Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: Exploiting Chaos

In the latest book to be summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries, author and Web entrepreneur Jeremy Gutsche supports the theory that the instability of today’s economy is the perfect place for the next great business to find its footing. At the outset of Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change, Gutsche lists several companies that began life during periods of economic recession. The Soundview summary of Exploiting Chaos highlights one of the more interesting cases. It seems impossible to believe but the early period of the Great Depression was the genesis point for FORTUNE magazine. While other authors would take the FORTUNE story and use it as the basis for simple cheerleading, Gutsche distinguishes himself by examining what made FORTUNE a success.

Gutsche’s dynamic writing will keep executives returning to Exploiting Chaos for a blend of motivation and insight. Each premise introduced by Gutsche is backed with a memorable anecdote or case study. Executives will find applicable principles in Exploiting Chaos regardless of a company’s size or current standing in the marketplace. Gutsche believes in the power of innovation, whether as a rejuvenation method for aging corporate giants or as a means to make a breakthrough for fledgling companies.

There is considerable page space devoted to being obsessed with one’s customers. This, above all else, may be the greatest contribution Gutsche makes to the career of anyone who reads his book. He helps readers find their audience but, more importantly, he refuses to let a company treat this group with anything less than utter devotion. Exploiting Chaos is a powder keg of ideas in the dark basement of today’s economy. Picking it up is the same as striking a match: an explosion is sure to result.

To learn more and for access to FREE business book reviews, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



Soundview Reader Feedback: What’s a Bonus?

Any businessperson who has his or her own Web site probably fields a number of interesting questions from people who take the time to e-mail them. At Soundview Executive Book Summaries, we get asked a variety of questions about business books, business book authors and, of course, technical questions about viewing our content on various digital devices.

The other day I was forwarded a question from someone who wrote in to Summary.com. The person simply wrote, “Why does the picture of Exploiting Chaos on your site say bonus across it? Why is it a bonus?”

Part of me wanted to reply, “It’s a bonus because Exploiting Chaos (by author and founder of TrendHunter.com Jeremy Gutsche) is just that good!” However, I took the time to answer the reader’s question. In case the rest of you were wondering why there are some summaries on Summary.com tagged with “Bonus,” here’s the answer:

If you subscribe to Soundview Executive Book Summaries, you automatically receive summaries of the 30 best business books of the year. Of course, 30 books divided by 12 months leaves us with something less than a whole number. While Soundview is firm in its commitment to bringing subscribers the 30 best business books, we also feature six additional summaries throughout the year. These “Bonus” summaries are titles that may have been released prior to the current year and (for a multitude of reasons) were previously not summarized. Sometimes you folks out there can be quite vocal about books you’d like to see summarized. In other cases, our editorial team learns through conversations with authors, publishers and business executives about a book that is making waves in every place but the best-seller list. Sometimes these “hidden gems” prove to be among our most frequently downloaded titles.

To learn more about Soundview’s latest “Bonus” summary Exploiting Chaos, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



How We Make Our Living

I feel as though it’s been awhile since I’ve written this phrase but … as you know, the Soundview Executive Book Summaries Editor’s blog is a place where politics are not discussed. If we refer to anything of a political nature, it is because it must in some way apply to business books. Now, with that li’l disclaimer out of the way to satisfy the folks in legal …

If you watched the State of the Union address last night, I’m sure there were moments that caused you to react (whether positively or negatively). One such moment that I found inspiring is a quote that is devoid of political rhetoric. Here is the quote from President Barack Obama:

“In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living.”

It reminded me of a book by author Adam Richardson called Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems Are It’s Greates Advantage. One of the central principles of this book is Richardson’s argument that innovation is a term that’s widely used but frequently misunderstood. He also points out that attempts to create a formal process for innovation have been unsuccessful. Innovation is a mysterious entity but, as both Richardson and President Obama indicate, one that is essential to the economic future of the United States and the globe.

Richardson delves into a set of issues known as X Problems, a new variety of challenges that are proving problematic not only to business but to the ability of companies to innovate. Innovation X is one of the better books on innovation to be released in recent years. Richardson explores areas of thought that are essential to any company looking to gain a stronger foothold on the shifting sands of today’s economy.

The Soundview Executive Book Summary of Innovation X is available by clicking this link or by visiting Summary.com.

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Book Review: Now, Build a Great Business!

During a Soundview Live event featuring global leadership consultant Brian Tracy, the best-selling author of How the Best Leaders Lead referred to himself as a synthesizer of information. This information is culled from Tracy’s intense regimen of scholarship. In a Soundview Author Insight Series interview, Tracy revealed that he has devoted a minimum of three hours to reading every evening for the past 40 years. Readers might assume that Tracy’s newest release (co-authored with Mark Thompson) Now, Build a Great Business would be the first in a multi-volume treatise on the lessons from Tracy’s studies.

In one respect, the book accomplishes the task of delivering the finer points of presenting a culmination of Tracy’s and Thompson’s research and experience. However, it does so by stripping business down to its simplest truths. These are the principles that are frequently forgotten or buried beneath rhetoric and trends. The authors pinpoint time and again that despite piles of books devoted to re-imagining the path to success, businesses that do succeed continue to model basic ideas.

