Book Summary of Leadership Moment – Nine Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All

Every day, there are new leadership books released on the market. No matter how good new books are, sometimes it is best to supplement that knowledge with a broader understanding of leadership advice. For that, it’s good to turn to the classics. Released in 1998, Michael Useem’s The Leadership Moment: Nine Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All quickly became one of those classics. The Leadership Moment details the moving and extraordinary stories of nine great leaders.

In the first chapter, Useem details the story of Roy Vagelos, a senior executive at Merck. Vagelos decided to develop a drug for river blindness, a fatal disease that affects 20 million people worldwide. The disease is spread by flies that live in fast-moving rivers, hence the name. Vagelos spent millions of dollars to successfully develop a drug – Mectizan – to help cure and prevent river blindness. He did that despite the knowledge that most of the people who need the drug lived in the world’s poorest places and wouldn’t be able to afford. He decided that he wanted Merck to be a company that put health before profits.

The second chapter details a story of leadership failure, when one of the commanding fire fighters with the Forest Service failed to tell the members of his team about his plans before having them all parachute into a massive blaze. As a result, 13 people of his 15-person team died.

The next story is a little more commonly known – the story of Apollo 13. Useem details the leadership successes that allowed flight director Eugene Kranz to guide the ship back to safety even after problems arose.

Useem also tells about the first all-female team’s ascent of Annapurna, Joshua Chamberlain’s defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg, Clifton Wharton’s restructuring of the retirement system for college professors, John Gutfreund’s loss of the Wall Street company Salomon Inc., Nancy Barry’s leadership contributions to Women’s World Banking, and Alfredo Christiani’s ending of years of civil war in El Salvador.

Some of the major takeaway messages from the nine stories Useem tells are:

Inaction can be just as bad as the wrong action.

Good leaders know how to listen.

You should always have a clear image of where your company needs to go in order to achieve success.

Don’t be overconfident – even when the end goal seems simple.

Managers need to provide employees with the tools to implement their own decisions.

Creating bonds and building a strong culture is always of value.

Expect the highest level of performance from your team.

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Book Summary of Influence by Robert Cialdini

Leadership is a gift granted by God. There are different categories in which leadership is applied in various life occasions. In most cases, there are some procedures which are followed in order to choose these leaders. The leaders we choose may either accept the responsibility that they are given or they may also decide to decline. Have you ever thought of what makes most of the people to accept every opportunity they are given? Do you know the criteria used in making of such wonderful decisions in life?

Robert Cialdini conducted his research and came up with various results on his findings. In fact, his research was not only based on leadership. It covered a wide range of activities that involves decision making. These activities are comprised of different personalities like; fundraisers, salespersons, investors, advertisers and many other individuals. From his report based on psychology, he found out that most of these people’s decisions are a result of persuasion and other factors like compliance and many others. In his book, ‘Influence’, he states out all the factors that lead to such decisions being made by these people. He also states all the possible circumstances that can make these people to make such decisions.

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Book Summary of Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder – focuses on the value of relaxation and taking a step back from your career in order to be more successful at it.

The inspiration for Huffington’s fourteenth book came from an incident in 2007. In March of that year, Huffington woke up on the floor of her office in a puddle of blood. She had pushed herself to the limit, working constantly and not getting enough sleep – and as a result she had passed out and hit the corner of her desk. She broke her cheekbone and needed five stitches on her left eye.

That moment was a wake-up call for the media mogul.

The fall proved to be a moment of clarity that caused Huffington to reevaluate her priorities in life. She told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I had to slow down and reevaluate the choices I was making. The reality was I couldn’t do it all.” Eventually, she came to the realization that one of the choices she needed to change was how she chose to define success. She had been focusing on the acquisition of money and power, but at a great personal cost. That fall caused her to realize that personal health and well-being needed to play a larger role in her understanding of success.

Huffington explained, “Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power. In fact, at this point, success, money, and power have practically become synonymous in the minds of many. This idea of success can work – or at least appear to work – in the short term. But over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool – you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.”

That third leg – which Huffington calls the third metric of success – is something she defines as well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. None of these are things that people traditionally think about in measuring success, but as Huffington sees it, we need to redefine success.

In Thrive, she writes, “It is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like: ‘The crowning achievement of his life was when he made senior vice president.’ Or: ‘He increased market share for his company multiple times during his tenure.’ Or: ‘She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.’ Or: ‘He never made it to his kid’s Little League games because he always had to go over those figures one more time.’ Or: ‘While she didn’t have any real friends, she had six hundred Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her in-box every night.’ Or: ‘His PowerPoint slides were always meticulously prepared.’ Our eulogies are always about the other stuff: what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.”

