Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of and the owner of TIME magazine. He has a net worth of over $10 billion.
He and I go way back–almost 38 years to be exact. At the time, I was a software evangelist in the Macintosh Division of Apple. Marc was a student at the University of Southern California.

I gave him a job as a summer intern in the summer of 1984. His task was to write sample Assembly Language programs so that developers around the world could see how Macintosh programs were written.

Marc is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change. And last but not least, he is a major philanthropist.
For example, he and his wife have given $200 million to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland and another $200 million to combat climate change.
They are signatories of the Giving Pledge which means they have promised to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Enjoy this interview with the remarkable Marc Benioff!

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Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with the remarkable Marc Benioff:

Guy Kawasaki:
Hello, I'm Guy Kawasaki.
This is the Remarkable People Podcast.
Today's remarkable guest is Marc Benioff.
Marc is the founder and CEO of He's also the owner of Time Magazine.
He has a reported net worth of over ten billion dollars.
He and I go way back, almost thirty-eight years to be exact. At the time, I was a software evangelist in the Macintosh division of Apple.
Marc was a student at the University of Southern California.
I gave him a job as an intern in the summer of 1984.
His task was to write the seventy language programs so that Macintosh developers around the world could see how Macintosh software was created.
Marc is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change.
And last, but not least, Marc and his wife are major philanthropists.
For example, they have given 200 million dollars to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals. Also, another 200 million to combat climate change.
They are signatories of the Giving Pledge, which means they have promised to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People and now here's the remarkable former intern, Marc Benioff.
It was thirty-eight or thirty-nine years ago that you spent the summer of love at Apple.
Marc Benioff:
1984, I remember very clearly. I was in my dorm room at USC and USC is a great school in Los Angeles, Guy, and I was on my Atari computer at the time and I was watching the Superbowl and this incredible commercial came on with this amazing woman who was running down an aisle with a sledgehammer.
And the commercial said 1984 won't be like 1984 and the next thing I saw was an Apple logo. And I picked up the phone and called my mother and I said, "I've been working on Atari and building Atari now for so many years. I'm moving back to Apple and I can't wait for this new Macintosh computer."
And the next person I called after that was you. And I said, "I want to become a developer." And you're like, "Okay, we're just trying to figure that out right now. We're going to help you."
And I was a nineteen-year-old snotty nosed kid with a little software company built out of a bunch of my high school friends and you were great. You got me all hooked up and I was in business as a Macintosh developer.
Guy Kawasaki:
And the rest is history, huh?
Marc Benioff:
The rest is history.
Guy Kawasaki:
I tell everybody that I knew you were going to be so successful.
Marc Benioff:
Oh yeah, yeah. Oh sure. Oh yeah. No, it was bumpy. It was bumpy.
I would go into your office. It was hard to get product actually. So we had the Mac 128K, at that point, and the big coveted Mac was the 512K and you had a few of them around your office and they were going out to very key developers like Lotus who were building Jazz or Microsoft.
But independent guys like me, well, we could only hope and pray for something quite as exciting as that. And it was cool and you gave me a job in May or June working right in Apple, in Bandley four near you with these great people who I even keep in contact with like Scott Knaster and others.
It was a moment that shaped my mind of what a great technology company was, because Apple really had it all. And Steve Jobs, of course, was there and running around and yelling at everyone and it was one of the greatest experiences in my life.
Guy Kawasaki:
Did you learn any specific lessons there?
Marc Benioff:
I think the number one lesson that I learned while being at Apple is that a technology company, a great one, is filled with amazing energy, vitality and a sense of urgency. Because if there was anything there, everyone felt, “Oh, we got to go, go, go and we have a window and it's going to close.” And you're fighting the technology continuum because you're coding, you're building, you're creating, you're doing all these amazing things, but at the same time, you realize others are doing that as well.
You're in a race and you felt that sense of urgency there. And at the same time, there was a great culture. Steve Jobs have those Odwalla juices for everyone and shiatsu masseurs were going up and down the hallways, keeping programmers limber.
And Dan Farber, who was a great journalist who at the time, I think, was editor of Macworld or something, he actually worked in Salesforce now, showed up in my cube, "Hey kid, what are you working on?" And it was like, wow, this is a real amazing environment.
