06 January 2024

In this episode, William Green brings back Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” an iconic book that’s sold over 5 million copies. Here, Dan talks about his new book, “Optimal: How to Sustain Personal & Organizational Excellence Every Day.” He explains how to master the skills of emotional intelligence to become more productive, more effective, calmer, & happier.

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  • Why Daniel Goleman seeks sustainable excellence, not a “flow” state.
  • How Peter Lynch illustrates the dangers of driving yourself too hard.
  • Why companies need emotionally intelligent leaders.
  • How to boost creative thinking by allowing yourself time to relax.
  • Why EQ trumps IQ in the professional world.
  • How to enhance the foundational skill of self-awareness.
  • How to become a better listener.
  • What the Dalai Lama told Dan about self-compassion.
  • How emotional self-management enhances decision making.
  • How to recover from stress & avoid burnout.
  • How to build focused attention in a wildly distracting world.


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

[00:00:03] William Green: Hi there, welcome back to the Richer Wiser Happier podcast. In today’s episode, we’re going to explore an extremely important topic that I think is critical for anyone who’s trying to build a successful career, particularly in intensely competitive fields like business and investing.

[00:00:19] William Green: The question is this, how can you perform at an exceptionally high level in a way that’s truly sustainable? I think we’ve all wrestled with this question at different times in our lives. We know that we’ve got to push ourselves hard to succeed, but how hard? What if you drive yourself so hard that you become physically or emotionally exhausted and burn out?

[00:00:42] William Green: What if you perform fantastically at work and earn a fortune, but you’re running so fast that you end up neglecting or sacrificing other aspects of your life that also matter? Including your physical health or your peace of mind or your friends and family. Over the last three decades, I’ve interviewed a lot of great investors who’ve made billions of dollars in the markets but have pretty awful personal lives that I wouldn’t really envy for a minute. As I mentioned in my book, Richer Wiser Happier, one thing that’s striking to me is just how many of the best investors have ended up getting divorced, so it’s clearly not easy to achieve great financial and professional success in a balanced and sustainable way that allows us also to be calm and healthy and happy and pretty decent to the people around us. So what’s the solution? Well, that’s really the central focus of today’s episode of the podcast, which is all about how to achieve sustainable excellence. Our guest is Daniel Goleman, who’s a world-renowned expert on high performance.

[00:01:45] William Green: Dan earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard and spent about 12 years as a science reporter at the New York Times. He then became famous as the author of a massive international bestseller titled Emotional Intelligence, which has been translated into something like 40 languages. It’s one of the most influential business books of all time because it led millions of readers to realize that emotional intelligence, or EQ, may actually matter more than IQ once you’re out of school and in the workplace.

[00:02:18] William Green: Dan has continued to build on those findings, studying outstanding performers at some of the world’s most successful companies. And also, drawing on the latest research on behavioral psychology and the brain, he’s also gone very deep as a practitioner of meditation over the last half century or so and has written extensively about the scientific research on how to use meditation to change your brain and body.

[00:02:42] William Green: The good news is that he’s now co-authored a new book titled Optimal, which explores how individuals and organizations can sustain excellence every day. In today’s conversation, Dan talks in detail about how we can apply this optimal, yet sustainable approach in our own lives. Among other things, he explains how to handle stress and increase our emotional resilience.

[00:03:06] William Green: How to manage our emotions so we can make more rational and clear headed decisions. How to enhance our creative thinking by allowing ourselves time to relax. How to become a better and more empathetic listener. how to give more effective feedback, and how to strengthen our ability to focus and remain calm and concentrated in an increasingly distracted and fast paced world where it’s easy to lose our heads.

[00:03:33] William Green: Personally, I’ve found this conversation hugely helpful, and I hope you’ll see why I’ve come to regard Dan as one of the wisest and most thoughtful people I know. Thanks so much for joining us.

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[00:03:49] Intro: You’re listening to the Richer, Wiser, Happier Podcast, where your host, William Green, interviews the world’s greatest investors and explores how to win in markets and life.

[00:04:08] William Green: Hi folks, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome my friend Daniel Goleman back on the podcast. As Dan published a seminal book, Emotional Intelligence, back in 1995, I think, which has since sold some outrageous number of copies, more than 5 million, I think, before people started to lose count and Dan has now co-authored a new book on Emotional Intelligence, which is titled, Optimal, How to Sustain Personal and Organizational Excellence Every Day, which is being published on January 9th.

[00:04:37] William Green: So we’re going to speak in some depth about how to harness the skills of emotional intelligence to become more productive, happier, more effective, and the like. Dan, it’s wonderful to see you.

[00:04:47] Daniel Goleman: William, it’s so much a pleasure for me to be with you, even by Zoom on a podcast and it’s always a pleasure. Thank you.

[00:04:55] William Green: I really appreciate it. It’s a delight. So I wanted to start by asking you what actually is an optimal state and how it differs, say, from a flow state, which is the ideal that I think a lot of us yearn to achieve.

[00:05:10] Daniel Goleman: Well, let me start by describing attributes of the optimal state and then contrast it with the flow.

[00:05:17] Daniel Goleman: When you’re in your optimal state, you’re most highly productive in doing whatever it is you do and, for an executive, it’s one thing, for a single parent of four, it’s folding laundry. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s the internal state. You feel really good that day while you’re doing it.

[00:05:35] Daniel Goleman: You’re satisfied with what you did. You’re effective. You make good decisions. You’re creative. You have a lot of small wins towards some larger goal. These are all attributes of the optimal state. I contrast it with the flow state because flow is that one time you were fantastic. You outdid yourself, but you can’t make it happen.

[00:05:56] Daniel Goleman: It’s not something that you can put together ingredients and be sure it will happen. And also, people get into kind of self-critical state. around the fact that they’re not in flow. which I think is destructive. You don’t find it in the optimal state. There’s no critical self-talk. You lose yourself in what you’re doing.

[00:06:17] Daniel Goleman: You’re fully focused, which is also a characteristic of flow. In the original research on flow, which was done at the University of Chicago, they saw that focus and concentration as an epiphenomena, a side effect of flow. We see it, and when I say we, I’m talking about myself and my co-author Cary Cherniss at Rutgers.

[00:06:37] Daniel Goleman: We see it as a doorway into the optimal state. Focusing, we can all focus better. We can learn to focus better, and I think that’s a key part of learning to be at your best.

[00:06:50] William Green: Yeah, I was struck. There’s a line in the book where you say the optimal standard lets us relax and enjoy what we’re doing without constant self-judgment.

[00:06:58] William Green: Just quiet that critical voice inside your head and focus on the task at hand. And I think about this a lot and wrestle with it a lot, because there’s a part of me that wonders about the benefits of having this somewhat brutal, self-lacerating, critical, internal voice, like this kind of extremism and then on the other hand, and I see this with great investors, right?

[00:07:20] William Green: On the one hand, I interviewed this guy, Rick Rieder, who manages something like 2.6 trillion dollars. I think he manages more money than anyone else in the world. And he basically sleeps like four hours a night, and he’s like an extreme athlete. And then on the other hand, you have someone like Tom Gayner, who I’ve mentioned to you before, who’s the CEO of Markel, who says, no, steady incremental progress is much more sustainable.

[00:07:41] William Green: And so I’m sort of torn here, like, how do you decide if, I mean, because some of these people who really want to be extraordinary, isn’t it kind of helpful to be a little brutal to yourself, a little intense, or is that just not sustainable?

[00:07:53] Daniel Goleman: Well, I think the key here is sustainability if you’re constantly self-critical, if you only look at how you screwed up, what you did wrong and how to do it right, and that’s actually a diagnostic for being a perfectionist.

[00:08:07] Daniel Goleman: And perfectionism is great on the one hand and terribly self-destructive on the other. The way it’s great. is you’re always pushing yourself to do better. The way it’s not great is you’re always pushing yourself to do better. And what I mean by that is you see, you focus on what you did wrong, not what you’re doing right.

[00:08:30] Daniel Goleman: It’s, and sustainability means you do what you’re doing right all the time and relax about it, instead of getting anxious or uptight or self-critical about what you could do better. It’s not that you don’t continually approve, but you don’t beat yourself up, and it’s the beating yourself up. For example, if someone is sleeping four hours a night and working all the rest of the time, what’s happening in their personal life?

[00:08:57] Daniel Goleman: Do they have a series of marriages that end in disaster? Do they see their kids? Do they see the people they love? Do they have time or schedule time to do the things they love to do? That’s an important question because it has to do with how the body is wired. Our body is meant to arouse itself, experiences maybe getting upset or getting maybe angry or dissatisfied or anxious, and then recover from that because it takes a toll, it takes a toll on your health directly.

[00:09:29] Daniel Goleman: When you’re upset, it means that you’re secreting adrenaline, cortisol, stress hormones. And they eat away at your immune system, they have very bad effects on your cardiovascular health and they may help you get the job done in the short term, but they’re not sustainable in the long term. So I really advocate a sustainable best, that optimal state.

[00:09:55] Daniel Goleman: rather than pushing yourself to be better than I ever could be.

[00:09:59] William Green: Clearly that applies for most of us who just want to be really good at what we do. Does this apply also to the sort of one off, slightly freakish, brilliant types who, because if you’re an Elon Musk or you’re a Steve Jobs or you’re a Serena Williams or something, do you not need to be pushing yourself to the absolute extreme? Or is it, I mean, are there rules where this almost doesn’t apply because you’re so extreme as a high performer?

[00:10:30] Daniel Goleman: Well, let me ask you a question, William. You have interviewed in your wonderful book Richer, Happier, Wiser, I think it’s called.

[00:10:38] William Green: Thank you. You did way better than Charlie Munger who said, richer, wiser and so forth, which I thought was a lovely.

[00:10:44] Daniel Goleman: So you interviewed people who were enormously successful as investors. Are they uptight about it? Are they driving themselves? Are they more relaxed? Let me ask it a different way, what is the necessary ingredient in success in that domain?

[00:10:58] William Green: It’s a very interesting conundrum, because there are people like Peter Lynch, who’s legendary from Fidelity, who really, he said to a friend of mine, Bill Miller, who’s a legendary investor early in Bill’s career, he said, look, There’s really only one gear or maybe two gears.

[00:11:13] William Green: There’s sort of full speed ahead and then stop. And so Peter Lynch went at this blazing pace for about 13 years, beat the market, had this legendary outperformance, and then was kind of done and had to retire and has been out of the game just as a sort of elder statesman and an author for decades and so in some ways, it’s sort of, that example would affirm what you’re saying, that it’s hard to sustain that blistering pace, but then there are people like this guy Will Danoff, who’s a legendary investor at Fidelity, one of Peter Lynch’s successors actually. Who, I remember when he met Bill Miller, something like 30 years ago, Bill held out his hand, and they’re good friends now, and he said I will, nice to meet you, and Will Danoff didn’t extend his hand and said, I’m going to beat you, man, I’m going to beat you.

[00:12:02] William Green: And so I think there is some aspect of that success that is this ferocious intensity and drive. And then, and so I’m really wrestling with this question. I don’t have a, I don’t have a strong bias either way.

[00:12:16] Daniel Goleman: It raises the question of what’s true wealth. Is it just how much money you make or how, what kind of life you live? Or both? And can you make a ton of money and have a rich life? Or is it one or the other? Or is it, I personally would rather have a satisfying life and satisfying accomplishments. and be the like tip top of the game.

[00:12:42] William Green: It’s interesting because I mean, in many ways you are the tip top of the game as a nonfiction author. You, you’ve had enormous success, but I wonder if You don’t have the same intensity as some of the authors who are just sort of pumping out stuff and care about their brands and stuff. It feels like you’ve always had this meditative life, this balanced spiritual life. So, you’re an unusual case yourself, aren’t you?

[00:13:06] Daniel Goleman: Perhaps so. I mean Many people who have a business bestseller, and I had a series of those, then start a company or try to market something based on that. I never did that. And I always thought it was more interesting and more satisfying to have time for retreats, have time for my family than to go off and, kill myself trying to get a business going.

[00:13:32] Daniel Goleman: So, yeah, I might be an unusual case. On the other hand, I’ve studied companies, organizations that are highly successful. This is different than highly successful investors. This has to do with whether the leader is emotionally intelligent, whether they can pervade the organization at different levels of people being also emotionally intelligent.

[00:13:55] Daniel Goleman: And it turns out that correlates with business success. I’m thinking of progressive, used to be progressive insurance, now just progressive. They’re famous for this series of commercials that’s been running for more than two decades with this woman, I forget her name, who represents progressive. But during that time, the person who was in charge of customer relations to the people that actually sell insurance was a huge advocate of emotional intelligence.

[00:14:24] Daniel Goleman: He said, look, this is a relationship business. We have to manage our relationships well, and I think that takes emotional intelligence. So we offered training to his people and what’s important is he was someone from the business side saying this matters here. And I think that’s crucial too. If it’s only from HR, forget it.

[00:14:44] Daniel Goleman: And by the way, this matters to investors. I’ll tell you why. There was just an article in one of the recent Harvard Business Reviews aimed at investors that said, it’s not enough just to look at the numbers, which is very standard and investing. Look at the people too because if you want long term success, you’re going to want to have effective leadership and you want to have effective people at every level.

[00:15:11] Daniel Goleman: And it’s human capital too. That’s what the article said. You can’t, in this day and age, everyone’s looking at the numbers. Look more deeply, look in the organization and see what kind of leadership they have. Are they going to be there for the long run? It’s kind of the tortoise and the hare. Can they have a spectacular quarter or quarters?

[00:15:33] Daniel Goleman: Do they do it by burning people out? In emotionally intelligent organizations, when you have a performance review, they ask, not only did you get your numbers, how did you get your numbers? Did you do it in a way where you stress people out? Did you do it in a way? Where are your most talented people going to want to leave because they hate you? That’s an important question.

[00:15:54] William Green: I thought it was interesting also you mentioned briefly in the book at dinner that you’d had with Mark Benioff, the CEO and founder of Salesforce, and he talked about the four Q’s, right? I don’t know if you remember this is so this thing Q it includes IQ, so obviously intelligence, and then he talked about EQ, obviously emotional intelligence, that’s your great expertise, but then he also talked about CQ, creative intelligence, and then SQ, which he talked about as purpose and spiritual intelligence.

[00:16:24] William Green: How do you, I mean, having spent time with someone like Benioff and spent time, At Salesforce, sort of seeing a little bit of the culture there. How does he sort of lend credibility in a way to this argument that it’s got to be about more than just sheer drive and intensity?

[00:16:40] Daniel Goleman: So, Mark is an interesting case because I think he has both strengths. I think he drives himself but he takes time to relax. He meditates every morning and that’s an important part. His spiritual life is important to him, too. And I see that in data in terms of whether someone who’s in a leadership position can articulate a higher purpose or mission. that resonates, that they believe in, that moves them and articulate in a way that resonates with other people.

[00:17:14] Daniel Goleman: That is inspiring and we have data that shows it creates the most positive emotional climate and that’s how you get the best out of people.

[00:17:23] William Green: You also have a very interesting quote in the book from Cicero, the Roman statesman and author who I had to read as a teenager in Latin, no less. I can’t remember any of it.

[00:17:35] William Green: So he was born, I think, about 160 BC or something, and there’s a beautiful quote that’s attributed to him, and like most quotes, we have no idea whether it actually was him, but he said only the person who learns to relax is able to create, and for them, ideas reach the mind like lightning. I thought that was fascinating as well, that you, if you’re so intense that you never take time off, it’s actually, it’s going to be hard to have that kind of creativity.

[00:18:01] Daniel Goleman: The research on creativity says Cicero was right. In this respect, if you ask successful entrepreneurs, and I’ve seen data on this, how do you make decisions? They say that they gather information widely, actually more widely than other people would. Other people might not bother with things that don’t seem relevant.

[00:18:22] Daniel Goleman: You never know. So, the first stage of creativity, research shows, is to get all the best information you can get. And then the next stage is counterintuitive. It’s let go. It’s relaxed. Go for a walk because that lets another part of your brain engage, which actually has wider connectivity. And then you can, you’re more likely to come up with two elements that are useful, that are applicable.

[00:18:49] Daniel Goleman: that have never been put together before. That’s the creative insight. And then you go back to that first mode to execute on it. So, Cicero, when he says you should relax, is talking about letting this other part of the brain take over. And the research on creativity is very clear that it’s in this other state, this relaxed state, where you’re much more likely to have the creative insight. During the shower, or while walking the dog, or whatever it may be.

[00:19:17] William Green: I don’t know if you’ve come across this guy Brad Stahlberg, who wrote a book called The Practice of Grandness, which I’ve only dipped into, but I gather is very good, but he was chatting to a friend of mine called Chris Stout on, on a podcast called Living a Life in Full, and Chris is a psychologist and a super, super smart guy, wonderful guy.

[00:19:35] William Green: And they were discussing the psychoanalyst, D. W. Winnicott, who you’ll know infinitely more about than I do. And Brad was talking about this concept of good enough that he’d drawn from Winnicott, where Winnicott had said, the best type of parent isn’t a helicopter parent who’s constantly kind of hovering and trying to prevent any misstep from the child.

[00:19:58] William Green: But it’s not a negligent parent either. And so, I wrote down something from this podcast conversation between Brad Selva and Chris Soutwep, that I wanted to run by you where Brad basically takes this philosophy of parenting from Winnicott And then he says, I started to think that this philosophy can apply far beyond parenting.

[00:20:16] William Green: Imagine if we took that to all of the big projects in our lives, and even our own unfolding. So instead of trying to always fix things and problem solve and immediately come in like the helicopter parent, what if we were good enough? What if we gave things a little more time and space to unfold? And again, this doesn’t mean being negligent.

[00:20:33] William Green: Far from it. It doesn’t mean not caring. It means releasing from the heavy weight of perfectionism and obsession in favor of good enough. And what the research shows unequivocally is that even if you are concerned with being great, the best way to be great is to be good enough over and over again and then suddenly one day you wake up and you’re great.

[00:20:52] Daniel Goleman: William, that’s just another way of articulating the main point of the book Optimal. which is it’s good enough to sustain excellence every day, not to kill yourself or kill the people who are working for you by pushing them and stressing them or stressing yourself or criticizing yourself.

[00:21:09] Daniel Goleman: And the good enough concept is pretty powerful. One reason it matters is that children and teenagers need individuate, which means take risks. in their personal life as they grow, try something new. And if you’re the helicopter parent, you don’t let them. You want them to do the thing that, the piano lessons or whatever lessons after school until they go to bed or they do their homework for hours.

[00:21:35] Daniel Goleman: Children and teens need to be able to explore too, not just to do the, that routine that the helicopter parent wants them to do. And that’s, the good enough parent lets that happen, and I think a good enough leader lets that happen, too.

[00:21:53] William Green: And it’s interesting, because I look at someone like Tom Gaynor, who I mentioned before, the CEO of Markel, who talks about being radically moderate and just having steady incremental progress, and he’s still pretty extreme.

[00:22:03] William Green: It’s not like we’re talking about not caring. I mean, I think even when you’re talking about optimal, it’s not a low standard. It’s just a more feasible and achievable standard than thinking we’re going to achieve some sort of elusive, enigmatic state of flow very regularly.

[00:22:20] Daniel Goleman: Well, what it means is that you’re effective every day. You’re productive every day. and just as with an investment, you want it to be effective and productive over time. in a sustainable way. You don’t want to have big peaks that then have big drops. And so I think that the wisdom about what makes people effective also applies to the market, what makes a stock pick effective.

[00:22:48] William Green: Yeah, it’s in some ways it’s about sustaining excellence over very long periods of time. I remember Rich Roll, the extreme athlete who then became a lawyer, I think. And as a podcast, he said something that really struck me about how. It’s basically about being the person who slows down the least, but you somehow have to just keep going for a hundred miles slowing down the least and that is a little bit like being a CEO or a little bit like being an author.

[00:23:15] William Green: Right? Because, I mean, I was very extreme in the approach to Richer Wiser Happier the book and didn’t take a vacation in five years. And when I was done, I was just spent and it’s actually quite hard to motivate myself to write another book because I was just so beaten up. And so, in a way, I’m a good example of someone who is getting the benefits and paying the price for being an extreme obsessive perfectionist. This is maybe why I’m belaboring this point because it’s something I really wrestle with a lot.

[00:23:46] Daniel Goleman: So, to put the question another way, can you be outstanding and not kill yourself, not drive yourself to desperation? There was an article in the excellent journal Science called the Neurobiology of Frazzle.

[00:24:02] Daniel Goleman: And what it’s talking about is what sounds like you did write this book, which is, every day. You get stressed out, and you don’t schedule in recovery. You just keep going and keep going. Some people may be able to do that for a period. I don’t know that anybody can do it all their life.

[00:24:21] Daniel Goleman: Because as I said, the stress hormones are going to eat away at your health and create kind of fuzzy decision making, actually. I think it’s counterproductive, but getting in that state all the time and never allowing yourself to recover means you become emotionally exhausted and burn out.

[00:24:41] Daniel Goleman: And how do you pursue excellence and not burn out? The interesting question, for example with these exemplars of driving themselves is, well, what do they actually do in a day or in a week? Do they have some time to recover? Do they do something that helps them not get into frazzle? Or do they just have a constitution? Maybe these are unique individuals genetically. We don’t know that.

[00:25:09] William Green: I somewhat wondered if Rick Rieder, the guy I mentioned before who manages the enormous amount of money at BlackRock, I wonder if there is something almost different in the way that he’s wired. Like, it is kind of extraordinary that he’s managed to sustain it.

[00:25:24] William Green: And I wonder also if someone I don’t know, like an Elon Musk, if they are just wired differently, if it is a little bit like being an extreme athlete. But I feel like for most of us the realm of sustainable excellence is a that’s a happier and better goal to aim for. So, so anyway, I wanted to dig in much more deeply to the book and the tools, because I think.

[00:25:49] William Green: You’ve studied the four domains of emotional intelligence in such detail, such depth, over the last 30 years and you’ve got a lot of data, and a lot of practical experience, how it works, and so, in a way, I want the heart of this conversation to be helping our listeners to figure out How to build an emotional intelligence advantage so that they can function well in work and in life by harnessing these ingredients of high performance, but I figured it might be helpful before we go in depth for you just to give us a quick overview or review of what the four domains of emotional intelligence are so that Then when we go into them in some detail, people will know, okay, this is this is where we are in this journey.

[00:26:31] Daniel Goleman: The first domain is emotional self-awareness, knowing what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, how it shapes your perception, you’re thinking, your impulse to act. Second domain is self-management. That means getting your disruptive, distracting states under control, that’s anger and anxiety, for example.

[00:26:53] Daniel Goleman: And at the same time, marshaling the positive. Which is keeping your eye on the long term goal despite daily distractions, being nimble, agile, and adjusting to changing circumstances, staying positive, and that’s where the mindset is very important, seeing yourself as able to improve and other people as able to improve, not just dismissing yourself or others as you are today, but realizing, I could get better.

[00:27:18] Daniel Goleman: The third domain is empathy, and here it’s important to realize there are three different kinds of empathy each instantiated in different circuitry in the brain. The first is cognitive empathy. I know how you think. I know the terms you use. I know how you see the world. And because I know the terms you use to explain reality or a situation yourself, I can talk to you effectively because I can use those terms.

[00:27:43] Daniel Goleman: I know you’ll understand. The second is emotional empathy. This is based on what in social neuroscience we call the emotional brain and the fact that brains are designed to link to the brain of the person we’re with and create a silent, automatic, instantaneous, unconscious bridge. which tells you what the other person is intending and what they’re feeling.

[00:28:10] Daniel Goleman: So you know what the person feels because you sense it too. And then the third kind of empathy, which is little discussed, but I think should be brought to people’s attention more, is what’s technically called empathic concern. It’s not just that I know how you think and I know how you feel. That’s great for marketing, say, I also care about you.

[00:28:31] Daniel Goleman: That is the mark of a great leader. If you feel that your boss cares about you, has your back, wants what’s best for you, is going to coach you or mentor you to develop further strengths, you have intense loyalty. It really makes you feel good about the situation you’re in. and the fourth domain of emotional intelligence is what you might call social skill.

[00:28:54] Daniel Goleman: We think of it as relationship management. It means, for example, being able to inspire people. Being able to coach them, being able to mentor, being able to persuade or guide someone else. Being able to sense when there is A disturbance in the room, there’s an upset that you can, it’s simmering that you can surface and help both sides come to some agreement.

[00:29:17] Daniel Goleman: And also, it’s being a great team player. Very important. Teams that exhibit emotional intelligence at the group level. It looks a little different, but it means that they have all of the key attributes of emotional intelligence, and you can pick it up in how people on the team relate to each other.

[00:29:36] William Green: Before we dive into these things in some detail and figure out how to improve our performance in each of these four domains.

[00:29:43] William Green: I just wanted to step back and ask you about your, really how the data has proven to you over the last three decades that these emotional intelligence strengths and skills actually matter greatly in terms of personal success and effectiveness, because when you started out, my sense is that this was a hunch that you had, it was a sort of intelligent guess, but you didn’t have the data.

[00:30:06] William Green: And it seems like now you have an enormous number of studies and data that actually, for a former science journalist at the New York Times and the like, and a science author, give you kind of confirmation of what your hunch was.

[00:30:21] Daniel Goleman: That’s 100 percent correct. When I wrote the book in 95, Emotional Intelligence, it made intuitive sense, but we had no data.

[00:30:28] Daniel Goleman: It was only in 1990. That the first journal article called Emotional Intelligence appeared. It was written by a friend of mine, Peter Salovey, who is now the president of Yale. He was a junior professor then, and he wrote it with a graduate student. And it was highly speculative, too, because they had no measure yet of emotional intelligence.

[00:30:46] Daniel Goleman: IQ has been around for more than a century, and there’s tons of data showing that IQ is a terrific predictor of how well you’ll do in school. Turns out to be a pretty poor predictor of how you’ll do in life over the course of your career. That’s where emotional intelligence kicks in. Consider this for a lot of professions, you need to get an MBA or advanced, say, engineering.

[00:31:10] Daniel Goleman: You need an advanced degree. That’s the threshold ability, threshold competence. But it means everyone else is about as smart as you are. And for example there’s a study of engineers where they’re asked, rate other engineers on how effective they are as engineers. You do it anonymously.

[00:31:28] Daniel Goleman: And it turned out that those ratings had zero correlation with IQ and very high correlation with emotional intelligence. How do you manage yourself? How do you handle your relationships? That’s what makes you good in this. And I think that’s what makes you a leader in an organization, at least an effective leader.

[00:31:46] Daniel Goleman: I think it’s what makes you an effective team member or head of a team. So, emotional intelligence matters more over the course of your career and over the course of your life than it does during your school years when you’re being graded on IQ.

[00:32:02] William Green: It’s also really interesting that you mention in this new book that despite the fact that we now realize how important emotional intelligence is, MBA programs, for example, are really doing next to nothing to develop these emotional intelligence skills.

[00:32:16] William Green: And you cite one study that said that I think roughly 4 in 10 leaders had paltry strengths in these emotional intelligence competencies.

[00:32:27] Daniel Goleman: A friend of mine was a research head at an executive. hunting firm and they were interested in why people who looked really strong as candidates who they recommended got fired.

[00:32:41] Daniel Goleman: And they did a study around the world and they found, well, they, their business expertise, all of that analytics skills very high, but they were invariably fired for a lapse in emotional intelligence. And this just tells you that you need both. It’s not that it’s one or the other, it’s both and I think that many companies and too many companies and organizations don’t understand this.

[00:33:05] Daniel Goleman: There, in the book we look at some outstanding examples of companies where this really matters. For example, MD Anderson, which is the world’s number one place for cancer treatment. The head of that organization and the training people. understand the value of emotional intelligence. The, I mentioned progressive, where the head of the customer relations unit exposes the importance of emotional intelligence.

[00:33:34] Daniel Goleman: It’s very important, I think, that someone from the business side champions this, and that HR, or the training and development people, offer an opportunity to strengthen it. That’s a winning combination, I think.

[00:33:47] William Green: Yeah, Satya Nadella, you mentioned as well, Microsoft came in with all guns blazing, talking on his first day, I think, about the importance of emotional intelligence.

[00:33:57] Daniel Goleman: Yeah, he called it empathy and that is another point, which is that the culture of organizations and businesses varies tremendously. And the emotional intelligence is pretty much embedded in the DNA of many organizations, but by different names. You may call empathy leadership presence, not empathy, but it’s basically the same skill.

[00:34:21] William Green: All right, well, we’ll go through these four domains. in some detail talking about how to upgrade various tools that we can use to upgrade our own performance so we become optimal. We may not be in flow, but we’re going to be optimal by the end of this episode. So the first domain is self-awareness.

[00:34:42] William Green: And so, if you could explain, even before we start, like, why emotional self-awareness is at the very core of emotional intelligence? Why is it the foundational skill that you need to activate all of the others?

[00:34:57] Daniel Goleman: Because all the others depend on that. If you don’t have self-awareness, you can’t manage your emotions well.

[00:35:03] Daniel Goleman: They just come to you. You don’t see them coming. You don’t know what, you don’t even realize you’re in the grip of anger or whatever it is. Empathy, same thing. If you are tuned out of a range of your own emotion, you’re not going to pick it up in other people. And the relationship skills depend on all three.

[00:35:21] Daniel Goleman: They build on the other three with emotional intelligence as a foundation. We have research, for example, that shows of 12 competencies that are based on emotional intelligence, which you see in outstanding performers, outstanding leaders. If you are poor in self-awareness, you’ll be poor in, say, 10 of those 12, you might be good in one or two.

[00:35:45] Daniel Goleman: But if you’re strong in self-awareness, you’re likely to be good at many others.

[00:35:48] William Green: So there are various tools that you write about in order to build greater self-awareness. You mention things like an inner check in, a body scan, monitoring self-talk, naming your emotions. Can you discuss those in a little more detail?

[00:36:02] William Green: Give me a sense of what you would do if, like me and many of our listeners, you’re thinking, well, I’m reasonably self-aware, but you know, how do I build this? How do I use these techniques that you’re describing?

[00:36:16] Daniel Goleman: So self-awareness requires a special kind of attention. It’s not that we notice what we’re thinking and feeling, but we have a platform from which we can kind of be meta and see it come and go.

