POWER POINTS: The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time by Verne Harnish and the editors of Fortune










In this book, Harnish, and the editors of Fortune Magazine review gutsy, paradigm changing decisions by business leaders. While you may not agree with their collection and order of priority, it is indisputable that these decisions were game-changers for not just industries in particular, but business in general.

***The foreword by Jim Collins is worth the price of the book!


From the foreword by Jim Collins:

  • We think of most decisions as matters of “what”. In fact, the most successful leaders see their best decisions not as “what” but “who.” “They were people decisions.”


  • The future… the world… is uncertain. “What is the key thing you can do to prepare for that uncertainty? You can have the right people with you.”


  • “Once you have great people in place, you still have to make decisions. Great decisions begin with really great people and a simple statement: I don’t know.”


  • The leaders who made great decisions are “really very comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know’ until they knew.”


  • “To create an environment where ideas flow freely, you have to recognize that your position can be a hindrance to getting the best information. And so can your personality.”


  • Decision-making is not about consensus. It depends on conflict, and that’s the key. […] The debate is real. It is real, violent, debate in search of understanding. Then in the end the leader makes the call. It’s conflict and debate leading to an executive decision. No major decision we’ve studied was ever taken at a point of unanimous agreement. There was always some disagreement in the air.”


  • Great decisions are made when you intersect the external reality (what is true about the world) and your internal drive (what do we value? What do we really want? What is driving us?)


  • “If you look at some of the greatest decisions in business history, the executives had the discipline to manage for the quarter-century, not the quarter.”

And now the book…

The greatest decisions (these are the chapter titles, but they identify the decision… it’s worth doing a little research on each of these.)

  1. Apple brings back Steve Jobs 
  2. How free shipping saved Zappos
  3. Why Samsung lets its stars goof off
  4. At Johnson and Johnson, the shareholders come last
  5. Why daydreaming pays off big at 3M
  6. How Intel got consumers to love chips
  7. Jack’s GE cathedral
  8. Bill Gates decides to take a week off
  9. Softsoap’s blocking decision
  10. Toyota pursues zero defects
  11. Extreme customer service at Nordstrom
  12. Tata takes the sting out of a painful situation
  13. Boeing bets big on the 707
  14. IBM’s operation bear hug
  15. Wal-Mart creates the 6 a.m. meeting
  16. Eli Whitney: is your business in trouble? pivot!
  17. The HP Way
  18. Henry Ford doubles worker’s wages
  • “It’s often the simple things that break open entire industries.”


  • “The decisions that make or break companies are often cobbled together on the fly.” (Zappos decision to offer free shipping and free returns)


  • “If you can take something standard and make it feel personalized, that’s great customer experience.” (Right now Casey Graham’s business, Gravy, is doing a GREAT job at this)


  • Johnson and Johnson’s reaction to crisis “Reveal all you know fast and do everything necessary to take care of your customers.”


  • Johnson and Johnson’s CEO James Burke acted quickly and decisively during the Tylenol crisis. Jim Collins writes, “Burke’s real defining moment occurred three years before, when he pulled 20 key executives into a room and thumped his finger on a copy of the J&J credo.” Out of that meeting came a recommitment to live the creed always. The “Tylenol Crisis” was a public demonstration of a private commitment.


  • 3M allows workers to spend up to 15% of their time on their own projects. They have discovered that 30% of revenue comes from products less than five years old.


  • “Trying to push creative people doesn’t work. They aren’t pushed. They’re driven.”


  • “When people expect their work to be judged by others, it is less creative than if they’re doing it solely for themselves. […] knowing that they’re being watched results in less creativity.”


  • “You can’t aim to be the best in the world with cinderblock cells. You had to have a beautiful symbol of excellence.” Jack Welch talking about the expensive facilities at Crotonville.


  • Small groups can win over large groups if/when they find and control the bottleneck in the process. (see the story of Softsoap).


  • “Deming believed that top management was responsible for 85% of all defects and stressed the need for appreciation of the individual worker. ‘The worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top” (Edward Deming).


  • Break down barriers and drive out fear so that the “top” can hear from the “bottom.”


  • “We are regret-minimizing machines. The pain of making a bad decision far outweighs the satisfaction of making a good decision on the same scale.” (Regret avoidance).


  • “We value something that we own more highly than we value the same thing if we don’t own it.” (The endowment effect) “Ordinary items become treasured possessions once we own them, and the longer we own them, the more treasured they become.”


