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Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future
Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future
Price: $0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but perhaps not overly strategic, March 13, 2015
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When first starting to read "Non Obvious," it struck me as a fresh and innovative way to look at the world and a better way to see where we're all headed. This was also a timely read for me, as I'm on several teams working to integrate the best practices of several acquired companies into several differentiated brands. Our goal is to change the way consumers think about sleep as they choose mattresses. I was meeting during the day comparing our practices and training approaches, while reading "Non Obvious" during the evenings.

Bhargava starts with an excellent description of his methodology and--from that--introduces the 15 trends he has curated for 2015. This juxtaposition of a work project and recreational reading at first seemed to suggest some unique ways for us to tie our store, selling and delivery experiences to some of the trends Bhargava was describing. This reminded me of a way a previous employer back in the 80's tried to tie its new line of fashion products to trends they saw each year. They researched what was hot in the culture and married slides of those trends with music to introduce our products to retail buyers. This seemed very much in line with what Bhargava describes as his research method.

Unfortunately, this process doesn't seem to be as effective for us in our present effort. As other reviewers have noted, there is redundancy and some blurriness between these current trends. Where Bhargava bases his predictions on his unique way of scanning magazines and other cultural indicators, I'm not sure typical business people think this way. They are more apt to make decisions based on past stories and experiences they've had within the business. To his credit, though, Bhargava finishes with several chapters on how he works with clients to help them consider trends in their typical analysis processes. But I wonder how well the facilitators could emulate what Bhargava does himself in his own workshops.

I was suspicious in investing time in reading a Kindle that was offered for only one dollar. The return on that minimal investment is certainly there in opening one's mind to thinking in terms of trends. Bhargava's introduction gets you wondering whether best practices are the things we do that work most effectively or are they really just the experiences we offer that most accommodate how our customers are changing. I think trends are good for interesting reading, cocktail conversations and being "in the know," but I'm not sure they can be used as a primary foundation for structuring your business processes and customer experiences.


A Long Bright Future
A Long Bright Future
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Respect our longer futures by planning to take full advantage of our new possibilities, February 22, 2015
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I read this book after seeing Laura Carstensen quoted in Time Magazine's excellent multi-faceted March 2, 2015 cover story on aging. Ironically, I was reading this while waiting as my wife was getting cataract and lens replacement surgery that will enable her to see better than she's ever seen in her entire life. Along with about 30 other "old people" who were about to experience the same miracle of modern medical technology on an assembly line to fix their eyes for life in a 10-minute operation.

The previous reviews here for "A Long Bright Future"--while mostly 4- and 5-star--seemed somehow less than passionate, as was the audience to whom Carstensen presented in a 2012 TED YouTube video soon after "A Long Bright Future" was published. It's hard to be passionate about something none of us really understands nor appreciates yet ... that we are the first demographic cohort to really experience not just the government's plan for how Social Security, Medicare and 401(k)s will work together to sustain our after-work passage but also to learn how to make the most of additional years of longevity that we are all inheriting.

It's kind of a "be careful what you wish for" circumstance we find ourselves in. We are constantly guilted for not saving enough for retirement, but no one ever planned for us to live this long or to have access to medical innovations that are adding quality years if not decades to our lives. As a 65-year old who still enjoys working, I read much of the daily barrage of articles and books about preparing emotionally and financially for retirement and have posted several of my reviews on Amazon for books like "Falling Short" and "Unretirement." "A Long Bright Future" adds a broader perspective to the discussion by reassuring us that we're not stupid for not preparing. We just need to appreciate what's happening in a broader, more opportunistic way.

Several of the Amazon reviews here also raise the questions, "who is this book for?" and "who can best benefit from its message?" One reviewer was disappointed that Carstensen didn't describe what the future was actually going to be like. This reminded me of conversations I used to have with a colleague who also enjoyed science fiction movies that portray the future. He observed that most future visions were broken-down architectures from where we live in today, often bleak and dark, but with some cool new technology in the middle of the scenes. Think "Blade Runner." Carstensen points out that it's difficult for each of us to really envision a future that's not deeply impacted by what we know and do today. So, it seems to me that this book will benefit people of all age groups, but probably mostly 40- to 70-somethings will take the time to read it. But in doing so, we can all benefit in realizing that we can be productive and offer value to others for much longer than today's political debates and financial industry alarmists portray.

