For most of us, weekends provide an opportunity to take a rest from thinking about weekday concerns and consider less urgent – but perhaps much more important – issues.
“New problems demand new principles. Put bluntly, there’s simply no way to build tomorrow’s essential organizational capabilities – resilience, innovation, and employee engagement – atop the scaffolding of 20th century principles….”
Then in The Future of Management, co-authored with Bill Breen and published by Harvard Business Review Press (September 10, 2007), Gary Hamel goes on to observe, “In an age of wrenching change and hyper-competition, the most valuable human capabilities are precisely those that are least manageable.”
What major changes will you make to build “tomorrow’s essential organizational capabilities” for your company?
What changes will Karl Krayer and Randy Mayeux make to strengthen FFBS?
I have no idea.
But I do know that I must change my thinking about what I do and how I do it. That is the focus of this weekend.
- Helping people stay well by helping them take steps to prevent cancer or detect it early, when it’s most treatable
- Helping people get wellby being in their corner around the clock to guide them through every step of their cancer experience
- Finding curesby funding groundbreaking research that helps us understand cancer’s causes, determine how best to prevent it and discover new ways to cure it
- Fighting back by working with lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and rally communities worldwide to join the fight
Creative Communication Network is pleased to announce three campaigns in 2012 benefiting charitable causes that we wish to support. Please join with us in our efforts.
For one month in each quarter, CCN will donate and match the proceeds from the First Friday Book Synopsis and contribute those funds directly to each of these charities. We will solicit additional contributions from clients and attendees who wish to help us with donations.
April-June: We will support the Relay for Life program in North Texas. This program is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and CCN President Karl J. Krayer has walked in the relay for several years. Last year, with the outstanding support of CCN clients and attendees of the First Friday Book Synopsis, he raised the largest individual contribution in the region.
July-September: We will support the Fisher House, which provides temporary housing for military families. The Dallas location is at the VA Hospital, and last year, we donated just over $500 from a special synopsis delivered by Randy Mayeux. Fisher House is rated with 4 stars, the highest rating given by Charity Navigator.
October-December: We will support CitySquare, formerly Central Dallas Ministries, where Randy Mayeux presents regular urban engagement book synopses. Last year, this organization sponsored one of our synopses. Its’ mission and purpose is to address the root cause of poverty in our community.
Look for more information as we get closer to these dates.
We appreciate your support of our charitable endeavors in 2012.
This is prompted by a sad, disturbing piece…
My colleague Karl Krayer has a terrific workshop on writing skills. Companies hire him to teach their employees how to write clear, understandable emails and memos and reports. (Have you ever had to read, and re-read, and re-read again, an unclear e-mail?)
Sadly, many of them need a lot of help.
Why? The short answer is this: good writing comes from lots and lots of reading, spread out over the course of a human life, starting early, and going on as long as possible. And most people simply have not put in the time to read in order to learn to write clearly.
(I know a man, a wonderful man now in the twilight of his years, who told me in tears that he simply can no longer see the pages. He is a lifelong reader, and his failing eyesight is his single greatest loss – because of that love of reading).
There is a sad, disturbing piece by an anonymous adjunct professor at the community college level. I have read the essay, from the June, 2008 Atlantic: In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: The idea that a university education is for everyone is a destructive myth. An instructor at a “college of last resort” explains why by PROFESSOR X. And I have read the sample of his book.
Here are a couple of key excerpts in his article:
In each of my courses, we discuss thesis statements and topic sentences, the need for precision in vocabulary, why economy of language is desirable, what constitutes a compelling subject.
My students don’t read much, as a rule, and though I think of them monolithically, they don’t really share a culture. To Kill a Mockingbird? Nope. (And I thought everyone had read that!) Animal Farm? No. If they have read it, they don’t remember it.
Reading simply teaches so much. Not only does it teach what is found in the content of the writing, but it also teaches how to put thoughts into an understandable order, how to get a message across, how to communicate what is important. There is no short cut. Thesis and topic statements, precision in vocabulary, economy of language, compelling subjects – these are modeled, inhaled, and then, with work, learned.
If you need to write better (if your employees need to write better) hire Karl Krayer to help you.
But – you might want to start by reading more. A lot more.
(You can contact Karl Krayer, my colleague at the Frist Friday Book Synopsis, on this blog, and in many other ways, through his web site for Creative Communication Network).
As business leaders, we’re voracious seekers of business improvement ideas in the form of conferences, books, blogs, and training. We want our performance to be better, and we know it should be better.
