Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People

Ginni Rometty: Reflections on a Career by the First Female CEO of IBM

Episode Summary

Join Guy Kawasaki on Remarkable People as he sits down with Ginni Rometty, the first woman to ever head IBM as its ninth Chairman, President, and CEO. Ginni's leadership transformed IBM into a $25 billion hybrid cloud business and established its leadership in quantum computing. Discover how she is positively impacting the world as the Co-Chair of OneTen, an organization working to upskill and promote one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. Listen to her journey from a challenging childhood to the CEO of IBM and learn how she leads positive change in her life, work, and world.

Episode Notes

In this episode of the Remarkable People podcast, Guy Kawasaki interviews Ginni Rometty, former CEO of IBM, to discuss her experiences and insights on leadership and innovation in the tech industry. The episode explores topics like workplace diversity, AI's future, and technology's role in addressing societal issues. Rometty's wisdom and experience inspire anyone interested in business and technology. From Childhood Challenges to CEO of IBM: Ginni Rometty's Story.

Remember to follow the show so you don't miss upcoming episodes!


00:16 to 02:08 - Intro
05:16 to 06:19 - How Ginni found her success through pivoting
27:25 to 28:58 - Recalling who you envisioned yourself from your past and how it shaped your present.
46:24 to 47:13 - Celebrate progress, not perfection + Teaser
1:08:02 to 1:09:07 - OUTRO

Guy Kawasaki is on a mission to make you remarkable. His Remarkable People podcast features interviews with remarkable people such as Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marc Benioff, Woz, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Bob Cialdini. Every episode will make you more remarkable.

With his decades of experience in Silicon Valley as a Venture Capitalist and advisor to the top entrepreneurs in the world, Guy’s questions come from a place of curiosity and passion for technology, start-ups, entrepreneurship, and marketing. If you love society and culture, documentaries, and business podcasts, take a second to follow Remarkable People.

Listeners of the Remarkable People podcast will learn from some of the most successful people in the world with practical tips and inspiring stories that will help you be more remarkable.

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Episode Transcription

Guy Kawasaki:

I'm Guy Kawasaki and this is Remarkable People. We're on a mission to make you remarkable. 

Helping me in this episode is Ginni Rometty. Ginni was the ninth chairman, president and CEO of IBM. Yes, IBM. She was the first woman to ever head the company. 

During her time there, IBM reinvented 50 percent of its portfolio, built a twenty-five billion dollars hybrid cloud business and established leadership in quantum computing. Another reason Ginni is remarkable is because she supported the growth of an innovative high school program that prepares the workforce of the future. 

She is currently the co-chair of OneTen, an organization that works with US companies to upskill, hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next ten years into family sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. 

Ginni was named Fortune's number one Most Powerful Woman three years in a row. She was also named one of the Fifty Most Influential People in the World by Bloomberg.

Ginni attended Northwestern University on a scholarship from General Motors, and obtained her bachelor's degree with high honors in computer science and electrical engineering. 

She has a new book out called Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work and World

It chronicles her groundbreaking path from living a challenging childhood to becoming the CEO of IBM. I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. And now here is the remarkable Ginni Rometty. 

I'm going to start you with an easy one. Ready?

Ginni Rometty:

I'm ready.

Guy Kawasaki:

Do you think that Jacinda Ardern's resignation helps or hurts women who aspire to positions of power?

Ginni Rometty:

I've thought about that a lot and actually one of the things she said I think was quite instructive for men or women because what she said was, "I don't know that I have the energy for this for another term." 

So I think that's both authentically honest and it's a tip to how hard these jobs are right now. And to have the courage to say, "Look, I've given it my all and I think it's time for someone else to step in," is a very honest answer. So I don't look at it that way, but there may be others who do because I'm afraid we still are in those times.

I can remember when I was appointed as CEO, some of the headlines were all about being a woman and some pieces were written that said, "Her success or failure will signal something for the entire gender there." 

So that is a burden on her. But I took it as an honest, authentic answer. She certainly had a very difficult period and many things to contend with and a young family too. I think that's right. And I don't view it as hurting things, but I'm viewing it through my lens.

Guy Kawasaki:

Maybe she'll have time to come on my podcast now.

Ginni Rometty:

She might now.

Guy Kawasaki:

I've been trying to get her for the longest time. I would make the case, Ginni, that if someone says, "Oh, this just shows that women can't tough it out," et cetera, et cetera, it says more about the person saying it than it does about saying anything about Jacinda.

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah, I thought it was a very clear statement of she had values and where she felt they were at that point in her life, which I think is not weakness.

Guy Kawasaki:

Now, backing up, it just boggles me how anybody becomes the CEO, male or female, of IBM. That just is climbing to Mount Everest in the middle of the night. 

So can you just give us the gist of what it takes to rise to the pinnacle of being the CEO of IBM?

Ginni Rometty:

I never started by saying or thinking I would be the CEO of IBM. So I think that's somewhat instructive. I never stood at the base of Mount Everest at the beginning and said, "Oh, that's where I'm going." 

I viewed taking one step in front of the other as I went on. I think that's still true today for everyone. I always said, "Take your job, do it the best you can, learn as much as you can, and that's your gateway to another job." Some people may say that's naive. In a company that has got really deep values and steeped in meritocracy, that's not a crazy thing. You just put your head down. And of course, there are politics and other things in any firm, but for the most part.

So how do you get there? On one hand, you just do the current thing you're in better. But in honesty, now when I reflect back, the other way you get there, I did a lot of really hard things. Really hard and took a lot of pivots. So in other words, I was going one direction, then I pivoted another direction, then pivoted another direction. 

So I think between the degree of difficulty in a sports analogy and pivoting between, that's got a lot to do with it because by the time you're in a position to run something like IBM, you've not only experienced many parts of a business, you've been through a lot of economic cycles within the business. So you've seen ups, you've seen downs, and so all those kind of add in.

But honestly, Guy, I say to a lot of people, "Look, I was trained to fly a 747. I probably could not do a little airplane, but the big 747s got lots of gears, it's got lot of visuals, displays, there's a copilot, there's a crew behind you, and when you're in a little plane by yourself, that's a different game. So I don't think one is easier or harder, they're just different."

Guy Kawasaki:

I'm going to digress a little, and I want to just find out two things. So when you say that Grand Trunk let you in with Mark on a Sunday to access their PC, my mind immediately went to, you're telling me they let another company's person just have free reign in their data just like that? 

It was a different time. But is that true? They just let you in and said, "Ginni, have at it," on Sunday?

Ginni Rometty:

Oh, you're talking to about one of the stories in my book of where I kind of learned a lot of things. They said, "Hands on. Go do it." Now, this is the late seventies, early eighties. What they did do, this was a PC that was not yet in production and there were test files on it. 

