If You Want To Be SUCCESSFUL In Life, Master This ONE SKILL! | Simon Sinek | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "If You Want To Be SUCCESSFUL In Life, Master This ONE SKILL! | Simon Sinek".


Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Intro (00:00)

To me, this is a world is flat moment that the people who've learned to game the system, that this discomfort that we feel, we actually are right. Like, they actually don't understand the game they're in. Business is an infinite game, and when you play with a finite mindset, lots of people suffer, including the companies that they themselves are trying to build. That's the great irony. The great irony is the way you build great companies is with an infinite mindset. The way you build great companies is by prioritizing people before profit. The way you build great companies is will before resources. Both things important, but there has to be this general leaning. Where we can feel, when we come to work and feel, like we're part of something bigger than ourselves, where we feel that our work and our effort is worth more than simply the money we make. - Hey everyone, welcome to Impact Theory. Today's guest is a multiple time best-selling author with one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time. His talk, which popularized the notion of starting with why has been viewed roughly 45 million times and translated into 48 languages.

Understanding Simon Sinek'S Infinite Game Approach

Sivans Method Story (01:17)

The speech he gave on millennials the first time I interviewed him broke the internet, garnering well over 300 million views and making him YouTube's fifth most search term of the entirety of 2017. His unconventional views have made him one of the most sought after speakers on the planet and have seen him invited to meet with the leaders of some of today's most important businesses and institutions, including Disney, American Airlines, Microsoft, the United Nations, the United States Congress and multiple branches of the US military. He is a self-described, unshakable optimist who has dedicated his life to bringing to fruition a world where people feel fulfilled by their work. He is truly helping to shape the minds of the next generation of leaders. He is also helping to shape public discourse through continued contributions to such prestigious media outlets as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, MSNBC and countless others. So please help me in welcoming the man who has been described as a visionary thinker with a rare intellect. The author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last and now The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek. - Good to see you too, man.

Intro Simon Sinek Infinite Game (02:38)

So the new book, dude, it is wicked. It's really been interesting to see you call your Babe Roost Shot, say that you want to start a movement and now be insanely consistent with the bricks that you would have to lay to actually get a massive people on board with a movement. It was pretty exciting to read.

Brick laying to start a movement (02:56)

- Thank you. - Really interested in knowing how much your ideas are like mind viruses, they get inside people's heads and really do echo through culture, dude, in a pretty cool way. - That's very nice to say. - It'll be interesting to see what happens with this one 'cause I think you're right on the money about something incredibly powerful. Define for us an infinite game. - So in the mid 1980s, a theologian named James Carsey wrote this little book called "Finite and Infinite Games" in which he defines these two kinds of games, finite games which have known players, fixed rules and agreed upon objectives, football, right? There's always a beginning, a middle and an end. And the objective is to win the game. And then there's infinite games. Infinite games are defined as known and unknown players. You don't necessarily know who all the other players are. The rules are changeable. You can play however you want. And the objective is to perpetuate the game to stay in the game as long as possible. What I find so fascinating about this idea when I first learned about it is we are players in multiple infinite games every day of our lives. There's no such thing as being the winner in your marriage. There's no such thing as winning global politics. And there's definitely no such thing as winning business. Business is an infinite game. And yet when we listen to the language of too many leaders, they talk about being number one, being the best and beating their competition. Based on what? There's no agreed upon objectives. There's no agreed upon timeframes. And so what ends up happening is you have people building organizations and leading with a finite mindset playing to win in a game where there's no such thing as winning. And when we play with a finite mindset in an infinite game, there's a few very predictable and consistent outcomes amongst which include the decline of trust, the decline of cooperation, the decline of innovation, all of which contribute to the eventual demise of the organization itself. And so what I wrote about is what it means to lead with an infinite mindset. Because we teach leadership as if it were a finite game. People start business with the goal of winning or being number one, and that's a problem because that's impossible. So what I wrote about in the infinite game is leading with an infinite mindset. - So talk to me about why revenue is a mistake.

Addressing a companies presiding financial goals (05:21)

Because as a business leader, when you walk in, that actually seems like an agreed upon metric. Certainly if you're playing to Wall Street, understanding your price per share, like what that means, the value that you're adding to shareholders. I think most people at that level of business would say, what do you mean? We all know what the score board is. - There's nothing wrong with revenues. There are two currencies in the infinite game, will and resources. Resources is money, you need money to stay in the game, but you need the will of the people as well. And the problem is that when we organize to win, that means the score is more important than the inspiration and motivation than people have to give their blood, sweat and tears. And when we prioritize resources before will, that's a problem. I've never met a CEO that doesn't believe that their people are important. The problem is where on the priority list, you know, been to any number of presentations where they put their priorities on the wall, you know, number one growth, number two shareholder value, number three our customer, number four, our employees, there it is. See, I do care about our people. And the reality is as social animals, we wanna work for and we're willing to give our blood, sweat and tears to leaders who understand the balance of those two essential currencies, the balance of those two things is will has to come before resources. And that doesn't mean 90, 10. When I talk about putting people before profit, you know, people freak out, which is ridiculous. You need fuel for the car to go. Money is fuel for the organization, of course. Even if there's a leaning, if it's 51, 49, there has to be a slight leaning towards people because there will always be decisions that a company has to make in which those two cannot both be supplied and one will have to be sacrificed. The question is which will you always prioritize? Let me give you a hypothetical example to make my point. Two CEOs, the first CEO says, our number one priority is growth. And of course our people are important because if we take care of our people, we will meet and exceed our financial goals. Second CEO says, our number one priority is our people. And if we take care of our people, we will always meet and exceed our financial goals. Which one would you rather work for? - I don't want to provide it. - I mean, it's obvious, right? It's obvious. So this is what it means to prioritize will over resources. It has, of course, of course, money matters, but the people matter more. - Yeah, that's, it's one of those things when you get into business that probably intellectually feels obvious if you said that to people, they'd be like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that. But I think that it plays out so often the way that you explained it the first time. Like we want growth, yeah, of course, like take care of the people, it's really going to feel the growth, all that. And it's speaking from experience. It is very easy to slide into that mentality. And it is insanely difficult to execute at the level of, no, no, no, my people really do come first. They're going to come first in not just what I say. They're going to come first in policies that we write. They're going to come first in the actions that we do. And one thing that I really liked about the book is you're intimating and at times just flat out saying, it's also the best way to run a business if secretly what you really want are the profits. Why is that true? - The best way to run a business when you see it when you want the profits? - No, it's the opposite. - Do you think that's true? Because I have actually seen like, and maybe I saw in your book what I wanted to see, what it seemed like you were saying to me was, hey, don't run your business for a profit. Don't even have it in the back of your mind. Take care of your people. But the irony of ironies is, when you take care of your people and they trust each other, the profits will come. - Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. Of course. - Yes, of course. People who are willing to give their blood, sweat, and tears make for better, more profitable companies. People who are only there for their own selfish needs and would be willing to jump ship as soon as they get a better offer. They're not the best people to help build a company for the long term. We can throw money at people which will last for a while and you can make a company look successful for a while, but it doesn't mean it can last. We can't judge a ship by how well the crew performs in calm waters. We judge a ship by how well the crew performs in rough waters. And the problem is, in good times we don't use all that extra money to take care of the people. We use it to distribute and distribute and then when hard times come, sometimes there's not enough padding and the culture hasn't been fostered over that time. But that is the irony, which is when we lead with an infinite mindset and the leaders that do lead with an infinite mindset have disproportionately more successful companies, more innovative companies, more profitable companies, all of which are strong enough to last for a very, very, very long time. And not because they just have the financial wealth to weather storms, but the company continues to grow and innovate and reinvent itself. So it's relevant in the face of new technology and changing tastes and politics in the world. So that is the great irony, but it has to be genuine, meaning to say that I care about my people because they're a means to an end. It's like we only like you because you help us make money. Makes us not only feel used, but that we're a mechanism for somebody else's success, where when we say we care about our people and money is the mechanism by which we can take care of people, the more money we make, the more we can take care of our people and serve our customers, it has a profound impact on our desire to give more. - Yeah, that's something that in founding impact theory.

Safe spaces and safe our feelings (11:00)

So I really learned at Quest, you're only as good as what you write down when you start scaling and really having to crystallize it and put something down, it really does make your values insanely clear. And I started thinking a lot about safety and trust, which are two of like the big pushes in your book. And I'd love to know like, what do you see as the difference between the way that safe is being used now is like safe space versus the way that you talk about safety in the book or they want in the same, do you differentiate from a safe space? Like how do you think about safety? - It has all those definitions. I mean, we wanna feel safe at work, which means we feel that we can be ourselves. It means that we feel safe enough to raise our hands and say, I made a mistake or I don't feel qualified for the position you've given me I need more training or I'm struggling at home, it's affecting my work. I'm scared, I need help. And to say any of those things with the confidence that our boss or any of our colleagues rush to support us, because if we don't create those psychologically and sometimes physically safe spaces, but those psychological safe spaces, what we end up is with a group of people who come to work everyday lying, hiding and faking. They're hiding mistakes. They are not admitting if they don't know how to do their jobs. They would never admit that they don't know something for fear that it makes them vulnerable, for fear that it maybe makes them the weak link, that they'll find themselves on some short list at the next round of layoffs. And the problem is how do you run a successful organization that's supposed to sustain over the long term, thrive over the long term if people are literally hiding things that go wrong, not admitting that they don't know how to do their jobs and never admitting they need help. That doesn't last, that doesn't last. And the problem is when someone leads with a finite mindset where they're attempt to incentivize performance, and by the way, you can't incentivize performance, you can only incentivize behavior, then bad things eventually happen. - That's interesting.

Incentives and Behavior (12:54)

Talk to me more about why can't you incentivize performance and how do incentives end up influencing behavior? - Well, you can't incentivize performance because somebody has to do something to achieve that performance. There's a cause and effect. You can't incentivize an effect. You can only incentivize the cause that would hopefully yield that effect, which is behavior. So if I say to you, I will give you a massive bonus if you hit a certain target at the end of the year, no matter what, what you're incentivizing is that I will do certain things to achieve that goal that you set for me. But the problem is, is when we apply excessive amounts of pressure and it's at all costs, like my very livelihood depends on that, it can accidentally incentivize some quite unseemly behaviors, like hoarding information, right? Because this is what gives me my value and I don't wanna share information or things that I've learned with my colleagues and coworkers, which is madness, or an ethical behavior, stabbing other people in the back. And this is one of the problems with, I think, our modern business today, which is too much of businesses is run right now with an excessive amount of finite thinking. Now, there are always finite games within the infinite game, the infinite game, however, provides the context. And without that infinite mindset, all you have is win, win, win, win, win, win, win. which is unsustainable. An infinite game is not a series of finite games. It's unsustainable because nobody has that energy and there's no such thing as a perfect growth chart. It doesn't exist.

Infinite Games Are Not a Series of Finite Games (14:28)

Really fast, tell me why, why isn't an infinite game just a series of finite games? For the same reason you can't just keep eating chocolate cake every day 'cause it feels good. Because simply driving people, driving people, driving people, driving people, driving people, driving people gets exhausting. It destroys the foundations of trust. It destroys the foundations of cooperation. And when we don't work well together, share information, admit mistakes, there's no innovations. And we know what simply driving a series of finite games looks like. It looks like investment banking before 2008, which produced an artificial man-made recession. And so much of the finite thinking that we have today, unfortunately, is a really reasonably modern invention. It's not like business has always operated this way.

Milton Friedman (15:15)

The thinking of Milton Friedman, the 1970s economist has really dominated sort of business theory today. He theorized that the responsibility of business, this is his definition, the responsibility of business is to maximize profit within the bounds of the law. What about ethics? You know? Like a pharmaceutical company that raises the price on a central drug, 200%, 300%, 500%, 800%. It's not illegal. It is unethical, right? It makes us uncomfortable. And yet the law is not broken. That's not a good enough standard to run a business. And it was his thinking that gave rise to the theory of shareholder supremacy, which was a theory proposed in the late 1970s, where we prioritize the wants, needs, and desires of a shareholder over the needs of the customer or the employee, which is like a coach who's trying to build a great team by doing what the fans want versus what the players need, right? That's basically shareholder supremacy. And as I said, it was just a theory proposed in the late 1970 that was popularized during the boom years of the 80s and 90s. Mass layoffs, where we use the livelihoods of human beings to meet arbitrary projections on an annualized basis at the end of the year, did not exist, did not exist as a standard business practice prior to the 1980s, did not exist. It was popularized during the 80s and 90s. The dismantling of Glass-Steagall, which was an act passed after the Great Depression to prevent another Great Depression from happening. And by the way, it was extremely effective. Between the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall in the 80s and 90s and the Great Depression, there were a total of zero stock market crashes. Since then dismantling, all in the name of corporate profit, we've had three. We had the dot-com boom, Black Monday in 2008. In other words, when we play simply with the finite mindset, we actually do long-term damage to our own system that's supposed to benefit all of us. And I find that upsetting. We've seen the rise of Milton's, of Friedman's thinking rather. And like I said, his theories dominate business today. And we feel it. Not only have we had those stock market crashes, but anybody who goes to work today, there's a general feeling of unease, especially if you work for a company that embraces annual or even quarterly layoffs to meet arbitrary projections. Keep in mind, a lot of the companies that employ mass layoffs are profitable, just not as profitable as they would like. It's not like they're losing money, and they had to do this to save the sinking ship. That's something completely different. These are highly profitable companies that missed a projection, and so they laid people off so they could meet that projection. There's something fundamentally wrong with that. And we know it 'cause we feel it at work. We see this decline of trust. We are not loyal to our companies anymore. Why would we be? They're not loyal to us. And leaders set the tone. So when companies are loyal to us, we will give loyalty back to them. When they're not loyal to us, why would we be loyal to them? I'm tired of CEOs telling me that, you know, millennials these days don't stick around very long. Well, why would they if you don't offer them any kind of loyalty back? And it's not for the people to prove to you that they're loyal to the other way around. Leaders set the tone. And so it's because of this general business theory that we've seen a steady decline, a steady erosion of loyalty in the business world today. We don't want to work at a company for 20 or 30 years, mainly because we're not sure we could. We're not sure that the company actually tears to keep us around that long. And so we constantly have our eyes open and we're constantly scanning. We come to work feeling uncomfortable that some of the decisions that are being made don't benefit the good of the employee, that it really benefits this artificial constituency that we call the shareholder, which is really just a bunch of institutional investors. This is this shareholder myth because there's been a steady decline of the middle class being involved in the stock market for years. And the whole point of the stock market was that we all get to share in the wealth that we helped build because it's on the back of average Joe employees that produced the great wealth in the nation and the whole point of the stock market. The genius of the modern day corporation, the genius of the public company was that we all get to share in the wealth that we're helping produce. Unfortunately, over the course of the 80s and 90s, we've seen systems produced where we're seeing the general population, the middle class actually be less included in that success. And the reason I wrote the infinite game was because I myself got tired of being told by people in positions of authority or people of extreme wealth that I was naive, that I don't understand how business works. And for many years, I believed them. I thought maybe I am the dumb one, right? We all kind of feel that because they have the power, they have the authority, they have the money, they know more than we do, but we still go to work and feel uncomfortable. And it turns out that discomfort, that gut feeling that says there's something wrong here, turns out that the majority actually knows something. And to me, this is a world is flat moment that the people who've learned to game the system, that this discomfort that we feel, we actually are right.

