JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson: Why we need a movement to learn how to listen without an agenda – Thrive Global

Learning how to listen without an agenda. Our society today is polarized because we dont listen to each other or respect others viewpoints. Were led by those seeking power and any advantage they can get by going on offense. People must learn how to compromise in ways that allow both sides to win. I write in detail about win/win negotiations in my book. All great relationships, in business, in marriage, or anywhere in life, rely on compromise, on letting the other guy win, too. And such relationships are rooted inrespect.

I had the distinct pleasure to interview Joel Peterson. Joel is the Chairman of JetBlue Airways and Founding Partner of Peterson Partners, an investment management firm. He was previously the CEO of Trammell Crow Company. Since 1992 he has been on the faculty at Stanfords Graduate School of Business, where he was awarded the 2005 Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2016 Robert K. Jaedicke Silver Apple Award. He is the author of THE 10 LAWS OF TRUST: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great (Expanded Edition; HarperCollins Leadership; September 17, 2019).

Thank you so much for doing this with us Joel! Can you share your backstory with us?

Im a teacher, entrepreneur, author, husband, father and grandfather.

I began my career in commercial real estate and became the managing partner of Trammell Crow which, at the time, was the worlds largest private real estate development firm.

For the past 27 years I have been an Adjunct Professor at Stanford Universitys Graduate School of Business. A quarter century ago, I founded an investment firm, Peterson Partners, to help great entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career?

Well, at 45 years old, I started over. My time at Trammell Crow had wrapped up with some unfortunate pyrotechnics, and I had to figure out what to do next. I began a career teaching courses at Stanfords Graduate School of business in Real Estate Finance, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Managerial Skills.

I was nearly 50 when I founded Peterson Partners, where weve been lucky to be partners with some great leaders and the companies they founded, including Bonobos, Allbirds, JetBlue and Asurion.

Okay, lets jump to the core of the interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually quit their managers. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain talent today?

We all want to feel were respected members of a winning team doing something meaningful. If any of these elements is missing, our commitment declines, we consider leaving, or were just unhappy. This gets to the thesis of The 10 Laws of Trust. The best way to retain talent is to create a culture of trust and transparency where people feel empowered to reach their potential while, at the same time, working together toward shared goals that typically include growth, profits and respect for otherscustomers, teammates, investors, suppliers and communities.

The thesis of this book is that one can measure the trust level within ones organization. One can be intentional about building a high-trust organization and can either repair a broken trust or move on without becoming cynical or overly cautious. But it starts with understanding the nature of trust and building upon itone conversation at a time, one on-time, on-budget project at a timeas the foundation for a great career, a great business and great relationships with others.

How do you synchronize large teams to work together?

It starts with having a shared goalone developed by the team, not imposed from on high. If you can decide what winning is, youre halfway there. Then its a question of coming up with a strategy, assigning tasks and measuring the right keys to success, recognizing and rewarding people along the way. Naturally, this means you must communicate lavishlybad news as well as good news to effectively build trust. And you must delegate. Leaders at the top of an organization should be making only the close calls, those of a 5149 nature. Those who find themselves making easy decisions on a daily basis, failing to delegate and reserving every decision are sowing the seeds of low trust. This will make it impossible for a team to work without politics, recrimination and friction.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees thrive?

Be transparent. Create headlines. Repeat them. Measure them. Celebrate their achievement. In a word, communicate more and better. Dont run the company by rumor or gossip. Trust your team and empower them one assignment at a time as you build trust.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Learning how to listen without an agenda. Our society today is polarized because we dont listen to each other or respect others viewpoints. Were led by those seeking power and any advantage they can get by going on offense.

People must learn how to compromise in ways that allow both sides to win. I write in detail about win/win negotiations in my book. All great relationships, in business, in marriage, or anywhere in life, rely on compromise, on letting the other guy win, too. And such relationships are rooted in respect.

Can you please give us your favorite Life lesson quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Oliver Wendell Holmes said: I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Many people in our world of social media, fake news, quick turnarounds settle for near-side simplicity. Its only when youve worked your way through the complexity to find simplicity on the far side of complexity does one have a goal that others can implement. The paradox is that simplicity only yields to a study of the complex. But its a long road to get thereand there are no shortcuts.

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JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson: Why we need a movement to learn how to listen without an agenda - Thrive Global

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