How to Create “Gotta Have It!” with Dr. Mark Goulston

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TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

Episode Summary

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!Today’s guest on The Successful Pitch is Dr. Mark Goulston who’s written over seven books with great titles such as “Just Listen” and “Talking To Crazy.” He said his whole intent is to heal the world one conversation at a time. I really love that. He said “When you talk with people, talk with them, not at them and not over them if you really want to have a successful pitch.” One of the questions that we talk about is people are feeling when they hear your pitch is do I trust you not to hurt me? It’s that whole fight or flight response that I talk about all the time. He’s got a four-step process he’s going to share on how to get people to say “I gotta have what you’re pitching” and he really gives great insights on exactly what it takes to get people to connect with you when they not only feel like you’ve listened to them but as he describes you listen into them. Find out what that’s all about. Enjoy the episode.


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How to Create “Gotta Have It!” with Dr. Mark Goulston

Hello and welcome to The Successful Pitch. Today I’m honored to have Dr. Mark Goulston who is the author of seven books. One of them is “Just Listen,” which is a top seller and he’s traveled around to India and Europe promoting it. Another book is called “Talking To Crazy” and that book was a finalist in the Audible Book Oscars and has been featured on and as if that’s not enough, he’s a former FBI hostage negotiator and most recently he has started doing a one man show where he channels Steve Jobs coming back from the grave to talk about what he did and ask questions that the audience might have. He’s there to answer them. So, Mark, or should I say Steve, welcome to the show.

I’m so glad to be on, John. I was really looking forward to this and actually, right out of the gate, something, an insight that I would give people. The success of Steve Jobs, one of the main things he was able to do is he was what I’d call a first class noticer. And noticing is different than looking, watching and seeing. When you notice something, you’re actually tuned into it.

So, I’m bringing that up because one of the things that I notice about you, John, and why you’re effective and I think people who know you will say “That guy had you right.” You talk with people. Too often people talk at us, over us or they talk to us in a way that’s kind of intellectual but there’s an inviting way in your tone and you talk with people and it’s laced with a desire to be of service, to be helpful.

Also, what I pick up in your tone is, this guy I can trust to never hurt me and that’s rare.

Well I really appreciate you saying that Mark. That means a lot, especially coming from you, which you’re an expert in empathetic listening and people regard you as a people hacker. So you can cut right to what the issue is.

I do pride myself on making people feel safe when they’re with me. I think it’s the highest compliment I can give anybody is that I feel safe to be myself with you and if anybody ever says that back to me, that they feel safe that I would never hurt them, that is a huge compliment. Because when we have that empathy going on between two people, I think that’s a key factor to communication and likability and if you’ve got that going on, then you can start a potential bus relationship but without it you’re probably not going to be successful.

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

Source: Pexels

[Tweet “Talk with people not at or over them.”]

Boy, is that true. You know, you just triggered something. I was fortunate to have six mentors, they all passed away and my last one was a fellow named Warren Bennis and anybody who knows anything about leadership will know that name. He was one of the pioneers in the leadership field. Some will say he invented it.

He was at USC, died a couple years ago. I remember about 10 years ago he was telling me about his 80th birthday celebration. He mentored Howard Schultz at Starbucks and David Gergen from CNN. He’s advised four presidents and there’s a charming and shy part of Warren. I remember he was telling me after that celebration, he said, “You know Mark, they made a big deal over me in Cambridge” and we were at a restaurant and he leaned in and he was looking to see if anyone was looking, and he said, “and you know, I liked it.”

I said something, which I would say to you, and maybe this is something for listeners to consider. I said “Warren, what you don’t realize, people don’t just respect you, they love you. And the reason they love you is something that they pick up that I knew within 30 seconds of meeting you. And what I knew is that I could trust you to never hurt me.”

So great.

And a lot of the people that you coach, or that you mentor, they can’t say that. Howard Schultz at Starbucks can’t say that about many people. That he can trust people to not hurt them.

And then Warren looked at me and he’s kinda shy and he said “You know Mark, a lot of nice things have been said about me and I think people trust me to not hurt them is the third best thing I’ve ever heard and I can’t remember one and two.”

Even better. Oh, that’s terrific.