  • “Operation Bear Hug” – Lou Gerstner’s 100 day strategy when he took over at IBM – listen to people… understand their needs and dreams… build your leadership platform around that understanding.


  • “Keep your minimum-wage employees happy, and your customers will be happy – and then your investors will be happy.”


  • Eli Whitney – “envisioned an entire system for transforming a craft performed by skilled artisans into a process performed by unskilled workers.” The key was to create a process whereby “each worker would do just one thing.”


  • “As long as I live I want to pay the highest wages in the automobile industry.” Henry Ford

The greatest business decisions have been people decisions… decisions to listen to, empower, liberate, resource, communicate with, and trust PEOPLE!!!

POWER POINTS: The Trust Protocol by Mac Richard

In an easy-to-read format, Richard dissects trust, tells how to gain it, keep it, and use it to lead well, help others, and leave something behind when you’re gone. (click on the picture of the book to see it on Amazon).


  • The “Trust Protocol” = Aligning what you say and do so that people will trust you.


  • Hebrews 10:24 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” While this sounds simple, it may be the most difficult thing in the world to do. It guarantees “difficulty, hurt, heartache, disappointment, misunderstanding, restlessness, doubt, uncertainty, trauma, drama, and anger. It is most difficult where it is most crucial – with the people closest to you.


  • “I love you, but I will fire you.” Mac’s friend and employer said this to him when Mac was not living up to his full potential. He was coasting and his boss called it. Then his boss said this, “I can’t keep paying you just because you’re a good guy. You’ve got too much talent, and we’ve got too much to do for me to let you get by without producing something and being a contributor around here. You’ve got great potential, but from now on, potential is profanity for you. All it means is that you haven’t done anything yet.”


  • “Relationships are unavoidable. Relationships of integrity are invincible.”


  • True character is revealed through success. “When we win, do we worship God or congratulate ourselves?”


  • “No one moves away from godly community and healthy connectedness and becomes more like Jesus.”


  • “Never spend a minute of time defending your motives. Spend hours testing them against Scripture, in prayer, and with godly counsel, but don’t worry about defending them. With friends you don’t need to, and your enemies won’t believe you.”


  • Trust is built on two tracks: character and competence.


  • “Mishonesty” – not quite “dishonesty” but still deliberately misleading.


  • “Betrayal is part of the cost of leadership and being part of the human race.” General Tommy Franks answered Mac’s question about betrayal like this, “There’s only been one perfect leader in this world. And I am not him. And he experienced betrayal at a level I cannot imagine. If he would be betrayed, who am I to think it shouldn’t or wouldn’t happen to me?”


  • “The only person who can betray us is someone we’ve chosen to trust who has chosen to break that trust. […] Whenever we choose to trust, we run the risk of betrayal.” 


  • “If you trust, if you love, if you lead, you will be betrayed.”


  • How to address betrayal? Forgiveness. This does not require “re-trusting” but it does mean that we release any bitterness, contempt, disdain, and desire for revenge… “regardless of whether or not they acknowledge the wrong.”


  • “Don’t stay hurt too long.” We can’t control WHEN we are hurt, but we can, to a large extent, determine HOW LONG we will stay hurt.


  • The better your work and the more responsible your decisions, the more autonomy you will be granted. However, if your work is sloppy and your decisions are irresponsible, you will be micromanaged. 


  • “We have to be able to do relationships well if we’re going to do anything of value and substance over time.”


  • Some people argue that “transparency is the currency of trust.” That certainly is part of the Trust Protocol, but Richard argues that “most of our relationships are not built to sustain the weight of transparency. And we should not expect them to be. What we should expect is authenticity.” In other words, everyone doesn’t need to know everything, but everyone does deserve truth. The guiding principle: “authentic with everyone, transparent with a precious few.”


  • “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NLT). “All I can do” is all I can do… it turns out that “all I can do” is quite a lot! 


  • Unaddressed problems don’t go away… they get bigger and messier.


  • Often we avoid confrontation and difficult conversations because we imagine what the other person is going to say and how they will respond. In light of our hypothetical conversation we determine not to have the conversation… consequently things get worse. Bottom line… no matter what, we have to try.


  • “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” Winston Churchill


  • “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” Vince Lombardi. A weary person is much less likely to address conflict… and consequently breaks the Trust Protocol.


