Trillion-Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg & Alan Eagle: Summary & Notes


Rated: 8/10

Available at: Amazon

ISBN: 0062839268

Related: Principles, The Hard Thing About Hard Things


The most extraordinary part of this book is that an individual like Bill Campbell - who coached many of the top founders in the Valley simultaneously, including Steve Jobs and the Google cofounders - actually existed.

The management principles are solid, and woven nicely into the story of Bill’s life, which makes the book easy to read. 

Aligns well with Principles.


  • Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader.

  • The top priority of any manager is the well-being and success of her people.

  • Start meetings with trip reports, or other types of more personal, non-business topics.

  • Your writing, including emails, should be concise, clear and compassionate.

  • Have a structure for 1:1s, and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow.

  • The manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make the decision.

  • Define the “first principles” for the situation, and help guide the decision from those principles.

  • Aberrant geniuses - high-performing but difficult team members - should be tolerated and protected as long as their value outweighs the toll.

  • Compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties them strongly to the goals of the company.

  • The purpose of a company is to bring a product vision to life. All the other components are in service to product.

  • If you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well, and celebrate their accomplishments.

  • It’s the CEO’s job to manager boards, not the other way around.

  • The traits that make a person coachable include honest and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.

  • Listen to people with your full and undivided attention - don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next - and ask questions to get to the real issue.

  • Never embarrass someone publicly.

  • Be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with caring, give feedback as soon as possible, and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.

  • Don’t tell people what to do, tell them stories about why they are doing it, and help guide them to the best decisions for them.

  • Believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and push them to be more courageous.

  • People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.

  • When faced with a problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.

  • Pick the right players: the top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.

  • Pair people: peer relationships are critical, and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.

  • Make sure to get feedback from your peers - you should cover core attributes, product leader attributes, and open questions.

  • Winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams have more women.

  • Identify the biggest problem, bring it front and centre, and tackle it first.

  • Air all negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Move on as fast as possible.

  • Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.

  • Leaders lead. You need to commit. You can’t have one foot in and one foot out, because if you aren’t fully committed then the people around you won’t be, either.

  • When things are going bad, teams are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders.

  • Listen, observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.

  • Leader teams become a lot more joyful, and the teams more effective, when you know and care about the people.

  • To care about people you have to care about people: ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families, and when things get rough, show up.

  • Cheer demonstrably for people and their successes.

  • Build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when people are connected.

  • Be generous with your time, connections, and other resources.

  • Hold a special reverence for - and protect - the people with the most vision and passion for the company.

  • Loving colleagues in the workplace may be challenging, so practice it until it becomes more natural.

  • As you get past your fifties, be creative, don’t be a dilettante (commit to things), find people who have vitality and surround yourself with them, apply your gifts, and don’t waste time worrying about the future.

  • Bill’s measurement of success: how many great leaders he has helped create.