Scott Kriens is Chairman of Juniper Networks and, along with his wife, Joanie, co-founder of 1440 Multiversity, a new, immersive learning destination they are creating in the redwoods near Santa Cruz, California.
The inspiration for the name 1440 comes from the number of minutes in each day and how to find purpose by using each of them to live a richer life through connecting more deeply to our selves and to others.
1440 will offer courses in professional development, personal growth, and health and wellness, led by world-class faculty ranging from yoga teacher and activist Seane Corn to author Elizabeth Gilbert.
What’s the dent you’re trying to make in the universe?
I want to spread the realization that the things we really want in life—richer relationships, deeper connections with others, more compassion, more meaning, more purpose, whatever appeals to you—can be learned and developed just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Go to class, study, try, practice with yourself and others, believe. We don’t have to make it so mysterious
What life lessons did you learn from your mother and father?
From my Dad, listen and make room for others. You already know what you think, pay more attention to the rest of the world. From my Mom, don’t take anybody else’s word for it, unless you also believe it yourself. Be stubborn. Believe in yourself. Make your own way.
Did you meditate today?
Twice! Always in the morning to start the day, usually in the afternoon to restart the day.
How did you come to the world of mindfulness?
Through teaching leadership development at work, and the discovery that in leadership, nobody cares what you know until they know who you are. So first, you need to know who you are, before you can share that with others, which means looking inside to find out, which for me meant learning about mindfulness as a technique to better know myself.
What’s it feel like to be in the presence of all those magnificent redwoods on the 1440 campus?
Humbling, in a really good way. Their grace and presence and power remind me that there are larger forces than me, and I take comfort in knowing that. Whatever we are up to, no matter how important it may seem in the moment, isn’t nearly that big a deal
Do people find it curious that the chairman of a multi-billion-dollar tech firm is building a learning center with a curriculum steeped in ancient wisdom from traditional Eastern cultures such as meditation and yoga?
I don’t know. I don’t. What we want to serve and support at the Multiversity are often teachings steeped in wisdom gained over centuries, from all over the world, but the intention is to offer learnable life skills that are more relevant to our lives today than most of what we’ve been taught in traditional schools.
You believe that learning to be in rich, meaningful, and authentic relationships is a teachable skill, as important as anything we might ever learn. Why?
Well, what matters more? Being in relationship to our mothers at birth is the only thing that matters, and at the end of life, most people reflecting on what’s been most important to them point to the relationships they had over their lifetimes. So why not learn how to be good at it? Learn to listen, to be in dialogue and not debate, to empathize, to practice compassion, and self care, to be more self-aware. These are all learnable relationship skills.
You talk a lot about creating “generative energy.” What do you mean by this?
Generative energy is when who you are and what you do creates more energy than it consumes. We’ve all felt it when in a really great relationship, and that can be with yourself, or another person, with a project, with a place. It feels great! But it ebbs and flows too. Nobody feels like that all the time. Sometimes we find ourselves in toxic places that drain the energy from us. But if we recognize that, we can change it, and if we’ve been mindful of other more generative conditions, we can invite those instead. It’s a lifelong journey
You’ve been a business leader throughout your career. Can you talk about the notion of “authentic leadership” and how you applied it as a CEO?
It’s about saying what you believe, and not what you want others to believe. People can tell anyway. And nobody wants to be told what they should believe. Great leaders have the courage to be authentic, and to trust in themselves and in others. Everyone wants to be in a safe and trusted place, and I believe most people will trust in return. But leaders have to be first to offer trust, first to walk across the dance floor and ask for the dance. And when they do, everyone will dance with them, because if free to do so, everyone wants to dance
Who are other business leaders you’d hold up as models for authentic leadership?
Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Ken Oshman, who has passed away, but was one of the greatest leaders I ever knew in Silicon Valley.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I could wave a wand, I’d make myself more musical. I’d love to play, and sing, and be able to feel music from the inside and not just listen to it from the outside looking in.
What are you reading right now?
Sometimes Brilliant by Larry Brilliant and The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis.
Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Traffic, from the 70’s. Slightly Stoopid - Collie Man.
NFL playoffs and the Golden State Warriors.
Rock, paper, or scissors?
Rock. I like the sturdy, reliable feel of it, and the sound of the word.
Who inspires you?
Abraham Lincoln. Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin) was maybe the best book I could ever recommend. Lincoln’s humility, his resolve, his commitment, inclusion, the vision of what’s right and the courage to live into it, and his willingness to place his purpose even ahead of himself, is a standard I’m not sure anyone else has ever met.
Green. To me, it’s the color of life and vitality.
What’s one question you’d like to ask yourself – and answer?
Am I doing enough? I know I need to learn more about how to be, but I’d love to be able to know that I’ve done enough to say that I have no regrets when it’s my time to move on to the next lifetime.
How should people connect with you on social media?
Connect with 1440.org instead, it’s much more interesting, and is growing and changing much faster, and if I have something to offer that might be worth knowing, it can always be found there.