Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

This is my review of Talent Magnetism, by Roberta Matuson, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2013

This is the book any strategic business leader needs to position his or her organization to attract, select, and keep the best people possible. As a consultant myself, I work on a daily basis with companies and organizations that struggle with finding and retaining excellent employees. In fact, human capital is so important that it can actually make or break strategy and other business plans.

Matuson has taken a great tack. Instead of just throwing money at the challenge of attraction and retention, she has created an entire framework of strategies and tactics for positioning a company or organization as an employer of choice. Think of how Apple, Google, and other global success stories have become a magnetic pole of attraction for top-flight talent around the world. The author shows business leaders how to do the same thing for themselves.

This book isn’t just for HR types however. Senior executives, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other core business operators will want to read this book so they can start applying their business savvy not just to their customers, but also to their employees. The chapters on branding and leadership as key attraction factors are fascinating and go well beyond the usual bromides about happy work places. People want challenge, advancement, and — YES — great leadership!

I recommend this book to anyone struggling with building great teams and human capital. I will also be recommending it to my own clients who are looking at ways to raise their employer brand.

© 2014 Richard Martin

“Richard, you have written a comprehensive book that translates to a battle plan for success for anyone in business.  Of particular note is the section on expanding into new markets, where I happen to be with the company I manage, and our push forward towards victory. As you and I both know, there is great synergy between military doctrines & leadership and the business world.  If we apply military leadership competencies (principled values, virtues, wisdom, etc.) to a corporate environment, the ideas shared in your book will absolutely guide professionals to victory.  Drawing from your military knowledge and experience, you have done a great job of encapsulating the principles and tenets of the military to its application to business.  Congratulations and thank you for doing that.”

Dale R. Wilson, Business Manager, quadax valves inc.

There is a tendency in human nature to see the present moment as worse than the past and that things are going steadily downhill. We seem to have an instinct for overemphasizing gloom and doom while downplaying the positive.

The ancient Greeks believed they lived in the Age of Iron, and that the Ages of Gold, Silver, and Bronze were in the past, never to be recovered. If you listen to the climate doomsayers, temperatures are heading up, up, up! A few years ago, we were running out of oil and gas, now the US is entering a period of fossil fuel self-sufficiency, and may even become a net exporter of energy by the end of the current decade.

There is supposedly an old Chinese saying, “May you live in interesting times.” Given my observations, it would appear that all times are trying, if not interesting. This is why it’s essential to look at our situation with a critical eye, to see the negative, but also the positive, the threats and risks, but also the opportunities and potential rewards. It is the only antidote to gloom and doom.

Luckily, there are books that show how fortunate we are to be living in the present moment, and that things, believe it or not, appear to be getting steadily better. The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley, shows how civilization and human learning have progressed—though in fits and starts—throughout history, and that we are currently living longer and better than ever before. Written in 2010, he devotes a whole chapter to the current ‘pessimisms,’ notably the situation of Africa.

What we are seeing in Africa however is that it is finally entering the modern age, though not without difficulties. One sign of this growth is the progress of business and education. As but one illustration, Bombardier Aerospace is planning to open a sales office in Johannesburg, because the company sees opportunity and fabulous growth where most see gloom and doom and endless misery. A further example of African development is that IQs have been growing by leaps and bounds for the last few decades, and are finally catching up to those in the developed world. This shows that education, improved nutrition, and health care are contributing to massive human development.

In Abundance, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler show that currently envisaged technologies and techniques will continue to make life better and longer into the foreseeable future. Of course, this depends on maintaining the current rates of discovery as well as political, economic, and social freedom. The one specter that everyone rightly fears is war and violence. After more than 10 years of the War on Terror, thousands of more people have died, and there seems to be no end in sight.

