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Hi. My name is Terry, and I'm the President of Quicksilver Accounting & Consulting,  Wilmington NC.

I created this blog to offer little hints, ideas, strategies and sometimes just silly excerpts from life to help other entrepreneurs gain insight.

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I LOVE TO READ!

 

If you are in business, spending a minimum of 20 minutes a day reading something that will boost your business acumen is a must.

I'll be sharing some of my reading experiences here, both business and personal, in hopes you might get excited enough to trudge to your closest B&N or get online at Amazon and order up a slice of knowledge, or a great experience in the creative world of writing.

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September 2013

Yes, I know its been awhile.. but I've been reading like crazy.  I just finished a Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon. I'm kind of excited because our Book Club (which was disbanded about a year ago)  is getting together tomorrow at my house. The reason?  My former  client James Kaufman has written his second book in his Trilogy. The first was The Collectibles.  The second is The Concealers.  We have already read it, and are getting together to catch up and to review his second book.  I was lucky enough to read it before it was published, and I really enjoyed it.  The characters are even richer, and the interweaving from the first book is great.  Its availalbe on Amazon in Hardcover, Soft or E Reader as well.

 

February 2012

I recently got a Kindle Fire.  I'm enjoying reading some of my books there.  I do have an ipad also- so I like that they all sync automatically - wherever I choose to read.

What I'm reading now:

Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader 

Linda Hill and Kent Lineback

NCI Effect: Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPA's

Bruce Clark

January 012

Conqueror, A Novel of Kublai Khan

Conn Iggulden

This is a continuation of the series I've read over the last year + starting with Genghis Khan... It's been very entertaining, and really points out the tenacity they had. Their ability to reach out so far and fight battles for years on end shows this.  There is alot of family turmoil in these books, as brothers fight to become Khan and their mothers or wives work behind the scene to promote their particular family line.  I like reading historical fiction- and this has been a very interesting series.  These books are available through Amazon as he is not a US author.

 

October, 2011

Went on to... A Dance with Dragons:A Song of Ice and Fire-Book five

Ok- I'm glad I'm done. Enjoyed all five books- but the last seemed a little long winded and maybe not enough action.  Glad I'm done here for awhile- with each book being over 1000 pages- its a real commitment for someone with little time.

A Feast of Crows- George R Martin

What can I say... book four and I'm still loving it.  Finished the whole book reading from my Ipad late each night when I returned from our France outings all day or in the plane. I had already started it when I left, and it seems like it took a month to finish..but it was good, every last page. 

Can't wait to start the new one, A Dance with Dragons, but each is such a commitment you need a little rest in between to get other things done, like reading the 12 magazines I get each month that were in my mailbox when we arrived back from vacation..  Fortune, Inc, More, Oprah, Southern Living, Accounting Today, Weight Watchers, yes even AARP. I read everything!  Love them all.

 

September, 2011

Creating Customer Evengelists

Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba- Second Edition

I started reading this book on my flight to Paris, and was quite engaged, so I finished it that very night.  I'm not saying there wasn't the same information you might have read somewhere else, in some other article, but I did find that there were good ideas that could inspire me to new heights and I bookmarked several pages to come back to later on.  

There were several case studies, some large companies you know well, others smaller. One of the ideas they repeated was the each company developed relationships with customers, often a reflection on how they did business. It wasn't about making the most money, it was how do we help the client, and how do we partner with them?

There was a short synopsis of why customer evangelish works- here were the 5 listed:

1. The volunteer (customer) is a trusted friend

2.  The advice is coming from an independent source

3.  The message is usually genuine and free of hype

4.  The value of the product or service is personalized for the recipient

5.  The referrer explains the value until it's fully understood by the recipient

This is 'organic in nature, It's grass roots. It sprouts from customer level and begins to bloom with customers talking with each other".

Its stated, but I'm sure we don't hear it, "LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS".  They have a term for gathering feedback called Customer Plus-Delta which gathers quantitative and qualitative information. Ask for feedback.

Read the book- it's an update of one I read earlier, but it has more client feedback and I think its got better suggestions. I think you'll find some interesting areas you might implement soon.

 

July 2011

9 Elements of Family Business Success

Allen E Fishman (Founder of The Alternate Board)

This book was suggested to me by my TAB coach,  as Quicksilver Business Solutions has just opened a new division in Raleigh, under the management of my daughter.  There is lots of down to earth ideas in this book that need to be thought through.  The author certainly hits on all the varieties of combinations of family members (including in-laws) that might join in a working environment.  Many of the areas of concern he discussed were food for thought- with actual examples from former clients giving insight to how simple things can become large problems if not addressed early on.

