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Influencers Transcript: John Chambers, September 26, 2019

ANDY SERWER: Innovate or die is more than a trite phrase. John Chambers has made it his life's work. For a decade, Chambers ran internet hardware giant Cisco, making big acquisitions that drove the company to yearly revenue of nearly $50 billion.

Now, he's the CEO of the firm JC2 Ventures, where he finds companies looking to take on the giants. He also advises Indian Prime Minister Modi and French President Macron on how to help startups flourish in their countries. He's here to explain how to relentlessly build companies, whether big or small.

Hello, I'm Andy Serwer. Welcome to "Influencers," and welcome to our guest John Chambers, who is hosting us here at his home in Silicon Valley. John, this is a great place. Thanks for having us in.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Andy, it's fun to be doing this again together. We've done it a number of times over the last 20 years.

ANDY SERWER: That's right. It has been a while. Now, John, you are no longer the chief executive of Cisco. That was a good long run. 20 years?

JOHN CHAMBERS: 20 years.

ANDY SERWER: You now are running a venture fund called JC2. Tell us about that and how is it different from being the CEO of Cisco?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, it's different in almost every way. During this next chapter in my life, I'm focusing on startups, job creation, inclusion by geography and around the world-- everything from French high tech ambassador for Macron to an advisor to Prime Minister Modi in India. And I'm focused about how do we create the jobs for the future? And 18 companies I invest in, and I'm literally they're almost like my family and I coach them. And my pride there is when the CEO is really successful on it.

So think of me more as a strategic partner with a social purpose to create jobs and inclusive jobs, much like we did at Cisco. We created 10,000 millionaires, as you remember, among our employees. And with these startups, I want to see that type of the American dream come true for more and more people than we are today.

ANDY SERWER: So how exactly is that different though, I mean, in terms of what you're doing and the skill set?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, number one, there were 75,000 people helping me do my job. Today, it's three of us-- Shannon, my son, and me. And we're going to see if we can build a billion dollar company with less than 10 people.

But it really is much more of a strategic advisor, partner, mentor, coach, investor, board member to them. And I talk to my average CEO probably two to three times a week. I help them figure out how do they build culture, how do they do go to market approaches.

So many of the startups-- Cisco, for example-- went public went it was 70 million in sales from 400 people. Today, you see companies going public at $50 billion, and the majority of their growth may already be over, and tens of thousands of people.

So I like the growth stage. I like companies being able to help scale. I like walking the CEO and teaching them through their first crisis because as Jack Welch taught me many years ago, your company will never be great until you've had a near-death experience and you, as a leader, have learned to lead it through that.

Much like your kids, for your viewers, it's nice when your kids score a soccer goal or gets a good grade in school, but it's more important how they handle their first real setback. And if you could, as a parent, you would give that to them so that they can learn how to get through it.

So I'm kind of coaching these companies and I take tremendous pride in them. I get to pick only those companies that I really want to work with, so it's an honor.

ANDY SERWER: You look so energized-- I mean, maybe even more energized than when you were at Cisco. I mean, what keeps you going?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, changing the world one more time. I think we did with the internet at Cisco in many ways changed the way the world works, lives, learns, and plays. And not a router company, but really transformational in our business lives.

This time, I want to change the world in terms of startups. It's where all job creation is going to occur. And so the ability to outline a dream that many people think may not be possible, and then say, how do you do it on an inclusive basis, I mean, that's a rush.

The second thing, Andy, is I don't do anything anymore I don't want to do. And because I'm not tied to any company, I can say what I want. And if I don't want to do something, I just very politely pass on it. So I'm having the time of my life. It's fun for me.

I've always like playing multiple chess games at the same time. And now, I'm playing not just those 18, I'm having a unique opportunity in India and France as well and trying to take the startups all the way through mid-America and the southern part of the nation, including back to my home in West Virginia, for job creation.