This may be the case, but as Steven Pinker argued in his masterful The Better Angels of Our Nature, the world is more peaceful and non violent now than it has ever been in history. To those who think that our ancestors lived in an idyllic past of peace and comfort, archeology, anthropology, ethnology, and history have shown that people were just as likely to die violently in the past as to die of so called natural causes. Pinker shows, with ample statistics, graphs, and other hard evidence, that the human species has been growing progressively more peaceful, tolerant, and perhaps even more intelligent.

All of these conditions represent more opportunities and lesser threats. The risks and rewards we face are increasingly non vital. In other words, our mistakes are less likely to lead to illness, physical injury, and death. Conversely, our rewards are more likely to be ‘philosophical’ and lead to self-fulfillment and self-actualization.

This is the business environment today. Yes, we have to be on the lookout for threats and risks of all kinds. But we live in an age when we have the time and wherewithal to identify and combat these with savvy risk management and contingency planning. But this kind of ‘negative’ planning can only protect us, and keep us in defensive mode. We must have an offensive mindset, looking for the opportunities for growth, investment, and development.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2013. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this article with attribution. All other rights reserved

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/a-military-approach-to-business/article10197913/

My new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles, is now available for purchase through my website. It will also be available through all the major online retailers around the world.

It’s a bit more expensive if you order the book through me, but I will ship you a signed copy. If you’re in Canada, the shipping is included in the price. For bulk orders, just drop me a line at 514-453-3993 and we can discuss special pricing.

About the book

“There are quite a few books about parallels between military strategy and corporate strategy. Richard Martin’s Brilliant Manoeuvres makes a difference by not only focusing on the conceptual but also on the operational side of the equation. This book is a hands-on guide to a brilliant corporate strategy.”
Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Managing Partner, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, Germany

Brilliant Maneuvers is Sun Tzu’s Art of War combined with Drucker’s The Effective Executive.”
Alan Weiss, PhD, Author of the bestselling Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible

“Richard explains the reasons behind the military concepts, backing them up with diagrams and historical and personal examples. He then shows how to apply them in a business context. I highly recommend Brilliant Manoeuvres to beginners and advanced users alike.”
Pierre Bergevin, President & CEO, Cushman & Wakefield Canada

Business executives and entrepreneurs see themselves as modern day warriors and generals, fighting off competitors and conquering new markets. They talk about attacking competitors, defending turf, firing warning shots, establishing beachheads, bypassing the competition, digging a protective moat, and so on. Brilliant Manoeuvres – How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles is for those executives and entrepreneurs who are looking to create and sustain competitive advantage and to lead their teams in the face of determined competition and rivalry. Based on the author’s experience as a soldier, a business consultant and an entrepreneur, the book explains how and why military leaders and planners actually think and operate. It then translates this into terms that business people can readily apply to their own reality so they can survive and thrive. In other words, this book is a practical guidebook, and not just another set of exhortations to “lead from the front” or to “win without fighting”. In particular it demonstrates how some military methods cannot be applied in management.

“With Brilliant Manoeuvres, Richard Martin has produced a guidebook that gets back to the basics of strategy, management, and leadership. We tend to forget the fundamentals because we think they’re too simple or that we’ve outgrown them. Richard demonstrates the linkages between military and business wisdom and shows that these concepts are fundamental and essential. In the process they gain a new relevance and freshness to help in meeting today’s business challenges.”
Louis Gabanna, President, Colas Canada

About the author

Richard Martin is founder and president of Alcera Consulting Inc. Prior to launching his consulting business, Richard attended the prestigious Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean as an officer cadet and then served for 21 years as an infantry officer in the Canadian Army. Richard is the only member of Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting Mentoring Hall of Fame with extensive military experience. He brings his business and military leadership experience to bear for organizations and executives in both the private and public sectors seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

Regards,

Rich

Richard MartinPresident/Président
Alcera Consulting Inc./Alcera Conseil de gestion inc.
Author of the forthcoming book

Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles
Published September 2012 by Global Professional Publishing.

Brilliant Maneuvers is Sun Tzu’s Art of War combined with Drucker’s The Effective Executive.” — Alan Weiss, PhD, Author of the bestselling Million Dollar Consulting

1324 Perrot, Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile-Perrot, QC, J7V 7P2
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Linked In Profile: Richard Martin

My new book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles, is now available for purchase through my website. It will also be available through all the major online retailers around the world.

It’s a bit more expensive if you order the book through me, but I will ship you a signed copy. If you’re in Canada, the shipping is included in the price. For bulk orders, just drop me a line at 514-453-3993 and we can discuss special pricing.

About the book

“There are quite a few books about parallels between military strategy and corporate strategy. Richard Martin’s Brilliant Manoeuvres makes a difference by not only focusing on the conceptual but also on the operational side of the equation. This book is a hands-on guide to a brilliant corporate strategy.”
Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Managing Partner, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, Germany

Brilliant Maneuvers is Sun Tzu’s Art of War combined with Drucker’s The Effective Executive.”
Alan Weiss, PhD, Author of the bestselling Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible
“Richard explains the reasons behind the military concepts, backing them up with diagrams and historical and personal examples. He then shows how to apply them in a business context. I highly recommend Brilliant Manoeuvres to beginners and advanced users alike.”
Pierre Bergevin, President & CEO, Cushman & Wakefield Canada
Business executives and entrepreneurs see themselves as modern day warriors and generals, fighting off competitors and conquering new markets. They talk about attacking competitors, defending turf, firing warning shots, establishing beachheads, bypassing the competition, digging a protective moat, and so on. Brilliant Manoeuvres – How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles is for those executives and entrepreneurs who are looking to create and sustain competitive advantage and to lead their teams in the face of determined competition and rivalry. Based on the author’s experience as a soldier, a business consultant and an entrepreneur, the book explains how and why military leaders and planners actually think and operate. It then translates this into terms that business people can readily apply to their own reality so they can survive and thrive. In other words, this book is a practical guidebook, and not just another set of exhortations to “lead from the front” or to “win without fighting”. In particular it demonstrates how some military methods cannot be applied in management.

“With Brilliant Manoeuvres, Richard Martin has produced a guidebook that gets back to the basics of strategy, management, and leadership. We tend to forget the fundamentals because we think they’re too simple or that we’ve outgrown them. Richard demonstrates the linkages between military and business wisdom and shows that these concepts are fundamental and essential. In the process they gain a new relevance and freshness to help in meeting today’s business challenges.”
Louis Gabanna, President, Colas Canada

About the author

Richard Martin is founder and president of Alcera Consulting Inc. Prior to launching his consulting business, Richard attended the prestigious Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean as an officer cadet and then served for 21 years as an infantry officer in the Canadian Army. Richard is the only member of Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting Mentoring Hall of Fame with extensive military experience. He brings his business and military leadership experience to bear for organizations and executives in both the private and public sectors seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

My good friend Roberta Matuson, human capital and leadership strategist extraordinaire, has been interviewed by David Dalka about her book Suddenly In Charge. You can check out the interview in the following link.

http://www.daviddalka.com/createvalue/2012/07/25/suddenly-in-charge-roberta-chinsky-matuson-book-interview/

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around

by Roberta Matuson

2011, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 240 pp

Note – the Kindle version of this book is on sale all this month for $1.99.

Suddenly in Charge is billed on the cover as “The New Manager’s All-in-One Guide to Shine from Day One,” and it does not disappoint. First-time author and consultant Roberta Matuson has written the bible for all those employees who get thrust into management positions without all the necessary preparation, and in some cases without much support from their superiors and organizations. In many cases these people have received little or no training or development to do the difficult job of leading others.

I served for over 25 years in the Canadian Army. Before I “got the keys to the car” as a young officer, I had to undergo a grueling yearlong course in leadership, decision-making, planning, and management. After that, during my first leadership opportunity as a 23-year-old platoon commander, I was surrounded by mentors and had the support of my team of NCOs.

Unfortunately, most organizations provide nowhere near the same level of training and support to first-time managers and subordinates. This book, though, goes a long way to providing detailed guidance and advice to new managers. Although the book is subtitled Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, it is really about the nitty-gritty of day-to-day leadership in the organizational trenches.

I was particularly impressed by the author’s organization of the book into two distinct sections. The first part of the book deals with the delicate art of “managing up.” In this section there are chapters on, among other things, adapting to your boss’s management style, navigating the storm-tossed seas of office politics, and dealing with a bad boss. Needless to say, these are topics that are not often covered in books about managing and leading. However, they are a reality in all organizations. With Matuson’s guidance, no new manager need be in the fog when it comes to these arcane matters. There is even detailed advice on asking for (and getting) a raise.

The second part of the book focuses on “managing down.” In other words, this is the fine art of leading one’s own subordinates. The reader will find a well rounded look at the various aspects of managing and leading a team, everything from making a good first impression on acceding to the exalted functions of manager/supervisor, to acquiring talent, conducting performance reviews, and that bane of every manager’s existence, firing.

My two favourite chapters are are the ones respectively on dealing with difficult employees and gaining the respect of subordinates. These two chapters are worth the price of the book, in my opinion. I once had a commanding officer in the Army who told us that the secret to leadership was to be respected, not loved. Matuson fearlessly addresses this issue. In the process, she also shows that the key to getting respect is giving it, though without caving in or doing the work of subordinates or trying to be their friend.

In conclusion, Roberta Matuson has written what I believe will prove to be the classic work on managing and leading for new managers. If you are a new manager, it’s a must-have. If you are appointing or leading or mentoring new managers, it’s also a must-have. And if you are veteran manager, there is also much here that you can use in your day-to-day management and leadership.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

We all need willpower to succeed in school, business, our relationships, our careers, life. I’ve written a lot over the years about the need for resilience and robustness. Willpower is also fundamental to these, so you don’t give up at the first signs of trouble.

There are two very recent books on willpower that are definitely worth reading and that should be in your library if you’re serious about self-development. The first isWillpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. It’s written by the researcher who was instrumental in putting the science of willpower on a sound footing through experimentation, Roy F. Baumeister, and science journalist John Tierney. The book reads well and is in the style of many of the new popular science books, with a combination of hard scientific fact, anecdote, and the occasional first-person account.

The main thing I learned is that willpower is something we can control, but not by exercising more willpower. Instead, the authors focus on different areas of endeavour to show that willpower is largely a function of circumstances, physiological functioning, habits, and skills. In other words, there really IS a science of willpower, and it offers insights to improve how we function in all aspects of our lives. I was particularly interested in the authors’ discussion of ways to get more organized. They show how David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach to time and work management is so successful because he has apparently stumbled on to a series of skills that work with our human nature, rather than trying to go against it.

It is also an approach that eschews senseless moralizing, and that is a fundamental theme in the other book on willpower, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, And What You Can Do to Get More of It, by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. McGonigal teaches a continuing education course on self-control and willpower at Stanford University, and it is apparently one of their most successful courses open to the public.

There is a considerable overlap in the scientific information presented in this book as compared to the first one I’ve mentioned. However, this book is much more practical, and I would think also more interesting to the average reader. The author has structured the book to follow her course. She has included exercises to develop self-control and willpower and that have proven effective for most of her students in her course. She has also been able to include a large number of relevant examples from some of her students. This makes the information that much more interesting and shows that the reader’s self-control goals are quite attainable.

As mentioned above, the author states that willpower is definitely NOT about morality. In fact, McGonigal has a whole chapter devoted to that fact. She shows that couching things in terms of good and bad are not useful to developing self-control. In fact, they can be counter-productive as they can produce perverse results and unintended consequences. I also learned that willpower is like a muscle. It can be developed and honed over time, but you need to have the right tools to do so. This book gives much of the same information as Willpower, but the exercises are focused on skill building, not just generalities about gaining willpower or applying the scientific findings of the research. An interesting point about those exercises is that most focus on developing self-awareness. If you know the science and can then watch yourself in action, you will be able to apply the self-control techniques to achieve your willpower goals.

Overall I foundThe Willpower Instinct a better and more useful book. However,Willpower rounds out some of the scientific information and provides insight into the historical development of the field, as one of its authors was one of its founders.

Here’s some willpower advice. Exercise self-control; get both, and you won’t have any regrets.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

It is with great pleasure that I announce a publishing deal for my first book. It is tentatively titled Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles. It is scheduled to be published in the early fall of 2012 by Global Professional Publishing in England, although it will be available worldwide.

As you can see from the title, my aim is to show how the principles and practices of military strategy, tactics, planning, and leadership can be applied in any organizational setting, especially to achieve outstanding success in business.

It has not been easy securing this publishing deal, but it has been an education on the changes afoot in the book industry and how various publishing houses and retailers are dealing with the transformation. In a nutshell, publishers and brick-and-mortar book retailers are reeling from the impact of online bookstores such as Amazon and low-cost department stores like Wal-Mart.

The problem is this. Someone goes to a bookstore to browse. They see a title they like, so they look it up on Amazon, see it’s available at about 40% of the in-store price, then order it on their smart phone so they can get it delivered the next day. If they have a Kindle, they can even get it downloaded immediately at an even lower price. As we can see, bookstores have become the showroom for online retailers. They bear the costs of distribution and display, while the online sellers get the sales, with much lower costs, which they then pass on to consumers. It’s a sweet deal for the Amazons of the world, but the physical retailers are, like Charlie Brown at Halloween, stuck with the rock in their candy bag.

Borders, one of the leading book retailers in the U.S., went bankrupt last year, and Barnes and Noble, the largest bookseller in the world, has been trying to sell itself to a foreign buyer. Canadian bookstore chain Chapters-Indigo is changing into a ‘lifestyle’ retailer, selling scented candles, throw pillows, and picture frames, with books increasingly sent to the back of the store. In the meantime, the terms publishers are getting from retailers are growing progressively worse, to the point where they are assuming most of the distribution risk.

Commercial publishing is vital in an open society, as it allows people to express themselves and reach a much wider audience than would be normally be available to someone of little renown. Even with blogs and Twitter, there will still always be a place for a well-written and well-argued book, whether it is presented in a physical format or not.

Publishers must find a way to stay relevant while being profitable for everyone involved. There is no doubt that people will continue reading, but as we saw with Apple’s recent introduction of textbooks for iPad, technology and media will continue to evolve, sometimes at a breakneck pace. Electronic devices and online connectivity will make at least some books into interactive platforms for authors and readers to exchange and connect, in a way that traditional paper books can’t.

By the same token, the book still must be written and read. The discipline of writing a book and getting it published are essential to weeding out the wheat from the chaff. And there is plenty of chaff on the Internet. Anybody and everybody can propound whatever they want through blogs and social media. There is a wealth of valuable and well thought out information and knowledge online, but it is inundated by self-aggrandizing and navel-gazing inanity.

The need to be profitable will continue to guide the ultimate decision on whether to publish a work. Commercial publishers are still the only entities that can ensure a level of editorial integrity and quality. The real question is what format the work will take. Will it be in physical format, or purely electronic? Will it be a one-way exposition by the author, or an interactive conversation between author(s), reader(s), and observer(s)? It needn’t be always the case, but the book can become a miniature forum for people to exchange ideas, information, knowledge and wisdom. Within that framework, the physical book may only be part of a wider network of knowledge and learning, an artifact, calling card, or memento, the front end of a community of practice or the tip of the iceberg for a person to engage in the acquisition and refinement of knowledge and skills.

But to do all of this, the publishers need authors and their works. Without them, there is no publishing industry. On the other hand, authors need publishers to provide editorial support and expertise, commercial reach, promotional advice, and, increasingly, technical know-how to transform the book from a one-dimensional reading experience into a multi-dimensional learning and interaction experience.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.