Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Let It Rain!

After the devastating rains that we’ve experience here on the east coast, you may not want to hear anything more about rain, but today I’m talking about a different kind of rain – the kind that will make you money.

Rainmaker” is a term used in business for the sales people who bring in the most new clients and revenue. From this term, Mike Shultz and his partner John Doerr of the RAIN Group have developed their sales training approach around the acronym RAIN, which stands for Rapport, Aspirations and Afflictions, Impact and New Reality.

In this training program and their recent best-selling book Rainmaking Conversations, Shultz and Doerr provide a proven system for leading masterful conversations that they guarantee will fill the pipeline, secure new deals and maximize the potential of each account.

In their book, the authors start with the salesperson. They suggest that you must ask some hard questions of yourself if you really want to become a rainmaker, questions that I found to be very insightful.

  1. How strong is my desire to achieve in sales?
  2. How committed am I to doing what I need to do to succeed?
  3. How energetically will I pursue success?
  4. How’s my attitude?
  5. Do I accept responsibility for my outcomes or do I make excuses?
  6. Am I willing to face my sales demons?

There is real wisdom in this approach, because if a salesperson is not properly motivated, no amount of training or coaching is going to help them succeed. If you’re involved in sales, you might want to ask yourself these questions as well. And if your answers reveal real motivation for becoming a rainmaker, you’ll want to join us on October 6th for our Soundview Live webinar with Mike Shultz entitled Mastering the Art of Sales Conversations.

Mike will explain his approach in-depth, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask those nagging questions you have about your own situation. Then you’ll be saying “Let It Rain sales.”

Religion and Business Part II

As promised, I’m continuing a 2-part series on the melding of religion and business, which was inspired in part by the many books that come across our desk written by authors who are upfront about their faith and its effect on their approach to business and life.

The perfect example of this is John Maxwell. Many of Maxwell’s books are listed in both business and Christian catalogs through his partnership with Thomas Nelson, due to the fact that he was a pastor for many years and uses examples from his ministry days in his leadership books. This includes books like The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Maxwell draws many of his principles from the Bible, such as servant leadership and the priority of the family in business and life.

Most business people are also aware of Stephen Covey’s Mormon roots, which show up in his commitment to the family, the application of his 7 habits across books aimed at teens, families and more, and even within some of his 7 habits. In Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw, Covey encourages people to have a balanced program of self-renewal, and one if the items this includes is “Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service.”

Patrick Lencioni is another great example. In the midst of writing several successful fables teaching key business principles, he also wrote a book for the family called The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family. In his Point of View blog on the subject, he refers several times to his leadership and experience in his church. It’s clear that his church experience shapes his business views and vice versa.

In the political and educational realms there has been this strong push to surgically remove all mentions of religion, with a constant cry for the separation of church and state. While in business the opposite is happening, to the benefit of business and its people. Perhaps there’s something that our other institutions can learn from the business world. Namely that it’s okay to look for applications from the spiritual into the physical world, as long as there is, to again quote from A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America, “no bully pulpit promotion of traditional religion.”

In the coming weeks we’ll be looking at some of the recent trends in business book topics. What are you seeing for trends?

Book Review: Beyond Performance

The achievement of success is only 50 percent of the struggle for the majority of companies. Once a company reaches a level of prosperity, the ability to sustain (or, more likely, increase) the profits, good publicity and employee satisfaction is, some would argue, more difficult than the original climb to the top. According to authors and consultants Scott Keller and Colin Price, only one-third of companies that achieve success are able to sustain it for a length of time. After extensive research, Keller and Price arrived at the conclusion that the difference maker for that slim number of organizations is an awareness of and devotion to organizational health. They elaborate on the intricacies of how to grow and maintain a company’s health in their book Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage. It’s the latest title available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary!

Reading the phrase “organizational health” may cause some executives to recoil, thinking that Beyond Performance is a study in “soft skills.” As has been proven in a number of business books, and again in Keller and Price’s work, the companies that assume their organization’s own level of health is excellent are generally the ones that could most benefit from a bit of resuscitation. Keller and Price do an excellent job of demonstrating the importance of organizational health to a business’s continued success, but what no reader should miss is their argument that performance and health are not mutually exclusive. The authors take readers inside the science of organizational health and reveal methods for executives to create a better all-around commitment to organizational objectives.