Finite game (20:41)

Like they actually don't understand the game they're in, business is an infinite game, and when you play with a finite mindset, lots of people suffer, including the companies that they themselves are trying to build. That's the great irony. The great irony is the way you build great companies is with an infinite mindset. The way you build great companies is by prioritizing people before profit. The way you build great companies is will before resources. Both things important, but there has to be this general leaning where we can feel, when we come to work and feel, like we're part of something bigger than ourselves, where we feel that our work and our effort is worth more than simply the money we make. We know that, right? - I'm kind of fan. - And so for me, I got tired of being told I was naive. I got tired of being told that I don't understand how business works, and it turns out that me and the majority of people actually understand more. We may not understand the mechanics, but we understand that what's happening isn't right. It doesn't feel right. - Did you have a breakthrough moment? Like what was the thing that made you go, actually I'm not wrong? - Well, the discovery of this definition of the infinite game was a large part of it, because I recognize that business is an infinite game, and almost all of the leadership in business today is finite-minded, and so there's literally, you can't show up to a game of basketball ready to play football. Like it's not gonna go well. We overuse sports analogies in business, but sports has beginning, middle, and end. There actually is a finish line. We overuse the analogies, they're incorrect analogies. Running a business is the same as getting healthy. It's a lifestyle.

Leadership Is a Lifestyle. Infinite Mindset Is a Lifestyle. (22:35)

Leadership is a lifestyle. An infinite mindset is a lifestyle. So for example, you can't get healthy by going to the gym for nine hours. It doesn't work. But if you go every single day for 20 minutes, you'll absolutely get into shape, 100%, but I don't know when, and it's different times, or different people. And leading is the same thing. You can absolutely have fitness goals. You can absolutely have finite goals within the infinite context of being healthy. But there's a practice that you have to do. You have to get enough sleep. You have to go to the gym. You have to eat well. You have to protect your relationships, because healthy relationships really matter to our health, and you have to do all those things vigilantly. And if you miss your health goal, it's okay. You keep working at it and you know you will hit it. Business is the same. Who says that you have to meet this goal on this arbitrary date? Now, it helps to drive and it's good to have incentives, and we're very goal-oriented species. That's fine, but if we miss the thing, it's fine. We just keep working towards it. Like, they're guidance. They're not absolutes, 'cause they're arbitrary dates and arbitrary numbers. And even if you do hit your fitness goal, you don't get to stop working out. You have to keep going for the rest of your life, right? And this is what leading with an infinite mindset means. Here's an example. This is a normal scenario in business, right? We will give a team a target, a goal, to hit by a certain timeframe, usually a year, because that's usually when we pay taxes, right? That's the only reason things are done in years, right? If we pay taxes every 18 months, all the goals will be 18 months, right?

This Is a Normal Scenario in Business Right? (24:08)

So we usually give people a financial target, and there's two teams. One that is driven solely by hitting that goal, because all they care about is getting their bonus at the end of that goal. Morale is up and down. If they happen to have a good month, morale is up, if they have a bad month, morale is down. Retention is terrible. They can't hold on to employees. Nobody really trusts each other. The boss is toxic. And right before the end of the financial year, they have some mad push where they're dropping prices all over the place, and they're managed to drive revenues and hit the goal, right? The problem is we bonus that team. We bonus that leader because of the goal they hit, right? And basically what we're doing is spreading a message to the rest of the company saying, we don't care how you get there. We don't care if you step on your people. We don't care if you act unethically. If you hit your number, you're gonna do very well in this company. Versus another team that's doing extremely well, it's good, steady, slow growth, like really, really untargeted, you know? It's not the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys. Morale is super high. Retention is amazing. It's a model team. They trust each other. They share information, and they miss their goal on the agreed upon date, right? At the end of the year, they're just shy of it. But clearly, you can see from the trend data, they're gonna hit it at 13 or 14 months. The problem is we don't give that person anything. We don't give that team anything, right? And this is part of the problem. When you have an infinite mindset, absolutely have the goals, but the trend matters more. How you get there matters as much, if not more. And we pay attention to that. So even if I hit my fitness goal, I'm eating better, I'm sleeping better, my relationships are great. I'm going to the gym, yes, I miss my goal, but I know if I just keep going, I'll hit it. I'm getting healthier and healthier, right? I just got the timing wrong. And this is what we need to build into business, that infinite mindset. Yes, have the goals, yes, have the ambitions, yes, have the annual targets. If we miss them as long as we're doing the right things, we have the right lifestyle to take us there, that's a much healthier way to live a life and a much healthier way to build an organization. - So let's talk about that recipe. Break it down pretty eloquently. I'd say the book is actually organized around the five elements that seem like the very things you're talking about now. What are those? And ultimately where I want to get, maybe not right now, but ultimately what I want people at home to be able to do is if they're not a business owner, understand what to look for in that and understand how they can play a role in shaping it. - So there are five practices in order to lead with an infinite mindset. You have to have a just cause, you have to have trusting teams, you have to have a worthy rival, you have to have a capacity for existential flexibility and you have to have the courage to lead.

