Dorie Clark, Play the Long Game

Today’s guest teaches us that, by playing the long game, we future-proof our career.

I’ve known Dorie Clark for 11 years, and it was so much fun to have her on my podcast. I especially loved her story about a woman who became part of her Recognized Expert community and got back in touch a year later to thank Dorie. “I made one million dollars in my first year!” she reported. But that’s not the best part, which is that the woman is 80 years old.

This is an example of what Dorie does so well: to inspire others to reach higher and to give them the skills and tools necessary to succeed. Join us to hear countless actionable tips, including gems from her latest book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World.

Dorie teaches executive education at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

She has been named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, and was recognized as the #1 Communication Coach in the world by the Marshall Goldsmith Leading Global Coaches Awards.

Episode Details

Show Notes

Today’s guest teaches us that, by playing the long game, we future-proof our career.

I’ve known Dorie Clark for 11 years, and it was so much fun to have her on my podcast. I especially loved her story about a woman who became part of her Recognized Expert community and got back in touch a year later to thank Dorie. “I made one million dollars in my first year!” she reported. But that’s not the best part, which is that the woman is 80 years old.

This is an example of what Dorie does so well: to inspire others to reach higher and to give them the skills and tools necessary to succeed. Join us to hear countless actionable tips, including gems from her latest book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World.

Dorie teaches executive education at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

She has been named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, and was recognized as the #1 Communication Coach in the world by the Marshall Goldsmith Leading Global Coaches Awards.

The Long Game advocates taking a ten-year view when it comes to setting your goals and milestones. Dorie believes that, through a series of small and methodical steps and experiments, coupled with defining the kind of person you want to become, you can achieve extremely meaningful results.

Dorie recommends that we consciously choose how to spend our time. That doesn’t mean filling out every minute of your calendar and sucking the marrow out of each moment of the day. She’s tried that, and she found that such an approach often does more harm than good.

Instead of taking an overly quantitative approach to setting your daily schedule, get clear on your top three goals for the year and invest ample time working toward each of those goals. For example, Dorie’s three areas of focus in 2022 are relaxation, monetization, and friends. So most of her activities center on these three priorities.

 Dorie says, “We need to train ourselves to systematically toggle between heads up and heads-down mode.” Give yourself the “white space” to look around and look within. Take time to rest and recharge, and periodically take stock of your progress to ensure that you’re on the right track.

Finally, Dorie offers her advice on avoiding the comparison trap. While comparing yourself to others may be a good “research tool”, staying stuck in that critical mental space impedes your ability to chart your unique path forward.


Amanda Setili  (00:05):

We all want to do work that we love. And as leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees, wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where work feels like play, where people are tuned in to the changes going on in the world, around them, where they’re constantly learning, spotting new opportunities and taking action to go after them. I’m Amanda Sati. And this is the fearless growth podcast where my guest and I will explore the mindsets and choices that lead you and your organization to outstanding performance. Today. My guest is Dorie Clark, she’s author of four F books. Most recently the long game, how to be a long term thinker in a short term world, Dori teaches executive ed at duke university’s Fuco school of business. And at Columbia university’s graduate school of business, the New York times described her as an expert in self reinvention and helping others make changes in the our lives. Welcome Dorie.

Dorie Clark (01:04):

Hey Amanda. Good to be here.

Amanda Setili  (01:06):

Yeah. Thanks so much, you know the long game advocates taking a 10 year view and that if you, I mean, obviously, you know, this, I’m informing our audience that if you set and, and through a series of small and methodical steps and experi that you can achieve amazing results. And what’s so interesting is that you and I first met about 11 years ago. So I’ve gotten to watch you do exactly that. So I know that it’s true in your life that you’ve achieved amazing results by just keep an at it year after year. And so one thing I was wondering is when did you come up with the title, the long game, like, did that emerge late in the process? Cause there’s many other things you could have called this book.

Dorie Clark (01:52):

Yeah. It, I’m glad you asked that because actually the long game is the first of my now four books where I actually came up with the title before for the per previous ones. I knew what I wanted to write about, but coming up with titles has never been really my strong suit. And so I was just like, well, you know, you know, and, and ultimately the publisher titled it. And so this is the first one where I really had had the vision from, from not necessarily the beginning, but from a pretty early stage of exactly what I wanted to call it, what the subtitle should be. And part of the reason for that is I wanted to be a little bit methodical with the process because I realized so much of what can make or break a book is the title that first impression. And I think that I wanted to come up with something that was not so branded in people’s minds, that it was already associated with somebody else, but nonetheless, something that was enough of a common expression that people might find themselves using it almost inadvertently. And then, you know, their friend would be like, oh, Hey, there’s a book called the long game. Have you read that? And I figured it could enhance virality. So that, that was my theory.

