Monthly Bookmarks –
155th Edition – June 4th, 2023
An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.Schroff, Laura; Tresniowski, Alex. An Invisible Thread
1. An Invisible Thread
I began an unlikely friendship with someone who lived only two city blocks away from me yet came from a completely different world. The friendship in question was between me and an eleven-year-old panhandler I met on a street corner in Manhattan in 1986. His name is Maurice Mazyck, and when I saw him, he’d been on that corner for hours, asking for spare change.
Those are the words of Laura Schroff, a former ad executive for USA Today, in the forward of her book, An Invisible Thread. Somehow, I missed this story more than ten years ago when it was first told.
Laura and Maurice met nearly weekly for the next four years and hundreds of times after that. More than thirty years after that encounter, they are still friends today.
Moving. Powerful. This could possibly turn out to be my favorite book of the summer.
2. A President’s Speechwriter Gets His MBA
While some 150,000 students graduated with their MBA last month in the U.S., I read one person’s account of his two years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The first line in the book starts with, “One Friday evening in the summer of 1988, I said goodbye to the President of the United States.” What a way to start a book.
Peter Robinson is known for being the wordsmith behind President Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in 1987. After six years of writing speeches, it was off to MBA school, and Peter tells his story in the funny and irreverent, Snapshots from Hell.
Peter ends the book by stating we will have to check in with him in twenty or so years to see how he and his fellow classmates faired. I’m guessing pretty well. “Business school did not, as I’ve said, deliver us into paradise. But it did equip us all to lead pretty interesting lives …”
Is it a 5-star book? No, but it’s more than a 4-star book. If you liked Liar’s Poker, Snapshots from Hell is a nice book pairing.
3. Better Than the Great Game of Business?
I read The Great Game of Business thirty years ago, and I recommend it to every CEO I work with. Today, I encourage readers of that book to read Maverick by Ricardo Semler. Both titles share similar themes in financial transparency and co-partnering with employees. However, Semler’s book goes deeper into the human nature of wanting to stand pat with the old ways, complaining, and doing the bare minimum.
A few of the big ideas in the book include simplifying the budgeting and reporting processes, organizational circles vs traditional pyramid structures, job rotations and regular sabbaticals, easy-to-understand profit sharing, participative management, the power of simple scorecards, and the cure for time sickness (working too many hours).
Semler took over his dad’s business after graduating from college. Within six to seven years, his management innovations resulted in 6x topline growth while profits jumped 5x. At one time, the business had a backlog of 2,000 job applications.
While I recommend the book, buy a used copy of this out-of-print book. The Kindle version is awful.
4. Is Profit the Motive for Entrepreneurs?
In the book, The Entrepreneurs, Derek Lidow states, “Countless scholars have researched, analyzed, and contemplated the role of business and economic structures in shaping society, but we’ve mostly overlooked the role of entrepreneurs.” He says that’s analogous to studying trees while overlooking the role and evolution of seeds.
Lidow goes on to give one of the best descriptions of who these innovators are:
- they are self-directed
- they are innovative in ways that create perceived value within their local culture
- they entice others to offer them something of value in return for delivering their innovation
Are they driven and motivated by profit? The dozens and dozens of inspiring stories in this history reference suggest their primary interest over the ages has been to make an impact on the societies they serve.
5. Getting Carried Away With a Leader’s User Manual
I recently watched a video by Kevin Kruse where he talks about creating a leadership user manual, a one-page document explaining how best to work with that person. Well, I went a little search crazy looking for similar content. Here’s what I found:
- Want to Know Me? Just Read My User Manual (this article Kevin mentions in the video)
- My User Manual
- An example of a user manual
- The Secret to Being a Better Boss: Create a “How to Work With Me” Manual
- Five Steps to Create a Personal User Manual
- Write Them a Manuel by Inc. Magazine
There is even an app for creating a user manual.
Do you have a user manual at your office? Do they make a difference? I’d like to know.
Recent CFO Bookshelf Podcast Playlist:
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