Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

5 innovative insights to get started with your start-up!

Startups have changed the world. In the United States, many startups, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, have become household names. The economic value of startups has doubled since 1992 and is projected to double again in the next fifteen years.

As venture capitalist Alexandre Lazarow shows in this insightful and instructive book, this Silicon Valley ‘gospel’ is due for a refresh–and it comes from what he calls the ‘frontier,’ the growing constellation of startup ecosystems, outside of the Valley and other major economic centers, that now stretches across the globe. The frontier is a truly different world where startups often must cope with political or economic instability and lack of infrastructure, and where there might be little or no access to angel investors, venture capitalists, or experienced employee pools.

Here’s a glimpse into some of these insights for all you future entrepreneurs!


Learn from the microfinance industry

‘In [the industry’s] early days, a key insight was that the poor were creditworthy borrowers. By placing borrowers into groups with a sense of strong social accountability and shared responsibility on the loans’ repayment, microfi nance lenders found that repayment rates were high.

But this insight was also the biggest challenge: the in-person nature of putting people in groups, making regular visits to collect money, and maintaining deep customer engagement is expensive. Companies like Tala, Branch International, and Safaricom’s own M-Shwari now offer consumer loans, relying entirely on the mobile money platform.’

Front cover of Out-Innovate
Out-Innovate || Alexandre Lazarow


Create rather than disrupt

‘Timbo Drayson founded OkHi, a technology-driven startup that creates addresses where there are none. OkHi’s mission statement is “Be Included.”

Creators do three fundamental things simultaneously. First, they offer a product or service that solves an unserved, acute pain point in the formal economy. Second, Creators offer a solution for the mass market. Finally, Creators are focused on game-changing innovations that fundamentally rethink a market and a sector.’


Raise a camel, not a unicorn

‘The growth-at-all-cost model simply does not translate to the realities of the Frontier. Instead of the unicorn, then, I propose the camel as the more appropriate mascot. Camels live in and adapt to multiple climates. They can survive without food or water for months. Their humps, primarily composed of fat, protect them from the desert’s scorching heat. When they do find water, they can rehydrate faster than any other animal.15 Camels are not imaginary creatures living in fictitious lands. They are resilient and can survive in the harshest places on earth.

Signing up for Silicon Valley’s unicorn-hunting strategy is a bit like mortgaging your home to buy three new homes. If things go well and the market moves in the right direction, then the rewards are massive. Facebook’s eye-watering returns for investors are a case in point. Yet this approach also increases the likelihood of losing everything.’


Build A-teams, don’t hire just A-players

‘…in Silicon Valley, companies and employees see their relationships as short-term affairs. Retention rates are among the lowest in the United States. More than 13 percent of staff turn over every year, and in certain job categories like user design, the rate is well above 20 percent, which translates to short employee tenure.

Frontier Innovators […] use fi ve key strategies to build and scale top teams. They test candidates for behavior and capabilities, develop a proprietary talent pipeline, leverage global distributed options, take a growth mindset to retention and training, and think critically about compensation and perks.’



‘Frontier Innovators […] cross-pollinate. They leverage diverse lived experiences, often across multiple geographies, industries, and sectors, to build their businesses. They tap global networks for capital and resources.

At the Frontier, a typical innovator’s lived experience is longer and spans geographies, sectors, and industries. This diversity in experience explains the issues they choose to tackle and the unique approaches they employ.’


With rich and wide-ranging stories of frontier innovators from around the world, Out-Innovate is the new playbook for innovation–wherever it has the potential to happen.

What Can We Learn from the Chinese Companies?

The Chinese invest hugely in understanding foreign cultures and markets while being confident in the knowledge that their competitors and would-be allies are unlikely to make sufficient effort to understand them.

‘Running with the Dragon’ by Saibal Dasgupta has nine case studies, which are inspiring stories of Indian and Chinese businesspersons engaged in remarkable work. The book also looks into the strengths and weaknesses of Indian companies operating in China, and the Chinese firms that have begun to unsettle sections of the Indian market.

Chinese private companies are very straightforward. Wherever there is a market, they will go and explore it. Chinese companies are risk-takers who expect to face bottlenecks and the possibility of returning after withdrawing investments.

There is a lesson for Indian companies about the successes that can be achieved by putting together IT and engineering talent. Recent forays of Chinese companies climbing the top rungs of the ladder in sunrise industries is an example of that.

There are signs Chinese investors are keener on the less-served tier II and tier III cities instead of sweating it out in the congested markets of tier 1 cities.

With a one-party rule driven by capitalistic passion, China’s diplomatic missions have been able to work hand in hand with their companies, often negotiating on their behalf across different countries.

Chinese phone makers have cut through their negative image of an invasive and dangerous neighbor and become successful in the retail segment, because they have successfully converted the classy brand game in smartphones into a more rowdy and democratic commodity play.

China has been investing heavily in research. The European Chamber says China spent around USD 300 billion on research and development, nearly 2.2 per cent of GDP. Sheer scale in absolute figures might, at some point, give China an advantage over smaller industrialized countries that spend much less.

India is China’s seventh biggest trading partner, far ahead of advanced countries like the United Kingdom. Beijing knows India, with its demographic dividend, holds a huge untapped potential that goes beyond the future growth opportunities in several countries, including Japan and South Korea. It is time for Indian companies to start collaborating with Chinese players on a global scale. The process has already begun. It is time for more players to join the party.

Running with the Dragon is a crucial lesson in navigating the market today.

Six Proven Principles that Indian Entrepreneurs Can Use to Co-create Frugal Solutions

The groundbreaking new book Do Better with Less by the bestselling authors of Jugaad Innovation—Navi Radjou,  and Jaideep Prabhu is here to show how India can harness the three megatrends — the sharing economy, the maker movement and the circular economy to drive inclusive and sustainable growth in the coming decades.

The world faces a stark challenge: meeting the needs of over 7 billion people without bankrupting the planet. India, with its large population and limited resources, offers a creative response to this. Its resilient jugaad mindset, dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem of start-ups and NGO-government collaboration promises to meet its own requirements, and those of the world, in a sustainable way.

Read on for six proven principles that Indian entrepreneurs and businesses can use to co-create frugal solutions in education, energy, healthcare, food and finance!

Principle one: engage and iterate

Rather than using insular research and development (R&D) departments that rely on educated guesses about customer needs, E&I starts with customers, observing their behaviour in their natural environment, and then considers how products can be made as relevant as possible, going back and forth between the customer and the lab to refine designs. As former CEO of Intuit, Brad Smith says: ‘If you never lose sight of the customer problem, how you attack the solution can remain more flexible and iterative and ultimately be more likely to succeed.’ This innovation model is based not on pushing new technologies onto customers, but on starting with customer insights and looking for ways to solve their actual problems.



Principle two: flex your assets

Customers are becoming ever more demanding. They increasingly want tailored products and services where and when they desire. The trend towards mass customization,  new tools (such as robotics and 3D printers) and new approaches (such as social manufacturing and continuous production) can help operations and supply chain managers ‘flex’ their production, logistics and service assets to satisfy demanding customers better and more cheaply. The goal of flexing assets is not only about saving resources, such as carrying less inventory, but also about saving time—a business’s most valuable resource.


Principle three: Create sustainable solutions

This demonstrates how companies can implement sustainable practices such as cradle-to-cradle and the circular economy (where components and materials are repeatedly recycled) to design and manufacture waste-free products of value to customers. It shows how the sharing economy—in which customers share products as pay as- you-go services rather than own and consume them—can boost customer loyalty and generate new sources of revenue. And it explains how some pioneering firms are using techniques such as upcycling to combine and integrate the principles of the sharing and circular economies, thus paving the way for the ‘spiral economy’: a virtuous system that generates evermore value while reducing waste and the use of natural resources. Thus R&D and manufacturing managers can develop self-sustaining solutions that help both businesses and the environment

Principle four: shape customer behaviour

 Companies can influence consumers into behaving differently (for example, driving less or more safely) and feeling richer while consuming less. Marketing managers can improve brand loyalty and market share by tailoring frugal products and services more closely to the way customers actually think, feel and behave—and by properly positioning and communicating the aspirational value of these frugal solutions. Indian brands can use clever design and marketing techniques to encourage Indian consumers to adopt a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.



Principle five: co-create value with prosumers

Consumers want a ‘conversation’ with their brands. Consumers now design, build and sell products themselves especially the tech-savvy millennials and Generation Z (those born between 1981 and 2012)—are evolving from passive individual users into communities of empowered ‘prosumers’, who collectively design, create and share the products and services they want. Sales and marketing managers can build greater brand affinity and deepen their engagement with customers by co-creating greater value for all.

The horizontal economy which allows consumers to design, build, market, distribute and trade goods and services by and among themselves, is being encouraged by Fab Labs and maker spaces, the low-cost building blocks of DIY products, Peer-to-peer sharing platforms, collective buying platforms, and crowdfunding platforms that finance new ventures.



Principle six: make innovative friends

R&D and operations managers can develop frugal products, services and business models more efficiently by collaborating with diverse external partners (such as suppliers, universities, venture capitalists and start-ups) than by working alone.  In addition, makerspaces can connect large companies and nimble inventors and enable them to co-create new products faster and cheaper using digital prototyping tools.  Brands must increase the breadth and depth of their partnerships in order to understand the real nature of the so-called wicked problems and solutions. Companies must also transform themselves from within by setting up an innovation-brokering function, increasing internal agility, and monetizing, intellectual capital beyond just protecting it.


Do Better With Less is India’s guide to claiming global leadership in frugal innovation.


The Reluctant Billionaire – An Excerpt

Dilip Shanghvi is one of the most interesting and least understood business minds whose journey has been shrouded in mystery because of his reticence.

The Reluctant Billionaire reveals the riveting story of the fiercely intense personality that lies beneath his calm demeanour. Based on interviews with over 150 friends, family members, rivals, former aides and Shanghvi himself, it traces his transformation from a quiet, curious child working in his father’s small shop to an astute strategist, who built India’s largest pharma company, Sun Pharma, despite being untrained in science.

Here’s a gripping excerpt from the book that talks about the acquisition of Taro and Ranbaxy.

Should a story be told when the subject is unwilling? Maybe ‘not’ if it’s an ordinary story of a private person, or maybe ‘yes’ if it’s in the guise of fiction where it is easy to speak the truth. But what if the story happens to be of a man who arose from the anonymity of a small wholesaler to become the richest man in a country of a billion-plus people and as many dreams? And he did so, not by creating a conglomerate, which depends on cronyish connections and government concessions, but by building a global firm focused only on making medicines. Isn’t his story more than just his, a story that belongs to a generation, a nation?

And when he became the richest man of the country in 2015 and was asked how he felt, he replied, ‘Uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.’ Despite living what could be argued as one of the most remarkable life of his generations, his mind feels like a black box. Dilip Shanghvi is one of the most interesting and least understood business minds of India today. For someone, unschooled in degrees of sciences and management, who worked his way up from a tiny shop in the bylanes of Dawa Bazaar in Calcutta of the 1970s to create one of the country’s most valuable enterprises, he is also one of the least documented and least studied capitalists. One reason behind this is his own unwillingness to share his story.

He doesn’t care about being celebrated, and stubbornly disapproves, even casts off attempts to document him. Another part is because with no drama, no modulation in pitch, few words and fewer expressions, he neither fits the bill of a conventional inspiring pin-up business leader nor does he make for a great colourful flamboyant story. It is easy to miss the intensity of someone who is more presence than personality. What compounds this conspicuous absence from mainstream is a past yet unsearched but which, on the surface, doesn’t show up juicy controversies to merit an investigation, and a lifestyle that could appear normal enough to be boring. No wonder the media was ready to spare him the limelight he so avoided.

From time to time, when the need arose, he was profiled with a few recycled facts thrown in—that he borrowed 10,000 rupees from his father to start his firm Sun Pharma with two medicines for psychiatry and that in his sixties now, he is a fan of Harry Potter books. What happened in the interim was left to the imagination.

This un-deliberate arrangement of mutual disinterest worked fine till one day—the maths of life changed it all. That day in March 2015 his net worth crossed that of Mukesh Ambani and he was pronounced India’s richest man. The country was curious to know who this guy was, how he had done it.

If the search and discovery had been so easy, answers to these questions wouldn’t have remained so elusive. Shanghvi, known to shun press conferences, interviews and parties expressed his unwillingness for this book when approached initially. ‘You will probably put my face on the cover and I would be recognized by many more people on the streets and that’s always a problem. It takes away from my freedom.’

The Reluctant Billionaire is a tale for everyone who has once had a secret dream, an insanely bold one.

The Journey of Jugaad 3.0 – an Interview with the Author!

Based on hundreds of interviews, as well as the author’s consulting work within companies, Jugaad 3.0 Hacking the Corporation will prove that every organization’s best chance, to survive and become better than ever, lies within itself. Against the decidedly progressive, action-oriented, and above all restless backdrop of disruption, the DNA of established business is starting to realign. It’s the beginning of a groundswell that has started to make lean entrepreneurship a core competency within big business.

We had a chat with the author, Simone Ahuja. Read all about it below!

What was your favorite part while writing this book? Any particular interview was very interesting/enlightening?

My favorite part of writing is always interviewing intrapreneurs and innovation leaders. This allows for a more authentic and compelling story since I learn from their real experiences, victories, and challenges, and compare notes with experiences I’ve been through with my clients. It’s the anthropologist in me that likes to access practitioners from various backgrounds, and then synthesize and analyze the information they share to help others solve similar issues. My readers come from a diverse range of backgrounds, so it was important for me to provide interviews from an equally diverse range of fields.

One of my favorite interviews was with L’Oreal chemist, Balanda Atis, and Stanley Black and Decker’s PR manager, Sarah Wyndham. They demonstrated key characteristics of successful intrapreneurs (including passion and purpose, being frugal and managing ambiguity) to drive their innovations forward. Both intrapreneurs knew that they could not create their vision alone, so they “enlisted” others in a win-win collaboration to push their ideas into reality since the DIY methodology calls for curiosity, humility, a willingness to experiment and deep collaboration.


One piece of advice for a budding intrapreneur?

Definitley to partner with others. Finding mentors and sponsors in crucial in the innovation process since they can provide intrapreneurs with valuable lessons, networking opportunities, and varied perspectives. High-quality mentors and sponsors can take an intrapreneur to the next level of success because of their previous experience and resources, the air cover they can provide, the doors they can open, and the fingerprints they may be able to help keep off of your initiative. 


 What was your writing routine for this book?

I started this book by searching for intrapreneurs across the world and across industries. We then took deep dives into their journeys to understand their successes and barriers to intrapreneurship until I was fully immersed. Finally, I began to synthesize and analyze my interview data which is what resulted in the principals that I share in Jugaad 3.0.

 Any challenges you faced while writing this particular book?

Writing a book is all consuming and I had two births this year: the birth of this book and the birth of my daughter, Zara. Writing can be an immersive process, so it’s a challenge while also working and raising my two-month-old daughter alongside my 4 and a half-year-old son. This year has been extraordinarily busy and exciting, but these births made my priorities were very clear.  Anything superfluous easily fell to the wayside.


 How was it different from writing Jugaad Innovation?

Writing this book was quite a different experience for me since I wrote this one on my own. My editors and publishers supported me immensely, but in the end, it came down to my judgment and decision making – and at times that can be a lonely road! Being a solo author was unlike writing with co-authors; I enjoyed the camaraderie and collaboration of writing Jugaad Innovation, but I also fully enjoyed the experience of writing this book on my own, especially because it is so closely linked to my work and solving a problem (moving ideas through to execution) faced by so many of my clients.

Jugaad 3.0 Hacking the Corporation offers a spectrum of carefully crafted archetypes to help people see themselves in this trend and allow organizations identify the innovators in their midst.

The Three Things Managers Think about All Day

 When I was first starting out, my mind would have gone straight to the everyday duties—preparing for that next meeting, removing a roadblock for a report, coming up with an execution plan for the next month.

J. Richard Hackman, the leading scholar of teams, spent forty years trying to answer this question. He studied the ways professionals work together in hospitals, in symphony orchestras, and inside the cockpits of commercial airliners. One of his conclusions is that making a team function well is harder than it looks. “Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have,” he says. “That’s because problems with coordination and motivation typically chip away at the benefits of collaboration.”

Hackman’s research describes five conditions that increase a team’s odds of success: having a real team (one with clear boundaries and stable membership), a compelling direction, an enabling structure, a supportive organizational context, and expert coaching.

My own observations are similar, and I’ve come to think of the multitude of tasks that fill up a manager’s day as sorting neatly into three buckets: purpose, people, and process.

The purpose is the outcome your team is trying to accomplish, otherwise known as the why. Why do you wake up and choose to do this thing instead of the thousands of other things you could be doing? Why pour your time and energy into this particular goal with this particular group of people? What would be different about the world if your team were wildly successful? Everyone on the team should have a similar picture of why does our work matter? If this purpose is missing or unclear, then you may experience conflicts or mismatched expectations.

For example, let’s say your vision is to get a lemonade stand on every block, starting first in your city and then expanding throughout the country. However, your employee Henry is under the impression that your stand ought to be a popular hangout spot for the neighbors. He’ll start doing things that you think are unimportant or wasteful, like buying a bunch of lawn chairs or trying to serve pizza along with lemonade. To prevent these misalignments, you’ll need to get him and the other members of your team on board with what you truly care about.

At the same time, you can’t simply demand that everyone believe in your vision. If Henry thinks your grand plan of “a lemonade stand on every block” is stupid, he won’t be motivated to help you see it through. He might decide instead to join a venture he cares more about, like that pizza-and-pool parlor down the street.

The first big part of your job as a manager is to ensure that your team knows what success looks like and cares about achieving it. Getting everyone to understand and believe in your team’s purpose, whether it’s as specific as “make every customer who calls feel cared for” or as broad as “bring the world closer together,” requires understanding and believing in it yourself, and then sharing it at every opportunity—from writing emails to setting goals, from checking in with a single report to hosting large-scale meetings.

The next important bucket that managers think about is people, otherwise known as the who. Are the members of your team set up to succeed? Do they have the right skills? Are they motivated to do great work?

If you don’t have the right people for the job, or you don’t have an environment where they can thrive, then you’re going to have problems. For example, say Eliza doesn’t precisely measure the right amount of lemon juice, sugar, and water for your secret formula, or Henry can’t be bothered to greet customers politely, or you’re terrible at planning. Your lemonade stand will suffer. To manage people well, you must develop trusting relationships with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses (as well as your own), make good decisions about who should do what (including hiring and firing when necessary), and coach individuals to do their best.

Finally, the last bucket is process, which describes how your team works together. You might have a superbly talented team with a very clear understanding of what the end goal is, but if it’s not apparent how everyone’s supposed to work together or what the team’s values are, then even simple tasks can get enormously complicated. Who should do what by when? What principles should govern decision-making?

For example, say it’s Henry’s job to pick up lemonade ingredients from the store and it’s Eliza’s job to make the lemonade. How will Henry know when he needs to make a run? How will Eliza find the supplies? What should happen if lemons run out on a particularly hot day? If there isn’t a predictable plan, Henry and Eliza will waste time coordinating handoffs and dealing with the inevitable mistakes that arise.

Often, people have an allergic reaction to the word process. For me, it used to conjure up the feeling of glacial progress. I imagined myself flailing around in huge stacks of paperwork, my calendar filled with tedious meetings. In a processless world, I imagined myself free to do whatever was needed to make things happen quickly, with no red tape, no barriers, no overhead.

There’s some truth to this. We’ve already established that when you are working by yourself, you get to make all the decisions. You are limited only by how fast you can think and act.

In a team setting, it’s impossible for a group of people to coordinate what needs to get done without spending time on it. The larger the team, the more time is needed. As talented as we are, mind reading is not a core human competency. We need to establish common values within our team for how we make decisions and respond to problems. For managers, important processes to master include running effective meetings, future proofing against past mistakes, planning for tomorrow, and nurturing a healthy culture.

Purpose, people, process. The why, the who, and the how. A great manager constantly asks herself how she can influence these levers to improve her team’s outcomes. As the team grows in size, it matters less and less how good she is personally at doing the work herself. What matters more is how much of a multiplier effect she has on her team. So how does this work in practice?

Suppose I can personally sell twenty cups of lemonade per hour. Suppose Henry and Eliza can each sell fifteen cups of lemonade per hour.

Suppose we all worked four hours a day. Because I’m the best among us at selling lemonade, it might seem like a good use of my time to man the stand. I’d sell eighty cups a day, and Henry and
Eliza would each sell sixty cups. My contribution would be 40 percent of our total sales!

But what could I do instead with my time? Suppose I spent it teaching Henry and Eliza how to become better lemonade salespeople. (Tell lemon jokes! Portion out the ingredients ahead of time! Pour cups in bulk!) If all this training took me thirty hours, that’s the equivalent of six hundred cups of lemonade that I could have sold instead; that’s a lot to give up.

And yet, if that training helps Henry and Eliza sell sixteen cups per hour instead of fifteen, it would mean an extra eight cups a day sold between the two of them. It’s a small improvement, but in less than three months, they’ll have made up those six hundred cups I didn’t sell. If they end up working at the stand for a whole year, my thirty hours spent on training instead of personally selling lemonade will mean over two thousand extra cups sold!

Training isn’t the only thing I can do. What if I used those thirty hours to recruit my neighbor Toby? He’s so persuasive he could convince a leopard to buy spots. Suppose my “lemonade stand on every block” vision inspires him to join the team. He ends up selling thirty cups of lemonade an hour, putting all our skills to shame. In a year, that means our stand will see an additional 21,000-plus cups sold!

If I spend all my time personally selling lemonade, then I’m contributing an additive amount to my business, not a multiplicative one. My performance as a manager would be considered poor because I’m actually operating as an individual contributor.

When I decided to train Henry and Eliza, my efforts resulted in slightly more lemonade output, so I had a small multiplier effect. I’m on the right track, but it’s nothing to write home about. When I hired Toby, it resulted in a much bigger multiplier effect.

Of course, the example above is very simple. In real life, it’s not so easy to quantify what you might get out of doing one thing versus another, and we’ll talk more about best practices for prioritizing your time in later chapters. But no matter what you choose, the principles of success remain the same.

Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.

Whether you’re new to the job, a veteran leader, or looking to be promoted, this is the Handbook you need to be the kind of manager you’ve always wanted. Get your copy here.
This article first appeared on Penguin UK website. Read it here.

What Makes Tim Cook the Coolest CEO?

Tim Cook accepted the role of CEO at Apple, acknowledging that he was going to work within the system that Steve Jobs had established. It couldn’t have been less like Jobs’s return in ­1997. Unlike Jobs, Cook wasn’t going to tear down what wasn’t working and rebuild; he had been a steady captain in his role as COO and planned to keep the ship on its existing trajectory. Unsurprisingly, he did not immediately announce any major changes that would cause investors or fans concern. He wanted to earn their trust first.

So what made Tim Cook the coolest CEO? Read on to find out!

What matters most at a mature company like Apple is not the products but rather the logistics— an efficient supply chain, distribution, finance, and marketing. And Cook has proven his talents for all of these. As a result he is the best CEO Apple has ever had.


