Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: Power

If you’ve ever wondered what causes some executives to rise to the top while others flounder in middle management, the latest book summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries offers some unique insight. In Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, offers a set of standards that will no doubt prove controversial to some readers.

Pfeffer sits at the opposite end of the scale from his Stanford colleague Robert I. Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss. While Sutton offers readers advice on how to create a more collaborative, humane work environment, Pfeffer offers advice on how to win in the “real” world. This is the world where it pays to get noticed, where making the right connections to leverage one’s own career goals are more meaningful than a comfortable relationship with one’s direct reports.

Pfeffer doesn’t mince words. He is completely cognizant of the fact that his advice will cause many readers to feel uncomfortable. It says a great deal that one of the endorsements that adorns the book jacket of Power is from one of Pfeffer’s former students. She confesses that his advice made her quite uncomfortable. For some readers, the true discomfort will arrive when they look around and see that many of Pfeffer’s observations ring true.

To paraphrase a character in a play by George Bernard Shaw, Sullivan sees things as we’d want them to be. Pfeffer sees things as they are. The reader can choose which path to follow.

To get your copy of the Soundview summary of Power, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



Soundview Summary Helps You Find Your Path to Power

The recent election of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as Mayor of Chicago is the latest move in a career marked by political savvy. Emanuel faces challenges in his new position. Chicago is like many other major American cities in that it is attempting to maintain a firm fiscal foothold while keeping its citizens employed and its streets a little more safe. Of course, Emanuel left one of the most pressurized positions in American government, but it was one that wields a considerable amount of power.

Emanuel’s name crops up in a book recently summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t by Jeffrey Pfeffer. This coming Monday, you’ll get the opportunity to read a full review of Power in this blog, but I felt I needed to provide a special mention of the book today because it relates directly to Emanuel.

Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. His book is one of only a handful of titles released in the past several years that attempt to teach a tough-as-nails, yet morally sound method to acquiring political clout in a business environment. Pfeffer readily admits that there is a definite set of behaviors that enable certain individuals to garner more power than others. I appreciated the fact that at several points in his book, he points out that the mind-set necessary to achieve power is bound to cause some people to feel unsettled. That level of honesty should instantly make a reader realize that he or she is delving into a useful book.

Check back with me on Monday to see an in-depth review of Power. In the meantime, you can access hundreds of FREE business book reviews by visiting Soundview’s home on the Web, Summary.com.



Is Friedman’s Argument as Flat as the World?

The state of imbalance in the Middle East has produced numerous opinions from both sides of the political aisle. There is probably not a single industrialized nation that does not depend on the region for fuel resources. While panic ensues over the potential for rapidly rising oil prices, there is at least one columnist who offers the position that positives may come from this period of tumult.

Whether you agree or disagree, you can read Thomas L. Friedman’s column in The New York Times in which he discusses the ramifications of regime change in the region. Friedman is best known for his two bestsellers: The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century and Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America. The latter book contains some of the sentiments Friedman echoes in his piece for the Times. Friedman is among the more vocal supporters of an urgent and radical shift in America’s use of energy. If you read the Times piece, be sure to take a look at his suggestion of a fuel tax. There are many Americans who probably feel as though Friedman’s suggestion is already in effect based on current prices at the pumps.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to read either of Friendman’s best-sellers, Soundview offers in-depth Featured Book Reviews of both titles. You’ll have the chance to learn the essentials of both The World is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded. Whether or not some of the ideas offered by Friedman will come to pass remains to be seen, but checking out both reviews should give any executive a good working knowledge of Friedman’s ideas. You can find both featured book reviews at Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

Don’t forget to follow Soundview on Twitter: @businessbooks.



Book Review: How Companies Win

There were numerous companies that failed to anticipate the era-defining impact of the Internet on business. Some of these same organizations were among the group that were unprepared when Web 2.0 and social technology roared into the public consciousness. Each time a major shift occurs in business, there are organizations that wish they could wind back the clock and heed the signs of change to come. In the newly released Soundview Executive Book Summary of How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You’re In executives have the opportunity to see the future before the wave crashes on the shore.

Authors Rick Kash and David Calhoun provide readers with exclusive insight into the shift from supply-driven business models to demand-driven models. Today’s companies operate in an environment in which an overabundance of product intersects a decidedly more distracted customer who has an entire globe of competitors from which to choose. It’s a daunting situation even for companies that have held the dominant position in their respective fields for decades. As Kash and Calhoun point out, we need only reflect on the 2008 global financial crisis to see the fragility of the ground on which so many companies are built.

