Thank you for calling New England Patriots. How may I direct your call? Welcome to the Knowledge Project. I'm your host, Shane Parrish. I'm the author of the Street Replug website, dedicated to mastering the best of what other people have already figured out in the Knowledge Project as guests from a wide range of displays to better expand our minds and challenge our thinking. The guests on this episode is Michael Lombardi. Michael is a former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and current member of the coaching staff of the New England Patriots.
He's widely regarded as one of the shrewdest evaluators of people in the NFL. And as we'll see in our conversation, a lot more goes into that than just measuring talent. Among other things, we explore the four elements of leadership, decision making, game plans and the role of systems and processes before we get started. Here's a word from our sponsor.
Greenhaven Road Capital is a small hedge fund inspired by the early Warren Buffett partnerships. We have a fair fee structure and our portfolio manager is the largest investor in the fund. Our minimum investment is one hundred thousand dollars. The credit investors can learn more at Greenhaven Road dotcom.
All right. So let's delve in. Where did your passion for football start?
You know, I think a lot of times your passion grows from what you see. And as a kid growing up in New Jersey and watching the guy with the same last name as you on a sideline achieve such notoriety and such success and become an idol that, you know, his dreams and his past really became my dreams and something that I really wanted to become only because it was the same last name and it looked like he could have been in any one of my family reunions.
I thought that. And so, you know, I just really got passionate about learning about him, learning about his life, about what he tried to do. And and that set me on the path of football. That's Vince Lombardi, right? Yes. Yes.
So how did you translate that passion into what was your first job in the NFL, I guess, or in football?
Well, you know, you start out and you study the game and you play. I played a football Hofstra before I graduated. I wanted to learn about football. So during my whole collegiate career as a player, as a student at Hofstra, I would in the winter, I would travel to these coaching clinics all over the northeast corridor where one would be an Atlantic City or, you know, New York, Jersey or even Connecticut or anywhere. I would go and sit down there and listen to coaches speak, paid a forty dollars fee and go and spend three days listening to coaches speak about football and football.
So from doing that in college, I knew that my path to get to coaching or being involved in football required me to become a graduate assistant, continue my learning process at a school, basically getting the donuts, getting the coffee, you know, doing whatever you had to do. And so from those clinics, I was fortunate enough to meet a man named Harvey Hyde, who had just become the head coach of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
He took a liking to me and they offered me a tremendously high paying job, no money as many times as I had. And I went out there and started work and learning. Actually, I don't think I was working. I think I was learning. There's a fine line between work, producing work and learning. And I think that I was in the learning stages. There was a lot of production of work other than getting this car clean and figuring out exactly what's the learning curve like.
Maybe you can take me behind the scenes a little bit in terms of what goes on.
And that's a great question. I think that was unique sport. It's a sport that is similar to chess, that it requires studying of prior games, prior moves prior to really understand where you are. And if you don't have a sense of all the games that have been played and you don't have that, it's a sport that you just can't come flying into and feel like you have a really great grasp of it. And so you have to really study the game from the single wing and to the T formation until the passing game and the running game.
And and so that education became really important to me and understanding the game, understanding how it works and the football element of it. And I think that's really what I did at those clinics. I learned the basics. You know, I could understand it, you know, and football's a game where I tell this to people all the time from doing television. You can play, you know, the offensive line in football, but you only play offense in baseball.
You play offense and defense and basketball, and you play offense and defense. In hockey, you play offense and defense. And so in football, you only play one side. So you do miss some elements of the entire game. Not the quarterbacks are fortunate because they seem to know the entire game and perhaps tight ends can because they block and catch and do all that. So you really have to force yourself to learn the entire game. And the only way to do that is by studying it in a complete manner.
And that's what I try to do.
How does that work with specialization? From my point of view, I mean, I don't see inside of NFL organizations your position coaches. How much does the role of the entire game play into what you're trying to accomplish as a coach and leader and then your specific job? I mean, how much speciality is there? And then how do you broaden that? Well, I. That's really the great question is the NFL is on the job training site, you get the job, you have to continue your education while you're here, and you can't really spend a lot of time on the continuation because the season so busy.
