The Ministry of Common Sense Strives to Bring Empathy Back

The Ministry of Common Sense Strives to Bring Empathy Back


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Global branding expert Martin Lindstrom is on a mission to restore common sense to modern business. In this book, he shares dozens of real-life examples of customer experiences gone wrong along with a process to bring common sense back.

The Ministry of Common Sense

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“Companies are so entangled in their own internally generated issues, and further beset by reams of invisible red tape inside employees’ heads, that they lose sight of their core purpose — and inevitably pay the price.”  — Martin Lindstrom, The Ministry of Common Sense

Common Sense Has Left The Building

Martin Lindstrom was having dinner with his publishing team.  He’d spent the day preparing a list of book ideas that, frankly, fell flat. That’s when one team member asked him what was closest to his passion.  And his answer was “common sense” — or the lack of common sense that he faced with companies that made buying and using their products a hellish customer experience.

In his latest book, The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses, and Corporate BS, Lindstrom shares dozens of these examples along with a process to overcome this corporate insanity.

Lindstrom Gets to What’s Underneath a Great Brand

For decades, Martin Lindstrom has been helping brands like Microsoft, Pepsi and Lego create memorable brands.  He’s written eight books that shared his research and insights about why we buy, how to harness data, the unique way our senses influence our buying decisions, and even the tricks advertisers use to influence our buying decisions

By any measure, he’s had a successful career. But after some self-reflection, he realized that, while his work was transformative and important, it felt like a hit-and-run.  He didn’t like the idea that he would show up, provide ideas and strategies, and leave it up to the company to implement. 

Over the last few years, he’s committed himself toward transforming businesses and cultures from the inside out. And it’s from this perspective that The Ministry of Common Sense gets its juice.

Who is the Audience for The Ministry of Common Sense?

One of the first questions I ask myself is “who is this book written for?”  The Ministry of Common Sense made that a bit of a challenge to answer.

The most obvious audience for this book is the C-level executive in a large global company.  The idea is that he reads this book, reflects on his organization, and wonders if his company was one of these “Corporate Darwin Awards” examples. Because you certainly don’t want to be “That Guy”. 

Small business owners would also benefit from reading this book.  Sure, your business isn’t as big as these examples, but it’s a cautionary tale for those entrepreneurs who are scaling their business.  If that’s you, you’ll find a virtual playbook for what NOT to do.

Finally, I think the other person this book was written for was — Martin Lindstrom. It took me about two rounds of reading and rereading to see that.

In the introduction, Marshall Goldsmith called the book “funny, entertaining and informative”.  This threw me for a loop because it seemed a bit different from Lindstrom’s previous books. Then I read what inspired the book in the acknowledgments (which are at the end in my review copy). That’s when I made the connection. 

I think this book was therapeutic for him.  It’s like he just couldn’t deal with the “crazy” anymore and simply had to tell it like it is. 

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The Ministry of Common Sense was like the unvarnished truth about the day in the life of a global branding expert. As a marketer myself, I didn’t know if I was supposed to envy him or feel sorry for him.    

Empathy is at the Core of  The Ministry of Common Sense

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of this book.  As I said before, it’s a little different from your typical Martin Lindstrom book.  There isn’t a lot of research or data in this one.  The stories and “case studies” are basically a plethora of experiences from his life as a consultant over the years.

If the key question is “What happened to common sense?” Then the answer is “Putting rules, technology and legal compliance before empathy.”

You wouldn’t know it by the chapter names, but each chapter is a drill-down of how internal politics, technology, compliance, and policies that keep large companies “organized” ultimately get in the way of common sense.

I think that the model he presents, with empathy at the core, could have used some type of graphic so that the reader can understand how all of these elements connect and impact one another.  

How to Bring Common Sense Back

The tension in the book revolves around the question of “How am I supposed to fix this?!” This doesn’t get answered until the end.  The final chapter of the book provides some guidance as to how you might put common sense at the center of your business and how to go about changing some policies in the form of commonly asked questions and Lindstrom’s answers.

Here are a couple of recommendations I gleaned from the book that I think will be most helpful for small to mid-sized businesses:

  • Shop your own business. Think of a way to give yourself the exact same experience that your customers have. Define a task, call in, use the website, etc.  If you run a face-to-face business such as a restaurant or retail, get a secret shopper (it’s more affordable than you’d think). 

  • Get into your customer’s world.  This might include simply asking your customers, visit your customers. Explore what they are really thinking about when they use your product or service. 

  • Ask your employees and then LISTEN.  Vow to make small changes based on their feedback. 

Are We In a Common Sense Revolution?

The Ministry of Common Sense isn’t the first book I’ve reviewed on this topic.  Would You Do That to Your Mother (2018)  is another book that pokes the corporate bear in the hopes of inciting a common sense revolution. 

However, I think that it will take more than a book or two to do that.  Perhaps a global pandemic might do the trick.

Remarkably, Lindstrom has incorporated the COVID-19 disruption in this book. In fact, there are several non-common-sensical examples of how companies are trying to do the right thing with unintended consequences. 

But that’s beside the point. 

Disruptions tend to lay bare inconsistencies, gaps and all the different ways that we make life unnecessarily difficult for customers.  

And for this reason, I wonder if The Ministry of Common Sense might nudge more companies toward embracing empathy as a core value and simplifying our lives. If they aren’t sure where to start, they should ask Martin Lindstrom.  I’m sure he’d be happy to help.

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Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business

Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business


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Not sure what to do next in your business? Fix This Next will help you focus on what you need to do to keep your business successful.

Fix This Next

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If there’s one word that describes the daily life of a small business owner it’s “overwhelm”. 

