The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

by Rich Karlgaard

It is noteworthy that a prominent business journalist from Silicon Valley—where technology and IPOs dominate headlines—wrote a book about the human factors of business success. “The yin and yang of effective management has always been about the search for the right spot between data truth and human truth.”

“Hard-edge execution is all about managing exactly to the numbers. The people who live on the hard edge of business are good at making the trains run on time. They focus on profit. Their language is time, money, and numbers. Every company in the world needs these employees.”

“Soft-edge excellence—in trust, smarts, teams, taste, and story—tends to attract loyal customers and committed employees.” Karlgaard says the soft edge is “the heart and soul” of your company. Continue reading “The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success”

One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations

One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations

by Mike Medaglia

This book provides an illustrated thought to ponder for each day of the year.  Each page features words of wisdom from a writer, poet, scientist, spiritual leader, or other historical figure. Pages are labeled January 1 through December 31, without a year so the book can be referred to indefinitely. Below are some sample quotes and illustrations.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

“Reality is like a face reflected in the blade of a knife; its properties depend on the angle from which we view it.” – Master Hsing Yun

Continue reading “One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations”

Restaurant & Bar Marketing

Restaurant & Bar Marketing: The No Bullshit Guide to Improving Guest Counts

by Erik Shellenberger

Erik Shellenberger cuts through the hype and tells you what really works—and what doesn’t—to bring more customers into restaurants and bars. Before getting into the tactics, he presents his ocean versus fishbowl concept.

The fishbowl includes people who follow you on social media, who subscribe to your email list, etc. “The ocean—NOT the fishbowl—is where you improve guest counts… People who have no idea you exist. People who are looking to branch out and try new places to eat and drink in their home city… The tourist economy is almost exclusively an ocean environment. It includes the person using Google or online reviews to find a business like yours.”

Continue reading “Restaurant & Bar Marketing”

The Responsible Company

The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years

by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley

We hear a lot about sustainability, but the authors contend “no human economic activity is yet sustainable… Responsible seems to us the apt, more modest, word to use… The term itself is necessary shorthand; there is no responsible company, only responsible companies of varying degrees, who act strategically to do less harm while improving, not sacrificing, the health of the business.”

Doing good and seeking profit are not incompatible. Wal-Mart’s initial environmental efforts were motivated by reputation management, “but removing excess packaging from deodorant sticks, concentrating laundry detergent in small bottles, and installing auxiliary power units in their trucks to reduce idling time turned out to save them millions of dollars.”

Continue reading “The Responsible Company”

Humble Inquiry

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

by Edgar H. Schein

Retired MIT Sloan School of Management professor Edgar Schein asserts, “Without good upward communication, organizations can be neither effective nor safe… Your organization may be underperforming because various employees or groups do not recognize the degree to which they are, in fact, interdependent.” The gist of this book is about creating a trusting environment with open communication across hierarchical boundaries. This entails less telling, more asking, and better listening.

“The U.S. culture is strongly built on the tacit assumptions of pragmatism, individualism, and status through achievement… Given those cultural biases, doing and telling are inevitably valued more than asking and relationship building. However, as tasks become more complex and interdependent, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building will become more necessary. That, in turn, will require leaders to become more skilled in humble inquiry.”

Continue reading “Humble Inquiry”

Simple Complexity: a Management Book for the Rest of Us, a Guide to Systems Thinking

Simple Complexity: a Management Book for the Rest of Us, a Guide to Systems Thinking

by William Donaldson

This book provides the cure for myopic management. It is about applying the principles of complexity and systems thinking to management. “Every organization is a system—in fact, a system of systems, perfectly designed to get the results it is getting today… Systems thinking is the unifying discipline that brings clarity to all of the other disciplines at work in your enterprise… The key, defining concept of systems thinking to remember is that nothing in the system is ever unconnected.”

Donaldson emphasizes the importance of context. “You have to ensure everyone has shared mental models of the enterprise and its management system… Remembering that context can enhance learning and comprehension by 50-100 percent, you must give employees context for both the part of the system they play a role in and the whole system.”

Continue reading “Simple Complexity: a Management Book for the Rest of Us, a Guide to Systems Thinking”

Story Mythos: A Movie Guide to Better Business Stories

Story Mythos: A Movie Guide to Better Business Stories

by Shane Meeker

“People are inspired and moved by stories…Story is about human emotions… Stories de-commodify your brand/product.” The premise of this book is that the same principles used by Hollywood filmmakers can be used to develop powerful brand stories. The author is the company historian and corporate storyteller at Procter & Gamble.

“What are your most powerful company stories, and how are you using them to inspire your people? How do you explain your purpose through different stories? What stories best demonstrate your company beliefs? How are you documenting and protecting the stories that matter? … How can you use a story to demonstrate a company’s culture?”

Continue reading “Story Mythos: A Movie Guide to Better Business Stories”