054: Defining and Achieving “Success” with G. Richard Shell

By August 29, 2016Podcasts



G. Richard Shell says: "Being 'Awesome at Your Job' means doing something you do well, that you're excited by, that pays you."

In episode 54, Professor G. Richard Shell discusses how to find happiness in your work.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The importance of changing your metaphor for success
  2. How to find happiness in every domain of your life – particularly careers
  3. How to self-monitor progress to land in a place of achievement AND fulfilment (instead of a crisis)

About Richard

G. Richard Shell is the Thomas Gerrity Professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics, and Management at the Wharton School of Business. There, he created and teaches the famous Success Course. His books include the best-selling Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, the award-winning Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People and The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas. He is director of the Wharton Executive Negotiation Workshop and the Wharton Strategic Persuasion Workshop.

Items Mentioned in this Podcast

G. Richard Shell Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Richard thank you so much for being here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

G. Richard Shell
My pleasure Pete, thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
I got a real kick out of your bio when it mentioned that you have been married for forty years and you met your wife at a Grateful Dead concert. Could you paint that scene for us?

G. Richard Shell
Sure. It was my senior year in college and I had gone to see Jerry Garcia and the gang at the gym in the middle of our campus and I didn’t have a date.

I was there with a couple of my guy friends and about halfway through the concert, right about at the time that they were playing Casey Jones – I was in about the fifth row – this woman who was over in the aisle  sort of waved and I noticed her and she pointed to an empty seat next to me and I waved her in and she had been an usher, so she had a free ticket, and that’s how we met.

She thought that I had a date because there was a woman on the other side of me. And so she felt like it was a safe, not too forward a move, but the rest is history. We’ve been together – well we had a little hiatus right after college – but then we got back together and we’ve been together ever since.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful, beautiful. Well it sounds like that would be a key part of your definition of success.

G. Richard Shell
Absolutely. I tell my students, my undergrads especially, that life, ultimately, is an open book exam that has three questions and the questions are: “Who am I?”, the second question is “What am I gonna do?” and the third question is “Who am I gonna do it with?”.
And I was very fortunate to get the third question answered very early on.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. So I’d love to hear a little bit about this course and, talking about success, that’s one of things you are really famous for was creating and teaching the success course at Wharton. Could you tell us a little of the backstory for how that got up and going and what’s the goal?

G. Richard Shell
Sure. I have been at Wharton ever since I was 37 years old, so when I started teaching in 1986, basically I was hired on as a Legal Studies professor. We have law courses and teach Business Law.

And then as the years went on, I became an expert in negotiation and persuasion but in the back of my mind always was this very formative period of my life in my twenties, when I really went to school on all of the how to succeed books and investigated lots of different success seminars and transcendental meditation and all kinds of different things just as I was on sort of a quest to find out who I was.

And I recognized that college students today are no more certain than I was when I was a college student and that I would have really loved to have had a course when I was in college that sort of laid out the landscape of these different theories of success and basic ideas on how people go about achieving it whether it’s with the power of their minds, their social skills, or all the different theories that get put out there.

So I thought, what would be the perfect course that I could teach that would help students the most that I could possibly help them and use every teaching trick, tool, devise, exercise that I could come up with. And so it’s really a challenge to myself to create, you know, what I thought would be just the highest value-added course that I was capable of teaching.

So I put it together and got the Wharton faculty to approve it, which is no small task since it wasn’t completely obvious that it was about business as much as it was about, sort of, human interaction and the sort of overall purpose of life.

They sort of thought it ought to be in the English department or maybe the Psychology department, but they let me do it anyway and so I began teaching it roughly ten years ago, eleven years ago now, 2005.

And every year I’ve taught it I’ve changed it and iterated it and the students that have taken it have sort of partnered with me to bring it up to date and to make it relevant to them.

And so it’s this work in progress, constantly. You know, I’ve had some amazing students there, say, a bestselling Penn professor now, Angela Duckworth. She just wrote a book called Grit. She was in the first class that I taught.