Yes, they did let me in their office. It wasn't as if I could have rummaged through everything else that was there, but I didn't do that. Obviously I did what I was there to do, but it was a different time and space and it just reminds you of how much riskier and secure and how much more advanced the world has come in a few decades. 

But in fairness, not a production PC and not a live data set. I worked on clones of things. I couldn't hurt too much.

Guy Kawasaki:

And plus Mark could watch football the whole time, right?

Ginni Rometty:

Yes, yes.

Guy Kawasaki:

So he was busy.

Ginni Rometty:

It's both an interesting statement of how to learn that even at early age, and I still believe in this even more today, that people learn hands-on apprentice, experiential. It's the best way. And at the same time, it's a statement about my husband who I've now been married to for forty-three years. 

Even at that early point, he was like, "A Sunday in a city and it's empty. You're not going to go alone." Now I'm not going to help you do what you're going to do, but I will go down there and when I say he sat there and watched television, this was when a Sony television was probably the size of a brick, and the TV screen was about one inch by one inch. Right? 

Most people will never even remember these things, and he sat there with that thing while I just worked away for hours upon hours. So it was the beginning of many hours he would spend supporting me without complaining.

Guy Kawasaki:

So during the integration of PWCC, I'm going to go read a quote and the quote is, "If you can't get this turned around, you're no longer welcome as a member of the family." 

So I take it that's an IBM executive saying that to you.

Ginni Rometty:

Yes. Another IBM person saying that to me. Right.

Guy Kawasaki:

And when you became CEO, what happened to that person?

Ginni Rometty:

They had changed their ways and I am careful because I'm not a name and blame kind of person at all, and I always view the way forward. And to me often if you have nothing good to say, you don't say it kind of thing. 

But there was a really big lesson in that and Guy, you're quoting a piece of the book where I'm talking about how to build belief as a principle, right? When you're going to do something. 

And I want to step back. The book Good Power is about doing really hard things but do them in a positive way. 

And in my head, again, in retrospect from what I learned from a lot of people was there's always tensions. I think that's really true today.

In this world, there is no clear answer to a lot of things. There's a plus and a minus, a short term and a long term. You're hurting one group and helping another group. There's always this tension that you should embrace, but do it respectfully. 

And this is a story about respect, and celebrate progress, but it is really about respect because I think you can do really hard things, but you can do them in a very respectful way. It doesn't require yelling, bullying. Again, that story as it goes on to say, I can remember after letting it sink into me and I was doing something, it was just super, super hard.

And once I got that emotion out, yes, there was truth in what the issue was and I focused on that. There's a lesson. We all have critics and critics cannot define you. I listened for what might be true, but then I got to discard the rest of it. 

Now, for me it was a lesson in not to treat people that way. And that's where you read in the book sometimes people say, "I had a velvet hammer." It didn't mean don't be direct or critical, but you can do that in a way that lands more constructively for people. 

Now I went through that and I learned a lot from it and I learned things I didn't want to do as a result of it.

Guy Kawasaki:

Do you still think that women are judged more harshly in these corporate settings?

Ginni Rometty:

Guy, do you think that? Let me ask you that first and I'll tell you why I'm going to ask you that.

Guy Kawasaki:

Do I think that?

Ginni Rometty:

You've interviewed 175 people. What do you think?

Guy Kawasaki:

Absolutely, positively without an ounce of doubt, women are judged more harshly.

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. It's very interesting because as I wrote the book and got a lot of input as I was writing, there was one angle about me being a woman in the book and I want to bookend sort of two things to answer that question. Maybe three. 

It is amazing to me back in time, way back, and again, I will answer it directly. I'll tell a story. Because when I was named, I did not want to be known as a woman. Even all through my career, I would always say, "Hey, just notice what I do." 

And I'd given a big presentation down in Australia, a man comes up to me and I'm thinking he's going to really ask me some details about my theories. And he says to me, "I wish my daughter had seen you." And in that moment, now this is back in the eighties, I say to myself, "Look, I can profess I don't want to be a role model. Recognize me for my work."

But the fact is it's an obligation. I have now gotten to this position and whether I like it or not, I am a role model and I could either have shun it or embrace it and I then began to embrace it. 

So this is the eighties now and I want to fast forward to now the book, and I've talked to some of my colleagues. It is interesting to me to listen when I've told people about the book, sometimes, even from my men friends, "I can't wait for my daughter to read it." I said, "Really? How about you?" "I want to buy these for my women in the company." "Oh really? What makes you think it's just for women?" 

And that's a span of forty years in between. And as much as I'd like to believe there isn't a difference, there is. Now I think in some ways it made me better because I realized, "Hey, every time I said something, somebody is going to remember it." So this is what led to this cycle of me always preparing.

And I ended up better for it, by the way, because I'd be remembered. The other side, and one of my friends said to me at one point, and they were talking about media and this and that and said, "Do you realize often a company a woman's running, it's like she did this and her name and when it's downside of another, sometimes it's a man and it's the company's name."

And I really do believe it. I said, "Look, like it or not, because there are so few of us, I do think what we do is magnified and personified often." So that is true today. Now as much as I would've thought forty years later, it's still a fact that there is this, what do you call it? 

More critical, whatever, whether it's because you're one of whatever. And I think there are other groups of people who could say the same thing. So hopefully by reading the book, I'm trying to both touch on that at many different times in the book that I'm cognizant, yes, I am a woman in a particularly male dominated industry as well.

Guy Kawasaki:

What's your advice to a woman listening to this who believes she is being judged more harshly? What's she supposed to do?

Ginni Rometty:

First off, I always say don't let anyone else define who you are. Only you do. And sometimes when that has happened to me, I worked with a great actually general counsel who would say to me, "Ginni, remember who the crazy one is and it's not you." When it happens, confront it. 

So discount it, confront it, like the story you opened up or a little chat with about when I was told some things, I could go confront those things. I could go confront the person. In fact, I would learn to run towards that conflict over time that I would learn, "Hey, if I thought this was not fair, I went and said something." And more often than not, it would stop and hopefully learn a lesson.

But I would even back up further for a lot of women in that I mentioned earlier, why did I study so much? Why do I believe in this lifelong learning for everyone? In some ways, for me it was a confidence point. So the more I knew, the more confident I could be. 

So that's one thing I recommend. The proactive side of this, why did I go into engineering? Because I practice as an engineer, I did as a computer science engineer for a long time, but it was more because I like to solve problems. And I even try to tell women today more and more, please go into the STEM fields. If you don't want to be an engineer, super. 

But what it does teach you is how to take really complex problems and break them into pieces and solve them. And no matter what you want to do in life, I guarantee that'll be a characteristic of it. So there's merit to that.

So on one hand, I say to women the kind of things to fortify yourself in that environment. And then the other, I would say if you're in that kind of environment, I would actually say something and take it head on. That takes courage, by the way. And I didn't always do it, but you'd be surprised more often or not it changes.

