Author Archives: randy

We are so forgetful, and inattentive, and lazy – so keep at it, keep learning, until you come close to finally getting it!

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10


Here’s an observation…not exactly original with me… ”There is nothing new under the sun.”

So, recently, a regular participant sent me info about a book that I have heard of, but not read.  I took a quick look.  It is a good book.  But, I thought to myself, “I have read those ideas before.”

Last week, I presented my synopsis of The Heart of Business by Hubert Joly.  This is a very good book.  But, as I read portions of it, I thought to myself, yet again – “I have read these ideas before.”

Maybe there is nothing new under the sun.

I do read plenty of books that break new ground for me.  I read books that inform me about people, or programs, or initiatives, that I was unaware of.  And I love learning from these books.

But, when it comes to “soft skills” – you know, those human-to-human skills to help people improve, or even survive, and to flourish and grow and become more productive and effective — well, we know so much, and do so little.

In these areas, there may may be very little new under the sun.
But we are so very slow to learn.

Here is part of what I have read, over and over again, in the 23+ years that I have been presenting synopses of business books.

Maybe close to the original source.

Maybe close to the original source.

  • Treat each person as an individual; as a person of inherent worth
  • Set clear standards
  • Expect the best
  • Train and nurture and teach and encourage and…
  • Personalize recognition and rewards.

So many books on leadership teach these very things, though I first read them in Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.  In fact, this short list above is basically the key content of this excellent book.

And these human-to-human needs represent just one category of ideas and actions that you will find repeated in so many books.

I could write about staying close to the people you lead (“management by wandering around,” Tom Peters and Bob Waterman), overcommunicate – repeat and repeat and repeat some more.  (I like the line from Verne Harnish: “repeat it so often that they mock you”).

Now, I am not remotely suggesting that authors steal these ideas from one another.  But, like a preacher who has to find new ways to preach “love your neighbor,” time and time again, these timeless principles have to be repeated time and again, by many different authors, in all the many complex contexts of life and business.

In other words, when you read a good book, there is a pretty good chance that you will have seen those thoughts somewhere before.  And that is more than ok.  Because, we still have a knowing-doing gap (yep; I have read about that too; more than once). And we are so forgetful.

So keep reading.  And keep working at it. You have some growing and learning and doing to do. And so do I.

The Premonition by Michael Lewis – Here are my Seven Lessons and Takeaways

premonition_custom-433cde87cd8ef03af2d69255f4f21b7409e24d87-s800-c85• Once it became clear that swine flu would come and go, like a massive hurricane that dissipated before making landfall, it became something else. A message in a bottle. A premonition. A warning.
 • I think this particular story is about the curious talents of a society, and how those talents are wasted if not led.
• If this story speaks to that management in any way, I hope it is to say: There are actually some things to be proud of. Our players aren’t our problem. But we are what our record says we are.
• American society had no ability to deal with what she felt was coming. “The United States doesn’t really have a public-health system,” she said. “It has five thousand dots, and each one of those dots serves at the will of an elected official.” (Charity Dean).
• But we should be prepared for the possibility, even if we are going to accompany modern firefighters into Mann Gulch, that the terror of the universe has not yet fossilized and the universe has not run out of blowups. —NORMAN MACLEAN, Young Men and Fire
Michael Lewis, The Premonition:  A Pandemic Story

(Note:  this is a pretty long post. This book has so much that is valuable and useful…)

It is my job to prepare synopses of books.  I read the book; I prepare a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout.  I present my synopsis.

In most cases, it feels like a challenging but doable task.  When I finish, I feel like I’ve done a pretty decent job.

And then along comes The Premonition by Michael Lewis.  I felt…overwhelmed.  How do I reduce this masterpiece of storytelling and detail to a simple synopsis?

Last Friday, I gave it my best try at the June First Friday Book Synospis.michael-lewisthe-undoing-projectjpg-99e8683e18c8d50e

Let me get this out of the way.  I have a lot of favorite writers.  But, for contemporary nonfiction, Michael Lewis stands at the top of my list of favorites.  He is a remarkable storyteller! He wrote: Liar’s Poker; The Blind Side; Flash Boys; Moneyball; The Big Short; The Great Undoing; The Fifth Risk; and now, The Premonition.  They are all very much worth reading.  With The Fifth Risk, and now The Premonition, if you read these two, you will wonder how in the world we can ever make a great, great big complex government work.

