Soundview Executive Book Summaries

A View from the Top … Literally

In the world of business books, we frequently deal in metaphors. Next time you’re wandering through a bookstore (or, more likely, scrolling around an online bookseller), check out the variety of parallels drawn between leadership and another field. We’ve had comparisons between leadership and the military, as well as the baseball diamond, among others. In the case of the military metaphors, the authors are generally individuals who have bravely served in the armed forces. However, the hands-on knowledge of other authors is often speculative.

This is not the case with Chris Warner. As co-author (with management expert Don Schmincke) of High Altitude Leadership, Warner knows a thing or two about K2 … and Everest … and Kiliminjaro … and several mountains I can’t pronounce. He’s scaled some of the highest peaks in the world and gained an incredible wealth of knowledge along the way. Schmincke and Warner offer a great combination of management experience, business insight and original ideas.

And now they’re about to speak directly to Soundview subscribers!

On Monday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. (EST), Warner and Schmincke will be our special guests on Soundview Live. This 60-minute live coversation puts our subscribers in an interactive Web event with today’s top business authors. Warner and Schmincke will present key insights on leadership and success, whether on the world’s highest peaks or the boardrooms of corporate giants. This is followed by a question and answer session with subscribers. I’ve sat in on some of the production meetings, and I can tell you, Chris and Don are highly entertaining and very informative.

If you’re not a subscriber, don’t worry. It’s never been easier to become one! Don’t miss the chance to speak to two of the most dynamic business authors currently publishing. The view from the top is one that you can’t afford to miss.

Why Stop With Earth Day?

If you printed out this installement of the Soundview Editor’s Blog, shame, shame! After all, today is Earth Day, and in the ever-expanding global consciousness of all things green, we shouldn’t forget that it’s the small things that make a difference. The  notion of environmental awareness is much-discussed, but where does it actually lead? If we’re operating under the age-old adage of actions speaking louder than words, Earth Day is as good a day as any to take a long look in the mirror.

Just like so many areas of our lives, be it eating right, getting regular, strenuous exercise or going for routine medical check-ups, being green is a great idea that’s often difficult to put into practice. Who hasn’t had their feet burned on the infamous path paved with their good intentions? Making the correct decisions for the Earth can be time-consuming. It takes an effort to do simple actions like separating one’s trash or replacing every light bulb, not to mention remembering reusable grocery bags every time we set out for the store. These actions are just the basics.

It’s far more likely that people are more concerned with money than with time. The media is starting to pick up on this notion, and it’s no surprise that when put to a vote, the real “green initiative” is conserving the paper in our wallets. Fortunately, there are many companies who are working very diligently to benefit consumers and the environment at the same time. The more effort companies put into making environmentally-friendly practices a benefit to consumers, the better everyone will be in the long run. Now that’s an Earth Day wish we could all make together.

Lest you think I’m looking to cast stones from my glass-lined editorial pulpit, we’re trying to do our part as well. Check out our new collection, The Business of Green, and help your company take affordable, proactive steps to making smart choices for your business, your customers and the environment. We’re featuring 11 key summaries of top business titles with an environmental edge. What’s more, this collection is only available electronically. Like I said, it’s the small things that make a difference.

Slacking: A Business Reality?

While engaged in one of my favorite activities (trolling various publishers’ Web sites to check out upcoming business book releases), I came across a title that’s set to debut next week. A title like Instant Turnaround grabs one’s attention pretty quickly. The premise is even more interesting. Authors Harry Paul and Ross Reck explore a subject that might prove sensitive for both executive and employee: Do people intentionally “gear-down” their efforts as a way to retaliate for perceived mistreatment?

According to the authors, this is a “business reality,” and it can hit any level of an organization.  Fortunately, they provide solutions to help executives tap the wellspring of employee enthusiasm that may be held in reserve. I found it interesting that even in difficult economic times, people still hesitate to give their all. However, this can often be the result of an incorrect assumption that a company is nearing a round of layoffs or considering cutting perks and pay. Instant Turnaround should serve as a reminder to executives everywhere that communication is essential to keep employees motivated and on the same page as the company.

This book also appears to capitalize on a growing trend of writing a parable to illustrate the book’s main concepts. With any luck, Paul and Reck will be able to create a parable that can stack up to the master of a similar technique, Patrick Lencioni. His use of leadership fables has served him well through more than a half-dozen releases.

It’s obvious that none of the above authors lack any motivation when it comes to producing valuable work. Speaking of which, it’s about time I got back to my editorial duties.

Public Relations is Public Again
April 10, 2009, 5:51 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are times when I read an article that contains so much technical complexity that I’m afraid to switch on my computer. Such was the case while doing some research on the Conficker worm that’s currently causing all sorts of cyberhell to break loose on Windows-driven computers. The fact that even the experts are somewhat puzzled by the nature of this virus makes me wonder how far this latest threat to online security will reach.

Every new virus that comes down the line seems to increase the chances of a cataclysmic event. This is largely due to the ever-increasing involvement of various aspects of business that previously were not Internet dominated. Take public relations, for example. Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge are looking to help the PR industry vault squarely into the domain of Web 2.0 in their new release Putting the Public Back in Public Relations. Solis, principal of the FutureWorks PR agency, and Breakenridge, president of New Jersey-based marketing firm PFS Marketwyse, produced a book that should provide positive help to PR managers struggling with technology.

Everyone hears talk of Twitter, Facebook and other new media tools. In fact, in the publishing world, we’re rapidly approaching the point where people are fatigued with hearing about Web 2.0. What makes Putting the Public Back in Public Relations a treat to read is that the authors give a worthwhile crash-course specifically applied to their chosen area of expertise: public relations. For those in PR, it’s an effective, fast-track way to stay on the leading edge of the current curve. A definite must-read if you’re main method of getting in touch with your audience is via e-mail (or, dare I suggest, printed press releases). The world of PR is being reshaped and Web 2.0 is the road to success.

Just watch out for those worms along the way!

No End In Sight?

I’d like to think that everyone has had enough of hearing about the depths to which our economy has sunk. But media coverage and even our own subscribers are proving me to be an optimist. (No one is more surprised than me.) In all seriousness, the recent report of more than 740,000 jobs  cut in the month of March has even the most optimistic of individuals looking over his or her shoulder.

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), the company that produced the labor index, serves more than 500,000 companies. The article above points out that ADP provides services in the areas of payroll and HR to one out of every six workers in the United States. Out of pure curiosity, I checked out ADP’s site to see if any of their employees were among the 128,000 whose jobs were cut by large businesses (more than 500 employees). Fortunately for them, the tide appears to be slow but steady in a positive direction. See, I told you I was an optimist!

However, it would be remiss of us not to address the harrowing employment situation in our summaries. Early in March, I wrote about Ram Charan’s new book Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty. I’m pleased to report that we will be covering Charan’s book in an upcoming Soundview Executive Book Summaries package.

It’s our hope that Charan’s book will serve as a guide to leaders who are facing an increasingly nervy work force, as well as the peering eyes of upper management. Despite hardship, these are the times when motivation and morale are most needed to carry companies through the darkness and into the light.

If you can’t wait for Charan’s summary to debut, we’d recommend you take a look at Soundview’s Survive and Thrive collection.


Avoid Joining Loman’s Legions

I’ve always wondered how Arthur Miller came to select “salesman” as the profession of choice for his most famous character, Willy Loman. During the time in which Miller’s play Death of a Salesman made its stage debut, sales was among the most American of careers. Whether it was an insurance rep cold-calling people while a Lucky Strike burned in his desk’s ashtray, or a smart-suited gent standing in a field of shiny Chevrolets, sales was a position of some stature in any organization. Of course, it may be the sheer volume of rejection that gives plenty of opportunity for tragic underpinnings, but I don’t know if that was the sole motivator behind Miller’s decision.

Take a look at some of the other depictions of salesmen in film and literature and you can see that this “hard luck” element came to dominate the cultural landscape. Who can forget the late John Candy’s sympathetic turn as Del Griffith, “Director of sales, American Light and Fixture, shower curtain ring division” in the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles? David Mamet added to the portfolio with Shelley “The Machine” Levine in his play Glengarry Glen Ross. With the recent announcement that Google, the company thought unassailable by the current financial crisis, will be cutting sales and marketing jobs, there is the temptation to think that many current sales representatives may take on the bleak world view of their pop culture predecessors.

Out of that void, however, I’d rather remind people of a man named Blake. Despite not appearing in Mamet’s original play, this abrasive, intense sales “motivator” exploded onto the screen in the film adaptation of Glengarry. With an equal mix of smolder and brashness, Alec Baldwin gave salesmen everywhere a memorable mantra “A-B-C: Always Be Closing.” Despite the portrayal being an exaggeration of the field, tough times likes these call for a little motivation, and it’s hard not to take something away from Baldwin’s speech.

We’re doing our own part to help the sales cause. Our latest iPhone collection Sales Summaries Volume I is now available. This collection includes Making the Number by Greg Alexander, Aaron Bartels and Mike Drapeau, as well as The Perfect Salesforce by Derek Gatehouse and The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.

Go to iTunes now via your iPhone to download the collection!

New and Improved!
April 2, 2009, 1:49 PM
Filed under: General Business, Internet, Technology | Tags: , , , ,

In times like these, or really, during any time, the most important thing a company can be for its customers is relevant. Otherwise, I fear that without relevancy, speed, and value, companies go the way of the dinosaur. It’s just a fact of life.

So, I am proud to tell you that Soundview has kept all of this in mind, and to increase our share in your time-portfolios (forgive me for the personal finance pun), we have re-launched our Web site.

With the re-launch of the site, we focused on not only upgrading the site with all kinds of valuable resources, but investing in a redesign as well to update the look and feel of the product. I invite you to visit, and find for yourselves:

Faster navigation and downloading: Ramped-up servers save you time when shopping or accessing your online library.

Free content: More than a thousand book reviews, biographical and contact listings on top business authors, and soon-to-come additional audio and video features.

Convenience: A relocated and enhanced log-in, account and cart information, along with site-wide simplified navigation.

Additional Summaries: on top of selecting the 30 best business books of the year and publishing their summaries, Soundview will also be adding more titles from our backlist and exclusive titles from our custom products and services.

Please let us know your thoughts about the new site, and enjoy the enhanced features. I think you will find that the site adds time and value to your work day.