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Trillion Dollar Coach by Bill Campbell by E. Schmidt, J. Rosenberg, and A. Eagle

June 23, 2020


Chapter 1: The Caddie and the CEO

The Trillion Dollar Coach

  • “In our previous book, How Google Works, we argue that there is a new breed of employee, the “smart creative,” who is critical to achieving this speed and innovation. The smart creative is someone who combines technical depth with business savvy and creates flair.”
  • “There is another, equally critical, factor for success in companies: teams that act as communities, integrating interests and putting aside differences to be individually and collectively obsessed with what’s good for the company.”
  • “…teams of people who subordinate individual performance to that of the group will generally outperform teams that don’t.”
  • “To balance the tension and mold a team into a community, you need a coach, someone who works not only with individuals but also with the team as a whole to smooth out the constant tension, continuously nurture the community…”
  • “Every sports team needs a coach, and the best coaches make good teams great. The same goes in business: any company that wants to succeed in a time where technology has suffused every industry and most aspects of consumer life, where speed and innovation are paramount, must have team coaching as part of its culture. Coaching is the best way to mold effective people into powerful teams.”
  • “Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach. You need to, according to a 1994 study, go beyond the ‘traditional notion of managing that focuses on controlling, supervising, evaluating, and rewarding/punishing’ to create a climate of communication, respect, feedback, and trust. All through coaching.”
  • “If you are a manager, executive, or any other kind of leader on teams, in any kind of business or organization, you can be more effective and help your team perform better (and be happier) by becoming the coach of that team. Bill Campbell’s principles have helped us, and many others do that”


Chapter 2: Your Title Makes You a Manager. Your People Make You a Leader

  • “A 1991 study finds that when a company is in the implementation stage of an innovation, they need managers to help coordinate resources and resolve conflicts. However, a 2005 study finds that creativity flourishes in environments, such as Broadway shows, that are more network-oriented than hierarchical. So, there’s always a tension between creativity and operational efficiency.”
  • You’ve got to be able to look at someone in a one-on-one and know how to help them course-correct. People who are successful run their companies well. They have good processes, they make sure their people are accountable, they know how to hire great people, how to evaluate them, and give them feedback, and they pay them well.”
  • “A comprehensive 2017 study on manufacturing plants across the United States found that ones that adopted performance-oriented management techniques, such as monitoring, targeting, and incentives, performed much better than other plants.”
  • “A 2012 study showed that in the video game industry, strong middle management accounted for 22 percent of the variance in revenue, while game creative design accounted for only 7 percent.”
  • “Bill felt that leadership was something that evolved as a result of management excellence. ‘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.”
  • “New managers soon learn… that when direct reports are told to do something, they don’t necessarily respond. In fact, the more talented the subordinate, the less likely she is to simply follow orders.”


It’s the People

  • People are the foundation of any company’s success. The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. We have great people who want to do well, are capable of doing great things, and come to work fired up to do them. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this environment through support, respect, and trust. Support means giving people the tools, information, training, and coaching they need to succeed. It means continuous effort to develop people’s skills. Great managers help people excel and grow. Respect means understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices. It means helping people achieve these career goals in a way that’s consistent with the needs of the company. Trust means freeing people to do their jobs and to make decisions. It means knowing people want to do well and believing that they will.
  • “Numerous academic studies, and constant executive platitudes, show that a company’s people should be treated as an asset. But executives often overlook a company’s management culture when they are looking for ways to improve performance.”
  • “Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how they are going to make someone else better. But that’s what coaches do.”