In a memo to employees, he applauded Apple’s success and thanked staffers for their hard work. Though he said they should be proud of this accomplishment, he also made it clear that “it’s not the most important measure of our success. It’s clear from the memo that he deeply appreciates the contributions of all Apple employees, from entry- level to executive.


During his tenure as CEO, Cook has been proactive about increasing diversity at Apple. He has promoted and recruited women and minorities to Apple’s executive ranks.


Cook has been actively encouraging the employment of underrepresented minorities, like the disabled and veterans, and he believes that not enough leaders are speaking out about diversity. He quoted Dr. King’s “the appalling silence of the good people,” saying that part of the problem is that people with good intentions don’t speak up. It’s not a subject a lot of CEOs engage in.


He pointed to Jony Ive, Craig Federighi, Jeff Williams, Dan Riccio, and newly appointed retail chief Angela Ahrendts, and said, “It’s a privilege of a lifetime to work with them.” He noted how these executives, each with different talents, were complementing his own. “I believe in diversity with a capital D,” he said.


Privacy is another of Cook’s values that has remained high on Apple’s agenda since he took over as CEO. From the earliest mention of privacy issues in 2013 to the San Bernardino dilemma to the present day, he has taken the issue of user privacy very seriously. Protecting the privacy of Apple users has always been a key focus for Cook, who has stated he is a “very private person” who likes “being anonymous.”


Apple employees are proud of what their company has achieved so far. Cook encourages a competitive atmosphere not only surrounding Apple products but also environmental initiatives.


Apple is now considered one of the greenest companies in the technology industry, but it wasn’t until Cook was permanently installed as CEO that its environmental efforts became entirely genuine.


To consolidate his role as Apple’s new leader in 2013 and 2014, Cook explored opportunities in new markets, sought out interesting partnerships, and peddled ruthless innovation of the iPhone and development of the Apple Watch. By the end of November 2014, after its stock price hit a record high, Apple’s market capitalization surpassed a staggering $700 billion for the first time.

Drawing on access with several Apple insiders, Kahney tells the inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace someone irreplaceable, and–through strong, humane leadership, supply chain savvy, and a commitment to his values–succeeded more than anyone had thought possible. Get your copy here!

Do you really know Tim Cook as well as you THINK you do?

On Sunday, August ­­11, 2011­­, Tim Cook got a call that would change his life. When he picked up the phone, Steve Jobs was on the other end, asking him to come to his home in Palo Alto. When he arrived, Jobs told Cook that he wanted him to take over as CEO of Apple. The plan was for Jobs to step down as CEO, go into semiretirement, and become the chairman of Apple’s board.

As CEO, Tim Cook took Apple to the next lever. Here are a few interesting facts about him!

Cook was a shadowy figure. He’d never appeared in any product videos and had presented at Apple’s product launches on only a few occasions when Jobs was ill. He had given almost no interviews over his career and had been the subject of only a smattering of magazine articles (none of which he participated in). He was largely unknown.


Cook had stepped in when Jobs took two leaves of absence, in 2009 and 2011, after his initial pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2003. While Jobs was away, Cook ran Apple as chief executive, overseeing the company’s day- to- day operations.


Cook wanted to create a sense of company camaraderie, which was lacking when Jobs was at the helm, so he took to sending more companywide emails, in which he addressed the Apple employees as “Team.” One of his earliest such messages as CEO, in August 2011­­, struck a reassuring tone.


Cook’s reputation initially worked against him— he was certainly a master of operations, but many thought him to be a colorless, unimaginative drone. He had none of the charisma and driving personality of his former boss, which was what people had grown to expect from Apple’s CEO.


Timothy Donald Cook was born on November ­1, 1960, in Mobile, Alabama, a port city on the Gulf coast and the state’s third- biggest city. He was the second of three sons born to Don and Geraldine Cook. Both of his parents were rural Alabama natives.


The Cook family was religious, leading Tim to become religious himself. He has made references to his Christian belief throughout his career.


Cook excelled at subjects like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry— anything with an analytical edge. In all six years of middle and high school, he was voted the “most studious,” and in 1978 he earned the second- highest grades of his year, becoming salutatorian of his graduating class.


The hatred and discrimination Cook witnessed during his childhood would stick with him throughout his life, influencing the way he acts in life and in business.


Cook’s support of marginalized minority groups was influenced too by his experience growing up gay in the South.


After graduating from high school in ­, Cook left Robertsdale to attend Auburn University, where he pursued a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering, one of his long- term goals.

Drawing on access with several Apple insiders, Kahney tells the inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace someone irreplaceable, and–through strong, humane leadership, supply chain savvy, and a commitment to his values–succeeded more than anyone had thought possible. Get your copy here!

Being Good at something Isn’t a Strength. Here’s Why.

You crave feedback. Your organization’s culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. Your competencies should be measured and your weaknesses shored up. Leadership is a thing.

