Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Linking on the Links
October 31, 2008, 12:01 PM
Filed under: Success, Women in Business | Tags: ,

According to Nancy Berkley, president of Berkley Golf consulting, women golfers make up 23 percent of the total adult golfers in the U.S. Golf is also considered a past time that is excellent to partake with business partners, clients and peers because of the networking potential it provides (Trust me, it is not as easy to network while playing basketball or hockey.). However, it seems that businesswomen who golf are at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts—they have hit what researchers from the University of Mexico are calling a “grass ceiling.”


The study, titled “The Impact of Gender-Differentiated Golf Course Structure on Women’s Networking Abilities,” was presented at the annual Academy of Management meeting in August 2008 and found that “the greater the distance between tee boxes [for men and women], the fewer women there will be in management and marketing in that geographic locale and the less money those women will make.”


The researchers—Michelle M. Arthur, Robert Del Campo and Harry J. Van Buren III— gathered tee distance data from 455 golf courses across all 50 states, with each golf course being linked to a specific census locale. On average, women’s tee boxes are approximately 50 yards closer to the hole than men’s tee boxes.


So what does this all mean?


The researchers feel that there are two reasons for the correlation of golf tee distance to women’s career success. I’ll start with the second reason: According to the researchers, “If on average the women’s tees are far away from the men’s tees, this may portray a negative belief about the golfing abilities of women—and perhaps by extension negative beliefs about other abilities. Significant differences in the placements between men and women may reinforce biases against women, not just on physical terms, but also intellectual terms.”


Now, to me that sounds like a bit of a stretch, but their first reason for the correlation is stronger by far.  If the tees are farther apart, it is more likely that men will take one golf cart and ride together to their tee box, while the women in the group will ride together to their tee box, closer to the green. Thus, the women miss out on the networking possibilities that usually take place “during the idle time in the cart and waiting at the starting tee boxes to tee off.”


I find this fascinating, and not completely far-fetched. What do you think?

Gladwell’s Back
October 30, 2008, 11:56 AM
Filed under: Leadership, Success | Tags: ,

More than three years following the release of the best seller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking in January 2005, New Yorker senior staff writer Malcolm Gladwell is back with his latest: Outliers: The Story of Success, due out November 18, 2008 from Little, Brown and Company.


Outliers takes a look at just that—something that is obviously different from other things. In Gladwell’s case, he looks at many of the bright, famous and/or successful people in the world and asks the question: “What makes high-achievers different?” According to the book’s write up on , Gladwell’s answer is that people focus too much on what successful people are like and not enough attention on where they are from.


In a Q&A about his latest book—posted on his Web site—Gladwell writes, “I write books when I find myself returning again and again, in my mind, to the same themes. I wrote Tipping Point because I was fascinated by the sudden drop in crime in New York City—and that fascination grew to an interest in the whole idea of epidemics and epidemic processes. I wrote Blink because I began to get obsessed, in the same way, with the way that all of us seem to make up our minds about other people in an instant—without really doing any real thinking. In the case of Outliers, the book grew out a frustration I found myself having with the way we explain the careers of really successful people.”


Keep a look out at your local bookstore for Gladwell’s latest intellectual offering, or be sure to pre-order it online!

Are You IN?

On Thursday, November 6, Return Path is presenting the 2008 IN—E-mail Reputation Conference  at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The day is packed with sessions ranging from “5 Reasons Why Your Email Won’t Get Delivered” to “What ISPs Really Think About Your E-mail” and “Leveraging Your Reputation to Make Profits Soar.” It looks as if most of the sessions are presented by someone from Return Path, but a number of them include panelists from other companies (e.g., Proctor & Gamble, Comcast and comScore).


Aside from the sessions, there will be a “Breakfast of Champions,” two scheduled coffee breaks, a working lunch,  and a happy hour and museum power tour where cocktails and refreshments will be served as attendees network with their peers and take a private tour of the Museum of Natural History. That’s quite a lot fit into one day!