Start with Trip Reports

  • “Bill and Eric understood that there’s a direct correlation between fun work environments and higher performance, with conversations about family and fun (what academics might call ‘socioemotional communication’) being an easy way to achieve the former.”
  • “Even when you have clearly communicated something, it may take a few times to sink in. Repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer. In fact, a 2002 study from Southern Methodist University shows that knowing what to share and communicate and with whom is an important part of a manager’s job. Done right, this ‘knowledge commonality’ helps the team perform better and is well worth the time it requires.”
  • “’…get the 1:1 right’ and ‘get the staff meeting right’ are tops on the list of most important management principles.”
  • “’Use meetings to get everyone on the same page, get to the right debate, and make decisions.’ Most important issues cut across functions, but, more important, bringing them to the table in team meetings lets people understand what is going on in the other teams, and discussing them as a group helps develop understanding and build cross-functional strength.”
  • “…another study, from 2015, notes that more than 50 percent of study participants do not think that their meetings are an effective use of their time. This study covered all meetings, not just staff meetings, but still, it demonstrates that being thoughtful about preparing for staff meetings is an important management practice.”


Five Words on a Whiteboard

  • “Bill took great care in preparing for one-on-one meetings. Remember, he believed the most important thing a manager does is to help people be more effective and to grow and develop, and the 1:1 is the best opportunity to accomplish that.”
  • “From peer relationships, Bill would move on to teams. He always wanted to know, were we setting a clear direction for them, and constantly reinforcing it? Did we understand what they were doing? If they were off on something, we would discuss how we could correct them and get them back on track. ‘Think that everyone who works for you is like your kids,’ Bill once said. ‘Help them course correct, make them better.’”
  • “The tendency today is to have cascading emails, a senior person sending something to her staff, who write their own version to their people, and so on. Bill always counseled us to have one email, straight from the senior person, and over the years he practically perfected the art of writing those messages.”


Framework for 1:1s and Reviews

  • Performance on Job Requirements
    • Could be sales figures
    • Could be product delivery or product milestones
    • Could be customer feedback or product quality
    • Could be budget numbers
  • Relationship with Peer Groups
    • Product and Engineering
    • Marketing and Product
    • Sales and Engineering
  • Management/Leadership
    • Are you guiding/coaching your people?
    • Are you weeding out the bad ones?
    • Are you working hard at hiring?
    • Are you able to get your people to do heroic things?
  • Innovation (Best Practices)
    • Are you constantly moving ahead… thinking about how to continually get better?
    • Are you constantly evaluating new technologies, new products, new practices?
    • Do you measure yourself against the best in the industry/world?


The Throne Behind the Round Table

  • “…one of a manager’s main jobs is to facilitate decisions.”
  • “He believed in striving for the best idea, not consensus.”
  • “…the goal of consensus leads to ‘groupthink’ and inferior decisions. The way to get the best idea, he believed, was to get all the ideas and opinions out in the open, on the table for the group to discuss. Air the problem honestly, and make sure people have the opportunity to provide their authentic opinions, especially if they are dissenting.”
  • “To get those ideas on the table, Bill would often sit down with individuals before the meeting to find out what they were thinking. This enabled Bill to understand the different perspectives, but more importantly, it gave members of his tea the chance to come into the room prepared to talk about their point of view.”
  • “When a leader can get people past being passive-aggressive, then heated but honest arguments can happen.”
  • “Getting to the right answer is important, but having the whole team get there, is just as important.”
  • “A manager’s job is to break ties and make their people better.”
  • “Failure to make a decision can be just as damaging as a wrong decision. There’s indecision in business all the time, because there’s no perfect answer. Do something, even if its wrong.”
  • “following a good process and always prioritizing what is the right thing for the business rather than any individual.”
  • “…when you make the call, commit to it, and expect that everyone else will do so as well.”
  • “Bill counseled, then eight out of ten times people will reach the best conclusion on their own. But the other two times you need to make the hard decision and expect that everyone will rally around it.”


Lead-Based on First Principles

  • “When you are a manager trying to move your team toward making a decision, the room will be rife with opinions. Bill always counseled us to try to cut through those opinions and get to the heart of the matter.”
  • “You can argue opinions, but you generally can’t argue principles, since everyone has already agreed upon them.”


Manage the Aberrant Genius

  • “You get these quirky guys or women who are going to be great differentiators for you. It is your job to manage that person in a way that doesn’t disrupt the company. They have to be able to work with other people, if they can’t, you need to let them go. They need to work in an environment where they collaborate with other people.”
  • “…invest that energy in trying as hard as possible to coach them past their aberrant behavior.”
  • Never put up with people who cross ethical lines: lying, lapses of integrity or ethics, harassing or mistreating colleagues. In a way, these are easier cases, since the decision is so clear-cut. The harder cases are the ones where the person doesn’t cross these lines.”
  • “Does the aberrant genius break team communications?”
  • “Does the aberrant genius suck up too much management time?”
  • “…if you are spending hours upon hours controlling the damage, that’s a good sign it has gone too far.”
  • “Does the aberrant genius have her priorities straight?”
  • “What can’t be tolerated is when the aberrant genius continually puts him – or herself above the team.”
  • “Does the aberrant genius seek too much attention and self-promotion? Bill wasn’t a fan of media attention and mistrusted the motivation of people who sought too much of it. Publicity is fine if it’s in the service of the company, and indeed, that is part of the CEO’s job. But if you are the CEO and someone on your team is consistently seeking coverage, that a warning sign.”


Money’s Not About Money

  • “Compensation isn’t just about the economic value of the money; it’s about the emotional value. It’s a signaling device for recognition, respect, and status, and it ties people strongly to the goals of the company.”


Innovation is Where the Crazy People Have Stature

  • “The purpose of a company is to take the vision you have of the product and bring it to life… Then you put all the other components around it – finances, sales, marketing – to get the product out the door and make sure it’s successful.”
  • “The ultimate objective of product teams is to create a great product-market fit. If you have the right product for the right market at the right time, then go full steam ahead.”
  • “If you have the right product for the right market at the right time, go as fast as you can.”


Heads Held High

  • “…letting people go is a failure of management, not one of any of the people who are being let go. So, it is important for management to let people leave with their heads held high.”
  • “…treating the departing people well is important for the morale and well-being of the remaining team.”
  • “Laid-off employees care about who is doing the layoffs, and how good an explanation they get. Doing layoffs properly has a positive impact on both the people being laid off and the people who stay on with the company.”
  • “…you must let people leave with their heads held high.”

Bill on Boards

  • “A good, effective board can be a tremendous asset to a company, while a weak one just sucks up time. Getting this right matters, whether or not you are a CEO”
  • “CEO manages the board and board meetings, not the other way around. Board meetings fail when the CEO doesn’t own and follow her agenda.”
  • “The first order of business always needs to be a frank, open, succinct discussion about how the company is performing.”
  • “…board members who don’t do their homework shouldn’t stick around.”
  • “In our board meetings at Google, Bill always pushed Eric to ensure that the operations review included a thorough set of highlights and lowlights. Here’s what we did well and what we’re proud of; here’s what we didn’t do so well. The highlights were always easy to compile; teams love dressing up their best successes and presenting them to the board. But the lowlights, not so much. It can take some prodding to make teams be completely frank about where they are falling short, and indeed, Eric often rejected an initial draft of the board lowlights for not being honest enough.”
  • “A 2002 Harvard Business Review article notes that a ‘virtuous cycle of respect, trust, and candor’ is one thing that makes ‘great boards great.’”
  • “A company that is honest with its board can be honest with itself, too; people learn that not only is it okay to frankly share bad news, it’s expected.”
  • “…operational excellence, putting people first, being decisive, communicating well, knowing how to get the most out of even the most challenging people, focusing on product excellence, and treating people well when they are let go.”


Chapter 3: Build an Envelope of Trust

  • “…the most important currency in a relationship – friendship, romantic, familial, or professional – is trust.”
  • “Trust means you keep your word.”
  • “Trust means loyalty.”
  • “Trust means integrity.”
  • “Trust means discretion.”
  • “…trust doesn’t mean you always agree; in fact, it makes it easier to disagree with someone.”
  • “A slew of academic research bears out what Bill intuitively knew – not just that trust is important, but that it is the first thing to create if you want a relationship to be successful.”
  • “Most businesspeople, when they meet, get right to the task at hand. There’s stuff to do!”
  • “In our world, the attitude is often first to prove to me how smart you are, then maybe I’ll trust you, or at least your intellect. Bill took a different, more patient approach. He started relationships by getting to know the person, beyond their resume and skill set.”
  • “Establishing trust is a key component in building what is now called ‘psychological safety’ in teams. Team psychological safety, according to a 1999 Cornell study, is a ‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking… a team climate… in which people are comfortable being themselves.’”
  • The best teams are the ones with the most psychological safety. And that starts with trust.”


