Book Review: Leadership 2030

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

It used to be enough for a business leader to attempt to research and anticipate trends in business. Two executives from Hay Group, Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell, make a strong argument for the importance of analyzing megatrends. In their book Leadership 2030, Vielmetter and Sell provide six megatrends that will have a profound impact on the way you lead your business in the future. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Understanding megatrends begins with gaining a grasp of the concept itself. While the authors define megatrend as, “a long-term, transformational process with global reach, broad scope and a fundamental and dramatic impact,” their collaboration with research partner Z_punkt used the filters of time, reach and impact to shape the six megatrends.

Leadership 2030 provides essential observations about each of the six megatrends. Whether the megatrend discussed is new to executives (such as Individualization and Value Pluralism) or a concentrated reexamination of an existing idea (the environmental crisis), the authors strike at the heart of the issue and explain both the reasons for the megatrend’s existence and how you, as a leader, will need to react.

After covering the six megatrends, Vielmetter and Sell describe a set of five key reinforcers (which they define as “consequences driven and strengthened by several megatrends at once) and four significant dilemmas. This solidifies the authors’ belief that the megatrends are not individual issues incubating on their own. Faced with the daunting task of leading in the face of the perfect storm described by Vielmetter and Sell, Leadership 2030 concludes with a portrait of the Altrocentric Leader, an individual who is able to unite and empower those around him or her to find innovative solutions to the challenges ahead. A good first step for tomorrow’s Altrocentric Leaders is to read (and re-read) Vielmetter and Sell’s book.

Book Review: Absolute Value

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

It used to be that if you were selling consumer goods your field of play was limited to the shelf space immediately to the right and left of your item. People could compare packaging, price and quantity to determine if your item was worth their money and attention. In Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information, Stanford professor Itamar Simonson and best-selling author and executive Emanuel Rosen discuss what is causing the shift from relative to absolute value and how your company can make an impact. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Simonson and Rosen do an excellent job of compressing and presenting a mountain of research into concepts executives can absorb in a timely manner. The pair begin by presenting the new patterns in consumer decision making. One particular point of interest is the authors’ suggestion that there is a decline in the belief that marketers can cause buyers to act in “irrational” ways. As the pair write, “The relevance of these influence tactics has diminished in a world where people can easily assess quality. On average, better decisions are being made based on the information that’s available.”

Absolute Value then takes readers into a new framework for influence. Executives will want to spend a portion of time considering the ideas presented in a section on the Influence Mix. Simonson and Rosen write that three sources can impact a person’s decision to buy: prior experiences, preferences and beliefs, other people/information, and marketers. One of the most beneficial sections in the book pertains to matching your communication method to the customer’s influence mix. In a book filled with forward-looking insights, the authors’ advice will help guide marketing professionals into the next shift in commerce.

Plan for the Future with Three New Summaries

As part of your leadership development, you should routinely take a part of each day to focus on the future. To help you in your efforts, Soundview has three new summaries that help you plan for the future of your business and strengthen your resolve to achieve your goals.

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

Absolute Value by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen. Absolute Value answers the question of what influences customers in this new age and describes how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in order to adopt a new way of thinking about marketing in this new environment.




by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

Leadership 2030 by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell. Leadership 2030 presents six converging megatrends that will reshape businesses by the year 2030 including the forces of globalization 2.0, environmental crisis, individualization and value pluralism, the digital era, demographic change, and technological convergence. Authors Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell use research and analyses to explain the transformative effects of the megatrends on leaders and their organizations and what leaders will have to know.


by Al Siebert

by Al Siebert

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert. The Resiliency Advantage explains how and why some people are more resilient than others and how resiliency can be learned and strengthened. Dr. Siebert details a five-level program for becoming more resilient that is a valuable resource for learning how to meet the challenges of work and life head on.

Innovation and Investment

If you’re analyzing companies to invest in, certainly one item you’ll want to take into consideration is their strategy for innovation. Next week’s Soundview Live webinars have got you covered on both the investment and innovation fronts.

