You Too Can Take the Stage!

“If you would like a stronger voice in discussions; if you wish to express yourself with more clarity and impact; if you want others not to interrupt you because they don’t “hear” you; if you’d liked to be assertive but not aggressive, promote yourself, be visible, speak with presence, and move your career forward by showing yourself as a confident, capable leader – if you say “yes” to any of these, then this book is for you.”                  Judith Humphrey

This book Humphrey is talking about is her latest title Taking the Stage. While the book is aimed primarily at women, the principles apply to anyone who is seeking to move up in the business world. Having the confidence to speak up in any situation takes courage and knowledge, and Humphry provides the information and techniques needed to shine.

Here are some of the things you can learn:

  • Speak up confidently, even when others don’t agree.
  • Convey your accomplishments without self-doubt.
  • Be assertive but not aggressive.
  • Deliver clear and convincing messages.
  • Move beyond “minimizing” language and apology.
  • Find your own powerful and authentic voice.
  • Achieve confident body language and a leadership presence.

If you would like to achieve this kind of confidence in your workplace, then please join us on June 9th to hear Judith Humphrey explain how to reach for this level of confidence. Strengthen your voice at our Soundview live webinar Taking the Stage. And bring your questions to post during the event.

Staying On Top of Issues That Can Make or Break a Company

We have just released our latest batch of executive book summaries, and they cover the gamut of business subjects and issues. But they do have one thing in common: they provide critical information to help you stay up on the latest issues and innovations in order to continue to succeed.


The Power of Thanks by Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley

Globoforce executives Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine explain how a Culture of Recognition can boost employee engagement and loyalty, stronger teamwork, a more innovative culture, increased customer satisfaction, as well as greater profitability and organizational health. Ultimately, they show how to build a better workplace for employees.


Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw

Robert Bruce Shaw helps leaders to identify weaknesses, threats and other vulnerabilities that can impair effectiveness, results and even their careers. Shaw reveals how blindspots operate and why they persist, but also provides techniques for recognizing them and taking action before they create lasting damage.


Data-ism by Steve Lohr

New York Times reporter Steve Lohr explains how big-data technology has its benefits and its drawbacks, which raises questions about the wider implications for everyone. Lohr lends insight into what’s ahead, suggesting that individuals and organizations will need to exploit, protect and manage data to stay competitive.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual titles to purchase and download them right now to begin learning these critical business skills.


A Revolutionary Approach to Success


For generations we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion ,hard work, talent and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder, while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Praised by social scientists, business theorists and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups but entire organizations and communities.

Over the past three decades, in a series of groundbreaking studies, social scientists have discovered that people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity –– their desired mix of taking and giving. The two kinds of people who fall on opposite ends of the spectrum are called takers and givers.

Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. Takers believe that the world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog place. They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts.

The opposite of a taker is a giver. In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them. These preferences aren’t about money: givers and takers aren’t distinguished by how much they donate to charity or the compensation that they command from their employers. Rather, givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis: you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

In the workplace, give and take becomes quite complicated. Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships.

It’s clear that givers, takers and matchers all can –– and do –– achieve success. But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. People tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.


Making a Career Among Multiple Generations

The time in which we live is unique in that this is the first time that four generations are working side-by-side in the workplace: the Traditionalists (born before 1945), the Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964), Gen X (born 1965-1980), and the Millennials (born 1981-2001). This is due in part to increased longevity and in part to people not wanting or being able to afford to retire.

Haydn Shaw, in his book Sticking Points, describes the 12 sticking points between the generations that must be worked through in order for inter-generational cooperation to take place:

Communication                                 Loyalty

Decision Making                               Meetings

Dress Code                                       Policies

Feedback                                          Respect

Fun at Work                                      Training

Knowledge Transfer                          Work Ethic

As younger workers seek to advance in their careers, they will need to learn how to work with those of older generations, and those at the top of companies will be more and more dependent on these younger workers for their success.

This coming week we have the pleasure of hosting two Soundview Live webinars relating to these issues. The first How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career with Debra Benton, and then How to Get 4 Generations Working Together with Haydn Shaw.

How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career

In this Soundview Live webinar, Debra Benton gives you the insight and tools to make subtle changes in your presentation, attitude, and leadership style that will dramatically increase your leadership effectiveness – and, consequently, help you enjoy work and life.

How to Get 4 Generations Working Together

At this Soundview Live webinar, Haydn Shaw shows you how to help the different generations at work or home stick together instead of come apart, and will help you move beyond these sticking points and get productive again.

Both of these conversations will be helpful for anyone seeking to move up in their career. So please plan to join us on June 17th and 19th and invite your colleagues as well.

Building Lasting Value in Business and Life


Who Are You Becoming?

For business coach and psychologist Andrew Thorn, the goal in life should not be to achieve a work/life balance that he believes was never meant to exist. After all, as he writes in his inspirational new book, Leading with Your Legacy in Mind: Building Lasting Value in Business and Life, work is about quantity (salaries, financial results, purchases you can afford), while life is about quality; and no matter what we do, we will spend most of our waking hours on work.

Instead of an impossible and unnecessary work/life balance, Thorn argues that it is better to strive to achieve a legacy that emerges from making the most of both life and work. The term “legacy” is often misunderstood, he writes. Legacy is also, like life, measured as a quality, not a quantity. “It is measured by what we learn and by who we become as a result of our learnings,” he writes, not by “quantities of stuff we accumulate.” Instead of something that is simply left behind, legacy is something that is created every day and that “encompasses your past, present and future.”

In short, he explains, your legacy “is not about what you are doing or about how much money you are making. Instead, it is about who you are becoming and how you are influencing others to live up to their own legacy.”

Why Purpose Is Better Than Passion

Having established the concept of legacy as a journey rather than the left-behinds of a life, Thorn helps map that journey through 10 “legacy arcs” that move us in the right direction. At the left side of each arc are the behaviors and tendencies that, he writes, “makes us attractive to our employers, peers and direct reports, but… do not shape our impact or create our legacy.” For that, he urges us to move to the behaviors and tendencies on the right side of the arc.

For example, instead of passion, which can lead to obsession, excess, a lack of control, and a distraction from other important facets of our lives, Thorn proposes a focus on purpose. Purpose is a much more reliable guide, he writes, because “it gives us the ‘why’ for what we do each day… Purpose gives us the focus we need in order to ensure that the work we are doing is aligned with our priorities.”

The arc from passion to purpose is the first of four legacy arcs that helps us align who we are as leaders with our deepest desires and priorities. The other three alignment arcs are change to growth, goals to aspirations and balance to focus. For collaboration and connecting “our hopes and strengths with those of the people we collaborate with in the workplace,” Thorn proposes a shift from accepting to understanding, discussion to dialogue and listening to hearing.

The final three legacy arcs — from success to significance, ambition to meaning and growing older to growing whole — help us understand the true purpose of our work, he writes. “This makes it possible for us to see the big picture so that we can use our enlightened understanding to better identify how our work-related actions are contributing to our leadership legacy.” To solidify the practical lessons of these chapters, Thorn uses numerous real-world examples and finishes each chapter with “key leadership lessons” and a leadership questionnaire.

Journey Through the Four Seasons

Of course, no one acts in a vacuum. In the third section of the book, Thorn discusses through the metaphor of the four seasons the environmental conditions and circumstances that affect our legacy-making efforts: our early “spring” years of followership; the middle “summer” years when we’re assigned formal leadership jobs; and eventually the “fall” time of harvest, when we gather the fruits of our work for sustaining purposes and, Thorn writes, “share our yield with others through carefully selected acts of service.” Then comes the dormant “winter” period, a time of renewal or satisfied retirement.

For readers of personal development or inspirational books, many of the terms such as “growth” or “dialogue” or even “significance” in Leading with Your Legacy in Mind will likely be familiar. Yet, Thorn’s insightful and sometimes contrarian approach to leadership legacy combined with the clarity and succinctness of his framework will make the most jaded readers sit and rethink whether it’s time to reset their professional priorities and goals.

The Art of Improvised Persuasion

Customers don’t want to hear sales pitches, so why do salespeople rely on them? In Ditch the Pitch, Steve Yastrow advocates, “Tear up your sales pitch, and, instead improvise persuasive communications.”

Here is a humorous book trailer by Yastrow that explains the value of persuasive conversations.

Ditch the Pitch





Ditch the Pitch gives essential recommendations to salespeople, business managers, and anyone who wants to persuade those around us. Steve believes that to be persuasive we need most of all to engage in fresh and spontaneous conversations. By learning his six habits and the easy practices for each habit, we can quickly discover what makes every customer unique. We can then effortlessly navigate a persuasive conversation specifically created for each person – to give the right message to the right customer at the right time.

These are Yastrow’s six habits:

#1 Think input before output.

#2 Size up the scene.

#3 Create a series of “yeses”.

#4 Explore and heighten.

#5 Focus the conversation on your customer.

#6 Don’t rush the story.

Join us on June 10th for our Soundview Live webinar The Art of Improvised Persuasion and hear from Steve directly on how to apply these habits to your conversations, sales or otherwise. And if you’re in sales, invite your whole sales team to the webinar.






The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


Prioritize Your Life or Someone Else Will

Greg McKeown will always recall the day of his daughter’s birth: how, even exhausted from the birth, his wife was radiant; how, as his beautiful new baby lay in his wife’s arms, he was on the phone and on email with work, feeling pressure to go to a client meeting; how he left the hospital to go to the meeting and saw the look of “what are you doing here?” on the clients’ faces (instead of the appreciation for his dedication that he had promised to his colleagues). The vital life lesson he learned from that day: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown, a writer, speaker and Harvard Business Review blogger, offers both a manifesto and a manual on how to deliberately focus on the vital few priorities that really count and dispense with the rest. This is the age of the Nonessentialist, McKeown writes: over-busy and over-committed, we continue to say yes to even more commitments and deadlines without asking ourselves, “Is this truly essential? Is this very important to me? Is this really how I want to choose to spend my time?” These are the questions, McKeown argues, that Essentialists ask and answer before accepting any task, commitment or responsibility.

Step by Step to a Better Life

McKeown’s step-by-step methodology makes the seemingly impossible task of slicing through the chronic chaos of our lives eminently possible.

The first step is to explore and evaluate. Paradoxically, Essentialists explore more options than Nonessentialists. “Because they will commit and ‘go big’ on one or two ideas or activities,” McKeown explains, “they deliberately explore more options at first to ensure that they pick the right one later.”

The next step, according to McKeown, is to eliminate. Identifying the most essential activities is not good enough; you have to have the courage and emotional discipline to eliminate the activities that don’t make the list. For example, it doesn’t matter what the client thought or how important the meeting felt (in actuality it all led to nothing), his place was by his wife and newborn baby. Cut out the “trivial many” to stay focused on the “vital few.”

The final step is to execute. For most people, execution means pushing hard to get something done. Essentialists create a system that removes obstacles and makes execution easy. For example, Essentialists will always build in buffers, recognizing that in life, the unexpected happens; they will also engage in “extreme preparation,” planning for all contingencies. They build routines and transfer the triggers from their old habits to the new Essentialist routines. For example, he writes, “If your alarm clock going off in the morning triggers you to check your email, use it as a cue to get up and read instead.”

For each of these three steps, McKeown presents the five or six actions required. To explore successfully, for example, you need to escape so you can focus; look to see what really matters; play to broaden your perspective and drive creativity; sleep to operate at your highest level of productivity and performance when awake; and select opportunities based on narrow, explicit criteria.

Essentialism is an eloquent slap in the face, telling us to wrest back control of our lives by making the tough choices that will clear out the mass of non-essentials clogging our time and attention.

What Legacy Will You Leave Your Family and Your Business?

In Andrew Thorn’s introduction to his book Leading with Your Legacy in Mind, he provides a look into his own personal struggle. Here is an excerpt:

“…my thoughts suddenly shift, and I realize that the idea that I can ever obtain a true balance between my personal and professional responsibilities is a monstrous myth. The conflict between my work and my life will always exist. The answer is not one or the other. I will always need both if I am to feel like a total person. I will always need both if I am to feel whole, I deserve to learn and to grow; after all, that is why I am here. There will always be an inequality in the amount of time I spend in each of these two domains. Any work that I might do would require similar sacrifice.

Whether I like it or not, I must work. Without it, I would be unable to fund a peaceful existence. The question is not, ‘Why must I leave behind what I value most so that I can give the majority of my attention to what I know matters least?’ but rather, ‘How can I use the time that I have effectively in both of these domains so that I am more than a survivor? How do I thrive in the ever-churning mix of quantity and quality?’”

If this is your struggle as well, then our next Soundview Live webinar Leading with Your Legacy in Mind can be the beginning of your path to harmonizing your professional life and your personal life. It’s about focusing on the right things in both aspects of your life–the only true way to live and lead with purpose and create a legacy to be proud of. Learn how to create the most meaning in both your personal and professional domains by reframing:

•Passion into purpose

•Change into growth

•Goals into aspirations

•Balance into focus

•Listening into hearing

•Ambition into meaning

Join us on June 3rd and you’ll receive from Dr. Thorn the guidance you need to bring both parts of your world into harmony. If your colleagues are wrestling with the same issues, invite them along and fill a room with a single registration.

