This is a short excerpt of the full interview that I came across over at the NY Times corner office page.  I loved the spirit of Jay Walker's answers...

Jay Walker on Why Leaders Don’t Always Make Good Managers

Let’s say I came to work for you. What should I know about what you’re like as a boss?

You don’t work for me. You work for you.

I would correct you right out of the box. My style is not to perpetuate a false illusion that you work for me. You work for you. You get up every day and you come in here because you want to be here. We’re not having a discussion about who’s in charge. If you have a better idea, great. Let’s hear it.

I wouldn’t try to encapsulate a set of rules and regulations to say here’s how I do things. But I will tell you that I’m highly collaborative and interested in the best thinking. If you can express yourself well, that’s good. If you can’t, that’s a big problem.

My style would be to say: What are you trying to accomplish? How are you going to do that? How can I help you? You might say: “Jay, what I need to succeed is for you to never talk to me. Just send me emails. And I’ll deliver in spades what you want.” Then I’ll say, “O.K., let’s see if that works.”

Like any entrepreneur, I’m highly adaptable. You work with what you’ve got, not with what you want. And what you’ve got is often an incomplete set of facts, an insufficient amount of capital, an insufficient amount of knowledge about the key things you need and insufficient people to do that job. Other than that, welcome to the job.

How do you hire?

If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

I’m looking for the things you would expect — people who are thoughtful, passionate, adaptable and who have failed, preferably two or three times. If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

What is your single best interview question?

there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar

Tell me how you’re going to make a great deal of impact on our organization, and how you’re going to make us both a lot of money. In a small firm, there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar, because everybody else has to pull that oar.

What career and life advice do you give to new college grads?

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

The No. 1 thing that young folks often misunderstand is that they use money as a scoring system for the desirability of the job, which is understandable when you graduate with $200,000 in college loans.

But the fact is that you’re going to do much better financially if you find a job where you love what you’re doing, even if you have to create the job yourself.

The second thing I tell them is you need to start learning. They haven’t learned anything. Most new graduates think they’re ready for their career, and they’re not. They need to start with a clean sheet of paper. You need to start reading more, not less.

You’ve got all this stuff to learn, and by the way, you’ve got to learn it in a dozen fields, not just the one you’re working in, because it’s all about cross-pollination. It’s all about taking good ideas in other areas and bringing it into your area.

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

Other Good NYT Corner Office Interviews

Each week, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about leadership. Follow him on

http://www.twitter.com/nytcorneroffice

 

Here’s a simple idea:

Plan a life you would like to have.

If you love your life now, stick to what is working. If you don’t love your life right now, change something.

Use your Imagination first

Are you aiming at the right thing (or at any thing)?

Start by describing in detail the life you would like to have. How is your health? How is your social life? How are your relationships with family, friends, mentors, colleagues? How are you contributing to the universe? How much are you earning? How are you finding meaning for your life?

I’m not everything I could be and I know it. There is a better way that I could be and act in this world.  I can imagine a better way.  It is best to be inspired by living in your imagination for a while before you decide to give the next 20 to 30 years of your life to pursuing the goals.

Nobody reaches the top of Everest by surprise

Nobody who climbs Everest reaches the summit by accident. It has been a plan in their life for years. They have worked on their fitness, their skills, their finances for years to reach this moment on the summit of the mountain.

It takes disciplined effort to succeed in life. It is hard to find the motivation to maintain disciplined effort (especially when I have netflix, facebook, twitter, newspapers etc to compete for my attention).

Where can I find the motivation to maintain this disciplined effort?

Write your goals down.

That is it.

If you are not excited by these written goals, then they are not your goals. You have written them down in the hope that someone else might be impressed by your goals. There are not your goals and you are a moron to try to live your life in the hope that someone else pays attention and is impressed by what you say you would like to achieve. You will fail.

If you are happy to show your goals to everyone on the internet, they are not your goals. They are written to impress.

If you are embarrassed about your goals, but deeply excited by the tiniest idea that you could actually achieve them – now we are moving towards goals that come from inside of you.

How to begin Writing down your Goals

Who is it that I want to be in 3 years? If you can define this and you really want to be this person, then you are going to find quite a bit of the motivation to maintain disciplined effort.

If you keep your objectives all vague and foggy you can guarantee not to fail in a specific way. A lot of people do not write down specific future goals in a clear way because they are scared of having to actually do the work or face the possibility of clearly failing.

If a game is not fun, do you keep playing?  Are your goals and the process by which you pursue these goals fun?  If yes, keep playing.  If no, change the goals or change the process…  but write down the aims and the rules by which you decide to play.

Start with the Small Things

Start with little things that you can fix.

If your desk isn’t tidy and it is slightly irritating, tidy your desk.  If your computer is dirty and the screen is covered in guck, clean it.  If the room that you are in is a mess, throw out the rubbish.  These little things constitute 50% of your life.  The objects and rooms you interact with every day are important.  Get the rubbish out of the way.

