Connect with us

How Do I Date

The Dr. Mark Goulston Interview

Dr. Mark Goulston

Author's Insight

The Dr. Mark Goulston Interview

interviewerAuthor’s Insight


Mark Goulston, M.D. is a business advisor, consultant, speaker, trainer and adviser trained as a clinical psychiatrist who honed his skills as an FBI/police hostage negotiation trainer who increases people’s ability to get through to anyone and then create a “gotta have it” response in them for your services, products AND you.

He is the Founder and Co-CEO of the Goulston Group which works with companies and organizations to create raving customers and fans a la Apple by helping CEO’s and Founders to think like Steve Jobs. They do this by helping their clients create a “gotta have it” response in customers and “gotta work there” response in talent they’d like to recruit.

This applies to “How Do I Date,” because you want to create a “gotta meet you” response in anyone who hears, read and/or sees anything about you and then a “gotta see you again!” response after a first date with someone you want to see again.

As Dr. Goulston says, “In an attention challenged world, if you’re not creating a ‘gotta meet you’ and ‘gotta see you again’ response from people you want to date, you’re creating a ‘Nah, no thanks, pass’ response in them.”

He is the author of seven books.  His book, “Just Listen,” became the top book on listening in the world and his upcoming book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life, is due out October 21. He also contributes to: Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Business Insider.

He is also a Principal with China Foundations, a China based company that works with Fortune 500 companies, NGO’s and governmental agencies to increase trust and cooperation between American ex-pats and Chinese, serves on the Board of Advisors of Dr. Oz’s Health Corps, Nolan Bushnell’s and is a member of USC’s Third Space initiative.

You can read more about Dr. Goulston and see his latest posts here.

We contacted Dr. Goulston for an interview and he kindly accepted our invitation, so here it is.

Q. Why did you become a therapist?

When I was in medical school, I hit a very low point where I was about to drop out of medical school for a second non-consecutive year.  The school wanted to kick me out, but couldn’t because I was miraculously passing everything.  So instead the Dean of the School advised/directed the promotions committee that I be asked to withdraw.

Enter Dean of Students, William “Mac” McNary who met with me and saw value in me and a future for me for me that I didn’t.  He told me that I had goodness in me and that the world needed that goodness and I wouldn’t know it until I was 35 (I was 25 at the time).  But I had to make it until I was 35.  He then looked me straight in the eye and said, “You deserve to be on this planet… And you’re going to let me help you.”

I was overwhelmed with his kindness and something shifted in me.  He then arranged a meeting with the promotions committee at my medical school and proceeded to stand up to them and made an appeal against the Dean of the school’s wishes. I had to plead my case and I guess, the committee also saw something in me worth saving, because they gave me a second leave of absence.

During that time I worked at the Menninger Foundation, then in Topeka, KS and discovered that I had some talent in reaching unreachable people.  Subsequent to that event, I have come to believe that Mac was a real angel sent to me to save and change my life.  When you believe you have been touched by an angel, it changes your life.  It also compels you to pay it forward. That’s why I became a therapist.

Q. What single piece of advice can you give readers about how to live a happy fulfilling life?

Be Grateful and multiply. Every evening and every morning think of something you are grateful for and/or someone you are grateful to. You will find that you cannot be grateful and feel as if there is anything wrong with your life at the same moment in time. If possible find the person you’re grateful to (or next of kin if they have died) and give them a Power Thank

You which has 3 parts:

  1. Thank them specifically for something they did
  2. Acknowledge the effort they made to do it
  3. Tell them what it personally meant to you (if you do this from your heart, you will often find yourself becoming emotional)

Q. What have you found to be the most common cause of depression and how can people overcome it?

People are afraid to fully feel the extent of their disappointment in others, in life and in themselves because there is this intuitive fear that if they admitted how disappointed they were in someone, they’d have to sever the relationship (which they don’t want to); or if they admitted how disappointed they are in life, they’d have to give up; or if they admitted how disappointed they are in themselves, they’d have to kill themselves.

To avoid acknowledging and feeling the depth of that disappointment, people cope with it by becoming angry or shutting down.  Over time, both of those can lead to depression.  If instead of trying to avoid feeling disappointment you merely admit that you’re feeling it and let yourself feel the depth of it, it will actually dissipate and a fair amount of depression could be avoided and/or overcome.

Q. In your experience what the single biggest cause of divorce/relationship breakdown and how can it be averted before it’s too late?

Letting frustration harden into bitterness and eventually hate.  My recommendation to couples is if you get into an argument and start talking from anger, each person make a commitment to keep talking until they’re talking from the disappointment and hurt and fear underneath.

Also be yourself as soon as you can in your relationship and get your partner to be themselves as soon as they can, because why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t love you for you

[Listen to my responding to Oprah on this topic on a show were I was a guest expert and the world’s authority on helping divorced couples get back together]

Q. What do you like most about being a therapist?

Watching people heal, one conversation at a time (as happened with Dean McNary and me and then with patients and me) which on occasion happens.  I even started a mission to do heal the world, one conversation at a time.

Q. What do you like least about being a therapist?

I have actually transitioned from being a therapist to writing, speaking and teaching so that I can hopefully help many more.  What I liked least about being a therapist is that I had poor emotional boundaries and actually felt my patients’ deepest and darkest feelings with them.  That led on a number of occasions to feeling so suicidal that I wanted to kill myself which enabled some of the highly suicidal people I saw early in my practice to give up their desire to die.

As much as causing patients to “feel felt” and hence less alone in their feelings of despair helped them, it cumulatively took a toll on me. Fortunately I didn’t burn out.  Instead I transitioned to writing and teaching what I had learned.

Q. What is the major cause of stress nowadays and how can people best deal with it?

Setting expectations beyond the level of disappointment you can handle when they’re not met.  The more disappointment you can handle without becoming stressed the higher you can set your expectations; the less disappointment you can handle, the lower you need to set them.

Q. What is the best way to deal with grief?

Learning to live with life never being the same again, and realizing that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to laugh, love and live a happy and fulfilling  life.

It’s very important to stay active and invest in life so that you can build new memories to dilute the effect of that loss.  If you don’t do that, you can remain frozen in suspended animation and never move pass the loss.

Q. If you had your life to live over again what would you change if anything?

I would live in a less hectic and less competitive area than the one I live in, which is the Westside of Los Angeles. It’s exciting and stimulating, but not as restful and peaceful as I would like. On the other hand, I feel very fortunate to be living a life that is far more interesting than I ever imagined.

Q. What is the funniest /most bizarre/most inspirational thing that has happened to you in dealing with your clients?
Early on in my clinical career, after being sleep deprived from moonlighting at a state mental hospital, I had a session with one of my most suicidal patients that I hadn’t felt I was helping (except she had gone 8 months without making an attempt).  In the session I went into the “dark night of the soul” (which is what my friend Reverend Jim Kowalski from St. John the Divine Gothic Cathedral in Manhattan told me when I explained this episode to him). And then being overtired, I blurted out: “Nancy, I didn’t know it was so bad, and I can’t help you kill yourself.  But if you do, I will still think well of you, I’ll miss you and maybe I’ll understand why you had to kill yourself to get out of the pain.” I was aghast that I had said such a thing, but after I did she looked me in the eyes for the first time ever, smiled (which spooked me) and said, “If you can really understand why I might have to kill myself, maybe I won’t need to.”  And then Nancy, who had made three very serious suicide attempts before I started seeing her as a patient, gave up wanting to kill herself.

[Mark Goulston]


Mark Goulston, M.D. is a business advisor, consultant, speaker, trainer and coach trained as a clinical psychiatrist who honed his skills as an FBI/police hostage negotiation trainer who increases people’s ability to get through to anyone. He is Co- Founder of Heartfelt Leadership whose Mission is: Daring to Care and Go Positive Now and is the Resident Big Brother at Business Women Rising and serves on the Board of Advisers of American Women Veterans and Dr. Oz’ foundation, Health Corps. He is the author of international best selling book, “Just Listen” Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (AMACOM, $24.95) which has reached #1 at amazon kindle in six business categories, #1 in China and Germany , #1 in audible audiobooks and has been translated into fourteen languages. Dr. Goulston and his book was also a PBS special entitled “Just Listen with Dr. Mark Goulston.” His next book, REAL INFLUENCE: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, co-authored with Dr. John Ullment will be the lead book for the American Management Association in January, 2013 and will focus on influencing people in a post-selling world. Dr. Goulston’s development of those skills started with his education: a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an M.D. from Boston University, post graduate residency in psychiatry at UCLA. He went on to be a professor at UCLA’s internationally renowned Neuropsychiatric Institute for more than twenty years, become a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was named one of America’s Top Psychiatrists for 2004-2005 and again in 2009 and 2011 by Washington, D.C. based Consumers’ Research Council of America. A partial list of companies, organizations and universities he has trained, spoken to, provided executive coaching to or consulted with include: GE, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Deutsche Bank, Hyatt, Accenture, Astra Zenica, British Airways, Sodexo, ESPN, Kodak, Federal Express, YPO, YPOWPO India, Association for Corporate Growth, FBI, Los Angeles District Attorney, White & Case, Seyfarth Shaw, UCLA Anderson School of Management, USC, Pepperdine University. He is or has been a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and is the best selling author of four prior books including the international best seller, Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior (Perigee, $13.95) Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…and Help Others Do the Same (Perigee, $14.95), is a contributor to Harvard Business, blogs for the Huffington Post, Business Insider writes the Tribune media syndicated column, Solve Anything with Dr. Mark, column on leadership for FAST COMPANY, Directors Monthly. He is frequently called upon to share his expertise with regard to contemporary business, national and world news by television, radio and print media including: Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Los Angeles Times, ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox/CNN/BBC News, Oprah, Today. Dr. Goulston lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Author's Insight

Best Dating Sites


Must Reads

To Top