She was a PhD student and she took that success course the first time I offered it and she knew more about Psychology than I’ll ever know then. So she really was almost a co-teacher in the sense that she could fill in a lot of the literature from positive psychology that I wasn’t as familiar with as I was some of the more traditional success books and texts.

But you know, as the years have gone on, students said “Why don’t we investigate what sort of classics have to say about success and we started reading Plato and Aristotle, some of the stoic philosophers, Marcus Aurelius.

Then they may say, “Well you know, you have there too many men than women, so now we read the autobiography of Sonia Sotomayor and the autobiography of Mary Kay Ash.

And so it’s just a wonderful course and it’s really a chance for these students, for a whole semester, to really just investigate two major questions that they’ll be asking for the rest of their lives:  “What do I mean by success?” and “Given what I think it means, how do I go about achieving it?”

And I kind of think it’s not so much a course that give the answers to those questions as much as it teaches them how to think about those questions, so that when they hit different parts of their lives, you know, there’s obviously a big moment when they graduate from college and they have their first job, but they’ll hit it again in the middle of their twenties when they are trying to figure out what their next job might be, whether they want to go to grad school.

It’ll hit again when they start a family and they have to make compromises about where they might have to live or their partner needs to move or they get downsized or outsourced or something, and they have to decide what to do next.

And they’ll hit it at the end when they’re getting ready to retire from their career and they have to decide how to spend the years after their career. So everybody hits these questions – “What do I mean by success at the next stage of my life?” and “What capabilities do I bring?” and I think the capabilities increase.

So, you got a certain set when you’re 22, but by the time you’re 42, you’ve got a lot more and if you think  about it carefully, you aggregate those capabilities, find more focused ways to get all of them engaged at the same time and you add more value to whatever you’re doing when you do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that’s exciting to think about that, imagine how that unfolds. So I guess I’d love to know, you deal with many students over at Wharton, who are rather motivated and ambitious in the fields of business and career and kind of getting perhaps the most prestigious or lucrative or interesting job possible and so I’d love to hear a little bit about what are some of the most illuminating exercises or questions that you tackle that bring about some real insights for folks in terms of how they should be thinking about their careers?

G. Richard Shell
Sure. I mean, I think people from the outside of a place like the Wharton school imagine that everybody in the Wharton school knows exactly what they’re doing.

And I think people inside the Wharton school who are students, look at their fellow students and they think that, well, everybody else knows what they’re doing. But, the truth of the matter is nobody knows what they’re doing most of the time.

And so, this course actually gives students permission to express the uncertainties that they actually have about why they chose Wharton in the first place, what they think they want to do.

A lot of students come to a high power place like Wharton and they haven’t really thought about anything except prestige or money and most high school students don’t know, really, what they want to do. They may have some fantasies, and you know Wharton appeals to some of those fantasies, but you know, they get into college and they start figuring out that the world is a much bigger and more interesting place than they imagined.

I find a lot of the students, doing the kinds of exercises we do, get permission to think about alternatives that they had maybe put aside after the freshman year or maybe they had in 8th grade and then they got swept up in their high school, college race and they forgot what they were really interested in.

So what I try to do is give people exercises that allow them to access their own intuitions, their own subconscious thoughts, their own emotions about the various aspects that go into making a successful life. One of the – in the very first class, we do something called the six lives exercise, which is six different little short paragraphs, there’s little stories of six different people. And I ask them to read – it’s a back a front of a single page paper and ask them to read these six stories and each one of them is a little different. One person’s a teacher, one person’s a stonemason, and another is a wealthy investor, another is a banker.

And then I have some to rank them for most successful as they see it to least successful, so number one down to number six. The only rule I have is they can’t have any ties so they have to actually make decisions about who they think is successful and who they think is less successful.

And as you know, each of the stories has a lot of pluses and a few minuses so you know the wealthy investor that I profile has really got a lot of money and lot of opportunity and freedom and autonomy, but can’t hold a steady relationship, has tried marriage, is divorced, doesn’t have any children.

