The one sentence summary

It is possible to build a world-class business by doing the right thing.

Can’t be bothered to read it? Too much screen time lately? Listen to the 5-minute podcast in 2 parts. 


  • This is the collected wisdom of the founding partner of Abbott Mead Vickers – 100 suggestions covering starting out, stepping stones, management, leadership and strategy.
  • It isn’t possible to summarise 100 points, but here are some that stand out:
  • Nice is not patting people on the head. It’s every person respecting every other person. Do that and you create a great business. It’s a credo for life.
  • Find a trustworthy single source of advice and stick with it
  • Take a risk but be sure to pick the right people
  • If you hire small minds you will end up with a small company
  • Beware of success – egos can be destructive
  • Don’t be greedy
  • Be careful what you wish for – the price can be high
  • If you don’t believe in it, how can I?
  • The objectivity of ignorance means you should think like a customer for as long as you can before you know too much about an issue
  • Value what you do
  • Old product development is just as important as new product development – review your existing assets
  • Get to the people who can say ‘yes’ and avoid those who can only say ‘no’
  • Learn how to take ‘yes’ for an answer
  • Be gracious in defeat
  • Cherish your foot soldiers as much as your high-flyers
  • Understand how important it is to listen
  • Little things mean a lot
  • People are more important than machines
  • Pass praise on
  • Fear is an abomination as a management tool
  • Tenacity is a management tool
  • Never be a shouter
  • Don’t let people become a flexible overhead
  • When making savings don’t confuse cost with value
  • Don’t confuse activity with progress
  • Every business is detail – lack of attention to it tells you a lot
  • Understand that the response to a mistake is much more important than the infraction itself
  • Democracy is no way to run a company
  • If you’re paid to do so, make sure you assume responsibility
  • Develop an ability to spot early signs of company politics and stop them at source
  • Don’t be beguiled by flattery
  • Never lose your sense of wonder
  • Don’t be afraid of your competitors
  • Never get beguiled by the process
  • Always examine the potential pitfalls of rapid expansion as well as the expected rewards
  • Sit back and let others do it


  • “The ability to get along with people is a commodity like any other. The only difference is that I’ll pay more for that commodity than anything else I produce.” Rockefeller
  • “I want a business full of nice and talented people. If they’re nice but not talented there is no room for them but equally importantly, if not more so, if they are talented but not nice I don’t want them around either.” Bill Bernbach
  • “Most people see things as they are and ask why? I dream of things as they could be and ask why not?” Bobby Kennedy, with apologies to George Bernard Shaw
  • “In order to enjoy the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton
  • You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Mae West


  • The book is only loosely organised, so be prepared to roll with the anecdotes and find some repetition.