Do you want to achieve extraordinary success? Get the most out of every minute of the day. In this episode, Robin Colucci’s guest is Dr. Ruth Gotian, the Chief Learning Officer at Weill Cornell Medicine. In this episode, Ruth shares some of the highlights of her book, The Success Factor. Successful people have an intrinsic motivation to do what they love doing. They put passion and purpose into their work, but they also know how to find the balance. If you want to know how to achieve extraordinary success in your life, there’s no better way to learn than listening to this episode. Tune in!
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Success Factor: Habits And Practices For Achieving Extraordinary Success With Dr. Ruth Gotian
In this episode, we are going to be talking about success. I know that sometimes when we’re sitting on the outside looking in at successful people, we might be wondering, “What is their secret? How did they achieve extraordinary success? What do they know that maybe I don’t?” I’ve invited our guest, Dr. Ruth Gotian, who researches the most successful people of our generation, including Nobel laureates, astronauts, CEOs, and Olympians, in order to learn about their habits and practices so that we may optimize our own success.
She serves as Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Professor of Education and Anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Formally, she served as Assistant Dean of Mentoring and Executive Director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell, where she oversaw the success of nearly 1,800 faculty members. She is an expert in mentoring and leadership development and is a contributor to Forbes and Psychology Today, where she writes about optimizing success. We are going to spend a bit of time talking about her new book, The Success Factor: Developing the Mindset and Skillset for Peak Business Performance, and there are lots of good things that we’re going to learn about how you can optimize your own success. Enjoy.
Ruth, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
It’s so wonderful to have you. I think that this whole idea of the success factor and what sets people apart from those who succeed and those who don’t because, as you know, it’s not just about having a great idea. There’s a lot more to it and I think that this is so relevant for authors because so much of this mindset and skillset applies to authors. I’d love to hear a little bit about what prompted you to write this book.
It has been a journey. If you had told me years ago that I’d be writing this book. I would have thought that you were crazy. I started to think about what made me want to sit in front of a screen, write 70,000 words and interview all these people because it’s a major piece of work. It’s very isolating, and also, you get into the state of flow. You love it so much you can’t stop. My grandma, Esther, always told me that I was a great writer. I said, “She’s my grandmother. She’s supposed to say that.”
I had never written anything other than book reports, so I didn’t take that seriously, but yet that compliment always stayed with me from the time I was a kid until later on. When I was 43, I decided to go back to school and get my doctorate. I studied Adult Learning and Leadership and my dissertation was about success and the most successful physician-scientists of our generation.
It was my dissertation advisor, Dr. Marie Volpe, who’d made me a great writer. There’s a great difference in making sure I wrote about what I love. After that, still, when you write a dissertation, it has to be done in a certain way. I couldn’t get this idea of success out of my head and the same things I found with the physician-scientists who have an MD and do research. I was curious if those four elements I would find in other extreme high achievers. I started interviewing astronauts, Olympic champions, Fortune 500 CEOs and senior government officials, and what do you know? They all do the same four things.
If a Nobel Prize-winning scientist is like an Olympic champion short-track speed skater, that means these are learned skills. I have a doctorate in Adult Learning. I can teach this. The first way to start teaching it is by writing about it. I wrote the book The Success Factor. It talked about the four elements of success, and then what kind of an adult educator would I be if I didn’t teach people how to implement those four elements in their own lives?
Knowing that adults like and need options, every element has a buffet of options because what works for you may not work for me. What works for me now may not work for me when I have a transition in life or my career like a move, a new job, a kid or whatever it is. You need to always have options that you can pick and choose from. Once I saw these four elements and the more high achievers I have spoken with. I know we’ve worked with some of the same high achievers I couldn’t unsee it. It was like neon lights. That was it and now, The Success Factor is coming out to light.
I have to ask you, what are these factors?
There are four of them and the key is you must do all four simultaneously, but if you have to start with one, I would say you need to figure out your passion and your purpose. It’s what we call in Adult Learning your intrinsic motivation. It comes from within. You have this fire in your belly and you can’t not do it. You’re probably already doing it in some volunteer capacity anyway. This is very different from extrinsic motivation, for the diploma, the promotion, the award, the certificate, the pat on the back and the congratulatory email.
