New Kid on the Blog

Please welcome Dr. Steven Berglas, who, as he aptly titles this entry, is the new “kid” on the blog. Dr. Berglas is an executive coach, management consultant, and author. He spent 25 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry where his clinical practice and research were devoted to individuals who suffered “the stress of success.”

It is truly a pleasure to join Marshall Goldsmith and Jeffrey Bussgang as experts on BusinessWeek’s “Staying Entrepreneurial blog. One of the brilliant men I quote quite often, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., captured why having the chance to join this blog is so elating. As Holmes put it:

Life is action and passion; therefore, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.

Since blogs such as this one are unquestionably part of the “passion and action” of the first decade of the 21st. Century, my new role with BusinessWeek will be a significant part of how I guard against the peril of not having lived.

On a less existential but no less significant level, I am eager to create posts on this blog that will augment the insights that Dr. Goldsmith and Mr. Bussgang will provide. Few “entrepreneurial incubators” are as prestigious or successful as Flybridge Capital Partners, and as one of its general partners Jeffrey Bussgang not only has his finger on the entrepreneurial pulse of the nation, he is in a rare position from which to judge “what works” and what won’t in the future. As for Marshall Goldsmith, truly one of the great business minds (coaches and author) in America today, the phrase, “What else can I say?” is not hyperbole. It would be intimidating to be an “expert” along-side Dr. Goldsmith were our orientations to coaching and, by extension, I trust, staying entrepreneurial, not so dissimilar.

My first intense indoctrination to Dr. Goldsmith came after my wife dragged me–-kicking and screaming—-from Boston to Los Angeles. Immediately upon moving to my new home I joined the faculty of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management where, once it became known that I was an executive coach, I was besieged with stories about Dr. Goldsmith. Many who knew Marshall well went to extraordinary lengths to describe how his background in, and knowledge of, Buddhism contributed to his popularity. It took several years, but it finally dawned on me that these “hometown hero makes good” tales were not braggadocio: Colleagues were trying to get me to “see the light.”

Being from Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital, one of the last remaining safe havens for psychoanalysis in America, I was somewhat of an alien in Los Angeles. Most folks here find the underpinning of psychodynamic psychiatry far too deterministic (according to Freud, “character is fate”), and anti-PC (recall Freud’s theory of “penis envy”) for their taste. Even though my professional worldview combines behaviorism (the bulk of my career at Harvard Medical School was spent at McLean Hospital’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy Unit) and psychodynamic psychiatry, I could not win. To this day, I cannot escape “Marshall stories” and attempts to convert me to an ethos more palatable to the “L.A. way of thinking.”

One benefit of my intransigence, I believe, will be a diversity of insights for readers of this blog can explore. I am now more convinced that ever that integrating principles of cognitive behavior therapy with the insights of psychodynamic psychiatry provide an ideal orientation for working with the infinite impediments to change and growth encountered in executive coaching contexts. More important, I have evidence (in my practice) that this eclectic worldview is also an ideal point of departure from which to help careerists sustain or develop entrepreneurial acumen.

Because I want an open and candid relationship with readers of this blog I must confess that there is one more aspect of my life that both links me to Freud and, simultaneously, sets me apart from Jeffrey Bussgang and Marshall Goldsmith: My sole vice is smoking fine, imported cigars, the same vice “suffered” by Freud. If this marks me as “uncommon” and “irreverent” these days, I again believe this will benefit BusinessWeek readers. Why? Well, as the French are quick to maintain for everything, not just the “divide” between women and men, “Vive la Différence!” The “difference” that my orientation affords might just prove invaluable to those intent on staying entrepreneurial.

Of course, I’ll need your help. If any readers are familiar with my last book, Reclaiming The Fire: How successful people overcome burnout (Random House), and recall the sections in it on “instilling entrepreneurial spirit,” let me know what you thought about it. I will certainly try to create future blogs that address your kudos or concerns. Alternatively, if there are any issues from psychodynamic psychiatry or cognitive behavior therapy that you want me to discuss, just let me know.

Thank you for logging-on to this posting, and please keep in touch.

Steve Berglas