Tough Things First: Leadership Lessons from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO

Tough Things First: Leadership Lessons from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO

by Ray Zinn


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Tough Things First: Leadership Lessons from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO by Ray Zinn

Silicon Valley pioneer Ray Zinn, CEO of top microchip company Micrel for 37 years, shows entrepreneurs and executives how to lead and succeed by tackling the Tough Things First

In high school, Ray Zinn’s track coach told him he was too short to run the hurdles. Ray took this as a challenge and, after months of hard training, became the fastest hurdler on the team. That drive and self-discipline is, to Zinn, the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s what pushed him to achieve the impossible, founding a Silicon Valley microchip company—without venture capital—and turning it into a global empire with an enviable 37-year track record as CEO.

Tough Things First, the distillation of Ray Zinn’s astonishing career as CEO of Micrel, is a comprehensive head-to-toe training program for entrepreneurs and leaders—based on hard-won lessons in business and in life. Zinn’s tough-love approach gives you the guidance you need to:

• Find your vision, set your goals, and make them happen
• Build your business like you’d train your body: with heart, soul, mind, and passion
• Master the psychological disciplines that will sharpen your focus and drive
• Create a corporate culture that engages employees and inspires confidence
• Put people first and push them to achieve their personal best
• Tackle the tough jobs today—and ensure your success tomorrow

Zinn tells you what it takes to succeed in a world where markets are constantly changing, new technologies are emerging, and small startups are going head to head with industry giants. He shows you how to be a good leader and what you can do to make yourself even better. He reveals why discipline is the first and most important step—for the entrepreneur and the organization—and why people are your single most valuable resource. He offers practical, no-nonsense advice on processes and procedures, finances and growth creation, changing markets and new technology. But that’s not all.

The key to your success, Zinn explains, lies in your mind, your body, your vision, and your heart. This book shows you how to develop these interconnected skills, how to integrate them into your life and work, and how to handle the tough things first.

As the trailblazing founder and CEO of Micrel, Inc., one of the world’s leading microchip companies, Ray Zinn bootstrapped his company, achieved consistent profitability, and delivered a total equity value of more than $800 million at its acquisition. In 37 years of leading this publicly traded microchip empire, he saw it through the dot-com bust and Great Recession—with only one unprofitable year—relying on his discipline as a leader, passion as an inventor, and training as an athlete. In 2015, Zinn stepped down as Micrel’s CEO and is in the process of launching a Silicon Valley accelerator that will help business visionaries build profitable, enduring companies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781259584176
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 10/27/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 654,594
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Ray Zinn is the founder of Micrel, Inc., one of the world’s leading microchip companies, and served as its CEO for 37 years. Still innovating, he is the founder of a Silicon Valley accelerator that helps business visionaries build profitable, enduring companies.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1: The Brain
CHAPTER 2: The Eyes
CHAPTER 3: The Heart
CHAPTER 4: The Body

CHAPTER 5: Nurturing Corporate Culture
CHAPTER 6: Making People Important
CHAPTER 7: Processes, Policies, and Procedures
CHAPTER 8: Finance and Finances
CHAPTER 9: Growth Creation and Management


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Tough Things First: Leadership Lessons from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tough Things First has valuable insight on starting and managing an enterprise for success in the long-run. From people and product to markets and finances, Ray Zinn shares the key principles that were foundational to Micrel's success. Mr. Zinn uses stories and analogies to exemplify concepts in a fashion that engages the reader. Tough Things First leaves the reader with core values and knowledge for success beyond the horizon.
drvosti More than 1 year ago
It is apparent from the outset of this book that Zinn is passionate about life and business. I can't help but be enthused and infused with energy to "be the best" to "innovate" and to defy the "natural man" by doing tough things first. His life difficulties prepared him well for the success he earned and causes me to be introspective as I evaluate my own entrepreneurial goals. This is an inspired and inspiring read.
MLunsford More than 1 year ago
In the 8 years I worked for Ray I got to see first hand how creating a culture of doing the “Tough Things First” and not the political things or the most fun things ensures the culture of achievement is enabled. Add to that an environment where people come first, are respected, and encouraged to be creative and you will see the team flourish, grow and add value to the company. Ray Zinn outlines the model of his proven behaviors after living them for 37 years as the CEO of Micrel. This book provides a clearly written, well organized description the essential elements of success as seen from the eyes of a true entrepreneur. It is a good reference for your business or your personal life.
BWhelton More than 1 year ago
Ray is an accomplished entrepreneur and mentor of people. Over the 10 years I worked for Ray, he shared his insights and philosophy with his staff routinely. He did this not only to inculcate the culture he wanted at Micrel but also to make us better employees and people. I found his insights and philosophy not only valuable from a business standpoint but also from a personal stand point. Ray had many stories to emphasize his points. Many of Ray’s insights I have incorporate into my personal life and they have made me a better person. Now Ray shares many of his insights, philosophy and stories in his book “Tough things First”. I highly recommend this book.
LMonroe94941 More than 1 year ago
In the author's comparison of the modern day business to the human body, the reader gains an interesting perspective on managing a successful, high growth business. It's inspiring to learn how he built a business, with no investor capital into a company that delivered 37 years of growth and profitability. Great book and I would recommend it to all.
JuanCardona More than 1 year ago
Inspirational book written by one of the legends of Silicon Valley. Ray Zinn's insight into corporate culture and motivating those around you is timeless.