Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Working With “Y”

I was tempted to write a clever introduction concerning whether or not members of Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1999) are in your midst. Then I realized something vital: this is a blog … on the Internet. There is no other generation who has lived the double-life of virtual and physical existence more than this group. Something tells me that of the numerous readers I have, a good portion of you probably count your birthday somewhere between the years listed above. So, let me start over …

This article came up from the folks at the Guardian in the United Kingdom. While I think the first sentence in the article does more than its share of negative stereotyping, it’s interesting to see that the subject of Gen Y in the workplace continues to get press. We’ve covered it ourselves, both in summaries and in reviews. We’re at a critical juncture in the history of the American work force, and it seems to me that everyone is a touch anxious over where we will go. Suffice to say, Gen Y is currently experiencing one of the roughest job markets in which to enter a work force.

One also has to appreciate the fact that Baby Boomers, the generation that in its youth shifted the focus of everyone from advertisers to political campaigners to the young, are now scratching their greying heads trying to figure out what’s going on with “these kids.” My years may be showing here, but I seem to recall coming of age in an era of economic uncertainty where foreign war made headlines and the environment, social issues and the generation gap were on the minds of many. Throw in a reference to Facebook and an e-mail address, and we’d be looking at Gen Y, wouldn’t we?

The more things change …

P.S.: I mentioned that we reviewed a book on Gen Y. To read it, and dozens of others for FREE, simply sign up at Summary.com.



Taking the Temperature on Climate Change

As I sit here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the temperature is in the mid-80s and we’ve got our usual dose of heavy humidity to start the summer. Meanwhile, a couple hours to our south, the temperature on Capitol Hill is starting to heat up … and global warming is only part of the reason.

While the House of Representatives works on a bill concerning climate change, the debate will swing back and forth over the details of the “cap and trade” concept. I’m not here to comment on the bill itself, but it raises the point that we will likely see more business books in the coming year that deal with the impact of environmental regulation on business. However, there are books that are currently available that take a proactive examination of climate change and sustainability.

One of my favorites is The Necessary Revolutionby Peter Senge, Sara Schley, Nina Kruschwitz, Bryan Smith and Joe Laur. We featured this book in our September 2008 edition, and it was instantly popular with our readers. What’s even more pleasing is that this book’s concepts have only grown in relevance over the last 12 months. Businesses will likely be on the receiving end of the responsibility that is doled out by government legislation. However, they also have a great opportunity to be leaders in changing the way individuals approach the issue of climate change. Sometimes the masses need a bit of a nudge, other times, the consumer is the one to do the nudging. Fortunately, this book covers the bases and more with innovative strategies to help companies solve environmental problems while still maintaining profitability.

Visit us at Summary.com to get your copy of  The Necessary Revolution. It might just help you prepare for “cap and trade,” if Congress can ever agree on anything.



Adversity Coming This Way

Did the title of this post grab your attention? Don’t worry, I’m not here with any doom-and-gloom news to darken your day. Actually, this post started out after I visited the folks at USA Book News to check out some business book info.  In the midst of the various books about creating personal wealth or managing one’s finances, I saw a short review of J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings’ book The Adversity Paradox.

We read story after story in the news about the problems that plague businesses right now. What’s great about Griswell and Jennings’ work is that it helps readers to shoulder the load of adversity and cast it aside, rather than being drowned by it. Both Griswell and Jennings have experienced a good degree of adversity in their own lives. However, both triumphed, and through a process that was full of trial and error, as well as determination, they’ve culminated their experiences in a book that is rich in lessons.

The Adversity Paradox offers great examples that, as the authors point out, are not meant to be magic bullets. One of the things I respected most about the book when I read it is the lack of sugarcoating. Overcoming adversity is difficult work, and there are times when a project may not work out. I loved the fact that the authors are adamant about avoiding the victim mentality and acknowledging one’s personal responsibility for success. This is a book that does not apologize for its forthrightness. It doesn’t need to do so.

The good news is that we’ll be summarizing this book in the August edition of  Soundview Executive Book Summaries. What’s more, subscribers will have access to an exclusive audio interview with Griswell and Jennings. If you’re not a subscriber yet, this is a great time to come on board!



Answers About Our Product and the iPhone

We’ve gotten a few e-mails in response to our iPhone apps. The feedback has been very positive to this point, and we’re very pleased that everyone is enjoying the apps. The one question that we receive more than any other, however, is, “When can I get a subscription to Soundview on the iPhone?”