Have to Have a Just Cause (26:42)

So just cause, we have to give our people something to advance, a cause so just that they would be willing to sacrifice their interests in order to do so. In other words, turn down a better paying job or frequent business trips or working late hours. And though I may not like those things, I do them because it feels worth it because I believe in what I'm a part of here because I feel that I'm helping advance because there's no achieving in the infinite game. The goal is not final achievement, the goal is advancing to progress in the infinite game. And to have that vision of an idealized state of the world that all men are created equal, right? It's an ideal that a nation is striving towards that will never actually get there, but will die trying, that's the point. And we can offer people the same thing inside an organization, in fact, we have to, to give them something to advance. Now, how is this different from the why?

Distinguishing A Just-Cause From A Why And Other Infinite Game Concepts

The difference between a just-cause and a why (27:49)

A why comes from the past. It is an origin story. Every single one of us has our own unique why. It is our birthright. It comes from the sum total of how we were raised as kids. It is objective. You have one and you have one for the rest of your life, the only one, right? And the rest of our lives are about making the decisions that help us keep in balance with our why. A just cause doesn't come from the past. A just cause is about the future. It's about where we're going, right? You can have multiple just causes. You can have one professionally. You can have one personally. You can have one for your family. You can have one for your church. And we're involved in all of these. There's massive pressure put on people, especially young people too. What's your vision? Well, we're not all Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. We're not all visionaries. We don't have to have a vision, but we do have to find a vision that we can find someone else's vision. And we are so compelled by it that we want to make it our own. That's what it means to go work for a company with a visionary leader. That we believe in that vision so clearly, that we take their vision and we make it our own. And we will happily contribute our work, our effort in order to advance what is now my vision, right? Martin Luther King had a vision. He stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told us his vision, but his vision became our vision. So I may not have come up with that vision, but I found it and I'd like to devote time and energy to help advance it even beyond him. We have to give our people a just cause. We have to have trusting teams. We have to create environments inside our organizations in which people feel psychologically safe, safe enough to raise their hands and say, I made a mistake or I need help. The absence of trusting teams means we have groups of people lying, hiding and faking. And that comes from good old fashioned leadership. Leadership is not about being in charge. It's about taking care of those in our charge and the very responsibility of a leader is not to drive performance. Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. And the problem is, is we don't teach people how to lead, right? When you're very, very junior, we give people tons of training how to do their jobs. Some people get advanced degrees how to do their jobs so that they'll be good at them. And if you're really good at your job, we'll promote you. And eventually you get promoted to a position where you're now responsible for the people who do the job you used to do. And we don't teach you how to do that. So how can we expect people to be good at their jobs if we don't train them how to do it? Like, would you go see a doctor that didn't go to medical school? No. So why would we work for a leader who has no training and being a leader? That's why we get managers. That's why we get micromanagers. That's why we get toxicity. It's not 'cause they're bad people. It's 'cause they don't know what they're doing. And they're making it up as they go along. And those lucky times that we get to work for a great leader, well, they were lucky that they probably had a great leader before them or they learned it somewhere else. Or maybe they had a terrible leader and they committed to do the total opposite of everything. The point is they learned it. Well, we have to teach leadership so that leaders can create environments in which all of us can work to our natural best. That produces trusting teams. - I don't wanna derail 'cause we have three more, but I think this is so important. What in a crash course format, like what does that type of leadership look like? How do you create the environment where people are going to thrive and create those results that you're talking about? - What does it, you're asking me the question, what does it mean to be healthy? You're asking me the question, what does it mean to be a great parent? Like, I don't have five things to be a great parent, right? It's a lifestyle. And it comes number one with the commitment that I am responsible for the life of another human being, the growth of another human being. The closest thing to leadership is parenting. You have to be an infinite student of parenting. You wanna be a parent. You ask your friends, you ask your own parents, you join groups, you read magazines, you watch talks, whatever it is you're constantly consuming, how to deal with this constantly changing challenge of being a parent. And it's ups and downs and successes and failures, you know? And that's what it is. Leadership is the same. Leaders, great leaders are students of leadership. No matter how achieved they are maybe, they're still learning. And it's a lifestyle. It's the lifestyle of what I need to do to look after people, which includes things like listening, learning how to give and receive feedback, learning how to have effective confrontations, how to discipline when necessary, in a way that's constructive. Roam the halls, get to know people, learning what it means to ask somebody questions. How do you ask questions? You know, like some people are naturally good at being curious about other human beings and some people are uncomfortable because they're introverts or whatever, socially awkward. But we can learn, you know, how do you learn to remember people's names? - Oh, I'm bad at names. - No, you've just decided you're bad at names. We can learn to be good at names so that when we walked on the hall and say, "Hey Tom, oh my God, he remembers my name." It's a nice feeling. It's a lifestyle. It's a lifestyle. There are many, many things we have to do and constantly work on to be a great leader to create that environment. - That's pretty damn good. I'll take that.

