From its beginning until now, Craigslist’s simple design is to grow in small increments that listened to what the people was asking it to do for them. It has become a huge site with its founder Craig Newmark who started the company as a way to reciprocate and participate in the online community. All he knew back then was that he was helping the people that helped him through a simple mailing list. And since he was a programmer, he turned the lists into web pages that had instant publishing. With his business in a good place, Craig is focusing his energy towards trustworthy journalism as well women in tech and voting rights. Learn how he plans to battle media manipulation and information warfare.
It is a rare thing to see a boomer and a millennial collaborating. But this is one rarity that Dov Baron loves because he believes that millennials rock. They have an entrepreneurial mind geared towards innovation at all time. Learn how Dov keeps them loyal and interested to keep working with him.
On this episode, we have Craig Newmark and Dov Baron. Craig is the Craig behind Craigslist. It’s going to be fascinating to hear the story behind how he became such a success with his company. Then we’re going to speak to Dov. If you haven’t heard of Dov, it’s hard to imagine because he has made Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers and so many people from my show who I’ve interviewed had endorsed him and his latest book. Larry Winget, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Joe Calloway, Mark Sanborn and the list goes on and on of people who’ve endorsed his most recent book. We’re going to talk to him about that. It’s going to be a great show.
Listen to the podcast here:
Trustworthy Journalism And Millenial Entreprenuers with Craig Newmark
I am here with Craig Newmark who is the founder of Craigslist. After being laid off from Charles Schwab in 1995, he used his severance package to create a mailing list of San Francisco Art and Technology events. Craig is a web pioneer, philanthropist, and leading advocate on behalf of trustworthy journalism, voting rights, veterans and military families, and other civic and social justice causes. In 2017, he became a Founding Funder and Executive Committee member of News Integrity Initiative administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism which seeks to advance the literacy and increase trust in journalism. You are the Craig, and some people don’t realize that there is a Craig behind Craigslist. You have quite an interesting story. I was watching some of your interviews and your sense of humor cracked me up. You have an interesting way about you. For the few people out there who haven’t heard this story, what led to Craigslist? Did you have any idea that what you were starting to do was going to turn into anything major?
I didn’t have any clue like that for a few years. I started a simple mailing list with the idea of giving back. Since a lot of people had helped me out, so I was reciprocating and participating in the online community.
It’s such a huge site. What interests me about Craigslist is the fact that you’ve maintained the simple design throughout these years. I think I’ve heard you say you like simple simplicity. You seem to lead a humble existence and your site is that way as well. What drives the design choice for you? Will you make it change? Will you add more bells and whistles or is this pretty much what you want from it?
The basic philosophy is people need stuff which is simple and fast and gets the job done. Way back twenty years ago, I realized that I don’t know any fancy design skills but I do know how to keep things simple, fast, and effective. I started things that way. Jim Buckmaster, CEO since 2000, he’s just maintained that philosophy: simple, fast, effective.
It’s such a huge thing and there are so many things on Craigslist. What can’t you find that’s legal on Craigslist? Is it just about everything?
I would imagine so but this is dictated by the community, not by us. The philosophy is pro-social. It is community-based. Sometimes people in the community tell us to avoid some categories like guns, so that decision was made in ’98. Generally, people choose themselves. That’s what user-generated content is.
How did it come about that it changed into this massive thing? What did you foresee for this? Was this just to make it convenient for you to keep track of things in the beginning? How did it snowball?
It started with a simple events list. People asked for more categories. I added those. At one point in ‘95 or ’96, I realized that, “I’m a programmer. I can write codes that turn these emails into web pages and I had an instant publishing.”It just grew from there. People in the community made suggestions. I tried to figure out what made sense and what was doable. Jim continued that tradition. What we do is driven by what people want and need rather than what seems to be fancy.
Did it ever feel out of control like it’s just too big and you couldn’t handle it and it became overwhelming to you?
Never like that because it’s always been the matter of growth in small increments. To that matter, now and then we add a new chunk of functionality. We often don’t announce it. It’s just there. Again, it’s just all incremental useful stuff. No leads for fancy.
When did it start becoming monetized? At what point did you make money off of it?
Towards the end of ’97, I think. Job posters were asking us to charge them for job postings. We experimented with it in ‘98 and then we got serious about it when I made it into a real company. That was a time of some tough decisions. Bankers and VCs were telling me I could walk away with a few billion if I did the usual thing. Instead, I monetized minimally. That’s why the site charges for very little. Nevertheless, doing well by doing good can be a viable business model, so we actually have done really well.
I assume you weren’t a billionaire before this. How has your life changed from this?
My life has changed very little. I don’t like people thinking I’m a billionaire.
Let’s say it’s a great exaggeration. Now I’m free to give away a lot of money to charity in a number of areas. Frankly, I’m getting another place to live in New York because that’s the center of gravity for my family and it’s the center of gravity for all my philanthropy.
You are very much into philanthropy which is great to see. What draws you to a cause?
Just common sense needs for people. I seem to have stumbled onto the idea that I should support people who are helping other people protect this country. I’m trying to help people out when it comes to matters of fairness, that kind of thing. For example, right now actually journalists, reporters who report in good faith protect us against disinformation. They tell us what’s going on and they act as watchdogs, which is why I’m helping out in a big way there. On the other hand, I’ve seen in my industry women in technology are often not treated fairly. What I’ve done is found people and groups who are doing a good job of supporting that and doing what I can to help out. That also includes supporting vets and their families and for that matter, the voting rights. The idea is to help people doing good work in matters that protect us all.
You mentioned women in technology. They always say they want to get more women interested in technology. Why do you think we don’t have as many as we should or do you not think that?
I don’t have a good explanation for that. I don’t know if anyone does. I do see a fair amount of harassment online and that’s why I’m working on that with groups like Wikipedia which has a large project towards covering harassment. I’m now talking to people in journalism trying to figure out what the patterns of harassment are and how does that relates also to disinformation. Because it looks like the trolls who harass people are also often the trolls who post disinformation. I’m trying to do basics but in reality I’ve actually turned over a lot of the work here to people who’ve been doing women in technology work for years like Allyson Kapin who runs Women Who Tech out of Washington. I’m also working a lot with the Girls Who Code people, particularly Reshma Saujani.
That must be very interesting because I’ve had Roya Mahboob on my show who developed an internet training company in Afghanistan for women. There are so many women that really want to learn more about technology but it seems like you keep hearing more and more that they’re not getting as many people as they’d like. I’m fascinated with the work you do. I’m fascinated by you as a person individually. I’ve watched your interviews and you don’t give very detailed responses about your personal life. You hold back a little bit. I’m curious to know more about your personality. What is your day like? What are your hobbies outside of this job and this computer world?
First, I’ll give credit to Roya. I also worked with her. She does great work for women and girls of Afghanistan. For me personally, I am an old school nerd, plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped to me, no social skills. That was me in high school. Even now, what you’re hearing is only a simulation of social skills. My only saving grace socially, as one of my managers used to tell me at IBM, is that I may have a sense of humor. My deal is basically, I just do the work that needs to be done, then I’ll indulge myself in something that I enjoy, maybe chatting with friends. I read a great deal, a lot of it is science fiction, and I watch a fair amount of TV. Although I seem to be doing a lot of the British stuff now, in part because with Netflix and other streaming services, I’m catching up with years of really good British TV that I never knew about. I get to see an early premier of Blade Runner 2049.The original Blade Runner is perhaps my favorite movie and I’m excited about the new one. All the reviews are really good.
You got me curious. Are you Star Trek or Star Wars?
Both of them have advantages and flaws. I might tilt a little towards Star Trek since I started watching the original on its very first moments of existence on TV, because I am that old. When you’re eleven, Star Trek is great science fiction. You don’t realize how bad some of the acting and special effects are until your 20’s or 30’s.
Then we got to go with Jean-Luc or Jim Kirk?
Jean-Luc is much better as a captain but I did see an episode of Star Trek original recently and William Shatner is better than I remember him.
I’m a bit of a Trekkie and I love the Sci-Fi thing too. I teach for a technology school, so I have a lot of students who are techies and they share all their gaming examples with me. I’m not much of a gamer but I think that the technology field though is just really a lot of fun to be in. One of my first jobs was actually as a VAR with IBM. You mentioned IBM before and we’ve seen quite a bit of changes since then. That was 1985. When did when did Craigslist start?
Craigslist started in early ’95, pretty much from my departure from Charles Schwab. Again, back then, it was a very simple mailing list.
They laid you off because they were laying everybody off or what was the reason for that?
There was some kind of panic and I was lucky I got a generous payout. This was San Francisco in early ‘95 just when the dot-com business was starting big.
I think that it was a definite good move for you. I’m just fascinated by your success with this. Was it always going to be Craigslist? Did anybody try to get you to change the name?
When I started, it didn’t have a name. In the middle of ’95, when I had to use a LISTSERV, which was Majordomo, I had to give it a name. As a nerd, I’m pretty literal. I was going to call it San Francisco Events. People around me though told me that I had inadvertently created a brand because they called it Craigslist and that after explaining to me what a brand was, I decided that if that made sense, it would keep it personal and quirky. They were right. Actually, other people named it. They made it personal which meant that I was committed.
You’ve managed to stay under the radar. Do people recognize you on the street or do you get by pretty well without that?
I’m not sure. Sometimes people do but not a lot. I have a feeling and my wife tells me, sometimes people do recognize me and she notices it but I’m oblivious to it.
You don’t have people hounding you though?
I have had some hounding but not much of it.
What’s your lifestyle now that you’re not what you say is a billionaire but you’re awfully up there compared to probably where you were? Did you change your lifestyle much based on your success?
I don’t have much of a lifestyle. A lot of it is hanging around with a few friends, let’s say, at a coffeehouse. For that matter, I need to find another one or two coffeehouses in Greenwich Village to hang out.
How about private jets and that type of thing?
