Career Advancement Edition

Society puts more pressure on going to school and getting the best grades. Some countries, like South Korea, China, and other Asian countries, pressure students from a young age. But are these great indicators of your skills once you enter the workforce?

According to LinkedIn global talent trends, 92% of talent acquisition professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills.

And 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lacked critical soft skills. These skills include: communication, character and personality traits, emotional intelligence, among others. Skills that make people excel in their jobs and the best to work with in the organization.

Getting good grades isn’t all there is to success in the workforce anymore. Soft skills make a great employee in every organization.

This episode will be with Career Developer, author, and entrepreneur Mark Herschberg. His book, The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You discusses the skills that can help you accelerate your career growth in any company you’re in or you want to get into.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to work on the essential soft skills that you’ll need to succeed in the workforce
  • The importance of negotiation for every leader
  • How to become an effective leader

Lee Michael Murphy: [00:00:00] Welcome in boys and girls to another episode of the free retiree show. I’m your host wealth manager, Lee Michael Murphy. And I’m alongside interview coach in Silicon valley vet, Sergio Patterson. 

Sergio Patterson: You keep going with the 

Sergio, but it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s the way that’s it. What is up everyone?

That’s what my mom calls me. 

Lee Michael Murphy: And the only attorney that is acceptable to like Matthew McElroy, welcome into a career advancement edition of the Free Retiree Show. For today’s episode. We’re going to be discussing the importance of having soft skills in the workplace, in a society that puts a ton of weight on going to school, getting good grades at the end of it.

Do those collegiate accomplishments really set you up to succeed in your career? And are they a great indicator of how well you do once you enter the workforce? [00:01:00] According to LinkedIn global talent trends, 92% of talent acquisition professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills.

And 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lacked critical soft skills. We’re talking about people with skills, like social communication, character, personality traits, emotional intelligence, and just the stuff that makes people good at their job and a joy to work within the organization.

Now, Serge, I know you, and I’ve talked about this before, but what is your thoughts on. People that come from these prestigious colleges. And think they know everything and then sometimes they just lack those really important soft skills. What’s been your experience with those? 

Sergio Patterson: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think, having been in silicone valley for the last 10 ish years,you can meet some super smart people who are really good at coding, or really good at whatever [00:02:00] hard skill you want to, talk about, but to get anything done at any organization, you need to have solid soft skills.

Because you can’t do anything on your own, right? Like you need to know how to communicate. You need to know how to bring people together, to get towards like a common goal. So I’d argue that what I’m seeing right now is soft skills are more important. hard skills are important, but , when we start thinking about launching new products, really bringing organizations together soft skills are kind oftaking.

Lee Michael Murphy: And Mattie, you’re the attorney and lot of smart attorneys out there that probably went to a lot of prestigious schools. what’s your thoughts on this? Oh, 

Matt McElroy: yeah, I got a lot of thoughts. I get attorneys there come from, great schools like Hastings or USAA or USC in, but they never practiced.

Right. And so they’ll come in and they just have these horrible entitlement issues. They think, oh, I passed the bar exam. I went through law school, give me all this money now because I’m a lawyer and yeah. They have no real clue how to practice law and, soft [00:03:00] skills are such a critical part of it.

and I think the real power that, I mean, I think it kind of equates across almost any job. It is, the soft skills is the ability to collaborate. And I think that’s a huge, soft skill and collaboration is such a, I think it’s such a powerful thing in almost any work environment and it’s not only not used enough, but I think, that’s where soft skills.

Lee Michael Murphy: Definitely. So for today’s episode, we have Mark Herschberg and he is a wonderful resource. He’s an MIT instructor, CTO, author of the career toolkit, essential skills for success that no one taught you. And he’s spent a lot of time building startups. He spent 20 years teaching at MIT, he’s got over a dozen patents.

 I was on the board of a couple of nonprofits and he’s really dedicated his career to helping launch, ventures and help launch people into areas of success. And,on top of all these wonderful accolades, one thing I’m excited to ask mark about is, he is also a top ranked [00:04:00] ballroom dancer, and now he lives in.

Lee Michael Murphy: But, ballroom dancing guys. Any questions on ballroom dancing? 

Sergio Patterson: I’m a terrible dancer. I had some questions 

Lee Michael Murphy: because we were all terrible dancer. I can ask mark also on some good dance tips. so, maybe you’re not into the career and, getting to that next level. If you want to be an excellent ballroom dancer, we’ll also ask mark on that too.

So we’re going to take a quick break, but when we come back, We’re going to be sitting down with Mark Herschberg. Stay tuned.

Welcome back in to The Free Retiree Show. We are sitting down with Mark Herschberg. Mark. 

Mark Herschberg: How are you doing this morning? Doing great. Thanks for having me on the show. Hey, it’s a pleasure 

Lee Michael Murphy: to have you. I know that you are all about the soft skills and development, but man, the guys, we just want to know ballroom dancing.

How did that 

Mark Herschberg: happen? Ballroom dancing. It’s one of the best things [00:05:00] I did in my life. I went to MIT and what most people don’t know is MIT actually has a fantastic sports program. Now, while many of our sports are D three, we do have a few D one. We also have programs like our barn downstairs, not NCAA, but we have produced some of the top ballroom dancers in the country.

And when I was competing in the late nineties and early two thousands, we were arguably one of the top ballroom dance teams in the. I got brought into it because the woman I was dating at the time decided she wanted to join and compete in ballroom dancing, which apparently meant I also had decided I wanted to compete in ballroom dancing, but I’m very glad she made that decision.


what’s the trick to be a good ballroom dancer. I’ve seen Sergio dance. He does this like twerking thing when he starts to dance, he starts twerking. He’s a big fan of twerking, Matt. I mean, obviously you just look at him, there is no rhythm, but, what’s the skill 

Mark Herschberg: that you needed.