Where the overwhelm comes from is no mystery according to Mike Michalowicz.  The answer to overwhelm lies in our tendency to try to fix everything all at once. 

In his new book, overwhelm, he unpacks the issue of entrepreneurial overwhelm in his usual everyday-lay-language way.

What Makes Michalowicz The Pied Piper of Entrepreneurs?

Simon Sinek has said that Mike Michalowicz is a prime contender for being the patron saint of entrepreneurs.  I’m not sure I’d agree.  I prefer to call Mike the Pied Piper of entrepreneurs. 

Mike Michalowicz has earned the right to lead entrepreneurs toward success.  He’s unabashedly self-revealing in each of his books.  

He’s not afraid of embracing and sharing his failures. But it’s not just that. He talks about his mistakes from a profoundly human point of view. He reveals the “ugly” and “shameful” elements we can all understand and relate to.  Most importantly, he has a way of transforming those lessons into processes and models that can help others.

His books are written as a real-time entrepreneurial journey.  

  • Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (2008) how to bootstrap your first business.

  • The Pumpkin Plan (2012) how to grow your business.

  • Surge (2016), how to identify trends in your marketplace.  

  • Profit First (2017), how to guarantee a profitable business

Fix This Next Provides Focus Where It Matters Most

Fix This Next an interesting book because it focuses on fixing the biggest problem small business owners have — not knowing what their biggest problem is!

Michalowicz uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a template to introduce what he calls the “Business Hierarchy of Needs”.

“The business hierarchy of needs doesn’t represent stages in business growth.  They are levels of needs. Your business will not climb the hierarchy in a linear fashion but move up and down levels as it progresses. “

This is a great metaphor to use because it’s something we all understand intuitively and deeply.  

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Michalowicz successfully creates a context and framework from which to view your business and from which you can easily focus on what matters most.

The “Fix This Next” (FTN) process is simple.  

“The golden rule is to always satisfy the most essential need (the one closest to the base), before addressing a need above it.

Fix This Next is Light on Reading and Heavy on Doing

Even though there are eight chapters in this book, you will most likely start your reading journey only reading four of them.

Fix This Next unfolds in two sections. The first section is really the introduction and chapters one and two.  That’s about thirty pages give or take. The second section; chapters three through eight are the specific levels of the business hierarchy of needs.

When you get to page fifty, the author basically tells you to stop, see what level of the hierarchy you want to dig into, and go straight to that chapter. 

This is Where the Real Work Begins

Even though Michalowicz has written several books before this one, he likes to tell his audience to read this book FIRST. Even though it’s his newest book, it’s like the epiphany that comes from really BEING a small business owner, working with small business owners and reflecting on the realities of small business ownership.  It’s the  “If I knew then what I know know” of the Michalowicz collection. 

Fix This Next will get you thinking about the right things and focusing on the right things. You’ll find stories from other business owners just like you, which I prefer to the many books that use case studies from big brands that I can’t relate to. 

But as far as what to do once you get there, this is on you.  Don’t look to the book to give you the answers.

Do the Fix This Next Online Assessment

If you’d like a more engaging and technical version, you can visit the Fix This Next website and take a free assessment that will get you focused.

I recommend you do both.  While the online assessment is certainly engaging, you don’t want to miss out on Michalowicz’s entertaining prose and the stories he tells along the way.

I actually did both:  I read the book and I took the online assessment.  Here’s an example of what I received:

As someone who has some experience with putting together assessments, I have to say that this one is really good. It feels thorough because the assessment has you go through a “forced choice” series of yes-no questions.  I found some of them rather tough, but that’s the point.

After the assessment, you’ll receive a follow-up email with your report along with an option to contact a Fix This Next expert.   

I followed the link and was directed to an Advisor’s Directory.  The directory contains experts who can help you implement the Fix it First strategies along with Pumpkin PlanProfit First, or Clockwork strategies.

You can search by expertise and by region.  This is incredibly helpful if you’re a small business owner who is committed to making a real change and implementing the principles from any of the books Michalowicz has written.

Get Fix This Next and Get Out of Overwhelm

If you’re one of those small business owners swirling in a sea of overwhelm, Fix This Next is going to be a must-read. 

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Credibility Nation: For Professionals Who Want to Be Seen as Credible

Credibility Nation: For Professionals Who Want to Be Seen as Credible


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Summary: A credibility workbook for small businesses who want to build their know-like-and-trust factor.

Credibility Nation

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Do you think that there is more or less trust and trustworthiness in the world? I’m going to guess that your answer is that there is less trust today than there was even a few years ago.

And you would be right.

This is the question at the root of a new book by Mitchell Levy, Credibility Nation: For Professionals Who Want to Be Seen as Credible

Like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, we’ve been experiencing continuous and consistent decreases in trust over the last few decades. 

According to  The Edelman Trust Barometer, trust lies at the intersection of competence and ethics.  Edelman has been measuring our levels of trust over the last 20 years and what they’ve found isn’t pretty. The good news is that business is seen as being relatively competent while not being as strong in the area of ethics.

One Man’s Fight for Credibility

Author, Mitchell Levy is a Global Credibility Expert. He has interviewed over 500 thought leaders from across the world on their credibility. This led him to uncover amazing insights on what credibility really is and why it’s important in today’s world, making him the go-to expert on credibility.

Mitchell has been a Thought Leadership Evangelist for 25 years and TEDx/ Commencement speaker. He sat as a chairman of the board of a NASDAQ-listed company. Mitchell is an International bestselling author of over 60 books and has created twenty businesses in Silicon Valley including four publishing companies that have published over 850 books.

