How The Mighty Fall


Jim Collins

Elevator Pitch – From the man that who wrote the book on how to be a great organization, this is how to screw it up. Or rather, how not to.

Favorite Quotes:

1. “When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up to fall.” (PAGE 21)

2. “I’ve concluded that there are more ways to fall than to become great. Assembling a data-driven framework of decline proved harder than constructing a data-driven framework for ascent.” (PAGE 19)

3. “Never give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your core purpose. Be willing to kill failed business ideas,… but never give up on the idea of building a great company.” (PAGE 123)


Finally getting to this one. Read this last Christmas, but just writing down my thoughts…

This is a good book to read after you have read Good to Great. To be honest, it is my least favorite Jim Collins book, but that is like talking about your least favorite Beatles song, or your least favorite scotch. It is still good stuff and well made.

While it is his most academic, and philosophical book, which makes it one of the harder to read, I love the concept of this book and love when he wrote it. This was the natural follow up to Good to Great, a book focused on a relentless pursuit of greatness. The most memorable part of this book is the lack of awareness or lack of honesty that Collins says is all too often in these falling companies. This lack of awareness leads to what Collins calls an “undisciplined pursuit of more.” It is natural when you have overcome so many obstacles and “arrived” to think you are unstoppable. All the more so for small businesses when you have to almost trick yourself into thinking you can take any hill, and yet not become detached from reality.

I think the most interesting part of this concept is that so often, and remember this is backed by years of research into the financial statements of these companies, this pursuit is for so long the proof of your success. It is the very thing that has made you successful, and yet leads to beginning of the downfall. It is however, not the hunger that he says leads to decline, but the over-extension that this hubris allows, or demands rather that causes this fall. It is a challenge to remain driven, yet grounded. Something that I think must come from a community or peers and from a level of trust for your team to be honest with you.

If you have ever felt a plateau in your business, this is your book. Give it a read, fairly quick and short if you have read other Collins work. Check it out.

Great video from Collins about the book.

Little Bets


Author – Peter Sims

Elevator Pitch – “Lean Startup meets Talent Code”… or… The best way to launch something big, is to start really, really small with a very small experiment.

Favorite Quotes- 

1. “The internet has reduced communications barriers and allows new players from different corners of the world to rapidly emerge and compete globally.”

2. “…[innovators] understand that failure, in the form of making mistakes or errors, and being imperfect is essential to their success.”

3.  “A playful, lighthearted, and humorous environment is especially helpful when ideas are incubating and newly hatched, the phase when they are most vulnerable to being snuffed out or even expressed because of being judged or self-censored.”

4. “Mainstream market research used to emphasize asking people what they wanted, but I have yet to encounter an executive who thinks traditional market research works for identifying new ideas.”

5. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.”

My thoughts – I really liked this book. It actually was a Christmas present so to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but was pleasantly surprised. I was really curious how is was possibly going to be different/better than Lean Startup, since I was such a fan of that book.

All in all this book was very good. I would say it is a much less academic version of Lean Startup, focusing more on the creative side of the issue of starting up than the empirical data of feedback that LS is obsessed with. It is a challenge for the individual to understand yourself as you start to test your concept and launch your idea.

This book is a kick in the pants to get started, not a guide on how to manage the product development process. This is a 30,000 ft view of why you should start moonlighting your idea to see if it works and that kind of thought process goes a long way with me.


I would suggest this one for the entrepreneur who hasn’t started yet, and Lean Startup for the one who has.

Amazon Link


EntreLeadership – Book Review

Dave Ramsey

Elevator Pitch –

What it means to be an entrepreneur on a practical level mixed with a little how to practically lead and manage a small business from day 1.


Favorite Quotes –

1. “You hit what you aim at, and if you aim at nothing you will hit it ever time.” – Zig Ziglar

2. “When you have momentum in any area of your life you look better than you are. When your star is shining everyone thinks you are smarter and prettier than you really are.”

3. “Proper hiring creates a good team, and a good team lowers turnover. Turnover is very expensive…”

4. “Your business is a party. You have invited your team to the party… Communication in a business is the map to the party. If you have a great map, expect to have a great party.”

5. “…46% [of employees] say a lack of transparent communication from their organization’s leadership is the main point of dissatisfaction at work.”


Thoughts –

I guess you could say I am a new comer to the Dave Ramsey tribe. I honestly didn’t think that he would have much advice on running a business outside of don’t go into debt, but I will admit that he knows his stuff. Obviously he has built quite a successful business, and has done so because he knows what he is talking about.

