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Power Of Onlyness, The How To Make Your Ideas Mighty Enough To Dent The World
Power Of Onlyness, The How To Make Your Ideas Mighty Enough To Dent The World
by Nilofer Merchant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead, 21 Sept. 2017
To what does the title of this book refer? Nilofer Merchant explains: “No one doubts that ideas are central to this economy, that creativity is needed to solve the many problems at hand. Yet, far too often, people are told that being the ‘only one’ makes their ideas marginal instead of meaningful. Onlyness is about reclaiming the idea of each person’s ‘only’ as a strength. It braids together the two key elements. First: You stand in a spot in the world that ONLY you stand in, a function of your history, and experiences, visions, and hopes. Second: Now, you can scale that by shared connectedNESS, so the capacity to add value is widely dispersed. S in 2012, I coined a new term…ONLYNESS. Through the power of onlyness, an individual conceives an idea, nurtures it with the help of a community, and makes that idea powerful enough to dent the world.”

In this context, I am again reminded of an observation by Howard Aiken: “Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people's throats." Of course, if the person with a "wild idea" lacks sufficient faith in it, perhaps assuming that someone else has already thought of it, there will be little (if any) effort to advance it.

Merchant suggests that the problem is that many (if not most) people do not accept, indeed embrace their own onlyness, whatever the given idea, insight, vision, or dream may be. That is among the main reasons why so many (most?) people are unable to accept another person’s onlyness.

In this book, these are among the objectives that Merchant achieves:

o She explains why a person’s “only” matters and how it is not “a path to loneliness but instead a way to be powerfully connected” with one’s self as well as with others.

o She describes the power of [begin italics] us [end italics], “not only how to find one’s co-denters but why having this tribe to belong to is crucially important,” for any idea to have a chance to succeed.

o She explores how many people can act as one to achieve productive, perhaps breakthrough high-impact results “without sacrificing the individual meaning that initiated the journey.”

It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those most profitable with the greatest cap value in their competitive marketplace. However different these companies may be in most respects, all of them have a workplace culture within which most of their people think and behave in terms of first-person [begin italics] plural [end italics] pronouns.

This is precisely what Nilofer Merchant has in mind when referring to "shared connectedNESS.”


Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact
Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact
by Craig Ross
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Here is a science-driven system for creating the thinking, actions, and collaboration necessary for high-impact success, 20 Sept. 2017
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Organizational teams come in all shapes and sizes. In the business world, the emphasis is on solving problems, answering questions, and/or seizing opportunities that will help to achieve high-impact results.

In their book, Craig Ross, Angie Paccione, and Victoria Roberts share their thoughts about how and why great success can be achieved “when the best of each teammate is forth in relation to people around them.”

For example, here are the seven steps within the DBT Framework, accompanied by a few annotations of mine:

1. Commit to the human imperative: “Identify and align as team members to the human thinking and actions essential for delivering the business imperative.” Buy-in is usually an act of faith that must NEVER be betrayed.

2. Embody success (and leverage failure): Both positives and negatives tend to be highly contagious.

3. Choose to make three decisions: “Contribute, Activate, and Connect across the business.” Commit to a best effort and to helping everyone else to give their best effort.

4. Exercise your barrier-breaking authority: “The team determines what stands between them and success – both real and perceived.”

5. Focus on what matters: “The team uses the ‘3 Mind Factors’ [please see Pages 123-131] to concentrate on and deliver what causes big things to be achieved: the relationships and teamwork necessary to succeed.” Long ago, Stephen Covey said that executives spend too little time on what is important and too much time on what is urgent. I agree.

6. Energize around a shared reality: “Team members use the ‘Energy Map’ [please see Pages 144-163] to address issues with a similar frame of mind, enable people to better tell the truth, and function with authenticity.” It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of dissent that is both thoughtful and principled.

7. Mobilize hearts and minds forward: “Empower the team to own their role in delivering a stronger future.” Hearts must be touched just as minds must be convinced. Both.

All this is explained in greater detail in Pages 13-14.

Also, here are two of four new beliefs that a team must have to do big things:

1. To develop the team, you must develop the [begin italics] whole [end italics] team: “Culture change occurs as the members of the team, armed with greater shared awareness and consciousness, move through daily interactions repeating and reinforcing their new skills. Natural accountability to elevated norms takes place as individuals can sense that everyone is changing.”

2. In order to succeed, speed and efficiency must be combined with team members’ collective skill of adaptability: “When team members develop greater emotional and cognitive plasticity together (and every step in the DBT Framework supports in accomplishing this), they build the capability to adapt in a way that sticks.”

All four new beliefs are discussed in much greater detail in Pages 30-35.

Long ago, Henry Ford suggested, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” However compelling and inspiring a vision may be, however, most limits really are self-imposed but there remains the need for understanding HOW to “mobilize hearts and minds, and make an epic impact.” In this volume, Craig Ross, Angie Paccione, and Victoria Roberts provide an abundance of valuable in formation, insights, and counsel that – together – explain the HOW.


Competing on Analytics: Updated, with a New Introduction: The New Science of Winning
Competing on Analytics: Updated, with a New Introduction: The New Science of Winning
by Thomas Davenport
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to make "a strategic shift toward cognitive technologies in general, and machine learning in particular", 19 Sept. 2017
Almost everything I know about analytics I have learned from the articles and books co-authored by Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris. This is an updated and expanded edition of a business classic first published in 2007. They focus on an important lesson from their research: “Extracting value from information is not primarily a matter of how much data you have or what technologies you use to analyze it, though these can help. Instead, it’s how aggressively you exploit these resources and how much you use them to create new or better approaches to doing business.”

Briefly, Davenport and Harris define analytics as “the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive models, and fact based management to drive decisions and actions.” Analytics can be descriptive, predictive, prescriptive, and/or autonomous.

More specifically, consider the DELTA model developed by Tom years ago. As he explains, it continues to have five attributes:

1. Data: Analytical companies require integrated, high-quality, and easily accessible data about their businesses and markets.

2. Enterprise: Instead of managing their analytics resources in disconnected silos, highly analytical firms manage these resources — including data, technology, and analysts — in a coordinated fashion throughout the enterprise.

3. Leadership: One of the key factors driving success in analytics is strong, committed leaders who understand the importance of analytics and constantly advocate for their development and use in decisions and actions.

4. Targets: Organizations can’t be equally analytical about all aspects of their businesses, so they need to target specific business capabilities and functions to the extensive use of analytics.

5. Analysts: Analytical organizations succeed in part because they hire and train high-quality quantitative analysts and data scientists.

More information about this DELTA model is provided in Chapter 6.

It is important to keep in mind the most effective use of analytical capabilities “requires good information management capabilities to acquire, transform, manage, analyze, and act upon both external and internal data.” Business leaders must determine the right questions to ask in order to derive the greatest benefit from the answers that are provided by analytics.

For example, as Davenport and Harris explain, “Regardless of the approach, for companies to sustain a competitive advantage, analytics must be applied judiciously, executed well, and continually renewed. Companies that have analytical capabilities are:

o Hard to duplicate: It is one thing to copy another company’s IT applications or its products and their related attributes (such as price, placement, or promotion), quite another to replicate processes and culture.

o Unique: There is no single correct path to follow to become an analytical competitor, and the way every company uses analytics is unique to its strategy and market position.

o Capable of adapting to many situations: An analytical organization can cross internal boundaries and apply analytical capabilities in innovative ways.

o Better than the competition: Even in industries where analytical expertise and consistent data are prevalent, some organizations are just better at exploiting information than others.

o Renewable: Any competitive advantage needs to be a moving target, with continued improvement and reinvestment.

“One caveat: Companies in heavily regulated industries, or in those for which availability of data is limited, will be constrained from exploiting analytics to the fullest.”

Although Davenport and Harris have maintained the first edition’s chapter structure, they offer an entirely new Introduction and revised every chapter, with new content, new examples, and new research. “We’ve also added some content that has been around for a while, but that we hadn’t developed yet when we wrote the first edition.” The DELTA model was introduced in a previously published book, Analytics at Work (2010), co-authored with Robert Morison.

As I began to read this updated and expanded edition I was again reminded of an encounter that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein’s faculty colleagues at Princeton gently chided him for always asking the same questions on his final examinations. “Quite true. Guilty as charged. Each year, the answers are different.”

Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris continue to prepare business leaders to make the best possible decisions based on the best available information in order to help their organizations to achieve and then sustain a competitive advantage. However different the nature, source, and extent of the given data may be each year, the process remains the same.


Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision and Purpose with All of Today's Employees
Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision and Purpose with All of Today's Employees
by David Harder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb, 15 Sept. 2017
The problem to be solved is widely recognized and getting worse. The results of major research studies indicate that, on average in a U.S. company, less than 30% of the employees are actively and productively engaged; the others are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged (undermining the employer’s success). There are many reasons and they vary in nature and extent from one organization to another.

Add these pieces to the puzzle. First, the results of all major research studies indicate that employees rank “feeling appreciated” in the top three of what they consider most important. Also, companies annually ranked among those most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those most profitable and with the greatest cap value in their industry segment.

David Harder wrote this book to help business leaders solve the workplace engagement problem by finding “a common mission, vision, and purpose with all [or at least most] of today’s employees.”

I wholly agree with Harder that these two are among the main reasons why that strategic objective has been so elusive:

First, “Engagement only works as a democratic process. It is futile to expect an awakening when we use the old hierarchical model of pushing leaders to become skilled at drawing engagement out of talent. They will not respond to more manipulation. They need and crave personal involvement and individual transformation.”

Comment: C-level executives and other supervisors mull the same unspoken question that almost everyone else does: “What’s in it for me?”

Also, “We need to provide people with the skills to break out of the trance [of indifference]. For years, academics, management consultants, and human resource professionals have discussed the ‘broken employment contract.’ But, as we lost the promises and assurances of the Industrial Revolution, organizations have typically failed in defining what it is that we need to do in order to thrive within the rapid, disruptive, and transformative change we find ourselves in. By extension, much of today’s talent has obsolete work skills and no new life skills. Consequently, they become overwhelmed in simply trying to keep up with the change. We need to help them close these gaps.”

Comment: Harder wrote this book to help business leaders to respond effectively to these and other challenges. They, in turn, would be well-advised to keep in mind this passage from Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know;
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."

Near the end of this book, Harder observes: “In moving forward with The Workplace Engagement Solution, Make mid-managers your priority. Remember that they touch [begin italics] everything]. And of they leave, remember that tomorrow’s employer will be not be evaluated by how much they paid employees, but rather they will be judged by how much they grew them while they were there.”

In the final chapter, “Getting Started,” Harder stresses a number of key points while suggesting a multi-step process by which to proceed. Keep in mind that it really is an on-going process rather than an ultimate destination. Most change initiatives either fail or fall far below original expectations. Reasons vary from one organization to the next but there are at least two common realities: those who defend the status quo were probably involved in efforts to replace the previous status quo; also, the staunchest resistance tends to be cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

I commend David Harder on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides. Ultimately and obviously, however, each reader must select from the material what is most relevant to their own organization in terms of its needs, resources, values, and goals. However, it is imperative for everyone involved to share and commit to a compelling vision and mission, driven by a common purpose.


How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship
How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship
by Annie McKee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars “We have met the enemy and he is us.”, 6 Sept. 2017
Annie McKee is one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking leaders in business education and this book is the latest of several in which her cutting-edge thinking helps business leaders to make better decisions, have healthier relationships, and in countless other ways ensure that their organization develops a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

I selected the comment by Pogo the Possum to serve as the title of this brief commentary because it suggests, and I agree, that most of the limits that people struggle with are self-imposed. Some people may not understand what McKee means by “happiness.” Briefly, she views it as “a deep and abiding enjoyment of daily activities fueled by passion for meaningful purpose, a hopeful view of the future, and true friendship.”

