New Summary: The Spark and the Grind by Erik Wahl

the-spark-and-the-grind-hardcover-whiteWe’ve been conditioned to think about creative genius as a dichotomy: dreamers versus doers, the spark of inspiration versus the grind of hard work. But what if we’re wrong? What if it’s the spark and the grind? Erik Wahl, a visual artist, speaker and entrepreneur, helps us unite the yin and the yang of creativity — the dynamic new ideas with the dogged effort. He shows why we won’t get far if we rely on the spark without the grind or the grind without the spark. What the world really needs are the creators who can hold the two in balance to further innovation. Wahl offers surprising insights and practical advice about how to fan the sparks and make the grind more productive. He deftly synthesizes the wisdom of other artists, philosophers, scientists and business visionaries throughout history, and adds the secrets of his own practice. If you want to ensure constant creativity in your life and produce your most innovative work — this is your guide.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• To discover the creativity within yourself, as well as how to harness and cultivate that creative spark into something tangible.
• To trust the unpredictable nature of the creative process, and then develop a disciplined routine that will strengthen your creative drive.
• To embrace the unfamiliar, take risks and find comfort in being an amateur knowing that the unknown can only fuel those creative sparks.

New Executive Summary: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

bigBookWhat if, rather than you serving your business, your business served you? What if you could turn a profit from your very next deposit? And what if you had the power to guarantee that profitability? It’s possible, and the solution is simpler than you think. Mike Michalowicz, the author of perennial bestsellers The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and Surge, has developed a counter-intuitive cash-management system that has helped tens of thousands of small businesses break out of the doom spiral and achieve instant profitability. Now, you can do it too. Treating profit like an afterthought, secondary to growth, usually has the effect of running your business into the ground. Profit First takes a behavioral approach to accounting and flips the formula: Sales – Profit = Expenses. Just as one of the most effective weight-loss strategies is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Michalowicz shows how to take profit first and spend only what remains on expenses. With this one change, you will instantly transform your business from a cash-eating monster to a profitable cash cow.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• Why following four principles can simplify accounting and make it far easier to manage a profitable business by just looking at bank account balances.
• How taking your profit first both enforces frugality and inspires industry-changing innovation.
• That a small, consistently profitable business can be worth much more than a large business that struggles to sustain itself.

Friday Book Review! If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat! by Leonard Sherman

Speed Review: If You're in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!For many businesses, writes Columbia University professor Leonard Sherman, competition is a dogfight between rival firms viciously battling each other for market share. In his evocatively titled book, If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!, Sherman argues that the most successful strategy is not to engage in the dogfight but to do something completely different — to become the metaphorical “cat” of his title.

Sherman, who has been a partner, managing partner and senior partner at blue-chip consultancies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, J.D. Power and Associates and Accenture, offers a specific prescription for becoming a cat. This prescription is based on three strategic imperatives that, he writes, drive sustained profitable growth.

The first strategic imperative is continuous innovation, which is not an imperative for its own sake but is required in order to deliver the second strategic imperative: meaningful differentiation that is recognized and valued by customers. Meaningful differentiation, in turn, is enabled by the third strategic imperative: business alignment. Business alignment, writes Sherman, is “where all corporate capabilities, resources, incentives, and business culture and processes are aligned to support a company’s strategic intent.”

The Australians Are Coming!

Welcome to the U.S. wine market in the year 2000. Not only is the market crowded, but breaking into the U.S. is even tougher because most Americans prefer beer to wine. Yet, somehow, a new wine from a small vineyard in southeastern Australia would become the top-selling imported wine in the U.S. within five years after introduction. The secret? Casella Family Brands, which made and sold the upstart wine, decided to act like a cat. (click here to continue reading)

The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

ihwx.af499a77-ad19-4ec7-9813-561d73345847.200.175Innovation strategy and growth expert Clayton M. Christensen, and his co-authors Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon and David Duncan, present a new conceptual framework for products and innovation based on their conclusion that customers don’t “buy” products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. This Theory of Jobs suggests that understanding customers is not the driver of innovation – understanding customer jobs is. By understanding what causes customers to “hire” a product or service, any business can improve its innovation track record, creating products that customers not only want to hire, but that they’ll pay premium prices to bring into their lives. Competing Against Luck explains the framework and how to use it in your organization.

