Monday, December 23, 2013

Corporate partnering like a pro

My weekly book post on s+b blogs is about BP executive Luc Bardin's new book on creating partnerships capable of delivering transformational value:

The Price and Prize of Strategic Partnering

There’s no shortage of books on creating and managing strategic partnerships, but Luc Bardin’s new one caught my eye for its where-the-rubber-meets-the-road practicality. Bardin has been sales and marketing chief at BP since 2007, and he founded and leads the energy giant's strategic accounts organization. In Strategic Partnering: Remove Chance and Deliver Consistent Success (Kogan Page, 2014)—a handbook written with his sons, Raphaël and Guillaume—Bardin offers a model and methodology for building successful organizational alliances, based on his experiences and bolstered by the insights and advice of 30 noted executives and consultants.

These days, it seems like the ability to create and manage strategic partnerships is becoming a prerequisite of corporate success. Witness the current volume of announced corporate alliances (more than 10,000 annually, according to Bardin) and plans for future alliances (more than two-thirds of CEOs expect to partner more extensively in the near future, according to a 2012 IBM survey cited in the book).

More strategic partnerships do not necessarily translate into more profits, however. Bardin reports that more than 70 percent of business relationships fail over time, and less than 10 percent deliver on their original targets, so I asked him how a company can beat the his answer here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Apple's most valuable asset

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about a new biography of Apple design chief Jony Ive, which offers valuable lessons to leaders seeking to develop strategic capabilities:

How Apple Built Its Design Capability

In the world of industrial design, 46-year-old Jony Ive is a star. He even received a knighthood for his services to “design and enterprise” in 2012. And he certainly deserves the accolades: As the design chief at Apple, he was instrumental in creating the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone.

That in itself is a good reason to read Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products (Portfolio, 2013), by Leander Kahney. But corporate leaders may find the back story more valuable than the designer’s life story. That’s because starting in chapter four, as Ive moves to California to work for Apple, the book’s backdrop becomes the development and evolution of what is arguably the company’s most valuable asset: its strategic capability for the rest here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dave Eggers gets Orwellian

My weekly book post on the s+b blog is about a novel that does a better job of driving home the dangers of digitization than any nonfiction polemic to date:

How Creepy Is Your Company?

The Circle, Dave Eggers’s creepily engrossing novel—about a Google-like company with a user base and product portfolio so broad that it begins to transform the world into a techno-dystopia—got a lot

of attention when it was published in October. It was widely compared to George Orwell’s 1984—a comparison that Eggers purposefully elicits by utilizing, for example, Orwellian slogans, such as “SECRETS ARE LIES” and “PRIVACY IS THEFT.”

Using a model that is currently driving exuberant valuations for real-world social media companies like Snapchat (take the money if you still can, boys!), Eggers’s fictional company provides free services that offer convenience, security, and the warm embrace of society in return for the attention and personal data of their users. Want to know where your kid is? Implant the Circle’s ChildTrack chip at birth. Want to eliminate crime? Place the Circle’s SeeChange wireless micro-cameras all over your neighborhood. Want to ensure a tension-free first date? Use the Circle’s LuvLuv database to ferret out your date’s likes and dislikes in minute detail. There are, of course, a few minor downsides to these services: the death of privacy, dogged commercialism, and the velvet fist of a corporate Big Brother. But, in Eggers’s world, only an anti-social Luddite or a criminal would be so ungrateful as to complain... read the rest here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A rationale for blockbusters

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse's new book, in which she argues that putting all your muscle behind a few big gambles is a safer long-term strategy than making many small investments.

Make Big Bets

Pop quiz: You’re the CEO of a trade publishing house. Do you split your company’s acquisition
budget among as many promising authors as you can find and launch their books with minimal hoopla, or do you spend the lion’s share of your budget on huge advances for one or two authors who have already published bestsellers and then spend big bucks promoting and advertising their new books?

I lean toward the former strategy. I’d sign a lot of authors—limiting my downside on each and keeping my pipeline full of new product, while betting on my own ability to pick the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling out of the slush pile.

Unfortunately, however, I’d be wrong. Not just because I’m a snooty reader who would have chucked most of the mega-selling manuscripts of recent years into the trash can after reading a couple of pages, but also because Anita Elberse says so.

Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, is the author of Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment (Henry Holt, 2013). In it, she argues that the most successful media and entertainment companies are those that make big bets on big names and then concentrate all of their marketing might on selling them... read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The best of the best business books, 2013

Check out the strategy+business slideshow featuring the seven "Top Shelf" selections -- the best of the year's best business books -- here.

And the top seven books are:

The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business
by Rita Gunther McGrath
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)
Company Stories
Story of My People
by Edoardo Nesi
(Other Press, 2013)
Rough Diamonds: The Four Traits of Successful Breakout Firms in BRIC Countries
by Seung Ho Park, Nan Zhou, and Gerardo R. Ungson
(Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)
Simple: Conquering the Crisis  of Complexity
by Alan Siegel and Irene  Etzkorn
(Twelve, 2013)
Managerial Self-Help
Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling
by Edgar H. Schein
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013)
Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist
by David Farber
(Oxford University Press, 2013)

Monday, December 2, 2013

The year's best business books

This is the sixth year that I've edited strategy+business's review of the year’s best business books and as always, it was an honor and a pleasure to work with our team of expert reviewers. Here's my intro and a link to this year's essays:

Best Business Books 2013

Welcome to the 13th annual edition of strategy+business’s best business books. Every year we strive to assemble a reading list that will not only engross and entertain you, but also provide concepts, tools,
and insights that can help you lead your company to a better future.

This year’s best business books section includes seven essays by expert guides. Walter Kiechel III, former Fortune managing editor, reviews books on strategy that reflect two realities: Competitive advantage is transient, and continuous innovation is an imperative. David Hurst, s+b contributing editor, selects books that tell company stories, each a chronicle of failure, but not always recovery. John Jullens, a Booz & Company partner working in China, presents books that explore the three waves of global competitors that are emerging from developing economies. Howard Rheingold, who’s been surfing the leading edge of digitization since the early 1980s, picks out books that examine three emerging digital phenomena—big data, socialstructing, and spreadable media. Catharine Taylor, a journalist who has been covering the sea change in marketing in the past decade, offers a set of books that eschew the hoopla of social media and instant ads for the essence of marketing: the customer experience. Sally Helgesen, an author and leadership consultant, takes on self-help books for managers. And James O’Toole, a senior fellow in business ethics at the University of Santa Clara’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, finds leadership lessons in the biographies and memoirs of auto industry executives who made the Motor City roll. You can read their essays here...

Killer quotes #5

"I ain't no monkey but I know what I like"

                                             -- Bob Dylan 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A few big names jump aboard the Maker Movement

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about a new book by Mark Hatch, the CEO of TechShop, who is betting that the new wave of high-tech DIY will bolster innovation and the growth of this nascent industry.

Seeking Scale in the Maker Movement

I cut my journalistic teeth during the heyday of total quality management, the improvement method that fostered a much-needed renaissance in the U.S. manufacturing sector in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Unfortunately, said renaissance was short-lived—globalization and offshoring made it more cost-effective to produce all manner of goods in developing nations, and the number of U.S.-made products dwindled. So it’s been something of a delight to watch the “maker” movement in its early stages of development.

We’ve covered this emerging trend in s+b several times. In 2011, Tom Igoe and Catarina Mota wrote about digital fabrication technology and the effect it might have on manufacturing. This past summer, Tom also reviewed Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Crown Business, 2012), by former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, which as the title suggests was highly optimistic in its assessment of the maker movement. On the flip side, the just-released Winter issue of s+b includes a warning from Tim Laseter and Jeremy Hutchinson-Krupat that we probably are not anywhere near a tipping point in at least one of the innovations that is enabling DIY manufacturing—3D printing.

This week, I’d add Mark Hatch’s new book, The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafter, Hackers, and Tinkerers (McGraw-Hill, 2013), to the the rest here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A kinder, gentler Machiavelli?

This week, my book post on s+b's blogs is about scholar Maurizio Viroli's new interpretation of Machiavelli and The Prince:

A Call for True Machiavellian Leadership

It’s been 500 years—half a millennium—since Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince, and for nearly as long, the man and the book have stimulated controversy and debate. The Catholic Church banned
Machiavelli’s works in 1559 (putting him in the company of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer). Since then, The Prince, a foundational text in statecraft that served as the basis for the realist school of politics, has been characterized as a “handbook for tyrants” and condemned for separating ethics and politics.

So I was understandably curious when a review copy of Redeeming The Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece (Princeton University Press, 2013) arrived a couple of weeks ago. In it, Maurizio Viroli, a leading Machiavelli scholar and politics professor emeritus at Princeton who currently teaches at the University of Italian Switzerland, makes a strong argument for rethinking widely held assumptions about The Prince.

Viroli suggests that our understanding of the book has been skewed by misinterpretations of its historical setting and by a lack of attention to several of its key sections. As a result, we’ve unfairly demonized The Prince and its author. Machiavelli (1469–1527) was calling for a more unified and free Italy, Viroli says, and The Prince was intended to be a handbook for a leader who would undertake the task of restoring the republic—a redeemer, not a tyrant. 

Since The Prince has been widely read by business leaders, I asked Viroli if his new interpretation should prompt them to think differently of his response here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year is...

And the envelope, please. Cue drumroll. The winner of The Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award for 2013 is The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Little, Brown), by Brad Stone.

I'd love to tell you all about the book, but I haven't read it. In fact, I passed it over in publisher's catalog
even though it was billed as "the definitive story of, one of the most successful companies in the world, and of its driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos," and even though it was based on "unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon." 

The reason I passed on the book was that Stone, a senior reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek and a terrific writer, didn't have access to he who laughs loudest. To date, Jeff Bezos has refused participate in any book about Amazon, claiming that it is too soon to tell the story.

I've always thought this was a silly decision on Bezos's part. After all, we're not talking about Snapchat here: Amazon hauled in $60 billion in revenue in 2012 and is one of the planet's leading retailers. But maybe it's not as silly as it seems on the surface. Amazon did manage to lose $39 million on that $60 billion. It's also likely that Bezos's story is a long way from over (unlike Steve Jobs, whose cooperation with Walter Isaacson in the final year or so of his life yielded an amazing biography that was shortlisted by FT/Goldman last year and probably would have won the top prize in this year's not-quite-as-distinguished field).  