I’m saying, people who are pitching, if in this day and age where everybody has their guard up. If people can trust you to not hurt them, you’ve got a leg up on the competition. And that’s the leg up that you have, John, and that’s why I actually wanted to pursue you after I heard your wonderful presentation recently.

Thank you Mark. Well I really feel that, that is the secret, isn’t it? If you’re pitching someone to buy something from you, you’ve got a product to service, an app, whatever it is, and they feel that you got your back, that you won’t hurt them. You’ll make them look good to their boss or whatever it is, if they buy from you, if something goes wrong you’re going to be there to help them through it. That’s a huge reason why they pick you.

If you’re trying to get someone to join your team and they feel that you’re never going to humiliate them or embarrass them in front of anybody, either inside or outside of the company. In that quote “You’ve got their back”, they’re going to be loyal.

Of course, if you’re pitching to get funded, that’s everything. An investor has to trust that you’re going to make good use of their funds and not hurt them with how you spend their money and how you treat them.

Absolutely, I think that’s all true. I think you said it in your presentation, and maybe I got the order wrong but, that people need to like you, trust you and then figure out how you can help them.

Did I get the order right or did I get it backwards?

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

Source: Pexels

[Tweet “Do I trust you not to hurt me?”]

Just a little backwards but I start with the gut. That’s where I move up the body. So, I tell people it’s a gut thing. They have to trust is a gut thing. Do I feel safe? Is the whole fight or flight response needs to kick in?

So, it starts at the gut and then it moves to the heart, which is the likability factor, and then the head. So that’s the chakras if you will, that move up and down. So energy wise, I start with the gut, move up to the heart and then the head and that really is, I think if we can explain that to people in a way that they understand that and don’t start from the head, they’ll be way ahead of everyone else.

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

Let’s talk about “Just Listen.” I love the topic of listening. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with Elaine Gordon who co-authored a book with her husband, at the time, Tom Gordon, about parent effectiveness training, which then got translated into Leader Effectiveness Training and this whole concept of active listening that came about in the 60s, has always been a huge interest of mine. And you certainly are, you know, the expert traveling around the world.

So, my question to you, Mark, is what, if any, differences do you see in India and Europe versus here and how we listen?

Well, I think in America, and the world sees us this way, I think we’re becoming more transactional. In fact, I think, relationships are really being challenged now because in order to relate you need to pause enough to listen and consider what the other person’s saying.

And part of what I talk about in “Just Listen” is the difference between listening to someone and listening into them. And I’m going to demonstrate it with you. So, if I’m listening to you, you’ve asked me questions. You know, a substantive question, so, what do you think around the world, their view on listening. Do you think Americans listen better, worse than other places and I gave you kind of a substantive answer.

So, I’m listening to you but here’s an example of my listening into you, and tell me if it’s accurate. As I listen into you, I realize that this show is a calling for you. And it calls out to you and with that in mind, it’s really important for you to give quickly, usable, actionable tips that people can use in their life today to make them more effective today.

It’s really important also, to protect them from some of the gobbly gooks so that they can’t use it today or use it ever. I’m guessing, you’re also protective of your audience. So, every now and then you get and expert on and you think to yourself “This is unbroadcastable. I mean, this guy is a great academic but gee, I don’t want to do this to my audience.” And maybe out of respect you have to share it but I think you really care about bringing value to your audience.

Is any of that true?

All of it’s true. 100%, you have definitely listened into me and I can share with the people listening to this podcast, what that feels like when someone doesn’t just listen to your question.

Let me tell you, half the people don’t listen to you, so that feels great to just have somebody hear the actual question. But the part where it really resonates with you and makes it feel like “Whoa, I’m really connected to this person.” Is what you just did for me when you listened into me. And you put into words a feeling that I have not expressed in exactly that way. I will say I’m really passionate about hosting a podcast. I love hosting a podcast. It brings me great joy. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But I’ve never said it is a calling and when you said it I thought “That’s absolutely true. It is a calling.” I didn’t even know it was a calling until I started it but I love that it feels like that to you.

And that certainly is what it feels like to me. And so that’s 100% right on the money. So, the goal for my listeners hearing that information is, if you can figure out how to listen into somebody, you’re going to not just have a connection on an intellectual level but an emotional level. And that’s what pulls people in and wants them to know you better, spend time with you, do business with you. All of that, right?

Right. And I can’t resist building on this little exchange. I didn’t expect it to be so authentic but here we are. I’ve been talking around the country on how to create gotta have it.

So, what happened was about two or three years ago, I decided that I was tired of persuading anyone to do anything because a lot of what I taught, or what people needed, to listen better, to get out of their own way, I wrote two books on that, that did very well. But I had to persuade them but they didn’t want it.

It’s exhausting to persuade people to do things that they need that will make their life better but they don’t want it. And so I decided, what do I do if I want to stop persuading them and I came up with this idea. If I could figure out what causes customers, clients, investors, or talent to think to themselves “I gotta buy that. I gotta have it” or “I gotta work there” or “I gotta invest there.”

If I can figure out how to create gotta, you don’t have to sell anyone on anything. And what happened is, I came up, this is how I got into Steve Jobs, is I came up with a four-step formula that results in gotta have it. And what happened is you went through the four steps when I listened into you.


Oh, yeah. And the four steps, that was just third step that you just mentioned. So, the four steps to creating gotta have it are whoa, W – H – O – A, wow, W – O – W, hmmm, H – M – M – M, yes. Whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. And then whoa is, I can’t believe what I just saw, heard, read, or felt.

So, the whoa for you was, you know I was teeing myself up and you were thinking “Oh, I hope this guy doesn’t make a fool out of himself thinking he can read my mind. Oh, he’s listening into me, sure. I mean, I might be a nice guy, Mark, but you’re about to go off a plank.”

And then when I got it right the whoa was, I can’t believe what I just heard and I never thought I was pursuing a calling, but I am. And the wow is, that’s amazing, unbelievable. That’s astonishing that you knew that about me. And that, when I asked you, what did that feel like? You laughed with delight because whoa, wow creates delight. And then the hmmm, which you’re doing all over the place right now is, hmmm, this is too good not to use somewhere.

Maybe what I’ll do is right a blog on my calling, you know. When you pitch, if it’s a calling to be of service to your customers or investors, your pitch is going to be better.

So, I don’t know what you’re going to do with it but the hmmm is, you’re thinking there’s something to this. I’m not going to forget what we just talked about. And then the yes is, when you figure out how you’re going to use it, you go to yourself “Sold.” And when I’m playing Steve Jobs now, one of the biggest whoa, wow, hmmm, yes moments is, and I’ll give you a taste, I’ll morph into Steve Jobs –

Oh, yes.

– visiting Xerox Park. And so, so, in 1979 we went to Xerox Park. We got this invitation to see these three things they were working on. So, I go there with Woz and they showed me three things but I didn’t even notice two of the things they showed me something, the windup computers or something about a different organization. I didn’t even notice that stuff. I was blinded by the first thing they showed me and that was the graphical user interface with the mouse and the icons. It was just like watching Atari where I used to work at.

It was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life, hands down. And when I saw it and when I played with it and I felt it, I looked at Woz and he whispered in my ears “Once they go there, they’re never going back the other way” and we both went “Hmmm, this is too good.” And so it was a good deal that we allowed Xerox to buy a million dollars of our Apple stock for just showing us these three things. And then the yes was when we went back to Apple, they didn’t give us the formula but we went back and we said “We’re going to create something and we called that the Macintosh.”

So, that was the whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. If you’re not doing that with your products and services, I’ve been dead for five years so I feel for you but I’m looking at … in this day and age now, since I’ve died, if you’re not creating whoa, wow, hmmm, yes, you’re creating nah, never mind, no thanks, pass.

Wow, I can’t help myself. I say “Wow” to that.

What you’ve done there, Mark, that is so powerful, is you’ve given us two examples. One is yourself and one is Steve Jobs, of a system, as you said before, the four steps of making people feel like I gotta have this. And you did it with me live and then you just did it with, what Steve Jobs did I in the past. And you’ve connected the dots for us of when you have whoa and wow happening you’re creating delight.

And then emotion is so rare and so coveted that it’s a magical formula. And of course, then I really love that you took and played the opposite of what happens when you don’t have that formula, which is, you know, never mind, and all the other negative stuff that’s the opposite of all the positive feelings that you want to elicit.

It’s a true gift. I can see why people around the world have you coming and speaking to them about this. And my big question to you is, who do you think is going to channel you when you are no longer on this planet, many years from now hopefully?

Not my wife or children because, what’s the saying “A Shoemaker’s…” No, actually I love my wife and children but they don’t even know what I do.

How funny.

Well, my dad was a workaholic. And he brought it home so one of the things I declared to myself is that I, even if I have work on my mind, once I’m home, I want my wife and my children to feel that they have a husband and a dad there. I think I’ve done a pretty good job but I could improve upon those areas.

Well, it’s just sometimes people joke around like “Oh, if they were ever to make a movie of my life I’d want” I don’t know “George Clooney to play me, or Brad Pitt.” So, I just thought it’s a fun question to tease you with of whose going to channel you 50 years from now. Because I think what you’re saying is just as relevant and timeless as what Steve Jobs had to say and get left as a legacy.

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

Well, let’s jump into this other book that I just love the title, “Talking To Crazy: How to Deal With Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.” I want to start the questioning with this book, what if talking to crazy is the self-talk we’re talking? What if we go a little crazy sometimes with our irrational fears and thoughts?

Well, it’s interesting because the two chapters in “Just Listen,” which as I said, went on to become the top book on listening in the world. It’s in 17 languages and there were two chapters that people were interested in. One was called, Steering Clear of Toxic People, this was in “Just Listen.” And the other chapter was How To Go From OF to OK, let’s call the F fudge.

And it’s a chapter on how to calm yourself down when you’re with people who drive you crazy. So, there was so much interest in that, that I created a whole book about “Talking To Crazy” about how to deal with people who drive you crazy and how to calm them down and calm yourself down.

They fit nicely together because “Just Listen” was a way of listening into people. So, when I listened into you, you opened up. “Talking To Crazy” takes it a step further. So you’re not just listening into people, you’re leaning into their, what you think is craziness, and you’re disarming them.

So, I’m going to give a tip to people and this is going to be the best part of the interview I believe. Often when I give presentations, especially to entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s kind of a throwaway and it’s not so much of a throwaway, I’m thinking of making it the centerpiece, I say to people “How would you like to get through to people who don’t want your advice or solutions and when you give your advice or solutions it seems to make the conversation worse?”

Of course, who doesn’t want that and who hasn’t experienced that, right? Everybody.

That’s right. So, when I speak to CEO groups or I will tell you, speak about whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. Even if my talks going well, they all whip out a piece of paper and pencil when I’m about to say that.

And so, here’s a way of listening into that. A lot of times we get in conflict, especially in our personal life because there’s one person who processes information where they think and they do but they don’t like to feel. When you press them for their feelings, they don’t know what they’re feeling. Many of these people tend to be left brained, analytical problem solvers but they stay away from feelings.

Then the F word is feelings. Don’t make me talk about my feelings. And on the other end are people who feel and then do and they don’t like to think. Now, it’s not that they’re thoughtless, it’s that many of them have incredible intuition. Creatives are like this and I will tell you, someone whose incredibly intuitive and incredibly creative, I will trust their intuition over big data anytime.

In fact, one of the things that Steve Jobs prided himself on, he said this on many occasions. He said “We never had focus groups. I don’t believe in focus groups.” And part of it is, he was tuning into the future of people. So, he was very much tuned into what would a future in which consumers who think that technology is just for geeks and nerds and engineers, what would a future look like where they would love technology. And so he tuned into that.

I think that’s so valuable on a lot of levels. One is when you have your pulse on the zeitgeist of what’s going on and anticipating what people will want, my favorite definition of luxury is giving somebody something they want or need even before they know they want or need it. And that’s what I think you’re talking about here is anticipating a need. And if you were to rely on a focus group and test this out, people are like “Hmmm, I don’t think I need an iPad” or whatever the new product is but he put a spin on it because he didn’t let that … “Well you just don’t know you need it yet because you haven’t seen what this one does” for example.

So that is such an insightful way of not lighting the crazy take over. So, let’s continue down that path of who do you calm people down or what’s a tip that you have for calming yourself down when you get a little crazy.

Okay, so let me finish the anecdote because I’m going to save a few marriages tonight and there are some people listening who have been sleeping in the den for three nights and now they get to sleep back in the bed.

