Author Archives: randy

Another Trip Down Memory Lane – more from earlier years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, (2011-2015) – Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg; Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan; and so many more…


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On April 5, 2019, we will begin our 22nd year of the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Here are a few more highlights in our trip down memory lane.


steve-jobs-biography-by-walter-isaacson-1I am doing a fast journey thorough the books I’ve/we’ve presented over the last 21 years of the First Friday Book Synopsis.  And, oh, my goodness.  I don’t know if the books were getting better; if I was getting better at finding the best books; or what!!!  But, these five years, 2011-2015, were filled with really, really good and useful books.

Here’s what I mean. Organizations bring me in to present extended synopses for their leadership teams.  The books from these five years are still in demand.  Just this week alone, I presented/am presenting my synopsis of Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal to leaders of three different organizations.  And, one leader told me that he is thinking about bringing me in to present, again, my synopsis of Extreme Ownership for a second time; and maybe again every year; to his leadership team.  He said: “they need to be reminded that they have to take ownership!”  Yep; they do.

But if you made me choose the single most important book I presented these five years, well; I would have a really hard, hard time. Would it be Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson?  Certainly a contender!  Maybe Extreme Ownership by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  But, was there a book that made a bigger “splash” than Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg?  I don’t think so.  “Lean in” became a new way of describing the need to be assertive; to make your case; to take your rightful place.  A truly important book.  (Note:  when a book introduces a word, or phrase, into the national vocabulary, as this one did, it is worth paying attention to).  These three books are all genuinely important.

Willful BlindnessBut, I actually have a strong choice for the most important book I presented during these five years.  Maybe for the decade. Maybe for my entire business-book-reading career.  It is Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan.  Here’s a challenge:  read this book, and then think about Boeing charging extra for safety features that, if they had been standard, might have saved the lives of 350 people. This is quite a book!

Here’s how I summarized the entire book in a paragraph:

Willful blindness is about the blindness all around us – in our own lives, in our organizations and communities and institutions.
We are blind. I am blind; you are blind. And we are blind to the things we are blind to.
And, we ignore the obvious (our own blindness) at our peril.

Click here to read my blog post on this excellent, important, must-read book.

And, here are quite a few other notable books we presented during those years, with the month and year we presented the book, and with a brief comment after each title:

September, 2011 — Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski. Weinstein Books (April 26, 2011) – This book described the ongoing difficulty women have getting paid what they are worth; and in being viewed as full partners, in every way, in the business arena.

November, 2011— Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. HarperBusiness (2011). – This is kind of the “follow up” to Good to Great, Jim Collins’ earlier book.  It “puts meat on the bones” of what constitutes a good work ethic.

January, 2012 — Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonSimon & Schuster (2011). – The definitive, authorized biography of Steve Jobs.  Really, a must-read to understand the life of, and gain a better grasp of the impact of, Steve Jobs. From the book: Was he smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. He was, indeed, an example of what the mathematician Mark Kac called a magician genius, someone whose insights come out of the blue and require intuition more than mere mental processing power. Like a pathfinder…

March, 2012 — Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susanquiet_final Cain.  Crown (January 24, 2012). – This book gave hope, and a game plan, to introverts everywhere.

April, 2012 — Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux  (2011). – This synopsis was presented by Karl Krayer, my colleague for most of the first 20 years of our event.  This book lingers on the best sellers lists.  And this book has provided foundational ideas for many other ideas in business; and in life.

June, 2012 — The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.  Random House (2012). – a terrific book, dealing with personal habits, and organizational habits.  It includes a truly enlightening story about Alcoa and its focus on safety.

December, 2012 — How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  (2012) – This book introduced us to the work of Angela Duckworth, and others, on grit. An important book, for parents, and HR directors everywhere.

sheryl-sandberg-book-lean-in-1April, 2013 — Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013). – maybe the book that stood at #1 on the business books best sellers list (on the NY Times) longer than any other book. The impact of this book was big, and very far-reaching.

July, 2013— Eleven Rings: The Soul of Successby Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. (Penguin Press HC, 2013) – A personal favorite; great stories from the NBA coach with the most championship rings (ummm…11 rings).  A favorite moment from the book;  Phil Jackson would give a book – a different book — to each player at the start of each season. He knew his players as individuals; and he knew good books; books, plural!

December, 2013— Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges and Susan Bridges. Da Capo Lifelong Books; Third Edition, Revised and Updated for the New Work Environment edition (2009). – This is the only book I know of that deals with the “emotion” of dealing with change.  I have presented this synopsis to many groups in the midst of change.

