Excellence wins by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill

Cover page of the book called Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill.

Marketers usually classify businesses as B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to customers). I personally believe, there is only one kind of business P2P (people to people) and this is what counts.

Excellence wins is an amazing book by Horst Schulze who let the Ritz-Carlton group of hotels. Boy oh boy, it is a fun and easy read. Just pick this up and read it. There are so many beautiful pieces of stories and takeaways that one can easily adapt to our lives.

This book as validated my beliefs even more. I could share so many learnings from this book but this time I am going to break the rule and share the Eight key questions.

In chapter 14 Horst talks about eight key questions any leader who runs a business or is contemplating to start one needs to have answers to.

  1. Make a decision about what industry you are going to enter
  2. Decide which market segment of this industry you’re going to pursue – budget/bargain, mid-range, top-end
  3. Zero in what customers want in this market segment
  4. Start figuring out how to meet those desires as efficiently as possible
  5. Think about how you’re going to let the customer individualise or customise their experience
  6. How are you going to give your employees a sense of belonging, of buy-in, to the work
  7. Plan how you’re going to accurately measure what you’ve set out to accomplish
  8. Are you fully committed to making this happen

Boris Johnson

I watched Boris Johnson being questioned by the Health Committee over Coronavirus situation.

One thing that stands out is Boris’ lack of details.

Any leader – with a private organisation or that of a public/Government organisation needs to have two key qualities.

1. Rally the troops. You need to be one of the finest marketers out there. Someone who can get across their message to the masses.

2. A decision-maker. Taking in all the data that you can and then using it to make key decisions. You need to be analytical.

These two qualities are diagonally opposite and hence to master these you need to be an exception to the rule. Usually you are either good at one of the two things.

From what I see, Boris has marketing skills. That’s how he was able to rally the electorate to vote him into the power. But he lacks the analytical and decision-making skills to deliver his promises. The failure is apparent when it comes to the Covid-19, losing 39K lives is horrible. Sure, you can argue, maybe the death toll could have been even enormous, we will never know. My perspective comes from his vague responses to the Health Committee. Kier Starmer’s recent questions during the Question hour has shown how different he is to his predecessor. His clam, composed and forensic questioning will expose the lack of analytical skills of our Dear PM in the months to come.

I can be completely wrong. I usually am. Only time will decide.

Measurement vs Inspection

Below is a brilliant excerpt from the book Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill.

Emphasis is my own.

Chapter 13, page 187

It is absolutely essential to know where a company stands. Measurement is how we determine the gap between where we think we are and where we actually are.

. . .

If I don’t measure things, I won’t know which gaps need to be filled, and that means I won’t know where I need to improve.

. . .

Some people think measurement is the boss’s tool for control – a game of “gotcha”, a scheme to make employees look bad. No, that’s not the point at all. There is a difference between inspection and measurement. Inspection means you’re looking over someone’s shoulder, trying to catch them messing up. Measurement means taking samples to determine if you and the people you’ve chosen for your organisation are fulfilling your overall vision – and if not, how to get closer to the goal in the future.

The price of tomorrow by Jeff Booth

I watched Jeff Booth’s interview on Real Vision and since then this book was on the list. Preston Pysh, who I follow and consider one of my inspiration, budge me on Twitter to prioritise this book over anything else that I was reading. And, he was right!

This is one of the books which challenges your core belief system and what is considered as common knowledge. I rank this book in the same league as Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel. The books explores a lot of topics and pitches why technology will result in deflation and how we need to be prepared for it.

This is a must read book to understand how technology will bring abundance and as a result will lead to deflation. Below are a few key insights/learnings from the book.

  • Our economic systems were not built for a world driven by technology where prices keep falling. They were built for a pre-technology era when labour and capital were inextricably linked, an era that counted on growth and inflation, an era where we made money from scarcity and inefficiency. That era is over. But we keep on pretending that those economic systems still work.
  • The only thing driving growth in the world today is easy credit, which is being created at a pace that is hard to comprehend.
  • When we use technology, there is an exponential effect in its output or power relative to its price. We get far greater benefit and the price continues to fall. The abundance that it brings to our lives is incredible and it is all around us.
  • With inflation, holders of assets win, since the dollars in the future are worth less and it would, therefore, take more dollars to buy assets at a later date—like my parents and their first house. With deflation, holders of currency are the winners, since their dollars can buy more goods and services in the future than they could today.

Trade like a stock market wizard by Mark Minervini

This is a good book for a trader who wants to understand what goes into buying trending stocks. Mark shares a great deal of information about his trading method and goes in-depth to explain this. There are numerous examples, as well.

Below are some memorable nuggets

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.

—Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion
  • . . .most people have a natural tendency to overestimate what they can achieve in the short run and underestimate what they can accomplish over the long haul.
  • The difference between interest and commitment is the will not to give up. When you truly commit to something, you have no alternative but success. Getting interested will get you started, but commitment gets you to the finish line.
  • One thing you can count on is that history will repeat itself. The only question is: How good a student are you?

The world is full of people looking for a secret formula for success. They do not want to think on their own; they justwant a recipe to follow. They are attracted to the idea of strategy for that very reason.

