When looking at winners and those who have achieved much in their lives, former political spin doctor, Alastair Campbell can relate to the success of others. The media and political strategist for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair created the strategy that won Blair's Labor Party three successive elections. In this book, Winners: and how they Succeed, Campbell speaks with a range of successful people to learn about their key strategies for continued success. Similar to Tim Ferriss’ book Tools Of Titans.
In his book, Campbell identifies four main areas of importance to the majority of those he interviews. These are that almost every successful person with a winning mentality is capable of solving problems in their own life and taking these answered questions into their career. Problem-solving is something that can be seen in the careers of almost every person interviewed by Campbell from Virgin entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson to boxer, Floyd Mayweather. Another winner’s story, not mentioned in this book is Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba in the book Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma built.
The career of Sir Richard Branson is filled with ventures begun because the business leader found himself frustrated by gaps in the market he could not find answers to. A music lover, Branson started his own music magazine when he couldn't find information about the bands he loved. Branson would go on to start a record label when he felt the bands and singers he loved could not get signed to major companies. Finally, the launch of Virgin Airways came from the British-born entrepreneur being constantly disappointed by the service he received on flights around the world. If you have not read Outliers, it is another book all about what it takes to achieve success. If you enjoy Winners, you will love Outliers as well.
Campbell adopts an easy, conversational tone in his book that makes the reader feel they are part of the discussions between the author and his subjects. These subjects come from a varied range of walks of life with all stating their resilience is one of the defining characteristics of their careers. This is something Angela Duckworth famously wrote about in her award winning book GRIT.
Campbell relates much of his writing back to his own career working in media and politics. Whether discussing working for the British-Israeli media baron, Robert Maxwell, or for Tony Blair, Campbell explains how identifying the successful traits of opponents allowed them to overcome major career challenges. When Blair was losing ground to the conservative political leader, William Hague, Campbell created the line that Hague's joking attitude towards Blair meant he could not be taken seriously by the British nation.
The story of boxer Floyd Mayweather is one that stands out in Winners. When discussing how successful people overcame problems, many of the stories simply revolve around overcoming the loss of a job or a career setback. Sir Richard Branson discusses the failure of his Virgin Cola brand, but Mayweather details an abusive childhood that he believes gave him the drive to prove his doubters wrong. As shared in the tennis book Levels Of The Game by John McPhee, the way you behave and make decisions has a lot to do with the environment you grew up in.
Sporting success is combined with business skills that keep a multi-million dollar sports empire afloat with Mayweather pushing himself to become a strong leader who saw the lack of transparency in his early contracts as a sign of losing out on payments that prompted him to create his own business promoting his own fights. Nassim Nicholas wrote the book Antifragile about situations like this, and he would surely say that in this example Floyd Mayweather is Antifragile.
Alastair Campbell is clearly a fan of the latest ideas in business thinking, which leads to his use of a number of theories, including O.S.T. his acronym for objective, strategy, and tactics, which are all used to prepare and guide a business leader to success. This could easily be compared to Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) which he writes about in his book Traction.
Campbell states the objective of any person should be easy: to define a goal that includes an ambition for the future. The objective is completed, according to Campbell, by developing a long-term strategy that should be clearly understood by your employees. Finally, tactics are the approach taken day by day to achieve your objective.
By laying out the plan used by the majority of successful people to achieve success, Campbell gives the reader a powerful set of tools to take into their everyday life that can be used to achieve more than ever before. However, what comes to the fore is that every person interviewed hard work is the key ingredient to the success of every person interviewed. Whether it is the cycling coach, Sir David Brailsford, or Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, there is little to compare to the ability to work longer and harder than their competitors. Something that Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot, shares to be the foundation of his success in his book I Love Capitalism!: An American Story.
Perhaps the biggest warning about working as hard as possible comes from the soccer player and business leader, Gary Neville who explains the best player on his youth team at Manchester United was Raphael Burke. Neville explains Burke was the best player in a team that included soccer icons David Beckham and Paul Scholes, however, Burke did not possess the drive to work as hard as the others and failed to make it to the professional ranks of the game. For more from Manchester United’s legendary coach Sir Alex Ferguson read his book Leading.