Where Have All the Leaders Gone? – Book Review

6/10

Elevator Pitch – A call for Washington to stop playing games and lead. Written in 2007.

Overall: This might be the most interesting book that I won’t ever recommend to anyone. There are some great stories and lessons to learn from his obviously very interesting career and relationships. It is an extremely political book, so if you are at all a fan of George W, then you will be offended. Majorly. I was a little disappointed by how much time he spent bashing people.

That said, it was very interesting, and had it moments of grandeur. I didn’t have any favorite quotes, but the whole conversation about whether or not capitalism/democracy  is actually working, and his trips to Cuba to spend time with Castro were my favorites. Very interesting to hear a man of his stature  tell the story of his very casual, yet impacting conversations with the former leader of the closest communist country to our own.

Not a bad summer read, which is what is was for me. Not sure that it will be what you are looking for, but if you like political, and you like listening to old men talk about the way it was, and they way it should be, then this is about as good as it gets.

Books Update

If you remember my “I’m not a mutltitasker” post. I tried to read more than one at a time, and this is what happened. It took me too long to finish books. So here is my update. From the past month of reading or so…

Supefreakonomics

9/10 – Remarkable book really. That is the best thing to say about it. As a man that loves to throw out random info to make me sound smart, this is the perfect book for that.

A Whole New Mind

7/10 – Great academic read about how the brain works. One of the best takes on right brain left brain that I have found. Love how much it ties in with what I do for a living.

Culture Making

8/10 – Great Christian/Business Book. I put the disclaimer on it, because I was naive to the fact that it was a Christian book. That said, it is easily the best “Business” style book that I have read that is Christian. Andy Crouch is leading the thought on what Culture is, and more importantly, how culture is influenced. This is ground zero for understanding and managing a culture.

Other notable books in the past month:

Well Being – Tom Rath

Small is the new big – Seth Godin

One Page Talent Management – Effron – More on this one soon…

I am not a multitask-er…

So I obviously haven’t posted in a while… My main reason for this is the fact that I haven’t finished a book completely since Rework. (which was very good) I thought about it further and realized that I have been dividing my efforts, trying to read 6 books at the same time, instead of focusing and finishing one a week. (See pic above for list of current reading material)

Since you are my accountability, here is my plan to finish these and get back on my 52 books in 52 weeks schedule… With focus I will finish in the following order:

Whole New Mind – (so far fantastic, very interesting left brain/ right brain stuff…)

Culture Making – (Very applicable at work)

Radical – (New book from my pastor)

Unfashionable – (Book by someone who would be my pastor if I lived in S. FL)

SuperFreakONomics – (Just plain fun)

Small is the New Big – (Great daily reminders from Seth)

Come to think of it, Small is the New Big might remain my bed side reading before I go to bed for a couple of months… It is that good.

Rework – A Book Report

9/10

Jason Fried & David Hansson

Disclaimer :: I finished this book a few weeks ago but haven’t written a blog review yet because I can’t figure a way to do a better job describing this book than FAST COMPANY did in this blog. (Of course it does help to have the original images from the authors, but whatever…)

Favorite Quotes:

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”

this this & this

Enjoy!

“Everything Bad is Good for You” – A Book Report

By Steve Johnson

7/10

Special Thanks: thank you to Joel Busby for letting me borrow this from his library.

Elevator Pitch: With the increase of technology, new mediums like the internet and video games, culture is actually getting more complex, and therefore more intellectually stimulating and creating more cognitively developed generations. IQ scores are getting better not worse, and it is due to Pop Culture.

Favorite Quotes: “I believe the printed word remains the most powerful vehicle for conveying complicated information – though the electronic word is starting to give printed books a run for their money.”

“Today’s pop culture may not be showing us the righteous path. But it is making us smarter.”

“If you create a system where rewards are both clearly defined and achieved by exploring an environment, you’ll find human brains drawn to those systems…”

Overview: I really liked this book. It is an academic, not application type of book. But, you can use it to determine whether or not you are maximizing your cognitive development. Very interesting spin for parents that are struggling with what they should censor of their kid’s intake of pop culture. Also introduces an interesting thought about video game rewards, that might be the future of workplace motivation. It is very interesting to read this in light of Drive by Daniel Pink.

Check it out… It is an easy single day read, and shows some love to Arrested Development, CSI, 24, Grand Theft Auto, and many other sleeper cognitive developers.

Chief Culture Officer

6/10

Elevator Pitch: The greatest need of the American Business is an officer in the Executive suite whose job is to keep an eye on the pulse of the culture in which they exist. They should have trumping power over some of the other Execs – (CEO, CMO, etc…), but are not the final authority.