In this book, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, Michael Lewis tells the story of…how a few people got it, and so, so many missed it.

With all of my synopses, I ask “What is the point?” of this book.  Here is my answer for this book: We had warnings. We had a premonition. But we did not get ready for the Great Pandemic of 2020. And it cost us dearly. 

And I ask “Why is this book worth our time?” Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book is a master class in story-telling.
#2 – This book is a reminder that one person, in the right place at the right time, can make a difference.
#3 – This book is a stark reminder that we weren’t ready. And it raises the question, will we be ready the next time?

I always include many Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are the best of the best that I included in my synopsis:

• For years the University of Texas football team, with its vast resources and sway with voters, always seemed ranked more highly at the start of the season than at the end. The United States was the Longhorns of pandemic preparedness. It was rich. It had special access to talent. It enjoyed special relationships with the experts whose votes determined the rankings. Then the game was played. …As the legendary football coach Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”
• By her second year on the job, (Dr. Charity Dean) found herself quoting the law so often that she asked her assistant to laminate a copy of that one passage, so that she might carry it with her in her briefcase.  Each health officer knowing or having reason to believe . . . “What does that mean??!!” she’d cry, and point her finger in the air. “It means suspicion! You only need to suspect!”…shall take measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or occurrence of additional cases. “ ‘Shall’!” she’d exclaim. “Not a may. A shall. Not think about it. Not consider it. Not maybe get around to it one day if you feel like it. It’s your duty. If you suspect disease, you can do whatever the hell you want.”
• There is no shortcut to courage. Courage is a muscle memory.
• A lot of people had died because doctors had allowed their minds to come to rest before they should.
• “People don’t realize what it is until something bad happens.”
• The root of the CDC’s behavior was simple: fear. They didn’t want to take any action for which they might later be blamed.  …They wanted to observe it as if it were a science experiment on how meningitis moves through a college campus. And I was like, ‘Are you kidding me: a kid just lost his feet.’
• The big thing about her boss, Paige thought, was that an American public-health officer, at some risk to herself, had taken the job of protecting the public’s health as seriously as it had ever.
• The call for doctors and nurses after the 9/ 11 attacks struck Richard as so haphazard that afterward he wrote a crisp memo to the people who ran the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, arguing that they should use whatever political clout they had to push for a national medical reserve corps.  …In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush would call for the creation of a reserve medical corps. …By the time they’d finished, the medical reserve corps had one hundred offices and two hundred thousand medical volunteers.
• Like Rajeev, Richard thought that the United States government was paying too much attention to the threats posed by people and too little to those posed by nature.
• The New England Journal of Medicine had just published a study of medical mistakes. It showed that for every thousand people admitted to a hospital in the United States, three would die from error.
• “They don’t come to work with the intention of harming anybody,” Carter said. “People make mistakes.”
• One way to reduce medical error, he thought, was to redesign the environment to make it more difficult for bad things to happen.  He found a book called Human Error, by a British psychologist aptly named James Reason. “It was like reading the owner’s manual of the human mind,” he later recalled. He was struck especially by Reason’s argument that the best way to guard against error is to design systems with layered and overlapping defenses.
• He spent the next year making himself expert on why, and in what circumstances, people learned—and why, and in what circumstances, they did not. The gist of it was that people don’t learn what is imposed upon them but rather what they freely seek, out of desire or need. For people to learn, they need to want to learn.
• Sandia National Laboratories had been created back in the mid-1940s in part to help the people stuck in various boxes to think outside them.
• There were seventy thousand buses in the entire U.S. public transportation system, but five hundred thousand school buses.  … Kids are like those close talkers on Seinfeld. Look! They’re so different. They’re not little adults. They have a different sense of space.
“I couldn’t design a system better for transmitting disease than our school system,” he said after his visit. …Adults imagined their spaces smaller than they were and children’s spaces larger than they were. …“They’d forgotten childhood,” he said. “Adults just forget what it feels like to be a kid.”
• Richard’s other takeaway from his second tour of duty in the White House was just how little government was able to do quickly.
• “When you are looking at a disease, the disease you are seeing is from last week.”
• She (Charity Dean) learned that while there was only one road to heaven, there were a great many to hell.
• When space in the migrant shelters ran out, ICE workers would drive these people into cities in the dead of night and just leave them there. “I’d heard that Trump was trying to create a crisis,” said Charity. “Trying to turn people against immigrants. It was just a rumor. But when I get there I find this is all true. They’re just dumping families on street corners at two in the morning. They were trying to create a disaster.”  …She got on the phone with this Duane guy and another colleague, a tough, bullying type from Texas who began by mansplaining to her how to manage an outbreak and then tried to deny the existence of the flights. “At which point I was like, Fuck you. I was there. I saw it.” A few days later the flights stopped. Charity never learned why.
• On February 19, the UC Davis Medical Center admitted a patient who had symptoms and no history of travel—and so did not meet the CDC’s criteria for testing. In any case, the hospital did not have the ability to test; for that matter, no one in Sacramento County had the ability to test. “By then Zimbabwe could test but California could not, because of the CDC,” said Charity. “Zimbabwe!”
• Donald Trump had said that it was every state for itself. In that one phone call, the Newsom administration had signaled to the local health officers that it was every county for itself, too.
• They would learn the lesson Charity had been forced to learn during her time as a local health officer: No one’s coming to save you.
• The cure meant nothing if the patient never received it. Standing between the cure and the patient, in this case, was a U.S. medical-industrial complex that lurched between lethargy and avarice. 

Here are are a number of points, and people, and lessons, that I emphasized from the book:

  • The warning:
  • If there is the faintest possibility of a catastrophic disease, you should treat it as being a lot more likely than it seems. …you should treat the patient as if she has Ebola, because the consequences of not doing so can be calamitous. 
  • The lesson of the Mann Gulch Fire (1949):
  • In fire you could see lessons for fighting a raging disease. He jotted them down: You cannot wait for the smoke to clear: once you can see things clearly it is already too late. You can’t outrun an epidemic: by the time you start to run it is already upon you. Identify what is important and drop everything that is not. Figure out the equivalent of an escape fire. …The Mann Gulch fire captured the difficulty people had imagining exponential growth, even when their lives depended on it. …“We are reactive and tend to only intervene when things are getting bad,” wrote Carter. “And what we underestimate is the speed that what’s bad moves.” 
  • Yes, we got it wrong…
  • He further guessed that, if left unchecked by the government, it would infect between 20 and 40 percent of the U.S. population.
  • No more than 10,000 will die – (John Ioannidis, Medical Professor, Stanford, Spring, 2020).
  • We were late on this; asymptomatic spread:
  • The first time Gelman had written to Carter, it was to ask if Carter might help him with some complicated problem about hospital management. “Thirty-seven minutes after I wrote to him, he responded with this long, perfectly thought-out answer,” said Gelman. “He’s the vampire at the door, waiting patiently to be invited in.” …“Here is the scenario I would prepare for and why,” Carter wrote to the young VA doctor. …It is very likely that we have undetected community transmission in the United States and in many of the other 26 countries with confirmed cases in travelers. Except for the evacuees from Wuhan, nobody was screening asymptomatics.
  • Really, really inadequate testing…
  • How can you keep saying that Americans are at low risk from the virus if you aren’t even testing for the virus?
  • Let’s get this out of the way: who made the mistakes?
  • Barrack Obama, Donald Trump, the CDC, Gavin Newsome, and many others… There is equal opportunity blame in this book…
  • “No,” wrote Charity in a comment. “The single most important part of this plan is IT IS NOT RUN BY THE CDC. 
  • On Churchill and Chamberlain — thanks to Dr. Charity Dean
  • “The leaders with the worse judgement smugly claim they have the best.” A bit farther on: “Don’t prepare a white paper when you need to be bombing the shit out of Germany!” (Chamberlain had spent the final few days before the war writing a white paper that defended his strategy of appeasement.) After that: “There will be no standing ovation when you are proven right.” And, finally, “Churchill was a dragon too.”
  • Everywhere she turned in government she saw this distinction, in leaders, between Churchills and Chamberlains. 
  • The people:
  • Dr. Charity Dean, County Health Officer, and then…
  • Then she saw the phrase “Communicable Disease Controller.” It was an official state role. Played by local health officers. “What I like is a crisis.”
  • The President who read a book; and the Doctor in the midst of it…
  • As it happened, the United States of America had a plan to fight a pandemic. The first draft had been written back in October 2005, by a man named Rajeev Venkayya, in the basement of his parents’ house in Xenia, Ohio.
  • The story of how the United States more or less invented pandemic planning began when George W. Bush, in the summer of 2005, read a book. John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.
  • Bush returned to the White House from his summer vacation with a new interest in pandemics.
  • Then Bush read John Barry’s book, and asked, What’s our strategy? “We didn’t have a strategy,” said Rajeev Venkayya.
  • “The president said, ‘This is bullshit,’ ” Rajeev recalled. “ ‘It’s just health. We need a whole-of-society plan. What are you going to do about foreign borders? And travel? And commerce?’ ” And how were you going to stop hundreds of thousands of Americans from dying while they waited for even a speeded-up vaccine? …It was new and a bit odd for the White House to put itself in charge of creating a new strategy for disease control, especially as there was an entire federal agency down in Atlanta called the Centers for Disease Control.
  • To this day, Barry has never heard from Bush.
  • (The team of) Dr. Carter Mecher and Dr. Richard Hatchett and Lisa Koonin
  • “We used to tell ourselves, ‘You’re going to make a mistake,’” said Carter. “The sin is making the same mistake twice. The best is to learn from other people’s mistakes.” 
  • Joe DeRisi and his red phone…If you’ve tried everything else and you don’t know what it is, you can pick up the phone and call us.”
  • Three years earlier he’d been handpicked by UCSF’s faculty to skip the usual postdoc stage of formal scientific training and been given his own lab—because they didn’t want to waste a moment of his mind. “It’s a mind without boundaries,” said Don Ganem, a UCSF microbiologist and medical doctor who had pushed for DeRisi’s hire.
  • MacArthur recipient
  • “You start looking only for things that you are trained to expect,” said Joe. “And you miss what’s there.” 
  • Some Key ideas: 
  • Learn – really, learn — from the past
  • Cross Pollinate (work across silos) – In other words, thinking outside the box means THINKING OUTSIDE YOUR BOX
  • Inside the United States government were all these little boxes. “How to ensure our food is safe to eat,” for instance, or “how to avoid a run on the banks,” or “how to prevent another terrorist attack.” …But here was the real waste. One box might contain the solution to a problem in another box, or the person who might find that solution, and that second box would never know about it.
  • Look at things differently – remember the lessons of Moneyball
  • In professional sports, for example. For decades, former players went unquestioned as experts in the evaluation of both players and strategies. Then came the statistical revolution. Complete outsiders, armed with mathematical models, had made a mockery of the experts. — If models could improve predictions about some basketball player’s value in a game, there was no reason they couldn’t do the same for the value of some new strategy in a pandemic.
  • The CDC has to change; Government has to change – (maybe read The Fifth Risk) –
  • And after Obama’s election, the entire building was basically drained of humanity. Still, Carter remained. He marveled at the inefficiency of his government. “No wonder you want people to stay behind. All that’s left of the work is what’s in their heads.” “I would be considered—what do you call it?—the deep state,” he said. “I was part of the old crowd.” There was no hostility, merely indifference.
  • There is no silver bullet
  • “The specific thing that blew my mind was using multiple semi-effective strategies together. There was no silver bullet.”
  • Tell stories – tell stories well
  • The way to change minds was by first changing hearts.  He stopped making an argument and began to tell a story. His story, at its core, was about the hole left when someone dies, especially when the death is preventable, and the someone is a child.
  • For big problems, we need big government…
  • “Our federal government should be doing this in a coordinated way,” he said.
  • “She’d had the odd thought that the country didn’t have the institutions that it needed to survive.”

And here are my Seven Lessons and Takeaways:

#1 – To understand one disease, we need to understand other diseases; especially how they spread. And, so much more…
#2 – Our government focuses on what is in front of them at the moment. We need our government to work on what is not yet in front of them.
#3 – Though systems matter; really matter; we need some superstar, really stellar individuals in key places.  Individuals who are: smart; narrowly AND widely knowledgeable; yet fearless.
#4 – Sometimes, we simply have to have national programs; not local, decentralized programs.
#5 – If we are not getting what we need, we have to do workarounds. The result is what matters.
#6 – This will not be the last such crisis. Will we be more ready the next time?
#7 – We need to read some books really carefully — to let them sink in.