Because as difficult as it is to make good decisions, many of these debates and alarmists are correct that something must be done if we are to live into our 90's and beyond. Laura Carstensen helps to us to think and plan at a deeper level to take better advantage of the extra time we have to gain greater satisfaction in what we can do for others and for ourselves.


The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
by Patrick Lencioni
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.50
147 used & new from $9.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Reversing the trend of today's faceless communications, February 1, 2015
Let me review this book from the perspective of our company's leadership team going through a huge transition from a small family-owned business to a market share leader transforming an industry. The company that acquired us a year ago is a proponent of "The Advantage," and the VP who came over to integrate us into that organization has created a leadership team from those of us who stayed with the organization. To help us through, he purchased copies of "The Advantage" and we have been simultaneously working through the chapters and the steps to align our culture with our new parent company's culture. The irony in this situation is that we had a very strong culture, which the transition has hugely impacted. The acquiring company's leadership team has recognized this and sees us as an important player in combining our previous culture with many other acquired cultures to build a new culture and employee and customer experiences that exceed any of the previous experiences that were offered.

Against this backdrop, "The Advantage" provides excellent advice for doing all that has and will have to be done in the next several years. If we were to attack a laundry list of new initiatives, people would surely tire of the effort and move on. But by taking the time to carefully identify small groups of leaders in these brands, help them to form and care about each other as a team, and to identify some approximation of the answers to Lencioni's 6 big questions, it feels like we will be able to align the cultures and experiences of disparate companies around the culture and focus of the parent company's culture. This is no easy task and plenty of conglomerates have failed in trying, but you can see the influences of "The Advantage" in the team-building efforts so far.

I give this a 4-star rather than a 5-star rating because the intensity of the book seemed to drop off a little in the 3rd and 4th Disciplines and the final two chapters. Perhaps that is appropriate because Lencioni implies that building a cohesive leadership team and creating clarity are the two most important--and difficult--disciplines on which to base the later skills and activities. But it felt like there was less to say and emphasize in the latter activities. Over my own career I've had the chance to work on projects with executive teams as an employee and as a consultant. It has always struck me how those people as individuals were "regular people"--facing the same challenges and decisions as others lower in the organization. They typically have to go by their gut and use common sense in making important decisions.

But--as Lencioni states in this book--if those teams have done the heavy lifting by trusting each other and making authentic decisions as a group, then the likelihood (though not guarantee) of their decisions being successful is greatly increased. The effectiveness of the book, I think, is that the author has been able to put down on paper what others just saw as typical interpersonal behavior. The fact of the matter is that we have all come to depend on more efficient but still faceless interactions and communication through phone calls, e-mails and other smart phone-enabled activities. The meeting and the need to work together face-to-face is a dying art, and Lencioni explains how to reverse this trend.


Zero Belly Diet: Lose Up to 16 lbs. in 14 Days!
Zero Belly Diet: Lose Up to 16 lbs. in 14 Days!
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but credible science for attacking the hardest fat of all, January 25, 2015
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I've read 4 books about nutrition and dieting over the last 6 months, as there seems to be a wholesale shift from the low-fat diets of 1980-2010 to a more whole foods approach (including healthy fats) now. "Zero Belly" was the most 'pop culture' with Zinczenko using a similar style in writing to what he does on daytime TV and magazines. It was fun and fast to read the book with the eat this ... not that feeling in the book.

But at the same time, this had some serious science behind it that made it thought-provoking. I lost about 25 pounds last year on a United HealthCare program that focused on the kinds of foods you should eat and combine to address insulin resistance. "Zero Belly" does a great job of explaining why the visceral fat in our midsection is so hard to lose. He combines that fun science approach with testimonials (that were a slight bit repetitive) throughout the book.

