The Art of Being Indispensable at Work

The Art of Being Indispensable at Work

by Bruce Tulgan

Becoming a go-to person is the key to real influence at work. But it presents challenges like the risk of overcommitment, endless meetings, and trying to get things done across ambiguous lines of authority. When do you say yes? How do you say no? Bruce Tulgan breaks it down.  Continue reading “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work”

An interview with Alastair Thomson author of Cash Flow Surge

After posting more than 250 book reviews, I decided to try something new: an author interview on YouTube. I am grateful to Alastair Thomson for graciously sharing his wisdom on managing small and medium-sized businesses. Alastair has an accounting background, but this conversation is not about debits and credits. It’s about improving your business from the perspective of an experienced CEO and CFO. We cover cash flow, profit, customer experience, metrics, business ethics, marketing, quality, continuous improvement, front-line employees, growth, margins, inventory, and receivables. Continue reading “An interview with Alastair Thomson author of Cash Flow Surge”

Cash Flow Surge: 101 No-Cost and Low-Cost Fast-Action Strategies to Boost Your Cash Flow

Cash Flow Surge: 101 No-Cost and Low-Cost Fast-Action Strategies to Boost Your Cash Flow

by Alastair Thomson

In college I took a course called Small Business Finance. The main thing I remember from this course is the emphasis on “cash flow, cash flow, cash flow.” Alastair Thomson is an accountant who has been a CFO and CEO of several businesses in the U.K., across variety of industries. He wrote this book for owners of small and medium-size businesses. While cash flow and profit are not the same thing, many of the ideas in the book can improve both.

The 101 chapters cover suppliers and expenses, customers and revenue, staffing and procedures, communication, insurance, logistics, contracts, and technology. Here are some snippets: Continue reading “Cash Flow Surge: 101 No-Cost and Low-Cost Fast-Action Strategies to Boost Your Cash Flow”

Schtick to Business

Schtick to Business: What the masters of comedy can teach you about breaking rules, being fearless, and building a serious career

by Peter McGraw

This book is about applying the wisdom of successful comedians to business management. Topics include targeting your audience and differentiating your brand, the creative process, innovation, diversity, teamwork, and writing skills. Peter McGraw is a behavioral economist, professor, and director of the Humor Research Lab (HuRL). Continue reading “Schtick to Business”

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

by Leo M. Tilman and Gen. Charles Jacoby (Ret.)

“The need for agility in business, government and warfare arises precisely from the uncertainty and complexity of the competitive environment.”

I imagine both co-authors of Agility have some battle scars—Tilman from Bear Stearns during the 2008 financial industry crisis and Jacoby from his career in the U.S. Army where he achieved the rank of 4-star general. Kidding aside, this book goes beyond military metaphors and presents a fusion of military and business thinking about risk intelligence and uncertainty as well as a leadership approach that emphasizes truth (as opposed to assumptions), trust, clear communication, and executional dexterity throughout the organization.

Complex adaptive systems “are constantly changing and evolving. They lack centralized control. They are inhabited by a multitude of stakeholders driven by distinct objectives, risk tolerances and modes of operation. These players interact in dynamic tension with one another, alternating between the urge to recoil from and engage in risk-taking and aggression. Their actions and adaptations lead to entirely unpredictable patterns and outcomes.” Continue reading “Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption”

Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

by Geoff Colvin

“The number of people who wrongly believed they could never be replaced by a computer keeps growing.” So what are the skills in which humans can maintain a competitive advantage over machines?

“Skills of interaction are becoming the key to success… Now, as technology drives forward more powerfully every year, the transition to the newly valuable skills of empathizing, collaborating, creating, leading, and building relationships is happening faster than corporations, governments, education systems, or most human psyches can keep up with.”  Continue reading “Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will”

The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics

by Jerry Z. Muller

“This book argues that while they are a potentially valuable tool, the virtues of accountability metrics have been oversold, and their costs are often underappreciated.” There are chapters on the dysfunction of “metric fixation” in colleges and universities; schools; medicine; policing; the military; business; and philanthropy. Problems include gaming the system, costs exceeding benefits, and diverting effort from the core mission. A major theme is metrics as a substitute for competent judgment.  Continue reading “The Tyranny of Metrics”

HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

The objective of this book is to help managers make better data-driven decisions by working with data analysts and data scientists. The guide is a compendium adapted from 23 previously published Harvard Business Review and hbr.org articles.

“Framing a problem… is the most important stage of the analytical process for a consumer of big data. It’s where your business experience and intuition matter most. After all, a hypothesis is simply a hunch about how the world works. The difference with analytical thinking, of course, is that you use rigorous methods to test the hypothesis.”

Continue reading “HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers”

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

by Tom DeMarco

Slack is an outstanding management book full of wisdom about corporate culture, change, failure, learning, quality, risk management, productivity, and managing people.

“You can’t grow if you can’t change at all.” Slack is “the lubricant of change… Slack represents operational capacity sacrificed in the interests of long-term health… Learning to think of it that way (instead of as waste) is what distinguishes organizations that are ‘in business’ from those that are merely busy.”

Continue reading “Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency”