Book Review: The Calloway Way

Author Charlie FeldThe quick takeaway–if you manage any group of people, buy “The Calloway Way“, by Charlie Feld.

When I went to business school in the 80s, startups weren’t cool and focus was on big business management. And one of the greatest managers from the mid-70s to early 90s was Wayne Calloway of Pepsico. While Calloway lived before the age of the smart phone, his style of leadership would work equally as well in today’s digital world, and it applies especially well at EVERY level of business.

That’s why one of the best new books you can read about managing startups isn’t about startups at all. The Calloway Way is a personal account of Wayne Calloway by one chief lieutenants, Charlie Feld, who Forbes Magazine called “The Greatest CIO for Hire in History”. Charlie worked with Calloway for 22 years, with the last half as CIO of Frito-Lay. After Calloway’s death in 1992, Feld went on to start his own CIO for hire/turnaround-consulting company (eventually sold to EDS). Charlie’s exposure at his new company to many Fortune 50 companies revealed to him just how wide a gap there was in management behavior between Pepsico’s “Calloway Way” and standard—or better said “most common” and sub-standard—practice.

Charlie and his nephew Brad Feld (noted VC and serial entrepreneur) discussed the teachings of the book yesterday with the current class of TechStars Boston companies. Following are film clips from their talk.

Calloway’s Three Management Commandments

Do those three elements sound familiar? If you’re a student of early stage investing, you may have read Fred Wilson’s well-regarded piece on the three responsibilities of CEOs: 1) Communicate the vision clearly; 2) Hire and retain the best people; and 3) Don’t run out of money.   Compare that to Calloway’s version at Pepsico: 1)Set the agenda; 2) Attract the right people; and 3) Deliver consistently.   From my viewpoint as an investor, I can vouch that startups that deliver consistently upon the correct objectives will not lack for funding.

Accountability and Feedback


If the art of management is, above all else, learning how to get the best out of people, then helping your charges to improve is integral to that. While people correctly lionize Jack Welch of General Electric as a legendary CEO who created cadres of highly competent managers, in fact it was Calloway (who coincidentally sat on Jack Welch’s Board of Directors at GE) who trained more future CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies. And while startups rarely practice good feedback—it all seems to hectic at the time—make no mistake, the old school way did not go out of fashion in the digital age. Here’s Charlie again, telling the extraordinary tale of the emphasis Calloway put on personnel reviews.

Results with Integrity

The Art of Listening

It is apparent to me that my personal greatest weakness as a manager was learning how to properly listen. The book dives deeper into how to listen the Calloway Way, but here Brad Feld recounts a story from the book which deals with the art of keeping your mouth shut.

I wholeheartedly recommend any who is or apires to be a manager, be the institution large or small, for-profit or not, read the 135 pages of The Calloway Way. More wisdom from Charlie Feld on integrating IT into the fabric of the company is available on podcasts, and his first book, The Blind Spot, is here. Congratulations Charlie, The Calloway Way is pure Feld geld.


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