From Kicking & Screaming to Acceptance to Success with Dr. Justin Goldston

Justin Goldston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management at Penn State University. Dr. Goldston has over 20 years of experience working with organizations around the world, such as Intel, Siemens, and Blue Buffalo on business performance improvement, organizational change, and enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives.

Dr. Goldston is the author of multiple peer-reviewed journal articles on supply chain management and innovative technologies, of Critical Success Factors in ERP Implementations, and is a five-time TEDx speaker where he discussed emerging technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Goldston has also led and assisted in developing Supply Chain Management and Business Analytics programs at Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, North Carolina Wesleyan College, and has evaluated programs for the Department of Higher Education while serving on the Management Advisory Board at various higher education institutions.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Dr. Goldston addresses the importance of your “Reason Why”
  • The importance of having a mentor.
  • Knowing when to trust the system, and when to kick and scream
  • Investing in yourself and getting your ROI after graduation
  • Living the dream is about making choices and having options
  • Why LinkedIn is the most amazing website on the Internet
  • Make an impact and the money will follow
  • Having a stretch goal and thinking big

In this episode…

After decades of experience with supply-chain management in industry, Dr. Justin Goldston decided that he wanted in moved into academia to serve the next generation of leaders.

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Justin Goldston and Dr. Russell Strickland discuss “Reasons Why” and mentors. Having a sense of direction and guidance are equally important when courting success in any endeavor. Dr. Goldston recounts his experience in railing against systems and the wisdom of accepting those systems and working from within to achieve your goals. Their conversation takes a winding course through dreams, choices, impact, income, and more!

Dr. Goldston’s happy to share, happy to serve, and just plain happy! This episode will put a smile on your face.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro [00:00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host, astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach and more, Dr Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:00:29]

Hi, this is Dr. Russell Strickland, your host of an Unconventional Life podcast, and I have with me here today Dr. Justin Goldston. Dr. Goldston is an assistant professor of project and supply chain management at Penn State University. But he has decades of experience working with organizations such as Intel and Siemens and Blue Buffalo. He’s going to talk to us a whole lot about his unconventional path in both attaining his own doctoral degree and how he has used leverage his experience in business to help with his role in academia. So, Dr. Goldston, welcome. Thank you so much for being here today.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:01:08]

Thanks a lot for having me, Dr. Strickland


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:01:09]

You’re welcome. Just to let everybody know this episode is brought to you by dissertation done. So if you’re a dissertation student, you are or doctoral student and you’re about to start working on your dissertation, maybe you are in the middle of your dissertation. You might be struggling or so frustrated that you’re ready to pack it in and quit on the whole thing wherever you are in the process. Why don’t you reach out to us at and see if you might be a good candidate for Fast-Track Your Dissertation coaching program. We helped get students through the dissertation process a good year or two faster than their their peers in their cohort. And that’s something you’re interested in. Reach out to us and let us know. And if perhaps you’ve gotten past the dissertation at this point, you’re out there living your unconventional life and you want to build your authority platform, share your expertize with the world. Best way to do that is by not only having a first name doctor, but also being a published author will take you from the blank page to a published book in less time than you could imagine. And you can find out more at So that was the commercial. Dr. Goldston, again, welcome and thanks for joining me here today.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:02:13]

Yes, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:02:16]

So as as we were talking about briefly before we went on the air, you mentioned that you have been in an industry for a number of years and then decided to to pursue your doctoral degree and go in academia. Tell folks a little bit about your background and and what what motivated you to decide to pursue your doctoral degree?


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:02:37]

