Soundview Executive Book Summaries


One Editor’s Opinion (Part Two)

As promised, I’ve returned with the second book that I felt had a major impact in the past 10 years. While my first post covered John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader because it deals with the leader in all of us, my second choice reflects one of the qualities that should make up the character of any leader: trust. For that reason, I’ve selected Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust as a book that deserves a second look.

While Covey would likely exhibit modesty if compared to his father (management legend Dr. Stephen Covey), the younger Covey’s book The Speed of Trust is a work that could prove to be as influential as some of his father’s writings. As we exit a decade where the American public complained at length about a lack of trust in corporations and the government, trust has continued to grow in importance as a business tool. Executives understand the two-way exchange of trust and its impact on the workplace because of an increased need for honesty on the part of a company’s employees. Corporations that garner a sense of trust on the part of buyers see their products appear in every home. However, as Covey notes, trust is a delicate item and if fractured, the recovery process is long and slow.

Trust will continue to be among the most important concepts that businesses will have to understand as we enter 2010. Life in a world where the majority of business is conducted using technology that the masses can’t readily explain requires a great deal of trust. The by-gone era of handing one’s check to a bank teller and receiving a receipt along with a few $50 bills has been rendered inefficient, but it was far easier to trust the teller than a machine. Just open your e-mail account today and see how many spam messages are hoping that you’ll trust them.

What makes The Speed of Trust one of the best books written on the subject is the way Covey weaves the importance of trust in the workplace together with trust outside of it. The maintenance of trust is one of the most difficult skills to master because too many people today look to dismiss actions as insincere. Leaders in particular walk a delicate line. They hope to gain a good relationship with those they lead, but they must also monitor performance and dictate policy. Covey helps executives establish the best ways to communicate trust and ensure that its flame isn’t prematurely extinguished. Once the candle of trust is out, it can take some time for its light to be lit again.

On behalf of everyone at Soundview Executive Book Summaries have a safe and Happy New Year! We greatly look forward to bringing you the best business books of 2010 and beyond … in a format that makes the most of your time.



One Editor’s Opinion (Part One)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the end of December will see a double-dose of Top Ten lists. Media outlets of all sizes and categories will be cramming in both the best of the year and best of the decade for their respective fields of interest. At the time, I also promised you that I wouldn’t subject you to a similar review of 20 items. Soundview is best known for two things: Bringing you the 30 best business books of the year and helping busy executives save time. So, in keeping with my promise and the business’s premise, I’ll give you my personal opinion on two books that had a major impact this decade. These books are ones from which you might benefit by giving them a second look.

One of the key books to be released between 2000 and 2009 hit the shelves in 2006. Leadership expert John Maxwell had already established a notable legacy of influence in his chosen area of expertise, but he topped his previous achievements with the release of The 360 Degree Leader.

The secret to this book’s success came from its detailed answer to a simple question: how can someone lead if he or she isn’t the boss? Maxwell went beyond the traditional hierarchy in business and demonstrated the strength of one’s leadership skills at any level of an organization. I appreciated the fact that Maxwell’s personable writing style gets in touch with the reader and gives him or her the needed reminder that leadership is hard work. Many leadership books that are published in a given year seem to start midstream, assuming that a person landed a management position with little effort. Maxwell dispels the notion that anything comes easy to a leader. Respect, skill strength and consistency are earned through constant effort and the scrutiny of one’s personal performance.

The 360 Degree Leader is a book I’ve returned to and referenced frequently since its publication. Granted, I’m not the only one who felt that this book had a great impact on her leadership abilities. Our readers responded in droves to our annual survey concerning their favorite titles published during the year. Maxwell was rewarded by winning the 2006 Harold Longman Award as the best business book of the year for The 360 Degree Leader.

I’ll be back later this week with the second business book from the past 10 years that I felt had (and continues to have) great impact on the executive landscape.



A Solution for Gift Anxiety

Well, here we are at a critical moment, folks. For those that celebrate Christmas, the ticking of  the countdown clock gets louder and louder with each passing hour. We may see one or two seasonal medical maladies crop up over the next 36 hours.

There are those who suffer from gift anxiety. Symptoms include a sore mind from wracking one’s brain attempting to figure out a last-minute gift, as well as joint pain from gripping a steering wheel tightly while looking for a parking spot.

In addition, there are those unfortunate souls who are plagued by gift guilt. This condition is generally caused by receiving an unexpected gift from a family member or co-worker for whom you had not intended to purchase anything. The condition tends to be aggravated by the proximity to Christmas when the original gift is given. If you get one of these surprise gifts today, gift guilt may seem unbearable.

Allow me, Dr. Dayton (I’m not a doctor but I play one in this lone blog post), to offer up a very pleasant tonic for your gift-related ills. Soundview is still offering our buy one gift subscription, get a second gift subscription FREE for a limited time. Executives are the first ones to understand the need for time-saving methods. Our eight-page summaries are available in eight digital formats and cover the key business books that every leader needs to read.

So give yourself a break by giving not one, but TWO people a great gift this holiday season. Take advantage of this offer while it’s still available.

