Soundview Executive Book Summaries

What Is Success?

It seems like three-quarters of the business books we receive for review at Soundview are in some way about Success. We all want to be successful don’t we? But of course this brings to mind the underlying question – What is success?

Webster’s Dictionary gives us a clue. The first definition is “a degree or measure of succeeding” – there’s a circular definition for you. But the 2nd meaning sheds some light, “favorable or desired outcome.” So, there isn’t a “set in stone” meaning for what success is, because it’s based on the outcome that someone decides is “favorable” or “desired.”

Of course, as you read the latest success-oriented business book, the author will use his definition of success and then tell you how to get there. For some it’s about money, gaining personal wealth (Getting Rich Your Own Way). For others is about the success of the company, increasing market share and shareholder equity (Blueprint to a Billion). Or perhaps is about power, being the one in charge (The Next Level). And a new trend in business measures success by what’s good for the planet, or corporate responsibility (The Triple Bottom Line).

But if success is gaining a desired outcome, shouldn’t it be your desired outcome instead of what some author, or company, or government tells you? We can so easily be dragged onto the treadmill of life. Perhaps when you were young your parents or a favorite teacher defined success for you. Then upon entering college success was defined by your professors or peers. Then it’s off into your career and success is defined by your boss, colleagues, or perhaps your spouse. In this scenario we could fall headlong into retirement, never having defined success for ourselves.

I greatly appreciated John Maxwell’s perspective on success in one of his recent “A Minute with Maxwell” videos. Maxwell would by most people’s definition be a successful person. But a while back he took six months to work out his own definition of success. Here is what he came up with: “When those who are closest to you and know you the best, love and respect you the most.”

Notice that there’s nothing in this definition about money, power, company goals, or other’s expectations. It’s all about the love and acceptance of those you value the most. This should stand as an example to the rest of us to stop and consider whose definition of success we’re pursuing, and to take the time to come up with our own.


Getting a Seat at the Table

A few years ago our company was looking to update our methods of contacting subscribers to let them know when their subscriptions are due to expire. Since one of our ways of contacting customers is through the mail, we connected with the printer Anro.

Now, the sales rep from Anro could have come in with slick brochures, samples, and the like and tried to impress us with their fancy machines and technology. But instead, they sat down with us to look at our goals, and offered solutions based on what their technologies had to offer. They not only got the job, but we now routinely contact them to ask for advice on various issues and problems relating to our printing needs. Anro has a “seat at the table” when it comes to contacting customers and promoting our services.

This is the concept behind the work of Marc Miller, author of A Seat at the Table. Marc calls on salespeople to shed their traditional sales role and become businesspeople who sell. Although this is not a new concept, Marc presents the concept in a fresh way that can be applied to any field of sales. Marc is founder and CEO of Sogistics Corporation, an internationally known sales productivity improvement firm who helps organizations to better understand, connect, and add value to their customers’ strategies as a way to drive more profitable sales growth.

If you would like to learn more about this innovative sales approach, we invite you to join Marc Miller for our upcoming Soundview Live webinar, How to Radically Improve Sales Productivity, on August 31st. And bring your questions for Marc, as we will open up the discussion for attendees to query him on their unique sales problems.

I expect that all sales people would like to be in the enviable position of being on a client’s speed-dial when they’re looking for advice and guidance.

You can find additional sales advice in our summary of Exceptional Selling and in the books Consultative Selling by Mark Hanan, Solution Selling by Michael Bosworth, and Relationship Selling by Atul Uchil.

Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

What is the difference between good enough and excellent? The immediate response to this question by most executives would be that we must always strive for excellence, but is it that clear-cut?

There are many business books that emphasize the importance of excellence, of doing our best at all times. One example of this is a book we just summarized by Brian Tracy called Full Engagement. In this book Tracy states “Studies have shown that on average, employees are working at only a fraction of their potential. What are managers to do? How can they inspire their people to perform at their absolute best?” He then provides the “secrets” to unlocking superstar performance.

But a new book to be released in October provides a different perspective. Written by Aaron Nurick, The Good Enough Manager takes a unique approach to bringing out the best in employees.  The concept of the Good Enough Manager, or GEM, is based on the psychological theory of the good enough mother who provides an environment where an infant learns to develop an autonomous and genuine self.

Just as there is no such thing as a perfect parent, managing people in organizations is an inherently human and fallible endeavor, mainly because managing occurs by and through human relationships. So rather than looking for ways to drive employees to excellence, Nurick is suggesting that managers provide the environment for them to thrive, and to develop their own unique abilities.

The end result may be the same, but the process is quite different. To borrow another phrase from parenting, should we be “helicopter managers” hovering over our employees’ every move, or provide them with a nurturing environment through mentoring and modeling. Could good enough be the best way to manage?

You might also want to check out a few other titles that bring a different slant to the management process: Leading Outside the Lines by Jon Katzenbach and Zia Kahn and The Hands-Off Manager by Duane Black and Steve Chandler.