In this 8-page text and 20-minute audio summary of Competing Against Luck, you will learn:

  • An exciting new conceptual framework for products and innovation.
  • Why it makes more sense to focus on progress rather than products.
  • The pitfalls of relying on traditional consumer data.
  • How to understand and apply the Theory of Jobs to your organization.

Webinar 11/2: How to Think Like the Customer

How to Think Like the Customer

Date: Wednesday, November 2nd
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Stephen Wunker

Register here!

Successful innovation doesn’t begin with a brainstorming session—it starts with the customer. So in an age of unlimited data, why do more than 50% of new products fail to meet expectations? The truth is that we need to stop asking customers what they want . . . and start examining what they need.

In this Soundview Live webinar, How to Think Like the Customer, Stephen Wunker presents a simple concept that can remake how companies approach their markets and guide them through the innovation process.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to gather valuable customer insights
  • How to turn those insights into new product ideas
  • How to test and iterate until you find success

How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

shortcutsbookshaneHow do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? What do high-growth businesses, world-class heart surgeons and underdog marketers do in common to beat the norm?

In Smartcuts, entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow reveals that, one way or another, they do it like computer hackers. They employ what psychologists call “lateral thinking” to rethink the convention and break “rules” that aren’t rules. Snow shatters common wisdom about success, revealing how conventions like “paying dues” prevent progress, why kids shouldn’t learn times tables, and how, paradoxically, it’s easier to build a huge business than a small one. From SpaceX to the Cuban Revolution, from Ferrari to Skrillex, Smartcuts is a narrative adventure that busts old myths about success and shows how innovators and icons do the incredible by working smarter — and how perhaps the rest of us can, too.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The importance of lateral thinking for disruptive innovation.
• How to catch waves and capitalize on momentum in business.
• How to find the right mentors and become a superconnector.
• Why it’s easier to gain support for big causes than for incremental progress.

The Three-Box Solution by Vijay Govindarajan

Speed Review: The Three-Box SolutionIt’s an age-old problem for business: succeeding today while preparing for the future. One might think that today’s success lays the foundation for the future, but in business such thinking is a guaranteed path to failure. Just ask Kodak. Or Blockbuster. Each dominated their categories only to find themselves in bankruptcy court. While they were winning in the present, they were laying the groundwork for failure. In sum, what you do today to succeed has less relevance on what you’ll need to do tomorrow than you might think.

From Linear to Non-Linear

Hindsight is always 20/20, especially in strategy and innovation. In real-time, however, how to allocate attention and resources to maintain the present while building the future is far from obvious. Enter Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Tuck School of Business with a number of best-sellers on strategy and innovation to his name. In his new book, The Three-Box Solution, Govindarajan offers a framework, based on three boxes, that is both methodology and mindset for attacking the dual and often conflicting imperatives of succeeding today and preparing to succeed tomorrow.

Box 1, according to Govindarajan, is about managing the present — implementing the strategies, tactics and approaches required to operate at “peak efficiency.”

Box 2 is about forgetting the past — divesting businesses and letting go of practices and assumptions that are becoming obsolete.

Box 3 is about creating the future — developing new business models to ensure long-term success.

Companies must pay attention to all three boxes at once, which means, Govindarajan explains, focusing on both linear and non-linear innovation. Linear innovation is extrapolated from a company’s current activities. Non-linear innovation doesn’t build on current activities but, instead, targets new and old customers with new business models and products. Linear innovation is vital for success in Box 1; non-linear innovation is at the heart of Box 3.

