Beware When Studying Greatness

Sean IddingsIntelligent Fanatic7 Comments

Studying intelligent fanatics, or greatness in any field should have a large disclaimer. Brent Beshore’s recent tweet should be it: Success, of any magnitude, is an excellent liar – life's fun house mirror. It rewrites history, glosses over shortcomings, magnifies talents, gives the illusion of control, strips empathy, and creates false friends/enemies. The bigger the success, the greater the distortion. … Read More

Nurturing the Intelligent Fanatic in our Children

Ian CasselIntelligent Fanatic20 Comments

Meijer, a chain of grocery stores and supercenters, is one of the largest private companies in the United States. Dutch immigrant Hendrik Meijer founded the company in 1934. Hendrik and his son Fred Meijer would open two-dozen stores over the next thirty years before opening the first modern day supercenter in 1962. Fred Meijer is best known for pioneering the … Read More

Mary Hull – One of the First Female Intelligent Fanatics

Sean IddingsIntelligent Fanatic2 Comments

In the early 20th century, women stayed in the home or worked in acceptable female jobs that didn’t provide much room for advancement in title or pay. There certainly weren’t many female entrepreneurs from this time period, let alone female intelligent fanatics that created a market leading company. A few of our members tasked us with finding and retelling the … Read More

Stop Bashing the Halo Effect, It’s Actually Good For You

Sean IddingsIntelligent Fanatic, LeadershipLeave a Comment

A common question we’ve received is a variation of this: “The hardest part [of business] is separating the true skills of ‘Great Leaders’ from corporate performance, i.e. the numbers themselves. Great numbers tend to create ‘Great Leader’ cover stories, often based on time periods that are too short. What are your thoughts about this?” I think at the heart of … Read More

The Power of Compounding Small Daily Decisions

Sean IddingsBusiness Blunder, Intelligent Fanatic4 Comments

“Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba” [Little by little, the pot gets filled] – Swahili proverb The beauty of learning directly from intelligent fanatics, through their stories, is that the intelligent fanatic often provides the source of inspiration for their great ideas. Ian and I have found that these ideas often come from great leaders that came before them. Intelligent fanatics take these ideas, put their … Read More

The Genius of Jeff Bezos

Sean IddingsIntelligent FanaticLeave a Comment

Intelligent fanatics hit targets that no one else sees. Jeff Bezos was able to see differently than nearly everybody else in the early 2000’s, and continues today, largely in part to his fanatical preparation. In Jeff Bezos’ biography The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, childhood friend Joshua Weinstein recalled, “He was excruciatingly focused. Not like mad-scientist focused, but … Read More

International Harvester Company – The Rise and Fall of a Monopoly

Ian CasselIntelligent Fanatic2 Comments

In 1902, the five largest farm machinery companies merged, including: The McCormick, Deering and Milwaukee Harvester Cos, Piano Mfg. Co, Warder, and Bushnell & Glessner to form the International Harvester Company (IHC). JP Morgan oversaw the merger. IHC had a virtual monopoly, controlling 85% of the US farm machinery industry and was the largest manufacturer in the world. Let’s go back in time … Read More

The Full See’s Candies Story: People & Product

Sean IddingsIntelligent Fanatic1 Comment

Buying See’s Candies was not only a good investment for us, it was a positive learning experience. We discovered that we had purchased a company that held itself to a high standard of business ethics – product quality, service integrity, and the right sort of relationships with employees and supplier. See’s Candies became our model for investment in other quality … Read More

Lillian Vernon: Unpacking the Lessons From a Mail-Order Queen

Sean IddingsBusiness Blunder, Intelligent FanaticLeave a Comment

Sometimes its better to get out of an industry. In Brilliant Pivot & Patience I wrote about Edwin Wegman’s pivot from novelty mail order business to a bio-pharmaceutical success. On the flip side, Lillian Vernon built a mail order business from scratch and doubled down on her niche, monogrammed goods, and expanded into other hard to get trinkets. She’d focus on … Read More