Beyond Performance is available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary in multiple digital formats. To get your copy, visit Soundview’s Web site

Jazz Up Your Business Creativity

What do Jazz music and business innovation have to do with each other? Not much unless you’re Josh Linkner. Josh is a Berklee-trained professional jazz guitarist, CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, and Adjunct Professor of Applied Creativity at the University of Michigan. His jazz experience is the inspiration for an innovative approach to stirring the creative juices in business, an approach that is captured in his best-selling book Disciplined Dreaming.

In a series of blogs back in 2010, Josh drew upon his jazz roots to explain six creative sparks from the world of jazz. Check them out:

  1. Trading Fours – There’s a fun improvisational technique in which jazz musicians alternate short, four-measure solos appropriately named “trading fours”. This technique can be a powerful way for you to spark your own creativity. Instead of four measures of jazz melodies, you’ll be trading ideas and concepts around your Creative Challenge.
  2. ContrastOne of the most engaging elements of a great jazz solo is contrast. Great solos are not turned on and off with a switch; they develop and build, weaving in and out while telling an exciting story. Great business improvisation is no different. By exploring contrasting elements, you will find a wellspring of creative inspiration.
  3. Mixing it up If you listen to jazz group playing the same song every night for a month, it will never sound the same twice. Mixing it up not only keeps the music fresh for audiences, it keeps the musicians fresh with new ideas. The same is true for you and your creative project. Mixing things up will not only help you overcome the blank page with exciting sparks, it will help throughout your creative endeavors.
  4. Lean on the Masters When learning the art of jazz, students not only learn technique but spend a significant portion of their study learning from the masters. In business, start small by learning one or two approaches or ideas from only one legend in any field (business, art, science, politics, etc) and see if you can apply the same approach to your own creative challenge.
  5. SubstitutionsGreat jazz musicians love to substitute one thing for another. Like a chef who decides to swap out one ingredient for another, jazz musicians find fresh ideas by “subbing it out”. You can also put this technique to use to generate sparks of inspiration. Substitutions are easy to use, and can open up fresh perspectives and ideas. Think about your creative challenge as several unique and inter-connected parts. Then, simply take one part at a time and try swapping out something fresh.
  6. Jazz is also about listening. Listening to your fellow musicians, the audience, and your own creative voice. In business, that means listening to your team, your customers, your competitors, your industry, your suppliers, the latest trends and best practice, and of course, your own creativity. Through focused listening comes adaptation.

You can learn more about spurring creativity by joining our Soundview Live webinar with Josh Linker, How to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, on September 30th. Bring your questions for Josh and who knows, perhaps he’ll bring his guitar.

Religion and Business Part I

The Wall St Journal included a thoughtful article in the Monday edition entitled “Where Religion and Business Do Mix.”  Because this is the Wealth Advisor section of the paper, the article dealt specifically with how investment counselors consider the religious beliefs of their clients when providing investment advice. A person’s moral views can affect the types of stocks to avoid, and their outlook on giving to charity can shape their distribution of funds. The consensus of those interviewed was that the subject must be handled carefully, but if a client brings up the issue of faith then it’s open for discussion as to how their faith might affect investment decisions.

 The whole area of religion and business certainly must be handled with care, but not at the expense of avoiding it completely. For many individuals with strong beliefs, to ignore them is to ignore an integral part of the person. The challenge is of course how to bring the issue of beliefs about God and religious-based morality into business discussions without offending someone.

For a privately owned business the beliefs of the owner can be applied or not as the owner decides. A prime example is Chick-fil-A. They have been closed on Sundays since 1946 and in spite of that have become the second largest chicken restaurant chain in the country with 43 consecutive years of positive sales growth and 2010 annual sales of $3.5 billion.

As their website states, “Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. He has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual. He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and their Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so. That’s why all Chick-fil-A Restaurants are closed on Sundays. It’s part of our recipe for success.”

 Business Week published an informative article back in 1999 that provides a wider view of the spiritual movement in corporate America. The article refers to the first empirical study of the issue, A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America, published in October of 1999 by Jossey-Bass, which found that employees who work for organizations they consider to be spiritual are less fearful, less likely to compromise their values, and more able to throw themselves into their jobs. Author Ian I. Mitroff says ”Spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.” Fully 60% of those polled for the book say they believe in the beneficial effects of spirituality in the workplace, so long as there’s no bully-pulpit promotion of traditional religion.

How does your company handle issues of faith? Do your beliefs affect the way you look at work? If you have thoughts on this issue, please post your comments. Next Wednesday we’ll look at religious views in the business book arena.

The Fall’s Best Titles Are At!

As the top half of the globe enters the season of autumn, business readers need to make the most of their waning daylight hours. For maximum information with a minimum investment of one’s time, you should make it a point to download the three newest titles available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries. This month’s must-reads will help power your sales department, smoothly handle change management and raise your level of emotional intelligence. Here’s a breakdown of the newest summaries:

Beyond Performance by Scott Keller and Colin Price: In Beyond Performance, McKinsey & Company’s Scott Keller and Colin Price give you everything you need to build an organization that can execute in the short run and has the vitality to prosper over the long term. Drawing on the most exhaustive research effort of its kind on organizational effectiveness and change management, Keller and Price put hard science behind their big idea: that the health of an organization is equally as important as its performance.

Rainmaking Conversations by Mike Schultz and John E. Doerr: Conversations make or break everything in sales. Every conversation you have is an opportunity to find new prospects, win new customers, and increase sales. Rainmaking Conversations provides a proven system for leading masterful conversations that fill the pipeline, secure new deals, and maximize the potential of your account. Rainmaking Conversations offers a research-based, field-tested, practical selling approach that will help you master the art of the sales conversation.

Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: Do you have what it takes to succeed in your career? What distinguishes star performers from the mediocre is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is actually a set of skills that anyone can acquire, and in this practical guide, Daniel Goleman identifies them, explains their significance, and shows how they can be fostered. As Goleman documents, emotional intelligence is the essential ingredient for reaching and staying at the top in any field, even high-tech careers.

Soundview subscribers are already enjoying these titles! To find out how you can get your copy (in a variety of digital formats!) visit

Is Your Company Optimized?

In 2008, UPS wanted to increase the fuel efficiency of its 88,000 delivery trucks. With such a large fleet, even an incremental increase in fuel efficiency would result in major savings for the company. One efficiency problem that UPS discovered was the amount of time the trucks idled while waiting to make left-hand turns. Using special optimization routing software, UPS was able to redraw its delivery routes to favor right-hand turns. As author Steve Sashihara writes in The Optimization Edge: Reinventing Decision Making to Maximize All Your Company’s Assets, “In 2005, the software helped UPS eliminate 464,000 driving miles in Washington, D.C., alone, saving 51,000 gallons of fuel.”

UPS is just one of many winning companies, writes Sashihara, that illustrate the power of what he calls optimization, which he defines as “a decision-making process and a set of related tools that employ mathematics, algorithms and computer software not only to sort and organize data, but to use that data to make recommendations faster and better than humans can.” Optimization, he writes, allows companies to “squeeze every ounce of value” from their assets.

According to Sashihara, the best companies — the ones that have been able to beat their competitors and stay on top even during the worst of the economic downfall — are those that have taken full advantage of the optimization edge. Today, executives need, more than ever, to look at their companies and determine where there might be opportunities for optimization initiatives. Key questions for executives include:

  • What are my company’s underutilized assets? For example, train capacity for a railroad or the face time that a pharmaceutical company’s sales reps spend with doctors might be optimized to bring greater value for the company.
  • Where and how are repetitive decisions about key assets being made in my company? Improving the accuracy of those decisions by even 10 percent could have a major impact on profitability.
  • How accurate are our forecasts?

If you would like to learn how you can make the most of your assets, join us on September 22nd for our webinar with Steve Sashihara entitled How to Maximize Your Company’s Assets. Steve will provide examples of other companies that have found efficiencies through his 5-step methodology for optimization. A 60-minute investment of time will be well worth it if you can save your company thousands of hours and dollars.

Content is STILL King

I recently spent a day searching on Google. I searched for cars, flights, deals on soap and anything else I could think of, sometimes following a string of totally unrelated searches just for the fun of it. My wife finally dragged me away after 9 hours of searching just to eat a meal. My last words as I saw the Google logo disappearing from view, was “this is my food.”

Do you believe a word I just said? Of course you don’t, because searching is not something we do for entertainment, we search because we’re looking for something. Searching is the necessary evil of finding something on the internet, not an end in itself.

But some “industry executives” would have us believe that “web navigation is more valuable than content.” In a recent WSJ article on the ouster of Carol Bartz as CEO of Yahoo, the writers made the case for the devaluing of content. Rishad Tobaccowala of Vivaki was quoted as saying, “People tell me that content is king, but that is not true at all. Most people make money pointing to content, not creating, curating or collecting content.”

Now I must admit that I am in the business of creating content, so perhaps my view of this issue is skewed. But has anyone ever totaled up the combined revenue of the search sites of the world, and compared that number to the total revenue of all e-commerce sites, airline ticket sales, restaurant meals, cars sales, and everything else to which search points us? Content is the basis for search engines. Without content there would be no Google, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube or any other site that survives by pointing to content.

I just did a quick scan though my Soundview Online Library to view our recent content. We have summaries of books by such excellent thinkers as Daniel Goleman, Jay Elliot, Guy Kawasaki, Josh Linkner, Daniel Burrus, and that’s just from the last few months. In addition we host webinars with these business writers to bring them together with our customers, and conduct video interviews with local executives dealing with real-life business decisions.

Google can point to our site, but they can’t provide the content. Speaking of Google, didn’t they just purchase Zagats? Isn’t this so that they have control over more content? Of course we shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us. Google does provide us a lot of traffic, but the relationship is symbiotic.

A more productive avenue of thinking than this “search versus content” ideology is that advocated by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams in their latest book Macrowikinomics. The five principles of this book are collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence. The authors argue for a more cooperative marketplace. Think how that might affect the relationship between the search giants and the content to which they point. What are your thoughts? Does search rule, or content, or does there need to be a truce called and an alliance negotiated?

Book Review: Win

Best-selling author and top pollster Dr. Frank I. Luntz first gained popularity with his 2007 release Words that Work. That title offered a method for using the power of language to gain an edge in any situation. Luntz’s ability to harness the potential of language and channel it into a tool for higher achievement resurfaces in his latest work. In Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary, now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary at, Luntz continues to instruct readers how to dominate the workplace and beyond with structured communication that both touches emotional buttons and generates results.

Win pushes Luntz’s “Nine P’s of Winning” as the preferred method for reaching the reader’s personal summit. The nine P’s cover a variety of subjects, including networking, partnerships, and negotiation, among others. Luntz’s abilities as a communication expert translate well to the printed page. He races through each of the nine P’s of winning, wasting neither words nor the reader’s time. While some of the examples he uses to reinforce his point are present in many business books (i.e. Bill Clinton’s strengths as a communicator, Michael Jordan’s abilities to push teammates to greatness), Luntz digs deeper into how the concept which the familiar person or company represents can be applied to the reader’s experience.

One of the most important takeaways for readers is Luntz’s suggestion that there is no one recipe for success. Becoming a winner requires following a set of rules that, when linked together, form the common elements found in most success stories. Luntz’s book is an excellent read for executives searching for the next gear in their professional lives.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of Win in a variety of digital formats, visit!

Delivering Extraordinary Customer Experiences

I expect that most of us remember a time not too long ago when the latest customer service mantra was “Underpromise and Overdeliver.” This concept made sense to a point. If you promise a customer that his shipment will arrive in 5 to 7 days, and he receives it in 3, he’ll be delighted. However, human nature being what it is, the customer will then begin to ignore your promise and expect delivery in 3 days every time. Advantage gone.

Rick Barrera advocates for a different approach to customers which he calls “Overpromise and Overdeliver.” Top companies like Apple, Pottery Barn, American Girl and Zipcar overpromise to lure customers in, and then overdeliver to keep them.

Barrera explains how aligning three types of customer contacts – Product TouchPoints, System TouchPoints and Human TouchPoints – can create dramatic market differentiation. Here’s an example:

TouchPoint #1: Product – Your espresso maker will do the job it’s designed to do without having to resort to flipping through manuals, changing brew settings, grinding beans and measuring and tamping. You offer prepackaged coffee pods that you just pop into the maker, and steaming espresso flows into the cup.

TouchPoint #2: System – In order for this espresso maker to keep its value to the customer, you must have a system in place to get them new coffee pods quickly and easily, by phone and the internet. The first time a coffee order is late, the machine may get packed away in the basement.

TouchPoint #3: Human – Customers also need to know that they can call and talk to a person about their order or about the machine. You need to have people in place who are knowledgeable about the customer, their order history, and especially the espresso machine itself.

Perhaps you’re trying to find a way to differentiate your product or service from your competition. Why not join us on September 15th when Rick Barrera will speak at our Soundview Live webinar How to Deliver Extraordinary Customer Experiences. Bring your questions for Rick as well. We’ll be providing attendees with a free copy of the Soundview summary of Overpromise and Overdeliver.

In a crowded business environment in which everyone seems to be shouting the same message at peak volume, overpromising and overdelivering is the best way to stand out.