Navigating Change with Jim Keyes Leadership, Innovation, and the Path to Freedom

Dive into a compelling dialogue with Jim Keyes, former CEO of 7-Eleven and Blockbuster, as he unfolds the narrative of his transformative leadership journey with Martin Rowinski on Leadership Talks. Keyes delves into the dynamics of change, innovation, and strategic foresight that marked his tenure in the evolving retail and entertainment sectors. This episode not only explores Keyes’s storied career but also highlights his latest contribution to leadership literature, “Education is Freedom.” Discover how Keyes champions the power of knowledge as the ultimate liberator and antidote to fear in today’s fast-paced business environment. For more insights and to explore his book, visit https://www.jameswkeyes.com/

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Jim shares insights on navigating digital transformation, leveraging innovation to overcome business challenges, and incorporating sustainability and social responsibility into business strategies. Keyes also discusses the essential qualities of effective leadership, the value of mentorship, and his vision for the future of retail and the entertainment industry. He concludes by highlighting the importance of education and knowledge in overcoming fear and achieving success.

Takeaways:

– Embrace change and view it as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
– Confidence is key in leadership, and it comes from preparation and continuous learning.
– Maintain clarity in communication and decision-making to drive success.
– Incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into business strategies for long-term success.
– Education and knowledge are the antidotes to fear and the keys to personal and professional growth.

@boardsi9021 #boardsi #LeadershipInsights #JimKeyes #RetailEvolution #InnovationInBusiness #StrategicLeadership #ChangeManagement #DigitalTransformation #EducationIsFreedom #BoardsiLeadershipTalks #JmaesKeys #Blockbuster #BlockbusterStory #7-Eleven #7eleven #Leadership #LeadershipTalks #Change

Transcript:

Martin Rowinski (00:02.686)
Welcome to Leadership Talks. In this engaging episode, I, Martin Rowinski, co-founder and CEO of Boardsi, am thrilled to sit down with distinguished Mr. James Keyes, a globally recognized leader and former CEO of 7-Eleven and blog buster. James brings to the table a wealth of experience from his current role as chairman of Key Development, his transformative leadership at Wild Oats Marketplace.
and his strategic advisory roles. With a background that spans decades at the helm of major corporations, James shares invaluable insights into navigating leadership challenges, driving innovation, and the pivotal decision that have marked his journey through the evolving landscape of retail and entertainment industries. From his early days at 7-Eleven.
transforming convenience retailing to steering blockbuster through the digital revolution and onto his visionary work with Wild Oats Marketplace. James’ journey is a testament to the power of visionary leadership and strategic agility. Join us as we delve into the lessons learned and importance of adaptability in leadership and how to stay ahead in rapidly changing industries. Welcome, James, or do you prefer Jim?

Jim Keyes (01:23.967)
Thank you. Jim works, Martin. Thank you.

Martin Rowinski (01:27.47)
Awesome, so happy to have you here. I’ll jump right into it unless you want to say something before I do.

Jim Keyes (01:30.263)
Good morning.

Jim Keyes (01:35.256)
Dive in it made me sound like a really old guy though when he gave all those

Martin Rowinski (01:41.098)
It’s just your experience. It’s just, you look great. It’s just your experience. So speaking of that, how has your leadership style evolved from your early days at 7-Eleven to your tenure at Blockbuster and now beyond?

Jim Keyes (01:45.826)
Hahaha!

Jim Keyes (01:58.098)
I’ve got a different way of looking at leadership, Martin. We’ve all read the books, right? Servant leadership, leadership management by walking around, this kind of leader, that kind of leader, I think there is one most common denominator in all leadership. It’s about change. Because what you use as a leadership style today,
is probably going to have to change for a leadership style tomorrow. Because circumstances change, people change, things change. And I’ve coined this expression change equals opportunity because most people, the average person doesn’t really like change. But a leader recognizes that it’s opportunity and embraces that change and responds to it in a favorable way.

Martin Rowinski (02:54.922)
I agree, I look at it as same without failure, right? A lot of people hate to fail and then they give up. I look at it as opportunity to learn and grow and get better.

