Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Terrifying Tales from the Business Book Crypt

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” These words were written in 1927 by H.P. Lovecraft, an author who many feel will never be surpassed in the genre of macabre fiction.

Lovecraft’s statement dovetails an argument I made in a recent blog post about what terrifies society at present. What transpires in the world’s financial markets on a daily basis is frightening, but by the time we read about it, we’re already well within its icy grip. The more terrifying prospect is what could potentially occur in the future. This is unknown that resides at the core of all our fears.

Business books have latched onto this sense of dread from time to time, particularly when it comes to discussions of economics. We’ve seen the U.S. economy compared to everything from a blood-hungry night-stalker to a stumbling somnambulist preparing to feast on a human picnic. The latter comparison brings up an interesting thought. Any great film that deals with the undead hinges on the tension created by the characters’ pursuit of survival. Whether it’s 28 Days Later or George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, being plunged into a sudden crisis forces the protagonists into quick thinking while order collapses around them.

When a business falls into a crisis situation, those hungry legions come in the form of creditors, vendors and customers, all looking for their bite of the body of the organization. In Soundview’s new summary of Shaun O’Callaghan’s Turnaround Leadership: Making Decisions, Rebuilding Trust and Delivering Results After a Crisis, the author provides simple, logical advice to help keep the horrors of crisis management at bay. With decades of experience in turnarounds and corporate restructuring, O’Callaghan’s book is a must-read in an economic climate where one bad quarter can be the difference between bankruptcy and survival.

Take a little fear out of the unknown and pick up a copy of the summary of Turnaround Leadership. To get your copy, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Combine a NEW Summary with Free Sales Resources

If you listened to the recent installment of Soundview’s Author Insight Series featuring author Jill Konrath, you may have heard her discuss some free resources that accompany her book SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers. For those who may not be familiar with it, Soundview’s Author Insight Series is an mp3 available to Soundview subscribers that features a 10 to 15 minute interview with the author of each of our 30 Best Business Books. The reason these interviews are a monthly must-listen is the exclusive content the authors’ reveal in a casual conversation.

Konrath discussed the power of trigger events to help boost sales, as well as how to make your sales approach more simple. At the conclusion of the interview, she mentioned some additional free resources that readers can access. Although Soundview’s Author Insight Series is available only to Soundview subscribers, I wanted to make sure that Konrath’s free resources were provided for everyone. If you visit this link, you can access Konrath’s Buyer’s Matrix (discussed in SNAP Selling), as well as her Value Proposition Generator and her guide Nine Tips to Get Prospects to Call You Back.

If you’re a salesperson and are finding it more difficult to connect with prospects who claim they are just too busy, you should definitely take the time to read Soundview’s summary of SNAP Selling. Visit Soundview at Summary.com to learn how you can get your copy of this book summary!



Sony Ends an Old-Time Innovation

Believe it or not, in some parts of the world, Sony was still producing and selling its cassette-based Walkman product. The real surprise comes when one learns that one of those countries still capable of buying a Walkman was Japan, a nation renowned for its almost obsessive interest in developing and selling the newest electronic products. Take a look at this article from The Washington Post that details Sony’s decision to stop selling the cassette player in Japan. Journalist Rob Pegoraro demonstrated an adroit bit of word-craft when he wrote, “By six years after its 1979 debut, the Walkman had become the iPod of its day.”

Those that lived through the cassette era understand that this statement is not hyperbole. The impact of Sony’s introduction of the Walkman is still mentioned alongside Apple’s introduction of the iPod as product launches that caused a tectonic shift in culture and industry. Business books such as Adam Richardson’s Innovation X and The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor discuss the impact of Sony’s device.

In fact, the attributes that made the Walkman such a groundbreaking device are nearly identical to those mentioned in discussions of the iPod more than two decades later. For the generation that grew up with the device, the Walkman offered portability and, more importantly, the ability to customize one’s music selections. Entire books have been written on the unique aspects of customization in the world of cassettes.

While the Walkman lost its relevance in American culture somewhere between the advent of the CD and the mp3, the business ramifications of Sony’s invention still teach us lessons today. Perhaps the most important lesson is the one reiterated by Pegoraro in his article:

With the massive head start the Walkman gave it in the portable-listening market, Sony should have owned digital music. Instead, it embarked on a disastrous experiment with proprietary file formats, proprietary sync software and proprietary “digital rights management” controls. By the time it gave up on all those things in 2007, Sony had been reduced to yet-another-vendor status in the MP3-player business.

For more summaries on innovation in business, visit Soundview’s Web site: Summary.com.



Tomorrow’s Work Force Weary at the Polls

It’s no secret that the Soundview Editor’s blog is not a place where we talk politics. However, as election day approaches, there’s no harm in us taking a look at voter-related stories that have a business edge but no political bearing. For instance, Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, put out a press release yesterday concerning a study of the Millennial generation and its opinions on the upcoming election.

One of the more interesting findings is that the generation who helped propel the spirit of hope and change during the 2008 presidential election is now less enthusiastic about the voting and campaign processes. I was particularly struck by this quote from John Della Volpe, Director of Polling for the Institute of Politics:

“In 2008, Millennials took control of their own destiny, entered the political process and changed the direction of the country.  Two years later, the challenges they face as a generation could not be higher. Let’s hope they reverse the current decline in interest and participation, and continue the process of becoming this era’s defining political force.”

Millennials are in the spotlight right now as they are beginning to alter the world of politics. They also are a major focus for observers of the business world. In fact, one of the new summaries that Soundview recently published deals with the potential impact of this group arriving in the workplace. In The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, authors Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd examine the ramifications of this large, paradigm-shifting group and how they will interact with the existing generations that currently occupy the offices and cubicles in every company.

One of the best ways you can keep up with the changes that occur in business is to become a Soundview subscriber. Join up today and get your copy of The 2020 Workplace!



Three New Summaries: No Tricks, Just Treats

Crushing unemployment numbers? Record levels of home foreclosures? As Halloween approaches, the morning’s headlines are far scarier than any horror film that appears in theaters or on your TV screen. In business the best way to face a daunting future is to arm oneself with knowledge. Soundview has three new summaries to help you guide your company through the darkest night into a brighter tomorrow.

The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd: The multi-generations that will make up the workforce in 2020 will place new demands on employers who will be challenged to manage employees who have vastly different values, beliefs and expectations. The 2020 Workplace can be a useful guide to help you and your organization create tomorrow’s workplace of choice.

Snap Selling by Jill Konrath: In SNAP Selling, Jill Konrath alerts us to the fact that we are on the edge of a new age in selling — it’s no longer a numbers game. Today, you actually will be more successful if you make fewer calls, meetings and presentations. Konrath offers four SNAP rules to win more sales, and she teaches us that sales is an outcome not a goal.

Turnaround Leadership by Shaun O’Callaghan: Shaun O’Callaghan pinpoints five areas of leadership expertise that need to be mastered to recover after a crisis brought on by changes in technology or a company-specific issue such as a product failure or new competition in the marketplace. Learn the warning signs of an impending crisis and how to rebuild a business after a crisis has hit.

If you’re a current Soundview subscriber, make sure you log-in to your online library and check out these great new titles.

Now is a great time to sign-up for a Soundview subscription! Find out just how easy it is to gain the knowledge of the 30 best business books released each year in a fraction of time … and at a tiny percentage of the cost!



New Ideas to Get Your Business Seeing 2020

While combing through my e-mails the other day, I saw one from an old colleague of mine. She is a long-time Soundview subscriber. During the normal course of our e-mail conversation, amid the family updates and notes on books we’ve recently read, she usually mentions something about our latest set of summaries. This time around, she made a comment that caused me to smile. She wrote, “Just finished The 2020 Workplace. Great summary! They definitely made me look around my office and try to picture that next crop of workers filling some of our empty cubicles. Also wondered about the title. Do you think they went with 2020 as a way to make people think of 20/20 vision?”

I laughed when I read this line because it was a topic of conversation when Soundview’s editorial department was first considering The 2020 Workplace for summary. Have you ever had an experience where you’re looking at a painting with someone and you notice something the artist has possibly hidden in the piece? You wonder whether the other person can see it, and it’s usually quite funny when you have to practically point it out. That’s how I felt about the title The 2020 Workplace, and it’s been fun to see how many people pick up on this thought after seeing the title for the first time.

Soundview had the opportunity to interview Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd, the authors of The 2020 Workplace, and while secret meanings behind the book’s title did not come up in our conversation, many other insights were shared. In fact, they tell a story about an organization that defies all preconceived notions about the security risks of social technology. Who is it? You’ll have to check out Meister and Willyerd’s appearance on  Soundview’s Author Insight Series. This interview is available exclusively to Soundview subscribers, but it’s never been easier to join the ranks of Soundview’s network of thought-leaders.

I think it’s safe to say that connections between this title and 20/20 vision are pure coincidence. However, there’s little doubt that reading this summary will help make your vision of the future of the workplace a little more clear.



Wal-Mart Goes Local for Harvest Season

As more and more companies search for ways to create sustainability, retail giant Wal-Mart is making its own strides in the green movement. In this Associated Press article, the retailer reveals its five-year plan to increase the amount of locally-grown produce it features in its stores. The company also hopes to lower the amount of food waste at its stores by as much as 15 percent depending on the market. It’s not clear whether the retailer’s plan is in response to the growing number of consumers who support “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaigns that draw business away from Wal-Mart and toward smaller farms and produce retailers.

What I found intriguing is Wal-Mart’s plan to educate local farmers on sustainable agricultural practices and ways to increase efficiency. The company would like to train more than 1 million farmers in emerging markets on crop selection and sustainable farming techniques. While some may criticize this decision as an attempt to paper over a low-cost supply chain, Wal-Mart deserves some credit for attempting to create a commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Soundview has previously covered the topics of sustainability and consumer demand for green products. If you’re looking for great book summaries on these topics, I’d highly recommend the following two titles.

Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. The percentage of customers who base buying decisions on a product’s eco-sensibility is increasing. In this summary, Goleman examines the shift in transparency and how it plays into succeeding in the developing eco-marketplace. If you read the summary and want to learn more, Soundview also held an excellent installment of Soundview Live that featured Goleman discussing Ecological  Intelligence.

The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, Sara Schley, Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz and Joe Lau. If sustainability is a subject about which you need complete understanding, few books handle the topic better than this one. Senge and his co-authors deliver memorable takeaways that will help any executive direct his or her business toward a profitable approach to solving global environmental issues.

For these and other great titles, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com to learn more!