5 Key Lessons From Michael Dell’s “Play Nice But Win”​

This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman

I’ll be speaking with Michael Dell at a Village Global event later this week. The event is private, but since I was impressed by Michael’s latest book, Play Nice But Win, I want to share some of my thoughts about it with a wider audience. So here are five key takeaways that resonated with me from Michael’s highly entertaining and instructive book, in which he recounts the growth of Dell Technologies from its start in his college dorm room in Texas into the world’s largest IT infrastructure company.

1. ABS

You’re probably familiar with the acronym ABC — Always Be Closing. But how about ABS — Always Be Scaling? When Michael was a high school student, he took a job selling newspaper subscriptions to the Houston Post through telephone cold-calling. When he realized that newlyweds tended to subscribe at higher rates than others, he figured out how to simultaneously focus and scale his sales efforts. Via information available at local courthouses, he created lists of everyone in a given county who’d recently applied for a marriage license. Then, he sent out direct-mail letters to these prospects. This helped him reach more people than he could through cold-calling, and also convert at higher rates.


When Michael started the company that would one day become Dell Technologies, he sold desktop PCs that he customized to his customers’ exact specifications. In part, he pursued this highly hands-on approach because as an 18-year-old founder funding (Read more...)