Jim Keyes (03:05.846)
Exactly. I’ll share with you a quote, one of my favorite quotes, Nelson Mandela. I never learn, I never lose. He said, here’s a guy that spent like 23 years in prison. And when he was in prison, he, he studied law, came out of prison with his peers, became president of the country. Right. And his mantra is I never lose. I win or I learn.
And that’s so accurate. It’s so appropriate for any kind of leadership.

Martin Rowinski (03:40.77)
It’s very, very true. Yep, I agree. What were the key strategies you employed to navigate the companies through the digital transformation and changing market landscape?

Jim Keyes (03:56.098)
But I’ve adopted three things that I teach a lot when I’m discussing, you know, with a business school class or young entrepreneurs. I teach three things. Basically, it’s change and embracing change and recognizing as the opportunity, recognizing change as the opportunity that it is. The second is confidence because fear is probably the biggest culprit in killing.
companies killing careers, people let fear creep in. It’s insecurity, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, all that nonsense that creates a lot of dysfunction in both the individual’s work environment or the corporation itself. Corporation can be vulnerable to fear. So confidence comes through preparation. The more you can prepare,
the more confident you will be. And it takes confidence to succeed. So that’s the second. And the third is clarity, because we complicate the heck out of everything. And I’ve had so many opportunities to sit there and say, man, it sounds like I think it’s a good plan, but I don’t even understand it. So I can’t repeat it. So how am I ever gonna get anybody to execute that? And clarity and simplicity, if you will.

Martin Rowinski (05:04.774)
Ha ha ha.

Jim Keyes (05:25.142)
comes in two forms. There’s inbound. So are you listening? Are you able to, you know, digest what somebody’s really saying with effective critical thinking and asking why? And then are you communicating? So it’s inbound communications and outbound communications that have to be kept simple. If you can do those three things, have the ability to embrace change and to keep your head up, to have confidence, to make it through the change.
and to have clarity of communications both inbound and ex-bound or external, those three things will help you navigate virtually any crisis that comes in your path.

Martin Rowinski (06:05.886)
I love it. So that three C’s to help you conquer the final C crisis. Love it. Can you share an instance where innovation played a pivotal role in overcoming a business challenge?

Jim Keyes (06:12.318)
Exactly, exactly, exactly.

Jim Keyes (06:23.374)
Sure. It’s 7Eleven. Interestingly, the company was in Chapter 11 restructuring in 1991. We had a really unique opportunity because our largest licensee was in Japan. 7-Eleven Japan had used technology to reinvent the business. They did it. Timing-wise, they started probably…
40, 50 years after 7-Eleven was born in the United States. So they got to start with scanning with technology that allowed them to capture data warehousing, et cetera. Where in the United States, we were still having, you know, old cash registers that weren’t even smart. They weren’t scanners, they were just manual cash registers, if you can imagine. What we saw in Japan was their ability to manage their inventory.
in ways we had never seen at retail before. They knew by SKU, by individual item, what that item sold by hour of the day. And they could take that information, put it in the hands of the store operator to make better decisions about what to order tomorrow for each individual SKU. What this enabled was for 7-Eleven Japan to be able to go from selling…
regular packaged goods to be able to sell fresh sushi, literally, made in a commissary, delivered three times a day, just in time, with absolute optimal quality for the consumer. So they used technology, and we borrowed that for here in the United States, to transform the way they were able to satisfy the customer in ways that had been unheard of previously.

Martin Rowinski (08:11.606)
Well, hearing that makes me just think now adding AI into that, crunching all that data, that would just be the next level, I’m guessing, right?

Jim Keyes (08:23.726)
Absolutely, there’s unlimited opportunities to be able to use AI to enhance those capabilities. But there is an interesting difference, though, and this is something that a lot of people make the mistake on. In fact, I’ll use Tesco as an example. Tesco is a big British retailer. They decided to copy 7-Eleven Japan’s infrastructure. So they built 200 stores, they built a commissary, they built daily delivery warehouse capabilities.
physical infrastructure of 7-Eleven Japan, and they failed in their operations here in the United States. But here’s why. Because with their technology, they decided that their algorithms were so sophisticated that they could take the thinking out of the store, and they could replace that thinking with algorithms that would tell the warehouse what to deliver to every store every day. Now, the downside of that is that…
Retailing here’s my favorite example of what retailing represents It’s the guy on the street selling fake handbags in New York City, right? You see him. I was a lot of them right there all over the place. This is pure retailing, right? So those fake handbags what happens when one drop of rain falls? Well, they have to cover up the handbags, right?

