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Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
Price: CDN$ 9.42

5.0 out of 5 stars A Pope for All Seasons, Sept. 8 2014
As Jeffrey Krames acknowledges, opinions are divided - sometimes sharply divided - with regard to Pope Francis' leadership style. "During his first year as pope - as during his tenure in Argentina - Francis showed himself again and again to be a man of humility. However, we mustn't confuse his humble ways with those of a one-dimensional leader. Like all effective leaders, he has multiple agendas. In fact, according to the journalists who have covered Bergoglio for many years, he is nothing short of a `political animal.' He is also a man of enormous intellect, which often gets obscured by his acts of humility."

According to one Argentine journalist, Elisabetta Piqué, "He was not an ingénue coming out into the world. He had almost a war with [one] section of the Roman Curia." Another journalist used the word "ruthless" to describe the way Francis operates. And Rolling Stone cover-story journalist Mark Binelli wrote, "Bergoglio has shown himself to be a stealth enforcer, capable of summoning that old authoritarian steel if it serves a higher purpose."

Now consider this observation by Pope Francis, "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Krames suggests, "That's him - in a single sentence."

He then adds, "Pope Francis shows us where the world has gone wrong and how our values have gone off the rails. Even the choice of his name - inspired by St. Francis of Assisi - was meant to signal to the world that he would focus on society's poor, as well as on the sickest and weakest among us."

What we have in this volume are appropriate diverse perspectives on Pope Francis. It should be noted that neither Krames nor I is a Roman Catholic. His opinions as well as mine are mostly of Pope Francis' leadership rather than of articles of faith, for example, or of the organizational structure and policies of one of the largest organizations in the world.

Krames suggests and discusses 12 lessons to be learned from its current leader who was elected during a papal enclave by the College of Cardinals in March 2013. He devotes a separate chapter to each lesson, concluding with a brief list of supplementary suggestions. Here's how he frames them:

1. "Here are a few ideas to help you get your feet firmly on the ground on that path to greater humility" (Page 13-14)

2. "What additional steps can you take to more effectively smell like your flock?" (21-22)

3. "What can you do to make better assessments and ensure that you are not judging your people? Here are a few ideas" (29-30)

4. "Here are some other ideas you can implement to transform your organization" (39-40)

5. "Here are some other ideas that can make you and your organization more inclusive (47-49)

6. "What additional steps can you take to guard against insularity? Consider these potential actions" (55-57)

7. "What can you do to be more pragmatic and rely less on ideology? Consider these ideas" (63-64)

8. "How can you improve your decision-making prowess? Consider the following ideas" (72-73)

9. "How can you learn to run your organization more like a field hospital? Consider the following idea" (79-83)

10. "What other thing can you do to work on the frontier of your industry? Consider the following" (86-87)

11. "What other lessons can we apply from the Pope Francis example? Take a look at these ideas" (93-94)

12. "What steps can you take to get you closer to both customers and nonconsumers? Consider the following items" (99-101)

I have read and reviewed most of Krames's previously published books in which his focus is also on effective leadership: what works, what doesn't, and why. They include books about Jack Welch: Jack Welch and the 4 E's of Leadership: How to Put GE's Leadership Formula to Work in Your Organization; The Jack Welch Lexicon of Leadership: Over 250 Terms, Concepts, Strategies & Initiatives of the Legendary Leader; and The Welch Way: 24 Lessons from the World's Greatest CEO. Krames also wrote What the Best CEOs Know: 7 Exceptional Leaders and Their Lessons for Transforming any Business, Inside Drucker's Brain, and The Rumsfeld Way: The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick.

With all due respect to these and other great leaders in business, government, the military, and religion, however, all organizations need effective leadership (i.e. productive initiative) at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Great leaders seem to have a "green thumb" for "growing" the talent needed to achieve success in all seasons, fair or foul.

After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope less than two years ago and chose the name Francis, it soon became obvious that he would lead with humility but also with a steadfast commitment to basic values and fundamental principles that are frequently lost or compromised within a global organization as large and as complicated as the Roman Catholic Church.

This is probably what Jeffrey Krames had in mind when observing, "Francis does not see the world as a static place but as an ever-changing landscape that we all need to be attuned to. Here, Francis evokes shades of Drucker when he discusses a pastoral ministry. 'Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says We have always done it this way. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style, and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the mean of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory."

What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data—Lifeblood of Big Business—and the End of Privacy as We Know It
What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data—Lifeblood of Big Business—and the End of Privacy as We Know It
Price: CDN$ 16.63

5.0 out of 5 stars What stays in Las Vegas and wherever else needed is an abundance of personal data used to achieve business objectives, Sept. 5 2014
Whenever I see a commercial promoting Las Vegas, I am again reminded that money won by gambling in the casinos usually stays there. I doubt if that fact can support a book but another fact can...and has: The gambling casinos there and elsewhere use advanced technologies and advanced analytics to obtain, process, evaluate, and then act upon consumer data. This process creates for them a competitive advantage. The subtitle of Adam Tanner's book reveals his primary focus: "The World of Personal Data -- Lifeblood of Big Business -- and the End of Privacy as We Know It." Indeed, in the new, rapidly expanding global marketplace, data are the new currency and some of the most valuable data are provided by consumers, whether or not they realize it.

All of the major research studies with which I am familiar indicate that, when identifying what is most important to them, employees and customers rank "feeling appreciated" among the top three and frequently #1. The more a company knows about a customer, the better prepared it is to do -- and not do -- whatever it must to gain and then sustain that customer's trust and respect. This reality drives the process by which to create what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists."

Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google have refined a process introduced by César Ritz in 1898 when Hôtel Ritz in the Place Vendôme opened its doors. He was a passionate advocate of perfection in hospitality, insisting that it always be invisible. With regard to what became the institutional motto, "Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen." Rules? He stated them clearly: "See all without looking; hear all without listening; be attentive without being servile; anticipate without being presumptuous. If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked." According to Joseph Michelli, Ritz Carlton set "the new gold standard" for service. The foundation of its superior service consists of personal data about its guests and policies to accommodate their preferences.

Back to Las Vegas. Some of the most interesting and most valuable information in Tanner's book focuses on Caesars Entertainment (later purchased by Harrah's) and, more specifically, on Joshua Kanter and his the contributions to the emerging science of consumer data processing. Over time, Caesar's implemented and then constantly fine-tuned a <em>Total Rewards</em> loyalty program for those who, annually, represent about 80% of a growth category: Those "far from lucrative on any one day, but in a year they might spend $1,500 to $5,000." Kanter was a McKinsey alumnus. A consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, Rich Mirman, was hired to focus on marketing to "new customers with bigger long-term (collective) potential." David Norton was another strategic hire who also "thought a lot about the people traditionally ignored by casino management. He saw great value in the retired grandmother quietly feeding a steady stream of coins (and later paper) into the slot machines in the corner of the room."

These and other examples illustrate a very important point: Until obtaining and then evaluating the data they needed, casino owners and their top executives were not cultivating the loyalty of those who could produce the greatest <em>long-term</em> ROI. Tanner devotes an entire chapter, Chapter 4, to explaining (a) what the casinos know about their customers, (b) how they obtained that information, and (c) how the casinos catch "whales" (i.e. BIG spenders).

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth of coverage of material provided in this volume. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Adam Tanner remains hopeful that companies will become more transparent about what they know about their customers and how they obtained that in formation but that seems highly unlikely. So long as consumers are willing to provide so much personal information to companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, the value of that "currency" to these companies will continue to increase. What to do? There are some suggestions in the Appendix, "Take Control of Your Data." Perhaps some readers will do that but few who bet against the house break even, much less win more than they lose.

The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy
The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy
by Nick Gogerty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77

5.0 out of 5 stars "Price is what you charge. Value is what others think it's worth." Warren Buffett, Sept. 3 2014
I was reminded of Buffett's comment while considering Nick Gogerty's assertion that examining value creation through behavioral and systems models "will explain the ebb and flow of capital, energy, resources, knowledge, and value over time." I agree with Gogerty that the term "allocator"" is more appropriate than "investor," given the thrust of his rigorous examination of how and why value creation works...and doesn't. The agents really are those who allocate the given resources.

