Verne Harnish’s Rant and 3 Sales Leadership Issues

The one newsletter that I never fail to read each week, rain, 7 feet of snow, sub-zero temperatures, or shine, is Verne Harnish’s Weekly Insights (subscribe here).  If you are not familiar with Verne (The Growth Guy), he wrote Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and his latest book, Scaling UpHow a Few Companies Make it and the Rest Don’t, is another must-read best seller.

Yesterday, I received his weekly newsletter and just loved the message in his rant.  I asked him if I could reprint the rant, not so much to help him fill his upcoming Leadership  Summit, but to illustrate how important it is to get the words right.  Here is the rant:

Ruckusmaker Day — today would have been Steve Jobs’ 60th birthday. In honor of Steve, marketing guru Seth Godin has declared it the first annual “Ruckusmaker Day.” Seth announced this yesterday in his blog, encouraging people to have a point of view, the genius capacity he pins on Jobs. Take one minute to read Seth’s inspirational blog and then speak up about something.

OK, so my Ruckus! — or really a question. Given that Mark Cuban reads three hours per day; given that Warren Buffett reads 500 pages per day; given that Mark Zuckerberg has set his personal goal in 2015 to read a book every two weeks; given that the most successful are learners; and given that we work tirelessly to identify the best biz authors of the best dozen books (Lean, Sales, Tribes, Billionaires, etc.), from the thousands printed each year, and bring these authors (listed below) to an affordable resort setting where you can absorb their ideas in 48 hours! – my question – why are some of you missing this opportunity to learn and network with some of the best mid-market scale-ups around the world? Are you nuts (OK, maybe a little strong, but I’m passionate about the power of learning)? We see the same super successful teams each time – so wondering if you simply don’t feel invited or welcome. Please email me at  – I would love to learn. And read on to see if I can make a case for dropping everything and getting you and your team to our Summits twice/year – four days out of 365!

But We Can’t Implement Any More Stuff — yes, we’re all busy – and I imagine Zuckerberg and Buffett and Cuban have plenty on their plates. So why do they keep learning? It’s about making sure you avoid the mistakes that come with NOT knowing. Nothing creative can come out of your brain that wasn’t put in first. And learning isn’t linear. It’s about piling in as much as you can (Bill Gates’ infamous Think Weeks) and then letting the magic happen. I never know when I’m going to need to access an idea – but I have to know about it in the first place.

We Don’t Repeat Content — miss a Summit; miss an entire body of knowledge. We don’t invite a speaker back unless they have new and original content aka a new book (like David Meerman Scott’s new book on sales). And the goal is to bring gurus that have gone deep in a narrow topic, like Adam Grant with givers and takers. We promise more practical ideas per minute to scale up your business and life than any other executive education program you can find in the world (and several CEOs have tested this and confirmed).

Village of Gurus — Our belief is that it takes a “village of gurus” to scale-up a company. The Rockefeller Habits 2.0 doesn’t have all the answers. Instead, it provides a framework upon which additional ideas can be layered. The Summits expose leaders to the authors of the most recent books, like The Self-Made Billionaire Effect, which just published a month ago. And it’s much more powerful (and fun) to learn directly from the authors – and then read the book for additional details if warranted.

I spoke at the first Sales & Marketing Summit and heard all of the other great speakers and strongly believe that there is no other event where you can learn from as many experts as The Fortune Leadership Summit.

I feel the same way that Verne does when we don’t have standing-room only attendance at our powerful and unique annual Sales Leadership Intensives, when we don’t have overflow attendance for our helpful sales recruiting and selection webinars (register for the free February 26, 45-minute webinar) and when we aren’t overwhelmed in response to the other offers that take place during the year.

My experience is that sales leaders, the very people in my audience who need the most help, have 3 challenges preventing them from getting the help they need:

  • SOW – They feel as though it is a sign of weakness to get the help they need,
  • KIA – They don’t realize they need the help because they think they know it all,
  • DIY – Their super-sized egos get in the way and make them feel like they can “do it yourself.”

You know how much you want and need to grow.  You know why.  You know what you need to do.  But you may need help building the sales culture, finding the people, integrating the systems and processes and training and coaching the people who must execute your plan.  The help is out there and taking advantage of it versus attempting it yourself is like the difference between taking a transatlantic cruise ship and taking a transatlantic flight.  What’s holding you back?