- Extreme Focus: “Peter required that everyone be tasked with exactly one priority. He would refuse to discuss virtually anything else with you except what was currently assigned as your #1 initiative.”
- Dedication to individual accomplishment: “Most great innovations at PayPal were driven by one person who then conscripted others to support, adopt, implement the new idea.”
- Refusal to accept constraints, external or internal: ”We were expected to pursue our #1 priority with extreme dispatch (NOW) and vigor. To borrow an apt phrase, employees were expected to “come to work every day willing to be fired, to circumvent any order aimed at stopping your dream.”“
- Radical transparency on metrics: “All employees were expected to be facile with the metrics driving the business. Otherwise, how could one expect each employee to make rational calculations and decisions on their own every day?”
- Vigorous debate: often via email. Almost every important issue had champions and critics. These were normally resolved not by official edict but by a vigorous debate that could be very intense.
There’s a whole book (linked to in the article) with the basic premise that there are 2 types of motivations:
"If you are promotion-focused, you want to advance and avoid missed opportunities. If you are prevention-focused, you want to minimize losses and keep things working."
"For a promotion-focused person, what’s really “bad” is a non-gain: a chance not taken, a reward unearned, a failure to advance. They would rather say Yes! and have it blow up in their faces than feel like they let Opportunity’s knock go unanswered."
"But for the prevention-focused, the ultimate “bad” is a loss you failed to stop: a mistake made, a punishment received, a danger you failed to avoid. They would much prefer to say No! to an opportunity, rather than end up in hot water."
- "Take as much time as you need to get product one right, and to prove it—because if you don’t, no one is going to be waiting on pins and needles for product two."
- "You know where I’m going: Ralph Lauren and a tie, Diane Von Furstenberg and a wrap dress, Potbelly and a heated sandwich, Theory and a women’s pant, Tory Burch and a ballet flat, Kate Spade and a handbag, Google and an “I’m feeling lucky” button, Warby Parker and a pair of glasses…"
- "Usually this initial group of users is small, for the simple reason that if there were something that large numbers of people urgently needed and that could be built with the amount of effort a startup usually puts into a version one, it would probably already exist. Which means you have to compromise on one dimension: you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter. Not all ideas of that type are good startup ideas, but nearly all good startup ideas are of that type." -Paul Graham
- "So how do you build a brand in the digital age? My belief is you do it with a narrow and deep story about what you are doing, and that what you are doing requires a high net promoter score—a high-level of customer-to-customer recommendation."
Choice quotes from Ev Williams:
1. “Even if they’re awesome, having too big of a team will slow you down… Capable people need meaty challenges. There are no meaty challenges in the very beginning except defining what it is exactly (or approximately) you’re doing. That’s a job you can’t divide up too finely.”
2. “Nothing clarifies focus like a date. (Or: If you don’t have a tough constraint, make one up.)”
3. “Getting something out the door was key also because it clarified our vision and focus more. We were making fewer guesses—not because of explicit user feedback and data analysis as much as just observing and experiencing real-world usage.
Ian McAllister’s answer: Here’s one very simple way. Send the employee a thank you email and CC their manager. In the email, tell the employee you’d like to thank them, referencing the specific work they did, and explain why it was an excellent demonstration of one or more specific competencies…
1. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
2. The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen (Interestingly, the only business book Steve Jobs ever liked was The Innovator’s Dilemma, by the same author.)
3. The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
Bezos is not the only one to nudge execs to read. Tim Cook, CEO at Apple, gives copies of Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition is Reshaping Global Markets to his colleagues.
- Delight me in surprising ways
- Real objects are more fun than buttons and menus
- Let me make it mine
- Get to know me
Simplify My Life
- Keep it Brief
- Pictures are faster than words
- Decide for me but let me have the final say
- Only show what I need when I need it
- I should always know where I am
- Never lose my stuff
- If it looks the same, it should act the same
- Only interrupt me if it’s important
Make Me Amazing
- Give me tricks that work everywhere
- It’s not my fault
- Sprinkle encouragement
- Do the heavy lifting for me
- Make important things fast
- Idea of A’s and O’s, here are my accomplishments and here are my objectives
- Don’t say “My goal is…” Instead, say “I commit to…”
- Knowing a business at its core: “One way that I model behavior is that I have a good nose for problems. I think it’s important that the C.E.O. understand the business at its very core. I cannot run a company where I don’t understand in my gut what’s going on or what’s important, whether it’s about manufacturing, R.& D., marketing or sales.”
- On hiring: “How driven are you? What do you do with adversity? I don’t want to know about the worst day of your life, but let’s talk about something where you really felt uncomfortable. I also want to talk about the people you’ve hired. That tells me, indirectly, about leadership, and it also tells me about judgment and what kind of team that person could build.”
Why do businesses evaluate candidates solely on past job performance, failing to consider the job’s difficulty? Why do university admissions officers focus on high GPAs, discounting influence of easy grading standards? Francesca Gino and colleagues investigate the phenomenon of the fundamental attribution error.
- "Across all our studies, the results suggest that experts take high performance as evidence of high ability and do not sufficiently discount it by the ease with which that performance was achieved"
- "…admissions officers tend to pick a candidate who performed well on easy tasks rather than a candidate who performed less well at difficult tasks"
- "In the meantime, staying mindful of the fundamental attribution error can, if only in hindsight, provide a humbling reminder of the limits to human perception, and perhaps—with enough reinforcement—teach us not to make the same mistake twice."