There was a motorcycle in the lobby. There was a pirate flag on the roof. And when I had problems, I could walk across the street from Bandley four to Bandley three and I would go to talk to someone named Steve Capps, who was one of these incredible visionary kind of savant engineers and go, "I don't understand. I'm working on assembly language and I can't get this to work and I can't get that to work," and he's like, "Oh, you forgot this. You forgot that." There was no documentation.
Nothing was written down. Everything was oral story. Usually in the development world, you're picking up some amazing textbook and you're going, “Oh yeah, I see. I can do that. I can do that.” But we were, in many ways, writing the textbooks in real time while we were building the product.
And Steve Capps, I mean, I wouldn't have made it through that without him. I mean, it was an amazing moment in time. There's no question.
Guy Kawasaki:
Truly. And Marc, I have to say that your success, it just brings such joy to my heart that you have succeeded to this extent.
So that's one level of the joy that Marc has brought into my life, but the next level is that you have not squandered your success and you've paid back society, which not a lot of people do.
Marc Benioff:
I think we can go back to that moment in time, that summer of love 1984, that incredible time, Bandley three, Bandley four. Apple, Steve Jobs. And I'm sitting in my cube and I'm nineteen and working on my computers and one Mac 128K, which I'm compiling on, and the other Mac 128K, I am linking and debugging on and they're connected with a cable and it's barely working.
And it's an amazing thing. We're building something called the Macintosh 68,000 Development System for assembly language programmers and there's this great engineer, Bill Duvall, who is putting it all together and I'm having the time of my life and I actually just wrote my first piece of code. It was a game called Raid on Armonk, which was the headquarters of IBM at the time.
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
Scott Knaster comes in my cube, "Well, how you doing Marc? You've been here now two weeks. You got anything to show for what you're doing?" "Yeah, Scott. I wrote this. We're going to use this as our example for Macintosh 68,000 assembly language. It's Raid on Armonk. I'm an assembly language programmer, Scott, but I'm a video game developer and here we go. And we're shooting down these IBM computers and executives and it's going to be great."
And he's like, "Okay, this is going to end now, Marc. This is not what we're doing. And you're going to do something simple like show people how to make a window, show people how to make a menu." And I'm like, "Oh, I didn't realize that." And he's like, "Yes. I realize now I need to give you clearer direction." I'm like, "Okay, tell me what to do."
And literally right then, Scott left, I'm like, "Oh gee, I have to throw away this whole game I've written." And my phone rings and it's Henry Singleton.
Now I didn't know who Henry Singleton was and I had to start asking people who he was. In fact, I had to go ask Steve Capps who he was.
But Henry Singleton, he was the chairman and CEO and founder of Teledyne, big consumer products company, but also defense contractor from Los Angeles. And he was living in Bel Air and he called me and he said, "Hey, I'm using your sample code and it's great. And I'm going to write a chess program and it's going to be an amazing chess program on the Macintosh and I figured it out based on what you've done here." “I'm like, whoa, this is great. Somebody's using my stuff.” And who is this Henry Singleton?
And then I realize he's also on the board of Apple and that's why he's gotten all my stuff really.
And so I'm talking to this Apple Director, then I start to freeze. I get nervous. I'm getting panicky. I'm having a little panic attack. And Henry Singleton says, "So, who are you anyway?" And I'm like, "I'm nineteen. I go to USC. I am just here for the summer. I'm writing all the sample code on Macintosh 68,000. I'm just an assembly language programmer and I usually have my own software company and this is like my first job. And I actually just got a paycheck and I have an employment badge from Apple and this is all really cool what's happening."
He's like, "Now Marc, listen here. I live in Los Angeles and when you get back to school, you're going to come and see me." And he became really my first mentor.
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
And I went out to see him several times, many times actually. And I would drive out there to Bel Air and his house was next to Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion in this gorgeous, gorgeous residence. And the gates would open and his wife would come out.
Everyone was so gracious and generous to me. And he started to talk to me about different things. And I realize, “Oh, this is a different kind of CEO and this is a different kind of way to think about business and this is another idea.”
And I began to realize, “Oh, I actually have been influenced in business in many different ways.” And this all came out of that moment on Bandley.
Guy Kawasaki:
I should claim a lot of your success.
Marc Benioff:
You should.
Guy Kawasaki:
Because I gave you a job.
