Saturday, February 17, 2007

Success Book Reviews - "The Success Effect" Part 1

Cincinnati business reporter John Eckberg has interviewed dozens of business luminaries in The Success Effect: Uncommon Conversations With America's Business Trailblazers. This is Part 1 of this review. Since I focus on success books and strategies, this book is a goldmine for me. Now, since these people are superstars and often very colorful, the challenge is to examine these short interviews to see if there are any common factors that the rest of us can apply to imptove the odds of our success.

In the first part of the book I would extract three key characteristics:

People-centric priorities
Think Long term


To succeed, you need to know what you are going for. It can’t be vague. While visualizations are great, the things you work on, day-to-day, must be well-defined, and have a time-limit component.

David Pelz had to virtually invent the science of golf measurement. As a trained physicist, he had to focus first on just what he wanted to measure, then how he wanted to measure it, and then he had to booked equipment that would aid in skill-development. This is focus.

Similarly, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis established very clear dates and milestones for player progress. Without clarity, you have no compass or measurement scale for success.


Some of the best advice I have received over the years was related to surrounding myself with the right people. The most brilliant initiative can be short-circuited by one negative staff member. But motivated people, encouraged and supported, can accomplish anything, and they don’t need to be micromanaged, either.

Sam Zell runs his huge organization as a meritocracy. Neither age nor rank matter to him as much as results.

Larry Bossidy of Allied Signal and Honeywell says having the right people is the most important ant thing in business; without that, he tells us nothing else matters.

Pelz mentions example after example of champion golfers who were not inordinately gifted athletes: it was their drive as individuals, their willingness to work hard and practice “the right things” that gave them the edge.

Long-term Thinking

Success at a major level is a marathon, not a sprint. Long-lasting success is not an overnight phenomenon, but a “compounding” effect.

It has long been theorized that long-term thinking 10, 20, even 100 years out, is what creates the best results. Tami Longaberger, of the billion-dollar Longaberger basket company mentions that consistent profitability did not come until 1992, although the company began in 1976.

Another billionaire, Sam Zell, says “the long-term investor always wins”.

This concept is a difficult for most of us because we are giving up gratification “now” for reward “out there in the future”. What we don’t realize is that the compounding effect gices us not 1:1 rewards but more often 10:1 or 100:1 rewards. This is why we need to listen to the voices of successful people. People who have traveled that road. People we can believe and reference when we had a slow quarter, a bad day, or a failed plan. These people stayed focused, believed in and “grew” the right people, and “hung in” to see their success blossom.

One of the things I like about this book is that the interviewees seem real, up-close, and human. This is a gift that Eckberg has of bringing us “right into the room” with these amazing achievers.

More in Part 2 of this review.

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