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August 25, 2011
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September 8, 2011

Steve Jobs Neighbor; #1 Job of CEO; Air Force One; London & India

"…keeping you great"


"Our biggest competitor in the recruiting arena is extended unemployment benefits."

Mark Lancaster, CEO Employment Group

Neighbor of Steve Jobs — for all that's been written about Steve Jobs this past week, I found this article the most personal look at Steve the neighbor, father, citizen. On the same day, the NY Times published a piece entitled "The Mystery of Steve Jobs's Public Giving." My favorite paragraph from the article:

Two of his close friends, both of whom declined to be quoted by name, told me that Mr. Jobs had said to them in recent years, as his wealth ballooned, that he could do more good focusing his energy on continuing to expand Apple than on philanthropy, especially since his illness. "He has been focused on two things — building the team at Apple and his family," another friend said. "That's his legacy. Everything else is a distraction."

And get your pre-orders in. The release of Steve's biography, by acclaimed Walter Isaacson, has been moved up to November 21. Many of our questions will be answered then.

Right Person for #2 Job — finding the right #2 is the most important decision a leader can make. And my research found that the best choice is someone with whom you've worked with in the past — existing employee, customer, supplier, colleague from a previous job, etc. Tristan White, founder and CEO of Melbourne (just named best place to live in the world)-based The Physio Company took note. Yesterday he sent me an email ahead of his attending my Australian workshop tour, sharing "about 9 months ago I appointed my first 'No. 2' (someone I had been working with as a supplier for 2 years). It's working out well and I am now able to spend much less time on the day to day. My focus right now is to grow myself and learn as fast as I can…hence, my obsession with learning." Launched in 2004, his firm will provide over 72,000 physiotherapy visits in 2011 and has been recognized as one of BRW's "Best Places to Work" and one of Australia's fastest growing firms. Congrats Tristan and his team.

#1 Job of the CEO — according to Hermann Simon, author of Hidden Champions of the 21st Century, the #1 focus of the CEO is marketing and innovation (i.e. Steve Jobs!). And as David Meerman Scott, the top marketing guru right now, exclaims "you are what you publish." Again, Tristan White, CEO of The Physio Company, took note. "I've been blogging for the past 12 months and am about to write my first book. I love it and should have done it years ago! Thanks for the inspiration." Here's a link to his blog — and a link highlighting their daily huddle called "To The Point."

Job Well Done — where you host your upcoming quarterly/annual planning session is an important decision. Gerald Olesker, CEO of California-based Architectural Detail Group, Inc., hosted his ADG Eco-Lighting Product division's August strategic planning session under the wings of Air Force One. Here's a link to his blog with pictures of their historic event. Another idea is to host your planning session at a customer site, something we've often done at Gazelles. It gives the team an opportunity to visit a customer and include them at points in the planning where their feedback might be insightful.

Finding Jobs — with talk about the US and European economies falling back into a recession, especially given the weak job market, I called several clients whose firms' performances provide a leading indicator to the economy. At least for Mark Lancaster and his Michigan-based staffing firm, Employment Group, his biggest challenge is finding enough people who want to work. Notes Lancaster, "Our biggest competitor in the recruiting arena is extended unemployment benefits." Known as the 99ers, since the US Government now provides up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, Lancaster's team try recruiting able people who exclaim "I still have 54 weeks on my 99, call me in 9 months." In turn, in the last 20 months Lancaster's firm has had almost 2000 of their temps hired permanently and almost 1000 of those in 2011. "This is a record number in our history," shared Lancaster. "So we know companies are struggling to find the right people. However, those sitting on the couch because of extended unemployment benefits are then not attractive to employers, so it's a double whammy — they remain unemployed (and unemployable)."

London and India-bound — hope to meet many of you in my workshops in London (Monday) and throughout India next week.

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.