I received a gift of a book recently – Ray Dalio’s Principles. Funny, though, as my bud handed it to me realizing that it was a hefty book, and he knew how much I enjoyed audiobooks. However, I do love a good physical book so I can take notes on or re-read/ review. (Kindle e-books included.) Well, Jeremy, I listened to the e-book for this one, too. ?But are taking notes and reviewing the hardback you gifted.

I enjoyed Ray’s book based on his leadership and the principles he instilled while leading his company Bridgewater from the ground to a 1,600+ behemoth in the financial world. What was inspiring to read, too, was how he initially co-founded the company but early on, had to let everyone go including his co-founder who left as not much money was coming in. Ray had to rebuild his team from just one (himself) to the company it is today.
The book is can be broken up into a few parts – his and Bridgewater’s story before diving into the personal and business principles. There are hundreds of principles that grounds the company in its business dealings, and that enables it to continue to thrive.
In any case, here are a few of my take-aways:
  • Like Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage, Ray finds personal assessments to be highly informative. Each assessment provides a view into the strengths and weaknesses of team members, which enables Ray’s team to build teams to deliver the best outcomes. He takes a lot of the personal and politics out of the equation and leans into data.
  • Ray is a fan of leveraging artificial intelligence. Really, he’s a fan of blending both computer systems with human intelligence and interactions. He started building his forecasting and analytics systems from the start – continuously training it to perfect forecasting. He’s able to leverage opposing outcomes from either “system” to dive into what could be missing or inaccurate. Meanwhile, agreeing results from both systems gives high confidence of known outcomes.
  • One of the biggest drivers of Ray and Bridgewater’s success is the idea of radical transparency. This means that personal assessments are completely out in the open so that team members understand how each other acts and works. Transparency enables teams to make mistakes, but own up to them so the rest of the team can learn and prevent future similar mistakes.
  • Meritocracy over autocracy for Bridgewater. Here, all associates at Bridgewater has the ability to challenge authority as long as there is clear merit in the person and the process. This is also where Ray leans into his belief that credence should be given to those who have demonstrated success in at least three occasions of some task/ venture. I touched on this in one of my previous posts in how this affects how I feel in my own ability to coach. But thinking about this idea, Ray has also only had “one” entrepreneurial/ business success (with Bridgewater)… not three. ?

There are many, many principles in the book (just as the title implies). It’s best not to try to adhere to all of the principles from the get go. Heck, it may not make sense to adopt any of the principles. It’s important realize whatever principles make sense (for me, you, whoever). However, it’s a constant practice to not only align myself to my principles, but also ensuring a company is aligned. And much like Bridgewater, if some principle should be rescinded or updated, it’s all possible as long as there is merit and transparency to the process.

I just finished The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni on why organization health is the number one reason companies succeed. Lencioni argues it’s the true competitive advantage companies have.

I’ve read a lot of business books and have gone through an MBA program to learn about competitive advantages and the “it” factors that makes some companies better than others. Most of the readings have been about culture with a sprinkling of motivations. Culture makes the most noise for success, and it’s not a surprise. Culture is more uniquely applied for a company. How it operates with values and its mission. If values and the mission provide the map of a company, then organization health is the step-by-step directions to navigate.
The key take-aways:
  • Organizational health starts from the top. Much like culture, leaders can determine the health of company. Eliminating office politics (big points here from Lencioni) while ensuring the leaders row all in the same direction fosters strong health. Removing politics and acting in as a single cohesive executive team cultivates greater success than operating well but in silos.
  • Lencioni hits hard on trust across the executive team. This is the key to removing politics. Encouraging individual leaders to be vulnerable enables folks to work better together understanding individual purposes and reasons for actions – he encourages leaders to share vulnerable stories from early years (oftentimes, childhood). Trust enables leaders to have healthy debate, and agreement to move forward together as a team despite opposing feelings individually.
  • Healthy organizations exhibit cohesive teams where the whole is greater than the parts. Organizationally healthy companies exhibit functional groups who may operate outside their functional silos and even, at times, reducing effectiveness of a functional role to support another function as long as the greater company is positively impacted. In one case, this could mean sharing engineering resources to help on the marketing or sales side.
  • Meetings are big, big deal. Typically, meetings are also a waste today due to not only a lack of action, but poor structure and categorization. Lencioni argues for four types of meetings: the daily check-in, weekly tactical, monthly strategic, and quarterly off-site. In some ways, these meetings can actually increase the number of meetings in the short-term. However, long-term, meetings can reduce, but also be highly actionable making meetings productive. Being structured on the topics and the goals for each meeting type drive results. Lencioni argues that this is the biggest and lowest hanging fruit for companies.

