Reading: Great Leaders Series

by Helene Malmsio

Been catching up on my book library that I subscribe to, as I've been getting behind in my daily reading.

Started reading this series the other week with the one about Warren Buffet. A legendary investor who likes to keep lifestyle simple, and also stick to what he knows well in investments. No tech stocks for this billionaire. Read my point on the book here: Warren Buffet.

And now just completed the biography on Ronald Reagan. He strikes me as someone who can turn anything into a positive. Even being a slightly built man, he managed to find a football team to play in that had only lower than usual weight players... how to be a star, no matter what your limits - lol.

He believed his politics, and in later years realised that with his gift of crafting speeches and communication skills he may just get a chance to enact his political beliefs.

“Reagan was the master of setting a scene, of the visual takeaway, of using every available technique to enhance his stature and further his goals.”

Interesting read.
Develop and clearly enunciate a bold vision.
Keep your sunny side up.
Build a narrative, and tell it powerfully.
Hone your wordcraft.
Use stagecraft.
Never give up.
Stand by your principles, but be ready to compromise.
Delegate, but don’t detach.
Stay cool in a crisis, and use your wit.
“Timing and luck are crucial in both life and politics. Reagan was blessed with both.”

Then read the bio about Sam Walton the creator of WalMart. Interesting to read how influential his wife was (she had a Degree in Business, so was not ninny!) especially that she refused to live in a town with more than 10k people, so that forced him to keep his stores in rural locations initially.

He was burned badly in his first store lease, both coming and going, and never forgot those lessons. His insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge about his competitors methods of operations were legendary and even got him locked up in Brazil.
Focus. Define your overarching goal, never lose sight of it, and stand behind everything you do.
Empower. (Staff and colleagues)
Listen and look. What are your competitors up to?
Learn.(and stay open minded)
Respond. Put what you’ve learned into action immediately.
Reward achievement. Give a stake in your business.
Inspire. Monetary rewards aren’t enough
Enjoy. Show enthusiasm – always.

Moved on to Walt Disney, the legendary cartoonist and creator of the Disneyland theme parks around the world.

Walt and his brother Roy grew to become masters at their animation craft and in their industry, now grossing $40B pa.

But he also dealt with some scoundrels at the start, and learned bitter lessons he would continue to apply his whole career, developing a reputation for being a hard employer and union breaker as well.

As he later said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Walt Disney may not have been a particularly likeable person, but he had business chops and creative genius.

• Know thyself.
• Persevere.
• Spring for talent.
• Find your Roy.
• Exploit technology.
• Take risks.
• Opportunity is everywhere.
• Make an emotional connection.(with your customer/end users)

Next looked at the autobiography of Henry Ford
As a child growing up on a farm he showed no interest in rural trades, only focusing on motors and tinkering on automation of all kinds. Only when he started working for the Edison company did he finally find his place in the world
“Ford was perfectly tuned to his time. While other automakers were turning out expensive toys for rich men, he made sturdy, practical cars that everyone could afford and everyone could drive. His moving assembly line slashed the cost of production.”

But this poorly educated man who was wary of ‘school learning’ also had a cruel streak in him and tormented staff and management in his company. Not very likeable either... and believed his own publicity while hanging out with other moguls and inventors, enjoying basking in his own glory.
Another stroke of genius was for creating a new marketing vehicle to promote his cars. So although Ford had little interest in auto racing as a sport, he understood its importance in generating publicity. He raced and won titles and helped create the demand for auto racing.

He also unwisely tried moving out of his field of expertise, investing $20m in rubber plantations that failed miserably.

In the end, the genius that had created the streamlining of production simply failed him and he could not keep up with innovations in his industry. He did not stay curious and open minded.

Stand out.
If you find a diamond, don’t throw it away.
Don’t overlook opportunities.
Know your weaknesses. An undisputed genius, he was also deeply flawed

Face facts. All of us prefer illusion to unpleasant facts. Successful leaders learn to accept the truth.
When you do recognize your mistakes, don’t punish the world for them.

Next I read Thomas Edison the legendary inventor and businessman, known famously for finding 1,000+ ways that a light bulb did NOT work, before discovering the elements that did work.
“He invented the phonograph, the incandescent light, the Dictaphone, the mimeograph machine, the electric powerplant dynamo, motion pictures, and electric transmitters. Half a dozen years later, he formed the first electric company”

He suffered loss of hearing and was considered a dolt by his teachers, partly due to not being able to hear what was taught in the classroom. He later learned mostly from books.

With his wages, he bought more books, including Michael Faraday’s two-volume Experimental Researches in Electricity.

Like Edison, Faraday was born poor and was self-taught. Edison admired Faraday’s “selflessness” in devoting himself to science without concern for money or titles.

Here was a role model to emulate. To his roommate he announced his intentions: “I am now 21. I may live to be 50. Can I get as much done as he did? I have got so much to do, and life is so short. I am going to hustle.”

.. continued below

Comments for Reading: Great Leaders Series

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by: Anonymous

Edison was an ordinary-looking, fellow-next-door-type who had somehow captured speech and bottled it.

Later in 1888, Edison announced that he was "experimenting upon an instrument which does for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear, which is the recording and reproduction of things in motion. . . ."

* Be tenacious.
* Capitalize on your strengths.
* Seize every opportunity.
* Failure is not necessarily final; it may be opportunity in disguise.
* Shine the spotlight on your creations.

Finally today I'm reading about the modern legend Steve Jobs.

Jobs changed life in the United States and the world over with a set of high-tech devices that no one could have imagined. He shook up entire industries - from music and motion pictures to telecommunications.

He made Apple America’s most admired company and raised its market valuation to a stunning $278 billion by the time he died in 2011

Apart from being a propeller-head, he was also a believer in many New Age theories, religions and diets, for health and lifestyle, some of which may well have helped to shorten his life when he delayed conventional treatment for cancer.

As teens, Steve and his high-school friend Steve Wozniak set out to raise working capital by selling Jobs’ Volkswagen minibus and Wozniak’s programmable calculator. With that money, they launched Apple

Note: the very first computer I ever learned to use was the original Apple Macintosh, in 1990 and I loved my Mac for many years.

Jobs greatest gift was his exquisite eye for detail and simplicity of design with elegance.

It made all the later Apple products a beauty to behold while also a joy to operate.

Once again, I learn that Steve was not always a very likeable person – lol – a tyrant with staff and "imperious as ever with his people, berating or praising them as his whim dictated"

What is this theme about the legends of business ... they all seem to have dysfunctional personalities... high in IQ but low in EQ which is supposed to be a core ingredient essential for success in life???

"Steve Jobs’ record at Apple is by no means without flaws. Some of his projects have bombed or underperformed.

For all his flaws, Steve Jobs was certifiably a business genius. He was an icon"

* Excellence always. Excellence was Steve Jobs’ bottom line.
* Face facts. Jobs learned early that making beautiful devices pays off only if people want to buy them
* Challenge people. Back their play.
* Prepare. Innovate.
* Find the right team.
* Don’t follow the crowd.
* Never stop thinking about tomorrow. Steve Jobs had the gift of constant vigilance.

An interesting day’s reading for me.

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