Soundview Executive Book Summaries


The Covey Family Business

We just booked Sean Covey and Chris McChesney, authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, for an upcoming webinar in July, and as I was reviewing the book and information about the development of their execution training, I was reminded of the Covey business legacy.

Stephen R. Covey first broke onto the business scene back in 1989 when he published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The audio-book of this title later became the first non-fiction audio-book to sell more than a million copies, and the book has sold over 25 million copies.

The elder Covey has followed up his 7 Habits book with The 8th Habit, Principle-Centered Leadership, and recently The 3rd Alternative, along with various versions of the 7 Habits book and additional titles he co-authored. His highly successful Covey Leadership Center eventually merged with Franklin Quest to become FranklinCovey.

His son Stephen M.R. Covey joined the family business, moving up through the ranks to become CEO of Covey Leadership Center. He later started his own company CoveyLink with friend Greg Link. Together they wrote The Speed of Trust and recently followed this up with Smart Trust.

Another son of the elder Stephen, Sean Covey, is Executive Vice President of Global Solutions and Partnerships for FranklinCovey. He followed up his father’s 7 Habits book with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and just last month released The 4 Disciplines of Execution, based on research and training programs developed through FranklinCovey.

Even the in-laws are part of the business. A.Roger Merrill and Rebecca Merrill co-authored First Things First with Covey in 1994, and later wrote the follow-up title Life Matters.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more Coveys appear on the business scene in the coming years, since Dr. Covey has 9 children and 52 grandchildren.

The real legacy that the Coveys will leave is a laser-focused emphasis on bringing what’s important in life into business. Family values, ethical and moral values, and spiritual life all play a part in his writing and teaching. If we all could integrate our life inside and outside of work into a coherent whole, we would be saved from many of the troubling issues that currently haunt corporate America.



The Myth of Multitasking

Recently, I was on a conference call with my office and on the other line was a room full of people. As I listened, my email alert popped up and I clicked over to see what it was about. A minute later I realized that I hadn’t heard what was being said on the call. I quickly focused back on the meeting, only to be distracted again by the headline of the Wall St Journal lying open on my desk.

Then the dreaded question could be heard on the other side of the phone, “What do you think about that?” Oh, they’re talking to me and I have no idea what was just said. With a quick “I didn’t quite catch that last part, can you repeat it?”, I caught back up with the conversation while moving the newspaper out of view.

Multitasking is a myth for most of humanity. Our minds are designed to focus on only one thing at a time, and what most of us refer to as multitasking is actually linear-tasking, moving our focus quickly back-and-forth between several tasks. But our mind is focused on only one at a time.

A Utah researcher found that only about 2.5% of the population can actually multitask, a rare group of “super-taskers.” The rest of us can only truly multitask with activities that don’t require our mind to be fully engaged, such as knitting or working out. Such automatic tasks allow us to focus our mind on something else like reading or watching TV.

In The Age of Speed, Vince Poscente says that multitasking can actually slow us down. He points out that brain scans reveal that if we do two tasks at the same time, we have only half of the usual brain power devoted to each. Can we really afford to be only half there for an important activity?

Poscente believes that we should embrace speed. What he is suggesting is that we should use every technology at our disposal to speed up the unimportant tasks of our lives – the minutiae that we just need to get through. Then we can take our time with the important tasks, those things that really matter to us.

What does this look like in daily life? Well, it means that we must always be making evaluations of the tasks we’re performing. Is this a task I just need to get through as quickly as possible, and if so how can I make it more efficient? And on the other hand, if a task is important and valuable, how can I hold back the interruptions so that this time has my full attention?

An example that most of us can identify with is setting a rule of no mobile devices at the dinner table. Interaction with our family is essential and should not be interrupted by anyone’s cell phone. We draw a line here – this is not the time for speed.

In the corporate world, this concept is leading to what is called a “values-based time model.” Poscente uses the example of Best Buy and its Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). This initiative has led to a 35% increase in productivity.

So the bottom line is that multitasking is not the solution to our time pressures. Instead we need to make value-based decisions about what to focus our attention on and what to speed up with the technologies at our disposal. So when I’m on the phone with the main office I need to put aside the distractions!



