Royce George, Global Business Leader, talks with Steve about capitalism and the core values of leadership.
Episode with guests: Royce George
Executive Assistant at SRC Holdings
(This episode was recorded in June of 2021.)
Key Episode Take-Aways:
1. Capitalism should and must work in any society - by definition, it exist to benefit an empowered society. (click to jump to this topic below) does capitalism work or not work? My answer is capitalism should and must work in any cultural context. If by definition, it exists to benefit and empower society in the society. That being said, I think one just needs to be sensitive to the context that one is in.
2. All business leaders who think they are leaders should go and work in a not for profit, it's very humbling. (click to jump to this topic below) what you see is that in the not-for-profit world, they're not as aggressive as the for-profit world, they're much more laid back more sensitive. What I think every business leader who thinks he's a leader and doesn't know he has a chip on his shoulder, needs to go and work in a not for profit. True leadership in a not for profit is very humbling.
3. Great Game methodology is a business venture that can showcase true capitalism by being a blessing and benefit to society. (click to jump to this topic below) And I'm like, is there a methodology that that depicts true capitalism? Is that a business venture that can actually showcase true capitalism, by definition of being a blessing and a benefit to society. And so, to me, if that what one was looking for considering that capitalism seem to be all over the map? What did this true capitalism look like? What are the processes? So, what did it require? What leadership did it require? I'm just so overwhelmed when I found it in the Great Game of Business.
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
The "Change the Game" Podcast is sponsored by Prairie Capital Advisors, helping businesses think forward. For more information, visit prairiecap.com/ggob. That's prairiecap.com/ggob.
Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast, where we share stories of open book management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast with special guests. Royce George. In this episode Royce talks about capitalism and the core values of leadership. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.
Steve Baker 0:51
Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast where we are changing the game by doing business differently and highlighting stories of capitalism at its best. I'm Steve Baker with the Great Game of Business and co-author with Rich Armstrong of our new book, Get in the Game: How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. I am really excited about our special guest today, Royce George. Royce is an accomplished global business leap year with a reputation for motivating team from across industry segments and tearing down walls created by traditional command and control management styles and toxic work culture. This is going to be fun Royce. Welcome to the podcast.
Royce George 1:29
Thank you, Steve. pleasure and a privilege to be here.
Steve Baker 1:32
Well, I think it's our privilege, I got to say when I heard about you, I couldn't believe your diverse background. I'm very interested to learn more and, and maybe we can share some of that with our listeners. I know you grew up in India, and you're there right now talking to us from Bangalore, you started out as an engineer by training, but once you really started your journey into management, you literally and figuratively took flight. So, can you tell us about your background?
Royce George 2:00
Yes. Like you said, Steve, I grew up in India, did my engineering in electronics have worked for a few years in India. And when I came out with electronics, that was a time when computers were just coming into India. So, I wanted to be a hardware engineer. But my neighbor was a very senior person in the organization. He said Royce, you more people kind a guy. I don't think I think you'll get tired of putting nuts and bolts and motherboards together. So maybe you should look at sales, business development. So rather reluctantly, I got into that. But I'm so glad I did. I had the privilege of working in two different industries, primarily importing electronic testing equipment, those were the years when India didn't have too much of forex. And so, two major industries could, you know, import equipment. One was the defense in the Space Research Organization. So, I worked with them. And then for a bit I worked in the agricultural sector with tea and coffee industries are importing stuff because they could export, and they got money. So that was my time in India, then as a family, we moved to the Gulf to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. And I worked again in two startup companies. The first was for three years where I kind of felt my way around, you know, getting to understand the culture while doing work. The second one was, I did a long stretch for 10 years where I joined an organization headed by a local, who was also a diplomat, he had 20 other divisions. So, I started the training first. And over a 10-year period, it really grew, you know, to 13 million. I enjoyed, again, learning things about that place and culture, then finally moved to Canada, where I ended up being the head of a not for profit, charitable organization that sent professionals from educational and medical backgrounds primarily to serve in Asia and the Arab world. So, I traveled around seeing things. And yeah, so my journey has been both informational, and maybe in a sense, philosophy come to
Steve Baker 4:18
know I love it. I mean, you've seen business from all different sides plus through all these different cultures. So, I want to ask about the cultural side. But first, the first thing I heard about you was that you talk about capitalism in context. Can you talk about that a little bit.
Royce George 4:34
Yeah. You know, I'm not a major in economics. As an engineer. My definition of capitalism is just two things, that it's free market, and it's owning and managing private property. So, within that definition, when I look at the business world, which powers the economic system of a society, you know, most people would say There are different arenas that influence society, education, religion, media, art, but the real power of society comes from the business world. That's the economic power. So, when I look at the way capitalism works, I look at it in India and I see one model of why one way of doing business, then I come to the Arab world, I see a different way of doing business, I come to me look at the Western world, and like, this is crazy. For example, let me just take salaries. In India, maybe those days, the ratio between the highest paid and the lowest paid maybe 10. To one, you move into the Gulf, it's 30-40, to one,
Steve Baker 5:43
Royce George 5:43
Come to the west, and you're like, what's wrong here? The CEOs are paid in the stratosphere, why companies go bankrupt, and people are laid off, I'm like, this makes no sense. So that bothered me. And I wanted to see what is real capitalism mean, and, you know, I knew if capitalism existed to benefit society, then there must be a basis for capitalism. So, I looked back. And interestingly, I found capitalism to be 3500 years old. I repeat that 3500 years old. I only say that, because my readings, say that capitalism started between 600 to 1280, with the added traders, but to me, it was when the nation of Israel moved from Egypt, into, you know, into their property into Canaan. And they are asked to own and manage and run business, you know, whatever they own property for the benefit of the neighbor. So, to me, pro capitalism, empowers society, to calculate capitalism, benefits one's neighbor. In other words, if it benefits one's neighbor, it benefits the community, it benefits the society. If it doesn't do that. That's not true capitalism.
Steve Baker 7:06
I love it. Well, that fits right into Jack Stacks vision of capitalism, because he sees there's a brighter side to capitalism, which is not just make money and generate cash, of course, that's the objective of any organization for profit or not for profit, you've got to fund the thing. And then, you know, he sees beyond it, he sees the people side, which is if we can teach everyone the secret, which in our case is, you know, those financials really are the secret language of business. And if we can empower people with that knowledge, he believes, and we do, too, because we live it every day teaching companies how to teach their people, we think that if people do better at work, they do better at home. And if they do better at home, they do better in their community. And that's proved out time and time again, here at SRC, I know that I think we have over 100 executives and managers that are board level directors at not for profits in our community alone. And that's amazing to me, because how else can you impact your corner of the world, that's the best way is to grass roots, I love it. I love it when you tie together for the benefit of your neighbor, because it isn't just the few the enrichment of the few, it's the enrichment of the many. And that makes for a much better life. So, with that, in mind, let's talk about some of the different cultures that you've worked in. You've mentioned India and the Gulf and Canada. And so, you've got kind of east to west, really, in that whole gamut. How, does capitalism work and not work? If I if I'm saying that in a way that makes sense. I mean, there's we've just established there's different kinds of capitalism, or different maybe levels or there's a spectrum at least. So, tell me Best-Worst case that you've seen?
Royce George 8:54
To answer the first question,
1. Capitalism should and must work in any society - by definition, it exist to benefit an empowered society.
does capitalism work or not work? My answer is capitalism should and must work in any cultural context. If by definition, it exists to benefit and empower society in the society. That being said, I think one just needs to be sensitive to the context that one is in. So, for example, Indians or I must say, India is not a homogeneous unit, we could actually call ourselves the United States of India. As you know, the United States in that sense, however, that being said, primarily, Indians are more shy, the diffident, very respectful of the elders. And so, you know, they are not aggressive. They may do aggressive, passive aggressive behavior at times.
Steve Baker 9:58
Don't we all?
Royce George 9:58
You know, generally speaking That's how they work. So, one needs to be sensitive to that, in that context, when you come to the Arab, or at least my experience was in the United Arab Emirates primarily, Dubai, when that's really interesting to see, because in the United Arab Emirates 20% of the population or the local population 80% are migrants from all over the world, come and run the businesses. So, if you take the traditional Arab is a very respectful, hospitable person. And it's hilarious at times to know that when the western comes in, and I used to deliberately the Westerner comes in to meet with the Arab, you know, the Arab world, possibly give them a drink, which is called GABA, and then he will begin to chat and he will ask questions like, how are you? And how's your family? And how's your cattle? And what news do you have about the US? What do you think of the weather? And all along the western is surreptitiously looking at the watch under the table thinking? When do I get the chance to do my 32nd elevator speech?
Steve Baker 11:07
Royce George 11:09
So, it's really interesting, in that sense, when you come into the business world, most of the business is done by immigrants from different parts of the world, with one focus to make as much money they can before they get booted out of the country. So, cultures will be as different as the number of businesses that exist. And the key, I think, is where in any culture, I think capitalism works, depending on the leadership, leadership will define the quality of that business or that caring venture.
Steve Baker 11:49
I get it, I agree. And I love how you put that into context for me, because it is, it's very important for us to recognize those cultural differences. But when we get right down to it, you can have different cultures, but it's the culture we set, as leaders that really makes all the difference. So, we think speaking of leadership, we think that it can be taught, we believe that it should be taught. Some people say that people are just born leaders, and I don't disagree with it. But I really think that the stuff I've learned about leadership has definitely been taught and learned. In my case, what are some of the things that you see as core or key to teaching leadership and what makes it really work?
Royce George 12:37
I completely agree with you that leaders are made not born. All those born leaders have chips on their shoulders and are difficult to deal with at times. I like the way John Maxwell defined leadership. He said a leader is one who has voluntary coerce people voluntarily following him. What that means is, people follow someone who they believe will take them to where he is promised that he will take them. And so, you know, in that sense, I think that the character of the leader, the credibility of the leader, the competence of the leader, are factors that are key to being a good leader.
Steve Baker 13:35
When we think about these leads, no thanks for reminding me of John Maxwell, because he he's definitely a guru of leadership. I totally agree. I think people tend to follow someone who's inspiring, rather than, you know, threatening or, you know, on top of it. So oftentimes, I think Jack through the years have said, I hate being a boss. I don't like being a manager, because nobody likes a boss. They do like to be led. They don't want to be forced somewhere. And I think that our world definitely is in need of serious leadership. But that's not this program. Oh, we I mean, the thing is, could we have someone inspire us all that would be amazing, right? When we talk about the principles and the practices, the Great Game of Business, do you see them shaping or helping to shape the culture of an organization?
Royce George 14:25
Oh, absolutely. I have no words to describe how I felt when I when I read the book, Great Game of Business and the book Get in the Game. Well, the first book knocked me off my chair a bit. The other one floored me after that. Cheers. Amazing. Oh, it, as I thought about it. As I read about, I realized that not everybody, not every business venture will be able to the big game of business and why do I say that? Simply because the key here is leadership and a value-based process. So, if the owner or the businessperson is unable to buy in to being a servant leader or being humbled isn't going to work. And to me, You, I Love the power of the GGOB, in the sense that it separates if I might use the word, the wheat from the chaff.
Steve Baker 15:33
I would agree with you. So, could you elaborate on that a little bit when you because you've seen it from all different sides from a for profit side? a not-for-profit side? But I know, well, maybe I shouldn't project my feelings onto you. Tell me what you've seen in for profit and not for profit? Because I bet you've seen or tried to apply Great Game of Business in both have you had successes on both sides?
Royce George 16:06
Well, I've learned a lot on both sides. What in terms of for profit, and not for profit? the for profit is very clear, in its objective, at least one objective bottom line. And so, you know, it gives at least focus and people can be aggressive. But in a not for profit, you, you don't have a true bottom line. In that sense. You're based on the objective or the not for profit, you're trying to look at what is the impact that you have. You have, you know, carried out in society. And oftentimes that is a difficult measuring process. And so that,
2. All business leaders who think they are leaders should go and work in a not for profit, it's very humbling.
what you see is that in the not-for-profit world, they're not as aggressive as the for-profit world, they're much more laid back more sensitive. What I think every business leader who thinks he's a leader and doesn't know he has a chip on his shoulder, needs to go and work in a not for profit. True leadership in a not for profit is very humbling.
Steve Baker 17:22
That is a great takeaway right there. Every leader should work at some point at a not for profit, that's interesting Royce. Because I've told all of my three kids, that the one thing that they need to do is work at a factory, they need to do it for a summer or something as they're going to school, they just need to know that what that feels like, and then want to do more. And there's nothing wrong. We have 2000 people in our factories here. And we're trying to build leaders all the time. But it's not about the factory work. It's about becoming the best version of yourself. And so that was my stupid way of trying to teach my kids that, hey, I want you to want more. But you got to know what this feels like. Right? And through the years. I mean, I've seen a lot of different examples. But I think you're right, I think a leader should really understand a good leader should understand all levels of an organization. And in this case, by putting them into a not-for-profit mode, they get to see what it's like to be mission driven, instead of just objective driven. And that's a big difference. Let's talk about that a little bit. Have you been able to through the years in different organizations? Have you been able to tie mission and objective together so that people followed you? Royce?
Royce George 18:45
I have looked at how to if I go back, I believe in people. I believe that the value of an organization is in people. So, I've always worked to empower the people I work with. So, you know, when I set up that whole business unit in Dubai, for example, if I take a for profit exam, by having worked with them, 10 years, built it. On the day, prior to flying out of Canada, flying out to Canada. The first tech I hired came over to say bye to me. And as he was leaving, he's a six-foot huge guy. He just prostrated on the floor before me, and my wife jumped up wondering What was that all about? So, I told her that's okay, so held his hand build him up and he had tears in his eyes as he walked out. And I said that's his way of saying I respect you. I appreciate you.
Steve Baker 19:44
That is wow, that must have been powerful to experience.
Royce George 19:49
I still remember that scene.
Steve Baker 19:51
Well, man, I asked what culture he came from because to prostrate prostate oneself is very it's a big move.
Royce George 20:00
Yes, it is a very Indian act of respect for an elder, you normally that if you, you know, come into the presence of an elder, but you wouldn't do that in the business setup, you wouldn't do that, you know. So that was his way of saying, you changed my life.
Steve Baker 20:18
Well, that's what it's all about is changing lives. So, you know, we have been working on that for years I've been here for 15 years, Rich has been here for 30. And it is pretty amazing to be able to be able to say that we're making things so we're the economic engine, or we're part of the bigger economic engine of society, but we're also teaching them something that the schools and the families are not, which is about how money works, and how you can better yourself in society and improve not only your family's lives, but your community. That is pretty fulfilling, I've got to say, and I sense that you have also had a very fulfilling career professionally. And on the side of changing lives. Can you talk a little bit about more of those stories? Like you just mentioned?
Royce George 21:09
Eh, well I.
Steve Baker 21:11
Let me let me rephrase that, Royce. Please share with us more and know that we aren't going to take it as anything but a humble guy who doesn't want to talk about it being forced to talk about it by podcaster.
Royce George 21:26
I'll give you another example. You know, when we were doing this business, we were in the construction industry doing what we call extra low voltage projects, we got a major audit, close to 2 million. And the challenge in the United Arab Emirates is that you they I always say why is it that they put out the tender at 10pm, expect you to close it at 10:30. And then they want you to finish the work at 11 o'clock when they had all this time. But that's how it works. So, we had to stand there which had a huge liability clause. And when you know, amongst the other projects, we had to execute this at speed. So, and I knew I didn't have enough manpower resources. So, I told my tech guys, I said, go out and pick up laborers from the, you know, standing on the streets, and just finish it, I didn't really get hit with this liability. So, we finished the project on time, or rather ahead of time. And we picked quite a few. And we found three of them really good. So, I kept them in another project. Anyway, at the end of the year, we had a great bonus. And I had to send the bonus worksheet based on the formulas used to the corporate office. So, I send the bonus sheets to the corporate office. And the man, the financial controller from the corporate office called me and says I see three names here. We're not on the employee payroll. I said, That's right. The people I picked up from the street. He says company policy does not allow us to pay bonuses to non-employees. So, I said, yes, I know the policy. But I have justice to say that if those three had not worked their butts off into running a bonus, I'd be paying a liability class. And I want you to know that the book that I read, says very clearly do not muscle, the oxen that process corn. And that's the principle of why I want to pay them. I won the battle.
Steve Baker 23:31
That's fantastic, especially with a large company that has very strict policies. That is wonderful. So, when you I assume that those folks were really surprised by that bonus and very thankful.
Royce George 23:44
Steve Baker 23:46
That's awesome. We hear a lot of stories like that Royce. It's just powerful to think about leaders that that really value their people, as you've said, they're the real true value of an organization anyway, right now we know that there's a work for talent, you cannot get enough people we have over 100 openings here at SRC. And every single client that we have, tells us the same story. We know how do I become the employer of choice? How do I find people any thoughts for our audience?
Royce George 24:18
I want the leaders to know that if in every human heart of three things, they seek they seek security. They seek success, and they also seek significance and all the three matters. And I think as a leader, you need to be a man of whom they can trust because trust is dynamic. You could be trustworthy yesterday, do something foolish today and drop your trust. You need to have a servant leader heart and you really need to think through what Stephen Covey said. Did you know you need to learn to live to love and leave behind a legacy? And I think one needs to take time to think through those things.
Steve Baker 25:07
That's very good.
Royce George 25:09
And the question is, what is your legacy?
Steve Baker 25:11
Yeah. And that's significance. That is, as I said, such the part of fulfillment that people often think money will bring. And in fact, it is quite the opposite. So that brings me to my questions about you're not for profit side, you've been involved in not for profits through the years. But tell me a little bit about that journey, if you would, the kind of the what and the why.
Royce George 25:37
I must say that when I, it was probably providential that I moved into not for profit, because I was in a new country, and in a new world, in that sense, or not in an industry that I was that I knew before. So initially, it was very confusing. But, you know, as I traveled around watching the work people did, it helped me to ask fundamental questions about earlier my trajectory, or based on the earlier two books, I'd read in a way back in the 90s 1980s, I read the book In Search of Excellence, when Peter Peters Yeah, and that kind of launched me into, I need to see what excellence is all within the concept of the business world. But when I started to move into the not-for-profit world, and so, you know, and especially they were focused on the fringes of society, that those who are marginalized, how do we lift them up? And as I, you know, worked in that field, the question that came back to me was that if economy is what powers a society, what business model will work in an urban center that will power society? And in a sense, I think, my search for finding what I call the wine skin of business, I used the word wine skin of business because in my, you know, I struggled with a new business metrics existed, I knew, you know, Patrick Lencioni, and all the others talk about culture and culture. And I'm like, God is no way this tool can work. And so, when I, you know, so that took me reading, as I'm working in the nonprofit world. And so, when I finally found these two books, I just fell off my chair, I'll be honest,
Steve Baker 27:40
That’s very flattering. You got to explain wine skin to me.
Royce George 27:46
Oh, what I struggled with was, he said, in a sense, when you look to measure metrics, you are looking to, you know, there's a process of measuring metrics, and then they try to teach you culture and core values. And often they, you know, as everybody would say, culture flows way down. And my experience was that, while a lot of leaders, you know, bought into culture and core values, culture, by the time it flowed all the way down, it was either diluted, or it, you know, it didn't reach down there, it was depleted. So, I was looking for I said, is there a way or a process, where if you have to put this process into play, it needs to have core values built into the process? And I'll be honest, I thought it didn't exist for a long time. I'm like, to the point, you know, when I spoke with dad, and I said, Dad, where are you guys? I've been searching for years. Where were you guys?
Steve Baker 29:03
That's the question. Jack Stack wakes up in a cold sweat every night at midnight, because why doesn't everybody know about this? That's a good question. Royce, we're working on it, man, let me tell you. So, tell me define for me the wine skin because I'm trying to. I tried to put that into that analogy into my brain.
Royce George 29:27
Okay. You see, why did I say wine skin? Because you know, there's a statement that new wine needs a new wine skin.
Steve Baker 29:37
Royce George 29:37
And I'm like,
3. Great Game methodology is a business venture that can showcase true capitalism by being a blessing and benefit to society.
is there a methodology that that depicts true capitalism? Is that a business venture that can actually showcase true capitalism, by definition of being a blessing and a benefit to society. And so, to me, if that what one was looking for considering that capitalism seem to be all over the map? What did this true capitalism look like? What are the processes? So, what did it require? What leadership did it require? So, what are the different ingredients that held this thing together?
Steve Baker 30:18
Royce George 30:19
Oh, so and I'm just so overwhelmed when I found it in the Great Game of Business.
Steve Baker 30:28
Now Royce Well said, and thanks for being patient with me. So, I'm going to repeat it back. That's how I learned. If I remember correctly, in the old texts, it was, you know, don't put new wine in an old wine skin for it will burst and that sort of thing. So, you're saying the new idea of business, kind of its money, its people, it's both needed a new structure that wines skin is the Great Game holding those things together. There were there's values and capitalism together. Thanks for that explanation in the analogy, I've officially just co-opted it and stolen it from you. So, I'll be using that a lot.
Royce George 31:03
You are most welcome. And I can give you a sitting and thinking how would I define the Great Game of Business? And so, here's my definition, an explosive fusion of clear, bottom-line metrics, and great top of the line culture components, resulting in empowered employees and sustainable successful businesses.
Steve Baker 31:41
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. So, let's talk about that for a second. How do we take that wonderful definition that you've just laid out for us? And how do we help global businesses engage and empower their employees more?
Royce George 31:57
I firmly believe in monkey see monkey do. And I think I'd love to see Great Game of Business labs, in major countries in the world. How do we get there may be another day story, but I believe we will get there? I believe you will get there because as people hear about the Great Game of Business and buy in, they want, they want to see hey, why can't I do that too? Why can't I leave behind a legacy? That many will talk about?
Steve Baker 32:35
Yeah, Love it. Love that vision. So, tell me what is happening with you. Next, Royce? what's next on your agenda of awesomeness?
Royce George 32:46
Ah, you know, I've been on a search for finding the wine skin of true capitalism having found it what I'd love to do my legacy, as I would like to see it is to ask people which have already started doing friends who are businesspeople here or business connections. I want to ask them, have you ever heard of ownership thinking? Do you know what that means? And how it works. And so just to get the people to agree, I was talking to a guy who was a big headhunter in India placing different companies and he hadn't heard about ownership thinking. I'm like, Yeah, I got my job cut out.
Steve Baker 33:37
That's awesome. Will it be great to have you on the big, Great Game of Business community worldwide helping to spread the word? So, you know, the last question that we always ask guests on the podcast is, what is the question we should be asking you Royce.
Royce George 33:58
How did you feel when you found the Great Game of Business?
Steve Baker 34:03
Okay, how did you feel when you found the Great Game of Business?
Royce George 34:08
I know what I was overbearing. I thought that wine skin did not exist. It does. I'm so glad I found.
Steve Baker 34:25
I am to man. Well, you are an inspiring guest and friend of the Game we sure appreciate you and I look forward to talking with you again. What do you think that you know, if folks wanted to reach out to you how would they reach you Royce?
Royce George 34:40
Folks can reach me at Royce.George@gmail.
Steve Baker 34:46
Perfect. Well, Royce George, thank you so much for being with us. It's a huge pleasure and just really enjoyed speaking with you. Let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories. Your best practices, ideas, challenges, and of course, your victories because that is capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time.
The "Change the Game" podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com.
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