I think that many of my synopses will give people “enough” of the book to help them be more informed, more knowledgeable, more effective.  But there are some books that really do require a thorough, careful reading.  Consider this blog post, and my synopsis, a pretty-detailed teaser.  But, I really encourage you to read The Premonition.  It is a wonderful, engaging read.  And, you will learn; and be scared, and think….

We’ve got other problems coming, you know…  This book just might help you get ready.


Note: The 19 year old daughter of Michael Lewis and his wife Tabitha Soren, Dixie, was tragically killed in a car accident, along with her boyfriend, while Michael Lewis was in the midst of interviews about this book. Comfort and peace to the parents at this tragic loss…


I have presented synopses of business books monthly for over 23 years.  Our synopses are available for purchase.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of the synopsis presentation (recorded at our First Friday Book Synopsis events).

You can order them for our web site.  Click on the “Buy Synopses” tab above to search by book title.  And click here for our newest additions.  My synopsis of this book, The Premonition, will be available soon.


The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly – Here are my Seven Lessons and Takeaways

Heart of Business copy• The architecture I am advocating has employees at the heart of business, creating and nurturing caring and authentic relationships both within the company and also with all of the company’s stakeholders—customers, vendors, local communities, and shareholders—in a way that not only contributes to the company’s purpose but also creates great outcomes for each of these stakeholders. 
• I learned that the old top-down approach to management—having a few smart executives first formulate a strategy and its implementation plan, then tell everybody else in the company what to do while crafting incentives to motivate them—rarely works. And I learned that the model of the leader as a smart, powerful superhero is outdated. Through all my experiences, culminating in the incredible years at Best Buy, I have come to believe—to know—that purpose and human connections constitute the very heart of business.  
• This book is the articulation of key leadership principles for the next era of capitalism, and how to put them into practice in both the best and hardest of times.
• What we did is turn a large number of disengaged people into engaged employees, inspired to care for their customers. How? This is what the rest of this book is about. And it all starts with how we each see work, as well as the human beings doing the work.  
• We can choose to treat work as what I feel it is: an essential element of our humanity, a key to our search for meaning as individuals, and a way to find fulfillment in our life.
• If you are looking for an alternative approach to help make business a genuine force for good, this book is for you. If you seek to lead—at any level—with a sense of purpose and humanity to generate extraordinary performance that benefits all stakeholders, this book is for you. And if you want to understand better how purpose and human connections lead to a long-term success that defies rational expectations, this book is for you.
• Fulfillment from work comes from doing good things for others—and in so doing, contributing to the common good.
• The refoundation of business starts with considering work as an answer to our quest for meaning and fulfillment.
Hubert Joly, The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

—————– Best Buy Zombie

In 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a cover story on the travails of Best Buy. On the cover was a Best Buy Blue Shirt, their on-the-sales-floor representative.  But this Blue Shirt looked different…he was a zombie. In other words, Best Buy was finished! Its’ days were past numbered. It truly was on its last legs.

But Best Buy brought in Hubert Joly as the new CEO.  From France, but with American connections and experiences, he had a history of successful turnarounds.  He figured out what to do to help Best Buy return, and then go even higher.

{So, personal note:  I am a loyal Best Buy customer.  We have a television, computers, appliances, devices, and accessories, all that came from Best Buy.  The only exception:  I buy my Apple products – and I am all-in on Apple  — from the Apple Store.  So the Best Buy computers we have in the house are PCs, which are used by my wife.}

This book is Hubert Joly’s account of his personal business philosophy, which includes his time at Best Buy.  Yes, he did turn it around.  Best Buy is now flourishing, and Mr. Joly has moved on to other challenges.

If you are a fan of servant leadership; if you have questions/reservations about the current state of capitalism; if you like good stories of exceptional customer service; then this book is for you.

I presented my synopsis of The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly (with Caroline Lambert. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press. 2021) at the June 4 First Friday Book Synopsis.