In  Credibility Nation, Levy is on a mission to turn up the volume on credibility by calling all business owners to join the credibility movement and take a credibility pledge to be a part of Credibility Nation.

Take The Credibility Pledge

The first page of the book features this credibility pledge. 

 

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I pledge to live credibly every day without hate in my life.

I strive to be a good human and make this a better planet for myself, my family, and for other people’s families in this generation and the next.

By placing this pledge on the first page of the book, the author highlights the mission of the book and the vision he has for all business owners to stand on the front lines of what he describes as a war on credibility.

This isn’t an academic book, nor is it that much of a thinking book.  It’s a doing book and the doer is you.

In other words, this book is written for those business owners who have noticed this increased need to prove your credibility as a business and who want to look for creative ways to implement credibility strategies across their organization no matter the size.

How to Read Credibility Nation

Credibility Nation is probably one of the most interactive books I’ve seen.  To be honest there isn’t much reading to do.  You can probably go through the entire 180+ pages inside of 30 minutes. This is by design.  All of Levy’s books are written that way.

There are numerous interactive features you might like such as the interactive thought summaries at the end of each chapter.  I’m not sure if they were designed for this – but I like to look at them as prompts that you can use for how you will apply the Credibility Nation principles and then share them on social media — expanding the credibility movement to your community. 

There are also numerous links to audio and video content.  This is Levy’s way of covering all the different learning modalities; auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. 

There are More Aha’s Where That Came From

Credibility Nation is just one of a series of books published by Levy’s publishing company, ThinkAha! Levy himself has published dozens of books on thought leadership including Hey, Did You AHAthat?: Thought Leadership in Seven Seconds or Less! Build Your Brand with AHAthat! and, BEing Seen and BEing Heard as a Thought Leader: What’s Necessary for Individuals and Businesses to Transition from the Industrial Age to the Social Age

ThinkAha! is more than a publishing resource.  This web resource contains dozens of free resources on thought leadership. 

Credibility Nation is a DIY Effort

If you’re looking for specific credibility-building tactics, you won’t find them here.  Levy shows you the structure, the model, probing questions, and the system. But what you do with all of this is up to you. And this is what might make this book a bit challenging for some readers. 

Why Read Credibility Nation

If you’ve recognized the steady decline in trust and credibility in your industry or business, and you want to do something about it, Credibility Nation is a great resource to use with your team.

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Upstream, The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen 

Upstream, The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen 


Ideal for business owners, managers, and leaders who are looking for guidance on how to prevent problems rather than just solving them.

Upstream

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Are you sick and tired of reacting to problems?  You start each day with lofty goals only to be sidetracked by one fire after another.  If you’re ready to stop the madness and prevent those problems from robbing you of your time and sanity, grab yourself a copy of  Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath.

A few days ago, I received a promotional email from Dan Heath promoting this new book and I immediately requested a review copy.  It showed up two days later, and I read it over the weekend.  Yeah.  It’s that good.

Like preceding books written by the Heath brothers, Upstream takes on a common principle or topic and shines a light on it in such a way that makes you see it in a whole new light. 

Dan Heath Goes Solo

Along with his brother Chip, Dan Heath has written four New York Times Bestselling Books; Made to StickSwitchDecisive, and The Power of Moments.  Heath is a senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center, which supports entrepreneurs fighting for social good. 

While he’s listed as the sole author of Upstream, he credits his brother, Chip, for his significant contributions. 

In his latest work, Upstream, he explores “problems” and our default behaviors of solving problems or preventing problems.  “When you spend years solving problems you sometimes overlook the fact that you could be preventing them.”

And this is where it gets interesting.

Upstream Is a Delightful Roller-Coaster Ride

Heath starts the book with a parable that perfectly illustrates the premise of Upstream.  

You and a friend are picnicking at the side of a river when you see a child drowning.  Without thinking you run in and rescue the drowning child.  But soon another child is drowning and your friend jumps in to save them. This process repeats itself several times when you notice your friend comes out of the water. “Where are you going?” you ask. Your friend answers “I’m going upstream to tackle the guy who’s drowning all these kids!” (A public health parable attributed to Irving Zola)

Without skipping a beat, Heath introduces the first of many real-life examples of people at all levels of organizations who recognize a problem and more importantly, decide that this problem is entirely avoidable.

In fact, the entire book flows from one story to another. Some examples are simple, personal upstream problem-solving examples like installing a timer on a light to make sure that it shuts off. Followed by insanely frustrating stories of nurses in hospitals who are so busy coming up with creative problem work-a-rounds that they don’t have the time to think about “Upstream” prevention strategies.

As a reader, I went from hopeful to hopeless and back to hopeful again about every three pages. Granted, reading Upstream isn’t quite like watching sports or the news, but I found myself doing everything from giggling to rolling my eyes and sometimes even shouting at the book.

This isn’t often said about business books, but I’d love to see Upstream turned into a documentary.  It’s just that riveting and entertaining.

Thinking Upstream Feels Strange and Hard

So, let’s take a look at how Heath was able to generate this kind of reader engagement.

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Because neither problem-solving nor problem-prevention are anything new, Heath had to find a way to make these broad topics intriguing enough and relevant enough for us to stop and take notice.

He does this by using the stories he’s collected from 300 interviews that clearly illustrate real problems, the obstacles and challenges people faced in trying to understand the problem and the brave choices they made to shift their thinking “upstream” toward improving or eliminating the issue completely.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first section covers the three barriers to upstream thinking; the inability to recognize the problem, a lack of problem ownership, and finally the tendency for scarcity to drive short term problem-solving instead of problem prevention.

The second section is the meat of the book and addresses the key questions you have to address in order to recognize the problem, change the system, and ultimately reap the benefits.

  • How to unite the right people? If a problem is invisible, it’s no one’s job to fix them. Surround the problem and recruit the best people who are united in a common vision for the future. 

  • How to change the system? A well-designed system is the best upstream intervention. To change the system is to change the rules that create the problem.

  • Where can you find a point of leverage? Understanding the problem and looking for what works and what doesn’t. 

  • How will you get an early warning of the problem? Use data to look for patterns that will help you predict the problem. 

  • How will you know you’re succeeding?  With upstream efforts, success is difficult to quantify. Watch out of “ghost victories” and check your short-term results to make sure they are meeting your long-term goals.

  • How will you avoid doing harm? Look beyond the immediate win. Create a feedback loop to make sure you’re not creating unintended consequences.

  • Who will pay for what doesn’t happen? We reward people for solving problems – not avoiding them. Upstream efforts are often invisible. We tend to underinvest in keeping people healthy, for example. 

Each of Heath’s questions assumes that you understand and have overcome the three barriers to upstream thinking.

Finally, the third section shifts the conversation from what others have done to what you could possibly do. 

Why Read Upstream Today?

As entrepreneurs, we believe in controlling our lives, our time, and our success. Upstream thinking is all about control.  As you go through the book, you’ll find many examples of simple upstream thinking that you’ll be able to implement at that very moment. This will motivate and inspire you to think about the next level of upstream projects that you can tackle.

This year has laid bare so many “problems” that have touched each of us in a personal way.  The daily challenges of life may feel insurmountable to you.  And, if that describes how you’ve been feeling, reading Upstream will give you solace and hope.

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The Reason For The Rhymes, Mastering the Essential Skills of Innovation

The Reason For The Rhymes, Mastering the Essential Skills of Innovation


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A fun and engaging way to bring innovation to your business and your team. Walk your team through this songwriting workshop to unleash your creativity.

The Reason For The Rhymes

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It’s one thing to say “be innovative” and something completely different to BE innovative. Most of us need a little help along the innovation journey and this new book, The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs by Cliff Goldmacher provides a fun and inspiring guide to bringing more innovation to your business.

Who is Cliff Goldmacher?

Like most songwriters, Cliff Goldmacher isn’t exactly a household name, but you’ve probably heard his work more often than you realize.  His songs have been recorded by Grammy Winning and platinum-selling artists in genres ranging from blues, country, pop, and jass to classical crossover.  Cliff’s collaborators include Keb’Mo, Ke$ha, Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead), and Lisa Loeb.  His music can be heard on NPR’s “This American Life” and in national advertising campaigns. 

Most recently, he’s transformed his songwriting process into a TED talk and innovation workshops that he delivers to hundreds of corporations. 

This book breaks down the songwriting process and gives you the tools you’ll need to write songs yourself.  This way, you’ll gain a set of creative, problem-solving, and communication skills that will help uncover your hidden innovation skills.

What Does Songwriting Have to Do With Innovation?

Songs are one of the most powerful communication tools that we can all relate to.  Early in the book, and in his workshops, the author asks you to think about your favorite song from the summer after your senior year in high school. 

“You’re driving, the radio is playing and your favorite song comes on. If you were to hear that song right now, you’d be back in your car, and every one of your senses would be alive.”

The Reason for the Rhymes posits that innovation isn’t inventing new things, per se, rather it’s the idea of commercializing creativity.

In a recent interview, Goldmacher explains his road to linking songwriting with innovation. 

“I started with this idea that songwriting develops a certain set of skills that are good for business teams. That’s kind of all I had because I’d been doing these workshops for business teams, getting them to write songs, and I knew it was working. So I started to think to myself, ‘Well, what are the benefits of teaching yourself to write songs in a larger context?’ I was thinking about creativity and communication, and collaboration, and even empathy.” 

Yes — You Can Be a Songwriter!

You might think that you aren’t capable of writing a song. But like most things, once you learn the process behind songwriting, you just might surprise yourself at how creative you can be. 

Goldmacher says that the ability to innovate isn’t some mystical activity. “In fact, when broken down into its component parts, innovation — like songwriting — is simply a combination of skills that we already possess.

In The Reason for the Rhyme, Goldmacher covers seven specific skills of songwriting to help you enhance your ability to innovate:

  1. Laterally thinking

  2. Creativity

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  3. Communication

  4. Empathy

  5. Collaboration

  6. Risk-taking

  7. The diffusion of ideas

How to Apply Your Songwriting to Your Business

The first part of this book warms you up to the possibility of actually giving songwriting a try as a way to inspire you for the possibility of using this songwriting process toward increasing innovation inside your business and your teams.

And, the second part of the book walks you through the songwriting process as it would apply to a business environment;

  • Learn how to leverage the power of metaphors to inspire lateral thinking

  • Apply your metaphors to conversational language to clearly communicate a new idea. 

  • Create a hook in the form of a chorus that consistently repeats your message.

  • Use empathy to connect with your audience. Learn to clearly describe how they are feeling.

  • Use collaboration to share and build on ideas and make them stronger.

  • Put yourself out there, take the risk, and perform your song.

  • Diffusion involves spreading the message of the song or innovative idea throughout the organization.

DIY Your Innovation Process or Play With a Group

Sure, you can grab this book and play around with this songwriting innovation process on your own. But I think this would be so much more fun to do as a group.  

And here’s the best part. You don’t have to be in the same room to do it. This process is one that is easily adapted to today’s virtual work environment. 

Are You Brave Enough to Innovate?

I have to admit that I struggled with this book on my own. While I completely understood and embraced the idea of using songwriting as a way to spark innovation and engage teams, I simply didn’t have the fortitude to run through these exercises on my own.

