Small Businesses with Giant Vision, with Bo Burlingham

Dec 18, 2019


Bo Burlingham is the author of the renowned book Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big. Bo has been writing about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship for almost 37 years, primarily for Inc. Magazine, where he served as Executive Editor and then Editor-At-Large. He is currently a contributing writer for Forbes, and the author of five books, the most recent being Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies On Top.

Bo has written three other books with co-authors, including two with Jack Stack, CEO of SRC Holdings Corporation and the pioneer of Open Book Management, called The Great Game of Business and A Stake In the Outcome. His book Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs was co-authored with serial entrepreneur and fellow Inc. columnist Norm Brodsky. Before joining Inc. Magazine, Bo freelanced for various publications including Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, Boston Magazine, and Mother Jones.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How Bo initially became interested in researching and writing about the journeys of entrepreneurs after realizing that freelance writing wouldn’t support his family
  • How working at Inc. Magazine was a transformative experience that redefined Bo’s career as a writer
  • Bo shares the story of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and how they built a powerful business community in the area, sparking the idea for his first book
  • How Bo’s research showed him the importance of clear vision, community connection, personal relationships with customers, putting employees first, and strong margins
  • Why Small Giants can still fail in spite of doing things right, if they don’t also focus on profitability and protecting their gross margins
  • How Bo’s Small Giants community works together to learn from each other and support each other’s success
  • What common traits, vision and values exist in businesses who have become a part of the Small Giants community
  • Why businesses like those in the Small Giants community are innovating new operational strategies and cultures, leading the way over the public sector and government
  • Why the optimism and the desire to improve the world shared by much of the millennial generation is a powerful driver for communities like Small Giants and others like it
  • Why Bo feels his life’s purpose is to amplify the message of business leaders who are rethinking the way business works and recognizing their ability to improve our society


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