Monty Moran, former Co-CEO of Chipotle, shares his unique message of love and leadership. Monty believes that the highest calling is leadership and it's how he defines success that sets him apart from almost all business leaders everywhere. Take a...
Monty Moran, former Co-CEO of Chipotle, shares his unique message of love and leadership. Monty believes that the highest calling is leadership and it's how he defines success that sets him apart from almost all business leaders everywhere. Take a listen to learn how to embrace the life you have and lead with love.
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Srini Rao: Welcome to the Unmistakable creative. Thanks so much for taking the time to join.
Monty Moran: Hey, thanks so much. Great to be here.
Srini Rao: Yeah, it is my pleasure to have you here. So I found out about your work by way of our mutual friend, Zach Obront. And when he told me that you were the co CEO of Chipotle, at one point, I thought, well, considering I each a pebble a multiple times a week, I definitely want to talk to this guy.
And then I saw what you've been up to and I thought, yeah, this is kind of a no brainer to your work. I want to start by asking what I think is a relevant question, given some of the subject matter of the book. And that is what is one of the most important lessons that you learned from one or both of your parents that have influenced and shaped who you've become and what you've ended up doing with your life?
Monty Moran: You know, I guess the one thing they both hadn't, I guess, are you asking from each parent a different one either way, whatever you prefer. Okay. Yeah, because what popped into my mind was that. You know, my parents were both fascinated by people, you know? And so, and, and they just want to, and you could see that they just wanted to learn, learn, learn, learn from people.
And my parents were both super bright. You know, my dad was a high, early educated, you know, Princeton, Harvard brown, one for each degree type of thing, and scientists and all that. But he had these brilliant people over to dinner. And my parents grew up. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and my parents were really into, I mean, in their lives, they have jobs.
And my mom was sort of into sight, a psychologist and my dad has a PhD. Professor of histology, which is a study of cells and tissues at the medical school down at CU Denver. But but their passion on the side was spiritual development, spiritual growth, transactional analysis, you know, basically they were reading, you know, philosophical books and books like Carlos Castaneda and, and books by, you know, Dalai Lama and, you know, Buddhism and Christianity.
And they were just seekers, you know, and which is kind of Boulder was kind of the perfect town for them, but they had all these people. And they had all these people over for dinner. I mean, I mean really diverse group of people from all over the world, scientists, artists, musicians and it was wonderful.
And, and they, my mom was a great cook. My dad was actually a good cook too, and they would make these dinners every single night. You know, we had a dinner and there were candles on the table. Every, as I talked about in the book every night, dinner was a big deal. And a lot of times there'd be a guest or two usually just a guest or two.
So it was intense, right. It was like this person was there and we were talking intensely with this person. And even as a young kid, I was expected to, and my brother was expected to participate, be in the conversation, be part of the dinner, not just kind of eating and Hey, can I go watch TV? You know, we were there the whole dinner.
And so. You know, my parents fascination with these people was really contagious and I developed a fascination with just getting to know people and oddly, and here's something I want to say because I only figured this out literally in the last few months of my 54 years, I, you know, what I've just figured out recently is I'm not that interested in people's stories.
Hi, I'm actually interested in who they are now. My mother's really interested in people's stories and the reason, the way I found out that I'm not interested in people's stories. My mom was always telling me, oh, and then this guy, I know this guy and I met this guy who was this wife who came from, I'm like, okay, I don't, I, I can't keep up with it, but when I'm sitting with it, but when I'm sitting with a human being, I'm fascinated by who they are not, we're not, not their story so much.
I'm a fascinating who who's sitting in front of me right then. And then I can be, I can become very interested in their story based on how they came to be the person who is sitting in front of me right now. But it's sort of interesting. So I guess I've learned a huge appreciation for people, for my parents to answer your question more directly and a fascination of people and a desire to understand them.
And then just recently, I guess I've, I've realized that what I really am interested in is who they are right at the moment, right in front of me.
Srini Rao: Yeah. Yeah. So one thing I, I wonder, you know my dad's a college professor as well. My sisters was the chief fantasy geology resonate, Yale. My, you know, one of my best friends is Dolly says, he's like, your sister is every Indian parent's dream come true.
And I said, well, that never Indian parent's nightmare, but it's funny. One of the things I wonder, you know, with a dad who had accomplished so much, I mean, obviously being the co CEO of Chipotle has nothing to like Bach at right. When you were young, did you ever feel sort of this pressure to live up to such a high standard?
Because I mean, the reason I started with that question is you had this quote in the book where you say the downside of these interactions by father was that I felt a need to constantly earn his love, attention and affection, and still suffer with difficulties believing I'm worthwhile or valuable unless I earn it through the approval and appreciation of others.
And to me, that is such a bizarre paradox given what you've accomplished with your life.
Monty Moran: Yeah. Well thank you for saying I've accomplished a lot. That's, that's a real compliment that I appreciate that. You know, I think that the problem is that, you know, basically our psyche is largely set or at least many of our habits are set as very young children.
And you know, with, with my dad, you know, he was. Really bright and I mean, literally knew Latin and knew the base of every word every, so he kind of seemed to speak every language cause he could sort of decode them through the, the root words and it was just fascinating. And so every question I asked him, when he would answer, he would give an incredible answer.
There's a fascinating and deep and rich and filled with knowledge and I loved it, but, and so I kept asking him. But my dad was in some ways a bit introverted, you know, he needed a lot of alone time. He played instruments alone in a room, you know, he'd sit there in a room and play harmonica or play the Fiddler, banjo mandolin and and, or listening to music and, you know, he needed some downtime and I'm not really like that.
I'm pretty outgoing. And as a kid, I wasn't pretty outgoing. I was sort of, excrutiatingly outgoing maybe. And, and I asked my dad questions like, like like a jackhammer, good, you know, just one after and there's light and one off another like a chain smoker. And and it, it was too much for him to be honest.
And it wore him out and I could see that it wore him out and that hurt. But instead of experiencing it as hurt at that point, I sort of do, I did what every kid does in the face of some adversity. They adapt, you know, and what I did is I adapted in a way to try to please him and try to make him feel like a guru.
Who would want to answer my questions, you know? So I'm showing him such reverence and respect and, you know, the way I came at him was really critical because if I came at him asking questions in a rough way, he would close down and he even said to me once, like you're coming out in like a goddamn lawyer.
Okay. Just give me a minute. You know? And I was like, I mean, and that was, if my brother heard that he would laugh because he said, oh, yup, that's exactly how he said it. You know? And my dad hated lawyers, you know, it's kind of funny. I became one, isn't it? Well I guess we, I guess we use some, some people wouldn't let myself go headlong into challenges.
I went headlong into the thing that my dad hated, but but yeah, so he, he sort of accused me of cross-examine. And I was like, no, no. And so then instead of it, so I, I've learned ways of sort of approaching him delicately or in a way that he might find really acceptable and comfortable. And so you'd answer my questions and I think that because in part, because of that, but also I'm sure for other reasons, I became very, very, very accommodative, you know, maybe to accommodate him in life.
I'm always looking to accommodate everyone at all times. And, and sometimes to the detriment of my own psyche. But so that's probably, I think I, I see that as one of the places where that shortcoming. Yeah. I mean,
Srini Rao: so this need for a, until validation I wonder do you think that we ever actually get over it?
Because I came to this realization that my dad, despite being a college professor, doesn't read my books. He has not, he doesn't read my, he doesn't read period. So I finally stopped taking offense to that. He doesn't listen to the podcast and it's funny because, you know, he can relate to my sister and he validates what she does because he understands it.
Whereas I have. You know, it's like, okay, good. You're able to pay rent and you're surviving. Whereas, you know, in an Indian culture, there's nothing more noble you can do than becoming a doctor. And so I wonder, like, you know, if you know that we're never going to get over that, how do you, how do people make their peace with that?
Because I remember talking to my roommate the other day, he said, yeah, he's like, I think you got to come to terms with the fact that you're never going to get the validation that you are seeking from your parents.
Monty Moran: Well, yeah, I think that's true. And, and I think the problem yet, you never get over it.
I'm, I'm convinced to that. I've worked on it really hard. I've you never get over it. I think what you do learn to do is live with it and become comfortable with the discomfort if you will. And so yeah, I've worked in, worked and worked to try to get over it. I've seen psychologists, psychiatrists you know, I've talked to everyone who will listen.
I I've tried to achieve great things. And, but then what I've noticed is when I achieve something, let's just say in law school, you know after my final exam, The first year I thought I flunked out and I even tried to withdraw from school and everything. I think I talked about that in my book, unless I've cut that out.
I forget. But anyway, I ended up getting these really good grades. And I remember when I got, when I, when I got my report card back or whatever you call it my grades back, I looked at it and the grades were exceptional really, really high. I was in the top 10% of my class. It is after I thought I filled out, I filled all the exams.
And so I was like, yay. You know, I felt this rush of excitement and glee and glory and happiness for three minutes. And after three minutes, I, I became disappointed and I thought, oh God, if I tried harder, I could have done better. You know? So what I've found is that you know, success or achieving, you know, quote, unquote impressive things, does nothing to advance my self image.
And and, and, and so, but what I realized is I like doing stuff. I like trying hard. I like trying to do things well for the city. You know, for the sake of it, it's fun to feel like you're accomplishing something. It's fun to feel like you're helping someone. It's fun to feel like you're, you know, explaining something to someone in a way that's helpful to them.
