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Ricardo Semler Urges People to Live as If They Were Ill

 - May 30, 2017
Ricardo Semler is the CEO of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company that spent several years restructuring and radicalizing the way it runs, in order to create a better and more productive work-life balance for its employees. Semler gives a speech on this radical shift, and why it took place.

Semler begins the speech thinking about why he decided to restructure how he uses his time, deciding to live as though he had recently learned he had a terminal illness, which he later calls his "empty bucket list." He decided to make every Monday and Thursday his "terminal days," and wanted to create a radical shift in the way his company ran as well. Over the years, he put in place a variety of different procedures, or lack thereof, that democratized his company and gave power to his employees. One of his examples included offering employees their own "terminal days", where they could do what they want in exchange for 10% of their salaries. He also made it so that the leaders of the company must be interviewed and approved by their future subordinates, and every six months those leaders must undergo an employee evaluation that their position in the company depends on. He democratized the company's decision-making process further by giving two employees a vote in all of the company's board meetings, which went to whoever showed up first and which Semler described as effective because "they keep us honest."

Ricardo Semler goes on to describe the school he structured, which he is now trying to expand into the mainstream curriculum in Brazil. This school isn't separated by age groups, and has tutors for children that do not teach but that instead make sure they know what's going on in the children's personal lives. The classes themselves are taught by the country's wisest – its senior citizens – who are able to teach whatever they are passionate about and what their expertise lies in. The radical school curriculum was created to "set up for wisdom," allowing its students more autonomy, the power to make their own decisions, and the power to advance their personal, practical and theoretical skills.

Semler encourages others to completely change the way they think, and ponder why they do the things they do and reevaluate their lives from there. According to him, if they do so, they are setting themselves up for a much wiser future.