Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: The Truth About Leadership

The December edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries features The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. The authors combine decades of experience in the areas of leadership and executive coaching. The pair have conducted research in the areas of leadership for more than 30 years. Throughout this research and their work with hundreds of organizations, more than 1 million individuals responded to Kouzes and Posner’s “Leadership Assessment” exercise. As they reviewed their data time and again, patterns for leadership success began to appear. The authors were able to codify these patterns into a template of 10 leadership truths.

Readers will immediately appreciate the straightforward presentation of the material by Kouzes and Posner. They are among the most readable, enjoyable authors in the area of leadership. Each chapter of The Truth About Leadership details one of the 10 truths. The truths are reinforced with poignant stories from the authors’ decades of research. It would be difficult to forget the authors’ tale about Angela Gu, an assistant controller for Wal-Mart China. She perfectly illustrates their truth “Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart.” [Editor’s Note: Angela’s story is featured in the Soundview Summary, available now at Summary.com] The combination of these real-life examples helps reinforce the authors’ points and prevents The Truth About Leadership from suffering from the rehashed template that plagues other leadership books.

Kouzes and Posner have much to offer leaders at any level of an organization. The Truth About Leadership is a natural follow-up to the pair’s previous successful book The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. In fact, The Truth About Leadership combines the best factors of both the more practical Leadership Challenge and the authors’ more philosophical title A Leader’s Legacy. As the authors write, “There are fundamental principles that inform and support the practices of leadership that were true 30 years ago, are true today and will be true 30 years from now.” This statement, and the principles it describes, support why the need to read this book is a truth no leader can ignore.



Is Black Friday … Overrated?

Consumers … start your engines! I wanted to start off this Soundview blog post by saying that Americans are preparing for “The —– —- of Shopping,” drawing an analogy to “The Big Game” that takes place at the conclusion of every football season. But as too many marketers are painfully aware, there is one organization that is very sensitive about anyone coupling the noun”bowl” with the adjective “super”.Maybe the more accurate correlation is to compare Black Friday to the Daytona 500. Consumers line up in the starting grid and when the green flag waves, the rush begins. Inevitably there are bound to be a few accidents along the way.

This year’s celebration of mass consumption is renewing debate about the relevance of Black Friday. In an era when more and more people do their shopping online, the need to camp out in the hopes of snagging a  discounted item is coming under scrutiny. Here’s an article from a CNN columnist who posits that the best deals are already (0r soon to be) online. This is particularly the case if one is shopping for electronics. As the article indicates, there is a prevailing belief that some of the best deals are only found online. Online shopping is predicted to rise 9 to 16 percent this year, more than four to eight times as much as brick-and-mortar retail shopping.

Soundview is doing its part to make your holiday shopping a little easier. If you visit Summary.com right now, you can take advantage of Soundview’s Holiday Offer. Buy one gift subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries and get a second gift subscription FREE! There are three subscription options from which to choose.

Plus, you might be interested in the special drawing for one of this season’s most-wanted gifts, if you buy a gift subscription.

If you’ve got a busy executive on your shopping list, skip the travel mugs, laptop cases and smartphone skins and give him or her comprehensive coverage of the 30 best business books of the year in eight digital formats.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!



Book Review: The New Experts

Customer loyalty is dead. So claims business growth expert and author Robert H. Bloom in his new book The New Experts: Win Today’s Newly Empowered Customers at Their 4 Decisive Moments. The business book, recently summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries, discusses Bloom’s “Four Decisive Customer Moments.” These four moments form a strategy to attempt to capture the attention, as well as the business, of an empowered, distracted consumer base.

The New Experts offers a fascinating look at how the buying public shifted from reactive to proactive and gained control of the purchasing process. However, the book’s greatest strength is the system of four specific moments Bloom names as the turning points for an interaction between seller and potential customer. Bloom emphasizes that the role of the seller is to attempt to create preference with the buyer, a quality that Bloom insists is different from loyalty.

Each of the four decisive moments demonstrate Bloom’s unique perspective on the current marketplace. During Bloom’s career, he helped craft and implement growth strategies for companies such as BMW, L’Oreal, Nestle and Southwest Airlines. Of particular importance is the first moment, the “Now-or-Never Moment.” In an interview with Soundview Executive Book Summaries, Bloom said the following:

The four moments are co-dependent and sequential. If you don’t win the customer at the Now-or-Never Moment, you never get to the second, third or fourth. You have to be alert and you have to continue to create preference, not loyalty, for your brand.

Through concise, instructive writing, Bloom empowers sellers with the method to create the customer preference he describes above. Based on the statistics that appear in the book, the sense of urgency created by Bloom’s text is not overstated. With a global network of sellers from which to choose, buyers are truly in command. The New Experts provides an opportunity for any reader to gain a more level foothold.

For more information on the business book summary of Robert Bloom’s The New Experts, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



What Killed the Celtic Tiger?
November 19, 2010, 10:16 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I sat in the offices of Soundview this morning, it took a considerable amount of time for me to craft a headline worthy of this story. Over the next several days, you’re likely to read a number of articles about the European Union’s talks to extend a bailout to the debt-ridden Republic of Ireland. I wanted to avoid all of the stereotypical, pun-filled headlines like “Erin Go Broke” and “A Debt as Big as Galway Bay.” The riddle of what happened to Ireland’s economy, once a hallmark of the success of the European Union, is troubling for global economic analysts.

The blame for the country’s current woes seems to be spread among the usual suspects when financial crises occur: politicians, bankers and a public duped by its own desires. There will no doubt be columnists in the United States who attempt to draw easy comparisons between Ireland’s woes and those that beset the U.S. during the global financial crisis that began in 2008. The Irish have never been shy about pointing the finger at “plastic Paddys” who attempt to identify with things that are unique to the Republic. This crisis is no exception.

While the negotiating team from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund pore over Ireland’s books, I’d suggest that Americans stateside who sympathize with the plight of the Emerald Isle remember that the U.S. still isn’t entirely out of the woods. In fact, Soundview covered this notion in an issue of Soundview Executive Book Alert, one of three FREE e-newsletters available at Soundview’s Web site Summary.com. Economists J. Bradford De Long and Stephen S. Cohen examined what will happen when the U.S. loses its standing as an economic power. They caution that if the U.S. doesn’t make key shifts in its economic policy, the Bald Eagle is likely to join the Celtic Tiger on the list of endangered species.



An Overwhelming Reaction to Soundview Live

WOW! Our subscribers certainly know how to make themselves heard. I cannot thank you enough for your overwhelming response to yesterday’s Soundview Live event with Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D. If you missed it, don’t worry! You’ll get the chance to hear it again as soon as the event debuts in our Soundview Live Webinar Archive.

The sheer number of questions and comments generated during the course of our live webinar with Sutton revealed a few points of interest that I thought I’d discuss below. It was a day when standard operating procedures flew out the window.

It was obvious from the outset that this was a Soundview Live event for which the audience was well prepared. I think the moderator had barely begun his introduction when seven questions appeared on the screen for Sutton. This question queue grew tenfold over the next 60 minutes. In fact, we were inundated with so many questions for Sutton that we extended the event beyond 60 minutes for only the second or third time in the history of Soundview Live.

The question queue also produced a second, unforseen shift in practice. Since Sutton’s presentation dealt with his book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst, many of questions dealt with listeners’ personal experiences. They fell into two distinct categories: how to be a better boss or how to deal with a bad boss. Some of the questions concerning the latter ran as much as a paragraph in length and were full of details that Soundview simply couldn’t permit on the webinar’s airwaves. As a result, our moderator made the decision to (for the first time) forego our usual practice of stating the listener’s name and location before asking the question. Sutton did a GREAT job answering folks who are struggling with either their own performance or the ramifications of what he refers to as the “toxic tandem.”

Finally, I was stunned to see a small portion of the audience be very critical of Sutton’s scattered use of profanity. My feelings about this are mixed. On one hand, based on the attendee list, it was obvious that a few organizations were likely to take offense at hearing Sutton use the occasional profane word. However, I counter that by asking what people’s expectations were if they knew upon signing up that they were attending a Webinar featuring the author of The No Asshole Rule. I suppose in a nation where both sensitivity and litigiousness are at an all-time high, the only comment I can safely make is to say that the opinions of any guest of Soundview Live are his or her own and do not represent the opinions or policies of Soundview Executive Book Summaries or its parent company, Concentrated Knowledge Corporation.