  • The best teachers, coaches, etc. in our lives have PUSHED US! But… we allowed them to push us because we TRUSTED them. We knew they loved us and were doing it for our good.


  • “If you care, you push, you challenge, you critique. If you don’t care, you let things slide. You ignore or disregard or overlook.”


  • Accountability is only as effective as the amount of trust we have in the person holding us accountable. If we trust them we will be honest and reveal what is true even when painful or embarrassing. If we do not trust them, we will hold back the “ugly stuff” and do just enough accountability to check the box.


  • “Should I trust before or after I’ve seen evidence that someone is trustworthy based on their actions?” When you choose to trust, in most instances, trust will be reciprocated. However, there will be times when you get burned… betrayed…. Live with that awareness, choose to trust, and remember you are not entitled to integrity from other people.”


  • “How many can you do when you’re tired?” A question posed to Mac by his Crossfit coach when he was doing pushups after a fatiguing workout. Ask this question when you’re tired and your child wants to cuddle… when you’re tired and tempted… when you’re ready to bail on your dream…


  • Community… we want it, we need it, we seek it… but we also want to be comfortable and easy… and “therein lies the rub.” Healthy community will push us, make us uncomfortable, call us out of our comfort zone! “To truly connect relationally requires a willingness to dig in and hang on.”


  • “I’ve never seen anyone, any family, move away from the church and get better.”


  • “No team or organization will ever out-trust its leadership.”


  • Staying power is perhaps the most beautiful and most powerful payoff of the Trust Protocol. It’s not the power to stay. It’s the power that comes from staying. It’s the power that’s cultivated when we choose to stay – in a marriage, a job, a church, a friendship – and is only realized and experienced after the staying has occurred.


  • “Perseverance may be the most critical life skill we parents ever teach our kids.”


  • Our job as parents is to “prepare our kids for the path, and not the path for our kids.”


  • “Are you competent and do you care?” The two questions Soldiers are quietly asking of officers (according to General Robert Caslen)

Seven Decisions

7Last week I bought two new books: The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell and The Seven Decisions (Understanding the Keys to Personal Success) by Andy Andrews.

I’ve started reading “The Seven Decisions” and already realize, “this is one of those books that will be read and re-read!” Andy Andrews does an amazing job of crystallizing the keys to personal development!

What I love so much about this book is Andy’s personal story!

When he was 19 he lost his mother to cancer, and shortly thereafter his dad died in a car accident! Reeling from this one-two punch, Andy began making bad decisions that resulted in him being homeless… living under a bridge!

During his period of homelessness he did odd jobs, but had lots of free time. Much of that free time was spent in a library… where he started reading the stories of successful men and women.

As he read his “self-pity turned to passion” because he noticed something… these men and women had some themes in common! Andy began to practice these principles… and his life began to change! Now he is a New York Times best selling author who writes about these commonalities!

After reading literally hundreds of biographies and autobiographies he has identified seven common practices of successful men and women, and in his book “The Seven Decisions” he identifies and explains them in detail!

I strongly encourage you to buy the book for yourself, but for your sake, and mine, I am writing them down here.

The seven decisions that determine personal success:

#1 The Responsible Decision

“The buck stops here. I accept responsibility for my past. I am responsible for my success. I will not let my history control my destiny.”

#2 The Guided Decision

“I will seek wisdom. God moves mountains to create the opportunity of His choosing. It is up to me to be ready to move myself.”

#3 The Active Decision

“I am a person of action. Many people move out of the way for a person on the run; others are caught up in his wake. I will be that person on the run.”

#4 The Certain Decision

“I have a decided heart. Criticism, condemnation, and complaint are creatures of the wind. They come and go on the breath of lesser beings and have no power over me.”

#5 The Joyful Decision

“Today I will choose to be happy. My very life is fashioned by choice. First I make choices. Then my choices make me.”

#6 The Compassionate Decision

“I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I know that God rarely uses a person whose main concern is what others are thinking.”

#7 The Persistent Decision

I will persist without exception. Reason can only be stretched so far, but faith has no limits. The only limit to my realization of tomorrow is the doubt to which I hold fast today.”

Oh this is good stuff! I’m glad I picked this book up! I hope you might think about grabbing a copy too7!

Why you should stop

This weekend I stopped.