Most important, he brings to light how the members of a family must get know each others styles and goals for the future through various written excercises.  These  ideas don't always align, so its best to know this up front.  He is all in favor of written plans for hiring, firing, and reviewing family members.  The dynamics that bring emotional hot buttons into the work place must be dealt with so as not to effect the company.   He also points out the problems that other staff members may have to deal with, such as jealousy, feelings they are being passed over, and not appreciated in the roles they are in. 

Mr. Fishman  also speaks about how to create a succession development plan. He provides a checklist at the end of the book for various outcomes and plenty of resources to help.

I believe this is a good book for spouses who work together, parents and children, and anyone who is just about to start a business with family members, or wants to invite them to join their company in an established culture. 

March 2011

The E Myth Accountant,  Why Most Accounting Practices Don't Work and What to Do About It

Michael Greber, and Darren Root, CPA

I am going to recommend this book to anyone who has an accounting practice and wants to run a better company.  Having read E Myth several years ago, I truly get the 'working on" instead of 'working in' your firm.  This book expands on that, but really is written directly to the accounting professional by chapter inserts done by Darren. 

I have meet Darren Root at a few conferences and I find him to be a very enthusiastic person when it comes to using technolgy along with systems to help you work smarter.  I know personally how you can get bogged down in projects and working 80+ hours a week- but I also know the other side of that equation when you find good help and focus on growing and making your company scaleable. With the help of this book, I will revist each area, as I know I have room for improvement.

I think this book will help lots of people with their work vs life  scenario, therefore, helping them dig out from under the 'I have to do it all' mentality.  Read it- it's a short, easy read.

 

December, 2011

It's not that I haven't been reading...it's that I just haven't read anything exciting lately.  At my book club I complained that I just haven't been 'wowed' lately. I do have several books I have purchased, including Cleopatra, The French Blue and my first Audible book on business.  I do continue to read many weekly and monthly magazines. My favorites are Inc. and Fortune. I find getting too many weekly mags just puts too much stress to keep up...and since I listen to Bloomberg every day on the drive to and from work (XM129), along with POTUS( XM130),  they really keep me informed.  I just love Tom Keane! So I'm giving up The Economist and Bloomberg Business in 2011.

 

On another note- Mr. James Kaufman's book, The Collectables, has been published.  It's been changed since I read the original first press, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it now that it's in print. You can get a copy through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.   This is a great book for a Holiday Gift for that reader on your list.  See the info on the original review below. He has done a few signings through Wilmington, NC, with more to follow across the US. It's an exciting time for Jim.

June,2010

The Sheen on the Silk

Anne Perry, Ballantine Books

In ancient Byzantine in the early 1200's, Anna Zarides works to free her twin brother  who is being held in captivity while politics and religious conflicts abound between Rome and her home land.  By dressing as eunuch and changing her name, she works as a doctor creating a practise that increasingly gets her closer to those she thinks knows what happened, the emperor, bishop and royalty.  Meanwhile, there are all kinds of plots, revenges, hidden agendas,  and reputations coming into play.  Before the next crusade comes she foils a plot and gets the information she needs, and the man she loves.   Good historical fiction. Very well written with rich history, details and descriptions.

 

No One Would Listen, A True Financial Thriller

Harry Markopolos, The Madoff Whistleblower  , Wiley Press

No one could touch Bernie Madoff, he was the King- a creator of NASDAQ,  beloved Philanthropist (it's easy to give away money that's not yours), and market-maker.  

Harry Markopolos tried for eight long years to get the SEC to stop Mr Madoff.  The book chronicles how  and why he got involved, why it didn't make sense, all in very black and white terms, and how he presented this information at several different times during the eight years to the SEC, but no one would listen.

Written in a narrative, it takes you behind the scenes of how business is done, and the incredible fact that even the most simplest of people should have understood that no company could have made money in every month (except three)  over the course of those long eight years.  Everyone was so happy to get their share of the pie that Harry's warnings were totally ignored. What started at approximately 3-5 billion in the scheme at the first warning,  ended up as 60 billion lost when the Ponzi scheme came crumbling down along with several suicides.  Shame on you SEC- for not doing your job.  

After reading this book I realized how most people are just too trusting in their government. We assume they are doing the right thing, doing their job diligently, but that is not the case.  Since this problem the SEC has been churned up, people fired, new administration brought in. 

