Join us today for the Saturday Night Special with Mentor expert Ruth Gotian...

In this episode Ruth Gotain and I talk about what all high performers do...

In tonight’s Saturday Night Special I talk with Ruth Gotain.  I ask Ruth about how she's become a recognized leader in the field of leadership.  I also ask Ruth to share her definition of mentorship and leadership.  I also ask Ruth to share what she's learned from studying high achievers what we can do to improve our performance.

Join in on the Chat below.

SNS96 Saturday Night Special - Interview with Ruth Gotain from the Mentor Project
[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: [00:00:00] Thanks for joining us on tonight's Saturday night, special episode 96.
[00:00:07] Ruth Gotain: [00:00:07] Yeah. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to improve consistently over time is key.
[00:00:22] And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this, the inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott Mader.
[00:00:29]I study extreme high achievers. And I basically made myself the Guinea pig, what they did I did. And they compartmentalize. So every, there was laser focus, everything had to align with that goal. And if it didn't align with the goal, it was put on pause. So I had to fire myself from lots of extracurricular activities.
[00:00:55] Scott Maderer: [00:00:55] Welcome, and thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcasts. [00:01:00] If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast. We'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence.
[00:01:18] So that you can impact the work
[00:01:21]tonight's episode with Ruth go Chan. I asked Ruth about how she's become a recognized leader in the field and some of the challenges that have come up. As she's gone on this journey. I asked her also to share her definition of mentoring and leadership and what she's learned by studying high achievers about what works we can do to improve our own performance and lots more, one area that a lot of folks need.
[00:01:50] Some help with is around the area of productivity, getting not just more things done, but actually getting the right [00:02:00] things done can be really tough. I've got a course called productivity for your passion. That's designed to help you do this and then to hold you accountable and walk with you so that you can tailor productivity, not just to be getting more done.
[00:02:18] But actually getting the right things done. What's more, we take the approach of looking at your personality and how you actually look at things in the world and tailor the productivity system to your personality. Cause the truth is a lot of the systems that are out there are written really well for somebody with a particular personality type.
[00:02:38] But if you have a different approach to things, they just don't work, but there's tools and techniques and approaches that you can take that will work for anyone. And we help you do that and productivity for your passion. Check it out slash launch.
[00:02:57]Ruth is the chief [00:03:00] learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Wale Cornell medicine. She is recognized as an export and mentoring and leadership development and contributes to Forbes on the topic of optimizing success. She's personally coached and mentored thousands of people and is currently researching the most successful people of our generation, including Nobel laureates, astronauts, fortune 500 CEOs and Olympians.
[00:03:28] And she's doing this in order to learn about their habits and practices so that we can learn to optimize our own success. Welcome to the show. Ruth,
[00:03:38] Ruth Gotain: [00:03:38] thank you so much. I'm excited to be here with you.
[00:03:41] Scott Maderer: [00:03:41] It is great to have you. As we talked about in the intro, you are recognized as a leader in your field around mentoring and leadership development and these sorts of things, and you don't get to.
[00:03:57] Be recognized as a leader in a field [00:04:00] without having some challenges come up along the way. I don't think you just fell out of, fell out of the, off the apple cart with, oh, look, I'm a leader, so can you share some of the challenges that came up along the way that helped or got you to where you are today?
[00:04:13] Ruth Gotain: [00:04:13] So it's been quite a journey. And I think like most people it's never a straight line, so I started out my bachelor's and master's in business. I worked in finance, went back to work in higher ed and academic medicine. And here I was someone with a business degree working in an academic medical center where everyone around me has very different degrees, very different backgrounds, very different.
[00:04:39] Aspirations. And we were all working toward a common goal, but we were speaking different languages in terms of our professional languages and the Venn diagram of what we needed. Didn't always interact. So I had to find a way to really get us all on the [00:05:00] same page. And the way I decided to do it was actually by living out a dream that I have had for over 20 years, I decided at the age of 43, I was going back to school to get my doctorate, which I did while continuing to work full time.
[00:05:15] And I think that was critical because. I was using real lived experiences in everything that I studied and everything that I wrote about. So I wasn't going to school in a vacuum. I was talking about and researching and writing about things that were actually happening with the goal that we can find solutions to the everyday challenges.
[00:05:41] So I did it, got my degree and haven't looked back.
[00:05:44]Scott Maderer: [00:05:44] And I think so a lot of Folks can think about that transition. So you're working full time and going to school and, doctorate probably requires a little bit of time. So how did you balance those two? How did I do
[00:05:58] Ruth Gotain: [00:05:58] that while raising a [00:06:00] family
[00:06:00] Scott Maderer: [00:06:00] and having a life?
[00:06:02]Ruth Gotain: [00:06:02] There wasn't a life and taking care of my parents. I study extreme high achievers. And I basically made myself the Guinea pig, what they did I did, and they compartmentalize. So there was a laser focus. Everything had to align with that goal. And if it didn't align with the goal, it was put on pause.
[00:06:24] So I had to fire myself from lots of extracurricular activities. I had to go on a leave of absence from some of my other obligations everything had to do with working towards that goal because I knew it wasn't forever. And I knew that the more focused I could be, the faster I would finish. So did I miss out on a lot of great activities?
[00:06:49] Sure. But. Now I have that thing that I wanted so badly, and I can go to those activities. Those activities will, most of them will come around again, [00:07:00] but it was helpful. It was challenging. There's no question. When I had to go on flights and I was on a regular route between two suits, the flight attendants already knew who I was because some of those flights were long and I was the one in the back by their galley with my.
[00:07:16] Articles that I had to read and a highlighter and everyone, they already knew who I was. I was coming. So every bag had a highlighter and had a pen, every car ride I was reading. When you get your doctorate, you have to read a hundred pages per class, per week. So I was taking multiple classes and had to write papers every single week.
[00:07:38] But again, they were all related to what I was passionate about. So yeah. It was all related. It wasn't about something abstract. So I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it.
[00:07:50] Scott Maderer: [00:07:50] So let's talk a little bit about that. You just mentioned, you study high achievers and you took some of those lessons from what you'd been studying to actually help you achieve your goal.
[00:08:00] [00:07:59] So if you could share with us, what are some of the top two or three things that you share for others to be able to improve their performance learning from what you've studied. I'm actually
[00:08:12] Ruth Gotain: [00:08:12] going to give you four. Okay, so there's actually four of them. First one, it's a bonus. First one.
[00:08:19] And I think this is the most critical. You have to find out what you're passionate about. You have to find out what wakes you up in the morning. What makes you whistle on the way to work, what you are intrinsically motivated to do? And this is different from extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation means you would do it for free.
[00:08:39] If you could. You love it. You're probably already doing parts of it for free extrinsic means you're doing it for something that someone else can judge it's for a diploma it's for an award it's for a bonus. Those are extrinsic. Those people usually fail out or burn out. And I want to share a little [00:09:00] stories as it relates to that.
[00:09:01] There's something we talked earlier about how I went to get a doctorate. There's something, when you get your doctorate, that's called ABD all, but dissertation. These are the people who've taken all of the coursework, but never did the independent research which they have to do then right then defend.
[00:09:19] So the people who did all the coursework are called ABD all but dissertation, which is what you're called until you defend your dissertation. And I was taking one of the last classes I had to take. And the professor said, so why are you getting your doctorate? She asked everyone in the class. And I remember sitting there and looking around us, people gave the answers, the people who were doing it because they were so passionate about their topic.
[00:09:45] They were so passionate about really getting into the depth of what they were studying. Those people finished in record time. The people who were doing it because I need to do it to get a promotion. I D I needed to for [00:10:00] the recognition, et cetera, et cetera, didn't finish. They became ABDS. So they had the extrinsic motivation, and I actually went back years later to see if any of them finished.
[00:10:14] They still haven't finished because there was something extrinsic that was motivating. And, those are going to be fleeting there. They're going to be gone. Then you have nothing else to fuel your fire. So you have to find your passion from within that's number one, number two, you need to have a strong work ethic.
[00:10:33] You need to have the skills for sure, but you need to put in the work. We have lots of talented musicians, lots of talented athletes, but if they don't put in the work, they're not going to get. To be the top players, right? You have to put in a ton of work. This is whatever fields you go into, music, athletics, science, whatever it is you have to be able to put in that work ethic.
[00:10:56] I actually got to interview former clerks of the [00:11:00] late justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg that all told me about her incredible work ethic. That was the one of the common threads. With all of them. The third one is you have to have a strong foundation that you're constantly reinforcing. So if we're going back to the sports analogy, the same drills that you would see the Olympians doing are the same drills you would see in a junior high gym.
[00:11:25] It doesn't change. Sure. They might do it better. They might do it faster. They might do it more efficiently. They might have more expensive sneakers, but a succinct drill. So you have to do that as well. You can't say I got the prize. I no longer have to do the basic stuff. You have to have that strong foundation.
[00:11:41] You have to constantly reinforce that foundation. Now the last one. Is high achievers are constantly learning. So they don't say I got the Nobel. I don't need to learn anymore. No, there's always more to learn and there's always diverse people. You can learn it from. [00:12:00] So they're constantly looking for ways to learn.
