Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was recently interviewed by the Stanford Gradual School of Business. In the interview, he is asked the following question:
You are well known for having a very candid, open, and forthright style of communication. Warren Buffett has said he enjoys reading your chairman letters. What was it that led you to develop this style of communication early on?
Dimon: “Part of it was Warren Buffett. I read his partnership letters when I was in high school or college and he would say I’ll speak to you as if you’re my smart sister who doesn’t know everything I know so I have to go out of my way to explain it to you and business isn’t complicated. I always felt exactly the same way. I always felt as a matter of principle inside a company if I allow spinning to the public you are going to spin to me. And I don’t believe when things are bad during earnings calls and telling people how great we’re doing when we’re not and so I say the same thing to you that I say to my board, that I say to my shareholders, that I say to my employees, that I say to my customers. That clarity I think helps a company know what it’s trying to accomplish.”
[Dimon also looks for this same characteristic in young leaders]
When you meet with younger professionals at JPMorgan, what leadership characteristics are you looking for?
Simon: “Just basic stuff. There are people that say they know a lot. There are people that walk in your office and say, yeah I’d like to know about the strategy of the company and they didn’t bother to read the Chairman’s letter I wrote which is like 30-40 pages long. There are people that walk in and say, ‘You know you really should be thinking about doing better digital services’, but didn’t look at the ones we do. Then there are people that walk in and they know everything and when you have a conversation with them they’re actually enhancing your life as opposed to the other way around. We look for character. That they tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth, they don’t shave the truth, and they say the same thing to you that they say to others. The second I see someone saying something different to different people I have no interest.”
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