February 12th 2018

The Power of Moments. Why certain moments have extraordinary impact. Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

The Power of Moments. Why certain moments have extraordinary impact. Chip Heath and Dan Heath. 2017. ISBN 1501147760.  An extraordinary book. The authors have crystallized in quite a short book how to make a major leadership impact though using certain moments in everyday life.  Using four imaging ares of Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection this book will help you in all parts of your life.  I can see where this would have helped my elevate my teaching times, management roles and personal life.  I recommend this book for all managers as well as individuals. There is a wealth of resources that go with the book at www.heathbrothers.com/moments

February 5th 2018

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone.


Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone. 2017. ISBN 9780062430489. This is the story of Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman who married and together built the American tools and teams for  cryptography (code breaking)  prior to WW2 , which eventually became the NSA. There are many smaller stories  in the larger one. A wife who always let her husband shine ( yet history shows that she was the absolutely brilliant one) . How society (and the military)  ruthlessly and cavalierly ignored her true value in position and salary.  They worked on unscrambling puzzles from crooks, spies,  informants, and the enemy military.  They wrote the definitive earliest books on code breaking.  Their work was routinely used and seized by the always publicity seeking Hoover who always ignored their contributions. Toward the end, the US governments paranoia about secrecy ended up in the seizure of much of the Friedman’s personal papers and rare books collection.   They got their start through an eccentric millionaire,  George Fabyan ( who wanted to prove that Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare’s work) on his estate called Riverbank.  It is highly readable, almost improbable (until you remember the context), and the authors text flows well along.  This would make an exceptional movie.

January 22nd 2018

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.

English: Malcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2...

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.   2009. ISBN 9780316086134.  I have had this boom on my Kindle for a long time.  Its about time I read it. It is a series of articles that Gladwell published in the New Yorker . As befits such an lofty tome, the writing is clear, erudite and does not sway from the nub of the story. I found them highly interesting and always entertaining.  Gladwell has the gift to ask the unasked question from an unique point of view. This each story has the ability to educate and uplift the reader.  Good book for a lengthy air flight.

January 15th 2018

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks.

kristin.eonline.com - HBO Post-Emmys Party, Pa...

Uncommon Type. Some stories. Tom Hanks. 2017. ISBN 9780735273832.  Who knew?  Tom Hanks can write and quite well too.  This is a motley collection of fictional stories, about writing, acting, New York living, and some fantasy.  The author maintains a clear concise , descriptive style.   I look forward to more from him.

January 8th 2018

Finding My Virginity. The new Autobiography. Richard Branson.

English: Sir Richard Branson at the eTalk Fest...

Finding My Virginity. The new autobiography. Richard Branson. 2017.  ISBN 9780735219434.  Well,  you could not find a more elaborate showman than Branson and he certainly has no issues with tooting his own horn ( Now for the second time) .  That said he is also a master of the story so each chapter is an unique and compelling story. the copy is fresh , insightful (perhaps a tad self seeking) . Today’s leader would learn much from Branson’s breezy leadership style.  While staying in Australia I chatted to relatives who were among the early Virgin Blue employees and they could not say enough good things about the man and his leadership team.  The breadth of his efforts is astonishing, from telecom through to health and space. In one story Branson makes a very good argument for the moving of drug and addiction/treatment  from being a criminal to a health problem. We saw this working well in Portugal which has decriminalized all drug and addiction issues.  Each chapter/story pulls you forward through this substantial book until nothing he does could surprise you.  So I advise reading the book.

January 2nd 2018

South! The story of Shackeltons last expedition 1914-1917. Sir Earnest Shackelton

Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich I...

South! The story of Shackeltons last expedition 1914-1917. Sir Earnest Shackelton.

I have read parts of this book, watched a few documentaries,  heard lectures on Shackelton and seen many of the points of land he talks about while cruising the Antarctic. Yet the book still takes you well beyond all that. It is an inspiring story about will, leadership, skill and perseverance that would resonate with many of today’s leaders.  This issue includes the three parts of the voyage; the trapping of the Endurance and Shackelton’s heroic seamanship and struggles to  get to South Georgia in a very small sailboat and the rescue of the men on Elephant Island, the men left ashore when the Aurora is cast adrift and their work/travails at establishing supply depots across the shelf, and the voyage and rescue of the Aurora and its crew. Plus the appendices contain records of the meteorologic , geological and ice studies carried a out as well as a good analysis of the whaling activities in the areas.  Through it all the author maintains a laconic, non boastful accomplished style, sadly lacking in much of today’s self aggrandizing press.  I highly recommend this book.

December 2nd 2017

The Plant Paradox. The hidden dangers in “healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain. Steven R. Gundry.

English: Logo of the Declaration for Healthy F...

The Plant Paradox. The hidden dangers in “healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain. Steven R. Gundry. 2017. ISBN 9780062427144.  Its fifteen years since Dr Gundry wrote  THe Diet Revolution. He has seen way more patients and tested more combinations and compiled more research.  The result is a simplified approach to a life style than The Diet Revolution and a tighter list of foods you should say no to.

He is now  saying that a smart way to have a long and satisfying life is to reduce your daily meat protein intake , using wild seafood , not the other meats.  This is due to the commercialization of the domestic food supply and present  industry methods.  These methods are not followed in Europe so the food supply is better for you there.  He also gives guidance on a healthy plant protein based  food supply , with some plants strongly not recommended.   He now also makes a logical argument  about the benefits of regular fasting to our well being.   Of interest was to read more information on why the healthy gut approach works. which fits in with reading I did last year

I  have been following his guidance for two weeks now. I have had slow steady weight loss, with some increase to my energy levels. I have been reducing my red meat consumption and increasing my plant ( salad)  consumption. I find that this happens with no increased  appetite/ hunger pangs except for an increased desire for even more salads.  I also have been able to isolate the foods that have not been helping me keep to a proper weight.  The program is quite easy and fits in with the generally better food and habits that we have in Canada.  In his book the author needs to be a bit more bombastic as his target is too often some really ill, poorly fed US folks.  I recommend this book as a good idea if you are looking for a health lifestyle change , especially if you are prediabetic or facing other chronic issues, including cancer.

November 21st 2017

Dr. Gundry’s Diet Revolution. Turn off the genes that are killing you and your waistline. Steven R. Gundry

Dr. Gundry’s Diet Revolution. Turn off the genes that are killing you and your waistline. Steven R. Gundry.  2008. ISBN 9780307352125.  Numerous people I respect recommended this book. I am a geek I admit that.  This book really fit into my logic  as being well researched, thoughtful and it just made so much sense.   The author is an extremely well respected heart surgeon , with a ton of capital letters after his name and many awards, patents etc. A real trail blazer.  He was really overweight and decided before he needs multiple bypasses, he would do something about it.  He did,  lost the weight and has kept it off.  If you truly wish to head off those “generic” illnesses and battle the North American diet, this is the book for you. In less than two weeks I am seeing results and I know I can keep to his ideas.

November 14th 2017

The Sales Survival Handbook: Cold Calls, commissions, and caffeine addiction. Ken Kupchik

This UML diagram describes the domain of Linke...

The Sales Survival Handbook. Ken Kupchik. 2017, ISBN 9780814438657. A hilarious book for the newbie ( to find out whats in store for you) and the old timer (to relive some of those tougher days).   Joking aside, the books content is bang on and useful.  The humour allows the learning to go down very smoothly.  His Facebook page SalesHumor is a resource. He is also a regular poster on LinkedIn.  I recommend this book , first as a do not let yourself get down tool. as well as providing some levity for your sales calls and meetings.

November 6th 2017

The rule of Five ( Or Six)

The rule of Five ( Or Six). While chatting with a young entrepreneur I remembered something my son told me. As a software guy he had made the comparison between how  software packages ( Adobe and  Microsoft for example) worked and how vertical businesses worked. Once he learned the  basic five (or six) rules of the Adobe environment, it became easier to learn individual Adobe products . The same was true for  Microsoft products like Office. Of course the rules for Adobe were not always reflected in the rules for Microsoft.

He took the same view with him as he built businesses in various separate verticals like gaming, music, on line services and food . Once he learned the basic industry rules for success, it became easier for him to pick a business, measure his success and head off potential issues.   Eg. In food he said , a bakery faces having to throw out 30-60% of its fresh stock at the end of every day.  So it makes sense to also have products with a longer shelf life, eg add a patisserie, or a chocolate based business with a bakery since chocolate has a much longer shelf life.

For entrepreneurs I always ask them what are the rules of the vertical that they are working in?  How do successful companies smooth out the normal ups and downs in their business cycle?

Eg Lululemon founders learned the retail business through successfully operating Westbeach.  By cannily creating/nurturing a distinct vertical , yogawear ( or athleisure) , they built up momentum ( and a loyal following).  By using and driving fashion trends they were able to build a commanding market position.

On the other hand for Recon Instruments  rules cut both ways.  They could not create a commanding position through failing to understand early enough how eyewear/goggles was mostly a fashion industry, which their manufacturing partners relied on for annual sales growth.  Faced with growing  returns of unsold product  Recon had to pivot its business model.  This eventually lead to the successful technology sale to Intel.  But this involved a lot of hard work.

So what are the rules of success for your vertical?