First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

What good are newspapers?

Here’s how to keep all that political ‘news’ in perspective:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The New York Times.  They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could find the time — and if they didn’t have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

8. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.

9. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is read by people who want only the score of the Cardinals game. They drink Budweiser, Budweiser, and wait a minute — what was the question?

10. The  San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that  they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. The Seattle Times is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , | 3 Comments

How to help people grapple and grow

Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.

As Edward M. Hallowell M.D. explains in his most recent book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, published by Harvard Business Review Press (2011), “Many people need help in getting rid of the obstacles in their way. In the workplace, this is the challenge that managers face: to help people overcome these obstacles and enter into [what Hallowell characterizes as ‘The Cycle of Excellence’]. While I have made many suggestions on how to do this, my concluding suggestion is this: do it your way. Ultimately, neither I nor anyone else can tell you what to do more skillfully than you can tell yourself.”

Hallowell does suggest ten steps that supervisors can take to help their people grapple with the demands of the job and achieve consistent success:

1. Before you ask someone to work harder, ask these questions: “Is she operating at the intersection of what she likes, what she’s good at, and what adds value to the organization?”;  “Does she feel safe at work, comfortable enough to be candid and open, connected enough with you and others to look forward to coming to work each day?”; and “Is she imaginatively engaged with her work? Is she able to feel control and ownership of what she’s doing?”

2. Always be on the lookout for frustration or lack of progress in a person’s performance.
3. Encourage grit, and model it.
4. Try not to use fear as a masnagement tool.
5. Teach people how to cultivate C-state (i.e. cool, calm, confident, concentrated, curious, creative, cooperative, careful) and avoid F-state (i.e. fearful, frantic, forgetful, frustrated).
6. Cultivate a C-state by emphasizing the first three steps of the Cycle of Excellence (i.e. select the right people to do the right work and connect everyone with what they do and why they do it).
7. As a manager, regularly ask your people about how they are using their time at work within an environment of playful engagement.
8. Try to keep all your people working at the intersection of three spheres: what they’re good at, what they like, and whatever adds value to the organization.
9. Allow people to be themselves rather than conform to some corporate stereotype.
10. As a manager, it can often help to get a second opinion…or a third.

“Whatever you do, your goal as a manager should be to minimize feelings of alienation and falseness within your organization, while increasing feelings of openness and honesty. You want to make sure people feel permission to be real.”

*     *     *

Edward M. Hallowell, MD, a psychiatrist, served as an instructor at Harvard Medical School for twenty years and is director of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Sudbury, Massachusetts, and is the author of two of the most popular  Harvard Business Review articles published thus far as well as 18 books.

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atlas Mugged: The 12 Sleazy Reasons CEOs Really Like Ayn Rand

Jim Edwards

Here is an excerpt from a lively article written by Jim Edwards for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network (February 14, 2011). To read the complete article, check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *
The new movie trailer for Atlas Shrugged is out and Ayn Rand fans — who over-index within the ranks of management — will be drooling over it. Yes, it looks like the film will be word-for-word faithful to Rand’s book. Yes, it will be long — the movie is apparently being released in three parts.

And yes, Dagny Taggart (played by Taylor Schilling, at left) looks really hot as she runs a railroad against the odds in a series of tight-fitting dresses.

Taylor Schilling

To see the film’s trailer, please click here.

There are plenty of honchos in the advertising business who are Ayn Rand fans, of course. Mattel svp/worldwide entertainment and business development Steve Ross and former Publicis & Hal Riney president Kirk Souder are two of them. Last year, 20 ad agencies in Belgium went on a “pitch strike,” the kind of Randian withdrawal of talent that forms the basis of Atlas Shrugged.

They say they are drawn to Rand’s central ethos, which favors laissez faire capitalism, limited government, and the notion that selfishly pursuing wealth is, ultimately, a noble act because of the wealth it generates for others. But if you’ve ever read either of Rand’s two big novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, you’ll know that there are some rather less honorable reasons why CEOs love Rand. Her books may play up libertarian zeal, but they also supply philosophical cover for some of the sleazier sides of business life:

[Here are seven of Edwards' 12 “sleezy” reasons. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. There’s nothing wrong with forgetting your wedding anniversary. At the beginning of Atlas, steel magnate Hank Rearden is asked by his wife to attend a party in three months’ time. He’s really busy and important — so he tries to wriggle out of it, until Lillian reminds him that it’s their 10th wedding anniversary. When you run your own company, spouses come second.