Guy Kawasaki:

But a skeptic might counter that Ginni and say, "Yeah, in IBM you should confront it, but not in the company I'm in."

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. Okay, that that's a fair point, Guy. And I am very cognizant. And in fact, I say this a few times, I was really lucky to have worked in companies that have really deeply rooted values. So like you say, in IBM. Even its predecessor companies hired as first Black employee and woman in 1899. 

We had equal opportunity way before a civil rights amendment or anything like that. I am steeped. When I was growing up in the company, I'd get graded on if my people had development plans and if I had at the time what would've been a diverse team. Did I have minorities? 

Would've been the word. This is four years ago. To me it's normal. So I actually understand that. My point on that is you choose where you work and there are a lot of companies that have steeped values and in fact younger companies, I think it's something to not skip over. It's like a tree with roots because when the wind blows, when your roots are shallow, you flop one way or another.

Versus to me, in this world particularly with so much conflict in things, like I said, tensions, value-based decisions are really super important. And you get taught that early in your life. I had a manager my very first time I was a manager and I came to him and I said, "Hey, some people are complaining. I have this top performer and he's telling bad jokes, very derogatory, misogynistic jokes, what should I do?" 

And he was unequivocal and he said, "You tell him once and then you fire him. I don't care who he is." And just that boom, boom, that's what you do in these situations gets ingrained in you about what is appropriate and what is values based. That to me was a beginning of many values based decisions you would make over time. And it would lead to when I was CEO, how I would interact with government no matter what.

So what I would say to someone like that is if you really work for a company that you don't agree with its values, I believe you should leave. That's what I would say. Because we do get to pick and we're not prisoners, we're not victims. We can move, hopefully, and I realize not everybody's in the same position, but hopefully you can then move somewhere that doesn't. I think more and more people do want to work for companies that have pretty rooted values because it's never what you say. It's what you do that matters.

Guy Kawasaki:

The gospel.

Ginni Rometty:

Oh God, I'm not trying to preach to you at all. Those were hard learned lessons.

Guy Kawasaki:

Okay. When Fred offered you that position in charge of global insurance, you didn't use the phrase, but I think you experienced the imposter syndrome.

Ginni Rometty:

That's interesting, Guy.

Guy Kawasaki:

What's your advice to women to get over the imposter syndrome?

Ginni Rometty:

That's very interesting. Actually it's one of the most important milestones of my personal self-reflection of my career. And I was already perhaps ten to fifteen years into a career and I worked for Fred, as you mentioned, and he was going to get a new job and he said to me, "I thought you should get my job." 

And I was like, "Whoa, I am not ready for it." Now until you've said this. I never thought about that as imposter syndrome, by the way. So this is a good way for me to think of it. And I said to Fred, I'm like, "Fred, hey, I am not ready. I've run half your business, not all of it. Give me a couple more years and then I could do a good job." 

And he thought it was crazy. And he said, "Look, go to the interview," which I went to the interview and the person offers me the job and I say to him, "I want to go talk to my husband."

He looks at me. I kind of remembered a little bit of a pause. I go home, I talk to my husband and he sits there patiently like always with me and he is just shaking his head. And he knows many of the people I work with. 

And he says, "Do you think a man would've answered it that way?" And I'm like, "No." I got it. And he said, "Ginni, I know you. You're going to be bored in six months saying you've already learned everything, time to go." He's like, "I don't understand why you would react that way." 

And what it crystallized is a phrase, I think I'm pretty almost famous for it because I go, "Growth and comfort never coexist.” And I learned even if I was nervous inside, I did not have to always show that. That was actually a really natural feeling.

And I'm telling you, Guy, I've gone around the world, how many women feel... It is more women than men. I have to say this. It doesn't mean there aren't some men, but more women than men will exactly agree with this feeling in that they're so harsh. And there are studies, you've seen them, that say when asked about a job, a woman will tell you eight things she can't do. 

A man will tell you eight he can do as an example. This is not me making that up. So I use it as an example from many women to say, "Hey, look, recognize it's in there. And it's doesn't mean you have to tell everyone." I learned to not always articulate that then because actually Fred said to me, "Ginni, don't do that again." 

And I understood what he was saying, but it made it so much easier for me to take on risk as time went on because I'd say to myself, I am going to learn a lot. The more I feel nervous, the more I'm going to learn."

And as time would go on, even whether it was clients, I would look for these situations because I'm like, "Whoa." Or I'd say, "Oh my God, I have not been nervous in a long time. I got to do something else. This is not good. I'm not learning anything." 

Never thought of it as imposter syndrome. And I guess that is it because you're kind of like, "I can't do that. I don't belong in that circle." And yet you do when you took stock of what you had. Nobody has perfect credentials for a job. I think nobody does when they go to their next job. 

By the way, I think it's true for countries, companies. Look at our country. In order to get better, you got to go through these phases. And I was just texting with my little nephew last night away at school and he was telling me about how uncomfortable he is. And I'm like, "You are going to grow out of this experience, all that discomfort." 

Now I actually feel good about it, and it's funny how it changes your disposition.

Guy Kawasaki:

The long and the short of it is you have become Baba.

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. The only thing better is I could work on a farm. Yes, yes. Yeah, that is really something. My great grandma who did not speak any English, came here from Russia and she was a cleaning lady. 

And thank God, because when my father abandoned our family, left us with nothing and no money, food stamps on financial aid. It would really be the money she had saved as a cleaning woman working the night shift that would help my mother buy a house. 

It's just an incredible story about hard work, she and my grandmother, I always say I come from this hard stock and all women that all had tragedies in their lives, but it did teach my brothers and sisters and I this idea, you asked about earlier, that hard work pays off.

Now you may or may not agree with that, Guy, I don't know. But it is so ingrained in me that hard work is associated with moving forward that I even sometimes feel guilty if I haven't worked hard on something and it works out. I think, "Oh, that was just lucky." 

Because hard work is what yields a positive outcome. And it didn't matter what they did. When my grandma whose first husband died when he was very young, her second husband dies again, this is back in the forties, fifties, he had a lamp store and she was hand sewing lampshades. 

She taught me how to sew and when I couldn't afford clothes, we sewed them together, but didn't even think twice about it. It was like you just have to keep moving forward. You find a way to exist and you find a way to earn money and you find a way to still be happy. I think that's what I saw from my great-grandma, my grandma and my mom.

And they would all have a tragedy for different reasons, but all three viewed, "Hey, I'm not a victim. I am going to go forward." They never said these words. This is what I believe. My brothers and sisters are very successful. 

No one would ever think we would come from that to this. And I think that's from just watching that idea, that it doesn't matter. There's always a way forward and that you can find it in some way to at least take a step forward.

Guy Kawasaki:

You opened the door here, so I'm going to walk right through it.

Ginni Rometty:

Oh, go ahead.