So, if you’re a think-do person and when the other person seems to want the conversation to have more emotion in it, here’s what you do. time you’re in a conversation, you’re a think-do person and you’re with a feel-do person, you’re going to utilize something called mediated catharsis. And that’s a big, ugly word but what it means is you’re going to mediate they’re getting stuff off their chest safely that normally they couldn’t say to you because if they did, it’d start a war.

So, there you are within a person who tends to process things in a feel-do manner and what you say to that person is, in the middle of an argument, or something like that, if you can pull yourself out of being emotionally shutdown, which is what happens to analytic types, you look your partner in the eye. And let’s just call that partner, and I’m just making up a name, let’s call that partner Nancy, or I’ll just say it, I’ll use my wife’s name, Lisa because she’s more of a feel-do and I’m more of a think-do.

So, if we’re escalating, what I might say and what I have said is, while it’s escalating I’ll look her in the eye and I’ll say “Lisa, Lisa, I got a way out of this. It’s better than our usual.” And she’ll go “What?” I say “Yeah, I got a way out of this that lands us in a much better place. Just play along with me. If it doesn’t work, we can go back to where we were arguing. We won’t miss a step. Just play along with me.”

And so, what happens is, that’s sort of disarming, but I’m looking into her eyes and then I say “Say this to me” and I’m looking right into her eyes and she thinks … She doesn’t know what I’m going to say and I say “Say to me this. Mark, when you play shrink with me, you give me all these solutions and you give me advice, it feels like you’re talking down to me. Like I’m some, you know, idiot. And you may think you’re making the situation better but you’re actually making it worse. Save that for your clients.” And I say “Could you say that with a little energy?”

And she looks at me and I say “No, you can ad lib it.” What happens is, she will actually say those things, which normally if she said them without my being prepared, I get defensive about it. And what happens is she says them, I’m looking her straight in the eye and what I’m noticing, being a first class noticer, is that I notice that she’s getting stuff off her chest. I’m also noticing that I’m not getting defensive because I invited her to do it. And then what happens is, she starts to giggle. She starts to giggle because she safely gets stuff off her chest that normally she wouldn’t and as that happens, you follow me, you have mediated the catharsis.

I gotta tell you the other side. So, I was doing this with a couple and I did the reverse and a wife of an entrepreneur said to me “You know, everybody respects my husband but he’s kind of a stiff. Everybody likes me but my husband says I talk too much. You know, but people like me.” And the husband would agree with that.

And so I said “This is what you’re going to say to your husband. Next time you get into one of these arguments what does he do? “Oh, he kinda shuts down. I can see he doesn’t know what to do.” So, this is what you’re going to say to him and we’ll call him Joey. The challenge is you’re going to have to stop yourself in mid vent and that’s not going to be easy because you’re a feel-do person. But if you can pause and look him straight in the eye and he’s going to be like a deer in the headlights of a car, because he doesn’t know what to do.

And if you say to him “Joey, Joey, Joey, I got something to get us out of this. Play along with me.” Now if you just say that, he’s just going to start laughing and exhale “Oh, it’s over, great. Tropical storm is over.” But to do it completely you say “Joey, play along with me” and then you say this to Joey. And we’ll call her Joan.

“Say this to me Joey. Joan, when you start to get emotional and you start to raise your voice and when you start to say, you know, you always do this and you never do this, it makes me want to run and push my head into a wall. You make me absolutely nuts and I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. If I say nothing, it’s bad. If I say something, it’s wrong and I just don’t know what to do.

So, I had Joan say this to Joey. “Could you say that Joey?” And he’s going “What?” And she said “I’ll help you along.” And then I asked her several days later. I said “How did it go.” She said “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is, you know, it took him a few minutes to get into it but then he really got into it and he went on for seven minutes about all these things he couldn’t stand about me and all these different things. But I didn’t get defensive because I was watching, like you said, exactly what was happening. And he just went on for seven minutes. So, that’s the good news.”

I said “What’s the bad news?” “Well, since that time, he won’t stop telling me how much he adores me. He’s following me around like a puppy dog. He’s stroking my shoulder. He’s creeping me out. I kinda like him when he was a nerd.”

Oh, how funny.

