Speaker Series: General Stanley McChrystal

February 22, 2012

We've hosted many of today's business and philanthropic leaders at our "InDay" guest speaker series over the years. As a Marine Corps veteran myself, it was an honor to welcome General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal to our offices in Mountain View last Friday. After a storied 35+ year military career General McChrystal is now focused on helping American companies succeed in today's challenging global economic climate. During his time with us General McChrystal shared his views of leadership, the challenges facing the US in today's global economy, and his personal passion for helping veterans returning to civilian life (his passion for "no man left behind" burns brightly). Many of the General's experiences translate very closely to today's business challenges:

Relationships Matter
  • Personal relationships matter more
  • "People are proud to be part of a tribe"
On Leadership
  • "Leadership isn't a talent or a gift - it's a choice"
  • Leadership is everywhere in an organization, finding it and harnessing it will set you apart
  • Inspirational leadership creates the personal desire of each team member to perform exceptionally in every task/detail
On Talent
  • "Look for somebody that's got scar tissue. Most of us get a little scuffed up when we learn something"
  • "Culture develops for a reason"
On Performance
  • Nobody can win unless the team wins
  • Nobody gets a bonus unless the team wins
  • Operate with focused precision
On Innovation 
  • Operating in the open creates a stronger team, removes friction, and allows information to flow
  • Take calculated risks - you can't win if you don't try
  • "Analysis paralysis" - don't get stuck over-analyzing situations; make a decision based on the data you have, then adjust as necessary

After the conclusion of his presentation General McChrystal spent time talking with several military veterans who joined us for his presentation, some of whom served under his command in Afghanistan. The willingness to help each of these veterans individually and collectively was a clear example of leadership by example. And, watching General McChrystal's passion for success and his compassion for the men and women that served with him, was inspirational.