Thursday, October 03, 2019

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell

Last year I finished 2 books that told the stories of Sillicon Valley startups in ways that I liked very much - The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This April another book came up but I couldn't make time to read it until now. I just finished the audiobook - Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle.

It's a great book on leadership, management and business in general based on the lessons from Bill Campbell. Bill was a former executive at Kodak and then Apple, and later became the CEO of Intuit. He was also an informal executive coach to many tech giant CEOs/COOs, including Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Sunder Pichai, Marissa Mayer, Dick Costolo, Dan Rosensweig, Donna Dubinsky, Sheryl Sandberg, Ben Horowitz, and many others. I am thinking of many of the lessons I am trying to internalize after reading this book. If you are a manager or are in any kind of leadership role, I highly recommend you reading it. And even if you are not, I would recommend the same.

Here are some of the quotes from the book that resonates with me.
  • Your title makes you manager, your people make you leader.
  • Pick the right players. The top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.
  • People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  • Keep note of the times when they give up things, and when they are excited for someone else’s success. Sundar notes that “sometimes decisions come up and people have to give up things. I overindex on those signals when people give something up. And also when someone is excited because something else is working well in the company. It isn’t related to them, but they are excited. I watch for that. Like when you see a player on the bench cheering for someone else on the team, like Steph Curry jumping up and down when Kevin Durant hits a big shot. You can’t fake that.
  • Winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams include more women.
  • Think that everyone who works for you is like your kids,” Bill once said. “Help them course correct, make them better.
  • Because the best person to be the team’s coach is the team’s manager. Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader. Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach. The path to success in a fast-moving, highly competitive, technology-driven business world is to form high-performing teams and give them the resources and freedom to do great things. And an essential component of high-performing teams is a leader who is both a savvy manager and a caring coach.
  • It’s a manager’s job to push the team to be more courageous. Courage is hard. People are naturally afraid of taking risks for fear of failure. It’s the manager’s job to push them past their reticence.
  • Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.
  • Failure is a good teacher, and Bill learned from these experiences that loyalty and commitment are easy when you are winning and much harder when you are losing. But that’s, as Dan’s story highlights, when loyalty, commitment, and integrity are even more important. When things are going badly, teams need even more of those characteristics from their leaders.
  • The world faces many challenges, and they can only be solved by teams. Those teams need coaches.
  • How do you bring people around and help them flourish in your environment? It’s not by being a dictator. It’s not by telling them what the hell to do. It’s making sure that they feel valued by being in the room with you. Listen. Pay attention. This is what great managers do.

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