First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Some Pointed Words from Malcolm X (Trying to Better understand issues of Racial Tension)

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death, assassinated, of Martin Luther King, Jr.  This morning, I completed my handout for my synopsis of  Malcolm X:  A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable, which I will present at noon today for the Urban Engagement Book Club, hosted by CitySquare.  Malcolm X was killed, assassinated, on February 21, 1965.

These two black leaders were quite different in a lot of ways.  But, as a white teenager in the 1960s, I am sad to report that I paid little attention to their words or deeds then.  I have been playing catch-up-up for a very long time.

If you want to better understand the racial tension that has never gone fully away, and, in fact, is sadly rearing its head again after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, you might want to carve out some time to read the Marable biography of Malcolm X.  It is a thorough look at this man’s life.  But it might also be worth your time to read his two most famous speeches:  Message to Grassroots, October 10, 1963 and The Ballot or the Bullet, April 3, 1964.

Malcolm X

Malcolm X spoke so very clearly, so very directly, about his feelings and experiences as a black man.  Here are just two excerpts.

From Message to Grassroots:

What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Baptist, and you don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist or Baptist. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk. And you sure don’t catch hell ’cause you’re an American; ’cause if you was an American, you wouldn’t catch no hell. You catch hell ’cause you’re a black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason.

From The Ballot or the Bullet:

Although I’m still a Muslim, I’m not here tonight to discuss my religion. I’m not here to try and change your religion. I’m not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it’s time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you’re a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist. Whether you’re educated or illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the alley, you’re going to catch hell just like I am. We’re all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man. All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man.

Now in speaking like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re anti-white, but it does mean we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn’t want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us.

We all still have so very much learning, and so much work, to do.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , | Leave a comment

The Five Things that Matter Now (Gary Hamel, What Matters Now)

Tomorrow, we begin our 15th year of the First Friday Book Synopsis!

Tomorrow at the April First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present my synopsis of What Matters Now:  How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel,  This is the second book I have presented by Hamel, and the fourth Hamel book that has been featured at our event.

Here’s our Gary Hamel “history”:  In September, 1998, Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of Alliance Advantage: The Art of Creating Value Through Partnering by Yves Doz and Gary Hamel, and in December, 2000, Karl presented his synopsis of Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel.  In January, 2008, I presented my synopsis of The Future of Management by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen.  And now, tomorrow, I will present my synopsis of What Matters Now.

The Wall Street Journal ranks Hamel #1 as “the most influential business thinker.”  I think his insights are valuable.  This book provides Hamel’s answer to this question:  “What Matters Now?” It is an important question, and the title of the book itself is a reminder that what matters in one year or in one era is different from what matters “now.”  The “what matters now” changes with each new “now.”

Here are the five things that he says matter now, (from the book, with a portion of his elaboration):

As trust has waned, the regulatory burden on business has grown. Reversing these trends will require nothing less than a moral renaissance in business.

successful products and strategies are quickly copied. Without relentless innovation, success is fleeting. …there’s not one company in a hundred that has made innovation everyone’s job, every day. In most organizations, innovation still happens “despite the system” rather than because of it. …innovation is the only sustainable strategy for creating long-term value.

Problem is, deep change is almost always crisis-driven; it’s tardy, traumatic and expensive. In most organizations, there are too many things that perpetuate the past and too few that encourage proactive change. The “party of the past” is usually more powerful than the “party of the future.” In a world where industry leaders can become laggards overnight, the only way to sustain success is to reinvent it.

the average workplace is a buzz killer. Petty rules, pedestrian goals, and pyramidal structures drain the emotional vitality out of work. Maybe that didn’t matter in the knowledge economy, but it matters enormously in the creative economy. The problem is not a lack of competence, but a lack of ardor.

Whatever the rhetoric to the contrary, control is the principal preoccupation of most managers and management
What creates value today is the unexpectedly brilliant product, the wonderfully weird media campaign, and the entirely novel customer experience.

Each new Gary Hamel book provides insight, learning, and a clear call for action.  And in our synopses, we do our best to give you enough of the book to help you learn important information, identify and address challenges in your own business arena, and provide some steps you can take, now, toward necessary action.

If you live in the DFW area, come join us tomorrow for the April First Friday Book Synopsis.  (7:00 am).  Click here to reserve your spot.  We have wonderful networking, great food, and the content of two key books, with comprehensive handouts, delivered in a fast paced delivery.  You can eat, learn, engage in  valuable conversations, and leave by 8:05.

(My colleague, Karl Krayer, will be presenting his synopsis of the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.  An important book!)


15minadYou can purchase my synopsis of What Matters Now,  Hamel’s earlier book The Future of Management, and synopses of many other books we have presented, with audio + multi-page comprehensive handouts, at our companion site,

Read Bob Morris’ excellent review of What Matters Now by clicking here.  Yes, you will read again about the “five things that matter.”  These provide the heart of the book.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , | Leave a comment



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