It's, it's fun to lead a company in a way that you feel really helps the people in the company to become the best version of themselves. And so I do believe that you know, those things that have that, that I have become successful at, I have enjoyed the journey, which led to the thing that people now call success.
Okay. But I don't really relish them. The actual part that's called success, you know? So was it, you know, Hey Monte, how does it feel having been, you know, how does it, doesn't it make you feel great? You receipt, you have to bullae. Well, I felt great doing the work for 13 years, which looking back is now called being CEO of Chipola.
It was wonderful. And am I proud that I had the job? Yeah. I mean, yeah, I am. I, you know, sure. It was really cool. I loved it. Fun. It was. But what I'm most proud of is that I was able to do some good for. And what made it worth it was the journey, you know, not actually the sort of report card, if you will. So in the future of law school, after I got good grades, the first semester, then I started trying, because I was like, for the sake of, it was fun trying, it was fun, feeling like I'm learning the material, it was fun feeling like I was on top of it.
And then my grades got even better, but I never really found the grades other than for a fleeting moment to be the reward that paid off all of the effort. What was really fun was the effort.
Srini Rao: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, you know what, my Indian parents pretty much my roommate was asking me, he's like, did you get straight A's in high school?
I was like, when you live with Indian parents, that's basically just an expectation to live in their house. That's not Nicholas. And it's funny because there's, there's a joke. Like, I mean, every Indian kid has this story of hearing about a non-Indian kid at school who gets paid $5 for every day. And then you come home and, you know, your dad basically says you get a roof over your head in a meal.
This negotiation is over. Exactly.
Monty Moran: Yeah. Yeah. The
Srini Rao: funny thing is to your point, I realized that was something that ended up being invaluable later in life because it taught me the benefits of intrinsic motivation. And I realized it was never about the great, it was teaching you to do something so that you could be capable of it.
And, you know, I was talking to my roommate about you know, wanting to grow the company to the point where we could sell it. I said, you know, for a while, it was about sort of you know, the validation from people who thought I would amount to nothing, you know, parental validation. And I, you know, I said, you know what, at this point, it's about proving to myself that I can do something that big.
Monty Moran: Yeah, I think that you know, and you know, and even proving to yourself, I think again, when you prove it to yourself, let's, let's say, you know, you want to arrive at X place, you know, climb right now. I'm thinking actually what's going through my mind is that fellow, his name is Alex. Honnold the guy who climbed El Capitano.
I watched that film and, you know, and listen, he's. A lunatic. And I mean that in the most respectful way, you know what I mean? He's like, I mean it with respect and I think if I met him and I haven't met him, unfortunately, but if I met him, I'm sure I would find that he was a lunatic and fascinating, you know, and if I asked him, are you a lunatic keeper?
I say, well, yeah, of course I'm a little tick, you know, but anyway so if you ever heard this, I hope you would take it as a compliment. But anyway, I, you know, I watched that movie, you know, I think it was called Dawn wall or something like that. And that, and I was literally on the edge of my seat with my fingers gripping.
I was like, so nervous that I was exhausted when it was over. But when he got to the top of that, you know what I mean? A and I watch it, my son, we're both sitting there just totally uncomfortable. And yet we fascinated. Anyway, he gets to the top of that wall where every moment he should have died for about, it was like three hours and 55 minutes.
It took him and he gets to the very top. And, you know, there's this kind of, I forget whether he pumped his fist or he was like, yes, or had, you know, looked at the sky with glee. And I was like, yep. I know that feeling. And that's over. Now it's over because then your brain starts going. Okay. And in his case, well, he climbed, you know, maybe the baddest ass piece of rock on the planet.
And, and so I sort of, I felt this glee and, and this sort of sense of tears in my eyes of, of glory for what he had accomplished. But I also felt compassion because I know that after accomplishing something like that, you know, you know, your, your mind and your, and especially your ego will instantly tell you, okay, that's done and your credit goes away.
And now your mind starts thinking, what do I do now? What do I do now? What do I do now? And, you know, it reminds me of the analysts. When I was at Chipotle, you've got, you know, you talk to analysts all the time who are, you're basically informing the shareholders as to whether they should buy or sell the stock.
And so one of the chief, one of the things you gotta do as an officer of a company or CEO anyway, is talked to analysts a lot and talk to them about the company that their performance, how you're doing your vision so forth. And, you know, it's funny, we always said like, you know, you're only as good as your latest result, you know, and, and the moment you turn in a great result, they say, Hey, great quarter.
And then they ask questions about the next quarter, you know, and, and I'll tell you a great quarter. That's how long if they even say great quarter. And we got a lot of people saying great quarter, which is very much appreciated, but they'd say, Hey okay, Mani. And then it's period. Right? And then the rest was an inquisition about what, what do you do for me next?
You know? And if the answer is you're not going to do anything for me next, well, they recommend something to sell the stock and then your stock goes down type of thing. So I think the ego is the same way as the analyst, right? The ego is your internal analyst. The ego is saying, okay, great. You climb the fucking wall.
Great. Throw your hands up for a minute. Go puck your fist. Great. Okay. Okay. Now what nobody can do. Nobody can do, nobody can do it. It's not good enough. You know? And so I think a lot of us who are very, very driven are sometimes driven by demons. You know, it's not being driven as you know, I think generally seen in Western culture as a good thing, but it's not, it's, it's not good or bad.
I would say it's difficult, you know, and it's, and it's, it will lead to rewarding outcomes, but rewarding in what way? Well you know, nothing satisfies the ego, right? The ego's by definition is a, an internal structure that cannot be satisfied. Ever period, not by anyone. There's no one in the world has ever satisfied their ego.
So if you're working in part for your ego or to satisfy your ego, it never, ever, ever will be satisfied by any human being anywhere in the world at any time ever. And, and, you know, that's why you see so many successful people who are essentially miserable, you know, so many quotes successful and have coats, people who are miserable and and you know, and so, and, and, you know, you see it with, you know, the guy who you can see with almost everyone who they become wealthy.
They buy a material object, they become more wealthy. They buy a bigger material object and they buy a bigger house and a bigger jet and a bigger boat. And, and it's bigger, bigger, bigger. You know, and then you find out, if you get to know these people that, you know, they're basically dissatisfied, right.
They're finding some reason to be dissatisfied and that's because they're so often so associated with ego. So I think what's really the name of the game, sort of in my mind, sort of spiritually, if you want to really grow it's to understand and get to know when your ego is the thing leading you understand and get to know your ego so you can see it.
And once you can see your head. You know that, which is seeing your ego is not ego. Right? Cause you can't do that because it kind of, you can see you're standing back to look at it and witness it. And once you witness it, that, which is witnessing it is of course something different than you go and that's yourself, that's, what's real, that's your sort of essential nature.
And so if you can really tune in and understand, I, you know, I guess, you know, if you read a lot of books about Buddhism and so forth, there's this sort of underlying theme that wouldn't, you know, they'd be nice to sort of get rid of the ego. Right. But you know, most books that talk about how to get rid of the ego, say, don't try to get rid of it because that, which is trying to get rid of the ego is also ego.
Yeah. So, so I think the key is awareness, you know, becoming aware of what is going on, sort of inside your mind inside, inside your, your brain inside your site. So structure and, and I think if you can become in touch with something besides ego, sort of in addition to ego, because it's hard to get rid of it.
And, but if you just become aware of the other stuff that other stuff is where real fulfillment comes from enrichment comes from, and that other stuff is usually fascinated by the external world, fascinated by other people, fascinated by connection and love and understanding and becoming sort of one.
The energy of other people, of the environment of animals and of our, of our world. And that's, that's where true fulfillment is accessible
Srini Rao: as possible. It's funny you say this because like, I, it reminds me of the story. My best friend from college told me right after she got married, people would ask her great when you're having a kid.
And then right after she had the first kid, they literally asked her a day later, when you having the second one, it's like, okay,
Monty Moran: come on, hit a kid. I mean, I haven't even changed his first diaper yet. Can I have a minute? You know? Yeah. It's nuts. And our whole society is nuts in that way, you know?
Absolutely not. And so.
Srini Rao: Well, it's funny. Cause like, I mean, even as, as an author, you know, like one of the things I always say is you get like these two days in a spotlight where you get to show off your book and you know, first, you know, that doesn't represent the two years you spent writing it. And then the buzz almost always immediately wears off.
Like I remember when I got a book deal, I thought, oh, you know what? Like, I'll be going to be on cloud nine. This is the thing I've been trying to accomplish for so long. And you know, that satisfaction lasted for probably about three months and then everything was back to normal.
Monty Moran: Right, right. Yeah. And then you're like, okay, here I am.
I'm here. You know what now? And yes. So yeah. You're absolutely right. So
Srini Rao: you've alluded to your son a couple of times, so I wonder. What about the way that your parents raised you has influenced the way that you're raising your own kids. And also, you know, when you're somebody who is accomplished, you know, what you have you know, as the CEO of this massive company, how do you make sure your kids are aware of the amount of privilege that they've been blessed with?
Because I think that that's something that became just some, I became so much more aware of over the last few years, especially, you know, seeing the pandemic. I mean, you know, my parents weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination. My dad's a college professor. We lived at upper middle class life.
There's no question as to whether I would get a college education and it's only looking back. I realized that those are privileged circumstances and your son is growing up and even far more privileged to circumstances than I did. So how do you maintain, how do you make sure you maintain awareness of it?
Monty Moran: Yeah. Great question. And I, and I think both those two questions you asked, I think in my mind, really dovetail. So the first you asked was basically what did my parents do and how do they influence how I raise my kids? So I've got two boys, 23 and 21, and then I've got a daughter who's 16. And you know, my parents did so many things, right.
And I don't want to talk about that right now. I'll talk about one thing. I think that they didn't do very well. And that was my, especially, maybe, maybe my father. He didn't emphasize trying at all. Okay. My dad basically said, yeah, you've got great genetics. You know, you can do anything you want, you want to be a Olympic swimmer, you'll be an Olympic swimmer.
You want to be pro tennis player. You'll be a pro tennis player. Anything you want to do, you can do. And you guys, and he said, you'd sit my brother and I down. You guys are, you know, top of the heap. You're brilliant kids. You're smart. You're strong. You can do anyone, anything you want and you will succeed.
Well, that sounds good. That sounds complimentary. But let me tell you what the effect of that is. The effect of that is okay. If you don't do something extraordinarily well, you're a complete idiot. Okay. Because your dad just told you there's gonna be a piece of cake to be on top of the world. Okay. So there was no message about, Hey guys, you're going to have to go out there into the world and try really hard.
Okay. And the more effort you give, the more you'll get out of this life, that wasn't the message. The message was everything's going to come easy. That was really the message. I didn't like that message. And I didn't realize I didn't like it at the time. Cause it sounded like a compliment. Hey dad thinks I can do anything I want, you know, but when your dad let's just say your dad, and you said this your yourself about your, the expectation you were going to get a 4.0, so did you get hats and horns and a cake and a party when you got a 4.0, no, right.
No. It was like, yeah, that was the price of admission to getting a meal at home. Right. It's like, that's what it was being you growing up in your family, you had to get a 4.0, so you didn't get any sort of hats and horns and celebration for getting a 4.0. Given it was taken for granted. So I felt like anything I did, there was no way to please my dad, cause my dad has already told me I'm going to be an Olympian if I just wake up and go swim twice, you know?
So I ended up, I think finding some violent levels of insecurity in that I never felt that anything I did was good enough. And to this day I would describe myself. I mean, I do describe myself to those closest to me after like a couple of glasses of wine as an underachiever. It's like, I can think of when I pick up my life, you know, and you know, and all I can, you know, when I, you know, the second year at law school, I got the best grades in the law school.
And, and then I was thinking, instead of going, my God, isn't that great. I got the best grades in law school. Instead of that, I looked back at the first year when I had been the top 10%. Top 10% means what, in my mind, it meant that I was below, you know, 9% of the people in the class. And so all I could see was money, you know, that's, that's, you know, X amount of people that got better grades than me.
That was why didn't I try harder. And then when I got the best grades, I was like, oh shit, I should have done that last year. You know? So again, it's that ego thing where nothing's ever enough and that sort of dovetailed with my father's constant explanation that, you know, Hey, you were born of such intelligence and strength that you can do whatever you want made me just never feel like anything was good enough.
Okay. So now fast forward to, you know, I have three. How did I raise my kids? Just the opposite in that way, I would tell my kids, you know, look, man, you know, it don't expect anything good to happen. If you don't try hard, you know, don't expect to do well in school. If you don't try hard, don't expect things will come easy.
They don't, things are hard. Life's hard. You got to try hard and work hard and you got to expect that they can be rainy days. You got to expect, there's gonna be times where you fail and you got, you know, and so I really pushed this message of effort. You know, and, and, and yet my kids would look at me and sort of say, well, you know, it seems like, you know, you did pretty well, that type of thing.
And, and, and I, I really wanted to emphasize that despite what outwardly looks like success for me, you know, my life's been, I guess, a lot like anyone else's life, I have felt many times like a loser, like a failure, not good enough. I have, in fact, I would say perhaps more than most people, I have felt those negative feelings and associations with myself.
And and you know, and I didn't want my kids to feel that way. And so a lot of times I think. Yeah. One of my sons, for instance, has said to me, you know, well, dad, sometimes it just feels like a drag. I don't feel like I could ever live up to what you've done. And I'm like, well, but you're already living up to what I've done.
What I've done is what I've done. That's something different than what you should do. You should do what you should do. And it doesn't matter what it looks like. It doesn't matter whether it involves making money or not making money. It doesn't matter if it involves being a lawyer or not, or being a CEO or not.
You can go do something totally different and just do what you want to do and do it with all your heart. And it'll be great. You know, so, and I think that I I've been able to, I hope I've been able to give that message rather purr, purr, persuasively to my kids because it, it is true that I actually don't believe.
What most people believe about success? I think the Western world has success completely wrong. You know, I think the assumptions about success are absolutely upside down and backwards and wrong. I mean, for instance, the assumption that it is better to be wealthy than not wealthy, I think is not true.
And I think in fact, if you just look at, if you study it, what you'll find is generally speaking those with, with less money, you know are happier than those with a lot of money, as long as, let me just say, as long as, you know, you have good shelter enough to eat enough to drink and, you know, right. Like, but if you get above a subsistence level, if you get to a point of comfort where you're comfortable and you're safe and you're eating money beyond that, it doesn't really add happiness.
And a lot of money beyond that, I would say not only does it add happiness, but also maybe starts to infringe on happiness because it's it causes people to focus on the wrong things chase the wrong things and chase things that. Intended to gratify the ego instead of things that are truly fulfilling.
Srini Rao: Yeah. I remember seeing this documentary with, you know, like people who had hundreds of millions of dollars in disguise, like at this point, you, once you have every single toy that you wanted, he said, then it's just a game. He said, you're literally just playing a game where you're keeping score.
Monty Moran: That's right.
That's right. And who's getting, and keeping score within assumption that a higher score dollar-wise is better and it's not, it's just not. Okay.
Srini Rao: So what about the privilege thing?
Monty Moran: Oh, you know, I, you know, so my ex wife and I, I think both shared in common. An allergy to the thought of the kids being spoiled.
And you know, and we both were taught the value of the dollar growing up and both were, you know, like you said, I was privileged in the sense that I was pretty sure I was going to have my, my parents would help pay for my college. And, you know, and I had a great meal every day and my parents were smart and taught me a lot and, and super parents.
So I was privileged for sure, but you know, my parents also, you know, they didn't pay for my car and they may be paid for it and maybe pay for my insurance, maybe pay my gas. So it's like my ability to drive my car was limited on how much money I had for gas. And so I learned, you know, I was taught the value of the dollar.
And so I've tried to do the same thing with my kids where, you know, and it's been difficult actually, quite frankly, cause it's very, very hard in this country. Let's just say in the town of Boulder, Colorado, where my kids grew up. You know, if you didn't want to get your kids an iPhone, for example, you know, if you didn't want to give your kids a smartphone of some kind, you know, you would immediately put them in the minority of the kids in the school because everyone's got an iPhone.
So then you're like, okay, God, did we get them an iPhone? Because all the kids have an iPhone or do we not give an iPhone because we don't want to give them a bunch of stuff like that. That seems a bit unnecessary at their age. You know? So there was a lot of these arm wrestles that we dealt with, but, but basically we tried to really let the kids, you know, earn stuff.
You know, but it was very difficult raising kids in Boulder, Colorado. And I will say, I think it was very difficult raising kids almost anywhere in the developed world, without them being having a sense of entitlement. Very, very difficult. And when I look at a lot of the first-generation immigrants I've met and I've met literally tens of thousands of them in my life because we had so many working at.
And I have huge admiration for these first generation immigrants and, you know, they grew up with many of them grew up in with no. They grew up thinking and believing and knowing that anything they were going to get in their life was gonna come from their own hands and feet and hard work, you know, and their own minds and their own diligence.
And growing up, not knowing that your life is set up for you growing up, not having privilege growing up, not knowing that you're, we're going to have enough money to eat when you're older or buy a house when you're older or go to college. When you're, you know, in my opinion that builds tremendous character, you know, struggle, builds character.
And I think it's extremely hard. To raise kids like in my case, I'll just keep it personal for a minute. It was very hard to raise my kids to not have a sense of entitlement. It was very hard to raise them to understand the value of struggle, really hard, you know, because I was in a comfortable car that didn't break down.
I had a lot of food in the fridge, even if I had, you know, and you know, and we had a comfortable home with a nice view on a safe street. And those privileges are things that are sort of impossible to. Intentionally deprive your kids of when you have them. And so the only way to raise your kids is to use, you know, words like, Hey guys, do you understand that, you know, this isn't something everyone has.
So, you know, and, and, and when you go out into life, you're still gonna have to earn it. You're still gonna have to stand on your own two feet, so forth. So, but it's really hard. It's hard because actions speak a lot louder than words and kids who grew up with privileged circumstances tend to have a sense of entitlement.
And I think it's a widespread problem in the United States of America right now, is that a huge number of young people grow up these days? I think overly pampered, overly privileged with a sense of entitlement and they don't really get it that what you're supposed to do when you go to a job and your first.
Should it be to give more to your employer than you receive to show value to them, to earn it, to be excellent, to try your hardest. You know, now I hear a lot of guys going, oh man, I'm going to go do this job, but just long enough until I get another job. Well, that's a terrible attitude, but it's an attitude cultivated by a, an overly privileged society, but where our kids grew up with too much with things that are, that are too easy for you in some ways now that's not to say it's not difficult growing up in this day and age of social media.
I think it's very difficult, but in the way of privilege it's really hard not to grow up with a sense of entitlement and I see way too.
Srini Rao: Yeah. I mean, I, my parents are first generation immigrants, so I, you know, I got to see what you're talking about firsthand. And there was a time when I used to think that the career advice they gave me was nonsense because I chose to do something unconventional.
And then I realized I'm like the context from which they're giving bad advice makes sense, because they grew up in a situation where you either ended up in poverty or security. Like there was no nothing in between. So naturally your risk tolerance is significantly lower. Yeah.
Monty Moran: I think it's generally true in India, right?
I mean, it's very kind of black and white is, you know, very, very successful people. And there's a huge cast system. W w w where a lot of people are, you know in a, in a, in a position of great crop poverty and it's not something
Srini Rao: well, surprisingly, a lot of those extremely wealthy people in India, like billionaires, all came from really like part impoverished circumstances like that.
Right. Exactly. And guess what?
Monty Moran: They learned the value of struggle, and they've been working their ass off their whole life, you know, they've been running crazy. Yeah.
Srini Rao: Yeah. The embodies who pretty much own India, the father who originally started their empire started as a gas station attendant. And now I think they're unlike the Forbes, like fi number five on the Forbes
Monty Moran: list.
Good Lord. Yeah. Yeah. But you know, stories like that are, are many and, you know, and, and, and there's something to celebrate, I think is a wonderful here we call it the American dream and I believe in the American dream, I think it's awesome. But you know, it's, it's, it's funny to really partake in the American dream in some ways.
Okay. In some ways, you know, people who've had to struggle a lot, have an advantage because they've learned to struggle. They learned to work hard. They've learned great habits, you know? And so, and that's tough for a parent in my circumstances to be, it was, it's hard to do that effectively. And so I tried hard and, and hopefully I did.
Okay. But yeah. Yeah.
Srini Rao: And Boulder is definitely a bubble of privilege. Like there's just, you know, nothing bad, bad things rarely happen here. Unfortunately, we had that shooting, but beyond that, it's kind of, you know, one of the most sort of peaceful places you could ever be.
Monty Moran: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean you know, I brought up the other day that same thing I said to my mom, I said, come on it's Boulder.
And she was like, well, that shouldn't just happen Monte. And I was like, well, yeah, yeah, but mom that's, I know. And that's bad. And it was one thing. But if you, if you race that, it's like, it's pretty easy, right?
Srini Rao: Absolutely. Well let, let's get kind of into the trajectory of your career. So it's funny because you know, in my life, I don't think I've ever met anybody who hates their jobs as much as attorneys.
No, that's true. Literally. I don't think I've ever met anybody. Very few people who are lawyers telling me they wanted to be a lawyer, but apparently the money gets so good. They can't leave. What, what in the world made you want to go to law school?
Monty Moran: Well, I, you know, I guess it was my curiosity and that I was always asking questions, asking questions, asking questions.
And I just, you know, I, late in college I had spent a couple summers working in my dad's laboratory in Denver because I wanted to be a doctor. And so I was in the lab and I realized, yeah, I'm really interested in the lab and I really like it, but it's kind of lonely for me. I decided that. Better suited to be speaking with people and talking to people rather than, you know, you know, opening them up and doing surgery on them.
And so I switched at the last minute, my major from molecular biology to speech communication, and I thought, you know, I'd want to do public speaking and I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I decided I kind of had in the back of my mind, maybe I'll be alone. And and I decided, yeah, I want to go to law school.
And then I decided I want to go to law school. So then I, I really enjoyed the public speaking stuff. I enjoyed getting up in front of people. I enjoyed expressing myself in that way. And so I think that's kind of what pushed me towards being a lawyer. But also when I got out of college, I went and became an insurance adjuster in Los Angeles, and it was driving all around, you know, basically meeting with people who had had, you know, big property losses houses that had burned down or graffiti or floods and this, this and that, and adjusting the losses to pay them for their damage.
And in doing that, I met loads and loads and loads of people, mostly who were in a time of great stress or distress from what had happened to their home. And I found that I found it greatly rewarding to be able to help them, you know I had this giant checkbook courtesy of farmers insurance, and I was able to pay for their damage and, and put them back on their feet.
And it was just really cool. And so I love that. I love helping people. And I found that when I found people that were in a state yeah disharmony or struggle because of having lost their home or whatever. I found that I was able to really be of comfort to them. And that made me feel really good.
So in doing that I also worked with some lawyers because there was a lot of fraud that took place in the insurance world. And when you had fraud, sometimes we had to call on lawyers to defend ourselves from saying no to an insurance claim, for example. And when I saw those lawyers, I said, yeah, that's cool.
I can kind of see what they're doing. And some of them I think were real good, which inspired me. And some way, some of them were lousy, which really inspired me because I thought I can be better than they are, you know? So, so the good ones give me something to aspire towards and the ones that weren't any good gave me something to aspire away from.
But either way I was sort of caught with this notion. I could do that. I bet. Well, I went to law school and, and law school, I wouldn't say is fun. I mean, that would be incorrect. Law school is not fun. It's super competitive. It's super difficult. It's super intense. It's exhausting. It's scary. Yeah.
I don't know how you're doing until you get all your grades back. Cause there's no quizzes or there's nothing to tell you how you're doing it. Done doing it. You know what I mean? It's like you get all your exams are worth everything, one exam at the end. So yeah, it's scary. So law school wasn't particularly fun, although it was very interesting, you know?
And so I, when I, when I ended up excelling in law school, that felt good. And then I went out and became a lawyer and I loved it. I mean, I absolutely loved it. Everything you said about why people hate it is true. I mean, it's super stressful. It's super difficult. It's filled with conflict. It's get up early, go to bed late, work hard all day.
Never take a break, never rest because you've always got stuff that you should do or should do better. You could always prepare more for the next trial or the next deposition or arbitration or mediation. You just never read it, you know, never done. And it's never enough, you know, because your clients are depending on you.
So it's exhausting. On the other hand, it's super, super fascinating. It's different every day. It stimulates your mind. You get to help people who are in grave need of help. And you can do an exceptional job and really set yourself apart by, by really caring about the people who you're working for and with.
And so I absolutely loved being a lawyer. I think it was the best education I could have had for me anyway. And I just loved it. It was, it was great.
Srini Rao: Yeah, it's funny because I remember being at the MBA program thinking I wish I had gotten a law degree because when I, I remember I had a cousin who was an attorney who was getting an MBA.
So listen, man, if you're an attorney, you can do anything an MBA does, but the vice versa is not true. A lot degree is far more
Monty Moran: useful. Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, I actually agree with that. I think that the law degree, while it doesn't teach you business, per se, it is an incredible business degree. I mean, by the time I went over to be CEO of Chipotle there, you know, there were so many things that I took from my, my legal education and my my law career.
That I think really, really helped me as a CEO. I mean, for instance, decisiveness, I mean, as a lawyer, you learn to, to a great deal of discipline in decision-making and, and that's that's a skill that you get a lot of repetition at at making decisions, making decisions, making decisions, and making really tough decisions and making really tough decisions really, really fast with limited information.
You know, you have to think on, you have to learn to think you're going to be a trial lawyer, which I was, you have to learn to think on your feet, you have to respond to adversity quickly and effectively. And in a way that's convincing to a judge or jury. You know, you have to to, to learn to really be credible and to be credible, you have to know what you're talking about and to know what you're talking about, you have to work really, really, really hard and understand the law and the facts super, super well.
So, you know, and when you do all that, when you learn to digest it, so basically as a lawyer in law school and in the career of being a lawyer, you, you learn to digest heroic amounts of information quickly. You learn to take a lot in and make a quick decision from it. You learn how to think logically better.
And well, those things are critically important in every business. Absolutely every business, particularly being decisive with less than all the information. So I think it was great, great education. I couldn't recommend it highly enough to anyone who has an interest in it.
Srini Rao: So one of the things that you say in the book is that we, as humans are inherently limited, our brains are only so big.
Our bodies are only so strong. Our ability to understand the whole truth of the universe is limited. These limitations affect us all and. I think that really struck a chord with me because it was so real and it felt like we had two people here. Justine Musk, who's Elan's, ex-wife here to talk about the psychology of visionaries.
And you know, I've asked this question to a couple of people in some form or another, and you know, one of the things she told me is that, you know, I don't want to get all deterministic here, but it's just, I don't think that being like Elon is something that can be learned. That is something that's inherent.
And you know, my old mentor, Greg Hartle echoed that exact sentiment. And he said, you know, people often look at what's possible, but don't think about what's probable you as somebody who's achieved, what you have. I really curious you know, what your take is on that. I mean, you wrote these exact words, which I think echo those sentiments just in different words, Well, you know,
Monty Moran: yeah.
I mean, I, I think you can learn to be Elon Musk for sure. I mean, Ilan is a brilliant guy. Who's wired, stupendously uniquely, you know, and and I think that's true with all of us, by the way. I mean, all of us are incredibly incredible unique. His brand of uniqueness has made a big splash in a way that's very famous.
I mean, that's made him very famous and, and he's an incredible guy. You know, but you know, when I just get up, I actually like sort of myself and, and what's led me to be, you know, and again, I I've always put, you know, success in quotes because I'm very careful not to assume that that success means to be a CEO or to be wealthy or to be, you know, to be, to graduate from law school or anything.
I mean, success means. To me success means, you know, being, you know, having a sense of fulfillment through helping other people be at their best success means being a powerfully positive force in this world that helps others. That's what success means to me because that's what really yields, yields fulfillment and almost everybody.
So sometimes that doesn't come with any wealth at all. I mean, I don't think you know, mother Teresa was wealthy. I don't think Mahatma Gandhi. He was wealthy. I think Jesus Christ was wealthy. I don't think the Buddha was, well, actually you grew up with Buddha actually was born wealthy. But then went on to not be wealthy and, and those people were magnificently successful.
Right. So I don't think wealth and success are really tied together, but anyway, I digress. So back to, let's say someone goes, Hey, money. You've been really successful. Oh, thank you. Well what's made you successful. Well, I think my what's made me successful. If anything has been my ability, my, my knowledge of my limitations, my understanding that I am.
That I'm not brilliant enough to solve all problems and I'm not brilliant to do enough to do everything myself, but my huge belief in other people that's, what's made me successful. And I guess, I mean that in terms of successful any way, you've any way you slice it. Like, even if you define it, like I define it, you know, I believe in people when I see other people, no matter who I meet, I have this.
I don't know if it's a habit or an ability. Let's just say, I have this, I'll give myself some credit here. And let's say I have an ability to see someone else and to see what's strong about them really quickly. And it comes from a place where I see that. And I'm very, I'm very much in other people's admiration because I look at somebody and I say, oh my God, that God, I'd love to have that quality of that person.
And this can be, and I'm telling you, this can be, I made a homeless person instantly I'll find brilliance in them. I can meet someone who's poor and down on their luck instantly I'll find brilliant brilliance in them. I can meet a wall street. Billionaire instantly I'll find brilliance in them, but probably not the thing that everyone else thinks is brilliant about them.
So I find things that I find brilliant about just about everybody. And so everyone in the world is become my teacher. Every single person I've ever met is my teacher. And, and, and that attitude that you can learn so tremendously much from anybody, you know and maybe particularly those that other people would consider unworthy of learning from, and those are my greatest teachers.
Okay. So when you have the whole world as your group of teachers and you have an enormous belief in their brilliance, in their wisdom, in their capability then you've got a huge army at your disposal because when you go out and believe so deeply in other people, they feel it, they know it, it helps them.
And become the best version of themselves. And so, you know, like I I guess I didn't write this in the book, but I often say it since with the creation of my docu-series, you know, connected. I'm not sure if you know about that, but anyway, my docu series is all about demonstrating that all of us in this world, we're really all the same in the sense that all of us want to be seen, valued, understood, and loved.
I mean, that's what we all want. And we go about it very, very different ways. Some people very effectively, and some people not so effectively, I would say that very, very wealthy people tend to go about being seen valued, understood, and loved with much less skill and much less effectiveness. I mean in my mind, there's absolutely no question that that's true.
Poor people tend to value in life. The things that are most important, loyalty love for family cooperation, helping others. I mean, a lot of people who are quote unquote poor. And again, I put that in quotes because to me being not having much money, doesn't make you poor. Having a poor spirit makes you bore, but, but people who care about each other, love each other, help each other and are always in service of others.
If they have no dollars, they're rich and they're rich and friendships, they're rich and fulfillment. They're rich and connection and unity with God, no matter how you define God, by the way. Cause when I say God, I don't mean the God of some religion. I mean, like I defined in my book that, which is more powerful than us and beautiful and, and, and you know, loving and all-knowing and something that unites us all.
And so, you know, that being in touch with. God being in touch with love, being in touch with, you know, sort of universal consciousness, if you want to call it that being in touch with and being able to make a connection with other human beings, animals or nature. I mean, that's where all fulfillment comes from and that's where all brilliance comes from.
And that's the power that I've been able to, I think, quite successfully harness to help me to, for instance, build a law firm or for instance, run Chipotle effectively or you know, write a good book or, you know, do my docu-series or anything that I've done in my life that, that other people would say, Hey, that's cool.
That's successful. How did you do that? It's it's really from learning, learning, learning as much as I can from other people and working my very hardest to help other people be at their best. But if you want to help other people be at their best, the best place to start is to really learn to love people, to respect them, to know that they're filled with brilliance to, to admire that brilliance, to, to learn from that brilliance.
And I think I've done that.
Srini Rao: Yeah. Yeah. So one of the other things that struck me in, and this is one of the things I actually highlighted three is I make a point of either bold highlight or, you know just underline what I'm taking notes. And this struck me in particular, you said the reality is there are no dead end jobs.
There's no getting ahead. There are no lousy parts of life that should be met with impatience. Instead of each part of our experience holds extremely valuable lessons for our development. It should be cherished. And you know, Robert Green said this in the book, mastery said no experience in your life should be thought of as wasted.
I think the reason that. In particular stood out to me was because my first job out of high school was at McDonald's or in high school was that McDonald's. And I looked back at that and you know, that was one of the best character building experiences ever, because I think it one taught me how privileged I was, because, you know, for me it was, Hey, this is my job.
During my senior year. I'm out of here in eight, you know, eight months and my mother would not let me quit. She was like, there's no way in hell. You're quitting. Cause after three months I wanted to quit. And basically I had this angry Jamaican lady as a manager constantly. So, which is an odd paradox in and of itself.
But what I realized I've never been
Monty Moran: to the average American person. Yeah. Me either.
Srini Rao: But you know, the crazy thing was like, you know, I didn't realize it at the time obviously, but now I look back and say, you know, like that was basically life from a lot of the people who were working there for me, it was just a pit. Yeah. And I guess, you know, how do people learn to recognize the value in what seems like a dead end job?
Because I think to me, you know, in fact I'm writing a new book that I plan to self publish, and I have a section in it titled find a job that you hate. And I said, you need a reason for that to appreciate because after that, you will appreciate the jobs that you have after in a way that you never would otherwise.
Monty Moran: Yeah, it is. It, is it actually the title of the book's gonna be, find a job you hate? No, no. Although that would be a
Srini Rao: good title
Monty Moran: for a book because yeah, that'd be great title for a book. I'd love that title. But if I had that title, you know, with my subtitle, it would be, so the title would be, find a job you hate the subtitle would be, and then.
That would be my subtitle. And to me, that's hugely important. It's like, I love the idea of find a job cause it's funny. Right. But really, I don't believe, I don't believe in hitting a job. I think, I think it's like get a job and then be grateful as how you have it work your absolute hardest at it, separate yourself every way you can in terms of being excellent in terms of what you, what you give to your employer, give as much as you can with as minimal of expectations of receiving as you can.
And then you will find yourself growing mightily and, and having great success. I the, when people say dead end job, it just gets my hackles up. It dead end job. Or when people say, oh yeah, he had a kind of a shitty career. What does that mean? The only shitty career is a career where you don't do any good for anyone else and you hate it.
Okay. Well, okay. I guess you could call that shitty, but I would say what's shitty about that is your attitude. You know, anyone who's got a shitty career, their attitude sucks. Okay. Cause you can go to any job and I mean, any job, you know it just popped in my mind that dirty jobs show from TV, but you can go into any job and.
Something wonderful about it. Find something meditative, find something spiritually rewarding. Find something that you can grow from from every single moment of every day should be a learning experience. You know, and especially those things that are difficult, especially those things where you feel underappreciated, undervalued, you know, learn to find value in that, which you don't much value, you know, learn to find excellence in that.
What you think doesn't matter. Do a great job when no one's watching, you know, these things, aren't just, you know, aren't just, you know, cute things to say, these are the way you learn to become fulfilled. These are the way you feel good about yourself and they're the way you become successful. I mean, anyone who becomes really successful gets there by doing something of great value for them.
I mean, that's how you get there. Right? So to demonstrate from a very young age or from a very early stage in your career, that you care about what you do and you will do it to the very best of your ability. That's a huge lesson that everyone should learn. So I think your mom was right. No, you're not quitting that job after three months, you're going to stay there until you learn to work with this difficult, to make a hateful, whatever lady, you know, I mean, you're going to stay there until you become best friends with that boss, or at least get a great working relationship.
You're going to stay there until you appreciate that job. I I'm, I'm on your mom's side all day long.
Srini Rao: Yeah, it's funny. Cause I mean, I I've been probably fired from every single job I've ever had post-college which is why I don't have one. But my very first job was working for, with this tyrant of a CEO.
He was an Indian guy, young, you know, and he fired me five days before Christmas. And I always thought that that job was such a waste, but I realized the most valuable thing I got from that job was how not to lead.
Monty Moran: Oh, well, that's true too. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. The guy was
Srini Rao: terrible. Yeah. You know, he, he, he fired somebody every three months.
I mean, eventually the board removed him about two years after I left and the company never really amounted to what it should have and largely because, you know, he had, you know, there was a lot of nepotism. I mean, it was like a great lesson in how not to run a company.
Monty Moran: And those lessons are valuable too.
Srini Rao: Speaking of, you know, running a company, I mean, you ran, you know, what is effect will be a massive organization that all of us are familiar with. And one of the things that you talk about in the book is vulnerability. And you say that, you know, we need to become more, not less human. We need to be in touch with who we are and share ourselves with them, such that we're worthy of their continued trust and confidence.
We must be wise enough to know when we should lead them or allow them to lead us because a great leader must at times be a good follower. But you also talk about sort of this capacity to be fully human. And one of the things, I mean, you are in a particularly interesting position because one of the things I realized as a public figure is that you almost have to be selective when, you know, when it comes to vulnerability.
You know, so as a public figure, who has been an, in such a high profile position, where is that line for you between vulnerability and train wreck? Because I know that I've crossed it and sometimes that's what it's taken to take in to figure out where it's at.
