The Bregman Leadership Podcast
Episode 203

Harry Kraemer

Your 168

Are you confusing activity and productivity? Harry Kraemer returns to the podcast to discuss his latest book Your 168. Everyone has the same 168 hours in a week, but how are you using yours? Discover Harry’s three decision-guiding questions, how being “planful” gives you more flexibility, and the importance of reflecting on your habits versus your values.

About

Get the book, Your 168, from Amazon here:

Learn more

Website: HarryKraemer.org
Bio:  Harry Kraemer is a Professor of Management and Strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he teaches in the MBA and the Executive MBA programs and was a Professor of the Year. He is an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in the United States, and is former Chairman and CEO of Baxter International Inc., a multi-billion-dollar global healthcare company. Kraemer is the bestselling author of From Values to Action and Becoming the Best.

Video

https://youtu.be/SCZdWUjyvro

Transcript

This transcript is unedited.

 

Peter:

Today is Harry Kramer. He is such a delightful person that I’m really, really happy to bring him back on the podcast. He’s been on the podcast before. His latest book is your 168. Put your values first and focus on what matters most. He’s a professor of management and strategy at Kellogg university of management at Northwestern university, where he was professor of the year. You’ll soon understand why he got that designate designation. He’s also an executive partner at a private equity firm and was the former chairman and CEO of Baxter, which is a multibillion dollar global healthcare company. And one of the things that I’m delighted about with Harry, not only being a sort of stellar human being which is really important to me, in fact, Harry, I’ll just tell you that the, the coaching that I’m doing now I’m, I’ve, I’ve gotten clear that I’m looking to, and I’ve been very clear about this and said no to certain clients and yes, to others that I’m helping people become exceptional leaders and stellar human beings.

Peter:

And if they’re not interested in both sides of that, which is fine, like there’s nothing wrong with not being interested in besides, but if they’re not, I’m the wrong guy, because the stellar human being part is, feels really, really important to me. And, and you are a great example of a stellar human being. And I’m also excited that you have both the thought leadership on the one hand and the very, very practical experience of executive leadership on the other. So I’m going to bring both of those into the conversation. Welcome to the Bregman leadership podcast, Harry, it was great to be with you.

Harry:

I, I should actually write all this down and show it to my five kids because they don’t respect me the same way you apparently, I appreciate well share the podcast with them, and then anytime they want to call me, they can call me and I’ll let them know.

Peter:

That’s good. Okay. How are your one 68? What are your one 68?

Harry:

Yeah. So in, in my classes Peter, I always will ask the students you know, about one 68 most important number. And they’ll say, well, what, what’s one 68. It turns out Peter, I don’t know how many of your listeners, but one out of 10 people know it. But if I say to you, Peter, Oh, Peter you know, what kind of week you’re doing? How hard are you working this week? Often? They’ll say, huh? This week, this week I’m 24 seven. I was okay, slow down, multiply it out. Usually you get one 68, right? So the reality of life, Peter is as crazy as we are. Everybody gets $160 a week. That’s what you get, all right. And how you spend that time and what you do with it and what you don’t do with it. And what matters that that’s the whole thought process around what I say, your one 68.

Peter:

And it’s interesting. Cause as I was reading it, I was thinking, you know, I love this idea of don’t evaluate a day, evaluate a week. And when I started doing it in my head and I said, so let me think about yesterday. And I thought yesterday, I have no what I did yesterday. I can’t remember what I did yesterday. And I don’t know what day it was. Yes. Yeah. I mean nowadays. Yeah. Right. I don’t know what day was yesterday, but I thought that was really interesting because you know, the, we, we could be so present to what we’re doing in the moment, but actually, you know, I was mentioning before the call, there was a couple of days ago where I was so busy and then I stopped halfway through the day and I said like, I’ve been so busy, but I’m not getting anything done. I’m not going to anything useful or important done. And then, and then I chose with one hour of my one 68 to now that I’m kind of where we’re recording this during pandemic time. And I’m up in the Catskills, get on my mountain bike and go ride for an hour. And that kind of helped me a lot, but that was a very of that day. That was the best use of my one hour of 168.

Harry:

Well, and, and that actually Peter is a great example because what usually happens is you take people that are very active, you and I, a lot of your listeners and, and we’re just keep going faster and faster. And when we realize we may not get everything done well, then we’ll just multitask. Well, and the question I always ask executives, the question I asked students very practically is have we confused activity and product to them? Or are we moving so fast? We have no idea how productive we are. Let’s just keep moving. It was your comment a minute ago of, Hey, I’m running to run, run, run, but then I get anything done. I don’t know. Let’s, let’s just keep moving. And I think the people that really are value-based leaders literally stop and say, wait a second, take a time out. Let me be a little self-reflective here. Let me go off by myself, take a ride on my mountain, bike decompress, and literally think what really matters. Right? What are the values? What’s my purpose. What am I doing all this for? Yeah. Yeah.

Peter:

And, and you know, one of the things that’s interesting. So again, we’re recording this during the pandemic and it’s been three and a half months that since I moved out of New York city and I’m at a house in the Catskills and I am just now just now three and a half months later, beginning to feel the edges of the start of relaxing. And it’s like the pent up busy-ness and drive and continuous movement of years. I’m like I’m kind of like, you know, I’m just starting to feel the edges of that. So Harry, let’s go all the way back. Let’s go to your childhood. I’m very interested in your path. Like, you know, you, you are a leader, you’re a teacher, you’ve, you’re a thinker. And, and I think a lot of our listeners also, we’re interested in people who, you know, have arrived to CEO of multibillion dollar company and also, and are very, very thoughtful about their journey. So share with us little bit about your journey. Like, how did you get started? What are some decision values based or not decision points that you made that brought you to where you are today?

Harry:

Yeah, so a fun, fun, Peter. So actually born in New York, I actually in Queens, my grandfather was a history teacher and my dad was a salesman. So we moved around New York out in long Island, but I’ve lost most of my accent. And then we were lived in in Pennsylvania in Northeastern, Pennsylvania, a little town Clark summit. And my dad ended up getting transferred then to the Midwest in Minneapolis. I went to a small college in in Wisconsin, Lawrence university, liberal arts and then worked for awhile with a bank and then ended up going, going to Kellogg. And then eventually ended up at Baxter. But, but to your point, a couple of things, you know, in your life that that happened. So my when I lived in Northeastern, Pennsylvania, Peter and I may have mentioned this to you in the past.

Harry:

My, my uncle was a priest. And you know, if you’re, if you’re going to deal with a church or you’re going to a temple with a synagogue, whatever and you know, somebody who’s, who’s who’s a somebody who’s a cleric. You get to know them very well. And at least in our church, they always used to say, well, you know, Harry you know, we, we need more pastors. We need, we need more priests. It’s really, definitely, really need more. And I remember, I think it was like 14 years old and I went back and every Friday night, my uncle would come over and I’d say, Hey, uncle Francis. I said, I think I’m going to sign up for this. You’ll sign up for what? Well, to be a priest, he goes, Oh, this is fantastic. You’ve got to call him.

Harry:

I said, father, for instance, I got to say, I definitely do not have a calling. And I said, I’d rather not do it, but here’s, here’s the simple math of them because I was already in the math at 40. I said, Hey, we need more B, if any of my friends do this, we’re going to have a major problem. I mean, I know there’s okay. So somebody’s got to pick up the Slack that’s me and had a big impact on me because it was very interesting. He said, Harry, every priest, every minister, every rabbi note, he said, we all have the same issues. The people that come to our institutions, we can, we can take care of, but I’m always sensitive to the people that are out there in the real world. And he said, Harry, if you end up going into teaching or business or whatever, and you always say, Hey, what example can I set?

Harry:

What are the values? And through your example, you can make a really big impact. And I thought, well, that’s great. I don’t have to become a priest. Thank God. And I’ve always thought about that. And even, even when I started at Baxter and by the way people say to me, how did that happen? Well, I started as a junior financial analyst for two years at Baxter. I forgot to leave. And I was there for 24 years. Okay. So small businesses, large businesses I spend time in international was the CFO was, was the president chairman CEO. And it was very, very interesting, Peter, just that ability and a couple of events that happened to me to get into this very think about self-reflection it just sort of impacts the way I think of the world and how you treat people. You know, what’s the, what’s, what’s your mission? What do you want to do? What’s your purpose? And it’s been, it’s fantastic.

Peter:

All right. So let me ask you a couple of questions here. I love it. I love the story. So, so you have this conversation with your uncle and, and here’s my question did because the, the, the story is very vibrant. Like I’m heading in this direction and I have this conversation and I realize I got to move somewhere else. And that’s the narrative. And I’m curious, the reality behind the narrative, like, were you having doubts? Were you not sure? Were there other, like what, like to make that turn to go, I’m going to be a priest, actually, I’m going to go into business. These are life decisions that people struggle with all the time. And I’m curious, the, if you can remember, like, just even, you know, little snippets of the, the influences in making and moving towards that decision, I think it’s the complexity of it, I think could be helpful.

Harry:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So here I am, I’m like 13, right? Going into eighth grade. I really did have a spiritual perspective of, Hey, we’re here for a very short period of time. What impact do you make on the world? And, and I, and I thought, I, you know, I need to do that, but, you know, Hey, you know, I kind kinda was at 1314, so I’m starting to think about girls. I’m younger than I thought I get it. I get that. And so, and so I thought, well, Hey, you know, what, if I get very, I actually, I keep things very simple, Peter, by the way, I keep things very, very simple. And so I kind of looked at it as I like to make a difference. And in order to make a difference, that’s what I’ve got. Oh, wait a minute. If I can make a difference, whether it’s business, whether it’s teaching or whatever. And, and I, and I could feel good about that. That that’s a, that’s a, that’s a pretty straightforward way to think about it. And then I, I love math and I love the idea of learning and I loved interacting with people. And that’s sort of, sort of how it evolved.

Peter:

And so you joined, you joined Baxter as a financial analyst, 24 years later, you been 24 years. Is that right? You become CEO.

Harry:

No. Well, no. I know I joined the company and I guess it was only 15 years later because I was,

Peter:

And then you were CEO for that period of time. So did you, like at what point did you have an aspiration that says, Hey, I kind of want to run this company.

Harry:

Ah, Peter, us fantastic questions. This comes up. This is where we, when we’re searching to have a sense of humor, this comes up a lot. And usually people say, well, men, when did you decide? And I, and it’s always a little disappointing for the students when I say, well, Hey, I never even thought I’d be a vice president. I certainly never thought I’d be. I never thought. And of course the student reaction is eyeball roll. Here we go. Here’s another one of those humility things again. And Peter with, with your training and coaching. And you’ll, you’ll appreciate this. Well, the way I think about it is, and tell me whether you agree with, tell me what you think of this. When you’re the kind of leader, where, what are you all about? You’re all about relationships, developing people, developing the team, making it, making it all happen.

Harry:

You get you very excited about that. And interestingly enough, I tell people, Peter, that we will say, Oh, well, you know, you were the seal Baxter. When you were 42 as a $12 billion company, you must’ve been very bright. And I said, well, no, here’s the reality. If I’m really honest with myself, I tell this to the students. I had two very good things going for me, intelligence. Wasn’t one of them to number one. I knew everybody. I mean, my ability when I talk about leadership, chief as little simple model of me have told you leadership through the ability to influence people, how do you influence people? You relate. If I can relate to you, I can never lead you. That’s it that’s as complicated as I get. And I love the idea that I’m spending time with wild and crazy sales guys. I’m spending time with, in the R and D lab with PhDs and fields.

Harry:

I know nothing about. And what I realized was two things. If you know, and can relate to everybody and you know who the really good people are, number one, and number two, you create an environment that everybody wants to work for you. As I told the students the other night, here’s a simple formula. If you know all the good people are, and they all want to work for you, you’re going to do phenomenally well. And now, again, here’s that balance. Peter, did I have aspirations of becoming a vice president? No. In fact, here’s another crazy one. Peter, I set up three criteria through my self reflection. When I was at Kellogg three criteria, do I stay in the job I’m in? Do I stay in the company I’m in, but a different job or might go someplace else? Interestingly enough, Peter, I use the thing three criteria, 40 years later, if you call me and say, Hey, Harry, could you go on this sport three criteria.

Harry:

If I continue to do this, we’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow. If I’m not learning and growing, I’m going backwards too. We’ll have the opportunity to add value with a team and make something happen. Or somebody paid me a lot of money and I’m just watching grass grow and paint dry. And 3:00 AM I having fun? And so from my perspective, I volunteered for everything. When they said, Hey, somebody needs to run this small division. It’s losing money. That sounds like fun. I could learn something. I think I could add some value. Now the flip side of it though, flip side of it is while that was my criteria, what did I miss? What did I know? I think I knew Peter, that if you were the CEO and you called me and said, Hey, Harry, we want you to become the CFO. I knew, I knew I could pull it off because I knew who the people were so that I would need to do it.

Harry:

So, so I thought, Hey, whatever comes up fine. But you know, I’m literally trying to do my life balance. You know, I’m trying to balance, you know, my family, my, my, my spirituality, my health fun, having a good time making a difference. So I kind of thought of it as, Hey, if the stars align and that opens up super. But if those three criteria are happen, I’m not going to be one of these guys coming home to my spouse. Well, you know, I don’t know if I’m going to become a vice president and my whole life’s going to change because I decided I’m never going to let my, my my job identify who I am. I’m just, I’m not going to do that. So you decide, it’s like, you know, it’s like an R R R joint friend, Alan Malali who, who is so good at, who is the, who is the CEO of Boeing and the CEO

Peter:

Of Ford. Who’s so good at creating a process, right. A process that works and then following it with zero tolerance for deviation. And so what you’re saying is I, I, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve created a process which are these three questions, right? And, and I’m asking myself those questions. And if the answer is yes to each of those questions, then I do it. And if the answer is no to any of them and I don’t, and I don’t have to think about what is the outcome going to be about this? I just have to think about, these are my three guiding questions and I’m to ask those questions. And the first one was

Harry:

If I, if I do this, can I, will I be able to learn and grow

Peter:

Well, I’d be able to learn and grow. W will I will I be able to make a difference and three is, am I going to have fun? Having fun? Yeah. And then you just, you, you don’t think too much about the implication of the next step. You just think, does it meet these criteria?

