Marshall Goldsmith: Buddha for Women Entrepreneurs

At Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), we support the positive trend of empowering women in entrepreneurship. Specific groups including MyEO Women of EO encourage support as individuals pursue their unique entrepreneurial journeys. In 2017, we debuted the EO Wonder podcast, a program designed to inspire women entrepreneurs.

Deb Gabor is an EO member in Austin who was born to brand. She is a professional speaker, consultant, author and CEO of Sol Marketing, a brand strategy consultancy obsessed with building winning brands. Deb reviewed an EO Wonder podcast featuring host Kalika Yap‘s compelling conversation with Marshall Goldsmith, and shared her take-aways:

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Leadership coach, author and speaker Marshall Goldsmith is a Buddha for modern entrepreneurs. Kalika Yap’s brief but brilliant interview with Goldsmith on the EO Wonder podcast was a masterclass for me in the subtle art of not giving a hoot.

Every time I set foot in a religious building―church, mosque, synagogue―regardless of the reason I’m there, I hear something I was meant to hear. My experience of listening to Goldsmith on the EO Wonder Podcast was a little like that.

As an entrepreneur, I’m a living, breathing contradiction. I’m bold and confident. I’m also self-deprecating and self-critical. I’m tenacious and gritty. I’m cautious and fearful. I’m open and flexible. Yet, I’m rigid and controlling. Above all, I hold myself to standards much higher than those to which I hold anyone else. However, I don’t think I’m alone among my women entrepreneur peers.

At the beginning of the podcast interview, Goldsmith meanders through some Us vs. Them observations from his work with Sally Helgesen about the differences between men and women leaders. Here are some highlights that resonate. As compared to men:

  1. Women are too hard on themselves, often trying to be the perfect everything to everybody.
  2. Women are too hesitant to promote themselves and are too critical of themselves.


Even though that information wasn’t especially groundbreaking for me, listening to Goldsmith’s observations was like staring into a psychological mirror. With each example he shared, I heard myself say, “Yes!” under my breath.

He talks about why women are slow to self-acceptance: Because we’re trying to live up to expectations our grandmothers unwittingly created for us. As Goldsmith explains, our grandmothers didn’t work 60-hour weeks like we do. Yet we have similar expectations for family commitments and responsibilities.

Goldsmith also shares wisdom on picking a path in life that starts from your heart and makes peace with the tradeoffs. Then, with a series of insights verging on platitudes, Goldsmith hit me square in the forehead with a sermon I needed to hear: “The first person you need to forgive is yourself,” and “What do you want your children to be? Happy? Why don’t we let ourselves be happy?

Around the midway mark in this whirlwind life class, Goldsmith took my breath away by inviting Yap to try focusing on her own happiness and self-acceptance in real-time. Goldsmith asks Yap to stop and “breathe” and then asks her to follow four important rules:

He says, “For the next 10 minutes …

  1. You cannot attempt to learn something.
  2. You cannot try to become more productive.
  3. You cannot try to become a better person.
  4. You cannot even consider helping others.”


OMG, Marshall Goldsmith: With those instructions, you just freed me from some of the major preconceptions I hold as a woman entrepreneur. Heck, as a woman, period!

He continues the lesson, asking Yap to spend 10 minutes focusing on only one thing: her own happiness and self-acceptance. With that, Yap got teary. And, so did I. See, I have never (ever, ever) given myself just 10 minutes to focus on my own happiness. It is liberating just to imagine the possibility of what I might be able to achieve if I were to focus on me and my happiness that way for once.

Along the way, Goldsmith shares bullet points about letting go of guilt, not letting other people take up too much space in your mind and heart, and a variety of stories that illuminated the need for self-love.

Goldsmith wraps up the interview with an allegory about a nonagenarian who, at the end of her life, shares advice with her younger self. Goldsmith backs up his story with what he and his colleagues learned from asking real senior citizens to reflect on their own lives. These are the three things they shared:

  • Be happy now.
  • At the end of life, it’s friends and family who matter and show up for you. It’s not co-workers huddled around your deathbed.
  • If you have a dream, go for it.


That’s good advice, isn’t it?

I listened to this interview all the way through―twice―and you should, too. On my second pass, I paused the recording and followed Goldsmith’s instructions to the letter, taking the time to experience my 10 whole minutes of self-acceptance. As I imagined, it was liberating to focus on me and my happiness. In eliminating my preconceived need to be productive and helpful, I freed up room for creative, strategic and self-loving thoughts to flood my mind.