Rasmus Ankersen

Strategies to Stay at the Top


Lesson 1: Hunger in Paradise


In this GrowthTrack, Rasmus Ankersen will help you evaluate your organizational strategies to ensure continued growth and success.

Materials Needed






The first step on your learning journey is to reflect on Rasmus Ankersen’s session and the learning you experienced at The Global Leadership Summit. People who attend the Summit often describe it as drinking from a fire hose. So, as we focus on the topic of Strategies to Stay on Top, let’s review the session.

Rasmus Ankersen – Hunger in Paradise

Story of Nokia 3310

The Nokia 3310 was once recognized as the greatest phone ever produced. It never ran out of battery and it was indestructible. Nokia is a success story—but it is also the story of a company that lost its mojo—going from 50% global market share to 3% in less than five years.

As leaders, we need to consider how to keep our organizations relevant and fresh.

How do we reinvent our organizations—not from a position of weakness but from a position of strength?

When an organization becomes successful, it doesn’t fight competitors. It fights itself.


Story of New Castle United Football (Soccer) Club

New Castle United has a billion dollar owner and a great fan base. But for the past 50 years, they have had a losing record. Then in 2012, they finished 5th in the English Premier League. Everyone expected great things in the next season. But the following season was a disaster.

The brightest guys in football don’t work in the football clubs. They work in the gambling industry. They use sophisticated mathematical models to place their bets.

The mindset of an analytical gambler can teach successful organizations how to stay relevant.


1) Never trust success blindly. Instead, treat success with the same skepticism as failure.

The lead table always lies. Instead of wins/losses, you must look at the underlying performance indicators with more predictive value.

  • In New Castle’s 2012 season, when compared to other top teams, their goal differential was high but their shot differential was low. This indicates an unsustainable high conversion rate.

Outcome Bias We assume that good results always come from superior performance.

Success turns luck into genius.

When an organization fails, we ask tough questions of the leaders. But when we are successful, we rarely dig into why we were successful. We should treat success with the same skepticism as failure.

Story of Lego not taking success for granted

They produced a police station that was missing one brick, and although only 2% of customers complained, they replaced all 30,000 sets.


2) Never lose your sense of urgency. Make sure your organization doesn’t fall into a comfortable mindset.

Gold Mines of Talent:

  • One small village in Ethiopia has produced ten Olympic gold medals and 32 World Championships in distance running
  • The best sprinters come from the same athletic club on the outskirts of Kingston
  • 35% of the world’s best female golfers are from South Korea
  • A small mountain town in Sweden produces some of the best alpine skiers

When organizations become successful, sometimes comfort is more important than improvement.

The best sprint club in the world has poor facilities and a coach whose background is in statistics, not running. Their coach said, “The best performance centers should not be designed for comfort. They should be designed for hard work.”


3) Enlarge your vision. Successful organizations make the world bigger and their share smaller.

Story of Lego enlarging their vision

After a successful year, the CEO asked an insightful question. Are we competing against the toy industry? Or are we competing against anything else on which a child would want to spend their money?


Story of Coca-Cola

After winning the battle against Pepsi, they enlarged their vision to compete in all drink categories.



1. Take the “Strategies to Stay at the Top” Assessment:

Take the assessment below to gain a baseline of your people management skills at the start of this journey.

  • Note the questions where you rated yourself highly. These are potential strengths to lean into.
  • Note the questions where you rated yourself lower. These are potential areas to improve.
  • As you go through the GrowthTrack sessions, keep in mind the ways you can either leverage your strengths or identify ways to improve.

2. Calendar it! Block time in your calendar to go though this course: 10 minutes per lesson over the next 4 lessons.




Use the scale below to rate yourself.

1 – Never True of Me
2 – Rarely True of Me
3 – Sometimes True of Me
4 – Mostly True of Me
5 – Always True of Me

Assessment Questions:

1. When things are going well on my team, I am driven to be even more successful.

2. On our team, we set stretch-goals at levels that cause us to think bigger to be able to reach them.

3. On our team, we define our competitors more broadly than organizations in our same category.

4. The culture of our team treats success with the same skepticism as failure.

5. I am able to look at my team from the outside in to see potential areas of strength and weakness.

6. I have a good idea of the different ways that our competitors could overtake us.

7. I have a firm grasp on which of our metrics are measuring leading vs. lagging performance indicators.

8. We measure a sufficient number of leading performance indicators to predict future success or challenges.

9. I am aware of our team’s biggest weakness.

10. I have a plan in place to address our team’s biggest weakness.



Now that you have reviewed the session, let’s dig a little deeper into it.

1. Think back on the talk. Look back on the session notes above and in your notebook. What were your top insights? In your journal, write down three phrases, concepts or insights that impacted you the most.


2. Take a few minutes to think about your current strategy in the area of the organization for which you are responsible. (If you are responsible for more than one area, focus on one for the purpose of this GrowthTrack.) Write your thoughts in your journal. Use the following questions to guide you.

  • What’s going well in this area right now?
  • What challenges are you facing in this area right now?
  • What work have you done to identify the reasons why you are you are experiencing success?
  • What work have you done to identify the reasons why you are facing challenges?
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