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If You Ran a Think Tank – Which Books Would You Choose to Review

There are many Think Tanks out there, indeed nearly every major industry has one or more. Every political party has one or more. There are think tanks for nearly every aspect of the human experience. Some think tanks specialize, others are more well-rounded and cover a very diverse set of topics. Needless to say, running a think tank with unlimited topics is not easy at all.

At the Online Think Tank we take a much different approach to choosing our intake of information. We believe as many other diverse subject think tanks that it makes sense to read all types of books in every category, pulling out bits and pieces of important information from each. So let’s look at some of the books we reviewed this week to give you an example of one way that you might use in information gathering for your think tank group. Below are selected sample of this weeks reading:

“Great Quotes from Great Leaders” compiled by Peggy Anderson, 1992. This little book is a gold mine for inspirational writers. This is a very good opener, as it is bits and pieces of words of wisdom from famous leaders of days gone by. What did they have to say? What did they learn and why aren’t more people listening and thinking about these things? Is the human race doomed in a continual repeating loop? Well, are they?

“Managing for Excellence – The Guide to developing high performance in contemporary organizations” by David L. Bradford and Allan R. Cohen – 1984. Considering the manager as a technician or conductor, as a developer and other various new roles and models of leadership for the modern day corporation, all the while we must remember this book was written in 1984 before the corporation was re-engineered, before TQM, right-sizing and reality checks of Building to last. Sharing team responsibility, getting the most performance out of key personnel are common themes in this book.

This book was written by scholars from Stanford and Babson College so you might get a sense of the importance of what is written here. How do you turn around an Aircraft Carrier with a paddle? Nothing good in life is every easy, it takes a lot of uphill rowing and that means many paddles paddling in synchronicity. The book talks of the paradox’s of management and how this knowledge can be used to increase the ability of leadership.

What happened to quality, excellence and performance? Since when is just getting by acceptable? Perhaps we ought to consider the words in this work and how they can be used to improve how we run things? Worthy of thought and consideration indeed.

“Scratching Your Entrepreneurial Itch” by Peter Channing – 1977. What are the personal characteristics of an entrepreneur? Watching for traps, getting financing, taking the risk, ego pitfalls and illusions of success, all discussed. Sales and marketing, production, management, financial recording, exit strategies and the conclusion includes a fictitious business plan that does not look all that fictitious to me.

Are we short-changing today’s entrepreneur and if so are we losing efficiency in our free-markets? Can we do better? Can we help them do better, as they deliver us everything we see everywhere we go? Well, what say you?

“Service America – doing business in the new economy” by Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke – 1985. Why is service the place to be, as manufacturing is on the decline in America. The triangle of service – whereby good service leads to referrals and to additional business. The customer, as the king and determining the level and quality of service for the price point. Service is an attitude, finding the best people is imperative.

Companies that top the customer service charts are discussed and how they got there. Teaching the elephant to dance in the modern corporation. The future of service and competition for the customer heats up, where will you be? Rising expectations, innovation, de-regulations (remember when it was written). The exporting of services and importing of such. Management as a service considered.

With the changing industry percentages and with service businesses employing more and more, how can we improve this sector to run at optimum? What can we do to prevent further declines in other sectors? Is there a breaking point, a job maximum for the service business or an end point to the number of new market entrants in this sector? Does anyone really know the answer to these questions? Will we have to learn the hard way? Will robots one day do all the service jobs instead of people?

“Advertising” by James S. Norris – 1977. This book starts by putting advertising in perspective and what happens in the marketplace. Why does the consumer buy and what different forms of advertising work best for which products and services? Why marketing research is serious and not merely an item on a list to check off. Copywriting for advertising, what sells, sparks emotions, get the consumer to notice and think – how to write radio, teleselling or TV scripts and magazines, billboards and print too, whether it is for a newspaper, brochure, signage or direct mail all covered in depth in this work. Discussion of the promotional push is a dedicated chapter, while industrial and agricultural advertising are discussed separately from consumer driven products and services. The legal eagle chapter tells of all the advertising laws of the day.

Are we over advertising in America? What is happening in media markets as Magazine Ad revenue collapses and migrates to Internet Advertising? Will Mobile Advertising change the game forever? If TV is now second to time expenditures to the Internet, will TV advertising decline also? What about the huge media networks, will they diversify or fail to adapt? Can they compete with Google? Who will rule the advertising and media world in the future?

“Maxi Marketing – The New Direction in Advertising, Promotion and Marketing Strategy” by Stan Rapp and Tom Collins – 1987. The book answers the question; why should companies re-think their marketing strategy? The authors start by explaining the dynamic changes in the market place in 1987, which are not as dissimilar to today just not as fast and finicky. Getting to the one-on-one communication with customers in advertising phrases and points of impressions. Narrowing in on niche target markets, customizing the message directly.

The book suggests new mediums of marketing like the Internet, if only they knew how right they were? Allowing advertising to do more than one job without diluting brand or direction. Opening the door for consumers to take a look, check us out or do a little more research. Using multiple channels of distribution. The book is full of checklists, pointers and some pretty excellent advice as well, I would recommend this book for your library if you are a small, medium or large business owner.

How can small businesses do more for less? Where can your business or group’s advertising take advantages and save costs? What really works, why does it work? Do you have a plan or are you systematically planning to fail with your advertising and marketing strategies?

“The Double Win” by Dennis Waitley – 1982. How can you spot a “Double Winner?” Dennis explains in this classic book of how Western Civilization entrepreneurs should operate if they want to win both short and long term. How can we convince our trading partners to think Win-Win in order to ensure long-term relations and fair trade? Are we being fair with them, are they winning too? When you negotiate or make a deal, do you keep your work, do you make sure it is fair for all concerned? Are you one to instantly take advantage of ever situation without regard to others you are dealing with? Think on this, as it takes a mirror to do the Double Win.

“Starting and Managing a Small Business of Your Own” by Wendell O. Metcalf – SBA – 1973. This small book is Vol. I of “The Starting and Managing Series” by the Small Business Administration. The book asks you the questions you should ask yourself if you are considering a small business of your own. If I had 4,000 copies of this book, I would have sent them out to everyone who ever inquired to by one of our 187 franchises. Do you have what it takes? What are your chances of success?

Should you buy a business or start one – what about a franchise? How much money will you really need and where will you get it all? How will you manage your business, set prices, what is the competition doing, where can you get professional help, where will your business be located, how will you keep records, what about insurance, payroll, employees and location? Setting goals and then evaluating the risk?

In the United States the small business failure rate is too high. Many blame unfair regulation, barriers to entry in the form of laws and too many lawyers. Of course, undercapitalization is probably the biggest factor, but so too is the lack of business acumen. If small business employs 2/3rds of our population, perhaps we need to be thinking here as we enter a slight down turn in the business cycle?

“Reality Check” by WIRED Magazine authors; Brad Wieners and David Pescovitz – 1996. This book is a quick read and it really makes you think. Some of the predictions did not come in the predicted times, others that were projected well into the future have already come true. It is interesting to give Futurists a reality check now and again as well. The forward progression of mankind is at stake and it is rather serious, as too much innovation too soon disrupts while too slow causes stagnation.

Predicting the future is never easy, but attempting to plan ahead best on the best advice is vital to the ongoing success of our society and civilization, thus, everyone should be a futurist at heart. Have you been thinking here – we have and we hope you will put the future into your thoughts to prevent crisis and challenges or problems.

“At the Waters Edge – Macroevolutions and the transformation of life” by Carl Zimmerman – 1998. The human body is well adapted for life on the surface of the planet, while other species are even more adapted to their environments in the sea or in fresh water. Some species have adapted well to both. Surprisingly enough most species in the sea and on land are not all that different really. Where arms are there are fins, where legs are there are tails. Many species have left over points that might have been used for other things. The facts are that humans are now really that different at all.

If we deny evolution and Darwin’s thoughts we will be living in a falsehood, as we see evolution before us now. Religion aside we must consider all the innate characteristics of the human species if we are to build the best possible situation for the on-going saga of mankind, you should be thinking here.

“The Secrets of Closing Sales” by Charles Roth 1953. Charles equates making the sale to winning, something that today is often considered taboo by academia, as a “win-win” is the minimal acceptable. “You cannot win unless you close” says Charles Roth. He goes through the thought processes of buyers, sales people and sales departments. He reminds the salesman that he can always try, thus the trial close techniques are described in their earliest, simplest and less evolved present period form. He describes techniques such as; Assumptive, Subordinate, Physical Action, Impending Event, Narrative, Inducement and Ask-them-to-buy strategies in great detail.