Only Coach the Coachable

  • “There was no room in this formula for smart alecks and their hubris.”
  • “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”Tom Landry
  • “Coaches need to learn how self-aware a coachee is; they need to not only understand the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses, but also understand how well the coachee understands his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Where are they honest with themselves, and where are their blind spots? And then it is a coach’s job to raise that self-awareness further and to help them see the flaws they don’t see for themselves.”
  • “Bill’s opposition to bullshitters wasn’t as much about their dishonesty with others as it was about their dishonesty with themselves. To be coachable, you need to be brutally honest, starting with yourself.”
  • “People who generate a lot of BS aren’t coachable. They start to believe what they are saying. They shade the truth to conform to their BS, which makes the BS even more dangerous.”


Practice Free-Form Listening

  • “In a coaching session with Bill, you could expect that he would listen intently. No checking his phone for texts or email, no glancing at his watch or out the window while his mind wandered. He was always right there.”
  • “People perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight.”
  • “A 2003 study from Lund University in Sweden finds that ‘mundane, almost trivial’ things like listening and chatting with employees are important aspects of successful leadership, because ‘people feel more respected, visible and less anonymous, and included in teamwork. And a 2016 paper finds that this form of ‘respectful inquiry,’ where the leader asks open questions and listens attentively to the response, is effective because it heightens the ‘followers’ feelings of competence (feeling challenged and experiencing mastery), relatedness (feeling of belonging), and autonomy (feeling in control and having options).”


No Gap Between Statement and Fact

  • “Bill was always transparent; there was no hidden agenda. There was no gap between his statements and facts. They were always the same.”
  • “Former Googler Kim Scott, the author of the excellent book Radical Candor, says that being a great boss means ‘saying what you really think in a way that still lets people know you care.’”
  • “Many managers wait until performance reviews to provide feedback, which is often too little, too late. Bill’s feedback was in the moment (or very close to it), task-specific, and always followed by a grin and a hug, all of which helped remove the sting.”


Don’t Stick it in Their Ears

  • “…he usually would not tell you what to do. He believed that managers should not walk in with an idea and ‘stick it in their ear.’ Don’t tell people what to do, tell them stories about why they are doing it.”
  • “a good coach doesn’t hide the stuff that’s hard to talk about – in fact, a good coach will draw this out. He or she gets at the hard stuff.”
  • “You want to be supportive and demanding, holding high standards and expectations but giving the encouragement necessary to reach them. Basically, it’s tough love.”


Be the Evangelist for Courage

  • “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.”
  • “…be the person who gives energy, not one who takes it away.”


Full Identity Front and Center

  • “Bill had some experience with feeling out of place. Yet he was always fully himself, and he expected no less than that from the people he coached. He felt that when people could be so authentic as to bring their full selves to work, they would be more respected by their colleagues, and would appreciate it more when others did the same.”
  • “He gave, and demanded, complete candor. And he was an evangelist for courage, by showing inordinate confidence and setting aspirations high.”


Chapter 4: Team First

  • “’ You can only really succeed and accomplish things through the collective, the common purpose,’ Lee C. Bollinger says”
  • “Bill’s guiding principle was that the team is paramount, and the most important thing he looked for and expected in people was a ‘team-first’ attitude. Teams are not successful unless every member is loyal and will, when necessary, subjugate their personal agenda to that of the team.”


Work the Team, then the Problem

  • “As managers, we tend to focus on the problem at hand. What is the situation? What are the issues? What are the options? And so on. These are valid questions, but the coach’s instinct is to lead with a more fundamental one. Who was working on the problem? Was the right team in place? Did they have what they needed to succeed?”