I'm seeing more stories online about how people try a number of different diets--one on top of the other--to see how the different diets either work or don't work. In my own beginning strategies of implementing the Zero Belly diet I find myself buying and eating similar foods to what I was reading about and using (that United HealthCare diet --> South Beach --> Zero Belly). But the science that Zinczenko spends the first half of the book describing seems to help when you're putting together your daily meals. As others have said, the smoothies are great and the meals with a lot of vegetables just seem more healthy.

I don't expect to lose multiple inches and tens of pounds as quickly as those in the testimonials, but I can feel a difference since eating these foods for about 2 weeks now.


Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It
Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It
by Charles D. Ellis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.41
38 used & new from $17.17

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps to make more sense of the challenges we'll face in retirement, December 24, 2014
Having just turned 65, I'm now in that age range where you wonder if you should keep working or not. All my friends who've retired offer advice to enjoy retirement while you can--"You don't want to be too old to travel," they say. But thankfully I still have a job I love doing, I've got my health and I feel blessed on both accounts. So why retire when work is as fun as ever? Because I'm in this situation, I always click on those online new stories about retiring that describe the increasing difficulties of making ends meet when the income suddenly stops. In fact, I can't get enough of these stories, and I've started reading books like "Unretirement" that came out last Sept and now this book "Falling Short" that's new in Dec.

Both books point out the challenges of retiring when a large percentage of baby boomers won't be able to afford to. In "Unretirement" Chris Farrell puts a lot of faith and hope in baby boomers who have never faced a challenge without looking at in their own terms. He adds great texture to the discussion by telling many uplifting stories about pre-retirees and retirees who have found ways to 'unretire' and make ends meet. Many of these people have created businesses and jobs to help others retire better.

The authors of "Falling Short" do a more statistical and demographic analysis of the problem. They question those who say that everything will work out and emphasize the importance of working until 70 for those--like me--who wonder if it's time to retire. The importance of this analysis is that many if not most of the daily articles and writings about retirement are typically emotionally-based and anecdotal. "Falling Short" explains the history of retirement from the late 1800's up until today. Like Farrell's description, they point out that the whole idea of retirement is a relatively recent phenomenon. The problem for many of us now is that we are comparing our prospects for retirement with the experience of our parents and ours will never be that good. That's because the 1980's-90's were what they call the "golden age of retirement" with the perfect storm situation of high social security (which our parents didn't fully pay for), company pensions and life-long healthcare (that corporations could never afford to continue), and tremendously escalating home equity (that ended with the housing crisis).

So--with short and clear analysis--the authors proceed to explain how individuals can take advantage of possible sources of income that could at least approximate the standard of living many enjoyed while working. They explain the importance of:
1) Working until 70 to get the maximum social security payoff
2) Saving in your 401(k) without being tempted to withdraw savings to add income to the social security base
3) Protecting that 401(k) money if and when you roll it over to an IRA
4) Considering annuities for a predictable income stream until you and your spouse die
5) Recognizing the importance of home equity and considering reverse mortgages
6) Determining how to start drawing down on the those different income sources to maximize each source
Making these choices is difficult for even the most sophisticated consumer because strategies for doing so are constantly changing in the face of new products and regulations.

In the final chapter of "Falling Short" they explain how the government could incent employers and each of us to save more for retirement. They believe that the seeds of a more reliable future retirement system exist in today's income streams, but briefly note that others are looking at solutions that are drastically different than today's legacies of previous retirement solutions. If you're like me and read a lot about retiring and being able to do so, this is a great book to understand the historical and financial foundations that will leave many in the lurch. Once you understand the basis of the problem, all the human interest and piecemeal advice may make a little more sense.


The Storm
The Storm
Price: $0.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction but with some important human values to think about, November 8, 2014
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This review is from: The Storm (Kindle Edition)
My disclaimer in writing this review is that we’ve been close to the author’s family for 40+ years. Many people believe “they have a book in them” but few follow through. We heard Kevin was working on a book, and here it is on Kindle as though there’s nothing to it! What is more, it’s an impressive first effort reminiscent of such movies as “The Day After Tomorrow” when the climate catches up with mankind and “The Day After” when a small Kansas town deals with the consequences of nuclear war.

Like these movies, “The Storm” shows how close to the edge we are when something unexpected and uncontrollable happens. In this case a solar flare disables all the electricity and technology we’ve come to depend upon. But the consequences in this story do not come from Mother Nature … they come from neighbors who get more and more selfish and violent in their quest to survive.

I tend to not read much fiction. If I invest in reading a book, I want it to be real and lead me to making decisions about some goal in our lives. With that said, Kevin got me thinking about some very real issues as he unfolded a fictional story:

1) When disasters happen, some people stay optimistic and in place, waiting for “the authorities” to rescue them. In the story Josh and his family decide to stay in place while their neighbor Adam decides to get out fast while the getting’s good. Knowing what happens to those who stayed, it would have been interesting to learn what might have happened to Adam. The story shows how human nature gradually convinces people to move to save themselves, but in the process exposes them to new dangers.

2) At a time when we are all preoccupied with terrorism and suspiciousness of other cultures and religions, Kevin portrays the “good guys” in this story as a diverse group of neighbors with nothing but their joint survival in common. You see how they band together in defense of their neighborhood. You see how different neighborhoods target each other to ensure their own survival. It makes the point that people may become “terrorists” when their own situations require drastic actions.

3) The other a-ha I got relates to my own impending retirement. The point is often made that when you stop working, you lose your work family and must necessarily become closer to neighbors around who you likely don’t even know. When commuting and technology suddenly becomes impossible, that distant work family becomes quickly irrelevant.

In summary, this was an entertaining and consuming—if not depressing—read. We hear how our dependence on technology sets us up for disaster if that technology is suddenly disabled. Like those disaster movies, “The Storm” paints a picture of what could happen when we are forced to depend on the people closest to us in our families and in our local neighborhoods. Impressive first effort, Kevin.


Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life
Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life
Price: $9.17

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beacon in the depressing retirement narrative, September 12, 2014
The reference to this book that motivated me to read it was in one of the many Yahoo articles about the perils of being unprepared for retirement that we see every day and week online. Who's behind all these articles? Financial services companies wanting to take advantage of scaring readers to save and invest? Or writers and reporters who know articles about retirement are what people want to read? Whatever the reasons individuals and corporations have for publishing all of this advice and fear-mongering about successfully saving and transitioning into retirement, I know that I can't get enough of it. They've got my interest.

So in that context, Chris Farrell's book about how Baby Boomers are not about to take things on others' terms was an easy sale for me. The best adjective to describe the overall theme is "hopeful." Farrell claims to have attended many conferences, panel discussions and personal fact-finding visits to groups trying to get in front of the retirement perils others are writing so much about. For all the stories we read about where those in their 40's, 50's and 60's unlucky enough to have lost their jobs and struggled to regain their footing, Farrell has found others who have countered obstacles and roadblocks to finally identify new opportunities ... many in jobs that actually help others to navigate into retirement.

The benefit of all this is that it provides a counterpoint to all the negative stories about all that can go wrong when others give up on people because they've gotten old. By documenting the stories of many who--may be making less than before--but are doing things now that give them purpose and meaning, Farrell has offered a reason for many to keep trying and looking for jobs and roles where their unique talents and experiences will make them--and others--happier in more successful second or third acts.

So is this book too hopeful ... too anecdotal? I don't think so. Will we look back 20-30 years from now on this crazy quilt of new articles, books, conferences, emerging retirement business models and success stories and say that once more baby boomers did things their own way and refused to just accept what circumstances served up to them? It still feels a little optimistic because the stories Farrell is sharing are not common knowledge. The groups and associations he describes are still figuring things out.

Another thing that "Unretirement" does well is describing how new and recent this whole concept of good vs. bad retirements really is. He vividly describes how horrid retirement really was in the 20's and 30's, and then how shallow retirement became as our parents were able to afford Arizona retirement communities. Again, Farrell says that Baby Boomers won't stand for such models and experiences. Yes, we are still trying to figure out how to replace pensions with our own 401(k) and IRA savings and clearly we didn't do a very good job of it, but we will still find better, more substantial ways of spending our time to have left our mark in the next 20-30 years and be able to say we did it our way.

