Richard Lucas – 21st March 2015
TEDxWarsaw 2015 on 18th May – was a memorable experience. As always TEDx-es live by the quality of their speakers. The wonderful venue of Teatr Polski only added to the sense of quality.
Andrzej Lubowski gave a great talk last week which I want to share, am summarizing, and adding my own notes to.
His bio from TEDxWarsaw is as follows “Our next speaker, Andrzej Lubowski, moderated first ever TV debates between Solidarity and the communist government of Poland in 1981. He’s the author of i.a. “Zbig. The Man Who Cracked the Kremlin” currently on the path of writing a new book. A Varsovian by birth and upbringing, Andrzej has lived in the USA since 1982 where he worked in senior executive positions for major international companies. He has served as an adviser and a board member in American and European companies as well as non-profit organizations. “
This is what he said.
1 Don’t take “No” for an answer (giving the example of Decca turning down The Beatles in 1962) If you really believe in your idea – persist, don’t give up, keep going.
2 Challenge the status quo wisely – (Driving on the wrong side of the road is an example of a stupid way to challenge the status quo). But don’t just accept things the way they are. He quoted the extraordinary Elon Musk who not only realised that if humankind is to move to other planets we have to learn how to to make rockets reusable, but set to work to make it happen with Space X. Read (listen to or watch) Elon Musk being interviewed by Chris Anderson at TED here
3. Learn from the best. Andrzej had a fascinating job of being “global head of benchmarking” – There is nothing wrong with copying good or best practice. Make sure you know what you are trying to optimize and bench mark.
4. Communication is vital – and the messenger has to fit the message. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. listening is a vital communication skill (note to self – try not to talk so much). When Wayne Calloway asked Andrzej to introduce changes at Pepsico having done a global benchmarking study – (I think – need to check this once the talk goes on line) Andrzej disagreed with the the process and told Wayne that the person who led the change process had to be someone who would have authority with the Vice Presidents who needed to make the changes. He found the CEO of TI (I think) to do this and it made all the difference. This is an incredibly valuable insight that I have known intuitively but never seen articulated
5. Change is painful – and people will find ways to avoid it if they can. This is so true
6. Develop the image of a burning platform Create a sense that the platform or bridge you are on is on fire, is burning. Once people understand that they are or might be on a burning bridge they will (should) be more ready to change. This is a very valuable idea. whether we are looking at environmental challenges like reducing our dependence on fuels that put carbon into the atmosphere. Understanding how free countries need to adapt to deal with threat of unconventional and information warfare from Russia. Being in any business which has to adapt to the impact of the internet – think bookshops, taxi companies, hotels, most of my businesses… The image that the status quo is dangerous – – your bridge is on fire – is a powerful metaphor for the imperative to change.
7 Find and surround yourself with people with positive energy. Essential. So true. When I have invested in businesses it is one of my criteria. A working success and productive life is bound to be full of challenges. it is so easy to lose faith. Positivity, optimism, generosity in the people around you will make a huge difference and keep you going. Positive energy is necessary but not sufficient in my view. I want reference the extraordinary talk by Ashton Kutcher at Teen Choice Awards (the start of this talk is anything but promising, but watching the whole talk is 5 minutes well spent – I promise you). Ashton says that the three most important lessons he had to share were that “opportunities looks a lot like work, 2 that being smart, thoughtful and generous is what makes someone ‘sexy’ (see the video to understand the context), and 3. that ordinary people can shape the world we live in.
I was making notes about this talk from about half way through and started thinking as Andrzej was concluding… meaning that I missed his summary where he said something about the need to be emotionally prepared if you want to change the world.
I am guessing that this was to do with the fact that it you need to be tough.. I am going to find out how he concluded but for now this is as far as I have got. Thanks Andrzej and the TEDxWarsaw team for sharing these ideas. Yet another positive impact on my life
Once the talk goes on line – (as all TEDx talks must by their Creative Commons licence) – I will post a link. The first TED talk I remember ever watching – by Richard Baraniuk – was about the Creative Commons) The wonderful TED Open Translation Project will make this available in Polish for sure. and I’ll do the English transcription. I’ve only transcribed one talk so far – It is many hours work which makes me appreciate the OTP all the more.