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March 04, 2009
The 1 book on...
That's according to Todd Sattersten, co-author of the recent book "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time" and president of bookseller 800-CEO-READ. Given that time is short for everyone, I asked Todd to recommend just one book for COTC readers among a variety of business categories.
Q: The one book on leadership?
A: "The Leadership Challenge," by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It was conceived in the late 70s and published in the early 80s. It's the most complete model for how to think about leadership. It's very research-based; they went out and asked leaders to tell them what their behaviors and experiences were like when they were having personal best moments. It's a classic. Now in its 4th edition, it's a perfect place to start.
Q: The one book on innovation?
A: "The Art of Innovation" by Tom Kelly. Tom is the general manager of Ideo. Many people know Ideo -- they're the folks behind the original Apple mouse, and they've done a ton of stuff since. What I like about Tom's view of innovation is that it isn't theoretical, it's very pragmatic. It's techniques they use, like observation and prototyping. There's been a lot of research in the past several years that says brainstorming is not a good way to come up with ideas; Ideo will tell you emphatically that brainstorming is an outstanding idea. It's a core competency. One thing I like about the book is the numerous examples found in each chapter on how to be innovative.
Q: The one book on strategy?
A: Instead of a book, I would recommend a Harvard Business Review article by Michael Porter called "How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy." We don't recommend his book, "Competitive Strategy." It's 432 pages. It's a little dry and quite impenetrable but at 26 pages, his HBR article is absolutely outstanding. It's still the best model for how people should think about strategy.
Q: The one book on sales?
A: "How to be a Rainmaker" by Jeffrey Fox. It's very nugget-oriented. Lots of great, quick ideas.
Q: The one book on marketing?
A: "Positioning: The Battle for your Mind," by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It's a classic book from the 80s based on a series of articles that ran in the 70s. They're the guys who said "own a word." It's the pre-cursor to "Purple Cow." There's so much stuff that gets based off positioning. Peolple tend to read the stuff that's come out since then. I can't recommend it enough. Everyone should read it.
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Great post, folks. I like it for three reasons:
- The recommendations themselves are great.
- It's about books, which I fear fewer and fewer people are reading (although successful execs clearly still are) -- there is still no substitute for books when it comes to real immersion in a topic, notwithstanding all the best of social media.
- Finally, and perhaps most important, it's about timeless classics, which is a great reminder that the new, new things are not necessarily what matters most. We often get so focused on keeping up with the newest punditry that we overlook much more insightful and useful material from years past.
Great post Ben,
Here is a link to a speech that both authors gave where they discuss the Five-Metathemes of Successful Businesses.
Also, here are the themes depicted visually:
With respect to the sales book... Jeffrey Fox is a smart guy. I had the privilege of interviewing him on the radio a few years ago. I've read his other books as well, and learned a few things.
The problem is that sales tips and tricks have been around for literally a hundred years and sales productivity is at an all-time low (even before this crisis). If they really worked, why wouldn't productivity be better?
Forty-percent or so of companies don't employ a sales process. No other departments within most companies run their operations by the seat of their pants like many sales leaders do.
Jeffrey's book is perfect once there is a pragmatic, buyer-oriented process in place and salesreps have been trained on its use. Otherwise, and here's my point, sales tips and tricks provide salespeople with a false sense of security--searching for the ultimate silver bullet instead of focusing on what's most important and what really works.
Here's the link to an article that digs further into this subject. http://tinyurl.com/9hyhco
The short answer is- most ideas you can think of are good enough to start a business around – in short you can probably make some money doing almost anything.
The real question is whether or not your business idea is worth the risk, and will provide adequate reward if it works out. For sake of argument let’s say adequate return is enough money for you to live on, at least replacing your current income. Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
Simply put your unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason I’d buy from you and not a competitor.
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