Clever KPI; Not China’s Century; BAG Meeting; FatWallet Forced to Move
July 7, 2011
Top 3 Motivators; Quiznos and Burger King One-Page Plans; Nine Lessons for Children
July 19, 2011

Branson’s Life Lesson; Global Huddle Drive Results; Dead Goes Flamenco; Microsoft on Fire

"…keeping you great"


Richard Branson's Most Important Life Lesson — this and other pearls of Sir Richard wisdom below, but first…

Grateful Dead Goes Flamenco — for you Flamenco guitar fans and/or Deadheads, David Meerman Scott (New Rules of Marketing and PR) teamed up with Juanito Pascual, the famous flamenco guitarist who has been entertaining us at the Fortune Summits, and produced a show featuring Juanito's quintet playing Grateful Dead music – they are calling it DeadMenco — it's worth a quick listen while reading the rest of this insight.

Global Huddle Drives Record Quarter — Mark Hamill, Global Managing Director of SpenglerFox, huddles on the phone 60 minutes every week with 12 GMs globally from Moscow to Dubai and from London to Istanbul. They rotate among three topics: one week they focus on 90 day priorities; the next week on Client Insights; and the third week on Competitor Insights (novel approach). Notes Hamill, "Our Q1 this year, April-June, since we kicked off the Huddles has elevated our Q1 performance vs. budget @ +25% on revenue and +100% on profit, and that is coming off a very strong Q4."

So Much Juice — continues Hamill, "I have to say the hour with the whole team on a global conference call is the highlight of my week and we get so much juice out of the calls, it's energising and inspiring…and critical for me to get the rhythm and discipline I need to keep us on a gazelle-like trajectory. Thanks for all the guidance so far!" Mark, congrats on a record quarter!

When to Schedule the Daily Huddle — speaking of huddles, I received this note from Liz Wiseman (author of Multipliers), "While at the RELC meeting in Fiji (Liz and I both keynoted their event last week), I heard someone say that they changed the time of their daily huddle from 8am to 10am to raving support from the women. They found that many of the female agents were stressed trying to negotiate children's school drops offs and get into the office. People were skeptical at first, thinking the daily huddles had to be first thing, but they found that they got such overwhelming appreciation from the women that it was a huge win." If I ever implied the daily huddle had to be first thing in the morning, I apologize. Schedule it for whenever it is best for the team!

Microsoft On Fire — speaking again at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) this week, I had the opportunity to see under the tent all that's new with Microsoft. Last year I was concerned about the direction of the company and could understand why critics were questioning Steve Ballmer's leadership. This year was totally different. Their "all in" strategy with cloud computing is paying off resulting in double digit growth – a "gazelle" once again.

What's Working at Microsoft — Office 365 is hot; Dynamic CRM is pounding; Windows 7 is experiencing record growth; Xbox is #1 with Kinect and will offer online TV this Christmas; Bing has an improved approached to search vs. Google; they are #1 in databases, putting huge pressure on Oracle (just announced a layoff of 10,000); their ERP product is the best I've seen; and the Windows phone with Nokia is impressive. $9.5 billion in R&D this past year, the most of any company in the world (according to Microsoft – I know that's equivalent to GE's), has not been wasted. One additional advantage — many of their best Partners are becoming Rockefeller Habits practitioners – and why we're at the WPC Conference again this year.

Richard Branson — Sir Richard was Microsoft's brilliant guest keynote speaker (another smart decision by Microsoft). Branson's advice included (and stories I had not heard or read before):

1.        Approach to life — "Screw it, let's do it." But you also have to be quite strict about cutting your losses and saving your money for the next venture.

2.        Most important life lesson — "Forgive your enemies, the world is too small." After beating British Air in a nasty court case, he invited the head of British Air out to lunch and made him a friend.

3.        On taking risk — "Never bet the farm; always protect your downside." When he launched Virgin Air, Boeing agreed to take back the airplane he purchased after one year if the business didn't work. This limited his liability to half of Virgin Records' profits, something he could live with.

4.        Women in the workplace — "Be more accommodating – job sharing, part-time positions, unpaid leave…and job sharing creates more jobs and is good for people and the company." An important message for Microsoft to hear!

5.        Small is beautiful — "When we have 100 people in the company…we'll split the company into two. When we had our record company division, we actually had 20 separate record companies in 20 separate buildings with 20 separate brands…then those people could feel their success directly."

6.        Next 15 years — "Africa is a huge opportunity." He was heading back down there right after his keynote.

7.   His hobbies — "Stop eating shark fin soup." Branson is always trying to make a difference – this comment from his efforts to protect endangered species, one of his latest hobbies


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.