Those are other people judging you and when other people judge you, you can’t sustain that. Those are the people who either fail out or burn out, but when it comes from within, it doesn’t matter if there’s a lack of resources or if there’s a pandemic. You are going to find a way to get this done because you can’t not do it. This is why you wake up in the morning, and you can barely quiet your mind when you have to go to sleep because you know exactly what I’m talking about. You found it and all of the extreme high achievers had it.Once you have found your passion and purpose, you will outwork everyone not because you have to but because you want to. Click To Tweet
It’s our obsession.
It’s a healthy obsession.
I think one of my business coaches called it a magnificent obsession. We have a healthy obsession.
We call it intrinsic motivation. It’s your passion and purpose. Once you have found that, you are going to outwork everyone, not because you have to, but because you want to. You are going to do this deep thinking and deep work because you need to find the answer, the solution or a better and more efficient way of doing something. It’s that work ethic in a healthy way, but in a way that you can’t stop.
You get into what’s called a state of flow where time melts away and you’re not hungry or tired. You need to do this. It fulfills you. That’s why that work ethic goes hand in hand. These people don’t drop their pen at 5:00 PM. Not if they’re still in it. If they finish at 3:00 PM, they’ll finish at 3:00 PM and go on their merry way, but if they’re in it, this is what they’re going to do.
That makes a lot of sense. That particular factor of the work ethic is when you have that intrinsic motivation, sometimes the challenge is getting yourself to stopYeah. I think what has made these people so successful is that they have figured out how to have that balance. They don’t work 365 days a year. They’re significantly more efficient when they do work and those are some of the things that I talk about when I say that I teach you how to apply these things. I teach you how to get the most out of every minute of the day.
For example, I was writing a book. I’m a morning person. You don’t want me writing at 7:00 PM. It’s going to be mush, but at 7:00 AM, I will bang out 2,000 words easily. My mind is fresh. I have that pot of coffee, the words are flowing and I know I need to stop at a certain point. That second one is that work ethic. The third one is a very strong foundation, in which they’re constantly reinforcing the things that they did early in their career or the same things that they do later in their career. Even if they’ve had all of these accolades and accomplishments, the Nobel Prize winner does not stop writing grants or stop doing research because they’ve won the Nobel Prize.
The Olympic champion does not stop doing warm-ups because they got an Olympic medal. They do the same warm-ups that you would see in a junior high gym. They’ve got fancier sneakers and better equipment, but the warm-ups are exactly the same. I spoke to Ryan Millar, a three-time Olympian gold medalist in men’s volleyball. He told me for the Olympics, their warm-up or the ball control, it’s a game of pepper. It’s what he used to do in his backyard when he was seven years old. That’s the third one.
These people have their terminal degrees and all of that, but they don’t stop learning. You hear Mark Cuban, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates that they read 3 to 8 hours a day. It’s not reading that made them billionaires. It’s being open to new knowledge. You know I love to read. If we had eight hours a day to read, that sounds like heaven to us. You could read books, but you can also read articles, blogs, listen to podcasts to learn new things or watch videos.
Every person has to find their own way of learning new things, but constantly being open to it. One of the significant things that all of the high achievers had was they talked to people to learn new information. They would surround themselves with not one mentor but a team of mentors who believed in them more than they believed in themselves. The book, The Success Factor, has stories of some of the guidance that these people had, including people who you’ve worked with for their books, the advice and guidance that they got from their mentors, which completely changed the course of their life. That’s how some of them became astronauts because they got the support.
I remember Nicole’s story about that.
That’s exactly who I was referring to. Nicole Stott became an astronaut because of the encouragement from her mentor. It was basically, “Control what you can control.” You may not be able to control if you’ll get accepted, but you can certainly control if you fill out that application. The first step is to start by filling out the application.
You said something else that also made me think of some of the most successful people that I know, which is this idea of always being interested in learning from other people. I’m thinking of one particular friend of mine. I’ll go ahead and mention them since it’s a nice compliment. It’s Dr. William Lee, who I’ve noticed in observing him over many years. We’ve been friends for decades. He has a lot of interesting things to share about himself and his life, but when he meets a new person, it’s like an interrogation. He wants to know what they’re up to, what they’ve done, what they’re doing next or where they’re from. He’s really interested. He’s one of the smartest, most well-informed people I know. I think those two things are very closely related. Did you see that as well? Is that what you were alluding to?
It’s true. They’re talking to other people but maybe not an interrogation.
It’s a friendly interrogation. He doesn’t ask a superficial question like, “What do you do,” and then walk away. That’s what I’m saying. He’s looking for the next layers and wanting to get some depth.
