Alicia Diamond

Chief of Staff Blog

Actionable advice, tips, and musings from a 2x Chief of Staff

Kicking Off the New Year, Minus the BS

Chicago’s own, Howard Tullman, shared a piece on Inc. calling for leaders to stop fooling themselves and make tough, honest calls in 2019.

“ Get used to the idea that there's never enough to go around and you can never make everyone happy or please all of the people even some of the time.  Don't even start down that path. Absolutely the most important thing not to do is to try to treat everyone "fairly" - by which I mean equally - because nothing about business is fair.”

Tullman uses the crutch of annual budget planning to kickstart this idea, encouraging leaders to be ruthless about how they allocate their resources and to reward only those projects, departments, and individuals that make an outsized impact on the bottom line. 

I love Tullman’s brash approach and think it’s the bucket of cold water to the face most of us need this time of year, especially in our personal lives. I approach regular goal setting a bit more intentionally than cliched New Year’s resolutions. I am guilty of biting off more than I can chew - that is, stretching my time too thinly across a few goals. Instead, I ought to double-down on what is making the biggest impact in my life. 

Tullman’s advice to “rank ‘em or yank ‘em” harkens back to the much maligned GE practice of stack ranking. I’m curious if this is how he actually ran his team at 1871 and in other places in his career, or if he’s pushing people to take the uncomfortable, rarely travelled road from his cushy seat as a VC.