2. Families are filled with mooches. One of the problems with being the most successful member of your family — as Rearden is — is that brothers and mothers and others keep asking you for donations to their various charities. Leeches, all.

3. Inheriting a railroad is just a normal part of American life. The central conceit of Atlas is that Dagny Taggart gets to run the Taggart Transcontinental railroad because she’s an amazing talent. It’s nothing to do with the fact that her father died and willed the company to her and her siblings. For Randians, hard work gets you to the top, not nepotism, no matter how much nepotism appears to be on display.

4. Action = meetings. Although Atlas features both a train crash and a plane crash, most of the “action” consists of a seemingly endless series of meetings about the future of the Taggart company. Meetings with suppliers. Meetings with government bureaucrats. Meetings with competitors. If, like most CEOs, your entire productive worth is measured by what you get out of meetings, then this is drama indeed.

5. Your childhood friends are some of the richest people in the world. Dagny Taggart’s childhood crush and adulthood old flame is Francisco D’Anconia, heir to the d’Anconia copper fortune. Aren’t your neighbors just like that? Just because you were born on third base doesn’t mean you didn’t hit a triple!

6. Sex with your wife is undignified so it’s OK to cheat on her. Although Lillian Rearden is apparently beautiful, demure, polite, submissive and loves Hank very much, he grew bored of her almost as soon as they were married and now

Ayn Rand

can’t stand to be touched by her. Marriage is “undignified,” a “degradation,” and “torture,” Rand writes, and distracts men from business. But Rearden “never entered a whorehouse,” Rand writes, as if he should receive a medal for it. That’s why Dagny and Hank go at it like rabbits in Atlas, and why this is presented as a great love and not a tawdry affair.

7. A magic pirate will help you avoid paying taxes. In Atlas, America is haunted by the pirate Ragnar Danneskjold, who steals from freight ships. Later in the book, Danneskjold presents Rearden with a gold bar representing all the taxes the government has “stolen” from him over the years. Interestingly, real life CEOs often employ a series of offshore devices to avoid taxes both at the corporate and personal level.

*     *     *

But perhaps the oddest thing about Atlas, the movie and the book, is the business Dagny and Hank are in: Railroads and bridges — the provision of public transport and public infrastructure. If only today’s libertarians within the C-suite were as enthusiastic about those activities as Rand was, it might be easier to take them a little more seriously.

*     *     *

Jim Edwards, a former managing editor of Adweek, has covered drug marketing at Brandweek for four years and is a former Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University’s business and journalism schools.

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stephen J. Bistritz : An interview by Bob Morris

Steve Bistritz

Steve Bistritz has more than 40 years of high-tech sales, sales management, and training management experience. He is a published author and lecturer in the field of sales, sales management and selling to executives who spent more than 27 years with IBM in sales and training-related positions. He then worked for a sales training company where he led the development of sales training programs that were delivered to tens of thousands of salespeople worldwide. He holds a doctorate in human resource development from Vanderbilt University, awarded in 1995, and is currently president of his own sales training and consulting firm, SellXL.com based in Atlanta. Bistritz is also the co-author with Nicholas A.C. Read of Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top, published by McGraw-Hill (2010).

Morris: Before discussing Selling to the C-Suite, a few general questions. First, what are the most common misconceptions about what selling is…and isn’t?

Bistritz: Some have the impression that salespeople are very aggressive and solely focused on commissions they can potentially receive from a sale.  Unfortunately, they get that perspective from stereotypical used car salespeople or other such images they’ve seen in the movies or on television.  On the contrary, most professional salespeople are very capable and trustworthy individuals.

Morris: Other than family members, who has had the greatest influence on your personal development? How so?

Bistritz: Buck Rogers was a senior IBM executive who once said that “if you lost your job it was significant, if you lost your health it was catastrophic, but if you lost your integrity – you lost everything.”  I always remembered those words and have tried to always maintain my integrity in everything I do!

Morris: Professional development?

Bistritz: Alston Gardner, CEO of OnTarget taught me so many things – including how to take excellence to the next level and how to not only be responsive to clients on occasion, but to focus on being continually responsive to them and to always perform each task with a focus on quality!

Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven valuable when making career choices?

Bistritz: My doctorate in human resource development (adult learning) was a commitment that I would be focused on training development and more specifically, sales training development.  I say that because I obtained that degree after more than 25 years in professional selling!  At that point in my life I had basically made my career choice.

Morris: Although you and Read offer a wealth of valuable advice to external sales people who now sell (or attempt to sell) to senior-level executives, I think most of the same advice can be of substantial value to middle managers who need to strengthen relationships with C-level executives in their own organization. Is that a fair assessment?

Bistritz: While that was not the focus of the book, people have told me that it has, in fact, helped them do a better job of strengthening relationships internally – especially with identifying the “relevant” executives in their own firms.  For example, when I reviewed the concepts of the relevant executive with one of my sponsors in a client organization, his reply to me was: ‘Wow, now I see why one of our executives has obtained her current position – it’s all about understanding the indicators of influence that you described in your book’.

Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about C-level executives? Which of these seems to create the most problems for those who now sell (or attempt to sell) to the C-Suite?

Bistritz: One of the most common misconceptions about them is that they are intimidating and therefore, salespeople should have a fear of calling on them.  In fact, nothing is further from the truth.  Most of the C-level executives I have known are very gracious people and calling on them is typically an amazing experience.  I have met some very cordial executives over the years who have been wonderful to work with.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Steve Bistritz cordially invites you to check out these websites:

http://www.sellxl.com/

http://www.sellingtothec-suite.com/

http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevebistritz

http://www.facebook.com/stevebistritz#!/pages/SellXL-Selling-to-the-C-Suite/273776846196

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Business Book for Valentine’s Day – Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders

Just remember the world is not a playground but a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday but an education. One eternal lesson for us all: to teach us how better we should love.
Barbara Jordan

————-

Here’s a business book worth reading/remembering on Valentine’s Day: Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends by Tim Sanders.  Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis way back in August, 2002 (before we recorded our presentations, so, unfortunately, this one is not up on our companion web site).

Here’s Sanders’ advice, from the book:

“Be a lovecat.  And that means, Offer your wisdom freely.  Give away your address book to everyone who wants it.  And always be human.
The three necessary steps to getting there (to being a lovecat): sharing your knowledge, sharing your network, sharing your compassion.
Being a lovecat is exactly what all of us must do if we want to succeed in the twenty-first century.”

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , | 2 Comments

Is The Internet Making Us Stupid? – Maybe We’re Just Not All That Bright To Begin With!

We’re getting our wisdom in shorter and shorter bites/bytes these days.  Everywhere we look, we want the short read, not the long read.  And it is the long read that makes us stop and think and ponder and maybe make more substantial change, and progress.

But there is so much to read!

Well, here is a long-read to set aside for a slightly longer chunk of time this week.  It is THE INFORMATION: How the Internet gets inside us by Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker.  Here are some excerpts:

Our trouble is not the over-all absence of smartness but the intractable power of pure stupidity, and no machine, or mind, seems extended enough to cure that.

But if reading a lot of novels gave you exceptional empathy university English departments should be filled with the most compassionate and generous-minded of souls, and, so far, they are not.

In the period when many of the big, classic books that we no longer have time to read were being written, the general complaint was that there wasn’t enough time to read big, classic books.

Yet everything that is said about the Internet’s destruction of “interiority” was said for decades about television, and just as loudly.

Thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them. Our contraptions may shape our consciousness, but it is our consciousness that makes our credos, and we mostly live by those.

In the article, Gopnik says that all of the books that argue (he refers to a series of books) that the internet is ruining our ability to think and function are repeating old arguments that were made against the printing press, and television.

I commend the article – it will help you think about how we think, and ponder, and reflect…

 

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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