As they’re talking to people, they understand how what they’re doing can somehow relate to what they’re doing. They’re able to connect those dots and sometimes, they’re so obvious that nobody sees them. Sometimes you have to dig through some layers, but that’s how they get that innovative mind of making these connections that other people don’t make, but they do it because they talk to other people. They will talk to other people who are outside of their industry to learn everything that they can in order to improve everything that they’re doing.
That’s what I’ve watched him and other people I know who also could have been in your book.
Maybe they are.
I can’t wait to open it and find out. They are genuinely interested, and as you said, part of their listening is always connected to what they’re up to.
They’re always making connections and even if they don’t recognize the connection now, it could be years down the road. They’ll remember that conversation of what they said and they will call up that person. That person could be someone who’s senior to them, at their level or junior to them. They have no problem with reaching out to somebody who is a generation younger than them. They’re happy to do that because by doing so, they could learn new ways of doing things.
It’s that ongoing curiosity. They’re really interested.
It’s not this synthetic conversation. They’re having this conversation so that they can learn about you. They want to know about you, and it’s some of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had. Somehow, we become good friends as a result.Successful people don't work 365 days a year. They are significantly more efficient when they do work. Click To Tweet
When I’m talking to people like that, my greatest frustration is that I can’t get a question edgewise. I would like to also know about them, but they’re much better at it.
They’re good. I have a different challenge. I get so focused on the person that I’m talking to and hearing their story because I tell them right away, “I’m not interested in what I can Google about you. I don’t need this conversation for that. I’m more interested in what it took to get there and what people don’t talk about.” That’s how I had these conversations with eight-time NBA champion, Steve Kerr, and the Head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Tony Fauci, because I wanted to know what it took to get there.
Everyone knows Fauci advised seven presidents. You could Google that. It’s incredible, but it’s not what I want to talk about. It’s what did it take to get to that point? How do you deal with the challenges, and what do you do when things work? What do you do when things don’t work? It’s quite a fascinating conversation. My challenge is I get so focused on them that they ask me questions about myself and somehow, I answer it quickly, and I say, “Back to you. I want to know more about you,” because my life is boring compared to their life.
You’re one of those people I struggle with when I go to certain events. There are lots of fascinating people. I’m trying to find out about them and they won’t stop asking me questions.
I think you always need to be the least fascinating person in the room.
I think that makes you the most fascinating. I’ve always said if you go and you’re curious about everyone else, they’ll walk away saying you’re the best conversationalist.
That’s so true. Maybe that’s why some of them have become such good friends.
When you go back to them, and you’re finding out all these things about what it took, are you seeing patterns in terms of certain roadblocks that came up? Their circumstances being different, maybe it wasn’t so much external roadblocks, but internal roadblocks that have been consistently things they’ve had to overcome.
Let’s put it this way. They all had roadblocks. I don’t care if you’ve won five Olympic gold medals or if you won the Nobel Prize. They have all had roadblocks. They’re no different than us. The difference is how they approach these challenges. The challenges were different based on the person. We have a lot of Nobel laureates who were forced to go into research. It wasn’t their passion at the beginning, but it was either go do research at the NIH, which was super competitive or going to Vietnam and fight in the war. Those were the options. They did it and then fell in love with it. Many of them won the Nobel Prize. They were called the Yellow Berets. Ten of the Yellow Berets won Nobel Prizes, which is fascinating.
They’ve all had challenges, but the way they approached the challenges was very different. Instead of saying, “What am I going to do,” they never questioned if they would overcome a challenge. Instead, they focus, and they shift their mindset to, “How will I overcome this challenge? What is the strategy I hadn’t considered yet? Who do I need to talk to? What do I need in order to solve this problem?”
When you look at problems and challenges in that way, you know you’re going to solve the challenge at the end of the day, week, month, or year. You haven’t figured out how yet, but you have enough confidence in yourself that if you think about it hard enough and you do what you need to do, you’ll get there. You’re just not there yet, which is very different because most people have a challenge and they’ll give up, but not these people. They’re relentless. Remember that second element, that work ethic. When it’s your passion, you can’t not do it.
I think being relentless is like a step up from having a work ethic because you can be willing to put in the hours doing the same thing over and over again that’s not getting you the result and then complain how hard you’re working and not getting the result. This is a skill that can be cultivated. You develop a skill of looking at problems differently and relentlessly asking yourself what to do, how to fix it, how to resolve it or how to get beyond it. This is what I found to be the key. You have to do it.
