I met him because 25 years ago we were both hired to do the grooming of two competitors for the corner office and they didn’t want to have the same coach.
Bryan Miller: 01:02:20 Wow.
Mark Thompson: 01:02:20 So Marshall and I took on the two division presidents in a race to the corner office. And I met a guy who taught me this practice of creating a safe space for small groups of people to have brutally frank conversations about what their struggles were, what their challenges were, to finally start to open up about what really was driving their behavior, about this need to be right, this need to contradict. And the stakeholder centered coaching model was probably the first time that I’d ever seen a model in which, this is something that Marshall invented. This idea of saying that you’ll not be judged by me, the coach, you’ll be judged by your peers, the ones that you’re having impact. So this intention versus impact ends up getting flushed out very quickly cause you know, the coaching model is to have one area that you’re working on that you are vulnerable enough to say. I’m going to have some loving critics, who might otherwise be my competitors, at the table giving me feedback on a frequently and regular basis and as Alan Malally would say, the former Boeing and Ford CEO, if you don’t want to do it, that’s okay, but we’re not working together.
Mark Thompson: 01:03:29 So the table stakes are, we’re going to choose one thing I can do to get better and be a higher impact, higher achiever in this organization. I’m going to be vulnerable enough to tell you what that is. Let’s say I’m going to be a better listener. You’re going to judge me after every interaction that we have, going to score me on this. I call that radical mentoring. It’s frequent enough so it takes this sting out. It’s not something you wait a quarter or a year for. And at the end we’ll decide if we get better or not. And I will be judging that your community of people that you care about will judge you and it’s transformational for those people. And it’s really at the very core of Marshall’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, about how as high achievers or successful people, we assume that all the baggage we took with us to become successful and made us successful. But the truth is we could jettison some of that baggage and be a lot better.
Mark Thompson: 01:04:21 And focus on that one thing to get better. So that’s what he does and that’s inspired me and it’s inspired millions.
Bryan Miller: 01:04:28 It’s inspired me and his generosity,
Mark Thompson: 01:04:30 It’s so different. And this idea of paying it forward and he’s giving everything away. I think he now famously tells the story of, you know, telling folks that he was going to give everything away and it was the most watched LinkedIn video in history. The great fortunate, serendipitous mistake that he made was he didn’t tell people how to contact him. So the whole system blew up and it just completely lit up. And 16,000 people applied to be a part of this wonderful community that you and I are a part of, the Marshall Goldsmith 100.
Bryan Miller: 01:04:59 Yeah, it’s, it’s really special. So thank you Marshall.
Mark Thompson: 01:05:03 Thank you, Marshall. Yes, we love you, man.
Bryan Miller: 01:05:05 Yeah. Okay. So the enlightening lightning round question number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a…
Mark Thompson: 01:05:18 Loving partnership with my wife.
Bryan Miller: 01:05:22 Number two, what’s something at which you wish you were better?
Mark Thompson: 01:05:27 Many things, particularly music.
Bryan Miller: 01:05:31 I’m resisting going on a tangent, but I’m curious. Maybe I’ll come back to that. Well, at least what aspect of music?
Mark Thompson: 01:05:39 I love musical theater and I love composition. I love Lira lyricism. I’m writing a Broadway musical now and I’m finding the creative process, both extraordinary and, and something that just connects me in a whole different way to my world.
Bryan Miller: 01:05:57 Okay, so now curiosity is really got me, a Broadway musical. Where do you even start? Right? Because you have this stage action, all the stage direction, you’ve got all the music, you’ve got all the storyline, like all this, like where do you even begin and what’s the inspiration for this?
Mark Thompson: 01:06:12 This ends up, thank you so much, Elizabeth. Elizabeth just handed me some wonderful fresh spring water here. That was very thoughtful of you, sweetie. Appreciate that. So the question was about where do you start to do a Broadway musical? It would be the same question you’d ask yourself about getting a blog, or a book done. What you do is look at the essential parts and give yourself permission to suck at it, and just be horrible, and just try out various ideas and also over-simplify. So in this particular case, this’ll be a great example of oversimplification. So, I got this idea. I had been going to this club with my wife and many of my clients called 54 Below. It’s 254 west, 54th street in Manhattan. And it’s a speakeasy. Um, a place where Broadway entertainers come and do little short musical reviews in a small dinner theater, that’s only about a hundred people.
Mark Thompson: 01:07:09 And they’ll do a couple of acts a night and it was a simplified version of a Broadway show, more of a musical review, 45 minutes long, really short. So if you think about a big massive overwhelming creative project, think is there a way to do this shorter, easier, simpler. And so I thought maybe we could do some things around a topic that you and I share, particularly you, Bryan, being a coach. It is a target rich environment for the dysfunction and struggle that we all face as human beings. If I could do a parody and satire on coaching in musical form, I thought that would be great fun. And I started listening to old musical theater and I found lots of great examples of not having to change the lyrics very much, but using a familiar out of copyright old tune and come up with a storyline around a person who’s trying to make her way as a high achiever in her career. And we’re going to call her high potential and she’s going to find her way through this journey in 45 minutes. And we’re going to sing songs about all the players from evil soul-sucking bosses to the Yoda like characters who help you along the way. And do just a parody on coaching. And it’ll be something that, uh, you know, that’s when the leadership hits the fan. It’s when don’t stop in the leadership, don’t step in the leadership. And we’ll just offer this to friends and family who come. I don’t have to make money at this. This is an experience that I love giving. I, you know, as I did last fall, I love having experiences where people can come together and look creatively at the leadership journey. Whether I’m doing that with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley at Stanford, or doing the Harvard Institute for Coaching, or doing a satire parody on leadership on Broadway.
Bryan Miller: 01:08:57 It sounds fun.
Mark Thompson: 01:08:58 It’s gonna be great fun and it’s, I’m over my skis, so it’s something bigger than I’ve done ever before. But that’s, that’s part of what makes it a great creative challenge.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:07 Yeah, that is awesome. Well, thank you for sharing.
Mark Thompson: 01:09:09 Of course. Yeah. Well, you’re welcome. Come December 16.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:11 December 16, that sounds wonderful. Awesome.
Mark Thompson: 01:09:16 We’ll take you to Broadway. Marshall and I be on stage as your muse.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:20 Right on. That is one thing I love about this community. And music is a part of it.
Mark Thompson: 01:09:24 It is. He loves music too.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:26 It’s really important.
Mark Thompson: 01:09:27 We did a song called, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:30 So great. That’s awesome. That’s really fun. Okay. All right. Question number three: If you are required every day for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it, or a phrase we’re saying, or quote or quip, what would the shirt say?
Mark Thompson: 01:09:49 Focus.
Bryan Miller: 01:09:51 Love it. Okay. Number four. What book other than one of your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
Mark Thompson: 01:09:59 What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, would probably be standard issue for the coaching practice, if you haven’t read it before.
Bryan Miller: 01:10:07 Okay. What about, what about a non coaching related book, and that is a great book by the way, the coaching and leadership, even personal growth. Aside from that book, what else?
Mark Thompson: 01:10:18 For that? I’d have to say that the recommendation of a book often from me is something of a reflection of where I might be in my own personal development. And so what might speak to me wouldn’t necessarily be for everyone, but if you’re asking me, you know about a favorite book, there is a currently a book called, Secret Life Of Trees. And it’s an exploration of the magic and majesty of how impossible most flora and fauna is, and how it can be appreciated as a metaphor for our lives.
Bryan Miller: 01:10:58 Wow, that’s beautiful. I’ve visited the, I think it is the botanical garden in San Francisco.
Mark Thompson: 01:11:03 Oh yes.
Bryan Miller: 01:11:03 And saw that was the first place I came encounter with that book.
Mark Thompson: 01:11:07 Is that right?
Bryan Miller: 01:11:08 Yeah, I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list. Well good. Okay, so number five. So you travel a ton.
Mark Thompson: 01:11:16 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 01:11:16 What is one travel hack, meaning something you do when you travel or something you take with you to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Mark Thompson: 01:11:25 Well, I have two thoughts. Is that alright?
Bryan Miller: 01:11:27 Of course.
Mark Thompson: 01:11:27 To the extent that you can actually think about the people that you might connect with in the process of travel. I find that that is very grounding. That one of the venturous pieces in my life was to actually homeschool our daughter for a 10 year period before she mainstreamed in high school and college. And part of that was out of the pragmatism of the fact that the doctors said that she would never get through high school and certainly not even reached college. And you know, after waiting 20 years to be parents, we were not going to stand for that. And she had inherited my DNA around eyesight issues. Well that was fighting words. So we decided that we would integrate in our wonderful lives, since Bonita and I are coaches, and researchers, and investors, and board members, and growing companies. I’m regularly asked or paid to go around the world. And most of the places that I visit are remarkable places where companies have their retreats, or management gets together, and new companies being built. So brought the daughter with us and my wife. And so we went to, on a hundred international trips to 42 countries. By the time my daughter was 16.
Bryan Miller: 01:12:39 Holy cow.
Mark Thompson: 01:12:39 And so that was transformational for all three of us. It was a do over from me, who suffered and struggled through my youth. And a dad who wasn’t around, in addition to all the struggles we had at home. So I got to be the dad I never had. And my wife and I, and daughter, it lit her up. We would hire subject matter experts where we needed it. Of course, my mother’s, been someone who started, introduced me to a high school education because she was an educator. My wife, Bonita, has a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the great education schools. So she is an educator. So this was our clinical work and take our daughter. So that was the ultimate travel hack. I mean, it’s not something that most people do, but even with people with privilege and resources, it’s interesting. They don’t travel enough with their kids. It’s transformational for everybody. If you don’t have that as an option, just to be very practical about travel, I think about taking care of yourself, and think about your getting enough sleep, and enough water, and eating well. That’s probably the most practical hack I can give you for travel to feel good.
Bryan Miller: 01:13:48 And it’s so easy to overlook those.
Mark Thompson: 01:13:50 Yes, yes. Circadian Rhythm and so forth.
Bryan Miller: 01:13:53 Yeah. Awesome. Okay, so just a few more questions here. Question number six. What’s one thing you started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Mark Thompson: 01:14:06 I’ve been, as I age, I’ve been paying more attention to my diet. I’d say it’d be the most significant. Being from a family of diabetes and knowing that it transformed my mother’s life, even though she was a person who had to suffer through polio. She didn’t realize that once she got the bad news about type two diabetes, that she had 50 pounds to lose. And I saw her at the age of 60, start swimming a mile and dropping all that weight and then she went on to live another 25 years.
Bryan Miller: 01:14:44 Good for her and good for you.
Mark Thompson: 01:14:45 Her Dad had died young, lost limbs and went blind. Unnecessary. And it’s such a plague in this country about sugar and what we eat. So I really had to struggle for a moment to answer your question because my wife has guided us towards a gradual transformation of the way we eat fresher foods, more vegetables and not just animal proteins, and less processed foods. And I would say that I probably tend to be more ketogenic. The diet that tends to eliminate refined carbs. So I don’t get the sugar hit that would, might affect my blood sugar. And I’ve found a couple of things out. I mean, I’m 62 years old. I can drop and do 50 pushups and run a 10k.
Bryan Miller: 01:15:32 That’s awesome.
Mark Thompson: 01:15:33 And I’m not on any medications. So I think this is probably working for me and then I travel to a different continent almost every other week. So I have incredible energy. So I’d say food is a drug or a gift. And it’s something that’s worth thinking about in your overall plan. And the thing about diet is that you have to make sure that you don’t, diet. Diets are a bad idea. That what you really do is you substitute foods that you love, with foods that are better for you, that you love. Because just taking things away is never sustainable. I think that’s the biggest, that’s why the new year’s resolutions never work.
Bryan Miller: 01:16:12 Anything that requires willpower, ultimately…
Mark Thompson: 01:16:15 Ultimately will fail. And so you need to have substitutions. And that’s true with any habit change, by the way. You need a substitution for the bad habit with something that’s better for you.
Bryan Miller: 01:16:26 No, that’s, I love hearing that. And that’s very inspiring to me because we were talking about this earlier that, my own dad died at 64, with his legs amputated due to complications of diabetes. And he had retinopathy and you know, these things. And so you’re approaching the age he was, but it’s a different universe. Your vitality and energy, and where he was, although he was always very powerful. I’m inspired him. I know him. I’m breaking my own rule in the lightning round here, but it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I read a lesson by a teacher I really admire, Yogananda. And he, he introduced to me the idea that old age does not necessarily involve disease, and decrepitude, and decay. But instead we can ripen. And then we just expire. And I had always thought, no, it’s necessary that we get weaker and we get, we break down, but I don’t think so in your further evidence that that’s not necessarily true.
Mark Thompson: 01:17:25 Not going down that way for us.
Bryan Miller: 01:17:28 That’s awesome. I want to be marathoning, and skiing, and wrestling with the grandkids, and great grandkids. When I’m 80 and 90.
Mark Thompson: 01:17:34 Absolutely, it doesn’t have to be the same.
