CNBC’s business news anchor describes what went wrong over the last few years and discusses whether lessons have been learned.
Tavis: We continue our Road to Wealth series tonight with Maria Bartimoro, host of CNBC’s Closing Bell and the syndicated program, Wall Street Journal Report. Her new text is called The 10 Laws of Enduring Success and she joins us tonight from New York City. Maria, always an honor to have you on the program.
Maria Bartimoro: Tavis, it’s wonderful to see you again.
Tavis: Likewise. Let me start with why you decided that your friend was wrong when she advised you that now might not be the best time to be talking about success.
Bartimoro: I think she was completely wrong, Tavis, because the truth is, it is exactly the time to be talking about success when you’re down and out. I watched so many people lose their jobs in 2008 as the financial services industry changed and the media industry changed, manufacturing and so many jobs went abroad.
I said to myself, you know, what is success? How can someone have enduring success even when their world is falling apart around them? So I picked up the phone and I called successful people, lots of them all over the world that I knew, and I tried to figure out how to get there.
I learned that one thing that they had in common, everyone that I spoke with, was that they actually was the strongest that they could have been and actually they walked away feeling smarter not during the peaks in their careers, but the valleys in their careers.
It’s exactly this time when things are troubled and you’re struggling and you’re not sure when it’s gonna end that you actually find the tools to strengthen and rise above it and succeed and that’s why I wrote the book.
Tavis: With great humility, but no apology, I ask how it is that you get folk on Wall Street to read this? Because my first thought when I saw it was what a great service Maria has done if only the folk on Wall Street would read this.
Bartimoro: Well, it’s true. One of the laws of success is humility and one of the easiest ways to actually lose success once you get successful is by hubris. So I agree that there are a fair amount of people who certainly have taken this country and the economy and their own companies down the wrong path and probably should be reminded of that.
Look, I think that there are a number of ways that people should look at surviving and thriving in a tough economic period. One of those ways is to recognize that we are human. We make mistakes, but the most important thing is to learn from them.
So all of the people that I spoke with about this book and about succeeding in a tough time and how you did it said that you need to keep your feet on the ground, not lose yourself. Remember that you’re human. Things will happen where you fail.
Garry Kasparov, for example, the chess champion from Russia, said to me, “When we’re victorious, we don’t even think about failure, but when we fail and we make mistakes, we all scrutinize our failures.” That’s exactly what we shouldn’t do.
What we should do is, when we’re victorious, when we have a win, scrutinize the victories. Actually say to yourself, “Ha, fooled them again. Let me look at that and see how I could have actually done a lot better.” That was one piece of advice that I loved from the book.
Tavis: I want to jump into more because there are a number of pieces in here that I love. It’s great advice. Before I jump into these ten laws and pull a few of them out, I wonder whether or not the biblical edict is right and perhaps part of the reason why we’ve gone off track, the notion that the love of money is the root of all evil.
I wonder whether or not we live in a country where too many of us, even those of us who don’t have it, are obsessed with money and that, in fact, is how we define success.
Bartimoro: Well, you know, this is a really important question that you’re asking. I think when you start looking at what went wrong over the last two years, you realize that the financial sector had gotten so big and it was partly the allure of compensation.
When you’re in college and when you’re in graduate school, what is the big win and when do you feel like, “Oh, I’m making it” when a recruiter comes and says, “We’re gonna hire you and pay you a lot of money.” So the whole incentive of story is really backwards because what happened was over the last ten, fifteen years, all of the very talented people coming out of school went right into Wall Street.
They didn’t go looking for jobs in some of the underpinnings of our economy such as manufacturing or biotech, healthcare. No, they were chasing money, so they went to the Blackstones of the world. They went to Goldman Sachs instead of going to some of the things that we really needed as a country. That’s changing right now.
So I think one of the more important things to remember when you are trying to succeed whether it’s at work and school, don’t chase money. Don’t go into a job because you think you’re going to get rich from it. Go into a job because you absolutely love it and you’ve got a fire in your belly.
Chris Gardner, the subject of that wonderful film, The Pursuit of Happyness, said to me, “You know, Maria, I have one major problem that so many of the people and the big hotshot CEOs that you talk to don’t have. Every morning, I don’t have the stuff and the money that they have, but every morning I wake up and my face hurts because I can’t get the smile off of my face.” That’s because he has a fire in his belly. He loves what he does and that’s why he’s so happy and successful.
Tavis: One of your ten laws of enduring success that ties, I think, nicely to the point you’re making now is called “vision.” You say to plant your dreams on solid ground. I love in the book how you make the point rightly that Dr. King never said, “I have a business plan.” He said, “I have a dream.” You talk about how important it is to have a vision for your life.
