Zach Dell; Charlie Munger; Sir Martin Sorrell; Australian Tour
August 23, 2012
120 Days; 6 + 1 Key Books; How Companies Win
September 5, 2012

Japan’s Rakuten; Crucial Conversations; Unique Employee Handbook; Recruiting Talent

"…keeping you great"


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.


George Bernard Shaw

Recruiting Talent – my latest "Growth Guy" column highlights some unusual (rent a bus, hang out at docks), yet effective approaches to recruiting top talent. More below, but first…

Japan's Rakuten Going Global — proving that our fiercest competitor is likely lurking 12 time zones away, ex-pat colleague Greg Oliveau pointed me to this important Wired article about Japan's largest internet retailer Rakuten. Structured radically different than Amazon, Rakuten is prepared to go global. If you sell anything on Amazon, you might want to at least know about them and their founder. Notes Wired

"You may not yet have heard of Rakuten, Japan's biggest internet retailer, whose interests range from a food-to-fashions online marketplace and travel agency to a credit-card business and ebooks. But Hiroshi Mikitani, the charismatic and outspoken 47-year-old billionaire who founded the business 15 years ago, is planning to change that, and fast. Mickey, as he's known to his 7,615 Japanese staff, is on a mission to take the business global — and in stage one, intended to capture 27 countries, he has lately acquired America's for $250 million (£160 million), France's PriceMinister for ?200 million (£161 million), Britain's (£25 million), Canada's Kobo ($315 million), Germany's Tradoria and Brazil's Ikeda, not to mention leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest this May, a $10 million funding round in AhaLife in April, and a minority investment last September in Russia's leading etailer, OZON."

"Crucial Conversations" — this is the title of the #1 bestselling book in the field of personal communications. Go right to chapter 2 and read Kevin's story – then ponder the Fool's Choice: to be kind or candid. Co-author Ron McMillan is keynoting the Fortune Growth Summit Oct 23 – 24 in Phoenix where he'll share the tools for communicating when the stakes are high. Book club readers will receive the book next week. Make sure you get the latest 2nd Edition of the book. What's more important or basic than knowing how to be effective in conversations, especially when the stakes are high?

KEY Skill of Effective Leaders — as noted in Crucial Conversations "Twenty years of research involving more than 100,000 people reveals that THE key skill of effective leaders, teammates, parents, and loved ones is the capacity to skillfully address emotionally and politically risky issues. Period." And research shows that companies with employees who are skilled at crucial conversations:

  • Respond five times faster to financial downturns – and make budget adjustments far more intelligently
  • Save over $1500 and an eight-hour workday for every crucial conversation employees hold rather than avoid
  • Substantially increase trust and reduce transaction costs in virtual work teams

Key to Accountability — systems and processes are only useful if you can hold one another accountable. And that requires Crucial Conversations skills. Notes the book "The path to high productivity passes not through a static system, but through face-to-face conversations." In the end, driving growth is about making great decisions derived from lots of constructive conversations among talented people.

The Power of Dialogue — and notes the book "when it comes to risky, controversial, and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all the relevant information (from themselves and others) out into the open. That's it. At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of relevant information." And the key to achieving this talent is to master the skill of dialogue. It sounds easy, but my wife and I still wrestle with how to have an effective dialogue – in fact, we went for a tune-up session just last week. The rest of the book goes in depth into how to master this important skill.

"Recruiting Talent" — Atlassian's "15 developers in 15 days" bus tour was a huge hit in Europe. With over 1000 applicants, their guerilla marketing approach paid off (your marketing function must we as active in helping to find recruiting prospects as sales prospects!). In turn, Dietmar Petutschnig with ISD Limited in Whangarei, New Zealand, heads to the docks when he needs to recruit talent. Take 3 minutes to get the details in my latest September "Growth Guy" column.

Valve's Unique Employee Handbook — it opens with this quote on the cover "A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one's there telling you what to do." And it emphasizes that " "hiring is the single most important thing you will ever do at Valve." Take 2 minutes to scan through this blog highlighting the key points in Valve's handbook. Thanks to Sebastian Ross, HR guru and another close ex-pat colleague in Barcelona, for pointing me to this story.

September Workshops — dramatically speed up implementation of the Rockefeller Habits and walk through our various one-page tools. Sydney 4 Sept; Melbourne 5 Sept; Brisbane 6 Sept; Las Vegas 12 Sept; Columbia, MD 25 Sept; Colorado Springs 26 Sept.

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.