Harry:

Exactly, exactly. And interestingly enough, the reason why that seems to make sense to me is that if, if I’m of the view of, that’s my criteria, I’m going to treat you Peter. And everybody that works with me the way I like to be treated, we’re a team. Hey, if you’ve got an idea, let me know what it is, by the way, if I got to go up and see the president to make a presentation, your work for me, you’re coming with me. And it’s all about my team. And it’s all about trying to do the best. And interestingly enough internet, if one day I will. I tell the students that if one day I woke up and I said, I’m a vice president. You know what I’m going for it. I’m going to become the CEO. Well, that day, it’s no longer about the team. Now it’s all about me. And if it’s all about me, it’s no longer about Peter and Jones and Jim. Okay. And that’s why I don’t think if you not wired up the way I’m describing, you’re gonna lose a lot of respect them. People will tolerate you, but there’s not going to be the respect and the camaraderie and the fun you’d have. If it’s not. That’s what I think.

Peter:

So, Harry, there’s never a moment when you were like sitting in the office going I’m CEO, I’m Lee I’m, I’m, I’m C E O. I’m the head of this I’m 42 years old. And I’m the head of a 12 billion doc. Like yes. All those other things are, but how cool is that? Like, you never had that moment.

Harry:

So, so, okay. Again, Peter, when I say, ask me anything, push anything, interestingly enough, I thought, Hey, isn’t this great, isn’t this great, but, but I never ever Peter let it get to me and I’ll give you, I’ll give you some good examples. And again, I got a lot of floods. We can talk about all my flaws, but on this kind of stuff, Peter, there, there was a perspective of never forget where you came from, keep things in perspective. All right. In fact, here’s a great way. I literally, my four principles. Okay. I literally taught, as you’ve heard me, I talk about self reflection. I talk about balance. I talk about true self confidence and I talk about genuine humility. And to me, this genuine humility thing, Peter, here’s free for all, for all your listeners. I have a very simple way of figuring out.

Harry:

Does somebody have genuine humility? I literally will say, Hey, Joe, successful guy, CEO, CFO, how did you get to where you are? Joe? 90% of people I talked to said, well, how do I get there? Well I worked very, very hard, very, very hard. And I have some skillsets and the combination of working hard and skillsets. That’s how I got to where I am. And then somebody will say to me, well, Harry, how did you get to where you are? I said, well, yeah, I worked hard skillset, but there’s a big fight. The big fight that happened to me, no particular order math guys, we never fixed. How about luck? How about timing? How about the team? How about mentors? And then for some of us, you know, there’s, there’s a spiritual perspective of some people, some of us have a religious perspective. And if, if any of those work for you, what do you start to realize? You’ll never forget where you came from. You keep things in perspective at Baxter, we said, you don’t, you don’t read your own press clippings. And the higher up you go, this is a big one. Peter, the higher up you go there better be a few people who knew you before you became a big shot, right? Because on the way they’re coming a big shot, there will be people that are going to say, Oh, well, you’re amazing. You’re remarkable. And if you’re not careful, you could actually believe.

Peter:

So. I have I have dinner once a month and I have for over 30 years once a month with a bunch of friends from high school. And, and we now, now that we’re in a pandemic, we have a zoom call once a week. But just to confirm that one of the things I love is I said to my I was on the phone with him a couple of days ago. And I said, so what do you guys think of my beard? I’m thinking about keeping my beard and to a tee. They were like, do not keep your beard. It looks awful. They said like one of my friends said, you know, you know those movies where, where literally in one scene, someone goes from whatever age they are to 30 years older, that’s you with a beard. So it is very helpful to have a group of people who know you really, really well. And, and, you know, will tell you the truth.

Harry:

And it’s interesting, Peter, I almost get emotional about it. And I know how sincere you are. It interests me so much that if you truly it’s beyond words, if you truly realize you never forget where you came from. Yeah. We’ve been blessed. We’re fortunate you’re up in the Catskills. Okay. But you never forget that. And so for me, you know, when, when I go into a building, if I could do another great example in my classes, we have this brand new, amazing Kellogg building now on the Lake five stories called glass, really on the water, $300 million. And I’ll tell the students, I’ll say, all right, how many of you want to be leaders? How many of you really want to manage large groups of teams as an adult? Raise your hand. I went there. I was anybody. How many of you know the names of the two people at the reception desk when you walk in the building and how many of you know, the names of the four people serving food in the cafeteria?

Harry:

Okay. And how many of you know, how many kids, each one of them have? And do you know, the two of those people serving in line have got kids that have gotten scholarships into Princeton. And I said, I cannot walk into that building without finding out how Chris is doing, how Ken’s doing. And it’s K E N N. Okay. And why has it got to, I mean, because you never forget and that you create, and I always think of it, Peter. It’s like the ultimate win-win, it’s the right kind of values. It just feels good. But the crazy part of it is even if that light didn’t go on, okay, you do it anyway, because that’s how you build teams, how you energize a group of people. It’s actually really simple.

