I am frequently asked what has been the best book, the most influential book, and the most enjoyable book that I have read for the First Friday Book Synopsis over the 17 years we have been conducting the program. I entertained that question as recently as last night, as I distributed fliers for our August 1 program in Dallas.
The best book was Good to Great by Jim Collins.(New York: Harper Business, 2001). The most influential book was Winning the Global Game by Jeffrey Rosensweig (New York: Free Press, 1998). But, those explanations are for other posts.
In today’s post, I will cover the most enjoyable book.
Novel-like in its presentation, this book took you inside the operations of the company as well as inside the brain of its author. The book makes you feel as if you were celebrating with the author in good times, and struggling with him to feel the anger and pain in hard times.
In every event covered in the book, you not only read the facts, but also, the attitude and feelings that accompany them. Most striking was the story of a leaked e-Mail that found its way to the Internet, jeopardizing the future of the company. Another was the anger that Schultz expressed when he wanted his shops to smell like coffee, not burnt cheese, causing him to ask if they were going to start serving hash browns.
The story of VIA was captivating, as were the issues of expanding the business internationally.
Starbucks has been the subject of many books, articles, and posts over the years. The company’s success speaks for itself. But you will find nothing that takes you inside nearly as much as this book.
I sometimes wish that Schultz would keep his mouth shut. When he speaks out about politics, education, and other social issues, I visualize boycotts, picket lines, and lost customers. But, he can’t do it. He is outspoken and opinionated. And, he has enough money to cut his losses. There is no question that this book would not have been my choice for the most entertaining work had Schultz been modest and laid-back. That is simply not him.
It is dated now. Starbucks has moved on. Schultz and the company have solved many of the problems you read in this book, and they have been replaced by new challenges.
However, history is history. And this one is fun. Perhaps that is because I am a customer and have experienced in the stores much of what I read here. But, what makes it fun is going inside the boardroom, operations, and brain of its author.
For a period of time, this book was # 1 on the best-seller lists, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
You can read a review of this book written by Bob Morris on our blog by clicking here.
I will explain why I selected the best book and most influential book in future posts.
It does not take long to fall behind in your reading.
One place to fall behind is with the writings of the prolific Bob Morris. Bob has been our blogging team colleague since our blog became a genuine blog. I do not know anyone who reads as much as he does – and he remembers what he reads! He has become an important business resource for so very many of his reader, including me.
Seth Godin calls Bob a critic that matters, and just today Heidi Grant Halvorson called him simply: “noted business book blogger and Amazon Top 50 Reviewer.” His has gained the respect, and trust, of a long list of important, and valuable, business book authors.
So, if you are like me, you wish you could read every one of his blog posts. I try to… but I fall behind. As, I suspect, you do. And then, there are some who have just recently discovered Bob, so there is a lot of “older material” worth discovering.
So you wonder: “Can I find his book reviews, and his interviews, in one place, without just scrolling through the archives?”
I’ve got good news. The answer is yes. On his own blog, BobMorris.biz, Bob has tabs for his book reviews, his interviews with scores of authors, and other valuable content. But it is especially valuable for this: say you wonder if Bob has reviewed a specific book, or interviewed a specific author. Here is the fastest way to answer this question, and find what you are looking for.
So, here are your links.
Click here for Bob’s web site.
Click here for the book reviews on his web site. (arranged alphabetically, by book title)
Click here for interviews on his website (arranged alphabetically, by last name of the person interviewed)
No, these lists are not yet exhaustive. (Bob has reviewed over 2,000 books over the last few years!). But they are a great starting place.
We are so appreciative that Bob shares his reviews and interviews and other offerings here on our blog. And, of course, I invite you to browse through our archives to find what you might have missed from Bob. But when you want to “catch up,” or just browse through specific types of offerings from Bob, follow the links above. You will find them valuable, useful – a business education goldmine just a click or two away.
We have selected two best selling, helpful business books for the July First Friday Book Synopsis. My colleague Karl Krayer will present his synopsis of Onward, the book by Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. I will present the creativity stretching book, Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linkner.
If you are in the DFW area on July 8 (NOTE!: the 2nd Friday of July, because of the 4th of July holiday weekend), come join us. You will be able to register soon for this event from this web site. If you have never attended our monthly event, now is a great time to join our learning community.
As business leaders, we’re voracious seekers of business improvement ideas in the form of conferences, books, blogs, and training. We want our performance to be better, and we know it should be better.
Gary Harpst, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem that Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier
Of course I cannot do without a single one of these possessions, including more or less every book I have owned since I was seven, starting with Huckleberry Finn. Other books I can’t throw away because–well, they’re books, and you can’t throw away a book, can you?
Roger Ebert (see this blog post)
That is something of a magic number. There is a 3,000 hits club in baseball, with only 27 players in all of MLB history to reach that milestone. (Here’s an amazing fact – not one New York Yankees player is on the list. Hard to believe! Derek Jeter has over 2800 hits, and still active).
And now, 3,000 is the number for this blog. This morning, I am posting this, article/post #3,000, on the Frist Friday Book Synopsis blog. Not bad considering how long we have been at this.
Though Karl Krayer and I posted a few entries (literally, a few—not more than two in any one month for the first 15 months of this blog), in April, 2009, everything changed.
First, I decided I really liked blogging. So I started posting far more often than at first.
But then, the real change came when we expanded our “blogging team.” We asked some others to join our efforts. Karl and I continued to write; Cheryl wrote a few posts. But the writer with the most at-bats (to continue the analogy) is Bob Morris.
As I stated in our most recent e-mail to our First Friday Book Synopsis e-mail list:
Bob Morris posts multiple posts every day. Interviews with authors; book reviews; nuggets from a wide array of business sources. This is truly a place to keep learning. It is worth reading, every day, with valuable, useful content.
And so, as the months progressed, the blog took on its current personality. Bob is the king of content. He provides, quite literally, a business ideas, business trends, business questions education. In case you can’t tell, I genuinely admire him, and learn much from him and his writing.
I think I provide something like business devotional reading – kind of business sermons. (I spent 2 decades in full time ministry/preaching).
But we are all deeply committed to lifelong learning. It’s not that we love books (though we do) – it is that we believe in the value of, and the energizing power of, learning – true lifelong learning.
So, yes, this is a blog about business books, and many business subjects/issues. But it is not quite a blog about business books. It is much more a blog about learning; a blog providing a place to help you learn; a blog devoted to lifelong learning. And our commitment to learning flows from our experience with books — we read, therefore we learn.
And, a very special thank you to you, our readers. Yes, your numbers have grown, and continue to grow. How big is our readership? I have not figured out how we compare to others. But we have grown from less than a handful of readers to nearly 600 page views every day – and that number increases month after month.
Bookmark us; spread the word about this blog. Use those buttons at the end of each of these articles: tweet our articles, put them on your Facebook page – help us tell others.
We simply want to help each other learn – it’s that simple.
This blog is a part of the overall First Friday Book Synopsis community. It all starts with our monthly learning event, at which Karl Krayer and I each present a synopsis of a useful, valuable business book. We have met every month since April, 1998. Take a look (thanks to Anastasia Lankford for the photos):
Sybil Gordon: [about running] Do you love running?
Harold M. Abrahams: I’m more of an addict. It’s a compulsion, a weapon.
Sybil Gordon: Against what?
Harold M. Abrahams: Being Jewish I suppose.
Sybil Gordon: [laughs incredulously] You’re not serious!
Harold M. Abrahams: You’re not Jewish, or you wouldn’t ask.
(from Chariots of Fire, taken directly from the video)
Andrew Sullivan’s blog is always provocative, rich, and wide-ranging. He (and his team) do not allow comments, but they regularly feature e-mails from readers — never identified by name, but frequently, identified by profession and/or background.
Here is an excerpt from a reader’s e-mail. This is from a woman:
I am a Wikipedia administrator, a volunteer position to which I was elected by community members. I am also a woman. I think that Wikipedia’s lack of female editors is a problem for two main reasons.
The blog had been focusing some recently on the lack of diversity on Wikipedia. In her e-mail, this reader has a really terrific paragraph:
The problem of absent voices is not limited to the lack of participation by women. It also includes the lack of participation by those older than the Gen-Y and Gen-X crowd. It includes the lack of participation by the poor. It includes the lack of participation by those in the global south, or those who are not internet-connected. It includes the lack of participation by ethnic minorities. It includes the lack of participation by people who are not tech-savvy.
The problem of absent voices: a great phrase, a serious, serious problem!
Bob Morris has done a really good job on this blog posting articles about, reviews of books by, and insight from, women. It’s one of many things I appreciate about him. But, take a look at this month’s New York Times list of business bestsellers. This month: 15 books, a total of 21 authors. 21 authors: 20 men, one woman.
In the world of business books, and as in so many other arenas, there is a serious problem of absent voices.
I speak monthly at our First Friday Book Synopsis, and at the Urban Engagement Book Club for CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries). Our First Friday Book Synopsis is a great mix of men and women, with a little diversity in other ways (not enough). But the Urban Engagement Book Club! – well, I wish you could see the group and listen to their voices. It is always introduced by a wonderfully talented young Hispanic woman, then I speak (I represent the white male category), and then the “follow-up” conversation is frequently led by an African-American man. The different voices, and the quite diverse audience, make for a different — and wonderful — experience.
So, yes, I am acknowledging the obvious – I cannot fully understand the perspectives of people who are different, nor can I present their perspectives adequately. But I can listen to their voices, and I should.
Are you listening to many different voices? Which voices are you not listening it?
And, by the way, you might have to go out of your normal way, out of your beaten path of gatherings and books, to hear their voices. I think it is worth the effort.
Talent is a resource, an asset, not a title or position. Most knowledge transfers in any workplace occur informally during interactions between and among those involved. To varying degree, each person should be both a “teacher” and a “student.” That is why this book can be immensely valuable to those who have supervisory responsibilities as well as to those entrusted to their care.
These are the final words in the blog post The Talent Masters: A book review by Bob Morris, posted on Sunday, January 23. And this blog post is the one that took us to quite a milestone – our 2500th blog post.
If you follow the blogging world at all, you know that there are lots of orphans out there in the blogosphere. So many people started blogs, and then abandoned them after just a handful of posts. Many others set up a web site, put up a “blog” tab, intending to post regularly – and never quite got started.
Not us. We have a blogging team. Other members of our team post articles on this blog occasionally. I average more than one blog post a day.
But Bob Morris – there are days when I think he writes a post an hour. He provides an ongoing, constantly updated business (and life) education on this blog. So it was more than fitting that his post was number 2500.
Of course, this blog is for you, the readers. I hope you find the same help and encouragement and challenge here that I find.
Thanks to our entire blogging team, for making it the success that it is.
And thanks especially to you, our readers.