Robert Greifeld served as the CEO of Nasdaq from 2003 to 2016. During his tenure, Bob led Nasdaq through a series of complex, innovative acquisitions that extended the company’s footprint from a single U.S. equity exchange to a global exchange and technology solutions provider, nearly quadrupling revenue, growing annual operating profits by more than 24 times and achieving a market value of over $11 billion. Bob is a member of the Economic Club of New York and the NYU Stern Board of Overseers. He is Founder and Chairman of the USA Track & Field Foundation, which supports emerging athletes and inner-city youth athletics.  He is the author of a new book called: Market Mover: Lessons from a Decade of Change at Nasdaq. 

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

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The Learning Leader Show

“Balance is a dangerous word.  I prefer having an integrated life instead.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • “Once you achieve competency, they’re on a daily battle with complacency.”
    • Always looking forward – never resting on laurels
    • A mindset that: “Success in the past is no guarantee that success will happen in the future.”
  • Self reflection is important for self awareness: “Being focused on the present doesn’t preclude self reflection.”
  • Has being rich made you happy?  “Wealth makes you more secure?”
  • How to balance family time and work time?
    • “Balance is a dangerous word.  I prefer having an integrated life instead.”  “I made a rule that I did no business dinners unless I was doing the selling.”
    • Make multiple short trips instead of longer ones… Only miss seeing your family for a day or two at a time
  • Bob describes the story of how he was recruited to NASDAQ and why he took the job…
    • During the interview process, he shared the five things he would do within the first 100 days:
      • Get right people on board
      • Reduce bureaucracy
      • Embrace fiscal discipline
      • Overhaul technology
      • Stop being satisfied with number 2
    • Have to have the right people on the bus
      • Bob met with many people prior to starting as the CEO of NASDAQ:  “I fired a lot of people before 8:00am on the first day I started.  I did a lot of work prior to starting to learn who was going to buy in.”
      • “Good morale in a bad organization is not a good thing.”
  • With promotions, live by the 80/20 rule: “We tried to promote 80% from within our organization.”
    • “When interviewing people from the outside, the odds of being wrong are higher.”
    • Qualities to look for in people to promote:
      • Positive attitude/energy — “Happy campers”
      • Pure skills
      • How well do they play with others?
      • Won’t tolerate prima donnas
  • How to be a great leader?
    • Must be in front of your customers
    • Stand in the shoes of your people
    • Do a lot of individual contributor work
    • “Don’t be a conference room pilot” — Don’t spend all your time in meetings
  • Learned knowledge vs. Lived knowledge
    • Learned: “Don’t know what’s coming, you just learned it.”
    • Lived: “You’ve sat in the seat, you can see around corners.”
  • Acquisitions:
    • Geography – If location is near us, that helps
    • Industry – If it’s the same industry, just smaller, that helps
  • Overall advice:
    • Never had a career path or end goal
    • Wanted to do something that energized me
      • “I’ll do that job well.”
    • “Don’t focus on climbing the mythical career ladder.”
    • “Don’t take a job to just get another job.”
  • Why leave NASDAQ?
    • “I like controlling my schedule.”
  • The benefits of growing up with blue collar parents.  His dad worked for the Post Office, he was always upbeat and believe that life can be better.
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

“Don’t focus on climbing the mythical career ladder. Don’t take a job just to get the next job.”

More Resources:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership