Dr. Marc Cooper, President of MBC Consultants, shares his thoughts on wisdom in work, family, community and politics.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here. Another episode of Coach the Coach Radio. And this is going to be a fun one today. We have with us Dr. Marc B. Cooper with MBC Consultants. Welcome, Dr. Cooper.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: Well, I'm excited to learn what you're up to. Tell us a little bit about MBC Consultants. How are you serving folks?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: It has gone through numerous evolutions over its last 37 years. So, as times have changed, MBC has changed and served different clients and clientele. And today, we're looking at doing something, and I'm not sure at my age it's the right thing to do, but bringing something new to the world to, at least, look at and consider and that being wisdom. So, that's what we're up to at this moment.
Lee Kantor: So, you're helping your clients become more wise?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Yes, exactly.
Lee Kantor: And then, how do you go about doing that?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: That's what makes wisdom so wonderful is there is no way, right way. There is the way that the client has to begin to look at himself in the world from a different perspective of just producing results but enhancing people's capacity as human beings and in their performance. And from my point of view, the way this whole thing is moving in the world, which is digitization, Newton said, "Two things can occupy the same space at the same time." The more digitization there is, the less wisdom is available. And I think people are the key. And somehow, wisdom provides a particular way that people can see themselves and others that enhances their lives, enhances their performance. So, that's what I'm up to doing.
Lee Kantor: Now, do you see kind of the paradox in the sense of, now, every person that has access to the Internet has access to all the wisdom of the world, all the learning, the education, they can learn pretty much anything they would like to learn from at the time?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I agree. I agree, except that isn't wisdom.
Lee Kantor: So, they had-
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Information isn't wisdom.
Lee Kantor: So, they have the information, but they don't have the context in order to understand, appreciate and leverage the education.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Well said. In my view of the world, which is just my view. So, one does not have to believe me. They have to live out of their own beliefs. But I believe that context is decisive, and I believe that wisdom is a context. And inside of that context, people operate, speak, relate differently than they do in a digital context. There's just something available that's more humane. There's something that's available that's more kind. There's something that's more available that's more considerate. So, I think bringing wisdom, I'm not saying get rid of the data. I'm just saying, boy, if you go all the way down the trail, I think there's trouble brewing for people who don't want to be machines. People want to be people. So, wisdom brings that arena, that context inside.
Lee Kantor: Now, do you find that once you go down that rabbit hole that you've just described, then that also connects to a community that just like there's a lot of the the learnings available, there's the ability to form community around the world. And then yet people are becoming less kind of community focused and more splintered and polarized.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I think you're accurate in your assessment. I never saw it as clearly as you just said it. Yeah, I think it has a divisionary capacity if we forget. But, you know, I don't know where the and maybe it's because I'm older and have become an elder that I see things differently than I did in my 40s and 50s. But right now, how I see the world and how I see the leaders I'm working with and the people that I'm working with, his man, they you know, life is hard and the smiles on their face, but it's not in their heart. And so I think wisdom brings more heart to the conversation.
Lee Kantor: Now, do you find that the wisdom is best gained in person?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Well, let's see. I don't know how to answer that question, because I've only worked in person since COVID for maybe four or five arenas. Most of it has been through the screens that we're now using today.
Lee Kantor: So, one-on-one. Let's reframe that to one-on-one where it's personal. It's not kind of a mass.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: It's both. I worked with CEOs, and I worked with their executive teams, and I worked with them as a group because they're often not seen from the outside in. They're just looking from the inside into the inside. Wisdom brings a different perspective. Wisdom goes, "Have you ever thought looking at it like this?" So, wisdom sees things that they often don't see or could be blind to, to be considered, and when considered could change the environment and the effectiveness of how they're working.
Lee Kantor: Now, you mentioned that this wisdom has come about the evolution over the years. Do you think the the 30-year-old you like, what would the 30 year old you have thought about wisdom?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: My daughter's a 30-year-old. I think she's very wise. I believe wisdom is an internal element that all of us have that needs to be developed as opposed to getting. You talked about going out to the Internet and bringing it in. I think wisdom has to be brought from the inside out. Wisdom is eternal. The same, Shakespeare said it 800 years ago, and it's still true today, "To thine own self be true." If you take a look at the people, Aristotle, Socrates, whoever you considered to have wisdom, they're speaking their statements. Their sentences, still, are true today. And again, my view is my view, but it looks like that kind of input is so missing in areas of the world, politics, business, neighborhoods. It's just what you pointed to is community.
Lee Kantor: Now, you said, "To thine own self be true." It is that kind of some of the problem, because if I'm saying that this is my truth, and I'm going to live my truth, is that selfish if I'm not mindful of how it impacts others?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Yes. The answer is you've got some wisdom there. You know if it's good for you and good for others, you should be doing that.
Lee Kantor: But we're seeing a lot of, "I'm saying this is my truth. This is me. And then if somebody is disagreeing with me, then that person," it's no longer right or wrong. It's good or evil.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: It's become righteousness. "I'm right" becomes righteousness. Yes, that's what's missing. Wisdom can tolerate another person's view of the world because their view of the world isn't fixed. They may have something over there that you have never seen before. Why don't you listen from some place other than I know and see what you hear. And there may be something over there that you have already made up your mind about, so you can't really hear to the depth that the person's trying to say it.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: So, one of the things wisdom brings is a way for people to listen to each other rather than hate each other because you can't get things done that way, or make up stories about each other, or have prejudices about each other. I'm not saying it's going to go away. I'm saying but it can be not as interfering in the way people work together
Lee Kantor: Now, something that's helped me kind of reframe some of those activities are I don't look at anybody as a fully kind of developed being. I'm trying to look at everybody as kind of a beginner or a trainee, and that we're all learning together, and that some people might be a little bit ahead of other people, but no one is kind of on purpose out to do something terrible or evil. I'm trying to look at people in terms of we're all doing the best we can, and we're trying to figure this out. That kind of empathy, is that kind of part of this wisdom path?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Absolutely. It's hard. It's really hard not to be right. And it's really hard to open up to some area, which may expose some decision you made about yourself in order to make that about another person. So, that's an interesting way to begin to look at some things and say, "Well, I think that about you because," and what's under the because and what's underneath that. And pretty soon, you start to look at yourself. And when you start to look at yourself, you can hear people in a different way than you could when you're just listening from that outer shell. So, one might say that wisdom provides a kind of listening to others that allows for better communication and more effective communication.
Lee Kantor: So, now, are there any symptoms that your clients are having before the answer is, "Hey, we better call those MBC folks because we need help in this area"?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I don't know. I don't think it's as recognizable that, "Something's wrong here. I need to fix it." Usually the precursor to this is, "It's just not working the way I know it could work." People aren't getting along, I'm fixing, I'm putting bandaids on things. Circumstances are beginning to indicate, and where they're looking is everywhere except where they should be looking, which is at themselves and say, "Hey, what am I doing here that's making this happen?"
Dr. Marc B Cooper: So, people who are willing to take on responsibility for the way they are leading their entity, and I know that they have restrictions because they're reporting to boards and stockholders and all that, but how they're leading could probably add some wisdom because they need better performance out of the people around them, and they need to be able to talk to people with greater effectiveness. So, they'll be probably talking to a friend who is working with me who will say, "Hey, you know what? I had that same problem, and this is what I did about it." And some people will call me that way. I don't think I can market this. I don't think so yet. I haven't figured it out anyway.
Lee Kantor: So, the way that the word is spreading is by the people who are experiencing it, finding a benefit and then sharing it?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Yeah. And LinkedIn has been wonderful to me, I have to admit. I do get inquiries, and I do get phone calls, and I do get movement out of there. And I'm new at this. You talked about beginners. I'm a beginner. I'm starting up basically a new entity for the last three to five years on wisdom, and I didn't need to. So, that was the sweetest part about this is I'm in the 70s with enough money, thank God, knock wood, and all of that to go out into the sunset. But I just saw something was missing in the way people were communicating and dealing with life and being in life.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: And they're all at work 80 percent of the time, so where do you get -- I can go to the Buddhist temple and do my Saturdays and Wednesday nights, but I go to work 80% of the time. Where the change needs to happen is at work. And so, I said, "Hey, I've learned some stuff in my 76 years. Maybe I could contribute something that's interesting to leadership because I know that if wisdom were there, people would want to work there because something's happening for them in their own lives, in their own way they see the world, and their own wisdom." Wisdom as a gift. So, that's kind of what I see now.
