How Companies Must Adapt to Survive


In A World Gone Social, social media entrepreneurs Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt lay out the growing impact of social media on our lives and our businesses.

They begin by exploring how social media has shifted the power away from corporations and into the hands of their customers and their frontline employees. The power that social media has given customers is fast becoming legendary, as stories spread of how one unhappy customer is able to bring a corporation to its knees — well, at least send it scurrying for cover — by creating a maelstrom of discontent and bad publicity.

For example, the ill-advised Bank of America fees for services typically offered for free — such as having a debit card — created a social media-based firestorm of protest from customers, causing the financial services giant to reverse its position. The authors note that BoA’s initial reluctance to respond made the situation much worse than it had to be. The authors describe, in contrast, the response of Verizon, which made a similar ill-advised decision to put in a small fee on a traditionally free service. Unlike BoA, however, Verizon retreated as soon as resistance began to build.

Empowered Employees

Social media has also empowered employees. The authors tell the story of a minimum-wage Target worker who resisted a call to work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Her respectful open letter on social media to Target’s CEO went viral, and Target was put on the defensive. The retail giant crafted a careful response, noting that rather than resistance to the holiday work, there were more volunteers than shifts open for those who wanted to work on Thanksgiving. However, the response also stated that there was no corporate mandate to work on Thanksgiving, which clearly left open the opportunity for local Target managers to make Thanksgiving mandatory.

Another damaging threat comes from insulting or insensitive comments on social media from high-ranking employees, leading to what the authors call a “virtual lynch mob.” In one case described by the authors, one manager tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!” before boarding a plane to Africa. When the manager got off the plane, she learned that she had been fired — and that her dismissal had been publicly announced.

The transparency of social media puts the spotlight on corporations in ways that had never been possible, and corporations must respond accordingly, the authors write. For example, employee engagement is more vital than ever. An unhappy workforce has myriad options for venting their disapproval. (In one example, employees described in bloody detail — through the company’s own communications channel — the massive layoffs sweeping through the company and the impact on those who were being laid off. The marketing director finally became aware of the posts and eliminated them from the platforms, but the damage had been done.)

Going Flat

Social media presents challenges for corporations, but it also presents new opportunities, the authors write — although perhaps not necessarily or exclusively for corporations. In fact, one of the first rules of the social media age, according to the authors, is “the death of large.” Large, rigid corporations don’t have the agility to compete in today’s dynamic marketplaces.

Companies must go flat, the authors write. It’s time to lose the layers of middle managers. Communication must be direct, open and easy — which means it’s time to lose the old useless meetings that, according to the authors, “serve only the grandstanders and bureaucrats.” Going flat also means greater accountability from everyone. A case study of America’s largest tomato processing company shows that going flat is possible in even the most traditional industries far removed from the “knowledge” economy.

The effectiveness of crowdsourcing for solutions, the top priority that must be given to the customer experience and the requirement for leaders to be “social” — to know how to be a true and engaging presence on social media (tweets “from” the CEO actually created by PR employees don’t count) — are some of the other topics covered in this wake-up call to companies and leaders who are slow to embrace social.

Three New Summaries to Lead Better

Leaders help themselves and their teams to do the right things. However, sometimes leaders need to re-think their vision or processes to improve their organizations. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go as a team or an organization to be successful. Learn how to be a better leader by developing a culture of excellence within your organization, asking the right questions, and becoming a strategic thinker to “win” with these three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries.


by Steven Shallenberger

Becoming Your Best by Steven Shallenberger. In Becoming Your Best, Steven Shallenberger, states that as a leader you can succeed in business and live a happy life at the same time. Shallenberger reveals the 12 principles for developing a culture of excellence within your organization. These principles will help you reach your highest potential and drive the kind of innovation that turns good companies into industry leaders, all while living a well-balanced personal life.




by John C. Maxwell

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell. To learn and grow into a successful leader, you need to yourself and your teams question, but the key is asking the right questions. John C. Maxwell presents the process of becoming a successful leader by examining how questions can be used to advantage, in Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Maxwell shares leadership questions he has gathered from others and from his own experience that will inspire both seasoned leaders and new leaders to ask great questions to improve their leadership skills and careers.



by David McAdams

Game-Changer by David McAdams. You can turn defeats into wins, if you have the vision to “change the game”. In Game-Changer, David McAdams uses game theory to out-strategize your rivals. McAdams discloses six basic ways to change games: commitment, regulation, cartelization, retaliation, trust and relationships. By learning to be a deeper strategic thinker, you’ll be able to “change the game” to plot business tactics and gain insights for your advantage.

How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution


After his phenomenally successful biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s new book, The Innovators, stays in the technology field, but this time with a group biography of the wide variety of people who created the digital age. Through its rich details and Isaacson’s fine storytelling, The Innovators reads more like a sprawling epic novel than a treatise on technological founders. The first character he introduces is a surprising one: the daughter of the 19th century Romantic poet, Lord Byron.

Lady Ada Meets Charles Babbage

For many people, the age of computing begins with Charles Babbage, the British aristocrat who conceived and built mechanical devices to help people calculate and do other tasks mechanically — thus lightening the thinking load of man. But Babbage needed money, and lots of it, to pay for his “Difference Engine” and especially his more sophisticated “Analytical Engine.” Enter Ada, Countess of Lovelace, Byron’s only legitimate child and an adept mathematician. As Babbage’s collaborator and publicist, one of her tasks was to translate a French description of the machine for the scientific periodical Scientific Memoirs. Knowing more than the original French author about the machine, Ada decided to write some “Notes from the translator.” These “Notes” would earn her place as one of the earliest founders of the digital age because — extrapolating far beyond the mechanical devices of her boss — they conceptualize, for the first time, the idea of a computer: a machine that could, in Isaacson’s words, “store, manipulate, process and act upon anything that could be expressed in symbols: words and logic and music and anything else we might use symbols to con-vey….This insight would become the core concept of the digital age: any piece of content, data, or information music, text, pictures, numbers, symbols, sounds, video could be expressed in digital form and manipulated by machines.” The Notes also included, in step-by-step detail, how what we now call a computer program or algorithm would work.

Collaboration and Leadership

Moving through the years, from the 19th century to the 20th and the 21st, Isaacson carefully lays out the history of the two strands of the digital age — computing and . networking — telling the stories of the famous and not-so-famous who piece-by-puzzle-piece would construct the world we live in. Isaacson emphasizes that such a world was not created by lone inventors who single-handedly pushed the technology forward in leaps. Instead, technology advanced through a quiet insight here, a new system there, which were then connected to another insight or system or technology to finally create the breakthrough. Occasionally, one person would indeed give the technology a major push. Tim Berners-Lee correctly deserves full credit as the man who almost single-handedly conceived the World Wide Web. However, in most cases, The Innovators is a story of intense and sometimes complicated collaborations — symbiotic collaborations from which innovation could emerge. Leadership is an important component of the process. Isaacson details the great and not-so-great leadership that guided the history of technological progress. For example, Gordon Shockley, who led the team that invented the transistor, never succeeded as a businessperson; tired of Shockley’s ham-fisted leadership, the team February 2015 started their own company, sponsored by the rich inventor and playboy Sherman Fairchild. The compelling stories will keep you turning the pages of The Innovators.

Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset

Not All You’ve Heard
The axiom “attitude is everything” has been stated by so many motivational speakers and writers over the years that many of us simply accept it as fact. If so many people believe it, it must be true, right?

Wrong, says leadership expert John Maxwell in The Difference Maker. He maintains that while attitude is important, there are certain things it cannot achieve. It cannot change people into something they’re not. Attitude cannot replace competence, experience or personal growth and it cannot change the facts. Maxwell gives an example of two people applying for the same job. One has skills, talent and 10 years experience, but a so-so attitude. The other has a super attitude, but no experience. Who gets the job? “Probably the one with the greater skills and experience,” writes Maxwell. “Why? Because a great attitude will not make up the gap.”

Attitude as an Asset
Despite the “cannots,” Maxwell writes, attitude is a primary component in determining our success. While it can’t alter what exists, it can influence our future via how we choose to deal with things we encounter in everyday life. “The happiest people,” he notes, “don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.” Essentially, if we expect bad things, he says, we get them. Conversely, we often get good things by expecting them.

By applying attitude correctly, we can make it one of our most powerful assets. To this end, Maxwell stresses, it’s something we control; it’s a matter of choice, not circumstances, how we deal with a particular situation. To do so, we need to first evaluate our current attitude, create the desire to change it, then rearrange our thoughts to do so.

This is largely done by making an effort to allow our thinking to run in positive channels. Maxwell believes negative thoughts lead to negative beliefs, which in turn lead to wrong decisions and actions, creating a pattern of bad habits. Developing the proper attitude can reverse this vicious cycle. He also maintains that attitude adjustment isn’t a one-time event; it’s something we have to manage daily.

Point by Point
To change our attitude, Maxwell claims, we have to overcome what he calls the “Big Five” major attitude obstacles. “When you can learn to deal with them in a positive way,” he says, “you can face anything else life may have in store for you.”

According to Maxwell, the first hurdle is discouragement. If not handled correctly, discouragement can make someone give up instead of facing the situation. This involves not becoming fixated or paralyzed, but viewing things from different perspectives and taking the best road possible for your personal well-being. The mix includes introspection, having the right expectations and making the right decisions.

The second hurdle is change, something that most people resist. The key here, Maxwell allows, is to objectively examine why we’re opposed to the change. Once that’s established, we need to determine how to make the change successful and positive, keeping in mind that all change has a price to which we must be willing to commit.

Problems are the third obstacle. “Our perspective on problems, not the problem itself, usually determines our success or failure,” writes Maxwell. To this end, the difference between problem-spotting and problem-solving can be crucial. Tackling a problem head-on and working out the best way of dealing with it can often turn into an opportunity for personal or professional advancement.

The fourth obstacle is fear. Here, Maxwell invokes Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” as far more than rhetoric. Maxwell contends that if permitted to run rampant, fear can generate inaction, weakness and more fear, which can be destructive. Rather than waste energy by being afraid, we need to realize the limitations fear places on us. It’s only by properly handling what we’re afraid of, he says, that we can overcome fear and achieve our full potential.

Last, Maxwell discusses failure. The premise is simple: If we fail or make a mistake, we need to learn from it and go on. Otherwise, we run the risk of letting it defeat us. By seeing failure as a teacher rather than a limit, we remain capable of taking risks – something necessary for success.

Why We Like This Book
While some might argue that what Maxwell offers is simply common sense, the book goes far beyond. Written in a light, almost chatty style that uses examples, anecdotes and quotes from Abraham Lincoln to Yogi Berra, it provides many points of entry and shows how anyone, if determined, can indeed make his or her attitude make a difference. Copyright (c) 2007 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Book Review: Rookie Smarts

rookie smarts

by Liz Wiseman

When you’re inexperienced in business, you’re more likely to seek counsel or ask questions. However, you tend to lose that curiosity once you are established in the workplace. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman explains why it’s often an asset to be completely inexperienced and how to cultivate the curious, flexible, youthful mindset of a rookie. In Rookie Smarts, Wiseman addresses how to remain current and relevant as a leader with continuous learning. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Rookies are more capable than we might expect. We often see it on the athletic field, but it also plays out in the halls of the workplace. Research suggests that, in many cases, inexperience can work to your advantage: It can spark a dazzling performance and help you compete with, if not surpass, even the most talented, experienced players. Not only does inexperience confer an advantage, but also it is desperately needed in today’s rapidly evolving world of work,” writes Wiseman. She presents her research of more than 400 workplace scenarios in what she calls the “rookie smart mindset” that is characterized by four distinct modes: Backpacker, Hunter-Gatherer, Firewalker, and Pioneer. Each mode includes detailed descriptions of the best assets of each of these types.

She also presents “perpetual rookies” who are leaders who maintain a rookie mindset. If you are willing to unlearn and relearn, Rookie Smarts will help leaders gain a state of mind to succeed in today’s competitive work environment.