In any case, as "unprecedented" as Stone's access was, the head honcho himself is missing. As MacKenzie Bezos pointed out in her one-star Amazon review of the book, this forced Stone to make educated guesses as to what was going in her husband's mind (which he seems to have felt comfortable doing). So I'm not sure what distinguishes The Everything Store from the other books that have been written about a guy whose every move is already reported by the business press--or how we can justify calling it definitive. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ayn Rand revisited

I found an interesting reference to Ayn Rand in a new book, Make an Ethical Difference: Tools for Better Action (Berrett-Koehler), by Mark Pastin, the CEO of Council for Ethical Organizations. Pastin

Philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand earned both a dedicated following and considerable scorn for asserting that selfishness--being self-interested--is a virtue. This was always a bit puzzling since Rand's novels feature heroic figures that are individualistic, but hardly selfish. Ms. Rand created a tempest in a teapot. While she talked about self-interest, she also believed that it is in a person's self-interest to be bold, original, generous, kind, [and] noble. She was not talking about hogging the mashed potatoes. If my (self) interest is in creating situations in which individuals and ideas can flourish, it is not surprising that some might think of pursuing this self-interest as virtuous. In truth, Ms. Rand attracted attention to herself and her ideas through the dramatic mechanism of calling a person's interest in being an exceptional person a selfish interest. Ms. Rand failed to recognize that what makes an interest virtuous, or not virtuous, is not to whom the interest belongs--oneself or others--but where the interest leads.
I'm right with Pastin up to the last sentence. Rand did indeed attract attention to herself, her books, and her philosophy of Objectivism through "dramatic mechanisms" that allowed her to make controversial assertions that really weren't so controversial. But based on the reading and research my wife and writing partner, Donna, and I did for Ayn Rand and Business, it's clear that Rand recognized "what makes an interest virtuous."

Rand created a well-defined system of ethics for Objectivism. If you could ask her "where the interest leads," she would tell you that it should lead to reason, purpose, and self-esteem--those are the three Objectivist values (or goals). She went on to define seven virtues (or behaviors) necessary to achieve to these goals: rationality, productiveness, pride, independence, integrity, honesty, and justice. These behaviors are what make the pursuit of self-interest virtuous.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Killer quotes #4

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” 

 ― Upton Sinclair

Friday, November 15, 2013

Three books that Jeff Bezos had Amazon's senior execs read

Jon Fortt of CNBC interviewed Jeff Bezos a while back, doing the whole PR thing about the new Kindle Fire models, which wasn't all that interesting. But in the process, Bezos mentioned that he had
hosted three all-day book clubs with Amazon's top executives.

Which books did they read? Bezos doesn't say, but Fortt does:

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
The Innovator's Solution by Clayton Christensen
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We are all creatives

My weekly post on s+b's blogs is about a new book that shows readers how to channel the creativity they never knew they had:

Tapping into Your Inner Creative

Once in a while, a book gets its hooks into you and, try as you might, you can’t shake it off. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All (Crown Business, 2013) is such a book.

I had high expectations for Creative Confidence, mainly because its authors, Tom Kelley and David Kelley, are the IDEO guys. IDEO is, of course, one of the best-known innovation and design firms on the planet, with an enviable client list that included the late Steve Jobs.David not only founded IDEO, he also launched Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the d. school. Tom is an IDEO partner and the author of a couple of previous books on IDEO’s approach to innovation. As I read Creative Confidence, however, I realized that aside from a story here and there, the book covers familiar ground—things I’ve read about creativity before. I set it aside with some disappointment.

But something about the book kept calling me back, and I picked it up several times after that. I shared an excerpt from it with my colleagues; it didn’t spark their interest. And yet, here I am telling you about it. Why? the rest here

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ship to Shelf

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about journalist and author Rose George's recounting of her voyage on a container ship, transporting goods across the globe:

From Halfway around the World to a Store Near You

Labels make for interesting reading in the era of globalization. For US$1, I can buy a pound of apples
from New Zealand or a pair of gym socks made in Honduras. How can goods like these be shipped thousands of miles and still be sold for a profit in my hometown of Williamsburg, Va.? Rose George’s new book, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate (Metropolitan Books, 2013), offers part of the answer: container ships, like the Maersk Kendal.

George shipped out on the Kendal for 39 days—“six ports, two oceans, five seas”—as part of her research, much like John McPhee did for his book on the U.S. Merchant Marine, Looking for a Ship (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990). Four stories high and three football fields long, the “midsized” Kendal holds 6,188 20-foot containers. Its owner, A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S, a Danish company with $60 billion in annual revenues, is currently financing the construction of a fleet of 20 “Triple-E” ships that are a third longer than the Kendal and hold three times as many containers—reducing the cost of shipping a container by 20 to 30 percent. Three Triple-Es are already in service. They are too big to enter any port in the U.S. or pass through the Panama Canal. Instead, they travel between Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal.

But ships alone, not matter how big, are not enough to supply us with apples, socks, and myriad other goods from around the the rest here

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Self-help for leaders

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about Edgar Schein's latest and best work:

Two Books That Will Make You a Better Leader

I’ve been meaning to write an appreciation of Edgar H. Schein, the organizational psychologist and
professor emeritus at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. I don’t want to talk about his many notable contributions to the field of organizational development over the past five decades or his work on corporate culture (a term he is credited with coining), which helped define that field of study. Instead, I’d like to focus on Schein’s last two books, which, in the long run, might prove to be his best and most timeless works.

In Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (Berrett-Koehler, 2009) and Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (Berrett-Koehler, 2013), Schein eschews big-picture theory for managerial practice, and he bypasses organizational dynamics for interpersonal communication. Both books are fast reads and they are grounded in the everyday—Schein opens Humble Inquiry by relating an impromptu conversation he had with a woman walking her the rest here

Business lessons from U.S. foreign policy failures

Stephen Walt, the noted international affairs professor from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, spent a day at William & Mary last week, and I got a chance to attend a thought-provoking and highly articulate talk that he gave courtesy of the Institute for the Theory & Practice of International Relations. Walt says that U.S. foreign policy has been pretty abysmal for the past 20 years. He enumerated the external and internal reasons for this, and as he discussed them, it occurred to me that each of these reasons represented a flaw or pitfall that large, powerful companies--like large, powerful countries--would do well to consider and avoid. The talk was about 40 minutes long (sans questions) and well worth the investment in time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Game playing pays off

My weekly book post on the s+b blog is about Adam Penenberg’s new book examining how video games are being used to enhance organizations and improve lives:

Cow Clicker, DARPA, and the Power of Gaming

I came of age playing pinball and was unimpressed by Atari’s Pong when it appeared in the mid-1970s
—even though it launched an entire industry. So, never having become an aficionado of video games, I was surprised that NYU journalism professor Adam Penenberg was able to hook me right from the beginning of his new book, Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking (Portfolio Penguin, 2013), an expansion of a Fast Company article he wrote in 2010.

Penenberg writes about Ian Bogost, a professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology who designs video games that lampoon society. One of the games Bogost created is named Cow Clicker. It’s a mindless pursuit in which you collect points for clicking on a cartoon cow once every six hours and getting the members of your social networks to click on cows, too. It was meant to satirize social media, but then it became a hit. In fact, when Bogost added mooney (which is purchased with real money) to the game, some players paid for customized cows and extra points. Then Bogost removed the cows altogether and all you did was click on an open field. Many players soldiered on. What better illustration of the extraordinary power of video games to engross people could there the rest here

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scott Adams on ghostwriting

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has a new book out--How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (Portfolio, 2013)--which is a funny take on the memoir-cum-personal-success-manual genre. Paging through it brought to mind a Dilbert strip that my cousin clipped out of a newspaper and mailed to me, in an envelope through the US Postal Service--just like in the olden days. The strip cracked me up so much that I emailed Adams to see if I could buy a signed copy. (No answer. Bet he's never gotten one of those emails before.) Anyway, here it is: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Corporate cow-tipping for fun and profit

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about a new book recounting the modern era of hostile takeovers:

Corporate Raiders and Their Minions: A History

The badly tarnished reputation of the financial sector could use some polish, but don’t bother looking
for it in John Weir Close’s A Giant Cow-Tipping by Savages: The Boom, Bust, and Boom Culture of M&A (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). The book, a social history of contemporary M&A, is light on strategies and mechanics, but it’s loaded with dish. And therein lies the fun.

There’s no mention of serial corporate acquirers such as Cisco and Johnson & Johnson here. Close, the founder and editor of The M&A Journal, a pricey insider’s newsletter, focuses exclusively on corporate raiders and their investment bankers and lawyers. Together, starting in the 1970s and accelerating through the 1980s, they transformed the face of M&A—from a gentile corporate pursuit in which an unwelcome bid was considered bad form into pitched battles of the sort described in Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco (Harper Business, 1990).

The raiders who Close describes are colorful, to say the the rest here

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Everything in your business speaks

Good friends are cruising around Greece and sent this photo of a restaurant sign with a note to check out the snail's tentacles. It reminded me that the Disney Institute teaches that everything in a business "speaks" to customers.

 Credit: Ken Lyon

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bruce Poon Tip's excellent adventure

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about G Adventures’s founder Bruce Poon Tip, who built a successful business by following his bliss.

An Entrepreneur’s Journey to Business Nirvana

Bruce Poon Tip tells a familiar story in the opening chapter of his book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business (Business Plus, 2013). It’s 1997 and Poon Tip’s travel
adventure company, G Adventures, is flirting with bankruptcy. He’s miserable and he’s on a tour. Crossing the border from Nepal into Tibet, he walks by a group of monks and one says, in perfect English, “Welcome back.”

“I’ve never been here before,” says Poon Tip.

“You’ve been here before,” says the monk.

And so have we. Books by entrepreneurs about the companies in which they have invested their lives almost always include that moment of truth when their authors stare into the maw of bankruptcy. I tend to be leery when reading such books—often they are exercises in myth-making, culture-building, and marketing as much as anything else. And I would argue that Looptail fits the bill on all three counts. Check out the book’s website for proof.

