Berkshire's yearend employment totaled a record 288,462, up 17,604 from last year. Our headquarters crew, however, remained unchanged at 24. No sense going crazy.
Buffett, March 1
Daily Huddle Video
-- Craig Zoberis, President,
Fusion OEM, sent me this
video of their Daily Huddle, more below including a calling system helpful
for daily huddles, but first...
Warren Buffett's Letter -- his annual letter to shareholders is out and Australian-based SmartCompany's online newsletter (I'm here for our Growth Summit in Sydney) has the best summary - "10 Nuggets of Wisdom." Take 3 minutes to read through the list, including why he's buying up local newspapers; and here's a link to the full letter - always worth 10 minutes to scan through for great investment, economic, and business insights.
Heinz's Purchase -- some think Buffett overpaid for Heinz. However, Buffett notes, "More than 50 years ago, Charlie told me that it was far better to buy a wonderful business at a fair price than to buy a fair business at a wonderful price." Plus Buffett always negotiates plenty of cheap warrants as part of the deal that end up making him a lot of money down the road.
Horowitz on World-Class Teams -- "As CEO, you know that you cannot build a world-class company unless you maintain a world-class team. But how do you know if an executive is world-class? Beyond that, if she was world-class when you hired her, will she stay world-class? If she doesn't, will she become world-class again?" These are the opening questions of Ben Horowitz' latest blog entitled "Staying Great." This is one worth taking 3 minutes to read.
#1 Way Execs Fail -- Horowitz laments that CEOs have very little opportunity to develop their immediate team - they must come 99% ready to perform (not so for middle management, they must be developed). He goes on to note, "when the company doubles in size, (you have) a new job. This means that doing things that made you successful in your old job will not necessarily translate to success in the new job. In fact, the No. 1 way that executives fail is by continuing to do their old job rather than moving on to their new job...and failing to keep up with the changes in the business."
You Must Remove Them -- and the toughest situation is where an executive has helped grow the company 10x but is not able to run the new behemoth they created. Concludes Horowitz "your loyalty must go to your employees -- the people who report to your executives. Your engineers, marketing people, sales people, finance and HR people who are doing the work. You owe them a world-class management team. That's the priority."
Automated Daily Huddles -- Alan Rudy, President, MedBridge Home Medical, has 10 locations across the US and needs to have daily operational huddle calls in various groupings. Before deploying a new automated calling system called IfbyPhone, the normal challenges of someone being 4 minutes late would waste a dozen people's time (almost an hour of productivity).
IfByPhone -- Instead, at an appointed time each day, IfbyPhone calls everyone. No more remembering dial-in numbers or access codes. Alan has both his cell phone and desk phone programmed in and if away from both phones, he can simply call from another phone and punch in his cell phone number to be connected. Notes Rudy "Time and again I might have a conference call at 11:05am, look at my clock at 11:01am and think 'I have time to answer one more email' only to mentally wake up at 11:09am. Or I'm running through an airport and simply forget to call in."
Save Money with Attorneys -- Rudy also uses the service for ad hoc conference calls, especially with attorneys who bill by the minute. One avoided 10 minute delay on a conference call with an attorney and his 3 associates can pay for the service for a month!
CAVEAT -- Not 100% Reliable -- concludes Rudy, "About once a month, it does not launch a call. Not sure why. Cool thing is, my assistant can go on line and launch it again right then. It is all set up on line. And it is virtually impossible to ever talk to anyone at the ifbyphone company. One irritating item is calls can only happen at 5 minute increments, so we can't have a huddle at 11:07, for example, only at 11:05 or 11:10am. I have not found another service to provide this outbound call, but would love to hear of another. We have about 7 standing huddles every day (range 5-14 people) throughout the company that use this service (the others happen just in a single location, so they are standup huddles and no need for a call), along with ad hoc conference calls. Our cost is about $250/month. Well worth it."