Category Archives: Ramblings

Observations and insights about life, business and other things that might be of interest?.

If committees told the truth………..

Hi, we’re here to take your project to places you didn’t imagine. With us on board, your project will now take three times as long. It will cost five times as much. And we will compromise the art and the vision out of it, we will make it reasonable and safe and boring.

Great work is never reasonable, safe or boring. Thanks anyway.

Seth Godin

We’ve all been there? We have been frustrated when working in this type of environment. The question is why do we turn to “committees” when the solutions we are looking for should come from the “leadership” within organizations?

Occasionally Gifted

10 Great Management Books for Small Business Owners

Running a small business is a lot tougher than you think. Personally, I am a big fan of looking at what others are talking about on the subject of leadership and management. Essential ingredients to becoming a successful small business owner.

While I agree  that it requires a combination of both leadership and management skills, just what the correct dose is I am still trying to figure out. While leadership and management come easily for some, many find that reading management books helps keeps them informed and current with today’s best management practices or just what may be vogue for the next ten minutes or ten years.  You can see some of what we have learned by visiting us at:

Occasionally Gifted

Those of you who know me know that I am voracious reader on this subject and I was impressed with this list from Small Business trends that I would like to share.

With thousands of books to choose from, it can be frustrating and overwhelming deciding on what to read.  That’s why Small Business Trends has put together this list of top 10 best management books every small business owner should read. (Listed in no particular order.)

1.  “Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization”by Daniel Patrick Forrester.

In today’s on-demand, always-on world, it seems counter-intuitive to take a moment and consider your next decision. Daniel Patrick Forrester interviews leaders in high-stakes and high-risk circumstances who have mastered the art of taking time out to think and process their options before rushing into a decision.

Small business owners will appreciate the many examples and techniques used by great leaders and managers of critical projects to calm themselves down, collect the information that they need and then communicate their decisions and actions clearly.

2. “No Jerks on the Job: Who They Are, The Harm They Do and Ridding Them from Your Workplace”by Ron Newton

No Jerks on the Job

There isn’t a workplace around that doesn’t claim its share of jerks. In fact, working with difficult people is one of the most popular management books topics around, In the book No Jerks on the Job, Ron Newton explains where jerks come from and he gives solutions for dealing with jerks; create a transparent environment, embody your values and huddle up to solve problems.

The biggest benefit that any businessperson can get from this book is being able to identify jerky behavior and not feed into it or make it worse.

3. “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

In Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, the visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success.

The lessons in this management book come from Tony Hseih’s own experiences.  They include the lessons he learned from poker that he applies to business:  Make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you’re playing and the risks you’re taking, figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high, differentiate yourself and do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.

4.  “StrengthsFinder 2.0”by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an updated strengths assessment published by the Gallup organization. This book includes a password that allows you to take the StrengthsFinder assessment online. After completing the StrengthsFinder assessment, the results will uncover your top strengths. Readers will also get a personalized strengths planning guide as well as 50 ideas that they can put into action in their business and personal life.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a great management book for small business owners who are looking for smart ways to balance out the strengths inside their management teams.

5. “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement With the Principles of RESPECT” by Paul Marciano

Carrots and Sticks

If you’re looking for a management book that will help you motivate your employees without spending yourself silly with financial incentives, look no further than Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work.

Paul Marciano reviews all the motivational theories we’ve used and abused over the last hundred or so years. He then gives you practical advice on how to upgrade your conversations in a way that will benefit your employees and your business.  You don’t need to spend your company into bankruptcy trying to please employees – the answer is much simpler.

6. “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality”by Scott Belsky.

Making Ideas Happen

There is a method and a skill to making ideas happen and in this management book, Scott Belsky shows you how to run your brain spark of an idea through a process that converts the idea from a thought to something real and tangible.

Making Ideas Happen takes you through project management, how to maintain your focus, harnessing the power of your community and developing the chemistry of your creative team. It’s a real world management book that you can use daily by yourself or with your team.

7. “Do More Great Work: Stop the Busywork. Start the Work That Matters”by Michael Bungay Stanier.

Do More Great Work

If you find yourself feeling unproductive, Do More Great Work is one of the management books for you. Inside this small and well-designed books are 15 maps and exercises that will help you identify the elements of great work and triggers for less-than-great work.

For example, where to find clues to your great work, how to find the sweet spot between what you want to do and what your organization wants you to do tactics to manage the overwhelm and more.

8.  “Awesomely Simple Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas Into Action”by John Spence.

Awsomely Simple

Awesomely Simple is a management book that gives the small business owner and department managers a clear and easy roadmap to follow in building the business and then planning for growth.

John Spence delivers an MBA in a management book that is easy to read and follow.  Ultimately it’s a guide you can turn into management practices in your business.

9.  “Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others” by Justin Menkes

Better Under Pressure

What is it about some managers and leaders that has them perform at their best under pressure and then the others who simply fold? In Better Under Pressure, Menkes reveals the common traits that make these leaders successful.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with sixty CEOs from an array of industries and performance data from two hundred other leaders, Menkes shows that great executives strive relentlessly to maximize their own potential — as well as stoke their people’s innate thirst for their own triumphs.

10.  “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”by Seth Godin.

In Linchpin Art + Profession = Rewards For All

Seth Godin takes his unique way of looking at things and brings it to the world of management.  Linchpin is one of those management books about what it takes to become indispensible at a workplace.

Godin warns that it’s no longer good enough to treat people like factory workers, nor is it enough for workers to simply just do what they are told.

Today’s world of work asks more of both employer and employee.

With this guide to the best in management books, you will get concrete advice on how to manage your company and your team in a smart way.  Go ahead — set a goal to read all 10 books.  Then integrate the ideas from these management books into your daily work and create a world-class business. Let’s know what happens, especially what works!

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success

With the passing of Steve Jobs there has been a lot written about the man and the impact he and his company had on many of us. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I did have the opportunity to hear him speak on a couple of occasions.

One of my deepest regrets in life is that while I felt pretty sure that I understood the impact that business could have I consistently underestimated the magnitude that impact  would have . The result was that I could never make that share purchase and invest in his company.

What follows is copy of an article from Entrepreneur Magazine titled Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success. This just might become a classic.

Steve Jobs’ impact on your life cannot be overestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect — computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For entrepreneurs, Jobs’ greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I’ve become a student of sorts of Jobs’ career and life. Here’s my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our “inner Steve Jobs.”

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

Related: Steve Jobs’ Surprising First Business Venture

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?   

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

Related: 10 Things to Thank Steve Jobs For

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

There’s one story that I think sums up Jobs’ career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

Related: Remembering Apple’s Steve Jobs

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Hi and Welcome

We are Occasionally Gifted and this is our first attempt at writing a blog. We are an Internet based gift, gift basket and flower business. When we discussed the idea of creating this blog one of our objectives was to make sure that we did not turn this into one long commercial for our business but what could we possibly have to say that would be of interest to anyone?

In trying to answer that question I came across this twitter bio from M A Caruso, “I’ve learned I don’t know anything. Have also learned that people will pay for what I know.  Life is good.”

Well that just works for me. Since we are not looking to make money at this we are hopeing that our observations, anecdotes and reflections on the wins and learning we have experienced while building our business will provide an opportunity to dialogue with our clients, to share experiences with other small business entrepreneurs and to indulge some personal fantasies on writing. What a payback this could be!!

Join us anytime. Make suggestions. Share your observations, likes and dislikes. The act of sharing will provide the value.