Soundview Executive Book Summaries


10 Great Quotes from 2010

Don’t ask why, but I’m the type of person who always feels the need to read the “Comments” section that follows any online news article. Maybe I’m hoping for a reader to provide some unique insight that escaped the journalist that wrote the piece. Instead I’m usually treated to a melange of spam, conspiracy theories and inane political babble. Sometimes the most interesting part of any comment is if a reader throws in a quote into his or her signature. After reading an article about the recent snowfall here in the Northeast (including the Philadelphia suburbs where Soundview Executive Book Summaries operates), someone felt the need to post a comment tying slow-moving plows to a “Big Oil” conspiracy to keep cars stuck in traffic, thereby burning more fuel. I was ready to dismiss this lunatic until I saw his signature. It read, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. That way when you judge him you’re already a mile away and you have his shoes.”

I know it’s not the most original quote in the world but for a moment, it made me smile. It also led me to consider some of the best quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Series. This exclusive MP3 interview program gives Soundview subscribers unique insights direct from the authors of today’s best business books.

Since I previously covered the first half of 2010 in a previous post, here (in no particular order) are the best quotes from the second half of 2010’s Soundview Author Insight Series:

1. “When a bank or an investor sits down and decides whether they’re going to support your recovery plan going forward, you’re probably not going to be in the room.” — Shaun O’Callaghan, author of Turnaround Leadership: Making Decisions, Rebuilding Trust and Delivering Results After a Crisis

2. “‘I prefer you’ are the three strongest words today in the customer’s vocabulary, if you want to create profitability.” — Robert H. Bloom, author of The New Experts: Win Today’s Newly Empowered Customers at Their Four Decisive Moments

3.The reality of it is that we’re really at a perfect storm right now of a number of factors that are coalescing that are preventing salespeople from working.” — Jill Konrath, author of Snap Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers.

4. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be willing to do all the things that you need to do as a leader and make the sacrifices that are required to get extraordinary things done if his or her heart wasn’t in it.” — Barry Posner, co-author (with James Kouzes) of The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart of the Matter Facts You Need to Know.

5. “Just being that little bit more informed, just being that much more attuned to what the pulse of the marketplace is saying about you will allow you to do a better job.” — Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.

6. “Is your product going to evolve towards being the absolute pinnacle of quality and the best at what it is, the highest fidelity, or is it going to evolve toward the idea of being super convenient. If it tries to continue to be too much of both, it’s never going to be enough of either.” — Kevin Maney, author of Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t.

7. “If you can’t keep it in your head, that means that you have to go find it, and you can’t just go and find it online or in books, you need to be able to connect to other people who are, kind of, your ‘guild of experts.’” — Karie Willyerd, co-author (with Jeanne Meister) of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today.

8. “Viral marketing forces companies to have good after-sale service for their customers. If you don’t, you’re going to suffer.” — Adam Penenberg, author of Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves.

9. “A weak leader seeks agreement and a fierce leader wants the truth.” — Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and In Life One Conversation at a Time.

10. “Your customers will tell you how to get rich if you just ask them.” — Brian Tracy, author of How the Best Leaders Lead.

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Book Review: Clutch

Rounding out Soundview Executive Book Summaries’ trio of new business book summaries is Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t by Paul Sullivan. As author of the Wealth Matters column in The New York Times, Sullivan knows a bit about working in a high pressure environment. His book investigates the traits that help successful people deliver in crunch time, every time.

One excellent aspect of Clutch is Sullivan’s efforts to put high-pressure performance in a context other than the sporting world. While he acknowledges that sports is pursuit most often referenced when people discuss clutch performance, it’s not the only field where objectives are accomplished under intense conditions. In the Soundview summary, Sullivan demonstrates to readers why even the traditional sports definition of clutch is not entirely accurate. His example of the difference between clutch and luck serves as a simple rule of thumb that leaders can use when explaining the concept to their employees.

Sullivan’s book is filled with stories of clutch performances from a variety of industries. It is not difficult for executives to find the aspects of their own jobs that relate directly to one or more situations in the book. Sullivan’s journalism background translates to quick delivery of memorable information. He combines a reporter’s brevity with a storyteller’s flair. His discussion of adaptability as a key to performing under pressure is illustrated by a recounting of the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan. In a pre-GPS era, Reagan’s team of Secret Service agents rerouted the president’s limo to an unplanned location and got him the urgent care he needed. This story provides leaders with a great point to pass along to their teams: even under disastrous conditions, the focus should be on creating a direct solution rather than lamenting the present problem.

