I am pleased to announce this month's e-update is our 37th issue – the start of our fourth year of consecutive monthly e-newsletters!
Welcome to our fourth annual summer reading book review! As in prior years, several business books are described, and a "bonus" book is recommended.
Selecting this year's book list was harder than I expected – narrowing down the truly great books I have read to a manageable few proved difficult, because many have influenced me. As I sat looking at the pile of a dozen or so books, I realized the common thread in each of the books making the final cut – they are all books I would recommend to someone just starting out in their business career. If I had these books in the summer of 1983, I would have been able to incorporate their lessons and become a more effective manager and leader much sooner.
The One Thing You Need to Know...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
by Marcus Buckingham
Everyone, at some point in their life – whether at home, at work, or as a volunteer – could benefit from the valuable insights and lessons in this book.
- You will often be called upon to manage people – to do this well requires you to apply The One Thing all great managers do: Discover What Is Unique About Each Person and Capitalize Upon It. This is easier said than done, because it requires an instinct for coaching – deriving satisfaction by understanding the strengths of a person, then figuring out how to arrange things to enable that person's growth and success – and the ability to perceive and appreciate individual differences in people.
- You may be called upon to lead people – this requires you to rally people toward a better future, so The One Thing all great leaders do is: Discover What Is Universal and Capitalize on It. The leader is often called upon to turn fear or anxiety into confidence. To do this, the successful leader must be clear about the future he or she envisions, and then describe it vividly so everyone can see where the leader and the followers are headed.
- You will certainly find yourself worn down and in need of recharging to sustain your success – so, whether you're bored, unfulfilled, frustrated, or drained, The One Thing you need to know about sustained individual success is this: Discover What You Don't Like Doing and Stop Doing It.
While this book is not as easy to use as I would like (it can be difficult to go back and find key concepts), the content is outstanding and the accompanying stories are well-chosen to illustrate the author's points.
What to Say to a Porcupine: 20 Humorous Tales That Get to the Heart of Great Customer Service
by Richard S. Gallagher
Everyone is in customer service – everyone. Some customers are external – they're the ones who pay invoices for products or services. Other customers are internal – they're the ones who use the output of your work. And the thing about all customers or clients, regardless of type? They're people, and they all want:
- You to make a good first impression on them.
- You to listen to them.
- You to work with them when things go wrong.
- You to understand what they want or need better than they can imagine it themselves.
- You to do a number of other things important to them.
This book provides 20 wonderful, short lessons on these and other topics, all following the same format – a short fable (often featuring animals exhibiting surprisingly human traits), the moral of the fable, and discussion questions to help you apply the lesson and moral to your own situation. I plan to use these stories in our firm meetings, to help all of us at Todd Herman Associates do an even better job of serving our clients and having them recognize us as a Client-Intimate Firm.
Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands
by Marty Neumeier
Don't let the subtitle of this short book (170 page) fool you – this book really deals with the very difficult process of building a sustainable business. The author's theme comes from a lesson he learned as a kid playing baseball with his father – "hit 'em where they ain't." When everyone else is zigging, you need to zag – to find a white space (where the competition ain't) and devise a product or service so good and so different as to create your own new category.
Once you have found your zag – that radically different product or service – then you have to do the hard work of designing your zag to produce a sustainable competitive advantage. The bulk of the book devotes a few pages to each of the 17 steps involved in this design work, using a fictitious chain of wine bars to illustrate each step. After your zag is designed and launched, you need to go about renewing your zag – and the third section of the book explains how focus, momentum, and size are simultaneously assets of companies in their particular life cycles, liabilities which can be exploited, and techniques for renewal.
I especially liked this book's reference materials – a diagrammatic summary of the 17 steps to design a zag, an executive summary of the entire book, and an annotated "Recommended Reading" list which directs you to many other classic business books. All this and a creative book design – a winner!
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Couple my favorite book genre – the business fable – with one of my core beliefs – true success comes from giving and serving others – and you have a book which is an absolute winner! At the start of the book, Joe is a hard-driving go-getter who is hurried, hard-driving, and once again behind on his sales quota. Joe desperately seeks a meeting with a mysterious person named Pindar, whom he hopes will provide the clout and leverage to help him close a big deal within a week! Pindar instead helps Joe find the generosity buried deep within himself by mentoring him on – and having him immediately apply – the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:
- The Law of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
- The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- The Law of Influence – Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
- The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
- The Law of Receptivity – The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
And in staying true to the form of the business fable genre, by the end of the book, Joe has changed from a go-getter to a Go-Giver.
Finding God in a Tangled World: Thoughts & Parables
by Juris Rubenis and Maris Subacs
Summer can be a time for relaxation and reflection, providing
a respite to revitalize your mind, your body – and your spirit. This wonderful little book provides short, thought-provoking gems to fuel your inner journey, which in turn strengthens you for your outer
journey. Here are a few of my favorites:
- "The truth you deal with must be bigger than you so that you can think about it forever." (page 2)
- "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. By following a straight line, one can walk from Egypt to Israel in a few days. Why did it take Moses forty years? Because his was not a path from one point to another, but from one way of thinking to another." (page 22)
- "Not everyone can be a king. Everyone can be servants." (page 101)
- "When people refuse to support a prophet, they get to support a conqueror." (page 101)
- "War is a failure of imagination in two states at the same time." (page 107)
- "The world becomes peaceful when it senses the image of God within it." (page 136)
- "Goodness is loving that which is Not-I." (page 166)
I frequently open this book to a random page and always find at least one thought to lift my spirit during a hectic day.
So, this summer, enjoy time with family and friends – and take along some books to help yourself become more effective in leading, managing, and living.
Todd L. Herman