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on November 8, 2010
Thompson and Tracy have written one of the best books on not just how to build a great business, but how to be successful at anything.

A couple of my takeaways that I am using today are their Six Key Questions in Strategic Planning (plus their explanations and guidance to answer all of these questions):

1. Where are you now? What is your current situation?
2.How did you get to where you are today?
3. Where do you want to go from here?
4. How do you get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future?
5. What obstacles will you have to overcome? What problems will you have to solve?
6. What additional knowledge, skills, or resources will you require to achieve your strategic objectives?

As well as the evergreen advice from Peter Drucker's Five Questions:

1. What is your mission?
2. Who is your customer?
3. What does your customer value?
4. What results are you trying to accomplish?
5. What is your plan?

If you only bought and read one book this year on how to become successful, this should be it.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
Get Out of Your Own Way at Work..., &Help Others Do the Same Conquer Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job - 2005 publication
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on November 8, 2010
I appreciate this book because it includes practical action steps to attract customers and keep them interested and engaged. The focus is really on what the customer values.

I work for a nonprofit organization and the content was 100% applicable: how to best concentrate time, money and resources on the most successful services and programs; and how to create a culture of "continuous improvement."

Very rarely do we talk about "how to be" - the focus is usually on "what to do." This book blurs that line, giving equal importance to being a leader of character and a proactive doer.
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If there is another volume published in recent years that provides more and better practical ("meat and potatoes") business advice than does this one, I am eager to know about it. Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy focus almost entirely on the most important "what" and the most effective "how" with regard to "building" both a great business and a great career in business, doing so one step at a time.

There are no head-snapping revelations among the seven "ways" to which the book's subtitle refers, nor do Thompson and Tracy make any such claim. It is important to remember Thomas Edison's observation, "Vision without execution is hallucination." A separate chapter is devoted to each of the seven, explaining HOW to

o Become a great leader
o Develop a great business plan
o Surround yourself with great people
o Offer a great product or service
o Design a great marketing plan
o Perfect a great sales force
o Create a great customer experience

With all due respect to becoming "great" and achieving "greatness," there is much to be said for the value of information, insights, and advice that will help business leaders and their companies to become better. In fact, as the Japanese word "kaizen" correctly suggests, improvement is a process, not a destination, and should be continuous.

I presume to suggest that readers think of Thompson and Tracy as their personal business coaches and mentors, as "travel agents" for that journey, and to think of this book as an itinerary for a series of initiatives and experiences during a journey that includes encounters with exemplary organizations and their executives such as Best Buy, Ford Moor Company, GE, General Motors, Charles Schwab, and Southwest Airlines.

Yes, all of these are huge global corporations but the lessons to be learned from them are relevant to any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. For example, Cuadra Boots in central Mexico that Thompson and Tracy also cite as an exemplar because of "four essential lessons in product quality and innovation" that the Cuadra brothers and others have had to learn before mega-success [a relative term, to be sure] was possible." They are:

1. Don't follow the leader.
2. Create exclusivity.
3. Keep in continuous customer contact.
4. Testing takes you from good to great (or at least to better)

Thompson and Tracy make excellent use of questions throughout their narrative, offering a "checklist" at the conclusion of most chapters that challenge their reader to think about what must be done and how to get it done. They also include excellent questions posed by others, such as Peter Drucker (Pages 49-5) and Fred Reichheld (Pages 108-110) that also focus on what is most important as opoosed to what is merely urgent. All effective leaders ask the right questions and they tend to remain the same. Here are five from Drucker: What is your mission? Who is your customer? What does your customer value? What results are you trying to accomplish? What is your plan?

My person favorite among Drucker's quotations is this one: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Asking the right questions will help to avoid making that mistake. Here are two more from Reichheld, both very important: "Based on your experience with us, on a scale of one to ten, would you recommend us to others? Then, whatever score you receive, if it is less than a ten, you immediately follow up by asking: What would we have to do to earn a ten from you?"

It is easy to ask questions but sometimes very difficult to know what the right questions to ask are. Thompson and Tracy help the business leaders who read this book to do that and, better yet, they help them to obtain the right answers and then to understand how to respond effectively to them.
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on May 1, 2012
"Build a Great Business" provides a very useful roadmap to help business owners and managers make strategic choices designed to help improve and reinvent business. What's most useful about this book was the perspective that Brian Tracy and Mark Thompson provide, in which actions are most important to build a more competitive, successful business.

Think of it like a strategic planning strategy by two of the best in the business -- if I were still a management consultant, I'd have my executive teams read this book, then Rate themselves on implementation for all the various concepts covered. Developing a more competitive, intensely customer-focused business is everyone's objective; this book does an excellent job of "painting the picture" of what's needed, to build a great business.

