Trillion Dollar Coach Book Summary: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley

by Accessory To Success December 23, 2020

Trillion Dollar Coach Book Summary: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley

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Main Takeaway

The Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, is based on Bill Campbell's principles for creating better performing organizations. According to Campbell, one essential characteristic of an effective leader is to care about people. His teachings show that building a robust and safe environment is crucial for engaging employees, strengthening teams, and scaling organizations. Simply put, successful companies are built on People, Teams, Trust, and Love.

What You Will Learn

  • Do not refrain from giving blunt feedback. Even if what needs to be said seems harsh, do not be afraid to speak honestly. Ensure the person receiving the feedback understands that you mean it in the best way possible and that it is necessary to improve their performance. If trust is present, you can safely deliver negative feedback and should do so aggressively.
  • Do not focus on individual achievements or allow an individual's ego to prevent them from doing what is right for the entire team. Consider pairing people up to build relationships and bring experts together to foster collaboration and innovation.
  • Do not overlook team dynamics, as teams are the foundation of the organization.
  • Create a safe atmosphere for your people. Psychological safety builds trust, and everyone should feel comfortable and supported.
  • Treat people with respect and make sure your environment allows everyone to be themselves.
  • Lead one-on-one sessions and weekly meetings. These meetings help your people be competent, efficient, and growth-focused. One-on-ones are a great way to give and receive feedback and offer support. Weekly meetings are a great time to review and modify operations and can ensure that your team members are all on the same page.

The Book Summary

Bill Campbell is known as the best business coach of all-time, mentoring well-knowns like Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, and Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos. He spent many years as a football player and coach before moving to California and joining the Apple team as the VP of sales and marketing.

Campbell later became the CEO of Claris, GO Corporation, and Intuit. The companies he coached on their rise to the top have now surpassed a value of more than 2 trillion dollars combined. Hence the name of the book: Trillion Dollar Coach.

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Anyone who knew Bill said that he brought out the best in others. Trillion Dollar Coach reflects the accounts of more than eighty individuals whom Campbell influenced. The authors paint a picture of a man who often swore, delivered candid comments frequently, and possessed a generous spirit. Someone who always put people first. This book outlines Bill's wisdom and recommendations in four key areas. If you enjoy the lessons of many mentors in a single book you would enjoy Tools Of Titans.

People, Team, Trust, and Love

People: Campbell believed that people are the foundation of a company's success. The job of a manager is to grow and develop each person to be more effective at their work. You need your team to be full of talented people that want to do and are capable of doing great things. People that are engaged in and excited about their work. “Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy." A good book about finding and hiring the right people is WHO or for sales people The Challenger Sale.

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According to Campbell, the success of your people is a manager's top priority. It is imperative that a leader listens and pays attention to their employees. Leadership is about the company and your team, not you. Focus on your team's well-being and do whatever it takes to ensure that your people know they are valued and feel seen and heard in your presence. This message is driven home in the ex-Navy SEAL Jocko Willink’s book Extreme Ownership.

Team: Selecting the right team members is everything. Campbell looked for two characteristics: ‘smarts and hearts.’ He wanted people that were hard working with high integrity and empathy.These are often fast learners with a team players attitude.

Choosing the right talent and pairing the right individuals together is critical for growth and innovation. People focused on their community are more productive and engaged with their projects. Successful teams always do what is right for the team and company, despite their differences. Campbell thought that letting people go was a failure of management, and wanted everyone who had to leave to do so feeling respected.

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Trust: People are at their best and most effective when they can be who they really are. When people bring their true selves to work they do their best most committed work. This soles the major engagement issue with staff that is discussed in great detail in the book The Workplace Engagement Solution by David Harder.

An organization can benefit from its people feeling comfortable and accepted. Your team members are more likely to give their honest opinions if they think they are in a safe and trusting environment. Building a supportive community allows everyone to provide candid feedback without hesitation. Set high standards and expectations for your team and offer your support to foster their success. Creating an accepting culture in order to be more inclusive and prospect is discussed in detail in the books Creating Magic and Bait & Switch.

Love: If you have been blessed in your life, then be a blessing to others.

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Campbell taught that it was essential to care about people. Caring about your team also means caring about who and what is important to them. Get to know the people around them, and if an emergency ever occurs, be there to support them. Support their causes and interests.


Be generous and look for effective and affordable ways to help sustain generosity. Be the person to bring positive energy into a room; never take the energy away. Much more on this can be found in the book Team of Teams.

Two other books about growing successful teams and businesses by great leaders are I Love Capitalism! by the founder of Home Depot and Alibaba: The House The Jack Ma Built which shares the incredible story of how Jack Ma created Alibaba.

About The Author

As CEO and chair of Google from 2001 to 2011, Eric Schmidt was instrumental in scaling Google into today's tech giant. He is currently chair of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board for the US Department of Defense. Eric created The Schmidt Family Foundation to target climate change and is also the founder of Schmidt Futures, which uses emerging science and technology to improve societal outcomes.

Jonathan Rosenberg: A senior vice president at Google, Rosenberg ran the Google product team until April 2011. He helped develop the company's hiring processes and influenced its communications and marketing practices. Currently, he is an advisor for Alphabet management and a senior advisor at Schmidt Futures.

Alan Eagle: Eagle has worked for Google since 2007 and is currently the Director of Executive Communications. He has worked at several Silicon Valley start-ups, including Tellme Networks and Octel Communications. Alan also works for Schmidt Futures as a network advisor.

The authors also wrote How Google Works, a book on corporate culture, strategy, decision-making, communication, and innovation.
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