Book Club 2014

Successful people write books, sharing how they created wealth, health and fulfillment. How nice of them! Here is my latest list of personal favorites. Note that I don’t agree with everything written on every page. Each author and each book has brilliant moments.

Read and reap. And we can have a Book Club! Send me your thoughts, and your favorite books, and we’ll chat on my blog at

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Your employees are not slaves. So often, managers and owners are devastated when their employees don’t open their wrists for the company every single day. These same leaders treat their employees like indentured servants. Where is the love? Where is the promise to back your team up, in good times and bad times? When is OK to make a mistake?

In Simon Sinek’s latest polemic on management, he shares stories from his work with the military and other organizations where caring for each other comes first. That trust and support sets the stage for excellence in production and service.

If you are technically persuaded, Sinek presents interesting scientific support for his theories. He also cites evidence in nature for his Circle of Safety concept. For example, when a tiger charges a water buffalo, the herd of buffalos circle up – tails together, horns out – to repel the attack. All for one.

Sinek seems to minimize the need for systems and accountability. But, these are not at odds with a people-first company. Nobody wants to be 100 miles from the shop and realize the part he should have in the back of his truck isn’t there. Your team won’t fight you on developing systems if you involve them in the process. As a personal friend, I find Simon Sinek always inspiring. Also, check out his TED talks at

Chi Running by Danny Meyers

I’ve been a runner since age 13. After more than 40 years of running, I developed a weird hip thing and was sidelined. Am I just too old to run? Have I worn myself out?

My chiropractor recommended this book. Today, I ran seven pain-free miles, and I’m planning my next half marathon.

“Chi Running” made the list because wealth without health doesn’t equal success. And, the Chi principles of incorporating deep breathing, good posture, balance, and energy efficiency into your running spill over into your life. As I type, I am sitting taller and remembering to inhale and exhale. Ahhhh. All good for the body, the soul and business.

It’s been a challenge to “break” my running style and try something new. As a result, I have discovered new empathy for my clients. Habits are often useful, always sticky, and developing a new way to run or work or lead is an exposing, vulnerable, sometimes scary endeavor.

Chi Walking is also available.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Thanks, Steve Klochko, for sharing this with me. Steve has an impressive, fast growing company – a Gazelle – and I’ve been visiting with him about how he and his team keep up, and not blow up. Inspired by John D. Rockefeller, legions of business experts have dissected his “habits” in the hope of replicating his success.

Gazelles, Inc, a management training company, has assembled the Rockefeller Habits Checklist. The list includes:

  1. As goes the executive team, goes the rest of the firm.
  2. Everyone is aligned with the No. 1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward.
  3. Communication rhythm is established. Information moves through organization accurately and quickly.
  4. Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met.
  5. Ongoing employee feedback and input is systematized to remove obstacles and identify opportunities.
  6. Reporting and analysis of customer feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data.
  7. Core ideologies are alive in the organization.
  8. Clear understanding of the firm’s market position drives strategic planning, sales and marketing.
  9. All employees can report at any time what their productivity is and how it compares to goals.
  10. A situation room is established for the weekly executive team meeting.

I suspect Rockefeller never put his approach into this kind of formal language. Verne Harnish’s book is an attempt to simplify the concepts and help you move from strategy to action. It’s a solid read for this reason and it’s a valiant attempt. It can be simpler, still, so look for ways to streamline the forms and processes.

This book made the list because fast, profitable, sustainable growth is a hot topic for me and so many of my clients. You too? Enjoy!

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

This is a profoundly simple book based on a great success tip: Pay yourself first. While Michalowicz eschews Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), the concepts presented are really just a different way of looking at the same accounting. The distinction is discipline. It takes discipline to make sure that your salary, as an expense, is honored and paid, before you run out of money every month. It takes discipline to hold back a portion of your profits for a rainy day or the shoulder season. And, as my mentor Frank Blau says, “It takes a reasonable selling price to make sure there is enough there in the first place.”

The best parts of this book are Michalowicz’s personal stories…from the troublemaking employee to the successful entrepreneur and unsuccessful venture capitalist. The day he realizes he lost everything and has to come clean to his wife makes for riveting reading. And, he presents his “lessons learned” in a powerful, workable approach to putting profit first.

Not a ‘must read’ but a ‘must see’

I was so sad to hear of Joan River’s death. While I’m a fan of her comedy, she has been a hero to me on so many other levels… as a humanitarian, business owner and matriarch.

My nephew, Christian Frech, is an accomplished restaurateur. He has worked in Park City, Utah, for many years and played host to dozens and dozens of celebrity events, as part of the Sundance Film Festival. A few years ago, I asked Christian, “Who is the best celebrity you have worked with?”

Christian said, “Hands down, no contest, it’s Joan Rivers. She has tremendous star power. When she enters a room, you know it. Big energy. Yet, she is the kindest, most polite, most generous person. When we helped her host a party for her documentary, she insisted that we provide dinners for all the assistants and drivers who helped put the party together and get the guests to the event. She left a giant tip, to make sure all restaurant personnel were included. She was a gracious, caring hostess. First class.”

Huh? I didn’t expect that. So, I watched the documentary. Joan Rivers was all that and a bag of chips. She took care of hundreds of people, thousands if you include the work she has done with her charity, God’s Love We Deliver (

The charity provides thousands of meals daily to people who are ill, and to the people who care for them. Oh, that I could live a life as large and impactful. Thanks, Joan Rivers, for the inspiration.

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