Jonathan Rosenberg: Rules to success

Brad Abrams (@brada) tweeted about this video yesterday:

I don’t know where to begin. First, this speaker is one of those people who has a lot of great ideas in his head, but was not blessed with the gift of presenting. Either that or he just didn’t put a lot of time into organization of this content. That is unfortunate, because there are quite a few really great points, here. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person, but this was extremely tough for me to follow and remember.

I watched it once, and then decided to go over it again and take some notes, because there was just sooo much content, and many nuggets of goodness. To be clear, I strongly disagree with him on a few points, but most points were pretty good.

If you don’t have the :40 minutes to blow, here are my notes on this shotgun blast of interesting ideas! 🙂  Note that the quotes of sayings that aren’t credited were said by the speaker; notes in parenthesis are my comments:

-"Surround yourself with the smartest people you can find" -Leon Hollerman
-Motivate workers by selling the goal, not by assigning tasks


  • Overcommunicate as much as you can.
  • Openly share everything with your colleagues. New value today is by sharing, not by hoarding.
  • Repetition helps communicate an idea.
  • Choose your words wisely, be succinct.
  • Use narratives. Leaders are teachers; teachers are successful by teaching with stories.
    • You learn by listening, not talking.
    • If you must talk, ask questions – this airs out unknowns.
    • Unless you are the expert, then state the facts and don’t ask questions.
  • Convince your audience by showing them, instead of telling them.
  • Respond to e-mail immediately, processes can stall waiting on you.

Company cultures

  • Avoid HIPPOs (highest paid persons opinion). Titles shouldn’t win arguments, good ideas should.
  • You shouldn’t be able to figure out the org chart, by looking at a product. When you open a box and see 8 “Read Me Firsts”, there is a problem at the company.
  • Get rid of bureaucracy, in all forms.
  • For a goal, ask for a winning strategy + required tactics (ask what’s needed, to be successful)
  • People are more productive if they are crowded. Get rid of work-from-home, it is a "malignant, metastasizing cancer – ban it". (Really?!)
    • Put smart people in close quarters can have energetic results.
    • Small groups are self-correcting in terms of behavior and have built-in social controls.
  • Empower small teams. Every great thing that has ever been done, has been done by small teams or individuals. (this is a great point!)
  • Once someone shows themselves to be a liar; consider them always a liar.
  • "Doveryai no proveryai" Russian proverb, "Trust, but verify".
  • Focus on value, rather than costs. Revenue solves almost all problems. Spend 80% of your time on 80% of your revenue.
  • "Hope" is not a plan.
  • Success breeds envy and jealousy; be humble with your success.
  • Do all reorganizations in a day.

Hiring and Development

  • Know how to hire. Good people get more good people. Bad people hire more bad people.
  • Have committees hire and promote people, not a single person.
  • Instead of laying off the bottom 10%, don’t hire them in the first place.
  • It’s much more difficult to fire someone, then it is to hire them.
  • Don’t hire, and don’t be a specialist – especially in technology.
  • Change is the only thing constant, in technology.
  • You cannot teach passion. Enthusiasts will do more, simply because they love it.
  • Don’t compromise hiring quality because of urgency.
  • Weed out and get rid of bad eggs.
  • Diversity gives you more perspectives, which will give you a better product or service.
  • Life isn’t fair: disproportionally reward risk-takers and performance. Reward the behavior you want to grow.
  • Build around the people who have the most impact / purge the bad eggs. Pick on the people you don’t like until they leave the company.

Decision making

  • Strive for consensus, not unanimity. Striving for perfection will slow you down. Find the acceptable point for “most people” and go with that.
  • With dissent, people won’t truly buy into the idea until all the choices have been openly debated.
  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Where there is harmony, there is no innovation. New ideas come from discussions and conflict.

Fostering innovation

  • You can’t manage or dictate creativity.
  • Create a culture of "yes" and be willing to change. Innovators at big companies are treated like a virus. "Pessimists don’t change the world." (great point!)
  • Don’t stop others from moving forward with an idea because you have a better one. Grow all ideas and let natural course weed out the weakest.
  • It is a leaders job to build the capability for recovery after a failure, not to avoid risk.
  • A good crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Growth and experience only come from failure. A crisis becomes a narrative for people to learn from.


  • Learn something new, so that you remember how hard it is to learn.
  • Teach something, it helps you learn.
  • Never stop learning.
  • "Humility is correlated with age; Arrogance is inversely correlated with age." – we become humble and less arrogant, with age.
  • "You learn more from your mistakes, then your successes."
  • "Good judgment comes experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment" -Will Rogers
  • "Show me a team that never makes a mistake, and I’ll show you a team that has never done anything innovative"
  • Smart people can smell hypocrisy. Invest in the things you claim are important. Set an example for your team.
  • Don’t burn bridges. You learn a lot about a person when they resign. Other people learn about you, when you resign.
  • "Would you work for yourself?" (great question!)
  • Communicate, confess, and comply when you mess up. Then, learn from it.
  • Don’t tell "Charge!", yell "Follow me!" (similar to selling the idea, above)

Well, this helped me put my brain around some of these ideas. As I said, there was a lot of good content, but my brain couldn’t latch onto it, in the way it was presented. So, maybe this helps you – and it will help future-me, as I reference this.

Posted in Professional Development, Uncategorized

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