On to the final 5 books in my Top Ten List of Business Books for 2006. (and then, because I can't help it, I'll have a few honorable mentions)
6. When I was offered a free copy of Katya Andresen's book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes, [Jossey-Bass] I hesitated. At the time, I wasn't sure I could take on another book - and successfully read and write about it. I hate making promises I can't keep. But, the overview of the book cinched the deal. I was working on helping promote our Susan B. Anthony House here in Rochester, and this book seemed a perfect solution. Little did I know how true that would be.
This book is better than a week long seminar. Katya covers the bases and then some. I started reading it, expecting to be bored to tears (I mean, I love non-profits but...where's the excitement?) and I was totally engaged from the start. The Introduction begins, "Lost in Sherwood Forest." Hmmm...that's interesting, I thought. Then, the explanation of what that meant really convinced me that Katya was doing more than just echoing so many 'other' expert opinions. As I continued reading, it was more and more clear that she walks the walk, she talks the talk - and if you are a non-profit this book should be THE book you buy this year, and next year, and every year after that. You should buy boxes of this book and make sure everyone on your staff reads it! Have a quiz, afterward. It's that good. Watch this blog for a conversation with Katya very soon. She's one lady I'm keeping my eye on. [kudos to my BBF Toby Bloomberg - and her post on the book, too.]
7. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott. [Berkley Books] This book was recommended by a trusted friend, Derek Vanderlind. I met Derek through the CEO Fellows group to which I belong. I have come to have a high regard for Derek, for his advice and his opinions. He's a man that would understand David Wolfe's description of Firms of Endearment. Derek suggested this book after hearing of my struggle to reach my inner self - maybe the child within, or the woman trying to be a successful business owner, or maybe both. At any rate, I took Derek's advice and bought the book. It's an eye-opener. Here's just a taste, from the preface, "Whether it's coming up with a big idea, transforming a company into a great place to work, improving customer-renewal rates, enhancing cross-boundary collaboration or providing leadership development and the healthier financial performance that goes with it - success occurs one conversation at a time." [italics are mine]
This book is teaching me how to THINK before I speak. It's opening my eyes to how I communicate now - sometimes effectively, most oftenly, not so effectively. I anticipate reading and re-reading this book on a regular basis. Get your copy, mark it up, and make sure to share with your friends and colleagues. Nothing is more important than communication, and sometimes, good communication comes in the form of fierce conversations.
8. The Bob Love Story: If It's Gonna Be, It's Up to Me by Robert Earl Love with Mel Watkins (foreward by Michael Jordan) [BobyLime Enterprises] This isn't a 'business' book, per se. But, it's one of the most inspirational books I've ever held in my hands. I got to hear the great Bob Love speak at last year's American Marketing Association's conference in - Chicago. Since I'm not much of a sports fan, I wasn't impressed with their choice of a luncheon keynote. I mean, who knows who Bob Love is? Well, everybody but me, I found out. Here's the kicker - this man is a giant of a man - not in height, although his is tall, but in stature, in presence, and in intelligence. His presentation - just him talking to us, no fancy powerpoint or fance footwork, or anything that would distract from what he was saying - had every person in the room trapped in the sound of his voice.
This man is a true American icon. No one helped him. No one threw money at him, or rescued him when he tripped and fell. He made mistakes (big ones), he reached the pinnacle of success and was shot down - for a really stupid reason. (you have to read the book to find out). He attained legendary status as a basketball player, then...faded into obscurity - destitute and unemployed. He hit rock-bottom - but, did that stop him? No! He rose to bigger and better fame, and no one deserves more applause than Bob Love, for overcoming the chains of adversity that many of us think are binding us and holding us back, now. For inspiration, this book rates a 10. Read it and get hold of your future. What you'll learn by reading this book will open doors for you. I guarantee it.
9. Seeing David in the Stone by James B. Swartz & Joseph E. Swartz [Leading Books Press] This is a very fast read. It's written in much the same tone and style as the Celestine Prophesy - a fiction book that is meant to be taken more seriously. This particular book says, "Find and Seize Great Opportunities Using 12 Actions Mastered by 70 Highly Successful Leaders." Whew! That's a mouthful even for my eyes! But, the book offers thoughtful intraspection. The 12 Actions aren't new, or especially inspirational, they're just put together in a way that helps the reader qualify them as success tools. I enjoyed the book and think it can be just the right thing to get you moving - if you feel stuck in place. Let's face it, success is a hard task master - and if you try to cut corners, you'll just wind up taking two steps back for every step forward. The authors of this book aim to help you recognize the necessary steps you need to take - in a more linear fashion - in order to accomplish your goals. Of course, that's if your goal is developing a world-class organization. I have to admit that I didn't agree with the final chapter. I don't much like the solution provided. So, up to that point, I was okay. Afterwards, I put the book down and sighed. If only life could be arranged so neatly. Well, maybe you'll buy into it. It's worth a glimpse.
10. The book above is a perfect lead in to this last (and best - except for Firms of Endearment) book of the year. The book is How Executives Fail: 25 Surefire Recipes for Sabatoging Your Career by Lee Thayer. I openly admit that I have a vested interest in it. The author is one of my clients. I am not promoting it because of that - I'm offering it here because it's a book that business leaders more knowledgable and famous than I are already talking about. Click the link above and you can see their testimonials. The book will be released in another week or two. We are in final edits. I mention it here because it approaches the tenents of good leadership in an upsidedown, insideout, kind of way. Lee doesn't mince words. If you ever meet him in person, you'll find yourself outwitted - without even knowing it. But, he's also approachable and friendly and can be kind - when he isn't being tough.
Lee has taught me more in the few times I've been coached by him, via my CEO Fellows group (thanks to Bruce Peters - but more on Bruce another time), than anyone or anything else I've ever done. One of the most important things I learned is that the world is a perverse place to live and conduct work in. And, if you can't match perversity with perversity - you're a goner. How Executives Fail presents a tongue-in-cheek look at how to succeed - or fail with aplomb. The choice is yours. If you ever apsire to creating a world-class organization, if you are eager to prove yourself in 2007, you will have a huge head start by reading Lee's book on how to fail. Because, it's in the failing that we learn to succeed - to recognize our mistakes and fix them; to make the right choices, say the right words, support the right causes. Much the same way David Wolfe tells you to get on board the Firms of Endearment train, Lee says - success does not come to those who have a cause. Success comes to those who are had by their cause. Watch for the announcement of Lee's blog...soon!
Now, on to the honorable mentions...