Friday Book Review! Grit by Angela Duckworth

gritThe Power of Passion & Perseverance

Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, won a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, an award so prestigious that it is also known as the “genius grant.” As Duckworth explains in the foreword to her latest book, Grit, the award of the grant reminded her that throughout her childhood, her scientist father would despair that she was no “genius” — in other words, that she just wasn’t smart enough or didn’t have a great-enough talent in anything.

And he was right. As Duckworth explains in her book, genius or talent didn’t win her the coveted MacArthur Fellowship: It was grit. According to Duckworth, grit is the combination of unbridled passion and unrelenting perseverance — a combination, she writes, that will overcome innate talent or hard work or high IQ or any of the other assumed key success factors for individuals. Duckworth first demonstrated the power of grit at West Point, where she sought to answer a question that had eluded a number of psychologists for decades: Why did so many new cadets drop out in the first training program of their West Point careers? Only a tiny portion of candidates make it through the admission gauntlet into West Point — and only if they receive a high-enough Whole Candidate Score, which carefully measures the likelihood that candidates have the mental and physical capabilities to make it at West Point. Thus, most should be in a position to survive the brutal seven-week training course known as “Beast Barracks.” Yet, many didn’t — and surprisingly their scores on the Whole Candidate Score bore no correlation to whether or not they dropped out.

In July 2004, Duckworth had new cadets take her Grit Scale, which was…(click here to continue reading)

Don’t miss our next webinar! 10/25 with Steve Cockram

soundview webinar speakerHow to Discover Your Leadership Voice

Date: Tuesday, October 25
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Steve Cockram

Click here to register!

In order to lead others effectively, we need a true understanding of ourselves, our natural tendencies and patterns of behavior. Are you focused on relationships, values, and people? Or are you oriented more toward tradition, money, and resources? Do you know how others hear your voice? Do you appreciate the contributions of others on your team?

In this Soundview Live webinar, How to Discover Your Leadership Voice, Steve Cockram will help you identify your natural leadership style, and give you a framework for leveraging your strengths.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to find your foundational leadership voice
  • How to hear and value the voices of others
  • How to know yourself before leading others
  • How to connect and communicate well with team, family and friends

Friday Book Review! The Network Imperative by Jerry Wind, Megan Beck, Barry Libert

The Network Imperative

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Not too many years ago, the idea of a hotel chain that didn’t own a single building or an international taxi service that didn’t own any cars might have seemed ludicrous. Today, of course, we know there are international companies worth billions of dollars in market value whose business model depends on customers connecting with independent suppliers of the service — not on the ownership of physical assets. In The Network Imperative, authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Jerry Wind describe the scalable, networking-based business model that is revolutionizing industries. Ebay, Uber, TripAdvisor and even Visa are examples of companies built on a network business model. One could argue that network firms are specific to certain industries. The authors disagree. “Be aware,” they write. “Investor capital, customer revenue and affinity, top talent and market buzz are shifting away from established firms toward network organizations.” According to their research, “digital networks are entering almost every industry, even some of the most mundane.”

High Performance

A quick comparison by the authors of market values between traditional and what they call “network firms” is revealing. For example, Hertz boasts a $7 billion market capitalization; Uber’s valuation is listed at more than $70 billion. Other business-performance measures also highlight the value of network firms. For example…(click here to read the full review)

FREE webinar with Ken Blanchard – Tuesday, 10/18!

Image result for ken blanchard

Speaker, Leadership/Business Guru, and Author of over 50 books, including The One Minute Manager

Learn How to Lead at a Higher Level
with Ken Blanchard

Effective leadership is needed at work, home, and in the community. Now is the time to discover the personal “leadership point of view” all great leaders possess- and apply it throughout your entire life.

Click here to register for FREE

In this FREE Soundview Live webinar, How to Lead at a Higher Level, Ken Blanchard brings together everything he’s learned about world-class leadership. This webinar extends Blanchard’s breakthrough work on delivering legendary customer service, creating “raving fans,” and building “Partnerships for Performance” that empower everyone who works for and with you.

You will learn:

  • How to create targets and visions based on the “triple bottom line”
  • Coaching techniques for creating higher-level leaders
  • How to create a higher-level culture throughout your organization

How to Develop the Ideal Team

Image result for teamwork

What Ideal Team Players Are Made of

Ideal team players possess adequate measures of humility, hunger and people smarts, according to Patrick Lencioni in The Ideal Team Player. They have little ego when it comes to needing attention or credit for their contributions, and they are comfortable sharing their accolades or even occasionally missing out on them. Ideal team players work with a sense of energy, passion and personal responsibility, taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team. Finally, they say and do the right things to help teammates feel appreciated, understood and included, even when difficult situations arise that require tough love. Most of us can recall having managed or worked with ideal team players in our careers, as they are quite appealing and memorable. How exactly should a leader go about evaluating people for humility, hunger and smarts? There is no easy, quantitative diagnostic, but there are reliable, qualitative approaches that can work very well. There are a number of questions managers can ask themselves about a given employee to determine whether he or she is humble, hungry or smart.

