Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Book Review: Breaking the Fear Barrier

by Tom Rieger

When an executive looks at the state of his or her company, there may be problem areas that are easy to notice. For example, a department whose projects are consistently delayed or brought in over budget. The difficult part of an executive’s job is digging beneath the surface to find the root cause of the problem. According to author Tom Rieger, the primal emotion of fear may manifest itself in ways that can derail even the most technical aspects of a business. His book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out and What to Do About It is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Fear can create a workplace environment in which self-preservation leads to destructive practices. Rieger discusses the walls that individuals and departments build and how to knock them down. The book’s brevity means readers receive maximum benefit for their investment of time. He presents the “pyramid of bureaucracy,” a model for the way fear builds upon fear in organizations. He gives detailed analyses of each level of the pyramid: parochialism, territorialism, and empire building.

One aspect of Rieger’s book that may surprise readers is his contention that many of the barriers created in the workplace are self-imposed. While a manager may heartily agree with the notion that his or her employees are responsible for their own problems, the idea is more difficult to accept when the spotlight is turned on the executive. However, Rieger’s breakdown of how to eliminate fear will only benefit those readers who are honest enough with themselves to admit that fear is causing an issue.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of Breaking the Fear Barrier, visit Soundview’s Web site,

All it Takes is One Piece of Paper
January 27, 2012, 4:27 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Leadership. You would think that it could be a fairly simple, straightforward practice. But you wouldn’t know it from the proliferation of leadership books and experts.

In my Soundview online library I have 98 leadership titles, and that’s just the leadership books that made our cut for “30 best business books” over the past decade. This represents only a fraction of the leadership titles actually published. And each author has their own take on what makes a great leader.

So how do you make sense of all this information, to become the best leader you can be? Yes, I’m going to recommend yet another leadership book. But this one is different. In One Piece of Paper, Mike Figliuolo guides readers to condense all that leadership advice down to a one-page philosophy of leadership that fits you, your personality, and your style.

Figliuolo asks straight-forward questions across four areas:

  • Lead yourself: what motivates you and what are your rules of personal conduct?  What do you want the “future you” to look like and stand for?
  • Lead the thinking: where are you taking your team and how will you innovate to drive change?
  • Lead your people: how can you lead a team as individuals rather than faceless cogs in a machine?
  • Lead a balanced life: How do you achieve equilibrium between work and personal obligations?

He then guides you through the process of taking your answers and putting your personal leadership philosophy onto one side of a piece of paper, a guide that can serve you well into the future.

If you would like help preparing your own philosophy of leadership, I recommend that you join our upcoming Soundview Live webinar with Mike Figliuolo entitled A Simple Approach to Powerful Leadership. And bring your questions as well.

Apple’s iBooks Author: Will It Work for Business?

Last week I wrote about the (then) upcoming Apple announcement and their foray into education. Well, now everyone has heard the details about Apple’s plans for textbooks and it’s really a mixed-bag.

On the plus side, Apple is offering a free software package for building interactive textbooks. The features that can be used with a book include templates by subject, drag and drop for images, video and slides, integration of widgets in Java or HTML5, and the auto-creation of a glossary of terms.

For users of the books the features are also quite impressive, including highlighting with the swipe of a finger, note taking which can be turned into study cards and communication with instructors for assignments and progress, plus of course the enjoyment of interactive media.

But there are negatives, and these began hitting the blog-waves within minutes after the presentation at the Guggenheim museum. First is the cost factor. These interactive books can only be viewed on an iPad, so every student will need one. And the books must be purchased through the iBook store. The second negative is the resulting control issue. The books are not in a pure ePub format so they can’t be used on other devices or platforms. And the agreement you sign when using their software states that the books can only be sold in the iBooks store, although they can be given away free in other venues.

So what does all of this mean for business authors and publishers? I think it still opens up a great new venue for selling business books.

Regarding the plus side above, these features open up a whole new avenue for education and training in the corporate world. To have books that are interactive, with audio, video, slides and other tools integrated into the e-books, will be great for engaging employees at all levels. And the potential for interaction with trainers or managers around the content is equally beneficial.

As far as the negative issues go, these are less limiting in business than in education. Companies can afford to buy the devices needed to distribute training materials, and can purchase through the iBooks store if necessary, although I expect that some bulk discounting will be available. I would however suggest having a lawyer look at the iBooks Author agreement.

Business authors and publishers should be on the front edge of this new development because there is the potential to sell a lot more books and to get new business concepts into the hands of many more people in a dynamic new format. Let me know if you hear of any business authors taking advantage of the iBooks Author software.

Book Review: The Performance Pipeline

by Stephen Drotter

When companies examine the impact of leadership in their organizations, many of them take a top-down view. This runs counter to current wisdom, reflected in books such as John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader, that every person has the opportunity to lead up, across and down in an organization. For organizations that want to increase the effectiveness of leadership and performance at every level of a company, the challenge becomes finding the best methods to develop those future leaders and get each level of an organization to perform quarter after quarter.