ANDY SERWER: I'm going to want to talk about that, but first, I want to ask you about Silicon Valley. We're here and everything is so fabulous-- the environment for business and growth. There's so many jobs being created.

And yet, there is another side. There's people who suggest that there's sort of a cluelessness here that, you know, people are not really in touch with reality in terms of some of the companies that are being created. They're not really changing the world, that people are just creating tech for the sake of tech. Is Silicon Valley out of touch?

JOHN CHAMBERS: I think part of Silicon Valley is. And Andy, I've always taught people when you respond to a tough question, answer the question first, and then give a little bit of background. We're here in a garage startup. It isn't exactly the HP garage, but it is a garage in Silicon Valley that overlooks the valley. And I think that creativity still very much exists here. Out of my 18 companies, 8 of them are here in Silicon Valley.

There's still the American dream of starting a very small company and making a great company. However, different than our first two decades together where tech was considered for good and you asked anybody anywhere in the US or around the world, is tech for good or for bad, the answer was for good because we spent as much time giving back, finding a way to work with governments in a fair and equitable way. When there were legitimate concerns of citizens or customers, we addressed it. And we focused on how did you create a lot more jobs than you destroy and how do you always try to say, let's make it equal-- not perfect, but equal, regardless of your gender, your location, anything else.

And I think the Valley has made several mistakes of some of the large companies here of getting too far away from the citizens, doing what you should never do, in my opinion, which is lecturing others about how they ought to live their lives, or what's important to them, or what political candidate they ought to back or not. And I think that's a danger.

So I'd like to see the leaders of this next generation of large companies here in the Valley come together and get back to tech can be very much for good, but how do we make it inclusive, how do we think about the goods of society at the same time we think about how does a company be successful?

I think a different form of capitalism and a different form of technology capitalism has to happen. I think if we not-- and I said this a year and a half ago-- government will regulate and antitrust will come. And here we are a year and a half later, and it is coming.

So it's a tug of war. There's still a lot of good people here that really make a difference-- Marc Benioff at Salesforce-- in giving back in a huge way. A lot of the startups at TechNet that John Doerr and I founded give back. But I think the large companies have to be very much aware that their current image is one that is not good. And when that happens, people lose trust in you. And your currencies today are very simple. It's track record, it's relationships, and trust.

ANDY SERWER: As you said, John, Washington is now stirring.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Yes, it is.

ANDY SERWER: And you're seeing the Justice Department and Congress at least beginning, perhaps, to take up the issue of going after the big tech companies, which in this case now are Google, and Amazon, and Apple, and Facebook. Do you think that they do have legitimate concerns and will be able to address the problems?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Yeah, I think you mentioned a number of companies. Each one has different strengths and perhaps limitations. But it was interesting both the Democrats and Republicans started telling us two years ago, if you don't change, government will regulate and take action.

And we have legitimate concerns you've got to address. And they didn't want to address it. They said it's better if the companies change, but when the companies didn't change or changed way too slowly, there's a problem. So the classic rule is when you have a major crisis or issue coming at you, first, don't hide.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Be visible-- visible to all constituencies. Secondly, be very realistic how much was self-inflicted, how much was the market as a whole. And express it in simple-to-understand terms. Third, paint the picture of where you're going to go, how you're going to get there, and what are the milestones along the way. Fourth, as you go through this, give regular reports on that. And then fifth, go to each of the constituencies-- your shareholders, your customers, your employees, the citizens, the government leaders-- and share with them what you're going to do.

During the two decades that I ran Cisco, we had zero issues with governments around the world. It doesn't mean there weren't tough issues-- Snowden, as an example, and trust in the internet. And Cisco navigated through that remarkably well, but tech as a whole did. And we'd meet with European regulators regularly and say, what are the issues you face? How do we work together? And the same thing even in countries like China or Russia.

So I think there are things from the past that the current companies can learn from. And it starts with, I think, always thinking about the implications of your decisions on the rest of the nation, the rest of the world, and are we really moving forward in improving society as we do it?

