Archive for December, 2009

The Vanishing of a Species. Peter Gretener

The Vanishing of a Species. Peter Gretener. 2009. ISBN 9781897093825.  A book many years in the writing , it was only discovered amongst the authors papers after he passed away in 2008.  The author, a seasoned PhD at the U of A in Geology has given “man’s predicament” some serious thought.  His editor commented that it was published without much editing so as to preserve the authors intent. This makes it a dense read, yet it still moves along at quite a pace. Several  takeaways

  1. The clear examples that show we can not ever  expect to bring third
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    world countries  up even to second world standards without worldly bankruptcy, using present  methods.

  2. Our environmental problems are interdisciplinary. This requires interdisciplinary cooperation by academics (who along with the clergy and politicians have been “useless” so far.)
  3. The structure of silos of effort at universities and the “need” for man to serve his own ego and personality, run at odds to the cooperative efforts needed for interdisciplinary work to succeed.. We are born alone and die alone.
  4. Man is a very canny toolmaker, this the “technical” sciences have been brilliant successes, while the social sciences have not lived up to their potential.
  5. I think I will read C.P. Snow again.

Shoptimism. Why the American consumer will keep on buying no matter what. Lee Eisennerg.

Front CoverShoptimism. Why the American consumer will keep on buying no matter what.  Lee Eisenberg.2009. ISBN 9780743296250.  This the author of the Number.  This is an entertaining tour of America’s love/hate affair with shopping,something that remains a true national pastime. Eisenberg chronicles the dynamics of selling and buying from almost every angle. Neither a cheerleader for consumption nor an anti-consumerist scold, he explores  the vast machinery aimed at inducing us to purchase everything from hair mousse to a little black dress. He leads us, with understated humor, into the broad universe of marketing, retailing, advertising, and consumer and scientific research–an arsenal of powerful forces that combine to form what he calls “The Sell Side.”

Through the rest of the book, Eisenberg leads us through the “Buy Side” — a journey directly into our own hearts and minds, asking among other questions: What are we really looking for when we buy? Why are we alternately excited, guilt-ridden, satisfied, disappointed, and recklessly impulsive? What are our biases, need for status, impulses to self-express, that lead us individually to buy what we buy?

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This book is fun, serious, well written and pokes some serious holes into some of the other books I have reviewed.  It is a good diift for your children/young adults as well as yourself as we are all in there. I really liked it. Find out if you are a classic buyer or a romantic buyer? What is a Great Buy? Lots there for the retailer to learn from as well.

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Recent management books Dec 2009.

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Why Teams Win. 9 keys to success in business, sport, and beyond. Dr Saul L. Miller. 2009. ISBN 9780470160435. At some time, I used to notice the large numbers of ex professional athletes I would meet in large multi-national sales forces.  I found their forces more organized, driven andconsistently our performed their competitors. Since then I have   compiled a sports coaching library which has been very helpful. This book is a great addition to my library.

Dr Miller lists the following nine qualities of winning teams:

  1. A meaningful goal
  2. Talent
  3. leadership
  4. Strategy
  5. Commitment
  6. Feedback
  7. Confidence
  8. Chemistry
  9. Identity

He uses great examples from business, sport and life to reinforce the message. As well you will appreciate his easy to read organized style. See

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Awesomely simple. Essential business strategies for turning ideas into action. John Spence. 2009. ISBN 9780470494516.  Spence reveals the six key strategies that create a foundation for achieving business excellence:

  1. Vivid Vision,
  2. Best People,
  3. A Performance-Oriented Culture,
  4. Robust Communication,
  5. A Sense of Urgency, and
  6. Extreme Customer Focus.

The book has lots of case studies and clear action items, and easy-to-follow guidelines for implementing the strategies in any organization no matter its mission or size
After breaking down each strategy, Spence gives specific examples, tips, tools, discussion questions and exercises for how to execute them successfully.  He has an easy personable writing style, which makes this a pleasure to read. See

The Supervision Solution . Manage performance-not people. John Roulet. 2009. ISBN 9780981683768.  This is a two part book. The first half of the book provides you with a clear understanding of organizational leadership, covering such topics as:

  • what leadership is;
  • how to measure leadership;
  • the leadership system; and
  • the universal problem-solving method.

The second half offers the information, tools and methods leaders need to effectively address the supervisory issues they face every day. Those issues include:

  • establishing clear employee performance requirements;
  • measuring performance; analyzing and resolving performance problems;
  • structuring work environments that do not de-motivate employees;
  • eliminating policy violations and; and hiring the right people.

