74th Edition – July 5, 2020
The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.James Monroe
1. Remembering Anders Ericsson
Malcolm Gladwell put Anders Ericsson on the map when he explained the 10,000-hour rule in his 2008 best-selling book, Outliers.
This week, Ericsson passed away at the age of 72. Ericsson disagreed with Gladwell’s interpretation of his research on how people become experts in their field. Ericsson revealed the concept of deliberate practice which is far more critical than only adding hours to gain knowledge or expertise.
When I learned of his passing, I immediately wanted to revisit his research. My suggestion is Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise. In Ericsson fashion, I’m taking my time reading about one chapter every other day and taking copious notes for future reference.
2. Making the Abstract Concrete and Simple
One of my favorite jobs in my work is simplifying the complex. I like to do so in simple frameworks and/or analogies. Consider the following terms from Madison Avenue:
- Melts in your mouth, not in your hand (M&Ms)
- You’re in good hands (Allstate)
- When it Rains, It Pours (Morton Salt)
I’m not saying we need to become the David Ogilvy of financial leaders (although that would be cool). But we can learn the art and science of using words that are sticky from our financial and analytical world of abstractions.
3. Revisiting the 4-Hour Workweek
I’ve been doing a lot of driving the past three weeks for business, and since my what-seems-ancient 80-gig iPod appears to be dying a slow death, I’ve been re-listening to old books on CDs – I have close to a hundred, I think.
Sorry Tim, the book just didn’t resonate as much as it did some ten-plus years earlier. Perhaps it was because of the domain names or one-eight-hundred numbers referenced. And, parts of the book are outdated.
But I was intrigued by the first book he recommended at the end – The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I’m adding it to my listening list later in the year.
4. My Pick 3 July Reading List
Need some business reading ideas for July? Here are three, but you only need to pick one:
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a book every CEO should read. The first chapter is gold.
- I try to read at least a dozen or so marketing books a year because great marketing makes selling a lot easier. My July pick is Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Trout and Ries. It’s a classic. This book is not just for the CEO, but for financial leaders too.
- If you read widely and deeply, then you’ve probably read Creativity, Inc. by Catmull. I thought I understood the heart of company culture until I read this book. It’s part autobiography, part biography, and part business narrative. The listening experience is as good as reading the text.
5. The New Business Normal – Layoffs and Bankruptcies
It seems like I read about one major bankruptcy a day along with company downsizing caused by COVID-19. Above, I mentioned The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Horowitz, and he includes a section on layoffs.
His ‘right way’ to layoff people includes addressing the entire company before the event happens with proper context. While I agree with many of the author’s points, he left out a critical step.
Don’t we have an obligation to help those we have to let go? Go back to your company’s inner-most values because you’ll find the answer there.
Thank You For Reading. Thank you for making this a successful newsletter.
If you like the content 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.
Stay safe and healthy.