But Looptail won me over nevertheless...find out why here

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Culture building with vocal silence

My weekly book post on s+b's blog is about an insider's view of teaching at HBS:

The Management Stylings of Harvard Business School

We’ve been treated to several insider accounts of Harvard Business School (HBS) over the years.
Robert Reid’s Year One: An Intimate Look Inside Harvard Business School, Source of the Most Coveted Advanced Degree in the World (William Morrow, 1994) and Philip Delves Broughton’s Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School (Penguin Press, 2008) covered the experience from the student’s perspective. But Michel Anteby’s Manufacturing Morals: the Values of Silence in Business School Education (University of Chicago Press, 2013) is the first I’ve seen that describes HBS from a professor’s point of view.

Anteby, an associate professor of organizational behavior, turns his experience of being hired by and teaching at HBS into an ethnographic study that explores how the “way we do things around here” is communicated to the faculty—a highly skilled and highly independent workforce. In doing so, he’s written a book that works on several levels.

First, Manufacturing Morals is a fun read. It’s packed with stories about what it’s like to teach at a leading (arguably, the leading) business school. As you might expect, the standards for faculty at HBS are high, and everything from how pictures get hung on office walls to what professors wear reinforce those standards.

Second, the publication of Anteby’s study is timely in light of Jodi Kantor’s New York Times article about the ongoing effort to promote gender equality within the school. It’s interesting that with all the attention paid to how things are done at HBS, its aggressively masculine student culture, the performance gap between male and female students, and the dearth of tenured female professors has only just begun to be addressed.

Finally, Manufacturing Morals is useful as a guide to creating corporate culture via “vocal silence.” Anteby finds examples of vocal silence at work throughout HBS, and thinks it can be a particularly effective means for communicating organizational mores. I asked him to explain the seemingly oxymoronic concept, and how companies can use Anteby's response here

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marty Sklar's reflections on Disney

My book post on the s+b blog this week is about an insider's view of Disney-style leadership and language:

Leadership Lessons from the World of Walt Disney

I’ve been enjoying Marty Sklar’s memoir Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms (Disney Editions, 2013). Sklar is a legend in the Walt Disney Company (literally) and among Disney aficionados worldwide. He joined the company as a summer intern in the public relations office in 1955, a month before Disneyland opened. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, he returned to Disney as a full-time employee and stayed until his retirement in 2009. Sklar spent most of his career in Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s design and development subsidiary, and served as its president from 1987–1996.

Dream It! Do It! reveals that Sklar was also Walt Disney’s go-to ghostwriter for much of the last decade of his life, and it provides a firsthand description of Walt’s leadership style during that momentous period in the company’s history. When Sklar joined the company, Walt was a veteran leader who had made a big bet: He was launching a new, unproven business that most everyone predicted would be a flop, including his own brother Roy, who held the purse strings at Disney. When Walt pitched him the idea for Disneyland, he refused to back it. Walt forced Roy’s hand by forming a new company and financing the planning on his own. Eventually, Roy relented. It was a smart decision: In 2012, Disney’s parks and resorts business generated US$12.9 billion in the rest here

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bob Dylan's signature watch

I was watching Ed Bradley's 60 Minutes interview with the coolest guy on the planet, Bob Dylan, of course, on YouTube the other day. Bradley asked Dylan about destiny and Dylan said:

"It's a feeling you have that you know something about yourself that nobody else does. The picture you have in your mind of what you're about will come true. That's the kind of a thing that you kind of have to keep to yourself because it's a fragile feeling and you put it out there and somebody will kill it. So it's best to keep that all inside."
So I figured that's going on the blog and I started looking for a great image to go with it and I found this:

My first thought was: Really? Bob's flogging a watch? My second thought was of another Dylan interview from almost 50 years ago. A reporter asked young Bob if he thought of himself as a singer or a poet, and Dylan smiles and says, "I think of myself as a song-and-dance man." Everybody laughed and I did, too.

It took me until now to realize that it's an even better joke because there's a truth to it that I never really acknowledged. And yet it doesn't change a thing. Dylan is still the coolest guy on the planet.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Killer quotes #3

"Everybody has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth

-- Mike Tyson

Shortlist for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs 2013 bizbook of the year

Yesterday, FT/Goldman Sachs announced the shortlist for best business book of the year. Here they are, with the publishers' descriptions. Congrats to the authors!

The Alchemists: Inside the Secret World of Central Bankers by Neil Irwin
When the first fissures became visible to the naked eye in August 2007, suddenly the most powerful people in the world were three men who were never elected to public office. They were the leaders of the world’s three most important central banks: Ben Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve, Mervyn King of the Bank of England, and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank. Over the next five years, they and their fellow central bankers deployed trillions of dollars, pounds and euros to contain the waves of panic that threatened to bring down the global financial system, moving on a scale and with a speed that had no precedent.

Neil Irwin’s The Alchemists is a gripping account of the most intense exercise in economic crisis management we’ve ever seen, a poker game in which the stakes have run into the trillions of dollars. The book begins in Stockholm, Sweden, in the seventeenth century, where central banking had its rocky birth, and then progresses through a tutorial on how the central banker came to exert such vast influence over our world, from its troubled beginnings to the age of Greenspan.

Irwin covered the Fed and other central banks from the earliest days of the crisis for the Washington Post, enjoying privileged access to leading central bankers and people close to them. The Alchemists, based on reporting that took place in 27 cities in 11 countries, shows us where money comes from – and where it may well be going.

Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy by Iain Martin
When RBS collapsed and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer in the financial crisis of October 2008, it played a leading role in tipping Britain into its deepest economic downturn in seven decades. The economy shrank, bank lending froze, hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, living standards are still falling and Britons will be paying higher taxes for decades to pay the clean-up bill. How on earth had a small Scottish bank grown so quickly to become a global financial giant that could do such immense damage when it collapsed?

At the centre of the story was Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive known as ‘Fred the Shred’, who terrorised some of his staff and beguiled others. Not a banker by training, he nonetheless was given control of RBS and set about trying to make it one of the biggest brands in the world. It was said confidently that computerisation and new banking products had made the world safer. Only they hadn't.

Senior executives, board members, Treasury insiders and regulators reveal how the bank's mania for expansion led it to take enormous risks its leaders didn't understand. Based on more than 80 interviews and with access to diaries and papers kept by those at the heart of the meltdown, Making It Happen is the definitive account of the RBS disaster, from the birth of the Royal Bank in 18th century Scotland, to the manic expansion under Fred Goodwin in the middle of a mad boom and culminating in the epoch-defining collapse.

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Two leading experts present a revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large. They explain what ‘big data’ is, how it will change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards.

Which paint colour is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?

The key to answering these questions, and many more, is big data. ‘Big data’ refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyse it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena – from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books – into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalised for things we haven’t even done yet, based on big data’s ability to predict our future behaviour.

Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.

The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite and The Fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund by Anita Raghavan
Just as WASPs, Irish-Catholics and Our Crowd Jews once made the ascent from immigrants to powerbrokers, it is now the Indian-American's turn. Citigroup, PepsiCo and Mastercard are just a handful of the Fortune 500 companies led by a group known as the ‘Twice Blessed’. Yet little is known about how these Indian émigrés (and children of émigrés) rose through the ranks. Until now ...

The Galleon Group was a hedge fund that managed more than $7 billion in assets. Its collapse following criminal charges of insider trading was a sensational case that pitted prosecutor Preet Bharara, himself the son of Indian immigrants, against the best and brightest of the South Asian business community. At the centre of the case was self-described King of Kings, Galleon's founder Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan-born, Wharton-educated billionaire. But the most shocking allegation was that the éminence grise of Indian business, Rajat Gupta, was Rajaratnam's accomplice and mole. If not for Gupta's nose-to-the-grindstone rise to head up McKinsey & Co and a position on the Goldman Sachs board, men like Rajaratnam would have never made it to the top of America's moneyed elite.

Author Anita Raghavan criss-crosses the globe from Wall Street boardrooms to Delhi's Indian Institute of Technology as she uncovers the secrets of this subculture – an incredible tale of triumph, temptation and tragedy.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry, meaning that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one ofTime’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010 she gave an electrifying TED Talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to ‘sit at the table’, seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfilment, providing practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of ‘having it all’.

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
This is the definitive story of, one of the most successful companies in the world, and of its driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos. started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn't content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that's never been cracked. Until now.

Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. Compared to tech's other elite innovators – Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg – Bezos is a private man. But he stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionised manufacturing.

The Everything Store is the revealing, definitive biography of the company that placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Edmund Phelps's values-driven view of national prosperity

My weekly book post for s+b's blogs is about Edmund Phelps's new book:

What is the Wellspring of Innovation?

Every author I read these days seems convinced that innovation is the wellspring of national prosperity.
But what is the wellspring of innovation? That answer is not as clear-cut.

Everybody’s got their own prescription for innovation—an education system that emphasizes science and mathematics, regulation-free markets, more patent protection, less patent protection, you name it. So I was curious to read what Edmund Phelps, a Noble laureate in economics and a professor at Columbia University, had to say on the subject in his new book, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change (Princeton University Press, 2013).

In the book, which is more akin to classical economic sociology than straight-up economics, Phelps examines how and why the national economies of England, France, Germany, and the United States pulled away from the rest of the world in the 1800s. He pegs the growth of these first modern economies to a new dynamism, which he defines as an “appetite and capacity for indigenous innovation.” This dynamism, he says, wasn’t the result of the “headline inventions” of the Industrial Revolution (such as spinning machines, locomotives, and iron mills); instead, the inventions were a result of the dynamism. And the source of the dynamism? Phelps says that it was the mass flourishing driven by societal values, such as individualism, curiosity, and creativity, which gave rise to a capitalistic the rest here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Less sugar...reads great

My weekly post on s+'s blog is about an unusual book by the founders of Honest Tea:

Comic Books, Iced Tea, and the Secret to Winning in Business

Once in a while I receive a business book that, like a box of Cracker Jack, comes with a prize inside. I enjoy these promotional gewgaws; often they engage me more than the books that they accompany. Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently—and Succeeding (Crown Business, 2013), which arrived with a bottle of Honest Tea’s Honey Green Tea, is an exception: In this case, I was engaged equally by both.

Mission in a Bottle succeeds for a couple of reasons.The biggest is that its authors, Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff, offer a combination of practical experience and theoretical insight that’s atypical of business-book authors. They founded Honest Tea in 1998 in one of the most competitive CPG categories. They grew it to the point that Coca-Cola invested US$43 million for a 40 percent stake in 2008—and eventually bought the company lock, stock, and barrel in the rest here

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Customers are storytellers; companies are storydoers

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs offers a interesting twist on corporate storytelling:

What’s Your Metastory?