In my synopsis presentation, I asked, as I always do: What is the point? Here it is for this book:  As with many good books, it is always about getting the basics right, and in the right order, that leads to business success. Get these basics right: meaning; purpose, people; leadership.

And I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book is a turnaround tutorial, as told mainly thorough the steps taken and lessons learned from the Best Buy turnaround.
#2 – This book is a modern critique of the foundational philosophy of Milton Friedman.
#3 – This book is a lesson in overall leadership; in how to make a big company thrive.  (And, a small company thrive).

In my synopsis, I always include many Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are the best of the best that I included in this synopsis:

(From the foreword by bill George):
• The key lesson is to have an open heart and a beginner’s mind as you journey inward to discover your authentic self.
• Hubert makes a compelling case that pursuing a company’s purpose is superior to Milton Friedman’s dictate that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” He believes, and I agree, that sustainable profits are the successful outcome of organizations that are mission driven and focus on all their stakeholders.
• In the future, every company will need to focus on its purpose, or raison d’être, in order to establish legitimacy in serving society by creating value for all stakeholders.
…thus becoming the force for good needed to transform society.


• Two-thirds of all jobs in the US economy now require post-secondary education—up from just 28 percent in 1973—with leadership, communications, and analysis the most valued competencies.  
• One of the most powerful books I have ever read is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.
…Life, he concluded, is not a quest for pleasure or for power. It is instead a quest for meaning, which ultimately is the path to fulfillment and happiness. And according to him, one can find meaning in three possible places: work, love, and courage. In truth, they often converge; doing something significant through work often involves caring for others and overcoming adversity.
• A Stanford University study found that innovation at tech companies slows by 40 percent after initial public offerings (IPOs) because management becomes more cautious once they are subject to market pressures.   
• “The purpose of a corporation is not to make money!” Jean-Marie Descarpentries, the newly appointed CEO of Honeywell Bull, exclaimed. Jean-Marie explained that companies have in fact three imperatives: people, business, and finance. 
Excellence on the first imperative—the development and fulfillment of employees—leads to excellence on the second—loyal customers buying your company’s products and services again and again. This then leads to excellence on the third imperative, which is making money. 
• In my view, putting purpose and people at the heart of business, and the practical implications of that model outlined in the previous chapters, are not luxuries reserved for thriving businesses. In fact, this approach forms the very core of the “turnaround manual” I have developed over the years,
• The principles in this “manual” are the antithesis of the blood sport I described above. It is the opposite of “cut, cut, cut.”
• When a business is in critical condition, its people are the key to a successful turnaround.
I am not advocating for a soft, sitting-around-the-campfire roasting-s’mores focus on people. I mean a mobilizing, energizing, making-things-happen-fast focus on people.
• I had learned over the years that a plan needs a name to exist in the collective mind of the organization.
• Building trust requires four things. First, it takes time. Second, it requires that you do what you say you are going to do. Third, you must be approachable: you cannot trust whom you cannot see. And fourth, you must be transparent. 
• In the end, I was personally responsible for basically four decisions: the overall strategy of the company; major investment decisions, especially mergers and acquisitions; who was on the executive team; and setting the tone for the values of the company. …In many cases — like the in-home advisor rollout — I only needed to be informed.
• Identify the systemic changes you can influence—for example, racial inequality, environmental issues—and tackle them with your peers. This is part of your job.

In the last major section of my synopses, I include key points and insights from the book.  Here are a few from this book, including some information about Mr. Joly. (Note:  sections below in italics are also taken directly from the book).

• Note: Mr. Joly clearly acknowledges his personal failings, in life, and at work, throughout the book. In other words, this is a man striving to find the right level of humility. 

