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You Can Renew the Founder’s Mentality, Says Author Chris Zook

“Once your company is no longer small it tends to accumulate bureaucracy and you begin to lose the founder’s mentality,” says Chris Zook, author of “The Founders Mentality.” “That is the paradox of growth. Growth creates complexity and complexity is the silent killer of profitable growth. Complexity is also the silent killer of our lives in some ways. The solution is that every business should go through a sort of housecleaning to get to the core of the core of the core.”

Chris Zook, the Best-selling author of “The Founder’s Mentality” and an Advisory Partner at Bain & Company, recently spoke at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE19) in Lexington, Kentucky:

Massive Change Coming As We Shift to a Digital Economy

What are the most predictable barriers to sustaining profitable growth for organizations today? Why is it that some companies age prematurely? Why do others continue to grow? As the global economy has shifted from an industrial economy to a digital economy people see massive change coming. Nearly two out of three people believe their main competition in five years will be a different company and have a different business model than it does today.

Right now will be the slowest pace of change that you will experience going forward. Interestingly, it is also the fastest pace of change that you have ever experienced. The major barriers to growth are internal. Your company’s fate is in your hands.

Starbucks Refocused On the Customer Experience

Anybody could open a coffee shop. So how did Starbucks rise above all the rest to create a massively successful business in the coffee shop industry? For years the company’s trajectory looked like a high tech business. Then the founder Howard Schultz left and he turned the running of the business over to a management team. Then to the surprise of many loyalty scores from customers started going down. Same-store sales went down and this, in turn, caused their stock price to go down.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz needed to come back as CEO to figure out what went wrong and right the ship. Were people simply sick of Starbucks? Actually, Schultz found that the company was inflicting self-inflicted wounds. It wasn’t any single big decision, it was many decisions made inch by inch that were creating the issue. The stores became cookie cutter and cluttered with big aluminum machines that ruined the experience. Customers didn’t love Starbucks anymore. That changed when Schultz focused the company on the customer experience again.

Maintaining the Founder’s Mentality

This is an example of how even successful companies can lose the founders mentality. The founder’s mentality dies when everyone aspires to be in the front office. Strategic problems outside often reveal deeper challenges and root courses of a breakdown inside companies. Businesses should look at the indicators of internal health. The first of those factors is Insurgency. What are we really about? Are we building something for the long term and not quarterly earnings? What is our core? For example, what is the core of Nike? It’s not the sole of the shoe. It’s Nike’s bold mission of uniqueness.

The second element of the founder’s mentality is what we call Frontline Obsession. When leaders move far from the frontline you lose the innovation engine and you lose talent. You also lose experimentation, frontline empowerment, and customers advocacy. Engagement levels are often lowest for those not interacting with customers. Generally, functions further down in the organization have lower engagement. Many companies erode from the frontline up.

The third element of the founder’s mentality is the Owner Mindset. The founder is the owner. They feel that their company is their baby. But as the years go people move to the main office, away from operations and the customer. Sometimes, as with Michael Dell, this prompts the founder to come back to the company.

Michael Dell Restored the Owner’s Mindset

When Michael Dell of Dell Computers noticed that PCs and company owned and managed servers started to not be as powerful as they once were. At one time they ubiquitous with business. Then AWS and the cloud started replacing servers and this impacted Dell’s business model. By this time Michael had left day to day management of Dell. But just like Starbuck’s founder, Dell brought Michael back to restore the owner’s mindset.

Michael Dell made a lot of bold changes including acquiring EMC, which at the time (2015) was the largest deal in tech history. Many people were openly skeptical. However, Michael Dell had a plan to simplify the company. He was actually going through the founder’s mentality playbook.

He really rebuilt the insurgency from scratch. At one point, he notably said that he wanted to make Dell the largest startup in the history of business. Dell is now wildly successful again, having significantly changed its business model while empowering an entrepreneurial spirit once again.

When I came to Lexington, Kentucky to speak today I asked about the early years of Alltech. Alltech’s founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons story is incredible. It is as incredible as Michale Dell’s. Dr. Pierce Lyons was way ahead of his time. He is is the quintessential expeller of these elements of the founder’s mentality.

Every Business Should Get to the Core of the Core of the Core

It is a fact that founder-led companies consistently outperform. A study by Bain showed that founder-run companies performed over 3.1 times more than others in the S&P 500. But organizations are just like humans in their life cycle. Initially, all founders of successful companies went up against established big companies. These companies often don’t immediately notice or care about your small startup. However, they eventually fight back. This forces you to raise capital and grow and become large yourself.

Once your company is no longer small it tends to accumulate bureaucracy and you begin to lose the founder’s mentality. That is the paradox of growth. Growth creates complexity and complexity is the silent killer of profitable growth. Complexity is also the silent killer of our lives in some ways. The solution is that every business should go through a sort of housecleaning to get to the core of the core of the core.

Renewing the Founder’s Mentality

An example of this is LEGO. Over time, LEGO moved away from being a toy company and created other things like theme parks, watches, retail stores, and much more. At one point this diversification almost caused the company to go bankrupt. All of these ventures sucked out their ability to execute the core. Now realize that there are 71 lego bricks for every person on the planet. LEGO as a brand and a toy product is engrained in people. But LEGO had a serious problem to solve.

They decided to go back to their core. They decided to simplify and they turned the company around. It’s a great example of how companies can over complicate things when they go after bright shiny objects.

A question I’m often asked is can you renew the founder’s mentality? One company that did renew it is Domino’s. The company eventually stalled out when they didn’t invest in the next wave of differentiation. An investment company bought Domino’s and they started to make each franchisee like a mini founder. Their stated goal was to create a company of many founders. They also doubled down on technology and delivery. This strategy worked big time. Their trajectory of growth is like a high tech firm now.

The post You Can Renew the Founder’s Mentality, Says Author Chris Zook appeared first on WebProNews.

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How Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part Two

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The business and culture journalist and bestselling author of the recent book The Revenge of Analog, David Sax, dropped by the show to talk about the writing life, the importance of real things in a digital world, and the revenge of paper.

David is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, and other publications.

The author’s first book, Save the Deli, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature.

His latest, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter “… looks at the resurgence of analog goods and ideas, during a time when we assumed digital would conquer all.” It was longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine and author of The Inevitable, said of the book, “The better digital gets, the more important analog becomes … Sax’s reporting is eye-opening and mind-changing.”

NOTE: This is the last episode of the year for us, due to the impending holiday break, but we will return with more great interviews for you in 2017. Thanks for listening!

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part Two of this file David Sax and I discuss:

  • Why you should work regular hours, and the author’s “Cinderella Clause”
  • The significance of unplugging for writers
  • How to record your audiobook in the same studio as Drake
  • Why the reward is the work for sustaining your writing

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The post How Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part Two appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part One

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The business and culture journalist and bestselling author of the recent book The Revenge of Analog, David Sax, dropped by the show to talk about the writing life, the importance of real things in a digital world, and the revenge of paper.

David is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, and other publications.

The author’s first book, Save the Deli, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature.

His latest, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter “… looks at the resurgence of analog goods and ideas, during a time when we assumed digital would conquer all.” It was longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine and author of The Inevitable, said of the book, “The better digital gets, the more important analog becomes … Sax’s reporting is eye-opening and mind-changing.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file David Sax and I discuss:

  • Writing at the intersections of business and culture
  • Why your best ideas come to you in the shower
  • The importance of impeccable research for great nonfiction
  • A road map for cranking out 3,000–4,000 words a day
  • How printing and editing your work on paper can improve your writing

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part One appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How the Bestselling Author of ‘The Blue Zones’ Dan Buettner Writes

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The multiple New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones books and National Geographic Fellow, Dan Buettner, dropped by the show to talk about his world travels, life-saving longevity research, and some fantastic advice for writers.

The author is an internationally recognized explorer who discovered five places in the world — called Blue Zones — where humans live the longest and healthiest, and his 2005 National Geographic cover story “The Secrets of Living Longer” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Based on his Blue Zones work, Dan founded a company of the same name to share “the world’s best practices in longevity and well-being” and has helped to successfully raise life expectancy in American cities including both Minnesota and Los Angeles.

Mr. Buettner has been featured on Real Time with Bill Maher, CNN, the Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, and the TODAY Show to discuss his research.

