Investing limited resources

William Thorndike, in his book “The Outsiders,” profiles 9 CEO’s who achieved extraordinary financial results in comparison to their peer group and the overall market. In doing so, he found many similarities in their approaches, but one stood out – these CEO’s excelled in allocating limited resources.

As a CEO, there are 3 broad things you can do your time –
1. Optimize operations
2. Allocate resources (capital, people, your time and energy)
3. Media relations

These CEO’s spent almost no time on media relations and generally worked with a COO they trusted to run operations. They, then, were ruthless about their time, ran extremely lean and decentralized organizations that empowered their people to lead and allocated capital phenomenally well.

As leaders of our own selves, there is a lot we can learn from their behavior. In the final analysis, our effectiveness will be a function of how we’ve allocated our limited time and energy. This means taking the time to develop a set of principles that determines how we will spend this time and energy vs. saying yes to anything that pops up. This also means being intentional about our priorities at any given time vs. mindlessly succumbing to the many distractions that surround us.

Tim Urban had a wonderful post called “The Tail End” on his hugely popular “Wait But Why” blog. In it, he shared the following image –
investing limited resourcesEach box is a week and these are all the weeks in a 90 year lifetime. And, by now, you have probably marked the rough spot that is this week in your life.

There is limited time and energy to go around. Let’s use it well.

0 thoughts on “Investing limited resources

  1. I really like this post. The part about delegation and COOs, especially, is a critical point. It’s not a good use of your time to try to work on areas you are weak in (except as it comes to learning to recognize them). Much better to find good people that you empower and trust to make those decisions.

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