(CBS Local)– David Rubenstein is the co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group and has a net worth of over $3 billion. The author and businessman is friends with and has interviewed some of the top leaders in the worlds of business, entertainment, politics and sports. Those conversations can now all be read in his new book from Simon & Schuster called “How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers.”
Rubenstein’s book features conversations with people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi, Phil Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Lorne Michaels, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton.
“I wasn’t an interviewer by nature, but I became the President of the Economic Club of Washington about a dozen years ago. I was supposed to get speakers to come in and I found out they were mostly boring,” said Rubenstein in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I said maybe I can liven up by interviewing them and then ultimately Bloomberg saw it and said why don’t you go on TV. I took some of the best interviews and put them together and I thought people would enjoy learning about leadership.”
Rubenstein says he likes to use humor in order to loosen up some of the most important leaders in our country. The author is always interested in asking people about their childhood and how they overcame adversity. One of the most fascinating people featured in the book is Bezos, who is officially the wealthiest person in the world.
“Jeff is someone I’ve known for quite a while because when he was starting his company, he had to use a bibliography of books in print that one of our companies had. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a piece of the company that he was offering. I think he was offering 20-30% of the company. We turned it down and that was a big mistake. I’ve gotten to know him over the years and he’s obviously built an incredible company. He has 800,000 employees and he was the driving force. At the time I did the interview, we had about 2,000 people in the audience because we were waiting to see if he was going to announce Washington as a second headquarters city. He didn’t, but it’s clear he has a sense of humor. One of the things he pointed out is he doesn’t make any big decisions before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. He likes eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t know how he did all of that, but that’s what he said.”
Bezos told Rubenstein he likes to make two to three big decisions a day and he feels other things can be delegated to other people. One of the great things about Rubenstein’s book is that readers will be able to compare the leadership styles of someone like Bezos to Gates or Cook.
“Bill Gates is a person who processes enormous amounts of information,” said Rubenstein. “I wouldn’t say that he has a natural sense of humor about things, where as Jeff Bezos is a bigger laugh and has more of a sense of humor. They’re different people and they’re neighbors and I once interviewed them together and that was quite something. Tim Cook is different. When you’re an entrepreneur and you build a company, it’s yours and you are responsible for it. Tim Cook has turned Apple into the most valuable company in the world.”
Rubenstein’s book also highlights extraordinary women like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Speaker of the House Pelosi and Winfrey. The author and businessman learned key lessons from all three women.
“Oprah was a person who almost had to raise herself, was abandoned by her mother for a little while and raised by her grandfather,” said Rubenstein. “She was fired from a job and it looked like her career was going nowhere and then she became the most famous interviewer in the world. She would say it’s because she learned how to listen. She has another quality that’s very important called empathy.”
“In the history of our country, in the 240 plus years or so, she [Pelosi] is the most powerful woman we’ve ever had in politics by far,” said Rubenstein. “No other woman was obviously a majority leader in the Senate or Speaker of the House. She’s done it twice. She has enormous power and people who underestimate her political savvy make a big mistake.”
“She [Ginsburg] was first in class at Harvard Law School and first in her class at Columbia Law School and couldn’t get a job,” said Rubenstein. “She overcame all those disadvantages and had a wonderful marriage. Her husband died and she poured herself back into the work. She’s the rock star of the Supreme Court.”
Rubenstein’s book is available wherever books are sold and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.