So I would say, like a lot of viewers, I have an unconventional path. Everyone has a story. I would say that I was I was completing my master’s degree at Penn State University and supply chain management, and we were working on a group project. And one of our first, we’re working on a project for our capstone course. And one of our first professors walks into the walk into our breakout room. And he said he said, you’re the supply chain consultant, right? I said, yeah. He said, What do you think about coming to my capstone course and and sharing your sharing your background and sharing the opportunities are out out in the field. Oh, absolutely. So so I went and spoke with that capstone course at Capstone Class and ask them a question. So I asked when I started guest lecturing, I always ask the question of, OK, where are you going to do with this degree, you know, at Penn State, all kinds of answers. I went and guest lecturer at Rutgers asked a question. All kinds of answers went to Morgan State University, which is a which is a historically black college university, also went to a historically black college and university kind of Norht Carolina A&T for my undergrad. So these students were two weeks away from graduating their Masters program and asked the same exact question, where are you going to do with this degree? Crickets. And it it it frustrated me and that. Personally, I come from HBCU. I was upset and frustrated, but also I felt like those students were underserved. I think that I think that teaching the curriculum is just one aspect of. Being a mentor is the most important aspect as an instructor, and that kind of that kind of led me in the past to say, OK, I’m going to share. I have been very successful in my career. I’ve had mentors throughout my entire career. And I’m going to I’m going to share my knowledge with them, with my goal is to share my knowledge with higher education. So so that began my path and some of my doctoral degree initially. Initially, I felt that I was just going to teach part time and still consult and still be within the consulting. So had to kind of do that 50/50 split, if you will. But as you as you progress. So for those within the doctoral program, as you progress, you’re going to grow.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:10]



Dr. Justin Goldston [00:05:11]

And and the teaching and the more people as that was adjunct throughout my throughout my doctorate program and whenever I was seeing those those individuals that was impacting, whenever they would reach out to me and say, Professor, you know, you reached out and connected with this person on LinkedIn. I just got offered a job. You know, that is. Ten times better than that salary that you get in consulting, right? So so that that kind of made made my transition into higher education, higher education full time. But I would say that unlike others within this higher education path, I still feel that I need to stay close within the industry because because in my industry and supply chain management and I focus on technology and sustainability and because technology changes almost weekly, I have to stay close to the industry to understand the developments. I have to stay close to the industry to understand what these hiring managers want from these undergraduate students, these graduate students and these doctoral students and research-based institutions. So so I think that I mean, that’s my path. I think that a lot of my peers kind of have that I had the same kind of had the same story. OK, but but I would say that as it pertains to my doctoral journey, I would say that I would say that your services and is what I did, what I was one of the ones that wanted to pack it up. That’s why I  smiled, you know, I wanted to pack it up more at one time. And and you know, that that mentor, that mentor is worth every single penny. And and you’re going to you’re going to have a cheerleader. You’re going to have someone to hold you accountable. And they are they are stakeholders in your success.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:07:02]



Dr. Justin Goldston [00:07:03]

So I would say for anyone listening would listen to this to this episode that, you know, reach out, reach out to to Dr. Strickland and work with him to be a mentor. I’m not plugging it. I’m just telling the truth.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:07:20]

Well, I appreciate that, Dr. Goldston. And certainly find a mentor. There are lots of ways that you can do that. We’re awesome. We’re we’re excellent what we do. But I’m not going to tell you that that I’m the only person that can help you. I’m not even going to tell you I can help you because it might not be a good fit. We always start off by talking with a student and making sure that we connect and resonate and what your goals are match with what I do. So but find find a mentor. It’s very important. A lot of a lot of doctoral students for some reason, they like to put on the Superman Cape and act like Hercules. And I’m Atlas holding the whole world up on his shoulders. So, I’m gonna mix a bunch of metaphors here. It’s it’s not like that. It’s when you get to this level, it’s about getting things done. It’s not about doing them. At some level, if you’re if you’re sweeping floors or digging ditches or something like that, you’ve got to be the one out there doing it. And that’s really difficult. Obviously, in the academic realm, when we’re students, you still have to do your dissertation. But it’s not about the work of doing it. It’s about getting it done so you can find someone that can help you shortcut the the very painful learning experience of not knowing what you’re doing and get to… I tell folks you don’t know what you’re doing, yet. And if you say I don’t know what I’m doing, that’s like despondent and not very not very optimistic. But if you say I don’t know what I’m doing yet, that’s a-whole-nother realm. Well, let’s get you from I don’t know what I’m doing to yet as soon as possible.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:08:56]

Absolutely, and I would I would also I would also add to that and and say in saying that, you know, I know that a number of the listeners of the listeners would be would be coming from different institutions. They have different different expectations, different different rubrics and things like that. But trust the system. I say, most importantly, trust the system because this isn’t  their first rodeo and looking back, and I say that now looking back on it, because I was I was that scared that doctors started kicking and screaming. I was I was probably the loudest one, kicking and screaming. But now that I look look back on it and in academia, in higher education, I will say that from someone who didn’t — trust the system.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:41]

Well, I might tend to argue with you just a little bit. I will say work with the system. I’m a little bit more renegade or distrustful because we’ve seen, you know, not every committee member is a is a perfect committee members. Yes. But so there are some times where the system doesn’t work perfectly. And you need and it’s good if you have somebody in your corner who knows, hey, this is a time when you need to just do what they’re telling you. And this is a time when you need to start talking to somebody about getting some intervention, some help, some support, because the system’s not working quite correctly. But I would agree with with what the spirit of what Dr. Goldston is saying, don’t fight the system. You know, you’re out there trying to convince them to give you a degree and you’re going to do that when you meet the with their approval. So try to get try to reach the point where they approve of the work that you’ve done as quickly as possible. And then if you want to go out and change the world, you don’t have to answer to anybody at that point. Your first name is Doctor. You’ve got a lot of doors that are that are open and available to you. And you can do things the way that you want.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:10:45]

Yes, I was about to say the exact same thing, and that’s essentially what I’m what I’m currently doing right now, where my dissertation was focused on was focused on critical success factors in in ERP systems, in small and medium enterprises and. I was going to do sustainability because those are my passions, supply chain sustainability and emerging technologies are my passions right now. But because I stayed in that, because I worked for so many years within that enterprise application industry, you can see you can see it as low hanging fruit, if you will. Right. That’s again, there is still a gap within that discipline, but a huge gap within that discipline, especially in small and medium enterprises. So so I would say that that was that was one of the critical factors for me getting out quickly.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:35]

Yeah. I like to tell students to make sure that you’re utilizing your assets connections and you can get data because of those connections. Use those connections.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:11:44]



Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:45]

If you’ve got an affinity for an industry, you know something about it. Be careful. Don’t tell your committee you know everything and they don’t know anything because again, you’re looking to get their approval. But but if you have an affinity for an industry, you should use it because that will help you. It is just giving you a little bit further down the path before the starting gun goes off, so to speak.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:12:05]

Right. Right. Absolutely.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:12:07]

So and I think you mentioned something earlier. I think it’s very important to you. You alluded to your reason why you went into the doctoral degree program, and that is is very important. Make sure that you have a reason why, when you know it, that you it’s it’s on your bulletin board, so to speak. You got a sticky note right there on the monitor. This is the reason why I’m doing it. Yes, but your reason why was to serve other people. And I find that that’s a very powerful thing that a lot of doctoral student share as well. So figure out who it is that you’re going to serve and how you’re going to serve them. And remember that every day that you spend as a doctoral student is another day that you’re not serving those people. Get through the process so that you can do what you’re called to do.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:12:52]

Yes. And I would say from a financial in one, I think one of my peers did was he he took our he took our our tuition and did the calculation and said, OK, every day that you’re continuing with this dissertation is costing you this much per day. And so instead of putting up my why, I put up how much I’m paying every single day.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:13:17]

It’s costing you seventy five dollars, are you worth it? Because it’s an investment. So it’s not a fair comparison. But if you think about how much you put into tuition and then you say, well, what do I how much do I spend on an entertainment budget each day. What you put into tuition is usually a whole lot higher than that. So so if you think that that being a doctoral student is fun, just to just remember that this is your entertainment for right now, you’re spending a whole lot more on your entertainment budget than you usually would allow them to the back in. It’s an investment. You get to start reaping the rewards, but there’s no reason to pay extra for that degree. It’s going to be worth the same when you’re when you graduate, regardless as to whether you spend a year or a year and a half or two or three working on your dissertation.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:14:03]

And I would always I mean, people say, oh, I know. I just I just I was I just received my master’s, you know, a couple years ago. And I’m not one to invest as much money. I say, look, I achieved my ROI in maybe four months from that might sound extreme, that may sound extreme, but it’s the truth I think does. And I would say that I would say that one of the reasons why how I did that was because I started with the so I knew what the end what the end goal was going to be when I was going to looking to defend and I started just pounding the pavement. I started reaching out to these institutions. I started getting all these, you know, reaching out and getting all these at all these adjunct roles. Because I knew that I knew that I’m making a transition and I started a program I was going to do it 50/50. But I would say maybe three years in. I say, OK this is it, you know, and that was always kind of a kind of a fair amount of the unknown, unknown, not being comfortable in the industry with a very good salary for a number of years. And one of my mentors said, Justin, higher education don’t pay like consulting. But, you know, let’s just be real. But but but, you know, I had that I had that idea mind and. I think I’m done, I decided I’m doing a bit better, but you know me,


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:28]

So how did you mention that ROI. how did it come about so quickly? Like you have a story about that.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:15:34]

So. So. I would say and I would I will also say I’m very transparent in that I probably applied to about one hundred and twenty institutions before someone gave me a chance.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:46]



Dr. Justin Goldston [00:15:46]

Right. Because if you’re and I would say and I would say that supply chain is very specialized as compared to business management or leadership and things like that. But this morning, so the Jack Welch Management Institute gave me a chance and and I showed up. I showed my value to to to that institution. And then the second institution came in and then the third institution came in. But within that institution, I created a supply chain program, for North Carolina Wesleyan College. And and once once that once that book began to essentially I would not spread. But once once that. That awareness, I will say, came out on platforms like LinkedIn, on our articles, on the Internet and things like that, when these institutions are looking to revamp their supply chain courses or looking for supply chain professors, those roles came rolling in. But I know I know that a number of adjunct roles could not pay the bills and could not pay the bill. Could not be, I would say, can not be sustainable. I would say I can pay the bills. But I mean, you can be essentially killing yourself, working for seven different institutions. Right. So right.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:06]

So I had that full time adjunct and I did that for a while before I started Dissertation Done. And it is it’s tough. It’s got a lot of flexibility, but there’s so many responsibilities that it does cut into the flexibility side of things.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:17:22]

Yes. So, I mean, I knew that I knew that the ultimate goal was to was to get a full time role in higher education. And I was blessed to get a full time role within within higher education. And, you know, I’m living that I’m living the dream right now. I mean, I always say that whenever whenever I was in my second year, I always reflect and say, OK, so now you want to make now you’re thinking about making that transition to higher education. What’s going to be your dream job? Right. It’s like Penn State. I mean, they’re a top tier on top Supply-Chain programs in the world. Right. Fast forward, you know.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:58]

And I tell you, there’s two things about that, Number one is you have a goal and you’re strategic about it.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:18:03]



Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:03]

It tends to be achievable. And number two, someone can say what’s crazy? Dr. Goldston doing teaching when he could be out there making a bunch of money. That’s what you want to do, right. And having that operation not work, make decisions as to what you want to do is the important part. So people who are listening who are say, I would make that decision, that’s fine. You can make that decision where you have those options and you can decide that’s when you’re living your dream, like you said.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:18:31]

Yeah, yeah. And like I say, it’s not it’s not it’s not work. I love I love research and I like it. I love finding things. I love researching new things. Now, whenever I whenever I research and I would say my teaching approaches is completely the I would say new school. There’s the higher education I would think pretty well. Huh. Excuse me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:53]

What is the new school then?


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:18:54]

I would say I would say I kind of go I kind of go away from the traditional power points and things like that. So within my core, I kind of actually because.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:19:04]

So you’re real school when you talk about traditional power points. My mind was traditional blackboard. Not log in blackboard, but like dust on the blackboard, blackboard. You’re the real new school.


Dr. Justin Goldston [00:19:21]

But but and so Penn State is is amazing in that you have you have that that that academic freedom where, you know, and I just I ran and I ran a test where I throw up, I throw up the week we learned objectives, you know, and I apply apply what’s going on in the world. I mean, I’m we’re in a perfect situation right now because the pandemic has has increased the supply chain management. So I have so to talk about every single day. But, you know, I can pull up the learning objectives and I can I can literally say, OK, this happened this happened last week.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:19:58]



Dr. Justin Goldston [00:19:59]

Let’s talk about it. And we’re talking about four hour, 15 hour, 20 minutes. And they’re able to apply it. They’re able to remember it because because because they can tie it to exactly what’s happening. And and we talk about, you know, we talk about project management. We talk about digital transformations. Who’s better to talk about digital transformations and Tesla? They love it.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.