  • About Hubert Joly:
  • his first job (as a boy) was a boring, meaningless, repetitive stock-boy job, with no human interactions with anybody – sticking price tags on vegetable cans.”
  • Elite French education
  • McKinsey Consultant
  • CEO of EDS France
  • Head of Vivendi’s video game division
  • CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • CEO of Best Buy (retired, 2020) – the leader that led the turnaround at Best Buy


  • He spent his first few days at Best Buy on the sales floor with a name tag that said: “CEO in Training.”
  • He (finally) grasped that he needed a coach (he hired Marshall Goldsmith). — In my defense, executive coaching at the time was perceived as remedial. So why should I get a coach?
  • He really does believe that Milton Friedman got it wrong…
  • There is just one constituency to please – shareholders — and one performance metric that matters—profits.
  • I learned that the purpose of a company is not to make money, contrary to what Milton Friedman wanted us to believe.
  • I am not for a second suggesting that we should ignore profits. Of course, companies must make money — or they do not survive. – BUT — Excellence on the first imperative — the development and fulfillment of employees — leads to excellence on the second — loyal customers buying your company’s products and services again and again. This then leads to excellence on the third imperative, which is making money.
  • I deeply disagree with Milton Friedman’s view that business has no business dealing with societal issues. …There can be no thriving business without healthy, thriving communities, and there can be no thriving business if our planet is on fire.
  • In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, whose members are the CEOs of the United States’ leading companies,10 issued a new statement on the purpose of corporations. “Each of our stakeholders is essential,” it read. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.” 
  • Best Buy: At Best Buy, our purpose is to enrich lives through technology. 
  • Twenty years from now, enriching the lives of customers through technology will still be relevant—even if TVs and personal computers no longer are.
  • The two big initiatives at Best Buy
  • Renew Blue (2012: for the turnaround years) – this was wording that was “clear”
  • Building the New Blue (after the turnaround was successful) – This wording was “not as clear”
  • The big ideas:

And, at the end of my synopses , I always include my own lessons and takeways.  Here are my seven lessons and takeaways from this book:

#1 – Personal growth starts with self-reflection; leading to self-knowledge…
#2 – Who you are matters every bit as much as what you know and what you can do.  Actually, more so.
#3 – You’ve got to decentralize. Seriously. Let everyone have some freedom.
#4 – Look for the good ideas. Lots of good ideas.
#5 – Nurture — and train, and develop, and help – the people.  Really, all of the people.
#6 – Embrace this:  business success is much more than short-term profits. Much more!
#7 – And remember the basics; take care of your people. Treat each person as a person, with their unique qualities; bring in more diverse groups of people, throughout the organization.

I have presented many, many books on leadership.  And plenty of books on strategy and execution, and plenty of others that critique modern-day capitalism.  This book is a whole package, and it is going to go into my most-recommended books list.  Give it a read.  You will learn some things… 


  • Note: you will find ideas in this book from: 
  • Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning); Daniel Pink (Drive), Carol Dweck (Mindset), Amy Edmondson (psychological safety; The Fearless Organization), General Stanley McChrystal (Team of Teams), Brené Brown (her TED Talk, and her books), Bill George (Discover Your True North); Marshall Goldsmith (Joly’s personal coach, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There); among others. He always gives credit for the source of the ideas he writes about.
  • And, he gives credit to many of his employees, and colleagues, by name, from Best Buy, and other places he has worked, for their good ideas.
  • And, he gives credit/blame, not by name, for some pretty bad ideas from all his years at work.


I have presented synopses of business books monthly for over 23 years.  Our synopses are available for purchase.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of the synopsis presentation (recorded at our First Friday Book Synopsis events).

You can order them for our web site.  Click on the “Buy Synopses” tab above to search by book title.  And click here for our newest additions.  My synopsis of this book, The Heart of Business, will be available soon.

And, one other note: all but one of the books listed just above – Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning); Daniel Pink (Drive), Carol Dweck (Mindset), Amy Edmondson (psychological safety; The Fearless Organization), General Stanley McChrystal (Team of Teams), Brené Brown (her TED Talk, and her books), Marshall Goldsmith (Joly’s personal coach, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There) – are books we have presented at our event, and you can purchase our synopses for each.

(Note: the SECOND FRIDAY OF JULY) Noise: A Flaw In Human Judgement By Daniel Kahneman and Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone – for the July 9, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (On Zoom) – In our 24th Year

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view


Randy Mayeux provides thorough synopses of the content of useful, best-selling business books. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.July 9, 2021 FFBS




For the SECOND FRIDAY OF JULY, the July 9, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis, Randy Mayeux will present synopses of two new books, both reviewed very favorably.

July 9, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time) – Zoom – 2nd Friday

1. Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein.

2. Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone.

