Soundview Executive Book Summaries


It’s Time to Say ‘When’
November 28, 2008, 4:45 PM
Filed under: Financial/Accounting | Tags: ,

John C. Bogle has finally had it. He’s saying when, and he’s saying enough is enough.

 

Fresh onto the bookstore shelves in mid-November comes the book Enough: True Measure of Money, Business, and Life from the founder of Vanguard and Father of Index Investing. With endorsements from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg News, and TIME magazine hailing the solid investment of this book, it’s a no brainer that anyone who has the slightest interest in finance and investing would benefit from—and dare I say enjoy—reading this book.

 

From the inside flap: “We live during a time where there seems to be no limit to what ‘enough’ entails. CEOs—even those of failing corporations—pull down huge paychecks and hedge fund managers can enjoy billion-dollar paydays. These excesses are only the most obvious examples of the gross excesses that have overwhelmed our financial system, precipitating the crisis we now face.”

 

Interesting enough, when I googled “Enough” and “Bogle,” one of the first things I hit was his May 18, 2007 commencement address to the MBA Graduates of the McDonough School of Business—also titled “Enough.” Perhaps an early draft? Nevertheless, if you have the time, read through the address, and I guarantee you will get a taste of what Bogle’s book is all about.

 

Also, in doing some research, I found a press release detailing the joyous union of Bogle and publisher John Wiley & Sons in a three book deal. The first book of the deal was Enough, which will be followed by Jack Bogle Speaks in late 2009; the third title was not divulged.



Rave On
November 25, 2008, 4:20 PM
Filed under: Internet, Marketing | Tags: ,

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to advertise your brand for free? It’s not a complete pipe dream, according to David Meerman Scott online marketing strategist, Econtent magazine contributor, and author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Due out in March 2009 is Scott’s latest book: World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers That Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories, published by John Wiley & Sons.

 

Now, Scott is not referring to the dance parties of the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, though those too spread through communities, gaining popularity by word of mouth and little to no paid advertising. Instead, Scott’s book shows marketers how they can harness the power of the Web and get people to talk about their brands. According to Scott, a World Wide Rave “is what happens when an idea really takes off on the Internet and propels a brand or company to seemingly instant fame and fortune.” It’s all about really strong viral marketing, but in order to be successful it must be done right. You can build a large and devoted audience by using blogs, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to get your brand front and center. Offer some free Web content, be genuine, and perhaps provide a little entertainment, and you should be on the road to success.

 

If you don’t want to wait until March to pick up a copy of World Wide Rave, check out Scott’s Web site and look at the free e-books he has to offer—one of the most recent ones is The New Rules of Viral Marketing. You don’t even need to give Scott your personal information; just click on the e-book and download.



A Look at Successful Cause Marketing
November 24, 2008, 6:52 PM
Filed under: Marketing | Tags: ,

This November, the presidential election wasn’t the only event bringing people out to vote. From Sept. 15 through Nov. 9, people were able to cast their vote about how TripAdvisor would allocate a donation of $1 million to five travel-related nonprofits. The philanthopric initiative—called “More than Footprints”—spanned a number of places on the Internet, including Facebook and YouTube.

 

The nonprofits that received donations were:

 

l  Doctors Without Borders : $392,000 based on 39.2 percent of the vote

l  Save the Children : $347,000 based on 34.7 percent of the vote

l  The Nature Conservatory : $137,000 based on 13.7 percent of the vote

l  Conservation International : $70,000 based on 7 percent of the vote

l  National Geographic Society : $54,000 based on 5.4 percent of the vote

 

I find this program inspiring, and wish I had heard about it before receiving the press release several days too late. This is the kind of thing that, aside from being philanthropic, truly enhances your brand with cause marketing. People that weren’t customers before may find TripAdvisor to be the type of travel company they want to do business with now. It makes me think of Oren Harari and his book Break from the Pack, in which Harari challenges businesses to break from the herd and pull ahead of your competitors with new ideas and innovative practices.

 

I think one of my favorite ways TripAdvisor informed the public about “More than Footprints” was the YouTube video starring Rosario Dawson. Engaging and fun, this use of video certainly helped to bring in the votes I’m sure.

 

Finally, let me leave you with an explanation behind the initiative’s name, which I found toward. the end of the press release: “The inspiration for the initiative name ‘More than Footprints’ comes from the popular travel mantra, ‘Take only pictures, leave only footprints.’ TripAdvisor believes people can leave more than footprints behind when traveling—by making a difference in the places they visit.”



Multichannel Primer for Growth and Profit
November 21, 2008, 4:02 PM
Filed under: Marketing | Tags: ,

In today’s busy world, if you’re marketing to your customer through only one channel, you’re going to become extinct. And honestly, I don’t think there are really any single-channel marketers out there anymore. Currently companies market to their customer through e-mails, Web sites, catalogs, retails stores, etc. And it works.

 

If you’re new to marketing, then it’s just your luck that entrepreneurial guru Michael Masterson teamed up with MaryEllen Tribby to pen Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions for Your Business . The book is full of practical takeaways, leading you through 12 of the most important marketing channels available. The channels covered are: Direct mail, social media, telesales, affiliate marketing, joint ventures, telemarketing, radio and television advertising, public relations, direct online marketing, event marketing and direct space ads.

 

If you’re ready to grow your customer base and get your product into the hands of millions, then multichannel marketing is the direction you need to take. It has been found countless times that marketing campaigns that successfully embrace multiple channels are improve companies’ bottom lines and their relationships with customers.

 

If you head over to the book’s Web site (very much an example of multichannel marketing) you can peruse the media room, which has a couple videos of interest . Also, Tribby has a blog hosted on Amazon.com’s Web site, which proves to be interesting. Check it out for a bit more insight about the multichannel world.



All Work and No Play Hinders Innovation
November 20, 2008, 4:02 PM
Filed under: Innovation, Technology | Tags: ,

Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Play Station, Xbox, Wii … I’m sure a few of these product names sound familiar to you. Perhaps you like to play Halo after work, or your spouse enjoys hours of the puzzle game Tetris. Maybe your kids have their friends over to “rock out” and play Harmonix’s incredibly addicting game Rock Band. Needless to say, I’m sure you’re familiar with video games.

 

Enter authors David Edery and Ethan Mollick, the minds behind Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business. Divided into thirds, the book discusses the use of video games in (1) advertising and marketing, (2) recruiting and training employees, and (3) boosting morale and increasing productivity.

 

A number of cutting-edge companies already use video games in one of those three ways, and Edery and Mollick pack Changing the Game with case studies and best practices. Don’t think your company has what it takes to use video games? Consider an example from Microsoft that Edery shares in the book, as well as in an interview with Developmag.com:

 

“The Windows Defect Prevention team created an extremely simple game called The Beta1 Game; to play, all you needed to do was install an early ‘beta’ version of the Vista software. Doing this would earn you a ‘b’. Voting on the version would earn you an ‘e’, and running your version overnight would earn you a ‘t’, and so forth. Everyone who participated in the game could see the letters earned by everyone else who participated. Beta1 doesn’t sound like much, but it quadrupled participation in the Vista testing effort.”

If interested in more information, check out the interview of Edery and Mollick conducted by Owain Bennallack for Developmag.com.



Board Games
November 19, 2008, 4:07 PM
Filed under: Leadership | Tags: ,

Ram Charan —I think he must publish nearly three to five books a year, not to mention his rigorous speaking schedule, etc—has another gem coming our way. Owning Up: The 13 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask is due to be published by Jossey-Bass, an imprint of John Wiley & Sons, in March 2009. At an estimated 200 pages, I’d imagine it’ll be a quick read—like many of Charan’s books—but there should also be some solid, concise takeaways within those pages.

 

With the current economic environment, many people are looking toward their companies’ boards, relying on proper corporate governance. Charan feels that boards can avoid (or at least better prepare for) situations that occurred due to the subprime mortgage crisis, and some boards are already right on track with what needs to be done for their companies.  From the publisher’s catalog: “Leadership guru Charan describes the best emerging practices for boards—with real examples of how some of the best in the business solve today’s thorniest boardroom problems … ”

 

Aside from being timely, this is a book that everyone in the company—from mid-level manager to board member—should read, to keep the corporate governance healthy and effective.



Traditional Media Gets Social
November 18, 2008, 4:02 PM
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: ,

According to an article on MinOnline, NYTimes.com and Businessweek.com have settled onto the social network bandwagon. NYTimes.com’s offering is TimesPeople, allows users to recommend articles, view what others are recommending, as well as share their own user generated content (USG) such as slideshows, blogs, comments, articles, videos, etc. Anyone who is a registered member of NYTimes.com is able to become a member of the social site—or “community” as its called—and individuals are able to “opt out of sharing [their] activities with the TimesPeople community at any time.” Pretty standard stuff.

 

Businessweek.com’s offering is Business Exchange. When going to the site, I find almost the same banner ad at the top of the page for Cisco that was on the TimesPeople site. Their site layouts are also similar with plenty of whitespace and a clean design—a blessing for those of us who ventured into Myspace and were driven out by the screaming colors, flashing gifs, and seemingly-hidden profile music that is almost impossible to find and turn off without first being blasted away by the first few bars of some current pop tune (trust me, I have witnessed this firsthand).

 

I find both sites are worth a little further exploration, and according to the MinOnline article, the sites are “designed to engage readers on topics that may not necessarily be explored at length on the parent site. So far, the experiments for both have been succeeding; yet they are still very much a work in progress.”



Hiring for the White House
November 17, 2008, 3:56 PM
Filed under: Human Resources, Leadership | Tags: ,

President-elect Barack Obama will have his plate full for the next year (at least) with important tasks: setting the tone for his first term in office, selecting a family dog, and nominating nearly 500 people to cabinet and subcabinet posts.

 

This number has grown in leaps and bounds since the days of George Washington, with his Cabinet of four (Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War and Attorney General). According to the article “Our tottering confirmation processpublished back in 2002—though still relevant—the nominating or “hiring” process for Cabinet members takes up a large chunk of a President’s first year in office. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush took approximately 8.5 months to select their Cabinet appointees and get them approved and sworn in by the Supreme Court.

 

Perhaps Obama would benefit from a book recently published in November by Portfolio: There’s No Elevator to the Top: A Leading Headhunter Shares the Advancement Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Executives. Written by Umesh Ramakrishan, vice chairman of CTPartners—a global executive search firm—the book gives its readers a look at what it’s like to reach the top of a major company. Now sure, you could say Obama is already at the top, but this book could help him quickly pick out key qualities that he should look for when selecting his Cabinet appointees. From a write-up by Publisher’s Weekly: “The advice Ramakrishman elicits from the executives delves into such areas as the importance of choosing only ‘A’ players when seeking to assemble a strong team and striving for a flatter organizational structure to promote communication and information flow.” It sounds like Obama could learn a lot from this book. For the rest of us, There’s No Elevator to the Top can over guidance and challenge us to bring our A-game.



Do you have the Knack?
November 14, 2008, 12:56 PM
Filed under: Books in General | Tags: ,

Norm Brodsky seems to have it, the knack for starting businesses that is. Brodsky has built eight companies, including a messenger business that made the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies for three straight years, and a records storage company that he later sold for $110 million.

 

Much of his early business wisdom was learned while following his father around selling products door-to-door. His father instilled in him business basics in the form of expressions that have stuck with him ever since. Expressions like “Always make a good sale with a good markup,” “Don’t take advantage of people,” “Don’t worry twice,” and “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” The lessons he learned from his father, along with his years of experience in starting businesses, has given Brodsky much success which he shares in his columns and blogs on the Inc. website.

 

Along with Bo Burlingham, Brodsky has collected this entrepreneurial business wisdom in a book called The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn How to Handle Whatever Comes Up. Burlingham is well known for his many successful business books, including Small Giants, and The Great Game of Business and A Stake in the Outcome which he wrote with Jack Stack.

 

The authors make it clear that there is no step-by-step way to start a business. Instead, you develop a knack for handling issues as they arise. What is this knack? Brodsky defines it as “a mentality that helps street-smart people solve problems and pursue opportunities as they arise.” And the good news is that they believe that this knack can be learned. The advice in this book provides the essentials for gaining that knack, and include such principles as: follow the numbers, keep focusing on your real goals, and don’t get so close to the problem that you lose all perspective.

 

This title is well worth the time for anyone thinking of starting a business or already in the middle of the task. Perhaps you can acquire the knack and save yourself some headaches.



Men: The Endangered Species
November 13, 2008, 12:59 PM
Filed under: Books in General | Tags: ,

In 2004, CNN reported that women’s wages would not equal that of men until 2050. This calculation was based on the trend being seen in the equalizing of salaries since the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. But it seems that this equalizing trend may be accelerating with changes in the nature of modern business.

 

Guy Garcia, in his new book The Decline of Men reports on a study by the Citizens Union Foundation that females between 21 and 30 earned 117% of the salary earned by males of the same age, and that U.S. Census figures confirm that women in their 20s already make more than men in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and others. Women now earn 60% of all degrees (while making up only 51% of the population) and outnumber men by more than two million on college campuses.

 

This salary trend is only a part of the overall change being seen among men in American society. Men are not keeping up with changes in the business environment, which now favor the innate social and networking skills of women. Because of that they are “tuning out and giving up.” 13% of men ages 30 to 55 are not working compared to just 5% during the 60s. While this might be expected among blue-collar workers, the trend is now catching up with college-educated professionals as well.

 

But Garcia does offer a solution. He notes that while “masculine” is seen as primarily competitive and prestige-oriented, “feminine” is primarily nurturing, caring and consensus-building. Garcia sees help for boys coming early in their education, but also thinks that men can adapt. He suggests that they “take a few pages from the female playbook: less hierarchy, more networking; less aggression, more consensus.”

 

To hear more about Guy Garcia’s analysis of changing gender roles in the workplace, check out the video.