Peter:

Okay. So let’s, let’s turn to the book. Harry, and, and you talk about articulating and being super clear about your values and then breaking that up into a number of different categories so that you can understand, you know, where, what your values are in each of those categories, and then really tracking and assessing yourself on how am I doing with each of these things. It’s like, if you want to lose weight, keep a food diary. If you want to live a value based life, keep a value based diary. Am I, am I encapsulating this correctly?

Harry:

Yeah. I th I think, I think you’re doing a good job. Good job.

Peter:

So so here’s, here’s my first question. I want to go over the four foundational principles of value based leadership. Cause I really love them. I love, and I talk about this all the time and I loved reading that you had shaped it this way. And I’ve seen this from previous conversations in previous books, self confidence and humility. And I think those two things together are critical and most people don’t get it. Right. So I always think it’s worth spending a little bit of time on that, but here’s, here’s my essential question about values. So I, when I sit down and I get a little overwhelmed with the whole thing, but when I sit down and I go, okay, so what am I values? Am I living my values? I always realize that like, like it or not, I’m already living my values, meaning I’m making choices every day.

Peter:

And I think about you, you bring up someone in the golfer a guy who bill, you call him bill who’s, who’s playing golf all weekend and he wants to meet with you. And, and, and you’re like, what, when do you want to meet Saturday night? I’m playing golf all day. How about Sunday? No, I’m playing golf all day. And it’s like, okay. So what are, you know, like if you really wants to meet, then he needs to shape his life around his values. My thought is, I read that is, and you talk about the cognitive dissonance between, you know, kind of what is real and how I live. My, my challenge is we, like when we identify our values, they are very often aspirational values versus actual values. And if I’m playing golf all weekend, it’s probably because even though I don’t want to say it out loud, take, you know, being out by myself or with a group of friends playing golf, et cetera, I’m thinking in Bill’s mind. Like that’s really actually his value. Otherwise he probably wouldn’t do it. So how do you help people and how do, how do you grapple with the dissonance of actual lived values versus aspirational values? Yeah, this is my question. Makes sense.

Harry:

Yeah, no, it does. And this is one it’s kind of fun to mix up. So this one, this one I probably disagree with you and here’s the thought process and you to challenges. I mean, I love we can mix it up. We can always do this again. Here’s the fun part for me. I think that the disconnect for many people is they don’t take the time to be self reflective. And when I say self-reflective, I literally mean spending some quiet time, thinking about why do I do what I do? And based on why I do what I do is is that what I really want to do. And I think what happens is if you don’t take the time to do this, and I talk about this in this book now I literally remember the second chapter is I’m surprised. You’re surprised, right? So the example would be, this happens all the time.

Harry:

Peter is I run into a former student and at the airport, if you’ve read Joe, how are you doing well? I’m just really surprised. Well, Joe, what are you surprised by? Well I’m married now. I have two small children and I have no relationship with my two kids and I, I, I’m just really surprised. Well, Joe, do you spend time with your two kids? Not I spend any time with them at all. Okay. Well, I’m surprised. You’re surprised, but see, the interesting part Peter is, is I’m so open. Okay. I’ll use you. Okay. I’m just, I’m making it up. If you said to me, Harry, my career is so important that a, if I have to sacrifice my, my marriage or my kids, you know unwilling to do unwilling to do that. Now that may be some people, Oh boy, I don’t know if I want to do that.

Harry:

But the beauty, the beauty of taking the time to realize that’s what’s important to you, then that’s perfect. But the problem I find is the number of people that are doing things. And they haven’t really thought through why they’re doing it. And as soon as they think it fro, they actually change. Not because that’s different their values, but they just have student T two weeks ago, soon comes up me two weeks ago. Well, Harry, I’m trying to decide, okay, Elizabeth, I’m trying to decide, should I very breakout? I, should I go to work for McKinsey or, or a or B? And I’ll say, okay, wait a minute. Okay. Let’s think about now, before we answer that question, why, why do you want to be a consultant? I mean, that could be fine. Why do you want to do that? And the look on their face.

Harry:

Somebody gave me this description of Migo, Meg O which stands for my eyes glaze over. They hadn’t even thought about it. Okay. I said, now, now you eat now. You’re you’re you mind traveling 90% of the time you realize you’re going to be travel. Well, no, I don’t want to travel that much. Well, but that’s what you’re going to be doing. Oh, okay. And so, so Peter, I can give you a lot of examples where, where we’re, because people don’t think about what they’re doing. They end up surprised. And that’s why that’s I say I’m surprised.

Peter:

I like what you’re saying and actually what you’re saying. So I’m going to change what I’ve said, which is that it’s not actual values versus aspirational values as much as it is habits versus values. So like you’re describing people in a number of habits and they haven’t stopped to play out going, what is this? You know, if I continue with this habit, what am I going to look like in, in 10 years?

