This is how interviews should be done, great insight into how a man with integrity lives it up in the banking sector and makes, what was a very small institution, a large organization based on sound principles.
"Kaizen: In closing, what advice would you give to young people just starting out in their careers?
Allison: My first advice would be to read Atlas Shrugged. This will give them context for their college experience. They’ll have some really good professors and they’ll have professors who are not very good. Just because they’re professors doesn’t make them good. The students have to develop their own judgments of whether this person is giving them the right information and taking them in the right direction. Students must think independently and challenge the professors to prove their positions based on the facts. You must think for yourself.
And the other big thing that they need is to be clear about is developing a sense of purpose as early as they can, and the purpose is not just to get through college. Unfortunately, for a huge percentage of college students their goal is to get through college. They don’t really see anything beyond that, and I think that produces a different level of outcome.
This is a little bit of a long story, but it’s relevant. We have a model that says that focusing on results is largely a useless exercise. We learned this from doing mergers and acquisitions, because people are getting results you would expect based on what they’re doing. If you want to change results, you have to change behaviors. Behaviors drive results. If you’re unhappy with your weight, you’ve got to eat less, eat differently, exercise more, etc. If you’re unhappy with your grades, you’ve got to study more, study differently, get a mentor, etc. Behaviors produce results. The interesting thing about behaviors is you can sustain behavior change in the short-term because of external pressure. But in the long-term we act consistently with our beliefs. Our beliefs drive our behaviors. People lose weight, they gain it back because they don’t believe it’s important not to. So, leadership is not about results, it’s about beliefs and behaviors. Many leaders try to get better results by “beating” on the person instead of defining the behaviors that the person needs to exhibit. They haven’t thought about what actions are necessary to produce the desired outcome. Professors don’t think about that. What behaviors would these students have to have to produce superior results? They don’t even ask that question. And what beliefs would they have to have to sustain those behaviors? So leadership is about reinforcing beliefs that lead to behaviors that produce desired results. And you have to think about what the behaviors ought to be: that’s your job. If the student could figure it out, he doesn’t need to be there.
The meta-belief is purpose. If you want to do something meaningful, it’s the sense of purpose that drives the hard work to accomplish the steps to achieve the end goal. And what most college students, particularly business majors, lack is that they don’t have a purpose. They don’t know what they want to do which causes sub-optimal behaviors and lesser results.
If your end is to get through college, you might just care about your grades instead of learning. If you are in college to do something you consider important, you’re going to care a lot less about your grades and a lot more about learning. You’re going to approach every course differently. Your good professors will get that and they’ll help you. Your bad professors won’t care and you’ll know who they are. So, it’s having a sense of purpose that drives beliefs that drives behaviors that produces superior results. And that’s what most college students, I think, lack and therefore, they get a less meaningful education experience."