Transcript #07 with Tom Schmitt Board Member – Contract Logistics and Global Chief Commercial Officer for DB Schenker

Time stamp Speaker Answer Key words
00:03 Radu And this is episode seven, and I’m happy to have with us today, Tom Schmitt, Board member, Contract Logistics and Global Chief Commercial Officer for DB Schenker, which is one of the top three global three-pillar companies in the world with operations in 140 countries. As the management board is responsible for the 3 billion dollars [revenue in logistics business, Tom is in charge of a global team of 22,000 logisticians with continued and accelerated profitable growth. In the first year of Tom’s leadership in DB Schenker Country Logistics, grew by 17% top line and saw 20% growth to the bottom line. Tom has also served as President and CEO for latter in Canada as well as had a long career in FedEx, having led as the CEO of the supply chain division. As well, Tom is a published author having written the new edition book Single Solutions: Harnessing the Power of Passion  and Simplicity to get results, which is a great resource of leadership principles. Tom, welcome and it’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Introduction
01:16 Tom Well, thank you for having me, Radu.
01:18 Radu My pleasure. So if we are going to start, first, by looking into the questions regarding the industry. Would like to invite you to share a little bit with us the top strategic directions that Schenker is trying to achieve in the next years and maybe some of the top goals in the company is trying to reach by 2020?


Top strategic directions
01:37 Tom Yeah, it’s actually very simple and straightforward. So as a company, we set ourselves aspiration. We want to be the best and so I had nine years of latin and we call it – we want to be primus, the best, the first in class, not somewhere in the middle of the field but the very best, and we actually picked three dimensions. Three’s a good number. How do you express to be primus and we said we want to grow profitably so we are roughly speaking, globally, 15-16 billion Euro companies or getting close to 20 billion. We want to, over the next five years, every single year grow by a billion Euro top line so 15 to 16. This year, my expectation is that will be a big check mark there. We’re actually going to grow by more than a billion this year and then, we want to keep that good habit of profitable growth going from add another billion or so top line every year. So that’s first aspiration, we want to grow profitability and at a fairly sizeable clip above market.


The second thing has to do with efficiency. Growth by itself is helpful, but it’s not all there is. You also have to be in game shape, and game shape means you have to be efficient, trained and make sure that that could – growth actually ends up, also showing up at the bottom line, so we do want to be a very, very efficient player. And again, if you’re a soccer fan, if you want to win the champion slate, you obviously have to be in game shape, so we want to be in game shape.


And the third thing is actually frankly, in my mind, the most compelling one, the most rewarding one that’s – we also want to have a culture that we’re proud of. DB Schenker is 145 years old which actually by itself is kind of cool if you think about it. Look around the globe. You watch the globe and players across the globe the same way we do so 145 years old, double digit billion in revenue and doing quite well, so if you scan the globe, how many companies are there that are more than a century old, double digits in revenue billions and doing quite well. I don’t know.

I didn’t google it. 20? 30? It’s not 500 so what we actually did was also, when we say we want to have a profitable growth company that’s in game shape and that also has a strong culture we can draw in a 145 years of our history and come up with a culture of performance orientation, innovation and also one of – that’s deeply value space so we actually are kind of going around the globe of our DB Schenker world of 70,000 teammates and saying “Let’s distil the best of those values and make that culture come alive every single day.” So that’s in growth, efficiency and culture [in] terms [of] what we’re setting out to do. We want to be simply the best.

04:41 Radu Super. Thanks for sharing that and in there, could not agree more that culture is a key strategic element to the sustainable growth of any company. And then, obviously, we’re in the time when technology is really in rapidly transforming the industry so if you want to think of it a bit on the technology improvements and trends in logistics, which do you think will have the most impact by 2020, Tom? Technology in logistics
05:13 Tom There’s obviously a lot of things happening and none of them are new to you or to me, anything from 3D printing to kind of the AirBnB for warehouses, whole bunch of trains but at its core, I think the thing that’s going to happen most is the way we sell and the way people buy is changing.


Let me take you back. So I’m 52 years old. About 40 years ago, as a kind of 12-year old kid in the spring every year, I went with my parents to our local market square and the highlight was we would actually go into a travel agency, and we be looking at catalogues for like hotel in Italy and bus and kind of what the coast looks like and so on, and we would pick a few things then, we would go shopping in the market square.

Go back to the travel agency and then, they would have – miraculously, they would have picked the hotel and itinerary and all that, and we booked it. So today, whether it’s DB Schenker or whether it’s some of our competition, what I’m just describing is still happening quite a bit in the business to business space. People come to us, and they book a trip. Their trip is not a hotel in Italy or the coast but their trip is actually they needed something from Asia to North America, from Asia to Europe, and they need a  ship or they need a flight, then they come to us and we, at the travel agency, we book for them. And that picture, the same way that travel agency in the market square that I’ve been into with my parents 40 years ago probably no longer exists.

06:54 Tom That process I just described, business to business, where companies come to us and we book a trip for them, that’s not going to happen 5 years or 10 years from now. Technology platforms, people picking their own at the same way you and I [are] going or some of those platforms. On the business end, we have to really think through kind of how this buying and selling go happen because it’s not going to happen the way I just described going forward.
07:20 Radu No, absolutely. And that is clear and also whoever is going to pick up on that trend and manage to be at the fore front of that trend will win. And obviously, there’s also challenges to getting there as you said also DB Schenker is a very solid as well as length in duration, 140 years plus of age as a company but when you see this transformation the industry going through, what do you see also as some of the biggest challenges that even, you know, talking about DB Schenker is faced when implementing and adapting and transforming?
07:59 Tom I mean, let me stick with the example that we just talked about, right? So today, companies talk with us and they say like “Well, we’re looking to move our new products that come out this fall kind of from manufacturing somewhere in Southeast Asia to these markets, places in Europe and Americas” then we talk with them about kind of how we routed, kind of when it will get deployed and when the launch date is and all that so these are real conversations that are happening.

So if what I just talked about becomes reality where a lot of these booking trips and launching products and making sure you actually plan for your supply chain is happening on platforms electronically, that conversation I just described won’t happen necessarily anymore real time between you and me or other people about launching, right?


And we don’t go back and forth about kind of probably make sure that the product is available and what happens if there’s a delay here? What if the order volume is going to be 20% higher than the expected and this new iPhone will be the biggest hit in history or whatever it is, but these are real time kind of thought and action, about kind of partnership exchanges that are happening between person to person.

Well, as you flip this process over to platforms, our problem solving supply chain leadership capabilities, us having a real conversation to real time problem solving, we have to find the ways to still provide that type of thought and action partnership because it’s not going to be facilitated by the actual platform exchange by itself so we have to make sure that we remain that thought and action partner to these companies that we are today despite the fact that some of the transactions will no longer be between us in person, they will be automated.

09:58 Radu Correct, and DB Schenker is currently working with some of the biggest manufacturers-shippers in the world. What do you see as some of the current changes that your clients are struggling with at the moment and how is DB Schenker’s currently addressing some of them? Changes
10:20 Tom I mean, a lot [of] what we’ve been saying and this frankly, I’ve seen the same things already starting when it works with FedEx and I’m certainly seeing the same things today.

You could say and this is a similar simplistic way of putting it. I do believe though, it’s relevant. Many customers, when they dealt with us, they were concerned about one thing primarily and that one thing typically was cost and in some cases, obviously the whole notion of time came in. I always think about this in terms of currencies like what currencies do you care about? Do you care about the currency cost? Okay, got it. Do you care about the currency time? Oh, yes. Okay. Those two things sometimes, you have to find the sweet spot because if it’s fast or typically becomes more expensive or which one do you care about more. What’s most important to you and your customers? Is it speed or is it low cost?


Increasingly, there’s now at least a third currency that’s been extremely relevant not just for the last year too but for the last decade or so. Companies have been very outspoken about carbon footprint. What are we doing to the ecology, to the environment? Our customers care so we have to care and so now, you’re suddenly to optimizing at least three currencies – time, money and carbon footprint. So our customers and their customers obviously are hugely curious about what’s the sweet spot between those three things and isn’t used to be so simple where I need lowest costs or I need this overnight. Okay, so it’s this and that. Now, it’s at a minimum, these three currencies and so, for us working with finding that sweet spot that’s the most relevant one for them is a challenge, and that’s going to be hard or not easy going forward.

Three currencies, time, money, carbon footprint
12:12 Radu Yeah. And as you said, there’s always a trade of most people want to. It’s almost cliché. The one with lowest cost but, you know, you got to give something to get something. And speaking specifically about contract logistics and warehousing which is as far as I saw the numbers,  nice growth for DB Schenker. Where do you see the emerging spots? Which countries, which regions are these is?
12:44 Tom Yeah, I mean, we have a challenge obviously in terms of our history which is a big strength but also positions as geographically. What I mean by that is so we are a 145-year old. We are a company that started with being in Austria. It’s now a German company and today, it’s still more than 2/3 of our revenue are actually in Europe. Now, if you look around the globe to your point about, it’s like Where are we? Where are we going to be? The fastest growing economies around the globe are not in Europe. They’re obviously in Asia Pacific. They’re in some parts of Middle East Africa. They’re in some parts of South America, Latin America.


So one big challenge for us is how do we actually become more balanced? If I’m thinking it in a very simple way, that’s so called triad, as the dominant parts of the globe in terms of Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and as the emerging one, that’s Middle East Africa, so we have to be somewhat more balanced by being relevant in all of these markets especially on those that actually grow more, faster. Growth rates of four, five, six percent as economy is not one to two percent.


Like one example, I always like using this Dubai. If you think about that area, you are within hours of four to six hours or so of 2/3 of the global population, and when you fly to Dubai today, you arrive at the airport [and] then, there’s this big sign “Welcome to Dubai International: Second most international departures”. Well, they’re kind of cheating a bit because every departure’s an international departure but still, it’s a lot, right? And 30 kilometers down the street, they actually are building the largest airport in the world, not instead of the current one but in addition to the current one. Al Maktoum , right? So that new airport, we’re actually building our new regional office there for the area, and we’re just supersizing our warehousing and distribution presence there because this is a place where more manufacturing consumption will be driven out of, so it’s looking kind of a geographic. You do what’s next and it’s not that hard to see you just look at where’s manufacturing consumption going to be versus where was it, right? Well, it was in Europe. It no longer is as heavily and as quickly and fast as it is in some other parts of the world and we just need to make sure that we are making bold statements, that we are going to be where manufacturing consumption will be happening, not where it used to happen.

15:26 Radu Fair point, and final question. This is the industry segment. If you were an investor, which technology-related start up would you invest in and why? Technology in logistics Industry segment
15:41 Tom Yeah. We talked a bit about this –
15:42 Tom Whole notion of platforms, right? And how buying and selling used to happen between you and me in person, and it’s becoming more often automated search process, so I do believe it is this whole notion of enabling commerce through platforms, and the commerce could be in peak times, Chinese New Year, Black Friday or so, where suddenly, you need more distribution space. You need more temp labor to deal with all these transactions. Some of these actually in matching supply and demand are people of spaces, not just buyers and sellers, you can enable with platforms and so, if I’ve come up with the best platform technology that provides most easy access to people who need, whether it’s, again, temp labor  whether it’s distribution space, whether it’s buyers and sellers. That’s what I would like to invest in. even technologies that, let me think of, be talked a lot about Uber freight over the last several years so there’s a whole bunch of things that where platforms can provide access in ways that in the past, certainly was not possible. If you find the winning providers of those, those would be good bets.
17:10 Radu I think DB Schenker, it’s the similar U-ship investment that you did there is kind of connected to the whole idea. Super, and then moving to the people segment because, you know, we talk about technologies. We talked also about the Schenker directions for 2020 but all [of] these is done for people, and I also know that you are personally a keen advocate of that. So in terms of finding the right skills to take the organization to the next level, what types of skills are you actually focused on finding, developing or importing into Schenker? People segment
17:44 Tom I mean, again, we talked about this before. We are a 145-year old company that’s in the transportation logistics supply chain space. When it comes to making global commerce possible and making it easy, making it better, you’ll always need people who are supply chain experts, who are logisticians so those types of skills will remain relevant.

What you also have to have is sometimes maybe insight the same leaders, maybe two kind of sets of people. We also have to have a set of people who are more technologically enabled, more digitally enabled, who think more about artificial intelligence, who actually say like all the data that we, as at DB Schenker, know about our customers, how can we actually do something for them, right? The whole notion of making big data work for you. We have more and more of our business partners and customers telling us in here.


I mean, we just had a meeting recently in Tokyo where one of our biggest customers called us. “I expect you to use all the data that you have to actually be a more forward looking supply chain partner to us.” You should be the one recommending to us how we should reconfigure our supply chain space that the way, all of our inputs are coming from, where our goods our going to because these things will be migrating  and the labor cost and other factor costs are also changing.


You tell us kind of what the consequences of our supply chain, and this has got the type of people that we needed actually know how to use all that intelligence that we have in the way that’s actually advantageous for our customers, so if you want to call that, that’s logistician of the future, yes. Then that’s the type of skill we need. If you want to say “Actually, we need the traditional supply chain expertise and we need this type of skill set that actually takes advantage of this type of intelligence, that’s kind of the one, two punch that we will be needing going forward.

19:53 Radu And that kind of answers the next question which we would just skip by now because, indeed, that’s part of the skills of the future so to speak and I think, from where we sit as also be a consultants, be executives that’s part of the organization’s digitalization and skills required for companies across industries actually to go digital, to go even more digital, to make sense of the data that they got, analyze, do preemptive planning and forecasting that’s tremendously important. Not a lot can do it properly yet and I think we’re the beginning of those phases. That’s more and more case that is, but definitely, in the future, if you’re not doing it, if you’re not on the train, the train will hit you.
20:39 Tom We just talked about how our customers expect us to use all the information, data that we have to their advantage. It also frankly, I mean, if it’s just putting our own hat on, there’s so many applications for us. When we have, in the best revenue to have is the one that you keep and don’t lose customer attention. We have so much data about interactions with our customers, customer service experiences that are good and ones that we’re not good.

What happens if we had a failed customer experience with the same customer twice in the same month? Our existing customer likely could take consequences as in “Actually, I’m done with these people. I need to move on to someone who doesn’t actually fail me.” That’s all data is available to us. We have them call in last week and three weeks ago.


Do we use that information in a proactive way and say “Okay, if these two or three things happened as a consequence, this customer will be prioritized for us reaching out to them proactively and making extra certain that we take preemptive steps that these things won’t happen. Catch the issue. Address with the customer before the customer walks and is these types of things, we’re just using information that’s helpful to us in a very, very proactive [and] managerial way and getting back and making sure that we actually do something with it to keep that customer going versus having them walk away from us, and this is where big data also comes in where simple things about capacity planning [that] we should know based on all the information about what’s happening in the market place, what happens with suppliers and customers, where do we have peaks that we actually should not be surprised by but there are logical consequence of us just looking at math and over a period of time, say “Oh, gosh. These things that just happened, happened also nine months ago and also happened two years ago.”


The consequence of that here typically is a peak, and we should be planning for that so it’s that type of proactive planning that yes, it is an evolution of supply chain expertise in a way though [that] it is a kind of additional skill set that we need now much more than we perhaps needed 10 years ago or perhaps we needed it, but we didn’t have the means. Now, we do have the means.

Customer experience
23:09 Radu Yeah. You didn’t just pulled it. I think it was needed before but now, we have the technology. We have the ways in which we can analyze the data. I think a lot of companies what I’m seeing is that they’re struggling with getting accurate data ‘cause we have the tools to analyze it but the data is not necessarily accurate. Or our life so I think that’s a different challenge and then, the possibilities and the opportunities now to really do that preemptive type of planning since it’s great.
23:40 Radu And moving a little bit to the leadership team, obviously, you’re one of the six board members in Schenker. Tell us a little bit [on] how you select your leadership team. What type of attributes are you looking for when it comes to appointing one of the top leaders in your team? Attributes in leader selection
24:00 Tom Like maybe, just talked about how you act and react as a company differently based on possibilities that you have in terms of information and data, also leadership. I mean, there’s obviously some things that remain the same. I mean, I learned a lot of things at FedEx.


One of the things I learned was the prioritization of people, service [and] profit, that you always do the right thing by your own people who then, in turn, will go above and beyond to provide the exceptional service and then profit is almost a logical consequence.


People, service, profit in that sequence. Those types of leadership actually puts like someone who actually is a strong people leader, someone [who] has a strong service mentality. Those things remain so if you ask what types of skills and traits and features do we look for, characteristics we look for, these people-service-profit kind of mentalities in that sequence [or] priority order, that’s a leadership skill set of the future the same way it was in the past.


Now, having said that, if you look around the world, there are dimensions that I think are becoming more and more important in addition to what I just described. To think about the world that we have to be successful in today, geopolitical issues. I mean, how do you deal with the fact that two countries now suddenly have a conflict? Most recently, Qatar became very topical. While we have to reroute flights, there [are] service consequences for the retailer that used to get tenure could say at a certain point in time, during the day, “Now, there’s delays. There’s several hours more of our flight path because you have to fly around other countries.”

There’s obviously, think of climate change challenges. What’s been happening [for] the last couple of months, whether it’s India or Asia, whether it’s in the Caribbean or the Americas, huge disruptions of lives, first and foremost, that also of commerce. We had to close our offices and Houston, Purto Rico in Miami and the monsoons in India. People don’t even talk about anymore because they are so frequent, right? But they’re still obviously a human hardship, so we need leaders who still have those same kind of evergreen skills of like people focus, service mentality. We also now need more and more PR [PL?] leaders who are thriving and make that uncertainty, whether it’s geopolitical or whether it’s climate, other issues that are perhaps more prominent, more pronounced, more disruptive.

Leadership, people, service, profit
26:44 Radu And with serious consequences. I mean, you need to be able to think on your feet and adapt to those type of context. And again, as one of the board members of Schenker, one of the key influences of the Schenker culture which is we talked a little bit about it at the beginning when you said it’s one of your key focuses, so what would be some of the top elements and mindsets, more importantly, that you’re trying to instill and enforce? Top elements
27:11 Tom So we talked a bit earlier about the 145 years of kind of almost like distilling the greatest hits of our culture into one that actually takes the best of who we are and what we have. In terms of categories, three’s a good number, right?


So there’s three things that we want our culture to be about. One is it’s got to be values based. I mean, you just don’t make up culture. It’s got to be anchored at something relevant, something compelling so we actually did come up with six company values, and we want 70,000 of us to live those values every single day. Walk the talk. Take the customer further. These types of values. The second thing the culture needs to be in addition to based in values is it’s got to be a culture of performance orientation. We are in a very, very competitive industry. We are in a very competitive world and as a company, if we lost a few club [?], we are not independently wealthy. We do actually have to make a living and we have to want to be the primus in our industry where the[re’s] also profitable market leader so our culture has to be one – yes, it’s values based. That’s where we get our energy from. At the same time, it needs to be one of performance orientation. Performance is not optional. Performance is actually expected.


And the third part is – you see, it’s also a culture of innovation. It goes back a bit to that skill set of the leadership, right? It’s got to be someone who’s capable of looking around the corner, seeing kind of next before it hits you in the face. So when we have a culture that is values based, that is performance oriented and that is one of innovation, I think that we got the trifecta that we want.

Values based, performance orientation, innovation
28:59 Radu Super. Thank you for that, and moving to the final segment of our podcast on the person side, I know that one of your leadership principles which I actually enjoyed a lot when I read it is you want to leave a place better than when you found it and it would say that it means not just looking at your business as a marathon of your career but rather looking at it as 10, 15 or 100 interactions every single day, which is a great way to look at things. I wanted to ask you, are there any other principles you follow in your day to day work, in your leadership work? Any other principles
29:32 Tom That’s actually following [?] if I take the liberty of changing the question here for a second. I would actually like to stick to that point. It may be obvious. It may not be so let me just make it come alive a bit more.


So I spent decades in the US. I was actually born and raised in Germany but I am a US citizen, and this whole notion is boy scout notion of leaving a place better than you found it. Really, when you talk about habits that kind of are important that shaped who I am. Let me double click on this one a little bit.


So you mentioned these interactions, right? So take your day to day, that’s probably six meetings. That’s probably once you get to it as 50 e-mails. Perhaps, 100 e-mails. That’s a couple phone calls that you have, right? So you could look at leaving a place better than you found it by saying “Well, over the course of your business career or perhaps, over the course of your life, you did one or two really good things. My expectation [and] aspiration is a bit more short term and a bit more intense where all these phone calls, these meetings that you have today like our session here right now so when you walk away from this session, when you walk away from this phone call, when you walk away from this e-mail exchange, did you leave the other person in the room with something that they now have that they did not have before.


One good idea, one good action step, connection, right? You get this e-mail at 10 o’clock at night. You’re kind of tired.  You want to go to bed and then, somebody asks you. I ask “Can you help me here?” Delete is easy. It takes me one second. It takes me perhaps 15 seconds more. “Actually, I haven’t had this instance but let me copy Norman who ran into a similar issue a couple of weeks ago.” And then you will probably have an exchange with that person, right? So this whole notion of going that extra step to leave the person that’s involved in that exchange, phone call, meeting, e-mail exchange a bit better than they were before that interaction. That’s the aspiration here so yeah, there may be other things that are important in terms of habits or whatever but if I do this one well, I’ve got a hundred opportunities every single day.

32:00 Radu Yeah, that’s so great. I mean, thank you for explaining more. Yeah, it’s a great input. In any, let’s say, a little bit [on] some people like to joke, but any sort of on your personal side that you think a person’s habit that contributes to your success? Do you do something on a regular basis?
32:23 Tom [It] goes back, you mentioned at the very beginning, at the introduction, the fact that I actually, together with a friend and business partner of mine wrote a book 10 years ago and it’s called Simple Solutions and it’s about kind of how you use the left side of your brain and the right side of your brain, and you use very simple tactics and techniques from both halves and then, odds are that you’re going to bring more of yourself into what it is you’re doing, and you’ll have better results and probably also better time. So when you say like parts that make me successful,


I’m very German so I was born [and] raised here. Very left brain. Very analytical. Very precise like shoulder’s line from here to there which is all good but it’s not all there is, right? So I did make a very conscious effort once that I realize that I’m kind of very much at home in this half and very much not at home in the other half, to also spend more time with people who are more creative, more right brain, more passionate, very different. [A] very good friend of mine is the founder of Ballet Memphis. Now, she probably wouldn’t might me saying it. She probably does not know the most linear way in the shortest way from A to B, but she knows how to access creativity, how to access passion. And so, spending time with people who actually are home where you’re not is something I did very consciously over the last 10 plus years.

Left-right brain balance
34:05 Radu Yeah. Yeah, and you wrote a book that I wanted to ask you this question. [34:16] Which would you typically give to people? What do you want to give a person?
34:20 Tom I tell them my own
34:22 Radu That you’ll increase the sales 😊
34:23 Tom That way, I sell more. But no, seriously. In all fairness, one thing, I don’t hand out books. I don’t give out books. I did for a while but I do much more now is because I have a huge passion for music, I used to give them CDs. Now, CDs perhaps are no longer the thing of today. They’re more a thing of yesterday but I do have exchanges  with people more about [the] last concert that they went to, last concert that I went to, what music they like, what that music does for them so it’s just a different dimension I like to connect on. It’s more meaningful to me, frankly, and I always get good tips. I typically talk to the kids of my friends about music versus my friends who actually learn more. You find more interesting things that otherwise wouldn’t find but so instead of handing out the book, I typically share music tips with others and engage on that. Music
35:22 Radu Super. And can you share any Internet, I don’t know if there’s any supply chain resources, websites, reports that you use to keep yourself updated with the latest development in the industry?
35:34 Tom Yeah, it’s actually interesting. The answer is yes. I mean, they are the typical kind of IVR headquarters [?] in Germany where there are quite a few German sources that I get every single day. There’s a German kind of transportation, logistics publication that I get electronic feat every single day. DV Set is the name of that publication. Having said that, I do believe you’re typically best of if the feats, information that we get, I mean, so 10% of what I’m looking at that I’m absorbing, that I’m being fed is probably industry.

The other 90% is not. And frankly, I think it does make for somewhat more of a complete picture if you kind of try to observe what’s going on in this economy, what’s going on in that country. Forget about the industry for a second more broadly, right? Is there tension brewing somewhere? Is there suddenly economically a part of the world starting kind of to take off which may not be in my supply chain feed or my logistics use, but it does actually impact what’s going on around me so yes, I do get daily feats of typically kind of European supply chain information. Eye for transport is kind of a venue and a place that I sometimes get information from, but I think it’s much more relevant to look a bit more left and a bit more right half. Do you prefer vision [?] beyond the industry feed?

37:03 Radu Yeah, more global picture. Yeah. Final question. If you could give some advice to 23-year old graduating university wanting to achieve a great career in logistics, what would it be?
37:18 Tom I actually just, yesterday, I was in Berlin yesterday with a colleague of mine, Mark  and 20 or so start up leaders who just founded their own little start-up company at the Technical University in Berlin and so, we had a little bit of that conversation.


So what do you advise? What should I be doing or so? My perhaps somewhat generic but I believe very relevant, I hope at least, piece of advice would be if I’m [a] 23-year old and I don’t know for an absolute certainty what I want to be doing when I’m 50 or 60 or frankly, most people probably don’t. I didn’t know. When I was 23-year old, I still thought I would become a teacher somewhere, and I didn’t.


So if I don’t know exactly where I’m going to be ending up in 10, 20, 30 years which is the vast majority of people, I would ask them: Think of your first move and your second move as an option expanding move. Meaning, if you have a choice between larger company versus very small company, not your own but somebody else’s, very small; if you have a choice between a global consulting firm where you have like basically professional apprenticeship kind of at its best, those are great option expanding moves because you can still then say “Okay. I have to then I’m going into consumer goods or I’m going to be into investment banking or whatever else” because you got a very broad kind of apprenticeship of some kind so I would just generically say make your first step and your second step one that opens doors, that is option expanding versus option narrowing. If you join some tiny company in a very boutique specialist space, chances are three or five or 10 years from now, it doesn’t set you up for more options. It sets you up for very few, limited options so just think about the first step, second step as something that gives you more choices now, options later on versus fewer.

39:39 Radu Yeah, it says about the exposure and also, you know, how many things you can do after you have done the first two.
39:46 Tom Exactly.
39:48 Radu So great sharing, Tom. Thank you so much for your time, for being with us today and for all the good stories and sharing and thank you once again.
39:56 Tom Thank you straight back to you, Radu. Thanks.

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