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    #110 Jim Collins: Relationships vs. Transactions

    True expertise lies in the ability to teach and convey genuine understanding, while identifying the starting point or core element of a concept is crucial for overall success.

    enMay 04, 2021

    About this Episode

    Renowned researcher and author Jim Collins makes his second appearance on The Knowledge Project, this time to share a wealth of life lessons learned from his mentor and collaborator, Bill Lazier. Jim recently released BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0), an ambitious upgrade of his first book Beyond Entrepreneurship, co-authored with Lazier and focused on effective leadership style. Shane discusses all new topics with Jim in their follow-up conversation, including what it means to be a mentor and a father, why we should trust by default, why we confuse living a long life with a great life, and the difference between being afraid of risk and being afraid of ambiguity.

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Choosing mentors who align with our values and can guide us towards personal growth and success is crucial, even if our biological parents may not have provided the desired guidance.
    • Seeking guidance and support from mentors, personal relationships, and biographies can shape values, guide decisions, and lead to personal growth on a values-based life.
    • Building and maintaining meaningful relationships, based on mutual benefit and trust, is essential for a truly great life, despite the potential risks involved.
    • Trust and forgiveness are essential in relationships, as they attract positive outcomes, promote cooperation, and lead to personal growth and a fulfilling life.
    • Embrace forgiveness, be compassionate towards yourself, and find joy in life. Learn from mistakes, let go of negativity, and prioritize empathy and understanding for others to live a fulfilling existence.
    • Cherish every moment and make timely decisions to lead a meaningful and purposeful life.
    • Good decision-making involves taking the time to analyze options and gather evidence, rather than relying solely on quick and bold decision-making.
    • Intelligent decisions can arise from disagreements and debates, and fostering a culture of dialogue and argument can lead to clarity and unified commitment. Consensus does not always result in intelligent outcomes.
    • Embracing ambiguity and taking the entrepreneurial path can lead to greater opportunities for success, allowing individuals to adapt, pivot, and have more control over their own achievements.
    • Successful companies have a replicable recipe for their operations, but it is their understanding of the rationale behind that recipe that truly drives their success.
    • True expertise lies in the ability to teach and convey genuine understanding, while identifying the starting point or core element of a concept is crucial for overall success.
    • Building a successful flywheel requires focusing on both delivering great outcomes for customers and converting those contributions into fuel to propel long-term growth and impact.
    • Success comes from having faith in the long-term outcome while also acknowledging and addressing the harsh realities of the present.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Power of Mentors in Shaping Character and Values

    The essence of being a father goes beyond biology. Jim Collins shared how his mentor, Bill Azir, became a father figure for him, shaping his character and guiding him without any hidden agenda. Bill's genuine interest in Jim's well-being and his dedication to helping him become the best version of himself made a profound impact. This highlights the importance of mentors who invest in shaping individuals' character and values, not just their careers. Collins emphasizes that we have the power to choose our own personal board of directors and mentors, even if our biological parents may not have provided the desired guidance. Taking control of our lives means consciously selecting mentors who align with our values and can guide us towards personal growth and success.

    Building a Personal Board of Directors for Personal Growth and Guidance

    Creating a personal board of directors or a band of brothers/sisters can be a valuable tool for personal growth and moral guidance. Jim Collins shares his own experience of using biographies, mentors, and personal relationships to shape his values and guide his decisions. By reading biographies, he gained knowledge and wisdom from the lives of others. His personal board of directors consisted of people he admired for their character, serving as a moral compass. Mentors provided him with valuable lessons and mentor moments that influenced him greatly. As he evolved, he adapted his approach to include a personal band of brothers/sisters, who hold him accountable and provide support. Building meaningful relationships and prioritizing curiosity were key values instilled in him by his mentor, Bill. The key takeaway, therefore, is the importance of seeking guidance and support from others to lead a values-based life.

    The importance of meaningful relationships and trust in a fulfilling life.

    Meaningful and deep relationships are the foundation of a truly great life. Jim Collins emphasized that there are two types of individuals: those who approach life as a series of transactions and those who prioritize building relationships. While transactions can lead to success, it is the relationships that bring true fulfillment. Bill, a mentor to Jim, shared his perspective on what makes a great relationship. He explained that a great relationship is where both individuals believe they benefit more from it, not out of selfishness, but because they both contribute selflessly. Bill's approach to trust also stood out. He believed in starting with an assumption of trust, granting others the full benefits, while acknowledging that trust can be lost. Despite experiencing betrayal himself, Bill chose to maintain his trust bid as his opening stance. He recognized that while not everyone is trustworthy, the cost of living included instances of trust being abused. This conversation highlights the importance of relationships and the willingness to trust despite potential risks.

    The Power of Trust and Forgiveness in Relationships

    Trust plays a vital role in relationships and interactions. Having an initial bid of trust rather than mistrust brings more positive outcomes. Trust attracts the best people who will behave in a trustworthy way, while mistrust pushes them away. It affects how people behave and can lead to more cooperative interactions. Bill had a hard-headed yet warmhearted approach to relationships, which impacted many lives. Additionally, forgiveness is essential in building trust and maintaining relationships. It involves letting go of assumptions and not assuming malicious intent. Forgiving oneself may be more challenging than forgiving others, but it is necessary for personal growth. In general, living with trust and forgiveness leads to a more fulfilling life.

