Books Make a Better Life

Left to Right: Donna M. Johnson, Annia Ciezaldo, Jenny Anderson, Robin Einbinder, Paula Szuchman, Scott Manning, Lee Woodruff, David Sloan Wilson, Skip Prichard, Kathy Chang (for Lee Lipsenthal, M.D.), Ann Patchett, David Kessler

The other evening I had the great pleasure of attending the 16th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards at the TimesCenter in New York City.  The Awards were given to the best self-improvement books of 2011.  Nominated titles fall into ten categories–all designed to inspire and improve our lives.  The proceeds from the event benefit the New York City – Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for research, support services, and educational programs.

I was there as a member of the publishing industry and supporter of the event, but I was also honored to be inducted into the Awards Hall of Fame.  This is a very special recognition for me as it marries two things for which I’m passionate about:  inspirational books and a cause that’s close to my heart because I’ve watched friends suffer with MS.

What It Is To Be A Good American

Alex George’s A Good American is a book you may not have heard of yet.  If not, you undoubtedly will.  It is a spectacularly written novel receiving rave reviews, and it continues to pick up steam.  In recent weeks, the book has been named:

  • #1 Pick for Indie Next List, February 2012.
  • Amazon “Best Books of the Month” List February 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, Spring 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Top Staff Pick for Fiction, February 2012
  • Midwest Connection Pick, February 2012
  • #1 “Title to Pick Up Now” for O Magazine, February 2012

Success by Failing Quickly

Image courtesty of istockphoto/ZargonDesign

One of the biggest problems in business isn’t failure.  It’s failing too slowly.

The biggest failure of all is never failing at all.  If you never fail, you are playing it too safe.  You are taking zero risk.  A culture with a fear of failure is a culture doomed tofailure.  Others in the marketplace will pass you by, and it may be too late by the time you realize it.

 

“The biggest failure of all is never failing at all.” -Skip Prichard

 

 

Failing quickly is much better than failing slowly.  Have you ever been in a business and known something was going to fail?  For whatever reason, the project marches onward.  Meanwhile, everyone who touches it knows the project is doomed.  Yet on it goes, sometimes for years.  I’ve seen some huge, expensive projects continue when, if someone would just do a reality check, the decision to kill it would be obvious.

Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis Achieves the “Impossible”

Breaking Records

Regular readers of this blog know that I love to study how and why people are able to overcome obstacles and achieve success.  I recently had the opportunity to meet Jennifer Pharr Davis, who is the record holder for traversing the Appalachian Trail.  She hiked the Trail’s 2,175 miles in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, becoming the first woman to hold the record.

Nothing Can Stop A Determined Mind

The list of obstacles she faced on her journey include physical and mental obstacles:

  • She was struck by lightning.
  • Her eyes were frozen shut.
  • She faced everything from insects to wildlife like bears and rattlesnakes.
  • Critics said a woman couldn’t hold the record.  A hiker couldn’t best a runner.

The Five C’s of a Successful Turnaround

Image courtesy of istockphoto/spxChrome

5 C’s to Change Direction

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a Distressed Investing Conference in Florida.  It’s really a turnaround conference designed for professionals focused on fixing troubled companies.  Since I’ve had plenty of crisis management experience in turning around troubled businesses, I was asked to share war stories and strategies.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to network and learn from the 200 industry leaders in attendance.

Here are the five major points I shared:

1. Control.  I’m not a big proponent of top-down, autocratic management systems.  I much prefer an entrepreneurial environment with lots of input and a leader with a persuasive style.  In a crisis, though, it’s often necessary to ramp up the control level and increase the speed of decision making.  I tend to move very fast anyway, and I like to seek opinions and then make a decision and move on.  If you are in trouble, you don’t have the luxury of numerous meetings and extensive analysis.