First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Eric Siegel: An interview by Bob Morris

Siegel, EEric Siegel, PhD, founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World, and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics, makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. In addition to being the author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, he is a former Columbia University professor who used to sing educational songs to his students, and a renowned speaker, educator and leader in the field. He has appeared on Bloomberg TV and Radio, Fox News, BNN (Canada), Israel National Radio, Radio National (Australia), The Street, Newsmax TV, and NPR affiliates. Eric and his book have been featured in BusinessWeek, CBS MoneyWatch, The Financial Times, Forbes, Forrester, Fortune, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and MarketWatch.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Predictive Analytics, a few general questions. Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Siegel: Yes, it was in 1991, my summer between college and Columbia’s doctoral program, when I realized I wanted to pursue machine learning: the ability for computers to learn from experience/examples (aka, data!), which is at the heart of predictive analytics. With this technology, the computer pours through examples to learn how to PREDICT. (A big contribution that summer was touring Vancouver with my old buddy Alex Chaffee, who whispered into my ear some magic words he’d learned at Reed College on the topic.)

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Siegel: Innovative technology doesn’t sell itself, and its sale is dependent more on a gradual social process (or “social experiment?”) than on a perfectly-written speech or white paper, no matter how well put together the pitch is.

Morris: First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Siegel: I’m so rarely asked that question! I like to think my main strength is the ability to explain a technology to any audience (specifically, with the most passion, topics within my very favorite field: predictive analytics). Looking back, I can truly see how so many enthusiastic teachers in technical fields as well as various humanities – from high school on up – contagiously infected me with what it means to effectively 1) understand, 2) find excitement in, and 3) communicate. It’s kind of a particular socialization process.

So, in answering your question, instead of deifying one person, I’ll deify the education system! This includes public schools in Vermont, Brandeis University, and Columbia University (where I was later on the faculty), where I was lucky enough to have too many strong mentors to count (see my book’s acknowledgements for a few of them).

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Siegel: Yes – a consultant’s job is often to make his assistance seem only supportive of the client’s successful execution.

Morris: Next, from Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Siegel: Ah, yes, humility is important. In fact, I’ve been working on my humility and I think I’ve got it down better than anyone I know. (That is meant to be humorous.)

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Siegel: Checks and balances before triggering a project!

Morris: In Tom Davenport’s latest book, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. 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.” What do you think?

Siegel: Beyond again invoking “checks and balances,” I’ll also tie this to predictive analytics specifically: There are too many tactical decisions to manage manually, so it is the collective capacity of DATA that will inform each one, thus tweaking the aggregate effectiveness of so many tactical decisions.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Siegel: Nice point. Change comes of monitoring and managing a gradual social shift. Each such cycle could be a novel.

Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Siegel: Yes, you see the social process, as people are ambivalently shepherded through change — change that they fear so greatly and have build walls of rationalization against.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Eric cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Predictive Analytics link

Predictive Analytics World link

Eric’s Amazon page link

Friday, March 28, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grab Some Buds – Is This Brew Bitter? Check Out Knoedelseder’s Best-Seller

Make no mistake about it.  When I am ready for a beer, I choose a Budweiser.  Regular.   Not Bud Lite, not Michelob, not Michelob Ultra.  I like the “King of Beers.”  Regular Budweiser.

So, I am enjoying the former best-seller, Bitter Brew:  The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder (New York:  Harper Business, 2012).  It is rare, but not Bitter Brew coverwithout precedent, that we will go back and present a former business best-seller at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas that we have passed over previously from the lists.  This one was a best-seller on several top lists.  Even today, it remains at #13, #38, and #49 on three different best-selling business lists.   I will be discussing this with Randy Mayeux, who also presents at the First Friday Book Synopsis, as to whether we should go back and get this one.  It is really worth considering.

The inside cover states that the book is “the engrossing, often scandalous saga of one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful family dynasties in the history of American commerce – a cautionary tale about prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the blessings and dark consequences of success.”

