Lead Don’t Follow

 In Blog

If you get a chance, read the Expeditors 2008 annual report. It’s pure magic.

For more than 30 years this company has managed to stay true to its core principles, even in the face of significant private and public investor pressure (no small feat in a world which measures itself by the fiscal quarter).

Here are titles of the first 15 pages:

“If we follow the buy and sell side analysts, the consultants and competitors, the pundits and prognosticators, the trends and megatrends, there would be no Expeditors. Instead we lead”

“It doesn’t take an analyst to tell you cash will always be king”

“Our culture guided our growth. Guess what? It always will”

“We begin our 30th year with no debt, just like we began our first”

“New regulations to enforce the status quo won’t solve old problems”

“We respect our employees for a simple reason. They earn it every day”

“The needs of our customers come first. Decade after decade after decade”

Look, its not that any one of these statements is so prophetic by itself; it’s that they were made in the annual report of a company that is worth billions, is highly visible, and probably has tens of thousands of shareholders. This is not a small company that exists in some obscure sector of the U.S. economy.

This is a Fortune 500 company that on page one of its 10-k says “Unless you’ve been on another planet for the past year, the wisdom of Wall Street has given this world a clear, close-up look at the abyss”.

Their disdain for the whims of the investment community and their pure inward focus on long term value has created billions of dollars of shareholder equity, thousands of jobs, and a solution that the market still relies on today, some 3 decades after its products were introduced to the logistics marketplace.

We could all take a lesson…

-Eric Lefkofsky

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