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, we have a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a few representative examples of the thrust and flavor of Gogerty's style:

"Benjamin Graham correctly stated that, in the short term, the stock market acts like a voting machine, and over the long term, it acts like a value-weighing machine." (Page 7)

"Adaptive, selective processes work the same in economy and ecology. In both cases the process is more nuanced and interesting than naturalist Herbert Spencer's 1864 catch phrase 'survival of the fittest,' which he used to refer to both biological and economic processes, and which for our purposes is quite telling." (25)

"Competitive forces and capabilities do battle in clusters of competition. Clusters are the niches in economic networks. They are the next level of system above organizations in the economic panarchy." (98)

"Ethics are integral to managing moats and attaining success. These ethics include truthfulness about the required return on capital and truthfulness with workers, investors, and customers. Long-term thinking and constantly seeking economic truths are critical advantages for firm survival. Firms with managers who are comfortable operating in opaque or gray areas are not worth the allocator's time or capital." (216)

"To be right. To find and express valued true knowledge. This is the question of scientists, artists, economists, and capital allocators. Every capital allocation is based on the premise that value in the form of capital spent today will return a greater value tomorrow. The complexity associated with the nature of value promises one thing -- that there is no fixed truth or absolute guarantee of wealth, value, or riches, although there are patterns and behaviors in the adaptive network that may recur." (318)

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Gogerty's coverage.

o The Misunderstanding of Price (Pages 5-9)
o The Behavioral Economic Model of Price (11-13)
o Ecology as a Model for Economy (19-23)
o Evolution: Flowing Change (39-44)
o New Capabilities Lead to New Offerings (65-69)
o Experience Curves (78-84)
o Defining Cluster Boundaries (103-108)
o Competitive Balance and Instability (112-122)
o Dominant Design and Enabling Architectures (128-132)
o Red Queen Clusters (147-157)
o Moat Depth, Moat Duration, and Moat Depth x Duration = Moat Value (173-176)
o Financial Clues for Spotting and Tracking Moated Firms (180-187)
o Consumer Belief and Perception Moats (196-204)
o Managing Moated Firms (210-213)
o Levels of Economic Panarchy: Inos, Organizations, Clusters, and the Economy (219-222)
o Inclusive and Exclusive Economies (235-243)
o Inflation's Effects on the Allocator (282-289)

I commend Gogerty on his masterful use of various reader-friendly devices, notably the Summary section at the conclusion of each chapter. He also inserts with strategic purpose dozens of Figures throughout his lively and eloquent narrative and is a master of the bullet checkpoint lists as well as charts and graphs that focus on key points. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.

Nick Gogerty's finial remarks also provide an appropriate conclusion to my review: "Economic value is ultimately measured in human terms. Prioritizing the value of friends, family, and freedoms ensures that the wealth of a lifetime will be correctly measured in the creation of memories, loving relationships, and a reputation for integrity. Never compromise these forms of value for mere money."

Bravo!

Nonstop Sales Boom: Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year
Nonstop Sales Boom: Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year
by Colleen Francis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.52
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.44

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategies to drive and sustain growth for almost any organization, whatever its size or nature may be, Aug. 29 2014
As I read this book, I was again reminded of an ancient adage in residential real estate: "For every house, there's a buyer." The last time I looked, Amazon sells 386, 979 books in the sales category. Now we have another, from Colleen Francis, and no doubt there are several readers who will purchase this book, absorb and digest its contents, and then achieve success in sales because of what they have learned from her.

There are no head-snapping revelations in Nonstop Sales Boom, nor does Francis make any such claim. However, the information, insights, and counsel she provides are based on more than 20 years of real-world experience, hers and others. She offers a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system whose success will depend almost entirely on how well it is established and then sustained, with appropriate modifications along the way.

Up front, she asserts, "In this book, I will challenge you to reject the typical boom and bust sales cycle [see Pages 7-23] where results lurch between highs and lows and the end of each quarter is a mad scramble. Instead, you'll learn the strategies and tactic s for creating your own perpetual sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year." Of course, as indicated, what happens after that is entirely up to "you."

Of special interest to me is a new framework she introduces, the Sales Radar(tm), based on a mindset that is "not just focused on attracting prospects and closing sales, but also explores the myriad opportunities with and through current customers -- from the leads and the sales that arise during the implementation or participation phase, to bigger sales to current customers looking to grow their engagement with your company, to the leads to new, qualified prospects from satisfied customers whose enthusiastic advocacy can be leveraged into sales to new clients." She discusses all this thoroughly in Chapter 2.

For more than 30 years, I have been retained by all manner of companies to help them create or increase demand for what they sell (i.e. marketing) or to help them to increase the number of what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists." In this context, I am again reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's colleagues at Princeton playfully chided him about the fact that he always asked the same questions year after year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Each year, the answers are different." The same can be said of marketing and sales, if not every year but certainly more frequently now more than ever before because change continues to be the only constant. Francis addresses the right questions.

In my opinion, Sales Radar(tm) would be able to accommodate changes in the given competitive marketplace while retaining the focus on the core principles of what I would characterize as "lean salesmanship": zero waste of hours and dollars when identifying, contacting, cultivating, soliciting, gaining, and then retaining the right customers for the given enterprise. This process is best thought of as a never-ending process whose system possesses machine-like efficiency. I agree with Francis: it is imperative that everyone involved has developed a Sales Radar(tm) mindset. (Not everyone is both willing and able to do so.) It is important to keep in mind that "booms" vary in nature and size, as do "busts."

My suggestion to those who read this book is to check out the Table of Contents first, then write down what are the 3-5 questions they are most eager to answer and/or the 3-5 problems they are most eager to solve. Next, read the "Introduction" to allow Colleen Francis to introduce Sales Radar(tm). Now you have a context, a frame-of-reference, within which to read her book. The material is organized and presented within Five Parts: Engagement, Attraction, Participation, Growth, and Leverage. Highlight key passages as you work your way through the narrative. It would be a good idea to have a lined notebook near at hand to record questions, comments, correlations, etc.

One final point in the form of a personal opinion: Having highly energetic sales initiatives without the order and structure of a system such as Sales Radar(tm) -- or another that is comparable -- is like driving a vehicle in a downtown area at 60 mph while wearing a blindfold. Business leaders must get the right system in place and then entrust it the to right people who maintain it with meticulous care.

Updike
Updike
by Adam Begley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.19
41 used & new from CDN$ 22.37

5.0 out of 5 stars "A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror." Sigmund Freud, Aug. 28 2014
This review is from: Updike (Hardcover)
John Hoyer Updike (1932-2009) is widely considered among the most accomplished U.S. writers during a period that extends from the mid-1950s until his death five years ago. He is probably best known for his Rabbit Angstrom series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and the novella, "Rabbit Remembered") but he also wrote more than a dozen additional novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children's books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker, beginng in 1954.

What did his contemporary writers think of him? In a NEH Jefferson lecture in 2008, Philip Roth observed, "John Updike is our time's greatest man of letters, as brilliant a literary critic and essayist as he was a novelist and short story writer. He is and always will be no less a national treasure than his 19th-century precursor, Nathaniel Hawthorne."

In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik evaluated Updike as "the first American writer since Henry James to get himself fully expressed, the man who broke the curse of incompleteness that had haunted American writing ... He sang like Henry James, but he saw like Sinclair Lewis. The two sides of American fiction--the precise, realist, encyclopedic appetite to get it all in, and the exquisite urge to make writing out of sensation rendered exactly--were both alive in him."

After Updike's death in 2009, in an article for The New York Review of Books, Ian McEwan wrote that Updike's "literary schemes and pretty conceits touched at points on the Shakespearean,"and that Updike's death marked "the end of the golden age of the American novel in the 20th century's second half." McEwan concluded that the Rabbit series is Updike's "masterpiece and will surely be his monument", and describing it, concluded:

"Updike is a master of effortless motion--between third and first person, from the metaphorical density of literary prose to the demotic, from specific detail to wide generalisation, from the actual to the numinous, from the scary to the comic...This carefully crafted artifice permits here assumptions about evolutionary theory, which are more Updike than Harry, and comically sweeping notions of Jewry, which are more Harry than Updike. This is at the heart of the [Rabbit] tetralogy's achievement. Updike once said of the Rabbit books that they were an exercise in point of view. This was typically self-deprecating, but contains an important grain of truth. Harry's education extends no further than high school, and his view is further limited by a range of prejudices and a stubborn, combative spirit, yet he is the vehicle for a half-million-word meditation on postwar American anxiety, failure and prosperity. A mode had to be devised to make this possible, and that involved pushing beyond the bounds of realism. In a novel like this, Updike insisted, you have to be generous and allow your characters eloquence, "and not chop them down to what you think is the right size."

What we have in Adam Begley's massive biography is an abundance of information and insights that help readers such as I - with only limited knowledge of Updike life and work-- to understand subjects such as these:

o The nature and extent of influence that Updike's childhood and youth had on his adult life and career as a writer
o Those who seem to have had the greatest impact on his personal growth
o Those who seem to have had the greatest impact on his professional development
0 Other writers Updike admired most...and why
o Defining moments throughout his life that required a change of course
o What others found most attractive in him as a person
o What others found least attractive
o What his two marriages reveal about his values, for better or worse
o Similarities and differences between Updike and Rabbit Angstrom
o His "lifelong inability to to make what he called a `leap of unfaith'"
o The defining characteristics of his writing style: fiction
o The defining characteristics of his writing style: non-fiction
o During his last few years, what Updike expected the nature and extent of his legacy to be

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of the material that are provided in this volume. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of what I have learned about John Updike, both as an imperfect person and as an iconic writer. He died eight weeks after the cancer was diagnosed, on Tuesday morning, January 27, 2009, less than two months after his seventy-seventh birthday. He retained until the very last the feeling of a conqueror.

As Adam Begley observes, "In truth, he never tired of writing, never tired of `creation's giddy bliss.' Up until the last, when he was too sick to write, he was always that little boy on the floor of the Shillington dining room, bending his attention to the paper, riding that thin pencil line into a glorious future, fulfilling the towering ambition of his grandest dreams. 'I've remained,' he once said, 'all too true to his youthful self.'" Only after I had read and then re-read this book could I understand and appreciate how revealing that statement is.

The Explorer Gene: How Three Generations of One Family Went Higher, Deeper, and Further Than Any Before
The Explorer Gene: How Three Generations of One Family Went Higher, Deeper, and Further Than Any Before
by Tom Cheshire
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.17
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "we can all learn something of the Piccards' spirit and passion for discovery ourselves", Aug. 27 2014
Here is what caught my eye in James Cameron's Foreword: "An important aspect of the `expression' of the Explorer Gene is this requirement to see for oneself -- to bear witness, personally to the unknown, to see that which has never been seen before by human eyes. And to project not only one's consciousness on a journey of imagination, but tom project one's physical body, with full knowledge of the attendant risks, to some extreme vantage point from which no human being has ever looked out upon unknown vistas."

What we have in this volume is Tom Cheshire's lively as well as rigorous and comprehensive exploration of a gene, D4DR (or "explorer gene"), and why "it may be as much a metaphor of the genetic age as arctic fever was in an era of infectious disease, or wanderlust in an age when romanticism held sway." He describes with exceptional skill "how successive generations of the Piccard family, through their natures and their nurtures, and their relationships with one another, came to be such pioneers." Three men in particular -- August, then Jacques, and finally Bertrand Piccard -- represented three generations of the Piccard family that went higher, deeper, and further than anyone else had ever done before.

"We do not know whether the Piccards carry the D4DR gene...Instead, it seems the explorer gene may in fact be a meme - a unit of cultural transmission that, like a gene, replicates and propagates itself. The strongest, fittest genes are handfed down. The explorer meme means that we can all learn something of the Piccards' spirit and passion for discovery ourselves." Helping his reader to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the process of discovery is Cheshire's primary objective and he achieves it fully and memorably.

Those who work their way through this lively narrative will learn that on May 27, 1931, Auguste Piccard became the first human to enter the stratosphere, flying an experimental balloon he invented himself. Thirty years later, his son Jacques went to the bottom of the earth, descending to the Mariana Trench in a submarine built by him and Auguste. To this day, no one has gone deeper. Bertrand, the third generation, was the first person to fly around the world non-stop in a balloon. Now, he's building his own craft: a solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe. Cheshire explains how and why these achievements occurred and of even greater interest to me is what he has to say about three quite extraordinary people who are members of the same family.

