The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

by William N. Thorndike

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Overview

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike

“An outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.” — Warren Buffett

#1 on Warren Buffett’s Recommended Reading List, Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Letter, 2012

Named one of “19 Books Billionaire Charlie Munger Thinks You Should Read” in Business Insider.

“A book that details the extraordinary success of CEOs who took a radically different approach to corporate management.” — Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation

“Thorndike explores the importance of thoughtful capital allocation through the stories of eight successful CEOs. A good read for any business leader but especially those willing to chart their own course.” — Michael Dell, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Dell

What makes a successful CEO? Most people call to mind a familiar definition: “a seasoned manager with deep industry expertise.” Others might point to the qualities of today’s so-called celebrity CEOs—charisma, virtuoso communication skills, and a confident management style. But what really matters when you run an organization? What is the hallmark of exceptional CEO performance? Quite simply, it is the returns for the shareholders of that company over the long term.

In this refreshing, counterintuitive book, author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. You will meet eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders , you’ll learn the traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.

Humble, unassuming, and often frugal, these “outsiders” shunned Wall Street and the press, and shied away from the hottest new management trends. Instead, they shared specific traits that put them and the companies they led on winning trajectories: a laser-sharp focus on per share value as opposed to earnings or sales growth; an exceptional talent for allocating capital and human resources; and the belief that cash flow, not reported earnings, determines a company’s long-term value.

Drawing on years of research and experience, Thorndike tells eye-opening stories, extracting lessons and revealing a compelling alternative model for anyone interested in leading a company or investing in one—and reaping extraordinary returns.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781422162675
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 98,034
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

William N. Thorndike is founder and a managing director of Housatonic Partners, a private equity firm. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business and has been a guest lecturer at the Harvard and Stanford business schools. He is a director of eight companies, and two not-for-profit organizations and lives in the Boston area with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

Preface: Singletonville vii

Introduction: An Intelligent Iconoclasm 1

1 A Perpetual Motion Machine for Returns: Tom Murphy and Capital Cities Broadcasting 13

2 An Unconventional Conglomerateur: Henry Singleton and Teledyne 37

3 The Turnaround: Bill Anders and General Dynamics 59

4 Value Creation in a Fast-Moving Stream: John Malone and TCI 83

5 The Widow Takes the Helm: Katharine Graham and The Washington Post Company 109

6 A Public LBO: Bill Stiritz and Ralston Purina 129

7 Optimizing the Family Firm: Dick Smith and General Cinema 149

8 The Investor as CEO: Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway 167

9 Radical Rationality: The Outsider's Mind-Set 197

Epilogue: An Example and a Checklist 215

Acknowledgments 221

Appendix: The Buffett Test 225

Notes 227

Further Reading 233

Index 235

About the Author 251

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The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish this book offered a sample to read via nook.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Adding great value to my skills as director of my Company
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