Overview: This book was really good, but because of my own expectations I am giving it a 6. I was expecting this to be about the “Internal Culture” of the company and not the external. This is a great book for small marketing groups or “story telling” firms, but not for people in the people business like I am.

This might be exactly what you are looking for, and if so, then it is a great read…. very interesting and insightful, but I do have to say that my expectations were not properly managed.

“Drive” by Daniel Pink

by Daniel Pink

9/10

Elevator Pitch: The current system of motivating employees is broken. Science has proved that just offering more money doesn’t work, but business hasn’t followed suit. People will do their best work when the have Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

Overview: I bought this book because of two reasons. First, because I work with a lot of companies on their hiring practices and employee development. It has been very valuable to be able to work this content into our conversations on an employee by employee basis. Secondly, (and maybe this should have been firstly since it is how I found out about the book) I watched this TED talk by the author and was floored.

Even after watching this talk, the book is still worth the read. It is amazing to read the research about and most surprisingly, how much the “business world” has ignored this research…

There are many practical business applications from this book, but the simplest has got to be that employees make “safer” and “less creative” decisions when their compensation is tied directly to their work. The research is there to back this statement, but none were more telling than the research into commissioned vs noncommissioned work. Non-Commissioned work has always been better, more famous, more meaningful and has made the most impact than work done for $.

So this begs the immediate question, if we want a creative, brilliant or even just genius innovation… how do we motivate our staff? The book has a lot of great thoughts on this, but the one that I am taking away is one that has been used and proven valuable by many cutting-edge companies… this is the idea of giving employees work time to come up with new innovations. Some companies (Google included) give their staff as much as 20% of their work week to work on whatever project they want. Many of Google’s top innovations (Gmail, Maps, etc…) have come from this time.

So here is the challenge…. Start doing this! “Begin it now!”

Favorite Quotes:

-“Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others – sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on- can sometimes have dangerous side effects.

-“The businesses that offered autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover.”

“Hire good people and leave them alone.”

-“Only engagement can produce mastery. And the pursuit of mastery has become essential in making one’s way in today’s economy…. more than 50% of employees are not engaged at work.”

Kolbe Certification Conference – and two more books…

What a week, What a week…

This week i spent out in Phoenix, AZ becoming certified for Kolbe. Kolbe, if you don’t know will change your world. It will definitely change the way you work, think, interact, breathe, and just about everything else about yourself. Here is the quick version.

You have 3 parts to your brain. Not just two. The third part is just as much apart of you as your heart and soul. The problem is you have never noticed your third part. You should. It is very fun. This part is the one that determines how you work. (so as you can imagine it can be pretty valuable to know about yourself.)

So, my mind is full of lots and lots of theory, and still haven’t really concurred the overnight flight back from Phoenix. (Can you have jetleg from flying over only one time zone?) I am very excited about using this at Avalaunch (Where I work).

This week I read two books by the wonderful Kathy Kolbe, who started this whole Kolbe thing… Here and here they are. They are amazing books that will help you find out more about yourself, and more importantly, how to lead yourself, and others.

If you want to know more, then lets sit down and chat about it… to go into it further would make this blog very, very long…

thanks for reading!

Linchpin – A Early Release Book Review

by Seth Godin

7/10

Elevator Pitch: Some people are valuable, but if you want to be invaluable, or even indispensable, you have to be a linchpin. Linchpins are so vital to the organization that you wouldn’t be able to replace them. They hold it all together.

Favorite Quotes: “Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.”

“Change it by so over-delivering that people post about you.” – (Talking about your Google search results)

“And perfect is bad, because you can’t top perfect.”

“The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable. It won’t change the recipient of your work, and it’s easy to emulate (which makes you easy to replace).”

Overview: I never like to give too much of the book away, and trust me I haven’t. Almost all of those quotes are in the first third of the book. This is a fantastic read. Inspiring, motivating, and very challenging.

Without stealing his thunder, the moral of the story is you can settle for being a cog in the wheel of the organization where you work. A step in the process, part of the committee that resides over the committees, etc… OR you can be such an indispensable person in your organization that they couldn’t replace you if they wanted to.

You don’t get there with power plays, politics, or even by getting your MBA. You get there by being intentional and human in your interactions with people. (my words not his)

You won’t get ahead (for very long anyways) by playing games. You won’t enjoy work more by burning bridges with people that you work with… You will enjoy your work more when you make an intentional decision to lean into it (Tribes shoutout) and lead. Lead the people under you. Lead the people around you. AND lead the people that you report to…

If you want to check this book out… it will be on sale JAN 26th. Check it out on Amazon.