I stopped all work related activities. I completely disengaged from work and fully engaged in Nerf gun wars, Uno, sled races, reading books, taking naps, cuddling with my favorite people, and I even had the chance to slide down a snow covered hill on a saucer with Mrs. Peterson on my lap!

This weekend we spent time making memories, nurturing friendships, and doing things that “normal” life doesn’t have space for.

Many people think a “stop” is a waste of time. I used to think that. I don’t anymore.

A large part of my change in thinking has to do with a book I read a couple of years ago and am now currently re-reading… The Power of Full Engagement.

The authors of this must-read book say: “Our capacity to be fully engaged depends on our ability to periodically disengage.”

Oh man are they ever right!

I find that when I don’t disengage I become less and less engaged in the work at hand. BUT…

When I intentionally disengage I am more engaged than ever when I re-engage!

Let me give you some examples of how this works:

  • If you’re a parent and you’ve had the chance to take a night away or a weekend away from your kids… you can’t wait to get back to them! It’s like the time away (i.e. the period of disengagement) has reinvigorated you!
  • When you miss the gym for a few days… you CAN’T WAIT to get back! Smart lifters actually build down time into their training schedule. They call it “de-load week“.
  • “Amazingly” distance from your spouse for a short period of time often serves to rekindle the passion in your romance!
  • Studies consistently show that people most often get their best and most creative ideas in the shower, while driving, on the golf course, etc. in other words, our best ideas of come to us in places in which we are most disengaged!

I really can’t wait to get back into the swing of life this week! I ready to re-engage because I have disengaged!

If you have trouble disengaging, take a minute to read this journal entry from a man who was more busy than you or I will ever be, David. He had hundreds of wives, multiple children, a nation to lead, wars to fight, literature to write, and on and on and on. Read this, and note all of the references to “disengaging” that he makes…

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)

Well, I’ve got to get going… the kids are waking up, but I hope that you can find a chance to disengage/stop soon so that you can re-engage later with increased passion and focus!


Are you willing to be a Miss Symmes?

fea_barbara_simonAre you willing to have a tough conversation with someone you like… to tell them the truth even if it may hurt them before it helps them?

Ken Blanchard writes (in Everyone’s A Coach)

I see emotional attachment as a problem not only in business, but in schools with teachers, and at home with parents. They often want to be liked. As a result, they may back off from decisions that would push people to be their best. Few of us enjoy making the kind of intervention in which people might get mad at us. And yet, when you think back, the people who were most influential in your life were probably the ones who got in your face when you needed it.

Then he tells this story to illustrate his point…

I remember an English teacher named Miss Symmes. All the other English teachers I had would pat me on the back and give me a B because they liked me and wanted me to like them. Not Miss Symmes.

The first essay I wrote for her she returned with an F and told me I was better than that. Since I was already a student leader, I thought I could get by with my gift of gab, but she insisted that I needed to learn to write, too. And she wouldn’t back off.

She pushed me and pushed me until, on the last paper I turned in to her, she was proud to give me an A. I was proud too. I’ll never forget her.

Ken Blanchard has published 44 books which have sold over 13 million copies and has strongly influenced the field of leadership. Thank you Miss Symmes.

The question here for all of us who are in leadership roles (home, church, business, etc.) is this… are you willing to be a Miss Symmes to someone else?

Are you willing to sacrifice popularity and even be disliked in the short term to make someone better in the long term? It’s what’s required of leaders and it’s what makes the greatest among us… someone who will tell us the uncomfortable truth and hold us to a higher standard.

Do you have a Miss Symmes story? I’d love to hear it!

In a pit with a lion (some favorite quotes)

Every once in a while I have a chance to share some good stuff from a good book. A couple of days ago I was telling someone about Mark Batterson’s book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, and I shared with them some of my favorite quotes from that book!

