My learnings from The Fish That Ate The Whale about Sam Zemurray:
- Fire people who can’t get the job done, and replace them by people who can.
- Fast decisions. Don’t nibble. Get things done.
- Get your hands dirty. Work hard. Go out to the fields with the machete. “We are here, they are there.”
- Make gold out of other peoples trash (Sam did this with ripe bananas)
- Invent things. Be innovative. The company missed to invent the banana box, because Sam was not there anymore. When Sam was there, they were the innovation leader.
- Founder led companies are stronger than companies where the founding generation has already passed away.
- Get creative with your solutions! E.g. Sam double purchased land that was owned by two different parties. His opponents hired lawyers. Sam just purchased it twice and got it done. (Effective vs. efficient)
- Never complain. Just play the hand you are dealt.
- Want to replace current management? Get enough proxies and fire the board.
- Listen to the people on the front lines. They have the best information. Go to the docks. Talk to people (scuttlebutt method).
- Companies have a lifecycle. Even the most innovative, most profitable or most powerful companies fade away. What are the characteristics of companies that survive for hundreds of years? They need to keep reinventing themselves. A young generation needs to take over and rebuild the business.
- Keep a low profile. Don’t attract too much attention. Be a doer, not an attention seeker.
- Give anonymously. If you don’t, you are not giving, you are trading (e.g. for status or reputation).
What have you learned? Let me know on Twitter.