However, I do believe that this is exactly the kind of exercise that would be a wonderful way for businesses of all sizes to step out of the challenges of the times and bring some joy and creativity to their business and their life.

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The Road to Integrityis Paved With Good Intentions

The Road to Integrityis Paved With Good Intentions


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A treatise for leaders who are looking for ways to infuse their values and integrity into their organization.

Intentional Integrity

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When the Penn State “Sandusky” scandal hit the news, I sat down and cried.

During my junior and senior years, I worked for the football office. Paterno was insane about integrity.  If a player didn’t have a 3.0 on Friday night, he didn’t play on Saturday. If a player got in trouble, the team had to clean the stadium after the game. I can go on, but I won’t because Penn State leadership’s lapse in integrity decimated a century’s worth of hard-earned reputation.

“Most companies think they have integrity, until they get exposed by data, skewered by the press, boycotted by customers, dropped by investors, and protested by their own employees. They’ll punish and apologize for transgressions but throw up their hands about how to prevent them — even though they van cost a company everything.” — Robert Chestnut

You Can’t Outsource Integrity

Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution by Robert Chestnut is a brand new book, released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  And this is a perfect time because corporations and their communications strategies have been disrupted like never before.

According to Chestnut, corporate ethics have been tested sorely, as he notes in an updated chapter on leading with integrity during a crisis.

“Suddenly business leaders had to answer questions on the fly. How to handle layoffs, adapt to customer expectations and shifting government requirements, and to transition entire workforces online?”

This crisis pointed out how important it is to have a culture of integrity.  For example, if one of your values is employee safety, then it’s a lot easier to make decisions about whether to prioritize profitability or employee health benefits.

 

Rob Chestnut’s Relationship With Integrity

The author started his career as an attorney with the U.S. Justice Department.  He was an Assistant US Attorney in Northern Virginia.  As a federal prosecutor he ran the Major Crimes Unit where he prosecuted a wide range of crimes including CIA employee Aldrich Ames who was prosecuted for espionage.

In 1999, Chestnut shifted his career and joined the private sector.  First with eBay where he got involved in fraud detection and prevention.  Then he joined LiveOps, Chegg and most recently, AIrbnb where he grew the legal team from 30 to over 150 and started the “Integrity Belongs Here” program to drive ethics throughout the culture of the company.

It’s Never Too Late for Integrity

In Intentional Integrity, Chestnut strives to show leaders that integrity isn’t a roadblock to getting things done, but a “potential superpower.” The book shows you how you can set the tone and set an example with your words and actions.

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When leaders embrace that integrity and responsibility are important elements of your job.

Your employees are a reflection of who you are and what you do.  And when you practice intentional integrity, there’s a ripple that goes throughout your company and into the community.  Being integrity consistently over time, will ultimately build trust and give your organization a long-term advantage.

The 6Cs Process is a Roadmap Toward Intentional Integrity

To infuse integrity into your organization, Chestnut proposes the 6Cs process and this is what the entire book is devoted to.  Each chapter is one step of the 6Cs process.

  1. Chief: If the CEO of the company doesn’t embrace integrity, you can stop there.
  2. Customized Code of Ethics: Assuming your CEO has a level of integrity, your next step is to publish a code of conduct.
  3. Communicating the Code: This means regular and varied types of communication of the code throughout the organization.
  4. Clear Reporting System: Make it easy for employees to report ethical lapses.
  5. Consequences: The integrity code must be enforced.
  6. Constant: The last “C” is about being constant, consistent, pervasive, ubiquitous — yes, everywhere and all the time throughout your organization.

Is There Hope for Integrity?

On the first day of “Business Law” in graduate school, the professor walked in. Plopped his briefcase on the desk and then sat on the desk, with his legs dangling over the edge and asked: “Do you know why we have lawyers?”

The entire class sat in silence.

He waited for a few seconds and then said “We have lawyers because people are no damned good.”

When he said “people are no damned good” he didn’t mean that people were “bad” or “evil”.  What he meant was that people didn’t behave with integrity; they would say one thing and do something else.  They would promise to do something and not do it.  People would say they valued something and then act like they actually value something completely different.

Integrity vs Ethics

In Intentional Integrity, the author combines ethics and integrity into one package. I’m not sure that is entirely fair and accurate.

We understand integrity to mean “honesty”.  But the true foundational meaning of integrity means to be whole and undivided.  In other words, at its core, integrity means that your actions match your values.

I posit that CEOs (especially of large enterprises) have integrity (meaning that their behavior is consistent with their values).  But not all leaders have ethics, which are moral principles that guide behavior.

And this book is written for those CEOs who are committed to having their ethics reflected in their values and those values be clearly communicated throughout their organization — thereby creating INTEGRITY (being whole and undivided).

What’s Odd About This Book

I would say Intentional Integrity is the motherhood and apple pie of leadership books.

But, to be honest, it’s preaching to the choir.  The people who will most enjoy this book are the people who are already running their business with a high level of ethics and integrity,  And these people will get a roadmap toward shifting your values and ethics out of your head and throughout your organization.

In some ways, it’s like Chestnut is writing to those people who may have strayed from the ethical straight and narrow. Maybe it’s people who have started their business with high-minded values, but who have been challenged by the complexities and impossible choices between people and profits.

Ultimately, the message underneath Intentional Integrity is that ethics and integrity count. And that one simple lapse in judgment can decimate the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

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The Most Powerful You by Kathy Caprino Book Review

The Most Powerful You by Kathy Caprino Book Review


Content – 8

Freshness – 8.5

Usefulness – 8

8.2

A personal and professional coaching program in a book.  Ideal for women going through a life transition as well as dads, husbands and male leaders seeking to support the women in their lives

the most powerful you book kathy caprino

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When The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss by Kathy Caprino showed up on my doorstep I thought “Hmm, who wouldn’t want to be their most powerful self?!  When I turned the book over and started reading more about what was inside, I realized this book wasn’t for everyone.

“The Most Powerful You” was written by a professional woman, for professional women.  While I’m sure author, Kathy Caprino started writing this book way before the 2020 pandemic started, the timing of its release and the inward journey she proposes seems like just what today’s women might be looking for.

The Cycle of How Women Perceive and Are Perceived

While “The Most Powerful You” would love to have the distinction of changing the way women are perceived, this isn’t really the goal of the book.

Caprino recognizes that you can’t expect or try to change others, you have to change yourself first.  And this is really the core mission of the book; to help women discover and accept their own power and then be brave enough to use it to achieve their dreams.

How women are perceived is really a function of this dance between women and the defining people in their lives; family, bosses, spouses, etc.

Caprino seeks to help outwardly successful women who feel stuck either in their careers or their lives and are ready for breakthrough transformation.

Caprino’s coaching and counseling process is simple. She takes you through a series of client stories that outline perception, frame the circumstances and then she guides you through a process of reframing.

Reflecting on a Personal Journey

To get the full benefit of the book, it helps to understand a little about its author, Kathy Caprino.

Kathy is the President of Kathy Caprino, LLC, a premier career coaching and executive consulting firm offering career and leadership development programs for women.   A former corporate Vice President, she is also a trained marriage and family therapist, seasoned executive coach and Senior Forbes contributor. She is also a TEDx and keynote speaker and top national media source on women’s issues, careers, and leadership.

The 7 Power Gaps That Get in the Way of Success

Over the course of her work, Caprino identified 7 “Power Gaps”.  These Power Gaps are prevalent among women — especially women entrepreneurs.

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The seven power gaps are:

  1. Not recognizing your special talents. (Brave Sight)
  2. Communicating from fear and not strength. (Brave Speak)
  3. Reluctance to ask for what you deserve. (Brave Ask)
  4. Isolating from influential support. (Brave Connection)
  5. Acquiescing instead of saying stop to mistreatment. (Brave Challenge)
  6. Losing sight of your thrilling dream. (Brave Service)
  7. Allowing past drama to shape and define you. (Brave Healing)

In her research, Caprino discovered that 98 percent of respondents revealed that they were facing at least one of the seven power gaps.  75 percent said they were experiencing three or more gaps at the same time.

In Powerful You Caprino seeks to guide readers through the process of closing these gaps, coming to terms with the events and behaviors that are limiting your life experience and unleashing your most powerful self.

Is Powerful You for “Women Only”?

In short, The Most Powerful You is written for women entrepreneurs and professionals.  But that doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t read it,

There’s no lock on the book and nothing will stop you from cracking it open.  In fact, the men who are interested enough in reading this book will get a deep understanding of what their colleagues, wifes and daughters are dealing with daily.

So, I’m going to take a guess and say that most men will not enjoy this. But the ones who are brave enough (see what I did there?) to venture inside its pages will be rewarded handsomely.

I played a game with myself and read sections of the book as myself (a woman) and then pretending to be a man.

That was an interesting experience.

Take this excerpt from the chapter entitled “Reluctance to Ask for What You Deserve and Want”:

Caprino shares the story of Janine, a woman who had done the work to transform her life from being a marketing executive to a coach.  After years of working with “Brave” (the program behind this book), she reported the following:

I had to let go of thinking:

  • I have to be perfect to be worthy.
  • I must put everyone first to be a good girl.
  • Success comes easily to others not me.
  • I must continuously prove my worth.
  • People will see my worth through my hard work.

I had to accept:

  • People aren’t mind readers: I have to speak up for what I want.
  • The more evidence we offer about what we deliver, the more acceptance by others is possible.
  • You teach people how to treat you
  • Feeling comfortable is not a prerequisite for asking for what you want

ME: YES!  OMG! This is me.  I do this all the time (except expecting people to be mind readers.  But this is me for sure.

ME PRETENDING TO BE A MAN: WHAT?  No one is perfect. You have to go and get what you want.  I’m totally worthy. As for evidence — I’m not sure about that one. Decisions are often emotional and when I am confident, people just go with it.  People will believe what you tell them.

So, Are You Ready For Transformation?

Only you know the answer to this question.  I found this book an uncomfortable and somewhat confronting read.  The stories Caprino shared sometimes hit too close to home. And, when I stopped to reflect on her lessons of “bravery” and closing the gaps I could feel myself pulling away from the conversation.

Am I ready for this conversation.  Maybe not all at once, but I can see all the different ways that I can slowly begin integrating these practices into my live.

I did learn one thing from The Most Powerful You: I am the creator of my experience. While  can look to systems and structures upon which to place blame, the only one who can change my experience is me.

Now it’s your turn.  Are you brave enough to close the gaps that are keeping you from being your most powerful you?




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Slack for Dummies Book Review %%sep%% %%sitename%%

Slack for Dummies Book Review %%sep%% %%sitename%%


Content

Freshness

Usefulness

Slack for Dummies is the fastest way to learn and understand Slack. Ideal for virtual teams and newly created work-from-home organizations.

slack for dummies book review

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Even before the pandemic forced the masses to work from home, there has been a cadre of freelancers, road warriors and digital nomads who have been working remotely.  And the one thing they all had in common was the need to collaborate with people virtually – WITHOUT using email.

And this is where the Slack story begins. Slack was launched in 2013 to make collaborating easier and eliminate the dreaded, frustrating but necessary need to “deal with email.”

