Jim Weber joined Brooks Running Company as CEO in 2001 and is credited for the Seattle-based running company’s aggressive turnaround story. The business and brand success caught the attention of Warren Buffett, who declared Brooks a standalone subsidiary company of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in 2012. He’s the author of a new book called, “Running With Purpose, How Brooks Outpaced Goliath Competitors to lead the pack.”
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- When Jim became CEO, there was a mission statement on the wall in the main conference room. It said that “Brooks would become a leader in performance running and one of the most admired companies in the world.” Jim said, “Often the admired company lists either overemphasize current financial performance or a derivative of a beauty contest influenced by “best companies to work for” lists. And being “admired” is external recognition of outcomes, it does not shine a light on how to actually create those “desired” results.
- A purpose is a forever cause that can permeate everything from the business to the brand to the culture. It is a choice, not an outcome.
- The secret to success is “constancy of purpose” – Instead of a mission statement, Jim decided that a purpose was preferable to a mission. A purpose is a forever cause that can permeate everything from the business to the brand to the culture.
- The riskiest path is to look like your competitors. You can’t just chase trends.
- They have distinct points of view:
- Excellence in execution
- Trust: Charlie Munger has often spoken about the “seamless web of deserved trust” as a life pursuit.
- The Berkshire culture is built on trust
- Brooks is completely empowered
- Brooks is completely accountable
- There are no required meetings
- People choose to self-select into it
- The Berkshire culture is built on trust
- “You’re an outcome of your journey.”
- What Jim looks for when hiring a leader:
- Culture driven – “Cultures are behaviors in action.”
- Likes being part of a team
- Functional excellence
- Word is bond
- Be active
- The process Jim has in place to continue learning:
- He was involved in YPO in the early years
- His wife Mary Ellen
- A board of advisors – It’s 6 former CEOs
- The one–page strategy that you relentlessly message to your team – Jim made the decision to walk away from non-premium running to concentrate on performance-running, eliminating 50% of his product line and 40% of his retail partnerships. He didn’t try to be all things to all people.
- Expectations and Messaging: After becoming CEO, Jim lowered revenue and profit projections so that he could establish some credibility by hitting his numbers. He brought in a new CFO, David Bohan… He shared a one-page strategy and told everyone they would get sick of you repeating it.
- One morning at a leadership off-site meeting, Jim went on a run. After he finished it, he poured out a personal manifesto that reflected what he appreciated in the best and most authentic leaders with whom he had worked…
- I want to be led. I don’t want to be managed. I do not want to punch a time clock
- I want to be part of something I can be proud of
- I want to be communicated with in an open and transparent manner
- I want to learn
- I want a challenge to be my best self, fully develop my talents, and do meaningful work
- I expect to work hard, so I want to enjoy my work, the place, and the people
- I need to feel your support and confidence in my work
- I want to work with people who share the goals and values of the organization
- The Essence of Authentic Leadership: Focus, Curiosity, and Trust
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- Read: Running With Purpose
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