Business Books and other Drivel

I’m a big fan of popular business books. I’ve been reading them since my introduction to Tom Peters and Bob Waterman wrote In Search of Excellence in 1988. I also go thru phases where I really enjoy the rah rah feeling that comes from self-help and motivational literature. These I make even better by listening to the author read them. You can’t beat Zig Ziglar talking about your need to, “Get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’!” or, my favorite Zig-ism, “Get a check up from the neck up!” Biographies of famous business leaders fall into this group for me as well. Everyone is caught up in some fallacious thinking. They believe that these successes are replicable by following the formula used (or discovered) by the author. This is only true in as much as the formula is basic common sense like work hard, eat right, get plenty of rest. The missing element is LUCK, or call it timing if you want to leave the mystique in it.

I recently read a post about Business Books on his Scientific American blog, Frontal Cortex. He makes the statement more harshly than I do. He thinks the authors completely miss the point. I agree that the y miss the point, but I like reading the stuff for the same reason that I periodically listen to Rush Limbaugh. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you can’t learn something.In every pop business book, or sappy self-help audio, I find something that is useful. Often, it’s a reminder of something that I learned a long time ago but have let slip away. Sometimes it’s completely new and forces me to re-evaluate some heartfelt beliefs that may not be serving me well any more.

I’m constantly experimenting with my Indianapolis computer consulting business. My goal is to create an organization that is good at what it does; where people enjoy working; and where we make a positive impact on our communities. I’m more than willing to learn from the experience of others as I travel along the path. I won’t take any of this stuff wholesale and expect to have the meteoric results that get written about, but I do hope that one day, some Harvard Business Review author selects my company to interveiw for one of their latest vignettes.

The Third Place

I read Howard Schultz’s book about the beginning of Starbuck’s. I started reading it because I had heard a rumor that 16 years passed between the opening of the first and second Starbuck’s and that was inspirational to me as we entered our 16th year at Port-to-Port Consulting. It turned out, the rumor wasn’t true. In fact, Starbuck’s became a different company when Schultz bought out the original owners who had declared his idea for growth to be counter to what they believed their company was.

This is interesting now as Schultz returns to the helm of Starbuck’s as the repeat CEO, ala Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and, to a lesser extent, Ted Waitt at Gateway. His principal complaint is that Starbuck’s has lost its vision, his vision, that they become the Third Place (after work and home). Even more interesting is the fact that I’m sitting in a McDonald’s writing this.

I was inspired by Schultz’s book. I added him to my list of interesting people with whom to have dinner. He did have a vision for his company, which isn’t inspiring in and of itself. The inspiration came from the way in which he got LOTS of people to see his vision and share in making it come true. I have a vision for my company. It’ a BIG vision. After reading “Pour Your Heart into It,” I realized that my problem is figuring out how to communicate that vision in a meaningful and inspirational way to the people who can help me make it reality.

I’ll watch closely to see how Schultz performs in round two. Will he look like Jobs or Waitt? I hope he brings Starbuck’s back. I’d like to be sitting in the Third Place while writing future posts.