Are College Graduates Prepared for the Job Market?

College graduations are coming up quickly, and as graduates prepare for final exams and exiting college life, they are also scurrying to find work.

I recently ran across a new website targeting recent graduates at Gradspring.com. This site focuses on entry-level jobs only, with a college degree requirement but 2 years or less work experience. They match graduates’ skills with the right job at no charge.

Of course there are many other sites for job-seekers like Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com, Experience.com, CareerRookie.com and CollegeGrad.com. Each has its strengths and weaknesses for the new graduate, but GradSpring.com promises to provide only jobs that have a salary commensurate with the industry standard, jobs that are truly entry-level, and jobs that have a physical workspace (no work-at-home listings).

As you or your graduate prepare for this big step out into the workforce, Soundview can also provide some resources for the new or potential employee.

This month we’re offering a special Graduation Subscription offer for Soundview Executive Book Summaries at 15% off our standard rates. In addition, gift givers can send a customized gift email to each recipient. Our business book summaries and author webinars are the perfect starter kit for anyone moving out into corporate life.

Next Thursday we’re also hosting a webinar with Eric Chester, author of Reviving Work Ethic. This will provide an eye-opening view into what employees expect from the Generation Y worker. You can register for $59, and registration is free for all Soundview subscribers.

Help the graduate in your life get off to a strong start with these resources.



Can Technology and Sanity Co-Exist?

It’s amazing how easily we’re affected by the technology around us. Do you become impatient when a website doesn’t load in less than 2 seconds? Do you become frustrated when someone doesn’t respond to your email within a minute? Does any communication that’s more than a sentence long cause you to begin scanning?

It almost makes me long for the days of rotary phones and letters that go through the mail. But of course I’m showing my age because I expect that most of you have never used a rotary phone or written a letter and sent it through the mail!

But then it struck me that the problem isn’t with technology – it’s with us. We can either allow all of our gadgets to run our lives or we can make them work for us to make our lives better. This isn’t a novel thought by any means but it’s still a reminder that I need, and perhaps you need as well.

I ran across an article in the Wall St Journal titled Employees, Measure Yourselves. The article describes a new line of software and apps that have been created to help us measure how we use our work time, collect our creative ideas, track our heart rate for stress factors, and measure a whole host of other areas of our lives. If tracking activity can reveal trends and help us to improve, then this is a good thing.

As I scanned our Soundview archive, I found a few business book summaries that demonstrate this point very well. In The Age of Speed, Vince Poscente makes the case that rather than slowing down to avoid stress and achieve balance, we should take advantage of technology to help us work more quickly and efficiently. Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, also makes the case for using technology to our advantage to become better leaders by tapping into the power of social media.

As I think about it, the very purpose of Soundview Executive Book Summaries is to leverage technology to help executives make the best use of their time, while keeping up on the latest business thinking. It started with print book summaries mailed to subscribers, then on to audio summaries that could be listened to in the car or on the treadmill, and now we offer eight digital formats for use on any computer, smartphone, e-reader or tablet.

How are you using technology to improve your life? Give it some thought and send along your ideas for others to read through our comments box.



Building a Leadership Pipeline

Over the past decade there has been an increased interest in leadership development within companies. Organizations can’t be successful if all their top talent keeps moving on to other companies, and so there is a stronger focus on developing talent from within, providing ongoing growth opportunities and the promise of continued movement up through the organization. While this may seem obvious, developing a pipeline of leaders has not always been a top priority in the past.

A classic title on this subject is The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel. In this book the authors discuss the six critical passages a leader must navigate to fully develop their leadership skills.

Passage 1: From managing self to managing others.

Passage 2: From managing others to managing managers.

Passage 3: From managing mangers to functional manager.

Passage 4: From functional manager to business manager.

Passage 5: From business manager to group manager.

Passage 6: From group manager to enterprise manager.

But they also describe the assessments and leadership development that must take place at each passage, so that the leader builds the skills to continue growing.

