Lou Tice, who taught the world how to speak betterApril, 2023
I landed in Seattle after a very long flight, a small van is waiting to take me directly to... the airport again to board Lou Tice’s private jet... I have made a short research abound about him in advance and knew he is a unique person and an amazing coach, someone who teaches others how to live better and how to make their business a pleasure - for them and for their employees.
"I'm not sure Starbucks would have had that success,
if it wasn’t Lou, he taught us how to look at everything around us in a completely different way, and that gave us a great start," my accidental namesake and good, unfortunately only virtual, friend Howard Behar tells me just days before I arrive in Seattle. One of the founders of the world-famous coffee and beverages chain, author of the world-renowned book "It's Not About the Coffee" A bit of info from the internet too and I'm now right next to Lou in his seat on the small plane, waiting to arrive near the Canadian border at his ranch and spend more than a week having great conversations about life and the pleasure of it...
"The most important thing is to actually be able to control yourself. If you can't manage that, then
don't expect to be a good manager,
and maybe not a good person at all," Lou tells me later in the evening over a glass of Irish single malt as I absentmindedly look behind his back at posters of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and a lots of other legendary country singers who've visited to sing at the ranch. He continues, "But to be able to control yourself you have to be able to talk to yourself well, take that as talking to yourself, haven't you ever done that..."
"Oh, I do it every day, sorry for the frankness, but in the shower because I'm alone in there and I'm super comfortable..."
"But that's the best place to do it,
go on, don't stop..."
Lou tells me and adds, "You know Max, very few people admit that to me, and the vast majority don't get a sense of when and how they're counselling themselves at all. And you only get results when you do it consciously and in a controlled way."
Thus began a long and very comfortable acquaintance with the guru who has studied hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs from all over the world and found his place in the golden book of the best in this craft. The week at the ranch, and then the lectures at The Pacific Institute in Seattle, which he founded, are one of the most precious things in this life. From day one, hour one, I felt like we had known each other for years.
Lou Tice has had quite a complicated and very interesting life, from
which he had been constantly learning lessons,
according to him though, the most important one was while he spent hundreds of hours with his wife Diane, hoping that she would overcome cancer, and she did. In all our conversations with the two of them, already at their house in Seattle, I became convinced of how strong the will of a human who not only persuades but overcomes can be.
All the time in our conversations, simple words "flew" in the air, which connected into sentences made rules, also of course so simple, but unique in their validity. "All my science is
focused on the human, on you,
because very rarely can we ourselves influence what happens around us," Lou would says with his wide, good-natured smile.
Years later, I realize how right he was, right now after the pandemic, the war, the recession, and whatnot that has been heaped on the world in recent years. Things we could not and cannot influence.
It's really all in us.
We want to have an interest life. Well, how about if we ourselves are boring. We are looking for innovation. That can only happen if we ourselves invent them, if we are innovative, if we start looking tirelessly for how to diversify what we have. Or... how to get out of our comfort zone. Only then does real life begin, right when we step out and embark on a new adventure. Every time I argue with him quite emotionally. There are boring, interesting, brave, timid, modest, pompous people... And I do it even aggressively, but not because of the third drink by the burning fireplace, but because these conversations really light a fire me. "People are different, we can't expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to be "outside the box", to be interesting...", I almost shout in the semi-dark room a little after midnight, and in a way that makes me feel like even the country singers on the posters on the wall are cringing.
Lou Tice gives me a rather intrigued look, gets up slowly by the bookcase on the other side of the room and brings me his latest most famous book. He writes me a short dedication and says,
I like that you're emotional,
but still, the title of this book is all I can say to people to make them feel good..."
The title of his book is clear and accurate, "Smart Talk".
That's what Lou did all the time, with everyone and for everyone. "Talk smart and you'll get exactly where you want to go. And you don't just need patience or time. Because then you'll stay in your comfort zone forever. And it has never moved the world forward."
Talk smart. Smart Talk. That's what this extraordinary talent bequeathed to us, who left this world alone a year after our meetings, which he often said he enjoyed. And if I were to be accurate in translating that title, it would be Smart Talk. The right word in the right place.
And as Lou Tice used to say, “Talk smart, but first to yourself, then to others."