I recently read the book “That Will Never Work” by Marc Randolph, co-founder and first president of Netflix. And I have to tell you that I loved it. It is a beautiful story, written in the first person that tells the beginnings of Netflix, of how they managed to overcome the enormous difficulties of creating a DVD rental business to the entertainment giant that it is today. It is without a doubt one of the books that I have liked the most in my life. It greatly reminds me of another literary masterpiece “Shoe Dog“, the story of Nike’s early days written by its founder Phil Knight. Both focus on the extraordinarily tough beginnings of most entrepreneurial projects. Both books are written in the first person and both end with the project’s IPO, with the founders going from having financial difficulties to being millionaires after the IPO. And both end with a wonderful epilogue that condenses all the learning done by these great leaders and personal brands.
In the book, Randolph shares the rules for success that his father wrote to him when Marc was 21 years old and just out of college to start his first job. THESE 8 RULES ARE:
- Do, at least, 10% more than what they ask of you.
- Never, ever to anybody present as fact opinions on things you don’t know to anyone as facts. Takes great care and discipline.
- Be courteous and considerate always – up and down.
- Don’t knock, don’t complain: stick to constructive, serious criticism.
- Don’t be afraid to make decisions when you have facts on which to make them
- Quantify where possible.
- Be open minded but skeptical
- Be prompt.
There are 8 rules that Marc Randolph has always had in mind both in his professional and personal life. In addition, Randolph complements them with some reflections related to his vision of success. I find them very interesting reflections.
- As you get older, you learn two important things: what you like and what you are good at if you analyze yourself. Whoever manages to spend the day doing those two things is lucky.
- Sometimes, you have to withdraw from your dreams, especially when you think you have made them come true.
- To be successful is to have a dream and, with your time, talent and persistence, to see that dream come true.
- The most powerful step someone can take to start making their dreams come true is simple: you have to start. The only way to know if your idea is good is to test it.
At the end it tells an important business success story. How David (Netflix) beat Goliath (Blockbuster). Netflix contacted Blockbuster and asked for $ 50M to be absorbed by Blockbuster. They rejected the idea. And today Netflix has more than 200 million users worldwide and has an estimated value of more than 200,000M $, while Blockbuster… But above all, it tells the story of personal success. The story of Marc Randolph fulfilling his goals, making his dreams come true fueled by the love of his family. As he says, “no money or stocks, success is having the love of his family.”
And I close with one of the favorite quotes that Randolph has always had in mind. It’s from Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari: “Everyone who has ever taken a shower has an idea, but it’s the people who get out of the shower, take off their towels and do something about it that make the difference.”