William Knoedelseder pictureWho is William Knoedelseder?  This is the biography that I found on

He is a veteran journalist and best-selling author who honed his investigative and narrative skills during 12 years as a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, where his ground breaking coverage of the entertainment industry produced a long string of exposes. His two-year investigation of payola and other corrupt practices in the record business sparked five federal grand jury investigations across the country, led to the arrest and conviction of a score of organized figures and formed the basis of his first best-selling book, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia (Harper Collins 1993). Stiffed was named Best Non-Fiction work of 1993 by Entertainment Weekly, which called it “the scariest book of the year…and the funniest.”  The two of the principal mob figures depicted in Stiffed–New Jersey crime boss Gaetano “Corky” Vastola and Roulette Records founder Morris Levy–subsequently served as the models for HBO’s Tony Soprano and his music business mentor Herman “Hesh” Rabkin.  Since 2000, Knoedelseder has written three other books. In Eddie’s Name (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) chronicles the brutal murder of a Philadelphia teenager that made national headlines when Knoedelseder, as executive producer of the Knight Ridder news program Inquirer News Tonight, pressed the city to make public the content of 911 tapes recorded the night of the killing, which ultimately revealed a complete breakdown of Philadelphia’s emergency response system; I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy’s Golden Era (Public Affairs/Perseus) recounts Knoedelseder’s time as cub reporter covering the L.A. comedy club scene when David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman were young and undiscovered. It has been optioned for film by actor Jim Carrey.  His next book for Harper Collins, Fins, is about the life and times of Harley Earl, the visionary car designer who helped engineer the phenomenal rise of General Motors.

I found this summary of the book on

The creators of Budweiser and Michelob beers, the Anheuser-Busch company is one of the wealthiest, most colorful and enduring family dynasties in the history of American commerce. In Bitter Brew, critically acclaimed journalist William Knoedelseder tells the riveting, often scandalous saga of the rise and fall of the dysfunctional Busch family—an epic tale of prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the dark consequences of success that spans three centuries, from the open salvos of the Civil War to the present day.

You can read an excellent review of this book, published in The Wall Street Journal by Roger Lowenstein by clicking on this link:  

Lowenstein is the author of The End of Wall Street and Buffett:  The Making of an American Capitalist.

The selection of this book for the First Friday Book Synopsis is not automatic.  There are other considerations as to whether we will go back and get one like this.  I will discuss this more fully with Randy Mayeux.  His call has been very reliable, and predictive of long-term success.  In one of his previous blog posts, he noted that in 2013, he had presented seven best-sellers that are still on the New York Times best-seller list, while I only had one during the same period.  There is no guarantee we will decide to work this one in.  Regardless of what we decide to do, and no matter what you drink, this is quite a saga, and worth a careful read.

Maybe you could pop one while reading it!  Note – that’s not what I did.  I prefer to concentrate on what I am reading, and remember what I read.


Saturday, March 15, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blazing World – A New Take on Deception by Siri Hustvedt

What an amazing concept that Siri Hustvedt exposes in her new best-seller, The Blazing World (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2014).  As described in The Wall Street Journal, “to expose sexism, a female artist asks three men to be fronts for her work.  The stunt goes terribly awry” (p. C8).  The book has only been released one week, and it is rapidly climbing the list of fiction best-sellers on

Siri Hustvedt PhotoWho is Siri Hustvedt?  She is the author of five novels, The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved,and The Summer Without Men.  She also published three collections of essays, A Plea for Eros, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, and Living, Thinking, Looking, in addition to a nonfiction work: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She is the recipient of the 2012 International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities.

I found this summary of the book on

Blazing World coverWith The Blazing World, internationally best­selling author Siri Hustvedt returns to the New York art world in her most masterful and urgent novel since What I Loved. Hustvedt, who has long been celebrated for her “beguiling, lyrical prose” (The Sunday Times Books, London), tells the provocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After years of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: she presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity. 

