Review: Adam Fraser – Strive

Adam Fraser

“Strive shakes up everything you know about happiness, turns you around, and sets you on the track to true fulfillment. It’s not what you think—happiness is not found in achievement and luxury and having all the free time in the world. Humans are most fulfilled and feel best about themselves when they are striving towards a difficult goal that involves struggle and discomfort.”

This book is firmly in the business non-fiction category. So, it’s actually a review by my wife (with edits from me for clarity and order). With that being said…

When I first saw this book on the shelf to be reviewed, I wasn’t keen on it because it seemed like it would just have the same old message of that happiness is the key to life. Happiness is a state of emotion, not the end goals of life! You shouldn’t feel bad for having negative emotions, you want to work towards your goal more when you have struggle.

The work we do when we don’t take the easy way is better. The easy way is if you just have everything you want – then what’s the purpose in life? Third generation rich kids are a disaster because they didn’t have to earn it and they don’t understand the struggle that took place to get there. Parts of the book made me smirk, because what was being said was just so true!

There are dot point summaries at each chapter end to make sure you’ve gotten the main points out of the chapter. This book isn’t going to be a complete reread, but it’s worth having as a reference book for flicking through when I need inspiration.

There’s a little picture that gets updated as you go through each chapter. [Rose: I can’t find the whole thing online}. This image basically acts as a guideline as it goes along of where you are up to in terms of learning about the strive pathway.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of it. I get the overall point, but there are some people who work for work’s sake, but that’s not necessarily the right path – don’t struggle for the purpose of struggling!

This book isn’t just his opinions, Adam Fraser has a PhD in biomedical science and did actually do research on over 800 leaders to see what they actually did. I’m going to pass it on to another friend who needs this motivation to keep striving and succeeding.

Review: Patrick Lencioni – DEATH by Meeting (S)

DEATH by Meeting
Patrick Lencioni

“Death by Meeting” is nothing short of a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.

A friend gave this book to my wife, and she read it across two days. I’ve never seen her so excited, even with the other books she’s reviewed for me (eg. Brew a Batch, Permission to Screw Up). This review is therefore written from her perspective.

The cover, as you can see, is a business guy head desking on top of a meeting agenda. I figured I’d just skim over it and then read the other bookies waiting in my bedroom. A trusted business friend recommended it to me – otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. Once I had it, I thought I might get more insights into meetings.

Most of the book is a fictional story about a leadership team and how they are currently running their meetings. You get suckered in (invested) in how they improve their meetings. Given that it has this story you see real life examples of how it can be used and not just the plain theory. The characters give some of the reader’s thoughts back at them like ‘Why do we need more meetings? or ‘Really? You want me to do this in a meeting?’ where it is answered in the story as a group and the characters chatting about it.

Unlike the other business books where they try to cram in a bunch of theories and just hop about in meaningless or difficult to follow manner the story creates a framework. I would have preferred a little more of the ‘Fast Forward’ (non-fiction) at the end with the theories. This could have included more examples with the team doing the good meetings, the different types of good meetings. It was really interesting and enjoyable. This really has one meeting theory that can be summarized on a single page, so it’s not a reread of the whole book, just a revisit of the summarized theory at the back if need be.

Perhaps the most gleaming commendation for this book is that my wife stayed up late, and read this over two days. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so absorbed! Also, she’s a passionate fiction hater, and I could hardly believe she was reading a fictional story (and I teased her mercilessly too).

Review: Kristen Hadeed – Permission to Screw Up (S)

Permission to Screw Up
Kristen Hadeed

“This is the story of how Kristen Hadeed built Student Maid, a cleaning company where people are happy, loyal, productive, and empowered, even while they’re mopping floors and scrubbing toilets. It’s the story of how she went from being an almost comically inept leader to a sought-after CEO who teaches others how to lead.”

My wife listened to this book as an audiobook on long car rides, and I listened to some of it with her. This book was narrated to great effect by the author. This was amazing because although there was the standard business techniques that you get in any book, they were told as part of an enthralling story. It was told in such a way that the reader felt like they were there with Kristen, and wanted to know what would happen next. There were no bits where I was bored!

I felt like it was a longer than normal talking book that I would listen to, but it didn’t feel that long. [Rose notes that it clocks in at 5.5 hours(as opposed to Get to the Point, which was only two hours)]. I don’t normally like reading things twice, but there were some parts that I HAVE read again, such as the techniques of how to FBI (it’s a feedback technique).

Anyone in a leadership role, not just owning your own business (also middle manager, team leader etc) should read this book. There are business books out there that contradict themselves but this book tell you that even if others say that this is the ‘best way’, if it doesn’t suit your team, don’t push something that isn’t working.

The book by itself was 4 stars, but with the reading it’s 5 stars. The author helped. It sounded as if it wasn’t a book, it was a story. I’m not sure if the author had put in side notes that weren’t in the text, but it sounded like it. It felt like even when she ‘renamed’ characters, it was real in the story.

Some of the techniques that she uses and decided as really good should be highlighted more – like shit sandwiches, but FBI is better than that. They were explained equally, but more emphasis should be put on the FBI. The FBI method stands for: feelings, behavior, impact. It starts with saying how you feel, and then your feedback-ee can’t argue that and get off topic. What is the impact on the relationship, company, team, client etc? Feedback shouldn’t be an ordeal and a sit down session. Everyone in a team should be able to give FBI.

The take home message from this book is that team company culture is important and how to give feedback using the FBI method. Always keep trying different things, and if that isn’t working for you in those circumstances, try something else.

Review: Morgen Witzel – The Ethical Leader (S)

The Ethical Leader
Morgen Witzel

“Ethical behaviour by businesses, or their staff, is often seen as the corporate and social responsibility icing on an organizational cake – something that is nice to do but never really essential. But by turning this view around – and making ethical behaviour a primary focus – Witzel shows how businesses can create and maintain long-term competitive advantage.”

In the first line the author warns the reader – “Oh, no. Not another book about ethics” – in a laughing way that this won’t be one of those books. But it kinda is just another book about ethics. It was very slow to start off with, and there was a point near the start where I wanted to abandon it, but then I pushed through and got to a better part later on.I read it when I knew I would be distracted because I could easily pick it up and drop it again – it didn’t require too much brain power.

A strong point of this book were the inclusion of some really nice case studies that are boxed clearly from the rest of the text. For some of the case studies, the author asks ‘What would you do?’ and then tells you at the end of the chapter what actually happened. Any time there is a fact, it uses a reference. Its worth could be as a reference book because it has A LOT of references that you can refer to (haha). It has both footnotes by chapter and a Bibliography. If you like an idea, it’s easy to go and find out more about it.

The real ethics framework is only the last chapter (Chapter 10), where he gives how to make an ethical decision – how to ask yourself if it is an ethical decision you are making. But in the end, different people have different ways and levels of ethics to adhere to. It’s great to read about, and it’s nice that you should do the right thing, but even with the framework there will never be a black and white question. You can ask the questions, but not reach an answer – it’s just your opinion.

I’d like more items to action out of it, such as how to implement this in your workplace. What can I do to improve my business? How do you look after your shareholders vs employees vs customers? There were no takeaways of what I can do to create value or build employee relationships. Ultimately I just didn’t enjoy it and got nothing useful out of it. It IS just another ethics book – it’s average.

Bloomsbury | 12th February 2019 | AU$35.00 | paperback