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Summary of The Fixer 

Short summary

Are you starting up a business or a new trend which has to disrupt existing structures? Do you want to know how to beat the big guns at their own game? This bite-sized bestseller shows you the ups and downs of startup life, allowing you to side-step common mistakes and place yourself firmly on the road to success. Bradley Tusk is a venture capitalist, philanthropist, and political strategist. Advisor for big names such as Uber and Tesla, “Silicon Valley’s Favourite Fixer” gives you in-depth advice on how to play the political business game to your advantage, avoiding pitfalls to drown you before you even begin. In “The Fixer,” Tusk shares the skills and knowledge he developed working with Chuck Schumer, Michael Bloomberg, Rod Blagojevich, and other political and business legends to help startups fight back. There are behind-the-scenes stories on how he helped stop the taxi industry from killing Uber in its infancy and how any new company can play the political game.

Key points

1

Tech firms with tech that disrupts the status quo face enormous challenges when it comes to government regulations

The regulators become defensive and startups have to learn how to play hardball. For example, Uber had to use customer loyalty to fight the New York City taxi lobby and it won. The defensive nature of regulators comes from the fact that they get their jobs via political appointment. The politicians who appoint them get donations from influential people in finance, transportation, health sector, etc. If you’re trying to disrupt almost any traditional industry — transportation, energy, health care, education, insurance, finance, hospitality, alcohol, beauty, gaming, housekeeping — they typically don’t thank you for the disruption. They punch back, and they use regulatory bodies to do the punching. This stifles disruption by outsiders and prevents innovation from seeing the light of day.

To fight back, startups need to take their aim at the polls of politicians — that’s their weak point. They are more concerned with getting re-elected than with governing. With a few exceptions — the rare breed, politicians worry about what the media and voters think of them. If you’re going to win the fight, you need to know your enemy. There are four basic types of politicians.

1. Typical Pols: They preoccupy themselves with validating their insecurities but can also be engaged in hard work under the right circumstances.

2. Ideologues: They are the true believers e.g. the Tea Party, the Green Party, etc.

3. Backbenchers: These are just happy to be in politics and all they care about is re-election.

4. Corrupt Pols: They take bribes, exchange donations for favors, and are in it for selfish reasons.

The point of this book is to help startups think intelligently about politics so they can counterpunch or, ideally, avoid getting hit in the first place. The more you understand why politicians and regulators don’t want you to launch a new hotel system, a new transportation network, or a new peer-to-peer insurance pool without their consent, the easier it is to figure out how to change the political equation and convince them to go along.
2

To control the public’s perception about anything, first of all, control the narrative

Politicians always crave public attention and Bradley Tusk understood this while he worked with New York City council member and City’s Parks commissioner, Henry Stern. Tusk ensured that the publicity didn’t stop. He masterminded the presentation of every policy the Park’s department was currently working on to the public. This kept the funds rolling in, presented his boss as a hardworking man to the public, and also kept Stern happy.
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3

For a political race, you have to identify who your enemy is and completely destroy them

4

Uber disrupted the conventional system in the taxi industry by leaning on customer loyalty to fight the political juggernauts

5

Unions are a special type of political donor with a strong influence on politicians that can hardly be beaten by start-ups

6

The death of a company begins with disregard for political strategies but with the right tools and skills, you can beat the status quo

7

Although Bloomberg pulled out of the presidential race, Tusk orchestrated a campaign for Bloomberg to prevent Trump from winning

8

For a new company, it’s important to know when and which political battles to fight

9

Conclusion

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