Guy Kawasaki:

I have to say that this is probably the only business book I have ever read where the opening chapter is about your father abandoning your family. And this is a bizarre question, but what might the arc of your life have been? And also not just your life, but Joe's, Annette's and Darlene's life. 

What would the arc of your lives have been if your father stuck around and was supportive and the whole thing? In a sense, he created a very challenging situation for all four of you that you pushed past and became what you are.

Ginni Rometty:


Guy Kawasaki:

Now this is not a recommendation that men abandon their families in order to optimize their kids.

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah, I'd be curious your view of all the people you've interviewed because I just happened to be with a big group the other day and the question was, "Can you succeed without adversity?" And half the group said no. And half the group said yes. And there was a discussion about people who said, "Look, I'm really concerned. My children have never really had a hard time." 

And I even remember when I wrote my college application at the time, again back in the mid-seventies, I even wrote about that I really don't feel bad that out of this tragedy it taught me. It didn't diminish me. It made me stronger. 

There are days I've said, "Look, in the end, he really did us a favor in how we each internalized it differently and were able to move forward." And at the moment it was, my goodness, I can't say that was good for my poor mother.

You have to go back in time to the seventies. And here she's in her early thirties with four children, no money, nothing past high school, never worked outside the home and he's left with nothing. 

While we never saw her cry, I was there. He didn't know I was there. I walked into the garage. She was telling him how much she needed money and he said, "I really don't care what happens to you or to any of you. You could work in the street." And in that moment, to me, that closed a door. And I can remember just thinking, "God, my poor mother." 

And now we never, like I said, saw her cried. I know she would confide in her sister at times and the door would be closed. But she gradually then got back up and took some courses at community college, got a little more to get a better job, a little better.

First it was just like doing credit card approvals third shift and then in an office, et cetera. She eventually ended up with a very good job twenty-five years at a hospital as the administrator for a sleep clinic. But I only go past and say all that, that in the end, I think my mom would say she was probably better off too. 

She would also say, "I don't know what I did to make you kids like this." And she did everything. I think there are many people like me that have had this kind of experience in some way with something of their family and that adversity to watch someone push through it. It also teaches you. 

I always say the biggest thing I learned from my mom, she was not going to let him define who she was. That was it. She was not a victim. She was not a divorcee. She was not unemployed. She was not on financial aid. No way.

It's another one of those that I take with me pretty far because I had to learn and there would be times that would get away from me. Only I could define who I was and then I would learn, "Hey, if I didn't define the company, other people would." 

It would come back over and over again over time and back to what would've happened otherwise. I don't know. Every one of us has a strength of our environment, but I think it talks so much about things like I watched my mom. Aptitude and access. 

Early in my life, I concluded those are two different things. My mom wasn't dumb, she just didn't have access to a lot of things. This permeates my whole life from that forward. It's what I do today. I'm working on OneTen, which is about putting people without college degrees into upwardly mobile middle class jobs because their jobs are over credentialed.

I'm like, "These people just didn't get access. They have aptitude." I've proven that after working on this a decade. Brains are distributed evenly by zip code around the world. So I think would I have believed that if I hadn't gone through that? Maybe I wouldn't. I know you said it's the first business book you read like that, the first piece, the first part of how it starts, it's called The Power of Me

I would tell so many people, and this was hard for me to do and write, but to sit back... And I think there's a line I wrote about, “Who do you see when you close your eyes?” When you think back to your early life, who do you see when you close your eyes? And if you do it a little while, you'll think of these people and you'll think of these roots, I think, of who you are today started way back then.

Guy Kawasaki:

Did you ever reconcile with your father?

Ginni Rometty:

I did not. I just watched too many things continue to happen. However, I did see him before he died. My sisters asked me to go with them and I went with them and they needed me and I went for them. 

So in my mind, I owed so much more to so many other people. 

So it wasn't as if I harbored anger to this day or anything like that. I had just moved on is how I would describe it. But I wished him no ill will. And in those moments, I did go there at the end.

Guy Kawasaki:

So switching gears, you discuss stakeholders as opposed to shareholders. With your hindsight, I'd like to know what you think the purpose of a company is. 

Is it to optimize for customers, shareholders, employees? What are we talking about when you say a company exists in order to do what?

Ginni Rometty:

So Guy, I think you actually know the answer to this question and in your heart from having read your books too. I think society gives a company the license to operate in the end of the day. And that only happens if over time you do the right thing by any number of stakeholders of which shareholders are an important one. 

So I don't find this as a big revelation. In other words, you got to do the right thing for customers, for your employees, for your shareholders, for your communities you're in. At any one point in time, something can be out of balance for sure because you can never get a win-win always across all of that. So over a long arc of time is what I mean. You do this balance. That's like a virtuous circle that you go around.

Because there was a lot of discussion about this when the business round table reissued a statement on the purpose of the corporation. And it basically said what I said, that you have multiple stakeholders. So some people call it stakeholder economy, stakeholder capitalism out there. 

But to many of us, especially companies that had longevity to them they were like, "I think this is how I do operate. At least I sure try on those days. And if I don't have profit, I can't even do these other things. So I have to always be one step forward, one step back, two forward." 

So when I say stakeholder, it's because I believe it's a really important point. I do see companies that don't quite understand. So we published it so hopefully everybody could raise their vote, as they say, the level all people could aspire and all companies and some of us can keep aspiring to do it better, which we should. And it's really about values at the end of the day.

By the way, some of these are really hard things because you will make decisions that will impact one of those in a negative way at any one point in time. But it is the collective set of your actions. Just like I've had someone say to me, I do a lot of work around this topic of skills and that you should hire people not just for their degree but their skills. 

I've had people in the media say to me, "You should just be focused on shareholder. Why are you focused on this?" And I said, "Don't you understand? I need good employees." 

So this is also in my interest. I mean I live at this intersection of business and society and I've just seen that play out a million times because if I can then get good employees, A, that's good. B, if society, particularly in this era, if everyone thinks this technology is going to really ruin their job, this is not good. We end up with a really fractured set of socioeconomic world we live in. People have knots.

This is a bad place this goes. For business as well if that happens. And already we see the roots of all this. So to me, they're all connected. People would say that about the environment today too. 

I can remember this, Guy. I'm in an investor meeting and we happen to bring along our environment report. 

I was sitting there, and it might have been our thirty-fifth. I didn't even think about that as being weird. It is apparently the longest distribution of any environment report of any company. We were doing it back... It's not my brilliance. It was my people. Way, way, way generations before me leading the company who said, "Oh, we better care about this at the same time, if we're going to be here for a hundred years."

We could get into long discussion on this that you also steer for the long term and manage the upsides and the downsides. So that's what stakeholder capitalism and why I'm so firm on it and I am mystified by the things I see written against it. 

