Bill Campbell was known as “The Coach” of Silicon Valley. He directly mentored and coached many of the Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs and businesses. He coached Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and a hundred other well-known tech superstars that would ultimately credit him for a substantial part of their success. Bill Campbell passed away in 2016.
In the book, Trillion Dollar Coach, authors Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle, write a tribute to the “The Coach”. They interview 80 of his “players” and connect the dots in how he was so successful creating leaders.
Bill Campbell sat on the board of Apple, Google, Intuit, and many others while also coaching many people individually. He would never accept compensation for his coaching, and if he did he would give it to charity. He didn’t measure his success in dollars and cents. “I measure my success in how many leaders I can help create.”
This book outlines his strategies in building people and building teams. There are wonderful stories of Bill scattered throughout the book. Here are a couple:
Work the Team, Then the Problem.
Bill Campbell was asked to step in multiple times at Google and provide advice when a problem arose. He often noticed people would focus on the problem before focusing on creating the right team to deal with the problem. It was always, work the team, then the problem. If you have the right team, they will figure out the problem.
Even when your losing, recommit to the cause, and lead.
Bill was coaching Nirav Tolia, CEO of Nextdoor, who was at the time the CEO of a dot com called Epinions. Epinions had been going through tough times and looking for a merger candidate. Nirav informed the management team of the board’s decision to seek a sale or merger. A crucial management team member got scared and bailed on the company. This was the worst time to leave since the company needed to put its best foot forward in showing value to potential acquirers. Nirav called Bill and told him that “Bob” left. Bill said he would come right over and to bring the team together.
Bill walks in and says, “I love you guys, but there is something that is really bothering me. Bob leaving, he betrayed us. He was disloyal. He left us in our time of need. F&$K him.”
Bill then got up and left the building without saying anything else.
Once Nirav adjourned the meeting he got a call from Bill who said, “I bet no one else is going to quit on you now.”
Give Undivided Attention
When Bill Campbell gave his attention to someone or something he gave his undivided attention. In the 2000’s he coached a middle school flag football team twice a week for a couple of hours per week. He told everyone not to disturb him during this time. His players tell the story about how everyone knew not to disturb Bill. Everyone, but Steve Jobs. Jobs would call and Bill would pull the phone out of the pocket, look at it, and put it back in his pocket unanswered. One of his players said:
“There was nothing cooler than knowing that for that hour of practice, we were the most important thing to him. We had his full attention.”
You will enjoy the book. You can buy it [HERE].
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