This book was recommended to me by a friend who works at one of the top companies to work for in Atlanta. It’s not surprise why he recommended this as he’s seeing the book’s influence at his company. It’s clear to him how Lencioni was onto something on building organizational health.

Where do you want to go? Where are you now? Are you getting to where you want to go?
These are questions I’ve been fielding recently. However, these are questions that should be periodically asked and answered. More than likely, myself and many others ask these questions only when things are bad. That is, thoughts arise like, “I don’t like where I am, what should I do next?” It’s akin to reevaluating bad habits or poor exercise form only when pain occurs. Even less often is when longer-term questions are asked.
It’s a problem.
We shouldn’t ask these questions so rarely. We definitely shouldn’t ask these questions simply when things are not going well. (“Don’t go to the grocery store when hungry” comes to mind.)
We should ask ourselves several times a year where do we want to go. Has this changed since the last time we asked? Why?
The difficult part of not asking these questions periodically, then, comes when we have to ask the question not out of a want and simply to stay aligned. Instead, the difficulty comes when the change must come out of necessity – when a drastic change must occur. The difficulty comes when we find ourselves further beyond our locus of control. The difficulty comes when things have become easy or comfortable, and we’ve adopted a higher luxury. That’s when lethargy comes in and we forget about our why.
Ask yourself: Where do I want to go? Where am I now? Am I getting to where I want to go? If not, how do I get back on-track?

Desire for achievement is best demonstrated during in the “interims”. What happens during interims have the greatest influence on results.
What is an interim? An interim is the moment between two moments, activities, or events. A moment, activity, or event could include:
  • When a bodybuilder is working out in the gym.
  • When a marketer launching or in the middle of a campaign push.
  • When a singer is on stage.

An interim then, is the in-between period between workouts at the gym, marketing campaigns, or on-stage during concerts. Interims are when desire shines greatest. This is where success is created.

I thought about this as I was leaving the gym the other day. As I left, I saw folks who had just arrived sitting on a couch. Clearly, they were waiting for others. If they sit there for 5-10 minutes, that’s 5-10 minutes they could have spent warming up. That’s 5-10 minutes they could have put their things away in the locker room. This, of course, does not include the time at home with diets, sleep, etc. However, the details during interims including those immediately leading up to a new event are just as telling.
When a woman with an idea says she wants to leave her job and start her own business, but spends hours sitting in front of the TV after work, she’s not building towards her goal. Her interim time is spent watching TV, not on customer discovery. She’s not learning how to program. She’s not performing customer discovery.
Contrast the actions of Cristiano Ronaldo, five-time Ballons d’Or and Real Madrid stalwart. Cristiano is a well-known fanatic about his post-game recovery and pre-game preparation – the meals he consumes, recovery rituals, etc.
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, is another prime example of an individual who excels during interims.
The actions of individuals during interims can be a type of “bias towards action”, but it goes beyond that. It’s a reflection of the desire and action to achieve. The habits during the interims create long-term effects beyond the events themselves in reaching goals.
What are you doing during your interims? Why?


I attended a meetup recently with a Q&A session with George Azih CEO of LeaseQuery, a company that has grown from 5 to 50 employees in the last year. His company is solving a real pain-point. In fact, what his tool provides addresses a mandate by upcoming financial reporting regulations — specifically, lease accounting.

Having spent several years growing the business largely alone, he de-risked much of the business by proving traction. The company has been able to grow at rocket-pace all while still being bootstrapped. Nice.
A couple points that he attributes to the company’s success so far:
  • The product is a SaaS application that helps companies comply with new accounting regulations around lease accounting. Read: This is a MUST-have.
  • He has a strong leadership team that he regards as the three legs of a stool – he runs product and has two partners, Chris and Brendan, running sales and engineering, respectively.
  • The company sells and collects 3-year commitments upfront. This reduces the risk of vendor change after one year (and two). Instead of providing discounts, the company assures customers their price will be locked with continual product improvement.
  • His primary role as CEO is now removing impediments from the team. He enables his team to do their best work.
  • The real impetus for George to focus on the product/ company after 3 years as a side-gig was a stress-induced illness.
  • Building the business slowly also helped George become a deep expert in this area of accounting. He shared his knowledge via blog posts to build credibility with his target audience.
  • The CEO’s number one tip is how bad things can actually be good… and conversely, good things can be bad. Read: do your best with what you’ve got.

Not to take away from the great leadership and team in place executing, but it’s powerful to see how a MUST-have product can help a company grow.

I’ve always been a Microsoft fan even with their Vista debacle. It’s been sad to see for many years Microsoft lose its position as a dominant company losing market share for… complacency.
But, I’ve been impressed the last several years as Microsoft has re-emerged as an innovative company. So innovative that several developers and engineers I know have shifted from Apple’s ecosystem to Microsoft’s recently. Microsoft’s re-emergence from several lackluster years have been spearheaded by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s 3rd CEO who took the reins of the Redmond corp in February 2014.
I recently read Satya’s book Hit Refresh to learn about the CEO and hear how he has steered Microsoft’s ship into a bright future. Again, I’ve been impressed with the corporation’s recent changes going against its long-gone dogmatic approach from software licensing to hardware.
The book is a deep dive into how Satya views Microsoft’s role in the world. This book was written just several years into his tenure. He shares how most CEO leadership books are written after their tenures, but Satya wanted to be open to his company’s employees and shareholders during the process. As the book implies, the approach is welcome and “refreshing”.
A few take-aways:
  • Satya is very open in the book about his family, and how his family has influenced how he envisions Microsoft’s purpose in the world – its WHY as Simon Sinek would put it. He opens up about the impact of his son, Zain, who is severely disabled. At one of his son’s appointments, Satya describes being in wonder of how Microsoft products were used everywhere in the hospital. It was at that moment he realized the importance and impact his company has in the world helping others.
  • One of the first tasks Satya did when he took over the helm as CEO was to re-engage people. He reached out and spoke to as many Microsoft employees as possible and Microsoft’s partners and customers. If you hadn’t guessed by now, culture is so important to the Microsoft CEO.
  • I believe one of the greatest results of Satya’s work and connection to his employees has been building adaptability and agility to the organization. For many years, Microsoft laid stagnant in innovation choosing to stick to its licensing deals and keeping its products away from other ecosystems. Satya saw the larger opportunity with the cloud and changed the company’s many product roadmaps – shifting to subscription-based programs, focus on enabling others with its software no matter the platform (i.e. building new partnerships with Apple, its fiercest competitor).
  • Satya’s bet on the future is largely in three areas: mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. The latter, I still don’t understand. Satya has certainly invested more and more resources into these areas – seeing firsthand the implications of not being a leader in mobile when Apple and Google did. Now, he’s pursuing leadership.

This is not a traditional “self-improvement” book I’ve enjoyed in the past. Instead, this book helps highlight a now-CEO. All this being good fodder for me to continually think about as I continue to lead my company.

Recently finished Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter’s What Got You Here, Won’t Get You Here. It was cited in a meeting with a startup cofounder as a helpful book for his own success (and his company’s).
Off the bat, I was expecting a busy book of sorts, but instead, realized that the “You” in the title was more about YOU. The context shifted quickly, and I wasn’t prepared for it. Meanwhile, I didn’t know what to expect, let alone chapters and break-downs of how those who wish to ascend to greater success must constantly improve… starting with the things that – shall we say – rub people the wrong way. Yes, the book actually delved into character faults.
Goldsmith dives into 20 habits/ faults/ common rubs describing situations, ways to catch them, importance of resolving, resolutions, and some anecdotal results.
Here were some of my take-aways:
  • The book starts out acknowledging readers and leaders have all reached where they are, but that it may not actually help get them to the top. Oftentimes, folks who have been successful can attribute their success to personal talent and achievement. However, as they ascend, their influence commonly spans wider audiences. This can amplify personal habits that could stifle further progression.
  • One of the keys Goldsmith talks about to assess habits that negatively impact others including the self is surveying folks across the organization who come in contact and even those beyond – at home, as one example. Usually, this scope of feedback is much wider and deeper than what one may expect or ask – consider a leader who is looking to improve him/ herself. In this case, their list of folks to canvas would often times be much narrower focus than who Goldsmith would approach. This provides a holistic view that can identify habits’ reach and effect.

Per earlier, there were 20 habits mentioned. I read this book over a couple months, and admit I couldn’t recall many of them. However, as I look at a book summary to help jog my mind, I remember each easily. The habits are… not necessarily anything new. However, like many great minds, Goldsmith is able to put structure to habits to construct this list.

  • “Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.” As I write this, I realize that pointing out how I’ve recognized this in myself and how I’m trying to lessen how often I do this, I’m doing almost exactly what this habit is about – adding what I think, what I’ve done, etc. All to get some recognition. When I think about adding more of “me”, I stop and ask, “does this actually help XX?”
  • “Speaking when angry.” I just did this. I’ve been frustrated with a doctor’s office as I’ve been dealing with a chronic neck pain (herniated disc). When a doctor’s assistant called me due to a legitimately good reason (I could die without recognition of this), I responded very short-tempered. I was angry. I was tired of being passed around. I shouldn’t have.
  • “Neativity, or ‘Let me explain why that won’t work’”. This is something I have done, too. As I continue to lead and manage others (or have any relationship with others), I can be quick to jump to conclusions or express why others’ ideas won’t work. It’s unfortunate as I can stifle the others’ creativity while closing me off to new perspectives.  
  • “Refusing to express regret”. This isn’t done enough – I regret… I’m sorry… I talked to the doctor’s assistant the day after and apologized. She was just the messenger.
  • “Not listening”. Listening lets me absorb and learn. It can be done passively and actively. If I’m always pushing my thoughts, I don’t learn. I don’t expand my domain.
  • “Punishing the messenger”. Yeah, I just did this. See the story above. Maybe it’s moments like this that crystallize in me of how easy it is to keep doing the negative habits that will prevent me from being who I want to be.
  • “Failing to express gratitude”. It’s easy to live life and take things for granted – many times from the people who are closest to us (me). I feel that I should remember that each relationship is precious and must be constantly earned.

There are a lot of habits. Goldsmith did not offer a solution that I found to be effective to absorbing the habits, let alone being cognizant of them. Like the sales books (e.g. the Challenger Sale, SPIN), I can’t try to improve on everything. Instead, I have listed a subset of the habits that resonated with me most. I will work on the subset (or a subset of the subset). It takes practice. It takes diligence. However, my “There” is not that far, and I need to be ready to grasp it when it’s in front of me.

On Tuesday, I talked about the importance of coaching – Coaches, Coaching, Coach. Today, I want to build on that with sales call coaching. It’s on my mind as we, as a company, start to leverage a new tool to get better visibility and analytics of our calls. I start with Gong.io’s 9 Data-Driven Call Coaching Habits of Effective Sales Leaders.
First, here are the nine habits:
  1. Coaching by “using” your team
  2. Invest in the “middle of the pack”
  3. Don’t water the garden with a firehose
  4. Establish a coaching cadence
  5. Meet for a team coaching session every Tuesday at 2PM
  6. Recorded calls > live shadowing
  7. Positive reinforcement
  8. Theme du jour
  9. Leverage technology

