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Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for episode #153 with Mark Herschberg[i], the author of The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.

Watch this interview on YouTube here.

Learn more about Mark Herschberg and his Career Toolkit Book here

See past episodes here

I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and the workplace with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Our guest for this week, Mark Herschberg, who has spent his career identifying and studying the skill gap that exists for what he calls firm skills, including networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, and career planning. We tend to think of many of these as situational skills, but Herschberg says they are really life skills — none of which are formally taught in school. We have been talking about these skills since the launch of this podcast 2 years ago. We call them social and emotional skills as they are known in our schools emotional intelligence skills in the workplace.

I’m extremely interested in speaking to Mark about the gaps that he sees with these skills since a recent survey that I saw and mention often showed that 58% of employers say college graduates aren’t adequately prepared for today’s workforce, and those employers noted a particular gap in social and emotional skills. Students who learn to master these important skills will get ahead faster with less effort and frustration than those who lack these skills.

We have spoken a lot about the social and interpersonal skills, emotional and cognitive skills where there is a clear gap on this podcast. These skills do translate into the workplace to help students prepare for life after high school, into college, career and beyond.

Just to recap, there are five distinct components of Emotional Intelligence that are important in the workplace:

    1. Self-awareness: This is important in the workplace because you need to know yourself first before you can help others with your product or service.

Self-regulation: There will be many times in the day where you will be tested and to be able to manage your emotions under pressure is very important.

Internal (or intrinsic) motivation: What is motivating you to get up and serve each day?

Empathy: is an important skill to have to connect with others. You must be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Social skills: are important from ordering your lunch in a restaurant, to picking up your rental car and dealing with the front desk employees in the hotel you are staying at.

If students do not learn these skills at an early age, they will struggle with their life and future career. Whatever model or SEL competency a school uses, whether it’s the Casel 5 competencies[ii] that we have modelled our work after, or something similar that Renee Adams explained in EPISODE #151[iii] with the Goleman Emotional Intelligence Training Model, the idea is that we prepare our next generation of students to thrive in this ever-changing world and that we as adults are modelling these skills.

Before we meet Mark, I want to share a bit more about the work he has been doing the past few decades, as there is always so much more to someone than meets the eye with the books they write, or their career path.

Mark is the author of The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You. Educated at MIT, Mark has spent his career launching and fixing new ventures at startups, Fortune 500s, and academia. He’s developed new software languages, online marketplaces, new authentication systems, and tracked criminals and terrorists on the dark web. I must ask him something about what he learned here, since my husband spends a lot of his spare time with his volunteer work with our local Sheriff’s Posse. Mark helped create the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, MIT’s “Career Success Accelerator”, where he’s taught for twenty years.

Let’s meet Mark Herschberg!

Welcome Mark, I was so grateful that Howard Rankin introduced us after he interviewed you on his podcast. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about what you have been focused on for the past few decades, that really is what my podcast has been centered around. Welcome!

Intro Question: Mark, as much as I want to go straight to asking you questions about The Career Toolkit, I can’t ignore one part of your BIO, especially as my husband spends so much of his time working in law enforcement with the volunteer work he does with AZ’s Maricopa Sheriff’s Posse Program. What did you learn from tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web that you have applied to helping people with their career? Maybe how to stay busy and away from criminal activity?

Q1: We launched this podcast with the goal of helping educators to understand and implement social and emotional learning skills in our schools, with a focus on emotional intelligence skills for those in the workplace and I have been quoting a study that said 58% of employers say college graduates aren’t adequately prepared for today’s workforce, and those employers noted a particular gap in social and emotional skills and that “3 out of 4 employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need.”[iv] What did you hear when you were at MIT[v] about these “missing skills” across the US and Internationally that inspired you to write The Career Toolkit Book?