March, 2014 — The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of BrilliantSecond Machine Age Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.  W. W. Norton & Company; (2014). – Yes, the robots are coming.  This book explains how the “robots/software” are now doing mental work as well as physical work. From the book: The story in a nutshell: First, Muscle Power – the Industrial Revolution (the Steam Engine). Now, Mental Power – The Second Machine Age – Computers, Digital Advances…

August, 2014— Willful Blindness:  Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Perilby Margaret Heffernan.  Walker & Company.  2011. – This is it!  THE book from this list. See above.

July, 2015 — Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Futureby Ashlee Vance.  Ecco (2015). – The book to help you understand the life, and thinking, and impact of Elon Musk.

August, 2015 — Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris FussellPortfolio (2015) – No more silos!  Every individual team has to work effecitvely as part of the bigger team:  one team within a team of teams.   

Extreme OwnershipDecember, 2015 — Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  St. Martin’s Press (2015) – Still on best sellers lists.  This book explains why leaders have to take full (extreme) ownership of the results of the team, and the organzation.

This is just a partial list of the books we presented during those years at the First Friday Book Synopsis. There are other very good selections.

21 years of books – two books every month. So many books; so much to learn; so little time… 


(And a shout out to Karl Krayer — we miss him every month!)


ps — for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive). Click here for the newest additions.


A Trip Down Memory Lane – more from earlier years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, (2005-2010) – The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman; The Black Swan; Outliers; Freakonomics – So, so Many Good Books

click on button to register for April 5th event

click on button to register for April 5th event



WorldisflatOn April 5, 2019, we will begin our 22nd year of the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Here are a few more highlights in our trip down memory lane.

In June, 2005, I presented my synopsis of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century byThomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux:  April 2005). This was a truly significant book.  Here is an extended excerpt from an earlier blog post (note especially the ten flatteners):

But…  for today, let me begin with this.  The World is Flat is a big, big book.  What I mean is that it was such a “buzz” creator when it came out.  It’s not that Friedman said what had not been said.  In fact, he had already written much of it himself, in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and in his columns.  (A side point:  the single most enlightening page I ever read to help me understand the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was from his earlier book, From Beirut to Jerusalem – page 12, by the way).    But, in this book, he looked at a world that is in the midst of true globalization, and came up with a way to describe it that made all of us say “Now I get it.”  That is a great gift.

Here is his “summary” of this new world (emphasis added):

It is this triple convergence – of new players, on a new playing field, developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration – that I believe is the most important force shaping global politics in the early twenty-first century…  The next generation of innovations will come from all over Planet Flat.

In my synopses, I always try to summarize each book “in a box,” which I put at the beginning of the second portion of my handout.  (I always begin with key excerpts taken directly from the book, then I get to my summary of key content of the book.  This “box” comes at the beginning of this second portion).  So, here’s what was in my “box” for this book:

The playing field has been leveled.  The world is flat.  Everyone is your competition.  Everyone, everywhere in the world.  The only possible path to follow is the path of creative imagination.  Or else…

The book describes:

  • Three great eras of globalization:
    1) From 1492 to about 1800 – Globalization 1.0.  It shrank the world from a size large to a size medium.  (brawn; horsepower; wind and then steam power) –Countries globalizing
    2) From 1800 to about 2000 – Globalization 2.0.  It shrank the world from a size medium to a size small.  (multinationals) – Companies globalizing
    3) From 2000 – Globalization 3.0.  It shrank the world from a size small to a size tiny. – Individuals globalizing

And here are some other key points from my handout, beginning with the list that this book is most famous for:

The Ten Forces that Flattened the World
1. 11/9/89 – When the Walls Came Down and the Windows Went Up
2. 8/9/95 – When Netscape went Public
3. Work Flow Software – Let’s do Lunch:  Have your application talk to my application
4. Open-Sourcing – Self-Organizing Collaborative Communities  (e.g.:  Wikipedia)
5. Outsourcing – Y2K
6. Offshoring – Running with Gazelles, Eating with Lions
7. Supply Chaining – Eating Sushi in Arkansas  (Have you heard of Wal-mart?)
8. Insourcing – What the Guys in Funny Brown Shorts are Really Doing
9. In-Forming – Google, Yahoo, MSN Web Search
10. The Steroids – Digital, Mobile, Personal, and Virtual

He describes: The triple convergence
• new players
• on a new playing field
• developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration

And, here are quite a few other notable books we presented during those years, with the month and year we presented the book, and with a brief comment after each title:

August, 2005 — Freakonomics:  A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by  Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow: May, 2005) – these are the “freakonomics” guys, who teach us a new way to look at numbers and data.

blue-oceanSeptember, 2005 — Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant  by  W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne. Harvard Business School Press  (February 3, 2005) – look for an undisturbed market to enter; a “blue ocean.”

March, 2006Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden.  McGraw-Hill: (April, 2005) – This is a great book on leadership by the greatest Men’s College Basketball coach of all time.

May, 2006 — Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time  (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi (with Tahl Raz). New York:  Currency • Doubleday.  2005 – this is the bible on networking; networking, a modern day survival skill.

August, 2006 — The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson.  Hyperion (July 11, 2006). – the long tail helps explain the success of Netflix, and Amazon, and…

June, 2007 — Words that Work by Frank Luntz. Hyperion. (January 2, 2007) – This is a book with great insight on the importance of word choice in effective communication.

the_black_swanSeptember, 2007 — The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  Random House. (2007). – this book introduced us all to a new concept; a black swan.  The utterly unexpected, unpredictable happening/development/crisis…

May, 2008 — What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:  How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. Hyperion (2007) – the title says it all. What got you here will not get you there. — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).

October, 2008 — Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America  by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2008). – In this book, we come face to face with dangers of global warming.  Notice the publication date; over a decade ago.

January, 2009 — Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown and Company (November 18, 2008). – the book that introduced the 10,000 hour rule; it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master at practically…anything..

Womenomics Book CoverSeptember, 2009 — Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.  Harper­Business/HarperCollins.  (2009). – women are still “behind’ (that proverbial glass ceiling)…  This book helps us understand why.

April, 2010 — The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books (2009). – critical understanding of the importance of checklists; in medicine, for pilots; for all of us!

June, 2010 — Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  Riverhead Hardcover;  (December 29, 2009) – motivation has to come from within; intrinsic motivation; not the carrot and stick extrinsic approach of yesteryear.

This is just a partial list of the books we presented during those years at the First Friday Book Synopsis. There are other very good selections.

21 years of books – two books every month. So many books; so much to learn; so little time… 


(And a shout out to Karl Krayer — we miss him every month!)


ps — for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive. Click here for the newest additions).

A Trip Down Memory Lane – more from the early years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, (1999-2004) – Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner; Good to Great by Jim Collins; and other great books

A Trip Down Memory Lane — The First Friday Book Synopsis, 1998-2019, and counting…
Important Books from 1999-2004
500+ synopses of books — and counting!

Yes, I do recommend this book more often that any other book for people who actually lead others

Yes, I do recommend this book more often that any other book for people who actually lead others

Near the beginning of our second year of the First Friday Book Synopsis, in April and May, 1999, we selected two terrific books.  In April, 1999, Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of the modern classic, On Competition by Michael Porter (Harvard Business School Press, 1998). And a month later, I presented my synopsis of a book I have recommended ever since – a book I regularly present to leadership teams, even to this day:  Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (Simon and Schuster, 1999).

Here is an excerpt from an earlier blog post about this book; (click here to read the full post):

The book is filled with wisdom.  From the book:
Encouraging the Heart is ultimately about keeping hope alive.  Leaders keep hope alive when they set high standards and genuinely express optimism about an individual’s capacity to achieve them.  They keep hope alive when they give feedback and publicly recognize a job well done.  They keep hope alive when they give their constituents the internal support that all human beings need to feel that they and their work are important and have meaning.  They keep hope alive when they train and coach people to exceed their current capacities.  Most important, leaders keep hope alive when they set an example.  There really is nothing more encouraging than to see our leaders practice what they preach.
Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others.  Your life will be enlarged also.
We don’t do our best in isolation.  We don’t get extraordinary things done by working alone with no support, encouragement, expressions of confidence, or help from others.  That’s not how we make the best decisions, get the best grades, run faster, achieve the highest levels of sales, invent breakthrough products, or live longer.
All of this requires that leaders understand their roles – and aim for self-improvement themselves:
Leadership development is self-development…  To know what to change in our lives, we need to understand what we’re doing that is getting the results we want and what we’re doing that is not.
And this book has one of my all-time favorite quotes:
We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional.  (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken).

