Jan, 2017

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

The Big Idea: the purpose of life (and business) is happiness, not money.

  1. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and yourself.
  2. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.
  3. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world.
  4. Never do anything just for the money.
  5. Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.
  6. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.
  7. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
  8. Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people.
  9. You can’t please everyone,
  10. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.
  11. The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
  12. The best plans start simple.
  13. If you’re not saying, “Hell, yeah!” about something, say no.
  14. The way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers.
  15. Ideas are just a multiplier of execution.
  16. Care more about your customers (and employees) than about yourself.
  17. Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake.
  18. When you delegate, trust but verify.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Big Idea: 

Chapter 1: Good is the Enemy of Great

  • Good to Great companies always had Level 5 Leaders.
  • Recruit the right people before choosing a direction/mission/vision/strategy.
  • Confront the brutal truth and move forward anyways.
  • Stick to your core.
  • Create a culture of discipline.
  • Use technology as an accelerator of existing greatness.
  • Focus on small, continuous progress, not grand transformations.

Chapter 2: Level 5 Leadership

  • Level 5 leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
  • Level 5 leaders put their company and their team before themselves.
  • Level 5 leaders are fanatical about results, not credit.
  • Level 5 leaders come from within the company, not from outside.
  • Level 5 leaders display workmanlike diligence, not celebrity charisma.

Chapter 3: First Who…Then What

  • Hold out for the best talent.  Don’t lower your hiring standards.
  • Hire slow, fire fast.  Then strive to zero turnover.
  • Don’t rely on one genius leader.  Have lots of great minds on board.
  • There is no right answer for how to structure executive compensation.  Just make sure it makes sense. The right people will deliver the best results, regardless of the compensation structure.
  • You can create an environment that attracts the best people, but no compensation structure will turn poor performers into rock stars.
  • Hire for attitude and character than for specific knowledge and skills.
  • The best companies build great teams.  They don’t work their people to the bone.

Chapter 4: Confront the Brutal Facts

  • Don’t be afraid to look at the brutal facts.
  • Create a culture that embraces truth and honesty.
  • Ask a lot of question and engage in open dialogue.
  • When something doesn’t work, take responsibility, figure out why but don’t blame others.
  • Pay attention to key metrics so you know early when something is wrong.
  • Regardless of the situation, have unwavering faith that the team will find a way to succeed.
  • The three circles are: what are you deeply passionate about? What can you be the best in the world at?  What drives your economic engine?

Chapter 5: The Hedgehog Concept

  • Focus on the essentials and ignore the rest.
  • You will success if you can identify one simple concept that is good and execute it fanatically.
  • Eg. Walgreens key metric: profit per customer visit; Wells Fargo had profit per employee; Fannie Mae had profit per unit of risk; Kroger had profit per local population.
  • Everyone has strategic plans, but the good-to-great companies are more likely to be based around a simple idea.
  • Three key questions that define the hedgehog concept: what are you deeply passionate about, what can you be the best in the world, what drives your economic engine?
  • Don’t focus on mindless pursuit of growth. Focus on your core business, defined by your hedgehog concept.

Chapter 6: A Culture of Discipline

  • Startups often fail because they hire too many new people, acquire too many new customers, launch too many new products.
  • Things become too complex and problems start to surface.
  • Fast-growing startups will hire professional managers to reign in the mess, but also kill the entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Instead of installing bureaucracy to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, hire the right people in the first place.
  • Avoid bureaucracy and hierarchy and instead create a culture of discipline.
  • Build a culture around the idea of freedom and responsibility, within a framework.
  • Fill that culture with self-disciplined people who are willing to go to extreme lengths to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • Create a stop-doing list and focus on the hedgehog concept.
  • Develop a system and manage the system.  Don’t manage the people.
  • Culture beats great individual leadership.
  • A culture of discipline prevents you from expanding outside of your core.
  • A culture of discipline prevents you from an inflated overhead and layers of waste.

Chapter 7: Technology Accelerators

  • Be selective about which technologies you adopt.
  • Make sure your technology supports your hedgehog concept.
  • Technology by itself is never the primary cause of success or failure.
  • Reliance on technology can give you a false sense of invulnerability.

Chapter 8: The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

  • Success is an organic, cumulative process.  It never happens overnight.
  • Success takes patience and discipline.
  • Focus on continuous, incremental improvement, not miraculous transformations.
  • Once there is visible progress, keep the momentum going.  It is infectious.

Chapter 9: From Good to Great to Built to Last

  • The central concept of Built to Last: discover your core values and purpose beyond just making money (core ideology) and combine this with the dynamic of preserve the core/stimulate progress.
  • Hewlett Packard started with “who” before ever deciding what they would build (“what”.)
  • Walmart had taken 25 years to get to 38 stores, patiently defining their hedgehog concept.
  • Profits and cash flow are like blood and water.  They are necessary for life, but they are not the purpose of living.
  • Built To Last 1. Clock Building not Time Telling: culture and systems > single great leader/idea
  • Built to Last 2. Genius of AND: purpose AND profit, continuity AND change
  • Built to Last 3. Core Ideology: core values and purpose
  • Built to Last 4. Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress: (except for core values) constant change, innovation, experimentation