I no longer have the confidence I once had. It's too easy to create products no one understands, no one wants to learn about- and there are just too many greedy people that don't care how it happens- just as long as they make money.  We are all at peril each day that we don't have total transparency.   No wonder the market is in a tailspin. How could we have confidence after all the problems in the last several years have come to light.

If you are interested in how this could happen, please read this book.

 

May2010,

The Big Short, Inside the Doomsday Machine

Michael Lewis, Norton Publishing

I must be a gluten for punishment, because the books I like best read like tomes from some back office filled with bean counters, but I have to say- I really liked this book!

After having read other books about mortgage back securities, and the whole problem over at Bear Stern, how could I not progress to this.  What Michael Lewis writes in narrative is a lesson to be learned on how some people think, and how others can do all for a dollar's greed.

He really makes a good story of the truth, so you can stay interested in even the tinest of details that went into the background of the derivative markets and the securities that were tied to them. What always comes off from these is how there are enough people who will look the other way when necessary to make money, and how tough it really is to understand this market- even the experts say they have a hard time with the products.   He fills his chapters with enough side info to make each person come alive.

Whether you think the big boys like Goldman Sachs are good or bad- you get all the sides, and all the interoffice playoffs that make it a very interesting read.   I can just see this as a movie in 2011.

 

 

April 2010

Very exciting news!  It's not always the case when ones business and hobby come together- but I have been blessed!                   Client=Author= Great Time! 

The Collectibles,   by James J. Kaufman,   

Being published shortly!

 

Myself, Jim Kaufman and Sherry Coombs

Around December of 2009, Quicksilver Business Solutions started working with a new client, The Kaufman Group.  In speaking with Mr. Kaufman, somehow we got on the subject of reading.  That's when I found out Jim was an aspiring book author!  He had completed a manuscript that was going to be published in mid 2010. When I showed interest, Jim was kind enough to give me a pre-published copy to read for the holidays.  I was a little scared- what if I didn't like it?  But after having started it I knew that wouldn't be the case. When I was done, my husband read it too.  

Speaking highly about it at the next book club, all nine ladies decided they should read it also.  Jim gave us the copies and each read and loved it for various reasons.  We invited Jim to come to our next meeting, which I hosted at the Quicksilver office in Wilmington.  Jim did a reading, then we discussed the book.  It was interesting how each person picked up on something different that was a driving force for them.  Jim was really honest about how the characters were formed, what he was thinking of, and how hard the process was.  You could tell it meant a great deal to him and was a very personal,  enlightening experience.  Everyone had a great time at this book club meeting.  

We are all waiting for the hardcover to come out so we can purchase the book for our respective libraries.   I will let you all know when the book is published.  We so enjoyed the story, which I won't even hint at here, yet!

 

How Fit is Your Business, A Complete Checkup and Prescription for Better Business Health

  Mark Richardson with Sal Alfano

I was at a conference where  Mr Richardson spoke.  His ideas are very good basic business thoughts. He uses them as a 'health checkup' ,if you will, on your business, a sort of 'temperature' guide.  After reading the book you go about grading your company, then look at the guides for your fitness.  I like the way it all reads. Not everyone likes the dry conventional route of metrics and processes, so I think this might have some good meaning for people who like an easier way to get to the same objectives.   Sound ideas, but nothing new. Mr. Richardson himself was fairly entertaining and very enthusiac.

 

September 09

Creating Customer Evangelists, How Loyal Customers Become Your Sales Force

    Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba

Having flown to Texas recently, I got to read the latest book I had downloaded onto my Kindle (I love that technologic wonder!).  Business books always hold my attention on these trips- and this time was no different.  This book ultimately states what I have felt for a long time- that if you treat your clients well, with respect and the utmost care and concern, they will be the ones to move your company forward.

At Quicksilver Business Solutions, around 70% of our new clients come from referrals. And because we work in financial areas with extremly sensitive materials, it makes sense that new clients want to work with a company that has been recommend by a business associate or friend.  I picked this book to see where we could improve, as it is the number one way we reach new clients.

The book follows several well known companies and how they have made this work for them. It was noted in the book that each company had something in common.  The CEO was highly visible and felt their customer's well being must come first and that profits would follow suit if they accomplished this and they weren't afaid to use their power to make this happen.

I bookmarked several pages. The most important underlying area was that there needed to be strong communication with the customer. Whether it was through direct emails, letters, feedback from websites, or a combination, customers had to feel they could reach them, that their imput was wanted and that they would be answered back. We are not talking "I have great customer service" here, but a more direct approach from client to management, even at large companies.

