People don't really know what makes them successful. Take Warren Buffet, for instance.

Take Warren Buffet. Here's a guy who must get asked five times a day how he became the most successful investor of his era. His answers—"Reinvest your profits," "Limit what you borrow," etc.—are no different from what any fool could tell you. Buffet isn't being cagey. He doesn't know. Success is a wonderful thing, but it tends not to be the sort of experience that we learn from. We enjoy it; perhaps we even deserve it. But we don't acquire wisdom from it.

Ideal team size is six.

Small groups perform best when they operate collaboratively, and not merely as drones subordinated to a leader. The team leader’s job is to establish the conditions that enable team members to collaborate competently; the leader needs to spell out exactly where teams should end up, but not dictate the step-by-step process of getting there. Leaders who act boldly and intelligently can make significant differences in teams’ effectiveness—but no matter how the leaders act, teams become less effective as they grow in size. Ideal team size, Hackman says, is about six people; performance problems increase exponentially as team size increases beyond that, and the impact of leadership becomes quickly diffused.

Profit and revenue per employee in tech

Revenue and profit per employee in 2008 (in USD)

Company Employees Revenue per employee Profit per employee Google 20,164 1,080,914 209,624 Microsoft 91,000 663,956 194,297 Baidu 6,397 499,961 163,844 Apple 32,000 1,014,969 151,063 Cisco 66,129 597,922 121,762 Adobe 7,335 488,056 118,856 eBay 16,200 527,238 109,844 Intel 82,500 455,588 64,145 Oracle 86,657 258,837 63,711 Dell 76,500 798,706 32,392 Amazon 20,600 930,388 31,311 Yahoo 13,600 530,037 31,199 IBM 398,455 260,080 30,957 HP 321,000 368,735 25,947 Sun 33,556 413,637 12,010

Further reading: You might want to check out our two previous posts in this little series, the first being about how much money these companies are making, and the second one being about how big they are.

Fascinating -- both to see the relative margins of each company and profit per employee as a measure of efficiency.


I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?
--Tom Smykowski, soon-to-be-laid-off product manager from Office Space


“I can’t tell you,” he says, “how many people come into my office and ask, ‘How come I have this money and I can’t find happiness?’ ”

So what does he tell them? “That happiness equals reality divided by expectations.”