Kevin Robert’s 64 Shots: An Inspiring, Authentic and Riveting Book on Being a Leader in “Today’s Crazy World”
June 21, 2016
By Tammy Sachs, CEO
I had the sheer luck of hearing Kevin Roberts, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi speak not just once (when he wrote Love Marks) but twice when discussing his new book 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World. I dislike management books almost as much as listening to talks about how to lead. Turns out with few exceptions (Peter Drucker being one) so does he.
Roberts uses his British/New Zealand heritage to serve up unfiltered, un-PC and unbelievably wise stories that weave in hilarious and momentous encounters with world leaders in politics, sports and business. He draws on all that has informed his thinking to transform ours. It is 64 shots of adrenalin, inspiration, affirmation and a GPS for starting and leading an organization where whatever you planned yesterday is likely to be toppled over by today’s events.
During his talk, he posed several questions which got all of us thinking deeply. The audience, invited by Shirley Moulton, founder of The Academi of Life, and a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO) included many female CEOs as well as male. The talk, like the book, is intimate, incredibly generous and gives you hope that it is possible to lead in a world where VUCA (a military acronym) Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous becomes Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding through Robert’s lens. Some of the questions he poses:“What one word defines you?” (like Springsteen is “The Boss”), “When are you at your best?”, “What won’t you do?” and “What is your five year dream?” He points out that most of us don’t give ourselves permission to dream about our personal vision. Rather, we tend to focus our energy on employees, clients, stakeholders, stockholders, family and just about everyone else first. He charms you into digging within to find answers to these questions as a leader is one with a clear, compelling and purposeful vision that galvanizes the engagement of others.
The book has chapters that are short, high impact and high voltage, hence “shots.” They’re peppered with memorable quotes, constructs, re-framing and permission to be well, crazy – and what he terms “radically” optimistic. As with Love Marks, his talk and his book is infused with emotional language you don’t typically hear in business. His wisdom on how to hire, inspire, foster a culture and the role of a leader in today’s crazy world is like a bowl of incredibly delicious “a bit of everything noodle” soup. It is full of things you’d never expect, memorable and one that you can’t devour fast or often enough and want to share with others.
As a huge proponent of differentiating a product or brand by truly understanding your audience, one of my favorite of his lines was “If you want to study tigers, go to the jungle, not the zoo.” Listening carefully and observing your customer in their natural habitat – experiencing how they feel and behave on a sensory level — uncovers rich insight that you can’t get in a survey or by dissecting big data. It is where innovation and opportunity live.
My biggest take away: on days when even Bill Maher’s bitingly brilliant rendition of events don’t hit my reset button or when the cover of the WSJ is overtaken by reality stranger than fiction (and derails our collective peace of mind as well as that of the markets),there is an alternative. Turn off the TV. Resist the urge to read the headlines. Open up to any chapter of 64 Shots and get a hit or many of wisdom from a guy who thrives on navigating and inspiring the rest of us to lead in today’s crazy world. His toolkit is as invaluable, energizing and transformative as listening to him speak. If you have the opportunity, grab it! You’ll thank him as all of us did.