“If you are giving back, it’s because you’ve taken too much.”
– Ricardo Semler
During his leadership, Semco grew from four million in 1982 to two hundred and twelve million in 2003. His innovative — but very controversial — business management policies have attracted widespread interest from all over the world.
He is the best-selling author of Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace and The Seven-Day Weekend: A Better Way to Work in the 21st Century (not to be confused with another book titled in an admittedly similar fashion).
Ricardo recently started a podcast called LeadWise, where he has conversations with leaders about “challenging assumptions and changing how we live and work.”
Entrepreneurship and education are just two of the topics discussed in this wide-ranging conversation. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Ricardo Semler as much as I did!
Want to hear another episode with a successful entrepreneur influenced by Ricardo Semler? — Listen to this interview with David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), which has already been downloaded nearly 1.5 million times. In this episode, DHH shares his thoughts on the power of being outspoken, running a profitable business without venture capital, Stoic philosophy, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Ricardo Semler:
- The Seven-Day Weekend: A Better Way to Work in the 21st Century by Ricardo Semler
- My homemade index (page 1
and page 2) from The Seven-Day Weekend
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
- Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler
- David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson: The Power of Being Outspoken (You may remember DHH talking about Ricardo and his influence.)
- Semco Partners
- MIT Sloan School of Management
- The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo and Peter Harris
- Parables and Paradoxes by Franz Kafka
- Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle by C.G. Jung and R.F.C. Hull
- The Complete Works of Henry David Thoreau: Canoeing in the Wilderness, Walden, Walking, Civil Disobedience and More by Henry David Thoreau
- Before the Law by Franz Kafka
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
- De Divina Proportione (On the Divine Proportion) by Luca Pacioli and Leonardo da Vinci
- Ricardo’s TED Talk: How to Run a Company with (Almost) No Rules
- Self-Made Wealth in America: Robber Barons and Silicon Sultans, The Economist
- Melanoma skin cancer
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Winston Churchill’s Egyptian Getaway: The Old Cataract Hotel by Lauren Bohn
- Head Shaved, Ex-Billionaire Batista Jailed in Rio de Janeiro by David Biller, Bloomberg Politics
- Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Girlfriend’s Murder by Tim Hume, Faith Karimi, and Nick Thompson, CNN
- Prices for 1959 Chateau Mouton Rothschild
- The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious by C.G. Jung and R.F.C. Hull
- Holy Bible, King James Version
- The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works by William Shakespeare
- The Complete Up Series
- Ricardo tells us about his background: a refugee mother, a “miracle” birth, rock bands, law school, and inheriting a failing business. [08:07]
- The big decision Ricardo made to turn his company around. [15:10]
- In retrospect, was this decision rash, courageous, or simply the only option at the time? [19:46]
- What does “Virando a Propria Mesa” mean? [21:40]
- On asking “three whys in a row.” [23:10]
- Ricardo wrote his first book (which became Maverick) in nine days. [26:28]
- What’s the “right” way to fire someone? [30:29]
- What changes are made once the “three whys” have cleared the way? [33:13]
- How a small team with limited resources tests the processes that allow it to breathe and expand. [42:15]
- Common mistakes made when scaling a business, and the importance of testing processes impartially. [47:14]
- Books that could save civilization. [50:03]
- Ricardo relays one of his favorite Kafka parables. [55:10]
- On burning accolades from his past at age 50. [57:56]
- Maximum personal wealth, and why no collector can ever be happy. [1:02:14]
- Dark times and difficulties overcome. [1:15:19]
- Does Ricardo rely on any guiding philosophies for handling tough or unpredictable situations? [1:19:17]
- Processes over goals, and the purpose of what Ricardo calls “Terminal days.” [1:22:44]
- Finances and a lifestyle directed by the wisdom of Swiss bankers and The Little Prince. [1:27:04]
- “There’s nothing else of any importance while there’s a speck in your eye.” [1:32:09]
- Ricardo’s morning ritual hasn’t involved an alarm clock for many years. [1:33:02]
- “Absurdly wonderful” things Ricardo loves doing. [1:36:19]
- The ephemeral nature of risk and consequences — both positive and negative. [1:38:04]
- On enjoying the passing of time as the meaning of life (with thanks to James Taylor). [1:44:35]
- What was the pattern interrupt that prompted Ricardo to stop collecting wine? [1:49:17]
- Favorite documentary. [1:54:53]
- What would Ricardo teach a disadvantaged ninth grade class? [1:58:51]
- What would Ricardo’s billboard say? [2:02:28]
- Parting thoughts and encouragement for listeners to get past misgivings to make desired changes. [2:03:50]
Posted on: March 19, 2017.
Please check out Tools of Titans, my new book, which shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. It was distilled from more than 10,000 pages of notes, and everything has been vetted and tested in my own life in some fashion. The tips and tricks in Tools of Titans changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for sample chapters, full details, and a Foreword from Arnold Schwarzenegger!