Brad Feld; Bandwidth; 50s better than 30s; Workday Millennials
June 28, 2018
7-70 Rule; Niche Finds You; 3 Brand Promises; Bradford Logistics
July 19, 2018

Musk Update; “Sell More Flowers”; Do Less, Then Obsess; Great at Work

"…insights for scaleups"


To work smart — select a few activities and apply intense targeted effort.
  Morten T. Hansen, author Great at Work

I pride myself on making as few decisions as possible in a quarter.
  Reed Hastings, Founder NetFlix

Great at Work Morten T. Hansen, Jim Collins' co-author of Great by Choice (one of my top five biz books of all time), embarked on a five-year study to uncover the 7 work-smart practices that drive individual performance. Stanford PhD; Harvard, INSEAD, and now Berkeley professor; I'm thrilled that Hansen, one of the top biz thinkers of our time, is keynoting the fall ScaleUp Summit Oct 25 – 26, Denver. SPro and book club members will receive a copy of Great at Work next week. Working with Hansen is like meeting the late Stephen Covey as he continues to rocket to fame.

Do Less, Then Obsess Chapter one provides an excellent overview of the seven practices, yet I would skip to Chapter 2 and read what Hansen considers the number one driver of individual performance – what he labels "Do less, then obsess." Notes Hansen:

…we found that employees who chose a few key priorities and channeled tremendous effort into doing exceptional work in those areas greatly outperformed those who pursued a wider range of priorities.

Just as it's important to hyper-specialize as a company; it's equally important as an employee. And it aligns with what Steve Jobs learned in his "wilderness" years – the power/fun at Pixar of having only one priority – the creation of
Toy Story. The key is then pushing for perfection – to obsess over being/creating the best! A priority without the obsession/effort is what he calls "do less, no stress." Hansen goes on to provide practical examples of the "do less, then obsess" practice – and throughout the book for the other six best practices. A great read for upping the effectiveness of everyone in the organization.

"Sell More Flowers" as an example of "do less, then obsess" Jeff Hoffman (Priceline, uBid) shared one of my favorite Jim McCann stories yesterday, while team teaching with John Ratliff and me, a two-day Scaling Up workshop for PE firm K1 and 300 of the executives of their portfolio firms. Jim McCann founded 1-800-Flowers. To keep everyone focused, he posted signs all around his company that said "Sell More Flowers." Then as he would observe people working he would randomly ask "is this helping to sell more flowers?" If not, do something else. And if someone's "boss" asked them to do something, any employee could push back and ask "but will this help us sell more flowers?" Jeff details this story in a July 2 Inc. story. What is the one thing you need everyone to do? And is everyone obsessively doing mainly those things to accomplish that? What posters are you posting? What is your mantra this year?

No Decisions in a Quarter Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, in this 21-minute 2018 TED talk details how Netflix changed entertainment and where he's headed next. It's an excellent treatise on leadership and letting go. Go to 5:20 as he describes the culture of freedom he created which frees him from having to make decisions. In fact, he notes he's gone a quarter without making a signal decision!

No Process but No Chaos jump to 6:59 and hear how Hastings focused on developing a bunch of "mechanisms" – super high talented people, alignment, talking openly, sharing information (including all core strategies) – which allows big decisions to be made without Hastings' involvement. And it extends to letting people set their own vacations (like Ron Lovett did as he scaled his 1500-person private security firm – author of Outrageous Empowerment: The Incredible Story of Giving Employees Their Brains Back). The entire 21 minutes is worth listening to this weekend. Thank you Julia Pimsleur, author of Million Dollar Women, for sharing this link.

Humans Better Than Robots as Elon Musk continues to test the limits of innovation, while he attempts to catch up to the aggressive production goals he's set at Tesla, this NY Times article details the new tent factory he assembled and how Tesla has found that humans are much better than robots at many things!! It's Musk's obsession with accomplishing single-minded goals that has driven the kinds of innovations (and reverse innovations) we love seeing from Musk and his team. Please take 3 minutes to scan the article and look at the pictures of his new tent factory.

Bloomberg Breakaway Network — Interested in joining our 2018/19 delegation of Scaling Up CEOs for the Bloomberg Breakaway Network? Please join me and your fellow CEOs in this invitation-only membership comprised of both established industry leaders and emerging disruptors who are looking to increase the competitive distance between themselves and their peers. Click to view member benefits or to apply for membership.

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. October 2 – 5; January 15 – 18, 2019.

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]


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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.