Maverick by Ricardo Semler

Maverick by Ricardo Semler

Maverick by Ricardo Semler is the basis for AppSumo has been able to reach 8-figures in revenue.

KEY messages from this book:

  • Hire adults and leave them the f*ck alone.
  • No bosses. If you EVER tell someone what to do, it’s over. The BEST people want to make their own decisions. Get out of their way and let them do their jobs!
  • People set their own goals. They are in control of their own destiny and desire it more than being given a destination.

This is an old book that doesn’t have a Kindle or Audible version. I’m happy about that. If you read the popular business books you won’t have an edge. Look at the older or more obscure books for those advantages. This book is that!

I measure the success of a book ultimately in what I retain and continually use in my daily life. One metric of that is “book ears” and oh baby did I take notes on nearly every page.

Here’s the major themes and takeaways straight from the Maverick book:


Be your own boss

Employees set their own salaries and have unlimited access to their financial books.

Everyone at Semco, even top mangers, fetches guests, types letters and dials the phone. We have stripped away the unnecessary perks that feed the ego but hurt the balance sheet. AND No one cares if he doesn’t look busy the rest of the time.

I want everyone at Semco to be self-sufficient. My role is that of a catalyst. I try to create an environment in which others make decisions. Success means not making them myself. Ricardo takes at least two months off each year to travel!

We try to maximize the possibilities and minimize supervision for everyone at Semco. Every six months managers are evaluated by those who work under them. The results are posted for all to see.

How do these experiences compare in your own company or the company you want to create?

Continually improving

One of my first acts at Semco was to throw out the rules. Who needs them? They discourage flexibility and comfort the complacent.

There’s no department, no rules, no audits. Let people decide in which section of the plane to sit, or choose which hotel to stay at. We have ABSOLUTE trust in our employees.

We strip away the blind, irrational authoritarianism that diminishes productivity.

In different departments in the company, one doesn’t have to buy services from another, it’s free to go outside the company and buy from someone else. The threat of competition keeps us all on our toes.

Hiring adults

Semco has thrived by REFUSING to squander our greatest resource, our people.

Agendas for meetings got shorter as everyone began to make more decisions themselves. People only brought up issues they were genuinely unsure about. Leave decisions to those who would be living with the consequences.

Amen, this is So strong. People are driven when they want it themselves instead of being told where to go.

Let each associate (employee) set the GOALS themselves

If we can’t trust a manager to use good judgment about such things, we sure as hell shouldn’t be sending him off to do business in our name.

Job descriptions limit workers’ potential and do not include what they WANT to do. Encourage workers to figure out the best way to do their jobs.

Let the workers decide who they work with. No Semco manager has overridden shop-floors preference on hiring, too risky.

Freedom and Growth

Man is by nature restless, exchanging jobs with one another to learn new skills, makes life interesting and the teammates more valuable. Nor do we let the lack of formal education limit anyone’s potential.

More thinking time in general leads to better strategy and higher leverage. Also many “things” that need to get done may not be necessary and that time allocated to more important activities.

Hepatitis leave - if you were sick for 3 months and were forced to spend that time in bed thinking / learning. Encourage higher-level workers to go do this. People can stop and rethink their work lives and their objectives.

Leaders are not assigned but whoever managed to impose himself as the leader was the Chief. This was true historically and true today.

This inspired me to do this for our YouTube channel.

Semcotour program - one day where you train other people in your roles.

This is radical and think its very forward thinking in helping hire amazing people and keeping them in your orbit as they inevitably start

Encouraged employees to start their own business separate of Semco and then they purchased products from them. Made it more competitive, specialization and employee fulfillment from running their own businesses.

Key team exercise involved “visioning” the 10 year future of Semco. How many people? What would plant look like? Etc. Then with team they melded them into a single portait. Turns out the vision was vision of smaller, more fluid, more flexible company.

No more are we victims of the adolescent urge for more people, more plants, more products, more revenue.

Ricardo removed himself as CEO and put a committee in place. Better for long-term and each leader takes turn for 6-months to act as Chief Executive. It’s important to DISCREDIT the belief that the company will survive ONLY as long as he’s there.

Ricardo only spends 30% on Semco and it’s the gratifying 30 percent, I hardly ever do anything I don’t enjoy.


There are many ways of running companies. The changes Ricardo implemented at Semco are an amazing experiment in reducing overhead, truly empowering your workforce and creating a company where everyone gets what they want.

See other books I recommend here.

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One response to “Maverick by Ricardo Semler”

Ron
August 17, 2020 at 11:57 am

The Seven Day Weekend is one of my favorite books. What Ricardo has done is amazing and not easy to do when you try to implement it.

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