If you’re a leader, you’re a teacher

Mickey Mellen
2 min readJun 21, 2024

Jim Sinegal was one of the cofounders of Costco and had some amazing quotes captured over the years. My favorite, while not related to this post, was what he told his successor as he was stepping down: “ If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.

For today’s quote, though, he was talking about the intersection of leadership and education. In a recent episode of Founders (which was focused on Steve Jobs), they shared this quote from Jim:

“If you’re not spending 90% of your time teaching, you’re not doing your job.”

As you develop as a leader, it can be tricky to figure out where best to spend your time. As GreenMellen has grown, both Ali and I have had to work to determine how best to serve our team as our roles became less about doing the tactical work of marketing. As this quote shares, teaching has been a big part of it.

  • Teaching our team through high-level items (goals, mission, etc) and tactical issues.
  • Teaching our clients through various interactions.
  • Teaching the community through things like our Meetup and podcast.
  • Teaching others through activities such as this blog.

We see this through great leaders in every kind of organization. You have business leaders like Sinegal, but even leaders in sports are great teachers; Michael Jordan was famous for the amount of time he spent teaching and mentoring the younger players on his team.

I’m not sure that Jim’s 90% number is accurate, but it’s likely very close. Finding ways to teach, at any level, is a great thing for both sides of the conversation.

Originally published at https://www.mickmel.com on June 21, 2024.



Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.