Frank Costa, COVID challenges, Home office, Signal, Can we live to 200?, Digital Einstein & Who’s in charge, you or your calendar?
9th May 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs (1995)
Hope you’re Thriving!
I’ve had a productive week with a good workshop and some good work on my new book about Onboarding. I’m excited about how the book is coming together.
Sad news this week with one of Australia’s business legends Frank Costa passing away. I remember about 15 years ago seeing Frank tell his story to our group of entrepreneurs at his Perth warehouse and how he bought his parents fruit shop in 1958 and scaled it into Australia’s largest horticultural company with almost one billion dollars in revenue. I’ll never forget walking into this huge warehouse, and then into the office, and seeing an enormous train painted on the wall. I mean, this train was about 2 metres high and 8 metres long. So someone from the group asked Frank, what is with the painting?
Frank explained how they commission an artist in every office to paint a train on a wall that points north. “That’s the northbound train!” he declared. “We’re heading north, on the northbound train. If you want to go east, west or south, no problem. Jump off the train. But we’re heading north.”I will always remember that sentiment and have recounted Frank’s words many times. I loved the simple translation of his mission and how he could easily state to any employee that if you don’t want to join their mission, it was completely OK to leave. If you don’t want to go on the northbound train like we are, no problem, hop off the train! You decide!
It reminds me of a story from my book Made to Thrive about Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread, the US-based bakery-café restaurants with over 2,000 locations who says, ‘I didn’t come fully into my own as a leader until the past 10 years of my career. Now I see my mistake. I didn’t understand that a leader can’t put up with employees’ baloney. If someone isn’t producing, a leader has a right and an obligation to fire them. Eventually, I learned that servant leadership isn’t about being nice at all costs. It’s about being helpful at all costs. A leader should be as brutally honest as possible — and you can do this in a kind and loving way. Let the chips fall where they may, and remember: Honesty is helpful. When you tell someone why they’re doing a bad job, you’re transferring the responsibility. Maybe they improve. Maybe they leave. Whatever the outcome, they own it.’
The similarity is that both leaders left the decision to the employee. They set the standard, communicated the standard, and explained that it is the employee’s decision whether they want to adhere to the standard. They own their decision.
COVID challenges continuing
I’m sure you’ve seen the devastating news from India in the past weeks about the spike in COVID and the awful impact it’s having there, with 414,000 new cases reported in the past day. Unfortunately, the actual number of cases, the unreported cases, suggests this number is much higher than reported.
A new article out this week analyses the estimated US mortality, rather than the reported mortality and produces a new combined estimate which is higher than all US combat deaths and also higher than the 1918 flu pandemic US deaths.
Let’s hope that vaccines and Government measures can control and slow the outbreaks.
Workers want to stay in home office
An interesting survey released this week said 65 per cent of pandemic remote workers wanted to keep working from home, and 58 per cent even said they would look for a new job if they would have to return to the office. Then only 11 per cent said that remote work is not essential.
65 per cent want to remain remote workers, and 33 per cent prefer the hybrid model leaving only 2 per cent wanting to return to the office.
Be careful before you mandate a full return to the office!
As Neil Bush said, “Once people enjoy the taste of freedom, there is no turning back.”
This survey might tell us that for many office workers, remote work has become an established perk like the lunch break or company car.
The strategy to battle a corporate giant
“in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Facebook’s revenue is around $86 Billion in 2020 with 58,000 employees.
Signal has 5 employees, is a not for profit funded by donations and co-founded by Brian Acton, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 Billion.
This week Signal provided an excellent strategy lesson about how to battle a giant. Strike at what is weak.
Tech aware people know the amount of data collected by Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and how it is used against you, but many of the average users don’t. So Signal used that data, collected and made available to advertisers to target users, to make them aware just how much data is available to them. They made a series of personalised adverts appear in users Instagram feed, as shown in the image below.
The ads only lasted a day before Facebook removed them, but it was a great example of an effective strategy to battle a corporate giant. Strike at what is weak.
Read the article here The Instagram ads Facebook won’t show you
- Can we live to 200? This ‘roadmap’ is thought-provoking and puts our hope in future technologies into perspective. Can we live to 200?
- Apple has acquired about 100 companies in the past six years, focusing on filling gaps and making an offer based on the number of technical employees (~$3m per engineer). They’re not concerned with the revenue, strategy or market opportunity, only the engineer’s capability.
How Apple does M&A: Small and quiet, with no bankers
- This is the most thoughtful and comprehensive advice I’ve ever read on developing meaningful business relationships. “The best way to be highly influential is to be human to everyone you meet.”
How to become insanely well connected
- Many companies don’t know what strategy means and set goals, thinking that the goal is their strategy. In this interview, Michael Porter explains why strategy is so important to CEOs because that’s how they ensure that everyone is aligned and how strategy becomes the key alignment tool. He explains that you can’t think of strategy as marketing strategy or supply chain strategy. There is only marketing that fits the strategy. Strategy is the glue that holds everybody together. Watch from the 7.30-minute mark for 5 minutes Michael Porter, can you explain the role of strategy in CEOs lives and careers?
- Ever wanted to ask Einstein a question? The folks at Wolfram Alpha artificial Intelligence have developed a talking Albert Einstein AI you can ask questions. Check out the Digital Einstein Experience.This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
Many people find themselves being busy and having a full calendar all the time. They fill their week with meetings that are not important at the expense of important things. Instead, it’s better to start by populating your calendar with priorities that align with the company quarter, annual and 3 yearly goals. That way you are always working on the right things.
This week Brad and Kevin discuss the problem of full calendars where important strategic priorities aren’t being worked on, and what you should do about it.
Who’s in charge, you or your calendar?
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