The Executive Summary Challenge

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice” – T.S. Eliot

One of the perks of working for a Fortune 100 company is that it typically comes with a wealth of training and knowledge at your fingertips. I’ve always enjoyed the video tutorials and online database of content via and Microsoft, but another equally impressive resource is Books 24×7 by Skillsoft. Introduced to me originally by Accenture, I was pleasantly surprised to see Big Red have this available to employees as well.

And with that introduces the Executive Summary Challenge. Books 24×7 sends me an email every couple weeks with new Executive Summary reports of popular business books. These ES reports are basically a shortened (5-10 pages) outline of the full text in a very easy to digest and understand level. I’ve always wanted to read the best business books on the market, but hated how these books completely contradict one of the concepts of business that I define as success: be direct, be succinct, and be brief. Unfortunately though, you can’t sell a book that is only 5-10 pages long, so most authors add hundreds of pages of fluff to fill the unnecessary void. Enter the beauty of the Executive Summaries – all the meat, sans pointless fluff. Its a fast-paced business leader’s dream come true.

This week, I received an email of the 10 most popular Executive Summaries available and will take on the challenge of reading and reviewing them all on my blog in 2014. I am graduated with my MBA in May, and no doubt will miss the fun-filled nights of reading boring business cases and texts, so this will be a nice way to maintain my educational learning. These will be short reviews in honor of the short summaries … because brevity deserves brevity! Below are the list of book summaries scheduled for this challenge, many of which you have probably read or heard of. Hopefully they prove to be a valuable addition to my learning and career aspirations.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do what we Do in Life and Business
  • 52 Essential Habits for Success
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence
  • How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  • Well Said! Presentations and Conversations that Get Results
  • Extreme Productivity: Boost your Results. Reduce Your Hours
  • True North (done, I read it for my leadership class last fall)
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (done, read for Management class last summer)

About Exec Summaries (from Skillsoft):
Quick insight into the thinking and best practices of today’s thought leaders and business gurus. ExecSummaries supports the multi-tasking lifestyle of busy professionals by providing concise content online, in downloadable text formats, and MP3 – all easily accessible from a PC or mobile device.

What Consultants Do Best: Assigning Ownership

This is a great gem shared to me by a co-worker. We both were consultants at Accenture together, and now share a wall at Target. Courtney and I constantly laugh at our “old life” and how much nicer it is to be working on the industry side (go Big Red!). So, if any of you young’ens are considering a life in Consulting … make sure you are aware of the directional flow of sh*t. Enjoy and Happy Friday!

As we all know, shit rolls downhill. This shows how the process takes place in a professional services firm.

At the top of the hill is the Client. Generally, the Client, in one way or another, generates the shit.

The shit first reaches the Partner. But Partners are very adept at smelling the shit coming, and say, “I’m a Partner, I don’t have to take this shit.” And so the shit rolls on by.

Now the shit reaches the Senior Manager. It’s picking up some speed by now, and the Senior Manager gets splashed. “Phew, this shit stinks,” says the senior Manager, “better pass it down”.

So the shit washes over the Manager, and he gets well dipped in shit. But by this time, the shit has a lot of momentum, and it keeps rolling down.

And so the shit lands on the Consultant. And the Consultant gets covered in it, and spends the entire engagement swimming in it.

The Analysts are shielded from the shit by the Crest of Ignorance, which keeps shit from rolling down on them, and ensures that the Consultant remains submerged.

Meanwhile, however, the Analysts discover more shit as they proceed with the engagement. Not sure what to do with it, they conceal it in the Cave of Unreported Exceptions.

After a while, the cave gets filled with shit and it starts to ferment. Then the Consultant begins to smell hidden shit, and wonders “Dammit, now who’s been hiding this shit?” So, next time you’re on an engagement, and you wonder why your life seems like shit, just refer to the diagram.

Starwood and Amazon, best combination since lamb and tuna fish

Yes they sell Westin products on Amazon, no you don’t have to buy them!

My coworker Ben McLauchlin clued me in to the newest promotion for Starwood Preferred Guest members (i.e. Westin, Sheraton, Aloft hotels) … and this one is almost too good to be true.  For every 2 stays at a SPG hotel, you will get a $100 gift card.  No paperwork, no submission rules … just stay at the hotel twice.  And, the best part is that you can earn up to 3 cards.  So basically, once again for doing nothing, you can get rewarded in HUGE ways to be a business traveler.  This $300 will go very nicely towards my new RX-8’s Navigation system… 🙂

Netflix, best customer service EVER

Change Management 101: Easy Surveys get results

I had a problem where i ordered the wrong Netflix movie.  I mean, I needed the next disc of Mad Men Season 1 and accidentally had Jennifer’s Body listed first?  Yikes, big mistake having that drek movie at the top of the list anyways … note to self, manage your queue regularly to keep from getting two awful horror movies at the same time…

Anyways, I called up the 24 hour customer service (only 2 minutes of wait time to get to a person).  She barely even needed a reason and sent me the next disc automatically.  Easiest customer services request ever.  But to top it off, I was sent an email shortly asking me to answer just one question on the quality of my service.  If all surveys were this easy, everyone would get more results.  Thanks Netflix.  (And you still wonder why it jumped up 25% in stock price this week?)

Ingrid its your Birthday, Happy Birthday Ingrid!

For those of you who don’t know, Ingrid is my partner in crime these days.  We work together, we travel together, we drive together, we live together, we eat together, we cry together, we die together!  We spend waaaaay too much time together, so she gets a special shout-out here.  Happy birthday Ingie, I asked all your friends to record their birthday wishes for you too, here they are below…

Free Concert Tickets from Starwood Hotels

Starwood came out with 2 new promotions this week for the business traveler.  The first one is that all platinum preferred members get 1 free concert ticket to any show per stay during the month of August.  Awesome!  I don’t become Platinum until next week (as you can see in today’s picture, I got DENIED!), but I’ll rack up a couple tickets still before the promotion runs out.  The second one is special for Accenture employees only (but I’d be shocked if they weren’t doing it for other corporate regulars as well).  Double points through the end of 2009 for all Accenture employees.  Nice.

I know I have said it before, but the perks of traveling are fantastic and make it much easier to be gone from home, family, friends, and loved ones on a regular basis.  Its no replacement for being able to curl up on my click-clack with Lindsey and watch SYTYCD on Wednesdays, but a free first-class upgrade or Starwood concert ticket … you have to like that too 🙂

Hotel Living’s Finest Moment

I have to give it up to my buddy (and fellow art enthusiast), Grant Kamin, for sending me this awesome email chain between a Hotel regular and the cleaning service staff.  After doing some research, this email chain has been officially deemed to be fake (you can click the link for true origin and author, but at least read the below first).

Regardless, I just laughed for a good 10 minutes straight reading this and had to share with those who haven’t come across it yet.  I have never felt more like my father than today:  sitting on my couch, reading a friendly email from a friend, then going into a 10 minute long laugh attack that had me grasping for breath when done … only to realize no one else is around me and the story will have to be retold to everyone I know.  So enjoy!

Dear Maid,
Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way.
Thank you,
S. Berman

Dear Room 635,
I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soaps daily. I hope this is satisfactory.
Relief Maid

Dear Maid – I hope you are my regular maid.
Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won’t need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Please remove them.
S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,
My day off was last Wed. so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience. I didn’t remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can of further assistance.
Your regular maid,

Dear Mr. Berman,
The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this morning that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service. I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you.
Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

Dear Miss Carmen,
It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 7:45 AM and don’t get back before 5:30 or 6PM. That’s the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bath-room shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?
S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,
Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps. If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM.Thank you,
Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

Dear Mr. Kensedder,
My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial. I came in late last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets.
S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,
I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem. I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.
Martin L. Kensedder, Assistant Manager

Dear Mrs. Carmen,
Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room? I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don’t want 54 little bars of Camay. I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here. All I want is my bath size Dial. Please give me back my bath-size Dial.
S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,
You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. Then you complained to Mr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them. The 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily. I don’t know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays. I don’t know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial. I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room.
Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

Dear Mrs. Carmen,
Just a short note to bring you up-to-date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess:

  • On the shelf under medicine cabinet – 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • On the Kleenex dispenser – 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3.
  • On the bedroom dresser – 1 stack of 3 Cashmere Bouquet, – 1 stack of 4 hotel-size Ivory, and 8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4.
  • Inside the medicine cabinet – 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • In the shower soap dish – 6 Camay, very moist.
  • On the northeast corner of tub – 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used.
  • On the northwest corner of tub – 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.

Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill is not in use and will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries. One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-sized Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings.
S. Berman

Birthday celebrations corporate style, thanks IMSP HP team

Anywhere we are, anywhere we go, everybody knows …. we got the party with us

Quite impressively, this has already been an interesting birthday to remember!  My team out here in Alexandria has been awesome to help me celebrate my first birthday away from Minnesota, what a fun group of corporate/government peeps.  Ingrid started it off last night, forcing me to wear a balloon on my shoe (sorry it flew away … the balloon, not the shoe) for the first part of the night, before heading to the bar for drinks and trivia.  The drinks were delish, the company was great, and the Trivia was good … enough.  Yeah we didn’t win, and only got 1 out of 10 on the Art history round (Carey we needed you!), but it was fun and Ben managed not to spill any drinks on me this time.

Then this afternoon was a treat as I was surprised by everyone’s post-lunch party with cake, candy and a quietly whispered version of Happy Birthday (we’re quite professional here at Accenture).  Thanks everyone for helping make this a great birthday so far.  For everyone at home, you better be prepared to one-up in class this Friday night. 🙂

Monday Surprises, I’m a Father!

Marigolds, Zinnias, and Chives … oh my!

Ok, not really.  But I have now successfully planted and grown my first flowers.  They are like dozens of little babies reaching for the feeding hand of sun and water – that of which only I have the power to provide or restrain.  I’d say my parenting skills thus far are slightly above mediocre … quite the accomplishment for the guy who in high school thought the Krebs Cycle was something built by Trek.  It’s no garden like Cousin Dave has recently found his green thumb to cater to, but it’s an impressive accessory for work nonetheless.  These tiny sprouts will soon be blossoming flowers as the days pass, and I’m excited to see how big they get before I undoubtedly kill them.

These tiny pots were bought from Target’s clearance $1 section (so actually only $0.70) and came with seeds and soil.  Of course, the instructions say to move them to a large pot once they have reached 3 inches tall, but we all know I won’t know how to do that without committing involuntary botanical murder.

iPod Roulette, SNW!

shuffle up and deal

I forgot my iPod at home this week so Lindsey let me borrow her iPod Shuffle.  She couldn’t remember what was on it, and you can’t exactly search for stuff on that tiny device.  So, I decided to take my chances and play iPod Roulette … hoping it wouldn’t be full of Hannah Montana and Carrie Underwood.  Shocking Neiman Wins!  Counting Crows, Storyhill, Blessid Union of Souls, Bon Jovi, Journey, and tons of other great 80’s and classic rock.  Definitely nice not to have to listen to Miley’s The Climb the whole way home.  Ah hell, who am I kidding, I would have liked that too.