Peter Sims on Little Bets
Peter Sims is a best-selling author and entrepreneur. His latest book is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, and he was the coauthor with Bill George of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, which was a Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek best-seller.
Sims has had a long collaboration with faculty at Stanford’s Institute of Design (the d.school), a hub of creative thinking and doing, and received an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School where he established a popular class. Previously, he worked in venture capital with Summit Partners, including as part of the team that established Summit’s European Office in London. He is a member of G.E.’s Innovation Advisory Panel, and is a Co-founder and Director of Fuse Corps, a social venture that places entrepreneurial leaders on year-long grassroots projects with mayors and governors to tackle some of America’s most pressing problems.
His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Mashable, strategy+business, Tech Crunch, and as an Expert blogger for Fast Company. He frequently speaks or advises at corporations, associations, and universities, including Google, Eli Lilly, Pixar, ConAgra, Gap Inc., Cisco Systems, Current TV, Amazon, and Stanford University.
A graduate of Bowdoin College, he lives in San Francisco and some of his favorite pursuits include family, friends, music, people, learning, San Francisco Giants baseball, and laughter. And, his great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Gundlach, founded Gundlach Bundschu (GunBun) in Sonoma, California’s oldest family-owned winery, which is run today by his cousins who, unlike Peter, actually know a lot about wine.
True North genre: Good to Great (Jim Collins), What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Marshall Goldsmith), The Speed of Trust (Stephen Covey).
Peter shares the stories and lessons he has learned from some of the world’s most-respected leaders, including both their successes and failures, from his work on leadership while at Stanford Business School as well as to research True North. True North picks up where Jim Collins left off in Good to Great: how do people go from good to great leaders?
Sims led the research of the leaders profiled for True North, including Starbuck’s founder Howard Schultz, CEO of Palm Inc. Donna Dubinsky, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, Oprah Winfrey, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, Narayana Murthy of Infosys, Andrea Jung CEO of Avon Products. Themes include:
• How to lead yourself effectively, including knowing your personal story. For example, Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, wants to build a company where his father would be proud to work. He gets his inspiration from his early life memories. When he was 7 years old, his father broke his leg and lost his job, as well as the family’s healthcare insurance and the family struggled to get by. That is why Schultz wanted Starbucks to become the first US corporation to provide healthcare benefits for both its full-time and part-time employees. Schultz uses his personal story to connect with and inspire his employees.
• How to use personal failures and setbacks to grow. Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, had one of his best learning experiences when he dramatically failed to hit his operating targets during his mid-30s. He took a lot of heat from then CEO Jack Welch, but Immelt recovered and grew enormously through the difficult time.
• How to effectively lead from your values during times of economic turmoil. Great leaders, like Narayana Murthy and Anne Mulcahy, know that when times are difficult, more than ever, their people respond to their values. Mulcahy saved Xerox from bankruptcy in 2001 by using her values (and the company’s values) to call out the best efforts from Xerox’s 96,000 employees. Mulcahy and her team miraculously turned the company around. The Xerox story is just one of many from top leaders: executives and managers use their values to weather difficulty.
• How to “let go” of the need to control everything and empower others.
• Developing effective relationships with colleagues.
• Effectively using feedback – for yourself and other people.
• Clarifying your personal values and motivations.
• Having an integrated life: being the same person at home as at work.
• Teaching others how to be leaders.
• How to develop support structures with mentors, friends, and family.
• How to reduce stress during difficult times.
"Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an artist, Peter Sims shows you how big breakthroughs start with little bets."
Sir Ken Robinson
"A fascinating and revealing journey through the real-life dynamics of the creative process."
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