- Why everyone should read The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (even if you are not a CEO)
- A closer look at Katharine Graham’s story
William Thorndike spent eight years writing about the eight best chief executives (CEOs). It is unsurprising that The Outsiders came top on Warren Buffett’s 2012 recommended reading list: he is one of them. But many of Thorndike’s chosen CEOs are lesser-known heroes, whose stories offer some refreshing lessons.
In his introduction Thorndike likens CEOs to professional athletes on the grounds that they compete in a highly quantitative field. From this, he establishes the problem: there is no single, accepted metric for measuring their performance. The book resolves this by acknowledging, “what matters isn’t the absolute rate of return but the return relative to one’s peers and the market”. The common view that Jack Welch of General Electric is the greatest CEO ever is therefore identified as short-sighted because Welch’s tenure coincided with the largely uninterrupted bull market of 1982-2000.