Three Summaries We’d Like to See as Films

As predicted in this … very … blog …, The Social Network, the new film based on Ben Mezrich’s Facebook bio The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, debuted at number one at the box office last weekend. Don’t forget to send me your comments on the film, and while I wait, I’ll continue to track its box office progress.

While The Social Network is busy bringing in dollars, there is another film based on a business book that’s currently circulating. It’s hard to believe, but there is now a documentary based on Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

This sudden conjunction between Tinseltown and the generally stoic world of business books makes me believe that movie producers have finally wandered away from the graphic novel listings on and are now scrolling through business book listings for ideas. Far be it from me not to fall headlong into the Hollywood hype machine. I started thinking about what other business books could become great films. Here’s a list of three:

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni.I’m cheating a bit with this selection. Lencioni’s line of business fables lend themselves well to filming because they deliver their messages via fiction. In light of the fact that Lencioni chose to name his main character Jack Bauer, the easy pick to star in the film would be Keifer Sutherland. I’m going to go in a different direction and give Don Cheadle the role of the consultant who learns about building stronger relationships by honest communication.

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki. I can’t remember who said it, but someone said the following: If, in the fall of 1977, in the wake of Star Wars’ massive success, George Lucas charged admission to watch him stand in front of a chalkboard and explain what happened next to the film’s characters, it would still have grossed $100 million. That’s how I feel about Kawasaki and Reality Check. A brilliant book from one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable authors working today.

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. The winner of Soundview’s Harold Longman Award as Best Business Book of 2009, this book would make a fantastic film. If you attended the Soundview Live Webinar with Colvin, you saw video of a few individuals demonstrating the results of what Colvin terms “deliberate practice.” Imagine watching three tales of otherworldly abilities and the harsh reality of what it took to develop them.

What business book would you turn into a feature film or documentary? Send me a few suggestions and I’ll post the best ones in a future blog.

The Top Title … According to You

We asked. You answered, and I can not thank you enough. Soundview recently polled its subscribers for their vote for the best business book of 2009. We received an avalanche of votes and after running them through our various computational methods, we are pleased to announce that the 7th Annual Harold Longman Award for Best Business Book goes to Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

I can honestly say this was one of the most difficult  decisions we’ve put to readers in some time. We’re very careful in selecting the titles that reach our readers each month, but we’re often surprised to find that some of our 30 best each year are clear favorites among subscribers. The field of contenders this year was absolutely stacked. It included some of the most diverse, thought-provoking books from top name authors. Among the contenders were Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check, Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology and Keith Ferrazzi’s Who’s Got Your Back, to name just three. If these books were grapes growing on a vine, we may look back at 2009 as an exceptional vintage.

The debate was intense among readers and even within our own editorial department. It seemed as though everyone had a favorite title and (secretly, of course) we each were hoping it would be our “horse” that would be first across the finish line. I owe you fine folks in our reader base a debt of gratitude, because my personal favorite title came out on top.

If you’ve yet to read Talent is Overrated, there is no better time than the present. Colvin’s examination of the truth behind what we label world-class talent reveals that it has very little to do with chance. Examining notable names from the worlds of business, sports and the arts, Colvin digs deep to uncover the methods which led the best in these fields to their lofty positions. One aspect of the book which cinched it as my personal favorite is Colvin’s acknowledgment of the lonely, difficult path that many describe as the “curse of genius.” The book is an essential read for executives who wish to gain a better understanding of why some people soar so far above the rest … and what it takes to join those ranks. The journey through the forge of Colvin’s “deliberate practice” is something which reader’s are unlikely to forget.

Congratulations to Colvin for winning the Longman Award, and congratulations to you for another excellent selection!

Can We Take a Double-Dip?

Philip Kotler and John A. Caslione, authors of one of our more popular summaries of 2009 Chaotics, must be nodding with grim recognition that we continue to operate in, as they described it, “The Era of Turbulence.” I get the distinct impression that their book will be one of the summaries that continues to attract reader interest well into 2010.

This Reuters article notes President Barack Obama’s warning of the possibility of a “double-dip” recession. The United States is faced with a difficult road if it hopes to both use the power of government to spur economic recovery while also limiting the debt that the government takes on in the process. Obama’s upcoming forum on ways to lower the unemployment rate should give some indication of how feasible it will be to create job growth without increased debt.

The notion of this “double-dip” into recession is something that makes me glad we decided to summarize Geoff Colvin’s The Upside of the Downturn in our December 2009 edition. During our vetting process, we often debate a book’s shelf life because we want to ensure that our readers receive summaries to which they can return again and again. The shelf life of The Upside of the Downturn is a bit of a “good news/bad news” situation. The bad news will be if the U.S. economy does, in fact, take a second dip. The good news is Colvin’s book is an excellent resource for understanding how to navigate the unruly waters of the economic situation and prosper in the end. When we selected this book, I would argue that we chose it because it addressed an immediate need of our subscriber base. Much like Chaotics, our summary of Colvin’s book may prove to be one that sticks around  beyond even our own expectations.

You can check out The Upside of the Downturn as well as our other December summaries by visiting us at