Lee Kantor: So, now, somebody raises their hand and says, "Dr. Cooper, I'm in. What does the beginning of a relationship look like if you're going to help me?"
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Just like this, a nice conversation to really find out what's going on in your world and where you're stuck. What's chronic? Chronic issues are really interesting because they're really held in place for a reason. People don't understand the reason they're held in place for. Once they see, "Oh, I see why I have that one." And then, they're asking different sets of questions about what can they do about it, but they're also relating to the problem differently.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: So, everyone is really individual. It's just like what are they working on? What are their responsibilities? What are their accountabilities? Who do they report to? Is this the future that they're looking for? So, there's an assessment phase for me and for them to see if it's going to work for them. And then, we figure out a program that feels right for them.
Lee Kantor: Now, you consciously called your organization MBC consultants. How do you discern between consultants and coaches?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Oh, a great question. It depends how you define it. And can I tell a little back story here? Would that be okay?
Lee Kantor: Sure.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: So, in the late '80s, a group of us got together who were all consulting using a similar model of technologies to consult some IBM, some Merck, and I happened to be in the health care market at that point, doing practice management, which was wonderful for me. And we decided that what was missing in consulting was coaching. So, we hired the best coaches of that time to come and teach us coaching. So, it was Red Auerbach, it was John Wooden, it was Tim Gallwey, it was Werner Erhard, and it was George Allen. And so, my initial thing about coaching was it's about performance and it's about people on the field. And where I was trained was by athletic coaches and my coaching view of what I need to do to have that person perform better on the field.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Consulting can include lots of different things - IT, AI, HR. It could be very specific. It can be very clean. So, I consider myself a head coach when I'm coaching and looking at where the performance interferences are occurring. And Tim Gallwey, if you have a chance to read his The Inner Game of Golf and Inner Game of Tennis, it talks about the inner game that he has learned to coach, which was to change the perspective of the player, not change the activity of the player. So, if he saw a ball coming at him as a threat, he would swat at it. But if he saw that that really was not a threat, he would be able to naturally hit the backhand. So, there's much I've learned over the years, but coaching is about performance and consulting is really about systems, structures, process, although it can include this. So, there are aspects of consulting that certainly can be coaching.
Lee Kantor: And then, when you're working with folks together, you're kind of helping them self-author a plan that's effective to get them where they want to go?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I'm usually hired for is it's water to the fish, air to the bird, culture to the company. And there are people that you've heard say culture is king. So, there's a certain model and methodology that I think that wisdom can bring to impact directly the culture, so it allows for people to feel better at work, be more emotionally committed at work, be more related at work. So, I focus on that stuff more than the strategic plan, and what are the goals, and what is the one, three and five-year, that stuff. I don't do that. There's other people who do that.
Lee Kantor: Now, can you share a story that maybe somebody has gone through this and has reached a new level or has-
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I just talked to her before you.
Lee Kantor: All right.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Okay. So, people have dreams, and people have businesses, and people see themselves in a way that they really feel they can attain. And so, this particular woman wanted to impact the way women are seen it work and what they can accomplish at work. So, she wanted to transform how women were perceived in the world. And I'm a guy and a human being that wants to see people's visions like that expressed because I think it will make a difference on the planet. So, having other leaders be powerful leaders is what wisdom does. And so, today, she has opened her fourth location. She has gotten her executive team together. She's about to do what's right for her, which is basically get some outside investors and take her model because it's scalable all the way. She's ready. She's just, like, ready. And when I first met her, she was afraid she couldn't do it.
Lee Kantor: And then, together, you helped her do that, or you gave her the confidence to do that? Like where did your kind of work begin and end?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: It began with where she was, which was, sometimes, people need to see that the stories they've made up about themselves are just that stories and not their truths. And then, begin to explore that particular area. Part of wisdom, I must say, which is the part that most attractive to me is the self-development, the self-awareness, the hone-in. Maybe I have something to do with this. So, I try to work with people, so they can move themselves to being the cause of why things happen the way they happen.
Lee Kantor: So, you help them, kind of, with some of their unconscious biases or kind of blind spots?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Yes, but that's not all that's there too. There's not admitting that certain things have occurred or are occurring that you do not want to go public or expose. I'm sure you're familiar with Brené Brown, the vulnerability, and authenticity, and all that stuff that's out there right now. Well, a great leader who is wise doesn't have anything to hide, doesn't have anything to gain at that level. So, having people be less afraid to be who they. Are and because they're very powerful, if they let themselves have that, it's really remarkable. Great leaders, you can tell a great leader when he's out there or she's out there. There's just something about them, which is unabashedly authentic and powerful. So, if you can get that developed in people, which we can, that's pretty remarkable.
