Jim Collins on The Value of Small Gestures, Unseen Sources of Power, and More (#483)

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The most treasured gifts in the world are kind words spontaneously tendered.

— Jim Collins

Jim Collins (jimcollins.com) is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter-century in rigorous research, he has authored or co-authored six books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, the #1 bestseller that examines why some companies make the leap to superior results, and its companion work Good to Great and the Social Sectors; the enduring classic Built to Last, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which is about thriving in chaos—why some do and others don’t.

And now he’s updating his debut book, Beyond Entrepreneurship, for the twenty-first century. Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company is now available.

Please enjoy this round two with Jim Collins! (And if you haven’t already, make sure to check out round one here.)

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by GiveWell.org, producers of the world’s top research on charities and effective giving, Tonal smart home gym, and Wealthfront automated investing. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear Jim’s first appearance on this show? Check out our conversation in which we discuss genuine humility versus false humility, discipline in service of creativity, maximizing those hours of creativity with a spreadsheet, the cognitive benefits of a well-timed nap, “who luck,” doom loops and flywheels, and much more.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Jim Collins:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly.

  • Jim is well-known for asking good questions, so he was wondering: in what ways has my former entrepreneurship professor Ed Zschau been such a major influence in my life, and what has his colorful story taught me about the potential to really accelerate after age 60?
  • After recently re-reading The 4-Hour Workweek, Jim wonders what keeps me going these days, and what’s changed for me in the 15 years since that book was written?
  • What’s the point allocation between dark force motivations and light force motivations?
  • Since Jim and I were both admitted into college by Dean Fred Hargadon, why does he think I got into Princeton, and what nuggets of wisdom did Dean Fred impart to him?
  • Why you should never hesitate to reach out to mentors and people who have been instrumental in shaping your life.
  • As someone who grew up with a fondness for biographies, which ones have been particularly influential to Jim–as examples of paths to follow as well as avoid? What does he find compelling about arcs that go in either direction?
  • As someone I consider to be a craftsman of questions, what type of questions has Jim found to be effective at pulling their weight, and how does he arrive at them? Perhaps most important: how does he set the conditions to ensure their lessons stick?
  • Who is Bill Lazier, and why is he worth having a conversation about? What life lessons has Jim taken away from his time with Bill–particularly regarding trust and, of all things, enjoying the butter on your waffles even if it kills you?
  • Comparing and contrasting West Point Cadets with MBA students.
  • What is the Stockdale Paradox, and how did it come about?
  • We revisit Jim’s creativity-tracking spreadsheet from our last conversation and examine the role volatility plays in the daily figures, along with the patterns that can be discerned from these figures over time.
  • As mere mortals, most of us all fall into the trap of comparing our own processes and accomplishments with those of others. But to whom do people as unique as Jim and one of his mentors–Stanford professor Michael Ray–compare themselves, and how do they break free from this counterproductive practice?
  • What is the 20-Minute Rule?
  • What Jim’s preparation mode looks like in practice, and how he keeps tabs on his to-dos, stop-dos, and prep-dos without overly complicating the process.
  • What does Jim’s stop-do list look like?
  • How and why Jim compiled 30 years of work into a consolidated map of concepts.
  • To Jim, are there any companies that exemplify these concepts in action?
  • The value of clock building over time telling.
  • Will the entrepreneur become the builder? Jim’s thoughts on an important choice all successful founders will eventually have to make.
  • Jim talks about his first encounter with Rochelle Myers, who he thinks of as “a cross between Socrates and Yoda,” and the important questions she taught him to ask himself.
  • What would you stop doing if you only had a short time to live?
  • What would Jim’s billboard say?
  • Parting thoughts on mentors, John McPhee’s Old Man Project, and Jim’s next big question.

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.