And when you confront that and compare it to one of the other lives of someone who’s not actually got much money but they’ve been married for 40 years, they’re someone who can build homes, they built homes for their own children, they have a very warm and loving family life but not much achievement, not much fame.

And people start realizing that maybe their images of success are more complicated than they realized and that if they actually got what they thought they wanted they wouldn’t really be very happy about it.

So this gives them a chance to think about things like family, like autonomy as averse to working for someone else, being creative as opposed to having routine work, or having money but not being really able to share it with anybody, or mentoring others – all these different things like that.

And students find out that it’s a very interesting choice. They’re quite conflicted. We discuss what people chose, why they chose it.

Even as they articulate their reasons, they come to realize that they haven’t thought much about it. And so we take that assessment on the first class and we take it on the last class 14 weeks later. And it’s surprising to see how people have changed their minds as they’ve thought more deeply.

Basically, when you unpack all the exercises we do, you really discover the fundamental truth about success which is that it’s like a box. And when you open the box, there’s two other boxes inside.

And one box is called achievement and recognition. And the other box is called happiness and fulfilment.

And so success is always a package. If you have achievements with no fulfilment, that’s partly successful and if you’re sort of feeling happy but you have achieved anything at all, then a lot of people might feel that that’s not everything it’s cracked up to be either and so you end up having to figure out how you want to mix those two things.

And how much of each is gonna bring you the energy and the motivation and the lifestyle and the creativity that you, as an individual, value. So that when you do achieve something, you’re kinda happy about what you’ve achieved.

You know it’s surprising, Pete. It’s surprising I teach this material now to many many many hundreds, maybe thousands of executives, not just students, and when we talk, it’s just amazing to me how many executives have achieved a lot, and when they achieve it, they suddenly feel empty.

They’re not sure what they were trying to get and they get it but they really don’t want it. And they wonder, “How could I have wanted this?” and ]that’s what happens when you just go down the achievement track without thinking, “Do I want this for good reasons?”

So I think that, you know, the different exercises we do, there are all kinds of ones that are done in the class, I even created a few for the book I wrote about the class, Springboard.

And they’re all designed to stir the pot, to get you thinking, to unsettle you a little bit, to try to get you out of your normal assumptions about what you think the world’s supposed to be about, and then try to kind of craft your own values. It can go either way.

So, you know, it’s different paths for different people and, you know, my purpose in all this, I think, is to just try to help people find theirs, as opposed to try to be just one more person directing them or dictating something to them, when I think that mostly their problem is they’ve been a little too passive in the face of other people’s expectations and they need to get on their own two feet.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is powerful. You talk about it being unsettling or disruptive. It’s just like, you got me right here, right now chewing on some things in my own life – “Why did I embark upon that endeavor” and “What was that for?” and so, I guess I’d like to think a little bit about – I love that visual image there, you know, success: you open a box you’ve got achievements and fulfilment.

And, I think I know, I understand achievement maybe seems a bit more black and white to me in terms of, you have performed well, you know, whether it’s promotions or reach, performance review-type goals kind of, you know, hit, benchmarks met.

But fulfilment is… Seems a little softer, a little trickier to pin down in terms of – how would you go about defining fulfilment? Is it a set of emotions, or what would you say is fulfilment?

G. Richard Shell
I’d say one thing about fulfilment that’s true no matter which domain of your life it’s in: it always comes after sacrifice and effort.

So, if you’re unwilling to take risks – because I mean, what could be riskier than having a family or finding a life partner and committing yourself to them?

And so, there’s this real deep uncertainty that precedes the effort and the sort of long term commitment to an area of activity whether it’s personal or professional.

And you have to sort of be willing to go through that unhappiness and frustration and uncertainty and maybe it won’t work.

And then, after you do that and things work out, they always work out in the way you didn’t expect, that’s my experience. I kind of laugh at success books that are based on goal setting.

Because they have a sort of mechanistic feeling to them that there’s a kind of magic. You know, you visualize a goal, you write it down, you know, you plow, plow, plow away, and then it works out just the way you expected.