Humble. Does he genuinely compliment or praise teammates without hesitation? Does she easily admit when she makes a mistake? Is he willing to take on lower-level work for the good of the team? Does she gladly share credit for team accomplishments? Does he readily acknowledge his weaknesses? Does she offer and receive apologies graciously?

Hungry. Does he do more than what is required in his own job? Does she have passion for the “mission” of the team? Does he feel a sense of personal responsibility for the overall success of the team? Is she willing to contribute to and think about work outside of office hours? Is he willing and eager to take on tedious and challenging tasks whenever necessary? Does she look for opportunities to contribute outside of her area of responsibility?

Smart. Does he seem to know what teammates are feeling during meetings and interactions? Does she show empathy to others on the team? Does he demonstrate an interest in the lives of teammates? Is she an attentive listener? Is he aware of how his words and actions impact others on the team? Is she good at adjusting her behavior and style to fit the nature of a conversation or relationship? Teamwork is not a virtue but rather a choice. For those organizations that are sincere about humility, hunger and smarts, here are a few simple ideas for embedding those virtues into your culture.

• Be explicit and bold. Leaders who believe teamwork is important and expect their people to be humble, hungry and smart should come right out and say so. They should tell everyone. Employees. Vendors. Partners. Customers. It’s not marketing but rather expectation-setting.

• Catch and revere. Leaders should be constantly on the lookout for any displays of the virtues. And when they see those displays, they should hold them up as examples for everyone to see. Great team leaders will acknowledge an act of humility, hunger or people smarts not because they want to be seen as sophisticated or clever managers but because they want everyone to know exactly what kinds of behavior they expect and appreciate.

• Detect and address. Whenever you see a behavior that violates one of the values, take the time to let the violator know that his behavior is out of line. And don’t just do it in egregious situations. Often, the smaller offenses are the ones that are harder for employees to see and the ones they learn from the most. Of course, doing this well requires tact and good judgment. The key is that leaders and, eventually, teammates don’t squander opportunities for constructive learning.

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Friday Book Review! Sprint By Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz

Image result for sprint by jake knappIn a new book, Sprint, Google veteran Jake Knapp and his Google Ventures co-authors John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz insist that it is possible to focus on a problem, consider different solutions, choose one, prototype the solution and test it on customers in just five days.

The “sprint” process, as it is called, has been applied hundreds of times for companies in which Google’s venture-capital arm has invested. Sprint offers a detailed step-by-step guide to successful sprints.

Monday, When It All Begins

On Monday, for example, the sprint team — a small group with a multifunctional background — will map out the problem and choose a target on which to focus. The first step is to set the long-term goal. This is followed by listing “sprint questions” that question assumptions and lay out obstacles in the form of questions.

The next step is mapping. The key to successful mapping, according to the authors, is to keep it simple. The map, created on a white board, is customer-centric: the key customers are listed along the left margin, with the rest of the space dedicated to a drawing that recreates the customer experience from beginning to end (arrows are valuable here). The next step, “ask the experts,” consists of interviews with people who have the knowledge to provide ideas to the problems first laid out in the sprint questions and highlighted by the map.

Sprint is filled with snappy little brainstorming techniques, and one of them appears in the “ask the experts” portion of the process: the HMW note. The members of the sprint team use post-it notes to ask “How Might We” questions of the expert that address the unknowns or concerns that have arisen. Expect the map to be redrawn as the experts reveal unexpected problems or offer unexpected solutions.

Monday ends with “choosing the target.” The map has been redrawn (and is by now plastered with HMW sticky notes), and now the team chooses one particular aspect of the customer experience on which to focus.

The authors break down the rest of the days in the same clear, step-by-step manner. They give the order in which the major tasks for each day must be accomplished, offer tools and methodologies to help accomplish the tasks, and offer real examples throughout from their clients.

Join us for our next webinar! Presenting Value to Executives with Michael J. Nick

Presenting Value to Executives

Date: Friday, October 14
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Michael J. Nick

Click here to register!

