This book by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle chronicles the life of the unusual character that is Bill Campbell.
As people who were under his tutelage at some point, the authors provide first-hand accounts of how his unconventional journey culminated in the success of some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley today.
Silicon Valley. The things that came to your mind are the same things that came to mine at first, too. But what was the role of a former football coach who did not start his first job in Silicon Valley until he was 43? A ripe old age in any career.
Bill had always been smart and self-inspired even as a child, but as his story progresses, you will see that he was also a fiercely loyal person as well. Bill gave five years of his coaching career to Columbia University, his alma mater even though their facilities were in shambles and he had better offers from better-placed teams.
Even when Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985, Bill was one of the few top-echelon members that were against the move.
His loyalty was repaid by Jobs when he got reinstated in 1997, who made him a director.
Reading this book, you’ll learn that –
- True leaders help their companies maintain their core values.
- Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.
- True leaders inspire trust.
Lesson One: True leaders help their companies maintain their core values
While Bill worked with Tellme Networks in the 90s, the company was in a tricky situation. They lacked funds, and AT&T was willing to provide it if Tellme withdrew from the market. It was a tempting proposition that they would have accepted if Bill did not remind Mike McCue, the founder, of the reason that they had entered the market in the first place. AT&T was asking them to step aside so that their substandard product would be the only option people had.
The short walk was enough to convince McCue, and the rest of the board to refuse the offer.
Lesson Two: Don’t be afraid to show your emotions
The assumption that a high-ranking official had to be stoic and strict could not be any further from the truth with Bill Campbell.
He was not one to hide his emotions when a reaction was appropriate. He had bear hugs and kisses to go round for everyone.
Bill was also keen to help however he could, as he did when he would go to visit Steve Jobs every day at the hospital by the time he was down with cancer.
A study by Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill in 2014 showed that companies, where a fun atmosphere is encouraged, had lower rates of absenteeism and higher employee performance.
Lesson Three: True leaders inspire trust
“Trust is all about a willingness to take a chance because you have positive expectations for someone else’s behavior”
Academy of management Review Journal (1998).
People that trust you hold your opinions in higher regard – it’s that simple.
When Bill was working with Intuit, there was an argument over whether to ignore short-term losses and focus on the long-term which Bill did not support.
He said there might not be a long-term to look forward to if something did not change about the short-term. John Doerr, head of sales broke the stalemate when he advised them to listen to Bill, who had earned their trust.
Alan Eustace, a computer scientist at Google, recounted that Bill was not one to listen to you with the hope of forcing his ideas down your throat. He would be attentive and ask questions when he needed clarification. A Harvard study also backed this style as the best way to earn the trust of your peers.
In the absence of trust, a genuine concern voiced by a colleague can be easily mistaken as a personal attack.
My Personal Takeaway
A true leader inspires and leads, qualities that Bill Campbell had in abundance. It was also good to see that you did not have to be a cut-throat to get to the top of your career: glowing recommendations still work just fine.
This book was written by adapting over 80 interviews with people that knew and loved Bill. That is a lot of people that thought highly of the man and still do.
Put the book into Action
- Write down virtues you want people to associate you with.
- Evaluate yourself objectively.
- Make changes where you feel is necessary.
- Choose mentors with characters you would like to emulate.
- Never stop working on yourself.
- Allow time for emotional responses.
Who should read the whole book
This book can help anyone become the trustworthy, capable leader that they hope to be. It is never too late to start on that path.
🤙 Your Next Step… 🤙
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