Seven years later, Slack is so much more than a messaging tool.  But this is where I have to stop and make my confession.

Even as an avid “virtual business tool” junkie, I’ve not been very active with Slack.  I have it installed, I’ve used it to communicate with a few people (because that is what they used) but I am a complete “Slack Dummy”.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about Slack and recently got the opportunity when I received a copy of Slack for Dummies written by my friend Phil Simon.  Simon has written eight books on technology including the prescient,  Age of the Platform, and has a knack for making hard-to-understand principles accessible to those of us who aren’t quite as tech savvy.

S-L-A-C-K

Right out of the gate you get Slack trivia and brain goodies. Slack is an acronym! Who knew? It stands for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.

With that, I can close the book and consider my life transformed!  But wait — it’s a “backronym” which means that they came up with it in reverse.  Even BETTER.

The first few pages are an introduction to Slack for the novice.  But, as you’ve just seen, there are some super nuggets in there that are bound to deliver a few tidbits you didn’t know.

Like this:

  • Slack was actually a pivot. The founders were actually working on something completely different — that failed. But
  • discovered their “cobbled together” tool actually held promise.
  • 12 million people (and growing) use Slack.
  • There are 5 billion “transactions” each week on Slack.
  • If you’ve heard of slack and still feel like you don’t really understand the appeal, the first two chapters are critical.

If you’re a Slack user and looking to up your game, then you are free to bounce around the book based on what area you’d like to learn about.

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Why Bother With Slack

75% of your current employees will leave your organization within 5 years. And if you are currently using email as a repository of conversations, this is a big problem.

Slack’s strength isn’t just in moving conversations from email to “live chat”, it’s a surprisingly simple way to create a sort of knowledge base for your organization.

One of the things I really like about Slack for Dummies is that Simon shares both the educational and technical details of using the platform along with the fun and entertainin ways that employees can build connections and engagements.

What About the Self Employed

There was one thing that really surprised me about this book.  It was almost wholly written for employees in organizations.  Granted, the tool was created to help employees inside of organizations with multiple locations. But, there wasn’t a lot of content around those of us who are self-employed.

While solid numbers are hard to come by, about 30% of the U.S. population is self-employed.  And in 2020, this number is bound to be growing.

One benefit that Slack offers is a simple way to create a virtual organization made up of people who don’t share a corporate email address.

In fact, Slack has dozens of open channels where you can become part of a larger community.

Who Should Read Slack for Dummies

If you’re a business that has had your employees scattered across the region due to work-from-home orders, Slack is a low-cost way to stay connected and on the same page.

If you’re a freelancer who has been frustrated with bouncing from Skype to Email to Google Chat and who knows how many other communication apps, Slack might be worth checking out.

If someone you work with has recommended you use Slack, but you’ve been overwhelmed — this is the ideal book for you.

Finishing Up

Slack for Dummies is surprisingly short for a “Dummies” book.  And this should inspire you to pick it up for yourself.

Like all the books in the Dummies series, there are simple step-by-step instructions along with pictures that will help you follow along.  It’s really like a help file in your pocket (errr- table), where you don’t have to read the instructions ten times over to realize you’ve missed something insanely simple.  You’ll get it right away.

I think that’s because author, Phil Simon, not only knows a lot about technology, but he’s gone through the process of discovering Slack and then learning to become a power user.

And you really “get” that from the way the book is written.  It’s like he remembers what could potentially be confusing and then explains it to you before you go down the rabbit hole.

I’m so glad I got this copy of Slack for Dummies!  I’ve been lukewarm about using Slack and I’m pretty sure it’s because I simply didn’t know how to get the most out of it.  I’ll be working my way through this book. So, until then — See you on Slack!




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Elevate and Friday Forward, Inspiration for Success Book Review

Elevate and Friday Forward, Inspiration for Success Book Review


Content

Freshness

Usefulness

Elevate and Friday Forward provide inspiration, ideas and motivation to build yourself and your business.

Elevate

When all else fails, look within yourself for answers and inspiration.

Here are two books from author Robert Glazer that will help.  Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others and Friday Forward: Inspiration and Motivation to End Your Week Stronger Than It Started. 

Meet Robert Glazer

Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global marketing agency.  He is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping individuals and organizations build their capacity to elevate.

One of the things he’s most proud of is having Acceleration Partners listed as Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice awards two years in a row.  The company was also awarded Ad Age’s Best Places to Work, Entrepreneur’s Top Company Culture and many more corporate culture awards.

He’s a regular columnist for Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines.

His weekly newsletter “Friday Forward” reaches more than 200,000 subscribers and served as the inspiration for both of these books.

Elevate is Well Designed and Easy to Read

I received a hardcover copy of Elevate a few months ago and have been using it as a sort of coffee-table book.  I pick it up and read a few pages when I need a mental jump start.

It measures 5.5 x 7.5 inches and is perfectly sized to slip into a bag to take along on a trip.  The internal pages are nothing short of sleek, well designed, colorful and really easy to read. Kudos for that.

All of these physical details make it a pleasure to read and easily reflect on the content and that’s the point.

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Unlock Your Success With Elevate

The Purpose of Elevate is to help you create harmony inside yourself first, so that you can then create a home and work environment of success.

Glazer believes that leaders who elevate themselves, and others will see the greatest success.

Build Capacity in Four Core Areas

At the core of Elevate is the concept of building capacity in four areas; spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. I love how he compares each of these capacities to a beach ball with four chambers.  As you fill each chamber up with gas, you expand that chamber.  Fill each chamber evenly, and you get maximum momentum. Focus on any one chamber and your ball will not roll in the desired direction.