Marc Benioff:
Why not claim all of it, Guy?
Guy Kawasaki:
I think that people do not fully appreciate the difficulty of what you accomplished, in the sense of convincing companies to trust their data to the cloud because that just wasn't an idea back then.
So how did you pull that off?
Marc Benioff:
I think probably through pure ignorance. It's a funny thing, and our story continued after Apple and I went to Oracle and I bumped into you all the time and we'd exchanged stories and our life has constantly been intersecting during this moment since 1894 now to 2022.
I would say that when we started Salesforce, what we built was just a killer app. That's all we were trying to do. Easiest business app of all time, just make it easy, make it simple, very basic functionality, just get it working, try to make it so you could just log on and manage.
No one had really done that yet. And what I really had was a vision that you could build basic business apps using the browsers at that time, which were still relatively unstable, insecure, hard to use, but the things had started to make a movement where yeah, you could deliver a really high quality app.
And Jeff Bezos had done such a great job with Amazon. He had already been at it for five or six or seven years, and I'm like, “If Jeff Bezos can build an app that sells books, we can build an app that manages data.” And we did it, literally in a matter of months.
In about six months, we were able to build a very rudimentary system to be able to manage information. And in this category that we decided to move into, Salesforce automation, which also I would say was kind of a fluky thing that I even picked that because I really didn't know anything about Salesforce automation. I was mostly an application development and deployment executive.
I had been working on building tools at Oracle. So to build an app, this was really my first business app and all of a sudden, we put it out there and people just started liking it and using it.
And we didn't have to do too much convincing. What happened was people just found it to be fun. They just enjoyed it and it just brought them in. They told their friends. There was a lot of word of mouth and it grew
And I think you can bring it back to Apple. And the reason why is “What are the things that we learned at Apple?” We knew it had to be fun. We knew it had to be low cost. We knew it had to be accessible. We knew it had to be for the every person. We knew that we had to deal at the ground level. We weren't selling to CIOs at that point. We were just selling to whoever wanted to call us and talk to us about managing information.
And that was, I think, a lot of that Apple energy. I was lucky to keep some of that with me in that fifteen years between 1984 and 1999 when we started Salesforce.
Guy Kawasaki:
So you're saying that people didn't directly confront you with, "I don't trust the cloud. I don't trust your servers with my data."? That kind of question never came up?
Marc Benioff:
It was not a dominant part of the conversation. I know it's hard to believe because-
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
I think people are cynical like yourself, that that would be a natural thing just to go right there and look at and critique it.
And maybe the category person we were talking to, sales people, were thinking. Sales people were thinking, "Hey, I really like this app and I need to manage my..." And we only did five things. Contacts. “I need to manage my contacts. I need to manage my accounts. I need to manage my opportunities. I need to manage my forecast. And I need to manage my reports. Oh, and also they're tasked.”
And these things, that's what made Salesforce, Salesforce. We got the app right and then that was really the beginning.
And then we went from being an app to a platform. We added another app with service. We acquired a company with our marketing cloud, a small company in Indianapolis called ExactTarget.
And that was the fundamental foundation of our company, which is still true today.
Guy Kawasaki:
And with hindsight, why didn't Oracle do what you did?
Marc Benioff:
Oracle was really never in this business. Oracle was really a business that was for very large enterprises, number one, selling them databases. Oracle is still the best database in the world.
It's a great database. It's been well engineered. Larry Ellison is still very passionate about solving all the mathematical problems associated with a database management. He's done a great job since 1977 to today.
It's forty-five years of database excellence.
And that's what Oracle did and everything else around Oracle, including the apps or everything, that was always a second thought. But Oracle also was never at the bottom. Oracle was not interested in that bottom consumer where we were, where we started right at, "Hey, you're just on the internet and you found sales You can make this useful."
That's not what Oracle was. Oracle was much more of a enterprise quality sell. And in some ways, Salesforce has evolved into that.
We're a company this year that we said we're going to do $31.8 billion in revenue next year. It's a big company, 75,000 people. All our bread and butter today is very much that kind of enterprise solution.
We're really working with the largest and most important companies in the world to manage their information, to take the concepts that we learned early on, make it easy, make it useful, and make it available over the internet, but to really deliver it at an enterprise class.
