The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Subtitle: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Synopsis of Content:

The seminal book on personal development and leadership of the 1980s this book, first published in 1989, was a #1 best seller and continues to be a popular book. In it Covey divides personal development into seven categories and assigns to them a habit or set of habits that will improve one’s life.

First Covey discusses the importance of principles and of leading one’s life according to principles. He also discussed our perceptions and how we can change the way we look at things through shifting a paradigm. Then he moves to the seven habits.

The seven habits are Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw. Covey labels the first three habits as the Personal Victory, how we master our own lives. The last four are called the Public Victory, how we become more effective with others.

He maintains that one must first achieve effectiveness for ourselves, the private victory, before we can attain effectiveness with others. The habits are presented in an order based on what we need to work on first, second, etc.

Covey’s analysis of perceptions and paradigms was a novel approach to a self-help book at the time it came out. The brilliant aspect of the book was not so much the content of the seven habits, there was little new in that, it was the way he organized these ideas and related them to one another. His reliance on principle centered thinking was also unique.

A second unique aspect of the book is the emphasis on basing one’s decisions on principles, which Covey maintains are universal. He argues that principles are timeless, they have always existed and always will, and are universal; they apply equally to every culture and place. He emphasizes that because principles are universal and inherently true they serve as a sound basis to guide one’s life.

What I found useful about this book:

I can still remember the day I bought this book in 1994. I cannot say that about any other book I purchased nearly twenty years ago. I can remember standing in front of the bookstore bookshelf and looking over the book, wondering if it was worth the price and the time to read it. In time I read the book six times and am now reviewing it for the seventh time. Each time I read it I learn more.

I must admit this is my favorite book on personal development and improvement. It is comprehensive in scope, covering every important aspect of personal development. It challenges you and informs you. To the extent you can apply the principles and habits Covey teaches you realize great benefit. This book contains valuable lessons about how to organize your time and your life.

I highly recommend this book. If you read only one book on personal development this year this should be the book.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is written in an easy and very readable style. It has excellent examples and illustrations of the lessons he teaches. It is very well organized.

Notes on Author:

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a university professor, writer and lecturer. He was very influential. He was co-founder of the Franklin-Covey Co. Dr. Covey died in 2012.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Live out your imagination, not your history. Know that you have full control over what you do. Accept full responsibility for your life. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
  1. A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
  1. The bottom line is, when people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team they work with and prioritized their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they discover they have the time they need to have a whole life.

The Books2Wealth Book of the Month for October 2013

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Copyright holder: 1989 by Stephen R. Covey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Things Have Changed Dad

One of my sons reminds me frequently that things have changed. It is not the same world I grew up in, not the same world I attended college in, not the same world I built a career in. His generation faces different challenges. He suggests that many of the principles I offer are no longer relevant.

To some extent he is right of course, but in some ways, I think not.

My son got a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts with the expectation that it would qualify him for a job that paid better than minimum wage. He was quickly disappointed. He moved to a larger urban area but was still earning minimum wage. He had friends in his age group that faced a similar problem. He had been told to work hard, do well in school and you will be rewarded. He now believed that had all been a lie, or least an outdated idea. He told me that the work hard and you’ll succeed idea may have been valid when I was a young man but is no longer true.

It is painful for a father to watch his son do all the right things and then struggle with disappointing results. We all want out children to succeed. Those struggles of my son and many in his generation who came of age during a severe recession have caused me to re-evaluate my assumptions about success and the things I write about on this blog.

For some perspective I also must remember my own struggles as a young man. I graduated with a B.S. degree in liberal arts as well but back in 1976. Jimmy Carter was President and the nation was in a recession. We faced “stagflation”, a crippling combination of high inflation and a stagnate economy with high unemployment. We had recently suffered through the OPEC oil embargo, long lines at the gas station, and high fuel prices. In the summer of 1976 I found how little that four-year degree did to improve my employment prospects. I worked in a soft drink bottling plant 12 hours a day at minimum wage. Then I was a janitor. Then I worked as a dishwasher and cook.