And she was kinda laughing, but do you see how leaning in –

Well, I see what you just have done here Mark, which is brilliant. You took the opening of the podcast about being a first-class noticer. Gave us an example of how to listen into someone and took it into the other book of how to resolve conflict by being a first-class noticer, listening in and using empathetic listening and going inside someone’s head of their worst thoughts that they’ve never voiced but you know what they are anyway and giving them permission to voice them so that it diffuses the situation. That’s what I saw and heard. It’s pretty masterful.

That was an amazing summary. I’m impressed.

Well, I’m a first-class noticer.

No, that was really impressive, I’m telling you. Well, I’m glad we could roll with this together, as opposed to checking boxes and me being off the track.

No, it’s fantastic. Well, before I let you go, I’m going to ask you to tell us a story. It could be your favorite story or just a story that you think has a great lesson on what’s it like to negotiate with someone who’s holding someone hostage.

What’s it like to negotiate with someone whose holding someone … So what I would … No, I was a trainer of hostage negotiators.

Negotiation. Right so what license did you train the trainers? I guess, would be the better question.

My training’s were, and you can find some online. If you go to YouTube and look up FBI goulston, you’ll see an old, old training. And what I used to do with FBI and police, that all day training session that I would often be the icebreaker. So, this would get them really involved, is I would, and in this old video you’ll see it. What I did is I take off my sport jacket. Underneath it I’m wearing a police uniform and I haven’t shaved for a couple weeks. I think I put on some broken glasses.

So, these are all police and FBI. You can see them, their backs. And I go from, just like I went into Steve Jobs, I go from Doctor Goulston and I say “I’m” I forget the name “I’m Joe. I’m in your department and a year ago I’m the guy who shot the kid with the plastic gun. And I’ve been on medical leave for a year.” And then I pull a gun out. And I hold it to my neck. And I say “And unless you talk me out of it, I’m going on permanent leave and then you live with the ghost of someone that you should have been able to save and couldn’t. And this time it’s one of your own.”

And then no matter what they do, I think you can see this in the video, no matter what they do, I always pull the trigger. And then I say “This is what you didn’t say. This is what you didn’t ask that would have made me turn over the gun.”

And one of the tips that I often gave in training, and this is in “Just Listen,” there’s something that I call the magic paradox. And I’m going to end by sharing a different anecdote and talk about how you develop a lifelong relationship with a fortune 50 CEO that nobody can get through to.

I can’t wait for this.

So, I get a call from this CEO, because I was doing something on leadership, and this guy is a good to great level five leader. He wasn’t in Jim, what’s his name’s book but, he’s one of these humble CEOs. He does a great job but he’s a little bit nerdy who wants to be cool. So, if you can picture that kind of mentality.

So, I get a call and he says to me “Doctor Elmarko.” I said “Who is this?” And they told me his name and I’ll change his name and we’ll call him Jack. That’s not what his name was. And he said “It’s Jack” and I was following up and I hadn’t followed up after the Harvard Business Review made an introduction.

Not one to be outdone “I said Doctor Eljacko, how are you?” And he said “Well, I’m going out of town but I wanted to be able to set a time so we can follow-up on that conversation.” I said “Where you going?” He said “New York.” And I said “For business or work?” He said “Both.” I said “Well, when I see you, we’ll talk about work, what’s going on at home?” And he said “Well, I have a mom and she’s got Alzheimer’s and she’s in, she’s out, she’s kinda stoic and then she’s just out of it. My dad’s taking care of her, my sister’s taking care of her. You know, she was just really wonderful lady and it’s just been ravaging her and, you know, that’s just kinda what it is.”

And then, because I can be a little bit bold, I say to him, and he went on a little bit, I said “I have a direct command for you.” This is a big CEO. He said “What?” I said “I have a direct command for you. Listen to this.” And I can tell that he’s kind of angry and I said “From what you tell me about your mother, there’s no joy at that home. And when she’s out of it, your dad and your sister see how out of it she is. And when she’s not out of it, she sees how much of herself she’s lost. And from what you told, she’s a noble person. When you go see her, I want you to do something that I call the magic paradox. And what you’re going to say to her, if she seems a little bit with it, is your going to say ‘Mom, I bet you sometimes feel that nobody knows what it’s like to wish it was all over. Isn’t that true?’