It is perhaps Box 2, however, that holds the key to the entire framework. In order to transition from present to future, Govindarajan explains, you have to deal with the past. Toy- and game-maker Hasbro offers one example of how the three-box solution works. Launched in the 1920s by three brothers, Hasbro was known for its traditional products such as the Monopoly game. Its distribution model was simple: toy stores. With the arrival of the Internet, it’s distribution expanded to the web.

To keep customers coming back for more, Hasbro maintained its Box 1 linear innovations — for example, developing Star Wars-themed versions of its classic Monopoly and Mr. Potato Head.

However, it is Hasbro’s Box 3 non-linear innovations that have positioned the company for long-term success.

Click here to read the full review or sign up for our Executive Book Alert newsletter to get fresh reviews delivered to your inbox every month!

The Industries of the Future

While Alec Ross was working as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, he traveled to 41 countries, exploring the latest advances coming out of every continent. From startup hubs in Kenya to R&D labs in South Korea, Ross has seen what the future holds.

In The Industries of the Future, Ross shows us what changes are coming in the next 10 years, highlighting the best opportunities for progress and explaining why countries thrive or sputter. He examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics, cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data and the coming impact of digital technology on money and markets.

In each of these realms, Ross addresses the toughest questions: How will we adapt to the changing nature of work? How can the world’s rising nations hope to match Silicon Valley in creating their own innovation hotspots? The Industries of the Future takes the complex topics that many of us know to be important and boils them down into clear, plainspoken language. This is an essential book for understanding how the world works — now and tomorrow — and a must-read for businesspeople in every sector, from every country.

In this summary, you will learn:
• How robots will transform daily life and business opportunities.
• How digital technologies and big data can improve health and commerce around the globe.
• The dangers of cyberattacks and the growth of the cybersecurity industry.
• How countries can compete and succeed in the industries of the future.

Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability

The constant cascade of new technologies and social changes is creating a more empowered population. Workforces are increasingly dispersed, demanding of self-expression and quite possibly disengaged. Within this topsy-turvy context, leaders must spark creativity, drive innovation and ensure sustainability.

Get a FREE sample summary!

What are the remedies? The newest problems of the world find solutions in the oldest and timeless practices such as mindfulness, authenticity and perseverance –– because Everything Connects. Everything Connects is a kaleidoscopic view of the way humans –– by being able to think out of the box –– have been able to achieve greatness for themselves, their organizations and the world at large. It is your step-by-step guide for working with yourself and others for meaningful success.

Part philosophy, part business and part history, Everything Connects offers the wisdom of 2,500-year-old Eastern philosophies and the interconnected insights of Leonardo da Vinci. Couple that with Fortune 100 corporate cross pollination for creativity and startup thinking for how to adapt with ease, and you’ll quickly discover that Everything Connects.

This isn’t just a quick fix for your next financial quarter; this is how you succeed in the long run. It is a systemization of the best practices of spirituality and entrepreneurship –– loaded with knowledge, humor and humanity.

 

Join Best-Selling Author Tim Sanders for an Interactive Webinar

IF YOU GO:
The Secret Weapon to Sales Success
Date: Tuesday, March 22nd
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Tim Sanders

Click here to register

In this Soundview Live webinar, The Secret Weapon to Sales Success, Tim Sanders introduces “dealstorming,” a term for a structured, scalable, repeatable process that can break through any sales deadlock. This “Swiss Army knife for today’s toughest sales challenges” promises to fix the broken parts of the brainstorming process and reinvigorate account management for today’s increasingly complicated sales environment.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Utilize the seven-step Dealstorming process to gain positive results
  • Drive sales innovation by combining the wisdom and creativity of everyone who has a stake in the sale.
  • Collaborate with people from non-sales areas of your company, making it easier for them to own the execution and delivery after the deal is done.
  • Apply strategies that will lead to game-changing deals and long-term B2B relationships.