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The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success Hardcover – October 23, 2012
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One of the Most Important Business Books in America.” Forbes
This book completely changed my business life... If you want to build a company that generates incredible returns, this book should be on your required reading list.” Dave Morin, Founder & Partner, Slow Ventures as seen on Medium
easily the best investment or business book published in the past few years ” Brendan Matthews, Motley Fool
an important insider’s perspective, an unapologetic glimpse into the hard-core investor view of what success looks like.” Forbes.com
"It focuses on the less sexy but equally important job of a CEOcapital allocation." Mebane Faber, CIO and portfolio manager at Cambria Investment Management (Business Insider’s Wall Street Reading List for 2014)
Thorndike wants to give any manager or business owner the confidence to occasionally do things differently from your peers to make the most of the cards they’re dealt and to delight their shareholders.” Financial Times
[Thorndike's] findings turn received wisdom about CEO success on its head. It’s not revenue and profit growth, but the increase in a company’s per share value that offers the ultimate barometer of a CEO’s greatness Thorndike may have discovered an alchemic formula for CEO success. But will existing CEOs listen?” economia
Thorndike has done extensive research on each of the people features, and their success story makes for an inspiring and most definitely, compelling read.” The Hindu (India)
An extremely instructive read well worth the effort.” Business Traveller magazine
This is an eminently readable volume with plenty of lessons.” The Irish Times
ADVANCE PRAISE for The Outsiders:
Jim Collins, author, Good to Great; coauthor, Built to Last and Great by Choice
Will Thorndike dissects an eclectic and fascinating group of business leaders who created exceptional long-term value. He takes the unique angle of examining great CEOs as chief allocators of capital, so disciplined in their empirical rationality as to be nonconformists in the very best sense. Thorndike’s take is fresh, smart, and provocativeand well worth learning.”
Michael J. Mauboussin, Chief Investment Strategist, Legg Mason Capital Management; author, The Success Equation
Will Thorndike provides management principles that are as rock solid as they are rare and shares the engaging stories of eight CEOs who lived by them. The ideas in this book provide both executives and investors with the North Star of value. Follow it and prosper.”
Mason Hawkins, Chairman and CEO, Southeastern Asset Management
The Outsiders is a must-read for leadersand aspiring leadersstriving to become exceptional CEOs, and for investors interested in partnering with exceptional stewards of corporate capital.”
Walter Kiechel, author, The Lords of Strategy
If creating wealth for shareholders is the ultimate test of a CEO, meet the champions. The names of these outsiders’ may come as a surprise, but you will learn valuable strategic lessons from their iconoclastic ways.”
Thomas A. Russo, Partner, Gardner Russo & Gardner
The Outsiders celebrates leaders who kept their firms focused, rewarded their management despite long periods of inactivity, andby keeping their companies out of troublefound themselves free to pounce when compelling opportunities arose. A highly effective playbook for excellence.”
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Top Customer Reviews
The Outsiders is a great book that looks at eight CEO’s who produced above average returns for shareholders over the long term. In most cases these CEO’s were not attention junkies and were not only great capital allocators but also time allocators. Over 29 years Tom Murphy of Capital Cities produced a 19.9% compounded annual return. Over 27 years Henry Singleton of Teledyne produced a 20.4% compounded annual return. Over 17 years Nick Chabraja of General Dynamics produced a 23.3% compounded annual return. Over 46 years (to 2011) Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway produced 20.7% compounded annual returns for shareholders.
These CEO’s as well as four others in the book were not your cookie cutter capital allocators and did not fit the mold of most business books you read today. Every one of the CEO’s was a first time CEO (no past history of success) and more than half had very little industry experience before taking over as CEO. I found these two things very interesting especially has it relates to microcap investing. So often I’m trying to find great management in microcap, which can be difficult if there is no prior resume. In all instances the Outsider CEO’s led decentralized organizations empowering others to make decisions and they were great capital allocators.
Outsider CEO’s ran high cash flowing businesses, which allowed them to take on debt (few ever issued equity) to make the strategic acquisition or to buy back stock when it was historically cheap. All but one of the eight companies bought back 30%+ of outstanding shares over a period of time. Some took on debt to buy back shares at depressed levels. For those that did use equity to make acquisitions they always knew when to do it (when the stock was expensive).
There are many more takeaways from the book, but you’ll just have to read it. I found the book very easy to read and in many cases reinforced management principles I’ve always felt were important. You will enjoy The Outsiders.
As a graduate from a top MBA program, I can tell you that the book's topic is rarely studied at the world's best business schools. But that doesn't mean the lessons are not important. Far from it.
The basic premise is that a successful CEO needs to do two jobs - a) run their operations efficiently and b) decide how to deploy cash generated by those operations. Business schools are great at training future CEOs to do the first. The skills required to be effective at the second job is closer to those of an investor and aren't a focus for those entering Corporate America.
The Outsiders makes the case for why these jobs are not mutually exclusive and instead are both crucially important for a CEO to generate consistent outperformance overtime. The book profiles 8 CEOs whose day job more closely resemble a shrewd investor of a firm's resources than a prototypical CEO operator. The author shows how these CEOs are able to outperform the market and their peers by adhering to a common set of principles on how to allocate capital.
The Outsiders will not only help aspiring managers gain a better understanding of the value of capital allocation, but will also provide investors with a healthier appreciation of what great capital allocators look like.
As a venture capitalist and owner of many companies, I learn so many insightful strategies such as capital allocation, rolling up companies to maximize scale, margin and cash flow strategy to acquire companies. I get so many ideas to scale my investments.
Thanks William Thorndike to write an insightful book on capital allocation. Recommended for CEO, entrepreneurs and investors.