Now you’re not mentioning the D, the dead word, but if it hits true, she’s going to start to cry with relief because she’s too stoic to tell your dad or your sister that she just wishes it to be over.

And then if she says that, you follow it up with this question ‘And I bet you sometimes feel that you can’t keep doing this for much longer. Isn’t that true?’ And if you do that she’ll start to cry further and you’ll be giving her a gift. She’ll be lighter. It won’t clear her Alzheimer’s but it’ll make the situation better and you’ll – and you might start to cry.”

And it gets very quiet on the phone. So, I thought he hung up on me and I said “Are you still there?” And he said “I had the car pull over and I’m writing down everything you said, exactly.”

So, a few months later, I’m meeting him in his big office. I’d forgotten that. I’d forgotten that part of the conversation or meeting. And could have kicked myself because that was the most important part of that first call. And we have a great conversation and he’s very shy. And at the end of it he says “Oh, by the way. Do you remember the conversation we had when I was on my way to New York?” And I said “Oh yeah, you mean the one with your mom?” He said “Yeah.” I said “Yeah, what about that?”

He looked me straight in the eye and he said “I did exactly what you told me to do and she did exactly what you said she’d do.” He’s a shy guy and he reached down and took my hand with two hands and he looked at me and he got a little tearful and he said “Thank you.”

Well, that is tugging at my heart strings and so moving. I think the big takeaway, again, there is, you listened into him and you helped him listen into his mother. And when you get that kind of connection with somebody they’ll be happy to do business with you, stay in touch with you, take a meeting, whatever else you might want to do with them because you touched them at the heart level and the gut level and given them a gift. And I can’t tell you enough, Mark, what a gift you’ve given me and everyone fortunate enough to listen to these wonderful insights and stories.

Thank you so much. You know, one of the things you’ve said more than once, is the key is looking someone straight in the eye, whether it’s a spouse or someone you’re engaged with in business or negotiating in a hostage situation. So that’s another big takeaway that I think everybody, sort of, intuitively knows but might forget that it’s when you really want to connect, look someone straight in the eye.

And you’ve done that with us emotionally, verbally and I can’t thank you enough. So, if people want to follow you, obviously, you have over 256 thousand twitter followers. I am certainly one of them and I can understand why other people do. And that’s strictly at your name @MarkGoulston.

Is there any, and of course you have a wonderful website. We’re going to put all the book show notes for people to buy the books. Is there any last little piece of advice you want to leave us with?

Yeah, I have a personal mission in life. The personal mission in life is healing the world one conversation at a time.

TSP 112 | How to Create Gotta Have It!

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[Tweet “Heal the world one conversation at a time.”]


What I would like more than anything is if you made a commitment, everyone listening, that at least once a week, someone in your life, or maybe even just one of these faceless strangers that you walk past. If you look them in the eye, if it’s a faceless person you might say “How you doing?”

If it’s someone you love, look them in the eye. And if you let go of any agenda, my favorite quote about listening comes from a British psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion and he said “The purist form of listening, is to listen without memory or desire.” Because when you listen with memory you have an old agenda that you’re plugging people into. When you listen with desire, you have a new personal agenda that you’re plugging people into but you’re not listening to them.

And once a week, find a person and you can say “How are things going?” And look them in the eye. And I will tell you, if you look for fear, anger, disappointment or frustration, that they’re feeling alone in, it’s always there.

And you might even say to them, as you’re looking, “Let me ask you, what was the most frustrating, disappointing or upsetting thing that’s happened to you in the last week?” And then get them to be specific. In other words, don’t bait and switch. When they tell you about it use what I call a conversation deepener.

So, when they’re telling you something about the story and say “This was really awful” or “I didn’t know what I was going to do.” When they pause say “Say more about the awful. Say more about didn’t know what you were going to do.” And if you notice you’ll see that they open up even more.

And if you have, I will tell you, if you have no agenda, other than ought listen to them and watch the relief it brings them, you might develop a lifelong relationship, which is what I have with that CEO, we’re buddies from two conversations.

I can email him anytime and I get a response within 12 hours.

Of course.

We’ll we’re going to tweet that out and I can’t think of a better way to leave this wonderful episode than just telling people listen without memory or desire.

Thanks again, Mark.


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