Amanda Setili  (03:08):

Wow. You’re so clever. You’re so clever. Yeah. Next time I need to name a book. I’ll just look through a, a list of commonly used expressions that don’t have a book title yet. Okay. Good insight. So in the long game you say everything takes longer than we expect. And that has two implications for me. One is that I sometimes see people giving up on hard ideas because it, they, they correctly conclude maybe that it’s not worth it, or they don’t have time. Like, oh, if it’s going to take 10 years, I just don’t want to do it. But I also see examples of people like thinking things are going to take longer than they’ll really take. And there are examples of things where they just suddenly speed up and they go faster than you expect. Can you think of anything in your life where there was a particular experience or a conversation or a transition that was mind opening and actually sped things up for you?

Dorie Clark (04:04):

I think he raised a really interesting point, Amanda, because I think it is true. We often just, you know, systematically have problems estimating the amount of time that something will take. And more typically of course it is that we that we underestimate what time something will take. And so we get frustrated. We might give up too soon because we say, oh, you know, I’ve, I’ve just been putting so much into it. And I’ve been doing, you know, I’ve been doing this for way longer than I should have, and it still isn’t bearing fruit. And so in many cases, that’s the problem that I tried to solve with on game is to, you know, really help people think that through and get a better sense of what it really takes so that their expectations are in line. And therefore they won’t give up just before the finish line without realizing how close they are.

Dorie Clark (04:56):

But I think it’s also true. You’re exactly right. That there are some moments where some, something can accelerate pretty dramatically based on the work that you have done. And as I was writing the long game, one of the, the parallels that just kept coming up in, in quite dramatic ways was understanding that the progression of our careers is very much like investing. I think in a lot of ways, the long game is kind of an investment book, but it’s an investment book about your career rather than money. And so just like you would read an investment book and, you know, it’s, it’s just this kind of mind boggling thing about like, okay, well you put away a hundred dollars a month when you’re 25. And then all of a sudden you have, you know, a billion dollars by the time you’re seventies, you know, some crazy thing with, with compounding the career benefits are are really similar.

Dorie Clark (05:48):

And so, you know, even just looking back on my own career, for instance, the, the, the rise you know, I mean, just to take one easily me measurable thing, the, the rise in my income over time. I mean, for, for years and years, you know, I, I was, you know, obviously in my, in my twenties, I was sort of scrapping around and having these extremely low paid jobs, you know, which, you know, they were good learning opportunities, but, you know, I’m making 26 grand as a newspaper report and I’m making, you know, 36 grand as a, you know, political spokesperson and things like that. And, you know, then I start my own business and I’m able to make six figures, which is great. But you put in the time and, and for a long time, it seems like, you know like everything’s a slog, why am I doing this? I but you know, in my case, I spent a lot of time doing things like creating online courses and all of a sudden things kind of kick in and compound. And within a few years, you know, you’re, you’re able to increase your, your income by 30, 40, 50% you know, over, over the span of a year or two, because all of a sudden the forces that you have put in motion have really come together and unified and created exponential growth rather than incremental growth.

Amanda Setili  (07:09):

That’s your next book is how to, how to create that inflection point where suddenly it takes off, which really is what this book is about, but just that sensation of it’s going to happen to me eventually, how do, how do I create put the pieces in place to make it happen? Which is what you, you know, is kind of a thread that tied all of your work together. So you wisely recommend that people ask, what kind of person do you want to be? How do you do have exercises that you recommend to help people figure that out?

Dorie Clark (07:42):

Well, I think that there’s a, a few things that we can do and the truth is it, it doesn’t have to be the most systematic or, or scientific process in the world. A lot of it is really just asking yourself, you know, who do you admire? And what is, you know, who are you jealous of? That’s actually one of my favorite questions because we often think of jealousy as being this, you know, this bad emotion that we need to banish, but I actually think it can be quite instructive. You know, who, who is it when you hear about them? When you hear about what they’re doing, you’re like, oh man, I, I wish I could do that. Or, oh man, you know, if only I, dot those are the times when, in some ways our imagination is running wild and it enables us to see things that we might miss or that we might not allow ourselves to go to in our normal day to day life.

Dorie Clark (08:33):

It might seem, oh, well, it’s so impractical. I couldn’t possibly work from Thailand or, you know, whatever the thing is. But if you find yourself just consistently being like, oh man, you know, she’s, she’s really got it. She has the life. I think those are sort of trails of breadcrumbs that you can explore and begin to say, all right, well, what is it that’s so appealing. And you know, maybe it’s literally living in Thailand or maybe it’s the feeling that, oh, you know, I, I really want to be by the water. Maybe you don’t have to be in Thailand. Maybe you could get a lake house or, you know, whatever, whatever it looks like, but it gives us clues that we can follow that I think can be quite instructive about a, what we want, even if we’re not necessarily letting ourselves go there.

Amanda Setili  (09:17):

Totally agreed. I think that’s a great, great point is identify who you admire and what you admire about them. Like what you just love about their life. Such a good point. So I remember you saying to me, once that once you’re famous, you stay free is the rest of your life. And that just really stuck in my mind. Do you remember the first time you ever thought that thought, or did you hear it from somebody else? And, and you know, where did that come from? Really?