The iPhone and its applications, as you’re aware, are constantly evolving. While we’re not at the point yet where we can offer our subscription product in this way, we’re researching it. It’s always our objective to deliver our summaries in the ways in which our subscribers want to read them. Sticking with one format for presenting one’s product is generally a means to a quick exit from the business world. You have to know when to move ahead and when to leave things in the past. Look at Kodak who announced today that they’re retiring their world-famous Kodachrome film after 74 years.

Fear not, iPhone fans. Keep your eyes on this blog and you’ll be the first to know when Soundview offers a subscription via the iPhone.



Father’s Day: A time to relax … and read!
June 19, 2009, 1:44 PM
Filed under: Books in General | Tags: , , ,

I came across this list while looking at a local news Web site for the Philadelphia area where our office is located. It drew my eye instantly because the top pick on this list is a book that has been popular among our subscribers since it was first featured in our June 2007 edition. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith’s exploration of the nuances that separate the top echelon of leaders from the masses.

This got me thinking about other summaries we’ve done that might be a good fit for dads everywhere this Father’s Day. How about The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins? If your dad is new to management, this book could be a great way to help him get off to a good start. In light of the fact that companies are trying to do more work with less members of staff, people of all ages are being placed in new roles all the time.

Another great book for dads is High Altitude Leadershipby Chris Warner and Don Schmincke. This recent summary is as entertaining as it is informative. Where else can you get leadership advice from a pair of authors, one of whom is a master strategist, the other of whom is one of a handful of Americans to successfully summit Mount Everest and K2? It’s a summary that reads as well while laying in the hammock as it does while sitting behind a desk. 

Then again, you could always go the extra mile and give dad a subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere!



Everyone Loves a Reunion

If there’s one thing I can say about our subscribers, it’s that they’re vocal about the authors they enjoy. Fortunately for us, you folks have great taste! It’s not easy to pick the 30 best business books each year. Take a look at the books that made the cut in 2008, for example. With such high standards and such a small window of opportunity, you’d think that being selected once would be an odds-defying task.

Well, as our July 2009 edition indicates, some authors make such a connection with us and with you that we’d be foolish not to select their newest works. I won’t lie. We take a very critical look at books from authors whose work we’ve previously featured. Part of our job is to ensure that subscribers get the most complete picture of the latest in business strategy and philosophy. However, there are certain authors who impress us time and again with their ability to capture the moment in today’s business climate while always keeping an eye on the future.

Ram Charan is one such author. We’re featuring a summary of his book Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertaintyin our July issue. Charan is something of a force of nature. He’s a prolific author and collaborator whose work covers a variety of business subjects. Click here to see the volume of great insight he’s provided over the years.

Also included in our July package is The Power Presenterby Jerry Weissman. Weissman is another author whose works previously made our 30 best. His popularity continues to register with our readers. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s the presentation coach for Microsoft. Not a bad name to have on one’s resume, right?

Our July package concludes with The Three Laws of Performanceby Dave Logan and Steve Zaffron. This is the first book from this pair of authors that was selected for summary. Once you delve into what makes the three laws tick, I think you’ll quickly see why it was an easy choice for us … if such a thing is possible.

For more on the July 2009 edition, visit us at Summary.com.



The Apple of Our “i”

OK, raise your hand if the highlight of your week will be the release of the next version of the iPhone? I have to admit, for all of my forays into blogging, mp3s and online commerce, I’m a little behind the times when it comes to phones. My kids love nothing more than to poke fun at my heavy-handed attempts at text messaging. Feel free to raise your hand if this has happened to you as well. I’m just looking for a little sympathy.

The point is that Apple is on the verge of vaulting yet again to the front pages of news Web sites everywhere. This will no doubt have ramifications for us at Soundview. How? As you can imagine, to arrive at the 30 best business books each year, we look at thousands of submissions. I do not exaggerate. The post office and various private couriers know our address by heart. From these piles of books, we whittle our way down to the top 30. When it comes to books that deal with marketing , leadership and change management, Apple is frequently the top case study mentioned in these volumes. The company’s ability to reinvent itself from what many considered a secondary computer producer to a cutting-edge purveyor of revolutionary technology is nothing short of astonishing. So, I fully anticipate that Apple launching yet another version of the product that many felt would never fly (“Apple? In the phone business?”) will lead to more books landing on our desks. The more success Apple generates for itself, the more business authors and analysts try to dissect its methods for purposes of reproduction.

Oh, and for those of you who originally raised your hands about the iPhone release, did I mention that Soundview is offering a FREE iPhone app right now? Click on this link and take advantage of this limited-time offer while you can!



Is This YOU? (Or just someone you know?)