But I had a plan. My plan all along was to use that four-year degree to get into law school and become a professional. After working for 15 months to save money to attend law school I did just that – I went to law school.  After law school, I built my own law practice from the ground up. It was a struggle. It was several years before I was earning a decent income.

My son was not impressed. Things were different now. His struggle was harder. His generation got a raw deal.

There is some truth in my son’s view. It is hard for many of today’s young people. Not since the great Depression have so many of them continued to live with parents. To be sure however many of that generation are doing well. My older son works in sales and did not even finish college. He is doing quite well.

So is my younger son right? Are the bromides of the past outdated and largely irrelevant in a changed world and a changed economy? I suggest that most of those traditional ideas about how to be successful are still valid but that many will still struggle financially despite doing the right things.

Choices

The choices we make about education, training, where we live and what career path we choose all play a large role in how well we will do. That has always been true. It was true when I was 25 and it is true now for my 25-year-old son. Choose a medically related career, engineering, sales and several other fields and success is much more likely. Young people must decide what they want to do and they must choose those careers that are in demand. A few people may carve out a niche in a field that is not in high demand and still do well, but for the majority it is critical to choose the right career. Likewise, choices about where we live, when we decide to marry and have a family also play a large role in our chances of success.

Hard Work

The willingness to work hard still provides rewards. While it is true that all hard work is not rewarded as a rule success in a globally competitive world requires hard work. Employers prefer hard workers. If someone wants to start a business of their own hard work is essential.

Integrity

Integrity is just as important today as ever. Some would say it is in short supply today though I am not sure I agree. I do see that those who are honest and have high personal integrity are more effective working with others and are more successful.

Frugality

It remains as important as ever to spend less than we earn, to save and invest wisely and to build for the future. Lifelong employment with a single company is now the exception rather than the rule. Corporate pension plans are no longer as secure as they once were. Government programs like Social Security never provide all that people need in retirement and their future is always subject to political whim.

Education

Education and increasing one’s skill sets and knowledge are more important today than ever. As my son correctly points out his generation is learning that conventional higher education may not always be the best way to go although it still has merit. Lifelong learning however remains critical to maintaining one’s competitive edge no matter where you live or what you do.

Conclusion

My son is right that things have changed. Technological change is increasingly rapid. We now live in an increasingly competitive global market. Social change is also faster than ever before. Adapting to this change requires agility and effort more than in the past. But some things have not changed. Hard work, integrity, frugality and education remain important and in many ways are more important today than they were when I was a young man.

The challenge for us all is to maintain these age-old principles while adapting to a changed world. The principles that have always contributed to success however still apply and may be more important today than ever.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.

Book Review

Title and Author:  Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.

Synopsis of Content:

Donald Rumsfeld has had a tremendous career in the military, business and government. He served as a flight instructor in the US Navy from 1954-1957, Administrative assistant to two Congressman, Stock Broker, and Representative from Illinois to Congress from 1962-1969. He served four Presidents as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program, Counselor to the President, Ambassador to NATO, White House Chief of Staff, twice as Secretary of Defense, once under President Ford and later under President Bush. He was CEO of two large corporations, special envoy for the President to for the Law of the Sea Treaty, Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East, and Chairman of the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission. His experience covers the period from 1954-2006 – five decades in business and government.

In the course of this rich experience he collected a series of principles, rules of conduct, executive tips, government tips, and leadership lessons. This book is a compilation of those rules and some interesting insight into where their use or lack of use led to success and failure.

The book though is also a peek inside the White House during four presidencies (Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush) as well as government outside those administrations. The rules are set out under some rubrics, including On Business and Management, On Serving in Government, On Politics and Congress, On the Press, Serving in the White House, For the Department of Defense, On Intelligence, and On Life and Other Things.

The rules include quotes and lessons learned from many of the key leaders around the world during the 20th century, many of whom Rumsfeld knew and his own experience and lessons learned.

This book is also a political commentary of sorts. Rumsfeld is a lifelong Republican and does not hide that fact. He peppers his stories with political commentary.

However whether you agree or disagree with Rumsfeld’s political views you can benefit from learning about his rules and lessons on a large number of subjects under the general heading of effective leadership – both in business and in government.

What I found useful about this book:

First this is a rich collection of anecdotes and lessons from a lifetime of service in government and business. The list of “rules” is very long but is very instructive. It was also interesting to see government through the eyes of a long time insider in Washington.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written, easy to follow and entertaining as well as instructive.

Notes on Author:

Donald Rumsfeld served in government and business for five decades and under four Presidents. His experience is broad. He is a thoughtful man who has collected the best lessons about leadership he could find over a lifetime.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. You never really lose until you quit trying (Mike Ditka).
  1. When you are skiing, if you are not falling, you are not trying.
  1. Simply because a problem is shown to exist it does not necessarily follow that there is a solution.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for September 2013.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.

Copyright holder: ©2013 by Donald Rumsfeld

Publisher: Broadside Books, Harper Collins Publishers. Available on Kindle.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Investing in Secondary Market Structured Settlement Payments by Kathy Manson

Guest Post

Many individual investors, as well as financial professionals, are unfamiliar with the opportunity to buy structured settlement annuity payments in the secondary market. While with all investments certain risks exist when buying what are often referred to as “secondary market annuity payments”, a savvy buyer might be able to find a greater return with this product than they could by acquiring annuity payments directly from annuity issuers.

At the outset it is important to review what a structured settlement actually is. A structured settlement is a type of out of court settlement of a civil lawsuit that involves the Plaintiff accepting deferred compensation from the Defendant instead of a lump sum upfront. The deferred compensation may be monthly payments, annual payments or lump sum payments due in the future. This settlement mechanism is utilized for not only the most serious cases but often in connection with basic personal injury lawsuit.  In order to effectuate the resolution, the Plaintiff requires that the Defendant acquire an annuity to pay the deferred payment settlement. These annuities are issued by companies like Berkshire Hathaway, Allstate Life Insurance Company, American General Life Insurance Company and other well-known companies. Once finalized, these annuities cannot be modified by the parties so the Plaintiff (now the “Payee”) is locked into the schedule of payments he agreed to.

The opportunity for buyers to acquire some or all of the structured settlement payments from the Payee arises when the Payee’s circumstances change and is in need of an immediate influx of cash instead of waiting on the deferred payout plan. When such a situation arises, the payee will reach out to a factoring company and the factoring company will make an offer to purchase some or all of the structured settlement annuity payments in exchange for paying the Payee a lump sum of money. If the payee and factoring company agree to a transaction, the factoring company must file the contractual documents in the county state court where the payee resides and get a judge’s approval to acquire the payments from the Payee. This process has been established by Federal law working in conjunction with statutes passed by most state legislatures.

Factoring companies, however, do not technically buy the annuity payments from the Payee. Instead, they work as brokers and after the Payee agrees to the terms of a transaction, the factoring company look for a willing buyer or “assignee” of the structured settlement annuity payments. In other words, the factoring company makes its profit by finding a buyer of the deferred payments that is willing to pay more for the payments than the Payee has agreed to sell the same to the factoring company for.

Historically, most buyers/assignees of secondary market structured settlement payments were large institutional investors including banks. These banks issued lines and the factoring companies aggregated these assigned payments until the mass of payments was large enough for a securitization. In time, individual buyers emerged as another group that wanted to acquire these annuity payments in the secondary market instead of buying an actual annuity directly from the issuer. The reason for the interest was that, generally speaking, the rate of return on payments in secondary market was substantially more than one could find when working directly with the annuity issuer.

While the rate of return of associated with these payments is appealing, any potential buyer must vet out in great detail whether this is a suitable acquisition. There are potential risks, including the creditworthiness and underwriting of the factoring company, associated with the assignment of these payments.  Any buyer would be wise to speak to multiple outlets working with these payments and gather as much information as possible before proceeding. In addition, if one proceeds it may be prudent to have a lawyer familiar with the product underwrite the file before funding any transaction.

