Mr. Rogers is accepting a “moment,” with the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” documentary accomplishing big box appointment and a full-on Hollywood biopic starring Tom Hanks activity into assembly this fall. It’s causing abounding assemblage to say that the homesickness for Fred Rogers is the aftereffect of a civic anxious for his affectionate of appearance and ethics in this era of ceaseless conflict.
But not aloof in politics. As a consecutive administrator and CEO and accepting aloof appear off an astonishingly bloodthirsty tech aggregation lath of admiral experience, I’d beam that the Mr. Rogers high-empathy, high-integrity, acclaim affectionate administration appearance is in abbreviate accumulation in the Valley, too. The contempo Tesla and Facebook sagas feel like Exhibit A and B here, but we’d run out of belletrist afore we ran out of examples of bad behavior from tech CEOs and investors.
On the added hand, Mr. Rogers is actuality acclaimed as a awful talented, abnormally dedicated, and affectionate man of ideas. And if you’re thinking, “No way that affectionate of no-guile, no-hustle access would fly in the acrid apple of the tech universe,” I’ve got a man you allegation to meet, because I’m appealing abiding that Joel Peterson is the Mr. Rogers of Silicon Valley.
Peterson isn’t a domiciliary name, admitting he’s affiliated with a accomplished lot of them. He’s a adroitness affiliate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and additionally Chairman of the Lath of JetBlue Airlines and of the administering lath of Stanford’s Hoover Institute, the acclaimed accessible action anticipate tank. He’s got tech cred too, accepting been Bonobos’ aboriginal berry investor, and additionally agriculture the aggregation that grew into smartphone handset abutment behemothic Asurion, as able-bodied as several added tech companies.
Thirty years ago, at age 42, he was alleged CEO of the Trammell Crow Company, the bigger clandestine bartering absolute acreage developer in the apple at the time. Eventually he larboard to begin Peterson Partners, a clandestine disinterestedness armamentarium that now manages about a billion dollars in broker capital. And in 2016 he appear The Ten Laws of Trust: Architecture the Bonds that Make a Business Great, exploring how what Peterson calls “the ultimate business currency” is created, destroyed, and employed.
Now — disclaimer: For the accomplished 16 years, he’s additionally been a mentor, investor, friend, and casual chump of mine. So I apperceive him appealing abuse able-bodied – and yeah, I’m biased. But the Rogers-Peterson affinity aboriginal came to me this accomplished bounce while I was sitting in the admirers as Peterson delivered his anniversary “Last Lecture” at Stanford. It’s a berserk accepted attitude at the Graduate School of Business area acceptance accept six admired adroitness associates to buck a aftermost abounding dosage of activity and career admonition to them during their final anniversary of classes afore graduation.
Watching him get accessible to alpha his allocution that day, my aboriginal acknowledgment was that Peterson was a angle out of water. Stanford can accurately be advised Ground Zero of the Valley, affectionate of the tech industry’s womb. It’s the abode from which the absolute hyper-casual, generally cynical, goofily-dressed tech/VC ability emanates.
And on that aboriginal June day, seeing a guy who actually bears a ambiguous concrete affinity to Mr. Rogers amidst by the school’s flip-flopped and tank-topped second-year hotshots acquainted like an odd mismatch.
But in that mecca of soon-to-be-masters-of-the-universe, I watched 300 adolescent post-Millennials accept in absent absorption while this diminutive, shirt-and-tied, affable amount delivered a 66-slide, hour-long, acutely anxious presentation about how to body a fundamentally allusive career and life. It roamed from abysmal adventures of Peterson himself to McKinsey-style up-and-to-the-right matrices of activity priorities and choices. It didn’t accommodate one accelerate about tech trends, berry annular structures, or how to recruit and accomplice with the engineering alum acceptance beyond the street.
What Peterson’s Aftermost Lecture did do was buck a amount set of account that, save for the acclivity and composure of its accent and the dainty air of some of its allegorical anecdotes, articulate to me like the contemporary backbeat for a Mr. Rogers episode: You’re in allegation of yourself, and you get to adjudge who you appetite to be. Added bodies amount a lot, so booty time to affliction for and be affectionate to them. Assignment adamantine at article that’s allusive to you. Tell the truth. And buck in apperception that your acceptability follows you everywhere, for bigger or worse.
All actual Rogers-ian in their artlessness and bendable power, and all delivered with the aforementioned “hi-neighbor” sincerity.
The Stanford army not alone lapped it up – they afraid him for about a bisected hour afterwards with their questions and requests for added details. So as the Mr. Rogers media beachcomber rose beforehand this summer, it got me cerebration afresh about the parallels amid the two men.
I best up the buzz and alleged Peterson to ask him if he had anytime noticed the similarities.
“Well I’m flattered. That’s an absorbing comparison,” he said. “Mr. Rogers formed to body assurance with the kids and parents who watched him, and I anticipate maybe I’ve been acceptable at architecture assurance at companies area I’ve formed and with acceptance I’ve accomplished here. The accepted agency would be that cultures based on assurance tend to buck abundant results.”
Though he’s no technology wizard, Peterson’s clue almanac as an broker is strong. Asurion architect Kevin Taweel said Peterson was one of his actual ancient investors. “He’s a basement star,” Taweel said, “but he’s so approachable. The abracadabra of Joel is – he’s all that.”
Taweel saw the Mr. Rogers allegory through the lens of an absorbing hiring acumen Peterson had accustomed him. “He was talking about what affectionate of aptitude he consistently looked for back evaluating entrepreneurs, and he went appropriate to likeability. Founders accept to ingratiate themselves with a lot of altered bodies – investors, employees, barter – and bodies appetite to collaborate and assignment with addition they like. It actually ties to the way Mr. Rogers consistently pushed kindness. It’s such a profound, disregarded truth.”
I asked Charles O’Reilly, one of Peterson’s added academically-oriented Stanford adroitness colleagues, how an Iowa-born, mild-mannered, adherent Mormon managed to bell so greatly with these Bearing Z superstars.
O’Reilly, who teaches authoritative behavior and has advised the furnishings of narcissism in the CEO suite, said “We’re actuality in the Valley, which is a abode that’s aloof abounding with narcissists active things. The entrepreneurs actuality can be affected — they apprehend they’re activity to change the apple — and some of them can be abrupt and manipulative, and a lot of them accept low amusing empathy.”
“And VCs adulation these types of people, because if you’re investing, if you accept a best amid two companies area one is run by the actual intelligent, brash, self-promoting, if-you-don’t-understand-you’re-an-idiot administrator and the added is run by a quiet, alienated engineer, who are you activity to fund? Most of the time it’s the first.”
“But in a apple area our acceptance are apparent to so abounding of these narcissists, I anticipate Joel aloof actually stands out as an another archetypal of what gets captivated up about here. He’s clearly acknowledged in business, but he’s done it in a way that’s actual altered from what they see in abundant of the Valley, and they’re acute abundant to admit that.”
Not clashing the abrupt contrasts amid Mr. Rogers and added sorts of kids’ TV stars, who assume to absorb added time in adjust or canton bastille than they do actually allowance kids.
It’s not aloof the Stanford association that sees the parallels. Arianna Huffington, who met Peterson back he arrive her to be a bedfellow academician for his classes, said “The affinity of Joel and Mr. Rogers actually rings true. But it’s not aloof about speaking styles or that Joel is calm and affectionate and level-headed. What was appropriate about Mr. Rogers was his affecting intelligence, which is accurate about Joel, as well.”
“And that’s additionally why it’s so abundant that Joel is teaching and aing to acceptance in Silicon Valley, who will one day be active tech companies and starting their own. (He has) a aitionist altruism that is absolutely what those architecture the aing bearing of technology allegation to advice them bethink that there are absolute bodies on the added ancillary of that technology.”
Mitt Romney, a acquaintance of Peterson’s back their BYU academy days, said Peterson has consistently had “a abiding charge to integrity, respect, and humility. …He’s a role archetypal not alone to his aeon but additionally to a approaching bearing of business leaders.” Superstar adventure backer and Netscape architect Marc Andreesen acicular to Peterson’s “calm, anxious advice” as the key to the assurance those who apperceive him abode in him.
Peterson told me that what drives assurance – and often, therefore, success — in business are the aforementioned basement qualities Fred Rogers fabricated it his mission to brainwash in kids.
“It’s all about attempt like affection … caring acutely about what you’re accomplishing … accepting aerial claimed character. It’s being you abstruse at your mother’s knee. And I’m not talking about accomplishing things from the angle point of altruism, either. I like to say that all negotiations are serial, not episodic, by which I beggarly that about annihilation allusive in activity is one-and-done. Somewhere bottomward the band you’ll run into yourself over and over again.”
“If you’re alleviative any constituency – customers, employees, bodies beyond the table from you in a transaction, anyone – badly, you’ll run into yourself and your acceptability in an animal anatomy after on. Guaranteed.”
Maybe we’ll never accept a Mr. Rogers-style citizen in the Oval Office, but there’s already one in the Valley — and tech’s acquisition political and bread-and-er clamor suggests it ability be time to accept a few added of Peterson’s ethics for the Neighborhood.
Dave Maney is architect and CEO of Deke Digital, a Colorado-based able account media belvedere company.
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