Dec 19, 2018
Eric Kish is a Turnaround CEO with over 20
years of experience at transforming organizations in various forms
of distress. A Stanford Business School graduate, he has scaled
organizations from millions to billions, and is the author of
Everyday Turnaround, The Art and Science of Daily Business
Eric discusses the global experiences that have provided him a
winning edge in leadership, and what makes the turn around skill
set difficult to acquire. He also discusses why the “sacred cow”
must be sacrificed, and why it’s dangerous to have irreplaceable
[2:38] Eric grew up in Romania and the Soviet Union during
Communist times. At age 18, he joined the Israeli Defense Forces.
He speaks 6 languages fluently: Russian, Romanian, French, English,
German and Hebrew.
[4:58] His international experiences allowed him to see the
basic human principles across cultures that made some organizations
thrive, and others left with a lack of leadership.
[7:28] People tend to leave their comfort zone when the company
is in trouble, or when they try to scale too fast.
[9:35] Good leaders find multipliers to carry on and demonstrate
the core values of the company. They create other leaders, and then
trust them to make the right decisions when on the front lines and
faced with a decision.
[13:08] When Eric is called in for a turnaround, he typically
finds himself with the second line of executives. Most often the
people in the company have the knowledge already, they just need
someone to calmly assess the situation, plan and create a system of
[14:38] The secret to consulting is that you don’t need to be an
expert in the exact field, you just need to be highly skilled at
listening, assessing the situation and having the clarity and
vision to move forward with a successful plan. At a turnaround, the
company already knows they need a fix, and they are looking for a
leader to create a safety net.
[15:01] During the “firing period” of the first 30 days,
Eric usually fires 5% of the people. The most important of
these is the sacred cow, who is deemed irreplaceable. Sacred cows
are people who aren’t working to create other leaders, and not
sharing the information they know that can help others.
[17:39] Good leaders are information managers, providing the
correct guidance in a manner that is well timed, accurate and easy
to absorb. Eric compares leaders to a GPS, as they have the tools
to help keep people focused and on track.
[20:48] Eric can get a feel for how a business operates just by
asking them how business has been. An executive that answers
“business is good” with exact measureable reasons why shows that
they use hard and measurable data to develop leadership
[24:17] Eric explains why it’s dangerous to have irreplaceable
employees. They are not multipliers, and once they are gone, people
are surprised at how easily things get better.
[30:03] The leader is the coach, and they must have the
discipline to know when their are playing or coaching, and the
ability to create frontline leaders that will play hard for the
team when they are absent.
[36:27] A sign of a great coach or leader is how things go when
they aren’t around.
[38:11] The three agreements that Eric said we must know in
order to keep leaders and teams aligned:
- Why do customers buy from us versus the competition?
- What are the specific things we must do to deliver on the value
- What are the unique capabilities that enable the company to
deliver on the value proposition?
[39:06] People will not follow your opinions, they will follow
[42:07] Leaders build a culture of trust. When members of the
team know they have a safety net, they feel more able to ask for
forgiveness rather than for permission.
[47:08] Eric says that the Israeli Air Force became one of the
best air forces in the world despite the lack of technology because
they were able to run a retrospective on their missions. They
helped them learn from their mistakes and know what to do the next
time around when faced with a similar situation.
[50:16] Eric’s challenge: Observe how often you are being a
coach or a player.
- “If you work beyond 8 hours, I don’t think you are effective or
- “It’s never as bad as it looks.”
- “If i don’t fire the sacred cow, no one will believe me.”
- “The discipline of applying principles is the difference
between failure and success.”
- “A good coach provides a safety net to make mistakes and grow
as decision makers.”
- “Good leaders have the discipline to know when they are
coaching, and when they are playing.”
If You are Irreplaceable, You will Get Fired
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall
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