As you build your business and brand, consider this: in any pursuit, there are fast and slow ways of doing the same thing. There are ways of achieving targets that require immense, sustained effort, and ways that are get the job done almost instantly.

Say your task is to demolish a house. You could begin at the top, removing one tile at a time, making your way down to the timber and then removing the roof. You could then dismantle the structure brick by brick. Alternatively, you could simply remove the load-bearing column at the base and collapse the entire house with one movement. That’s leverage. Less work, more intelligence, greater results.

If you were a musician looking to launch a new album, you might go and play at 10 different venues in order to publicise yourself. Or you could appear once on Ellen and enjoy exponentially greater results. Less effort, more intelligence, greater results.

Leverage is about amplified effect. It’s about one kick to the bully’s crotch, rather than 10 rounds in the ring.

In ‘They’re Your Rules, Break Them!’ I explore how businesses and brands can strategically dismantle their own restrictive rules. The entire point of the philosophy is to seek out leverage. Why spend a couple of decades slowly growing your enterprise, if you might catapult it to profitability using a couple of steps instead? Leverage is everything: 

‘Aim for the Planet’

In the highly acclaimed sci-fi novel Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggin is a young genius selected to become a soldier, after earth comes under attack by an alien force. Earth’s generals have discovered that grown men lack the reaction time to fight air battles against the aliens and the ideal fighters are 12-year-olds.

There is a spoiler-alert built into this illustration.

Ender believes he is being trained on a series of video-game-like simulations, hence ‘Ender’s game’. It turns out that, in fact, he is controlling a real army in deep space, and fighting actual battles.

In the final fight scene, Ender is in command of a massive fleet of ships, which have fought a series of battles to arrive at the enemy’s planet.

The human weaponry is formidable, but the enemy ships come swarming from their planet in such large numbers that Ender and his team initially believe victory is impossible.

His sub-commanders look to him for guidance and after a moment’s hesitation, he announces the target:

‘Aim for the planet.’

‘What?!’ the incredulous 12-year-old beside him asks, manning the main weapon.

‘You heard me. If we take out the planet, we take out the queens. Game over.’

The character of Ender Wiggin understood that you don’t have to fight the swarm. A piece-by-piece effort is over-taxing. If you aim for the planet and take out the queens, you could win outright in one go. Total victory and game over.

Where does your mega-leverage lie?

This week, try this thought-exercise with your leadership team: Ask them to list two ways in which your business might be built. Start by listing the slowest possible way; the equivalent of dismantling a house tile by tile. Then, brainstorm mega-levers. What is the fastest way this business could possibly be built? If you were the equivalent of the aspiring singer who appears on Idols, the book reviewed favourably by Oprah, or the commander who simply ‘aims for the planet,’ how might you achieve exponentially faster results?

Remember to use this principle as you guide the thought: To achieve a 10% improvement, one can tinker with existing systems. But to achieve a 10-fold result, one cannot. One must dream up radically different ways of seeing the entire equation. And that is the heart and soul of extreme leverage.

The rules and norms according to which you operate are your own. You can – and often should – break them.


Douglas Kruger specialises in dismantling needless rules. A business speaker and author of 5 books with Penguin Random House, including ‘They’re Your Rules, Break Them!’, he presents locally and internationally on the topic of disruptive innovation and how to reduce your own rules in order to achieve it. Douglas is also a multiple award-winning speaker, who was inducted into the ‘Speakers Hall of Fame’ in 2016. See him in action at



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