As I say, when you write, you can write in black and white. Where I have to live, it's gray and no decision is ever clear like that.

Guy Kawasaki:

Now what if your nieces or nephews ask you as they're about to interview, "How can I tell from the outside looking in that a company has taken the higher road?" Because every company says we believe in diversity, self-actualization, good for the environment. Everybody says that. So how do you tell?

Ginni Rometty:

Look, I think a long time ago, that would be hard because people could say and do different things. I think today there's an awful lot of democratization of information out there. Not all right by the way, but you can do some of your own analysis. So you got to look for the arc of the direction of things. 

And I think there's enough external evidence. And even now with everyone producing data around these things as well, my diversity numbers, promotion numbers, equity of pay, et cetera, I think there's enough signals that you can begin to see it. 

And if anything, it's just talking to people that work there, which many people do. I don't think it's as hard as it used to be to find the answer to that.

Guy Kawasaki:

So next question your niece or nephew says is, "How do I achieve work-life balance?" And let me give you a hint before I let you answer this. I don't want to prejudice your answer, but personally I believe work-life balance is a myth. I'll just leave it at that. So now, your niece or nephew asks you work-life balance.

Ginni Rometty:

All right. I would tell them... You probably won't like my answer then, but that maybe doesn't matter. I came to find every individual defines that differently. I like to work. So when people say, "Oh my god, you work all the time." I do it because I like it. 

So you do not have to do what I do. This is my choice. The companion to that is I also learned that if I was waiting for somebody else to draw boundaries for me, no way was that going to happen. And if you want to almost think a moment that way as an innate object, they will take all I could give. I've never had a boss or a company that if I wanted to work twenty-four-seven said... Actually, I had one boss, "Please slow down. I see the wear and tear." But that was one out of a gazillion.

What I would tell them in short is, "Hey, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you have to be the one to set the boundaries." And can you do that? Now again, I worked for companies where I could say, "Look, I'm not going to do this, or I'm going to make time for this." I had to have some power to say those things. And at first I thought, "Oh no, what's the ramification of this?" 

And let me tell you, I learned 95 percent of the time, no ramification. Meaning either positive, understand, "Oh, it wasn't that important anyways, can be done. No problem." Just had this conversation with someone the other day who had an interview for a position they wanted to go to, but it was on exactly the day their child was doing something very important and the person was really hemming and hawing. 

I said, "No, this is crazy. This is crazy." I said, "You tell them you can't do it on that day." And, "Oh, I don't know, I shouldn't." In the end she did. And the company said, "Oh, no problem. Let me give you two more other dates."

I said, "You almost sacrificed this." And again, this becomes easier as time goes on. I'm not under an illusion about that. But I was still pretty early in my career when I finally realized because of the toll it was taking on me. 

May I make one other point about this I think is really important? Part of your own resilience isn't just work-life balance from the book. I write quite a bit about resilience, how to withstand critics and all. And it comes from relationships and your attitude. But relationships do take some time. It's not quantity but it's quality of time you have to give them. 

And it is about what you give, not what you take from people. You have to decide that's important. And in the end, it isn't that it's unrelated to your work because you're going to do a better job at work. That's the other thing I tried to say. I have to learn that if I was refreshed, I would actually be more productive. I would have this discussion guy with my husband all the time.

He would say to me, "If you can't do your job in eight hours a day, you just are not very productive." No, he's joking with me because I would work way more, but there is some merit to this point of, wait a second, I can tell I need rest in order to be productive or I need to have some diversions. 

I need to do other things. Do you feel that way? It made me better at the end of the day when I put some, you could call it balance, but I put some variety into my life. 

What would you say to it when people say it? I can agree there it is a myth. Forget about it. 

No one's going to give it to you, but you can create whatever sort of compartments you want. Let's put it that way. How would you answer your own question?

Guy Kawasaki:

The message I took from your book is that at different stages in your career you have different priorities. As I read your book, the first stage of your career, you weren't exactly trying to achieve work-life balance. It was just work, work, work. And people may find this very interesting, but I love this discussion where Mark said, "Yeah, let's agree that we see each other at least once every two weeks." A millennial probably is not having that discussion today.

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. But there's an interesting twist to that lesson. And I agree, some things have changed. But I was already traveling a lot for work when Mark said that to me. Now why was I traveling? Thank God IBM gave me the option instead of moving, I traveled. 

Now what did that allow Mark to do? He kept his job, he kept his friends, he staying with family, he's had stability. So there was a benefit to that. Every family makes that decision. But to me, we thought our way through and he's like, "We can do this. I can stay here. You could travel. 

But let's just every two weeks." And we stuck to that. Look, marriages, they're a hard thing but it takes two people to work at it. So being forty-three years married, as I said, we're probably in a small number of percentages out there, but obviously well worth it. But it just takes that effort. Any relationship takes that effort.

Guy Kawasaki:

Let's switch to your current life now. So let's talk about skills first. Do you think that it is a fix for the lack of college access for some people until there is college access, or is it a permanent part and style of education?

Ginni Rometty:

The latter. And I've come to believe that, some for practical reasons, but some are also philosophical reasons. And if I might, a couple quick stories. One, I already shared about me realizing with my mother that access and aptitude weren't equal. I would fast forward in time when I needed cyber professionals. Just circumstance. It was early 2012. 

Unemployment is almost 8 percent to 10 percent in the country. I can't find anybody to hire. I think isn't that odd? Here we got unemployment, yet I can't find people and they don't have the skill. Complete serendipity. I walk into a meeting which is at that time corporate social responsibility and they're reviewing it with me. 

There's one fledgling school in a very low income area in Brooklyn, and we've worked with a community college and this high school. We give them some tips on the curriculum and we offer mentors electronically and we give these kids internships and in parallel they do what they call dual enroll, which can happen in many schools around the world where you're getting your high school degree and a community college associate degree at the same time.

Some states and countries will even do it for free. And we said, "If we have an opening, you can have a chance in the line here for the job, but no promise." I walk in and we start hiring some of these kids and honestly I'm like “This is not CSR.” I feel like I have stumbled upon a new pool of talent. 

And by the way, 90 percent were Black because these were all in these particular neighborhoods we had started in and it would take me down a path they were called Pathway to Technology early college high school. So they were around technology, they were in a current high school, way better performance. 400x the graduation rate. 

Then of course I have a company of all engineers who say, "Are you dumbing down the company? Because we're bringing in people that don't have college and PhDs." We do a lot of data gathering over the years and we find, "You know what? After about a year, same performance as our college grads. Oh look at this. They're taking more courses because they're thirsty. They want to keep learning. More loyal, more retentive."

Eventually it takes me down a decade of work that we would re-look at every job credential and we would find that 50 percent of our jobs did not need to start particularly in tech with a college degree. I didn't say we had to have one to maybe finish but not to start. I say to myself, "Wow, this is a pool." And I said "This is not CSR. This is a talent strategy." 

And then it would merge with when I have got a company as the industry's accelerated and actually two of ten people have skills for the future, I got to move everybody up with their skills. And I start to say to myself, "This isn't just about a diverse pool. Wouldn't it be great if everyone got promoted for their skills and paid for their skills in a skills first world?" It's a culture. It is a culture and technology's changing so fast.

Hey, you might need to do skill every three to five years. So I would then, as we're feverishly trying to catch up on things like cloud, I'm hiring external people, I start to watch this other thing I learn. The people I hire experts from outside, some do great, but some, they like break mission critical apps we work on and I say, "What's the difference?" 

And I watch current IBM people who some they learn all these new things. I say, "There's only one common denominator between these two groups of people. The ones that succeed are the ones willing to learn something." Who don't just say, "No, I know how to do something. I don't need to learn too much more." 

So it took me down this path of what started... Again, I realize access and aptitude don't go together.

Then I start to say, "Whoa, I got new pools of talent in a talent war that's out there." Then I say, "Whoa, we're entering a world where now I've got mid-career people." Technology's starting to leave people behind. So now there's mid-career, longer-term people that all need new jobs. 

Everybody's going to have to have this learning. And then I say, "I better change how I hire for propensity to learn even." To me, this is the number one reason I'd hire someone is their willingness to learn. It is the number one reason. When you say what got you there, I add those things up together and back to college degrees. 

I do circle back, I did listen to your question. Back to your original question.

So here's a fact and I didn't realize all developed countries, 60-65 percent of people do not have a university degree. In America, then happens George Floyd. Circa 80 percent between like twenty-four and thirty-five Black Americans do not have a college degree. All right. 

This is not mathematically solvable because I happen to believe economic opportunity is the best way to equalize. I think you do too by the way, from what I read, giving people the ability to have a way forward, feed of family of four, have a good life. So I come to believe it's not required. 

And again, I am vice chairman at Northwestern University, one of the most esteemed universities in this country. So it isn't that I do not agree. As a colleague from MIT said, "It's just a myth that it should be college for everyone, but everyone could eventually have the chance."

But boy, if we try to wait until that's the only answer, we'll have a very fractured country. And this is not true just in America, around the world. Because when people don't see a better future, they do things like riot and other things around here. 

So I felt very strongly. Oh, you can tell. I'm almost giving a sermon here. I feel very strongly about skills first as a culture and that's why the firm with a group of my colleagues in response to George Floyd at the time, Ken Frazier who ran Merck, said something I think profound. He said, "Look, we should do what businesses do best. We got to create employment." 

And I was the how to that vision meaning wait, skills first. It doesn't mean hire people with no skill. We got to get people these skills, but they can get some good skills for these kinds of jobs. I got to get all these companies who now many have joined and have done great work to credential their jobs, meaning go back and take a hard look.

If you wrote a skill and not a degree because it became a really simple way to ferret out resumes when it means, "No, no, no, HR, your job is to build people's skills, not buy them." 

So it just changes so much. And therefore, long answer to your question is that I really believe that it is a good thing particularly in a time of transition with technology in the world right now to move to a skills first world. 

And it does not mean that people should not get college degrees. That is absolutely still on the menu, but it doesn't have to be the only pathway. There are other pathways. 

By the way, my other experience was so many of the kids that they were kids coming through these pathway to technology, early college high schools, there are 300 in the world now, 150,000 pipeline of people coming through, many who went on to get their college degrees. I'm like, "Wait, I want to hire them." They're like, "No, they went to a four year university."

So I'm like, "That wouldn't have even been on their menu before." So it's been a little bit of both, but it's the reason so much could be fixed. Back to Good Power is to do and celebrate progress, not perfection. Perfection would be wait for everybody to get a college degree. No, no, no. We could do so much together by not waiting and we would make a heck of a lot of progress for the country.

Guy Kawasaki:

Would you say that the goal of the skills first philosophy is not that Tony can go from the cafeteria to become an engineer and then be able to enable his children to go to college. If his children don't go to college either, that's neither here -

Ginni Rometty:

I would say that the goal of skills is for everyone to realize they have to have a market competitive skill and that college is not the only pathway to it. That would be the goal. Because by the way, there are great trades jobs. You can absolutely have a very good career for a family in a trades job that was out there. Our country at the heel of the GI Bill and things like that, if I to speak just to America, you have listeners from everywhere, but in America it became college or bust. 

And your family immigrated over college would be perhaps the answer here. And if you didn't go to college, that's a mistake.

Yet you go to other countries as I think you well know, Switzerland, Germany, there is quite a focus on vocational schools as well. Germany, as I recall, has nineteen times apprenticeships versus America. Crazy apprenticeships are probably our most untapped pathway out there that could make so many people convert from one career to another, earn while they learn. 

Because once you're a mid-career, you have obligations. It is very hard to stand still and say, "Oh, let me just go back to school full-time." You need earn and learn. And even Canada has eleven times the US in apprenticeships. So there are ways. That's my message is about pathways, that there are multiple pathways, on ramps, so that where you start does not have to determine where you end.

Guy Kawasaki:

I know the answer to this question, but I'm going to let you explain it first. So what is the OneTen?

Ginni Rometty:

I had already prepared, my successor had already announced my retirement, and I had worked on skills first as an initiative for quite some time at this point. Again, it started first as an IBM thing, then a broader business community thing, then around the world. 

The notion, in fact, originally I called it new collar jobs, meaning not white collar, not blue collar. I was trying to take away a stigma. These were a set of jobs that could be done that were new mostly in technology kind of jobs that had a positive note to them. 

So I'd already announced I was going to be retiring, I was executive chairman helping with a lot of things. And in that period, as I mentioned, is when the death of George Floyd happened and businesses were all in an uproar of what to do. And as I said, our friend Ken Frazier, Ken Chenault, two of the most senior... Happened to be good friends of mine, Black leaders in the country said, "Wait, wait, let's do what business can do and hire."

And it's like a light bulb went on. These are my friends, and I'm thinking good vision, skills first is the only way this is going to work. If we can now get all of our colleagues and companies to move to recredential jobs, move to skills first, start to pivot their whole culture that way, and we could go work with all of what I would call talent developers to pull in, whether it's community colleges... That's a longer story. 

There's many minted, fractured, well-intended but not yet successful talent developers out there that are not four year college degrees. And I said, "Whoa, this is our way to do it." So we decided to form an organization called OneTen, which stands for one million Black talent into upwardly mobile middle class jobs in the next decade. Cumulative.

Why did we start with Black? Obviously that in the moment was one of the biggest issues we could help address. As any startup, you would start with one group. This has been a question that many people say, "Wait, what about Hispanic? And what about this group? That group?" 

Actually we're trying to work on the systemic barriers that will help everybody, even not just an underrepresented group. Because if a job's over credentialed, that applies... Like I said, 50 percent of Americans don't have a college degree. Then we would say in a company, can you promote people based on their skills? Not just that they have these qualifying degrees?

I think one of the best success stories of this is Delta in Ed Bastian removed the college degree for pilots. Lo and behold, gets a whole flood in of diverse pilot applications. You can learn. It's not like you want a pilot who doesn't know what he is doing. You could have gotten those skills in many different routes, not always a college degree.

It's why up until this point, the vast majority of pilots are obviously white and male. We start talking to all our colleagues and we say, "Look, it's a hard thing to change your culture of how you hire people." And just all of the hidden biases that come in the interview. 

Even if you remove the credential, I'm telling you, you'll still hire college degree people if I don't do more because even in an interview you say, "Tell me what you did when this happened." And first of all, I've never been in that situation. We've got to change it to hypothetical and this is many things that have to change. 

So we said, "Let's form this company. It's a non-for-profit and let's get..." Right now, I think we're close to a hundred companies and let's get them all on this journey. God bless them. We said, "This is going to be hard. You guys got to stick with it. You can't back away." They've put in money, they've made commitments of how many people to hire every year and we have to work both sides. I say it's like a supply and demand problem.

We're going to work on the demand side, get that to be non-credentialed for the right jobs. And today, to prove my point, these are the best companies in America. And guess what? Family of four, family sustaining jobs, varies by region, but let's say on average $60,000 to $70,000 a year jobs. 

You're going to not believe it, maybe almost 80 percent of those jobs require a college degree in this country, in those companies. And we're speaking to the majority of employers. Big employers. That has crept up for no really great reason. You go back and look not required. 

Our guess is it could be in half, that number. Now we got to work through the process in these companies. Trust me, it is not easy.

Then the other side we're working on is the supply side, which is there are a million non-for-profits that want to do good, but they can create thirty-five people with cloud skills. Companies can't deal with the hundreds of these things and do hiring from them and know if they're any good. 

So we are working on trying to scale the ones that are the best, make investments, get community. Some community colleges do a great job, others don't as an example. So we're working on that side of it. That would be the supply side.

And we just are entering year three and I think last year, we finished up our hires last year, were circa about 75,000 I think. So we got to keep moving up. And like you say, there's still a lot to do but celebrate that's a step forward of progress and it's why I'm so firm on this for any company as a way to do... In this day and age, it is your talent strategy. 

It is not a diversity strategy. It is a talent strategy. So that's what OneTen is. We started with that group, but we are removing barriers for everybody and we're going to keep expanding.

Guy Kawasaki:

I saw the list of the OneTen partners and to my utter amazement, Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay. Those companies aren't in there. What's wrong with those companies?

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. Nothing is wrong with them. I think some of them felt they're of scale, they had their own programs and were doing their own things. Google has a program it's doing. But we are also working to get them to join us too. It's been an interesting exercise because competitors have to work together on it. You're doing something like each of us... Like a company called Aon Insurance, they've done a lot of work on apprenticeships. IBM did a ton of work on the idea of skills recredentialing and so we wrote up a guidebook and the credentials for it and we share it with everyone including our competitors.

So you have to take a leap of faith that all boats do rise out of this. So now Airbnb joined us if I recall. I think they're on our list. We have a few of our newer colleagues that are joining and I would hope you will see more on our list.

Our hands are full right now, but it isn't that I don't think they believe. I think some feel that, "Hey, I'm off scale, I've got my programs." But we are trying to convince people, "Hey, maybe you know what you're doing. Perhaps you could teach someone else then." 

So we're not all in there to just take. We're giving too. There's a lot of members who actually do pretty well and they're helping other members right now is how I would say it.

Guy Kawasaki:

This is the part where your PR person is going to jump out and come back on and say, "No, Ginni, don't answer that question."

Ginni Rometty:


Guy Kawasaki:

First of all, it's ironic that you're in Florida, but it seems to me that the OneTen program, because of its focus... And I have to give you another caveat that I think being "woke" is a positive thing, not a negative thing, but I could make the case that the OneTen program is about as woke as you could possibly get and DeSantis' head is going to explode when he hears about this.

Ginni Rometty:

I understand your question and in fact, I spoke at a big event here with 500 people last week and I'm cognizant. However, the barriers that we're addressing apply to everybody and sometimes it's a shame if people want to focus on just one aspect of something. If I said to you at a startup company and said, "You should focus on one market segment first," you would think that's common sense. 

Trust me, when I've tried to focus on more than one, I failed. We picked a thing to focus on, but those things we're working on really do apply to everyone. Yes, you could describe it that way, but I also believe... I don't even think in those terms. We are about getting more people better jobs. In the end, better jobs for lots more people in this country and there are 60 percent that could have better jobs. That is a lot of people.

So I rest my case on that. I'm convinced that it works because I've actually seen the real thing and I've watched so many families change when dignity of work and that ability to then see the future and what that means for their children. 

So what you said a second ago, oh no, their children will have higher aspirations. It will be. And the dignity of work is a really big thing and that is what we are offering and that applies to everyone.

Guy Kawasaki:

Someone who has run IBM, I would really be interested in your perspective…The topic is ChatGPT.

You had Watson. Could Watson become ChatGPT? Could ChatGPT become Watson? What do you foresee? Teachers are going crazy. Students are answering with ChatGPT. In preparation for this interview, I went to ChatGPT and I said, "What should I ask Ginni Rometty for a podcast interview?" 

And it gave me fifteen questions, one of which I used but still. And that was in thirty seconds. So what's your take on ChatGPT?

Ginni Rometty:

Yeah. We probably could have even started there. I want to back up a second on it. And you started with the book. And look, I wrote a book not because I'd always said, "Oh my, I must write a book." 

I felt so strongly about that things could be done in this world where you deal with tension, you do it with respect, you make progress and you do hard things in a positive way. 

So in retrospect, these principles... And it will come back now to ChatGPT. I said, "What did I learn from all these situations I had been in and could I codify it into something?" Again, not in the moment did I know it. It's now as I look back and forced to inspect my life.

I did come up with these five principles, which one is it makes a difference if you be in service of someone or something. That's very different than serving them. 

Second is your ability to build belief, which means you can convince people to voluntarily embrace an alternate reality, not order them, not do it for fear. It is so important to do something hard that this is about voluntarily believing in the future. I'm going to come to your chat in a second. 

The third big thing I learned is yes, know when to change but think hard about what must endure. And that's about making a lot of tough choices. Because in the end, and I say this really strongly, how you do things maybe more important than what you actually do. This will now come to that point.

And oddly enough, my fourth principal was steward good tech. 

And the fifth is be resilient. We talked a lot about resilience, but steward good tech. What does that mean? And I was trying to make them memorable to people and I said, "Be in service of is the soul. Build belief would be the heart. Knowing what to change and what should endure would be the brain, the left side or right side. Good tech is the muscle and resilience is the spirit." 

