Charles in Charge: Tips From The Top

Published by Paul West

Perception and reality. If you believe everything you read, you’re naïve. I recently had the incredible experience of a private lunch with Charles Koch. If I believed everything I had read online prior to the meeting, I would have been a fool. While I, like many of you, may not agree with everything he does, I will tell you he was incredibly engaging, thought provoking and downright welcoming.

Charles and two of his Presidents and CEOs, Dave Robertson and Steven Feilmeier, spent nearly two hours conversing with our group. We covered an array of topics that included business, family and of course, politics. Like all things, it’s what we do with information and dialogue that matters the most.

Below are the top takeaways I would like to share with you:


  • Hire based on values.
  • Don’t ask employees to spend more than 20% of time on tasks they hate.
  • Design the role around the person.


  • Don’t use budgets. People will overspend when they are below budget and businesses will kill an idea over budget when they should fund further.
  • Compare results to last year AND your return on capital.


  • Focus on key “needle moving” ideas.
  • Propose the next best alternative with your recommendation. This forces you to think through, “Is my idea really the best one?”

I could add many, many more ideas from the lunch. However, I know that we should only focus on the most important ones. Keep it straight and simple to implement. That’s a key trait for successful people!

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