I love reading books about business, leadership, marketing, and strategy.

I’m often reading these books with a highlighter so I can capture key passages and themes and refer back to them. But it’s hard to go back through a full book and search for the parts that I underlined, or for the notes I scribbled in the margins. I need something quick and easy that delivers the key takeaways.

So I’ve started to actually transcribe my highlighted sections, and any additional notes, into a more concise summary that I can easily reference. Below is an example of a recent recap I did for “The Real-Life MBA” by Jack and Suzy Welch. This boils down the entire 220+ page book into just my top takeaways. It helps me remember the key points that I want to incorporate into my life and career. And I hope it helps you too!

KEY TAKEAWAYS: THE REAL-LIFE MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch

Alignment and Leadership are the 2 most important success factors for any organization

ALIGNMENT

Alignment of Mission, Behaviors, and Consequences is critical

o Mission pinpoints an organization’s destination — where you’re going & why, and what achieving it will mean for the lives of each and every employee

o Behaviors are the way employees need to think, feel, communicate & act in order to make the mission reality

o Consequences are promotions or bonuses (or not) based on how much employees embrace and advance the mission and how well they demonstrate the behaviors

Clarify the mission, name the behaviors, and then measure and reward people on how well they demonstrate both

LEADERSHIP

Leadership, very simply, is about 2 things:

1. Truth

2. Trust

Ceaselessly speak & seek the former, relentlessly build the latter

5 Essential Leadership activities (fully aligned with truth-and-trust leadership):

1. The best leaders care more about their people than themselves — like coaches standing on the sidelines because they can’t contain their excitement about how and what everyone’s doing, & know what makes each one of them tick

2. Leaders exist, in large part, to give purpose to their teams — relentlessly, passionately explain, “Here’s where we’re going. Here’s why. Here’s how we’re going to get there. Here’s how you fit in. Here’s what’s in it for you.”

3. Remove blockages and bureaucracy from your people’s way — and get rid of the action blockers, change resisters, process obsessives. The “That’s not how we do it around here” “It didn’t used to be that way” people.

4. The best leaders love to give raises. They’re thrilled to see their employees grow and get promoted. They celebrate their people in every way they can — with money, more responsibility, and public praise. And it turns them on to do it.

5. Make sure Work is Fun — create an environment that’s exciting and enjoyable. Celebrate milestones and small successes, embrace humor and candor, smite bureaucratic behavior, let people be themselves, do stuff together outside the office.

A couple things to remember:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

The most valuable resource you have as a manager is your attention. Invest it in top people and those with the potential to join their ranks. Underperformers need to move on — sooner rather than later.

GROWTH — You gotta have it

Growth is a mindset — Every person needs to come to work every day knowing you’re a growth company. If you don’t think growth every day, and say growth every day, it won’t happen.

5 Ways to Drive Growth:

1. Bring in fresh eyes — hire new people for fresh perspective

2. Don’t sprinkle resources — if you want growth, don’t hedge your bets. Go big to get big.

3. Innovation is everyone’s job and a mindset — but innovation should be defined to mean Incremental improvements held to everyone’s job. Not just the big breakthrough idea. Everyone should walk through the door every day saying, “I’m going to find a better way to do my job today.”

4. Staff growth initiatives with your best people

5. Reward those who embody the growth mindset and drive growth, and get rid of the growth resisters (the people who resent the growth initiatives) — even one person can infect your organization with negative energy

SPECIALTY AREAS

FINANCE

When it comes to finance, main interest should be variance analysis — comparing key numbers month over month, or year over year, or comparing them to plan, to see what’s working in your organization and what isn’t

3 key indicators for a business’s well-being — employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow (Cash flow tells you in raw, hard numbers how much money went out, how much came in, and how much money you have)

You mainly need to be curious — relentlessly curious about the variances that tell you how the business is doing, where it’s going, why, and how fast

MARKETING

The 5 P’s — Product, Place (Distribution), Price, Promotional (messaging), People

  1. Product — Desirable product that makes the customer’s life better in some way. This is always the most important element before marketing can work.
  2. Place — Which channels should we select in order to profitably sell the most volume?
  3. Price — Identify the price you want to charge (a function of cost and branding), identify the cost you think your customers want and expect to pay, and then test every point between them
  4. Promotion — Tell your company’s story in 2 approaches

1. Experimentation without attachment — test the creative. Messaging is only great if it gets results. So test out a few different types of messaging and creative and then invest behind what works best.

2. Experimentation with surprise — use experiential marketing, the creation of customer experiences as a means of increasing exposure, shareability, brand equity, and of course, sales.

Think experiment, think delight. Ask, “Are we doing enough with our messaging to surprise people in a good way?”

5. People — Marketing needs to sit beside and within every function in the organization. Cannot be siloed.

YOUR CAREER

Area of Destiny

The intersection point of your capabilities and happiness is where you should build your career. Figure out what industries, companies, or lines of work exist at the intersection.

1. What are you better at than the majority of people? In fact, what are you better at than most people? Cannot overestimate the importance of taking the time to identify the skill, capability, or trait (or two) that really differentiates you from the pack

2. What fills you with the most excitement, expectation, and joy? What do you love to do and rarely get enough of?

Career Advancement

6 Ways to Jump-start your career (do all or pick a few to heavy up)

1. Overdeliver — Exceed expectations and overdeliver results

2. Volunteer for hard duty — A hard, high visibility assignment, and in particular, the one nobody wants to touch

3. Prepare and speak up — frequently share your smart insights and strong opinions to contribute to your organization’s success

4. Make sure you stay current on technology — embrace it and learn it or be left behind.

5. Consider everyone your mentor — Everyone knows something you don’t. Find that something and grab it to make your work smarter and better.

6. Love everyone — it’s a heart thing. Trade in politicking and nattering for kindness and encouragement

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