Harry:

And Peter, it goes even further than that. So maybe, maybe you’ll maybe you will have seen this as well. How would I see what else? It’s a, it, I don’t think it’s even a habit or just, you’re not thinking. Great example, a guy does really well, does super well. You know, these people suddenly they’re 45 years old. They’ve got three kids and they decide they got a big, big windfall. They’re going to build a house now, instead of saying, well, there’s a lot of nice houses. Oh no, I’m going to build a house. It’s only going to take six months. Well, Joe, I can tell you, it’s going to take you three years. Okay. Well know it’s coming. So they spend three years. I’m usually stupid. They spend the time and the, you know, the arguments and the fights that are, Banella got it. They finally got it.

Harry:

Three years of sweat and tears. So I don’t see this person for like six, seven years. Well, then I run into the airport. Hey Joe, how are you doing? Well, you know, pretty good Harry. But you know, Marcus is not good. We’re in the process of downsizing. Tell us why. Well, Harry, all three of the kids that they’re off at college now. Right? And of course what I want to say to the guys, did you not realize Joe, eight years ago that all of your children would be eight years older and the 10 year old who’s the youngest, no one will be there in this 20,000 square foot house. And you look at the guy and he surprised, and it’s like, that’s not even a habit. It’s like, what were you thinking? And my conclusion is you weren’t thinking right now. And if you said, if you said, Hey, I want this.

Harry:

This is what I want. And you know what? I’ll figure it out. But this guy was literally surprised. I mean, he was, he was just worried about now it’s selling the house. All right. It’s not, I can give you examples like that, Peter, at every age. So let me ask you so great. What’s a brick wall. Brick wall. Okay. Here, here’s the concept on this one and all people can kind of visualize this in your mind. Let’s say when you were in New York and I’m in Chicago, I think it’s route 80. That takes you from Chicago to New York. All right. So when I talk about this life balance, right? And by the way, you’ve heard me, I never talk about work life balance. Cause it’s like work like you’re either working or you’re living. What does that mean? Okay. You and I working up Peter, that’s not living.

Harry:

That’s a problem. Okay. So it’s life balance. So the way I think about life balance, it’s not achieving it. It’s pursuing it because at the end of the day, it’s not going to happen. Okay. Now, so here’s the, here’s a little amalgam of fooling around with lately. Tell me if this works for you, I’m going to go to visit you. I’m driving from Chicago to New York. If I was perfect and I was really balanced, straight line, I don’t get off the road. I’m there now. What’s the real world. Real world is there’s exit ramps. Okay. I want to stop at dairy queen for appropriateness of it. Okay. Now I’ve got to get gas. Now, if you think about that, if I’m doing it correctly, I want, I’m going to try to stay that whole sideways, pretty close this. Right? And the key is self reflection.

Harry:

I know I got off the highway. I know I want to lose 30 pounds, but you know what? Hey, tonight, I want to have pizza and I know I better get on a bike tomorrow, but other than that, but at the moment. So, so you get off. However, if you get off and you don’t realize you’re off, all right, you know that you guys, you and I know where, well I’m going to work a hundred hours, but it’s only for a week. It’s only. And if I think about it, it’s almost like you’ve got off at an exit ramp and you, you now you’re on your way to Atlanta. No, I was going to see Peter in New York and it’s in my mind, that’s you hit the wall. You, you gain 50 pounds, you know, your family’s broken up, you’ve got a heart attack. And you’re like, Oh, what do I do now? And that, that ability, that ability to realize, Hey, I’m only human. I got my faults. I’m not, you know, got temptations, whatever, but I better stay close enough to that. And when you don’t, you hit the wall and unless you get your act together again, you, you never recover. First of all, have you hit a wall? Honestly, no, no, no. Okay. So that chief is just because I’ve been doing this self reflection and these silent retreats for, for 40 years. Right? Right.

Peter:

So here’s my question. There’s an advantage in some ways, in terms of the methodology that we’re talking about of hitting a wall, because you hit a wall and the wall says, what I’ve been doing up until now is not working. I have to change. What if you don’t hit a wall? Meaning like I I’m, I, I think in terms of the conversation we’re having, which is how do you stay on track to your values? There are people who hit a wall and have to self reflect. They have to think about what their values are because literally the way they’ve been doing it, clearly isn’t working. I find that there’s a lot of people for whom the way they’re doing it is pretty much working. You know what, let’s use me as an example. So I love what I’m doing. I really love it.

