Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Trust and Responsibility

Hands up if you’ve used Wikipedia today. It looks like there’s one group that won’t be welcome to post on the site for awhile: the Church of Scientology. Now before everyone starts throwing out Tom Cruise jokes and South Park quotes (yes, I have teenagers, and yes, I’ve seen the Scientology episode), I’d prefer us to examine the heart of the issue. It’s something that will continue to increase in frequency as social media evolves and changes. I’m referring to trust. Wikipedia’s decision to block IP addresses that come from known Scientology sources is the result of the organization breaking one of the Web site’s major rules: posts must maintain neutrality. The Church of Scientology is alleged to have promoted its own agenda when making or editing posts on Wikipedia. The fact that this occurred on several occasions led the Web giant to take extreme action.

But what does this really mean to you and I? From the moment the words “Web site” entered our everyday parlance, they’ve come along with that famous grain of salt with which were supposed to take info gleaned from the online world. Wikipedia’s actions demonstrate a continued need for policing in those instances when trust is violated. It’s also interesting to note that this news arrives on the same day that President Obama announces the creation of a cyber security office in the White House. With the Web being a tool which we can no longer live without, we are as much a part of the trust equation as those with malicious intentions. Continued cooperation between Web site host and user will be necessary to ensure that there remain some places where we can possibly believe some of what we read.

Since we’re on the topic of trust, don’t forget to check out our next Soundview Live event with Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust. Subscribers will have the opportunity to interact with Stephen beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 9, 2009. If you’re not a subscriber, visit Summary.comto find out how you can join us on June 9th.

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All a-Twitter

I’m sure my subject line today is as original as writing “Seventh Heaven” after a sports team wins a seven-game series. However, it’s the week after Memorial Day, and we’re all dragging a bit. A couple of individuals who aren’t dragging, by any means, are Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Don’t know them? You probably have been affected by their creation, or at least, you’ve asked your kids about it. The pair created Twitter, the social media site that allows individuals to create 140-character, text-based posts, called “Tweets.” Check out this Wall Street Journal blog that features an interview with the creators of Twitter and gives a small behind-the-scenes peek.

Whether you’re a long-time tweeter or someone who’s new to the platform, it does offer an interesting way to follow friends, family and other favorite people without investing much of your time. Around the Soundview editorial offices, we first heard about Twitter from our friend Guy Kawasaki, author of Reality Check. Here’s his Twitter page, one of the favorites of our editors.

And while you’re online checking out Guy’s entertaining Twitter page, check out ours. You can follow Soundview on Twitter by clicking on this link.  Scroll down and you can see one of our Tweets about Guy Kawasaki. Sort of brings this whole post full circle, doesn’t it? Maybe I’m not as tired as I thought.



Never Stop Learning

Here’s a surprising little statistic that I discovered while doing some research: A poll on the Web site of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) asked the following question, “How much has the learning budget in your organization changed in the past 6 months?” While 33 percent noted no change,  65 percent of respondents said that their training budget has decreased. Oh, by the way, zero percent said their budget had increased.

I was talking with one of our editors the other day, and he mentioned that he had just finished interviewing J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings, authors of The Adversity Paradox. In their book, the authors explore the idea of “human capital”: investments in oneself that lead to personal development. One of the components of human capital is to cultivate and continually refine a lifelong thirst for knowledge. This is an essential trait for leaders at every level of an organization because a thirst for knowledge ensures that we’re constantly evolving.

It’s sad to think that this is one of the first areas of a budget to face the axe when companies are looking to trim expenses. I have a feeling the folks at ASTD will not stand for this action. And Soundview will be standing right alongside them. Continued training and education are hugely important in the development and success of an organization. Join us from May 31 to June 3 in Washington D.C. at the ASTD’s 2009 International Conference and Exposition.

We’ll be located in BOOTH #2017. While I personally won’t be there (someone has to keep writing this blog!), you’ll have the chance to meet our Corporate Learning team. What’s more, you’ll get the opportunity to check out the Expo Hall for FREE** if you come to see us. Check out this link for more information.

** Please note: the Free Expo-Only Pass permits access to the Exposition Hall only. If you are interested in attending any general session keynotes or conference learning sessions, please complete a full registration at this link. Note: This link is for online registration only. To attend the actual event, you must register in-person in Washington D.C. beginning May 28.



The Heart of Trust

I make it a point to always put my personal politics aside when I sit down to write this blog. But I’ll admit it can be difficult to come off non-partisan, even when writing about subjects that seem devoid of politics. Sometimes I’ll stumble across a headline that I think would make for decent material, like this one that I read today. Then, I think twice because I want this blog to be free of the arguments that clog up so many blogs and message boards.

So, let’s just say that one of the issues at the heart of the above story sparked me to write about trust. A quick title search, courtesy of our friends at Barnes & Noble, brings back more than 2,500 business books relating to the subject of ethics alone. The word “trust” generates more than 500 results. It’s such a delicate subject area in the realm of business. Unfortunately, it seems as though the public stands on one cliff, businesses stand on the opposite cliff, and a mighty chasm divides the two. Actually, it’s somewhat unfair to paint business with a broad brush. Even amongst individuals, the trust level hovers somewhere less than 50%.

Surprisingly, the U.S. is actually one of the more trusting nations in the world. Check out the findings of this social trust survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. There’s some interesting reading in this report, although, it mainly deals with person-to-person trust, not person-to-business. Either way, the financial industry certainly hasn’t done its best to aid consumer trust over the last several years.

One person who is an absolute expert on trust is author Stephen M.R. Covey. We’ve previously summarized his book The Speed of Trust. As he notes, trust is the one thing that changes everything. We’re pleased to announce that he’s about to bring his message of trust directly to our subscribers!

Stephen will be joining us on Tuesday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. (EST) for our next edition of Soundview Live. Click here to learn more about Soundview Live and to see how you can sign up and join us for an hour of great conversation and insight. Stephen is a dynamic speaker and you’ll gain a lot from listening to this event. Trust me.



Welcome to the Real World

Despite the calendar telling us otherwise, the month of May signals the start of summer for people in many parts of the U.S. It also marks the start of a different season, one that involves caps, gowns and the emptying of dormitories and apartments everywhere. For students, this is a time of farewells coupled with new beginnings. For parents, it can be a time of new anxieties as children enter another new phase of their lives. This year, though, don’t be surprised if you find claw marks on the walls of the dorms as students try to avoid marching headlong into a less-than-friendly job market.

The amazing thing is that this group of future leaders and executives are probably more prepared, at least, from a technological standpoint, for working than any previous generation. They’ve been plugged in and over-scheduled since birth. What’s amusing are the things they don’t know. Every year since 1997, Beloit College in Wisconsin produces its “Mindset List.” This list helps to remind college professors that their incoming students may be unaware of facts that our generation (and previous ones) takes for granted.  Here are a few of my favorites for the Class of 2009 (born, on average, in 1987):

  • Voice mail has always been available.
  • Bill Gates has always been worth at least $1 billion.
  • Halogen lights have always been available (with a warning)

The complete list is located here. There are a few other items that I felt should have been included in the list. For example,  the Class of 2009  has virtually no memory of a Soviet Union or a divided Germany. The Macintosh computer is older than this group. To these folks, a bank teller is the person they are forced to speak with if the ATM is broken.

After reading this list, I sincerely hope I haven’t depressed anyone with these revelations. But then again, you and I aren’t the ones staring down the most cutthroat job market in decades, are we? To help them along, why not give your graduates a gift subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries? At a price of only $79, you can save 34%!  This offer is for the online subscription, something this green-conscious and tech-savvy generation will appreciate.

Plus, as a special bonus gift, they’ll receive the Cutter &  Buck American classic leather coffee tumbler for their morning coffee. Considering that a certain coffee retailer began overrunning cities with its green awnings the year they were born, these kids have grown up caffeinated. Your graduates will receive an email announcing your gift along with your personal message, and the coffee mug will be sent to them by mail.

Click here to give your grad an extra boost of concentrated knowledge!



The Long, Slow Road to Recovery

Feel free to come out from under your beds, folks. Happy days are here again.

Really?

Perhaps the people at the above media outlet should check some of the 240+ comments that were logged in the aftermath of this report hitting the airwaves. I’d tell you to check it out as well, but trust me, there are far more productive ways to spend your time. You have to cut through a lot of vitriolic remarks concerning both our current and previous president to get to statements of any relevance. The comments that did discuss the economy seemed to confirm that the public is not ready to accept that all is well from sea to shining sea.

Judging by the reports we receive from various publishers, the public’s desire for books relating to the current economic situation has not decreased. It’s gotten to the point where even individuals in specific fields are looking to address how to ride out the storm in their industries. Some may view this as opportunistic, but the market for this type of information is proving to be larger than anticipated.

We’ve answered this response ourselves in recent times. Visit Summary.com to see our Survive and Thrive Collection, one of several products we’re currently featuring that are the result of reader demand. We’re committed to providing the most relevant advice from the top business minds.

While nothing would please us more than to remove these items due to lack of need, we’re prepared to continue the flow of information for the duration of the recession. Don’t believe the hype. The road to recovery is long, but we’re with you every step of the way.



A Bowl Full of Trouble

Imagine my surprise when I saw headlines like this one while trying to eat breakfast today. I’ll give you one guess as to what yellow box of cereal was sitting in front of me, as it has nearly every weekday for the past decade or more.

General Mills has its share of explaining to do in the wake of the challenge by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has taken umbrage with the food company’s claim that Cheerios can lower cholestrol. The regulator says this sort of statement,which appears to suggest that a cereal can prevent heart disease, is reserved for FDA-approved drugs.

Semantics aside, this incident proves that companies are forced to walk an ever-finer line in the promotion of their products. In times of heavy competiton, even corporate giants such as General Mills are willing to take risks to ensure that a smaller company’s product doesn’t overtake their place at the breakfast table. While regional treats remain one of the great parts of American grocery shopping, there is increased awareness of products that previously stayed local. This means that even a small food manufacturer can have a “stretch plan” of one day appearing on supermarket shelves across the country. No wonder General Mills is willing to vaguely claim its product can prevent heart disease. The anxiety caused by the competition is enough to give it a heart attack!

Sounds to me like the good folks at General Mills could do with our Business Survival Skills iPhone app. This app, one of three new apps to debut recently, includes three great summaries that are designed to help you get up and keep fighting while others are down for the count. At only $9.99, it’s a download that’s as affordable as it is informative.