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Guiding Paradigm

My work has been influenced by synthesizing and distilling the ideas of a few well known thought leaders, namely: Nassim Nicholas Taleb ● Seth Godin ● Maragret Wheatley ● Jim Collins ● Carol Pearson ● Byron Katie ● David Whyte ● Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander.

In particular these 7 (+1) books are key works that have shaped my business paradigm:

Leadership and the New Science

Leadership and the New Science

Amazon describes this book as follows:

Leadership and the New Science launched a revolution by demonstrating that ideas drawn from quantum physics, chaos theory, and molecular biology could improve organizational performance. Margaret Wheatley called for free-flowing information, individual empowerment, relationship networks, and organizational change that evolves organically — ideas that have become commonplace.

The Hero & The Outlaw

The Hero & The Outlaw

Amazon describes this book as follows:

 

A brand’s meaning―how it resonates in the public heart and mind―is a company’s most valuable competitive advantage. Yet, few companies really know how brand meaning works, how to manage it, and how to use brand meaning strategically. Written by best-selling author Carol S. Pearson (The Hero Within) and branding guru Margaret Mark, this groundbreaking book provides the illusive and compelling answer. Using studies drawn from the experiences of Nike, Marlboro, Ivory and other powerhouse brands, the authors show that the most successful brands are those that most effectively correspond to fundamental patterns in the unconscious mind known as archetypes.

Antifragile

Antifragile

Amazon describes this book as follows:

 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world. Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

All Marketers are Liars

All Marketers are Liars

Amazon describes this book as follows:

 

All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better—and look cooler—than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true. As Seth Godin showed in this controversial book, great marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story—a story we want to believe, whether it’s factual or not. In a world where most people have an infinite number of choices and no time to make them, every organization is a marketer, and all marketing is about telling stories. Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, or Fiji water, or the iPod. But beware: If your stories are inauthentic, you cross the line from fib to fraud. Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. That’s a lesson learned the hard way by telemarketers, cigarette companies, and sleazy politicians. But for the rest of us, it’s time to embrace the power of the story. As Godin writes, “Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea. Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it.

Good to Great

Good to Great

Amazon describes this book as follows:

 

The Challenge: Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? The Study: For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great? The Standards: Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck. The Comparisons: The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good? Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t. The Findings: The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, “fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.” Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

Art of Possibility

Art of Possibility

Amazon describes this book as follows:

Presenting twelve breakthrough practices for bringing creativity into all human endeavors, The Art of Possibility is the dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership. The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander’s experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander’s genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. The authors’ harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world

Loving what is

Loving what is

Amazon describes this book as follows:

Out of nowhere, like a breeze in a marketplace crowded with advice, comes Byron Katie and “The Work.” In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her, and now in Loving What Is you can discover the same freedom through The Work. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light. As Katie says, “It’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about the problem.” Contrary to popular belief, trying to let go of a painful thought never works; instead, once we have done The Work, the thought lets go of us. At that point, we can truly love what is, just as it is. Loving What Is will show you step-by-step, through clear and vivid examples, exactly how to use this revolutionary process for yourself. You’ll see people do The Work with Katie on a broad range of human problems, from a wife ready to leave her husband because he wants more sex, to a Manhattan worker paralyzed by fear of terrorism, to a woman suffering over a death in her family. Many people have discovered The Work’s power to solve problems; in addition, they say that through The Work they experience a sense of lasting peace and find the clarity and energy to act, even in situations that had previously seemed impossible. If you continue to do The Work, you may discover, as many people have, that the questioning flows into every aspect of your life, effortlessly undoing the stressful thoughts that keep you from experiencing peace. Loving What Is offers everything you need to learn and live this remarkable process, and to find happiness as what Katie calls “a lover of reality.”

The Heart Aroused

The Heart Aroused

Amazon describes this book as follows:

 

In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lostDANTE Like Dante, many of today’s corporate workers find themselves lost in the day-to-day duties of their jobs. Our lives seem shaken by the events of September 11 and the seemingly endless examples of corporate scandal, it’s become more difficult than ever to find meaning in the workplace. Has your work lost its meaning? Are you afraid of pursuing your dreams for fear of failing or–worse–getting fired? Do you yearn to find creativity, and even joy, in your job? In The Heart Aroused, David Whyte brings his unique perspective as poet and consultant to the workplace, showing readers how fulfilling work can be when they face their fears and follow their dreams. Going beneath the surface concerns about products and profits, organization and order, Whyte addresses the needs of the heart and soul, and the fears and desires that many workers keep hidden. Through the poetry of both classic and modern masters, Whyte helps readers find both professional and personal fulfillment. In Beowulf, Whyte uncovers the key to confronting office conflicts. Like the poem’s courageous hero, readers will travel to the belly of the beast of a problem and emerge triumphantly with a solution. The poems of Pablo Neruda help on find inner silence even in the busiest, most confining office space. With T.S. Eliot as a guide, Whyte teaches readers to appreciate the need to open themselves up to possible failure–and as a result, probable success. At a time when corporations are calling on employees for more creativity, dedication, and adaptability, and workers are trying desperately to balance home and work, this revised edition of The Heart Aroused is the essential guide to reinvigorating the soul.

Notable Mentions …

Permission Marketing

Permission Marketing

From Amazon:

The man Business Week calls “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” explains “Permission Marketing”—the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it. Whether it is the TV commercial that breaks into our favorite program, or the telemarketing phone call that disrupts a family dinner, traditional advertising is based on the hope of snatching our attention away from whatever we are doing. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing, and, as companies are discovering, it no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity—time—Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily. Now this Internet pioneer introduces a fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising products and services. By reaching out only to those individuals who have signaled an interest in learning more about a product, Permission Marketing enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness — and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.

Built to Last

Built to Last

Amazon describes this book as follows:

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?” Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the 21st century and beyond.
Purple Cow

Purple Cow

From Amazon:

You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.  What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don’t? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last? Face it, the checklist of tired ‘P’s marketers have used for decades to get their product noticed -Pricing, Promotion, Publicity, to name a few-aren’t working anymore. There’s an exceptionally important ‘P’ that has to be added to the list. It’s Purple Cow. Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff-a lot of brown cows-but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. And it’s not a marketing function that you can slap on to your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It’s built right in, or it’s not there. Period. In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for marketers who want to help create products that are worth marketing in the first place.

Tribes

Tribes

From Amazon:

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born—groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming. And so the key question: Who is going to lead us? The Web can do amazing things, but it can’t provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals—people just like you who have passion about something. The explosion in tribes means that anyone who wants to make a difference now has the tools at her fingertips. If you think leadership is for other people, think again—leaders come in surprising packages. Consider Joel Spolsky and his international tribe of scary-smart software engineers. Or Gary Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle. All they have in common is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead. If you ignore this opportunity, you risk turning into a “sheepwalker”—someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you (or your organization) any good. Sheepwalkers don’t do very well these days. Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. . . . It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.

The Black Swan

The Black Swan

From Amazon:

A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Fooled by Randomness

Fooled by Randomness

From Amazon:

Fooled by Randomness is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are The Black Swan, Antifragile, and The Bed of Procrustes. “[Taleb is] Wall Street’s principal dissident. . . . [Fooled By Randomness] is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther’s ninety-nine theses were to the Catholic Church.” –Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker Finally in paperback, the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about the markets and the world.This book is about luck: more precisely how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences. Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill–the world of business–Fooled by Randomness is an irreverent, iconoclastic, eye-opening, and endlessly entertaining exploration of one of the least understood forces in all of our lives.