Bryan Miller: 01:17:36 And what our friends are doing in Silicon Valley too. I’m counting on you guys, longevity science people, you know.
Mark Thompson: 01:17:44 Well, you know you don’t always beat the genetic lottery. I want to make sure that’s not the blame game for those people. Like you know, my wife’s brother died at 21 of leukemia. Stuff happens. But then we’d have to play in our own favor here, and so changing and substituting some habits that are better for us, that feed us better, to get the kind of endorphin high that you need to live a full life, is something that has to be done with intention. And I have to pay more attention to that than ever.
Bryan Miller: 01:18:16 Yeah. Well, it sounds like you’re doing it. Good. Good for you. Okay. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Mark Thompson: 01:18:25 This would be one, knowing something about how to feel better, having improved relationships in two or in many different areas of our life. Realizing that to build a better relationship is a process of understanding what other people value and helping make them successful. I wish every American knew that. I wish everybody knew that sugar affects your attitude and your energy, and your health. So find other things that are sweet inyour life. I wish everybody knew that they can have longterm relationships if they choose to think about those relationships with intention and service to others.
Bryan Miller: 01:19:10 That’s beautiful. I wish every American knew that too. Okay, cool. So I’m going to go ahead and ask this here, so I don’t leave it to the very end of the interview. But if people want to learn more from you, or connect with you, which by the way, this might be a great place for your podcast. Because I think it’s pretty recent that you’ve begun podcasting.
Mark Thompson: 01:19:32 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 01:19:32 Is that right?
Mark Thompson: 01:19:33 Yes.
Bryan Miller: 01:19:33 So will you talk for just a moment about your podcast and what your experience has been like doing it?
Mark Thompson: 01:19:39 Yes. Well I think that the social media platforms today, the one thing that can really help you touch a community, and share your ideas, and get feedback on how those ideas really land on other people is to, to blog, to use LinkedIn. As a tool for me, is one where I find that I can touch people around their career and their life. And I have started doing videos and podcasts and I’ve always based my books for the last 25 years on interviews with people. I was trained originally as a photojournalist. I am much more comfortable asking questions than answering them. And maybe that also makes me even more impactful, I think as a coach, because I can help guide people through questions that allow them to find self-discovery rather than judgment. And so I’d say that podcasting is a great way to start to socialize some of your ideas so you can get feedback on it. It used to be that you write a book and it take 12 to 18 months. It’s like the gestation period for an elephant, and you’d not know how people really thought about any of the concepts. So how are you going to start to bring some feedback into this loop of success or failure of these ideas and how could you explain things better?
Mark Thompson: 01:20:57 Well doing a podcast or doing a blog or both, or doing little videos with people so that they can hear your point of view. I have been really guided. This next book that I do, will have more feedback before it gets written and published, than any other book I’ve ever had because there’s this virtuous cycle of feedback. And you’d be amazed at, you know, if you were to number, what are the three highest impact things that you might share with the world? I guarantee you the one that you think is the highest impact is probably number two, and maybe three is number one. Even that is real information and I learned so much from a conversation with people. So that’s the other thing that I think the best platforms are looking for right now is dialogue, not a broadcast. So you know, conversations like we’re having, I’m really hoping that people will write you notes asking me questions.
Mark Thompson: 01:21:43 That’ll be one of the ways I judge whether it was useful to have the conversation.
Bryan Miller: 01:21:47 Yeah, no, that’s beautiful. I hope so too. And I think part of that is that we are looking for connection and we are looking for authenticity. You know? So it’s no surprise that that’s the way the world is going. What we’re creating with technology, what technology is making possible.
Mark Thompson: 01:22:02 Yeah. So reach out to me on LinkedIn. You’ll find me at Mark Thompson on Linkedin. And that’ll be a place that I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear questions, and I answer. I actually answer those questions. I actually go in there and have that dialogue. Tomorrow in fact, I’m starting a series of videos that will be done called C Suite Mastery, the masterclass. And Marshall and I are doing them and it’s being released through the Thinkers 50.
Bryan Miller: 01:22:24 Awesome.
Mark Thompson: 01:22:24 And so the first one we’re doing is on gratitude. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about what gratitude means to you and what you’d advice that has worked the best for you.
Bryan Miller: 01:22:36 Awesome. I will go online and I will let you.
Mark Thompson: 01:22:39 Check that out today. That email will come out from Marshall tomorrow.
Bryan Miller: 01:22:42 Awesome.
Mark Thompson: 01:22:43 I’m sorry. Tuesday. Yeah.