I remember reading this years ago and Henry Kissinger's memoirs, he said, you know, when you come to Washington, you borrow the intellectual power you bring and you can't renew it once you're here. And I think a lot of that that statement that Kissinger talked about in Washington relate it to the NFL. You're in the league still owning the league. You really have to find avenues and time spent to study it and continually grow within it, because if you don't, it'll pass you by as you're in it.
And the last thing you want to be is a little bit old fashioned in the league. You don't want to be doing something that was done four years ago because it no longer works today. And so you have to constantly work at it and your time is your only real element that you can challenge. And you have to make sure you use your time wisely. I mean, there's a there's an element of kindergartener's to that. You have to do it.
So that's that's kind of what we try to do is we try to spend as much time studying as we can and really try to grow from it.
What would you say is the difference between a good coach and a bad coach? I think the key here now we're going to fall into the lines of leadership. I think coaching is leadership. So it really comes down to the four elements of leadership. Most great coaches have at least three of the four, and they don't succeed if they don't. And so the elements of leadership is management of attention, which means you have a plan. Most coaches have to have a plan for managing the meaning, meaning you can explain your plan clearly and concisely and communicate it to the players or to the people you're leading the management of trust.
The players trust you to be consistent within yourself and within the people you're leading so that you don't have double standards. I mean, it's one thing to be a really hard, tough coach, but you don't have to be hard and tough on everybody. You just can't pick and choose. And then the management itself, which is probably the hardest areas to be self-critical of, when you make a mistake, when you do something that's not effective, you have to be able and honest to say, you know what, I made a mistake here.
I need to correct that. And so when you have those four areas, then you become a better coach. And I think that's really the fine line coach in your leadership. Coaching is teaching. It isn't just a separate issue, isn't just a separate, singular vocation. It's truly about being a good leader, but being a good teacher. And if you have those two qualities, you certainly can become a successful head coach.
How much do you think that the role of leadership is the individual versus the system they put in place?
You know, the system is a byproduct of the detention, so it falls within the leadership. So the leadership is the system gets the attention. The Bill Walsh introduces the West Coast offense to the San Francisco 49ers in nineteen seventy nine. It's the system. But really, that was the that grabbed the attention and then his ability to explain the system to them captured and then propelled his leadership even further. So I think they go hand in hand. If you don't have a system where you don't have a belief of what you want to become as a team, as a leader, as the head coach, it becomes very difficult for you to communicate that to the players.
And then all of a sudden you become an independent contractor and you have a bunch of independent contractors working for you. If the head coach doesn't come in with a philosophy of understanding, he has to subcontract all that out. And it can be very difficult for him to sustain leadership over stand over a long period of time. Does that happen a lot? It happens all the time. We're in an industry of specialization, you know, so if you're a defensive coach, you want to hire the best offensive coordinator you can.
And when you become a head coach and you know what we've learned is the guys that have had involvement in all areas of the football team as head coaches typically become the better head coaches.
Do you just want to go out and hire the best coach or do you want to hire the best person that fits in with what you're trying to accomplish? And how do you kind of distinguish between that and I guess on a player sense it becomes for the talent versus fitting into the schemes and the systems that you're trying to use.
Let's pick the players. You can play their base for the match and get through to the Yankees. And you could have played the day game and saw the Nets and you could play the night game and play third base for the Yankees and you wouldn't be. But in the NFL, you could play offensive line for the Denver Broncos. And you think it's related to the Patriots. And those two line techniques and fundamentals and requirements that go within the framework of the position are probably going to be very, very different, and therefore it'd be very difficult for you to transition and play.
So systems and how systems relate in the NFL are really very important. And you have to draft players that can fit within the system and then you can develop the skills from the system. And I think that's what a great coach was. His greatest strengths was he was able to set a system in place, drafted players that fit the system, and then he developed those skills within the system. And that's why oftentimes you'll see players that played well for the 49ers back in their day.
