First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Joel A. Garfinkle: An interview by Bob Morris

Joel A. Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in North America. His valuable insights have been sought after by leaders in companies such as Google, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Gap, Starbucks, Deloitte, Cisco Systems, Oracle, Bank of America, Citibank, and Microsoft. He is the author of seven books and more than 300 articles on leadership, executive presence, getting ahead at work, career transitions, and work fulfillment. His most recent book, Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, was published by John Wiley & Sons (2011).

He is regularly featured in the national media, including ABC News, National Public Radio, New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, USA Today, Newsweek and Fast Company. Sign up to Joel’s weekly report, Fulfillment@Work Newsletter (delivered to more than 10,000 subscribers), and receive the free e-book, 41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now! For more than two decades, Joel has had first-hand experience advising thousands of executives, senior managers, directors, and employees at the world’s leading companies. He draws from this experience to provide coaching programs that serve individuals and organizations throughout the world.

He is also a sought-after speaker who conducts workshops, trainings, and keynote addresses that empower corporate audiences. He has delivered more than 1000 customized presentations that provide fresh insight into common issues that employers and employees face. Learn more about his books, executive coaching services and over 300 FREE articles at

Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. Please click here to read the entire interview.

*     *     *

Morris: Before discussing Getting Ahead, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Garfinkle: My wife, Jueli. We’ve been together for eleven years. In this relationship, she is has always been 100% committed to her own personal growth. As she consistently focuses on her own spiritual development and growth, it has spilled over to me and the relationship we have together.

We use the relationship as a vehicle for our own growth. We both dedicate ourselves to communication and connection at all times. We are willing to work through the difficulties that arise (and they do). We never go around them, instead we go through them.

Together, we both spend time doing spiritual work that helps us develop as human beings so we can be more truthful, honest and clear about who we are in the world and how we want to show up as authentically as possible.

I am honored and very blessed to be in relationship with Jueli. She helps me be a better person, father and husband. She knows my issues, challenges and difficulties extremely well. She uses a soft touch in reminding me when these issues show up and I’m unaware. We are both steadfast in living the examined life.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Garfinkle: I’ve thought a lot about this question. I’ve never had specific mentors who have had huge impact in my professional development. I am extremely driven in my own professional development and work hard to become the best at what I do. My business, coaching practice, speaking and writing are specific areas that I work hard to improve.

I’ve always been dedicated to growing and learning more about who I am. This has had a strong influence in my own professional development. I’m constantly looking for ways to do things at work more efficiently. As my business has continued to grow, it’s forced me to grow with it and learn new ways of doing business. I will always strive for ways to make things work as smoothly as possible so that I can have the right balance. Balance is important to me. I will always prioritize myself, my family and my connection to Jueli. Thus, part of my professional development is learning how to streamline my business as effectively as possible so I can have time for my life.

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

Garfinkle: The turning point in my life came in college. I found psychology an easy subject, as I’ve always was curious about people. Business, accounting, science and other subjects never were as easy for me. Psychology felt right and something “‘clicked”‘ inside of me. That’s when I became clear on what I really wanted to do. The name of the specific profession, coaching, hadn’t been invented yet, but I knew that I wanted to help healthy individuals improve the quality of their lives. The word healthy was a clear distinction. About eight years later, I was reminiscing and realized that what I had been describing in college was the profession now known as “coaching.”

I found my true essence and what I was meant to be doing after eight long years of exploring what my dream job might look like. I felt that I wasn’t in the right field, industry, job or career and was very frustrated. The job environments and the people I worked with didn’t feel right either. I was tired of trudging my way through a series of unenjoyable jobs that didn’t align with who I was as a person. I didn’t necessarily know who I was, but I knew something was wrong.

I knew that I was working for companies that didn’t respect me and treated me poorly. They didn’t allow me and my gifts to come forward and shine. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what my gifts were, but I definitely knew that my environment was suppressing them. I kept getting subtle and not-so-subtle hints that began to create a great deal of frustration and unhappiness

Throughout these years, I began to employ an unconventional, yet simple, method to find my true essence. I said to myself, “I want to enjoy my job. I want to enjoy my life. How can I get there? How can I find work that matches who I am?” The quest to find answers to these questions led me to my life’s work.

I stood by my decision and knew I had to find a way to follow my dreams. I was talking one day to someone about the purpose I had identified in college—to help healthy individuals better their lives. I was amazed when she told me, “That’s called coaching.” Finally there was a label for my dream profession! I joined a three-year coaching program and started my own company. That was 16 years ago.

I took the biggest leap of my life and said NO to just having a job and YES to fulfilling my dream. I left the corporate world to follow my passions and do what I really wanted. I realized that it is truly possible to create work aligns to who I truly am!

Morris: Opinions are also divided, sometimes sharply divided, about 360º feedback. What do you think?