For better or worse, a workplace culture is a [begin italics] human [end italics] community. Make of it what you will, the fact remains that most of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those most profitable with the greatest cap value. In these companies, mutual respect and trust serve as the “glue” to all internal and external relationships. In these
companies, the people think and behave in terms of first-person [begin italics] plural [end italics] pronouns.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of McKee’s coverage:

o Happiness at work: Purpose, Hope, and Friendship (Pages 2-6)
o Emotional Intelligence and Happiness: A Virtuous Circle (6-9)
o Defining Happiness at Work (16-17)
o Three Myths About Work (25-28)
o The Happiness Traps (30-45)

o Activate Your Emotional Intelligence (67)
o Purpose: Motivation from Within (68-73)
o Fix Problems and Contribute to the Greater Good (79-81)
o Discovering Your Calling in What You Are Doing Now (84-86)
o Three Elements of Hope: Vision, Plans, and Self-Improvement (97-102)

o Focus on Optimism and What Is Right (106-113)
o Belonging: Our Tribe at Work (128-131)
o Stress: The Happiness Killer (159-161)
o Four Stages of the Journey from Despair and Resignation to Happiness (172-181)
o Creating a Resonant Microculture (192-198)

I heartily commend McKee on her skillful provision of end-of-chapter exercises that enable her readers to interact with key portions of the material; completion of these exercises will also facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points later.

That is why I strongly recommend having a lined notebook near at hand, to complete the exercises, of course, but also to record comments, questions, and other annotations. My personal notebook preference is the Mead "Marble" model.

Here are the end-of-chapter exercises:

Chapter 1. Defining Happiness for Myself (Page 21)
2. (Breaking Free from Traps and Destructive Mindsets, and An Exercise in Self-Awareness, Self-Management, and Courage 50-52)
3. Your Organization and Your Organization's Values (82-86)
4. Circles of Life, and, Dreams, Plans, and People (114-116)
5. Examining the Rules around Friendships at Work, and, Generosity and the Extra Mile (151-153)
6. Crafting a Personal Vision for My Life and Work, Seeing the Truth of Myself, and three other exercises 181-186)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that are provided but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of her and her work. I presume to conclude with an opinion of my own. While reading this book for the first time, It occurred me that the “happiness at work” (and elsewhere) that Annie McKee could be viewed as what I would call “joyful flow.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has described optimal experience as a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work. He says creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. A leading researcher in positive psychology, Csikszentmihalyi has devoted his life to studying what makes people truly happy: “When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” He is the architect of the notion of “flow”– the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake.

I agree with McKee that happiness at work is a choice. Those who read this book will be much better prepared to make a decision that requires a commitment to “deep and abiding enjoyment of daily activities fueled by passion for meaningful purpose, a hopeful view of the future, and true friendship.”


Streampunks: Youtube and the Rebels Remaking Media
Streampunks: Youtube and the Rebels Remaking Media
by Robert Kyncl
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why “attention is the currency of the digital age”, 5 Sept. 2017
Written by Robert Kyncl with Maany Peyvan, this book provides an authoritative examination of the increasingly larger role that YouTube plays in the contemporary world. As its chief business officer, his job is go help b ring information and entertainment to more than a billion people around the world, “including many in countries whose governments try to limit that access. And rather than offer a glimpse of the world, YouTube holds up a mirror to the entire human experience, reflecting all of our joys, all of our struggles, all of our news, and all of our history.”

Last week, for example, I signed into YouTube and again watched several of my favorite videos: A segment from one of the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie shows that involves the promotion of homemade lemonade; Mike Nichols and Elaine May doing their “cheap” funeral routine on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar; Edward R. Murrow’s interview of Robert Oppenheimer on CNS’s “See It Now”: A “60 Minutes” segment featuring Ed Bradley, Jonathan Winters, and Robin Williams; a film in which West Highland Terriers (Westies) play hide-and-seek; Steve Jobs’s commencement speech at Stanford; and a program by Zac George during which he explains how to train a puppy by using a Kong (it helps my wife and me to train our new Westie, Oliver). YouTube offer thousands of “windows” to all manner of human experiences as far back to what can be seen in the oldest remaining videos.

I agree with Kyncl. If attention really is the currency of the digital age, “every company should be after the biggest source of people’s attention: watching video. Watching video is the number one way human beings spend their free time. The average American spends more than five hours a day watching something on screen. There are only two things we spend more time doing: working and sleeping.”

These are among the subjects and issues of greatest interest and value to me, also shared to suggest the scope of Kyncl’s coverage:

o A thorough orientation to “a new class of creators”
o An explanation of why shelf space “is the key to understanding how the media industry works today”
o A discussion of who the Brooks Brothers (Hank and John) are and what their significance is insofar as the importance of online community building is concerned
o The relevance of authenticity to the changing nature of “celebrity”
o The relevance of Lilly Singh, Mr. Bean, and K-Pop to “the global melting pot”
o The unique importance of satire, representation, and bias to online video
o An explanation of the “deep appeal of narrow niches”
o An explanation of why today’s “stars” have to give 110 percent to their participation in a 24/7, VUCA world
o How to obtain funding in the digital world (i.e. how to monetize content)
o The nature and extent of the “New Business of the News Business”
o The meaning and significance of the fact that Casey Neistat "is making great ads again"
o Lessons to be learned from Neistat “who knows more about partnering successfully with brands” than anyone else does
o Unlike what would have been Thomas Carlyle’s approach, Kyncl examines “the decline and rise of the music industry”

These are among his concluding thoughts: “Video used to be the highest-walled garden in entertainment; it was the most expensive and most difficult medium to penetrate. But the global distribution of free platforms such as YouTube, combined with the ubiquity of smartphones, has turned it into a free market, where nearly anyone can throw his or hat into the ring. Some people who witness that phenomenon see only a fame-obsessed culture full of people who just want attention. But those critics see only an unflattering reflection of a far more meaningful picture.”

Those critics also have not read this book, Experienced YouTube, or checked out the Internet Creators Guild and VidCon, a multi-genre online video conference, held annually in Southern California since 2010. They would be well-advised to consider this prediction by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock (1984): “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Robert Kyncl and YouTube seem to be doing everything they can to reduce that illiteracy, if not eliminate it altogether. Bravo!


Wisdom Warriors: Journeys Through Leadership and Life | Women with Courage to be True to Themselves
Wisdom Warriors: Journeys Through Leadership and Life | Women with Courage to be True to Themselves
by Carol Seymour
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Weapons of creative construction: Empathy, Experience, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Collaboration, 30 Aug. 2017
It is a national disgrace that after the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights became law in 1789, it was not until 1920 that women were eligible to vote. Almost a century later, women now comprise about 47% of workers in the United States; own almost ten million companies; and have earned more graduate degrees in business, law, and medicine (to name but three of several). Nonetheless, women occupy only 17% of C-level positions. Worse yet, only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. That is unconscionable.

Carol Seymour interviewed more than 1,000 “Wisdom Warriors” – women with the courage and the character to become and then remain true to themselves which pursuing and succeeding in their careers. She shares what she learned from them – and what they learned from others -- organizing the information, insights and counsel within four separate thematic perspectives: Authenticity, Power, Peace, and Relationships.

As Seymour explains, “The stories in Wisdom Warriors are gathered from the executives who have attended, and taught, at the Signature Program over the years. They’re candid and authentic about their experiences; honest about their missteps. We see them testing the waters, making mistakes, and sometimes failing. They show us vulnerability. On any given day, the ordinary of one’s life might just be the story that changes another’s.”

