The Knife Fight

Edition #7

August 23rd, 2019

Here at, we're in the business of helping small to mid-sized business owners run, grow, and transition ownership of their business more effectively. With that goal in mind, enjoy this issue of The Knife Fight, a weekly newsletter for operators in the trenches.


30 years, 30 lessons in leadership (Dan Greene)
Dan Greene has kept a running list of leadership lessons learned through experience over his career. Leadership boils down to being a person worthy of following (high integrity, caring, proficient, inspiring). Pull, don't push, your team towards excellence. As much art as it is science, leadership can be learned, refined, and polished only through experience, but this list is certainly a head start. A few key lessons from the piece:

"Learn to lead with data, not just instinct. You need to be good at gathering the right sets of data and using it to make informed decisions. Leaders can’t just operate on instinct. Conversely, don’t be paralyzed by collecting and analyzing data. It’s important to make decisions and often to make them quickly. Gather as much information and data as possible, analyze it, and make the call based on the information you have. Remember that an imperfect plan executed with energy and conviction TODAY is better than a perfect plan executed too LATE.

You don’t always win by winning. Sometimes you win by losing. Learn to negotiate, influence and compromise. It’s not always about winning and losing anyway, most of the time, the best outcome is when everyone gets what they need.

Integrity is the fundamental building block of leadership. Without integrity, you simply cannot lead. Do the right thing. Always."


The Manufacturing thesis (Pranay Srinivasan)
+ This is a 30,000 foot overview of the current retail brand landscape and the B2B software needs of smaller rising DTC brands.

Sludge audits - eliminating time friction in business, government, and policy (Harvard Public Law)
+ It's worth noting how much sludge (bureaucratic paperwork and time frictions) are present in your business for employees, vendors, and customers and essential to devise policies that reduce it as much as possible for smoother transactions and relationships.

The rise of the virtual restaurant (New York Times $)
+ It's no surprise that on-demand apps are shaping entire industries. The next one: restaurants.

Manufacturers want to quit China for Vietnam but are finding it impossible (Wall Street Journal)
+ "The specialized supply chains that made China a production powerhouse for smartphones and aluminum ladders and vacuum cleaners and dining tables are nowhere near as developed in Vietnam."


The rise of hand-me-down inc. (Wall Street Journal $)
+ Retailers are taking note as thrift shopping and used-goods marketplaces are becoming mainstream.

Atlanta's black tech founders are changing entrepreneurship in America (Fast Company)
+ A deep look at the demographic trends and power players driving Atlanta's burgeoning entrepreneurship scene.

What is WeWork?! Understanding the WeWork IPO (Byrne Hobart)
+ An ode to Noah Sweat's Whiskey Speech, Byrne picks apart the good, bad, and ugly of WeWork's business.


Disney's new Star Wars attraction is an early flop - here's why that will change (Intelligencer)
+ This is the story behind the cat-and-mouse game between consumer demand and Disney's pricing strategy.

Ryan Caldbeck's tweet-storm illuminates tough conditions for startup consumer product companies (@ryan_caldbeck)
+ A long set of tweets highlighting the difficulties for smaller consumer product companies to get stocked on big-box retailers.


Three years of misery in Google, the happiest tech company (Wired)
+ It has been a hectic three year journey for Sundar Pichai navigating employee upheaval, political drama, and the culture wars.

Employees try new language to lure job seekers (Wall Street Journal $)
+ "Tex­tio found the most ef­fec­tive job ads had an even split be­tween lan­guage de­scrib­ing the com­pany and out­lin­ing a can­di­date’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions. The best posts now high­light the or­ga­ni­za­tion, sell­ing its strengths."


The launch: the backstory behind a massive new undertaking in the apple growing business (California Sunday)
+ This is an inside look into the apple orchard business and “the largest launch of a single produce item in American history.”

The gambler who cracked the horse racing code (
+ Bill Benter is the modern-day Ed Thorpe of horse betting.

The fight to protect the world's most trafficked wild commodity (National Geographic)
+ "Chinese demand for rosewood—trafficked more than ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales—is fueling a crisis in Guatemala's forests."

We'd love your help.

If you stumble across something great, send it to

If you know an owner, operator, or someone who works with SMB's, please give us the highest compliment and send them our way. You can find previous Knife Fight issues here.