Companies Can’t Be Great Unless They’ve Almost Failed

What the best-performing stocks of the last 30 years have in common.

Why the Future Belongs to Tough-Minded Optimists

Are you one?

How One Fast-Food Chain Keeps Its Turnover Rates Absurdly Low

Hire for attitude, and train (a lot) for skill.

Why You Should Read Your Memo Out Loud

Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company, offers tips for making your writing more memorable.

Fix Their Problem, Win the Deal

Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company, shares an important lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs: your proposal won’t win or lose strictly on the merits of your idea; it has to solve a problem for the other party.

Why Kindness Is Good Business

Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company, shares how a small act of kindness left a lasting impression.

“What Customers Crave Is a Sense of Humanity”

Fun interview with yours truly at Time.com.

You can read it here.

Great Leaders Are Insatiable Learners

In these head-spinning times, the challenge for leaders is not to out-hustle, out-muscle, or out-maneuver the competition. It is to out-think the competition in ways big and small, to develop a unique point of view about the future and get there before anyone else does. The best leaders I’ve gotten to know aren’t just the boldest thinkers; they are the most insatiable learners.

Roy Spence, perhaps the most interested (and interesting) advertising executive I’ve ever met, recently published a book called The Ten Essential Hugs of Life, a funny and moving take on the roots of success. Among his wise and folksy pieces of advice (“Hug your failures,” “Hug your fears,” “Hug yourself”) is a call to “Hug your firsts” — to seek out new sources of inspiration, to visit a lab whose work you don’t really understand, to attend a conference you shouldn’t be at. “When you’re a kid,” he says, “every day is full of firsts, full of new experiences. As you get older, your firsts become fewer and fewer. If you want to stay young, you have to work to keep trying new things.

Over at HBR, you can read my latest blog post, on why “The Best Leaders Are Insatiable Learners.”

The Best Leaders “Talk the Walk”

One of the most ubiquitous aphorisms in business is that the best leaders understand the need to “walk the talk”—that is, their behavior and day-to-day actions have to match the aspirations they have for their colleagues and organization. But the more time I spend with game-changing innovators and high-performing companies, the more I appreciate the need for leaders to “talk the walk”—that is, to be able to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win.

 

The only sustainable for of business leadership is thought leadership. And leaders that think differently about their business invariably talk about it differently as well. Over at Harvard Business Review, I explore the role of language in leadership. You can read the post here.