Martin Rowinski (09:34.31)
There’s a lot of them. Yeah, I’ve seen him.

Martin Rowinski (09:47.522)
And they’re good at it. They’re quick because they’re all sitting on a blanket.

Jim Keyes (09:49.458)
Oh, they’re fast. But here’s what else they do. Out come the umbrellas.

Jim Keyes (09:57.71)
Talk about real-time response to change. They’re able to pivot, and they, as the retailer, aha, it’s raining. I feel the rain drops on my head. I can pivot and make a better decision about what to sell right now. Now take that same logic and put it in a big box or a small box store, and that store operator knows that the street had construction crews on it this morning.
Computer may take two days to recognize that had an impact on sales. And this is the difference between overusing technology. We’re gonna run into this with AI. No, AI is gonna be smarter than the people. So we’ll be able to use AI to order better than that retailer. Maybe never, maybe never. Because you lack that real time eyes and ears capability of the retailer.

Martin Rowinski (10:30.208)
Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (10:45.866)
Yep.

Martin Rowinski (10:54.274)
Yeah, I truly believe, especially here at Boardsi because we’re utilizing AI, but we’re never going to let go of the human. One, I mean, we’re a recruiting company for board positions. There’s a human touch always necessary, and AI doesn’t make the best decisions. So the human factor is always going to be there. But I think it should be like that in every industry. Yes, you can use it to help you, but you should not rely on it 100%.

Jim Keyes (11:23.267)
Exactly. It’s supplement rather than replace. Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (11:24.198)
Yeah, absolutely, yep. How do you approach making tough decisions in high-stakes situations?

Jim Keyes (11:34.858)
Uh, it depends. Um, I, I think input is very important. Um, you know, the ability to collect as much data as you can. The way I look at it is you never make a wrong decision if you make it with the best data that’s available. Because you made the best decision that could be made at that point with that information.
So the collection of information is critically important. The ability to rely on your team so that you’re not vulnerable, we all are vulnerable to bias. Oh, I think this is gonna happen. Well, that’s what collaboration is all about, to be able to work with your team, to get other points of view and help you think in a different way. In the book, I talked about the importance of collaboration.

Martin Rowinski (12:14.222)
Yeah.

Jim Keyes (12:32.174)
cultural literacy and character in being able to make those critically important decisions. Cultural literacy is important because there’s a lot of banter about the word diversity now and DEI and all that kind of stuff. But really what it’s about is understanding that everyone is unique and they have something to offer. So if I can learn from you, then that’s going to make me more effective.
from actually learning from you. And the more different you are, culturally, physically, intellectually, the more I have a chance of learning something that I don’t otherwise know from you. So I think those three things on the character, of course, the described character is kind of your brand. We all have a brand, just like companies and products. The ability to trust that what I say is going to be truthful. So integrity.
humility, not humility in the sense of, oh, I’m not that good. No, humility in the sense that I have more to learn. So yeah, I’m really confident, but I also have more to learn. So I’m going to listen to you. That’s, that’s true humility. Those, those are the things character that build your character and your brand. And so I would say those three things when it comes to really making hard decisions, the ability to count on.
collaboration, to have cultural literacy and the ability to bring in other people that are different from you to make a better choice in those critical decisions and then the character that both you display and you have among your team to be able to count on each other with integrity and with honesty and compassion.

Martin Rowinski (14:21.674)
I love it. I love it. Like my mom always used to say, you got two years for a reason and only one mouth. Listen.

Jim Keyes (14:29.042)
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Your mom would have made a great business person. Your mom would have made a great, great board member.

Martin Rowinski (14:31.642)
So with your experience… What was that?