And it always never works like that for me. At one point in my late twenties, I made a list of all the things that I could do in my life that I’d be good at and then another list of all the things I could never do because I was just totally unqualified for them.

And the list of things I could do was, you know,  be a poet, be a Shakespeare professor, you know, study history, blah blah blah…

The number one thing on the list of things I could never possibly do was teach business. And here I am. I’m a senior professor at one of the best business schools in the world. So, how did that happen? It didn’t happen on some goal setting sheet.

It happened because, like everything in life, you set off in a direction, and then you make the most of the next opportunity, and then you make the most of the next opportunity.

It’s like Napoleon. Napoleon had it right. You know, that big military strategist Napoleon had the following guideline for how to fight a war: “Engage and then see what happens.”

Pete Mockaitis

G. Richard Shell
So I think engage is really important, so be proactive, take action, put yourself in motion, you know, move down a path that appears to you to be a feasible path with your skills and your abilities and your interests, but then always keep your eyes open, see what happens.

And if things are not working out, the faster you realize that they’re not working out and start redirecting yourself, the more likely it is you’ll end up in a better place instead of just grinding your head against this wall that’s a hundred feet thick and it’s just not made to yield to you.

I love teaching, so for me, I put a lot of effort into planning a class and sometimes, you know, I think  put a lot more effort into it than the students do, but I can’t let myself get frustrated if I’m doing, if I feel like I’m more invested than they are because they’re invested in what’s going on on their own plane, for their own purposes.

And so I get the fulfilment not so much from them saying “great job, Professor Shell.” I get fulfilment from knowing I did the very best I could to teach what I was trying to teach in the most compelling way that I was capable of.

And then at the end of class, I feel fulfilment. I feel satisfaction. I didn’t maybe hit everybody or every topic, but I know I did my best with the skills that I have at that time and I’ve gotten better.

Because, you do something a lot, you get feedback on it, you get better.

But even as better as I am, I still, before every single class, I think to myself: “I want to do this the best way I’ve ever done it. I wanted to be the best class I’ve ever taught.

And I motivate myself to try to do that. And that’s where fulfilment comes. You have effort, you have challenge, you have uncertainty and you go into the unknown and then something comes back. There’s an echo.

And it feels like you’ve made a difference in someone’s life or you’ve accomplished what you’ve tried to do in the best way you could.

And so, there’s a lot of parts of my life that are not fulfilling. I’m the chairman of a department that’s a lot of, you know, university politics and meetings and stuff like that.

Definitely not fulfilling. But it’s part of my professional world. I do it because somebody needs to do it and I try to do as well as I can.

So there are wonderful things that happen that you can’t control and your effort doesn’t have much to do with that. You just have to be there to experience it.

But I think the kind of fulfilment that is in the success box is fulfilment that comes as a result of exerting yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
And I also like that it’s kind of internal as opposed to external. It’s not so much the students saying “You’re great” that does it so much as you finding the fulfilment within the job itself and what it means intrinsically.

G. Richard Shell
Yeah. At the end of an activity, I feel even more energy than I did at the beginning.

And when I’m making a really good presentation or I’m teaching a class or I’m giving a talk or I’m in the middle of writing something that I think, you know, is a big project I’m working on and I feel like I’ve really nailed it, I don’t feel exhausted when it’s over I feel good. I feel like, “Yeah, let’s did this again!” you know.

I mean, I may need to take a break just to get my mind a chance to, you know, back off a little to get the kind of creative juices going so that it’s not just too zoned in. But it’s still the case that, you know,  the energy comes. The feeling of energy comes. At the end of an exertion you know you’re doing something that’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Talking about the feelings of knowing if you’re doing something right or wrong, I’d like to think a little bit about some of the the warning signs or the canaries in the coal mine, if you will, when it comes to, you know, I’m just imagining: we got a sharp professional, maybe 28-, 29-years-old.

And what are some maybe warning signs for: “Uh oh. I may need to change things up in my role here. Because something isn’t working.” What are some of the things to keep the the eyes open for as opposed to just like being blind-sided by burn out later on?