One of the other refreshing aspects of this book is that there is NO reference to the selfish and self-serving antics of our government and political parties. Other books express constant frustration that government is not leading the way with policy that could have addressed the downturn and gotten people to work and back to work. Instead, Farrell frames a coming unretirement movement of what we can do for ourselves. Perhaps as we fend for ourselves to live a worthwhile final act we can bring positive activity back into our society and economy, and end the outrage of political interests trying to make themselves look better and gain power by screwing the other side. Focus on what needs to be done rather than countering the other party.

As Farrell says himself, people should read about what others are doing as they transition into retirement and then perhaps back again into unretirement. There are a lot stories and new developments going on all around us, so become aware and don't just stand for suddenly becoming nonproductive. This is a good book to read and consider within that overall context.


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you forget that the world's a very cruel place, this book will remind you of it, June 29, 2014
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I've always been a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell books. How he finds seemingly disconnected topics and expands and juxtaposes them to find a common theme and learning without inserting himself too much into the middle. Sure, I've heard the criticism over the years about his surface treatments ... getting into the topic just enough but perhaps not as deeply as it deserved. You see quite a few of those criticisms for this book.

This time around I kind of agree with some of that criticism. "David & Goliath" still follows that same pattern but somehow it's all a bit too formulaic. The underdog topic that's kicked off in the beginning is guaranteed to catch the readers' interest and to sell more books, but it really doesn't carry through into the rest of the book. Who wouldn't root for David to carry the day. But then the shocker in that story--which is carried through the rest of the book ... Goliath really didn't stand a chance like the proverbial fool who brings a knife (or in this case a spear) to a gunfight (or in this case a 135 mile per hour pebble launched from a sling).

From there we see that a wide variety of seemingly disconnected topics about underdogs or assumptions about power and advantage follow that same premise. That things we see as advantages or disadvantages really aren't ... like smaller class sizes, going to Ivy League schools, having dyslexia, being militarily weak, having a bad childhood, losing a parent when young. All of these serve to make later achievers stronger, more creative and--most of all--disagreeable, which turns them into household names. Gladwell continues to do the deal with these stories by making them interesting and compelling, but it all gets a bit tedious as he continually lists them side by side to repeatedly make the same points.

As inspirational as these stories are, there are certainly legions of achievers who didn't suffer those disadvantages and still accomplished great things in their lives. So the message and readership for this book should perhaps be focused on people whose prospects appear diminished so they they don't give up in the face of adversity. For the rest, the stories and life lessons are so negative that the book fails to elevate us to bigger and better things.

As other reviewers pointed out too, it felt like the third part of the book that focuses on how authority fails when seen as illegitimate seemed a big jump from what Gladwell seemed to be targeting in the first two parts. It was almost like his editor or publisher had to encourage him to add more. And in so doing he failed to drive home the more important points he had established up front. And so the book just ends. I don't feel elevated as I did when I completed "The Tipping Point," "Blink" or Outliers." I just felt depressed that the world is such a nasty place and it presumably requires a poor childhood to rise above it all.


Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The science of what makes people fat with a minimum of the politics of nutrition, June 3, 2014
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I've not read any diet books until this past week, so I'm new to this conversation. Having been reading political books for the past several years and being shocked by the vitriol you see there, I'm even more shocked by the hostility and outrage reviewers express in the Health, Fitness & Dieting department of Amazon Books. That's pretty much the point Taubes makes in this book that is made much more strongly in Nina Teicholz's "Big Fat Surprise" that came out this month. Their scariest claim is how a relatively small number of people "sold" (or "brainwashed") the American public that saturated fats increased cholesterol which caused heart attacks. Teicholz REALLY gets into the politics of how this happened, while Taubes explains more of the science for why we get fat. I enjoyed reading these two books over the course of a week to see what each was saying. Some reviewers of Teicholz's book accuse her of parroting Taubes, but these books were excellent together.

It's admirable that Taubes attempted to make the causes of obesity simple and more understandable for laymen. Many of the 1-star reviewers still didn't get it, but when you believe something so hard and that belief is being criticized it's pretty hard to concentrate on something you really have to think about. In my case, I couldn't put the book down. This just proves how controversial topics like health & wellness, nutrition, sleep and disease prevention have become so convoluted. Doctors who work with patients--more and more of whom are suffering from obesity-related problems and diseases--have to see that their standard advice just doesn't work. The fact that they continue to recommend the party line about how to avoid obesity, diabetes and heart disease speaks to the political and legal situation we're in in this country. So who do you trust for good advice?

