November 26, 2009

Good reads on running a company

Both Sides of The Table: Don't Roll out the Red Carpet on the Way out the Door. "In life you only come across A++ players occasionally. In every company I think 4-5 people really make most of the difference in your success. Everybody employed at BuildOnline and Koral was important to me – don't get me wrong – but 4-5 were the "core." Ryan was certainly one of them.

My lesson: don't take your superstars for granted. Find ways to Roll out the Red Carpet while they're still in the castle."

Fred Destin: How a great entrepreneur deals with complexity. "1. Oversimplify and execute well. If you make a mistake in strategy you can generally correct it by executing well even if you execute something else [...]
4. Push your team beyond what you and they think they are capable of - they will be more empowered and will be able to complete more on their own if they are reaching for a high bar"

Knowledge@Wharton: Apollo Management's Marc Rowan: 'The Best Returns Follow Chaos'."But the core that we created, the belief that we created almost by accident, was no Chinese wall. The thing that we have done really well as a firm is run the firm without any information blockages. The way we think about our business is that we have a library of information. That library, today, is very prevalent across eight or nine different industries. In those eight or nine different industries, we have partners who have worked 15 or 20 years. We've owned multiple companies, multiple CEOs. We get a tremendous amount of industry information.

One of the sectors that I've mentioned that we are very active in is in the metals business. We own aluminum plants. We own metals distribution companies. We own metals resources companies. We therefore possess not market-based metal information, but unique, on-the-ground, customer flow, spot information about what is happening in various markets. Sometimes we monetize that information by making equity investments for control. Private equity. Sometimes we use our knowledge of that business to make good debt investments. That's the core of our lending business. And sometimes what we do is we blend the two. We see both a trading opportunity as well as an opportunity to run a business that can provide differentiated returns for investors, like a metals hedge fund.

So what we are doing is, we're simply leveraging the information that already exists within our firm, and expressing it not as a private equity fund, or not as a mezzanine fund or as a debt fund, but as a commodities trading fund. You will see us not just grow a commodities trading fund, you will see us build a commodities private equity business around the same capability."

Colin Powell on leadership:

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