[00:36:31] Daniel Goleman: And one of the effective tools was actually developed at Yale. They have a center for emotional intelligence. Where you practice naming what you’re feeling. It turns out most people are pretty poor at that. We have kind of gross names. I guess I’m getting angry now, but we don’t have a kind of refined vocabulary, but it turns out because of the way the brain functions, that if you can name what you’re feeling, then the cortex, a different part of the brain activates, and the part that’s getting you so upset right now is less active. So that’s one way.

[00:37:08] William Green: And they developed a mood meter, right? I mean, there was this guy Mark Brackett from Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, there’s some guy, and I remember my son Henry has a t shirt that has like pictures of something like 50 different moods, it’s like I am angry, I am sad.

[00:37:23] Daniel Goleman: Exactly and you can get better and better at And I think the fundamental of any of these development methods is practice. It’s like developing any skill, and by the way, this is very important, the way you strengthen emotional intelligence is through skill building. It’s like building, it’s like practicing your golf stroke.

[00:37:43] Daniel Goleman: It is not like cognitive learning in academia. In cognitive learning, you have a preexisting network, cognitive network of understanding and you plug in the new thing, how to subtract if you’re a seven year old or how to add if you’re a five year old, and that’s a different method of learning, but to get better at it, Any aspect of emotional intelligence, I think you have to be motivated.

[00:38:08] Daniel Goleman: It has to matter to you. One of the ways this is done sometimes is to ask someone where do you want to be in five years? What would help you get there? In other words, you want the motivation to come from within. You don’t want someone to feel like, oh man, my boss said I have to go to this training and you’re already not going to learn anything if you have to.

[00:38:30] Daniel Goleman: So, first of all, you want to want it. Second, you, it helps to understand what would help you get where you want to go. Third, can you engineer that into a particular behavioral sequence? I’ll give you a common example. Many people, particularly leaders, are poor listeners. By poor listener, I mean, you interrupt people.

[00:38:52] Daniel Goleman: You talk over them. They come in, they want to talk to you about X, you want to talk to them about Y, and they talk for, 18 seconds. This is what they found with physicians and patients, by the way. And then you take over the conversation. That’s a terrible habit, if you want to be a good listener.

[00:39:08] Daniel Goleman: If you want to really be able to empathize and understand the other person, so you might have a behavioral sequence to practice like when someone comes to talk to me and it could be your teenager, by the way, the brain doesn’t really distinguish between work and life. I’m going to listen and then I’m going to say what I think they meant and then say what I think that is a new behavior and it’s like, learning a golf stroke.

[00:39:33] Daniel Goleman: It’s at first, it’s awkward. It doesn’t feel comfortable. The more you practice, the more comfortable it gets until there’s a neural landmark where the new behavior is practiced so much, it becomes automatic. That means a different part of the brain is taking it over, the basal ganglia, where habit is. And that’s going to stick with you.

[00:39:55] Daniel Goleman: That’s not going to go away. I sometimes, I’m often asked to give keynotes at companies and so on. And one of the things I have to say is, you may learn something from this, you may get a little motivated, it won’t last. This is not development. This is why this matters. So you need to then, another step is practice at every naturally occurring opportunity.

[00:40:20] Daniel Goleman: Like with your teenager or with someone in your office and get support, if you can get a coach, great someone who’s going to help you because you’re sure to have bad days. The day you blew it, I went back to my old way. I was pressured, whatever. Then you use that as a learning opportunity.

[00:40:36] Daniel Goleman: What can you do next time this happens to be sure that you do it right? And then, but if you practice, you’re going to hit that neural landmark where it becomes automatic.

[00:40:47] William Green: I thought it was very interesting on this subject of becoming a better, more active listener that you said in, in the book, you described this one technique where you said In difficult situations, for example, where you’re trying to understand the other person’s perspective, you should really hear the person out, then repeat back to them in your own words what you heard, and then ask, did I get that right, or did I misunderstand, and then let them speak freely.

[00:41:12] Daniel Goleman: Yeah, because the other person is then feeling heard, feeling felt, that’s very important to that person. It means they know you’re paying attention, you respect them, you even if you may not agree with them, you want to know what their position is and that validates the other person. And if you’re the leader, that’s very important.

[00:41:37] Daniel Goleman: One of the things by the way, about groups that we find in our research is that at Google, when they looked at their top teams, they called it psychological safety in the work of my colleague, Vanessa Druskat, who studies high performing groups, but she calls it belonging. If you feel you belong.

[00:41:54] Daniel Goleman: So, for example, if you have a diversity and inclusion goal in your organization, as many do these days, it’s not enough just to have X number of Y people, because that’s what the general demographic is in the population. That doesn’t mean that those people feel they belong. It’s much more important to be welcoming, to listen, to be respectful, and give that person a sense that, yes, I belong here. That really accomplishes the goal.

[00:42:22] William Green: So to finish off this idea of self-awareness as this foundational skill, there are other tools you mentioned, for example, doing some kind of in a check in or scanning your body, which I, and there, obviously the famous neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio talked about having a sense of your somatic markets, the, can you talk a little bit about that?

[00:42:48] William Green: Because this also very much relates to investing where. The best investors have this really powerful sense of what their body is telling them about the state that they’re in, and whether they’re in a state where they’re maybe too emotional, maybe they’re too fearful, or maybe they’re overexcited and or they’re hungry or they’re jealous, or something like that.

[00:43:11] William Green: And so they have these kind of. So they have to tune into their bodies and their emotions so that they know when they’re in a suboptimal state to make a rational decision.

[00:43:21] Daniel Goleman: The somatic markers is basically just sensing how your body is feeling. And here it’s helpful to know what your triggers are, when you’re more likely to get into a state.

[00:43:34] Daniel Goleman: That isn’t optimal for making a good decision because an investor has to be clear at it. And so you want to sense something building before it takes you over. It might be, oh, I got that feeling in my stomach again. I’m getting anxious or I’ve got the sense in my knees and I’m getting angry. I think that’s a skill that is a skill of self-awareness for sure.

[00:43:56] Daniel Goleman: And that helps, when you’re about to get into a state. where your emotions are taking you over, and you should never make a decision, let alone an investment decision, from those states, because it’s not your clear headed decision. Another way to, another dimension of self-awareness has to do with how your sense of yourself matches with how people see you, and that means getting input from other people, usually anonymously, you don’t, very few people will be candid with you, and say you’re this kind of person.

[00:44:29] Daniel Goleman: Or I think you’re too uptight, or you get angry too much. People don’t want to tell you that. They want to preserve the relationship, particularly if they work for you. So anyway there are many measures. They’re called 360 degree measures. I have one, the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory. It’s managed by Korn Ferry and it evaluates people anonymously.

[00:44:51] Daniel Goleman: You get to pick, say, the half dozen or ten people whose opinions you respect, who know you well, who are going to rate you anonymously, so they can be totally honest. You won’t know what they said about you, but you get an aggregate, and it gives you a profile of what your strengths and limits are, and you can match that with how you rate yourself. And it turns out the better that match, the more effective a leader will be.

[00:45:17] William Green: Okay, so self-awareness also, I guess there’s also this aspect of monitoring your self-talk. So you can see when you’re beating yourself up. I found this yesterday. I made a hash of my preparation yesterday and the day before for this interview.

[00:45:32] William Green: And I said, and I just did it in a really inefficient way. That meant I had to go and redo something for several hours. And I found myself yesterday literally like swearing at myself and being like, you idiot but with swear words added. And it’s really, I think I’ve become more aware over the years of when my sort of violent self-talk towards myself is a cue to be aware of like, something’s going on here.

[00:45:57] William Green: Something is amiss. Can you talk about that? It’s very uncomfortable and it’s slightly embarrassing, but I think it’s such an important insight into our state.

[00:46:08] Daniel Goleman: Another aspect of self-awareness is monitoring what you’re telling yourself. In cognitive therapy they say something wonderful, you don’t have to believe your thoughts.

[00:46:18] Daniel Goleman: In other words, some of those thoughts, like, you really blew it, you’re an idiot, just are not helpful. Some of those thoughts, like, I didn’t do that well, let me try again, is helpful. And you want to make the distinction between whether your thoughts are helping you or hurting you. And the self-criticism is generally hurting you. But the ability to see where you could improve is helping you.

[00:46:46] William Green: I feel like it was some ancient technique that we figured out where probably we had disappointed our schoolteachers and our parents and then we beat the hell out of ourselves and we improved and then everyone told us we were great after all.

[00:47:01] William Green: And so we somehow, when we were young, we internalized this idea of, if I just beat myself up enough, I’m going to be really good. And then you get to a point later in life where you’re like, really, do I actually have to live that way?

[00:47:13] Daniel Goleman: I hope you get to that point anyway.

[00:47:15] William Green: At least now I noticed that I’m doing it. And it’s a way I mean, I remember, Sylvia Borstein, who I’m sure you’re friendly with, the great old Buddhist teacher, who I remember listening to her giving a talk where she said, I’m sorry, sweetheart, you’re suffering right now. And she would say this to herself. And that’s a little bit how I feel in that. It’s a way of me pausing and saying, oh, God, I’m sorry, you’re suffering right now.

[00:47:40] Daniel Goleman: That’s really wonderful as an antidote because what it says is you’re self-aware, you’re recognizing when you’re beating yourself up, and B, you’re applying an antidote, which is being kind to yourself instead of beating yourself up and that’s a wonderful skill, internal skill to practice, and it’s a skill of self-awareness because you can only do it if you recognize the moments. When your self-talk is being destructive.

[00:48:06] William Green: And if I can put in a mention of a book that I actually think is terrific again Probably by someone, Kristen Neff co-wrote this book the self-compassion work book that I think it again She’s a is an academic at the University of Texas Austin in Texas or Texas in Austin and she’s a Buddhist student and a psychologist and the like, and I just think she’s really smart about using these gentle methods with yourself that I think make you more sustainable than using the self-lacerating approach that some of us learned growing up.

[00:48:39] Daniel Goleman: I was once in a dialogue with a Dalai Lama when he was shocked to hear that people in the West were contemptuous of themselves, hated themselves. He couldn’t, he didn’t, in his culture that wasn’t really known and he was shocked and he said, you need a new word in English. This was in the 80s.

[00:48:57] Daniel Goleman: Yeah, the word is self-compassion and that’s exactly what Neff has then taken up. I don’t know that she knew about that. I’d recommend a book by my wife actually, Tara Bennett Goldman, Emotional Alchemy, which talks about the 10 most common self-defeating emotional patterns and what to do about them, how to bring this kind of self-awareness. To seeing when they’re taking us over and then changing what we do and how we think about ourselves. I think that’s very powerful.

[00:49:27] William Green: Yeah, I’ll second that. She’s terrific. I mean, I have the book and have met her many times, thankfully. Thanks to you and she’s terrific and also, it’s worth saying that Tara has played a very important role in helping to shape Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s teachings about how to deal with these difficult emotions.

[00:49:45] William Green: And so, The last time that I had you on the podcast was when we chatted with you and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, this great Tibetan Buddhist master, meditation master and teacher about this aspect of how to deal with what he calls your beautiful monsters and what Tara talks about a lot in her book. So and these are all methods, William, for enhancing self-awareness.

[00:50:07] William Green: Yeah, and so let’s get to domain two, which in a way, I’d like to dwell on in more depth than some of the others, because I think it’s so practical and so important to us, which is these techniques for self-management.

[00:50:20] William Green: And so can you start by giving us a sense of why this kind of emotional self-mastery is so critical? If you’re, particularly if you’re going into a field. Where cognitive skill counts very heavily like investing or writing or teaching or like why is emotional self-mastery and balance so critical?

[00:50:42] Daniel Goleman: So let’s reverse engineer that a moment and look at the times and the state you get into when you’re least effective when you make bad decisions. It’s times when your emotions are driving how you think. Emotions are very critical in terms of self-mastery for several reasons. One is that.

[00:51:02] Daniel Goleman: Emotions direct your attention. The thing you’re upset about, the thing you’re angry about, the thing you’re anxious about is where the brain shifts your attention. If you’re going to make a good decision, you want to be clear of that. You don’t want to be emotionally driven. You want to be balanced. It’s not that you don’t want your emotions at all.

[00:51:28] Daniel Goleman: Of course you do, but you don’t want them to take you over. You don’t want them to be driving how you think about anything. And so, emotional self-management, which is key in this second domain of emotional intelligence, means that on the one hand, you can manage upsetting emotions well. The definition in the lab of resilience.

[00:51:55] Daniel Goleman: Is the time it takes you to recover from peak upset to back to calm and clear. And the faster you do that, the more resilient you are. You can’t determine what you’re going to feel or when you’re going to feel it or how strongly you’ll feel it. Emotions come unbidden from a deep part of the brain but you can decide what you do once you feel it, that’s where self-management comes in.

[00:52:20] Daniel Goleman: And there are many methods here, but it’s not just handling disruptive emotions, distracting emotions, it’s also marshalling the positive emotions. Remembering what matters to you. What’s your long term goal here? Despite the distractions of the day, where are you heading? Also are you handling the times that you get thrown off because of changing circumstances?

[00:52:47] Daniel Goleman: And by the way, circumstances are always changing. Tech. Social trends, everything is changing all the time, and you need to sense what’s going on, but not be thrown by it. So that has to do with being agile, being adaptable staying clear despite the changes, and then staying positive, basically, because a positive frame of mind is your best frame of mind for making good decisions.

[00:53:14] Daniel Goleman: I don’t mean being overly optimistic, but I mean not being downbeat, not being pessimistic. Seeing that things always change, and tomorrow’s a new day.

[00:53:25] William Green: And you mentioned some of the famous research of Martin Seligman, right? Who was famous for talking about learned helplessness, right? Where you would get tortured or whatever and at a certain point, you’d become, like this blubbery mess, and there was just nothing you could do.

[00:53:39] William Green: And I had, I don’t think, that phrase obviously appeals to me, it’s a very interesting concept. I never noticed the phrase that you mention in the book, which is learned optimism. Which is sort of the opposite that Seligman talks about and you talked about using phrases like I can learn and grow better, or I can’t do that yet, or can you talk a little bit about how to, because obviously this is very related also to Carol Dweck’s writings about the growth mindset. These are all just old wines in new bottles. But it’s really important this idea of how to develop a positive outlook so that you can be more resilient.

[00:54:15] Daniel Goleman: So Seligman in his research found that there were certain categories of thoughts that made people depressed.

[00:54:21] Daniel Goleman: Like, I can’t do this. I’m worthless. Life is pointless. These are actually kinds of things. I did some research years ago on with notes left by people who committed suicide, and they were full of this kind of thinking, which is depressionogenic and what Seligman realized was that he could help people counter those thoughts.

[00:54:45] Daniel Goleman: This is by the way, fits with Dweck’s research on growth mindset. The idea that I’m no good, which is going to make you depressed, is a fixed mindset. But he saw that you could have what Dweck would call a growth mindset, which is to see yourself as able to change, as able to improve, as able to be better.

[00:55:05] Daniel Goleman: And in fact, you might, if you took stock, you might realize, Oh, yeah, actually, I’m not so bad. People have told me this and that, which was good, which is a thought you suppressed when you were in that pessimistic, depressed state. And these are the kinds of countering. This is, by the way, a basic of cognitive therapy too.

[00:55:27] Daniel Goleman: And it was cognitive therapy was developed at Penn also by a Seligman colleague Aaron Beck and the idea is simple. It’s that remember you don’t have to believe your thoughts, particularly the depressionogenic thoughts, the one that are making you feel bad about yourself. And you can counter them by telling yourself, well, I’m not so bad when you’re thinking you’re bad.

[00:55:50] Daniel Goleman: You may need, and I know a cognitive therapist who has clients write down the counterthought. Because the down thoughts are so prominent and they’ll have a little card that’ll tell them, Oh, actually, I’m pretty good. Oh, I can grow and change. I could, in other words, things you can remind yourself of in that moment that counter the depressing thought.

[00:56:15] William Green: I feel like this is particularly important at the moment in our era because there’s almost an epidemic of gloom that you particularly see with the younger generation. I, my daughter who you’ve met, Madeline, is 22, and my son, Henry, is 25 and I see their age group, not them in particular, but people they know who read the news and read about global warming and the like and wars and the like and they’ve almost like, convinced themselves that everything is going to hell and it’s all kind of pointless, and I was chatting actually to someone in the very nice cafe where you and I sometimes meet, the Red Barn Bakery, which I’m happy to advertise here in Irvington. I was talking to someone there, and she said one of the reasons why for that generation, for her generation, it’s so hard for them to commit to a relationship, is they’re almost like, well, what’s the point?

[00:57:05] William Green: Do you see that a lot, like that sense that there’s so much gloom that it kind of has to be counteracted?

[00:57:12] Daniel Goleman: I think that gloom is understandable. I think that the news the climate news is full of bad reports. So if you’re 20 and you’re thinking of having kids by the time you’re 30 that means by the time all these dire things are predicted, your kids are going to be in a very bad situation which by the way, gets me to an idea I wanted to run by you, but here’s an opportunity.

[00:57:42] Daniel Goleman: I think there’s a smart business strategy here. I’ll tell you what it is. Younger people, which is a demographic companies want to capture as loyal customers over the course of their life. Younger people more than older people today are going to value concrete moves that a product or company makes toward lessening their footprint, the carbon and so on and if there were an impartial evaluator so I could compare this cup versus that cup or this, these snacks versus those snacks for their climate or ecological imprint. And by the way, that footprint is not just carbon eight systems that support life on the planet, all of which are in dire straits and getting worse.

[00:58:36] Daniel Goleman: If you could see that this product is doing it better than the other product, if you knew that at point of purchase, just the way you know cost, I think it would create a market share improvement for those products that are doing something about it. And, companies have to chase market share, so that might be a way to use the existing system of incentives and to change a system, you have to understand the incentives to have companies rethink how they make their things, what services they offer, what their footprint is in a better direction.

[00:59:15] Daniel Goleman: And I think the younger demographic would drive that. I don’t think that the data today shows it, but I bet it’s going to happen tomorrow.

[00:59:23] William Green: Yeah, I tend to agree. I see with people in their 20s and 30s, this tremendous drive to live a more purpose driven life and I think for a lot of people. There’s a lot of, there’s a big backlash against the environmental, social, and governance movement that I think is a little bit crazy, the backlash. I mean, maybe the pendulum swung too far in one direction, or maybe Wall Street was too cynical and exploiting stuff where they promised and hyped things but didn’t actually live up to them, but I think this is here to stay, because when I see this younger generation, I think, if you want to hire them and you want to retain them, they’re less likely to go work for a company that doesn’t care about these things. They’re more likely to stay loyal to a company that is slightly more idealistic or stay with a company that doesn’t do it well now and help them get to doing it better.

[01:00:17] Daniel Goleman: Yeah, I agree with you. I think purpose, a sense of purpose or a mission is more and more important and with the younger generation, that mission tends to be more and more around the environment.

[01:00:30] William Green: Yeah. To get back to this issue of managing our emotions, which I think is so hugely important. One, I mean, you do talk about the importance of having a sense of purpose as one way to deal with stress and the like and to become more resilient. But I wanted to talk a little bit about stress in general, which clearly there’s an epidemic of, and you quote a survey in the book showing that I think 38% of people in the workplace experienced high levels of burnout in 2022.

[01:00:59] William Green: Another study found that 16% have had to quit a job due to stress and so clearly stress in many ways is a major enemy of getting into an optimal state, which, and so it’s going to mess up our judgment, it’s whether we’re investors or business people or in our relationships with our family and friends, it’s going to mess up our health, it’s going to lead to burnout, unhappiness, all of these habits that you mentioned, like, overeating and over drinking and sleeplessness or whatever and absenteeism and low productivity and like, so it’s clearly a scourge.

[01:01:30] William Green: So let’s talk about how to deal with it. What your work in this arena of emotional intelligence tells us about how we can actually lessen stress and regain some sense of emotional balance. What can we do?

[01:01:44] Daniel Goleman: Well, we’re not helpless at all but if we’re driven to emotional exhaustion or driving ourselves in that direction, we need to notice that’s happening.

[01:01:55] Daniel Goleman: That’s where self-awareness comes in and the body is actually wired for stress. It’s the emergency response. Everybody knows this. You’re their stress hormones make your limbs activate, they get more blood, your organs, your immune system gets less blood during the emergency. Now the problem is if that emergency is chronic, this is the nature of stress today, then you’re lowering your immune resistance, you’re ruining your health basically and even though you may be able to arouse yourself to meet.

[01:02:35] Daniel Goleman: The stress of the moment, the body’s not designed for that. The body’s designed to have a big emergency reaction, stress arousal, we call it, and then recover. and if you slight the recovery, you’re driving yourself to exhaustion. And one of the main ways to fight stress. is a, the old what can I change in the situation?

[01:03:02] Daniel Goleman: Maybe you can change it. Maybe not. Maybe you can lessen it. Maybe if you’re a leader, you can redistribute the load. I don’t know. But the other is managed yourself, manage your internal reaction to the reality you face day in and day out. And that means do what it takes to recover. And it might be going for a walk.

[01:03:23] Daniel Goleman: It might be meditating or yoga or spending time with someone you love or playing with your kids or your pet, it doesn’t matter what works for you. Schedule it. Make it part of your day. Make it part of your routine because it always looks like it’s a waste of time. It’s not. It’s crucial because it lets you go back into the fray, restore it, and you can be more optimal than if you had never done it. That’s for sure. You can make better decision.

[01:03:56] William Green: You’ve gone deep on a lot of these things in your own life. I know that you’ve been meditating since you were a junior at Berkeley, I think more than 50 years ago. And so you’ve thought a lot about meditation and breathing and the like and you mentioned a bit in the book a deep breathing technique that can actually shift your physiology.

[01:04:18] William Green: 4, 4, 4. type of breathing. Can you talk about that? Cause it’s a very, it’s a very practical kind of intervention when you’re in a state.

[01:04:29] Daniel Goleman: Two things. One is meditation is really attention training. I’ll get back to that. That’s a kind of slower way of preparing yourself to handle stress.

[01:04:41] Daniel Goleman: It’s like going to the gym every day and working out. You become more fit. And if you practice an attention training method, you get more focused. So we’ll get back to that. The 4, 4, 4 method is sometimes called box breathing. It’s used by rangers or, military who are about to go into a stressful situation.

[01:05:02] Daniel Goleman: They teach it. But the research shows it shifts physiology from what’s called the parasympathetic nervous system arousal. I’m sorry, sympathetic nervous system arousal, which is when you’re stressed out and upset. to a parasympathetic, which is the recovery mode. And it goes like this, it’s so simple.

[01:05:22] Daniel Goleman: You breathe in, I teach a count of four, but I say breathe in as long as it’s comfortable, hold your breath for as long as it’s comfortable and then exhale slowly for as long as you can and if you do that six to nine times, it actually shifts your physiology from that stressed mode to recovery and relax.

[01:05:47] Daniel Goleman: So that’s one thing you can do if you know you’re about to go into a stressful situation. On the other hand, I would say buff up your attention, your focus, because the more focused you are, it turns out the same part of the brain that helps you focus makes you more calm. So it’s a twofer and tension training can be as simple as saying I’m going to pay attention to my breath, breathing in, breathing out and full attention to every breath, and whenever my mind wanders, I guarantee it will, and I notice it wandered, I’m going to bring it back to the breath.

[01:06:22] Daniel Goleman: That’s like the brain equivalent of a rep in the gym. Every time you bring your focus back to that place you want it to be, your breath or task at hand, you’re strengthening the circuitry for focus. And that’s another way to manage stress. So you’re less reactive. You’re, there are three dimensions of a stress reaction.

[01:06:46] Daniel Goleman: One is how often you get stressed upset and this makes people less often likely to get upset. The second is how deeply it happens, how upset you get and this method is people become more calm and less likely to have an extreme upset. And the third, I mentioned, that’s the quickness of your recovery, your resilience, and this helps people be quicker in recovering from the upset.

[01:07:13] Daniel Goleman: I thought it was really interesting as well you cite a classic study that I think is from something like 2010, that’s called A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind and that connection, that sense that we’re sort of adrift so much of the day, and that it’s not, yeah, it’s not just that it’s unproductive, it’s that it’s actually a pretty miserable place to be in.

[01:07:35] Daniel Goleman: This is a really interesting study that was done at Harvard. They gave people an app for their phone, which rang them at random times a day and says, what are you doing? And what are you thinking about? Just those two questions. And how do you feel? And what they found was that peoples were, people were distracted from what was going on about 50% of the time.

[01:07:56] Daniel Goleman: By the way, it was 90%, 3x during a commute, sitting in front of a video screen and at work. Sorry to say, it’s true. People are thinking about something else and if you’re thinking about something else, you’re not fully focused on what you’re doing, right now. And they also found that the more distracted you were, the less happy you were.

[01:08:20] Daniel Goleman: When we’re lost in our thoughts, we tend to, the most distracting thoughts are the most emotionally powerful ones. That thing he said to me, why did he say that? It’s so upsetting. Why didn’t she answer that email? It doesn’t matter what it is, that’s where your mind is going to go.

[01:08:36] Daniel Goleman: We’re wired that way in evolution, to reflect on what didn’t go right. But on the other hand, that’s not a helpful habit these days. So that’s part of self-awareness, realizing where our mind is going.

[01:08:50] William Green: This Harvard study about the perils of a wandering mind is particularly timely in a sense because we’re all wrestling with technology and the massive influx of distracting seductions and seductions.

[01:09:05] William Green: I mean, I have a desktop computer, I have a laptop computer, I have an iPhone, I have an iPad, and on them, I have instant access to my email, my text messages, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, I mean, everything, podcasts, Spotify, FaceTime, it’s kind of a marvel that I actually ever do anything, and so, how given what you know about attention and focus, because you’ve written a book that I’ve read before about focus as well, which is on my Kindle as well.

[01:09:35] William Green: There’s another device. How can I break this habit of falling down these rabbit holes and dividing my attention in just so many unhelpful ways?

[01:09:46] Daniel Goleman: Well, when they did that study in 2010 not everyone carried a phone with them every moment of the day. Now many, or most people do and phones can be very helpful. I love to Google things I don’t know at the moment and they’re our worst enemy because all of our seductions are right there in our hand. The things that turn you on, the things that anger you, the things that make you uptight and anxious, you can get in a moment. And so, phones feed distractedness.

[01:10:17] Daniel Goleman: Remember, it’s the emotionally laden thoughts that are the most distracting and if you want to have a full focus on what matters right now, you want to put aside those distractions. So I, actually I think this is one reason that it’s important to teach kids today how to focus, how to handle emotions, how to basically emotional intelligence and there are courses that are called social emotional learning, SEL, and it’s in many schools.

[01:10:47] Daniel Goleman: I went to a classroom in Spanish Harlow, very impoverished part of Manhattan and I was told half the students in that class had ADHD, attention deficit disorder. And I expected the class to be chaotic, and it wasn’t, and I asked the teacher why, and she said, well, every day we do this, and they did what the kids call belly buddies.

[01:11:13] Daniel Goleman: One by one, the kids got their favorite stuffed animal from their cubby, found a place to lie down, put that animal on their belly, and watched it rise on the in breath, fall on the out breath. Rise on the in breath, fall on the out breath. When their mind wandered off, they noticed they wanted, they brought it back to the next breath.

[01:11:32] Daniel Goleman: Basically, this is attention training for kids. And I think it, we need it today more than ever because the distractions are ever present and more powerful than they’ve ever been in human history. And I think we need to arm kids with better focus today. And much more so than when you and I were kids.

[01:11:54] William Green: You mentioned that in many ways, one definition of maturity is being able to widen the gap between the impulse to do something and the act itself. And this is something I think Viktor Frankl talked about, right? That in that gap, in that space is the choice as to whether we’re going to do the thing that we kind of know is harmful to us.

[01:12:13] William Green: Yeah, probably in the long run and I’m kind of wondering in practical terms, given how much you’ve learned over the years from the science, but also how much you’ve learned. From your meditation practice and studying Buddhism and the like, which you’ve drawn a great deal in your personal life.

[01:12:30] William Green: How you deal with this? Because I find like many of our listeners have a pretty stressful life, right? I’m juggling too many things. There are lots of things coming at me. I’m balancing multiple projects and always have a sense that I’m sort of dropping half the balls that I’m juggling. I’m probably not even aware of what they are.

[01:12:48] William Green: And I, I can see that there are times when that stress just is quietly it’s giving me a very I’m surprised at how quickly I lose my temper and become irritable, and I think because I’m a sort of polite, repressed Englishman the anger seethes deep below the surface, the frustration, and then I find there are certain situations where I’ll be walking with my wife or something like that, and we start to talk about, wait, so who’s going to be here when Verizon comes and is putting in the new internet?

[01:13:18] William Green: And I’m like, how can I change? How can I handle all this when I’m preparing for my interview with Dan and I’m doing this and I’m doing that, and I, suddenly I’m just sort of overwhelmed by these emotions and it’s like the storm has come and before I know it, I’m behaving in a way that I don’t like and then I feel guilty because my wife is so sweet and so patient and tolerant after 30 years with me.

[01:13:39] William Green: How in practical terms, do you deal with these difficult emotions like anger, irritability, or sadness or whatever it is that’s your particular poison that’s going to flare up in that moment so that you’re widening that gap and not having to act on it.

[01:13:57] Daniel Goleman: So, Frankel I think was the first to, as I know, to articulate the idea now commonly accepted that the longer the gap between impulse and reaction the more mature a person is, you could say.

[01:14:12] Daniel Goleman: And the ability to manage impulses, technically called cognitive control when you have kids. You can see this part of the brain coming online, typically between ages five and seven.

[01:14:27] William Green: If you think about a toddler It’s coming in late with me, Dan.

[01:14:31] Daniel Goleman: I’ll get there. Yes. If you think about a toddler, they’re all impulse. They’re all whatever whim and they act on it. If you think about an eight year old, they’re much better at managing emotion. Yeah, now with a kid, you can help them increase cognitive control through simple things like saying you can watch this TV after you do your homework. Delaying gratification is in effect, a lesson in cognitive control.

[01:15:02] Daniel Goleman: When we’re adults, it’s actually never too late. I find that I’ve I haven’t by any means mastered I never, it’s not that I never become angry. I never become anxious. It’s just that I notice it’s been happening less and less and I think that’s probably a result of practicing meditation every morning, which is what I like to do and the data suggests, yes, that’s true that people who have a habit like that tend to be better at managing their emotions.

[01:15:35] Daniel Goleman: But there are a lot of individual differences and I can’t guarantee that, as I said, emotions come unbidden. We can’t determine what we’re going to feel, when we’re going to feel it, or how strongly. The question is, what do we do once we feel that way?

