ricardo semler

ricardo semler


intro’d to Ricardo here:

Radical wisdom for a company, a school, a life

tedglobal 2014


opposite of work isn’t leisure… it’s idleness

monday and thursdays for – what would i do if i were going to die days

board has 2 rotating chairs


lumiar schools – http://lumiar.org.br/

Paulo Friere

knowledge – what little you know is nothing compared to google..

passion & expertise… use sr citizens.. teach whatever you believe in

love, death, existence…. a thread talking about everything we don’t know

democratic education/sudbury ness

keeps a mosaic – with all the things (curriculum), cross ages, they grade themselves… – an app they keep with them..

courses: world cup soccer, building a bicycle.. ie: 45 days building a bike

when you say – now is the time to give back..

…if you’re giving back – you took too much..

threw everything i had done in the fire… freed our kids… i freed myself from this anger of past achievement.. i’m free to start new every time…

trying to get this world out in the world for free…

we’ve all learned to go on sunday night and work from home.. but very few of us have learned to go to the movies on monday afternoon..

have the courage now… why do i exist..?

it takes a leap of faith – about losing control


i think it’s that problem of ideas who’s time have come.. i’ve never been evangelical about this… it will flourish on it’s own.. part of it will be wrong.. but it doesn’t matter.. this will find it’s own place.. i’m afraid of the other one that puts of lots of money and says you will do this..

my son asked me when i was 3… – why do we exist.. there is no other question.. there are variations on it… from 3 on..

having the courage now… to say – what am i doing this for… and it will be ok..


2005 – talk at mit:


If successful business depends on innovation, wonders Ricardo Semler, why are automobiles made essentially the same way today as they were in Ford’s first assembly line 100 years ago? Parallel parking is one of ” the stupidest things we do,” says Semler, “If we had a day, could we not by tomorrow afternoon figure out a way to make a car” that handles better in this common situation — or, on a grander scale, escape from the “silly concept” of oil dependent transportation altogether? The problem, Semler figures, is that there’s “something fundamental about organizations and ‘ leadership that makes it almost impossible for people inside a business to change their own industry.” Industries are based on “formats that are basically legacies of military hierarchies,” says Semler, which neglect or deny the power of human intuition and democratic participation. In Semler’s own firm, there are no five-year business plans (which he views as wishful thinking), but rather “a rolling rationale about numbers.” A project takes off only if a critical mass of employees decides to get involved. Staff determine when they need a leader, and then choose their own bosses in a process akin to courtship, says Semler, resulting in a corporate turnover rate of 2% over 25 years. “We’ll send our sons anywhere in the world to die for democracy,” says Semler, but don’t seem to apply the concept to the workplace. This is a tragic error, because “people on their own developing their own solutions will develop something different.

5 min – a very tiring way to do things… even though it seems like we’re in control

7 min – yeah – we’re able to call China in seconds.. but what we’re saying is very similar to what we were saying in 1633

10 mi – huge – what we could do in a day – if we thought outside.. the box

11 min – why does it take 100 yrs to solve that problem – ie: of parallel parking…? because no fundamental changes occur w/in industries…

12 min – how silly we do with oil. 1963 – we had a solutions. in 1970 – hybrid car. then electrical car. what is it that takes a 40 yrs process to solve a problem that has been solved years before.. because once something is in place.. it’s not going to change on their own.. not a conspiracy.. but someone from the outside, or some crisis will have to come along to make the change.

14 min – airline directions for crisis – i watched it 400 times.. but wouldn’t remember it in a crisis.

16 min – what kind of architecture/design allows us to get out of this situation

18 min – deep blue – not – can you develop computer than holds 4 million moves in its memory.. the only thing different is intuition..

20 min – shell guy – imagine me sharing my intuition… that doesn’t work.. the reason i’m still here – i have the right to be wrong – but i have to be precisely wrong – and that will guarantee survival

21 min – on business plan – 5 year plan – an extrapolation added to wishful thinking.. we’re willing to kid ourselves and trick everyone else into thinking we have control..

the assumption that growth is good for companies is very hard to sustain.. i see no evidence.. but that’s the standard we all take

22 mi – it’s very dangerous to say – this is where i’m going.. we need to undo the formats that are basically .. formation of military hierarchy.. military tradition

26 min – there’s something w/in the organization.. that once you’re in it and playing by the rules (that you no longer use intuition)

27 min – why do we have a hq – the whole assumption that you have to be there together may not be true anymore

28 mi – we don’t know where we’re going, but we’d rather not pretend we do – more dangerous

30 min – if no one wants to do it – maybe we should question whether it should be done at all

democracy  – very important for out life.. we send our sons to fight for it.. but we don’t practice it where we spend 60% of our lives..

31 min – if you don’t know how to go to the movies on monday from 2-4 – you’re in trouble..

the opposite of work is not leisure.. it’s idleness… there’s no idleness left.. obvious the burnout rates we see

3.7 billion out of 6 in poverty – what we’re doing is not working very well

33 min – we use democracy as a tool – we don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do

do whatever you want ness – the thing you can’t not do

34 min – on hiring process – we run 850 resumes per job

36 min – every 6 mos – you’ve got to latch onto someone’s payroll .. choose own bosses.. no organizational chart.. go to the person you respect.. you need to talk to .. give the customer whatever title they need

39 – if i take away classical structure..and let you do what you need to do – we show 27% increase for 25 years… so there’s something there that says..

..people on their own will do what needs to be done

43 min – i think he was saying the romantic version says money is evil.. and we let people divide how much money they need

i’m not convinced at all that we’ve found the right/good way to do it.. the secret is being open to – there might be another way.. this isn’t a model..

46 min – management by omission – actively doing nothing.. we celebrated 10 years where i made no decisions

sometimes doing absolutely nothing will bring you to what you need


find/follow Ricardo:

wikipedia small





Ricardo Semler (born 1959 in São Paulo) is the CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering. Under his ownership, revenue has grown from 4 million US dollars in 1982 to 212 million US dollars in 2003 and his innovative business management policies have attracted widespread interest around the world. Time featured him among its Global 100 young leaders profile series published in 1994 while the World Economic Forum also nominated him. The Wall Street Journal America Economia, The Wall Street Journal’s Latin American magazine, named him Latin American businessman of the year in 1990 and he was named Brazilian businessman of the year in 1990 and 1992. Virando a Própria Mesa (“Turning Your Own Table”), his first book, became the best selling non-fiction book in the history of Brazil. He has since written two books in English on the transformation of Semco and workplace re-engineering: Maverick, an English version of “Turning Your Own Table” published in 1993 and an international bestseller, and The Seven Day Weekend in 2003.


Lumiar schools – http://lumiar.org.br/a democratic school where children from 0 to 14 years old engage in projects of their interest. There are three such schools — one in the city of São Paulo and two in the vicinity of Campos do Jordão, in the state of São Paulo.

video uploaded 2009

Innovative School – Lumiar – Brazil




#1 regret



if you're giving back semler