Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: The Third Screen

The Third Screen by Chuck Martin

Author and self-proclaimed “mobile evangelist” Chuck Martin feels that we are in the midst of the biggest technical revolution in human history. In The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers In a World Gone Mobile, Martin helps readers capitalize on the technology that dominates the daily existence of the majority of their customers. His strategy-packed book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary. Appropriately enough, readers can check out the summary in formats for a variety of the mobile devices described by Martin in his book.

Martin’s ability to be in touch with his intended audience is evident from the first page. His writing style itself could serve as a how-to for enhancing a business’s methods for communicating with its mobile audience. The Third Screen delivers information in the same short, high-intensity bursts that satisfy someone scanning his or her iPhone for information. One of the key takeaways for readers is Martin’s emphasis on thinking small. The delivery of information needs personalization, a shorter lead time and presentation that is formatted for (not adapted to) mobile devices.

If you have any doubt about whether or not your business needs to increase its involvement in mobile offerings, ask yourself this question: what are you using to read this blog post right now? The Third Screen will cover everything from search to apps to location-based marketing. It’s the one book your company needs to read if it intends to make its mark in the mobile sector.

To download a copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Third Screen, and to learn more about Soundview’s unique approach to mobile learning, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



How to Be a Benevolent Dictator

As has been shown with the recent rebellion in Libya and the fate of Moammar Gadhafi, dictators are not popular. In fact the very word “dictator” stirs up images of cruelty and oppression. So it’s a bit surprising when a business author writes a book suggesting that the only way to launch a successful company is to be a dictator.

But this is what Michael Feuer does with his book The Benevolent Dictator. Feuer of course qualifies his use of the term with these words: “… this designation is not always a pejorative when combined with the modifier “benevolent.”  In fact, the case could be made that being a benevolent dictator can make the difference when starting a business from scratch and with a scarcity of time and money.”

He explains further, “As business history has taught us, success comes from a combination of focus, determination, diligence, pure grit, a good dose of luck and a touch of chutzpah.  The successful entrepreneurs I’ve known possessed all of these qualities and one other characteristic that is seldom discussed – that of being an autocrat.”

Feuer’s point is that in a new business venture, tough decisions need to be made, risks need to be taken, and this requires someone who will bite the bullet and move forward. These kinds of tough decisions require a strong leader ready to take the risk, and also ready to put himself or herself at the head of the battle.

While we may not be comfortable with the idea of working for an autocrat, I think we can understand Feuer’s point that someone needs to take ultimate responsibility for the hard decisions. And what’s even more convincing are the many companies that he points to when making his case for start-ups having a strong leader.

If you would like to hear Feuer make his case for being a benevolent dictator, we invite you to join us on November 4th for our Soundview Live webinar with Michael Feuer and his co-author Dustin Klein. He’ll be ready to answer even the toughest questions about starting a new business.



Face-to-Face Leadership

This month, as part of Soundview’s Executive Insights video series, our Senior Editor Andrew Clancy interviewed the President and Publisher of AMACOM, Hank Kennedy. The focus of the interview was face-to-face leadership and Hank had some great insights from his years as a leader in the publishing industry.

  • Walking around – we’ve heard about “managing by walking around” and Hank takes this literally. Each day he gets around the office, seeing what his people are doing. He stresses the importance of connecting with people on a personal level. Email and social media just won’t do it.
  • Employee Retention – Hank notes that “if you don’t like the people you work with, you’re going to change jobs” and so he sees face-to-face contact as essential for employee retention. When interviewing for new positions, Hank looks for smart people. He says “You can teach smart people anything.”
  • Motivation – Hank says that while the carrot works to help keep people, the stick no longer does. You can’t abuse people because they’ll just leave, no matter how bad the latest employment figures. At AMACOM they have regular Town Hall meetings where people report on what’s happening in their department. The CEO also has monthly lunches where he brings together 12 people for a bag lunch around the table.
  • Conflict – Kennedy distinguishes between two kinds of conflict, personal and systems. With personal conflict between people, he believes that they just need to grow up and work it out. He has been known to invite both parties to lunch and then not show up. “They just need to talk,” He quips. With systems conflict, he encourages people to sit down and talk through all of the issues honestly. Sometimes there’s resistance to a new system because people think they’ll no longer be needed. So these concerns need to be aired. Hank compares it to an iceberg, where only 15% appears on the surface. You need to see the whole iceberg.
  • Advice for young executives – when asked what advice he would give his younger self as he entered the workforce right out of college, he talked about work-life balance. The tendency is to work too hard, so that relationships outside of work fall apart. He believes in leaving time for family and life.