[00:12:03] So forget about the habits that you hear. People saying you have to read for five, six, seven, eight hours a day. You have to wake up at five in the morning. No, that doesn't work for everyone. We can not make these blanket statements. But you can learn informally and everyone does it differently. Some people may want to read books.
[00:12:21] Other people might want something shorter, like a blog or an article. Some people might want to hear things like this podcast. Some people might want video. YouTube. There are people who are just watching YouTube because they're shorter and it's better with their attention span. There are other people who learn by talking to people, which is how I learn.
[00:12:41]And I actually picked a doctoral advisor who would answer questions, not just for articles, for me to read. We talked through challenges. So those are all common ways. Now, the other way that people are learning and the high achievers, they all have mentors, not just one, they have a whole team [00:13:00] of them.
[00:13:01] So they're constantly learning from these people. So those are the four things that all high achievers have, but here is the secret sauce. You're ready. Okay. You can't just pick and choose which of the four you're going to do. You must do all four together. That is critical. You must do all four,
[00:13:20] Scott Maderer: [00:13:20] right?
[00:13:21]And what's, ironic is I think so a lot of us want. It's the, there's an app for that mentality. The give, give me the tool, give me the magic thing that if I just plug into this tool, then it's going to fix all of this. But really these are much more about mindset, much more about belief.
[00:13:42] And then just about, putting in the reps, spending the time to do what you need to do to get to where you want to go.
[00:13:50] Ruth Gotain: [00:13:50] That's right. And not being afraid to say, I don't know. It's okay to say, I don't know. That's part of the process. I don't know. And the [00:14:00] failures and the missteps and the challenges.
[00:14:02] No, one's above challenges. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you want. Everyone's got challenges. But the difference in, Scott, what you said, it's exactly right. It's about the mindset and the mindset of extreme high achievers. It's not a question of if I will overcome a challenge because they know that they will.
[00:14:22] So that's not where they put their energy and the focus it's not on. If they put their energy and their focus on how I know I'm going to overcome this, that's not a question I just need to figure out the best way to overcome it. And that's where they put their focus. That's a completely
[00:14:39] Scott Maderer: [00:14:39] different shift, right?
[00:14:41] Yeah. Cause it's no longer about doubting yourself. It's about, I just need to find the right resources, the right people, the right, learning, the right training, the right. What tools again, whatever, there is a way out there to solve it. Now, all I have to do is find it,
[00:14:57] Ruth Gotain: [00:14:57] find it. And I asked for help when I [00:15:00] need it.
[00:15:00] And I can ask for help. Every single one of them has a group of people that they turn to. Every single one, they have mentors for the long-term. They have coaches for the short-term, every single one of them.
[00:15:13] Scott Maderer: [00:15:13] So it, as we think about that we've used a couple of terms. So we've used the term mentorship.
[00:15:18] We've used the term leadership. So let's back up a second again, and let's define those terms for, as you define it. Now, leadership is one that I ask a lot of different people to define, but mentorship is one I really haven't asked. So how would you define mentorship and leadership in this context?
[00:15:37] Ruth Gotain: [00:15:37] So mentorship is somebody who helps you.
[00:15:41] Long-term now there's two parts to mentorship, and this is actually the work of Dr. Kathy cramp. The first part is they help you with your career. Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? Who do I need to introduce you to what opportunities do I need to present to you? That's the career, [00:16:00] but there's also the psychosocial part.
[00:16:02] I need to support you. I need to motivate you. I need to encourage you because. Not every day is a great day and you need somebody who's going to lift you up when you're having a tough day. Even if it just means just listening to you because you need to vent right.
[00:16:22] Scott Maderer: [00:16:22] Cheerleader, but not necessarily by cheering, but they're cheerleader.
[00:16:25] They're able to support you whenever things are going
[00:16:27] Ruth Gotain: [00:16:27] badly, right? Yeah, exactly. And it's, long-term. It's long-term and that's what that's, what's important. It's that guide by the side that will really help you with your career. And it's one of many, right? Because you really want a diverse mentoring team.
[00:16:42] Sure.
[00:16:43] Scott Maderer: [00:16:43] And before we go to leadership a little bit more on mentorship how do you suggest people find some of those good mentors to plug into their life?
[00:16:50] Ruth Gotain: [00:16:50] First of all, I never want you to use what I call don't use the N word. You never asked somebody to mentor. Don't ask because the second you're asking them to be your [00:17:00] mentor.
[00:17:00] You're asking to take on another obligation. And I don't know about you, Scott, but I'm busy. I do not have time, right? I do not have time, but if you ask me say I had a question where I wanted some advice on something. Could I talk to you for 15 minutes? That I have time for that? I have time for. You have to know how to really package it.
