What’s the resemblance between Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey?- Harvard Insights 6

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What’s the resemblance between Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey?

They all apply the 5-hour rule, as I read in an Inc. article, written by Michael Simmons last night. Simmons has studied great leaders and discovered that the ones that stand out share one common behavior and that is that they take one hour a day (five hours a week) for deliberate learning. The learning falls into three categories: (1) reading (2) reflection and (3) experimentation. Simmons gives examples of the great leaders we talked about in class. He mentions Warren Buffett and Elon Musk. He reveals that Ben Franklin put time aside each day throughout his lifetime for “experimentation, masterminding with like-minded individuals, and tracking his virtues”. The latter we’ve read all about in his “Portable Franklin” in which he’s anything but modest about his virtues.

And most importantly, Simmons makes explicit that the great leaders do not just jump into the deep to see how their brilliant ideas and minds float. They stand out, because they acquire skills, which he says, is heavily underrated. There’s a reason why Marc Zuckerberg is used as an example, says Simmons. It’s because there are not many of them. He is the kind of person who continuously develops his skills. He’s one of the people who engage in deliberate practice. He’s one of the great leaders to apply the five hour rule.

By doing so, Marc Zuckerman is avoiding being cut to pieces like Caesar. Where Caesar considered himself as being unchangeable, the true North Star, putting all the focus on to himself, Zuckerman and other examples of great leaders are continuously developing their skills to be anything BUT static and self-oriented. We talked about the importance of orientation yesterday. We agreed that it is better to focus your orientation to other people than to yourself. And we discussed how you should consider the people you interact with your idols. A concept well described in Defoe’s “The Complete English Tradesman.” The client’s always right. And this doesn’t just apply in retail. Anyone who leads, should continuously study their audiences and learn what drives them, what needs they have, how they want to see these needs fulfilled. It takes deliberate learning to be able to hold your breath sometimes and make the client feel king, instead of slapping him in the face.

We ended class on the note that the Dale Carnegie Principles on ‘how to become a friendlier person’ ‘win people to your way of thinking’ and ‘be a leader’ are all great principles that will only work through deliberate practice. So why not do so via the three learning containers of the five hour rule? (1) Read about them to truly understand what they mean. Study them from different perspectives. I’m sure there are many examples out there describing how they have and have not worked. (2) Experiment with them and reflect on your experiments. (3) Discover what’s worked well and what hasn’t through self-reflection as well as through reflecting with other that you have experimented on or who have seen you experiment.

Experimenting, just trying things out can get you a long way, as we’ve seen with our Obama fundraising guest speaker Michael O’Neil. He’s the living example of just going out there and start doing things. Trying things out, failing and being sent back home on an 18 hour drive to Ohio AND coming back again to try again. To be bold enough to just pick up the phone and start engaging in actions until someone tells you to stop. An experimenting behavior that he continued to show when running Obama’s campaign when being the first to do online fund raising and more. This behavior has lead Michael to a position in the White House in the end. The comparison is not entirely correct, because for Michael this was not a deliberate learning hour on top of the “regular” work. For him it WAS his work, it was learning on the job. But I feel when we move further into our careers and we come to the point where learning on the job is no longer strongly represented, because we’ve been there, seen it all and done it all, that’s where you owe it to yourself to go back to the deliberate learning. Surely at this point you have one hour a day, or at least five hours a week to share to learn all there is to know about your audiences and to what it takes to treat them as your idols…

Vanaf de prachtige campus op Harvard schrijf ik voor mijn Leadership course blogs waar ik met mijn mede-studenten over discussieer. Om geïnteresseerden een inkijkje te geven in wat ik leer op Harvard deze zomer, deel ik mijn blogs, of wanneer het te inhoudelijk wordt het te volgen als je er niet bij was, zal ik er fragmenten van posten.

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