To find out how you can apply Sullivan’s findings and become a clutch performer, pick up a copy of Soundview’s summary of Clutch.

Don’t forget, Soundview offers thousands of FREE business book reviews. To access the business book review database, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



Holiday Classics Put Bullseye on Business Leaders
December 22, 2010, 3:31 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since this is the last Soundview Executive Book Summaries’ blog post before the Christmas holiday, I thought you fine folks would indulge me a bit. I was sitting at my desk the other day after our recent Soundview Live event with Jeanne Meister (co-author of The 2020 Workplace). While I enjoyed the conversation about the fight for the talent pool of tomorrow, my mind was quickly drawn back to one holiday-oriented problem or another. I felt the need to vocalize my complaint. That caused someone to lob the term “Scrooge” in my direction. As often happens in these situations, a simple comment can touch off a stream of thoughts.

In this case, I started reflecting on the way executives are portrayed in many holiday classics. As far back as Charles Dickens’ counting house miser, businesspeople have been relegated to roles as antagonists in dozens of stories. While Ebeneezer Scrooge runs the gauntlet of spectral visitors and finds redemption, the direct cause of his turnaround is his abandonment of the principles that made him one of the richest men in Victorian London. I always wondered if Scrooge’s business went in the tank in light of his newfound alms-giving nature.

Set your DVR for a few holiday films and you’ll find, regardless of genre, that the villain is clad in a three-piece suit. Take Brian Doyle Murray as Frank Shirley in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. He was the 1980s-era bad boss who swapped Christmas bonuses in favor of enrollment in a “jelly of the month” club. A personal favorite of mine is John Fiedler as Mr. Dundee, the department store owner who fires Art Carney as Santa in the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Night of the Meek.” If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

Who could forget Lionel Barrymore as Henry F. Potter, the banker and businessman who dreamed of driving the Bailey Building and Loan out of business in It’s a Wonderful Life? He’s unique among this list of yuletide nemeses for not relinquishing the path of avarice in favor of living happily ever after.

Putting aside all this fictional finger-pointing, the holidays are a time when corporations of all sizes do a great number of charitable deeds. Is your company doing something special this year to help give back? Send me a message and maybe I’ll share your story.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Soundview Executive Book Summaries!



Book Review: Multipliers

When someone imagines the ideal leader of a company, he or she likely pictures a dynamic individual who is in complete command of an organization. The leader is the kind of person who comes up with brilliant strategies and pushes his or her direct reports to bring great ideas to fruition. Recent research indicates that this type of top-down leadership has seen its twilight. The best leaders in today’s organizations are those who create a collaborative environment where individuals increase their performance level of their own volition. Authors Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown examine the difference between the two types of leadership in their book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. The Soundview Executive Book Summary of Multipliers is now available at Summary.com.

The major motivator for executives to read Multipliers is the effect described by Wiseman and McKeown for those who practice the book’s principles. Multipliers, they write, are talent magnets. They are the individuals in an organization for whom the best and brightest people wish to work. Wiseman and McKeown do an excellent job of addressing a debate that occurs in many a professional’s mind. Which is the more expedient route to the top: personal accomplishment or leading a successful team? One might suggest that, based on the stories told in Multipliers, the two are inexorably linked. Great personal success is directly derived from the ability to bring the best out of others.

Wiseman and McKeown guide readers through the necessary elements of becoming a multiplier. They illustrate their ideas with stories from a variety of notable organizations. Each story reinforces the book’s main concept: the best executives aren’t geniuses, they’re genius makers. Leaders who dedicate their time to the concepts in Multipliers will learn the best way to release the reins and let their team’s talent shine through.

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A Legendary CEO’s Take on Partnerships

There is an elite group of CEOs whose names (first or last) are recognizable by the general public: Welch, Buffett, and Gates are three that immediately come to mind. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner easily fits in amongst his well-known colleagues. During Eisner’s days at Disney he took a company that was on the verge of decline and instituted ambitious changes. The result was a revenue increase from $3 billion to $30 billion. Through his time at Disney, Eisner benefited from working alongside Frank Wells, Disney’s then-president. Of course, Eisner’s ability to work with others faced a challenge during a difficult (and costly) patch with Wells’ successor Michael Ovitz.