Well, for the Patriots, they may have gone somewhere else and have not played as well because perhaps it isn't the players fault. Perhaps the system doesn't fit as well to the players. So from a player's standpoint, that's really important. And from a coaching standpoint, isn't it general manager, you know, you want the organization to have a philosophy that transcends time and understands what we're trying to accomplish. It can't be on just a very narrow focus.
It has. To be 10000 feet, you are what you want your position to be and how you want to react and how to behave over time, and those standards and those beliefs and principles have to be contested. And then when they are, they can sustain any bump in the road and you can overcome it without having to dramatically change the difference between change and modify. And I think you see the great organizations that have adapted to the change of the league rules have been able to modify their systems and play.
And then oftentimes we see teams that have the support. They change completely every two years and they're always wondering when they're going to catch it.
When you're drafting a player, for instance, do you spend an equal amount of time on their pure physical talent? Like how do you even determine if they'd fit into a system?
It's what Coach Wallace used to talk about. Scout and the inside out, not outside. So you know what you want as a football team. You know, the draft is a huge event, but it's really a very singular operation because if you focus on what you need and what you really want and then you search for players that fit those needs, and I suppose once it becomes a lot easier. I often say this and start searching for serial killers by phone book.
They have a profile on every thing that they're looking for that might lead them to their suspect. And it's the same in scouting. Scouting is not finding players. Scouting is about eliminating players. And so when you have standards and you have requirements and you have beliefs in your system and player and things that you must have within your system, then you search for players that fit the criteria and you eliminate ones that don't. And that doesn't mean they can go on to be great players.
It just means that they don't fit what you do or how you want to play. That's part of the screening process and that's why it's very important as a general manager or director of player personnel to really understand coaching what's being taught, the systems that are in place. Because when you do that, then it becomes a lot easier to find players that fit within the system.
Is that why a lot of the coaches seem to work for people who they've worked for in the past, like when you're hiring a coach, for instance, because you have that sort of relationship with them already, you know, you have a philosophical belief and understanding.
And so you have a relationship that's predicated on how you view the game. Football is different in that there's a lot of different styles of how to play, whether it's the 49ers West Coast offense or whether it's the Giants, Bill Parcells and the power of one game with very little on the ball and still of the quarterbacks oftentimes are getting to Miami Dolphins and their run game to the Kagan in Buffalo, where they threw it all the time. So there's a lot of different ways to win.
So what happens is which the way you feel most comfortable with, usually those are your friends. Those are the people that you become friendly with because you see the game the same way in a series of conversations. And that's why you see a lot of that.
So how do you avoid surrounding yourself, the kind of group thinking nobody does anything at all thinking? I like to think I got to the challenge and I think that that's where you have to stay on the cutting edge and you have to be willing to be serious about what's going on in the league. And you have to be curious to understand that you need to modify and you need to adapt to the rules and find different ways to solve the problem. I mean, divergent thinking certainly plays in effect here.
And so if you can be divergent thoughts, then I think you can achieve what you need to achieve that divergence. And your thought becomes much problematic in the NFL because you've been successful. And so why would you get away from something that's been successful? When I first got to the Raiders and, you know, we want to Super Bowl using yellow legal pad and the computer age, it's coming. You don't change. You know, you're going to get a service sign in my office.
That said by Erickson and United States, if you don't like change going to relevancy, then less. And I think that that happens to be true. And so you have to force yourself to change, but change. Not saying, OK, when you're able to throw the ball 70 times next year, I run it, throw it will change within the rules and how that fits to within the philosophy of who you are.
So I think it would be fair to say the Patriots have adopted in the Bill Belichick era fairly well to change. Why do you think that that is what gives them sort of the ability to do that, whereas other teams don't seem to adapt as well?
Well, I think that football is I mean, those are very adaptable in terms of as a coach, you know, I mean, from the time he was at the Giants to Cleveland, he's always believed and instead of asking the question and sort of trying to play the game the way he wants to play, the question is always asked what it's going to take for us to win the game, how do we have to play it? And then you have to have a system in place that can play a lot of different ways.