ANDY SERWER: I want to ask you-- you mentioned the global footprint of Cisco and ask you about one of its competitors, which is Huawei, and the situation that that company finds itself in versus the US government. What is your take on that?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, I want to remind everybody who's listening I have no relationships with Cisco at all now. I'm a unshackled person. I've said many years ago, and I was one of the first high tech leaders to bet big in China in '95 right when I became CEO. And it was a win-win all the way through.

And often, the Chinese government and leaders were tough negotiators, but they would always try to find a way we could win together. And I think in the last decade, that's deteriorated where it's developed into a win-lose scenario. I think Huawei is more the symptom of that.

In this environment-- and this is where Cisco went through a scenario with questions-- we gave no unique capabilities to any government in the world, not even our own, nor do we give our source code to anybody. And it made such a difference in trust.

And if a company loses that trust, and has shown that they have major security issues, and if you're going to run not only your banking system, your electrical grid off the internet, et cetera, but everything in your personal lives, you've got to know that that environment is very, very secure and that's got to be a key part.

And so I think the relationship with China is going to continue to be tough for a while. I personally believe it's in both countries' best interests to work through it and get back to a win-win, but the issues had to be addressed-- both the security issues and a win-win mentality. It can't be win-lose in today's world.

Trade balance, what-- $570 billion one way, $140 billion the other. 15 years ago, that was like 200 and 100. So we got to get back to a win-win. And you can't ask one country to do something and not expect the other country to be fair in the exchange.

ANDY SERWER: Were tariffs the right way to address that?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, several of my good friends said that, at least finally a president is taking the issue on squarely. And it surprised me because when I'm at dinners with startups and larger companies in the Valley, most of them believe this issue had to be dealt with. And I think bringing it the attention, it wasn't a very gentle landing. And we'll see if we get landed, but I think it needed to be a firmness.

ANDY SERWER: Right. And let me ask you-- just I have to ask you about your take on President Trump. I know you were a supporter of John McCain, who is someone who the president did not see eye to eye with. And how would you rate President Trump overall then?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, you're asking the tough questions. I'm going to dodge one of them very smoothly without your viewers knowing I dodged it, but you'll know, so I'll tell you on the front. John McCain is an American hero. I was one of his five national co-chairs. What he did for our country and what he tried to always do what he believed is right didn't mean I always agreed with him.

And he was willing to cross the aisle and I think represented American values in all that's good. So I do think he would have made a very good president and somebody that I'm very proud to call a good friend and a true American hero.

I think today, we're divided as a country. And I think our leadership both on the Democratic side and the Republican side have to bring us back to the middle. America likes to be guided from the middle, maybe leaning slightly conservative.

And I think what you're seeing in this country, you're seeing in other countries, which is the extremes are controlling a lot of politics. And I don't think that's the right way. I'm somebody that gets along with Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy extremely well. I got along amazingly well with John McCain and Chuck Schumer.

And I think we need to get back to a nation that says, every decision should be what's right for the country and our country wants to have a better life for our kids than we had. And the American dream is being lost. Let's go fix that and let's do it together. Let's not do it with one extreme having 51% and the other 49% in oppositional views. Let's do it together.

ANDY SERWER: Just a little more politics. And that is where do you think that polarization comes from though, John? Is it because of social media? Certainly, social media doesn't help, but what's the origin?

JOHN CHAMBERS: I actually think the issue rests on all of us as Americans. I think as long as we allow the extremes to influence our views, as long as we try to impose our views on others as opposed to say how do we win together, then I think we will get the extreme views. And we're seeing that in other parts of the world.

So I do think that when you're not able to exchange views, when your primary source of information is the people who already agree with you, you've got to create an environment what made America great, which is the willingness to really debate on tough issues, and then say, how do we solve it together and how do we think about the outcomes in general?

And back to the issue of business and startups, every decision-- if all our jobs are going to come out of startups, which they will over this next decade or two-- large companies' headcount because of digitization, artificial intelligence will actually decrease-- then every decision we should make should say, how do we create jobs, what are the effects on the startups, and how do we do this on an inclusive basis with geography, gender, and other issues?

ANDY SERWER: Let me ask you about your upbringing growing up in West Virginia. Now, you didn't exactly grow up in tough circumstances. Your family-- your dad was a doctor.

JOHN CHAMBERS: My mom was a doctor too.

ANDY SERWER: Right, exactly. But still, you came from--

JOHN CHAMBERS: You met them both.

ANDY SERWER: I met them both, yeah, in 2000-- almost 20 years ago. But still, you didn't come from Silicon Valley. You didn't come from New York. You didn't come from LA. And yet, you ended up being the chief executive of a great American company. Is that dream still alive in America? How did you get there?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, I think the dream is still alive, but I think we need to give it help. And when you really think about growth and the direction of how I got there, my parents taught me education was the equalizer in life. Then I think the internet became the second one, which allows you to do it connectivity-wise.

And how you get there on big issues, it's getting market transitions right. Even at Cisco, I never competed versus a competitor. I competed on the transition-- video going to the internet, voice going to the internet, the internet changing every aspect of our business lives-- and then saying how to focus on outcomes.

I think part of it is also how you treat people. I'm not perfect and my wife reminds me of that every day, but almost every customer relationship I've ever had or every friendship I've ever had, I can go back to later and they trust me to say how do we work together on it again. So I think the thing that contributes is I've always built a network of people that work together.

And I saw all the transitions where West Virginia was the chemical center of the world with FMC, and Carbide, and DuPont, and 7,000 of the smartest engineers there were, and coal mining industry with 125,000 employees, great standard of living. And I watched us lose our way.

And then I was in Boston 128, which used to be the Silicon Valley. We couldn't even spell Silicon Valley. We thought these people out in California were a little bit unusual, you know? And we were so wrong. So if you don't change, if you keep doing the right thing too long, if you aren't disrupting, you're going to get disrupted and you're going to get left behind-- true of a company, true of a leader, true of a nation.

And so I think it's so important that we don't lose what America used to be great at, which is innovation and a comfort level with disrupting ourselves and thinking how does society win as a whole at the same time. I'm worried about that a lot. We are for the first time in my lifetime, not in the top 10 countries on innovation. We're number 11 according to the Bloomberg Index.

We are for the first time as Americans, saying our children probably are not going to have as good lives as we did. We need to fix that. And I think we need to dream a little bit bigger dreams. And that's why I like John McCain. It's why I like Shimon Peres. It's why I like Prime Minister Modi-- his vision of how does he change the lives of 1.3 billion people and how does he do it inclusively across all 29 states? And I know him very well. What you see is exactly what you get.

ANDY SERWER: I want to ask you maybe a little bit more about President Modi because some people say he's too much of a nationalist and then sort of fits in with this kind of nationalistic trend going around the globe. Is that the case, do you think?

JOHN CHAMBERS: No, it isn't. Prime Minister Modi--

ANDY SERWER: Prime Minister Modi, excuse me.

JOHN CHAMBERS: --he has to win these elections, so he's like any group. You've got to secure a base. But remember, he won 300 seats. That's more than he won the last time. He will increase the standard of living of the average citizen in India, doubling every 7 to 10 years.

Even after he won, instead of saying, here's where we're going to go, he said, I'm going to make this inclusive for all people in India. Every moment of my life is about making this country successful and to do it inclusively across all the groups. I know him very well-- I mean, very well.

He does his own vision and strategy. He is a tremendous campaigner, and he loves it. It isn't something that he doesn't enjoy. But I think he will position India for the next 25 years and accomplish economically and with a balance of society what Gandhi did many years ago in the formation of India.