The three solo shows are successful, but when Burden finally steps forward triumphantly to reveal herself as the artist behind the exhibitions, there are critics who doubt her. The public scandal turns on the final exhibition, initially shown as the work of acclaimed artist Rune, who denies Burden’s role in its creation. What no one doubts, however, is that the two artists were intensely involved with each other. As Burden’s journals reveal, she and Rune found themselves locked in a charged and dangerous game that ended with the man’s bizarre death.

Ingeniously presented as a collection of texts compiled after Burden’s death, The Blazing World unfolds from multiple perspectives. The exuberant Burden speaks—in all her joy and fury—through extracts from her own notebooks, while critics, fans, family members, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of who she was, and where the truth lies.

From one of the most ambitious and interna­tionally renowned writers of her generation, The Blazing World is a polyphonic tour de force. An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle, it explores the deceptive powers of prejudice, money, fame, and desire. Emotionally intense, intellectually rigorous, ironic, and playful, Hustvedt’s new novel is a bold, rich masterpiece, one that will be remembered for years to come.

You can read a full review of this book by Clare McHugh, published in The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2014, p. C8, at this link:    Ms. McHugh is an expert reviewer, currently an editor at Time, Inc.

You won’t see this one at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, because we do not present works of fiction, unless they are business-related.  One example of that we might see is The Circle by Dave Eggers (New York:  Knopf, 2013), as I gave this book to Randy Mayeux for Christmas.  I’m not sure he’s finished it, and it is not on our selection list yet, but we only announce books one month in advance, so we will just wait and see.

Regardless, you might put this one on your escape reading list.  It looks  great!

Saturday, March 15, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Like TED – The New Carmine Gallo Best-Seller for the FFBS

Carmine Gallo pictureTalk Like TED CoverI look forward to some future month at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas for a presentation on a new best-seller, Talk Like TED:  The Nine Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014), written by Carmine Gallo.  The book debuted this week at #6 on The Wall Street Journal best-selling list, and is currently #3, #4, and #7 in three different business best-selling lists.

Who is Carmine Gallo?  This is not his first book!  Carmine also wrote The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, The Apple Experience, which was the first book about the the Apple Store and how other brands can elevate the customer experience, and Fire Them Up, which identifies the seven secrets of the world’s most inspiring leaders.  You can find synopses of some of these books for sale on our site.  Interestingly, Gallo is not associated with TED talks.

Here is a summary of the book that I found on

Ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. The ability to sell yourself and your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams. TED Talks have redefined the elements of a successful presentation and become the gold standard for public speaking. TED—which stands for technology, entertainment, and design—brings together the world’s leading innovators and thinkers. Their online presentations have been viewed more than a billion times. These are the presentations that set the world on fire, and the techniques that top TED speakers use are the same ones that will make any presentation more dynamic, fire up any team, and give anyone the confidence to overcome their fear of public speaking.

Have you never watched a TED talk?  When I teach presentation skills at the University of Dallas in its College of Business MBA program, I require students to watch and critique five presentations from this site.  It’s a goldmine.  You can access the site here:  At Creative Communication Network, we teach a custom presentation skills program based upon intensive individual coaching.  You can be sure that we will be updating the program with some of the techniques from this book, in order to offer our clients the newest possible information to help them be successful.

I do not know which month this will be at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  We only publish our schedule one month ahead.  But, you will have ample notice of the session when we will present this one.  The synopsis of the book will be presented by either Randy Mayeux or myself, depending upon our selections.  However, I do know it will be coming up very soon.  This is already a blockbuster best-seller.

Saturday, March 15, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rita McGrath, Part 1: An interview by Bob Morris

McGrath 3Rita Gunther McGrath, a Professor at Columbia Business School, is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on strategy and innovation with particular emphasis on developing sound strategy in uncertain and volatile environments. Her ideas are widely used by leading organizations throughout the world, who describe her thinking as sometimes provocative, but unfailingly stimulating. She fosters a fresh approach to strategy amongst those with whom she works. Thinkers50 presented Rita with the #1 award for Strategy, the Distinguished Achievement Award, in 2013. She is also in their top ten global list of management thinkers overall. She has also been inducted into the Strategic Management Society “Fellows” in recognition of her impact on the field. She consistently appears in lists of the top professors to follow on Twitter. McGrath is the author of four books; the most recent being the best-selling The End of Competitive Advantage : How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business(Harvard Business Review Press), rated the #1 book of the year by Strategy+Business.

Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Rita. To read all of Part 1, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing a few of your books, here are several general questions. First, to what extent (if any) have your students’ aspirations, issues, and concerns changed in recent years? What do you make of that?

McGrath: In our MBA programs, we’ve seen a big shift away from the heavy emphasis on consulting and finance toward entrepreneurship, social enterprise and management. In our Executive Programs, we’re seeing more concern about new technologies, short-lived advantages and what you might think of as “black swan” events. Digital marketing has been quite a growth area, as has our programs on innovation.

Morris: There has been significant criticism of business schools in recent years, even of – especially of — the most prestigious ones such as Columbia, Harvard, Kellogg, Michigan, and Wharton. In your opinion, what is the single area in which there is the greatest need for improvement in business school education?

McGrath: We need new models for developing and coaching students – so much about the way we work comes from the past. Just as an example, take the structure of academic departments – we’re set up by functions, such as finance, marketing, operations, management, and so on. Companies have learned years ago that operating in silos like that can create significant blind spots. I think we need to re-think what helps learners best come out of our institutions with skills that their employers will value, as well as with better analytical toolkits.

Morris: Given your response to the previous question, here’s a hypothetical question. Assume that you have total control and unlimited resources. How specifically would you respond to that need?

McGrath: It would depend on what kind of school I was running. If I were at a top-brand school like Columbia, I wouldn’t be too concerned that my franchise was going away, but I would probably redesign the MBA experience with the desired outcomes in mind. So we probably would do a lot more with entrepreneurship, design, technology and other elements that future technologists would need, and I’d try to design a really coherent student experience.

If I were at a mid-tier or lower-tier school, the question requires a complete rethink. I have a white paper on this if you are interested.

Morris: What was the original mission of Columbia’s Executive Education program and to what extent (if any) has it since changed? Please explain.

McGrath: I think the original idea was to provide more life-long learning opportunities for business people with more seasoning than our MBA-aged students. That is still in many ways our goal. We once had a tagline “learning that powers performance” and I think we still want to strive to do that. The main things that have changed are the topics and issues executives come to us with. Interestingly, we’re doing a review of our strategy for executive education, so there may be some new twists on the mission which come out of that.

Morris: To what extent (if any) have you changed your approach to classroom instruction?

McGrath: Now that has really changed for me. When I first started teaching in the MBA program, we used a ton of cases, printed our overheads on acetates and projected them with overhead projectors and did a fair amount of lecturing. Today, I use practically no canned Harvard-style cases as they just go out of date too soon. We use different technology in the classroom obviously, and the pedagogy is more discussion and debate oriented. I probably lecture less and discuss more.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to The Entrepreneurial Mindset. To what specifically does its title refer?

McGrath: How to think about innovation in corporations with insights informed by the way habitual entrepreneurs think.

Morris: The mindset you describe seems to be one that any executive should develop, whatever the size and nature or her or his organization, be it a start-up or a Fortune 50 company. Is that a fair assessment?

McGrath: It certainly can’t hurt – finding new opportunities, thinking in a fresh way about your competition, deeply understanding your customers, and planning with the right disciplines for the uncertainty you face are all pretty practical and important topics.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, in it you recommend a process by which to identify, evaluate, and prioritize opportunities, then pursue them with appropriate strategies. Please explain this process.

McGrath: We walk our readers through a series of “lenses” they can use to identify potential opportunities to put in an inventory of opportunities. Then we talk about screening for the best ones, given the constraints you have. We describe how to test assumptions at minimal cost, and how to do ‘discovery driven’ planning in which the goal is to plan while recognizing that you don’t have enough knowledge to do a conventional plan. We also spend a little time on how to enter the market and assess competition. The Entrepreneurial Mindset was cited by famous entrepreneur Steve Blank as one of the foundational ideas behind the lean startup movement popularized by Eric Ries.

Morris: In your opinion, are the challenges of entrepreneurship more difficult, less difficult, or about the same today as they were when you wrote The Entrepreneurial Mindset more than a decade ago? How so?

McGrath: Less difficult. Today, you have access to unbelievable assets and talent that you can use to assemble the operations of your business with very low investment. You can get computing power from Amazon, office space from Regus, staff from, programmers from oDesk, and the list goes on. It’s also true that companies today can operate in a very lean way which also reduces the investment required to innovate. I mean, Whatsapp, with only 55 employees was just valued by Facebook at $19 Billion! That’s with a B – with only 55 people, which is quite amazing.

* * *

To read all of Part 1, please click here.

In Part 2, we will discuss The End of Competitive Advantage.

Rita cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Here’s a link to her website.

Here’s a link to her HBR articles

Here’s a link to her Columbia University faculty page

Here’s a link to a recent video.

Here’s a link to the MarketBusting website.

Here’s a link to the Discovery-Driven Growth website.

Monday, March 10, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 12/9/13)

BOB Banner

I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:


Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation
Nan Russell

True Alignment: Linking Company Culture with Customer Needs for Extraordinary Results
Edgar Papke

Happiness: A New Perspective
James Hadley



Brian Halligan (chief executive of HubSpot) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times



” Why a Successful Transition is a Great Legacy “
Angela Ahrendts

“A novel path to financial success”
Jeremy Olshan
The Wall Street Journal

“Five Initiatives Needed in a Designer-Unfriendly Environment”
Roger Martin
from Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine
co-edited by Martin and Karen Christensen

“Brain Food Nuggets (51-60)”

Roman Krznaric on “How Should We Live?”
Maria Popova
Brain Pickings

“Holiday Greetings from Dorie Clark”

“The 12 cognitive biases that prevent us from being rational”
George Dvorsky

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing With a Slacking Co-Worker”
Kerry Patterson
Talent Management

“Life Lessons for My Younger Self”
Valerie Simpson

“Doug Conant: Why These Are My Favorite Leadership Books”
Doug Conant

“Andrew Sobel on “How to create a great client experience””
Andrew Sobel

“Naked Launch”
Nathan Heller
The New Yorker

“How to Grow a Great Company: 4 Tips on Hiring”
Inc. Small Giants Community and its Center for Values Driven Leadership

“When Ads Look Like Content: FTC Examines Issues Around Sponsored Content”
William Launder
The Wall Street Journal

“Mobilizing your C-suite for big-data analytics”
Brad Brown, David Court, and Paul Willmott
The McKinsey Quarterly

* * *

To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 12/2/13)

BOB Banner

I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:


Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
Jocelyn Glei, Editor

Innovating Analytics: Word of Mouth Index- Use the Next Generation of Net Promoter to Increase Sales and Drive Results
Larry Freed

The Star Factor: Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently–and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All
William Seidman and Richard Grbavac

The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business
Duff McDonald



Jennifer Dulski (president and chief operating officer of in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

Tom Eisenmann, What Can’t Be Taught: The Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field
Taylor Ellis

Niraj Dawar: An interview by Bob Morris

Leading in the 21st century: An interview with HCA CEO Richard Bracken
dam Bryant
The New York Times

Malcolm Gladwell: An interview by Gaby Wood
The Telegraph



“The Brain’s Crowdsourcing Software”
Alison Gopnik
The Wall Street Journal

“My Meetings With Mandela”
Juan Williams
The Wall Street Journal
“The Psychology of Self-Control”
Maria Popova
Brain Pickings

“‘Tis the Season to Focus on the Business Basics”
Angie Hicks

“The ‘secret sauce’ that Jeff Bezos learned about from Jim Collins”
Brad Stone
from The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

“The MOOC Market Takes Off”
Josh Bersin

“Don’t dumb down — brain up!”
Margaret Heffernan
CBS MoneyWatch

“Surprise and Creativity: Notes toward a new economics”
George Gilder
from Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World

