Posts in “Ideas”

August 14, 2014

Read for Cash

Our “continuing education” program for employees can be summed up in one word: read.

Every year we pay our team to read business books. The financial incentive (15 cents / page) and requirements (the books are all pre-approved, the campaign lasts six weeks) lead people to read outside their normal interests and outside their normal job responsibilities.

In 2006 32 employees read 104 books; this year we had 151 participants read 485 books.

I encouraged everyone to contact the authors of the books they read simply to thank them for writing the book. 102 participants did, and two-thirds heard back from the author. (As quickly as within an hour, and most often with appreciation and a personal reply.)

To get paid, participants email a short review and star rating to the entire company. It can be as little as a sentence, but was often a thoughtful review with insights on how the lessons learned apply to our business. I read all 485 reports and was daily impressed with what a smart and interesting team I get to work with.

On a scale of 1 – Useless to 5 – Great Program, employees rated this year’s Read for Cash 4.5.

August 7, 2014

Advice to my 21 year-old self

An intern invited me to coffee today and asked what advice I’d give my 21 year-old self.

The answer was easy: read more history and biography.

As the saying goes, “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”

The only shortcut I’ve found is to study other people’s experience, and that’s mostly written up in history and biography. You can’t read enough of it.

August 5, 2014

Entourage

I was reading an article about a famous, wealthy person. The reporter noted that he was surrounded by an entourage, some of whom seemed employed only to laugh at his jokes.

It reminded me that the Bible addressed this (and everything!) long ago:


(Note the cool new embedded Bible widget! You can get it at http://biblia.com/plugins/BibleVerse.)

May 1, 2014

Advice to a young CEO

What’s the best advice for a young, first-time CEO?

Get rid of your television

It sounds silly, but you’re going to need every moment of every day, and television is a distraction you can’t afford.

Read business history and biography

Remember the old saw about how good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment? There’s only one substitute for years of experience: learning from the experience of others. Fill every spare moment with reading about others’ experience. Pay particular attention to failure stories; they are even more useful than the wisdom of those who have succeeded.

See the rest of my answer at Quora. (It contains points from my Getting Ahead slides.)

December 19, 2012

I want a camera built into my car

I want a camera built into my car. I want it right in front of the rear-view mirror, capturing the same wide view I’m seeing through the windshield.

I want it to record on a continuous loop. If I press the steering-wheel mounted trigger, I want it to store 10 seconds before and after that moment so that I can choose the perfect still, or capture something I just saw.

I want to offload images via WiFi or Bluetooth or the SD slots or USB ports new cars already have for music import.

Another obvious feature would be to store video immediately before an accident, though I imagine this kind of “black-box” recording (and the likelihood of it being subpoenaed in an accident or crime investigation) would be a concern to some people.

There appear to be plenty options as after-market accessories, but I don’t want wires and suction cups. I just want it built in and working ‘automagically.’

October 12, 2012

Profit Is Why You Are in Business

Does your business have a noble mission? Mine does, too. But making a profit is what enables a business to accomplish its mission. Profit needs to be the first priority or you will not have a chance to pursue any others.

It is easy to fall into the trap of labeling things “strategic” as an excuse for unprofitable work. I know, I have done it.

Chapter 10 of Fire Someone Today is now online, and summarized in these slides:

Practical wisdom on growing your business that you can start using today.

Get it now