    Forgiveness, Self-Compassion, and Finding Joy: Keys to a Great Life

    Forgiveness and self-compassion are essential for living a great life. Shane Parrish and Jim Collins discuss their struggles with self-judgment and the importance of forgiving oneself for past mistakes and shortcomings. They acknowledge that being human means making mistakes and having lapses in judgment, but it is crucial to learn from these experiences and forgive ourselves. They emphasize the need for empathy and understanding towards others, especially during challenging times when everyone is doing their best. Additionally, they highlight the significance of finding joy and making activities enjoyable in life. Taking the time to find enjoyment in what we do and letting go of unnecessary negativity is vital for a fulfilling and meaningful existence.

    Embracing the Value of Life and Making Timely Decisions

    Time goes by quickly and life is short. Jim Collins shared a story about his friend Bill, who realized the value of life during a health scare. Bill believed that time seems to pass faster as we age, and he emphasized the importance of cherishing every moment. He embraced the idea of a great life being the integration of all the moments experienced from birth to death. Bill's impact on others' lives demonstrated the significance of living a meaningful and purposeful life. Moving on to decision-making, Jim Collins explained that indecision is a common struggle for many executives. However, leaders who build great companies understand the importance of making timely decisions and avoid getting stuck in excessive analysis.

    Effective Decision-Making: Analyzing Context, Gathering Evidence, and Taking Time

    Good decision-making involves analyzing the context and environment, breaking things into events, and using empirical evidence and analysis to make clear and decisive decisions. It is not just about following what others say or relying solely on bold, fast decision-making. Andy Grove's approach to his prostate cancer diagnosis exemplifies this. He took the time to thoroughly analyze his options, seeking advice and conducting his own research, before making a clear and unambiguous decision. Additionally, the correlation between speed of decision-making and quality of outcome is not straightforward. The first question in decision-making should be how much time before the risks change, and the available time should be used effectively to make better decisions.

    Prioritizing clarity over consensus in corporate decision-making

    Decision-making in a corporate setting should prioritize clarity rather than consensus. It is not necessary for all decisions to have unanimous agreement, as intelligent decisions often arise from substantial disagreements and debates. The culture of disagreement, dialogue, and argument can lead to a point of clarity, followed by executive decisions and unified commitment. Consensus decisions do not necessarily result in intelligent outcomes, as individuals within a group tend to prioritize personal storytelling and avoiding accountability. Autopsies without blame should be conducted to understand and learn from adverse outcomes, rather than searching for someone to blame. Developing the ability to live with ambiguity and uncertainty can be achieved by diversifying risks and understanding the various risks involved in different environments, such as market and political risks.

    The Entrepreneurial Path: A Low-Risk Option with High Potential

    Choosing the entrepreneurial path can be a lower risk option compared to taking a job. By becoming an entrepreneur, individuals have the ability to adapt and pivot when one product or strategy doesn't work. They can build a diversified portfolio of clients and revenue streams, giving them more control over their success. On the other hand, staying in a job may seem less risky due to the certainty it provides and the fear of loss as commitments and responsibilities increase. However, the real risk lies in the probability of actually starting a business, not in the probability of success if one starts. Ambiguity aversion often prevents people from taking an entrepreneurial path, but embracing ambiguity can lead to greater opportunities and success.

    The Importance of Understanding the Rationale Behind a Company's Operations

    Successful companies have a replicable recipe for their operations, but also understand and can explain the rationale behind that recipe. Southwest Airlines, for example, emphasizes training their employees on the reasons behind their recipe, such as flying only 737s and turning planes quickly. They understand that their economic engine relies on keeping planes in the air to maximize revenue. Additionally, the analysis conducted by Jim Collins and Morton revealed that the most successful companies only change about 20% of their recipe over 30 years, indicating that it is not constant change that drives success, but rather understanding what needs to change and why. A great company is built by combining a replicable recipe with the right people who can exercise judgment within that system.

    The Importance of Being a Great Teacher and Understanding the Core Elements of a Concept

    Being a great teacher can distinguish those who truly understand a concept from those who are simply copying it. Jim Collins shares his admiration for Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, who deeply understands the recipe for success in investing and has become a great teacher of it. Bogle's books and conversations are filled with teachings rather than sales pitches, showcasing his genuine understanding and passion for his work. This ability to teach, rather than merely provide rote lessons, is an indicator of true expertise. Furthermore, the conversation highlights the importance of identifying the starting point or core element of a concept, as it holds significant signaling power in the overall success of the endeavor.

    The Two Sides of a Successful Flywheel

    A successful flywheel has two important components: the right side and the left side. The right side, from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock, focuses on what you do in the world to contribute and make a difference. It is about delivering great outcomes and creating value for customers. On the other hand, the left side, from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock, is about generating fuel and converting the contributions into resources. The fuel is then used to propel the flywheel forward and make it bigger, more powerful, and impactful in the long run. This concept challenges the idea of building a flywheel solely for the purpose of cashing out and selling the company, emphasizing the importance of lasting impact and continuous improvement. Additionally, the conversation touches on the Stockdale paradox, highlighting the resilience and leadership demonstrated by Admiral Jim Stockdale during his time as a prisoner of war.

