SOS #92    J. Morris Hicks    (2-10-21)  
Bezos & Musk: Candidates for Greatness
Last week, on Groundhog Day, Jeff Bezos announced that, in July, he will be handing over the reins of Amazon to the current head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy - an impressive executive who has been with him since the 90's. 

From a NY Times article: While he plans to retain the role of executive chairman, he said that he intends "to focus his energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.

My question to Jeff is this: What do you do for the rest of your life when you "retire" as the richest person in the world who is about to be overtaken by Elon Musk? 

Do you just try to beat Musk to Mars? Or do you tackle something that has the potential of ensuring that you will go down in history as, by far, the greatest human being who ever lived?


Will you choose to be the rare person who leverages his wealth, knowledge, skills and global recognition to lead a comprehensive movement aimed at urgently guiding our species toward a harmonious relationship with nature?

Sadly, Mr. Bezos has shown no interest whatsoever in tackling that global sustainability project. He appears to possess many of the necessary attributes, but he lacks the vision for how a sustainable way of life for humanity might look -- and a plan for how we could make it happen. And without a vision, there can be no passion. 

And without passionate, experienced, leadership -- this crucial project will never get done.

What about Elon Musk? He too is a rare individual with exceptional talents and vision; however, unlike Bezos, he continues to manage a host of businesses and has zero free time on his hands. More on Musk later.


But with Bezos, he just announced that he is walking away from the single biggest executive management role in the history of the world. If he were ever going to tackle the world's most daunting challenge, this would be the ideal time to begin leading the...

World's most important project. I define that project as figuring out, and executing a plan for how we can renew our lease on planet Earth with Mother Nature. What could possibly be more important than that?

First, let's take a moment to identify the attributes of the ideal candidate for launching, funding, staffing and leading a massive global sustainability project -- such as the one that I've been thinking and writing about for the past few years. Greatly Improved "Successor" Civilization. The GBN

In thinking about those candidate attributes, we must look at the "big picture" of what needs to get done in order to maximize our chances for survival as a species. As I go about that process, I draw heavily on all four phases of my life's work. After earning degrees in engineering and business, I spent over ten years in each of these phases:
  • Engineer and process improvement consultant
  • Senior business executive and general manager
  • Executive recruiter and owner of a search firm
  • Sustainability researcher, visionary writer & activist
Now, let's talk about the mission of figuring out a way of addressing all the Scientists' Warnings that we have been hearing for almost thirty years. To borrow a phrase from the great W. Edwards Deming -- who I had the privilege of meeting in 1989 -- it all begins with three things:
      • Leadership
      • Leadership
      • Leadership
Deming preached that it all begins with a single leader who is passionate about his/her vision. During the second phase of my business career, I enjoyed the great experience of working for such a leader -- a rare individual whose name is now well-known all over the world -- Ralph Lauren. 

In the mid 80's, I got to see first-hand the magic of a passionate leader in action. He began his career with a vision of how life would be lived in the beautiful world of Ralph Lauren and he talked about that vision all the time.

 
For the product side of the business, he surrounded himself with people who shared his vision and were passionate about moving it forward. For everything else, he hired a few key executives to build and manage their own teams as they all worked toward the common goal of making Ralph Lauren Corporation the best that it could possibly be. I was one of those key executives.

In 1987, I was hired as Polo's first Senior Vice President. Now, when people ask me what I did at Polo, I tell them that Ralph and his business partner hired me to take care of all the operations that they did not want to deal with -- things like: manufacturing, distribution, customer service, real estate, informations systems, security and getting rid of unsold products, to name just a few.

For more about the Ralph Lauren era of my career, here is a link to a blog that I posted in 2011: Ralph Lauren and J. Morris Hicks - two "big picture" guys. A brief excerpt:

In an interview with Oprah on TV, Ralph talked about the fact that he wasn't about fashion - rather that he was all about living - a big picture if you will. He looks at the big picture of living and creates an atmosphere of beauty, grace, warmth and comfort.

Back to Job #1 for the planet. One which I describe as leading the global project aimed at creating a sustainable global civilization. As I think about the position description for leading the most important movement in the history of humanity, I do not know of a single candidate in the world who is "currently" qualified. But the possibility exists for Bezos or Musk to become qualified quickly. More on that later.

The slide below is another way to convey the "position description" for the most important leadership role in the history of humanity. He or she must be prepared to address this question for the entire world -- and then take urgent action accordingly.


I believe that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are more qualified than most, but neither of them has the vision or the passion required -- the two most important attributes for success in the mission. They don't have them yet, but if sufficiently educated and inspired, they could acquire them in a nanosecond.

Although not sufficiently inspired in early 2021, they both currently possess many other requirements that bode well for their success in almost any challenge they may choose to undertake. 

Importantly, they each already have an abundance of knowledge and experience that cannot be gained on the job. Here are ten of them:
  • Global name recognition and respect
  • Integrity and a sound moral compass
  • Vast wealth: needed to be taken seriously by all
  • Proven leader and builder of huge teams
  • Incredible track record of success
  • Intimate knowledge of AI and robotics
  • Smart enough to start a rocket company
  • An abundance of business leadership experience
  • Young enough, 57 and 49, respectively, to aggressively tackle/execute a massive, twenty to thirty-year project
  • Finally, with a total of eleven fairly young offspring between them, they both have enough "skin in the game" when it comes to very powerful, personal reasons for doing all that they can to ensure that humanity will survive indefinitely.  
What about vision and passion for this project? We all know that both are crucial for success and, as stated earlier, neither of these candidates currently have these qualities.

To me, this is not a deal breaker. That's because they DO have all the requirements that cannot be learned quickly on the job. In my opinion, all they really need now is exposure to the many scientifically-proven environmental challenges we face -- knowledge that will hopefully lead to the inspiration and the will to do something about them.

When they are fully informed regarding just how far away we currently are from living in harmony with nature, they are both brilliant enough to figure out the rest. And it won't take them very long. 
    
After their "light" goes on relative to our current predicament, either of them could oversee the monstrous and crucial task of imagineering, designing, building and promoting a totally new kind of civilization -- one that answers first to Mother Nature and one that is necessary to save the human species from extinction.

My informed estimate is that we must quickly learn to live between ten and twenty times as efficiently as we are living now. When it comes to exactly what lifestyle habits must be eliminated, my strongly recommended rule of thumb is: When in doubt, take it out.   

If Elon or Jeff need a little inspiration, they should watch this July 2019, 8-minute video, from my favorite "big picture" scientist and engineer.

How to save humankind (according to James Lovelock) | The Economist
...According to James Lovelock

The Bottom Line. While working on this SOS Memo for most of the day, I am delighted to report that I am feeling much better about our chances for survival than I was last week.

That's because, at the end of the day, we simply must do our best to give humanity the best chance of surviving. We can get that done with three steps:
  • Identify an exceptionally-qualified global leader -- like Bezos, Musk or someone else, who is willing to listen and is open to learning the scientific truth about our current situation on this planet.
  • Then, we conduct a five-day seminar for that leader -- exposing him/her to the simple scientific facts about where we stand as a species -- bringing in all eight of the living "big picture" scientists who appear in Chapter Four of our book, Outcry.
  • Finally, we assist that leader and his/her team as they brainstorm an envisioned way of life that will be as green* as it can possibly be -- even if they fear that the public will not readily accept such a departure from the incredibly wasteful and harmful way we are all living now in the developed world.  
*An important point. Apparently, Bezos and Musk are both currently unaware of just how crucial our food choices are to our survival as a species. And since those choices are by far the easiest aspects of our current civilization to change quickly -- either of these great leaders will no doubt want to address them early and ferociously -- as those dietary changes may buy us enough time to address the other, more complicated elements of the way we are living today. This crucial topic will be covered thoroughly in the above seminar.

In closing, let's do everything possible to get the attention of enough powerful leaders in industry, government, academia and entertainment to sharply raise the volume of the global "conversation" on this most crucial of all topics.

For your reference, this is SOS Memo #92. A handy link to it was posted on February 10, 2021, on my SOS Memos page. Please share it with everyone you know. With enough widespread distribution, maybe someone will send it along to Jeff, Elon and other powerful leaders. 

Finally, you should definitely read Outcry and encourage others to do the same. To my knowledge, this 2020 book remains the only book in the world that features an envisioned, totally-green, ultra-sustainable, super-desirable, future habit for humans -- along with steps for how we might get there using today's technology.

Please circulate this SOS Memo widely and encourage others to do the same. Contact me directly at the email below if you would like to discuss.   
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks

*********************

PS: Let's talk.To help jumpstart a global conversation 
that I keep encouraging, I am now offering to conduct private Zoom conferences free of charge to groups of almost any size. I look forward to Zooming with you and your group sometime soon. 

Send me an email and let's get started.

You can join my mailing list and/or find all of my previous postings by visiting the SOS Memos page on my websiteHere are a few of them where you can see how my vision has evolved since that first "creative idea" on 9-21-18:

As always, I am just trying to spark a global conversation about what is needed. By sharing a vision of what I believe is possible, I hope to influence others to think bigger, better and bolder. 

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

Want to see earlier SOS Memos? Click here
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