What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School
What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School

What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School

Of the twenty-odd years we have been in business, the first six—or nearly a third of our life span—were limited to representing professional golfers. (Location 2389)

this. They would rather grow quickly than profit quickly. (Location 2392)

Today I believe in the importance of training more than the importance of hiring, which, after twenty years, may be an indication of our company’s maturity. (Location 2422)

Michaels told me that Wasserman was thinking about starting a leisure sports division and wanted to know if I was interested in running it for them. (Location 2430)

Once they have become familiar with the new demands on their time, they hire the necessary support personnel or draw in additional talent from other divisions to deal with appropriate aspects of both their old and new responsibilities. (Location 2488)

how to be profitable without being a profit-monger. (Location 2516)

by far, is that the structures and systems created to make all this a little easier, to make it all flow a little smoother, begin to stifle the very momentum they are supposed to help. (Location 2546)

During the period of rapid growth, when a company may be doubling or tripling in size each year, the growth itself tends to make the structures less constrictive. (Location 2552)

There is no other feeling like that in business, or at least any that I have ever experienced. It’s not just the excitement, although that is certainly part of it. It is more a sense of the immediacy and importance that everything takes on, the feeling that what you do from day to day matters, and that generates a desire to do even more. (Location 2588)

The key, I felt, was to think small, to structure something that would make everyone feel like a very big cog in his or her respective wheel. (Location 2599)

but each with additional responsibilities to other companies within the group and to the group at large as well. (Location 2601)

In the beginning some of these pyramids were very small, consisting of one executive and a secretary. (Location 2607)

I am often confronted by executives in our own company who would like nothing more than to have everything neatly compartmentalized. (Location 2616)

As chairman, president, and CEO of IMG, I reserve the right to be arbitrary. Because of the way our company is structured and the flexibility and fluidity I try to maintain, I exercise this right with some regularity. (Location 2644)

I must reserve the right to be arbitrary because, as CEO, one of my prime responsibilities to the company itself, and by extension to the people who work for it, is to provide awareness for growth and protect the future. (Location 2652)

A company’s unofficial policies can be just as bizarre and even more damaging. Policies are the day-to-day laws of the corporation. The danger you run with unofficial policies is that people may follow them. (Location 2665)

It is the ability to delegate which, more than anything else, separates the good managers from the bad ones. (Location 2708)

It sounds easy, but it almost never is. Egos get in the way. People would rather be perceived as the authority than support the authority or expertise of the people who work for them. (Location 2710)

People convince themselves that they can do something better than anyone else, or are afraid that if they give up a task or responsibility they will be perceived as being less essential to the company. (Location 2712)

Managers must seek a different kind of satisfaction. They have got to be able to build up people and give them responsibilities, to find ego gratification in training, directing, and overseeing others. (Location 2716)

They hold on to a task because they like doing it, or want to do it, or are afraid not to do it, and they will pass down some other task because they find it distasteful or “beneath them” or have rationalized that it is not the best use of their time. (Location 2729)

“Hire people who are smarter than you are,” Wasserman said to me, “then don’t sell yourself, sell your company.” (Location 2745)

One of the difficulties with delegation is that managers will sometimes paint themselves as the experts rather than as expert managers. (Location 2750)

The smarter you make the people who work for you look, the smarter you are going to look as a manager. It’s also less masochistic. (Location 2751)

They would rather do it themselves than take the time to teach someone else to do it for them. (Location 2761)

Be flexible and strive for consistency. (Location 2779)

I have found that as soon as I begin to accept anything as gospel I run into the heretics—people or pieces of information that burst my comfortable convictions. (Location 2781)

As a company, we are so decentralized and scattered around the world that for a couple of years all our executives were required to submit weekly activity reports, similar to time sheets kept by lawyers, with copies going to all parties with a need to know. (Location 2785)

Most companies, I assume, would prefer to grow steadily at a healthy rate rather than doubling in size one year and losing money the next. (Location 2791)

To manage consistently you have to behave consistently. Even if people don’t like what you are saying, they still want to know where you are coming from. I have tried to be consistent in emphasizing what I think is important and what I think is insignificant. There’s a certain solace in that. (Location 2798)

I have four general philosophies for dealing with employees: (1) Pay them what they are worth; (2) Make them feel that they are important, yet (3) Make them think for themselves; and (4) Separate office life from social life. (Location 2815)

Everyone is being overpaid, but the overpayment is an investment in the person and in the future. (Location 2818)

Sometimes you can motivate good employees to be better by pointing out their minor shortcomings and urging them to even greater heights. This is what I call negative motivation. (Location 2836)

One of the biggest enemies of established companies is complacency. You have to keep the edge in, and when the people who work for you feel too secure or too self-satisfied, that is when you lose the edge. (Location 2847)

When one of our executives comes to me with a specific problem or question, I’ll often answer nonspecifically: “When we did the such-and-such deal with so-and-so we kinda said that if they could do this then we might be able to do that. Isn’t there a way that we can kinda do that sorta thing here?” (Location 2864)

it. I suggested three or four approaches, ranging from conceding to taking a hard line and risking losing the client, and then I suggested that there had been times in the past when we knew that we would do a good job and we told the client, (Location 2869)

My overriding philosophy on this one is to minimize the relations outside of the office. I will never forget when Arnold Palmer, who is just about as nice a person as you will ever want to meet, had a pilot who was really a very good pilot but (Location 2876)

It is impossible to let your hair down with someone one evening and try to be completely yourself if the next day you have got to reprimand, fire, reassign, or in some other way interact on a business basis with that person. (Location 2884)

