Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

"Good to Great and the Social Sectors" claim that the "Good to Great" concepts are applicable to social sectors too, with little or no modification. Jim compares and contrasts the difference in challenges between business sector & social sector. The amount of research done to substantiate the material is less when compared to the original "Good to Great". However, the facts presented are convincing enough.

Reading "Good to Great" is a pre-requisite for this book. You would not be able to fully appreciate the material without reading "Good to Great". This book compares the challenges of Social sector and business sector, in great detail. I would recommend this book for leaders of non-profit organizations.

Author's website:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Are you interested to know how WalMart, IBM & HP became superior organizations? Jim & Jerry present their findings about these successful companies and many more. Some of the key take aways from this book are "Preserve the Core Ideology & Stimulate Progress", "Try a lot of stuff and keep that works", & "Companies built just for generating profits do not become superior".

Have you been postponing your entrepreneurial venture just because you couldn't find a 'niche'? The authors give a variety of examples where some of the great companies didn't start with just one particular idea or product. They tried a number of things before they found their 'magic formula' for success.

I still couldn't completely buy-in to the "Home Grown Management" concept. May be the authors didn't do a good job of convincing me enough.

The style and the tone of this book resembles "Good to Great". If I had to compare this book with "Good to Great", I'm honest that "Good to Great" was very valuable.

If you really wanted to know the strengths of the companies that are "Built to last", you should read this book.

Author's website:

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It

Do you work hard but do not get the promotion that you deserve? Do you feel shy to talk about yourself? Are you unable to impress the interviewers when you look for job? Well, here is your magical guide.

Peggy Klaus explains how you should be prepared with 'bragologues' for different situations. The author gives you some techniques that you can start using right away.

The author gives several examples, most of them were involving (and for) women. I strongly believe the bragging problems that men have are different than what women have. I wish the author had some additional material to cover the 'bragging' problems & solutions that are specific to men.

Overall, this book was an interesting & quick read.

Author's website:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Relationship Edge in Business: Connecting with Customers and Colleagues When It Counts

Are you trying to find ways of building or extending your network? Are you interested in learning some techniques to improve your business relationships? Jerry Acuff gives the tool kit that you can carry with you.

This book talks about the different types of relationship levels that you can have with others ("The Relationship Pyramid"). This book highlights a number of techniques that includes questioning, caring, connecting, and setting up goals. The book not only helps you to develop relationships but also to maintain them.
If you have already read a few books about developing relationships or networking, this book will just be a review of the techniques that you previously learned in the other books.

The book gives a lot of real life situations & examples that makes it an interesting read.

Author's website:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Are you a sales person, professional trainer, fund raiser or a public speaker? Do you find it difficult to plant your ideas in people's mind? Are you looking for effective ways to share your thoughts with others? This is the book to read.

The book explains 6 principles that make ideas to stick - Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Credibility, Concreteness, Emotions & Stories (SUCCESs).

Key takeaways from the book are :

  1. Six principles that make ideas stick - simplicity, unexpectedness, credibility, emotions, concreteness and stories
  2. Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images - because our brains are wired to remember visuals
  3. Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encountered that situation in the physical environment
  4. Common sense is the enemy of sticky messages. When messages sound like common sense, they float gently in one ear and out the other
  5. To get the facts, you tracked down the 5 Ws - Who, What, When, Why and Where
  6. Abstractness makes it harder to understand an idea and remember it. Concreteness helps us to avoid these problems. 

When reading this book, you'll feel many a times "Ahaa... this is what I've been missing all these days". If you review some of the memorable speeches you've heard, you'll realize that these STICKY factors are present in them.

This book gives you techniques that you can use in your next speech or presentation.

Author's website:

How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online

Do you hesitate to approach strangers in a social gathering? Do you wonder how some people have good contacts and a solid network? Are you looking for tips to hone your networking skills? Susan's "How to work a room" capsule is the right medicine for your phobia.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Extending yourself to people feels risky, but the benefits are well worth the discomfort
  2. Think about what you have in common with people at an event before you get there. Identifying the common ground can help you break the ice
  3. The people who are the most successful at working a room are those who genuinely like, respect and trust other people
  4. Have different self-introductions for different events
  5. Eye contact and being in the moment are critical in building rapport
  6. A sincere interest in people is the most important part of being a good conversationalist. 
  7. Always introduce the “less important” person to the “more important” person
  8. Talk to those different from you… as you would talk to those who are LIKE you

If this is your first book on "networking", you'll be able to appreciate the contents in its entirety. The book also highlights some techniques to adopt in the online/virtual world. If you've already read books or materials on this subject, you'll feel that portions of the book is boring. The book also gives some tips for public speakers to work the audience.

This book is worth a quick read.

Author's website:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sales Success: Motivation From Today's Top Sales Coaches (Audio Success Series)

Do you want a few quick tips to be a successful sales person? Do you want to get inspired and motivated to pursue your self-development goals? You should listen to this audio deck. Though the compilation is called "Sales Success", it is useful for anyone who aspires to be successful. You don't have to be a sales person.
The CDs cover all topics including selling techniques, leadership, communication, networking, negotiation, and memorizing people's names. You would also get to know the different styles of persuasion. I like the ones from Zig Ziglar & Patricia Fripp. Imagine going to a convention where all these great speakers are present in the stage talking just to YOU. That is the experience you would get from listening to this collection.