And in December of 1999, I presented my synopsis of the profoundly important book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999). – This book kind of launched the “globalization” conversation.  One of our regular attendees, Jim Young, has never forgiven me for presenting this book: he said it forced him to buy 25 copies to give away to key people.

And, here are a few more notable books we presented during those years, with the month and year we presented the book, and with a brief comment after each title:

October, 2000The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown & Co., 2000) – Still a best-selling book, this book introduced us all to the ever-popular Malcolm Gladwell.

May, 2001 — The Art of Innovation (Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm) by Tom Kelley, Jonathan Littman (Foreword), Tom Peters (Doubleday: 2001). – great rules for brainstorming; and other principles for nurturing a culture of innovation.

August, 2001Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan Books: May, 2001) – If you want to understand the challenges and struggles of the every-day blue-collar, low-wage worker, this is THE book to read.

October, 2001 — The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business by Thomas H. Davenport, John C. Beck (Harvard Business School Press: June 2001) – Now, well into our second decade of smart phones, this book, maybe before any other, grasped the importance of businesses grasping the importance of gaining and maintaining the attention of its customers..

December, 2001 — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (HarperCollins; October, 2001) – maybe the most referred to business book for the last 20 years.  — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).

February, 2002 — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen (Viking Press; 2001) – still the “bible’ on time management.

September, 2002Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck (Contributor) (Crown Pub, June, 2002) – this book kind of started the “execution” movement.

October, 2002Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey (McGraw-Hill Trade; 2002). – Many books have followed up with this simple truth: have those important, crucial  conversations! — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).

May, 2003The Power of Full Engagement:Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz, (Free Press; February, 2003). – this book taught us that it is not just time management, but also energy management that we need.

November, 2003Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. (W. E. Norton and Company, 2003). – I remember this being called the business book of the year by a major publication.  This book helped the common reader grasp the value of data. 


One of my all-time favorites!

April, 2004 — The Creative Habit:  Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp  (Simon & Schuster, 2003) – one of my favorite books of all time!  I love her view that creativity is a habit.  I especially liked this book because Ms. Tharp is a choreographer; an artist. So, not “just” a business person. (Her follow up, The Collaborative Habit, is also terrific, and worth reading). This was also named a best business book of the year by a major publication.

July, 2004The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations by James Surowiecki (Author)  (Doubleday Books, 2004) – quite an influential book.

This is just a partial list of the books we presented during those years at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  There are other very good selections.  And, a few not so good.  (Actually, during this period, I presented the single worst book I ever presented.  It literally recommended some unethical practices.  No, I will not name the book in this post).

21 years of books – two books every month.  So many books; so much to learn; so little time… 


for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive. Click here for the newest additions).

A Trip Down Memory Lane, to the first First Friday Friday Book Synopsis, April 3, 1998 – Tom Peters, The Circle of Innovation and Noel Tichy, The Leadership Engine

 A Trip Down Memory Lane — April 3, 1998

500+ synopses of books — and counting!

The date was April 3, 1998 — the first Friday of April of that year. Bill Clinton was President. The top movie at the year’s box office was Saving Private Ryan. I frequently turned in to hear my evening news delivered by Peter Jennings.

And Karl Krayer and I welcomed a small group to our very first First Friday Book Synopsis at the University Club on the top floor of the Dallas Galleria.

We had carefully selected two books for our first gathering:

April 3, 1998

  • The Circle of Innovation by Tom Peters (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)
  • The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level by Noel Tichy (Harper Business, 1997)

Karl presented the book by Noel Tichy. It was a simple concept, but profound in its teaching; companies needed leaders — good leaders — throughout the organization, and they needed to train those leaders constantly; perpetually; habitually.

The Leadership Engine coined the term Teachable Point of View, which is at the core of how leaders develop other leaders. The book lays out a framework for developing leaders at all levels of an organization, and argues that it is the major responsibility of the current leaders to develop the next generation…

I presented the Tom Peters book, The Circle of Innovation– (I presented the latest book by Tom Peters just last May:  The Excellence Dividend). And here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a few years ago about my selection for that first meeting:

The first book I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, April 3, 1998

The first book I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, April 3, 1998

In The Circle of Innovation: You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Greatness, Tom Peters focuses on “15 stops along the way” to successful and continual innovation. He conveniently summarizes these at the beginning of his book – convenient for me, because my handout (along with other early handouts) was lost in some computer operator failure (me) a few years ago. (Now, all of my handouts are in multiple places).

