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Posted Feb. 26, 2010 11:34 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
I've been in a knock-down, drag-em-out brawl with the Wisconsin Winter and, at the moment, I'm losing. I've even lost my voice in the fight, but I can still type, which is good because we have two weeks worth of links to catch up on.
➻ Edward Nawotka asks If They Need to Compete With Digital, Why Can’t Publishers Work Faster?
➻ Bradley Will of Unstrapped interviewed Bob Burg, coauthor of The Go-Giver and The Go-Giver Sells More. Burg counsels that “You're true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment." It is a decent and honest approach to sales, and if you enjoy the interview, you should definitely pick up the books.
➻ The Wall Street Journal's Hannah Karp wrote a really interesting story about the bookworms of the NBA. It turns out that the NBA players' union has a quarterly reading list, and is currently suggesting Geoffrey Colvin's excellent book, Talent is Overrated. It also turns out that Emeka Okafor has really good taste in literature.
➻ I'm rather ashamed that I haven't read any of the books on the shortlist of Three Percent's Best Translated Book Awards.
➻ Kent Pitman has written an interesting post at Open Salon about what has become of computer science, and winds up on Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget, saying "The book is a beautifully presented criticism of the state of society's relationship with computation, of the way in which we are trending toward having people be the dull, uninteresting, expendable, ill-paid part of a collection organism."
➻ Also at Open Salon, Karin Greenberg wrote beautifully about The Scent of Books and the smells of literature.
➻ Julien Smith thinks that "If you are taking part in this experiment, you are one of us." He said so in an inspirational post about how the web frees us up to "to become the people we were born to become." So, join the f---ing club, already, and change the world.
➻ Don't like your MacBook case, try the BookBook.
➻ Mr. Micawber pointed me to an interesting post by Stacy Mitchell about taxes and Amazon, or Why Congress Wants You to Shun Your Local Bookstore and Shop at Amazon Instead. (It was a while ago, but Micawber's has also posted the best elementary school sign ever.)
➻ I can use the fact that pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training since we last talked as an excuse to link to a wonderfully written and researched story about why Rabbit Maranville Is Not a Nazi, right?
➻ Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite is probably my favorite album of all-time. To end Black History Month, here is a performance of "Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace." The vocalist is Abbey Lincoln.
In the Books - Off to the Printers VII
Posted Jan. 7, 2010 10:15 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
In today's installment of past articles from In the Books, we have something from Robert Morris—an independent management consultant and one of the most knowledgeable business book reviewers in the country. In the essay below, he discusses the best leadership books of 2008.
Real-World Lessons in Leadership BY ROBERT MORRIS
The authors of the best leadership books published in 2008 draw heavily upon a wealth of real-world information, both their own and others’, notably corporate executives and leaders in other fields. There seems to be common agreement among these authors that a smart person learns from his or her mistakes whereas a wise person learns from others’ mistakes. These experiences with failure also seem to produce (for lack of a better term) wisdom from which other important lessons can be learned.
Robert Thomas offers a case in point. In 2002, he and Warren Bennis wrote Geeks & Geezers, in which they shared what they learned from various leaders who were asked, “Why are some people able to extract wisdom from experience, however harsh, and others are not?” Without exception, the 43 leaders they interviewed (who ranged in age from 21 to 93) underwent and eventually survived what Bennis and Thomas characterize as a crucible: a process of “meaning making” of especially difficult events that galvanized them as human beings (as precious metals were treated by alchemists in the Middle Ages) who would later become effective leaders. In the more recently published Crucibles of Leadership, Thomas shifts his focus to exploring “what life is like inside a crucible.” As the dozens of personal accounts he provides clearly indicate:
“Crucible experiences are not only defining moments; they can also be a valuable starting point for discovering a form of practice closely attuned to an individual’s aspirations and motivations—something I refer to as a Personal Learning Strategy. That is, crucibles trigger a search for meaning: Why did this happen? Why did it happen to me? What should I learn from this for the future? Handled properly, crucibles can catalyze a vigorous and sustained interior dialogue that leads to deeper self-understanding and enhanced performance” (7).
In this context, I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s observation, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” All great leaders are lifelong learners, and wisdom is the most valuable result of those efforts.
In How the Wise Decide: The Lessons of 21 Extraordinary Leaders, Bryn Zeckhauser and Aaron Sandoski focus on the importance of developing sound judgment. They clearly agree with Noel Tichy and Bennis who assert in their book Judgment that effective leaders “not only make better calls, but they are able to discern the really important ones and get a higher percentage of them right” (15). That is certainly true of the 21 “extraordinary leaders” whom Zeckhauser and Sandoski examine in this book. Each demonstrates mastery of six core decision making principles. For example, the importance of routinely consulting primary sources, pursuing firsthand information wherever it took them. They “listened with purpose” during group meetings and one-on-one conversations to fill in their information gaps. They demanded and praised candor. Before making any major decision (i.e. a “tough call”), they took into full consideration all relevant information, from as many different perspectives as possible, to ensure that the decision was not only legal but also ethical. Yes, the proverbial “buck” stopped on their desk, but only after enduring its own crucible of intense, broad-based scrutiny.