    The Stockdale Paradox: Balancing Faith and Confronting Reality in Overcoming Challenges and Uncertainty.

    Having unwavering faith and optimism alone is not enough to overcome challenges, especially in times of uncertainty. Admiral Stockdale, who endured immense suffering as a prisoner of war, highlighted the importance of balancing faith with confronting brutal facts. His insight, known as the Stockdale Paradox, emphasizes the need to simultaneously believe in ultimate success while recognizing and dealing with the harsh realities of the present. This lesson applies not only to personal struggles but also to leadership and navigating desperate times in organizations. It serves as a reminder to maintain resilience, adaptability, and the discipline to confront the truth, even in the face of overwhelming ambiguity.

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    #193: Dr. Jim Loehr: Change the Stories You Tell Yourself

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    #192 David Segal: Yearly Planning, Daily Action

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    (08:48) The major trend
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    (13:29) On asking better questions
    (19:35) On rearranging your brain
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    (01:37:20) On success
     

    Watch the episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/theknowledgeproject/videos

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    Watch the episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/theknowledgeproject/videos

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    (26:24) The importance of writing things no one reads

    (36:55) Davis' experiences through financial crises

    (52:31) Why Davis loves managing a mutual fund

    (55:49) Why Berkshire Hathaway operates with margin

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    (01:04:02) On low interest rates and their future impact

    (01:14:46) The mismatched timelines between CEOs, companies, investors, and policy

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    (01:30:20) Lessons learned from Munger

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    Johnson also opens up about the constant hate he receives from people online, how he deals with it all, and what he wishes he'd known when he sold his company.

    Bryan Johnson is the world's most measured human. Johnson sold his company to PayPal in 2013. Through Project Blueprint, Johnson has achieved metabolic health equal to the top 1.5% of 18 year olds, inflammation 66% lower than the average 10 year old, and reduced his speed of aging by the equivalent of 31 years.

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    Watch the episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/theknowledgeproject/videos

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    Timecodes:

    (00:00:00) Intro

    (00:03:45) On biographies

    (00:08:03) On depression and coping mechanisms

    (00:14:18) Self-destructive behavior and how to pitch Blueprint to someone

    (00:26:50) What a day looks like on Blueprint (exercise and what to eat)

    (00:42:06) How to turn Blueprint protocols into habits

    (00:45:17) Embracing the hate

    (00:49:07) The downsides and lessons of making money

    (00:59:22) The five habits

    (01:05:09) Why does posture matter?

    (01:07:48) Relationship between biological health and sexual health

    (01:09:50) Hair-loss prevention

    (01:15:46) Sunscreen, plastics, and other miscellaneous impacts on aging

    (01:18:30) How will AI help us?

    (01:22:10) On success

    Dr. Becky Kennedy: The One Thing You Can Say That Changes Everything

    Dr. Becky Kennedy: The One Thing You Can Say That Changes Everything

    Dr. Becky Kennedy shares the skills you need but didn't get taught on regulating emotions, setting boundaries, and the best sentence you can say when a partner tells you something difficult.

    While there is an obvious focus on parenting, the most surprising thing about this episode was how much of what we discussed applies to EVERY relationship in your life.

    Learn how to parent more effectively with less stress, repair after a disagreement, regulate emotions, and unlock the next level in all of your relationships. Listen and Learn

    Dubbed the “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer” by TIME Magazine, Dr. Kennedy is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. She also hosts “Good Inside with Dr Becky,” the top kids and family show on Apple Podcasts.

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    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner, CEO of Markel Group, reveals the lessons he’s learned from Charlie Munger and Berkshire Hathaway, how he invests, and the specific way he thinks about opportunity cost.

    Gayner shares the difference between good debt and bad debt, where he disagrees with Munger, and why he focuses on the basics.

    This intimate conversation offers a level of insight and honesty that Tom hasn’t offered anywhere else.

    Gayner is currently the CEO of Markel Group and the Director of The Coca‑Cola Company. He also serves as chairman of the Davis Series Mutual Funds board and on the boards of Graham Holdings and Markel.

    Listen and Learn.

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    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone

    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone
    Blake Eastman has dedicated his entire life to psychology and nonverbal behavior.
     
    In 2009 he founded The Nonverbal Group, a  behavioral research and education company in New York City which conducts large scale studies on human behavior and uses a wide range of technologies to systematically deconstruct and improve human communication.
     
    Eastman dives deep into a number of subjects revolving around how we communicate with one another, including the ability to read nonverbal cues, his thoughts on big talkers vs. silent types, how we can communicate with our partners without complaining, the value of watching ourselves communicate on video, understanding the power structures and social dynamics at work, and so much more.
     
    Eastman has also served as an adjunct psychology professor at the City University of New York for six years where he taught General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Group Dynamics. He is also a former professional poker player and the founder of School of Cards, the first brick-and-mortar poker school in New York City.
     
    Listen and Learn

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