Here are those 15 stops:

#1 – DISTANCE IS DEAD – “We’re all next-door neighbors”
#2 – DESTRUCTION IS COOL – It’s “easier to KILL an organization — and repot it — than change it substantially”
#3 – YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT AN ERASER – “Forgetting – not learning — is the highest art”
#4 – WE ARE ALL MICHELANGELOS – “Convert every job into a business”
#6 – ALL VALUE COMES FROM THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – “Make staff units The Vital Centers of Intellectual Capital Accumulation”
#7 – THE INTERMEDIARY IS DOOMED – “We are gutting the center of vertical enterprises. THE INTERMEDIARY IS DYING/DEAD!”
#8 – THE SYSTEM IS THE SOLUTION – “Dept. of Beauty?? YES! It’s W-A-Y beyond reengineering”
#9 – CREATE WAVES OF LUST – “Just shout NO to… commoditization. Embrace: WOW!!!/lusted-after products and services”
#10 – TOMMY HILFIGER KNOWS – “branding is (far) more important than ever before”
#12 – IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD – “Women purchase/are purchasing agents for well over half the U.S. GDP”
#13 – LITTLE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS – “Design is often the best ‘tool’”
#14 – LOVE ALL, SERVE ALL – “seek a sustainable edge through incredible service”
#15 – WE’RE HERE TO LIVE LIFE OUT LOUD – “revolutionary times call for revolutionary zeal/leaders”

I think business is about emotion. Period.

That first meeting started our long-running learning event, the First Friday Book Synopsis.  Though we changed locations along the way, to the wonderful Park City Club, all else is the same. Great breakfast; wonderful conversations, and two good book synopses.

Not reviews: synopses!  We always give you the key content of two useful books, each and every month.  People come to learn!

And we have only missed one month in 21 full years – (due to a snow and ice storm).

So a very special thank you all of the authors, the great folks at the Park City Club, and all of you — our fellow learners.

(And a shout out to Karl Krayer — we miss him every month!)

This month, on April 5, we will begin our 22nd year.  Come join us.  Click here to register.


for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive. Click here for the newest additions).

Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for March, 2019 – Bad Blood at #1; Dare to Lead at #2

The New York Times has just published its list of best selling business books for March, 2019.

The multi-month best selling book Bad Blood is at the top spot.  This tells the full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos.

Still in the top 2

Still in the top 2

We have presented synopses of five of these ten books at our monthly event in Dallas, the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I have presented synopses of:  Dare to Lead, Atomic Habits, and Extreme Ownership.  My former colleague Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of Grit, and guest presenter Ed Savage presented his synopsis of Leadership: In Turbulent Times.

(Our synopses are available to purchase at the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page.  Each synopsis comes with our multi-page, comprehensive handout, and the audio recording of our presentation.  Click here for the newest additions to our available synopses}.

Here is this months New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books.  Click here to visit the NY Times page, for links to reviews of some of these books.

#1 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#2 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#3 – Maid by Stephanbie Land
#4 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#5 – Grit by Angela Ducksorth
#6 – From the Ground Up by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon
#7 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#8 – Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
#9 — Leadership by Doris Kearns Goodwin
#10 – Zucked by Roger McNamee

Growth Comes through Better Execution – An Interview with Tom Meyer, Certified Gazelles International Coach

Tom Meyer

Tom Meyer

Tom Meyer, founding President of Thomas E Meyer & Associates, has been a Business Advisor, Coach, & Consultant for over 30 years. He is an expert at growing mid-market companies by strategic planning, execution, cash management, and people decisions; he helps clients achieve enterprise transformation via process improvement.

He is a Certified Gazelles International Coach, and has provided management coaching, consulting, & mentoring to CEOs, COOs, Admirals, and Senior Level Executives in the US and China.

Each Spring, Tom Meyer presents a Scaling Up Workshop in the Dallas area. Click here for information about his May 14, 2019 workshop.

(Tom Meyer sponsored the March First Friday Book Synopsis.  Thanks, Tom).

Here is my interview with Tom Meyer, conducted in March, 2019. (Note:  RM is Randy Mayeux; TM is Tom Meyer):

RM– Tom, let’s start with a clarification and definition. What is a Certified Gazelles International Coach?

TM – Gazelles’ globally recognized coaches leverage the most effective tools and evidence-based best practices to help you achieve results using the trademarked One-Page Strategic Plan outline and Rockefeller Habits Checklist.  Certified coaches will help you assess your goals, identify barriers to growth and develop a personal plan for your company to successfully scale up.

Gazelles Certified Coaches undergo a rigorous training and testing process to become certified and must be recertified annually to ensure we are up to date and meet Gazelles Standards.

With more than 150 coaches worldwide, Gazelles Coaches have helped scores of executives and leadership teams achieve their most ambitious business goals with client companies achieving over $25 Billion combined annual Revenues.

RM — Why would a company need to hire such a coach?

Tom's coaching, and this workshop, are based on the principles found in the book Scaling Up

Tom’s coaching, and this workshop, are based on the principles found in the book Scaling Up

TM – If you’ve gotten as far as you can on your own, Gazelles’ Coaches can help you take your business to the next level. Using proven Scaling Up strategies, your personal coach will advise you on how to successfully execute your strategic plan, build and maintain a corporate culture that consistently achieves results, stay accountable to your company’s mission and goals, and develop new strategic relationships and partnerships to dramatically increase your profitability.

Companies hire Gazelles Coach because they want to achieve a level of Excellence and performance that they have not been able to achieve themselves. Most have studied the Scaling Up process, read the book, Scaling Up—How a Few Companies Succeed and Why Many Fail, heard the testimonials of successful clients, attended a Scaling Up public workshop, and believe that a coach, and the Scaling Up process, is the best way to achieve their 3-5 year growth goals.  One of my CEO clients recently confessed, “I know we would never have done it ourselves; we don’t have the discipline!”

RM – What are some of the key barriers to growth for a company?

TM – Typically the three biggest barriers to growth are:

  • Leadership
  • Infrastructure: Systems & Process
  • Market Dynamics

Those are three huge challenges.  It is the reason that only 4 of 1000 Companies make it to revenues of $10,000,000. It is that hard!

The other huge issue is the 4 Decisions that must be made correctly and a mistake in any area can damage the growth and profitably dramatically or even take the company under:

  • People- Do you have the Right People in the Right Seats doing the Right Things? For those on board for > 1 year, would you rehire all?
  • Strategy-Is the strategy driving sustainable revenue growth? Do you have a written success plan for the next 3-5 years?
  • Cash Flow-How do you manage with internal cashfor sustainable growth?
  • Execution- Is the company executing your plan without drama and with industry leading profitability.

RM — There must be companies, and CEOs, who are not “good clients” for someone like you.  What makes a company a bad client company?  What makes a company a good client company?

TM – A good client has a CEO/Owner who: 1) Is a Learner 2) wants to do better than currently doing and 3) Is Coachable.  Must also be willing and able to afford a coach and consider that an investment vs an expense.

A bad client is one who wants to do everything his/her way, doesn’t delegate, and thinks he/she has all the answers.  A company that is struggling financially is not a good Gazelles Client and may need a turnaround coach.

RM – Why is it not enough for a CEO, and other leaders of a company, to simply read some books about strategy and execution?  Why do they need an “outside” coach to come in and help them out?

TM – One reason is that most CEOs are not experienced at the changing levels of challenge as they grow from startup to Scaling Up; therefore, they screw up.  It would be like reading a book about basketball in high school and then trying to play at an NBA level. Even a great basketball player or golfer needs a coach to move up to the next level of achievement, to stop doing things that hurt them, and to gain new skills.

Another reason is that for CEO’s, generally only an outside Coach can successfully ask the tough questions and hold a CEO accountable.  That is what I get paid to do.  The former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt answers that question so well on YouTube – “Why do I need a coach?”

A third reason is that even experienced CEOs & their teams are usually not successful at executing their plans.  Studies by the big Accounting and Consulting firms show that 91% of organizations do not succeed at meeting their annual plans. They are stuck with their existing organizational paradigms and processes. An outside Coach helps break those paradigms.  I did that in China at the request of Morgan Stanley. Client grew from $80 M to $500 M in 5 years after changes in processes and leadership style and the CEO gave me credit for teaching him to be a CEO.

RM – Do you have statistics on the results for companies bringing in someone such as a Certified Gazelles International Coach?  What kind of track record do you, and your fellow coaches, have with companies?

TM – Our track record historically has been documented as our clients are compared/contrasted to their competitors.

  • 2-3 X the profits and cash flow
  • > 5 X the value
  • And 2-3 X the annual growth of their market place.

Most of my clients grow 15-25% annually once they start Scaling Up with me as a coach.  I have only ever had one client who gave up after 6 months saying “Scaling Up was two hard!” Most clients stay with Gazelles coaches for up to 3 years and many up to 5.  I am still Coaching one CEO since starting in 2013.

Best references are clients like Jimmie Dale of Baker Brothers Plumbing & HVAC, who used Scaling Up to grow from $20,000,000 to almost $50,000,000 before selling to private equity. Most DFW people know of Baker Brothers, and can listen Jimmie’s Testimonial by clicking here.

And here is a more comprehensive Case Study video of Jimmie and Baker Brothers, in New Orleans on Stage with Verne Harnish and me at a Gazelles Summit.

RM – How do you stay current, at the leading edge of the trends and challenges facing companies today?

TM – Yes, Randy that is critical. I read extensively, network, regularly attend Rotary, Success North Dallas, First Friday Book Synopsis where, I get the key content to over 20 books a year, and other DFW meetings. As a Gazelles Coach, I get 40-50 hours of training and recertification annually, plus a weekly newsletter from Verne Harnish and continual weekly updates.  By attending Gazelles Summits twice a year, like the one coming in Atlanta in May, I get to hear 8 of the best business writers and speakers present the latest issues and books. I also have access to 150 other Coaches all around the world at the Summits and on our Coaches Gammar network where I can ask and learn from experts about a specific question. Most importantly, I keep learning from my clients who are confronted with the big changing issues of the business world, like my client in McAllen, TX, who tells me about illegal immigrants at $6-8/hr working for competitors, and geopolitical issues including tariffs being his biggest challenges as he imports from China and sells to US, Mexico, and South American customers.

RM – What other question(s) would you like to answer; and what is your answer to that question/those questions?

Question: when asked by a new CEO, what do you do as a Gazelles Executive Business Coach?  

TM – After initial introduction, my simple answer (my elevator speech) at a meeting or on the golf course is: “I coach CEOs to: 1) grow their business profits 2) have more fun and 3) spend less time managing their business.”

It is amazing how often the immediate response even on the golf course is, “We need to talk!”

RM – How are you different than the over 1000 others in Dallas who offer themselves as Coaches.

TM – As Gazelles we are trained to answer, “What is our Gold Medal as a Coach?” My Gold Medal is in the area of Execution – Meeting and achieving the plans and goals of the organization. The reason that I excel in that area is a combination of education and personal experience. With an MBA from Harvard and a Nuclear Engineering degree from the Naval Academy, I was educated in two of the best Universities in the world to be a critical thinker and problem solver. As a Nuclear Submarine Officer, I learned the disciplines of Execution as we chased Russian Submarines, had missiles that could knock out 48 Russian Cities and war centers, or if we made a mistake, we could contaminate harbors, kill people, or sink a ship.  As a Manager and Executive with two of the finest Fortune 500 companies, I received incredible business training and experience on how to manage people, develop and launch new products, and how to grow a new acquisition in Dallas from $25 million to $200 million in 4 years by acquisitions and new products.  I also bought my own company with Venture Capital Partners, and as CEO grew it 80% in 3 years, and sold it for 6X our purchase price.  That breadth of experience is seldom seen in other coaches in Dallas.

I help clients achieve exceptional growth through better execution and sharing what I have learned over many years.

Question – Why should I attend the May 14 Gazelles Scaling Up Workshop led by Coach Tom Meyer at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas?

TM – The best answer to that comes from Shane Hobbs, CEO, of Dalworth Restoration – “It was a leap of faith to call Gazelles Coach Tom Meyer. I read the book “Scaling Up” and attended the Workshop. Tom was brilliant in how he confidently educated my team and has transformed the way we think and communicate. I am incredibly happy with the impact of the Gazelles program, and firmly believe Dalworth will reach and surpass our sales goal!”

Note – Dalworth grew 28% the first year after doing Scaling Up with no increase in numbers of employees!

Other reasons are: you will learn many things you didn’t know about Scaling Up; be reminded of things you know but aren’t doing; and will leave with a 3-year written plan for successfully Scaling Up.  Why wouldn’t you come, if you want to Scale Up your organization?  And, if you register by tax-day, April 15, I will give you a FFBS special discount to get the lowest price. Click here to send me a direct e-mail.

And Randy, I know you attended this  workshop in an earlier year, and, learned, and contributed.

Thanks for the interview and sharing with your readers.