Bryan Miller: 01:22:45 Okay. So then that’s a perfect segue to this next question, which is if people want to learn more from you, they want to connect with you, we’ve heard they can reach out on LinkedIn. They can visit your website.
Mark Thompson: 01:22:55 Yes, MarkCThompson.com. Right.
Bryan Miller: 01:22:58 Okay, awesome. And of course they can find your books on Amazon. Or at any fine bookseller near them. Accept the brick and mortar people. So great. Okay, so final, final portion of the interview. Oh, and I do want to say this here as well, that as a way of expressing my gratitude to you, for making time to share of your experience and your wisdom with me, and our listeners. I’ve gone on Kiva.org and I’ve made a micro loan on your behalf.
Mark Thompson: 01:23:29 Oh thank you!
Bryan Miller: 01:23:29 To an entrepreneur in India.
Mark Thompson: 01:23:31 Wonderful.
Bryan Miller: 01:23:32 So I normally don’t get to show guests the photo, but this is Pael. So here is…
Mark Thompson: 01:23:38 Oh, wonderful. That’s just beautiful. I’m looking at a picture now of a woman in a pink, sari. It looks like it’s a person who looks full of life, ready to really take her business and career to the next level. So thank you for doing that, Bryan. That’s beautiful.
Bryan Miller: 01:23:55 Yeah. And she’ll use this money along with another amount from other donors, or they’re not donors but loaners, to help purchase raw materials, including thread and needles to expand her business. She’s 20 years old.
Mark Thompson: 01:24:08 Fantastic. It’s changing the world one person at a time. Thank you for that. That’s role modeling it.
Bryan Miller: 01:24:14 Well, thank you. Okay, so the last questions that I have relate to the creative process and this is probably my 52nd or 53rd interview.
Mark Thompson: 01:24:25 Congratulations.
Bryan Miller: 01:24:25 Oh thank you. And I recently wiped my question set. Like I went, it kind of evolved and then it morphed, and it got out of control, and I haven’t recreated it. So when I get to this part right now, I’m just leaving it a little open. But I suppose if I give it the context of what what I’m looking for here, what I want to leave our reader, or our listeners with, is something that will help them if they want to do what you’ve done. Which is to publish truly good books, that will make their way to people who will then read them and use what they learn. So it’s kind of some conditions. Get the book done, get it into people’s hands, have it make a difference. So if people want to do that, what do you say to them? What from your experiences has made a difference in helping you be able to do that?
Mark Thompson: 01:25:18 I’d say that that the technology available now to do what we’re doing here with this podcast, is a game changer. The point that I was making about the fact that you can get feedback on the path to publishing, is enormous because when you are taking the leap of faith, to say that you have an idea, a thought, a profession, a career, a method, that you want to share with the world, the risk you’re taking is you don’t really know beyond your anecdotal experience with the community of people that you’ve maybe touched so far. And that’s great. Hopefully that’s been the source of joy or maybe it’s been a profession for you, a source of income. The more people that you can try out these ideas on, and not just try out the ideas, but try different stories and different approaches, to describing what you want to say, and get feedback on how to maybe optimize and improve that message. I say was the number one way I’ve convinced both publishers and myself to get in the game, and it builds your confidence. It helps curate what you focus on because of the kind of feedback that you’ll get from that blog or that podcast. And it allows you to make, I think a more convincing case to a publisher that this resonates and that this is a way of presenting an idea, or a concept that there might be a market for. It used to be that you just have to try to be sending it out to 140 publishers and everybody has the famous story of being rejected by all of those, which is true of my first book as well, Success Built To Last.
Bryan Miller: 01:26:59 Was it really 140?
Mark Thompson: 01:27:01 And it is for many. And if you talk to people who have published a lot of books, it’s always a lot of rejection and that’s still probably will happen. But you can do that with a greater level of confidence if you’ve already had a conversation with as many people from all over the country as you possibly can, and all over the world, because that’s now possible. And there’s really zero barrier to entry to have that idea. And it also forces you on a schedule of taking what is a massive, overwhelming and intimidating project of having a 200 page book or a 300 page book written, and breaking it down into, well what seven things do you believe? And what’s seven different ways could you describe each of the seven of those, until you have the optimal description of each chapter? So that’s tested out. Do free speeches, go volunteer for a community organization and give a talk and you will be shocked. It’s how some things really work and some things really don’t. And take the feedback and iterate yourself to success.
