I teach college at the community college level. I speak to different groups of employees, at different kinds of organizations. And I speak to leadership teams in many different organizations, including many leadership teams of cities. And, I often think about this:
It’s time for another reminder about the basics.
Most of the problems, deficiencies, and dilemmas arise because people are bad at the basics.
What do I mean?
I have some students who seem to be incapable of getting to class on time. That is a problem of the “basics” – like time management, and work ethic. Learning is tough if yoiu don’t show up to learn, and if you don’t do your work as a student.
I have countless stories of people who have trouble working with others. Team conflict; team members not working well to finish projects on time…
These are “basics” issues.
And though this does not seem like a “basics” issue, I recently presented my synopsis of the excellent book by Thomas Siebel, Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction. The book described how many organizations are facing the possibility of extinction because they are not willing to go through the needed digital transformation — mainly “willing” is the right word; but, yes, partly not “able” to. (I’ll post my “lessons and takeaways” from this book in a few days). But in reality, this too is a basics issue: the issue being that people and organizations get so set in their ways that they reject the need to change – they can’t even see the need to change.
Time management; team mastery; dealing with change. These are all issues that are “basic” to business success. As are a few others, such as learning to lead in a way that followers are gathered, developed, nurtured…
And then there are marketing basics; and customer service basics; and…
One area that I know plenty about is public speaking. I teach a workshop on Executive Public Speaking, and I teach Speech at the College Level. I am a fan of breakthrough ideas in communicating messages to persuade. But, really, most bad speakers are simply…bad speakers. They do not speak up; they do not pronounce their words clearly; they do not explain their messages in understandable language; they do not speak with energy, and passion.
In other words, speaking failures, like practically all failures, are failures in the basics.
How are you doing? What basics do you need to master a little bit – ok, a whole lot – better?
Get the basics wrong, and everything goes wrong. Get the basics right, and success becomes much more possible!
Well, it’s been a lot of years since I was a member of that club. But I loved getting one book a month; and I actually read a large number of the selections. There were some great authors. The books genuinely expanded my horizons. They were…wonderful!
I’ve got a modern day version to offer you:
Business Book Synopsis of the Month Club
Here are the elements of this new club:
#1 — Randy Mayeux will pick one book synopsis each month. He has a few to choose from: Randy has presented over 300 synopses of valuable business books since 1998 – at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.
Yes, he will pick the selection. You’ll have to be “surprised.”
#2 – Randy will e-mail you the synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of his presentation delivered at the monthly First Friday Book Synopsis event.
#3 – His e-mail will include a brief introduction; possibly a blog post he has written. And, of course, a folder with the two files; the pdf of the synopsis handout, and the audio recording.
And, #4 – Each e-mail will include a bonus second synopsis handout (handout only; without the audio this time) of a book that compliments and reinforces the selection for the month.
The cost: $5.00 per month. (You can buy one year’s worth for $50.00, and get two month’s free). How to pay: each e-mail will include a link to send the $5.00 payment through PayPal. (Let’s consider it like an “honor system”).
And, every person who signs up will receive an “extra” synopsis: my synopsis of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
- Can I still purchase synopses of the 15minutebusinessbooks.com site? Of course! This is just an added way to learn from the synopses presented by Randy Mayeux. But, you won’t have any user name or password to enter in any web site. Just open the folder, and start reading and listening.
- Can I share this with others? Yes – Randy gives you permission, with the hope that the recipient(s) might decide to join the monthly club.
First Friday Book Synopsis, Dallas, TX
Do you want to succeed in your business endeavors? Here is one way to look at things — You need two things to succeed; good products or services; and good systems to help all your people succeed in their work to make it all come together.
Once you get past what one person can accomplish, now you have a team… and then teams…and then departments, and projects, and more projects, and many more teams.
And each group of people needs to be managed. In other words, you need good managers to work effectively with the people they manage to create good systems to put out those successful products or services.
If you manage people, and especially if you are new to managing people, I have a major book recommendation to make. The book is The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo.
I presented my synopsis of this book at the September 6 First Friday Book Synopsis, and I am ready to say that this is the first book that every new manager should read.
One reason: Julie Zhuo writes from the perspective of a new manager, with expanding management responsibilities. It has the feel of real-word counsel and advice. (Julie Zhuo started out as a designer; then a manager of a small team, then a bigger team, then bigger, then…and now, Vice President of Product Design – all at Facebook. Worth noting: she learned about management (from reading; from experience) as she was starting out as a manager. In other words, this book contains wisdom and insight gained from in-the-moments learning and experience).
For every book that I present, I ask: What is the point? Here is the point of this book: The manager has to help her team be productive and successful. Outcomes! This book is a how-to, step-by-step, do this and do that template for the one who manages others.