Pick the Right Players

  • “Everybody that is managing a function on behalf of the CEO ought to be better at that functioning than the CEO.”
  • “Bill looked for four characteristics in people. The person has to be smart, not necessarily academically but more from the standpoint of being able to get up to speed quickly in different areas and then make connections.  The person has to work hard and has to have high integrity. Finally, the person should have that hard-to-define characteristic: grit.”
  • “But how do you know when you have found such a person? Keep note of the times when they give up things, and when they are excited about someone else’s success.”
  • “The most effective coaches tolerate and even encourage some level of eccentricity and ‘prickliness’ among their team members. Outstanding performers, from athletes to founders to business executives are often ‘difficult.’ You want them on your team.”
  • “you need to pay a lot of attention to the team composition and have a diverse set of different talents smartly woven together. All people have their limitations; what’s important is to understand them individually, to identify what makes them different, and then to see how you can help them mesh with the rest of the team. Bill appreciated high cognitive abilities, but he also understood the value of soft skills, like empathy, that aren’t always valued in businesses.”
  • “He did not overemphasize experience. He looked at skills and mindset, and he could project what you could become.”
  • “…as Stanford professor, Carol Dweck points out in her 2006 book, Mindset, someone’s true potential is unknowable, since ‘it’s impossible to foresee that can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.’ But even without that accuracy, you can bet on potential enough to avoid writing off people solely because they lack experience. The general tendency is to hire for experience: I’m hiring for job X, so I want someone who has years of experience doing job X. If you are creating a high-performing team and building for the future, you need to hire for potential as well as experience.”
  • “Picking the right players can also entail reconsidering who else within the company should be on the team.”


Pair People

  • “Take a couple of people who don’t usually work together, assign them a task, project, or decision, and let them work on it on their own. This develops trust between the two people, usually regardless of the nature of the work.”


The Peer Feedback Survey

  • Core Attributes
    • For the past 12 months, to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person: 
      • Displayed extraordinary in-role performance.
      • Exemplified world-class leadership.
      • Achieved outcomes that were in the best interest of both Google as a whole and his/her organization.
      • Expanded the boundaries of what is possible for Google through innovation and/or application of best practices.
      • Collaborated effectively with peers (for example, worked well together, resolved barriers/issues with others), and championed the same in his/her team.
      • Contributed effectively during senior team meetings (for example, was prepared, participated actively, listened well, was open and respectful to others, disagreed constructively).
  • Product Leader Attributes
    • For the past 12 months, to what extent do you agree/disagree that each person demonstrated exemplary leadership in the following areas:
      • Product Vision
      • Product Quality
      • Product Execution
  • Open-Text Questions
    • What differentiates each SVP and makes him/her effective today?
    • What advice would you give each SVP to be more effective and/or have a greater impact?


Get to the Table

  • “…on the most effective teams everyone contributes rather than one or two people dominating discussions, people on those teams are better at reading complex emotional states, and… the teams have more women.”
  • “…a 2017 Harvard Business Review article notes that sometimes members of minority groups hesitate to bring other members of that group into their organizations because they don’t want to be perceived as giving special treatment, and they worry that the people they bring in might not ‘make the grade.’”


Solve the Biggest Problem

  • “’ With Bill, there was never an elephant in the room.’ Or, more accurately, there might have been an elephant, but it wasn’t hiding in the corner. Bill wouldn’t allow that. He brought the thing front and center.”
  • “Bill’s approach, Shona says, was always to tackle the hardest problem first. ‘You have to address that first.’”
  • “A litmus test for when issues have simmered for too long, a way to spot the elephant, is if the team can’t even have honest conversations about them. This is where the coach comes in, as a ‘tension spotter.’”
  • “’…beat the politics out of the situation’ by bringing up the problem clearly, then forcing everyone to focus on it.”