Dorie Clark (09:47):

Amanda, I think it came from dancing with the stars. Ah,

Dorie Clark (09:53):

I read, it’s like, oh my gosh, you know, all of these people that you’ve sort of, you know, forgotten, like I’m thinking about like the Danny Bonaduce or the world or whatever, like, you know, the, this of course is, you know, this, this guy who was on a TV show in the seventies and, you know, he was, I mean, admittedly, he is not as famous now as he was at the peak of his fame when he was a kid in the seventies. In fact, I’m not sure if he’s alive, but anyway, you know, nonetheless he was somebody that they put him on, on dancing with the stars because it’s like, oh, well, people remember him, they remember his name and they have these fond feelings, these fond associations. And so even if it’s not the sort of white hot thing, I mean, clearly Madonna is not as hot of a ticket now as she would’ve been, you know, if you could get her to come to your party in 1984 or something like that, but everybody still knows who Madonna is. So I, I think that for me, that was instructive that, you know, the nature of, of fame or six might change over time, but you really are building a perennial asset. And if you can invest the time and the energy to build the snowball and get it, get it going, there are going to be benefits literally for the rest of your life or certainly your professional life.

Amanda Setili  (11:11):

Right. I find the whole concept of the rest of your life to actually be related to interesting, just the fact that we have a life and we’re only here for a certain amount of time and you need to decide how are you going to spend it? I mean, it’s something that’s completely obvious, but I think as you get older, it becomes a much more meaningful concept.

Dorie Clark (11:32):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s it’s worth asking those questions. And part of what I wanted to do in the long game was really focus us in on that, that we all have these, you know, sort of career goals and KPIs and, you know, things, things that we’re thinking about, but it’s often very short term. It’s often very narrow. It’s like, okay, what’s your developmental goal for the next six months or whatever. And that’s nice. I mean, that’s important of course, but what theoretically should be guiding these things and what I think can infuse it with a lot more sense of meaning and purpose is all right, well, what’s all this for, you know, like, why am I bothering to do this? Where do I want to end up and are the actions that I’m taking now actually aligned with where I want to end up.

Amanda Setili  (12:16):

So you talk a lot about consciously choosing how to spend your time. What metrics do you use for the, do you personally use for the short term? Like, do you have a version of Marshall Goldsmith, daily questions process do you have certain things that would, would define what makes a good day? Do you have a certain metric that defines what makes a good year in 2022? How do you think about the short term?

Dorie Clark (12:42):

I have tried a lot of different things in my life, which is you know, part, part of writing. The long game is, is trying to share with folks some of the things that I’ve, because I, I feel like I’ve I’ve experimented and I’ve made different mistakes. And I remember probably about 15 years ago now I had this idea that, you know, oh, you know, I really want to optimize things. I really want to make sure I’m, I’m sucking the marrow out of my days. And so I got this, you know, Franklin planner, this like old school Franklin planner. I, I came up with numbers where I was saying, okay, well, you know, here are the things that I enjoy, you know, I enjoy spending time with friends and I, you know, I enjoy working from coffee shops and I definitely want to make sure I’m, I’m carving out time to write that’s important, you know? So, so I had all of these different categories and then every week I would try to, you know, and optimize it and I’d build it in. I’m like, oh, well, I haven’t, I haven’t worked from a cafe yet. So I’ll have to slot that in,

Dorie Clark (13:41):

You know, I mean, by the end of like two or three months of doing this, I was miserable. I wasn’t enjoying anything because it was so rigid. And so quantified, even though I was trying to quantify the things that I enjoyed most. And so I decided, okay, at least for me that it’s a little too type a and so now I try to approach it with, you know, a little bit more of a, of a broad brush stroke where I’m not measuring, you know, every jot and title, but I’m at least attempting to to make sure that in broad sense, I am focusing on my area of emphasis. So for instance, I came up with three words to try to guide me in kind of an impressionistic sense in 2022, you know, which is an activity that sometimes folks do. And my three words for this year were relaxation, monetization, friends, and that’s, that’s really what I want to try to focus on.

Dorie Clark (14:41):

And so I just periodically sort of check in and say, all right, well, am I, am I doing this sufficiently? And so, you know, we were talking before we started recording that I’ve recently moved to Miami. And so one of the things you really need to do is, is over index on relationship building early on, you need to make friends, you need to make an effort because if you don’t those problems compound too. I mean, I have some pals who you know, sort of split their time between New York and Miami. And they’ve been here for nine years and the, you know, they were saying like, oh gosh, we don’t really know anyone in Miami. And it’s like, oh my Lord, you’ve been here nearly a decade. And so I know that I, in the first year or two, I need to over index on making friends because that is what will pay the dividends later on. And so I’m, I’m trying to put a, a sort of push and an over emphasis in those categories.

Amanda Setili  (15:34):

I remember when you moved to New York, you told me that you had started a little book of a, a dinner club for authors or something like that. Do you have a similar idea for meeting people in Miami?

Dorie Clark (15:45):

Well, I’m not, I’m not sure I’ve found enough business authors to really have a quorum of that specifically in Miami, but certainly I’m, I’m going out of my way to try to connect people and have, have different, different groupings. One thing Miami seems to have an abundance of is, is gay guys. And so I decided that, you know, some somehow I’ve, you know, I’ve been here for a few months and somehow I have like I don’t know, over a dozen gay guys that I know here. And so I I just, and a lot of them don’t know each other. So I have a party coming up in a few weeks, which I’ve called the gay guy gala. And it’s not really a gala. It’s just, you know, a party at my house, but but I thought it would be a mitzvah to like connect them all. So, you know, that’s, that’s, my little theme is like, is a Dore and a pack of gay guys.

Amanda Setili  (16:35):

Yeah. I love connecting people. I just find, I find everything about people and connecting and, and, and things like that. Fascinating. And I think friends have moved way up on my list in terms of priorities as a result of the pandemic. I think like I took it granted and now I’m just like, oh, I just miss being with friends so much. That’s like my, my big thing this year. And I’ve heard that from other people as well. So early in your book, your newest book, you mentioned that at the, be beginning of the pandemic, you had had a trip plan to go teach in Moscow. I don’t know whether it was a day teach or a semester or what, but going to Moscow would be a very different experience now that we’re having what we’re having going on in Ukraine. But my question is a little more general than that, which is just, how have you found your teachings applied differently in different countries and cultures? Cause I know you’ve spoken in a lot of different countries.

Dorie Clark (17:33):

Yes. Yes. Well, he, I, I, I keep, I keep having bad luck on the Moscow front, unfortunately, cuz I have another trip planned to Moscow. I literally have a plane ticket already to go teach in Moscow in June, which I feel fairly confident at this point is not going to happen. So that’s, that’s a little sad cuz I do, I do love you know, the Russian people. So yeah, that’s, that’s a bummer, but yeah, you know, one of the topics, not the only topic, but one of the major topics that I frequently am teaching on is personal branding. And that is something that has been identified by a lot of psycho and experts as one of the most culturally variable disciplines. Certainly, you know, finance from one com country to another isn’t necessarily different, but people’s conceptions about personal brand.

Dorie Clark (18:25):

Really can be of course there’s a lot of individual vari within a country as well, but there, there are kind of broad norms in the United States to be sure in general is the most pro personal branding culture. So you know, even, even if people themselves aren’t into it, they at least sort of recognize like, oh, it’s a thing, oh, I should probably be doing it. Where as in other countries, it’s just like, you know, what, what is this American crap? You know, why, why am I, why am I prostituting myself in this way? And so I have to make sure that early on that I am trying to address the elephant in the room and, and letting people know you know, look, you, you, you it’s possible, you might have a negative impression of this term, but let’s reframe it because fundamentally your personal brand is, is really nothing more and nothing less than your reputation. And I think you’d probably be hard pressed to find any professional with a straight face. Who’s like, oh yeah, your reputation. That’s so dumb. Who cares about that? Like, you know, once, once you sort of understand what it is we’re actually talking about, which is not how to turn you into an Instagram or TikTok influencer, but actually how do you just make sure that your peers respect you? That is something that I think is more appealing to a broader swath of people.

Amanda Setili  (19:47):

Yeah. And not only respect, but understand who you are of what’s meaningful for, to you and what you might like to achieve in the world that they can help you move

Dorie Clark (19:56):

Toward. Absolutely. Yes.

Amanda Setili  (19:58):

I was listening to some other podcasts that you had recorded and I, I knew that you had gone to Harvard divinity school, but I did not know that I believe I’m going to say this. Right. Your focus was something about Chris impact on American culture or how those two ideas interacted. Is that true?

Dorie Clark (20:16):

Yeah. That is there at the time. One of the areas of focus that you could have as part of the master of theological studies program was Christianity and culture. And so you can interpret that a lot of ways, but, but largely in terms of the, is that I took and what I focused on it was basically the history and sociology of American religion.

Amanda Setili  (20:38):

How do you think if you could project, if you have any thoughts on this, how do you think this might change over the next 10 years? Like right now we kind of have somewhat of a division where the you know, evangelical right. Has certain thoughts. And anyway, do, do you have any thoughts on how things might evolve over the coming years

Dorie Clark (21:00):

And by things you mean the state of religion in America

Amanda Setili  (21:03):

Maybe, or maybe just how people think about religion or, I mean, for instance, secularism has been really growing for decades, you know, more, fewer and fewer people are going to church, but people say I’m very spiritual even though not at church. And I was just wondering since you’ve studied this do you have any views on how things might play out?

Dorie Clark (21:25):

Well, one of the really interesting growing trends in American civic life, and, and this is definitely markedly true over the past decade and you know, a bit beyond is that the biggest growth in terms of religion and religious affiliation is in the category. They call the nuns not Catholic nuns with habits, but the N OES meaning people who are not affiliated in any way, they just say, well, I don’t have a religion. And that is kind of a new thing. I mean, Europe has been relatively secular for a long time, but in the us, we have been a fairly religious people. You diverse religious, but pretty religious. So this is interesting. And so one of the trends that I see on the horizon, you know, religion fills an important need in society. I’m certainly not a fan of all of the ways that religion has manifested itself, you know, hashtag crusades cetera.

Dorie Clark (22:25):

But but it, it serves a function for people and, you know, and, and, and can do a lot of good. In fact, I was just reading an article in the times today, where there was a study talking about the impact of religion on academic achievement in working class boys and poor boys. And they were saying that you know, for middle and upper class kids, they, they have enough sort of structure in their lives that religion doesn’t necessarily play an outsized role, but for, but for poorer boys in particular there’s a lot of social dislocation and not necessarily the, the time and energy that their parents can devote to providing that kind of structure and academic encouragement and they, and so religion, if they are religious, they are performing much better in school because of the role of, of both community that it performs.

Dorie Clark (23:26):

And also the feeling that like, Hey, God is encouraging you. And also God is you, you know, do, do better. And you know, certainly that’s, that’s very pro-social. But what I think is really interesting is the fact that, you know, what we are seeing filling the place of religion and what I mean by that, you know, because these are deep human longings, even if, if you don’t have something to fill that you will make something to fill that. And on the right, we often see that need filled with conspiracy theories and QAN, and, you know, crazy, you know, pizza gate things. And, and on the left, we often see people filling their need for religiosity with a kind of excessive fervor around political correctness. And, you know, John Macor has, you know, written a, a really prescient new book called I think it’s called woke religion or something like that, talking about how correctness has, has in many ways become a religion of the left. And, you know, I, I try to, I, I, I try to be moderate in all things and, you know, of course I think it’s good to be respectful of all kinds of people and aware of, of all of that, but certainly when anything is taken to it in extreme, it can become perilous pretty quickly. And you don’t want to treat things as a religion that are not a religion. So I, I think that’s an interesting trend that I’ve seen.

Amanda Setili  (24:57):

That’s a great answer. That’s very, very interesting. I, I do think that religion does play a really vital role and, but I’d never heard that idea that there’s other things filling that gap such as what you described. That’s really smart. All right. This is going to be kind of a hard question, but maybe easy for you. What do you think the future holds that most people don’t realize at any category?

Dorie Clark (25:22):

Oh boy. Well, it’s it’s a, a really interesting question. I have been focusing on trying to get better at thinking about and understanding the future. I mean like a lot of people I was fairly blindsided by COVID because when it first arose, you know, I mean, we did of course start hearing about it in the news in December Jan, you know, December 20, 19, January, 2020, it’s this sort of distant far off thing in, in China. And so my pattern recognition was like, oh, well, it’s like, it’s like SARS. Oh, it’s like the bird flu, you know, meaning this is going to be a bunch of hype and hysteria, and it’s going to get, you know, 15 people sick and that’s it. And of course it ends up being, you know, societally transformative and complete of a completely different order. And so I was mad at myself for not, not, you know, being able to, to really properly parse it.

Dorie Clark (26:27):

I mean, I’m, you know, to be honest, I’m not sure or what I would’ve done about that, even if I was aware, but but I, I felt frustrated with my inability to recognize that. And so I’ve been on a little bit of a binge of trying to read some books so that I can get a little more thoughtful about it. And so lately I, I have read in quick succession, two books by a gentleman named George Friedman, who is a futurist. And the interesting part for me is that these books are from 10 years ago, they’re from around, you know, 20 11, 20 12. And the first one is called the next 100 years. And it was his predictions for the, a century. And his sequel to that was called the next decade. And he was basically, you know, sort of, I mean, now’s a good time to check up on him.

Dorie Clark (27:12):

Yeah, really. He was basically trying to predict what would happen between 2011 and 2021. So, you know, I mean, he wasn’t really predicting a pandemic either, but one of the thing that I thought was extremely interesting and helpful, which we often forget, you know, we tend as humans to kind of overweight certain factors and, you know, like technology might be one of them, right? Everybody’s like, well, you know, the future of the internet, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we try to extrapolate out from that. That’s important, of course, true. But George Friedman is a propo is a proponent of, you know, what I would really call going back to first principles, meaning when he’s talking about geopolitics, he says, look, look at, look at the land mass, look at how big the country is. Look at how many people the country has. Look at their birth rate, look at their borders.

Dorie Clark (28:06):

And, you know, part of why Poland, for instance, is in such a strategic and also perilous position is simply that it, it, you know, it can in fact has been invaded by both Russia and Germany. It’s, it’s bordered by these two large influential powers and it doesn’t have anything to defend it. Whereas for other countries who are near it, they have the Carpathian mountains. And so at a really basic level, just like, well, you know what, they’re hard to invade. And so we’re seeing this now with Russia and Ukraine, it’s like, oh, well, you know, parts of Ukraine are just not that hard to invade. And so it puts it to a severe strategic disadvantage. And so one point that George Friedman makes, you know, we are, I think in general, on a day to day basis on both the right and left, we are pretty doom and gloom about, oh my God, you know, America’s in bad shape. The empire is ending. We’re, we’re screwing everything up. Everything’s so divided. You know, there’s, there’s so much partisan and that’s true, but he says, you know, let’s go back to brass tax. We are basically protected from invasion. We control two oceans and, you know, ma Canada’s not going to invade us. Mexico is not in a position to invade us. Like we, we are in the cat birds, geographically, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. And so he’s actually far more hopeful about America than one might anticipate. So I thought that was quite interesting.

Amanda Setili  (29:37):

Yeah. I actually think that’s something that people have in a implicitly understood. We felt like we were able to be isolationist because we were isolated and, you know, we’ve kind of felt very strong because of that, but we might be more vulnerable than we think an example is we’re very dependent on China instance for everything we use. Yes. So yeah, the world’s getting more interconnected and, and you know, the pandemic was kind of a wake up call in that sense. So how often do you see people moving towards long term goals? And the long term goal makes a ton of sense, but then something shifts the goal. That’s an aha moment, not an external event, like getting fired or a divorce or a pandemic, but just something where they just go, oh wow. I was headed the wrong direction. I’m going to completely make a right turn. Do you see that very often?

Dorie Clark (30:36):

I would honestly say not all that often. And the reason for that is that, you know, certainly to, to your point, I mean, you were specifically excluding this. If there is an external circumstance that, that somehow interrupts our progress to our goal, then of course it forces us to reevaluate. I mean, I think about early in my career, my goal is that I wanted to be an academic and I had got in my master’s degree, you know, as we talked about in, in theology and okay, I’m going to go on and get a doctorate. And then I didn’t get into any of the doctoral programs I applied to. So, oh, guess what? I guess I’m not going to be an academic. And I ended up finding my way back in, through the side door later on to teach at business school, but was not, it was definitely not the path that I had anticipated and it, you know, put sort of a a, a, a kink in the works so that I had to deal with, but when it comes to people internally, rather than, you know, forced by external circumstance, identifying that they’re on the wrong path.

Dorie Clark (31:44):

You know, I, I honestly just think that that’s often a somewhat rare phenomenon because we often tend to get in ruts as humans where, you know, we’re just we’re heads down and we keep heads down. And one of the points that I make in the long game is that we need to train ourselves to systematic a toggle between heads up and heads down mode, where we are, you know, heads down mode is sort of execution doing the thing, doing the work, moving it forward. Obviously you need to, to do that, to make things happen, but also, you know, even if that is a virtue, it is a virtue that can be overused because we need who periodically go heads up as well to make sure, you know, like look around, you know, you don’t want to be looking around every five minutes, but you want to periodically be looking around and say, have the circumstances changed?

Dorie Clark (32:33):

Is the terrain different? Is there something different? Is there something better? Am I still on the right course? You know, you think about an example about like taxi drivers, for instance, you know, and you’re whatever, in 20 14, 20 15, you’re a New York city taxi driver and you take out a loan for a million dollars to buy a taxi medallion. Now there’s a lot of debate about this. And, you know, I, when I was living in New York, I would walk past city hall and there’d be people like literal, literally on like hunger strikes, you know, where like, let’s, you know, let’s ease the burden. And, you know, there’s a lot of discussion about where, where these people misled you know, where they taken advantage of in, in some way. And I’m sure there were probably some examples of that, but also, you know, I, at core I’m a free market person.

Dorie Clark (33:27):

I’m like, you know what, like, look around Uber was a thing you didn’t have to sign that loan. Like in 2014, people could see what was happening. And they didn’t a lot of them didn’t because they were so intent on, oh, well, this, you know, this has been a huge money maker for generations. That’s the goal. That’s what I’m going to keep moving toward. But obviously in 2014, buying a taxi medallion for inflated prices was, was not the right move. And I think you were in heads down mode. You would not have recognized that because you would’ve been keeping on the pattern of, oh, well, this is, this has worked for generations before me. This is, this is the path, let me do it. But circumstances, most definitely had changed. And I think for all of us, we need to be aware that sometimes we can get trapped too much in one mode and, and we need to be able to have, have the the sort of ambidextrousness to be able to switch.

Amanda Setili  (34:31):

Right. You make a really good point there. And in your book where you talk about creating white space, you need white space to be able to look around and also to be able to look within, you know, I’ve had a lot of aha moments just from painting or free writing or

Dorie Clark (34:48):

Surfing, taking a

Amanda Setili  (34:49):

Walk surfing yeah. Or sky surfing. You have to create time for yourself and act. I mean, that’s a really good point when I, when we started kiteboarding, I thought, oh, can we afford all this time that we’re spending? But I found I was so much more efficient when I would go back to work because my brain had somehow done a, you know, a reset or a, a dag or something while I was sky boarding. And when I’d come back to shore, I just thought so much more clearly. So creating white spaces really important, how do you avoid comparison? So this is something that I sometimes have trouble with. Oh, she’s making more money than me, or, oh, he has more free time than me, or, oh, they’ve written more books than me. And I know in one of your books, you talk about how you went to a alumni event early in your career and everybody had already written their books or had their babies, or was, you know, was kind of ahead of you. How do you personally avoid social comparison though? Because though you’re very famous. There are people who are more famous than you though. You make a lot of money. There are people who make a lot more money than you, you know, how do you, how do you reign that in personally?

Dorie Clark (35:58):

Well, one, one story that I share in the long game, which I think is helpful is I, I have a, a good friend named David Burki, who is an author and a speaker. And he shared a story with me that I thought was really great. Where a few years ago he had a podcast and he was interviewing Daniel pink on the podcast. And for those who don’t know him, Dan pink is a, you know, quite famous New York times bestselling author and, you know, very sought after expensive speaker, et cetera. And so David was just feeling down about himself, basically that he was not as famous as Dan pink. And so when the inter interview ended, he said, you know, like basically, Hey, you know, what’s your advice for me, me, what am I, what am I doing wrong? What, you know, what do I need to be doing?

Dorie Clark (36:40):

And what Dan pink said to him, which at the time was a little bit of an unsatisfying answer for David. But one that with reflection he realized was actually quite wise is Dan pink said, look, you know, I could try to give you some advice, but honestly, I’ve been doing this for years longer than you have. So I’m not sure that like, whatever I would tell you would be that helpful because honestly, a lot of this is just the function of time and of keeping doing it. And so what David started to do, which I thought was really fantastic. And I, I think a much healthier attitude is the, the name that I of it is time handicapping, you know, it’s sort of like golf handicapping because you know, if I’m a terrible golfer and you’re a good golfer, we can still play together and have it be fun.

Dorie Clark (37:29):

Because you know, with the handicap it’s okay. Well, you know, we’re expecting Amanda to, to do, you know, within one or two strokes of par, but we’re expecting Dory to do within 15 strokes of par or 30 strokes of par. And so similarly for time Andy cathing, it’s like, all right, you know, it it’s, it’s okay that David’s not as famous as Dan pink today. The question is, is David as famous as Dan pink was in 2005. And you know, if the answer is yes, then actually, you know what, you’re on track. You’re, you’re doing what you need to. So I think a lot of the problem comes from the fact that oftentimes we’re not comparing ourselves to the people that literally are our peers, we’re comparing ourselves to like people we know from TV or people who, who are, you know, super famous that have all oftentimes been doing things far longer than we have.

Dorie Clark (38:23):

And I think it really distorts the picture in some ways, but in general, you know, it, it’s not that it’s bad to compare yourself inherently because comparison, again, as we’re talking about, actually can be helpful. You know, who am I jealous of is a way of finding out, well, what goals do I value? What, you know, what do I aspire to? What do I wish I were doing that I’m not? So I think it can be a useful research tool, but where it gets bad of course, is where you’re sort of beating yourself up about, well, you know, why, why didn’t this happen? Or, and I do this. And so, you know, I, I really just try as best I can to understand, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got time and people people have also spent their time in different ways. And so even if someone has put more time or ed this in a certain area than I have, I’ve done things that they haven’t. And so I think we just have to be gentle with ourselves in that way. How do you, how do you handle it, Amanda?

Amanda Setili  (39:26):

I find that I do it way too much. And I try to just, you know, you, you say in your book, the future that you want to create is unique to you are preferences. I try to recenter myself on what are my preferences? What, who do I really want to be? And it may not be the same as what Tory Clark wants to be, or anyone else wants to be. And I think that can be really valuable just to set your own course.

Dorie Clark (39:51):

Yeah. I, I think, I think that’s right. And, you know, also we, we do have to recognize that the choices that we make have consequences and you know, that’s, that sounds like it’s framed in like this harsh way, but actually it, it can be good consequences, you know, one, I mean, let’s be honest, one reason why I’m able to spend a lot of time working is I don’t have kids. And, you know, for most people who do have kids, they like them, you know, they feel like it’s very emotionally satisfying. They’re like, yes, this is the best thing I’ve ever done. I mean, I’m sure that’s not true for everybody who has kids, but for, for a great many people who have kids, they’re like, yes, this is literally the thing I’m happiest about. This is literally the thing that I’m proudest of. And so, you know, would you, you trade your proudest achievement for, you know, writing a few more HBR articles? I mean, honestly, probably not. But it’s, it’s not a thing that I was interested in doing. And so I’ve just reallocated that energy elsewhere, but, you know, we need to look at the totality of how people are spending their times and what they’re, what they’re doing. Yeah.

Amanda Setili  (40:56):

And I think it’s great that society is so open to many different forms of life now. Like not, I mean, you know, a decade ago, or, I mean, not even maybe more than a decade ago, but it was considered like you should have kids. No, it’s not a should anymore. It’s completely personal preference, which I think is getting is great. So here’s a put potentially hard question and I know we need to wrap up soon. If you could ask one question and it would be answered with true facts, the actual correct. Answer by an Oracle or someone, what would it be?

Dorie Clark (41:31):

Oh, that’s great. You know, I think that, I mean, probably the most useful one would be what are the appropriate metrics on which a human life and the success of it is measured? I, I think that, you know, I, I sort of have a, a little joke. So to times that you know, which in fact, because I, you know, because I am ex agnostic is, is not necessarily a joke because it could be true. It could equally be true, but you know, speak if we come full circle and we can, you know, circle back to religion. We always assume because we’re humans that you know, divinity, even if it’s not literally like a person, I think most people are like, no, you know, God is not like a person, but we kind of think of like a life force as being like, sort of kind of person, like, because it’s just, it’s just hard for us to envision anything else to to get our heads around any other form of consciousness.

Dorie Clark (42:33):

But I’ve often thought, you know, we probably have that all wrong because we’re so narcissistic. And actually for instance, God could be like much more like a cat. And it’s possible that in terms of like measuring our success as, as humans, you know, if there is such a thing as kind of a judgment day, if God were a cat God’s metric might basically be, well, how nice were you to cats? You know, like you could be mother Teresa and it could be like, you know what, I’m glad you did all that for humans, but seriously, what did you do for cats? And we don’t know. I mean, maybe that’s the metric. So I, I would definitely like to know that that’s

Amanda Setili  (43:12):

Interesting. What really makes a life kind of like, what, how should we measure ourselves? Is it good to others? Is it how well we performed our highest and best use? Is it, yeah, that’s a good question. Thank you very much. One last question. What makes you happiest in your work?

Dorie Clark (43:30):

You know, I got we’ll go with some recency bias here, but this is an emblematic example. I got an email yesterday, Amanda and I love this so much. It’s from, from somebody in my, I run, I run this online community called recognized expert and it’s it’s a course in community for people, you know, just smart professionals that are looking to build their, their brand and, you know, get at better known for their ideas, make a bigger impact. And I got this note from this woman and I really hadn’t interacted much with her before, like some people are very active in the community, but this woman, you know, mostly wasn’t, I didn’t really know her very well or know too much about her. There’s like, you know, 700 people in the community. So I don’t know all of them, but she sent me this super nice note and she was like, oh, I do just want to tell you how grateful I am for the, for the program.

Dorie Clark (44:19):

And I was so blown away. She said, you know, I never would’ve done this. If I didn’t, you know, have the, the, you know, the sort of knowledge from the course and the community encouraging me in this. But she said that she left her job when the pandemic started. And that year over year, she had made a million dollars in her first year in business. And this is my favorite part. She’s 80, she’s an 80 year old woman who started a business and made a million freaking dollars. Gosh. And she said, I could not have done it without your course. And I thought, oh my God, that is amazing.

Amanda Setili  (44:58):

I love that. I want to know her. If you’ll introduce me to her, I would be the happiest person in the world that I really, really am. I’m just always thinking about how to still be really vital and sought after and having fun and fascinating conversations every day when I’m 80 or 90, or, you know, like we have long lives, you know, and we are not ready to be done when we’re 60 or 70 or 75. I think we’ve got to be thinking long term. Just like what you recommend.

Dorie Clark (45:30):


Amanda Setili  (45:31):

Yeah. So that is a great, great answer to that question. So how should people engage with you besides buying your books? Maybe checking out the recognized expert program. What else should people do to get more involved with you? Dori?

Dorie Clark (45:46):

Yeah. Amanda, thank you so much. Well for folks that want to dive in a little bit more on the question of strategic thinking and how to, how to enhance our abilities to be long term thinkers I have a, a free resource as well, which is the long game strategic thinking self assessment, and folks can download that for slash the long game.

Amanda Setili  (46:08):

Excellent. All right. Good. Thanks so much for coming on our show. And it’s been a fascinating conversation and I can’t wait till we do it again sometime

Dorie Clark (46:17):

Me too. Thank you so much. All

Amanda Setili  (46:19):

Right. Thanks. Bye-bye thank you for listening to fearless growth. You can find out more about the show it’ss, and you can listen on apple podcast and Spotify. If you like what you’ve heard, please take a moment to run, write overview and give us a star rating reviews matter so much in helping others find us. Thanks for your support.

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