Here are some critical definitions/explanations:
- So, what is management? This is the crux of management: It is the belief that a team of people can achieve more than a single person going it alone. It is the realization that you don’t have to do everything yourself, be the best at everything yourself, or even know how to do everything yourself. Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.—And,manager’s excel at the multiplier effect…– the effectiveness of the team is multiplied by the work of the manager with the team
- What constitutes success in management? — a great manager’s team will consistently achieve great outcomes — management is the art of getting a group of people to work together to achieve better outcomes.— A manager’s job is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together through influencing purpose, people, and process.
I always ask, about each book I present, Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book:
#1 – This book is not a textbook. It provides a practitioners game plan. It is a useful book.
#2 – This book is a learn-as-you-go – learn from study, and learn from experience — chronicle of managing in a real-world environment.
#3 – This book provides the independent worker with insight on how to “manage oneself.” With a little imaginative reading, it is a very valuable book for anyone working in any arena.
Here are some key Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted passages:
Still, much of the daily work of managers—giving feedback, creating a healthy culture, planning for the future—is universal.
Making a team function well is harder than it looks. …“Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have.”
Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.
For a leader, giving feedback—both when things are going well and when they aren’t—is one of the most fundamental aspects of the job.
YOUR FEEDBACK ONLY COUNTS IF IT MAKES THINGS BETTER.
A study from Harvard Business School shows that we learn more when we couple our experiences with periodic reflections.
This week’s tasks, meetings, and emails will be little blips lost in the sands of time. What is the greater purpose behind them?
Here are some of the key points I noted from reading the book:
- the two big challenges:
- The first is that people don’t know how to do good work. The second is that they know how, but they aren’t motivated.
- about meetings; first, you really must prepare for every meeting! Then:
- small group
- large, to really large group…
- questions:What’s top of mind for you right now?
- What priorities are you thinking about this week?
- What’s the best use of our time today?
- What does your ideal outcome look like?
- What’s the worst-case scenario you’re worried about?
- How can I help you?
- What can I do to make you more successful?
- Do not tolerate: bullies and assholes…and, At the end of the day, if you don’t believe someone is set up to succeed in his current role, the kindest thing you can do is to be honest with him and support him in moving on.
- You must give feedback; regularly; all the time!
- First: adopt the Growth mindset; not the Fixed mindset
- Set Clear Expectations at the Beginning – e.g., In your first three months on the job, I expect that you’ll build good relationships with your team, be able to ramp up on a small-scale “starter” project, and then share your first design iteration for review. I don’t expect that you’ll get the green light on it right away, but if you do, that would be knocking it out of the park. Here’s what success looks like for the next meeting you run: the different options are framed clearly, everyone feels like their point of view is well represented, and a decision is made.
- give (lots of!) task specificfeedback
- then add behavioral feedback; connecting the dots across multiple examples,
- and, collect 360-Degree Feedbackfor Maximum Objectivity
- give your feedback NOW!
- 1) Make your feedback as specific as possible. 2) Clarify what success looks and feels like. 3) Suggest next steps.
- avoid the “Compliment Sandwich” – it comes across as insincere
- Here’s an idea – someone on your team can probably do _______ better than you can. Let them; empower them…
- Aim for genuine diversity; every kind of diversity! – on your team(s)
- Make sure your vision is clear – “A chicken in every pot” conjures up an image of millions of families enjoying a hearty and substantial meal for supper.
And note this: this book, like almost all good books, is filled with references to, and lessons learned from, many good books. In other words, you need to read more books!!!
- And here are my six lessons and takeaways:
#1 – Once you are a manager of a team, from that moment on, it is about the team’s success. It is not your “skill” in a specific job; it is about the outcomesof the team as a whole! Always focus on that.
#2 – Every person on your team has great strengths. Recognize them for these strengths, celebrate accomplishments, and help them get even better at these elements of their work.
#3 – Every person on your team has flaws; deficiencies; slip-ups. Help them see/identify them, stop them, work on them, and get better.
#4 – Every person on your team – including you – can keep getting better. Help each of them get better, quarter after quarter, year after year.
#5 – Celebrate “growth.” Champion growth.
#6 – You need a coach/some coaches. . And you need to coach others. In other words, people need help to do good work, and get better at their work. Find, and hold on to, good coaches and their coaching.
This book is a step-by-step, do this and then do that and keep doing this template for succeeding as a manager. I put it very high on my list of recommended books.
And, note: what if you are, like me, an “individual practitioner?” I think with a little imagination, you can translate these insights into your own situation; in other words, you may have to do your work, and manage yourself in the process. This book is helloing me in my thinking and planning; it is helping me “manage myself.”
