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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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5.0 out of 5 stars The "green thumb" needed to "grow" leaders, June 28 2014
My wife is a gourmet chef and what she demonstrated again last evening is that a great dinner depends almost entirely on three key factors: the raw materials, knowledge (the "what"), and skill (the "how"). I thought about this as I was reading Daniel Goleman's recently published anthology of essays that had originally appeared in various business journals, including HBR.

His key point - and I agree - is that, when it comes to predicting who amongst highly intelligent people will emerge as the most productive, "the best team member or an outstanding leader, emotional intelligence increasingly matters. That's because emotional intelligence skills - how well we manage ourselves and our relationships - are the skills that distinguish outstanding performers. And the higher one goes in an organization, the more EI matters in distinguishing the most effective leaders."

The essays in this volume reflect Goleman's own personal growth and professional development during a remarkably productive 15-year period, from "What Makes a Great Leader" (HBR, November/December 1998) to "The Leader's Triple Focus" (adapted from Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, published by Harper in 2013). Over time, he has increased his knowledge and strengthened various skills to produce work of increasingly higher quality and value while nourishing various relationships with his associates, clients, and students. I am especially impressed by the more direct and more personal rapport with his reader that Goleman has developed over the years. I am among countless others who felt that, while reading Focus, for example, he had written it specifically for me. Only someone with highly developed emotional intelligence could accomplish that.

There are no head-snapping revelations in this collection of essays written for HBR and other business journals, nor does Goleman make any such claim. For more than two decades, the greatest value of the information, insights, and counsel that he provides is that - together - they help to establish a rock-solid foundation which to develop increasingly stronger management as well as leadership skills. The word "increasingly" indicates my conviction that executive development is a never-ending process, not an ultimate destination.

I am among those who have read all of the books from which these essays have been extracted. (Indeed, in some instances, the book was based on an essay.) I re-read them in this volume and, again, found something I had missed during a previous reading. I now presume to make three suggestions. First, consider this volume as an excellent gift to those who are now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one. Also, if you are a supervisor with several direct reports entrusted to your care, consider purchasing a copy for each and thereby nourish their aspirations to lead others.

Finally, check out LEADERSHIP: A MASTER CLASS with Daniel Goleman. This is a set of DVDs based on his conversations with Daniel Siegel, ("The Leader's Mind"), Warren Bennis ("The Socially Intelligent Leader"), Erica Ariel Fox (Getting Beyond Yes"), Caludio Fernández-Aráoz ("Talent Strategy"), Bill George ("Authentic Leadership"), Teresa Amabile ("Create to Innovate"), Howard Gardner ("Today's Leadership Imperative"), and George Kohlrieser ("High Performance Leadership"). A bonus interview of Peter Senge is included.

Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion
Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit." Ralph Waldo Emerson, June 27 2014
In an article that appeared in The Atlantic (March 12, 2012), "What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?", David Zweig explained why some people choose professions where accomplishments go unheralded. They are what he characterizes as "Invisibles" insofar as recognition and (especially) praise are concerned, preferring to work on the given work at hand.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Zweig's coverage. I could have selected hundreds of brief excerpts. Here are five:

o Three Defining Traits of Invisibles: Ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness, and savoring responsibility

Zweig: "The Invisibles are not an exclusive group; they are simply at the far end of a spectrum we all live within. We are all Invisible to varying degrees, in different ways, and in different contexts. The elite professionals I will spotlight in this book, however, show that living at the apex of this continuum, that truly embodying these traits, directly links with success and fulfillment." (Page 13)

o Giulia Wilkins Ary and other members of the elite Interpretation Service at the United Nations

"Without her and her colleagues, diplomats from around the world would not be able to communicate with each other...Wilkins Ary hears one language, interprets it into another language in her head, then speak the new language [begin italics] while at the same time continuing to listen to and interpret the next lines of the original language [end italics], a practice known as simultaneous interpretation... (84)

o The myth of self-promotion and the Culture of Profile

"In the online environment, especially on social media platforms, as we present ourselves as a series of 'likes,' links, and lists of favorite stuff, our essence has been reduced yet again -- from a personality to a profile...Operating in this environment, where you others and know they are observing you, on a mass scale, deeply alters our sense of public and private, normalizing the expectation of recognition for everything we do...And that's the irony of all this noise about the need for self-promotion, especially so online. In some ways it seems just a vast myth that the culture at large has bought into...This, at its core, the message of the Invisibles. To let go of the ego and worries of recognition, and instead focus on the work." (109, 112, 121, and 126)

o Robert Elswit, a cinematographer, on the "art of collaboration" and the significance of Michael Clayton

