Categories: book

RSS - Atom - Subscribe via email

From the book bag

Posted: - Modified: | book, entrepreneurship, finance, reading, sketches

I love reading. Love love love love.

reading

Here are a few more books:

image Fight For Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune
David Bach, 2009

Decent reference, useful form letters. Nothing too surprising in terms of advice. I like this more than his other books, which tend to hammer in the Latte Factor a bit much. Good to give to people who are just starting out in Canada.

The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By
Scott A. Shane, 2008

Surprising data-driven insights into entrepreneurship. Depressing in some places (such as when he’s looking at the statistics for women and entrepreneurship), and encouraging in others (such as when it comes to capitalizing new businesses). Something to read in a library.

How are these Friday book reviews working out for you? How can I make them better?

View or add comments

Book: Beyond Booked Solid

Posted: - Modified: | book, career, delegation, management, reading
Beyond Booked Solid: Your Business, Your Life, Your Way Its All Inside
Michael Port, 2008

(This link is an Amazon affiliate link, but if you’re near a public library, take advantage of it. I borrowed this book from the Toronto Public Library. =) )

Michael Port’s follow-up to Booked Solid focuses on how to grow your business beyond yourself, and is an excellent read for people interested in taking the next step.

I’m curious about the A3 Reports he describes on pp. 61-62. The A3 Report summarizes a business situation on a single sheet of 11.7”x16.5” paper. It would be interesting to use this structure to think through personal situations as well. =) (I guess I’m weird that way.)

  • Title of report, name, and related information
  • Theme/objective
  • Current situation analysis
  • Root cause analysis
  • Alternatives
  • Recommendations
  • Future state picture
  • Implementation plan

On page 94, he also provides some tips on making things happen, and then he fleshes them out over the next pages.

  • Collaborate.
  • Adopt practices for exploring a variety of perspectives.
  • Coordinate meticulously.
  • Listen generously.
  • Build relationships intentionally.
  • Have clear intentions.
  • Develop habits of commitment making and fulfilling.
  • Tightly couple learning with action.
  • Call on your talents.
  • Bring your passion to the project.
  • Embrace uncertainty.
  • Have a compelling story for your project.

On page 146, he offers tips and outsourcing work to other firms. He firmly believes that you shouldn’t outsource in a way that creates a single point of failure for your business. If you work with firms and document your systems well, you can get back up and running after unexpected difficulties.

On page 173, he makes a particularly good point relevant for public speakers. He says, “Before I give a speech, I need to be careful not to try to create a particular energy. Instead I tap into the audience’s energy. We all need to tap into the energy of the people we’re working with. There’s only so long you can be an energetic cheerleader for a project if the people around you need to be manipulated into corresponding energetic responses. I’m sure you’ve all thought how your energy level rises around people who are excited about the work they’re doing or, for that matter, how your energy lifts with someone who has a zest for life.”

Another good take away can be found on page 177, where he advises, “Schedule fun once a day — after your normal working schedule.” This not only helps you include your productivity by encouraging you to be more efficient, it also helps you manage your energy.

Worth reading, particularly if you’re interested in scaling up.

View or add comments

Book: On Becoming a Leader

Posted: - Modified: | book, career, leadership, reading

Norman Lear would add to this that the goal isn’t worth arriving at unless you enjoy the journey. “You have to look at success, incrementally,” he said. “It takes too long to get to any major success…. If one can look at life as being successful on a moment-by-moment basis, one might find that most of it is successful. And take the bow inside for it. When we wait for the big bow, it’s a lousy bargain. They don’t come but once in too a long time. ” (p.51)

No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders.

So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely — all your skills, gifts, and energies — in order to make your vision manifest. (p.111-112)

On Becoming A Leader: Revised Edition
Warren Bennis

(Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. That said, I recommend checking out your local library. I got this book from the Toronto Public Library, yay!)

Many people worked long hours and sacrifice other parts of their lives in order to achieve career success. They want the executive title, the high salaries, the decision-making power, and the recognition. I don’t think that kind of career lifestyle is a great fit for me. Instead of sacrificing so much for a big potential payoff, I’d rather focus on living well at each step, and feeling successful in each moment. The core of my work is figuring out who I am, what talents I can bring, and what difference I can make.

What could help you express yourself more fully?

View or add comments

Book: Rules for Revolutionaries

Posted: - Modified: | book, reading
Rules For Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services
Guy Kawasaki, 2000

The most relevant chapter for me was that about eating like a bird and pooping like an elephant. Consume lots of information from diverse sources, and share it liberally. Here’s what Guy has to say about sharing:

Here are the four things you need to do to spread (and receive) information in the most efficient ways:

  • Get over the paranoia. First things first: stop worrying about the negative effects of spreading information to other parts of your company as well as colleagues and competitors. Sure, be judicious about what you share, but err on the side of sharing too much.
  • Make it simple, correct, and frequent. Spent efficiency by making the information in preparing simple and correct; and do the spreading often. The better and more frequent the information you provide, the better and more frequent information you get back.
  • Use the Web! B. I. (Before Internet), spreading information had large costs: printing, travel, entertaining, and long-distance telephone charges. Circa 1998, the Web has reduced those costs and made information available around the world.
  • Get all levels involved. Information spreading, like pressing flesh, needs to be democratized and institutionalized. Enable all parts of the company to share in their special knowledge whether the function is research or copyright law.

p131, Guy Kawasaki, Rules for Revolutionaries

Worth a read, maybe in the library.

View or add comments

Book: The Hamster Revolution for Meetings

| book, management, productivity, reading
The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to Meet Less and Get More Done
Mike Song, Vicki Halsey, and Tim Buress, 2009

(This link is an Amazon affiliate link, but if you’re near a public library, take advantage of it. I borrowed this book from the Toronto Public Library. =) )

Reading voraciously—almost indiscriminately—has its benefits. Despite cheesy gimmicks, The Hamster Revolution for Meetings turned out to have surprisingly good tips that take virtual meetings into account.

Tips for all meetings are on page 20, paraphrased here:

  • P: Priority: Make sure meetings relate to your top goals for the year.
  • O: Objenda™: Make sure your meetings have a clear objective and an agenda that supports it. Use meeting templates to make sure you share the objective, agenda, and other details up front. As an organizer, have someone responsible for keeping the meeting on track. As a participant, take the initiative in helping the meeting stay on track.
  • S: Shorten: Shorten your meetings. Schedule 20-minute or 50-minute meetings to give people some breathing space.
  • E: E-vailable™: Make sure your calendar reflects all of your commitments. If possible, color-code your calendar to show priorities and balance.

For Web meetings, she suggested a number of things we already do (use Web conferences, chat channels, surveys, etc.). She added a few more tips I’m going to think about and try, including a Mystery team member icebreaker (p61). She also provides an excellent checklist for managing virtual meetings on p77, which include tips for preventing problems and controlling damage. The key ones I’m going to add to my routine are:

  • Arrive early: use the 30/15 Rule
  • Create a technical difficulties slide
  • Determine secondary communication plan
  • Have a disaster recovery plan

Worth reading and summarizing in your personal notes.

View or add comments

Book: Making Work Work

Posted: - Modified: | book, productivity, reading

 

Making Work Work: New Strategies for Surviving and Thriving at the Office
Julie Morgenstern, 2004

Making Work Work

In every industry I consult in, I’ve noticed that the top-tier performers are deeply committed to their work/life balance. They may be working long hours, but they are very thoughtful about their leisure, so that they make excellent use of time away from the office. This is a critical skill—especially if you’re working long hours, because you have fewer hours to play with in the first place.

The most successful workers create a balance that ensures they are energized, refreshed, and renewed every day. Their balancing act isn’t perfect, and it requires constant attention — but they are vigilant about maintaining that balance, because they appreciate the continuity between home and rest, work and productivity.

p21, Julie Morgenstern, Leading Out Loud

p136 to 139 have a great table of tips on how to make meetings more effective, whether you’re the chair or a participant.

The book also contains an excellent chapter on mastering delegation. The suggested tasks focus on face-to-face assistance, but there are many great tips that you can apply to virtual assistance as well.

Lots of great advice. Well worth re-reading as you apply tips.

View or add comments

Reflections on passion: Don’t let your job get in the way of your career

Posted: - Modified: | book, career, ibm, passion, purpose, reading, reflection, work

“We criticize senior management when they focus only on short-term issues, allowing quarterly results to interfere with longer-term developmental needs. We should be equally tough on ourselves when we allow our jobs to get in the way of our careers.”

– a consulting client quoted on p.25 of

Million Dollar Consulting
Alan Weiss, 2009 (4th ed)

(Disclosure: The book is an Amazon affiliate link. That said, I recommend checking out your local library. I got this book from the Toronto Public Library, yay!)

In my two years an at IT specialist / consultant at IBM, I’ve been lucky to have excellent engagements that helped me develop my skills and create real value. I have a great job, and I’m sure it will get even better as I learn how to consciously build a career. What kind of career do I want to grow into?

I’m passionate about helping people connect and collaborate. I want people to be able to contribute their talents from anywhere in the world, and I want to help organizations get better at finding and tapping those skills. I want to reduce the friction in collaboration and make it easier to get leverage on time and effort. I want to increase the serendipitous connections and innovative cross-pollinations that come from diverse conversations. When people can connect with others who are passionate about the work that they do, energy spreads and is reinforced, and people can make things happen faster and more effectively. People are happier, too.

The past two years at IBM have been almost a perfect curriculum for this. I started out by building systems with social components. Then I moved into providing consulting services to our clients, sharing the lessons we’ve learned about strategy and adoption. My current engagement is an even better fit for my passions. Now I’m learning even more about tapping the strength of a global organization, finding experts and resources in response to client needs. I’m not only building training communities and facilitating global conversations, I’m describing how we do this and working on training other people on how to make the most of these social networks.

In addition to that, I’m helping develop leadership training materials around virtual communication and connection. This has multiple benefits. The better we get at leading online through virtual presentations, meetings, and collaboration, the more effectively we can share help our globally distributed workforce develop skills, learn from insights, and create value. The better we understand how to do this, the more we enable people in far-flung places to step up and lead from wherever they are.

It all goes back to that passion: helping people connect and collaborate.

Looking ahead, how do I want to develop this over the next few years? What do I want to grow into once we’ve done the heavy lifting of training a thousand specialists around the world?

I want to figure out how social tools can help us transform our processes and interactions, and what those processes and interactions look like. I’m doing a little of this now, experimenting with and documenting how we use the tools. I can’t wait to see what this will be like years from now, as the tools improve and the culture adapts. I’ll get better and better at seeing patterns, suggesting improvements, documenting practices, helping people change the way they work, and measure the results. I want to create value both inside and outside the company.

I want to not only connect people, but also help other people connect people more effectively. I’m doing a little of this now by directing people to communities and sharing tips on how to reach out, but it would be amazing to help hundreds or thousands of connectors add more tools to their toolbox. It’s like working on the connective tissue of an organization. The better we get at this, the faster and more effectively we can respond to the changing environment.

I want to help people get that Aha! moment. This is why I love learning about communication. Good questions and good explanations open up new horizons of possibilities, simplify complex issues, and energize people. I can get better at this through practice and through learning new skills.

IBM is an excellent laboratory in which to learn about all these things. Even tasks that don’t seem to align with my passion end up being related to it, as I’m good at drawing connections to things I like. If I was forced to do work that drained me and I couldn’t flip it around and figure out the kernel that’s related to my passion, I can see myself exploring this passion independently. After all, you shouldn’t let your job get in the way of your career.

How does your work support your passion? If it doesn’t, what could?

View or add comments