Martin Rowinski (14:39.527)
Well, probably her upbringing was during World War II in Poland, so she’s been through a lot. So, yeah. Here’s a tough one. With your experience at Blockbuster, what lessons did you learn about adapting to industry disruption? Now, I know as far as I remember, you were not CEO of Blockbuster when it all obviously started shutting down. But I know that…

Jim Keyes (14:47.502)
Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (15:06.914)
You were fighting to do a refinance, correct? That refinance?

Jim Keyes (15:10.506)
Yeah, yeah, I arrived in 2007. There’s a lot of rumor about Netflix approached Blockbuster with the ability to buy them for $50 million. And, you know, that happened in 2000. So seven years before I got there, 23 years ago. So it’s easy to look back today and say, oh, wow, those guys should have bought Netflix for $50 million. Well, Netflix was just a startup back then. So

Martin Rowinski (15:25.018)
Uh-huh.
Ha ha

Jim Keyes (15:38.686)
It’s hard to argue by 2007 they were worth 1.7 billion. So that was not an option for me when I arrived to acquire Netflix. We did talk to them about collaboration potentially our big challenge at Blockbuster was that there was a billion dollars of debt on the balance sheet and that would have been fine. The company had sufficient cash flow to manage a debt load of a billion dollars, but for the 2008 financial collapse.
So when Lehman Brothers went down, we had a refinancing due in 2009, about a third of that debt. And that was impossible to accomplish given the bank’s collapse. And it led inevitably to the need to restructure the company. But we successfully did restructure Blockbuster, took it through a filing, and found a strategic partner in Dish Networks who bought the company.

Martin Rowinski (16:22.234)
Yeah.

Jim Keyes (16:37.942)
and then emerged on the other side of a bankruptcy.

Martin Rowinski (16:41.57)
Got it. See, those are things I didn’t know. So that’s awesome to hear. Thank you.

Jim Keyes (16:46.37)
Yeah, a lot of people don’t know the blockbuster story. It’s so easy to look back in history and take the easy answer, which isn’t necessarily the right answer, which, oh, Netflix was better. Blockbuster didn’t keep up with technology. Netflix crushed Blockbuster. What no one knows is what went on behind the scenes that actually gave us a strong competitive advantage versus Netflix.
But Netflix had no debt. We had a billion dollars in a collapsed financial market. Game over.

Martin Rowinski (17:21.306)
Yeah, 2008 didn’t help. I was a mortgage refinance broker. I felt the pain. So I understand.

Jim Keyes (17:28.862)
Oh yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Martin Rowinski (17:34.563)
What do you believe are the essential qualities of effective leadership in today’s global business environment?

Jim Keyes (17:42.53)
You know, I think, as I said before, I’m gonna be a little repetitive because the ability to embrace change is critically important, especially in the environment we’re in now. The ability to have confidence and to not let that confidence drift over into pure arrogance, which is the governor there, the moderating factor, as I mentioned, is humility. The ability to know you have more to learn.
And then finally, you know, the ability to communicate is something that’s a bit of a lost art, you know, there’s a lot of talk today about you know, you don’t need college and You know, you can learn anything you need to learn on the internet and etc, etc But those fundamental communication skills that come from your basic college English literature writing papers for history class, you know that communications capability and listening ability that is
kind of nurtured in that academic environment, they’re critically important in the real world as you get out into a leadership role to be able to have that simplicity of communication.

Martin Rowinski (18:51.894)
Love it. And it’s so true, communication is a, I don’t know if I wanna call it lost art, but some people just don’t know how to communicate.
So how important has mentorship been in your career and what advice would you give to emerging leaders?

Jim Keyes (19:12.526)
Martin, could you repeat that question for me one time?

Martin Rowinski (19:16.406)
Absolutely. How important has mentorship been in your career and what advice would you give to emerging leaders?

Jim Keyes (19:24.738)
It’s obviously, it’s critically important to have people around you that you can trust, that can guide you, can give you advice. So I have been very fortunate to have had very good mentors over the years. Now it’s interesting though because sometimes mentors can also teach you what not to do. And I’ve had bad bosses. We’ve all seen it. And we’ve all been there. It’s like, oh, I can’t believe I have to work for this knucklehead.
But you can learn even in a bad boss environment because there are things that people do that you don’t want to do. There are behaviors that they can display that you learn from what not to do in terms of behavior. So there are integrity issues that you can learn. I don’t wanna be like that person. I want to be trusted. And so I think mentorship, good or bad.
the ability to learn from others is critically important.

Martin Rowinski (20:28.222)
Absolutely. And now let’s talk a little bit about retail site based on your vast experience. How do you see the future of retail and I guess entertainment industry? How is that going to evolve?

Jim Keyes (20:41.858)
Well, I think I’m a bit unusual. You know, I didn’t grow up saying I want to go be a retailer. You know, I don’t know anybody that does. Right. Um, it’s a noble profession. It goes back hundreds and thousands of years, but, um, it’s not the most exciting profession, you know, I want to go build rockets or, you know, be a rocket scientist, be a doctor. Wow. Okay. No, I want to go be a retailer and sell produce.

Martin Rowinski (20:48.858)
Ha ha.

Martin Rowinski (21:03.683)
Hahaha.

Jim Keyes (21:11.222)
But here’s what I found, and I kind of got there by mistake. And here’s what I found once I got to retail in 7-Eleven, that it is one of the most interesting and exciting forms of business. And people go, I’ll tell this story at business school, and kids look at me and they go, what? You’re crazy. Retail, come on. But think about it. You talk about changing dynamic. All business is about change, right?

Martin Rowinski (21:31.44)
Heh.

Jim Keyes (21:40.918)
Well, I’m partnering with a rocket company right now. Fun stuff. They’re planning the next big rocket, like a starship for low-earth orbit that’ll carry massive numbers of satellites and people in the low-earth orbit, not to the moon or Mars. Really cool niche that they’ve carved out. Well, they’re planning the design now, and they’re raising money for it. But this process will take years and years, so it’ll be a minimum of
five years before we see the first prototype, and then maybe seven or eight years before we have the first launch, right? And then it’ll be years after that we get to scale and start launching every week. Here’s the contrast. Retail, if I find a new product, I put it on the shelf, and tomorrow morning I’ll tell you how it did. I can invent a new idea. Tomorrow morning I put it on the shelf, and within two days I’ll know it’s a success or a failure.
So what retail gives you that other forms of business don’t is immediate feedback. If you’ve got the data to be able to track results and monitor how the consumer’s actually responding to what you put on the shelf. That’s what makes retail fascinating, especially for an ADD guy like me that’s just like, I want, I don’t wanna wait six years for an answer. I want it now.

Martin Rowinski (22:58.818)
Hahaha

Martin Rowinski (23:05.294)
Yeah, wait six, 15 years and find out it was a waste of time? That would suck. Yeah, 100%.

Jim Keyes (23:09.726)
It can happen. It can happen. You know, I met with I met with some guys at Bell Helicopter recently and I was with the guy that invented the, uh, the Osprey, the, uh, vertical takeoff and landing, uh, fixed wing aircraft, which is a really cool innovation. And he described the process. He spent like 15 years of his career just in development, uh, of that capability. And then finally got to see it fly. But what if it didn’t work?
You know, you spend 15 years of your career building up to that moment that you discover, you know what, this technology is never going to work. And then in his case, it worked. It was great. But it happens. And that’s what’s exciting about retail. Immediate feedback.

Martin Rowinski (23:39.498)
Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (23:47.654)
Ha ha ha!

Martin Rowinski (23:56.99)
Yeah, no, that is good. That is good. How do you incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into a business strategy?

Jim Keyes (24:06.83)
So, you know, I’ve got a little different way of thinking about social responsibility. I don’t really look at it as responsibility, and even though, yes, technically it is, I do believe though that social good and shareholder value are not mutually exclusive. That they can be the same. That people have found throughout history.
that I can do something that’s good for the world or good for my community that also makes me money. And it’s a win-win situation. So those opportunities are out there all the time. Companies sometimes get blasted for doing something that is perceived to be virtue signaling or, oh, those guys are just doing it to, you know, improve their image with this demographic.
whatever it is. No, most of the time they’re saying, you know what, here’s a vertical, a consumer demographic that we’re not getting today and we’re gonna create this product or we’re gonna take this strategy, this marketing strategy and we’re gonna go get that. And that’s gonna be good for the company and it’s gonna be good for them. And that gets misinterpreted often as doing things for the wrong reasons.
But at the end of the day, CEOs are all capitalists. They’re out making money. And if they can figure out a way to make money and also do good, that’s a wonderful thing.

