The 5 Super Skills Of Great Leaders

leader_goodLast year, I started following the interesting content provided by Fishbowl CEO David Williams and President Mary Michelle Scott.

I quickly became fascinated with their perspective on running a business because it felt real, down to earth, and gusty.  This amazing company dared to try new things and share what they were learning with the world.

The articles were not your typical fare. They did not simply tell you what to do but told stories with passion that captured my interest.  Following their Forbes columns is an adventure in learning.  They write about everything from abolishing meetings, to solving the worlds problems on 3×5 cards.

The Fishbowl team has exceptional thoughts on leadership and how to build a culture within a company that thrives on a willingness to work together and create something incredible.  Easier said than done.

The reason why I was drawn to the articles was because I knew there must be quite a backstory that gave the leaders at Fishbowl the desire to empower their team. People don’t build an exceptional work culture by accident. It is not a talent that you are born with. It needs to be sculpted with a lot of experience and effort.

Dealing With Adversity

One of Forbes columns that captured my heart was, “A Lesson In Courage: The Story Of Cam, a very inspiring story of the courage and determination of David’s son Cam, and his battle with cancer. This past week, they sadly lost another amazing member of their team.  His name is Bryan Byrge, a young man with so much promise who was tragically killed while riding his bicycle to work.  One of their employees, a fellow elite athlete offered an amazing tribute to Bryan.

These Fishbowlers have their share of challenges and trials, what is interesting is how they all pull together during these times.

What It Takes To Be A Great Leader

It is important for people to understand that great leaders are not born; they are made. And all great leaders got a lot of help and inspiration along the way, though few like to admit it.

It is also extremely important to know that being a great leader has absolutely nothing to do with how much someone has in his or her wallet. I know a ton of people running hugely successful companies who are miserable and callous.

Being a great leader has everything to do with how you treat your people and how you trust and empower your team. Nearly every business leader relies on their team as the lifeblood of their business, whether they choose to believe it or not.

A Tremendous Book On Leadership

The 7 Non-Negotiables Of Winning, chronicles the personal trials of David, the rise of Fishbowl and the importance of teamwork to make a company grow and flourish. David often comments, “It’s not my book, it’s Fishbowl’s book.  It belongs to all of us.  It is our shared history and it is a great reminder to our team that we will never sell Fishbowl.”

Here are five of the main ingredients that I took away from reading The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning:

Let’s dive into this a bit:

1) Fail… a lot.

A leader fails a lot because that’s the only way he or she wins a lot. People need to understand that the difference between failing and succeeding is getting up one more time than they fall down.

2) Listen… a lot.

Leaders listen a lot because they need to learn why they failed and get help from people who have failed before them so they can learn from them to avoid making those same mistakes in the future. David and I have started a series on Forbes on this topic called The Lemon-Aide Interviews, which talks about how to learn from failure.

3) Strive… a lot.

Leaders strive a lot because great leaders never give up on what they believe in. It doesn’t mean they don’t analyze, change, and modify along the way. It means they keep trying until they succeed… no matter what.

4) Care… a lot

The_7_Non-Negotiables_of_Winning_book_coverGreat leaders must care a lot because if they don’t love what they do, and who they work with, there is no reason to do it. Life is too short to be self-centered.

5) Get back up… a lot.

Leaders get back up because they have to be in the game to have a chance to win. No one ever scored a goal, made a basket, or hit a home run while sitting on the bench.

Admirable Values Of The 7 Non Negotiables Of Winning

Fishbowl continues to practice these principles every day. The 7 Non-Negotiables are a blueprint on how to run a company with exceptional values and empowerment. My favorite line in the book is “our exit strategy is death.”

Here are a few of the items from the book that I enjoyed:

1)  Most of the people at Fishbowl own a part of the company.

2)  There is not a traditional hierarchy. Leaders work in pairs and they empower employees to manage themselves.

3)  There are as few company meetings as humanly possible. The philosophy is that meetings are productivity killers and there are often better ways to communicate what people need to do.

4)  People decide their own responsibilities and are accountable for one another as a team – not to some boss far removed from them.

5)  Pay structure is contingent on how the company performs, not on what the management thinks people should be paid.

6)  Fishbowl’s philosophy is to grow slow and steady rather than fast and reckless.

7)  Fishbowl believes that the most valuable asset is listening and seeking to understand.

Information By Itself Is Useless

This book is not simply a sit-back-and-learn kind of book. Information is great, but if it is never applied it means absolutely nothing. At the end of each chapter are exercises developed and used within Fishbowl.

This reminded me a lot of the principles of the old Tony Robbins tapes. To me, implementing action steps after teaching a lesson is the only way to get people off their rear-ends and actually get them to practice what they have been taught. Information that is not put to use right away is known to dissipate quite quickly.

A Few Last Thoughts

To be clear, this is not a book review. Nobody asked me to write this. I wrote this because if you are a leader, or some day want to be a leader, you need to read this book.

Too many people have the misconception that leaders lead only through fear and iron fists. This is 100 percent incorrect. Dictators lead with an iron fist. If you are a leader that means you have a team. If you have a team, your job is to create an environment for that team to thrive and flourish.

Have a great day!


{Final Note}: David’s book is now available on Audible. I am an Audible fiend so I suggest downloading the book via Audible. David’s calm and soothing demeaner coupled with his clear narration makes the experience even better. Don’t take my word for it… listen to a sample of it here



“MJ takes a new and exciting approach on how to teach entrepreneurs.”

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Co-host of ABC's, 'Shark Tank'

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4 thoughts on “The 5 Super Skills Of Great Leaders

  1. This is awesome MJ. Love that you “get” the 7 NN way so well. You definitely know how to “roll in the bowl.” Nicely done!

    1. Thanks Andrew. Yes I would absolutely recommend it you will not be disappointed! Have a great one! Best-MJ

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