Stephen Drotter, author and CEO of Drotter Human Resources, has more than 40 years experience with ensuring that companies have more than one pair of capable hands into which to entrust their future, not to mention the present. His book The Performance Pipeline: Getting the Right Performance at Every Level of Leadership is an excellent leadership insurance policy for companies that are looking to the future. It’s also the newest summary available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Drotter worked with more than 100 organizations around the globe to refine the process of creating a Performance Pipeline. The book provides readers with a fascinating breakdown of a company’s various levels. Drotter covers the expectations, requirements and results at every level. This assessment will create some surprises for readers. Drotter’s descriptions of the functions of a particular level, such as Function Managers, may be different from how the position currently operates in a reader’s company. With that in mind, Drotter does an excellent job of reinforcing the reasons why readers need to realign job responsibilities to focus on the specific deliverables he describes. Drotter succeeds in creating a readable, applicable plan that has enough flexibility (or, context, as he puts it) to make it take the shape of the organization to which it is applied.

To get your copy of the summary of The Performance Pipeline, visit Soundview’s Web site,

The Decision to Trust

I ran across a 2010 article by the Pew Research Center entitled Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor. Some of the numbers were surprising and discouraging. We are currently at our lowest level of trust in government since before 1978. Barack Obama has the lowest trust rating of any president over the past eight administrations, including Richard Nixon.

And this isn’t just a trend in our view of the government. The Pew research also shows a low rating of trust in banks, large corporations, national news media, the entertainment industry and labor unions. Those organizations in which we have high trust include colleges & universities, churches, small businesses, and technology companies.

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised then that there is a new trend in business books around the topic of trust. Stephen M.R. Covey just released his second book on trust called SmartTrust. Other recent books include Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and The Decision to Trust by Robert Hurley.

Hurley’s book is especially interesting in that he not only makes a strong case for the importance of trust in organizations, he also provides the steps to building trust at all levels. Here is what Hurley promises that we can learn and do about trust:

•Make better decisions concerning who to trust, to avoid harm and increase pressure on untrustworthy agents to reform themselves.

• Allocate your trust building energy better by appreciating how different people approach the trust decision.

• Identify the root cause of trust issues based on 10 trust factors.

• Offer concrete interventions and reforms that can enhance trust in each of the 10 trust


• Clarify in which situations building and repairing trust can work and those where it

may not work.

• Provide a method for enhancing trust at different levels: with a person, within teams,

across teams, across national cultures, within organizations, and in leadership.

If you found yourself nodding with agreement at the lack of trust in your organization, then you might benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar with Robert Hurley, How to Create a High-Trust Organization. Hurley will discuss the trust crisis in detail and, more importantly, tell us how to turn things around.

Can Apple Help Business Books?

The press is all abuzz about Thursday’s Apple announcement at the Guggenheim museum in New York. While rumors have been circulating for weeks, two reports seem to have an inside scoop worth noting.

The Wall St Journal reported yesterday that Apple is working with education publishers to transform textbooks, and of course this will happen on the iPad. But ars technica added a twist to the story by releasing information about a “garage-band for e-books”, software that will be available for any author or publisher to use to create interactive textbooks.

This new development, if true, could indeed transform the textbook industry and the educational process. Not only will these new “iTextbooks” allow students to interact with the content, they will also open the way to social engagement around the information. Students will be able to add content, links and notes, and share this information with fellow-students and teachers. Each textbook will thus become a platform for learning rather than a one-dimensional text.

We’ll all get the scoop on this new innovation tomorrow, but in the mean time this has me thinking about the possible implications for business books. Up to this point, business book authors have had limitations as to how they could innovate with their books. Some authors have connected the printed text to websites where interactivity can take place.

But imagine instead that this interaction can now take place right in the book itself. There’s no reason that this “garage-band for e-books” can’t be applied to business information as well. Imagine that you’re reading The Performance Pipeline by Stephen Drotter and you want to implement his concepts to move work more efficiently through your company. Managers at each level could have a copy of the iTextbook, and as they read through it they could take notes and share them with other managers. The book could also provide a framework for implementation that could be filled in by the managers as a plan takes shape.

This could make any business book transformational within a company or organization, as the ideas take on life within the company. And for personal success titles, tools could be provided to help an individual learn and implement the principles in their daily life.

At Soundview we’re already on our way to implementing this type of learning environment with our iPad book summary that includes text, audio and video components. But we too could use that next step of software to help with the interactive piece. Let’s see what Apple can deliver.

Start 2012 with Three New Summaries!

