Lex Fridman Podcast #362 – Ginni Rometty: IBM CEO on Leadership, Power, and Adversity
Ginni Rometty is a former long-time CEO, president, and chairman of IBM.
Lex Fridman and Ginni Rometty discussed the challenges of running a company of IBM’s size, the importance of skills in the workforce, and the idea of power and how it relates to their own lives.
They also discussed the power of collaboration, the difficult decisions the CEO had to make to reinvent the company, and the importance of trust and transparency when it comes to AI.
The life story of Ginni Rometty
- Ginni Rometty grew up in a modest family in Chicago, where she learned the value of hard work and education from her mother.
- She studied computer science and electrical engineering at Northwestern University, where she was one of the few women in her class.
- She joined IBM as a systems engineer in 1981, and rose through the ranks by taking on various roles and challenges, such as leading the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting into IBM.
- She became the first woman to lead IBM as its CEO, president, and chairman in 2012, and served in that position until 2020.
IBM: The Global Technology Leader
- IBM is one of the oldest and most respected technology companies in the world, with a history of pioneering innovations such as the personal computer, the floppy disk, the ATM, and Watson.
- IBM has also been involved in some of the most significant events and projects in human history, such as helping NASA land on the moon, creating Deep Blue that defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov, and developing quantum computing.
- IBM’s vision for the future is to be the trusted partner for enterprises that want to leverage cloud and AI to solve their most complex problems and create value for their customers.
- IBM’s core values are dedication to every client’s success, innovation that matters for the world, and trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.
The power dynamics of Ginni Rometty
- Power is the ability to influence others to achieve a common goal.
- Power can be used for good or evil, depending on how it is exercised.
- Good power is based on trust, respect, empathy, integrity, and generosity.
- Good power is not about dominating or controlling others but about empowering and inspiring them.
- Good power is not about hoarding or protecting resources, but about sharing and creating value for others.
The work-life balance strategy of Ginni Rometty
- Work-life balance is not a fixed state, but a dynamic process that requires constant adjustment and prioritization.
- Work-life balance is not about having equal time for everything, but about having quality time for what matters most.
- Work-life balance is not about avoiding stress or conflict, but about managing them effectively and finding joy and meaning in what you do.
- Work-life balance is not about doing everything by yourself, but about delegating, collaborating, and asking for help when needed.
How to master the skill of negotiating and reach win-win outcomes
- Negotiating is a skill that anyone can learn and improve with practice.
- Negotiating is not a zero-sum game, but a collaborative process that aims to create value for both parties.
- Negotiating is not about winning or losing, but about finding a mutually beneficial solution.
- Negotiation involves communication, listening, empathy, and rapport-building skills.
- Negotiation also involves strategy, tactics, and leverage, such as knowing when to make concessions, when to walk away, and when to close the deal.
The social responsibility of Ginni Rometty
- Ginni Rometty talks about the social responsibility of IBM and how she addressed some of the ethical and societal issues related to technology.
- IBM has a long history of being a responsible and purpose-driven company, and she continued this legacy by adhering to some core principles, such as trust, transparency, and diversity.
- IBM has a significant impact on society, and she tackles some of the challenges and opportunities of technology, such as data privacy, cybersecurity, AI ethics, and digital inclusion.