That’s a key thing and that’s what I said. That’s the difference between one day and making now day one. They don’t talk about one day. They make now day one. When they have those challenges and they have to figure out what they need to do, they don’t sit in a corner and bang their head against the wall. They will go and read up what they can, talk to people, or reach out to their mentors. All of those things, they do that and that helps them overcome the challenge.
Trust me. Not every day is glorious. When you do research, there are more failures and bad days than good days. If you’re an athlete, there are more days you’re not going to win than you will win. I spoke to a world championship baseball player, a World Series champ from the 1969 Miracle Mets, Art Shamsky. He said, “Do you know what it’s like that you are at that and over the microphone or speakers to millions of people both in-person and on television and they’re announcing your stats? Your stats are your failures and it’s announced.”
There are more bad days than good days, but the mentor besides giving them the additional perspectives, they’re also their cheerleader. I always say they believe in them more than they believe in themselves, so they all had it. They never felt that they had all the answers. They felt they had more questions than answers.
I find when someone comes to me and they already know everything about publishing, I know that that’s not my mentee. When you were researching this book and I know you did a lot of interviews, what was something that surprised you that came forward?
I was not expecting these people who have achieved such incredible heights in their careers to be this humble and so much so that there are some things that surprised me. For example, I always ask the Olympians, “Can you show me your medals?” Only two of them had it on display. Everyone else has it in a box under the bed or a safe. A few said it was in a brown paper bag in the nightstand or in the sock drawer.
One of them, Scott Hamilton, the gold medal figure skater from ’84, gave them all away to the Figure Skating Hall of Fame. I put this poll on LinkedIn and I said, “If you got an Olympic medal, what would you do with it?” A lot of people said, “I’d put it under my pillow. I’d sleep with it around my neck.” Nobody thought, “I’d put it in a brown paper bag in the sock drawer.”
They do and the reason is they say that the medal is a chapter in their lives. It’s not the entire story. I think that’s why they’re so successful and didn’t crash and burn afterward. One of the things people always ask me is, “How do you identify what success is?” I can tell you that the definition is different based on who you ask. It’s also different based on gender and rank. I did a lot of research about that, but one thing that became crystal clear was that those who were successful pushed their field forward in some new way. Also, as they pushed the field forward, they’re also paying it back. They’re bringing people up with them and some of them, it’s the individual people they mentor.
Dr. Bob Lefkowitz, Nobel Prize winner, never became a chair or a dean even though he’s been offered many times. He just wanted his lab, but he has mentored over 200 trainees. I don’t know anyone else who’s done 200 individual trainees and then there are some people who’ve created huge programs. We know the astronaut, Dr. Charlie Camarda, created the whole Epic Education Foundation to teach people how to think about challenges in new and innovative ways and to be fearless. People have done it in different ways, but they have always pushed the field forward and brought people up with them.
What were the differences in the definition of success for gender?
It’s interesting because women felt that it’s often the things that they are and it’s the same with junior faculty. With the lower ranked people in their career, it’s the things that their promotions are based upon. It’s things that you can measure and count. It’s your publication or your grants. It’s those types of things. With the people who are more senior, they started thinking about their legacy. What are you known for? What national recognition do you get?Every person has to find their own way of learning new things but constantly being open to it. Click To Tweet
The people who are lower rank never thought about their recognition at all. The women felt that success was part of who you know and how you leverage that, whereas, for men, that was part of who they were. They never made that connection. Interestingly, for the people who are higher ranked, their definition of success is not the same definition that they use when promoting the more junior people. What they think and do, the espouse is very different.
Can you give me an example of that?
For example, for academia, the senior people are talking about their national recognition, their legacy, and what big awards did you get. Whereas the junior faculty are like, “Did I publish the right number of papers in the right journals? Did I give the talks in the right places? Did I get the right grant from the right place for the right amount?” The senior people aren’t talking about the grants and the papers anymore. It’s, “What awards and recognitions did I get?”
Are you saying that women think more like the junior people and men think more like the senior people?
Yeah, exactly, which is surprising.
Do you see it in senior women?
Yeah, and it’s fascinating because every woman and every underrepresented minority who I interviewed brought up their gender or race-ethnicity in the conversation and how barriers were put before them because of that. I didn’t get that from the other groups.
It’s the water that you swim in.
It was repeated every single time.
It’s interesting because there is still that other factor when we think about the success factor.
That’s why I always say that the nuances of the definition of success are different based on who you ask, but the other important thing to understand is that success is a moving target. What you deem as successful now, you might have a varied definition in 1, 5 or 10 years from now, which is why I hate the question, “What do you want to do in ten years?”