Worthy rivals (32:59)

- All right, so that was two trusting teams. - Yep. - Third. - Worthy rivals. This one's a funny one. This one, this one, I actually get more questions on any of the others, believe it or not. - I love the way you rolled it out in the book. - So, so, I'll tell the story. So there's another guy who does what I do. He's extremely well respected. He does extremely good work. I hate him. I haven't, I haven't ever. You know, it's, he's always been very nice to me when I've seen him professionally. I have just, I have an irrational hatred of him. And whenever his name comes up, I like, it drives me nuts. Like people bring it like, we hired him and I was like, good, good. And because I hate him, I'm really competitive with him. And so I will go online and look at my book rankings and I'll immediately check his. And mind you, I don't look at anybody else's, just his. And if I'm ahead, I've got this like smug feeling. And if he's ahead, I get really pissed off, you know? So anyway, we had the opportunity to speak at the same event. I don't mean like me in the morning, him in the afternoon, like we were interviewed together in the stage. And the interviewer thought it would be fun if we introduced each other. And so I went first. And then I looked at him and I said, you make me really insecure. All of your strengths are all of my weaknesses. And when your name comes up, it makes me really uncomfortable. And he looked at me and he said, funny, I feel the same about you. The reason I had such an irrational hatred of him had nothing to do with him, it had to do with me. He's my worthy rival. His strengths reveal to me my own weaknesses.

Worthy Rivals (34:49)

And instead of confronting and taking a hard look at myself and evaluating those weaknesses and working on those weaknesses, it was much easier to take all of that negative energy and direct it towards him. In other words, to be competitive, to want to beat him. Right? It was a very cathartic experience. We've since become very close friends, have worked together. I no longer check his book rankings. And because we share the same cause, we can actually work together. And so what I recognize was so often in business, we have these competitors, sometimes on our own teams, that we want to beat them. We've all had the experience where one of our colleagues got a promotion and we got upset, we got angry. We got angry at somebody else's success. Think about that for a second. Why couldn't we share in the joy? Right? What is it about them that's being revealed in us? That's the problem. Right? And so having worthy rivals, instead of competitors, competitors are other players we set out to beat. But the problem with that is there's no finish line. And so we're obsessed with beating the other company, then at some point, sure, you're ahead in whatever metric you chose until when. Right? At what expense? At what cost? That's not sustainable. But rather, the other players inside our industry, outside our industry, on our own teams, we can choose our own worthy rivals. Their strengths reveal to us our weaknesses. And by having our weaknesses reveal to us, it means we have the opportunity to grow and improve. And the infinite game at its core is basically a game of constant improvement. And so our worthy rivals reveal to us our weaknesses and our opportunities to improve. - Yeah, that's one of the areas where switching your mindset really has a powerful impact and beginning to change the way that you think. That one, and I mean, God, all these are pretty powerful.

Existential Flexibility (36:30)

The next one, the existential flexibility. This one maybe has the headiest title. What is it and how do we watch out for it? - Existential flexibility is the willingness to make profound strategic shifts in order to advance your cause, 180 degrees, right? This is not the daily flexibility that you need in business. A leader or even us as individuals may never have to perform an existential flex. And at most you might ever have to do it in an entire career once or never. But the responsibility of any leader is to prepare their organizations for an existential flex shouldn't need to happen. So what is an existential flex? So the best case is really Steve Jobs and his just cause. Jobs and Wozniak had a very clear just cause which is to empower individuals to stand up to Big Brother, right? They're revolutionaries at heart. And they saw the personal computer as a brilliant tool to help them advance, that to empower individuals to stand up to Big Brother. Steve Wozniak imagined a time in which an individual could compete in business against a corporation thanks to a personal computer. - Pressure. - Yeah. - Right. Apple's already had success from the Apple One, the Apple Two, to ready a big company. Steve Jobs is already a famous CEO. And in December of 1979, Jobs and a bunch of his senior executives go and visit Xerox Park, which was Xerox's R&D division. And Xerox shows them a new invention of theirs called the Graphic User Interface, that allows a user to click a mouse on a desktop to move icons and folders to use the computer instead of having to learn an entire computer language. Now, Jobs, who believes in empowering individuals, sees this technology and says to his team, "We have to invest in this graphic user interface thing." And the voice of reason, I guess, in the team says, "Steve, we can't, we can't do it. "We've already invested millions of dollars "in countless man hours in a different strategic direction. "If we suddenly change directions, "we're gonna blow up our own company." To which Jobs actually said, "Better we should blow it up than someone else." And that decision led to the Macintosh. The first properly graphic user interface computer that in mass market appeal, that was so profound that the entire platform of Windows, Windows 2.0, was basically designed to act like a Macintosh. And the reason we all have computers on our desks today, the reason it's a household appliance, the reason any one of us can compete against a corporation is because of this profound shift. He was willing to do that. Now, I call it a capacity for existential flexibility because it's not shiny object syndrome, which too many entrepreneurs are subjected to. This is it guys, flavor of the moment. It's done with the very specific reason of advancing the cause. I found a better way to advance the cause. And you have to have the just cause, otherwise how do you know what to shift? And you have to have the trusting teams because you will put the organization through short-term hell. And the numbers probably will go down in the short-term. And the team has to be willing to say, "We agree. "We understand why you're making the shift. "Let's do this. "And it's gonna suck, but we're in." And they hunker down and they figure it out. If you don't have a just cause, you're literally just chasing something. And if you don't have the trusting teams, this happens a lot where sometimes the leader has the just cause, but the team doesn't know it. And if you don't have the trusting teams, then people will think you've lost your mind in the start abandoning ship, or you respond to the pressures from Wall Street or outside because the numbers start to go down. But existential flexibility, like I said, if you don't have to do it, you have to prepare the organization for your successor to be able to do it, which means keep the cause alive and maintain the trusting teams. - Yeah, the existential flex to me is where your, the brilliance of what you're talking about comes into crystal clear focus because it's where all the things come together.

