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.
(Thank you for recommending the book, Brent Beshore.)
Efficiency is often confused with effectiveness. It can be a trap.
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”Peter Drucker
You can be efficient in doing the wrong things. You can be efficient in doing things you shouldn’t even do. You can efficiently waste your time.
Too often, I make the same mistake. I’m optimizing prematurely. And not asking the important questions.
Efficiency asks us: How can we make this faster, cheaper, with less waste?
Effectiveness asks us: What is the job to be done? What is truly important? What can we eliminate, automate or delegate?
I re-learned this lesson in AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee. China is often not very efficient, because they move super-fast and over-invest. Yet they are hugely effective, because they get the job done, and fast. Be it high-speed rail, mobile payments, or AI, China is brute-forcing its way to success.
You find the same in nature. A tree that produces thousands of seeds isn‘t very efficient. But it’s effective in growing its population.
Efficiency comes from scarcity. Effectiveness sees abundance. Better to waste some money or resources, than to waste time.
Now I understand why Stephen Covey named his bestseller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and not 7 Habits of Highly Efficient People. (It’s a great book that I can highly recommend.)
Effectiveness first. Efficiency second.
It’s an essential habit for the 21st century. A principle I have to learn and re-learn:
No matter what challenge you have, anything. Google is your friend!
Have a problem with your computer? Google it and find a solution.
Don’t know how to disable the answering machine? Google the manual and get it done.
Annoyed by a tedious workflow? Google it and find a better one.
Need to repair something? Google it and find a walkthrough video.
Suffering from pain under your shoulder blade? Google it and find out what you can do about it. (Been there, done that.)
Never hesitate or ruminate. Challenge? Google. It needs to be a reflex. And too often, it isn’t.
You can 9x your results by choosing the right default, as shown by organ donation statistics:
- If people need to check a box to not donate (“opt-out”), the consent rate is between 85% and 99%.
- If people need to check a box to donate (“opt-in”), the consent rate is between 4% and 27%.
“Opt-in” vs. “Opt-out” has a huge impact. Choose wisely!