Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday
Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday by Zain Raj promises to answer big questions and cut through all the noise, but does it? While it is a great summary of Raj’s marketing experience, his view on the business world, and contains most of but not all of his opinions. It answers none of my questions, and the cover image and design aren’t very inspiring either. Which could be forgiven if the book contained a lot of quality content, however, it doesn’t. Raj must think that he has solved any companies marketing problems, but he hasn’t. He has compiled a book that contains minimal facts based on data or statistics, and has rough drafted what he thinks are good themes that may evolve into actual ideas and marketing proposals. He bashes companies on what seems to be personal bias and praises others based on that same irrational partiality. Perhaps Raj thinks he is giving us raw data translated into actionable ideas but this just isn’t the reality. Focusing on your current customers is the only purveying idea, but this is an undeniable fact of marketing. Raj fails to present any research that backs his opinions; he fails to show causation and repetitively crowns correlation as king.
Unfortunately, this is one reader that fails to buy in to what Raj is selling.
Spyglass Publishing Group
Groupthink: An Impediment to Success
Groupthink, An Impediment to Success isn’t a book many will want to read, but is one nearly everyone should read. If you have to be part of any decision-making group or deal with such groups, you should read this book, and keep it on hand so that you’ll understand how group dynamics play out, and how they might affect you or the decisions the group will make. In fact, this book should be the sourcebook for a college-level course in group dynamics. Dr. Clifton Wilcox reduces literally hundreds of reports, books, articles, and studies to their essence.
Perhaps Wilcox explains Groupthink’s roots best: “Everyone makes decisions in their lives which result in consequences. For individuals the decision may be made implicitly and without consultation. For groups the decision is more complex. Some group members may want to pursue one course of action while others may not. Groupthink is one way in which individuals have the ability to avoid personal responsibility. If the group’s decision fails, the responsibility rests with all the members of the group and not a single individual. This diffusion of responsibility enhances emotional bonds between members as well as reduces the level of personal responsibility for decisions.” Groupthink explains with the well-known failure rate of groups, why they’re still used in nearly every level of modern society.
Ever wonder why committees never seem to get anything done? And, if they do, why what they achieve seems illogical and nonsensical? Groupthink explains it, in terms most can understand. Given a thorough understanding of how groups work, or rather fail to work, one might ponder how governments, universities, and businesses that are essentially many interlinked groups and committees manage to function at all. This and many more of life’s intricacies are explained in Groupthink, if you read, understand and ponder on it a bit.
The Inner World of Money: Taking Control of Your Financial Decisions and Behaviors
Many people, including me, know that we need to change our financial habits, but we don’t know how. Instead of becoming more financially secure, we stay in the same situation. Luckily, Marty Martin is here to help. The Inner World of Money is full of helpful tips and tricks to figure out what changes we need to make and how to actually make them.
Combining economics with psychology, Martin approaches the financial self-help book in a new way. Yes, he offers lots of advice concerning how to save and invest, but he also focuses on personal goals, motivations, and happiness. Maintaining a non-judgmental tone, he encourages readers to examine why we value money (as a means to an end or as an end in itself). He asks us to think about the ways in which money contributes to our life satisfaction, and he wants to help everyone use money in the way that is best suited to his or her desires and expectations. Because of this, his book goes beyond simply offering tips to make more cash. It seeks to increase individual happiness.
Featuring exercises geared toward exploring our relationship with money, our problem spots, and our desire to change, this book is interactive. Martin is not just telling us how we can improve; it feels as though he is working with us to improve. Completing the exercises and contemplating the results allows you to tailor his advice to your specific needs. If you truly engage with the book in the way that Martin intends, it has the potential to significantly change the way that you think about and use money.
In addition to the interaction, Martin’s tone works to make the topic more interesting. He speaks to the reader in a conversational way, making even the most complex areas of study easy to understand and livening up his information with jokes and anecdotes.
Lastly, the sheer span of this book is impressive. Covering such topics as under-earning, impulsive spending, effective communication, teaching kids about money, sticking to a plan, and so much more, The Inner World of Money features everything you need to be able to relate to money in a mature, successful manner. Furthermore, though he focuses solely on finances, his advice can be used to change any behavior. Everyone, regardless of his or her income, habits, or goals, can benefit from this book.
A Good Financial Advisor Will Tell You…
“This book is not an ‘introduction to investing’ book.” And true to their words, Luna and Kisner present a concisely written handbook for “those hardworking successful individuals” who’ve been there and did it, and are still doing it – investing their hard-earned money. But what makes A Good Financial Advisor Will Tell You… different from the countless number of investment books available to the common investor? Luna and Kisner focus on new concepts without gracing endless pages with overwhelming amounts of statistics and charts. Plus, they dedicate a full chapter on the most pervasive and chronic issue that plagues the investment world: emotions.