Robert Greene

Uncertainty by Howard Marks

Howard is one of my favourite authors out there. His memos are a must-read and I have been a follower since past 18 months.

His recent memo which stands out is titled Uncertainty. You can read the full memo by clicking here

Below are some quotes as found in this memo.

In some recent memos, I’ve mentioned Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard’sT.H. Chan School of Public Health. In my version of his hierarchy, there are

(a) facts,

(b) logical inferences from past experience and

(c) guesses.

. . .if you’ve never experienced something before, you can’t say you know how it’s going to turn out.

No one can succeed in predicting things that are heavily influenced by randomness and otherwise inconsistent.

No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all of your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.

Ian E. Wilson (former Chairman of GE)

People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

George Orwell

Forecasts create the mirage that the future is knowable.

Peter Bernstein

The future you shall know when it has come; before then forget it.

Aeschylus

Forecasts usually tell us more of the forecaster than of the future.

Warren Buffett

Shokunin

I was watching Paul Hollywood Eats Japan. It is a travel trail of Pual Hollywood who visits Japans and eats different delicacies of various parts of Japan. One of the joints he visits is tempura restuarnat, and this guy cooks the best of the best tempura out there! And how can someone claim to be the best at tempura? Well, this gentleman has made for over 23 years! Most of the adult life he has lived and mastered the art of making tempura!

Let this set in, 23 years, i.e., circa 8,300 days of coking one thing, and one thing only tempura! Japan has a term to explain such a master craftsman, Shokunin.

Shokunin in Japanese script.

Very few of us have the dedication of devoting our lives to a single pursuit of a particular activity or a hobby.

My latest project has been trading the financial markets, do I live the next two decades to master this art? I do not now. I am early in my journey, started since Oct 2017 and with every passing day learning more and desire to learn runs even deeper. Time will tell if I can master the art of trading or not, but that is certainly the goal.

The Bitcoin Standard

Coverpage of the book titled The Bitcoing Standard

This book is the most inappropriately titled book!
The reason is simple, 85% of the book isn’t about Bitcoin! Only the last two chapters talk about Bitcoin.

However, this is one of the most fundamental books you will ever read about money and whats about. The book details what should be the properties of sound money. The history that goes back to centuries and travels through this time to explain how we got where we are.80% of the books talks about the issues with fiat currency and how a scarce resource like Bitcoin could possiblity the future of money which isn’t controlled by any Government body!

Money for the people, by the people, of the people.

Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Pennies make pounds. And moments make memories.

Pushing the boundaries of what is possible and uplifting the mundane experience is what I am all about and this book helps you to create such powerful moments as an individual as well as an organisation.

This is the simplest explanation of what this book is all about. It teaches you how to recognise these important instances in your life be made memorable.

Below is the story which defines how Manipur changes to routine processes can bring about massive positive changes.

Lani Lorenz Fry understood this opportunity. Fry, who worked in global brand strategy and marketing at John Deere, had heard from the company’s leaders in Asia that they were struggling with employee engagement and retention. “John Deere is not a well-known brand there,” Fry said. “It’s not like the Midwest in the U.S., where your grandpa probably had a John Deere tractor.” As a result, employees had less of an emotional tie to the brand.

Fry and her colleagues on the brand team saw an opportunity to build that connection—and it had to start on the employee’s first day. Collaborating with the customer experience consultant Lewis Carbone, the team designed what it called the First Day Experience.2 Here’s the way they wanted the day to unfold (you may notice some differences from the first-day story above):

Shortly after you accept the offer letter from John Deere, you get an email from a John Deere Friend. Let’s call her Anika. She introduces herself and shares some of the basics: where to park, what the dress norms are, and so forth. She also tells you that she’ll be waiting to greet you in the lobby at 9 a.m. on your first day.

When your first day comes, you park in the right place and make your way to the lobby, and there’s Anika! You recognize her from her photo. She points to the flat-screen monitor in the lobby—it features a giant headline: “Welcome, Arjun!”

Anika shows you to your cubicle. There’s a six-foot-tall banner set up next to it—it rises above the cubes to alert people that there’s a new hire. People stop by over the course of the day to say hello to you.

As you get settled, you notice the background image on your monitor: It’s a gorgeous shot of John Deere equipment on a farm at sunset, and the copy says, “Welcome to the most important work you’ll ever do.”

You notice you’ve already received your first email. It’s from Sam Allen, the CEO of John Deere. In a short video, he talks a little bit about the company’s mission: “to provide the food, shelter, and infrastructure that will be needed by the world’s growing population.” He closes by saying, “Enjoy the rest of your first day, and I hope you’ll enjoy a long, successful, fulfilling career as part of the John Deere team.”

Now you notice there’s a gift on your desk. It’s a stainless steel replica of John Deere’s original “self-polishing plow,” created in 1837. An accompanying card explains why farmers loved it.

At midday, Anika collects you for a lunch off-site with a small group. They ask about your background and tell you about some of the projects they’re working on. Later in the day, the department manager (your boss’s boss) comes over and makes plans to have lunch with you the next week.

You leave the office that day thinking, I belong here. The work we’re doing matters. And I matter to them.

Heath, Chip. The Power of Moments (pp. 20-21). Transworld. Kindle Edition.