The other was creating 'good buzz'- the aggreate of all person-to-person communication.  A fun approach, and an intolerance for appearing 'cheap' also were top motivators (not not be mixed up with cost conscious).

I thought it was a good read and could remind us all that having several great clients singing your praises is more valuable that any print ad you could place!  Wouldn't you love to have a few Customer Evangelists working on your side?  We are very lucky to have a few, and would like to thank them here and now. You know who you are!

August, 09

Traction by Gino Wickman

This is a great book to read if you don't have the money for private coaching.  The six step process is similar to other coaching principles I have worked with, but the clarity in which he writes, explains and offers excerpts from real people and companies makes the book come to life.  He calls his system EOS, Entrepreneurial Operating System, and I believe if you follow his instructions you could take an average company and move it to well run in a year's time with some hard work. He also provides a website where you can get various worksheets to move through the system.

Running a really good company doesn't just happen. It takes lots of forethought, planning and execution. With his system you are constantly reviewing and handling tasks. I think this is the best part because people tend to get lost in the implementation, but his system keeps you on track.

My only problem- I purchased this on my Kindle, and now I want my team members to benefit from it, so I am actually going to purchase the hardcover also. 

The Amazing Kindle DX from Amazon

I've been checking out the Kindle for awhile now, wanting to purchase, but wondering if I would really like it.  And of course, it was a bit pricey too, at approx $500.  But with our local paper getting smaller and smaller, and because when I travel I always bring several books, I decided to bite the bullet and order.

Well, I have to say, I absolutely love it!  There is nothing like waking up at 6am and having todays Wall Street Journal at your figure tips.   I also purchased my first book,  and am reading that too.  I find my eyes are not as strained on the Kindle as they are with a regular book. The size is perfect (this is the bigger one) and although I can't say I know how to do everything yet,  it wasn't that hard to learn to manage.  I love that I am able to purchase a book on the Kindle no matter where I am, which means no more having to lug around a pile of books.  The books are $9.99 each.  And the best part, the whole thing fits into my purse, so no matter where I am, if I have a few minutes free, I can read.   I highly recommend it for people who like tech stuff and have a busy life.  My son will be getting one for Christmas!   This doesn't mean I wont buy the occasional real book to continue my library, but since I have a pretty full library at present, it does mean I won't have to worry about space anymore and I'm saving a few trees.

September Update on Kindle:

I was stuck in the airport recently and had just finished my book. There was no time to get a newspaper, so while I was standing in line waiting to be seated I purchased the daily New York Times on my Kindle.  It took about 60 seconds to complete the transaction and have it show up on my Kindle as I walked into the plane. I love it!

June 09

House of Cards, A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street

  William D Cohan, Doubleday

This book took a while to finish. Not because it wasn't interesting, but because I have a habit of reading several books at once.  I really enjoyed it.  It was a great insight into how Bear Stearns went about it's business, how the excesses of Wall Street, greed and personality quirks can combine to work against a huge company.  

There is a lot to learn in this book, including the back end of how the Fed and Treasury got involved, and why after Bear Stearns went it's way, they could not help Lehman Brothers.    There is a lot of detail in the book, numbers and various positions taken.  It's a very intense book, with lots of talking points and inside looks at the particular players.  You come to understand some of those late night and long weekends they suffered, and how even competitiors can come together to try and save one of their own.

I think it gives a very good inside view to what was happening, how these companies got in trouble, and looks for answers on how to change the system so it doesn't happen again. It's a pressure cooker- and a good read.

May, 09

The Outliers, The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell, The Hatchette Book Group

I always like the idea's Mr. Gladwell writes about. His books The Tipping Point and Blink are quite well known.  In this book, he has a very interesting point.  He believes some of the success people have reached is not just because they were great business minds, but also born of the times they lived in.

At any given time, like directly after the Great Depression, or other changing event,  that a group of well known businesspeople come directly from that time period, not because they were smarter than the rest, but because the time they were coming into the business world was equally as important. He also believes there is luck in the month you might have been born, like great hockey players are mostly born in January and definitely in the first quarter of the year.

The people we recognize at present, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, Bill Hewlett, etc.  all born of a certain time, and within approx. 18 months of each other.  He tells If you were too old at that time, you would have already had a job at IBM a wife and mortgage, but if you were only right out of high school, or early college days you didn't have a care in the world, could work out of your garage for peanuts and start one of the companies that now have made them millionaires.   

Its a very interesting book, with back up research, and just a fun idea to read about.  There is also demographic luck, Legacy Luck, etc.     I guess I have no luck!

