Monthly Bookmarks –
139th Edition – December 5, 2021
Economics, it turns out, is an unusual but productive lens through which the creative process can be examined.Samuel Staley in The Beatles and Economics
1. Watching The Peter Jackson Documentary on The Beatles?
I like the Beatles, but I’m not a fanatic. Yet, I’m still awed by their post-concert era which is where their greatest innovations shined.
The new documentary on Disney+ is entitled Get Back and has been whittled down to nine hours where the starting point was more than 150 hours of unheard audio recordings and around sixty hours of unseen film footage.
I recently read Sam Staley’s book, The Beatles and Economics. Two of my biggest takeaways apply to all of us trying to become the best we can be professionally. None of the four band members had any formal musical training. They were dedicated to their craft and worked hard to continually develop their artistic abilities.
Next, I now view innovation as an art. Art is about creating something entirely new in a market that has been left unexploited. That’s exactly what the Beatles accomplished during their studio years after they quit performing live.
2. The Beautiful Design of Human Capital at Mancini Duffy
Sam Staley viewed the artistic abilities of the Beatles through an economic lens. Sam states the band members were continually fostering and expanding their human capital during their Hamburg residencies. That human capital included their skills, drive, ambition, talent, and innate knowledge.
As lifelong learners, we’re responsible for the self-development of our human capital. But what happens when an employer steps in and says, “I care, and I want to play a part in your development.”? Have you worked for someone like that?
Bolanle “Bola” Williams-Olley has throughout her career in the architectural industry as a project cost accountant, a controller, and now a CFO. Bola recommends during the interviewing process to ask whether the company will help you push into your potential. She received that support and backing at Mancini Duffy where she is now a part-owner.
When someone champions you, they move you into a position to champion others. My message to you: champion and be championed.
Bola has certainly been championed. One of her employers believed so much in her, they hired a consultant for her to augment her development.
Her book is Build Boldly, and it’s an inspiring read by someone who has done so much for others at such a young age.
3. Entrepreneurship and Management
In The Beatles and Economics, Staley addressed management too. Brian Epstein was the brilliant CEO-like manager who did not get in the way of the artistic creativity of The Fab Four. Yet, I thought this line was spot on regarding management:
For a firm to survive in the long run, good management is helpful but successful entrepreneurship is essential.
On that comment on being helpful in the quote above, I’m reminded of a book I recommend a lot, Measures of Success by Mark Graban.
4. Measuring is Easy; Managing is Hard
Those words are in a large, bold typeface in the first chapter of Mark’s book.
While Mark provides us with some great tools for improving the way we improve the businesses we run and serve, I appreciate his mindset:
Effective managers don’t just set targets, they work together with people to hit those targets.
And regarding mindset again, this is spot-on:
We don’t manage the metric; we manage the system that leads to the results, and we lead the people who help us to improve the system.
Sam Staley calls Brian Epstein the venture capitalist in his book. Unwittingly, Epstein was probably following a process that Mark describes that did not get into entrepreneurship’s way (think art and innovation).
5. Need Some Book Ideas?
I get this question a lot. I’ll keep my list short and include some new titles and even an oldie or two:
- Living in Data: A Citizen’s Guide to a Better Information Future by Jer Thorp. I just bought it out of curiosity. His premise is helping people like us to balance our relationship with data. How? That’s what I want to know. Here’s a nice writeup on the book at Hyperallergic.
- A couple of weeks ago, I asked Bola (the CFO mentioned above) about her favorite books. She likes, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. I’m aware of the book, but have never checked it out. It’s now on my 2022 reading radar.
- I have a theory on why some of us may shy away from books on economics. Some of us took from six to nine hours of econ just to graduate. Seriously, did you love those courses? I asked Sam Staley for an accessible and approachable economics title. He suggested Common Sense Economics by Gwartney and Stroup. It’s officially on my to-read list.
- I meet with one of my favorite CEOs each Thursday morning. I’ve lost track how many times he’s mentioned a story in, It’s How We Play the Game by the first CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods. He did it again last week. The story is great. Maybe not Shoe Dog great, but it belongs in the same conversation.
- I haven’t started it, but I try to listen to one narrative non-fiction book each quarter. On deck is, Empire of Pain (3.2k ratings at 4.9). The subtitle is The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.
With all of this discussion about the Beatles, I can’t end this without asking you about your favorite song from this group. What is it?
If I had to pick one right now, it might be A Day in the Life. That song required a team effort. It’s a mashup of two songs by Lennon and McCartney. Their producer, George Martin, suggested the mashup and he wound up including an orchestra track. Now that’s art.
November’s CFO Bookshelf Podcast Playlist:
More Book Suggestions:
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