The first book I remember seeing on corporate storytelling was Managing by Storying Around: A New Method of Leadership (Doubleday Currency, 1992) by the late David Armstrong, a CEO who practiced what he preached. Armstrong took a time-honored idea—telling stories to communicate, disseminate, and reinforce information—and applied it to promulgating the mission, values, and strategy of a company.

Since then, many authors have written business books about how to use storytelling to galvanize employees and build brands, and more than a few of them have covered the topic in more practical detail than Armstrong—Annette Simmons immediately comes to mind. There are so many business books on storytelling, however, that I tend to give new ones a perfunctory browse and move on (been there, read that).

True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013), by Ty Montague, the cofounder of co:collective, a strategy and brand story consultancy, is an exception to my rule. Montague gets right to the chink in the armor of storytelling: Unless the story you tell about your company is true, it is just empty words. And the way you make a story true, he says, is by “storydoing.” Storydoing is telling a story through your the rest here

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don't forget the white space

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is on the need for "white space" in idea generation:

Why I Get My Best Ideas in the Shower

I get a lot of good ideas in the shower, but I never thought too much about why until I read a new book by Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack, The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success (Crown Business, 2013). It turns out that it’s not the water pelting my noggin or the shampoo that promotes healthy, silky smooth hair triggering my creativity. It’s the default mode network in my the rest here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rita McGrath's career assessment

My book post on s+b blogs this week offers an assessment for business people who are seeking to bolster career security:

Can Your Career Survive Transient Competitive Advantage?

Rita Gunther McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, has devoted her 20-year-long academic career to sussing out how companies can successfully respond to a global economy characterized by uncertainty, fast-paced change, and increasing competitive pressure. She wrote three books, with Wharton’s Ian MacMillan, which explored how to wring out growth in such an environment. In June, her latest book, The End of Competitive Advantage: How To Keep Your Strategy Moving As Fast As Your Business (Harvard Business Review Press), was released.

In it, McGrath steps squarely into the ring of strategy. “Strategy is stuck” is her first jab, and then she steps in with the body blows—arguing that sustainable competitive advantage, the holy grail of strategic concepts and frameworks put forth by such luminaries as Michael Porter and by Gary Hamel and the late C.K. Prahalad is no longer a realistic goal. Her knockout punch: Increasingly, across many markets, competitive advantage is transient and conventional business strategy isn’t prepared to handle it.

The End of Competitive Advantage explores the ramifications of this transience on corporate strategy, and how companies can manage it. At the risk of oversimplification, her core recommendation is to discover new businesses, milk them, and when the time is right, get out of them faster than everyone else. But toward the end, McGrath slipped in something that you rarely see in business strategy books—a chapter on the effect of transient competitive advantage on us, the toilers in the corporate fields, and our careers.

If our employers begin rejiggering their businesses’ portfolios at a faster pace, our jobs are going to get rejiggered more often too. And if that starts to happen, are you ready? McGrath offers the following 10 yes-or-no scenarios to help you figure that the rest here

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard said...

Elmore Leonard passed away today at age 87. I haven't read any of his westerns, but I read many of his crime novels and always got a lot of pleasure from them. He was a crisp, clear, no-BS writer. He also published a short how-to book on writing back in 2007 that was based on the following 10 rules:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" …he admonished gravely
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Robert Monks takes on the corporate drones

My weekly post on the s+b blog is about a new book from a guy I've long admired, Robert A.G. Monks:

In “Drone Corporations,” Self-Interest Prevails
In Citizens DisUnited: Passive Investors, Drone CEOs, and the Corporate Capture of the American Dream (Miniver Press, 2013), Robert A.G. Monks sets the tone right off the bat by recalling the time he stood up at an ExxonMobil annual meeting and addressed CEO Lee Raymond as “emperor.” Indeed, Monks has long been a highly vocal gadfly and leading activist when it comes to corporate governance. 
Here, he argues that corporate governance is more important than ever because of two relatively recent developments. First, corporations have ascended to levels of unprecedented power in the United States, thanks in large part to legal rulings. The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, for example, removed virtually all limitations on corporate political spending—a “grotesque decision,” rightly judges Monks. Second, the leaders of the largest and most powerful corporations in the U.S. (ExxonMobil, IBM, and General Electric top the list) have never been less accountable to shareholders. This is because of weak boards and the movement of large ownership positions to passive institutional investors, among other things. The result is “drone corporations,” in which “manager kings” have free rein to pursue their own self-interest. Monks puts more than half of the Fortune 500 among their the rest here

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Quick tips for better mentorship

This week, my book post on s+b's blog offers quick tips on better mentoring from Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith:

How You Can Be a Great Mentor, and a Great Protégé 
Revised editions of books don’t often pique my interest, even when they are best-selling business books, such as Chip Bell’s Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning, which Berrett-Koehler originally published in 1996. But there is something unusual about the newly published third edition: Bell has taken on Marshall Goldsmith as a coauthor. When I asked Bell why he decided to share the author credit on such a well-regarded book, he said, “No one on the planet has more expertise and is better known in the coaching field than Marshall.” No argument here. 
Accordingly, there’s lots of new content in the book, such as interviews with a number of notable corporate leaders and a mentoring toolbox. The latter features, among other things, the following “quick tips” list for mentors and their protégés (reprinted with the authors’ permission) the rest here

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stephen King on opening lines

There's a very cool one-question interview with Stephen King in The Atlantic. Joe Fassler asked him about his favorite passages in a couple of his books and King mentioned two opening lines. That lead to King talking about the art and craft of a great opening line. Where are you gonna get better advice than that?