Gary Harpst, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem that Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier
Of course I cannot do without a single one of these possessions, including more or less every book I have owned since I was seven, starting with Huckleberry Finn. Other books I can’t throw away because–well, they’re books, and you can’t throw away a book, can you?
Roger Ebert (see this blog post)
That is something of a magic number. There is a 3,000 hits club in baseball, with only 27 players in all of MLB history to reach that milestone. (Here’s an amazing fact – not one New York Yankees player is on the list. Hard to believe! Derek Jeter has over 2800 hits, and still active).
And now, 3,000 is the number for this blog. This morning, I am posting this, article/post #3,000, on the Frist Friday Book Synopsis blog. Not bad considering how long we have been at this.
Though Karl Krayer and I posted a few entries (literally, a few—not more than two in any one month for the first 15 months of this blog), in April, 2009, everything changed.
First, I decided I really liked blogging. So I started posting far more often than at first.
But then, the real change came when we expanded our “blogging team.” We asked some others to join our efforts. Karl and I continued to write; Cheryl wrote a few posts. But the writer with the most at-bats (to continue the analogy) is Bob Morris.
As I stated in our most recent e-mail to our First Friday Book Synopsis e-mail list:
Bob Morris posts multiple posts every day. Interviews with authors; book reviews; nuggets from a wide array of business sources. This is truly a place to keep learning. It is worth reading, every day, with valuable, useful content.
And so, as the months progressed, the blog took on its current personality. Bob is the king of content. He provides, quite literally, a business ideas, business trends, business questions education. In case you can’t tell, I genuinely admire him, and learn much from him and his writing.
I think I provide something like business devotional reading – kind of business sermons. (I spent 2 decades in full time ministry/preaching).
But we are all deeply committed to lifelong learning. It’s not that we love books (though we do) – it is that we believe in the value of, and the energizing power of, learning – true lifelong learning.
So, yes, this is a blog about business books, and many business subjects/issues. But it is not quite a blog about business books. It is much more a blog about learning; a blog providing a place to help you learn; a blog devoted to lifelong learning. And our commitment to learning flows from our experience with books — we read, therefore we learn.
And, a very special thank you to you, our readers. Yes, your numbers have grown, and continue to grow. How big is our readership? I have not figured out how we compare to others. But we have grown from less than a handful of readers to nearly 600 page views every day – and that number increases month after month.
Bookmark us; spread the word about this blog. Use those buttons at the end of each of these articles: tweet our articles, put them on your Facebook page – help us tell others.
We simply want to help each other learn – it’s that simple.
This blog is a part of the overall First Friday Book Synopsis community. It all starts with our monthly learning event, at which Karl Krayer and I each present a synopsis of a useful, valuable business book. We have met every month since April, 1998. Take a look (thanks to Anastasia Lankford for the photos):
I’m sure you have read the statistics. Most blogs are born with hope and die from inaction. People who start out wanting to blog/intending to blog, simply quit.
When we first started our blog, Karl Krayer and I were the only two on the team. I came up with the idea to expand our blogging team, and invited Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith, and Bob Morris, to blog along with us.
Over the weekend, Bob Morris posted our 2,000th blog post. So – our blog definitely did not die from inaction. We have steadily increased our blog post total.
Our first month for our blogging team was April, 2009. To put it in perspective, in all of March, 2009, we had one blog post. One. Now, we are hitting four to six to eight posts a day.
Here’s what happened. Though we absolutely appreciate and gain much from the blog posts of Karl Krayer, and Cheryl and Sara, for Bob and me, it has been quite a ride.
We always try to offer genuine and practical wisdom, counsel, and help to those who want to succeed, especially in their business lives.
I now average slightly more than one post a day (when I am on a roll, I can churn out two to four in a day). I have started thinking, time and again, “I’ve got to blog about that.” And I have so much more I want to say – so much more to write about. To put it simply, I like to blog.
But Bob Morris is the education factory. He writes multiple posts a day. And they are all valuable. If you were to read Bob Morris’ blog posts, all of them, you would know more about the wisdom found in business (and other) books, the key content of the best offerings… If you want to keep up, and keep learning, Bob Morris is your resource! It is amazing what this one man’s output can teach us all!
Karl Krayer, the Head of Creative Communication Network, made all of this possible. And our monthly event, the First Friday Book Synopsis (now in our 13th year), takes a little deeper look into two books every month.
And I am deeply grateful for the insights shared by Karl, Cheryl & Sara on this blog.
But, today, I just wanted to share our progress. We’ve gone from a handful of readers in the months before we expanded our blogging team, to our current readership with nearly 400 page views a day. And that number is going up practically every month.