"There are sometimes sixty or seventy people who are hired directly or indirectly by me who have to want to come to work every day" [on each film]...if they aren't happy to see me, if they don't want to come to work, if they don't know [or care] what they're doing, then my work suffers...The film Michael Clayton is about a guy who finds himself at the age of forty-eight completely bereft of any personal sense of dignity, who has lost every part of him that he used to think was important. He has no self-respect left. He is a shill; he is a prostitute; he is a living version of everything that when he was twenty-two years old probably disgusted him. And it happened so slowly he never figured it out. And he's given the opportunity at some point to find himself again. That's what Michael Clayton is about." And self-respect is what Invisibles are all about. (135 and 141)

o Invisibles across cultures

"Drawing attention to one's self "has been a critical part of America's success. What I suggest, however, is that the tonal balance between this brashness and a more reserved temperament -- what I call our American Swing -- that served our country so well is, in recent years, increasingly tipping toward the former trait...We can learn from [other countries] by pulling the successful elements of their more collectivist and horizontal attitude while maintaining out unique noise. If we can do that we can get back on course, once again knifing straight through the water. Otherwise, we're merely a bunch of oars splashing manically off the side of the boat, not going anywhere." (219)

As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of Susan Cain's brilliant discussion of "the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" in her book, Quiet. Historians' accounts and media coverage must share at least some of the blame for widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.

Ironically, Carnegie is among the pioneers of self-help programs that emphasize "winning friends and influencing people," the title of a book first published in 1936 and continues to be a bestseller. According to Cain, Carnagey (who later changed his name "likely to evoke Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist") was a good-natured but insecure high school student. He was skinny, unathletic, and fretful. His subsequent career from farmboy to salesman to public- speaking icon demonstrates a shift in America "from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality - and opened up a Pandora's Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover."

With rare exception, the dozens of Invisibles whom David Zweig discusses are unknown to most who read this book and that's fine with them. Many (if not most) of them were/are introverted but the key point is that their behavior is in seamless alignment with what they value. Zweig speaks for them as well as for himself when observing in the Conclusion, "Praise can be hard to come by and fleeting when you do get it but no one can take away pride from, and engagement in, hard work. Like my Invisible subjects, I realized that the value of my work, not the volume of my praise, brought me, and still does now, fulfillment. I want recognition, I want success -- please, buy five more copies of my book! -- but, in the end, what sustains me, what keeps that bogeyman of anxiety at bay, is the work itself."

Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave: Finding Opportunities in Huge Data Streams with Advanced Analytics
Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave: Finding Opportunities in Huge Data Streams with Advanced Analytics
by Bill Franks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.58
50 used & new from CDN$ 30.67

5.0 out of 5 stars How Big Data can help any organization improve productivity, create value, stay competitive, and recognize new trends, June 27 2014
What we have in Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave is a wealth of information, insights, and counsel provided by Bill Franks that will help business leaders in almost any organization -- whatever its size and nature may be -- to locate and then take full advantage business opportunities in huge data streams with advanced analytics. These are among dozens of Franks' key points, listed in the order in which he discusses them:

1. Big data will continue to evolve. What we think is big and intimidating today won't raise an eyebrow in a decade, but another new data source certainly will.

2. The opportunity to be an early adopter and get ahead of the competition is almost closed. Get started taming this big data source now.

3. Social network data can lead to new ways of valuing customers. In the telecommunications industry, social network analysis has shifted from account profitability to network profitability.

4. Relational databases, clouds, and MapReduce (see Pages 110-117) all add value in taming big data. The three technologies can integrate and work together to make each better and more effective than it would be on its own.

5. Legacy processes for deploying analytical processes and models aren't designed to take advantage of the current state of the world. To tame big data, it is crucial that the processes are updated to take full advantage of the scalability available.

6. Data visualization is not about fancy looking graphics. It is about displaying data in a way that allows greater comprehension of the point(s) being made.

7. The most important part of any analysis happens before it begins. The way the problem is framed up-front can determine the success or failure of the analysis.

8. Great analytic professionals tie the level of concern about data's accuracy to the level of granularity of the decision required. Imperfect data can still have enough power to answer a lot of questions effectively.

9. Be very choosy when hiring or assign people to an analytics team. Success is far more dependent on the individuals who make up that team than it is on the organizational structure in which that team is working.

10. A lot can be learned from failures, including analytic training center failures. They aren't all bad. Some failures can be quite valuable if (HUGE "if") what is learned in the process of failing is applied broadly to improve either past or future processes.

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

o How Is Big Data Different? (Pages 7-9)
o Risks of Big Data (10-12)
o The Structure of Big Data (14-16)
o Today's Big Data Is Not Tomorrow's Big Data (24-25)
o Web Data Overview (30-36)
o Customer Segmentation (47-48)
o Multiple Industries: The Value of Big Data (57-60)
o Retail Manufacturing: The Value RFID and Gaming: The Value of Casino Chip Tracking Data (64-68 and 71-73)
o A history of Scalability (88-89)
o The Convergence of Analytic and Data Environments (90-93)
o Cloud Computing (102-109)
o Analytic Sandbox Essentials (122-130)
o Analytic Data Set Essentials (133-141)
o Embedded Scoring (145-147)
o Analysis: Make It Guided, Explainable, Actionable, and Timely! (184-186)
o Core Analytics versus Advanced Analytics (186-188)
o The Often Underrated Traits of a Great Analytic Professional (208-222)
o The Guiding Principles of an Analytic Innovation Center (263-269)

Bill Franks provides an eloquent as well as thorough explanation of how to find business opportunities in huge data streams with advanced analytics. He urges his reader to keep in mind that big data is real and here to stay, that scalability is more important than ever before (and will become even more important), that new processes as well as a new mindset are required, and there is an urgent need to formulate and then implement new analysis methodologies such as text analysis, ensemble models, and commodity models.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check one or more of Tom Davenport's books (notably Big Data @ Work and Keeping Up with the Quants), Christopher Surdak's Data Crush, and Big Data co-authored by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier.

Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
by Linda A. Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
37 used & new from CDN$ 18.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable perspectives on the role of the leader in creating and then sustaining a culture within which innovation thrives, June 27 2014
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of one of Tom Davenport's recent books, Judgment Calls, during which he and co-author Brooke Manville offer "an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance": [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, "the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

Davenport and Manville could well have had the collaborative innovation in mind, a process on which Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback focus in their book, Collective Genius. They share in it valuable lessons learned from teams who exemplify "the art and practice of innovation" in a diverse range of organizations that include the Acumen Fund, eBay, Google, HCL Technologies, IBM, Pfizer, Pentagram, Pixar Animation Studios, and Volkswagen. They explain

o What genius looks like
o Why it needs leadership
o The kind of leadership it requires
o How leaders create the willingness and the ability to innovate
o The power and perils of "creative abrasion"
o How to create and then sustain a culture ("ecosystem") within which innovation thrives

As they explain, every person in a leader's group, "whether it's a small team or a large corporation, contains a slice of genius." The leader's task is to "create a place where all those slices can be elicited, combined, and converted into collective genius." The book's primary objective, therefore, "is to provide insights, guidance, and real-life examples" that will help leaders do that. It is important to keep in mind, also, that all organizations -- whatever their size and nature may be -- need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas. That is to say, collective genius is the result of collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and an integrative thought process by which decisions are made. Roger Martin speaks to this last point, in The Opposable Mind, when observing that those involved in that process have "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in mind and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," are able to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea."
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Hill, Brandeau, Truelove, and Lineback's coverage.

o How Pixar Innovates (Pages 11-16)
o The Paradoxes of Collaboration (27-31)
o The Paradoxes of Discovery-Driven Learning (31-37)
o A New Leader for HCL: Vineet Nayar (46-49)
Note: I urge you to check out his book, Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down.
o Lessons from a Different Kind of Leader (64-67)
o A Foundation to Build On (78-87)
o Community Drives Willingness (91-93)
o The Importance of Shared Values (102-108)
o How People Think (112-115)
o Creative Abrasion (138-145)
o The Leader's Role in Creative Agility (162-167)
o The Leader's Role in Creative Resolution (184-189)
o The Wildfire Initiative (211)
o The Right Stuff, and, But Leaders Are More Made Than Born (226-246)

I am deeply grateful to Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback for the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that they and others contributed in this book. In fact, more than a dozen innovation leaders were in fact active collaborators in - almost co-authors of -- the provision of "collective genius" found in the nine chapters and Epilogue. Moreover, these primary sources represent the teams they led at their respective organizations. To everyone involved, I now offer a heartfelt Bravo!

Shift: Indigenous Principles for Corporate Change
Shift: Indigenous Principles for Corporate Change
Price: CDN$ 1.11

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "now is the time for being, feeling, and living with meaning and purpose", June 24 2014
As Glenn Geffcken carefully explains in this volume, there are valuable lessons to be learned from indigenous cultures, lessons that will help leaders in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to avoid or overcome resistance to change initiatives. I agree with the title of one of Marshall Goldsmith's recent books, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Indeed, I would add that whatever got you here won't even keep you "here," whatever and wherever that may be. Organizations must not become hostage to what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom."

However, that said, traditions and the wisdom on which they are based must be respected. This is what Geffcken has in mind when expressing his admiration of "cultures that are rooted in a strong connection to Mother Earth, that are tribal in nature, and that have some degree of connection to the traditions of their ancestors that stretches back for more than a thousand years."

These are among the lessons and values Geffcken discusses that are of greatest interest to me:

o Connect with the Earth: Cherish the natural world and its resources.
o Commit your life to the betterment of your family, community, and nation.
o Create a purpose that guides and informs your behavior, especially your decisions.
o This purpose must be appropriate to all human initiatives ("four directions') and all "seasons."
o Everything is connected and interdependent.
o Appreciate the wisdom of elders.
o "Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson
o Strong vision flows from clear intention.
o To be at peace with the natural world, you must first be at peace with yourself.
o The more you realize what you don't know, the more humble you will become.
o "Your time is now" to live with meaning and purpose.

I have selected a passage in Chapter four to serve as a conclusion to this review. Why? Because Glenn Geffcken explains why he wrote this book and what he hopes his readers will "get," if nothing else: Indigenous people have struggled to adapt to the so-called "modern" world because "it is alien to them, upside down to them, which is precisely the point of this book. Adopting indigenous principles does not require that we cast aside our technology and creature comforts, don the leather and fringe, and ride a horse bareback into the sunset. It may, however, require that we make lifestyle changes, as Al Qoyawayma stated in the quote at the beginning of this chapter that 'Indian values teach the holistic approach to the use of technology for mankind's good.'"

Long ago, in one of the letters that comprise I Corinthians, St. Paul affirmed that "we are many parts, one body." I am among those who believe that is true. The challenge is to live it, every day and indeed live it every moment.

John Wayne: The Life and Legend
John Wayne: The Life and Legend
by Scott Eyman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.79
41 used & new from CDN$ 16.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The amazing transformation of Marion Mitchell Morrison who became John Wayne, June 22 2014
If there is a more comprehensive and more reliable biography of the man who became John Wayne (1907-1979), I am not aware of it. Hundreds of others have already reviewed this book and most of them share my high regard for Scott Eyman's achievement. No one can deny that John Wayne was among the most popular actors in all the film history. On and off screen, he always seemed "larger than life" to me. Apparently, he had the same impact on those with whom he as associated. This is a massive biography. Whether or not it is the "definitive biography" is a matter to be addressed by others far better qualified than I. Suffice now for me to say that I enjoyed reading this book almost as much as I enjoy watching, again, my personal favorites among the 140 films in which he appeared.

I am very grateful to Eyman for what I learned about subjects such as these:

o Why John Wayne was loved and respected by almost everyone who knew him.
o Why he endured John Ford's constant abuse while making films together
o The films of which Wayne was most proud...and why
o The best and the worst of his three marital relationships: to Josephine ("Josie") Saenz, Esperanza ("Chata") Baur, and Pilar Pallete
o Why all three marriages ended in divorce and what Wyayne made of that
o His defining political and social views and values
o The difficulties that he encountered when attempting to finance and then complete his film about the Alamo
o Why he hated High Noon
o His closest personal friendships throughout his life and what they reveal about him as a person
o His attitude toward the Academy Awards
o What he most enjoyed about film making...and why
o What he least enjoyed...and why
o What he thought of himself as a husband and as a father...and why
o What he thought of himself as an actor...and why
o The most significant details of his losing battle with stomach cancer, especially during the last few days
o What Eyman thinks John Wayne's life and career reveal about cultural values in the United States during the 1940s through the 1980s

With regard to my personal favorites among John Wayne's films, they include these, listed in the order in which they were released:

Stagecoach (1939)
They Were Expendable (1945)
Fort Apache (1948)
The Searchers (1956)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
True Grit (1969)

There are dozens of memorable moments in dozens of his other films but I have selected these because of what I view as the sustained quality of his acting within the given role as opposed to being himself in a fictional context. One man's opinions.

Marketing (The Brian Tracy Success Library)
Marketing (The Brian Tracy Success Library)
by Brian Tracy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 10.33
27 used & new from CDN$ 2.42

5.0 out of 5 stars The essentials of how to create or increase demand for what you offer, June 20 2014
This is one of the volumes in the The Brian Tracy Success Library, all published by AMACOM. Tracy has already written one or more books of greater length and depth that examine these and other major business subjects. What he has now done with each of the volumes in the series is to condense with consummate skill the most valuable information, insights, and counsel within a 100-page format, in this instance the most valuable lessons he has learned about marketing.

Briefly but substantially, Tracy covers essentials of that include how to build a customer base, differentiate you and what you offer from competitors, answer the three essential questions about a new product or service that you offer (please see Pages 12-15), leverage market research in order focus on target prospects, make better decisions about how to create or increase demand for what you offer, fulfill customers' emotional needs, and derive maximum benefit from your distribution channels. . He selected 21 specific subjects or themes and devotes a separate chapter to each. Briefly but substantially, Tracy covers these and other essentials of marketing.

I agree with Brian Tracy's concluding observations: "Whatever "marketing strategy is working for you today, no matter how successful it is, will soon be obsolete and will have to be replaced by a new or different marketing strategy...and your competition has never been determined and more aggressive than it is today. Your job is to be better, faster, and more creative than your competitors, continually leapfrogging them in the marketplace to attain market leadership. Fortunately, there are no limits on what you can accomplish, except for the limits that you place on yourself."

Achieving and then sustaining business success (however defined) depends almost entirely on nailing the fundamentals every day at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. In this book, Tracy focuses on the fundamentals in marketing. Mastering them and then applying them with high-impact is the challenge you now face. I urge you to embrace it with passionate tenacity and rigorous self-discipline.

* * *

Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. His goal is to help as many people as possible to achieve their personal and business goals faster and easier than they ever imagined.

The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation
The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation
by Josh Linkner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.31
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.88

5.0 out of 5 stars If you don't constantly challenge your status quo, you can be certain that someone else will., June 19 2014
In a previous book, Disciplined Dreaming, Josh Linkner offered "a proven system to drive breakthrough creativity," one that requires highly-developed mental and emotional discipline. He introduces a methodology, a five-step process, that he calls "Disciplined Dreaming." He interviewed more than 200 people whose creativity has driven their success. What he learned is shared in that book. For example:

o Define a "creativity challenge" (e.g. answering an important question, solving a serious problem or taking full advantage of a major opportunity)
o Prepare (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and environmentally) for the process by which to create or reveal a correct answer or effective solution
o Discover various "avenues" by which to reach that answer or solution
o Ignite forces (i.e. "juices") with various techniques to generate an abundance of creative ideas
o Launch the process by which to realize (literally, to make a reality of) each of the best ideas within a framework provided in Chapter Ten.

What we have in his latest book, The Road to Reinvention, is a wealth of information, insights, and counsel about how reinvention can help individuals as well as organizations to "drive disruption and accelerate transformation." That is, take what "disciplined dreaming" creates to the next stage: actualization. It is imperative to understand that reinvention is a never-ending process, not an ultimate destination. Linkner's primary objective is to help as many people as possible to master the skills needed when embarked on that challenging, sometimes perilous process.

The tools needed for transformation include these:

o Rapid Reinvention: Identify and eliminate whatever blocks or delays progress (Pages 25-26)
o What If...: Free the imagination so that it can pose possibilities, options, alternatives, etc. (48)
o Make what you now offer obsolete: Replace whatever it is with whatever is much better (69-72)
o Fire the Cannon: Select internal and external targets to attack (91)
o Creating Excellence, Step by Step: Remember, improvement is an on-going process (108-109
o Becoming a Firebrand: Market as if your "life" depended on it...because it does (129-130)
o Hot Seat: Linkner offers brilliant advice on how to obtain direct, BS-free feedback (149-150)
o Disrupting a New Customer Segment: How to prepare to compete in a new market (169-170)
o Six Habits for Reinvention: To be developed by everyone involved (193-194)
o More, Less, Stop: More of what? Less of what? and What to stop thinking and doing? (222)

In Leading Change, James O'Toole suggests that the strongest resistance to change tends to be the result of what he so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." When challenging the status quo, never underestimate the determination of those who created it and now defend it. Those who read this book will be much better prepared to avoid or overcome cultural resistance. That said, whatever status quo they then establish can best be sustained only if they are committed to on-going reinvention of what they do and how they do it. As Richard Hawkins correctly reminds us, "Yesterday's dangerous idea is today's orthodoxy and tomorrow's cliché."

Josh Linkner is a five star, world-class pragmatist with an imagination on steroids who is driven to understand what works, what doesn't, and why, then share what he has learned with as many people as he can. In my opinion, this is his best work...thus far. I am eager to see where his insatiable curiosity and disciplined dreaming take him next. Meanwhile, I highly recommend his blog at which you can sign up for a free subscription to his weekly E-letter.

Business Strategy: Plan, Execute, Win!
Business Strategy: Plan, Execute, Win!
by Patrick J. Stroh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.30
33 used & new from CDN$ 19.37

5.0 out of 5 stars How to formulate and then execute strategies that will help you achieve your objectives at work and everywhere else, June 18 2014
Just as in residential real estate, for every house there is a buyer, I am convinced that for every business book, there is also a buyer and I think there are many people who will benefit substantially from the approach that Patrick Stroh takes to the content he provides. The last time I checked, Amazon offers 73, 377 books that cover one or more aspects of business strategy; 16,462 of them are classified within the "Management" category. Obviously, there is no shortage of information, insights, and counsel concerning strategy, both inline and in print. Fortunately, Customer Reviews such as mine can help those who read them to decide which source(s) will most likely be most relevant to the given needs and interests.

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Michael Porter's observation, "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." I agree with Porter as well as with Stroh: "Creating a strategy that you in turn drive into actionable plans and goals with associated metrics is invaluable. Execution is everything. Great executors of business strategy create conditions in which people":

o Know what to do because accountabilities are clear.
o Know how to do it because they have the right skills.
o Are motivated to do it because they see how they are adding value to the organization.
o Have defined metrics by which to measure the nature and extent of impact.

I view strategies as "hammers" that drive "nails" (tactics) to achieve the given objectives. Stroh's approach is to focus on the essentials of that process. These are among the passages that caught my eye:

o Evolution of Strategic Planning (Pages 6-13)
o Desirable skills and core competencies (37-42)
o Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen (57-62)
o Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (62-69)
o 21 Movies: Six Lessons on Business Strategy (74-88)
o Being the Boss (93-96)
o Five Themes of Business Parables from the Bible (109-123)
o Typical Questions the Sharks Ask All Presenters (126-132)
o 13 Lucky Models and Methods (142-153)
o Potential failures to be avoided (158-160)

I presume to add that the original meaning of the word "strategia" means "generalship," hence the importance of the material provided in Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Carl von Clausewitz's On War. Hunt for Red October (1990) is one of the films on Stroh's list in Chapter 4 and it is also on my own list of war films that illustrate valuable leadership lessons. Others on that list include Fort Apache (1948), Paths of Glory and Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Tunes of Glory (1960), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and 12 O’clock High (1964).

In only 166 pages, Patrick Stroh manages to provide an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that will probably be of greatest interest to those now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked on one. That said, effective leadership and management are needed at all levels and in all areas of any enterprise, whatever its size and nature may be. For that reason, I strongly recommend this little book of great substance to anyone who is determined to accelerate their personal growth and professional development.

