“You don’t learn by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Those words are quoted from Sir Richard Branson, who like Scaramucci, has a mouthful of wisdom to share on the topic of business.
Those words also open chapter 2 in Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole.
The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from Anthony Scaramucci’s masterpiece is that success is not defined by any one venture. Success is defined by perseverance. When I fail (because I will), I’ll have to pivot and continue to give my all.
Humility and openmindedness both play a major role in whether or not I can own up to my shortcomings and strive to fix my problems. Admitting when I’m wrong, and continually looking for ways to improve, will go a long way to getting and staying on top in my industry.
I learned a lot from chapter 5, where Scaramucci goes on a deep dive into the four areas he’s labeled as “The Don’ts of Building A Business.” These four “don’ts” are:
- Don’t spend money on the wrong things,
- Don’t think you can do it alone
- Don’t over complicate your idea, and
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. I struggle the most with the roadblock “I don’t need anyone else’s help to solve my problems.” In the early phase of any startup, it’s often hard to have the right people on board.
With no business credit or credibility, no investors, and no cash flow, you’re left with finding team players who are willing to work for equity. That’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible.
Typically, however, you must first establish the viability of your business model, or in my case, complete my MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Then, as I start generating revenue, I can reinvest and build a small, but efficient, winning team. Scaramucci expands on the other three “don’ts” quite a bit, there’s a lot of value packed in pages 49-62.
In chapter 6, I learned the concept of SARAH (Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Help). It’s all about facing my shortcomings, losing the ego and fighting any urge to harbor resentment.
Thankfully I can honestly say I don’t struggle with these things anymore, but this chapter on “Holding Grudges” was refreshing. If only I could have read it 15 years ago. Toward the end of this section, there was an interesting quote from the Buddha, “Anger is the poison you ingest yourself, hoping it will kill the person you are angry at.” How accurate is that?!
“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. If you think about it, it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.” That was Warren Buffet who Scaramucci brilliantly quoted in chapter 8. He also shared a perhaps overly vivid explanation of his version of the J-Curve. I couldn’t help but laugh when he got to the part about metaphorically eating poo. But the funniest part about that is that it’s true. I can relate in so many ways. Early in a startup you need everyone to be willing to wear any hat that they’re asked to wear, and they need to be willing to change hats 20 times a day. If they aren’t, they aren’t startup material.o You’ll just have to pick up a copy of the book and read it for yourself if you want the details on Scaramucci’s J-Curve, I can’t spoil the entire book for you.
I’ve always considered myself a fairly skilled negotiator. After reading chapter 9, I can honestly say I’ve been sadly mistaken. This section of Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole explains the difference in the three primary negotiation philosophies:
- The Hammer & Chisel Approach,
- The Roger Fisher Model, and
- The Li Ka-shing Approach.
Scaramucci shares his understanding of BATNA, an acronym coined by Fisher, and he goes on to paint a beautiful portrait of the Ka-shing model. In summary, what I took away from this chapter was that I should leave money on the table for my partners. That everyone at the table can and should benefit mutually. And that by taking this approach, not only will I be successful, but I will be satisfied.
Scaramucci says it best, “Interpersonal relationships are way more valuable than money – they are the central axiom of our existence.” He goes on to say, “It’s about growing the size of the pie, not about fighting over the size of your slice.” These are words of wisdom I’m sure I’ll benefit from exponentially.
I learned a long time ago that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. There was one instance where I fired an entire division, nearly 20 employees, because the dissention had grown to into something uncontrollable. I spent all weekend at the office interviewing over 100 replacements and had the division completely re-staffed by Monday morning.
I mention this because had I been willing to fire someone at the first sight of a problem, I could have spared most of those employees. Those men and women depended on that income. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In chapter 10, Scaramucci lays out his “simple formula for building a successful team.” He has a great deal to say on the topics of keeping your employees close, hiring and firing strategy, and learning from the entrepreneurial greats.
Chapter 12 is titled “Image Is Everything.” Scaramucci has summarized his “image factory” with three simple rules:
- Mount a public relations strategy.
- Build a culture of communication. And,
- Have killer customer relations.
In the first rule, he gives specifics on getting the most from the media. One quote I enjoyed was, “Vulnerability makes you more approachable, and to grow your business you need to connect with your clients.” In the second section he writes “To gain and maintain market share, you have to maintain constant communication with current and prospective clients. You have to shape the narrative around your company because if you don’t, your competitors will do it for you.“
In the third section, he basically summarizes the entire scope of another book I recently read called “The Unstoppables” by Graham Weston, the founder of Rackspace. It goes to show that no matter how good my service is, I have a lot to gain by investing a tremendous amount of effort into my customer relations.
“If you start with a great product and take a bold but balanced approach to marketing, you’re going to be successful.” That’s the dose of reassurance I got from chapter 15, among insightful advice to hedge my bets and manage my marketing efforts much like I’d manage asset allocation in my portfolio.
One other quote I really enjoyed in this chapter was, “Come up with original ideas to solve problems for customers, and constantly highlight the differentiating factors that separates you from your competitors.” Seems obvious but really hits home to me.
The conclusion of the book is that I AM ENOUGH. You’re going to have to pick up a copy for yourself to discover what that really means and how it applies to you specifically. Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole is a 5 hour read that has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf, as I’m sure it will yours.
As I do with any book I read, I make a note of grammatical errors. On page 29, “as” should be “and.” On page 95, “global” should be “globe.”