As I read Cameron's comments quoted earlier and then Cheshire's riveting accounts of various Piccard adventures, I was again reminded of Tennyson's Ulysses:

"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

When Tom Cheshire concludes this book, he shifts his attention to Thierry Piccard whose life offers an alternative existence: the explorer genes without the explorer meme. That is, given the achievements of his older brother, Bertrand, he has been free to pursue a less adventurous existence as a corporate executive. He is very proud of his family's renown but has no regrets. "I'm more comfortable on the ground." That is also true of almost every one who reads this book.

Cheshire again: "The Piccards carry on the adventure for us. But the example of three generations -- their attitude, their endeavour and their inventiveness -- can teach the rest of us to be pioneers, to challenge ourselves, and perhaps to make a special type of bread, if we want. We all have explorer genes; we don't have to go ton the highest, the deepest, or the furthest, to make use of them." The Piccards and other great explorers throughout history inspire us, in our own ways and to varying extent, "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Michael Jordan: The Life
Michael Jordan: The Life
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-dimensional examination of an exceptionally competitive person, both in sports and in business, Aug. 27 2014
This is an immensely interesting biography of someone born in 1963 who, at least so far, seems to have lived the "American Dream" in ways and to an extent that few people have. His achievements are several and significant. He was born to loving parents, the fourth of five children, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, and among the most talented and wealthiest of all who have played basketball. Currently, MichAel Jordan is principal owner of the Charlotte franchise in the National Basketball Association. In this volume, Roland Lazenby provides an abundance of information and insights about Michael Jordan's achievements but I was even more interested in learning more about the person who achieved them.

As Lazenby explains, "I like to write about competitive personalities, especially those in the NBA. I like to write about their families. Among the zillion questions I had about MJ, I wanted to know where he came from, who the Jordans were. They were moonshiners, making and selling illegal liquor on North Carolina's Coastal Plain. So that's where his hard edge came from, I thought upon discovering who they were. Just about all the farmers and sharecroppers were moonshiners back in the day. That was their cash crop, the one that kept the family fed. They were tough-minded people, just like Jordan himself.

"I've written a book that builds his life from that background. Starting at the beginning, with the birth of his great grandfather Dawson Jordan, allows me to take the reader through the process of his family, his background, and the nurturing of his vast competitive nature. What's more, it's immensely fun to track his rise. I enjoyed writing about the sharecroppers on North Carolina's Coastal Plain, just as I enjoyed writing about the coal miners and frontier settlers in Jerry West's background in West Virginia. I see it as connecting all of the important cultural dots in the backgrounds of iconic figures."

Of all that I learned about Jordan's life and career (thus far), these are the subjects of greatest interest to me:

o Why he was assigned (rather than cut) to the Laney High School junior varsity basketball team (Wilmington, NC)
o Although he carried resentments for decades, why he respected and accepted that decision
o His unique and revealing relationship with his mother, Deloris
o Why Dean Smith and UNC were the best coach and team for him at that time (1981-1984)
o Why the Chicago Bulls won no NBA titles during Jordan's first six years
o Why Jordan left the Bulls to play professional baseball
o His thoughts and feelings about that decision years later
o Why and how the Bulls then won two "Three-Peats" (1991-1993 and 1999-2001)
o Jordan's relationship with Phil Jackson and the Triangle Offense
o Jordan and Summer Olympics competition (1984 and 1992)
o Why Jordan played for the Washington Wizards after his second comeback (2001-2003)
o Gambling, golf, and other diversions
o Jordan's various commercial enterprises and endorsements, during and following his retirement from NBA playing career
o What his achievements as a player and as a businessman share in common

Based on the material in this book that supplements what I have seen, heard, and read about Jordan since his freshman year at UNC, I think Allenby provides a balanced account, as he previously had in other books, especially Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon (2010) and Mindgames: Phil Jackson's Long Strange Journey (2007). The best biographies are, of necessity, research-driven and that was especially important to the writing of Jordan's biography. Allenby seems to have contacted almost all who were close to the Jordan family dating back to, indeed prior to, Michael's birth as well as to others during the UNC and NBA years, including coaches, players, opponents, and members of what was once referred to as his "posse."

A more definitive biography of Michael Jordan may be written in years to come, taking into full account what happens between now and then. However, for me, this biography provides all the what, when, why, and with whom I am curious to know about one of the most competitive achievers I have observed and admired during the last 30 years.

B4b: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship
B4b: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If "software is eating the world" (Marc Andreessen), then it's time to update the kitchen and probably the recipes., Aug. 25 2014
For more than a century, at least back to 1884 when founder and CEO of National Cash Register, James Patterson, devised it, the B2B (i.e. business to business) model has been dominant. In recent years, a B2B2C model was developed. B1's focus was shifted to doing as much as it could to help to strengthen B2's relationship with its customers. To what does this book's title refer? According to, J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin, and Thomas Lah, "B4B seeks to frame what is possible in an age where suppliers are connected to their customers in real time. The traditional world of B2B was designed to sell things to customers, whereas the new B4B model will be about delivering outcomes for customers. It's a whole new ballgame. Using powerful models and specific examples, B4B envisions a next-generation tech industry where suppliers play an active, ongoing role in helping business customers achieve unparalleled value from their technology investments."

As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of the title of one of Marshall Goldsmith's recent books in which he explains why "what got you here won't get you there." In fact, I presume to add that "what got you here won't even keep you here," wherever and whatever "here" may be. Patterson's B2B served NCR and countless other companies well for decades but it should be noted that this model, albeit fundamentally sound, still required frequent tweaking from time to accommodate changes in the given marketplace. The same will be true of B4B, only I doubt if it will remain dominant for more than a decade, if that.

All this and much more are thoroughly explained in this book. These are among the several dozen passages of special interest and value to me, identified to suggest the scope of Wood, Hewlin, and Lah's coverage:

o The Current B2B Model (Pages 6-016(
o Three Key Areas in Which to Reduce Risks to Customer (29-31)
o The Supplier Side, and A Platform of Service (38-44)
o Maybe You Disagree (45-50)
o Market Maturity (54-56)
o But What s the New Business Model? (56-59)
o It's the Outcome! (70-71)
o B4B: Trouble in Paradise (81-83)
o The Great Migrations (94-96)
o Connectedness (97-100)
o Success Science (104-108)
o Merging Capabilities (130-135)
o The Three Pivots (142-143)
o Key Capabilities for the Expand Sales Motion (159-163)
o Key Capabilities for Adoption Services (174-180)
o The Data Handshake (192-194)
o Epilogue (217)

I commend J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin, and Thomas Lah on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel they provide. It remains for each reader to determine whether or not to lead the charge to adopt the B4B model. In that event, vigorous resistance must be anticipated and prepared for, with much (most?) of it coming from those who established -- and now defend -- the status quo. I strongly recommend checking out the resources and support services available at the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA).

Olivier by Ziegler, Philip (2013) Hardcover
Olivier by Ziegler, Philip (2013) Hardcover
by Philip Ziegler
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive biography of a magnificent performer who was large, who contained multitudes, Aug. 20 2014
Prior to reading Philip Ziegler's biography, what I knew about Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was limited almost entirely to seeing several of the films in which he appeared, many of them for the first time on the AMC channel. They include Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca and Pride and Prejudice (both in 1940), The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth (1944), Richard III (1955), The Devil's Disciple (1959), The Merchant of Venice, The Entertainer and Spartacus (both in 1960), and Marathon Man (1976). I never saw him appear on stage but, of course, over the years read about his great triumphs, mostly on stages in Great Britain. I knew almost nothing about his personal life, other than the fact that he was married to Vivian Leigh (1940-1960) and later to Joan Plowright (from 1961 until his death of renal failure in 1989).

These are the questions I had in mind when beginning to read Ziegler's biography:

o By what process did he develop his extraordinary skills as an actor
o His favorite plays among those in which he appeared
o His favorite films among those in which he appeared
o Other prominent actors whom he admired most...and why
o What he was like to work with as a fellow actor
o What he was like to work with as a director
o Others with whom he most enjoyed working
o Others with whom he least enjoyed working
Note: John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson (and perhaps Kirk Douglas) would probably be on both lists for reasons that reveal more about Olivier than they do about them.