When somebody is having a relationship, it opens an entire range of confidentiality problems, for the personal relationship in all but a few circumstances will override the business situation and confidentiality. (Location 2888)

Whenever I hear that someone has been fired out of the blue, I suspect it is emotional overreaction rather than the result of a considered business judgment. (Location 2894)

timing and that person’s loyalty to the company. (Location 2896)

As a general rule in our business, where relationships with clients can often be strong and personal, a certain amount of preparation is usually necessary. (Location 2898)

The degree to which I take this into account is determined by that person’s loyalty and service to the company. (Location 2900)

It took us about two weeks to protect our flanks. We arranged for this employee to take a one-day trip to Detroit. While he was gone, we had the locks changed and his files and records removed, and when he returned we fired him. (Location 2909)

A bitter exemployee can do great harm. He is considered a credible source to the outside world even if what he is saying totally lacks credibility. (Location 2912)

I can be very demanding of our management executives. But I am also very demanding of myself. (Location 2921)

CEOs, and managers on down the line, can often become isolated from what is really going on in their own companies. They talk to the same people over and over again, usually numbers one and two in each division. (Location 2941)

The bigger the company, the easier it is to get off on tangents and forget why you are in business in the first place, which is to make a profit. (Location 2949)

When I saw him about a year later I was surprised to learn that he had turned the business totally around and was projecting profits that year to be up 100 percent. (Location 2954)

“But,” he said, “I guess the biggest reason is that we doubled our prices.” (Location 2956)

Schlumberger publicizes to its customers that its service is marked up 100 percent. (Location 2960)

Many companies, I believe, who are busy buying new businesses and bringing in new management teams haven’t even tested the outside edge of their profitability. (Location 2963)

They are simply afraid to test the outside edge of what someone might be willing to pay. (Location 2965)

However, few could really handle it, and most well-run companies wouldn’t even try. (Location 2972)

Big companies, burdened by large overheads, commit to deals that they know going in are at best break-even propositions. These companies need to learn to say no. (Location 2973)

It may just be too hard to try to run a company and keep the stockholders happy at the same time. That is the reason IMG will never go public. (Location 2982)

Never underestimate your competition. I think a competitive spirit is essential to both personal and corporate business success. (Location 2993)

In both cases the idea is to win, to beat everyone else. But in business there is no end to the game. (Location 2996)

The constant flow of business provides an equally constant flow of interruptions which keep people from spending their time the way they had planned to. (Location 3036)

I seldom accept any phone call. It is usually an interruption, and I would rather deal with it in my own time and when I can focus my attention on the call rather than on what I am already doing. (Location 3148)

What do I want to accomplish and what’s the quickest way to accomplish it? (Location 3157)

A phone call doesn’t have to be a two-way communication. If you are just imparting information rather than exchanging or discussing it, leave a detailed message and don’t call back. If the party has any questions he’ll get back to you. (Location 3204)

Rule: A meeting’s productivity is inversely proportionate to the number of people attending it. (Location 3225)

Second corollary: The longer a meeting has been in existence, the bigger it becomes. (Location 3226)

Decision making by committee is neither efficient nor effective, and the decisions that result are usually not the best ones. (Location 3252)

By far the biggest problem people have with saying no is that they convince themselves that by buying time they are actually saving time. If you are feeling overwhelmed or harassed, it is much easier to say, “Let me think about it,” or “Let me get back to you,” than it is to deal with it and get it out of the way. (Location 3350)

The danger is that the more data people have to chew upon, the more likely they are to underestimate the importance of intuition—the seat-of-the-pants factor. (Location 3371)

If you immediately start to second-guess a decision you have made it will most likely prove a bad one, not because it was the wrong decision but because you have undermined its chance for success. (Location 3417)

but I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life practicing corporate law. I loved negotiating contracts, not drafting them, and the security of the paycheck wasn’t going to be enough to keep me at the firm. I was cautious and apprehensive, but I was more intimidated by the thought of wasting my time and energy building a career I wouldn’t enjoy. (Location 3511)

The danger, at the beginning, is that everything is still fiction and that fiction can block your ability to ask the right questions and provide the necessary hard-core answers: (Location 3526)

What are the immediate problems likely to be encountered? Are they insurmountable, and if they aren’t, how do I go about solving them? (Location 3541)

Restauranteering is a margin business which demands shrewd buying and a head for numbers. (Location 3551)

I am a great believer that the more up-front money a new business requires the less chance it has of ever getting off the ground. (Location 3566)

But the mere existence of this industry has created a kind of entrepreneurial myth—that there are all these people standing in line waiting for the opportunity to give you money and that you just haven’t met any of them yet. (Location 3569)

Yet many of these new ventures, I believe, didn’t actually require the capital the participants convinced themselves that they did. If they had been willing to start small, to go back a few steps and start from further back, they could have given themselves a fighting chance. (Location 3573)

Pay the people working for you as little as possible and sell them on yourself, on your vision, and on their future and the promise that as the company grows and becomes successful they will make more than they could ever make elsewhere. (Location 3593)

It’s amazing how many people forget to consider the importance of cash flow in planning their first year. If the first sale is made during the first week of business, (Location 3624)

Allowing for a reasonable margin of error in the numbers is one thing; assuming stupidity on the part of the person reading them is another. (Location 3628)

I don’t think asking someone to finance a $2 million proposal is a very effective or efficient way to go about getting a $50,000 raise. I know for sure I don’t want to be the one giving it to him. (Location 3633)

“Don’t work hard, work smart.” The truth is, “Work hard, work long, and work smart.” (Location 3639)

Minority equity in a privately held corporation is, for my money, worthless. (Location 3650)