Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Building Readers Godin Style

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog, along with over 400,000 others, I’m told.

Seth Godin has found a unique way to speak and connect with people –– and to inspire them. And he continues to fine-tune the way he builds relationships with them. Godin’s energy to always push for the remarkable has sometimes left our heads spinning and yet we have always been fans –– summarizing and/or reviewing his books Purple Cow, The Moo, The Dip, Meatball Sundae, Tribes and most recently, Linchpin. Last week, in his blog “Movin On” Godin declared that Linchpin will be the last book he will publish in a traditional way.

He said, “Traditional book publishers use techniques perfected a hundred years ago to help authors reach unknown readers, using a stable technology (books) and an antique and expensive distributions system – The thing is … now I know who my readers are.”

In an interview in the Wall Street Journal (Aug. 24), Godin is quoted as saying “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me and a lot of others is enable me to know my readers.” The article reports that Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files and podcasts.

Godin said in his blog that his mission is to figure out who the audience is, and take them where they want and need to go, in whatever format works, even if it’s not a traditionally published book.

Yeah, head spinning but, as always, thought-provoking.

For an interesting perspective on whether “To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish,” check out Boyd Morrison’s article in The Huffington Post.



WSJ and the End of Management

Here’s an article that got my attention as I was doing some research for a project here at Soundview. The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article by Alan Murray adapted from the company’s book The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management. The article, entitled “The End of Management,” discusses the decline of traditional “20th century” management. The great innovation that powered the United States through the post-World War II era is in a state of flux. The shifts in technology, the speed at which innovation occurs and the interaction with consumers to create and customize products means that the traditional organization that marched in a single file has had to adapt.

One of the most interesting aspects of this article that I wanted to bring to your attention is the section where Murray questioned the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, a group of executives who gather annually to discuss issues of the public interest. Murray asked the group to name the most influential business book they read. He writes that many of the members of the CEO council cited professor Clayton M. Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma.

This is an interesting choice when you consider the variety of management books that hit the market each year. Christensen’s book discusses products that came in at the low-end of a market and served as “disruptive technologies” that eventually overthrew established competition. While The Innovator’s Dilemma is certainly a worthwhile read, I’d also highly recommend Christensen’s follow-up: The Innovator’s Solution. In this book, Christensen and co-author Michael Raynor examine how to create successful growth by producing, rather than reacting to, disruptive technologies.

Head over to Summary.com to find out how you can get your copy of the summary of The Innovator’s Solution.



The Dawn of a New Life Stage

I was catching up on some reading over the weekend, and I came across an interesting piece in The New York Times. This article attempts to understand the lengthening of the journey to adulthood by people in their 20s. Whenever a piece like this is published, I tend to break out the ol’ salt shaker, because I know I’ll need more than a grain or two to take with any information presented. Thankfully, the article admits that the notion of the five traditional “milestones” for adulthood (graduation, moving out on one’s own, financial independence, marriage and the birth of a child) are part of a by-gone assembly line mentality whose end product was a fully manifested adult. Adolescents who are starting the journey to adulthood in 2010 may experience some of the previously accepted milestones in a different order (or not at all).

From my perspective, it’s been interesting to see how this shift in generational development applies to the workplace. It’s no coincidence that these changes are reflected in many of the business book submissions that cross my desk on a weekly basis. The “wandering youth” that opted to leave the well-worn path to adulthood occupy offices and cubicles down the hall from executives who were a product of the old assembly line. How the different generations interact has become an evergreen topic for authors.

Right now on Summary.com, we’re featuring coverage of Generations, Inc by Meagan Johnson and Larry Johnson. This book examines the interaction between the numerous generations that now share workspace and what organizations can do to foster an environment of teamwork and camaraderie.

This review is available for you now FREE! Visit us at Summary.com to learn how you can access this and more than 1,000 additional FREE business book reviews!



The New Building Blocks of an Organization

I’m fascinated by the fact that even during a period of high unemployment, the work force is holding strong to its belief that a company should offer more than a steady wage. This is part of the evolution of the modern workplace that continues to serve up plenty of research topics for scholars and authors alike. The criteria for what makes a company a great employer are shifting in the same way as the generations that populate the company’s positions.

One of our newest summaries, Leading Outside the Lines by Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan, helps executives understand the changes in the make-up of today’s workplace. The authors point out that a key to achieving greater success lies in understanding the combination of two factions that create the workplace. Workers are looking for the correct balance between the formal and informal sides of a company. The formal side is the territory of performance metrics, company processes and management structure. The informal side deals with the culture of an organization and the grassroots aspects of a company’s service and support efforts.

This idea goes hand-in-hand with recent research that suggests that younger workers don’t clearly demarcate between on-the-job and off-the-job. The “go-anywhere” aspect of technology means that work can take place at any time and in any location. While this is hardly new information, the surprise is that it leads this youngest crop of workers to put in as much or more time on the job than previous generations. Consider the fact that the average employee spends more waking hours on the job than he or she does with friends and family, and it’s easy to see why the demand for informal aspects of an organization is so great.

To learn more about Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (in)Formal Organization, Energize Your Team and Get Better Results, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



How Much is Too Much?

Here’s a topic that should spark some debate: Is there such a thing as too much personal disclosure in the realm of the Internet?

Apparently, someone thinks so. However, his identity may surprise you. Check out this quote:

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time… I mean we really have to think about these things as a society.”

This same person went on to suggest that the youngest members of society may one day seek to change their names because they’ve left a trail of embarrassing personal moments scattered across the Internet. The fact that a quick search can produce volumes of data about the average young person means that potential employers may have a filtered perception of just who they are considering for a position.

So, who is the mystery man who thinks there may be too much personal info online? Believe it or not, it’s Eric Schmidt … the CEO of Google!

Here’s the article from BBC.com where we were able to source the above comments. As the article indicates, there are those who believe that Schmidt is overstating the problem of willing disclosure of private information. However, the point about potential employers viewing candidates’ social networking sites is one that is discussed from time to time in books we review at Soundview.

Part of the problem is that the lack of filter creates a constant stream of communication with very little emphasis on connection. Soundview currently has a new summary from John Maxwell that attempts to respond to this issue in the physical world (although some of its concepts could easily be applied online). Visit us at Summary.com to learn more about Maxwell’s new book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently.



Blu-Ray: Flourish or Vanish?

It seems like technology battles occur with more frequency than in previous years. In fact, I had a friend send me a funny quote on the subject. She e-mailed me a list of random postings on a blog. One of them read, “Can we all agree that the format that eventually replaces DVD will be the last one we ever use? I’m getting tired of having to re-purchase my entire movie collection every few years.”

As it stands, Blu-Ray discs appear to be the successor to DVDs. However, it wasn’t that long ago that we stood on the verge of another technology decision between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. What leads one technology to rise and another to fall? This question is the subject of a new book summarized by Soundview. In Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t, author Kevin Maney looks at the differentiating factors between success and failure in the marketplace.

If you’re a Soundview subscriber, you’ll be able to read Trade-Off, as well as listen to an exclusive interview with Maney. The interview, like the summary itself, contains some surprising revelations, including Maney’s comment on Blu-Ray technology. Maney questions whether or not the technology will escape the “fidelity belly,” a term for a product or service that offers neither a high fidelity experience or a very convenient experience.

Sign up for a subscription today and hear this exclusive interview and find out why Maney thinks Blu-Ray will have trouble escaping the fidelity belly.



Three Hot New Summaries Available Now!

Depending on where you live, this has been quite a brutal summer, hasn’t it? I don’t think I can remember a year where I’ve consciously avoided spending too much time outdoors as much as I have this summer. Of course, my extra time spent in the air conditioning means that I’ve been able to read even more business books. Our entire editorial team has been hard at work scouring the stacks of submissions. The result of this intense study is three new summaries now available on Summary.com!

As I mentioned on Wednesday of this week, Soundview subscribers can’t get enough of the insightful works of John C. Maxwell. We’re pleased to announce that you can now read the summary of his latest book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. In this book, Maxwell provides readers with the skills to create lasting connections through communication. Whether speaking to an audience of one or a thousand, Maxwell shares the best practices to create memorable connections.

Have you ever wondered why some products take off while others languish? Author Kevin Maney provides an in-depth examination of this problem in the summary of his book Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t. Maney argues that successful products are either high fidelity or high convenience. Read the summary to see why companies that try to merge the two into a single product end up losing potential buyers.

Finally, our third new summary takes readers on an exploration of the modern workplace. Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan offer leaders a new way forward in their book Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (in)Formal Organization, Energize Your Team and Get Better Results.

Who said these have to be the dog days of August? We’ve got three great summaries in eight digital formats to help take your mind off the heat. Learn more about the benefits of a Soundview subscription.




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