Everybody Matters: It Requires A Different Lens

Abhishek Paul
2 min readApr 29, 2019

Continuing my learnings from the book “Everybody Matters”. This is taken from chapter 2. The series began here.

  1. Constraints Exist for Everyone

When Bob wanted to make acquisitions, his finance team came back to him with the obvious excuse — “we have no money.” What they were implying was that as CEO he should have known this obvious fact and hence how silly his whole plan was.

Bob’s response showed that he was in fact very much aware but more importantly he was able to see beyond the obvious. “Don’t tell me what we can’t do. I didn’t tell you we needed money. I said we need to do acquisitions.”

He wisely called out the easy and lazy response (no money), questioned their assumption (no money = no acquisition) and redirected them to stay focussed on the objective (to make acquisitions).

This was no simple stubborn headedness or a motivational tactic, but it was a reminder that constraints are a given, yet the response cannot be to abandon a key objective.

2) ……So You Do Something Different

What do you do then? If the decision is to still go after acquisitions, then the real challenge was to do something different. In this case the constraints were that the company had no money, not much experience and little credibility (!) — no small issues. So how could they still pursue let alone meet their acquisition objective? The answer was to buy companies that nobody else wants! This answer though would not have occurred had they not decided to look beyond the immediate and seemingly insurmountable constraints.

Bob’s first acquisition was to buy two broken companies with three to four million dollars in sales, put them together and within three years create a highly profitable $37 million company!

3) Even The Most Experienced Miss Possibilities:

When Bob continued his model of buying struggling businesses, combining them and making them profitable, they decided to go IPO. The results were beyond anything they anticipated — their stock was oversubscribed 35 times over!

Harvard Business School did a case study on the public offering.

His own board puts it best telling him, “We’ve never seen anything like this. You bought businesses nobody wanted and thoughtfully put them together: you amplified the initiatives and amazingly it really was massively attractive to the market.”

This just goes to show that game changing outcomes rarely come through traditional thinking; the company’s precarious financial situation motivated them to do some unconventional thinking and create outcomes beyond anyone’s imagination!