Home Feature Montclair State Professor Dr. Rob Gilbert Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of ‘Success Hotline’

Montclair State Professor Dr. Rob Gilbert Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of ‘Success Hotline’

by Samantha Bailey

From Australia to Canada and back to the United States, we are all looking for ways to become more successful.

Dr. Rob Gilbert, an associate professor of sports psychology who has worked at Montclair State University since 1979, has been inspiring people from these locations, and beyond, through the creation of his ‘success hotline’ for the last 30 years.

Gilbert started his success hotline on Jan. 22, 1992. Then, Gilbert only taught graduate-level classes that met once a week. Looking for a way to connect more with his students outside the class, he started the hotline originally as a place his sports students could call and receive the “100 secrets of sports” throughout the semester.

“How can I meet with my students every single day for a whole semester if I only see them once a week?” Gilbert said. “I [came up with] the idea of putting messages on an outgoing phone [of a] phone-answering machine.”

The hotline was only supposed to run for the entirety of the semester, but Gilbert was surprised by just how many people were calling.

“I started doing it just for my students,” Gilbert said. “And then, much to my amazement, people from all over the country started calling it. Somebody told somebody [else], [and] by the end of the semester, I had so many people calling. I decided never to stop. So, I’ve been doing it ever since.”

For the last 30 years, Gilbert has recorded a motivational message for his thousands of callers to listen to. Some days it may be a story and other days it may just consist of general advice.

How does someone come up with 30 years’ worth of success tips? Gilbert attributes his time in college to helping him find ideas.

Gilbert graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began his technique of being able to find unique ideas worth talking about. He was trying to find ideas for a graduate project regarding cardiovascular disease and decided to carry a blank manila folder everywhere he went, in case he got an idea and needed to jot it down.

“I realized something, and it’s almost like a law,” Gilbert said. “Nature hates a vacuum. So, if I gave you an empty birdcage, somebody [else] would give you a bird because [they know] it’s not complete.”

Just like that birdcage and manila folder, Gilbert now had an answering machine he needed to find ideas to fill. He soon realized once you open yourself to new ideas, they never stop coming.

“See, it’s called selective attention,” Gilbert said. “Once you have this, you’re attentive to the three-minute opening, [and] things will happen to fill up the space. It happens every single day.”

While Gilbert admits not every message is unique in sentiment, he has never repeated the same message twice. Two long-time callers, Thomas Boud and Rich Kennedy can attest to this.

Boud is a Montclair State alumnus who graduated in 1999 with a master’s degree in French, although he didn’t start calling the hotline until 2005. Since first calling, Boud has had many pieces of wisdom bestowed upon him that he’s been able to apply to his life.

A frequent caller of the success hotline and Montclair State alumna Thomas Boud at his 1988 graduation ceremony at the then, Panzer Field. Photo courtesy of Thomas Boud

Thomas Boud, a frequent caller of the success hotline and a Montclair State alumnus, at his 1988 graduation ceremony at the then, Panzer Field.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Boud

“By far, the No. 1 piece of advice Gilbert [has given] is [that] ‘a setback is a setup for a comeback,'” Boud said. “I found that proverb instrumental in surmounting any disappointment and also building up my resilience in problem-solving.”

Kennedy, who graduated from Montclair State in 1989, also uses a lot of Gilbert’s personal and professional advice.

“[My favorite is]: ‘If you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you’ll be amongst the stars.'” Kennedy said.

Both men agree that calling the hotline every day is something students should make a habit of.

“At most, the cost [is] three minutes long,” Kennedy said. “And, it’s a little motivational tip. So, listening to it every day has a lot of benefits versus just listening to it here and there.”

Boud also agreed that Gilbert’s advice makes a vast difference in helping one reach their goals.

“I know many university students are coping with classes, exams, financial and personal issues,” Boud said. “I know Gilbert’s hotline and his advice will help them conquer any difficulties, and even more importantly, help them get to the next level in achieving their dreams.”

And Gilbert doesn’t just leave messages for his listeners. He also allows them to leave him messages, too. He’s received messages from all over the world, and if you leave him a call-back number, sometimes he’ll return your call with even more advice.

“I’ve gotten some messages with people crying,” Gilbert said. “[I’ve gotten] some of the scary messages, [too], [like] people who are suicidal. But if people want me to respond, I respond.”

Gilbert leaves Montclair State students with one piece of advice.

“There’s no difficult college, no difficult course, no difficult major [and] no difficult professors,” Gilbert said. “College is not difficult. It’s time-consuming. [If] you’re willing to put in the time, you do not just succeed, you can excel. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Excellence isn’t an expected effort. Excellence is extra effort.'”

To hear more of Gilbert’s motivational stories and advice on success, make calling his success hotline at 973-743-4690, part of your routine. Sometimes all you need as a key to success is a phone call.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann