Notes From My Journal
The Danger of Freedom: People Do What They Want to Do, Not What You Think They Should Want to Do
A Boston-based “people analytics firm” named Humanyze has instituted a mandatory parental leave policy for male employees. The motive is to “equalize” the work/parent experience.
Why is it mandatory? Why not just give fathers the option?
Because when given the freedom to choose, Humanyze’s CEO explained to the WSJ, two problematic things happen:
- The great majority of men do not take the time off. Even though they can, they choose to continue working.
- And the great majority of women choose to stay home. The fact that their husbands are free to take time off and help them out doesn’t seem to matter.
This is what happened in Denmark after men were given the legal right to paternity leave. The hope was that by forcing businesses to give fathers the option, many of them would take it and thereby do more of their “fair share” of the baby care. This would, in turn, give mothers the opportunity to spend more time in the office in pursuit of furthering their careers. But, in fact, the percentage of women that took parental leave actually increased to 92.8%.
One might conclude that, when given the freedom to choose, men and women do what they want to do, following their baked-into-the-bones preferences. Or, as the CEO of Humanyze apparently thinks, these are preferences that can be corrected with a little dose of force.
From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket
Breaking Big: The “Ready-Fire-Aim” Strategy That Took One Company From $8 Million to More Than $1 Billion
In 2010, John Wiley published a book I had written several years earlier called Ready, Fire, Aim. Of the 20+ books I’ve written on business and wealth building, Ready, Fire, Aim has had the longest tail. Although it barely made it to the bestseller lists that year, it has sold conti nuously since then.
The tail was also wide. It’s been republished in more than a dozen countries, recommended by dozens of digital newsletters and magazines, and has been used in business schools, book clubs, and even churches!
My goal with Ready, Fire, Aim was to explain my theory about starting and growing entrepreneurial businesses.
My thesis was that all entrepreneurial businesses have some commonalities in terms of the challenges they face at various stages. And I argued that if you, as an entrepreneur, recognize those commonalities, you would have a significant advantage over your competitors and a favorable chance of success.
In looking at the way businesses develop over time, I identified four levels of business growth, based on revenue:
- Stage One: zero to $1 million
- Stage Two: one million to $10 million
- Stage Three: $10 million to $50 million
- Stage Four: $50 million plus
I then tried to make the different stages more understandable in terms of entrepreneurial business growth by corresponding them (loosely) to the four stages of human growth.
In Stage One (Infancy), I explained, the business has many immediate needs that you must satisfy, some of which are necessary to sustain its life. In Stage Two (Childhood), as the business gets on its feet, you must keep it safe as it finds its way in a strange new world. In Stage Three (Adolescence), when everything is growing faster than you ever thought it would, you must remain firmly in control. If you don’t, all sorts of bad things can happen, some fatal.
If the business gets through Adolescence, an entirely new set of problems arises. In Stage Four (Adulthood), the business looks and feels fully mature. But you sense that if you don’t continue to make grow, it will start to fall apart. The solution to this problem, I suggested, was to take a hard look at how the business is structured. Because what worked to this point – to get your business from zero to $50 million in revenue – is not going to take you any further.
In Ready, Fire, Aim, I went on to provide details on the problems, challenges, and opportunities that an entrepreneur should be prepared to deal with on their journey from Stage One to Stage Four.
What I Didn’t Know Then…
When Ready, Fire, Aim was published, I was involved with more than a dozen businesses that I had grown from Stage One.
Most of them were by then Stage Two businesses. Four or five were at Stage Three. And one had just broken into Stage Four with yearly revenues exceeding $50 million.
Until that business broke through, I had taken only one other business to Stage Four. So the ideas and advice I had about Stage Four businesses were based on just two personal experiences. Because of that relative paucity of knowledge, I was much more comfortable with the sections about the three earlier stages while I was writing the book.
In retrospect, I stand by most of what I said about Stage Four. But what was missing from Ready, Fire, Aim was the next level: growing a $100 million business to a billion and beyond.
In 2010, of course, I couldn’t do it. I had never taken a business to a billion dollars, so how could I write about it?
But that was eight years ago, and things have changed. Two years ago, my primary business broke the billion-dollar threshold.
I’m not talking about going public and getting a public valuation of a billion dollars. That is an entirely different thing.
I’m talking about growing revenues from $100 million to a billion dollars and beyond. That’s its own kind of achievement – one that, after seeing this business continue to grow with astonishing profitability, I felt the need to write about.
So in this series of essays, I’m going to review and revise the beginning chapters of Ready, Fire, Aim, and then go on to discuss, in some depth, how we did it. As far as I know, this will be the first time anyone has looked at business growth in this way. I hope you will find it helpful.
Today’s Word: epigram (noun): An epigram (EP-ih-gram) is a very brief statement that expresses an idea in a clever or amusing way. As used by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “Audiences are always better pleased with a smart retort, some joke or epigram, than with any amount of reasoning.”
Did You Know?: According to a recent announcement by SpaceX, a Japanese businessman will be the first private person to journey to the moon.
Worth Quoting: “Life is such a joke. We take these things so seriously and yet we are only here for a nano-second.” — Alec Singer
Long before Ferdinand Porsche lent his assistance to Hitler’s Volkswagen project, a Jewish engineer named Josef Ganz created the first prototype. Check out this article about it: