Most Helpful First | Newest First
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A toolbox that every executive must have,
This review is from: The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up (Hardcover)As I began to read this book, I was reminded of comments by then CEO Jack Welch at one of GE's annual meetings when he explained why he admired entrepreneurial companies: "For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy."
Although there is a great deal of valuable material in this book for those who are planning to launch a new company or have only recently done so, what Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham provide can also be of substantial value to all other executives who also wish to establish and then sustain the kind of a company that Welch describes. Their choice of a first-person narrator is a wise one because it ensures an immediate and personal rapport with the reader. Presumably the voice is Brodsky's. but those who have read Burlingham's Small Giants will immediately realize that Brodsky speaks for both of them. It should also be noted that Brodsky launched seven successful start-ups and now provides a monthly column, "Street Smarts," in Inc. magazine.
They are impiricists whose insights are based a wealth of real-world experience; they are also pragmatists who understand what works...and what doesn't...in the contemporary business world. The "toolbox" metaphor is especially appropriate because the reader will find in this single source just about all they need to achieve and then sustain success. For example, in the first two chapters, Brodsky and Burlingham explain how to
Make the right decisions
Manage cash flow properly
Balance the sales mentality with the business mentality
Anticipate and then prepare for changes with analytics
Be resilient when countering failure and learn from it
Identify root cause rather than respond only to symptoms
Balance focus and discipline with resiliency
Recognize answers and solutions with peripheral vision
Then in Chapters Nine and Fourteen, Brodsky and Burlingham explain how to
Build relationships that retain your most profitable customers
Help those customers to become "smarter buyers" by understanding your business
Treat long-time customers like new prospects so they won't feel taken for granted
Allocate sufficient time for face-time with customers
Select salespeople who will be appropriate representatives of the company
Determine criteria for determining who should not be hired to sell
Compensate salespeople to avoid internal competition and division
Involve all other employees as an extended sales force
My references to "how to" are deliberate because all of Brodsky and Burlingham's suggestions and recommendations throughout their lively narrative are results-driven. They also explain various "how not to's" so that the reader can avoid unfavorable results. (As noted in the Introduction, "A smart person learns from his or her mistakes. A wise person learns from other people's mistakes.") In this context, I am reminded of what Peter Drucker said in a Harvard Business Review article in 1963: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."
To repeat, this book will be of great value of those preparing to launch a new company or have only recently done so. It will also help an owner/CEO of a small company that is currently struggling to survive, especially given recent developments. But it will also be of substantial value to other executives who are under many of the same pressure to produce more and better (fill in the blank) in less time and at a lower cost, to retain both valued workers and valued customers, and meanwhile to be well-prepared to respond effectively to inevitable changes in the given competitive marketplace. Over a period of several decades, Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham have acquired the "street smarts" needed to cope with these pressures, and share them in this book. It is a brilliant achievement for which I congratulate them. Now it is up to their readers to absorb and digest the material, then apply what has been learned with both passion and determination. The choice is theirs.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best entrepreneurial book I've read yet,
This review is from: The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up (Hardcover)As a serial entrepreneur myself, what impressed me most about Norm Brodsky is his willingness to talk about his failures, which is a rare gift. In my experience most business owners don't have this quality, and attempt to hide or obfuscate their mistakes. Not so with Norm, who attempts to gain insight and learn from them, which is as it should be.
Being somewhat ADD, I have a tendency not to finish books that I find boring, especially those of the business genre. But I finished The Knack in just two days, and am even re-reading it to ensure the information sticks.
In short, this is an excellent book that every current or would-be entrepreneur should read and I highly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best business books I've ever read!,
This review is from: The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up (Hardcover)Having followed Norm Brodsky's articles written every month in Inc. magazine, I certainly knew what to expect when I picked up The Knack. I was not disappointed.
This book is a MUST READ for any and every small business person out there...nothing but common sense fills the pages of this book. I've read it twice from cover to cover and I've purchased this book as a gift for friends who are involved in their own businesses. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful War Stories Distilled into Thought-Provoking Perspectives,
I've been teaching classes about how to start small businesses for many years and have many clients around the world who run small businesses. From these experiences, I've learned that those who want to learn about small business usually fall into one of the following categories:
1. They like the idea of being their own boss but have no idea of what's involved . . . but they would like to learn more.
2. Someone in the family had a successful small business, and they liked what they saw and want to do it for themselves.
3. They do something very well and work for an employer who doesn't treat them well enough. They feel they can strike out on their own, do well, and make more money.
4. The person has fallen in love with a dream of what a small business might be, but they aren't interested in changing anything about the dream . . . including things that doom the dream to fail.
5. They have been successful in a managerial role in a medium-to-large business, have some money, and want to take on a situation where they can improve effectiveness.
Why am I tell you all this? It's to help you understand who should read The Knack. This book will be highly valuable for those in the first category by filling in some of their knowledge gaps due to a lack of experience in running a small business. The book will also help them to realize they should find some experienced business people to learn from.
There's a drawback for this group: This book is a little too advanced for people who have few ideas about what a small business does. Mr. Brodsky has a quite sophisticated sense of the moving parts involved in a small-to-medium-sized business that won't be appreciated by those who don't even know what the tasks are. As a result, a lot of this book's wisdom will blow past its ideal readers. That's why I marked the book at four stars.
The book would have to be firmed up and made more detailed in its conceptual roots to be highly valuable to people in second and third categories. They will know most of the basic lessons. Not much can help those in the fourth category except painful experiences. The last group will fail to grasp how small businesses are different from what they've been doing if they read this book.
I plan to recommend it to my students who have pretty good instincts for small business, but lack the perspective of experience. I'm sure it will speed their learning.
I'm pleased to be able to make that recommendation.
As for content, the authors wisely focus on the key fundamentals: positive cash flow, developing profitable customers and keeping them, keeping track of how you are doing, leading your employees, developing and maintaining discipline, and avoiding mistakes that can be very costly (such as weakening what's working to start something that doesn't work). The book's strength is that it deals with the emotions and habits that underlie success and setbacks. Pay attention and be more deliberate in what you do, and the results will be better.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Bo Burlingham (Paperback - Feb 23 2010)
CDN$ 20.00 CDN$ 14.44