In this interesting interview with Canadian Business magazine, Eisner candidly discusses the ups and downs of partnerships. I found that this piece clearly displays Eisner’s confidence in his decision-making. Take a look at how he answers a question about whether or not he and Wells ever decided to “just go for it” with an idea. Eisner begins to point out the problems Disney experienced with attempting to launch the theme park Euro Disney, but he rounds out his answer by reminding the interviewer that it’s (according to Eisner) now the biggest attraction in Europe.

The interview discusses Eisner’s new book Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed. Eisner examines some of the most successful partnerships from a variety of industries, including Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, among others.

If you’d like to read a FREE review of Working Together and learn more about Eisner’s insights into partnerships, visit the book review section of Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



Great Advice for Charitable Giving

As I drove in to the offices of Soundview Executive Book Summaries this morning, I stopped for coffee. My mind was a bit preoccupied with trying to think of some promotional copy for an e-mail relating to one of our new trio of book summaries. I was so caught up in my thoughts that I nearly missed the voice of an older gentleman in the store’s entrance. He was collecting donations for a local organization that helps returning American soldiers. I’m glad I heard him, because I try not to miss an opportunity to donate to this particular cause. The holidays are known as a season for giving. Whether it’s canned food drives, donations for current soldiers or war veterans, or the famous red buckets of the Salvation Army, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to the worthy charity of your choice.

It reminded me of a piece I read the other day in The Wall Street Journal that I wanted to share with everyone. Corporations and their employees often use the holiday season as a time for charitable giving. However, it’s a sad reality that there are individuals who attempt to capitalize on the philanthropy of others. Here is some excellent advice on the major mistakes to avoid when making charitable donations.

As for those on the receiving end of donations, Soundview recently reviewed a book that offers advice to nonprofit organizations on ways to increase their success. The book, More Than Just Money: Practical and Provocative Steps to Nonprofit Success by Allen J. Proctor, is reviewed in the latest edition of Soundview’s FREE e-newsletter Soundview Executive Book Alert. Proctor’s advice forces leaders in the nonprofit sector to address the common problem of handling operating cash.

To learn more about More Than Just Money, sign-up for the FREE e-newsletter Soundview Executive Book Alert.

Don’t forget to visit Summary.com for book summaries, FREE book reviews and exclusive Webinars.



Book Review: Macrowikinomics

Soundview Executive Book Summaries is now featuring a summary of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. The book is a follow-up to their 2006 breakthrough Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (also available at Summary.com). Macrowikinomics is a natural successor to the ideas first explored in Wikinomics. If executives spent even a few moments with the original title, the sequel is a must-read.

Wikinomics studied the way in which the digital world created a culture of mass collaboration. At the time of the first book’s publication, the boundaries of online collaboration were still establishing themselves. In the intervening years, the authors observed that mass collaboration shattered any attempt to classify it as existing solely in the domains of business or technology. As they point out, it’s become a “societal shift,” a cultural revolution that touches every aspect of life in and out of the workplace. Macrowikinomics picks up with this idea. The authors argue that the all-encompassing nature of mass collaboration present the globe with an opportunity to solve long-standing problems and restructure existing institutions.

It’s an interesting idea that the authors explore in each section of Macrowikinomics. They apply their principles in an attempt to breathe life into problem areas such as climate change, education and health care. The argument that many of our troubled institutions are failing due to “command and control” leadership is intriguing, but the authors’ collaboration-based solutions may draw criticism from some readers. While they offer credible evidence to support a theory, such as their belief in regulatory bodies consisting of greater involvement from ordinary citizens, there will be a group of readers that will inevitably ask, “How do you make that happen?”

It’s important for executives to make a distinction between each of the problems examined by Tapscott and Williams. Don’t think of it as an attempt to move one giant stone using the fulcrum the Internet and the lever of the online population. Think of it as an attempt to shift stones of various sizes. Some will move easily while others may require more effort to loosen them from the grip of the ways of the Industrial age. Any executive who reads Macrowikinomics is bound to find valuable food for thought that relates to his or her own company’s issues. The application of those ideas falls on the reader. Having noted that, the authors would be the first to point out that readers have the entire world at their disposal to help them along.

For more FREE book reviews, visit Soundview’s online home, Summary.com.

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