So I believe Prime Minister Modi is one of the top three leaders I've ever met in my life. And I've met them all, Andy. And I think he has a chance not just to be a role model for India and 1.3 billion people, but for the rest of the world. And I think you will see India lead more and more on a basis. They're very lucky to have him in India, but I think he will be inclusive, not divisive in terms of the country's direction.

ANDY SERWER: And what about Macron? How did you get connected to him? What do you see in him?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, you know, I'm a moderate Republican. They'd call me liberal on the social issues. I just call it in touch. But President Clinton, many years ago, got the impact of the internet. And I was just about to become CEO at Cisco.

And I'm in the White House talking about the internet on a major announcement about America focused on the internet. He grasped that it can change society. And it created 22.5 million jobs in the next eight years. Last time, America got a sustainable raise, 24% growth in the average American family's income during the decade, and our GDP grew 34%. He grasped how you tie the two together.

In France, it was similar. I didn't think I would be particularly interested in a socialistic government. And the French were wonderful people, a great place to have a romantic weekend with your wife, great food, but not where you would locate business jobs creation. And even though they invented the World Entrepreneur, they'd gotten away from that.

And, boy, was I wrong. Hollande grasped how this could be changed. Macron was his economic minister at the time. And we actually taught classes together at MBA schools about startups and how do you do it. And so I got to watch the man and how he thinks.

And he was kind enough to share with me well before he publicly announced that he was probably going to run and asked, did I think he would win? And I said, absolutely. He was a little bit surprised by how decisive I was. And I said, you're the only outsider running down the middle and outsiders are winning. And I think France is ready for a change. And you could see it.

And so his vision of a startup France and an inclusive France, their startups-- venture-capital backed-- have gone from an average of 140 a year to 740 at a time the US is dropping. And so we share a common dream. And I thought originally that would be the UK or Germany that would lead in innovation. It is France. And it's like anything-- very often when you try to make change, all the natural antibodies on both extremes come out and challenge you.

Modi saw that originally in the first couple of years of his leadership. And you clearly saw the most inclusive landslide victory that I can remember in India. And I think barring a huge surprise, we'll look back at his leadership and say it really changed India in a very positive way not for 5 or 10 years, but for decades.

Macron has the same potential. His hurdles are a little bit bigger in terms of the challenges that he faces, including the inclusiveness, but I think he's a good man. And I think he's doing the right thing. So I met him because of a common vision of the future of France.

ANDY SERWER: Are there any American politicians that you feel so sanguine about?

JOHN CHAMBERS: There are only a few, and very few in terms of future presidents that I look at. I'm pretty good about even following the Chinese leaders on charts and seeing who's emerging and who's emerging in Europe and the others. I think there's some really superstars that I like, like Rob Portman out of Ohio, et cetera, but I don't see a candidate yet that is emerging that can really over this next decade, bring our country back together.

My dad, who you met, always taught me to both be optimistic, which I am. But second, each time America has needed to change, we found a way to come together and to do that. And so I'd like to really challenge our leaders on the left and the right to come together and let's focus on one America.

And we, as voters, will always have divisiveness as long as we allow the divisiveness to force us to the extremes. I think the minute the American people say, we want somebody in the middle, we want an inclusive win-win type of environment going forward, then you'll see our leaders change. Maybe it's dreaming too much. I don't think so.

ANDY SERWER: What's that, I'm sorry?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Maybe it's dreaming too much. I don't think so.

ANDY SERWER: I hope not. Let me ask you about JC2 a little bit, switching back to that. What sectors are you looking to invest in and what sectors are you looking to avoid, John?

JOHN CHAMBERS: OK. Well, the exciting thing about the internet is it had a lot of effect on many sectors, but they were kind of staged. The first ones to go were retail and finance, and government and health care were at the back end. Now, all the industries are moving with digitization, artificial intelligence very rapidly. Every industry segment, including government, is going to be disrupted. Open, transparent government is very much there.