 

 

April, 09

Work the System

  The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less

   Sam Carpenter,  GreenLeaf Book Group Press

Please remind me not to choose Business Books online because they look like they are going to be interesting!  I can't tell you how little value this book gave me.   I was on page 99 and hadn't read one piece of solid advice I could do anything with.  From his hippie days, and all about the mistakes he made, which could have been solved with a little bit of organization, until finally later in life when he finally started getting it together, I was just amazed that I had purchased this book.   Eventually, by about two- thirds of the way in I did read a few ideas, but not anything I hadn't read in ten other books. You would have though he created the idea of Systems and Procedures.   Either this is for the highly unorganized, or I am jaded!

Save yourself some money- don't go there!

March, 09

The Lords of Finance, The Bankers Who Broke the World

  Liaquat Ahamed,  Penguin Press, 2009

Boy, this started out as a snoozer.  That is... me snoozing.  It's not a book you can pick up at 10pm and read with any luck. When I switched to early am it went much better!

The book is based on four Bankers, Montagu Norman of Bank of  England, Hjalmar Schact of Reichsbank,  Benjamin Strong, Federal Reserve of New York, and Emile Moreau, Banque de France whose decisions throughout  the post First World War era and their attempt to reconstruct International Finance was the bases for a financial meltdown, set the stage for World War II and effected what we have come to know as the Great Depression.

Since our economy has seen many problems of late, I felt it would be a good idea to read about what others felt caused the depression, and what lessons were to be learned.  There is plenty of history in these pages, along with the idiosyncrasies of each man, and all the people who influenced them.  If you aren't an economic junky you may feel this book is just to much.  After having gotten into it, I can say I'm really enjoying the read and the insights into what they were probably thinking.

Update April 2:

I have finished this book- and I can honestly say I really liked it.  Although there was probably too much personal information given sometimes, I really learned a good deal and it was very interesting to see how many things that happened then are shaping our decisions right now. For one, I didn't realize how much WW1 had to do with the beginning of it all.  I recommend it for people who want to know more about why its so important to act fast. At the end the author gives his opinions on what he felt were the biggest mistakes made and how to improve that. As it was written in the early part of this particular melt down, there is only the beginning hints of the present economy.   

February, 09

Social Media Marketing

   Dave Evans, Sybex Publishing

March, and I'm still reading this book. I think its a good book for people that are just starting to venture into Social Media and  really want to learn more.  One thing that is very interesting to me is that Mr. Evans actually wants you to test and measure your results.  I know we are all interesting in what is working, and what is not, but I had not really gotten around to the point where I could honestly sit down and plan a campaign using Social Media, then test and measure. It's not that I don't have the tools; I just really hadn't taken it to the extent yet.

I have decided that I will do this very thing, starting in approximately two weeks.  I don't want to spill the beans at this point, but I believe this is going to be very interesting to see how well this campaign will work.   I am very luck that the hosting company (Square Space) gives me all kinds of delicious information behind the scenes on who comes to visit, including robots, unique visits, and an actual calendar so I can see on what days the numbers jump!

I'll be reporting here by mid March to start the campaign, and again at end of March on what the results were...  check back!

Update:

I had a contest on the blog. I also gave out forty coupons announcing the contest, but I got very poor results, only three remarks.  Very poor results for this campaign!

 

Mornings on Horseback, The Story of an Extraordinary Family...

  David McCullough

In my book club we decided to do a  biography, so I choose the life and times of Teddy Roosevelt.   It's not your normal story, as it really is all about his Grandfather, Father, and himself up to the point he becomes President.   They were very family oriented, and certainly very successful.  It is truly about the whole family and how they all took care of each other.  As always, David McCullough gets into lots of the details that make them so interesting. The travels to Egypt and the Wild West, their schooling, and the company they kept, and everything in between really gives you an idea how diverse their life was. His love and admiration for his father holds true throughtout the book.

January 09

The Meaning of Night,  by Michael Cox

The Glass of Time, by Michael Cox

Here are two books I highly recommend, to be read in the order listed above.  If you like Historical Fiction, set in Europe in the 1800's, this is for you.  A tale of several families, some with wealth, pomp and circumstance, some without.  An interweaving tale of lovers, madmen, murderers, college roommates, lords and beggars.  Deceit, innocence, schemes and dishevelment.   Oh you can't get any better...

December, 2008

The 29% Solution

  Dr. Ivan Misner and Michelle Donovan,  Greenleaf Press

I like how this book is written. It comes with 52 chapters, one per week to read, plan and tackle. As most of you know, Dr. Misner is the driving force behind BNI, Business Networking International ( I happen to be a member of one of the local group. We meet every Monday at 11:30.  If any of you are in Wilmington and would like to be my guest, please contact me).

The idea of breaking down the book into small weekly events is great.  Many times we read a book, think yes, I will implement that, and off we go to read another book.  It's rare that we take enough time to fully use the information we have just read.  I'm on Week 8 at present, Diversify Your Contacts.  We can all use help redefining our Networking skills.

 If you are not a member of your local BNI group, give them a call. You can visit up to two times to get the general feel of the group.  Try a few before you pick out one for yourself. 

 

How come THAT Idiot's Rich and I'm Not?

  Robert Shemin, Crown Publishers

December 22, 2008

Sorry Robert, but this book is full of hype and no real meat.  I have to say it might be fairly entertaining, but when I read a business book I want to really learn something new or get a bunch of great idea's. I didn't learn a thing here folks, except never to pick a book based on a catchy title.   There are just too many great books out there to advise you to read this one.  Scratch it off the 'to buy list' and move on..

September, 2008

The Girl's Guide to Building a Million-Dollar Business

  Susan Wilson Solovic, Amacom

Have you noticed that a lot of books are being directed towards women business owners?  Women are starting up more small businesses than men, and people are finally starting to notice.   According to Susan, "In 2006, the Center for Women's Business Research reported that there are 10.4million privately held firms in the US that are 50% percent or more owned by woman". A flexible work schedule is one of the main reasons women start their own business.

One of the first things I noticed about this book is it has a good section in the back on resources just for women owned companies. How neat!   It says that women will benefit tremendously from other women's sharing, but you must initiate looking for these support roles.   That is why several of my friends and I have started the Women Business Book Club in Wilmington, NC.  Not only to read books and share information, but to share our knowledge and give support.  As Susan goes on to say, "self doubt is the main reason business owner's don't achieve the success they could".

The book gives good advice on vision, setting goals, networking, being unique, staying focused and motivated. Also a whole section on not undervaluing your work, a serious mistake most women make. 

It's a short read, but has lots of great information. Taking time to really ponder some of the suggestions will get you on the right track.  And if you are in Wilmington and would like to discuss the book, come to the next book club meeting on October 28, at the New Hanover (downtown) library, Cape Fear Room, 6 p.m.,  where we will be reviewing the second half of the book and also reporting on one area we worked on and how it went.

 

  

The Gargoyle

  Andrew Davidson, Doubleday

This book is a fascinating creation.  Set in present day, the characters have meet in another lifetime.  The tale goes back to  the 1300's when a nun is assigned to help a mercenary who has been severely burned. 

When the book opens in the present,  the main character has suffered severe third degree burns all over his body and lays in a hospital bed at death's door.  A women enters who is also being treated there for exhaustion, and the back and forth of the love affair these two have had over the ages unfolds during the next  year of their lives as he recuperates, first in the hospital and then at her home.  It is told in short stories to him by his benefactor Marianne, who originally was the nun and is now a world know sculptress of Gargoyles.  The truly interesting parts are given towards the end of the book, with a few twists.

Of course, to him, it all seems too bazaar to really have happened that way but at the close of the story, there are several items that simply can't be written off.  And in the end, it is his new (or maybe just renewed) love for her that sets her on a new path.  

This is a good read for people who like books that are out of the ordinary.  Please note,  there are some explicit descriptions that are not for the squeamish, and some detail of his life of late that are not of Christian nature. 

My favorite novels are from other time periods that hold descriptive qualities of times lived then.  The daily lives of peasant or royalty, church authority or druid are interesting to me.  Historically fictions about people such as Genghis Kahn, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great and Solomon line my bookshelves.  Now on to the next book...

 

Duct Tape Marketing

  John Jantsch, with foreword by Michael Gerber, Thomas Nelson Press

Ok, so I might have been the only one that didn't get around to reading this book back in 2006 when it first came out. It might have been because I was knee deep in books like Contemporary and Online Business Law because I was finishing up my degree. If  you know me personally, you know that I also read two books at once.  It drives most people crazy that I do this. One is always a novel or self-help book for a book club I started several years ago, and another  is a great business book.  Here's one:

John states this books is "The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide" and I would tend to agree.  Much of what is in this book I have heard quoted by others, such as "people will buy from people they know, like and trust"  and is quoted by various small companies that I am privy to work with or sit on their Board of Advisors.

One area I truly agree is that you need to find what makes your company "unique", otherwise your clients can only resort to price to differentiate you from others.   Boy, I never want to be in that spot.   Also, you don't really sell what your product is, but what your clients perceive they get from that product (some type of emotion usually).  As an example, my company does Bookkeeping, but what I really sell is piece of mind. Piece of mind that their finances are done properly and that someone is watching their back while they try to grow. I let them know I'm going to question areas where the numbers just don't warrant the effort and cash.  Plenty of times they thank me for being proactive and pointing out an area they can improve.  That's what they buy, because they already know I have good skills in bookkeeping when I meet them. They need a partner who can do it without hand holding and who isn't just a yes person, because that let's them sleep at night.

I found that as I read this I was familiar with lots of the ideas, yet there was still plenty of information I could use right away to improve what I had already implemented.  There are great marketing tips and action steps. It's a book that is full of ideas and straightforward advise that is all very realistic and attainable.

I'm sure every small business owner should have a copy of this book and read it again every six months.  So often we start on a path, then get so busy, we forget where we were going.  If you are looking for some direction, read this. I'm sure you will pick up some pointers you can use right now and in the future.

The Last Lecture

   Randy Pausch, with Jeffrey Zaslow,  Hyperion Publishers

I knew when I heard about Randy Pausch's last lecture I would need to read this book.  Having had a sister who died early from cancer, I knew that leaving this world when you feel your time was too short is a gut wrenching emotional rollercoaster. Not only are you on the the ride, but your entire family is right there in the ups and downs, alternating with laughing, crying, screaming, dreaming and praying. 

When you pick up the book and start to read you realize just how wonderful Randy was.  He could have taken the easy way out and said "why me?"  Not only did he not do that,  he thought into the future and brought about a clear and precise pattern that everyone, including his children who really were the intended benefactors, can base their personal journey on.

His lessons are everyone's lessons.  Don't sweat the small stuff. Dream big and go for it. Never give up, Thank God. Leave something behind that improved the world. Be your own advocate. Be yourself. Say thank you. Apologize when necessary.  They are not things we haven't heard before.  It's just that sometimes life seems to be a train moving at 100 miles an hour and you don't get a chance to stop long enough at the platforms in between.    If he has done anything, it is to get people discussing what their dreams are, and realizing we are our own masters. If we don't do this, who will?

If anyone would like to see the actual lecture, you can go to www.TheLastLecture.com

There are resources there as well for educators, parents and book clubs.  If you haven't read it, or seen the lecture, and you are up to some soul searching, this is a book for you.

 

The Truth About Profiting From Social Networking

  Patrice-Anne Rutledge, FT Press

Everyone is talking about social networking being the hot ticket to increasing sales for small business.  If you are from a younger generation, you have grown up with Facebook, MySpace, etc but older generations are coming into this fairly blind to the possibilities.   There are so many different opportunities, including the blog you are reading now, to reach people.  This book provides information on various tools available, then gets into the mechanics of how and why you would choose each.  Starting with an explanation of  Web 2.0 and continuing  through subjects such as the difference between a regular marketing plan as opposed to a social marketing plan, I think this book explains the basics so you can make a good choice on where to start.

In 50 different "Truths" (chapters) it expels the myths,  and gives the facts of over 27 particular social spots.  There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about this area. People are exploring new territory and not sure where they should start.  This book helps push through that and gives you the facts so you can make a choice on what you feel is the right medium.

There are several chapters about using this area for hiring as a the human resource manager , recruiter, as well as the job seeker.

If you really don't know much about social networking, but you know it's something you need to get into, read this book as a primer; a tool to help you grasp general area's of what is available, and where you might feel comfortable starting your campaign.  With the right information and social networking you can grow your business, but remember, you must use them in a consistent manner. It won't help to set up a profile and then not participate in the community as a whole.

August, 2008

A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating-  How to Convince, Collaborate & Create Your Way to Agreement

  Lee E Miller and Jessica Miller (father/daughter), McGraw HIll

What women doesn't  have to negotiate every day of her life? This book helps you realize the different styles of negotiating you will run into. The more you understand the differences between how men and women negotiate, listen and watch for particular signs, you will be better able to convince others.  From boardroom to bedroom, car buying to divorce, this book gives you the information you need.   Learn how to adjust your message and use concessions, adjust your tone, and collaborate through major stumbling blocks. 

It was interesting that the book was written by a father, daughter team.  Jessica tells how her Dad helped her learn the various aspects of negotiating. It's a valuable lesson to remember when we show our own daughters how to realize their own goals.  This is one of the most important aspects in business.   It also makes a very good point- some things are worth walking away from if it's morally wrong or not what you stand for.

July , 2008

The Monster of Florence

  Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi, Grand Central Publishing

This was an interesting book, although at times there was too much detail. It is a true story about a series of murders that took place in Italy over a long span of time.   A serial killer attacked young couples while they were parked in their cars (I won't get into details of this here).  He would shoot the male, then the female,  leaving the bodies basically the same way (more details in the book!) each time, using the same gun which was never found.   There is background material of several suspects that interested the police. At one point, even the US Intelligence Agency got involved. The stories were covered by journalist Mario Spezi over 30 years.  In the late 1990's American writer, Douglas Preston, moved to Italy to write a book, meet Mario and was so fascinated with the story that they decide to write a book about this case. Unfortunately, the Italian police did not solve this,  and at one point even arrested Spezi as a possible suspect with Preston accused as an accomplice.  

For all of you who read  Hannibal by Thomas Harris, you will find the Monster of Florence was the basis for Hannibal. If you like mysteries, this is for you, as the murderer was never captured!

July ,  2008

Blog Wild, A Guide for Small Business Blogging

      Andy Wibbels, Portfolio Publishers

This was a great little book!  It was just enough information to make me seriously think I could learn how to blog. It gave very specific information on the how to's without overwhelming me.  There were explanations, definitions of popular trends and good resources to get started.  If you ever thought about starting a blog, but it all seems a bit much, this is a very simple approach to just what you need. The proof is right here!  I started this blog five days after reading the book.

Here's the "Goody Bag" he has provided for tutorials, resource updates, etc.

July,  2008

Harmonic Wealth,  The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want

  James Arthur Ray,  Hyperion Publishers

Everyone is talking about the Law of Attraction, The Secret, etc., but here's a man who has been speaking and living it for over 20 years.  The premise is there are five pillars to 'wealth'. Financial, Relational, Mental, Physical and Spiritual. "One Quest, Five Pillars" is his call to action.  I am not usually a ' touchy felly" person, even though I have a lot of empathy for others.  I felt very strongly about  this book being one of the best I've read for getting your life together.  The thought process that you must work on each of these areas to be 'wealthy', not one or two exclusively really hits home for most of us.  Don't get me wrong, the man loves money and doesn't object to making and spending it.  He says" there are only things things you can sell in life: your skill, your knowledge, or your product",   but he also teaches you to look across the many planes of your life and realize they all have to be working together.  I truly recommend this as a book we all should put to good use.  There are some ah ha moments to be sure, like pg 118 where he says "How you spend your time, like how you spend your money tells me what you value most".  My favorite, "Contrary to popular belief, a disciplined and organized life is actually a liberated life" just rocks (people who know me personally will understand)!   I'm going to work on my Relational pillar right now by making some breakfast for my family; get some quality time in before the day continues.

Note: I actually liked this book so much I signed up for a teleconference with James Ray.  I received several worksheets that help you move through the book, but these areas can easily be written down in your own notebook.

The 360 Degree Leader

  John C. Maxwell,  Nelson Business Press

This is one of my favorite books.  Of course, anything John Maxwell writes, I want to read. He has an excellent way of weaving sincere stories with information to create books that are a joy to read while you learn something. This book also comes with a free 360 Degree Leadership Assessment that can be taken online.

What I love about this book is it is about  what  I have spent my whole life trying to do- learn  from whoever my boss was, sharing and picking up knowledge from my peers, and sharing my knowledge with whoever I could who was in my 'sphere of influence'.

Truly, I believe one of the greatest things a department head can do is share their knowledge.  That takes a world of confidence to do, because you can't be worried that someone will replace you.  John gives many instances when the person went out of their way to help someone, and unfortunately, times when a team member wasn't helpful.  One of his main theme's he learned from his father: 1) Building people up by encouragement, 2) Give people credit by acknowledgement, 3) Give people recognition by gratitude.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone could work this way.

In the real world, only a small percentage of people would be considered a 360 degree leader.  Leaders are made from every level of an organization.  Please read this book if you manage others.  It will inspire you to be your best.  People on lower levels also need to be ready, willing and able to learn if someone is willing to share.   Before I got to finish my college education I learned everything anyone was willing to teach me. I wanted to know how to do my job better, and I also wanted to learn all my boss would teach me.  It served me well and I can truly say it is what gave me such a wide background and experiences which helps me help others today.