Bartimoro: Absolutely. Do you think he would have inspired confidence and leadership and crowds and crowds and throngs of people all over the world to follow him if he said, “I have a business plan?” No (laughter). We want a dream and we want a vision, but we want that vision built on solid ground. We want to know that it’s realistic.
So the first law of success is knowing yourself. Self-knowledge. Know what you can do. Know where your love is and what you have in your belly, that fire in your belly, to actually do well. Once you have a clear picture of who you are, what you can accomplish, where you’d like to go, you can start actually putting a vision together to get there.
I told the story in the book about my own life when I was at CNN as a producer and I got promoted. It was more money, it was a better title, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. For the first time in my young career at that time, I forced myself to say where do I see myself in five years? I looked long-term. I started thinking about my own vision for myself and that’s when I started plotting for it.
Tavis: You talk in the book – and I’m glad you do, especially in today’s world – about integrity which leads me to ask, for you personally, how do you define integrity? What’s integrity to you?
Bartimoro: Doing the right thing always. Don’t try to do the right thing. Just do the right thing. When we are faced with a dilemma, we all know what really is the right thing. We don’t always make the right answers and we sometimes make mistakes. You need to recognize the mistake, learn from it, walk away smarter.
People want to be around integrity. They will get inspired by people with integrity. You can have all the money in the world and all of the stuff in the world, but you don’t necessarily have integrity. But you won’t be successful unless you have integrity.
Tavis: To your point now, though, what do you say to persons in the financial services industry who will look at a client, those who do have integrity who will look at a client no matter how big or how small and say, “Here is my advice and here is why I’m offering you this advice. I know you don’t want to hear this; you may not agree with this; you may think there’s a faster way and better way to make money, but here is my advice” and then the person walks away and doesn’t do business with that person offering advice.
They have to say to themselves, “Okay, I had integrity. I told them the right thing. I did the right thing, but I didn’t make any money as a result of that.”
Bartimoro: That’s small potatoes. It’s the bigger story that matters to that person and the bigger story that matters to that person’s success and longevity in the business.
He or she did the right thing and that person may not have wanted to hear it and may not have wanted to listen to it, but at the end of the day when push comes to shove, when that person really needs advice, when that person is really looking for the right road and it may be to make money, he’s going back to that person because he knows that person has integrity and will tell it like it is.
Tavis: The one thing that everybody, I think so many of us rather, are dealing with is in this difficult time trying to be adaptable. You have a wonderful chapter in here about adaptability. Tell me more.
Bartimoro: Adaptability is probably my favorite law of success in this moment in time. The economy is changing tremendously. We’ve got technology putting people out of business in the newspaper business. We’ve got manufacturing plants being shut down. The economy is changing and evolving. The president is talking about green jobs, talking about transitioning.
People need to be adaptable to the economy. We need to look inside of ourselves and look at our own skill set and say to ourselves, “What about my skill set? What am I good at that actually can transition into where the growth is in this economy?” If you do have holes in your skill set, if you do have holes in that resume, you need to figure out how to fill those holes. Maybe it’s a mentor, maybe it’s new training.
But make no mistake, these are the realities of the day. This economy is changing. It is changing dramatically. It is changing fast. Economies around the world are growing faster than the U.S. We’re talking about the U.S. losing some momentum on the global stage. Not necessarily, but possibly because you’ve got other nations rising. We need to figure out how to not only survive, but thrive in that economy.
I believe it’s looking at your own set of skills and trying to figure out how to improve upon them. Use this time right now where you’re uncertain about your next move to make sure that you are positioning yourself as best as possible to where the jobs and the growth are right now and where they will be in the next ten years.
Remember what Darwin said. It’s not the fastest person; it’s not the smartest person that will eventually win in the end. It’s the person that will be adaptable and flexible to change. I believe that to be very true, particularly right now.
Tavis: I got 45 seconds left to go. Let me close, Maria, where we began and that is, now that the text is out and people are reading The 10 Laws of Enduring Success, it’s one thing to see the lessons. It’s another, as you know, to learn the lessons. Do you see any evidence that Wall Street is learning the lessons that it should have learned from the debacle that we have had to endure?
Bartimoro: I do. I mean, I think that we’ve got a real focus on compensation right now. People are coming back down to earth in some sense in terms of what they’re paying people. I also think that obviously leverage has come down.
So we are seeing some changes in the industry. We’re getting financial reform coming down the pike. That is going to create consolidation, more deals. We’ll have deposit bases. Peoples’ money isolated from some of the riskier businesses out there, most likely.
We’re seeing change, but, Tavis, I’ve got to be honest with you. No doubt, we will find ourselves in this position again at some point because we forget very easily. We are a very optimistic society and you have to be a contrarian. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Tavis: The next text from CNBC’s Maria Bartimoro is called The 10 Laws of Enduring Success. It’s a great read. Maria, as always, a delight to have you on the program.
Bartimoro: Thanks so much, Tavis.
Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm