The Not Unreasonable Podcast

Stan McChrystal on Risk and Leadership

January 26, 2022 David Wright
The Not Unreasonable Podcast
Stan McChrystal on Risk and Leadership
Show Notes Transcript

Stan McChrystal retired as a 4 Star General in the US Army and has since founded the McChrystal Group, written four books and launched a podcast. Stan is one of the world's foremost scholars and practitioners of leadership and in this conversation we focus on his latest book, Risk: A User's Guide. As I say in the interview, I think this is Stan's most straightforward how-to guide on leadership and we dig very deeply into the nuanced and fascinating connection between leadership and uncertainty, including:
* What the history of military tactics can teach us about social progress
* How hard is it to manage Special Forces? Why might it be different than other branches of the military?
* When and why is Stan skeptical of using data to make decisions?
* How does uncertainty reduction help you judge a leader? 
* How do we use morality to help guide us through uncertainty? Who are the best at this in the military?
* What kind of information is toxic to decision making?

And more! Show notes at:
https://notunreasonable.com/2022/01/26/stan-mcchrystal-on-risk-and-leadership/

Twitter: @davecwright
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-wright-73661214/
Social Science of Insurance Essays: https://notunreasonable.com/the-social-science-of-insurance/

David Wright:

My guest today is Stan McChrystal, founder and CEO of the McChrystal group. Stan is a retired four star general with the US Army and former commander of the US International Security Assistance Forces, in Afghanistan. Stan has co authored several excellent books, the latest of which is titled Risk A User's Guide, which we'll be focusing on today. Stan also hosts an excellent podcast, which I can recommend, with Chris Fussell called no turning back. I think of Stan as one of the world's pre eminent scholars and practitioners of leadership. And today, I'm very excited to explore the fascinating and profound relationship between risk uncertainty and leadership. Stan, welcome to the show.

Stan McChrystal:

Well, thanks for having me. It's an honor.

David Wright:

First question. So in a couple of your books, you mentioned this movie called The Battle of Algiers. It's a really interesting film. And as I watched it preparing for this, I was struck by what I think of as kind of the universality of insurgencies and the Algerian insurgency as well. So it feels to me like the strategies of both the insurgents and the French military are commonly employed in these kind of conflicts. So in that I'm talking about right there's, there's there actually was an allusion to a suicide truck driver, I guess, in the Algerian, you know, the kind of it wasn't a suicide bombing, but it was kind of on that path. And then there's a use of extraordinary interrogation means by the French military. It was a ruthless fight. And it had echoes of at least what I read as a non practitioner of the battles against insurgencies. It looked, it looked very similar felt very similar. It felt like there's a pattern here, right pattern of behavior. And so it seems to me or a question I would first part of the question is are is that pattern right? Are insurgencies actually very simple and repetitive in kind of a social and political and tactical sense?

Stan McChrystal:

Well, thanks for the question. The pattern is correct. But I'm going to have to give a little bit of background on this because the pattern is also has a universality that you might not even have intended in the question. First off, I'd take you to the spring of 2004. In the fall of 2003, I'd taken command of Joint Special Operations Command America's counter terrorist forces. And we were spread across the Mideast but focused most heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan. And right at the end of March 2004, Fallujah in Iraq was starting to suddenly explode after almost a year since the initial invasion, the situation in Iraq had degraded really badly, and you had the rise of an organization called Al Qaeda in Iraq, and also other opposition to American and Allied forces there and to the the rising government of Iraq, I convened by commanders for Joint Special Operations Command in a place in Afghanistan. And I brought them together for two days, so we could focus on what our strategy ahead was going to be. And one of the things I did was I showed them the movie, The Battle of Algiers. And I brought in, in fact, an author, Douglas Porch who'd written a book on it as well. And the reason I did that is because the movie, The Battle of Algiers, was filmed in 1966. And many of the actors in the movie were, in fact, in insurgents, members of the The FLN, the Liberation Front and Algeria, and it has a documentary feel to it as a gritty feel to it. And if you watch it, as someone uninitiated in insurgencies, it looks like this recalcitrant French population that lived in Algeria, which was somewhat accurate depiction, and then a French military, which was struggling to deal against this insurgency that had popular support of the people. And that was generally accurate, but probably too simplified for the reality of it, because in fact, the situation was you had a French population that considered Algeria as part of Metropolitan France, not as a colony. You had an Algerian Native population that considered themselves absolutely disadvantaged, and there were economic indicators to, to reflect that. And then you had the French military who had come recently out of Indochina. And they had been defeated after a nine year war in Indochina. And they were trying to get it right this time. And so they were trying to ensure that they did the things that would allow them to be effective. So that's this sets up a struggle. And as the struggle occurs, the FLN the insurgents are trying to get the support of the people. And they do it in two ways. One way they do it is to provide hope to the people and provide services. There's an amazing scene in the movie where they conduct a marriage ceremony, separate from the French government. And they do that to create the sense of a parallel government that the insurgents have, in fact, created a state within a state and you could get basic services you would, you would look at that marriage as being valid and the the FLN are trying to do this by creating violence and getting an overreaction on the part of the French population that they call a period Noir's Blackfeet, who were the French who lived in Algeria, and then the French military, they wanted them to overreact. And if they would overreact and create oppression of the people, then the people would turn against the French. And it's the same in almost every insurgency I've ever seen, it's a battle for the support of the population, it's not a popularity contest, because in many cases, you say, well, I will just be better to the people, I will give them more. But if the insurgents or your opponents have more power, or they have a willingness to use violence in ways, then you will sometimes do what somebody wants you to do, whether you actually with your heart support them, because it's, it's absolutely practical living in Afghanistan, what would happen is, you could have the government or allied forces secure a village, seven days a week, 23 hours a day. But if one hour, the Taliban could come in and say, as soon as they leave, we're going to kill you, if you collaborate, then they have undercut all of that progress. And so what this does is it creates this really difficult construct, and the French military forces and similar to what we tried to do in Vietnam in one version, and what we tried to do in Iraq, and Afghanistan, are in this incredibly difficult position to try to win the support of the population by showing them that it's in their interest to support their government, and the support of the people, but at the same time, stop the insurgents. And so you have this conflict or friction that occurs, you can see it on the streets of America, go to a big city and see a police force that is trying to deal with the more difficult parts of a population. And how often do we see battle lines get drawn in the police force? Turns like the French military turned to torture in Algeria? How often do we see a police force get accused of using inappropriate tactics or disproportionate amounts of force? And it's because it's a human emotion, a frustration, a rage. And it is it can be, it can become the reason that the security forces fail. And so this complex interaction is something that I think people step back and simplify from afar. And it's something we all have to deal with, because it's, it's not going to go away from the world.

David Wright:

Well, that's what's amazing about that, is actually the pattern is even deeper and more nuanced and more consistent. Even then I would have my first impression, so. So you're a remarkable student and teacher of history, military history and other kinds. And so I want to kind of like understand how far we can push this, it's not necessarily a positive observation. But if if it's the case that this pattern is so consistently repeated, why haven't we learned like, I mean, there are 1000s of years of history of insurgencies, probably, I would guess, that we can look at, and we can probably see this pattern pop up again, and again and again. So to me, I see kind of two things, two conclusions. If this is right, I don't like either of them. So on the first of them, is that if we, if we haven't been able to, or why haven't we been able to eliminate this pattern of war, right, force it into a different kind of pattern, a fundamental pattern? And if, if we haven't done that, what does that imply about our ability to kind of learn at all right? Social and political progress have kind of any any real deep sense, right? Because this, this worries me a little bit, because we have this thing that keeps popping up? We don't like it. Right. And your point there about the French military is really interesting, because, you know, if we kind of just touch on the concept of risk again for a sec here, which we'll keep returning to, you know, they learned some lessons, some risks they wanted to avoid in this in this Algerian insurgency, right in Indochina, and they show up and they try and learn from those lessons and fail, I guess, I mean, the Battle of Adler's is kind of a narrow success, but in reality that went on for years and years and years after so can we learn from these things stand in the greater sense?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, that that's the big question. Let me ask you first can we learn in 1918, 1919 pandemic struck you the world killed, estimated 50 million people. We learned and we had already known some before what you do for public health in the case of a pandemic, we learned what works and they studied it and they they got a lot and then subsequent outbreaks of different pandemics between now and 2019. arrived and we learned even more, and in 2020, of course, late 2020 They created a vaccine So in the case of COVID-19, we had the answers to the test. And we were given this extraordinary vaccine. And yet we have had unbelievable damage done by COVID-19. to loss of people, people we care about loss of business, loss of confidence in our society. So the first question is, can we learn? That's a great big question, Mark. Can we similarly, I know you're in interested in in the insurance business? If you ask me, Well, what can I do to be in better health? Because I spent a fair amount of my life you know, trying to, to stay fit and whatnot? And I'd say, well, it's not hard. Sleep enough. Don't drink too much. Don't smoke, work out, do these reasonable things. And yet, how many people will do that the answer to the test is right there. We know that if we stopped use of tobacco in the United States, 1/3 of all cancer cases would go away. 1/3. We know. So your your basic question of can we learn is is really universal. So let's go down to the question of military and insurgencies. And this is probably what is most bothersome to me, my father and brother fought in Vietnam, I was a student. When I was young of what the French did in Indochina. I was fascinated by it. Because my father was in Vietnam at the time. And I watched through that. We learned so many lessons of what worked and did not work. And yet, when we came to Afghanistan and Iraq, I would argue, we went in knowing those answers. It wasn't a case of this was a shockingly new form of warfare or a new problem. Sure, it had some different unique situational and contextual aspects to it. But the basics were there. The problem is, it's really hard to do. It is difficult, and it takes a level of societal discipline. And I break that down to, and I'm talking about our society, discipline, and our government discipline and the different parts of our bureaucracy inside the military in terms of execution. It is hard, it takes levels of coordination, it takes levels of maturity, it takes levels of investment in certain things like language training, and whatnot. And so what I would argue is, we knew how to deal with insurgencies even though at the beginning of this when we thought there was terrorism, it was a whole new thing. It really wasn't. We still had the answers. But it's doing it that's hard. I was caught in contact with a former ambassador to Pakistan the other day, and she and I were exchanging notes and just sort of philosophizing. And the thing that bothers me most is the fact that it wasn't a case of one or two bad policy decisions that caused us the problem knows that the case of one or two really evil or stupid decision makers, there were a lot of questionable decisions. But mostly it was talented people trying really hard to do a good job, trying to pull this together and do it correctly, and yet failing. And so it really comes to a higher level of, can we pull this together and execute that kind of effort? I would argue we can't do it against COVID-19. We just proved it. So can we do it in a foreign war? And against a complex problem like this that takes long term patient but nuanced execution? And, you know, there's certainly room to doubt that we can't

David Wright:

it's not a it's not an encouraging story. But but this is, I mean, listen, Stan, I honestly think this is maybe one of the important, most important questions that people can consider now, right? Can we make social progress? Can we make better decisions? You mentioned the point of execution and your book risk, you say? And I listen, I'm very sympathetic to this, where you'll say, you know, there's a lot of academic frameworks, there's, there's people or people are purporting to teach us about how to manage risk, and nobody pays attention to them. Right. We ignore, we might even read the books, even some regulations force you to go through a process, build a chart, right? What are the risks? And, you know, you made the point, the military planning, they'll say, Is this a high risk or low risk? What's, what's the worst what are the outcomes? And then it just doesn't, it doesn't happen? For some reason, right? There's a made, used the word execution, right? So there's something in execution that we have not learned how to teach ourselves, how to actually pass on it. Stan, you learned a lot of stuff. And I think if you actually it's really interesting, I think of your your risk book. It's kind of your most straightforward leadership book. Right? So think of the first book is kind of what you did, and who you are. Right, your next book. Team of Teams is sort of why it worked. Right? The one after that leaders who are leaders, the most abstract of them, kind of like thinking abstractly so I really enjoyed that. And the last one is okay, well, here's like, how I did it like quite directly how I did it? Right. And so I see that book, my kind of, like, deeper reading of that book is here's me trying to explain to people how I did it. I'm wondering, you know, did you walk into that consciously realizing, you know, I need to do something a little different here. Tell me about it. Tell me about how you're think you're doing on this process of transmitting what, you know, to the next generation?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah. Well, it's great question. It's part figuring out what I know, you know, you go through a career and you come out of there, and you're just sort of in shock when you finished it, and you're trying to think, what did I learn? And the first thing I did when I wrote my memoirs was sort of, I was asked to do that, and I wasn't going to do it, then they offered to pay me for it. And I said, Okay, so I wrote my memoirs. And in the process of that, it really was a two and a half year journey that that said, Okay, what did I learn? What did I go through? What did I, what did this mean? And the two and a half years gave me enough distance from my resignation from the army to kind of clear your head and get that out. And so when we finished that book, the second one team of teams was, why it worked. It was okay, what are the most critical part of this transformation? To many people, the most interesting thing that I have my life I can explain, and I said, Okay, why this worked. And that has been resonate, as you mentioned, leaders, we started that book, because I was convinced that we don't understand leadership, me included, I'd studied it, I'd practice it, I'd been accused of being a leader. And at the same time, I had come to this conclusion that what we thought about leaders in those lists of the Habits of Highly Effective leaders, those were absolutely wrong, because the people who were successful often weren't in that camp, and the people who failed were in that camp. And so I said, Alright, there's a disconnect. And I used to use the term all the time, if it's stupid, and it works, it ain't stupid. And, and I was taught that young and I sort of came away with, we need to understand leadership in a very, a much more realistic way, I'd say. And so that was leaders. This one was the idea that I had been taught about risk my whole life, there are books on it, you could do all this kind of thing. And yet, in almost every instance, we didn't actually follow those processes and making decisions. And our outcomes were often really bad. And so you say, Well, why is it if if risk is a science that has been figured out? Why do we get it wrong so often? And the answer is one, I think the science is partly figured out. I don't think the science is all figured out. But the other part is, it's in this execution. We don't think about risks the correct way. We don't get it in our minds. Clearly, we don't make decisions the right way. And even when we do make decisions the right way. We don't execute them. Well, we don't communicate them. Well, we don't coordinate them. Well, there's so many things that make the right answer. almost irrelevant. I tell people now you know, when you walk into a room to deal with a group of people, having the right answer is interesting, but it's irrelevant. And if you can't convince people to do what you say, you know, you might as well not have the right answer. So the real question is, what can you do to get an organization to do those things you needed to do? And then you can guess you can hire somebody to give you the right answer. You can go on the internet, the right answer to everything is somewhere there. But it's the hard part of making your organization and yourself capable of actually, and willing to actually do it.

David Wright:

What I love about that is you're alluding to you did not use the word leadership there, but that's what you're talking about. Right? So you know, you have a definition, you've a couple different very interesting definitions of leadership and variety of your works. And one of them you said was the ability to persuade people, right, and, and inspire them? And I think it's a, I don't think we necessarily have the right word to capture all the, the the depth of what that is, right? Because there's this, you said elsewhere, leaders give meaning, right? That's a deep thing. And so there's something in in this kind of concept of, of clarity, of mission of meaning, and of reducing uncertainty that leaders do so to me, like, Listen, you know, I don't know if you've heard of this kind of parable, I forget who wrote it, but this is Fox and Hedgehog, right. So the fox is I know lots of things. And I'm kind of adaptable. And I think in our society, we sort of celebrate the concept of a fox. I'm not a fox Stan. I'm a hedgehog. So I see one dimension here. And I think that I think that all of your books are about leadership, I kind of think all books are about leadership. But I think that the, the other side of that dichotomy there that what leadership is the opposite of is risk and uncertainty. So to me, the function of a leader is to remove uncertainty, and to give us focus and direction and action and meaning. And these are all kind of very similar and related concepts. And so if, if what your book is, is is kind of a book about how leaders can reduce risk, because you're all in every moment, every at every turn of that book, one of the things I noticed was you kind of comes with back to a leader or a small group of people integrating a whole bunch of information in determining action. Right? And so the leader is inseparable from the concept of reducing risk. How do you like my theory? Am I on the right track or what?

Stan McChrystal:

No, I like it. I'm reminded of a story I've heard. And I've never verified this that during the voyage to the New World, he thought to the Indies, Christopher Columbus would measure the distances, three ships went every day. And then he would lie to his crew. And he would say they had gone a much shorter distance.

David Wright:

Yes, yes, I've heard this.

Stan McChrystal:

And and the whole idea was to decrease their level of angst to decrease their sense of uncertainty that they'd gone too far and whatnot. So I think your point about a leader inspires a leader reduces doubt. A leader makes people convinces people to do something. Now, the reality is a good leader often leads people who have a lot of doubts. You know, when a sergeant says, Follow me, and you leave a covered and concealed position, and you go to a place where the enemy can engage you. I'm sure everybody following that sergeant has doubts about that situation. But what the what that leader has done is said, have enough faith in me that this is the best thing we can do, this is the right thing to do. And so I think leaders take very difficult situations, and they inspire people to believe we have to accomplish something. And then also tells them this is the best or an acceptable way, the best available thing we can do. And so the what we don't want from our leaders is this lack of clarity. And that's why we're so we fall prey to the person who stands up and says, I got all the answers. I can solve all the problems. I'm I'm this just Just follow me. Because that's reassuring. Even if our, in our hearts, we know that can't be true. We like that because that clarity, that confidence that that individual shows is reassuring,

David Wright:

And it can be false. Right? So, you know, think Christopher, we can put a point point on this because Christopher Columbus isn't here to defend himself, he lied, he lied to his crew, and lying. So you wind up with this gray area? Maybe he needed to do that. Maybe it was wrong. Right. And I think that it's interesting. There are examples of people who crossed that line too far. Right? So sometimes, listen, how much can we know about what's really going on in the world, our simple, pathetic human minds can perceive so much, right? So, you know, there's a deep question of like, what is truth and all this sort of thing? But, you know, you can take it too far. Right? And I think of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, right, so I was working in the technology business for a little while. There's there's some element of inspiring people, but what could be there's aspirational facts, right? Which you kind of want to tell yourself, you know, your sergeant example, we're going to take that hill, what if he doesn't believe that he's trying to convince himself, perhaps, because it needs to happen? Right, so in service of the mission, and so there's instances where I think that that uncertainty needs to be dispelled even if you're pushing the line a little bit, but you can overstep? Right?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, well, that's, that's a paradox of military leadership. And that is, on the one hand, we want our military leaders to be absolutely honest, you know, very candid and straightforward. On the other hand, you have to look at that force and say, we can take this hill, because if you say, well, 50/50 chance, then it's, it's absolutely self fulfilling, they, they will lack the confidence to do it. So there's got to be a certain amount of that aspirational. But you're right, there's a limit to it. You know, the leader must be smart enough and mature enough to know when to call that forward, when that's appropriate and necessary, without being someone who just is disingenuous in deceiving the people that they are responsible to.

David Wright:

How do we know? Well, how do we, you know, aspiring leaders, how do you know what to, you know, like, you know, you've been publicly critical of some leaders in our country who who have crossed the line in the wrong sort of way. And and so clearly, there is some method of determining what is the right way around we got any tips? How can you help us out?

Stan McChrystal:

Well, it's, it's really difficult because I like I watch like CNBC, and I watch a CEO Come on, and they go, how is your company going to do this year and, and they the lady or man goes, Great, things are great. We're gonna do great. We're gonna you know, X, Y, I guess. And to a degree, they have a responsibility to prevent to present a positive picture.

David Wright:

Take the hill.

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah. On the other hand, if I go out and buy the stock, and it's absolutely false, then then I got a problem with that. And so this is the case where I'm critical is when someone lies to people, particularly for personal political gain or political power, or for their advantage or creates in them a, like the big lie about the election, I think that that is a number of opportunists absolutely leveraging an issue to a lot of people who do believe what they're being told and and they are while they are being deceived and being duped, you know, I could say what's their responsibility to know, but busy people, you know, don't always have access to as much information. So I have a particular place in contempt for people who for personal gain and whatnot, are willing to lie.

David Wright:

You know, there's another, I think of at least as an actuary, right. In that world, quantitative analysts tend to like quantitative analysis. Right. And so you can, numbers are obviously a tool for liars as well, can be right. But they offer up an opportunity for clarity in terms of a communication tool, right? You, it was, it was one of the things that really surprised me in in your book was that you were skeptical of the use of quantitative analysis to assess and communicate about risk. Because I think I think the way you put it in the book was to say, well, nobody really believes the numbers. And so you kind of have to make a call about whether you think this is the right action or not. And you can't go to like you just made the illusionary comment for 50/50. It's like, what does 50% mean? I mean, we don't have the inherent ability to understand that. So maybe talk to me a bit about how you look at quantitative analysis, I did notice that it there was a lot of concern about facts and what is true, at least in terms of the intelligence community and information you get about I remember there's a saga in your book about when Zarqawi was killed. Was it really him? Was it really him? Yes. And say my saw him they're like, yeah, was it really him, though? Right. So this is need for truth need for facts in for analysis, but not necessarily quantitative.

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah. No, that's that's a great point. And it brings to mind that the story I've read about President Obama, as they were making the decision to go after Osama bin Laden, and the question was, was he at this location in Abbottabad? And he got advisors together? And he said, Well, is that him there? And they all handicapped it in percentages, right? And then he very carefully at the end, and he goes, Well, at the end of the day, it's 50/50. We don't know it could be there. It might not be there. Right. Yeah. And, you know, that probably oversimplifies the value he took from what they told him, but at the same time, that's kind of true. Where I'm really skeptical is where you take quantitative analysis, or pretend it's quantitative analysis. The military has a planning system where you go through and you compare different courses of action to accomplish an assigned mission. And you assigned weights to different factors criteria, and then you compare these courses of action based on those criteria, and you get a number. And it's designed to put this through and then you find out which course of action is better. And what I would say is mediocre, or weak commanders look at that number, and they grab it and they go, Okay, we will do that course of action, because it got the right score, the best score, but then you realize, if you go back and you reweighed, the criteria in any way, which is entirely subjective, you've done that at the beginning, you change the outcome completely. And so it's not that the process isn't with value, because it does it makes you think and understand. But you need to understand that that number at the end is not the answer. It's an indicator. And so that's where then the maturity and the wisdom of the commander has got to take that in and say, Okay, what's that telling me, this analysis has informed me, I see a lot of cases in business now, where we do an analysis with incomplete information. And people will come in and give you this, this this. And it can be extraordinarily convincing to do something or not do something. And so leaders, boards of directors are guilty, too, they get behind this like a shield and they go look, this is what the numbers tell me. Therefore, we are going to do this. And of course, you can point out what if I reweighed this criteria, the entire outcomes different this is entirely wrong. But people like the sense of clarity, assuredness that that the numerical process can provide. Now having said that, on the other side of this, what I really like I love data, because and I'm really excited about artificial intelligence. Because if you can pull out all kinds of different data sources and you start to get a much more complete picture. You're starting to say for example, back to our insurgency discussion. What's going on? And you'll have intelligence reports where I look used to look at the price of vegetables in markets in Afghanistan. That was one of the things I asked for, because that indicated whether the roads were clear where the farmers could get things to market it was it was a bank shot. due to security, but the reality is when you get more and more information, you start to have indicators of what's really happening. Now, it's still incomplete almost by definition, but you can start to get a much better picture. You know, we talk about the economy. Now, I was watching this morning, as people are talking about what people are upset because inflation is going up. On the other hand, unemployment is way down, personal debt is down, household wealth is up. So what is it? Are they upset? Are they happy? You know? And the answer is a little bit of everything depends who it is, right. But but no one those different things is helpful.

David Wright:

So there's one aspect of quantitative analysis that that I think is especially effective relative to other kinds of analysis. And that is the ability to aggregate different sources of information. Because if you quantify everything, even if you put them all in the same units, let's say as probabilities, now you can argue that you can manufacture probabilities, you can make anything up, right? So to me, the interesting thing is, if you have four or five experts who all give different probabilities, there is, in principle, a way of combining those estimates into a synthesized estimate. If you got one person say, high, and other person say medium, another person say low, you're like, what I do with that, maybe, maybe, maybe this gal is high is the same as that guy's medium, I have no way of understanding. So in the absence of, you know, just sort of, I realized that, you know, you do actually do quantitative Analysis, but let's just assume you didn't right and back in Iraq, and you get different sources of qualitative information. How do you aggregate those views? How do you combine those different sources of information to understand what to do,

Stan McChrystal:

Imperfectly. That's the problem, right? If we did it better, we'd know more. So for example, take a place like Iraq or Afghanistan, and you're in there, and you're looking at a specific action you've been doing against enemy and you're having an effect in areas so that the violence in that area is going down. And so you take heart from that, and you say, Okay, we're making progress. But then you look in other areas of the country where in fact, the numbers go in the other direction, or their other indicators that say popular opinion in the United States is turning against the war. There are all of these different things. And it's very easy to focus to become a hedgehog and focus on one thing, and say, Okay, this is what I'm got, and I'm making progress here. Forget the fact that that Titanic is sinking around you. And so that is a challenge that that leaders have, because on the one hand, how many stories do we know about leaders who stayed focused on one thing and saw it through to the end of more successful despite all the other problems and naysayers and whatnot? And then how often do we find someone who's a tragic case of they literally are focused on something, and they they become deaf to all of the other indicators around them, the fact that the reality of the situation has shifted or shifting dramatically. And so how do you get that balance? You know, if you, if you change your opinion, every day, on things with the latest bit of information that you get that you're probably never going to get anywhere. But if you are so fixated that you don't pay attention to these other data sources, you're probably going to get in the wrong place.

David Wright:

I think of this as kind of a, a related problem to that of silos, right? So you, you argue, very, I mean, it was, all of your books are really, really good I'll just compliment you there. I really enjoyed them all and learned a lot from them. And it was very thought provoking, in Team of Teams, your second book, where you talk about silos being toxic, right? You can see this information aggregation and integration problem as being most impeded by organizational silos. And yet, they exist, right? And they don't exist for no reason. They exist, because they solve some kind of problem. And I wonder if maybe you could reflect for a minute on, you know, how they come about. Right? So how do you how do you like intelligently disassemble silos? Well, you must be trying to preserve whatever effectiveness they had. What do you do?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, no, exactly. Right. And, and special operations, you have these created silos of very elite people who are culturally connected, and they become very, very cohesive, and they become very strong. And then they've got the downside. If you and I started a company tomorrow, and we decided what we're gonna do, we're gonna make bagels or whatever, and we hire a bunch of people. And we form a finance team when we get big enough, and we form an HR team, whatnot. And we tell the HR team, these are your metrics. This is what I want you to accomplish as a team. Pretty soon they'll get together and in a couple of weeks, they'll all buy similar colored T shirts and they'll have HR on them. And they will do events together and they will become tight as people and they will focus predictably on those metrics you gave them. You gave them metrics of I want to hire certain number of people turnover, that sort of thing. Those will become the things that are important to them. And they will become important to them greater than what's what's happening in other silos in the company, by, by habit, by culture by everything, and they won't know the other people around the organization, the bigger you get nearly as much because they don't have same colored t shirt, they're not hanging out together. And the problem is the outcome is all has to be meshed together to be an effective outcome. And so how do you take all of these elements in the old way, in the sort of the Taylorism with Frederick Winslow Taylor idea, some brilliant person creates an organization that determines exactly what the right functions for each silo are, and each person in it, how they all fit together, and they fit together in this perfect clockwork, like thing. And so if, if every entity does its part perfectly, even if they're completely unaware of what the other organization is doing, it all comes together because the brilliant person's created it and and we're very profitable and happy. But the world doesn't work that way. We're like a sailing ship, the seas changing, the winds changing, even things about the ship are changing as barnacles attach themselves and whatnot. And so it's got to constantly be adjusted. And what you do in one part of the organization affects every other part of the organization. And yet, we're not wired for that. We're not culturally wired, we're not habitually wired. And I would argue in the age of dispersed organizations, we've got yet another little challenge, you know, because our silos are starting to become almost individual. So how do you get everybody focused on the big mission, and at the same time, constantly adapting to the changes and all the different parts of it. And that's high order, leadership and management, that's really hard. Because it's a, it's a cultural aspect in an organization that causes that to happen now, information technology feedback system, most all of these things ought to allow us to have a much better understanding almost like integrated medicine now, where a team takes on the health of a client as opposed to breaking it into specialties. And so we ought to be able to get much more nuanced and in real time information about what's happening. So we can do our part with that contextual understanding. But that's high order stuff. And it gets back to things like incentives, you are going to give bonuses to HR based upon certain incentives that you set up. And sometimes those incentives can actually be an opposition to the overall outcome, because and with all good intention, you said, I want you to do X. And so they're doing X. And and yet X can X can need to be adjusted constantly.

David Wright:

It's interesting. I mean, there's a echoes of leadership here again, right? You mentioned the word overall mission, right, which is the thing that the leader defines. And another word that comes to mind here for me is that of a narrative, right as the way of aligning on mission. And one of the things that I that was amusing to me, I suppose I mean, you wrote the team of teens book before video conferencing was all the rage. Right? But then, you know, you were doing daily stand ups over video in 2003. Is that right? Four? Which is incredible. Tell me. How do you use narrative in that in that kind of medium? So you have a dispersed team? I think covering all times 24 hours, you know, right? Yeah, all over the world. And you're trying to coordinate them probably with, you know, on every day. So I don't know, how do you think about when to open that conversation or close it with it with kind of a touch? I mean, what were some practices that you developed over that period of time to to use your, your kind of limited, but powerful tools as a leader?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah. For people who may not be aware, when I led the counter terrorist forces, we had forces in 27 countries at 76 different bases simultaneously. And we were connected by video teleconference secure. And this was the early age, we had to buy a lot of bandwidth because we were in the Mideast and whatnot. And what we did is every day we did a 90 minute, you could call an A stand up we call an operations and intelligence video teleconference. But what it did is it got everybody on the same sensor sheet of music, and people roll their eyes to the GO 90 minutes, and we had 7500 people on it. Wow. And but what you did it was it was really most about narrative. Every day, we would cover the situation intelligence updates, what we were doing, we didn't make a lot of decisions. That was not a decision making forum. It was really to give everybody a common contextual understanding of what was happening, shared consciousness with We call it so everybody saw the big picture constantly, the scoreboard, you could say, as opposed to their batting average. But then it also was a lot about narrative, probably, I was on it every day, probably three or four times a week, I would finish with something that was very narrative focused the purpose of what we were doing, the values that I wanted the organization to reflect different things like that. And we constantly reinforced that because the only way we could be successful in that kind of a construct was to be connected and collaborative in a way we'd never been before. I mean, completely different from our organizational culture. But it was essential to produce the kind of focused effort that we needed that was constantly adapting, I argue that that's sort of what organizations have got to do. Now they've got to understand that much of what they do is about their narrative now. And in many cases they are communicating with now new workers, because we're having a big turnover, who are working dispersed to never been in an office with their comrades, there's not likely to be as much cultural identification or connection, that sort of thing. And so you're starting with a weaker set of bonds than we had in years past. And yet, you're trying to do something that is moving very quickly, very nuanced, and requires this tremendous level of collaboration. That's hard. Don't think that you buy everybody a laptop, and you connect them up and problem solved.

David Wright:

Indeed, you know, on the on the kind of topic there of narratively one of the if I think about narratives, the effectiveness of narratives, I think that they, they're two things that come to mind. Just thinking about, we're saying, there's authenticity, and there's truth, which are kind of different, but very similar and related, right? So do I believe this can be aspiration if I believe it, and then there's this element of truth now, and I'm gonna connect that idea to, or that kind of topic to something that I learned that was very interesting. I think there was in your biography, we were talking about special forces, and kind of the thing that makes them distinct. They are phenomenal athletes, you know, they run 30 miles and stuff, I run Spartan Races as like, kind of a personal hobby. And when one day, I was doing one, a big one, and a whole bunch of people from the military showed up, I was like, oh, man, am I in the wrong race. These guys are gonna crush me. And they did. And so there's the legendary physical capabilities, there's the endurance capabilities, right, the desire to get up and never quit. Right? But then that's not the thing that you called out as the most important thing that you mentioned. And maybe I got this wrong, but was there their belief in the mission? Right, so they're there, there's zeal for, for what for what they are there to do, is is very strong, even unusually strong within the military, which itself has an extraordinarily clear sense of mission. And so the question I have is, is it harder to lead them? Because they have probably a absolutely incredibly sensitive detector for inauthenticity? Because they are so authentic, so they can smell your mile away? If you don't really believe it. Is that true?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, it is true. I remember I, I had led conventional forces before and special operating force and someone told me, once you've got these wonderfully talented people, very self disciplined, you know, a shaved monkey could lead that organization. And, on the one hand, sometimes I laugh and say that's true, and therefore my success, but the, the reality is no, they have a very high expectation of their leaders. They have a low tolerance for inauthenticity, inauthentic leaders. Now, here's one of the challenges that when you talk about, they are great believers in the cause. And that's true. I used to draw a thing on a whiteboard for visiting Congress members and whatnot in Iraq, and I show at one end is Al Qaeda in Iraq and their most dedicated terrorists. And on the other end is our SEAL Team Six and delta Commandos, the best America fields, they are not completely different. It actually bins up to where they're very similar personalities. They are people who are very dedicated to being part of a group, a small team, they're very dedicated to a cause. They're willing to sacrifice for that. And they, they demand that of whatever organization they're in, because if they can't be completely committed to it, they can't, they can't derive what they need from it. And I used to say the difference between those two groups is who recruited them their life journey. It's not personality types or or basic values. In fact, both are selfless. Both are committed both are in many ways, very admirable. But that is, you know, one of the the interesting challenges of it now, what does that mean for leadership? That means that when you have a group like that This, there is tremendous capability for to do great things. There's also tremendous capability to do bad things. Because if you look in history, there are many very committed elite organizations of people who are completely patriotic to their cause who have been misinformed or misled and taken to places that are horrific. And, you know, that can happen to any one of us. We are all proud of that. And societies are proud of that. And so the power of of effective leaders, to take groups and people to do terrible things is been re proven over and over again. And we need to go to school on that. Both for ourselves and what kind of leaders we are,

David Wright:

How, how are leaders selected in the military? I mean, you wrote an entire book about kind of leadership and its development. And so here's another kind of framing of our opening question, which is, how's that process change? Can we change it? Can we improve it? How are leaders developed to make sure that we don't do that we just mentioned?

Stan McChrystal:

yeah, I think the military does pretty well. So that what the military does is the military gets very average talent. Okay, it gets above average outcome from that talent, because they, they focus so much, so much of your career is spent on being trained and leadership training, all the way through no civilian company I've ever seen, does anything like that investment, because in peacetime, that's what the military does. And so the reality is, there's a huge investment. Now, there's a lot of time spent on values, there's a lot of time spent on leadership, just the skills of becoming a leader practicing it. And then, of course, technical competence in your craft, none of those are done perfectly, but they're all done pretty well. And then you select leaders based upon their success in the last rank. Now, that is assuming that that's a predictor for success in the next rank. If the military has some weaknesses, it is that it is a big organization, that is guild like you have to start at the bottom. And so by the time you come up, they have likely shaved off the economy class, right from from this or pounded them into becoming organization people, you know, and the reality is, most people who make kernel or general have a very common experience a very common mindset, very common view. So you're going to get a pretty limited range of original thought, and what not, and that's a downside. And so I think that's a weakness in the military that it's got to consider. On the other hand, you know, I describe this to people, sometimes many of our noncommissioned officers came from difficult upbringings, you know, not a lot of advantages, children. And yet, they come into the army, and they're offered a set of values, and they look at the Army values, and they go, Okay, I got it. And they, they then embody them. And you'll get senior noncommissioned officer, we'd be in a room sometime, and you'd be officers who would be arguing over shades of gray and the right thing to do in a situation. And a senior NCO would go, What are you talking about? That's wrong. That's right, we got to do a try. And it would be stunningly accurate. And you almost ashamedly, go, wow, we we were idiots. And you you do that. And that's that makes them just so important to the organization. And so there there are bedrock values that we send sometimes shouldn't nuance too much. There's some things that are right. And, and some things that are wrong.

David Wright:

You know it there's another kind of topic here, which is that of morality which is important, and we touched on a little earlier about when you talk about lying, and the the responsibility you have to to stay true to your to your morals, even though it's hard to know what true is true. And I think if it goes back to the idea of risk and uncertainty to me, the fallback, maybe the most powerful argument we can have in the face of uncertainty is a moral or ethical argument. So what kind of a person are you is going to give you great clarity in how and how to approach a situation of uncertainty? I mean, you're talking about probably certain quite maybe detailed tactical questions of how do we how do we advance this battle of that Battlefield? There's all kinds of considerations or overthinking it, we all the fancy guys that went to West Point, right? And then the sergeant major who comes from a difficult background but knows those values, actually has an enormous amount of clarity, right. This ties back to this concept of leaders giving clarity so leaders being being sources of moral clarity can actually give you a lot of decision making clarity and you know, the team of teams You're gonna make decisions on your own. So you better hope they got the morals right. Got the ethics, right? Those values?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, this is much harder than it sounds on a podcast you and I can say, here are our values. We don't do this. We don't do that in my class at Yale a few years ago, I did that. The scenario where I said, there's a terrorist who has a weapon of mass destruction in Boston, and your family lives in Boston, and we've captured that terrorist, and we know that that weapon of mass destruction is going to go off in three hours. We know that that terrorist knows where it is, and we can question him. But there's not time to evacuate the city or do any of those mitigating things. Would you torture that prisoner? If you thought that was a way to get the information? And I was expecting my Yale class 20 kids to all go, Oh, no, no, they all go, well, not all but almost all go Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I was stunned. And I said, Well, that's, that's not the right answer to the test. If there is a right answer, yeah. And they go, my family's there. You know, that's what we have to do to do the greater good. It's like the moral case of you divert the train, to kill one person to say, five. It we have to know what our bedrock morals are, are to do good and to do, right. At the same time, I would argue the people who get in difficult situations, whether they're police or military, or politicians are going to end up in those cases where they're choosing between two negatives. At the beginning of the Second World War, every combatant said that they would not bomb civilians not to do not do aerial bombing of civilians. And the United States developed precision techniques to avoid having to bomb civilians to bomb just military targets. By the end of the war, everybody was bombing civilians, and the United States had taken it to an art form. You know, the firebombing of Tokyo 100,000 people in a single night whatnot. And yet, we morally had made the decision that there was a greater good for which we were willing to do things that before we thought were absolutely morally wrong. And so all of these decisions are, are simple in the abstract. And they're difficult in the reality and the counter terrorist fight in Afghanistan or in Iraq, particularly al Qaeda in Iraq were were blood thirsty. They were incredible. We we came upon torture chambers, medieval, like torture chambers, and people who were working with us and whatnot, who had been horribly abused. And of course that that brings inside of you this rage and this desire for revenge. I remember at the beginning of the war when they beheaded Nick Berg, that young American, and they put it on video. And there were six people behind Nick Berg and then all in head hoods and Zara Zarqawi was one of them. And he in fact, was the guy who sawed off Nick Berg's head on video. And I remember watching that, and inside me just this absolute sense of outrage and desire to get revenge came out. And so when we talk about morality, we need to really find what we can more ourselves to what we can tie ourselves to in terms of right and wrong, and you need to set hard limits because they will be pressured. And if you cross them, like the French in Indochina, they found themselves on a slippery slope, they they were torturing people for what they thought were important reasons for a better outcome. And so, I think the danger is you can start to rationalize almost any action in terms of, you know, a necessary outcome. And that's, that that requires, and we did a lot of talking about it and JSOC during that fight, we, we, we revisited that and across the organization constantly, to keep re centering ourselves to not to not lose track of where we were.

David Wright:

Yeah, my it's comes back to my hedgehog ism. To me maybe one asks himself, I do. Why are we... why are we able to be so misled by let's call the evil clarity? Maybe, right? And so the answer I come to and let me know we think of this is we so hate, below the lack of clarity. I think that I think this and I think that instinctively into this this is a psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics and he talks about cognitive bias right. So we were bad at we're bad at understanding uncertainty. We're bad at making decisions because we you know, misread the probabilities of certain things. And then so the conclusion like for a lot of my own career, well, we're just bad at that. And I think that actually, we all know instinctively that we're bad at that. And I think that's one of the reasons why we, why we are so attracted to the clarity of strong leaders, because we know we suck at figuring out what's going on. No, of course we do. I mean, the reality of the complexity of reality is unfathomably infinite, right? It's just, you're never gonna know everything that's going on. Or you made a really interesting comment in your biography where you said, I, I didn't even know what happened in my own life. Like, I thought I understood something. It's like way more complicated, right? And you couldn't possibly know. So your story change. That's fascinating. And so this, you know, that we can't understand the world. So goes the reasoning, therefore, we accept clarity, even at the expense of goodness, because we can't handle the complexity and the uncertainty and the risk?

Stan McChrystal:

That's exactly right. I think we as individuals have a problem with that we as groups, we like nothing more than to somebody give us the right answer. Just tell me what you want me to do. Yeah. Right, tell me what we should do. And think Annie Duke tells great story where she talks about probabilities. And she uses a football play case where, you know, a coach calls a play, that doesn't work, and he becomes the goat afterward. And everybody says it was a terrible call. Well, if it had worked, everybody would say he's a genius. Yes. And it's just that that little difference in fate, luck, it may have been the much better call, but we're not able to do that we, we have a very difficult time seeing the bigger picture. And so I think we are very vulnerable.

David Wright:

And it puts a huge burden of responsibility on leaders to, to protect the people that they lead or do the right thing. And I think this is back again, to this concept of risk. And I think of, in your book, a lot of as the kind of line that was playing in my head was as you're talking about gathering information, right? And then integrating that and making decisions. That to me is like broadening the scope of your availability, right? So like in electrical sense, talk people learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, gather all this information, bring it all together, and then make a decision. That is that kind of reduces uncertainty and gives clarity, right? So you have to have information, but after the decision is made, information becomes toxic, because now it's now it's it's threatening that clarity. Right now, it's new information. Maybe you can reflect on that for a second, like, what do you do if new information comes about after you've delivered some clarity to your to your folks, you know, it must be very difficult to try and adjust your decision after you've kind of done all the effort of communicating with everybody.

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, and the military case, it's it's almost classic, because good commanders have two phases. And they say I've got phase one, where we're gathering all the information, I want all your inputs, I want your opinions. In phase two, at the end of phase one, we make a decision, and we're going to do it phase two is execution. Right? So shut up and do it. Yeah. And yet, that's oversimplified. Because what good commanders also say is, if in phase two, you get information that makes our decision, the wrong one, then you have a responsibility to raise that bring it and we have a responsibility to take into account and potentially act on it. What you can't do is you can't bring original information back from phase one, right? And say, Hey, you didn't think enough about this or you know, etc, etc. But it we're talking new information that change the calculus. And it takes a lot of discipline in an organization because you're right, once you do the plan, and you start the ships toward the coast and the landing crafter, going toward the beach, nobody wants to change the plan, because it's really hard to do at that point. And there's a danger in it. There are vulnerabilities in doing that. And so that's where leaders who get complicating information, that's what I'd call it, something that comes out I just watched a video the other night to remind myself about the Asante raid, in the fall of 1970 attempt to rescue American prisoners in North Vietnam. And they been planning this operation for weeks, actually months and rehearsing it and they create a great force and plan. And then they got information that the prisoners may well not be in the camp anymore. And so they have this moral dilemma. Do we launch the mission and potentially put all this force at risk when we have reason to believe there may be no potential value in the outcome? Or on the other hand, what if the prisoners are there, and we become spooked by this new information and we don't rescue people when we have a cap a capability to do it. They made the decision to go on and they went it was empty. But the reality of that it's a it's a, it's a moral decision at that point. It's not just a judgment call.

