Steve Jobs

Every so often I purchase a book as soon as it hits the bookstores. Every so often, I sit and read a book cover to cover. This book is worth that level of commitment. Walter Isaacson has written a masterful account of the life of Steve Jobs.

This book was a revelation as to the unwavering determination of Jobs in delivering on his vision.  Isaacson doesn’t pull his punches as to how difficult Jobs could be professionally or personally. Jobs was determined from the outset to connect creativity with technology and managed to revolutionize six industries: personal computers, animation, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing. Rebel, genius, sometimes a jerk – Jobs epitomized the force needed to sustainably drive ideas to action.  If you haven’t seen his  Stanford graduation address, it’s a great place to start before opening the book.

In Job’s own words:

“I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they are trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now.”

For all that follow or are curious of the ‘cult of apple’, this is a great read.  For all those who choose to stand on the shoulders of giants, who are determined to innovate, to “think different”, this book provides both instruction and inspiration. A joy to add to my book collection. A loss of a great mind. My hope is that his dream lives on.

Order the book: Steve Jobs

Brand Leadership

For anyone interested in branding, David Aaker is a must read. Most strategists know that brand awareness, quality, customer loyalty and brand associations are necessary to compete in today’s market.  Aaker provides many examples and methods to drive brand equity.  Emphasis is on relationship not transactions – as it should be.  Having this book in your arsenal as you face the challenges of social media, explosion of amount and complexity of data, a growing proliferation of channels and devices and shifting customer demographics and psychographics will allow you to sleep at night.

Brand Leadership

Fixing the Game

Roger Martin has a special place on my bookshelf.  Martin is the Dean of Business at Roman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and a vocal advocate for design thinking.  He is an expert at linking theory and practice, and this new offering is no exception.  If you have wondered how capitalism has brought us to our current economic situation, Martin explains the differences between the expectations market and the real market.  Using the NFL as his primary example, Martin provides a thoughtful and entertaining expose of corporate greed and how we can change the game.  The focus for the NFL is on the fans, the customer, not the owners of the teams.  If you please the fans, the owners get their reward. If you annoy the fans, the owners go bankrupt.  Novel lesson that needs to be heeded by every organization.  Focusing on the maximization of shareholder profit clearly doesn’t work.

A welcome addition to my library!

Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL

Book Review: Shock of Gray

Ted C. Fishman, the best-selling author of China, Inc. has created another book destined for great dinner party conversations.  In Shock of Gray, Fishman explores the aging of the world’s population and how it will change our perceptions of what it means to be an ‘elder’ with global impact.  For example, by 2025 China will be home to one-fifth of the world’s population, but home to one-fourth of all people over sixty-five. In our obsession with the war on talent, how to attract the best and the brightest workers is keeping many leaders awake at night.  Source of competitive advantage? We know that entrepreneurial thinking (in small or large organizations)  will drive our economy away from the brink of recession. But were you aware that of entrepreneurs over 65, nearly 1 out of every 20 is starting a new business?  Old, experienced and cagey may still provide an advantage for those smart enough to seek out the ‘elder’ crowd.  The greatest strengths of older and wiser are the networks and connections built over the years – a distinct advantage for those who understand the power of trusted relationships.

I can’t say that this book is a pleasant read, but it certainly held my interest to the last page.   Information worth having.  Information worth using, especially if you are concerned with attracting and keeping talent.

Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World’s Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation


For further information go to Simon and Shuster for video interview with Fishman.

A Fair Country

John Ralston Saul is a new author in my library.  Why it took me this long to find him – well, maybe reading too many business books!  A Fair Country is a great read – thought provoking, sometimes irritating and accurate (at least in my mind) of its interpretation of CanadaCanadians are like icebergs in that we may appear simple on the surface but are in reality very complex people.  A Fair Country helps to understand this complexity and begin to explore what it really means to be “Canadian”.  This is a book that I will ensure that every student I teach reads. Every entrepreneur should have this book on their desk. Why? To help us find comfort in our own skin.  The author says it best:

“When Canadians are asked — as citizens, not as representatives of interest groups or employees — what lies at the heart of their civilization, they are most likely to reply: fairness and inclusion.”

“As for Canadians, we would find ourselves for the first time thinking about our legitimacy in a way that is true to this place and to its people.”

A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada (See all Politics Books)

Beyond Performance

Every so often a book comes along that merits special attention, and this would be one of them.  Authors Scott Keller and Colin Price (McKinsey & Company) have nailed how to achieve competitive advantage. Building and maintaining a talent pipeline will be a crucial component of organizational health.  Most organizations fail at efforts to transform to the new economy based on intellectual capital.  Keller and Price provide not only the solid research evidence but also a toolbox to deliver sustainable results and explain why ‘best practices’ can be your worst enemy.

Sample download chapters, a short video interview  as well as additional information are available

This is a book I would not only recommend to industry CEO’s but also use as an academic textbook – I think the message is that important. If you are interested in talent management and building a sustainable corporate culture to keep your best, this book is a must.  Don’t miss it!

Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Five Frogs on a Log

If you have ever participated in a merger, you know the difference between heaven and hell.  Unfortunately, about 75% of M&A activity in North America fails.  How to shift the results to a better outcome?  Mark Feldman and Michael Spratt from PriceWaterhouseCoopers have produced an interesting book on how to avoid a negative outcome.  Its a fun read, doesn’t pull any punches and delivers a no-nonsense approach to getting the job done.  The advice provided can be used to solve current operational issues or speed up new product development. Not written in consultant-speak, but plain ordinary english.   A great little tool to have in your library!

Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO’s Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change

Ginger Grant is a professional keynote speaker and expert on corporate culture and the only Canadian in the Stanford Creativity in Business teacher/trainer/consulting group.  Interested in hearing more about corporate culture and how it can transform your organization.  Contact her today.

The Organization of the Future

Happy New Year! This book will inspire you in 2011. The Leader to Leader Institute has always been a source of excellent reads – and this is no exception. Twenty-six essays from some of the recognized thought leaders of our time. Sub-titled visions, strategies, and insights on managing in a new era, the book is filled with practical wisdom that will guide you in purpose and performance.

The Organization of the Future (The Drucker Foundation)

Good Boss, Bad Boss

Bob Sutton is always an entertaining read – whenever he comes out with a new book, I try and grab it immediately. This one is no exception. Sutton weaves real-life examples with behavior science theory to explain how good bosses can stay that way and how to avoid the bad ones. You decide which category you fit in and perhaps make a few adjustments along the way.

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst

ReInventing Talent Management

Now that the Fall has arrived in earnest, it is time to take a look at what matters in our current economic climate. Talent Management should be the main focus of strategic intent as we climb out of our recession. Maximizing performance is key to economic survival. What talent management factors influence one-third of your financial performance? Interested in improving the bottom line as well as creating a culture where innovation is key? Do you know how to measure for impact? This book is a must for anyone involved in talent management.

Reinventing Talent Management: How to Maximize Performance in the New Marketplace