Episode 7: Tom Morris
Philosophy in Action: Wisdom for Modern Challenges with Tom Morris
In the captivating seventh episode of "Jack Rants With Modern Bankers," Tom Morris, a renowned philosopher, prolific author, and sought-after speaker, takes the spotlight to engage in a thought-provoking dialogue with host Jack Hubbard. With a background that spans philosophy, academia, and the corporate world, Tom offers unique insights into a wide array of topics. From discussing the practical applications of ancient wisdom in today's complex business landscape to sharing his perspectives on true success, confidence, and the power of a growth mindset, Tom's wisdom is as illuminating as it is actionable.
Tom shares insights on the practical applications of philosophical wisdom in areas such as success, leadership, and personal growth. Delve into the evolution of his teachings, from his early days of teaching to his recent books like "Socrates in Silicon Valley," offering a fresh perspective on Steve Jobs. Tune in to gain valuable insights on confidence, transforming challenges into opportunities, and the role of philosophy in navigating the complexities of the modern world. Whether you're a banker, a business leader, or simply seeking inspiration, this episode promises a journey of wisdom, introspection, and meaningful change.
Tom Morris 00:00
Most people wait for some big opportunity to kind of smack them in the face but just to be here, just to be in this world is an opportunity. There are things all around that we could be doing. We don't have to wait for that big thing to come and call our name. We can get involved in the small things and end up becoming big things. So just to be here is a wonderful opportunity.
Jack Hubbard 00:19
I've had the privilege of being in and around banking for more than 50 years. Lots of changes during that time. We've gone from Ledger's to laptops, typewriters to technology. One thing, however, remains the same. Banking is a people business. And I'll be talking with those people that make banking great here on Jack Rants With Modern bankers. Welcome to Jack Rants With Modern Bankers brought to you by RelPro, and Vertical IQ. Each week I feature top voices in financial services from bankers and consultants, to best selling authors and many more. The goal of this program is simple, to provide insights, success practices and to bring new ideas to the table that you can use to maximize your results.
My guest today is Tom Morris. Tom is one of the world's top public philosophers and pioneering business thinkers. He's the author of 30 groundbreaking books, and he's a legendary speaker. And so electrifying talks, re-engage people around their deepest values, ignite their passions for work life. He's on YouTube, and you got to see this guy, absolutely amazing. He has too many degrees to mention, including a PhD from Yale. Tom’s newest book is The Everyday Patriot: How to be a Great American Now. My friend, Ned Miller, introduced me to Tom and boy! I’m glad he did. It's a very fast paced conversation with Tom Morris, my guest today, Jack Rants With Modern Bankers. Here we go.
Well, I always like to start these programs and, and my gosh, we could probably take the whole time and talk about this. But I like to start with, telling me something good. Tell me something good, Tom.
Tom Morris 02:13
You know, a couple of things I learned from my father. Life is supposed to be a series of adventures. The one we're on now is preparing us for the next one often in ways we can't even imagine. My dad lived that advice, and I could see it in his life. So I've been able to do things like, you know, switch from a business major to a philosophy major, switch from being a philosophy professor to being an independent philosopher, do things that nobody had done before, because of my dad's sense of adventure.
A second thing is that it came to me just the other day that existence is opportunity. Most people wait for some big opportunity to kind of smack them in the face. But just to be here, just to be in this world is an opportunity. There are things all around that we could be doing. We don't have to wait for that big thing to come and call our name, we can get involved in the small things and end up becoming big things. So just to be here is a wonderful opportunity.
Jack Hubbard 03:08
I couldn't agree with you more. You talked about moving majors, from business to philosophy, and then to just an amazing career with 30 Plus books and we're going to talk about that. I'm curious though, as I was preparing for this interview, I got to know what philosophy?
Tom Morris 03:30
I like to take people back to the root of the word itself, philo-sophos “love of wisdom.” And I like to remind people that an object of love is an interesting thing. When you lack it, you pursue it. When you have it, you embrace it. So philosophy is just the pursuit and embracing of wisdom. And I used to define wisdom for people as just the insight for living. But I had a young guy visit me from Spain not too long ago. He read some of my books or heard about my work and he wanted to have breakfast together. He's a college student from Madrid. And so we had breakfast together, and we sit down in this little restaurant. And his first question is not you know, are the eggs good? Or how's the coffee? His first question is what is wisdom? He says to me, as soon as he sits in the seat, let me ask, what is wisdom? And I said, You know what? I gave him an answer I'd never given anybody before. I said wisdom is guidance and guardrails. For 100 years, people have been trying to recover the guidance from the great thinkers. What we should do, what we should aim for, how we should live but I've come to realize that the guardrails are just as important. He said, wait, what are guardrails? You know, he's not a native English speaker. So you know, you're up in the mountains. You're driving along a mountain road, there's a metal guardrail beside the road to keep your car from going… “Oh, guardrails. Yes!” I said there's cautionary wisdom as well as guidance wisdom. And I tried to bring people, both kinds and that's what philosophy is all about. It's about pursuing and embracing guidance and guardrails for our lives and for our careers, the great philosophers had an amazing array of ideas for exactly what we're going through right now, most people don't teach these ideas and university philosophy classes, I've had the joy to do so for about 40 years now and see how it makes a huge difference in people's lives. It makes a huge difference for businesses, even global businesses. So philosophy is a very good thing.
Jack Hubbard 05:33
Well, your teaching is different now. Because you're out and you've got to see Tom's videos. They're engaging and absolutely wonderful. So your audiences now are very different than they were back at Notre Dame. I'm curious, do you miss the classroom at Notre Dame and being a university professor at all?
Tom Morris 05:51
I loved the students and loved the experience. I had an eighth of the student body in my classes. Most years, I had these huge classes, I didn't have to grade papers, I had 12 teaching assistants to do all that kind of thing. I just had a lot of fun. The thing I've missed the most about is that I have 16 weeks to grow wisdom in people overtime and to see the difference it makes. You know, so often since I left Notre Dame, 28 years ago or so, you know, I'll parachute into a convention center, given our talk to up to five or 10,000 people might be a few 100 in the room, maybe several 1000. And I hope the ideas will last. I may not see that group of people again. Often I get a chance to invite people back over and over and over.
So it's a little bit like the classroom experience but at Notre Dame, it was guaranteed. I had 16 weeks, I could start small and grow big with a group of students. I love seeing that. But I haven't felt any pangs of missing it because that was a mission for me. That was my adventure then. And then I have a sense of calling to a new mission, a new adventure. And I even wrote a long article in the Notre Dame paper saying to my students, look, I haven't found something more important than you guys. Nothing's more important than you guys. I've found something that you've prepared me to do in a unique way. So you and I get a chance to make a difference for businesses all over the world, in groups of dozens and groups of 1000s. Thank you for preparing me to do this. So it was just a wonderful way to be at a university, it was a wonderful way to leave my time there and hang out my shingle as an independent philosopher.
Jack Hubbard 07:31
Well, you have made a difference. And you always talk about, you know, Aristotle, and Seneca and all those people in ancient times who are great philosophers, and you talk about making a difference. Who are some of the great philosophers making a difference today besides yourself?
Tom Morris 07:51
Yep. Well, you know, you don't often hear their names. Because we have a very different culture now, right? It's more of a culture of entertainment. And while I try to make my public talks as entertaining as possible, I'm not doing the same thing as the movie stars, as the TV stars are doing and so nor are other philosophers. So we have some older women philosophers like there's a woman named Martha Nussbaum. I've been on NPR with her before. She's an amazing philosopher but her books are published by the University of Chicago Press or other academic presses, and a lot of people who just have a general interest in philosophy, they don't even know about Martha Nussbaum, but she's an amazing philosopher.
I have young friends, Aaron Simmons at Furman University, who's just about to publish a book called Camping with Kierkegaard. He's an amazing young public philosopher starting to make a difference. I could name probably a dozen other younger philosophers around the country, who, sometimes sparked by my example, have realized they could leave the classroom, go out into the broader public and make a difference. It's just a great thing to see.
Jack Hubbard 08:55
Yeah. And one of the other great things to see for me was seeing you speak this book that I got from Tom true success. And the reason I'm holding it up is twofold. Number one, I'm so proud of it and number two, we're going to talk about kind of an updated version of this in training the terms doing, but I saw you in 1995, or six, you signed a book. Look at all the pages that, you know, I go back to this book all the time. And one of the things I really like and you mentioned Ms. Nussbaum is that you write so practically, and the titles of your book are just, you know, so amazing. So you write this book about The 7 Cs. And now you've got a new class. I think, in some ways, thanks to Ned, around the seven seas, so talk about a couple of The 7 Cs and how have they changed over the past 28 years since you wrote this book?
Tom Morris 09:52
Oh, yeah, you know, the framework is very simple. I was asked by a guy at the time who was an automobile dealer. He'll do a big dealership for General Motors vehicles. He called me up one day and said, “Hey, we have motivational speakers every year at our Midwestern dealers meeting.” And they all basically say the same thing. You know, set goals, aim high, you can do it. He said, There's got to be something deeper than this. Did the great philosophers ever address success? And I said, Well, it's not the kind of stuff I studied at Yale, let me look into it. Maybe there's something there, I was amazed. It was like opening the door to a treasure house. The practical side of philosophy has been forgotten over the last 200 years. It was an amazing part of the philosophical endeavor in the ancient world and throughout the centuries. So I began developing a framework for finding Eastern and Western philosophers ideas, like first of all, in any challenge, with any opportunity, we need a clear conception of what we want to see happen, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
Now everybody talks about goal setting. But Aristotle talked about how important it is in human life, we need to have clarity about our goals. And in times that we're going through now with such great uncertainty, it's challenging for people to have clarity in their goals. It's a process. Sometimes we start off in a new situation very confused. And confusion is nothing to be ashamed of or worried about. Sometimes it's the preliminary we have to go through to get to the clarity, it's almost like we have to sometimes walk through fog before the fog will burn off and the light will shine. So I try to help people in various ways understand how to do Powerful Goal setting.
Some of the motivational speakers 20 years ago, we talked about writing down your goals, and then they all come true as if writing was magical. You know, what's almost magical is the power of articulation, using the clear borders of language to clarify vague ideas in our own hearts and minds. Vague thoughts can't motivate specific behavior. So I say to people, whether you write goals down or you talk them through with a family member or colleague, using the discipline of language to clarify your thinking, can be such a powerful device. So we talked about rooting goals and self knowledge. We talk about all sorts of things that will help people not just set goals, but set the right goals, which is crucial.
Now, as I said, the challenge, since the pandemic, at least, has been you never know what's going to happen next. So how do you set long term and medium term goals? If the environment is shifting so fast, we talk about that, and that impinges on the second condition of The 7 Cs, which is we need a strong confidence that we can attain the goal. There are plenty of people who are big dreamers, they have big goals, but they don't have a lick of confidence that they can do it so they never take action. William James, a great Harvard philosopher, 150 years ago, studied championship athletes, and he said, You know what, they're all these different things we call sports, baseball, football, basketball, rowing, running, archery, tennis, mountain climbing. They all have champions and yet there's such different activities. I wonder if despite all the differences in their activities, I wonder if there's a single set of qualities that all the champions share in common.
Now, it was an interesting question to ask. He studied all the champions of his day, and he said, You know what, I think there's one thing they all share, and I don't even think we have a word for it in English. So he coined the phrase precursive. Cursive to run pre ahead of faith that runs ahead of the evidence. He said, Every champion is regularly challenged to do something they've never done before. Climbing New Mountain, breaking the world's record, wrestling a new opponent, if they just look in their past history of accomplishments and ask the question, do I have evidence sufficient to prove I can do this? The answer is always going to be “No.” But the champions, the people who don't let that hold him back, they run ahead of the evidence with confidence, with faith.
And so we talked about that, and how difficult confidence is, in the kaleidoscope environment we're in right now. What's gonna happen next, with the economy? What's gonna happen next, what politics, what's gonna happen when the next virus rolls around? What's gonna happen in a different part of the world? How about Ukraine and Russia? Where's that gonna lead? What about China? We live in such amazingly chaotic times. What people forget is that those are the times of churn that produce new opportunities constantly. And if we're just looking at the challenges, but not seeing them as opportunities, we're missing half the picture. So we talk about that. And so you're right, the training program that Ned helped me create. We have eight weeks on The 7 Cs.
Now you might say, Well, why not seven. The first week is to introduce the whole framework, and set it up. And then each seven of the seven subsequent weeks would go through clear conception, strong confidence, focus, concentration, stubborn consistency. We go through all this framework, and we talk about what the great philosophers have said, and we talked about the challenge of implementing these things in our time. And since we've begun to roll out this once a week, people get a four minute video. Once a week people get a short email with some questions. The response has been really extraordinary.
Some people have said, this has been life changing for me as a person for my business. Our first client was a bank, a small group of bankers. We've had another client recently in financial services, a guy who serves very high net worth individuals, people who started hedge funds who run major companies. And he said he's never had such feedback from any and this was his Christmas gift or his New Year's gift to his high end clients. And he thought he was a little bit worried. Well, these are already mega successful people. What are they gonna think about a philosopher talking to him about… Well, I was helping them to understand conceptually what they've been doing intuitively, their whole lives, but maybe couldn't teach their direct reports because they didn't have the right words. Well, we find the right words, and we find all the implications of those words in the implementation, tricks and techniques, and people come alive, it's a great thing to see.
Jack Hubbard 16:12
And I'm going to before we end, I want to make sure that people know how to get to your program, etc. and when you talk about confidence, it was interesting, I was watching recently the Canadian Open. No Canadian golfer had won the Canadian Open, the RBC Canadian Open to give full credit to the bank that sponsored it since 1954. So now they're in the playoffs. English gentleman and this Canadian, and he's got a 72 foot Eagle putt to win. If I'm on the green 72 feet away, I just want to get down at 4. He knew, he believed that that putt was going in and it did, and he won the tournament. You can't do anything in athletics or business or your personal life if you don't have that level of confidence.
So I love hearing you say that. When you write books –True Success. That's a pretty normal title. But now, Tom, you go into things like if Harry Potter Ran General Motors, if Aristotle Ran General, if Harry Potter Ran General Electric, if Aristotle Ran General Motors, fascinating. And now you've got a fairly recent book called Socrates in Silicon Valley, about Steve Jobs. You know, there have been a lot of books written about Steve Jobs. Why did you pick him as a title and talk a little bit about that book?
Tom Morris 17:49
Oh, yeah. You know, well, first of all background on the titles, I can't take all the credit because If Aristotle Ran General Motors, I sent the original manuscript to a hospital president whose work had been written up in the the Wall Street Journal in many places for innovation in healthcare and he was the guy I really admired. And he read the book in manuscript form before it was published. He said, I love this book. This is one of my favorite books I've ever read in my life but your title is totally boring. The title was Reinventing Corporate Spirit. And it was in a period of time where everybody was talking about “reinventing this” “reinventing that” but everybody was talking about product quality or process efficiency. Nobody was talking about the spirit of the people who do the work. So my book was going to be Reinventing Corporate Spirit. And he said, “It's a boring title.” I said, Well, I thought it was a good title. He said, “You need something snappy or you need something like maybe “If Aristotle Ran General Motors” and I said, “Bingo!”, his name is Phil Newbold. He's, he's retired now. And he's still making a huge difference in the health care community nationwide, and globally. But then, more CEOs have told me they have that book in their office, and they saw the title and they had to get it just because of the title.
So when Doubleday wanted me to write this –I had a book about Harry Potter called Harry Potter And The Meaning of Life. But double day said, we've always admired your book affairs teller in General Motors, we want to do a book like that with you. Could you call your book if Harry Potter Ran and then pick a company? So I researched all the companies at the time and picked a General Electric. And so there you have it, but the Steve Jobs book, I'd spoken for a company on true success for their global leadership team. The next year, they asked me back to speak on If Aristotle Ran General Motors. The next year, they asked me back to speak on how to deal with disruptive change, which became the book Plato's Lemonade Stand, another interesting title, the next year, as if they hadn't had enough philosophy at this poin. The next year, they call me and they said, the CEO said we're reading this new biography of Steve Jobs, this huge biography and he was the biggest jerk in the history of the world but he created the world's most valuable company. How is that possible? You know, ASICs doesn't explain it in his book? Could you come and give us a talk on how that could possibly be? Give us a talk about Steve Jobs and rather than saying, I know nothing about Steve Jobs, I did what I've always do. The first group that asked me to speak on change was a bank. And they call me and said, “Look, we're being bought by Bank of America. And everybody's worried about the transition, because we don't know if we're all going to have a job because it was a credit card issuing bank and they already have a big credit card division. And could you, everybody's morale is low. Could you give us a talk on how to deal with difficult change?” And rather than say, “Well, I know nothing about that.” I said, “Okay, let me look into it.” With Steve Jobs, I said the same thing, “Okay. Let me look into it.” That car dealer, “Okay, let me look into it.” So, people come to me with a need, and I'll say, “Hmm, okay, let me look to see if I can come up with something.” And I'm shocked. Before I knew it. I was spinning on a Sunday afternoon on the phone with the first guy Steve Jobs ever sold a computer too. Before I knew it. I was having coffee over and over with one of his direct reports that he drove around for sixty years and had dinners where they shared family stuff together. And this guy shared with me facts from Steve that Isaacson never saw. None of the biographers have ever…
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Tom Morris 21:48
And so I was able to get a picture of Steve Jobs. Yeah, he had problems. He had emotional problems. He had psychological problems. He had all kinds of difficulties. But he had an amazing philosophy of leadership. And that propelled him beyond all the problems. And once talking to his direct report, I said, people are trying to imitate Steve, you know, wearing the black mock turtlenecks, wearing the jeans, wearing the white New Balance shoes. He said, “Yeah, people are trying to imitate the behavior too. Yelling at people in public hallways.” And he said, some people think that made him successful. He said, I think he could have been a lot more successful without that stuff. It's the stuff he did do, right, that made him successful. And that's the stuff I tried to talk about in the book. So the book has got new stuff in it that nobody's ever seen before. The book has stuff about Steve Jobs that anybody can apply whether they're running, they don't have to be in the tech world. They can be running in the old school, grocery store, mom and pop shop or they could just be, you know, running their own lives. Well, won’t you do better. Steve's got some amazing ideas.
Jack Hubbard 23:00
That's crazy. Yeah. So someone writes, “Moving from difficulty to wisdom.” I mean, read the quote, “moving with wisdom, from difficulty to delight in everything we do.” Gosh, that's a great line. I bet that came from Plato's Lemonade Stand, a book you wrote in 2019. Talk a little bit about that. Give us a sense of that book.
Tom Morris 23:25
Yeah, that book. Actually, I wrote it over 15 years, it had 25 versions. It was turned down 44 times and it's, I think, my best book yet. And I had six different titles, some boring ones before I got to the good one, right. And I remember as a kid hearing people say to me 100 times as I grew up, “Tommy, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” “Tommy, life is handing you lemons right now. All you gotta do is make lemonade.” Everybody said it but nobody ever said how. So, when this bank I mentioned had asked me to give a talk on difficult change. I thought, “hmm, I remember this lemons to lemonade thing. Could that be of help?” Can I dive into what the great thinkers had to say about that? Because, Jack, it suddenly occurred to me. There are two things we've been talking about. When we talk about difficult change, or uncertainty. We talked about first of all, resilience. When something bad happens, bounce back, very important. We talked about grit for the last 10 years or so. When things are tough, you know, persevere, soldier on, also very important.
But the lemons to lemonade advice is not about bouncing back. It's not about soldiering on. It's about turning difficulty into delight, the opposite. I said, Okay, there's some magic here if I can find it. Alright, is there a basis for this image in the great thinkers and it turns out, Yes! There are amazingly powerful Ideas for basically spinning gold out of whatever is thrown in your direction. In fact, one of the stoics I think was Seneca, who once said, “Disaster is Virtue’s opportunity.” I mean, what a perspective, right? No matter what the world throws at me, I'm going to make it something good. It's not just like, I'm going to survive this, I'm going to try my best to survive this, we're not going to let this take us down. It's way beyond that. We're going to use this in a creative way. We're going to be alchemists, we're going to be transformative with this challenge, with this difficulty that suddenly faced us.
And I saw companies do that during the pandemic, right? We all did. Technology and use of technology that was probably five or 10 years away, got picked up in six months, it was an exciting time, or working from home, who knows when that would have ever been a thing. And all of a sudden, we see how productive some people can be in that sort of scenario. So the lemons to lemonade, difficulty to delight. If we have the right wisdom, we can be transformative. But then the real surprise is we can be transformed ourselves.
Jack Hubbard 26:15
Yeah. And you talk about challenge and opportunity transformation. So we've got this little experiment that's been going on for about 250 years here in the United States of America. And it's a work in progress. It's never perfect. July 4 of 2022. You wrote a new book called “The Everyday Patriot.” I'm eager to read this book.
Tom Morris 26:45
I gotta send you a copy of this righ away.
Jack Hubbard 26:46
I want to see it. I agree. And another signature would be terrific.
Tom Morris 26:50
Yeah, we'll do that.
Jack Hubbard 26:52
Talk about that new book. It's been a year. Tell us a little bit about that one.
Tom Morris 26:59
Oh, it was the most unexpected project I've ever done. And you can get a feel already for how unexpected some of my projects had been. Somebody just asked me a question and I say, “Hmm… I never thought about that before. Let me look into it.” But this one, the famous TV producer Norman Lear, All in the Family & The Jeffersons, you know, movies like Fried Green Tomatoes and This Is Spinal Tap and Princess Bride, my family's favorite movie producer. He calls me up one day. We've known each other for years since I was 39 and he was 69. He just turned 100 This past summer. He called me up one day and said, “Hey, Tom, I just bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence, it cost me 8 million dollars.” I said why? Why what? I said, Norman, you overpaid. I got mine for $4.95 at Barnes and Noble. He said, “Hey, you're really funny.” He said, um, a guy bought a painting at a yard sale, bad painting. He didn't like the painting. We liked the frame and painting at home that needed a new frame. So he takes it home, he starts taking it apart to put his picture in it. And there's something tucked behind the painting, folded up something he pulls it out. It's an original July 4 1776 Dunlap broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence, first printing 200 copies to be taken throughout the colonies, and read aloud in public places so people can know what was going on. We knew that 22 or 23 of these already existed, they were in museums. This was a new discovery. And he said I'm calling you because I've bought it not to put it in my house, but to send it around the country. So that people who don't live in a big city can see America's birth certificate and read about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe you could travel with the declaration and give a really stim laden speech every time we present it to people. Maybe you can write something about it. And I said, Well, Boy, that sounds great. You know, let me go reread the declaration, and then we'll talk more about it. So he called me three weeks later. I had to turn the declaration project over to a team because I'm doing a bunch of new shows. And word got out in Hollywood. I was trying to keep it a secret but the word got on Hollywood and now all the Oscar winners want to travel the decoration. And my team comes to me, says Norman who's going to draw the crowd, your friend, the philosophy professor or Dinsdale and Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. He said, you may be able to stay home after all, and I said, That's fine with me.
Why don't I write this up into a little book? And it can travel with the declaration. He said that sounds like a great idea. So became an early version of this book, written several years ago when we were in a different time in America, a friend recently who had bought 3000 copies of the original version of The Everyday Patriot. I had breakfast with him a year ago and he said, “Why not rethink your little book The Everyday Patriot for this time we're in now. When you wrote it, foreign terrorism was a big challenge to America. Now. It's very different. We have all kinds of domestic challenges. And he said I think the message of your book will never go out of style. But you can use new examples, you can make new points.” I said, I'm gonna look into that, that's a good idea.
And I did when the new version came out a year ago, taking people back to the founders values, what they had in mind for this country. And then to the philosophers, they were drawing on Plato and Aristotle and John Locke and other great philosophers of the past, who can give us a totally new version of what patriotism is supposed to be. Citizenship is not just a legal status, it's a moral calling. Patriotism is not adversarial. It's a love for country. It's a love for neighborhood, for town, for state. Try to make your immediate environment as beautiful and strong and powerful as it can be in every positive way. And then offer your neighborhood to the city, offer your city to the state, offer a beautifully functioning state to the nation and a great nation to the world.
The stoics had a principle of concentric circles, get your heart and mind right first, then get your household right then get your neighborhood right then and build out. Each circle should contribute to the next one out and every outer circle should reach back and support the inner circles. It's a beautiful image. And I even use images like grow your garden. Okay? We don't find gardeners fighting with each other. You like potatoes, I like tomatoes? Will you grow yours, I'll grow mine. Let's try to provide an abundance for everybody. Let's try to find the values we do have in common beneath all our differences and let's move forward with those. And the book has been just an amazing experience for me to visit book clubs. I have zoom sessions this week with veterans in Pennsylvania. It was an amazing, amazing response to the book The Everyday Patriots. So yeah, I'm so glad that people asked me wild things because then I have a new adventure.
Jack Hubbard 31:57
That's great. That's just great when you're open to it. My wife and I, in our neighborhood, are called “The Corkys” because when we take our dog for a walk, we take a bag and a little picker upper and we pick up trash, bottles, cans, things like that. If we believe that global warming is happening, which of course it is, how do I affect it? Well, I affect it by picking up that bottle. I've got a guy, a buddy of mine that plays golf with me. And he actually will go, now it's partially because he's all over the course but he looks for trash to pick up that control. That's where you talked about the concentric circles and, and we're at all in where it all starts. Well, I'm looking forward to getting the book everybody should buy it. Now, before I let you go, I would be remiss if I didn't ask a college professor, an eminent college professor, a well respected author about what's going on in college. You know, you read about the expensive of college, the viability of college. It's all over the place. Where are we? With college term?
Tom Morris 33:09
Well, the good news is, when everything's a mess, healthcare is kind of a mess. For example, college university education is kind of a mess for example. When we're got such a mess going on, we can name other sectors that are a real mess right now. It's nothing but a huge opportunity for those of us who want to do some good, right? Maureen Dowd wrote an article an op-ed a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times where she said, “Well, at a time when schools are shutting down the reading of books like Frankenstein, we got our tech guys out there ready to create Frankenstein in the world. She said, we need to prepare people with the humanities for what we're going to face in the sciences and in politics and in all other ways.” And I shot her a note, right after reading her op-ed, I said Maureen, what a great article. I just finished writing a book that took me 20 years where she wandered around to publishers right now. It's called “The Frankenstein Factor", subtitled monster success in massive failure.
It's a study about how smart and talented people can have a huge success that goes terribly, terribly wrong and ends up being a real disaster. We don't want that to happen with AI. And how can we diagnose what literature has told us before? Well, the colleges, if I can help call the colleges back to the importance of the humanities, not just philosophy, but in the new book, I look at the most ancient human tale Gilgamesh wrote about a king who was a bad leader who became a good leader in 2700 BC. Then I use stories like The Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the plays of Sophocles, Beowulf, Moby Dick, Don Quixote. Throughout history Mary's two books that she wrote many books but Mary Shelley wrote the book Frankenstein when he was 18 years old. That's probably the greatest cautionary tale on success ever written. You don't chase the wrong things because if you succeed, you may have created a huge problem for yourself. Boy! Think about that with Sam Bateman freed and cryptocurrency exchanges and we're surrounded by this right? What we've got to do is use the wisdom that's come before it.
Now Mary wrote a second book that nobody knows about. Everybody's heard of Frankenstein. Second book 1826, I think it came out was about a pandemic in the 21st century, that kills everybody. A talk about a prescient author. So this book is not about epidemiology is not about virology, it ends up being about the same personality trait she saw in Victor Frankenstein, a grandiosity of ambition, his motives, his means, and his methods that took him down. And we see that all around us in the world today how people responded to the pandemic, some political leaders around the world did it right. Others made a mess. And it was motives, means and methods. So in the book, whether we're talking about launching monsters in our own lives, in our personal lives, or whether we're talking about something on the the level of AI, we don't want our hardest work, and greatest goals to launch into the world monsters we can't control. And so the new book is about that.
Now in answer to your question, that kind of shows you the resources I think colleges have for preparing us for the future for parents preparing young people for the future. And some colleges are doing it right. I see my old alma mater, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, amazing students studying just the right things, preparing them well. Now I went to school on a scholarship. I came from a poor background didn't have money for college. I was given a Morhead scholarship. Now all Morehead-Cain. We have graduated from Morehead-Cains all over the world now over 3000 of us. The governor of North Carolina is a Morehead-Cain, the producer of all creatures, great and small. Morehead-Cain, we have this amazing scholarship family out there. And we get together every three years to encourage each other, inspire each other. They come from all over the world back to Chapel Hill. And we get to meet the undergraduates who are now on their scholarship, having their scholarships, these young people are the most amazing I have ever seen. So despite all the bad news about colleges and universities, there are still places where people are being trained in all the skills and all the wisdom they need for the challenges yet to come. And somebody asked me yesterday, how can we get your book Everyday Patriot into more schools. And I said, given what I hear about the schools these days, they've got more empty shelf space in their libraries than ever before. So maybe I can send them a lot of philosophy books.
Jack Hubbard 37:53
It's fascinating! And in that same article, it was interesting, with Maureen Dowd talked about, was, I believe it's in the English major at Harvard, they're doing away with poetry, there are some colleges doing away with English majors and philosophy majors, etc. You know, everybody can't be a plumber, everybody can't be a golf professional or a banker or a doctor. There are people who will need to teach where you started out. And those kinds of majors are really important for some people.
Tom Morris 38:26
You know, it's an unfortunate application, a very narrow marketing principle. The colleges are saying, what are people asking for? What are our customers asking for? Let's just give them that. Steve Jobs said, “I never asked my customers what they wanted.” You know, Henry Ford said, “If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” You know, he said, I tried to give them what they haven't even imagined yet. You know, you ask them what they want. They're gonna tell you what's on their minds. But what I want to do is I want to take them to the next level. So he didn't, he didn't believe in focus groups. He didn't believe in that kind of thing. The universities are going down the wrong path. They need to follow a good old Steve Jobs and give people what they're going to need in the future, what they're going to wish they had in the future. If they went to the wrong place for school. Give them that now be the school it does provide that it's a wonderful opportunity. Don't go marketing in the wrong way. “Oh, what do you want? A business major? Okay, let's devote all our resources to business majors.” Some of the most successful people in business I've ever known, English majors or philosophy majors or classics majors for crying out loud. It deepened them, it broadened them, it helped them become better, more interesting people. And that helped them in whatever job they went into.