Yeah. I had no rhythm when I first started ballroom is [00:06:00] very structured, but here’s the two things to remember when ballroom dancing first it’s true dance. Like no one’s watching. Because if you hold yourself back and you’re saying, oh, I’m worried about how people are gonna look at me. It’s not going to work.

It’s just like anything else we do in life. You just have to go for it and be committed. I’d also say if that sounds scary, dancing is just walking to the beat. If you are just stepping and you’re generally with the beat, you’re probably starting to dance and you’re going to look good. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Amazing advice.

Matt McElroy, he’s got a wedding coming up, so I’m hoping these words are soaking in. Cause I will be recording you on your dance and all that stuff. And I will play it for many years to your demise. Well, we 

Matt McElroy: haven’t actually set a date yet because all the crazy COVID stuff, but, yeah, I haven’t been asked to take classes, so it will be happening.


Sergio Patterson: I wish I would have taken ballroom classes cause I 

Lee Michael Murphy: did not know what I was doing on the dance floor 

Mark Herschberg: mat. Just when you go out, do a simple routine, [00:07:00] be relaxed and just think of it, like walking to the beat and you’re going to be fantastic. 

Matt McElroy: Yeah, I think it’s the key word you said there for me is going to be simple.


Lee Michael Murphy: So mark, thank you for coming on our show today. We want to talk about the soft skills. And like I said, in the intro, it’s one of these things that society, if we only look at, the grades where you went to school and then it feels like it’s so many levels, when we come out of school, we’re just not prepared, It’s all this stuff that they never taught us in school. So tell us about like what you’re doing and how people can work on developing those soft skills that we might’ve never learned while we were in college. 

Mark Herschberg: Years ago, I recognized I needed to develop these skills in myself. And as I was learning them, recognize that these aren’t just for executives.

This is for everyone from your first day out of school, these skills, leadership, negotiation, networking, [00:08:00] communication. They’re going to help you, even if you say, I don’t want to be a manager, I don’t want to be an executive. I want to stay as an individual contributor. These skills are still going to be vitally important for your career.

And as I was developing these training programs, MIT had gotten very similar feedback. The companies who tend to come and hire our students, which range from big tech and law and finance, as well as early stage startups, they all said, we can’t find these skills. Not just in your students, but across the board, in other students in mid-career professionals, we can’t find these skills.

So we created this program at MIT. We refer to it as MIT’s career success accelerator, where we expose our students to these skills early in their academic careers and help get them on the right path for them to continue to develop the skills while at MIT. And beyond. And I took a lot of the lessons from there.

A lot of things I’ve learned from teaching over the past 20 years and put it into the book.

Sergio Patterson: I think [00:09:00] it’s interesting , cause you would think that, the MITs of the world, that the hard skills are so important, but it’s like a rude awakening when , their first day at Google and they’re like, wait, I have to communicate with people and like to actually get anything done or get influenced or get buy-in for a project.

Mark Herschberg: One thing I’ve learned time and again, working in the tech world is that good technology with bad marketing loses out to bad technology with good marketing. You could have a brilliant product, but no one’s heard of it. It’s not going anywhere. Crappy products have we seen, but they just knew how to market it.

And if we think about that internally, even if you have the best ideas, you really have those quants skills or whatever it is, you’re like, oh, I know how to solve this problem. But if you can’t communicate that, if you can’t get buy-in from other people, you’re going to lose out to those mediocre ideas from your peers that just know how to market it.

How do you get the buy-in from other folks? So we have to think about supplement. [00:10:00] There are problem solving skills with these relationship based skills. 

Matt McElroy: Do you see that a lot of people, because of COVID and having to work at home and kind of, losing some of these social experiences that we take for granted, do you feel like people are starting to maybe lose some of their soft skills that they had, or they’re starting to get rusty and, have to work on them.

Mark Herschberg: I suspect. So I haven’t seen data on that. I have seen articles in the dating world that people are afraid to go back out on dates because they said you’re not in date and forever. And so I think it’s the same reasoning of, I haven’t been office with other people. And so we, we are probably at least atrophying a bit.

It will come back to us. But I’m sure that’s part of it. And certainly while we are remote, we have to adjust a little about how we interact. And this is something, unfortunately not everyone has done well. So consider within your office, there’s a certain flow to the office. [00:11:00] There are the water cooler conversations or the conversations that happen when I’m just sitting next to you were at the meeting a couple of minutes early.

And so we’re just chatting and sometimes it’s just. Standard kind of talking about your life. Nothing really meaningful to the company. Sometimes you get an insight. Oh, I didn’t realize that customer is now doing this. Okay. I’m so glad you told me we’re not getting those conversations anymore because now our communications a lot more directed.

Oh, we’re going to sit down for a zoom meeting. Okay. Thanks. I want to get off this as soon as possible. So we’re losing some of that kind of spontaneous communication. That’s unplanned. And people haven’t adjusted well to that. When we go back to the office, it’s not clear if we’ll pick that up again or in what way.

So I do think there’s definitely been some changes, not sufficient changes, and there will need to be more changes when we go 

Matt McElroy: and kind of piggyback on what you said. Do you think that there’s also. It would almost make sense that there’s also like a little bit of a loss of [00:12:00] rapport between the relationships of the coworkers that, just because of they don’t have that spontaneous communication.

And it’s the, only these really directed conversations through zoom 

Mark Herschberg: a hundred percent, especially, we’ve seen lots of people change. Certainly not at the beginning of the pandemic, but now we’ve seen a lot more happening this year into the fall. And when you join a company and it’s a bunch of people on zoom and you haven’t spent time in person with them, that’s really going to impact the dynamics of you with them, with the whole team.

So imagine if the four of us joined a team and you three have known each other for years. And hi, I’m just some guy you’re seeing on the screen once in a while. I’m not going to have the same relationship. I’m looking to fit into the team as well as the three of you. And that’s something we’re going to have to address on this.

Sergio Patterson: Yeah. I’m like a hundred percent with you there. I actually, started at a new company. I’ve been virtual the whole time, so I haven’t met anyone 

in person. 

so I think it’s an interesting dynamic that we’re all going through right now. that it’s going to be tricky. I think once [00:13:00] the office has started opening and, people have the home environments that they’ve been working from and then trying to go back to the office.

it’s crazy. It’s a big change in Silicon valley 

Sergio Patterson: for sure. 

Matt McElroy: It was probably rough on some 

people I would imagine. Yeah.

Mark Herschberg: It’s gonna say long-term. I think there’s going to be a great opportunity for a reset. This is a once every hundred years change in how we do labor, but anytime you have a massive change, there’s always disruption in the short growing pains. 

Lee Michael Murphy: So mark, you’ve worked with a lot of students. You’re very experienced in this space.

In your experience, 

what is the common things that the students that are graduating lack when it comes to entering the workforce? What’s the most common ones you see that, the school system failed them or didn’t prepare them for. 


Mark Herschberg: It really is all these skills. And let me run through what they are because these skills aren’t, Hey, [00:14:00] this is what mark thinks.

This is feedback we’ve gotten from companies saying, this is what we can’t find. So the 10 skills I focus on in the book first section. Careers, how to create an execute, a career plan, how to work effectively in your office skills like managing your manager, understand the corporate culture and how you’re delivering value, how to interview.

Now that one is tricky because we think, well, we’ve all learned how to interview. In fact, colleges teach us this, but how to be an interviewer, because many of them. As we go into our careers, even a couple of years in we’re interviewing other candidates. If we don’t know how to effectively do that, we’re not going to hire the right people for our teams.

The second section leadership and management. So the fundamentals of leadership management, I break down into people management and process manager. And then the third section, the skills that are really desired by companies, communication, networking, negotiation, and ethics. [00:15:00] And just across the board. If you think about these skills and think back to college, did anyone sit you down and teach you?

maybe you took a class on negotiations. Maybe a professor spent five minutes saying you’re going to be working in teams. And let me teach you a few tips about teamwork. Great. Five minutes and a four year college career. So we really have not addressed these skills. And it kills me because we’ve all heard about these.

Mark Herschberg: How many times have you heard someone say networking is so important? It’s not what you know, it’s who, we’ve heard this for years. Well, if everyone tells us it’s so important, why did no one stop to teach it to us?

Matt McElroy: Yeah. You can say the same concept about money and finance. That’s the under, just not enough education and our school systems for that kind of, for those topics. 

Mark Herschberg: Absolutely. I think every middle school should be starting to teach financial literacy. 

Matt McElroy: A hundred percent. And especially because of the decisions that they have to make in choosing colleges and how to finance that and all that stuff they need to really have a grasp on it.

Sergio Patterson: [00:16:00] Mark, do you see any other programs like the career success accelerator? Is that happening at more campuses? Other than just MIT, 

Mark Herschberg: tiny bit in different ways. And I really have been encouraging MIT that we should expand this program. I would love other schools to pick it up. Obviously when you’re an academic institution like MIT, we’re not trying to say, oh no, this is ours.

In fact, MIT pioneered OpenCourseWare, we’ve been giving away our content for you. I do know the university of Michigan, they have started a program where their engineering students have to take certain courses that are on topics like this on career planning. I think they’ve included some financial literacy and other professional and adulting skills.

So they have one course for that. We’re seeing pockets of maybe a course for that. Unfortunately. Simply giving students lectures. I don’t think is sufficient. It’s a good start as far than what we’ve been doing, but we have to do a [00:17:00] little more in depth and I’m going to share one great way, whether you’re in school or you’re in the workplace, a great way to approach it.

Is to create peer learning groups. This is how we teach at MIT. This is how top business schools teach these skills because you can read a book like mine or other wonderful books, but it’s kind of like reading a book on basketball. You’re like, okay, great. I understand the rules of basketball. Are you ready to go and play and be a top hat?

Of course not. You actually have to go out, you have to drill, you have to scrimmage, you have to play some games. Reading might be a good first step, but you’ve got to practice it. And so in these reading groups, what you want to do is you want to say, okay, we’re going to get together. And I recommend groups about six to eight people, but there are ways you can scale.

You want to then say, we’re going to say, read this section of a book. We’re going to read these 10 pages about networking and we’re going to chat and say, [00:18:00] oh, this is really interesting. Hey, was thinking, I’m going to try this technique or, oh, that’s good. here’s a technique I’ve used in the past and we’re going to learn from each other.

Or if you have a leadership team, I can give you my advice from having been a similar challenge, or I can get your advice when I’m stuck on a problem. And so this is our way of scrimmaging because there typically isn’t some leadership practice, but you can replicate some of that. When you have these discussions with other people, I actually have a free download on my website for how you can create these programs at your organization.

And you can use my book, certainly. Look, here’s the secret. If you don’t want to use my book, use a different book, use one of the many others. I recommend use your favorite leadership or networking or negotiation book use great podcasts like this one. It doesn’t have to be a book, listen to this podcast every week and discuss it in your group.

The key point is, as we learn these skills, it’s not like learning accounting where you say memorize these three rules because there’s no three rules for [00:19:00] leaders. You want to say, let’s talk about this idea and discuss it as a group. And that’s how you’re really going to develop much faster is by using your peers and for this period.


