Rhythm & The Self-Made Billionaire Effect

By Tiffany Chepul

dateFri, Jul 24, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

What makes billionaires different? Maybe you have it in you and you just don't know it.

Recently, I read John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen's The Self Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value. It was a fascinating read, especially with the perspective of Sviokla and Cohen, veterans of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Their research started with the 2012 Forbes list of billionaires. After removing those with inherited wealth and picking 120 people to interview (representative of the larger data set), they expelled some myths that I think we all have about the uber-rich.

Most weren't billionaires until after age 30. And, only 20% come from the tech industry - in all, about 19 industries were represented. Most didn't invent anything new, in fact, 80% were operating in red oceans. They weren't overnight successes, and over 75% had worked in the trenches and had direct sales experience. They were certainly not the silver spoon variety.

Sviokla and Cohen also identified a commonality among self-made billionaires. They used the term Producers. Producers have the unique ability to envision a great idea, bring together the talent and resources needed to bring it to life, and sell their idea to customers who didn't know they needed it. They are comfortable with all the dualities that come with the role. They are comfortable both fostering innovation and maintaining judgment. They can nurture many ideas at once, on multiple timelines, with some risk and still be comfortable.

In contrast to Producers was the other side of the equation - the Performers. Performers are people who are highly talented in their area of expertise. They can generate extremely good results in their arena - they are specialized operatives in your organization. They are also crucial to the organization, but have a different mind-set from the Producer.

Most intriguing to me was their list of the 5 Critical Dualities of Self-Made Billionaires, all of which have application in Rhythm.

  1. Ideas – Empathetic Imagination: They have extreme empathy for customer’s needs and an imaginative mind-set on how to meet those needs.
  2. Perspective – Patient Urgency: They operate in multiple speeds and timeframes simultaneously – they urgently prepare, yet patiently wait.
  3. Action – Inventive Execution: Execution is approached with an integrative mindset.
  4. Attitude – Taking a Relative View of Risk: They are not big risk takers and are not worried about losing what they have. They are more concerned about not being part of a bigger future.
  5. Leading – Leadership Partnership: They recognize the need for Producers and Performers. They understand that partnership between people with complementary skills and across multiple departments is a must.

As I read their book, I realized that many of our Rhythm CEOs carry the Producer gene. And, it's evident in how they Think, Plan and Do. Here are some patterns:

Think: Producers continually work on their Core Customer and Brand Promise. They are extremely connected to customer needs and how to creatively deliver. Producers also like an organized way to process their big ideas using the Winning Moves methodology. They rank their ideas according to Revenue Impact and Easy to Do and then decide which ones to execute.

Plan: Producers have cascaded Rhythm to departments and set Red-Yellow-Green success criteria to get the most out of those rockstar Performers. Their planning rhythms help them prioritize ideas on different timelines and across departments.  

Do: Producers have established healthy meeting rhythms and use Comments to collaborate across departments. They also model to Performers how to look at other team's dashboards and offer help. A Producer is always in Rhythm looking around at dashboards and Commenting.

So do you have the Producer gene? The Performer gene? Both are extremely important to the success of the organization. Which of the patterns above can you commit to this quarter?


Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm

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Tiffany Chepul


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