I was telling Blossom yesterday that when I was starting my career I thought anyone that was a Vice President of company must be really smart. And you must be unbelievably smart if you were the CEO.
I held CEOs up on a pedestal because of all the knowledge they must have to become a CEO. It’s almost like there was a book of secrets, like in the movie National Treasure, that all CEOs are privy to.
I went on to tell my wife that I realized that as I got older, and I became a CEO, that you didn’t have to be that smart to be a CEO. And there was no book of secrets that CEOs knew about that us mere mortals didn’t know about.
In fact being a great CEO isn’t about learning little tricks, being a great CEO is about simplicity.
Flying back from New York Thursday I watched my favorite comedy of all time, The Big Lewbowski. There’s a great line that John
Goodman’s character, Walter, has in the film as he talks about Jewish people:
“A great tradition. From Moses to Sandy Koufax.”
Sandy Koufax is one of my heroes. Koufax arguably was the most dominant pitcher in Major League Baseball history.
Koufax was a two-pitch, and on many days only a one-pitch, starting baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most starting pitchers throw at least four pitches. Koufax dominated baseball by honing just two.
Koufax’s mantra was “KISS” or “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
It worked brilliantly in baseball, and simplicity in business is a key to success. That’s why tricks will not work for you as a CEO, but simplicity will work every single time.
So, rather than focus on tricks, focus on making your business as simple as possible to execute.
One of the things you learn working with great engineers is the concept of “elegant design.” Elegant design is all about a brilliant idea that is so simple and obvious to implement once you see it.
I’m working with a CEO who is building an incredibly technically complicated product. What was his solution? To make the design so simple that time implementation is unbelievably easy.
The result is a product that is literally 160 times better than the competition.
Now that the product is about to go to production, we are focusing on keeping the rest of his business just as simple to implement. That means simplicity in manufacturing, simplicity in marketing, and simplicity in selling.
All down the line, just keep it simple. And like Koufax, maybe you’ll end up in the Hall of Fame too.
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