You may or may not know, but we offer a free e-newsletter entitled Soundview Executive Book Alert. The writer of this monthly look into the hot and the hidden in the world of books is a good colleague of mine. When he reviewed Grown Up Digital, by Wikinomics author Don Tapscott, my friend wrote, “What else are you doing while reading this review?” The implication is that no one can simply sit and read anything anymore. Looking at one screen isn’t enough, so the average reader is probably texting or checking e-mail while reading any article or blog post (this one included, I’m sure).

Apparently, this prevailing trend is starting to irk more than a few people, particularly in today’s sensitive business environment. Here’s one story that gives a perspective on this new era of digital rudeness. In the first five to seven years after e-mail became the standard of communication for the modern office, we were treated to dozens of business books that included a chapter on “e-mail etiquette.” In fact, it became so prevalent that my editorial colleagues and I would groan if we saw a top-ten list that started with “Don’t use all caps. This gives the appearance of shouting.” WE KNOW!

In contrast to e-mail etiquette, the digital distraction debate brings up some questions of genuine merit. Is there such a thing as being too plugged-in? As noted in the article above, the inability to focus on one task for a concentrated period of time may lead to more careless errors. Additionally, the evaporation of our attention spans creates changes in how we present and receive content. It’s possible that we’re reaching a point where even the shortest message isn’t safe from being knocked aside by distraction. How do we differentiate in a world where everything is labeled “urgent?” How people answer this last question, combined with the evolving world of PDA etiquette will make for interesting analysis over the next few years.

If you can look away from your iPhone long enough, catch Soundview at the annual conference of the Special Libraries Association. The show takes place from Sunday, June 14 through Wednesday, June 17 in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Soundview will be located in BOOTH #1142. Stop by and inquire about our corporate site license program. We’re looking forward to seeing you!



Books That May Catch Your Eye in July

Taking a stroll through some of the lists of upcoming business titles, there are a few interesting reads on the horizon. Here’s a quick peek at a pair of titles:

Create Your Own Economy by Tyler Cowen (Slated for July 2009 hardcover release). With its subtitle promising “The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World,” this book would appear to be a how-to on entrepreneurship. Incorrect! Cowen’s look at behavioral economics actually contains an examination of the ways in which behavioral economics mirrors autistic behavior. The autistic tendency toward categorizing stimuli is something Cowen believes to be a strength in economics. It is a strange and, one might postulate, controversial central argument, but it makes this book highly anticipated amongst our editors.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich (Slated for July 2009 hardcover release). A business book as a beach read? Believe it, folks. It seems like even the publisher is selling it as such. Why else would they subtitle this book “A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal”? Toss in the fact that Mezrich is the author of the best seller Bringing Down the House, later adapted into the movie 21. With this book alleged to also be receiving the Tinseltown treatment, this book should be receiving a good bit of press. What we’d like to know is whether or not Mezrich found time to include relevant take-aways for executives looking to leverage their own company via the Facebook phenomenon.

If these two titles are any indication, it should be an exciting couple of months in our editorial department. Don’t forget to visit us at Summary.com to see which books are selected as one of the 30 best of 2009.



The Business of Business Books

I saw an interesting item from Publishers Weekly that I thought I’d bring to your attention. This feature deals with the impact of the economy on the business book market, and is worth a read, but in particular, I was pleased to see them mention the following:

Amacom executive editor Ellen Kadin says, ‘Most companies manage using two sets of rules: the playbook they use for better times and the one they adopt in anticipation of—or in response to—economic downturns. But Philip Kotler and John Caslione, the authors of Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence, point out that when economic turbulence hits, traditional strategy is worthless, and even skilled business leaders tend to make bad management mistakes.’ Kadin notes that not only does Chaotics have a global message but it seems to have global appeal as well: translation rights have already sold in 22 languages.”

Sound intriguing? Well, if you’re a subscriber, you’re in luck. Let’s just say there is an excellent chance that Chaotics could be featured in an upcoming edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries. Our editorial staff also conducted an interview with co-author John A. Caslione. He gave us some great insight into the heart of the Chaotics management method. We were really impressed with Caslione’s explanation of the point that Kadin makes above. Businesses are more likely than ever before to know periods of feast and famine, and these eras will be shorter in duration yet more frequent in occurrence. With that in mind, Chaotics gives readers an excellent method to use one management style that operates under both sets of conditions. Stay tuned to this blog and I’ll let you know when and where this exclusive interview will be available.

Also, I wanted to remind our subscribers that tomorrow is the big Soundview Live Web event with Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust. If you’re not a subscriber, go to this link to learn how you can sign up and join us for our next FREE subscribers-only event!