Tag Archives: Portfolio

Holiday’s Newest Makes Huge Splash in the Charts

The book has only been available for 11 days, but it has catapulted into a # 2 position and two #4 positions in three Amazon.com best-selling categories.  It also debuted today on the Wall Street Journal business best-selling list at #5 (July 29-30, 2017, p. C10).

PerennialSellerBookCoverOf what book do I refer?  It is Ryan Holiday‘s Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts (Portfolio).  This book is already under our consideration, and is a prime candidate for presentation at an upcoming First Friday Book Synopsis.

Holiday, of course, is the author of five previous books, including The Daily Stoic, which we have raved about previously in this blog.

From his own website (https://ryanholiday.net/about),RyanHolidayPicturehere is how Holiday characterizes himself:

“I am Ryan Holiday and I am a writer and media strategist. When I was 19 years old, I dropped out of college to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. I went on to become the director of marketing for American Apparel (you might have seen some of the controversial campaigns I was a part of). My creative agency, Brass Check, has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many prominent bestselling authors, including Neil Strauss, Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss. I am the author of five books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy and The Daily Stoic. The Obstacle Is the Way has been translated into more than twenty languages and has a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, TV personalities, political leaders, and others around the world. Now I live on a ranch outside Austin, Texas where I do my writing and work in between raising cattle, donkeys and goats.

I originally started this blog nearly ten years ago to help me along in my journey of self-education. I wanted to write what I wished other blogs would talk about more often: life, dealing with assholes, how to be self-critical and self-aware, humility, philosophy, reading, learning, research and strategy. Aside from this site, I have written for the New York Observer, Thought Catalog, Entrepreneur, 99U, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Medium, Boing Boing, Forbes, Columbia Journalism Review and multiple other outlets.”

Here is what a recent review of this book in Publisher’s Weekly had to say:

“Following in a long tradition in the self-help genre, Holiday (The Obstacle Is the Way) brings a contemporary sensibility to the subject of making and marketing creative work. In clean, inspiring prose he lays out a process of setting goals, being diligent, making the product sell, and building a career out of what you love. Throughout the book, Holiday presents a playfully varied slate of examples of success: Seneca, Winston Churchill, Iron Maiden, and Kanye West, to name a few. Seeing Holiday’s ideas presented in a logical, step-by-step fashion is tremendously helpful. His injunctions include the following: be clear about what you are doing and what need it meets; think long-term, not short-term; pay attention to detail; be open to criticism; and test ideas. Creating is only the beginning and taking charge of marketing is just as important, he insists. The key here is building a platform for reaching an audience, which can mean anything from performing in small clubs to doing an author tour to compiling an email list….he builds a compelling road map to sustainable creativity.”   (Taken from:  https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-14310-901-3)



One Mission Enters Best-Seller List at # 6 This Week

OneMissionBookCoverOn June 13, 2017, a new book in the Team of Teams series, entitled One Mission:  How Leaders Build a Team of Teams (Portfolio) was released.  An instant hit, it stands today in the top 10 in an Amazon.com sub-category, and stands at # 6 on the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list released today (June 23-24, 2017, p. C 10).

It is almost a certain selection for us at an upcoming First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  As always, we will closely monitor its performance on the major best-selling lists, and announce our decision a full month in advance.

According to Amazon.com, the lead author, Chris Fussell, is “a Partner at the McChrystalChrisFussellPicture Group Leadership Institute and coauthor of the Team of Teams, a New York Times bestseller and the first book in the Team of Teams series. He was commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1997 and spent the next 15 years on U.S. Navy SEAL Teams around the globe. He then served as Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal during McChrystal’s final year commanding a Joint Special Operations Task Force fighting Al Qaeda around the globe.”  The second author, C.W. Goodyear is a speechwriter and Yale graduate, specializing in economics.  The foreward was written by General Stanley McChrystal, who wrote the original Team of Teams book.

Since leaving active duty in 2012, Fussell has also served as a Senior Fellow for National Security at New America, sits on the Board of Directors for the Navy SEAL Foundation, is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and teaches at Yale University’s Jackson Institute.

In Forbes.com, on June 13, 2017, Dan Schawbel, a keynote speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0., interviewed Fussell in a piece entitled How to Make Your Organizational Flatter and More Connected.”   The exact URL is: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2017/06/13/chris-fussell-how-to-make-your-organization-flatter-and-more-interconnected/#61ceddab789e

Dan Schawbel: Why are so many teams stuck in silos and with too much of a hierarchy?

Chris Fussell: Organizational silos — in the way we think of them — were initially formed out of necessity. During and after the Industrial Revolution, grouping specialized teams with similar functions together helped organizations to scale with operational efficiency. Good examples of this include Henry Ford’s Ford Motors and Thomas Edison’s General Electric. Although society today often uses the term “bureaucracy” only in relation to government departments, it also applies to the modern hierarchical corporate structures that evolved from early ideas of silo formation.  We now think of it as a negative term, but it was critical to growth for many generations, and there is a lot of stability that can come from a well-run bureaucracy.

However, modern problem sets have made a strictly-bureaucratic approach an insufficient solution. When an external environment becomes unpredictable (as our world has), teams that were once functionally unrelated must connect across bureaucratic silos.  As I found while leading special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the problem is interconnected, your organization must be, as well. What this means is that bureaucratic hierarchies, which keep teams isolated from one another, are insufficient solutions to modern corporate issues.

Schawbel: How can teams be more agile and flat? Why is that beneficial?

Fussell: Most teams are naturally flat; they have fewer members than a large enterprise, which allows for intimacy and trust to form. This makes collaborative problem solving in individual teams more straightforward.

The challenge arises with replicating this trust and agility at scale between many teams. One of the most effective ways of creating this in our Special Operations Task Force came through the use of an Operations and Intelligence (“O&I”) forum — a regularly scheduled, digitally enabled means by which our top commanders could instantly interact with the most junior person in our organization, and through which any team could interact with any other one in our hierarchy.

I profile the creation and operation of this forum in One Mission, and also profile a civilian organization that has used one to scale agility between teams throughout its organization.

Schawbel: What have you learned from both your military and corporate experience about bringing teams together?

Fussell: I’ve learned that while the benefits of interconnecting teams span both worlds, doing this successfully is rarely a smooth process. Bureaucracies and hierarchies form “strategic echo chambers” to among small teams. Since teams are limited in the number and type of interactions they can have with other corners of the organization, they become arenas where only a certain view of an organization’s external environment is seen or accepted, and the blame for what is going wrong is entirely directed to another corner of the organization, often unfairly.

When these echo chambers are finally opened to the larger organization–civilian or military–it is initially a disruptive experience. In addition, learning to use and scale the practices we detail in One Mission requires patience and an ego-free approach by leaders.  Leaders in an interconnected organization must be comfortable sitting in the middle of a network, not at the top of an org-chart.

Schawbel: Can you give an example of one of your clients that has benefitted from the One Mission principles?

Fussell: One McChrystal Group client that has seen great benefits from this approach is Intuit, Inc. We detail their experiences strategically aligning their teams in One Mission.

Intuit had long been staffed by excellent teams, who were nevertheless pursing their own metrics in isolation across the company’s five main product groups.  They adopted that model because it worked well for the software company for many years. Yet as technology changed and the potential for mutual collaboration between these groups increased (e.g., working together on creating product offerings for smartphones, or sharing data) traditional approaches to aligning teams proved lacking.  The top-down, silo-based approach was too slow for the modern marketplace.

Through defining their organization’s aligning narrative, strengthening it through the operation of what CEO Brad Smith called the “One Intuit Forum”, and carefully linking the objectives of its multiple high-performing teams, the bureaucratic obstacles that once stood between Intuit’s specialized elements were replaced by a common vision of success.

Schawbel: What are your top three pieces of career advice?


1. Take accountability for your actions: Develop and nurture a strong, internal locus of control.  In the military, and in business, the most elite and effective teams I’ve seen or been part of are filled with individuals who take responsibility for their choices.  Life is a series of decisions that you make and actions you take, not a series of things that happen to you.

2. Put others first: The easiest way to make it through difficult times is to help those around you. If conditions are bleak, don’t look inward and feel like a victim; look at those around you and see how you can help them.  A team whose members are constantly putting others ahead of themselves is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Find three mentors: I always work to have a senior mentor in my life that I look up to, a peer who I think is doing things better than me, and someone younger who I think is living life more effectively than I was at that age.  Keep a running list of people in these categories that you can watch and learn from.  I use these people as guideposts in my own life, and it’s a tool that constantly forces me to reassess my own approach to living a life of meaning.


One More Leadership Books Hits the Charts

How many more books will we see on leadership?  Maybe we won’t see any more when we actually see leadership, or perhaps, leadership the way we want it.

So, here is another one.  The Leadership Gap:  What Gets Between YouLollyDaskalpicture and Your Greatness by Lolly Daskal debuted at # 5 on the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list this weekend (June 10-11, 2017, p. C10). 

The book, published by Portfolio, was distributed beginning on May 30. 

Who is Lolly Daskal?  This is her biography, published on Amazon.com:

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world.  Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies.  As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world. Based on a mix of modern philosophy, science, and nearly thirty years coaching top executives, Lolly’s perspective on leadership continues to break new ground and produce exceptional results.  Of her many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc.com, 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next by Inc. magazine, and Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World.  Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post,and Psychology Today, and others.

LeadershipGapCoverWhat is this book about?  Notice that the focus is on leadership types.  Here is a summary published on Amazon.com:

Daskal reveals her proven system, which leaders at any level can apply to dramatically improve their results. It begins with identifying your distinctive leadership archetype and recognizing its shadow:

The Rebel, driven by confidence, becomes the Imposter, plagued by self-doubt.
The Explorer, fueled by intuition, becomes the Exploiter, master of manipulation.
The Truth Teller, who embraces candor, becomes the Deceiver, who creates suspicion.
The Hero, embodying courage, becomes the Bystander, an outright coward.
The Inventor, brimming with integrity, becomes the Destroyer, who is morally corrupt.
The Navigator, trusts and is trusted, becomes the Fixer, endlessly arrogant.
The Knight, for whom loyalty is everything, becomes the Mercenary, who is perpetually self-serving.

Using psychology, philosophy, and her own experience, Daskal offers a breakthrough perspective on leadership. She’ll take you inside some of the most cloistered boardrooms, let you in on deeply personal conversations with industry leaders, and introduce you to luminaries who’ve changed the world. Her insights will help you rethink everything you know to become the leader you truly want to be.”

Whether we present this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas depends upon its sustained performance on the best-seller lists.  Continue to monitor our blog for information about our upcoming selections.


Terrible Trump Book Busts Best-Seller List at # 1


Ivanka Trump‘s new book,  torched its way to the very top of the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list (May 13-14, 2017, p. C12).  It is the first time that I ever remember a book debuting on the list at #1. 

The book is entitled Women Who Work:  Rewriting the Rules for Success (New York:  Portfolio).  It was released on May 2.

As of this writing, it is # 253 on the Amazon.com all-books sold list, and in the top 20 in three sub-categories.  Of interest is that it is also # 9 on the Wall Street Journal non-fiction best-seller list.

The book is receiving scathing critical reviews.  You can read a summary of these from the Huffington Post, written by Katherine Brooks, whose by-line reads, “It’s been described as “witless,” “insufferable,” “vapid,” and “very vapid.””  

Click here to read the entire article referred to above.

Even though this is a best-seller, you can be assured that we will not present it at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  My prediction is that it will be off  the list, from # 1 to beyond # 10, within two weeks.



Our Upcoming Book Answers Essential Business Questions

Randy Mayeux and I are really excited about our upcoming book, entitled Answers to 100 Best Business Questions from 100 Best-Selling Business Books.

The book attempts to answer questions that our clients have in areas such as customer service, management, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and strategy.   The answers come from books that we have presented over the years at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Each question and answer fits on exactly one page.

The idea for the book came from a presentation we heard last week at Success North Dallas with Jill Schiefelbein, who spoke on business video, podcasting, and livestreaming. She is called the DYNAMIC COMMUNICATOR.  Her major take-away is that businesses need to answer the questions that their customers ask.  I am pictured with her below.

Here is a sample page from the book to whet your appetite:

What do customers really want salespeople to know?

Ram Charan.  (2007).  What the customer wants you to know:  How everybody needs to think differently about sales.  New York:  Portfolio.

The landscape for selling has changed in significant ways in the past twenty years.  Customers’ quest for personal service and high quality, now rival the best possible price that they want to pay.  In this best-seller, Ram Charan explains what this revolution in customer demands means for salespeople’s behavior.


What exactly has changed?  Years ago, supplies were tight, and customers had to book orders months in advance, with little room to negotiate price.  Salespeople transitioned from order-takers to ambassadors, identifying needs and linking them to products and services, building relationships with their customers.  Today, there is a glut of suppliers and supplies, with access from the Internet to all types of locations.  The customers are under pressure to deliver value to their clients. “But the pressure on customers to perform is actually a huge opportunity for those suppliers who can help them….So while they want low prices, they also want their clients to love their products and services.  They want to win against their competitors and stay ahead of them…They want suppliers who can help them accomplish those things by acting as partners, not one-time transactors” (pp. 4-5)


So, what does Charan say to do? Make the focus on the prosperity of your customers.  Become your customer’s trusted partner, requiring you to understand: (1) the customer’s set of opportunities and the anatomy of competitive dynamics, (2) the customer’s customers and the customer’s competitors, (3) how decisions are made in the customer’s organization, (4) the customer’s company culture and its dominant psychology and values, and (5) the customer’s goals and priorities, both short-term and long-term, clearly and specifically (p. 40).


In short, Charan tells you to measure your success by how well your customers are doing with your help.  Do not focus on selling a product or service; focus on how you can help the customer succeed in all ways that are important to that customer.


Tidbits from Sinek’s Book for Friday FFBS Presentation

I am really excited about the presentation I will give this week at the First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club in Dallas.  If you have not yet registered, just go to:  15minutebusinessbooks.com.

The book is Together is Better, authored by Simon Sinek (Portfolio, 2016).  It is the secondSimonSinekPicture book we have presented from Sinek, and this one was on every business best-selling list that we could find.

Here are some advance tidbits from the presentation that I will make.

Most of us live our lives by accident – we live as it happens.  Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose.

 A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.  

Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love.  

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.  

A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him become stars.

If you have to miss it, you can always purchase the presentation and handout on Together is Better Cover15minutebusinessbooks.com.  But, you don’t get the networking, and you don’t get an omelette.

This is an inspirational book, and I wish I had read it before Christmas, as it would have been a great stocking-stuffer for some of my professional contacts.