Amp It Up by Frank Slootman

Here are my highlights from a book Amp It Up by Frank Slootman broken down to a few key takeaways.

Raise Expectations and Intensity

  • "Raise your standards. The late Steve Jobs was inspired only by insanely great things. Anything that didn’t meet his standards was rejected. Applying ‘insanely great’ as a standard daily pushes you further. Fight the impulse to lower standards for convenience; it takes little extra mental energy to aim higher."
  • Actionable Tip: regularly set and review higher performance benchmarks within your team or organization
  • Benefit: This drives a culture of continuous improvement and high achievement

Focus on Execution Over Strategy

  • "Strategy can’t be mastered until you know how to execute well. Execution is hard; great execution is scarce, hence a source of competitive advantage. Worrying about strategy before your team is good at executing is pointless."
  • “If you can only do one thing for the rest of the year, what would it be and why?”
  • Actionable Tip: Conduct training sessions to improve execution skills at all levels of your organization
  • Benefit: Enhances the ability to effectively implement strategies, adapting to real-world challenges and opportunities

This is Sparta!!!

  • Declare war on your competitors and on incrementalism. Have a “visceral sense of contest” and resist erring on the side of caution.

Build a Passionate Team

  • “Alignment becomes more important as the business grows. Lack of commitment and trust within a team undermines its effectiveness. Leaders must be trustworthy and earn trust, not demand it."
  • He mentions the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (which we’ve read as a team)
  • "The key to driving a consistent culture is not about high-minded principles or values alone. People learn from consequences. Drive consistent behaviors, norms, and values through clearly defined consequences."
  • "Seek low maintenance, low drama personalities. Value traits like strong task ownership, a sense of urgency, and a no-excuses mentality. Hire drivers, not passengers, focusing on attitude and behavior, which are choices, not skill sets."
  • Five questions to evaluate culture
    • When you talk to frontline employees, do they seem energized, or does it feel like everyone is swimming in glue?
    • Do people have clarity of purpose and a sense of mission and ownership?
    • Do they share the same big dreams of where the organization might be in a few years?
    • Do most people execute with urgency and pep in their step?
    • Do they consistently pursue high standards in projects, products, talent, everything?
  • Actionable Tip: During hiring, prioritize candidates’ drive and passion as much as their skills and experience
  • Benefit: Creates a dynamic, motivated workforce that can drive and sustain growth

Implement a Customer-Centric Approach

  • "If you have a customer success department, that shouldn’t give others an excuse to stop worrying about how well customers are thriving with your products. Responsibility for customer’s well-being should remain with those directly interacting with them."
  • Actionable Tip: Regularly gather and analyze customer feedback to inform business decisions
  • Benefit: Ensures that your products and services remain relevant and valuable to your target market

Maintain Startup Agility While Scaling

  • Rely on data-centric growth models (which you have to have!)
  • Actionable Tip: Encourage innovation and risk-taking, especially as your business grows
  • Benefit: Helps in sustaining the entrepreneurial spirit and agility necessary for continuous growth

Exploit Market Opportunities

  • "Growth trumps everything else as a driver and predictor of long-term success. Super-grower companies (60% or more annual growth) have significantly higher returns and likelihood of reaching substantial revenues than medium growth companies."
  • Actionable Tip: Train teams in market analysis and trend spotting to identify and capitalize on new opportunities
  • Benefit: Keeps your business ahead of competitors by swiftly responding to changing market dynamics

Develop Resilient Leadership

  • Actionable Tip: Invest in leadership development programs that emphasize adaptability and resilience
  • Benefit: Prepares leaders to effectively navigate challenges and lead the organization through periods of change

Promote Continuous Learning and Adaptation

  • Actionable Tip: Establish a culture of learning where feedback is actively sought and acted upon
  • Benefit: Fosters an environment where continuous improvement is the norm, leading to sustained growth and innovation

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Written by Nikola Brežnjak