I have been a Daniel Goleman groupie since the mid-1970s, when we met in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We were among a wave of young Americans just returned from extended journeys in India - culturally disoriented and simultaneously very much re-oriented - hanging around the home of Harvard psychology department head David McClelland, the father of motivation psychology better known counter-culturally as the guy who fired Harvard professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later more famously known as Ram Dass) for conducting experiments giving LSD to grad students.
Danny, as he's called by his friends (and I am lucky to count myself among them), had been in India for a year doing research for a Ph.D. having to do with meditation and psychology. Once the dissertation was completed, he went on to become an award-winning editor/writer for Psychology Today magazine and, later, a groundbreaking journalist covering human behavior trends for The New York Times.
While still contracted to The Times from 1984-96, he'd written several books, each well researched and written, none of which sold remarkably well. But all that changed with his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ . The book was a Times bestseller for a year and a half; it has sold 5 million copies in 30 languages. Though the phrase had been used earlier, Danny's analyses and ideas for applying the concept to our lives made "emotional intelligence" part of our lexicon.
And it made Danny a franchise. He has published several more books and gives keynote speeches; he co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and co-chaired the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University. His newest book, Social Intelligence, explores the latest research on brain plasticity and, again, the implications of these findings on our ability to learn to become more intelligent - in the ways it most matters.
I think it all caught on in such a big way because the concept was just so doggone simple. It takes more than a high IQ to become a success in life, success not just at work but also in relationships with others, with the environment, with ourselves. Danny answered my father's - and many others' - gnawing question: "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" Or, I might add (if my dad might not), happy, fulfilled, wise, giving, more tranquil?
I also think it caught on because the messenger embodies the message. With recognition, perhaps even fame, and certainly a little more disposable income than a reporter's salary enables, Danny has not changed one iota in the years I have known him. Except for losing his huge halo-like head of curly hair from the '70s, he remains earnest, honest, open, available, questioning - and deeply spiritual. He was never humble, but neither was he ever arrogant. He knows what he knows and who he is.
And he happens to have one of the most soothing voices extant. For proof of this - and as another demonstration of his own intelligence in spreading the word on what he does know (and who) - I refer you to his latest venture in communication.
With his younger of his two sons, Hanuman Goleman, an audio production engineer, he now makes available on CD and via podcast a series of interviews he conducts with forward thinkers from a variety of fields crucial to our times. Hanuman's new enterprise, More Than Sound, focuses on the production and publishing of these conversations.
The "Wired to Connect" series features pioneers of social intelligence. Among the subjects are filmmaker George Lucas on "Rethinking Education"; physician and technology entrepreneur Larry Brilliant on "Conscious Philanthropy"; Dr. Daniel Siegel on "Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People"; author Naomi Wolf on "Women, Ethics and Careers"; Dr. Richard Davidson on "Training the Brain"; and psychologist Paul Ekman on "Knowing Our Emotions, Improving Our World."
In all of them, you feel like you just happen to be overhearing two absolutely brilliant people exchanging ideas, one building on the other. Any second now, you sense, they will hit on a whole new idea that they will develop into a movement that will change the world. Danny plays the inquiring (though extremely well informed) reporter who throws some interrogational softballs to set up the dialogue but he also contributes his own ideas and counterpoints. That he has known these men and women for many years only makes the conversations that much more intimate. Not only do we find out about the idea behind these people's ideas, but we also find out, inspired perhaps by his mentor McClelland, a little bit about what has motivated them to pursue their fields.
And what motivated Danny to venture into this new medium? Aside from his mellifluous voice, that is.
'The unsatisfying part of writing is that while ideas go in many directions, the very nature of writing requires you to move forward logically and sequentially," he told me recently. "But ideas don't necessarily evolve that way. This format allows me and my friends to delve more deeply, to probe into corners that may contain fascinating and surprising new connections. This audio series helps me keep going."
It will help you, as it and Danny continue to help me, keep going.