Bryan Miller: 01:27:57 No, it just makes so much sense. And one of the things that I love about that is, you know, there really is something different about, at least in my experience, between writing and truly sharing with someone. And having that, not just the feedback, but even the receipt of those ideas by another mind.
Mark Thompson: 01:28:19 Right, and hearing how they respond and what they think about it and then having that dialogue.
Bryan Miller: 01:28:24 It’s amazing. It’s amazing. So that’s great. What, who has been influential to you in your journey as a writer? And what did you learn from them?
Mark Thompson: 01:28:37 I’d say recently I did a podcast, or resurrected a podcast that I had done. I was asked by National Public Radio 20 years ago to do. I’d been doing a series for Schwab. I was running, I was executive producer of schwab.com and I started a little media company and a little media service called a CEO Series. And I started interviewing self-made, highly successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. That’s when I first did my… Steve Jobs did his first webinar with anyone was with me in 1998. He’d never done a webinar before and he thought it was fascinating. My idea was that the average person, not gonna have exposure to any of these rockstar CEOs, but as the leader of schwab.com I was in a position to call them and say, “Hey, I represent 5 million people. We’d love to do a webinar with you.” But they’re going to ask the questions and so am I. So I was able to democratize the access of the first type of, kind of call in talk show, that way in a different way than radio was being done. Did it in the webinar format so it was searchable and usable.
Bryan Miller: 01:29:47 20 years ago.
Mark Thompson: 01:29:48 This is 1988. More than 20 years ago. So I came up with that idea and started running it on the platform of schwab.com and then I got Steve Jobs. I can, you know, they’re all on cassette tape, right? That goes way back. I had Jack Welch at the time. I had a lot of people who, Jeff Bezos, when he was just gearing up on Amazon, they were just a book seller at the time. And having done that, NPR said, well, “Why don’t you get out of your own comfort zone, Mark?” I started interviewing other people who are really interesting. So I reached out to Maya Angelo, the great poet. I reached out to Nelson Mandela. That’s when I started to decide that I would talk to the high achievers from every field and profession. And so those interviews literally added up into my book, Success Built To Last. It took 10 years of digital audio tape that I made of these interviews that added up and then, Bonita my wife, went through and did a content analysis, and that was from there that we found the chapter headings.
Mark Thompson: 01:30:44 What were the most common drivers of their definitions of success? So it was from those interviews that I found my path and that way, and I had this just incredible dialog with people. Even if I didn’t write a book, that’s when the publisher was saying, we’ve talked to these amazing variety of people. You did a little NPR interview on that. That’s a book! Let’s do this. And so I’ve always been biased. I am not the kind of person who can just go monkishly into the cave and come out seeing the light. I don’t know. I’m not that smart. I’m not that gifted. I’m not touched by divinity in that way. I feel that I’m really more the mirror that reflects the light. It serves me as a coach. I’m hearing this show a reflection of yourself and help you find that deeper, more motivated, more engaged human being, that’s across the table from me, that beautiful light I see in your eyes, Bryan is what touches other people’s lives. So anything I can do to elevate that, I can take credit for, I can feel part of that. And that’s what I do as a coach. That same service comes from my podcasts, from my interviews, from my books, and my coaching. And it’s all one continuum for me of a virtuous cycle of service is to try to find the higher self and people that I can help promote. I’m just your cheerleader.
Bryan Miller: 01:32:01 That’s beautiful. Well, and thank you for that. So maybe this is a place to end. Okay. So two things. One is, and I’ll ask the question this way if there was a final thought. Okay. And I’ll ask a different question. So we all have an inner critic. Right? This, we talked about it earlier. The thing that’s working to keep us safe. It never goes away. And sometimes it seems the more we try to make it go away, the louder it gets.
Mark Thompson: 01:32:36 That’s for sure. The chatters ever present.
Bryan Miller: 01:32:39 Yeah. So if there was one, I dunno saying, proverb, maxim, you know, anything like that, that listeners could take their existing self-talk, when they are working on their creative work and they could insert this instead, in their stream of consciousness. I don’t know, maybe an affirmation or something like that. What might, but it’s Mark Thompson’s voice now that they can choose to put in their own flow, right? What does that say?