G. Richard Shell
Yeah that’s a great question. I suspect that probably the signs are different for different people. And that, for different personality types, it’s gonna come sooner or later.

I mean, there’s some interesting research – people who are really amiable and they are easy to get along with and they are always socially adjustable, they can sort of make other people feel really comfortable – often are the last ones to know when they’re doing the wrong thing.

Because they are always coming from the outside in. They’re always trying to please their social environment. They’re always trying to make other people feel comfortable.

So the message that, you know, that they’re exhausted and that they’re depleted, they take to be “I haven’t pleased people enough.”

When, in fact, what’s going on is they’re pleasing the wrong people. Or they’re pleasing them by doing the wrong thing. And, you know, so they’re stuck in kind of a mediocre place of achievement for themselves.

But they keep repeating it because that’s the best they can do and they’re trying to please other people. Where people who are more from the inside out, they’re sort of more blunt, more direct, more centered, more kind of crusty a little bit, they’re not as socially-smooth, they’re the ones who more often get the message sooner because they’re much more in touch with their own preferences and their own kind of emotional reactions to things.

And, when they’re not getting the kind of echo that they like from their social environment, that people aren’t appreciating them or that they’re not getting much more responsibility or something they’re much more likely to go to somebody, complain about it and try to be proactive about it because that’s just who they are.

So, I mean, I think the main thing is emotional self-monitoring you kind of check, on a regular basis, and if you’re doing things that you should like to do, I mean everybody has bad emotional reactions to things that they don’t like to do and everybody has to do some of those, so it’s not, you can’t have like complete smooth sailing through work, but if you’re doing things you should like to do and you’re not liking it, that’s, I think, the sign that there’s something wrong in the environment.

Now, where can that come from? It can come from the fact that – let’s say you’re a high school teacher and you love teaching. And you really do love teaching and then they change the principal in your school and the principal is Attila the Hun – a nightmare for everybody.

And suddenly you don’t like teaching anymore because the Attila the Hun is always breaking in on your class and criticizing you and bringing parents down on you and passing off blame and doing all the things that bad people do when they’re bosses.

And so it’s no fun anymore. Well, that’s a sign. It doesn’t mean you should quit teaching. It means you should change schools, if possible, and you know, take control over the situation and try to remove the source that’s the negative source in the environment to get back to what you like doing.

Another thing that can happen to people is they get tempted away from what they like to do because someone offers the more money or more status. So say they’re really great at running a factory and making sure the widgets are all perfect and they have really good teams and they get a lot of enjoyment out of being you know engaged in this kind of logistical puzzle that gets solved everyday.

And then someone says, “Wow you’re really running a good factory. Let’s put you in charge of the region.”

And once you’re in charge of the region, what happens? You’re no longer running a factory. You’re now running a bunch of people who are running factories and you may be reasonably good at that, but you’re not as good as you used to be good at running a plant.

So now you’re going to be unhappy and you’re going to be stressed and you’ll make more money and you’ll have more status, but it’s you know that’s where people get unhealthy. They’ll start experiencing the dysfunction by having heart attacks or by losing their marriages or by having you know life suddenly looks kind of colorless instead of vivid because they took the bait and they started doing something that they didn’t do well, based on their excellence at doing something else.

So you have to be wise about who you are and sometimes, that negative feedback from your experiences telling you to change some part of your circumstances but keep doing what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s telling you, you’ve promoted yourself out of your sweet spot and you need to find a way to pedal over, to get back on track.

And earn your status and earn the bigger paycheck by doing better what you love to do instead of doing mediocre what you don’t. And it takes some courage to do that sometimes, given that American society in particular is very keen on everybody getting promoted and having more status and advancing up the ladder.

But I think one of the things that I try to teach my students is to be careful what your metaphors are for success because if you think of success as a ladder, then you’re tempted to keep climbing it.

If you think of success as something else, then you don’t get stuck making  bad moves that are consistent with your metaphor but are inconsistent with your best interests.

There are a lot of metaphors. You could be a – you could have a metaphor for success that you want to be a tree for your community and shelter people.

You could have a metaphor for success that you want to be a stone that falls in a pond and creates positive influences in ripples throughout all of eternity against all the different people that you interact with and then they interact with other people and they interact with other people… It’s like positive stuff happening and none of that involves climbing anything.

So I think if you start getting thoughtful about what your actual metaphor is sometimes that can anchor you and give you the confidence to do the right stuff.

Pete Mockaitis
This is very thought-provoking and rich. I just want to chew on it for some time. You tell us, is there anything you’d like to cover off before we can to shift gears into the rapid fire fast faves questions?

G. Richard Shell
I’m a big believer in recognizing the signals that you’re getting from yourself and your heart, and being there. I think you know until you’re uncertain or a little dissatisfied, it’s hard to motivate yourself to change and get to a place where you’re going to be more motivated and more satisfied.

So I think honoring the uncertainty and the dissatisfaction and you know I’m not saying wallow in it, but but recognize the value of it and use it as motivation to keep looking, to keep reading, to keep talking to people and networking and exploring.

Especially for people who are changing jobs and they’re kind of thinking about, you  know, “I think I need to make a change” there’s a wonderful piece of research that explains exactly how people get jobs.

And it is sort of what you think, but not exactly.
So, the name of the article is called “The Strength of Weak Ties” it’s by a sociologist. And the research that he did shows that generally speaking your next job opportunity is gonna come through a referral or a network  ping back through the system.

It’s going to be a contact that’s going to come from a person you know who knows a person who knows a person who knows a person. So that your contact is actually gonna come from someone you don’t know, but who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody you know.

And it’s the persistence and the patience to continue to interact with people and tell them about what your goals are and what your dreams are, what your thoughts are about what you’d like to do and what you’re capable of doing and that word spreads and then in a very unexpected way, more often than any other way, a little echo comes back and someone presents you with an opportunity.

And so I think that’s why it’s so hard sometimes because you don’t get the direct feedback. Your friends and family didn’t come up with a job for you, but that’s not the layer that does it it’s two layers after that.

And so that’s why it’s so important stay in motion and to stay active and involved in your search for the next step.

So I think that’ll be the last thing I’d say it’s honor the uncertainty. Keep going.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good, thank you. And so, could you now share with us your favorite quote, something you find inspiring.

G. Richard Shell
Well, my favorite quote of all time in the success literature is from Socrates. He said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

And Socrates was a great early philosopher, sort of invented western philosophy, and I take that as a mantra. It is what I try to instill in my students. It’s the willingness to examine your life and to keep examining it. To be  aware – self-aware – curious, growth oriented.

Look for opportunities for development and try to stay off of automatic pilot so you’re really still driving your own car and that car is what you’re going to do tomorrow.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite habit of yours that has really boosted your personal effectiveness?

G. Richard Shell
I guess I’ll share two things.

One is: I practice Buddhism. When I was younger, I meditated at some meditation centers and monasteries in Asia overseas in Sri Lanka and South Korea.

So I learned meditation. And I don’t meditate everyday like you do in a monastery, but what I do do, I met a French woman who was a nun at this Buddhist monastery in South Korea. And she taught me a little sort of a mantra of a sort. It’s not mystical or anything. But it’s just something to say every day that brings you to a point of motivation and purpose.

And so everyday, at some point, I may be in the shower or maybe at a stop light or I may be sitting in my office or meditating. I run through my own personal set of aspirations for the day that are not goals like “I want to finish this or start that” they’re goals like: “I want to practice compassion. I want to practice generosity. I want to be aware of being patient.” That sort of thing.

And so that’s really important to me and I think that helps. It de-hooks you – unhooks you from the specific goal, to the process you need to use to achieve a goal correctly. And then the goal comes with fulfilment instead of the sense of “Why did I do that?”.

And then the other thing I do now is, I already mentioned it. Before I have anything important that I’m going to do like teach a class or go to a meeting or go to a meeting that I know the purpose of, I know it’s consequential, or give a talk, I kind of rehearse in my mind the excellence that I want to achieve in the moment.