Monty Moran: Well, okay, great question. Let's play with this.
So let me start with. A bold statement and then you can prove me wrong and we can have some fun with it. I don't think there's any line at all. I don't think there's any line whatsoever. I think you, you show maximum vulnerability in all phases of life at all times. Period. That's what I think. Now, let, let me, let me, let me sort of back up a second to say, okay, but does that mean that, you know, that you're, that you're always gonna, you know, that you always cry when you're sad?
Does it mean you, you say what comes to your mind every second? Every day, no matter what audience you're in front of? No. No. I mean, you can be vulnerable and still behave appropriately, you know? So you can feel strong feelings and still behave appropriately. But I think vulnerability is a state of being that is always better than, than to try to draw a line and enough times where you're not vulnerable.
So that's what I think. So, but, but poke holes in that. Yeah.
Srini Rao: So the, the reason I asked that, you know, I was, I was on a reality TV show earlier this year that ended up, you know, or like, I think it aired last summer called Indian matchmaking. And one of the things that I went in knowing was that, okay, I had a cousin who was an attorney.
I had him look at the media release and he said, look, he. It doesn't matter what this release says, I'm pure an attorney. So you probably know this. He said it doesn't matter what this says. He's like, anybody can make you look like a jackass in the editing. He said, your job is to give them zero AMA, which they can do that with.
And I realized I was mindful of that because I already had a public presence. I, you know, I have investors that I'm accountable to. I have, because, you know, I think when you're it, I mean, just as you are, you know, as a CEO of AAA, when you're in the public eye, everything you do is a reflection on all of the people who are associated with you.
So if you're an idiot, they are by association. Like I remember telling somebody once I think it might've been on the show where I was like, you know, as crazy as it sounds, there are probably some really great, wonderful kind people who worked in the Trump administration, but by association, everybody thinks they're hard.
Monty Moran: Right. Right, right. Well, you know, I don't think being vulnerable ever means that you have to be stupid. And when you're really vulnerable, I listen. I mean, if ever you've pointed an example where you gotta be careful with vulnerability, reality TV show with an editor, doing whatever the hell he wants might be the example.
Right. Because if, but, but, but again, if you go into that situation of a reality TV show and as a participant and you are vulnerable being vulnerable again also when you're really vulnerable, it means that you're going to be more aware, more astute, more alert, more. And, and it really defacto. I mean, I mean, because of all those things more intensely.
You know, and so you're going to be more aware in your state of maximum vulnerability of other people who might try to be taken. It might try to take advantage of you being vulnerable. Doesn't mean letting someone take advantage of you. It means letting yourself have full access to your heart. You know, at all times it means it means if something hurts, you letting it feeling the pain and letting the pain be, it means if something makes you sad, feeling, allowing the sadness, you know, if something makes you angry, you allow the anger.
Now it doesn't mean that if something makes you angry in a situation where it's not appropriate to slam your fist down, you can choose to not sign your fist out and still have behavior appropriate for the situation. But but that doesn't mean you weren't vulnerable. That just means you made a decision to behave in a certain way that was appropriate to a situation.
Srini Rao: Well, let's talk specifically about empowerment, because I know that you, you know, talked about this throughout the book multiple times. I mean, you said it's the holy grail of leadership. You say empowerment is the heart of leadership. If you can figure out how to empower the people you lead, it will help you lead any organization to huge success teaching and learning the art of empowering others can be challenging and doing it well involves mastery of many interrelated concepts.
And, you know, I think that the reason that struck me so much, as you know, we're about to have a transition on our team our current community managers leaving and somebody else's taken over. And, you know, I realized I hadn't asked her, like, what do you want out of this? Like, what is your vision for what you're going to get from this?
And it, like, it just reminded me that I needed to do that. But talk to me about this. Like where do people go wrong with this? And then, you know, how do they actually do it? Well,
Monty Moran: yeah. Well, okay. The place people go wrong, the way people go wrong or do this incorrectly is that they try to amass power.
Okay. That's probably the biggest way people go wrong. They, they, when someone who's putting a leadership position and they're ambitious and they're hardworking and they're intelligent, what they will usually do is try to be very, very, very good at what they do. Try to have the answers, try to try to wield the power, try to tell other people what to do, and basically get involved in in thinking and basically coming to the place where they decide that it's all about them.
You know, that if they do a great job, if things will go well, then if they don't it won't. But what they forget is the only way to really be a great leader is to harness the power of. You have to harness the power of other people. You know, there's only so much any one of us can do in this world. Okay.
Even if you're brilliant as hell, like you Musk, guess what? You've got a huge team of people doing brilliant things. He assembled huge teams of really smart people and points them in the direction of achieving, you know, making a brilliant product like a Tesla or like a space X, rocket. So he has to harness the power of thousands of people, you know, him being brilliant.
Well, cool. Well, awesome. Well, fun and well, something to admire for all of us is not even close to enough to do what he's been able to accomplish as, as a leader and the only source of leaders. Is that other people choose to follow. The only source of a leader's power is other people choose voluntarily to follow that leader.
There is no way to get people to follow you by demanding that they follow you. Now yes, you can get them to do their job by threatening to fire them. But that's, that's what I call management. You can't manage brilliant set of someone. You can only lead someone to brilliance. Okay? So if you want to create an extraordinary organization that accomplishes more than anyone ever thought possible, you need to be a leader, not a manager.
And as I say in the book, a manager is someone who basically gets someone to do something that they want them to do. But a leader is someone who gets someone to do something that they themselves, the person themselves wants to do, which is also in furtherance of the leader's mission. Leadership is so different than management and the biggest mistake people make is they go manage what I've seen.
I've seen many, many very intelligent, very brilliant people who are god-awful leaders. And the reason they're bad leaders is they actually don't care about the piece. That they're with, they don't respect. The people are there with, they think that they are better or above the people they're leading or they're managing, I won't say leading cause they're not leading.
No, they're managing, if you think you're above other people, I mean just, if you think you're above other people and they're there. You're going to be a lousy leader. You're not going to be a leader, you'll be a manager. You can't do it. You have to look to other people for their brilliant help. You have to see their brilliance.
You have to want to watch it blossom. You know, and I say, in the book, everyone's natural state is to grow blossom, develop and become a better version of themselves. That's what, everyone's natural status, but not many people are doing that. Okay. Why not? Well, there is some dysfunction present, okay. Either they had a very difficult upbringing or they've got a, you know, psychological demons or they're, you know, they're have drug dependencies because of that.
Or they have whatever there's something going on in their life. That's holding them back. The leader's job is to help remove dysfunction. The leader's job is to help make help someone else to be confident in their ability and encouraged by their circumstances. That's the leader's job. So most people who go into positions of quote-unquote leadership, like CEO jobs, or whatever are put in those jobs, they fail because they try to do it all themselves and they try to hoard them.
The best way to lead others is to give your power away as much as effectively as you can so that all the people around you feel powerful. All the people around you are powerful. All the people around you can do the very best work that they can do with a heart filled with a vision that makes them want to do that work.
It makes them dream of accomplishing that work for their own sense of fulfillment. Now you've got something now you're going to achieve brilliance and that's the, and that's what leadership is about. Empowerment is a bastardized word that that is highly misunderstood. And it to be, to be honest with you, it's very frustrating for me when people incorrectly understand empowerment or use it incorrectly because what people are doing, if they're using that word and oftentimes using it in a way that's touchy, subordinating people holding power from people and trying to keep people, you know, stuck, but a leader doesn't do that.
A leader helps others to be the very, very best version of themselves as leader helps people grow blossoming.
Srini Rao: Wow. So let's wrap up by talking about two final things priorities and vision. As I said to you, I think the most tactical thing that I got out of the book was, you know, you said that the key when picking priorities is finding the things that have done well will affect the most positive change in all areas of the company.
A worthwhile exercise is to write down the top 10 things that you can do to improve your business. Then take time to prioritize those in terms of potential impact, look, to see if any of them, if completed would advance. The other part is on your list for those, put them on the top. Once they're in order, you should devote your time to the top three or three.
And I actually ended up writing a, you know, a blog post for our private community about this saying, you know, they'll put like what I call the high impact decisions and how, you know, and I use the example of an online course and saying, okay, if this, you know, investing in this course is aligned with your goals.
You know, maybe you should invest in it. But it's kind of funny because I think that you'll see this over and over again and damn near every business book, every piece of advice you get from startup, you know advisors and even Sam Altman says this, you know, that like the job of a founder is execution.
And it's just this year as long grind. So bullshit. Sorry, go for it.
Monty Moran: I mean, the job of a founder is execution
Srini Rao: to some degree. Yeah. I mean, I, I may be bastardizing the words or not paraphrasing. Yeah. Okay.
Monty Moran: I mean, I mean, yeah. I mean, okay. The job of a founder I guess, is to, is to, is to create, or have a vision for some product or service.
That's going to be of huge value to others and find a way to make it happen. Right. But that the biggest part of that is going to be, to empower a team ultimately.
Srini Rao: Yeah. But this prioritization thing, you know, the reason I, I think it caught my attention is like, I see so many people who are perpetually distracted, they are never able to get anything done.
You know, one, how do they figure out what they should prioritize? I mean, to me, like I said, this exercise was invaluable because it just boil it down. Okay. These are the only three things I should be doing for the next like month.
Monty Moran: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, so, and when you're in a CEO CEO position or any senior executive position, you're going to have loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of things that you can do.