And so you see me-- across the board, I'm trying to do everything from cyber security. Six of my companies are in the cyber security area, including a Dedrone capability that can spot drones at airports and protect society. On top of my house-- I'm on a no-fly zone here-- we've had 580 drones in the last nine months come over our house. I'm tracking it.

ANDY SERWER: Really? This technology detected that?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Detected it, who's flying it, et cetera.

ANDY SERWER: Let me interrupt you and ask you a question. Do you know what are property rights in terms of how much airspace an individual property owner has?

JOHN CHAMBERS: No, I don't, but it's probably under 100 feet, you're not supposed to go below. But the major thing is these are no-fly zones in the park as well. So it's a complete no-fly zone. It isn't my house. We're just surrounded by parks in terms of the direction.

Probably the only secure phone in the world is made by a company called Privoro. If you watch what they've done, they built a secure phone capability. Your Apple or your Android phone can go into a sleeve and you can truly take it in the most secure environments in the world. Probably the only one that's nation-state proof. I think you'll see it be the trend within it.

Voice recognition-- I said voice was going to be dead and commoditized in technology. It actually is the best form of authentication. Social media with a company called Sprinklr, which anticipates customers' expectations way ahead of them actually occurring.

Two really hot AI companies-- SparkCognition down in Texas-- very innovative, a great CEO in Amir. Gustavo out of a company called [INAUDIBLE]. You can't even find it listed. A stealth company, but they did two million two years ago, 60 million last year. They'll go way over 160 million this year, so excited about that.

And I'm still trying to solve major global issues such as world hunger, so I'm into crickets for protein. And it's really internet of things, big data, analytics, robotics that mine the crickets. Your kids and grandkids will love it. And it's the cleanest form of protein at 1/10th the environmental impact that meat or plants have in creating the same type of protein.

ANDY SERWER: You eat crickets?

JOHN CHAMBERS: I love crickets. In fact, we have a couple here if you want to try them.

ANDY SERWER: That's OK. I'm not quite ready for that. I see people eating them though.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, what it is is what form your protein comes in. Our body just digests animal protein easier than it does plant. And you can grow them so much cleaner and so fast that it could not only solve world hunger, but be unique. Saison restaurant up here, we did a seven-course cricket dinner. And it's--

ANDY SERWER: How did it go over?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Extremely well. And we took one of your colleagues to witness the whole evening, so everything from cricket margaritas to cricket tea to cricket protein with the butter, et cetera. Really fun, but it really was proving a point. When you try to do things that others might consider crazy or stretch too far, you've got to make it practical so that we all understand it.

ANDY SERWER: All right, you're going to have to convert me. Let me ask you a little bit about startups, and capital, and concentrations of wealth in this country because we've got Silicon Valley, you've got New York obviously, stuff in Austin a little bit, some medical stuff in Boston still. How do we spread the wealth around more in terms startups just in terms of opportunities? And Steve Case, for instance, is someone who's working on it.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Steve's been doing a very good job of trying to bring this to individual cities. I'm approaching it a little bit differently, trying to feed off the universities where out of the 180 companies I've bought, probably 40% of them were an outgrowth of Stanford. And even though we have a great university across the way, four times the number of students at the University of California, Berkeley, I didn't buy one startup out of there.

So you've got to have an entrepreneurial environment that really is focused on startups. And you've got to teach that in terms of the schools and directions. So I think it starts with the universities, then it starts with how do we make it inclusive. We've got to knock down the regulations. The regulations on startups are a disaster.

ANDY SERWER: What's the problem with the regulations for startups?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, merely to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley with IPO capability is a $20 million price tag. And that's why companies often wait very long to go public. And the minute you go public, all of a sudden, you have shareholder activists telling you how to run your company. I believe in two classes of stock now. I wouldn't have said that five years ago.

