Jim Collins — A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath

Tim Ferriss Show #361, 20. Feburar 2019

Link zum Podcast

Conceptual vessel: How do you develop a concept

  • „You’ve got dialectics, you’ve got hierarchies, you have stages, you have equations, you have categories. One of the first, most important things to do is to say well, if you’re looking at something, “What’s the best kind of conceptual vessel?” Then from there you develop the concept.“

Writing is hard

  • „As those of us who write, we all know how hard writing is. Nobody would ever say writing is fun.“  

Never denigrate great management

  • „By the way, as an aside, never denigrate great management. Anybody who’s had a poor manager knows how awful that is to work for one and how great it is to work for a great manager.“

Betting on yourself

  • Mit 36 Jahren hat sich JC entschieden, alles auf sich selbst zu wetten und sich selbständig zu machen.
  • „I like betting on myself.“
  • „Let’s just bet everything; let’s go.“
  • „It was a huge bet and we didn’t know if it would work.“
  • „We were actually really scared.“

Seine Vision = Vision von SILBE

  • „I’d like to be a self-employed professor to endow my own chair and to grant myself tenure.“

>50% creative work

  • „There’s a concept in Great by Choice called the 20 mile march. And so I kind of had a 20 mile march, I just didn’t know that concept yet. And the idea of it being something that you just do really consistently over time that imposes a very high level of discipline that accumulates to results. And so I simplified it and I just simply said, “Can I just simply count the number of creative hours I get every day and then hold myself to an account?” 
  • Sein Ziel: „every single 365 days cycle, every single one, every single day, if you calculate back the last 365 days, the total number of creative hours must exceed 1,000. No matter what.“ 
  • „It doesn’t matter if you’re sick. It doesn’t matter if there’s other stuff you’d like — 1,000 creative hours a year as a minimum baseline. Now you can be above that, that’s fine. But never once, there can’t be a single day in any 365-day cycle, January two to January two, July 22 to July 22, September nine to September nine, it doesn’t matter. Always has to be above 1,000 creative hours. And you watch it — and I put on the whiteboard here at the lab — the three-month pace. So you take the last three months multiply it times four, the six month pace. And then the current 365. And that is a way to kind of monitor. If I start seeing those numbers start to go down, I’ll change my behavior. And sometimes I have a big buffer and sometimes I don’t.“ 
  • „And the idea is, if you stay with that, eventually you’re going to have work.“
  • Was zählt zu „creative work“?
    • Es ist eine „grey zone“, klarerweise.
    • Jim Collins‘ Definition: „Whether the world sees it or not, I define creative as any activity that has a reasonably direct link to the creation of something that is new and potentially replicable or durable.“

The Bug Book

  • „I study myself like a bug. And imagine with dispassionate objectivity as you’re going through life, you’re making notes where you’re observing the bug called Jim. But very scientifically, clinically.“
  • „a lot of it was often what I would describe as pattern recognition“ 
  • „I’m not a big believer in thinking of traditional careers, I’m a big believer in thinking of finding your Hedgehog, and then really building flywheel momentum with that over time.“
  • „And so you have to find what you’re encoded for as distinct from just what you’re good at. And then the third is, you have an economic engine. And you can fund your goals, your objectives, the things you are trying to get done. When you have all three of those, I’m passionate about it, I’m encoded for it, and I have an economic engine in it, now you’re in your Hedgehog.“ 

Das IGEL-Konzept 

  • „We found that when they really focus on one or a few really big things, and made very disciplined decisions over time, those would accumulate and begin to build some real results. And eventually what would become the Flywheel Effect, which we’ll chat about a little bit later. And the Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of three circles. For a company, it’s doing what you’re deeply passionate about, because if you’re not passionate about it, you can’t endure long enough to really, really do something exceptional. The second circle is what you can be the best in the world at. And if you can’t be the best in the world at it, leave it to others. So, for example — it doesn’t mean being big. Right? You could have a truly great local restaurant. It’s never going to be big, but it’s the absolute best in the world at a particular thing that it does in its specific community. And no large company could come in and be better than them at that. That’s very Hedgehog, even though it’s not big. And then the third is that you have an economic engine, and you know how it works.“

Über Peter Drucker

  • Über Mentorship: „If somebody is willing to give you mentor time like that, you owe it to them — and to you — to go prepared and then to do a lot of writing after. So I put an entire couple, three days, into preparing for being able to meet with Peter. And then when I came home, I still probably have, I’m sure, my notes. I mean, I sat down, and I just processed, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote everything I gleaned from that meeting, and there were other interactions later, but that meeting. And that notion of you owe them the respect of going prepared. It’s not like, “Hey, I want to hang out, let’s network,” it’s not like that. Like you need to go. And then you need to process, and then you need to make good on it.“
  • Über späte Werke: „And I asked him at that lunch which of his 26 books he was most proud of. “The next one!” He did write 10 more. He was 86. And years later, when I, again a great privilege, had the chance to keynote the Drucker centennial — He died at 92, and Claremont asked me to come and give a keynote talk at his inaugural. I mean, at his centennial of his birth. He was born in 1909. And it’s actually — I think this is on YouTube, they put it up on YouTube, I went — I said, “I want to go see the shelf.” And the shelf was all of Peter’s books put out chronologically based on when he wrote them, first editions. And I said, “Where on the shelf is he aged 65?” And the answer was, when you pointed to it, 1/3 of the way across the shelf.“
  • Only decide once: „don’t make a hundred decisions when one will do. And the idea of that is that Peter believed that you tend to think that you’re making a lot of different decisions. But then actually, if you kind of strip it away, you can begin to realize that a whole lot of decisions that look like different decisions are really part of the same category of a decision. And that what you want to do is to then be able to say, “No, I’m going to make one big decision” that will be replicated many, many times.“
  • Great teaching opportunities: „You get lots of wonderful, interesting invitations. Things to go do this, or to go do that, or to speak at this, or whatever. They’re wonderful. Never be ungrateful for those opportunities. But you have to be very selective about what you do. And so as I was struggling with how do you decide which to do when you’ve got to say no to most of them, they all can look like a series of individual decisions, but then, actually no, there’s actually a couple of really big decisions. Is it a great teaching moment, potentially? And will you learn something?“
  • Druckers Rat an JC: „It seems to me you spend a lot of time trying — worrying about if you’re going to survive. Well, you’ll probably survive. And you spend too much time thinking about if you’ll be successful. It’s the wrong question. The question is, “how to be useful?” And that was the last thing he said that day. He just got out of the car, and closed the door, and walked away.“

Life is people

  • „Life, at its best, is about doing meaningful things with people you love.“

TF rät JC von Social Media ab

  • „The first is I’ve seen some incredible thinkers who have done a lot of deep work go down in flames after tapping the vein of social media. I would say caution is warranted. That would be my first observation. You have a history of saying no so well.“

JC drückt Wertschätzung für das Interview aus

  • „I’m actually very grateful as well. You’re right, I don’t actually say yes to very much at all. I’ve only fired bullets in this genre. This was one that was like, “I’m going to commit to really preparing and having a good conversation with you.” Part of it is because what I really learned about you is the care and depth of your preparation, and the fact that then you come into it with the idea of really wanting to have a conversation where you are present and engage with ideas and with thoughts. That notion of prepared curiosity, I think, is a great strength and to be able to join you in that, for me, is a real pleasure. We’re going to count at least half of this as creative hours.“