My sense is that Taubes has gotten as close as anyone to explaining why we get fat. As he points out repeatedly, he's only the latest in a long line of researchers and nutritionists who have been saying the same things for decades. There seems to have been a line of nutritionists down through the last 100 years (and likely down through thousands of years before that) who have done their best to state what is best for us to eat--each in the context of the issues and scientific understanding in which each of them lived. This is an interesting way to think about history and progress with ever-advancing understandings offered by science.

In my own situation, I was required in our health insurance wellness coverage to take a weight-loss eLearning course because I (along with at least 75% of the rest of my company) tested as overweight. Most of us were amazed that some of the techniques suggested in that training actually worked ... things like skip breakfast, eat what you want except for sugar, and all the meats that everyone says are bad will actually make you lose weight. So I put those techniques to work and lost 25 pounds in 3 months. Then I saw the Teicholz book that promised to explain why some of those techniques might be valid. While she went through the politics of low-fat vs. fat, she never got into what you should eat and how the foods we're told not to eat are actually good for us. That got me to this book. I think Taubes does an excellent job explaining how insulin works to keep everything stable. This book promises to help me to understand why and how the things I eat are likely to affect my body. I've finally broken through the wall I hit at 25 pounds lost and am down another 6 pounds after a week on the Taubes diet. Now I have a structure for deciding what to eat and not eat and a basic understanding of what may happen as that food is processed.

This is not to say you can become a nutrition expert by reading a couple of books, but -- as many other of the reviewers have commented -- one can really learn and buy in to new ideas when you are applying what you're reading and seeing for yourself how that works. This is a new and exciting situation to be in after 30 years of having doctors tell me to lose some weight but not really telling me how to do it. And then seeing articles everyday in the media and online that give opposite advice. At some point you have to know why things work the way they do and Taubes has filled in some of those blanks for me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2014 11:09 AM PDT


Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Starting a business is tough, but keeping it going is even tougher, June 2, 2014
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I read this book specifically to better understand a CEO's perspective in starting a company and then coming back to save it. Howard Schultz's very personalized account demonstrates the commitment needed to keep a vision and mission statement going as later leaders start to vary from the initial vision and as the economy inevitably affects the business. Schultz casts some blame on leaders who succeeded him, but most of Starbucks' issues seemed to be caused by the recession more so than internal decisions. If one recalls how many personal finance experts were recommending to skip the $4 latte as a way of saving money, this loss of business they suffered through 2008-9 shouldn't have been too much of a surprise.

With that said, the book was still interesting in seeing the difficulty of micro-focusing on each individual customer experience while simultaneously macro-focusing on growth. There are definitely advantages to being on every street corner, but the more spread out the company becomes the harder it is to make that experience unique but consistent for those who want the same product and experience in any location, fast but leisurely for those who aren't in a hurry, and successful for the company that can't help but focus on growth when opening multiple stores every day. Schultz effectively describes all the variables he considered through this time period to "thread the needle" to get the best of this small and big focus.

While it's hard to recognize that the successful companies we depend upon are typically short-lived, this book does a good job of showing why. A founder's focus and commitment to the original vision for a company is difficult to pass on to successors who have to be equally if not more committed to pushing it forward and adapting to changing customer tastes and competitive threats. As Schultz points out here, his successors couldn't accomplish that even though they were good people. Like Michael Dell of Dell Computer, Schultz cared and resolved to come back and make the necessary adjustments to carry Starbucks through. The average CEO probably wouldn't do that. And--as other reviewers have observed--what will happen the next time Schultz retires. It's why so many businesses don't last over extended periods and inevitably submit to competitors who come up with better ideas.

Even several years after it was published, this book is a good read to understand these long-term challenges that all businesses face. Today--as Sears, J.C. Penney and (gasp) even Walmart--seem destined to fail, "Onward" helps to explain why killer business models must be constantly tweaked or else they will eventually stagger and then fail.


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