"…keeping you great"
HEADLINES: (big FORTUNE week)
Singapore and Sydney — back on the road next week with an updated workshop, tools, and Growth Summit. More below, but first…
Ben Horowitz Book! — besides donning the cover of FORTUNE this week, my favorite blogger and biz sage, Ben Horowitz (also successful entrepreneur and cofounder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz) released his first book Tuesday entitled The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Just read everything Ben writes – get the book NOW and enjoy – or at least look at all the reasons why you should on the Amazon site for his book. I'm working hard to get him to keynote a Summit!!
Congratulations Roger Hardy — …and the team at Coastal Contacts (GazellesPro member). They just sold the company for C$430 million last Thursday to a French firm, representing a 50% premium over their recent three month average stock price. This is the largest ecommerce deal in Canadian history. Started in 2000 in Roger's basement, Coastal today has 750 employees worldwide. For more details, along with a reporting of Roger's stake in the deal (everyone wants to know), see this Globe and Mail report. What I love is that Roger's sister did great in the deal as well – always fun when family can benefit along the way. Roger promises to come to the Growth Summit and give us an update.
Five Ways to Protect Your Ideas — my latest FORTUNE column is on the newsstands and online. With 88% of company value now tied to intellectual property, many biz owners are asleep at the wheel when it comes to properly protecting and defending this critical asset – from employee contracts to trademarks to patents. And I'm convinced that patents/company is one of the most important KPIs of the 21st Century. All firms have patentable processes, products, etc. – and ignorance doesn't count when you find you've accidentally violated someone else's patent. We'll have someone at the fall Growth Summit discuss filing provisional patents, a process recently made easier by the patent office. Take 1 minute to scan the five quick hints.
World's Most Admired Companies — FORTUNE's latest list is out. Apple is #1 (seventh year in a row), followed by Amazon, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, and GE. For short snapshots on each of the companies (biz info we should all know as biz leaders), take 7 minutes to click through the top 50 or 2 minutes for at least the Top 10. Fun facts: Apple is also the most valuable brand; Google's revenue grew 22% last year, still a "gazelle;" Berkshire's stock rose 26%; and Coca-Cola is investing $4 billion in China and looking at a home soda machine.
Buffett's Annual Letter (read page 6) — speaking of Berkshire Hathaway (and Coca-Cola — The 9.1 percent that Berkshire owns is worth $16.5 billion, up from an original cost of $1.3 billion of the 400 million split-adjusted shares purchased from 1987 to the mid-1990s – nice profit), Warren Buffett's annual letter was released last Saturday. Edited each year by FORTUNE's Carol Loomis, Berkshire has had five years of results lagging the market, but he's a patient investor. This is his main message this year. And he's still tracking a lifetime average return twice that of the market – 19.7% per annum vs. 9.8% over the past 49 years – and reminded readers that they've only trailed the market in 10 of the 49 years "with all but one of our shortfalls occurring when the S&P gain exceeded 15%," notes Buffett. It's always worth a read, but at least read the last half of page 6 of the letter. And his major business lessons were summarized in the FORTUNE excerpt I pointed to last week. These reading hints will save you some time and still keep you current on Buffett's sage wisdom.
Start with Smaller Goals — my alma mater Wichita State University, just finished the regular college basketball season with a perfect record 31-0 and ranked 2nd in the US. The key, according to their coach Gregg Marshall, was breaking the feat into smaller goals – first, to achieve 10-0, which would be their best start; then 20-0; then 29-0 since the B-29 was built in Wichita during the war. Then 30-0 would be their best school record in the regular season. Then last game, 31-0 would be the only team in history to go undefeated in a regular season with this many games. Let's see if they can keep their winning streak alive into the NCAA tournament. Go Shockers!!
Singapore and Sydney — March 11 full day workshop in Singapore; then down to Sydney for our Growth Summit March 13 (huge international line-up – Neil Rackham, Margaret Heffernan, and Rick Kash) and one-day workshop March 14.