Matt McElroy: I totally agree with that. And like in practicing law, we kinda, like we say, we refer to that like, as our superpower is the collaboration. Like every time that we collaborate with other lawyers and have like a group think it, the final product just is on another level. And I feel like that. And it’s like to anything, any, you could take that approach to any type of thing.

It doesn’t just have to be or school or anything. Collaboration is just really a powerful. 

Mark Herschberg: Exactly and many companies. If you think about companies normally spend a couple thousand dollars to send you to maybe a two day training class. Well, this cost them nothing. It’s saying, look, take an hour every other week and have this discussion.

There is zero cost to them and it engages employees across the [00:20:00] board. It’s a win for the company on multiple levels. 


Lee Michael Murphy: Mark. One question I have is, how do people know when they lack the soft skills? So in my experience, I work with some people that, went to prestigious schools and,they’re very smart and intelligent, but they’re the last person in the room that knows that they lack soft skills.

So like, what are ways that. people can be more self-aware that? Hey, this is something we need to work on. 

Mark Herschberg: Yeah, you’re talking to one of those people because when I came out of MIT, I was a pretty smart guy and certainly had good stem skills and quickly I started to run into problems. And one reason we face this is because the type of work we do in college work tends to be pretty individualistic.

And yes, colleges are switching to, oh, we want more team projects, but that’s still the exception, not the rule. If you think about most of what you do in college, It’s [00:21:00] writing papers or doing problem sets. If you’re in a stem field, it’s taking tests, these are all individual and you’re just getting the right answers.

The more right answers. The more you win. It doesn’t matter if people like you or want to work with you. It’s just, did you get the right answers? When we get into the office place, right? Answers are still valued. But if you’re finding people, aren’t listening to me or wait, why don’t we go with his idea?

That’s not as good as mine, or you’re having trouble connecting to your peers. People aren’t wanting to engage with you as much as they are with other people. These are some of the signs that maybe you need to work on. Some of these relationship based skills. One technique, by the way you can use this comes from my friend, Dorie Clark.

She’s written a number of great books, including reinventing you. She said, here’s what you do. 


Mark Herschberg: Go to all your peers and say, can you give me three adjectives? That describes me just three adjectives [00:22:00] until you go to a number of people and you get those adjectives and then you put them all together and you see, are there patterns?

So one thing that was clear to me early, I didn’t formally do this, but I definitely noticed some feedback. Logical or intelligent quantitative. Those were all very strong attributes. No one ever wondered, oh, is this too technical for mark? I definitely was perceived as someone who is very technical and very smart in that area, but no one was saying team player or leader.

And so you can recognize, well, okay, I’m good here, but I’m not hearing leader. And if, as you’re talking to your manager about. Job. You want that promotion. You want to get to where you need to be a leader. Your manager might say, we have to work on your leadership skills. If you’re not hearing leader. If you’re not hearing that at the adjectives and attributes that align to the skills you need for that next job, that’s an indication that you have a shortcoming in your skillset and that’s where you need to [00:23:00] work.

Lee Michael Murphy: Wow. That’s great advice. Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of scary though, right? You say, Hey, write this breakfast on the piece of paper. I mean, I might cry myself to sleep after I read all the pieces of paper, man, I guess that’s at 

Matt McElroy: least to do this exercise for 

Lee Michael Murphy: a piece of paper and it says douche bag. I know it’s Matt.

Mark Herschberg: one thing I’ve done. As a manager. I do something similar when I join a company and I’m in charge fatigue. I want to get quick feedback, 30, 60 days in. I want to make sure things are going well. And yes, I could ask the CEO, although honestly, most of the ESL, yeah, you’re doing fine. They really, unfortunately don’t engage, but I certainly want to make sure I’m doing well with my team.

Now it’s a lot harder to get honest feedback from them. So, what I do is I get a volunteer from the team and I would say, okay, Lee, great, you volunteered. Thank you. Here’s what we’re going to do. Everyone give your feedback on me to Lee, because now everyone knows, [00:24:00] you can say, mark is a jerk. I will know, cause you’re handing it to Lee and Lee and you trust Lee that he’s not going to say, Hey, this is from Matt, right?

So it comes from Lee and Lee can also put in he’s a jerk because he knows it’s in this anonymous pool. And I don’t know if it was from him or from someone else. And so you can, if you’re not comfortable asking people directly. You could just ask one person and say, Hey everyone, can you go to this one teammate and give her all the feedback she’s going to collect it and give it to me.

And this way, I’m not going to know it’s from you. You could ask HR if they’re going to do something like this, they might be able to do it for the whole team or the whole organization. So other people can benefit as well. 


Sergio Patterson: Hey mark. I was curious just to build on, what we were talking about with soft skills, for our listener out there, who’s fresh out of college.


technical, pretty much what you described yourself as, right? Like 

that guy or 

Sergio Patterson: girl who just doesn’t think they need to spend the time on soft skills. Like, can you talk to us a little bit about the consequences or [00:25:00] ramifications of not focusing on that early in your career? I know you’d mentioned leadership, but w what else comes to mind for you?

If you don’t pay attention to this, 

Mark Herschberg: I may give you a wonderful analogy that works very well for this group. This comes from my friend, professor Charles Lizer said at MIT said, let’s imagine we’re going to do a little math here. tiny, easy math. Let’s imagine a rectangle. That’s four by ten. You need to increase one of the sides by two units and you want to maximize the area.

So do you lengthen the long side or the short side and feel free to pause this podcast? If you need a moment to think of that, 

Sergio Patterson: I’m not good at math. So I’m already, 

Lee Michael Murphy: yeah, he grabbed the wrong guys. 

Mark Herschberg: Hopefully with you increase the force side, you have four to six units for six. Yeah. Okay, great. So what does sixth grade math have to do with our careers?

What let’s think conceptually, why does it make sense to increase the short side? [00:26:00] It’s because every unit of length you add to the short side is multiplied by that long side. If you add those units. So alongside, it’s only multiplied by the short side. So that long side is basically amplifying these other skills.

Now let’s think about. What this means for us. If you have two skills, let’s say you are a brilliant person in whatever field you’re in. Maybe it’s accounting, maybe it’s chemistry, but you are a horrible communicator. We probably all think back to some professor who. Presumably brilliant, but a horrible professor.

Oh, this is so painful. 

So if you are deeply brilliant, but you can’t communicate well, then as we said before, your ideas, aren’t going to get out there. People aren’t going to listen to you. They’re not going to want to engage with you. And so what you are is this long, thin narrow rectangle. If you focus on your short side, what you’re doing [00:27:00] is you’re increasing your overall area and you get a better return, a better ROI.

Answer 2.1

Mark Herschberg: When you focus on these short skills, if you just learn to be a slightly better communicator, maybe that means slightly better public speaker. Maybe it means just communicating to people who don’t have your technical knowledge. If you’re better at networking and just extend your network a little bit.

Better at negotiating or leading just Kang a little bit better. It’s going to have this massive ROI. And of course we’re more than just two skills. This is more than two dimensionals when it comes to us. But when you just focus on that one skill and you get so thin and narrow, you don’t have a lot of area, a lot of contribution that you can give.

Answer 2.2

Mark Herschberg: So really what you want to do is recognize that the best ROI, the best way to increase your overall area and capability in this model. Is to focus on some of your short sides. Now I’ll note, you do have to continue on that long side. I work in technology, the tech we’re using today that didn’t exist 10 years [00:28:00] ago in law.

You have to take the CLS because if you don’t, you’re out of touch. So yes, work on your long sides too, but don’t do so by completely abdicating those shorts. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Yeah, I love that’s exponential development right there. And I think for most people they think, well, is it really gonna make that big, a difference that right there shows?

Yeah. It can make a massive 

Mark Herschberg: difference.

 Well, let’s give an example of how much difference it makes. Let’s take negotiations as an example, suppose you’re 25 years old and you have a job offer for $60,000 instead of taking that job. As it is, you say, okay, I’ve learned to negotiate. I’m going to go back and negotiate a thousand dollars more.

You’re going to negotiate for $61,000. That’s not a wildly big negotiation. That seems reasonable. If you accept that job and you do nothing else in your life, if you sit in this job for the next 40 years, you just earned a thousand dollars more [00:29:00] for 40 years, one, five minute negotiation, and you got $40,000.

When have you ever earned $40,000 in five minutes? But of course, you’re saying, well, look, I’m not going to sit in that job for 40 years. You’re going to have promotions. You’re going to have raises. You’re going to have other jobs. You’re going to negotiate for more than just a thousand dollars. And it’s not just going to be money.

It’s going to be other things as well by learning to negotiate by just getting a little bit better. We’re not talking about negotiating peace in the middle east. Come on, just getting a little bit better. You can add tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to your lifetime earnings.

That’s massive. And now here’s the secret negotiation. That’s the easiest to show this because we have so more money and we can add up the money. No, one’s going to say, Hey, you’re a slightly better leader. Here’s a thousand dollars more. It doesn’t quite work that way, but by being that slightly better, By having this slightly better network, [00:30:00] you start to get more opportunities and that’s going to accelerate your growth.

That will also add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your earnings. It just won’t be as direct as here’s the X dollars more. So all of these skills, just getting that little bit better. Over your lifetime, as you said, it’s exponential growth. It is massive. The return you’re going to get

Lee Michael Murphy: amazing mindset. 

Matt McElroy: That’s just great advice, peoplethey don’t think about it like that. and thinking that far ahead. it’s huge. And I think that’s what a lot of people, especially when they’re just graduating from college, they just don’t have that mindset.

Lee Michael Murphy: I think it just we’re trying to learn. Right? Like it just, I think some people think, well, maybe it’s not worth always being a student or always. Innovating yourself because you’re thinking about the rectangle. You’re like, ah, is it worth the effort , the hours that I’m putting in to get that much better?

Yes, it is. If you think about it the way you put it, I love that. 

Mark Herschberg: If you think about how much time does it take to read a single book on negotiations, [00:31:00] eight hours. 10 hours. And if you do that, you’re going to spend, let’s say $30 on a book. You’re going to spend 10 hours reading it.

Whatever your hourly rate is, let’s pretend you make a hundred dollars an hour. Okay. So that just costs you $800 plus a 30 for the book, and then the five minutes for the negotiation. And if you get that thousand dollars more, you just earn that money back. Instantly plus all the rest of the years where you’re going to be using this, you get an immediate return on investment, typically within a year or two for these skills.

It’s just not within a week or two, but you will get it back quickly.

Matt McElroy: 

Mark do you see, a big problem with, especially these newer grads that are like having these kinds of entitlement issues. Like, Hey, I got this degree from, wherever and I deserve this money and I don’t need these soft skills because my degree speaks for itself.

I mean, do you see that, a common trend now? 

Mark Herschberg: So having taught for 20 years, I’ve been teaching sophomores for 20 [00:32:00] years and I’ve certainly seen the demographic trends. I saw the rise of the millennials. Now we’re seeing, I heard them called the zennials. I think the name is still a little to be determined.

And we did see some of that with the millennials, the entitlement attitude, the I’ve been here six months. Why have I got to their promotion? definitely sauce on that. It’s not as strong with the next generation, in fact, so far. And granted my experience, it’s very anecdotal because I’m looking at, a couple hundred sophomores and these are sophomores at MIT.