But don’t let me forget the keynote presentation: “No Free Stamps Here!” presented by marketing guru, Seth Godin. From the conference agenda: “Fine tuning the art of permission and relevancy to build personal connections with your customers is paramount to business success….Godin challenges and provokes you to think about your marketing practices differently enabling you to bridge the gap between your customers’ needs and wants so you can readily respond to change and build stronger relationships that resonate with your customers for the long run.”


This sounds like a valuable 1-day conference to attend if you feel e-mail is important to your company’s bottom line—whose isn’t? If you go to the Web site , it instructs you to “request an invitation” so that you can receive a special discounted rate. Remember to mark this on your calendars!

Living Beyond Our Means
October 28, 2008, 5:28 PM
Filed under: Books in General | Tags: ,

Back in my college days, I spent some time in Vermont working in the service industry. Living among “Real Vermonters” was quite an experience, and one characteristic that stood out to me was their frugality. The Yankee way is to buy good quality merchandise, use it until it wears out, and then find some other use for it.


While this may seem quaint but impractical to some city-dwellers, the frugal life is now making a comeback. Business Week recently ran a front-page article on “The New Age of Frugality” in which they tell the story of a family who changed their entire way of life in order to get out and stay out of debt.  This movement stems in part from recent financial pressures like higher gas prices and lowering home values, but there is also a deeper cause. Some people have become sick and tired of running on the never-ending treadmill to pay for things that will wear out before they’re paid off.


Several books have been published recently which speak to this issue of thrift and debt. Ronald Wilcox released a book in June entitled Whatever Happened to Thrift, published by Yale University Press. This book is primarily about saving and why Americans can’t seem to do it. He also offers solutions which the government and banks could put in place to help change this problem.


Another book, while perhaps more controversial, talks directly about debt. Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood points to the fact that debt is not just a political and economic issue, but a cultural one as well.


Others joining this movement are The Institute of American Values which has launched a site on thrift at which contains articles by prominent writers around the issue of thrift. A movement of people calling themselves “freegans” has sprung up with the goal to avoid the American culture of consumerism and find sources of free things instead. And you can also check out sites like where you can offer and obtain items for free, which others no longer want or need.


With the recent depreciation of many retirement accounts, we should all be looking for ways to save a few dollars. Expect this movement to continue to build up steam as mortgage, credit card and college debt becomes unmanageable for families.


Is E-mail THAT Bad?
October 27, 2008, 3:54 PM
Filed under: Technology | Tags: , ,

I’ve been reading a fairly new business book that I hope to finish up by the end of the week so I can give you my thoughts on it, but I knew I had to put it down long enough to capture my thoughts on a particular study the author discusses in a chapter about how the Internet often is a detriment to our productivity—I know, many of you are saying that couldn’t be true, but trust me it is.


When was the last time you were able to make it through an hour at your desk without either the e-mail icon on your desktop popping up with new e-mail alerts or you just obsessively checking on your own in the hopes that someone was getting back to you about something important? I would venture to say that eight times out of 10, when my e-mail icon begins to bounce up and down to alert me to a new e-mail, it is rarely the correspondence I was waiting for. Instead it might be an e-newsletter I subscribe to, a PR solicitation for a new book, or just something else that really didn’t require my immediate attention. Now, the question is, how much time did I waste?


After googling around to see what I could find on the Internet about a certain study I read about in the book, I found an article from the San Francisco Chronicle by Benjamin Pimentel from May 2005 titled: “E-mail Addles the Mind.” According to the article (which supported what I had already read in the book), Hewlett-Packard had scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London conduct research to determine if excessive use of daily technology (such as mobile phones and e-mail) is “more distracting and harmful to the IQ than smoking marijuana.”