Garfinkle: I had a client who worked at Deloitte. She was successful in her job. Throughout this period of coaching, she had a clear understanding of how she was perceived in the company. She thought others saw her as: Smart, dedicated, cares about her people, well-organized, sees the big picture, tremendous at execution, others respect her skills/abilities, she is one of the best sales people in the entire company and customer love her.

After a few months of working together, we decided to do 360 degree interviews. I interviewed two people below her, two people at the peer level and two people above her. A lot of the feedback was positive in affirming how she thought others saw her in the company. However, all six people did provide a negative perspective of her that even surprised me. They said she was a bully, harsh, blunt, hard-ass, forceful and intimidating. This was the lens they saw her as. This became their reality and truth. She was shocked by the feedback and we did a lot of work from that moment onwards to get others to view her as she saw herself.

As you can see from this example, my client at Deloitte had no idea she was being viewed this way. Her perception was drastically different then what others thought of her. This is why I like 360 degree feedback, especially if I am conducting interviews (and not an assessment) because I can dictate the direction of the interview to gain the key information. The 360 provides important information on how others view you in the company.

*     *     *

Please click here to read the entire interview.

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

Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level

Garfinkle Executive Coaching Website

100+ free articles that provide practical, ‘‘how-to’’ information and insights to help you become an effective leader and boost your career success.


Speaking Services

Monday, April 9, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time

Here is an excerpt from John A. Byrne’s cover article by FORTUNE magazine. Great ideas are hard to come by. Putting them to work is even harder. Byrne invites you to meet the founders who turned concepts into companies and changed the face of business.

*     *     *

When Jeff Bezos came up with the idea for what would become, he went on a stroll in Central Park with his boss at the time to share his epiphany.

Bezos, in 1992, was a senior vice president for the New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He described his dream to create a company that would sell books on the Internet. His boss listened intently before offering a bit of advice: “That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn’t already have a good job.”

Big ideas of the ground-shifting variety are rare — and hard to pull off. But that’s the difference between the dreamer and the doer. It took Bezos all of 48 hours to decide to quit his job and get started. Some 18 years later, he’s still at the helm of, which has redefined the way people buy almost everything, employs 56,200 people, and is valued at more than $80 billion.

Having spent years studying Bezos and others like him as an author, senior writer, and editor at both Business Week and Fast Company, I can tell you that Bezos is one of those rare birds who have made a meaningful mark on our economy and our world. He would certainly be on anyone’s list of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of my generation. Who else should make that cut? After spending the better part of the past year pondering that question for a new book, World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It (Portfolio Penguin), I was asked by FORTUNE who deserves to be on that list — and what we can learn from each of them.

Many are obvious — from the late Steve Jobs, who helped make Apple the hottest and most valuable company on the planet, to Mark Zuckerberg, who will take Facebook public in what is anticipated to be the biggest IPO of all time (at a value of more than $80 billion). But there will be a few surprises too, such as N.R. Narayana Murthy, the visionary founder of Infosys who has built one of the largest companies in India, helping to transform that economy and put it on the world stage.

Another surprise: Not a single woman makes the list of the top 12 — at a time when women have gathered more influence and power in business than ever before. Oprah Winfrey has leveraged her celebrity into a formidable media empire, and the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick proved that you could market products by being socially and environmentally responsible. They clearly warrant honorable mention but have not, in my view, transformed the face of business or society in as profound a way as those singled out here.

Admittedly this list of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs is subjective. I based it largely on social and economic impact; the world-changing vision of a founder who has inspired employees and other entrepreneurs alike; a record of innovation; and the actual performance of their companies over time. These founders created and then nurtured healthy, sustainable organizations that now have a combined market value of more than $1.7 trillion. They directly employ more than 3 million people, ranging from a high of 2.1 million at Wal-Mart to just over 3,000 at Facebook.

Yet those numbers only touch the surface. Each of their companies sits at the nucleus of a thriving ecosystem that has cultivated and nurtured dozens if not hundreds of other enterprises. Small companies have thrived as suppliers, for example, to Whole Foods, which, among other things, buys produce from more than 2,000 local farms. So the power of each of these organizations extends far beyond its own walls.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

John A. Byrne is Chairman & Editor-in-Chief at C-Change Media Inc. John A. Byrne is the chairman and CEO of C-Change Media Inc. Until recently, Byrne was editor-in-chief of and executive editor of BusinessWeek. He holds the distinction of authoring a record 58 cover stories in BusinessWeek magazine and is also the author or co-author of eight business books, including two New York Times‘ bestsellers. Byrne had also been editor-in-chief of Fast Company magazine. He founded C-Change Media, a digital media company, to take advantage of the sea change that is roiling the traditional media business. C stands for content, curation and community, the three common attributes of each C-Change web venture.

