Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Little Books

A couple of quick ones.

Small books designed for busy people

For businesspeople who are wrapped up in their daily duties but want to read, these little books could be the solution.

Strange but true! Not everyone has the time and attention they imagine they need to read books that could help them in their work. I'm a fast reader and endlessly curious about a zillion things, so that's my motivation, but many people are wrapped up in their daily duties and think they're too busy to read a book.

Maybe if they discovered shorter books with tighter, more concentrated material, those issues wouldn't keep the benefits of enlightenment and personal development — and the pleasure of productive reading — from them.

To that end, here are two new books that can each be sampled and enjoyed over a couple of lunch hours or during other brief moments throughout the day.

The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do. Mark Sanborn. Doubleday. 144 pages.

Sanborn, an author and speaker, focuses here on the fundamentals. The effect he alludes to in his title is evocative of the appreciative recognition that performers receive when they provide a superior performance. Similar to the recent "Bulletproof Your Job" by Stephen Viscusi, the intent here is to coach the reader into becoming an essential and irreplaceable member of the team. Unlike that author, Sanborn is far gentler and less didactic while advising and presenting the requisite amount of illustrative ane
cdotes to demonstrate the value of his ideas. He draws examples from a diversity of sources, and this variety adds value. For example, he cites the founder of Chick-Fil-A, who closes all of his 1,240 outlets on Sundays, consistent with his religious beliefs. He also lightly admonishes author Richard Carlson, contradicting the premise of his bestselling Don't Sweat The Small Stuff. Sure, avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary details, Sanborn says, but many of those details are quite necessary and can spell the difference between success and something far less.

This little book can either serve as a pleasant refresher course for veterans or a lesson book of basic business behavior for younger employees. Either way, it can't hurt and can certainly help.

My Little Black Book to Success. Tom Marquardt. Tate Publishing. 146 pages.

Fort Myers resident Marquardt brands himself as "The Profit Repairman," and his little book is aimed mainly at small businesspeople.

How apropos!

The tone is helpful and folksy; no one will confuse his prose with any great literary work, but that's all right. Marquardt might have benefited from working with a more demanding editor, but his ideas come through regardless. It's clear that he's lived through many of the challenges he writes about and is not an academic or a theoretician. For executives of start-ups and modest enterprises who may not have had formal business training, Marquardt explains sales, marketing, human resources, accounting and operations in comprehensible and actionable terms. Few business operators will find everything contained in this book brand new and revelatory, but the benefit of Marquardt's approach is that he presents his lessons simply and unambiguously.

The current business environment will likely continue to be challenging, but modest operations can navigate through it more nimbly than most larger concerns. Though an endless stream of new books offer radical and revolutionary ideas, it's likely that managers of these smaller companies will benefit from Marquardt's easy and pleasing approach to the fundamentals.

Originally published 9/22/08 in The Miami Herald

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