Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO: Fortune’s “Most Powerful Woman” Shares How to Lead with Purpose | E298

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO: Fortune’s “Most Powerful Woman” Shares How to Lead with Purpose | E298

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO: Fortune’s “Most Powerful Woman” Shares How to Lead with Purpose | E298

Ginni Rometty was often the only woman in her engineering classes. But, she was determined to excel in a male-dominated field and eventually became the first female CEO of IBM. Her trailblazing leadership revitalized the company and set new standards for women in tech and business. In this episode, Ginni shares her best insights on leadership, resilience, and the importance of being in service of a greater purpose.

Ginni Rometty is the former president, chairman, and CEO of IBM. She led the company through significant transformations and advocated for diversity and inclusion in tech. She is also the author of Good Power, a Wall Street Journal bestseller.


In this episode, Hala and Ginni will discuss:

– How Ginni turned tough situations into positive power

– The need for leaders to have ‘good power’

– The five principles of ‘good power’

– Why loving conflict can be good

– The importance of never striving for perfection

– Why continuous learning is key to success

– The difference between a job and a career

– Why you must reframe how you think about risk

– The responsible use of technology

– Why leaders must inspire and not force

– And other topics…


Ginni Rometty is the former chairman, president, and CEO of IBM, and the first woman to hold the position. She led IBM’s transformation, building a $21 billion hybrid cloud business and establishing the company’s leadership in AI, quantum computing, and blockchain. She co-chairs OneTen, aiming to upskill and promote one million Black Americans by 2030. Ginni is the author of Good Power and was named Fortune’s #1 Most Powerful Woman three years in a row. Today, she continues her influence through board positions and advocacy for ethical technology use.


Connect With Ginni:


Resources Mentioned:

Ginni’s Book, Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World:


LinkedIn Secrets Masterclass, Have Job Security For Life:

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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Young and profiters. Welcome back to the show. And boy, do we have a good one in store for you today? I'm interviewing one of the most powerful women in all time history, Ginny Rometty. She was IBM's first female CEO. She was their ninth CEO and chairman. She was voted Fortune's number one most powerful woman in America three years in a row.

And she's also the author of a new book called Good Power, which is jam packed with amazing, amazing leadership advice. And we're going to uncover her five principles of good power. We're going to understand the difference between good power and bad power, and we're going to get all her advice of how we can all be better managers and leaders and rise up the ranks in the corporate world, as well as grow our own businesses.

I am so excited for this conversation. I feel like we're going to get so much wisdom from this wonderful woman. Without further ado, here's my conversation with Ginny Rometty.

Ginny, welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:01:51] Ginni Rometty: Thank you, Hala. It is great to be with you. 

[00:01:54] Hala Taha: I am very excited for this conversation. You are such an incredible woman. You've had an amazing career. And I want to talk a little bit about your book to get started and just jump right into it. It came out in 2023.

It's called Good Power. And so the word power is often just thrown around, especially in the business world. Can you talk to us about the definition of good power and how it differs from bad power? 

[00:02:20] Ginni Rometty: It's the first question everyone asks me is what's good than what's bad? And I think there's a bit of a stereotype with power nowadays.

People think of it as very self serving, can be negative, or really fear driven. So my point of good power is to say you can do really tough stuff, but you can do it in what I term a positive way. Meaning. You can love tension. There's nothing wrong with conflict, but you can do it respectfully. And then another, what is a tenant of good power is do not strive for perfection.

If you would just celebrate progress, you will be surprised how much more you'll get done. So love tension, do it respectfully and just be satisfied with progress. 

[00:02:57] Hala Taha: I love that. It's short, but simple. And I know you've got five principles of good power. We're going to dive deep into that later in the interview, but you've had such an amazing career.

So I want to understand how your perspectives actually were shaped on power. I learned that you had a little bit of a difficult childhood with your parent situation, and I'd love to understand how your dad and the dynamic between your dad and your mom actually shaped your perspective on power. 

[00:03:25] Ginni Rometty: I tell that story, I didn't intend to start with a personal story, but I think it's something worthwhile for everyone to think about their past of what really creates the foundation of who they are.

And in my case, it was an unfortunate situation where I was an early teen, my father abandoned our family. And so my mom was, uh, really just in her young thirties. I happened to walk into the garage and I would hear my father say to my mother, you know, I don't love you. I don't love any of you. I don't care what happens to you.

And he left. And what really though shaped me was what my mother did in the years that would follow. In that moment, she never cried. And here she was a woman with four children. Now she had no money, no home, no food, no way to keep us safe. And she had no school and so I watched, never cried, but she got a little bit of education, got a little bit of a job.

I would primarily help her with my brothers and sisters, there were four of us, as I said, and over time, a little bit better job, et cetera. And what I learned from watching my mom through those years was that, look, she was not going to let my father define who she was. And the lesson to me was, and to everyone I feel, is only you get to define who you are.

Always remember that. And that when she had nothing, she had power. And that is my point of good power. If you think you have nothing, you actually have power to change that situation. 

[00:04:50] Hala Taha: Oh my gosh, I feel like getting teary eyed. That's such like a inspiring story and I feel like she must have been such a great influence on you because you turned out to be such a rock star in the corporate world.

One of the biggest highlights of her career was being the ninth chairman, president, and CEO of IBM. This is one of the most influential, impactful companies of our entire history as humanity. So, so impressive. And you took a path that a lot of women didn't take. You went into engineering, you went into tech.

I also was in the tech world. Many years later, so I can't even imagine what it was like for you. So let's start there. What was it like in your early career as a woman in tech? 

[00:05:31] Ginni Rometty: Well, I have to tell you, my brothers and sisters are equally successful, if not more. So I would say I'm the lower achiever of the group.

My mom always says, what did I do? And I think this idea that what we witnessed, and it's an interesting thought about intergenerational, what you learn watching your parents, grandparents, great grandparents is. What I witnessed, because I was raised by women who all had a tragedy, I started with my mom, but my grandma, my great grandma all had tragedies.

But what we all watched was, there's always a way forward. There's always a way forward. And I think that that is a really important, simple notion. And so when you say, how did I end up, or what happened, and what was that early time like, I have to say, I went into engineering because I liked math. That was one thing.

But you say, what was, The world then, right or wrong, I would have been the only woman in engineering back then. This would have been the late 70s. But what it did teach me was, at that moment, anything I said would be remembered. When you're the only, whether it might be the only whatever it is in a room, you might be the only man, the only Hispanic person, the only whatever.

When you say something, you're going to be remembered. So it made me study harder. And in that time frame, you know, when you say, how did that come about? Well, I would study because I knew if I raised my hand and said something, they're going to remember so I don't want to be wrong. But that knowledge would turn into power.

Because over time, you actually did know more than the people around you and it would give you confidence. So it started as a shield, it would become the reason for confidence over time. 