The book has  examples from psychology, history, and politics to explain and illuminate key leadership concepts. Easy to read with good graphics and use of white space all assist you in your learning.  I likes the chapter on job performance evaluation a lot. See www. thesupervision

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Oops! 13 Management Practices That Waste Time and Money.  Aubrey C. Daniels. 2009. ISBN 9780937100172.  The author is a seasoned veteran of this space. He has seen more than his share on errors in mergers & acquisitions, downsizing, stretch goals and performance appraisal.  He is adamant that you should really stop, promoting people nobody likes, overrating smart people, and upsetting everyone with employee of the month programs.  Its a good read as he pulls no punches and has the data to prove it. His 13 targets are:

  • Employee of the month
  • Stretch goals
  • Performance appraisals
  • Ranking
  • Rewarding things a dead man can do
  • Salary and hourly pay
  • “You did a good job but,”
  • The sandwich
  • Overvaluing smart, talented people
  • The budget process
  • Promoting people no one likes
  • Downsizing
  • Mergers, Acquisitions and other forms of reorganizing
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Recent sales books Dec 2009

How to write proposals,  sales letters, & reports. Neil Sawers. 2004. ISBN 0969790147.   This is a very useful small book on essential skills that many small business people do not have. The author is very organized and systematic about the  how, why and what of proposals, letters and reports.  His writing style is very direct and pragmatic.  There are lots of books on this topic around, but I liked his for being very focused on small business people.

Selling in a New Market Space. Getting customers to buy your innovative and disruptive products. Brain C. Burns & Tom U. Snyder.  2010. ISBN 9780071636100.  A worthy succesor to books like Selling in th ehigh technology market, this book speaks about a Maverick Selling  Principles.  It explains how to build highly successful sales teams that create markets from scratch by:

  1. Articulating a compelling vision for the future
  2. Pinpointing your target market
  3. Controlling the decision making process
  4. Exposing exactly how large organizations make product sections

The authors use true-life case studies showing how the Maverick Method has resulted in landmark deals and long-term success for innovative new products. I appreciated their understanding of short windows of opportunity.  Pay attention as they teach you how to build sales money maps, an often lost art these days.

Rethinking Sales Management.  A strategic guide for practitioners. Beth Rogers. 2007. ISBN 9780470513057. This is a very thorough book with a specific focus on sales strategy It is needed for selling is getting tougher every day.  She uses her form of  “customer portfolio matrix” , based on what I appreciate, the customers point of view.   I think her approach will assist managers in  setting  realistic objectives, designing  new strategies that add real customer value,  avoiding  wasting time on price-oriented customers and deployingresources for maximum results. Beth is from the UK which means her English is precise , but like the Economist, has depth on every page.  Not a quick read.

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Spanning Silos. The New CMO Imperative. David Aaker.

Spanning Silos. The New CMO Imperative. David Aaker. 2009. ISBN 1422128768, 9781422128763. This is a specialist’s book.  After interviews with over 40 CMOs Aaaken has laid out how larger companies can better use their central marketing resources and eliminate the silos of marketing efforts that are often the norm.  This is not an issue that our clients have as they are more often worried about the silos called sales and marketing.  His ideas on how to achieve this cross silo agreement are also useful for the spanning of other silos in any company. As an academic the author is well researched and documented.  I would not rsuh out to buy this book, but it is certainly worth a library read. I appreciated his company stories.

Front CoverManagers Guide to Marketing , Advertising and Publicity.  Barry Callen. 2010. ISBN 9780071627962.  Callen explains:

  • The 14 principles of marketing communications strategy
  • Common marketing mistakes to avoid
  • Techniques for creating powerful marketing messages
  • The many choices for delivering your marketing message How to take full advantage of digital platforms

Today, you must come up with a bigger, better, brighter marketing campaign, or you’re guaranteed to be lost in the noise. This primer is ideal for anyone looking to position his or her organization as a powerful competitor in the twenty-first century.Briefcase Books, written specifically for today’s busy manager, feature eye-catching icons, very useful checklists,and sidebars to guide managers step-by-step through everyday workplace situations.  The text is simple, pragmatic  and a pretty good “Coles Notes” for marketing guide.

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socialnomics. how social media transforms the way we live and do business. erik qualman

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socialnomics. how social media transforms the way we live and do business. erik qualman. 2009. ISBN  9780470477236.  I confess my first thought  was  not another fluffy book on social media.  This is anything but that. I consider this the sober second wave type of book that helps us determine where a technology change will really make a business difference. Examples:

Facebook, Inc.
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The impact of having your profile available to the many and how that impacts your social behavior (What foes on in Vegas stays on Facebook)

LinkedIn is a defacto monopoly on business social networking. Once you have collected a set of references on LinkedIn why would you ever go to another site?

It is no good railing against the walled garden approach of Facebook, companies need to embrace it as another venue to meet and communicate with its target market.

Google is right to be scared of Facebook, people care less what Google thinks and more what their ‘friends” think about products etc. I just bought two items from Facebook marketplace that a few years ago I woudl have looked to ebay for. Facebook was easier, much faster and now I know the seller.

Books are being written as a crowd sourcing experiment – ask your followers a question on Twitter and write down what comes back.

Robert Murdock wanting to get his stuff not as easily searched by Google is another example of “Its my ball and I will play with it my way” thinking.  Did not work for AOL, Hasbro and Scrabulous won’t work for him

I advise you to pick this book up, it will help us dinosaurs come to grips with why the youth are embracing this media. You will enjoy his easy reading style and thoughtful analysis.