So they’re not exactly the average sophomore. Yeah, no, I’m seeing better collaboration and teamwork like seems so far. And again, it’s anecdotal is this generation says, okay, you know what? We just we’ve got big problems. Let’s just roll up our sleeves. Let’s get it done. Let’s figure it out. Good collaboration, teamwork.

Good commitment to the mission. If you buy into the [00:33:00] Strauss, how generational theory. I’m leaning towards, they are the, big problem-solver generation. And so far, what I’ve seen seems to tie in.


Matt McElroy: when did you start to notice that kind of shift to that mindset 

Mark Herschberg: in the last maybe two or three years? This year we were teaching virtually. So I didn’t get to connect with my students quite as well, but I definitely saw a strongly last year. And again, it could just be that particular year.

In fact, one thing MIT does and lots of schools do is each year they kind of change the dials on admissions. Oh, we want people this year who are just more pure quant nerds, or we want people this year who are a little more. soft skill based. So he could have even just been a swing from the admissions office.

I really need to see it over 6, 7, 8 years.

Sergio Patterson: I’m wondering if COVID had a little bit of impact on that. I think it’s humbled everyone with the environment, there’s the job market. 

that could play a little 

part. mark, I was curious, [00:34:00] you do some work with nonprofits, right?

There’s techie youth and plant a million corrals. Can you touch on that? 

Mark Herschberg: Yeah, I’ve worked with many great nonprofits over the years. These are two that I’m currently on the board of now techie youth. We started, I think about five, six years ago. COVID all the time seems to blur. We are looking at-risk youth, primarily in the New York area, but we’re starting to expand this year.

So these are kids in the foster care system. Kids who sometimes have struggled with law and authority. Many of these students. They’re not going to graduate high school. They have little chance of going to college. And so they’re destined for minimum wage jobs. By putting them in this program, we began by teaching them basic it skills think help desk.

And if we can just get them enough skills that we can get them an internship level job. Now, for those of us who went to college and grad school, you might be thinking, yeah, internship level it desk doesn’t [00:35:00] sound great. But here’s the key. This goes to that little shift, just like we talked about in our careers, how a little bit of a shift makes a big difference.

If you are working a minimum wage job. You’re just, you’re struggling each week to get by if something happens. So when Sandy came in, hurricane Sandy that hit New York, about 10 years ago, and these businesses said, you know what? You just, you can’t come into the office. You can’t come into work because we’re closed down.

Suddenly they lose a week’s worth of pay. They’re living paycheck to paycheck. Huge problem. But if you are working. In the it department of this company, these companies would say, Hey, don’t come in this week, but we’re white collar workers. Don’t worry. We’re still going to pay you. And especially now, many of us can work remote the fact that they are in this office.

And they’re next to someone more senior who can say, well, let me show you how to do this. They can continue to grow and to learn. So this small change in their direction, just going from minimum wage to these, maybe not necessarily much more money. Or [00:36:00] any more money, but suddenly you’re in a different environment.

We put them on a path where they can develop a career. I’ve done similar work with streetwise partners and another wonderful organization. And then the second group plant a million corals. So Dr. David Bond figured out a way to fast grow corals. as some of you might know the oceans because they’re warming up, a lot of corals are dying and corals are really, those are the cities of the.

Most Marine life is found near coral reefs. So if we lose the corals, we’re going to just really collapse the ocean ecosystem. What we need to do now, just like plant a million trees said we’re deforesting. We have to fix that with plant a million corals. We want to repopulate the coral population of the world and really support the ocean’s eco that’s.

Lee Michael Murphy: Awesome. Good work. 

Mark Herschberg: Yeah. Two great organizations. 

Lee Michael Murphy: So mark, you’ve done a lot of work with [00:37:00] leadership. I’ve noticed that you’ve you help people go down that path of becoming better leaders. And I think a common, problem that people run into is they want to advance in their career. And,they come out of college.

They’re very ambitious. The whole world is their oyster. And then, You end up hitting these roadblocks and maybe it’s external. Maybe it’s internal. Probably a lot of times it’s a combination of both, but we plateau and people, I think for the most part, want to get, want to have the best version of themselves.

They want to be great leaders. What does that look like?

 If you feel like, Hey, you’ve plateaued and you want to become a leader, where do you start looking at in terms of self-reflection and then at the organization? 

Only Vid

Mark Herschberg: I would begin by doing some self-assessment where do I think I’m strong and weak getting that feedback.

And maybe it’s from peers. Maybe it’s from managers, maybe it’s from others. And [00:38:00] then also looking to leaders, you had. Whether those are leaders on TV, people who you recognize and follow, whether it’s reading biographies, whether it’s people in your companies look at what they do. So let me give you a very concrete example.

A lot of people, this is we’re going to talk about whiteboards for a second. A lot of people, when they walk up to the whiteboard, they just kind of start scribbling. And my first manager, he did this amazing job. His whiteboards always look so organized and clear, and I just, I knew they were good, but I didn’t know what it was.

So I started to watch him and thought, what is it that he does? I noticed you did a few things. And they even asked him about it. So he did a few things at the whiteboard. One can actually use multiple pens. Most people just pick up the marker and that’s the mark of the right everything with, and that’s fine for some things, but maybe if you’re saying let’s compare two different choices.

Well, we’re going to do one in blue and wanting green, [00:39:00] or we’re going to diagram the system. Let’s show the current system let’s show the proposed changes in a different color, like very small thing, but makes the diagram much more useful. He also thinks ahead of time about the space on the whiteboard.

What am I going to put in where instead of just starting in the middle and then programming things in, he thinks about, and only takes two or three seconds. Okay. I need to put the diagram. I need to put a list. I need to then have space for comments. How am I going to do this? And then he thinks about how he’s going to lay it out.