“Thinking Mistakes Our Brains Make Every Day and How to Prevent Them”
Belle Beth Cooper
Buffer Networks

“For all the Christmas shoppers out there….”
from Love Actually

“How I Hire: In Search of the Sir Ernest Shackleton Gene”
Peter Gruber

* * *

To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

To subscribe via RSS Reader, please click here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harley-Davidson CEO: Getting Up to Speed

WendellHow do executives stay organized? What are their management strategies? And what do they do for fun? Executive Suite seeks answers to the behind-the-scenes questions. Here is an excerpt from an interview of Keith Wendell, CEO of Harley-Davidson since 2009, conducted by Rachel Feintzeig for To read the complete interview and check out other resources, please click here.

* * *

Feintzeig: You were Harley-Davidson’s first CEO to come from outside the company. Did you face skeptics?

Wendell: I don’t know how to quantify it, but there was a significant amount of concern from our employees and our dealers. “What can this person possibly know?” — that type of thing.

Feintzeig: What were people’s concerns about?

Wendell: First of all, I think there were some misconceptions about my background, thinking that my background had been largely in automotive. [That] really wasn’t true, even though I did have some experience [there]. The automotive industry is a hyper competitive industry [and] there is a different sort of mentality to how the car companies look at the supply base: It’s a more slice and burn kind of mentality. All those things culminated in a concern around “This guy is going to turn us into an auto-like company.”

Feintzeig: How did you earn employees’ and customers’ trust?

Wendell: Really by just listening and engaging them [and] recognizing the long, rich heritage of the company. That’s important to all of our employees and all of our dealers – Harley-Davidson and what it stands for. So using that as sort of a backdrop, [saying] “Guess what? We’re not going change the formula for Coke here and mess it up, but the future’s going to be different than the last 110 years.”

Feintzeig: How did you get up to speed on the company, coming from the outside?

Wendell: I don’t sit in my office and wait for people to come see me. I walk around and talk to people. I walk into a meeting and ask, “Why wasn’t I invited to this meeting?” and sit down and start to participate.

Feintzeig: Did you ride motorcycles before taking this job?

Wendell: When I was younger.

Feintzeig: Now do you ride?

Wendell: Oh yeah.

Feintzeig: How often?

Wendell: My first couple of years [at Harley] I rode a lot. I’ve ridden the Sturgis [South Dakota motorcycle rally] three times. I’ve ridden from Beijing to the Great Wall. I’ve ridden from downtown Tokyo to Mt. Fuji. I’ve ridden in the Hamburg rally. I’ve ridden in the San Tropez rally in France. I would go home at night and just take my bike out in the summer and ride for a half hour, an hour, whatever. But then I had a surgery last year on my neck and lost the use of my right arm for a while.

Feintzeig: As CEO, do you feel pressure to walk the walk — or ride the bike — so to speak?

Wendell: At first I did, sort of. About three months after I was with the company, my wife said to me, “Did they hire you to ride motorcycles or run the company?” Because that’s really a big priority in our company. We call it, “We ride with you.” We ride with our customers. We listen to our customers because we’re out there with them riding with them. We have this program where all of our executive management is required to attend like two rallies a year so that we’re out there with our dealers, with our customers, listening to their feedback.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Rachel Feintzeig covers management trends and chief executives for The Wall Street Journal and WSJ‘s At Work blog. From 2008 to 2013, she wrote about bankruptcy and restructuring, focusing on companies like the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Twinkie-maker Hostess. Now based in New York, she previously reported for Dow Jones from Washington and Philadelphia.

