The 100 Best Business Books of All Time Weekend Edition

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time:
What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You

By Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
Published by Portfolio
ISBN: 9781591844464
eBook ISBN: 9781101568149
Copyright © 2009, 2011 by Jack Covert & Todd Sattersten

Buy the Book

 

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

A good business book offers a ton of value for less than thirty dollars and a few hours of attention. And a great business book can change your life.

It’s not easy to find those gems, though, in the endless stream of new books. Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, with a combined thirty-five years in the business book industry, have made it their job to be that filter. They’ve taken on the ultimate challenge–to reread the classics, the bestsellers, and the sleepers and choose the 100 most relevant, most revealing, most useful books in business history.

Covert and Sattersten highlight important takeaways and put each book in context so that you can quickly find solutions to your current situation. At the end of each review, they recommend other books (both inside and outside their top 100) that you should read next. Sprinkled throughout are sidebars that take you beyond business books to movies, novels, and children’s books.

You’ll find a fresh look at classics such as Good to Great, The Essential Drucker, and The Tipping Point, as well as recommendations that might surprise you. For instance:

–> Turn to page 34 to find out why Dr. Seuss isn’t just for kids.

–> Turn to page 70 for Winston Churchill’s words of inspiration.

–> Turn to page 293 to learn Twyla Tharp’s unique approach to creativity.

The 100 Best will help anyone, from entry-level worker to CEO, cut through the clutter and discover the business books that are truly worth their time.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Jack Covert is the president and founder of 800-CEO-READ, a specialty business book retailer that began as a subsidiary of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops. Jack lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife of forty-plus years, many granddaughters, and three cats.

Todd Sattersten is the founder of BizBookLab, a company that identifies, develops, and launches business books around the world. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children.

 

INTRODUCTION

11,000. That was the number of business books published in the United States in 2007. Placed one on top of another, the stack would stand as tall as a ninety-story building. And the 880 million words in that ninety-story pile would take six and a half years to read. Locked somewhere in this tower of paper is the solution to your current business problem.

In fact, a book publisher recently shared research with us that showed the number one reason people buy business books is to find solutions to problems. Sitting at the educational crossroads of “I know nothing about this” and “Let’s hire a consultant,” good business books contain a high-value proposition for thirty dollars and two hours of your attention.

But it is more than that. Business books can change you, if you let them. The Lexus and the Olive Tree will lead you to a paradigm shift from local to global. Now, Discover Your Strengths quizzes you, then encourages an exploration of your talents, not your weaknesses. And Moneyball shows that any industry is ripe for reinvention.

It is difficult to find those gems, though. The endless stream of new books requires a filter to help discern the good and the better from the absolute best. The solution to that problem is this book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

Recommending the best in business books is in our company’s DNA. In the early days of 800-CEO-READ, Jack manually compiled a new acquisitions list every week to keep customers informed of the latest releases. This weekly list evolved into a set of monthly reviews called “Jack Covert Selects.” When Todd joined the company in 2004, the recommendations were further expanded to include a daily weblog, a semiweekly podcast, and the monthly publication of essays on ChangeThis (change this.com). The latest additions are the annual 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards and the publication In the Books, both of which highlight the best of the year in business books.

After sifting through “the new and the now” of business books for a quarter-century, we decided it was time to bring together the books that are most deserving of your attention.

OF ALL TIME?

Our choices for the one hundred best business books of all time will certainly find detractors. So early on we want to make clear our criteria for selecting these books. First, the most important criterion was the quality of the idea. Recognizing that judgment of quality is subjective, we found the only route to choosing the best was to ask of each book the same set of questions: Is the author making a good argument? Is there something new to what he or she is presenting? Does the idea align or contradict with what we intrinsically know about business? Can we use this idea to make our business better? After asking these questions of thousands of books, we found ample candidates. However, a good idea was not the only consideration in selecting the 100 Best.

The second factor in choosing these books was the applicability of the idea for someone working in business today. We dismissed books that described dated theories that have since been replaced or those containing anecdotes for success about companies that no longer exist. For example, Frederick Taylor’s turn-of-the-century view that laborers were merely replaceable cogs in some organizational machine has been largely replaced by a more humanistic view that individuals bring the diversity of their strengths to the work they do. The selections in our book represent a more contemporary (and thus, more applicable) point of view and in this way diverge from other “best of” lists.

Finally, the books needed to be accessible. A good idea is indecipherable when conveyed using cryptic language, and worthwhile messages get lost when surrounded by pointless filler. For all the love we have for Adam Smith, we didn’t select The Wealth of Nations and its nine hundred-plus pages because of the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. We suggest Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm as a more accessible substitute for Everett Rogers’s Diffusion of Innovations. In this sense, we champion the reader’s need for clear access to whatever idea the author is selling.

HOW TO USE THE BOOK

This book contains twelve sections, organized by category. We start with the most important subject of all: you. Then, leadership, strategy, and sales and marketing follow. We include a short section on rules and scorekeeping, after which you’ll find sections devoted to management, biographies, and entrepreneurship. We close with narratives and books on innovation and creativity and big ideas.

In the reviews themselves, we aimed to stay true to the promise of our subtitle, “What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You.” This was an ambitious task in the 500 to 1,000 words we allotted for each book, but the effort resulted in reviews that are an amalgamation of a summary of the book, our own stories, the context for the ideas presented by the authors, and our take on how the book might best be used. Since we divided the task of reviewing the books, we’ve identified the reviewer (Jack or Todd) at the beginning of each entry.

We were as careful with the design of this book as we were with the selection of the books included. We drew on a wide variety of inspirations to create the layout that makes it something different. The browse-friendly style of magazines inspired our use of highlighted quotes, large headings, and rich illustrations. We mimicked the Choose Your Own Adventure children’s book series by giving readers the opportunity to choose their own path through the listings. And finally, scattered throughout The 100 Best are sidebars that stand independent from the reviews, taking the reader beyond business books, suggesting movies, novels, and even children’s books that offer equally relevant insights.

We truly hope you enjoy the book and use it to find solutions to your business problems. We’d love to hear whether you agree or disagree with our choices, and of any successes that resulted from reading one of the recommended books. Jack is available at jack@800ceoread.com, and Todd is at Todd.Sattersten@gmail.com. You can also find more material online at 100bestbiz.com.

YOU Yes, you! How about spending some time on you for once?
You have things to do.
You have some habits to break and some new ones to form.
You have a life you want to live.
You need to start by reading this chapter.

Flow
MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
Reviewed by Jack

The pursuit of happiness has been contemplated by many thinkers over the ages, from Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson to Viktor Frankl, and the conversation continues today. No matter how much society has evolved in physical comforts or cultural achievements, happiness remains elusive. We talk about it, we write books about it, and yet we barely recognize it.

But we have all experienced it. Happiness comes in those moments of effortless concentration when minutes, even hours, seem to pass without so much as a glance at the clock. It’s the point guard unconsciously dropping three-pointers in the big game. It’s the writer sitting at her keyboard while the story writes itself. In those moments, we have experienced what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow,” when we are totally focused and completely un-self- conscious. This achievement of flow captures that longed-for state of happiness.

These moments appear to us as fleeting and unpredictable, though Csikszentmihalyi’s research shows otherwise. Certain pursuits and activities lend themselves to reaching a state of flow. Csikszentmihalyi describes the common characteristics of these activities as including “a sense that one’s skills are adequate to cope with the challenges at hand, in a goal-directed, rule-bound action system that provides clear clues as to how well one is performing.” Games, in the broadest sense of the word, contain those elements. Rules provide boundaries. Practice builds skills. And scoring systems offer immediate feedback on your performance.

If jobs were constructed like games, Csikszentmihalyi posits, flow would be reached more often at work. He offers surgeons as an example of workers who reliably achieve flow. A surgeon’s goal is clear: fix what is broken. The feedback is immediate and continual: check heartbeat monitor. The intense challenge is recurring, though no surgery is the same. The operating room itself is designed to block out distractions. And because the risk is so great, a surgeon is in a state of concentration “so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappears, and the sense of time becomes distorted.” All of these features create an emotional rush for a surgeon. The only time a surgeon loses that level of engagement is when he or she gets into a position of rote repetition and the game becomes predictable.

Flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

The premise of this book is based on an experience we have all had: those precious moments when time flies and we find we have accomplished a great deal. I have included Flow here at the beginning of this section as a starting point, a broad discussion about our mental approach to accomplishing tasks. But the significance of these optimal experiences extends beyond productivity and lies in their ability to provide us with periods of happiness. I know the feeling of flow, the kind of high it gives, and as with all good things, I want to learn how to tap into that feeling more often. There seems to be no more worthwhile endeavor. JC

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper Perennial, Paperback 1991, ISBN 9780060920432

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 295 for the art of possibility ** Page 54 for the art of leadership ** Page 313 for the art of self-awareness / EVEN MORE: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl; The Pursuit of Happiness by David G. Myers; Group Genius by Keith Sawyer

Getting Things Done
DAVID ALLEN
Reviewed by Todd

Most efforts to get organized fail. Even given one’s diligent use of a FranklinCovey planner or PDA, tasks change hourly based on priorities of the corporate moment. Calendars capture but a fraction of our total responsibilities, and simple to-do lists prove, as author David Allen puts it, “inadequate to deal with the volume and variable nature of the average professional’s workload.”

In Getting Things Done, Allen suggests productivity comes from a quiet state of mental being. Distractions easily disrupt conscious thought. Poorly defined to-do’s force the brain into repeating loops of infinite alternatives. Getting Things Done shifts the focus from the commonly defined problems of time, information, and priorities, to action with a capital A. By defining and managing actions, ambiguous tasks are turned into clear next steps. And once those actions are captured using a reliable system, the mental noise clears, allowing space for more substantive thought.

“The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them.”

Allen introduces a “workflow method” made up of five distinct stages. Everything that commands attention—unread e-mails, a pile of magazines, the never-ending list of household projects—is collected and processed, and decisions are made about subsequent actions. The results are organized into lists, calendars, or projects. The overall flow is reviewed weekly, allowing a wide-angle view of the progress. The final step is doing: writing the e-mail, returning the call, buying the groceries. As Allen says, despite most people’s declaration that there is just not enough time in the day, time is not the issue; clarifying the actions needed is where people fall down.

The modularity of Allen’s system makes it attractive to all people looking to be more productive. While the highest possible Getting Things Done mind-set is achieved with devotion to all five interlocking steps, adopting a single discipline or stand-alone technique can bring measurable benefit. For example, Allen suggests using a tickler folder to hold items that can be dealt with at a later date. I recently took his advice and started an electronic tickler folder (as opposed to the physical folder system he recommends), and I’m happy to report that the simple benefit of a reliable system for follow-up calls and forthcoming business books clears a perceivable portion of my personal RAM.

THE FIVE STAGES OF MANAGING WORKFLOW

We…

1. collect things that command our attention
2. process what they mean and what to do about them
3. organize the results
4. review as options for what we choose to…
5. do

To say Getting Things Done has a following would be an understatement. Programmers and technology enthusiasts were early adopters, attracted to its simple but methodical approach to eliminating mental clutter. These same individuals tested and experimented with the most effective use of software, often writing their own code to create a solution that best fit their unique needs. Several dozen stand-alone applications have been brought to market, as well as supplements for industry standards like Microsoft Outlook. New Getting Things Done converts can do a simple Google search to discover forums, blog posts, and vendors of all sizes to help with their organizational metamorphoses.

High-level athletes train for years to perfect the smallest aspects of their performance. Allen is suggesting the same in Getting Things Done. Mental loose ends and overflowing in-boxes sap our ability to perform. By implementing processes and focusing on action, business-people share with athletes the same benefits of a clear mind and forward momentum. TS

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, Penguin Books, Paperback 2001, ISBN 9780142000281

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 18 for personal effectiveness ** Page 32 for early effectiveness ** Page 95 for organizational effectiveness / EVEN MORE: Ready for Anything by David Allen; Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb; Lifehacker by Gina Trapani

* * * * * * * * * *

BUSINESS

Jack Covert Selects

“Jack Covert Selects” book reviews morphed out of a memo I produced each week in the late 1980s called the “New Acquisitions List.” Every Saturday I typed up the new book titles (yup, on a typewriter) from that week along with twenty-five to fifty words directly from the books’ flyleaf copy. I would then mail the list to my customers, mainly corporate librarians and the rare dedicated business-book reader. This piece filled an information void until Amazon arrived in 1995 and made reviews on specific genres, like business books, more readily available. My customers also changed during that time; corporate purchasing began to go the way of the woolly mammoth due to easy access to new information through the Internet.

For the new millennium, David Schwartz, my mentor and owner of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, from which 800-CEO-READ originated, suggested that we grow the “New Acquisitions List” into a monthly review of recommended books—reviews that would consist of my words, not those of the publishers. The reviews would continue the conversation with our customers about good books while differentiating our suggested titles from the information available online. “Jack Covert Selects” was our first step toward branding our company as the arbiter of good business books. My reviews have become a cornerstone of the wide range of information products we offer to all avid business book readers.

Through the years, we have reviewed over 350 books. Eighteen titles featured in this book were originally featured in “Jack Covert Selects.”

Written by Jack Covert

* * * * * * * * * *

The Effective Executive
PETER F. DRUCKER
Reviewed by Todd

Peter Drucker’s theories and arguments always start at the most basic level, assuming little or no previous knowledge of a topic on the part of the reader. The premise of The Effective Executive is no different. Drucker starts by asking: if the ultimate measurement of manual labor is efficiency, what is the corollary measurement for knowledge workers? Drucker argues that rather than “doing things right,” knowledge workers must strive for effectiveness by “doing the right things.” This powerful insight into how individuals need to work led to this book’s inclusion in The 100 Best.

“Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time,” Drucker begins. In his classic style of driving to the core of an issue, Drucker quotes studies that show how humans have a poor perception of time and are worse at remembering how they spend their time. Because the typical executive is at the mercy of those he serves, the issue of time becomes more acute. Drucker suggests keeping a log, and if more than one-half of an executive’s time is being dictated by others, it is time to wrestle back control. Three common time sponges that need to be considered include: doing things that don’t need to be done, doing things that could be better done by others, and doing things that require others to do unnecessary things.

Effective executives use the strengths of individuals in an organization. Drucker talks about the importance of strengths in this book, almost thirty-five years before Gallup’s popular theory was discussed in Now, Discover Your Strengths. In leveraging extraordinary strengths, however, you must also put up with weaknesses. Drucker has no qualms about hiring the prima donnas and geniuses, saying any managerial discomfort is simply a part of the deal. Contribution is the only measurement of success that matters.

To that point, Drucker spends a whole chapter on contribution, asserting that this type of measurement provides focus for the effective executive. At the organizational level, an eye on contribution shifts attention from downward and inward to upward and outward, toward clients, customers, and constituents. “To ask, ‘What can I contribute?’ is to look at the unused potential in the job,” Drucker writes. He believes that communication, teamwork, self-improvement, and development of others all become natural extensions of contribution.

Contribution itself comes only with concentration. Drucker felt this was the one true secret to effectiveness, and his statement, “Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time,” foreshadows the rise of David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy. With a focus on singular activity, executives ask important questions about abandoning often benign initiatives and programs, especially ones that have never met expectations. Leaving the past is central to progress. The very nature of an executive’s job is to make decisions about committing resources to the possibilities of tomorrow.

“Effectiveness is, after all, not a ‘subject,’ but a self discipline.”

Decision making is Drucker’s final practice of effectiveness. Effective executives solve problems once. They look at problems as generic to begin with, and try to solve them with rules that will be simple and easy to follow for everyone, not just those involved in the current issue. Decision makers also understand that doing nothing is an acceptable option as well. Effective executives know that a decision is not complete until it is put into action. Simple solutions that everyone in the organization can understand improve the likelihood of their adoption. We hear echoes of Bossidy and Charan’s Execution here as Drucker emphasizes the idea that a decision is merely intent if it is not a part of someone’s responsibilities.

Time. Strengths. Contribution. Concentration. Decision making. Each of these subjects has been covered in myriad works since Drucker first addressed them in The Effective Executive, but his book stands alone as an indispensable handbook for the leader, covering the topics at just the right level of detail and from just the right perspective to enable action.

The book can serve as both a starting point for the novice and a firm reminder for the experienced that our labor is not about doing things, but rather doing the right things. TS

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done, HarperCollins, Paperback 2006, ISBN 9780060833459

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 183 for building strengths ** Page 9 for narrowing your focus ** Page 95 for turning decisions into actions / EVEN MORE Managing for Results by Peter F. Drucker; What Makes an Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker, Harvard Business Review in June 2004 (also included as the introduction to the 2006 edition of The Effective Executive)

How to Be a Star at Work
ROBERT E. KELLEY
Reviewed by Jack

To excel in business you need to rise above your peers and be noticed for all the right reasons. How to Be a Star at Work is the book that will show you how to accomplish that feat without selling your soul to the god of hubris.

