Movers and Shakers Interview with Darren Gold

Tell us your name and a little about yourself.

I’m Darren Gold. I’m a Managing Partner at The Trium Group and author of the bestselling book Master Your Code: The Art, Wisdom, and Science of Leading an Extraordinary Life. At Trium, I work with CEOs and leadership teams at some of the world’s most innovative companies, including Roche, Dropbox, Lululemon, Sephora, Cisco, eBay, Activision, and Warner Bros.

Prior to Trium, I was the CEO at two education companies after serving over a decade as a partner at two San Francisco-based private equity firms. In the early part of my career, I spent time as an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company and as an attorney at Irell & Manella in Los Angeles.

Most importantly, I’ve been married to an amazing woman for almost 25 years, and I have three wonderful children, ages 20, 18, and 14.

What exactly does your company do?

The Trium Group is an elite management consulting, coaching, and leadership development firm. We are typically sought out by CEOs and leadership teams when the stakes are high. For example, companies call us in when undergoing major strategic or cultural transformations, or when aiming to go public. Or when a new CEO has taken the reins at an organization and wants to build a truly high-performing leadership team.

We combine the art of high stakes and transformational leadership development with a practical, performance-based approach to business and strategic execution. Above all, we have a mission to change the world by changing the way business leaders think. If organizations aren’t serious about doing something big or important, we’re probably not the right firm.

What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

My biggest professional challenge is one I write about in my book. I was fired at what I thought was the height of my career. It was my first professional “failure.” It totally shook me to my core. I realized that how I responded to that event would shape who I would become. I could treat it as a failure or see it as a wake-up call to unlock my potential. I chose the latter, and it has been and continues to be an amazing journey.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

Focus more on doing whatever you do at the start of your career insanely well, and worry less about what you’ll do in the future. The odds that what you choose to do at the start of your career will have anything to do with what you end up doing are pretty low. However, the sooner you commit to a path of personal mastery, the better. This can be hard for the 20-something-year-old crowd to hear and appreciate. I would strongly encourage everyone at the start of his or her career to dive into personal development. Read. Attend workshops. Learn to master yourself.

Who are your biggest influences and people you admire, and why?

I’m a big reader and a student of leadership and human behavior. I’ve been heavily influenced by the many great minds throughout history, especially those who have taken on the big question of what it means to be human. This includes the ancient masters, such as the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius; the great philosophers of the last few centuries, like Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger; and leading psychologists of the twentieth century, including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler. And finally, there are the modern-day spiritual and personal development teachers such as Byron Katie, Werner Erhard, and Anthony Robbins, who continue to devote their lives to understanding the human condition.  I continue to devour every word of their teachings.

I was also heavily influenced by a few key books in my early years. The first was William Manchester’s The Last Lion, which chronicled Winston Churchill’s pre-WWII years as a backbencher in parliament. It taught me about the power of conviction. The second was Jack London’s Martin Eden, which made me appreciate the possibility and power of being an autodidact.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are?

Hands down, I’m grateful to my father. I write a lot about my childhood in my book. It wasn’t easy. But I had a father who loved me unconditionally and instilled a deep self-confidence within me that I still carry today. To be told you can do anything was and continues to be an amazing gift.

What do you see as your greatest success in life?

Personally, it’s raising my three children with my wife. Specifically, my greatest success is not trying to control who they will become (that’s not even possible). I set out to role model—to the best of my ability—what it looks like to be a mature man in this world.

Professionally, my greatest success is what I do now. Every day I have the privilege of advising and counseling senior leaders. I commit to doing that with an intense and exquisite focus on mastery and excellence. I’m extremely proud of that.

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