I’m like, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do in five years,” but are there things I want to achieve? Absolutely. My friend, Susan, laughs at me that my five-year goals fit on a Post-it Note. It’s five bullets on a Post-it Note. That’s it. Those are the things that I want to achieve and then I rework them because that’s what I want now. Every so often, I’ll cross something out and add something new instead.
One thing I found to be a huge factor is you have to really want it.
That’s element number one. You have to want it.
As you said, that intrinsic desire will keep you going for those extra steps, especially when the roadblocks show up. If you don’t want it bad enough, you won’t get past that block.
Those are the people who never finish. They fail out or burn out. There’s an interesting story which I talk about in the book. I told you I was older when I went back to school to get my doctorate and one of the last classes that you take prepares you for your proposal. It’s like putting together a book proposal.
The professor went around the room and a lot of people were working full-time and later in life when they were getting their doctorate. She asked every single person, “Why do you want this doctorate? It’s a long road. It’s expensive, isolating and a ton of work. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard,” and everyone gave their answers.
As I was listening to the conversation, I was thinking, “This one wants a promotion. This one wants a raise. This one wants a new job. This one has a question they’ve been noodling about for ten years. This one had an experience, and they want to know what it means. This one is thinking about and can’t stop thinking about this.” I kept thinking to myself that the ones who are doing it for the promotion, the raise or new job, they’re not going to finish.
Years later, they still haven’t finished. I don’t even think they ever put their thesis proposal in. The others that had an experience wanted to understand that they had a question they’d been noodling about. They have had this idea in their head for all these years that they can’t stop thinking about. Those people not only finished, but they finished in record time and they did great jobs. They have what we call line one. Line one means no edits. It was very obvious to me.
I remember going up to the professor and saying, “The responses to your questions fell in two buckets, and I found that very interesting.” We had a discussion about it and then years later, we discussed it again because that professor was my dissertation advisor later on. I said to her, “Those who said that they’re doing it for the promotion or the recognition, they never finished, did they?” She said, “No. They never finished. They couldn’t get a proposal. They couldn’t get a single chapter or even get their research questions done.” They didn’t love it. You have to love it.
They felt almost like a should. There was a box that needed to be ticked.
It’s so interesting because one of my mentors, Dr. Bert Shapiro, worked at the NIH. He’s one of the people who I told I was going back to school and he wrote my letter of recommendation. When we were talking about the topic and I said, “I want to do something with physician-scientists,” he said to me, “Do something important, not just interesting because if it’s important, it’ll have an impact.”Nobody wakes up in the morning aiming to be average. Click To Tweet
By the way, Tony Fauci said the same thing to me. Now, I’ve heard it from two people from the NIH. What I realized was that nationally, everyone was talking about what we call the leaky pipeline or those who are leaving the physician-scientists workforce. The NIH even put working groups together to discuss it. We were pouring resources into this problem.
I said, “What about the people on the other end of the spectrum whose work is so incredible, amazing and impactful that it’ll more than make up for those who are leaving?” Those people were being ignored. Nobody was looking at those people and I said, “I’m going to look at those people. Those are my people.” That’s what led to my studying Nobel Prize winners, surgeon generals, breakthrough award winners and people like Fauci.
I’m nodding my head and smiling because I had a similar epiphany in my own work sometime in my later 40s where it dawned on me. I know this will come as a shock to hear, but I am not going to live forever. I was a little shocked, but then I accepted that. I realized that it meant there was a finite number of books that I would be able to shepherd into the world. I then realized I needed to get serious about whose books I was going to give my time to.
I only want to put my time and energy into books that will have an impact, which means I had to rethink who I was and who I was working with. Not to say that there was anything bad or missing in where I had been, but I realized that for me to have that maximum impact, I needed to be working with people who are having an impact and are committed to having an impact on a global scale. My tagline became, “Helping world-class experts write world-changing books.” That’s all we do and it’s so fulfilling and exciting. Lots of people have interesting stories to tell, but are they impactful? I think that what you’re saying about impact versus interesting is so right on the mark.
I got great advice. I listened to my mentors and it got me to The Success Factor. I’m eternally grateful to them.
I love that idea of changing the focus instead of trying to drag along the people who are pushing the paper around and turning the focus to where it’s happening. The people who already have the passion and are already committed to having an impact, it’s so much more fun to work with those who are lit up and fired up. That was the other thing I experienced too when I made that shift myself.