And I think because we started at the bottom and then came up, we were able to achieve this position today.
Guy Kawasaki:
And what did you learn in the transition from startup to Fortune 150? What did Marc Benioff have to do differently?
Marc Benioff:
Well, I think that the transition from startup to Fortune 100, actually this year, so we're going to be in the 100 is amazing. I never would've thought when I started the company that I was creating a Fortune 100 company, but we have.
And I think that what I've learned is a lot about what I've learned from COVID, which is, as you go from the beginning to the end, stay focused on your core values.
What are your core values? What's really important to you? This might not have been something that we talked about at Apple. This may have been a thought, an idea, that came after Apple.
Apple's core values were more around product and not around the company, per se. Our core values, I think, are more around our company and who we are as an organization.
And as we were able to stay true to our core values, trust customer success, innovation, quality of every human being, that guided us through this growth period and we operationalized those values every year.
So even in next year, which is our fiscal year twenty-three, when we look at those core values, which stay with us and probably sustainability is a value now that we're also operationalizing, we look at each one of those values and say, "How do we achieve trust this year? And also what is preventing us from having greater levels of trust? And how do we know that we have trust?" As we look at that and as we get bigger and as the company scales by employee, but also by revenue, it's more important than ever to stay true to our core values.
And as COVID has really taken us and grabbed us by the throat and tried to take us down into a back alley, it's been like, okay, let's just stay true to our core values because that's going to guide us through the most difficult situations.
So I think that when we forget who we are as a company, or even as an individual, or we all of a sudden find ourself looking at different potential futures for ourself, ultimately we have to get back to our values and what's truly important to us.
And that's, I would say, the secret sauce of Salesforce. We really got clear of what is truly important to us and we have stayed to it.
Guy Kawasaki:
How about you explain the 1-1-1 plan? Because there is no greater data point about your values than the 1-1-1 plan.
Marc Benioff:
Well, I'm so glad you asked me that question, because I would say that as I got ready to start Salesforce, I knew somehow, and I don't even know where exactly it came from. I had a number of really unusual experiences when I took a sabbatical from Oracle in 1996, 1997, and met quite a few people, including one of my most important mentors in my life who just sadly passed, General Colin Powell, who really took me aside at that moment and looked in my eyes and said, "You've got a big future and you're probably going to start a company and when you do, I want you to start thinking about something that you're not thinking about now."
And I would say, "What is that, sir?" And he said that, "You have to be thinking about how you're going to use business as the greatest platform change. How you're not just going to do well, but how you're going to do good. And you have all these amazing resources, financial resources, relationships, technology, customers, you can maximize them for your shareholder value and I'm sure you're going to be able to do that. Can you maximize them for your stakeholder value? That is for everybody in the world, the planet even as a stakeholder."
And that's a big and overwhelming thought as an entrepreneur, that you're going to have to build a company that's proven state of the world not to conquer a market or a product segment. But it's a fun challenge and I think being at Oracle as long as I was, and I think you remember some of those moments, where I was very conflicted.
I felt at some point I was happy to be building great products, but in the afternoons, you probably remember during Net Day, when we were wiring schools and we had these amazing, inspiring figures coming out of places like Sun Microsystems, which doesn't really exist anymore, but these incredible people were like saying, "Hey, we need to get out there and wire the world and get kids connected to the internet."
And I realized, because during the morning I was in my office at Oracle in Redwood Shores and then in the afternoon, I was in the Bayview and different parts of San Francisco wiring schools. And I was saying to myself, "Hmm, I think we can do both with the company."
It's not an either or. It's an and.
And there was one very seminal story that General Powell actually got quite tired of me telling, but I'll tell it again, because it was an important story.
And what happened was, is General Powell had called us and he had said, "Marc, I really want you to get a hundred computers into McFarland Middle School in Washington, DC. It's a school I've adopted and you know, Marc, every one of us needs to adopt a public school."
And I said, "Yes, sir, I will do that for you. And I agree, every person needs to adopt a public school now. There's nothing more important than our children's public education."
And so I arranged to get the computers out there. I got our executives there and I had two amazing executives there. One still works at Salesforce, Jim Cavalieri. Another one, Mitch Wallace, who works at a company called Veeva.