[00:17:24] You're asking for a question because mentorship is a process and you need to let it happen organically. I'm not a fan of assigned mentors because they're completely random right there. There's nothing there, but you want someone that you can connect with because you have to make sure that the way they mentor is the way that you learn best.
[00:17:44]So if you're the kind of person that learns best by talking through a challenge, We want someone who's going to be able to give you that. So you need to put yourself in places. Where you can organically meet interesting people and they should be people within your [00:18:00] industry and fields and outside of your field and industry and field senior to you at your level and junior to you, you need all of those levels and you don't ever have to call them a mentor.
[00:18:10] It's someone you go to for guidance. After a while, you can say so-and-so is my mentor, because that is a title that is earned. A mentor can not call themselves a mentor. The mentee has to call them that because that is an earned title. It is about trust. It is about help. It really is about, it's a selfless giving because mentors don't right of their time.
[00:18:35] So that isn't an entire, so you need to find someone who has the time who has the bandwidth, who wants to help you. And if you want to be, if you want to be the mentee, that every bit, every mentor wants. You have to under promise and over deliver show that you are worth investing in.
[00:18:53] Scott Maderer: [00:18:53] Yeah. I, one of the things that I used to encourage and I've been in a mentor role and in a mentee role over the [00:19:00] years is, when I was a mentee, I always showed up with.
[00:19:03] The list of questions, listen to the answers. And then the next time we talked, I always reflected on, and here's what I put in action into action based on what you've, what you shared last week or last month or whatever it was so that they knew I was actually doing something with it. I'm not wasting their time.
[00:19:21] Ruth Gotain: [00:19:21] Exactly. That's that follow-up, that follow-up is so important. Otherwise they're just, they're there to give you guidance. That's thrown at the wall, but if they don't know if you're using any of it, maybe it's not a good fit. Could you sit their time more your time.
[00:19:35] Scott Maderer: [00:19:35] So as we turn our attention to the other half of that, how about leadership?
[00:19:38] How would you define leadership?
[00:19:41] Ruth Gotain: [00:19:41] So this is something I actually talk quite a bit about and studied quite a bit. Just I think anyone could be a mentor. I think anyone could be a leader and there's different types of leader. A leader is someone who inspires others towards a common goal. And so anyone.
[00:19:57] Anyone really can be a leader and you can [00:20:00] even be the leader of the moment, because if I am senior to you, but you are the expert on the topic, I need to give you the spotlight. I need to share that leadership. And it's leadership. If I share it with you and then you give that expertise and then I can help motivate and inspire people to actually execute that and move towards a common mission.
[00:20:24] But a leadership has really somebody who inspires.
[00:20:27] Scott Maderer: [00:20:27] So in this case, too, that we're not looking necessarily at positional leadership, but the actual role of inspiration, because again I, I know people who are leaders in an organization, but they don't sit in a corner office.
[00:20:40] Ruth Gotain: [00:20:40] Yes, exactly. And I think a junior person can be a leader. I really do.
[00:20:45]You see it with kids, you can see it. You don't have to wait for someone to get that. C-suite.
[00:20:51] Scott Maderer: [00:20:51] So one of the questions I ask, all of my guests is about the term stewardship. My brand is inspired stewardship. That's a word that means a lot to [00:21:00] me. And yet over the years, as I've asked people what it means to them, I get all sorts of different answers.
[00:21:06] And which is fascinating to me to get all these different answers. So what does stewardship mean to you and what has its impact been on how you view the world or your life?
[00:21:17] Ruth Gotain: [00:21:17] I think stewardship is the giving of oneself toward others. And I think when you can do that without wanting anything in return and without expecting anything in return, I think that's the highest form.
[00:21:34] And I think that's something that we should each strive to every day. It's not always easy, right? We have to pay our bills, but if we can do even a piece of that every day, we will be happier. Other people will be happier. It's really about. Being able to do that for others.
[00:21:52] Scott Maderer: [00:21:52] And thank you about that definition.
[00:21:54] How has that affected your life or your journey?
[00:21:58] Ruth Gotain: [00:21:58] I think there's been so many people who helped [00:22:00] me. I could not have done it on my own and they helped me always without ever wanting anything in return. And I think if you're, if you get that from others, you'll know what it feels like, and you really do have to pay it forward.
[00:22:16] Scott Maderer: [00:22:16] So if I could invent a machine and managed to pick you up from today and take you into the far future, a hundred to 150 years, and you were able to look back on your life, what impact do you hope you've had on the world?