How to Make Smart Investment Decisions with Laura Rittenhouse

In this Soundview Live webinar Laura Rittenhouse introduces a revolutionary method for evaluating the financial integrity of a company. You don’t need special access to “insider” information or a degree in accounting to figure it out. In fact, the secret is right in front of you—in black and white—in the words of every shareholder letter, annual report, and corporate correspondence you receive. Rittenhouse lays out her time-tested approach for recognizing at-risk businesses before trouble hits. This is the same method she used to predict the collapse of Enron and the fall of Lehman.

Igniting Innovation with F.I.R.E. Methods with Dan Ward

In this Soundview Live webinar noted military technology expert Dan Ward delivers his manifesto for creating great products and projects using the methods of rapid innovation.

During nearly two decades as an engineering officer in the U. S. Air Force, with tours of duty at military research laboratories, the Air Force Institute of Technology, an intelligence agency, the Pentagon and Afghanistan, Dan Ward observed patterns revealing that the most successful project leaders in both the public and private sectors delivered top-shelf products with a skeleton crew, a shoestring budget, and a cannonball schedule. Excessive investment of time, money, or complexity actually reduced innovation. He concluded the secret to innovation is to be fast, inexpensive, simple, and small.

If either, or both, of these webinars pique your interest, then please register and join us for the lively discussion on these two important topics. Remember that Soundview subscribers attend for free and if you’re not currently a subscriber, you can recoup your full subscription fee with just these two events.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

Book Review: The Learned Disciplines of Management

by Jim Burkett

by Jim Burkett

The ability to turn around a struggling business is a skill honed in the fires of a business inferno. Specialists in this process hope to be successful a handful of times throughout their careers. Jim Burkett, author and president of Corporate Turnaround Consulting, has turned around the staggering figure of 28 underperforming companies during a 35-year career. It requires a devotion to a set of principles Burkett describes to readers in The Learned Disciplines of Management: How to Make the Right Things Happen. This book is now available a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

While every manager develops a toolkit for problem solving during the course of his or her career, Burkett points out that many of these skills might simply be what you’ve received from a predecessor or boss. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Burkett replaces the “inherited” tools with seven learned tools: planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving.

Each section of the book provides executives with an explanation of the discipline and examples to reinforce the importance of its practice. One of the more intriguing chapters concerns the discipline of measuring performance. While experienced executives probably feel as if they’ve read everything imaginable about the subject, Burkett gets to the heart of the issue: why measuring performance is so often not practiced. His findings force executives to confront the truth that performance measurement, while not a dehumanizing practice, does remove an unspoken layer of safety for underperforming teams.

These kinds of truths are essential if a manager intends to push a turnaround to its successful completion. While The Learned Disciplines of Management is a must-read for anyone in a struggling organization, it would benefit experienced executives at successful firms, as well.

Navigating the ‘Great Deflation’


How to Survive and Prosper During the Great Deflation of 2014-2019

Economist Harry Dent was almost a lone voice in the wilderness as he predicted that by the 1990s, Japan’s economy would be in decline rather than conquering the world. Not that Dent is necessarily a doomsayer. He also predicted long before others the burst of U.S. consumer spending from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, when most economists saw the U.S. economy in decline.

The secret to Dent’s success is his core belief in the predictability of people’s spending habits as they age. Economists know what people will be buying at age 25, 50 and 75… and 90. This may seem blindingly obvious, and yet it was this simple demographic fact that drove the contrarian burst of consumer spending in the 1990s and 2000s that Dent had predicted. He simply overlaid his data that showed consumer spending peaking at age 46 (expensive house, dependent children with college tuitions) with population statistics, to realize that spending would start rising around 1983 and peak in 2007-2008.

The ‘Great Deflation’

As far as what demographics tell us for the future, one needs to look no further than the title of Dent’s latest book, The Demographic Cliff. The world economy is about to go off a cliff and in fact has already started. Between 2014 and 2019, the bubbles will be bursting around the world, and there will be deflation as never before seen, Dent writes. Again, the core reason is simple: the peaks of boomer generation spending have crested, and it’s downhill from here until 2024 to 2026.