Of these, I want to point out habits 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8.
  • Coaching by “using” your team. Your team is your best asset to act and react for coaching. Using the team creates a collaborative environment. It enables the team members to coach each other. This creates a sustainable environment where the team acts as just that – a team.
  • Don’t water the garden with a firehose. Odd phrasing, admittedly. However, the habit is recommending focus on parts of the call, not the whole call. Trying to improve on too many facets is ineffective and usually ends up causing calls to degenerate.
  • Meet for a team coaching session every Tuesday at 2PM. If you don’t read the article linked above, know that this doesn’t mean to schedule on Tuesdays at 2PM. Instead, it’s an example of scheduling time on the calendar and making a regular cadence of it. Remember: you make time for the things that matter.
  • Recorded calls > live shadowing. Trying to coach in the middle of a call is good, but similar to garden watering above, sales professionals should be focused on the call. They should not try to adapt on-the-fly. Do the autopsy of the call when it’s over. Adapt for the next.
  • Theme du jour. Focusing energy and improving on skills requires repetition. Thus, it’s important to coach on a specific goal several times in succession. Don’t shift until the goal is effectively achieved or improved upon.

Sales coaching is paramount for our industry to improve and adapt to changing times. As technology makes outreach easier, sales skills will be the differentiator.

My startup’s product gives companies automatic visibility –no added work or key entry from anyone— into their business relationships – everyone involved, the ongoing discussions, meetings occurred and upcoming, and more. We’re built on the premise that transparency yields greater sales results. This shouldn’t be too much of a shock when you consider how teams (sales teams, sports teams, etc.) frequently put communication as the cornerstone of team strategies.
Of course, visibility gives leaders and managers capacity to coach team members. Coaches review game film with players for coaching – pre-game or post. For our customers, it’s enlightening when leadership tout the coaching aspect of our product. For many, it’s a key one benefit they hadn’t thought of, but rises as just as powerful as their original buying intent.
I’ve always been a fan of coaching. Coaching is how players (in any role) get better (+ practice). It’s how C players become B players, B players to A players, and so on.
When was the last time you were coached? Why? Did you ask for it? Did you accept it? What was the outcome?
Heck, reviewing history, especially our “last game” (soccer game, sales call, etc.), enables us to coach ourselves. This was a great point I noticed after reading Inner Game of Tennis. Self-reflection –watching and listening to ourselves– is a fantastic way to coach ourselves.
For the most part, we want to be better versions of ourselves. Sometimes, that means trying harder. Sometimes, that means trying more often. Coaching by a peer, a leader, or ourselves gives us the chance to make whatever effort we use moreeffective.
Look for coaches. Ask for coaching. Be a coach.
There’s something in the water because I’ve run into several instances in the last week where people have become new managers. I’ve managed folks in many different capacities over the years including soccer teams/ organizations to consulting project teams and to direct management like today.
There’s an art and science to management of people, and as I think back to those who have managed me (or do still), the key ingredients include authenticity, trust, and goals/ challenges.
Here are some thoughts on management and accompanying books I recommend:
  • Maximize total motivation (TOMO) by implementing the Play, Purpose, and Potential motives while mitigating Emotional, Economic, and Inertia motives. (Check out Primed to Perform.)
  • Understand the role of culture as the “invisible hand”. Build a culture that enables emergent opportunities while mitigating “slippery slopes”. (Check out How Will You Measure Your Life.)
  • Managing a team requires a leader to effectively communicate, trust, and delegate responsibilities. (Check out Leadership Moment.)
  • Coaching is key to develop successful executers today and tomorrow. It’s how leaders enable C players to become B players, B players to A places, and beyond. (Check out Challenger Sale.)

Leading and managing a team can be difficult, and it doesn’t make sense that just because you’re good at something, you should be leading others. How well you lead them also goes beyond how you impact them directly. Effective leadership is best assessed by the downstream effects of those your team member end up leading. Management is surely one of the hardest and noblest tasks you can do. Be prepared.