Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Work/Life Balance in a Crazy World

Back several years ago, work/life balance was a popular topic in books and articles. But as the economy crashed, most people went into survival mode and any thought of balance went out the window. Now that the economy is beginning to settle down, it’s probably a healthy thing to again consider where you’re at in that balance.

Our senior editor Andrew Clancy just completed an interview with Gail Cummings, a life coach, attorney and mother, on this challenge of work/life balance. One of his questions centered around how you evaluate your own situation. Cummings replied with several key points to consider.

  1.  Assess where you are – does your life feel like it’s balanced?
  2. Set realistic goals – focus on the greatest challenges first.
  3. Listen to your body – there are physical symptoms when we’re out of balance.
  4. Find a coach – having a coach is a gift to your well-being, and they will help to hold you accountable to your goals.
  5. Account for change – because things change so rapidly, be prepared to adjust goals along the way.

Cummings quoted one of her clients with a helpful reminder to us all: “A wall can only be strong if you build it one brick at a time.” Don’t expect immediate results but work for the long-term.

If you’d like to see the full interview which is part of our Executive Insights series, subscribe to our Premium subscription. You might also want to read some of our individual book summaries and reviews on the topic:

 Life Matters by A. Roger & Rebecca Merrill

The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente

The Seven-Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler

A More Valued Success by Paul Spitale


Are You Addicted to Urgency?

Are you addicted to urgency? While this may seem like a malady of the 21st century, Stephen R. Covey wrote about it back in 1996 in his book First Things First, and his work was inspired by The Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel published back in 1967. But certainly this addiction to the call of the urgent has become more potent with the advent of the smartphone.

Now we can receive calls and email wherever we are, day or night, not to mention accessing Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and a vast array of apps that keep us up on the weather, news and sports. Our latest hit of information is never more than a click away.

In our recent interview with Elise Roma, general manager for the North East for Franklin Covey, she talked about a new seminar that they have launched called The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. Roma makes the observation that the number one reason people give for not managing their time wisely is that they have no time – sort of the Catch 22 of the business world.

Roma offered several suggestions to “cure” our urgency addiction:

  1. Since we’re inundated with technology, we need to make it work for us. Having all your sources of information on one device reduces the pressure. When everything is synched to one device, you aren’t missing a vital piece of information you need to do your job efficiently.
  2. Plan you time at the beginning of each week, without technology. Turn away from your computer and other distractions while planning your week. And always leave space in your schedule for the unexpected.
  3. Self-renewal is essential. The Franklin Covey program suggests five sources of renewal: Move, Eat, Sleep, Relax and Connect. While these may seem obvious, doing them is still a challenge for busy executives. Exercise, regular healthy meals, adequate sleep, time for relaxation, and connecting with family, friends, church or other groups can mean survival.
  4. Productivity is not about doing more stuff, but achieving the goals that are important to your job and the success of the company. Many times we need to do less stuff in order to achieve what’s really important in our business and our life.

If you would like to hear the complete interview with Elise Roma, subscribe to the Premium Edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries, which includes monthly video interviews with top executives speaking to the important topics of our day.

Anyone Can Be Charismatic

Charisma – a special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires allegiance and devotion.

Do you know someone who has charisma? It’s easy to recognize isn’t it? A person with charisma is someone you want to be around, someone who makes you feel good, inspired, motivated to make more of yourself. This is why people with charisma make good leaders. They can “rally the troops” and move people to get things done.

A man who stands out in my memory visited our church a few times. When he spoke, his voice demanded your attention, his humble manner earned your immediate trust, and his words evoked authority. When he talked to individuals they listened attentively and he could say even the most difficult things with acceptance.

What about yourself? Do you have charisma? Perhaps you think that you’re either born with it or you’re not, so why try to gain charisma. Deiric McCann would disagree. In his book, Leadership Charisma, McCann makes the case that anyone can have charisma if they know how to pursue it. And he backs up his claim with research from over 40,000 leaders worldwide.

To learn firsthand about McCann’s findings, we’ve invited him to our next Soundview Live webinar, Becoming a Charismatic Leader, on August 24th. He will present his four-step Charisma Model which promises to make you a more charismatic leader.

This is what Brad Sugars, chairman of ActionCoach says about Deiric McCann’s work:

“Leadership Charisma looks at a style of leadership long presumed to be unattainable for most people not ‘naturally’ born ‘charismatic’ … and gives people real, tangible, and quantifiable tools and behaviors they can immediately use to increase their personal effectiveness. This is one of the few resources I know that delves deeply into why this style of leadership is so effective, how it can be used and applied by anyone, and how it can be implemented in any organization. If you are looking for a resource that will help you passionately share a vision and purpose – and enlist others to help you make that happen – this book is for you.”

Quite a ringing endorsement isn’t it? So why not join us next week to see for yourself. And after you hear McCann speak, come on back to this post and leave your comments about his claims.

Book Review: Resonate

When it comes to giving a presentation, most speakers are headed in the wrong direction. According to author and CEO of Duarte Design, Inc. Nancy Duarte, too many speakers put the focus of their presentations on themselves rather than on the audience. In her book Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary, Duarte reminds readers that the best presentations are stories where the audience stars as the hero.