Martin Rowinski (25:39.935)
Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (25:44.614)
That’s a win-win. Yeah. So coming towards the end of it, but looking back, what do you hope your legacy will be and what is most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career? And that’s years away because you’re still young.

Jim Keyes (25:46.24)
It is.

Jim Keyes (26:03.578)
Thank you. Yeah, thanks for clarifying that. This is what I hope my legacy will be. I attribute virtually all of the success that I’ve had in life, in business, to learning, to my education that separated me from my peers who never got a chance to go to school, from friends and family. I was blessed with somehow…
recognition that knowledge was the key to unlocking opportunity. And so there’s another important message that I carried, that I finally have written the book to be able to carry this same message to others. But the really important message, the title is not education is wealth. You know, people think I’ve got to go to school to get a good job. No, education is freedom.
Because yeah, wealth is a way of keeping score, but I have the freedom to do anything I wanna do today because of what I’ve learned. I can leave from when we finish this session, I can go downstairs and get in an airplane and fly myself in the cockpit anywhere in the country. I can do that because I invested the time to learn. And it took many years to be able to learn to fly your own jet.
right? But I can do it. And that’s a privilege that, yes, it requires money to do, but it also requires so much more. It requires a tremendous amount of investment in learning to have the privilege of doing something like that. And I take that same example across 20 different things that I have the freedom to do that others, you know, just don’t.

Martin Rowinski (27:30.475)
Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (27:58.05)
Absolutely. So you’re getting in your jet and coming to Vegas picking me up, right? Cabo, that’s a quick trip.

Jim Keyes (28:02.454)
Absolutely. Where do you want to go?

Jim Keyes (28:07.918)
It’s not, oh yeah, Cabo’s easy. I’ll be there this weekend. It’s an easy flight. Yeah.

Martin Rowinski (28:09.982)
Yeah. Perfect, oh see, there you go. Without me though.

Martin Rowinski (28:18.53)
I’m kidding. So I got three quick questions. They’re kind of on the fun side, so since we were done with business. In the realm of business, would you lean more towards innovation at the risk of unpredictability or stick with tradition for stability?

Jim Keyes (28:37.962)
Innovation all day long, because unpredictability is what makes business go. Business wouldn’t be business if everything stayed the same, right? Well, no, it wouldn’t create opportunity. Opportunity is created by change. And so, yeah, innovation is all day long what’s more important to be able to embrace that change.

Martin Rowinski (28:40.515)
Love it.

Martin Rowinski (28:49.018)
Boring.

Martin Rowinski (29:04.794)
Personally, I couldn’t agree more, you know, coming from a communist country, uh, just wanting this freedom and being an entrepreneur for a long time myself. It’s a, it’s a blessing. So, yeah. Uh, when it comes to absorbing new insights on leadership and business, do you prefer diving into a good book or listening to an insightful podcast?

Jim Keyes (29:17.014)
It is. It is.

Jim Keyes (29:30.558)
insightful podcast. I think it’s hard to capture some of these nuances in text. You know, I’ve tried as best I can in my book. I’ve tried to capture what I call the C-suite learning. So I’ve, you know, some of the things we’ve discussed, change, confidence, clarity, you know, character. I’ve captured a lot of these things in chapters in the book. But the nuances I can describe much more
Verbally then I can you know only relying on the written words, so I think it’s a combination

Martin Rowinski (30:07.99)
Yeah, and you know what’s funny is I love books. I’ve read so many leadership books and really felt like you’re kind of a, book can be your mentor, but for the same reason you explained podcasts, you captured, you understand the person a little bit more. Reading words is just reading words, but you really get a better feeling. So there used to be a combination of the two. That’s just my.

Jim Keyes (30:36.622)
That’s true. I agree.

Martin Rowinski (30:37.318)
two cents. Are you more of a plan your day to the minute kind of a leader or a go with the flow executive? I think I know what your answer is.

