Category Archives: recommended reading

Some good business advice from a Canadian cabinet minister in the 1960's government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Imagine that!

I'm reading "Renegade in Power" by Peter C. Newman and he is describing the colourful George Hees who was responsible for Trade and Commerce and was determined to push Canadian businesses toward new international opportunities. He often wore a tie clip (it was the 6o's) that consisted of the letters Y.C.D.B.S.O.Y.A. Visitors to his office couldn't help notice as he fidgeted with it until they finally asked what it meant.

He would obligingly exclaim "You Can't Do Business Sitting On Your Ass!" More direct than they were used to hearing form cabinet ministers, but they did remember the sentiment.

Just another reminder that we can learn from history.

Harvey Mackay has some great suggestions on learning from dogs. Here is an extract from his recent newsletter (Nov.6/08).

We can learn a lot from dogs. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal anyone has ever made.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Dogs treat us like celebrities when we come home. There's nothing wrong with showing people that we care about them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. On warm days, there's nothing wrong with stopping to lie on your back on the grass. I think of Richard Gere's character in the movie Pretty Woman. He was so busy working—doing big business deals—that he never stopped to enjoy walking barefoot in green grass until Julia Roberts showed him.

Take naps. Many of us are on overload, so in life you have to know when to throttle up and throttle down. If you can't take a nap, at least take a break. It will improve your disposition.

Run, romp, and play daily. If you have a chance to have fun, go for it. Life presents plenty of difficult times, and we all need a break every now and then. My motto: work hard and play hard.

Let people touch you. Don't be aloof. Allow people to get close to you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. Just make sure your bark isn't as bad as your bite. It's okay to warn people that you're upset or even angry, but keep your temper in check.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Happiness is the American way. After all, the Declaration of Independence says we are endowed "with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." So we have a right to be happy!

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Exercise is always good. I've been doing it all my life. It just makes me feel better, gives me energy to work more productively and, I hope, live longer. My philosophy is: Exercise doesn't take time; it makes time.

Be loyal. In a recent column about loyalty, I wrote that one of the first qualities that I look for in both employees and friends is loyalty. And my friends know they can expect my loyalty in return.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. I'm constantly asked what the secret of success is, and persistence is at the top of the list. When you study truly successful people, you'll see that they have made plenty of mistakes, but when they were knocked down, they kept getting up ... and up ... and up.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. People remember two things in life—who kicked them when they were down, and who helped them on the way up.

Mackay's Moral: My goal is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.

For more from Harvey visit: harveymackay.com.

An interesting approach to leadership lessons by Donald E. McHugh. His book "Golf and the Game of Leadership" takes us from the practice tee to the 19th hole with some ideas that are common to success in golf, in business and in life.

It's worth a read just for some memorable analogies that will help you with some basic concepts and principles of leadership. McHugh has relevant personal experience as a corporate leadership trainer and as a golfer and does a good job of tying it all together within the framework of a round of golf.

I noticed on a recent visit to the bookstore that books on golf and business are remarkably similar.

Catchy titles: "The six rules for success", "The only book you'll ever need to need to read" , "Learn from the pros", etc. .... And the selections are similar; mastering techniques, applying psychology, or success stories from the past.

But in business and in golf, studying the subject and knowing the principles for success are not enough. You have to practice and get better by doing it.

Learning from experience and not just experiencing the experience will make all the difference.

Seymour Schulich's recent book "Get Smarter" is a disappointment.

In spite of the reviews and promotional news releases that it's full of brilliant insights, it is instead full of clichés and old anecdotes borrowed from Aesop's Fables or father's favourite tales. Not the wisdom and lessons of life and business and that you would expect from a prominent Canadian billionaire.

More a confirmation of the power of money to buy respect and admiration that Mr. Schulich has already demonstrated by his conspicuous donations to Canadian universities. I don't know him, but I have an impression that Mr. Schulich is most impressed with himself and acted on the urge to say "I'm very rich so I must be pretty smart and people should listen to my advice." He offers his opinions on China, the Middle East, and his favourite movies (why is that relevant?) A good friend or editor should have told him not to embarrass himself. He doesn't need the money or the attention from writing a book.
He does have old-fashioned views and strong opinions on some subjects that are both surprising and interesting and the Appendix describing his lucky strike in Nevada is more revealing of how to become a billionaire. Still not enough to justify the price or the time to read the whole book.
A Peter C. Newman story of his life and times would have been more interesting, but probably not as flattering for Mr. Schulich.

I'm currently reading Stephen Covey's latest - "The 8th Habit"; following of course his best selling "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".

On the subject of management and leadership he summarizes the themes and concepts of many other authors. (Give him credit for some humility.) What sticks with me are the stated principles of: 1. Set the direction, 2. set an example, 3. define the values, 4. provide the systems; then let people manage themselves.

My own summary of management has always been simply to communicate the objectives and then remove the obstacles to achieving them. The guiding principles may be simple, it doesn't mean they are easy to follow.

It's not trivial. One thought or idea leads to another.

I mentioned Dale Carnegie's original successful book written in 1936 and wondered if he was related to the famous American industrialist named Carnegie. Maybe he was just a lazy rich kid with the time to philosophize and write about "winning friends and influencing people". How to find out? I thought of Wikipedia, partly inspired by a recent article on Wikinomics in Canadian Business by Don Tapscott, Canadian philospher,writer and commentator on technology trends.

So I searched Google (of course) to find the Wikipedia entry and learned the following, plus a bonus marketing tip!:

Born in 1888 in Maryville, Missouri, Carnegie was a poor farmer's boy, the second son of James William Carnagey and Amanda Elizabeth Harbison.[1] In his teens, though still having to get up at 4 a.m. every day to milk his parents' cows, he managed to get educated at the State Teacher's College in Warrensburg. His first job after college was selling correspondence courses to ranchers; then he moved on to selling bacon, soap and lard for Armour & Company. He was successful to the point of making his sales territory, southern Omaha, the national leader for the firm.[citation needed]
Perhaps one of Carnegie’s most successful marketing moves was to change the spelling of his last name from “Carnegey” to Carnegie, at a time when Andrew Carnegie was a widely revered and recognized name.

More fascinating facts, or useless trivia. You decide.

Two long summer weekends and two short weeks every year at the end of June. (Unique to Québec?) Followed by the so-called "construction holiday" where almost everyone leaves for the last two weeks of July. Hard to be productive with clients or any other business partners during this period.

Should be a good time for blogging, but other summer attractions have more appeal. All of which is to admit I don't have much new to say.

Some more progress on summer reading and my reviews for your consideration:

  • Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky. A classic on my "must read" list. Written in the Russia of the 186o's and considered the original psychological murder mystery. Intriguing and very different from the modern murder mystery as it is told primarily from the point of view of the murderer.
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. One of the originals (consider also Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.) written in the 1930's and still worth a read. Not so serious or so slick as the current crop of self-help books that are so effectively mass marketed. Adds some perspective to the basic skills required to be effective in working with other people.

I've also agreed to teach two summer courses in Financial Management at Concordia so I'm reviewing the current textbook, "Principles of Corporate Finance" by Gitman and Hennessey. The principles haven't changed in the thirty years since my MBA and the first time I taught the course, but the text is well done and covers the elementary to the advanced topics.

Happy summer reading on your own list.

Now that I've said I'm committed to blogging for the greater good, more than just the personal satisfaction, I'm going to have to keep it up.

Flurry of topics to consider - more business advice from Uncle Ralph, comments on the Virginia Tech massacre, business issues discussed at lunch, or the best seller I finally bought "Good to Great" by Jim Collins?

Let's settle on the latter - best business books that must be read if you're serious about being a better manager or running a more successful business.

On my list:

  1. Built to Last, also by Jim Collins
  2. In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Tom Waterman(?) the original business best seller that is claimed to have started an industry.
  3. Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management by Blaine McCormick and the Autobiography of Ben Franklin by Ben himself (obviously).
  4. Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay
  5. The Bootstrapper's Bible by Seth Godin
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  7. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

And on your recommended reading list?