In this episode of the How To CEO podcast, I was privileged to speak with sought-after leadership expert Dr. Mark Goulston. Whenever I talk to Mark, I always gain a world of insight and inspiration all within a few short minutes. This podcast episode was no exception. Here are the tips for aspiring CEO’s from People Hacker, Dr. Mark Goulston.

Here are a few highlights of what he and I talked about:

Going Where You’re Looking and Looking Where You’re Going

The first point Dr. Goulston made was that “Leaders go where they’re looking, and managers look where they’re going.” In other words, a leader should be above the fray and see a vision beyond the horizon that no one else sees. But leaders need good managers.

A manager is tied to performance and gets things done (which can sometimes cause conflict between leaders and managers.) CEOs are good at seeing beyond the horizon, but they often need to be reined in by good COOs or other kinds of managers


Continuing the above thoughts, Mark told me that it’s often tough to “rein in” visionary CEOs. Visionaries run on momentum, he explains, and this means they’re not always flexible enough to be able to pivot. Are you rushing toward your vision with so much momentum that you’re unable to pivot or change course when needed?

Be Compelling  to Open Minds and Convincing  to Close Deals

Mark explained that too many CEOs attempt to be convincing right out of the gate. This is a mistake because you need to first gain access to the other person’s mind before rushing in. If you try convincing someone the moment you get in front of them, you’ll come off as “annoying or a bore.”

Learn to Make Great Judgement Calls

To be a great leader, Mark advises that the ability to make a productive or beneficial judgment-call is essential. The secret to being a successful CEO is to be able to make a significant judgment call in the areas of strategy, people, and crisis. You need to have a vision for a product or service that solves a problem. But after that, it’s all about the ability to make successful judgment-calls under pressure.

Be Able to Create “Whoa. Wow! Hmmm. Yes!”

Great leaders can attract amazing employees. I asked Mark for his advice about how a leader can get people on his/her team.

He pointed out that CEOs such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have been famously difficult to work for. Nonetheless, people always seek jobs at Tesla, SpaceX, and Apple. Why? Because working for them is your “ride to the future,” as Mark put it.

Employees of these companies get to be part of something huge – a part of “science fiction,” even. Are you a visionary? Do you have a vision that’s so astounding that people will flock to your company?

According to Mark, you need to follow the formula that Steve Jobs followed (and that Elon Musk still follows today.) You have to create “Woah. Wow! Hmmm. Yes!” What does this mean? Listen to the episode for more.

Don’t Allow a Toxic Workplace to Develop

Mark also gave some excellent advice about creating a rewarding and productive work environment. No one at your company should be afraid to come to work because of someone else’s personality. Don’t condone abuse to make money. Are you willing to walk away from money to keep a healthy work environment?

Mark’s Most-Admired CEOs

I asked Mark which CEOs he greatly admires. At the top of his list is Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. Why? One primary reason is that Satya is open-minded. He has a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset, and he’s a “learn-it-all,” not a know-it-all.

Mark also discussed other traits to look for in a valuable CEO and gave other excellent leadership advice. Be sure to listen to the podcast to hear more profitable advice.

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Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. He is the founder of the How to CEO podcast and you can read his blog at