Luna and Kisner lay the groundwork for successful financial planning by first addressing the reason why people don’t often have a high rate of return in their investments. The answer has everything to do with understanding one’s emotions through Behavioral Financing – “a relatively new area of study that explores the intersection of psychology and applied economics.” The shortened version of this study states that people, more often than not, take financial risks based on feelings, rather than basing their decisions on facts, figures, and history. Once investors understand and apply this approach, then it’s time to “invest like the pros” by creating Investment Policy Statements that lay out ground rules IN ADVANCE of investment decisions. These rules should be designed to reduce “investment risks without reducing returns,” which can be successfully achieved by looking into Alternative Asset Classes (i.e., real estate and private equity) and by following Luna and Kisner’s seven-step approach to a lower-risk portfolio.
Retirement in the U.S. is a great concern and, in order for financial planning to succeed in the long term (which includes legacy planning), Luna and Kisner explain that it is critical to incorporate life expectancy, inflation, and healthcare into the investment and income equations. One strategy they introduce “to provide maximum retirement income…without depleting your portfolio” is through Income Harvesting, which “matches short-term needs with short-term cash availability and long-term needs with higher yielding, long-term investments.”
As Luna and Kisner bring A Good Financial Advisor Will Tell You… to a close with their final chapters on debunking myths and misconceptions that investors buy as truth and on providing tips to find a good financial advisor, their hope is that their book “will motivate you to make whatever changes are required to realize your financial goals” – and, indeed, you will not be disappointed with all their helpful advice because it will motivate you!
The Complete Leader
While the subtitle of this book, Everything You Need to Become a High-Performing Leader, may over-promise, this remains one of the best and clearest books on business leadership that I have read. Futurist, John Naisbitt, has said “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.” This very practical book lends credence to this bit of humor. The authors, Ron Price and Randy Lisk, are business advisors, speakers, and senior-level managers with considerable down-to-earth wisdom and experience.
While many other business books cite leadership examples, those examples tend to remain only as true as yesterday’s news. Leadership is situational, depending on many variables in complicated systems. The authors believe that a true leader must be authentic; therefore, models cannot replace self-awareness and continual learning. The Complete Leader attempts to help one gain understanding of system interactions. This system’s approach obviously came from one of the author’s years at IBM.
The authors make the case for twenty-five competencies for leadership. The appendix of the book contains a self-assessment questionnaire that defines your personal competencies so that further learning and training can be developed. For the authors, the critical questions of leadership are the “whys.” This curiosity is essential to uncover real problems, opportunities, and threats to the organization and greater self-awareness leading to greater effectiveness. The authors also emphasize people/relationship skills.
To be an effective leader also means the ability to self-manage and understand oneself. The authors prescribe lifelong learning as requisite for anyone aspiring to become a senior manager. They recommend online learning sites and continual reading. Unlike many popular business books, they counsel the hard work of self-improvement, rather than trendy slogans. The book features references for further reading and an index of subjects, which is most helpful. This reader is happy to endorse this book and the practical advice contained therein.
OWNING MAIN STREET: A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market
Who would have thought six hundred plus pages of investment wisdom could read like an action adventure? Somehow, author Patrick Pappano pulls it off. This excellent, excellent book is not only the only book you need to start building your retirement nest egg; it is also a brisk, entertaining, and even funny page-turner!
Author Pappano, finding himself frustrated in his search for a good stockbroker, decided to become one himself. His experiences on Wall Street taught him that everything Wall Street tells you is wrong. You don’t need a broker; you don’t need insider knowledge; you don’t need to watch the market; you don’t even need a lot of money; all you need is a reasonable plan and the will to let it work. Here’s the plan: Buy a fixed dollar amount of a few discrete, common stocks of good, solid companies, automatically every month, then close your eyes, walk away, and let the market do its work.
Pappano is a great writer. He liberally sprinkles his tome with great illustrative anecdotes, and he has a wry, dry, understated humor that is a delight to read. He has a wealth of experience and he isn’t trying to sell you anything (except perhaps this book, which is worth every penny and more); investing can be a win for everyone, and he wants you to succeed. It’s like you have a great friend standing next to you, patiently holding your hand while he tries to convince you to do what is in your own best interest.
First, Pappano exposes the smoke and mirrors behind Wall Street brokerage agencies. So, he says, pick a set of a few stocks from the S&P 500, invest over time, and let the market work.
‘But wait!”, you say. “What about Mutual Funds? Hedge funds? Commodities? Etc.?” Pappano covers each type of investment with its pros and cons (tax and/or accounting issues, for example), then reminds you that just investing in a few discrete stocks over time will be much more secure and simple.
All right then, how do I go about doing this? Pappano answers by suggesting how to examine companies for good governance, what to look for, and how to diversify; but, once again, the easiest and surest strategy is to dollar-cost-average (buy a certain dollar amount each month) a few discrete stocks from the S&P 500 or the Dow 30.
Completely thorough, the book covers how to divest at retirement, and even gives a suggested list of solid companies for investment, picked from those exchanges. 401K plans and annuities and life insurance are also investment strategies Pappano covers in detail.
This book is written for the beginning investor, of which I am one; some of the investment types really are befuddling. But as soon as I started to feel lost, my investment advisor Pappano whispered over my shoulder, “Yes, this is very confusing. If you will just invest in a few discrete stocks of solid companies over time, you won’t have to worry about this.” His point is well-grounded and well-supported and constantly reiterated, but in the most entertaining and friendly way; following his advice and just letting the market do its work will allow anyone to achieve his or her retirement goals.