Jim Keyes (30:50.058)
Definitely a go with the flow. Yeah. It would make me crazy to have structure, you know. A good friend of mine just let his admin go because he didn’t have his coffee on his desk every day, 8 a.m. And I teased him. I said that would make me crazy to have the same routine every day, coffee on my desk at 8 a.m. I would, I would

Martin Rowinski (30:52.121)
I knew it.

Jim Keyes (31:17.198)
I’d much rather have to jump on an airplane and fly somewhere for that same meeting that day. And in my life, and this is one of the blessings of freedom as I would characterize it, every day is a brand new adventure for me. Every single day. I never know, I never know from the beginning of the day till the end of the day, what new opportunity will pop up.

Martin Rowinski (31:43.99)
I agree, I love it. I don’t like a scheduled life either. Sometimes I’m here in the office, sometimes I’m in my home office, sometimes I’m at a conference and it could be a last minute thing. I’m speaking at a university. I just think it makes a much better life than like you said, being ate it. Cause hey, if that coffee’s there, you better be there too, right?

Jim Keyes (32:02.318)
Exactly.

Jim Keyes (32:09.618)
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Exactly.

Martin Rowinski (32:12.662)
or else you’re drinking cold coffee and that’s not good.
Awesome. Well, I want to thank you very much, but I also want to ask you Bisa I know you already kind of showed your book and stuff. Is there anything else you’d like to leave us with?

Jim Keyes (32:27.786)
No, I just encourage everybody to take a look. There’s a lot of learnings here from multiple companies, experience in different companies, from life lessons in general. And I guess the way I characterize it, Martin, is these are the things you don’t really learn in school. They’re those meta skills, if you will, that are not really taught in a formal class, but.
They are learned over time with experience. So if I got to go back and tell my 20 year old self, here’s what you should do. There’s a lot of that in here. So I hope people will see it as an opportunity to learn. And here’s what you asked about legacy before. Here’s what I’d love to say. When I’m old and gray, really old and really gray, sitting on a beach somewhere, I pick up my phone and somebody says, hey, Jim,

Martin Rowinski (33:18.414)
Yeah.

Jim Keyes (33:25.442)
I read Education is Freedom. I put those learnings into play, and I’m now CEO of my own company, and enjoying freedom. I can jump in an airplane and fly anywhere in the world I want, and I can speak in three different languages, or I can go to any art museum in the world and speak intelligently about that art form. And those are the things that I hope people will glean from this book and be able to incorporate in their lives.
And I want to hear back. I want to hear that it actually worked for someone.

Martin Rowinski (33:59.67)
I love it, that’s awesome. I love the title of the book. Anything with freedom like that, again I’m a, I’m a, I love freedom. I was not, I was born in a communist country but I felt out of place there so this is my place.

Jim Keyes (34:14.282)
Well, you know, I’ve got one last thing I’ll leave you with Martin, because this is a very, it’s a very controversial subject because right now there’s a narrative in the United States and in other countries that, you know, oh, they’re going to come and get you, you know, the communists are coming, the communists are coming. Here’s the way I look at it. I’m a capitalist. I’ve run two fortune 500 cups. I don’t worry about communism. It ain’t ever going to happen. If we
properly manage a democratic society with a capitalist Backbone in it. We don’t have anything to worry about But fear is that culprit because fear can ruin everything it can cause even the most staunch capitalist to fail and To and to give in to fear So the whole purpose of this book is that knowledge is the antidote
to fear. And we can reverse that cycle of fear and violence and anger and we can turn it into hope, understanding, peace through knowledge. That’s why I wrote the book.

Martin Rowinski (35:28.313)
Absolutely, and fear is false evidence appearing real, right?

Jim Keyes (35:33.166)
Exactly right. It’s exactly right. And the antidote to fear is knowledge. More we know, less we have fear.

Martin Rowinski (35:42.35)
I love it. Again, thank you very, very much. Stay on for one second. I’m just gonna hit stop on the record, but thank you again for being on here.

Jim Keyes (35:52.206)
Thanks Martin, this was fun.

Martin Rowinski (35:53.73)
Awesome.

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