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Marissa Mayer and The Greatest Turnaround in History

I recently read the first memo Marissa Mayer gave to the Yahoo employees as CEO. It contained a key sentence that made me really believe in her and the future of Yahoo:

“We will continue to invest in talent, so we can produce the most compelling and exciting user experiences anywhere.”

1 Simple Goal

Most new CEOs have a boiler plate reply about growing revenues or investing in big markets. Not Marissa – she specifically mentioned investing in people. By focusing on 1 simple goal that everyone (investors and employees) can agree with makes an amazing company a lot easier to build.

Focusing on Safety turned around Aluminum Co.

To make my point I want to tell you about a story that I recently read in “The Power of Habit“. In 1987 Paul O’Neill took over a Aluminum Co. a floundering aluminum production company. He told the massive company that all he is going to do is focus on safety. Focusing on safety was something no one could argue about – the management or the factory workers. By focusing on something as simple as safety, Paul was able to increase productivity (less on-the-job injuries), improve communication (as soon as their was an error management knew about it), and in turn this increased the quality of the product! In 5 short years Aluminum Co. was one of the safest companies to work for and was a profit making machine.

Marissa’s focus on talent

By focusing on talent everything in the company will automatically improve.

Yahoo will be able to attract top talent and existing employees will become even more talented, more talented people will create better products, better products will bring in more revenue!

Good luck Marissa – you are already off to a great start!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cary August 8, 2012, 11:44 PM

    I never heard the Paul O’Neill story – it was soooo inspiring.

    I don’t know if that is what MM is doing – but I guess we will find out soon 🙂

    • Rishi Shah August 9, 2012, 6:37 PM

      Hey Cary,

      I highly recommend reading “The Power of Habit” it is filled with inspiring stories like that one.


  • Ross August 15, 2012, 10:04 AM

    I see a parallel to education here. Two years ago my school’s principal said we are not going to have any new initiatives. We are focusing on using teamwork to collect and analyze student performance data to inform our instruction. Ask any teacher and they will probably tell you their school suffers from initiative overload. I commend our principal’s vision for continuing to focus on one thing that the whole school can use to get better instead of having math initiatives, new reading programs, changing science techniques, etc., etc. ad nauseum. When leadership decides to stick to one initiative and do more than just pay lip service to it I think the employees can better see it’s importance and fall in line. Best of all when the system starts working it encourages them and it’s easier to attribute that one change, instead of trying to figure out which of 23 initiatives are working.

    • Rishi Shah August 16, 2012, 6:54 AM

      This is a really great comment, Ross.

      Have you noticed any sort of improvement in the school over the last 2 years?

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