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Leadership Insights - October 2023

Most geniuses—especially those who lead others—prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities.”

Andy Benoit, LA Rams assistant coach and

Sports Illustrated NFL Writer

"Consistently Not Stupid"

Berkshire Hathaway partner Charlie Munger once remarked about the success he and partner Warren Buffet enjoyed. He observed that “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Building on that, a recent post from Farnum Street suggests “We need not be a genius in every area, but we should understand the big ideas of most disciplines and try to avoid fooling ourselves…..When you’re not an expert in a field, often the best approach is one that avoids stupidity. There are few better ways of avoiding stupidity than understanding how the world works.”

A great way to get started being “consistently not stupid” is mastering Three Filters Needed to Think Through Problems.

Steve Jobs on the Secret of Life

There is a series of very short and insightful interviews with Steve Jobs produced by the Santa Clara Valley Historic Society. In one of these he offers some practical and concise advice on the “Secrets of Life. Take 99 seconds for something that may change your life.

Elon’s Algorithm

We have a saying in the Vistage Community, “Change occurs when the certainty of pain, outweighs the pain of uncertainty.”

This certainly describes the challenges that Elon Musk faced in 2017 in producing enough Tesla Model 3s to keep the company afloat as recounted in Walter Isaacson’s new bio of Musk (Isaacson wrote the definitive bio of Steve Jobs a few years ago),

Musk didn’t have time to build a new factory, so he focused on making what he had more efficient. According to Isaacson, “That experience through hell….also helped Musk shape five commandments for how he wants problems solved by his workers across his companies, from rocket maker SpaceX to social-media platform X, formerly Twitter.” This has become known as “Elon’s Algorithm,” or The Five Rules from Elon Musk to Get Important Things Done."

While we’re on Elon, check out his five rules on How to Create a Successful Company: Elon Musk’s 5 Rules.”

The “Any Questions?” Trap

Most of us have had the experience of being in a meeting (or leading one) when the leader asked, “Any questions?” Most of us either had questions, or were sure others, did but no one said anything because it didn’t feel safe. Nobody want to take the risk of being seen as the person who didn’t “get it.”

For leaders to lead, we must create that safety. Dan Pink, author of “The Power of Regret” and “To Sell is Human” offers an interesting way to do this by turning the “ Any Questions?” problem on its head to encourage meeting participants to feel safe in asking questions, pursuing understanding, unlocking discussion, and enhancing the contributions of the group.

Check out this 3 min 21 sec video from Mr. Pink’s “Pinkcast” with a college professor who discovered that the silence he got from asking his students if they had “any questions?” meant that they surely did. He shares with Mr. Pink a simple way “to flip your language to create psychological safety.

Econ Recon:

A few weeks ago the Labor department issued another great jobs report and the Federal Open Market Committee issued minutes that seemed rather benign. ITR Economics’ Brian Beaulieu looks under the hood of the economic engine and sees issues around credit and employment that are not as hopeful as the recent reports indicate. Check out his latest Fedwatch video.

A Dollar Dissertation: In a recent edition of Dr. Brian Wesbury’s “Three on Thursday” he explores the anxiety of many about the future of the dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency. He writes “In an era of inflation and large deficits, there are persistent rumors circulating that the dollar is at risk of losing its reserve currency status. These rumors are stoked by the desire of China (and others) to see this happen. We think these fears are vastly overblown.” If you’ve been worried about the dollar and US pre-eminence, Dr. Wesbury’s one page dollar “dissertation” is worth your time.

A Note From Scott:


Do you have those rare and valuable people in your life who tell you the truth, and not just what you want to hear? This is the way successful leaders grow.

The 20 members of my CEO peer advisory group are successful leaders, who are becoming even more successful. They're doing this with the help of honest, caring, confidential conversations with their growth-minded group peers.

If you want to become even more successful and don't have people like this in your life, contact me to explore if you'd be a fit for our group.

Warm regards,



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