YPO HARVARD 2014 PRESIDENT S PROGRAM

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1 YPO HARVARD 2014 PRESIDENT S PROGRAM HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL SPEECH to THE YOUNG PRESIDENTS ORGANIZATION THE PRESIDENT S PROGRAM IN LEADERSHIP January 11th, 2014 GOOD EVENING.MY NAME IS MATTHEW AND I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO BE YOUR GUIDE TONIGHT AS YOU ENTER WHAT IS, PERHAPS, THE MOST EXCLUSIVE AND UNUSUAL CLUB IN THE WORLD remembering NINE YEARS AGO I SAT WHERE YOU RE SITTING FRANKLY NOT SURE WHAT I WAS IN FOR remembering I HAD HEARD HORROR STORIES ABOUT THE CASE METHOD AND THE CLASS DISCUSSIONS HERE AT HARVARD I WAS NEW TO YPO AND FELT A LITTLE AWKWARD THINKING OF MYSELF AS A YOUNG PRESIDENT WHAT WAS I DOING HERE? I GLANCED AT THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS SITTING NEAR ME THEY ALL LOOKED SMART AND CONFIDENT INCIDENTALLY MOST OF THEM ARE STILL CLOSE FRIENDS AND ACTIVE COLLEAGUES OF MINE TO THIS DAY THEN I NOTICED THE ROOM WE WERE IN ALL WAINSCOATING AND PORTRAITS OF PAST PRESIDENTS HUNG ABOVE THE CHAIR RAIL HIGHLY POLISHED HEAVY OAK FURNITURE SURE ENOUGH HARVARD I THOUGHT remembering what you were thinking back then I M STUDYING AT HARVARD THE ELITE HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL I WONDER I REMEMBER THINKING IF THESE SMART GUYS AROUND HERE EVER HAD TO MAKE A PAYROLL WELL TO GIVE THEM THEIR DUE THEY SURE KNOW HOW TO SEND OUT INVOICES back to the present I WAS FEELING OUT OF PLACE AND A LITTLE UNSURE OF WHAT I WAS DOING HERE AFTER ALL I HAD STARTED AT THE TOP remembering what you were thinking again YOUNG PRESIDENTS HAVE NO PLACE TO GO THERE S NO CAREER PATH I M ALREADY WHERE EVERYONE

2 ELSE SPENDS THEIR WHOLE CAREER TRYING TO GET SO WHAT DO I NEED WITH THIS PROGRAM? I GUESS IF I PAY CLOSE ATTENTION AND LEARN HOW TO GET ALONG WITH THESE PEOPLE SOME DAY I WILL GET TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY a thought dawns on you BUT I ALREADY AM PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY back to the present I KNEW AT THAT MOMENT IF I WAS GOING TO GET ANYTHING OUT OF THIS PROGRAM I NEEDED AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT AND TO MY SHOCK AND AMAZEMENT I HAD ONE RIGHT THEN AND THERE I SUDDENLY SAW MYSELF CLEARLY PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST TIME I WAS A PRESIDENT ALRIGHT BUT NOT A VERY GOOD ONE I WAS A POOR LEADER I WASN T EVEN THE SMARTEST GUY IN MY COMPANY I JUST BARELY MADE IT THROUGH COLLEGE MY WIFE WAS EVEN STARTING TO COME TO HER SENSES another dawning THAT S WHY I WAS HERE MY WIFE SENT ME NO ACTUALLY MY BOARD SENT ME BUT WHAT DOES THAT TELL ME? back to the present SO AS I SAT WHERE YOU ARE SITTING TONIGHT THESE THOUGHTS RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD I HAD ANOTHER REVELATION I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE IT CAME FROM BUT I THOUGHT OF A QUOTE BY WINSTON CHURCHILL THAT TOLD ME EXACTLY HOW I WOULD HANDLE THIS PROGRAM AT HARVARD. SUCCESS CONSISTS CHURCHILL SAID OF GOING FROM FAILURE TO FAILURE WITHOUT LOSS OF ENTHUSIASM. THAT WAS IT AT THAT MOMENT I COULD CLEARLY SEE MY ENTIRE CAREER HERE AT HARVARD LAYED OUT IN FRONT OF ME AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED FOR NINE YEARS I HAVE GONE FROM FAILURE TO FAILURE WITHOUT LOSS OF ENTHUSIASM AN EMBARRASSMENT HERE A SLIP OF THE TONGUE THERE A LITTLE MISUNDERSTANDING MORE WRENCHING REALIZATIONS a smile of satisfaction EACH FAILURE, HOWEVER, TAUGHT ME A LESSON AND I HAVE CODIFIED THESE PAINFUL PERSONAL LESSONS INTO WHAT I CALL LEHRER S LAWS FOR SURVIVAL AT HARVARD NOW THESE ARE NOT OFFICIAL TEACHINGS OF THE PROGRAM BY ANY MEANS BUT I OFFER THEM TO YOU TONIGHT IN THE HOPE THAT YOU CAN AVOID MOST OF THE FAILURES THAT LED TO MY pause here looking for a word WELL SHALL WE SAY ENTHUSIASM THIS IS LEHRER S FIRST LAW FOR EVERY COMPLEX PROBLEM THERE IS AN ANSWER THAT IS CLEAR, SIMPLE AND WRONG NOW THIS FIRST LAW CAME TO ME AFTER I THOUGHT I HAD THE ANSWER TO A CASE THAT EVERYONE ELSE HAD MISSED A BRILLIANT INSIGHT JUST DAWNED ON ME IN CLASS ONE DAY LIKE WHEN EINSTEIN WOKE UP AFTER HIS NAP WITH THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY COMPLETE IN HIS HEAD I RAISED MY HAND AND ANNOUNCED MY INSIGHT IN, WHAT COULD ONLY BE CALLED, A CONDESCENDING TONE OF VOICE THE PROFESSOR LISTENED RESPECTFULLY THEN BEGAN ASKING ME THOSE LITTLE ANNOYING, PROBING