Now why is it a muscle? Have the strength to take responsibility for the long term, its upside and its downside. And we talked a lot about the social side of that. I believe companies have the right and have the responsibility to prepare society for their future they create. I believe inclusion is a choice you make every day. I also believe that the root of this is people have to trust you and that will happen values-based decisions by your actions instead of your words a million times over.

Enter ChatGPT. So it's about these big language models. No problem. That is one great one. That demonstration got into the social conscience of everyone now. So it's a lot of big discussion. 

And you're right, a lot of the discussion is about, "Oh, the impact on education and are we going to have a whole generation. They don't memorize anything, it goes in their phone. Now can they not write either because ChatGPT will be doing their writing?" 

As an example. Look, I think in general, being the company that I feel brought it out of its winter, it's most recent winter back with Watson, but with it comes responsibility for its up and down. What do I think? I think it's great. I think it will help do a lot of good things. But I also think we got to think about and in parallel what are the downsides of it and what do you do?

So what I think about it now is we're getting a glimpse of what could be the downsides, and this world that happens very quickly. People often use the analogy, that form of AI is not good or bad in and of itself. AI is just reflection of humanity. 

So it's a matter now what we do with it. I do think it calls into question when I say steward good tech is, all right, what are the guardrails do you want to put around something like that? We do a lot of work on quantum computing. Guy, I've been talking about AI ethics for a decade. I'm like why does no one want to listen a decade ago? AI is not bad inherently, but it's the uses of technology.

Now I've spent a lot of time with lawmakers on you can't regulate the technology. You got to regulate the use of the technology because just like a weapon. A weapon can defend, a weapon can hurt. People will say the difference with that analogy is the weapon doesn't think for itself and maybe AI is thinking for itself in some cases. 

But my long answer, what do I think of it is I think it is great. I think it's positive. It could help people do their jobs better that are out there used the proper way. I think it can really give a jolt to the education world to reinvent things that are desperately in need of reinvention.

But then I also think there should be guardrails particularly about how do we learn? And even like you said, you got back answers that were not all right because it is a garbage in, garbage out method. Meaning if I look at my own Wikipedia, there's a lot of things wrong on there and I just don't care to fix it.

But I can tell you how many people I've tried to convince I did not go to General Motors Institute. I did not go there. I went to Northwestern. But somehow that's out there and somebody thinks I've gone there and I couldn't convince them, Guy, I didn't go there. 

So I believe it's a perfect example of the moment that will now root for people, what does it mean to have principles of trust and transparency around technology? And that we know what it's capable of. You don't want to harness it too soon because you want it to develop and you don't want to crimp it. On the other hand, what's the limit?

I can understand why some professors now are like, "You can't use it in this and I'm going to change the way I do testing and this and that." That's probably good by the way. I think we're at just the infancy of that, but those technologies will just get better. So it's a matter of how we're going to choose and then what kind of guardrails we want to put around them. 

But I think a lot of companies, and you don't have to be a tech company for this, should think about... And that's why I made it one of these five principles. I don't care if you're the user, the builder of it, the maker, or just an individual, any company, you got to steward good tech because people are going to judge you by how you use this technology. 

I've watched people with AI love it or hate it depending on how it's introduced to them and what it does and who taught it.

I hope what this does is catalyze a moment that we will internalize what it means to have things like AI ethics and guardrails around these technologies, that they should augment man, not hurt man. 

So this will be a journey. And there are people already, like you saw, there's some young folks that, I don't know if he's younger or not, but some people working on how to tell if the paper was written with ChatGPT.

To me, like a visceral example with IBM was we have the leader of quantum computing, but way back we knew quantum could unlock most encryption, if not all, traditional encryption.

In parallel, we have been building quantum proof encryption. That to me is your duty when you do something like that. Honestly I believe companies, when it came to social media thinking through, if I have downside, got it. I'm benefiting from the upside. I got to think through the downsides. 

This is what I think will crystallize for firms out of this simple thing that's captured people's imaginations is whoa, you got to take responsibility for both sides. And I'm hoping that's now what comes out of this.

Guy Kawasaki:

I think ChatGPT and the general concept of AI as it's now evangelizing is profound. As profound as personal computing, the internet and social media.

Ginni Rometty:

It will be referred to as an era of technology. It will be.

Guy Kawasaki:

It's elite.

Ginni Rometty:

With every one of them comes all these issues as in the past. Look, I'm not trying to make it academic. When we went to electrification, when people came off a farm, all these real big arcs with them have had big social change that came with them. 

So we're going to participate in that and hopefully we can help out some of the bad part of that at the same time.

Guy Kawasaki:

I'm old enough to remember the transition from Slide Rules to HP-35.

Ginni Rometty:

Yep. Me too. Do you remember though when it was... Yes.

Guy Kawasaki:

That was cheating using an HP calculator, right?

Ginni Rometty:

I remember having put mine outside the room. The teacher's like, "No, no, put those over there when you're going to take your test." And those are actually good analogies to be honest with you.

Guy Kawasaki:

If you think about it, let's say that people object to the fact that ChatGPT is used to write a speech. So you didn't write your speech. But let's face it, most people, or at least most people at the executive level, they're not writing their speeches anyway. 

Somebody else, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, they had five speech writers. So it's not like they were crafting it with a fountain pen. So what's the difference? But I digress.

Ginni Rometty:

No, no, I think that's actually a good analogy. It's just at what point does this matter and not matter? I think the biggest thing is going to be for how we learn and what we accept to be true. That's where we'll need some of that guardrail. So thank you for letting me recap those five principles of Good Power.

Guy Kawasaki:

I want people to buy your book.

Ginni Rometty:

It is a memoir with purpose. It is not everything about life and me and anything, but I honestly did try to follow my own medicine and write it to be in service of. So I honestly tried. You'll be the judge. 

Guy Kawasaki:

I promise you this truly is the last question. So in short, I consider you remarkable. Let's not argue that. Let's just assume that I'm right. You are remarkable. Can you summarize how you became remarkable?

Ginni Rometty:

If you asked me for just one word.

Guy Kawasaki:

I just want one word.

Ginni Rometty:

I asked more questions than I gave answers.

Guy Kawasaki:

That's profound in and of itself. Thank you very much. 

Let me be honest. Anybody who was the CEO of IBM probably by definition is remarkable. But Ginni is remarkable on top of remarkable. I loved her discussion of skill-based job requirements. 

I'm 100 percent behind that idea. All hail Ginni Rometty. 

I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. I hail Peg Fitzpatrick, Jeff Sieh, Shannon Hernandez, Luis Magana, Alexis Nishimura, and the drop in Queen of Santa Cruz, California Madisun Nuismer. 

Until next time, mahalo and aloha.