Stephen King: There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It's tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don't think conceptually while I work on a first draft -- I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.

But there's one thing I'm sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

How can a writer extend an appealing invitation -- one that's difficult, even, to refuse?... read the rest here

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding common ground

My post on s+b's blog this week is about a quietly fascinating book that examines a mediator's career for insights into conflict resolution and change management:

What Managers Can Learn from Mediators
When it comes to challenging careers, mediation can make management look like a cakewalk. Take the contentious and long-running disputes over water rights, grazing land, nuclear waste dumps, and Native American treaties that arise on environmental mediator Lucy Moore’s home turf in the Southwestern United States. These are the kinds of conflicts that can lead to real-life shoot-’em-ups. 
Moore has written an engaging and thoughtful new book, Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator (Island Press, 2013), in which she describes her work and, better yet, teases out some of the lessons she has learned about getting people with sometimes radically different backgrounds and perspectives to come together and undertake the rest here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Daniel Pink’s new pitch

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to interview Dan Pink for strategy+business. Smart guy, great writer, fun to talk with. The results were published yesterday. Here's the opening:

Daniel Pink didn’t plan a career exploring the world of work as much as he gravitated toward it. After studying linguistics at Northwestern University and law at Yale, he became an aide to U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and then served as chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. “When I had the opportunity to dole out assignments, I kept the ones about work, labor, business, economics, and technology,” he recalls.  
In 1997, disillusioned by the realities of politics and burned out by the workload, Pink quit to write under his own byline. An article published in Fast Company later that year became the kernel for his acclaimed first book, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself (Warner Books, 2002). It plumbed the transition from employee to self-employment by millions of people much like Pink himself, and established a format that Pink has been following ever since: presenting a highly articulate, accessible synthesis of a topic or trend and a practical tool kit for putting it to work at work.
Several more books followed, bringing Pink into the ranks of the world’s leading management thinkers and speakers. His most recent book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others (Riverhead Books, 2012), explores a topic ripe, perhaps even overripe, for Pinkian synthesis. The very nature of selling has been fundamentally altered by digitization, which continues to render long-accepted sales conventions irrelevant, yet, paradoxically, makes salespeople more important to companies and customers than ever the rest here

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

China's real industrial advantage

My post on the s+b blog this week is about a book that seeks to illuminate one of the less understood sources of China's industrial might:

Government Subsidies Pave the Way in China
In the 2000s, China transformed itself from a net importer to one of the largest producers and exporters in the world in four mature, capital-intensive industries: steel, glass, paper, and auto parts. What accounted for this success, which in each case was achieved in a short five-year span? 
Industry research reveals that each of the four has relatively low labor requirements, so it wasn't China’s seemingly endless supply of inexpensive workers. The Chinese companies didn't enjoy economies of scale or scope. Nor did the undervaluation of the renminbi explain their growth.
According to Usha Haley, director of West Virginia University’s Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy, and George Haley, a professor of marketing and international business at the University of New Haven, it was government subsidies that drove this industrial transformation. In Subsidies to Chinese Industry: State Capitalism, Business Strategy, and Trade Policy (Oxford University Press, 2013), they calculate that subsidies from China’s governmental bodies—in the form of free or low-cost loans, energy, materials, land, and technology—provided the dollar equivalent of as much as 30 percent of the output of these four the rest here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A practical take on creativity

This week's book post on the s+b blog is a one-question interview with the authors of a new book proposing that we rein in our creativity efforts: 
Thinking Inside the Box
Books about business innovation seem to arrive as quickly as ideas on a whiteboard in a brainstorming session. But Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results  (Simon & Schuster, 2013), by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, jumps out for its counterintuitive take on creativity.
In the book, Boyd, assistant professor of marketing and innovation at the University of Cincinnati and former director of Johnson & Johnson’s Marketing Mastery program, and Goldenberg, professor of marketing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Business Administration, assert that thinking inside the box enhances idea generation. Thus, they argue, innovation initiatives should be limited to resources close at the rest here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

John J. Raskob: A CFO for the Roaring '20s

My book post on s+b's blog this week covers the first biography of the most influential CFO in the U.S. a century ago.

Resurrecting a Forgotten Capitalist 
In June 2013, echoes of the Roaring 20s were everywhere in Manhattan. The Great Gatsby was in movie theaters, and the film’s marketing partners—the Plaza Hotel, Brooks Brothers, and Tiffany among them—were playing up their Gatsby connections and collections. Oxford University Press got into the act, too, with the timely release of Temple University history professor David Farber’s seminal biography, Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist. 
Raskob is relatively unremembered today, but he shouldn’t be: He is as much an icon of that high-flying decade as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s glamorous and doomed protagonist, Jay Gatsby. Raskob was America’s leading CFO (“treasurer” in those days). Reportedly able to size up complex financials at a glance, Raskob was instrumental in the growth of two industrial giants: DuPont and General the rest here