These CDs are good ones to listen to while driving your car or when going for a morning walk/jogging.

Mastering Your Way to the Top: Secrets for Success from the World's Greatest Salesman and America's Leading Businesspeople

Joe has really worked all the way to the top. His techniques are simple and easy to use. Most of these techniques are well known if you had read other books about being successful. Joe talks about goal setting, hard work, team work, networking, patience, risk taking and motivation.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Never forget where you came from
  2. Dreaming about something and hoping it will fall into your lap automatically is simply a wishful thinking
  3. The secret of life is to know what you want, write it down, then commit yourself to accomplishing it
  4. Nothing ventured, nothing gained
  5. One of the most important factors in mastering your way to the top in business is to be in the company of “can-do” people
  6. Six simple steps to success - patience, thought, perseverance, need for people, team work and networking

Joe teaches you how to remain focussed on your goals and reach them. "Law of 250" was something that I've never heard of. It was interesting to know.

If you want to know about Joe Girard - the world's successful sales man and how he mastered his way to the top - this is the book to read.

Author's website:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Story Factor

How can you highlight the importance of telling stories ? "Well ... by telling stories !" says Annette.

This book not only tells you "Why stories are important", but also tells you "How you can use them". There are enough stories in this book to sustain your interest. I bet, it will be hard for you to gobble through the material. Take time to read the material to assimilate the wealth of information.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Manipulation is an inferior method of influence. Telling an authentically persuasive story is a much more powerful source of influence
  2. A fact is like a sack - it won’t stand up if it is empty. To make it stand up, first you have to put it in all the reasons and feelings that cause it in the first place.
  3. The greatest crime you can commit as a story teller is to bore your listeners
  4. No matter whom you want to influence, a story that promises a bright future will cooperate as a primary motivating force to encourage cooperation

Will this book make you an overnight story teller? NO. Will this book put you on the right path towards improving your story telling skills? YES. The author persuades you to use stories to get the attention of audience. However, storytelling is an art. You'll need lots of practice to master it.

Author's website:

Getting Past No

What would you do if you face a big NO during negotiation? This book trains you well to handle such challenges. The techniques are very practical. I felt that this book is lot more better than the hypothetical Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. The five most common real world barriers that get in the way of cooperation are: your reaction, their emotion, their position, their dissatisfaction and their power
  2. Rather than pressurizing your adversary to change their mind, create an environment in which they can learn. Only they can break through their own resistance. Your job is to just help them.
  3. The secret of effective negotiation is simple - PREPARATION
  4. There are 3 kinds of alternatives in a negotiation - walk-way alternative, interactive alternative and third-party alternative (with a mediation)
  5. Stepping to the adversary’s side means doing 3 things - listen, acknowledge and agree
  6. How you ask something is just as important as what you ask
  7. Ask a question that cannot be answered by a NO
  8. If you observe the practice of successful negotiators, you’ll find that they ask countless questions. 

The author teaches 5 simple negotiation techniques - Get perspective of the situation by 'going to the balcony', step to the adversary's side, re-frame adversary's thoughts and beliefs, build them a golden bridge. If any of the above 4 techniques don't help you - use power to educate your adversaries. The author has cautiously avoided using the word 'adversary'. He recommends everyone to take a 'co-operative' approach and not a 'manipulative' approach.

If there is one thing that is more important than any of the suggested techniques - it is PREPARATION. "The best place to make mistakes is in rehearsing with a friend or colleague, not in negotiating for real". This echoes Jim Champ's "Practice sessions provide you an environment to fail safely" theory.

The importance of having a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is re-enforced in this book. Overall, this is a very good book to read to improve your negotiation skills.

Author's website:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Jim Collins, in his book "Good to Great" explains how good companies can transform into great companies. He explains what kind of leadership traits can make a company great. He also shares some techniques to build organizations that can achieve and sustain greatness. Anyone who is serious about developing skills in business management, this is a MUST to read.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Good to great transformation process: Disciplined people, disciplined thoughts and disciplined actions
  2. People are not the company’s important assets. The right people are.
  3. You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit
  4. Confront the brutal facts, but yet never lose the faith
  5. The executives who ignited the good to great transformation first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and then figured out how to drive it. 
  6. The right people will do the right things and deliver the best results they’re capable of, regardless of the incentive system
  7. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities and not on your biggest problems. 
  8. Stop doing lists are important than todo lists
  9. Doing what you are good at, will only make you good. Focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than other organizations is the only path to greatness. 

The 48 Laws of Power

Do you think that you are not getting the credit for your work? Did you ever feel left out in discussions or meetings? Do you find it hard to create dependency? Were you curious how some of your colleagues move up in the ladder fast? Well, this book is just for you.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Anger is the most destructive of emotional responses, for it clouds your vision the most
  2. It is even more damaging for an minister to say foolish things than to do them
  3. An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power. Power’s crucial foundation is the ability to master your emotions
  4. A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without you having to spend much energy
  5. People feel superior to persons whose actions they can predict
  6. The ultimate power is to get the people do as you wish
  7. When you meet a swordsman draw your sword. Do not recite poetry to one who is not a poet. 