Tracy himself described the book in this manner: “We needed a prescriptive book, a book that says, ‘Here are the specific steps you take to build a great business.’ These are the specific steps that every single person who’s ever built a great business has done. We’ve taken my work with 1,000 companies in 55 countries and put it into practical steps that a person can follow.”

Executives who have tried a variety of solutions to improve their business and have met with more disappointment than success will want to give Tracy and Thompson’s book a careful read.

You can get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of Now, Build a Great Business by clicking here. For more great business book summaries, visit Soundview’s home on the Web: Summary.com



Is Your Culture the Culprit?

If you had an opportunity to join Soundview Executive Book Summaries for yesterday’s Soundview Live Webinar featuring Roger Connors, you were treated to one of the more honest, informative sessions we’ve had on the program. Connors discussed ideas that feature in his latest best-seller (co-authored with Tom Smith) Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results. The level of audience participation was impressive, even by Soundview Live standards.

I had the opportunity to take a peek at the question queue, and it revealed some interesting trends. There were three questions that (in one wording or another) were asked more than any other. I thought I would share them with you because, just as Connors demonstrated with the polling questions during the course of the Soundview Live event, they provide insights about companies that you  might not get if you asked someone verbally.

The top item on many audience members’ list of issues is what to do when one member of a team is resistant to a culture change effort. The terms “Mr. Negative” and “naysayer” were thrown out in more than one instance when referring to this person. It seems as though many companies experience the stumbling block of getting complete buy-in on the part of an entire team.

The second major issue that cropped up tells us a lot about the state of the modern workplace. Several people asked about creating culture change when the organization is spread across several continents or, in an ever-increasing number of cases, where teams do more of their collaborative work in a virtual realm.

The final question that was repeatedly asked seemed the most natural: what’s the first step to creating culture change?

If you missed yesterday’s event and want to find out Roger Connors’ answers to each of these questions, visit Summary.com. An archived edition of Soundview Live featuring Roger Connors is now available!



Book Review: The Upside of Irrationality

Social scientist Dan Ariely delivered some of the most fascinating research in recent memory with his 2008 best-seller Predictably Irrational. The book examined the mysteries of human foibles and provided some pretty convincing evidence to support the claim that mankind can be predictable in its ability to defy logic. Ariely definitely caused more than a few readers to hesitate before making what had previously been automatic judgments in a wide variety of situations.

Now Ariely returns with the follow-up to Predictably Irrational. In The Upside of Irrationality (Editor’s Note: Soundview Subscribers can read this summary NOW by logging in to  your online library), the Duke University professor provides a further look at the impact, both positive and negative, that irrational behavior can have on a person’s life. Aside from his unique perspective and groundbreaking research, Ariely is a wonderful storyteller. His sense of humor and ability to spin scientific data into memorable anecdotes shine in his latest book. The level of energy that makes him a sought-after lecturer shines through in chapter after chapter.

Executives should pay particular attention to Ariely’s discussion of a phenomenon he calls “The IKEA Effect.” In this section, Ariely discusses the reasons behind why we place a much higher (and skewed) value on something we ourselves create. It leads one to draw the conclusion that in a work context, the IKEA Effect explains why many individuals become overly defensive about their own projects. However, an executive could also determine from Ariely’s research that a key to employee engagement is to guide employees to undertake projects in which they have a personal stake and, therefore, an increased amount of passion for the work. It’s interesting to note that Ariely points out that completion of the task is a necessary ingredient to create the IKEA Effect.

The book is a fast read and contains plenty of thought-provoking material for meetings. It will leave the reader wondering what area of human behavior will next fall under Ariely’s acute lens.

The Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Upside of Irrationality is now available! Visit Summary.com to learn more about this and other great business book summaries.



MLK and The Power of a Great Speech

For those of you logging on to see one of my usual Monday morning book review columns, we’ve had a slight change of schedule. I’ll provide you with a detailed review of a great new Soundview Executive Book Summary on Wednesday, a one-time only offer. I’m preempting the review today in order to take a moment to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While Dr. King will be referenced and discussed in detail in countless broadcasts and Web posts today, I thought it would be important to write about one aspect of his life and character that should influence every business executive.

The obvious skill that made Dr. King unforgettable was his ability to craft and deliver a brilliant speech. Dr. King combined a preacher’s passion with a scholar’s intelligence and a master wordsmith’s talent. He had an understanding of pace, volume and intensity that blessed his speeches with all the crescendos and virtuosity of a great symphony. While generations to come will listen with wonder to the might of his “I Have a Dream” speech, it was one of dozens of powerful performances Dr. King delivered in his quest to peacefully shake off the chains of segregation and civil injustice.

There are so many business book authors that attempt to craft a perfect, memorable quote. Throughout his participation in the struggle for civil rights, Dr. King, time and again, connected with his audience or readers through a perfectly fashioned thought. Here are five memorable quotes:

1. Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.

2. Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

3. I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.

4. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

5. When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

I hope you find inspiration in the above and take a moment today to remember the life and legacy of Dr. King.