I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the clinical trials, but the study found that “an average worker’s functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails … more than double the four-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana [based on information from a 2002 a report on marijuana use from researchers from Carleton University].”


How many times have you checked your e-mail today?

Looking at the NYT Bestsellers List to Gauge the Economy
October 24, 2008, 3:51 PM
Filed under: Financial/Accounting | Tags: , ,

Take a look at the New York Times’ bestsellers list for hardcover business titles published Oct. 3, 2008. Previously I had written about the effect of the current economic crisis on financial books , but I noticed something interesting when I looked at the bestsellers list again recently.


Doing some quick math, I figured that 40 percent of the titles on the NYT list pertain directly to the current economy. Of these six titles, it’s reassuring that five of them aim to give solid financial advice—something that anyone in the U.S. could greatly use. The only one that seems to be more of a look—objective or subjective, depending—at the dire straits of the economy would be Kevin Phillips’ Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (Viking Adult, April 2008).


As much as consumers don’t want to take a book like this with them to bed, I have a feeling that Phillips’ book might be a real eye opener for some. However, when you’re done reading this book, where does it leave you?


I believe this is where the other books I alluded to before come in. Titles such as The Total Money Makeover, Debt Cures “They” Don’t want You to Know About, The Gone Fishin’ Portfolio, The World is Curved, and When Markets Collide all have a bit more to offer when it comes to practical advice as to how consumers can invest wisely today (especially in the bear market), and how to maneuver through rough financial waters.


I feel that Bad Money has it’s place in educating us about what went south with the economy, but at the same time, it’s good to empower yourself with financial advice that can have a direct impact on your life.

Going Mobile
October 23, 2008, 12:48 PM
Filed under: Marketing | Tags: , ,

No, I’m not referencing The Who song about taking a road trip to nowhere—actually, mobile marketing is anything BUT going nowhere. With the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)  standing behind the growth of this channel, mobile marketing is able to reach a growing audience nationally and globally.


Take for instance a case study of MobiTV, the leading video provider for mobile phones. According to the study on the MMA’S Web site, MobiTV’s campaign took place September 10 through October 9 in the U.S. MobiTV—The Club worked with Universal Motown Records Group and popular hip hop artist Nelly to provide fans with free listening access to the musician’s new album, Brass Knuckles on their mobile handsets one week before the album’s release. To access the album, fans were able to text the word CLUB to 63636. The campaign’s goal was to produce interest in Nelly’s new album and create awareness of MobiTV’s The Club.


According to the case study, “MobiTV partnered with digital marketing company Geary Interactive to develop an online and mobile campaign to reach music enthusiasts.  The campaign primarily focused on mobile ads on music sites through Ringleader Digital and mobile search through Google. In addition Geary supplemented reach and buzz through organic media placements and mentions on Web based music blogs and music sections in social media sites.”


Not only did the mobile campaign give Nelly fans with mobile handsets access to the new album in advance, MobiTV’s The Club also ran a sweepstakes where individuals could win prize packs featuring Nelly CDs and DVDs, as well as the grand prize of Grammys tickets and $1,000. In order to enter the sweepstakes, entrants had to join The Club; once they joined via texting on their mobile handsets, they were sent a welcome message with the WAP (wireless application protocol) link, something that is familiar to anyone who checks e-mail or stock prices from a mobile phone.


According to the case study, traffic “peaked at over 50 times the traffic before promotions” and “since the launch of the promotion, [the] Grammy Sweepstakes contest has consistently been within the top 5 traffic drivers for The Club.”


If a free (but valuable in the mind of the consumer) content offering can increase traffic by 50 times, how might you harness the capabilities of mobile marketing for your company?

The Search Engine that Inspired a Verb
October 22, 2008, 12:43 PM
Filed under: Internet | Tags: ,

We all say it: “Let me google that.” And the people we’re talking to understand us. Google is the most used search engine on the entire Web (remember when we used to Ask Jeeves?) and yes, it is even in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a transitive verb. Its definition: “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web.”


