Bob Parsons, Youngme Moon, Dan Pink, Sally Hogshead, Todd Klein — high points
October 27, 2011
George Clooney; Best Website; Entrepreneur Rally; Martha Stewart
November 10, 2011

Amazing Adventure; 5 Key Books; Critical KPI; 8 Traits of Transformative Companies

"…keeping you great"


When you love something it tells you all its secrets.
  Bob Parsons, Founder of GoDaddy
  FORTUNE Growth Summit

Amazing Adventure — apply to be one of only 8 CEOs for this Jan 28 – Feb 4 executive excursion (filmed documentary), more below… but first:

5 Important Books — my latest FORTUNE column is on the newsstands and online, highlighting five important 2011 books and what you'll learn from each. They are 5 books you might not have heard about, as opposed to the three biggies out this fall (Jobs biography, Collins latest, and Reichheld's updated Ultimate Question 2.0). BTW, a link to the column is something you might twitter or react to in a blog – gives you something to write about to build your own brand.

Your Favorite Books — and please go to the online FORTUNE column and suggest your recent favorite books in the "comment" section – or comment on the books I've listed. Let's make this a social thread of great business books from the past year or two from which we can all benefit i.e. one of the comments has already turned me onto a book I've not yet read, but it looks excellent.

8 Traits of Transformative Companies — Todd Klein, VC behind the fastest growing company in the US last year, Ideeli, and head of YPO's Venture group, is also author of Built for Change (2011 release). Todd, our other celebrity CEO at the Growth Summit in addition to Bob Parsons, shared 8 traits of companies not just reacting to the future, but creating the future (criteria he uses for investing): fearlessness, irreverence, detachment, process, banishing small thinking, reinvention, universality, and appetite for destruction. Grab a copy of his book and make sure you have all eight traits represented in your business.

Critical KPI, Labor Productivity — Greg Crabtree, author of Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!, suggests it's important to track labor productivity defined as gross margin divided by labor cost (total payroll). I agree!! Since payroll is one of your biggest expenses, you need to see if you're getting the best bang for your buck. Then use this number for deciding when to hire i.e. hire down to a certain ratio, then drive the company up to a higher ratio, then hire back down, then drive hard back up a little higher than before and keep repeating while slowly improving labor productivity through methods like LEAN and focusing on STRENGTHs. Greg's book has lots of other practical accounting ideas – have your CFO pickup a copy.

End of Sales Commissions — and this from Justin Roff-Marsh, author of The Machine, a book on sales process improvement. He has a free chapter from his book on the topic of sales commissions. Dan Pink unleashed a raging discussion on the topic at the Fortune Growth Summit and Justin, who feels the same as Dan, was swamped at his book table in the back of the room. Here's a link to his thoughts on the topic and a place to get the free chapter.

Green Lake, WI — does anyone own a home on Green Lake in Wisconsin?

Amazing Adventure — entitled Mother Nature, CEO: What nature has to teach us about innovation, leadership, and success, this transcontinental leadership, hike and kayak expedition will take place in Panama, January 28th to February 4th, 2012. Marketing guru David Meerman Scott is one of the distinguished faculty members along with leading scientists, musicians, and naturalists. Notes Nathan Gray, host of the excursion:

  • There are only 8 openings for participants. We're looking for 8 accomplished and articulate individuals who have a passion for enquiry and adventure. Our invite is a casting call for intrepid explorers.
  • We will be video documenting our time together – we'll even have a young film maker with National Geographic credits using a waterproof camera to cover our kayak trip from the Continental Divide to the Kuna Caribbean coast. You'll be asked to sign a release, though you'll have veto power on final edits. We want all of us to act naturally, confident that no embarrassing moments will appear in the final edits.
  • You need to be in good physical shape, though no prior kayaking experience is required. Despite the impressions created by the white water photos on the Earth Train website, the river you will be descending isn't difficult. The river trip isn't about white-knuckle excitement, rather it's about experiencing the majesty and subtleties of a remote tropical biome with a group of accomplished leaders.

Celebrating the World Series — I opened the FORTUNE Growth Summit with the quote below – seems to be the key to accomplishing almost anything in life – hope to see all of you in Atlanta May 15 – 16 for our next FORTUNE Leadership Summit featuring four hours with Jim Collins – please mark your calendars.

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.
  Sam Ewing, Major League Baseball Player
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.