3 QUESTIONS THEY LIKE TO ASK AROUND HERE THE REST OF THE CLASS CAUGHT ON TO HIS SKEPTICISM QUICKLY AND JUMPED IN WITH KNOWING ASIDES AND VEILED SARCASM I BEGAN A SLOW DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS SO LET ME JUST SAY THIS IF YOU THINK A BRILLIANT ANSWER HAS DAWNED ON YOU IN CLASS DON T RAISE YOUR HAND! remembering the horror of it all WHICH BRINGS US TO LEHRER S SECOND LAW look down and read again A CLOSED MOUTH GATHERS NO FOOT MY FIRST NIGHT ON THE BUSINESS SCHOOL CAMPUS, I FOUND MYSELF STANDING NEXT TO PROFESSOR MACFARLAND AT THE OPENING COCKTAIL RECEPTION ASSUMING HE WAS A YPO MEMBER I ATTEMPTED TO BOND WITH HIM I M NOT SURE THESE PROFESSORS KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS I BEGAN PROFESSOR MACFARLAND LOOKED AT ME WITH THAT GOOFY LOOK YOU LL COME TO KNOW AND LOVE AND SAID DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? NO I SAID, OFFERING MY HAND. ABOUT TO INTRODUCE MYSELF HE DIDN T TAKE MY HAND BUT SAID SIMPLY I M PROFESSOR WARREN MACFARLAND OH I SAID SURPRISED AND EMBARASSED DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?. NO I M AFRAID I DON T HE SAID THANK GOD I SAID WALKING AWAY AT THAT MOMENT I KNEW CHURCHILL WAS RIGHT I WAS DESTINED TO GO FROM FAILURE TO FAILURE look down reading the card look back up at the audience OH AND THE THIRD LAW YOU WOULD NEVER GUESS UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN CASE DISCUSSIONS HOWEVER AFTER A LITTLE EXPERIENCE WITH THE CASE STUDY METHOD HERE AT THE BUSINESS SCHOOL YOU LL RECOGNIZE IT THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER read from the card again THE CONCLUSION IS THE PLACE WHERE YOU GOT TIRED OF THINKING. CASE DISCUSSIONS WILL GET A LITTLE HEATED AND EGOS WILL START TO FLARE A CASE STUDY BATTLE CONCLUDES ONLY WHEN EVERYONE IS EXHAUSTED NOT NECESSARILY WHEN YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT THE TRUTH glance at the card look up WHICH BRINGS US TO LEHRER S FOURTH LAW IF YOU COME TO A FORK IN THE ROAD TAKE IT. look up from the card THEY ARE ATTEMPTING TO ENGAGE YOUR MIND HERE AT HARVARD DECISION TREES BEN FRANKLIN TEES STRATEGIC ANALYSIS THINK THINK THINK SOME MORE stage whisper here.. DON T LET THESE GUYS GET YOU THINKING TOO MUCH glance at the card again resume a normal tone look at the audience.. YOU MAY NEVER MAKE A DECISION AGAIN