Google has provided the Android OS for the new G1 smartphone being carried by T-Mobile, and has inspired numerous books, one being John Batelle’s The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, which Soundview summarized in 2006. But now we have a new Google book to consider.


Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know (Free Press, September 2008) was written by Randall Stross, a New York Times columnist who writes Digital Domain for the paper and is a business professor at San Jose State University. Stross was granted access to the “Googleplex” and gives his readers an inside look at the inner dealings of the search giant. His ability to score interviews with top management, like CEO Eric Schmidt, give the book clout, but one begins to wonder why he didn’t also sit down with Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.


Nevertheless, I feel it’s a title that people will be itching to pick up, so that they, too,  can get a glimpse into Google’s ambitious goal of organizing the world’s information. I’d appreciate it if Google could start with my inbox first.

Phone War: Part 1
October 21, 2008, 3:38 PM
Filed under: Other | Tags:

I always enjoy perusing Fast Company for inspiration, but today my aim was to see what they thought about one of the newest tech gadgets—what many have been calling the “Google Phone.”


Now, let me put it out there that being an editor tends to make me a Mac user; if you walk through the editorial and art departments at Soundview you see plenty of Apple products. I’m also surrounded by Apple fanatics, and as I’m sure you know, their devotion can be a bit contagious.


Nevertheless, the stir that Google and T-Mobile have made with their new phone is also exciting. What will this mean for the  iPhone, which has held court over the other smart phones on the market?


First, let’s get something straight. Though people refer to this new smartphone as the “Google Phone” it’s not. Unlike Apple, Google did not design the phone, it is only supplying its Android software as the operating system (OS). Apple, on the other hand, created the hardware (the actual iPhone itself), as well as the Apple OS that runs on it. A decision was then made that AT&T would be the carrier, locking consumers into that network if they wanted that phone.


In August 2008, T-Mobile, one of the not-so-popular (in my humble opinion) cell phone carriers announced that it would deliver the HTC Dream smartphone (now known as the GI) with the Android OS. According to an article on Wikipedia, Google, and more specifically Android, has been criticized for “not being all open-source software,” despite Google’s claim that more code would be released over time. For non-tech geeks, I’m sure this is not a sticking point, but for others, it could be a deal breaker if Google fails to be open and transparent with its code.


I think there will be plenty to say in the coming weeks about the G1 and what this means to Apple and the iPhone, as well as other smartphones. Let’s see what happens.

Book Trends Reveal Real Issues in Business
October 20, 2008, 11:19 AM
Filed under: Leadership | Tags: , , ,

AIG came under strong criticism last week, even becoming a topic at the presidential campaign debates, because of what was seen as excessive spending for a meeting that came on the heels of their bailout by the federal government. Although AIG later explained that this was not an executive junket but rather a meeting held for independent insurance agents and scheduled before the financial crisis, it highlighted the issue of ethical behavior in business.

I was reminded of the Enron collapse back in 2002, which revealed top executives’ unethical and illegal behavior. Soon after this scandal came to light, books began coming across our editorial desk on ethics in business. Among the books that we covered around this time were Building Public Trust by Samuel DiPiazza and Robert Eccles, and Value Shift by Lynn Sharp Paine.

As we work through this latest economic crisis and the moral and ethical accusations fly, we’re sure to see yet another surge of books being published on this topic. One title that we just evaluated is The Integrity Dividend by Tony Simons. Simons’ research reveals that businesses led by managers of higher integrity enjoy deeper employee commitment, lower turnover, superior customer service, and substantially higher profitability. This is the “integrity dividend”.

Here are a few other titles to watch for in the coming months as well. The Fish Rots from the Head: The Crisis in Our Boardrooms by Bob Garratt and The Ethical Organization by Alan Kitson and Robert Campbell. I expect that this list will grow in the coming months, so I may be back with an update in early 2009.