My synopsis of this book will be available soon at the “new additions” tab on this web page. Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation from the First Friday Book Synopsis, our monthly gathering in Dallas.
The First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas — is a book club where you don’t have to read the book!
Announcement: Malcolm Gladwell has a new book!
You almost want to shout that out, don’t you?! A new Malcolm Gladwell book ranks right up there with a new Daniel Silva book – you want to read it the day it hits!
I have presented synopses of four earlier books by Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and David and Goliath. (His other book, What the Dog Saw, is actually a collection of his essays from the New Yorker; not quite a “book book”).
So, now, a new book from Gladwell. I’ve already read one not-so-favorable review. But, even in that review, you can still tell what makes Gladwell so very valuable. He is a superior story teller. And that skill makes for wonderful reading. And, maybe, it is ok to argue within oneself with some of Gladwell’s lessons and n conclusions about those stories.
I will be presenting my synopsis of Talking to Strangers, his new book, at the October 4 First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. I can’t wait!
In addition, I will present my synopsis of another new book The Optimist’s Telescope. It sounds terrific!
This morning, just under 100 people gathered for our September session. We are in our 22ndyear of these book-centered synopsis gatherings. If you are in Dallas on October 4, come join us. (You will be able to register soon from this web site).
Here is the flier with all the details. Share it around. Bring a friend, or two. After all, there is always the next new thing to learn!
The New York Times has just published its list of Best Selling Business Books for September, 2019. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown is back at the top spot; and not for the first time.
I presented my synopsis of this book at the January, 2019 First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas – our monthly book-centered event now in our 22ndyear. I think this book has hit quite a nerve!
Of the ten books, we have presented synopses of six of them at our Dallas event. I presented Dare to Lead, Range, Atomic Habits, Outliers, and Extreme Ownership. And my former colleague, Karl Krayer, presented Thinking, Fast and Slow.
One observation: the books by Gladwell, Kahneman, and the former Navy SEALs Willink and Babin, have been on this list, frequently reappearing, for a long time! I guess you could call them perennial best sellers.
As I have blogged often, there is nothing quite like reading a good book. There are some exceptional ones in this month’s list; certainly worthy of your time.
Here are the top ten best selling business books for September. Click over to the New York Times site for links to reviews of a few of these books.
#1 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#2 – Range by David Epstein
#3 – Atomic Habits by James Celar
#4 – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
#5 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#6 – I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition by Ramit Sethi
#7 – Kochland by Christopher Leonard
#8 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#9 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babib
#10 – Dopesick by Beth Macy
You can purchase my synopses from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page. Both Dare to Lead and Range are currently featured on our newest additions page, here. Each synopsis comes with my multipage, comprehensive synopsis handout (usually 9-10 pages), and the audio recording of my presentation from our First Friday Book Synopsis event.
I’ve just finished reading Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel. (I will be presenting my synopsis of this book this Friday at the September 6 First Friday Book Synopsis).
Like all good books, it is both worth reading, and it is filled with references to other good books. In other words, it gives you a quite valuable book reading list.
In this book, Mr. Siebel recommends, in the strongest terms, that leaders (executives) put together an executive reading list, and then systematically read through the books selected. Yes, he does include his book recommendations for books related to the issue of digital transformation.
But here’s what grabbed me. Mr. Siebel, and many other authors – and leaders — just assume that a top-level leader is reading books.
Reading serious books.
Reading serious books seriously – as a student; reading to learn — not just as a casual reader.
In other words, you’ve got some learning to do — learning from reading serious books — and it will be a real mistake to not tackle such learning assignments.
Reading important books may be the overlooked survival skill.
I’m not surprised to realize his. I have been reading important books for a very long time. We are in the 22nd year of our First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. Each month, I read two important, carefully selected books, and prepare multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handouts for each. I try to help my audience understand the key lessons and the key takeaways from each book.
But, as diligently as I try to share what I’ve learned form these books, I know that I understand them more deeply because of how carefully and thoroughly I read them. I read every word – slowly. And then, I go through my dozens of pages of highlighted passages, preparing my synopsis handouts.
And, I think I have learned a thing of two from all the books I have read.
What about you? Do you have a reading stack? Are the books carefully selected? Are you systematic in your book reading? Are you current; maybe slightly ahead of others in your understanding, because of the books you read?
This much I know: this is not a good time to fall behind. Reading important books may be the overlooked survival skill. You’ve probably got some more reading to do…
One of the books Mr. Siebel recommends highly is The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. He says: “This is a visionary work that addresses art of the possible. Motivating and inspiring.” I agree. You can purchase my synopsis of this terrific book by clicking here. (And click here for our newest synopses available).