Update from Soundview Live: Questions to Ask a Potential Hire

If you attended last week’s Soundview Live event with Bill Wiersma, author of The Power of Professionalism (get your copy of the Soundview Summary here!), you know that we had a large and very interactive audience. We covered a tremendous amount of material but there was one very important question from the listening audience to which Bill wanted to devote more time.

Several listeners checked in to ask about what questions someone can ask a potential hire during the interview process to reveal the candidate’s level of professionalism. As Bill indicated, this is a subject that could easily have filled a second Soundview Live event. As a result, he kindly agreed to put up a post on his blog at to reveal some good questions to ask to uncover a person’s professionalism. Click here to see the blog post and Bill’s response to this key point.

Were you unable to attend this Soundview Live event? If so, you missed a fantastic discussion of the importance of professionalism and the Seven Mindsets of Trusted Professionals. There was a great segment on mastering one’s emotions as opposed to being enslaved by them. However, I think the most useful part of the program was Bill’s discussion of the idea that being a professional enhances trust and is as important to your business as financial capital.

If you missed the event, the good news is that you now have the opportunity to listen to it whenever you’d like. Visit Soundview’s Web site and download the archive edition of Soundview Live featuring Bill Wiersma.

And don’t forget this week’s edition of Soundview Live featuring Deiric McCann, the author of Leadership Charisma. Soundview subscribers can attend for FREE!

Anyone Can Be Charismatic

Charisma – a special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires allegiance and devotion.

Do you know someone who has charisma? It’s easy to recognize isn’t it? A person with charisma is someone you want to be around, someone who makes you feel good, inspired, motivated to make more of yourself. This is why people with charisma make good leaders. They can “rally the troops” and move people to get things done.

A man who stands out in my memory visited our church a few times. When he spoke, his voice demanded your attention, his humble manner earned your immediate trust, and his words evoked authority. When he talked to individuals they listened attentively and he could say even the most difficult things with acceptance.

What about yourself? Do you have charisma? Perhaps you think that you’re either born with it or you’re not, so why try to gain charisma. Deiric McCann would disagree. In his book, Leadership Charisma, McCann makes the case that anyone can have charisma if they know how to pursue it. And he backs up his claim with research from over 40,000 leaders worldwide.

To learn firsthand about McCann’s findings, we’ve invited him to our next Soundview Live webinar, Becoming a Charismatic Leader, on August 24th. He will present his four-step Charisma Model which promises to make you a more charismatic leader.

This is what Brad Sugars, chairman of ActionCoach says about Deiric McCann’s work:

“Leadership Charisma looks at a style of leadership long presumed to be unattainable for most people not ‘naturally’ born ‘charismatic’ … and gives people real, tangible, and quantifiable tools and behaviors they can immediately use to increase their personal effectiveness. This is one of the few resources I know that delves deeply into why this style of leadership is so effective, how it can be used and applied by anyone, and how it can be implemented in any organization. If you are looking for a resource that will help you passionately share a vision and purpose – and enlist others to help you make that happen – this book is for you.”

Quite a ringing endorsement isn’t it? So why not join us next week to see for yourself. And after you hear McCann speak, come on back to this post and leave your comments about his claims.

Google Exploits the Chaos

Monday’s breaking news was certainly the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google. When a juggernaut like Google; with search engine dominance, Android used by over 39 handset makers, a massive video-sharing site in YouTube, their new social media site Google+ at over 10 million in beta, and the controversial Google Books project; picks up a major phone/hardware maker, everyone better pay attention. 

 What are the ramifications of this acquisition? They’re many and diverse, and some of the ripples won’t be seen for years, but here are a few to consider:

  • Although Google is promising to keep Android open to its partners, certainly Motorola will benefit from being on the inside track with software development for its devices.
  • Apple and Microsoft have been in an uneasy partnership of late, buying up patents to keep them away from Google. With Motorola, Google picks up over 17,000 patents and instantly strengthens its position substantially. 
  • What about that much-desired place in your living room? Microsoft tried to get there unsuccessfully, and Apple is gaining ground. But with Motorola, Google gets the major manufacturer of set-top boxes used by cable companies, and the MEDIOS system.
  • And let’s not forget another great market – government. Before Motorola Solutions split from Motorola Mobility, they had a strong foothold on government contracts. Look to Motorola to help Google work its way into this lucrative marketplace. 
  • But of greatest interest to our readers is the content play. First they acquired YouTube, and then they launched Google Books. What’s next? Movie and TV production? Online newspapers? Book publishing? As content providers know, devices have no value without content. So it’s only a matter of time before Google moves to control the water, not just the hose. 

 Our summary of Exploiting Chaos by Jeremy Gutsche speaks directly to what is happening with Google, as he argues that periods of uncertainty actually fuel opportunity, reshuffle the deck and change the rules of the game. Google has certainly done that!