Geoff Colvin set out to answer this question: “What does great performance require?” In Talent Is Overrated, he shares several insights generated by hundreds of research studies, and finds that one of the key insights they reveal is that all great performers “make it look so easy” because of their commitment to deliberate practice, often for several years of trial and error. Colvin duly acknowledges that deliberate practice “is a large concept, and to say that it explains everything would be simplistic and reductive” (7). His insights offer a reassurance that almost anyone’s performance can be improved, sometimes substantially, even if it isn’t world-class. Talent is overrated if it is perceived to be the most important factor. It isn’t. In fact, talent does not exist unless and until it is developed... and the only way to develop it is (you guessed it) with deliberate practice. Whenever Ben Hogan was asked the “secret” to playing great golf, he replied, “It’s in the dirt.” Colvin leaves no doubt that deliberate practice “hurts but it works.” To anyone who lacks sufficient self confidence, he reassures, “what the evidence shouts most loudly is striking, liberating news: That great performance is not reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone” (206).
What are the best management books of all time and what lessons can be learned from them? That is a question that Chris Lauer and
the editors at Soundview Executive Book Summaries set out to answer. Their conclusions are provided in The Management Gurus. (Note: Space limitations do not permit a full list of the authors and their books. Many who check out the list will no doubt take issue with selections and omissions.) Lauer and his associates decided to focus on specific works, most of which are recently published and representative of the “gurus” who wrote them. They make brilliant use of a standard format that consists of a brief introduction to the given author or co-authors, the given book’s table of contents, “The Summary in Brief” followed by “What You’ll Learn in This Summary,” and then “The Complete Summary.” What amazes me, frankly, is how much coverage is provided in a series of 15 chapters, each devoted to one or a combination of business thinkers; also, having already read and reviewed most of the exemplary books, I can attest to the fact that there was no effort to “dumb down” the material. Moreover, the length of each commentary is significant. For example, 15 pages devoted to John C. Maxwell (Winning with People), 16 pages to Bill George with Peter Sims (True North), 17 pages to Bo Burlingham (Small Giants), and 18 pages to Kenichi Ohmae (The Next Global Stage). Obviously, these summaries are necessarily incomplete, but certainly not “thumb nails.” There is more than enough information to help a busy executive to decide whether or not to read them and perhaps seek additional sources, several of which are identified in the brief introductions.
Many of those in my generation wish Stewart B. Friedman’s Total Leadership had been available 25 years ago so that we could have more thoroughly reflected on and then explored the relative importance of four domains in our lives—work, home, community, and self—to determine (a) whether or not the goals we were pursuing in each were in sync, (b) also in sync with the other goals, and (c) and how satisfied we were with what was happening in each and all domains. Oh well. Here’s my take on a few of Friedman’s key points. All “total leaders” possess great strength because they do what they love, drawing upon the resources of their entire (four- domain) life. By acting with authenticity, they create value for themselves, their families, their businesses, and their world. By acting with integrity, they satisfy their craving for a sense of connection, for coherence in disparate parts of their lives, and for the peace of mind that comes from strictly and consistently adhering to a code of values. Meanwhile, they “keep a results-driven focus while providing maximum flexibility (choice in how, when, and where things get done.) They have the courage to experiment with new arrangements and communications tools to better meet the expectations of people who depend on them.” (11).
At the same time, each “total” leader does everything she or he can to help others (at work, at home, in the community, and for themselves) to become aware of whatever adjustments may be necessary within her or his own domains; to have a sense of urgency about making those modifications; to decide to commit to appropriate action that will create for each a different, better future; to solve whatever problems they encounter when pursuing the giving goals, meanwhile sustaining commitment despite any barriers, delays, distractions, etc. Total leaders also ensure that “people who depend on them” have the support and encouragement they may need by celebrating incremental successes while resisting “slippage.”
Although many of the exemplary executives discussed in these and other outstanding business books are prominent CEOs, please keep in mind that their organizations as well as all others need results-driven leadership at all levels and in all areas. I think it is also important to realize that even the most highly regarded CEOs are flawed human beings, as they would likely be the first to point out. Those whom Robert Thomas interviewed remind us that “crucibles” of hardship and heartbreak need not be incinerators. Bryn Zeckhauser and Aaron Sandoski are convinced that you can gain wisdom by mastering the same six core decision-making principles that proved so invaluable to the 21 “extraordinary leaders” whom they discuss. There is also much you can learn from what the “management gurus” share in their books. Meanwhile, Geoff Colvin wants you to remember that “great performance is not reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone” if there is a total commitment to deliberate practice. And Stewart Friedman suggests that, yes, great performance is possible in all four domains of your life—work, home, community, and self—if you can summon and then sustain the courage and determination to get your priorities in proper alignment. No one can balance everything in each domain, but you can balance what is most important in all four of them. These domains are not separate. Rather, they are interdependent, and together they give you and your life definition... and meaning.
