Staying Out of Jail; Huge Mistake; 14th Feb Deadline; 19th Feb Webinar
February 13, 2014
Buffett’s Real Estate Lessons; Airbnb CoFounder Lessons; Paul Graham Lessons; 5th March Screening
February 27, 2014

Wine Deal; Being Brief; Amazon’s Best Practice; APN; Stanford Water Systems

"…keeping you great"


Really Love Wine? — Interested in one of 10 free Spanish vineyards? Yes, there is a catch, so don't email me unless you are truly interested in wine — [email protected]

Be Brief — Joe McCormack's book Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less is out this week. Just sitting a copy on the desk of anyone who writes long emails or drones on in meetings is worth the price! The book is also about knowing your audience/customer and getting right to the point in your messaging. In 2010, he launched Navigant Studios as a new business line that specializes in short- form visual media and storytelling production. And Joe was kind enough to let me write what has to be the briefest Foreword in book history – check it out.

Amazon's Briefs — Jeff Wilke, Senior VP at Amazon, recently keynoted a YPO conference in Costa Rica and served on a panel I moderated. Besides expounding on the 14 Leadership Principles that guide decision making at Amazon, he shared a simple yet powerful tool for driving projects – the Press Release. At the start of any new initiative, the project team produces a simple, brief, press release that outlines how they would describe the new service/initiative to the public.

AmazonSmiles Brief — Take the new AmazonSmiles initiative (check it out) which is the same Amazon website but every purchase you make generates a .5% donation to your favorite charity. Wilke showed us the first press release that initiated the project, highlighting how the new offering was initially called something else (YPO confidential), how the donations were structured differently, etc. Then as the project matured, Wilke showed us the progression of updated Press Releases used to keep the senior team briefed and the team focused on the desired outcomes. The final Press Release was the release Amazon sent to the press formally announcing the new initiative. It's a powerfully simple process – give it a try.

2128 Pages — Wilke also elaborated on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's meeting ritual where he gives the senior team 45 minutes at the beginning of each leadership meeting to read through what will be discussed. This idea came to Bezos sitting through one too many PowerPoint presentations and realizing he would prefer to read the presenter's notes than get a copy of the PowerPoint. Wilke says having team members write out their thoughts ahead of time forces clarity and precision. For fun, Wilke shared the number of pages he read in 2013:

234 pages of Press Releases
1,046 pages of Staff Meeting Materials
394 pages of Operating Plans
454 pages of Quarterly Business Reviews

Operations vs. Sales
— when these two functions battle, how do you resolve the issues? Jeff Wilke joined Amazon in 1999 to head up operations. My friend David Risher, the other member of the YPO panel, was already at Amazon running sales (took them from $16 million to over $4 billion). When inevitable issues arose between the two functions they had a simple way to resolve. They would focus on Jeff Bezos' single mantra "what would be best for the customer!" Wilke and Risher shared several tense situations/decisions and showed how they used this Bezos mantra to arrive at what proved again and again to be the right decision.

Amazon Partner Network (APN) — BTW, are you an Amazon APN consulting or technical partner? Gazelles could use some input on a proposal. Email me at [email protected] – thanks.

Portable Clean Water — want clean water wherever you are — vacationing, camping, travelling, etc. — without buying expensive bottled water (and there is a lot of bad stuff in bottled water from the plastic), David Schulhof's latest venture, Living Sunlight, taps his passion for bringing products to the market that impact people's quality of life. Since clean water is so critical to health, he has created a compact and portable Reverse Osmosis water filter system that is quick to connect and disconnect to any indoor or outdoor faucet to filter out Lead, Arsenic, Asbestos, Fluoride, biological contaminants, etc – stuff that's in a lot of drinking water. He's launched it on Indiegogo and is donating a portion of the proceeds to Charity: Water to help the water situation in developing nations.


Need help implementing the Rockefeller Habits?

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.