Hayds Blog

  • Ready, Fire, Aim book review

    Ready, Fire, Aim book review

    Practical advice you can use now 

     4/5

     Easy to understand

     5/5

     Organised well

     5/5

     Overall

    5/5 

    About the author of the book

    Michael Matherson, Mark Morgan Ford are the same person - interesting that people still have pen names in the internet age. Michael has written 10+ books and hundreds of essays. He was the founder and a regular contributor to Early To Rise until his retirement in 2011.

    Quick summary

    Ready, Fire, Aim is Matherson's tenth book. It focuses on growing a business all the way from start up to 100+ million in revenue per year. The focus is on how to break through 4 specific glass ceilings that businesses typically face as they grow. The book provides an interesting combination of research, personal experience (which he has a lot of), and practical ideas that you can apply today.

    My thoughts

    I run a small business with less than 5 staff so I wondered how this book would go. Specifically because it is pitched at large businesses getting larger. An excellent book but written with a focus on large economies. What I mean is, the first stage of growth in this book covers up to 1 million in revenue, the second stage covers up to 10 million. For a country like New Zealand, this is about as big as we get! Well that's not really true is it. But a 10 Million dollar business in New Zealand is a big business. So maybe it's just my thinking (which it likely is) but growing to be a 100 Million + business in New Zealand is out of the each of most. However, I think the thing I enjoy about these books is that it makes me think. It stretches my understanding of what the world considers big - this a good thing.

    Because the book covers sure a huge range of business size, it was tempting to think about stopping after the chapters I related to. However, I've learnt a lot about how bigger business should behave, and how they tend to get stuck in ruts. I learnt a lot about approaches I hope I will get to take in the years to come.

    I was actually surprised that in every chapter I found something I felt I could apply. Even in the chapters on business of 100+ million in revenue. So if you are willing to listen, you will find a gem in each chapter.

    Recommended to:

    • Anyone in commercial business. specifically marketing or product staff
    • It's not very applicable to local or central government
    • Small business will find lots of useful ideas in the early chapters

    Pros

    • Lots of practical ideas that come down to the strategy level (they don't get to the tactics)
    • The advice would be applicable for any product-based business immediately
    • Something for all business of any size
    • One of the only business books I've read that goes beyond the start up, or small business stage
    • An excellent combination of personal experience, research, and practical strategies

    Cons

    • The practical advice doesn't get down to the immediate tactics of "put down the book and do these 5 things right now"
    • The book is written to focus on an American economy which is so much larger than anything we encounter in New Zealand. This makes it a bit hard to get your head around for how to apply. However, it wouldn't take long to translate the numbers to equivalent figures for your country and then it would apply without a problem.
    • The book is written to focus on product-based businesses. So service-based businesses get left out. However, i think the ideas are still very applicable. 
  • 3 top tips for finding and keeping a great mentor in any area of life

    I have a friend, Isaac Ludlow who is brilliant at asking good probing questions. Today has asked 'who is your mentor?' and I immediately wondered which areas of life he would like to know about - business, spiritual, career, marriage? I'm a big believer in mentoring and have had many mentors over my life. I figured I've learnt a lot from them and so I thought I would share some tips that just might help you on your journey.

    Here are 3 quick tips or things I've learnt about finding a mentor in any area of your life

    1) Look for someone a few stages on from where you are right now

    I've always found that the best mentors in my life are the ones who have been there, done that a couple of times. For example, if I was looking for mentors for my business I would look for someone who has had a couple of businesses, maybe a couple of failures, and who has grown a business or two past where I'm aiming for.

    As a small business with less than 5 staff, I don't think it would be overly helpful to look for another small business with less than 5 staff to mentor me. Now let me be clear that there is a LOT of benefit for talking with, and sharing joys and struggles with other businesses my size and stage. But I wouldn't be calling it a formal mentoring relationship.

    2) Tell them why you want them for this area of your life

    This actually has two benefits - 1) It makes you think about why this person is actually right for this area 2) It tells the potential mentor that you've actually thought about why they are best

    I've been on both sides of the equation as a mentor and a mentee and I can tell you that when someone comes to me and asks for me to mentor them I always get a little nervous about what I might have to offer. Most people I've meet aren't sure if they are really doing life as well as they could. So when you ask them to mentor you they wonder if they have anything to offer. You can help them realise that they do by thinking about what they are good at, and what you want from them.

    3) Make it easy for the mentor

    One of the most important things I ever learned about making a mentoring relationship work was something one of my favourite mentors said to me "Hayden, this mentoring relationship is your responsibility. I'm a busy guy and I won't chase you for a meeting. If you want this to happen, you need to make it work."

    If you really want to get the most out of your mentor, make it easy of them - as easy as possible. I find this easy to do with three simple steps

    • Book a meeting at least a week in advance to give them time and work around their schedule
    • Have a topic or question ready
    • Don't waste time with a meeting if you aren't ready, don't have a question/topic, or haven't done your home work from last time.

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