What did you think of Sutton’s presentation? Send me a comment at this blog or send us a Tweet @businessbooks.



The Best Boss … Could Be You!

As we countdown the hours until our big Soundview Live event with Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D. I’ve been thinking about his presentation topic.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting at my desk during my “rookie” season with a local publisher. It was my first job out of college, and like any 22-year-old, I was suddenly immersed in a world of “real” adults. These were the kind of people who had mortgages and retirement funds and arrived late and left early to make sure daycare was covered. Our editorial department formed one half of a set of cubicles. The other half belonged to the residents of the art department. We called our space everything from “The Bullpen” to “The Island of Misfit Toys.”

I had been with the publisher for about two months and was really enjoying learning my trade from my boss. She was a veteran editor who could slash at a document until it bled red ink. Sometimes I felt like she wasn’t giving my copy a fair chance, but in the end, I learned that her observations about reaching an audience and doing “more with less” were 100 percent true.

I was talking with some of my colleagues in the art department one day about our mutual supervisor. Everyone seemed to have a high opinion of her, and I absent-mindedly voiced this fact. One graphic designer overheard my musing. She laughed and said, “Yeah, she’s a big step up from my last boss. But hey, everyone’s had to work for an ogre at one point in their career.”

That statement struck me because despite this being my first “real” job, I had, in fact, already worked for a bad boss. Granted, it was during my college years while I worked answering phones for a customer service department, but I knew what it was like to have a boss that made me feel invalidated.

Tomorrow, during our Soundview Live event, we’ll be joined by Sutton, the author of Good Boss, Bad Boss. In his presentation, he will demonstrate the keys that make great bosses so memorable … and bad bosses unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. If you missed the sign-up, don’t worry! Soundview will make the archived event available in the near future. In fact, you can browse all of Soundview’s previous Webinars now in our archive. If you’re joining us to hear Dr. Sutton, be sure to have your questions ready. It’s going to be a great event!

For more information, visit Soundview at Summary.com.



New Summaries in a NEW FORMAT!

Today is a great day here at the offices of Soundview Executive Book Summaries. I’ve got two announcements that I wanted to share with everyone:

First, we’ve got three new summaries available right now at Summary.com.

But the big news is that these three summaries are available in Soundview’s BRAND NEW format: The Smart Summary format. (For a peek at what the Smart Summary format looks like, visit the front page of Summary.com)

The Smart Summary joins Soundview’s roster of digital formats and offers readers a complete multi-media presentation of the book being summarized.

Just what comprises a Smart Summary? Here are the components that make this innovative summary format tick:

  • A new, easy-to-read layout that displays beautifully on any tablet (such as Apple’s iPad), as well as laptops and desktops.
  • A video introduction to each summary that gives an overview of what you’ll learn from the book.
  • A multi-media page that includes the complete audio summary, as well as the Soundview Author Insight Series interview with the book’s author.
  • An Author Information page with a detailed author bio and accompanying information about the book.
  • A Community page that links to the book’s discussion board on Soundview’s Facebook page.

It’s important to mention that the new Smart Summary format is NOT replacing any of the popular formats that Soundview offers. You will still be able to download your summaries in PDFs, mp3s, and the various mobile device and e-reader formats.

Soundview’s decision to debut this format comes at a critical juncture. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this article on recent research from the Gartner Group about why every organization should work diligently to understand and engage tablet technology.

The Smart Summary format is the FIRST of its kind in the book summary arena … and it’s the latest reason why it’s never been a better time to become a Soundview subscriber.

Follow Soundview on Twitter: @businessbooks



Debating the “Facebook Firing”

It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long to see this headline, isn’t it? In the Soundview editorial department, we’ve  been reading for some time the cautionary tales of the lack of privacy created by social media. Several business books have suggested to workers and managers alike that online overexposure of one’s private thoughts and personal activities could lead to potential problems in the workplace.

Now we’re presented with the case of Dawnmarie Souza, an employee of the Connecticut-based ambulance service American Medical Response. Souza is in the midst of a lawsuit that (I suppose) could be classed as a debate over wrongful termination. What makes the case interesting is that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is accusing American Medical Response of dismissing Souza for making derogatory remarks about her supervisor on Facebook. American Medical Response counters this claim by stating that Souza was terminated for “multiple, serious complaints about her behavior.”

According to the NLRB, employees have the right to discuss working conditions with other employees under the National Labor Relations Act. In its coverage of the case, The New York Times notes:

The board’s complaint prompted Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm with a large labor and employment practice representing hundreds of companies, to send a “lawflash” advisory on Monday to its clients, saying, “All private sector employers should take note,” regardless “of whether their work force is represented by a union.”

The firm added, “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees’ ” in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.

I think the latter point is the important one for readers to remember. Employers and employees alike should review their Internet and social media policies. For companies that have yet to establish one, the case involving Souza should serve as a wake-up call to create such a policy. More and more companies are starting to realize that the workplace of tomorrow is here today.

For a more in-depth glimpse into the workplace of tomorrow, check out Soundview’s summary of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today by Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd. Visit Soundview at Summary.com to learn more.

Follow Soundview on Twitter: @businessbooks



Respect Beats a Kick in the Head

We’re a little more than one week away from our big Soundview Live webinar featuring Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D, the author ofThe No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst. In preparation for any Soundview Live webinar, Soundview’s editorial department spends several days researching the author’s material and checking out his or her blogs, articles, Twitter feeds and any other relevant writings or appearances. I’ll confess this can occasionally be an exhausting but necessary process. However, the background work on Sutton has been an absolute joy.

He’s one of the most energetic and boisterous speakers we’ve encountered. If you sign up for the event, you’ll find out just how energizing Sutton can be during the course of a presentation. There are authors who are dynamic in person but ponderous on the page, and vice-versa, but this isn’t the case with Sutton. For instance, here’s a terrific blog post he recently logged that discusses the impact of the economic downturn on how bosses treat their employees. Sutton takes umbrage with another article that suggests a boss can only be tough and not be friendly if he or she expects his or her employees to succeed.

I thought that Sutton’s counterpoint to this argument was succinct and full of the straightforward logic that makes his books so successful. Suffice to say, it’s why Soundview is so excited to make Sutton available to answer YOUR questions during the next installment of Soundview Live. The event takes place next Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at Noon (Eastern). Don’t miss out on your chance to learn the secrets of being a great boss! Visit Summary.com to learn more. Don’t forget: Subscribers attend for FREE!

Follow Soundview on Twitter: @businessbooks



Are You Missing the Connection?

I got a chuckle from reading this article about two of cable TV’s pundits having a back-and-forth over the recent “Rally to Restore Sanity” held by Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Stewart spoke during his event about the fear mongering and constant hyping of political minutiae perpetuated by the 24-hour cable news media. What I found funny is that some of the criticism from people in the media came via Twitter, yet another arena where interested individuals can hear up-to-the-millisecond opinions about the failings of any given political party. The steady stream of criticism and persecution is so overwhelming one has to imagine that silence would be the only action left that would provide any shock value. Too bad there’s not any of that forthcoming, eh?

I believe Stewart meant well with his message about the danger of ramping up panic, but he may be overestimating the number of people who are paying such close attention to the media. While talk continues unabated, action waits with patience in the wings and the audience yawns in indifference. The assembled punditry (as well as anyone with an interest in making a difference) should take a moment to read John C. Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently. In this book, available in eight digital summary formats from Soundview, Maxwell provides five principles and five practices that anyone can use to connect with an audience. The hallmark of any work by Maxwell is the way in which he tells stories from everyday life that illustrate his principles. There are some gems in Everyone Communicates, Few Connect and unlike the majority of what you hear from cable news outlets, Maxwell’s tales will leave you with a smile on your face and the desire to do something better in the world.

To learn more about Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, as well as other summaries of John Maxwell’s books, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.