Lee Kantor: So, now, there's more people on this planet than ever before. Is the amount of wisdom still there?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: It's an unsolvable problem, really. It's an unsolvable problem.
Lee Kantor: But is the amount of wisdom still is in proportion to the number of people, or you think there is less wisdom today than there was when Socrates was around?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I think that's true. I spent time with some Aboriginal tribes, and I love that and how the elders are held. I love how there's a certain way that they are, and that when you spoke about community. We just warehouse elders. I'm running into ageism now, which is really interesting because I don't even feel my age. And the Satchel Paige, how old would you be if you didn't know how old you was? I'd feel I'd be about 40. And so, I have a lot of juice. I have a lot of gas in the tank. And I'm like, "Okay." And I see things I want to get done and how I want to get them done. And why not. But 50 years in the field teaches you a lot. Wisdom needs experience.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: The problem with the Internet that you've brought up in the beginning of the call, that whole thing is really interesting because you can't turn that information into experience because it doesn't generate action. Information without action has no power. It just lays there and gets forgotten. So, when people begin to speak about the difference, the differences that there are out there that may be not delineated enough for people, that's also wisdom. Maybe they don't see, and you need to kind of, "Have you ever looked at it this way?" And maybe when they look at it that way, they see things they have not seen before, and actions change when you see the world differently
Lee Kantor: Now, do you find this bias against elders? And maybe in this country, is it unique to this country or is this happening all over the world?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I have been all over the world, although I've been to 17 countries. I usually go there for other reasons. So, I don't really know. I know that I work with one, a Native American tribe, and helped them build a hospice and assisted living center because they wouldn't permit that on the reservation at that point, I don't know what it would be like now. So, I have spent time with Aboriginals, and I've also been to South America. And I'm just watching the relationship that elders have in the community and how they're held. Now, I don't know if that's fully possible, and I don't know if it's decreasing across the world, but take a look at what we do with people here. This is a youth-oriented culture. That's how it kind of works. So, wisdom isn't highly regarded. Not yet, anyway. It will be.
Lee Kantor: Now, was it always that way, wisdom highly regarded among the elders at the formation of the country?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: I would say because of my background and history, my first-generation Russian, second-generation Russian, and our religious practices, my father's religious practice, his family, was to really intellectualism and honor family and honor people. So, I grew up inside of that family system that saw the world that way. So, it contributed to my direction to seek wisdom. And then, you run into people. For me, it's people, but it could be books in which, all of a sudden, things begin to click for you, and that makes sense.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: One of my teachers is Joseph Campbell, who, if you have time to read his stuff, it's about the hero's journey, and he has a video series out. He said to me, he said, "If you see your steps clearly on the path, that's probably the wrong path." So, I've done many, many, many things, had had several business expressions, but I see things now that other people can't see. Something about wisdom that you can see the beginning, the middle, and now a future. If you do that, that's really going to be stupid. That's going to cost you. Don't do that.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: So, wisdom adds a kind of perspective to how you see yourself and see the future. And wisdom has to learn how to communicate that without being righteous about it. So, if you go into most companies, people are by command and control, and that doesn't work. If people can't be accountable, if people don't want to do it, what are you doing there? What are you doing in terms of your developing yourself as a leader that they're not able to lead their own selves?
Lee Kantor: Now, Dr. Cooper, if somebody wants to learn more about your practice, and how you're serving folks, and get on your calendar, maybe have a more substantive conversation about wisdom in their workplace, is there a website they can go you back?
Dr. Marc B Cooper: You bet. Of course, there is. I appreciate the homerun, the ball homerun written on it. Go to www.drmarcbcooper.com or MBC on Google, and you'll see me, and then you can go that route via the website.
Lee Kantor: That's drmarcbcooper.com
Dr. Marc B Cooper: Yeah.
Lee Kantor: Thank you so much for sharing your story. You're doing such important work, and we appreciate you.
Dr. Marc B Cooper: We appreciate you letting me do this. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor. We'll see you all next time on Coach the Coach Radio.