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Stories about Vision

 John Lasseter’s Vision

Origin: From the book The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman. 

Lesson: value visionary and entrepreneurial talent within any organization.

Character: John Lasseter. He is the creative genius behind most of Pixar’s top hits, and he, alongside Ed Catmull, was responsible for the resurgence of Disney Animations.

Synopsis: Lasseter was fired from Disney in the late 70s for his “wild idea” to create a feature length film done solely on a computer. This tale can be used to inspire people to pursue their dreams. OR it can be used to teach a valuable lesson to corporations about creating a culture that cultivates entrepreneurial talent. (Also See: Amazon’s Black Box).


A Snorkel On Land

Origin: Great by Choice by Jim Collins.

Lesson: Identifying “sea-level” for your organization will bring consistent performance amidst a chaotic, unpredictable world.

Character: John Brown, ex-CEO of Stryker Corporation

Synopsis: This tale illustrates how a visionary leader develops standards for his company. Great leaders do not necessarily envision epochal changes. Often, they create a picture of what success looks like. Here, John Brown does so with a snorkel.


The Enchanted Kettle

 Origin: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lesson: The Magic of Imagination

Character: A Country Doctor living post Civil War

Synopsis: This tells the origins of Coca Cola. If you need to convince people that there is power in imagination, this is a powerful story. While somewhat mythical, engrained in the story is the idea of taking what you have and making what you want (i.e., being creative).


The Birth of Modern Architecture

 Origin: Mastery by Robert Greene

Lesson: Create your own ideal mentorship program.

Character: Frank Lloyd Wright

Synopsis: Wright had a vision for an entirely new style of architecture, but he also realized he was too young and inexperienced to execute it. To accomplish his vision, he created his own mentorship program by carefully selecting the firms that would fill his experience gaps.


The Benjamin Franklin School of Hard Knocks

Origin: Mastery by Robert Greene.

Lesson: Follow your instincts and vision no matter how difficult.

Character: Benjamin Franklin

Synopsis: This is a story about firmly deciding upon a career path and the obstacles that may stand in the way. Franklin’s father wanted him to be a candle maker, but he wanted to be a writer. Once Franklin had made his firm decision, he stuck to it no matter what his family would do.


The Profits of a Prophet 

Origin: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Lesson: Find a visionary and follow him.

Characters: Herb Kelleher and Rollin King

Synopsis: This is the story of Southwest Airline’s origin. It’s a semi-fictionalized presentation of what made Southwest unique. Though they literally copied Pacific Southwest Airline’s user manual, Southwest Airlines had something unique from the start.


Fate, a Line, and Choosing a Career

Origin: Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure by John A. Allison (ex-CEO of BB&T Bank) 

Lesson: Work hard and follow your instincts even if you are unsure as to the outcome.

Character: John Allison 

Synopsis: John Allison would one day become one of the most successful bank CEOs in America. But he had envisioned a completely different path for himself. His life was forever changed because of his college admissions line was too long.


PayPal’s War

Origin: The Alliance by Reid Hoffman 

Lesson: Use the new state of the art business weapon: Network Intelligence.

Character: PayPal and Reid Hoffman

Synopsis: When PayPal was in its infancy, the company had one dominant competitor: Billpoint. They both operated within the same ecosystem, EBay’s. Billpoint was the official payment service of EBay. And, they had a relationship with Wells Fargo. To survive, PayPal went to war. And they won by using a 21st century weapon: network intelligence.


Tony Hsieh Plays Poker


Origin: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of

Lesson: Envision, create, and believe in your own universe, and the universe will form around you. 

Character: Tony Hsieh

Synopsis: After selling LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 Million, Tony began wasting time playing poker in Vegas. He was lost with no purpose. Then prior to starting his journey with Zappos, he opened a club in his apartment complex and learned a valuable life lesson.


IGOR the Cyborg

Origin: Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

 Lesson: Power of a marriage between the old ways and the new. 

Character: IGOR (AKA “The Killer App”) 

Synopsis: The second billion dollar company Peter Thiel built, Palintir is a tech company founded on the simple principle of a computer-human hybrid. This story explains the birth of Palantir, which began in a little laboratory called PayPal. The program was created to detect fraud, and morphed into something much greater.


The Reber Curiosity

Origin: Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Lesson: The way to a better future takes more than optimism; it takes big plans AND optimism 

Character: John Reber

Synopsis: Reber was a schoolteacher who designed plans to reconstruct the entire geographical area of San Francisco. In his era, the 40s, his plan was taken very seriously. Today, we would laugh at such a man. This story explains why.