Do we want to go quickly or go far?
“The three hallmarks of a great investment are superior returns, low risk, and long duration,” Peter Kaufman observes.
“The whole world concentrates on category one. But if you’re a leader of any merit at all, you should be treating these three as what?” asks Peter.
“How do you get low risk and long duration?”
“This is the biggest blind spot in business. People are actually proud of a win-lose relationship. ‘Yeah, we really beat the crap out of our suppliers.'” Or: “‘we’ve got these employees… on an HB1 visa, they can’t work anywhere else for three years.’ They’re proud of it!’
“Total win-lose,” Peter observes.
“You take game theory, and you insert the word “lose” in any scenario in game theory, and what do you have?
A sub-optimal outcome.
“What happens when you insert win-win in any game theory scenario, what do you get?” asks Peter.
Optimal. Every time.
Peter then outlines a specific “win-win” strategy we can utilize which is similar to Conscious Capitalism’s stakeholder theory. As leaders we seek to optimize across all six stakeholder groups: our customers, our suppliers, our employees, our owners, our regulators, and the communities we operate in.
“The secret to leadership is to see through the eyes of all six important counter-party groups and make sure that everything you do is structured in such a way to be win-win with them,” says Peter.
“If you can truly see through the eyes of all six of these counter-party groups and understand their needs, their aspirations, their insecurities, their time horizons—how many blind spots do you have now?” Peter asks.
“How many mistakes are you going to make?
“People don’t think this is possible,” observes Peter. “It’s really easy. To understand is to know what to do.”
Peter references two proverbs, first a Turkish one: “No road is long with good company…The essence of life,” he believes, “is to surround yourself, as continuously as you can, with good company.”
The second proverb is an African one: “If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
Peter believes this is the definition of win-win.
“Most people grow up wanting to go quickly alone. It doesn’t work. You wind up like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. You get to the end of your life. Yeah, you’re rich, you’re powerful, you’re famous, and you want a do-over because you realize at the end of your life, “I didn’t live my life right. I don’t have what really matters.
“What really matters is to have people pay attention to you, listen to you, and respect you; to show you that you matter; and to love you. And to have it be genuine, not bought.
“Live your life to go far together,” says Peter.
Reflection: Consider Peter’s ideas around superior returns, low risk, and long duration. How well do I attempt to balance all three elements in my life?
Action: Journal about my answer to the question above.