Fairbanks Ranch educator in the forefront of education on executive leadership

With four decades teaching executive leadership under his belt, Fairbanks Ranch resident Marshall Goldsmith founded Coaches15.

The project’s goal was to enlist a team of like-minded professionals willing to voluntarily share their expertise with potential future leaders in a concept dubbed “Pay It Forward.”

Two years later, the project has evolved to 100 Coaches, culled from more than 16,000 people who applied to join.

The 100 selected to participate include prominent thinkers, leaders and educators from around the globe.

“It’s just an amazing group,” Goldsmith said in a recent phone interview. “I had no idea such incredible people would apply.”

He named three iconic leaders as his inspiration for the project and they are serving as its key members and faculty:

--Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of Girl Scouts of America and the Peter Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

--Alan Mulally, former CEO of the Ford Motor Co. as well as Boeing Commercial Aircraft

--Jim Yong Kim, 12th president the World Bank Group and a former president of Dartmouth College who was once named as one of America’s 25 best leaders by U.S. News and World Report

“These are my heroes, the ones who gave me many things and never charged me money,” said Goldsmith.

He credited a program he participated in called “Design the Life You Love,” led by Ayse Birsel as the inspiration for the “Coaches” project.

To belong to 100 Coaches, members must commit to participate without pay and disseminate their wisdom to aspirants for free.

The group’s last brainstorming conference was held at the end of March in Phoenix, in which members paid their own way to attend.

“It’s all free (of participation fees),” Goldsmith said. “There’s no money involved. There is no guilt and no expectations. It’s all voluntary.”

Among those 100 Coaches in attendance was Deepa Prahalad, a resident of Carmel Country Highlands and co-author of the book, “Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business.”

“You get to hear from people who have done wonderful things in their organizations and have overcome challenges,” Prahalad said of the conference. “These are people who have turned things around and hearing how they did it is really powerful.”

Growing up, she had only to look as far as her father, the late C.K. Prahalad, to see an inspiring example of someone who understood the challenges of leadership.

A native of India who eventually brought his family to Rancho Santa Fe, C.K. Prahalad was a leading authority on corporate strategy and eventually became a tenured professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He received the university’s highest honor — Distinguished University Professor — in 2005.

He was twice voted No. 1 on the list, a London-based resource for identifying, ranking and sharing leading management ideas. He received many honors and awards both in the U.S. and India.

Like her father, Deepa Prahalad got to know Marshall Goldsmith well. She studied at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business, where Goldsmith continues to teach.

“He’s very generous with his time and he’s a very gracious person,” Prahalad said.

Goldsmith grew up in a town near Louisville, Ky. He earned a master’s in business administration at Indiana University and received a doctorate in organizational management from UCLA.

He said, however, an experience while working as a professor at Loyola Marymount University led him to believe he could expand his career beyond the confines of university campuses.

Paul Hersey, a consultant management expert and author, was double-booked for a speaking engagement and asked Goldsmith to fill in at one of the events.

“He said, ‘I’ll pay a thousand dollars for the day,’” Goldsmith said. “I was making $15,000 a year, so I said, ‘Sign me up.’”

Members of the organization hosting the event initially were disappointed that a replacement had been sent, but Goldsmith won them over, he said.

“I got ranked first out of all the speakers they had hired, so they said, ‘Sign up Marshall Goldsmith again.’”

Throughout all of his wide-ranging activities, Goldsmith has continued to write prolifically. Among the 38 books he has written or on which he has collaborated, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and “Mojo” were best-sellers and remain widely cited.

Brent Gleeson, another Rancho Santa Fe resident and the author of the recently released title, “TakingPoint,” named Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” as a major influence.

“How Women Rise,” which Goldsmith co-wrote with lead author Sally Helgesen, is just now hitting the market, Goldsmith said.

He envisions the 100 Coaches effort will soon result in a volume.

“The coaches are working together to put out a book,” Goldsmith said. “They’ll write the best of their ideas and we’ll publish that as well.”

To learn more about 100 Coaches and Marshall Goldsmith, visit and