Monthly Bookmarks –
148th Edition – September 17, 2022
I value integrity more than anything else. It means telling the truth, keeping promises, and taking responsibility for your mistakes. It’s the same in business as it is in everyday life. It’s a matter of being what you claim to be, doing what you say you’ll do.Hugh Pilaster, A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
1. The CFO’s Most Important Weekly Meeting
According to Larry Litowitz of SCA Group on the CEO-CFO relationship:
You have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to see what they need. They don’t tell you what they need, and they don’t necessarily know what you can give them.
Jason Karaian goes on to say in his book The Chief Financial Officer that the “CFO’s most important relationship, without question, is with the CEO.”
As a consultant, I meet with my CEOs at least hourly every week of the year. I look forward to those meetings. If you are not doing that currently, I highly encourage you to do so, and that applies if you are in another leadership position.
2. Metrics Simplified
Please forgive my pointed criticism about the approach many KPI experts take in explaining their 18-step process to key insights. Sorry, that’s needless exaggeration, but I believe there is truth to some of the complexities we are subjected to when it comes to measures and metrics.
I’m glad to say that the writers of Working Backwards got it right. These former Amazon employees explain the difference between controllable (my word) and output metrics. They explain their Weekly Business Review (WBR) process and the reasons they follow the DMAIC steps (define, measure, analyze, improve, control). Chapter Six also includes example charts they use in these meetings.
3. The 5:1 Project Pipeline
While we’re on the topic of metrics, I’m calling Greg Alexander the newest thought leader for professional services (ProServe) firms of any kind. He’s the author of The Boutique and the founder of Capital54.
Greg says ProServe firms should have a 5:1 project pipeline. For instance, the ProServe firm with $50 mullion in new projects that will take about a year to complete should have $10 million in the pipeline which provides enough coverage to hit the target. Do you concur?
Greg also believes every ProServe firm should have at least nine months of bookings (current client work yet to be completed and billed). That number will be longer for tech firms contracted on projects exceeding one year or more. Still, this is a great peace-of-mind measure and reasonable target.
4. Can Your Second Brain Be a Table?
One of my favorite readers of this newsletter reminded me about Tiago Forte’s new book, Building a Second Brain. Even if you don’t know what this term means, I bet you could guess what this concept is.
Accordingly, I’ve always been fascinated with how past leaders before the digital age organized their information.
Robert Moses has been considered one of the most ruthless power brokers in New York politics and civil service. Rightly or wrongly, he got results when it came to building highways and parks.
Interestingly, he never used a desk. He preferred a table instead.
Since a table has no drawers, there was no place to hide papers; there was no escape from a nagging problem or a difficult-to-answer letter except to get rid of it in one way or another. And there was another advantage: when your desk was a table, you could have conferences at it without even getting up.The Power Broker, Robert Caro, page 268
By using a table, papers and problems could never pile up. He disposed of correspondence quickly each morning.
David Allen and Tiago Forte, you might want to file this away in your slip file system.
5. What is Hospitality?
I recently finished an advanced media copy of Unreasonable Hospitality by the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park (EMP), Will Guidara. For a future podcast episode, I wanted his best definition of hospitality.
“Service is black and white. Hospitality is color.” Will says that’s his favorite definition and one that he gleaned from one of his employees.
The book is part memoir. It includes how he learned about the restaurant industry. He also shares the journey of EMP becoming the best restaurant in the world. The release date is October 25, 2022.
Recent CFO Bookshelf Podcast Playlist:
Surrounded by Idiots
The Best Book for Professional Services Firms
The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry Who Was Harry Guggenheim?
The Business Case for Reading Fiction
Thank You For Reading. Thank you for making this a successful newsletter.
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Always be learning and growing.