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Doing What Matters

Cover of Doing What Matters

Doing What Matters

How to Get Results That Make a Difference-The Revolutionary Old-Fashioned Approach
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With so many options and data available, how do you decide to do what really matters? Whether you are the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international company, the brand manager for a product, a manger of human resources, an entrepreneur starting a new business, or someone just starting a career, the biggest impediment to success is the failure to understand what really matters. Jim Kilts started his business career over three decades ago and has moved from his initial job of product manager to become the CEO of several of the world's best-known companies. His success has been based on his ability to separate myth from fact, cut through the fog of conflicting opinions, do what matters and ignore the rest. When you inherit, as Kilts did, a sales force at Nabisco that had just gone through a $50 million reorganization, but was on a trajectory to crash and burn, you have to know what matters so you can make the right decisions before the moment of impact. Or when you walk into Gillette as CEO facing a company with flat sales, declining market share and missed earnings estimates for 15 straight quarters, action is needed and you'd better be right.

Kilts shows how in situation after situation he probed, prodded and identified what matters: the right customers to target, the dynamics of the market that were the most important, how to uncover a different reality from the conventional wisdom. As a young product manager he tells how he refused to see the Country Time brand as just a nice product extension but as a huge opportunity, one that became a robust brand and a half-billion dollar annual business. Or how, as a seasoned CEO, he broke through decades-long conventional wisdom that a red razor would never work.

What Kilts provides in this audiobook is a useful, down-to-earth complete system for success that has worked for him and for the many hundreds of people who have worked for him. It includes a focus on personal attributes (such as intellectual integrity, emotional engagement and action orientation), the management processes and ways of doing things that make all of the difference (such as selecting the right team, what you need to do on your first day on the job) and vision and long term planning (how to select the right roadmap for your business, how to prevent a circle of doom from happening or work your way out of one).

With so many options and data available, how do you decide to do what really matters? Whether you are the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international company, the brand manager for a product, a manger of human resources, an entrepreneur starting a new business, or someone just starting a career, the biggest impediment to success is the failure to understand what really matters. Jim Kilts started his business career over three decades ago and has moved from his initial job of product manager to become the CEO of several of the world's best-known companies. His success has been based on his ability to separate myth from fact, cut through the fog of conflicting opinions, do what matters and ignore the rest. When you inherit, as Kilts did, a sales force at Nabisco that had just gone through a $50 million reorganization, but was on a trajectory to crash and burn, you have to know what matters so you can make the right decisions before the moment of impact. Or when you walk into Gillette as CEO facing a company with flat sales, declining market share and missed earnings estimates for 15 straight quarters, action is needed and you'd better be right.

Kilts shows how in situation after situation he probed, prodded and identified what matters: the right customers to target, the dynamics of the market that were the most important, how to uncover a different reality from the conventional wisdom. As a young product manager he tells how he refused to see the Country Time brand as just a nice product extension but as a huge opportunity, one that became a robust brand and a half-billion dollar annual business. Or how, as a seasoned CEO, he broke through decades-long conventional wisdom that a red razor would never work.

What Kilts provides in this audiobook is a useful, down-to-earth complete system for success that has worked for him and for the many hundreds of people who have worked for him. It includes a focus on personal attributes (such as intellectual integrity, emotional engagement and action orientation), the management processes and ways of doing things that make all of the difference (such as selecting the right team, what you need to do on your first day on the job) and vision and long term planning (how to select the right roadmap for your business, how to prevent a circle of doom from happening or work your way out of one).

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    Chapter 1

    How Do You Know What Really Matters?

    One of the first phone calls I received when news broke about my becoming Gillette's new CEO was from a Boston-based business associate. "Jim, I know a lot of Gillette executives, and my advice is go slow." Gillette people don't like outsiders, he said, which is why the company last had an outside CEO seventy years ago, and he failed miserably. "Give people time to get to know you before you start changing things," my friend said. "It's the best approach you can take."

    That call was followed by many more, along with dozens of proposals from professionals, including consultants, bankers, compensation specialists, and sales motivation experts. Each had a plan or recommendation that should receive my top priority if I wanted to succeed at Gillette.

    With all that advice, how do you decide what matters?

    One of the biggest impediments to success in business--for individuals and companies--is the failure to achieve that understanding.

    Whether you're the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company, the brand manager for a struggling product, a director of human resources, or an entrepreneur starting your own business, you're always confronted with an insurmountable amount of information and a number of options, conflicting opinions, and management theories that are as endless as they are confusing.

    Making these decisions isn't a job for the timid or weak of heart. It takes guts to say these are the things that really matter; I'll pay absolutely no attention to the rest. That's the challenge everyone faces. This book helps you meet that challenge.

    You're always confronted with an insurmountable amount of information and possible options.

    $40 Billion of LosT Value With No End In Sight

    For example, I faced no bigger challenge than the decisions we made during my first months at Gillette. Early in 2001, the company had missed its earnings estimates for fifteen straight quarters. Sales and earnings had been flat for the prior four years. Market shares were declining sharply. Advertising spending, the lifeline of consumer products, had been slashed year after year. Overhead costs were high and growing. And competition was intensifying.

    Wall Street had lost patience with this chronic under- performance. And Gillette's share price reflected the disappointment. It had fallen from an all-time high of $64.25 in March of 1999 to $24.50 in 2001. That's a 62 percent drop in two years--a loss in market capitalization of close to $40 billion, and there was no end in sight.

    So it's no surprise that analysts and investors had plenty of ideas for what had to be done. The problem was that no two suggestions were the same, and many were conflicting. It was up to me to decide which ones really mattered. Or whether it was better to put aside the advice and chart a different course.

    Multiple Options, No Simple Answers

    These wouldn't be simple decisions. And they would make the difference between whether Gillette would survive and prosper, or continue its unrelenting decline. Here are some of the suggestions that were being offered. Many would result in a corporate yard sale.

    • Divest the ailing Duracell business. This was a $2 billion business that Gillette had spent around $8 billion dollars to purchase just four years before. The post-acquisition performance had been miserable. Duracell had gone from one of the best-performing brands in the consumer products sector to a true basket case. Its market share had slipped by almost 15 percent--from 46 to 40 percent of the alkaline-battery market in the United States. And the competitive pressure was mounting....

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine James Kilts recounts some of the issues he faced in leading Gillette, Nabisco, and Kraft as CEO during times of business challenge. He offers insights into his management style of focusing on fundamentals and the tasks at hand while maintaining a broad-based view of the future and acting decisively based on the best information available. He describes many of those challenges, illustrating the basics of his approach. Marc Cashman is a steady narrator who keeps the pace moving. He presents Kilts as a down-to-earth but intense leader with conviction in his philosophy and in his skills. Cashman's conversational style is easy to listen to and highlights the major themes. J.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Warren E. Buffett "Jim Kilts transformed Gillette. Before his arrival, the company was a study in self-deception. Great brands were being mishandled, operational and financial discipline was non-existent and fanciful promises to investors were standard practice. In record time, Jim excised these business pathogens. I've learned much from Jim. So, too, will readers of this book."
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Doing What Matters
How to Get Results That Make a Difference-The Revolutionary Old-Fashioned Approach
James M. Kilts
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Doing What Matters
How to Get Results That Make a Difference-The Revolutionary Old-Fashioned Approach
James M. Kilts
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