For the right audience, this might be the only business book that you need to read. This is a very practical book that gives a lot of great ideas for the owner or main leader of a small, startup business. The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t stop at talking about principles of how to be a “good leader”, but covers how to think about the finances, marketing strategy, sales process, hiring/firing of staff, leading the organization’s culture, and how to set a personal and business goals.

If you have ever read E-Myth, and are familiar with the “on the business” vs “in the business” view of leading a company, this is definitely the “on the business” guide, which is to say, this book won’t tell you how to bake good bread, but how to think about growing a bakery. It is a great introduction for the young entrepreneur who needs a guide for specific areas of their business that they might not be the expert in yet.

Buy it. Read it. Mark all over it. Then when you encounter a specific problem with your business, you will know where to go to get a quick answer.

Amazon link

The Lean Startup – Book Review


Eric Reis

Elevator Pitch – How to successfully build a innovative and successful business through thinking through normal business applications but with a focus feedback for better decision making.

Favorite Quotes –

1. New customers come from the actions of past customers.

2. If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.

3. Remember, if we’re building something that nobody wants, it doesn’t much matter if we’re doing it on time and on budget.

4. The problem with most entrepreneurs’ plans is generally not that they don’t follow sound strategic principles but that the facts upon which they are based are wrong.

5. It does not matter how fast we can build. It does not matter how fast we can measure. What matters is how fast we can get through the entire loop.

Thoughts –

This book was really good. This is another book for the entrepreneur or the head of a department in charge of product development. The main idea is that you HAVE to have feedback to build the product the right way. Innovation, or product development, is a consistent march of learning, building, and then measuring, repeated at infinitum.The more feedback and more systematically you can develop the product by changing the unit of measurement to the right one, the better your decisions, and the more sustainable your growth.

Eric does a great job of leveraging his experience to give examples of how this looks in the “real world”. If I had a complaint for this book though, it is that it is too long. (almost 300 pages) If you skim the examples, you can get the point, without getting bogged down. (My favorite chapter was on growth, and it is all the way in the back… keep pushing through to get there)

Hope you enjoy!



Brains On Fire

Brains on Fire


Phillips, Cordell, Church, Jones


Elevator Pitch – Word of mouth is the only way to build a brand by creating a community of loyal, passionate, and raving fans. Also, social media sucks.


Favorite Quotes –

“Your ultimate goal should be to ignite something so powerful that if your marketing and PR departments or, God forbid, even your entire company got hit by a busy, your fans would pick up the banner and march forward with it.”


“Participation does not equal engagement.”


“Listen closely to what we’re about to say: 90% of word of mouth interactions happen off-line.”


“Companies are made up of people, and people are fallible. The ones that admit this win.”



Thoughts –

This book is brilliant. It is a very convicting book to read because it makes you feel really dumb for any attempt to build a brand or market your product, in a way that is even the slightest bit authentic. The stories they tell about creating, mobilizing and unleashing movements is so inspiring, and yet completely daunting.

You should read this book and immediately realize the huge difference between marketing/advertising your company, and having a product that is remarkable enough to the point where your fans do all of that for you. They can’t help it. It is a similar idea to Godin’s Purple Cow, but with more focus on how to start, build, and maintain a movement of your raving fans, where Godin focuses more on innovating and building a truly remarkable product.

Pick this up if you have any control in the story telling process in your organization. It will hone your skills, and hopefully inspire you to do something bigger than just push your message louder and to more people. It will help you inspire your fans.


And big thanks to @bretttrapphis blog for allowing me to pillage his bookshelf to borrow this one.

Also, if you don’t follow @spikejones, you should…




Photo Cred – Brains On Fire Website


Classic Drucker


Peter Drucker

“Classic Drucker”

Favorite Quotes:

“knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers.”

“The key to greatness is to look for people’s potential and spend time developing it.”



I decided to start reading some of the “old school” books on business and management. I feel like I have been reading a lot of new thoughts on how to manage in the new world, and to pay the old fellers their proper due, I thought it would be good to understand what got us to where we are now. Hopefully this trend will continue a bit longer. It has been valuable perspective.

Classic Drucker is a great book if you are in the business world, inside a medium to large organization, or do any work consulting with them. This is not a great book for an entrepreneur since the perspective is written for larger organizations. It spends a lot of time discussing how to make your departments, and people more productive, and help them develop into highly skilled executives. Very useful information if you are in that position, but for the rest of us.. not so much.

If you are at the executive level of a small business and looking for a highly technical resource to get you thinking about how to improve your organization, this is a good one. Just make sure you are ready for small type, lots of pages, and prepare yourself with plenty of caffeine. This was a tough book to work through on the beach this summer. (hence I am just now posting about it)


Check it out at Amazon



the War of Art – Book Review


Author: Steven Pressfield

Title: The War of Art

Elevator Pitch: What most people call procrastination is really a invisible force called resistance that stands against you in accomplishing anything. It causes fear, insecurity and even arrogance. It cares nothing about you, only that you don’t succeed.

Favorite Quotes:

“In short, if the Muse exists, she does not whisper to the untalented.”

“When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul’s call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers. We’re doing exactly what TV commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do from birth. Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification, and hard world, we simply consume a product.”

“The professional… does his work out of love. He has to love it. Otherwise he wouldn’t devote his life to it of his own free will.”


I almost hate to give this book such a high score. But, at the same time I don’t at all. I would give it a perfect 10 because it is that good, but it just doesn’t feel right to give a book that you can read in one sitting a 10. Sorry Steve.

This book she really be read by everyone. Such a kick in the butt to get started. It goes hand in hand with my all time favorite quote.. “Whatever you can do or dream, begin it now.”

PS. Check this out…

The Great Reset


Favorite Quote:

“Too much of what led up to the crisis in the old bubble days – the conspicuous consumption, the latter-day Gatsbyism- was fueled by a need to fill a huge emotional and psychological void left by the absence of meaningful work. When people cease to find meaning in work, when work is boring, alienating, and dehumanizing, the only option becomes the urge to consume – to buy happiness off the shelf, a phenomenon we now know cannot suffice in the long term.”

Elevator Pitch:

Your college macroeconomics professor meets Seth Godin.

Overview: This is a good read to remind you that the rules that we operate under haven’t always been around. While this book mainly chronicles changes in our current culture based on the years that followed the two major economic crashes in US history, it .  I am a big fan of books that talk on a macroeconomic level.

Making Ideas Happen – Book Review


Elevator Pitch: Having ideas can be a lot more fun than executing them. Because of this, we have a lot of work to actually make ideas happen.

Overview: I am a big fan of this book, and a bigger fan of the system of productivity that it suggests. Without giving away the book, the author makes the argument that not everything in life is “actionable”, but by focusing on the things that are, we will be more productive, and therefore more likely to actually make those genius ideas that we all have come true.

Ideas are cheap. The real world influencers and changers are actually making their ideas happen. Disciplined thought and behavior leads to progress and progress begets progress.

Favorite quotes:

“Creativity X Organization = Impact”

“History is made by passionate, creative people and organizations with the rate ability to lead others – and themselves.”

“I always try to hire people with a high level of intrinsic motivation…”

“Feeling progress is an important part of execution.”


I had the pleasure of attending a conference led by Belsky while I was reading this book, and even though all of his examples, illustations, and outline came straight from the book, I highly recommend finding his next talk and buying a ticket. He is a great communicator with a very simple challenge, get stuff done.

One Page Talent Management – Book Review


Elevator Pitch –

If you lead the HR department, or are a small enough company to where as a business owner, you lead the people, then you must read this book.

Favorite Quotes –

“…remove any extra features and complexity, while simultaneously trying to add value into each to make the practices more effective.”

“There seems to be a gap between our knowledge of how to develop talent and our ability to actually do it.”

“Few managers enjoy having tough conversations with their employees. Giving feedback about subpar performance or explaining that a career goal will never be achieved significantly increases most managers’ heart rates. But transparent conversations like these drive higher performance.”


This is a very good book, that tries to make one compelling argument, make your employee development systems fit on page. If it is longer or more complicated than that, then it won’t be effective. If you are in the people managing business, you should read this. If not, it might not be very applicable to what you do.

Without giving anything away, the book’s overall thought process is three steps:

1. Start with the science (facts)

2. Eliminate the complexity while adding value

3. Create transparency and accountability

That is great framework for just about any part of running a business, but especially when creating a system that will be reproduced throughout a company. Make sure it is backed up with the facts, make it simple but effective, and then track it honestly.

In our company we talk a lot about a scoreboard and a clock, and try to create one for every person. People are more likely to hit there goal if they know what they are aiming at. This book takes it a step further and adds that if you can’t fit the goal on one page, then it is too much.

Keep it simple stupid. So true. Hurts my feelings every time.