The solution to continued success, the authors suggest, rests in a corporation’s ability to find what they refer to as “deep profit pools.” One of the most critical observations executives should take away from How Companies Win is that attempting to be all things to all customers is now the fastest recipe for disaster. Instead, the authors help companies pare down their audience into only the one or two segments where allegiance and profits run deep. The book is loaded with case studies including an inside look at two of America’s most iconic brands: McDonald’s and Hershey.

To start your business on its path to plumbing its deep profit pools, pick up a copy of the Soundview summary of How Companies Win. You can find it and other great book summaries at Summary.com.

Click this link to browse hundreds of FREE business book reviews.



Will Watson Become Predictably Irrational?

I was telling the folks here at Soundview that I spent three highly enjoyable evenings this week tuning in to watch Jeopardy: The IBM Challenge. In case you missed it, a team (or as it seemed from the credits, a legion) of IBM researchers set about the task of creating a computer with the ability to discern the subtleties of human language. I avoided using the words “hear” and “understand” because, as Alex Trebek pointed out in his characteristically acerbic manner, computers cannot hear. The result of the research is Watson, a room-sized computer with the ability to read Jeopardy clues and ascertain the correct response.

I have to admit, it was an impressive display. Despite the occasional misstep, such as providing the response “Toronto” to a Final Jeopardy clue about American cities, the machine crushed its opponents in a manner that would make Deep Blue turn red from embarrassment. The achievement netted $500,000 apiece for two worthy charities and a great deal of plaudits for IBM’s engineers. As people ponder where Watson will next apply its unique skill set, others continue to marvel at the machine’s ability to “think” like a human being.

Granted there are some levels of human thought which no machine would ever be able to replicate. Humans, at our core, excel at defying logic whenever possible. Author and Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely points out that avoiding the logical path can have its benefits. Ariely is the author of The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home. If you check out the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Upside of Irrationality, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about decision-making processes that factor into our ability to succeed at work and achieve happiness at home.

While we continue to reflect in amazement on Watson’s big win, head over to Summary.com and get your copy of The Upside of Irrationality today! And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out CKC’s Executive Edge, a brand new executive skill-building online publication.



Soundview Live and a Simple Game of Tennis

I thought it would be a great idea to give everyone a little preview of next week’s Soundview Live event featuring Alan Fine, author of You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock Your Greatest Potential (co-authored with Rebecca R. Merrill). You’ll have the chance to join us on Tuesday, February 22, at Noon (Eastern). Fine is currently the president of InsideOut Development, an executive coaching and training organization. But he spent a good portion of his life as a well-respected tennis coach in his native Wales. What you might not now is how his previous experience as an instructor led directly to a major breakthrough into his study of performance.

On what Fine describes as a gray day at a gray place, the Mackintosh Tennis Club to be exact, he was coaching a shy nine-year-old girl. Despite his best efforts, Fine and the girl’s mother watched on as she was unable to connect with the ball and drive it back over the net. By this point in his life, Fine was deepening his study of coaching including extensive reading on psychology, psychosynthesis, Zen and performance. This led Fine to make a simple suggestion to the girl. What he suggested caused the girl to suddenly be able to hit the ball over the net 53 times in a row.

What did Fine tell the girl? While we can’t guarantee that Fine will reveal the secret during his Soundview Live appearance (although it’s a good bet that he will), you’ll be able to find out when the Soundview summary of You Already Know How to Be Great debuts in the coming months. Don’t forget, Soundview subscribers can attend Soundview Live for FREE. Visit Summary.com or Soundview’s Facebook or Twitter pages to learn more.

Soundview Live now has its own Twitter feed. Follow the only Webinar to connect you with top business authors @soundviewlive.



Get An Edge in Your Career Development

What separates the performance of top-level professionals from people who, no matter how hard they try, seem unable to reach the summit? Every organization has one or two individuals to whom other members of staff look as an example of “the right way” to get the job done. The secret is a combination of knowing the best practices and key skills and executing your strategies in the right moments. Of course, gaining these valuable skill sets can require a serious investment of time and money. Most of us who are working professionals rarely have the time to be out of the office for additional training. The demands of our personal lives also prevent many of us from devoting time in the evenings to improving our career skills.

That’s why Concentrated Knowledge Corporation (the publisher of Soundview Executive Book Summaries) created CKC’s Executive Edge™ (To get a FREE sample issue, click here!). This online publication saves you time and energy by combining executive skill development with insights from today’s top business leaders. Two times per month, you’ll receive a digitally delivered publication in your e-mail in-box that will give you insight into vital skill-builders regardless of your level of experience.

Take a look at what you’ll learn in CKC’s Executive Edge :

  • How to impress your audience when speaking publicly.
  • Negotiating from strength.
  • Defining yourself as a leader.
  • Updating your sales style.
  • Resolving workplace conflict.
  • Maximizing your professional value.
  • And many more…

This is a unique opportunity to receive coaching from some of the best minds in business but at your pace and on your timetable. I also need to mention that now is a great time to sign up because of the special offer that’s currently running!

