The Leadership Playbook Of Bill Campbell


Trillion Dollar Coach is about Bill Campbell, someone you likely never heard of, who coached several of the biggest names in Silicon Valley during a 16-year tenure, and who’s behind-the-scene wisdom helped created over a trillion dollars in market value.

Authored by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle, they share that from Steve Jobs and Dick Costolo to Larry Page and Sundar Pichai, these big names in Silicon Valley give credit to Campbell for much of their success.

Campbell, who died in 2016, started his career as a football coach at Boston College and Columbia then switched to business in 1979. As leaders at Google for more than a decade, Schmidt, Rosenberg, and Eagle had the benefit of experiencing Campbell’s executive coaching firsthand.

In addition, for the book, the authors interviewed over 80 people with whom Campbell also worked. Through stories from those interviews, Trillion Dollar Coach features specific strategies and action steps to help leaders implement Campbell’s principles and winning approach.

For example:
  • Value people and make people feel valued – Get to know your employees as people – with lives beyond work.
  • Give people the room to debate – Strive for the best idea – starting with ensuring all ideas get heard. Sit back and let employees talk through options.
  • Build an envelope of trust – Establish trust by asking questions, listening to the answers, and giving candid feedback. Set the bar high and push employees to exceed their self-expectations. Free employees to do their jobs and to make decisions. Know employees want to do well and believe that they will.
  • Reinforce a “team-first” mindset – Seek opportunities to pair employees up on project or decisions. Peer relationships are critical, at all levels.
  • Tap into the power of love – Care about your employees fiercely and genuinely. Invest in creating real, emotional bonds between people. 
A few of my favorite takeaways from the book include:

Your title makes you a manager. Your people make you a leader.

People are the foundation of any company’s success. The primary job of each leader is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. Give people the tools, information, training, and coaching they need to succeed.

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

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. 

Schmidt served as Google CEO and chairman from 2001 until 2011, google executive chairman from 2011 to 2015, and Alphabet executive chairman from 2015 to 2018.

Rosenberg is a senior vice president at Alphabet and an advisor to the company’s management team. He ran the Google product team from 2002 to 2011.

Eagle has been a director at Google since 2007. He currently runs a set of Google’s sales programs.

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

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