[01:15:49] William Green: So, you also mention at some point in the book writing a trigger log, which I’d never really encountered as an idea, which I thought was very interesting, of actually keeping a log where you’re reflecting on what it triggered you and how you reacted and what would have been a more effective response. I thought that was a really interesting idea.

[01:16:09] Daniel Goleman: That’s something they do. There’s a Daniel Goleman emotional intelligence program. It’s online. You can access it. It helps you develop these abilities, these skills, that really and one of the things they do is start by getting a trigger, making a trigger log, journaling.

[01:16:28] Daniel Goleman: What is it that sets me off habitually? Why, what is it that keeps happening over and over again that makes me so upset? This is really useful information because then you can, if you see it’s going to come, you can prepare for it better. If you see it just happen, you can think about it, well, how can I manage it better the next time?

[01:16:49] Daniel Goleman: When you realize you’re in the throes of that, and you know you’re upset because of that trigger, you can tell yourself, for example, remember that set of countering thoughts, because it’s the thoughts that, the trigger starts in your brain that come with it, the true, that then create the feelings that are going to make you do something that you regret later.

[01:17:11] Daniel Goleman: That’s the hallmark of an emotional hijack. You have a very sudden reaction, emotional reaction. It’s very strong. And when the dust settles, you say, oh, my God, why did I say that? Why did I do that? And you have a lot of regret. So those are the things that you want to track. Because it turns out that we each have our favorite set of triggers.

[01:17:33] Daniel Goleman: We probably learned them early in life. We don’t think about them. They just happened to us but being able to see them gives you leverage over them that you’ve never had before.

[01:17:44] William Green: And you mentioned that the definition of resilience is how quickly we recover from upset. Exactly, so in terms of like actually recovering from that hijacked state when you’ve been overwhelmed by emotion and you’re just sort of, it’s like the dust is kind of settling. What do you do actually to recover afterwards other than apologize to your wife?

[01:18:06] Daniel Goleman: So, before you have to apologize to your wife, you might do what they say is good in cognitive therapy, which is to remember the counter thoughts. So, he’s not treating me fairly. That’s a common trigger in the workplace.

[01:18:21] Daniel Goleman: I’m not being given credit for my ideas. Well, maybe you remind yourself that, well, I’m not the only one that feels that way. It’s kind of systemic here or whatever the counter thought might be, but it’s going to be a voice in your head. that calms the voice that’s upsetting you. And it’s important to know what your range of triggers is, because that allows you then to come up with the internal strategies that are going to help you when you see it’s happened again.

[01:18:51] William Green: I think also there’s a lovely lesson that I learned from a friend of yours, Sharon Salzberg, the great mindfulness meditation. And actually, I saw her a few months ago with you and sort of stopped her and said to her, thank you, because this has helped me so much. She would say, let go with self-compassion and begin again.

[01:19:13] William Green: And I find that so helpful in my own life, and I talk to my kids about this, like, when you screw up, to let go with self-compassion and begin again, because There’s this, you were talking before about how, every day you should have an excellent day and stuff, and it’s like, well, I’m constantly falling off track, and I’m like, and then I kind of, mad at myself, and to give myself that clean slate of letting go with self-compassion and begin again, it’s like, okay, yeah, I screwed up again, I’m human, and now we start again.

[01:19:40] Daniel Goleman: Well, that’s beautiful, because you’re not blaming yourself if you use that strategy. You’re saying Yeah, I screwed up. People do screw up, but I don’t always screw up. I’m actually pretty competent here. That’s the self-compassion voice. And now I’m going to try again. I’m going to keep going. I’m not going to end it because I screwed up.

[01:19:59] William Green: So the third domain of emotional intelligence is empathy, which we’ve talked about a little bit already as a critical component of optimal performance and I was very struck by a story that you told in the book about someone called Dr. Helen Reese, I think is at Harvard Medical school.

[01:20:18] William Green: And you talked about how she would get medical residents to become more empathetic. Can you talk about that? Because it’s such a beautiful example of, in a sense, practical ways to I can remind you of the quote because I’ve probably read the book more recently than you. I don’t know what she does. Well, I’ll read you the line that she said and maybe then you can break this down for us.

[01:20:42] William Green: She said, residents are urged to make eye contact with their patients, recognize the patient’s feelings by reading their facial expression, and be more likely to mirror that expression on their own face, and listen attentively and without judgment. Even better, and this is something you write, you say, even better, name what the patient feels and respond in a way that shows understanding in a soothing tone. That’s good advice for any parent or leader.

[01:21:08] Daniel Goleman: I rest my case. So what you’re doing, by the way, this is really interesting. Paul Ekman, who’s a world expert on facial expression of emotions, has come up with a learning exercise. It’s online. Anyone can do it. Where in about 45 minutes, you retrain your brain to be better at recognizing feelings as expressed on the face and Dr. Reese, Helen uses this, I don’t know if she uses Ekman’s, but what she’s doing is telling medical residents something It’s easy to forget if you’re rushed, and today in medicine, doctors are more rushed than ever. Their time is pretty hectic and that is to give your patient the sense that he or she is being listened to, being heard.

[01:21:55] Daniel Goleman: This is that third element of empathy, caring. It’s not just that I know what you’re feeling and tell you, but you’re going to feel that I care about you because I pay full attention to what you feel and I’m saying what I think that is. It turns out, a study that was in JAMA, the Journal of American Medical Association, doctors who don’t do this are more likely to be sued for medical errors than doctors who do, given the same error. This is rather amazing, but it means that the patient feels the doctor cared. They’re doing their best, and I’m not going to be angry and go to court with them. But I also think, and there’s other data that suggests this, it means that the patient is more likely to do what’s called compliance, to do what the doctor says you need to do between our sessions to take care of yourself.

[01:22:48] Daniel Goleman: Take your medicine. Don’t eat food X, whatever it may be. One of the big problems in medicine is that patients don’t comply. They don’t take their medicine. They don’t do what the doctor tells them to do. And medicine is not medicine giving medicines, but it’s also getting patients to change lifestyle to remember to take medicine, for example.

[01:23:11] Daniel Goleman: So, when Helen Reese is saying to medical residents, pay full attention, she’s also overcoming a habit which is true of leaders generally, or I should say the most powerful person in any diet, parents, which is you start listening to the person, the other person, and then you interrupt and you take over the conversation.

[01:23:32] Daniel Goleman: You direct it where you want to go, not where the person is concerned would let you go. And this is very poor medicine. I saw a study. They ask people in a doctor’s waiting room, how many topics do you want to ask your doctor about? Average four. Then after the session with the doctor, how many did you ask?

[01:23:53] Daniel Goleman: Average one and a half. Why? Because doctors and leaders generally have poor listening. So good listening, paying full attention is at the heart of empathy.

[01:24:05] William Green: Yeah, I’m really hard increasingly with our phones there. There’s something kind of distracting us. So often you’re in a conversation with them, their phone is on the table or that, and I don’t know if you’ve found this yourself, but I find increasingly when I meet someone who has a problem and they’ve gone through something difficult and you’re talking about it.

[01:24:25] William Green: In the past, I would feel like, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. They just went through this really difficult thing. And then gradually over the years, now I’m in my fifties, where I got slightly wiser. I just realized just stopping and acknowledging it and being like, I’m so sorry you went through that.

[01:24:40] William Green: That’s such a really difficult thing. It sounds like such an odd thing, but I think there’s something about our deep need just to have our pain. And our challenge is just noticed for someone just to sit and listen and say, oh yeah, sorry, that was your experience. I’m so sorry. That was your experience.

[01:24:57] Daniel Goleman: Yeah, I think that in itself is rather healing for people to sense that you’re listened to, cared about, understood. Very powerful in any situation.

[01:25:09] William Green: Yeah, it’s a weird thing because you feel almost impotent in helping people in most of these things. And actually I think sometimes, yeah, we just want it to be recognized that it was difficult that we were suffering.

[01:25:18] William Green: When people are going through grief because someone they love died. It’s not that you can change the fact that the person died, but you can listen to them and understand that the grieving, that itself is helpful to the person. It’s not that you’ve changed the situation, but you were empathic.

[01:25:38] William Green: Before we move on to the fourth topic, you mentioned an important technique for boosting empathy and you describe it as an expanding the circle of caring exercise. And it’s a mental exercise that actually Sharon Salzberg is kind of a master of and Buddhists will call it a meta exercise or a loving, loving kindness meditation.

[01:25:58] William Green: Can you describe it? How to use this mental exercise? Because I think it’s a. It’s a very powerful technique and it’s something that in your book, Altered Traits you could show really scientifically the impact of this kind of exercise actually on the wiring of the brain.

[01:26:16] Daniel Goleman: I like to think of it as the circle of caring. Where you bring to mind someone who’s been kind to you in your life, who cared about you, a parent or a teacher or whoever it might be, a friend, and you wish them well. You wish that they be happy that they not have suffering that they have a healthy, thriving life. You wish that silently with that person in mind.

[01:26:44] Daniel Goleman: And then you bring that same focus to yourself. And wish that for yourself. And then to people you love, your closest circle. And then to people you know but are outside that circle. People in your vicinity, in your area, and finally to everyone everywhere. Now this is you could say an exercise in compassion, but we’ve found in research that the brain wants to have this kind of loving kindness attitude and that the circuits for it get stronger pretty quickly, surprisingly quickly and the more you do it, the stronger they get.

[01:27:22] William Green: And this book altered traits that I mentioned that You wrote with Richard Davidson, your old friend, who’s a famous neuroscientist, I think, at the University of Wisconsin. He was doing brain scans of great practitioners using this kind of technique. People like Mingyur Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s brother.

[01:27:41] William Green: What for cynics who look at this and think, ah, this is kind of hokey, I’m never going to do this. What did you actually see in terms of the brain circuitry? When people use this kind of empathy building exercise.

[01:27:55] Daniel Goleman: Well, we’ll take Munger. he Was rather spectacular. The circuitry for compassion in his brain. Increased its activity by seven or eight hundred percent, which had never been seen in neuroscience before, that a voluntary shift in mindset could activate the brain to that great degree and basically, we find that the more you do this kind of practice, The stronger the circuits for that remember the third kind of empathy, caring, become.

