Podcast: John Chambers, Connecting the Dots

John Chambers
John Chambers

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You know that John Chambers has been a CEO. After all, he spent more than 25 years at Cisco, helping grow the company from $70 million when he joined in 1991, to $1.2 billion when he became CEO in 1995, to $47 billion when he stepped down as CEO in 2015.

What you may not know is that Chambers is also – perhaps foremost – a teacher. In fact, it’s a big part of what he does now as founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, which describes itself as “mentors of digital innovation, who coach each company on their journey, using our experiences to help them see around corners, accelerate markets, and create entirely new ones.”  

Teaching is also a big part of what he’s put in his new book, “Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World” (with Diane Brady).

Now don’t get the impression that Chambers thinks he knows it all. He makes clear – in the book and in our conversation – that he’s always learning. Always asking questions. Always trying to discover what’s next.

That spirit and energy come across in reading his words – a playbook of his unique strategies for winning in a digital world –and they came across in the conversation.


Transcript: John Chambers Conversation

Chris Riback: John, thanks for joining me. I appreciate your time.

John Chambers: Chris, it’s fun to be with you today, and we’ll have a healthy give-and-take.

Chris Riback: I look forward to it. And so to begin, I just want to make sure I’ve got my facts right. You’re just a small businessman from California. Is that right? And you currently run a company of two to three total employees. And based off of that experience, you’ve gone and written a book on connecting the dots. Is that the right characterization of you, just a small businessman from California?

John Chambers: It is. I’m a West Virginian located in California, running an organization of three people.

Chris Riback: Understood. And I noticed the distinction there. Yeah. I didn’t mean to state … You live in California now, understood, but you are a West Virginian. And boy, that comes across. I guess you’re proof, huh? You can take the boy out of West Virginia, but you can’t take the West Virginia out of the boy, can you?

John Chambers: Well, there’s a loyalty there that I think many people don’t grasp across the country. And the West Virginia people are unbelievably good people, watch out for their own. A lot of my values came out of West Virginia. It’s where I first saw the transitions that can happen if a state, or a company, or a region doesn’t change. If you don’t disrupt and reinvent yourself, you get left behind. And that’s what happened to our state.

We were the coal center of the world and the chemical center of the world, and we lost our leadership and things are a little bit tougher now. I hope they’ll come back in a startup community. But I saw the same thing happen in Boston 128, where we were the Silicon Valley of the world. We couldn’t even spell Silicon Valley. These guys out in the West Coast, living out in the West Coast, they didn’t get it. We didn’t think they did. And yet, you fast forward 30 years and 1,000 high tech companies disappeared. My company, Wang, went from 32,000 people to zero.

I’m a product of watching changes occur. Sometimes I’ve had a front row seat, and sometimes I’m in the middle of the playing field. I’ve seen every movie there is to see. I’ve probably made a number of things right, and candidly, I made some mistakes that I learned from.

Chris Riback: Those market shifts, among the themes that you talk about, market shifts are one of them that I really want to get to discuss with you. Curiosity is another. Disruption is another. But you just talked about a number of the market shifts, and you write about it. You write about what happened with Kaiser and other companies. And you mentioned that the chemical company in West Virginia, you mentioned what happened in Route 128. And you write about in very personal terms, the decisions that you were faced with at Wang, and the way in which you pushed your CEO.

But one of the lessons that you learned from that experience was maybe you wish that you had pushed a little bit more. But talk to me about these market shifts. They’re so easy to see in the rear view mirror. Is it possible to see them in advance? Is there a sense that one gets? How does one know? How can one start to think about market shifts as they’re happening, or on the cusp before they happen, so that you don’t end up looking at them with 20/20 hindsight?

John ChambersJohn Chambers: Yes, that’s a classic example. If you’re looking out your rear view mirror going real fast on a curvy road in West Virginia, you’re off the road. I think it starts with a philosophy, Chris. I think you’ve got to say, “Do you compete against competitors?” And if you do, you’re looking out your rear view mirror because you’re seeing where they were in the past to get to where they are today, or do you compete against market transitions? Those can be changing business models. They can be changing citizen expectations, often enabled by technology.

When I see a market transition, business model change enabled by technology such as artificial intelligence or digitization or the internet, that’s when I move. And so I remind my teams, originally the Cisco team and before that Wang and a smaller segment at IBM, but now for the 16 startups that I’m coaching and heavily involved with and the other, literally hundreds, I talk for every month, I get them to try to focus on the market transition and use competitors as a way of keeping score, much like many coaches teach their team, “We build a playbook, and then we adjust the playbook slightly to which team we’re playing based upon the team’s strengths and limitations.”

Chris Riback: But in terms of sensing the oncoming market shifts, among the … I call it a skill. Is asking questions a skill? Because you talk about it a lot, and I was just going to characterize it as a skill, but do you view it that way?

John Chambers: Yes. I think it’s a skill that all of us can develop and I’d argue that all of your listeners to your podcast need to think about how they listen for the market transitions, either in their business life or their personal life. My experience, it isn’t just asking questions. It’s being able to listen, often from people that you may not think will give you an indication of something, and I knew that France was going to become the startup nation of Europe once I listened to a bunch of French startups in the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, and then went over and talked to French business leaders. And then I made a prediction, which even my best friends thought I was going to miss badly on when I said “France will become a good place to do business, and the leader of innovation and startups for Europe.”

And yet, three and a half years later, they did, because all of us viewed France as a terrible place to do business. Great people, great place to go take your spouse or dinner, but the last place you’d invest resources. So listening careful, and listening is a skill, and so often we associate communication with how well you verbalize something. I would argue listening is equally as important. Most the time, I heard that from the customers, but I had to be willing to ask questions, then listen carefully, and follow up questions just like do during your podcast.

Chris Riback: Yes, the asking questions of customers that you do comes across, and that’s really where I was going. I just got to do one fact check here because I think you’re being modest. Among the things that you noticed about France was not only that it was going to become a great place to do business, but didn’t you have a prediction about who was going to become the next president of France?

John Chambers: I did, and it wasn’t so much prediction. It was just experience. The first time I met Emmanuel Macron, he was the French economic minister at that time, and I knew the President Hollande and prime minister Valls and Le Drian, the defense minister, but the first time I met Macron, I called my wife up and said “I’ve met a future president of France.” And a year or two years later, not even my business peers in France thought that he would become president or once he declared that he was going to win, and there was no doubt in my mind because he was running from the middle as the outsider, and the outsiders won most all elections in Europe and the US at that point in time, but I learned that, back to your listening skills, when the candidate was Governor Dukakis out of Massachusetts and President Bush ended up winning it, and I was with a prior secretary of state of Massachusetts and an African-American doorman at a hotel, my friend asked him who he was going to vote for, assuming that it would be Dukakis, and assuming that he would lean that way, and he said “I voted democratic all my life, but I don’t trust this guy. I’m going to vote for the other guy.”

And then Paul went out and he asked that same question over the next two days of traveling from typical democratic constituents, and at that time Dukakis was up 15 points in the polls, and of course Bush won in hindsight. In terms of the election, people ask me on national TV in May of 2016 in the US who I thought was going to win, but I’d just come through the middle part of the nation, the south, and been talking with people about who they were thinking, including limousine driver who traditionally voted democratic, and he said “I’m going to vote for this Trump guy.” And so I got tense, I said, “Not who am I going to vote for, but who are you asking me is going to win based on momentum?” And that was May of 2016. I said I thought Trump would win the presidency.

You can connect the dots if you listen, you watch for patterns, and what I do is pattern recognition. Then I say “Now that you’ve got your pattern recognition, what are you going to do about it to be able to lead through these transitions and benefit your company or benefit your country in terms of job creation, depending on your primary goal?”

Chris Riback: Is pattern recognition a teachable skill, or are we just either born with it or not?

John Chambers: I think all the skills are teachable. You know, when we think about it Chris, you know when I look at my leaders and I evaluate them, I evaluate them on results, I evaluate them very much on how well they know the industry, how well they build teams, their communication skills, their culture, their ability to go across engineering and sales and finance, et cetera. None of us get good grades in all of those, but everybody can improve. And you can take a weakness, and my weakness was public speaking and being dyslexic, and I used to throw up before I would literally present, and you can make it a strength if you’re willing to work on it hard enough. And sometimes, that emotional connectivity, because I was dyslexic and people laughed about me, I never laugh at anybody. I’ve never raised my voice in my entire business career. Doesn’t mean I don’t have high expectations of my team, but you learn skills and then you can play them stronger. That’s what I hope I’ve done in this book, is that people who read it are able to say “Here’s a lesson I can learn, and I can adjust to myself.”

It was when I saw the regular questions, doesn’t matter if I was in Dubai, New Delhi, West Virginia, New York, Silicon Valley, the questions were remarkably similar from startups and big companies alike in terms of the commonality and that’s what I attempt to do, to address in this book, and your listeners or readers can make their own decision whether I did that or not.

Chris Riback: And that’s exactly why I started by asking you, you know, just making sure you’re clear, you’re just a small businessman with a small company of two to three total employees. Obviously, you know, tongue in cheek, what it takes … among the things that I took from your book is what it takes to be a leader, is what it takes to be a leader and that doesn’t matter if the company is two to three employees, or if it’s 70,000 Cisco employees located in every corner of the world. You know, the lessons and the play book is relevant no matter where you sit on that scale. Is that right?

John Chambers: Completely agree. Now, scale is important and the way you communicate with 70,000 people and how you get through your layers is different than how you communicate if you got 10 people in your organization or your reporting group, but the basic, you’re responsible for division strategy of your area of responsibility, developing, leading, changing the leadership team to implement that vision of strategy, the culture that you want your team to have, and then communicate all of the above.

And that communication is becoming more and more important at a faster pace in the age of social media, et cetera. But the core skills are similar and can normally be adopted through the techniques as you grow, especially if you get people around you can help advise how you evolve your leadership styles. You go from a company of 10 people to 100 to perhaps 500 to perhaps 15,000.

Chris Riback: To perhaps 70,000. Let me ask you- You can get there. Although, there’s a line you write at the end of the book that you don’t see, am I interpreting this line right? That you don’t see scaling in terms of size of company like that, maybe not … let’s not get stuck on the number, 70,000 might not be the number, 150,000 … but you see companies reaching billion dollar … I think you meant valuation, I don’t know if you meant valuations or revenue or how you were measuring billion dollar, but that could be done with two to three employees, that doesn’t require 70,000 employees as you see it today or in the near future. Is that right?

John Chambers: Well, I think you’re going to see, yes, in concept. I think you’re going to see the evolution a different way. I think if you fast forward 10 years, it might be as much as 80 million of American workers don’t work for a company or a government, they’re either contract or temporary or, if you will, advisors on it, and I think companies are going to be built off of the core skill sets and then use others to complement those skill sets, so it’s very possible you’re going to see not just a company of 10 people have a billion dollar market evaluation, or sell for a billion dollars, but perhaps even a billion dollars in revenue.

And I’m going to set some pretty ambitious goals for JC2 and see if we can’t prove out to be a model that way. But it’s the old core versus context discussion, what is your core capability? And then surround yourself with peers, usually not part of your company, but informally tied to your company, in a way that allows you to move with speed on that, and I think that model is going to change dramatically and I try to teach those opportunities to the startups that I coach.

And remember, the startups I coach are also companies that have 50 or 100 million dollar … I’m sorry, 50 billion or 100 billion revenues, ’cause I do coach several of the CEOs and the Fortune 500 as well.

Chris Riback: Yes, in other words, you’re not discriminating, John. I mean, you’re not going to not talk to someone just because she’s CEO of a $50 billion company. You wouldn’t discriminate in that way, right?

John Chambers: Well, you learn from everybody and the fact that anybody, whether it’s a startup ask me for advice or a big company does, and I love to teach.

Chris Riback: I know.

John Chambers: And my role, as I say in the book, this next time is to get this startup mentality into existing businesses because 40% of them are going to go out of business in this next decade. I’m talking about the big companies. And 70% of the startups won’t make it, and so how do you really create the go-to concepts that give you a high probability of success? And if you’re in a big company, how do you act like a startup? Because I think you have to. If you don’t, you’re going to get disrupted. And if you’re a small company, how do you disrupt and how do you learn to scale that disruption, per the questions you asked me earlier.

Chris Riback: That’s what I wanted to ask you now, is about a line you write early in the book that really stuck with me. You wrote “The biggest mistake we all make is that we get comfortable, and we get disrupted because we don’t disrupt ourselves.” What do you mean and why is that so hard?