Have salesmen or saleswomen been given a bad rap? Why are we so quick to decry sales people, when nothing really transpires until the sale is made? Without them we are in big trouble? Think how many people are employed as sales people. Think how many people would be unemployed without them?

“How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” by Frank Bettger 1949. Dale Carnegie sets the tone in the Introduction of the book, Dale Carnegie was a friend to Frank Bettger from as early as 1917. The met on a train and Dale told him of a one-week class he was teaching with the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Frank quit his early sales career, then out of desperation restarted it, got organized and work his way back to the top. He tells of a 15-minute $250,000 sale and all the lessons he learned along the way. This book is a classic and must read for the motivated salesperson who wants to achieve, make more sales and win in life.

Frank, discusses all aspects of selling from looking the part to closing the sale. How he made friends, remembered names and overcoming fear. Also amazing techniques he learned from a master salesman. He talks of Lincoln, Franklin and others as mentors, and discusses their words of wisdom.

Where do you work? How much of your company is involved in some sort of sales in order to ensure that your products and services are wanted or desired, bought or purchased? How can you assist working with the sales people and interfacing to keep things running smoothly? Did you hug your sales person today?

“The 1991 What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Nelson Bolles 1991 edition, although realize that this book has evolved from the very early 1970’s. For the person who wished to seek a career as an employee in a Corporation, this book is a classic, taking the reader through the interview process, overcoming rejection, motivating them to continue job hunting, tips and skills needed to land the perfect job, valuating potential job opportunities, how to contact the right person for referrals or to get hired. Then there is resume writing, presentation, and how to fill out forms.

Corporate America employs between 1/3 and 1/4 of our population, and yet so few people understand the true dynamics of corporate life. If one spends a good part of their career working there, shouldn’t they attempt to work for the best company, best pay and make the best out of their experience? Well?

“Do You Believe in Magic – Bringing the 60’s Back Home” by Annie Gottlieb 1987. This book is a collection of interviews, stories, and tales of thoughts. There are many stories in the book that stop and make you think about, what it is people really want. The book is good for a “Communist” leaning present period liberal or a someone who likens the prospect of Socialism, or even an Anarchist.

Our society is constantly changing and in doing so each era has its own flavor. Amazingly enough the 21st Century appeared to be much like the 1990’s and now things are so different, from attitude to economics and from technology to relationships. What will the next generation think of what we had built? Will they embrace the previous period or decry our arcane way of doing things?

“Reference Checking for Personnel Selection: The State of the Art” by Edward Levine and Stephen M. Randolph – 1997 in conjunction with the American Society for Personnel Administration, (ASPA). The laws for hiring and employment have vastly changed since 1977, and this book is no longer valid and yet it sheds some light on the reality of things employers need to know before they hire people.

There is quite a bit of background theory on the hiring process. I think anyone in the Human Resource sector needs to review some theory and how it was done, to make sure that they have the basic skills and understanding of what they are really trying to do. This book discusses applicant lying, behavior issues, court records, interviewing techniques and how to get people to discuss references and why all this is important.

Background checks are very important in so many industries to protect our society. For a business good employees are the key to success. They must often deal with customers and must maintain a good positive image and attitude. They must be efficient, capable and possess the talent and intellect to get the job done. Finding the best team members is paramount to success.

“TheChanging American Voter” by Norman H. Nie, Sidney Verba and John R. Petrocik – 1976 Harvard University Press. Very interesting perspectives in how voters had changed from the 1950s to the 1970s. How this shift, changed things and how people looked back at the New Deal and the Eisenhower years as well. The book also speculates the Nixon, McGovern election well and shows the sliding popularity poles of each candidate. So interesting to see how things have changed during that period as the political climate continues to change in the current period.

The American voter has changed over time immensely in the past. Today the major parties in America have also changed to the point it is difficult for one to recognize them from before. Will you follow your party lines in the future or will you sway and become the swing voter that they are going to be vying for in the future? Does your vote actually count as so many have surrendered their minds to their TV sets?

These are just some of the books our Think Tank discussed this week and some of the thoughts that they provoked. I hope you have enjoyed this overview and I hope it helps you in whatever thinktank you are in presently. Sincerely, Lance.

“Lance Winslow” – Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; Lance is an online writer in retirement.

Author: Lance Winslow
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