[00:07:01] Hala Taha: I love that. So basically you're saying, because you were kind of a minority as a woman, that it actually made you try harder because people were judging you more.

Like, why are you even here? Why do you deserve a seat at the table? And it actually became a power for you, a superpower for you. 

[00:07:19] Ginni Rometty: That's right. That is absolutely how I would look at it. Like I said, first a shield, then it would become the confidence. And more times than not, it would also become sort of a stamp.

People would always know me, Oh, she's always prepared. But the reason I did it in my mind was it was always to be confident. Right. And I think most of the time when people are not confident in something, it's because they're not prepared. 

[00:07:39] Hala Taha: Yeah. Confidence is confidence. I always say that. So you rose up the ranks at IBM.

I'd love to understand how you got your foot in the door. And then also, as you look back, why do you think you were able to literally rise to the highest rank of power in IBM? What's your advice for other 20 and 30 year olds in corporate? 

[00:08:00] Ginni Rometty: Look, Kyla, this is the only reason I would write a book and write a book with so much personal in it is I hope I help other people on this and that, that there are lessons that are timeless.

So either my mistakes that are timeless to people. And when you said, how did I get there? I did first work for General Motors. And, uh, Mary Barra, who runs GM, is now my good friend, and I always say to Mary, there was a difference between us. As a young person, I went to work there, they had given me a scholarship, so back to my earlier life, that was really meaningful.

So I really went there, tried, but at a young age, I would learn the difference between a job and a career. I wasn't passionate about cars. And so, I think to everybody. There is a question about when you're in a job, you want to run to the job, not from the job. Even when people ask me about, oh, I'm going to quit and go do something else, I always ask them, are you running to something or from something?

Let's be clear which of these you're doing. And so, to me, I wasn't passionate about cars, and so my first lesson was, difference between a job and a career, go do something you're passionate about, which led me to IBM. And then I think a few of the lessons, or how could you have risen to this area, there were a few things I learned along the way that maybe others could learn from.

One is I am a big believer in, I always hate to use the word, continuous learning. Being a constant learner. Easy to say, I actually think it's easy to do if you just take an approach of be willing to apprentice at things. I was constantly doing something I was learning from somebody else. When people talk so much about, oh, I don't want to go into the office anymore.

I would flip this question. It's not about what's good for the company, it's what's good for you. Whatever environment can put you in that will make you learn more, if it means going in some place, then do it for that reason for yourself. Do it for yourself, that what's in it for me. And so, this idea of always apprenticing, my early time, I would learn the difference of networking.

I don't think networks are what give you something. Networks are by what you give to someone else. They're not transactional. So early in life, I had someone say to me, Jenny, if someone ever asks you for help, give it to them. Give them help. That will pay off for decades to come. And I think that was another thing.

My definition of networking was not transactional, it was by giving. And I think the other reason was, I didn't have one mentor, I had hundreds. And to me, if you will just ask more questions than you'll answer, even though I'm like talking a lot here, in real life I don't, I would ask more. Anybody will be your mentor if you take interest in them.

This idea of my definition of a mentor, my definition of networking, my definition of apprenticing is eventually what would lead me through the ranks. And probably the other thing would be, and I have to say how it's probably the one thing when people say, give us one piece of advice or something. It's my definition of risk would change over time.

And that's what did it. If someone said to me, give me one piece of advice, career advice, I would tell them the story about, I was probably 10 years into my career. And every time I got a new job, back to that early college story, I would always be, Oh no, I don't think I can do this. I'm not ready for it yet.

I need more time. I would always stew over doing something new. Now you're probably not like that. I was, and I got offered a big job once and I said to the person in the interview, I want to go home and talk to my husband about it. He's like, okay. I went home, my husband said to me, and I've been married now 45 years, back then, he said, do you think a man would have answered that offer that way?

I said, no. He says, I'm not on a man gender point, because this applies to everyone. He said, you got to reframe how you think about risk. It's got to be a good thing. In that moment, it would crystallize for me that, he goes, because I watched this, every job you take, and then in six months you're bored again, and so you go through this.

I came up with this phrase that growth and comfort never coexist. And I started to associate risk with growth, meaning, hey, if I feel nervous, oh, this is excellent. This means I am learning something. And that to me is the most important. We say, how did you eventually get there? Because I was willing to then take on risky assignments, do risky things.

And you know, they can go one way or another. There were many that I thought, oh God, this is going to kill me. But they usually don't. And you really keep building your skills. I think that is the most important thing for, it's true for, People, men or women, it's true for companies, it's true for countries, this idea that you will never get forward without that feeling of discomfort.

It's just how you choose to look at it. 

[00:12:33] Hala Taha: Oh my god, there's so many good points in everything that you said, so many gems that you just dropped. One thing that I want to talk about, because you mentioned In terms of a company, you've got to have passion. I also feel like company culture matters so much in terms of whether you thrive or you basically die, because I remember at HP.

It was led by Meg Whitman. When I worked there, I literally got promoted five times in five years. I was a C suite pet. I was the face of the young employees. I thrived at HP. I was so good. I got poached and went to Disney streaming services and it was totally different experience. I look really young for my age.

I was treated like an intern. It was a total boys club. They merged with this old school company called BAM Tech. It was just all boys club. I didn't get promoted once in two years, which was really different for me. And I ended up becoming an entrepreneur because of that, which I'm so happy now I'm living my dream life.

But I just love to understand from your perspective, you never really took the position of I'm a female. That's some sort of disadvantage, but it could also have been that you were at really good companies that didn't have that culture. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on that. 

[00:13:45] Ginni Rometty: Yeah. What you just described to me is super interesting.

And I sort of have, not fair, but listening to it, my own conclusion of what one company had versus the other. In my mind, that's the difference between a company that has deeply rooted values and one that doesn't yet have its own values really, you know, between them. And like your first company. HP is a very old company as well, right?

IBM is the oldest company in tech. So I did, and I'm really clear about that, I did have the ability to work for a company that was already steeped in values. And to me, if you're going to be a company around a very long time, I really believe that society gives you the license to operate. And so either you behave right in the long arc, or if you don't, I've had this discussion with many of my colleagues that run big companies that For the while may get on the wrong side of society and their view is it is super hard to come back from that other side.

Think of this, when I was a young person, like when you were just starting out, my appraisals were things like, the people who work for me, how did they develop? Alright, so this is already putting in my brain, that's my job, to be sure they're better, not me, that they're better. I was actually appraised on how many, and then the word was, how many minorities did I hire?

So in the day it was saying, Hey, that's a good thing to have a diverse workforce. You get a better product because of it. Not because it's altruistic. You get a better product. This is why you want it. So I lived in a meritocracy. Now it doesn't mean that that wasn't still, look, I'm in tech. There are not that many women in tech as you rightly, and even to this day, not right.

And still, although we're starting to get to 50 percent engineers. So to me, it was never about a gender thing. It was about being in a company that wanted everybody to be themselves so that they could do their best work. I was taught early on things like I had a person who was telling horrible jokes, but he was the best performer.

