Posts in “Ideas”

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:

October 3, 2012

The four-word employee handbook

Everything I want from myself and others at work (and in life!) can be summed up in four words:

Honor God. Love others.

When we started Logos Bible Software twenty years ago, I used a software program to generate a boilerplate “attorney approved” employee handbook. When employees asked “What’s our policy on…?” I might refer them to the handbook, since I couldn’t always remember what it said. But more often I would just approve their special request, or tell them to use their best judgment.

Then I took the Zappos tour, and read the Netflix culture slides. And I realized that we already employed awesome, smart people who trust each other. What did we need a butt-covering book of legalese for?

So that’s it: Honor God. Love others. Our new employee handbook in a nutshell, and the primary measure we weigh decisions against.

To complement the nutshell-handbook we developed a set of slides that expound on the theme, meet the letter of the law, introduce our corporate values, and explain the culture. We even decided on two actual rules: no smoking, and no open flames.

It can be scary to work with so few guidelines. Managers wonder if employees will abuse the un-tracked vacation time; employees wonder if they’re embracing too much or too little freedom. It requires trust and openness and conversation. But after 18 months it is working well.

September 18, 2012

Getting ahead

Thoughts on getting ahead, specifically in your career and earnings.

This is the blunt, direct advice I give employees one-on-one, and what I’m sharing with my kids as they head off to college.


October 19, 2011

If you’re learning a lot in class, you’re doing it wrong.

I recently spoke with a student majoring in Computer Science who was interested in working for my company. When I asked if he understood a particular concept, he told me he hadn’t taken that class yet.

I understand learning about English composition in a class on that subject, or even picking up some physics in Physics 101. But learning about the subject you’re majoring in, and the field in which you hope to make a living, in a classroom? There is a better way.

You only get a few hours a week in the classroom. Don’t waste them trying to understand something new. You have the textbook, the syllabus, the library, and the Internet. Read ahead! Use the precious little time with a professor to have something explained a second way and to ask the questions that remain after you’ve already absorbed the basics. Understand the big picture, be familiar with the vocabulary, and impress your instructor with your advanced comprehension and thirst for knowledge.

Better yet, skip the first batch of classes in your major. The first few classes are designed for people who know nothing about the subject. They’re easy to test out of, and a waste of your tuition dollars to take. Every slot you free up at the front end is a more advanced class or elective you can take on the back end, increasing the value of your tuition and distinguishing your otherwise predictable transcript.

“Everything in software changes every three years,” the student told me in the course of our conversation.

True. So why would I hire someone whose primary education was in a classroom? Three years out of school they’ll be out of date. I want to hire people who have demonstrated that they can learn and grow on their own, who used their classroom time not to be introduced to new subjects, but to consult an expert and to supplement their self-education.

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

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