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

Bad Management, Company Culture and Workplace Mobbing

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Unhealthy and toxic organizational culture and leadership combine to create mobbing-prone organizations. Singling out an individual “bully” to blame and purge from the organization is generally a poor and wrong-headed solution to what is an organizational and not an individual problem.

In addition to multiple acts of proactive unethical communication, the ganging up and mobbing process also includes a form of unethical communication characterized by failure to act or silence in the face of worker mistreatment. These kinds of aggressive acts against a victim include acts of omission that involve failure to take action when action is called for. Such aggressive acts of omission are frequently committed by management and administration in their efforts to appear uninvolved in an escalating conflict that results in the mobbing of a victim.

Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying by Maureen Duffy Ph.D., Len Sperry Ph.D.

October is national bullying prevention month!

Leadership Within

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“True leaders, I learned, have heart and noble purpose. They draw strength from within to effect change in the wider world.”

Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World by Alyse Nelson

Entrepreneurs vs Suits

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“And that’s the absolute difference between corporate and entrepreneurial mind-sets. A suit looks at reports. If reports say this is selling, it’s design more of this. The entrepreneur says, “I feel a change coming around the bend, we need to get out of this and start getting into that. That is the new trend.” The corporate mind-set won’t do that unless they take a survey of one hundred people. The entrepreneur says, “It doesn’t matter what they say they want because they don’t know they want it yet.”

A good management team is able to meld what the entrepreneurial mind says is coming next and what the corporate mind says is working now. One is gut and the other is report.

The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor, Booth Moore

From the first chapter:

We just wanted to create something people loved and a work environment that made us happy. That’s our version of the American Dream. That’s the glitter plan.

The Importance of Polite Clarity

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“It was a new game. For us during that time, the secret to survival was to “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean.””

The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor, Booth Moore

From the first chapter:

We just wanted to create something people loved and a work environment that made us happy. That’s our version of the American Dream. That’s the glitter plan.

Labels and Human Relations

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“ If you label a woman, you then relate to her as if her identity is defined only by these names. A label reduces a person to one description whether or not she is acting that way in the moment. This makes it difficult for you or anyone else to step out of the stereotype and try on new behaviors.

Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds

Business Culture and Fear

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“Be upbeat and cultivate a culture of fun. People can’t be productive and creative in an office environment ruled by fear.”

The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor, Booth Moore

From the first chapter:

We just wanted to create something people loved and a work environment that made us happy. That’s our version of the American Dream. That’s the glitter plan.

Important Change

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The important changes begin with you and then spread outward to others.

Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman

Change and Self-Concept

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“If you want to change how you relate to others and run your life, you have to first transform your concept of self. If you try to change your behavior without first transforming who you think you are, the changes will last a few days until you quit thinking about them.

Before you can control the world around you, you must first master your thoughts and behaviors. Mastery starts with clarifying and expanding your self-concept.

Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds

True Friends Constructively Criticize

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If you can find friends or colleagues who will constructively criticize your work when you ask them, hang on to these people because they’re worth their weight in unobtainium.

Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman