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.