Jack Hubbard 39:44
Fascinating. Well, this time has just gone like Ned said, he said it's a lightning bolt. And I've really enjoyed it. We could talk a long time more but I got to ask. You've written I think 30 Plus books now. You have got to always have it in your head, the next one, what do you think?
Tom Morris 40:05
Oh, yeah, I was supposed to be writing right now, a book I was just asked to give a talk on. It's going to be called The Gift of Uncertainty and it's aligned with Plato's Lemonade Stand on a lot of new stuff about uncertainty, and in particular, how it can be a positive in our lives. Nobody's covering that sufficiently in the business world right now or in any sector of our cultural life. There's some great wisdom about how to spin uncertainty into something amazing. So that's the next book. I'll start writing in September. I hope the one I'm writing right now was unexpected. I was approached in 1998. To write philosophy for Dummies the big yellow books. Their editor called me and said, I heard you gave a speech to 2500 drugstore executives last week in Boca Raton or Palm Beach, or it was Palm Beach at the Breakers Hotel. My boyfriend's Executive Vice President of CVS and he invited me to sit in. I'm the main dummies editor. You gotta write philosophy for dummies. I said, But y'all do gardening books and cooking books. You don't do that. And she said, We're gonna watch Lifetime Learning. We've already asked the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas Hoving to write art for Dummies, and he's agreed. So if you will agree to do philosophy for Dummies, you and Hoving will launch our new Lifetime Learning endeavor. So I did that back in 1998. It came out in 99. They called me in January and said, there's an ancient philosophy that's popular everywhere now, in business, entertainment, sports, the military, stoicism, ancient stoicism, would you write between now and September, stoicism for dummies, and I said, “Okay.” So I'm in the middle of that right now. But I finished this book, The Frankenstein Factor. I have another book, beyond that, that I've already finished, it took me 30 years to write. So I have two completed books. I'm writing stoicism getting ready to write the gift of uncertainty. And beyond that, I've got a couple of ideas already.
Jack Hubbard 42:10
How do you find the time to do all this time? You're on the road constantly?
Tom Morris 42:14
Well, you know, my wife says, you know, I'm just the kind of person who can't shut up. So I wrote my first book when I was 22 years old, not knowing any better, it was rejected 36 times. And so good thing I hung in there because number 37, the publisher said, “Okay, we're gonna do this.” I said, really? So yeah, I'm not as I'm not traveling as much now, I used to be on 400 500 Airplanes a year. It's crazy. Well, that's okay, when you're in your 40s, you know, but I'm 71 now. And now that we have this beautiful thing of zoom meetings and other virtual platforms, I try to divide things out in a sensible way so that I'm not always away from home for two or three days just to give an hour talk. I'll say to my wife, I gotta go upstairs and do a zoom talk. I'll see you in an hour. You know, I have a lot more time to write. It's a wonderful thing because again, I keep having ideas. And who knows where all this is gonna lead?
Jack Hubbard 43:06
Well, if somebody wants to get you on an airplane on a zoom, call, or write one of your books, or read one of your books, how do they get a hold of you, Tom?
Tom Morris 43:14
Well, there are two ways. One is my website tomvmorris.com There's a contact page over and I keep holding on to this. People can't believe it's the world's oldest email address, [email protected]. I've actually been thanked in person by their Chief Information Officer for keeping that address. I've got other email addresses too. But I like to give people that one just to keep a part of the past alive. [email protected] have people shoot me an email. We'll talk. I'd love to be of service to anybody in your amazing sphere of influence, Jack. I know how many things I've heard such amazing things about you from the Ned and from other people. Thank you for including me in this program, you are doing this podcast. And thank you for introducing me to your amazing circle. It's a real joy.
Jack Hubbard 44:06
“No, thank you, a real privilege to have you on Tom. Really appreciate it. Tom Morris, everybody. Thanks again.”
Jack Hubbard 49:00
Thanks for listening to this episode of Jack Rants With Modern Bankers with my special guest Tom Morris. This in every program is brought to you by our good friends at Vertical IQ and RelPro. Join us next time for more special guests bringing you marketing, sales and leadership insights, ideas that will provide your bank or credit union with that competitive advantage you need to succeed. This LinkedIn live show is now also a podcast. Subscribe to get the latest episodes of Jack Rants With Modern Bankers podcast and leave us a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and others. Visit our website themodernbanker.com for more information and don't forget to sign up for that public library, themodernbanker.com/publiclibrary all kinds of ebooks and webinars and podcast replays. You name it. It's there. Now as I say at the end of every podcast and LinkedIn live, “Make today and every day a great client day!”