Tag Archives: Business Week

Do You Know Martin Lindstrom?

On Friday, August 5, I present a synopsis of the best-selling business book, Small Data:  The Tiny Clues that Unocover Huge Trends” (New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 2016) at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  You can register by clicking HERE.

But, you may not know much about the author, Martin Lindstrom.  Here is a bio from the Washington Speakers’ MartinLindstromPictureBureau that represents him (see citation below).

“Martin Lindstrom was named one of TIME magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Influential People” and is the author of several New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling books, including Buyology (Doubleday, New York, 2008), Brandwashed (Crown, New York, 2011) and Small Data (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). He is a trusted brand-and-innovation advisor to numerous Fortune 100 companies, including McDonald’s Corporation, PepsiCo, American Express, Microsoft, Nestlé, The Walt Disney Company and GlaxoSmithKline.

 “Lindstrom is recognized as one of the world’s leading brand experts, having pioneered the introduction of brands on the Internet (1994), using our five senses in branding (2004), introducing neuroscience in advertising (2007) and exploring the next generation of subconscious communication (2010). He was named a top “Thinkers50 Global Management Thinker” in 2015.

 “Due to his groundbreaking work, Lindstrom often features in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, The Independent, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. He regularly appears on ABC, CNN, CBS, FOX and the BBC.

 “Buyology was voted “pick of the year” by USA Today, and it appeared on ten of the Top 10 best seller lists in the U.S. and worldwide, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. His book BRANDsense was acclaimed by The Wall Street Journal as “…one of the five best marketing books ever published.” His books on branding have been translated into more than 50 languages and published in more than 70 countries worldwide.

 “Lindstrom is a regular contributor to Fast Company, TIME and NBC’s Today with his popular “Main Street Makeover” TV series.”

Source:  https://www.washingtonspeakers.com/speakers/biography.cfm?SpeakerID=4168

Let’s Make It Here: Recommendations from a Successful Source

It is difficult to determine the intent behind the message in Dan DiMicco‘s book, American Made:  Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness (Palgrave, 2015).

The book is a call for a return to an emphasis in manufacturing in America.  He believes that putting people to work making things instead of serving things is the way back to prosperity.

It is not that the government did not try.  In 2009, a federal stimulus program provided $787 billion, but the book cites evidence that only $60 billion actually went to programs that created jobs.

But is this a book that actually pats himself on the back?  He is certainly credible, and his track record is extremely strong.  DiMicco led Nucor, a steel company, from 2000 through 2013.  His record was impressive.  Under his leadership, Nucor tripled its revenue, provided investors more than 700% return on their investment, and increased profits more than 600%.  Beyond that, the company also held its own.  Nucor has been in the steel business for more than 42 years, and has never laid off an employee, and has always paid a dividend to shareholders.

This is DiMicco’s second book.  In 2006, he wrote Steeling America’s Future (Vox Populi).  You can still buy that book in paperback through many Internet sources.

I found this biography of DiMicco on Bloomberg.com:

“Mr. Daniel R. DiMicco, also known as Dan, has been Director of Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC since 2007. Mr. DiMicco has been an Independent Director of Duke Energy Corporation or its DanDiMiccoPicturepredecessor companies since October 2007. Mr. DiMicco served as General Manager of Nucor-Yamato Steel Company. Mr. DiMicco served as the Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation from September 2000 to December 31, 2012 and served as its Chairman from May 2006 to December 31, 2012. He served as the President of Nucor Corporation at Nucor Building Systems Sales Corporation from September 2000 to December 2010. He served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC. He served as an Executive Vice President of Nucor Corporation, from 1999 to 2000 and its Vice President from 1992 to 1999. Mr. DiMicco was the Chairman Emeritus of Nucor Corporation since December 2013. He served as the Executive Chairman at Nucor Corporation from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. He served as the Chairman of the American Iron & Steel Institute until November 2011. He served as Vice Chairman of American Iron & Steel Institute from November 2011 to May 2013. He served as Vice Chairman at Nucor Corporation from June 2001 to May 2006. He served as a Director of Nucor Corporation from 2000 to December 31, 2013.”

This is a summary of the book that was published by Amazon.com:

AmericanMadeCover“American manufacturing is on life support–at least, that’s what most people think. The exodus of jobs to China and other foreign markets is irreversible, and anything that is built here requires specialized skills the average worker couldn’t hope to gain. Not so, says Dan DiMicco, chairman and former CEO of Nucor, America’s largest steel company. He not only revived a major US manufacturing firm during a recession, but helped galvanize the flagging domestic steel industry when many of his competitors were in bankruptcy or headed overseas. In American Made, he takes to task the politicians, academics, and political pundits who, he contends, are exacerbating fears and avoiding simple solutions for the sake of nothing more than their own careers, and contrasts them with the postwar leaders who rebuilt Europe and Japan, put a man on the moon, and kept communism at bay. We need leaders of such resolve today, he argues, who can tackle a broken job-creation engine by restoring manufacturing to its central role in the U.S. economy–and cease creating fictitious “service businesses” where jobs evaporate after a year or two, as in a Ponzi scheme.  With his trademark bluntness, DiMicco tackles the false promise of green jobs and the hidden costs of outsourcing. Along the way, he shares the lessons he’s learned about good leadership, crisis management, and the true meaning of innovation, and maps the road back to robust economic growth, middle-class prosperity, and American competitiveness.”

Not surprisingly, DiMicco is not a supporter of American companies which could have developed their own technologies and resources, but instead, partnered with Chinese firms in order to gain revenue and profits.

The Amazon.com customer reviews are extremely supportive.  As always, we really don’t know where they came from, and how they got there.  But, it appears that this book provides a wake-up call for Americans who have forgotten their roots.  Indeed, in a review published in the Wall Street Journal, Charles R. Morris, a fellow at the Century Foundation, says:  “Few of Mr. DiMicco’s recommendations are original and few people will agree with everything he says.  But, the book is a cri de coeur [an impassioned outcry] from one of our best executives from one of our most successful companies.  Attention should be paid.” (March 4, 2015, p. A11).

Whether we will present this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas simply depends upon how it fares on the major best-selling business book lists.   At the time that I write this, the Amazon.com statistics are impressive:

Yet, it does not appear on lists from Business Week, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal.   Continue to monitor our advertising to see if we eventually present it there.  Our policy is not to present synopses of books that are not legitimate business best-sellers.  We need to give this one some time.  It was only released on March 3, 2015.

In the meantime, remember “big boys like big toys,” and nothing fascinates us more than how things are made.  That, of course, depends upon whether we actually are making things, and that is what the book calls America to do.

From Soup to Nuts? Maybe Not Even From Soup!

On Friday, August 5, at our First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present a book entitled Touchpoints:  Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments (2011, San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass).  The book is part of the Warren Bennis series.

This book is co-authored by Douglas Conant, who is the retiring President and CEO of Campbell Soup, and Mette Norgaard, who is a strategic leadership consultant.

The new CEO of Campbell Soup is Denise Morrison.  She starts her new job on Monday, August 1.  You can read about her at this link from the June 27 issue of Bloomberg Business Week

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_27/b4235060614059_page_2.htm

As you will read in that article, the task she faces is formidable.  Not only is soup consumption down, but her own company sales have been down and no better than flat.  Nothing the company has done seems to satisfy consumers.

I don’t drink soup in the summer.  It doesn’t sound good to me. 

And, I don’t like soups that remove the sodium.  As you read in this article, Campbell tried that, and it violated the taste expectations of its consumers.

Let’s watch the developments here.  What will she do?

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it really soon!

Another Perspective on the “Best of 2010” Lists

 

This is the time of the year that we see so many collective lists of the “best of 2010.”  In the last few days, we have seen such lists for films, sports accomplishments, songs, architecture, recipes, restaurants, and of course, books.

I want to tell you that I am unimpressed with most of the lists that I have seen that focus on books.  As with films, these book lists contain great confusion among quality and quantity.  That premise is particularly true when the lists come from booksellers themselves, such as a recent e-mail I received from Barnes and Noble with their “Books of the Year.”

Just like a film, a book is not necessarily good because it sells.  Popular, best-selling books are of no greater quality than are popular, high dollar-grossing films.  Because people buy a book does not make it good.  Nor do I consider it a good barometer for quality.

Consider the terrible film from the late ’70’s, the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”  That film grossed millions of dollars and played regularly in theatres on Friday and Saturday nights through the mid ’90’s.  It had no redeeming merit and critics panned its quality.  Yet, it had a cult-like following, and it played to packed audiences, mostly either inebriated or bored, for many years.

