How to run a multi-million dollar company with (almost) no rules

Recently I watched a video that blew my mind. The speaker Ricardo Semler runs a Brazilian company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars and yet has almost no rules at all – no set hours, location, holiday time, management structure, or business plan.

Want to go to the beach or to see a film on a Monday afternoon? You can.

And it was all inspired by Ricardo’s take on life (and death):

“On Mondays and Thursdays, I learn how to die.

I call them my terminal days. My wife Fernanda doesn’t like the term, but a lot of people in my family died of melanoma cancer and my parents and grandparents had it. And I kept thinking, one day I could be sitting in front of a doctor who looks at my exams and says, “Ricardo, things don’t look very good. You have six months or a year to live.”

And you start thinking about what you would do with this time. And you say, “I’m going to spend more time with the kids. I’m going to visit these places, I’m going to go up and down mountains and places and I’m going to do all the things I didn’t do when I had the time.” But of course, we all know these are very bittersweet memories we’re going to have. It’s very difficult to do… So I said, I’m going to do something else.

Every Monday and Thursday, I’m going use my terminal days. And I will do, during those days, whatever it is I was going to do if I had received that piece of news.”


Watch the video to see how he built the entire company around this idea:

Starting early

As Ricardo reveals in his talk, he discovered that a lot of new employees had a hard time adjusting after working somewhere else – and after the way education prepares us to be a passive employee. He realised they needed to start this more natural way of working earlier.  So they started a school. That way people would never be brainwashed to be workers, instead they would become ‘players’ right from the start.


What do you think?

What do you make of Ricardo’s ideas? Even for me, they were pretty radical! But I believe this is the vision for work for the 21st Century.

Leave a comment and give me your thoughts…

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