Industry leaders share their favorite titles.

This Month:
David Harrison
Chief Marketing Officer
GAF Materials

Book: How To Drive Your Competition Crazy by Guy Kawasaki (credited with spearheading the Apple Macintosh system).

Key insights from the book:

Step 1: Know thyself.
  • How do you want your business to look different in 5 years?
  • Define your product - how is it different than most competitors?
  • How can you present your product in a way that is different than expected?
Step 2: Know the customer.
  • Form an advisory council of previous buyers; ask for advice.
  • Define commitment by putting it in writing for all employees and customers to know and understand.
Step 3: Know the enemy.
  • How do they go to market?
Step 4: Systematize your winning process.
  • What are the checklists and continuous improvement processes to ensure things get done right?
Step 5: Ignore conventional wisdom.
  • Don’t managers effectively and efficiently do what’s been done before - while leaders develop new paths that benefit their customers, their team and the industry?

How did the book inspire you?
  • Reject commodity concept … There is always a way I can help differentiate value.
  • Get out with the customers … I don’t always like what I hear - but always learn.
  • Continuously improve processes … There is always a better way - I just need to find it.
  • Invest in capability … Education benefits are internal and throughout the value chain.
  • Survey ongoing pulse … Check perceptions to prevent tunnel vision and avoiding reality.
  • Stay on vision … Tactics and strategies adapt - visions stay constant- always reinforce it.

How did this book make a difference at your company?

GAF has achieved industry leadership. With leadership comes responsibility. It is easy to become complacent; the reality is that we need to “keep running scared” so that we improve. The vision of GAF needs to stay focused - and reinforced: a commitment to helping property owners achieve their best and safest choice, and supporting contractors and distributors by helping them build their business and avoid hassles.