Resonate provides one of the best methods ever to appear in a business book for creating a memorable presentation. It is the result of two years of intense research and work by Duarte. The core of the book’s philosophy, that presentations are stories that should take an audience to a destination, required Duarte to do extensive research into mythology, philosophy and psychology. Duarte wanted the book to be representative of a great presentation. This resulted in a book that is structured with great precision and reads with perfect pacing.

Duarte methodically rolls out the secrets to apply elements of storytelling, cinema and mythology to presentations. The purpose of each segment of Resonate leads to the ultimate goal of helping presenters establish a deeper connection with the audience.

If you visit Soundview online at, you’ll see two unique opportunities to learn more from Nancy Duarte. First, you can pick up a copy of the summary of Resonate that’s now available.

You can also sign up to join Soundview next Wednesday, March 16 at Noon (Eastern) when Nancy Duarte is the guest on the next Soundview Live Webinar. She will deliver “Creating Presentations that Persuade.” Don’t forget, Soundview subscribers can attend Soundview Live for FREE. Visit and sign-up today!

Executive Edge on Negotiating Strength

As one Soundview staffer put it the other day, “2011 is officially the Year of the Protest.” It does seem as though every day brings more and more headlines of people gathering together in an attempt to effect change. Whether the reasons are economic, political or religious in nature, protests of all sorts have been greatly aided by social technology. The use of mass collaboration has enabled people to organize, assemble and solidify their efforts in a way that the Founding Fathers or, more recently, Baby Boomers could never have imagined.

However, in many situations, real change is decided between smaller groups of individuals. These are instances where the ability to be a strong negotiator is an essential skill. The business applications of negotiation can make a significant difference in a person’s career as well as his or her ability to garner more and better opportunities for his or her company. What are some of the most important aspects of strong negotiation?

Concentrated Knowledge Corporation (the parent company of Soundview Executive Book Summaries) is exploring some of these ideas right now in its new online training publication CKC’s Executive Edge. The latest edition shows you how to negotiate from a position of strength. It’s full of ideas from thought-leaders on the subject and includes skill-building tips that will help you the next time you’re seated at the bargaining table.

If you haven’t seen Executive Edge™ yet, you’ve got to check it out. Unlike a lot of other training tools for executives that try to cover a dozen subjects at a time, Executive Edge™ focuses on one skill per issue. That means you get comprehensive coverage of a skill, enabling you to learn and retain more information.

Visit Soundview’s Web site or click here to learn more about how you can strengthen your negotiating skills with Executive Edge.

Book Review: Power

If you’ve ever wondered what causes some executives to rise to the top while others flounder in middle management, the latest book summarized by Soundview Executive Book Summaries offers some unique insight. In Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, offers a set of standards that will no doubt prove controversial to some readers.

Pfeffer sits at the opposite end of the scale from his Stanford colleague Robert I. Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss. While Sutton offers readers advice on how to create a more collaborative, humane work environment, Pfeffer offers advice on how to win in the “real” world. This is the world where it pays to get noticed, where making the right connections to leverage one’s own career goals are more meaningful than a comfortable relationship with one’s direct reports.

Pfeffer doesn’t mince words. He is completely cognizant of the fact that his advice will cause many readers to feel uncomfortable. It says a great deal that one of the endorsements that adorns the book jacket of Power is from one of Pfeffer’s former students. She confesses that his advice made her quite uncomfortable. For some readers, the true discomfort will arrive when they look around and see that many of Pfeffer’s observations ring true.

To paraphrase a character in a play by George Bernard Shaw, Sullivan sees things as we’d want them to be. Pfeffer sees things as they are. The reader can choose which path to follow.

To get your copy of the Soundview summary of Power, visit Soundview online at

Soundview Live and a Simple Game of Tennis

I thought it would be a great idea to give everyone a little preview of next week’s Soundview Live event featuring Alan Fine, author of You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock Your Greatest Potential (co-authored with Rebecca R. Merrill). You’ll have the chance to join us on Tuesday, February 22, at Noon (Eastern). Fine is currently the president of InsideOut Development, an executive coaching and training organization. But he spent a good portion of his life as a well-respected tennis coach in his native Wales. What you might not now is how his previous experience as an instructor led directly to a major breakthrough into his study of performance.

On what Fine describes as a gray day at a gray place, the Mackintosh Tennis Club to be exact, he was coaching a shy nine-year-old girl. Despite his best efforts, Fine and the girl’s mother watched on as she was unable to connect with the ball and drive it back over the net. By this point in his life, Fine was deepening his study of coaching including extensive reading on psychology, psychosynthesis, Zen and performance. This led Fine to make a simple suggestion to the girl. What he suggested caused the girl to suddenly be able to hit the ball over the net 53 times in a row.

What did Fine tell the girl? While we can’t guarantee that Fine will reveal the secret during his Soundview Live appearance (although it’s a good bet that he will), you’ll be able to find out when the Soundview summary of You Already Know How to Be Great debuts in the coming months. Don’t forget, Soundview subscribers can attend Soundview Live for FREE. Visit or Soundview’s Facebook or Twitter pages to learn more.

Soundview Live now has its own Twitter feed. Follow the only Webinar to connect you with top business authors @soundviewlive.