These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they’re lies.

From Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall’s book, Nine Lies About Work, we extract another lie that must be debunked from the chapter The Best People are well-rounded that talks about strength vs ability when it comes to being good at something.

Lionel Messi plies his trade on the world’s largest sporting stages, but you may have experienced similar admiration for colleagues at work. One of them puts together a presentation and delivers it with wit and clarity, and you smile. Another handles a grumpy customer with just the right mix of empathy and practicality, and you marvel at how easy she made it look. Another defuses a complex political situation, and you look at him in awe and wonder how on earth he did it. As humans, we are wired to find joy in seeing someone else’s talents in action. We resonate with the naturalness, the fluidity, and the honesty of a thing done brilliantly well, and it attracts us and draws us in.

You will have recognized the Messi joy when it is your own performance that you’re experiencing, too – that is, when you are expressing your own strengths. This sensation is not, at root, created by how good you are at something. Rather, it’s created by how that activity makes you feel. A strength, properly defined, is not “something you are good at.” You will have many activities or skills that, by dint of your intelligence, your sense of responsibility, or your disciplined practice, you are quite good at, and that nonetheless bore you, or leave you cold, or even drain you. “Something you are good at” is not a strength; it is an ability. And, yes, you will be able to demonstrate high ability – albeit briefly – at quite a few things that bring you no joy whatsoever.

A strength, on the other hand, is an “activity that makes you feel strong.” Before you do it, you find yourself actively looking forward to doing it. While you are doing it, time seems to speed up, one moment blurring into the next. And after you’ve done with it, while you may be tired and not quite ready to suit up and tackle it again, you nonetheless feel filled up, proud. It is the combination of three distinct feelings – positive anticipation beforehand, flow during, and fulfillment afterward – that make a certain activity a strength. And it is this combination of feelings that produces in you the yearning to do the activity again and again, to practice it over and over, to thrill to the chance to do it just one more time. A strength is far more appetite than ability, and indeed it is the appetite ingredient that feeds the desire to keep working on it and that, in the end, produces the skill improvement necessary for excellent performance.

Nine Lies About Work reveals the few core truths that will help you show just how good you are to those who truly rely on you.

Lie #1: People Care which Company they Work For

In their book, Nine Lies About Work, strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leadership and Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall show that there are some big lies – distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking – that we encounter every time we show up for work.

Nine lies, to be exact. Here’s an extract from the first chapter, that talks about the first lie i.e. People care which company they work for

From the outside looking in, it’s pretty hard to figure out what it might be like to work for a particular company. If you’re job hunting, you might start by searching online as Lisa did—perhaps on Glassdoor or one of the other job boards where employees can rate their current company—or by talking to friends about where they’ve worked and what their experi- ences were. You might try to talk to a recruiter, although it’s tricky to do that if you’re not yet sure you’re going to apply. You might try to figure it out by reading the coverage of a company in the press, but this can be frustrating, since articles tend to focus more on a company’s products or its strategy, rather than on its culture per se. Wherever you look, you’ll find yourself wondering if what you’re discovering is really representa- tive of the company, and is giving you a good sense of the inside story. In search of more objectivity and breadth, then, you might turn to Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Fortune publishes its ranking every January, and this issue of the magazine is one of the most widely read of the year. The ranking is based on an anonymous survey of the employees at each com- pany (known as the “Trust Index”), together with a submission that each company puts together describing how it invests in its people and what it has to offer them (called the “Culture Audit”). From all this, the editors at the magazine and the analysts at the Great Place to Work Institute (which conducts the research) put together a list that tells you which companies are the best to work for that year, together with descriptions of the various perks they offer and brief testimony from current employees. In 2018 the top six, in order, were Salesforce, Wegmans, Ultimate Software, Boston Consulting Group, Edward Jones, and Kimpton Hotels, selected for reasons ranging from the pragmatic (paying bonuses for employee referrals, offer- ing Starbucks gift cards during busy times, on-site child day care) to the noble (giving millions of dollars’ worth of reclaimed food to the hungry, building environmentally friendly offices, always trying to promote from within) to the quirky (Salesforce has an entire floor dedicated to ohana, the Hawaiian for family, while Kimpton offers all new hires a welcome care package complete with each person’s favorite snacks).

If you are indeed looking for a job, you read Fortune’s list in search  of insights about a given company. What will your colleagues be like? How will they treat you? What will a typical day be like? Will your work be interesting, challenging, and valued? Is this a company that really cares for its people? If you go through the long process of apply- ing, and interviewing, and negotiating an offer, and ultimately land- ing a job there, will this be a company that puts as much into you and your career as you’re going to put into it?