His TED talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed almost 2.9 million times, and he has given more than 500 keynote speeches over the last 10 years.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Dan Buettner and I discuss:

  • Wise words from the author’s mentor George Plimpton
  • Why good stories are the Trojan Horse to winning over readers
  • How a decade of research and writing became a life-saving blueprint for American cities
  • The coffee-shop effect for productive writing
  • One great trick for beating writer’s block
  • Why building your brand is so important for writers

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The post How the Bestselling Author of ‘The Blue Zones’ Dan Buettner Writes appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part Two

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Literary scholar, publishing consultant, and co-author of the critically acclaimed book The Bestseller Code, Jodie Archer dropped by to chat with me about her journey, the coming revolution in publishing, and the insecurities that all writers face.

Before earning her PhD from Stanford, Ms. Archer studied English at Cambridge, worked in both journalism and TV, and became an acquisitions editor for Penguin UK publishing.

While at Stanford, Jodie taught nonfiction and memoir writing, and researched both contemporary fiction and bestsellers. Upon completion of her doctoral work, she was recruited by Apple, where she was the lead in research on books.

Her book, The Bestseller Code, is based on her doctoral research with professor Matt Jockers on an algorithm that they tested over four years and refined by text mining more than 20,000 contemporary novels.

The Guardian proclaimed that their book “… may revolutionize the publishing industry,” in part because their algorithm was able to predict bestselling books 80 percent of the time, based on a theme, plot, character, and many other big data points.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

If you missed the first half you can find it right here.

In Part Two of this file Jodie Archer and I discuss:

  • How to use Google Docs to co-write a book
  • Why every writer is organized in their own disorganized way
  • How to get into your creativity zone
  • The worst question you can ask a book lover
  • Why authenticity is critical for your productivity

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part Two appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part One

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Literary scholar, publishing consultant, and co-author of the critically acclaimed book The Bestseller Code, Jodie Archer dropped by to chat with me about her journey, the coming revolution in publishing, and the insecurities that all writers face.

Before earning her PhD from Stanford, Ms. Archer studied English at Cambridge, worked in both journalism and TV, and became an acquisitions editor for Penguin UK publishing.

While at Stanford, Jodie taught nonfiction and memoir writing, and researched both contemporary fiction and bestsellers. Upon completion of her doctoral work, she was recruited by Apple, where she was the lead in research on books.

Her book, The Bestseller Code, is based on her doctoral research with professor Matt Jockers on an algorithm that they tested over four years and refined by text mining more than 20,000 contemporary novels.

The Guardian proclaimed that their book “… may revolutionize the publishing industry,” in part because their algorithm was able to predict bestselling books 80 percent of the time, based on a theme, plot, character, and many other big data points.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Jodie Archer and I discuss:

  • How a word nerd helped program a computer to predict bestsellers with a high degree of accuracy
  • Why all writers of fiction should read The Bestseller Code
  • How to turn years of research into an entertaining and educational nonfiction book
  • The power of deadlines for beating procrastination

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part One appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner Writes: Part Two

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, Jennifer Weiner, took a few minutes to talk with me about the writer’s life, her new memoir, and Revenge of the Nerds.

Before her prolific career as a novelist, Ms. Weiner started out as a small town newspaper reporter and freelancer, before signing her first big book deal for her novel Good in Bed (2001).

Since then, her books have spent more than five years on the New York Times bestseller list, she has had a novel made into a major motion picture — In Her Shoes, starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette (2005) — contributed op-eds to the New York Times,, executive produced a TV series, and published a children’s book (The Littlest Bigfoot).

Her latest offering is the memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, and it “… is about yearning and fulfillment, loss and love, and a woman who searched for her place in the world, and found it as a storyteller.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

If you missed the first half, you can find it right here.

In Part Two of this file Jennifer Weiner and I discuss:

  • How creative people see the world through their own lenses
  • Why hard work alone forges enduring writers
  • Why ebooks are indispensable to writers on the go
  • Why you just need to sit down and start writing

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner Writes: Part Two appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner Writes: Part One

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, Jennifer Weiner, took a few minutes to talk with me about the writer’s life, her new memoir, and Revenge of the Nerds.

