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Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business Hardcover – June 24, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lublin, CEO of the youth volunteering organization Do Something and founder of Dress for Success, shows organizations how to get more done with less of everything, especially money and personnel, while keeping innovation, passion, and creativity high. Sharing insightful stories and strategies from her own experiences and from stars in the not-for-profit world such as Billy Shore from Share Our Strength, Wendy Kopp from Teach for America, and John Lilly from Mozilla, she debunks the most prevalent myth in business today—that salary drives great performance and stellar productivity. She proposes that companies broaden their rewards and their understanding of compensation so that people become deeply motivated to excel and offers techniques for extracting the best from people including creating a stimulating workplace, offering skill development, and doling out titles liberally. She also shares advice on branding, doing more for customers, stretching finances, and more. Concluding each chapter with 11 questions to prompt creativity in specific areas, she propels readers on the road to positive change. Inspiring, wise, and eminently practical, this book distills the best practices that any company—private or public—can adopt, and that no leader should be without. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Nancy Lublin has brought so much energy to the non-profit sector and the world is a much better place because of it. I'm so glad she wrote a book to give us all a window into how she thinks and makes things happen. Regardless of your professional sector, you'll find Zilch full of inspiration and great ideas."
-Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder, Teach for America

"Nancy's great energy and experience come through in her book as she provides great lessons for business and life to be more effective. Nancy's 11 question approach is a great way to make you think about how her principles apply to what we do everyday in business. I enjoyed the book and am already thinking about how I can do more with less."
-Ken Hicks, president and CEO, Foot Locker, Inc.

"Anyone who can start an internationally respected not-for-profit with just $5,000 has a lot to teach today's business world. Inspiring and practical, this book is a must read for anyone running a business. Including me."
-Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post

"Nancy Lublin is a star! She knows how to really make a difference in a most efficient and pragmatic way...and now teaches us how to do it!"
-Diane von Furstenberg

"Nancy Lublin has done the uptight business world a big favor. Borrowing from her experience as found of Dress for Success and now CEO of Do Something, Nancy lays out a strategy for business success in the simplest terms. It's a smart, sassy, and plain spoken book full of great ideas on his to run a for-profit company. Using compelling anecdotes for her 'not-for-profit' world, Nancy's amazing energy and imagination comes through in every chapter. Zilch is a no nonsense survival manual for fat cats."
-Jim Berrien, president and COO of Mother Nature Network, former president of Forbes Magazine Group

"In a reset world, Zilch provides a timely approach for operating in the 'New Normal'. Nancy Lublin's expansive nonprofit experience provides rich organizational insights for businesses of all sizes."
-Carol L. Cone, chairman, Cone

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; 51408th edition (June 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843146
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I know the lessons in this book from personal experience. My business partners and I built our present company having no money and were unwilling to give away all our equity to raise money. So, we have scratched, scraped, and done the things Nancy Lublin wisely advocates you do in this time of slashed budgets, decreased revenues, and carefully hoarded profits.

The book has 11 chapters with each focusing on a key lesson of getting by with zilch (which doesn't mean exactly zero dollars, but zero to spare and lot less than you were used to when things were fat, dumb, and happy just a few short years ago).

Each chapter is full of ideas and suggestions. For example, the first chapter is about doing more even though you have less cash to throw at people to paper over your problems. The ideas are sound: Get all levels of your company involved in realizing your company's vision and purpose. Rearrange your physical workspace so that it is more fun and stimulating for your staff. Make your staff more valuable and capable by investing in their skills development. Give out fancier titles (banks have know this forever). Help people set and achieve goals and make a big deal out of those achievements. Happy staff = a happy workplace. Be willing to thank your staff for the work they do. There are a lot more. You see how much more you can do without spending more money?

Lublin helps you with ideas about your brand, the people you hire for work OUTSIDE your company, being smarter about what you ask for, doing more for customers, getting more out of your board, your staff, and your company's story. She also points out valuable things you should consider about your finances. Heck, she even discusses barter! And you can always be more innovative.

Good book.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not usually a business-book reader, but the Nancy Lublin 'brand name' caught my eye, so I opened up Zilch and took a peek...three hours later, I was still engrossed. This is the liveliest, smartest, straight-shootingest, spunkiest collection of useful tidbits and wise observations I've read about *any* subject in years. From telling anecdotes (you won't forget the one about LBJ and the NASA janitor) to genuinely interesting how-to prompts ('11 questions to get you started,' e.g.) to catchy mnemonics (the Tote Bag Principle!) to big-picture insights (the power of bartering), this book will change your life. Or at least the way you operate professionally...and for all us type-A types, isn't that the same thing? Can't wait for Lublin's next book (Nada?)--and am most enthusiastically recommending this one.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has TONS of great stories about rockin not for profit leaders. My favorite is about George who was hired for his passion despite his lack of specific skills and taught himself HTML, SEO, and web design, working around the clock to eventually become the Chief Technology Officer at [...]. Nancy shows that when you hire smart people, empower and challenge them, you unleash their brilliance to work for your cause. The question is if you are a strong enough leader to pass meaningful responsibilities and power on to your staff, step back, and let them launch. We young professionals are hungry for you to do this, and it will cost the organization nothing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought this book lacked nuance at times (like when discussing overhead as a percentage of costs). If you've never had a leadership role in a not-for-profit then you'll get more out of this book than I did. Actually, if you've never had a leadership role in a not-for-profit you should definitely give this book a chance. However, if you already have extensive leadership experience in a resource starved not-for-profit you won't learn much from this.

Obviously the author is very good at executing, as she has a wonderful track record. Just not the biggest fan of this book.

One section I did find helpful was the chapter on bartering. Definitely worth picking up the book in a bookstore to flip through that part of the book. Had that been a "Kindle Single" on its own I would give it five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes the biggest ideas are born out of frustration. For Nancy Lublin, the frustration of seeing large companies with oversized budgets squandering their resources simply because they didn't understand "the power of zero" offered that moment that led to this book. Taking the lessons from her successful non-profit consulting career, Nancy offers an idea filled guide to doing more with less. Her advice on offering a "lofty purpose" for your organization, how to make it more fun for your employees and how to inspire people are based on her experiences of motivating her own employees to pour their hearts and souls into their work. If you know Nancy from her monthly column in Fast Company, this book won't be a disappointment. Like her column, the book is immediately insightful, filled with practical advice and is based on a non-profit philosophy that almost any business could learn from - whether they are interested in making a positive impact in the world, or just selling a few more widgets.

This book was shortlisted for the 2011 Influential Business Book Awards - a curated list of the best business books from the past year. The finalists each year are selected from hundreds of marketing and business books released over the past twelve months.
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