You're gonna have loads of suggestions of things that other people say are important to do. You're going to have salespeople and vendors coming at you saying, you need this product or service or software, because it's gonna make you way, way, way better. You're going to have a, a just, you know, you're going to be like, It's like a machine gunfire of things coming at you, which seemed like generally good ideas.
You know, the problem is if you take, if you try to do a lot of them you're in deep trouble because you'll lose focus and you will not succeed. So what's really important to do is find out, okay, what is it that we want to achieve as a business? And just start writing it out. What do we want to achieve?
What are the most important things we want to pull off? And when you write them all down then you, then you can sort of start to prioritize. You know, it's a Postlight when I, I got there, I thought, well, you know, all of a sudden I'm in this new job as being, you know, the top guy at a company with a lot of people in a lot of restaurants, I thought, what can I do?
Like, what can I do? You know, I can spend all day everyday trying to SWAT at symptoms and make things better and, and tell people to clean stuff up and tell them to run the restaurants better. But that's not really going to lead to much, what can I do that will make that will make everything better. And when I pretty quickly understood was okay, but clearly when you have thousands of people working for you, the first thing, and most important thing you can do is make sure that all of them are as empowered and as effective as they can be.
Right? So anything that you do to make them more effective is going to have a thousand. If you have a thousand employees, it's going to have a thousand fold increase in productivity or a thousand fold, I should say it will be leveraged a thousand fold. Okay, whatever you do times a thousand people will be leveraged a thousand people.
If it's 75,000 people, as, as we're working with me at Chipola. And if you are find a way to empower all 75,000 of them, you've just leveraged 75,000 people which is infinitely, well, maybe not 75,000 times more important than leveraging yourself better. The way to leverage yourself is to leverage others.
So always the top priority has to be that the team is excellent, but when it comes to operational priorities, you know, things to do at Chipotle. And I looked at people and I thought, you know, what is it that's gonna make us do? Well, well, the answer is if customers love us and want to come back a lot and eat tons of burritos and tell their friends because they love them so much that they tell their friends and their friends come to their friends, tell their friends and so forth.
That's what we need to do to be successful. How do you do that? Well, the answer to that is you have an excellent restaurant experience. Well, how do you have an excellent restaurant experience? Well, the answer is you have an incredible team that really cares and produces an excellent restaurant experience.
Okay. Once you have a good team, what is the most important aspect of the restaurant experience? Well, when it came down to me, you know, I wrote a bunch of things down. Okay. Huge list. Okay. Really clean restaurants, perfectly followed recipes, really well, prepared food, clean equipment, clean environment, clean bathrooms in the restaurant.
You can write a huge list of things that will make that restaurant experience. Great. Right. Okay. So you write all those down, but then you decide, well, how do you know. Well, and one of those things that you put, like one of those things was throughput. Okay. The speed with which we serve customers. But here's what I figured out if you really focused on throughput.
Okay. And tried to get people serve more quickly. The act of working on throughput, entailed doing lots of the other things on that list really well. So if you say to the team and our Twilio. Hey guys, 18. Well, first of all, let's assume you've already made a terrific team of empowered people. That's always number one.
Okay. Now you've got a terrific team of empowered people who have a vision of having a great restaurant. And then you say to them guys, Hey, let's serve customers really quickly because here's what happens when you serve customers quickly. You know, their food will be, I mean, first of all, they won't wait in line as long, which is something they don't like.
They'll get their food more quickly, which they will like the food will be more, it'll be hard. Cause it won't have cooled off on the line, so it will taste better. Then if you're serving them quickly, that means you're gonna be cooking more food more often on the grill, which means it will be more fresh.
It will be right off the grill, which has just a wonderful taste. It means that your food and the line will be constantly running out and refill refilled, running out and refill it. So it won't look old and cold. It will look fresh and new and delicious, and it will be fresh and new and delicious. So as you move faster, your food gets better tasting to move faster, though requires you to do a bunch of things.
It requires you to be ready before any customer comes in. It requires you to be extremely organized, to have extra spoons. So you don't have to go walking back to get a spoon. When your spoon falls on the floor that you're serving spin, I'm talking about in the front line, it involves having all the tin foils that you're gonna wrap burritos in separated so they don't get stuck together.
So it doesn't take longer to serve a customer. It involves, you know having the line perfectly organized. It involves having the right people in the right places in the line. It involves so many things that are also things that make the restaurant operation. That if you just focus on throughput, it tends to cause all other operational initiatives to be well accomplished.
And, and therefore it's a home run. So instead of saying, Hey guys, let's keep it really organized restaurant. If you say, Hey, let's have maximum throughput. And then you show someone how to achieve that through, but well, achieving that through, but requires great organizations. So now you don't have to talk about organization as a separate desired goal.
You see what I mean? So, so the way to pick priorities in a business is to find the one or two or three priorities, which if done will cause the team to accomplish the rest of them. You see what I mean? So certain certain goals have lots of other goals associated with them. Those are the goals you want to.
Srini Rao: Beautiful. Well, let's, let's wrap up by talking about vision. I loved the fact that you gave such a nice and also clear explanation of vision where you said there are three rules to be sure that your vision is an effective one. It's relatable, it's realistic. And it's impactful because I think that, you know, when people read books like Simon Sinek, start with why many of the other books that talk about this kind of stuff they seem to feel like, okay, I can just apply this sort of foolproof formula.
And, you know, at the end of it, it'll spit out my vision for my company or whatever it is that I'm working on. And. I've learned that there's far from true, because even, you know, the whole idea of unmistakable was something that emerged at a three and a half years of work prior to, you know, rebranding, everything we did under the unmistakable creative umbrella.
Like we were started out as a podcast for bloggers and it was the messages. I heard the things that resonated with me and even the things that pissed me off that ultimately related, you know, resulted in this message. So I'm curious, like how somebody can actually use these three rules to develop a vision for their life or their work.
Monty Moran: Yeah. Great question. I, you know, you know, that show undercover, but. I've heard of it. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, yeah. So I've seen it once or twice and, or at least parts of it, but basically the concept is, you know, you take the CEO and you, and you dress them up with you know, mustache and beard and costume and put them into one.
If the retail operation, you put them into the retail operation and you know, what makes the show, I guess, funny and successful is that basically the CEO who's dressed up and put into their store, always learns, you know, incredibly I'm saying that, I guess jokingly, they're always, they always learn to their grand astonishment that the people in the retail location, let's say it's the restaurant, the people in the restaurant don't give a shit about their job.
Don't care about the restaurant. Don't care about the customers can't wait to quit, but just looking for something better. And when the boss learns that there was like, oh my God, I had no idea. Well, it's absurd that they had no idea. Okay. The idea of not knowing what is in the hearts and minds of the people working for you is.
I don't, I don't know if I have a word strong enough. It is not only negligent. It is. You should be fired immediately for that. I mean, you should be out on your butt. You should not be the CEO. If you don't know what the people in your restaurants, in my case, or, you know, in your retail operation, think care about like don't like want to do, don't want to do, you know, so to go in and be surprised by that stuff is inexcusable.
And so when you go find out that the people in your restaurant don't give a shit about their job, don't care about the customers, don't care about the restaurant, don't care about whether they do a good job or bad job, you know, guess why they do. Well it's cause they don't have a vision of their own that they think will be achieved by working hard for you.
Okay. So what you know, so then you have to ask yourself, when you find out they don't give a shit, then you have to say it instead of saying, why don't they give a shit? You should ask the opposite question. Why would they give a shit? You know, why would people in the restaurant care about your stupid profits?
Why would they care about your stupid success? Why would they care about your stupid yacht? You're going to buy? They don't, they shouldn't. Why should they care about that shit? So what should people care about? Well, people should care about something that's going to help them have a great life. People should help.
They should care about being seen, valued, loved, and understood. They should care about feeling worthwhile needs. Powerful, helpful, useful, critical. That's what people should feel good about. And that's what they do feel good about. So a vision is critical. Okay. Because the vision, like if your people have a vision that they believe in with their own heart, not because you told them to, but because they're like, man, I want that for me.
Okay. If they have a vision that they want for themselves, guess what they're to want to do it, and they're gonna want to do it for themselves. Now, people working for themselves, that's what, and for themselves and the betterment of the people around them and their families through their own excellence.
That's what makes people great. So that's where a vision is so critical. Now that means, you know, so if you have a vision, you can't have a vision at the top. It's like, Hey, here's the vision I'm going to, you know, and you guys go do it. No, no, no, no, no, no. That's management. If you have a vision that you find to be important, then you have to ask yourself why would tens of people or hundreds of people or thousands of people better.
By being part of the journey of achieving this vision. So you have to find a way that each of them will become the best version of themselves in further. And so of that, you know you know, at Spotify we had, when I started there, we had 87% of our crew were Hispanic and and almost all the managers were white.
Okay. And the Hispanic people didn't move up through the ranks because there wasn't a method by which to move up through the ranks. They didn't really have but they didn't have a vision. In fact, when I went and talked to them, when I trained in the restaurant I talked about in this, this, in the, in the book, but basically I went undercover and went to a restaurant where no one knew who I was and I did the restaurant training.
And what I learned was the crew were awesome. They were incredible. These people were really brilliant, but they had no ambition to move up through the ranks because no one had told them they could, no one had made it possible and it wasn't happening. And so that really bothered me. And I thought, why be training all these people from the outside to go be the boss of these people in the restaurants.
