Zuckerberg’s Focus; Microsoft’s Prediction; Aidan’s Best Advice; Dennis’s Daily Routine; Hiring Hint
January 8, 2016
Have you read these books? How Larry Page became a leader? The biggest danger?
January 19, 2016

Bad Advice; How to Get Straight A’s; Profit vs. Purpose; Blake Mycoskie’s Dilemma

"…insights for scaleups"


Bad Advice: Follow Your Passion — in this insight I want to explore the Passion, Purpose, Profit theme. Let's start with Cal Newport and his TED-like talk for 99u on why following your passion is bad advice – and why you should do what Steve Jobs did, not what he said. In essence, 95% of people don't have a passion when asked. Instead, because of something that happens, they start doing something else, and doing it well, they become passionate about it. So it's a chicken and egg question. Cal helps sort this out in his very insightful 21-minute talk. You can go right to 20:40 for his one-minute summary. I watched it with my children last weekend – insightful for them as well.

Cal Newport — a computer scientist at Georgetown, he's been using his skills to discover "patterns of success" and debunking lots of myths along the way. And he's written several books including How to Become a Straight-A Student (should be of interest to college students); So Good They Can't Ignore You (love this title); and his latest which published last week titled Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This guy is good and his work is catching the attention of a lot of people.

How to Focus Deeply to Become Good at Something (then Passionate) Cal addresses this toward the end of his talk, just before the summary. You start with a short amount of time – say 15 minutes each day – then move it to 20 minutes – then 30 minutes (10 times) – then 40 minutes. It's an acquired skill/taste! Ultimately you can get to Olympic gold status where you're focused two to three hours deeply – like Jobs did when figuring out Apple's retail concept – and John Grisham does writing books – but you can't start there. Start by taking 20 minutes and watching his talk.

Purpose vs. Profit — the purpose/passion thing is great, but what about profits. How do you link the two in the minds of your people? Rick Crossland tackled this subject in his article for Fortune. One of my favorite paragraphs:

Our employees are not taught that a net profit margin of 10% of revenue or more is needed to generate the very elements of prosperity they want: things like a strong mission and purpose, accomplishing social good, raises, promotions, bonuses, profit sharing, capital investments, hiring more employees, and more. We talk about profits, but a sustainable benchmark that needs to be achieved to sustain the company purpose is rarely shared nor understood with the entire team. I am often asked why this isn't taught. And while I don't actually know the reason, I can tell you it's an education that needs to begin ASAP.

Take 2 minutes to scan down through Rick's excellent article (the Fortune team has asked him to write more!) – then explain to your team that healthy profits are needed to fulfill important purposes – again, a chicken and egg question. FYI, Rick is one of our Gazelles Certified Coach partners. Thanks Rick.

Tom's Re-imagining Purpose/Mission — and I'll wrap up with this latest HBR article where Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom's Shoes, describes how after he took the company from startup to $300 million in six years, he became disillusioned. Note's Blake, "My days were monotonous, and I had lost my connection to many of the executives who were running daily operations. What had once been my reason for being now felt like a job." So he took a sabbatical away from the company for several months – and during that time he rediscovered his passion/purpose for Tom's – to make it a movement again! My favorite paragraph:

I'd started and sold companies before – but TOMS was different. It was more than a company to me: It was my life. So this period of uncertainty felt like having problems in a marriage. You thought you'd found your business soul mate, but you're not in love anymore. What do you do? For me, the sabbatical was like going into couples counseling. I wasn't walking away; I was putting in the work to see if TOMS and I could reconcile. If it had been a pure business problem, I would have organized a strategic offsite. But this was both corporate and personal. I needed to figure out the future course of the company and my role in it. And I tend to do my best thinking alone.

Read the rest of the article to see the specific decisions Blake made and why he's excited for the next ten years!

Steelers/Bengalsfor those of you into American football, you know what happened last Sunday between the Steelers/Bengals. Noted John Ratliff in an email to me, "the Bengals Steelers game was an excellent example of how high performers that don't fit the culture are the most dangerous. They get put in spots where they can have an impact due to their talent but their lack of cultural alignment magnifies the impacts when it's negative." Period!

Super Bowl Weekend Event — John Ratliff scaled his company through a series of 24 acquisitions; increased its earnings from an industry average 4% to over 21%; and drove down employee turnover from 115% to 18%. And when he sold the business, he received 14 times EBITDA. A serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor and Managing Director with investment bank STS Capital Partners, John is hosting an exclusive Super Bowl Weekend event at The Retreat in Marathon Key (ONE SEAT LEFT), Florida February 4 – 8, 2016 – it's an executive paradise.


Have you ever wondered if your company would be a good candidate to work with an executive growth coach? Click here to watch Gazelles International President Keith Cupp describes the four most important attributes of successful clients.


Align Software puts everyone on the Same Page – Literally! See, in real time every person in your organization and how they are progress on their priorities – alongside how these Align to the Company Priorities! Scale Up your Rockefeller Habits implementation with www.aligntoday.com on your computer and on your phone.

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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.