A Leadership Must-Read: The Outsiders

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A Leadership Must-Read: The Outsiders

I just finished a highly counter-intuitive, tremendously inspiring book by Will Thorndike, a private equity veteran with Housatonic Partners, entitled The Outsiders.  I am telling all my executive coaching clients to read it ASAP.  Thorndike introduces us to eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders, you’ll learn the leadership traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.  Humble, unassuming, and often frugal, these “outsiders” shunned Wall Street and the press, and shied away from the hottest new management trends. Instead, they shared specific traits that put them and the companies they led on winning trajectories: a laser-sharp focus on per share value as opposed to earnings or sales growth; an exceptional talent for allocating capital and human resources; and the belief that cash flow, not reported earnings, determines a company’s long-term value.  Drawing on years of research and experience, Thorndike tells eye-opening stories, extracting lessons and revealing a compelling alternative model for anyone interested in leading a company or investing in one—and reaping extraordinary returns.

 
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