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The Open Org; Sabering Champaign; Rock Habits Dangerous; Elite SEM

"…insights for scaleups"


This is a great read (The Open Organization) for anyone hoping to lead and succeed in a society being redefined by expectations of transparency, authenticity, access – and yes, openness.
                                       Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell

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Rockefeller Habits Could Be Damaging to Company while I'm admitting my sins, see note below…but first:

The Open Organization — The best CEO-written book during this past year, Jim Whitehurst, head of RedHat, has tripled the market cap to almost $13 billion since he took over the top open source software company in the world. And to lead an open source company, you need to lead an open designed organization. While Tony Hsieh struggles at Zappos to end the command and control style that typifies most companies, Jim details how RedHat has successfully designed this kind of organization – and how it changed him from being a top-down leader (former COO of Delta). Notes Whitehurst:

This book is largely about the lessons I've learned on why an open organization is so much better than a traditional one, and how to lead one.

Gary Hamel, one of the top strategists in the world (and co-author of the famous Core Competency HRB article), wrote an excellent Foreword. But start by reading the first three pages of chapter 1. GPro and book club members will get a copy of the book next week. Then come hear Jim share his thoughts at the ScaleUp Summit presented by Fortune, May 24 – 25, Atlanta.

Wicked Smart with Binders — Whitehurst was a former Partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and has his MBA from Harvard – and he's worked with hundreds of companies. So when he got to RedHat, he experienced what seemed like chaos and felt he needed to get the place organized with KPIs, etc. "I became known as the guy with the 'binders' because of all that data I carried around with me." And yes, today he still cares about the numbers, but, notes Whitehurst:

I (now) spend the majority of my time thinking about our strategic direction and culture and talking to customers rather than worrying if things are being done precisely as I would choose.

The Danger with the Rockefeller Habits  – the Rock Habits can hurt a company. This is why we wrote Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0). While most growth firms really do need some tightening up, some leaders have gone too far with the whole priorities/metric/meeting thing. This is why setting up the weekly "council" for the CEO is the second most important "next step" – to give the leadership time to think and talk about strategic direction. This is why "The Core" chapter is critical to maintaining a healthy culture. And this is why we put such a strong emphasis on talking to employees and customers each week – and really listening to them (though you don't necessarily do everything they ask – a real balancing act). This is the qualitative data that MUST balance the quantitative data in making decisions.

Different Set of Leadership Skills — the transition from startup/entrepreneurial firm to one that can scale requires a different set of leadership skills. Notes Whitehurst:

…the skills required to lead a company that relies heavily on the principles of open innovation are vastly different from those needed to run a business based on the hierarchical structure of conventional organization.

I love his story where he "issued what I thought was an order to create a research report. A few days later, I asked the people assigned to the task how things were going. 'Oh, we decided it was a bad idea, so we scrapped it,' they told me in good cheer." Ouch!

It's a Quick Read  – I love leadership books written by actual leaders if they are well written. This one is. And we've booked Jim to keynote our upcoming Fortune Summit because we're told he's a passionate speaker and conveyor of the ideas he outlines in the book. See you in Atlanta.

From $5 million to $22 million (case study)  – and from 18 to 150 employees, Elite SEM, a NYC-based digital marketing firm, has saved over $1 million in recruiting fees because A-players are coming to him (in a very tough marketplace) and his retention rate is running 97%. Read my latest Huffington Post piece to learn how CEO Ben Kirshner accomplished this. One key is marketing – something Cameron Herold, his early coach, is excellent in guiding. He helped Elite SEM win several key awards which upped their visibility in terms of culture. And he helped train their managers to become better leaders. Kirshner has now engaged Gazelles coaching partner Matt Kuttler to help them scale from 150 to over 300 employees and beyond as they stay on top of communication, experimenting with the daily huddle and other Scaling Up tools. Please take 2 minutes to scan down through the piece.

Sabering a Bottle of Champaign  – known as Sabrage, to celebrate the launch of a new division Gazelles Social Initiatives, YPOer Gil Bonwitt, co-founder along with YPOer Devin Schain, sabered a bottle of bubbly after we signed the MOU making it official at our strategic offsite last week at John Ratliff's executive/forum retreat center. Here's a link to the 5 second video. There are a couple excellent YouTube videos on how to do it – lots of fun!


Have you ever wondered if your company would be a good candidate to work with an executive growth coach? Click here to watch Gazelles International President Keith Cupp describes the four most important attributes of successful clients.


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

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.