Jason Jennings is the NY Times Bestselling Author of several books including Its Not the Big that Eat the Small its the Fast that Eat the Slow (with Laurence Haughton), Less is More, Think Big Act Small and the just released Hit the Ground Running.
As someone USA Today named one of the three most in-demand business speakers on the planet, Jason finds jewels in his research and tells stories with clarity few can match.
It's a pleasure to have him talk about his new book and share the surprising and sometimes counter-intuitive success secrets of the CEO's who have created the most value for their shareholders since 2000.
Jason, Did you find these CEO's to be smarter than everyone else?
No, I didn't find them to be smarter. They're all bright bulbs on the string but what differentiates them from their peers is their authenticity, humility, their determination to never make a decision without contemplating it's long term consequences and their genuine affection for their workers, customers, vendors and suppliers and shareholders. If you believe (as I do) that frequently dumb is smart and smart is dumb these leaders are incredible listeners who never tire of asking questions.
What surprised you?
After screening more than 120,000 companies and studying more than 20,000 in depth for my previous books I think I've developed a fairly accurate BS Meter and can state unequivocally that the needle never budged during the many hundreds of hours I spent with these guys. They don't do what they do for money. These are leaders who truly want to improve the economic condition of every stakeholder. Today, in business, when someone tells you that it's all the money they're also signaling they'll do anything to get the money and look where that mentality brought us. These guys are the real deal; true stewards.
What advice should leaders take away from your work?
They should forget everything conventional wisdom taught them remembering two things about conventional wisdom; that it brought us to the edge of financial disaster and that the most you can ever achieve by following conventional wisdom are conventional results.
Instead they should take the ten rules we discovered and make them their own. For example, a few of them:
1. Practice the golden rule in everything you do - you will reap exactly what you sow
2. Gain the belief of everyone around you instead of demanding of expecting respect.
3. Ask everyone around for help; don't pretend to have all the answers or the plan. Remember what happened to Carly Fiorina at HP. On her first day she announced to the company that she had the plan and strategy for HP. Everyone felt left out, came to hate her and her regal ways and during her reign she halved the companies value.
4. Work ruthlessly to simplify everything instead of making it more complicated.
5. Make sure that everyone in the company knows the strategy and their role in its achievement.
6. Cultivate a fierce sense of urgency in everyone because either things aren't going well and you need to fix them fast or things are going well but the world (and your circumstances) are going to change and you need to be ready.
How can Hit the Ground Running help a corporate manager or entrepreneur?
The rules in the book are truly a step by step guide to doing the rights things the right way and achieving results quickly. What more could anyone want?
How important is culture?
The right culture is the only competitive advantage a company can ever have! One day, somebody else will manufacture, sell and produce what you do better, faster and cheaper. Your competitors can steal your customers, your people, your marketing and duplicate your pricing. The only thing that truly belongs to any organization is it's culture. But, I emphasize again that it must be the right culture.
In this time of reinvention what is the advice you have for leaders?
It's time to become a fish out of water and reject the stupid advise that's been proffered by the business leaders we rushed to admire because of their money during the past decade. They've either been discredited, are going to jail or have been revealed for being boorish asses who didn't know of what they spoke. On pages 201 and 202 of my book I list the traits of the fish of water leader.
What's next for you?
Coming out at the end of the year is a book I've done with a doctor destined to become America's Heart Doctor. His name is Dr. John Kennedy and the book is titled, The 15 Minute Cure - How To Heal Your Heart and End Stress in Fifteen Minutes a Day. It's my first book out of the business and leadership genre and truly believe it will save millions of lives. Then, it's on to my next leadership book which I'm keeping a secret for a while. I did manage to learn a valuable life lesson this summer. I took off six weeks which we spent at our family lakeside lodge in northern Michigan alongside the bear, moose, deer, wolves and soaring eagles. During my time there I didn't think about books or speeches and only engaged in hard physical labor. It's the best thing I've ever done. While moving 44,000 pounds of mulch and thirty tons of sand one wheelbarrow at a time several hundred yards and felling, cutting, splitting, chopping and stacking scores of hundred foot trees things really come into perspective. So one thing that's next for me is taking off six weeks next summer to do it all over again.
To learn more about Jason and his work, Click HERE
To view a video book review of Hit the Ground Running, Click HERE