CEOs and heads of state aren’t the only leaders we should look to for inspiration. All around us are people who see opportunity where others don’t and who have the courage to go there, not caring that they’re out of step with their peers. Three current examples:
-Hoops fans know they’ve been watching something extraordinary in the performance of the Golden State Warriors and particularly in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But you needn’t know basketball to appreciate the daring they and coach Steve Kerr have shown in reimagining how teams succeed. Their fundamental insight – simple to say, hard to do – was that three-point shots are worth more than everybody else thought. Behind that guiding strategy, Warriors players and Curry in particular spent countless hours practicing shots from three-point distance and far beyond, extending the effective scoring zone to dimensions no other team envisioned.
Result: The Warriors won an NBA record 73 games in the regular season and head into the playoff finals tomorrow. More important, they’ve transformed the game. Analyst Bill Simmons pointed out that in the whole 1986 six-game final series, Boston and Houston between them made 17 three-pointers. In the just-concluded seven-game semifinal series, Thompson alone made 30 three-pointers and Curry 32, a record. The Warriors have forced every team in the league to play in a new way. That’s leadership.
-The TSA’s recent immiseration of air travelers seems like one of those problems that no earthly force can change. Airport security lines are getting longer; deal with it. Except that Delta Air Lines decided maybe it could do something, so it spent $1 million to help the TSA solve the problem. The result is a slightly redesigned security checkpoint that, Delta says, doubles capacity without requiring more staff. It’s remarkably simple. Instead of passengers sequentially arranging their carry-on bags to go through the scanner – so that one inexperienced traveler or one family with baby and stroller can delay everyone – there are five stations where travelers arrange their things simultaneously and go when ready. A conveyer belt underneath continually returns empty bins to the start of the lane. The new lanes are being tested at Delta’s main hub in Atlanta; see video here.
But wait. The TSA is still in charge, and an official says if the tests look good, the agency could roll out the revised system – in five years! Delta COO Gil West told CNN, “Five years is way too long to scale this. We will help enable the acceleration of the deployment.”
–Michael Dann died on Friday. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he was one of the all-time great TV programmers, helping to lead CBS to a a level of dominance in the 1960s that no TV network had achieved before, or has achieved since, or will likely ever achieve again. There were entire seasons in which 14 of TV’s 15 most popular series were on CBS.
He succeeded the same way as everyone who picks winners, which is to say, like all successful leaders: by seeing what no one else sees and having the courage to bet on it.
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What We’re Reading Today
Former Trump University employees call the school…
…a “fraudulent scheme.” In lawsuit documents recently unsealed, employees of Donald Trump‘s for-profit school detailed the high-pressure sales tactics they were told to use. One person said he was reprimanded for not convincing a financially strapped couple to purchase a $35,000 real estate class; another sales person closed the deal. Former students are suing the now defunct school, in which Trump owned a 93% stake. NYT
Shari Redstone fires back at Viacom’s directors
A day after Viacom’s independent directors threatened to go to court if controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone tries to oust them, his daughter Shari Redstone said she’s not interested in managing Viacom. She said through a spokesperson that she wants “strong, independent directors” who will oversee management, a shot at the directors and CEO Philippe Dauman. Los Angeles Times
Judge rules Dell underpaid to buy back his company
When Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners took Dell private, they underpaid investors by 22%, a judge ruled. But under Delaware law, Dell and his partners will need to repay investors only $36 million plus interest. Carl Icahn was among the investors in 2013 claiming the deal was underpriced. Reuters
Eric Holder: Snowden’s act was a “public service”
The former attorney general explained that Edward Snowden‘s data leak was highly illegal, and Holder said he doesn’t believe the action served American interests. But he said it opened a conversation on U.S. mass surveillance. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Job seekers with a more generalist background…
…receive more job offers than specialists do, and that leads to more pay, on average. Harvard Business Review
The difference between good mistakes and bad
Don’t mistake imperfections for shortcomings. Instead, use imperfection as an opportunity for growth and learning. Fortune
Companies worried about cash-strapped employees…
…are offering low-interest loans for needs such as car repairs and healthcare costs. WSJ
Jeff Bezos to Peter Thiel: Grow a thicker skin
Speaking at the Code Conference, Amazon CEO Bezos questioned whether secretly financing lawsuits against Gawker was the best use of Thiel’s time. “Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself,” he said. The Washington Post owner also added that while Thiel can secretly fund these suits, he’s going against American culture by doing so. The Guardian
Staples CEO steps down
Ron Sargent, who has headed the office supply company since 2002, resigned and will step down next month. His decision comes in the wake of a failed bid for Office Depot, which couldn’t get past antitrust regulators. Shira Goodman, Staples’ head of North American operations, will replace Sargent until a successor is found. Boston Globe
Elon Musk recounts mistakes at Tesla
At the company’s annual meeting, Musk and CTO JB Straubel discussed the issues and missteps that have hindered the company since its founding. Musk even said Tesla was founded on some false beliefs about the technology used in its first vehicle, the Roadster. The meeting was a mix of therapy session and confession for Musk, who originally gave the company a 10% chance of succeeding. Fortune
Up or Out
Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders will step down. Ben Kohn will serve as interim CEO while the company pursues a sale. Flanders will become CEO of eHealth Inc. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Former Barclays director accused of giving inside information…
…to his plumber. Steven McClatchey is accused of providing the information in exchange for a bathroom remodel. Fortune
Fortune 500 CEOs prefer Clinton to Trump
Hillary Clinton gets 58% support in Fortune‘s informal poll. Donald Trump gets only 42%, a low number from a traditionally Republican group, likely owing in part to Trump’s anti-trade stance. Fortune
General Mills to recall some of its flour products
It’s in response to an E. coli investigation. Fortune
Hackers take control…
…of the world’s most followed Twitter account. Singer Katy Perry‘s account was commandeered, and hackers started posting attacks on Taylor Swift and random nonsense to her 89 million followers. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“When it comes to space, I see it as my job to build infrastructure the hard way. I’m using my resources to put in that infrastructure so that the next generation of people can have a dynamic, entrepreneurial solar system as interesting as we see on the Internet today. I want thousands of entrepreneurs to do amazing things in space. To do that we have to dramatically lower the cost of entering space.” — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos discussing his interest in space and his spaceflight company Blue Origin at Code Conference. Fortune