Tough Things First Podcast
The Tough Things First podcast is where you receive short bursts of Ray Zinn’s leadership, executive and entrepreneur’s wisdom. Tough Things First podcasts are typically five minutes long, giving you one important concept to ponder for the rest of the day.
The outlook for businesses in the U.S. is in flux, and the climate may be right to entice some companies to bring off shore manufacturing back. Tough Things First guest host Rob Artigo, talks with Ray Zinn and Ray’s former employee, Paul Moore, to get an idea of what it will take to bring those businesses back.
Managing your workforce and worker’s pool. In this edition of Tough Things First, Ray Zinn is host to David Williams, successful entrepreneur and author, to discuss the challenges and benefits of modern hiring.
Ray Zinn: Thank you ever so much for joining me today. So this is Dave Williams of Fishbowl, and a great author and a contributing writer for Forbes. And this is Ray Zinn of “Tough Things First.”
If I look back at the history of my company, I would say that 95 percent of all the people that we terminated were RIFed, Reduction In Force, as opposed to actually firing because they didn’t perform.
David Williams: Utah, where we’re centered, it’s the technology bed of the universe; at least in the Western Hemisphere. Per capita, we’re extremely competitive, extremely entrepreneurial. There’s a lot of West Coast, East Coast, out of the country companies that are settling into this area because there’s three universities that pump out incredible graduates. The cost of living and the cost of doing business in Utah versus the coast is so much more manageable that a lot of people have chosen this as a great hub for them to move either their headquarters or to have a major regional presence here.
Ray Zinn: Maybe you’ll become the Silicon Valley of the mountains.
David Williams: Well, it’s actually called Silicon Slopes. You probably know that from having been out here, they call this area Silicon Slopes. Because of the mountains, and because of Silicon Valley, it’s not a valley, it’s The Slopes.
Ray Zinn: You do have a valley, but you could be called, Silicon Utah Valley, or something.
David Williams: Yeah, there is a formal organization and newspaper and web presence called the Silicon Slopes that has put a label on this area and all the companies that reside here.
My point is, back to your point, the mean age of my employees is maybe 27, 28ish. I hire a lot of 22, 23, 24 year old individuals out of school, and they often become trainers, that go onsite to companies. So you have a 25, 26, 28 year old male or female going out all over the world [inaudible 00:03:04] for companies. I don’t lose people. People often ask me, “What’s your turnover rate?” And I say, “Maybe one a year?” That’s just unheard of in …
Ray Zinn: That’s incredible.
David Williams: Especially when we’re … all the accolades that we receive as a company and then my people get headhunted, it seems like daily. So, how do you keep a good employee a long time? The point being is, how do we keep our people in the company?
I just wrote an article this week on how to stay in a company forever, and why a young person should not job hop. And why it’s beneficial to [inaudible 00:03:53] a period of time.
Ray Zinn: I wrote a little blog on that myself, so you and I are singing on the same sheet of music.
David Williams: Yeah.
Ray Zinn: The thing with your company though, David, is that your average employee is 27, but by the time you’re Micrel’s age, 37 years, you’re going to be in your 50’s.
David Williams: Yeah.
Ray Zinn: Especially if you don’t have any turnover, and if they stay with the company. That’s what happened to me. My people, according to my board, got long in the tooth. When I hired them, they were in their 20’s. Because we kept them, because we didn’t RIF a lot of people, and because we were so tenacious about being a people oriented company, they stuck with us, they stayed with us. They were having grandchildren by the time the company was 37 years old.
David Williams: Yeah. So cool.
Ray Zinn: [crosstalk 00:04:43] When you get to your 30 and 40 years as a company, you’re going to have some pretty old employees.
David Williams: Absolutely. Even 15 years old as a company, looking around and seeing a lot of the same faces as I started with is really rewarding. I can’t even imagine what 30-35-40 years [crosstalk 00:05:02] must feel like, Ray.
Ray Zinn: I had a friend who recently, he’s 63 years old, he recently interviewed at Google. You can’t ask you for your age, but as soon as he walked in the door and they saw him, they basically excused him. They’re not hiring anybody over 45. Google’s only maybe less than ten years old. For crying out loud. What’re they gonna do? They’re just gonna RIF their work force every five years.
David Williams: Yes. Yes they do.
Ray Zinn: That’s a shame. How are you going to build loyalty and trust if you’re constantly RIFing your workforce?
David Williams: My opinion is on that matter is that they’re Google, so they can get all the people they ever ever want.
Ray Zinn: But is that right? Is that the kind of culture we want to build America on though, David?
David Williams: Not you and I, we don’t, because we don’t believe in that philosophy of churning people just to use them as resources, and when they don’t work anymore, you spit them out. We don’t believe in that philosophy, but a lot of the companies today do. Unfortunately, a good person may age, and get to the point where they think that they’re antiquated. Or a 45 year old, to you and me, is still very young. [crosstalk 00:06:22] Naturally, has a lot of wisdom to share …
Ray Zinn: Absolutely.
David Williams: … with these people who don’t have the experience.
Ray Zinn: You can’t develop your intuition until you’re over 40, in my mind.
David Williams: Yeah, and just the experience this 45 year old has had, versus a 22 year old smarty-pants from Stanford. I think there’s some type of recipe that these bigger companies need to embrace in order to have some of this tenured, long in the tooth – I haven’t heard that phrase since I was a young kid, by the way. I love that
Ray Zinn: That shows my age.
David Williams: It’s something my dad and my uncle – I’d always hear on the farm and the ranch, “Oh, they’re long in the tooth.” And I’d keep going, “Wow. Are their teeth really longer?”
Ray Zinn: Your gums recede, that’s why you look long in the tooth.
David Williams: Yeah. So true. I would encourage all of these up-and-coming, mega companies to not forget the wisdom that some tenured players can bring into your company to add to this high octane, high horsepower, “I can rule the world without any experience” mentality. There needs to be a mix. We hire dads, uncles. We don’t shy away from hiring a 50 year old person to come into a support team that has 22 to 28 year old people on em.
Ray Zinn: [crosstalk 00:07:51] How about if they were 60? Would you hire a person that was 60?
David Williams: Age doesn’t matter to me at all. They could be 80. If they still want to work, and they have the appetite, and they can add value. This is what I look for, probably the same thing you do, right? If they can look at me and say they will give their very best each day, they’re willing to make mistakes, they’re a team player, they’re teachable, and they’re honest; they’re in.
Ray Zinn: I love it, David. Now you’re going to have these cultural differences. You’re not going to have the Millennials, as your company would say. We’re nothing but a Millennial company. Like Google does. We’re basically a Millennial type company. They don’t want to have these generation gaps, as we call them. When I ran Micrel, and I retired at 78, I had people working for me that were 18, 19 years old. I get along perfectly well with them. They were my grandkids age, but I still got along with them because we related. I treated them as equals, and recognized them and praised them for their contribution. You can have these generation differences as long as your company is geared that way. You have that philosophy in your company that we will not develop these silos, these differences, that we’ll have unique relationships with these different generations.
David Williams: Spot on. Yeah, I just don’t believe … so what if you’re 60? And so what if you’re a Millennial company? It comes down to human decency and respect for all. That 60 year old, it’s amazing how invigorated they can become around the youth. And to your point, I don’t even think of age, Ray, when I think of people. That never really crosses … I may think of an age if they do kind of a silly, youthful thing. Just being young, and they just made a youthful mistake. Yeah, I may think, “Well, they’re just young.” I don’t see age at all, I see just people.
Ray Zinn: Good. So we’re –
David Williams: Doing different things.
Ray Zinn: That’s beautiful. This individual I was telling you about, that interviewed at Google, ended up at Box, which is another local Silicon Valley company.
David Williams: Yeah.
Ray Zinn: Evidently they don’t mind if you’re over 60.
David Williams: That’s cool. Good for them.
Ray Zinn: Well anyway, thank you. This has been a great conversation, David. I look forward to you and I being able to get back together, and just talking about some of these very contemporary issues that effect employees in their everyday lives, and their jobs. When I look at a workplace, as an extension of our home. They say there’s no place like home and I really believe that, and if you can make work seem like home, look how much better off your employees are going to be. How much happier, how much more willing they are to put in the time and the effort if they look at work as just another room in their home. All right my friend. Thank you for joining me today.
David Williams: Thank you, Ray.