And I think that's why he's so successful. I mean, you've seen the pictures of one of them initially. The only team in the NFL history threw the ball over 50 times, twice and won both games. And it's rare to do in a playoff game. But we did it. We did it well. So he's adapted to change. He's very good about understanding what it takes to play by the rules. And I think that that's part of the secret to success as a leader.
I mean, it all starts with his leadership ability, his understanding of how to lead.
So you determine, I would imagine, through video and other evidence, you know, that you want to attack a certain weakness on another team. You identify a weakness, and that's what you want to exploit. I'm coming from an outsider's point of view, but that's why you end up throwing the ball 50 times, is that right?
Yeah, I mean, the way the rules are. And they also make throwing the ball more firmly back in the early 60s when the offensive linemen use their hands and. Stick your elbows out contest, protect them. That was an easy thing to do, but I got sick of it nine times in the icefall and I can talk radio if parts I would have nine times in a playoff game, hit the Hall of Fame, offensive lineman as far as Craig and Jerry Kramer stand in the Hall of Fame.
But clearly there was a lot of great the first and those guys without names in front of them, but yet the sacked a bunch by the Cowboys. So as the rules change and what makes something a lot easier to do from the ball, then you have to back the team into that. And so you certainly look at the team strengths and weaknesses and you can accurately evaluate them. And you have to have a team that can play right or left handed, meaning that they can adapt to the style that it's going to require you to play to beat them.
And that's really what happens to most of the teams. The teams that win in advance, whether it's in basketball, in the NBA, is they can play different styles and still effectively win the game. But you can only play one style and you have to play that style to win. You have been very fortunate and very lucky to maintain that and hit the right opponent all the time.
Or else, you know, it's going to get that the UAW week to week with the Patriots, very different game plans for different teams. How does that manifest itself in practice?
You know, when we say that we were different, we are different, but we don't change the scheme. You know, we might emphasize something different when we're playing the Miami Dolphins as opposed to if you're playing the Jets for probably to the next week. But it's in that emphasis. With that modification might a week becomes the emphasis of that week, the practice that keeps the players at pressure to and says, hey, this is what we're going to do this week, one game.
And if we can't win the way, how hard is it to keep the players engaged generally?
I mean, I would imagine there's a ton of ego going on and the me first versus team first, how does that translate into the practice field and the leadership of the coaches?
I think being part of success is more important than being personally indispensable. And I think that's really the key here. I think everybody here plays a part. It's important. And, you know, nobody's more important as a team. You know, it's it's a team element. And it's very important to be reminded of the team. That's just not one person able to drive the engine. I think we all play a part in helping to build an organization.
And you can't get too caught up in how big a part which is, as Bill would say very eloquently every single day, just do your job. Your job is to find and you do it.
I would margin that you guys focus on process and not necessarily outcome, but competitive sports is the ultimate kind of outcome sport. How do you keep that focus on the process?
And again, it starts with the head coach and all he focus on is making sure you do your things. It's going to take you to win. Doesn't make a lot of sense to spend a lot of time on Wednesday worrying about what happened last week. You can only control what you can control, which is moving forward, which is the next week's game, and making sure that you do all the things you have to do to prepare yourself to play that league.
So the focus in the NFL is pretty sobering because it's only and always again the next week and then you don't have time to spend worrying about what happened the week before. So when do you go back?
Kind of at the end of the season to look back either ongoing or Itachi question on most Mondays is why did you end or why did you lose? And if you can accurately answer those two, then you should keep doing the things that answer you what you want, and you should try to figure out the things you need to do to to stop you from losing. And I think that that's self reflection. Every Monday is the most important thing you could do starting Monday.
Can you give me a brief overview of kind of what the weekly game prep is like from a coaching point of view?
