Book summary: Trillion Dollar Coach

1 Paragraph summary

It’s the people

A manifesto

Bill had a manifesto titled ‘It’s the people’, it’s first paragraph contains a wonderfully simple principle:

The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job to grow and develop… Manager create this through support, respect, trust.

This sentiment, like many parts of this manifesto feel obvious. It’s backed up with clear and simple examples of how that works in practice.

The team meeting

Team meetings are as much about the content and setting the tone. Bill began every team meeting, held at 1pm on Mondays, by asking about everyone’s weekend and asking people to share ‘trip reports’. Literally bringing up maps and showing others where you had been over the weekend.

Effective 1:1's

Have a structure for 1:1’s, and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow.

Bill built a simple framework for how he ran his 1:1's:

  • Relationship with peer groups (are they building integrated and cohesive relationships with others)
  • Management/leadership of their people (how effective are they at guiding/leading their team, bringing in great people and weeding out bad ones)
  • Innovation (are you constantly evaluating new and better ways to do things)

Starting with the best people

Bringing together a great group is the first step to managing a great team. When recruiting Bill had four deceptively simple requirements:

  • The person has to work hard (the “doers”).
  • The person has to have integrity.
  • The person should have that hard-to-define characteristic: grit. The ability to get knocked down and have the passion and perseverance to get up and go at it again.

The managers role in making decisions

There is a wonderful metaphor used in the book: the throne behind the round table. A manager should be sitting at the table, as a peer facilitating a team to make good decisions, however, they do occasionally have to act as a tie breaker. This should be used sparingly.

Build an envelope of trust

Be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with [authentic] caring… If the feedback is negative, deliver it privately


Bill viewed the managers role, in part, to push their team to be more courageous. Acting as an “evangelist for courage”. Your team should come away from time with you believing they can do more than they believed possible beforehand.

Being 100% you

It’s buzzword-y but bear with me, bringing your authentic self to work is a key way to build trust. Bill was an ex-football coach, he swore, hugged everyone and told dirty jokes. He would get up in Apple board meetings, cheering and applauding. He didn’t try to conform his behaviour to how he should act.

Team first

Solving the biggest problem first

Bill’s advice was to always solve the hardest problem first. This is the type of problem which is likely to simmer and become increasingly difficult to address.

Don’t let the bitch session last

When there are problems venting negativity is important. It is all too easy, as a team sitting in the midst of a problem, to let that overwhelm you.



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