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All corporate biographies are written by people who know the end of the story and now have to retrofit some facts and omit the others to backfill the story so that it seems like a straight line leading to success/failure.

I present to you a set of quick templates for writing business advice where you know how the story turned out.


CEO failed: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment.

CEO succeeded: They expressed confidence in their leadership and weren't afraid to explore riskier opportunities.


CEO failed: They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests.

CEO succeeded: Laser focus is what differentiates them from other [loser] CEOs. Ability to identify major problems and relentless pursue them instilled energy in top management team and eventually led to success.


CEO failed: They think they have all the answers.

CEO succeeded: Successful CEOs have to be quick at their decisions. Sometimes the underlings will deliberate too much, as rarely there are obvious strategies, and some elements of risk are involved in pursuing any new opportunity. A CEO is someone who's able to cut to the core of the issue and make a decision, so even when failure happens, it happens faster and lessons are learned.


CEO failed: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them.

CEO succeeded: There's no "i" in the "team". Avoid detractors and those who try to play politics. Focus on execution, remove all obstacles to flawless implementation.


CEO failed: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image.

CEO succeeded: Not afraid to stand up and be the face of the company. This builds trust in customers, even when the reason for standing up is to apologize for a mis-step.


CEO failed: They underestimate obstacles.

CEO succeeded: Focus on the end goal. A lot of people will try to scare you from expanding into new markets, and you know there will always be problems. It's how you deal with those problems that makes or breaks the company.


CEO failed: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past.

CEO succeeded: Stick to your gut feeling. If the business model does not seem viable, there will be plenty of distractions telling you that "this time it's different". Recognize core issues when you see them.

I said basically the same thing in a blog post when this article came out almost a year ago.


While it might be funny, I've never seen anything like this come from any of the books I've read. In fact, some of your "succeeded" advice is mentioned as "wrong" precisely for the reasons they can fail. In fact:

> retrofit some facts and omit the others to backfill the story so that it seems like a straight line leading to success/failure.

None of the good ones remotely do this. They mention the failures right along with the successes, and it's rarely a book about "their" success.

Nothing you've read, if you read anything, is of merit, not because of the subject matter, but rather, your poor choices.

The difference between crazy and genius is sometimes just the final outcome.

What to do when the outcome is mostly determined by luck?

These books and articles are just cloudspotting. They see a bunny rabbit, I see a lucky skunk.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Imagine the things that would have been said about Steve Jobs if he had failed to bring Apple back to prominence

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