Presenting your value to the executive committee can occur several times throughout your sales process. There is no doubt you must be prepared for each of these presentations. It can be very stressful and hectic. The goal of this program is to help you organize and prepare for presenting your value in its very best light.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Presenting Value to Executives, Michael breaks the presentation into several components, beginning with a foundation discussion, followed by creating value for your audience, and finally how to put it all together to present your value to an executive committee. Michael shares stories and examples from his work with HP, Rockwell Automation, NEC, Microsoft Great Plains, and Avery Denison.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to identify and communicate with key decision makers (especially millennials)
  • How to understand the buyer’s process from the inside out
  • How to manage your digital presence to maximize interest in your product
  • How to focus your sales effort on the deals you can win

How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

shortcutsbookshaneHow do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? What do high-growth businesses, world-class heart surgeons and underdog marketers do in common to beat the norm?

In Smartcuts, entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow reveals that, one way or another, they do it like computer hackers. They employ what psychologists call “lateral thinking” to rethink the convention and break “rules” that aren’t rules. Snow shatters common wisdom about success, revealing how conventions like “paying dues” prevent progress, why kids shouldn’t learn times tables, and how, paradoxically, it’s easier to build a huge business than a small one. From SpaceX to the Cuban Revolution, from Ferrari to Skrillex, Smartcuts is a narrative adventure that busts old myths about success and shows how innovators and icons do the incredible by working smarter — and how perhaps the rest of us can, too.

• The importance of lateral thinking for disruptive innovation.
• How to catch waves and capitalize on momentum in business.
• How to find the right mentors and become a superconnector.
• Why it’s easier to gain support for big causes than for incremental progress.

Friday Book Review! Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

Image result for smarter faster betterNew York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, overwhelmed by deadlines and commitments, sought advice from a friend of a friend: Atul Gawande, best-selling author, surgeon, Harvard professor, advisor to the World Health Organization and entrepreneur. Duhigg wanted to know how he could be as productive as Gawande.

Duhigg defines productivity as “attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort … It’s about getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way.” Gawande replied that he was “running flat out with my various commitments,” confirming to Duhigg that even the most productive people in the world became overbooked. He later discovered, however, that Gawande did not have time for him just then because he was going to a rock concert with his children followed by a mini-vacation with his wife. “There were people out there who knew how to be more productive,” Duhigg writes. “I just had to convince them to share their secrets with me.”

The result of this quest is Duhigg’s newest book, Smarter Faster Better. In this fascinating book, Duhigg uses wide-ranging illustrative narratives backed by scientific studies. The Story of Two Planes In his chapter on how to focus better, for example, Duhigg tells the stories of two flight emergencies. In the first case, the pilots became overwhelmed by sudden alarms (after hours of autopilot flying), and instead of seeing the big picture and making the simple correction required (slightly lowering the nose of the plane), they focused intently on the wrong indicators in front of them. The nose of the plane kept pointing further upwards until the plane stalled and fell in the ocean, killing all 229 aboard.

The pilots, explain Duhigg, had fallen victim to “cognitive tunneling,” which occurs when a suddenly overwhelmed brain compensates by focusing exclusively on whatever stimuli is in front of it, in this case irrelevant gauges and printouts. In the second narrative of the chapter, an engine explodes, severely damaging one of the wings. The damage was so extensive that the pilot could have been easily overwhelmed by all that was going wrong. Yet, by imagining that he was flying a simple Cessna instead of a giant, highly complex Airbus 340, the pilot focused on what he had to do to turn the plane around and land it safely. It was the most damaged Airbus 340 ever to land safely. The key was the “mental model” that the pilot had created in his head by telling himself a story: that he was landing a Cessna. To continue reading, click here.

Move Beyond the Competition

MatterCompanies and people that matter have successfully become the obvious choice in the hearts and minds of their customers, their employees and their communities. They elevate themselves by consistently finding ways to solve the most pressing needs their markets face. The result? They create more value year after year and build a sustainable, differentiated organization. In Matter, Peter Sheahan and Julie Williamson show you how to identify the place where you can create the most value — your edge of disruption — at the intersection of old and new, where your existing profits, reach and reputation enable you to create the markets of the future.

This is the place where the most important problems are solved and where the fewest people can solve them. Your edge of disruption is where your opportunity to matter is found. Matter uses extensive case studies of real companies that have successfully become the obvious choice in their markets. Through their journeys, you will find the inspiration and courage to lean in to complexity and solve the higher value problems that matter most. Don’t just read this book — use it to identify and act on opportunities to create the most value and accelerate your own journey to becoming a person and a company that matters.


• What it means to be a company that matters.
• The three-step process for becoming a company that matters.
• How to do the hard work of reinventing yourself, rather than working hard at what you’ve always done.
• How to make thought leadership a way of life