A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change


A To-Do List for Achieving Results

For more than 20 years, James M. Kerr has been an independent management consultant working with both large and small companies: He helped Home Depot reimagine its store operations, for example, while advising smaller firms such as specialty insurer Jewelers Mutual on how to open up new markets. Already the author of three books, Kerr’s fourth book pulls together the varied experiences and knowledge acquired in his project work into a deceptively simple but practical and comprehensive checklist for executives. The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change is built on 10 general items that all executives must manage and implement if they are to be successful: establish leadership; build trust; set strategy; engage staff; manage work as projects; renovate the business; align technology; transform staff; renew communications practices; and reimagine organizational design.

With the chapters devoted to each of these items, Kerr moves from the general to specifics with sub-checklists that are focused and actionable. The checklist for establishing leadership, for example, is as follows: have a dream; actively set direction; communicate early and often; be dynamic and visibly involved; promote collaboration; practice inclusiveness; don’t tolerate bad leaders in your midst; make no excuses.

LexisNexis Fakes a Trade Show

In less experienced hands, a book of checklists and sub-checklists could easily turn into a litany of platitudes with little implementable substance behind them. The Executive Checklist, however, reflects the grounded, real-world perspective of a management consultant paid handsomely to get results, not talk. The discussion on having a dream, for example, does not describe Martin Luther King’s speech or John Kennedy’s space goals. Instead, Kerr introduces the concept he used with LexisNexis Insurance Software division of a “vision trade show” — essentially a faux trade show with booths manned by a member of the senior leadership team.

Floundering in the ultra-competitive property casualty software market, LexisNexis top management had decided to write a new vision story for the company that would help employees understand where the company was going. Because engaging employees was vital, the new vision story was first introduced in a specially produced magazine with articles written by executives and then further explained through Kerr’s vision trade show. As with a traditional trade show, LexisNexis employees moved in small groups from booth to booth, where they “were treated to a briefing or demonstration highlighting a specific element of the firm’s vision story,” Kerr writes. “To make the trade show experience even more realistic, each booth provided attendees with various giveaways, including logowear, squeeze balls and golf goodie bags.”

For LexisNexis, the trade show booth format had several advantages over the traditional town hall meetings often used to spread the word on a company’s vision. Each booth emphasized specific key points or themes, such as speed to market, continual transformation and the building of a talent factor. In addition, the fact that top executives manned the booths persuasively demonstrated the full commitment of top management to the new vision.

Do Your Job

Recognizing that the job of an executive is to lead and motivate others, The Executive Checklist includes actions that executives must demand of others as well as themselves. For example, Build Trust, the second of Kerr’s 10 items on his executive checklist, includes imperatives such as “model the behavior,” “share the wealth” and “keep it light.” Building trust, however, also includes “don’t play games” and “do your job” — which apply to both boss and employee. Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, doesn’t play games and does his job, but a great part of his success — he turned a franchise never known for its winning consistency into a team that, since he became coach, has appeared in more Super Bowls than any other team — comes from ensuring that his players also never play games and always do their jobs. In fact, as players go through the entrance to the New England Patriot locker room, they pass under a sign that says simply: Do Your Job.

LexisNexis and the New England Patriots are just two of the many companies referenced in The Executive Checklist: an easy-to-use reference manual for executives to keep nearby for quick guidance.

Are You Ready for Change?

If there’s one certainty in business today, it’s this: Change is coming your way. You have no choice in the matter. The choice you do have is either to embrace it or bury your head in the sand.

What is necessary in order for real change to happen in your organization? Walter McFarland and Susan Goldsworthy, authors of Choosing Change, suggest you follow the 4 D’s:

Disruption: An experience or event that triggers a conscious choice to change

Desire: Committing to goals and deciding upon the change necessary to meet them

Discipline: Consistently taking steps that build the momentum required for sustainable change

Determination: Developing the resilience to focus and deliver even when faced with setbacks

Development: Establishing a system for continuous improvement, feedback, and ongoing learning

If you ‘d like to learn more about how to make change part of your business’s DNA, then please join us on May 15th for our Soundview Live webinar with McFarland and Goldsworthy, Driving Results One Person at a Time. You can also submit questions throughout the presentation.