kick up some dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself
Bernie Marcus with Catherine Lewis
William Morrow/A HarperCollins stamp (October 2022)
How and why, when you do it yourself, “you can make a difference and maybe even change the world”
In this book written with the invaluable help of Catherine Lewis, Bernie Marcus really does (in his words) “raise a lot of dust” as he examines his life and career thus far. As I threaded my way through his lively narrative, I was reminded of three others: Benjamin Franklin’s AutobiographyAlfred Sloan Jr. My years with General Motorsand Andrew Grove swimming through. Three of these authors are among the greatest business leaders of modern times. Like Franklin, they faced and overcame all kinds of personal and professional challenges. They worked harder and smarter than their competition. In the meantime, they learned lessons that many others have found both timely and timeless.
Briefly, Bernie Marcus (born 1929) is an American businessman. He and Arthur Blank co-founded Home Depot (in 1979). Marcus was the company’s first CEO and President until he retired in 2002. What interests me most is what he and Blank learned, especially from their previous association with Handy Dan Improvement Centers. These lessons, what not to do and what to do, contributed to the extraordinary success of Home Depot. I was also grateful to hear about Marcus’s involvement with the Israeli Democracy Institute, the Job Creators Network, the Georgia Aquarium, the Salvation Army, Autism Speaks, The Giving Pledge, the Shepherd Center and its SHARE Military Initiative, the Center Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience. , and countless other philanthropic initiatives that need the participation and generosity of Marcus’s initiative.
In a work setting and across an industry, as well as across a community and even a society, Marcus has always seen himself as a purpose-driven leader, one who exemplifies what Robert Greenleaf once characterized. an essay that first appeared in 1970: “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice leads one to aspire to lead. That person is markedly different from leader first, perhaps due to the need to mitigate an unusual power surge or to acquire material possessions… Leader first and servant first are two extreme types. part of the infinite variety of human nature.
Marcus doesn’t make such a claim for himself…and he doesn’t have to. The authenticity of his values and the results of his efforts speak for themselves.
There are times when I think that the world is divided into two groups of people: those who divide the world into two groups and those who don’t. Here’s a variation of that view: The world is divided into two groups: problem seekers and problem solvers. Marcus divides his time and energy between them. He is results-oriented, but he carefully selects where to spend his time, energy, and other resources. Throughout history, all great leaders have led by example. (I can’t think of one who hasn’t. Can you?) Almost everything I know about Bernie Marcus is what I learned while reading this book. Based on that, I would appreciate the opportunity to work with him and for him. She would enjoy the pleasure of his company. I’d be grateful to meet you and have a little chat. None of that will happen, of course.
But that pretty much sums up what I think of him and this book.