What, precisely, is this list measuring about these companies? Read the submissions, the press releases, and Fortune’s own descriptions of the winners, and the word you land on is culture. Salesforce has a “family culture,” hence the Ohana floor. Wegmans has a culture based on its mission to “help people live healthier, better lives through food.” Kimpton Hotels has an “inclusiveness culture.” Each of these companies, it appears, has figured out what kind of culture it wants to build, and then has made it onto the list because it has been resolute and effective in its pursuit. Judging by these and other examples, this thing called culture really matters. It is potentially more important than what the company does—“Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”— how the company does it, how much the employees get paid, or even the company’s current stock price.

Culture matters, according to the voluminous literature on the topic, because it has three powerful contributions to make. First, it tells you who you are at work. If you’re  at  Patagonia,  you’d rather be surfing. You work in beautiful Oxnard, California, and your onboarding consists of a day-long beach party where you are gifted the CEO’s autobiography—Let My People Go Surfing—and where your first meeting takes place around a campfire. If you’re at Goldman Sachs, then never mind the surfing—you’d rather be winning. You wear your bespoke suit every day because you’re a winner. It means something to say that you work for Deloitte, or for Apple, or for Chick-fil-A—and this meaning says something about you, something that locates you and differentiates you, that defines your tribe.

Second, culture has come to be how we choose to explain success. When Tesla’s stock was on the rise in the early part of 2017, it wasn’t because people were finally getting the electric cars they’d paid deposits for a year earlier—they weren’t. Rather, it was because Elon Musk had created a culture of cool, a place where you couldn’t even see the cutting edge because it was so far behind you. When Toyota had to recall over six million vehicles, the direct cause was a problem with the shift-lever assembly, but the deeper explanation we arrived at was that it was a problem with their polite yet win-at-all- costs culture.

And third, culture is now a watchword for where we want our company to go: almost overnight, a big part of the job description of senior corporate leaders has become to create a specific sort of culture, a culture of “performance,” perhaps, or a culture of “feedback,” or a culture of “inclusion,” or a culture of “innovation”; to shape the direc- tion of the company they lead by infusing it with particular traits that govern how people behave. Beyond explaining the now, culture has become our handle on the next.

As a team leader you are going to be told, repeatedly, that you must take stock of all this because you are responsible for embodying your company’s culture, and for building a team that adheres to these cultural norms. You will be asked to select only applicants who fit the culture, to identify high-potentials by whether or not they embody the company culture, to run your meetings in a way that fits the cul- ture, and, at company off-sites, to don the T-shirts and sing the songs.

All of which is fine, right up to the point where you start to wonder what, precisely, you are being held accountable for. Read the Fortune list again and you’ll be struck by the fact that a very small percentage of what’s written about your company is in your job description. Having an on-site day-care facility, giving all employees 20 percent of their time to pursue their own interests, offering large rewards for referring a new hire, and building solar panels on the roof are all admirable initiatives, yet none of them is within your control. They are commitments made by others—the executive committee or the board—and while you may think them worthy, and may indeed be proud that they are something your tribe contributes to the world, you can’t do anything about them. They are off in some other place, far from the day-to-day projects and deadlines, the ongoing actions and interactions, that actually comprise your world of work.

When people ask you what it’s “really like” to work at your company, you immediately know you’re going to tell them not about the solar panels and the cafeteria, but about what it’s really like. So you’ll get real, and talk about how work is parceled out, whether many managers play favorites, how disputes get resolved, whether the real meeting happens only after the formal meeting is over, how people get promoted, how territorial the teams are, how large the power distance is between senior leaders and everyone else, whether good news or bad news travels fastest, how much recognition there is, and whether performance or politics is most prized. You’ll get down to the two-foot level of how work actually gets done, and try to tease out what your company truly feels like to the people on the ground.

You won’t know whether to call this “culture” or not, just as you won’t necessarily know how to label each of these two-foot-level details, but in every fiber of your being you’ll know that this ground- level stuff is what’ll decide how hard people will work once they’ve joined, and how long they’ll stay. This ground-level stuff is what they truly care about. Indeed, this ground-level stuff is what you truly care about.

In which case, your most pressing question, as a team leader, will be something like this: If I am to help my team give their best, for as long as possible, which of these details are most critical? Tell me the most important ones, and I’ll do my level best to pay attention to those.

We’ve spent the last two decades attempting to answer this ques- tion for you. In the next few pages we’ll outline what we’ve found, and then we’ll focus the rest of this book on going deeper, and on giving you insights and prescriptions for how you can address the things that matter most.

And in so doing, the first lie we’ll need to expose is precisely that people care which company they work for. It sounds so odd to label this a lie, since each of us does indeed feel some sort of connection to our company, but read on, and we think you’ll see that while what each of us truly cares about may begin as “company,” it quickly morphs into something else rather different.

Nine Lies About Work reveals the few core truths that will help you show just how good you are to those who truly rely on you.

error: Content is protected !!