AuthorSean P. Murray

How Bucky the Bean Counter Created a World-Class Culture at Nike

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From a very young age, Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, went by the nickname “Buck.” His father had always referred to him as such, and the name stuck. Even when he ran track for the University of Oregon his track coach, the legendary Bill Bowerman (and Nike’s other co-founder), called him Buck. As Nike grew more successful so did Phil’s stature in the business community, and Phil was increasingly referred to as “Mr. Knight.” But there was one group of early Nike employees who never got the...

Ulysses S. Grant: 12 Leadership Lessons

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1. Find a Profession Where Your Passion Meets Your Purpose. The same man who decisively and strategically lead over a million soldiers through a brutal Civil War, was unable to manage his brother’s leather goods store in Galena, IL in civilian life. Context matters. Grant was not just twice as successful or three times as successful as a military leader compared to a business leader, he was a thousand times more successful. Finding the profession most suitable to your talents and most...

If Business is War, Jeff Bezos is a lot like Ulysses S. Grant

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In 1861, Ulysses S. Grant was managing his brother’s leather goods store in Galena, IL, having retired from the military seven years prior. When the Civil War broke out later that year, he reenlisted and quickly rose through the ranks. The officers Grant replaced on his meteoric rise to Commanding General of the Union Army shared a common trait: they were indecisive. While others fretted and stalled, Grant would study the situation, make the best possible decision and move on. In an...

The 8 Best CEOs from the Past 50 Years

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In the 2012 Berkshire Hathaway Letter to Shareholders, Warren Buffett recommended the book The Outsiders, by William Thorndike, calling it “an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.” It tells the story of eight unconventional CEOs who managed to outperform the S&P 500 by over twenty times. How did they do it? It wasn’t through charismatic leadership – they were not cheerleaders or marketers. In fact, they rarely landed on the front page of a...

Setting A Goal this Year? Make it a Process Goal

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Source: Reference-Dependent Preferences: Evidence from Marathon Runners It is the distribution of marathon finishing times collected from over 9 million runners. You might expect to see a smooth bell curve centered around the average time, but that is not what is depicted here. The general outline of the bell curve is evident, but it is punctuated with discrete spikes. At each major time interval, there is a peak of finishers followed by a lull. Anyone who has ever run a road race knows exactly...

Charlie Munger on Bitcoin and Second-Order Thinking

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Charlie Munger turned 94 this year. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska during the Great Depression. Through hard work, continuous learning, persistence, and generally avoiding stupidity, Munger has become one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet. Warren Buffett looks to Munger for advice. He’s literally seen it all. So I find it fascinating that people are clamoring for his opinion on Bitcoin. In a recent interview he offered this response: I think it’s perfectly asinine to even pause...

To Improve Decision Making, Focus on the Process not the Outcome

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Imagine walking through a Las Vegas casino and observing the following: A patron at the Blackjack table is dealt a 17. The gambler decides to take a hit. The dealer turns over a 4. The player wins. The dealer says to the gambler, “good decision.” But was it? Well, in this particular case the outcome was positive, but we know there was a considerable amount of luck involved. In Blackjack, when a player hits on 17 there is a much greater chance of busting (losing) than there is of...

My Favorite Books of 2017

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A list of the top 15 books I read in 2017: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.  This is the same biographer that wrote wonderful biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.  The power of Da Vinci’s intellect and the insatiable nature of his curiosity is well detailed in this volume.  Isaacson focuses on Da Vinci’s ability to master multiple disciplines (painting, sculpture, science, engineering, writing, anatomy, biology and so much more).  Da Vinci was a...

Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark

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Charles M. Russell: Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia From May 1804 to September 1806, two men led an expedition from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back again. The group covered over 7,000 miles, crossed the Rocky Mountains in harsh conditions, and encountered numerous Native American tribes, both friendly and hostile. They were the first people of European descent to explore this territory.  Only one man died on the journey, and that was likely from acute appendicitis. All...

Management vs. Leadership

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I’m often asked, “what is the difference between management and leadership?”  The best answer I’ve ever heard, and the one I usually give is: Management is about doing things right.  Leadership is about doing the right thing. Like any great aphorism, it is short and memorable.  It does a decent job communicating the big concept, but it can be a little dissatisfying.  The natural follow up question is always, “yes, but how does it really work in practice?”...

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