And they called me and they said, "Hey, we're out here. We're at McFarland Middle School. We got the computers, but it's 110 degrees in Washington, DC and we're San Francisco guys. We're not really used to this and there's no way we're going to get these computers up three flights of stairs, wire this school and get all this done."
So I had to call General Powell and say, "Okay, General Powell. Hey, it's Marc Benioff. Look, I got the computers there. I'm really excited. But look, my guys are there. Yeah, I know we have an office in Bethesda, but they didn't come out to help us. And it's going to take us a while and it's really hot and we're not sure."
And then, "Hello? Hello?" And he had hung up on me and I said, "General Powell, I don't understand. What happened?" And I called Jim Cavalieri back and I said, "Jim, I think he's pretty mad at us. This is a bad situation. We pissed off General Powell."
And Jim's like, "Oh shit, man. This is really bad. I don't know what we're going to do. We got the computers here and Mitch is here, but I guess we're going to try." And then my phone rang again. "Hello? Hello?" I said, "Is it you General Powell?" "No, it's Jim." "Oh, Jim, what's happening?" "Yeah, Marc. A battalion and Marines just arrived at the school. We're getting the computers." And I was like, it's good to be a general.
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
And all computers got in, the battalion and Marines got them in and we accomplished our mission in partnership with General Powell.
And this is very much a major influence in my life. I've told this story many times, but what happened was is when I started Salesforce I said, “How do we create a company that does well and does good, that doesn't become a cultural aberration that we would wire up a school and put computers.”?
It's just what we do. We sell software. We make companies successful.
But we are improving the state of the world and we're doing all these things simultaneously. How do we do this? And this idea actually worked out really well that we came up with a 1-1-1 model, which was, we would take at the start, when we started the company, 1 percent of our equity, 1 percent of our product, our 1 percent of our time, 1 percent of our profits, whatever we would do, and we would give that back at scale.
And it was easy because we had no employees and no products and no profit. No one said, "You can't give away one percent."
We just did it. And then today, Guy, we have given away six and a half million hours of volunteerism. We have given away a half a billion dollars. We run 50,000 nonprofits and NGOs for free in our service. And yes, the planet is a stakeholder, which is why we are net zero and fully renewable today, not some future commitment. It's something that we practice, which we call, now we have a name for it, stakeholder capitalism.
We didn't have a name for it. Then it was just our 1-1-1 model. The idea that we can be more integrated between businesses and society and that it doesn't have to be just about great products.
When we were at Apple, it was all about great products. And we had a positive influence on society because we've influenced society with our products.
And Apple, of course, has evolved and has done a lot of philanthropy and this type of thing.
But this kind of idea that there would be a structured, integrated way to unite a company with a community, I think this is something a lot of companies are still learning today.
When we look at Fortune 100 companies, and I think I mentioned to you, Salesforce is a net zero company today, which means that we have no net new emissions and we are doing everything we can to continue to reduce our emissions.
But in the Fortune 100, very few companies are net zero today. We're one of them.
It's very important and I'm very proud of that.
In the Fortune 100, very few of them will do six and a half million hours of volunteerism. I think these things that we're bringing into the fortune 100, I hope that it's influencing not only fortune 100, but entrepreneurs like me, like I was a quarter of a century ago, thinking about starting their company saying, "Hey, I don't want to just build a great product. I also want to build a platform for change."
And that is what Salesforce, thank God, has become and also other organizations that I am associated with. And I think that... I also own Time Magazine. And here's this Time Magazine I'm showing it to Guy. You probably can't see it because we're doing audio.
Jane Goodall is on the cover.
Time Magazine, one of the reasons I bought it and I love it. It's a platform for change. It's a positive influence on the world.
And that's what I think we need to all do more of collectively and this is an important part of the world today in that look, we have a lot of challenges in our world and we all have, and you're going to know this word, Guy, kuleana.
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
We all have a responsibility, a Hawaiian word, which means that we all have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet and that this is what we do.
We take care of the world. We build it in the right way. And in Hawaii, they say kukulo pono, we build things in the right way. And that, I think, for our companies, we need to recognize our companies also have that kukulo pono.
Guy Kawasaki:
I want you to know Jane was my very first guest on this podcast.
Marc Benioff:
Oh wow. What a great story.
Guy Kawasaki:
Marc Benioff:
She is one of the most special people and I keep her photo actually right there next to me and look at her every day.
