The Fantastic Life

Even the Best Can Get Better


We can all be better.  We know that.  But how?  Here are some simple ways that I use and some additional highlights below in the article:

1. Keep learning and growing. Do things you have not done.
2. Work on a project today that has been sitting stagnant for a while, and move the ball down the field. Get really organized before Monday hits and see how productive you are.
3. Be self-aware and work on your strengths and weaknesses.

Edward Abbey wrote in Desert Solitaire “Geological time includes NOW.”   It’s the same with getting better–We ARE building ourselves right NOW.

Rule #8 from my book The Fantastic Life: The 2% Rule
Giving 100% all day, every day is exhausting. So instead, why not just try to do 2% more than everyone else? That extra little push that puts you above the rest will pay off dramatically. Whether it’s trying something new, reviving an old project, or any of the other tips in the below article, there are many ways you can move above the average.


Maynard Webb, Yahoo’s Chairman: Even the Best Teams Can Be Better

By: Adam Bryant

JAN. 3, 2015

This interview with Maynard Webb, a veteran technology executive whose current roles include serving as chairman of Yahoo, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

Credit Earl Wilson/The New York Times

“You have to get voted onto the team every day as an employee, and you have to be the employer of choice every day. I would often ask team leaders: ‘You have seven people working for you. How many of those would you rehire if all the positions were open again?’”

Q. Early influences for you?

A. The biggest thing that impacted me early on was my dad passing away when I was 7. We were a very successful middle-class family. He was a real estate appraiser and had his own company, but he died suddenly right before my seventh birthday. He had no life insurance, and we went from having most of what we needed to penniless.

My mother was left to look after five kids and his mother. Mom was a rock star and took care of us all — she went back and got her graduate degree and was named science teacher of the year for the state of Florida.

I am what I am today in large part because I was driven to never leave my kids in the same kind of position. I also had to start working early on. I was a paperboy. In high school, I worked at a bedding factory at night.

Tell me more about your mother.

My mother was fabulous but she was very, very tough on me. She ruled with an iron fist, so I was never confused about the values and ethics of our family. I feel her sitting on my shoulder every day, telling me whether she would be O.K. with what I’m doing.

And what were the values?
We treat people well. We stay humble. We don’t get ahead of ourselves. We work hard, and we take ownership of what we do. And if you act out or you do anything out of line, you will hear about it.

I remember when I made the all-star team in the Babe Ruth League. We had just come together recently as a team. I was playing third base, and when it was my time to hit, I struck out. I went back to third base, and we were doing a bit of practice before the other team’s turn to bat. I was really mad and I was firing the ball as hard as I could over to first base, and my mother yelled out, “Hey, Webb, too bad you can’t hit as hard as you throw.” And the shortstop walked over to me and said, “Why don’t you tell that lady in the stands to shut up?” I said: “I can’t. That’s my mom.”

She also taught us to give back and take care of the family first. I didn’t go hungry or anything like that, but we did live for three years without any TV or air-conditioning in a Florida house.

I used to love Christmas as a paperboy because you got all these tips, and so I would always do something special for the family. One year I bought a Ping-Pong table and put it in the family room. It taught me how cool it is to get something for somebody else and to have them enjoy it.

When you went to college, did you have an idea what you wanted to do?

I could picture being in an office with a suit, and being a leader, but that’s about as far as I thought about it. I majored in criminal justice because I wanted to be a lawyer and chase bad guys. I got hired by IBM as a senior in college as a security guy.

Then I taught myself how to program, and I became a computer security guy. I started volunteering for jobs, and my boss would say, “You’re not qualified to do that.” I’d say: “Well, I’ll do that for free for you and do my current job. No one else is doing it, so why don’t you let me do it? What’s the harm?”

I became one of the early hackers, before the Internet existed, and the company asked me to look into our different systems and see what I could break into. That was a fun job. My career is filled with things that I wasn’t qualified to do that I thought I could do and nobody else wanted.

What are some other lessons you’ve learned during your career?

You have to get voted onto the team every day as an employee, and you have to be the employer of choice every day. I would often ask team leaders: “You have seven people working for you. How many of those would you rehire if all the positions were open again?”
The point is that you can’t let mediocre performance impede where you can go. Most managers are good-hearted people, and it’s really hard to tell somebody they’re not performing well. I would just encourage people to get after that more quickly because the rest of your team is watching you and waiting for you to do something.
In general, I think companies spend too much time on their poor performers and not enough time on making their A-plus players even better.

How do you hire?

I try to have a very big network, because the best hires are people I’ve already seen in a work environment and they did a great job.

But if I’m meeting you for the first time, I’ll probably start by asking you about your first job and what you’ve done outside of school and work. I’ve found that there is a high correlation between work ethic and people’s extracurricular activities that weren’t driven by mom and dad.
Then I would ask about other things to look for truth and self-awareness, like: “Six months from now, we’re going to know each other very well. What will your team and what will I say that you do really, really well? And then what will they say that we all wish you did better?”
You’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve heard people say: “Oh, nothing. You’ll just love everything about me.”
And I’ll say: “Dude, that’s not true. It’s not true for me. Let me give you some examples of the things you’ll wish that I did better.”
I’m just looking for self-awareness and openness. And then I try to probe on value systems and how they work in teams. Tell me about situations that were really tough, and how you got out of them. I like to hear how they tell stories.

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