Soundview Executive Book Summaries


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.

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Enchanted to Meet You . . .

Enchantment. When I hear this word, I can’t help but think of fairly tales and Disney movies. In fact, Disney actually has a movie entitled Enchanted. So what does enchantment have to do with business? It just happens to be the title of the latest business book from Guy Kawasaki.

Kawasaki is known for pushing the envelope, with books like Reality Check and How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, and with a following on Twitter of 398,722 (as of today). Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com which he calls an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and is a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Also, not surprisingly, he was previously the chief evangelist of Apple.

In Enchantment, Kawasaki argues that in business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want, but to bring about voluntary, enduring and delightful change in other people. The book explains all the tactics you need to prepare and launch an enchantment campaign; to get the most from both push and pull technologies; and to enchant your customers, your employees and even your boss.

If this is an enchanting idea to you, then please join Soundview and Guy Kawasaki on September 8th for our latest Soundview Live webinar, How to Change Hearts, Minds and Actions. Hopefully you’ll come away enchanted with the idea of launching your own Enchantment campaign. OK, I know I’m over doing the whole “enchantment” thing, but we’d love to have you join us, and to bring your questions for Guy.

You’ll receive our summary of Guy’s book with your registration, or you can purchase the summary here if you’re not sure you can make it to the webinar.



Are You Ready for m-Commerce?

Do you have your cell-phone handy? You’re certainly not alone. Over 70% of the world’s population now has a mobile phone — that’s over 5 billion people. And in the U.S., 9 out of 10 of every man, woman and child have a phone – Digital Buzz Blog .

So it’s no wonder that companies are paying attention to this phenomenon. Whether you manufacture cars, grow corn, or teach school, you must pay attention to the proliferation of cell phones. In The Third Screen, (http://amzn.to/p4Mtq3 ) Chuck Martin makes the case that no one can afford to ignore this trend.

Martin states, “The third screen, the mobile device, is a game changer. It enables customers to communicate directly with each other and share information and opinions in real-time and on location. The third screen revolution is about dramatic technological and behavioral change.”

Because of the importance of this game changing technology, Soundview has invited Chuck Martin to share his observations and recommendations with us in our Soundview Live webinar tomorrow at 12:00 noon EST.

This webinar, entitled How to Succeed in the World of m-Commerce, will provide our subscribers and the general business public with an opportunity to look at the impact cell-phone usage is having on businesses and what they can do to take advantage of this technology phenomenon. As always, we are leaving plenty of time for attendees to ask questions about how this mobile craze will affect their business strategy.

We also invite you to add your comments here as to how you see the “untethered consumer” affecting your business.



New Soundview Summaries for Leaders, Managers and Entrepreneurs

There are three great new Soundview Executive Book Summaries now available at Summary.com. Whether you’re a leader, manager or an entrepreneur, there is a great title that can help you and your business achieve more. Check out the latest releases:

Stop Workplace Drama by Marlene Chism: Gossip. Power struggles. Poor team coordination. These are all symptoms of workplace drama. They’re the obstacles that can drain your company of its best talent, get in the way of true productivity and profit, and eat away at the effectiveness of your organization. In Stop Workplace Drama, Marlene Chism shows how to change the way you and your organization confront and work through problems, implement effective management strategies in a drama-filled organization, and find new solutions that create positive growth for every member of your company.

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki: Enchantment, as defined by bestselling business guru Guy Kawasaki, is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships, converts hostility into civility and changes skeptics into believers. This book explains all the tactics you need to prepare and launch an enchantment campaign; to get the most from both push and pull technologies; and to enchant your customers, your employees, and even your boss.

Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott: In Fierce Leadership, Susan Scott teaches us how to spot the worst “best” practices in our organizations using a technique she calls the “squid” eye. With fierce new approaches to everything from employee feedback to corporate diversity to customer relations, Scott offers fresh and surprising alternatives to six of the so-called best practices permeating today’s business.

Subscribers are reading these titles now. Visit Summary.com and find out how you can get your copy in any of eight digital formats.



Three Great NEW Soundview Summaries

Subscribers to Soundview Executive Book Summaries already received some great news this week, so I thought I’d share it with everyone else. There are three brand new summaries now available for download in any of Soundview’s eight digital formats. If you’re an iPad user (or iPad2 for that matter), make this the month that you check out Soundview’s new Smart Summary format. It’s the first business book summary format designed specifically for the iPad and other tablet devices.