Saturday, October 26, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

George Anders on why great talent “isn’t hard to find if you know how [and where] to look”

AndersAs George Anders explains in the Introduction to his brilliant book, The Rare Find, he spent two and a half years conducting research to determine the answer to this question: “How and where to find great talent?” He focused on expert talent spotters in three broad sets: the public performance worlds (e.g. sports, arts, and entertainment), high stakes aspects of business (especially finance and the information economy), and “heroic professionals” of public service (e.g. teaching, government, and medicine). “It’s easy to see how they operated, but it took a while to understand why. What he learned is shared in this book. For example, with people as with organizations, “the gap between good and great turns out to be huge,” perhaps as much as a 500% difference. The financial implications are vast and substantial.

Of special interest to me is what Anders learned about what he characterizes as “the jagged résumé” (i.e. people whose background to date appears to teeter on the edge between success and failure), “talent that whispers” (i.e. the proverbial “diamonds in the rough”), and “talent that shouts” (i.e. spectacular but brash candidates “that can make or destroy a program”). As I reflect back over NBA and NFL drafts during the past 12-15 years, I can easily recall dozens of examples of players who exemplify one of these three.

Anders spent a great deal of time examining how talent is evaluated in several less publicized organizations. He spoke with hundreds of people who are constantly alert for the talent needed now or soon. However different these expert talent evaluators may be in most respects, there are three basic principles on which all agree:

1. Widen your view of talent: Compromise on experience but never on character, seek out “talent that whispers,” on the fringes of talent ask “What can go right?” and take tiny chances so that you can take more of them.

2. Find inspirations that are hidden in plain sight: Draw out the “hidden truths” of each job, be willing to use your own career as a template, rely on auditions to see how and why people achieve as they do, and master the art of aggressive listening.

3. Simplify your search for talent: Be alert to other invisible virtues, insist on the right talent (i.e. don’t lose track of what is needed), challenge your best candidates to push themselves even harder, and “become a citadel of achievement” (i.e. embrace extraordinary effort as a way of life).

By nature, greatness creates a legacy that endures long after specific achievements have occurred. As George Anders makes crystal clear throughout his lively as well as informative narrative, “People with great reputations for attracting and developing talent regard the search for brilliance as their calling. They see themselves as discoverers, protectors, and builders of an entire discipline.” Yes, they possess skills and capacities (especially enlightened intuition) that enable them to spot exceptional talent – albeit under-developed talent — before everyone else does. The “rare find” is their objective as well as evidence of their own exceptional talent but they do not ignore or underestimate the significance of the word “rare.”

I highly recommend The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else, published by Portfolio/Penguin Group (2011)

George Anders is a New York Times-bestselling author and a journalist with three decades of experience writing for national publications. He started his career at The Wall Street Journal, where he became a top feature writer specializing in in-depth profiles. He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for national reporting. He also has served as West Coast bureau chief for Fast Company magazine and as a founding member of the Bloomberg View board of editors. His work has appeared in leading publications worldwide, including The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Guardian and the Harvard Business Review. In January 2012, he joined Forbes as a contributing writer

Friday, October 25, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 10/7/13)

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I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:


Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works
Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett

The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools
Liz Wiseman, Lois Allen, and Elise Porter

The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work
Scott Berkun

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
Tom Rath

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell

Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration
Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft

The Fall of the Alphas: The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence—and Lead
Dana Ardi

The Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan for Life
Allison Rimm



Gary Klein: An interview by Bob Morris

Michael Gould (chief executive of Bloomingdale’s) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

Nicole Lipkin: An interview by Bob Morris



“What’s New in Innovation Education? Jazz, for One Thing”
Melissa Korn
The Wall Street Journal

“Urban world: The shifting global business landscape”
Richard Dobbs, Jaana Remes, Sven Smit, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, and Yaw Agyenim-Boateng
McKinsey & Company

“George Saunders’ moving commencement speech at Syracuse University goes viral”
The College of Arts and Sciences
Syracuse University

“11 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake”
Gijs van Wulfen
from The Innovation Expedition: A Visual Toolkit to Start Innovation

“It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad business world….”

“What would your life have been like in 1909?”
Sarah N

“The characteristics of design thinking”
Charles Owen
Design Research Quarterly

“How Caterpillar Transforms People Into Butterflies”
Deanna Hartley
Talent Management

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To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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