Founders

By David Senra

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Subscribers: 210
Reviews: 2

Marius Posogan
 Feb 3, 2020
I really really love This podcast. I enjoy listening to stories about the life of many amazing people throughout the history. History doesn't repeat itself the Human Nature does

Catalin
 Jul 17, 2018

Description

Learn from history's greatest entrepreneurs. Every week I read a biography of an entrepreneur and find ideas you can use in your work. This quote explains why: "There are thousands of years of history in which lots and lots of very smart people worked very hard and ran all types of experiments on how to create new businesses, invent new technology, new ways to manage etc. They ran these experiments throughout their entire lives. At some point, somebody put these lessons down in a book. For very little money and a few hours of time, you can learn from someone’s accumulated experience. There is so much more to learn from the past than we often realize. You could productively spend your time reading experiences of great people who have come before and you learn every time." —Marc Andreessen

Episode Date
#288 Ralph Lauren
01:03:50

What I learned from reading Ralph Lauren: The Man Behind the Mystique by Jeffrey Trachtenberg.

This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

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Follow one of my favorite podcasts Invest Like The Best and listen to episode 311 John Fio — Creating Magic for Consumers, episode 307 Jeremiah Lowin: Explaining the New AI Paradigm, and episode 293 The Business of Gaming. 

[2:01] When I lumped him together with a handful of other designers during casual conversation, he snapped: “Don't put me with those designers. My business is not compared to anybody else's."

[3:00] In practice Ralph Lauren is a tough, intensely ambitious businessman.

[3:00] Ralph has always possessed immense self-confidence; it is central to his character, an asset as valuable as his sense of color, fabric, style.

[4:00] Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie. (Founders #199)

[7:00] Few outsiders understood fully how lucrative the licensing business had become. Ralph would have been a successful designer in his own right. However, he would never have qualified as one of the world's richest men without licensees willing to pay him 5 to 7 percent of sales.

[7:00] His privately held fashion empire was on the brink of bankruptcy. Geffen surmised that the company should be transformed from a manufacturing firm to a design, marketing, and licensing company. "You guys stink at manufacturing," he said. "You need to get out of that business." Instead, Geffen continued, the company needed to focus on what it really knew: how to design and market the Calvin Klein brand name. — The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells The New Hollywood by Tom King

[14:00] When my customers come to me, they like to cross the threshold of some magic place; they feel a satisfaction that is perhaps a trace vulgar but that delights them: they are privileged characters who are incorporated into our legend. For them this is a far greater pleasure than ordering another suit.” —Coco Chanel, 1935

[16:00] What he lacked in experience he compensated it for an energy and enthusiasm.

[17:00] Differentiation is survival. — Jeff Bezos Jeff Bezos' Shareholder Letters (Founders #282)

[19:00] Mediocrity is always invisible until passion shows up and exposes it.

[22:00] From the beginning I've been aware of the need to sell everybody. — Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe. (Founders #188)

[26:00] Difference for the sake of it. In everything. Because it must be better. From the moment the idea strikes, to the running of the business. Difference, and retention of total control. — Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[28:00] Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by Akio Morita. (Founders #102)

[32:00] Intransigence is my only weapon. — Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson. (Founders #224)

[41:00] It's torture being a partner to somebody you don't want to be a partner with.

[45:00] On a Thursday night he wins an award for best men’s wear designer. The next day he could not meet his payroll.

[49:00] When bills come due, only cash is legal tender. Don't leave home without it. — The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham. (Founders #227)

[54:00] You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient. — Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton.

[55:00] The thing that set Ralph apart was his single-mindedness of purpose. Everybody else moved from place to place, from trend to trend. He wasn't trendy. He stayed with it. It's the single most important thing about him. To this day there are people walking around saying Ralph Lauren isn't that special, I could have done it. It's the weirdest thing. They couldn't be more wrong. Ralph is the most special guy in the apparel business.

[55:00] Graham Duncan on the Tim Ferriss Show

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 31, 2023
#287 The Founder of Rolls-Royce
00:40:20

What I learned from rereading Rolls-Royce: The Magic of a Name: The First Forty Years of Britain s Most Prestigious Company by Peter Pugh.

This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

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[2:31] Henry Royce had known poverty and hardship all his life. The only university he had graduated from was the one of hard knocks.

[3:00] Rolls on Royce: I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Mr. Royce and in him I found the man I had been looking for for years.

[5:00] A great product has to be better than it has to be. Relentlessness wins because, in the aggregate, unseen details become visible. All those unseen details combine to produce something that's just stunning, like a thousand barely audible voices all singing in tune. — Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham (Founders #277)

[6:00] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son. — Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

[9:00] This ability to observe, think about and then improve on existing machines (products) was to be a consistent theme throughout Royce’s life.

[10:00] Many times our position was so precarious that it seemed hopeless to continue.

[12:00] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #287)

[12:00] Some have tried to give the impression that it was almost by chance that Royce became involved in designing a motor car. Royce was not a man to rely on chance. He saw that the motor car had a great future and that it would be an ideal product for his business.

[12:00] This part is excellent: There was nothing revolutionary about Royce’s car. He had taken the best of current automobile design and improved on every aspect of it. I do not think that Royce did anything of a revolutionary nature in his work on motor cars. He did, however, do much important development and a considerable amount of redesigning of existing devices so that his motor cars were far and away better than anyone else’s motor cars. He paid great attention to the smallest detail and the result of his personal consideration to every little thing resulted in the whole assembly being of a very high standard of perfection. It is rather to Royce’s thoroughness and attention to even the smallest detail than to any revolutionary invention that his products have the superlative qualities that we all know so well.

[13:00] Henry Royce ruled the lives of the people around him, claimed their body and soul, even when they were asleep.

[14:00] They didn't understand how important this was to me. —Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie. (Founders #199)

[16:00] He's made-and remade-Apple in his own image. Apple is Steve Jobs with ten thousand lives. — Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney. (Founders #204)

[21:00] Thomas Edison on how overregulation crippled the British car industry: The motor car ought to have been British. You first invented it in the 1830s. You have roads only second to those of France. You have hundreds of thousands of skilled mechanics in your midst, but you have lost your trade by stupid legislation and prejudice.

[27:00] This is a first: A company so focused on quality that they risked going to prison. Claude Johnson took the bold stand that he would tear up every drawing and go to prison rather than agree to risk inferior skills of other companies. Johnson said that the plan of using other manufacturers was futile and would yield nothing but mountains of scrap.

[28:00] Royce admitted it: I prefer to be absolute boss over my own department (even if it was extremely small) rather than to be associated with a much larger technical department over which I had only joint control.

[31:00] They worked in monastic seclusion in an office situated in the middle of the village about a quarter of a mile from Royce’s house. To ensure a minimum of distraction the office was for a number of years forbidden the luxury of a telephone. This was the team responsible for the design of every car and all their components from 1919 until Royce died in 1933. In matters concerning the actual model which eventually went into production, Royce’s decision was final.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

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I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 23, 2023
#286 Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speaking directly to you
01:18:38

What I learned from reading All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense by Peter Bevelin. 

This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

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Follow the podcast Gamecraft to learn more about the history of the video game industry. 

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[2:01] Buffett and Munger have a remarkable ability to eliminate folly, simplify things, boil down issues to their essence, get right to the point, and focus on simple and timeless truths.

[3:00] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson.  (Founders #191)

[4:00] Warren Buffet or Charlie Munger are the very wise grandfather figure that I never had.

[5:00] To try to live your life totally free of mistakes is a life of inaction. —Warren Buffett

[5:00] The sign above the players' entrance to the field at Notre Dame reads ´Play Like a Champion Today.' I sometimes joke that the sign at Nebraska reads 'Remember Your Helmet.' Charlie and I are 'Remember Your Helmet' kind of guys.' We like to keep it simple. (You must structure your life and business to be able to survive the inevitable bad decisions you’re going to make.)

[5:00] Wisdom is prevention. —Charlie Munger

[6:00] We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that's because we've spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking. —Charlie Munger

[7:00] If you get into the mental habit of relating what you're reading to the basic underlying ideas being demonstrated, you gradually accumulate some wisdom. —Charlie Munger

[7:00] At Berkshire, we don't have any meetings or committees, and I can think of no better way to become more intelligent than sit down and read. I hate meetings, frankly. I have created something that I enjoy: I happen to enjoy reading a lot, and I happen to enjoy thinking about things. —Warren Buffett

[7:00] We both hate to have too many forward commitments in our schedules. We both insist on a lot of time being available to just sit and think. —Charlie Munger

[8:00] I need eight hours of sleep. I think better. I have more energy. My mood is better. And think about it: As a senior executive, what do you really get paid to do? You get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. — Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, With an Introduction by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #155)

[9:00] I think people that multitask pay a huge price. When you multitask so much, you don't have time to think about anything deeply. You're giving the world an advantage you shouldn't do. Practically everybody is drifting into that mistake. I did not succeed in life by intelligence. I succeeded because I have a long attention span. —Charlie Munger

[9:00] Jony Ive on Steve Jobs: Steve was the most remarkably focused person I’ve ever met. (Video)

[11:00] It is just that simple. We've had enough good sense when something was working well, keep doing it. The fundamental algorithm of life: repeat what works. —Charlie Munger

[13:00] ALL THE BUFFETT AND MUNGER EPISODES:

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders 1965-2018 by Warren Buffett. (Founders #88) 

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. (Founders #100)

The Tao of Warren Buffett by Mary Buffett & David Clark. (Founders #101) 

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein. (Founders #182) 

A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Peter Bevelin. (Founders #202) 

The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham. (Founders #227) 
 

Tao of Charlie Munger by David Clark (Founders #78) 

Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor by Tren Griffin. (Founders #79) 

Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. (Founders #90) 

Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe. (Founders #221) 

[14:00] Buffett: It's an inversion process. Start out with failure, and then engineer its removal.

[15:00] Munger: I figure out what I don't like instead of figuring out what I like in order to get what I like.

[15:00] Repetition is the mother of learning.

[17:00] Munger: You can see the results of not learning from others' mistakes by simply looking about you. How little originality there is in the common disasters of mankind. (Business failures through repetition of obvious mistakes made by predecessors and so on.)

[18:00] Munger: History allows you to keep things in perspective.

[18:00] Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.

[19:00] Berkshire was a small business at one time. It just takes time. It is the nature of compound interest. You cannot build it in one day or one week.

[20:00] Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel important.”

[22:00] Buffett: In almost 60 years of investing we found it practically useless to give advice to anyone.

[23:00] Munger: One of my favorite stories is about the little boy in Texas. The teacher asked the class, If there are nine sheep in the pen and one jumps out, how many are left? And everybody got the answer right except this little boy, who said, None of them are left. And the teacher said, You don't understand arithmetic. And he said No, teacher. You don't understand sheep.

[25:00] Quite often Henry simply talked about his philosophy of running a corporation and the various financial strategies that he came up with as he sat in his corner office each day, often working at his Apple computer. He was a brilliant business strategist, just as he was a brilliant chess strategist and he came up with many creative ideas, ideas that were sometimes contrary to the currently accepted methods of managing a large corporation that prevailed in those days.

“He always tries to work out the best moves," Shannon said, "and maybe he doesn't like to talk too much, because when you are playing a game you don't tell anyone else what your strategy is." — Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It by Dr. George Roberts. (Founders #110)

[28:00] Buffett: The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.

[29:00] If you want to know whether you are destined to be a success or a failure in life, you can easily find out. The test is simple and it is infallible: Are you able to save money? If not, drop out. You will lose. You may think not, but you will lose as sure as you live. The seed of success is not in you. — James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest by Michael P. Malone. (Founders #96)

[31:00] Buffett: Life tends to snap you at your weakest link.

[35:00] Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator by Robert E. Price (Founders #107)

[38:00] Paul Graham’s essays (Founders #275-277)

[39:00] I'm very suspect of the person who is very good at one business, who starts thinking they should tell the world how to behave on everything. —Warren Buffett

[42:00] The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham. (Founders #227)

[44:00] This life isn't a greenroom for something else. He went for it. —Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever.

[44:00] Buffett: We're here on the earth only one time so you ought to be doing something that you enjoy as you go along and you can be enthusiastic about.

[48:00] Personal History by Katherine Graham. (Founders #152)

[49:00] The problem is not getting rich, it is staying sane. —Charlie Munger

[54:00] Learning is not memorizing information. Learning is changing your behavior. Most people can’t learn from the experiences of other people: Charlie and I don't expect to win you over to our way of thinking—we've observed enough human behavior to know the futility of that, but we do want you to be aware of our personal calculus.

[57:00] We are individual opportunity driven. Our acquisition technique at Berkshire is simplicity itself: We answer the phone.

[1:00:00] A brand is a promise. —Warren Buffett

[1:01:00] Obsess over customers. Buffett said this about Amazon in 2012: Amazon could affect a lot of businesses who don't think they will be affected. For Amazon, it is very hard to find unhappy customers. A business that has millions and millions of happy customers can introduce them to new items, it will be a powerhouse and could affect a lot of businesses.

[1:03:00] Munger: We should make a list of everything that irritates a customer, and then we should eliminate those defects one by one.

[1:04:00] Most companies, when they get rich, get sloppy.

[1:05:00] Munger: One of the models in my head is the 'Northern Pike Model. You have a lake full of trout. But if you throw in a few northern pike, pretty soon there aren't many trout left but a lot of northern pike. Wal-Mart in its early days was the northern pike. It figured out how the customer could be better served and just galloped through the world like Genghis Kahn.

[1:09:00] Practice! Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212)

[1:10:00] Market forecasters will fill your ear, but they will never fill your wallet.

[1:11:00] We don't have any new tricks. We just know the old tricks better.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 16, 2023
#285 How Jay Gould Built Wall Street's Biggest Fortune
01:07:01

What I learned from reading American Rascal: How Jay Gould Built Wall Street's Biggest Fortune by Greg Steinmetz.

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

[0:01] A series of spectacular financial triumphs had made Gould fabulously rich. At age thirty-six, he was the most notorious businessman in the country.

[1:00] Vanderbilt told a newspaper that Gould was "the smartest man in America." Rockefeller, when asked who he thought had the best head for business, answered "Jay Gould" without pausing to think.

They  recognized Gould as a master of his craft. No one disputed that he was an extraordinary problem solver, an unparalleled negotiator, an expert communicator, a lightning-fast thinker, and a masterful tactician with a staggering memory.

[2:00] Railroads changed America in the nineteenth century much as automobiles changed the country in the twentieth century and the internet has changed the twenty first century.

[5:00] American Rascal shows the complex and quirky character of the nineteenth century's greatest robber baron. He was at once praised for his brilliance by Rockefeller and Vanderbilt and condemned for forever destroying American business values by Mark Twain. He lived a colorful life, trading jokes with Thomas Edison, figuring in Thomas Nast's best sketches, paying Boss Tweed's bail, and commuting to work in a 200-foot yacht.

[6:00] I consider this part two in a two part series on Jay Gould. Make sure you listen to part 1: Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (Founders #258)

[9:00] He read whatever he could get his hands on. Jay was often nowhere to be found. He was off hiding somewhere with his books.

[10:00] He would wake up at three to study by firelight.

[10:00] My Life and Work by Henry Ford. (Founders #266)

[12:35] “As you know. I’m not in the habit of backing out of what I undertake, and I shall write night and day until it is completed.”

[13:00] Relentless and self-confident: Gould toyed with the idea of college. He visited Rutgers, Yale, Harvard, and Brown. He concluded college was an expensive indulgence. Why bother with college when he could teach himself from books?

[13:00] I am determined to use all my best energies to accomplish this life's highest possibilities.

[22:00] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[22:00] All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense by Peter Bevelin

[26:00] Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday. (Founders #31)

[30:00] The good ones know more. — Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (Founders #82)

[37:00] The story of how Gould seized Erie shows his brilliance as a financial strategist, his deep understanding of law, a surprising grasp of human nature, and a mastery of political reality.

[41:00] Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer by Stephen Dando-Collins (Founders #55)

[42:00] There isn't any secret. I avoid bad luck by being patient. Whenever I'm obliged to get into a fight, I always wait and let the other fellow get tired first.

[44:00] James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest by Michael P. Malone. (Founders #96)

[52:00] Edison and Gould shared some traits. Both were born into poverty. Both thought about little beside their obsessions —inventions for Edison, money for Gould. Both worked all the time. Both had spent their childhoods reading anything that came their way.

[53:00] Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson. (Founders #267)

——

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 10, 2023
#284 Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America
01:15:13

What I learned from rereading Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America by Les Standiford.

This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

Follow one of my favorite podcasts Invest Like The Best  and check out these great episodes: 

#137 Bill Gurley: All Things Business and Investing
#88 Sam Hinkie: Data, Decisions, and Basketball
#204 Sam Hinkie: Find Your People

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[0:01] Frick had been the man Carnegie trusted above all others to manage the affairs of Carnegie Steel.

[2:00] Carnegie had delegated the job of holding the line on wages and other demands to Frick—a Patton to Carnegie's FDR.

[3:00] The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie.  (Founders #283)

[5:00] Here's a starter pack of essentials  for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making. —Jeff Bezos’s Shareholder Letters (Founders #282)

[7:00] In less than half a century the United States had been transformed―from a largely agrarian and underdeveloped federation of competing interests, to a relatively cohesive economic juggernaut. The age of the Founding Fathers was over. The Age of the Titans had begun.

[12:00] By 1863 Carnegie was earning more than $45,000 a year from this and all his other investments, compared with a mere $2,400 from his railroad salary. Yet he understood that it was the contacts he made and the information he derived from his association with the railroad that made everything else possible.

[13:00] More control. Less costs. More profit.

[15:00] Technology is just a better way to do something: As a result of the process for transforming iron to steel that bore his name (Bessemer), a quantity of steel that might formerly have taken as long as two weeks to produce could now be made in fifteen minutes.

[17:00] Carnegie starts his company during a financial panic. The best time to expand is when no one else dares to take the risk.

[20:00] Already the best but still wants to do better: Even his key employees were not spared Carnegie's heavy-handed management style. To almost every positive report Carnegie's response was "Good, but let us do better."

[21:00] Cut the prices, scoop the market, watch the costs, and the profits will take care of themselves.

[21:00] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)

[22:00] He could make steel more efficiently than any of them.

[24:00] Henry Clay Frick: The Life of the Perfect Capitalist by Quentin Skrabec Jr. (Founders #75)

[24:00] Like Rockefeller, Henry Clay Frick used a lot of borrowed money to get his start in the coke business. There was a line in one of Rockefeller’s biographies where it said “he was the greatest borrower I’ve ever seen.”

[26:00] Frick knew his business down to the ground.

[26:00] LIke Carnegie, Frick expands his business during an economic panic. Frick, who would later recall this as one of the most grueling times in his life, proved as undaunted in the face of adversity as Carnegie had been.

[34:00] Carneige was accustomed to obedience from his subordinates, but if he expected unquestioned subservience from Henry Frick, he had gravely miscalculated.

[36:00] Frick was no puppet, but rather a man willing to take considerable risks in defense of his principles.

[37:00] Frick had ambition, a singleness of purpose, and a lack of self—doubt that even Carneige envied.

[38:00] Carnegie would repeat the mantra time and again: profits and prices were cyclical, subject to any number of transient forces of the marketplace. Costs, however, could be strictly controlled, and in Carnegie’s view, any savings achieved in the costs of goods were permanent.

[39:00] On this issue the two men were of one mind. Frick had made his way in coke by the same reckoning that Carnegie had in rail and steel: if you knew your costs down to the penny, you were always on firm ground.

[39:00] Frick had always understood how essential new technologies were in driving costs down. Cost control became nearly an obsession.

[47:00] [Frick was shot] Only after he was finished with his day’s work did Frick permit himself to be carried from the office to an ambulance.

[49:00] You must not allow anything to discourage you in the least. Even if things do not go well for some time to come, or even if they should get much worse. Just keep at it, doing the best you can. Do not allow the fact that you are not getting along as well as you would like to lead you to put yourself in a compromising position.

[1:03:00] Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes. (Founders #83)

[1:04:00] J.P. Morgan understood the folly of a long-term battle with the Carnegie Company, a firm that controlled its own sources of raw materials, transport, and manufacture, and that was far more deeply capitalized than his or any other of the upstarts. They might stay in the game for a while, and they might put a dent in Carnegie's armor, but in the end, Carnegie would run them into the ground, every one.

 

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 02, 2023
#283 Andrew Carnegie
00:59:12

What I learned from rereading The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie. 

This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

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[1:01] 3 part series on Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick:

Meet You In Hell: Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America by Les Standiford. (Founders #73) 

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (Founders #74) 

Henry Clay Frick: The Life of the Perfect Capitalist by Quentin Skrabec Jr. (Founders #75) 

[2:00] What these guys all had in common is they were hell bent on knowing their business down to the last cent. They were obsessed with having the lowest cost structure in their industry.

[2:00] Highlights from Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America:

—Cut the prices, scoop the market, watch the costs, and the profits will take care of themselves.

—Frick knows his business down to the ground.

—Frick’s rise from humble beginnings was obviously intriguing to him. It signaled to Carnegie that Frick was another of the fellow “fittest,” and those were the individuals with whom Carnegie sought to align himself.

—Carnegie would repeat the mantra time and again: profits and prices were cyclical, subject to any number of transient forces of the marketplace. Costs, however, could be strictly controlled, and in Carnegie’s view, any savings achieved in the costs of goods were permanent.

—On this issue the two men were of one mind. Frick had made his way in coke by the same reckoning that Carnegie had in rail and steel: if you knew your costs down to the penny, you were always on firm ground.

[6:00] Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #115)

[7:00] A sunny disposition is worth more than a fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.

[7:00] The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder. (Founders #100)

[8:00] The most important judge of your life story is yourself.

[9:00] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son. —Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

[10:00] Invest in technology, the savings compound, it gives you an advantage over slower moving competitors, and can be the difference between a profit and a loss.

[17:00] He is working from sunrise to sunset for $1.20 a week and he is ecstatic about being able to help his family avoid poverty. 

[18:00] Andrew Carnegie had manic levels of optimism.

[20:00] Do not delay. Do it now. It is a great mistake not to seize the opportunity. Having got myself in, I proposed to stay there if I could.

[21:00] I felt that my foot was upon the ladder and that I was about to climb.

[21:00] Lesson from Andrew Carnegie’s early life: Focus on whatever job is in front of you at this very moment and do the best you can. You can never know what opportunities that will unlock in the future.

[24:00] On the miracle of reading and having free access to a 400 volume personal library: In this way the windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in. Every day's toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty. And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained.

[26:00] To Colonel James Anderson, Founder of Free Libraries in Western Pennsylvania:

He opened his Library to working boys and upon Saturday afternoons acted as librarian, thus dedicating not only his books but himself to the noble work. This monument is erected in grateful remembrance by Andrew Carnegie, one of the "working boys" to whom were thus opened the precious treasures of knowledge and imagination through which youth may ascend.

[28:00] Running Down A Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

[36:00] Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (Founders #258)

[43:00] This policy is a true secret of success: Uphill work it will be.

[46:00] Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.

[46:00] The most expensive way to pay for anything is with time.

[48:00] The men who have succeeded are men who have chosen one line and stuck to it. It is surprising how few men appreciate the enormous dividends derivable from investment in their own business.

[48:00] My advice to young men would be not only to concentrate their whole time and attention on the one business in life in which they engage, but to put every dollar of their capital into it.

[51:00] The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow. (Founders #139)

[52:00] Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford. (Founders #247)

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can now ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 26, 2022
#282 Jeff Bezos Shareholder Letters
01:11:49

What I learned from rereading Jeff Bezos' Shareholder Letters (for the 3rd time!) 

Read Jeff's letters in book form: Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos or for free online: Amazon Investor Relations

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[2:30] Amazon hopes to create an enduring franchise

[3:00] Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies.

[4:00] We will continue to focus relentlessly on our customers.

[4:00] We will work hard to spend wisely and maintain our lean culture. We understand the importance of continually reinforcing a cost-conscious culture.

[4:00] We set out to offer customers something they simply could not get any other way.

[5:00] Word of mouth remains the most powerful customer acquisition tool that we have.

[5:00] We are working to build something important, something that matters to our customers, something that we can all tell our grandchildren about. Such things aren't meant to be easy.

[6:00] "To read Bezos’ shareholder letters is to get a crash course in running a high-growth internet business from someone who mastered it before any of the playbooks were written." — From CB Insights

[7:00] Common themes repeated in Jeff’s letters:

More innovation is ahead of us.

It is still early. The opportunity —if we execute well — is enormous.

We will move quickly.

We will endure. Amazon will be a durable, long-lasting company.

We will focus on cash flow.

Once in a lifetime opportunities will be risky. Jeff gave himself a 30% chance of success— at best.

Customer obsession is our North Star. It is what we will bet the company on.

We will be BOLD.

We will have a frugal, lean culture that Sam Walton would approve of.

This will be hard. All valuable things are.

We will have to learn along the way.

[8:00] Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton. (Founders #234)

[11:00] I would love to ask Jeff the question, “If you could only have one word to describe you on your tombstone, what would it be?” My guess is he would pick “relentless.”

[16:00] We believe we have reached a "tipping  point," where this platform allows us to launch new ecommerce businesses faster, with a higher quality of customer experience, a lower incremental cost, a higher chance of success, and a faster path to scale and profitability than any other company. (A company that builds companies)

[17:00] Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by Akio Morita. (Founders #102)

[19:00] We will continue to invest heavily in introductions to new customers. Though it's sometimes hard to imagine with all that has happened in the last five years, this remains Day 1 for ecommerce, and these are the early days of category formation where many customers are forming relationships for the first time. We must work hard to grow the number of customers who shop with us. (He was right about this — what is the lifetime value of an Amazon customer over 17 years?)

[21:00] To us, operational excellence implies two things: delivering continuous improvement in customer experience and driving productivity, margin, efficiency, and asset velocity across all our businesses.

Often, the best way to drive one of these is to deliver the other.

For instance, more efficient distribution yields faster delivery times, which in turn lowers contacts per order and customer service costs. These, in turn, improve customer experience and build brand, which in turn decreases customer acquisition and retention costs.

[22:00] Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda (Founders #281)

[24:00] Jeff Bezos on The Electricity Metaphor for the Web's Future

[27:00] Repeat this loop: Focus on cost improvement makes it possible for us to afford to lower prices, which drives growth. Growth spreads fixed costs across more sales, reducing cost per unit, which makes possible more price reductions. Customers like this, and it's good for shareholders. Please expect us to repeat this loop.

[29:00] The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. (Founders #179)

[35:00] My Life and Work by Henry Ford. (Founders #266)

[40:00] Jeff Bezos is unapologetically extreme. He is already the best and still wants to be better.

[41:00] This part is incredible— on the need for good judgement and why data may lead you to make the wrong decision:

Our quantitative understanding of elasticity is short-term. We can estimate what a price reduction will do this week and this quarter. But we cannot numerically estimate the effect that consistently lowering prices will have on our business over five years or ten years or more. Our judgment is that relentlessly returning efficiency improvements and scale economies to customers in the form of lower prices creates a virtuous cycle that leads over the long term to a much larger dollar amount of free cash flow, and thereby to a much more valuable Amazon.

[43:00] Don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business. — Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. (Founders #278)

[44:00] Differentiation is survival.

[49:00] Missionaries build better products.

[50:00] Long-term thinking levers our existing abilities and lets us do new things we couldn't otherwise contemplate. It supports the failure and iteration required for invention, and it frees us to pioneer in unexplored spaces. Seek instant gratification-or the elusive promise of it-and chances are you'll find a crowd there ahead of you. Long-term orientation interacts well with customer obsession. If we can identify a customer need and if we can further develop conviction that that need is meaningful and durable, our approach permits us to work patiently for multiple years to deliver a solution.

[52:00] Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.

[53:00] Similar idea said two different ways:

Jeff Bezos: The financial results for 2009 reflect the cumulative efforts of 15 years of customer experience improvements.

Peter Thiel: If you focus on near-term growth above all else, you miss the most important question you should be asking: will this business still be around a decade from now?

[55:00] The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower others to unleash their creativity—to pursue their dreams.

[57:00] A dreamy business offering has at least four characteristics.

—Customers love it

—It can grow to very large size

—It has strong returns on capital

—It's durable in time-with the potential to endure for decades.

When you find one of these get married.

[1:03:00] Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected. — Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney. (Founders #204)

[1:03:00] I believe high standards are teachable. High standards are contagious.  —Jeff Bezos

[1:04:00] Leaders have relentlessly high standards. Many people may think these standards are unreasonably high.

[1:07:00] The key point here is that you can improve results through the simple act of teaching scope-that a great memo probably should take a week or more.

[1:10:00] Differentiation is Survival and the Universe Wants You to be Typical

In what ways does the world pull at you in an attempt to make you normal?

How much work does it take to maintain your distinctiveness?

To keep alive the thing or things that make you special?

We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable.

What I’m asking you to do is to embrace how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness.

The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you.

Don’t let it happen.

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can now ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 19, 2022
#281 Working with Steve Jobs
00:43:03

What I learned from rereading Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda.

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[2:01] We're going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because perfection is not attainable. But we are going to relentlessly chase it because, in the process, we will catch excellence.

[2:01] I'm not remotely interested in being just good.

[3:00] Gentlemen, this is the most important play we have. It's the play we must make go. It's the play that we will make go. It's the play that we will run again, and again, and again.

[4:00] In any complex effort, communicating a well-articulated vision for what you're trying to do is the starting point for figuring out how to do it.

[4:00] A significant part of attaining excellence in any field is closing the gap between the accidental and intentional, to achieve not just a something, or even an everything, but a specific and well-chosen thing.

[6:00] Every day at Apple was like going to school, a design-focused, high-tech, product-creation university.

[8:00] A story about Steve’s clarity of thought.

[9:00] Although Steve's opinions and moods could be hard to anticipate, he was utterly predictable when it came to his passion for products. He wanted Apple products to be great.

[11:00] The decisiveness of Steve Jobs.

[16:00] Steve wasn't merely interested in paying lip service to this goal. He demanded action. Steve found the time to attend a demo review so he could see it. His involvement kept the progress and momentum going.

[17:00] Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Hack away the unessential.

[17:00] People do not care about your product as much as you do. You have to make it simple and easy to use right from the start.

[18:00] Steve Jobs believed that stripping away nonessential features made products easier for people to learn from the start and easier to use over time.

[19:00] Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success by Ken Segall

[22:00] Don’t rest on your laurels. Steve said: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next.”

[24:00] The sooner we started making creative decisions the more time there was to refine and improve those decisions. (The sooner you start the more time you will have to get it right.)

[26:00] The simple transaction of buying a song, and of handing over a credit card number to Apple in order to so, became part of what Steve had begun calling “the Apple experience." As a great marketer, Steve understood that every interaction a customer had with Apple could increase or decrease his or her respect for the company. As he put it, a corporation "could accumulate or withdraw credits" from its reputation, which is why he worked so hard to ensure that every single interaction a customer might have with Apple-from using a Mac to calling customer support to buying a single from the iTunes store and then getting billed for it-was excellent. —— Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Founders #265)

[29:00] Studying great work from the past provides the means of comparison and contrast and lets us tap into the collective creativity of previous generations. The past is a source of the timeless and enduring.

[29:00] Design is how it works. —Steve Jobs

[31:00] Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham (Founders #275, 276, 277)

[34:00] Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products by Leander Kahney. (Founders #178)

[37:00] Our clarity of purpose kept us on track.

[38:00] Concentrating keenly on what to do helped us block out what not to do.

[40:00] Steve Jobs on the importance of working at the intersection of liberal arts and technology:

“The reason that Apple is able to create products like the iPad is because we've always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both, to make extremely advanced products from a technology point of view, but also have them be intuitive, easy to use, fun to use, so that they really fit the users. The users don't have to come to them, they come to the user.”

[42:00] Steve Jobs provided his single-minded focus on making great products, and his vision motivated me.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Dec 12, 2022
The Founder of Kinkos — Paul Orfalea
01:14:33

What I learned from reading Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos by Paul Orfalea.

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Two episodes I recommend: 

Paul Orfalea - It's About the Money episode 299

David Senra - Passion & Pain episode 292 

[5:23] I've never met a more circular, out-of-the-box thinker. It's often exhausting trying to keep up with him.

[6:21] I graduated from high school eighth from the bottom of my class of 1,200. Frankly, I still have no idea how those seven kids managed to do worse than I did.

[9:29] I also have no mechanical ability to speak of. There isn't a machine at Kinko's I can operate. I could barely run the first copier we leased back in 1970. It didn't matter. All I knew was that was I could sell what came out of it.

[11:24] Building an entirely new sort of business from a single Xerox copy machine gave me the life the world seemed determined to deny me when I was younger.

[14:04] The A students work for the B students, the C students run the companies, and the D students dedicate the buildings.

[24:02] I learned to turn a lot of busywork over to other people. That's an important skill. If you don't develop it, you'll be so busy, busy, busy that you can't get a free hour, not to mention a free week or month, to sit back and think creatively about where you want to be heading and how you are going to get there.

[25:07] There's no better way to stay "on" your business than to think creatively and constantly about your marketing: how you are marketing, who you are marketing to, and, always, how you could be doing a better job at it. You'd be amazed what kind of business you can generate by a seemingly simple thing like handing out flyers.

[27:18] The phone rang. It was one of our store managers calling to ask me how to handle a bounced check. I held the receiver away from my face and looked at it, flabbergasted. If every store manager needed my help to deal with a bounced check, then we really had problems.

[40:55] I never walked in the back door used by coworkers. I walked in the front door so I could see things from the customer's perspective.

[49:06] You had to remember he'd been picking up the best ideas from all around the country.

[55:14] I believe in getting out of as much work as I possibly can.

[55:45] By now, you’d have to be as bad a reader as I am not to figure out that I have a dark side. You rarely hear people talk about their dark sides, especially business leaders, which is a shame because successful businesses aren't usually started by laid-back personalities. I don't hide the fact that I have a problem with anger.

[1:04:37] I'll give you an example of a corporate view of money. We used to sell passport photos at Kinko's and we advertised the service in the local Yellow Pages. It would cost us 75 cents to make a passport photo. I calculated that price jumped by $1 to $1.75 when you added in the cost of the Yellow Pages ads. We'd sell those photos for $13 a piece. You think this is a nice business? Shortly after we sold a controlling stake in Kinko's, the new budget people came in and, to make their numbers, they got rid of the Yellow Pages ads. They saw it as an advertising expense and didn't take into account how it affected the rest of our business. I used to go to the office and think, "Are they deliberately trying to be idiots?" These straight-A types drove me nuts. Then, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, we abandoned our passport business. That is corporate dyslexia. There is a lot of corporate dyslexia going on out there.

Dec 09, 2022
#280 Jimi Hendrix: His Own Story
00:57:30

What I learned from reading Starting At Zero: His Own Story by Jimi Hendrix. 

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[0:01] He was also a compulsive writer, using hotel stationery, scraps of paper, cigarette cartons, napkins—anything that came to hand.

[0:01] Decoded by Jay Z. (Founders #238)

[1:00] He always claimed that for him life and music were inseparable.

[5:00] I liked to be different.

[5:00] The Autobiography of Bob Dylan Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan. (Founders #259)

[6:00] Bob Dylan: 

Billy asked me who I saw myself like in today's music scene.

I told him, nobody. I really didn't see myself like anybody.

What really set me apart in these days was my repertoire.

It was more formidable than the rest of the players

There were a lot of better musicians around but there wasn't anybody close in nature to what I was doing.

[7:00] Anthony Bourdain on Jimi Hendrix: I often compare the experience of going to Japan for the first time, going to Tokyo for the first time, to what Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend must have gone through, the reigning guitar gods of England, what they must have gone through the week that Jimi Hendrix came to town. 

You hear about it, you go see it.A whole window opens up into a whole new thing.And you think what does this mean? What do I have left to say? What do I do now?

[12:00] The first guitarist I was aware of was Muddy Waters. I heard one of his records when I was a little boy, and it scared me to death.  Wow! What was all that about?

[15:00] I loved my music, man. You see, I wasn't ever interested in any other things, just the music. I was trying to play like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. Trying to learn everything and anything.

[16:00] My first gig was at an armory, a National Guard place, and we earned thirty-five cents apiece and three hamburgers.

[16:00] It was so hard for me at first. I knew about three songs, and when it was time for us to play onstage I was all shaky, so I had to play behind the curtains. I just couldn't get up in front.

And then you get so very discouraged. You hear different bands playing around you, and the guitar player always seems like he's so much better than you are.

Most people give up at this point, but it's best not to. Just keep on; just keep on. Sometimes you are going to be so frustrated you'll hate the guitar, but all of this is just a part of learning. If you stick with it you're going to be rewarded. If you're very stubborn you can make it.

[18:00] I had very strange feelings that I was here for something and I was going to get a chance to be heard. I got the guitar together because that was all I had. Oh Daddy, one of these days I'm gonna be big and famous. I'm gonna make it, man!

[20:00] It was pretty tough at first. I lived in very miserable circumstances. I slept where I could and when I needed to eat, I had to steal it.

[24:00] I lived in very miserable circumstances. Sleeping among the garbage cans between them tall tenements was hell.

Rats runnin' all across your chest, cockroaches stealin' your last candy bar from your very pockets.

I even tried to eat orange peel and tomato paste.

People would say, "If you don't get a job you'll just starve to death."

But I didn't want to take a job outside music.

[27:00] I don't wanna play backup on somebody else's team. I have my own ideas that I have to bring to life, and I'm willing to sacrifice my comfort to do so.

[31:00] Obsess over customers.

[33:00] I don't give a damn so long as I have enough to eat and to play what I want to play. That's enough for me. I consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest cats alive, because we're playing just what we want to play and people seem to like that.

[37:00] A lesson from Charlie Munger: Look at the behavior of people you dislike, or you don't respect, and do the opposite.

[39:00] Once you've made a name for yourself you are all the more determined to keep it up.

[44:00] James Dyson’s 2nd autobiography: Invention: A Life by James Dyson. (Founders #205)

[49:00] We call our music Electric Church Music because it's like a religion to us.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Dec 06, 2022
#279 What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett
01:00:25

What I learned from reading What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Developing a Highly Successful Company by Barnett Helzberg Jr.

This episode is brought to you by: 

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[5:00]  Then, right there on the sidewalk I told one of the most astute businessmen in America why he ought to consider buying our family's 79-year-old jewelry business.

"I believe that our company matches your criteria for investment, I said. To which he replied, simply, "Send me the information. It will be confidential.”

My conversation with Buffett lasted no more than half a minute.

[8:00] My dream buyer for the family business all along was Warren Buffet.

[11:00] "This can be the fastest deal in history," Buffett said.

"But what about due diligence?" I asked, surprised at how fast the negotiations were moving.

Most suitors demand to see every scrap of paper you've ever generated and to interview every top manager.

That wasn't Buffett's way. "I can smell these things, Buffett said. "This one smells good.”

[12:00] First A Dream by Jim Clayton. (Founders #91)

[13:00] Buffett on his management technique: “Managers run their own shows.

They don't have to report to central management. When we get somebody who is a .400 hitter we don't start telling them how to swing.”

[14:00] I was always taught that many, many people were out there developing ideas I could use. I have found that to be true throughout my life. These thoughts and ideas have all been borrowed or stolen from many wise people.

Think of the world as your garden of marvelous people and ideas with unlimited picking rights for you.

[17:00] Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business by Mark Robichaux. (Founders #268)

[23:00] Despite missteps, entrepreneurs are a special breed who do not give up on the larger goals.

[24:00] It's not hard to express the quality we're looking for in metaphors. The best is probably a running back. A good running back is not merely determined, but flexible as well. They want to get downfield, but they adapt their plans on the fly. — Relentlessly Resourceful by Paul Graham

[25:00] Entrepreneurs are driven to succeed. They possess an almost naive belief that nothing can stand in their way, they are mentally deaf to those who belittle their chances, they love to compete, and they have the skills of broken field runners who take the bumps and bruises along the way, change course when necessary, and stay focused on the goal.

If this is not you, don't try to fool yourself. It's not worth it.

Thinking you can start your own business or wanting to be your own boss, just because you hate your job, when you really have no desire or stamina to go it on your own, is courting disaster. Where there is no real will, there is no way.

Some people are more  enamored by the concept than the reality. They would rather contemplate the beauty of the mountain from the base.

The entrepreneur wants to climb the mountain first, briefly appreciate the gorgeous vistas from the summit, and then find the next mountain. If you possess this obsession of seeing your own creative notions succeed and are willing to pay the price, then you have no choice but to pursue the life of an entrepreneur.

[29:00] He taught us to concern ourselves only with those things over which we have control.

I thought he was unique in this until I realized this is one of the key common traits of highly successful people.

Those folks are never victims; they take what comes and handle the situation. The rest is a waste of time.

[30:00] Upgrade the herd annually: "You make more money closing bad stores than opening new ones.”

His philosophy made sense. We decided we would rather spend time and effort on a $4.5 million store that could ultimately achieve annual sales of $6 million than on a lower-volume store with less potential.

[32:00] Focus is your lever to success.

Do not underestimate the incredible amount of mental discipline it takes to focus yourself and your teammates. Wonderful alternatives and seductive opportunities abound and temptations to go in multiple directions are unlimited.

Commit yourself to be the best, define what that means, and focus on the head of that pin like no one in your industry.

[32:00] Estee Lauder was a master at doing things don’t scale. — Estée Lauder: A Success Storyby Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[33:00] To be successful, have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. —Thomas Watson The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson Sr. and The Making of IBM by Kevin Maney (Founders #87)

[38:00] Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet. —African Proverb

[40:00] Some of our partners created an inhospitable climate for customers. Some posted negative signs.

At one store a manager hung a sign in red warning customers that they would be charged a steep fee if they bounced a  check. It said, "The bank doesn't make copies and we don't cash checks." That really got me boiling.

I jumped up on the counter and ripped it down as customers and coworkers looked on, amazed. That may sound extreme, but I needed to make the point in a memorable way. I didn't want signs like that staring our customers in the face.

I told our coworkers that the occasional hit we took for a bounced check cost far less than what we lost-and couldn't quantify-by creating a subtly hostile atmosphere. —

Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos by Paul Orfalea.

[42:00] Nearly any action or communication means far more when done urgently.

Trust only movement.

[42:00] One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests. —John Stuart Mill

[43:00] None of this works if you can’t trust your own judgement.

[46:00] This reservoir of knowledge and human experience creates tremendous opportunities and advantages for you as an entrepreneur. You are heir to the discoveries of many entrepreneurs who skinned their shins trying something new. It is likely other  entrepreneurs before you have experienced the same challenges and problems, and found ways to surmount them.

[47:00] You have the experiences of thousands of experts and mentors at your fingertips.

[47:00] The incredible, wonderful, and unavoidable truth is that seeking the help of others can put you light years ahead of other people who beat their heads against the wall trying to reinvent the wheel

[48:00] I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help. I called up Bill Hewlett when I was 12 years old. He answered the phone himself. I told him I wanted to build a frequency counter. I asked if he had any spare parts I could have. He laughed. He gave me the parts. And he gave me a summer job at HP working on the assembly line putting together frequency counters. I have never found anyone who said no, or hung up the phone. I just ask. Most people never pick up the phone and call. And that is what separates the people who do things, versus the people who just dream about them. You have to act. —Steve Jobs

[53:00] "Max kept repeating, 'As hire As. Bs hire Cs. So the first B you hire takes the whole company down." — The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni.

[54:00] “The greatest thing you can do for your competition—hiring poorly.” —Bill Gates

[59:00] I wish that I had known sooner that if you miss a child's play or performance or sporting event, you will have forgotten a year later the work emergency that caused you to miss it. But the child won't have forgotten that you weren't there.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 29, 2022
#278 Peter Thiel: Zero To One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
01:00:45

What I learned from rereading Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel.

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[4:01] Jobs's return to Apple 12 years later shows how the most important task in business-the creation of new valuecannot be reduced to a formula and applied by professionals.

[5:00] A really important sentence to understand one of the main points in Peter’s book: Apple's value crucially depended on the singular vision of a particular person.

[5:00] A unique founder can make authoritative decisions, inspire strong personal loyalty, and plan ahead for decades.

[6:00] Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue and Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (Founders #31)

[7:00] Properly understood, any new and better way of doing things is technology.

[8:00] By creating new technologies we rewrite the plan of the world.

[9:00] The paradox of teaching entrepreneurship is that such a formula necessarily cannot exist; because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innovative.

The single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.

[10:00] The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That's maybe the most important thing. It's to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you're just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. —Steve Jobs

[11:00] Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.

[13:00] A startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company's most important strength is new thinking.

[14:00] What follows is not a manual or a record of knowledge but an exercise in thinking. Because that is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.

[14:00] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni. (Founders #233)

[17:00] Their casual way of conducting affairs did not appeal to me. — Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller (Founders #148)

[18:00] My number one repeated learning in life: There Are No Adults. Everyone's making it up as they go along. Figure it out yourself, and do it. —Naval Ravikant

[19:00] Bill Gurley’s answer to the question For people who were there, does this feel like dot-com bust level unwiding yet? Yes.  Link to tweet

[21:00] Peter’s 4 principles for founders:

1. It is better to risk boldness than triviality.

2. A bad plan is better than no plan.

3. Competitive markets destroy profits.

4. Sales matters just as much as product.

[22:00] The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.

[22:00] By “monopoly,” we mean the kind of company that’s so good at what it does that no other firm can offer a close substitute.

[24:00] Every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot.

[25:00] Durability has always been a first rate virtue in Charlie’s eyes. — Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. (Founders #90)

[27:00] If you focus on near-term growth above all else, you miss the most important question you should be asking: will this business still be around a decade from now?

[27:00] There is no shortcut to monopoly

[28:00] A substantive advantage makes your product difficult or impossible to replicate.

[30:00] The perfect target market for a startup is a small group of particular people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors.

[32:00] Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

[32:00] Victory awaits him who has everything in order.

[33:00] My heroes are people who took epic journeys into the unknown often at substantial personal risk. I am simply following the path that they carved into history. —Explore/Create My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark by Richard Garriott.

[35:00] Instead of pursuing many-sided mediocrity and calling it "wellroundedness," a definite person determines the one best thing to do and then does it. She strives to be great at something substantive— to be a monopoly of one.

[36:00] Long-term planning is often undervalued by our indefinite short-term world.

[39:00] Monopoly businesses capture more value than millions of undifferentiated competitors.

[40:00] Most startups fail and most venture funds fail with them.

[43:00]  You cannot trust a world that denies the power law to accurately frame your decisions for you, so what's most important is rarely obvious. It might even be a secret.

[44:00] I also believed then, as I do now after more than fifty years as a money manager, that the surest way to get rich is to play only those games or make those investments where I have an edge. — A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Ed Thorp. (Founders #222)

[45:00] Schlep Blindness by Paul Graham  

[46:00] Great companies can be built on open but unsuspected secrets about how the world works.

[47:00] Conspiracy: A True Story of Power, Sex, and a Billionaire's Secret Plot to Destroy a Media Empire by Peter Thielby Ryan Holiday

[48:00] The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that's hidden from the outside.

[51:00] Keith Rabois on Peter Theil insisting on focus

[54:00] Superior sales and distribution by itself can create a monopoly, even with no product differentiation. The converse is not true.

[56:00] Advertising doesn’t exist to make you buy a product right away; it exists to embed subtle impressions that will drive sales later. Anyone who cannot acknowledge its likely effect on himself is doubly deceived.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Nov 22, 2022
#277 Paul Graham's Essays Part 3
00:51:34

What I learned from reading Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas From The Computer Age by Paul Graham 

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[4:00] How To Make Wealth by Paul Graham 

[4:01] Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic machine that could on command make you a car or cook you dinner or do your laundry, or do anything else you wanted, you wouldn't need money. Whereas if you were in the middle of Antarctica, where there is nothing to buy, it wouldn't matter how much money you had.

[6:00] All a company is is a group of people working together to do something people want.

[7:00] It turns out, though, that there are economies of scale in how much of your life you devote to your work. In the right kind of business, someone who really devoted himself to work could generate ten or even a hundred times as much wealth as an average employee.

[8:00] And the people you work with had better be good, because it's their work that yours is going to be averaged with.

[9:00] In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz.  (Founders #208)

[10:00] A very able person who does care about money will ordinarily do better to go off and work with a small group of peers.

[10:00] Paul Graham’s Essays (Founders #275)

[11:00] What is technology? It's technique. It's the way we all do things.

[12:00] Sam Walton got rich not by being a retailer, but by designing a new kind of store.

[12:00] Sam Walton epiosdes

#150 Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man by Vance H. Trimble.

#234 Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton.

[13:00] Use difficulty as a guide not just in selecting the overall aim of your company, but also at decision points along the way. At Viaweb one of our rules of thumb was run upstairs. Suppose you are a little, nimble guy being chased by a big, fat, bully. You open a door and find yourself in a staircase. Do you go up or down? I say up. The bully can probably run downstairs as fast as you can. Going upstairs his bulk will be more of a disadvantage. Running upstairs is hard for you but even harder for him.

[14:00] So few businesses really pay attention to making customers happy.

[15:00] What people will give you money for depends on them, not you.

[16:00] Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

[20:00] The other way makers learn is from examples. For a painter, a museum is a reference library of techniques. For hundreds of years it has been part of the traditional education of painters to copy the works of the great masters, because copying forces you to look closely at the way a painting is made.

[21:00] Relentelssness wins. A great product has to be better than it has to be.

[21:00] Relentlessness Wins: Many painters might have thought, this is just something to put in the background to frame her head. No one will look that closely at it.

Not Leonardo. How hard he worked on part of a painting didn't depend at all on how closely he expected anyone to look at it. He was like Michael Jordan. Relentless.

Relentlessness wins because, in the aggregate, unseen details become visible.

[22:00] All those unseen details combine to produce something that's just stunning, like a thousand barely audible voices all singing in tune.

[24:00] The right way to collaborate, I think, is to divide projects into sharply defined modules, each with a definite owner, and with interfaces between them that are as carefully designed and, if possible, as articulated as programming languages.

[25:00] It turns out that looking at things from other people's point of view is practically the secret of success.

[25:00] You only get one life. You might as well spend it working on something great.

[26:00] The Other Road Ahead by Paul Graham 

[26:00] Subscribe to listen to Founders Daily (my new daily podcast)

[29:00] Use your product yourself all the time.

[29:00] Mind The Gap by Paul Graham

[29:00] When people care enough about something to do it well, those who do it best tend to be far better than everyone else. There's a huge gap between Leonardo da Vinci and second-rate contemporaries.

[32:00] Technology will certainly increase the gap between the productive and the unproductive.

[33:00] So we should expect to see ever-increasing variation in individual productivity as time goes on.

[34:00] Paul Graham’s answer to how big of a difference can a single developer or a small team make?

The answer is increasingly much. Increasingly much.

Achrimedes said if he had a lever long enough he could move the world.

Well nowawadys from your bedroom —thanks to all the infrastucture that exists — a combination of open source and services like AWS — the lever is enourmoulsy long.

You could be sitting in your bedroom programming … a single person … and if you make something that people like and is novel it can really have a huge effect.

That is very exiciting. You guys may take this for granted but anybody who is as old as me realizes how that was not the case 20 years ago.

It will be interesting to see how far it goes because it is certainly not over yet.

(How far can it go?)

Always further than people expect.

[37:00] Beating The Averages by Paul Graham 

[37:00] Paul Graham on Econtalk: I found that the interesting parts of programming you can’t make scientific. [Startups are the same.] What makes a programmer good at programming is more like what makes a painter good at painting. It is something a little less organized. It is taste. A sense of design. A certain knack.

[40:00] In business, there is nothing more valuable than a technical advantage your competitors don't understand.

[40:00] A startup should give its competitors as little information as possible.

[41:00] Taste For Makers by Paul Graham

[42:00] Whatever job people do, they naturally want to do better.

[43:00] It's surprising how much different fields' ideas of beauty have in common. The same principles of good design crop up again and again.

[44:00] If something is ugly, it can't be the best solution.

[46:00] In most fields the appearance of ease seems to come with practice. Perhaps what practice does is train your unconscious mind to handle tasks that used to require conscious thought.

[48:00] "It is my opinion," Ferrari once wrote, "that there are innate gifts that are a peculiarity of certain regions and that, transferred into industry, these propensities may at times acquire an exceptional importance... In Modena, where I was born and set up my own works, there is a species of psychosis for racing cars." — Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime. (Founders #97)

[50:00] The recipe for great work is: very exacting taste, plus the ability to gratify it.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Nov 17, 2022
#276 Paul Graham’s Essays part 2
00:42:02

What I learned from reading Paul Graham’s essays.

This episode is brought to you by: 

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[4:01] You don't want to start a startup to do something that everyone agrees is a good idea, or there will already be other companies doing it. You have but that you know isn't to do something that sounds to most other people like a bad idea.

[5:20] The independent-minded are often unaware how different their ideas are from conventional ones, at least till they state them publicly.

[6:20] Founders find themselves able to speak more freely with founders of other companies than with their own employees.

[7:40] There are intellectual fashions too, and you definitely don't want to participate in those. Because unfashionable ideas are disproportionately likely to lead somewhere interesting. The best place to find undiscovered ideas is where no one else is looking.

[8:30] How much does the work you're currently doing engage your curiosity? If the answer is "not much," maybe you should change something.

[9:00] How To Think For Yourself by Paul Graham

[9:00] How To Work Hard by Paul Graham

[10:00] Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

[11:00] Paul on Twitter: "Maybe better founders could have..." Presumably Patrick knows what he means by that, but in case it's not clear, he's describing the empty set. If Patrick and John Collison had to work long hours to build something great, you will too. Link to tweet

[13:00] Less is more but you have to do more to get to less. — Rick Rubin: In the Studio by Jake Brown. (Founders #245)

[13:00] If great talent and great drive are both rare, then people with both are rare squared.

[14:30] Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

[15:30] Aliens, Jedis, & Cults

[16:30] How To Do What You Love by Paul Graham

[19:00] Fear's a powerful thing. I mean it's got a lot of firepower. If you can figure out a way to wrestle that fear to push you from behind rather than to stand in front of you, that's very powerful. I always felt that I had to work harder than the next guy, just to do as well as the next guy. And to do better than the next guy, I had to just kill.

And you know, to a certain extent, that's still with me in how I work, you know, I just go in. —Jimmy Iovine

[20:00] Many problems have a hard core at the center, surrounded by easier stuff at the edges. Working hard means aiming toward the center to the extent you can. Some days you may not be able to; some days you'll only be able to work on the easier, peripheral stuff. But you should always be aiming as close to the center as you can without stalling.

[22:00] Find work that feels like play. —The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[23:00] A deep interest in a topic makes people work harder than any amount of discipline can.

[23:00] Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson. (Founders #240)

[25:00] Working hard is not just a dial you turn up to 11. It's a complicated, dynamic system that has to be tuned just right at each point. You have to understand the shape of real work, see clearly what kind you're best suited for, aim as close to the true core of it as you can, accurately judge at each moment both what you're capable of and how you're doing, and put in as many hours each day as you can without harming the quality of the result. This network is too complicated to trick. But if you're consistently honest and clearsighted, it will automatically assume an optimal shape, and you'll be productive in a way few people are.

[26:00] How to Lose Time and Money by Paul Graham

[30:00] Schlep Blindness by Paul Graham

[31:00] A company is defined by the schleps it will undertake. And schleps should be dealt with the same way you'd deal with a cold swimming pool: just jump in. Which is not to say you should seek out unpleasant work per se, but that you should never shrink from it if it's on the path to something great.

[33:00] What I’ve Learned From Users by Paul Graham

[34:00] The first thing that came to mind was that most startups have the same problems. No two have exactly the same problems, but it's surprising how much the problems remain the same, regardless of what they're making. Once you've advised 100 startups all doing different things, you rarely encounter problems you haven't seen before.

[34:00] Today I talked to a startup doing so well that they had no current problems that needed solving. Profitable, growing ~20x a year (not a typo), only 9 employees. This is so rare that I didn't know what to do. We ended up talking about problems they might have in the future.

I advised them never to raise another round, so to get equity you're going to have to get hired there. So learn to program. Link to tweet

[35:00] But knowing (nearly) all the problems startups can encounter doesn't mean that advising them can be automated, or reduced to a formula.

[37:00] It's not about pop culture, and it's not about fooling people, and it's not about convincing people that they want something they don't. We figure out what we want.

And I think we're pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. —Steve Jobs

[39:00] That was another big surprise: how often founders don't listen to us.

[39:00] Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe. (Founders #221)

[40:00] The reason startups are so counterintuitive is that they're so different from most people's other experiences. No one knows what it's like except those who've done it.

[42:00] Speed defines startups. Focus enables speed. YC improves focus.

[42:00] Alexander combined an excessive tolerance of fatigue with an intolerence for slowness. Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers (Founders #232)

[43:00] However good you are, good colleagues make you better. Indeed, very ambitious people probably need colleagues more than anyone else, because they're so starved for them in everyday life.

[45:00] Leading By Design: The Ikea Story (Founders #104)

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free by going to https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Nov 09, 2022
#275 Paul Graham's Essays
01:23:51

What I learned from reading Paul Graham’s essays.

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[4:52] My father told me I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up, so long as I enjoyed it.

[5:49] Do what you love doesn't mean, do what you would like to do most this second.

[7:41] To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that's pretty cool.

[8:00] You should not worry about prestige. This is easy advice to give. It’s hard to follow.

[10:22] You have to make a conscious effort to keep your ideas about what you want from being contaminated by what seems possible.

[12:18] Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail.

[16:46] How To Do What You Love by Paul Graham 

[16:34] What Doesn’t Seem Like Work by Paul Graham 

[17:16] If something that seems like work to other people doesn't seem like work to you, that's something you're well suited for.

[17:42] Michael Jordan said what looked like hard work to others was play to him. Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212) and Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil. (Founders #213)

[20:53] How Not to Die by Paul Graham 

[23:00] All that matters is to survive. The rest is just words. — Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson (Founders #224)

[24:49] You have to assume that running a startup can be demoralizing. That is certainly true. I've been there, and that's why I've never done another startup.

[27:31] If a startup succeeds, you get millions of dollars, and you don't get that kind of money just by asking for it. You have to assume it takes some amount of pain.

[28:17] So I'll tell you now: bad shit is coming. It always is in a startup. The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand.

So don't get demoralized. When the disaster strikes, just say to yourself, ok, this was what Paul was talking about. What did he say to do? Oh, yeah. Don't give up.

[28:45] Why to Start a Startup in a Bad Economy by Paul Graham 

[30:23] If we've learned one thing from funding so many startups, it's that they succeed or fail based on the qualities of the founders.

[31:15] If you're worried about threats to the survival of your company, don't look for them in the news. Look in the mirror.

[34:10] The cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it is to kill.

[35:43] Relentlessly Resourceful by Paul Graham 

[35:43] I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful.

[37:20] If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I'd tape to the mirror. "Make something people want" is the destination, but "Be relentlessly resourceful" is how you get there.

[37:40] The Anatomy of Determination by Paul Graham 

[37:45] David’s Notes: A Conversation with Paul Graham

[39:50] After a while determination starts to look like talent.

[42:12] Ambitious people are rare, so if everyone is mixed together randomly, as they tend to be early in people's lives, then the ambitious ones won't have many ambitious peers. When you take people like this and put them together with other ambitious people, they bloom like dying plants given water. Probably most ambitious people are starved for the sort of encouragement they'd get from ambitious peers, whatever their age.

[43:21] One of the best ways to help a society generally is to create events and institutions that bring ambitious people together. (Founders Podcast Conference?)

[45:21] What Startups Are Really Like by Paul Graham 

[49:00] The Entire History of Silicon Valley by John Coogan

[49:50] Meet You In Hell: Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America by Les Standiford. (Founders #73)

[55:08] You need persistence because everything takes longer than you expect. A lot of people (founders) were surprised by that.

[57:18] Estee Lauder was a master at doing things that don’t scale. Estée Lauder: A Success Storyby Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[58:45] What makes companies fail most of the time is poor execution by the founders. A lot of times founders are worried about competition. YC has founded 1900+ companies. 1 was killed by competitors. You have the same protection against competitors that light aircraft have against crashing into other light aircraft. Do you know what the protection is? Space is large.

[1:01:00] Paul on what he would do if he was strating a company today: 

If I were a 22 year starting a startup I would certainly apply to YC. Which is not that surprising, since it was designed to be what I wish I'd had when I did start one. But (assuming I got in) I would not get sucked into raising a huge amount on Demo Day.

I would raise maybe $500k, keep the company small for the first year, work closely with users to make something amazing, and otherwise stay off SV's radar.

Ideally I'd get to profitability on that initial $500k. Later I could raise more, if I felt like it. Or not. But it would be on my terms.

At every point in the company's growth, I'd keep the company as small as I could. I'd always want people to be surprised how few employees we had. Fewer employees = lower costs, and less need to turn into a manager.

When I say small, I mean small in employees, not revenues.

[1:05:07] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[1:07:00] A Word To The Resourceful by Paul Graham 

[1:08:07] We found the startups that did best were the ones with the sort of founders about whom we'd say "they can take care of themselves." The startups that do best are fire-and-forget in the sense that all you have to do is give them a lead, and they'll close it, whatever type of lead it is.

[1:09:00] Understanding all the implications of what someone tells you is a subset of resourcefulness. It's conversational resourcefulness.

[1:11:00] Do Things That Don’t Scale by Paul Graham 

[1:11:00] Startups take off because the founders make them take off.

[1:16:00] The question to ask about an early stage startup is not "is this company taking over the world?" but "how big could this company get if the founders did the right things?" And the right things often seem both laborious and inconsequential at the time.

[1:16:00] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)

[1:21:00] The world is complicated. It is noisy. We are not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us. —Steve Jobs

[1:22:00] Any strategy that omits the effort is suspect.

[1:23:00] The need to do something unscalably laborious to get started is so nearly universal that it might be a good idea to stop thinking of startup ideas as scalars. Instead we should try thinking of them as pairs of what you're going to build, plus the unscalable thing(s) you're going to do initially to get the company going.

Now that there are two components you can try to be imaginative about the second as well as the first. Founders need to work hard in two dimensions.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free by going to https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Nov 03, 2022
#274 A Silicon Valley Story
00:57:07

What I learned from rereading The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis

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[1:23] Maybe somewhere in a footnote, it would be mentioned that he came from nothing, grew up poor, dropped out of high school, and made himself three or four billion dollars.

[7:41] She explained that the shares in Netscape that Clark had given them had made them rich.

"And you have to understand," she said, “that when this happened, we were poor. I was ready to cook the cat."

I assumed this was a joke, and laughed. I assumed wrong.

[12:48] He was expelled from school and left town.  One time he came home talking about nothing but computers. No one in Plainview had even seen a computer except in the movies.

[13:21] I remember him telling me when he came back from the Navy, ‘Mama, I’m going to show Plainview.’

[14:42] In under eight years this person, considered unfit to graduate from high school, had earned himself a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

[15:05] I grew up in black and white. I thought the whole world was shit, and I was sitting in the middle of it.

[17:17] If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing. — Yvon Chouinard

[17:56] The most powerful paragraph in the book: One day I was sitting at home and, I remember having the thought ‘You can did this hole as deep as you want to dig it.’ I remember thinking ‘My God, I’m going to spend the rest of my life in this fucking hole.’ You can reach these points in life when you say, ‘Fuck, I’ve reached some sort of dead-end here. And you descend into chaos. All those years you thought you were achieving something. And you achieved nothing. I was thirty-eight years old. I’d just been fired. My second wife had just left me. I had somehow fucked up. I developed this maniacal passion for wanting to achieve something.

[19:00] Two part series on Vannevar Bush

Pieces of the Action by Vannevar Bush. (Founders #270) and Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century by G. Pascal Zachary. (Founders #271) 

[21:38] New Growth Theory argued that wealth came from the human imagination. Wealth wasn’t chiefly having more of old things; it was having entirely new things.

[22:54] On creating new wealth/companies: A certain tolerance for nonconformism is really critical to the process.

[24:31] The internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers, and most people haven't figured this out yet. —The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[25:06] A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

[27:36] George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones. (Founders #35) and Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. (Founders #209)

[33:10] The independence and the control is worth a lot more than the money.

[33:32] These people could never build the machines of the future, but they could sell the machines of the present.

[35:02] Clark on how to avoid being disrupted: For a technology company to succeed, he argued, it needed always to be looking to destroy itself. If it didn’t, someone else would. “It’s the hardest thing in business to do,” he would say. “Even creating a lower-cost product runs against the grain, because the low-cost products undercut the high-cost, more profitable products.” Everyone in a successful company, from the CEO on down, has a stake in whatever the company is currently selling. It does not naturally occur to anyone to find a way to undermine that product.

[40:41] The young were forever eating the old. In this drama technology played a very clear role. It was the murder weapon.

[40:55] The art of storytelling is critically important. Most of the entrepreneurs who come to us can't tell a story. Learning to tell a story is incredibly important because that's how the money works. The money flows as a function of the stories. —Don Valentine

[42:53] The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[45:48] What is the role I want to play in my company? I need to make sure to design my environment so I am always playing that role. Make sure you design the job you want. What is the point of being an entreprenuer if you don’t do that?

[47:45] John Doerr had cleared $500 million in 18 months. 30 times his original investment.

[49:13] You must find extraordinary people.

I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1.

Given that, you're well advised to go after the cream of the cream. That's what we've done.

A small team of A+ players can run  circles around a giant team of B and C players.

In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz. (Founders #208)

[52:03] Clark liked to say that human beings when they took risks, fell into one of two types, pigs or chickens. “The difference between these two kinds of people is the difference between the pig and the chicken in the ham-and-eggs breakfast. The chicken is interested, the pig is committed. If you are going to do anything worth doing, you need a lot of pigs.”

[53:14] In our 10 days at sea the value of his holdings had nearly tripled. This is fantasy land he said.

[53:54] There are vastly more conceivable possibilities than realized outcomes.

Get 60 days free of Readwise. It's the best app I pay for. I couldn’t make Founders without it.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Oct 27, 2022
#273 Kobe Bryant: Mamba Mentality: How I Play
00:31:05

What I learned from rereading The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant. 

[0:01] If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it.

If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it.

A lot of people say they want to be great, but they're not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness.

They have other concerns and they spread themselves out. That's totally fine. After all, greatness is not for everybody.

Greatness isn't easy to achieve. It requires a lot of time.

[1:08] You can't achieve greatness by walking a straight line.

[1:12] Respect to those who do achieve greatness and respect to those who are chasing that elusive feeling.

[1:29] Start of what Founders Daily is and why I am making it.

[5:58] Start of this episode.

[6:10]  May you find the power in understanding the journey of others to help create your own.

[6:23] He dedicates a lot of time in this book to the importance of learning from and studying the great people that came before you.

[7:31] Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant by Roland Lazenby (Founders #272)

[7:52] His dissection of the game was at another level. In my entire career, I’ve never seen a player as dedicated to being the best. His determination is unparalleled. He unquestionably worked harder than anyone else I have ever played with.

[8:07] Kobe knew that to be the best you need a different approach from everyone else.

[11:24] If I wanted to implement something new into my game, I'd see it and try incorporating it immediately. I wasn't scared of looking bad or being embarrassed.

[12:08] I had a constant craving, a yearning, to improve and be the best. I never needed any external forces to motivate me.

[12:31] If something has worked for other greats before you, and if something is working for you, why change it up and embrace some new fad? Stick with what works, even if it's unpopular.

[12:47] Kobe mentions reading: Jackie Robinson’s autobiography

[13:14] Reading is forced meditation.

[14:12] I never thought about my daily preparation. It wasn't a matter of whether it was an option or not. It was, if I want to play, this is what I have to do, so l'd just show up and do it.

[14:44] I always found that short 15 minute cat naps gave me all the energy I would need for peak performance.

[14:52] Your routine can change but your obsession can not.

[15:11] You can find an edge by doing things your competitors are not doing.

[16:58] I revere the players who made the game what it is, and cherish the chances I had to pick their brains. Anything that I was seeing or going to see, any type of defense or offense or player or team—they had already encountered years before. I talked with them to learn how to deal with those challenges.

[19:23] I devoured Bill Russel’s autobiography. There were a lot of valuable lessons in there. 

[19:49] If you wanna win championships, you have to let people focus on what they do best, while you focus on what you do best.

[20:28] You train an animal. You teach a person —Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator by Robert E. Price (Founders #107)

[21:31] In our first year together, he (Tex Winter) and I would rewatch every single game together. Preseason, regular season, playoffs. That's a lot of basketball.

[22:12] As I learned time and again, success in business often rests on a minute reading of the regulations that  impact your business. —Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe. (Founders #188)

[24:33] Coach K is really intense. He and I approach winning and losing the same way in that winning is the goal, and losing is, well, losing isn't even on the table.

[25:35] Coach K in The Redeem Team documentary: Understand the responsibility. I know I’m not going to fucking lose. I am not going to fucking lose. Not when I’m wearing this (team USA jersey) and not at this time in my career. You’re going to have to fucking shoot me. That’s how I want you to play.

[26:37] These greats won't hang around you if you don't display the same passion as they do. They won't share their time and memories with you if you don't display the same effort and drive for excellence that they did. I was accepted so quickly because everyone saw how hard I worked. They saw how badly I wanted to fulfill my destiny.

[27:01] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen. (Founders #255)

[29:18] It is to the point where if you know the basics, you have an advantage on the majority of players.

[29:33] “There are two things in business that matter, and you can learn this in two minutes- you don’t have to go to business school for two years: high gross margins and cash flow. All companies that go out of business do so for the same reason – they run out of money.” —Don Valentine

[30:55] I felt that my destiny was already written. I felt I knew that my future was undeniable and no one, not a person or a play, could derail it.

[32:01] This is the goal. This is my goal: For almost a decade he did nothing but address weaknesses and add to his game. Now his skill set is completely fleshed out. His game has no weaknesses. He's a nightmare to go up against, and he's worked to achieve that status.

[33:36] That's the money right there: That thirst and quest for information and improvement.

[33:57] Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil. (Founders #213)

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free by going to https://readwise.io/founders/

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Oct 26, 2022
#272 The Life of Kobe Bryant
01:19:26

What I learned from reading Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant by Roland Lazenby.  

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[9:15] Notes from The Redeem Team documentary:

30 seconds into the first practice Kobe is diving for loose balls. That set the tone.

Players go clubbing. Come back at 5:30am and see Kobe working out. "This motherfucker Kobe was already drenched in sweat. Yeah he’s different"— LeBron James. By the end of the week the whole team was on Kobe’s schedule.

Understand the responsibility. I know I’m not going to fucking lose. I am not going to fucking lose. Not when I’m wearing this (team USA jersey) and not at this time in my career. You’re going to have to fucking shoot me. That’s how I want you to play. — Coach K

At one point you will have a grandkid on your lap and they will ask you weren’t you in the Olympics ? What did you do? You wanna say: Well son, we lost to that fucking Greek team? —Coach K

When you’re in the Olympic village you're around people who are the best in the world at what they do. That is more special that celebrities in LA because this is athlete to athlete — I understand what they put their body through to get here. There’s so much respect and mutual admiration. —Kobe

What Kobe told team USA going into the 4th quarter: Just think about the play in front of you.

[12:07] At every turn his declarations of future greatness have been met with head shaking and raised eyebrows.

[14:33]  It's almost like Kobe's insane level of dedication was like compensation for the bad decision making of his father.

[15:15] 4 parts to Kobe’s blueprint:

Master the fundamentals

Improve your weaknesses

Study the greats

Concentrate

[15:12] Listening to Founders is like watching game tape of history's greatest entrepreneurs.

[15:40] I used to watch their moves and then I'd add them to my game. It was the beginning of a career-long focus on studying game recordings.

[15:48] He would invest long hours each day in breaking down his own performances and those of opponents— far more than what any other NBA player would ever contemplate undertaking.

[17:08] Jay Z’ autobiography: Decoded by Jay Z.  (Founders #238)

[21:22] If you’re not good, Jeff will chew you up and spit you out. And if you’re good, he will jump on your back and ride you into the ground. —The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. (Founders #179)

[21:58] If you're breaking down tape of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and so many other greats, you come to consider them your teachers.

[22:39] Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. (Founders #186)

[23:00] Jordan and Knight certainly shared a competitive nature that bordered on insanity, Moore added. "If you think Jordan and Kobe are competitive, go meet Phil Knight. He's a no bullshit competitor. It's, 'You play for me or I can't stand you, I will kill you.' That's Phil Knight, full stop. And he's not shy about it.”

[29:30]  He studied the game harder than anyone else has ever studied the game.

[30:00] One day just before practice, the team was informed that it couldn't have the gym due to flooding.

“This is bullshit!” he screamed, slamming a ball off the floor. “This is bullshit! We got practice, I want to practice. This is ridiculous!" (He was in high school)

[31:10] Kobe had a closet at home filled with critical research. It held all these VHS tapes of Michael's games. 

[32:00] Kobe on Michael Jordan: What you get from me— is from him. I don't get five championships without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.

[32:22] Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator by Robert E. Price. (Founders #107)

[35:22] Bryant's workout had been so impressive that for Jerry West, it had revealed his heart. It was there in the skill set alone, in some ways, just the amount of work that a player would have to have done to possess such immaculate moves, the footwork and fakes and execution, the hours that must have been put into that kind of perfection.

[37:55] Part of his strategy for keeping his disappointment at bay was to focus on others who had faced far more difficult circumstances. "I read the autobiography of Jackie Robinson," Bryant said. “I was thinking about all the hard times I'd go through this year, and that it'd never compare to what he went through. That just kind of helped put things in perspective."

[38:50] Kobe’s favorite book was Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. 

[39:00] The only way he could keep the whole dream going was to work harder and harder and harder, to spin his fantasies around and around until they wrapped him tight in a new reality.

[39:45] Estée Lauder: A Success Storyby Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[41:00] I think that game was vital to how good he became. That level of embarrassment to happen to somebody like him? The next year he came out like a fucking maniac.

[41:15] Leading By Design: The Ikea Story by Bertil Torekull. (Founders #104)

[46:03] Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212)

[47:00] The best book on the emotional toll entrepreneurs experience:  Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[54:15] Highly competitive personalities like Jordan and Bryant could absolutely kill a team atmosphere with displays of ruthlessness or selfishness.

[55:22] He stands up, points around the room and says, You motherfuckers don't belong in the same court with me.You're all shit. And he walked out of the locker room.

[56:07] 4 ideas from Kobe:

Search for your limits

Extreme personal practice

Resourcefullness—find a way.

Study the greats

[57:39] He was one of the rare few who simply cared far more about the game than anyone else.

[1:02:24] The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant 

[1:02:53] Why Warren Buffett reads annual reports brought to you by Tegus

[1:09:03] Steve Jobs on why marketing is about values brought to you by Capital

[1:13:36] Warren Buffett masterclass on how to differentiate your product brought to you by Tiny

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Oct 19, 2022
#271 Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century
01:12:54

What I learned from reading Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century by G. Pascal Zachary.

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[7:30] Episode starts. 

[7:31] Acts of importance were the measure of his life and they are the reason that his life deserves study today.

[8:10] Suspicious of big institutions Bush objected to the pernicious effects of an increasingly bureaucratic society and the potential for mass mediocrity.

[8:20] He believed the individual was still of paramount importance.

"The individual to me is everything," he wrote  "I would restrict him just as little as possible."

He never lost his faith in the power of one.

[8:57] Pieces of the Action by Vannevar Bush (Founders #270)

[9:32] Dee Hock — founder of VISA episodes:

One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock (Founders #260)

Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1and Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 2 by Dee Hock. (Founders #261)

[9:55] Edwin Land episodes:

Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. (Founders #264)

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #263)

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald Fierstein (Founders #134)

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #133)

The Instant Image: Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experienceby Mark Olshaker (Founders #132)

Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid(Founders #40)

[10:00] Vannevar Bush and Edwin Land both had a profound belief in the individual capacity for greatness.

[12:15] Bush came from an American line of can do engineers and tinkerers, a line beginning with Franklin, and including Eli Whitney, Alexander, Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin. (Founders #62)

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #115)

Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward Larson. (Founders #251)

Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bellby Charlotte Gray. (Founders #138)

Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson. (Founders #268)

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. (Founders #239)

[13:35] The Essential Writings of Vannevar Bush by Vannevar Bush and G. Pascal Zachary

[16:30] My whole philosophy is very simple. If I have any doubt as to whether I am supposed to do a job or not, I do it, and if someone socks me, I lay off.

[18:00] The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach (Founders #103)

[19:00] What Bush learned from reading old whaling logs I’m learning 120 years later reading biographies of founders.

[19:45] Books by Sebastian Mallaby:

The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future and More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite

[21:20] He admired men of action, despised rules, and felt that merit meant everything.

[22:32] If something is going to take two years he wants to figure out how to do it in six months or a year. This kind of the mentality he applied to everything.

[24:45] Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Founders #265)

[25:45] I lose my shit when thinking about how all these ideas connnect.

[30:45] He remained susceptible to bouts of nervous tension throughout his prime years.

[31:50] Advice he gave his sons: Justify the space you occupy.

[32:30] Do not emulate the ostrich: For better or worse we are destined to live in a world devoted to modern science and engineering. If the road we are on is slippery, we cannot avoid a catastrophe by putting on the brakes, closing our eyes or taking our hands off the wheel. What is the sane attitude of a scientist or layman? Absence of wishful thinking. No emulation of the ostrich.

[35:00] He insisted that discipline must be self applied or will be externally imposed.

[33:36] He found romance in adversity and solace in hard work.

[36:00] Vannevar Bush on Leonardo da Vinci and Ben Franklin

[42:33]  It is being realized with a thud that the world is going to be ruled by those who know how, in the fullest sense, to apply science.

[44:45] We want an inventive company rather than an orderly company.

[45:38] Tolerate genius. There are very few men of genius. But we need all we can find. Almost without exception they are disagreeable. Don't destroy them. They lay golden eggs.  —Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. (Founders #89)

[48:34] David Ogilvy episodes:

The Unpublished David Ogilvy by David Ogilvy. (Founders #189)

The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertisingby Kenneth Roman. (Founders #169)

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. (Founders #89)

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy. (Founders #82)

[49:00] Bush’s personal motto: Don’t let the bastards get you down.

[51:50] The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb by James Kunetka. (Founders #215)

[55:15] The more resourceful entrepreneurs are the ones that are going to win.

[1:01:03] Enzo Ferrari story brought to you by Tegus

[1:07:04] Warren Buffett masterclass on how to differentiate your product brought to you by Tiny

Get 60 days free of Readwise. It is the best app I pay for. I couldn’t make Founders without it.

My notes on 300 podcasts and lectures on entrepreneurship

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Oct 12, 2022
#270 Pieces of the Action: The Autobiography of Vannevar Bush
01:22:54

What I learned from reading Pieces of the Action by Vannevar Bush.

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[7:15] Pieces of the Action offers his hard-won lessons on how to operate and manage effectively within complex organizations and drive ambitious, unprecedented programs to fruition.

[8:54] Stripe Press Books:

The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop

The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993 by Jordan Mechner.

[9:24] Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century by G. Pascal Zachary

[10:40] Any exploration of the institutions that shape how we do research, generate discoveries, create inventions, and turn ideas into innovations inevitably leads back to Vannevar Bush.

[11:26] No American has had greater influence in the growth of science and technology than Vannevar Bush.

[12:23] That’s why I'm going to encourage you to order this book —because when you pick it up and you read it —you're reading the words of an 80 year old genius. One of the most formidable and accomplished people that has ever lived— laying out what he learned over his six decade long career.

[14:38] A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman (Founders #95)

[15:12] Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing by Thierry Bardini

[15:48] I don’t know what Silicon Valley will do when it runs out of Doug Engelbart’s ideas. —  The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #157)

[18:54] Bush points out that tipping points often rest with far-seeing, energetic individuals. We can be those individuals.

[20:36] I went into this book with little more than a name and came out with the closest thing to a mentor someone you've never met can be.

[20:58] We are not the first to face problems, and as we face them we can hold our heads high. In such spirit was this book written.

[24:38] The essence of civilization is the transmission of the findings of each generation to the next.

[29:00] This is not a call for optimism, it is a call for determination.

[31:12] It is pleasant to turn to situations where conservatism or lethargy were overcome by farseeing, energetic individuals.

[31:34] People are really a power law and that the best ones can change everything. —Sam Hinkie

[33:46] There should never be, throughout an organization, any doubt as to where authority for making decisions resides, or any doubt that they will be promptly made.

[34:32] You can drive great people by making the speed of decision making really slow. Why would great people stay in an organization where they can't get things done? They look around after a while, and they're, like, "Look, I love the mission, but I can't get my job done because our speed of decision making is too slow." — Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos by Jeff Bezos and Walter Isaacson.(Founders #155)

[38:36] Rigid lines of authority do not produce the best innovations.

[38:42] Research projects flowered in pockets all around the company, many of them without Steve's blessing or even awareness.

They'd come to Steve's attention only if one of his key managers decided that the project or technology showed real potential.

In that case, Steve would check it out, and the information he'd glean would go into the learning machine that was his brain. Sometimes that's where it would sit, and nothing would happen. Sometimes, on the other hand, he'd concoct a way to combine it with something else he'd seen, or perhaps to twist it in a way to benefit an entirely different project altogether.

This was one of his great talents, the ability to synthesize separate developments and technologies into something previously unimaginable. —Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Founders #265)

[40:56] He was so industrious that he became a positive annoyance to others who felt less inclined to work.  —Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power by James McGrath Morris. (Founders #135)

[42:22] Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and The Secret Palace of Science That Changed The Course of World War II by Jennet Conant. (Founders #143)

[45:35] If a man is a good judge of men, he can go far on that skill alone.

[46:00] All the past episodes mentioned by Vannevar Bush in this book:

General Leslie Groves: The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb by James Kunetka. (Founders #215)

J. Robert Oppenheimer: The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb by James Kunetka. (Founders #215)

Alfred Lee Loomis: Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and The Secret Palace of Science That Changed The Course of World War II by Jennet Conant. (Founders #143)

J.P. Morgan: The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow. (Founders #139)

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism by Susan Berfield. (Founders #142)

Orville Wright: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. (Founders #239)

Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone. (Founders #241)

Edwin Land: Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg. (Founders #263)

Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. (Founders #264)

Henry J. Kaiser: Builder in the Modern American West by Mark Foster. (Founders #66)

Professional Amateur: The Biography of Charles Franklin Kettering by Thomas Boyd (Founders #125)

Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bellby Charlotte Gray. (Founders #138)

[48:21] Difficulties are often encountered in bringing an invention into production and use.

[48:47] An invention has some of the characteristics of a poem.

It is said that a poet may derive real joy out of making a poem, even if it is never published, even if he does not recite it to his friends, even if it is not a very good poem.

No doubt, one has to be a poet to understand this.

In the same way, an inventor can derive real satisfaction out of making an invention, even if he never expects to make a nickel out of it, even if he knows it is a bit foolish, provided he feels it involves ingenuity and insight.

An inventor invents because he cannot help it, and also because he gets quiet fun out of doing so.

Sometimes he even makes money at it, but not by himself. One has to be an inventor to understand this.

One evening in Dayton, I dined alone with Orville Wright.

During a long evening, we discussed inventions we had made that had never amounted to anything. He took me up to the attic and showed me models of various weird gadgets.

I had plenty of similar efforts to tell him about, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Neither of us would have thus spilled things except to a fellow practitioner, one who had enjoyed the elation of creation and who knew that such elation is, to a true devotee, independent of practical results.

So it is also, I understand, with poets.

[51:28] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[52:21] When picking an industry to enter, my favorite rule of thumb is this: Pick an industry where the founders of the industry—the founders of the important companies in the industry—are still alive and actively involved. — The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen. (Founders #50)

[57:18] If a company operates only under patents it owns, and infringes on no others, its monopoly should not be disturbed, and the courts so hold. An excellent example is Polaroid Corporation. Founded by Edwin Land, one of the most ingenious men I ever knew (and also one of the wisest), it has grown and prospered because of his inventions and those of his team.

[1:00:46] I came to the realization that they knew more about the subject than I did. In some ways, this was not strange. They were concentrating on it and I was getting involved in other things.

[1:01:31] P.T. Barnum: An American Life by Robert Wilson. (Founders #137)

[1:05:53] We make progress, lots of progress, in nearly every intellectual field, only to find that the more we probe, the faster our field of ignorance expands.

[1:11:41] All the books from Stripe Press

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Oct 06, 2022
#269 Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel The Autobiography of Sam Zell
01:20:19

What I learned from reading Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel by Sam Zell.

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[6:37] I have an embedded sense of urgency. What I can’t figure out is why so many other people don’t have it.

[6:50] I was willing to trade conformity for authenticity.

[8:26] Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.  —Henry J. Kaiser: Builder in the Modern American West by Mark Foster. (Founders #66)

[9:36] Once I have formed my opinion, I have to trust my perspective enough to act on it. That means putting my own money behind it. My level of commitment is usually high. And I stay with my decision even when everyone is telling me I’m wrong, which happens a lot.

[10:37] Long term relationships reflect the most important lesson imparted to me by my father. He taught me simply how to be. He often told me that nothing was more important than a man’s honor. A good name. Reputation is your most important asset.

[11:10] When I was younger my career competed with my role as a husband and father and my career often won.

[11:37] Childhood does not allow itself to reconquered. — Leading By Design: The Ikea Story (Founders #104)

[12:20] The personality types that stay in the game for as long as Sam has —and he's been in the game for 50 years — usually describe entrepreneurship as a calling and an obsession.

[12:35] The great thing about entreprenuership is that you get to spend your time building something you enjoy. Most people don’t get to do this. They are stuck in jobs they hate. I had the time of my life. —Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton. (Founders #234)

[13:29] Business is not a battle to be waged — it’s a puzzle to be solved.

[14:33] Optimize for irreverence.

[16:54] Swimming Across by Andy S. Grove (Founders #159)

[18:11] His family narrowly escapes the Holocaust: His train arrived at 2:00 p.m. It was a ten minute walk home and when he got there he told my mother to pack what she could carry; they were boarding the 4:00 train out that afternoon.

[19:21] Every year for the rest of their lives they celebrated the date of their arrival with the toast to America. My sister and I grew up keenly aware of how fortunate we were to be in this country.

[15:58] You've got to understand that the world is a hard place.

[19:13] My tendency to go against conventional wisdom would later end up defining my career.

[26:55] Sam Zell — Strategies for Investing, Dealmaking, and Grave Dancing on The Tim Ferriss Show

[27:25] It just never occurred to me that I couldn't do it.

[28:42] Indifference to rejection is a fundamental part of being an entrepreneur.

[31:59] It was at this point in my career that I fully realized the value of tenacity. I just had to assume there was a way through any obstacle, and that I’d find it. This is perhaps my most fundamental principle of entrepreneurship, and to success in general.

[33:44] Difference for the sake of it. —James Dyson Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[35:58] I was going to do what I love doing and I wasn't going to be encumbered by anyone else's rules.

[40:35] What I find fascinating is just how many of these ideas that he got from a older, more experienced entrepreneur, that he used for the rest of his life.

[41:36] Larry Ellison episodes:

Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle by Matthew Symonds (Founders #124)

The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the America’s Cup, Twice by Julian Guthrie (Founders #126)

The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellisonby Mike Wilson (Founders #127)

[41:59] Like most oracles, Wasserman gave an opinion that was simple and sensible (but unambiguously presented, thank goodness). “It is not prudent,” replied Wasserman, “to ask people to change their nightly viewing habits. Once they are used to tuning in a given channel, they find it hard to make the move, no matter how good an alternative is being provided elsewhere.” Was that it? All of our thinking and talking and arguing and agonizing came down to the belief that Americans won’t change the dial? Wasserman’s advice sealed our decision.

Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. (Founders #183)

[43:55] Zeckendorf: The autobiograpy of the man who played a real-life game of Monopoly and won the largest real estate empire in history by William Zeckendorf.

[47:27] The captain of a Ludwig ship made the extravagant mistake of mailing in a report of several pages held together by a paper clip. He received a sharp rebuke: "We do not pay to send ironmongery by air mail!" — The Invisible Billionaire: Daniel Ludwig by Jerry Shields.

[51:32] There’s no substitute for limited competition. You can be a genius, but if there’s a lot of competition, it won’t matter. I’ve spent my career trying to avoid its destructive consequences.

[52:32] Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business by Mark Robichaux (Founders #268)

[55:20] What do you do? I'm a professional opportunist.

[59:31] A mantra that I would repeat regularly for decades to come: Liquidity equals value.

[1:07:59] I have always believed that every day you choose to hold an asset, you are also choosing to buy it. Would I buy our buildings at the price Blackstone was quoting? Nope.

[1:12:29] Fast decision making and autonomy had become like oxygen to him.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 29, 2022
#268 Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business
01:15:45

What I learned from reading Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business by Mark Robichaux.

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[8:00] Thread of highlights from Cable Cowboy by @Loadlinefinance

[8:31] Malone was stalwart about building long term value through leveraged cash flow. Earnings didn’t count. He wasn’t constrained by quarterly expectations.

[8:53] Malone built the pipes, then bought the water that flows through them.

[9:12] Malone took spartan operations to another level. Absolutely no bureaucracy. No waste. We don’t believe in staff. Staff are people who second-guess people.

[9:40] Malone averaged one M&A deal every two weeks over 15 years. That’s insane. These guys were slinging billion dollar deals like bowls of breakfast cereal.

[10:02] One of the best parts of the book is Robichaux’s exploration of Malone’s complex personality. It’s not just a fawning glow piece.

[10:46] The beginning of industries are always filled with cowboys, pirates, and misfits.

[12:05] This book— by far — has been the most requested book for me to cover on Founders for years.

[12:51] Founders episodes on Andrew Carnegie:

Meet You In Hell: Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America by Les Standiford. (Founders #73)

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie. (Founders #74)

Founders episodes on JP Morgan:

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow (Founders #139)

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism by Susan Berfield (Founders #142)

[14:37] Mavericks Lecture: John Malone

[15:04] Two Rockefeller podcasts:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow (Founders #248)

John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke (Founders #254)

[18:45] Bob when recruiting John: You've got a great future here. If you can create it.

[19:32] Malone's top executives were rough riders.

[20:49] In 1972 TCI had $19 million in annual revenue and its debt load was an obscene $132 million.

[21:49] Magness learned to listen instead of talk.

Successful people listen. Those who don’t listen, don’t survive long. —Michael Jordan Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil (Founders #213)

[24:41] That $2,500 loan turns into hundreds of millions of dollars for his grandsons.

[25:47] New employees were asked can you walk 10 miles in 10 below zero weather?

[26:42] The cable companies hardly paid any taxes because of the high depreciation on the equipment.

[28:24] He skimmed the company's numbers, looked up at Betsy and blurted out, I'm gonna hire the smartest son of a bitch I can find.

[30:55] Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher (Founders #242)

[32:26] Once you make a guy rich don’t expect him to work hard. Very unusual people do that.

[33:24] You can identify an opportunity because you have deep knowledge about one industry and you see that there is an industry developing parallel to the industry that you know about. Jay Gould saw the importance of the telegraph industry in part because telegraph lines were laid next to railraod tracks.

Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson (Founders #267)

Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr (Founders #258)

[35:24] 1. You raise money so you can increase production. 2. Use your increased production to get better rates on transportation than other refiners. 3. Use your increased profits —because you have better transportation —to buy your competitors. 4. You continue to find secret sources of income. — John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke (Founders #254)

[36:40] Malone thinks about his industry more than anyone else.

[38:07] He blundered early by suggesting in a meeting that Amazon executives who traveled frequently should be permitted to fly business-class. Jeff slammed his hand on the table and said, “That is not how an owner thinks! That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”  — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (Founders #179)

[38:58] Our experience has been that the manager of an already high-cost operation frequently is uncommonly resourceful in finding new ways to add to overhead, while the manager of a tightly-run operation usually continues to find additional methods to curtail costs, even when his costs are already well below those of his competitors. — Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders 1965-2018 by Warren Buffett (Founders #88)

[40:24] FedEx was fearful the bank would try to seize the mortgaged planes. The bank had a young officer keeping track of the situation. Every time he showed up at the airport, we would radio the planes not to land. It was all very touchy. — Overnight Success: Federal Express and Frederick Smith, Its Renegade Creator by Vance Trimble (Founders #151)

[41:14] How John described this point in his career: I'm the head of a little pipsqueak company in debt up to its ass, a couple million dollars in revenue, and not credit worthy to borrow from a bank. We're barely making it.

[42:25] Malone like the mathematics of it. Tax sheltered cash flow could be leveraged to land more loans, to create more tax sheltered cash flow.

[43:52] Stay in the game long enough to get lucky.

[47:05] Bowerman’s response to other coaches: “As a coach, my heart is always divided between pity for the men they wreck and scorn for how easy they are to beat.” —Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Cofounder by Kenny Moore. (Founders #153)

[49:27] "Forget about earnings. That's a priesthood of the accounting profession," he would preach, unrelentingly. "What you're really after is appreciating assets.”

[50:23] If you control distribution you get equity in return.

[53:04] My Life and Work by Henry Ford (Founders #266)

[54:49] Call Me Ted by Ted Turner

[1:06:33] When picking an industry to enter, my favorite rule of thumb is this: Pick an industry where the founders of the industry—the founders of the important companies in the industry—are still alive and actively involved.  — The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 21, 2022
#267 Edison: A Biography
01:24:31

What I learned from reading Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson.

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[8:00] Podcast starts 

[8:26] He had known how to gather interest, faith, and hope in the success of his projects.

[9:31] I think of this episode as part 5 in a 5 part series that started on episode 263:

#263 Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg.

#264 Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. 

#265 Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

#266 My Life and Work by Henry Ford.

[11:20] Follow your natural drift. —Charlie Munger

[11:54] Warren Buffett: “Bill Gates Sr. posed the question to the table: What factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they’d gotten in life? And I said, ‘Focus.’ And Bill said the same thing.” —Focus and Finding Your Favorite Problems by Frederik Gieschen

[12:46] Focus! A simple thing to say and a nearly impossible thing to do over the long term.

[15:51] We have a picture of the boy receiving blow after blow and learning that there was inexplicable cruelty and pain in this world.

[19:49] He is working from the time the sun rises till 10 or 11 at night. He is 11 years old.

[19:58] He reads the entire library. Every book. All of them.

[21:52] At this point in history the telegraph is the leading edge of communication technology in the world.

[23:01] My refuge was a Detroit public library. I started with the first book on the bottom shelf and went through the lot one by one. I did not read a few books. I read the library.

[23:21] Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

Blake Robbins Notes on Runnin’ Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love

Greatness isn't random. It is earned. If you're going to research something, this is your lucky day. Information is freely available on the internet — that's the good news. The bad news is that you now have zero excuse for not being the most knowledgeable in any subject you want because it's right there at your fingertips.

[29:00] Why his work on the telegraph was so important to everything that happened later in his life: The germs of many ideas and stratagems perfected by him in later years were implanted in his mind when he worked at the telegraph. He described this phase of his life afterward, his mind was in a tumult, besieged by all sorts of ideas and schemes. All the future potentialities of electricity obsessed him night and day. It was then that he dared to hope that he would become an inventor.

[31:29] Edison’s insane schedule: Though he had worked up to an early hour of the morning at the telegraph office, Edison began reading the Experimental Researches In Electricity (Faraday’s book) when he returned to his room at 4 A.M. and continued throughout the day that followed, so that he went back to his telegraph without having slept. He was filled with determination to learn all he could.

[32:38] All the Thomas Edison episodes:

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented The Modern World by Randall Stross (Founders #3)

Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes. (Founders #83)

The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Tripby Jeff Guinn. (Founders #190)

[32:57] Having one's own shop, working on projects of one’s own choosing, making enough money today so one could do the same tomorrow: These were the modest goals of Thomas Edison when he struck out on his own as full-time inventor and manufacturer. The grand goal was nothing other than enjoying the autonomy of entrepreneur and forestalling a return to the servitude of employee. —The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented The Modern World by Randall Stross

[40:54] Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (Founders #258)

[48:00] It's this idea where you can identify an opportunity because you have deep knowledge about one industry and you see that there is an industry developing  parallel to the industry that you know about. Jay Gould saw the importance of the telegraph industry in part because telegraph lines were laid next to railraod tracks.

[49:17] Edison describes the fights between the robber barons as strange financial warfare.

[54:35] You should build a company that you actually enjoy working in.

[55:47] Don’t make this mistake:

John Ott who served under Edison for half a century, at the end of his life described the "sacrifices" some of Edison's old co-workers had made, and he commented on their reasons for so doing.

"My children grew up without knowing their father," he said. "When I did get home at night, which was seldom, they were in bed."

"Why did you do it?" he was asked.

"Because Edison made your work interesting. He made me feel that I was making something with him. I wasn't just a workman. And then in those days, we all hoped to get rich with him.”

[57:26] Don’t try to sell a new technology to an exisiting monopoly. Western Union was a telegraphy monopoly: He approached Western union people with the idea of reproducing and recording the human voice, but they saw no conceivable use for it!

[58:07] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[59:42] Passion is infectious. No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet by Molly Knight Raskin. (Founders #24)

[1:01:23] For more detail on the War of the Currents listen to episode 83 Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes.

[1:03:05] From the book Empire of Light: And so it was that J. Pierpont, Morgan, whose house had been the first in New York to be wired for electricity by Edison but a decade earlier, now erased Edison's name out of corporate existence without even the courtesy of a telegram or a phone call to the great inventor.

Edison biographer Matthew Josephson wrote, "To Morgan it made little difference so long as it all resulted in a big trustification for which he would be the banker."

Edison had been, in the vocabulary of the times, Morganized.

[1:06:03] One of Thomas Edison’s favorite books: Toilers of The Sea by Victor Hugo

[1:08:26] “The trouble with other inventors is that they try a few things and quit. I never quit until I get what I want.” —Thomas Edison

[1:08:35] “Remember, nothing that's good works by itself. You've gotta make the damn thing work.” —Thomas Edison

[1:12:04] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana Kingby Rich Cohen. (Founders #255)

[1:12:58] He (Steve Jobs) was always easy to understand.

He would either approve a demo, or he would request to see something different next time.

Whenever Steve reviewed a demo, he would say, often with highly detailed specificity, what he wanted to happen next.

He was always trying to ensure the products were as intuitive and straightforward as possible, and he was willing to invest his own time, effort, and influence to see that they were.

Through looking at demos, asking for specific changes, then reviewing the changed work again later on and giving a final approval before we could ship, Steve could make a product turn out like he wanted.

Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda (Bonus episode between Founders #110 and #111)

[1:15:48] Charles Kettering is the 20th Century’s Ben Franklin. — Professional Amateur: The Biography of Charles Franklin Kettering by Thomas Boyd (Founders #125)

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 14, 2022
#266 Henry Ford's Autobiography
01:27:36

What I learned from rereading My Life and Work by Henry Ford.

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[7:45] True education is gained through the discipline of life.

[8:00] Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg. (Founders #263)

[9:40] Reading this book is like having a one-sided conversation with one of the greatest entrepreneurs to ever live who just speaks directly to you and tells you, “Hey this is my philosophy on company building.”

[12:40] His main idea is that business exists for one reason and one reason only —to provide service for other people.

[12:50] Everything I do is serving my true end — which is to make a product that makes other people's lives better.

[13:47] A sale is proof of utility.

[15:00] The sense of accomplishment from overcoming difficulty is satisfying in a way that a life of leisure and ease will never be.

[16:00] I think Amazon's culture is largely based on one thing. It's not based on 14. It's based on customer obsession. That is what Bezos would die on the hill for.  —Invest Like The Best: Ravi Gupta

[20:04] Later Bezos recalled speaking at an all-hands meeting called to address the assault by Barnes & Noble. “Look, you should wake up worried, terrified every morning,” he told his employees. “But don’t be worried about our competitors because they`re never going to send us any money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers and stay heads-down focused.” — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (Founders #179)

[20:40] Henry Fords philosophy: Get rid of waste, increase efficiency through thinking and technology, drop your prices and make more money with less profit per car, watch your costs religiously, when needed bring that business process in house, and always focus on service.

[21:15] Money comes naturally as the result of service.  —Henry Ford

[21:56] Churchill by Paul Johnson. (Founders #225)

[22:10] Churchill tells his son “Your idle and lazy life is very offensive to me. You appear to be leading a perfectly useless existence.”

[23:45] 3 part series on the founder of General Motors Billy Durant and Alfred Sloan:

Billy Durant Creator of General Motors: The Story of the Flamboyant Genius Who Helped Lead America into the Automobile Age by Lawrence Gustin. (Founders #120)

Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, A Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History by William Pelfrey. (Founders #121)

My Years with General Motors by Alfred Sloan. (Founders #122)

[24:16] Henry Ford's ONE idea that was different from every other automobile manufacturer:

He was determined to concentrate on the low end of the market, where he believed that high volume would drive costs down and at the same time feed even more demand for the product. It was a fundamental difference in philosophy.  — Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, A Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History by William Pelfrey. (Founders #121)

[25:50] There must be a better way of doing that. And so through a thousand processes.

[27:59] The only way to truly understand what you're doing is to do it for a long time and focus on it.

[28:30] It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game that you've been playing all your life. — Mickey Mantle

[32:25] One idea at a time is about as much as anyone can handle.

[35:45] Picking up horse shit used to be a job.

[37:30] That is the way with wise people — they are so wise and practical that they always know to a dot just why something cannot be done; they always know the limitations. That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work.

[38:20] I cannot say that it was hard work. No work with interest is ever hard.

[40:45] None of this works unless you bet on yourself. And usually you are not in the best position when you have to make this decision.

[49:59] The most beautiful things in the world are those from which all excess weight has been eliminated.

[50:15] Rick Rubin: In the Studio by Jake Brown. (Founders #245)

[54:10] I can entirely sympathize with the desire to quit a life of activity and retire to a life of ease. I have never felt the urge myself.

[55:30] I don't wanna make a low quality cheap product. I wanna make a high quality cheap product. To do that he's literally got to invent the ability to mass produce cars —which did not exist before Henry Ford.

[56:00] A principle rather than an individual is at work. And that the principle is so simple that it seems mysterious.

[56:25] He says if we can save 10 steps a day for each of the 12,000 employees that I have, you will save 50 miles of wasted motion and misspent energy every day. The way Ford’s brain works is very similar to the way Rockefeller's brain works. — Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

[58:25] What a line! : No one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible.

[59:10] I refuse to recognize that there are impossibilities. I cannot discover that any one knows enough about anything on this earth definitely to say what is and what is not possible.

[59:30] Not a single operation is ever considered as being done in the best or cheapest way in our company.

[1:01:05] Continuous improvement makes your business likely to survive economic downturns.

[1:05:27] “The definition of business is problems." His philosophy came down to a simple fact of business life: success lies not in the elimination of problems but in the art of creative, profitable problem solving. The best companies are those that distinguish themselves by solving problems most effectively. — Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer. (Founders #20)

[1:06:38] The best companies are those that distinguish themselves by solving problems most effectively.

[1:06:53] That is the point that Henry Ford is making. You should thank your stars for the problem that you're having because once you solve it, you will now have better problem solving abilities. And therefore it's likely over time, that your company becomes more successful as a result of you being forced into this very difficult position to actually grow and acquire these new skills, because business is problems.

[1:08:45] Lucas unapologetically invested in what he believed in the most: himself. —George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones. (Founders #35)

[1:12:35] Henry Ford distilled down to five words: maximum service at minimum cost.

[1:18:52] Every advance begins in a small way and with the individual.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Sep 08, 2022
#265 Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
01:38:49

What I learned from rereading Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

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[3:11] His mind was never a captive of reality.

[5:16] A complete list of every Founders episode on Steve Jobs and the founders Steve studied: Steve Jobs’s Heroes

[7:15] Steve Jobs and The Next Big Thing by Randall Stross (Founders #77)

[9:05] Steve Job’s Commencement Address

[9:40] Driven and curious, even when things were tough, he was a learning machine.

[10:20] He learned how to manage himself.

[12:45] Anything could be figured out and since anything could be figured out anything could be built.

[14:10] It was a calculation based on arrogance. — The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen (Founders #255)

[18:00] We were no longer aiming for the handful of hobbyists who liked to assemble their own computers. For every one of them there were a thousand people who would want the machine to be ready to run.

[17:40] He was a free thinker whose ideas would often run against the conventional wisdom of any community in which he operated.

[19:55] He had no qualms about calling anyone up in search of information or help.

[20:40] I've never found anybody who didn't want to help me when I've asked them for help.

I've never found anyone who's said no or hung up the phone when I called. I just asked.

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask.

[21:50] First you believe. Then you work on getting other people to share your belief.

[24:55] All the podcasts on Edwin Land:

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #263)

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald Fierstein (Founders #134)

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #133)

The Instant Image: Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experienceby Mark Olshaker (Founders #132)

Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid (Founders #40)

[25:00] My friend Frederick’s newsletter I was interviewed for

[30:20] He was an extraordinary speaker and he wielded that tool to great effect.

[31:00] Never underestimate the value of an ally. — Estée Lauder: A Success Story by Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[32:50] If you go to sleep on a win you’re going to wake up with a loss.

[33:00] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)

[34:20] Software development requires very little capital investment. It is basically intellectual capital. The main cost is the labor required to design and test it. There's no need for expensive factories. It can be replicated endlessly for practically nothing.

[38:10] He cared passionately and he never dialed it in.

[39:45] To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History by Lawrence Levy (Founders #235)

[42:58] Time carries most of the weight.

[43:30] People that are learning machines and then refuse to quit are incredibly hard to beat. Steve jobs was a learning machine who refused to quit.

[44:17] Steve Jobs and The Next Big Thing by Randall Stross (Founders #77)

[49:40] Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

[50:30] There were times when the reactions against Steve baffled Steve.

I remember him sometimes saying to me: Why are they upset?

What that said to me was that he didn't intend to get that outcome. It was a lack of skill as opposed to meanness. A lack of skill of dealing with other people.

[55:50] Creative thinking, at its best, is chalk full of failures and dead ends.

[56:40] Successful people listen. Those that don’t listen don’t last long. —Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212) 

[58:40] You can't go to the library and find a book titled The Business Model for Animation. The reason you can't is because there's only been one company Disney that's ever done it well, and they were not interested in telling the world how lucrative it was.

[1:01:20] The company is one of the most amazing inventions of humans.

[1:02:25] The only purpose for me in building a company is so that the company can make products. One is a means to the other.

[1:04:00] Personal History by Katherine Graham (Founders #152)

[1:10:11] Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda

[1:11:12] What am I focusing on that sets me apart from my competitors?

[1:13:00] The channel? We lost $2 billion last year. Who gives a fuck about the channel?

[1:15:21] Time carries most of the weight. Stay in the game as long as possible.

[1:16:41] The information he'd glean would go into the learning machine that was his brain. Sometimes that's where it would sit, and nothing would happen. Sometimes he'd concoct a way to combine it with something else he'd seen, or perhaps to twist it in a way to benefit an entirely different project altogether. This was one of his great talents, the ability to synthesize separate developments and technologies into something previously unimaginable.

Get 60 days free of Readwise. It is the best app I pay for. I could not make Founders without it.

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Aug 30, 2022
#264 The Story of Edwin Land and Polaroid
00:54:05

What I learned from rereading Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. 

(0:01) The most obvious parallel is to Apple Computer.

Both companies specialized in relentless, obsessive refinement of their technologies. Both were established close to great research universities to attract talent.

Both fetishized superior, elegant, covetable product design. And both companies exploded in size and wealth under an in-house visionary-godhead-inventor-genius.

At Apple, that man was Steve Jobs. At Polaroid, the genius was Edwin Land.

Just as Apple stories almost all lead back to Jobs, Polaroid lore always seems to focus on Land.

(1:22) Both men were college dropouts; both became as rich as anyone could ever wish to be; and both insisted that their inventions would change the fundamental nature of human interaction.

(1:37) Jobs expressed his deep admiration for Edwin Land. He called him a national treasure.

(3:12) All the podcasts on Edwin Land:

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #263)

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald Fierstein (Founders #134)

Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg (Founders #133)

The Instant Image: Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experience by Mark Olshaker (Founders #132)

Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid (Founders #40)

(4:07) Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

(5:51) Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There's something magical about that place. There are a lot of people innovating, and that's not the main distinction of my career. The reason Apple resonates with people is that there's a deep current of humanity in our innovation. I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a  desire to express themselves. In fact some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side. In the seventies computers became a way for people to express their creativity. Great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were also great at science. Michelangelo knew a lot about how to quarry stone, not just how to be a sculptor. —  Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson (Founders #214)

(7:07) All the podcasts about Henry Ford:

I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow (Founders #9)

The Autobiography of Henry Ford by Henry Ford (Founders #26) 

Today and Tomorrow Henry Ford (Founders #80) 

My Forty Years With Ford by Charles Sorensen  (Founders #118)

The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn (Founders #190) 

(9:16) Another parallel to Jobs: Land's control over his company was nearly absolute, and he exercised it to a degree that was compelling and sometimes exhausting.

(11:43) When you read a biography of Edwin land you see an incredibly smart, gifted, driven, focused person endure decade after decade of struggle. And more importantly —finally work his way through.

(13:32) Another parallel to Jobs: You may be noticing that none of this has anything to do with instant photography. Polarizers rather than pictures would define the first two decades of lands intellectual life and would establish his company. Instant photos were an idea that came later on, a secondary business around which his company was completely recreated.

(14:26) “Missionaires make better products.” —Jeff Bezos

(17:44) His letter to shareholders gradually became a particularly dramatic showcase for his language and his thinking. These letters-really more like personal mission statements-are thoughtful and compact, and just eccentric enough to be completely engaging. Instead of discussing earnings and growth they laid out Land's World inviting everyone to join.

(18:03) Land gave him a four-word job description: "Keeper of the language.”

(23:15) No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration. — My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins (Founders #170)

(27:00) The leap to Polaroid was like replacing a messenger on horseback with your first telephone.

(28:01) Hire a paid critic:

Norio Ohga, who had been a vocal arts student at the Tokyo University of Arts when he saw our first audio tape recorder back in 1950. I had had my eye on him for all those years because of his bold criticism of our first machine.

He was a great champion of the tape recorder, but he was severe with us because he didn't think our early machine was good enough. It had too much wow and flutter, he said. He was right, of course; our first machine was rather primitive. We invited him to be a paid critic even while he was still in school. His ideas were very challenging. He said then, "A ballet dancer needs a mirror to perfect her style, her technique.

Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by Akio Morita.

(32:13) Another parallel to Jobs: Don't kid yourself. Polaroid is a one man company.

(33:32) He argued there was no reason that well-designed, wellmade computers couldn't command the same market share and margins as a luxury automobile.

A BMW might get you to where you are going in the same way as a Chevy that costs half the price, but there will always be those who will pay for the better ride in the sexier car. Rather than competing with commodity PC makers like Dell, Compaq and Gateway, why not make only first-class products with high margins so that Apple could continue to develop even better first-class products?

The company could make much bigger profits from selling a $3,000 machine rather than a $500 machine, even if they sold fewer of them.

Why not, then, just concentrate on making the best $3,000 machines around? — Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products by Leander Kahney.

(37:51) How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher 

(45:00) All the podcasts about Enzo Ferrari

Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime. (Founders #97) 

Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics, and The Making of an Automotive Empire by Luca Dal Monte (Founders #98) 

Enzo Ferrari: The Man and The Machine by Brock Yates (Founders #220) 

(45:08) Soul in the game. Listen to how Edwin Land describes his product:

We would not have known and have only just learned that a new kind of relationship between people in groups is brought into being by SX-70 when the members of a group are photographing and being photographed and sharing the photographs: it turns out that buried within us—

there is latent interest in each other; there is tenderness, curiosity, excitement, affection, companionability and humor; it turns out, in this cold world where man grows distant from man,

and even lovers can reach each other only briefly, that we have a yen for and a primordial competence for a quiet good-humored delight in each other:

we have a prehistoric tribal competence for a non-physical, non-emotional, non-sexual satisfaction in being partners in the lonely exploration of a onceempty planet.

(50:31) “Over the very long term, history shows that the chances of any business surviving in a manner agreeable to a company’s owners are slim at best.” —Charlie Munger

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Aug 24, 2022
#263 Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It
01:11:31

What I learned from rereading Land's Polaroid: A Company and the Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg.

[0:01] Why is Polaroid a nutty place? To start with, it’s run by a man who has more brains than anyone has a right to. He doesn’t believe anything until he’s discovered it and proved it for himself. Because of that, he never looks at things the way you and I do. He has no small talk. He has no preconceived notions. He starts from the beginning with everything. That’s why we have a camera that takes pictures and develops them right away.

[1:33] More books on Edwin Land: 

Insisting on The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land by Victor McElheny 

The Instant Image: Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experienceby Mark Olshaker 

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald Fierstein 

Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Chris Bonanos 

[2:18] “Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” —  Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson (Founders #214)

[5:17] This guy started one of the great technology monopolies and ran it for 50 years.

[7:35] He lived his life more intensely than the rest of us.

[8:53] His interest in our reactions was minimal — polite, sometimes kind, but limited by the great drain of energy necessary to sustain his own part.

[9:30] He never argued his ideas. If people didn’t believe in them, he ignored those people. —A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman  (Founders #95) 

Loomis was not someone you could argue with. He would listen patiently to an opposing opinion. But his consideration was nothing more than that-an act of politeness on his part.” — Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and The Secret Palace of Science That Changed The Course of World War II by Jennet Conant (Founders #143)

[11:40] Right before he introduces the most important product he ever makes — he is in a fight for his life. There's a good chance that Polaroid is going to be bankrupt.

[14:29] The parallel to Steve Jobs is striking. Edwin Land —like jobs — had to turn around the company he founded before they ran out of money!

[15:02] At 37 he had achieved everything to which he aspired except success.

[15:32] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[22:48] The heroes of your heroes become your heroes.

[23:39] Bill Gates would later tell a friend he went to Harvard to learn from people smarter than he was —and left disappointed. —Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)

[27:22] The young hurl themselves into vast problems that have troubled the world's best thinkers, believing that they can find a solution. It is well that they should for, from time to time, one of them does. — Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 2 by Dee Hock. (Founders #261)

[29:30] He concentrated ferociously on his quest.

[29:43] We live in the age of infinite distraction.

[30:03] My whole life has been spent trying to teach people that intense concentration for hour after hour can bring out in people resources they didn't know they had.

[30:29] Among all the components and Land's intellectual arsenal, the chief one seems to be simple concentration. — The Instant Image: Edwin Land and The Polaroid Experience by Mark Olshaker. (Founders #132)

[41:50] A Landian question took nothing for granted, accepted no common knowledge, tested the cliche, and treated conventional wisdom as an oxymoron.

[42:44] A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald Fierstein  (Founders #134)

[48:33] They had no alternative but to succeed with the camera. Everyone left at Polaroid knew that at the present rate of decline the business, the company, and their jobs would not survive 1947.

[55:45] Smith estimated that throughout the eighties he spent at least four hours a day reading. He found he relied quite heavily on his own vision, backed by assimilating information from many different disciplines all at once. “The common trait of people who supposedly have vision is that they spend a lot of time reading and gathering information, and then synthesize it until they come up with an idea." — Overnight Success: Federal Express and Frederick Smith, Its Renegade Creator by Vance Trimble (Founders #151)

[59:05] If you’re not good, Jeff will chew you up and spit you out. And if you’re good, he will jump on your back and ride you into the ground. — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. (Founders #179) 

[1:02:24] They were among the first of the park's attractions to be finished, but the pressure of time was already weighing on everyone. One day John Hench stopped by to check the progress on the coaches and had an idea, which he brought to his boss. "Why don't we just leave the leather straps off, Walt? The people are never going to appreciate all the close-up detail."

Walt Disney treated Hench to a tart little lecture: "You're being a poor communicator. People are okay, don't you ever forget that. They will respond to it. They will appreciate it."

Hench didn't argue. "We put the best darn leather straps on that stagecoach you've ever seen."

Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow. (Founders #158)

[1:05:53] There is no such thing as group originality or group creativity or group perspicacity. I do believe wholeheartedly in the individual capacity for greatness. Profundity and originality are attributes of single, if not singular, minds.

[1:10:32] There's nothing more refreshing than thinking for a few minutes with your eyes closed.

[1:11:00] The present is the past biting into the future.

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Aug 18, 2022
#262 The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World's Greatest Negotiator
00:59:14

What I learned from reading The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World's Greatest Negotiator by Rich Cohen.

[1:20] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen (Founders #255)

[2:42] You Can Negotiate Anything: How to Get What You Want by Herb Cohen.

[3:57] Even our heroes falter.

[6:01] Once you see your life as a game, and the things you strive for as no more than pieces in that game, you'll become a much more effective player.

[7:20] He was proving what would become a lifelong principle: Most people are schmucks and will obey any type of authority.

[7:34] Power is based on perception; if you think you got it, you got it, even if you don't got it.

[7:54] Nolan Bushnell to a young Steve Jobs: “I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, ‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.”  from Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #214)

[10:30] Life is a game and to win you must consider other people as players with as much at stake as yourself. If you understand their motivations, you can control the action and free yourself from every variety of jam. Focus less on yourself and more on others. Everyone has something at stake. If you address that predicament you can move anyone from no to yes.

[14:01] Those who can live with ambiguity and still function do the best.

[14:21] Ambiguity is the constant companion of the entrepreneur.

[15:26] Don't bitch. Don't complain. Just play the cards that you've been dealt.

[20:12] Most people try to blend in. Herbie went the other way. When they zig, I zag.

[21:49] It meant Sharon had failed to understand an essential part of an ancient code. If you have a problem with your brother, you deal with it inside the family. Don't rat. Don't turn your brother in to the cops. It was another one of his big lessons. Loyalty. Without that you have nothing.

[27:03] Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

[30:11] When it comes to negotiating you'd be better off acting like you know less, not more.

[32:18] How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know by Byron Sharp

[35:56] He believed it was good, possibly very good, and it was this belief, which never wavered, that would give him the confidence to persist despite  the rejections that were coming.

Quoting Harry Truman, he'd say, "I make a decision once."

And he'd made his decision about the book. In case of rejection, the only thing that would change was his opinion of the publishing house.

[37:01] It took 18 no's to get to a yes.

[37:37] Herbie sells his book by hand. This part is incredible.

[40:36] Back in Bensonhurst we were seeing my father as he'd been before he was our father. As he was still deep down when we weren't looking.

[43:50] I told him I did not want something to fall back on because people who have something to fall back on usually end up "falling back on it.

[47:34] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son. —Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher (Founders #242)

That was the last time I saw him. His brave cheerfulness chokes me every time I recall the scene. It is impossible to imagine my father's emotions as he waved goodbye knowing that he might be on his way to London to die. Sixty years have not softened these memories, nor the sadness that he missed enjoying his three children growing up.

I felt the devastating loss of my dad, his love, his humor, and the things he taught me. I feared for a future without him.

Invention: A Life by James Dyson (Founders #205)

[52:48] Even our heroes falter.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Aug 11, 2022
#261 Autobiography of a Restless Mind Volume One and Two
00:39:05

What I learned from rereading Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 and Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 2 by Dee Hock.

[4:39] Quotes: Abraham Lincoln | Pythagoras | Mark Twain | Socrates | Napoleon | Leonardo da Vinci

[6:15] One should not read like a dog obeying its master, but like an eagle hunting its prey.

[6:48] Humility and generosity have no enemies.

[7:12] Powerful writing should take one side and stick to it tenaciously, ignoring the other even though it may have merit. Objective writing is impotent.

[8:02] The essential reward of anything well done is to have done it.

[8:07] What becomes known is worthless until it is shared.

[9:25] No dream is so great as the person you might become by remaining true to it.

[11:04] The wise make great use of adversity. The foolish whine about it.

[12:02] Impatience is a perpetual barrier between desire and realization.

[12:46] There are two ways to look at opposition: I want to do it and they will not let me or they want to prevent me and I won’t let them.

[13:54] When we fully attend to management of self, excellent management of all else is unavoidable.

[14:43] A meaningful life cannot be made from denial. It must be made from affirmation.

[15:16] We are each the author of our own life. Whatever we write, masterpiece or trash, it will be published and widely read throughout our life and for decades thereafter.

[16:21] The wise do not feel demeaned by asking for advice or diminished by following it.

[16:37] A wise man goes forth to meet difficulty on rather than agonizing at its approach.

[21:27] Superb design and sluggish effort can never compete with modest design and diligent effort.

[21:45] It is both foolish and weak to defer confronting what cannot be avoided.

[22:04] I have done many great things perfectly—the ones I imagined but never attempted.

[22:09] Delaying what we must do eventually does nothing but lengthen the time and distance we must carry the burden.

[22:30] The most interesting people are always the most interested people.

[22:54] Complaining about life is like hurling sand against the wind.

[23:31] Beginning of Volume 2

[27:29] Certainty is not a property of the universe. It is a construct of the mind.

[28:09] Any idiot can impose and exercise control. It takes genius to ensure freedom and release creativity.

[29:18] Two centuries ago it took a year to send a message around the globe. Now it takes a fraction of a second. We have no idea what this means or what the consequences may be.

[30:04] “Use your head, but follow your heart.” is my advice to all my grandchildren. Come to think of it. It's not bad advice for adults as well.

[30:54] Man is at war with his own nature.

[31:12] There is nothing at all wrong with discipline providing it is self-induced rather than imposed.

[31:26] Books are seductive things. All are worth a look and a touch, some a kiss, others an affair, the best marriage and lifelong devotion.

[32:41] Genius merely articulates what your heart already knows.

[32:45] The young hurl themselves into vast problems that have troubled the world's best thinkers, believing that they can find a solution. It is well that they should for, from time to time, one of them does.

[33:20] Great accomplishment often consists of doing little things well.

[33:35] The superior man is concerned when his deeds are not better than his words.

[34:16] Books are not dead things. They preserve some thing of the intellect and spirit that writes, and are instrumental in forming the intellect and spirit that reads.

[34:42] Ignorant commentaries corrupt brilliant thoughts. That may well prove to be the curse of the internet.

[35:44] Conduct is a silent sermon powerfully preached without cessation.

[36:02] Every organization has one or two heroes who gives it birth, direction, and purpose.

[36:20] Minnows of thought dart about in shallow minds with great agitation. Great whales of thought majestically move through oceanic minds without commotion.

[38:00] The new and novel should be viewed with suspicion. For it is improbable that one generation can be wiser than all ancestors combined.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Aug 04, 2022
#260 One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
01:21:22

What I learned from rereading One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock. 

[2:00] I feel compelled to open my life to new possibilities.

[2:54] Life is a magnificent, mysterious Odyssey to be experienced.

[3:12] One From Many (Founders #42)

[3:30] Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 1 by Dee Hock and Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition Volume 2 by Dee Hock

[5:12] Patrick Collison tweet on Dee Hock

[7:51] He thought from first principles and questioned everything, even down to the nature of money itself.

[8:26] He saw a better way of doing things and he didn't listen to folks who said it couldn't be done.

[9:32] Today's magic was yesterday's dream.

[13:27] Chaordic 1. The behavior of any self-organizing, self-governing, organ, organization, or system that harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos.   2.  Patterned by chaos and order in a way not dominated by either.  3.  Blending of diversity, chaos, complexity and order characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature.

[17:05] That Hock boy is a little strange, he'll read anything.

[23:01]  None of it seemed demeaning. It was life. It was making a living. It was what proud men did without whining.

[24:14] 76 year old Dee Hock describing the 20 year old version of Dee Hock: Thus, at twenty, newly married, unemployed, eager to learn but averse to being taught, emerged an absurdly naive, idealistic, young man—an innocent lamb hunting the lion of life. The hungry lion was swift to pounce.

[30:39] If you don’t zero in on your bureaucracy every so often, you will naturally build in layers. You never set out to add bureaucracy. You just get it. Period. Without even knowing it. So you always have to be looking to eliminate it. — Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton (Founders #234)

[31:57] In industrial age organizations purpose slowly erodes into process.

[34:29] Excellence is the capacity to take pain.

[38:41] You can't make a good deal with a bad person.

[39:48] Stubborn opinionated, unorthodox, rebellious.

[41:31] With three young children, a heavily mortgaged house, no job, little money in reserve, it was impossible to stay out of a dismal swamp of depression. Day after day, I walked the woods in misting Northwest rain. My constant companion was an overwhelming feeling of failure. What was wrong with me?

[42:51] There would be no more intense commitment to work.

[43:55] He's got an intense commitment to life!

[45:38] Use your brain but follow your heart.

[53:52] When I die and go to hell, the devil is going to make me the marketing director for a cola company. I’ll be in charge of trying to sell a product that no one needs, is identical to its competition, and can’t be sold on its merits. I’d be competing head-on in the cola wars, on price, distribution, advertising, and promotion, which would indeed be hell for me. — Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard (Founders #18)

[55:56] Focus on how your product or company ought to be and nothing else.

[57:28] Business Breakdowns Visa: The Original Protocol Business

[58:10] Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond (Founders #176)

[1:02:40] His Oh Shit! Moment

[1:06:12] He had a passionate commitment to the ideas that bordered on zealotry.

[1:06:39] There were dozens of times when I longed to quit. What prevented me is not entirely clear.

[1:06:58] Possibility can never be determined by opinion, only by attempt.

[1:07:26] What kept me going remains a mystery. It doesn't really matter for there was an inexpressible sense that in some profound non-physical way existence would lose meaning if I did not persist.

[1:10:03] Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan (Founders #259)

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

 

Aug 03, 2022
#259 The Autobiography of Bob Dylan
01:18:24

What I learned from reading Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan.

[0:51] No one could block his way and he didn't have any time to waste.

[2:38] Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. —Bob Dylan

[3:01] The best talk on YouTube for entrepreneurs: Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

[3:21] Estée: A Success Story by Estée Lauder (Founders #217)

[7:52] Billy asked me who I saw myself like in today's music scene. I told him, nobody. I really didn't see myself like anybody.

[8:12] We may be in the same genre but we don't put out the same product.

[16:34] What really set me apart in these days was my repertoire. It was more formidable than the rest of the players. There were a lot of better musicians around but there wasn't anybody close in nature to what I was doing.

[18:00] Bob spends a lot of time thinking about and studying history.

[20:34] I'd come from a long ways off and had started from a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else.

[21:27] I walked over to the window and looked outside. The air was bitter cold but the fire in my mind was never out. It was like a wind vane that was constantly spinning.

[21:45] It is incredible how much reading this guy is going to do. He takes ideas from everything that he reads and applies it to his work.

[22:30] Towering figures that the world would never see the likes of again, men who relied on their own resolve, for better or worse, every one of them prepared to act alone, indifferent to approval—indifferent to wealth or love, all presiding over the destiny of mankind and reducing the world to rubble. Coming from a long line of Alexanders and Julius Caesars, Genghis Khans, Charlemagnes and Napoleons, they carved up the world. They would not be denied and were impossible to reckon with—rude barbarians stampeding across the earth and hammering out their own ideas of geography.

[26:29] Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers by Arrian, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius Rufus. (Founders #232)

[29:37] I don't think there's been another human invention that can evoke deeper emotions than a great book —than great writing.

[31:17] “What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." —Carl Sagan

[32:35] On War by Carl von Clausewitz

[37:55] I knew what I was doing and wasn't going to take a step back or retreat for anybody.

[46:40] This idea of being completely separate from the outside world is a main theme in the book.

[48:00] Being true to yourself. That was the thing.

[51:11] After a while you learn that privacy is something you can sell but you can't buy it back.

[57:44] Too many distractions had turned my musical path into a jungle of vines.

[58:29] There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him.

[59:53] You have to find ways to get out of your own head.

[1:01:47] At first it was hard going like drilling through a brick wall. All I did was taste the dust.

[1:05:14] Sometimes you could be looking for heaven in the wrong places. Sometimes it could be under your feet or in your bed.

[1:07:25] Decoded by Jay Z. (Founders #238)

[1:07:42] Somebody different was bound to come along sooner or later who would know that world, been born and raised with it. . . be all of it and more. He'd be able to balance himself on one leg on a tightrope that stretched across the universe and you'd know him when he came-there'd be only one like him.

[1:08:23] A new performer was bound to appear. He'd be doing it with hard words and he'd be working 18 hours a day.

[1:09:15] Advice from his Dad:

“Remember, Robert, in life anything can happen. Even if you don't have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have that you don't want."

[1:11:54] I was beginning to feel like a character from within these songs, even beginning to think like one.

[1:12:28] Y’all can't match my hustle

You can't catch my hustle

You can't fathom my love dude

Lock yourself in a room doin' five beats a day for three summers

I deserve to do these numbers

[1:12:51] I played morning, noon and night. That's all I did, usually fell asleep with the guitar in my hands. I went through the entire summer this way.

[1:13:31] The place I was living was no more than an empty storage room with a sink and a window looking into an alley, no closet, a toilet down the hall. I put a mattress on the floor.

[1:15:22] Bound for Glory: The Hard-Driving, Truth-Telling, Autobiography of America's Great Poet-Folk Singer by Woody Guthrie

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

 

Jul 27, 2022
#258 Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons
01:39:15

What I learned from reading Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr.

Listen to every full episode for $10 a month or $99 a year. The key ideas you'll learn pays for the subscription cost thousands of times over.

[2:40] John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke. (Founders #254)

[3:46] From the back cover: Though reviled for more than a century as Wall Street's greatest villain, Jay Gould was in fact its most original creative genius. Gould was the most astute financial and business strategist of his time and also the most widely hated. He was the undisputed master of the nation's railroads and telegraph systems at a time when these were the fastest-growing new technologies of the age. His failed scheme to corner the gold market in 1869 caused the Black Friday panic. He created new ways of manipulating markets, assembling capital, and swallowing his competitors. Many of these methods are now standard practice; others were unique to their circumstances and unrepeatable; some were among the first things prohibited by the SEC when it came into being in the 1930s.

[5:59] If he was exceptional, it was as a strategist. He had a certain genius. Time and time again, Wall Street never saw him coming.

[7:22] Jay was in fact the Michelangelo of Wall Street: a genius who crafted financial devices and strategies, and who leveraged existing laws, in stunningly original ways.

[7:45] His success was profound, his productivity was astonishing, and his motivations and tactics were fascinating.

[10:54] Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

[11:11] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son.

[11:43] All ambitious men want either to please their fathers or to punch them in the goddamn face.

[15:05] Persistent. Deliberate in his study. Disciplined.

[16:30] Born of This Land: My Life Story by Chung Ju-yung (Founders #117)

[20:07] Jay stated his outright belief that happiness consisted not so much in indulgence as in self-denial.

[20:28] I am determined to use all my best energies to accomplish this life's highest possibilities.

[21:12] I'm going to be rich. I've seen enough to realize what can be accomplished by means of riches, and I tell you I'm going to be rich. I have no immediate plan. I only see the goal. Plans must be formed along the way.

[23:09] One decent editorial counts for 1000 advertisements. —  Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson and reading A History of Great Inventions by James Dyson. (Founders #200)

[27:32] Jay would always remain acutely aware of the brevity of one's time on earth.

[33:02] Great question to ask: Who would I rather be? Jay breaks down the tanner industry and who is in the best position:

I’ve come to realize that it is the merchants who command the true power in this industry. The tanner appears to take the greatest share of capital, but merely processes that capital, his expenses being extensive, his risk real, and his labor heavy. The shippers deal with the next largest sums, but again have extensive expenses and much work to do. The brokers, meanwhile, take what seems the smallest share but is in fact the largest. Theirs is nearly pure profit made on the backs of the shippers and the tanner, never their hands dirtied.

[38:39] He was aggressive and expansionist by temperament.

[46:10] There are magician’s skills to be learned on Wall Street and I mean to learn them.

[46:51] He fixated on the business and his own future and he appears to have cared little about the wider world.

[47:10] He seemed to have approached all things with a machine like intensity that some found hard to take.

[48:40] As I learned time and again, success in business often rests on a minute reading of the regulations that  impact your business. — Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe. (Founders #188)

[50:46] Action was his hobby.

[50:48] He was relentless in his efforts to bring about the accomplishment of those things which he set about to do.

[57:16] What finding your life’s work sounds like:

We are at a moment where there is a particular, inevitable future waiting to be made.

I see things very, very clearly. I feel inspired with an artist's conception. My road is laid out before me in the plainest of ways.

He felt as if “all the wheels” had finally been installed on his life.

Not only did he have professional focus, "but also the meaning that is family: a wife and child to fight wars and build castles for.

Now that I am at this place, it is a puzzlement to me how I endured before. Everything prior seems to have been boxing in the dark, scraping without reason.

Now I have my road to walk and my reason for walking it. Now the pieces fit, and this thing ambition is no longer blind but divine, a true and noble and necessary path."

[58:33] Work and family would remain his two hallmarks to the end of his days.

[59:56] He only wanted to be around A Players: Jay's abilities as an entrepreneurial talent scout, selecting the natural leaders from among the naturally led, the innovators from among the drones, would loom large in the making of his fortune.

[1:04:18] No one could have guessed that these two unknowns would soon be notorious as the all time greatest tag team ever to wrestle Wall Street to its knees.

[1:05:56] Both men (Fisk and Gould) had an inexhaustible capacity for work and both were unusually intelligent. They made a formidable combination when they joined forces.

[1:07:51] The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations by Larry Tye. (Founders #256)

[1:18:14] It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. —Warren Buffett

[1:25:51] Things are not as they appear from the outside. —John D. Rockefeller

[1:29:16]  Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. (Founders #192)

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

--

Listen to every full episode for $10 a month or $99 a year. The key ideas you'll learn pays for the subscription cost thousands of times over.

Jul 22, 2022
#257 My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark
01:18:23

What I learned from reading Explore/Create My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark by Richard Garriott.

[6:49] Richard Garriott’s house

[7:39] Past episodes on video game creators

Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games by Sid Meier (Founders#195)

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner (Founders #21)

[9:31] I was lucky to learn early on that a deep understanding of the world around you makes you its master.

[9:52] The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think. — The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[10:08] Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. —Steve Jobs

[10:33] The tagline of his company: We create worlds.

[13:13] My heroes are people who took epic journeys into the unknown often at substantial personal risk. I am simply following the path that they carved into history.

[13:33] Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (Founders #144)

[13:49] Two books coming soon:

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes

Shackleton: The Biography by Ranulph Fiennes

[14:57] By endurance we conquer. —Ernest Shackleton

[17:01] Insisting On the Impossible : The Life of Edwin Land by Victor McElheny

[17:45] In his acceptance speech, Land chose to pay tribute to the process of invention by analogy to the basic American sense of adventure and exploration: We are becoming a country of scientists, but however much we become a country of scientists, we will always remain first of all that same group of adventurous transcontinental explorers pushing our way from wherever it is comfortable into some more inviting, unknown and dangerous region. Now those regions today are not geographic, they are not the gold mines of the west; they are the gold mines of the intellect. And when the great scientists, and the innumerable scientists of today, respond to that ancient American urge for adventure, then the form that adventure takes is the form of invention; and when an invention is made by this new tribe of highly literate, highly scientific people, new things open up. . . . Always those scientific adventurers have the characteristic, no matter how much you know, no matter how educated you are in science, no matter how imaginative you are, of leading you to say, “I’ll be darned, who ever thought that such a domain existed?” —Edwin Land in A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald K. Fierstein (#134)

[17:55] I misspoke. The word should have been ancestors! Not descendants :(

[21:40] The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. —Steve Jobs

[22:00] Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell

[25:09] One of my favorite sentences in the book. Every storyteller is familiar with the pleasure that comes from sitting with your friends around a fire, pouring a few drinks, and weaving a yarn. This was man's first form of entertainment, and when done well is still his best.

[26:09] Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent by Nolan Bushnell (Founders #36)

[34:10] The owner of the store told me, "Richard, this game you've created that we're all playing is obviously a more compelling reason to have one of these machines than anything that's out there. We really need to be selling this on the store wall."

Selling? Wow, what an interesting idea.

[35:30] This was a state-of-the-art operation then. We hung them up in the store and in the first week sold about twelve copies at $20 each. I would estimate that at the time, there were probably fewer than a couple of dozen people anywhere in the world creating computer games, and not one of us could have imagined we were creating an industry that in less than three decades would become the largest and most successful entertainment industry in history, that a game would gross more in a few weeks than the most successful movie in history had earned in decades.

[37:46] California Pacific's version of Akalabeth was priced at $34, of which I received $5; and they sold thirty thousand copies.

I had earned $150,000, more than twice my father's yearly salary as an astronaut. It was a phenomenal amount of money, enough to buy a house.

It was so much money that it didn't really sink in; it all seemed like some kind of fantasy.

We all thought it was a fluke.

It was great that someone wanted to pay me for doing what I was already doing.

[38:59] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen (Founders #255)

[41:55] By then I knew enough about the computer game industry to understand that it wasn't actually an industry; it was an association of companies run by people who had no more experience than I did and who popped up, published a few games, then disappeared. So my brother Robert and I decided to start our own company.

[43:21] The leader's habits become everyone's habits.

[47:00] It would have been almost impossible to be more wrong. That was one of my first big lessons in: "What I think is not necessarily right and perhaps not what everybody else thinks.”

[49:04] Dune Director Denis Villeneuve Breaks Down the Gom Jabbar Scene

[53:32] The belief system of the founder is the language of the company. That is why it is usually written down and repeated over and over again.

[54:03] Imitation precedes creation. —Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. (Founders #210)

[1:05:59] This is going to be one of the most successful games they ever make and he had to fight just to get them to let him do this.

[1:07:42] The EA marketing team had projected lifetime sales of Ultima Online at 30,000 units—which they thought was wildly optimistic. We put it on the Internet Within a week or so 50,000 people had signed up to pay $5 for the disc.

[1:08:46]  The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[1:09:40] One thing is for sure. People are very, very willing to spend real money on all types of virtual items.

[1:10:18] A lesson on human nature: People began to covet these items— like property and magic swords— but were not willing to put in the time to earn the gold needed to buy them.

[1:12:01] The art of business was to stay in business long enough to give yourself the best chance to get a big hit.

[1:15:55] The creative joy we'd once shared in developing a game had been replaced by the prosaic demands of running a business. It was hard to believe how much had changed; only a few years earlier our people would happily work all night and love every minute of it, and now we had become a sweatshop.

[1:17:17] I left the office, drove to a grocery store parking lot, and wept for several hours.

It was the end of my personal Camelot. This was no game, this was my life. It had been painful for me to fire other people, but as I had just learned, that was nothing compared to being fired myself. I got blindsided by a deep and complex range of feelings.

I  felt like a failure; I was angry and depressed and confused.

It was a hurt that lasted a long time and, frankly, I don't think I ever fully got over it.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 15, 2022
#256 The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations
01:18:14

What I learned from reading The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations by Larry Tye.

[0:54] The very substance of American thought was mere clay to be molded by the savvy public relations practitioner.

[1:48] Bernays saved every scrap of paper he sent out or took in and provided them to be made public after his death.

[4:15] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen. (Founders #255)

[6:43] Thinking unconventionally, operating at the edge, and pushing the boundaries became his trademark over a career that lasted more than 80 years.

[10:13] Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.

[12:06] Eddie was convinced that understanding the instincts and symbols that motivate an individual could help him shape the behavior of the masses.

[12:32] 1. Get hired to promote a product. 2. Attach that product to a cause that gives the consumption of that product a deeper meaning. 3. Use the cause to get a small newspaper/media organization to write about the product. 4. Use that media to get larger media to promote the cause indirectly promoting your product.

[15:36] Set yourself to becoming the best-informed person in the agency on the account to which you are assigned. If, for example, it is a gasoline account, read books on oil geology and the production of petroleum products. Read the trade journals in the field. Spend Saturday mornings in service stations, talking to motorists. Visit your client’s refineries and research laboratories. At the end of your first year, you will know more about the oil business than your boss. — Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (Founders #82)

[17:13] Humans love if other humans will do their work for them.

[19:01] A lesson he is learning promoting: Public visibility had little to do with real value.

[24:13] The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz (Founders #206)

[24:35] He never, never, never, never has just one plan of attack. It is always many, many, attack vectors, relentlessly.

[28:29] Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. (Founders #186)

[37:23] The outcome was one that most publicity men can only dream about. An irresistible script for a stunt flawlessly executed, covered in nearly every paper in America, with no one detecting the fingerprints of either Bernays or his tobacco company client.

[38:18] John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke (Founders #254) and Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow (Founders #248)

[44:15] His philosophy in each case was the same. Hired to sell a product or service, he instead sold whole new ways of behaving, which appeared obscure but over time repaid huge rewards for his clients.

[44:26] The Dao of Capital: Austrian Investing in a Distorted World by Mark Spitznagel (Founders #70)

[45:00] He was convinced that ordinary rules did not apply to him. He repeatedly proved that he could reshape reality.

[45:21] The formula was simple: Bernays generated events, the events generated news, and the new generated a demand for whatever he happened to be selling.

[48:47] In an era of mass communications modesty is a private virtue and a public fault.

[52:45] The best defense against propaganda is more propaganda.

[59:54] Advice to younger parents from Eddie’s wife: Be certain to keep a balance where that little girl is concerned. Be sure not to let her get lost in your busy life. (The little girl was 2 or 3 at the time)

[1:09:14] He's like journalists, writers, media representatives, news anchors — You have something very valuable that I want —the attention of the public. If I can make your job easier, I am more likely to get some of that attention for my private interest.

[1:14:55] I still earned fees until I was 95.

[1:17:29] His children remained mystified as to how Eddie managed to die with so few assets.

[1:17:37] Sometimes later in life Eddie told me that he hadn't spent his money wisely. It is the only time he ever told me that he regretted anything.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 09, 2022
#255 The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King
01:29:58

What I learned from rereading The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen.

[0:47] This story can shock and infuriate us, and it does. But I found it invigorating, too. It told me that the life of the nation was written not only by speech-making grandees in funny hats but also by street-corner boys, immigrant strivers, crazed and driven, some with one good idea, some with thousands, willing to go to the ends of the earth to make their vision real.

[4:56] Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer by Stephen Dando-Collins (Founders #55)

[6:00] Unlike Vanderbilt's other adversaries William Walker was not afraid of Cornelius when he should have been.

[8:21] The immigrants of that era could not afford to be children.

[8:42] The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World's Greatest Negotiator by Rich Cohen

[8:54] He was driven by the same raw energy that has always attracted the most ambitious to America, then pushed them to the head of the crowd. Grasper, climber-nasty ways of describing this kid, who wants what you take for granted. From his first months in America, he was scheming, looking for a way to get ahead. You did not need to be a Rockefeller to know the basics of the dream: Start at the bottom, fight your way to the top.

[10:01] There is no problem you can't solve if you understand your business from A to Z.

[13:08]  Sam spotted an opportunity where others saw nothing.

[14:17] As far as he was concerned, ripes were considered trash only because Boston Fruit and similar firms were too slow-footed to cover ground. It was a calculation based on arrogance. I can be fast where others have been slow. I can hustle where others have been satisfied with the easy pickings of the trade.

[14:42] The kid on the streets is getting a shot at a dream. He sees the guy who gets rich and thinks, yep, that'll be me. He ignores the other stories going around.  // There's no way to quantify all that on a spreadsheet, but it's that dream of being the exception, the one who gets rich and gets out before he gets got that's the key to a hustler's motivation. Decoded by Jay Z. (Founders #238)

[22:36] He was pure hustle.

[24:15] Preston later spoke of Zemurray with admiration. He said the kid from Russia was closer in spirit to the banana pioneers than anyone else working. "He's a risk taker," Preston explained, “he's a thinker, and he's a doer.”

[26:33] They don't write books about people that stopped there.

[28:48] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow (Founders #248) and John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke. (#254)

[30:22] He seemed to strive for the sake of striving.

[30:44] If you're on a mans side you stay on that mans side or you're no better than a goddamn animal.

[31:11] The world is a mere succession of fortunes made and lost, lessons learned and forgotten and learned again.

[35:41] A man whose commitment could not be questioned, who fed his own brothers to the jungle.

[36:00] The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacificby Alistair Urquhart.

[37:02] Why the Founders of United Fruit were the Rockefellers of bananas.

[43:23] He kept quiet because talking only drives up the price.

[44:19] There are times when certain cards sit unclaimed in the common pile, when certain properties become available that will never be available again. A good businessman feels these moments like a fall in the barometric pressure. A great businessman is dumb enough to act on them even when he cannot afford to.

[49:30] He believed in the transcendent power of physical labor—that a man can free his soul only by exhausting his body.

[58:04] He disdained bureaucracy and hated paperwork. So seldom did he dictate a letter that he requires no full-time secretary.

[1:00:01] He was respected because he understood the trade. By the time he was 40 he had served in every position. There was not a job he could not do nor a task he could not accomplish. He considered it a secret of his success.

[1:01:02] Rick Rubin: In the Studio by Jake Brown. (Founders #245)

[1:04:00] Zemurray was the founder, forever on the attack, at work, in progress, growing by trial and error.

[1:06:44] Here was a self-made man, filled with the most dangerous kind of confidence: he had done it before and believed he could do it again. This gave him the air of a berserker, who says, If you're going to fight me, you better kill me. If you’ve ever known such a person, you will recognize the type at once. If he does not say much, it's because he considers small talk a weakness. Wars are not won by running your mouth. I'm describing a once essential American type that has largely vanished. Men who channeled all their love and fear into the business, the factory, the plantation, the shop.

[1:07:44] Founder Mentality vs Big Company Mentality: When this mess of deeds came to light, United Fruit did what big bureaucracy-heavy companies always do: hired lawyers and investigators to search every file for the identity of the true owner. This took months. In the meantime, Zemurray, meeting separately with each claimant, simply bought the land from them both. He bought it twice paid a little more, yes, but if you factor in the cost of all those lawyers, probably still spent less than United Fruit and came away with the prize.

[1:09:04] His philosophy: Get up first, work harder, get your hands in the dirt and blood in your eyes.

[1:13:02] For every move there is a counter move. For every disaster there is a recovery. He never lost faith in his own agency.

[1:13:57] A man focused on the near horizon of costs can sometimes lose sight of the far horizon of potential windfall.

[1:16:22] You gentlemen have been fucking up this business long enough. I'm going to straighten it out.

[1:19:03] In a time of crisis the mere evidence of activity can be enough to get things moving.

[1:19:42] Zemurray was never heard to bitch or justify. He was a member of a generation that lived by the maxim: Never complain, never explain.

[1:23:08] The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations by Larry Tye

[1:24:14] He should link his private interest to a public cause.

[1:25:32] In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

[1:28:28] Sam's defining characteristic was his belief in his own agency, his refusal to despair. No story is without the possibility of redemption; with cleverness and hustle, the worst can be overcome. I can't help but feel that we would do well by emulating Sam Zemurray–not the brutality or the conquest, but the righteous anger that sent the striver into the boardroom of laughing elites, waving his proxies, shouting, "You gentlemen have been fucking up this business long enough. I'm going to straighten it out.

“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 02, 2022
#254 John D. Rockefeller: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers
01:40:48

What I learned from reading John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke.

[0:07] He transmitted messages in code and secrecy covered all of his operations.

[0:39]  Rockefeller compared himself to Napoleon.

[2:20] He could think quicker and along more individual and original lines than any of them.

[2:35] It is always hard to successfully control what you don't understand.

[3:32] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

[7:27] By the time I was a man — long before it —I had learned the underlying principles of business and the rules of business as well as many men acquire them by the time they are 40. I needed no one to advise me about the nature of transactions with which I had been carrying on since childhood.

[8:59] Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller. (Founders #148)

[10:55] You should try to expose yourself to experiences that are slightly ahead of your skillset or understanding and you should do so constantly.

[13:48] A veteran of long-distance provider MCI, Price came to Amazon in 1999. He blundered early by suggesting in a meeting that Amazon executives who traveled frequently should be permitted to fly business-class. Bezos often said he wanted his colleagues to speak their minds, but at times it seemed he did not appreciate being personally challenged. “You would have thought I was trying to stop the Earth from tilting on its axis,” Price says, recalling that moment with horror years later. “Jeff slammed his hand on the table and said, ‘That is not how an owner thinks! That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.’ — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (Founders #179)

[18:42] He saw that posted rates, supposedly fixed, could also be negotiated. All was not as it seemed on the outside.

[20:45] He was the greatest borrower I ever saw.

[22:12] What if the president of a bank refused to make me a loan? That was nothing. That made no difference to me; simply meant that I must look elsewhere until I got what I wanted.

[26:07] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)

[26:41] Lost from view is the Rockefeller that Cleveland knew in the 1860s— a vigorous, alert gentleman with a quiet, but extraordinary personality.

[29:10] Small egos do not build giant companies.

[30:23] When Money Was In Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street by June Breton Fisher. (Founders #255)

[33:10] The customer-experience path we've chosen requires us to have an efficient cost structure. The good news for shareowners is that we see much opportunity for improvement in that regard. Everywhere we look we find what experienced Japanese manufacturers would call muda, or waste.* I find this incredibly energizing. I see it as potential-years and years of variable and fixed productivity gains and more efficient, higher velocity, more flexible capital expenditures. — Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos (Founders #155)

[34:54] Other refiners groused about these restrictions, but in general they accepted them as facts to live with. Rockefeller refused to do so.

[38:55] Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford. (Founders #247)

[40:15] You don’t want turnover on your core product team. Knowledge compounds. Don’t interrupt the compounding. — Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle by Matthew Symonds (Founders #124)

[47:47] 1. You raise money so you can increase production. 2. Use your increased production to get better rates on transportation than other refiners. 3. Use your increased profits —because you have better transportation —to buy your competitors. 4. You continue to find secret sources of income.

[55:23] Most simply doubted that Rockefeller's plan would work. John, it cannot be done, they said.

[56:13] It was ruthless efficiency and hyper competence.

[1:00:07] Rockefeller loves secret allies.

[1:00:31] The secret ownership of other companies was so well preserved that often a refiner enraged by Standard’s ruthless tactics would refuse its offer to buy him out and sell instead to a local competitor—unaware that he had in fact sold out to Standard.

[1:02:01] He believed that Standard Oil stock is the most valuable thing in the world to own and always bought more of it.

[1:05:57] Check out how Rockefeller turns an expense into a profit center: Standard purchased a half interest in Chess, Carley & Company, the largest distributor of refined oil to the South and Southwest. Together they purchased a number of the newly introduced bulk tank cars. Chess-Carley shipped turpentine from southern pine forests to Cleveland, where the cars were emptied and the turpentine was sold in the local market. The tank cars were then filled with kerosene and sent back to Louisville for distribution. In a single swoop the huge expense of shipment by barrels had been eliminated.

[1:09:22] He proceeded in the same steady, methodical way that a farmer plowed a field.

[1:13:47] The danger Potts and the Pennsylvania railroad posed to his creation convinced Rockefeller that the time had come to pick a fight with the world's largest industrial corporation.

[1:23:20] Rockefeller would have horse-drawn carriages drive up and down the streets and sell oil directly.

[1:28:28] I think it is fair to say that the strong men who were competitors in the oil refining business, the aggressive men in the best financial condition, and the most intelligent, indeed the class of men who would be most likely to survive in the competitive struggle, were the men who were most likely to take up our idea of cooperation.

[1:33:09] Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr.

[1:35:38] Jay Gould was the single most unsettling force ever to appear on the American industrial scene.

[1:36:22] Among wheelers and dealers of his day Gould had no peer.

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 27, 2022
#253 When Money Was In Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street
00:56:11

What I learned from reading When Money Was In Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street by June Breton Fisher.

[2:30] The Uses of Adversity by Malcolm Gladwell

[2:40] Business Breakdowns: Goldman Sachs: Fortune Favors The Old 

[3:00] Men can learn from the past, and I've been shocked how little some of the younger executives in the present firm know about its origins. They don't even know that my grandfather, whose picture is on the wall there, founded the firm.

[3:46] My grandfather, Henry Goldman, was the son of a poor German immigrant named Marcus Goldman. Marcus Goldman is the founder of Goldman Sachs.

[5:45] Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World by Lynn Downey (Founders #33)

[7:10] The job Marcus Goldman was grateful to have: Walking the streets peddling goods seven days a week. Working regardless of rain, or snow, or the humid summer heat.

[9:13] Henry had been slow learning to read. It was finally determined that the youngster suffered from astigmatism, and his chores in the shop were limited to fetching and carrying articles from the storeroom or fastening the shutters at closing time. His mother was convinced he would never succeed in a competitive world and was inclined to coddle and baby him. (The “slow learner” is the one that fuels much of Goldman Sachs growth!)

[12:03] At the time no qualifications or special training were needed to enter the banking business.

[13:36] Marcus was anxious to capitalize on every waking hour.

[14:19] Henry was an attentive listener who committed everything he heard to memory.

[18:40] Successful people listen. Those who don’t listen, don’t survive long. — Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby (Founders #212)

[25:12] This part about the Railroads reminded me of the Internet: As new businesses started up every day and the distribution of their goods was being revolutionized by the rapid spider webbing of railroads across the country, Henry was itching to get into the action.

[26:05] Goldman Sachs partners with Kleinwort Sons & Co  

[27:36] Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild by Amos Elon. (Founders #197) and The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets by Niall Ferguson. (Founders #198)

[30:01] David Ogilvy’s idea that The Good Ones Know More: First, you must be ambitious. Set yourself to becoming the best-informed man in the agency on the account to which you are assigned. If, for example, it is a gasoline account, read text books on the chemistry, geology and distribution of petroleum products. Read all the trade journals in the field. Read all the research reports and marketing plans that your agency has ever written on the product.

Spend Saturday mornings in service stations, pumping gasoline and talking to motorists. Visit your client's refineries and research  laboratories. Study the advertising of his competitors. At the end of your second year, you will know more about gasoline than your boss; you will then be ready to succeed him. Most of the young men in agencies are too lazy to do this kind of homework. They remain permanently superficial. — Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. (Founders #89)

[30:23] The best talk on YouTube: Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

[32:28] Jacob Schiff was fascinated by railroad development in all its ramifications and became determined that his firm would dominate the field. There was not a facet of railroad investment or operation that he did not carry in his head.

[34:30] Learn more about Standard Oil: Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford. (Founders #247)  Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

[39:18] Markets can turn on a dime. —Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur by Francis Greenburger (Founders #243)

[40:12] The greatest entrepreneurs that have ever lived optimized for survival.

[44:22] Henry’s motto: Money is always in fashion.

[45:08] The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst by David Nasaw. (Founders #145)

[54:00] But he held no sympathy for them. They had relied on the decisions of others, which he himself would never have done.

[54:13] Henry shared the regret that he had never developed greater rapport with his children. He thought of his inability to “noodle" with them, to express approval, to overlook their minor slips, to embrace them and say, “I love you.”

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 22, 2022
#252 Socrates: A Man for Our Times
00:47:28

What I learned from reading Socrates: A Man for Our Times by Paul Johnson.

[0:54] I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates. — Steve Jobs In His Own Words by George Beahm. (Founders #249)

[1:20] Churchill by Paul Johnson. (Founders #225)

Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson. (Founders #226)

Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson. (Founders #240)

[2:07] It’s fascinating how great entrepreneurs would arrive at similar conclusions even though they lived at different times in history, they lived in different parts of the world, and they worked in different industries.

[3:43] It was Confucius's view that education was the key to everything.

[4:57] Socrates was in no doubt that education was the surest road to happiness.

[7:05] Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers by Arrian, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius Rufus (Founders #232)

[8:43] It is immoral to play at earning one's living. —Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie (Founders #199)

[9:40] Socrates was never a bore—far from it.

[11:12] Excellence is the capacity to take pain. —Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp. (Founders #184)

[11:25] No discomfort seemed to dismay him.

[12:36] A healthy body is the greatest of blessings.

[14:50] Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Commonwealth and its empire last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. —Winston Churchill

[15:18] An incredible paragraph: It was Pericles' gift to transmute Athenian optimism into a spirit of constructive energy and practical dynamism that swept through this city like a controlled whirlwind. Pericles believed that Athenians were capable of turning their brains and hands to anything of which human ingenuity was capable-running a city and an empire, soldiering, naval warfare, founding a colony, drama, sculpture, painting, music, law, philosophy, poetry, oratory, education, science and do it better than anyone else.

[16:26] Robber barons like Henry Flagler (Founders #247) and Rockefeller (#248) believed you could be a master of fate too.

[18:41] Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward Larson. (Founders #251)

[21:20] His deepest instinct was to interrogate. The dynamic impulse within him was to ask and then use the answer to frame another question.

[22:27] I don’t want to skip over how important that sentence is: He made the people he questioned feel important.

[22:39] Mary Kay would teach her salespeople that everyone goes through life with an invisible sign hanging around his or her neck reading, “make me feel important.” —Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer. (Founders #20)

[25:18] He was extremely interested in how things were done by experts. Craftsmanship fascinated him. He accumulated a good deal of information concerning products and processes.