In the recent Barnes and Noble list, I saw one business book for the 2010 year.  It was The Big Short by Michael Lewis.  I saw no other business books.  I believe that was a fine book, but not as good as his previous offering, Moneyball.   Why was it on the list?  Because it sold.  The best books in that list are the best-sellers.  But, best-selling does not indicate high quality.  I can give you titles of at least a dozen other books this year that were of higher quality than that one, but that simply did not sell as well.

Please remember that we only summarize the content of best-selling books at our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  The number one criterion is that the book must be on a best-selling list somewhere that we find credible.   These lists include Business Week, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Amazon.com, among others.  I will admit to you that after 13 years of doing this, I have delivered synopses of some books that sold well, but that were simply not very good.  Some were not well-written, some were ill-researched, and some were best-sellers just because of the reputation of the author.

Regardless, we will continue to use best-sellers as our basis for book selection at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  But, I am telling you that popular does not equate to good.  And, there are likely some very good books that do not have the boost of marketing dollars from huge publishers that likely go overlooked.  Strange as it sounds, it may not be optimal, but these lists remain the best vehicle available for us to use for our selections.  Remember – popular may not be good.  And, good may not always be popular.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it!

The Windfall Effect for Laura Bush and Her Bestseller

As you are aware, we select our books for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas from best-seller lists sources such as Business Week, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Amazon.com.

On Friday, November 19, the Wall Street Journal published its best-seller list for the week ending November 14.  One category that it includes is “Hardcover Nonfiction Gains & Falls.”

It is very interesting to me that the # 1 hardcover nonfiction best-seller is the new book by former U.S. President George W. Bush, Decision Points (Crown Publishers, 2010).  At the same time, the greatest increase in hardcover nonfiction sales is the book by his wife, Laura, entitled Spoken from the Heart  (Scribner, 2010).  In the week that ended on November 14, sales of her book increased 224%.  That is a whopping 84% more than the second closest book by Oliver North about American Heroes.

What does this mean?  How do you account for the windfall effect that Laura enjoyed while her husband’s book is at # 1?

I think that this says something about the American appreciation for the great intelligence and support that she demonstrated during her eight years in the White House.  We have been very fortunate in America to have had many fine first ladies. with causes and campaigns of their own right.  Remember Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify America?  And Barbara Bush, who promoted reading to children?  No one can doubt the superior intelligence in domestic and foreign affairs exhibited by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama compared with their husbands.  Sure, there also have been some duds – consider Pat Nixon (who at least had more common sense than her husband), Jackie Kennedy (who was only classy and glamorous) and Mamie Eisenhower and Rosalynn Carter (who were simply figureheads).

But, overall, this result says to me that America respects first ladies who do more than sit on a throne.  Laura Bush was always a strong, reliable, and transparent figure.  She represented her husband and America very well.  So, while shoppers pick up the President’s book to sit on their shelves, they pick up Laura’s book to learn something. 

And, doesn’t that say as much about us as it does about them?

Let’s talk about it!

A Short Post about a Big Problem – Unemployment among the Young

I know a young woman who graduated 16 months ago from the University of Oklahoma.  She had good grades, she was a diligent student, received glowing recommendations from her professors.  She was a model student and would be a great hire..  She has just been hired in her field.  It took 16 months, and I know she worked hard at finding a job.  She was on the verge of abandoning any attempt to find a job within her field.

She is one of the lucky ones.  It only took her 16 months.

That is the stark message of a new article in Business Week.  It is being referenced all of over the internet – I’ve seen it in at least three places.  The title of the article is alarming — The Lost Generation: The continuing job crisis is hitting young people especially hard—damaging both their future and the economy. (read it here). Here’s just one paragraph:

Only 46% of people aged 16-24 had jobs in September, the lowest since the government began counting in 1948. The crisis is even hitting recent college graduates. “I’ve applied for a whole lot of restaurant jobs, but even those, nobody calls me back,” says Dan Schmitz, 25, a University of Wisconsin graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Every morning I wake up thinking today’s going to be the day I get a job. I’ve not had a job for months, and it’s getting really frustrating.”

click image for full view

click image for full view

A lot of business books speak of the need to hire the right person for the right job.  We wish we could live in ideal times.  But the number of people looking for each available job is higher than ever, and this current group of college graduates is in an especially precarious condition.  Read the article.  It is sobering – troubling – challenging.