A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office

FROM THE CORNER DELI TO THE CORNER OFFICE

In Winners Dream, SAP CEO Bill McDermott describes his journey from his blue-collar roots in Amityville, New York to becoming CEO of the largest business software company in the world. Unlike many CEO books, Winners Dream is structured not as a book of lessons but as a straightforward chronological autobiography — although nearly every page is infused with business wisdom told through compelling stories.

Know Your Customer

One of the earliest business lessons McDermott offers comes from when McDermott is not even out of high school. When the small deli where he works is emptied out by robbers, the owner decides to sell what is now just a shell. McDermott, with help from his parents and after talking down the price, buys the tiny store, stocks it and starts hunting for customers — not an easy task with the competition of two major convenience store chains within a few blocks. “I was David amidst Goliaths,” McDermott writes. “What, I thought, did I have that the Goliaths did not? What could my little deli give people that 7-Eleven and Finast could not?” To get the answers to these questions, McDermott realized he had to ask another question: “Who is my customer?”

The young high school businessman determined that he had three types of customers: senior citizens from a nearby senior home, local blue collar workers and high school kids hanging out after school. For the seniors, many of whom did not like to leave their homes, McDermott set up a delivery service. For the blue-collar workers, many of whom were paid on Friday and broke on Sunday, he set up a credit system — they could buy on credit during the week but had to pay with the next Friday paycheck. For the high school students, he offered something exceedingly simple: they could all go in the store. At that time, the major chains only let students in the stores in small groups because of the fear of stealing. Thus, McDermott writes, kids with money in their pocket were forced to wait out in the cold.

McDermott’s high school experience offered him a clear lesson: To succeed in business, you must give your customers what they want — and that means you must know what they need. It was a lesson that would guide him when he had moved far from the corner deli.

Drive and Empathy

A successful retailer even in high school, McDermott was clearly born with a fine business acumen. But he also inherited a very strong work ethic from his parents and was driven by ambition and confidence. When he applied to Xerox and was told that HR would be contacting him with a response, McDermott asked the last interviewer to hire him on the spot instead — which he did.

For McDermott, passion, planning and confidence are key success factors for a business career. But perhaps even more important is empathy — understanding the needs of the people you sell to and you work with. It was empathy that made his small deli a success during high school, and when in 2010, as SAP CEO, he was working on a new strategy to strengthen the future of the largest business software company in the world, the questions he asked are surprisingly similar: Who exactly are our customers, and what do they want? For SAP, customers were any possible end users of technology. And what they wanted was compatibility with multiple mobile devices and access to cloud computing — and those are the areas in which SAP would move forward.

Winners Dream is subtitled A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office. It is a journey that illustrates, with every step, inspirational business guidance and solid leadership lessons for anyone striving for a similar journey in their lives.

Book Review: Overworked and Overwhelmed

overworkedandoverwhelmed

by Scott Eblin

Do you ever feel swamped at work? You have emails to reply to, deals to close, problems to resolve, and deadlines to make. The task are piling up on your desk and you feel overwhelmed. You are not alone. Top leadership coach, Scott Eblin, provides simple routines to reduce stress and sustain peak performance in Overworked and Overwhelmed. Eblin makes his practice of mindfulness simple to offer actionable hope for anyone whose stress level is up. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Through awareness and intention, the mindfulness alternative sets you up for high performance. It helps you identify the difference between extrinsic interference that you can’t control and the intrinsic interference of thoughts that can keep you from performing at your full potential,” writes Eblin. He defines what mindfulness means as “managing the gap between your thoughts and actions,” and then how to practice it by understanding the internal and external factors of your stress. He also offers different physical, mental and spiritual routines to practice mindfulness in your life. Eblin presents seven principles for choosing and following the routines that work best for you. “Strive for rhythm, not balance” is the first principle, which helps you develop a rhythm for all your responsibilities at work, home, and community.

Overworked and Overwhelmed is for anyone who feels frustrated or struggling to express their full potential and live their highest purpose. This book will help you discover your true purpose and define what success means to you specifically.

Take Back Control with These Three New Summaries

Feeling as if you have no control over your work or job duties can lead to job stress. When the stress of constant connection and rapid changes in the marketplace start affecting your performance at work, applying new processes to your daily routine could bring great success. Learn how to take back control and handle the high demands by developing mindfulness, collaborating with others, and knowing when to think like a rookie with these three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

overworkedandoverwhelmed

by Scott Eblin

Overworked and Overwhelmed by Scott Eblin

Top leadership coach Scott Eblin provides simple routines to reduce stress and sustain peak performance and a personal planning framework for creating desired outcomes. Overworked and Overwhelmed offers practical insights for any professional who feels like his or her RPMs are maxed out in the red zone. Eblin makes his practice of mindfulness simple to offer actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

 

the reciprocity advantage

by Bob Johansen and Karl Ronn

The Reciprocity Advantage by Bob Johansen and Karl Ronn

Leading forecaster Bob Johansen and business developer Karl Ronn share a model for creating new growth for your business using the underutilized resources you already own that you can share with others. They describe a model for collaborating to do what you can’t do alone. The Reciprocity Advantage shows readers how to leverage new forces like cloud-served supercomputing into scalable and profitable growth for your organization.