Seymour learned that powerful women “embrace every opportunity and take advantage of the possibilities. They [begin italics] lead life intentionally [end italics]. That makes them better colleagues, mothers, spouses, friends, sisters, and leaders. It makes them better people.”

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer’s Market at which a few merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a representative selection of brief comments by a few of the Wisdom Warriors featured in the book.

“When you have no road map. you have to chart your own course. Every thing is possible, because you don’t have a map of what not to do.” Ann Fandozzi, CEO of ABRA Auto

“I found that I needed to have a much stronger personal statement. It needs to identify, and very clearly state, the two or three things for which I am known and valued in my company; the things that help me make more contributions to my company.” Tejal Kasria, VP Tax and Enterprise Risk Management/Catalent, Inc.

“Expose yourself to change and go for the unknown. Don’t stay where you are, because then you’ll never know your limits. The uncomfortable situations make you better.” Nese Tagma, Managing Director,

“My father used to say, ‘The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.’ Don’t get into a rut doing the same old stuff, because you may as well lie in your grave.” Anne Hill, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Avery Dennison

“”You practice, you do swell. You practice more, you do even better. You practice a lot, you win!” Joan Wainwright, President, Channel and Customer Experience, TE Connectivity

“You can’t have any one else define your boundaries for you. You have to define them for yourself.” Teri McClure, Chief Human Resources Officer and SVP, Labor Relations, United Parcel Service of America, Inc.

“I only have one life. Work is part of my life. It’s one pie, and I divide it differently based on what I need to deal with at the moment.” Sarena Lin, President, Feed & Nutrition/Cargill

“You’ve got to give people space. If you do, they will occupy it.” Linda Knoll, Chief Human Resources Officer of CNH Industrial, N.V, and Chief Human Resources Officer/Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, N.V.

“When asked, ‘Who can be a reference for you?,’ it’s important to recognize that it is not about who you know, but who really knows you.” Pam Kimmet, Chief Human Resources Officer/Cardinal Health

I share Carol Seymour’s fervent hope: “Whatever you do...pass it along; to your neighbor, your direct report, your cousin, or your daughter. The torch of wisdom burns bright, and the Wisdom Warriors in this book share the honor of carrying it with you.”

There are battles yet to be won in today’s business world. We need men as well as women to fight them, armed with knowledge and wisdom. Together, true to themselves and to their shared vision and mission, I am certain they will prevail. Let’s all hope that doesn’t require decades to achieve!

* * *
As previously indicated, I think the material in this volume is of the very highest quality, meticulously edited by Rob Seymour. I also wish to acknowledge brilliant contributions by Patricia Frey (Design) and Abby Pickus (Lotus Design).


Do it, Mean it, be it: The Keys to Achieve Success, Happiness and Everything You Deserve at Work and in Life
Do it, Mean it, be it: The Keys to Achieve Success, Happiness and Everything You Deserve at Work and in Life
by Corrie Shanahan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead, 24 Aug. 2017
I cite the Margaret Mead reminder because it expresses so well the importance of respect for one’s self as well as for others. In fact, it is difficult (if not impossible) to respect others if you don’t respect yourself.

There is no shortage of books that offer advice on how to accelerate one’s personal growth and/or professional development. Paralleling a bromide from the residential real estate industry that “for every house there’s a buyer,” it also seems true that “for every a self-improvement book there’s a reader.”

I have no doubt that for many people, Corrie Shanahan’s book will prove to be among the most valuable they will ever read but only if (HUGE “if)” they read it and then re-read it with care, and, then make a best effort to apply the information, insights, and counsel that are [begin italics] most relevant to their circumstances [end italics].

One of the major of strengths of Shanahan’s approach is that after she has briefly but sufficiently identified the WHAT and explained the WHY, she focuses most of her attention on HOW. I also admire her skillful use of Exercises and boxed self-assessments. These devices help to facilitate her reader’s interaction with the material. I highly recommend having a lined notebook (I prefer the Mead “Marble” model) in which to record notes, comments, questions, etc.