Don’t Let the Bitch Sessions Last

  • “’When it gets to the negative, get it out, get to the issues, but don’t let the damn meeting dwell on that. Don’t let bitch sessions last for very long.’ Psychologists would call this approach ‘problem-focused coping,’ in contrast to ‘emotion-focused coping.’”
  • “Negative situations can be infectious, people get cynical, optimism fades.”
  • “Studies show that positive leadership makes it easier to solve problems, so Bill would praise teams and people, give them a hug, and clap them on the shoulder to boost their confidence and comfort. Then, when he asked the tough questions, everyone understood that he was on their side, and that he was pushing on things because he wanted them to be better, to be successful.”



  • “You can’t talk about coaching – or leading a company – without talking about winning.”
  • “…winning wasn’t everything to Bill. Winning right was.”


Leaders Lead

  • “…loyalty and commitment are easy when you are winning and much harder when you are losing.”
  • “When things are going badly, teams need even more of those characteristics from their leaders.”
  • “Decisiveness also becomes more important in challenging situations”
  • “…when you’re losing, recommit to the cause.’


Fill the Gaps Between People

  • “It happens every day: the off-hand comment, the quickly drafted email or text, and people careen off in emotional directions way out of whack with reality. This is when a coach can really come in handy.”
  • “So, what would Bill do? First, he would listen and observe. This is the power of coaching in general: the ability to offer a different perspective, one unaffected by being ‘in the game.’”
  • “Bill was ‘the shadow behind you. You hear him, but you are the one in front. He could be less confined, more genuine if he was in the background.’”
  • “This was all done without an agenda. Bill often didn’t voice an opinion about which way a decision would go – he just pushed for the decision to be made.”


Permission to be Empathetic

  • “Bill’s approach was to make the human connection first, then approach the work with that understanding.”
  • “The essence of Bill was the essence of just about any sports coach: team first. All players, from stars to scrubs, must be ready to place the needs of the team above the needs of the individual.”
  • “Get the team right and you’ll get the issue right.”


Chapter 5: The Power of Love

  • “Academic studies point out that there is a ‘compensation effect’ between warmth and competence: people tend to assume that people who are warm are incompetent and those who are cold, competent. This, of course, was not the case with Bill”
  • “Which means that you should lead with warmth but know that you might have to work just a bit harder to build your reputation for competency.”
  • “…an organization full of the type of ‘companionate love’ that Bill demonstrated (caring, affection) will have higher employee satisfaction and teamwork, lower absenteeism, and better team performance.”


Top Ten ‘Billisms’

  1. “You should have that shirt cleaned and burned.”
  2. “You’re as dumb as a post.”
  3. “He’s one of the great horse’s asses of our time.
  4. “You’re a numbnuts.”
  5. “You couldn’t run a five-flat forty-yard dash off a cliff.”
  6. “You’ve got hands like feet.”
  7. “You’d fuck up a free lunch.”
  8. “You’re so fucked up you make me look good.”
  9. “Don’t fuck it up.”
  10. “That’s the sound of your head coming out of your ass.”


The Lovely Reset

  • “Bill cared about people. He treated everyone with respect, he learned their names, he gave them a warm greeting. He cared about their families, and his actions in this regard spoke more loudly than his words.”
  • “Bill learned the names of the salespeople, always greeted them warmly, and treated everyone with respect, as equals. ‘He acted the same way with the store associates as he did with the people on the Apple board.’”
  • “Bill showed me that when you have a friend who is injured or ill or needs you in some way, you drop everything and just go. That’s what you do, that’s how you really show up. That’s what Bill would do. Just go.”
  • “’You have to take the time to smell the roses, and the roses are your people,’ he says. ‘Recognize that people want to talk to you about other things than just the job.”
  • “Compassion isn’t just good, it’s good for business, and a 2004 paper argues that compassion at an individual level, such as when Bill and Mark demonstrated, can turn into ‘organizational compassion’ when team members collectively notice, feel, and respond to pain experienced by team members.”


The Percussive Clap

  • “Don’t just sit on your but in the seat. Get up and support the teams, show the love for the work they are doing.”