To achieve that third metric and create a better kind of success, Huffington advocates for meditation, completely unplugging from electronic devices, taking real vacations, and – most importantly – getting enough sleep. In fact, she has actually installed nap pods at the Huffington Post office. She doesn’t just write about her values – she actually implements them in her own life and the lives of others.

So what are the take away lessons from Arianna Huffington’s success story? Most importantly, make sure you are seeking the right kind of success. If you seek a version of success that will make you miserable, all your achievements will feel hollow.

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Book Summary of Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan

If you are an entrepreneur, this is the best book for you to become the best seller ever in the current market. This book that talks about matters related with economics and if well used, you will always see yourself excelling in your business more than you expected.

In this book, there are very important issue touching on the most important things in our businesses that will help us fit in this economical world. This book was especially dedicated to individuals who would love to fit in the current economical society. The readers need to me more careful while reading through this book and understand all the points touched on in the book for they are ell important in this economical society.

Charles Wheelan’s Naked Economics educates its readers on engaging themselves in pleasure and having confidence in some factors which are deeply relevant to their business and not those that are not of any value to the progress of the business. There are very important topics discussed in this new book. These topics include; globalization, the current crisis about the economy, politics and many others. The book has translated all the required actions in to words that can be read and understood.

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Book Summary of Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success

Many people may not think of happiness as being a prerequisite for success. Usually you think of happiness as be a result of success, not a cause of it. In fact, happiness in correlated to a higher success rate. But how do you get to a place of happiness if you aren’t already successful? In Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, Harvard-trained researcher Shawn Achor explains what comes before happiness and how to achieve the happiness that you need in order to be successful.

The book draws heavily on Achor’s extensive research, but it also provides some compelling anecdotes along the way. Although the book creates a bit of its own jargon, it is all quite adequately explained. Essentially, he says that happiness is not blind optimism, but rather it is the ability to focus on the positives of a situation in spite of the negatives. That positivity that Achor says precedes happiness is something that is actually achievable, and Achor provides certain tips and processes for developing that positivity. That is, this isn’t just a documenting of general principles – the book also contains concrete advice based on research.

Achor explains finding happiness as a five-step process:

Focus on the most valuable reality.

That is, learn to focus on the reality that is most helpful to you – and usually that means focusing on the positives. You can still acknowledge the negatives without dwelling on them and focusing primarily on them.

Map your success.

Set your goals in life around the things that matter to you most. For instance, the thing that is most important to you might not be your career, so your idea of success wouldn’t be career-focused in this case. It’s important to judge your success by the right goals – and not by what you think the right goals are.

Find the X-spot.

Achor explains how “success accelerants” can help propel you more quickly toward your goals.

Learn noise-canceling.

That is, learn to focus on the positive and not the negative.

Positive inception.

Transfer your positivity to the people around you. If you’re in a leadership position, this step can be particularly valuable both for helping you achieve success and for helping the company achieve success.

Although it stands on its own just fine, Before Happiness was written as the follow-up to another book, The Happiness Advantage. So if you find that you like this book, Achor’s other New York Times bestseller might be a good read for you as well.

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Book Summary of Start with WHY by Simon Sinek

Why do some companies succeed while other similar companies fail? Why do some managers excel at getting their employees into high gear while others garner yawns? Questions like these are at the heart of the discussion in Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

Sinek, a business consultant, says that instead of concentrating simply on “what” – for instance, what products or services a company offers or “how” it should accomplish these things, an organization should instead examine the “why”. This is the basis of inspiration, both from a company’s operational standpoint as well as from a consumer’s viewpoint. In other words, why do people choose to buy from Company A as opposed to Company B?

As the foundation of his theory, Sinek explains that companies and their leaders should operate according to what he calls the Golden Circle, a series of three concentric circles prioritized in importance from the center out. At the center is “Why”. Why does a company exist? Beyond the obvious goal of business success and gain, what does it hope to accomplish? Around that circle is “How” or the operational details of doing what it does. The final outer circle is “What”. He says the most successful companies and leaders take a contrarian point of view, focusing on the why and letting the how and the what fall into place.

