PEOPLE TO KNOW

JOSHUA ehrlich, Executive coach, author, and chairman of globl leadership council.

As a Sales leader at Google I spent several years churning out projects, leading teams, and launching new products -- which was exciting, but it eventually wore on my ability to think clearly and lead greatly. My Executive Coach Josh Ehrlich helped me gain perspective through mindfulness.

This was such an important and meaningful lesson for me in my career as a leader, that I wanted to introduce my Google executive coach to you.

MEET JOSHUA EHRLICH: 

The man who recognized the importance of mindfulness before it was “cool.” Joshua’s work is incredibly powerful and helps his clients lead better and fuller lives. I’m thrilled to share his expertise heres. 


Q: Can you give us a quick synopsis of your career?

A: My interest in learning and listening began when I was 10, when I started to practice the violin about 4 hours a day. I studied the neurobiology of learning as an undergraduate at Yale, and I completed my PhD thesis on failure stress at NYU. I began consulting straight out of graduate school, and my passion for coaching led me to found a Master’s Degree program. I wanted to teach these skills at the graduate level, raise the standard in the field, and add to the research foundation for coaching.


Q: What do you love about coaching?

A: I love coaching because I get to help amazing leaders become even more successful and reinvent themselves. You (Alli) are a great example. When I met you, you were already knocking the lights out at Google. I asked you to explore your values and purpose, and the impact you wanted your life and work to have. It blows me away what you did founding the Forem. It’s a great lesson on trusting ourselves and our inner voice.


Q: What exactly is mindful leadership, and why is it so important?

A: Mindfulness is about tuning in. It’s about listening with all of yourself. So it’s not just about mind. It’s about heart and compassion, and so heartfullness might be a better word. Mindful attention helps us make better decisions and enables us to learn and lead more effectively. 


Mindful leadership is about showing up with our minds, bodies, emotions and purpose, so we can connect authentically to create successful relationships and inspire others to fulfill a shared vision. (Check out this article for a detailed overview). 


Q: Why put a focus on mindful leadership vs. something else? What drew you to this subject?

A: I began practicing mindfulness to help me stay grounded in graduate school. When I started coaching busy leaders, I found they needed a way to manage multiple competing priorities and demanding jobs. Mindfulness was a perfect fit. It’s simple, practical and effective. It’s also a powerful tool to help us learn, lead and perform at the highest level. We are so easily hooked, we need to be careful where we put our attention and the habits we create. Mindfulness helps us build that self-discipline. 


Q: You focused on mindfulness long before it was “cool.” How has the landscape changed since you started? 

A: When I started teaching mindfulness 25 years ago, I had clients tell me it was “Woo woo.” I had to be careful how I talked about it and translated it for impatient executives. Since then, the research and popular media attention to the topic has exploded. There is also more pain, as technology fights for our attention and compels us to run faster. Now I get calls from investment banks and hedge funds who want me to teach mindfulness. They aren’t trying to make people feel better. They want performance, and they see mindfulness as a way they can get an edge.


Q: As a Coach, what are the common challenges you see Executives grappling with? 

A: Most professionals get promoted because they’re good at getting things done. They are effective at some kind of technical skill. But when they become leaders, they have to change how they focus, what they value, and how they measure success. The rules literally change, and leaders need to understand how to shift their attention to adapt. My book MindShifting is a toolkit for this and explains how to transform from Doer to Leader.


Q: What is one mindfulness tip that you think everyone should incorporate at the office?

A: Turn off your notifications. We are like barracuda: we chase bright shiny objects. Having your email or social media constantly interrupting you is a recipe for madness. We need to set boundaries. We should not allow people to be on their phones during meetings. Let’s also agree we can’t be in two places at once at the top of the hour. Meetings should last 25 or 45 minutes maximum so we have time to think, go to the bathroom and reset our intention. While we are on the 7 deadly sins, please don’t check email or social media first thing when you wake up. Our minds are the clearest and most creative in the morning. Why fill your mind with someone else’s to do list? Here is a blog I wrote about the perils of constant business and how to make time to think. 


Q: What advice would you give your younger self? 

A: Relax, enjoy and be patient. Life is short, and there are a lot of people and inner resources helping you. You may not know where you are going or the plan, but things will work out if you pay attention to the messages available and trust in yourself and in life. 


Thank you Josh for sharing your tips with us! You can check out more of his work here.


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Sarah Crandall