[01:28:30] William Green: One of the great lines from Charlie Munger, the Buffett’s partner who just passed away just short of his hundredth birthday. One of his great lines that I think about a lot is he just said, take a good idea, take a simple idea, and take it seriously, and it strikes me when you come across a good idea like, like this, like doing this kind of circle of circle of caring, expanding the circle of caring meditation exercise, whatever you want to call it, or, doing an exercise to pay attention to your breathing so you become more focused, like when you find these tools that are clearly powerful that the data shows work you want to find one or two of them that really deeply resonate for you and then go big on them and then use them kind of consistently over a long period of time.

[01:29:16] William Green: Can you talk about that? Because it seems to me there’s, with all of these things, as you would put it, there’s a dose response. There’s something about using them consistently over time that seems to be extraordinarily powerful, cumulatively.

[01:29:29] Daniel Goleman: Well, what we found really underlines, underscores the importance of practice. We found that the more you do it, one of the better the effect. The more you do it, the better the effect. One of the metrics that we used, or has been used commonly, is lifetime hours of practice. And you would ask the same of a tennis pro. How many hours a day have you practiced your stroke?

[01:29:53] Daniel Goleman: You’re sure and they can give you an answer to that. You ask a meditator how many hours of the day and for how long over a month or year or whatever. Do you meditate and you get a score. And we found there was a pretty strong correlation between the hours you put into practice and the impact, the way your brain functions, the many different metrics actually.

[01:30:23] William Green: The fourth domain and the final domain is relationship skills, managing relationships. And this is clearly very heavily related to leadership skills. Yeah. You’ve written at some length in the book about how important it is for leaders to have more empathy, to become better listeners. One of the things I was very struck by in terms of, how leaders need to get better with emotional intelligence tools was how to give better feedback.

[01:30:54] William Green: And you wrote very interestingly about the regular difficulties that people get themselves into when giving feedback. Can you talk about that as a kind of emblem of how to be a better, more emotionally intelligent leader?

[01:31:07] Daniel Goleman: So the worst way to give feedback is the way it’s most commonly done, which is a once a year performance review where you kind of sum up in a year. The best feedback is actually in the moment because if you can help a person see that what they’re doing is counterproductive and what would be better right then, you’re basically coaching them. You’re helping them. It’s the growth mindset. You’re helping them improve.

[01:31:32] Daniel Goleman: You’re helping them develop their skill set. So I would say feedback that is not just critical, like, oh, you really screwed up that time but acknowledges a weakness and then follows that with what would be better. What that makes it a learning experience for the person and that I think is a much more constructive kind of feedback.

[01:31:56] Daniel Goleman: There are people who are, we call them pace setters in our research whose outstanding people you mentioned a few maybe, who are just amazing individual performers, who then expect everyone else to be as good as they are. Nobody else is as good as they are, by definition. If you’re a leader in an organization, you have unevenness, you have, everyone has their profile of strengths and limitations in this domain and you do not want to give feedback, which is dismissive. You’re bad at X and that’s it. That is the maybe that’s the way you got so good. Cause you looked at what you did wrong all the time. You didn’t celebrate what you did, right. But if you want to be a leader who motivates people, you want to celebrate wins and strengths as well as weaknesses.

[01:32:50] Daniel Goleman: So you want feedback that acknowledges what went wrong but also says what to do better. I mean, the worst way to start a meeting, it turns out, is to ask for people to talk about the metrics of their performance. The best way is to remind people of the mission that matters to all of us about what we’re doing.

[01:33:13] Daniel Goleman: And we have interesting brain research done at Case Western that says that if you give performance feedback that focuses on what a person did wrong, which sadly is too common they become very defensive. They’re not creative. They don’t want to take a risk. They get too cautious. If you tell people what they did right you get quite the opposite effect. Then you get the best, you get an optimal state rather than people going into a crouch, defensive crouch.

[01:33:46] William Green: So again, in a way for organizations, and a big part of the book is how to create emotionally intelligent organizations. It’s about creating some degree of psychological safety for people, whether they’re not feeling attacked and the like.

[01:34:01] William Green: It’s a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, a sense that you can make mistakes, that you can learn, and the like. And I think that last element is critical, too. That you give people opportunities to get better, to improve. You have a training development program which is robust in this area, rather than minimalistic, as it too often is.

[01:34:24] William Green: Where people can go through a systematic course of improvement, whether it’s coaching. If they’re at the top of the house or through a HR’s program, if they’re a middle management, whatever it may be. You don’t want to just say you can get better at this, but you also want to say, and here’s how and when you look back on your own life, you’ve obviously had to handle a lot of partnerships, a lot of, I mean, you’ve co-written books you’ve had business partnerships where people have commercialized your research. You’ve gone into companies to collaborate. I give them advice as a consultant.

[01:35:03] William Green: You’ve been married, you’ve had raised a son, I think. What have you figured out over the years in terms of your own ability to handle these relationships better where you look back and you think, God, I wish I’d known this at the time I would have done this much better. Like, what can we learn from your own experience in terms of getting better relationships and collaborations?

[01:35:27] Daniel Goleman: I think I’m still learning. You’re asking the wrong person. You should ask my wife. Because I have, and we all do, cognitive bias when it comes to thinking about my own strengths. So for example, in working with other people, I found that it’s very helpful to articulate implicitly or explicitly what matters to this group.

[01:35:52] Daniel Goleman: What’s the big meaning here? What’s the underlying purpose of what we’re doing and also to celebrate that at the outset, which I think marshal’s people’s best motivation. I have six grandchildren. I think I was what they call a good enough parent, not outstanding, but not bad. And I’m very happy with how my grandchildren are turning out.

[01:36:16] Daniel Goleman: I would suggest that my kids either are doing okay or made very good choices in their wives. I have two sons. So I think that it’s a learning curve and it’s a learning curve for us all.

[01:36:28] William Green: I wanted to ask you about one final thing before I let you go, Dan, where you talk at one point you talk about joyful exploration.

[01:36:36] William Green: And this kind of spirit of joyful exploration and creative thinking, and you talk about having met people like Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, who in some ways embodies it. Can you talk a little bit more about the importance of just this spirit of curiosity? and Joyful Exploration, which I think must have run through your work over the last half century or so, because you’ve gone in, in somewhat unexpected directions over the years.

[01:37:03] Daniel Goleman: Yes. Joyful curiosity. I would say curiosity, or looking into things I didn’t know much about, because it mattered to me, has been a driver. I’m basically actually a writer and you are too, and I write about what I want to think about, and I think it’s a great I would say I’m lucky to be able to do this to Explore where I want to go and I find pleasure in it, so it’s, that curiosity itself is joyful.

[01:37:39] William Green: I feel in some ways when I look at your career, one of the things that I love about it is that you’ve also brought together these very disparate things as part of that exploration, so in your own life away from work, you were studying a lot of Tibetan Buddhism and the like, and then in your work as a science writer, You were discovering all of the ways in which these Tibetan Buddhists a couple of thousand years ago had figured stuff out about the mind and the brain that turned out to be true.

[01:38:07] William Green: I think that’s a, there’s a fascinating kind of underlying arc in your life where you’ve brought together these two great passions where you were very, you were so open minded that you were exploring this thing that hadn’t yet been proven scientifically about how these ancient practices, These meditative practices could benefit you and then you wrote this wave of figuring out how the science backed up what these ancient paths had figured out.

[01:38:37] Daniel Goleman: So over the years, actually, I didn’t start with Tibetan Buddhism. I started with probably TM or one of those, then segued to what’s called Vipassana or mindfulness, and then I found Tibetan teachers to be particularly inspiring but this is my next book, William.

[01:38:57] William Green: Thank you. Well, I hope you’re going to come back and talk about that. Is there any final word of advice you want to leave us with, Dan, for our listeners who are thinking about how to build emotional intelligence skills, like if they’re really serious about becoming truly skillful about this? Is there any last word of advice you’d like to leave them with?

[01:39:18] Daniel Goleman: I think there are three aspects of emotional intelligence that matter to everyone. One is self-awareness, one is managing your inner life, and the third is empathy, sensing what other people are feeling and thinking. All of them matter, and all of them can be improved.

[01:39:38] William Green: On that note, Dan, thank you so much. It’s always such a delight speaking with you. And I really appreciate your patience in answering a million questions.

[01:39:46] Daniel Goleman: Thank you so much. It’s always a delight to talk to you, William. Thank you. My pleasure.

[01:39:52] William Green: Thank you.

[01:39:53] William Green: All right, folks. Thanks so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Daniel Goldman.

[01:39:58] William Green: If you’d like to learn more from Dan, you may want to check out our two previous conversations on the Richer Wiser Happier podcast. In 2022, we had an incredibly rich discussion that focused primarily on how investors can learn to manage their emotions more effectively, which is clearly crucially important for any investor.

[01:40:18] William Green: That episode was titled The Emotionally Intelligent Investor. Then in 2023, Dan returned to the podcast, along with a wonderful Tibetan Buddhist meditation master named Tsoknyi Rinpoche, to discuss a book that they’d coauthored titled Why We Meditate, although the book really deals with a lot more than that title would convey.

[01:40:37] William Green: I’ve included links to both of those conversations in the show notes for today’s episode, along with links to various other resources that I hope you’ll find helpful. I’d also strongly encourage you to read some of Dan’s books. He’s written about 13 of them. The most famous, obviously, is his seminal book on emotional intelligence, which is great and important.

[01:40:57] William Green: It’s also worth reading his new book, Optimal, which I think is particularly valuable if you’re in any kind of leadership position. I’m also a big fan of a book that Dan coauthored called Altered Traits, which explores the scientific evidence that meditation has a really profound impact on your mind and brain and body.

[01:41:17] William Green: Whenever I chat with Dan, it strikes me that he’s a living advertisement for the many benefits of meditation because he always seems exceptionally calm and present and also very compassionate and amiable and cheerful. He’s become a really great role model for me, and I sometimes joke that he’s what I want to be like when I grow up.

[01:41:40] William Green: In the meantime, please feel free to follow me on X or Twitter @WilliamGreen72, and as always, do let me know how you’re liking the podcast. It’s always a real pleasure to hear from you. I’ll be back very soon with some Gerrits, a renowned international investor. who played a starring role in my book, Richer, Wiser, Happier. Until then, stay well, and take good care.

[01:42:05] Outro: Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday, we teach you about Bitcoin and every Saturday, we study billionaires and the financial markets. To access our show notes, transcripts, or courses, Go to This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


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