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April 23, 2015
4 Buffett Rules; 1 Key Influencer; 7 Lessons from Dad; Young Inventor’s Mom
May 7, 2015

MBA Worthless; Great Question; Top 50 Trip; “Thought” Meetings

"…insights for scale-ups"


Want Some Strategy Time? — bid on an one-hour (OK, 90 minutes if needed) strategy session with me and benefit a great cause, NFTE, which has been teaching entrepreneurship to inner city youth for decades. The last company that did this made big bucks! Here's a link – deadline May 5 at 3pm ET.

Want a Better Strategy? — Notes Tien Tzou, CEO of Zuora, in this FORTUNE article titled "Why this CEO believes an MBA is worthless":

…the world is shifting from selling products to selling subscriptions, and in the "subscription economy," companies are focused on generating recurring revenue. So it's not about the price of the product and the margin. It's about delivering value to customers, so they don't want to switch services.

In order to manage this effectively, he suggests there are five things a company must do, outlined in the article, and one very important question to answer (I love great questions):

…the key question isn't "What product can I sell?" but rather "What do my customers really want, and how can I deliver that as an intuitive service, rather than a stand-alone product?" Answer that question and you're on your way.

Not surprising, Zuora is an enterprise software company that designs and sells SaaS applications for companies with a subscription business model! Nevertheless, Tzou's advice is worth contemplating at your next council/strategy meeting.

Spring/Fall Strategy Cleaning — in a bid to turnaround sagging sales, McDonald's plans to offer less – dropping 7 sandwiches from its menu. Trimming your own produce/service offerings is something many of us should contemplate doing. Less is more. Notes this FORTUNE article, the restaurant chain's number of menu items have ballooned 75% in 2004, offering 121 items. "The company hopes its "menu simplification" can both speed up its service and simplify the ordering process." It has also closed 700 locations. What products/services/locations do you need to eliminate this spring/fall?

Summer (or anytime) Strategy Breaktime — congrats to Lauren Hefferon and her team at Ciclismo Classico – their Argentina Vision & Vine trip won National Geographic's "Top 50 Trips of the Year" award. And they've launched additional photo adventures in Brazil and Chile in addition to their award-winning bike tours in Italy (and elsewhere). Here's a link to more info on the winning tour.

Strategy Think Time — monthly "Thought" meetings have helped propel Denver-based Thought Ensemble, a technology strategy consultancy, to more than double its size last year, and to double again this year with $6 million in revenue and 24 employees ($250k/employee — impressive). Notes Jim Smelley, co-founder and CEO:

One of our key differentiators is our Thoughts: new and innovative ideas to solve our clients' complex technical problems. We have found that this is heavily dependent on giving ourselves and our teams the time to think through and explore client issues. To encourage this we conduct monthly Thought meetings.

'Thought' was initially an agenda item for a broader company meeting. "We encouraged team members to bring tough client challenges to our ensemble for discussion, however, we found that while the intent was good (and we had sporadically good results), we ended up rushing through the thought topic – and we were not very thoughtful," explains Jim.

Two-Hour Monthly (Single) Strategy DiscussionJim continues, "We have since re-structured the Thought meeting to be a dedicated time that takes place monthly. We focus on a single topic each month and send pre-read materials and questions before each meeting. The questions and responses are used to drive a two hour discussion on a single topic. During the meeting team members sign up to write related blog posts which are then posted as thought leadership on our company blog.

Strategy "Cerebrations" — Each month, we also award "Cerebrations" for the best blogs or whitepapers from the month. (We know it's a cheesy title, but hey, we're consultants. Isn't that requited?)" Concludes Jim, "our last Thought Meeting focused on technology innovation. We conducted a lively conversation and debate and then set out to produce Thought pieces. It's working. Our small company wrote dozens of articles read by thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of people."


What is the value of working with a Certified Gazelles International Coach? There are four key roles a coach plays in helping your company Scale Up…listen here to learn.


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

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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.