Tell your head: “I’m going to make this place better for 5 minutes”.  Go.

Continue with this line of ideas with Meaningful Contribution or Start with the End in Mind or What do you want? 

PS Thanks for sticking with my rant today…  it was a reflection for myself after spending a day spinning my wheels and avoiding difficult tasks 😉

LinkedIn is testing out a new free service for members that will match them with other professionals who can give them career advice. LinkedIn will help to make matches between mentees and mentors via its online platform.

Mentorship is a significant part of the careers of every successful person that I know. I personally have sought out and found mentors since my early 20s working in Accenture.  I used to think this was normal, but I discovered over the last decade that many talented friends have never found a formal mentor relationship.

I have run the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Mentorship Program in Barcelona for the last 3 years and have learnt a lot as we have got 15 mentor-mentee pairs connected and working together to achieve specific goals.  Personally I have have benefitted from some wonderful mentors throughout my life – in particular Michael (my first long-term manager at Accenture), Brian (the reason I teach at IESE Business School), Harry (helped me take a big decision last year).  I personally mentor 5 people each year and it is hugely valuable for me to reflect on my own life as I listen to the challenges and opportunities of these inspiring individuals.

How will Mentorship work on LinkedIn?

Hari Srinivasan, director of product management at LinkedIn, says, “As people spend less and less time at a company, it’s hard to find people you need to talk to.”  LinkedIn user analysis shows that 89% of senior leaders (on LinkedIn) would be interested in giving advice.

This is how it works: There will be a section on your profile called “dashboard”. This will display the “career advice hub” where you can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee.

The first screen is a basic overview of the function and its value for both those giving and getting advice. From there, you are instructed to provide specifics on who you’d like to talk to with parameters such as region, industry, school, etc.

LinkedIn’s matching algorithm will immediately send recommendations for matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, they can start talking.  Read more about LinkedIn’s plans for mentorship on Fast Company.

Two of the reasons mentorships fail are…

  1. the mentee isn’t able to articulate what they need or
  2. asks too much of a mentor.

Check out my blog post: “How to be a Good Mentor

LinkedIn is working on ways to make the conversation flow more smoothly so both sides get what they need.  LinkedIn say that it’s not meant to be a replacement for long-term mentorship. It’s meant to tackle those “quick question” requests such as whether you are taking the right approach in different scenarios.

Do you have a mentor?  Are you searching for a mentor?  Are you interested in becoming a mentor?  

“The people in the market for boring are spoiled for choice” Rich Mulholland

“All the good shit is reserved for those who put their hands up.” Rich Mulholland

All the good stuff is just beyond the rejection, the looking like a fool, the bad first impression, the being laughed at…  if you censor yourself, you close off access to the good stuff.

Here’s Rich Mulholland’s Passion Direct via Video…

I am a fan of Rich Mulholland. He shares passion, some f**-bombs and some great personal stories as he tells you to take the risk that you know you need to take but are waiting for a better moment. The lesson: that moment will never come.

Let’s celebrate fall-forward risks, let’s celebrate epic fails and people who test the limits. A little bit of self-delusion and self-belief might just lead you to create your dream.

Keep Up with Rich

You should follow Rich on his YouTube Channel the Get Rich Quick show.

Here’s a video of me hanging out with Rich at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference:

Sometimes we paddle frantically and make no progress, other times we make little effort to accelerate and see great advances in our life. What if we spent more time seeing the flow of our life, and not so much time in frantic paddling.

Mastermind groups such as Vistage, EO or YPO are powerful in helping you see more strategically.

I had the pleasure of attending TEDxIESEBarcelona a couple of months ago. My good friend and fellow EO member Raul Aguirre gave a passionate talk on a special secret that has led to his success.

The hidden secret that led to Raul’s success

This talk reveals new insight about the real reasons of success of famous and not-so-famous people – and how to apply these principles to be much more successful – and happier – in any field.

Raul Aguirre

Raul is the Founder and first CEO of Tango/04 Computing Group, Inc. He does wonderful drawings and has a cool instagram account @osplo. He Graduated in Computer Science (University of Buenos Aires), EO/MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Entrepreneurship Master Program, and the Superior Institute of MorphoPsychology (ISM, Barcelona). Designer of award-winning technologies (such as the APEX Award of Penton Media for VMC, USA, 2004) and products sold in more than 50 countries.

TEDxIESE Barcelona

Check out the full playlist of speeches from the first 2 editions of TEDxIESEBarcelona:

 

Why are Experts so often poor Communicators?

Here is why…  If you are reading this via email, check out the video on the blog: Why are Experts so often poor Communicators?

This is a video about Experts and Fakes, Charlatans and Gurus. I share a 2×2 matrix looking at the 4 types of skill/communication ability.

I also discuss the idea of “craftsmanship” – where one person does all of the parts of a job from idea to execution and the special type of innovation that can come when one single individual understand how all the elements of the work flow together.

There are 2 types of teachers

  • a) the teacher who is great at teaching beginners,
  • b) the teacher who is a guide for advanced students and experts. A great “beginner teacher” is often not a great “advanced teacher”.

Check out Rich Mulholland’s video about “craftsmanship”:

Lots of people are searching for short cuts.

If you are going through something just to get the diploma, then by all means take short cuts. You don’t really care about the journey.

If you are determined to grow a life that becomes more and more fulfilling and you have a sense of growth and contribution – pick an important problem and don’t take any short cuts.

Maybe, we should pick something we really care about and take the long cut. We choose to make the full journey with no short cuts, no skipping sections, no jumping ahead.  (The term “long cut” comes from Seth Godin.  Here is Seth Godin’s interview on the Tim Ferriss’ podcast.)

Don’t spend your whole life picking some thing you don’t really want and then take short cuts to get it finished and get the piece of paper or diploma.

At least once, pick something you really care about and commit to the full journey taking in all the steps, all the hills, all the stops.

Where are you taking the long cut?

One anecdote does not make a proof.

The danger: humans are more easily persuaded by 1 clear and concrete anecdote than by big data and expert statistical analysis.

“My friend’s brother bought a house in downtown Barcelona 2 years ago and is now selling it at twice the price!”

This statement has far more impact on me as a human than: “the real estate market in Barcelona metropolitan area has an undersupply of mid-range housing and this scarcity will result in an acceleration of asset prices”

An anecdote is a one off. It is not data. It is not science. It is dangerous.

In statistics this is called a Type I error.  In slang: “a false positive”.  More simply stated, a type I error is detecting an effect that is not present, while a type II error is failing to detect an effect that is present (Wikipedia on Type I and Type II errors)

Success Literature and Type I Errors

I just read a blog post that reported lessons from the lives of 13 billionaires. It reported that each billionaire had built their empire based on a product that they had wanted as a consumer.

I suspect if you interview 2,000 failed and bankrupt entrepreneurs, the majority would also say that they had build their companies around a product that they had wanted as a consumer.

So often, success is luck and failure is luck. However, those that succeed sell their story as a systematic managed process of step by step success, and those that fail sell their story as a perfectly executed plan blown to bits by a black swan event (I tell people I failed because of the failure of Lehman brothers and the collapse of the financial markets during 2008-2010).

I suspect that the recipe of success is “try something, if it works, do it again… if it doesn’t work, try something else… and keep going until you succeed” The determination to succeed combined with the commitment to really learn from each setback is the root of all success. Luck will adjust whether the success comes at age 25, 25 or 75.

Be careful of anecdotes. One man’s good deal is not a sustainable marketplace.

Success doesn’t come overnight, but neither does failure.

pablo (15)

We plant seeds every day, seeds of success and seeds of failure. Some seeds take years to grow – lack of exercise doesn’t grow into the tree of ill health for many decades; €100 saved per month doesn’t grow into € millions for many decades.

Today a court case finished. It relates to a business I ran years ago. I signed a loan guarantee that I should not have signed… but in the boom years of 2007-2008 it felt rude to say no to this clause in the contract… a bad decision. I had a sense that it was wrong when I was signing the deal back in 2007. Now I feel the fruits of that poorly judged seed of failure. I hope there is only one piece of fruit from that poor seed.

Most seeds require good soil and cultivation to grow. Both seeds of failure and seeds of success don’t grow without our help.

Most of the successes that I enjoy this year are the fruits of seeds that were planted years ago. People that I met years ago and have kept in contact for years, and now they ask me to come and work with their company.

The Most Important Seeds: People We Meet

I think the most important seeds of success are the people we meet. One person can change our whole life.  This idea struck me today when I read Michael’s blog post: Creating the Perfect Elevator Pitch.  His exact words:

"The beauty of life is that one conversation can change your world.  One “yes” can make all the difference.  One conversation, one introduction, one chance encounter is sometimes all it takes.  Life can turn on a dime, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there and be ready for those conversations for this change to occur." Read More...

Dwight Eisenhower was very close to formal discharge from the military when he met and impressed General George C. Marshall. That one meeting transformed his whole life. Instead of piece-work in a factory, he went on to be Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and then a 2 term US President.  (Read the Eisenhower story here).

I wonder whether we can know who we will meet today that could have this big transformational impact on our future life? Can we know? It could be a young student in one of my MBA programs. It could be anyone. I suspect the more that I think I can identify who it will be, the more wrong I will become.

So, I guess the answer is to be open to each person that I meet today. To see them not for who they are today, but to know that in each person lies such enormous potential should they choose to apply themselves.

Who have you met today?  Who did you listen to today?