Book Review- What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School

This book basically talks about the resourceful skills needed to succeed in a business and ultimately grow. It is a “street smart” book that emphasizes on the human aspect of running a business. “Business schools are not meant to teach you everything about succeeding in the real world, personal interactions and self-disciplines are more important than theories, raw data and Excel sheets” Mark McCormack emphasizes on the importance of reading people, creating impressions, taking the edge, getting ahead, making sales, negotiating, problem solving and general business growth.

McCormack believes that everything in a business revolves around people. You are either selling, managing or working with people. Therefore, giving insight into people by observing how they carry themselves will tell you more about the person. When watching people it’s important to listen and observe aggressively, talk less and listen more, take a second to look on someone’s first impression, take time to use what you’ve learnt, be discrete and detached. Always be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and how these are likely to slant your reaction to others, nothing blocks insight into other people more than your own ego.

The Best salesmen possess a sixth sense. They can tell by the tone of someone’s voice, atmosphere and mood. They understand that rejection can be the greatest motivation overtime. Salespersons should not be discouraged by failure. In sales, rejections are never personal, you have to understand that timing is critical. Timing is everything in business that even a good idea could fail at bad timing. Know when to follow up and look at the right moment. Perfective selling is tied to timing, patience, persistence and adapting to your clients. It is critical to know when to talk and when to keep silent. Market your product with enthusiasm and understand when someone won’t buy from you. Learn to take initiative and do not be greedy, pushy or impatient but keep looking for the edge. If you don’t know find someone who knows and learn. Admit you need help by simply asking and expanding your knowledge. Acknowledge that sometimes you could be wrong.

Mark McCormack extends the argument to the quality of entrepreneur’s life. Big performance in business require nurturing of passion .It is very important to understand what you are good at and grow at your own pace. Schedule out your entire day, this helps in time management and trusting your system. In building a business always do what you’re passionate in, start small, have realistic goals, grow slowly, diversify expertise and keep learning. If you focus on excellence and efficiency you are assured to make your way to success much clear.

Book Review: GREAT BY CHOICE by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

This book is not a business quest but a human quest. It is relevant and very insightful as principles outlined, when applied, it just doesn’t react to event but shapes events. Companies can form new lens and enduring quest as they simply do not know what the future holds.

Uncertainties, chaos, luck, global competition and disruption in markets has rendered some companies irrelevant while others have thrive and became master of their own fate despite having the same business model, same opportunity/challenges and from the same industry. The future is unknown, the world has therefore awoken from false sense of stability, safety and wealth entitlement. Companies can’t predict the future but they can create, prevail, succeed and endure it.

Jim Collins in his book Great by choice has clearly explained his research on 10xers companies (companies that builds enterprises that beats the industries averages by at least 10times) he believes in preparing immensely, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw strength from a deep reservoir. Some of the major core behavior of 10exers in his book include:

  • Fanatic discipline: It keeps companies on track, consistent in action, goals, performance standards and methods.
  • Empirical creativity: keeps companies vibrant and when faced with uncertainty they don’t look at other people’s conventional wisdom rather they rely on empirical evidence, direct observation, practical experimentation, direct engagement with tangible evidence and therefore make bold creative moves.
  • Production Paranoia: keeps companies active and stay highly attuned to threats and challenges. They channel their fear and worry into action, planning, building buffers and making large margin of safety.

10xers companies aims for much more than being successful they don’t define themselves by money, fame or power, they define themselves by impact, contribution and purpose. Personalities like Bill gates, all his ego goes to Microsoft.10exers also exemplified the 20 Mile March concept (hitting stepwise performance markers with great consistency over a long period of time.) The 20 Mile March principle has built confidence in companies’ ability to perform and survive in adverse circumstances and reduce likelihood of catastrophe

He also illustrates potent principles like Firing bullets and then cannon balls which entails figuring out what works, then once you have empirical confidence based on the bullets, you concentrates your resources and fire cannon balls. Companies can also learn from their mistakes and apply what they learn. It is what we do before the storm hits (the decision, disciple and buffer/ shock absorber), that matters most in determining whether the enterprises pulls ahead or falls behind /dies when the storm hits. Being specific, methodological and consistent (SMaC recipe) is a durable operating practice to successfully company.

This simplified leadership concepts in his book : fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, productive paranoia, level 5 ambition,20 mile March, fire bullets then cannonballs, leading above the death line, and SMaC recipe all contribute directly to a great return of luck, it unifies organization efforts and give clear guidance .

As life offers no guarantee (either good or bad luck) for we cannot cause, control or predict luck but we can make most of the luck we get. What we do as a company matters more than what happens to us. We can be great by choice.

Book Review- Why the Rich Are Getting Richer by Robert T. Kiyosaki.

The book review was scripted by Effie Odhiambo.

  • This book is definitely a graduate school book, the world is evolving, and yesterday is not like today. We are seeing major clashes in the economy, countries are printing money, globalization happening and technology is dynamic, there is a continuous growth of economy and wealth. Financial Education is currently more important but the question is, what kind of Financial Education? Everyone is talking about money, if it doesn’t control the world maybe it runs it.
    • “Money is a language, learning to be rich is much like learning a foreign language, and it takes time practice and dedication.”
    • What is financial education really? This books tells us what it is and what it is not, the two sides of the coin. All coins has 3 sides, the head, tail and the edge, Intelligence is found on the edge of the coin in the ability to see both sides.
    • Therefore, how do rich people keep getting richer? That’s the million dollar question, everyone want to know. People are aspiring financial freedom and the exit to attain this, is financial education. When we talk about financial education we have to talk about financial literacy which is the ability to read and understand the language of money and Financial IQ which is the ability to solve financial problems.
    • To become richer one does not need to be a tax cheat, defaulter in loans or commit other financial crimes. When we have better financial education our risks goes down and our results increases. Some people believe tax is unfair and it’s intended to punish people, others think debt is a liability yet what’s really unfair is the lack of real financial education that would help people better understand how to manage their cash flows. If you have real financial education you can pay less in tax legally, tax is intended to reward people not to punish. Debt is also like a loaded gun, can save your life or kill you. It all depends on which side of the coin you are viewing from.
    • In so much as getting the required financial education is important, the rich also learn from their mistakes ,mistakes makes them smarter not stupid. Experiential learning is the cone of learning and most effective way to retain what we learn. If a baby is punished each time it falls, it will never leave home.
    • Robert Kiyosaki amazingly, simplifies what financial education should be in his book “Why rich get richer”. It has detailed information on how to manage our cash flow, taxation, debt, how we can save and invest to become richer and also take advantage of the major world crashes.
    • Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, you can, if you think you can’t you can’t. Either way you are right.”
    • If you want to get richer you must know what you are doing, how can a person know what they are doing if they know so little or has no financial education? If you are not interested in your money someone else is.

Book Review : Book of Ecclesiastes.

  • Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. This verse reminds us of the concept of time that is needed for any investment to mature.
  • Give a portion to seven or even to eight for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. The preacher brings the concept of risk and diversification of investment as its remedy.
  • He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. Solomon addressed the concept of profit implying that profit can only be realized where an investment was made. This is to tell the investor to invest anyway as risks will always be there. The investor is required to be a trained observer who interprets the wind and clouds rather than complaint about them.
  • In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that or whether both alike will be good. The author emphasized on the need to be consistent in all seasons. He introduces uncertainty as a characteristic in every type of investment. The book of Ecclesiastes is one of the shortest and oldest books that have been written to investors. It is in the reviewer’s opinion the most read investment book of all times. It ends by pointing the investor to God as the assurance to better things than investment profit.

Book Review: Safe Money in Tough Times

Authored by; By Jonathan D. Pond

Safe Money in tough times by Jonathan Pond contains simpler and detailed financial advice that everyone needs to survive the financial crisis. Planning for a secure financial future requires a lot of information and financial knowledge. Definitely we want to tackle special situations, be recession proof, get the strategies to cope in tough times and most importantly achieve financial peace of mind. He perfectly illustrates and give details on how we can begin to take some action to help us through the great recession so that you can take advantage of the prosperity. Often, majority of people are scared of depression (severe decline in the economic activity that last for years). Fortunately, today we have safety nets like unemployment benefits, federal reserves, social security and welfare programme to shield us. If the situation gets dire the government can intervene. We all agree that tough times affect all of us but unfortunately some suffer more than others. There are number of things that we can do
today to prepare for the future, they include:

• Budgeting and record keeping: keep track of your expected future expenditures and receipts for evaluation. When you budget it motivates you to live beneath your means and you spend less than you earn.

• Taking insurance: when taking insurance one should shop around for the best premium prices and pay only for the policy features and options you need.

• Debt Management: You keep wondering where your paycheck goes to, you spend less but you seem to have a lot of debts to pay, one has to be careful on which type of debt they take. Good debt can finance the loan and still earn you profits.

• Tax planning: understand your country’s tax policies this will enable you to save on taxes as an individual or business.

• Retirement planning: retirement should not be viewed as an old age occurrence, it can happen at any age or anytime. Preparing for such time will give you peace of mind, saving for retirement is important.

• Saving and Investing: it is always hard to save money but as time gets tougher, your expenses may grow faster than your income. It gets even harder to make ends meet. Everyone’s saving and spending habits can be improved, you need to account for your spending and income. Saving is not only enough but proper investment is also essential.

Coping with tough times requires some level of self-discipline, building up your savings , getting your debts under control , maintaining you insurance coverage ,saving for retirement, keeping diversified portfolio, getting help when adversity strikes and being positive that the economy will recover. Jonathan Pond illustrates in details different types of investment portfolio that you can invest in during your lifetime and what you expect during recession, understanding what kind of investor you are, essentials that you need to consider when deciding where to put your safe money and ways you can follow to overcome anxiety when tackling special situations like job loss. Most people tend to undergo psychological and emotional stress. They panic, feel guilty, lack self-worth and they become angry at the world. “If you are well positioned you will benefit from the recovery, you will eventually look back to the great recession as a minor annoyance” You can be a survivor in tough times.

Review by Effie Odhiambo