[27:48] There's just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. —Steve Jobs

[28:21] He wants to show that on almost any topic the received opinion is nearly always faulty and often wholly wrong. Socrates was always suspicious of the obvious. The truth is very rarely obvious.

[29:39] Be suspicious of the obvious.

[29:47] What is particularly liberating about Socrates is his hostility to the very idea of there being a right answer.

[30:21] This denial of independent thought by individuals was exactly the kind of mentality he spent his life in resisting.

[39:10] Intense competition generated artistic and cerebral innovation on a scale never before seen in history, but also envy, spite, personal jealousies, and vendettas.

[42:14] We have to accept that Socrates was a curious mixture of genuine humility and obstinate pride.

[44:42] Socrates in prison, about to die for the right to express his opinions, is an image of philosophy for all time.

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 17, 2022
#251 Ben Franklin and George Washington: The Founding Partnership
00:57:14

What I learned from reading Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward Larson.

[0:59] Both men have been called The First American but they were friends first and never rivals.

[1:32] Leadership at this level is a rare quality and well-worth study.

[1:53] The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin. (Founders #62) and  Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #115)

[3:53] He was bookish and inquisitive. Franklin quickly displayed a seemingly inexhaustible capability for hard work and was self-taught by reading.

[5:36] Franklin was convinced that acts mattered more than beliefs.

[6:06] Franklin advised fellow tradesmen. The way to wealth depends chiefly on two words: Industry and Frugality. Waste neither time nor money. Make the best use of both.

[7:06] The years roll around and the last one will come. When it does I would rather have it said he lived usefully than he died rich.

[8:25] He found electricity a curiosity and left it a science.

[8:50] When Franklin proposed the ideal prayer it was for “Wisdom that discovers my truest interests.”

[9:26] George Washington was a vigorous and active man, an early riser about his business all day. And by no means intellectually idle, he accumulated a library of 800 books. —Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson. (Founders #226)

[10:08] His (Washington) strategy was clear, intelligent, absolutely consistent, and maintained with an iron will from start to finish.

[16:09] The pictures that we primarily know them as: Washington on the $1 bill and Franklin on the $100 bill — Washington was 64 years old in that picture and Franklin was almost 80 — that is not what they look like at this point. Washington is an extremely young man (21 or 22 years old) and Franklin (48 years old) still has almost 40 years left of life.

[18:44] Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

[21:09] Think about this. Franklin is almost 50. He's already a successful entrepreneur, successful scientist, successful writer and now he focuses his talent on the most important project of his life. Something he will be working on in one form or another for the next 34 years —until he dies.

[24:28] Never underestimate your opponent. It’s all downside and no upside.

[26:39] You have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don't, you're going to lose. And that's as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you've got an edge. And you've got to play within your own circle of competence. —Charlie Munger

[27:58] Washington remained remarkably calm under fire.

[28:23] This is a great description of how lopsided this was: You might as well send a cow in pursuit of a rabbit. The Indians were accustomed to these woods.

[29:20] This is going to be  the most decorated military leader in early American history and so far everything we've seen from his early career is just one failure after another.

[32:00] Where Washington's regimen was chronically undermanned, Franklin’s was oversubscribed. They had precisely the same job—to secure the frontier.

[32:30] There's a lesson that both Franklin and Washington learned during this part that is going to eventually ripple throughout history: A final shared lesson carried weight. Despite the war's ultimate outcome, the British were beatable in New World combat. "This gave us Americans the first suspicion that our exalted Ideas of the Prowess of British soldiers was not well founded.” So it's like you have this reputation because you're this gigantic superpower, this world empire —and yet what we're seeing on the battlefield was like, oh, wait a minute —they're beatable.

[36:55] Understanding what people believe is pivotal to understanding why they do what they do.

[37:36] Washington’s view of the American Revolution: "Essentially, he saw the conflict as a struggle for power in which the colonists, if victorious, destroyed British pretensions of superiority and won control over half of a continent."

[40:17] We have taken up arms in defense of our Liberty, our property, our wives, and our children. We are determined to preserve them or die.

[43:02] Washington used the winter to reassess and revise his army structure and strategy because both were faulty.

[47:08] By soldiering on for one more year Washington's army, destitute and half naked, turned the world upside down. Imagine if they had quit before this point!

[51:50] When I look at this building, my dear sister, and compare it with that in which our good parents educated us, the difference strikes me with wonder. (A lot can change in one lifetime)

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 13, 2022
#250 The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger
00:57:04

What I learned from reading The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger by Greg Steinmetz.

[1:55] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[5:05] It is well known that without me your majesty might not have acquired the Imperial crown. You will order that the money which I've paid out, with the interest, shall be paid without further delay.

[6:20] There's many examples in the book where Jacob is constantly pushing the pace and going further than you would expect when the consequences of making certain mistakes at this time in history was death.

[6:51] He wanted to see how far he could go even if it meant risking his freedom and his soul.

[7:01] He is the German Rockefeller. He thought that he was blessed with a talent for money-making by God. And so he couldn't retire. He couldn't live a life of leisure because God told him to make as much money as possible.

[8:38] Fugger wrote the playbook for everyone who keeps score with money. A must for anyone interested in history or wealth creation. —Bryan Burrough Barbarians At The Gate

[9:33] Jacob was the first documented millionaire in history.

[10:43] His objective was neither comfort nor happiness. It was to stack up money until the end.

[12:18] Venice was the most commercially minded city on Earth at the time. I wonder what the most commercially minded city on Earth is today? I don't know the answer.

[13:31] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

[17:42] The spectacle of the Emperor begging for help startled Jacob. Any belief he may have had in the Emperor’s superhuman qualities could not have survived the fact that mere shopkeepers had denied credit to the supposedly most powerful figure in Europe.

[19:11] Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History WW1 series

[23:16] There was nothing pioneering or innovative about the loan. His competitors could have made it as easily as Jacob did. All Jacob did was put up his money when no one else had the guts. Such out of favor investments became a hallmark of his investing career.

[23:37] The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach (Founders #103)

[28:47] Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild by Amos Elon (Founders #197) and The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets by Niall Ferguson (Founders #198)

[30:44] He was a radical. He refused to believe that noble birth made someone better than anyone else. For him, intelligence, talent, and effort made the man.

[32:29] You write the best life story by living an interesting life.

[33:23] His greatest talent was an ability to borrow the money he needed to invest.

[36:00] Nothing gave him greater joy than the chores required to make him richer.

[38:12] I don’t like plan B. Plan B should be to make Plan A work. —Jeff Bezos

[38:57] Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford (Founders #247)

[41:04] In every age men have been dishonest and governments corrupt. The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. (Bonus episode between #169 and #170)

[43:47] Luther combined technology with an extremely strong worth ethic work.

[45:29] Jacob monitored every transaction.

[51:31] So this dude wanted to kill the rich and they put him on their currency.

[55:55] Jacob believed that businesses could more easily function with fewer, not more decision-makers.

[56:29] The Fugger family, 17 generations after Jacob lived, still enjoy income on land Jacob acquired centuries earlier.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 08, 2022
Steve Jobs's Heroes
00:30:51

On Steve Jobs

#5 Steve Jobs: The Biography

#19 Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

#76 Return To The Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and The Creation of Apple

#77 Steve Jobs & The NeXT Big Thing

#204 Inside Steve Jobs' Brain

#214 Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

#235 To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History

Bonus Episodes on Steve Jobs

Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success (Between #112 and #113)

Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs (Between #110 and #111)

On Jony Ive and Steve Jobs

#178 Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products

On Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs

#34 Creativity Inc: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration

On Steve Jobs and several other technology company founders

#157 The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

#208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World

STEVE JOBS'S INFLUENCES 

Edwin Land

#40 Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid

#132 The Instant Image: Edwin Land and The Polaroid Experience

#133 Land's Polaroid: A Company and The Man Who Invented It

#134 A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War

Bob Noyce and Andy Grove

#8 The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company

#159 Swimming Across

#166 The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley

Nolan Bushnell

#36 Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent

Akio Morita

#102 Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony

Walt Disney

#2 Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

#39 Walt Disney: An American Original

#158 Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World

J. Robert Oppenheimer

#215 The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb

Henry Ford

#9 I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford

#26 My Life and Work: The Autobiography of Henry Ford

#80 Today and Tomorrow: Special Edition of Ford's 1926 Classic

#118 My Forty Years With Ford

#190 The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip

David Packard and Bill Hewlett

#29 The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

Alexander Graham Bell

#138 Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell

Robert Friedland

#131 The Big Score: Robert Friedland and The Voisey's Bay Hustle

Larry Ellison (Steve’s best friend)

#124 Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle

#126 The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice

#127 The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison

Jun 02, 2022
#249 Steve Jobs In His Own Words
00:49:34

What I learned from reading I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words by George Beahm.

[1:05]

On Steve Jobs

#5 Steve Jobs: The Biography
#19 Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
#76 Return To The Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and The Creation of Apple
#77 Steve Jobs & The NeXT Big Thing
#204 Inside Steve Jobs' Brain
#214 Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
#235 To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History

Bonus Episodes on Steve Jobs

Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success (Between #112 and #113)
Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs (Between #110 and #111)

On Jony Ive and Steve Jobs

#178 Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products

On Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs

#34 Creativity Inc: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration

On Steve Jobs and several other technology company founders

#157 The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

#208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World

[3:13] We're not going to be the first to this party, but we're going to be the best.

[4:54] Company Focus: We do no market research. We don't hire consultants. We just want to make great products.

[5:06] The roots of Apple were to build computers for people, not for corporations. The world doesn't need another Dell or Compaq.

[5:52] Nearly all the founders I’ve read about have a handful of ideas/principles that are important to them and they just repeat and pound away at them forever.

[7:00] You can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don't put in the time or energy to get there.

[8:09] I think of Founders as a tool for working professionals. And what that tool does is it gets ideas from the history of entrepreneurship into your brain so then you can use them in your work. It just so happens that a podcast is a great way to achieve that goal.

[8:48] Tim Ferriss Podcast #596 with Ed Thorp

[8:50] A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Ed Thorp. (Founders 222)

[10:43] In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.

[12:05] The Essential Difference: The Lisa people wanted to do something great. And the Mac people want to do something insanely great. The difference shows.

[14:21] Sure, what we do has to make commercial sense, but it's never the starting point. We start with the product and the user experience.

[15:57] Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. (Founders #19)

[16:41] We had a passion to do this one simple thing.

[16:51] And that's really important because he's saying I wasn't trying to build the biggest company. I wasn't trying to build a trillion dollar company. It wasn't doing any of that. Those things happen later as a by-product of what I was actually focused on, which is just building the best computer that I wanted to use.

[17:14] In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz.  (Founders #208 )

[17:41] It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing. Picasso had a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

[20:29] Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.

[21:06]  A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman (Founders #95) “A very small percentage of the population produces the greatest proportion of the important ideas. There are some people if you shoot one idea into the brain, you will get half an idea out. There are other people who are beyond this point at which they produce two ideas for each idea sent in.”

[22:29] Edwin land episodes:

Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid (Founders #40)

The Instant Image: Edwin Land and The Polaroid Experience by Mark Olshaker. (Founders #132)

Land’s Polaroid: A Company and The Man Who Invented It by Peter C. Wensberg. (Founders #133)

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War by Ronald K. Fierstein. (Founders #134)

[25:01] Macintosh was basically this relatively small company in Cupertino, California, taking on the goliath, IBM, and saying "Wait a minute, your way is wrong. This is not the way we want computers to go. This is not the legacy we want to leave. This is not what we want our kids to be learning. This is wrong and we are going to show you the right way to do it and here it is and it is so much better.

[27:47] Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Productsby Leander Kahney. (
(Founders #178)

[29:00] Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics, and the Making of an Automobile Empire by Luca Dal Monte (Founders #98)

[34:39] On meeting his wife, Laurene: I was in the parking lot, with the key in the car, and I thought to myself: If this is my last night on earth, would I rather spend it at a business meeting or with this woman? I ran across the parking lot, asked her if she'd have dinner with me. She said yes, we walked into town, and we've been together ever since.

[37:26] It's not about pop culture, and it's not about fooling people, and it's not about convincing people that they want something they don't. We figure out what we want. And I think we're pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That's what we get paid to do.

[41:29] Constellation Software Inc. President's Letters by Mark Leonard. (Founders #246)

[42:30] Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by Akio Morita. (Founders #102)

[44:36] Victory in our industry is spelled survival.

[45:21] Once you get into the problem you see that it's complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That's where most people stop, and the solutions tend to work for a while. But the really great person will keep going, find the underlying problem, and come up with an elegant solution that works on every level.

[48:15] Churchill by Paul Johnson (Founders #225)

[48:25] I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jun 01, 2022
#248 Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller
01:50:37

What I learned from reading Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. 

[2:15]  Rockefeller trained himself to reveal as little as possible

[4:22] Once Rockefeller set his mind to something he brought awesome powers of concentration to bear.

[4:44] My whole life has been spent trying to teach people that intense concentration for hour after hour can bring out in people resources they didn’t know they had. —Edwin Land

[9:00] When playing checkers or chess, he showed exceptional caution, studying each move at length, working out every possible countermove in his head. "I'll move just as soon as I get it figured out," he told opponents who tried to rush him. "You don't think I'm playing to get beaten, do you?"

[9:20] To ensure that he won, he submitted to games only where he could dictate the rules. Despite his slow, ponderous style, once he had thoroughly mulled over his plan of action, he had the power of quick decision.

[14:49] When John was child, Bill would urge him to leap from his high chair into his waiting arms. One day he dropped his arms letting his astonished son crash to the floor. Remember, Bill lectured him, never trust anyone completely. Not even me.

[15:32] The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst by David Nasaw (Founders #145) He didn't care what people thought of him and despised society.

[16:13] Rockefeller analyzed work, broke it down into component parts, and figured out how to perform it most economically.

[18:49] He was a confirmed exponent of positive thinking.

[19:10] Rockefeller was the sort of stubborn person who only grew more determined with rejection.

[25:14] Rockefeller wasn't one to dawdle in an unprofitable concern. His career had few wasted steps, and he never vacillated when the moment ripened for advancement.

[26:20] He's constantly praising adversity in early life as giving him strength to deal with all the stuff he had to deal with later on his life.

[26:49] Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power by James McGrath Morris. (Founders #135) He was so industrious that he became a positive annoyance to others who felt less inclined to work.

[27:17] Your future hangs on every day that passes.

[36:13] If it is of critical importance to your business you have to do it yourself.

[36:42] In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman. (Founders #244)

[38:36] He would never experience a single year of loss.

[39:30] Two quotes from Charlie Munger:

The wise ones bet heavily when the world offers them that opportunity. They bet big when they have the odds. And the rest of the time, they don't. It's just that simple. Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. (Founders #90)

You should remember that good ideas are rare—when the odds are greatly in your favor, bet heavily. Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway's Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth With Commentary by David Clark (Founders #78)

[41:03] He's gonna to have a massive advantage over other people who only wanted to book short-term profits.

[42:01]  The Clarks were the first of many business partners to underrate the audacity of the quietly calculating Rockefeller, who bided his time as he figured out how to get rid of them.

[44:27] He's super frugal on one end of the spectrum. Extremely frugal! Not going to let his business waste a penny. But he's also —on the very other end of the spectrum— willing to spend and to borrow and to go big. I will borrow every single dollar the banks will give me. He is the weird combination of extreme frugality and extreme boldness.

[46:08]  Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday (Founders 31)  On that day his partners “woke up and saw for the first time that my mind had not been idle while they were talking so big and loud,” he would say later. They were shocked. They’d seen their empire dismantled and taken from them by the young man they had dismissed. Rockefeller had wanted it more.

[47:13] On that day his partners “woke up and saw for the first time that my mind had not been idle while they were talking so big and loud,” he would say later. They were shocked. They’d seen their empire dismantled and taken from them by the young man they had dismissed. Rockefeller had wanted it more.

[47:37] He would never again feel his advancement blocked by shortsighted, mediocre men.

[48:16] From this point forward, there would be no zigzags or squandered energy, only a single-minded focus on objectives that would make him both the wonder and terror of American business.

[48:38] Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller. (Founders #148) We devoted ourselves exclusively to the oil business and its products. That company never went into outside ventures, but kept to the enormous task of perfecting its own organization.

[55:02] He always kept plentiful cash reserves. He won many bidding contests simply because his war chest was deeper.

[55:46] Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers by Arrian, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius Rufus. (Founders #232)

[1:05:37] Twenty-nine-year-old John D. Rockefeller demanded that seventy four-year-old Commodore Vanderbilt, the emperor of the railroad world, come to him. This refusal to truckle, bend, or bow to others, this insistence on dealing with other people on his own terms, time, and turf, distinguished Rockefeller throughout his career.

[1:11:07] The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow. (Founders #139)

[1:14:16] This is the investment opportunity of a lifetime and they're running in the opposite direction.

[1:23:37] His master plan was to be implemented in a thousand secret, disguised, and indirect ways.

[1:26:37] I have ways of making money you know nothing about.

[1:30:59] You don't have any ambition to drive fast horses, do you?

[1:32:59] Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur by Francis Greenburger. (Founders #243)

[1:34:42] He was now living a fantasy of extravagant wealth and few people beyond the oil business had ever even heard of him.

[1:35:33] Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. (Founders #192)

[1:36:00] American high society in the 20th century would be loaded with descendants of those refiners who opted for stock.

[1:39:02]  Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics, and the Making of an Automobile Empire by Luca Dal Monte (Founders #98)

[1:39:30] Success comes from keeping the ears open and the mouth closed.

[1:40:22] Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things, fail because we lack concentration-the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?

[1:42:31] Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos by Paul Orfalea. (Founders #181)

[1:42:40] Part of the Standard Oil gospel was to train your subordinate to do your job. As Rockefeller instructed a recruit, "Has anyone given you the law of these offices? No? It is this: nobody does anything if he can get anybody else to do it. As soon as you can, get some one whom you can rely on, train him in the work, sit down, cock up your heels, and think out some way for the Standard Oil to make some money.” True to this policy, Rockefeller tried to extricate himself from the intricate web of administrative details and dedicate more of his time to broad policy decisions.

[1:49:50] He entered retirement just at the birth of the American automobile industry. The automobile would make John D. Rockefeller far richer in retirement than at work.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

May 28, 2022
#247 Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean
01:16:19

What I learned from reading Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford.

[1:14] The building of the railroad across the ocean was a colossal piece of work born of the same impulse that made individuals believe that pyramids could be raised cathedrals, erected and continents Tamed the highway

[1:31] All that remains of an error where men still lived, who believed that with enough will and energy and money that anything could be accomplished.

[2:13] Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr by Ron Chernow (Founders #16)

[2:35] Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America by Les Standiford. (Founders #73)

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (Founders #74)

Henry Clay Frick: The Life of the Perfect Capitalist by Quentin Skrabec Jr. (Founders #75)

[5:51] The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (Founders #62)

[6:24] Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #115) “This industry visible to our neighbors began to give us character and credit," Franklin noted. One of the town's prominent merchants told members of his club, "The industry of that Franklin is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed." Franklin became an apostle of being-and, just as important, of appearing to be-industrious. Even after he became successful, he made a show of personally carting the rolls of paper he bought in a, wheelbarrow down the street to his shop, rather than having a hired hand do it.

[8:54] Ogilvy on Advertising (Founders #82) Set yourself to becoming the best-informed person in the agency on the account to which you are assigned. If, for example, it is a gasoline account, read books on oil geology and the production of petroleum products. Read the trade journals in the field. Spend Saturday mornings in service stations, talking to motorists. Visit your client’s refineries and research laboratories. At the end of your first year, you will know more about the oil business than your boss, and be ready to succeed him.

[10:50] The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham. (Founders #227) Over the years, a number of very smart people have learned the hard way that a long string of impressive numbers multiplied by a single zero always equals zero. That is not an equation whose effects I would like to experience personally.

[13:20] Rockefeller did not believe in diversification. He said they had no outside interest. That it is an immense task building a successful company. It's silly to go out and diversify into other lines or to make other investments. Focus on your business!

[13:53] Their chief binding passion: The desire to make large sums of money.

[14:13] Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller. (Founders #148)

[19:44] Warren Buffett on MOATs: On a daily basis, the effects of our actions are imperceptible; cumulatively, though, their consequences are enormous. When our long-term competitive position improves as a result of these almost unnoticeable actions, we describe the phenomenon as "widening the moat." When short-term and long-term conflict, widening the moat must take precedence.

[20:06] The way I define moat: Why are you difficult to compete with?

[26:54] For the last 14 or 15 years I have devoted myself exclusively to my business.

[28:00] He had become a creator instead of an accumulator and he had found much more satisfaction in such an accomplishment.

[30:40] Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds. (Founders #194)

[35:54] You have to admire Julia Tuttle. She is relentlessly persistent.

[36:27] Flagler likes to keep his options open and react to new information.

[43:25] It was a time in history when men were tempted no longer to regard themselves as the mercy of the fates —but as masters of their environment.

[46:08] A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Ed Thorp. (Founders #222 and #93)

[46:29] Getting rich and staying rich are two separate skills.

[49:11] It is well-documented that Flagler planned his actions carefully.

[51:06] He is not at all interested in retiring and is in fact, choosing to run directly towards more difficulties.

[51:51] Decoded by Jay Z. (Founders #238) Every hustler knows the value of a feint. It keeps you one step ahead of whoever's listening in.

[52:57] During your attempt at doing something difficult you're going to have several points where all of the options in front of you would not be described as good options.

[57:47] You realize that you were before a man who has suffered and has never wept, who has undergone intense pain and has never sobbed, who has never bent under stress.

[58:12] The only excess I believe I have indulged in has been that of hard work.

[58:58]  Hard work, energy, and accomplishment. For Flagler it seemed to be all he knew and all he needed to know.

[1:07:16] A story about how not panicking can save your life.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

May 19, 2022
#246 Mark Leonard's Shareholder Letters
00:55:53

What I learned from reading Constellation Software Inc. President's Letters by Mark Leonard.

[1:10] Business lessons from Mark Leonard by Tren Griffin

[2:11] Newsletter: Liberty’s Highlights The Serendipity Engine: Investing & business, science & technology, and the arts.

[2:59] I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. I don’t like anyone saying I am an authority figure and you will do it this way. I can’t think of anything that annoys me more. I was stuck by the principal. I challenged teachers. I left home early. I had a bootleg radio license. I built a flamethrower. I did things that weren’t accepted by lots of people. That ability to choose what I think is right is something I prize highly.

[4:49] Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It (Founders #110) and   The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (Founders #94)

[4:53] Teledyne grows bigger by dividing businesses into smaller parts wherever possible. Singleton claims that this keeps his managers creative and not wasteful.

[5:12] Our preference is to acquire businesses in their entirety and to own them forever.

[8:57]  The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King (Founders #37)

[9:18] There are times when certain cards sit unclaimed in the common pile, when certain properties become available that will never be available again. A good businessman feels these moments like a fall in the barometric pressure. A great businessman is dumb enough to act on them even when he cannot afford to.

[12:20] Customer relationships that endure for more than two decades are valuable.

[13:08] The longer we have owned a small software business, the larger and better it has become.

[15:32] Jeff Bezos’s Shareholder Letters. All of them! (Founders #71)

[23:22] We didn't get to that point with central edicts or grand plans. We just had a hunch that our internal ventures could be better managed, and started measuring them. The people involved in the Initiatives generated the data, and with measurement came adjustment and adaptation. It took 6 years, but we have fundamentally changed the mental models of a generation of our managers and employees.

[23:56]  A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market (Founders #93 and #222)

[28:06] Our business units rarely get large.

[28:26] This suggests that the size and performance of our business units are almost totally unrelated. I believe that these business units are small for a reason...that the advantages of being agile and tight far outweigh economies of scale. I’m not a proponent of handling our “complexity problem” by creating a bunch of 400 employee business units to replace our 40 employee units. I’m looking for ways of “achieving scale” elsewhere.

[29:06] Debt is cheap right now, so it is pretty tempting to use it. Unfortunately, it has a nasty habit of going away when you need it most.

[30:42] The Essays of Warren Buffett (Founders #227)

[32:51] Book recommendation from Mark: Thinking Fast and Slow

[34:53] I love what I'm doing and don't want to stop unless my health deteriorates or the board figures it's time for me to go.

[36:42] My personal preference is to instead focus on keeping our business units small, and the majority of the decision making down at the business level. Partly this is a function of my experience with small high performance teams when I was a venture capitalist, and partly it is a function of seeing that most vertical markets have several viable competitors who exhibit little correlation between their profitability and relative scale. (TRUST IN SMALL GROUPS OF SMART PEOPLE)

[37:35] There are a number of implications if you share my view: We should

a) regularly divide our largest business units into smaller, more focused business units unless there is an overwhelmingly obvious reason to keep them whole,

b) operate the majority of the businesses that we acquire as separate units rather than merge them with existing CSI businesses, and

c) drive down cost at the head office and Operating Group level.

[38:11] I want you to bear with me because I really do think this is a very clear description of what he's building, the advantages the strategy provides, and why he's going to be hard to compete with over the longterm.

[40:13] We have 199 business units. We can run a test in 5, 10, 6, 24, whatever it is —we find what works and we can spread it throughout the entire company and spreading best business practices makes those businesses better. The longer it goes, the more businesses we have, the stronger they get over the time. And it's nice you have a checkbook and a phone but I'm way too far ahead— you'll never catch me is essentially what he's saying.

[42:00] Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos (Founders #181)

[43:19] Book recommendation from Mark: The Evolution of Cooperation

[44:52] You Don't Know Jack... or Jerry by Robert O. Babcock.

Jack Henry and Jerry Hall launched a software company in theh back of a small engine repair shop. Thirty years later, Jack Henry and Associates, Inc., is a thriving operation with over 3,700 employees in close to 50 locations around the United States.

[47:22] Book Recommendations from Mark: One Man's Medicine: An Autobiography of Professor Archie Cochrane and Effectiveness and Efficiency, Random Reflections on Health Services by Archie Cochrane

The first book is a moving, idiosyncratic and dryly amusing autobiography of a brilliant and erudite outsider that makes you wish you’d known the man firsthand.

The second is a stinging critique of a well-meaning but entrenched medical establishment, for their ineffective and dangerous medical practices.

[48:23] We spend time on non-randomized observational studies trying to spot business practices that actually add value rather than just adding overhead.

[48:34] My favorite part of Mark’s letters

[51:09] A huge body of academic research confirms that complexity and coordination effort increases at a much faster rate than head count in a growing organization.

[51:50] The business manager needs to be asked why employees and customers wouldn't be better served by splitting that business into smaller units. Our favorite outcome in this sort of situation is that the original business manager runs a large piece of the original business and spins off a new business unit run by one of his or her proteges.

[53:39] Something wonderful happens when you spin off a new business unit.

[54:16] When you get big you lose entrepreneurship.

[54:43] If I were advising my 35 or 40-year-old self on where to go, I would tell him to stay put. Become a master Craftsman in the art of managing your VMS business. It is the most satisfying job in Constellation and will generate more than enough wealth for you to live very comfortably and provide for your family.

[55:30] You can't be normal and expect abnormal results.

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

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May 13, 2022
#245 Rick Rubin: In the Studio
01:21:24

What I learned from reading Rick Rubin: In the Studio by Jake Brown.

Rick Rubin on Lex Fridman Podcast #275

Rick Rubin on The Peter Attia Drive Podcast #57

Shangri-La Documentary

Rick’s podcast Broken Record

[1:39] Decoded by Jay Z. (Founders #238)

[3:19] Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

[3:31] His goal is to record music in its most basic and purest form. No extra bells and whistles. All wheat, no chaff.

[5:42] Dr. Land was saying: “I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me before I had ever built one.” And Steve said: “Yes, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.” He said if I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say now what do you think?” Both of them had this ability to not invent products, but discover products. Both of them said these products have always existed — it’s just that no one has ever seen them before. We were the ones who discovered them. The Polaroid camera always existed and the Macintosh always existed — it’s a matter of discovery.

[7:31] My goal is to just get out of the way and let the people I'm working with be the best versions of themselves.

[7:50] Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders 1965-2018 by Warren Buffett (Founders #88)

[11:26] In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman. (Founders #244)

[14:13] “Designing a product is keeping 5,000 things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways.” —Steve Jobs

[16:00] Less is more but you have to do more to get to less.

[16:25] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson and reading A History of Great Inventions by James Dyson. (Founders #200)

[17:56] Rubin's most valuable quality is his own confidence.

[20:57]  If we're going to do this, let's aim for greatness. You have to believe what you were doing is the most important thing in the world.

[21:29] Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe. (Founders #221) “Everybody engaged in complicated work needs colleagues. Just the discipline of having to put your thoughts in order with somebody else is a very useful thing.”

[24:24] On being a reducer —not a producer: Often in the studio there will be the idea to add layers to make it seem bigger. Sometimes the more things you add, the smaller it gets. A lot of it is counterintuitive. You need to discover it in practice.

[27:10] I want to play loud. I want to be heard. And I want all to know I'm not one of the herd.

[36:16] There were no stars in rap music. It was really just a work of passion. Everyone who was doing it was doing it because they loved it, not because anyone thought it was a career.

[38:12] Krush Groove YouTube link

[38:47] Russell really cared about finding new ways to expose their music to a bigger audience.

[39:03] Bloomberg by Michael Bloomberg.  (Founders #228)

[44:19] A handmade product at scale.

[48:23] Rap music as recorded work was just eight years old.

[50:06] Q: Do you have an engine of constant dissatisfaction. Self criticism that I could have done better? A: No. I’m pleased with the work that we did. Excited to keep working. It’s fun. I don’t know what else I’d do with myself. I like making things, it’s fun. I feel like it’s my reason to be on the planet so I just keep doing it. If it could be better I would have kept working on it. If it could be better it’s not done. I’ve done everything I can to make it the best it can be. I can’t do more than that so there is nothing to be critical of. It is almost like a diary entry. Everything we make is a reflection in a moment in time. Could be a day, could be a year.

[52:54] These things that we don't understand and cannot explain happen regularly.

[58:33] To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.

[58:58] He's living in four different centuries at once.

[1:01:02] I believe in you so much, I'm going to make you believe in you.

[1:03:07] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140)  Gates and Allen were convinced the computer industry was about to reach critical mass, and when it exploded it would usher in a technological revolution of astounding magnitude. They were on the threshold of one of those moments when history held its breath... and jumped, as it had done with the development of the car and the airplane. They could either lead the revolution or be swept along by it.

[1:05:35] The newest sounds have a tendency to sound old when the next new sound comes along. But a grand piano sounded great 50 years ago and will sound great 50 years from now. I try to make records that have a timeless quality.

[1:13:58] Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson. (Founders #240)

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

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May 08, 2022
#244 In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules
01:05:04

What I learned from reading In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman.

[2:03] This is an absorbing case study on how a family business came to be at the center of its own cheerful cult.

[2:42] Aliens, Jedi, & Cults: A Mental Model for Potential

[5:05] Stripe gave me a mental model for potential. An alien founder assembles a group of Jedi to start a cult and go on a mission together.

[5:28] The developers raving about Stripe formed the cult.

[6:37] If you are searching for a project with potential, watch out for the alien founder, Jedi team, and cult following of people on a messianic mission.

[7:58] A few years ago I started notice that people were getting Tesla tattoos. It is very hard to ever short something where people are tattooing the brand on their body.   — Josh Wolfe

[8:38] Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys  (Founders #188) Word of mouth is the most effective advertising of all. I have been known to say that there's no better business to run than a cult. Trader Joe's became a cult of the overeducated and underpaid, partly because we deliberately tried to make it a cult once we got a handle on what we were actually doing, and partly because we kept the implicit promises with our clientele.

[9:12] List of David Ogilvy podcasts:

Ogilvy on Advertising (Founders #82)

Confessions of an Advertising Man (Founders #89)

The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising(Founders #169)

The Unpublished David Ogilvy (Founders #189)

[9:17] Word of mouth is the most effective advertising of all. In and Out has that, Tesla has that, Stripe has that, Bitcoin has that, Trader Joe's has that, Apple has that.

[10:35] Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue and Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (Founders #31) The best startups might be considered slightly less extreme kinds of cults. The biggest difference is that cults tend to be fanatically wrong about something important. People at a successful startup are fanatically right about something those outside it have missed.

[11:33] In and Out was fanatically right about something that companies like McDonald’s, Wendy's and others, missed.

[11:43] The most important sentence in the book: "Keep it real simple. Do one thing and do it the best you can.”

[12:55] The family owned, fiercely independent chain has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in 1948.

[14:53] It is known as the anti-chain with the cult-like mystique. The anti-chain is a perfect way to describe In and Out’s approach to building their business.

[19:48] Harry's drive and tenacity were propelled by the uncertainty of watching his parents labor to provide for his family. Harry grew into a disciplined fellow with a strong sense of responsibility.

[27:50] The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Founders #179)

[28:15] Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator (Founders #107)

[28:55] I have always said that competition just makes you stronger. You shouldn't be afraid of the competition. They make you stay on top of your game. They keep you on your toes.

[29:23] You don't ever cut corners when it comes to the quality of your product.

[30:23] There is no cult-like following for shitty products.

[33:21] This dude is obsessed with simplicity.

[33:44] Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success Never underestimate the degree to which people crave clarity and respond positively to it.

[36:26]  If he was alive today and you could ask him for advice I think he would just say do it yourself.

[37:18] This is an important distinction —and I think also how you get to a cult-like following—he's not interesting in being the biggest, he's interested in being the best.

[38:34] If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it—every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life.

[39:47] He refused to sacrifice quality for the sake of profits.

[40:05] From the start, In-N-Out ran a customer-driven shop.

[41:00] Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans (Founders #216)

[44:07] He believed in paying for quality and that included wages.

[44:31] Why would you skimp on the level of quality people you work with? That's insane to me — it just makes no sense at all.

[44:48] Les Schwab Pride In Performance: Keep It Going!

[45:42]  Embrace hard work, ignore fads, identify what's important to you, and repeat it for decades.

[46:39] The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon(Founders #237)

[50:00] Catering to the car-reliant customer, Harry focused on putting his drive-throughs right next to off-ramps of the fast-expanding freeway system. The growing Southern California freeway network became a significant factor in In-N-Out's own rising popularity.

[50:45] He's got a handful of really simple principles he refuses to deviate from. He focuses on quality and does that for decade after decade, He's giving us somewhat of a blueprint to build a cult-like following. People respond to this because you've put their interest ahead of your own.

[51:56] Nuts!: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success(Founders #56)

[56:50] You don't build a cult following by trying to wring more money out of cheaper products.

[58:19] I'm focused on the customer. I'm focused on quality. My competitors are focused on a spreadsheet.

[59:56] Limit the number of details to perfect and make every detail perfect. That is exactly what Harry Snyder did.

[1:00:41] From his perspective, In-N-Out was simply a different creature than its competitors.

[1:01:07] He was very much about problem solving before it became a problem.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

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May 03, 2022
#243 Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur
01:16:25

What I learned from reading Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur by Francis Greenburger.

[1:26]  I can be extremely stubborn when I have a hunch about something.

[3:31] I knew all too well that markets can turn on a dime.

[5:40] Money that had once flowed freely dried up over night.

[6:41] I always listened to other people's ideas because that is how you happen upon the good ones.

[6:46] Logic is no match for bureaucracy.

[7:33] This ruthless industry has created far more bankruptcies than it has billionaires. Saying no is the most important judgment that you make.

[9:00] Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey (Founders #231)

[9:09] Sometimes the best lessons that you learn in life are from what you discover in the weaknesses of otherwise very good people.

[15:54] My father was terrible with money. His knack of mismanaging it, losing it, or not making it in the first place was an incredible source of stress within our family.

[19:09] The constant question mark that was my parents's checkbook balance made a lasting impression.

[24:31] His pride in my abilities formed the basis of the self-confidence that allowed me to start businesses, sell books, make crazy friends, and love women at an age when most others were busy with their homework.

[29:40]  The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King (Founders #37)

[30:12] I see opportunity where others saw nothing.

[31:34] He doesn't dilly-dally. This guy moves fast. It's not like I proved it once, let me try two or three times. He is like it worked once, it's gotta work over and over again, and he immediately starts to scale it.

[37:40] Don’t interrupt the compounding:  I was skating on razor thin margins that a busted toilet could threaten. But I prefer to remain on the edge as I kept my buildings running rather than sell any of them before they grew to the much higher value that I had a hunch they would one day achieve.

[40:45] The idea that builds his empire: By co-oping I would be dealing with tens of thousands of dollars in sales, rather than hundreds of dollars in rents.

[41:58] Once something works don't dilly dally. Go as fast as you possibly can.

[43:08] Lots of folks thought what I was doing was insane.

[43:17] I knew something that the market had not yet fully embraced.

[47:06] My advice to those with expanding businesses is that they must first make a decision about how they want to allocate their time and structure their business so that the balance reflects that.

[49:33] Children require attention and involvement. This takes you out of your self orientation and makes you invest in another person who can only pay you in one currency: Love.

[50:09]  If anyone had asked me in 1990 what the chances of my business survival was I would have said 1 in 100. I still consider it a miracle that we didn't go bankrupt.

[53:12] The main lesson is never delay discomfort. Waiting or ignoring a problem never solves it. Just run towards it.

[55:36] Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Founders #30)

[56:27] Every parent’s worst nightmare.

[1:06:25] Disaster usually rises when short-term profit takes precedence over lasting value creation.

[1:08:21] I don't pick investments. I pick jockeys, not horses.

[1:10:31] Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and The Secret Palace of Science That Changed The Course of World War II (Founders #143)

[1:10:52] The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age (Founders #103)

[1:13:52]  Real security comes from adaptability.

[1:13:59]  Independent thinking in its simplest forms means not assuming that the status quo was the best answer, the right answer, or the most effective answer.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Apr 25, 2022
#242 Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life
01:29:13

What I learned from reading Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher.

[2:49] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son.

[5:33] I had spent a lifetime with a frustrated, and often unemployed man, who hated anybody who was successful.

[7:01] And he said, “Yeah, but there can only be one genius in the family. And since I'm already that, what chance do you have? “What kind of father says something like that to his son?

[8:21] He is incredibly talented and incredibly pretentious. He doesn't know what he's doing half the time and the other half of the time he's brilliant.

[9:46] There is no speed limit. The standard pace is for chumps.

[10:04] Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power (Founders #135)

[11:54]  George Lucas: A Life (Founders #35)

[12:45] Steven Spielberg: A Biography (Founders #209)

[14:10] Coppola displayed a remarkable ability to do whatever was necessary to get the job done.

[16:30] I had an overwhelming urge to make films.

[19:11] I deliberately worked all night so when he'd arrive in the morning he would see me slumped over the editing machine.

[20:36] Say yes first, learn later.

[21:00] My peculiar approach to cinema is I like to learn by not knowing how the hell to do it. I’m forced to discover how to do it.

[23:10] His willingness to seize the moment was one of the main characteristics separating him from his other fellow students and aspiring filmmakers.

[30:44] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley (Founders #233)

[37:43] You have to control the money or you don't have control.

[38:53] At his absolute lowest point comes his greatest opportunity.

[41:59] It only takes a couple of these gigantic flops to permanently erase any positive financial outcome that you had previously.

[44:55] Either control your emotions or other people are going to control you.

[47:35]  In many cases, the people we study are dead. We can't talk to them, but they can still counsel us through their life stories.

[50:00] Excellence took time and patience.

[51:56] Even in the vortex of the storm some outstanding work was being accomplished. Something strong and powerful was being forged in struggle.

[52:46] Vito Corleone had shown a rough-hewn old-world wisdom, the kind gained through experience rather than from a textbook.

[56:29] A great story about loyalty and friendship. If you have a friend like this, hold onto them.

[1:03:32] Martin Sheen on working for Coppola: I have a lot of mixed feelings about Francis. I'm very fond of him personally. The thing I love about him most is that he never, like a good general, asks you to do anything he wouldn't do. He was right there with us, lived there in shit and mud up to his ass, suffered the same diseases, ate the same food. I don't think he realizes how tough he is to work for. God, is he tough. But I will sail with that son of a bitch anytime.

[1:04:58] I always had a rule. If I was going away for more than 10 days I’d take my kids out of school.

[1:08:31] If you don't have this fundamental alignment between who you are and the work you do —and how you do that work —there's going to be some level of misery unhappiness if you don't resolve that conflict.

[1:12:22] Half the people thought it was a masterpiece and half the people thought it was a piece of shit.

[1:23:01] On the death of his son: I realized that no matter what happened, I had lost. No matter what happened, it would always be incomplete.

[1:25:38] I want to be free. I don't want producers around me telling me what to do. The real dream of my life is a place where people can live in peace and create what they want.

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Apr 21, 2022
#241 The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies
01:27:13

What I learned from reading Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone.

[1:07] The Wright Brothers (Founders #239)

[3:47] Avoid any activity that distracts you from improving the quality of your product and the quality of your business.

[5:58] Completely self-taught, he made spectacular intellectual leaps to solve a series of intractable problems that had alluded some of history's most brilliant men.

[9:46] The Wright-Curtiss feud was at its core a study of the unique strengths and flaws of personality that define a clash of brilliant minds. Neither Glenn Curtiss nor Wilbur Wright ever came to understand his own limits, that luminescent intelligence in one area of human endeavor does not preclude gross incompetence in another. And because genius often requires arrogance, both men continuously repeated their blunders.

[13:38] P.T. Barnum: An American Life (Founders #137)

[13:49] John Moisant had three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador.

[17:44] Master of Precision: Henry Leland (Founders#128)

[19:32] Sacrifices must be made.

[20:18] The science of flight has attracted the greatest minds in history—Aristotle, Archimedes, Leonardo, and Newton, —but achieving the goal stumped all of them.

[23:19] If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic-being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago. —Elon Musk

[23:57] If the process was to move forward with any efficiency, experimenters would need some means to separate what seemed to work from what seemed not to–data and results would have to be shared. The man who most appreciated that need was someone who, while not producing a single design that resulted in flight, was arguably the most important person to participate in its gestation.

[28:46] He found his first breakthrough by doing the exact opposite of his competitor.

[30:08] The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (Founders #145)

[39:04] His passion was speed. He had tremendous endurance, he was never a quitter, and he would do anything to win.

[42:25] My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins (Founders #170)

[43:46] No lead is insurmountable if you stop running before you've reached the finish line.

[47:03] Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell (Founders #138)

[47:05] The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism (Founders #142)

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt (Founders #156)

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (Founders #175)

[47:40] Never underestimate your opponent. It’s all downside, no upside. Churchill (Founders #225)

[57:05] He saw competition as a destructive, inefficient force and favored large-scale combination as the cure. Once, when the manager of the Moet and Chandon wine company complained about industry problems, J.P. suggested he buy up the entire champagne country. — The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance (Founders #139)

[1:00:05] Find people who are great at selling your product and hire them.

[1:06:55] He was driven by an uncontrollable desire for adventure and wealth, and almost an adolescent need to be seen as a swashbuckling hero.

[1:07:45] John was left desperate for an outlet for his obsessive audacity.

[1:13:57] The McCormick's were used to making terms, not acquiescing to them.

[1:19:15] Wilbur never seemed to grasp that his crusade to destroy his nemesis could destroy him.

[1:20:00] I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. —Steve Jobs

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Apr 14, 2022
#240 Mozart: A Life
00:45:53

What I learned from reading Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson.

[1:52] Churchill by Paul Johnson (Founders #225)

[2:15] A life of constant hard work, lived at the highest possible level of creative concentration.

[3:05] Mozart worked relentlessly.

[3:56] He started earlier than anyone else and was still composing on his deathbed.

[5:34] He soon came to the conclusion that he had fathered a genius— and being a highly religious man, that he was responsible for a gift of God to music.

[7:05] I think the idea here is if you truly believe that what you're doing is good for the world— and you approach it with the same kind of religious zeal— you have a massive advantage over a competitor that doesn't have the same missionary mindset.

[8:09] My Turn: A Life of Total Football by Johan Cruyff (Founders #218)

[8:42] Leading By Design: The Ikea Story (Founders #104)

[9:09] He loved humor, and laughter was never far away in Mozart's life, together with beauty—and the unrelenting industry needed to produce it.

[13:36] Decoded by Jay Z (Founders #238)

[15:36] Russ ON: Delusional Self-Confidence & How To Start Manifesting Your Dream Life and Steve Stoute & Russ Explain Why Every Creator Should Consider Themselves A Business

[19:46] You don't tell Babe Ruth how to hold a bat.

[20:43] I will take your demand and I'll use it as a constraint to increase my creativity.

[21:27] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King (Founders #37)

[22:37] You need to tell potential customers what work and effort goes into the product that you produce because they will have a deeper appreciation for what you do.

[24:52] Inside Steve’s Brain (Founders #204)

[25:06] He's made and remade Apple in his own image. Apple is Steve Jobs with 10,000 lives.

[25:30] Mozart wanted to talk to A players.

[26:32] The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[26:57] You should only work in industries where— for the important companies of that industry —the founders are still in charge at those companies.

[31:13] As a child and teenager Mozart was the most hardworking and productive composer in musical history.

[34:17] Find something that is being done on a basic level and then realize its potential by re-imagining it.

[36:13] It was all hard, intense application of huge knowledge and experience, sometimes illuminated by flashes of pure genius.

[36:40] Imagine being so good at what you do that the ruler of your country has to pass a law to get people to stop clapping.

[40:15] It is no use asking what if Mozart had had an ordinary, normal father. Mozart without his father is inconceivable, and there is no point in considering it. Just as Mozart himself was a unique phenomenon, so Leopold was a unique father, and the two created each other.

[41:00] There's a sense in which Mozart's entire life is a gigantic improvisation.

[41:21] From the age of twenty Mozart never went a month without producing something immortal-something not merely good, but which the musical repertoire would be really impoverished without.

[43:03] Designing a product is keeping 5,000 things in your brain, and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. —Steve Jobs

[43:39] Mozart's beauty prevents one from grasping his power.

[43:39] Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man (Founders #150) and Sam Walton: Made In America (Founders #234)

[45:31] Never despair!

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Apr 07, 2022
Steve Jobs and His Heroes
00:30:24

On Steve Jobs

#5 Steve Jobs: The Biography

#19 Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

#76 Return To The Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and The Creation of Apple

#77 Steve Jobs & The NeXT Big Thing

#204 Inside Steve Jobs' Brain

#214 Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

#235 To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History

Bonus Episodes on Steve Jobs

Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success (Between #112 and #113)

Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs (Between #110 and #111)

On Jony Ive and Steve Jobs

#178 Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products

On Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs

#34 Creativity Inc: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration

On Steve Jobs and several other technology company founders

#157 The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

#208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World

STEVE JOBS'S INFLUENCES 

Edwin Land

#40 Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land and Instant: The Story of Polaroid

#132 The Instant Image: Edwin Land and The Polaroid Experience

#133 Land's Polaroid: A Company and The Man Who Invented It

#134 A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War

Bob Noyce and Andy Grove

#8 The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company

#159 Swimming Across

#166 The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley

Nolan Bushnell

#36 Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent

Akio Morita

#102 Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony

Walt Disney

#2 Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

#39 Walt Disney: An American Original

#158 Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World

J. Robert Oppenheimer

#215 The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb

Henry Ford

#9 I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford

#26 My Life and Work: The Autobiography of Henry Ford

#80 Today and Tomorrow: Special Edition of Ford's 1926 Classic

#118 My Forty Years With Ford

#190 The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip

David Packard and Bill Hewlett

#29 The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

Alexander Graham Bell

#138 Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell

Robert Friedland

#131 The Big Score: Robert Friedland and The Voisey's Bay Hustle

Larry Ellison (Steve’s best friend)

#124 Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle

#126 The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice

#127 The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison

Apr 01, 2022
#239 The Wright Brothers
01:33:18

What I learned from rereading The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

[3:40] Relentlessly Resourceful by Paul Graham

[4:11] If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I'd tape to the mirror. "Make something people want" is the destination, but "Be relentlessly resourceful" is how you get there.

[5:35] Everybody engaged in complicated work needs colleagues. Just the discipline of having to put your thoughts in order with somebody else is a very useful thing. —Charlie Munger

[6:44] No bird soars in a calm.

[10:30] Neither ever chose to be anything other than himself.

[11:36] Wilbur was a little bothered by what others might be thinking or saying.

[11:46] What the two had in common above all was a unity of purpose and unyielding determination.

[15:09] Every mind should be true to itself —should think, investigate and conclude for itself.

[17:53] My Life in Advertising (Founders #170)

[19:33] Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace (Founders #174)

[19:39] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire (Founders #140)

[23:56] I wish to avail myself of all that is already known.

[30:32] Like the inspiring lectures of a great professor, the book had opened his eyes and started him thinking in ways he never had.

[34:29] In no way did any of this discourage or deter Wilbur and Orville Wright, any more than the fact that they had had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own. Or the entirely real possibility that at some point, like Otto Lilienthal, they could be killed.

[36:07] When once this idea has invaded the brain it possesses it exclusively.

[38:23] I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help. I called up Bill Hewlett when I was 12 years old. He answered the phone himself. I told him I wanted to build a frequency counter. I asked if he had any spare parts I could have. He laughed. He gave me the parts. And he gave me a summer job at HP working on the assembly line putting together frequency counters. I have never found anyone who said no, or hung up the phone. I just ask. Most people never pick up the phone and call. And that is what separates the people who do things, versus the people who just dream about them. You have to act. —Steve Jobs

[41:47] You wanted to start a company. You knew that it was going to be hard. What are you complaining for?

[42:17] Jay Z: Decoded (Founders #238)

[42:56] They had their whole heart and soul in what they were doing.

[46:28] You should follow your energy.

[53:49] The Wright brothers have blinders on mentality. They don't care what other people say. They just say I'm working at this. I don't care what other people think.

[54:16] The brothers proceeded entirely on their own and in their own way.

[58:21] This is the blueprint they are using: Test. Iterate. Test. Iterate. Work long hours. Concentrate and ignore the naysayers.

[1:00:31] Wilbur was always ready to jump into an argument with both sleeves rolled up. He believed in a good scrap. He believed it brought out new ways of looking at things and helped round off corners.

[1:00:57] Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire (Founders #180)

[1:02:26] Pour gasoline on promising sparks.

[1:04:14] It is very bad policy to ask one flying machine man, about the experiments of another, because every flying machine man thinks that his method is the correct one.

[1:08:46] Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Founders #210)

[1:10:26] They were always thinking of the next thing to do. They didn't waste much time worrying about the past.

[1:11:05] Look around, just about any person or entity achieving at a high level has the same focus. The morning after Tiger Woods rallied to beat Phil Mickelson at the Ford Championship in 2005, he was in the gym by 6:30 to work out. No lights. No cameras. No glitz or glamour. Uncompromised. — Driven From Within (Founders #213)

[1:12:56] They would have to learn to accommodate themselves to the circumstances.

[1:20:42] The best dividends on labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power.

[1:27:37] He went his way always in his own way.

[1:31:45] A man who works for the immediate present and its immediate rewards is nothing but a fool.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

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“I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 29, 2022
#238 Jay Z: Decoded
01:58:14

What I learned from reading Decoded by Jay Z. 

[1:39] I would practice from the time I woke in the morning until I went to sleep

[2:10] Even back then I though I was the best.

[2:57] Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography  (Founders #219)

[4:32] Belief becomes before ability.

[5:06] Michael Jordan: The Life (Founders #212)

[5:46] The public praises people for what they practice in private.

[7:28]  Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers.

[7:50] Sam Walton: Made In America  (Founders #234)

[9:50] He was disappointed in the world, so he built one of his own — from Steven Spielberg: A Biography (Founders #209)

[12:47] The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[13:35] I'm not gonna say that I thought I could get rich from rap, but I could clearly see that it was gonna get bigger before it went away. Way bigger.

[21:10] Over 20 years into his career and dude ain’t changed. He’s got his own vibe. You gotta love him for that. (Rick Rubin)

[21:41] Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #200)

[25:27] I believe you can speak things into existence.

[27:20] Picking the right market is essential.

[29:29] All companies that go out of business do so for the same reason – they run out of money. —Don Valentine 

[29:42] There are two things in business that matter, and you can learn this in two minutes- you don’t have to go to business school for two years: high gross margins and cash flow. The other financial metrics you can forget. —Don Valentine 

[31:54] I went on the road with Big Daddy Kane for a while. I got an invaluable education watching him perform.

[33:12] Everything I do I learned from the guys who came before me. —Kobe

[34:15] I truly hate having discussions about who would win one on one or fans saying you’d beat Michael. I feel like Yo (puts his hands up like stop. Chill.) What you get from me is from him. I don’t get 5 championships without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.

[34:50] Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Founders #214)

[37:20] This is a classic piece of OG advice. It's amazing how few people actually stick to it.

[38:04] Nuts!: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success(Founders #56)

[39:04] The key to staying on top of things is to treat everything like it's your first project.

[41:10] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley (Founders #233)

[44:46] We (Jay Z, Bono, Quincy Jones) ended up trading stories about the pressure we felt even at this point in our lives.

[45:22] Competition pushes you to become your best self. Jordan said the same thing about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

[46:43] If you got the heart and the brains you can move up quickly. There's no way to quantify all of this on a spreadsheet, but it's the dream of being the exception.

[52:26] He (Russell Simmons) changed the business style of a whole generation. The whole vibe of startup companies in Silicon Valley with 25 year old CEOs wearing shell toes is Russell's Def Jam style filtered through different industries.

[54:17] Jay Z’s approach is I'm going to find the smartest people that that know more than I do, and I'm gonna learn everything I can from them.

[54:49] He (Russell Simmons) knew that the key to success was believing in the quality of your own product enough to make people do business with you on your terms. He knew that great product was the ultimate advantage in competition.

[55:08] In the end it came down to having a great product and the hustle to move it.

[56:37] Learn how to build and sell and you will be unstoppable. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness (Founders #191)

[58:30] We gave those brands a narrative which is one of the reasons anyone buys anything. To own not just a product, but to become part of a story.

[59:30] The best thing for me to do is to ignore and outperform.

[1:01:16] Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. (Founders #90)

[1:06:01] Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway's Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth With Commentary  (Founders #78)

[1:08:42] Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products(Founders #178)

[1:11:46] Long term success is the ultimate goal.

[1:12:58] Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love - Bill Gurley

[1:15:11] I have always used visualization the way athletes do, to conjure reality.

[1:18:14] The thing that distinguished Jordan wasn't just his talent, but his discipline, his laser-like commitment to excellence.

[1:19:42] The gift that Jordan had wasn't just that he was willing to do the work, but he loved doing it because he could feel himself getting stronger and ready for anything. That is the kind of consistency that you can get only by adding dead serious discipline of whatever talent you have.

[1:21:37] when you step outside of school and you have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I've never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it to my rhymes. My mind is always jumping around restless, making connections, mixing, and matching ideas rather than marching in a straight line,

[1:27:41] Samuel Bronfman: The Life and Times of Seagram’s Mr. Sam (Founders #116)

[1:34:15] The real bullshit is when you act like you don't have contradictions inside you. That you're so dull and unimaginative that your mind never changes or wanders into strange, unexpected places.

[1:36:25] There are extreme levels of drive and pain tolerance in the history of entrepreneurship.

[1:38:45] Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business

[1:42:24]  I love sharp people. Nothing makes me like someone more than intelligence.

[1:44:17] They call it the game, but it's not. You can want success all you want but to get it you can't falter. You can't slip. You can't sleep— one eye open for real and forever.

[1:51:49] The thought that this cannot be life is one that all of us have felt at some point or another. When a bad decision and bad luck and bad situations feel like too much to bear those times. When we think this, this cannot be my story, but facing up to that kind of feeling can be a powerful motivation to change.

[1:54:18] Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 23, 2022
#237 The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon
01:10:35

What I learned from reading The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon by John Paul Rathbone.

[2:02] Beyond Possible: One Man, Fourteen Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime (Founders #236)

[3:22] This is a cautionary tale.

[6:18] One of the main lessons of the book is just how fast things can change.

[6:25] The History of Cuba in 50 Events

[10:14] Lobo walked with a limp due to a murder attempt 14 years before that had blown a four inch chunk out of his skull.

[12:29] One of the most human of all desires is to perpetuate what you have created.

[12:55] Lobo thinks he has leverage when he really doesn’t.

[18:39] He dies in poverty. Imagine having $5 billion and then at the end of your life having to rely on an allowance from your adult daughters.

[20:30] I think about what Charlie Munger says: Don't try to be really smart. Just try to be consistently not dumb over a long period of time.

[20:58] Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams (Founders #146)

[22:59] Chico, I was born naked. I will probably die naked. And some of the happiest moments of my life happened when I was naked.

[29:01] From an early age it was apparent that Lobo sought not only wealth but glory too.

[30:21] He was an individualist who did not spare himself any sacrifice to attain his objectives.

[31:26] The clearest path to wealth is building a business that benefits somebody else's life. Make a product or service that makes somebody else's life better. Do that for a long period of time and keep improving it.

[33:45] His father told him I would much rather you make your mistakes now than later when I may not be around to pick up your pieces.

[38:16] It turns out that almost being executed makes you impatient for large success.

[40:32] If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it. —Warren Buffett from The Essays of Warren Buffett (Founders #227)

[45:09] Think about the type of funeral you want. There is a story about a person who died. The minister said it is now time to say something nice about the deceased. After long time a person came up and said, “His brother was worse.” That is not the kind of funeral you want. —Charlie Munger

[50:34] Alfred Nobel: A Biography (Founders #163)

[52:30] The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King(Founders #37)

[54:26] They almost resorted to a duel, which was still common in Cuba at the time, where differences were often settled with machetes at dawn.

[1:04:34] There are times when chasing the things money can buy, one loses sight of the things which money can't buy and are usually free.

[1:05:10] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness (Founders #191)

[1:05:17] A calm mind, a fit body and a house full of love, these things cannot be bought, they must be earned. —Naval Ravikant

[1:08:52] His business collapsed like a house of cards.

[1:09:34] It was the same ending that befell so many other famous speculators throughout history.

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----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 16, 2022
#236 Beyond Possible: One Man, Fourteen Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime
01:04:27

What I learned from reading Beyond Possible: One Man, Fourteen Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime by Nims Purja.

[3:36] Walking out on my career felt risky, but I was prepared to gamble everything for my ambition.

[4:20] Your extremes are my normal.

[12:04] Wow, this is my shit. I'd been working without much thought, operating in the flow state that athletes often describe when they set world records or win championships. I was in the zone. Brother, I thought. You're a badass at high altitude.

[13:27] I was poor from the beginning. We didn't have any money, and the thought of owning a car was unimaginable. But we were a loving family, and I was a happy kid. It didn't take a lot to keep me amused.

[14:57] From an early age, I believed in the power of positive thinking.

[18:17]  I also like the idea of being on top.

[19:00] Sam Walton: Made In America (Founders #234)

[19:03] I understood that to become a special forces operator, it was important to adapt to an increased workload.

[19:25] One thing I don’t even have on my list is “work hard.” If you don’t know that already, or you’re not willing to do it, you probably won’t be going far enough to need my list anyway. —Sam Walton

[19:44] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Founders #141)

[20:58] This is insane: On weekends, my daily routine involved running for hours at a time. I'd haul my ass around the streets with two or three Gurkha buddies; we operated in a relay system, where I was the only soldier prevented from taking a break. One guy would accompany me for six miles, leading me along at a strong pace. Once he completed his distance, another running partner took over, and together we'd go six more miles. This went on for hours, and left me physically and psychologically pummeled.

[21:43] Emotional control was only one of the many traits I'd need to possess to become elite.

[22:22] Read the first 113 pages of this book Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Founders #193)

[24:14] I focused only on the 24 hours ahead. Today I will give 100 percent and survive, I thought at the beginning of each day. I'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

[26:47] You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t start by saying, ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.’ If you do that every single day, soon you will have a wall. —Will Smith

[28:52] I always smiled my way through the mud.

[29:03] Excellence is the capacity to take pain. —Isadore Sharp (Founders #184) Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy

[30:02] Dru Riley founder of Trends.VC has a 100 Rules Personal Philosophy

[32:14] The glass-half-empty attitude went against everything I'd been taught in the military, where  grumbling or giving up wasn't an effective strategy. If problems or challenges came my way, I was supposed to find solutions, having been trained to adapt and survive.

[35:30] The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (Founders #100)

[43:33] I approached every day with a positive thought: I can do this. I will navigate every problem the mission can throw at me. I've already climbed the world's tallest peak. The only thing standing in my way right now is funding. Get out there and smash it.

[48:48]  I'd proven to everybody that it is never too late to make a massive change in your life.

[53:43] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley (Founders #233)

[54:40] There were occasions when a panicked call would come over the radio:  “Nims, it's snowing heavily on the mountain. It's going to be a rough climb!"

Rather than wallowing in negativity, I'd make a smart-ass comment to lift the mood. "Come on, bro, what do you think we're getting on a mountain—a bloody heat wave?"

[54:58] Mark Twain once wrote that if a person’s job was to eat a frog, then it was best to take care of business first thing in the morning. But if the work involved eating two frogs, it was best to eat the bigger one first. In other words: Get the hardest job out of the way.

[57:57] Suffering sometimes creates a weird sense of satisfaction for me. It creates a sense of pride when seeing a job through to the end.

[58:23] It is important to keep the promises you make yourself: If I say that I'm going to run for an hour, I'll run for a full hour. If I plan to do 300 push-ups in a training session, I won't quit until I've done them all-because brushing off the effort means letting myself down, and I don't want to have to live with that. And neither should you.

[1:02:05] The adventure taught me an important lesson. Fear was never going to hold me back from pressing ahead with my plans. It established in me a mindset with zero doubts and zero tolerance for excuses.

[1:03:12] We worked as a small expedition unit, in teams of three, four, or five, but we moved with the power of 10 bulls and the heart of a hundred men.

[1:03:24] Most of all, I realized that somebody in the 14 peaks had been a launchpad. I needed more. I have to push my limits to the max, sitting tight, waiting it out and living in the past have never been for me.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 11, 2022
#235 To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History
01:18:25

What I learned from reading To Pixar And Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History by Lawrence Levy.

[1:34] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley (Founders #233)

[3:42] Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Founders #34)

[3:52] Readwise App

[7:22] George Lucas: A Life (Founders #35)

[7:48] Steve jobs had been a Silicon Valley's most visible celebrity but that made it all the more glaring that he had not had a hit in a long time —a very long time.

[8:49] Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing (Founders #77)

[13:35] Why would I join a company that had been struggling for sixteen years and whose payroll was paid every month out of the personal checkbook of its owner? I had not realized how dire Pixar's financial situation was. It had no cash, no reserves, and it depended for its funds on the whim of a person whose reputation for volatility was legendary.

[14:05] There is no a better advertisement than a demo.

[15:57] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (Founders #141)

[16:03] There was nothing normal about me. My drive was not normal. My vision of where I wanted to go in life was not normal. The whole idea of a conventional existence was like Kryptonite to me. —Arnold

[16:31] I looked at my start-up clients and to me they were on an adventure. I yearned for the kind of adventure they were on.

[17:28] Mind Your Own Business: A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life (Founders #229)

[17:46] I regard myself as guardian of the company's soul.

[19:06] Pixar has this amazing collection of talent doing work that no one has seen before. Now it's time to turn that into a business. —Steve Jobs

[22:01] Steve had an almost permanent intensity about him, like he was always in top gear.

[28:25] Pixar was embarked on a lonely courageous quest through terrain, into which neither it nor anyone else had ever ventured.

[28:52] Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader (Founders #19)

[31:37] Home video was turning animated feature films into big business. Bigger than we had ever imagined.

[32:24] There was no modern precedent for taking an independent animation company public.

[36:54] Look at the value of the major Hollywood studios and you'll see their library of films is really significant.

[39:27] There was no part of Steve that bought into the idea of making products that might not all have a shot at greatness.

[41:22] Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony (Founders #102)

[48:40] Steve once told me that the gestation of great products takes much longer than it appears. What seems to emerge from nowhere belies a long process of development, trials, and missteps.

[53:46] The problem with success, even a little success, is that it changes you. You are no longer walking along the same precipice that drove you to do great work in the first place. Success can take the edge away.

[54:16] Creative vision does not spring forth fully formed.

[59:33] Fear and ego conspire to rein in creativity, and it is easy to allow creative inspiration to take a back seat to safety.

[1:01:38] The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice (Founders #126)

[1:06:41] Once Steve decided what he wanted in a negotiation, he developed something akin to a religious conviction about it. In his mind, if he didn't get what he wanted, nothing else would take its place, so he'd walk away. This made Steve an incredibly strong negotiator.

[1:10:52] One never knows if an event that appears detrimental is in fact part of a larger pattern that we cannot see.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 07, 2022
#234 Sam Walton: Made In America
01:55:24

What I learned from rereading Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton.

[1:56] The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. (Founders #179)

[5:45] We just got after it and stayed after it.

[6:06] Foxes and Hedgehogs

[6:39] Hedgehogs may not be as clever as foxes but they obsessively measure and track everything about their business, and over time, they acquire deep, relevant knowledge and expertise. Their single minded approach may appear risky at times but they are conservative by nature. Hedgehogs don’t speculate or make foolish bets. If all their eggs are in that one proverbial basket, they follow Mark Twain’s advice – and watch that basket very carefully.

[7:17] The thing with Hedgehogs is that they never give up. They keep at it – and they don’t ever get bored because they just love what they do – and they have a lot of fun along the way.

[7:28] Hedgehogs are the ones who build great, lasting companies. As entrepreneurs, they are the rarest of breeds – those who can start something anew, make it work, stick with it, and build something special, and ultimately, inspire others along the way, with their determination, dedication and commitment.

[8:49] At first, we amazed ourselves. And before too long, we amazed everybody else too.

[9:26] Think about how crazy this is. He died weeks after that writing this. His last days were spent categorizing and organizing his knowledge so future generations can benefit.

[12:32] Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger(Founders #90)

[12:56] "It's quite interesting to think about Walmart starting from a single store in Arkansas – against Sears, Roebuck with its name, reputation and all of its billions. How does a guy in Bentonville, Arkansas, with no money, blow right by Sears? And he does it in his own lifetime – in fact, during his own late lifetime because he was already pretty old by the time he started out with one little store. He played the chain store game harder and better than anyone else. Walton invented practically nothing. But he copied everything anybody else ever did that was smart – and he did it with more fanaticism. So he just blew right by them all. —Charlie Munger

[17:11] What motivates the man is the desire to absolutely be on the top of the heap.

[17:32] Practice your craft so much that you're the best in the world at it and the money will take care of itself.

[18:44] We exist to provide value to our customers.

[21:18] A Conversation with Paul Graham

[22:32] It never occurred to me that I might lose; to me, it was almost as if I had a right to win. Thinking like that often seems to turn into sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[26:42] Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey by William Rosenberg. (Founders #231)

[29:35] It didn’t take me long to start experimenting—that’s just the way I am and always have been.

[30:56] Do things that other people are not doing.

[33:13] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni. (Founders #233)

[33:41] I think my constant fiddling and meddling with the status quo may have been one of the biggest contributions to the later success of Wal Mart.

[34:10] Our money was made by controlling expenses. I gotta read that again because it's so important. Our money was made by controlling expenses.

[37:49] Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man (Founders #150)

[38:37] I’ve always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn’t any different. I didn’t dwell on my disappointment. The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.

[42:47] Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp. (Founders #184)

[45:12] The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (Founders #74)

[47:08] Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator by Robert E. Price. (Founders #107)

[49:56] Sam had a really simple hypothesis for the first Wal Mart: We were trying to find out if customers in a town of 6,000 people would come to our kind of a barn and buy the same merchandise strictly because of price. The answer was yes.

[52:19] I have always been a Maverick who enjoys shaking things up and creating a little anarchy.

[54:23] In business we often find that the winning system goes almost ridiculously far in maximizing and/or minimizing one or a few variables. —Charlie Munger

[55:02] He does something really smart here. And this is something I missed the first time I read the book. He finds a way to force himself to know the numbers for every single store.

[56:13] Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It by Dr. George Roberts. (Founders #110)

[58:11] Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil. (Founders #213)  I’m not so dominant that I can’t listen to creative ideas coming from other people. Successful people listen. Those who don’t listen, don’t survive long. —Michael Jordan

[58:43] We paid absolutely no attention whatsoever to the way things were supposed to be done, you know, the way the rules of retail said it had to be done.

[1:03:15] Estée: A Success Story by Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[1:04:00] One thing I never did—which I’m really proud of—was to push any of my kids too hard. I knew I was a fairly overactive fellow, and I didn’t expect them to try to be just like me.

[1:06:38] I was never in anything for the short haul.

[1:10:36] Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212) Like so many NBA players, Drexler was operating mostly off his great store of talent, absent any serious attention to the important details of the game. Jordan had been surprised to learn how lazy many of his Olympic teammates were about practice, how they were deceiving themselves about what the game required.

[1:11:56] And you can think about Sam constantly learning from everybody else, visiting stores —that is a form of practice. Every single craft has a form of practice. It just is not as obvious as it is in sports.

[1:13:26] He proceeds to extract every piece of information in your possession.

[1:15:37]  He has just been a master of taking the best of everything everybody else is doing and adapting it to his own needs.

[1:18:52] We were serious operators who were in it for the long haul, that we had a disciplined financial philosophy, and that we had growth on our minds.

[1:19:54] Most people seem surprised to learn that I've never done much investing in anything except Walmart.

[1:20:42] He's like I just figured out the Walmart's worked. And then all I did was focus on making more of them. You don't have to over-complicate it.

[1:23:04] If you ask me if I'm an organized person, I would say flat out, no, not at all. Being organized would really slow me down. (Optimize for flexibility)

[1:24:26] The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison by Mike Wilson (Founders #127): My view is different. My view is that there are only a handful of things that are really important, and you devote all your time to those and forget everything else. If you try to do all thousand things, answer all thousand phone calls, you will dilute your efforts in those areas that are really essential

[1:26:15]  I think one of Sam's greatest strengths is that he is totally unpredictable. He is always his own person. He is totally independent in his thinking.

[1:26:45] If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. —Bruce Lee

[1:28:40] You can’t possibly know the TAM. You are in the middle of inventing the TAM.

[1:30:08] There is no speed limit by Derek Sivers

[1:31:54] Built From Scratch: How A Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion (Founders #45)

[1:41:35]  I like to keep everybody guessing. I don't want our competitors getting too comfortable with feeling that they can predict what we're going to do next.

[1:42:25] He ties that investment int technology with the compounding savings and over the long-term, he's going to destroy his competition just off this one metric alone.

[1:43:39] Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. (Founders #192)

[1:47:56] Sam’s 10 Rules for Building A Business

[1:48:04] One thing I don’t even have on my list is “work hard.” If you don’t know that already, or you’re not willing to do it, you probably won’t be going far enough to need my list anyway.

[1:48:51] Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work.

[1:50:54] Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. For twenty-five years running—long before Wal-Mart was known as the nation’s largest retailer—we ranked number one in our industry for the lowest ratio of expenses to sales. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Feb 28, 2022
#233 The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley
01:53:50

What I learned from reading The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni.

[0:50] Your life will be shaped by the things that you create and the people you make them with.

[2:45] A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Founders #95) 

[3:17] Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Founders #1 and #30) 

[4:48] It is hard to find a lukewarm opinion about PayPal's founders.

[5:29] To skip PayPal's creation is to neglect the most interesting stuff about its founders. It is to miss the defining experiences of their early professional lives —one that defined so much of what came later.

[6:39] There's just so many times I put down the book and I'm like, “That is really, really smart, what they just did there.”

[6:59] It perfectly captures when they [Musk, Thiel, Sacks, Hoffman, Levchin, Rabois] were just hustlers trying to figure it out.

[8:31] For the next several years, the company’s survival was an open question. They were sued, defrauded, copied, mocked— from the outset. PayPal was a startup under siege. Its founders took on multi-billion dollar financial firms, a critical press and skeptical public, hostile regulators, and even foreign fraudsters.

[10:14] From Henry Ford’s autobiography: That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work.

[11:11] Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy (Founders #89)

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (Founders #115)

Overnight Success: Federal Express and Frederick Smith, Its Renegade Creator by Vance Trimble (Founders #151) 

[12:03] A wall in the engineering office had two banners. One was titled The World Domination Index. The World Domination Index was a total count of PayPal's users that day. The other was a banner bearing the words Memento Mori —Latin for remember that you will die. PayPal's oddball team was out to dominate the world, or die trying.

[15:37] At PayPal disharmony produced discovery.

[16:22] Steve Jobs The Lost Interview Notes

[17:36] Properly understood PayPal story is a four year odyssey of near failure followed by near failure.

[20:22] He showed early signs of his hallmark intensity. He wanted to be the best at everything he did.

[21:08] Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss 

[21:50] Knowledge Project: Marc Andreessen

[23:01] What would Shimada do? I understand how this guy thinks. I've studied how he thinks. Now I'm presented with a difficult decision. I'm running it through my own calculus—but to enhance that is like, let me ask what would Shimada do in this situation? That is genius. 

[23:47] The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz (Founders #41) 

[25:19] Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel (Founders #31)

[29:25] Everybody engaged in complicated work needs colleagues. Just the discipline of having to put your thoughts in order with somebody else is a very useful thing. —Charlie Munger

[31:14] The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

[32:25] "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Characte by Richard Feynman

[35:32] He walked into Musk's his bedroom. The room was literally filled with biographies about business luminaries and how they succeeded. Elon was prepping himself and studying to be a famous entrepreneur.

[38:32] Musk had learned that startup success wasn't just about dreaming up the right ideas as much as discovering and then rapidly discarding the wrong ones.

[39:04] Keep iterating on a loop that says, Am I doing something useful for other people? Because that is what a company is supposed to do. Too much precision in early plans, Musk believed, cut that iterative loop prematurely.

[40:10] My mind is always on X, by default, even in my sleep. I am by nature, obsessive compulsive. What matters to me is winning and not in a small way. —Elon Musk

[48:20] PayPal prioritized speed on everything over everything else except in one category —recruiting. They would rather staff slowly then compromise on quality.

[48:47] Max would keep repeating “As hire As. Bs hire Cs. So the first B you hire takes the whole company down.”

[50:52] Do Things That Don’t Scale by Paul Graham 

[52:31]  Is there something that you're not working on that could be a more simple version of what you're currently doing?

[55:30] Why is that crazy? Because three years later Elon Musk will make $180 million from this broken situation that he's currently finds himself in.

[55:48] Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and the Creation of Apple by Mike Mortiz (Founders #76)

[57:48] Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX by Eric Berger (Founders #172) 

[59:02] There is no speed limit by Derek Sivers

[1:03:51] Make your product as easy as email.

[1:05:08] Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success by Ken Segall (Bonus episode in between #112 and #113)

[1:10:19] In Levchin and Thiel, Musk found something he rarely encountered— competitors as driven to win as he was.

[1:11:36] “I really liked this Elon guy”, Levchin remembered thinking. “He’s obviously completely crazy, but he's really, really smart. And I really like smart people.”

[1:18:23] Oftentimes it's better to just pick a path and do it rather than vacilitate endlessly on the choice. —Elon Musk

[1:18:40] Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent by Nolan Bushnell (Founders #36)

[1:19:39] He was going to tame us young whippersnappers with these like seasoned financial executives or whatever. And we're like, uh, these are the same seasoned executives at these banks who can't do jack shit, who can't compete with us. This doesn't make sense. —Elon Musk

[1:21:16] The founder may be bizarre and erratic, but this is a creative force and they should run the company. —Elon Musk

[1:22:26] Mythical Man-Month, The: Essays on Software Engineering by Frederick Brooks 

[1:23:33] Company leaders set a cultural tone of impatience.

[1:26:17] Every moment of friction for the customer was fat to be cut.

[1:31:00] Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better. —Ed Catmull in Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Founders #34) 

[1:31:35] Peter Thiel’s tendency to buck convey convention had nothing to do with math or political philosophy. It had to do with people. He didn't give a shit. He cared about smart people who worked hard.

[1:37:25] PayPal was a company of extremely aggressive people with a real bias for action.

[1:38:24]  You can copy what I'm doing, but I'm only focused on this. While payments is just one part of your gigantic business.

[1:40:32] PayPal began this effort as it had begun much else over the prior years with a little planning, quick action, and faith in itself to iterate its way to success.

[1:47:25] Just because someone shoots five bullets at you and misses does not preclude the sixth one from killing you.

[1:47:33] A great Steve Jobs story

[1:51:23] Reid Hoffman forces himself to regularly ask others, "Who is the most eccentric or unorthodox person, you know, and how could I meet them?"

[1:52:25] It is hard but fair. I live by those words. —Michael Jordan in his autobiography (Founders #213)

[1:52:34] PayPal's earliest employees reserve their highest praise for those who tread the same stony road— founders across varied fields of endeavor. "Those that bring the big ideas into hard, unpredictable reality are the practitioners, the high-leverage ones, and I admire them almost without reservation," Max wrote "One key ingredient of being this kind of person is an almost irrational lack of fear of failure and irrational optimism. —Max Levchin

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Feb 23, 2022
#232 Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers
01:02:32

What I learned from reading Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers by Arrian, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius Rufus. 

[1:28] Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulleby Paul Johnson (Founders #226)

[2:16] Each was brave, highly intelligent, almost horrifically self-assured, whose ambitions knew no bounds.

[2:46] He was a man of formidable achievements. He was highly creative. He woke up early. His diet was spare. He was skilled with the sword and the spear and an expert at all forms of arms drills. He dressed to be seen.

[3:50] He had supernatural self confidence and persistence. There is no substitute for will.

[4:26] Churchill by Paul Johnson (Founders #225)

[5:50] Addiontal research: Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Addenum Glimpses of Olympias

[6:03] The Macedonians were a rugged people.

[7:23] Think about this— At 19 years old you think it is your place in history to take revenge on something that happened 150 years previous. That is unapologetically extreme.

[9:42] There’s a rule they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School. It is: If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess.” —Edwin Land

[12:11] Alexander had excessive tolerance of fatigue

[13:14] Combine an excessive tolerance of fatigue with an intolerance of slowness.

[14:06]  Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp (Founders #184) "Excellence is the capacity to take pain."

[14:17] All the things you want in life are on the other side of difficulty and discomfort.

[17:12] The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (Founders #175)

[21:59] He considered that the task of training and educating his son was too important to be true and trusted to the ordinary run of teachers.

[22:14] Knowledge Project: Inside the Mind of A Famous Investor | Marc Andreessen

[25:03] Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay Jones (Founders #161) 

Mind Your Own Business: A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life by Sidney Harman (Founders #229) 

Bloomberg by Michael Bloomberg. (Founders #228)

[27:40] Learning is nonlinear.

[31:38] I meant to say Alexander, not Aristotle. Alexander is the one writing the letter to Aristotle.

[33:49] Alexander was a lover of books.

[38:55] George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones (Founders #35)

[44:51] Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey by William Rosenberg (Founders #231)

[49:16] Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann (Founders #192)

[51:24] Fortune generally makes those whom she has compelled to put their trust in her alone more thirsty for glory than capable of coping with it.

[54:11] What folly forced you, knowing as you did the fame of my achievements, to try the fortunes of war?

[58:05] No trait of Alexander's was more firmly held or enduring than his admiration for genuine excellence and brilliant achievement.

[58:30] Winners don't go around leaving negative comments about other people winning.

[1:01:59] Stand firm, for it is toil and danger that lead to glorious achievements.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Feb 16, 2022
#231 Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey
01:18:53

What I learned from reading Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey by William Rosenberg.

[5:18] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley

[5:30] A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Founders #93)

[10:28] When I opened my first Dunkin Donuts store I focused on making the first store a success. Then after I did that I could move on to the second and the third and the fourth, but I gave all my heart and my soul to making that first store a winner.

[12:13] From an early age these working experiences taught me that if I put my mind to it and worked hard, I could do whatever I was doing as well or better than most other people. I learned to strive for excellence.

[14:05] Odd as it may sound I think one of the best lessons I ever learned from my Dad is what he didn't do properly. He taught me what I never wanted to have happen to my family.

[15:02] I decided I wanted to quit school, go to work and help support my family. I knew they desperately needed help. We didn't have enough money to live.

[19:25]  I learned an important lesson about sales. You don't sell to people. You get people to buy from you. You say to yourself, if I were in their position why would I want to buy this product? If I was in their position why would it be to my benefit?

[19:48] The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century (Founders #206)

My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising (Founders #170)

Ogilvy on Advertising (Founders #82)

Confessions of an Advertising Man (Founders #89)

[22:58] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (Founders #141)

[27:00] They were not interested in building a long-term business. They were only interested in a fast buck, buying their wives mink coats, and driving Cadillacs. They did not have the same ideas that I had about building a business. These guys didn't care about gaining respect, about being honest and honorable. I didn't want to be in business with people of that nature.

[27:29] Adversity is a great teacher. Little did I know that this downturn of events would catapult me to a higher ground.

[30:25] Copy This!: Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America's Best Companies (Founders #181)

[32:18] I came from within inches of quitting that day.

[32:43] Not many things are as exciting and satisfying as being part of a business that is succeeding and growing rapidly. There's an atmosphere and a feeling that's tremendous.

[41:48] How can you get closer to the customer? And then just keep maintaining that relationship.

[42:44] I wasn't content to rest on my laurels. Good enough wasn't good enough for me. I saw that we had a good thing going and I wanted to expand in a big, big way before somebody else did.

[43:02] Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business(Founders #20)

[50:07] Identify your bottleneck and put all your resources into attacking that bottleneck.

[51:33] Focus is saying no. —Steve Jobs

[53:34] Bloomberg by Bloomberg (Founders #228)

[56:39] Keep your foot on the gas and stay close to the customer.

[1:00:19] Les Schwab’s autobiography (Founders #105)

[1:02:27] I was eager to have Bob takeover. I think this is common in family businesses when a parent hands over the reigns to the child. But the danger is that the parent becomes blind to some of the drawbacks of such an arrangement. This didn't become apparent until later.

[1:10:22]  They spent a lot of time in court preparing and fighting legal battles. Instead of building the business. I stuck by my son and his team. My fortune in Dunkin donuts stock went from $30 million to $3 million.

[1:13:06] I made many mistakes in my life. I believe one of the biggest mistakes was trying too hard to accommodate my son's desires.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Feb 12, 2022
#230 The Autobiography of Lucille Ball
01:03:04

What I learned from reading Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball. 

[3:19] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Founders #141) 

[3:28] Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Founders #193) 

[4:37] Lucille Ball gave me advice about Hollywood. “Just remember, when they say, ‘No,’ you hear ‘Yes,’ and act accordingly. Someone says to you, ‘We can’t do this movie,’ you hug him and say, ‘Thank you for believing in me.

[6:21] I like reading about people that do things that they're not supposed to do.

[9:45] Create a comprehensive family history.

[14:43] People with happy childhoods never overdo; they don't strive or exert themselves. They're moderate, pleasant, well liked, and good citizens. Society needs them. But the tremendous drive and dedication necessary to succeed in any field-not only show business-often seems to be rooted in a disturbed childhood.

[19:27] This is a school that teaches acting, telling what is going to wind up being one of the most successful actresses that ever lives, that she can't do it.

[20:29] I soon learned that to survive you have to be very strong, very healthy, and damned resilient. Rarely does anyone give you an encouraging word.

[20:52] I'd show up early for rehearsals and stay until they had to sweep me off the stage. . .I didn't give up. I wore out my soles trudging to casting offices.

[21:08] I can't say that I was discouraged. For some incomprehensible reason, knew that someday I'd make it.

[21:15] Remember that there are practically no “overnight" successes. Before that brilliant hit performance came ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty years in the salt mines, sweating it out.

[25:08] I was determined to stay in Hollywood. I would do what I could to make sure I'd survive the long haul.

[27:34] What would you give to be a star in two years?’’ Lela asked me when I first was getting to know her.

“What d’ya mean?’’

"Would you give me every breath you draw for two years? Will you work seven days a week? Will you sacrifice all your social life?"

“I certainly will," I promised.

"Okay," she said, "let's start.

Lela was the first person to see me as a clown with glamour.

[28:43] Lela taught us never to see anyone as bigger or more important than ourselves.

[30:07] Buster Keaton used to tell me about dozens of Hollywood people who ran into trouble. This was comforting, like reading an autobiography and thinking, “Well, that happened to them, too. I'm not the only one.”

[35:51] He soon learned that in striking out on your own, you have to throw out your chest and sell yourself.

[42:03] I learned the bitter lesson that directors and producers can make or break an actress.

I was a star, but I felt that I couldn't afford to turn down parts for fear of infuriating these bigwigs

If I did turn down a script I would be put on suspension, without salary.

I couldn't accept an offer from any other studio, no matter how good, yet I could be fired at any time without the bosses showing cause.

All the glittering “stars" were at the mercy of the whims of the top people.

[45:12] I had a driving, consuming ambition to succeed in show business.

[47:23] Founder mentality. Desi and I decided that since nobody else seemed to have faith in us as a team, we’d form our own corporation to promote ourselves. Desilu Productions, Inc., was launched.

[48:54] At that time, television was regarded as the enemy by Hollywood. So terrified was Hollywood of this medium, movie people were afraid to make even guest appearances. (As bill gates and Walt Disney learned — go with the phenomenon— not against it)

[50:50] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson (Founders #140) 

Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace by James Wallace (Founders #178) 

[52:57] To my delight, I discovered that the I Love Lucy show drew from everything I'd learned in the movies, radio, the theater, and vaudeville.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Feb 07, 2022
#229 Mind Your Own Business: A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life
01:34:24

What I learned from reading Mind Your Own Business: A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life by Sidney Harman

[3:46] Foxes and Hedgehogs

[7:17] The thing with Hedgehogs is that they never give up. They keep at it – and they don’t ever get bored because they just love what they do – and they have a lot of fun along the way.

[8:27] In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World

[9:38] “The essence of commitment is making a decision. The Latin root for decision is to ‘cut away from,’ as in an incision. When you commit to something, you are cutting away all your other possibilities, all your other options”  From the book The Lombardi Rules: 26 Lessons from Vince Lombardi—The World's Greatest Coach

[11:16] The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis

[13:12] I regard myself as guardian of the company’s soul.

[15:05] Steve Jobs liked to say the Beatles were his management model—four guys who kept each other in check and produced something great.

[15:50] Avoid recklessness, encourage daring.

[18:08] His main point here is the fact that he started the company in defiance of conventional wisdom

[24:08] Bloomberg by Bloomberg

[26:16] I believe that refusing to accept business orthodoxy uncritically can open your eyes to opportunity.

[34:56] We were free to follow our best instincts. We were free to bring totally new thinking to what we were doing.

[38:44] Treat hard work and your smarts respectfully, but recognize that they are neither decisive nor do they guarantee anything. Most of all, I told myself, don’t underestimate determination and persistence, and never quit.

[40:25] Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys

[41:51] I loved building a business. What could be better? The products were wonderful. They employed technology wisely. They made beautiful music. My instinct for marketing—for selling, for emotive advertising—was not only indulged, but rewarded.

[43:00] Mavericks do not play well with others.

[55:12] It did not require a genius to recognize that I was looking at the future.

[58:34] Reducing business matters to their essence, whittling away that which obscures or is unnecessary, has served me well. I admire greatly those who practice the art.

[59:48] A company requires an articulated mission, a philosophical base, a moral compass, critical judgment, and the realization that it is a dynamic, living instrument populated by complex human beings.

[1:05:05] The best leaders are catalysts who prompt others to reach beyond their most natural abilities to find something they had previously thought beyond their reach.

[1:18:03] I have found that by insisting on simple explanations, the mystery disappears and with it most of the nonsense.

[1:23:12] It is vital that everyone know what business he is in.

[1:28:23] Opportunity can be attacked with enthusiasm.

[1:30:01] The person who invests in writing, who exercises the discipline to do it well, and who uses it frequently, will possess a matchless instrument for discovery, clarity, and persuasion.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 30, 2022
#228 Michael Bloomberg's Autobiography
01:20:56

What I learned from reading Bloomberg by Michael Bloomberg. 

[2:08] Answering to no one is the ultimate situation.

[3:02] Twitter thread on Michael Bloomberg by Neckar.Substack.com

[5:28] We never made the error that so many others have: mistaking their product for the device that delivers it.

[6:27] We knew our core product was data and analytics.

[7:01] We were motivated by an idea that we could build something new that just might make a difference.

[9:04] Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger

[10:05] I was willing to do anything that they wanted. I would have never left voluntarily.

[16:00] Street smarts and common sense were better predictors of career achievements.

[17:40] Almost all occupations have a big selling component: selling your firm, your ideas and yourself.

[18:20] It is the doers, the lean and hungry ones, those with ambition in their eyes and fire in their bellies, who go the furthest and achieve the most.

[21:36] Comparing John to Bill on leadership, I always thought John was more egalitarian, but less effective.

[22:55] It was a lowly start. We slaved in our underwear and an un-air conditioned, a bank vault.

[23:57] The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer - The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb

[24:22] Amp It Up: Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity by Frank Slootman

[27:20] David Geffen biography: The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood

[30:07] It's said that 80 percent of life is just showing up. I believe that. You can never have complete mastery over your existence. You can't choose the advantages you start out with, and you certainly can't pick your genetic intelligence level. But you can control how hard you work. 

[31:20] Life, I've found, works the following way: Daily, you're presented with many small and surprising opportunities. Sometimes you seize one that takes you to the top. Most, though, if valuable at all, take you only a little way. To succeed, you must string together many small incremental advances-rather than count on hitting the lottery jackpot once. Trusting to great luck is a strategy not likely to work for most people. As a practical matter, constantly enhance your skills, put in as many hours as possible, and make tactical plans for the next few steps. Then, based on what actually occurs, look one more move ahead and adjust the plan. Take lots of chances, and make lots of individual, spur-of-the-moment decisions.

[32:12] Don't devise a Five-Year Plan or a Great Leap Forward. Central planning didn't work for Stalin or Mao, and it won't work for an entrepreneur either.

[34:16] I truly pity people who don't like their jobs. They struggle at work, so unhappily, for ultimately so much less success, and thus develop even more reason to hate their occupations. There's too much delightful stuff to do in this short lifetime not to love getting up on a weekday morning.

[38:48] Did I want to risk an embarrassing and costly failure? Absolutely. Happiness for me has always been the thrill of the unknown, trying something that everyone says can't be done, feeling that gnawing pit in my stomach that says danger ahead. I want action.

[40:28] Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

[41:37] I rented a one room temporary office. It was about a hundred square feet of space with a view of an alley, a far cry from my previous place of employment. I deposited  $300,000 of my Salomon Brothers windfall into a corporate checking account. And fifteen years later, I had a billion-dollar business.

[45:25] By endurance we conquer.

[46:50] Zero to One by Peter Thiel

[47:14] Made In Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by Akio Morita

[51:19] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

[54:35] Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games

[58:30] Each news story is a product demo. More demos lead to more revenue. More revenue leads to more stories and then even more revenue.

[1:03:24] He's got a lot of these like roundabout ways to get in front of potential customers. He’s repurposing the information that his unique business collects.

[1:15:53] When it comes to competition, being one of the best is not good enough. Do you really want to plan for a future in which you might have to fight with somebody who is just as good as you are? I wouldn't. —Jeff Bezos

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 27, 2022
I read 66 biographies last year— Here are my top 10!
00:12:02

Here are 10 episodes to start with: 

#168 Driven: An Autobiography by Larry Miller

#171 The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune

#219 Anthony Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography

#223 Unstoppable: Siggi Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

#216 Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans

#212 Michael Jordan: The Life

#210 Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

#193 Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder

#185 Ritz & Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class

#170 My Life in Advertising

Jan 24, 2022
#227 The Essays of Warren Buffett
01:56:51

What I learned from reading The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham.

[1:39] Founders #88 Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters — All of them!

[2:36] Buffet and Charlie Munger built this sprawling enterprise by investing in businesses with excellent economic characteristics and run by outstanding managers.

[5:21] Founders #224  Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson

[5:41] Books on Henry Singleton: The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success and Distant Force A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It

[7:06] Founders #226 Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson

[8:03] Founders #34 Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

[9:19] Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.

[9:58] Founders #208 In The Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World

[11:11] Run your business as if:

You own 100% of it

It's the only asset that you hold

You can’t sell it for 50 years

[14:04] Buffett’s essays are sprinkled with historical reference points, especially economic history. He reflects the importance of understanding the past to handle the present and navigate the future.

[16:04] A main theme of Buffett: Identify good ideas and then concentrate your resources around them.

[16:54] Buffett’ Shareholder Letters on Kindle

[23:44] Founders #104 Leading By Design: The IKEA Story 

[24:53] Founders #93 and Founders #222 A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market

[27:19] Businesses seldom operate in a tranquil, no surprise environment and earnings simply don't advance smoothly.

[29:28] Founders #143 Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II Loomis had one important characteristic. His ability to concentrate completely on a chief objective, even at the cost of neglecting matters that appear to other people to be of equal importance.

[31:19] The competitive position of each of our business grows either weaker or stronger each day. If we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs, and improving our products and services, we gained strength. But if we treat customers with indifference or tolerate bloat, our businesses will wither on a daily basis.

[33:45] Founders #50 Marc Andreessen’s Blog Archive 

[36:07] Business is like nature. It doesn't care if you arrive at the right answer from the wrong reasoning.

[42:23] Games are won by players who focus on the playing field, not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.

[47:16] Some part of your business philosophy will not be financial and that's the way it's supposed to be.

[50:39] Founders #155 Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos 

[58:15] “My whole life has been spent trying to teach people that intense concentration for hour after hour can bring out in people resources they didn’t know they had.” —Edwin Land

[1:01:50] Even smart chickens shit on their own feathers.

[1:02:16] Loss of focus is what worries Charlie and me the most.

[1:04:08] Helpful cheat sheet to use when reading Warren’s shareholder letters

[1:06:30] I learned to go into business only with people whom I like, trust, and admire. We have never succeeded in making a good deal with a bad person.

[1:10:33] By being so cautious in respect to leverage and having loads of liquidity, we will be equipped both financially and emotionally to play offense while others scramble for survival.

[1:18:38] Bull markets can obscure mathematical laws, but they cannot repeal them.

[1:19:14] The 3 part series on Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick Founders #73, 74, and 75 Book links: The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick:The Life of the Perfect Capitalist, and Meet You In Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America

[1:19:44] Cut the prices, scoop them market, watch the costs and the profits will take care of themselves.

[1:21:00] Founders #96 James J. Hill: Empire Builder of The Northwest 

[1:24:09] One of Larry Ellison’s favorite maxims was, “The brain’s primary purpose is deception, and the primary person to be deceived is the owner.” Book: The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice

[1:24:55] There's two ideas that saves us time and effort: 1. If it's not worth doing, it's not worth doing well. 2. If it is worth doing, do it to excess.

[1:28:09] An absolute masterclass on how to differentiate your product. Scroll all the way down. It’s appendix B.

[1:50:33] If horses had controlled investment decisions, there would have been no auto industry.

[1:52:28] If you can't predict what tomorrow will bring, you must be prepared for whatever it does.

[1:54:24] Advice from Charlie Munger: You should reserve much time for quiet reading and thinking.

[1:54:46] Buffett's decision to limit his activities to a few kinds, and to maximize his attention to them, and to keep doing so for 50 years was a Lollapalooza.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers." — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 20, 2022
#226 Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle
01:06:58

What I learned from reading Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson.

[0:55] I have always had a soft spot for those who speak out against the conventional wisdom and who are not afraid to speak the truth, even if it puts them in a minority of one.

[1:20] 4 traits of heroes:

1. Absolute independence of mind. Think everything through yourself.

2. Act resolutely and consistently.

3. Ignore the media.

4. Act with personal courage at all times regardless of the consequences to yourself.

[2:25] Churchill by Paul Johnson

[2:47] Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson and Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney by Paul Johnson. 

[3:34] Founders #196 Book link: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitzby Erik Larson. “It’s slothful not to compress your thoughts.” —Churchill

[4:58] They carved out vast empires for themselves and hammered their names into the history of the earth.

[5:04] Each was brave, highly intelligent, and almost horrifically self-assured.

[6:09] Founders #208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World  "People are packaged deals. You take the good with the confused. In most cases, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same thing." —Steve Jobs

[10:22] Alexander the Great read Homer all of his life and knew the passages by heart. It was to him, a Bible, a guide to heroic morality, a book of etiquette and a true adventure story. The Illiad and The Odyssey by Homer. 

[11:50] Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

[12:15] The most important factor, as always with men of action, was sheer will.

[15:56] Caesar appreciated the importance of speed and the terrifying surprises speed made possible.

[16:15] Founders #155 Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos “You can drive great people by making the speed of decision making really slow. Why would great people stay in an organization where they can't get things done? They look around after a while, and they're, like, "Look, I love the mission, but I can't get my job done because our speed of decision making is too slow."

[18:33] Caesar was a man of colossal energy and farsighted cunning. He aimed to conquer posterity as well as the world.

[19:42]  You should avoid an unfamiliar word as a ship avoids a reef. —Julius Caesar

[20:55] You train an animal, you teach a person. —Sol Price

[23:02] Caesar’s approach to difficulty was all problems are solvable.

[24:36] Caesar was a man of exceptional ability over a huge range of activities. Among his qualities: great mental power, energy, steadfastness, a gift for understanding everything under the sun, vitality, and fiery quickness of mind. Few men have had such a combination of boldness shrewdness and wisdom.

[26:30] George Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow 

[27:14] Founders #191 The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

[27:25] George Washington was a vigorous and active man, an early riser about his business all day. And by no means intellectually idle, he accumulated a library of 800 books.

[29:57] The best talk on YouTube: Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love 

[35:08] His (Washington) strategy was clear, intelligent, absolutely consistent, and maintained with an iron will from start to finish.

[36:12] All that counts is survival. The rest is just words.

[37:18] A lesson from the history of entrepreneurship: Why you start your company matters. Doesn’t have to be complex. A great example: Phil Knight said he started Nike because he believed if everyone got out and ran a few miles every day the world would be a better place.

[42:06] Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

[45:23] Words and the ability to weave them into webs which cling to the memory are extremely important in forwarding action.

[53:01] Founders #200 Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson: This is part of my anti-brilliance campaign. Very few people can be brilliant. Those who are, rarely do anything worthwhile. You are just as likely to solve a problem by being unconventional and determined as by being brilliant. And if you can't of be unconventional, be obtuse. Be deliberately obtuse, because there are 5 billion people out there thinking in train tracks, and thinking what they have been taught to think.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers." — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 12, 2022
#225 Winston Churchill
01:22:47

What I learned from reading Churchill by Paul Johnson. 

[2:09] Churchill never allowed mistakes, disaster, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism to get him down.

[4:19] The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. (Founders #196)

[4:57] He wrote best-selling biographies on Napoleon, Churchill, Eisenhower, Socrates, and Mozart.

[6:39] 3 part series on Larry Ellison: Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle (Founders #124), The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice (Founders #126), The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison(Founders #127)

[7:40] How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets by Felix Dennis (Founders #129)

[8:35] On the importance of belief: I am not asking you to be Winston Churchill. None of us could be. But I do ask that you begin, right now, right at this very moment, to ask yourself whether you believe in yourself. Truly. Do you believe in yourself? Do you? If you do not, and, worse still, if you believe you never can believe, then, by all means, go on reading this book. But take it from me, your only chance of getting rich will come from the lottery or inheritance. If you will not believe in yourself, then why should anyone else?

[10:15] How did one man do so much, for so long, and so effectively?

[11:29] Reading is not a chore. Reading is theft. It is a robbery. Someone smarter than you has spent 20 years beating their head against the wall trying to solve the problem you're dealing with. You can steal that hard won knowledge and make it yours. That is power.

[12:57] Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life by Richard Branson (Founders #49)

[15:27] Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

[16:44] My personal email list: My top 10 highlights from Churchill.

[21:51] He had accumulated a number of critics and even enemies, and a reputation for being brash, arrogant, presumptuous, disobedient, boastful, and a bounder.

[22:22] He thirsted for office, power, and the chance to make history.

[27:29] Paul Orfalea The educational system teaches kids they have to be good at everything, or else. Out of the classroom, I've found this just isn't so. Adults have a much easier time. They get to specialize. They pick one thing. It's a whole lot easier. Copy This!: How I Turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 Square Feet into a Company Called Kinko's (Founders #181)

[33:34] He is so resourceful and undismayed.

[35:00]  It's amazing how much of an advantage simply not giving up can give you.

[37:28] Don’t turn your back on he who will not accept defeat.

[38:10] Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS (Founders #192)

[41:09] Really it’s a pretty simple philosophy. What you have to do is just draw a line in the dirt, and force the bureaucracy back behind that line. And then know for sure that a year will go by and it will be back across that line, and you’ll have to do the same thing again. —Sam Walton

[42:26] Shit happens. Acknowledge it. Learn from it. Forget it. Move on. —Paul Van Duren Authentic: A Memoir by The Founder of Vans (Founders #126) 

[44:00] Churchill was again sent to the bottom and had to face the task of wearily climbing the ladder again, for the third time in his life. It was not so easy now he was nearing fifty.

[44:35] The World Crisis by Winston Churchill

[45:01] No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money by David Lough

[45:40] Churchill had his own version of PEDs: In those days, Churchill often took several whiffs of pure oxygen to lift him before a bout of oratory, and he traveled up with two canisters.

[47:14] He called for a premium on effort and a penalty on inertia.

[50:30] You have to work yourself into a position where you can trust your own judgment. That's all you have in life.

[52:28] Never underestimate your opponent. All downside, no upside.

[1:02:49] From Shoe Dog: I looked down the table. Everyone was sinking, slumping forward. I looked at Johnson. He was staring at the papers before him, and there was something in his handsome face, some quality I'd never seen there before. Surrender. Like everyone else in the room, he was giving up. The nation's economy was in the tank, a recession was under way. Gas lines, political gridlock, rising unemployment, Nixon being Nixon-Vietnam. It seemed like the end times. Everyone in the room had already been worrying about how they were going to make the rent, pay the light bill. Now this. I cleared my throat. "So...in other words," I said. I cleared my throat again, pushed aside my yellow legal pad. "What I'm trying to say is, we’ve got them right where we want them."

[1:08:52] We shall never surrender.

[1:10:00] Identify your most valuable asset and go all in: What’s going to win this war? Airpower.

[1:13:10] From Estee Lauder's autobiography: No community was too small for my attention, my absolutely full efforts. I had ridden, for instance, on a bus for six hours to open a small store in Corpus Christi, Texas. The store's clientele was modest in size and economics. No matter.

[1:15:22] From Personal History: In one exchange between us, I had deplored the fact that we had the bad luck to live in a world with Hitler, to which Phil responded, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s a privilege to have to fight the biggest son of a bitch in history.”

[1:16:24] Churchill had an uncanny gift for getting priorities right.

[1:16:40] He is an apostle of the offensive.

[1:20:05] Words are the only things that last forever.

[1:20:23] The Second World War by Winston Churchill

[1:21:40] Never flinch, never wary, never despair.

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

---

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 09, 2022
#224 Charles de Gaulle
01:49:50

What I learned from reading Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson. 

[6:45] The Winston Churchill episode is #196 based on the book The Splendid and The Vile

[7:07] Don’t turn your back on he who will not accept defeat.

[7:54] The greatest founders in history have identified a series of ideas that are extremely important to them and they repeat these ideas over and over again. Repetition is persuasive.

[12:24] De Gaulle was a voice before he was a face.

[16:45] Whatever happens the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished, and it will not be extinguished.

[19:15] De Gaulle spoke about the army the way Enzo Ferrari spoke of his cars. Founders #97 Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans

[23:30] Nothing dented his belief in victory.

[23:38] The victor is the one that wants victory most energetically.

[32:17] “Henry Singleton always tries to work out the best moves and maybe he doesn't like to talk too much because when you're playing a game, you don't tell anyone else what your strategy is.” —Claude Shannon

[32:51] A country (or a person, or a company) is defeated only when it has lost the will to fight.

[36:19] Excellence is the capacity to take pain.

[42:13] To be passive is to be defeated.

[48:18] Leadership is a solitary exersize of the will.

[53:23] “I don't want any messages saying 'I'm holding my position.' We're not holding a goddamned thing. We're advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding anything except the enemy's balls. We're going to hold him by his balls and we're going to kick him in the ass. We are going to kick the living shit out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing.” —General Patton

[53:45] That central is completely opposite of what the French* generals thought.

[54:34] Founders #208 In The Company of Giants

[59:15] The history of entrepreneurship is extremely clear about the need to be able to concentrate.

[1:00:38] All that matters is to survive. The rest is just words.

[1:04:55] He pushed himself to the limits and he expected the same from his men.

[1:05:53] All those who have done something valuable and durable have done so alone and in silence.

[1:07:07] Beyond Possible: One Man, Fourteen Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime by Nims Purja

[1:14:31] What everyone seems to ignore is the incredible mixture of patience, of obstinate creativity, the dizzying succession of calculations, negotiations, conflicts, that we had to undertake in order to accomplish our enterprise.

[1:15:19] He really believed that giving up was treason. That you deserved death for giving up.

[1:20:12] Fortune cannot always be favorable to us.

[1:23:01]  It was from this moment in his memoirs that DeGaulle starts to talk of himself in the third person. De Gaulle appears as a figure whom the narrator of the memoir watches.

[1:27:55] No question or discussion, we must go forward. Whoever stands still, falls behind.

[1:30:05] I have only one aim: to deliver France.

[1:41:10] The effective formula De Gaulle used was 1. Ruthlessness. 2. Brilliance. 3. Total clarity about what he wanted to achieve.

[1:45:36] Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the French armies, with the support and the help of all France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the real France, of the eternal France!

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jan 05, 2022
#223 Unstoppable: Siggi Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend
01:15:00

What I learned from reading Unstoppable: Siggi Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend by Joshua M. Greene.

Never give up. Only death is permanent. Everything else can be fixed.

I couldn't take such talk about not coming out alive. I didn't want to hear it. Whenever my mind told me I was not going to survive, the Almighty told me to keep going. So I stayed away from the others.

Because I could outwit the guards, I always felt superior to them. I hated them. I hated their brutality, their inhuman behavior. I felt stronger, more intelligent, and I had confidence in myself from childhood. So even though they had the guns and did all the killing, I felt superior. It was obviously a touch of arrogance, and some of it was justified and some not justified, but even in that totally hopeless condition I looked down on all of them.

It was clear that Americans were alive in every sense, moving purposefully toward some vision of tomorrow. He liked that. He would do that, too: grasp opportunities and not allow the darkness of the past to rob him of a bright future.

Even smart chickens shit on their own feathers!

When Naomi found out her husband was purchasing shares of Wilshire on a regular basis, she chided him. "More stock? We can barely pay the bills and you're buying more stock?" Siggi made excuses, but he didn't stop buying. "I didn't see how this was going to change our life," Naomi said, remembering other stocks her husband had bought and other career moves he had made. "But that's how it turned out."

You are looking at a man who had the foxlike instincts to survive history's darkest hour, a man who has no fear of adversity and who cannot be intimidated by overwhelming odds.

Siggi had grown his bank from $180 million in assets to more than $4 billion.

Siggi was the first person in history to sue the Federal Reserve.

He's just happy to be alive. People thought he was nuts and laughed at him, but he didn't care.

Less than a year after his death, his estate was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. “Not bad," as Siggi once said, "for a short, bowlegged Jew with flat feet who never graduated kindergarten and started with only $240 in his pocket."

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 29, 2021
#222 My personal blueprint – The Autobiography of Ed Thorp
01:38:18

What I learned from rereading A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Ed Thorp. 

1. The book reveals a thorough, rigorous, methodical person in search of life, knowledge, financial security, and, not least of all, fun. 

2. I learned at an early age to teach myself. This paid off later on because there weren’t any courses in how to beat blackjack, build a computer for roulette, or launch a market-neutral hedge fund.

3. Even though the Goliath I was challenging had always won, I knew something no one else did: He was nearsighted, clumsy, slow, and stupid, and we were going to fight on my terms, not his.

4. I admired the heroes who, through extraordinary abilities and resourcefulness, achieved great things. I may have been inspired to mirror this in the future by using my mind to overcome intellectual obstacles.

5. Rather than subscribing to widely accepted views—such as you can’t beat the casinos—I checked for myself. 

6. What matters in life is how you spend your time.

7.  Life is like reading a novel or running a marathon. It’s not so much about reaching a goal but rather about the journey itself and the experiences along the way. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Time is the stuff life is made of,” and how you spend it makes all the difference.

8. I also believed then, as I do now after more than fifty years as a money manager, that the surest way to get rich is to play only those gambling games or make those investments where I have an edge.

9. Since much of what we were doing was being invented as we went along, and our investment approach was new, I had to teach a unique set of skills. I chose young smart people just out of university because they were not set in their ways from previous jobs. Better to teach a young athlete who comes fresh to his sport than to retrain one who has learned bad form.

10. Whatever you do, enjoy your life and the people who share it with you, and leave something good of yourself for the generations to follow.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 20, 2021
#221 Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger
01:24:45

What I learned from reading Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe.

[16:02] I had a considerable passion to get rich. Not because I wanted Ferraris—I wanted the independence. I desperately wanted it.

[26:49] I met the towering intellectuals in books, not in the classroom, which is natural. My family was into all that stuff, getting ahead through discipline, knowledge, and self-control.

[37:44] He talked about business in a way that was animated and interesting though now I see he was almost broke. I knew he drove an awful car. But I never thought he was anything but a big success. Why did I think that? He just had this air-everything he did was going to be first class, going to be great. He had these enthusiasms for his projects and his future.

[38:48] Charlie drummed in the notion that a person should always "Do the best that you can do. Never tell a lie. If you say you're going to do it, get it done. Nobody gives a shit about an excuse. Leave for the meeting early, Don't be late, but if you are late, don't bother giving people excuses. Just apologize. They're due the apology, but they're not interested in an excuse.”

[42:22] The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner.

[49:15] He wouldn't accept anything on face value. His interest in almost everything can be so intense, he will have a perspective that others will not have.

[49:29] Do things that other people aren't doing.

[1:07:55] I am a biography nut myself and I think when you're trying to teach the great concepts that work, it helps to tie them into the lives and personalities of the people who developed them. I think that you learn economics better if you make Adam Smith your friend. That sounds funny, making friends among the eminent dead, but if you go through life making friends with the emìnent dead who had the right ideas, I thìnk it will work better in life and work better in education. It's way better than just giving the basic concepts.

[1:15:15] It is Charlie's philosophy that a first-rate man should be willing to take at least some difficult jobs with a high chance of failure.

[1:21:28] Though few companies last forever, all of them should be built to last a long time, says Munger. The approach to corporate control should be  thought of as "financial engineering." Just as bridges and airplanes are constructed with a series of back-up systems and redundancies to meet extreme stresses, so too should corporations be built to withstand the pressures from competition, recessions, oil shocks, or other calamities. Excess leverage, or debt, makes the corporation especially vulnerable to such storms. It is a crime in to build a weak bridge. How much nobler is it to build a weak company?

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 13, 2021
#220 Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine
01:22:07

What I learned from reading Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine by Brock Yates.

[0:01] Editorial writers around the world groped for words to express what Enzo Ferrari had meant. Many tried to describe him as an automotive pioneer, which he was not; others called him a great racing driver and engineer, which he was not. He was, however, exactly what he had repeatedly said he was: an agitator of men. And he remained true to his credo to the day he died.

[0:43] If there was one essential quality about the man it was his ironbound tenacity, his fierce devotion to the single cause of winning automobile races with cars bearing his name. For nearly sixty years, hardly a day passed when this thought was not foremost in his mind. Win or lose, he unfailingly answered the bell. In that sense his devotion to his own self-described mission was without precedent. For that alone he towered over his peers.

[44:26] Enzo Ferrari was a man with a diamond-hard will to win at all costs.

[45:08] If they were to survive, it would be thanks to their wits and their ability to play the ancient game of life. Few men understood this game better than Ferrari.

[48:49] Enzo Ferrari was born with simple tastes, and even after he became rich and prominent, he retained the ways of a simple, uncluttered man. During the 1930s, when every ounce of his energies and every lira in his pocket were being plowed back into the business, he lived a modest, frugal life.

[1:05:50] It is often said that his greatest skill was his ability to recognize talent.

[1:06:13] Ferrari appeared to be happier when he was losing, which jibes with mechanics' observations that the race shop on Monday was more serene following a defeat than a victory. But why? Was not winning the central object of the exercise? Ferrari explained: “There is always something to learn. One never stops learning. Particularly when one is losing. When one loses one knows what has to be done. When one wins one is never sure.”

[1:08:08] The source of much of Ferrari's success over the years was not technological brilliance or tactical cleverness, but dogged, gritty, unfailing persistence in competing—a willingness to appear at the line no matter what the odds and run as hard as possible.

[1:15:44] Those who knew him best understood that Enzo Ferrari would never retire. There was little else in his life besides automobile racing. It was that simple.

[1:19:34] His view of racing remained constant; the event itself was essentially meaningless. For him the stimulation came in the planning and preparation, in the creation of the machines, in the  organization of the human beings who would man the team.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Dec 09, 2021
#219 Tony Bourdain: The Definitive Biography
01:46:57

What I learned from reading Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever.

[28:32] All the energy he'd put into trying to destroy himself, he put that into building himself back up. All that negative energy became something else. He became so serious, and so driven and focused. He worked really hard. It takes a lot of determination to wake up early in the morning and write, and then go to a job in the kitchen, and come home at god knows what hour, and get up the next morning and do it again. He was a fiend. One time, he said about his disciplined writing regimen, "Such was my lust to see my name in print." He threw himself into his work in a manner that I found astonishing.

[41:17] He gave me really good advice: "Stay public. You gotta promote, promote, promote, or it all dies. You just gotta be out there all the time." Tony embraced that.

[56:17] He proceeded to tell everyone to ignore the network. He said, "Completely ignore everything they're saying about music, about story, about shots. Let me deal with it all. I'm gonna make the show I want to make, across all fronts.” I had already been editing for ten years, and this was the first time I'd heard anything like this. Everyone is always just trying to make the network happy.

[1:01:51] The line between Tony and the show was very thin, if it existed at all.

[1:07:07] This life isn't a greenroom for something else. He went for it.

[1:20:50] He demanded excellence, and he never settled for shit. He just wanted the show to be the greatest thing ever, all the time.

[1:22:48] It was his life's work, and he never slacked.

[1:34:56] Tony gorged himself on being alive.

[1:46:13] The world is not better off with him not here. It's just not.

[1:45:46] I liked him better when he was just kind of living his best life and looking in the rearview mirror like he stole something. This beautiful life that he had, something people would dream of, and no one else could do it but him. A "slit my wrist" love story is just the shittiest ending to it all.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 30, 2021
#218 My Turn: A Life of Total Football
00:58:17

What I learned from reading My Turn: A Life of Total Football by Johan Cruyff.

[0:01] I always say you play football with your head; you just use your legs to run.

[1:09] I'm not capable of doing something at a low level.

[8:45] I'm definitely cunning. I'm always on the lookout for the best advantage.

[13:16] To be able to touch the ball perfectly once, you need to have touched it a hundred thousand times in training.

[14:00] My father died in 1959, when he was forty-five and I was twelve. His death has never let go of me.

[21:07] Winning was the consequence of the process that we had concentrated on.

[45:30] It doesn't work without full commitment.

[55:17] The experiences I have been through have given me a vast store of knowledge that needs to be shared so that others can profit from my experiences.

[56:09] I've led a full life and can look back on it the way you're supposed to. It's been so incredibly intense that I feel like I've lived for a hundred years.

[56:21] A setback is probably a sign that you need to make some adjustments. If you learn to think that way, all experiences are translated into something positive.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 25, 2021
#217 The Autobiography of Estée Lauder
01:22:56

What I learned from rereading Estée Lauder: A Success Story by Estée Lauder. 

Watch Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley.

[21:14] I sometimes wonder if I had set my heart on selling tassels, cars, furniture, or anything else but beauty, would I have risen to the top of a profession? Somehow I doubt it. I believed in my product. I loved my product.

[32:07] Risk taking is the cornerstone of empires. No one ever became a success without taking chances.

[39:24] I was single-minded in the pursuit of my dream.

[44:38] Despite all the naysayers, there was never a single moment when I considered giving up. That was simply not a viable alternative.

[55:59] We took the money we had planned to use on advertising and invested it instead in enough material to give away large quantities of our products.

[1:02:20] Never underestimate the value of an ally. Today they call it networking—this sharing between colleagues. It is one of the most powerful tools in the business.

[1:12:22] It's not enough to have the most wonderful product in the world. You must be able to sell it.

[1:15:03] Love your career or else find another.

[1:19:05] Visualize. If in your mind's eye you see a successful venture, a deal made, a profit accomplished, it has a superb chance of actually happening. Projecting your mind into a successful situation is the most powerful means to achieve goals. If you spend time with pictures of failure in your mind, you will orchestrate failure. Countless times, before the event, I have pictured a heroic sale to a large department store every step of the  way and the picture in my mind became a reality. I've visualized success, then created the reality from the image. Great athletes, business people, inventors, and achievers from all walks of life seem to know this secret.

[1:21:34] I've always believed that if you stick to a thought and carefully avoid distraction along the way, you can fulfill a dream. I kept my eye on the target. I've never allowed my eye to leave the particular target of the moment. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 18, 2021
#216 Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans
01:29:03

What I learned from reading Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans by Paul Van Doren. 

The way we deal with hardship is our legacy. You can accept defeat, or you can overcome it.

Quitting Randy's had probably been the biggest stroke of luck in my life. Opportunity is a strange beast.

Whenever a situation went sideways and things looked dire, I always called up my one superpower: focus.

I believe honest self-evaluation and the ability to listen to others has been one of my greatest strengths, one that has served me well over the years. If someone had a better idea than mine, of course I would adopt that. I really didn’t care if I didn’t get credit. I didn’t need credit; I needed success.

The very best thing that occurred during that first decade of Vans was that we truly became a family business. Without exception, family has always been the most important thing in my life.

Most of the kids in the early skater crews came from single-parent households, from the wrong side of the tracks. They were idiosyncratic, creative, independent—they were seen as the “freaks” of the sport. In so many ways, they were our people.

If you do something no one else can do, or do something better than most, the odds are in your favor for success.

Shit happens—it really does. Letting yourself get stuck in it doesn’t do any good. Acknowledge it and then move on. Don’t let it weigh you down—just cope. Tackling things in a positive way will help you succeed more often than not. Shit happens: these two words fully acknowledge the difficulties in life, but you can put them firmly in the rearview mirror, without letting them mess with your head or your path in life.

To me, the more critical the situation, the better I’ll perform. I don’t create clutch situations just to feel the rush—I’d prefer to eliminate risk than encourage it—but I for one have always found defeat intoxicating, especially when it's someone else's. And when it's mine, I can’t say it's ever done anything but make me think smarter and behave differently, even courageously. Hell, it's only after I lost something or when something didn’t go my way that I was afforded the opportunity to shine.

I’ve learned that what makes a successful entrepreneur is the same thing that makes a good skateboarder or good surfer: you need grit and determination to get back up every time you’re knocked off the board.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 14, 2021
#215 The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb
00:57:25

What I learned from reading The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer—The Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb by James Kunetka. 

It is clear that nothing short of a full-speed, all-out attempt would be worthwhile.

Once Leslie Groves accepted his new assignment, he embraced it completely. From his appointment in September 1942 until the end of the war, he worked at full speed, often fourteen hours a day or more. His remarkable energy and stamina frequently exhausted those who worked and traveled with him.

Groves's style was to delegate whatever he could and then put the screws to the delegees. He was a taskmaster.

The instructions to the project were that any individual in the project who felt that the ultimate completion was going to be delayed by as much as a day by something that was happening, it was his duty to report it direct to me. Urgency was on us right from the start.

When Marshall asked him if he ever praised anyone for a job well done, Groves said no. "I don't believe in it. No matter how well something is being done, it can always be done better and faster.”

Oppenheimer insisted that Los Alamos should have one director. He had learned enough about management from studying Groves to believe that while consensus was important, an organization needed a single leader.

The dual approaches reflected Groves's belief in pursuing multiple solutions to a problem until the problem is solved

In a frank assessment of his boss after the war, he called him, "the biggest S.O.B. I have ever worked for. He is the most demanding. He is the most critical. He is always a driver, never a praiser. He is abrasive and sarcastic. He disregards all normal organizational channels. He is extremely intelligent. He has the guts to make timely, difficult decisions. He is the most egotistical man I know. He knows he is right and so sticks by his decision. He abounds with energy and expects everyone to work as hard or even harder than he does. If I had to do my part of the atomic bomb project over again and had the privilege of picking my boss I would pick General Groves."

Groves had a reputation for competence. He was demanding, rough, and sometimes brutal with his staff, intolerant of delay and mental slowness. On the other hand, he never swore, rarely lost his temper, and never raised his voice. He was also prepared to let subordinates disagree if their arguments were sound. He disliked people who groveled.

Groves remained unflappable, accepting the unanticipated as normal.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 09, 2021
#214 Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
02:12:16

What I learned from rereading Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson. 

1. He had the attitude that he could do anything, and therefore so can you.

2. He refused to accept automatically received truths, and he wanted to examine everything himself.

3. Picasso had a saying—‘good artists copy, great artists steal’—and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

4. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

5. The way we're running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let's make it simple. Really simple.

6. Jobs’s intensity was also evident in his ability to focus. He would set priorities, aim his laser attention on them, and filter out distractions.

7. The thing that struck me was his intensity. Whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme.

8. One of Jobs's talents was spotting markets that were filled with second-rate products.

9. Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

10. His mind was never a captive of reality. He possessed an epic sense of possibility. He looked at things from the standpoint of perfection.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Nov 03, 2021
#213 Michael Jordan: Driven From Within
01:07:22

What I learned from reading Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil. 

[4:55] Players who practice hard when no one is paying attention play well when everyone is watching.

[9:47] It's hard, but it's fair. I live by those words. 

[12:49] To this day, I don't enjoy working. I enjoy playing, and figuring out how to connect playing with business. To me, that's my niche. People talk about my work ethic as a player, but they don't understand. What appeared to be hard work to others was simply playing for me.

[24:00] You have to be uncompromised in your level of commitment to whatever you are doing, or it can disappear as fast as it appeared. 

[24:26] Look around, just about any person or entity achieving at a high level has the same focus. The morning after Tiger Woods rallied to beat Phil Mickelson at the Ford Championship in 2005, he was in the gym by 6:30 to work out. No lights. No cameras. No glitz or glamour. Uncompromised. 

[37:01] I knew going against the grain was just part of the process.

[53:20] The mind will play tricks on you. The mind was telling you that you couldn't go any further. The mind was telling you how much it hurt. The mind was telling you these things to keep you from reaching your goal. But you have to see past that, turn it all off if you are going to get where you want to be.

[57:41] I would wake up in the morning thinking: How am I going to attack today?

[1:06:04] I’m not so dominant that I can’t listen to creative ideas coming from other people. Successful people listen. Those who don’t listen, don’t survive long.

[1:06:22] In all honesty, I don't know what's ahead. If you ask me what I'm going to do in five years, I can't tell you. This moment? Now that's a different story. I know what I'm doing moment to moment, but I have no idea what's ahead. I'm so connected to this moment that I don't make assumptions about what might come next, because I don't want to lose touch with the present. Once you make assumptions about something that might happen, or might not happen, you start limiting the potential outcomes. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

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Oct 27, 2021
#212 Michael Jordan: The Life
01:37:46

What I learned from reading Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby.

[5:07] His competence was exceeded only by his confidence.

[5:58] He worked at the game, and if he wasn't good at something, he had the motivation to be the best at it.

[6:33] It seemed that he discovered the secret quite early in his competitive life: the more pressure he heaped on himself, the greater his ability to rise to the occasion.

[14:06] At each step along his path, others would express amazement at how hard he competed. At every level, he was driven as if he were pursuing something that others couldn't see.

[16:10] Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I'd close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that got me going again.

[19:29] Jordan could sense immediately that he had something the others didn't.

[59:53] The Jordan Rules succeeded against the Bulls so well that they became textbook for guarding athletic scorers. The scheme helped Detroit win two NBA championships, but it also helped in the long run, by forcing Jordan to find an answer. "I think that 'Jordan Rules' defense, as much as anything else, played a part in the making of Michael Jordan," Tex Winter said.

[1:16:35] Jordan had been surprised to learn how lazy many of his Olympic teammates were about practice, how they were deceiving themselves about what the game required.

[1:19:56] I have always liked practice and I hate to miss it. When you miss that one day, you feel like you missed a lot. You take extra work to make up for that one day. I've always been a practice player. I believe in it.

[1:29:47] Jordan presented a singleness of purpose that was hard to dent.
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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

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Oct 23, 2021
#211 Aristotle Onassis: An Extravagant Life
01:15:16

What I learned from reading Onassis: An Extravagant Life by Frank Brady. 

He became one of the richest men in U.S. history ever to be arrested.

The epic life of Aristotle Onassis is as mysterious as a tale from ancient Greek mythology and is a study of paradoxes, altogether gripping because of their seeming inconsistencies.

Onassis had long since begun to formulate a personal business philosophy. The key to success was boldness, boldness, and more boldness.

He was constantly visiting and inspecting ships, talking to ship owners and other importers and quietly absorbing everything, making a very conscious attempt to learn as much as he could before going into ship-owning seriously.

He was quite observant about what, to others, were trifles but, to him, were important details. He often quoted Napoleon: “The pursuit of detail is the religion of success.”

Onassis was a man of the pier, but with the cocksureness of a king.

She simply never knew anyone quite as free or exotic as Aristotle Onassis, a paradoxical blend of raconteur and ruffian.

Onassis was a born orator. He could keep a dinner party of some of the world's most sophisticated conversationalists spellbound.

Onassis spent almost all of his time working. He would pore over shipping journals from Antwerp, Vancouver, Hamburg, and New York, looking for intelligence, trends, and opportunities. He would scan, study and memorize tonnage, prices, insurance rates and schedules of the world's great and small steamship companies and then attempt to outbid his competitors. He read the maritime sections of at least six foreign language daily newspapers each day.

And I, of course, will do exactly as I please.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Oct 16, 2021
#210 Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
01:09:50

What I learned from reading Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. 

My earliest memory is of imagining I was someone else.

By the time I was fourteen the nail in wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.

I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all. I'm not editorializing, just trying to give you the facts as I see them.

There was also a work-ethic in the poem that I liked, something that suggested writing poems (or stories, or essays) had as much in common with sweeping the floor as with mythy moments of revelation.

The realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit.

If I ever came close to despairing about my future as a writer, it was then. I could see myself thirty years on, wearing the same shabby tweed coats with patches on the elbows, potbelly rolling over my Gap khakis from too much beer. I'd have a cigarette cough from too many packs, thicker glasses, more dandruff, and in my desk drawer, six or seven unfinished manuscripts which I would take out and tinker with from time to time, usually when drunk. And of course. I'd lie to myself, telling myself there was still time, it wasn't too late.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

“When asked, "How do you write?" I invariably answer, "One word at a time," and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That's all. One stone at a time. But I've read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”


Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. The sort of strenuous reading and writing program I advocate - four to six hours a day, every day – will not seem strenuous if you really enjoy doing these things and have an aptitude for them.

You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. These lessons almost always occur with the study door closed.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Oct 10, 2021
#209 Steven Spielberg: A Biography
01:10:46

What I learned from reading Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. 

Whatever is there, he makes it work.

Spielberg once defined his approach to filmmaking by declaring, "I am the audience."

"He said, 'I want to be a director.' And I said, 'Well, if you want to be a director, you've gotta start at the bottom, you gotta be a gofer and work your way up.' He said, 'No, Dad. The first picture I do, I'm going to be a director.' And he was. That blew my mind. That takes guts."

One of his boyhood friends recalls Spielberg saying "he could envision himself going to the Academy Awards and accepting an Oscar and thanking the Academy.” He was twelve.

He was disappointed in the world, so he built one of his own.

Spielberg remained essentially an autodidact. Spielberg followed his own eccentric path to a professional directing career. Universal Studios, in effect, was Spielberg's film school. Giving him an education that, paradoxically, was both more personal and more conventional than he would have received in an academic environment. Spielberg devised what amounted to his own private tutorial program at Universal, immersing himself in the aspects of filmmaking he found most crucial to his development.

At the time he came to Hollywood, generations of nepotism had made the studios terminally inbred and unwelcoming to newcomers. The studio system, long under siege from television, falling box-office receipts, and skyrocketing costs, was in a state of impending collapse.

When Steven was very discouraged trying to sell a script and break in, he always had a positive, forward motion, whatever he may have been suffering inside.

In the two decades since Star Wars and Close Encounters were released, science-fiction films have accounted for half of the top twenty box-office hits. But before George Lucas and Spielberg revived the genre there was no real appetite at the studios for science fiction. The conventional wisdom was science-fiction films never make money.

Your children love you. They want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? We have a few special years with our children, when they're the ones who want us around. So fast, it’s a few years, then it's over. You are not being careful. And you are missing it.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Oct 06, 2021
#208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World —Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Ken Olsen
01:21:35

What I learned from reading In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz. 

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A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players. —Steve Jobs 

There are no shortcuts around quality, and quality starts with people. —Steve Jobs 

Usually people never think that much about what they're doing or why they do it. They just do it because that's the way it has been done and it works. That type of thinking doesn't work if you're growing fast and if you're up against some larger companies. You really have to outthink them and you have to be able to make those paradigm shifts in your points of view. —Steve Jobs 

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Steve Jobs answer to What advice would you give someone interested in starting their own company?

A lot of people ask me, "I want to start a company. What should I do?" My first question is always, "What is your passion? What is it you want to do in your company?" Most of them say, "I don't know."

My advice is go get a job as a busboy until you figure it out. You've got to be passionate about something. You shouldn't start a company because you want to start a company. Almost every company I know of got started because nobody else believed in the idea and the last resort was to start the company. That's how Apple got started. That's how Pixar got started. It's how Intel got started. You need to have passion about your idea and you need to feel so strongly about it that you're willing to risk a lot.

Starting a company is so hard that if you're not passionate about it, you will give up. If you're simply doing it because you want to have a small company, forget it.

It's so much work and at times is so mentally draining. The hardest thing I've ever done is to start a company. It's the funnest thing, but it's the hardest thing, and if you're not passionate about your goal or your reason for doing it, you will give up. You will not see it through. So, you must have a very strong sense of what you want.

You have to need to run such a business and know you can do it better than anyone else.

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There are no safe harbors. The only safe harbor is competency. Competency at doing something. —T.J. Rodgers founder of Cypress Semiconductor

The first time someone says, “The product you've made has changed my life," is the biggest sense of satisfaction you get. It motivates me more than anything else, by far. —Charles Geschke, founder of Adobe

Being detached from the customer is the ultimate death. —Michael Dell 

The faster you experiment and get rid of things that don't work and keep doing things that do work, the faster you get to the winning business model. —Michael Dell

The important things of tomorrow are probably going to be things that are overlooked today. —Andy Grove 

The best assumption to have is that any commonly held belief is wrong. —Ken Olsen 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 29, 2021
#207 Scientific Advertising
00:50:58

What I learned from reading Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. 

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Individuals come and go, but they leave their records and ideas behind them. These become a guide to all who follow.

Genius is the art of taking pains. 

The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. The best ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They site advantages to users.

Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. The care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, “Buy my brand. Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money." That doesn't work.

We learn that people judge largely by price. We often employ this factor. Perhaps we are advertising a valuable formula. To merely say that would not be impressive. So we state as a fact that we paid $100,000 for that formula. That statement when tried has won a wealth of respect.

The weight of an argument may often be multiplied by making it specific. Makers of safety razors have long advertised quick shaves. One maker advertised a 78-second shave.  The difference is vast. If a claim is worth making, make it in the most impressive way.

The product itself should be its own best salesman. Not the product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and atmosphere, which you place around it. Samples are of prime importance. However expensive, they usually form the cheapest selling method. Samples serve numerous valuable purposes. They enable one to use the word "Free" in ads. That often multiplies readers. Samples pay for themselves in multiplying the readers of your ads.

Mail order advertising tells a complete story if the purpose is to make an immediate sale. You see no limitations there on the amount of copy. The motto is, "The more you tell the more you sell." And it has never failed to be proven wrong in any test we know.

Show health, not sickness. Don't show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all about the wrinkles. Show pretty teeth, not bad teeth. Talk of coming good conditions, not conditions that exist. We are attracted by sunshine, beauty, happiness, health, and success. Point the way to them, not the way out of the opposite.

I spend far more time on headlines than on writing. I often spend hours on a single headline. The identical ad run with various headlines differs tremendously in its returns. It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns by five or ten times over.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 26, 2021
#206 The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century
01:36:58

What I learned from reading The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz.

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Advertising is a very simple thing. I can give it to you in three words: Salesmanship in print.

Before he arrived on the scene, advertising agencies were mostly brokers of space in newspapers and magazines. With Lasker's prodding, the industry became a creative force and began earning substantial commissions.

His rare ability to put troubled geniuses to work on challenging problems grew in part from the fact that he himself had been driven by "a thousand devils.”

Albert measured himself against the man who had braved the privations and horrors of the Civil War, epidemics, and hurricanes and made several fortunes in a foreign and sometimes hostile land.

Thomas was often taken aback by his young colleague's unconventional views and methods.

He decided that he could represent as well as anybody, because at least as far as he could tell, nobody in his office really knew anything much about the business they were in.

He was beginning to suspect that advertising agencies were leaving an enormous amount of money on the table. Lasker felt sure that he could build the business, and boost commissions if he could improve the agency's copywriting.

You are insufferably egotistical on the things you know nothing about, and you are painfully modest about those things about which you know everything.

Hopkins began imparting his theory of copywriting. We should never brag about a client's product, he said, or plead with consumers to buy it. Instead, we must figure out how to appeal to the consumer's self-interest.

Lasker argued that rather than maintaining many modestly successful small brands, the company needed to create one overwhelmingly powerful product.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 23, 2021
#205 Invention: A Life by James Dyson
01:52:12

What I learned from reading Invention: A Life by James Dyson. 

This is a story told through a life of creating and developing things, as well as expressing a call to arms for young people to become engineers, creating solutions to our current and future problems.

I have tried to seek out those young people who can make the world a better place. I have seen what miracles they can achieve. This book is aimed at encouraging them. 

Some may well  become heirs to my heroes—inventors, engineers, and designers—who make their appearance in these pages. Like them, they will not find it easy and they will need oodles of determination and stamina along the way

That was the last time I saw him. His brave cheerfulness chokes me every time I recall the scene. It is impossible to imagine my father's emotions as he waved goodbye knowing that he might be on his way to London to die. Sixty years have not softened these memories, nor the sadness that he missed enjoying his three children growing up.

I felt the devastating loss of my dad, his love, his humor, and the things he taught me. I feared for a future without him.

Running also taught me to overcome the pain barrier: when everyone else feels exhausted, that is the opportunity to accelerate, whatever the pain, and win the race. 

Stamina and determination, with creativity, are needed to overcome seemingly impossible difficulties.

I admire Soichiro Honda greatly for his addiction to the continuous improvement of products.

Craziest of all, during the first thirty years of our marriage, she agreed unselfishly to keep putting her signature to endless bank guarantee forms in front of solicitors, signing away our possessions. If we had defaulted on the bank loans, we would have been evicted from our home.

At Dyson, we don't particularly value experience. Experience tells you how things should be done when we are much more interested in how things shouldn't be done.

Jeremy Fry encouraged me to think for myself and to "just do it."

Jeremy Fry taught me, without saying a word, that each day is a form of education.

I wanted to make new things—things that might seem strange—and not things you make because you know they will sell.

I was left with a burning ambition to emulate designer-engineers like Issigonis and Citroën in my own small way.

I happen to find factories and production lines romantic places. They are truly exciting.

Selling goes with manufacturing as wheels do with a bicycle

Products do not walk off shelves and into people's homes. And when a product is entirely new, the art of selling is needed to explain it. What it is. How it works. Why you might need and want it.

He believed, most of all, in the power of enthusiasm.

I still find myself putting into practice at Dyson some of the same things Jeremy said and did when I worked for him half a century ago
 

He believed in taking on young people with no experience because this way he employed those with curious, unsullied, and open minds.

Jeremy was always looking for a better way of doing things.

He loathed arrogance and experts, by which he meant those who want you to believe that they know everything about a subject when the inventive mind knows instinctively that there are always further questions to be asked and new discoveries to be made.

Alec's view was that market research is bunk and that one should never copy the opposition.

I was also putting into practice ideas I'd learned directly from Jeremy Fry and indirectly from Alec Issigonis: Don't copy the opposition. Don't worry about market research. Both Jeremy and Alec Issigonis might just as well have said "Follow your own star." And this is indeed what successful entrepreneurs do.

I was penniless again with no job and no income. I had three adorable children, a large mortgage to pay, and nothing to show for the past five years of toil. I had also lost my inventions. This was a very low moment and deeply worrying for Deirdre and me. It was deeply upsetting, too. My confidence took a big blow, and it would take some years to regain it.

Here was a field-the vacuum cleaner industry-where there had been no innovation for years, so the market ought to be ripe for something new.

For the following fifteen years I lived in debt. This might not sound encouraging to young inventors with an entrepreneurial spirit, yet if you believe you can achieve something then you have to give the project 100 percent of your creative energy. You have to believe that you'll get there in the end. 

You need determination, patience, and willpower.

Experts tend to be confident that they have all the answers and, because of this trait, they can kill new ideas.

I had various degrees of perseverance underpinned by a kind of naïve intelligence, by which I mean following your own star along a path where you stop to question both yourself and expert opinion allong the way.

How best could I share my enthusiasm for what I knew was a great and innovative product?

We knew this was the most exciting adventure of our lives.

As Buckminster Fuller said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

En route, there are multiple failures, sleepless nights, a great deal of frustration.

This was another of those products, used frequently by hundreds of millions of people, stuck in a technological time warp.

The general idea was to show that Dyson was founded by Mr. Dyson and that he was responsible for Dyson products. Big, long-established multinationals, most of them public companies, would not be able to put forward an individual in the same way.

Dyson has become as much an Asian as it is a British business.

The fourth Industrial Revolution is not going to dissipate anytime soon.

Learning by doing. Learning by trial and error. Learning by failing. These are all effective forms of education.

Children love making things and yet, all too often, this innate curiosity and experimentation expressed through our hands is stamped out by educational systems that see no virtue in such natural creativity.

Education should be about problem solving.

Invention is a human imperative.

If I wasn't getting anywhere with the education system in my quest to raise the number and quality of engineering graduates, why didn't I start a university of my own?

There were to be no tuition fees. Our undergraduates would work three days a week with Dyson on real research projects alongside young Dyson engineers, earning a proper salary, and we would teach them for the remaining two days. When the first undergraduates complete their four-year course they will be debt-free.

I also have an interest, verging on obsession, with the past.

It is about understanding and celebrating the progress that has been achieved, learning from it, and building on it.

Each artifact has its own story of against-the-odds progress and lessons on why having faith in your ideas and believing in progress is so important.

It is hard for other people to understand or get excited by a new idea. This requires self-reliance and faith on the part of the inventor.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with being persistently dissatisfied or even afraid.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 18, 2021
#204 Inside Steve Jobs' Brain
00:58:50

What I learned from reading Inside Steve's Brian by Leander Kahney.

1. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don't take the time to do that.

2. He remade Apple in his own image. Apple is Steve Jobs with ten thousand lives.

3. I'm looking for a fixer-upper with a solid foundation. Am willing to tear down walls, build bridges, and light fires. I have great experience, lots of energy, a bit of that 'vision thing' and I'm not afraid to start from the beginning.

4. Good storytelling lasts for decades. I don't think you'll be able to boot up any computer today in 20 years. But Snow White has sold 28 million copies, and it's a 60-year-old production.

5. Jobs has said the starting point is the user experience.

6. In everything I've done it really pays to go after the best people in the world. 

7. My dream is that every person in the world will have their own Apple computer. To do that, we've got to be a great marketing company.

8.  Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.

9. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea or a problem you're passionate about; otherwise you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that's half the battle right there.

10. The older I get, the more I'm convinced that motives make so much difference. Our primary goal here is to make the world's best PCs—not to be the biggest or the richest.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 14, 2021
#203 Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital
01:27:06

What I learned from reading Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital by Spencer Ante. 

1. He was very important because he was the first one to believe there was a future in financing entrepreneurs in an organized way.

2. He brought a unique style to everything he did. 

3. He called his course Manufacturing, but it was really his philosophy of life and of business.

4. At Harvard, Doriot became a Yoda-like figure, dispensing wisdom to an ever-growing group of disciples.

5. He got me motivated to start a business.

6. A real courageous man is a man who does something courageous when no one is watching him. 

7. If any information is to be exchanged over whiskey, let us get it rather than give it. 

8. You will get nowhere if you do not inspire people.

9. Always remember that someone somewhere is making a product that will make your product obsolete.

10. Decades before economists appreciated the value of technology, Doriot realized that innovation was the key to economic progress.

11. He upset the conventional wisdom by proving that there was big money to be made from patient investing in and the nurturing of small, unproven companies.

12. He believed in building companies for the long haul. 

13. I don’t consider a speculator constructive. I am building men and companies.

14. A creative man merely has ideas; a resourceful man makes them practical. I look for the resourceful man.

15. When ARD liquidated its stake in Digital, the company was worth more than $400 million—yielding a return on their original investment of more than 70,000 percent. It was the young venture capital industry’s first home run.

16. Doriot never figured out a way to appease government regulators, who repeatedly threatened to put ARD out of business.

17. More than any other person, Doriot pioneered the transition to an economy built on entrepreneurship and innovation.

18. Celebrating anything less than the best possible result smacked of contentment

19. A commercial bank lends only on the strength of the past. I want money to do things that have never been done before.

20. Every successful man can usually point to a mentor that helped guide his career.

21. One of things that profoundly affected Georges was his father getting wiped out financially.

22. Doriot would go on to mentor thousands of other students, giving them advice, finding them jobs, guiding them in their careers, and taking an extraordinarily personal interest in each and every one of their futures.

23. Doriot believed strongly in forming a close bond between student and teacher.

24. Doriot described with a palpable sense of glee the importance of imparting a strong work ethic.

25. Doriot encouraged his students to ponder the purpose of life and business. It was a highly unusual technique but the students realized Doriot was giving them knowledge of much deeper value.

26. Always challenge the statement that nothing can be done about a certain condition

27. There was still a fire that burned in Doriot. A passion that kept him searching for his next mission impossible.

28. Doriot was a workaholic with no family responsibilities to divert his energies

29. A committee is an invitation to do nothing.

30. Lack of competent personnel was his most vexing problem.

31. One word is omitted from Doriot’s vocabulary. That word—“impossible.” If a thing must be done, it can be done.

32. Doriot was putting in twelve-hour days, seven days a week. 

33. We cannot depend safely for an indefinite time on the expansion of our old big industries alone. We need new strength, energy and ability from below.

34. A team made up of the younger generation, with courage and inventiveness, together with older men of wisdom and experience, should bring success.

35. On his desk, Doriot kept a stopwatch. “Sometimes I use it to see how long it takes someone in a meeting to tell me the same thing three times,” he said.

36. An average idea in the hands of an able man is worth much more than an outstanding idea in the possession of a person with only average ability.

37. The riskiest investments, they were learning, held the potential to generate the greatest financial returns and the highest personal satisfaction

38. He knew that if entrepreneurs weren’t self-driven and a bit egotistical they’d be punching the clock for IBM or General Electric.

39. Creative ability knows no boundaries.

40. It’s very important to cultivate the memory of great people.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 08, 2021
#202 A Few Lessons From Warren Buffett
01:07:00

What I learned from reading A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett and Peter Bevelin.

Big opportunities come infrequently. When it’s raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble.

Speculation is most dangerous when it looks easiest.

Now it is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it. —W. Somerset Maugham

"Moats" —a metaphor for the superiorities they possess that make life difficult for their competitors. 

Business history is filled with "Roman Candles," companies whose moats proved illusory and were soon crossed.

When a company is selling a product with commodity-like economic characteristics, being the low-cost producer is all-important.

In a business selling a commodity-type product, it's impossible to be a lot smarter than your dumbest competitor.

As a wise friend told me long ago, "If you want to get a reputation as a good businessman, be sure to get into a good business."

The truly big investment idea can usually be explained in a short paragraph.

Our managers have produced extraordinary results by doing rather ordinary things—but doing them exceptionally well.

If we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs and improving our products and services, we gain strength.

On a daily basis, the effects of our actions are imperceptible; cumulatively, though, their consequences are enormous. When our long-term competitive position improves as a result of these almost unnoticeable actions, we describe the phenomenon as "widening the moat."

We always, of course, hope to earn more money in the short-term. But when short-term and long-term conflict, widening the moat must take precedence.

Charlie and I are not big fans of resumes. Instead, we focus on brains, passion and integrity.

It's difficult to teach a new dog old tricks.

Investors should understand that for certain companies, and even for some industries, there simply is no good long-term strategy.

Most of our directors have a major portion of their net worth invested in the company. We eat our own cooking.

Our trust is in people rather than process. A “hire well, manage little" code suits both them and me.

Just run your business as if: (1) You own 100% of it; (2) It is the only asset in the world that you and your family have or will ever have; and (3) You can't sell it for at least a century.

We believe in Charlie's dictum-“Just tell me the bad news; the good news will take care of itself".

We do have a few advantages, perhaps the greatest being that we don't have a strategic plan. Thus we feel no need to proceed in an ordained direction but can instead simply decide what makes sense for our owners.

We always mentally compare any move we are contemplating with dozens of other opportunities open to us. Our practice of making this comparison- acquisitions against passive investments –-is a discipline that managers focused simply on expansion seldom use.

We have no master strategy, no corporate planners delivering us insights about socioeconomic trends, and no staff to investigate a multitude of ideas presented by promoters and intermediaries. Instead, we simply hope that something sensible comes along-and, when it does, we act.

Loss of focus is what most worries Charlie and me.

Charlie and I know that the right players will make almost any team manager look good. We subscribe to the philosophy of Ogilvy & Mather's founding genius, David Ogilvy: “If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But, if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants."

Our experience has been that the manager of an already high-cost  operation frequently is uncommonly resourceful in finding new ways to add to overhead, while the manager of a tightly-run operation usually continues to find additional methods to curtail costs, even when his costs are already well below those of his competitors.

A compact organization lets all of us spend our time managing the business rather than managing each other.

Thirty years ago Tom Murphy, then CEO of Cap Cities, drove this point home to me with a hypothetical tale about an employee who asked his boss for permission to hire an assistant. The employee assumed that adding $20,000 to the annual payroll would be inconsequential. But his boss told him the proposal should be evaluated as a $3 million decision, given that an additional person would probably cost at least that amount over his lifetime, factoring in raises, benefits and other expenses (more people, more toilet paper). And unless the company fell on very hard times, the employee added would be unlikely to be dismissed, however marginal his contribution to the business.

In both business and investments it is usually far more profitable to simply stick with the easy and obvious than it is to resolve the difficult.

The most elusive of human goals- keeping things simple and remembering what you set out to do.

Stay with simple propositions.

Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money.

Tomorrow is always uncertain.

The less the prudence with which others conduct their affairs, the greater the prudence with which we should conduct our own affairs.

In allocating capital, activity does not correlate with achievement.

The roads of business are riddled with potholes; a plan that requires dodging them all is a plan for disaster.

Unquestionably, some people have become very rich through the use of borrowed money. However, that's also been a way to get very poor.

The trick is to learn most lessons from the experiences of others.

When a problem exists, whether in personnel or in business operations, the time to act is now.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Sep 02, 2021
#201 Isambard Kingdom Brunel: The Definitive Biography of The Engineer, Visionary, and Great Briton
01:13:32

What I learned from reading Isambard Kingdom Brunel: The Definitive Biography of The Engineer, Visionary, and Great Briton by L.T.C. Rolt.

1. His career was to him a tremendous adventure.

2. I have always made it a rule, which I have found by some years experience a safe and profitable one, to have nothing to do with newspaper articles.

3. It is consoling to be thus reminded that the lunatic fringe is a hardy perennial and not a phenomenon peculiar to our day and age.

4. The livelihood of anybody relying upon their penmanship is generally precarious.

5. One whose high spirits seemed quite impervious to cold and discomfort.

6. The ready wit and the gaiety concealed a fire and a power which would drive him, undeterred by repeated disappointments, to achieve fame and fortune.

7. The name of Isambard Brunel would not mean what it does today if he had not displayed the same characteristics of dogged persistence and an unlimited capacity for hard work which distinguish the self-taught engineers.

8. A great man achieves eminence by his capacity to live more fully and intensely than his fellows and in so doing his faults as well as his virtues become the more obvious.

9. It is not in freedom from faults but in the ability to transcend and master them that greatness lies.

10. Isambard Brunel threw into the work all that unsparing energy which was to distinguish his whole life. For as much as thirty-six hours at a time he would not leave the tunnel, pausing only for a brief cat-nap.

11. The Brunels were not men to sit down with folded hands and bewail their misfortune.

12. Spurred on by Brunel's unconquerable determination, the work went forward.

13. Iť's a gloomy perspective and yet bad as it is I cannot with all my efforts work myself up to be down hearted.

14. Never Despair has always been my motto – we may succeed yet. Persevere.

15. This time he was going to win, but it would be a great struggle.

16. He never lost faith in himself.

17. He determined then to make perfection of his work the supreme goal and from that resolve he never subsequently wavered.

18. He knew that it would be so because, as any artist or craftsman must, he had alrcady conccived the completed work in his imagination

19. For it was an inviolable rule of Brunel's that he would never, under any circumstances, accept an appointment which involved divided responsibility. In any work upon which he engaged there could be only one engineer and he must have the full responsibility for the work and for the conduct of his staff.

20. Plain, gentlemanly language seems to have no effect upon you. I must try stronger language and stronger measures. You are a cursed, lazy, inattentive, apathetic vagabond, and if you continue to neglect my instructions, and to show such infernal laziness, I shall send you about your business. I have frequently told you, amongst other absurd, untidy habits, that that of making drawings on the back of others was inconvenient; by your cursed neglect of that you have again wasted more of my time than your whole life is worth.

21. Experiment was the breath of life to Brunel and for him precedents only existed to be questioned.

22. Brunel rejected precedent and proceeded from first principles.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 30, 2021
#200 Against The Odds: An Autobiography of James Dyson and A History of Great Inventions
02:14:09

What I learned from rereading Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson and reading A History of Great Inventions by James Dyson. 

1. I am a creator of products, a builder of things, and my name appears love on them. That is how I make a living and they are what have made nom my name at least familiar in a million homes.

2. This is also the exposition of a business philosophy, which is very different from anything you might have encountered before.

3. It has all happened, I really believe, because of the intrinsic excellence of the machine; because it is a better vacuum cleaner than anything that has gone before; and because it looks better than anything like it has ever looked.

4. Perhaps millions of people, in the last few thousand years, have had ideas for improving it. All I did was take things a little further than just having the idea.

5. My own success has been in observing objects in daily use which, it was always assumed, could not be improved.

6. Anyone can become an expert in anything in six months, whether it is hydrodynamics for boats or cyclonic systems for vacuum cleaners. After the idea, there is plenty of time to learn the technology. My first cyclonic vacuum cleaner was built out of cereal packets and masking tape long before I understood how it worked.

7. The best kind of business is one where you can sell a product at a high price with a good margin, and in enormous volumes. For that you have to develop a product that works better and looks better than  existing ones. That type of investment is long term and high risk. Or at least, it looks like a high-risk policy. In the longer view, it is not half so likely to prove hazardous to one's financial health as simply following the herd.

8. Difference for the sake of it. In everything. Because it must be better. From the moment the idea strikes, to the running of the business. Difference, and retention of total control.

9. This is not even a business book. It is, if anything, a book against business, against the principles that have filled the world with ugly, useless objects, unhappy people, and brought the country to its economic knees. We all want to make our mark. We all want to make beautiful things and a little money. We all have our own ideas about how to do it. What follows just happens to be my way.

10. I have been a misfit throughout my professional life, and that seems to have worked to my advantage. Misfits are not born or made; they make themselves. 

11. I took on the big boys at their own game, made them look very silly, just by being true to myself.

12. Herb Elliot was a big name at the time, so I read a few books about him and discovered that his coach had told him that the way to develop stamina and strengthen the leg muscles was to run up and down sand dunes. This suited me fine, because if I had nothing else I certainly had sand dunes. Out there alone on the dunes I got a terrific buzz from knowing that I was doing something that no on one else was - they were all tucked up in bed at school. I knew that I was training myself to do something better than anyone else would be able to do.

13. The act of running itself was not something I enjoyed. The best you could say for it was that it was lonely and painful. But as I started to win by greater and greater margins I did it more and more, because I knew the reason for my success was that out on the sand dunes I was doing something that no one else was doing. Apart from me and Herb, no one knew. They were all running round and round the track like a herd of sheep and not getting any quicker. Difference itself was bon making me come first.

14. In so many ways it taught me the most significant lessons in all my youth. I was learning about the physical and psychological strength that keeps you competitive. I was learning about obstinacy. I was learning how to overcome nerves, and as I grew more and more neurotic about being caught from behind, I trained harder to stay in front. 

15. To this day it is the fear of failure, more than anything else, which makes me keep working at success.

16. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was unable to think small, and nothing  was a barrier to him. The mere fact that something had never been one before presented, to Brunel, no suggestion that the doing of it was impossible. He was fired by an inner strength and self-belief almost impossible to imagine in this feckless age. While I could never lay claim to the genius of a man like that —I have tried to be as confident in my vision as he was. And at times in my life when I have encountered difficulty and self-doubt I have looked to his example to fire me on.

17. I have tried, in my own way, to draw on Brunel's dream of applying emerging technology in ways as yet unimagined. He was never afraid to be different or shocking. He never shirked the battles with the money men, and he had to overcome the most incredible resistance to his ideas: when he applied the system of the screw propeller to a transatlantic steam ship he actually filled a boat with people and sent them across the sea. I have asked people only to push my inventions around, not to get inside them and try to float!

18. I have told myself, when people tried to make me modify my ideas, that the Great Western Railway could not have worked as anything but the vision of a single man, pursued with dogged determination that was nothing less than obsession.

19. Throughout my story I will try to return to Brunel, and to other designers and engineers, to show how identifying with them, and seeing parallels with every stage of my own life, enabled me to see my career as a whole and to know that it would all turn out the way it has.

20. I am led to the belief that, for 'vision' one might equally well read 'stubbornness'. At any stage in my story where I talk of vision, and arrogance seems to have got the better of me, remember that I am celebrating only my stubbornness. I am claiming nothing but the virtues of a mule.

21. And I suppose it was here that I learnt the crucial business principle that would guide my later attempts at making money from invention: the only way to make real money is to offer the public something entirely new, that has style value as well as substance, and which they cannot get anywhere else.

22. He did not, when an idea came to him, sit down and process it through pages of calculations; he didn't argue it through with anyone; he just went out and built it.

So it was that when I came to him, to say, 'I've had an idea,' he would offer no more advice than to say, 'You know where the workshop is, go and do it.' 

But we'll need to weld this thing,' I would protest. 'Well then, get a welder and weld it.' When I asked if we shouldn't talk to someone about, say, hydrodynamics, he would say, 'The lake is down there, the Land Rover is over there, take a plank of wood down to the lake, tow it behind a boat and look at what happens.'

23. Now, this was not a modus operandi that I had encountered before. College had taught me to revere experts and expertise. Fry ridiculed all that; as far as he was concerned, with enthusiasm and intelligence anything was possible. It was mind-blowing. No research, no 'workings', no preliminary sketches. If it didn't work one way he would just try it another way, until it did. And as we proceeded I could see that we were getting on extremely quickly. The more I observed his method, the more it fascinated me.

24. But I learnt then one of the most crucial business lessons of my life: to stint on investment in the early stages, to try to sell a half-finished product, is to doom from the start any project you embark on.

25. People do not want all purpose; they want high-tech specificity.

26. You simply cannot mix your messages when selling something new. A consumer can barely handle one great new idea, let alone two, or even several.

27. I set off around the world to start selling it properly. It was time spent away from designing, but it was to teach me, above all else, that only by trying to sell the thing you have made yourself, by dealing with consumers' problems and the product's failings as they arise, can you really come to understand what you have done, to bond with your invention to improve it. 

28. Only the man who has brought the thing into the world can presume to foist it on others, and demand a heavy price, with all his heart.

29. It was an interesting lesson in psychology, teaching me that the entrenched professional is always going to resist far longer than the private consumer.

30. One decent editorial counts for a thousand advertisements.

31. In following his advice to abandon direct selling and supply shops via wholesalers, we began to lose that contact with the consumer that was the basis of our success.

32. One of the strains of this book is about control. If you have the intimate knowledge of a product that comes with dreaming it up and then designing it, I have been trying to say, then you will be the better able to sell it and then, reciprocally, to go back to it and improve it. From there you are in the best possible position to convince others of its greatness and to inspire others to give their very best efforts to developing it, and to remain true to it, and to see it through all the way to its optimum point. To total fruition, if you like.

33. That is what development is all about. Empirical testing demands that you only ever make one change at a time. It is the Edisonian principle, and it is bloody slow. It is a thing that takes me ages to explain to my graduate employees at Dyson, but it is so important. They tend to leap in to tests, making dozens of radical changes and then stepping back to test their new masterpiece. How do they know which change has improved it, and which hasn't?

34. While it is easy, of course, for me to celebrate my doggedness now and say that it is all you need to succeed, the truth is that it demoralized me terribly. I would crawl into the house every night covered in dust after a long day, exhausted and depressed because that day's cyclone had not worked. There were times when I thought it would never work, that I would keep on making cyclone after cyclone, never going forwards, never going backwards, until I died.

35. Everyday products sell. Although it is harder to improve a mature product, if you succeed there is no need to create a market. 

36. Try out current products in your own home, and make a list of things that you don't like about them – I found about twenty things wrong with my Hoover Junior at the first attempt.

37. No one ever had an idea staring at a drawing board.

38. Painful but true. Breaking the mould will upset people. Challenging sitting tenants will be tough. It will take longer than you ever imagined. Ten years of development? Do you fancy that? And then negotiations on a knife edge, a shoestring, and hanging by a thread? It will take balls.

39. Total control. From the first sprouting of the idea, through research and development, testing and prototyping, model making and engineering drawings, tooling, production, sales and marketing, all the way into the homes of the nation, it is most likely to succeed if the original visionary (or mule) sees it right through. As I have often said, I aim not to be clever, but to be dogged.

40. I need to sleep a hell of a lot, you see. Ten hours a night or the whole day is useless.

41. We also scooted to number one so silently because our profile was raised more by editorial coverage than by paid-for advertising. Apart from being cheaper, this is much more effective, because it carries more of the weight of objective truth than a bought space. But in terms of visibility it is less popularising, while being more efficient in selling to those to whom it is exposed, because those prospectively in the market will be drawn to it. It is also out of your control—you cannot make journalists write about you, and I have never tried. And, when they have, I have never sought to influence what they write and have never asked to see their copy before publication. They take me, or the products, as we are, and I have to hope they like us.

42. It is one of the virtues of having such a strange—looking product, however, that journalists are more likely to take an interest in it.

43. If you make something, sell it yourself.

44. Companies are built, not made.

45. You are just as likely to solve a problem by being unconventional and determined as by being brilliant. And if you can't of be unconventional, be obtuse. Be deliberately obtuse, because there are 5 billion people out there thinking in train tracks, and thinking what they have been taught to think.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 27, 2021
#199 Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life
01:03:44

What I learned from reading Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie.

'When my customers come to me, they like to cross the threshold of some magic place; they feel a satisfaction that is perhaps a trace vulgar but that delights them: they are privileged characters who are incorporated into our legend. For them this is a far greater pleasure than ordering another suit. Legend is the consecration of fame.” —Coco Chanel, 1935

Her father soon left them, discontented with marriage and fatherhood.

The dead are not dead as long as we think of them.

I like talking to myself and I don't listen to what I'm told.

Gabrielle spent seven years in the orphanage, until she was 18. Her father never returned to see her or her siblings.

I was thoroughly unhappy. I fed on sorrow and horror. I wanted to kill myself I don't know how many times.

And having to hear people call me an orphan! They felt sorry for me. All this was humiliating.

She was one of the charity pupils who were provided with a free place, and therefore treated differently to those whose family could afford to pay for their education. It was here, too, that she was given further instruction in how to sew.

She sought to define herself by her idiosyncratic choice of clothes.

She distanced herself from the past in storytelling. For telling stories is a way in which to imagine a happy-ever-after.

What she did want was to earn her own living.

They didn't understand how important this was to me.

Coco made hats that were stripped of embellishments, of the frills that she dismissed as weighing a woman down.

Coco began to edge her way to the centre of attention, elbowing past her rivals and competitors.

Paul Poiret, whose fame at the time was such that he dubbed himself the 'King of Fashion', said of Chanel's early days as a milliner, 'We ought to have been on guard against that boyish head. It was going to give us every kind of shock, and produce, out of its little conjuror's hat, gowns and coiffures and jewels and boutiques.’

I often fainted. I had too much emotion, too much excitement, I lived too intensely. My nerves couldn't stand it.

The House of Chanel seemed to give her stability.

I am not here to have fun, or to spend money like water. I am here to make a fortune.

She rejoiced in her independence.

I was my own master and I depended on myself alone.

Chanel was neither slave girl nor wife, but something of her own making.

The little black dress wasn't formally identified as the shape of the future until 1926, when American Vogue published a drawing of a Chanel design, and announced: 'Here is a Ford signed Chanel.' It was simple yet elegant sheath, in black, with long narrow sleeves, worn with a string of white pearls; and Vogue proved to be correct in the prediction that it would become a uniform, as widely recognised as a Ford automobile; fast and sleek and discreet.

I imposed black; it's still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.

She did not see herself as an artist – she repeatedly described herself as an artisan who 'works with her hand' - and yet her precision and commitment to her craft was reminiscent of Reverdy.

Coco was always contrary.

Chanel N°5 was the solid foundation of her empire. N°5 was multiplied a million times over - and more, far more - in a dizzying proliferation that made Coco Chanel rich and recognised around the world, so that her name became a brand, and her face as famous as her logo.

She surreptitiously sprayed the women who passed their table with the new perfume. “You've got to be able to lead them by the nose.”

Each tormented the other at different points in their lives, with such antagonism that Pierre had to employ a full-time lawyer simply to deal with her.

She was both a copyist, and much copied.

Coco is really strong being fit to rule a man or an Empire. —Winston Churchill, 1927

Chanel's deft designs were not without precedents. Nor did she invent its associated fashions. But as was often the case in her career as a designer, she was quick to distil its essence, absorbing it into her own style, and selling it to customers eager for her clothes.

It is immoral to play at earning one's living.

I am only a little dress-maker, trying to make women young and pretty. These other designers that do the pretty little sketches, the boys, they don't understand women, they don't know how they live. Their idea is to make them weird, freaks.

When I showed it in Paris, I had many critics. They said that I was old-fashioned, that I was no longer of the age. Always I was smiling inside my head, and I thought, I will show them.

She devotes her energies to barely noticeable refinements of detail of her suits and dresses.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 20, 2021
#198 The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets
01:15:04

What I learned from reading The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets by Niall Ferguson.

A business can only be managed well if one pays as much attention to the smaller business transactions as one does to the larger ones.

All banks have histories, only the Rothschilds have a mythology. 

Ever since the second decade of the nineteenth century, there has been speculation about the origins and extent of the family's wealth; about the social implications of their meteoric upward mobility; about their political influence, not only in the five countries where there were Rothschild houses but throughout the world.

Unlike modern multinationals, however, this was always a family firm.

Perhaps the most important point to grasp about this multinational partnership is that, for most of the century between 1815 and 1914, it was easily the biggest bank in the world. 

In terms of their combined capital, the Rothschilds were in a league of their own. The twentieth century no equivalent.

What exactly was the business the Rothschilds did? To answer these questions properly it is necessary to understand something of nineteenth-century public finance; for it was by lending to governments or by speculating in existing government bonds-that the Rothschilds made a very large part of their colossal fortune.

It was war and the preparation for war which generally precipitated the biggest increases in expenditure.

It was in this highly volatile context that the Rothschilds made the decisive leap from running two modest firms—a small merchant bank in Frankfurt and a cloth exporters in Manchester—to running a multinational financial partnership.

The system they developed enabled British investors (and other rich "capitalists” in Western Europe) to invest in the debts of those states by purchasing internationally tradeable, fixed-interest bearer bonds. The significance of this system for nineteenthcentury history cannot be over-emphasised. For this growing international bond  market brought together Europe's true “capitalists": that elite of people wealthy enough to be able to tie up money in such assets, and shrewd enough to appreciate the advantages of such assets as compared with traditional forms of holding wealth (land, venal office and so on). Bonds were liquid.

The Rothschilds spent so much time, energy and money maintaining the best possible relations with the leading political figures of the day.

They constantly strove to accelerate the speed with which information could be relayed from their agents to them. They relied on their own system of couriers and relished their ability to obtain political news ahead of the European diplomatic services.

The primary concern of this book is therefore to explain the origins and development of one of the biggest and most unusual businesses in the history of modern capitalism.

The history of the firm is inseparable from the history of the family.

Inevitably, there were conflicts between the collective ambitions of the family, so compellingly spelt out by Mayer Amschel before he died, and the wishes of the individuals who happened to be born Rothschilds, few of whom shared the founder's relentless appetite for work and profits.

There are few major political figures in nineteenth-century history who do not feature in the index of this book.

"I see in Rothschild," he went on, "one of the greatest revolutionaries who have founded modern democracy": Rothschild destroyed the predominance of land, by raising the system of state bonds to supreme power, thereby mobilizing property and income and at the same time endowing money with the previous privileges of the land. He thereby created a new aristocracy.

All the copies of the outgoing letters from the London partners were destroyed at the orders of senior partners.

Nathan was a fiercely ambitious and competitive man.

The merchants who are well organised are the ones who get very rich, and the ones who are disorganised are the ones who go broke.

In a market crowded with numerous small businesses, subject to rapid fluctuations in prices and interest rates and almost completely unregulated, it took a combination of burning aggression and cool calculation to survive and thrive. Nathan Rothschild possessed both in abundance.

Nathan felt himself almost at war with his business rivals.

Nowadays everybody calls himself 'Excellency.' I remember, however, what our father used to say, With money you become an Excellency.

Father used to say, If you can't make yourself loved, make yourself feared.

We owe not only our wealth but also our honourable position in society primarily to the spirit of unity and cooperation that binds together all our partners, bank houses and establishments.

Playing hide and seek with the authorities was becoming second nature to the brothers. Indeed, even their sons were already being taught to attach importance to secrecy.

Nathan had only one concern: business.

Nathan gloried in his ascetic: After dinner I usually have nothing to do. I do not read books, I do not play cards, I do not go to the theatre, my only pleasure is my business.

Our old established practice of buying some gold whenever we can find any.

Contemporaries found Nathan Rothschild an intimidating man: coarse to the point of downright rudeness in manner.

Such bruising encounters in the office were later distilled into the famous "two chairs" joke, probably the most frequently reprinted Rothschild joke: An eminent visitor is shown into Rothschild's office; without looking up from his desk, Rothschild casually invites him to "take a chair." "Do you realise whom you are addressing?" exclaims the affronted dignitary. Rothschild still does not look up: "So take two chairs.”

To give mind, and soul, and heart, and body, and everything to business; that is the way to be happy. I required a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune; and when you have got it, it requires ten times as much wit to keep it.

Stick to one business, young man. Stick to your brewery and you may be the great brewer of London. Be a brewer, and a banker, and a merchant, and a manufacturer, and you will soon be bankrupt.

When a guest at the same dinner expressed the hope "that your children are not too fond of money and business, to the exclusion of more important things. I am sure you would not wish that," Nathan retorted bluntly: "I am sure I should wish that."

This man is really a complete original.

He and his brothers recognised that there might be a conflict between higher education and a successful business apprenticeship.

I advise you not to let him study more than another two years so that he should enter the business when 17 years old. Otherwise he would not be deeply attached to business.

No one could conceive that the man who, since the death of his father in 1812, had been the unquestioned leader of the house of Rothschild, might die at the very height of his powers.

All that mattered was that they should hold together in unity.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 18, 2021
#197 Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild
01:17:22

What I learned from reading Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild by Amos Elon. 

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Riches cover a multitude of woes.

Only a few crumbling bricks are left today of the dark, foul-smelling alley in Frankfurt where, in the second half of the eighteenth century, a disenfranchised Jew named Meyer Rothschild founded a European banking dynasty.

Rothschild was a man of seemingly inexhaustible energy and ingenuity.

He raised five famously gifted sons, veritable money-making machines, to carry on his work after him. Their names overshadowed his own and became synonymous with colossal wealth, extravagant living and hidden political power.

A century after his death they would still ask, in all seriousness, if a great war was still possible in Europe if the House of Rothschild set their face against it.

Rothschild's origins were certainly modest. There was little reason to foresee his destiny. The personal circumstances of his life were difficult throughout. They suggest a saga not only political and financial but also human and dramatic – more dramatic, perhaps, than that of his flamboyant sons. The sons were not persecuted human beings, legally confined to the squalor of a congested ghetto.

The old ghetto where Rothschild lived his entire life was a narrow lane, more slum-like and overcrowded than any other tenements in Frankfurt. A closed compound, it was shut off from the rest of the city by high walls and three heavy gates. The gates were guarded by soldiers and were locked at night, and all day on Sundays. In it lived the largest Jewish community in Germany in conditions of almost total isolation, and apartheid.

How they managed to survive under these circumstances and at times even to prosper was a mark of human enterprise and ingenuity.

Every petty principality minted its own currency. The only coins from outside the city that were accepted as payment were those which had the same silver content as the Frankfurt gulden. All others had to be exchanged before a purchase could be made. Constant variations in the exchange rates offered knowledgeable moneychangers ample opportunity to profit.

The spirit of the place was workaday and businesslike. A city ruled "by the God of this world – Money".

At home, from an early age, he was apprenticed in the family business. Everybody in the family, boys and girs, were expected to help.

As a thirteen-year-old orphan, with a few coins in his pocket, the future tycoon launched out alone into the world.

Besides learning the rudiments of the financial business, Rothschild broadened his knowledge of rare and antique Jews were disencoins and historic medals. Coins had fascinated him since early childhood.

He was acquiring a certain amount of historical knowledge without which he might not have been able to find his way. Coins and medals attracted collectors who often bought them as an investment. By the time he was eighteen, he had become something of an expert. He read every other book or paper he could find on the subject.

Selling a few old coins could not possibly make him rich., But it was a means to establish contacts with persons of wealth, power and importance. Such a person was the young Crown-Prince Wilhelm, who would play a decisive role in Rothschild's future career. Wilhelm was the presumptive heir to his father's vast fortune. His pedigree was one of the finest in Europe.

Rothschild threw himself into his business with determination and zest.

He ran something like a mail-order business. In 1771 he published the first of several printed coin catalogues which he sent out during the next twenty years at regular intervals to potential customers all over Germany.

He brought to his work a certain natural flair, a knowledge of human nature and a capacity to generate trust.

As a rule, he preferred to minimize profits in the hope of increasing turnover and consequently his prices were often lower that those of other dealers. He was ready to lower them even more, at times even at a small loss, in the hope of more profitable business in the future.

Thrifty Guttle Rothschild spent only a fraction of this annual income on her household; a large part was pumped back into the business.

There was little, if any, visible wealth. The family's modest lifestyle did not reflect the true extent of Rothschild's accumulated riches, which he continued to channel back into the business. Rothschild had an inborn compulsion to hide his wealth.

Long after his death one of his sons quoted him as saying: "Something three people know about is no more a secret".

He shunned all conspicuous displays of wealth.

He practised his old policy of maximizing volume by minimizing profits. His competitors, who for decades had handled the affairs of the landgraves of Hesse, were gradually squeezed out. By 1807 Rothschild enjoyed a near monopoly.

No one in the family was idle.

Yet as a critical and strict father, he also anguished over Nathan's casualness and disorganized work habits. A lack of order would make a beggar out of a millionaire.

While other bankers mostly awaited orders to reach them, Rothschild went out to solicit them.

It paid homage to their father's "proven industry, good business sense and experience, who through his tireless activity from youth to advanced age, was the sole cause for the present flourishing state of the business and the worldly happiness of his children".

They reflected an overriding desire to perpetuate unity among the brothers, prevent the dispersion of capital and retain, as far as possible, the compact, disciplined, well co-ordinated character of the family firm.

His astonishing concentration on business continued as before.

His main concern in his last hours was to secure the continued happiness and prosperity of his sons. He knew that riches came and went. He had seen in his lifetime fortunes dissipate through waste, vanity or infighting among heirs. Fortunes, he warned Amschel: do not keep longer than two generations.For two reasons: one, because house-keeping and other expenses are not considered; two, because of stupidity.

He urged his "dear children to relate to one another with mutual love and friendship". He knew his sons were strong-willed, difficult, impulsive men. He was afraid of their tempers. On his deathbed he urged them once more to remain united at all cost. It had become an obsession with him. He said on his deathbed: Amschel, keep your brothers together and you will become the richest men in Germany.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 11, 2021
#196 Winston Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
01:19:18

What I learned from reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. 

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I  wondered how on earth anyone could have endured it: fifty-seven consecutive nights of bombing, followed by an intensifying series of nighttime raids over the next six months. In particular I thought about Winston Churchill: How did he withstand it? 

It is one to say "Carry on," quite another to do it.

History is a lively abode, full of surprises.

The only effective defense lay in offense.

The king harbored a general distrust of Churchill's independence.

He had lived his entire life for this moment. That it had come at such a dark time did not matter. If anything, it made his appointment all the more exquisite.

At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.

Churchill brought a naked confidence that under his leadership Britain would win the war, even though any objective appraisal would have said he did not have a chance. 

Churchill knew that his challenge now was to make everyone else believe it too.

He considered Churchill to be inclined toward dynamic action in every direction at once.

"If I had to spend my whole life with a man," she wrote, "I'd choose Chamberlain, but I think I would sooner have Mr Churchill if there was a storm and I was shipwrecked.”

Churchill was flamboyant, electric, and wholly unpredictable.

Churchill issued directives in brief memoranda.

No detail was too small to draw his attention.

Churchill was particularly insistent that ministers compose memoranda with brevity and limit their length to one page or less. "It is slothful not to compress your thoughts," he said.

Anything that was not of immediate importance and a concern to him was of no value.

Churchill wanted Germans to "bleed and burn."

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

In the Churchill household defeatist talk inspired only rage.

"It would be foolish to disguise the gravity of the hour," Churchill said. "It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage.”

Churchill said, "We shall not hesitate to take every step-even the most drastic-to call forth from our people the last ounce and inch of effort of which they are capable.”

Recognizing that confidence and fearlessness were attitudes that could be adopted and taught by example, Churchill issued a directive to all ministers to put on a strong, positive front.
 

If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.

Churchill demonstrated a striking trait: his knack for making people feel loftier, stronger, and, above all, more courageous. 

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

He had been fond of quoting a French maxim: "One leads by calm."

“Your idle & lazy life is very offensive to me," Churchill wrote. "You appear to be leading a perfectly useless existence." 

So confident was Hitler that England would negotiate, he demobilized 25 percent of his army. But Churchill was not behaving like a sane man.

Churchill’s message was clear. “We shall not stop fighting until freedom, for ourselves and others, is secure.”

Nothing must now be said which would disturb morale or lead people to think that we should not fight it out here."

It typified the uniquely unpredictable magic that was Churchill—his ability to transform the despondent misery of disaster into a grimly certain stepping stone to ultimate victory.

There was still no sign that Churchill was beginning to waver.

When raids occurred, he dispatched his staff to the shelter below but did not himself follow, returning instead to his desk to continue working.

Churchill did many things well, but waiting was not one of them.

Churchill’s resilience continued to perplex German leaders. "When will that creature Churchill finally surrender?" 

Brush aside despondency and alarm and push on irresistibly towards the final goal.

Goebbels confessed in his diary to feeling a new respect for Churchill. "This man is a strange mixture of heroism and cunning. If he had come to power in 1933, we would not be where we are today. And I believe that he will give us a few more problems yet. He is not to be taken as lightly as we usually take him.

To be stupid about one's life is a crime.

She told Churchill that the best thing he had done was to give people courage. He did not agree. "I never gave them courage," he said. "I was able to focus theirs.”

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Aug 07, 2021
#195 Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games
01:13:50

What I learned from reading Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games by Sid Meier. 

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Sometimes it takes a misstep to figure out where you should be headed.

Each game taught me something, each game was both painful and gratifying in its own way, and each game contributed to what came after it.

We are surrounded by decisions, and therefore games, in everything we do.
 

If my gravestone reads "Sid Meier, creator of Civilization" and nothing else, I'll be fine with that. It's a good game to be known for, and I'm proud of the positive impact it's had on so many players' lives.

There was no such thing as a retail computer game, only free bits of code passed  between hobbyists, so it would have been difficult for me to harbor secret dreams of becoming a professional computer game designer.

"I could design a better game in two weeks." “Then do it," he insisted, "If you can do it, I can sell it."

At the time it felt like a fun project, but not any sort of life-changing decision. The big moments rarely do, I think, and the danger of retroactive mythologizing is that it makes people want to hold out for something dramatic, rather than throwing themselves into every opportunity.



As soon as the articles were published, Bill began placing calls to hobby stores that were farther than driving distance away.

"Hello, I'm looking to buy a copy of Hellcat Ace.

"Hmm, I don't think we carry that one"

"What?" he would fume. "What kind of computer store are you? Didn't you see the review in Antic?" Then he would hang up in a huff, muttering about taking his business elsewhere.

A week later he would call again, pretending to be somebody else. And a third time a week after that. 

Finally, on the fourth week, he'd use his professional voice. "Good afternoon, I'm a representative from MicroProse Software, and I'd like to show you our latest game, Hellcat Ace." Spurred by the imaginary demand, they would invite him in.



My appetite for making games was growing stronger. 

I never forgot that moment. My mother had become emotionally invested in this little game, so profoundly that she'd had to abandon it entirely.

Games could make you feel. If great literature could wield its power through nothing but black squiggles on a page, how much more could be done with movement, sound, and color? The potential for emotional interaction through this medium struck me as both fascinating and enticing.

Were there people who got paid for making games? Could I be one of those people? I knew by now that I was a person who would make games, probably for the rest of my life, but it had never occurred to me that it could be a source of income. If that were true, then being a game designer seemed like the ideal job.

I was cautious about giving up my steady paycheck, and still not convinced that this dream was going to last.

Quality content was the driving force behind it all.

All that mattered to me was that I got to make games for a living.

I don't think any of us could have imagined back then the kind of cultural domination that gaming would someday achieve.

Robin Williams pointed out that all the other entertainment industries promoted their stars by name, so why should gaming be any different?

A pirate's career would last about forty years between childhood and old age, and his goal was to accomplish as much as he could in that window-to have an adventurous life with no regrets.

Life is not a steady progression of objectively increasing value, and when you fail, you don't just reload the mission again. You knock the wet sand off your breeches and return to the high seas for new adventures. And if you happen to get marooned on a deserted island a few times, well, that makes for a good tavern story, too.

I'd always had a distaste for business deals in general, simply because it's not the kind of thing I want to spend my day doing, but I was starting to realize that there was potential danger in them as well.

People play games to feel good about themselves.

Age and experience may bring wisdom, but sometimes it's useful to be a young person who hasn't learned how to doubt himself yet.

Sid Meier makes a pathetic Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he makes a magnificent Sid Meier.

Deciding what doesn't go into the game is sometimes more important than deciding what does.

Conventional wisdom said a strategy title would never make the big money. (Sid sold 51 million copies)

They were interacting with the game as a tool, rather than an experience.

Good games don't get made by committee.

What I didn't see at the time is that imagination never diminishes reality; it only heightens it.

The dichotomy between someone else's talent and your own is a cause for celebration, because the further apart you are, the more you can offer each other.

This is not to say that my version of Civilization had no outside influences—far from it. Aside from the general "creating not destroying" concept I had first encountered in SimCity, there were two games that I very much respected, and blatantly took ideas from to use for my own purposes.

The ideas didn't start with us, and they can't end with us either.

Whatever it is you want to be good at, you have to make sure you continue to read, and learn, and seek joy elsewhere, because you never know where inspiration will strike.

A full 70 percent of Candy Crush Saga users have never paid a dime for the game yet it still brings in several million dollars a day.

So many of our wildest dreams have turned out to be laughably conservative that it's hard to write off anything as impossible.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jul 31, 2021
#194 Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures
01:17:34

What I learned from reading Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 27, 2021
#193 Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Education of a Bodybuilder
00:58:46

What I learned from reading Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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I knew I was going to be a bodybuilder. It wasn't simply that either. I would be the best bodybuilder in the world, the greatest.

I'm not exactly sure why I chose bodybuilding, except that I loved it. I loved it from the first moment my fingers closed around a barbell and I felt the challenge and exhilaration of hoisting the heavy steel plates above my head.

The only time I really felt rewarded was when I was singled out as being best.

I had it tougher than a lot of my companions because I wanted more, I demanded more of myself.

I was literally addicted.

I learned that this pain meant progress. Each time my muscles were sore from a workout, I knew they were growing.

I could not have chosen a less popular sport. My school friends thought I was crazy. But I didn't care. My only thoughts were of  going ahead, building muscles and more muscles.

I remember certain people trying to put negative thoughts into my mind, trying to persuade me to slow down. But I had found the thing to which I wanted to devote my total energies and there was no stopping me.

My drive was unusual, I talked differently than my friends; I was hungrier for success than anyone I knew.

Reg Park looked so magnificent in the role of Hercules I was transfixed. And, sitting there in the theater, I knew that was going to be me. I would look like Reg Park. I studied every move he made. From that point on, my life was utterly dominated by Reg Park. His image was my ideal. It was fixed indelibly in my mind.

I had this insatiable drive to get there sooner. Whereas most people were satisfied to train two or three times a week, I quickly escalated my program to six workouts a week.

With my desire and my drive, I definitely wasn't normal. Normal people can be happy with a regular life. I was different. I felt there was more to life than just plodding through an average existence. 

I'd always been impressed by stories of greatness and power. Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon were names I knew and remembered. I wanted to do something special, to be recognized as the best.

My dreams went beyond a spectacular body. Once I had that, I knew what it would do for me. I'd get into the movies and build gymnasiums all over the world. I'd create an empire.

This inspired me to work even harder. When I felt my lungs burning as though they would burst and my veins bulging with blood, I loved it. I knew then that I was growing, making one more step toward becoming like Reg Park. I wanted that body and I didn't care what I had to go through to get it.

My weight room was not heated, so naturally in cold weather it was freezing. I didn't care. I trained without heat, even on days when the temperature went below zero.

From the beginning, I was a believer in the basic movements.

Most of the people I knew didn't really understand what I was doing at all.

My mind was totally locked into working out, and I was annoyed if anything took me away from it.

I started this practice early in my career and continued it for as long as it served to help me maintain a clear focus and drive myself toward a fixed point.

In two or three years I had actually been able to change my body entirely. That told me something. If I had been able to change my body that much, I could also, through the same discipline and determination, change anything else I wanted.

I know that if you can change your diet and exercise program to give yourself a different body, you can apply the same principles to anything else.

Every day I hear someone say, "I'm too fat. I need to lose twenty-five pounds, but I can't. I never seem to improve." I'd hate myself if I had that kind of attitude, if I were that weak.

By observing the principles of strict discipline that bodybuilding taught me, I can prepare myself for anything.

My desire to build my body and be Mr. Universe was totally beyond their comprehension. 

I listened only to my inner voice, my instincts.

Even people's ideas were small. There was too much contentment, too much acceptance of things as they'd always been.

I felt I was already one of the best in the world. Obviously, I wasn't even in the top 5,000; but in my mind I was the best.

At that point my own thinking was tuned in to only one thing: becoming Mr. Universe. In my own mind, I was Mr. Universe; I had this absolutely clear vision of myself up on the dais with the trophy. It was only a matter of time before the whole world would be able to see it too. And it made no difference to me how much I had to struggle to get there.

They paid and came to the gym. But it was a disgusting, superficial effort on their part. They merely went through the motions, doing sissy workouts, pampering themselves.

I went right down the line, trying to figure out who I might beat. I got to eighth or ninth place and figured I might have a chance if I tried hard enough. It was a loser's way of looking at it. I defeated myself before I even entered, before I'd even completed the year's training. But I was young. I hadn't yet pulled together my ideas about positive thinking and the powers of the mind over the muscles.

Once I was over the initial disappointment of losing, I began trying to understand exactly why I had lost. I tried to be honest, to analyze it fairly. I still had some serious weaknesses. For me, that was a real turning point.

I was relying on one thing. What I had more than anyone else was drive. I was hungrier than anybody. I wanted it so badly it hurt. I knew there could be no one else in the world who wanted this title as much as I did.

I had thought perhaps he had some special exercises, but that wasn’t true. He concentrated on the standard exercises. That was his "secret" —concentration.

Being around Yorton [the winner] backstage for a few minutes made me painfully aware of my own shortcomings.

They asked when I was going to get a real job, when I was going to become stable. "Is this what we raised," they asked, "a bum?"

I continued doing precisely what I knew I needed to do. In my mind, there was only one possibility for me and that was to go to the top, to be the best. Everything else was just a means to that end.

If I expected to make it big in the field, I had to become a showman.

I had a photographer take pictures at least once a month. I studied each shot with a magnifying glass.

I started training in an area where there were no distractions. That gave me enough time to concentrate and find out what bodybuilding was really all about.

I was determined and constant. I never wanted to pause or stop training.

I sacrificed a lot of things most bodybuilders didn’t want to give up. I just didn't care, I wanted to win more than anything. And whatever it took to do it, I did.

You are a winner, Arnold. I wrote this down and put it where I would see it. I repeated it a dozen times a day.

I had lists and charts of the things I needed to concentrate on pasted all over. I looked at them every day before I began working out. It became a twenty-four-hour-a-day job; I had to think about it all the time.

We made it a regular thing. We brought girls out there to cook. We made a fire outdoors and turned the whole thing into a little contest. We worked hard but we had a good time. After the muscle-shocking sessions we drank wine and beer and got drunk and carried on like the old-time weight lifters back in the 1800s or early 1900s. Sometimes it became pure insanity.

It was a great time. We cooked shish kebab, sat around the fire, and made love. We got into this trip that we were gladiators, male animals. We swam naked out in nature, had all this food, wine and women; we ate like animals and acted like animals. We got off on it so much it became a weekly routine-eating fresh meat and drinking wine and exercising.

It's important that you like what you do, and we loved it.

They weren't mentally prepared for intensive championship training; they weren't thinking about it. I knew the secret: Concentrate while you're training. Do not allow other thoughts to enter your mind.

When I went to the gym I got rid of every alien thought in my mind.

I knew that if I went in there concerned about bills or girls and let myself think about those things I'd make only marginal progress.

It was then I started seriously analyzing what happens to the body when the mind is tuned in, how important a positive attitude is.

53. I began looking at the difference between me and other bodybuilders. The biggest difference was that most bodybuilders did not think I'm going to be a winner. They never allowed themselves to think in those terms. I would hear them complaining while they were training, “Oh, no, not another set!" Most of the people I observed couldn't make astonishing advances because they never had faith in themselves.

They had a hazy picture of what they wanted to look like someday, but they doubted they could realize it. That destroyed them. It's always been my belief that if you're training for nothing, you're wasting your effort. Ultimately, they didn't put out the kind of effort I did because they didn't feel they had a chance to make it, And of course, starting with that premise, they didn't.

You talk yourself into it. You tell yourself you are going to be the hero.

I came in second. That did a little number on my mind. I went away from the auditorium overwhelmed, crushed. I remember the words that kept going through my head: "I'm away from home, in this strange city, in America, and I'm a loser." I cried all night because of it. I had disappointed all my friends, everybody, especially myself. It was awful. I felt it was the end of the world.

Business fascinates me. I get caught up in the whole idea that it's a game to make money and to make money make more money.

Now I had to reach out to the general public, to people who knew nothing about bodybuilding, and educate them to the benefits of weight training.

Working in the same way I had to build my body, I wanted to create an empire. I felt I was equipped to go ahead with my own enterprises.

I've come to realize that almost anything difficult, any challenge, takes time, patience and hard work, like building up for a 300-pound bench press. Learning that gave me plenty of positive energy to use later on. I taught myself discipline. I could apply that discipline to everyday life.

Gradually a conflict grew up in our relationship. She was a well-balanced woman who wanted an ordinary, solid life, and I was not a well-balanced man and hated the very idea of ordinary life. She had thought I would settle down, that I would reach the top in my field and level off. But that's a concept that has no place in my thinking. For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.

The same with business. I'm so determined to make millions of dollars that I cannot fail. In my mind I've already made the millions; now it's just a matter of going through the motions.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 22, 2021
#192 The Untold Story of UPS and Founder Jim Casey
01:07:40

What I learned from reading Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. 

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Casey pursued a Spartan business philosophy that emphasized military discipline, drab uniforms, and reliability over flash.

I had heard stories about the company's tireless founder. He was a living legend. Jim Casey started working from the age of eleven to support a family of five.

Casey began at the bottom. He speedily delivered messages and packages on foot. Casey learned about efficiency by doing.

Seconds saved become minutes over the day and a few minutes each day mean big dollars.

To outsiders the UPS regime has always seemed excessive.

People have always bought more than they could carry, and a hundred years ago they had no cars to help them out. When Jim Casey and his partners began their delivery service, it served only department stores, and the UPS role was to complete the stores' retail transactions.

Humility was one of Jim Casey's most strongly held values.

Our real, primary objective is to serve. To render perfect service to our stores and their customers. If we keep that objective constantly in mind, our reward in money can be beyond our fondest dreams.

Service is the sum of many little things done well.

Good management is taking a sincere interest in the welfare of the people you work with. It is the ability to make individuals feel that you and they are the company–not merely employees of it.

Jim Casey watched the streets carefully. He watched movement. He watched what people sold and what people bought. He was an eternal puzzle solver, his mind constantly preoccupied by every sensory detail involving his core business, packages. He gravitated to them, mesmerized by how they were wrapped and how they were delivered.

When traveling between meetings Casey would frequently tell his driver to stop when he saw a UPS delivery in progress. Without identifying himself, Casey would ask UPS drivers what they thought of their job. He'd listen carefully and consider their answers seriously. These informal "man on the street" interviews became an invaluable way for him to assess the efficiency of UPS delivery operations in a way that a UPS manager's filtered version could not.

Jim Casey's office was a small stark room, occupied only by a desk, several chairs, and a coat tree. His door was never closed.

His answer for sluggish layers of management was decentralization, and his attitude toward employees was an unwavering belief in and respect for the individual.

Money and prestige did not push him. Excellence did.

Casey's personal code was discipline.

Hardly a shining star, Jim Casey was more a steadily burning flame.

Distill Jim Casey's lifelong message to its essence and you get: Neatness, humility, frugality, dependability, safety, strong work ethic, integrity.

This unassuming ascetic with an iron will based his company and his every move on ethics that he learned as a child. Jim Casey's parents greeted hardship with grit and ingenuity.

Jim was by then old enough to apprehend his parents' mounting anxiety, to understand that his father was not healthy by comparison with other men. The worried atmosphere undoubtedly had effect.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the number of American children in the workforce reached staggering proportions. Over two million children worked in mines, factories, and sweatshops, many in appalling conditions.

For the Caseys, there was no alternative. It was critical. With two younger brothers to protect and a mother and an ailing father to support, eleven-year-old Jim Casey had developed a maturity that belied his age. His family was in precarious straits, and it was up to him to solve the problem.

He worked more than ten and a half hours a day, and longer on Saturdays, starting at $3 a week. [He is 11]

He picked up and delivered telegrams, mail, and packages —working from 7 P.M. until 7 A.M.

It wasn't all telegrams. Many of the night calls were drug addicts summoning a messenger to help replenish their stash.

During winters, it rained and rained. Jim was often cold and wet. Wealthy people could afford fancy hotels. Jim often looked with envy at them through the windows, as they sat in the big hotel chairs looking out onto the rain from warm lobbies.

Thompson shot and killed Moritz. [Jim’s partner]The cold-blooded murder left the other two boys stricken.

The company, founded in that six-by-seven-foot basement office, would eventually become United Parcel Service.

Jim wrote to the Chambers of Commerce of every American city with a population over 100,000, asking for names of local delivery firms. He accumulated the names and then initiated a communications link that he called the "Parcel Delivery Service Bureau." The bureau was a means of sharing new methods, ideas, or systems that worked in different cities. Every once in a while, the correspondence disclosed a gem of an idea, which Jim would hurry to implement. [Founders allows you to do the same]

Mr. Carstens told them that he would not fund their venture, but that they should not interpret his resistance as a disincentive. He finished with the words "determined men can gave do anything." That comment became an invocation; Jim Casey would use it as a rallying cry time and again.

We have nothing to sell except service.

Rather than paying up front with cash, they funded these acquisitions by pledging what they had, which meant shares of UPS stock. UPS was to use this strategy numerous times in coming years.

The vision beyond retail store delivery made sense to Casey and he later related “Think of the scores of millions of additional packages we would handle if we delivered all those going into each territory, rather than what goes out of the stores we happen to serve."

UPS would take on the ICC one city, state, or multistate area at a time.

Like Aesop's tortoise, UPS was sure and steady, plodding toward its objective of providing delivery service all over America, moving forward with perseverance and a humility that bordered on stealth. Big Brown was slowly but inevitably taking over the country.

As Jim Casey commented “Employee-ownership is credited by the people inside and outside the company with having done more than any other thing toward making our company and our people so notably successful financially and otherwise."

Fred Smith and his FedEx was sheer genius. That FedEx was established in 1973 as an airline, not a ground delivery company, is an important legal distinction, because the company was exempt from onerous common carrier regulations. Airlines fall under a different regulatory body (the FAA), not the ICC that regulated trucking companies.

And FedEx didn't intend to start up city by city as UPS always had. The concept was hatched nationwide, with its one hub, from the very beginning.

Most UPSers took the ostrich approach, ignoring the new company. Some denigrated it, saying, for instance: How are they going to deliver them on the ground? Their network's too small. People don't need that much delivered overnight. Costs are too high. They'll probably go under.

Business building, to Casey, depended on the hard work and loyalty that the stock ownership inspired. "The basic principle which I believe has contributed more than other to the building of our business as it is today, is the ownership of our company by the people employed in it."

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Transition seldom comes easily. Of course, we cannot clearly see all of the steps ahead. It is always easier to see difficulties than to develop methods of solving them. But first, let us take sight of a goal. The difficulties will be solved in ways we cannot now see.

First is the dream, then development, followed by improvement until the dream becomes a reality. Later a new dream makes the products of an earlier one obsolete. This has been the course of industrial history, and in its path have been the victims and the victors of progress. —Jim Casey

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 19, 2021
#191 The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness
01:05:37

What I learned from reading The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. Read the book online for free here

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Naval has changed my life for the better, and if you approach the following pages like a friendly but highly competent sparring partner, he might just change yours.

Books make for great friends, because the best thinkers of the last few thousand years tell you their nuggets of wisdom.

If you don't know yet what you should work on, the most important thing is to figure it out.

Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy.

Ignore people playing status games, They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games.

You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.

The internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers, Most people haven't figured this out yet.

Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others.

Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated.

Fortunes require leverage.

Code and media are permissionless leverage. They're the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep.

An army of robots is freely available-it's just packed in data centers for heat and space efficiency. Use it.

If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.

Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgment.

Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it.

Work as hard as you can. Even though who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work.

Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.

Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually you will get what you deserve.

When you're finally wealthy, you'll realize it wasn't what you were seeking in the first place. But that is for another day.

Your summary says "Productize yourself"-what does that mean? “Productize" has leverage. “Yourself" has accountability.

Technology democratizes consumption but consolidates production. The best person in the world at anything gets to do it for everyone.

When I talk about specific knowledge, I mean figure out what you were doing as a kid or teenager almost effortlessly. Something you didn't even consider a skill, but people around you noticed. Your mother or your best friend growing up would know.

No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.

If you're not 100 percent into it, somebody else who is 100 percent into it will outperform you. And they won't just outperform you by a little bit-they'll outperform you by a lot because now we’re operating the domain of ideas, compound interest really applies and leverage really applies.

Escape competition through authenticity.

If you are fundamentally building and marketing something that is an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you on that.

The best jobs are neither decreed nor degreed. They are creative expressions of continuous learners in free markets.

The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner.

If you don't own a piece of a business, you don't have a path towards financial freedom.

Find a position of leverage. We live in an age of infinite leverage.

Forget rich versus poor, white-collar versus blue. It's now leveraged versus un-leveraged.

The most interesting and the most important form of leverage is the idea of products that have no marginal cost of replication.

This newest form of leverage is where all the new fortunes are made. The new generation's fortunes are all made through code or media.

Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay.

What you want in life is to be in control of your time.

Demonstrated judgment-credibility around the judgmentis so critical. Warren Buffett wins here because he has massive credibility. He's been highly accountable. He's been right over and over in the public domain. He's built a reputation for very high integrity, so you can trust him. People will throw infinite behind him because of his judgment. Nobody asks leverage him how hard he works. Nobody asks him when he wakes up your or when he goes to sleep. They're like, "Warren, just do thing."

Being at the extreme in your art is very important in the age of leverage.

Spend more time making the big decisions. There are basically three really big decisions you make in your early life: where you live, who you're with, and what you do.

Your real résumé is just a catalog of all your suffering. If I ask you to describe your real life to yourself, and you look back from your deathbed at the interesting things you've done, it's all going to be around the sacrifices you made, the hard things you did.

My definition of wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions.

The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers. They understand the basics at a very, very fundamental level. 

Very smart people tend to be weird since they insist on thinking everything through for themselves.

The more you know, the less you diversify.

Inversion. I don't believe I have the ability to say what is going to work. Rather, I try to eliminate what's not going to work. I think being successful is just about not making mistakes. It's not about having correct judgment. It's about avoiding incorrect judgments.
 

In the intellectual domain, compound interest rules.

Simple heuristic: If you're evenly split on a difficult decision, take the path more painful in the short term.

What are the most efficient ways to build new mental models? Read a lot—just read.

The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. We live in the age of Alexandria, when every book and every piece of knowledge ever written down is a fingertip away. The means of learning are abundant-it's the desire to learn that is scarce.

I probably read one to two hours a day. That puts me in the top .00001 percent. I think that alone accounts for any material success I've had in my life and any intelligence I might have.

There is ancient wisdom in books. If you're talking about an old problem like how to keep your body healthy, how to stay calm and peaceful, what kinds of value systems are good, how you raise a family, and those kinds of things, the older solutions are probably better. Any book that survived for two thousand years has been filtered through many people. The general principles are more likely to be correct. I wanted to get back into reading these sorts of books.

A calm mind, a fit body, and a house full of love. These things cannot be bought. They must be earned.

The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.

All the real scorecards are internal.

You decide it's important to you. You prioritize it above everything else. You read everything on the topic.

No exceptions—all screen activities linked to less happiness, all non-screen activities linked to more happiness.

Self-discipline is a bridge to a new self-image.

Enjoy yourself. Do something positive. Project some love. Make someone happy. Laugh a little bit. Appreciate the moment. And do your work.

To make an original contribution, you have to be irrationally obsessed with something.

Health, love, and your mission, in that order. Nothing else matters.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 13, 2021
#190 The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's 10 Year Road Trip
00:59:56

What I learned from reading The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn. 

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Ford generally accepted the responsibilities of his celebrity-he'd worked diligently to cultivate it, realizing early on that his personal fame heightened demand for Model Ts.

Ford's Model T changed everything. Thanks in great part to Ford's innovative assembly line, Model Ts were mass-produced on a previously unimaginable scale. In competitors factories, it took workers several hours to assemble an individual car. At the Ford plant, a completed Model T rolled off the line every two and a half minutes.

Ford continued tinkering with the manufacturing process, aggressively seeking ways to cut production expenses and Model T prices even more. The best example fostered a popular joke that you could buy any color Model T that you liked, so long as the color was black. Few realized that Ford insisted the cars come in that color because black paint dried quickest, meaning Model Ts could be whipped through the assembly line and off to dealerships at an even faster pace, saving additional time and labor related dollars.

The Model T alone would have established Henry Ford as a household name, but he'd further cemented his reputation as a friend of the working man with a stunning announcement. In an era when factory line workers were lucky to earn $2 a day for their labor and toiled through ten-hour shifts six days a week, Ford pledged to pay $5 a day, and to reduce workdays to eight hours. Everyone in America was talking about it.

Over the years, as Ford founded and failed with two auto manufacturing companies before succeeding with his third, he endlessly reminisced about the meeting and Edison's words of encouragement: “Young man, that's the thing. You have it. Keep at it.”

Ford was a cannier businessman than his hero, much wealthier.

They found themselves in complete agreement about the evils of Wall Street and the crass men there who cared only for profit and not for the public. Both were poor boys who made good. Neither had a college degree, and both were disdainful of those who believed classroom education was superior to hands-on work experience and common sense.

Like Edison, Ford didn't have many friends. Ford was a prickly man and also a complicated one, burning to make the world better for humanity as a whole while not enjoying personal contact with most individuals.

Ford never doubted his own beliefs and decisions, forbidding disagreement from employees and ignoring any from outsiders. Ford's hobby was work. He devoted almost every waking minute to it.

When he and the inventor quickly became the closest of friends, Ford felt energized again, thanks in great part to Edison's inspiration.

For all of Ford's professional life he'd had to overcome skepticism from other successful men. He had always been the outsider, the one with the crazy ideas and clumsy social graces. Edison sympathized, because in his earliest years of prominence he was criticized for some of the same traits. The inventor not only accepted Ford for the rough-edged man that he was, he recognized in him the fine qualities that offset the carmaker's obvious flaws.

Henry Ford was always a man of strong opinions, and one who absolutely trusted his own instincts. He especially disdained anyone identified as an expert: "If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means, I would endow the opposition with experts. No one ever considers himself an expert if he really knows his job."

When prominent, better educated men and their hired experts insisted that the future of the automobile market was limited to manufacturing expensive cars for the wealthy, Ford believed that the real potential lay in sales of a modest but dependable vehicle to the growing American middle class; there would be less profit in individual transactions, but the sheer number of sales would yield greater cumulative returns. With the Model T, Ford was proved right, and he reveled in it.

Their main goal was to have a good time. But few business magnates in America had a shrewder understanding of marketing than Edison, Ford, and Firestone. If rank-and-file consumers liked what they saw and read about, as they surely would, then sales of cars and light bulbs and phonographs and tires would directly benefit, too.

Ford shocked America by resigning as company president. He was going to start an entirely new automobile manufacturing enterprise. Ford Motor Company stockholders assumed the threat was real, and within weeks agreed to sell Ford their shares at a whopping $12,500 a share. (James Couzens, who knew Ford best, held out and received $13,000 for each of his.) Though Ford had to borrow $60 million of the near $106 million total cost, he was still glad to do it. It had been an elaborate bluff, but he was now in complete control of Ford Motor Company.

Ford received thousands of letters with the general message that if he were an anarchist, then America needed more of them. Ford was the son of a Michigan farmer, and like  most rural Americans of the time his formal education was limited to a few years in local schools and teachers who themselves had often not graduated high school. Then he had to leave school to make a living. Like Ford, many of his countrymen read only with difficulty, if at all. Their understanding of American history was limited. They, too, might not remember the exact date of the American Revolution, but they knew that Henry Ford introduced the $5 workday and a car that ordinary people could afford. They identified with Ford so strongly that newspaper attacks on him were taken as insults directed at them.

They were shocked to receive shipments of Model Ts that they hadn't ordered. The edict on these cars was the same-Ford Motor Company must be paid for them. Refusal would terminate the dealer-company relationship. If they refused to accept these additional Model Ts and were fired by Ford, they could be ruined. Or, as the parent company suggested, they could accept the cars, if necessary get loans from their own banks to pay Ford for them, and then aggressively keep trying to sell Model Ts and hang on until the national economic crisis was over. The dealers had little choice but to accept. That provided Ford with enough money to meet his immediate corporate debts-the dealers had to risk wrath from their banks instead.

She never complained when Ford spent most of his off-the-job hours trying to build a combustion engine in their kitchen. Clara encouraged Ford to pursue his dream of creating "a car for the great multitudes," remaining supportive when his first two companies failed, encouraging  him during the difficult first years of Ford Motor Company, his third.

Ford fixated on even the smallest details.

Patience was never Ford's strength.

Ford had no interest in laurel-resting.

Ford’s cars were built to last. Never flashy, in every way efficient, always dependable, much like the man whose company assembled them. And, just as Ford never saw any reason to change himself, he felt no pressure to change the Model T.

Ford's stubbornness gave competitors the opening they needed. When Alfred Sloan took over General Motors in 1923, the new boss emphasized a marketing plan based on Americans wanting not just transportation, but selection. Enough people now owned cars so that ownership itself was no longer special. What was going to matter soon was driving a car that reflected the personality, the specialness, of the individual owner.

As individuals, Edison, Ford, and Firestone created the means for the "great multitudes" to enjoy leisure entertainment far beyond what was previously imagined. As the Vagabonds, their summer car and camping trips exemplified what they had helped make possible: See what we're doing? You çan do it, too. By their example, the Vagabonds encouraged countless ordinary Americans to pursue their own dreams.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 10, 2021
#189 The Unpublished David Ogilvy
00:59:12

What I learned from reading The Unpublished David Ogilvy by David Ogilvy. 

[0:01] Will Any Agency Hire This Man? He is 38, and unemployed. He dropped out of college.

He has been a cook, a salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer. He knows nothing about marketing, and has never written any copy. He professes to be interested in advertising as a career (at the age of 38!) and is ready to go to work for $5,000 a year.

I doubt if any American agency will hire him.

However, a London agency did hire him. Three years later he became the most famous copywriter in the world, and in due course built the tenth biggest agency in the world.

The moral: it sometimes pays an agency to be imaginative and unorthodox in hiring.

[2:39] Words were what made him. Reading this collection, one is struck, piece after piece by how David's words surprise and seduce, tease and provoke.

[2:58] His writing is opinionated, forceful, and urgent.

[4:24] David was building his first-class business in a first-class way.

[5:37] Every advertisement must tell the whole sales story.

[5:41] The copy must be human and very simple.Every word in the copy must count. Concrete figures must be substituted for atmospheric claims; clichés must give way to facts, and empty exhortations to alluring offers.

[6:08] Permanent success has rarely been built on frivolity. People do not buy from clowns.

[7:38] The worst fault a salesman can commit is to be a bore.

[11:49] I have a new metaphor. Great hospitals do two things: They look after patients, and they teach young doctors. Ogilvy & Mather does two things: We look after clients, and we teach young advertising people. Ogilvy & Mather is the teaching hospital of the advertising world. And, as such, to be respected above all other agencies.

[12:44] I plead for charm, flair, showmanship, taste, distinction.

[16:42] Dear Ray: Nineteen years ago you wrote me the best job application letter I have ever received. I can still recite the first paragraph. The first paragraph read: "My father was in charge of the men's lavatory at the Ritz Hotel. My mother was a chambermaid at the same hotel. I was educated at the London School of Economics.

[18:04] I find extravagance esthetically repulsive. I find the New England Puritan tradition more attractive. And more profitable.

[21:14] So the time had come to give the pendulum a push in the other direction. If that push has puzzled you, caught you on the wrong foot and confused you, I can only quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds... Speak what you think today in words  as hard as cannonballs, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today."

[22:01] I prefer a posture of confident authority.

[22:19] You have a first-class mind. Stretch it.

[22:38] David on how he lasted so long: 

1. I have outlived all my competitors. 

2. My obsessive interest in advertising has not dimmed. 

3. My younger partners have tolerated my presence in their midst. 

4. I had the wisdom to give them a free run. As a result, Ogilvy & Mather has outgrown its founder.

[27:02] An account manager wrote to David wondering what he considered his worst shortcomings. The reply:

I am intolerant of mediocrity – and laziness.

I fritter away too much time on things which aren't important.

Like everyone of my age, I talk too much about the past.

I have always funked firing people who needed to be fired.

I am afraid of flying and go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it.

When I was Creative Head in New York, I wrote too much of the advertising myself.

I know nothing about finance.

I change my mind – about advertising and about people.

I am candid to the point of indiscretion.

I see too many sides to every argument.

I am over-impressed by physical beauty.

I have a low threshold of boredom.

[28:09] Somebody recently asked me for a list of the most useful books on advertising – the books that all our people should read. Here is what I sent her: 

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. 

Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. 

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy.

How to Advertise by Kenneth Roman and Jane Maas. 

Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves.

The Art of Writing Advertising : Conversations with Masters of the Craft: David Ogilvy, William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, Rosser Reeves by Denis Higgins.

The 100 Best Advertisements by Julian Watkins.

[29:26] Don't be dull bores. We can't save souls in an empty church.

[31:28] What guts it takes, what obstinate determination, to stick to one coherent creative policy, year after year, in the face of all the pressures to "come up with something new" every six months.

[31:57] The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most favourable image, the most sharply defined personality, is the one who will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit – in the long run.

[32:05] We try to create sharply defined personalities for our brands. And we stick to those personalities, year after year.

[32:58] Set exorbitant standards, and give your people hell when they don't live up tọ them. There is nothing so demoralizing as a boss who tolerates second-rate work.

[33:57] For Pete's sake write shorter memos. Cut your wordage in half.

[34:12] How does the OBM of 1962 compare with the agency I dreamed of in 1948? To tell you the truth, it looks a million times better than I ever dreamed it could look. I just cannot believe what a good agency this has grown to be. I am terribly proud, and terribly grateful.

[35:07] David is often astonished by working habits that differ from his own. Once, discussing a copywriter at another agency whom he admired in some respects, he said: "Listen to this - every day at precisely five o'clock that man gets up from his desk, puts on his hat and his coat, and goes home." Long pause to let it sink in. Then, leaning forward for emphasis: "Think of the extraordinary self-discipline that requires!"

[36:49] My old friend advised you to avoid excess in all things. Mr. Ashcroft used to say the same thing – avoid excess in all things. That is a recipe for dullness and mediocrity.

[38:09] I will begin with an old-fashioned affirmation in the supreme value of hard work. I believe in the Scottish proverb: “Hard work never killed a man." Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They never die of hard work.

[38:36] On the other hand, I believe in lots of vacations. Sabbaticals recharge batteries.

[39:18] Are we freewheeling entrepreneurs, ready to take risks in new ventures? Or are we too frightened of making mistakes? When the toy-buyer at Sears made a mistake which cost his company 10 million bucks, I asked the head of Sears, “Are you going to fire him?" “Hell no," he replied, “I fire people who don't make mistakes."

[41:06] It is the duty of our top people to sustain unremitting pressure on the professional standards of their staffs. They must not tolerate sloppy plans or mediocre creative work. 

[41:30] If you ever find a man who is better than you are– hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you pay yourself.

[41:56] Five characteristics for rapid promotion

He is ambitious.

He works harder than his peers – and enjoys it. 

He has a brilliant brain – inventive and unorthodox.

He has an engaging personality.

He demonstrates respect for the creative function.
 

[42:56] The line between pride in our work and neurotic obstinacy is a narrow one.

[43:07] We have a habit of divine discontent with our performance. It is an antidote to smugness.

[43:50] Raise your sights! Blaze new trails! Compete with the immortals!

[48:13] Great leaders almost seem to exude self-confidence.

[49:13] Great industrial leaders are always fanatically committed to their jobs. They are not lazy, or amateurs.

[52:00] What would you have done differently if you could do it all over? I wouldn't have made so damn many mistakes, and most notably, I would not have sold so many of my Ogilvy & Mather shares.I was scared. We were being fantastically successful. I kept saying to myself: easy come, easy go. This thing could go up in smoke at any moment. I was frightened and I wanted to get the money out and put it into something safe.

[53:22] Did you ever think the agency was going to fail? Yes. Every day for years I thought it was going to fail. I was always scared sick-always a terrible worrywart when I was in my heyday at the agency. I remember saying one day: If this is success, God deliver me from failure.

[53:47] Personal dislike made me resign many accounts. I didn't like having to deal with the sonofabitch. Why should I? We pass this way only once.

[54:02] Anything you've always wanted that eluded you? A big family. Ten children.

[54:10] Retiring can be fatal.

[56:04] I was talking at my old school not long ago in Scotland and I gave them a little sermon on the subject of success. They should stop thinking about success entirely in terms of material achievements and careers and all that stuff and think of success in terms of their own happiness and the happiness of their family.

[56:45] I had to make my own bed. I was a very, very good salesman. And that's an important thing to be.

[58:22] I had a short period in my life, I think maybe ten years, when I was pretty close to being a genius and I can look back on that with interested curiosity and affection and some nostalgia. Then it ran out. But I was.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”

— Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Jul 05, 2021
#188 Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys
01:15:28

What I learned from Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe.

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[0:01] I wrote this book to help entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. That's why there's a lack of miracles and a surplus of marketing details including buying, advertising, distributing, and running stores; and lots of discussion of how we built a successful business on high wages.

[18:09] Chapter 11 was a possibility. But I was reading The Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman, with its implicit concept of multiple solutions to non-convex problems.

[19:07] This is my favorite of all managerial quotes: If all the facts could be known, idiots could make the decisions. —Tex Thornton, cofounder of Litton Industries, quoted in the Los Angeles Times in the mid-1960s.

[22:33] The most basic conclusion I drew from her book was that, if you adopt a reasonable strategy, as opposed to waiting for an optimum  strategy, and stick with it, you'll probably succeed. Tenacity is as important as brilliance.

[24:31] The one core value that I chose was our high compensation policies. This is the most important single business decision I ever made: to pay people well.

[30:30] The basic problem is that convenience store retailing is a commodity business that is hard to differentiate. What I needed was a good but small opportunity for my good but small company: a non-commodity, differentiated kind of retailing.

[33:38] As we evolved Trader Joe's, its greatest departure from the norm wasn't its size or its decor. It was our commitment to product knowledge, something which was totally foreign to the mass-merchant culture, and our turning our backs to branded merchandise.

[38:25] Most of my ideas about how to act as an entrepreneur are derived from The Revolt of the Masses by Jose Ortega y Gasset, the greatest Spanish philosopher of the twentieth century. I believe this book still offers the clearest explanation of the times in which we live. And I believe it offers a master “plan of action" for the would-be entrepreneur, who usually has no reputation and few resources.

[40:22] From the beginning, thanks to Ortega, I've been aware of the need to sell everybody. . . I took a cue from General Patton, who thought that the greatest danger was not that the enemy would learn his plans, but that his own troops would not.

[47:32] We assumed that our readers had a thirst for knowledge, 180 degrees opposite from supermarket ads. We emphasized "informative advertising," a term borrowed from the famous entrepreneur Paul Hawken, who started publishing in the Whole Earth Review in the early 1980s. These informative texts were intended to stress how our products were  differentiated from ordinary stuff.

[52:09] All businesses have problems. It's the problems that create the opportunities. If a business is easy, every simple bastard would enter it. My point is that a businessperson who complains about problems doesn't understand where his bread is coming from.

[57:00] We violated every received-wisdom of retailing except one: we delivered great value, which is where most retailers fail.

[1:14:05] But do I regret having sold? Yes. I admit it. To mine own self I was not true when I sold. I regret not having had the guts to ride out the loss of the surtax exemptions, the employee ownership problem, the threat of death taxes, Carter's threat to eliminate capital gains preference, and all the other fears, real or phantom, of late 1978. I have to admit the truth, that I regret having sold Trader Joe's. And I have had to pay something for this, beyond the loss of my shadow.

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Other episodes mentioned in this episode:

#18 Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman 

#20 Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

#89 Confessions of an Advertising Man

#107 Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator

#110 Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation (Henry Singleton)

#170 My Life in Advertising

#179 Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

#181 Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 28, 2021
#187 Einstein: His Life and Universe
01:25:14

What I learned from reading Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. 

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[0:01] In a drama that would seem fake were it not so horrifying, Einstein’s brain ended up being, for more than four decades, a wandering relic.

[4:22] Einstein remained consistent in his willingness to be a serenely amused loner who was comfortable not conforming.

[6:49] “In teaching history,” Einstein replied, “there should be extensive discussion of personalities who benefited mankind through independence of character and judgment.” 

[8:33] It is important to foster individuality, for only the individual can produce the new ideas.

[11:39] He had an allergic reaction against all forms of dogma and authority.

[14:37] It made me clearly realize how much superior an education based on free action and personal responsibility is to one relying on outward authority.

[20:24] It would be an astonishing nine years after his graduation and four years after the miracle year in which he upended physics before he would be offered a job as a junior professor.

[26:24] How To Win With People You Don't Like

[35:22] Had he given up theoretical physics at that point, the scientific community would not have noticed. There was no sign that he was about to unleash a remarkable year the like of which science had not seen since 1666, when Isaac Newton, holed up at his mother’s home to escape the plague developed calculus, an analysis of the light spectrum, and the laws of gravity. 

[41:41] To dwell on the things that depress or anger us does not help in overcoming them. One must knock them down alone.

[44:30] He responded by saying that he planned to “smoke like a chimney, work like a horse, eat without thinking, go for a walk only in really pleasant company.”

[54:25] The whole affair is a matter of indifference to me, as is all the commotion, and the opinion of each and every human being. 

[55:56] I am truly a lone traveler and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude.

[1:10:47] When shown his office, he was asked what equipment he might need. "A large wastebasket so I can throw away all my mistakes.”

[1:18:57] I do not know how the Third World War will be fought but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks.

[1:22:26] Brief is this existence, as a fleeting visit in a strange house. The path to be pursued is poorly lit by a flickering consciousness.

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Other episodes mentioned in this episode:

#18 Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman 

#25 Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson 

#94 The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (Henry Singleton) 

#95 A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age

#110 Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation (Henry Singleton)

Bonus episode between #168 and #169 Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II

Bonus episode between #179 and #180 Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 22, 2021
#186 Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
01:42:53

What I learned from rereading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. 

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[2:02] I had an aching sense that our time is short, shorter than we ever know, short as a morning run, and I wanted mine to be meaningful. And purposeful. And creative. And important. Above all...different.

[6:18] So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy... just keep going. Don't stop. Don't even think about stopping until you get there, and don't give much thought to where "there" is. Whatever comes, just don't stop. That's the precocious, prescient, urgent advice I managed to give myself, out of the blue, and somehow managed to take. Half a century later, I believe it's the best advice-maybe the only advice-any of us should ever give.

[10:32] They greeted my passion and intensity with labored sighs and vacant stares.

[16:48] Carter never did mess around. See an open shot, take it. I told myself there was much to learn from a guy like that.

[20:25] If I didn't, if I muffed this, I'd be doomed to spend the rest of my days selling encyclopedias, or mutual funds, or some other junk I didn't really care about.

[27:45] Bowerman was a genius coach, a master motivator, a natural leader of young men, and there was one piece of gear he deemed crucial to their development. Shoes. He was obsessed with how human beings are shod.

[32:30] Bowerman didn’t give a damn about respectability. He possessed a prehistoric strain of maleness. Today it’s all but extinct. He was a war hero, too. Of course he was.

[32:49] The most famous track coach in America, Bowerman never considered himself a track coach. He detested being called coach. He called himself a “Professor of Competitive Responses,” and his job, as he saw it, and often described it, was to get you ready for the struggles and competitions that lay ahead.

[35:40] In my mind he was Patton with a stopwatch. That is, when he wasn't a god.

[38:17] "Buck," he said, "how long do you think you're going to keep jackassing around with these shoes?" I shrugged. "I don't know, Dad."

[40:00] So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn't selling. I believed in running.

[1:00:57] My life was out of balance, sure, but I didn't care. In fact, I wanted even more imbalance. Or a different kind of imbalance. I wanted to dedicate every minute of every day to Blue Ribbon. I'd never been a multitasker, and I didn't see any reason to start now. I wanted to be present, always. I wanted to focus constantly on the one task that really mattered.

[1:05:40] I spent a fair portion of each day lost in my own thoughts, tumbling down mental wormholes, to solve some problem or construct some plan.

[1:10:40] More than once, over my first cup of coffee in the morning, or while trying to fall asleep at night, I'd tell myself: Maybe I'm a fool? Maybe this whole damn shoe thing is a fool's errand? Maybe, I thought. Maybe.

[1:23:10] I told myself, Don’t forget this. Do not forget. I told myself there was much to be learned from such a display of passion, whether you were running a mile or a company.

[1:36:50] When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is-you're participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you're helping others to live more fully, and if that's business, all right, call me a businessman. Maybe it will grow on me.

[1:38:10] I asked myself: What are you feeling? It wasn't joy. It wasn't relief. If I felt anything, it was... regret? Good God, I thought. Yes. Regret. Because I honestly wished I could do it all over again.

[1:40:32] Of course, above all, I regret not spending more time with my sons. And yet I know that this regret clashes with my secret regret that I can't do it all over again. God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing.

[1:40:50] I'd like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on. It's all the same drive. The same dream. It would be nice to help them avoid the typical discouragements. I'd tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I'd tell men and women in their midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don't know what that means, seek it. If you're following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you've ever felt.

[1:42:22] Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn't mean stopping. Don't ever stop.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 16, 2021
#185 Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class
01:22:12

What I learned from reading Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr. 

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[1:00] The words echoed in his head, even now. The idea that they should be seen as servants was the cruelest of insults. César Ritz, Auguste Escoffier, servants?

[11:28] He hasn't the least idea how much work and care, how much imagination and effort, go into the proper running of a hotel. 

[20:44] This was the very heart of a world that had shaped him, a world of privilege and luxury in which he had forged a place for himself, against all odds. Ritz had not been born to this life. Raised in a tiny village (population 123) in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, he was the last of eleven children, and had left home at the age of twelve.

[21:04]  He was a self-made man. And beneath his placid, imperturbable Swiss poise lay enormous ambition. 

[22:26] Ritz knew better than anyone the importance of the kitchen in creating a truly luxurious hotel experience. He had built his success in the hotel business in tandem with the brilliant chef Auguste Escoffier. 

[26:48] Ritz had spent years working for others and was now, finally, a hotel owner himself. Yes, his hotels were small, but they were his. 

[27:48] Ritz was proud, but also full of insecurities: about his Swiss peasant family background, his lack of education. 

[30:20] "You'll never make anything of yourself in the hotel business," his boss at one of his very first jobs had told him. "It takes a special knack, a special flair, and it's only right that I should tell you the truth: you haven't got it." Well, he'd got it now. 

[40:18] Escoffier was not an educated man, but he had quickly discovered that he had a real talent for cooking, which he saw as both a science and an art. 

[40:37] He had begun to establish a new ethos for the professional kitchen, one that depended on respect: respect for the chefs, respect for the ingredients, respect for the artistry of cooking.

[44:41] The food itself was less complicated than it had been, shorn of unnecessary ornamentation, inedible decoration, and too many sauces. "Above all, make it simple." was his motto. 

[49:40] He was the elegant and cultivated César Ritz, mastermind of luxury, but he couldn't escape the feeling that he might be revealed, at any moment, to be an impostor, nothing more than a servant. The truth, he feared, was detectable in the size of his hands and feet. They were large, peasant-size hands and feet, he was convinced, and he did everything possible to keep them hidden. He wore his shoes a half size too small.

[53:39] The Provence was his and his alone. It was almost impossible to explain to Marie what that meant to him, how deep that feeling went. For Ritz, owning his own hotel was the signal achievement of his life, marking his escape from his past. 

[1:02:07] The most damning charge in the entire letter was that Escoffier was taking kickbacks on all the food orders coming into the Savoy. 

[1:05:11] Escoffier and Ritz had been fired. 

[1:06:57] "The best is not too good," Ritz would say. This was his philosophy about everything. 

[1:08:01] It should instead be "a work tool more than a book, a constant companion that chefs would always keep at their side." A book for working professionals. 

[1:12:17]Again, a tiny detail, a solution to a problem no one had ever even put into words, but one that Ritz, in his obsessive way, had noted and now acted upon.  

[1:14:35] Ritz was filled with overwhelming pride and, at the same time, a creeping sense of inadequacy. 

[1:16:25] To think that his parents had lived and died in Niederwald, had never even left Switzerland, not once, and here he was, the proprietor of the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, the most famous hotelier in the world, and now he was opening a new property in London. 

[1:18:29] They both looked back with amazement at what they had achieved together in the 1890s, how different the world was then, how they themselves had changed it.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 10, 2021
#184 The Autobiography of The Founder of Four Seasons
01:16:46

What I learned from reading Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp.

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[0:01] When I built my first hotel I knew nothing about the hotel business. 

[4:28] He refused to settle for the pragmatic dictum of maturity. Issy also skipped skepticism and "Let's be sensible." People said he was naïve, with a kind of glandular optimism. Perhaps. But as it turned out naïveté served him well. 

[6:32] Early on he made some audacious statements that sounded like pipe dreams. He told me once that his aim was to make the name Four Seasons a worldwide brand, synonymous with luxury, like Rolls-Royce.

[8:39]Once, when Dad was excavating a basement with horse and plough, he broke his shoulder. But he shrugged it off and uncomplainingly kept on working, something I never forgot. 

[26:52] I decided to go ahead. I foresaw only one difficulty, but it loomed large: How do you build a two-hundred-room resort without any money? This was literal fact. My earnings barely covered my rising family costs. 

[35:23] I asked Sir Gerald Glover, "How do you keep your lawn so perfect?"  “No problem”, he replied. “You just cut it every week for three hundred years.” 

[43:48] I owe my success to my freedom. I think for me independence has an incalculable value. 

[44:44] All business proceeds on belief: Trying to run a company without a set of beliefs is like trying to steer a ship without a rudder. 

[56:03] The experience made me realize what I would really like to do: create a group of the best hotels in the world. And what we really want to do is usually what we do best.

[56:51] We will not be all things to all people. We will specialize. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 06, 2021
#183 Johnny Carson
01:17:54

What I learned from reading Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. 

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[13:50] He often told me that all it took to turn the most electrifying film stars into dullards was to be around them for a while. But he felt that way around everybody. There were very few social scenes in which he was ever really comfortable.

[14:07] Johnny was comfortable in front of twenty million but just as uncomfortable in a gathering of twenty.

[15:44] Carson grasped that he owned the camera the way Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra had grasped that they owned the microphone. That understanding made him more natural, more relaxed, cooler.

[21:29] Johnny continued. “If a doctor opened up my chest right now, he couldn’t find a heart, or any goddamn thing. Just a lot of misery. My mother made sure of that. She deprived us all of any real goddamn warmth."

[23:20] Facts revealed themselves. Curious facts. Disturbing facts. Like the fact that Johnny Carson wasn’t wealthy. Indeed, he had very little money. He had little money because the people around him, whom he trusted, were serving him poorly.

[28:43] I was shocked to realize that he owned no equity interest in the new company. Instead, half was owned by the manufacturer and half by Sonny Werblin. Carson, in effect, was paid a salary to wear clothes from the company that bore his name, while the man he had entrusted with his affairs lined his own pockets.

[29:39] “Look what’s going on,” I said. “His wife is cheating on him. His manager is screwing him, his agents are exploiting him, and his producer’s wife has been conspiring with Joanne to cuckold him. What a goddamn mess.”

[32:46] Johnny Carson lived comfortably in his own skin. He may have been troubled in certain areas, but he was never tormented by insecurity.

[42:57] Carson’s show was earning NBC between $50 and $60 million a year.

[45:45] Being a star in Hollywood was a fabulous thing, but the real money and power went to those who owned the companies that produced the programs. It was Aaron Spelling who called the shots and raked in the dough and lived like the sultan of Brunei. Or to put it another way, Merv Griffin, who was a rival of Carson’s but never his peer, was so much richer than Johnny because he owned the game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

[49:14] He had too keen an appreciation for how much work and talent and discipline went into success to be flattered by praise and adulation.

[50:27] Like most oracles, Wasserman gave an opinion that was simple and sensible (but unambiguously presented, thank goodness). “It is not prudent,” replied Wasserman, “to ask people to change their nightly viewing habits. Once they are used to tuning in a given channel, they find it hard to make the move, no matter how good an alternative is being provided elsewhere.” Was that it? All of our thinking and talking and arguing and agonizing came down to the belief that Americans won’t change the dial? Wasserman’s advice sealed our decision.

[54:39] He liked performing. He liked being onstage, being the center of attention, and doing something he did with supreme excellence.

[57:27] To my surprise, the three girls were skinny-dipping in the rooftop swimming pool, while Johnny, wearing nothing but an apron, served them wine from a silver platter.

[1:00:31] Johnny Carson performed on television, but he didn’t watch it.

[1:09:37] Johnny Carson enjoyed the adulation of millions, but his mother could not love him. He carried that pain, and spread it, all his life.

[1:09:56] He has probably been funnier longer and more consistently than any other comedian who ever lived. Johnny just kept rolling on and on, never deviating, seldom surprising, seldom surpassing, but nearly always delivering.

[1:10:35] Once he got control of The Tonight Show he was earning so much that it was like Monopoly money. He was free to do literally whatever he wanted.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Jun 04, 2021
#182 Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
01:12:58

What I learned from reading Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein.

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His talent sprang from his unrivaled independence of mind and ability to focus on his work and shut out the world, yet those same qualities exacted a toll.

He emerged from those first hard years with an absolute drive to become very, very rich. He thought about it before he was five years old. And from that time on, he scarcely stopped thinking of it.

Most of us were trying to be like everyone else. I think he liked being different. He was what he was and he never tried to be anything else.

Warren disgustedly reported that he knew more than the professors. His dissatisfaction-a forerunner of his general disaffection for business schools-was rooted in their mushy, overbroad approach. His professors had fancy theories but were ignorant of the practical details of making a profit that Warren craved.

It seemed too good to be true; if the stocks were so cheap, Buffett figured, somebody ought to be buying them. But slowly, it dawned on him. The somebody was him. Nobody was going to tell you that an investment was a steal; you had to get there on your own.

Buffett knew more about stocks than anyone.

He was working virtually all the time, and loving every minute.

His talent lay not in his range—which was narrowly focused on investing—but in his intensity. His entire soul was focused on that one outlet.

He did not draw the usual line between "work" and other activities.

Wall Street's chorus, all reading the same lyrics, was chanting, "Sell." Buffett decided to buy. He put close to one-quarter of his assets on that single stock.

Buffett visited Walt Disney himself on the Disney lot. The animator was as enthusiastic as ever. Buffett was struck by his childlike enchantment with his work-so similar to Buffett's own.

It was virtually impossible to poke through the fog of his concentration.

Jack asked, "How do you do it?" Buffett said he read "a couple of thousand" financial statements a year.

He would go home and read a stack of annual reports. For anyone else it would have been work. For Buffett it was a night on the town. He did not merely do this nine-to-five. If he was awake, the wheels were turning.

As Buffett explained, Berkshire was something he intended never to sell. “I just like it. Berkshire is something that I would be in the rest of my life. It is public, but it is almost like the family business now.” Not long-term, but the rest of his life. His career-in a sense, his life-was subsumed in that one company. Everything he did, each investment, would add a stroke to that never-to-be-finished canvas. And no one could seize the brush from him.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

May 29, 2021
#181 Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos
01:13:23

What I learned from reading Copy This!: How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinkos by Paul Orfalea.

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[4:23] I've never met a more circular, out-of-the-box thinker. It's often exhausting trying to keep up with him.

[5:21] I graduated from high school eighth from the bottom of my class of 1,200. Frankly, I still have no idea how those seven kids managed to do worse than I did.

[8:29] I also have no mechanical ability to speak of. There isn't a machine at Kinko's I can operate. I could barely run the first copier we leased back in 1970. It didn't matter. All I knew was that was I could sell what came out of it.

[10:24] Building an entirely new sort of business from a single Xerox copy machine gave me the life the world seemed determined to deny me when I was younger.

[13:04] The A students work for the B students, the C students run the companies, and the D students dedicate the buildings.

[23:02] I learned to turn a lot of busywork over to other people. That's an important skill. If you don't develop it, you'll be so busy, busy, busy that you can't get a free hour, not to mention a free week or month, to sit back and think creatively about where you want to be heading and how you are going to get there.

[24:07] There's no better way to stay "on" your business than to think creatively and constantly about your marketing: how you are marketing, who you are marketing to, and, always, how you could be doing a better job at it. You'd be amazed what kind of business you can generate by a seemingly simple thing like handing out flyers.

[26:18] The phone rang. It was one of our store managers calling to ask me how to handle a bounced check. I held the receiver away from my face and looked at it, flabbergasted. If every store manager needed my help to deal with a bounced check, then we really had problems.

[39:55] I never walked in the back door used by coworkers. I walked in the front door so I could see things from the customer's perspective.

[48:06] You had to remember he'd been picking up the best ideas from all around the country. (Founders is doing the same thing from the history of entrepreneurship) 

[54:14] I believe in getting out of as much work as I possibly can.

[54:45] By now, you’d have to be as bad a reader as I am not to figure out that I have a dark side. You rarely hear people talk about their dark sides, especially business leaders, which is a shame because successful businesses aren't usually started by laid-back personalities. I don't hide the fact that I have a problem with anger.

[1:03:37] I'll give you an example of a corporate view of money. We used to sell passport photos at Kinko's and we advertised the service in the local Yellow Pages. It would cost us 75 cents to make a passport photo. I calculated that price jumped by $1 to $1.75 when you added in the cost of the Yellow Pages ads. We'd sell those photos for $13 a piece. You think this is a nice business? Shortly after we sold a controlling stake in Kinko's, the new budget people came in and, to make their numbers, they got rid of the Yellow Pages ads. They saw it as an advertising expense and didn't take into account how it affected the rest of our business. I used to go to the office and think, "Are they deliberately trying to be idiots?" These straight-A types drove me nuts. Then, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, we abandoned our passport business. That is corporate dyslexia. There is a lot of corporate dyslexia going on out there.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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May 23, 2021
#180 Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire
01:03:47

What I learned from reading Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone.

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[1:47] Every interesting thing I've ever done, every important thing I've ever done, every beneficial thing I've ever done, has been through a cascade of experiments and mistakes and failures. I'm covered in scar tissues as a result of this.

[6:19] I absolutely know it's hard, but we'll learn how to do it.

[8:30] Thinking small is a self fulfilling prophecy.

[12:13] Begin any conversation about a new product in terms of the benefit it creates for customers.

[19:08] Bezos deployed his playbook for experiments that produced promising sparks: he poured gasoline on them.

[22:41] You can regulate yourself quite easily or think about what you're going to do with your existing resources. Sometimes, you don't know what the boundaries are. Jeff just wanted us to be unbounded.

[25:48] If I have to choose between agreement and conflict, I'll take conflict every time. It always yields a better result.

[27:19] Don't come to me with a plan that assumes I will only make a certain level of investment. Tell me how to win.

[35:50] He preached the wholesale embrace of technology, rapid experimentation, and optimism about the opportunities of the internet instead of despair.

[45:17] Bezos’ one constant edict: Go faster.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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May 17, 2021
Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon
01:03:28

What I learned from Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by  Colin Bryar and Bill Carr.

[3:58] What is best for the customer? Do that: "Amazon believes that long-term growth is best produced by putting the customer first. If you held this conviction, what kind of company would you build?"

[7:05] Jeff skips the conferences and dinners: "95 percent of the time I spent with Jeff was focused on internal work issues rather than external events like conferences, public speeches, and sports matches."

[25:08] Don't encourage communication—eliminate it: "Jeff said many times that if we wanted Amazon to be a place where builders can build, we needed to eliminate communication, not encourage it. When you view effective communication across groups as a "defect," the solutions to your problems start to look quite different from traditional ones." (There is nothing conventional about Jeff) 

[27:29] Why companies must run experiments: "Time and time again, we learned that  consumers would behave in ways we hadn't imagined especially for brand-new features or products."

[30:16] Jeff on the importance of making decisions quickly: "Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you're good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure."

[30:48] Great anything is rare: "Great Two-Pizza team leaders proved to be rarities. Although we did identify a few such brilliant managers, they turned out to be notoriously difficult to find in sufficient numbers, even at Amazon." 

[34:30] A simple tip from Jeff on how to produce unique insights: "Jeff has an uncanny ability to read a narrative and consistently arrive at insights that no one else did, even though we were all reading the same narrative. After one meeting, I asked him how he was able to do that. He responded with a simple and useful tip that I have not forgotten: he assumes each sentence he reads is wrong until he can prove otherwise. He's challenging the content of the sentence, not the motive of the writer.”

[35:12] Why Amazon works backwards: "Working Backwards is a systematic way to vet ideas and create new products. Its key tenet is to start by defining the customer experience, then iteratively work backwards from that point until the team achieves clarity of thought around what to build."

[40:00] Working backwards on Kindle: "We were working forward, trying to invent a product that would be good for Amazon, the company, not the customer. When we wrote a Kindle press release and started working backwards, everything changed. We focused instead on what would be great for customers. An excellent screen for a great reading experience. An ordering process that would make buying and downloading books easy. A huge selection of titles. Low prices. We would never have had the breakthroughs necessary to achieve that customer experience were it not for the press release process, which forced the team to invent multiple solutions to customer problems."

[43:58] Patience. Then bet big: Our approach permits us to work patiently for multiple years to deliver a solution. Once we had a clear vision for how these products could become businesses that would delight customers, we invested big. Patience and carefully managed investment over many years can pay off greatly. 

[46:03] Have Steve Jobs level of belief in your products: "Jobs calmly and confidently told us that even though it was Apple's first attempt to build for Windows, he thought it was the best Windows application anyone had ever built."

[54:48] Amazon's Kindle strategy was influenced by Apple: "In digital, that meant focusing on applications and devices consumers used to read, watch, or listen to content, as Apple had already done with iTunes and the iPod. We all took note of what Apple had achieved in digital music in a short period of time and sought to apply those learnings to our long-term product vision."

[56:48] Good ideas are rare. When you find one bet heavily: "At some point in the debate, someone asked Jeff point blank: "How much more money are you willing to invest in Kindle?" Jeff calmly turned to our CFO, Tom Szkutak, smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and asked the rhetorical question, "How much money do we have?"

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ”— Gareth

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May 13, 2021
#179 The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
01:21:12

What I learned from The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone.

This is part one of a three part series on Jeff Bezos. The next two books are Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon and Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire.

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[0:54] It may very well be that the absolute intensity of drive and focus is essential and incompatible with all of the nice management thought about consensus and gentle demeanor.

[2:07] Jeff’s clarity, intensity of focus, and ability to prioritize is unusual.

[4:05] As I read the Steve Jobs biography I even had an insight and question about myself, that maybe I haven’t begun to really find my own limits.

[10:49] You have to be able to think what you're doing for yourself. 

[11:42] There is probably no limit to what he can do. 

[12:34] People forget that most people believed Amazon was doomed because it would not scale at a cost structure that would work. It kept piling up losses. It lost hundreds of millions of dollars. But Jeff was very smart. He’s a classic technical founder of a business, who understands every detail and cares about it more than anyone.

[13:45] Bezos has proved quite indifferent to the opinions of others

[13:58] Bezos is extremely difficult to work for. 

[15:58] Amazon's internal customs are deeply idiosyncratic. 

[16:15] He is highly circumspect about deviating from well established, very abstract talking points. 

[18:08] The financial community knew very little about D. E. Shaw, and its polymath founder wanted to keep it that way. 

[20:15] Jeff was not concerned about what other people were thinking. 

[20:26] Bezos had closely studied several wealthy  businessmen

[21:13] Bezos was disciplined and precise. 

[22:14] Bezos seemed to love the idea of the nonstop workday. 

[22:23] The rest of Wall Street saw D. E. Shaw as a highly secretive hedged fund. David Shaw didn't view the company as a hedge fund but as a versatile technology laboratory who could apply computer science to different problems. 

[25:51] Web activity had grown that year by 230,000%. Things just don't grow that fast Bezos said. It's highly unusual and that started me thinking what kind of business might make sense in the context of that growth? 

[31:59] He swept me off my feet. He was so convinced that what he was doing was basically the work of God and that somehow the money would materialize. The real wild card was, could he really run a business? That wasn’t a gimme. Of course, about two years later I was going, Holy shit, did we back the right horse!

[34:05] Bezos plowed through them at a rapid clip, looking for someone with the same low regard for the usual way of doing things that Bezos himself had.

[34:46] Bezos looked right at Schultz and told him We are going to take this thing to the moon!

[35:16] Jeff was always a big believer that disruptive small companies could triumph. 

[35:55] I think you are underestimating the degree to which established companies will find it hard to be nimble or to focus attention on a new channel. 

[36:45] I brought him very bad news about our business and he got excited. 

[37:28] I think our company is undervalued. The world just doesn't understand what Amazon is going to be

[39:30] Bezos had imbibed Walton's book thoroughly and wove Walmart's founder's credo about frugality and a bias for action into the cultural fabric of Amazon. 

[44:54] We were all running around the halls with our hair on fire thinking What are we going to do? But not Jeff. I have never seen anyone so calm in the eye of a storm. Ice water runs through his veins. 

[53:20] Bezos met Jim Sinegal, the founder of Costco. Sinegal explained the Costco model to Bezos. It was all about customer loyalty. I think Jeff looked at it and thought that was something that would apply to his business as well. Sinegal doesn’t regret educating an entrepreneur who would evolve into a ferocious competitor. I’ve always had the opinion that we have shamelessly stolen any good ideas

[57:45] Perhaps Amazon’s founder realized he owed Sinegal a debt of gratitude, because he took the lessons he learned during that coffee in 2001 and applied them with a vengeance.

[59:37] He just never stopped believing. He never blinked once

[1:00:09] Slow steady progress can erode any challenge over time.

[1:01:40] Communication is a sign of dysfunction. It means people aren’t working together in a close, organic way. We should be trying to figure out a way for teams to communicate less with each other, not more.

[1:04:43] Like a warlord leaving the decapitated heads of his enemies on stakes outside his village walls, he was using the mounts as a symbol, and as an admonition to employees about how not to behave.

[1:06:29] I want you to understand that from this day forward, you are not bound by the old rules.

[1:12:46] I think the thing that blindsided Jeff and helped with the Kindle was the iPod, which overturned the music business faster than he thought.

[1:14:27] Bezos is not tethered by conventional thinking. What is amazing to me is that he is bound only by the laws of physics. He can’t change those. Everything else he views as open to discussion.

[1:15:01] Bezos learned that Zappos was advertising on the bottoms of the plastic bins at airport-security checkpoints. They are outthinking us! he snapped at a meeting.

[1:16:15] Companies that make things and companies that sell them have waged versions of this battle for centuries.

[1:19:04] Every anecdote from a customer matters. We research each of them because they tell us something about our metrics and processes. It’s an audit that is done for us by our customers. We treat them as precious sources of information.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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May 10, 2021
#178 Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products
01:21:33

What I learned from reading Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Productsby Leander Kahney.

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[4:43] Mike Ive influence on his son’s talent was purely nurturing. They were constantly keeping up a conversation about made-objects and hw they could be made better.

[6:39] I came to realize that what was really important was the care that was put into it. What I really despise is when I sense some carelessness in a product.

[9:24] Take big chances. Pursue a passion. Respect the work.

[11:47] His designs were incredibly simple and elegant. They were usually rather surprising but made complete sense once you saw them. You wondered why we had never seen such a product like that before.

[15:52] Grind it out. You can make something look like magic by going further than most reasonable people would go.

[17:34] The more I learned about this cheeky, almost rebellious company (Apple) the more it appealed to me, as it unapologetically pointed to an alternative in a complacent and creatively bankrupt industry. Apple stood for something and had a reason for being that wasn’t just about making money.

[24:06] He was completely interested in humanizing technology. What something should be was always the starting point for his designs.

[33:29] Jony was very serious about his work. He had a ferocious intensity about it.

[41:52] It is very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.

[51:38] Jobs didn't want to compete in the broader market for personal computers. These companies competed on price, not features or ease of use. Jobs figured theirs was a race to the bottom. Instead, he argued, there was no reason that well-designed, well-made computers couldn’t command the same market share ad margins as a luxury automobile. A BMW might get you to where you are going in the same way a Chevy that costs half the price, but there will always be those who will pay for the better ride in the sexier car. Why not make only first class-products with high margins so that Apple could continue to develop even better first-class products?

[1:19:25] A great prompt for your thinking: What is your product better than? Are you just making a cheap laptop? Or are you making an iPad? Netbooks accounted for 20% of the laptop market. But Apple never seriously considered making one. “Netbooks aren’t better than anything,” Steve Jobs said at the time. “They’re just cheap laptops.” Jony proposed that the tablets in his lab could be Apple’s answer to the netbook.

[1:20:32] It’s great if you can find what you love to do. Finding it is one thing but then to be able to practice that and be preoccupied with it is another.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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May 03, 2021
#177 Going for Broke: How Robert Campeau Bankrupted the Retail Industry, Jolted the Junk Bond Market, and Brought the Booming Eighties to a Crashing Halt
01:09:16

What I learned from reading Going for Broke: How Robert Campeau Bankrupted the Retail Industry, Jolted the Junk Bond Market, and Brought the Booming Eighties to a Crashing Halt by John Rothchild.

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[0:01] A stranger comes to Wall Street, borrows nearly $4 billion to acquire a company that six months earlier he'd never even heard of. This transaction is scarcely settled before he's allowed to borrow $7 billion more to acquire a bigger company, making him a major force in retailing, an industry he knows nothing about

[11:16] Just a few weeks back, Randall had figured that Bob might be interested in attracting a single Brooks Brothers store into one of his malls. Now in a great imaginary leap, Bob had vaulted himself into the ownership of all forty-five Brooks Brothers stores. 

[15:01 Neither Bob nor his advisers really knew one investment bank from another. "It was basically a matter of looking up names in the Yellow Pages." 

[19:42] Lehman Brothers was impressed by two things: the man's obvious, if naive, enthusiasm; and the absurdity of his proposition. Those who doubted Bob could acquire Allied had grown into a large crowd that included Bob's brain trust, his advisers in Toronto, his Toronto bankers, his advisers from Paine Webber and his lawyer. 

[21:45] This was Citicorp's first clue they were dealing with a volatile character, who soon acquired the in-house nickname Mad Bomber. 

[29:26] The M&A department they established at First Boston helped the firm to a record $125 million in earnings in 1985, a long way from the $1 million it had earned in 1978. 

[33:45] He think's he's destined to take over Allied. His fortune-teller says so. 

[41:28] Bob understood that Citicorp and First Boston, who together had invested in $1.8 billion in the Street Sweep and who were going to make hundreds of millions in fees if this deal closed, were not about to let the deal fall apart because he didn't pony up his equity. They had more of a vested interest in this deal than he did. 

[42:53] His $4.1 billion acquisition included a whopping $612 million in fees, expenses, and financing charges. 

[50:00] The purpose of business is profit, not a platform for your ego

[53:24] Bob said, "Don't worry. If somebody lends a dollar, you take it. The ramifications can be handled later. There's always some way out." He goes bankrupt shortly thereafter. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Apr 26, 2021
#176 Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary
00:52:56

What I learned from reading Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond.

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[0:01] From a party of one it now counted millions of users on every continent, including Antartica, and even outer space, if you count NASA outposts. Not only was it the most common operating system, but its very development model—an intricate web of its own, encompassing hundreds of thousands of volunteer computer programmers—had grown to become the largest collaborative project in the history of the world. 

[1:08] Revolutionaries aren’t born. Revolutions can’t be planned. Revolutions can’t be managed. Revolutions happen. And sometimes, revolutionaries just get stuck with it. 

[9:05] The Swedish language has no equivalent to the term “dysfunctional family.” As a result of the divorce, we didn’t have a lot of money. Mom would have to pawn her only investment—the single share of stock in the Helsinki telephone company. I remember going with her once and feeling embarrassed about it. Now I’m on the board of directors of the same company.

[10:13] Linus has no handlers, doesn’t listen to voice mail, and rarely responds to email. 

[10:40] I found Linus to be unexpectedly knowledgable about American business history

[13:19] Some of the smartest programmers out there are fifteen-year-old kids playing around in their rooms. It’s what I thought sixteen years ago, and I still suspect it’s true

[13:46] Everybody has a book that has changed his or her life. As I read the book I started to understand. I got a big enthusiastic jolt. Frankly, it never subsided. I hope you can say the same about something. 

[16:01] An ugly system is one in which there are special interfaces for everything you want to do. Unix is the opposite. It gives you the building blocks that are sufficient for doing everything. That’s what having a clean design is all about. It’s the same with languages. The English language has twenty-six letters and you can build up everything from those letters. Unix comes with a small-is-beautiful philosophy. It has a small set of simple basic building blocks that can be combined into something that allows for infinite complexity of expression. 

[17:39] You should absolutely not dismiss simplicity for something easy. It takes design and good taste to be simple. 

[27:42] You can do something the brute force way, the stupid, grind-the-problem-down-until-it’s-not-a-problem-anymore way, or you can find the right approach and suddenly the problem just goes away. You look at the problem another way, and you have this epiphany: It was only a problem because you were looking at it the wrong way. 

[29:00] That was the point where I almost gave up, thinking it would be too much work and not worth it

[50:52] It’s been well established that folks do their best work when they are driven by a passion. When they are having fun. This is as true for playwrights and sculptors and entrepreneurs as it is for software engineers

[51:48] Survive. Socialize. Have fun. That’s the progression. And that’s also why we chose “Just For Fun” as the title of this book. Because everything we ever do seems to eventually end up being for our own entertainment. 

[52:02] My theory of the meaning of life doesn’t actually guide you in what you should be doing. At most, it says “Yes, you can fight it, but in the end the ultimate goal of life is to have fun.” 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Apr 18, 2021
#175 Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
01:19:48

What I learned from reading The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard.

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Apr 11, 2021
#174 Overdrive: Bill Gates
00:48:15

What I learned from reading Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace by James Wallace.

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There would be an industry breakthrough unimagined at the time, and it would be made by a company that didn’t yet exist. [7:55]

Another corollary to Joys Law of Innovation was that the number of bright people in any company went down as the size went up. [10:47]

As Apple founder Steve Jobs liked to say: When you are at simplicity, there ain’t no complexity. [12:49]

Gates looks at everything as something that should be his. He acts in any way he can to make it his. It can be an idea, market share, or a contract. There is not an ounce of conscientiousness or compassion in him. The notion of fairness means nothing to him. The only thing he understands is leverage. [17:21]

I became convinced that Microsoft was building the last minicomputer. That the Microsoft Network was based on the notion that your competitors were the model — proprietary online services like America Online — and that the reality was that the Internet was going to be such a fundamental paradigm shift, that you needed to think about your strategies fundamentally differently. [28:08]

The single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas. — Zero to One [29:25]

Most college kids knew much more than we did because they were exposed to it. If I had wanted to connect to the Internet, it would have been easier for me to get into my car and drive over to the University of Washington than to try and get on the Internet at Microsoft. [31:12]

For years , Gates had Kahn in his sights. Kahn recalled that he once had found Gates at an industry conference in the late 1980s sitting alone in a corner, looking at a photograph in his hands. “It was a picture of me,” said Kahn. [41:16]

It’s not in Microsoft’s bones to cooperate with other companies. [42:47]

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Apr 05, 2021
#173 The Life and Times of Louis B. Mayer
01:09:22

What I learned from reading Hollywood Rajah: The Life and Times of Louis B. Mayer by Bosley Crowther. 

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The reason so many people showed up at his funeral was because they wanted to make sure he was dead. [0:50]

He is in that phalanx of men of aggressive bent who seized on the opportunities that an expanding civilization exposed. With them, he ascended to high places along an upwardly spiraling route that was there to be ascended by those who had the necessary stamina and drive. And, with some of them , he was unsettled and rendered dizzy by the heights, so that he could not control his footing when the road itself began to narrow and fall. [2:07] 

His own recollections of his early childhood were mercifully meager and dim. They were mainly recollections of being hungry. That was the only memory Mayer had of himself as a little boy. [7:01] 

How powerful and violent were the urges in the depths of the growing boy to break out of his immigrant encasement. [10:27] 

One of his favorite maxims had to do with behavior in adversity. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." [11:55] 

He wanted to be a film producer. He wanted to get into that realm of fabrication and creation where glamour and excitement were. [27:00] 

My unchanging policy will be great star, great director, great play, great cast. You are authorized to get these without stint or limit. Spare nothing, neither expense, time, nor effort. Results only are what I am after. [33:00]

It was not all sunshine and profits with Mayer’s company during these embryonic days. Mayer was far from being one of the top producers of Hollywood. He was a small, enterprising operator. There were many others like him, clawing to get minor stars and unattached directors to make their pictures and help them to get ahead. On some films they picked up profits, on others they definitely did not. The business was always a gamble for them, as it was for Mayer. [39:13] 

The radical and profound transition (sound in movies) was spread over two or three years. Compulsion more than planning impelled it, against resistance within the industry. [49:57] 

The system (sound) was not regarded as anything more than a novelty by the remainder of the industry. [54:45] 

Mayer was no doubt a brilliant man, with vision and understanding in the business of manufacturing films as well as a fervor for investing in talent in every phase of production, to the point of extravagance, he was also a careless manager, a favorer with stubborn likes and dislikes, and a braggart who wasted his time and the time of others telling them what a great man he was. [1:01:33] 

 Mayer had a psychopathic need for power. [1:07:40] 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Mar 28, 2021
#172 Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX
01:05:57

What I learned from reading Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX by Eric Berger. 

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[12:38] Numerous other entrepreneurs had tried playing at rocket science before, Musk well knew. He wanted to learn from their mistakes so as not to repeat them

[20:55]  He could be difficult to work for, certainly. But his early hires could immediately see the benefits of working for someone who wanted to get things done and often made decisions on the spot. When Musk decided that Spincraft could make good tanks for a fair price, that was it. No committees. No reports. Just, done. 

[22:05] Most of all he channeled a preternatural force to move things forward. Elon Musk just wants to get shit done. 

[27:42] The iterative approach begins with a goal and almost immediately leaps into concept designs , bench tests, and prototypes. The mantra with this approach is build and test early, find failures, and adapt. This is what SpaceX did. 

[41:24] It is perhaps worth noting that those launch companies that succeeded also took their lumps along the way, Musk wrote in a postmortem. SpaceX is in this for the long haul and, come hell or high water, we are going to make this work. 

[42:24] Musk’s management style: Don’t talk about doing things, just do things

[43:15]  If you’re trying to do something no other commercial company has ever done, you had better have some confidence

[44:00] I make the spending decisions and the engineering decisions in one head. Normally those are at least two people. There’s some engineering guy who’s trying to convince a finance guy that this money should be spent. But the finance guy doesn’t understand engineering, so he can’t tell if this is a good way to spend money or not. Whereas I’m making the engineering decisions and spending decisions. So I know, already, that my brain trusts itself. 

[45:37] He didn’t want to fail, but he wasn’t afraid of it. 

[50:50] It’s not like other rocket scientists were huge idiots who wanted to throw their rockets away all the time. It’s fucking hard to make something like this. One of the hardest engineering problems known to man is making a reusable orbital rocket. Nobody has succeeded. For a good reason. Our gravity is a bit heavy. On Mars this would be no problem. Moon, piece of cake. On Earth, fucking hard. Just barely possible. It’s stupidly difficult to have a fully reusable orbital system. It would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of humanity. That’s why it’s hard. Why does this hurt my brain? It’s because of that. Really, we’re just a bunch of monkeys. How did we even get this far? It beats me. We were swinging through the trees, eating bananas not long ago. 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Mar 21, 2021
#171 The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune
01:09:07

Buy the book The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune by Conor O'Clery.

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He celebrated having divested himself personally of the vast wealth with which fate and his genius for making money had burdened him. [0:01] 

Feeney was already showing a trait that would assert itself throughout his life: thinking big and aiming to achieve the best result, even if it seemed unattainable. [3:27]

I all of a sudden realized, shit, you can sell this to anybody, anywhere. [12:45] 

Feeney believed that there could be more lucrative opportunities in the less  crowded Pacific. [21:53] 

Chuck lived out of his briefcase. Everything was connected with business. We did a lot of screwy things. I became part of what he called his ‘teen  age frontier’ approach to business, because he surrounded himself with smart college youngsters, mostly single and aggressive ‘conquerors of the world.’ I was the oldest, always the damper, saying to him, "Are you out of your mind?" [25:44]

We hadn’t spent any time on corporate structuring or anything like that, we were just simply busy selling cars, duty — free liquor, making the cash, putting the cash in the bank, cash in, and cash out. [28:06]

They were on the verge of going bankrupt, perhaps already were. Feeney and Miller were almost back where they started. They could perhaps boost the cash flow from the duty   free shops in Hong Kong and Hawaii to clear off the debts. Feeney had moments of despair. “Of course. It goes with the territory. But there wasn’t much we could do. It was something we had started, and we thought we were going to make a million dollars out of it. We had no choice but to salvage the company or go over the cliff.” [31:21] 

The duty   free shops began to make substantial profits, the owners agreed to take 90 percent of the dividends in cash, a practice that would continue for a quarter of a century. [44:54] 

Paradoxically, while Feeney became more frugal, he was pushing himself ever harder to build up the business that was making him even richer. [48:26] 

He brings a focus on business that I hadn’t experienced before. If something doesn’t work, he has four or so different thoughts. He has a multifaceted way of looking at business. He is detail oriented in his approach. [48:51] 

His definition of success was not having all the money one desired, but being able to raise a happy, healthy family. “There has to be a balance in life. A balance of business, family, and the opportunity to learn and teach." [49:41] 

They were offering to pay the State of Hawaii some $2 million every three days, for the next five years, just for the right to run a couple of stores. [58:38] 

What only the four owners knew was that during that period (1978–1988), they had received cash dividends of $867 million, of which Chuck Feeney had got $334 million. [1:00:53] 

A new divorce settlement was reached that gave Danielle an additional $60 million. Feeney insisted that Danielle get all the family homes, in Paris, London, the south of France, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New York. He took nothing himself from the family property. [1:03:33] 

Nobody ever put a penny in the business. We took out $ 8 billion or whatever it was. Nobody is that smart. You have just got to have a lot of things going your way. [1:07:56] 

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I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

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Mar 15, 2021
#170 My Life in Advertising
01:19:06

What I learned from reading My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins. 

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Any man who by a lifetime of excessive application learns more about anything than others owes a statement to successors. The results of research should be recorded. Every pioneer should blaze his trail. That is all I have tried to do. [0:19]

There are few pages in “My Life in Advertising” which do not repay careful study—and which do not merit rereading. Before your eyes, a successful advertising life is lived—with all that went to make it successful. The lessons taught are taught exactly as they were learned. They are dished up dripping with life. It is not a book, it is an experience—and experience has always been the great teacher. [2:49] 

The man who does two or three times the work of another learns two or three times as much. He makes more mistakes and more successes, and he learns from both. If I have gone higher than others in advertising, or done more, the fact is not due to exceptional ability, but to exceptional hours. [11:00]

To poverty I owe the fact that I never went to college. I spent those four years in the school of experience. [15:16] 

If a thing is useful they call it work, if useless they call it play. One is as hard as the other. One can be just as much a game as the other. [20:27] 

A young man can come to regard his life work as the most fascinating game that he knows. And it should be. The applause of athletics dies in a moment. The applause of success gives one cheer to the grave. [23:16] 

A good product is its own best salesman. It is uphill work to sell goods, in print or in person, without samples. [27:02] 

I consider business as a game and I play it as a game. That is why I have been, and still am, so devoted to it. [33:44] 

I sold more carpet sweepers by my one-cent letters than fourteen salesmen on the road combined. [45:31]

No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration. [50:10]

We must treat people in advertising as we treat them in person. Center on their desires. [53:46] 

Again and again I have told simple facts, common to all makers in the line—too common to be told. The maker is too close to his product. He sees in his methods only the ordinary. He does not realize that the world at large might marvel at those methods, and that facts which seem commonplace to him might give him vast distinction. [56:57] 

Serve better than others, offer more than others, and you are pretty sure to win. [57:45] 

There are other ways, I know, to win in selling and in advertising. But they are slow and uncertain. Ask a person to take a chance on you, and you have a fight. Offer to take a chance on him, and the way is easy. [57:52] 

So far as I know, no ordinary human being has ever resisted Albert Lasker. He has commanded what he would in this world. Nothing he desired has ever been forbidden him. So I yielded, as all do, to his persuasiveness. [1:00:07] 

The greatest two faults in advertising lie in boasts and in selfishness. [1:01:01] 

It is curious how we all desire to excel in something outside of our province. That leads many men astray. Men make money in one business and lose it in many others. They seem to feel that one success makes them superbusiness men. [1:04:04] 

I earned in commissions as high as $185,000 in a year. ($4,000,000 in today's dollars) All earned at a typewriter which I operated myself, without a clerk or secretary. [1:06:33] 

Most success comes through efficiency. Most failures are due to waste. [1:10:22] 

Human nature does not change. The principles set down in this book are as enduring as the Alps. [1:17:01] 

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Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly which I will answer in Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes 

----

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast

Mar 08, 2021
#169 The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising
01:28:07