Hello Leader,

As we begin to emerge into a post-covid 19 world, we are not altogether sure what kind of a world it is becoming. For many, the last year was about a lot more than the pandemic. Rather, it was about the culmination of several trends accelerated by the virus.

Polarities are a fact of life on Earth. Each trend brings its counter trend. For example, at the same time that social distancing exacerbated an epidemic of loneliness, it catalyzed new ways of finding virtual closeness and intimacy.

For me, inside the enforced isolation I discovered higher levels of integration in myself. Let me explain. For more than two decades I’ve been working with leadership teams in some of the most admired companies in the world. It was through their kindness, generosity of spirit, and collaboration that I was able to refine my signature Create New Futures methodology.

This refinement process of consistent inquiry into facilitating and propelling teams to produce breakthrough results was informed and inspired by a broader inquiry that found me in my early 20s, when I was a young fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force. It was the inquiry of purpose that addressed the big philosophical, spiritual, and developmental questions of life, such as why are we humans here? What are the meaning and purpose of this life? How can we unlock the greater connective and creative potential in living?

Through my work with clients this last year and through my new adventure with Portals of Perception, I have found a higher level of integration. One expression of this occurred a couple of weeks ago when I led the first Portals event that attracted 60 participants from 13 countries. With the help of the Portals team, for the first time I brought together people in distinctly separate “universes,” including senior executives and their spouses, friends from different communities, and neighbors who greet me on my morning run. The merging and integration of these different universes released a tremendous sense of liberation and unlocked new possibilities for me.

In this Key you will find the first in a series of Create New Futures CEO interviews. Jon Herlocker is the Founder and CEO of Tignis, a company that provides a physics-driven software solution for managing industrial assets, processes, and operations. During our conversation, we explored deeply the entrepreneurial mindset, the power of setting big, hairy, audacious goals and the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence. More about these topics below.

Before we get to that conversation, I’d like to share a brief introduction to a fascinatingly rich Portals conversation whose focus of inquiry is the human as a fountain of encouragement and hope. You may access this four-minute video promo here.

The Human as a Fountain of Encouragement and Hope

In this conversation with participants in the Portals exploration we reflect on the qualities of hope and encouragement. We inquire what these essences are and how we can cultivate them to influence our lives and others’ positively.

This conversation is especially important today because we find ourselves living in a time of both new and familiar challenges and tribulations all around the world. As a result, we experience a need to search for those properties of strength, confidence, and conviction that will enable us to pick ourselves up and start again. The essence of this conversation is a rich tapestry woven from the experiences of teachers, parents, and people who were touched and who touched others in moments when all that was needed was a little bit of help, offered with encouragement and hope. We are seeking to appreciate the centrality of these qualities in our lives.

Setting High-level Goals & Becoming a Lifelong Learner with Jon Herlocker

“What I realized, which is so powerful, is that people burn so much stress all day long on micro decisions. And by picking a high-level powerful goal, they can use that as a navigating light as to all of these little micro decisions they make all day long.”

Setting High-Level Goals & Becoming a Lifelong Learner

Listen here: Episode 109 – Setting High-level Goals & Becoming a Lifelong Learner

Episode Summary:

Jon Herlocker is a technology entrepreneur, an experienced executive with a long history of leadership in big data analytics and artificial intelligence. Before building his company Tignis, he was CTO of VMware’s Cloud Management and of EMC’s Cloud Services division. Jon is a former tenured professor of Computer Science at Oregon State University.

In this episode, Jon and Aviv engage in a deep conversation about entrepreneurship. Jon describes how he enables others to achieve extraordinary breakthroughs and how this leadership trait has been a critical tool for him as a leader and as a CEO.


What We Covered:

00:39 – Jon Herlocker speaks to what he enjoys the most about his work and his experience enabling others to achieve extraordinary breakthroughs

11:12 – Jon tells the story of where his fascination with giving people vision started

15:38 – Jon shares the origin story of Tignis, the initial problem he set out to solve when he launched and how the company has evolved since then

25:35 – Jon speculates on when we might have fully autonomous industrial plants

27:53 – Jon explains Industry 4.0

30:36 – Jon addresses concerns that automated plants will lead to social challenges such as job loss

32:54 – During a discussion of the Overshoot Undershoot Syndrome, Jon provides an interesting Control Systems analogy 

36:50 – Jon expounds on common misconceptions that people have about machine learning and artificial intelligence

41:25 – Jon speaks to his entrepreneurial origin story

46:26 – Jon shares the top lessons he’s learned throughout his career

50:36 – Jon identifies the core management practices that he established in his company

53:29 – Aviv breaks down the four stages of adult learning

55:38 – Jon explains how he continues to learn and evolve as a CEO and a leader

1:00:31 – Jon shares the one insight he values above all others

1:01:40 – Jon’s final words of wisdom



“You need to have a big, hairy goal that’s significantly encompassing and then find ways to iteratively work your way through problems that take you towards that goal.” (20:49)

“Fundamentally, we [Tignis] are trying to enable the next generation of industrial process control. We’re trying to enable autonomous industrial plants.” (23:15)

“What data do you need? What is good data? What is bad data? How much of it do you need? What features do you choose? What problems can you solve? To know all of those things, that’s not easy.” (39:46)

“What I realized is that I am not the best at anything. I’m a good Renaissance guy and I know a little bit about a lot of things. But to win in this hyper-competitive, global, entrepreneurial environment, you don’t win by being mediocre at lots of things. You win by being the best at multiple things.” (47:16)

“Without integrity, motivation is dangerous. And that’s why integrity is the first, most important attribute, then motivation, and then capacity.” (49:39)

“My advice to that twenty-five-year-old would be to really find and take advantage of trusted and experienced advisors.” (58:33)

© Aviv Shahar