Working Together | Michael Eisner & Aaron Cohen

Published in: 2010

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Michael Eisner is the man who, along with Frank Wells, led Disney from 1984 to 1994. They quickly noticed that 1+1 can be 3 or more. They protected not only the organization but also each other through counseling and support. Eisner has said “I smoothed the way for him to be successful, just as he smoothed the way for me”. Eisner and Wells were “managing partners, programming partners and ethical partners”.

“We grew together, learned together, and discovered together how to turn what was in retrospect a small business into indeed a very big business”.

UNSHAKABLE LOYALTY. A cornerstone of a successful partnership is unwavering loyalty. Eisner writes that no one could get between him and Wells by trying to play them against each other. Buffett testifies to a similar relationship; if Munger was against an idea and Buffett still invested, Munger is still behind the decision if things go badly.

CREDIT IS OVERATED. For Frank Wells it was not about getting praise for a good idea but rather about achieving success. Being territorial around praise and recognition can create a “hook leg” culture where sharp elbows become the winning strategy for climbing. This is not the most efficient way for a company to develop.

“My number one thing would be that you’ve got to use the energy constructively. You really want to try and keep egoism in check because egoism does not produce good logical action. If you want to validate your ego, you’re going to falter”

SUBJECT > PERSON. Buffett and Munger never had an argument that escalated to anything more than an intellectual disagreement. The founders of Home Depot seem to work similarly: ”for however many years Arthur and I were together, it was never about ego. It was always about the business. Whenever we did anything, the question was, it is good for the business?”.

HAVING FUN. It’s much easier to put in 10,000 hours if you have fun together with someone than if you do it just for yourself. Bill Gates had some partnerships and said that the fun comes from working with someone else. The partnerships presented in this book have made all mentioned people happier than they would have been if they had achieved their success alone. They had someone to deal with ups and downs, trenches and celebration. Buffett has said: ”It’s crazy. I would have had a lot of fun over the years, but not nearly as fun without Charlie”.

”There was also this inescapable reality: partners have to like each other. That’s how ego disappers, and that’s what prevents others from getting between partnerships. That’s what creates that foxhole, with two people fighting the world together to achieve something special, fighting their competitors, fighting to protect each other, being friends, and keeping the institution together”

BUFFETT AND MUNGER. Buffett describes his job as gathering more and more facts and information, and to sometimes act on it. Munger’s children call him a book with two legs. Munger says that Buffett knows a lot, thinks very fast and speaks convincingly. If you take two such people who like and trust each other, they will learn a lot from each other. When Munger and Buffett are not talking on the phone to each other, they read. “That’s the part of the secret according to Munger. You could hardly find a partnership in which two people settle on reading more hours of the day than in ours”.

“Neither Warren nor I is smart enough to make the decisions with no time to think, we make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking”

SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT. To describe how good a partnership may seem odd, Eisner writes about Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, who worked together on filmmaking and who were seemingly very different from each other. At least in terms of the artifacts. But on closer inspection, they spoke in the same way – enthusiastically and quickly. While talking, they always moved on the chair, a kind of sign of their enthusiasm for life. They are both looking for the next interesting thought. This common quality was the breeding ground for good filmmaking.

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