So by first, recognizing he had certain skills, I couldn’t say what they were. I just knew it was better than what I did. And then I started to focus. What exactly does he do? And then I even spoke to him about it. I was able to replicate those skills. So when you are. Thinking about your leadership or really any skills.

So we think about what are the things that I do well now. And then as I look at this other leader, I admire, I want to break down what is it that this leader does west great advice [00:40:00] and do what you can on your own. You might talk to this leader. If it’s someone you know, or someone in your company, you might even in this peer learning group say, Hey guys, I was just watching Jen, give that talk to the whole company where she talked about this new initiative.

And I was just blown away. I’m trying to think what was it? I’m trying to break it down. What you guys see and you’re going to share your thoughts and insights. Cause especially if it’s something I haven’t focused on, I might even be blind to what exactly she’s doing. So here again, we can use that pure learning group to help us.


Mark Herschberg: And once you recognize that gap, once you say, okay, I can do these three things. But here are four others I’m not yet doing well, then you’ve got your plan over the next, whatever time period. I want to work on each one of those four and develop it.

Yeah. Say it makes me want 

Sergio Patterson: to,it’s clear. You’re a good leader. thinking back, I dunno, did you envision yourself always leading people, leading teams? You’ve been a CTO for quite some time. Has that always been, 

Mark Herschberg: or did it just happen? 

If you met me when I was in college, you [00:41:00] would not have thought of me as a good leader. But there were just things I developed. One thing I learned early on, I remember in the fraternity I was in at MIT, we would have our monthly meeting and I would always sit there with my laundry list. Here’s all the things we need to do better.

And everyone they would groan. We used to, we pass around the gavel at the end of the meeting where anyone could basically offer talks and we come to me, everyone grows, oh, Herschberg’s got his long list of ideas. What I recognize there, there was this one, man. He now he works for the state department. He is a born diplomat.

He won’t speak much, but when he would speak, everyone would listen. 

And one of the things I learned at that point was okay, I need to talk less. Because hitting everyone with way too much, they’re not going to listen to it. And so it was little things like that. It was also early in my career. When I recognized I want to be a CTO.


Mark Herschberg: I thought about what makes someone a good CTO. I did that kind of assessment [00:42:00] being a good CTO, chief technology officer. It’s not about being the best programmer. And if you think about our career path, wherever you’re starting, you might be a software developer, an accountant, a marketer. Chemist again, whatever you’re doing, you say, okay, well, I’m going to do this particular mechanical skill.

And if I do a well, I get promoted, I do a little more of it. I do a little more, and you’re doing bigger projects and more complex things, but you’re doing an individual level. You’re just doing this skill on a bigger picture. When you switched to being a first-level manager, it changes it’s no longer about you solving the problem bigger, faster, or better than anyone else.

It’s about you getting the team to solve the problem. That’s a very different set of skills. And so we get into this trap of thinking, well, I’m gaining success by just doing more of the same, more of this individual skill, but you have to switch what skills you’re focused on. I’m not a great software [00:43:00] developer anymore.

I don’t spend a lot of time writing code. I’m pretty rusty, but I focus on these other skills. So early on I said, okay, what are the skills I need? You know what? I don’t have great leadership skills. I’m not so good at public speaking. I started working on that in high school. I knew I was bad.


all these other skills I had to set out and learn them. And so I created my career plan. What skills are you going to pick up at what time to get to where I want to go. 


Sergio Patterson: Love it. I think it’s so valuable, especially for our listeners. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Yeah. That’s great. Yeah. It seems like the mindset you have.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with growth mindset versus fixed mindset. you are right? Yes. So you’re are you definitely a big believer in growth? 

Mark Herschberg: Hundred percent and I’ll share something else. We didn’t have this terms when I was growing up, but my mother taught me the concept of internal locus of control versus extra look.

[00:44:00] Are you responsible for where you’re going now? Yes, there are external factors and that could be your company just went out of business, could be a global pandemic. We know there are external factors that will impact you. There’s nothing I can do about this global pandemic, but how I choose to respond to it, how I prepare for what I choose to do in the moment that is totally under my control.

Do I invest in my skills or do I say, you know what? I don’t think I’m going to get promoted at this point. Right. If you feel like the company is not going to give me this opportunity, it’s up to you to say, well, I’m going to either prove them wrong, or I’m going to find a different company. So it’s taking that control and that growth mindset of I can change wherever I am today.

I can change and be something different presumably better tomorrow, if you don’t believe that to me, the fixed mindset is. It reminds me of determinism in religious philosophy of, [00:45:00] oh, well, God has set this course for me. And therefore I just have to go along and accept whatever comes my way. 

I am very much a believer in that we can control our own fate.


Mark Herschberg: Obviously there’s exceptions on the margin, but we can certainly take control, but it’s in your hands, what you want to do and where you want. 

Lee Michael Murphy: The research, I believe for growth mindset came out of Stanford. And let’s just say, we all believe that , you’re in control of what you know, and how smart you are and how your brain functions.

and we want to learn these soft skills. I know you have a way for people to do that. What is your method of how you train these people that want to learn these things? 

Mark Herschberg: Yeah. So this is where you want to use that pure learning group. And so you can get the free download on the resources page on my website.

You want to create these groups? You can do it. I recommend groups about six or eight people, but you can also do it. If you want larger groups of say 20 people or your company wants to in groups of 50 there’s ways to do that. And it’s having these discussions.[00:46:00] You can supplement that in some ways, just having those discussions alone.

I think you are going way ahead of everyone else. And remember, it’s not about being the best in the world. It’s about outrunning everyone you’re competing against. So this already is going to put you in the lead, but you can do, if you want other types of exercises. For example, with negotiations, there are case studies are used at business schools and they’re sold and you can buy these and we can basically role play.

The four of us might be in a negotiation. And we’re going to all say we got a roll sheets. I’m the head of finance. You’re the head of sales. You’re the head of marketing. Right? And so we, we have different roles in different outcomes and we try to negotiate. And that is a practice negotiation that we can do.

It’s like playing that scrimmage game in sports. So within this learning group, you can do the readings. You can do the discussion. And really when we talk about what challenge someone’s facing in leadership, that is a case [00:47:00] study. That’s a real case study, or we can use one of these third-party case studies and it’s just through this practice and training that we can get better.

So yes, read books. Sure. You can read my book, read other books. Love it. If you do that. But do so in a discussion group because that’s where the real learning comes. And whether you use my book, use this podcast, use any other great resource that’s what’s going to accelerate your growth. Now, 

Lee Michael Murphy: when it comes to the negotiation, is this kind of like the skills of Donald Trump, the art of the negotiation you’ll fire.

Mark Herschberg: Yeah. He has been a horrible negotiator. If you look at that. Oh, his nails, it is just nominally bad. It’s saying, Hey, you know what? I’ve been getting 5% returns in the stock market. Good. Yeah. Well, mark, the average returns are 8%. Yeah. If I’m getting five, well, if you did nothing and just gave it to someone else, you could have gotten a, Hey, [00:48:00] his, if you look at some of the deals, just truly horrible and atrocious negotiators also know he, he uses this old style of thinking.

The only way for me to win is for you to lose. 

Lee Michael Murphy: That 

Mark Herschberg: philosophy was, it is very much so that’s his philosophy in everything. We see this again and again, good negotiators know there’s this concept of we’re trying to divide the pie, but are there ways we can expand the pie? Because if I am getting 60% of the pie.

But I expand the pause. So you’re getting 40%. If I spend it enough, you might say, well, now you’re only getting 20%, but such a bigger piece. You’re happy with only 20% or it might be right. If on the other side, on the personal gain, 20%, I went down from 40 to 20% of the pie so much bigger. And so mentoring might say, oh, well, I’m getting a smaller piece now.[00:49:00] 

Percent-wise I’m losing in that sense. I’m getting a bigger sense overall. 

And so good negotiators recognize it is about how you expand that pie, how you come up with creative solutions and make sure the other side feels they are doing well, because if they’re not going to enter the deal.


Mark Herschberg: Yeah. And then of course you want as big a piece as you can for yourself, you are still looking out for your interest, but it’s not about I’m here to screw you. It’s about gain the biggest piece I can. And if that means handing you a bigger piece too, I’m happy to do it. 

Matt McElroy: It’s just really understanding everybody’s pretty different perspectives and then negotiation 

Sergio Patterson: and like compromise.

Right. I think with every negotiation there’s gotta be some 

Mark Herschberg: compromise there. Yes. And so you’ve hit upon. 

Understanding someone else’s perspective, how to communicate into that perspective. How do I convince you that this piece I’m offering you is better than the piece that you proposed because communication skills play into negotiations.[00:50:00] 


Mark Herschberg: And negotiations are a good technique for leaders. All these skills build upon each other. And that’s one reason I wrote the book as I did. There’s lots of great books on leadership on negotiations, but putting them together in one book, they can build upon each other and forced each other. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Mark, where can we get your book?

I would love to read it. 

Mark Herschberg: You can get on Amazon. It’s also sold through local bookstores. They might have to order it. If it’s not in stock, libraries are now picking up and carrying it. You can go to my website, the career toolkit, and there’s a button. If you click the buy button, it’s going to show you the different places you can buy.

On the website, you can also get in touch with me. Follow me on social media. There’s the apps page. And that’s going to take you to the Android and iPhone store. We can download the free companion app to the book. That’s a good way to help reinforce what you’re reading or just check out the app if you’re not yet sure about the book and watch.

What’s some of the content. And then there’s the resources [00:51:00] page that has the downloads. I mentioned how to create this peer learning. It’s got links to a whole bunch of other books that I referenced links to other free resources online, all of this on the website, the career toolkit, Mark. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Thank you for joining us, man.

You were excellent resource. We learned a ton from you. Thank you so much for coming on our show. 

Mark Herschberg: Thanks for having me guys. I’ve really enjoyed it. I want to 

Lee Michael Murphy: close with one question. Just, just to send it out since you’ve done so much work in development and leadership and helping out the young generation, best advice for the millennials moving forward and best advice to the zinnias or we call them millennials.

Is that official. 

Mark Herschberg: Let’s go with for now. 

Lee Michael Murphy: Yeah. love to hear that as we close, 

Mark Herschberg: if you are a millennial. Recognize you’re still early enough in your career. You should still think about career [00:52:00] planning. Think about where you want to go in 10 or 20 years and create that path and execute on. And that means not only will, these are the jobs I want, but what are the skills you’re going to need to get there?

And this career plan should include what are those. skill development steps. You’re going to take along the way to get you where you want to go for the zonules. Certainly this same advice applies. Do everything I just said, you might be earlier in your career and not certain exactly where you want to go talk to everyone.

You can talk to people in different jobs and say, Hey, tell me about your job. What is it you like, what is it you don’t like, what do you actually do day to day? And at the same time, also pay attention to what are the trends that we see. We know, for example, Healthcare is a growing trend. We know environmental impact is a growing trend.

So think about the different jobs out there. And what sounds interesting and not think about [00:53:00] what are the mega trends that might be impacting the job market to help you as you plan the direction you might want to go in your career, because you’re probably at a point you haven’t necessarily fixated on an industry or pick your path yet.

Lee Michael Murphy: Awesome. Thank you. You’ve been listening to the free retiree show so long for now. 

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