And the boss who said to me, Oh no, this is clear what you do. I'm a brand new person, a brand new boss. And he says, Oh no, it's clear. You give them one morning and then you fire him. And it doesn't matter how good he performs, but these are all little signals that you're taught early on about a meritocracy and about what's expected.

And so I think that anybody building a company, that it's important to not think of values as a thing you kind of like, Oh, that's a lofty thing. It's a poster on a wall. It's actually predictable behavior. If you really have values, right? It's like when things get tough, it becomes even clearer what you do.

If you understand your values. And so I think it's super important, and actually I think it's why some of the younger companies today have struggled on some what I think should be easy decisions. They haven't really yet formed their values. You know, it's like a tree with roots. They don't have those deep roots yet to hold the tree when the wind really shakes.

[00:16:29] Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I have a company called Yap Media. We created values. And now whenever we have a difficult problem, especially when it comes to like, should we fire somebody? Just something very difficult. Should we change something that we're doing? It's a decision making compass. We already decided what our decision making methodology is going to be because we have our values.

So you're so right with that. Okay, let's talk about entrepreneurship because in today's world, a lot more young people are becoming entrepreneurs. Not everyone's really staying at a company their entire career. You're very different from when you were in your career. What do you think about entrepreneurship now, and what would you say to somebody who's considering do I stay at a company for the rest of my career, rise up the ranks, or do I go and step out on my own?

[00:17:18] Ginni Rometty: I have plenty of friends that are both, both sides of this. And I do know, I spent 40 years at one company. Many people would find that maybe unthinkable today. Although I do believe that's changing in some ways. I think there's lessons from both sides. Like I always say to people, look, I was trained to fly a 747.

I couldn't fly a little bitty plane. That looks super hard to me, okay? A little one. And just like I think being an entrepreneur is super hard as running a mega company. They're just different. And they're just both things to learn. So, I think they're both viable. I actually think the most important thing is This idea of both values, either way, but that's a common question between the two.

So either the company you're starting, running, or part of, do you identify with its values? And I think in both cases, if they let you keep learning, either you're the one starting it and you're learning. Like I stayed in one place, but I did 25 different jobs and I had one benefit that the entrepreneur doesn't have.

The same network I had grew and supported me through all those jobs. Whereas an entrepreneur who moves from different things. It's often a different network each time. And so, I did have that benefit of a network. But to me, no bad decision here. It's a matter of in which case do you learn. And if you do in both of them, then those are good decisions.

So, I actually think being an ultras is a very risky decision. But I think that the, in many cases, the payoff is much greater as well. So, I'm a big fan of both courses. And so I think it's a very personal decision. on the environment and kind of which are the benefits you want to take the most advantage of at any time.

[00:18:54] Hala Taha: Yeah. I think it's like your opportunities because I remember when I was at HP, I literally thought I was going to stay there and become the CMO. I thought that that was my path. I literally think I could have done that. But then, you I made a decision to go to Disney and then everything just flipped on its head and suddenly I saw a different opportunity to start podcast network and a social agency and just went that route.

So I feel like it's like really the opportunities that you have. 

[00:19:18] Ginni Rometty: Yeah. You're, you're on a super good point. I hope people take away and when I do like a college graduation speech, I'm always like when they say, you know, what a piece of advice I have to say, like, do not plan every part of your life yet.

Let it unfold, which is what you've done. I do worry so many people, well, I need to know my next 10 steps. I'm like, not really, actually. Why don't you just learn a lot from the next step and then you'll be surprised where the next step goes after that. Like I think you probably wouldn't have guessed you'd be doing this at that time.

And I think that is how you should do it. And I worry that there's so much pressure under some people that like, oh no, I need to have exactly this degree and do this and do that. And I'm like, Not really. I think as long as you're learning in the moment, okay, a new door opens up. I really actually believe that's for the most part true.

[00:20:03] Hala Taha: Mm hmm. So I want to get into your book because there's so many good points in your book. You call your book, Good Power, a memoir with a purpose. Why do you describe it that way? 

[00:20:16] Ginni Rometty: Listen, I did not intend to write a book that was personal when I started. And now the book ends up all this way. And the reason I end up calling it that is.

I really wanted to share some views about, like I said earlier, how do you do hard stuff, but in a good way. And I wanted people to feel confident, because I think people are really kind of discouraged when they look around and they're like, wow, there's a lot of societal problems that aren't getting solved.

And they're like, they're too big. I want to give up. And I feel, no, you can solve really big societal problems. I've learned that from my life. You don't have to be president. You don't have to be in politics. There are ways you can do this. And I don't want people to give up. I want them to have confidence to do it.

So I was, um, being literal about answering how to do this. And people are like, Oh, that's very boring. And they're like, you have to tell stories. You have to tell, how did you feel? I'm like, feel I've spent my whole life not wanting to talk about feelings. Okay. In business. And I'm like, no, that's how people can learn.

And I didn't want to write a book unless it could help other people. This was not like a vanity project. My life's not that interesting. I was like, okay, I had a seat at a table of five decades of technology. I worked with some of the most interesting people in the world. I learned from some of the most interesting people in the world.

I would've met with almost every president of a developed country and developing country. I did have a seat that so few people seen that I watched and learned from. So could I tell both my mistakes and learnings from that time that others could get from? And so that's how it ended up being. It's like not everything about me, so don't worry.

You don't have to read all. Like there are other biographies that are like everything about a purpose. I only tell the stories that have a purpose, which is why it got to. a memoir with a purpose. So for the points I was trying to teach, it's retrospective. I was no genius along the way. Not now either, by the way, but it was a retrospective of when I now sit back and say, okay, what did I learn from all these experiences or what went wrong?

What could I share with people as some formulas that they could think about? on how to do these kinds of hard things. It doesn't even have to be for a job. I mean, it could be in your personal life and your professional life. It could be for running a company. It could be for running a nonprofit, whatever it is you're doing.

Long answer to the purpose of the book was to be in service of other people. And so I had to be pretty vulnerable to do that, which is why we had to rewrite it three times because it's like I had to keep telling these stories. And it's why the book ends beginning where you started our interview, right?

Which was a hard thing for me to do. I think. People then are like, yeah, I should think about my life too, in some ways, because it does form a foundation of your decisions later in life, of what you become. Most people who read the book, they're like, oh, now I understand why you are exactly like you are.

Okay. So I think it's true for all of us. 

Ad Break 1 - 00hr 23m 01.72s



[00:23:05] Hala Taha: I love that. And it's so true. Stories help us learn better. We remember facts better from stories, so I'm glad that you took that story approach. I hope that we get to uncover a lot of that. One thing that I want to call out, and we were talking about this offline, I was telling you how my listenership skews male.