David Wright:

Yeah. And you make the point about mission or the people, right, in your, in your work where you can do an introduce risk, you know, then the morality comes in, they're like, how do you weigh? You know, how do you weigh the value of people's lives in something rather nerdy? So we're almost out of time, I want to close on, again, this concept of of, you know, combined two kind of really important themes to me. One is the selection development leaders and two is this idea of progress, I still holding out hopes that, Stan, that we're gonna be able to make some progress here. You know, the there's one really evocative scene in your new biography where you had some time with President Bush, and his his choice of how to use your time amongst you had a briefing, and he looked you in the eye and said, Are you going to get him? Right? That, to me was an interesting moment where he was evaluating your leadership there. Right? You saying, you know, are you do you have the conviction? At a very simple test. You passed it, which is good. But is that kind of, is that as good as it gets? I mean, if you if you needed to do something to evaluate a leader, is that kind of the the best way to go about it? If you wanted to test somebody leadership capability? Is your conviction?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, that's a that's a really thoughtful question. There's sort of three parts of it. If someone you know them well, and you have a track record with them, then you are basing it on experience and what you know, or what people tell you that you could verify, therefore, you can can make a judgement there. The second is, if you have the expertise to judge the information, they've told you. Now, what President Bush was doing, as we're in the situation room that morning, he knew he didn't have the expertise. If I had gone through this long lay down on what we were doing to go after, or Zarqawi. At that point, he would adjust. Does that sound right? He couldn't judge that he had gotten some information on me, but he really couldn't judge that either. So he chose to look me in the eye and just decide, is this a person in whom I should have confidence? And I think he was good at that. I think in that moment, it was the right thing to do. And I think in that group, among that group, it also sent a signal to everyone in that room, the senior leaders of his government, okay, I have looked this guy in the eye, and I have basically challenged, can you do this? And he has come back and said, I can do this. And I think that there was a dynamic beyond just me that was playing out there as well.

David Wright:

There's, there's another kind of the I know that there's another organization that you're working on, which are least advocating for, which is getting Americans to serve. Right? And tell me a bit about that, in the concept of you know, that that's a that to me, my read of that is that's a play of yours towards some social progress. You're trying to change society, quite literally, with that. And tell me tell me about that, what the logic is to achieve.

Stan McChrystal:

I never thought about this while I was an active duty in the military. But when I got out, I realized that you couldn't have everybody in the military, that experience of service just wasn't available appropriate for all Americans. And yet the concept of citizenship has has eroded our idea of what our responsibilities are, as citizen, we're really up on what our rights are, what we should be given and where we're first in line to get those. But what are our responsibilities besides paying our taxes and voting? And what are our responsibilities to other Americans, not just to our government, but to other Americans more informally? I think our society used to be better at that because small towns and neighborhoods that dynamic existed sort of naturally volunteer fire departments and whatnot. But now what we do is we need to create in young people, this cultural expectation for themselves that I am a member of society, the word citizen is a sacred one. It is something that says I have to do something. I'm important here. And so I don't think you can teach it in civics class. Some ideas give every young American a year of paid national service and the reasons paid a stipend is so you don't just have upper middle class and rich kids whose parents can support them doing it. But you have everybody from every zip code, give them a challenge in conservation, health care, education, something for a year doing it with people, not from their zip code. This is not a Saturday morning club that gets together and rakes leaves or washes cars. This is something that that can be hard, distasteful, you know, irritating for a year, but it makes you invested in the country. You know, suddenly if you have invested in something you feel like I've got ownership of this thing. I'm going to vote Darn it, you know, I I cleaned up You know, X for, you know trails for a year, I got a right to vote and I should. And so it's all of those things. Plus it's the idea that we don't know each other anymore. We only know our little silo, whether it's our religion or our race in a certain area, or neighborhood or social group, we don't really interact the great melting pots of the Civil War, the First and Second World Wars where you brought so many people in and just circumstances forced them into interaction. We don't have that now. And we don't even do it over our tremendous information technology. Instead, we self segment into social media groups and whatnot, and watch certain things. And so I think we got to take that on. And if we're going to make American society what I think it can be, we got to do big things, not to do little things. We got to do big things that go upstream. And that's young future citizens. We got to impact them, we owe it to them.

David Wright:

In closing, how can people support that, Stan?

Stan McChrystal:

Yeah, they this is a private public partnership. They're already existing things like AmeriCorps City Year Teach for America, great projects, but they're way too small. And if we are going to get this to be an expectation that every young American has this reasonable opportunity to do that, one, it takes legislation, we have got to I've been working for almost a decade with a number of other real focus people, to try to get politicians to stand up and say, This is something I will push, and there are some, but but I really want at the presidential level and other levels to stand up and say, this is part of what I believe our nation needs. And it's not partisan. It doesn't matter what party someone's from the ideas, we're investing in citizens. So first and foremost, pressure your politicians. Second is encourage your young people to do it. You know, if your child has got a job or gets accepted to a college, but wants to do a year of this beforehand, don't worry, and say I'm worried that he'll ever go to college or she'll ever follow through. So we'd better go in and go tell him go do it. I'd have been a much better cadet at West Point. If I'd done something a year before, I think most of us would have. So I just think that we it's it's my generation and more your generation. We have the responsibility to do this for the generation below us.

David Wright:

My guest today has been Stan McChrystal. His latest book is Risk A User's Guide though I can heartily recommend all of his books My Share of the Task, Team of Teams, Leaders Myth and Reality, and Stan's podcast, *No turning Back*. Stan, thanks for joining me.

Stan McChrystal:

Thanks so much for having me.