If you subscribe today, you’ll receive one year (24 issues) of CKC’s Executive Edge™ for only $39. That’s less than $2 an issue. When was the last time that you were able to get crucial career development information for $2?

To learn more and to subscribe to CKC’s Executive Edge just click this link!



Change: The Limitless Horizon

The announcement today that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is stepping down after 30 years in power means a period of uncertainty will commence in the Middle East. Egypt is the latest country in the region to undergo demonstrations and a shift in power. There have been hundreds of media outlets that have pointed out that Egypt will most likely not be the last country to see such change occur. One author who pointed this out shortly before Mubarak made his announcement is Don Tapscott, co-author of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World.

Tapscott made the comment as an aside during an interview with Soundview that took place earlier today. He pointed to the shift in power in Egypt as part of a greater cycle of change that is occurring in every aspect of society. In Macrowikinomics, Tapscott and co-author Anthony D. Williams point out that certain points in history bear witness to periods of radical change. In the same way that the invention of the printing press forever altered education and, as a result, the predominant system of fedualism in much of Europe, so too has the continued development of online applications triggered massive change. Based on some of the ideas Tapscott and Williams write about in Macrowikinomics, it’s the type of change for which no end appears in sight, in my opinion.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Soundview’s summary of Macrowikinomics, I’d highly recommend you put it at the top of your reading list. It’s one of the best books written that attempts to answer the prevailing question about the advancements of technology: “Now what?” Tapscott and Williams provide some suggested solutions and use real-world examples to demonstrate the ways in which the idea of mass collaboration is shaping our economic, educational and governmental futures.

The summary of Macrowikinomics is available at Soundview’s home on the Web, Summary.com.



Commercial Controversy and Addressing Your Audience

The fallout from the Groupon Super Bowl commercial controversy continues to evolve. According to The New York Times, the ads, which attempted to parody celebrity-led charity efforts, have been revised to now include a Web address where visitors can make contributions to help actual causes. This subtle switch came on the heels of public outcry over the perceived insensitivity of Groupon toward charitable causes.

There are two aspects of this controversy that interest me. The first is that Groupon, while not the first, is another organization to yield to the power of what can best be described as a “Tweetstorm.” Several business book authors have written about this concept, but it’s worth repeating that businesses need to be aware of the rate at which a problem can gain momentum. The analogy of a snowball rolling down a hill, increasing in size the entire time, is perhaps best replaced by the image of a volcano whose ash cloud envelops the sky within minutes while lava rolls across the continent. Whether you’re on the ground or in the air, you’ve got serious problems.

The other interesting item from the Groupon ad fallout is the reaction of the company’s CEO, Andrew Mason. Within hours of the conclusion of the Super Bowl, Mason posted on the Groupon corporate blog and attempted to quell some of the furor. This reminded me of author Charlene Li’s profile of computer manufacturer Dell and its efforts to directly engage with its customers. In her book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, Li points out that a leader’s willingness to embrace the technology and use it to be more open can turn even the most dissatisfied customer into an advocate. Debate continues as to whether the commercial controversy will ultimately hurt Groupon, but Mason did his part to turn the tide.

If you want to learn more about Li’s exploration of social technology and its leadership applications, check out Soundview’s summary of Open Leadership. For more great executive book summaries, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



AOL’s New Purchase and MacroWikinomics

For those who thought the biggest media story of the day would be the dissection of the various commercials from last night’s Big Game, the executives at AOL turned the tables. The old-guard online giant announced its intention to add one of the most dominant Web 2.0 entities to its roster with a $315 million purchase of The Huffington Post.

The purchase comes with a considerable promotion for the Web site’s founder, political pundit Arianna Huffington. She will be named president and editor-in-chief of a combined media group that will control content for both organizations. As this story from CNNMoney.com indicates, the dominance of The Huffington Post in the online media landscape is reflected in its claim of $50 million in potential ad revenue in 2011.

The Huffington Post has become a considerable presence in the world of new media. This has not gone unnoticed by business book authors. The company was profiled in MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. This book was recently summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries. The authors discuss the downfall of the newspaper business and the rise of the next wave of news outlets, highlighted by The Huffington Post. The era of “professional bloggers” is profiled with the authors citing a study that more than 28 percent of bloggers earn income from their blog. Huffington’s company certainly can be counted in this group. Long-time Huffington Post readers may fear a softening of the site’s editorial bite once it comes under the wings of AOL. However, with Huffington retaining her position as director of content, their fears should be slight assuaged.

To get your copy of the Soundview summary of MacroWikinomics, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.