Book Review: The Road to Reinvention

by Josh Linkner

by Josh Linkner

The most successful companies, brands, and individuals constantly are reinventing as a part of their business strategies. Organizations and people fail when they become stagnant in their prior success and do not evolve. In The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner offers managers the tools to reinvent your business or yourself continually that will become a competitive advantage in challenging times. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Study any supremely successful organization or individual, from Nike to 3M or from Madonna to Tom Hanks, and you’ll encounter a consistent theme: an ethos of reinvention whose principles embody the disruptive mindset,” writes Linkner. He identifies eight principles of the reinvention ethos for creating deliberate, productive disruption. The first principle is letting go of the past and explains that if you become stale in your past success this will suppress your imagination, which is a recipe for disaster. The other seven principles are encourage courage, embrace failure, do the opposite, imagine the possibilities, put yourself out of business, reject limits, and aim beyond. If you practice these principles, you will develop a more innovative way of thinking which is necessary to lead change.

Beyond solid methods and systematic techniques, you will learn guiding principles for rejecting the status quo and repeatedly reinventing your organization and career for continued success. In addition, there are inspiring examples of reinvention by people who soared over their competition. With The Road to Reinvention, executives can secure a strong future for both your company and your career.

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy

The Markets, Power And Politics Of World Trade
International trade can be a difficult topic to discuss in the abstract, but when it is focused on a single product that makes its way around the world over the course of its usefulness, the unwieldy issue of globalization is made vividly clear. In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, business professor Pietra Rivoli explores the politics and the human element behind the globalization debate by tracking the life story of her $6 T-shirt.

Starting in a West Texas cotton field, her T-shirt is brought to life in a Chinese factory; negotiated in Washington, D.C.; sold in a Walgreen’s drugstore in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and eventually makes its way to a used clothing market in Africa. Through the story of her T-shirt, Rivoli shows how the advocates and critics of globalization often oversimplify the issues behind international trade.

People, Politics and Markets
When Rivoli watched a small demonstration against globalization at Georgetown University in 1999, she heard a woman rant into the microphone about the horrific conditions in which a young girl in India is forced to make T-shirts for American consumers. Over the next several years, Rivoli traveled thousands of miles and across three continents to investigate the truth behind the allegations made by the young activist. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy describes the people, politics and markets that created her own cotton T-shirt, and reveals the complex story of globalization in the process. Rivoli explains that she wrote her book not to convey morals but to discover them, and simply see where the story of her T-shirt leads.

Rivoli writes, “While my T-shirt’s life story is certainly influenced by competitive economic markets, the key events in the T-shirt’s life are less about competitive markets than they are about politics, history and creative maneuvers to avoid markets.” She explains that the “winners” at various stages of her T-shirt’s life are “adept not so much at competing in markets but at avoiding them,” and the effects of these moves to avoid markets can have more damaging effects on the poor than market competition.

The story of Rivoli’s T-shirt, she writes, reveals “a story of the wealth-enhancing possibilities of globalization in some settings but a ‘can’t win’ trap in others, a trap where power imbalances and poorly functioning politics and markets seem to doom the economic future.”

Florida, China and Texas
After Rivoli bought her T-shirt in Florida and returned to Washington, D.C., she soon followed its tag to the Sherry Manufacturing Co. in Miami, one of the largest screen printers of T-shirts in the United States. There she discovered that her shirt was one of about 25 million cotton T-shirts allowed into the United States from China under the U.S. apparel import quota system in 1998. Next, she learned that the cotton used to make the shirt had been imported to Shanghai from Smyer, Texas.

While exploring how America has dominated the global cotton industry for 200 years, Rivoli learned about the subsidies paid to U.S. cotton farmers and, she writes, the “astounding entrepreneurial creativity of the American growers.” She explains, “American cotton growers have adapted their production methods, their marketing, their technology, and their organizational forms to respond to shifts in supply and demand in the global marketplace.” Rivoli adds that the poorest countries in the world are decades away from attaining the levels of efficiency seen in all the elements of the U.S. farm system.

The path followed by the cotton in her T-shirt next took her across the United States to a ship which departed from Long Beach, Calif., and arrived in Shanghai. After it was spun into yarn, knitted into cloth, cut into pieces and sewn into a T-shirt, a “Made in China” label was tacked to the collar before it returned to America.

The final leg of her T-shirt’s journey took it to a Salvation Army bin in Bethesda, Md., and on to a village in SubSaharan Africa where it entered the used-clothing trade, and was bought and sold by a small entrepreneur. It became mitumba — clothing thrown away by Americans and Europeans, and worn by almost all the men and boys in that part of Tanzania. At the end of its journey, the T-shirt showed Rivoli another side of global trade where small used-clothing dealers replace corporations as the focus of global trade and economic democracy.

Why We Like This Book
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
presents a story of globalization that not only provides insight into a single product on its global journey through many economies, but it also brings to light the people who make a living from that journey. By telling the human tales beneath the economics and politics of globalization, Rivoli offers a timely, compelling and relevant story.

Purpose as the New Driver of the Economy

In my blog post on October 20th, I looked at a trend we’re seeing in business and business books focusing on purpose as the new driver of businesses and employees.

One book I featured was The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst. Aaron has experienced this trend first-hand as he developed into a purpose-driven entrepreneur, eventually launching Taproot, which creates a pathway for millions of professionals and Fortune 500 companies to volunteer for nonprofits.

Aaron introduced three types of purpose:
• Personal Purpose – we find purpose when we do things we love, attempt new challenges, and express our voice to the world.
• Social Purpose – relationships matter to humans. They reinforce our sense of value, require us to engage, and ultimately help us grow.
• Societal Purpose – purpose comes when we do something we believe matters – to others, to society and to ourselves.

If you long for purpose in your work and life, or if you want to engage your company in purpose-driven endeavors, then join us on September 30th as we talk with Aaron Hurst about purpose at our Soundview Live webinar The Purpose Economy.

New Summaries to Be Successful in Any Role

We have to be responsible for our own learning and be able to use and apply this newly found knowledge as a competitive advantage. Whether it’s change, feedback, or an innovative mindset, we need to be able to have a process or framework to overcome these everyday challenges to drive success and business. Soundview has three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries that help you effectively learn to be successful in any role.

by Josh Linkner

by Josh Linkner

The Road to Reinvention by Josh Linkner

The most successful companies, brands, and individuals constantly are reinventing as a part of their business strategies. Change is inevitable, but it’s up to you to either ignore it or use it to your advantage. In The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner identifies six elements in any business that are ready for reinvention and shares examples, methods, and step-by-step techniques for creating deliberate, productive disruption.



by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

When we are constantly receiving feedback, it’s easy to dismiss it. However, feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development. Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen explain why getting feedback is so crucial yet challenging in Thanks for the Feedback. The authors offer a powerful framework for interpreting comments, evaluations, and unsolicited advice in ways that enable effective learning.


by G. Shawn Hunter

by G. Shawn Hunter

Out Think by G. Shawn Hunter

Creativity and innovation are important for competitive advantage in business. In each chapter of Out Think, a key component is presented and techniques are described to show how the idea can be implemented to ultimately drive the change that leaders want in their organizations. G. Shawn Hunter encourages readers to develop innovative practices that make a difference.

How Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performance


Emotional and spiritual uplift, write authors Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris in Uplifting Leadership, is at the heart of effective leadership. “It raises people’s hopes, stirs up their passions, and stimulates their intellect and imagination,” they write. But there’s also a social and community component to uplifting people – helping people to rise above difficult circumstances, to raise their prospects, the authors write. And combining all this emotional, spiritual and social power, uplifting leaders can help people improve their performance and results, inspiring them to do better than ever before and outperform their opponents.

Both Soft and Hard

According to the authors, the process of uplifting leadership involves six interrelated factors. “Each of these factors,” the authors explain, “also exhibits some inner tensions between what people conventionally consider to be “soft” and “hard” parts of leadership and management.”

Dreaming with Determination. The uplifting journey begins by defining a dream, but that depends on determination to overcome the inevitable setbacks.

Creativity and Counterflow. Uplifting leadership inspires creativity that often goes against the mainstream.

Collaboration with Competition. Part of the counterintuitive approach of uplifting leadership is the willingness to collaborate with actual and potential competitors.

Pushing and Pulling. Team members are going to push each to accomplish more, to meet above-normal expectations. But they will also support each other, helping those who have fallen down or behind, as they are all united by a common purpose.

Measuring with Meaning. As the authors write, “Uplifting leadership makes extensive use of data to manage and monitor progress but also uses data intelligently in ways that fit the values of the organization – and that are meaningful to and genuinely owned by the people who work there.”

Sustainable Success. Uplifting leaders are focused on success, but at the same time they want that success to be sustainable.

The authors are academics and consultants in the field of education policy, and several examples involve the amazing turnaround of school districts and education systems in the U.S., U.K. and Finland. For example, the school district of Hackney, a northeast London borough and one of the most disadvantaged communities in England, makes a compelling case for the power of collaboration with competitors. Taken over by a nonprofit company, the district is divided into the U.K. equivalent of charter schools. The charter schools are not independent islands, however, but work closely together so that students in all schools succeed. The authors detail how the experience of one successful principal taking over a second school that was failing evolved into a system of school-to-school networks called federations.

The authors move beyond education for most of the detailed case studies that pack their chapters. One example is of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of the most successful craft breweries in the U.S. Dogfish exemplifies counterintuitive creativity through its decision to put ingredients in its ales that, write the authors, “were inconceivable in mainstream beers.” The brewery also collaborated with one of its major competitors to create an alternative beer. Finally, Dogfish illustrates the foresight of sustainable success, having refused venture capital to avoid too much debt.

The authors present an inspiring picture of leadership. It all starts with a dream, but success is built on hard work, determination and the courage to do the unexpected.

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