Not interested. Now and then, I’ll fly in business class or the equivalent. Most of the time, where I find greatest satisfaction now is actually getting something done that means something. For example, I’m supporting trustworthy good faith journalism in a whole bunch of ways. It looks like my focus will have to do with figuring out what’s the deal with media manipulation and information warfare. Then supporting the groups who do the best job in understanding that and then countering it, but countering it from the grassroots up, rather than the top-down governmental stuff.
How do you keep control when there are just so many outlets? If somebody posts something, somebody grabs it and goes with it and then it’s everywhere. How do you stop that?
You don’t control things but if you see something like fake news, that’s a problem. I’m working with the International Fact-Checking Network and others, trying to find the best ways to counter fake news, and then trying to neutralize it without reinforcing it. Sometimes, when you repeat a lie, even if you’re debunking it, sometimes people will only remember a lie especially if it was built by professionals. Even this very day, I think Facebook is in Washington talking about progress with this. I actually do speak with Facebook and Google and others very quietly about how we can work together with all this. Then I work with groups who are trying to figure out where is the problem coming from and maybe how do we stop it at its source.
What got you interested in this in the first place? Have you had fake stories written about you or somebody you know?
It’s all of the above. In high school, I had a history teacher who taught us a lot about the role of a press in the democracy. The way I usually articulate his lesson is that a trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy. That’s very much in my head. In Sunday school, I learned that you shouldn’t bear false witness. Frankly, some years ago, I was hit by a very ugly fake news attack. Rather than whine about it, I figured I’ll help solve the problem.
Why do you think you were hit with that attack?
Let’s say I was hit as a diversionary maneuver in a cover up which I can’t articulate. The bottom line for me personally is that I could complain or I could help solve the problem, and solving the problem takes longer but feels better.
I imagine being in the limelight, you’re going to capture everybody’s attention. You’re going to get the crazies out there that like to cause trouble. How do you deal with that at the end of the day? Are you able to let it go? When you read something negative like that, does it just get under your skin?
It’s a combination of things. The normal response is to let it go and sometimes you don’t want to engage with a troll even if they’re a professional troll. Sometimes ignoring that is the best approach. When it comes to fake news in the sense of actual information warfare, I find the people who are doing a good job preparing for it and then I support them with whatever influence I have and often with large cash contributions.
Speaking of crazy, I’m just curious about your ads that you’ve probably had to deal with or the people have posted on the site. What’s the craziest? Is there something in mind that stands out that somebody tried to put on Craigslist?
I have an old favorite which I have never forgotten because it’s funny. This goes back about fifteen years. Somebody posted an ad trying to hire someone else to take the CPA ethics test for her. That’s always been my favorite.
I had a student once that submitted a paper and at the bottom it said, “Thank you for purchasing this paper. That’ll be $15.” She was just so mad at me for giving her a plagiarism warning on that one. It’s always fun to see what people try to do. Have you had to deal with scary things on Craigslist that you hadn’t anticipated?
There have been a number of things, some of which I don’t want to talk much about because anything I say could help these people gain the system. People are always trying to run scams and spams everywhere through the net and my deal is that I talk with people doing trust and safety work at other sites. The closest I’ve ever come is disclosing some stuff to a researcher at University of Pennsylvania. Her name is Jessa Lingel. A few months ago, she posted some things on Slate that we were pretty sure couldn’t help out the bad guys. You can look up that thing by Jessa Lingel and it’s about What Facebook Can Learn From Craigslist on Slate.com. That is probably the most revealing we’ve ever been about this.
You have so many things that your site has accomplished. I interviewed Steve Forbes and he said that your site basically took down the classifieds, and I’ve seen you say that that’s a mythology. Do you want to dress that?
I’m not a news professional so I’ve gone to news professionals asking them, “Is there any evidence that we had a significant effect?”Nowadays, when they want to get their brief, they just point to a chart of newspaper ad revenue and the great drop-off in revenue is around 2007 and 2008 which correlates with Google becoming a thing and then a little later, Facebook becoming a thing. I keep asking for evidence. No one has shown me any. However, they’ve shown me a great correlation in terms of newspaper ad revenue with the advent of Google and Facebook. I’m a little confused. I’m keeping an open mind looking for that evidence, I haven’t found it.
It’s hard to find evidence. I was looking for that as well but I think that you’ve definitely had an impact. It’s got to make you feel good at the end of the day that you were able to do something that’s so impactful and that you’ve helped so many people. Do you think about it? It’s so small in retrospect and the way you talk about it, but it’s so big.
I know what you mean. Now that I reflect that I started something, which is helped people in the tens of millions or more and we’ve added substantially to the US economy, and that’s nice to think about but then it’s back to work.
What can you do to top yourself at this point?
I’m planning nothing in terms of commercial work. All my energies now outside of Craigslist are focused on these philanthropies and my initiatives, again, like trustworthy good faith journalism, Women in Tech, veterans and their families, and voting rights. Now and then, I’ll contribute to something just because it strikes me as a good thing. I love birds and I have a sense of humor so I contribute to pigeon rescue.
I liked your reference to Costanza on one of your interviews. Are you a Seinfeld fan?
Very much so. In fact, I’m looking forward to Jerry’s new special. Comedy is a big thing for me. It’s bigger for me than music with the exception of Leonard Cohen who’s pretty much my rabbi.
What’s your favorite television comedy that’s on now?
I haven’t thought it through very much. Simpsons is really big for me and there’s a show called You’re the Worst, which appeals to the darker side of my comedy.
I don’t know that one. Are you a Big Bang Theory fan?
No. I tried watching it and it’s too painful.
In what respect? Just the humor?
It reminds me of me during bad years.
How are you on Woody Allen? Is that good? You’re a New Yorker, right?
I do like his earlier funny movies and things out of the cliché but there is truth in it. Nowadays, I guess I’ve moved on for all sorts of reasons. I do watch a lot of TV. I do love TV.
How can people find out more of what you’re doing and if they want to contribute to any of these funds and your charities? Can you share some of that information with my audience?
The fastest way right now is to look at CraigConnects.org. I should warn people that we’re working on a big change and improvement but I don’t want to preannounce it. It’s something else, I don’t want to annoy my team.
They could find what they need there though, right?
Let’s just say I don’t want to get another team spanking. They’d be right, so I want to avoid it.
Are you going to write a book or anything coming out soon?
Nothing like that. I should write a book. I don’t know if I have the energy.
I think that it would be fascinating. This was wonderful. Thank you, Craig. It’s so nice of you to do this show and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
Thanks. I appreciate it.
Trustworthy Journalism And Millenial Entreprenuers with Dov Baron
I am here with Dov Baron who is the headline speaker for Global Conferences on Leadership. He is an interactive presenter. He’s got a style that captivates and energizes and he is fascinating to watch. He’s a revolutionary thinker with a communications style that Inc. Magazine listed as the Top 100 Leadership Speakers to hire. He has advised the United Nations, he writes for CNN, CBS, SHRM. The list is so long, I would spend the whole day just listing it. It’s so nice to have you here, Dov.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much for inviting me.
I didn’t realize you were in Canada until we just started to say hello. Is that your home or have you just recently moved there?
This is my base. I have lived here longer than I lived anywhere else in the world but as you can probably tell from my labradoodle accent, I’m not from here. I came here from Australia. Before that, I was in Asia, in Indonesia. Before that, I lived in New Brunswick in East Coast Canada. Before that I was in France and Italy and I was born in the UK. That’s why it’s a labradoodle accent.
I’ve been going through some of your past presentations and you are extremely dynamic. I was watching the audience and they’re just captivated by every word. It’s really fun to watch your videos and I loved it. I know you have your site, and the Full Monty Leadership is your name for it. Can you give me a little background on how you came up with that?
I was sitting down with a very good friend of mine and he was a mentor at the time. We were redesigning the platform that we had. He’s really good at drilling down and he said, “What is it that people would say about you?” We did a lot of research. We asked a lot of questions on what people said, “How do you describe Dov? How do you describe the way he is?” We’d get answers like, “Dov is the real deal. Dov doesn’t pull punches,” those kinds of things. On the other side, Dov is deeply loving and caring and compassionate and empathetic. We were very confused about it. I just started saying to people, “If you could just say it in the simplest way, what it would be?” He said, “No bullshit and doesn’t take any.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “He just asks you to be as real as he is going to be real.” We had that conversation and my friend and I were talking about a movie we’d seen few years before which was called Full Monty. As you probably remember, it was a great funny film about a bunch of poor English guys who ended up going full monty in order to make a living and stripping everything else. That is the essence of what the leadership style is that I teach, is leading without the cover, leading without the status, leading without all that stuff we do that we hide behind. Let’s get really naked and reveal ourselves for the truths of who we are and the message that we’ve got to deliver. That’s what makes the impact. That’s what connects us together.
What is your background that you got to this point that you know so much to help people with their leadership style? You’re a culture expert, you talk about millennials. I was looking at all the different things and listening to the things you said. Can you just give me a background because I’m sure people would be interested in that?
I do think we have that long. The reason I was traveling so much was because I wanted to study different philosophies. That was my thing. I studied Vedanta which is a Hindu philosophy, Kabbalah which is a Jewish philosophy, Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism and the Dao. Those were the main ones that I studied. When I studied all those things, I was deeply immersed in all of that and got really irritated with people who could tell me which way my chakra was spinning but they couldn’t hold a job and they certainly couldn’t hold a relationship. I was fascinated by that and started studying psychology to understand that. That led me to the Psychology of Excellence. In ’84, I stumbled into quantum physics and started studying that. I became a counselor, I became a therapist. There are all those backgrounds. Combine that with the leadership and excellence studying, that was where it all came from, this deep understanding of psychology. I wrote a dissertation on quantum physics, metaphysics and psychology and the intersection between them. It really influenced me, how people work individually and collectively, what happens when we come together as our tribe.
I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. I’m very interested in the psychological aspects and personality aspects in leadership. I was fascinated by your talks about millennials. There is a disconnect sometimes between the different generations of what each group expects. You said that millennials don’t trust big business and they change careers and jobs faster. What do we need to know about millennials, for people who are not millennials to make sure that we understand how to get along?
The number one thing to learn about millennials is this. They are awesome. I love millennials. I describe them as baby boomers with balls. I don’t mean to insult anybody but what I mean by that is that as baby boomers, we all said, “We’re never going to work for the man,” and then we all became the man. What I love about millennials is they had the same basic core values that we forgot in that they want to make a difference. Hippies wanted to make the difference. They wanted to change the world. Millennials do, too. We think of them as entitled. They’re not entitled at all. They are actually people who deeply care about how we live, the difference in the world that we live in. They’re entrepreneurial-minded. They’re innovative-minded. They learn fast and they can teach us a lot. I think millennials rock and you’ve got to do your best to really take the time to get to know them. It’s very important for them to have cause. It’s very important for them to have purpose-driven, meaningful work. If you can bring that to them, they will serve you beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.
How do you keep a millennial loyal if they pretty much anticipate moving around every few years? That’s just what they do.
One of the great challenges is, and I wrote my last book on it which was called Fiercely Loyal, it was it was about millennials are changing jobs every one and a half to two years. When we entered the workforce, we being my generation, we were asked, “What do you want to do?” and it was a 20 to 40-year career question. For millennials, it’s four-year question. Ten times faster, they’re changing careers. First of all, understanding that if you’re going to keep a millennial long-term, four years is long term. Your ROI on them is one and a half to two times their annual salary. If you don’t keep them for two years, you’re losing money. What we do is we help you to keep them loyal. What does it take? Again, meaningful work. You’ve got to give them meaningful work. They’re entrepreneurial. If you’re inside of your company, create an entrepreneurial environment so that entrepreneurial inside your environment adding to it. Make sure it’s meaningful work but make sure that you’re a purpose-driven organization that is about something more than the money. That matters deeply to them. Be collaborative. So much of old school business is about competition and keeping the competition at a distance. No. Millennials want to collaborate with the competition and they build great, great alliances. Once you do that, once you put those things in place and then on top of all that, most importantly, is that you are a purpose-driven, authentic leader yourself. One of the things I love, love, love about millennials is they have a bullshit meter the size of Spain. They’re reading you. If you’re pulling the wool over their eyes, they will walk away. They’re not afraid. Your organization is not their best and only offer and they know that and I love that about them.
It’s really interesting because you talk a lot about purpose. I was watching some of the audience members, how they reacted to wanting to know about their life purpose. Why do you think it’s so important? Do you think most people know what their life purpose is? Why do we need to know that?
There’s a thing I do and you’ve seen me do this in the audience is that I ask the audience, “How important do you think it might to know your life’s purpose and how do you think it would affect your business?”Everybody puts up their hand and says it’s important. Then I ask, “How many of you know your life purpose?” Usually, it’s about 20%of the audience. I’ve done this in workshops, if I actually asked that person who put their hand up and said yes, when I ask them what it is, they don’t really know. They have an idea but they don’t really know. The interesting thing about life purpose is that there’s a place where we get success. Unfortunately, success is short-lived for all of us. Something happens. It’s wonderful, you celebrate it, but then what’s the next thing? Then there’s that place of purpose. Purpose is so much different because it gives us fulfillment. It adds that extra piece on the top. If you’re looking at your life and you’re successful when people look at you, “This is who I mentor,” if people look at you and they look up they can go, “I wish I was you.” When people ask you what you’re doing and you describe it and they go, “That’s really exciting,” and you think, “Really? Aren’t you feeling a bit bored with it?”That means you’re off purpose. You can’t reach that level of fulfillment without purpose.
Here’s what’s interesting about it. Your passion will shift. People think that passion and purpose are the same thing. They’re not. They’re vastly different. People think they know their purpose because they know their passion, but it’s different. The example I’ll give with this is going to be very direct. If you were meant to do your passion for a living for the rest of your life, then I would be in the business of gynecology because at fifteen, that’s exactly what I was passionate about like every fifteen-year-old straight boy. Passion is transitory. It moves through us, but purpose is deep. Purpose is soulful. Purpose is always there and it’s the thread of what we’re passionate about. It’s finding that part of us that wants to connect deeply with other human beings and serve them. The amazing thing that I love about it is when you’re truly on purpose, you heal your own soul and you heal the soul of others while making a massive difference in the world and being so very successful.
I think that there are a lot of people that can learn about discovering more about themselves. Did you say something about sociopaths that they should stop reading at this point in your book? I was reading your book and I loved that. They say a certain percentage of CEOs are, right?
Absolutely. The research showed that the number career in the world for sociopaths is CEO. It’s not even lawyers. I’m surprised. If you are going to be authentic, you’ve got to be about something bigger than yourself and your own ego.
How do you know what your purpose is? What do you tell people how to discover it?
There are several ways. I want you to imagine for a moment that you’re dead and that you get to be floating around as some ethereal being at your own funeral. We’ve all been to funerals. When you stand at a funeral, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but the person delivering the eulogy has a job and that job is to deify and canonize you. The person who’s dead gets canonized. If the person who’s dead is Bob and Bob was an ass all of his life but he did something nice once, then the eulogy would be focused on that one thing. That’s just what happens. We canonize the dead. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to imagine what they’re saying at the front of the room that’s so wonderful and kind and marvelous about you. All I want you to do is I want you to float to the back of the room to the back pews where the people don’t have to say nice things about you, where the people in the back are going to say the things that you would absolutely hate them to say or fear that they would say even if there’s no real sense of why they would say that.
I’ll give you mine. At the front of the room, the people would say, “Dov was extremely courageous. He was very passionate. He was purpose-driven and committed to helping other people be on purpose so that he could touch and live that deep greatness that lies dormant within us all to make a better world.” That’s what I would want them to say as they canonize Dov. As I float to the back of the room, when I listen to the pews, there’s no reason for them to say this but it’s my fear and fear is powerful if you use it right. In the back pews, they’re whispering, “He was a freaking coward.”Every single day, I know my purpose is to be courageous in helping people to fulfill their purpose and live from that place of deep gratitude. This is what’s interesting and I want everybody to grasp it. Your purpose is always hidden behind your pain. The pain you don’t want to look at is where your purpose is hidden. As Joseph Campbell said, “The dark cave you fear looking into is where the treasure of who you are lays.”
You could figure out you don’t want to be thought of as not courageous but then what do you do at that point once you discover what it is?
Every day I have to wake up and decide to be courageous. That’s number one. I’ve always got to be courageous. What does being courageous mean? I’m guessing, a different personality than many of the people you have on here. I know you have fabulous guests. I’ve actually looked at your guest list. You have amazing people and I’m honored to be here. To be courageous means, aside from anything else, I’ve not got to train and transform myself into who is the ideal guest for Diane. I’m going to be me. That’s often very courageous because we live in a world where people are trying to tell us who we’re supposed to be. I don’t wear the uniform. I’ve been speaking for 30-odd years. I have the earrings that I’ve had since I was fifteen years old. I don’t wear a suit and tie. I do swear and some of you might have noticed that. None of it is for effect. This is who I am. I care deeply about people. I care deeply about leadership. I care deeply about the difference we can all make. Me trying to be something else is a coward’s way. Every day that challenges for me to be courageous in saying what I believe is the truth that will make the greatest difference.
Have you always been charismatic like this or was it something you had to develop as part of being a speaker?
My wife still doesn’t believe me but my nature is that I’m actually shy. I still feel shyness. That’s part of how I know it’s courageous. My natural tendency is to go into the room and not say anything and be quiet.
Sometimes I feel the same way but when you take a personality test, you probably come out as an extrovert though I would imagine, don’t you?
No. I come out as an extroverted introvert.
On the scale, are you in between the two?
No. I’ve done all kinds of different tests and that’s the one that comes out is that I’m naturally an introvert who has developed extrovert behavior. When I think about myself as a child, I was the kid who hid behind my mom’s leg. I wasn’t the talkative one. I was never the cool kid in school. People didn’t hang out with me. In fact, it was really interesting because a relative of mine pointed out that when I was in my first couple of years in high school so I was twelve years old, everybody would come to me with their problems. I remember saying to my mom, “Why do people keep asking me like I know?”I was this psychologist at twelve.
I am very interested in physics as well. We have a lot of things that we share in common. I was the shy one behind my mom and all that, too. I understand what you’re saying. You can be in certain settings and show a certain type of personality. I’m sure there are a lot of CEOs who have to bring out a side to them that maybe isn’t super comfortable. I’m sure Zuckerberg doesn’t revel in being in front of large crowds for example. How do you make yourself become more comfortable in that setting if it’s not natural for you? Do you have any advice for that?
It’s very simple really but it’s got to be about something bigger than you. It’s got to be something bigger than my fear or my anxiety. I have anxiety. I suffered with severe anxiety disorder for a long, long time and depression and all those things. What always brings me out is it’s got to be about something bigger than me. I’m here to serve. That’s number one. I can’t serve hiding behind my mom’s leg metaphorically or real. What I’ve got to decide is that this is about something else bigger than me. My advice to any leader that I work with is if you can reveal the truth of who you are, including your shyness, if you can reveal that, you will bond people to you. One of the great lies we’ve learned is that vulnerability is a weakness. Vulnerability is your greatest strength. If you’re uncomfortable in front of the crowd, stand there and tell them that and then share what you need to share. People will welcome you. People are basically really good and kind. I think people have a lower tolerance for BS than they’ve ever had and that’s great. Be real.
I think people like a little self-deprecation that they can relate to you more sometimes if it’s just a little bit here and there. You just admit that we’re not perfect. I’ve had people on my show who’ve told me, that there was a pretty high number of leaders who really are in fear that people are going to discover that they don’t know as much as people think they know.
More than 70% of high-level achievers in research have been shown to suffer from imposter syndrome.
That’s a pretty high number. Is it that they put too high of expectations on themselves or others are doing this? Where is this high expectation coming from?
This is something that I do a lot of work with. I work one-on-one with leaders who are at that very high level. That is so common, that imposter syndrome. You have to think about it at a basic level. Everybody you meet feels like they don’t quite know enough, that there’s something missing, that they didn’t quite get the memo. I train people to be speakers as well. I work with individuals and with CEOs who want to be speakers and one of the things I say to them is, “You’ve got to understand that they, meaning your audience, they don’t know you, so you’ve got to let them in. Part of letting them in is sharing what it is you don’t know. That allows you to show what you do know.”Don’t ask me about accounting. I don’t know anything about it. If you put me in charge of your accounts, it’s going to be a mess. That’s the simplicity of it. Don’t ask me to do a lot of the things that are not my area. There are things where I have my own level of genius as do each of us. As leaders in the old conditioning, and I know it’s from where I grew up, was as a leader you’re supposed to know everything. That’s a big, fat lie. As a leader, I think we’re actually a little bit contradictory to most people. We do need to be more generalist. We’ve been taught to be in a niche and all the rest of it and that’s fine, but you’ve also got to have a reasonable grasp of the rest. There are things where you’re going to shine in maybe three four or five places, but can’t shine in all the places. You’ve also got to say, “I’m not that great at this but can you give me some insight on that? Diane, can you help me with this?”Again, that vulnerability builds enormous strength. It’s amazing because it takes that, “I don’t know enough,” it takes it way. Then you start to shine for what is really brilliant in you.
I think you could develop that well-roundedness in the people who report to you if you push them a little bit in certain areas and give them a little more responsibility. I’ve found that I don’t like to make people do things that aren’t necessary just because they haven’t done it. A lot of leaders do that. They try to push people past their limits. What do you think about that?
That’s a great insight because this whole thing around playing to people’s strengths I think is vitally important. For those of us who have a background in psychology, we were always trying a fix shit. No, I’m not fixing anything anymore. There’s nothing to fix. I actually fully deeply believe that now. There’s nothing to fix. What we need to do is bring up what’s great. The things that you want to bring up yourself that feel weak, that’s a different story than somebody going, “You need to do this.”No. We’ve got to play to people’s strengths. There are things that you need in life. I don’t need to be brilliant at every form of mathematics but I need to be able to add and subtract and maybe even multiply, but maybe I don’t need it in what it is that I do. I don’t need trigonometry. I think you’ve got to look at what you actually need and build the strengths on that. Play to your strengths. This is where the inadequacy comes from, that feeling of not being enough comes from constantly looking at, “I’m not good enough here.”My question is always this, “Do you need to be?”There’s a wonderful story of Henry Ford when he first started the Ford Company and he was brought in front of Congress because the government gave him a massive contract. It was $5 million, which of course in those days was gigantic. He had to go in front of Congress to prove that he could do it. One of the congressmen said, “Mr. Ford, I’m not sure that you have the financial background to take on a deal like this.” He just looked at him and said, “I don’t but I hired Tom and Tom’s the best in the business.” “Can you speak, Tom?” Tom spoke and then he said, “We’re not sure that you have enough understanding of the industry.” He says, “I don’t, and that’s why I hired Deborah and Deborah does.” Whoever it was, whatever their names were. That’s what made Ford a brilliant leader is he understood that he didn’t have to know it all. He understood, hire the best, make them loyal to you and as Branson said, “Train people so well that they can leave you, and treat them so well that they won’t.”
A lot of the things that you maybe hate right now, you find you might like later. That’s one of the good things about getting old is you start going, “I wish I had paid more attention in my statistics class 20 years ago or 30 years ago.”Then you find new interests that change. I agree with what you’re saying. I think there are so many things that people can experience for each job change that they’ve learned something a little bit differently and they get different mentors. As far as mentors go, I’m curious what you think. Do you think that you should just align yourself with one mentor at a time or do you think it’s good to have multiple mentors or how do you look at that?
For me, I’ve always had mentors. I deeply believe in mentorship. By the way when I say mentors, I’ve had mentors who have mentored me because that’s what they chose to do. I have mentors that I have paid and I have no problem paying to have a mentor. I always have at least two at any time. I don’t have more than one in an area because that’s just confusing. I have multiple mentors in multiple areas of my life. If you’re looking at having better relationships, then you probably need a mentor who specializes in that or somebody who you recognize or you look at and you go, “They really understand that.”Don’t ask your mate. Don’t ask the homeless person for investing advice. This is one of things that people don’t get.”I talked to my friend.” Your friend is an idiot in that area. Your friend might be a wonderful person in another area. Mentorship is vitally important but you’ve got to invest in yourself.
All too often, we don’t invest in our people enough. I’ve got CEOs that I mentor who are now saying to their team, “We’re going to put you with Dov. You’ve got to work with Dov.” They’re like, “I’m not sure.” “You don’t have the choice. You’ve got to go do that and you’re going to do it for six sessions. After that, you can make the choice yourself.”Then they go through the six sessions and it’s like, “This is not what I expected.”People create a framework in their head and it’s so far from the truth. We are so much greater than we can ever realize. There’s so much beauty and magnificence, brilliance and genius within us but we keep looking at the world like, “What’s wrong with me? How am I a deficit?”You’re not. You’re magnificent. Tapping into that, you bring your gift to the world and you heal your own soul and you heal the soul of everybody you touch. I don’t mean that in a religious sense. I mean that deep part of you that’s crying out to live your purpose.
I can’t think of a better place to take a break and think about how people can do that by maybe finding information in your books and your sites and all that because you really have some great information, Dov. I loved watching your talks. If anybody is looking for a motivational speaker, boy do you motivate. I thought it was amazing. Please share with everybody the name of your book and your sites and everything. Your book was great and I loved it.
Thank you very much. I deeply appreciate that. The book is called Fiercely Loyal. It’s how high-performing companies develop and retain top talent. It was really focused on authentic leadership particularly in the context of a changing generation of millennials who are coming in and who are entering the workforce and already the largest workforce in the history. It’s a very different way of looking at leadership. It talks about vulnerability being your greatest power. You can find out more about me at FullMontyLeadership.com. There, you can find access to all of my blogs. There are over 400 articles on there. You can find my podcast. My podcast is Dov Barron’s Leadership and Loyalty tips for executives. It’s the number one podcast for Fortune 500 listeners globally, which is pretty cool. Inc. made us the number one podcast to make you a better leader. Those are pretty decent ones. There’s a YouTube channel, Dov Baron’s Full Monty Leadership. I write for Entrepreneur, etc. Just go to FullMontyLeadership.com and all the access to all those things is there. I’m very happy to be of service to you. You can find out about my speaking and my consulting 101.
Here’s the thing and I want to say this to you. I know most people think I’m nuts for doing this, but I’m going to give you my private email. I’ll tell you why. I don’t know if you know but I know because I have a podcast that I’ve been doing for ten years. This is stuff, it didn’t happen overnight. This is stuff you have to work on and you pour your time and energy and Diane puts a ton of effort. I’ve seen the list of these amazing guests that you bring on. You give your time, they give their time. If you are to watch or listen to this, then you need to reach out to Diane and tell her what you got out of it. Not just out of my episode but any of the episodes, let her know. She needs to know that. We’re all human beings. We all need to know that what we’re doing makes a difference. Let her know what you got out of the show. Let her know what you’re going to do with it and write to me. My email is Dov@DovBaron.com. Write to me. Tell me what you got out of this show with Diane. Tell me how you’ve used it and tell me how I can help you. I’m happy to do that. I’ll give you twenty minutes of my time and we can chat and I’ll see if I can serve you. If I can’t, I’ll be the first to tell you. You’ve got to actually feedback. You can’t do this passively. We all think, “This is a podcast in the bedroom.” Stop being passive. Get active in your own growth, your own development. It makes all the difference.
Dov, thank you so much. It was so fun. Time just flew by and I could have talked to you all day about this and I really enjoyed it. I hope everybody does reach out to Dov because he is amazing.
We’re at the end of our 100th episode and it went by so fast. It was such a great show. Thank you so much, Craig and Dov. You both were so fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. There are so many great guests who have been on our show. They’ve been so great. We’re also on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you can automatically download it into your phone, so it’s just a great and easy way to listen. That’s the end of this show. Thank you so much. Hopefully we’re on to doing the next 100. We will see you at the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
About Craig Newmark
Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist. After being laid off from Charles Schwab in 1995, he used his severance package to create a mailing list of San Francisco art and technology events. Craig is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, and leading advocate on behalf of trustworthy journalism, voting rights, veterans and military families, and other civic and social justice causes. In 2017, he became a founding funder and executive committee member of the News Integrity Initiative, administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which seeks to advance news literacy and increase trust in journalism.
About Dov Baron
Dov Baron is a headline speaker for global conferences on leadership, influence, business and embracing purpose driven authentic leadership. Dov’s interactive presentation style captivates and energizes audiences. His revolutionary thinking and communication style had him cited as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to hire for your next conference, Dov Baron has been an independent leadership advisor to the United Nations (UN). Dov is the bestselling author of several books, his latest, “Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent.” (In-Phase Publishing, 2015 ©) He also writes for and has been featured in industry magazines including CNN, CBS Small Business Pulse, SHRM, Yahoo Finance, Boston Globe, Business in Vancouver, USA today, CEO, Entrepreneur and many more.
- Craig Newmark
- Dov Baron
- News Integrity Initiative
- Women Who Tech
- Girls Who Code
- International Fact-Checking Network
- What Facebook Can Learn From Craigslist
- Top 100 Leadership Speakers
- Full Monty Leadership
- Fiercely Loyal
- Dov Barron’s Leadership and Loyalty
- Dov Baron’s Full Monty Leadership