E219: Dr. Warren Bennis on This Week in Startups

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Click here to stream the audio version of Part I of this episode.
Click here to stream the video version of Part I of this episode.

Click here to stream the audio version of Part II of this episode.
Click here to stream the video version of Part II of this episode. 

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TWiST was thrilled to welcome the man who literally wrote the book on leadership, Dr. Warren Bennis. In a wide-ranging interview spanning from Warren’s days in the service to his current work as an author, Jason and Warren had a candid discussion on what makes a leader great–and what happens when great leaders fail.

This episode is split into two parts. Part I is the video above. Part II can be found here.

Part I
0:00-1:15 Welcome to the program. Today we have the legendary leader Dr. Warren Bennis with us.
1:15-2:30 Dr. Bennis has been writing about leadership for longer than some of our other guests have been alive.
2:30-3:00 You are a serial author, yes?
3:00-5:00 Warren: My favorite author on leadership is William Shakespeare.
5:45-11:30 Thank you to SurveyMonkey for sponsoring the show. Everyone remember to thank them @SurveyMonkey.
11:30-12:15 Does a leader have to have had multiple previous successes for people to consider them a leader?
12:15-14:00 Warren leads an exercise in leadership role play: Jason’s a young entrepreneur with an MBA and Warren is interviewing him.
15:45-18:30 Is leadership something that can be taught?
18:30-19:30 “The key is finding meaning and purpose to matter what your role or job.”
19:30-20:45 “Entrepreneurs are the authors of their own lives.”
20:45-22:15 “Leadership means you don’t get to say ‘I don’t feel like it.'”
22:15-22:45 How does a leader push forward when they don’t things will necessarily end so well?
22:45-24:45 “The first task of a leader is to define reality.”
24:45-26:15 Some people say to be an entrepreneur you have to be delusional, to a certain extent. Is that true?
26:15-29:45 “I’d rather think of it as bold and risk-prone as opposed to delusional.”
29:45-32:45 Let’s talk about flaws in leadership. Do you have to be a jerk to be successful?
32:45-34:30 How do you get five great leaders to become a great team? Are leaders generally not good followers?
34:30-35:30 “The qualities that made you a good follower are what will enable you to become a good leader.”
35:30-39:00 Warren discusses Bob Townsend and his work as a writer and leader at Avis.
39:00-40:15 Warren discusses the characteristics that have helped him in his career, the chief of which he believes is his capacity of engage others.
40:15-42:00 We’ve seen a tremendous lack of leadership in this country. Why do you think this is?
42:00-44:00 Warren explains why his pick for leader of the year for 2011 was Angela Merkel.
44:00-45:45 Discussion of Obama’s failures as a leader (“no sounds bites”) and the lessons to take from that.

Part II
0:00-9:00 What was the most memorable experience you had as a solider? (Warren recounts when he became a platoon leader in the war and how he established himself as someone who stood with his men.)
9:00-12:15 Thank you to MailChimp for sponsoring the show. Everyone remember to thank them @MailChimp.
12:15-13:45 Did you regret your position when you realized the risk you were taking?
13:45-14:45 Warren: Is that your job, Jason, to make people interesting?
14:45-17:45 Warren discusses examples of leaders who mastered the art of listening (Ghandi and Falstaff).
17:45-20:15 The lesson of Larry Summers, the youngest tenured professor at Harvard, who was a failure as president of the university.
20:15-21:15 Warren relates a conversation he once had with Howard Schultz who said that his goal was to have 2000 Starbucks locations by the year 2000.
21:15-24:15 Do the leaders you’ve met have a certain paranoia about being blindsided by competition?
24:15-28:00 What do people need to remember if they want to be a great leader? (Hint: you have to want it very, very much.)
28:00-29:00 Is it worth all the personal sacrifice to become a leader?
29:00-30:00 “Never appoint someone who to a position of power who can’t live without it.”–George Schultz
30:00-31:00 Warren’s parting thought: The painter Goya has a work that depicts an old man forging ahead with the caption, “I am still learning.”
31:00-31:30 Dr. Bennis, thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll see you all next time.

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