Friday Book Review! The Network Imperative by Jerry Wind, Megan Beck, Barry Libert

The Network Imperative
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Not too many years ago, the idea of a hotel chain that didn’t own a single building or an international taxi service that didn’t own any cars might have seemed ludicrous. Today, of course, we know there are international companies worth billions of dollars in market value whose business model depends on customers connecting with independent suppliers of the service — not on the ownership of physical assets. In The Network Imperative, authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Jerry Wind describe the scalable, networking-based business model that is revolutionizing industries. Ebay, Uber, TripAdvisor and even Visa are examples of companies built on a network business model. One could argue that network firms are specific to certain industries. The authors disagree. “Be aware,” they write. “Investor capital, customer revenue and affinity, top talent and market buzz are shifting away from established firms toward network organizations.” According to their research, “digital networks are entering almost every industry, even some of the most mundane.”

High Performance

A quick comparison by the authors of market values between traditional and what they call “network firms” is revealing. For example, Hertz boasts a $7 billion market capitalization; Uber’s valuation is listed at more than $70 billion. Other business-performance measures also highlight the value of network firms. For example…(click here to read the full review)

Review: The Go-Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David Mann

TheGo-GiverLeaderAt first glance, the setup for Bob Burg and John David Mann’s fable, The Go-Giver Leader, seems to be only tangentially about leadership. The main protagonist, Ben, is trying to close an M&A deal: He has been charged by his company to persuade the leaders of an acquisition target — a manufacturer of high-quality chairs — to let his firm buy the company.

While Ben is not in a leadership position, the authors convincingly demonstrate that Ben’s assignment requires him to do what leaders must do if they are to be successful: convince others to take action because they want to. By not having the power over those he’s trying to convince, Ben’s situation accurately reflects the current state of leadership today: Your title doesn’t buy you respect, and a command-and-control leadership style leads to the disengagement of those you lead — and eventual failure as a leader.

When he first arrives on the scene, Ben is convinced that his success depends on “take, take, take”: taking control, taking charge of the situation, taking command.

As the book advances, Ben meets the four company executives he must convince to sell. These four executives are each portrayed as successful leaders who inspire their employees and managers. Each of these four also represents four different facets of leadership.

Allen, one of two brothers who co-founded the company, represents vision. Through his conversation with Allen, Ben learns that the challenge is not to have a vision but to keep people focused on the vision — what Allen describes as “holding the vision.” This facet of leadership is summarized as leading from the mind.

Augustine, the other brother, represents empathy, or leading from the heart. One of the key lessons Ben learns is that pull is more effective than push. Counterintuitively, the more you yield, the more power you have.

Frank, the VP of production who has been with the company since its founding, represents grounding — that is, getting the job done. The best leaders, Ben learns, are people who can actually do the work. The key attribute here is to lead from the gut.

Finally, Karen, the VP of Finance and Personnel, represents the soul of the company. Karen is very supportive of employees undergoing life-changing, personal challenges. Through Karen, Ben learns the importance of leading with your soul.

With the help of a mysterious mentor — the friend of a friend whom he meets for daily lunches in a local restaurant, Ben is able to develop his four keys to legendary leadership:

1) Hold the Vision, 2) Build Your People, 3) Do the Work and 4) Stand for Something. Ben, however, learns the fifth and decisive key to leadership — Practice Giving Leadership — on his own (with a little help from his mentor) at the turning-point moment in the book. Giving leadership is based on the philosophy that great leadership is never about the leader. You are not the “deal,” which is, in fact, the reverse of “lead.” At the climax, Ben discovers that, indeed, “the best way to increase your influence is to give it away.” Burg and Mann, authors of the best-seller The Go-Giver Leader, have written a compelling fable that succeeds as both a thought-provoking learning tool and, rather surprisingly, as a work of fiction with an unexpected plot twist at the end

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China, India … Facebook?

Houston … we’ve reached Zeitgeist.

On Wednesday of this week, I read a few stories online about social networking site Facebook reaching 500 million users. Later that day, I watched ABC World News devote the bulk of an entire episode to the company. That evening, I went to a movie where one of the preview trailers was for the film The Social Network, a “based on a true story” account of the company’s founding. I devoted so much time that day to reading and hearing about Facebook that I was only able to check out Soundview’s Facebook page six or seven times.

All kidding aside, the social media site’s growth is awe-inspiring. Several like-minded media outlets wrote that if the site were a country, its population would make it the third largest on Earth. While everyone else is chipping in with their two cents about Facebook, we thought it was an opportune time to profile David Kirkpatrick’s new book The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World. You might be surprised at what we found out when we spent some time with this book.

Of course, the only place you’ll be able to see our exclusive coverage of The Facebook Effect is in the next edition of our e-newsletter Soundview Executive Book Alert. Never read it? It’s the best place to read reviews of books that are making waves, upcoming must-read titles, and books that may have escaped your radar. Here’s a link to a previous edition of Soundview Executive Book Alert.

Soundview Executive Book Alert is one of three e-newsletters currently offered at Best of all, they’re all FREE and you do NOT need to be a subscriber to read them. The Soundview Executive Book Alert featuring The Facebook Effect drops in less than 10 days. Sign up now and make sure you’re on the list!

Scanning the Reviews

Part of our weekly routine in the Soundview editorial department is to keep an eye on business book reviews that appear in other publications. We always feel a bit gratified when we see our peers touching on the same titles that populate Soundview’s various review outlets. While our main focus is summarizing the 30 best business books that are published in a given year, we use our reviews as a way to keep subscribers (and potential subscribers) current on books we believe could prove useful to executives.

As I was scanning various publications this week, I came across a review of the book Go-Givers Sell More. Authors Bob Burg and David Mann wrote this book as a follow-up to their 2007 business parable The Go-Giver. Business books that incorporate fiction as a means of instruction tend to polarize audiences. For those that enjoy business parables or fables, The Go-Giver is one of the more memorable books to come along. With Go-Givers Sell More, Burg and Mann smartly address the question that most detractors ask upon hearing about a business parable: “How does this apply to the real world?” It’s a worthwhile read and is already proving popular with people who had a resistance to the original book. It’s important to point out that while the original book could be read in an afternoon (it’s a little less than 150 pages), knowledge of The Go-Giver isn’t a prerequisite for the sequel.

The main reason I checked out The Dallas Morning News‘s review of Go-Givers Sell More was to see how it compared to our review of the book in Soundview Executive Book Alert.

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Alerting You to The Shift

I’ve received a few questions recently about our FREE e-newsletter Soundview Executive Book Alert. Actually, one of them made me chuckle because it said, “Are these books we should avoid? Is that why it’s called an alert?” This poor reader must perpetually see the glass as half empty, but I hope I can make him feel better with a proper explanation.

In point of fact, Soundview Executive Book Alert is intended to give anyone who signs up a quick look at a book that is either about to break through on the business publishing horizon or one that may have escaped a less discerning editorial staff. I’m fortunate that our editorial team keeps a very watchful eye on the happenings in the business book arena. We’ve uncovered a few gems during the past six years of writing Soundview Executive Book Alert.

This month, Soundview Executive Book Alert gives you a closer look at Scott M. Davis’ new release The Shift. We covered this book because we count a good number of Chief Marketing Officers among our subscriber base. If you’re in marketing, The Shift is a book that deserves your attention. Davis describes five shifts that need to occur to help a marketing department become part of the movement for pervasive innovation. When one considers that marketing sits in the enviable position of having access to both the people producing the product and the people buying the product, Davis’ ideas could help CMOs propel their careers to a new high point.

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