In Breaking Bad Habits, Freek Vermeulen suggests that sometimes “inefficient practices and strategies spread and persist for decades, or even longer. They persist just like viruses persist inn nature. They take on lives of their own and continue operating despite leading to suboptimal results in companies that embody them. The good news is that smart managers and purposefully identify and eradicate them, and then turn them into a profitable source of renewal and innovation.”

Corrie Shanahan fully understands how and why organizations as well as individuals can become hostage to what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” It is also true that organizations as well as individuals can adopt practices and develop the kinds of habits that will help them to “achieve success, happiness, and everything [they] deserve at work and in life.”

I think this book will be especially valuable for those now preparing for a professional career or have only recently embarked on one. Also, to business coaches. And finally, I highly recommend it to all supervisors because the material will help them to expedite their own personal growth and professional development as well as the personal growth and professional development of those entrusted to their care.


Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel
Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel
by John Stubbs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.29

5.0 out of 5 stars The “reluctant rebel” who was “large,” who “contained multitude”, 23 Aug. 2017
Amazon has a policy that gives preferential placement to reviews of books that have been purchased from Amazon. Therefore, there will be little (if any) opportunity to read reviews by others who receive a copy as a gift, borrow one from a friend or check out a copy from a library. This is a really stupid policy.

* * *

There is no shortage of biographical material about Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) so for most people, what Robert DeMaria, Jr. provides on Amazon will probably suffice: “Born in 1667, Jonathan Swift was an Irish writer and cleric, best known for his works Gulliver s Travels, A Modest Proposal, and A Journal to Stella, amongst many others. Educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity in February 1702, and eventually became Dean of St. Patrick s Cathedral in Dublin. Publishing under the names of Lemeul Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, and M. B. Drapier, Swift was a prolific writer who, in addition to his prose works, composed poetry, essays, and political pamphlets for both the Whigs and the Tories, and is considered to be one of the foremost English-language satirists, mastering both the Horatian and Juvenalian styles. Swift died in 1745, leaving the bulk of his fortune to found St. Patricks Hospital for Imbeciles, a hospital for the mentally ill, which continues to operate as a psychiatric hospital today.“

Here are John Stubbs’s concluding remarks in the Introduction:

“Swift came to equate the government of his day with a systemic betrayal of its duty. Accordingly, his work sought revenge. In this respect his creativity reached its pinnacle with a nonpareil work of political horror: the Modest Proposal of 1729, in which a deranged yet icily rational social pragmatist suggests that the babies of Ireland’s poor might be butchered for food. A source of despair for Swift was that he could have no vengeance for his own unhappiness, a misery largely corresponding to that expressed so copiously and humorously in the Travels: the distress, namely, of a man who never quite belonged where he found himself. The first and worst cause of this suffering, in Swift’s mind, was the place where he was born, and where – despite his best efforts – he would live out his days.”

Although Stubbs never suggests this correlation, I think that there is a dominant theme (dislocation) for Swift’s life and work just as there is another dominant theme (suffocation) for the life and work of James Joyce. Before re-reading the Swift biography, I re-read Dubliners and felt almost suffocated myself while doing so. I wonder what Stubbs thinks about all this.

These are among the subjects and related issues discussed by Stubbs that are of greatest interest and value to me, also shared to suggest the scope of his coverage:

o The extent to which Swift’s childhood had a permanent impact (for better or worse) on his life and work in years to come
o Who and what had the greatest influence on his personal growth
o And on his professional development, both as a clergyman and as an author
o What Swift cherished most...and why
o What Swift hated most...and why
o The defining characteristics of his adult (personal) life
o And of his adult (professional) life
o Swift’s evolving relationships with various cities, notably Dublin and London
o The most significant reasons for (suggested in the biography’s subtitle) his “reluctance” to rebel
o His closest friends and most important allies (e.g. Alexander Pope, William Congreve, John Boyle Orrery, Reverend Patrick Delaney, and Sir William Temple)
o The relationships with women (notably his mother Abigail and the two Esthers,) and what they reveal about his views of women
o Swift’s perspectives on classical and modern learning
o How he viewed his own mortality
o For what he wished to be remembered
o The literary work of which he was proudest to be its author...also why.

Centuries after Swift’s death, Walt Whitman claimed that he was “large” and “contained multitudes.” The same can also be said of Swift. From a 21st-century perspective, he seems to personify a number of major contradictions that, for me, are most evident in Gulliver’s Travels when, for example, he juxtaposes a giant Gulliver in Lilliput with a miniature Gulliver in Brobdingnag. Stubbs suggests that Swift’s faith “left him free to partake in the exchanges of stoic apothegms he enjoyed with his learned friends.” He could be blithely un-Christian but “the theatrical metaphor [‘life is a ridiculous tragedy’] preserves the essence of Swift’s very conventional belief.”

Recently, as I reviewed highlighted passages, I began to think about co-hosting with Stubbs a “fantasy dinner” and those who would be invited. My own choices are Eleanor of Aquitaine, Shakespeare, Swift, Montaigne, Dickens, Richard Feynman, Jonathan Winters, and Katherine Hepburn.

I defer to John Stubbs for remarks that conclude his brilliant book as well as this modest commentary: “Much as he relished the fray, Swift would always deny that he had turned renegade. The degenerates who had taken over government, Parliament, the Crown – it was they who had left him no option but resistance. This was Swift’s line of argument; and this, as well he knew, was the reasoning of a rebel, however reluctant.”


Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise (Agency/Distributed)
Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise (Agency/Distributed)
by Schneider
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A science-based system that can help eliminate the people problems an organization has now and prevent others from occurring, 17 Aug. 2017
Before reading this book, I did not know that there is a “science of living systems.” Before reading that sentence, did you? According to William Schneider, “The science of living systems encompasses an amazing set of scientific disciplines: subatomic physics, biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, information theory, cognitive theory, psychology, anthropology, sociology, ecology, cosmology, and astrophysics (among others). What has emerged from the research is that all living systems share distinctive characteristics. Each system is w hole, and it is not reducible to its components. Its distinctive nature derives from [begin italics] dynamic relationships [end italics] of its parts.”

Here is what he helps his reader to understand:

o The four living enterprises (i.e. control, collaboration, competence, and cultivation)
o The system-centric mindset and how to adopt it
o How to determine an organization’s type
o Leadership drivers for each type
o What a “customer promise” and why it so important
o The nature and extent of that promise for each type
o How best to keep it

It is important to keep in mind, Schneider suggests, that “the four enterprise types are four different worlds and can’t practice empowerment or culture the same way.”

Then in Part II (Chapters 7-12), he thoroughly examines a proven methodology for getting an organization’s customers, promise to them, workplace culture, and leadership in proper alignment, with mutually beneficial relationships between and among them, and then sustaining that alignment, making whatever adjustments may be necessary to preserve the health of the given enterprise.

One of the most important vital signs of a healthy organization is that it has effective leadership at all levels and in all areas. Years ago, Tom Campbell observed that those with a title are identified as a manager “but your people will determine whether or not you are a leader.” This astute observation again reminds of me a passage in Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know;
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."

Schneider recommends and briefly explains organizational assessments that have been validated by more than 38,000 people in 57 enterprises. They are Enterprise Customer Promise Indicator (ECPD)™, Enterprise Culture Indicator (ECI)™, and Enterprise Leadership Team Indicator (ELTI)™ as well as the Individual Leader Indicator (ILI)™. For more information about these assessments, please visit the CDG website: http://cdg-corp.com/.

I agree with William Schneider: “Adaptation strengthens you and your enterprise. At the end of the day, ‘heading directly into the wind’ with your customer is the only real option that you have.”

Bon voyage!


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