 

Kathy Manson has completed graduation from Boston College with a Financial Management Degree. She worked for a big finance firms as Catalina Structured Funding, Inc. & SelectFunders.com She is very proactive and aware about each and every update of financial changes in the industry.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Synopsis of Content:

This is a somewhat different kind of book on how to succeed written by a very unique businessman, and that is actually his point, we are all unique, we should embrace and use our individuality and avoid conformity. Although the author is a businessman he has spent a substantial amount of time as a “serial entrepreneur” and has on numerous occasions gone against the advice of others. He marches to his own drum.

Although he groups his success principles under three broad categories: Reclaiming Your Mentality, Creating Winning Ideas, and Transforming Ideas into Achievements; each main grouping contains a number of subcategories.

The gist of his thesis is that first we must assume full control of our own mental state. Having done this we act intentionally and thoughtfully, not automatically. Here he uses a Situation – Thought – Reaction paradigm which is very similar to ones discussed by Jack Canfield, Stephen R. Covey and others. This idea that we can and should choose our own reaction to outside stimuli is an old one. However Blake gives us a different perspective on this. As with much of his thinking here he is influenced by his extensive study of physics and other branches of science.  He explains how science has given us modern insight into how we think and react that is missing from other writings on this subject.

Next the author uses teachings on the power of the mind and the law of attraction that go back at least to the teaching of William James, Prentice Mulford, and James Allen. Again however his understanding and application of the law of attraction is different from what has been written before – he gives us a new way of looking at these things. He then teaches how these principles can be used to become more creative and successful.

In fact Blake provides a fresh look at ideas that have been around a very long time. He also presents new ideas to replace the old. He says that a positive mental attitude alone is not enough to be successful. Real accomplishment in the US has been by individuals who worked very hard and paved their own path.

Best of all this book makes you think. He forces us to take a critical look at a lot of success literature and reexamine it in light of both what science has discovered and what his own experience has taught him.  He gives you some simple tools, like practicing quiet time, a form of meditation, which is very useful. This is not a book to read through quickly and put away; this is a book to study carefully and return to.

Blake is a fresh voice on success. His work can be appealing to the conservative businessperson as well as the new age reader. His writing is insightful and forces the reader to think in new ways about some very old ideas. He has used these techniques to achieve success.

Blake is also bold. He does not pull punches. He criticizes those things he finds unworthy of belief or unproven. There is a refreshing genuineness to his writing.

The author is donating the profits from the book to cancer research. He says he is not a “success guru” but a successful businessman who has discovered what works in the pursuit of personal and financial success and wants to tell the world about it.

Usefulness:

This book is very useful to anyone who wants to expand their ability to think for themselves and to increase their effectiveness. It will be useful to anyone seeking genuine success.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written. He uses stories to illustrate his ideas. He draws heavily on his own experiences and that of his family but also on science and the experience of others. The book is well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:

Trevor Blake is a serial entrepreneur and businessman. He has excelled in sales and in building businesses. He has developed new business models. He has demonstrated the courage and fortitude to go his own way despite heavy criticism. He was born in the UK but has since relocated to the US. He describes himself as not being a “self-help guru” but a pragmatic businessman.

Related Website:

http://trevorgblake.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Pause before you speak. Give yourself time to really think about your response rather than just responding with a gut response. Choose your reactions carefully. Be self-aware.
  1. Create intentions rather than goals. An intention should be in the positive, what you want to come about, but phrased in the present tense, as though it has already happened.
  1. Take quiet time each day to mediate for about 20 minutes and then to reflect on and repeat your intentions.

I highly recommend this book.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Copyright holder: 2012 by Trevor Blake

Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for August 2013

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Good Habits, Better Habits and Change

Good Habits are always good, right? Well, maybe not always. Stephanie Vozza recently wrote at the Fast Company blog about how some good habits may be holding you back. How can this be?

It can be because of change. We face change more and more today. It happens in places it did not used to happen. It happens faster than ever before and often it is more disruptive than in the past. As a result what worked well yesterday will not necessarily work well tomorrow. It may not work at all.

Vozza cites arguments made by Rod Favaron, CEO and president of technology company Spredfast. He came in to lead a startup and now that they have some sustained success he finds he is leading a different kind of company. He finds that what worked for the startup does not necessarily work for the more established business.

Vozza also points out that what might have worked well in one company may not work well at all in another company. People move from one business to another more often these days so this could be very important.

All these points are well made but I suggest they only tell part of the story. There are some universal habits based on unchanging principles that do not change. Habits based on acting with integrity for example serve one well regardless of the change around us. Acting with integrity may well be more important in a rapidly changing world.

I suggest that the challenge is to discern between those habits that still serve you well and those that may not. To help make that distinction I suggest these steps:

  1. Is the habit based on a timeless principle such as integrity or honesty? If it is it will not likely lose effectiveness regardless of what else changes.
  2. Is the habit still working? Does getting up and running every morning still contribute to your fitness?
  3. Has the habit failed to keep up with technology? Can email better communicate to an organization than a paper memo?

Although Vozza’s article was directed at young companies transforming from startups to a second stage growth the principles involved in evaluating the continuing value of a habit can apply equally to other situations including our private lives.

Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

How Did That Happen? by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for April 2013 

Title and Author:  How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Synopsis of Content:

The subtitle of this book, Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way, is a good description of the book’s purpose. The book starts with questions about How Did That Happen – first focusing on the financial crisis which began in 2007. Financial markets melted down, billions of dollars were lost, banks faced bankruptcy and many other businesses were in trouble. Using this as a starting place the authors ask the frequently heard question, how did that happen, and then discuss how to avoid the need for that question by using proper accountability systems.

The authors have devised a graphic presentation of their work consisting of two concentric rings: an inner ring and an outer ring. These rings define what they call the accountability sequence.

The outer ring includes the basis for establishing expectations, a foundation to insuring accountability. The outer ring includes a focus on Form, Communication, Alignment, and Inspection. They explain in great detail how these functions should be used to create clear expectations for employees and others.

Inside the outer ring is the inner ring which focuses on the four solutions: motivation, training, culture and accountability.

Together these functions create clear expectations and then provide the basis for accountability for the execution of those expectations. They also stress the importance of doing this work in a positive principled way.

The book is a very thorough examination of what goes wrong with accountability and why. These reasons include a failure to clearly define expectations, properly communicate them, provide proper positive and principled feedback, and holding everyone from the top to the bottom of an organization accountable for following through. The authors use both a detailed theoretical explanation as well as a rich palette of examples of what can go right and wrong depending on how you implement these solutions.

Usefulness:

Anyone who works in any organization where people’s performance is critical to success can benefit from this book. It is equally applicable in business, nonprofits, and government. It provides a framework for how to clearly establish a foundation for accountability and making it work. It will prove particularly valuable to those in management and control of an organization but elements of it would be useful to anyone working with others where expectations and accountability are important. It is difficult to imagine any organization where these things are not critical.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well organized and well written. It is moderately difficult and builds on a sequence of concepts that require some study and review.

Notes on Author:

The authors are well established advisors and consultants who have written other best seller business books including The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City. Their business is Partners in Leadership, Inc.

Related Website:

www.howdidthathappen.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is most useful to assume that people are trying to do the right thing. Searching for flaws in the system which establishes expectations is more productive then finding fault.
  1. It is critical to clearly define and communicate expectations to insure accountability.
  1. It is equally critical to manage expectations and focus attention on that process throughout any business operation.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Copyright holder: 2009 by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Publisher: Penguin Group

Get the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Synopsis of Content:

This is an in depth study of the life of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and one of the most instrumental people in the development of the personal computer and other digital products.

Jobs was a genius, an artist, a successful businessman, a corporate leader, a thought leader, an innovator, a rebel and an eccentric. In the late 1970s he dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. He developed the concept of a fully integrated personal computer with software and hardware that Apple controlled exclusively. He was forced out of Apple in 1985 and went on to form his own company to build the NeXt computer. He then became a key player in Pixar and helped launch it as the most successful digital animation producer in the world. Apple eventually purchased Pixar.

In 1994 he returned to Apple at their invitation when the company was not doing well. What followed was one product success after another with the iMac, the iPod, iPhone, iTunes and iPad. On October 5, 2011 Jobs died of pancreatic cancer which he had struggled with for over six years. He was 56.

In addition to telling the story of Apple and Job’s influence on it and its products, the book delves into his personal life and his personality. Few punches are pulled. Jobs is depicted as narcissistic and often brutal in his relationships with colleagues, friends and family. He generally put his work before everything else. His relationships with his children were often troubled. He had little contact with his first daughter, Lisa.

In 1991he married Laurene Powell, a business student. Their marriage is described as successful though Powell had to learn to live with someone who was often difficult.

Jobs was known for being brutally honest in his work. He would declare a proposed idea or product “shit” and demean the people involved in it. He claimed his single aim was to assemble A class people to build A class products to serve the public in the best possible way. He had a unique ability to get the most performance out of people who respected him despite his often difficult inter-personal style. He also would lavish praise on people and their work when he liked it. People often found themselves liking him despite his rough edges.

He was famous for perfecting the “launch” of a new product with a carefully planned stage presentation. New products were kept secret until he unveiled them at these presentations. He was a master at public relations and marketing. He did not believe in asking the customer what they wanted. Rather, he believed it was his role to discover what the next big thing should be and then educate the public about it. He would tell them what they needed and this was almost always successful.

His artistic and design emphasis kept a focus on hardware and software that was elegantly designed. At the same time he possessed a vision of the future while paying excruciating attention to detail.

The computer industry developed along two separate tracks: the open system where software was licensed on different computers, championed by Bill Gates at Microsoft and the totally controlled and integrated model that Jobs maintained at Apple. He would rarely license any Apple software for other manufacturers. If you wanted Apple software and products you had to get them from Apple. Apple became the largest computer company and the most profitable on Job’s watch.

The book does a masterful job of showing us who Steve Jobs was as a person, a CEO, a designer, visionary and businessman. He was a complex man with a genius for knowing what the public would want before they knew what they would want.

This is an outstanding book both as a biography and a study of what makes success in business.

Usefulness:

Reading about successful people is always useful. You can learn a lot about the importance of focus, simplicity, dedication to detail and devotion to quality from this book. You will also learn some aspects of a CEO personality which probably would not be wise to emulate.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written. It holds your attention and is well organized. The author juggles lots of characters and time lines well. You never feel lost.

Notes on Author:

Walter Issacson is the CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been chairman of CNN and managing editor at Time magazine. Issacson also wrote bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger and Albert Einstein.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is critical to maintain focus to be successful. It is as important to know what to say no to as to what to say yes to. Jobs always focused on perfecting a few products rather than being weighed down with too many.
  1. Attention to detail is as important as attention to the grand vision. Jobs understood this and launched a series of high quality products that generated customer loyalty and lots of revenue. He said he was not interested in making money but in changing the world. If he made money in the process that was fine.
  1. To get the most out of people you must challenge them. A high quality company needs high quality people and some ruthlessness in maintaining quality is essential to product success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Copyright holder: 2011 Walter Issacson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Book of the Month for July 2013

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Into the Storm by NT Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:

Two books in one, Into the Storm is a thrilling account of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and especially the challenges faced by the amateur crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler, a small 35 foot yacht that won the race. In the second part of the book the author analyzes the team dynamics of the winning boat and those that lost. From this analysis the authors provide excellent lessons on how to form a team, manage a team and the team dynamics that work best, especially when the team is faced with an extremely demanding challenge.

At its best the Sydney to Hobart race, in Open Ocean, from Sydney, Australia to Hobart, Tasmania, some 732 statutory miles, is a grueling challenge in sailing. It requires the best prepared boats and teams, the highest caliber of sailing skill and the most effective team work. At its worst this race is deadly. The 1998 race was unique in that the boats sailed into a hurricane they did not expect and faced extreme peril. Of the 115 boats participating only 44 reached the finish line. Twenty-five sailors were washed over board and seven died. Fifty-five sailors were rescued. It was the largest sea rescue in Australian history.

The crews that stayed in the race were faced with over 36 hours of bruising conditions. The waves reached 100 feet and winds exceeded 100 knots. The overall race winner, the AFR Midnight Rambler, accomplished what larger boats and professional sailors were not able to due to the remarkable team work.

In the second part of the book the authors discuss the ten prime lessons of team work that made the AFR Midnight Rambler a survivor and a winner. These lessons can be of great value to any team even those not faced with a life threatening challenge.

Usefulness:

Anyone who works with other people, anyone who is part of any kind of team and anyone who depends on a team working effectively will benefit from reading this book. While most readers will never face the challenge this race provided the lessons in team work taught will benefit every team no matter what the challenge.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This book is very well written. The first part is a fast paced page-turner that is entertaining, educational and inspiring. The second part provides useful analysis that is easy to understand but not over simplified.

Notes on Author:

Dennis N. T. Perkins, author of Leading at The Edge, is CEO of Syncretics Group. His group serves as consultants to helping leaders succeed. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Jillian B. Murphy is Director of Client Services at Syncretics and works as an executive coach.

Related Website:

http://www.syncreticsgroup.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Make the team the rock star. High profile sailors are often given special privileges on boats and they are called rock stars. Treating individual team members this way can have a negative effect on team cohesiveness and effectiveness. Making the entire team a unit and making all members equally important contributes to team success.
  1. Extreme preparation for any challenge is the first essential. When the team believes they have prepared enough they need to prepare even more. Nothing can be over looked and nothing can be assumed.
  1. Effectiveness at “the Edge” requires Relentless Learning by the entire team. It requires continuous innovation and improvement of skills and methods. In the highly competitive world where teams operate today this principle is essential.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2013 by Dennis N. T. Perkins

Publisher: Amacom Books, a division of the American Management Association.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for June 2013

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Deliberate Practice

“Practice makes perfect”. Or does it? We are brought up being told that practice is the key to attain proficiency in most anything. In school we practice throwing a baseball, playing the piano, reciting the times tables and a thousand other examples of practice. The lesson we soon learn is that if you repeat something often enough you get good at it.

To an extent this is true. As we practice we refine our approach here and there. Practice at physical activity builds coordination and muscle strength. Practice of mental activity makes us faster and more proficient at whatever task we are practicing. To a limit. Anyone who has practiced anything extensively finds that they reach a plateau – a point where performance no longer improves. Repeating the same thing over and over builds general ability and makes complex things easier to do. But there comes a point when nothing improves. We just keep doing the same thing over and over.

People who are training to get better and better at something must learn to improve their performance. This kind of practice is called “deliberate practice”. It is about refining our practice, learning to improve performance, and making it a bit better each time. It take concentration and a lot of work. It requires careful observation, thinking and adjustments in the way we do whatever we are practicing.

James Clear wrote an article on this that provides examples of people who have used deliberate practice to continuously improve their performance. Golfer Ben Hogan, Benjamin Franklin, sushi chef Jiro Ono, martial artist Josh Waitzkin and chess master Magnus Carlsen are a few such examples discussed in Clear’s article. Those that use a highly focused and disciplined form of deliberate practice get better and better all the time. They do not plateau unless they reach some inherent physical limitation. Even then they may find a way to exceed such limits.

If you merely want to get good at something practice. If you want to get great at something you must learn deliberate practice. It takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but it pays off.

Read Clear’s article here to learn more about deliberate practice.

Learn how to get great at something. What would you like to be great at?

Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com