What would she have me doing right now? I have a lot of really great Jane Goodall.
Guy Kawasaki:
Yes, she's truly remarkable.
So another proud moment for me was your stand on the Religious Freedom Act.
So with the space of a few years, what's your analysis? What did you learn from that entire episode?
Marc Benioff:
It was a scary moment in my life and a scary moment in my own personal development as a leader.
I'm born and raised in San Francisco. I'm a San Franciscan, fourth generation. I was born on Divisidero Street and we're the home of the Summer of Love and gay rights, and this is a city where people are free to be who they are and do what they want.
And that has gone in a lot of different directions for San Francisco over the years, but it's very much how I grew up. And I grew up in a house that was of a family committed to social justice. And my grandfather fought for what was right in the world, civically, in political office, and in his business.
And I would say that when I got a call from my head of operations in Indiana, and I don't think a lot of people know Salesforce is the largest tech company in Indiana and Indianapolis.
We are also the largest tech company in San Francisco that he said, "Hey, we got a problem here in Indiana because our governor's about to sign in a law into effect that's going to discriminate against the LGBTQ community."
And I said, "That's not going to happen. No one would do such a thing." And that was my San Francisco mindset talking. And in fact, in the next day or so, what happened is the governor did sign this law, and they called me back and they said, "Well, see, we were right and you were wrong."
And I was in a car on the way back from a dinner. I had a dinner in Palo Alto where you probably are right now, Guy. And I was at that Rosewood Hotel having some nice dinner with somebody and now I'm in the back of an Uber heading to my house in San Francisco.
And I just had my phone with me and I tweeted, "We're forced, based on the new law in Indiana, to reduce our investment in Indiana and to inform our employees and customers that this is no longer a center of investment and growth for Salesforce."
And I don't know if those were the exact words, but it was that kind of intention.
I went to sleep and I didn't realize until the next morning when I turned not CNN and CNBC and my tweet was on.
And I was like, “What have I done?” One glass of wine and a little San Francisco energy and I'm just telling people how I really feel. And we were in it. We were in it and my phone rang and this time it was Mike Pence, the Governor in Indiana, who I knew and who I like and is a friend of mine, and I said, "Hey Mike, how's it going?" He's like, "Marc, we need to talk about this." "What do we need to talk about?" "You're leaving Indiana? You're deinvesting? I have all kinds of other CEOs now calling me, telling us they're going to do the same thing. Marc, we need to talk about this." "Mike, I'm fully negotiable. Let's have a conversation."
And Mike and I had a nice talk about that, and I sent a team to Indianapolis to negotiate with his team. And within a couple of days, it was resolved and the law was changed and everything was behind us.
And I think we need a little bit more of that in our country right now. There's so much political division that we can't talk to each other, and we're not two football teams going down the field, a red team and a blue team and I'm cheering for one team or the other.
It's, we need to be one America and one United States. I actually think that the result of that law and the result of that situation was a great outcome and that we should all be looking at that as an example of how we can work more closely together.
Guy Kawasaki:
I'd say the slope of that curve certainly hasn't continued.
Marc Benioff:
Because there is two football teams on the field and they get very committed to... And by the way, there was a funny joke I made at the beginning that no one laughed at, but guy went to UCLA and I went to USC.
So we both love Los Angeles, different schools and there used to be a USC-UCLA game every year and there still is. And at this USC-UCLA game, it's exciting because it's two consciousnesses and two different universities playing against each other, two excellent schools and that is not how our country can operate, where we have to become so emotional during these games.
And I think that's how it is where we've turned our politics into two football teams. You're either for USC or you're for UCLA. And we have to find a middle way.
If you actually go and see how great our country is, and how our highest values and our highest principles, our highest levels that we've talked a lot on this call about entrepreneurship and one of the great things, it's kind of an amazing thing, but this is not true in most countries, Guy, is that I could just quit my job and start Salesforce and put some money in and hire some people and ask some friends of mine to give me a little more money and put it together in a bank account and get things going and put something out on the internet and start managing companies' data.
You think you can do that in every country? You cannot. You cannot. And in this country, not only is that legal, it's celebrated. It's encouraged.
