14 – May 12, 2019
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” George Washington
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln
1. What I’m Reading
The trait I admire most in high-performing business founders and CEOs is humility.
Samuel Zemurray, the former President of the United Fruit Company, was such a man. He came to the U.S. as a penniless Russian immigrant during his childhood, and he built a $30 million fortune selling bananas by the 1950s.
In The Fish That Ate the Whale, Zemurray’s biographer goes into great detail of the entrepreneur’s charitable giving which is impressive. But Zemurray did everything he could to keep his giving private. He believed charity was sacred but that those things that often surround it–newspaper pomp and ribbon cutting–were tawdry (page 128). I appreciate and respect that position–humility at its finest.
2. What I Will be Reading
Did you know that President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg have simplified their wardrobes so that they don’t have to think too hard on what they’ll be wearing that day? Similarly, I plan my reading so that I don’t have to think too much about what to read next. During May, my bent will be toward history (stats are from Goodreads) –
- Destiny of a Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (46k ratings, 5.4k reviews, 4.21 stars)
- The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (87k ratings, 5.4k reviews, 3.84 stars)
- The Last Days of Light (23k ratings, 3.2k reviews, 4.14 stars)
I’ve cheated–I have already read the first chapter of the first book listed. I’m now officially a big fan of President Garfield, a great man.
3. What I’m Blindly Recommending
I prefer reading business books under the radar or new releases which have gained little traction with the press. Consider bookmarking Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan. My prediction–you’ll be hearing more about this guy and his book over the next 3 years. Seth Godin calls this the 2019 management book of the year.
4. What I’m Calculating
Starting in one week, CFO Bookshelf will add a new feature to its website called CFO Analytics 101. I only took 6 hours of stats while in college. Maintaining baseball stats by hand when I was a kid for my Strat-O-Matic seasons does not count. Accordingly, I’ll be posting topics on basic analytics which will be practical with plenty of examples. The first post will be about summarizing and visualizing 5 key numbers for any dataset –
- The maximum
- The upper quartile
- The median
- The lower quartile
- The minimum
For a bonus, we’ll calculate the range and the interquartile range (IQR) too. Do not worry, this will be applicable to our everyday work as financial leaders.
5. Homework Assignment
Have you heard of Ready’s OS Canvas (OS is operating system in this context)? I had not until I skimmed the Aaron Dignan book mentioned above. The canvas is a 3 x 4 matrix with boxes labeled Purpose, Authority, Structure, Strategy, Resources, Innovation, Workflow, Meetings, Information, Membership, Mastery, and Compensation. Consider downloading a PDF of this document and sketching your thoughts and ideas in each of these boxes for the organization you work in.
Thank You and Happy Mother’s Day
Thank you for reading. If you like the above and the posts at CFO Bookshelf, may I ask a favor? Feel free to share this with other readers along with commenting on your favorite blog posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.