Here are the new releases:

Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott: In this eye-opening follow-up to The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott reveals the proven, practical steps to take your business into the real-time era. Find out how to act and react flexibly as events occur, position your brand in the always-on world of the Web, and avoid embarrassing mistakes and missteps in this executive book summary of Real-Time Marketing and PR.

You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine: This executive book summary of You Already Know How to Be Great offers a bold new approach to performance by one of the top coaches in the country. Alan Fine, an accomplished tennis, golf, and executive coach and a renowned authority on peak performance, has found the biggest obstacle to improved performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what you already know. Fine reveals his simple and proven approach to achieving breakthrough performance through an amazing process called G.R.O.W. (Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward).

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George B. Bradt, Jorge E. Pedraza, Jayme A. Check: Moving into a new leadership position is one of the toughest challenges an executive can face. Whether you’re a veteran leader taking over a new organization or a novice moving into your first leadership role, this practical guide will help you manage your leadership transition so you can take charge, build your team, and deliver results. This executive book summary of the second edition of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan presents proven solutions and cutting-edge techniques for getting started successfully in your new role.

For more information on these great new summaries, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.



Small Business Weighs Health Care Options

Here at Soundview we’re experts at condensing books that number in the hundreds of pages down to eight essential pages of information. Our purpose in doing this is to provide executives with concentrated knowledge that’s meant to give maximum impact for minimum time invested. Knowing the amount of effort that we put into this work, I can only tremble at the thought of tackling the bill that’s currently sitting on Capitol Hill. The health care reform bill that awaits the House of Representatives is nearly 2,000 pages. While I can’t give you eight compact pages, I’d like to discuss one aspect of the bill that is currently causing debate amongst a key segment of the American economy: small businesses.

Take a look at this article from The Dayton Business Journal for an inside track on the debate. I was glad to see that the reporter indicated there are people who are in favor of the bill, as well as covering the vocal element that are against it. While I don’t state my political opinions in this forum, I bring up the bill and its impact on small businesses because I’m anticipating a bump in business books dealing with health care if the bill is passed.

To date, Soundview has really only featured one title that dealt explicitly with health care. The Innovator’s Prescription by Clayton Christensen, Ph.D. remains a valuable resource for understanding the nature of the American health care system and the history of the system’s development.

We had the opportunity to speak with Christensen at a Soundview Live event in July 2009. Looking back on that conversation, I continue to reflect on Christensen’s argument that the government’s efforts had little to do with the care that patients actually receive. “This is a debate about reforming health insurance, not health care,” he told us at the time. While I think there is truth in his argument, I can’t help but feel that the thousands of small business owners across the U.S. are more concerned with the bill’s potential effect on their bottom lines at present.

I revisit Christensen’s book quite often, particularly when I read stories about the progress of health care reform. Regardless of the size of your company, it wouldn’t hurt to take a second look at our summary of The Innovator’s Prescription. In the event a new system dawns, those who stay informed will likely be the ones to have the smoothest transition.



The Drill Sergeant of Small Business

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh by describing the subject of this post as a drill sergeant. Drill sergeants get a bit of a bad rap. They’re men and women with an extremely difficult task. They have to mold and shape a rag-tag band of recruits into a disciplined unit that perfectly executes every maneuver. This requires intensity, tenacity and a devotion to perfection.

When it comes to boosting the current state of small businesses in the U.S., George Cloutier may be the right man to wear the stripes. As you’ll see in this press release from Reuters, Cloutier’s new book is drawing a critical eye from some reviewers. Many of the suggestions he makes will seem a bit harsh to some readers. However, small businesses rely on the dedication and labor of their owners to ensure their success. A small business run with an average amount of effort will remain small. It takes a special amount of drive to create real growth and survive the treacherous competitive waters.

I’m curious to see how the majority of the business book reading public will receive Cloutier’s Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing. Cloutier himself refers to many of his theories as “tough love,” a term that, while receding from society at large, is still quite prevalent in business. Every so often, a book comes along that provides the necessary swing of the boot to the backside of business. I can’t say for certain if Cloutier’s new release is that title, but in light of the U.S. recently marking one calendar year of recession, the timing is certainly right for such a book.

If you’d like to read some additional titles specifically designed to boost small business success, we’re featuring Soundview’s Small Business Collection right now on Summary.com.