It's something that you get a pat on the back for from Guy Kawasaki for doing, because I think that that is a big differentiator that we have, that we do have an ability to be free, the ability to have liberty, the ability to have a democracy, these high values.
We need to come back to those and realize this is what truly unites us. And some of these other issues, which are more tactical, more operational, they can divide us a little bit too easily. And when we become more divided than united, that's when we become a little bit more susceptible to the competition from these other countries, and that's not where we want to be.
We want to be at a position where we continue to assail as a great country in the world, because we have an important role to play. Everyone knows that.
I don't care what football team you're on. And we have a lot to do in our country. We've done a lot for the world. We have a lot more to do in the world and a moment like this where we need to improve the state of the world, the U.S. has the ability to do that. We can't lose sight of our ability to make our country great, but also the world great as well, and we have to do both.
Guy Kawasaki:
People have generally only heard one side of the story about the selling to the Customs and Border Protection controversy there. So give us the scoop on that.
Marc Benioff:
The U.S. Government has become a major customer of Salesforce, which has been a great thing for us.
And we have many parts of the U.S. Government who are customers of ours and that includes the U.S. Border Patrol and many other parts of the government, including the Veterans Administration, for example, or the GSA, or this kind of thing.
So all of a sudden, the previous administration, everything was amplified and everybody was on edge. And I think that we just saw there was just a very serious situation with the Customs and Border Patrol, everybody saw the situation that just occurred, and there wasn't a massive flare up like there was in the previous administration.
And I think that everybody forgets that when you agree to be a vendor to the U.S. Government, yes, they have to agree to be aligned with your terms and conditions. But look, this is a long-term customer of our company and we're not going to be making aggressive left and right turns down the road based on who's in office.
I want to get back to what I said earlier, because this is how I look at it. Presidents change, administrations change, our core values do not change.
We know who we are. We know what's right and wrong to us. And we have a very strong MSA in terms of conditions. And if you are agreeing to that, we're with you and we're not going to just make a change to one of our customers based on the current political situation.
Guy Kawasaki:
Switching gears a lot, what is the role of meditation in your life?
Marc Benioff:
Oh, well now, we're really going to go to a whole other place here.
I think meditation is something that has allowed me to keep everything in perspective, to help me to do what I just said, stay more aligned with not my corporate values, but my personal values.
In the world that we're in today, we get switched on, we're on our podcast, we're telling our stories, we're talking about the past, we're talking about the future.
Meditation gets us into the present moment. It helps us to reconnect to where we are right now in this moment, and that is very important for me because in my life, I have a lot coming at me.
I've got my texts coming at me. I've got my email coming at me. I've got my phone calls coming at me, my FaceTimes, my Zooms. I've got my Slacks coming at me. I've got my family coming at me, my friends. I've got a lot of things coming at me all the time.
And I want to just be able to all of a sudden integrate all that, know where I am, and move forward in an intentional way.
And I think the best way to do that is having mindfulness and meditation.
One of my mentors, we talked about Jane Goodall who's obviously an important mentor of mine, Colin Powell's an important mentor of mine. And I would say Thich Nhat Hanh is a mentor of mine. When he had a stroke recently, he moved in with me for six months with forty of his monastics, so it was an unusual moment.
And I learned even more about meditation and mindfulness and staying in the present moment and I think that this is a useful skill.
You may know, I think it's so important that on every floor of every building at Salesforce worldwide, whether you're in San Francisco, or New York, or Japan, or London, you'll find a Salesforce tower and if you go into the Salesforce towers and just look on any floor, you're going to find a meditation room.
And in that meditation room, you're going to find the ability, first of all, you're going to find a basket outside the room where you leave your phone, drop your phone in the basket, where you can sit for a half an hour in quiet, maybe listen to some music, maybe have nothing going on in the room and you can just breathe. Breathe in, and breathe out, and do nothing else, and let go and relax, and let go of all of the stress, and anxiety, and fear.
All the things are going on in the world that we're dealing with when we turn on the television or just looking at what's going on, on Twitter and it's like, I need to let it all go.
And I think that's the role of meditation. I think that meditation and mindfulness give us this opportunity to switch off. We know how to switch on. We know how to turn on. We need to be able to turn off and come back to the now.
And that's been an important part of my life and I tried to bring it into my company in a structured way as well.
Guy Kawasaki:
I don't want Nikki’s head to explode, so I'm going to ask you one last question because she's going to put a contract out on me.
Marc Benioff:
Oh no, poor Nikki.
Guy Kawasaki:
Not poor Nikki, poor Guy.
So my last question.
Marc Benioff:
Poor Guy.
Guy Kawasaki:
So the last question is there are going to be young people listening to this and arguably they would say, "I want to be like Marc. I want to be a billionaire. I want to create this amazing company. I want to be a philanthropist."
You're this great, not target, you're this great goal in the sky.
So what's your advice to the nineteen-year-old? What's your advice for them when they say, "I want to be like you, Marc."?
Marc Benioff:
That's powerful when I think about being a role model and I think about that to others and my responsibility. I think that my kuleana. Right, Guy? When I think about my kuleana, what I think about is something very simple, which is, I didn't start with any of those goals in mind. All I did was start with core values.
And I think what the most important thing is, is really start with what's really important to you. Just write down here are the five words that are really important to me. What is it? Is it God? Is it love? Is it trust? Is it health? Is it happiness? Is it generosity? Is it equality? Is it some charity? Is it integrity? What are the five or six words that really matter to you? And then really prioritize those five or six words. What are they in priority?
Is this more important than that? What's more important to you, trust or love? Love or health? Health or family? Family or integrity? Integrity or success? Generosity or enjoyment? What are the five or six words that are really important to you?
And one thing you cannot say that's part of this game and I learned this from Thich Nhat Hanh said, you can't say both. You can never use the word both. “These two are really important. They're equal.” You cannot do that. You must choose and you must prioritize.
And then if you get clear about those five or six values, and you prioritize those values, and then you operationalize those values, I guarantee you that when you come back to that, you do that every year, you come back ten or twenty years from now, you'll say, "Yeah, those are my values and that's who I am. This is actually who I am right now."
And as you make little lefts and right turns down the road because there's COVID here or there's this situation there, whatever it is, or maybe you might have a personal situation, or something else happens, you can always come back to your core values and say, "What's really important to me?"
And this can guide you and it can also take you in the way that mindfulness and meditation can bring you to the now, this is another way to do it. It can ground you in what's really important because the reality is number one, you need to know what you really want.
You need to know what's truly important to you. What do you really want? What's your vision? And then you have to get into that and set your values.
And we all know that Steve Jobs' values, especially for product, they were unique and they guided the company. But what are your values?
We've talked about a lot of different values even in this podcast. And then how do you get them? How do you operationalize your values? What action do you take for each one? And then, what is preventing you from having these values? What is preventing you from having trust? What is preventing you from having health? What's preventing you from having happiness? What's preventing you from having love or a relationship or the things that you truly want in your life? And ultimately, how will you have it?
Write it down. Draw a picture maybe. Say, "This is what it's going to look like when I have these five values." I guarantee you, I guarantee you, you write down those five words, you get clear about your values, you stay focused on that, that's where you're going to end up.
And that's the most important thing. Not about all those other things. It's about that. It's about really getting clear about what's truly important to you and you'll end up in a really amazing place.
Guy Kawasaki:
So end of the lesson, yeah.
Thank you so much.
And Marc, whenever I tell stories about you, the story I tell is that thirty-six years is after I did you a favor, you did me a favor, which is, first of all, you helped Mike Boich's son, and then you helped my son get interviews at Salesforce.
And it was literally thirty-six, thirty-five years later, and that has always stuck with me that you are a person who remembers your friends and that is not true of everyone, for sure.
I'm no Colin Powell, but I got my Marc Benioff off stories too.
Marc Benioff:
Well, you're my Colin Powell, Guy. And we do have good stories together, some that will never be spoken.
Guy Kawasaki:
So there you have it.
Marc Benioff, billionaire ten times over, philanthropist, CEO, founder, author, and someone with a very good memory who believes in reciprocation.
If you learn nothing else from this episode, remember this; Be good to your interns because they could be the next Marc Benioff.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People.
My thanks to Jeff Sieh, Peg Fitzpatrick, Shannon Hernandez, and to the young ones, Luis Magana, Alexis Nishimura and Madisun Nuismer.
If any of the three of them become the next Marc Benioff, you remember they got their start on The Remarkable People Podcast.
Until next time, Mahalo and Aloha.