ANDY SERWER: You do?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Oh, yeah, because you want the company making the right decision for three to five years out. The markets tend to be short-term focused. But I think the major issue is the average American. And I was reading the other day where millennials only have $8,000 in savings. And about the time that you're paying off your student loan in your early 30s, you're suddenly thinking about your kids and can you afford to send them to college. And so they don't have the opportunity to invest in startups.

So I'd like to see us address that and perhaps even put a freeze for when you're doing a startup and creating jobs on your student loan payments and the interest that goes with them for creative ideas. But I think it starts with the universities changing the curriculum, focusing on entrepreneurship, knocking down the silos, and dreaming what can be done.

We're going to try to do that in West Virginia University. Gordon Gee up there is amazing, but we have both the Senate, and the House in West Virginia, and the governor committed. The Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, the Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito also saying how we'll do this. We'll bring in venture capital.

We're going to dream and say, can we do this across our country? I think we have no choice. If we don't, you're going to see today's voting extremes get much worse on both sides. Americans should have a right for a great job and a chance to have a better life than their parents.

ANDY SERWER: Well, let me ask you then to follow up a little bit about regulation and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Do those need to be reformed?

JOHN CHAMBERS: I think so, but I think you also need to--

ANDY SERWER: In what way?

JOHN CHAMBERS: Well, I think the number one way is you need to focus on every decision should understand the implications for startups. And very often, privacy is an example-- which I'm more European than I am American in terms of the importance on privacy protection-- even with their GDPR-- their privacy rules-- the big companies didn't get hurt. It was the small companies that all of a sudden couldn't afford it.

So we've got to think every time we make a decision, what's the impact on job creation, especially startups and small companies getting bigger? And we've got to set a goal. This country is great about setting goals and achieving what no other country can do. We ought to set a goal again to become the startup nation of the world, the most inclusive nation in the world, not the most divisive, in terms of the approach. And how do we do this across all 50 states and does every decision we make move us closer to this outcome?

Dreaming, perhaps, but out of my 18 startups, many people said, well, John, if you get two or three to be successful, that's what venture capital is about. I personally believe the vast majority have a chance to be successful and create a lot of jobs. I'll measure them by do they create 50% growth in jobs per year in each of these companies and do we share the success of the company with the employees?

ANDY SERWER: I think I hear one of those drones out there.

JOHN CHAMBERS: I think it is. It's a rather loud one.

ANDY SERWER: That's a loud drone. So last question, John.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Sure.

ANDY SERWER: Let me ask you about how you see using your influence on the world, presumably for good. What do you think that you can achieve?

JOHN CHAMBERS: I think my parents-- and you met both of them, we talked about it earlier-- taught me that those that are most successful and lucky in life owe an obligation to give back. I believe that. And it's not only just the right thing to do and make you feel good, it's really good for business as well.

So if I have a chance to help change the world, to help in some small way help bring peace in the Middle East-- and I've done that with Shimon Peres during his lifetime and focused on Palestine, and Jordan, and throughout the region-- if I have a chance to influence startups and create more jobs, if I have a chance to our nation lead in this innovation again across all 50 states, that would be something that I think would be pretty cool.

And that's what I tried to do in this book that I've got a signed copy for you, "Connecting the Dots," is say how do we give back? I'd like to play a role in helping countries and businesses around the world do this on an inclusive basis. And so to do that would be kind of cool. And by the way, if I do that, I'll also be successful financially.

ANDY SERWER: John Chambers, thank you very much for your time and thanks for having us here.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Andy, it's a pleasure. I would love to be together in 10 years looking back at this next decade and see how much we talked about today actually happens. What we talked about 20 years ago, most of it did happen. And I love the way you think. And you ask challenging questions. You make me think about the values and directions, but it's a joy to be on your show. Thank you.

ANDY SERWER: Thank you, John. I look forward to that 10 years from now.

JOHN CHAMBERS: Uh-huh.

ANDY SERWER: That's "Influencers." I'm Andy Serwer. We'll see you next time.