Hank Kennedy offered a great set of observations with really practical advice – well worth the time to view the whole video. If you would like to enjoy this and other video interviews, they are all available as part of our Premium Online Subscription. In addition, we also produce an Executive Edge newsletter with in-depth coverage of corresponding skills.



Book Review: TouchPoints

by Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard

Ask any leader to list a few of the irritants of his or her job and one would likely hear about frequent interruptions as a source of frustrations. Former CEO of Campbell Soup, Douglas Conant, along with consultant and co-author Mette Norgaard, understands that many of these minor interruptions are the moments in which major change can occur for your employees. They explore the power of these moments in their book TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments. This leadership must-read is now available in multiple digital formats from Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

According to the authors, the small moments that many view as interruptions are the critical moments when the power of your influence can be rapidly communicated. Each individual employee is part of a network within the organization. As the authors write, “Whatever you say or do in a TouchPoint may be quickly transmitted to five or six people in that person’s network –– and then relayed to their colleagues and so on.” This is an essential takeaway for readers of TouchPoints because the exponential impact of these moments applies equally to the negative as it does to the positive.

Conant and Norgaard encourage readers to make a “commitment to mastery” in the realm of leadership. They provide a path through three essentials (given the mnemonic of head, heart and hands) that are explained in detail that is precise and memorable. Readers will learn to develop a personal leadership model that can be applied regardless of one’s industry or level within an organization.

Count the number of times you are interrupted in the next hour, then visit Summary.com to get your copy of TouchPoints. Eight pages (or 20 minutes) later, you’ll be turning frustration into inspiration.



Lessons to Learn from BlackBerry

For anyone owning a BlackBerry, last Wednesday was a frustrating day. The company experienced a service outage that in some countries lasted three days. And because BlackBerry’s are used predominantly by business executives, this brought their productivity to a standstill.

This is bad timing for Research In Motion (RIM), the owner of the BlackBerry brand and it’s services, as sales have been slipping for that past three years with the growth of the iPhone, and especially Andriod-based phones. While Apple has increased its percentage of the market from 21.1% to 27.2% over the past year, BlackBerry’s portion has dropped from 32.5% to 10.6%. Much of this slack is being taken up by Andriod-based phones which have come out of nowhere to their current position of first with 54.7% of the market.

It would be an understatement to say that RIM is in a crisis situation. How do they handle the outage? RIM’s co-CEO’s have released a video apology on YouTube, joining other famous leaders of late. And they are simultaneously trying to divert attention to their new developments with the announcement of a new operating system at their developer conference. But is this enough to stem the tide of customers flowing to other devices?

These are tough questions, and they bring to mind the broader question of how any leader should respond in a crisis. This past year, Shaun O’Callaghan released his book Turnaround Leadership to answer that very question. O’Callaghan looks at the types of crises and their various causes, how to lead through a crisis, how to learn from dealing with crises, and most importantly how to avoid most crises in the first place.

One point he makes is around the importance of trust. After a crisis, trust levels between the company, its customers, employees, suppliers and financial stakeholders can be at dangerously low levels. O’Callaghan provides a “trust equation” to help visualize how trust happens: TRUST = (Benefit-Cost) X Intimacy / Perceived Risk.

In our upcoming Soundview Live webinar Leading Through a Crisis, Shaun will be going into detail about how to lead through crises, and will help us to understand this formula and the importance of building trust through authentic communication. Join us on October 27th and learn how you can avoid many crises in the first place, and how to lead through a crisis in a way that will make you and your company stronger in the process.



What Are Your Competencies?

