The Outsiders

In The Outsiders, author Will Thorndike closely evaluates the performance of today’s most successful companies and their leaders. He argues that the basis of what makes a successful CEO is nothing but his ability to drive returns for the shareholders of his company over the long term. This book features eight unconventional CEOs and their traits and methods that helped achieve such exceptional performance. These meek “outsiders” shunned the hottest new management trends. Instead, they focused on specific traits that put them and the companies they run on winning trajectories.

“An outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.” 

Warren Buffett

“One of the Most Important Business Books in America.” 


“This book completely changed my business life... If you want to build a company that generates incredible returns, this book should be on your required reading list.”

Dave Morin, Founder & Partner, Slow Ventures as seen on Medium

“… easily the best investment or business book published in the past few years…” 

Brendan Matthews, Motley Fool

“…an important insider’s perspective, an unapologetic glimpse into the hard-core investor view of what success looks like.”

"It focuses on the less sexy but equally important job of a CEO—capital allocation." 

Mebane Faber, CIO and portfolio manager at Cambria Investment Management

“Thorndike wants to give any manager or business owner the confidence to occasionally do things differently from your peers … to make the most of the cards they’re dealt and to delight their shareholders.” 

Financial Times

“[Thorndike's] findings turn received wisdom about CEO success on its head. It’s not revenue and profit growth, but the increase in a company’s per share value that offers the ultimate barometer of a CEO’s greatness… Thorndike may have discovered an alchemic formula for CEO success. But will existing CEOs listen?” 


“Thorndike has done extensive research on each of the people features, and their success story makes for an inspiring and most definitely, compelling read.” 

The Hindu (India)

“An extremely instructive read…well worth the effort.” 

Business Traveller magazine

“This is an eminently readable volume with plenty of lessons.” 

The Irish Times

“Will Thorndike dissects an eclectic and fascinating group of business leaders who created exceptional long-term value. He takes the unique angle of examining great CEOs as chief allocators of capital, so disciplined in their empirical rationality as to be nonconformists in the very best sense. Thorndike’s take is fresh, smart, and provocative—and well worth learning.”

Jim Collins, author, Good to Great; coauthor, Built to Last and Great by Choice

“Will Thorndike provides management principles that are as rock solid as they are rare and shares the engaging stories of eight CEOs who lived by them. The ideas in this book provide both executives and investors with the North Star of value. Follow it and prosper.”

Michael J. Mauboussin, Chief Investment Strategist, Legg Mason Capital Management; author, The Success Equation

The Outsiders is a must-read for leaders—and aspiring leaders—striving to become exceptional CEOs, and for investors interested in partnering with exceptional stewards of corporate capital.”

Mason Hawkins, Chairman and CEO, Southeastern Asset Management

“If creating wealth for shareholders is the ultimate test of a CEO, meet the champions. The names of these ‘outsiders’ may come as a surprise, but you will learn valuable strategic lessons from their iconoclastic ways.”

Walter Kiechel, author, The Lords of Strategy

The Outsiders celebrates leaders who kept their firms focused, rewarded their management despite long periods of inactivity, and—by keeping their companies out of trouble—found themselves free to pounce when compelling opportunities arose. A highly effective playbook for excellence.”

Thomas A. Russo, Partner, Gardner Russo & Gardner