Mark Thompson: 01:33:11 You don’t have to be perfect to do something great. That critic is saying that you’re not good enough. You’re not strong enough. You’re not fast enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not rich enough. You’re not privileged enough. You’re not good looking enough. There’s a lot of nots. Doesn’t matter whether that’s true or not. You have the privilege of your living, breathing spirit. You have an opportunity to have impact on the world beyond your capacity. I came from feeling I had no potential at all. You talked about the same thing, but I was convinced that I had no potential when I was growing up. Life wasn’t easy and there wasn’t any evidence that I had any superior talent. In fact, I was put in special class with my mentally retarded brother cause they couldn’t function at a high enough level. So there wasn’t anything that was going to be privileged about that. So where do you go from there?
Mark Thompson: 01:34:03 Well you, you realize that you don’t have to be perfect to do something great. You decide that you want to make a contribution on other people, and then you go, and then they go, “Mark, thank you for that.” And you go, did that help? Did that really help? How good do you feel when somebody says you helped them? Now did I have to be great? Did I have to be perfect? Did I have to have all the answers? Did I have to be beautiful? Did I have to be smart, fast, strong? No, I just had to help you. And how good do you feel? And do that a few times, that’s why they say it’s the service that heals you. It’s the look in your eyes, the person across the table. Then all of a sudden you matter.
Mark Thompson: 01:34:55 And you go, I remember talking to Sally Field about leadership. I asked her about, here’s a woman who was kind of the beach babe, and then she became an actress, and then she started being a producer, director, Academy and Emmy Award winning high impact individual. And I asked her about women in leadership and she says, “Mark, people don’t wake up in the morning,thinking they’re going to be a leader. Who thinks they’re good enough to be a leader? Nobody ever thinks that way. I’m sorry. You just, what you do is you struggle, and you fight, and you contribute, and you find people to help. And the more people you help, then all of a sudden they’re saying, lead us!” And you go, “Huh? Me? Moi? Am I perfect for that?” That’s not what… leadership isn’t about perfection. It’s about unlocking the potential in other people towards a common goal. And so that’s what we’re here to do. And I would encourage everybody who’s listening to this program, and has the privilege of having tuned into Bryan, that the message that he’s telling is that you are a soul who deserves to have joy in your life. And when that’s true, the fact that you can give joy to others is a big part of your purpose.
Bryan Miller: 01:36:09 That’s it. I mean like that’s the whole message. Right there. That’s beautiful. Well good. Well the only other thing that I had wanted to ask in this almost now, it’s been a hundred minutes. I don’t know how long have you edited one will be, probably not a lot shorter, but it’s just something that, and here’s kind of an admission as well. And I’m, I know I’m making a distinction where one isn’t due probably. But when I joined the MG 100, one of the things that I saw pretty early, well two things. One, pretty much everybody in MG 100 is further down the path than me in terms of professional success. You know the New York Times bestsellers and Thinkers 50 and like all this stuff, which is super privileged for me to do associate with that group of people. What the second thing, and this was I didn’t expect was that most of the members of the MG 100 seem to serve in the corporate realm.
Bryan Miller: 01:37:11 Like in you know, Fortune 500 and Fortune 50, and that kind of thing. And I’m not sure what it is. I don’t know if it’s, you know, something for me to mind, with my dad and his devotion to business over for a long time family and health and spirituality. It’s like if I have this unconscious resentment or something, but there’s a part of me, I guess it’s maybe the sense that life is about way more than business. Which I know nobody’s saying it’s not. But I found that as I got closer to that opportunity, to serve leaders in the realm of business through the MG 100,I thought, man, that’s not what I want to do. You know, I actually, and I think you and I chatted about this briefly once before, right? But I’m really finding, I’m drawn more to the spiritual and maybe even the mystical, you know, like this idea that something is animating everything living, and maybe everything that’s not living. And you know, like all of this and, and I know that these things that we often don’t talk about as a society, are present for all of us in our worldview, and our moments of whatever doubt or decision or joy, that all this is there. So I’m not sure what the question is here, but it’s something about what’s your sense of the relationship between success and spirituality and how can we invite more of that into our lives regardless of what we do or don’t believe about a higher power?
Mark Thompson: 01:38:42 Yes. A lot of trivial question and one that’s deserving of a lifetime.
Bryan Miller: 01:38:49 And we opened with what’s life about, so it’s appropriate we close with the really big question!
