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The Art of Profitability Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This compact tome from consultant Slywotzky (The Profit Zone) offers 23 business lessons via the tale of a manager's quest to learn the "art of profitability" from David Zhao, a wise master. It's an attractive and refreshing concept that taps into the Zen of business. The author cautions readers to "please read only one chapter per week... Think about it. Let it stew." His advice, centered around the mantra that the path to profitability lies in fully understanding the customer, is valuable- e.g., watch out for cracks in a business's foundation, because they can quickly lead to a collapse. Slywotzky has tried to make his text seem ancient, even timeless, by featuring the cliché of the wise sage and the eager pupil, and this forced effort may frustrate some readers looking for a quick fix. But those seeking a new alternative to tired business manuals should revel in Zhao's fable-like teachings.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Adrian Slywotzky lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446692271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446692274
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is focused on explaining 23 different models of profitability that different firms have followed. The author uses the realtionship between a wise mentor and an eager mentee to take the reader through the process of understanding the different models. The book is aimed at describing and giving the reader some insight into each model; it is not an in depth analysis of profitability. Given its aim, it is well written.
It is not a step by step process to apply at a business. This is a book to make a manager reflect, not follow. Each chapter is one story that describes a model; the style seems to follow the general outline of Harvard Business School cases, which, given the author's professorship there, is not so surprising.
I highly recommend it to someone looking for an entertaining read that will make one reflect. However, disregard the recommendation that you go through one chapter per week. It is too little, I think I would probably lose the book by the 3rd week. It is, instead, a book to be read in 3 days, and be referred back for ideas.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Boord on October 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a recent MBA graduate, I found this book to be far more valuable than most strategy texts I had read in school. While the focus is on explaining different profitability models, the lessons learned are easily applied to new ways to think about your enterprise. The book encourages the reader to read a chapter a week and suggests other books to read and thought exercises to do. While I'm sure this would be the ideal way to go through the material, I found the book suitable and enjoyable to read quickly. The writing is clear and to the point. And while comparisons to "The Goal" are unavoidable, I found the balance of storytelling and teaching in "Art of Profitability" to be skewed toward teaching. As a result, Slywotzky provides the reader more bang (quality insights) per page without compromising the books readability. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on May 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author weaves a story into his rundown of 23 profit models by having a young executive learn at the feet of a mystical guru over a year-long period. As the student gains insight, he grows in confidence and ability--good thing, too, since the company he works for is hopelessly messed up.

This highly accessible book is helpful on several levels.

First, it provides solid overviews of 23 important profit models: what they are, how they work, and why they work. Case studies and anecdotes provide illustration in case some of Master Zhao's explanations aren't sufficiently clear.

Second, it reminds us that profit is at the center of everything in business. The dialog between teacher and student illustrates how easy it is for business leadership to ignore that seemingly obvious principle.

Third, Mr. Slywotzky gives us a learning model we can apply to any problem, business or otherwise. He teaches the arts of listening, holding back, asking the right questions, analzying numbers, and extrapolating sound conclusions from particular facts, even small and seemingly unrelated ones. If you're interested in further study, he supplements his book with a reading list you won't see in an ordinary business book bibliography.

Probably the learning model is the most valuable aspect of the book: teach a man to fish, etc... Fascinating reading for entrepreneurs and executives in organizations of any size.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Randall Degges on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I originally purchased this book as I've been looking into starting my own company (on my spare time), and wanted to learn more about profitability, how to actually make profits, and what the different strategies involved are.

Adrian Slywotzky's book really impressed me. It is written in a relaxed, conversational tone (as a dialog between a famous economist and a dedicated young businessman), and discusses a slew of profit models, how they work, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

While I think this book is geared (mostly) towards professional businessmen whose job is to increase company profitability, the lessons learned in each chapter can be broadly applied to any sort of entrepreneurial interest (like in my case), and any sort of employee interest as well (for guys who just want to help their company be a success).

The book was a pleasure to read, and is very thought provoking and interesting. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is genuinely interested in how businesses generate profits, and what techniques can be used to increase profitability without changing the product / service / whatever your company is selling.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ingo Leung on January 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Executing business strategy is always more challenging than formulating one; 'The Art of Profitability' provides good insights to guide readers to align formulation & execution of business strategy, & focus on generating & sustaining profitability. Slywotzky's humorous storytelling style has made the book a unique & higly enjoyable read. This is certainly one of the most humorous yet practical business strategy books in the market.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Lamb on June 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
While I have been involved in business, (both large and small) for a number of years now and am not a total novice in the area of profit generation, a lot of what the book was illustrating struck me as as....well not exactly new, at least novel in it's approach. I did not graduate with a degree in economics or business, (theoretical linguistics actually,) so for those of you that DID, the 23 profit models portrayed may have been old-hat. I had only really thought of one or two of them as being somewhat distinct before reading the book. I too, like one of the other reviewers, thought that the injunction to "read only one chapter a week..." to be be a little pendantic. I read the whole thing in a couple of days on a business trip, but have referred back to it on numerous occasions to re-read passages and chapters as new thoughts and ideas arose that seemed applicable to me. I think the author's advice was meant to be used as if YOU the reader were Steve, and to go away and read the same materials Zhiao encouraged Steve to read, and to think about the same things as Steve was encouraged to ponder. I suppose if I had the time to do that, (or felt the energy to go find all of the articles and books mentioned, (at least two per chapter, so amost 50 books or articles in all some of which seem to me to be pretty obsure or hard to locate.) then I might have done so. As it was, I didn't, and am probably worse off for not having done so, but there it is anyway.

On the whole, I enjoyed both the material and the writing style. I thought it refreshing to see what could be rather esoteric material put into a format that was a little more attainable for someone like myself.
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