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.

The SHEEP RISE UP

The Sheep Rise UP ISBN: 9781481716444, Author House, a novel copyright and written by Mitchell Graye.

Kristen O’Hara, General Counsel for successful Enterprise Company is informed by Peter Preston, the President, that they are having both short and long-term financial problems that will necessitate severe restrictions on salaries as well as declaration of regular dividends to the stockholders. He also, in his usually overbearing manner, attempts to coerce her into issuing a supportive statement of this need that she realizes is not true. Her handling of this difficult ethical problem obviously places her in a precarious position. The results of refusing the request could place a strain on her finances as a single mother with a daughter in college as well as her other usual expenses. Compliance no doubt would severely damage her long-term career and financial security. She decides that ethically she must, and does refuse his request. Upon her refusal, he attempts to initiate a campaign that casts her in position of being at fault. He is aided in his activities by Richard Axel, the company’s V-P who is part of Preston’s plans. Upon appearance of an article in the WSJ of the company’s rumored problems, Frank Atwater, partner in a prestigious law firm, calls. He had been her mentor as well as boss, helping her with her career until she had left for the position with Enterprise. After a few meetings she tells Frank what has happened and with help from a retired, unusual PI whom Frank had known for years, begins to reveal a complicated series of activities that include establishment of unlisted deposits on the other side of the country as well as others offshore, interspersed with setting up a number of subsidiary companies as well as employment of a clandestinely well-known assassin. With assembly of a congressional SEC hearing, the fraudulent activity is demonstrated to include a number of others involved in this matter of fraudulent activity that entailed a total of several billion dollars.

Discussion: The author has set forth a surprisingly engrossing tale that is more than just a story of fraudulent activity within a large company. The basic plot and accompanying activity of such deviousness is knowledgeably well presented, BUT it is captivatingly enclosed within a rapidly paced, suspenseful thriller. Highly recommended.

5* Fast-paced, knowledgeably written, fraudulent security tale within a suspenseful thriller.

The Science of the Deal

The Science of the Deal ISBN: 9781946633781 ForbesBooks copyright and written by Shravan Parsi.

The book opens with the usual praise for the author’s credits and ability by several CEO’s and others of note; a Forward; A Word from the Author; eight chapters; About the Author; Our Services, which describe those offered by American Ventures LLC; 32 End Notes; About the Book, which again emphasizes “Learn a systematic approach to investing in commercial real estate and multifamily housing.” Chapter 1, describes his move “From Sideshow to Main Show”, from part-time investing to establishing a commercial real estate firm specializing in multifamily workforce housing; 2. Discusses the necessity of knowing your industry and how to use key performance indicators; 3.Assembling your team and talent while also building important qualities in yourself; 4. How to employ time and leverage to seize opportunity; 5. The potential offered by downsides (the things to look for and evaluate in a city/neighborhood); 6. Describes the need to ask ‘really good’ questions and delegate to experts; 7. The necessity for networking and ‘giving back’: creating a center of influence; 8. Up and Out: Stretching limits.

Discussion: Most chapter headings, as listed, are self-explanatory and describe and discuss the material listed. For the most part, they follow a relatively regular pathway to developing a thriving business in a sector of real estate not often discussed. Chapter 8 perhaps is of particular interest because of its concentration on technology and trends. The author evaluates technology and globalization and how it’s constantly changing aspects affect the United States, its inhabitants and its businesses. He further directs the discussion to the primary theme of this book and takes it from its simplest form (Craig’s List) to more advanced ({?} e.g. Airbnb, HomeAway that disrupted the short term rental industry, to investing (e.g. Crowdfunding, restrictions limiting banks, etc.) Much of the discussion is about how the author’s American Venture’s performed in extensive and highly profitable performances, their intent (and how) to extend globally and into strategic markets, and the need to follow demographic trends to diversity. Also discussed are trends in single-family homes, populations – Baby Boomers, Millennials, human longevity – and even real estate in space.

Summary: Overall look at a section of real estate seemingly seldom addressed. It is presented in a manner interesting to an outsider whose interests are eclectic and although heavily autobiographical, assumingly helpful for the targeted audience.

5* Appealing thoughts for newbies; assumed helpful for knowledgeable.

Radical Value

Radical Value ISBN: 9781733996303, Goodrich Publishing, copyright and written by Mark Boundy.

Sub-titled Elevate your company – and career – by unleashing the power within customer centricity, the author explains that “any company exists to generate higher value than it costs to deliver it.” Thus, “Customer satisfaction is a powerful, highly relevant metric. It’s just not a great in-game compass. Customer’s value is the important criteria.” He then proceeds with his 5 part evaluation. Part 1 contains 2 chapters where he initiates his proposal that the purpose of business is the creation of value and explains “what is value”. Part 2 follows explaining why value culture works with chapters 3 and 4 providing radically focused company basics and the critical aspects of focused customer conversations. Part 3 offers “to know your customer’s business, ye must know business” and proceeds in the next 3 chapters to describe the need to become an expert in your customer’s business, financial acumen for the “No-mathelte”, and how one must look for value through the customer’s eyes. Part 4 concentrates on practical ‘value-mining’ tools for customer-facing roles in chapter 8 by “finding value from your differentiation out” and 9 explaining that “probability happens at the top line”. Part 5 “Are you ready to be radical?” terminates the presentation with Chapters 10, 11 and 12 explaining how sellers are enabled to focus on value; “a day in the life” examining “what’s different about a radically focused organization”; and how this ‘different’ focus changes your customer relationships.

Discussion: The author states in several ways that “Customers don’t buy products or services, they buy the outcome they anticipate those products and/or services deliver. And, he has set forth his advice, as synopsized above, the manner in which this feature translates into the customer’s value and how to interpret and utilize it in what he describes as a radically different approach. From accompanying statements of praise for the author’s approach by individuals highly positioned in successful businesses, the author has been eminently successful in providing a ‘radical’ guide to focus on expectations of their customers. Or to rephrase, to re-align a business and all workers in each department to realize the basic need for every selling business to understand they are in business specifically to satisfy the values their customers possess. This reader concurs with their conclusions. However and apparently unfortunately, from my perspective as an individual not engaged in ‘business per se’ but rather one whose interests range eclectically, a certain personal disappointment results. If this basic message already exists, why does the author need to provide such lengthy description for justification of its use? And why is the material he has provided so radical? The material is interesting and seemingly delivers exactly what is needed, and assumingly considered radical, from the perspective of individuals who may be in the same old daily routine where poor habits develop unnoticed and the company’s main thrust ‘becomes somewhat frayed around the edges’. But from a total ‘outsider’s perspective, the message hardly seems ‘radical’ and especially if it is so essential. Thus, my apologies to the author and others closely involved in the activities described. My comments arise from the perspective of a reader whose wide range of interests include knowledge of ‘business’ and its various aspects, BUT from a complete unfamiliarity with the daily ‘grind’ it entails which seems, in turn, to lead to numerous ‘glitches’.

3* 5*material; -2 with apologies to author/others involved from an interested ‘outsider’.

LEAP

LEAP ISBN: 9781946623651 ForbesBooks, copyright and written by Dr. Marta Wilson.

Sub-titled Master your Superpowers, Soar to the Leading Edge, this book’s author, an Industrial Organizational Psychologist, opens with a Preface providing information that her consulting firm (TSI – Transformation Systems, Inc.) has taught federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies and their members to “uncover the hidden gifts of executives, managers and employees to build morale, increase collaboration and enhance success”. “…includes achieving transformation goals such as cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and energizing the work-force” or in other words, “all of the message and work of TSI already shared with thousands of others.” She explains further that becoming Masterful in 4 areas tend to make the achiever become a ‘Super Hero’. These four are Personal, Interpersonal. Organizational and Motivational Mastery. Moreover, these 4 make up the LEAP title of the book and stand for Leadership Effectiveness and Potential. The profile is described in detail in Chapter 3 and an app is available at theLEAPapp.com that provides a fast-paced crash course in proven principles of individual effectiveness and guidance from science and industry to build these attributes. In the book she also includes inspirational examples of great leaders; i.e. Mastery in Action, along with experiences of some of her past and present clients plus her own story. The ensuing nine chapters provide individual information and recommendations on imagining yourself soaring; discovering your Masteries; your Superpowers; expanding your Personal Mastery; ways to amplify this personal attribute; boost your Organizational Mastery; raise your Motivational Mastery; Create your Own Opportunities; unleash your Inner Superhero and Soar. Each Chapter concludes with a list of pertinent questions for the reader.

Discussion: The author has set forth another in the burgeoning number of books with the intent of helping to further the growth of various established and new entrepreneurial businesses. She offers suggestions on how to overcome fear of public speaking, of failure, of engaging in change. The need not only to listen to people but to actually HEAR what they are saying, to empathize with them, to connect and have them engage, elevate and energize each other and how you can best accomplish this if you have learned to master yourself and teach by leading as a positive person who can innovate, create, interrelate and inspire, manage stress time and data. As with most books of this nature, there is much redundancy typically displayed as a result of a desire to emphasize facts delivered by lecturers repeatedly speaking to multiple audiences.

5* Excellent suggestions; some redundancy not unusual with lecturers use for emphasis.

BOOK the BUSINESS

BOOK the BUSINESS ISBN: 9781599324074 Advantage Media Group, copyright and written by Adam Witty and Dan Kennedy.

Sub-titled How to make BIG MONEY without Even Selling a Book, contains 13 chapters beginning with The Big Idea of making Money with your Book, No B.S. There follow chapters describing the Best Customers; why a book is a fine marketing tool; how to use it to build an authoritative position; as the Ultimate Lead Generation Tool; to gain Speaking Engagements; to obtain Free Publicity/media coverage; in Personal Selling; as the Ultimate Referral Marketing Tool; to boost your direct mail; for Fast Product Creation and Additional Income Streams; to Get others to pay for your Marketing; Fast Action Implementation Resources; and finally the One Secret Nobody Tells You and Putting Your Plan into Action specifically contributed by Adam Witty. An Afterword by Dan Kennedy follows and Resources, and About the Authors conclude the presentation.

Discussion: This book is based upon the long accepted, and probably largely correct, assumption that writing a book elevates the author to a position of authority providing he/she has presented verifiable material. Its authors are eminently positioned to set forth suggestions that this premise positions a pertinent book’s author to employ it as a powerful marketing tool that will provide far more than any compensation he/she could gain by providing it simply as a book for sale. Adam Witty is the Founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group that publishes self-improvement and Professional Development books. Dan Kennedy is author and/or co-author of twenty books on the subject, a leader in marketing, copyrighting and business building who has established a worldwide organization to which individuals pay monthly for membership. Thus, when they explain how your authorship of a book on the subject about which you are most knowledgeable can produce what they refer to as “Invisible Income Streams”, their suggestions appear to stem from a superior understanding of the situation. Specifically, your book “provides name recognition in your chosen niche”. As presented in the pages of this book, their suggestions with respect to how your omnipresence offers ways of having others market for you, to promote you without ‘selling’, obtaining speaking engagements, media coverage and more. From this reviewer’s perspective the authors have quite thoroughly, and quite adroitly covered their subject. However, it would seem necessary to provide a small caveat so as to mitigate any confusion for a budding author with respect to writing fiction and non-fiction. Having written and successfully published (as well as taught a university level writing course) in both areas, I believe their expressed opinion that the simple difference between the two is that fiction requires talent and creativity and can be arduous whereas non-fiction is what you know and what you’re willing to research may require a few more words. Fiction does require talent and creativity and can be ’arduous’ in the amount of research required to provide credibility to your plot and the activities included (unless engaged in the fantasy genre). This is why fiction writers usually are told ‘to stick to what they know’. Non-fiction also is described correctly as a collection of what you know and what you are willing to research. However, the newbie by no means should overlook the importance of creativity and talent. They first must have the creative spark that allows them to ferret out the fact(s) that others miss AND the talent to weave them into a single unit that supplies a usable tool to supply answers to the discovered ‘niche’.

5* Highly recommended with small caveat suggested.