Daniel Kahneman, Noble Prize Winner in Economics, is the author of the oft-quoted Thinking, Fast and Slow.  This book, Noise, deals with decision-making challenges.

Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone is the follow up to the substantive best-seller The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, also written by Brad Stone.

I’m looking forward to reading, and presenting my synopses of, both books.

We are continuing to meet on Zoom.  The Zoom info is below.

I will e-mail the link to download the two handouts the day before the event.

And, though there is no charge to attend, if you would like to participate financially, (maybe a $12.00 participation), you can do so through PayPal by clicking here.  Or, you can send money through Zelle at .

We had just over 100 people join us on Zoom in June.  Please plan to be with us on July 9, THE SECOND FRIDAY OF JULY. And, please invite others to join in with us.

Let’s keep learning – there’s always the next new thing to learn.


Here is the Zoom info:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: July 9, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: July 9, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 839 6580 0622
Passcode: 546969

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Dial by your location

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Meeting ID: 839 6580 0622
Passcode: 546969

Find your local number:


Reminder: you can purchase our synopses (comprehensive, multi-page handouts, plus audio recordings). Click on the Buy Synopses tab at the top of this page and search by title. Or, click here for our newest additions.

Here is the June, 2021 list of best-selling business books from the New York Times – A new Kahneman book; a new book by Brad Stone on Bezos and Amazon; Atomic Habits by James Clear still #1

Here is the June, 2021 list of best-selling business books from the New York Times.  For the Atomic Habitsumpteenth month in a row (yes, umpteenth is a precise number), Atomic Habits by James Clear is at the #1 spot.  I don’t keep a record of how long it has been at the top spot, but this book has been at the top through most of the pandemic. I assume people are working on personal habits; or, at least, are wanting to work on their personal habits.

The only book that I can think of that seemed to be at the top for anything close to this length of time was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg from quite a few years back.  (Lean In was first published in 2013, so that was a while ago. I presented my synopsis of that book in April, 2013).

In this month’s list, there are two new books that I have already selected for our Dallas event, the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I present synopses of two best-selling business books every month.  We are in our 24thyear of monthly gatherings.

NoiseFor our July 9 event (the second Friday of July), I will present my synopsis of the new Daniel Kahneman book, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement (co-authored with Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein).  Mr. Kahneman’s earlier book Thinking, Fast and Slow is also a perennial best-seller.

I will also present the new book by Brad Stone: AmazonUnbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire , at the July First Friday Book Synopsis.  I presented my synopsis of his earlier book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, back at the December, 2013 event.

After I present these two books, I will have presented synopses of five of the ten best-sellers from this month’s list: Atomic Habits, Noise, Dare to Lead, Extreme Ownership, and Amazon Unbound.

I’m a fan of reading good and useful books, and this list always provides plenty of good and useful choices.

Here is the June, 2021 list of best-selling business books from the New York Times.Amazon Unbound

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#2 – Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein
#3 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#4 – Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
#5 – Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
#6 – The Tyranny of Big Tech by Josh Hawley
#7 – Everything Will Be Okay by Dana Perino
#8 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#9 – You’re Invited by Jon Levy
#10 – Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone


You can purchase my synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Download the two Synopses Handouts for June’s First Friday Book Synopsis, June 4, 2021 – The Premonition by Michael Lewis; and The Heart of Business by Hubert Joly

We are in Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

FFBS, 6,2021








You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis,
Friday, June 4, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time), on Zoom.
I hope you can join us!

The Premonition, cover

Click on image to download the two synopsis handouts


Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

You are invited!

This Friday, June 4, 2021 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses:
June 4, 2021 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses: 


  1. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis. W. W. Norton & Company (May 4, 2021)
  2. The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalismby Hubert Joly, with Caroline Lambert. Harvard Business Review Press (May 4, 2021)

Randy Mayeux will present both synopses.

Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, June 4, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 854 0844 1489
Passcode: 569940


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, and we will begin the program right at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting

Topic: June 4, 2021 – First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: June 4, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 854 0844 1489
Passcode: 569940

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,85408441489#,,,,*569940# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,85408441489#,,,,*569940# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

Meeting ID: 854 0844 1489
Passcode: 569940

Find your local number:


Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).

(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal, and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.