While the concept of competencies has been around for a long time, first appearing in the psychology field in the 1920’s, it has really become a focus within the business community in the past ten years. As companies seek to make the most of their employees and find any competitive edge they can, they have turned to competencies as a way to better evaluate and train workers.

In the business world, competency can best be defined as a set of abilities, skills and talents that allow a person to excel at their job. In order to succeed, a business needs to have employees who can excel. So the questions that come up in this area are how can I best evaluate my employees’ competencies, and how can I then improve their competency level in the areas where they are lacking?

Of course, a whole set of services and lingo have arisen around this field. Now there are available “competency assessments” and training to close the “competency gaps.” With a small amount of research I found companies like workitect, providing competency-based talent management, and successfactors, providing software to measure and address competency gaps.

And of course, there are plenty of business books to be purchased on the subject such as Competency Mapping by Seema Sanghi, Competency-Based Performance Reviews by Robin Kessler, HR Competencies by David Ulrich et al, and Competence At Work by Lyle Spencer, to name a few.

In response to the need for tools that match training and competencies, Soundview’s Corporate Solutions product has recently added a full set of competency filters to their corporate library. Now corporate users can click on one of the competency links and see all of the book summaries, webinars, author interviews and executive videos that cover that particular competency. And at the request of individual companies, they can also match that list of competencies to the key competencies of each company.

I guess this goes back to Soundview’s core competency, which is providing key business information in the quickest and easiest-to-digest forms possible.



A Trio of Terrific Titles

This month is a great month for leaders at every level of an organization to check out Soundview Executive Book Summaries. We’ve got three new book summaries that will improve your relationships with employees, strengthen your credibility and provide you with insight on how to leverage the latest trends in technology. Here’s what you need to know:

Touchpoints by Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard: Douglas R. Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, and co-author Mette Norgaard turn conventional business wisdom on its head, suggesting that the daily interruptions that leaders face in nearly epidemic proportions are actually the moments where the greatest leadership opportunities lie. The TouchPoint model has three components and involves using the head, heart and hands to connect with employees in a way that not only enhances their individual performance, but actually transforms them into a valued member of the team.

The Third Screen by Chuck Martin: The Third Screen defines the strategies and tactics businesses will need in a world gone mobile. Marketers and businesspeople who don’t understand the untethered consumer risk becoming obsolete. This breakthrough book links the technological developments of m-commerce to the behavioral changes that accompany them, and reveals how key mobile innovators are becoming the mobile platform providers of the future.

 

Credibility by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner: In this best-selling book, Kouzes and Posner explain why leadership is above all a relationship, with credibility as the cornerstone, and why leaders must “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Building on their more than thirty years of ongoing research, Credibility expands on their seminal work The Leadership Challenge, and shows why credibility remains the foundation of great leadership.

 

To get your copy of each of these titles, in a variety of digital formats for every device, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



Engage Your Employees Now

According to Robert Half International, the average person works at about 50 percent of capacity. Because of unclear job assignments, lack of priorities, poor management and direction, and lack of feedback, the average employee wastes 50 percent or more of his or her time in activities that have nothing to do with the job.

This wasted time is consumed in idle chitchat with co-workers, extended lunches and coffee breaks, employees coming in late and leaving early, surfing the Internet and engaging in personal business and other time-filling activities that represent virtually no return to the company on the amount of money invested in paying people’s salaries, wages and benefits.

Does this describe your office? I’ve certainly experienced this in a previous company. Often I would find myself reading the same sentence over 3 or 4 times amidst the discussions across the cubicle walls of the latest game, exploits of someone’s child, or ogling over a new pair of shoes. What’s a manager to do?

Brian Tracy, in his new book Full Engagement, offers a perspective that might surprise you. Happiness! That’s it. Tracy makes the case that the prime motivator for all people is to be happy, and if you can make your employees feel happy about their work, their coworkers, and their interaction with customers and vendors, they will give you their best work 8 hours a day.

To learn more about how managers can engage their employees, we’ve invited Brian to discuss his findings and engagement methods with us at the next Soundview Live webinar, Unlocking Superstar Performance.  Our goal is to provide managers with hands-on advice that they can begin using immediately in their workplaces.

Because of our long-time relationship with Brian Tracy, we are able to offer this webinar free of charge for all attendees. So sign up today and bring your questions for Brian.



