Friday Book Review (On Sunday): Built To Last

Ian Lurie

Yup, a couple days late. I was out sick (missing my second consecutive company Christmas party).

I just finished Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. I read it after seeing how thought-provoking the book was for SEOMoz’s Rand Fiskin.

It’s not a book about internet marketing. Not directly. But we work in an emerging industry, and the teachings in this book could make the difference between the agencies that make money, then pass on when their leaders leave, and those that grown and thrive for decades.

I found it to be a brilliant, sobering, sometimes slightly frustrating read. Valuable lessons learned:

  1. I’m not crazy. The most successful leaders don’t work 90 hour weeks. They’re fantastic delegators, work at full speed while at the office, but their families remember what they look like.
  2. It’s OK to dream of building a company that will outlive you.
  3. Clear communications to your management team are a must. They have to know you, inside-out, even if that’s sometimes uncomfortable.
  4. Hire for smarts and a great fit, not to fill a position (first who, then what). I’ve been criticized for this in the past. Now I can feel a little smug :).
  5. I don’t have a Hedgehog Concept yet. You’ll have to read the book to learn that one.
  6. There are no ‘miracle moments’. Companies don’t suddenly flare into greatness. They get there a brick at a time.

As a historian, I would’ve liked to have learned more about the leaders they researched: Their quirks, their foibles, and what they had to overcome to make their companies great.

But it’s a fantastic book. Anyone who wants to lead an enduring organization should read it.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. I’ve read this book twice and you’re spot on with your assessment. I’m also bewildered by how many organizations ignore such basic advice.
    Of all the items you’ve bulleted, clear communication from management has to top my list. How many times have you worked for a boss that has gives fuzzy, if any, direction?

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