It’s incredible. I made myself patient zero. I said, “Whatever they’re doing, I’m going to do,” and then all of a sudden, that’s when things started changing. I tell people I became obsessed with success because I don’t believe anyone wakes up in the morning aiming to be average. I think people want to be successful. They don’t always know how to do it. They don’t quite have the blueprint and the blueprint for you doesn’t quite fit me. I was going to change that. I was going to create a transformational blueprint that fits anybody who wants to be successful and because it has options. That’s why it fits you, me and any other person.
Beyond the book, is there any other way people can get in touch with you? Do you offer a course or something that we should know about? Am I jumping the gun here?
There are courses in the work. The book is called The Success Factor. It’s available wherever you buy books. My website and social media is my name. My website is RuthGotian.com.
Before I let you go, I have to ask you the one final question that I love to ask all of my guests, which is what is the question that I should have asked, could have asked or you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? Please answer it.
I’m a voracious reader. I read 70 to 100 books a year. It’s fun to talk to you about that because it’s somebody who loves books and I’m not seen as odd. When I was a kid, we went overseas in the summer. We were allowed two suitcases. One of mine was filled with clothes and records. The records were in between the clothes and the other one was filled with books because at that time, the New York Public Library allowed you to take an unlimited number of books for the summer and you got the whole summer. It’s not just three weeks. I built it up. This is way before Kindle.
People ask me what my favorite books are and I said, “I can tell you my recent favorite books because it changes all the time.” Some of my favorite books are autobiographies of people who are alive, for example, A Higher Standard by General Anne Don Woody, who is the first female four-star general. From Willard Straight to Wall Street by Thomas W. Jones, who in 1969 started the takeover of the student union at Cornell University, and that’s why they have a whole curriculum for African American now.
I finished reading, and I wrote about it for Forbes, the autobiography of one of the Nobel laureates who’s in my book, Dr. Bob Lefkowitz. He is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and he wrote the book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm. Those books are probably some of my absolute favorites now. I recommend them to a lot of people because they’re exceptionally well-written and are exceptional stories in life.
I have to do a plug for my client, Dr. Louis Ignarro, also a Nobel Laureate whose memoir, Dr. NO, which stands for Nitric Oxide, is going to be out in February 2022. Put that on your reading list.
Yes, and I’m going to read Nicole Stott’s book too.
Nicole Stott’s Back to Earth.
She’s in my book too.
That’s another connection that we share. Thank you so much for being here and sharing these incredible wisdoms on success.
Thank you and thanks for letting me talk about The Success Factor.
- Dr. Ruth Gotian
- The Success Factor: Developing the Mindset and Skillset for Peak Business Performance
- Epic Education Foundation
- A Higher Standard
- From Willard Straight to Wall Street
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm
- Dr. NO
- Back to Earth
About Dr. Ruth Gotian
Dr. Ruth Gotian is the Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Professor of Education in Anesthesiology and former Assistant Dean of Mentoring and Executive Director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell Medicine. She has been hailed by the journal Nature and Columbia University as an expert in mentoring and leadership development and is currently a contributor to Forbes and Psychology Today where she writes about ‘optimizing success’. She also has a weekly show and podcast by the same name where she gathers high achievers to talk about their journey to success.
In 2021, she was one of 30 people worldwide to be named to the Thinkers50 Radar List, dubbed the Oscars of management thinking and is a semi-finalist for the Forbes 50 Over 50 list. During her extensive career, she has personally coached and mentored thousands of people ranging from undergraduates to faculty members.
As Assistant Dean for Mentoring she oversaw the success of nearly 1,800 faculty members at Weill Cornell Medicine. Currently, she researches the most successful people of our generation, including Nobel laureates, astronauts, CEOs and Olympic champions, in order to learn about their habits and practices so that we may optimize our own success.
Dr. Gotian received her B.S. and M.S. in Business Management from the University at Stony Brook in New York and certificates in Executive Leadership and Managing for Execution from Cornell University. She earned her doctorate at Teachers College Columbia University where she studied Adult Learning and Leadership and focused her research on optimizing success.
Dr. Gotian publishes on topics ranging from networking, mentoring, leadership development and optimizing success and has given keynote talks on these themes all over the globe. She regularly publishes in such journals as Nature, Scientific American, Academic Medicine, Psychology Today, Forbes and Harvard Business Review. She is the co-editor of a book on medical education, won numerous mentoring awards and is the author of The Success Factor – Developing the Mindset and Skillset for Peak Performance.