Posted May 2009 9:05 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Publishing Industry - 800 CEO Read Blog
We posted quite a bit over on twitter this week. We tried pulling together what we saw people saying about business books, recommendations for business books and some ideas around the future of publishing at large. Here is the what we found:
# RT @TalentAcquisit The Art of War by Sun Tzu is 1 of the best business strategy books. For business strategy check out http://www.sonshi.com 9:18 PM Apr 29th from web
# @kennypratt yes, here is the mystery box url: http://800ceoread.com/mysterybox 10:04 PM Apr 28th from web
# RT @tomewing:The Cluetrain Manifesto is the Velvet Underground of biz books: everyone who read it formed a dodgy start-up. (via @ricklevine) 3:57 PM Apr 28th from web
# RT @whgtoga Cool book ! One of the top 100 biz books of all time. (CEO READ) The Story Factor- Annette Simmons. 2:57 PM Apr 28th from web
# Great to see @jack_welch joining Twitternation today.2:38 PM Apr 28th from web
# @sarahcannon Finished reading Tribes over wkend, halfway thru The Tipping Point this wk. Both read too easily to be biz books...2:35 PM Apr 28th from web
# Looking for what business books to read? Check out our 377 reviews - http://800ceoread.com/blog/... 3:52 PM Apr 27th from web
# RT @Techmeme Amazon Acquires Stanza, an E-book Application for the iPhone (Brad Stone/Bits) http://bit.ly/JkHFz (via @debbiestier)3:42 PM Apr 27th from web
# You can follow Nancy at @nancyduarte.12:00 PM Apr 26th from web
# RT @chinasolved Pirated biz-books now @ my sbwy sta. Saw 'Black Swan' 'Essential Drucker" & 'Outliers' for 10 rbm each. 10:51 AM Apr 26th from web
# RT @fredwilson: Kenny Lerer is co-founder of HuffPo & here's his thoughts on newspapers http://bit.ly/v8Z0y
You can follow us at @800ceoread or jump over to our twitter page.
Portfolio's Year in Review
Posted March 5, 2009 8:46 a.m. by dylan
In Business Imprints - 800 CEO Read Blog
Portfolio publisher Adrian Zackheim posted a year in review from that house's perspective on Monday that stands out as a beacon of hope amidst all the publishing gloom of late. (As you all probably know, Portfolio is the publisher of The 100 Best.) Adrian sums up 2008 as follows:
I'm going to simply list the books Mr. Zackheim referenced among the highlights of last year, just to give you a sampling of Portfolio's outstanding 2008 catalog.
Despite reduced store traffic through the year, Portfolio reported topline sales growth of 22% and gross margin growth of more than 50%. Nearly half of our new titles achieved margin target in the year of publication. We placed two books on the printed New York Times bestseller list, and several more on the extended Times list, the Wall Street Journal list, the BusinessWeek list, and other bestseller compilations.
Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With the Bill) by David Cay Johnston The Go-Giver: A Little Story About A Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam The Ten Commandments for Business Failure by Donald Keough The World is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy by David M. Smick It's Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks by Howard Behar with Janet Goldstein Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin Inside Steve's Brain by Leander Kahney Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin, Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui
If you'd like to know more about Portfolio's 2008 and what makes these titles such highlights, head on over to Adrian Zackheim's original post.
We can only hope that The 100 Best helps make 2009 a repeat performance.
The 2008 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards - Personal Development
Posted Dec. 8, 2008 3:18 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In Book Awards - 800 CEO Read Blog
The books on our 2008 shortlist for the Personal Development Category are:
Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
by Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever (Bantam, February 2008)
In this sequel to Women Don't Ask, which shared surprising evidence that women are often unknowingly complicit in their lack of career opportunities because they do not ask for raises, bonuses and other advantages that men do, Babcock and Laschever offer a practical guide for improving your asking skills. Populated with personal stories and how-to advice, Ask for It will be useful to help you (any person of any gender) get what you want.
Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
by Stewart D. Friedman, (Harvard Business Press, June 2008)
In Total Leadership, Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program, presents a concrete methodology for building a more integrated life. His program is really a practice, requiring both action and reflection, that urges you to explore a triumvirate of qualities--Be Real (Act with Authenticity), Be Whole (Act with Integrity), Be Innovative (Act with Creativity)--to help you become a leader in every aspect (work, home, community and self) of your life.
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to
Success in Business & Life
by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff (W. W. Norton, Sepember 2008)
A good decision should precede every action. But no decision is made in a vacuum. So just how do you become better at judging scenarios, predicting outcomes, managing negotiations? Dixit and Nalebuff yank game theory out of its traditional confines of math and science and present an accessible guide to using game theory to refine your strategic thinking.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
by Geoffrey Colvin (Portfolio, October)
Mozart. Tiger Woods. Jeff Immelt and Steve Ballmer. Prodigies? Geniuses? Uniquely talented? Geoff Colvin, who first explored this topic for Fortune magazine, says "no" in this well-researched study that explores the common myths about outstanding performers. This book is reassuring in its assertion that we all have the capacity to improve our performance through better preparation--particularly deliberate practice--and also offers insight into those people whose accomplishments astound us.