"…keeping you great"
Warren Buffett's Letter
— his annual letter to shareholders is out and
Australian-based SmartCompany's online newsletter (I'm here for our Growth
Summit in Sydney) has the best summary – "10 Nuggets of Wisdom."
Take 3 minutes to read through the list, including why he's buying up local
newspapers; and here's
a link to the full letter – always worth 10 minutes to scan through for
great investment, economic, and business insights.
Heinz's Purchase — some think Buffett overpaid for Heinz. However, Buffett
notes, "More than 50 years ago, Charlie told me that it was far better to buy a
wonderful business at a fair price than to buy a fair business at a wonderful
price." Plus Buffett always negotiates plenty of cheap warrants as part of the
deal that end up making him a lot of money down the road.
Horowitz on World-Class Teams
— "As CEO, you know that you cannot build a world-class company unless you
maintain a world-class team. But how do you know if an executive is world-class?
Beyond that, if she was world-class when you hired her, will she stay
world-class? If she doesn't, will she become world-class again?" These are the
opening questions of Ben Horowitz' latest blog entitled "Staying Great."
This is one worth taking 3 minutes to read.
#1 Way Execs Fail
— Horowitz laments that CEOs have very little opportunity
to develop their immediate team – they must come 99% ready to perform (not so
for middle management, they must be developed). He goes on to note, "when the
company doubles in size, (you have) a new job. This means that doing things that
made you successful in your old job will not necessarily translate to success in
the new job. In fact, the No. 1 way that executives fail is by continuing to do
their old job rather than moving on to their new job…and failing to keep up
with the changes in the business."
You Must Remove Them — and the toughest situation is where an executive has
helped grow the company 10x but is not able to run the new behemoth they
created. Concludes Horowitz "your loyalty must go to your employees — the
people who report to your executives. Your engineers, marketing people, sales
people, finance and HR people who are doing the work. You owe them a world-class
management team. That's the priority."
Automated Daily Huddles — Alan Rudy, President, MedBridge Home Medical, has 10
locations across the US and needs to have daily operational huddle calls in
various groupings. Before deploying a new automated calling system called
IfbyPhone, the normal challenges of someone being 4 minutes late would waste a
dozen people's time (almost an hour of productivity).
— Instead, at an appointed time each day, IfbyPhone calls
everyone. No more remembering dial-in numbers or access codes. Alan has both his
cell phone and desk phone programmed in and if away from both phones, he can
simply call from another phone and punch in his cell phone number to be
connected. Notes Rudy "Time and again I might have a conference call at 11:05am,
look at my clock at 11:01am and think 'I have time to answer one more email'
only to mentally wake up at 11:09am. Or I'm running through an airport and
simply forget to call in."
Save Money with Attorneys — Rudy also uses the service for ad hoc conference calls,
especially with attorneys who bill by the minute. One avoided 10 minute delay on
a conference call with an attorney and his 3 associates can pay for the service
for a month!
CAVEAT — Not 100% Reliable
— concludes Rudy, "About once a month, it does not launch a call. Not sure why.
Cool thing is, my assistant can go on line and launch it again right then. It is
all set up on line. And it is virtually impossible to ever talk to anyone at the
ifbyphone company. One irritating item is calls can only happen at 5 minute
increments, so we can't have a huddle at 11:07, for example, only at 11:05 or
11:10am. I have not found another service to provide this outbound call, but
would love to hear of another. We have about 7 standing huddles every day (range
5-14 people) throughout the company that use this service (the others happen
just in a single location, so they are standup huddles and no need for a call),
along with ad hoc conference calls. Our cost is about $250/month. Well worth