And I really appreciate the fact that you didn't come at this because whenever I have a woman on, a lot of the times they're really focused on like women's leadership. And I'm not like that either. I just want to talk about leadership and entrepreneurship, no matter if you're a man or a woman, like I don't really see it that way.

Talk to us about why you decided not to just lean into women's leadership because that's I think what probably everybody expected from you, right? 

[00:23:46] Ginni Rometty: It's so funny because You are very right, and I did get a lot of people to read the book ahead of time because I wanted the feedback because if it wasn't going to be helpful, I didn't want to do it.

I didn't care. I'd stop, and many of the first rounds were, there's not enough in here about being a woman. That's a lot of the critique I got. It's more, it needs more, it needs more. And I was like, you know, I can't make up something that's not true. That isn't how I ever felt. So there are some pieces I speak to on that.

I did add into the book because there are misconceptions people do have about women in leadership. They assume because I have no children, as an example, that that's what it took to be the CEO, that I couldn't have a family. And that is not why I don't have children. So I talk about that, right? So I did go back because I felt there was important pieces that are just such misconceptions people have.

Or myths that they live by, and I talk a little, but to me it was more meant to be, again, I think about majority of who I learned from were men, by the way, in fact, people said, Come on, can't you put more women in here? I'm like, there weren't more to learn from. Okay, so I can't make it up. What's not true.

So therefore, it is meant to be a book. And I do think though, okay, this is a really important point, I do think it does speak to feminine traits of leadership. That is not women. I do think feminine traits are important to all people as a leadership characteristic right now. That people want a leader who's vulnerable.

The idea of being vulnerable is not just for women leaders, especially not just for women leaders. The idea about listening more than you talk, people might associate that with a feminine trait. And I think that's really And I do think those are the kinds of traits that are in demand right now. Do you see that difference between, you know, some feminine leadership traits I speak to, but not much about the other, unless it's to make a point that I'm really trying to talk about.

Because everybody here has got a workforce that's men and women. Okay. So you're leading both. So I tried to talk about that from both angles. 

[00:25:40] Hala Taha: So good. And this is such a great transition to your five principles of good power. So I want to do this. Quickfire style. So I'm going to rattle off each principle and then I'll let you describe it and then we'll dig into each one.

So the first one is be in service of. 

[00:25:59] Ginni Rometty: Yes. Be in service of. Do not serve. It is the soul of good power and it means fulfill someone else's goal before your own. That order matters. 

[00:26:10] Hala Taha: Build belief. 

[00:26:12] Ginni Rometty: The only way to do hard things. It's to appeal to someone's head and their heart. 

[00:26:17] Hala Taha: Know what must change, what must endure.

[00:26:20] Ginni Rometty: This is what I would call the brain of good power, and it is all about loving tension because anything hard to do is never got a black and white answer. 

[00:26:29] Hala Taha: Steward good tech. 

[00:26:32] Ginni Rometty: I call this the muscle of good power, meaning it takes a lot of strength to do what's right for the long term, even when it may not be right in the short term.

Everybody's a tech company today. 

[00:26:44] Hala Taha: Be resilient. 

[00:26:46] Ginni Rometty: The spirit of good tech. And this is the harder the climb, the more disappointments you will have. And I have a view about resilience that's got a lot to do with your attitude. as well as the relationships you have. 

[00:26:59] Hala Taha: Okay, so let's start with being in service of.

You call it the soul of good power. Why is it so important to be in service of, and can you give us some examples of how you can do that? 

[00:27:10] Ginni Rometty: So remember, I'm thinking about anybody out here who wants to work on something hard. When you want to work on something hard, you got to give people a reason why to do this kind of work.

It isn't just make money, do this thing. A great analogy I think of when you go out to dinner at night. And if you have a great evening, now, the wait person, you can tell the difference between who cares that you had a great evening, or who just brings you your food. There is a big difference between those two.

I can see it in a doctor I go to. He's like, wait, you know, I looked at the surgery, looks good to me. I'm like, yeah, but I still can't walk. Hey, looks good. It's transactional. And there are many people that approach what they do as transactional. So to really be in service of something, there's got to be a reason you do this that's bigger than just that transaction.

Transcription If you're going to do something hard, there has to be a reason. Like, I always felt IBM was in service of, we were in service of making the whole world work better. Now that's very lofty, but we're a big company that played its role in all these strategic points in history. There's a reason people do that.

They know what they do matters. And so I think this gets to what do you do that matters and be in service of, don't just serve them. I don't just make this. I mean, why do you do your podcasts? Is it just to be the number one podcast out there, or? 

[00:28:25] Hala Taha: No. 

[00:28:25] Ginni Rometty: No. 

[00:28:26] Hala Taha: To help people, yeah. 

[00:28:27] Ginni Rometty: You really believe that. And I think if you really believe something, a lot of things are different after that, if you really believe that.

[00:28:34] Hala Taha: That's so interesting. When I first read that, I was thinking you meant being of service to other people, but you really mean having purpose. 

[00:28:42] Ginni Rometty: Some people would say that that's just having purpose. The reason I say it's more, it's because I am taking a risk that if I do what you need, my company will be fine or I'll get my quota or I'll make my whatever.

And so they are asynchronous and purpose isn't always that way. And so it was interesting, I was writing this, people were like, well, what's the difference? I kept saying, I got to make this point. Being a service of something is so different than just doing it and serving it or making a good product. And it is taking a risk because I know I may be doing things that.

I'm not going to get anything for it right now, but in the end, it comes back. Once I know you've met your goal, I'm taking, well, I'm kind of taking a flyer that, yep, in the end I'll get what I need out of this, whether that's buying a product or buying my service or doing whatever. So you do all this work, if people get some value, they'll come back and listen again.

You don't know that. Time will tell, long after you can do anything about it. So, that is, to me, being in service of someone, if you really believe that. You are only going to air things that you think are going to make these people better. You won't just do anything to keep a drumbeat going, as an example.

[00:29:51] Hala Taha: That's so interesting. That makes me think of my journey, because I remember for the first two years that I podcasted, people always ask me, how did you stay consistent? Because for the first two years, I didn't have a lot of downloads. They were like, do you work harder now? And I'm like, no, I do the same thing.

I was doing it before, it's just not as many people were listening. I just did the same thing because I cared. I wanted to help other people and that was why I was doing it, not necessarily to get the downloads. 

[00:30:19] Ginni Rometty: And it was separated in time, the success from what you were doing the work, right? 

[00:30:23] Hala Taha: Yeah, totally.

[00:30:24] Ginni Rometty: And that's a really important difference of the order of what happens. 

[00:30:27] Hala Taha: Okay, so at IBM, you were told that you had the gift of a velvet hammer. And I thought we could get a little bit tactical here. Talk to us about how you have difficult conversations and you're more like a velvet hammer so that you can have these difficult conversations without ruining relationships.

[00:30:46] Ginni Rometty: This gets to that second, so I'm like, okay, if you're going to work on something really hard, as I said, they usually, they're not solved overnight usually. Okay. You got to build belief. People got to believe they should do something. Like endurance, like why, like you said, I kept doing it. I kept doing my podcast.