Monday, April 9, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Technology We Will Read About Soon – The Online Buzz Last Week

We have provided synopses for many books on technology over the now completed 14 years of the First Friday Book Synopsis.  Clearly, there are many avid readers who embrace technology and can’t wait to see what’s new.

Here’s the next one that we will likely see covered in a book soon.  It is called Project Glass, and it is a pair of Internet-connected glasses under development by Google.

In essence, you wil be able to be online and view sites through a small glass window that rests in the upper right or left corner of your lens.

The Wall Street Journal provided these statistics in an article on April 7-8, 2012, p. C4.  Out of 2,482 social media posts on Facebook and Twitter between April 4-6:

  • 77% were excited
  •   9% were skeptical
  • 12% thought it was too much
  • 2%  cracked jokes

Click here to read the full article and see some of the quotes taken from the respondents.

And, remember – don’t ever say, “what will they think of next?”  As soon as you do, you will be behind the curve.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it really soon.


Monday, April 9, 2012 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Celine Dion to OutKast – Melding the Brand New with the Familiar (insight from Charles Duhigg and Jonah Lehrer)

“People listen to Top 40 because they want to hear their favorite songs or songs that sound like their favorite songs.  When something different comes on, they’re offended.  They don’t want anything unfamiliar.”
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

How do you get someone to want to listen to these guys?

When her music feels so much more familiar?

Here’s a tidbit from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  The issue is how a radio station introduces a new song by an unknown artist.  He describes in detail the attempt to make a big hit out of a song called “Hey Ya!” by OutKast.  (My apology – I don’t know this song.  You can watch the music video of it here).”  The research that music folks do that can practically guarantee when a song will be a hit was clear – this song was going to be a monster hit.  But, when stations would play it, people would switch stations during the song.  Not a good sign!

Here’s what they discovered:  they found out that even a sure-fire monster hit, when it is new, has to be sandwiched between two “familiar” songs, in order to keep people from switching stations.  And they have to follow this practice until listeners decide that this new song now sounded “familiar.”  Fascinating.

So, this is what they did:  they played a Celine Dion song, and then immediately followed with Hey Ya!, and then immediately after, they played another familiar song by another familiar artist.  The key word in all of this is “familiar.”  Interestingly, people were “sick of” Celine Dion, but they would not change the station, because she sounded “familiar.”  From Duhigg:

“There were songs that listeners said they actively disliked, but were sticky nonetheless…  Male listeners said they hated Celine Dion and couldn’t stand her songs.  But whenever a Dion tune came on the radio, they stayed tuned in.  Within the Los Angeles market, stations that regularly played Dion at the end of each hour – when the number of listeners was measured – could reliably boost their audience by as much as 3 percent, a huge figure in the radio world.  Male listeners may have thought they disliked Dion, but when her songs played, they stayed glued.”      

So I was sitting in church yesterday, Easter Sunday, and we were singing the Wesley hymn Christ The Lord is Risen Today.  And, at the conclusion of the service, the choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus.  Both songs were written centuries ago.  Wesley’s hymn was first published in 1739, and it was based on a fourteenth century version of a Latin hymn.  Handel wrote the Messiah in 1741.  So, these are not exactly examples of new, modern sacred music.

It was wonderful – and wonderfully familiar.

I had just finished reading the Duhigg book, and thought about this experience, comparing it to the “Hey Ya!” challenge.  The last thing I want on Easter Sunday is some new, modern, never-heard-before song.  I want the familiar.

So, what do we do with all this?  This may explain why introducing and accepting change is so hard.  People want the familiar.  Even the “familiar” that they no longer “want,” that they are “tired of,” they still want it because it feels “familiar.”

So, if you are proposing a change at your work, asking people to buy in to something they have not ever experienced, look for ways to either make if feel familiar, or, sandwich it in between other actions that are familiar.

No wonder change is so hard…

But, Part 2 – “On the Other Hand”:

But…  we live in an era when change has to be the name of the game.  So, how do we help people become more comfortable with the unfamiliar?

There are places where we do not want the familiar.  If we go to the annual auto show, we want the new and different to be on display.  And we are looking for the “cool” factor, the new and different and unfamiliar – the “I can’t wait to try that” factor.  Same with an electronics show.  We want to see the latest new gadgets and we look for those rare breakthroughs that will change our lives for the better.

So, maybe, in our work environments, we need some “what’s new and different” shows.  In Imagine, Jonah Lehrer describes Google’s CSI (Crazy Search Ideas) events:

“It’s like a middle-school science fair.  You see hundreds of posters from every conceivable field.  The guys doing nanotechnology are talking to the guys making glue.” 

Such events are “defined as” looking for the new – looking for the next, new, new change.  Maybe we need more of these, to get our change muscles the exercise they need, so that we aren’t offended with, and driven away by, the unfamiliar.

Monday, April 9, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , , , , | 2 Comments



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