Book Review: It’s Not About You

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“Give people something good to live up to—something great—and they usually will. In fact, often they’ll even exceed those expectations.”

This book reads like a novel. It’s a lovely, heartwarming, story about a manager trying to coordinate a merger between a small family business and a larger corporation.

He’s there to convince people, persuade them to do what his employer wants them to do. He’s there to meet his own career objectives. While he achieves his goals, he also learns crucial lessons about doing business both ethically and effectively – about negotiating a win-win situation and about leading a people toward goals that may not be clear to everyone involved.

“The single biggest challenge to any organization is the constant cloud of fear and doubt that swirls around the heads of the people involved. As a leader, your job is to hold fast to the big picture, to keep seeing in your mind’s eye, with crystal clarity, where it is you’re going—that place that right at this moment exists only in your mind’s eye. And to keep seeing that, even when nobody else does. “Especially when nobody else does.” Your people count on you to do this. It’s the biggest job you have.”

This isn’t the business management version of a Christmas Carol. The main character is a far cry from the wicked Mr. Scrooge. In fact, he’s essentially a really good guy with some rather standard perspectives on management and business. This is a story about a good guy transforming into a better guy – a better manager and a better person.

“Building a business takes skill, work, and materials . . . but those are details. More than anything else, building a business—really, building anything—is an act of faith. Because you’re creating something out of nothing, you see?”

It’s a light read filled with truly useful advice, making it the perfect business book to pick up over the holidays.

It’s Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business by Bob Burg, John David Mann

Prison Industrial Complex

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This article has a lot of good things to say: Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex, Color Lines by Angela Y. Davis (09/10/1998)

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Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by U.S.-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as “Prison Blues,” as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is “made on the inside to be worn on the outside.” Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

The Culture of Complicity

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Amazon.com

“But I think there is something deeper going on here, and it turns on the very nature of bureaucratic systems. Such institutions always create a culture of complicity. It’s not just that some people get to break the rules—it’s that loyalty to the organization is to some degree measured by one’s willingness to pretend this isn’t happening.”

“Career advancement is not based on merit, and not even based necessarily on being someone’s cousin; above all, it’s based on a willingness to play along with the fiction that career advancement is based on merit, even though everyone knows this not to be true. Or with the fiction that rules and regulations apply to everyone equally, when, in fact, they are often deployed as a means for entirely arbitrary personal power.”

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

Business Law: Intellectual Property Theft

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“Put as much in writing as possible and save that documentation. By creating a paper trail, you’ll have proof of your concept if it does go to court. Keep a log of every discussion you have where details of your business are disclosed. This log could come in handy if you find one of those conversations go somewhere.”

7 Simple Ways You Can Protect Your Idea From Theft, Forbes.com, by Drew Hendricks

Amazon.com

“To make sure your next million dollar idea isn’t stolen or copied, we enlisted the help of specialists in “idea security” to find out how you can avoid becoming a hard luck story…Rather than trying to avoid attention, flag ideas as your own even at an early stage. “Use the right symbols in your media and marketing material alerts,” recommends David Bloom, head of Safeguard iP, a specialist Intellectual Property (IP) insurance broker. Patent and design numbers can be added later…”

5 ways to stop your ideas being stolen, CNN.Com, by Kieron Monks

Amazon.com

“Turn to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for help. Fortunately, patents aren’t the only tools available to protect our ideas. First, file a provisional patent application. You can do this yourself online or use a template such as Invent + Patent System or Patent Wizard to help you. The USPTO also has call centers available with staff members on hand to answer questions and offer guidance.”

How to Protect Your Business Idea Without a Patent, Entrepreneur.com, by Stephen Key

“Tortious interference with business occurs when another person directly interferes with a business’s ability to operate. This offense usually involves other offenses, such as defamation. However, if a person steals your idea and then actively works to prevent you from bringing your idea to fruition, this could constitute tortious interference.”

What Is the Legal Term for Stealing a Business Idea?, AZCentral.com, by Van Thompson

“I say do what you can. Do the legal end when it’s practical, but don’t trust it. Don’t think it solves the problem.

You’ll never get a legitimate investor to sign one of those documents before you pitch. If an investor signs off on a non-disclosure, she’s just ruled out a whole class of business she can never invest in without risking legal action. They just don’t do it.

And, I think lots of people who you might want as team members would be put off with the idea of signing a legal document before talking about it. I would.”

How to Really Protect Your Business Idea, BPlans.com, by Tim Berry

Business Law: Libel, Slander and Defamation

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“Libel and slander are types of defamatory statements. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement…slander is an oral defamatory statement, so those statements can be made anywhere and to anyone — as long as it’s to a third party, meaning someone other than the person who is allegedly being defamed. If you tell your best friend something defamatory about person X, person X could sue you for defamation if he/she could prove that he/she was damaged as a result of your statement.”

Libel vs. Slander: Different Types of Defamation, NOLO.com, by David Berg

“”Defamation” is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel,” and spoken defamation is called “slander.” Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming.”

Defamation Law Made Simple: Learn the basics of slander and libel — the rules about who can say what without getting into legal hot water, NOLO.com, by Emily Doskow

“Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images. The laws governing these torts are identical…To prove that the material was defamatory, the plaintiff must show that at least one other person who saw or heard it understood it as having defamatory meaning. It is necessary to show not that all who heard or read the statement understood it to be defamatory, but only that one person other than the plaintiff did so. Therefore, even if the defendant contends that the communication was a joke, if one person other than the plaintiff took it seriously, the communication is considered defamatory.”

Libel and Slander, The Free Dictionary

“The general harm caused by defamation is identified as being ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, belittled or held in contempt by others, and lowers him/her in esteem of a reasonably prudent person, due to the communication of the false statement. This tort can result in a lawsuit for damages.”

“Malice – if intentional malice can be shown/proven, than the act usually qualifies as defamation for damage to one’s reputation. However, even without this, if it is obvious that the statement would do harm and that it is untrue, one can still pursue this tort if he/she can demonstrate actual/tangible harm, such as loss of business (called special damages).”

Defamation Law – Guide to Libel and Slander Law, HG.Org

“Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation. On one hand, people should be free to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. Discourse is essential to a free society, and the more open and honest the discourse, the better for society.”

Defamation, Libel and Slander, Defamation Law: The Basics, FindLaw.com

“defamation: n. the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel and, if only oral, it is slander…Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime, having a feared disease or being unable to perform one’s occupation are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed.”

Defamation on Law.com

“Defamation—also calumny, vilification, and traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.”

Defamation on Wikipedia