Elevate is full of real  truths that inspire you to examine yourself and make the changes that will elevate you.

Friday Forward

Grab Quick Bites of Inspiration From Friday Forward

As I mentioned, Glazer’s weekly newsletter, “Friday Forward” provided the groundwork for Elevate. So, it only made sense to expand the readership and curate the best and most inspirational newsletters and put them into a single book.

Friday Forward is a Great Companion Book to Elevate
Like peanut butter and chocolate, you can read and enjoy these books on their own. But they are far tastier together.

The Friday Forward essays are organized by the four capacities that Glazer explained in Elevate.  There are thirteen short essays in each section.  So, you’re bound to find something inspiring.

How to Read Friday Forward

Glazer started his Friday Forward newsletter as a daily discipline and practice and he recommends that you do the same.

But Glazer doesn’t just want you to read and meditate, he wants you to take action and enroll the people around you into a similar practice.

Sound uncomfortable?  Probably.  And Glazer is counting on that. He says “Our world is increasingly constructed to prevent that push.  An alarming number of our kids are growing up with ‘snowplow parenting,’ parents who believe their role is to remove or mitigate obstacles.”  But it’s the challenges that make us strong and this is exactly what the essays in Friday Forward are designed to do.

Conclusion

When your world feels like it’s spinning out of control, your best course of action is to take a step back and take a look inside. Both Elevate and Friday Forward offer the perfect opportunity to create a daily practice of reflection, inspiration and transformation.

Image: amazon.com




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Read Blue Collar Cash if You Want to Secure Your Future, Find Happiness

Read Blue Collar Cash if You Want to Secure Your Future, Find Happiness


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An inspirational book for those looking to build a life they love with a blue-collar business.

blue collar cash book by ken rusk

When did we decide that the only way to be successful was to get a college degree, get into debt and then spend twenty years of your life on the hamster wheel paying it off?

When did we decide that white collar work was somehow “better than” blue collar work?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do know that when my dishwasher stopped draining, and Bob showed up and fixed it, I would have happily added a zero to his bill based on the value I received.



Blue Collar Cash Book Review

Blue collar workers are now more in demand than white collar workers and can easily earn six-figure salaries without the crippling college dept that comes with it.

Not every business has to be high-tech and require rounds of venture capital.  Some just require getting on the right path doing what you love.

And Now For Something Refreshingly Different

Whenever I review books for small business, the authors are usually CEOs and experts who write for other white collar, management type companies.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It’s just — well — predictable.

But when I saw Blue-Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life by Ken Rusk I almost jumped for joy!  Why?

Because some of the most successful business owners are right next door to you.  They are the folks who fix our sinks and air conditioners, cars and kitchens.  They are the folks who are the invisible heroes of industry and only get the kudos they deserve when they show up at your house, and chat with you while fixing your dishwasher.

Take a look at this list of entry-level salaries!  This isn’t exactly pocket change when you think about that fact that most small businesses that we talk about are generally operating at a loss and in risky conditions.

blue collar cash book review

I’m not sure I could say the same for my lawyer, banker, marketing consultant, etc.  I don’t mean any offence to these white collar professions.  After all, I’m one of those people.  But there’s nothing like a crisis to show you which careers are truly essential.

So, maybe instead of calling it “blue collar” we ought to call these “essential” businesses.

These are businesses that don’t require a college degree.  But they do require a very specific set of skills.

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These businesses don’t require that you sit in meetings, rather they require delivering a vital service that keeps our society humming.

Who are these people?

They are the people in your neighborhood, as Mr. Rogers used to say. And “Blue Collar Cash” will give you a glimpse of how they got there and how you can too.

How Ken Rusk Dug His Way to Millions

Meet Ken Rusk, author of “Blue Collar Cash”.

Ken started digging ditches.  Yes — that thing you parents may have threatened you with if you didn’t do well in school. Well, Ken embraced it all the way to the bank.

Ken Rusk is a construction entrepreneur and founder of Rusk Industries.  He’s launched multiple successful businesses over the last thirty years.  Today, his mission is to hire, train and coach first time job seekers, especially those like himself who have realized that college isn’t for them.

He wrote this book because he wants to show people that you can have comfort, peace and financial freedom.

Thinking Differently About What Matters

“Blue Collar Cash” isn’t a how-to book.  It’s really a motivational book.  Rusk does an amazing job of making you step back and think about what you are up to in your life.

Chapter after chapter is filled with stories of his own personal challenges along with side stories of other people who have built and created their dreams without millions of dollars, but with a zest for life you’ll rarely find in other entrepreneurial books.

In some ways, this book reminds me of the essence of  “The 4-Hour Work Week”.  For example, Rusk has a commitment to enjoying your work and your life whether you have millions or not.

He tells the story of “Minnesota” a grass cutter from….Minnesota who spent eight weeks out of each summer at a Club Med.  You read that right EIGHT weeks!  How?  Was he a millionaire? Nope.

He simplified his life in a way that allowed him to focus on what he really wanted.  This means that during the year, he ran his small landscaping company; mowing lawns, trimming, edging, etc. He had a few employees and they worked hard for ten months straight.

He keeps his living situation simple so that he can do what he likes for eight weeks out of the year.

This is just one story of many more where Rusk forces you to ask yourself some tough questions.  Are you loving your life?  Is there peace and contentment in your life or are you just doing what you thought you were supposed to do.

A Whole New Way to “Get ‘er Done”

When did we turn entrepreneurship into celebrity status?  Why did we decide that some careers were better than others?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I can tell you that reading “Blue Collar Cash” has inspired me to look beneath the surface of any business to find the comfort, peace and freedom that you’re truly after.

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