Monthly Bookmarks –
151st Edition – January 1st, 2023
Models whose results remain a mystery are not useful; models that can be translated into intuitive insights and be broadly understood can be useful.”Levy, Dan. Maxims for Thinking Analytically: The wisdom of legendary Harvard Professor Richard Zeckhauser (p. 28). Kindle Edition.Enter Here
1. 2023 Reading Objectives
What are your reading goals for the new year? Or do you have an objective or two in your reading program? Have you considered the idea of themes instead?
For about the past five or more years, one of my themes has been more fiction and fewer business books. Last year, one of my main themes was rereading a handful of my favorite books.
Reading themes can be powerful for continuous learning because you can focus on areas where voids exist that can help your professional growth. Here are a few ideas to consider with reading themes:
- stick to three themes or fewer
- keeping a prior year’s theme or two is fine, but try adding at least one new theme for the year
- stretch the mind – include a theme that can expand your mind where a level of difficulty exists
2. Upside Down Management
One of the books I’m looking forward to reading in the upcoming weeks is Upside Down Management by John Timpson, the founder of the UK’s shoe repair chain bearing his name. If you have read Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace (I consider it a classic), I’m assuming we’ll see similarities in how these two businesses are run.
At Timpson, there are only two rules: look the part and put all the money in the till. Many of the employees are hired directly from prison, and they are allowed to make vital decisions on prices, hiring, and any other decisions revolving around the customer.
If you don’t have time to read the book, this short video by the son of John Timpson provides some quick insights:
3. Employee Hardship Funds
Another video about the Timpson management philosophy got me thinking about employee hardship funds.
After 22 years of consulting small business owners, I learned two words that had to be banished from my vocabulary, “You should.”
I’m breaking that rule. Every small business should at least consider starting an employee hardship fund which addresses 1) who to support, 2) when, 3) how, and 4) the method for financing the hardship fun.
Kent Taylor, the founder of Texas Roadhouse, passed away before Made From Scratch was published last year (2021). I vividly recall him writing about his company’s employee assistance program which provided much relief to employees during the pandemic. But details on the fund were lacking.
If you want to learn more about such funds, here’s my shortlist:
- The Red Tab Employee Hardship Fund Playbook – Creating a Safety Net. This is my favorite resource. The Red Tab Foundation was created 40 years ago by Levi Strauss & Co. and has disbursed more than $35 million in hardship grants since its creation.
- The great people at Commonwealth have created a document on employee assistance programs. It’s more thorough than the document above, but I recommend the RTF playbook first.
- HBR Article – Employee Hardship Funds Help Companies Help Their People. It’s not a how-to piece, but it’s a sharable article to get the conversation started in your organization. The authors also mention the Red Tab Organization.
- Finally, skim or study the Cash Implementation Playbook by New America, a document that presents different approaches taken by the participating organizations so that nonprofits, governments, and policymakers can learn from existing cash assistance programs. The Q&A structure is excellent.
4. Maxims for Analytical Thinking
I enjoyed A Class With Drucker so much that I read it a second time and eventually read all of the author’s books. Surely, there are similar books by students who have been inspired by their professors.
I never found such a title until I recently finished Maxims for Analytical Thinking that is based on “Analytic Frameworks for Policy,” a course taught by the legendary Richard Zeckhauser of the Harvard Kennedy School for more than four decades.
The book reads fast, and if you are a fan of Ariely or Kahneman, you may find yourself lacking in new insights after reading these maxims. Where this book differs is that readers come away with pragmatic approaches to solving problems. Thinking in extremes, the modeling mindset, and analogue immersion are some of my favorite frameworks in the book. In my rating system, I give it a 4.5.
5. Your Favorite Books in 2023
May I ask a favor? One of our most-listened-to podcasts in 2022 was our favorite books in 2021. We’ll do a similar show in a few weeks based on the 94 books consumed either via audio or text.
Send an email if you want your favorite books listed, and let us know if we can use your name.
Thank You For Reading. Thank you for making this a successful newsletter.
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Always be learning and growing.