As I was reviewing them I thought… I’ve got to share them with you too! And now for you’re viewing pleasure…

  • One of the greatest things that could happen to you is for your fear to become a reality. Then you would discover that it’s not the end of the world.”
  •  “If you take a second to reflect on your life, you’ll discover that the greatest experiences are often the scariest, and the scariest experiences are often the greatest.”
  • Mark asks a GREAT question, “Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?”
  • The more problems you have, the more potential you have to help people. One of the most paralyzing mistakes we make is thinking that our problems somehow disqualify us from being used by God. […] If you don’t have any problems, you don’t have any potential. Here’s why. Your ability to help others heal is limited to where you’ve been wounded.”
  • Lion chasers are more afraid of lifelong regrets than temporary uncertainty. They don’t want to get to the end of their lives and have a million what-if regrets. So they chase lions. In the short-term, it increases uncertainty. But in the long run, it reduces regret.”
  •  “… you have to do something counterintuitive if you want to reach your God-given potential and fulfill your God-given destiny. Sometimes you have to run away from security and chase uncertainty.”
  • “Everyone’s path is littered with the debris of dysfunction and disappointment. We’ve all been misjudged or misled. And we will be many more times before our lives are over. But God is in the business of using those experiences to prepare us for future opportunities.”
  • “Lion chasers are humble enough to let God call the shots and brave enough to follow where He leads.”
  • “The more you’re willing to risk, the more God can use you. And if you’re willing to risk everything, then there is nothing God can’t do in you and through you.”
  • “Almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we are part coward and part daredevil. The coward is constantly whispering, Better safe than sorry. The daredevil is whispering, Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Which voice are you going to listen to?”
  • “Most God-ordained dreams die because we aren’t willing to do something that seems illogical.”
  • A quote from Howard Schultz’s autobiography, “This is my moment, I thought. If I don’t seize the opportunity, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and risk it all, if I let too much time tick on, my moment will pass. I knew that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would replay it in my mind for my whole life, wondering, What if?” (Schultz is the chairman of Starbucks and shares this reflection as he recalls pondering if he should purchase the upstart, unknown coffee chain. History tells us that he made the right decision).
  • “More often than not, the only thing between you and your dream is a rational excuse.”
  • “I’d rather be disliked for who I am than liked for who I am not.” (Me too!)
  • A quote from Gordon MacKenzie’s book Orbiting the Giant Hairball, “My guess is that there was a time – when you had at least a fleeting notion of your own genius and were just waiting for some authority figure to come along and validate it for you. But none ever came.” (How many people let their dreams die or their genius wither because no one ever validated it? How many people have been stifled because what they dreamed of was not “safe” or “normal”? I don’t want people to do this to me and I don’t want to do it to my children, or other people! I want to encourage people to “CHASE THE LION!”)
  • “Part of spiritual maturity is caring less and less about what people think about you and more and more about what God thinks about you.
  • An old proverb, “Those who hear not the music think the dancer is mad.” (I wonder though, what would happen if people heard what I, or you, hear? What would happen if they felt what I feel?)

Your “prison” may be your platform

nelson-mandela-prison-barsI just finished reading “Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage” by Richard Stengel.

Early on in the book, Stengel says something that stayed with me through the entirety of the read…

“Nelson Mandela had many teachers in his life, but the greatest of them all was prison.”

WHOA! Prison? Twenty-seven years of “life” behind bars, enduring inhumane treatment, separated from family, stuck in a cell much smaller than the average small bathroom we are used to? And this is the “greatest teacher”?

Well, as the story unfolded I came to realize that Stengel was right. Mandela went into prison a young, passionate, angry and unbridled man. He came out, in his own words, “mature.”

As I thought about this I think a couple of things are worth mentioning:

  • Every person will go through a “prison” experience in his/her life.
  • Not everyone will make it. Many will succumb to the intense pressure and break. Many will believe the lies they are told in the “prison”. Many will settle in and stay there… learning how to manage the pain.
  • Some though will outlast the “prison” experience and be bigger with greater influence because of it!

Consider this… who is Nelson Mandela without the prison experience? Very possibly just another in a long list of martyred revolutionaries faded into history… nameless… without a legacy.

Mandela looked back on his prison experience as the maturing point of his life. Of course while going through the experience there was pain… anger… disappointment… but not a loss of hope.

A couple of thoughts…

  • Don’t lose hope during your “prison” experience. Instead begin searching for ways to allow it to refine and mature you! (e.g. develop new ways to deal with disappointment, discover positive ways to treat those who mistreat you, etc.)
  • Remember this, you can give up and stay in “prison” or you can learn and prepare for the day you leave “prison”… and that day will come… sooner or later.
  • When you leave your “prison”… your experiences in that time/place and the maturity you gain will give you a platform from which to speak with authority. Mr. Mandela can speak with authority about love, forgiveness, and unity because he has lived it… in the worst of times and places… prison!

In “prison”? Don’t discount what this time and experience will do for your future… if you decide to allow it.