Before her prolific career as a novelist, Ms. Weiner started out as a small town newspaper reporter and freelancer, before signing her first big book deal for her novel Good in Bed (2001).

Since then, her books have spent more than five years on the New York Times bestseller list, she has had a novel made into a major motion picture — In Her Shoes, starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette (2005) — contributed op-eds to the New York Times, executive produced a TV series, and published a children’s book (The Littlest Bigfoot).

Her latest offering is the memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, and it “… is about yearning and fulfillment, loss and love, and a woman who searched for her place in the world, and found it as a storyteller.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Jennifer Weiner and I discuss:

  • How her iconic writing mentors Joyce Carol Oates and John McPhee helped guide her
  • Why 10 years and 10,000 hours in the trenches is par for the course
  • How working in busy environments boosts your productivity
  • Great tricks to keep the ink flowing, without opening a vein

Listen to this Episode Now

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Rainmaker Rewind: How Advice Columnist and Author Heather Havrilesky Writes, Part One

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We always have great guests on Rainmaker FM, and this week is no exception …

This week’s Rainmaker Rewind features an interview on The Writer Files with advice columnist and author Heather Havrilesky who chats about her writing process as well as the many hats she’s worn over the last 20 years.

Plus, I’ve included my favorite Copyblogger post from the last week and eight more must-read articles for you.

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  1. This week on Rainmaker FM, Kelton Reid interviews advice columnist and author Heather Havrilesky on The Writer Files: How Advice Columnist and Author Heather Havrilesky Writes, Part One
  2. This week on Copyblogger, Pamela Wilson explores how business owners can keep up with the demands of content marketing: The Content Marketing Continuum: How to Create Content to Meet Customers’ Needs
  3. Paul Jarvis explains why you should try giving notice every single day: I’m giving notice
  4. Managing creative teams effectively may require additional skills. Here are six from Fast Company that you might need: 6 Habits Of Creative Managers
  5. Set yourself up to win with seven practical work-from-home tips from Business 2 Community: Get On the Productivity Train: How to Successfully Work from Home
  6. Listening to music may make the daily commute tolerable, but streaming a podcast through your headphones can make it disappear. The New York Times explains what’s happening: This Is Your Brain on Podcasts
  7. Success in life and work is often a matter of attitude and beliefs, and YFS Magazine explains why that applies to entrepreneurs: Dear Wantrepreneur: These 4 Toxic Thoughts Are Killing Your Success
  8. Intelligent people’s good habits are often highlighted, but this visual from Tech.Co explores the good and the bad: The Bad and Good Habits of Smart People [Infographic]
  9. From infographics and SlideShares to articles and memes, marketers and bloggers can never have too much help coming up with ideas for compelling, relevant content. ProBlogger explains how to decide which type to use for your business: The Best Research Tools for Finding Kick-Ass Content
  10. Marketing Profs looks at what neuromarketing can teach us about consumers: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Marketing

And, one more thing …

If you want to get my Rainmaker Rewind picks of the week sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.

See you next week.

The post Rainmaker Rewind: How Advice Columnist and Author Heather Havrilesky Writes, Part One appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How Andy Weir (Bestselling Author of ‘The Martian’) Writes: Part Two

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Martian dropped by The Writer Files to chat with host Kelton Reid about his writing process and the upcoming movie adaptation of his hit book, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon (release date October 2, 2015).

The author’s journey to #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list began as a humble series of blog posts that grew enough interest to demand self-publishing to Amazon. When The Martian’s popularity sky-rocketed, traditional publisher Random House called, and the rest is history.

From software engineer to sci-fi phenom, Andy is a down-to-earth writer and self-described “space nerd,” who still answers all of his fan mail.

Join Kelton and Andy for the second part of this interview.

In Part Two of the file, host Kelton Reid and Andy Weir discuss:

  • How recurring daydreams can turn into great stories
  • The mystery of truly immersive writing
  • Why Peter Pan’s Tinker Bell should be in prison
  • Shakespeare’s and Kepler’s 16th-century bromance
  • How Mr. Weir’s book started a relationship with NASA
  • Three tips and tricks to becoming an “actual” writer
  • Why Hollywood adds special effects last

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About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand digital business and marketing advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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