Different Brownies; Better is Bad; Unique is Unstoppable; Culture Award
June 14, 2019
5 Best Business Books
August 5, 2019

Gates’ Biggest Mistake; Best Article 2019; Jack Nicklaus Example; Reverse Bucket List

Hello ScaleUps, 

Hope it’s been a productive and purposeful week. Here are some insights/opportunities to help you outlearn/outthink the competition.

…it just all came back in how to play
  Jack Nicklaus, miraculous Masters win in 1986

Best Article of 2019, So Far —
Titled “Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think: Here’s how to make the most of it,” this epic Atlantic (July) article by the brilliant Arthur Brooks might be the most important article you read in 2019. Grab your favorite beverage this weekend and take 20 minutes to absorb his ideas as you navigate your own professional career. In short, innovate then mentor/coach/teach. More below, but first…

Bill Gates Biggest Mistake —
Sitting at over $1 trillion in market cap the past few weeks, it’s impressive that Microsoft is leading its younger rivals – Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, etc. And Microsoft would be even further ahead if Bill Gates hadn’t made one huge mistake, according to himself. This CNN Business piece details that mistake and what caused it – lessons for all of us (danger of distractions, wrong team, etc.).

Mythical “Head of Marketing” —
The CEO is the default “head of marketing” and not understanding this can put your designated CMO at a huge disadvantage. Marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog post last week is the finest explanation of this conundrum and what you must do about it – and he suggests a more accurate title might be “head of marketing operations.” All CEOs and CMOs please read Seth’s insightful thoughts on this important topic. Then sign up for his daily blog.

Jack Nicklaus, The Bear —

Last week I shared the stage with golf legend Jack Nicklaus at the Bloomberg CEO Summit and then had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with “The Bear.” I want to come back to some powerful insights he shared, but first let me revert back to the Brooks article I referenced above which will provide important context.  

Professional Decline —
Notes Arthur Brooks in The Atlantic article, “The data are shockingly clear that for most people, in most fields, professional decline starts earlier than almost anyone thinks.” Clearly this happens with professional sports figures, like Jack Nicklaus, who felt extremely lucky to win a major after age 40. What ultimately depresses people as they get older is the feeling of becoming irrelevant. So what’s happening that causes this decline and how to remain relevant?

Fluid vs. Crystallized Intelligence (Two Best Paragraphs) —
Brooks explains, “A potential answer lies in the work of the British psychologist Raymond Cattell, who in the early 1940s introduced the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence. Cattell defined fluid intelligence as the ability to reason, analyze, and solve novel problems-what we commonly think of as raw intellectual horsepower. Innovators typically have an abundance of fluid intelligence. It is highest relatively early in adulthood and diminishes starting in one’s 30s and 40s. This is why tech entrepreneurs, for instance, do so well so early, and why older people have a much harder time innovating.

Crystallized Intelligence —
Brooks continues, “Crystallized intelligence, in contrast, is the ability to use knowledge gained in the past. Think of it as possessing a vast library and understanding how to use it. It is the essence of wisdom. Because crystallized intelligence relies on an accumulating stock of knowledge, it tends to increase through one’s 40s, and does not diminish until very late in life.”  This is why non-fiction writers – especially historians – peak much later than novelists!

Be Johann Sebastian Bach, not Charles Darwin —
So, what is the gist of the article? The key to remaining relevant is to pivot from doing to teaching. In Bach’s case, he spent the last 10 years of his life writing a book on how to create fugues – The Art of Fugue — long after his ability to compose fugues had declined. In turn, Charles Darwin tried to continue to remain a relevant researcher and ended up deeply depressed the later years of his life. For Brooks, he’s taking his own advice and has resigned as President of the prestigious think-tank American Enterprise Institute just as this article was published — and is going into teaching.

Serve, Worship, Connect —
Which brings me back to Jack Nicklaus. For a brief moment in 1986 Jack’s body “remembered how to play golf” on the back 9 of the final round of the Masters. Coming from four strokes back and winning by one-stroke, it’s arguably the greatest comeback in the game of golf. But more importantly, Jack kept it all in perspective, pivoting to designing golf courses and then spending the bulk of his life “in service.” As Brooks suggests, we need a “reverse bucket list” as we age, taking things off our plate instead of putting more on. To that point, Nicklaus is auctioning off his famed Rolex watch which he’s worn for 50 years. Expected to fetch tens of millions of dollars, all the proceeds will be donated to the children’s hospital Jack and his wife have supported for years. And Jack was at the Bloomberg CEO Summit to give back to all of us – to teach us what it means to age gracefully in our unique profession. Thank you Brooks for a beautifully written article; thank you Nicklaus for your sage example; and thank you Nathan Gray, one of my sensei’s as co-founder of Geoversity, who pointed me to this important article.

Watch 20-Minute Keynote Bloomberg CEO Summit —
And for those interested, here’s a link to my keynote at the Bloomberg event – some new material focused around the critical topic of talent.

CEO-BOOTCAMP: spend 3.5 days with Verne, serial entrepreneur John Ratliff, and 6 other CEOs in a beautiful retreat setting, addressing the constraints holding back you, your business, and your industry. Aug 20 – 23, 2019 (Sold Out); Jan 14 – 17; Jan 21 – 24, 2020.

EXITING: Thinking about selling the business for $40 million or more? Want to get 25% to 200% more than you thought? Request the whitepaper from the Exit Strategies Summit at Harvard from Denise Richmond at (610) 299-6466 or email at [email protected]   

WRITE AND PUBLISH A BOOK to Grow Your Business and be THE Authority in your space. My publisher and friend Adam Witty at ForbesBooks has streamlined the process. forbesbooks.com/scalingup  for more information and to take their Authority Assessment


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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.