The core concepts of this book revolve around research compiled from Bell Labs during the mid-1980s and after the breakup of “Ma Bell.” For twenty-four months, Robert E. Kelley and his team worked as consultants to management at Bell Labs to discover what separates a star performer from all the rest. First, they surveyed senior and middle managers, asking what they thought was the difference between star performers and average performers. The managerial responses were what you would expect: stars would be smarter, better problem solvers, more driven, more outgoing, and greater risk takers. The company then gave multiple tests to a number of stars and average performers. The results were surprising. The researchers found no measurable difference. For Bell, this was a good news/bad news situation. It was bad news in that there wasn’t one trait management could look for to provide a shortcut to finding stars. The good news was the realization that all employees can be shown the elements needed to become stars and then escorted down that path by aware managers.

Kelley presents nine strategies one can learn to reach “star-hood.” One of the nine points he delineates is “Organizational Savvy”:

What average performers think it is: The talent for brownnosing and schmoozing in the workplace to help me get noticed by the right people. What star producers know it to be: A work strategy that enables me to navigate the competing interests in an organization, to promote cooperation, address conflicts, and get things done.

To help readers gain organizational savvy, Kelley offers a six-step approach that is wholly doable: find a mentor; understand the “real” organizational chart, not the one in the annual report; master relationship building; learn to manage conflict; create a niche; develop credibility.

Another of Kelley’s strategies is “Initiative,” which he describes as: “Blazing Trails in the Organization’s White Spaces.” Kelley gives examples of people who have taken initiative with some amazing results. He tells about a state bureaucrat who was afraid of losing her job during a potential down-sizing within her department. In an effort to establish her value to the organization, she took all the Medicare and federal funding manuals home to study and found an accounting “wrinkle” between the way the state and the Feds calculated hospital costs and income. As a result, the state was getting much less from the federal government than was deserved. In the end, the state got a check for $489 million and our bureaucrat kept her job. Kelley believes that stars show initiative when they: “Seek out responsibility above and beyond the expected job description,” “Undertake extra efforts for the benefit of coworkers or the larger group,” “Stick tenaciously to an idea or project and follow it through to successful implementation,” and “Willingly assume some personal risk in taking on new responsibilities.” In the author’s research, 60 to 80 percent of average performers in the workforce don’t have inherent initiative and are resistant to the extra effort because they view it as doing somebody else’s work.

THE NINE WORK STRATEGIES

1. Initiative: Blazing Trails in the Organization’s White Spaces
2. Networking: Knowing Who Knows by Plugging into the Knowledge Network
3. Self-Management: Managing Your Whole Life at Work
4. Perspective: Getting the Big Picture
5. Followership: Checking Your Ego at the Door to Lead in Assists
6. Teamwork: Getting Real about Teams
7. Leadership: Doing Small-L Leadership in a Big-L World
8. Organizational Savvy: Using Street Smarts in the Corporate Power Zone
9. Show-and-Tell: Persuading Your Audience with the Right Message

“Stars are made, not born.” 

Interestingly, Kelley’s research helped some groups succeed even more, the details of which he added in a chapter in the revised paperback edition. For instance, he discovered that women and minorities sometimes had difficulty with three of the strategies—initiative, networking, and teamwork—due to a history of discrimination in the workplace. While Kelley found that, generally, when all employees incorporated the star strategy into their day-to-day routine the company’s productivity rate increased an average of l00 percent, he also discovered that when women and minorities incorporated this strategy, productivity rates rose to over 400 percent.

Kelly clearly comes down on the nurture side of the nature-versus-nurture debate, concluding that performance can be nurtured even in large organizations. That speaks well enough for the effectiveness of the strategies in this book. How to Be a Star at Work is a practical book needed by both employees and employers to move to the next level. JC

How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed, Three Rivers Press, Paperback 1999, ISBN 9780812931693

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 154 for what the boss expects ** Page 127 for how to network better ** Page 316 for how people are programmed / EVEN MORE Sink or Swim by Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell; You’re in Charge, Now What? by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin; Know-How by Ram Charan

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
STEPHEN R. COVEY
Reviewed by Todd

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the outcome of Stephen Covey’s doctoral research into personal development literature. He studied two hundred years’ worth of self-help, popular psychology, and self-improvement writings, and identified two distinct philosophies of self-improvement. The first is what we identify with principles found in the works of early-American visionaries like Benjamin Franklin: principles such as integrity, industry, humility, and simplicity. Covey calls this the “Character Ethic,” and it was the dominant philosophy in American success literature until the early twentieth century. But Covey found the literature changed significantly after World War I, with a shift in emphasis from quality of character to improvement of personality, behavior, and attitude: the Personality Ethic. He takes aim at books, though not by name, like How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, and The Power of Positive Thinking, saying at best these books focus on secondary traits and at worst teach deception using a quick-fix mentality.

Covey divides the first six habits equally between habits of private victory and habits of public victory. The first private habit, “Be Proactive,” describes the freedom of choice one has between stimulus and response, between loss of a job and loss of self-worth. The initiative to learn a new skill is a simple incarnation of “Let’s look at the alternatives” versus “There’s nothing I can do.”


“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”


Then, his second habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” encourages the use of imagination to envision a set of creative choices about the future, the same energies employed in leadership. Covey advocates the development of personal mission statements to codify the varying roles and responsibilities of home, work, and community. “Put First Things First” takes that newly defined identity derived from the mission statements and matches up tasks and priorities to ensure alignment. When Covey asked readers which habit was the most difficult to adopt, this management process ranked number one, and he wrote another book, First Things First, to further explore the challenges.

“Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others,” Covey writes, and then moves forward with his three public habits: “Think Win/Win,” “Seek First to Understand…Then to Be Understood,” and “Synergize.” All are based on relationships. “Think Win/Win” is interpersonal leadership that creates mutual benefits for all parties. The classic negotiation book Getting to Yes uses the same philosophy, calling for individuals to use an abundance mentality in their interactions and look past the confining paradigm of the zero-sum game.

Being a good listener is a skill that is helpful in any relationship and sits at the core of “Seek First to Understand…Then to Be Understood.” When someone is speaking to us, our natural response is to listen autobiographically: agreeing or disagreeing, asking questions from our point of view, giving advice based on our own experiences, trying to figure out what is making someone feel the way they do based on how we would react. Covey spends much of the chapter on an extended example of a conversation between a disillusioned son and well-intentioned father. Covey replays the conversation a number of times showing how ineffective listening with our biases can be. When listening, the author writes, “rephrase the content and reflect the feeling.” Then he shows how the conversation completely changes. The second half of the discussion of this habit is about presenting ideas, and Covey returns to Aristotle’s rhetorical philosophy of ethos (character), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).

“Synergize” encapsulates the entire Seven Habits process. When people join together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and greater insights and previously unseen results are achieved. Covey suggests synergy is the third alternative to “my way or the wrong way.” All relationships grow when trust and cooperation grow.

The seventh habit, “Sharpen the Saw,” returns to the individual but “will renew the first six and will make you truly independent and capable of effective interdependence.” Covey believes we all have four dimensions that need continual renewal: the physical, the mental, the spiritual, and the social/emotional. He suggests spending an hour working on the first three every day. Find time for a cardiovascular workout. Read the classics. Keep a journal. Meditate or pray. It is only through recharging that we have the energies to succeed in the other aspects of our lives. TS

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Free Press, Paperback 2004, ISBN 9780743269513

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 21 for the philosophy Covey takes to task ** Page 313 for more on empathic listening ** Page 38 for keeping the end in mind / EVEN MORE: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl; First Things First by Stephen R. Covey; Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

(This excerpt from The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten ends on page 20 of the paperback.)

*****TABLE OF CONTENTS *****

YOU
LEADERSHIP
STRATEGY
SALES AND MARKETING
RULES AND SCOREKEEPING

MANAGEMENT
BIOGRAPHIES
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
NARRATIVES
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY
BIG IDEAS

next week, another selection in the Oakville Public Library Business Online Book Club, a free service made possible with the help of the Sprott Foundation

If you enjoyed this selection, go to your local library or better still, Buy the Book

About Dawn Montgomery

Dawn Montgomery doesn't believe in boxes. In 2009 she gained access to the hidden job market by connecting with commuters on the GO train, receiving coverage from The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Hamilton Spectator, plus interviews with Canada AM, CHML 900 and That Channel; however, this was not the first example of her "box?...what box?" thinking. On arrival as an immigrant to Canada the anticipated job and accommodation were no longer available, so she sourced another opportunity and, seven days later, with suitcase of heels and coordinating bags, drove 1804k to the logging and mining community of Ear Falls (pop. 1500) Ontario; it was January, the journey took five days, she stayed two years...the path less travelled is a familiar one!
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