I am deeply grateful to Ziegler for all that I learned about Olivier's life and work insofar as these subjects are concerned. I am also grateful to him for what I learned about other dimensions of his life and work:

o His indifference to parenthood and neglect of his four children
o Why he was dismissed by the Old Vic theatre company
o His up-and-down, down-and-up relationship with the National Theatre
o Why two of his marriages failed but the third succeeded
o His inability to delegate authority
o According to those who knew him best, what his defining characteristics were as an actor
o And as a person
o His stage fright and other anxieties and insecurities
o The personal relationships he cherished most
o His struggles with Leigh's bi-polar temperament and behavior
o Olivier's sexuality
o His extravagant praise and scathing criticism, often during the same conversation
o In later years, his health issues and how he dealt with them

The title of this review is explained by the fact that, as I re-read this book prior to setting to work on this review of it, I was again reminded of Walt Whitman's declaration in "Song of Myself": "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." The same can be said of Laurence Olivier both on and off the stage as well as on and off the screen.

I agree with John Simon's concluding comments in his review in The New York Times: "The biography is full of marvelous anecdotes; traces sovereignly the rivalries with Richardson, Gielgud, and Olivier's successor at the National, Peter Hall; and avoids the salacious. It is altogether a thorough and intelligent book." Presumably most of those who read it will agree with Simon. My only regret is that I never had the opportunity to see Olivier perform on stage but at least several of his best films remain. I shall revisit a few soon, probably Henry V first.

Olivier
Olivier
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive biography of a magnificent performer who was large, who contained multitudes, Aug. 20 2014
This review is from: Olivier (Kindle Edition)
Prior to reading Philip Ziegler's biography, what I knew about Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was limited almost entirely to seeing several of the films in which he appeared, many of them for the first time on the AMC channel. They include Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca and Pride and Prejudice (both in 1940), The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth (1944), Richard III (1955), The Devil's Disciple (1959), The Merchant of Venice, The Entertainer and Spartacus (both in 1960), and Marathon Man (1976). I never saw him appear on stage but, of course, over the years read about his great triumphs, mostly on stages in Great Britain. I knew almost nothing about his personal life, other than the fact that he was married to Vivian Leigh (1940-1960) and later to Joan Plow (from 1961 until his death of renal failure in 1989).

These are the questions I had in mind when beginning to read Ziegler's biography:

o By what process did he develop his extraordinary skills as an actor
o His favorite plays among those in which he appeared
o His favorite films among those in which he appeared
o Other prominent actors whom he admired most...and why
o What he was like to work with as a fellow actor
o What he was like to work with as a director
o Others with whom he most enjoyed working
o Others with whom he least enjoyed working
Note: John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson (and perhaps Kirk Douglas) would probably be on both lists for reasons that reveal more about Olivier than they do about them.

I am deeply grateful to Ziegler for all that I learned about Olivier's life and work insofar as these subjects are concerned. I am also grateful to him for what I learned about other dimensions of his life and work:

o His indifference to parenthood and neglect of his four children
o Why he was dismissed by the Old Vic theatre company
o His up-and-down, down-and-up relationship with the National Theatre
o Why two of his marriages failed but the third succeeded
o His inability to delegate authority
o According to those who knew him best, what his defining characteristics were as an actor
o And as a person
o His stage fright and other anxieties and insecurities
o The personal relationships he cherished most
o His struggles with Leigh's bi-polar temperament and behavior
o Olivier's sexuality
o His extravagant praise and scathing criticism, often during the same conversation
o In later years, his health issues and how he dealt with them

The title of this review is explained by the fact that, as I re-read this book prior to setting to work on this review of it, I was again reminded of Walt Whitman's declaration in "Song of Myself": "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." The same can be said of Laurence Olivier both on and off the stage as well as on and off the screen.

I agree with John Simon's concluding comments in his review in The New York Times: "The biography is full of marvelous anecdotes; traces sovereignly the rivalries with Richardson, Gielgud, and Olivier's successor at the National, Peter Hall; and avoids the salacious. It is altogether a thorough and intelligent book." Presumably most of those who read it will agree with Simon. My only regret is that I never had the opportunity to see Olivier perform on stage but at least several of his best films remain. I shall revisit a few soon, probably Henry V.

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