Foreign Partners?; China Facts; Biggest Robot Market; Chrissy Nardini Case; Fortune Stories Needed
July 9, 2015
6 Blunders; Global 500; #1 Skill; 1st Scaling Up User Conference
July 23, 2015

Leadership Hacking; Airbnb CEO Sunday routine; Cool/Not Cool; City Bin Quarterly Theme

"…insights for scaleups

HEADLINES: (Two brilliant pieces)

City Bin's Latest Quarterly Theme — do you have a theme for the second half of 2015? Gene Browne and his team continue to brilliantly use quarterly themes to align everyone around addressing a key constraint to scaling up their Galway, Ireland-based waste collection firm. Their last theme titled "The Price is Right" drove them to focus on pricing strategies (all of us should spend more time on this) which resulted in an increase in their monthly Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) by 7%. "We're very happy considering the price sensitivity in the general economy," notes Browne. Their latest theme, along with a link to visuals, is noted below.

Leadership Hacking — in a brilliant (there's that word again) and in-depth Fortune article titled "The Education of Airbnb's (CEO) Brian Chesky" the subtitle captures the essence of this piece – "How the home-sharing site's co-founder hacked leadership and taught himself to be a world-class CEO." Take 13 minutes – now or this weekend – and study this article. Take 60 seconds right now and read the opening two paragraphs where he describes the only two jobs of a CEO.

Seeking Massive Advice — Like Zuckerberg, Chesky has embarked on a calculated process of seeking the advice from as many leaders as possible, including some who would surprise you. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the article list many of these people (take 10 seconds to look at it). As Sherry Coutu noted in her massive Scale-Up Report to the UK government, its leadership development that is one of the top two requirements for growing a business. This is especially true for a leader running a $24 billion-valued firm with "roughly 2,000 employees operating out of 21 offices worldwide, and offers its service in 34,000 cities." His primary book source has been former Intel CEO Andy Grove's High Output Management.

Synthesizing Divergent Ideas — notes Leigh Gallagher, the brilliant Fortune interviewer/writer, "A key aspect of Chesky's sourcing (of management) theory is what he calls 'synthesizing divergent ideas' — basically, going to unexpected sources for insight. To learn how to become an elite recruiter, for example, Chesky might skip talking to an HR exec and instead seek out a sports agent, whose business lives and dies by attracting talent." And Chesky has initiated a new routine:

Communicating the various pieces of wisdom he picks up as he learns them is a key part of Chesky's management style. Earlier this year he started a "Sunday night series," a weekly all-company email summarizing a principle or lesson he'd learned. A recent three-part series focused on – fittingly – how to learn.


Brand Promise Guarantee — how Chesky handled a big crisis in the company, involving a customer's home being robbed and ransacked, is another lesson in leadership. Discussions on how to respond dragged on for weeks. Finally, Chesky hit a dark moment and realized he needed to manage to principle, not outcome, and apology, even if it meant hurting the company. Quoting from the article:

"Over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up," he wrote. He not only said he was sorry but also announced that the company would be implementing a $50,000 guarantee. "All of this was against advice," Chesky says. "People were like, 'We need to discuss this, we need to do testing,' and I said, 'No, we're doing this.' " He did have a key assist from one major source. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz and an investor in Airbnb, added a zero to the amount of the guarantee, which Chesky had first set at $5,000.

Brian's Rules — and this brilliant list from the article:

Chesky has absorbed management lessons from the pros, but he has also developed his own leadership principles.

If you have a limited amount of time to learn something, spend most of your available time identifying the best source on the topic – then go to that person: "If you pick the right source, you can fast-forward."

Devote your energy to actions that have the greatest impact. "It's like chess." Chesky says. A few key moves.

"Usually in a crisis you have to go left or right, and everyone wants to go middle. And middle is the storm."

The best CEOs take inspiration from their outside lives. "If you stop going to fairs, concerts, and bars, and you're just working, you lose touch with all that. You have to refill the reservoir."

Again, take time to read this article – quicker than half a book (Zuckerberg's weekly quota). And as Chesky learned from Warren Buffett, a leader must take time to learn and think deeply – this article will help you do just that!

Cool/Not Cool — Taking a page from Towne Park's "Daily Basics" (from Scaling Up) "Cool/Not Cool" is City Bin's latest quarterly theme. There are 31 behaviours – one for each day of the month – 16 Cool and 15 Not Cool – that are intended to drive up City Bin's Net Promoter Score (NPS). The relevant behaviour is highlighted during each daily huddle and a daily email is sent to each staff member highlighting that day's Cool, Not Cool message. Here's a link to the brilliant visuals Browne's team created to represent each behavior. It's all about having a handful of rules and then repeating yourself a lot. It's also about behavior change, NOT culture change (no such thing). Note's Browne:

The theme is going down very well. The biggest difference I see now is that it'' much easier to have that 'awkward' conversation with a colleague. All you have to say is 'Not Cool' and the message is understood.

Be (and stay) cool this summer in the north. Hello snow in Australia!


Align Software puts everyone on the Same Page – Literally! See, in real time every person in your organization and how they are progress on their priorities – alongside how these Align to the Company Priorities! Scale Up your Rockefeller Habits implementation with – on your computer and on your phone.

Better Book Club — What's your team reading? Increase your books read per team member. Easy, Proven, and in the Cloud at


Interested in selecting a coach to help your company Scale Up? Check out this video explaining the "4+1 Rule of Thumb" for choosing the right coach.

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.