John Chambers: Well, it’s so hard because all of us are trained to do the right thing, just three to five percent better. Doesn’t matter if you’re in business school or government or whatever role we’re in, in the media et cetera. It’s just that linear improvement, it’s the way we were brought up. The problem is, this is no longer a linear world. It’s exponential. The speed of change and disruption is so fast. An example I love to use, I was on the Walmart board. We saw Amazon coming 25 years ago, but it took them 21 years to pass us is market capitalization, the value of their company on Wall Street. GM, I’m sure, saw Tesla coming, but it took Tesla only 14 years to move past them. And Tesla, I’m sure, saw Uber coming in terms of how cars will be purchased and shared, it only took them seven years.

And so you see this thing accelerating in terms of how fast changes occur. Back to your earlier question, many of the skills that you use as a leader are applicable, whether it’s 10 people that you lead or 100,000, and many of the concepts are very applicable, just depending on scales. But the one thing that has changed is the importance of communications. You can’t be a good leader today without very strong communications. You could 30 years ago, Jack Welch will be the first one to say communications were not his strength. But, boy, his vision and strategy, his building a leadership team, and the culture he built was the best in the world for two decades, however today, communications is a key element.

And then the speed of change is, we used to kid about the internet being three times faster than traditional business. Digitization and AI is going to be three times faster, maybe five, than the Internet pace. Speed and communications had to evolve for this next decade of leadership.

Chris Riback: Two other ideas that you talk about, and these relate I think to vision, I think they relate to vision. They actually may work into a number of different areas. They might even work into execution. But you write about curiosity and you write about imagination, and I spoke recently with Beth Comstock. Speaking of GE, former vice chair of GE. And you know, she is creator of … really a bringer of imagination and, you know, eco imagination was one of the ventures of hers at GE. And she wrote a similar concept, and I’m just curious as to why, that imagination can be hard for people. Why is that?

John Chambers: I think we have it when we’re young, and I think actually, our schools and our peers kind of take us out of that role. Your peers when you’re young, there’s nothing too exciting or too daring for you. You push the envelope, you learn constantly, you get knocked down, you get back up, you fall out of trees, you climb again, and yet as we get older, we get more cautious. And I think that’s actually reinforced in the education system. I think most of us here in America would view that our K-12 education system is broken, in part because it’s teaching people … well hey, we were taught 30, 40, 50 years ago. I think we got to teach people about entrepreneurship, regardless of what line of work you go into. And I think we’ve got to dream bigger dreams.

Our country, once we decide to put somebody on the moon, we can do it. But today, we’re behind and we’re not even in the top 10 innovation countries in the world, according to the Bloomberg Index. Our startups are barely on terms of initial public offering going to cross the 200 unit level this year in a amazing strong economy, and yet during the 90’s, we were averaging 400-500 a year, and hit a peak of almost 700 startups per year. And remember, that’s where your job creation occurs. Most job creation for companies is after they go public.

I think we’ve got to realize there’s no entitlement. I think we’ve got to do a better job of dreaming, using your words, imagination. Many people might criticize me at Cisco for dreaming too big and taking on too many things and taking risks and selling at some, I did 180 acquisitions and I think everybody would agree that we probably had the best acquisition concept and model in the industry by far, and yet I wish I’d taken more risk and stretched myself and imagined even more and dreamed bigger on it. I intend to do that with the startups.

I think it’s something that can be reinforced, and I think Americans are in nature natural dreamers and with a great imagination and innovation, but we’re getting rusty. We’re reinforcing the wrong behaviors.

Chris Riback: And I want to ask you about that, I want to ask you because you do touch on current events and politics and the state of our nation, and that’s clearly something that’s on your mind, and I would even venture to say that maybe, you know, maybe one of the motivations behind this book. I mean, this book is clearly a book about teaching. It’s clearly written by somebody who enjoys and wants to teach and is, you know, worried about that. And it’s not surprising me that you have points of view on education as well. I want to ask you about that, but do you … very quickly, just to kind of finish up on the business side, you just mentioned again, JC2 Ventures. How would you characterize the philosophy of it? I would imagine the people listening to this would be thinking okay, John Chambers, guy who recognizes market shift, guy who connects dots, guy who made all those acquisitions that you just talked about at Cisco, and now he’s in the venture space coaching and, I don’t know if incubating is necessarily the right word, but helping along company startups, et cetera. What can you describe off of that in terms of a philosophy, a business philosophy? What do you look for in terms of startups? Does it matter to you sector? Are you focused on people? I just imagine the people are going to want to know how you think about these things, so why don’t you tell me?

John Chambers: Well, first of all, my primary goal is not to make money as a quote “a traditional venture capitalist.” My primary goal is to get this country’s startup engine going again and to also play a role in doing that in France and India, because if the largest company in the world population wise, IE 1.3 billion people in India, and one of the countries like France that invented the word entrepreneur and then got further away from it, can become the innovation engine for Europe, and play a small role in that, that’s pretty exciting. And if we can take our startups and mentality and bring it across all 50 states, not just California and New York, but across all 50 states, where we can do job creation and get back to the American dream that our children will have a better standard of living than their parents and their children will have better standard of living than they do, which many people in America now no longer believe.

I mean, to help make that happen is exciting. We’re more of a spatial purpose, focus, job creation, inclusion, by geography and gender based, and we key off of market transitions that are technology and business.

Chris Riback: I’m curious how you think about the divide that so many of us see in this country particularly somebody who, you know, you come from West Virginia, spiritually certainly, maybe physically you’ve left there, spiritually you haven’t. You have a huge affection for the place, clearly. It stands out, and the people in particular. And you know, the people but also, as well, your descriptions of the natural beauty there and the resources and what it was like to grow up there in Ravenswood and it all comes across. We live in a time of terror of just extreme divide, number one. Number two, then I was thinking about how you write that, from a business point of view, and you talked about it a little bit in terms of the predictions of Dukakis losing and your view of thinking that Trump was going to win. The importance of having conversations with people outside of your natural network, I think I’m kind of getting your language close to right. I might not have it exactly right, but I think that was the intent of what you were saying. That doesn’t … that’s exactly what doesn’t happen in our society today. We are … how do you view that? Because the problem that we see seems to go directly against the guidance and the teaching and the advice that you give.

John Chambers: Well, one of the reasons that I’ve been reasonably successful in building relationships with government leaders around the world, almost regardless of the form of government, is that I focus on what’s the win/win. How do the leaders win, how do their citizens win, et cetera, and I get along with democrats and republicans very well. Paul Rand and Kevin McCarthy I just talked to a couple weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi I have a huge amount of respect for. Senator McCain was a great friend of mine for over 25 years, I was one of his five national co-chairs when he ran for that. President Clinton I learned an awful lot from in the White House, nervous as can be. And the press quarter, I had the honor of announcing the internet era with President Clinton on one side and Vice President Gore on the other, and here was the young CEO, scared to death, [inaudible 00:27:01] business on how this would transform our nation, and see how it occurs.

I think we need to bring the nation back together again. I think this country likes to be led from the middle, not from the extremes, and I think if we’re going to achieve our destiny of becoming the top innovation country again, increasing our standard of living again, we’ve got to realize there is no entitlement and we can’t do it fighting each other. We’ve got to come together around some basic concepts and directions, and I think who could argue with a philosophy about more startups, more small businesses getting bigger, increasing the income of all Americans as you go forward, which we did during the 90’s with the internet. 22 and a half million jobs created in eight years. Last time America got a sustained pay raise was 24% growth in the average family household income, and 34% GDP growth.

This is doable type of numbers, but I believe it’s got to be one of inclusion and I try to do that. I think actually both gender and geographic inclusion and minority inclusion is so important to our country’s future. I think we’ll eventually get this right. I’m an optimist. I think it’ll probably get rougher before it gets better, but once the American people truly decide, with the right leadership, let’s put a person on the moon. Nobody does it better or faster than we do and I hope that those days are closer rather than further out.

Chris Riback: You know, not everyone in politics today has been a politician their whole life, John. I mean there’s room for business people in that field. You know, I’m just putting that out there. You were aware of that, right?

John Chambers: I am. I get asked that question all the time for almost 20 years. I like to move fast, I like Democrats and Republicans, I really care about innovation and inclusion on all fronts, and that’s not necessarily a recipe for a good political leader.

Chris Riback: Ok, that’s a great non-denial. You’re good at that, you do know the whole media messaging thing. No wonder you wrote a whole chapter on it.

John Chambers: Well it is, but you know what’s fun, Chris? In my current role, I no longer have to be politically correct in the sense of watching out because I have a company and shareholders and sales everywhere in the world, and so I’m pretty open about my views now. I still do it with, I hope, good professionalism and part of the southern charm that my family helped drive into me, but I will be very candid about my views about trade deficits cannot continue versus China. I know China better than anybody else for 35 years. I’ve been in China, did a joint venture in China, the first one ever, part of my laboratories et cetera. But the deficit has grown so fast at 40% growth per year over the last several decades and gone from what was less than $100 million to almost $400 … I’m sorry, what was $100 billion just 15 years ago, and now is like $300 billion, you have to fix that. I think we’ve got to learn how do we deal with issues and find a way to make them work, and then how do you realize things change?

And India, in my opinion, should be the most strategic relationship America has in the world. For every reason, from the largest democracy and the first democracy to shared common goals in terms of citizens and economic benefits. I like being unshackled, if you would, was one of the words you used earlier when we were talking prior to when the podcast started. And I try to be more transparent on it.

One reason I’m pretty good with the media is I do say what I believe of, and if I want to dodge a question, I can dodge it. But I can be more candid now than before.

Chris Riback: Understood. Yes, it’s a time of transparency, no doubt. To close out John, you are a person, you made clear you’re a person who looks at what’s next. Not only in terms of the market shifts, but you tell the story that I guess you didn’t attend any of your graduations, which made me wonder, did your parents show up though at the graduations? But you just didn’t show up? I mean, how did that …

John Chambers: No, no. My parent’s would’ve reminded me that’s not the way you treat family. But I didn’t go to my high school graduation, my college graduation, my law degree graduation, Indiana graduation. I was on to my next chapter. I only went to one going away party and that was 40,000 people at the 49ers stadium at Cisco, and mainly because my team said “John, you owe it to your Cisco family to go.” And it was fun, but I’m always on to the next chapter and I think that’s what makes the country great and hopefully business leaders great.

And something we didn’t talk on Chris, kind of a takeaway for your group, is many of us think of a leader and how she or he was successful. We talk about that more. For those of us who are parents, we know that … like your oldest son who’s graduating college this year, and congratulations, you never worry about them getting a good grade or scoring a goal in soccer when they’re younger. You worry about when they get knocked down, when they learn how to get up and deal with that. And that teaches you more about life, so when I talk about leadership, I actually think you’re every bit as much a product of how you handled your failures, your setbacks, as your successes. That’s kind of the messaging I hope to do in the book, was sending that message so people could go back to it and read sections again when they get knocked on their butt. And everybody will. And how do you deal with the challenges? I’ve seen challenges that many people would never want to see, unfortunately. Some of them I’ve handled well, some of them I could’ve done better, but I’m more a product of how I handled my challenges; my dyslexia, 2001, than I am all the successes. At least I think so.

Chris Riback: Yes, you make that clear in the book in the looking back. It is the type of book that the lessons in there, where in my view, and we had a chance to discuss this very briefly, I think it’s a type of book that not only does one return to, but one passes it forward, because there is something there for whatever stage one is at in business, or frankly, in life. And I know that you enjoy teaching, I think that it would-

John Chambers: I do, I love it.

Chris Riback: And it’s one of the ways, I think, that you humbly would view yourself, and it comes across in this book. Just to close out, with that looking forward, and having that be such a part of who you are, where would you be going if you were graduating today? What’s your view of what’s next?

John Chambers: Well, your son’s graduating at 21 and your daughter is a teenager in high school. If I were advising your daughter, I would say go to a school that teaches how technology and entrepreneurship can come together and what role artificial intelligence and digitization might play there, and you could write your own ticket after that.

For your son, I would say keep an open mind on where you go. I know that he’s a history and a business combination, and my daughter was as well. And I think you can learn a lot from history about what to do and what not to do, but I would think about being an entrepreneur and I would go to a startup. When I talk to university students around the world and I poll them all the time, 10 years ago I asked how many of them would go to a startup and probably less than 20% of the people in the audience would stay for a startup. Didn’t matter if it was Polytechnique in France or IT in India or West Virginia University of Stanford. Today I ask and the vast majority, often as much as 80%, want to go to a startup. And I think the reason is ’cause that’s where you can use your skills and take risks and really empower many of the issues that we talked about today. That would be my advice for people either heading toward college or graduating from college, in terms of something to think hard about.

But one key takeaway, and Chris, you probably would agree with me as a father, all you care is that your children are happy, healthy, and have a good education. After that, they can control their own destiny.

Chris Riback: That’s for sure. John, thank you. Thank you for the time, and for the book. A lot of important lessons and information and guidance and, you know, we get to learn from the things that you did well, surely. But also the areas where you look back and wish that you had done something different or done better and that you learned from, so thank you on all fronts.

John Chambers: Chris, it was a pleasure. You have a great day.

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