Investment in the Employees (40:20)

You have to have the trust of your team, which is something I think about a lot. I think about it a lot because storms come inevitably. And I think that if you can invest in your employees before you ask them to invest in you in the moment where you need them to show it for you, they will. I think that if people are you, you have a quick three word phrase you use, but basically people are keeping their head down, they're afraid of being punished. It's like then you're never gonna get these revolutionary ideas. A lot of this points back at courage. What are your thoughts around courage? How do people get the courage to play the long game to? - It's not the long game, it's the infinite game. - 'Cause a long game could be five years, right? - True. - Yeah, this is forever. How do people build that? Everything that we're talking about in the infinite game is really, really, really, really hard. It is so much easier to build a company based on short term ambitions than it is an infinite cause. It just is, right? It's also fun, right? Until it's not. Less inspiring, but sometimes fun, right? Hitting a goal feels good, right? It's much easier to just hire and fire people frequently, hire fast, fire fast as to hiring slowly and firing slowly because we try and take care of our people as best we can. It's just, it's hard to build teams. All of that stuff we talked about leadership, like what am I supposed to do to build a trusting team? Well, I wish I could give you a list of five things. It's really, really hard to be a parent. It's much easier to be an uncle or an aunt or not have kids, right? It's hard, right? So why do it? It's fun and exciting to try and beat our competitors, you know? But to have to face our own weaknesses every day, oh, that's exhausting, you know? Existential flexibility, I'd rather not. I just would rather not, you know? So the reason this takes courage to completely change our mindset A about the game that we're actually players in and how we wanna approach these things and do we wanna shift our mindset and our organizations to prepare for the infinite game to be organized for the infinite game? It takes courage because we're gonna be swimming upstream in a world that is very finite driven. You know, the pressures on us are overwhelming from Wall Street or our own egos or from internal incentive structures or our bosses, whatever it is, the pressures are overwhelming for us to play the finite game. And so how do you stand up to massive external pressure? Courage. And courage is something that comes from relationships. You know, it's external. A world famous trapeze artist would never attempt a brand new death-defying act for the first time without a net. They would never do it. So why do we think that we could do something difficult without external support too? I've had the opportunity to meet real heroes, people who've risked their lives to save the lives of others with the belief that they were gonna die and they didn't. And when I asked why did you do it, they all say something similar, which is they would have done it for me. It's external. And so we have to take the time to foster and take care of people around us to nurture our relationships because when we're gonna be doing something difficult, when we're gonna be swimming upstream, when we're gonna be innovating and doing something different, there are days we're gonna doubt ourselves, there are days we're gonna get knocked in our ass, there are days that storms are gonna rise, and we have to have people who say, I got your back. You need to do this. We need you. The world needs this. Keep going. I believe in you. And so courage comes from not only our willingness to do that for others, but then their willingness to do it for us. And if we commit ourselves to a just cause and we're willing to do those things, then the great thing is we take a lot of people with us and change the world for the better. And isn't that sort of the point of an infinite life? To leave this world in better shape than we found it, to leave the companies that we work for in better shape than when we started, to leave our families stronger and better capable than what they can do without us. Isn't that what it means to live an infinite life?

How to Influence the Culture of Your Company (44:33)

That we can literally live on beyond our own lives. - So now when people have that and they take that mantle on and they have the ecosystem around them that gives them that powerful support that they need to really be courageous and I'll assume for a second that the people watching this, they have that. One thing that I imagine a lot of people feel helpless to do is influence the culture of the company that they're already in. So is your, what is your advice for somebody that's in a company that they don't have an infinite minded culture? - Don't. - Don't be there? - No, don't try and influence that which you cannot influence. Don't control that which you cannot control. An infinite mindset means that is something I can't do, but I can influence and take care of the people that are left of me and to the right of me. I can take care of the people who work for me. I can even take care of the person I work for. Sometimes we have a toxic boss not because they're bad but because we don't understand the pressure they're under. Sometimes to simply exhibit empathy to our boss, hey boss, you were really harsh on us today. Everything all right, what's going on? I'm worried about you. I'm here, we can succeed together. We're here to help you. If we're, no matter where we are in inside an organization, leadership is not about rank or authority, leadership is taking responsibility for the people around us. And so anybody on any team at any rank at any level can be a leader. The first choice is that we have to want to be. A dear friend of mine, Lieutenant General George Flynn from the Marine Corps said that the first criterion to being a leader is you have to want to be one. So any of us can volunteer to be a leader. And that's what you do. You commit yourself to seeing that the people with whom we work on a daily basis, love coming to work. They feel that someone's got their back. They feel supported. They feel that they have top cover. They feel someone cares about them as a human being, listens to them, knows their story, allows them to be themselves. We can be that leader. And what you start to see is those teams become really high performing. Those teams become super tight. And you start to hear rumors across the company because everybody wants into that team because apparently it's a great team to work with, to work on. And before you know it, one of those people goes and moves to another team.

Joining The Movement

The Tail Will Wag the Dog (46:36)

And they take everything that they learn because leadership is learned and they do it for another team. And if we take that infinite mindset, and eventually the tail will wag the dog, and it doesn't matter if it's this CEO or another CEO because we will outlast whoever's in charge right now. And that's the goal. We're doing this for the good of the organization. We're doing this for the good of the cause. And the tail can wag the dog. - I love that. I think you've got your finger on something so important right now. And I can feel this shift. I can feel that there's a shift happening, but they need the words to understand it. And I feel like your book delivers that. And to me it was when you were explaining that the breakthrough moment for you was when you read about infinite games and suddenly you had the lexicon with which to conceptualize all this. And I feel like what your book is delivering on is giving people the framework with which to understand it. I can't remember where I saw this, but there was something that said, oh, there's this color, a shade of blue that's been lost forever, not because it doesn't exist in wave forms of light, but because we don't have a word for it. And because we don't have a word for it, we can't conceptualize it. And thus our brain just shunts it off into one of the colors that we do have a name for. I thought, whoa, that's so powerful and so true and so accurate to the way that the brain works. And reading the book, that's what this felt like. It was like, now people are gonna be able to talk about it in a way that's going to let them conceptualize what a company culture can be the way that the company can be driven by something bigger than the profits. It gives them that organizing principle. I think that's so incredibly powerful. - Thank you, I appreciate that. And I agree it. And I mean, that's what happened for me, which is I found words for the discomfort I had. I had words for, you know, when people called me naive and said, you don't understand how business works, I didn't have a response. 'Cause I didn't have words. I just had a feeling. And they had more success than me and they had more power than me. So I didn't say anything, you know, call me old fashioned. I'd like to work for a company that outlast me.

Join the Movement! (48:33)

I'd like to work for a company where I can feel like I could be myself when I go to work. I'd like to work for a company where I feel that my boss actually cares about me like I'm a human being, rather than just a number on a spreadsheet. - I'm with you there. Where can people find more about you? Where can they engage in this movement? - You know, all the usual places. You know, the interwebs and you, Linked-ins and Facebooks and Twitters and Instagrams and all those things. You know, I think the question is, you know, when people say, how do I join the movement? How do I be a part of it? I always ask people the same thing, which is be the leader you wish you had. Become a student of leadership. Study it. Read about it. Watch things about it. Practice it every day. You know, like be a parent, you know, like join the movement means I'm gonna take care of my team. Sometimes I'm in a leadership position and sometimes I'm not and it doesn't matter. I'm gonna practice leadership. If I'm a salesperson, you know, if I work at the check encounter of an airline, I'm gonna take care of the people I work with and we take care of the customers as if they're my family. You know, like practice leadership. Learn about it. Study it. Because I do these things, because I recognize I'm just a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. You know, it's one of the reasons I wanted to come talk to you on camera. It's because, you know, when we do a jigsaw puzzle, the first thing you do is lean the picture, the box against the wall and then you start putting the pieces together to build that picture. My job in this movement, I'm the guy who points at the box. All right, I'm the one who's pointing at the picture, pointing at the picture. Maybe pointing out a couple of the pieces and where they go, but I need lots of people to join me. We need lots of people to join us who say I have a piece of the puzzle. I'm willing to lead this way. I'm willing to abandon Milton Friedman ideals and do something bigger, something more. Follow the, you know, live with an infinite mindset, lead with an infinite mindset and put their piece down and say, how can I help build that vision? We need the army. And so how people can engage in the movement is actually practicing all this stuff. More than anything else, that's what we need. - What's the impact that you want this book in particular to have? I know your life mission, you've articulated that well, but what do you hope is the impact of this book? - The book is written for two reasons. One, it's to rally those who know that we have to do things differently and give them the words and some of the guidance on how to do things differently, how to play with an infinite mindset in the infinite game. And the other reason is to help us recognize those finite players, 'cause we're gonna have to work for them, buy from them and invest in them. And it's okay if they're finite-minded, but we have a right to know. So when companies say we're purpose-driven, but they don't actually make decisions to advance their purpose, we have the right to be able to try and figure out, are they lying to us or not? Because we have to work for them, buy from them and invest in them. And so it's to help us not only do it ourselves, but recognize when others are doing it or not. - I love that. Simon, thank you so much for coming on. - My pleasure, thank you so much. - Thanks so much, thanks for having me back.

Outcomes And Impact

Impact (51:34)

- Of course. Guys, if you haven't already gone so deep in this man's world that you are missing out, it is absolutely extraordinary. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. - Simon, Simon, that was wonderful. It looks amazing. - Your idea of Tom is just this vast collection of narratives that you've constructed around your own experiences. And it's layer on top of layer, on top of layer, on top of layer.

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