As you settle into the first quarter of 2012 you’ll need to stay current with the latest trends in business. To help you achieve your goal, make sure you check out the three newest summaries now available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries:

by Stephen Drotter

The Performance Pipeline by Stephen Drotter: From the co-author of the bestselling book The Leadership Pipeline, comes the next-step resource designed to help leaders at every level succeed in an uncertain business environment. The Performance Pipeline is a groundbreaking book that is based on Stephen Drotter’s forty years of in-depth work with more than 100 companies worldwide. The book defines how work flows from top to bottom and reveals what results each layer must produce and what each layer must pass down to make the layers below successful.





by Tom Rieger

Breaking the Fear Barrier by Tom Rieger: In companies, fear can take many forms: fear of not meeting a deadline, of not getting a bonus, of losing decision rights and respect. Fear compels employees and managers to protect themselves by creating seemingly impenetrable barriers fortified by rules and practices that benefit one group while harming others. By learning from the real-world lessons in this book, leaders, managers, and employees can overcome the barriers that plague their company. The results promise to be transformational.





by Bradford D. Smart

Topgrading by Bradford D. Smart, Ph.D.: Great companies don’t just depend on strategies — they depend on people. The more great people on your team, the more successful your organization will be. But that’s easier said than done. Statistically, half of all employment decisions result in a miss-hire: The wrong person winds up in the wrong job. But companies that have followed Bradford Smart’s advice in Topgrading have boosted their successful hiring rate to 90 percent or better, giving them an unbeatable competitive advantage.




Don’t forget, Soundview also offers exclusive interviews, Webinars, video content and corporate learning opportunities.

To learn more, visit Soundview’s Web site,

How to Capture New Markets

What do James Watt’s steam engine and Apple’s iTunes have in common?

For both of these innovations the inventors looked beyond their competition to invent a whole new market. Watts transformed the world, as steam engines were harnessed to power new motors not conceived of before. Although iTunes was not as world-transforming, it completely changed the music industry and the way we listen to music.

But how does an individual or company be that one that captures a new market? Stephen Wunker provides the answers in his book Capturing New Markets. In a comprehensive manner, he first builds a case for the importance of new markets, then explains how to assess what doesn’t yet exist, and from there lays the foundational steps for how to capture that new market.

As Wunker states, “In business as in comedy, timing is everything.” And so he devotes a whole chapter on how to know when is the right time to enter the market. The business history books are filled with companies that did, and didn’t, get that timing right.

Perhaps you or your company is looking for that next great idea in your industry. If so then you’ll benefit from attending our Soundview Live webinar with Stephen Wunker on January 19th. Wunker will review his strategy for capturing new markets, and will be taking questions from participants along the way. Join us by registering for How to Capture New Markets, and invite your colleagues. You can fill a conference room since registration is per site.

Trends in Customer Service

As social media has taken hold in all areas of business, and as the mobile device has become our primary vehicle of communication and interaction with companies, this phenomenon has brought with it a resurging emphasis on customer service.

The reasons are obvious. Now when I’m not happy with a company’s service, I have more options than calling them or filling out a survey. I can now post my complaint on Facebook to all my friends, Tweet about it to my followers, and even put together a video for Youtube. Viral complaints are the new catastrophe looming over company executives. Just ask United Airlines.

So it’s no surprise that business authors have caught on to this trend and are highlighting those companies that do customer service right. Here are just a few recent titles:

Among the lessons that companies are learning is that they must keep their finger on the pulse of social media. Someone needs to constantly monitor the major social media networks for mentions of their respective company and products. In this way catastrophes can be averted by a quick response to any issue that arises. Ford, PepsiCo and Southwest Airlines are among those companies with staff dedicated to monitoring social sites and handling issues as they come up.

Do you have stories about companies that have handled (or mishandled) customer issues aired through social media? If so, we’d love to post your stories with this blog. Please comment below.

Book Review: The Invisible Spotlight

by Craig Wasserman and Doug Katz

If you are a manager, you understand the importance of the relationships you have with your employees. They can be the difference between meeting your organization’s goals and coming up short. However, you may not realize the depth to which your connection with your employees goes. Management consultants Doug Katz and Craig Wasserman point out that you (and your actions and interactions) are the subject of your employees’ thoughts on their drive home and their subsequent conversations around the dinner table. Their book The Invisible Spotlight: Why Managers Can’t Hide (now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary) will help you thrive rather than shrink in the unblinking glare of the namesake spotlight.

The authors of this book deliver an incredible amount of valuable content in a small number of pages. They skip lengthy introductions and wandering case studies in favor of tightly written chapters that push ideas gleaned from the pair’s extensive consulting work. Katz and Wasserman deconstruct popular notions of one-size-fits-all management methods. One of the more critical points for any reader is the authors’ emphasis on learning the “role” of a manager as an actor learns a role for a film or play. The expectation that a line worker can be promoted and immediately perform the functions and (more importantly) interactions required of a manager is foolish. Katz and Wasserman are quick to point out that even experienced managers need to consistently practice the skills required for good management. Most important, they advise readers never to fall prey to the perception that managers have “snap judgments.” With each management myth exploded by Katz and Wasserman, readers gain an advantage that will help them excel in their careers.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Invisible Spotlight, visit Soundview’s Web site