Author Archives: randy

Here is the November, 2018 New York Times list of Business Books Best Sellers – Atomic Habits is at #3

The November, 2018 New York Times Business Books Best Sellers list is now published.  This is the best sellers list that I most closely follow.

Through the years, we have presented synopses of a quite large percentage of the books that land on this list at our monthly event in Dallas, the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (We tend to not select many “one company” books, or many of the finance books on the list).

There are books that are perennial best sellers that reappear often on the list.  There are books by popular authors.

And, as I have often stated, just reading any book with focus and attention can point you to new ideas and even new directions.

Atomic Habits

one of my two December selections for the First Friday Book Synopsis

Of the ten this month, after our December event, I will have presented synopses of three of them:  Atomic Habits (one of my two December selections), and the two by former Navy SEALs, Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership.  I think in coming months we will present Leadership by Goodwin, and I am considering AI Superpowers.

Here is the New York Times list of business books best sellers for November, 2018.  Click over to their site for links for more information.

#1 – Dare to Lead by BrenéBrown
#2 – Leadership by Doris Kearns Goodwin
#3 – Atomic Habits by James Celar
#4 – Mastering the Market Cycle by Howard Marks
#5 – The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
#6 – Thirst by Scott Harrison
#7 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#8 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#9 – The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#10 – AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee


Most of the synopses we have presented are available at the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page. Click here for our newest additions. Each synopsis comes with the audio recording of our presentation, along with the pdf of our multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout.


Reminder Thursday – Follow the Script if you want to run a good event or meeting

follow the scriptGood meetings, good events, are well planned, and they cover all the details very well.

I recently noticed something; and, not for the first time.  Those who plan with precision – i.e., those who prepare schedules, scripts, agendas – get more accomplished.  The formula is simple:  first you prepare a script, then you follow the script.

{Some would argue that such meticulous preparation squelches creativity.  There’s a simple solution—put into the script, into the schedule, some free-flowing exercise/thinking portions.  But, that’s another issue for another time.}

If you script things, then you can choose to go off script when a need arises.

If you don’t script things, then you will leave important elements out of any meeting or event.

And, you have to pay attention to – i.e., follow – the script in order not to leave that important stuff out.

So, prepare a script; then follow the script.

Traction by Gino Wickman – Here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways

51s+PBMjJ+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_What is the point?
All successful organizations and companies have a system — a system that they follow – throughout the organization.  Traction is a book that provides a usable, transferable, implementable system for companies aiming for success and growth.


At last Friday’s November’s First Friday Book Synopsis, I presented my synopsis of Traction:  Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.  Here’s what I said about the practicality, the usability – of this book:  Traction is a book that presents
 a system for organizational health and growth. It is
 a true system: do this, and then this, and then this, in this order, consistently, and this good stuff will likely happen. This system is called the EOS System (the Entrepreneurial Operating System).

This book is the first part of a comprehensive system complete with forms, coaches, long-term connections to help a company move forward effectively. A surprising number of people who attended our event are using Traction’s EOS in full or in part.  One Traction coach came to hear my synopsis.

And, I came away from my reading of the book, and from a few conversations, thinking this is a really useful operating system.

As always, I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons:

#1 – We need to be reminded of the basics of being a business.  This books reminds us of these basics.
#2 – Each business needs a usable system: to plan for the future, to get all things done, and to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.  This book provides such a system.
#3 – We all need to know what to do at work – individually, and as part of the larger team.  This book is a very good “this is what needs to get done; this is what you need to do” book. 

Here are a few key excepts taken directly from the book:

In summary, successful businesses operate with a crystal clear vision that is shared by everyone. They have the right people in the right seats. They have a pulse on their operations by watching and managing a handful of numbers on a weekly basis. They identify and solve issues promptly in an open and honest environment. They document their processes and ensure that they are followed by everyone. They establish priorities for each employee and ensure that a high level of trust, communication, and accountability exists on each team.

Often two talented people can speak two completely different languages: “What are your objectives?” “You mean my goals?” “What is the process?” “You mean the procedure?”

Keeping people around just because you like them is destructive.

The marketing process is the way you get your message to your target audience and generate interest in what you do and prospects for your salespeople. …The sales process is the way you convert a prospect into a customer. The operations processes are the way you make your product or provide your service to your customer. …The accounting process is the flow and management of all monies coming in and going out.