Mark Thompson: 01:38:53 Yes, I agree. I agree. You talked about the MG 100. That’s a professional organization. So naturally, the center of gravity there was that, he Marshall, as he was curating that group being a person who spent his life serving corporate organizations, and being hired by them, and admired by them, and cherished as a… In a sense Marshall’s very much the Peter Drucker who was the father of management science. And Marshall is the father of executive coaching as we know it today. He started that journey with great intention, and with great love, and great commitment, to creating what is now becoming a profession. Really, over decades. And so it’s natural for us as a professional organization and at that, that fraternity and sorority, to start it around what are our common beliefs about that career choice? And that doesn’t exclude a deeper sense of purpose, passion and performance, or a spiritual sense of commitment.
Mark Thompson: 01:40:12 And what’s interesting about this particular group, is I get to learn more about each individual and we spend more time together, as we get to start to have conversations that are as deep as the one we’ve had during this podcast. We’ve touched on subjects that are very spiritual, very driven by a higher purpose and an energy. There are many different faiths represented. There are many different points of view and cultural differences that are as dramatic as those you find in every country around the earth. It’s a very diverse organization now, from the people north, south, east, west, young, old, different ethnicity, gender background, even orientations to family and so that diverse melting pot of ideas, is I think part of what is the galvanizing force. With respect to directly addressing the issue of spirit and and higher purpose, I think that’s a guiding force I think for many of us in our lives to treasure the mystery, and to pursue, and discover those answers for ourselves.
Mark Thompson: 01:41:21 And find that for me in the conversations with people who live lives so different from each other, that have all ended up having high impact on humanity. To me whatever that energy is, whatever that creative spirit is, something that’s made not only other people’s lives richer, but enriched Marshall’s life, for example. That he’s been able to contribute to their sense of sub spirit and contribution and purpose. And to continue to be committed to pursue the mystery of why we’re here and what we are to do. We do know this, that we are here to love and be loved and to have an impact on others. And there’s as many different ways to take that path, as there are people to take the path. I’m honored that you’re approaching this with a sense of that spirit because we are not companies. We are not organizations. We are people who serve, whether it’s one on one,, hour after hour serving somebody in a hospice, or we’re trying to energize a multinational corporation. We’re here to help love and be loved.
Bryan Miller: 01:42:41 Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you for that perspective.
Mark Thompson: 01:42:45 Thank you. And I look forward to long walks and long dinners. To solve the rest of the world’s problems around a sense of spirit.
Bryan Miller: 01:42:53 I love it. And I have this theory, this hypothesis that there is no such thing as a problem. Only pointing to our preference. But at any rate now this has been great. And thank you again for… I know you changed your flight to come in early.
Mark Thompson: 01:43:11 Oh, of course. No, I believe we were overdue for this deep dive and so I’m privileged and honored to be a part of your podcast. Bryan Miller.
Bryan Miller: 01:43:18 Yeah. Well thank you. And I hope the rest of your time here in Utah on this visit, which is secretly, and maybe not so secretly, the center of the universe.
Mark Thompson: 01:43:26 It is. And it’s an inaugural visit because I am now at Utahn.
Bryan Miller: 01:43:29 Are you? That’s right because you told me you have the place at Summit.
Mark Thompson: 01:43:32 Yes. So I’ll be local and I’m going to be seeking your advice and counsel on how to become a part of this community and I’m privileged to join.
Bryan Miller: 01:43:42 Well, good. It’s a lifelong endeavor. I’m still figuring that out myself.
Mark Thompson: 01:43:46 You’ve got a lot of runway ahead of me. Thank you.
Bryan Miller: 01:43:49 Thanks.
Bryan Miller: 01:43:50 Despite living in an age where we have more comforts and conveniences than ever before, life isn’t working for many people. Whether it’s in the developed world, where we’re dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, divorce, jobs we hate, relationships that don’t work, or people in the developing world who don’t have access to clean water, or sanitation, or health care, or education, or who live in conflict zones. There’s a lot of people on the planet that life isn’t working very well for. If you’re one of those people, I invite you to connect with me at Goodliving.com. I’ve created Life’s Best Practices Breakthrough Coaching, to help you navigate the transitions that we all go through.
Bryan Miller: 01:44:28 Whether you’ve just graduated school, you’re going through a divorce, you just got married, you’re headed into retirement, you’re starting a business, you just lost your job, whatever it is you’re facing. I’ve developed a 36 week course that you go through with me and a community of achievers and seekers who are committed to improving their own lives, and the lives of others. So through this online program, you will have the opportunity to go deep into every area of your life, explore life’s big questions, create answers for yourself in community, get clarity and accountability. If that’s something you’re interested to learn about, I invite you to contact me directly at [email protected] or by visiting Goodliving.com.