The author clearly defines the "48 laws" that can help you in gaining power. The author not only talks about situations where you can apply these 'techniques' but also warns you of situations where you shouldn't. The references from history was kind of too much and was going above my head.

These techniques will serve as an armor, if your work environment expects you to play politics. If you don't play them right, some of these ploys may also bring you down from power.

This material is a good source of techniques to be aware of. It will help especially when people try to play these tricks on you.

Author's website:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Starting with NO by Jim Camp

Jim Camp provides a contrarian view of doing negotiations. "Starting with NO" is an interesting read from the beginning till the end. The author teaches you a number of effective ways to do negotiations.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. There is nothing called “win-win” in negotiations
  2. “NO” is a decision. An early “Yes”is probably a trick. “Maybe” gets you nowhere
  3. "Win-Win" is often "Win-Lose" because it invites unnecessary compromise. It is emotion based and not decision based
  4. Greatest weakness in negotiation is the "dangers of neediness"
  5. Fear of rejection is a sign of neediness
  6. Cold-Calling is the worst way to do business. But, it is a great training ground for negotiation because your neediness is under control
  7. We feel OK in the presence of inferior people and we feel not OK in the presence of superiors
  8. Saying NO, inviting NO, hearing NO - these are powerful tools for any well trained negotiator
  9. Never save the adversary, but save the relationship. Otherwise, you'll be responsible for their decisions. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

This is one of the best books that I've read about Product Management. If you are Product Manager or if you aspire to be a Product Manager, this book is a must to read.

You'll learn how to take a product through the different stages of technology adoption and into the mass market. The author explains some challenges faced by organizations in crossing the chasm and how they can effectively cross them.

Some key takeaways from the book are:

  1. There are 5 stages of technology adoption - Innovators, Early Adoptors, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards 
  2. Marketing must refocus away from selling products towards creating relationships
  3. Marketing’s first deliverable should be partnerships 
  4. Watch out for the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) that can plague decision makers when confronted with unfamiliar products or services 

Friday, February 22, 2008

Improving your story telling by Doug Lipman

Improving your story telling by Doug Lipman teaches you techniques that you can follow to tell powerful stories.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Many storytellers are less effective than they could be, simply because they try to apply written-language concepts to the oral language of story telling.
  2. In a book, the reader who forgets whether the story began in a specified year can at worst, turn to the opening page to reread them. A story listener, however has no way to “rewind” except in her memory
  3. No two story tellers will tell the same story identically. No two audience members will hear the story in the same way.
  4. Different ways of creating vivid imagery are - visual, auditory, kinesthetic (touch), verbal and smell. 
  5. The listener has no second chance to hear what was said previously. The oral story teller must rewind the listeners wherever the term or character is mentioned. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Millionaire Mind

"The harder you work, the luckier you become" - This has been the mantra of many millionaires surveyed by Thomas Stanley. The author has harped on millionaires' lifestyle, their habits, their attitude and some of their secrets for success. Of course, he corroborates them. I was surprised to know that millionaires were not created by trading stocks or playing lotto :) The content overall could have been condensed. Anyways, it was not very boring. I'm now more tempted to read "The Millionaire Next Door". I would recommend this book to people who wants to know some secrets behind millionaires' success.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Big home owners (who are at big debt and who are experts in filling loan applications) are “income statement affluent”. Millionaires are “Balance Sheet Affluent”. They focus on accumulating wealth. They have little or no outstanding credit balances
  2. Foundation stones for financial success are Integrity, Discipline, Social Skills, a Supportive Spouse and Hardwork (working harder than most people)
  3. There is a strong correlation between one’s willingness to take financial risks and one’s level of wealth. It is less about investing in the stock market and much more about investing in ourselves, our careers, our professional practices, our private businesses and so forth
  4. Millionaires do not follow the crowd in what they sell and how they invest.
  5. Majority of the millionaires exercise regularly

Author's website:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How to get rich by Donald Trump

In the book, "How to get rich" by Donald Trump and Meredith McIver, the authors explain techniques that you can follow to get rich. They also explain habits and traits that millionaires exhibit.

Key takeaways from the book are:

  1. Money is not an end in itself, but it is sometimes the most effective way to help us realize our dreams
  2. Begin working at a young age, to become rich
  3. If you are careful when recruiting employees, management becomes easier
  4. Even the best surgeon needs to be retrained regularly to stay current on the latest research and procedures
  5. Don’t expect your employees to work harder than you do
  6. Be optimistic, but always be prepared for the worst
  7. Don’t let anyone be your yardstick. That’s taking power away from yourself in a big way
  8. Millionaires never try to do another man’s job
  9. Never borrow long term with the prospects of short-term income
  10. If you love, absolutely love what you are doing, chances are excellent that you’ll succeed