It took time. You know, why do it? And that's what I meant by build belief. It's I'm gonna appeal to you logically and so your head and your heart. And it's funny, over time I would almost clearly say to people I'm gonna tell you this from my head, this from my heart. So how do I feel versus what do I know?

And I think this is super hard, so when you say, how do you velvet hammer, I'll tell you that quick story. I was, again, middle of my career. And it was a CEO of a big company, I can remember being around the table, it was a boardroom, and we had some pretty bad news to deliver to him. And I thought, uh, this is going to be, uh, this is going to be bad.

Now, the way in which I delivered it, told them what it was, what they could do about it, etc. And, um, afterward he came up to me and he said, wow, you have a velvet hammer. And I thought to myself, well, okay, this is like, I had never heard of the word. I'm like, is it good or a bad thing to have a velvet hammer?

And the reason I tell stories, he said to me, no, you told me a really bad thing, but in a way I would accept it and in a way I would action it forward. I would not try to defend it, not try to think about why, not try to make you give me examples. And so this idea, uh, another way to describe how to do it, I often say is to paint reality and give hope.

So, um, Yes, I'm very clear, not sensational, I'm clear about the issue. Even when you coach people, very clear, but the give hope part is a really important part. Paint reality and then give hope, meaning it's all about the way forward of what you do with this. And I think that that is the best way, you know, when you're doing hard stuff, there's a very likely thing that things won't work.

Like you just said in the beginning, I didn't have a lot of downloads. I can't get people to do this by telling them, Hey, there's a lot of people listening to this. At least they're not yet. Okay, that's the reality. They're not, but here's the reasons why this ought to be good going forward. And I think that that is a really important always, no matter what you're doing, head and heart, head and heart.

One of the things I did was a huge acquisition was the largest of its time. I've done that more than once, by the way, the largest of its time. And that time I was buying a big consulting company, PricewaterhouseCoopers. We were merging all five other big integrations in the industry had gone wrong at that time.

And I was number five then to try. And I'm like, Oh, super duper. All others have failed and we'll be the fifth. Because you're buying people. And so this is people who, not like parts, can walk out the door if they don't want to. It was buying a consulting group of 30 people. And when I reflect now on why did that work, there was many things they didn't like.

I was always honest about what they didn't like, and then honest about the way we were going to go forward on this, like the reasons to believe and what could be different. It's a simple point, but if you do it repetitively, You're building people's belief in a future. So those were my tips in that area.

[00:33:50] Hala Taha: That reminded me, I can't remember who told me this, but somebody told me something. The truth only sounds like the truth. 

[00:33:56] Ginni Rometty: I never heard that one, but that's a very good one. 

[00:33:58] Hala Taha: Whenever I'm, I'm like, there's a problem. I have a team of 60 people now. And whenever there's a problem, everyone's like, you should position it this way or whatever.

I always think in my head, like the truth only sounds like the truth. 

[00:34:12] Ginni Rometty: Very good advice. 

[00:34:13] Hala Taha: Yeah. 

[00:34:14] Ginni Rometty: Very good advice. That's what I believe. So it's not about rah rah leadership. It is about be very truthful, but then it's the focus on okay, but now here's why you can believe something is going to be different.

Why what we're going to do is going to work in the future or why we should keep doing this or that and So many people shy away from the truth. I found that never worked in the water. 

[00:34:33] Hala Taha: Yeah, if you're honest, people have empathy for you, for being honest and trust you. Okay, so let's talk about inspiring versus forcing.

Two very different things. I'd love for you to give us an example. What is the leader who forces versus how do you speak to inspire? 

[00:34:51] Ginni Rometty: I think this goes back to this point about when you're in service of something, you inspire people. Because fear is not a tenable way to force anything to happen for a long run.

that's I have had unfortunate cases when I worked with people who were driven by fear, but fear closes down people's ability to want to innovate, come forward with ideas, et cetera. And the other way makes people come forward with ideas and keep going forward and inspire. But inspire is usually both you're doing something that's bigger than the person.

But I think inspire is also about. Letting people believe it's going to be good for them too. And I think that's something that gets lost today is that it's okay for people to feel like this has to be good for me too. And so always when I would work on these things, I would think about it both from the individual point of view, as well as from the broader business point of view.

I mean, it could be little things, Hala. I remember in that acquisition. As an example, okay, all the administrative systems weren't working well, people weren't getting reimbursed for their expenses. You can imagine. These are things that happen in this day and age, even to people. And Inspire, I can remember saying, like, it really wasn't, it wasn't acceptable.

And I can remember going to a meeting and I took my checkbook out and I said, I will write a check for everybody for your expenses. Okay, now all I had to do was threaten that the system to get working, but I mean, I never had to really write a check. I was trying to inspire them to keep believing in what we were doing.

In what I just gave you an example of, it's got like nothing to do with the real business. They felt like it was addressing the human sides of what the business was. And that is one way to inspire people, right, is to appeal to them personally. And I think that making things personal. is a big way to inspire people.

[00:36:37] Hala Taha: Yeah, and speaking of that, I read that you would leave thousands of voicemails. Can you tell us about that? 

[00:36:43] Ginni Rometty: In that day and age, okay? Nobody does voicemail anymore. 

[00:36:46] Hala Taha: That would be like Slack messages or something. 

[00:36:48] Ginni Rometty: Yeah, so that would be a different way. That was a time when people probably didn't communicate to like big ranges of people like they would today with social media.

But that was my point, to be personal to them, and to reach out to as many people as possible and do it that way. And it would also be why over years, I think an art that has a little bit died that shouldn't, is personal notes to people. Now, you can send them on email, you can do what you want, but I even still handwrite them.

And in fact, in the book, I end the book with a handwritten note, that is handwritten. Because I do believe how you do your work may be just as important as what you do. That how of personalizing things. You know, every time I left a job, I wrote a note to all the people who I felt had been part of that team and what I had just, my success was their success.

I would personal note of what they did every time I took a job, I'd write the new team a note of what I admired about each one of them. When I became CEO, people were astonished that the first thing I did was I left the meeting and I called the 20 people in my life who had helped in some way and that this moment was as much theirs as it was mine because I was only what I was because of what they gave to me.

So. That, to me, is that personalization piece that I think is all about followership that we mentioned earlier. That any company, no matter its size, if you don't have followership, you will not get anywhere. 

[00:38:11] Hala Taha: I have a question for you. This is sort of personal. Like I said, I'm running a company, and I feel like if I like the employee, I'm really good at doing everything right, being personal, all this stuff.

If there's an underperformer, I have a really hard time taking the time or I don't know. And then I feel bad because I'm like, I'm not living in my values. I'm not being the best leader that I can. Because in the whole experience that they have with the company, I've got to be a good leader. So how do you deal with bad employees and still upholding your values as a leader?

[00:38:46] Ginni Rometty: I have found if you avoid that issue, they're just the worst it gets. I also believe I've been known for giving people too many chances, okay? So, that's the line, which is, if someone's not performing, why aren't they performing? In the time you take to both be honest with them, I find most people kind of skirt around the edges.

They're not really telling them what's good and what's bad, so part of what I found I got good at doing was in a very kind way, back to hard things in a positive way, but being direct. People feel I am actually very direct, but I do it in a way you can listen to it. That was that velvet hammer. So I think with the poor performer, you've got to be honest about it and then be clear about what you expect.

The flip of that is you say, I, I don't want to talk to him. I don't want to, if that doesn't change, you really do have to change them then. And I, like I said, I've been known for giving people too many chances. Part of me says, that's just who I am. I want to believe you can change, but there gets to be a certain point.

And I'll tell you one thing that I find people can't change on. If they actually don't believe something can be done, they won't do it. And that might be like a business. You might say. Look, we are going to do 50 podcasts in this timeframe. And the person's like, no way we're never going to, well, I guarantee you, they'll never do it if they believe no way it can ever be done.

So that's. The one thing I also learned that at a certain point, if someone really, like I said, no, the business has to perform at this level and they're like, no, I've never seen a business perform beyond. I'm like, you know what? They're never going to do it because they don't really in their heart believe it.

I got to move on. So my advice is as tough as it is, I, and a lot of people avoid those, don't want to do those conversations. I don't like them either by the way, but this gets to like the heart of this third tenant about know what should change and endures loving conflict. I learned to love conflict because It was going to get better one way or another after this.

If I avoided it, it just stayed bad. If I tackled it, sometimes it would get better or sometimes we'd have to part. And it was true with clients, employees, lots of situations like that. 

[00:40:53] Hala Taha: 

Ad Break 2 - 00hr 40m 57.91s



[00:41:01] Hala Taha: Let's talk about change and the need to be pivot nowadays.

Companies are pivoting all the time because technology is changing. Growing so fast. In 2011, right before you took over IBM, the company was also at a crossroads. Can you talk about what the company was facing and how you were able to pivot? 

[00:41:19] Ginni Rometty: Let me do it in a way, though, that I hope people listening can get something out of it, because who other than just learning IBM history, which who cares?

Of course. But it was. So 2011, You had mentioned we're over a hundred, what are we now, 112, 13 years old now. We've done actually fantastically well. The results would look fantastic. And behind us had been 15 years of companies growing like Amazon, Google, Facebook, just quietly moving up. And we'd done well in what I would call the prior generation, but we weren't prepared for the future.

Enter this is when I take over. And so the pressure for me to become something else, right, for the world, they're like, come on, IBM, change, you know, don't be a dinosaur, change. It was so intense and it was existential, meaning that IBM, just because you live a hundred years doesn't mean you'll be the next hundred years, could cease to exist.

So I felt that intensity hugely. I mean, I can remember the very first cover of fortune magazine, the headline turns out to be, can IBM ever be cool again? I'm like, super, super. This is how we start. So you try so much, do this, do that, do this as you try to modernize. But here's my lesson. I think good for any, especially actually for a, an entrepreneur, which is how this lesson got in retrospect, know what should change and what should endure.

So while you've got all these dynamics around you happening, and you're watching this company do this, and this one do this, and do this one do that, you try this, you try this, you try that, I can always remember, I had um, my little story here, it was a marketing system, we were selling to Marriott, and I called Arnie, who was the CEO, Arnie and I had kind of grown up together, great guy, who has now passed, but I said, Arnie, Arnie, you know, why aren't you going to give us this business, he's like, Jenny, why do you care about this, he's like, just be the best IBM you can be, He said, you run my property systems, my loyalty systems, why do you care about this thing?

And I'm like, you know, you're right. Why do I care about that? He said, you're the mission critical guy. And in that urge to respond to a really changing external environment, you can lose track of who you are. And I think this idea that know what you change, it's often easy to change everything, but what should endure, but be modernized.

Is the key and that would sort of lead me then down. I would divest of 10, 15 billion of businesses. I would go ahead and center us. We would make this acquisition of red hat. We are the mission critical guy and it would be a 30 billion at 35 billion acquisition. It would center and get rid of all this stuff on the side.

These are ornaments on a tree. I gotta care about the tree. You're going this way that way in because of that pressure that happens in this idea of being able to find another way through things. I would learn that and be the best you can be. As someone once said to me, Hey, look, Google make a horrible IBM and IBM make a horrible Google.

This is not what we are. And that is true. And so that to me in that those moments on one, it's what you do. So really know who you are. I didn't say it should never change. It should be modernized, but know what you are at your soul, at your core. There was a big other flip of a lesson, and I think most people overlook this right now.

Whenever you read anything about a company, a startup, it's always about what they do. How they do it could be as important. I mentioned that earlier. I would learn that the how was the harder part of the transformation, meaning I had to get a big company to be fast. I had to get a complex company to be simple, to be consumable.

I had to get the skills, two out of ten people had skills for the future, eight didn't. All that would be the hard part, actually. The portfolio, AI, and cloud, okay, we got firm on what we were in those areas, fine, but the big work was that other side, and so I don't think you should overlook how the work of your company gets done, because, I mean, like, I can remember, you It was clear the world goes so fast.

As you get bigger, you'll feel this. And, listen, I've interviewed with plenty of these startups that would be like, How do you hire 5, 000 people? You know, I'm like, I hire like, A lot more than that. But they, as they grow, all of a sudden process takes over and all these things start to happen. And I would say, for us, it was, we weren't fast enough.

And I would say, come on team, faster, faster. I'm sure that's what they thought my name was, faster. You know, like, and I have this image in my head after first two years, their tongues are hanging out and things aren't going faster. And I'm like, this is not their fault. We hire smart people. They don't wake up and go, hey, let's be slow at work today.

They do not. This is a product of the systems I put in place, the decision making, the layers, the this, the that, that's management's job. That is my job that's screwed up then. I have to simplify these things. 20 people can't make a decision, three, you know, duh, duh, duh. And this would lead us down agile design thinking, all stuff you do today in a normal business, but back then to do it for a half a million people was not common.

And so the short of that is pay attention to how work gets done in the skills of your people. The rest can kind of get unleashed and is normal, but that to me was the biggest thing about what had to change. 

[00:46:20] Hala Taha: Oh my gosh, it's such good advice. Really this is honestly one of my favorite interviews that I've had all year.

You're just giving such good practical advice. So let's talk about being stewards of good technology. You talked about AI. Tell us what we need to know about that. 

[00:46:38] Ginni Rometty: Okay, all I want you to know about this, I don't care how big or small you are right now, everybody's a tech company. That's how you got to look at it this way.

And if you're a tech company, you got to be a responsible tech company. And all that means is, Okay, fine. Use the technology. Take all the upside, but you better pay attention to the downside at the same time and guard against it. That's all I want you to do. And I have to say, I think social media is a perfect example of what went wrong.

We took all the benefit of the upside. We knew all the downsides. of social media for a very long time, but just now are we tackling them. So it's about doing them in parallel. So as an example now, generative AI, we all love, that's great, we're all gonna do this, but you better pay attention to disinformation, prepare people to use it, buy it, all the things, you gotta do it at the same time.

When I think of AI, I was a very early pioneer, so I'm 2012, the AI person of 2012. I had exactly the right idea, and I was exactly early. And even then, AI could do better than many humans at certain things. But I would learn that this technology, and it's still to be proven whether it's going to succeed, because it will be an issue of trust, actually.

It won't be about, the tech will be, it was even better then, it's better now, but will people trust it? And what I witnessed then was that if it can't be explainable, they don't trust it. If you're a doctor and you can't explain why is this the answer, if I'm a, an auditor or I'm a, an accountant or tells me this, or if you're a professional of any kind, your first question is, well, why is that the answer?

You want the why answer. Second thing I learned. You can't just throw AI on top of the current work because that's just more work. You got to re imagine how the work's done with people. Third thing I learned, the more important the decision you're going to use AI to help your customer with, the less their tolerance for error is.

So if it's healthcare, I'm telling you, even a decade ago, it was more right than most doctors. Some say, well, it's wrong 10 percent or 20 percent of the time. I'm like, how wrong do you think some doctors are? Okay. They are. They're wrong more than that. Your tolerance is so low for financial decisions, healthcare decisions.

This is why to me this is really about if we can get people to trust it. So whatever you do with it in your company, how you're going to use it, always have that in your mind. In my head I've formed like a framework, not in the book. I've given a lot of thought of this afterwards as I help people. And it's like so simple of a paradigm to think about it.

For one, if you're going to implement AI, I think the goal of the AI matters. A lot of people talk about efficiency. I think the goal of the AI should be to make Whatever it is, your people, your customers better. If the goal's that, you will approach it differently. I was at a session and someone said, who set the goals to replace all of mankind?

We get to determine the goal and then you act differently. Pick the right goal. Okay, so pick the right goal. The second thing is, co create a new way of working with your people. I mean, that's such an obvious thing, I'm telling you, you'll build trust in the process. Like, whenever you participate in something, then you trust it.

Okay, so co create. And then the third is, hold yourself liable. Audit yourself and hold yourself liable. Even if there's not a law. If you knew you were going to pay a huge financial penalty if it was wrong, act that way. If you do, it'll change what you do on the other side. And in the end, I do believe that may be the only way, with this generation of technology, We have to have people held liable for its misuse.

If they are, you'll see a different set of behavior around it and then it will be used for good. Even when we did, not that you care about quantum computing, but we've worked on quantum computing for probably 50 years and it's getting to its point of being mature now. But we always knew quantum could do really great things and quantum had a very dark underbelly.

Quantum computing can undo all of encryption. So everything we know to protect data, it can undo it. So what I mean by doing the good and the bad, we always worked on new encryption the same time we were working on quantum computing. That's internalizing what it means to do the plus and the minus at the same time.

[00:50:36] Hala Taha: So good. Such good advice. So for the individual out there. You talked a lot about what companies should do with AI. For the individual out there, how should we approach AI? 

[00:50:46] Ginni Rometty: I think a lot of that has to do with how it's introduced to them. I mean, I use it all the time. I find the most useful thing right now is to spark a new idea I might not have had, right?

Do you find, I mean, you must do 

[00:50:57] Hala Taha: I use chachibi, like, rephrase this in 10 ways or like stuff like that just to see what it comes up with. It's like having an intern. 

[00:51:05] Ginni Rometty: Yes, that's right. And by the way, I also know it's not right. I can remember when it first came out, I say, who is Mark Rometty? That's my husband.

And it told me all the things he did to run IBM. Okay. This is brand new. You know, his view is, Oh, someone's giving me credit for everything behind the scenes. Okay. Okay, not true right now. It's correct now when you ask it, but it's so funny to do this interview. I just the other day put in chat who's Mark comes back tells it it's still got stuff wrong in there Okay, after all this time stuff.

I know it's wrong stuff. I've told the media is wrong I did not go to General Motors Institute. I went to Northwestern. I can't get him to fix it So it just showed I mean look garbage in garbage out. So as an individual It's your attitude to not just trust everything you read. You have a responsibility to look for trusted sources, and I think that's the biggest piece of advice I'd give.

I'd use it as a thought starter, and I wouldn't trust everything I get. I'd use my judgment. Another reporter told me a great story. She had a five year old in London, in Kitty Garden, they were teaching the kids what's a trusted source, and I'm going to have this wrong, but the little exercise was the kids had to go write a report on a I don't remember what the animal was, a spider monkey or monkey spider or something like this.

Whatever it was does not really exist. But the kids were able to go out there and Google and find everything about this non existent animal and think it was real. And then the purpose of the article or the exercise for the kiddies was, see, this thing is not actually real, but you were convinced it is real.

And therefore, you know, know if you trust your sources of where it comes from, otherwise take it with a grain of salt, right? And just use it as input. 

[00:52:35] Hala Taha: Love that advice. Okay, so let's talk about resilience. What did being the CEO of IBM teach you about resilience? What can we learn from your experience?

[00:52:44] Ginni Rometty: Anything hard is really hard to do. This is why I wanted to talk about resilience, and I felt so strong about it because people are like, God, what you had to do for 10 years, how did you do this for 10 years? Two things. One had to do with relationships, and I would encourage everyone here. The point I want to make is Early in my life, I'm like, I don't have time for all these relationships.

I don't have time for this person or that person. I was the wrong attitude. I learned quickly because what those people do for you is they give you perspective you don't otherwise have. And the harder the stuff you do, the more you need other perspective. And I found that the more varied the relationships, like you mentioned about people don't always agree with, right?

And it wasn't the volume of time, it was the quality of the time I was with them. That often when I had tough problems. People would be like, oh, you're looking at that wrong, or why are we even looking at that? Or this, you know, I'd be like, that's right. It was a perspective I didn't have. So I feel resilience comes from all those varied relationships.

It could be my husband, my family, my friends, my work people. The more varied, the better. I have entertainment friends, all walks of life. And. I learned to make time for that, that that wasn't a luxury, that was oxygen, so you shouldn't feel guilty about that. It is what makes you able to thrive. So that was one.

And the second thing was your attitude. And this is, I think, probably obvious with my background, always a way forward. That's obvious. But I do think in your own attitude, there's a lot to do with only focus on what you can control. People will tell you that. I could learn to compartmentalize problems. I think that's essential, to compartmentalize them, and to love conflict, and most people don't like conflict.

And if I only could convince you, I mean, I learned it by watching people that they've always volunteered for the crummiest, difficult thing, and I thought, why are they doing this? But nine times out of ten, something was better on the other side. I watched, and I thought, this is kind of interesting. So I started to, instead of letting conflict eat at me, I would address it, head on.

It was so refreshing, and in nine times out of ten, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Something better happened. Something that was bad happening stopped happening. I mean, something good came out the other end of it. And this compartmentalized, this idea to say, okay, here's a problem. Do I have a plan? Yep. Okay.

In your mind, there's a picture. Put it up on a shelf, put it in a box, put it on a shelf, clear your mind to go on to the next thing. Versus let it just go in circles. So, I think. That all gives you resilience. If you're able to do those things. 

[00:55:24] Hala Taha: Compartmentalizing is so important. I know that when I first started being an entrepreneur for like two years, I never lost a client and then like I lost my first client and it was like so devastating and I thought I was so bad.

It really bugged me. Now, I understand that people have changing priorities. If somebody wants to take their social internal or what, it's not really even about me a lot of the times and I'm able to just. Put it aside, keep it moving, it is what it is. I just don't take it personal anymore, and I think as an entrepreneur, when you're first starting, you will take every single little thing personal, and you've got to just understand that.

Not everything's going to be perfect, and girl, just like a perfect straight line. 

[00:56:07] Ginni Rometty: No, it doesn't. But you know, it's nothing bad with taking things personal. People would say that to me, don't be personal about this. I'm like, well yeah, I care a lot about this, it is personal. that's good, but you can't let it eat at you, right?

So it is okay to be personal, like I hope in those clients, you did, you went and found out why they left. 

[00:56:23] Hala Taha: Of course. 

[00:56:24] Ginni Rometty: Sure enough, you found out it wasn't all the reasons you thought, it wasn't you always, right? So that kind of allowed you to move forward after that, because you're like, okay, I learned something out of this.

As far as I'm concerned, bad stuff, as long as you learn something, there's nothing bad that happens. Just move on then. Learn it, go. 

[00:56:39] Hala Taha: Well. Ginny, this was such an awesome interview. I highly recommend that everybody go get Good Power. I loved reading this book. I feel like I'm going to read it again just to make sure that I got everything out of it.

I loved learning from you. We end our show with two questions. The first one, and you can take this however you want. It doesn't even have to be about the topic of today's episode. You just answer it from your heart, okay? 

[00:57:02] Ginni Rometty: Okay. 

[00:57:03] Hala Taha: What is one actionable thing our young and profiters can do today to become more profitable tomorrow?

[00:57:09] Ginni Rometty: Learn something new. Unrelated. Doesn't matter. 

[00:57:12] Hala Taha: And what is your secret to profiting in life? And this can go beyond just business. 

[00:57:17] Ginni Rometty: Definitely it's resilience. It's just not giving up. I love a quote. It was, uh, Ann Richards was a governor of Texas, but someone asked her the secret of her success. And she said it was passion and perseverance when everyone else would have given up.

[00:57:33] Hala Taha: And you know what? I didn't get to ask you a question that I meant to and it was about networking because you talked so much about networking and you mentioned how a big reason why you were resilient is because you had support. And I feel like, especially as entrepreneurs, we tend to just work, work, work, work, work and forget about our relationships.

What's your best advice to having a healthy network of relationships? 

[00:57:54] Ginni Rometty: My best advice is just make the time for it. That it is not a selfish thing. Your company is going to be better because of it, and you're going to be a better leader because of it, and that is so true on so many points that if you can get over that, if you're better because of it, then the company will be better.

Same is true for when people ask me about work life balance, I would say companies will take everything, or your company will take everything you'll give. It's up to you to draw those boundaries, and don't feel guilty about it, because if you draw those boundaries, you will feel better about the work you do.

[00:58:28] Hala Taha: Amazing, Ginny. And where can everybody learn more about you and everything that you do? 

[00:58:32] Ginni Rometty: Well, LinkedIn, you'll find me out there. I still do my own there. Or at Ginny at GinnyRometty. com. 

[00:58:38] Hala Taha: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for joining us on Young Profiting Podcast. It was such a pleasure to have you on. 

[00:58:44] Ginni Rometty: Thank you, Hala.

You did a great job. Thank you. 

[00:58:46] Hala Taha: Young Improfiters, this was an interview that definitely surprised me. Ginny is awesome. I want her on my advisory board. I'm like, how can I work with this woman? She's so smart. She dropped so many gems and what an inspiring story. Ginny's mother taught her early on that you've got to define who you are.

And even when you think you have absolutely nothing, you still have the power to change your own situation. And as a woman in tech, Ginny had the deck stacked against her in so many ways. She didn't seem to really care or think about it much. She just put her head down and worked harder until she was the best prepared and most knowledgeable person in any room she was in.

And then she rose to the highest ranks in the corporate ladder. She was The CEO of IBM. What an incredible feat. And you've got to be a boss. You've got to have good power in order to get to those types of places. And she has so many wonderful insights and tips in terms of how we should approach our career and harness what she calls good power.

So here are some of my favorite pearls from this conversation. First you've got to run to your work, not run from it. A career is something you want to run towards. Something that you're passionate about. Everything else is just a job. Also, you've got to be a continuous learner. Make yourself into a constant apprentice who is always seeking new mentors to learn new skills.

You should be learning all the time, no matter how experienced you are. Next, networking. Ginny talked about this a lot. She said you should view networking as what you give to somebody else. It's about giving. If you're networking in a purely transactional sense, then you're doing it wrong. How can you serve others?

If you serve others, the law of reciprocity will come back to you, and they're going to help you in the future. You should also be seeking your own discomfort. All the time. Take on the jobs that might be a little bit too big for you. It's the only way you're gonna grow. Like Ginny said, growth and comfort never coexist.

Finally, don't plan every single aspect of your life just yet. Just let it unfold naturally. It's good to be thinking about the future, but don't let it cripple your present. Let it be that you can only have this straight path towards what you want, where you miss other opportunities to get towards where you want to go.

As long as you're learning and engaging, a new door will open up soon enough. And speaking of learning and engaging, if you listened, learned, and profited from this episode of Young and Profiting Podcast, then please, share it with somebody, spread this podcast by word of mouth. Networking is about giving after all and what better gift than a little knowledge and inspiration.

And if you did enjoy the show and you learned something, then please take a couple minutes to drop us a five star review on Apple Podcast. I love it when I read your reviews. It's super important for our social proof. And let me know your feedback, good and bad. I want to hear what you think about the show.

And if you're one of those folks who prefer to watch your podcast as videos, you can also find us on YouTube. Just look up Young and Profiting. You'll find all of our videos on there. And if you're looking for me, you can find me on Instagram at Yap with Hala or LinkedIn by searching my name. It's Hala Taha.

I also want to shout out my amazing production team. You guys are incredible and I'm so grateful for you all. This is your host Hala Taha, AKA the Podcast Princess, signing off. 

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