 

rookie smarts

by Liz Wiseman

Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

In a rapidly changing world, constant learning is more valuable than experience or mastery. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman explains how to reclaim and cultivate the curious, flexible, youthful mindset of a rookie in order to keep up with what’s needed from employees. In Rookie Smarts, Wiseman details the four modes of the rookie mindset that lead to success.

Becoming the Boss

NEW RULES FOR A NEW GENERATION

Lindsey Pollak, author of Becoming the Boss, is a Gen Xer (born between 1965 and 1982), and she will be the first to tell you that Gen Xers are not going to make a huge difference in the world. The reason: there just aren’t that many of them. After the massive boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), the next generation that will make a significant impact on the world is the equally massive Gen Y, or “millennial” generation (born between 1982 and 2000). Millennials are already stepping into leadership roles and will soon dominate the top ranks in government and business. Becoming the Boss is a manual for members of the millennial generation about to step into leadership positions, if they haven’t done so already.

Advice for Future Leaders

Pollak’s first piece of advice for these future leaders is to be the “CEO of You.” In two chapters (entitled “be” and “be.com”), Pollak describes how to build an offline and online personal brand, covering everything from handshakes to eliminating your online presence of any negative images. She also offers an in-depth step-by-step plan for building the most effective LinkedIn profile.

In other chapters, Pollak covers

  •     Communication. Millennials must also know how to mix high-tech and “old school” communication methods — it’s still important to know how to carry on face-to-face conversations.
  •     Managing. Pollak writes that today’s managers have new challenges, such as dealing with a workforce that is more diverse than ever before. With command-and-control leadership no longer acceptable (or workable), today’s manager must also be more transparent and open with their employees and colleagues than in the past.
  •     Prioritizing. Given the multiple, 24/7 digital forms of communication, generation Y is the “busiest and most stressed out generation in history,” writes Pollak. Effective time and information management is key, and that means being able to prioritize and delegate as well as avoid losing too much energy on stress. One suggestion: cut down on trivial decisions by, for example, laying out your clothes the night before or having the same breakfast every weekday morning. It may not seem like much, but research shows such trivial decisions take a toll.
  •     Connecting. Pollak suggests that millennials looking to move up gather a “rotating advisory board” of about five different types of mentors: traditional mentors, who share their wisdom; co-mentors, who are traditional mentors who teach but also learn from the younger people they are mentoring; sponsors, that is, people who can actually offer you that promotion or work on your behalf; peers, who are in your shoes; and (a very generation-specific suggestion) Mom and/or Dad — as long as they stay in the background!
  •     Continuous growth. Pollak closes the book with a reminder that everyone must continuously strive to stay current and improve. Among her recommendations: Stay humble, commit, change jobs and, a bit surprisingly, “make yourself feel old.” “You’ll be amazed at how fast the next generation sneaks up and you’re the one complaining about ‘kids today,’” Pollak tells her Gen Y readers. The answer: you’ll continue to grow if you develop relationships with interesting people who are “young and hipper than you are.”

Pollak is the author of Getting from College to Career, a book she was inspired to write as a result of her own experiences. In Becoming the Boss, Pollak, an independent consultant and speaker, again builds on her own experiences to lay out a thoughtful and comprehensive overview of the skills and attitudes any millennial will need if they ever have any hopes of becoming the boss.

Book Review: Pitch Perfect

pitch_perfect

by Bill McGowan and
Alisa Bowman

Effective communication is at the core of professional success. The difference between signing a deal or losing an account is how you communicate your message. It is important to be pitch perfect, precisely the right tone to the right person, to advance in your career. Renowned media coach Bill McGowan, along with journalist Alisa Bowman, show how to communicate with confidence during the pivotal moments of life in Pitch Perfect. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Holding your audience’s attention is like winning a tennis match at Wimbledon. You better have a clearly defined strategy, execute it brilliantly and muzzle any inner voice of self-doubt, or you’ll get crushed,” write McGowan and Bowman. They offer Seven Principles of Persuasion to construct the right message and deliver it using the right language, verbally and nonverbally. These principles are based upon years of McGowan’s experience communicating and succeeding via multiple mediums. Of the seven, the Scorsese Principle discusses keeping your audience engaged with visual aids to illustrate your story. This principle is based upon Martin Scorcese and his ability to tell stories that listeners can visualize. Images are more memorable than words, so in order to capture and hold the attention of your audience, you need to illustrate your point with stories they can imagine.

McGowan and Bowman share how to get people to remember what you have said. Executives will learn how to overcome common mistakes and implement a better way of communicating using effective verbal and nonverbal language with Pitch Perfect.