Jim Collins interviews Jorge Paulo Lemann

Jorge Paulo Lemann dropped some gems on leadership and Collins summarizes why everything 3G touches turn to gold. Jorge rarely does interviews and when he does its often in Portuguese. Plus, this interview is by Jim Collins who is a long term friend of Lemann and is one of the greatest business teachers of our time. Here is a brief summary of this great interview:

Jim, you don’t know the extent of my problem. I have too many great young people and I have to give them big things to do.

This is one of the most important quotes Lemann has said. It was said when the 3G board was meeting with Collins prior to them buying AB. It is at the core of how 3G has grown from from a small startup in Brazil and now control global iconic companies.

Lemann talked about why the partnership has remained intact and highlighted these as the primary contributors.

We can do much bigger things together than by ourselves
You need a common agreement that everyone can agree is the “big dream”
I really believe in having people that are better than you around you is worth it.
The ability to get along with others is an amazing trait.

Lemann says that each partner has a different personality. He is a very moderate person. He emphasized that this was one of the reasons the partnerhship succeeded.

Lemann said the basic formula for their success is

The basic formula is: Getting great people to run things, having a big dream, having the right information and following the right information, taking some risks
Lemann said getting great people is the most important part. In the early years this was my primary focus. I used to interview 1000 applicants and only hire 10.
Jim Collins

Collins made an excellent point when he said

“Most of us come at life as a series of ‘What’ questions. What am I going to do? What career? What company? It’s about what…What? What? What? And I think what Jorge Paulo shifted to early in his life was that the first questions are always ‘Who?’. Who are you going to allow to mentor you? Who do you want to spend your time with? You can be doing a lot of ‘Whats’ with your life, but if you’re not doing it with people you love doing it with, it’s really hard to have a great life.”

When you have the right Who’s then you can take a brokerage house and then transfer your best people to a retail store and brewery and thrive. The process of hiring Great people, training them, giving them a Big Dream, and giving them Big Things todo is the FLYWHEEL for 3G.

3G Flywheel:

  1. Hire Great People with a shared Big Dream
  2. Give them Big Things to Do
  3. Then Hire More Great People with a shared Big Dream
  4. Give them Big Things to Do
  5. (Repeat 1–4)

Jim Collins at the end went on what makes Greatness

  • He has spent most of his life thinking about what makes great companies, great leaders, great organizations. So he defined what makes something or something great. How do you know if you are looking at it.
Superior Results: Whatever game you play you need to win at it.
Distinctive Impact on the world that you touch: This means that you can answer the question that if you or your organization is not there, it would leave an un-fillable hole. The world is different, peoples lives are different.
Lasting Endurance : There is some kind of enduring legacy. A legacy that stands time.
When you have those three, you have something that is great.
I want to close out this conversation by putting those three question on my dear friend Jorge Paulo.
#1 Superior Results: This is not one of the best success stories to come out of Brazil. No this ranks up there with Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Bill Gates. This is part of the world championships of results. Folks everywhere should learn about what these folks (3g) have done. This is a tremendous beacon coming out of your country, by any measure.
#2 Distinctive Impact: the 3g culture is being exported and it’s being copied. The culture has distinctive contribution and its distinctive onto itself. It has influence. I also like what Jorge Paulo was saying having about Brazil having a distinctive impact by its culture that they can export. One way Jorge Paulo has an impact is that he was a role model. The way you do things and the integrity in which you did them acts as a magnet to affect other people’s character. This gives others the confidence for others to do things well and not have to compromise who I am to do it. He has also had a big impact on education.
#3 Lasting Endurance: I hate to the use the word enduring legacy about Jorge Paulo and one of the things that really stands out about Jorge Paulo is Renewal. It’s always about renewal, being on the balls of your feet, being 76 years young.
We had a conversation last night about his next 10- 15 year BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). I hope everyone here is lucky enough to get to 76 and the question is “Whats next” , “Whats next” , “Whats next”, one day we will run out of breaths. Its always going forward and not looking backwards. Its moving forwarding, inventing and creating a future.
Lasting Endurance: Jorge Paulo wishes he can go back to when he was 20 and start to think long term early in the game. Don’t think about the quarter, think about the quarter century. Think in quarter century increments.
The tremendous enduring legacy about Jorge Paulo “so far” since he has so much to go, it goes right back to people. Its people, people and impact on people. There are some people that go through this world that take the vectors of people’s lives and takes the vectors of young people’s lives and if you can change those vectors you can change the magnitude of their live by changing the trajectory of their vector. You have changed the trajectory of my life and it’s my tremendous privilege to be your friend