And just, I want to bring all of my experience to whatever the moment is that I’m about to engage in and open my mind and make it a fresh addition of me engaging with that and make it the best thing that’s ever happened so far.

So it’s sort of renews my motivation to make the next moment new instead of repeat what worked yesterday.

Now maybe I do repeat what worked yesterday. You know everything of that sort is improvisational.

But it’s an encouragement for me to improvise in a fresh way that will bring a kind of aliveness to the interactions that I have.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. How about a favorite sort of resonant nugget, something that you share that really gets people kind of taking notes, nodding their heads and maybe highlighted in the Kindle version of Springboard? What’s a little gem that that seems to really resonate with folks?

G. Richard Shell
There so many of those. Everything you need to be happy is simple.

Pete Mockaitis

G. Richard Shell
People get really wrapped up in the pursuit of happiness and they think that it’s going to come from getting the next job or getting the next object, or going on the next vacation or getting married or whatever it is that they think is going to make them happy.

And the truth of the matter is that happiness always comes in simple packages, delivered often unexpectedly from moments where you are aware of the moment.

So another quote related to that is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s. He said, “Happiness is like a butterfly.” If you try to catch a butterfly with your hands, it’s almost impossible. But if you sit still, sometimes a butterfly will come alight on your shoulder.

Pete Mockaitis

G. Richard Shell
I think that kind of openness and stillness is where some of the best, richest moments in life come from. So, happiness is simple and sometimes it requires less effort rather than more to experience it.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. And what would you say is the best way for folks to learn more about you? Would you point them to the book Springboard, or email, LinkedIn? What’s your preferred means of folks finding more?

G. Richard Shell
I’m unplugged. That adds to my happiness, I think, so I don’t have a Facebook page, I don’t do LinkedIn, I’m not engaged with any of that. But I do have a website: grichardshell.com and people can find out about my books and take the six lives exercise we talked about. That’s available free on the website.

And  I talk a little bit about my teaching there and workshops that I do. So that’s one place that they can learn more about me and you know depending on their interest, I have written four books, so if they go to amazon.com and put G. Richard Shell in, they will come up with: Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success which is my most recent book and that’s the one based on the class we’ve been talking about.

But I also have probably the third best-selling book on negotiation in the world. It’s in 16 languages, so if they have negotiation problems I’m told that that book’s pretty good. It’s the text for most negotiation courses in law schools and business schools all over America.

And then I have another book that’s on persuasion and influence called The Art of Woo: Winning Others Over and that’s not quite as renowned as my negotiation book, but it’s one of my favorites and it sort of is the surround sound to a negotiation. It’s how you affect other people, how you impress them. And how you can make good arguments to persuade them to your point of view.

So you know I think my books and the website are probably the best places to engage with me.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. And do you have a final, perhaps, a parting thought or a call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

G. Richard Shell
I guess the final thought is this: I think being awesome at your job means doing something you do well, that you’re excited by, that pays you.
That’s the three factors that I look for. And doing something you do well I think people have a sense that that’s like one thing. You know you’re good at sales so that’s what you’re awesome at. But I think that being really highly functional at your job is bringing the unique combination of things you do well to that work that you’re doing that pays you, that you’re excited by.

And everybody is good at more than one thing. And they may be really, really good at one thing, but then they’re pretty good at three or four other things and when you add those, all those good things together, and you find work that allows you to do that, then you’re going to be world class.

Because there are very few people that have the combination of things that most people have. And so you’re bringing your competitive advantage to the work you do.
So no matter what it is, it could be computer coding and cooking, but whatever they are, when you put them in combination, that’s where awesomeness comes from, in my view.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. Well Richard this has been so fun, interesting, thought-provoking.
Thank you so much and I wish you lots of achievement as well as fulfilment in your course, in your books and all that you’re up to here.

G. Richard Shell
Well Pete, I really appreciate the opportunity that you’ve created and that gave me a chance to hopefully have a few moments of positive influence which is my metaphor for success, so I appreciate it.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely, thank you.

G. Richard Shell
Alright Pete. Thanks.

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