Book Trends Part II

Leadership and communication are trends that have been and will continue to be with us, but some business book trends come and go with the hot topics of the business world.

Not too surprisingly, social media is one of those hot topics that are currently generating new books. Everyone wants to know how to make money with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Coupled with this subject is that of customer empowerment, that through the use of social media the customer has taken the reins and is telling companies what they want.

Chris Brogan is among the authors filling the need for information in the social media arena, with Trust Agents which he wrote with Julien Smith last year, and Google+ for Business coming out in November. Shel Israel and Robert Scoble discuss blogs in Naked Conversations, Adam Penenberg demonstrates the power of viral media in Viral Loop, and Robert Bloom explains the new power of the customer in The New Experts.

In tandem with the green movement, we’re also seeing an emphasis on corporate and personal responsibility. Customers are making product, service and investment decisions based in part on how good a “corporate citizen” a company is, rather than just on how good the products are.

Carol Sanford just released a book entitled The Responsible Business, about which we’re hosting a webinar tomorrow. Daniel Goleman recently shifted from emotional intelligence to Ecological Intelligence.  Joel Kurtzman emphasizes having a Common Purpose that looks beyond the bottom-line. And Tim Sanders discusses the responsibility revolution moving through corporate American in Saving the World at Work.

One more trend that needs a mention is innovation. Although this topic isn’t new, there has been a strong emphasis in the business book world on recreating companies to be innovation powerhouses. Clayton Christensen is a leader in this arena, with the concepts he introduced in The Innovator’s Solution, and then is applying to other fields like healthcare, with The Innovator’s Prescription. Josh Linkner explains how to empower employees to be creative in Disciplined Dreaming, and Norihiko Shimizu describes the continuous innovation practices of Toyota in Extreme Toyota.

One great thing about these prolific business authors is that they are ready to fill in the information gap when a new trend comes up on the horizon. Our challenge as businesspeople is to find the time to read and apply this information before the next sweeping change takes place. That’s why Soundview is in business – to cut down the time from book to application.



Steve Jobs: Success Through Simplicity
October 10, 2011, 12:09 PM
Filed under: Books in General, From the Editor, General Business, Leadership | Tags: ,

Where do we go from here?

It’s the question that technology enthusiasts, market watchers and hundreds of millions of consumers are left to ponder in the wake of the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. His ability to forever alter the landscape of consumer technology, something which he did with regularity in his later years, leaves a considerable gap which numerous individuals and organizations will attempt to fill. Part of what makes the loss of Jobs so devastating is that he was an active driver of his company’s groundbreaking efforts. When Henry Ford died in 1947 at age 83, the Ford Motor Company was decades beyond the Model T and the introduction of the assembly line, innovations in which Ford had tremendous influence. Apple and Jobs were the subject of constant conversation and while this scrutiny will now continue, it will include a portion of speculation not previously present.

In a tribute last week, President Barack Obama stated that Jobs exemplified the qualities that define all great American innovators. He was, “brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

In Jobs’ case, the way in which he thought differently from other individuals may, in retrospect, be his greatest singular strength. Jobs realized early in Apple’s history that the best hope for the mass marketing of computer technology involved taking the most complicated products and delivering them with the most simple user experience.

In a 1996 interview with National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, Jobs demonstrated this idea when he told host Terry Gross about Apple’s development of the mouse. Jobs and other Apple staffers had visited Xerox, the company that, at the time, was working on using a Graphical User Interface. “We found that Xerox’s [mouse] had three buttons. We found that people would push the wrong button or were scared they were going to push the wrong button, so they always looked at the mouse instead of at the screen.” Through Jobs’ persistence, and a good amount of pressure applied to other executives, Apple’s Macintosh debuted with a single button. More than two decades later, Jobs hammered away at developers to ensure that Apple’s iPhone mirrored the “one button” approach.

An executive’s legacy is weighed and recorded one decision at a time. While he will be remembered most for changing the way people do many ordinary tasks (listen to music, use the phone, etc.), the business world should keep Jobs’ principle of success through simplicity at the forefront of its mind.

For more information, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.