Joshua Cooper Ramo

Co-CEO, Kissinger Associates. Author of The Seventh Sense. Member, Boards of Directors, Starbucks & FedEx.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON May 23, 2016

Discussion

M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
Hi, I'm Joshua Cooper Ramo, co-CEO and vice chairman of Kissinger Associates Inc., a global advisory firm, and author of the newly released The Seventh Sense, an exploration of power, global affairs and the skills leaders and creators need to survive in a world where connection has radically transformed the nature of every object we touch. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts and stories that animate The Seventh Sense. Prior to Kissinger Associates, I served as managing partner at JL Thornton & Co.; coined the Beijing Consensus – a parallel to the Washington Consensus measuring the transformative effect of the Chinese economic model; shared in an Emmy and Peabody Award for my role as an analyst during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games; and worked as the youngest-ever foreign editor at TIME Magazine. I currently serve on the boards of directors of FedEx and Starbucks. I have had the pleasure of working among the world's most important global decisionmakers as well as honing an inside perspective on the future of business and culture. Ask me anything!
Daniel Lee
@dleesta · Product Manager
What is your writing process like? Was there something different about writing The Seventh Sense from The Age of the Unthinkable?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@dleesta Hi, Daniel. Great question. I began this book with an outline and sense of where I wanted to go, then took it chapter by chapter. I think one big difference from the last book was that I was really surprised where this book led me. For instance, the idea that sometimes networks need to be closed—and that this happens more than we might expect—was a surprise. Most of us think we should be open-open-open for connection, and this is true, but it turns out moderating open and closed has a lot of power. I wanted the book the be VERY practical, so taking insights and applying them took some time. But once I'd done it, I felt I understood the world better. You know that saying, "You learn a lot more from writing than you do from reading." True here for sure! Thanks.
Jack
@jackfitzgerald · Cheif Growth Officer, Growth Grind
What do you see as the future of FedEx and other express couriers? How will they innovate to stay ahead of new entries to the market who can disrupt.
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@jackfitzgerald Jack, thanks for the question. I'm a FedEx director so I'm pretty limited in what I can say. The overall point, I think, is that as the world gets more connected, the firms in a position to accelerate and improve that connection for data or products or ideas should do very well.
Thomas Stöcklein
@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
On Innovation. You said that "the most interesting things in the world today are mashups of new cultures, new technologies and new ideas with some of our oldest instincts about how to operate....Innovation comes from combining things for the most part that people never thought to combine before. So the role of a marketing officer is not only to understand that, but to accelerate that process." (https://goo.gl/Q4ohpJ) What's your best advice for entrepreneurs on how to accelerate the innovation process in terms of discovery and creation?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@tomstocklein Thanks for the question Thomas. What's true for each of us now is true for startups: We are what we're connected to. In fact the very growth of the startup economy has been accelerated because it is so much easier to draw on all kinds of resources. The trick for real growth is to get network affects running in your business: That idea that the more people who use it, the better it gets, so more people want to use it. So many big startups today succeed because they become platforms. So the secret is to decode what process will produce that for you. In the book I tell the story of Facebook discovering that if people joined and found ten friends in seven days they would stay. Every business has a connection formula like that and the puzzle is figuring it out with constant testing, probing and feedback. There are also certain network features—I talk alot about speed in the book—that can help a new firm get an edge on a network.
Thomas Stöcklein
@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What are some major geopolitical and geoeconomic trends/developments/changes that may unfold in the next few years that most people are unaware of?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@tomstocklein Thomas, great question. I think the expanding complexity of our world and the reactions to it will surprise a lot of people. There's was once an idea that we were living in an age of easy globalization, that every country would become capitalist and democratic if just given enough time. I think we now see history isn't that simple. We're seeing an explosion of connection—connected people, sensors, data and ideas. And anytime more things link to each other, they produce surprising interactions. So I think people aren't prepared for the surprise and complexity that will emerge at a level many times what we're used to —and also much, much faster. The danger here is that we do this in an age where most of the institutions we'd rely on—for our politics or economics—are less trusted than they have been in decades. They feel less useful with every crisis they fail to prevent. So a world of more crises and less effective response is one that will leave a lot of people groping for answers, and also very afraid. History teaches us that can be quite dangerous. So our most important task now is to begin to rebuild as many structures as we can for a world of connection. The problem is that most of our leaders can't quite make sense of that puzzle.
Ben Casnocha
@bencasnocha
What's one of the most important trends (social, economic, technological, whatever) in Asia that most people aren't talking about? What are Westerners missing?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@bencasnocha Great question. I think it's important to see the incredible shift in values and lifestyles among people in the region born after 1980. This is particularly true in China, but almost anywhere you go in Asia, the difference between generations is much more pronounced. I'd say that the younger folks feel a profound sense of connection outside their own cultures—it's no accident that many of the most popular TV shows in China for younger people are from Korea. I'd say the older generation had a removed curiosity about the rest of the world, but didn't feel a part of it always. The younger generation of Asians feel very much part of a lager connected planet.
Ben Tossell
@bentossell · Community Lead, Product Hunt
If you had to swap lives with a tech CEO/Founder for a week, who would it be and why?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@bentossell What a terrific question. I guess Zuck or Larry, right? To see the movement of so much data in real time, you'd have a view of the human condition and the state of the world that would be unsurpassed. And of course the scale of the question you'd get to handle would be terrific. You know I spend a lot of time in China, and I often say the two most interesting places in the world now are Silicon Valley and China because in both places you have really historic-scale questions working themselves out at blinding speed.
Emily Hodgins
@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What life experiences have helped shape you to become a good leader in business?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@ems_hodge For me, living in China for over a decade really shaped my view of the business world. You realize how much occurs on any deal or in any firm between the lines, how much of what makes a place really work can be invisible unless you take the time to pay close attention. There's an old line that you don't really understand a nation until you know the country's "dirty laundry": What don't they do well, what are the problems they can't solve. Trying to get to that level of intimacy with any project or company seems more and more important to me. It's not that everyone has dirty laundry, but invariable the reasons a company or a deal will work can be hard to explain without really careful attention. A related point is that I always try to focus my commercial activity on projects that have to work over a long period of time. There's nothing wrong with short-term, opportunistic business deals, but if you want to really establish a relationship and make something deeply valuable, that usually means having a longer-term perspective.
Anand Giridharadas
@anandwrites · Author and New York Times columnist
Donald Trump does not appear to be wise enough to grasp the subtle ideas in your book. But he has, in your telling, mastered the forces you describe and harnessed them to great effect. How do you think he has done that?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@anandwrites I think some people just have an instinct for networks and the feedback loops they produce, and they can step into them with incredible ease. There is something amazing about getting so much instant response to ideas or statements—it's an experience I'm having now as I go from the isolated world of book writing to the interactive world of talking about ideas. So if you have an instinct to connect with others, to use the self-reenforcing energy of a network of connections—it's very easy to accelerate whatever you are working on, even if you maybe don't understand fully why it is accelerating.
Matt Spector
@mspec · Advisor, UN Refugee
Any plans to turn The Seventh Sense into something more than a book (a la "Lean In" or "The Lean Startup")?
M
Joshua Cooper Ramo
@jramo · Author, Co-CEO Kissinger Assoc.
@mspec I'd hope in a couple of years people will always know they need to look at things in network terms, and will be sure to have someone with that skill on their team. If "Get me someone with the Seventh Sense" becomes an important cry, we'll be in good shape. Meanwhile, I do think that there are some interesting possibilities around training people to develop this sensibility. I don't think our schools yet do a good job, so the chance to build a new movement or organization to teach the basic elements of life in a networked age seems very important.