Going beyond the basics, the systems integration focus and targeted strategies that Brian and Mark provide makes for a uniquely valuable book, and I recommend it highly. It's a great checklist for self-evaluation, and provides a well-reasoned approach that businesses can model, for improved outcomes and results. Thanks!

To success,

Ken Calhoun
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on February 22, 2011
Having read numerous books by Brian Tracy over the years, I was naturally drawn to his newest book. I admit, though, I had never heard of the co-author, Mark Thompson. After reading the book, I am not only going to continue reading any book Brian Tracy writes but also any book by Mark Thompson.

Now here's what makes the book good. Part way through the book, I concluded what I was reading was a how to consulting manual for small and medium size businesses. There are numerous books available today written by the big names in consulting that all talk about how large companies need to reinvent themselves or how large companies have reinvented themselves successfully. All of this is good, but if you're running a small or medium size company, it leaves you wondering exactly what you should do.

This book finally shows you what you can do. An example is the six key questions the authors say you should ask yourself regarding strategic planning. The questions work because they're not so lofty you ask yourself if they apply to you. Another section of the book deals with how to motivate people and the importance they play in your company. Still another section explains why customer feedback is so important and how you can go about getting it. These are just three examples as to how the book can benefit the reader. The topics are clear, concise and practical.

If you're asking me who should read this book, the primary audience is the small or medium size business owner or the manager or leader who works in a small or medium size company. Second audience is any salesperson or person who spends any amount of time dealing with small or medium size businesses. Both of these groups can use this book to either help them run their companies better or understand better how to provide their customers with keen insights to strengthen their business and in turn be a better customer.
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on August 15, 2011
I follow Brian Tracy's principles and thought that this book may contain new ones , to my disappointment. He talks about the key things and mentions great business books and lessons learned - books which I read on my own and have my own take on. If you've heard him speak and watch his seminars then do that instead.
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on November 15, 2010
Now Build a Great Business is the perfect combination of inspiration and expert advice. The tools and thought provoking questions provided by Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy make it easy to create a plan for success in any business... and at every level of leadership.

The 7 steps are helpful at any stage in your career as you define your business strategy and areas of focus. I would highly recommend this book to my peer group with 10-15 years of work experience as a good foundation for a new manager looking to influence and contribute to their organization's vision. The inspirational stories will encourage you to take action and serve as case studies to drive home the book's approach to success.

If you are an entrepreneur on cusp of launching your business or someone who finds ways to innovate in an organization, this is your playbook!

Joan K. Snyder
Senior Manager, Forest Laboratories
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on December 3, 2012
Mark and Brain have written a good business reference guide that will help anyone starting a business. From starting a business plan to continued marketing, a must have for any business person's library.
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Now, Build a Great Business is a blueprint, a step by step manual for building a business that will give you all the things you want from your business.

According to the authors there are seven broad areas that you need to master if you wish to build a great business: Leadership, A sound business plan, great people, great product or service, great marketing, great sales process and a great customer experience.

There is a chapter devoted to each category. The authors go into great detail, giving step by step instructions about how to achieve outstanding results in each area. At the end of each chapter is a series of questions for the reader to answer. If you answer these questions and then put the answers into action, you will greatly improve your business.

I have read numerous books and listened to countless audio programs by Brian Tracy. If you are familiar with his work, you will recognize his teachings throughout the book. The book is well written, well organized, a breeze to read and contains a wealth of wisdom both from the authors and from the many sources they cite.

Most people who read this book will come away with dozens of ideas that can be applied to their business. The value is not in the ideas, but in the implementation. You will want to keep this book handy and refer to it often. I found numerous passages to highlight and underline for future reference.

I believe most entrepreneurs make a lot of incorrect assumptions about what it takes to create a highly successful business. They tend to focus on their product or service and how marvelous it is without really focusing on what the customer wants, needs and values. This book does a great job of pointing out the areas you must focus on if you wish to create a highly successful business.

Lastly the book closes with the advice that a great business is not what really counts. It is a great life. So the authors tell us how to focus on the things that really matter in life.

Here are some highlights of the important lessons in the book:

Follow the advice of Peter Drucker - ask, "What does the customer value?"

When you make a mistake, ask, "What can I learn from this problem or situation? Don't waste mistakes."

"The leader's job is to give credit and take responsibility. This means no blame and no excuses."

"Fully 80 percent of your success in business and life is going to be determined by your level of clarity in each area."

There are some valuable quotes at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the text. The quote at the beginning of the chapter on building a great life is worth repeating. "The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least." Goethe.

An excellent guide for building a great business and life.
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on February 17, 2011
Now, Build a Great Business offers seven basic steps to building a visionary business: steps that apply to all kinds of businesses. From checklists and self-directed questions to developing a good business plan by thinking strategically and tactically, this is packed with keys to successful sales, marketing and business-building strategies and is a top pick for any entrepreneur's library.
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