Less is more.

Photo Update; The doors at Brains on Fire’s World Wide headquarters always seem so friendly and welcoming to me..

I’m a big Good to Great fan. I have to admit it’s one of the few business books beside Switch and of course, Brains on Fire that I’ve actually read from start to finish.

Come on. Don’t judge. Don’t we all scan business books?.

Anyway. I was pretty excited to read these excerpts from Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All in Fortune yesterday.

(Thanks Verne Harnish for sharing the link in your trusty newsletter.)

Okay. Listen to this.

Jim Collins and his co-author, Morten Hansen looked at 20,400 companies beginning in 2002. Out of that entire group only seven had reached what the authors called 10x status.

In their own words:

“We labeled our high-performing study cases with the moniker “10X” because they didn’t merely get by or just become successful. They truly thrived. Every 10X case beat its industry index by at least 10 times.”

In other words they were very sustainable companies.

Southwest Airlines is a 10x.

Seems that one of the key traits that all the 10x companies had was a “slow and steady” wins the race philosophy. The authors labeled it the “20 mile march”. They made a brilliant analogy between these 10x companies and two hikers going from the west coast to the east coast. The one that goes 20 miles a day in bad weather or good weather wins the race compared to the one that rests when it’s too hot or rainy and goes full tilt when conditions are just right.


“Southwest had the discipline to hold back in good times so as not to extend beyond its ability to preserve profitability and the Southwest culture.”

Fantastic! I love it. It feels so simple and right as a business principle in my gut.

Sometimes holding back and having a bit of restraint is good thing.

And you know what? I believe with all my heart this same principle applies to growing a community of advocates for your business.

At Brains on Fire we strongly believe that if you want to start a movement you have to first have a community that is connected through shared passions. And we also believe that there has to be a certain amount of restraint in building a sustainable community. You don’t want people in the community who don’t want or intent to be involved. They just muck up the waters.

You need a barrier of entry to make sure that those who sign up are willing to put some skin in the game. You want to weed out the curious or those looking for something free for goodness sake. Which is why it kills me to see sheer volume and numbers of people (or fans or ambassadors) as a measurement for success when it comes to igniting community or sparking word of mouth.

You need to measure success one human being at time. One relationship at time. Slow and steady equals sustainable.

Here’s my simple analogy.

If you want to build a house with volunteers would you rather have 10 people who raised their hand and have a passion for helping build houses? Or 100 people who just want a free lunch?

Seems so obvious to me.

What do you think about this notion of slowly and steadily building a community of advocates?

It’s Tuesday. Let’s share.

When has less been more for your organization?

Like this post?

Why not share with a friend?