He uses Apple Corporation and its founder Steve Jobs as an example. From the “what” perspective, Apple computers are comparatively more costly than similarly appointed PCs, require proprietary parts when repairs are needed, have less software available for use, and are not necessarily the fastest computers on the market. That said, the choice of purchasing a Mac or a PC is basically apples versus oranges. The swaying factor, in Sinek’s view, is the way that Apple portrays itself to the public. Their slogan “Think Different” conjures images of the rebel or the individual – all of which speak to the purpose of why Apple, as a company came into being in the first place. When a consumer understands and believes in a company’s “why” they will buy the “what”. People are loyal to companies they identify with and with whom they feel represent their own nature. Furthermore, it is Apple’s “why” that allows them to successfully branch out into other markets. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad are all innovative products matching the company’s image as a trailblazer.

Sinek goes on to explain how “why” not only helps a business itself, but also its employees. By having a clear vision of its purpose, a CEO or manager of a company inspires its workers toward clear-cut goals and responsibilities. Keeping this vision at the forefront of all actions and dealings inspires employees to look beyond the mundane day-to-day operational concerns and elevate themselves and the company to the next level.

While “Start With Why” doesn’t offer step-by-step plans of action to duplicate Apple’s success, it does give a thorough explanation of the conceptual lessons needed to follow in the footsteps of many successful organizations and leaders. These include:

The theory of the Golden Circle – the what, how, and especially why of doing business.

Reasons a company or leader should focus primarily on “why” instead of “what” and how this impacts future success and growth.

Details on why customer loyalty follows certain patterns and how to take advantage of it.

How “why” influences a leaders effectiveness in inspiring workers in all levels of an organization and how this can make or break it.

Utilizing the principles outlined in “Start With Why” can create the necessary inspiration needed to take your leadership style or organization to new heights. This translates into greater stability, a bigger bottom line, and most important of all, a clearly defined vision of why you do what you do and the satisfaction it brings.

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Book Summary of The Art of Start by Guy Kawasaki

There are several things that a very successful entrepreneur should have in order to be successful. These things include; an idea in the business he/she wants to engage in, a garage, and most importantly this book.

This book, ‘The Art of the Start’, clearly states that there is never a guarantee of having the best results in everything you do no matter how perfect you may do it. There are some businessmen who justifies that after they read this book, their business have now grown in to international businesses. This is because most of them were originally using bad techniques. They were forced to start again after realizing the important basics they were supposed to follow.

Guy’s book reveals most of the things that many entrepreneurs never think that they exist and that they can be useful in the business. Other authors like Jay Conrad Levinson, the author of Guerilla Marketing series of books, say that anyone who would love to change the world in the business sector should read Guy’s “Art of the Start”. This is because of the great discoveries and findings found in this book reveals all the secrets of a successful beginner in business.

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Book Summary

One thing that can have a huge impact on your career path is your level of motivation. Whether you have the drive to get ahead and stay ahead is dependent on whether you have the motivation to put in the necessary legwork. If you’re looking to learn more about motivation — how to maintain it and how to develop it – then Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us may be a great book to consider adding to your shelf.

Drive draws on decades of scientific research to show the disconnect between the motivational techniques and practices used in the business world and the techniques that science has shown to be most effective. After shattering certain basic – but unfounded – beliefs about motivation, he goes on to examine the elements of motivation and provide helpful techniques for implementing them into your daily life. The book is part easy-to-read analysis of studies and part toolkit. The toolkit portion in the back provides various tools to help you with the specific points mentioned in the book and also with other motivational issues in general.

Some of the most valuable takeaway points Pink details are:

1) Extrinsic rewards are not effective. In other words, the carrot-and-stick approach doesn’t work. In olden days, when most jobs were routine, repetitive physical tasks, the carrot-and-stick approach was effective. These days,

2) Rewards can narrow your focus. Pink presents an example involving a creative problem solving exercise and goes on to cite research indicating that untimed study participants solved the exercise more quickly than timed participants. The reason, Pink says, is because rewards can narrow your focus.

3) Self-determination theory (SDT) is a better motivational approach. SDT, which Pink explains in detail, basically says that people are motivated by the drives for autonomy, mastery, and purpose – all of which are distinctly different from the motivation for reward.

4) If you create the right environment, you can keep your employees motivated by offering the right possibilities for autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose. Although these may seem tricky, Pink provides good advice on how to create an environment that fosters these.

Pink is a solid business author with some great credentials for his published works. His earlier works have been New York Times bestsellers, Wall Street Journal Business bestsellers, and Washington Post bestsellers – and based on the popular reaction, it seems that Drive is well on the way to joining that crowd.

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