It’s Not the Score It’s the Trip

It’s Not the SCORE, it’s the TRIP ISBN: 978 1642251494  Advantage Media Group copyright and written by Brian O’Hara.

Sub- titled “One man’s journey to building a global franchise is a memoir by the founding president and COO (later CEO) of XL Insurance. A company described by importantly prominent members as “the Bermudian re-insurance market instrumental in raising the bar of economic landscape of the island to a now globally recognized as a prominent reinsurance domicile.”  “The publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.” The book opens with the usual Forward, Preface, and Introduction followed by 9 chapters, an Epilogue, acknowledgements and About the Author, some photographs scattered throughout and a collection at the end. End Notes (18) and a closing note depicting a slightly less formal description of the author complete the volume. Each chapter describes advances and occurrences leading toward his goals as they occurred chronologically. The first accounting Family Luck 1948-1965; #2 Testing my luck 1966-1970; #3 Fun into prophet 1970-1979; #4 No simple highway, the road 1978-1989; #5 Buy or be bought 1990-1999; #6 Leading the industry 1999-2003; #7 Rough Waters 2003-2006; #8 Plan B 2007-2008; # 9 Now what? 2008-2011.

It is a quite personal story of how Brian worked his way through the business to become CEO of a global corporation largely bringing recognition to Bermuda as a prominent center for the insurance-reinsurance industry. His personally rigid belief and adherence to collegiality and integrity he believed were most important for survival and were the keynote to all operations as well as knowing the rules but being flexible in relationship to them. He further worked on the principle that you get better results if you ask people if they can do something, rather than tell them to do it. He was acutely aware of the magnitude of inherent risk in the industry’s cycles and the corresponding uncertainty, especially when it came to matters like budgeting for the premiums. (Especially with Fortune 500 Companies operations and products. “They appreciated their underwriting discipline that would create a stable long-term relationship despite the cyclicality of the insurance industry overall.”) He used his program in Barbados as well as Bermuda and the company went from $450 million in ’87 to $1 Billion by ’90 and ultimately an organization employing 2400 people in 20 countries. Eventually, the main operations moved to Bermuda from Barbados and also started a branch in Dublin, Ireland. Their entire mission was as insurers/reinsurers that dealt with providing coverage for large-risk properties. Finally they opened to become a public company and success continued but he found it to be personally unpleasant because he felt required now to satisfy so many strangers who had invested in the work. Interestingly, the day he was forced to step down as CEO was the year that catastrophe struck the company along with most others involved in this high risk business.

Discussion: The author has written a most interesting memoir from several perspectives. First, it presents an impressive insight to the drivers and inner workings of the property and casualty risk industry for interested parties. Second, the details about this phase of insurance underwriting offer fascinating ‘inside’ information for uninvolved individuals interested generally in how other businesses operate (such as this reader). Third, it is studded with interchanges with well-known athletes and coaches from football, basketball, tennis and golf as well as cinema celebrities, Heads of State and powerful individuals within the world of finance. Thus, the author has offered the entire package in a personally oriented manner that removes it from the more usual somewhat dry and subject oriented business reminiscences.

5* Informative and unusually enjoyable business memoir.

The Accelerated Saver-Investor Pathway to Wealth

The Accelerated Saver-Investor Pathway to Wealth assumed published copyright and written by Alexander Lawrence.

Sub-titled “A powerful New Rapid Wealth Building System for Average Income Earners the book presents: Legal Notices that include the copyright declaration and a disclaimer. Next are detailed Acknowledgements, an Introduction which proceeds to explain the Purpose of the Book as “eight life-changing goals we can adopt implement and achieve by development of a MASATERPLAN” with 4 Strategies to develop them. A Table of Contents that sets forth a List of (15) Chapter titles followed immediately by another List of Chapters providing contents, specifically: Chapter [1] Mindset: Strategy; [2]: Motivation Gurus: Strategy;; [3]: Money Technicians: Strategy; continuing through Chapter [14]: Fire: and final Chapter [15]; Summary which opens with an Index of the subjects to be included, expanded and/or further discussed.

Discussion: The author is fully aware of the “monumental mass of personal finance data and advice published in old media print books, magazines, journals and newspapers and projected in the new media digital technology channels…” as well as social media and other sources Thus. his attempt here is “to simplify this abundant, ‘managing your money’ and ‘wealth-building’ information – so that it’s easy to grasp” and to present “the best money management and wealth-building system possible – in terms of ease, efficiency and outcome.” He further explains why he references and includes the writings of eight individuals recognized by their peers as important authors whose works are collectively considered to be essential to understand in any serious money management and wealth building system.

This is a very long book that contains a mass of pertinent material that requires time to read. However, the author’s objective appears to have been accomplished. He has combined the material in a well set forth, somewhat lighter presentation than often encountered and has included abundant graphics and quotations.

5* Lengthy read but author’s ‘mission accomplished’. Recommended.

You’re Retired now…Now What?

You’re Retired Now… Now What? ISBN: 9781946633637 FiorbesPress Copyright and written by Debra Brede.

 Sub-titled Discovering & Funding Your Purpose Driven Retirement, the reader first is presented with several notes of praise by highly positioned knowledgeable individuals, followed by a dedication that leads to the book itself. This opens with provision of the usual publication details, disclaimer and list of contents. After Acknowledgements and Foreword, the material is set forth in 4 parts, containing 9 chapters, a Conclusion, About the Author, Services (offered by her company) and End Notes. Part One: The Best Teacher, contains 4 Chapters, the first three provide autobiographical material with respect to details of her early background and development of the philosophy she follows in her clients’ plans. The 4th chapter explains a life-changing experience that has provided the basis for “helping clients plan for personally fulfilling, purpose-driven retirements”. Part Two: Peace of Mind, contains 2 Chapters discussing a question of definition of the phrase and the requirement of a need to be dispassionate in dealing with the vicissitudes of investing. Part Three: Strategic Wealth Management discusses at length the requirement to “Eliminate the negative” (7) and “Accentuate the Positive” (8). Part Four: Giving Back, has 2 chapters that describe and discuss the utter necessity for structuring a Purpose-Driven Retirement (9) and with the need for Paying it Forward (10) where she quotes Margaret Mead and refers to a pertinent personal story supplied earlier. A Conclusion: Live Your Dream, is followed by the features mentioned above to close the book.

Discussion: The author has presented quite clearly a knowledgeable discussion of a large amount of descriptive material of equities, bonds, annuities and the rest, much of which may be found in other of the books written by recognized individuals in the field. HOWEVER, she has been able to innumerate, explain and emphasize the importance of aspects of investing only lightly touched or missing in other texts.  An absolutely fascinating but pertinent aside to the book from the perspective of this reviewer, is the quite unobtrusive manner in which she has acknowledged the importance of a higher power functional in her life. Of further interest is the uniquely interesting additional information associated with King Solomon offered later.

Summary: This book is a most helpful presentation of investing for retirement by an individual eminently qualified. Unfortunately, the target audience is relatively limited. However, it contains many facts of interest for readers not in the category targeted and has the added feature of a most interesting approach.

5* An unusual ‘must read’ for target audience; much of interest to others.

Future Proofing Cubed

FUTURE PROOFING CUBED ISBN: 9798638377168 Bookmark Publishing, Copyright Lcubed Consulting, Inc. written by Iisa L. Levy.

Subtitled Future Proofing Cubed the Definitive Guide to Increasing Productivity, Refining Processes and Bolstering Profitability, the book opens with a dedication; the usual disclaimer; a complementary forward; Introduction; Three sections: 1. Hybrid Consulting that contains two chapters -My Why: Enabling Corporate Success and Lcubed; 2. Future Proofing with five that define traditional consulting, initially describe Lcubed’s Adaptive Transformation, Solving recurrent problems, Desired results and Future Proofing; 3. Enabling Frameworks offers the last five, in turn discussing project management, process and performance management, internal controls, organizational change management, and chapter takeaways; Case Studies; References (16); Resources (4); and About the Author.

Discussion: Although the copyright is more stringent with respect to not allowing “any part of this book to be reproduced or transmitted in any form….”, this reader hopes that reprinting of the author’s ‘different’ and amusing Dedication will be overlooked. It reads “I’d like to dedicate this book to my friends and family who are always supportive of my choices even the ones they don’t understand. My hope is that this book will finally help explain to my parents what I do for a living.” Following this charming note of levity, the content of the volume explains her approach to teaching a business how to Future Proof itself against the ever-increasing number of changes they face as time evolves. The overall concept is to look at your business as a Rubik’s cube. You have all of the pieces and need only to position them to interface correctly. Use of the plan allows you to build a culture that embraces the enormous number of existing recent changes and will increase greatly in the business world as time advances. Granted, use of the Rubik’s cube analogy applies to medium sized businesses that have all of the pieces in place and functioning with a management team, money coming in, etc. With this understanding, she continues to explain that she had ‘spent her time in the trenches’ and gradually evolved her projected program after observing  the numerous types of quite disparate software with which companies were faced when attempting to accomplish the various tasks required simply to keep abreast of the changes in the business world as they developed. In fact, most of the time they had been able to assemble the required results only after the data collected were outdated. Thus from her repeated observation, the concept of “Adaptive Transformation” came to mind. The concept, although suddenly appearing to her, perhaps had been un-consciously stored in her mind in that she found a paper on the subject had been published by Stanford Professor Dr. Harold Leavitt in 1964. Regardless, the basis of the concept was to focus energy on building a new project rather than fighting the old, and it fitted well into her line of thinking wherein a series of activities could provide a means for an organization’s structure and culture to survive and advance even when facing tremendous elements of change. Eventually, the whole evolved into her epiphany moment and she decided to construct a software program that would encompass all of the disparate parts and meld them into one bundle.

Summary: The author, has presented details of the birth and evolution of her somewhat unique contribution – the structure, function and successes of a software program that combines and includes all of the usual features considered to be important components of building and maintaining a steady healthy business growth in times of change. There is much redundancy and substantial inclusion of material offered by others in the large number of books covering business maintenance and growth in the seemingly increasingly chaotic business world. However, Lcubed appears to be a knowledgeable organization, founded by a nationally recognized organizational change management authority, with a unique program that offers several advantages not previously made available.

5* Unique offering; -1 for redundancy,  not unusual for lecturers.

ONWARD The Art of Leadership

ONWARD The Art of Leadership ISBN: 9781948046985 Telemachus Press copyright and written by Mark Joseph Huckabee.

The book opens with an introduction stating “The top trait of leaders: They never quit learning and growing. Leaders are perpetual students seeking mastery of their craft. Leadership is a life-long journey with no final destination. It is a way – the best way – to live life. You will see your hard work manifest into success not only for you, but for those around you.” Seven sections follow with descriptions of how to attain this eminence by following the examples set by known, as well as lesser stature, philosophers, warriors, writers, statesmen, politicians, explorers, entrepreneurs, scientists and others. All is provided with support from copious examples, quotes, and explanations provided by these people and especially from a most interesting and unusual array of cinematic productions. Section I begins with the ‘First Step’ and provision of examples of how everyone is a combination of boss, parent, leader, employer and coach. The examples range from presentation of the “Ice Bowl” football game and the initiation of “Molotov Cocktails” to movies such as Rocky, Jurassic Park, To Kill a Mocking Bird and more. Section II discusses the “How” of leadership with an actor’s example of the importance of “Preparation and the Will to Win”, a short story of Benjamin Franklin’s winning strategy, the “Art of Silence”, the movie “Star Wars” and numerous other pertinent factors. Section III presents a discussion of the importance of settling for nothing less than the “Extraordinary” detailing the difference between Dreamers and Doers with supportive material from the cinematic production of Field of Dreams, Ian Fleming’s James Bond and more. Section IV concentrates on “Building Great Teams. V the importance of having and living your principles. VI describes Managing an organization as well as managing your life and sets forth a sizable number of examples set by famous people and such pictures as Citizen Kane, and The Godfather. The last, Section VII: Change the Frame, opens with a vignette of Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor, renowned scientist and best-selling author and his human ability to survive not only unimaginable suffering of body, but his mind, soul and spirit that says “You shall overcome. And the reward for enduring your struggle is that you will change the world” and how his founding of ‘logotherapy’ was to teach that there was a basic importance to find a meaning in life that was the primary and most compelling motivational driving force in humans. The book ends with “A Personal Farewell: Turn the Page” where the author offers a few parting words “Any life worth living – at some point – will face seemingly unbearable circumstances. If you aren’t failing. You aren’t growing. You aren’t taking the chances true living requires. This too shall pass. Life will humble you. Let it. When it’s easy: Onward. When it’s hard: Onward. Locked onto your full potential, always facing True North. Live life this way, and I promise you will get there. A day is coming….Every moment the story of your life is being written. AND YOU HOLD THE PEN.”

Discussion: The author has taken discussion of moving one’s methods of living and working to successful levels to a most unusual and interesting manner of presentation level. Frankly, this reviewer approached this read/review with some restrictions of interest. Having read quite a number of these ‘self-help’ presentations, not much different was expected and momentarily was buttressed by observing the number of references to cinematic productions included. Once again my inclination to persevere through any book received ‘’till the bitter end’ proved to be the correct decision. This is a book that deserves to be read with an open mind by any book reviewer and is a truly helpful and easy-to-read volume for those looking for thoughtful suggestions.

5* Unusual, impressive offer of usual material in a different, enjoyable package.

Figuring It Out

Figuring it Out ISBN: 9781642250435 Advantage Media, copyright and written by Libby Connolly Alexander.

Sub-titled, A Memoir of Connolly, Inc.’s Journey to the Top, the book is a memoir by a woman who, with her brother and tech-savvy husband had taken the company successfully established by her entrepreneurial father to the point of eventually going public at a high market evaluation before reselling at an even greater value. The story opens with “To the three legs of the stool and all that we accomplished together” referring to the extended activity and accomplishments of she and her brother under the tutelage of her father, along with her husband.  Then, following several letters of praise for the book, quite lengthy acknowledgements are listed, an Introduction, ten chapters and a conclusion. The Introduction is prefaced by “A Jim Connolly Mantra: If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all”. This in turn is followed by his opening statement to the family at dinner in the late 1980’s that he was resigning the quite prestigious position of Chief Operating Officer at Gimbel’s NYC department store to initiate a new entrepreneurial project – a recovery auditing business. Ten chapters and a conclusion then explains that she has “mapped out in this book her father’s blueprint that masterfully explains the core values and principles that support any successful business.” She begins by describing the changes taking place during the period of his change in position – the conglomerates, junk bonds, management shake-ups and the rest – beginning with Chapter 1 where her “father’s footsteps” include many of his admonitions such as “Above all, learn and constantly practice the art of adjusting to change” as they provided the groundwork for successful establishment of Connolly, Inc. referred to as Cotiviti.  Much of her father’s biography, including a fascinating account of wartime experience, largely in the Pacific Theater, proceeds to describe the man’s fundamental beliefs. The ensuing chapters present a gradual unfolding of the ‘Blue Print’ she has set forth and a Conclusion mentioned where she describes stepping down but summarily reflects upon important attitudes she believes necessary to succeed.

Discussion: This is an interestingly ‘different’ approach to the establishment and maintenance at a high level of an entrepreneurial start-up from very limited beginnings. The constant reference to bio- and autobiographical material quite interestingly provide material to bolster the author’s intent rather than offer what might be considered material detrimental. It recalls a time slightly before the evolution of the ‘Me’ outlook. “A time when reciprocal respect existed among a group of honorable men who openly shared their thoughts and moves with integrity, intent and purpose.” It also was at a time when a businessman could consider “One client at a time. No outside investment. No acquisitions. Just hard work and a determination to be the best by delivering quality results with low noise.” Troublesome business situations such as junk bonds, conglomerates and management shake-ups were developing during Jim Connolly’s early years, but he still believed in the ‘old fashioned’ basics and was still able to demonstrate they functioned well even during the progression to the rash of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations, restructuring, bankruptcies, highly intensified competition and price cutting so prevalent today. His methods of hard work, ingenuity, integrity, persistence, ability to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing environment, courtesy, professionalism and tenacity of purpose combined with hiring and inspiring a talented team were the key ingredients to formulate the multi-billion dollar businesses his son and daughter, Larry and Libby, further developed and ultimately walked away from. He was a great coach and roll-model whose early Recovery Auditing Company discovered and promoted innovative ways to identify and recover lost revenue, pricing and promotional funds in the 1980 – 90’s when auditing was an entirely different form of business than exists today.

5* Excellent self-help business suggestions in unusual memoir format.