So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Week 1 Summary/Week 2 Reading List

Deliverables:

Profit and Loss Statement for NextDrop:  Done

2012 Cash Flow Projections: Done

About 10% of the way into the Steve Martin book, I realized that I didn’t want to be reading it.  I thought that maybe I could glean some more details than what the Study Hacks post had talked about but…I wasn’t a huge fan of his writing style.  I think it also has something to do with the fact I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of Steve Martin in the first place (blasphemous I know) so I decided to ditch the book.  I don’t believe in finishing books that I’m not that into.

The other book, by Marshall Gold was absolutely fantastic, but the review deserves its own blog post because there was so much good stuff in there.  Its also one of those books which I think could be reread a few years later, and you would pick up new things.

So basically, I figured I would summarize the relevant articles from this months’ Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review Value of Happiness Takeaways:

“Be Happy.  Be Audacious.”  Well said.

How Leaders Spark And Sustain Change:

“You should view, replay, direct, and edit your behavior continuously.”  Self explanatory, but I think it’s something I want to implement.  I think it really just takes discipline, but at least I know its something that is very important

“What is my definition of success?  What is the unique contribution I’m here to make? What legacy do I want to create?  As you explore these types of questions, you will reignite your fire.”  I think this is a great exercise for employees/potential new hires to see what really gets them motivated, and to make sure we’re a good fit.

Social Strategies That Work:

“[it’s] the difference between teaching a class and hosting a party. In both all the participants are in the same room, but the dynamic could not be more different.  In the classroom the teacher (the brand) dominates the conversation, and the flow is hub and spoke….At the party the guests (customers and prospects) may or may not interact directly with the host…But since most of the guests know and like the host, when the discussion touches on the host, it’s likely to be favorable.”  Describing how to utilize social networking etc..to build your brand

How Great Companies Think Differently:

“Top leaders exemplify and communicate the company’s purpose and values, but everyone owns them, and the values become embedded in tasks, goals and performance standards.”

Gilt Groupe’s CEO on Building a Team of A Players:

“It’s not the idea- it’s the people.  Execution is what matters, and execution relies on human talent.”

“Ask the CEO if he or she spends on recruiting and managing people than on any other activity.  For me, the answer has always been yes.”  I think this article was great because it talked about how much time Gilt’s CEO spends on hiring people.  It made me realize it’s something I’m allowed to spend significant time on.

“I am evaluating talent all the time.”  Check- always at the back of your mind- do I want this person working for me?

“Two, no matter how well you think you know your organization, if you suspect something’s wrong, it’s probably worse than you imagine. You can’t let those situations continue.” Follow your gut and do something about it right away

“The essential traits I look for are success and passion.”  Good rule of thumb for recruiting

“I gave it simply: ‘Don’t hire him.’ When you check references, you want to have a conversation as frank as that.  It can take real effort to find someone who’ll be straight with you, but it’s worth it.”  Apparently, the main things to look for are personal interview, and then having a frank discussion with at least 3 people who you can have a frank discussion with about the new recruit.  This may take digging through LinkedIn, or have a friend connect you and have a frank discussion, but this is an often overlooked portion of recruitment which we should take seriously.

“Have you ever heard someone say, ‘I just got offered a job.  The person I’ll be working for isn’t very impressive, but I’m going to take it anyway”?  That’s not something talented people generally do.”  Well said.

How Kevin Ryan Checks References:

  1. “Would you hire this person again? If so, why and in what capacity? If not, why not?”
  2. “How would you describe the candidate’s ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done, influence others?”
  3. In what type of culture, environment, and role can you see this person excelling? In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful?”
  4. Would you describe this person as a leader?”
  5. “Do people enjoy working with the candidate, and would former coworkers want to work with him or her again?”
  6. “What areas does the candidate need to improve”

Double Down on Start-Ups

“75% of funds made no money.” Really interesting- who knew?

“Learn Patience. Real Progress takes time- and the discipline to refrain from exiting at the first sign of success.  Mark Zuckerberg held fast to his belief that Facebook should remain private and focus on growth rather than a quick sale, and as a result the company created $70 billion in value it never would have seen if it had been sold early.  And if Amazon had succumbed to the shorsighted scrutiny that followed its IPO, it might never have become the Walmart of the web.  Meanwhile, companies like Myspace, in their rush to find an exit for investors, ended up leaving the stage entirely.” Again, well said and really good to remember.

“Clones and other bagatelles require tantalizingly little investment to demonstrate short term value, but that just proves how simple- and generally irrelevant- the problems they solve are.”  We probably knew that, but it’s nice when someone else says it.

How the Growth Outliers Do It

“On the one hand, they’re built for innovation.  They enter new markets before competitors do; they’re good at experimentation; they hold everyone accountable for new ideas; and they can move on a dime.  On the other hand, they’re extremely stable.  Chief executives have come up through the company; strategy and organizational structure stay consistent for long stretches; client retention is unusually high; and the corporate culture is strong and unchanging.”  This is NextDrop, or what  we should aim for.

When One Business Model Isn’t Enough:

“A company that recognizes which models are substitues that must be kept separate and which are complements that strengthen each other can build a uniquely sustainable competitive advantage.”  Case study of LAN was really compelling.

Wielding Digital Influence:

” To build an effective online network, you need to focus, as Shah does, on three things: reputation, specialization, and network position.  As in the real world, reputation is currency- it’s how you get people you’ve never met to seek you out, give you information, and collaborate with you.  In the virtual world you build your reputation by offering interesting content, drawing attention to your web presence, and motivating others to circulate and act on your ideas.”  Good advice- hopefully we’ll get to try that out.

“Specialization involves demonstrating deep knowledge, establishing links with other experts both inside and outside your organization, committing to learn from them, and being willing to offer relevant information and referrals to others.”  Good definition for reference.

Week 2 Reading List:

I think realistically, I’ll only be able to get through 1 book a week (if that).  But lets be optimistic here.  My book of the week is (drumroll please):

How to Be Like Mike: Life Lessons about Basketball’s Best:  Pat Williams

Did I mention I also bought a classic Air Jordan poster and it’s up in my room in India?  Yeah. I stare at it every morning when I  get up.  It’s actually really awesome.  I’ve never been into Michael Jordan, but I saw the poster at the mall, and for some reason I bought it.  And then I decided to read about his life this week because lets face it- the man is a legend.  Maybe there’s something I can learn from him.

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