Always Build Communities

  • “The common thread with all these trips? Community. Bill built community instinctively. He knew that a place was much stronger when people were connected.”
  • “With all the trips Bill took with people, the trips were not the goal of the communities, the communities were the goal of the trips. It was all about making enduring connections between people, generating what sociologists call ‘social capital.’”
  • “Invest in creating real, emotional bonds between people. Those things are what endure and what makes teams truly strong.”



  • “Bill believed in doing favors for people. He was generous, he liked to help people, so when he could call on a friend to help the CEO of YouTube get into an event at which she absolutely belonged, he did it without hesitation. And it wasn’t just fellow executives he helped.”
  • “Most of the time, these little gifts were what Adam Grant, crediting businessman Adam Rifkin in his book, Give and Take, calls ‘five-minute favors.’ They are easy for the person doing the favor, requiring minimal personal cost, but means a lot to the recipient.”
  • “’…being an effective giver isn’t about dropping everything every time for every person. It’s about making sure that the benefits of helping others outweigh the cost to you.’ People who do this well are ‘self-protective givers.’ They are ‘generous, but they know their limits.”
  • “We learned from Bill that it’s okay to help people. Do favors. Apply judgment in making sure that they are the right thing to do and ensure that everyone will be better off as a result.”


Love the Founders

  • “Too often we think about running a company as an operating job, and as we have already examined, Bill considered operational excellence to be very important. But when we reduce company leadership to its operational essence, we negate another very important component.”
  • “…love the founders, and ensure they stay engaged in a meaningful way regardless of their operating role.”


The Elevator Chat

  • “Bill made it okay to bring love to the workplace. He created a culture of what people who study these things call ‘companionate’ love: feelings of affection, compassion, caring and tenderness for others. He did this by genuinely caring about people and their lives outside of work, by being an enthusiastic cheerleader, by building communities, by doing favors and helping people whenever he could, and by keeping a special place in his heart for founders and entrepreneurs.”


Chapter 6: The Yardstick

  • “…it is often the highest-performing people who feel the most alone. They usually have more interdependent relationships but feel more independent and separate from others. Their powerful egos and confidence help drive their success by may be paired with insecurities and uncertainty. They often have people who want to be their friends for personal gain rather than for friendship. They’re human. They still need affirmation and to know they are appreciated.”
  • “To be successful, companies need to have teams that work together as communities, where individuals integrate their interests and put aside differences to be individually and collectively obsessed with what’s good and right for the company. Since this doesn’t naturally happen among groups of people, especially high-performing, ambitious people, you need someone playing the role of a coach, a team coach, to make it happen.”
  • “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.”
  • “He had a thoughtful and consistent approach to communications. He prized decisiveness…”
  • “He understood that relationships are built on trust, so he prioritized building trust and loyalty with the people he worked with. He listened completely, was relentlessly candid, and believed in his people more than they believed in themselves. He thought that the team was paramount, insisted on team-first behavior, and when faced with any issue his first step was to look at the team, not the problem. He sought out the biggest problems, the elephants in the room, and brought them front and center, ensuring they got looked at first. He worked behind the scenes”
  • “Bill grasped that there are things we all care about as people – love, family, money, attention, power, meaning, purpose – that are factors in any business situation. That to create effective teams, you need to understand and pay attention to these human values. They are part of who we all are, regardless of our age, level, or status.”


The What Next? Decision

  • Be creative. Your post-fifty years should be your most creative time. You have the wisdom of experience and freedom to apply it where you want. Avoid metaphors such as you are on the ‘back nine.’ This denigrates the impact you can have.
  • Don’t Be a Dilettante. Don’t just do a portfolio of things. Whatever you get involved with, have accountability and consequence. Drive it.
  • Find People Who Have Vitality. Surround yourself with them; engage with them. Often, they will be younger.
  • Apply Your Gifts. Figure out what you are uniquely good at, what sets you apart. And understand the things inside you that give you a sense of purpose. Then apply them.”
  • Don’t Waste Time Worrying About the Future. Allow serendipity to play a role. Most of the turning points in life cannot be predicted or controlled.”