Soundview Executive Book Summaries


How Does Your Company Rate?

Although we’re seeing some slight improvements in our economy in recent weeks, we still have a long way to go to a full recovery. However, some are looking beyond the present crisis and see signs of a strong economy in the future – that is for those that make the grade.

In Good Company, Laurie Bassi and her co-authors make the case that to succeed in the future a company will need to meet the criteria for what they call a “good company.” They have developed a rating system (The Good Company Index) which takes into account certain criteria that are becoming essential in the new economy.

  1. Good Employer – they use a starting number based on ratings from Glassdoor.com and the Fortune list of 100 best companies.
  2. Good Seller – they use the consumer ratings of wRatings regarding quality, fair price and trust.
  3. Good Steward – they based this on statistics regarding a company’s record on the environment, penalties/fines, restraint in executive compensation and contribution to society/community.

As they state in their book, “A good company is one that starts with good intentions and then puts those into practice concretely through its actions in these three areas. Is your company good or moving toward good?

If you think that your company may not rate well and would like to move it up the charts, join Laurie Bassi and co-author Ed Frauenheim for our Soundview Live webinar Business Success in the Worthiness Era coming up on March 1st.

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Bring On the Next Boom

As we read the latest news about the financial crisis in Europe and the deficit stalemate in the United States, it’s hard to imagine that there could be a financial boom coming anytime soon. So how do we plan for the future?

Jack Plunkett, author of The Next Boom, believes that there is another boom coming, knows what to look for to predict it, and knows how companies should be planning now to prepare for it. It seems like wishful thinking until you see the hard facts and extensive research that Plunkett provides to back up his claims.

Plunkett points to three emerging trends that will lead to the next boom:

  1. A soaring global population – While some countries have seen their population growth decline, others like the U.S. are seeing continued growth. Statistics show that the U.S. could reach a population of 1 billion by 2100 to 2120. The growing worldwide population, especially among the middle class, will provide the engine for economic growth.
  2. Sweeping changes in consumers, demographics and education – There could be a tripling of trade world-wide by 2030 to $27 trillion, due to the growing needs of the populations of emerging countries like China and India.
  3. Emerging technologies, centered on health care, wireless communications, biotechnology, nanotechnology and energy – As Africa joins India and China at over 1 billion people, innovations in biotechnology will have to take place to feed this growing population. And that’s just one example of the emerging technologies that will be needed.

Plunkett’s point as he expands on these trends, is that all of these developments will create another world-wide economic boom. If his predictions pan out, then companies need to be preparing now for what’s coming.

We’ve invited Jack Plunkett to join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, Bring On the Next Boom, to hear more about these trends and what we need to do now to prepare for the future. Please join us on December 1st to hear more, and to ask your questions of the author.



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.



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?



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!

 



A Spark of Workplace Light

In the current economic climate, the idea of a guaranteed job seems like an implausible concept. However, there is one company who has delivered on its promise of continuous employment for decades. If you checked out ABC News online over the weekend, you may have seen the profile of Lincoln Electric. The Cleveland-based company builds arc welders and is a survivor in a region where industry has expanded and compacted over the last 30 years. How the company has managed to make this possible is an interesting story. The dedication and drive of the family that founded Lincoln Electric helped separate the company from its competitors and provide it a very unique position in the corporate landscape. Lincoln has endured changes in leadership, eras of profit and recession and, believe it or not, the administrations of 21 U.S. Presidents.

The company’s commitment to not lay off workers, even during times of economic turbulence, means that it’s been forced to find creative solutions to budget issues. Lincoln does not rely on the common practice of increasing reducing one’s budget expenditures by decreasing staff. The ABC News story references a few quotes by Frank Koller, the author of Spark: Lessons from Lincoln Electric’s Unique Guaranteed Employment Program. Koller’s book provides a great history of Lincoln Electric and the company’s commitment to the ideas of its founders. The book also reveals some of the details about how Lincoln Electric has been able to make guaranteed employment an ongoing policy.

Sounds like a good read, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve got good news. Soundview just debuted our summary of Spark, and it’s now available for you! Click on this link to head over to Summary.com and learn more about this great new release.



A FREE Resource You HAVE to Use!

There’s a reason I tend to conclude my posts by telling everyone to visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com. The site is regularly updated with information about newly released executive book summaries, book reviews (1,000 FREE reviews and growing!), upcoming Soundview Live Webinars and other great business learning resources.

I’ve got great news about another new resource available at Summary.com. How much do you think it would cost to attend an event where you hear vital business lectures from speakers such as Bill George, Patrick Lencioni, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Krugman and David M. Rubenstein, among others? The event is the World Business Forum, and a ticket can cost as much as $2,500.

Fortunately, Soundview has partnered with HSM Global, producers of the World Business Forum, to bring you exclusive audio summaries of the event’s major speakers. These audio summaries are available for you to listen to for FREE!

Each audio summary is a 10-minute MP3 that features a narrated overview of the speech. The summary includes actual clips from the live speech given by the presenter at World Business Forum. If these tough economic times meant that you weren’t able to spend $2,500 on a ticket to the World Business Forum, these FREE audio summaries allow you to hear what you missed.

I need to stress here that you do NOT have to be a Soundview subscriber to listen to the World Business Forum audio summaries. These exclusive content pieces are FREE for everyone to learn from and enjoy. In fact, I’d recommend starting with Patrick Lencioni, whose latest book Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty is now available as a Soundview summary!

To listen to the audio summaries from the World Business Forum, CLICK THIS LINK!