[00:22:32] Ruth Gotain: [00:22:32] So I often get asked, what do you want to be known for? I want to be known for someone who can inspire.
[00:22:41] I really don't believe anyone wakes up in the morning saying, I want to be average. I think everyone wants to be exceptional, but people don't always know how to do it. They don't always have the tool. They don't always know the rules of the game. And if I could help people in that way, [00:23:00] especially for those who don't have a voice or are afraid to use their voice, then I'll be very happy when I look back.
[00:23:09] Scott Maderer: [00:23:09] What are some of the ways that's playing out for you now?
[00:23:14] Ruth Gotain: [00:23:14] So it's interesting. Most of the people who I have mentored, I just actually had a look at this. I don't know how it worked out, but most of them are women. And most of those who I coach are women as well. And I don't know that for many of them, they said I was their first mentor or their first coach.
[00:23:33] Cause I play two different roles. And wide and there, there were adults. Why did it take so long for them to find someone? So I love that. I love that, and I love that I'm able to do that for other people.
[00:23:49] Scott Maderer: [00:23:49] So what's coming up next for you. As you continue on this journey to live out this calling and make this impact on the world.
[00:23:57] Ruth Gotain: [00:23:57] So I told you I'm studying extreme [00:24:00] high achievers. So I regularly get to hang out with astronauts Olympic champions, fortune 500 CEOs, Nobel prize winners. So I am writing a book about the four things I talked about and I'm sharing the stories. Of these incredible extreme high achievers so that you can see how it's being implemented.
[00:24:24] And then it's really going to be a blueprint for how the rest of us can implement it in our own lives, in order to ascend to success. So the book is called the success factor and it's coming out next winter.
[00:24:36]Scott Maderer: [00:24:36] I can get that. Probably have to try to get you back on then
[00:24:44]I like the book too, but I'm looking forward to it because that's, this has always been an area that I've been fascinated by and reading the biographies of high achievers is sometimes the, that's the way I've gotten the insight into it. Cause there are patterns when you start to look at them of.
[00:24:58]Time after time, [00:25:00] where they were born.
[00:25:03] Ruth Gotain: [00:25:03] Interesting is that it? I started my research with physician scientists and then it just crossed into, I saw I still have physician scientists, but across into sports and engineers and CEOs and politicians. So I have everyone there from Dr. Tony Fowchee. To Maxine Clark was the founder and CEO of build a bear workshop.
[00:25:30]So I have an, and I have, Apollo Ono, the most decorated winter Olympian. So it's really this cross section of high achievers. But it's the same four things that keep coming up. So it doesn't matter if you're the NBA champion or if you're an astronaut, it's the same thing,
[00:25:49] Scott Maderer: [00:25:49] right? Yeah.
[00:25:50] Yeah. And that, again, that makes sense because we're not talking about quote, the magic trick. You're talking about the mindset, the attitude the behaviors that they [00:26:00] play out. And so it doesn't matter what skill they're learning or what the, that part is less important than. Yeah. A lot of the high achievers, probably if they weren't a high achieving CEO, might've been a high achiever or something else.
[00:26:14]Ruth Gotain: [00:26:14] Yes. And they all have something. Yes. Yes. And they all have these outside passions. Absolutely.
[00:26:21] Scott Maderer: [00:26:21] You can find out more about Dr. Ruth Gucci on She's also active on LinkedIn is our go-to person. You can find her on Twitter as Ruth and she has a YouTube channel called optimizing your success.
[00:26:36] That's hosted by the mentor project. Of course I'll have links to all of this over in the show notes. Ruth, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener?
[00:26:44] Ruth Gotain: [00:26:44] I am really excited. And if any of the listeners want to figure out where their passions lie, I actually have a free passion audit for them.
[00:26:52] They could just go to Ruth, go audit. And if they want it, I write a lot about all of [00:27:00] this stuff in Ford's every week. So they can just go check that out. They just go into and put in my name. Awesome.
[00:27:06] Scott Maderer: [00:27:06] Thanks so much for being on and sharing those those tools. I look forward to the book when it comes out as well, and it was great to have you today.
[00:27:15] I appreciate you coming by and sharing your insights with the listener.
[00:27:18] Ruth Gotain: [00:27:18] Thank you so much.
[00:27:19]Scott Maderer: [00:27:19] thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoy this episode. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired rate.
[00:27:47] All one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode [00:28:00] as it comes out in your feed until next time, invest your time. Your talent and your treasures develop your influence and impact the world. .

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I study extreme high achievers and I basically made myself a guinea pig.  I was laser focused if it didn't align with the goal I put it on pause. - Ruth Gotian

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Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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