Q2: As I am researching the top soft skills that are missing in the corporate world, (since I do get asked this all the time—why are the SEL skills that are being taught in our schools not transferring to our corporate space). I did see a PDF that released mentioning the Top 3 soft skills that are lacking are problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity (which I would agree to be lacking everywhere I have ever worked which is why I left the corporate world, tired of having a vision that no one else could see), the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity (since the brain doesn’t like incompleteness or conflict)[vi] and communication. After 20 years of working directly with these missing skills, how would you list them, what other skills are missing, and let’s even pinpoint this down more, what would you say people are missing with something as important as Networking that will not set them up for the life-long ability to ask someone for help with whatever it is they might need, 3, 5 or 10 years down the line? I ask this with the vision to continue to produce content that reinforces the needed skills in the K-12 school market.

Image Source: The Global Skills Shortage PDF[vii]

Q3: As I was reading through your website, I saw an incredible number of FREE resources[viii] that I think are valuable and important for anyone to download in addition to The Career Toolkit Book. When I’m looking through social media these days, I can’t escape posts that are focused on “Finding Your Purpose” or even thinking about Simon Sinek’s Start With Why[ix] because this really should be the starting place when thinking about our Career Path (pick a career with meaning so you don’t mind waking up every day and spending all day working in this field. It might seem like going back to the basics, but as you say, this isn’t taught anywhere, and no one wants to wake up one day and realize they are on the wrong path with their career, and if they do, they need to pivot.  For companies who have bought your book to improve their team’s personal and professional effectiveness, what are some examples or case studies of those who have had outstanding results? Have you ever heard of people studying your work and it wakes them up to switching to an entirely new career?

Q4: Everyone loves the “Cliff Notes” version of a book to simplify the ideas you teach. I saw you have a SYNOPSIS[x] page on your website that takes someone through the 3 sections of the book (Career, Leadership and Management, and Interpersonal Dynamics) after some important chapters—Career Plan, Working Effectively and Interviewing. I have so many questions that would dig deep into each area but wanted to ask you to drill down more on Interviewing Skills, since anyone in a management position must interview candidates to fill their empty slots, but it can be extremely difficulty finding the right candidate. What are some tips/strategies that you think are crucial for a “trained” interviewer to consider when looking for their ideal candidate, so they avoid that dreaded experience of getting to the end of the hiring process and they must start over again because they weren’t able to identify the right candidate?

Q4B: What services do you offer?

Q5: I love The Career Toolkit App[xi] because it’s always fun to have tips and ideas on your phone, to put the new strategies we are working on at the forefront of our mind.  I downloaded the app and wonder what do you want users to think about, learn and take away from using this app?

5B: Can you explain the 3 parts of the book? (Career, Leadership and Management, and Interpersonal Dynamics)

Q6: Something that has come up a few times on the podcast as I’m talking to people about the post-pandemic workplace, many companies have gone through some sort of change (either in management) or even a whole new restructuring. During times of change, what would you suggest people focus on to keep moving forward, rather than get stuck in resistance of thinking they liked the old way better, or their old manager did things this way?

Q7: I know that you see how we’ve arrived at this place where these skills were missing in the corporate place, since they have not been important in our schools in the past, but they are gaining importance and making their way into the Corporate World. What would you say would be a model Corporate Workplace, using the skills and strategies in your book, and preparing the next generation of employees for a successful future career?

Q8: Is there anything important that I have missed?

Thank you very much Mark for your time today, to share these important resources with listeners.  I will put the links to connect with you in the show notes, but other than buying the book, what other programs and training do you offer?

Thank you!

Social Media and Follow Mark                                     @CareerToolkitBk              @TheCareerToolkitBook                       @thecareertoolkit


Career Toolkit App

Paul Ekman’s Work Inspired a TV Series

Deborah Tannen Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work




[iii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #151 with Renee Adams on “Developing Emotional Intelligence Skills Early to Guarantee Future Success”

[iv] Employers Say Students Aren’t Learning Soft Skills in College by Dana Wilkie October 21, 2019


[vi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #44 12 Mind-Boggling Discoveries About the Brain

[vii] The Global Skills Shortage: Bridging the Talent Gap with Education, Training and Sourcing  PDF by


[ix] Simon Sinek “Start With Why”