To you, our readers, I am especially grateful. Please spread the word. (You can follow me on twitter here, and find links to most new blog posts on our blog – along with a few other items).
Let me take a moment for a “commercial.” This blog is a place to learn information, a place to be challenged, a place to think about ideas for effective business ideas and strategies. But occasionally, I would like to share a little about what we do.
Karl Krayer and I have spoken monthly at the First Friday Book Synopsis for over 12 years. We are book readers, thinkers, consultants. We also offer training in a number of areas: writing skills, presentation skills, leadership, time and energy management, among others. (Read our bios here).
In addition, we provide book synopsis/book briefing presentations to companies and organizations. You can choose from any of the books we have presented, or we can custom prepare any book for your organization.
We have recently upgraded our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. We have been “behind,” but we are catching up with the synopses of many of the books we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis. For example, we have just uploaded our presentations of these books:
The New Experts
The Post American World
Others are on the way soon. And from this point forward, we should have the two books from the most recent First Friday Book Synopsis within a couple of weeks after each event.
Note: it is important to read the faq’s before you make your first purchase. These address many of your questions (read the faq’s here). Each presentation comes with the handout plus the audio of our presentation. The handout is intended to be used with the audio. The vast majority of the recordings are from our presentations at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but not all.
Some people purchase these, and listen on their own (in their car; in their iPod/MP3 while they exercise). Others listen, following along with the handout. (This is probably the way to get the most out of each presentations).
And we have some who play the audio for a group, then lead a discussion of the implications and applications. Great idea!
You can purchase at two price points: $9.99 per synopsis, or a yearly subscription, with full access to all of the archives plus the 24 new presentations a year. A bargain!
Browse titles with the catalog, and make individual synopsis purchases, here.
Sign up for the annual subscription, get instant and full access to all the presentations already up on the web site, and access all new presentations for the next 12 months, here.
I hope you will give our services a try. Either bring us into your company or organization, or purchase our book synopsis presentations through our web site. These will provide valuable content and useful help as you build your future.
Note: Karl Krayer and I work together in Creative Communication Network. In addition, we have blogging team members who work independently..
Our blogging team partner, Bob Morris, is available as a consultant. He is an invaluable resource for an array of business issues and problems. He is also a master interviewer (just browse through his interviews!), and can provide custom interviews to fit the needs of your company or organization. You can contact Bob directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And our other blogging team partners, Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith of C&S Knowledge Company provide valuable services. Visit their web site here, where you can also find their contact information.
Effective business communication (spoken and/or written) really is simple. Not necessarily easy. Just simple. As in, keep it simple, direct, to the point.
My colleague Karl Krayer leads a terrific writing skills training session for people who have difficulty writing clear e-mails. And, sad to say, this is a universal problem. For this training, Karl developed the PACE format:
A – (Action)
C – (Content)
E – (Evidence)
Get to the POINT;
What is the expected/needed ACTION;
What is the CONTENT that elaborates on the point and the needed action;
What is the EVIDENCE that backs up the need for the Point and the needed Action.
It is a simple approach. It puts the intended message of an e-mail right at the beginning of the e-mail, which is about all the “focus” many readers actually give. And, it works!
Well, this weekend, as our son and his wife visited (and our one and only grandchild, a wonderful little girl – I tend to forget how one baby can leave four grown adults so exhausted at the end of the day!), I stole a look at my daughter-in-law’s book Better Legal Writing: 15 Topics for Advanced Legal Writers, by her professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Wayne Schiess. She especially wanted me to see the sections on rhetorical strategies and persuasion. Those sections were good, and I enjoyed them both.
But it was this section that jumped out at me: Better email: E-writing like a pro. This chapter had some great advice, like: Think. Pause. Think again. Send. This is a reminder that what you first write may not always be exactly what you intend to, or should, actually send. Really good advice!
But I especially appreciated this, and it affirms what Karl has been teaching for so long:
Put the question or point up front. If you ask the question up front, you’re more likely to get an answer… Sure, the recipient can scroll down and reread what she asked you, but you make things clearer and easier by restating the question up front.
If you’re not asking a question but instead making a point, use the first sentences of the email message to summarize your point… You’ll get better results if you summarize the point first and give the background or support later.
Professor Scheiss may use slightly different terminology, but this sounds like a solid affirmation of Karl’s PACE format. And, needless to say, I agree.
And Professior Scheiss has the clearest counsel for us all with this phrase: make things clearer and easier.