Well, you know, from coaching, it's most Monday mornings are spent on reviewing the game for the week before work in three different areas. I mean, football's game of players, coaches. And it isn't just players fault that something happened or coaching fall, but something to happen looking for. There's an element that has to be evaluated all three. And so you spend most of the morning evaluating that, whether it's personnel, people, whether it's the coaches, the head coach, you spend most of the morning and then once you're done, then I can come up with a consensus happen positively or negatively or what needs to improve, even if you want.
Then you go the next week and start preparing and studying for the test. That's going to happen on Sunday. And that test preparation starts on Monday afternoon. It goes all through Tuesday. And and then the coaches spend Monday and Tuesday working on that. And then they get ready for practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as they prepare the team to practice things that they believe the way the game is going to go and how it's going to have to be played.
And then Saturday's more of a reflection kind of review study and then Sunday. And it just keeps repeating itself and you have to make sure you break the games. I don't understand how you want to play it, what you want to do and move on from there.
What role does technology play in all of this from a decision making point of view, from the coaches, from a input into how we practice what's changed everything?
I mean, look, the instantaneous ability to evaluate tape based on that is going from, you know, we're on 60 millimeter tape. I mean, my day I saw the great Roy Gilbert. It was a guy at the Forty Niners. We would have to wait for him to come back from wolpaw up. So I had to bring a 16 mm tape back to watch practice. So the instantaneous ability to look at practice and tape allows you. Evaluate the game and evaluate it and study it so there's more instant reflection and you can prepare, and so that allows you to get better and improve your technology and improve.
So the video alone, I mean, you could sit in your office and pretty much watch every single game. So if you want back in the day, you were just really subjected to your exchange of the tape from the opponent. This really makes it so. Now you have more information at your fingertips, which is great. But it also requires you to understand what is urgent and what is important within that information. You have to be able to decipher that.
You put your time and resources in those areas so you're getting a lot more information than you used to have. Do you think the ability to filter that information becomes more important? Absolutely.
I think you have to be able to understand what's urgent and what's important, and you have to study it.
When do you see most of that as kind of intuition from a coaching perspective? A little bit. I think it's depending on who you're playing this week and how you handle the week and what you need to do for the week from a broader technology perspective.
Do you see teams trying different things to do with technology, or is everybody kind of just doing the same thing and doing more of it now?
I think every team has different ways of handling it. Certainly to have them work for everything. But I'm sure everything's different, that the team understands the value of having more information on how you discern the information is critical. So I would assume that everybody has their own way of doing it and how they get it done and what they're doing is what makes them successful and maybe what does it I mean, it really comes down to does it affect on the field and does it help the field?
And I think that's really what's the really measuring stick.
How do you think the role of evaluating players has changed? I mean, everybody's familiar in baseball with the Moneyball story and Billy Beane in the Oakland A's and kind of coming at it from a different approach. Can you give us any insight without revealing too much about maybe how that's changed over the course of your career in the NFL?
When I first got in the league, you know, we were all subjected to 16 millimeter tape and you had to go to the college to really watch it. And nobody had it in there off the college. Scouting was really hands on on campus job. And you took the projector into the school. You sat there. You hope they had 60 millimeter tape available for you before you got to watch it. You rolled it. If you if the tape was broken, you spliced it back together again and you put it back and your notes and you watched those three games and you wrote the reports.
And now today you can sit in your office and watch Ohio State play Maryland this year and you can watch him play Illinois and you can watch and play Alabama. You can watch Ohio State play everybody without having to leave your office. And so you can view more tape. But now when you're not on campus and you're not about able to watch the players practice and around them as much, there's an element that you lose that perhaps you don't see how police work habits are what he does.
So as much as you're getting more information via the tape, you perhaps lose more information from your ability to be on campus, get the coaches, talk to him and have coaches available. You adapt to it. You study tape. But it's again, it's just one piece of the puzzle. You have to go and try to evaluate the character. I would say today characterization is probably more difficult than the actual film evaluation of the player. How do you go about doing that?
It's challenging and it measures the good drafts in the bad press, ultimately just making sure that you really know the player aspect of scouting is to know more about the player before you get them, then after you get them. And so it's very difficult sometimes to do that because you're limited on how many times you can be on campus by the rules of the school eliminated. Who talks? He doesn't. Where are you getting information from? And so it's very, very, very difficult to get there.
So you just have to really work hard to become more diligent and become a more time consuming job than it was in the past.
What percentage of time would you say that you're surprised by the player coming in and it doesn't line up either positively or negatively with what you had assumed kind of predraft?
I think that's ongoing. I think what you can do that is a negative to a player not being what you wanted when you get on. But the positive is that helps you force you to evaluate your own system and see if you can get that back and a check and find out why we missed that. So it does serve a purpose if you use it as a purpose. But I think it's ongoing. I think it shifts constantly. Character evaluation is going to be an ongoing evaluation and it's going to continue to shift.
And putting them into a system, I would imagine has a big influence, especially coming in at a school.
Right. And then exposing them to more money, exposing the freedom, exposing them to responsibility. A lot of colleges are very good at making sure the players are taken care of in terms of their class schedules. And they have people that that a support staff to do their own professional athletes, the support staff isn't as large or isn't as available to them.
So you're more on your own in the NFL, I guess, than what's a job. It's a job and always hold your hand in college. You're a college student. You know, you have to go to class, you have an academic advisor, and you've got all sorts of different structures that are in place for you that can help you. That's a big adjustment for players, I would imagine.
So you've had the opportunity to work with Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, some amazing, amazing coaches, Hall of Fame coaches. What would you say is the common themes between them, the both the coaches and that mostly.
A philosophy offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, and they coached that way within the philosophy and they led the coaches to adhere to those philosophies, and that's what really separates them from everyone else that you can possibly see. They just didn't. And the coach was called plays, but he still had a hand in the defense to achieve what was a defense coordinator. But it was Bill's intellectual stimulation that challenged George to become the kind of coach you became.
So I think that that's the commonality between them, both head coaches that also understand both all three elements of the game, what it takes to win, and they both understand how to build an organization that adheres to that.
What is the role of the head coach? Is it more to instill a philosophy and allow autonomy in terms of those coaches, or is it more to push back or is it more authoritative or the styles vary, but what tends to work better?
I think there's a fine line on it. Coaches want to be able to do their job, but want to be able to hear to have whether their expectations within the job. And there's the fine line, you know, the head coach responsibility to make sure things are being done the way he wants them to be done. And so the gray area that always is constantly you go back and forth on because you get more comfortable as a head coach. You get more comfortable with people around you.
They kind of know what you want and they know and you know how they operate. And so that becomes a lot easier to deal with. Tony Dungy waters off its for so many years and he just becomes a comfort because I think people know what they want and it's very challenging. That's really interesting.
But I mean, I'm coming back to kind of what we talked about earlier about being exposed to new ideas and new thinking. And that comfort level probably doesn't necessarily encourage that.
But I think what happens is, you know, losses staggering in the NFL. And so when you spend time studying why you lost and what you need to do, that that forces you to get out of comfort and perhaps understand what it takes to win.
How do you go about doing that? I mean, that must be humbling in so many ways in a league full of egos, you know, and you have to be really critically honest with yourself.
And I think you have to understand that the mistakes you make, the field correct them, they're going to play chicken. And then you have to be really honest with that. And if you can and you correct them and grow and move on, it's what you hope for is they don't get you fired because ultimately in this league, you make mistakes, you don't get fired and you're going to go for them. But I think if you read people's book about this process to me, and I think a lot of it was attributed to self-analysis of what he felt like didn't happen correctly for what it was, it's a chance for New England.
So when he became the head coach at USC, I was very self-aware and not self-aware about him to build a program to actually commit a program. So if you're not against management yourself in that area, it's going to affect your leadership.
The environment plays a big role, too. I would imagine that an organization with the ability and confidence and those are the things that are very important and that allows you to develop your job, develop your craft and work at it.
