Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letters 163 – 3 Priceless Quotes

The 3 Quotes I Often Think Of & Revisit When Creating Strategy & Hosting Workshops

Dear Leaders, with it being the last stretch in July it means two things:
(1) seasonality (for most) it is the summer slow down
(2) it’s prep and away day season with most mid and large businesses likely running their annual planning cycle and then re-forecast cycle (basically the hardest cycle we go through as leaders).

(» If you are going through AOP or LRP here are a number of free resources)

In most of my workshop sessions, I have a stack of quotes to share, most business owners look for well-known CEOs when sharing quotes, it’s an inspiration and ego play.

The go-to quote that is used by most consultants is (which admittedly I love and use myself) –

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”
— Henry Ford.

Here are my three favourite quotes I share, they come from:

  • Google co-founder Larry Page suggests they are competing with competitors by serving them organically
  • Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of why his competitors own the wider eco-system is a significant strategic risk
  • Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos reminds us that tactics are temporary, strategy is ten years aka the longest term for Amazon, unlikely for most others.

“On the Internet, competition is one click away.”
— Larry Page (Google Co-Founder)

Why is it important?

  • Google traditionally serves their customers by serving organic listings and ads against core keywords searched and users’ behaviours on & across their products
  • Google’s approach was one of the smartest moves in business history, to make money from other people’s data, crawl their sites, then rank and importantly create a moat around this by serving intent-based ads (remember their motto – don’t be evil) and knowing switching costs will limit us moving from good free services and better paid for services (like Google Suite)
  • And then charging their competitors to appear in their search results aka the click away (for years we have called it downstream) in mind. What I call —
    Make Money From Your Data Moat With Your Competition Click In Mind. If you ask any CMO or CFO, the one thing they truly hate paying for is brand terms and others bidding on them…

“Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage,” 

“In important countries like the U.S. where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as a default texting app and it’s still ahead,”— Mark Zuckerberg (Meta Founder)

Why is this important?

  • Knowing your enemy (competitor) is critical in business, most struggle to not fixate on their competitor’s activities. Meta and Apple are still in business battles over the App Stores, associated charges, mass personalised data collection via product usage, the open vs closed web.
    Tim Cook Vs Mark Zuckerberg is going to be decades-long battle
  • One of the smart moves reducing their friction was their acquisition of WhatsApp (in 2014) and Instagram (in 2012) – it still couldn’t easily compete with iMessage groups and sharing in private, and how content from their properties was to show up was out of their control
  • Facebook knew via their famous Growth Department (including its current CMO Alex Schultz and famed VC Chamath Palihapitiya and many others holding influential roles) they needed to hit external mass and share across the primary messaging app iMessage to drive more adoption and to serve better ads you’ll click and buy from
  • Facebook’s big issue is still others own their destiny with the sharing of Meta content (think Facebook, Instagram, Threads posts) across other networks and platforms and their app downloads are being controlled by app stores and search engine algorithms this is costly, particularly across their vast user groups
  • What Facebook did was to unbundle Facebook and push ahead with messaging across all of their platforms and focus on the different jobs to be done on each network. Facebook still struggles with the dominance of iMessage in the US market

Long-Term Thinking & Planning Wins

“Be strategically patient, tactically impatient.”

— Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder)

Why is this important?

  • Amazon has been the long-term first company for the last two decades, with Jeff Bezos telling investors repeatedly about their long-term approach since 2003 and hinting their investors should share the same view
  • Amazon are constantly sticking to their ten-year plan and smartly tactically they have to be flexible and on rare occasions, reactive (Covid and mass industry changes). Amazon has accelerated their tactics and rolled out Prime Day in response to competitors and had record years since its launch
  • Jeff Bezos also famously said “Your Margin Is My Opportunity” when quizzed on their low-price prime pillar. This has made Amazon the trusted place of convenience
  • Andy Jassy (the current CEO) has helped to evolve the company into a more efficient business aka day 2 while doubling down on customer-centric what I dub prime expectations. Amazon adding to their famous flywheel has been critical to customer retention and signing up net new customers.

Quotes in isolation can be great in workshops and conference talks, however, the context behind the quotes and insights that are shared are vitally important and can drive change within businesses by understanding the thought processes.

This week’s focus action is to understand how you can think about competition and think differently, consider how you can over-serve your customer by adding mutually beneficial services and understand how partnering with competitors with services they can’t refuse to use (Amazon also does this (alongside Google & Facebook) with ads and with their logistical offerings.

Have a great week ahead!


Danny Denhard

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