Friday, February 12, 2010

Book Review: The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig

I listened to the book "The Halo Effect" by Phil Rosenzweig. My short review is that it's a bitter pill. It feels as if you're having a conversation with college professor that has all the data to prove what is wrong with all the business books you have read. This book carefully dispels all the myths that are present in many business books.

In view of the 94 business books that I am planning to read, this does not bode well. The information on this book is like a rain on my parade.

But since I already read the book, I will consider it its advice but try to remain unfazed. I learned important concepts such as "correlation doesn't mean causality". Another point mentioned in the book is that CEO's decisions are not entirely responsible for the performance of a company. Actually they may be 4% responsible, according to some research. As the author said, if you have that fact in mind, it should make it a challenge to read a book such as "From Good To Great", in which the main idea is to show how good executive decisions made a company successful. The author challenges this philosophy by stating that a company's decisions are a complete gamble. You're just trying your luck.

So, forget everything about "Judgment" or "The Art of the Start"?

I just think every business book is a world in itself, and it has useful information, but after reading The Halo Effect, I think I'm cured from giving my complete trust in any particular business book.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Book Review: The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.

Chet Holmes truly is a master of his craft, which is "making you want to read what he writes", and it's a direct result of all his philosophy, which is shared in detail in this book. I actually enjoyed listening to it in audio format, and was very intrigued by the ideas in there. When you read the title you might think that it's a book about how to make yourself into an Ultimate Sales Machine, but instead it goes bigger that that; it means "how to turn your company into an Ultimate Sales Machine". It's not a manual on sales per se, but more a manual on practical business strategy, although a bit unorthodox. It all orbits around an educational approach to running a business: first by educating your workforce until they know your company and product in and out (to the point where the business "can run itself"), then going into educating your clients with hard facts about why they should be worried, and then communicating how your product will ease their pains. This book has great insights on interviewing people and testing their personality by interacting with them, although some of this advice is bordering on the politically incorrect: in short, it advises to hassle the prospective employee and see if they put up a fight, which would be a good sign.

The Ultimate Sales Machine is exciting to read, and I'm glad I chose it as one of the first ones on my list of 100.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Using a Tasks list.

After making countless types of lists to track all the things I need to do at work and at home, I have narrowed down one useful habit, perhaps influenced by listening to the Audiobook "The Art of the Start" by Guy Kawasaki, in the topic of time management. I find that for my own tasks at work, the "Tasks" component of Microsoft Outlook works pretty well. I can quickly add any task that needs to be finished. If I need to route it to a project, say in Basecamp, I can do that later, but one of the ways I catch it is by adding it to "Tasks". But then I weed out the non-task items. What I believe is that any item in the Tasks module should be for "immediate finishable tasks". Not wishes, nor strategic plans or reminders. Those can be kept in separate lists. Tasks should be considered things that can be finished reasonably in about an hour.
OK, that may sound farfetched, since there are tasks that obviously take longer. What works for me is breaking it up. If something will take longer than an hour and you want it in Tasks, break it into one hour tasks. That way it's easy to calculate time. Otherwise it belongs to another type of list of your choosing, not the Tasks list. The point of a task is to finish it and not let it linger and bug you over and over.