Switching gears a little bit here, what would you say that you've learned from coaching and being in the NFL that you've applied to being a parent?
Well, I think the number one thing would be that, you know, coaching isn't a criticism. So you have to always convey to your children that you're trying to help them. And that criticism and that's a fine balance, whether it's coaching players, whether it's talking to your children, your criticism is really in coaching. You're not being critical of them as people. You can break down that barrier where they'll take information and knowing that your goals, your objectives are pure for their own success, have much more success with your players and with your children.
So there's three questions I usually ask at the end of these interviews, and we'll go from there to what book has most influenced your thinking?
You know, different parts of your life are always changed by what you read. You know, as you grow and you adapt your life, I think you learn more about yourself and about what you need to improve on about other people. And so I would say Life and Times of our Escape by Evan Thomas is one of the books that I think, you know, when you learn about the struggles, the overcoming, that kind of thing, I think those are great when pride still mattered, like David Maraniss with really a book about Vince Lombardi.
And those books are really influential. You know, early in my career, I think anything you get your hands on, Frank, the Ford story about Bob Knight in Sports Illustrated, which was a run rather go on. It was an interesting analysis of the man who he was and what he was trying to stop. I think those are impactful in your life.
That just spurred kind of another question. You kind of mentioned that books are contextual with where you're at in your life and how they influence you. How much of leadership do you think is contextual?
I think leadership is all about that. And I think principles don't change. You know, Bobby Kennedy used to tell his children around the dinner table that I do life with principles, not ambition. It's a great lesson for all of us to learn. I mean, I'm sure we've all made it. I know I have at times where ambition becomes better. And so when you are in a leadership position, you have to constantly remind yourself of the principles that you're leading.
And don't let the. Your life kind of take away from it. So do you think a lot of leadership can be taught then? I think you can be developed and I think there's a level where not everybody is going to be the greatest leader, but there's elements of leadership that need to be taught. So there's a difference between a manager and a leader. Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing. And so that fine line is always the balance.
That's essentially what leaders are. They do the right thing. Managers do things right. And so you can't teach people what the right thing is to do, but they can do it well, but they'll do what you tell them to do. I think that that's a great that's a really good distinction there.
What book is on your nightstand? I just in the middle of the Wright Brothers by David McCullough and enjoying it, you know, I mean, it's fascinating that their imagination and your curiosity to put something in the air with no real equipment and just a vision is really remarkable. I mean, the imagination it requires in a bicycle shop, owners take care of things, their drive, their ambition and their thought. I mean, you know, some of the part of the book where the French wanted to fly the plane and become partners with them and the Wright brothers were smart enough to realize that they weren't going to sell their their ideas out.
They were going to make sure that they held on to them and that they weren't looking for partners. They were looking for people that wanted to buy the plane as a partner is the story of how their willingness to allow them to succeed. It's a great lesson.
And last question. You know what I'm trying to accomplish with Farnam Street and the Knowledge Project? Who else do you think I should interview?
Well, if you could get to Bill Clinton, I think Bill Clinton's speech is something day about a myriad of subjects that every time he's on the television, you stop and you listen, you think, wow, you learned something. And for whatever he was explaining to you, or it's North Korea and then lunch program or whether it's Katie and his involvement in the Clinton initiative, I think once you get past the politics, listen to the core of the world he's teaching.
And I think those are valuable lessons that I think you could never forget the life of a writer. I think that John Irving, the Robert Katsaros, the people that go into the room every single day and spend time on a thousand words, how they craft those words, I think are powerful lessons for all of us that live a life about a process, not about a result. And I think if you can become a writer, it's still them.
As Robert Caro, who's only written four books, five books for about Lyndon Johnson, one of them about Robert Moses and how the diligent and work ethic, the continuous process in his 80s is remarkable. So I think any time you can get a writer on that, it's crazy to learn about that and how they go about their job. And, you know, any time you can find people out of how they work is always beneficial to me. And that's one of the reasons I read your site continuously.
The nonprofit I'm your host Shamberg.