What are the traits of a great leader? Ray Zinn should know. He founded and led the most consistently profitable semiconductor company in Silicon Valley. Hear his thoughts on the traits great leaders should have.
The best entrepreneurs possess vision and insight, but those two attributes are sometimes not easily understood. Tough Things First guest host Rob Artigo, talks with Ray Zinn and Ray’s former employee, Paul Moore, to discuss the difference between vision and insight and why they work best together.
Change comes voluntarily and sometimes by force, as with the sudden loss of a job, but is there a right way and wrong way to take the next step? In this episode of Tough Things First, Ray Zinn is host to Jeff Moore, successful entrepreneur and life coach, to discuss making the big changes in life.
Ray Zinn, the longest serving CEO in Silicon Valley, answers questions from the listeners of the Tough Things First podcast.
Ray Zinn and guest host Paul Moore discuss due diligence from the entrepreneur’s perspective. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or an M&A executive? You will benefit from Ray Zinn’s guidance and years of experience vetting companies.
Companies large and small find themselves in direct competition for talent, but is it really a war and far will employers go? In this Tough Tings First podcast, Ray Zinn talks about what it means to be in a seller’s market.
Some call it a top priority for businesses in 2017; Be focused more on Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, but is it always possible? In this Tough Tings First podcast, Ray Zinn talks about the basics of AI and IOT, and how to make them part of your business plan.
Is it possible to build a successful business that uses American manufacturing? In this Tough Things Fist Podcast, Ray Zinn considers what it takes to be Made in America in 2017.
Politics and religion, often taboo at the social dinner table, but has it gotten so far that it has stifled free speech? In this Tough Things First Podcast, Ray Zinn talks about the importance of religious tolerance.
Donald Trump’s first months in office are proving to be unpredictable, but not in all cases. Tough Things First guest host Rob Artigo, talks with Ray Zinn and Paul Moore, to get discuss the changing business climate and where it might be headed.
Are there different levels of tolerance? In an increasingly diverse world is it even possible to be completely tolerant? In this Tough Tings First podcast, Ray Zinn explores important questions about what tolerance really means.
Life in startups can be crazy, but working 80 hours weeks is crazy too. Learn how not being an office slave actually makes you successful.
Product start-ups inevitably face questions about costs, and wonder if it could be cheaper to move manufacturing offshore. There are upsides and downsides. Do you know the risks? Ray Zinn has experience and answers no entrepreneurs should go without. Guest host Rob Artigo returns for another addition of Tough Things First.
As an entrepreneur you want to get going … but sometimes it is hard to get started. You may not start like you think you would have started. Make up your mind about your starting path.
The battle of the generations, is it necessary? Rob Artigo seeks Ray’s advice and thoughts about what makes Gen-Xers and Millennials different and asks, does it matter?
You want to get things done, you have no time for sweet talk, you are a go-getter. Are you leaving splinters in your path? You may want to reconsider a different approach.
The truth can be so blunt it hurts, or is it your delivery? Consider the delivery and the amount kindness in your message.
Are you willing to take the hit? You are the leader and the leader takes ownership and responsibility along with the consequences. If you are not willing to take the heat, don’t think about leading.
Ray Zinn’s motto is “Do the Tough Things First.” For Ray, that has always meant getting up early and exercising. Rob Artigo talk with Ray Zinn about why exercise and good health are linked to business success.
“Not Invented Here” is usually uttered with contempt and sarcasm. What does the NIH bug do to an organization? It isn’t pretty and you need to watch for it.
Planning for what happens next is as important to success as the business idea itself. Rob Artigo talks with Ray about setting early business goals. Should a long-term goal be set in place from day one?
The pool of workers is a constantly changing mix of people with differing values and perspectives. The millennial generation is here and ready to work. How do you attract talent? You have to adapt to their world view.
Startups are focused on getting venture capital. But should they?
Here are the tough questions they should ask, and will be asked. Understand why you want venture money, and why VCs should care.
“We need new blood to liven up this place.” Have you heard that expression? New blood can invigorate but it can also disrupt to an organization. Finding the line between vigor and negative disruption is key.
Communication is the heart of an organization and the heart of relationships. However, there are time we try not to listen to one another. Learn the signs of when listening leads to bad results.
What is a good lifestyle? We carry the lifestyle choices we make like baggage. Choose your lifestyle well and live it, today, tomorrow and into your golden years.
Can you create your own truth? Are your observations truth? What is the truth? Do we actually know the truth? Your truth and your customer’s truth may be different, so learn how to take care in creating your story.
What are the criteria for a hero? Simple habits make a person a hero in the eyes of those who surround them. Learn how to turn your team members into heroes.
Looking for employee inspiration, education and motivation? In this week’s podcast, Ray Zinn talks about the “Friday Talk” technique used at Micrel. These talks were successful in generating and sharing multiple points of view and subjects and helping to condition and reinforce values within every part of a company.
Is the American Dream still alive? In this episode, Ray Zinn discuss the role of optimism in the entrepreneurial mindset, the importance of passion and the conviction required to build and lead an enduring business.
This presidential election has demonstrated the lowest levels of common decency and the most disgusting form of vulgar communications, disrespect. Many of us are so confused and upset at the latest attacks that we’re left wondering if we should even take the time to vote. In this podcast, Ray Zinn openly discuss our challenging feelings and ultimately the importance of voting our voice and believing that no matter what the outcome, we have a tremendous country.
David Greer — an entrepreneur, angel investor and business coach — discusses with Ray Zinn why corporate culture is so important, and the steps Ray took to create a culture that drove the most consistently profitable semiconductor company in Silicon Valley.
David Greer — an entrepreneur, angel investor and business coach — discusses strategic corporate planning with Ray Zinn, who ran the most consistently profitable semiconductor company in Silicon Valley.
Hiring really good employees predisposes your company toward success. But how do you do this? Ray Zinn knows how, having run the Silicon Valley semiconductor company with the lowest employee turnover rate.
Life and work are marathons, not sprints – regardless of what too many startups believe. But few employees are marathon runners. One of your jobs is to keep the momentum going throughout your organization so that employees don’t fade out or leave the company.
Ray Zinn, the longest serving CEO in Silicon Valley, with 37 years heading the most consistantly profitable semiconductor company, knows a few things about keeping employees engaged, happy and productive over the long haul.
What makes happy people, and thus happy employees. Silicon Valley’s longest serving CEO tells you the secret and how to measure it.
Ray Zinn knows adversity. He went blind during his company’s IPO, yet stayed at the helm for another 20 years. Learn whey when the going gets tough, entrepreneurs get tough too. Start treating adversity as a growth opportunity to gamifiy success.
Ray Zinn discusses how offshoring in his semiconductor industry has impeded American social and economic progress, and what Congress should be paying attention to.
Greg McKeown, the New York Times bestselling author of Essentialism interviews Ray Zinn to discuss discipline and how is makes leaders more effective.
Greg McKeown has dedicated his career to discovering why some people break through to the next level—and others don’t. The definitive treatment of this issue is addressed in McKeown’s latest project: the instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Ray Zinn is quoted in Essentualism and now the two discuss their mutual interest about doing more by doing less.
Ray Zinn answers questions encountered at his speaking events, and those from Tough Things First audience members.
Ray Zinn discusses Silicon Valley entrepreneurism with a special guest interviewer, now active in the red hot tech culture.
Policies. Nobody likes to write them. Some employees refuse to live by them. But Silicon Valley’s longest serving CEO knows how they work, and how they occasionally don’t. In this episode of the Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn discusses how policies can actually cause problem within an organization.
Ray Zinn has some specific thoughts about the topic of immigration, enforcement and the U.S. economy. With 37 years running a very successful semiconductor company, Ray has seen the impact of bring in talent from abroad as well as the rampant offshoring within his industry, so his thoughts on immigration will be multifaceted.
What are some daily practices for developing self-discipline, or for organizational discipline, and how does a leader transfer his own self-discipline to other people, and in turn have them carry the mantle? Ray Zinn answers a listener question from Episode 2 concerning discipline and the organization.
We all lose when an atmosphere of anger, hostility or contention prevails. Ray Zinn’s company, Micrel, was built in part on a culture of respecting the dignity of every individual, which led to Micrel having an employee turn-over rate half that of his industry. Micrel was somewhat legendary as a civil place to work. In this episode, Ray discusses anger, hostility and contention between people, where does it come from, how it hurts an organization, and a what leader can do to mitigate it to create a win-win situation.