And so I thought, okay, well, let's switch. Let's completely change it. Let's get rid of this management training program, which goes out and hires white men from the outside to be the boss of Hispanic people. And instead. Let's stop hiring anyone from the outside and let's go to our crew and start and start put together a system by which our crew people can move up through the ranks.
And so we gave them a vision and that vision was to become part of a team of top performers, empowered to achieve high standards that we, they each had a vision that every single person that we hired in spotlight was going to be a future manager or leader. If they wanted to be, we needed them. And not only do we need them, but 100% of our managers were going to come from crew.
And then thereafter 100% of our executives were going to come from managers. And so we had this, we built this system of upward mobility where all of our future leaders came from people entry-level hourly employees at the restaurant. So what happened? Well, what happened was loads, more people wanted to work at your boat line.
We got way more applicants for each job. The managers were choosing people. As for crew positions who they thought could be future managers, and what naturally happened was, guess what? I mean, our manager pool became instead of almost all white men, it became actually it was over 50% women and it was at one point it became over 50% Hispanic since we had a lot of Hispanics working in the restaurant, the manager pool eventually reflected the crew.
God, it was so powerful because all these people moved up through the ranks because they had a vision that they believed in. They knew the company believed in them. They knew that we wanted them to be our future leaders. They knew that we cared about them, saw them, understood them, value them, and love them.
That they knew that they were the cat daddies. They were important. They were the people on whom, on whose backs we were going to build the future of this organization. And they knew that they weren't only part of it, that they were critical to it. And guess what? They did it for themselves. And so they were excellent.
So our restaurant operations got phenomenally better. Our throughput went through the roof, our sales went through the roof, the cup, we got to grow loads, more restaurants, which gave loads more jobs to loads, more managers, all of whom would come up from within. It was brilliant. All because we created a great vision that was understood by the people in the lowest positions of the organization, the entry-level positions, they understood the vision, they wanted it for themselves and they knew how to achieve it.
And boom, huge.
Srini Rao: Amazing. Well, I want to finish with two final things at the end of the book you write about stepping down from Chipotle and you talk about parting ways with somebody, you know your, your co CEO, Steve. And I think the, the thing that, that struck me was the fact that it wasn't necessarily partying on the greatest of terms, even though you both kind of said, oh, we're not going to let this affect our friendship.
But then, you know, he basically says something about what he wants to say about why you're leaving to the New York times. And you actually tell him that's not. Okay. And then you conclude by saying that you guys haven't spoken since.
Monty Moran: Yeah. I mean, you know, listen, I, Steve's a brilliant guy and I've got nothing but love for Steve.
I mean, he's really, he's an awesome guy and we had so much fun working together, you know, I think it's just, you know, at the end of a situation like that, it's, you know, it's, it's very difficult. To decide to leave any job you've loved. Okay. I mean, I had a hard time leaving dairy queen. I had hard time leaving the place where I was a mechanic.
I had a hard time leaving the place where I was an auto parts salesman. I had a really hard time leaving the place where I was a janitor. I mean, cause I loved those jobs and I was, and I felt really good in them and valuable in them. Well, I mean, Chipotle, I got, I was there almost 13 years and I had the ability to meet tens of thousands of brilliant people and, and and we achieved so much success together as a team and it was really, really fun.
And so making the decision to leave was, was really, really hard. And and, and, you know, it's just, it's an emotional time. And so It's, you know, it's difficult. It's just really, really hard. And I don't think there's any way that, and I think that you know, Steve and I were so intense, intently involved, both loving this company, both wanting it to be successful.
Both putting our heart and soul, you know, into Chipotle. And then, and then ultimately, you know, when it came time to leave, it's, it's, it's, you know, we had spent so many years together, so intensely that, and, and, and I guess, you know, when I left, I was just sort of, I actually, we left on great terms. I mean, we, we left with a hug and telling each other, we love each other.
And, and that was true and is true, but, you know, but then when he called, you know, a few days later and sort of, Hey, can we, can we sort of spin it this way with regard to how you're leaving. That just didn't feel right to me. And so I thought, Hey, you know, that doesn't feel good, but that wasn't, that, that didn't.
And we left on bad terms. That just meant that, that one thing I sort of said no, and I think he felt frustrated and I felt frustrated, but I don't, I'm not hanging on to that. That's not something that I'm hanging on to, and I'm sure he's. I,
Srini Rao: you know, I, I just appreciate it that you, you mentioned that because I think that, you know, one of the things people don't see is that they're inevitably things that become ugly when a business grows, you know, like you see the social network and you're like, okay, you know, that whole, you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies along the way.
Monty Moran: Yeah. But actually, I don't know. I mean, I don't, I guess I don't agree. Yeah. I don't think I have any enemies. I mean, Steve is certainly not my enemy. I mean, like I say, Steve and I have shared a huge part of our lives together, incredibly successful and had a blast, you know, I mean, you know, if I could do everything again with Steve, I'd do it again.
And then I do it again. I'd do it again. It was great. You know, so, and I don't think I have any enemies in the world. God, I hope not. If they're out there, I hope that they forgive me somebody
Srini Rao: on a bad meal that you pump away or
Monty Moran: something like that, but really, I don't think you need to leave. And I don't like that kind of attitude that we need to leave enemies in our tracks or leave hurt people in our tracks.
I don't believe in that shit. I think that's total bullshit. I mean, I really do, and I, I really don't believe in it, but you know, maybe someone will prove me wrong and say, okay, you're here.
Srini Rao: Yeah. I mean, for me, it's, it's, you know, I'll tell you like the, to me, the, the, you know, when we've lost team members because of conflict you know, not being able to see eye to eye, I still, you know, to me, those are my greatest regrets.
Like, you know, I, those are the things I wish hadn't turned out the way they did.
Monty Moran: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, but you know, they turn out the way they turn out for a reason, but it's really, I think it's, it's really easy just to be very great. Yeah. To the people who have come into your life, whether they gave you difficulty or whether they did something wonderful for you.
I mean, either way they're teachers, you know, you learn from them. And so I just think that proceeding with maximum gratitude, for every interaction with every person you've ever met. Is appropriate and it's, you know, and I'll tell you what it is. Sometimes it involves forgetting, right? If somebody has done something that really hurt you, sometimes you have to forgive them.
But guess who wins the most when, you know, in the, in the action of forgiving, is it the forgiveness? Forgive me. What's the forgive or yeah, the guy or the person who forgives is the one who gets the most out of forgiving it's because now they let it go. Now they can take deep breaths. Now they can feel their heartbeat rich and full, and now they can be with their maximum vulnerability and the other heart to be open to God and truth and love and the universe.
I mean, that's, what's, that's what life's about. It's not cutting ourselves off or compartmentalizing. Oh yeah. That guy was an asshole or that woman was, you know, she never treated me. Right. Or I got that. Girlfriend was nasty to me, you know, it's like, let it go, man. We're all just doing the best we can. And, and, you know, we're all trying to love each other and love ourselves and, and be worthwhile and, and be valuable in this world.
And you know, we're doing sometimes a shitty job of it. Sometimes. A great, yeah. But we're, you know, we're all doing the best we can. I'd like to think.
Srini Rao: Yeah. Wow. Well I have one last question for you, which is how we finish all of our interviews at the end of SQL creative. What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable
Monty Moran: access to their heart, real access to their heart, the ability to share their heart with everyone else.
And if you share that with maximum openness and maximum vulnerability, everyone will see how special you are. And it doesn't matter who you are, your special. And, and it's like, and that's just not some cute hallmark card bullshit. What I mean is somebody, anyone in this world, if they really get in touch with their heart and expose their heart and find it and let it be and forgive it.
And I'm saying, forgive their own heart for, you know, forgive themselves and forgive the moment and frigging, let it go and just be, and really allow their heart just to be in its fullness. Then they're going to be a gift to the world. They're going to be gift a gift to the people around them. They're going to be someone incredible and you know, and that allows you to release judgment, you know, towards others, you know?
Cause when you only have maximum vulnerable. It doesn't come with judgment. It comes with no judgment. And I think that if we can all release judgment and allow ourselves to become the fullest version of ourselves then we will be unmistakable.
Srini Rao: Incredible. Well, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and share your insights and wisdom with our listeners.
I've learned so much dust talking with you and from reading your book where can people find out more about you, your book your work and everything else. So you're up to well,
Monty Moran: well, well, first of all, thank you so much. It's been really fun hanging out with you and chatting, and I just find it really fun to talk about these saying that your question's really good.
And thank you so much for reading my book. I really appreciate it. So, yeah. So as you, as you mentioned, the book is called love is free. Guac is extra. Well, our website is love is free.com and on that website, yeah. Find out about the book. You can buy a book if you'd like, you can even have me inscribe it to, to someone or to yourself, and I'll write whatever you want me to write.
And that's kind of a neat little feature that we put in there, but also on the website, it'll teach you about our docu series, which is called connected a search for unity, which played on PBS, but now is available. I think it's on the PBS world streaming service, but also if anyone has trouble finding that and watching it, just write us on the website, love is free.com.
You can get ahold of me that way and you can find out what we're up to. And you can look at some excerpts from the docu series and you can get a book and whatever. So yeah, that's, that's the best way to communicate with me.
Srini Rao: Amazing. Well, like I said, I can't thank you for taking the time to join us.
Monty Moran: Thank you. It was really fun. Thanks so much. Hey, you live in Boulder, so let's let's get together sometime. I'd love to meet you in person.
Srini Rao: Absolutely. And for everybody listening, we will wrap the show with that.