Peter:

Actually. It’s working for me in every single way. And I, I still notice my own little nudges. Like Seoul is really interesting to me. I’m really, I’m finding myself taken with the concept of soul and I’m, and I’m finding myself, you know, nudging towards more interested in people then organizations like I love organizations. I’ve consulted, I’ve always worked with organizations, but the people side of it is, is attracting me more than it has before. I’m a little more interested in coaching leaders as people that I am in coaching leadership teams to achieve results. Like, I’m just noticing that now. I like what I do. Nothing’s going wrong. I’m fine. I’ve got actually the good life, right. I’m close with my family. And yet I’m, I’m, I’m finding myself nudging in this direction and I have to give up some things that are going right in order to pursue something that’s engaging me and I’m moving towards. And I don’t know whether that’s the right thing to do and what my values are. Not, it’s not just black and white. It’s not like, Oh, I’m doing something now. And it’s not working. I’m doing something and it’s working. And I like it. And yet there’s this other thing. And I have to risk when I’m doing a little bit in order to pursue this other thing. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. So I just want to bring in this, like the sort of grayness of this for many people.

Harry:

Okay. And the way, the way I think about Peter and is what I love, I love discussing this stuff. It’s fans, it’s a lot of fun, which is one of my three criteria, by the way, you’re adding value and you’re adding value. I mean, you learn something from every case. That means we’ll have more conversations. We definitely will because you know, we all have, we all have problems. One of my problems is this simple analogy thing. So what do I do? And I think about you now and I, I role play. So the way I think about this, let’s, let’s, let’s do go. So we’re going from Chicago to New York. Okay. That’s where I’m headed. Now. The way I look at this is during that trip, I’m being very, very thoughtful. So I just, I just got the Pittsburgh. All right. I got the Pittsburgh and I’m thinking now.

Harry:

Yeah, yeah. I could go to New York. I could go to New York, but let’s think about this based on what’s important to me what’s important in my life. Well, may be important. My family, whatever it might calling, whatever, you know I think going to Tampa, maybe what I really ought to be doing. What are the pros and cons? What are the impact of that on the six buckets? You know, I’m going to Tampa. So now I redirect and I, I don’t view this as hitting the wall. I don’t even view this as, as a, as a chick. This is something now that is an opportunity. And so I’m going to head down to Florida now heading down to Florida, if it turns out, because I’m doing that, you know what? I don’t have the opportunity to get on the mountain bike. I’m gaining a little bit of weight.

Harry:

Well, okay. Let’s take, let’s get off at a rest, stop here and maybe do something again. But in my life, think about there’s going to be changed. Those changed for me, between being single and married, where both of us are Oregon, a big change of having five kids. Okay. So I could write a book on that one and itself as a book I’m looking for, by the way. So, so, so this whole idea of I’m going to be, in fact, you’ve just given me the perfect opportunity to mention something related to the next chapter, but you’re very good, Peter. Okay. Which I think is called. Okay. The art of being planful and spontaneity. And as you can imagine, people say, well, wait, wait a minute. I mean no, you’re going to be planful or you’re going to have spontaneity. Remember

Peter:

I want to bring forth this image of the woman who spoke, who is listening to you. And you were sort of saying, figure out all your hours in a week, where are you spending them? And she said, listening to you made her feel like she was in a straight jacket.

Harry:

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So what I hear you’re, you’re, you’re very kind to have Reynolds because what makes it nice kind of fun for me is I explained this license. No, it actually works the opposite. And the, and I’ll use my own, my own thing. I don’t help plan for you or Peter, but I’m one of these guys. Here’s my math background. I can tell you, of course now everything’s changed this COVID thing. I can, I can always tell you what I’m doing day by day for the next 90 days. I mean, I kind of have that locked and loaded and I’ve got my calendar for 21, 22. I’ve got it. Okay. The boards and everything else I got, I know what I’m going to Hong Kong. The next six, nine. I got it. I got it. Now, as I, as I may have mentioned, I’ve got it.

Harry:

I know what I’m doing, but if you call me Peter, I can, by the way, this is this true story. If you tell me Peter, Hey, that a week from Friday, you’ve got two extra tickets for Bruce Springsteen. Okay. And the Catskills, I will be there. I mean, there’s not even a question. I will be there. Okay. Because if you’re planful, you can, you know, move things around versus I don’t know what you were like, Peter, but I knew guys in college that, you know you know, Oh, get a 20 page paper to do. We have three weeks to do it that night before they’re walking into the room with a cigarette and 25 books saying, don’t bother me for the next eight hours, because this is going to be an all nighter. And if I walk into that room and say, Hey, guess what? You know, there’s a great movie that there’s a three iCampus. He can’t go. I can go because I did like one fifth of that. Okay. Every, every, every week or so. So, so in my mind, the more planful you are, the more, the more flexibility you have,

Peter:

I love it. And it’s, it’s, it’s what, you know, it’s what I love about you saying confidence and humility. You’re taking these two things and you’re saying, and you’re, and you’re holding them. You’re not buying into the sort of black and white delineation or dichotomy between them. You’re basically saying, be super planful so that you can then when you need to, because you’re using self-reflection right. Self-Reflection balance confidence, humility. So, you know, you’re using self reflection to say, am I, do I need to nudge? Do I need to like, do it? Maybe it’s not even getting off the highway and going to Florida, maybe it’s just taking the scenic route to New York. Maybe it’s like making these little nudges in order to continue the self reflection in order to stay connected to your values. And what’s important to you.

Harry:

Absolutely. And your point, and you can prepare your on. So top of this, it’s fascinating because often, often executives, I had a group of CEOs and they got into this and they said, well, now this self, this a true self confidence, genuine humility. And one guy said, you know, maybe I’ve got too much genuine humility, a netlist of that more true truth. When I, and I was keep telling people to your point, you, you want both see, cause if you’re my boss, way beyond words. And by the way, you can be the, see on a vice president or you’re a director and I’m a manager. It doesn’t matter. But what beyond words, what I will convince you of is very simple, Peter, whatever you need to get done, give it to me. I will get it done with the right group of people will get it done.

Harry:

I’ll never let you down. It’s going to happen. And at the same time, every single person matters it isn’t about me. Okay. And I’m going to give the credit to all these people, but you know, it’s a little bit, like you said to me, when did you think you’d be the come and see a little crazy story on that one? I, at the time I think I was the CFO and the CEO was kind of a fun story. The CEO always started every meeting with me. I’m making a little bit of a presentation. So he said, well, Harry you’re not making a presentation today. I gotta meet with the I gotta meet with the, the boards privately. Oh, well we have here. It’s only 15 minutes. And then you’re going to come in or an hour and a half later, he comes out and I said, is everything okay?

Harry:

No, here’s a little bit of practical, Joseph. No, it’s not okay. It’s not okay at all. I said, why is that? So well, I basically told the board that, you know, I’m going to, I want to retire. And I had, I think so wired with this guy, I’m thinking, Oh man, this guy leaves, that’s it. And he said, I said, what are you going to do so well, they don’t like the response. They don’t like what we’re doing, but it’s unfortunate, but it’s, what’s going to, I’m going to jam it. I said, what’s that? Well, I told him that you’re going to become the CEO. I said, really? And he said, yeah, come on in. And I walked in and I was, I was a little dazed, right. And one of the board, but I think it was Fred Turner who was the CEO of McDonald’s for me.

Harry:

I was on the board and he goes, well, you look a little surprised. I said, yeah, I am surprised. And he goes, well, do you think, you think you’re going to, you can do this. I said, Fred, there is no question. I can do this because I know exactly the two or 300 people I’m going to need to be able to pull this off. I said, I’m a little surprised, but I will not let you guys to, I will get this done. You know? So it’s, it’s, it’s a little of this true self confidence, genuine Millie don’t don’t, don’t, don’t forget where you came from

Peter:

And genuineness. It’s like, it’s not like you’re going to pretend and it’s not gonna, like, it’s, it’s the, it’s the, like you are genuinely surprised and also genuinely confident.

Harry:

Exactly, exactly. And I think if you can, Peter if it’s part of who you are, it, you make it, people will tease you. You have a little bit of fun with it. And I don’t know if I told you this story, but a great example of you don’t forget where you came from. It turned out that I didn’t even know this. We have all these buildings, right? Cause we had like, I don’t know, several thousand people in Chicago. Well, it turned out when I became the CFO, they called and said, by the way, you can park in the Batcave. Like there’s a, like a secret parking lot under, I didn’t know it was there. I thought we rubbed the thousands of people and they said, so, no, you you’ve got your own parking space. Well, everybody always used to tease me that you know, no matter how well I did, I would say, you know, my father would say, don’t forget where it came from.

Harry:

Don’t forget we came from. So you know, I always had a Toyota that I’d always go to 200,000 miles with, so I got this eight, nine year old Toyota. So the first day, you know where this is going first day, I think it’s got Harry crim. I’m not, I’m parked between like, I don’t know a Maserati and Porsche, whatever. So I run in, parked the car, go up to the meeting and about an hour or two away, the first meeting starts I’m with the executive committee. And the one guy puts his arm around me. He goes, Harry, we apologize. Trust us, trust us. It will never happen again. Don’t worry about it. I said, what won’t happen again? He goes, I don’t know. He said some asshole parked some pizza. And he said, what? I said, what, what are you talking about? He goes, we just had a tone.

Harry:

I said, that’s my car. I started exactly true. They really had your car towed. Yeah. They’ll know. They’ll know. He said he did. So I got up and he goes, wait, wait, we didn’t tell him, you know what you’re you’re doing pretty well now I think you want to get a buddy. And I, and I purposely never did because, right, right, right. I’m from Peter. Don’t forget where we came from.

Peter:

We have been speaking with Harry Kramer. His latest book is Your 168. Put your values first and focus on what matters most you’ve clearly I’m sure. And I hope that you’ve gotten a feel for the kind of person Harry is Harry. It was such a pleasure, always to speak with you and such a pleasure to have you on the Bregman leadership podcast. Thank you so much for being with us.

Harry:

A lot of fun, Peter.

 

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