From everyone at Soundview, I wish you a very happy holiday season!



Finally … We Can Get Off the Plane!

Let’s face it, for all the convenience that flying offers us in reducing trips of days into hours, the little annoyances have really piled up over the past 10 years. While we all outwardly agree that we’re satisfied with taking a little more time to ensure our safety and security when we travel, there are some things that (in our inner musings) test our patience. Who hasn’t had to throw out a full cup of coffee or bottle of water before entering the security line? I can’t be the only one who has regretted wearing a pair of shoes that proved a bit too difficult to quickly put back on after I’ve cleared the metal detector.

The worst part is that we run this gauntlet time and again only to take our seat and hear this crackly emission from the faceless voice overhead: “Ah folks, good afternoon from the flight deck … ah … we’re in a bit of a delay here … ah …. we’re grounded at present but ah … we’re hoping things will clear up in (insert city) soon and we’ll be able to be on our way. We’re going to ask that you stay seated with those seatbelts fastened and we’ll let you know when we’re ready to taxi out to the runway. We appreciate your patience.”

The problem is that patience has its limits. Unfortunately in today’s society, those limits appear to be measured in seconds rather than minutes, but the point remains that passengers can only sit on a grounded plane for so long. At long last, the government appears to agree. Check out this article from The New York Times that discusses the possibility of fines for airlines that hold passengers on a grounded aircraft for more than three hours.

The airline industry, apart from Southwest Airlines, seems to constantly be the recipient of bad customer sentiment. The leaders in the industry would do well to consult Leslie Gaines-Ross’s influential book Corporate Reputation: 12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation. Our summary of the book makes for a great read when you have a little time to kill … like when you’re waiting for a flight.



Anderson has Internet by the Tail

I read a terrific article this week by Ramana Rao, co-founder and CEO of iCurrent, a San Francisco-based online personalized news service. The article examines the potential for new business models for online content creation. Rao’s discussion of the deepening personalization of content is important because, as he points out, we need to remember that it should not occur at the deletion of mass media.

The Internet is probably the single greatest engine for customization ever invented. The power of search allows each person to create a set of filters that ensures he or she receives only the most relevant grains of sand from the seemingly endless digital desert of information available online. The challenge for those in the content creation business becomes measuring the depth to which to take one’s audience about a particular subject. There are those that theorize that traditional media outlets are at their best when they provide knowledge for the general public, allowing the Internet to provide the forum for deeper and deeper exploration. After all, if a Web site has small, it’s survival rate is much more certain than if a TV network to have a similar audience size.

Rao’s discussion of niche interests stems from his reading of The Long Tail by WIRED magazine Editor in Chief Chris Anderson. Anderson’s book, originally published in 2006, continues to be viewed as an influential title for those looking to understand the ever-shifting world of online business and culture. His examination of the niche markets created by the Internet provides essential insight into the unique connections producers and consumers experience online.

Of course, Anderson followed up this groundbreaking book with an equally impressive title: FREE: The Future of a Radical Price. This book proved to be one of the most impressive titles of the year. Anderson makes an interesting argument for businesses to use zero-price online giveaways as an important business strategy. The book is a much-needed aid to companies that are struggling to evolve from (as Anderson puts it) the economy of atoms into the economy of bits.

For those that have yet to delve into FREE, I should probably mention that our summary of Anderson’s book is available now at Summary.com. Subscribers will receive a copy in their January edition, but individual copies are also available for purchase.



Amazon and Covey Get Exclusive

The big news stories keep on coming in the world of electronic publishing. I wrote a post the other day about the fact that a couple publishers are holding back on the release dates for the e-book editions of popular titles. This was the latest attempt by publishers to find a way to handle the rise in popularity of e-books.

Today brings us the news that Amazon has reached an agreement with legendary business author Stephen R. Covey to be the sole distributor of the e-book versions of several of his titles, including the classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. According to sources, the agreement is (at present) only for one year, but it could be extended should both parties see the success the generally follows anything to which Covey’s name is affixed.

This agreement has led many to speculate about whether other authors will follow Covey’s lead and sign exclusive distribution contracts for their e-book releases. It certainly helps to confirm beliefs that Amazon’s Kindle remains the dominant e-book reading product currently available. For those who are interested, here’s the official news release from the folks at Amazon.

The Covey deal is a meeting of two giants, to say the least. According to Amazon sources, Covey is the 13th best-selling author in the history of the online retailer’s sales.

This is something with which we’re more than a little familiar. When it comes to Covey, Soundview has got you covered. Check out our summary of The 8th Habit and visit Summary.com for more information on Stephen Covey.



Reminder: Soundview Live Today!

Just wanted to put up a quick post to remind everyone that today  is the latest in our exclusive webinar series Soundview Live. Today we’ll be featuring Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, authors of the best-selling book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust.

This event is FREE for all Soundview subscribers. Visit us at this link to sign up! Better hurry, the event kicks off at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. You won’t want to miss the great insights on social media as it pertains to business and global culture.