Book Review of “The Outsiders”-William N. Thorndike, Jr.

The Outsiders Book Cover

The author, William Thorndike, Jr. is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Thorndike has drawn on his years of experience and research to narrate us a story of “eight unconventional CEOs and their radically rational blueprint for success.”

This book is #1 on Warren Buffett’s recommended reading list and that is for a good reason. This book is immensely helpful and insightful for anyone who sees themselves as a future CEO. It may not be a handbook or a step by step guide (please don’t read the book if that is what you are expecting), but it speaks on the mentality a CEO requires.

Thorndike has made an excellent selection of CEOs that we should learn from. It includes names such as Katharine Graham, Bill Stiritz, Dick Smith, Warren Buffett, and others. The book contains multiple business and finance terminologies, and this may require one to refer to an internet search if they are not well versed. Some of these terms include bear market, S&P, “go-go” stock market, capital allocation, and many others. It would be a useful idea to get yourself acquainted with these concepts as you begin your reading journey.

The book focuses on and reiterates some of the strategy movements, which are common among these 8 CEOs. The moves are a pattern that you may discern in several of the stories. Most of these CEOs did not pay dividends, had no or minimal interaction with Wall Street analysts, repurchased their stocks, maximized their cash flow, and excelled at capital allocation. They stuck to businesses they knew well and moved away from maximizing earnings per share (EPS).

As Thorndike ends his narration of a CEO’s journey, he has added a section- “nuts and bolts.” The section briefly describes the techniques the CEOs used, some anecdotes from researchers and analysts who studied them, failures or bad deals that the CEOs made, and a brief introduction to their successor.

The last chapter of the book relates their journeys to the current competitive market and cites Pre-paid Legal and Exxon Mobil as examples. The most significant lesson that the author wants to share is that a CEO needs to think like an investor. They need to be master delegators while they stringently guard and personally make any capital allocation decisions.

The book is a light read and has several lessons that may strike a chord with a business student or an executive. As one embarks on their business or career journey, these stories are like titbits of motivation or inspiration. I would recommend this book. It is a good one. link for you all to buy the book:

Published by ReviewThickAndThin

Born as a book lover, my blog is completely dedicated to writing book reviews. I commonly review fiction books including thrillers, historical fiction and fantasy. However you may find me reviewing non-fiction as well. I strongly believe- "Never judge a book by it's cover." To follow me on Instagram: @review_thick_and_thin

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