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success
Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Let your light so shine before men....", June 17 2014
Those who have read one or more of Sylvia Ann Hewlett's previously published books (notably When the Bough Breaks, Off-Ramps and On-Ramps, Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets, and Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor) already know that she is among the most intelligent, sensitive, intuitive, and practical business thinkers within subject areas that range from talent evaluation to organizational transformation. Her focus in her latest book, Executive Presence, is of special interest to me because, for more than 30 years, I have worked with corporate clients to help accelerate the development of talent needed at all levels and in all areas of their operations. I am already well aware of the importance of what she characterizes as the three pillars of executive presence (EP):

o How you act (gravitas)
o How you speak (communication)
o How you look (appearance)

Fair or not, more often than not, candidates for a position who have less merit but greater EP have a decisive competitive advantage over candidates with greater merit but lesser EP. "The amazing thing about EP is that it's a precondition for success whether you're a cellist, a salesperson, or a Wall Street banker." Hewlett wrote this book to help her readers "crack the EP code." Although doing so "can be onerous and sometimes eats into your soul, this work and these struggles will allow you to flower and flourish. Once you've demonstrated that you know how to stand with the crowd, you get to strut your stuff and stand apart. It turns out that becoming a leader and doing something amazing with your life hinges on what makes you different, not what makes you the same as everyone else."

I agree while presuming to add that many people (I among them) have never been comfortable with developing EP. In fact, as Hewlett explains in her exceptionally interesting Prologue, she had the same problem while attempting to gain admission to "Oxbridge" (she was accepted by Cambridge) and later when she began her first job as an assistant professor of economics at Barnard College. Over time, both she and I have learned how to present ourselves more effectively. If we can develop some EP, almost anyone else can...if doing so serves their purposes. Hermits have no need for EP.

Clearly, Hewlett agrees with Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." The self-development program she recommends in this book can help a person to reveal more effectively who they genuinely are and suggest who they can become. Authentic (key word) qualities of character connote gravitas, "that weightiness or heft that marks you as worth following into the fire. Gravitas is the very essence of FP. Without it, you simply won't be perceived as a leader, no matter what your title or level of authority, no matter how well you dress or speak. Gravitas, according to 62 percent of the leaders we [at the Center for Talent Innovation in NYC that she founded] surveyed, is what signals to the world that you're made of the right stuff and can be trusted with serious responsibility."

With all due respect to the power of charisma, some of the most evil leaders throughout history possessed it, as did some of the most highly-principled leaders. Frankly, I've always thought that charisma resembles an expensive fragrance: it smells great but don't drink it. There can be no authentic EP without gravitas but that is only one of the three "pillars." Hewlett also explains how to communicate much more effectively, to become more presentable, and in this instance I am again reminded of a Passage in Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." I'm sure that many agnostics and atheists see the need to increase their EP.

Brilliantly, Hewlett explains both how and why.

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

o Cracking the EP Code (Pages 5-10)
o The Right Stuff (15-18)
o Speaking Truth to Power (25-27)
o How to Deepen Your Gravitas (39-44)
o Command a Room (54-60)
o How to Polish our Communication Skills (74-77)
o Enhancing Appearance: Tactics (100-105)
o Difficult Conversations -- But Extraordinarily Important (111-113)
o Tactics: How to Get the EP Feedback You Need (116-122)
o A Narrow Band of Acceptability (128-131)
o Gravitas (138-142)
o Bleached-Out Professionals (149-156)
o Tactics: Authenticity vs. Conformity (158-164)
o Understand the Diversity Dividend (165-167)

Sylvia Ann Hewlett is convinced (and I agree) that ordinary mortals can crack the EP code and master the skills that will "let their light shine before men." That light will be powered by gravitas. Also, she urges her reader to be reasonable about making whatever changes in attitude and behavior mazy be necessary to increase EP. Being yourself can be both good news and bad news. What's the point of continuing to be an authentic jerk? A constant whiner?

And I presume to add one more point: Developing EP is a never-ending process, not an ultimate destination. (Hewlett calls it a "journey.") Be flexible, be resilient...and above all else, be patient but committed. Bon voyage!

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