This “Great Deflation” comes as no surprise for Dent, who believes that global economic cycles rotate through four roughly 20-year seasons (or more specifically two 40-year boom and bust cycles). Basing his description on the work of early 20th-century Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff, Dent describes the four seasons as follows: “a spring boom with mildly rising inflation; a summer recession with inflation rising to a longer-term peak with major wars; a fall boom with falling inflation, powerful new technologies moving into the mainstream, and a credit bubble that leads to high speculation and financial bubbles; and then finally the winter season with the bursting of the bubbles, debt deleveraging, and depression.” For Kondratieff, the seasons occurred in 60-year cycles, but longer life spans and the shift to a mass-consumption consumer society has stretched the cycle to 80 years, Dent writes. The last spring began in 1942 with the growth in spending by what Dent calls the Bob Hope generation. Which means that winter has begun.

The Demographic Cliff, however, is not intended to be just a sky-is-falling book; its subtitle is “How to Survive and Prosper during the Great Deflation.” The second half of the book is filled with how to respond to the Great Deflation. For example, finishing the book in September 2013, Dent writes that his analysis foresees a major stock market correction after the first quarter of 2014. “So you should be looking to sell stocks soon after this book comes out in early January,” Dent writes. For real estate, he suggests that baby boomers will want to buy vacation homes in 2016 or after. Dent follows up his in-depth advice for individuals with equally in-depth advice for businesses and governments — governments that must give up their monetary stimulus “drug” habit.

The Demographic Cliff is not a quick read, but it may be the best investment of time that one could make — before it’s too late. As Dent writes, “If you see the change of season coming, it’s no problem to adapt. If you don’t, you’re in trouble.”

Making an Ethical Difference

Quandary #1: Speed Kills

The company you work for is deciding whether to build a super-fast car for street use. There is a demand for the car and your company needs the boost this signature product would give it. But you wonder if it is right to produce a car that capable of travelling at two or three times any posted speed limit.

How to Think This Through

Consider the interests of the parties to this situation. While the interests of your company are clear enough, you have to consider the interests of those who might be affected if the car is built and sold. It is not only the drivers of superfast cars that are injured by them. On the other hand, if your company does not build the car, won’t some other company make an equally fast car? Does this make a difference?

Quandary #2: My Back Yard

A developer wants to build a casino immediately adjacent to your neighborhood. You recognize that the casino will benefit most of the community – except for those who live adjacent to it. You wonder if it is right to oppose the casino based on your interests and the interests of a few others in the community.

How to Think This Through

While you are correct to consider the benefits to all concerned, there is more to the story. You also need to consider the benefits of having a system of property use that protects property holders. So it comes down to whether the benefits to the community outweigh the benefits of protecting the rights of property holders. Be sure to factor in your own bias as someone directly affected by the casino.

Many such ethical quandaries come up in the daily life of those of us in business. When faced with such ethical challenges, how do you work them through and how do you respond when the ethics are doubtful?

In our next Soundview Live webinar, How to Make an Ethical Difference, Mark Pastin will argue that we all have an innate ethical sense—what he calls an “ethics eye.” He will offer tools for sharpening the ethics eye so we can see and do the right thing ourselves, particularly in the workplace, where our decisions can affect not just ourselves but coworkers, clients, customers, and even an entire organization.

With examples drawn from his decades of experience advising governments, corporations, and NGOs, Pastin will show how to identify competing interests, analyze the facts, understand the viewpoints, measure the benefits of different outcomes, and build consensus. You’ll gain confidence in your ethical sense, make better leadership decisions, and take actions that elevate the ethics of the groups and organizations you belong to—and society as a whole.

Join us on May 6th to learn about the tools that will help you with your next ethical dilemma, and bring your most challenging quandaries for Pastin to unravel.

Book Review: Grounded

by Bob Rosen

by Bob Rosen

The status quo for leaders in many organizations today is a never-ending chase to guarantee short-term results on a playing field that can have seismic changes in the span of an afternoon. If you are the leader standing on that unsteady surface, it’s easy to see how what begins as frustration can become a perpetual state of anxiety and, eventually, burnout. CEO advisor, organizational psychologist and best-selling author Bob Rosen attempts to give leaders a firm grip, rather than a mere foothold, on their own health as well as the health of their companies. In Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, Rosen provides leaders with the Healthy Leader model. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Rosen begins by having leaders confront the established belief that what you do defines who you are as a person. He asserts that to be grounded, you need the same thing as a tree: a firmly planted root system. Your roots define who you are which in turn drives what you do. He writes, “These roots give you the inner strength and mindset needed to handle all that is coming your way.”

Grounded then moves through the six personal dimensions that form the root system Rosen believes creates healthy leaders. The six health categories are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational and spiritual. Executives’ eyes may be immediately drawn to the last health category on the list. Rosen’s discussion of spiritual health is where his book separates itself from others. He identifies it as “belief in a higher purpose that gives you a mission in life, feeling a global connectedness that transcends cultures and borders, and showing a generosity infused with kindness and gratitude.” This may seem inconsequential to leaders swept up by meeting next quarter’s numbers, but as Rosen told Soundview in an interview, the health measurement that most accurately predicts a leader’s performance is spiritual health.

Grounded offers a good template for a leader to solidify his or her mindset. After all, in an unpredictable world, an individual should at least be able to depend on him- or herself.

Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies


For most of us, the Industrial Age refers to the late 19th-century explosion of large companies with large factories that fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Yet, as authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee explain in the opening pages of The Second Machine Age, their brilliant study of digital technologies, the Industrial Age was actually launched in 1775 — an era that for most Americans evokes colonial leaders with white wigs and tri-corned hats, not dirty factories belching dark smoke into the skies and thousands of smudge-faced children working dawn to dusk. What happened in 1775, of course, was James Watt’s invention (or, more accurately, the refinement) of the steam engine. The full impact of Watt’s steam engine on our society would not be felt until much later.

For the authors, humanity has reached a similar “inflection point” for the computer age. Companies have been buying computers for more than 50 years. Time declared the personal computer the “Machine of the Year” in 1982. But it is now, in the second decade of the 21st century, that “The full force of these technologies has recently been achieved,” the authors explain. “By ‘full force,’ we mean simply that the key building blocks are already in place for digital technologies to be as important and transformational to society and the economy as the steam engine.”

What Computers Can Do and Can’t Do

In a wide-ranging discussion of the joys and challenges of this “second machine age” — when, in the words of the authors, “computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power… what the steam engine and its descendants did for muscle power” — the authors give numerous examples of the opportunities created by digitization.

A GPS-based app called Waze is one example. A standard GPS will give you the standard route to your office based on its downloaded maps. However, Waze sends back to the company’s servers information transmitted by sensors on the smart phones of its members already on the road; this information can then relay to the person about to leave for work that, for example, an accident has closed down the main road on his usual route. Waze is one illustration of how technological capabilities only now available can truly make life better.

At the same time, the authors dismiss the notion that computers will be ruling the world. In an eloquent chapter called “Learning to Race With Machines,” the authors argue that ideation is out of the reach of computers. “Scientists come up with new hypotheses,” the authors write. “Chefs add a new dish to the menu. Engineers on a factory floor figure out why a machine is no longer working properly. Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple figure out what kind of tablet computer we actually want. Many of these activities are supported and accelerated by computers, but none are driven by them.”

The Good and the Bad

The Second Machine Age is a celebration of the “bounty” that the exponential digitization capacity offers. However, Brynjolfsson and McAfee are also not afraid to point out the potential downsides to digitization, notably what the authors term “spread,” which is the “ever-bigger differences among people in economic success — in wealth, income, mobility and other important measures.”

But the Industrial Revolution also brought serious, unacceptable consequences — widespread pollution and the scourge of child labor, to name just two, that a combination of democratic government and technological progress were able to overcome. The authors are convinced that the same combination of technology and the right policies can effectuate a similar result: a better life for all of us.