4 THEN FINALLY MY LAST LAW WHICH MODIFIES THE FIRST FOUR GOOD JUDGEMENT COMES FROM EXPERIENCE BUT A LOT OF EXPERIENCE COMES FROM BAD JUDGEMENT EVEN IF SOME OF YOUR EXPERIENCES ARE DESTINED TO BE AS AWKWARD AS MINE DON T HESITATE GIVE THIS PROGRAM EVERYTHING YOU VE GOT DON T BE TIMID DON T BE INTIMIDATED AND BELIEVE THE WISDOM OF MARK TWAIN WHO SAID TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW YOU WILL BE MORE DISAPPOINTED BY THE THINGS YOU DIDN T DO THAN BY THE ONES YOU DID DO. let the thought sink in and then continue IN A FEW MINUTES WE WILL BEGIN OUR TRADITIONAL INDUCTION CEREMONY RAY HICKOCK, THE FOUNDER OF YPO, UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE OF SYMBOLS IN OUR LIVES IN A MOMENT YOU WILL ALL BE TAKING A CEREMONIAL TASTE OF THE ORIGINAL WINE RAY USED IN 1954 TO SYMBOLIZE THE SHARED NOURISHMENT OF AN INTELLECTUAL COMMUNITY BY USING THE IDENTICAL WINE THAT RAY USED THE WINE BECOMES A SYMBOL OF CONTINUITY THE CONTINUITY OF A COLLECTIVE INTELLECT STRETCHING BACK TO THE PROGRAM S BEGINNING IN 1954 YOUR TUTORS WILL THEN PLACE THE CEREMONIAL SCARF ONTO YOUR SHOULDERS TO SYMBOLIZE YOUR BELONGING AND TO REMIND YOU THAT AFTER TONIGHT YOU ARE NEVER ALONE AGAIN solemn tone WHEN ASKED WHAT THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF BEING PRESIDENT WAS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN ANSWERED, SIMPLY, LONELINESS THE DAILY CHOICES AND JUDGMENTS YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO MAKE IN YOUR ROLE AS PRESIDENT WILL NEVER AGAIN BE MADE IN THE ISOLATION OF YOUR MIND WHATEVER YOUR DOUBTS WHATEVER YOUR MISGIVINGS WHATEVER YOUR EXPECTATIONS YOU WILL REMEMBER THIS NIGHT THIS INDUCTION CEREMONY THIS MOMENT IN TIME AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NIGHTS OF YOUR LIFE TONIGHT I MAKE YOU A SOLEMN PROMISE look at the audience speak slowly THAT FIVE DAYS FROM NOW YOU WILL BE WONDERING HOW YOU EVER FUNCTIONED WITHOUT HBS AND THE COLLECTIVE INTELLECTUAL ENERGY OF YOUR CLASSMATES YOU WILL BEGIN TO CRAVE MORE DISCUSSION YOU WILL YEARN FOR ANOTHER POINT-OF-VIEW YOU WILL SEEK DISAGREEMENT MORE THAN AGREEMENT YOU LL BE WONDERING HOW YOU RE GOING TO FUNCTION IN WHAT YOU WILL START TO THINK OF AS THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND IN A CERTAIN SENSE YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE HERE YOUR INTELLECT IS ABOUT TO BEGIN FUNCTIONING IN A LARGER ENERGY FIELD THE COLLECTIVE INTELLECTUAL ENERGY OF YOUR CLASSMATES THE PROFESSORS AND ALL THE OTHER MEMBERS OF YPO WHO HAVE COMPLETED THIS PROGRAM TONIGHT YOU WILL BE INDUCTED INTO AN INTELLECTUAL SECRET SOCIETY YOU DID NOT KNOW EXISTED BUT ONE YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO BE EXCLUDED FROM AGAIN look at the audience for a beat or two continue STEVE JOBS ONCE SAID, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, ARE THE ONES WHO DO. YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

5 PLEASE JOIN ME NOW IN YOUR INDUCTION INTO THE PRESIDENT S PROGRAM IN LEADERSHIP (RUNNING TIME: 9:51) Frank is clearly a talented and witty writer but beyond that he also took the time to deeply understand what I was trying to achieve for my project and essentially hit it out of the park with the results. If I had a similar project in the future I would absolutely hire him again. ~ teamwork_guru

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