Stephen Drotter has just written a follow-up to this book called The Performance Pipeline in which he looks at how the work flows from layer to layer in a company, and how top executives can measure the work of leaders at every level. Ram Charan has also built upon this work with Leaders At All Levels, describing what he calls The Apprenticeship Model of leadership development.

If you would like to pursue this topic further, I would also recommend our Executive Edge report Build a Pipeline of Leaders and this month’s Executive Insights video interview with John C. Marshall of J M & Company, Finding the Leaders Who Can Build Companies. You can access these additional resources with a Soundview Premium subscription. The summaries listed above are available individually.



The Advantages of Business Book Summaries

I won’t detail the whole history of Soundview Executive Book Summaries since our beginnings back in 1978, but suffice it to say that we’ve learned a lot about business content summarization over the past 34 years.

While technology has changed; from paper, to cassette tape, to CD, and then on to digital formats like PDF, MP3, EPub and Apps – the two core advantages of concentrated knowledge have not. What all executives need is dependable content they can get through quickly, while retaining the key information.

  • Dependable Content – the proliferation of content on the internet has made it almost impossible to know when information is of high quality and from trustworthy sources. In a recent study by Bersin Research, they concluded that content libraries like Soundview’s “take much of the guesswork out of finding quality on-demand content.”

Our editorial staff reviews the books of all the major business publishers, and many smaller ones as well, to find books to then recommend to our professional review board. They choose the titles that meet our high standards to become among the 30 best business books of the year.

  •  Retaining Key Information – When reading an entire book, it’s difficult to find and retain the key points that can really make a difference to your business. Research done at Carnegie Mellon soon after Soundview began publishing book summaries demonstrated that information gained from reading a summary was more easily retained for a longer period of time then the same information in a book.

Our summaries condense 250 to 600 pages of a typical business book down to an 8 page text and 20 minute audio summary. This enables busy executives to get the key ideas of a book quickly and retain those ideas long enough to do something with them.

Of course time doesn’t stand still, and so now we’ve entered into a period where more business people are choosing to learn from video. To enhance the summarization experience, we’ve added video introductions to our summaries for the iPad format, plus a new video series called Executive Insights which interviews executives that are out in the trenches of American companies practicing what our summaries teach.

If you haven’t already, take a minute to sample one of our summaries for free. Try it on your computer, smartphone, tablet or e-reader and let us know what you think. We’re always working to meet the changing needs of busy executives.



Business Learning in Bloom with Three New Summaries

If you check your calendar today, you’ll notice that the first quarter of 2012 is rapidly coming to a close. How are you progressing on your personal and professional goals for the year? What about your people? Are your interactions with them leading to increased success for both sides? With spring upon us, it’s time to do what’s necessary to help your ambitions begin to bloom. To that end, here are three great new Soundview Executive Book Summaries to help your business development efforts:

 

by John C. Maxwell

The 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell: The concept of 5 levels of leadership is one that John C. Maxwell has taught all over the world. The levels represent stages in leadership development starting with being the boss who people follow because you have been appointed as their leader, to reaching the pinnacle of leadership, when you are followed because of who you are and what you represent. In The 5 Levels of Leadership, you will learn how to master the ability to inspire people and achieve results. Maxwell details each level of leadership and provides a clear path to reach the next.

 

 

 

 

by Harrison Monarth

360 Degrees of Influence by Harrison Monarth: The best leaders influence those who are below and above them, as well as people external to the organization, such as customers and partners. In 360 Degrees of Influence, Harrison Monarth provides advice on how to gain the trust and respect of those around you and how to expand your influence well beyond your immediate environment. Providing valuable insight into human emotion and behavior, Monarth reveals the secrets to knowing what people are thinking and feeling — maybe better than they do.

 

 

 

 

by Gary Vaynerchuk

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk: Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank You Economy principles are about the way we communicate, the way we buy and sell, and the way businesses and consumers interact online and offline. Companies and brands are now competing on a whole new level in an entirely new business era. The Thank You Economy reveals how businesses can harness all the changes and challenges inherent in social media and turn them into tremendous opportunities for profit and growth.

To get your copies of these summaries in all of Soundview’s digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.