Don’t think that your company will get better simply because you’ve read this book or attended an EOS session. You’ll still need to do the work. 

eos-modelHere are the six components of the model; the very heart of the EOS Model (Entrepreneurial Operating System):

#1 — Vision/Traction System (V/TO) – 8 Questions; Shared by all
#2 – Data – Scorecard; Measurables
#3 – Process – Documented; Followed by all
#4 – Traction – Rocks; Meetings  (Everyone must have rocks; and, then, MEETING PULSE!)
#5 – Issues – Issues List; IDS (Identify; Define; Solve)
#6 – People – Right People; Right Seats — Core Values + People Analyzer = Right People — The right seat means that each of your employees is operating within his or her area of greatest skill and passion inside your organization and that the roles and responsibilities expected of each employee fit with his or her Unique Ability ® — That leads us to the Accountability Chart, the ultimate tool for structuring your organization the right way, defining roles and responsibilities, and clearly identifying all of the seats in the organization. — Unique Ability ® + Accountability Chart = Right Seats — The right people always:Get it; Want it; have the Capacity to Do It!

And, I am a real fan of using paper!  So is this author: Put it on paper – put everything (important) – especially all the components of your system — on paper! — Entrepreneurs must get their vision out of their heads and down onto paper.

The book suggests eight key questions that leadership teams have to answer:

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What is your core focus? — Niche = Core Focus — Once your core focus is clear, your people, processes, and systems can be put in place to drive it with consistency.
  3. What is your 10-year target? — Think BHAGs (Big, Hairy Audacious Goals)
  4. What is your marketing strategy? – You need: 1. Your Target Market/“ The List” 2. Your Three Uniques 3. Your Proven Process 4. Your Guarantee
  5. What is your three-year picture?
  6. What is your one-year plan?
  7. What are your quarterly Rocks?
  8. What are your issues? – Identify and Solve your issues, with an Issues List; and following the Issues Solving Track – Identify, Discuss, Solve (Solve leads to a specific action item. for someone specific). — Beware of (be very wary of) of Tangents!

And, you need to establish your “Rocks” – for a company, for each group within the company; really for each individual.  These eight steps will help you find and focus on your rocks:


STEP 1 — your leadership team lists everything on the whiteboard that has to be accomplished in the next 90 days.
STEP 2 With that list of 10 to 20 items in front of you, discuss, debate, and determine the most important priorities for the company in the next 90 days.
STEP 3 Once you’ve narrowed your list, set the date that the Rocks are due.
STEP 4 Assign who owns each Rock.
STEP 5 Once the company Rocks are set, the members of the leadership team each set their own Rocks.
Step 6 Create the Rock Sheet, which is just a landscaped piece of paper.
STEP 7 Share the company Rocks with the entire organization.
STEP 8 Have each department set their Rocks as a team.
(STEP 9 — In the end, each employee will have his or her own Rocks for the quarter).

And, successful companies have meetings.  They follow a “meeting pulse.” Some thoughts about all these meetings — you need them; keep them human (the author describes the power of the “segue” moment – where each person talks about something that was accomplished, or went well – at work, and/or in your personal life); basically:review (scorecard review; rock review), reset (your rocks) and solve problems; someone has to manage the agenda – AND!!! begin and end on time!!!

I ended my synopsis, as I always do, with my five lessons and takeaways:

#1 – This system is like taking your vital signs. Take them regularly; make sure you are healthy.
#2 – This system helps everyone know what to do; when to do it; and how all that is done helps the overall company reach its goals.
#3 – This system helps everyone know if that person fits here; how that person fits here – or, if that person simply is not a fit here.
#4 – This system reminds everyone that “someone” always needs the regular meetings. Thus, the team, the company, needs the regular meetings.
#5 – This system reminds us all that success requires work.  Meaningful work; fulfilling work; but, work.

Should you read Traction?  If you lead an organization; if you work in an organization: Yes.  Is reading it enough?  Nope! But, it is a start.  Then, you have to put the ideas to work.  That may require a trained EOS coach.  (Google it – they are easy to find).

There are other “systems.”  This system gives plenty of credit to the Rockefeller Habits introduced by Verne Harnish.  But, choose a system, whether this one or another, and get everybody on board; everybody! Adopt the common vocabulary of the system you choose.  And then, get to it!  There is building to be done!

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari; and Atomic Habits by James Clear – Coming for the December 7 First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a wonderful session today at the November First Friday Book Synopsis.  My synopsis of Traction by Gino Wickman resonated with a bunch of folks.  There is already quite a bit of interest in the EOS System described in the book Traction.  My synopsis covered the basics…

And, The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin was well received. It is a good follow-up to their earlier book Extreme Ownership.

I’ll be posting my lessons and takeaways from each of these books soon on this blog.  And my synopses, with the audio recordings from this morning’s session, along with the pdf of my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handouts, will be available soon at the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  (Click here for our newest additions).

If you are in the DFW area on Dec. 7, plan to be with us for our December 7 session of the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I am presenting my synopsis of the new book on building good habits (and getting rid of bad habits):  Atomic Habits by James Clear.  And I am also presenting the “big think” book by Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21stCentury. (I have presented synopses of his two earlier books:  Sapiens and Homo Deus.  Those synopses are available at our buy synopses tab).

We always meet on the first Friday of the month.  And we always have:

A wonderful Park City Club breakfast
Great conversations
And two thorough, useful book synopses.

I hope you can join us.

Here’s the flier with all the details.  You will be able to register soon from the home page of this web site.

Dec. 2018 FFBS Flier


The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – Three Quick Observations/Lessons

One of my two selections for the November First Friday Book Synopsis

One of my two selections for the November First Friday Book Synopsis

…he quickly gets “task saturated.” “Task saturated” was a term we used in the SEAL Teams to describe how an individual, or a team, would get overwhelmed when multiple problems were encountered simultaneously.
The Dichotomy of Leadership


I’m feeling a little  task-saturated at the moment. Too many things to do; too many books to read.  But I have just finished my synopsis handout for the very good follow-up book to Extreme Ownership.  Here are just a few quick thoughts prompted by my reading The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

(I am presenting my synopsis this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and will write my usual “lessons and takeaways” blog post one day next week).

#1 – These writers are very good explainers.  This is a critical communication ability. People have too much information. Information overload is very real. But we all read things we do not understand.  These former Navy SEALs are very good at describing and explaining what they mean. This is really helpful.

#2 – Repetition, repetition, repetition.  They are very dedicated to the value of repetition in training, and in work.  You don’t get good at something without repeating it often, many times, over and over and over again.  They will remind you of this.

#3 – Successfully Completing the Mission trumps everything. I have been saying to groups for quite some time that ultimately what really natters is producing the results that are needed. This book reinforces this.  They use military terms, and in this case, the term is “Commander’s Intent – “the greater purpose behind the mission.”  But their point is this – accomplishing the mission is more important that any one person, and his/her feelings, or job or…

Extreme OwnershipI’ll write more soon.  But I will make this recommendation:  if you are in any kind of leadership position, or aspire to such, you would be helped by reading the two books Extreme Ownership andThe Dichotomy of Leadership.

Her is my blog post on their first book: Here are my 8 Lessons and Takeaways from Extreme Ownership by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.


In a time of paradigm shifting, we need a good old-fashioned system to rely on – thoughts prompted by Traction by Gino Wickman (and, Joel Barker; the Business of Paradigms)

(This is a slightly unfocused blog post – kind of like our current slightly unfocused times).

51s+PBMjJ+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I am presenting my synopsis of Traction next week at the Nov. 2 First Friday Book Synopsis; and today for the leadership team of a top-notch local company.  Traction is a book that presents a system for organizational health and growth.  It is a true system: do this, and then this, and then this, in this order, consistently, and this good stuff will likely happen. They call it the EOS System (the Entrepreneurial Operating System).

Last night, I showed the video The Business of Paradigms by Joel Barker to my Speech students.  (I show it during my “persuasion” section”).  Mr. Barker says that change is hard; that change is always resisted everywhere it is attempted; but that when a paradigm shifts, “everything (and, everyone) goes back to zero.”

And, I’m thinking about some rather massive shifts in our world at the moment.

Joel Barker -- His business is paradigms

Joel Barker — His business is paradigms

So…one observation is this: we are all feeling a little unsettled. So, what do we do — whether it is in the big picture of what do we do, or in the smaller arena of what do we do in our company, at this moment, when things begin to change?

I think that when change is coming, that is exactly when we need a system to help us handle the change.

So…back to company issues. Here are some thoughts.

If you have a leader, and leadership team, that is studying, and learning, then it is inevitable that they will bring changes to the company.  If they don’t, it shows that they are not actually learning.

And there are some “findings” that are now pretty much solid; proven, and should not be ignored.  Let’s try this list:

In successful companies:

#1 – The leaders will keep learning, and bring about some change(s) – kind of…all the time.
#2 – But, at the core, are the core values of a company.  A company has to know, and constantly reinforce (teach; re-teach; repeat and repeat) its core values.
#3 – People regress to the mean; they forget stuff; they have to be reminded. Therefore…
#4 – A company needs many meetings.  To reinforce, to stay on target, and in order to enable communication. So…
#5 – A company needs constant communication.  In every way, in meetings, in e-mails, in memos, in conversations – the need is to communicate, and repeat, and repeat and repeat, the critical message of your plans. — Your long-term (10 year) plans; your shorter term plans (3 years); this year’s plans; this quarter’s plans.
#6 – A company needs clear plans; for this year, for this quarter.  (There is research that says 90 days is about right for this).
#7 – And, each person within the company needs to have tangible targets to hit in his/her work for the next week, month, quarter.  (They might even need a “number” to hit).

And, any company that does not implement a system to facilitate all of this is likely to let their future fall right through the cracks…

The book Traction provides such a system.  It is not the only system out there; it may not even be the best system out there. But…it provides a very implementable system.  At this moment, count me a fan.

That’s it…I’m through musing for today…