Next Book: Shine: How to Survive and Thrive at Work

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shine: How to Survive and Thrive at Work by Chris Barez-Brown

According to author Chris Baréz-Brown, when U2 singer and inveterate activist Bono first approaches a new organization, he wants to know who the group's "Elvis" is: who's the charismatic get-it-done person.

This new book is devoted to bringing out your inner Elvis, or at least upping your Elvis quotient.

Savvy marketing guy that he is, Baréz-Brown has a bunch of websites and links for further info on the book. Here are several: UK site:

Here's his Twitter account: @uppingyourelvis

And the book's Facebook page:

He's even got a (paid) iPhone app:

Here's the publisher's blurb on the book:
Is your job like wading through quicksand? Do you want to quit every time the printer jams? Or do you love it and want to shine even brighter?
Either way you're not alone. We've put together some simple questions to help you see how shiny your working life could be. Spend a couple of minutes giving us your answers and we'll give you a personalized action plan with some easy steps to get you a bit closer to loving every minute of the working day.

An interview with Chris Baréz-Brown: about the book

A UK magazine interview:

And  one more interview (below).


Credibility Review

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner)

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner. Wiley. 368 pages.

Review by Richard Pachter
I've worked for some interesting characters. Not my current or recent bosses, naturally, who are exemplary people, but in the past, I've dealt with a number of folks who may have been managers — they owned the title and occupied the office — though they clearly weren't leaders.

Their authority came from power and position rather than from their leadership or actions.  Some, I respected, but they didn't necessarily earn it from their work, just their titles, unfortunately.

They were the boss. Their words were one thing but their behavior was something else entirely. It's one thing to tell everyone that this next project is a life-and-death matter, but it's another matter entirely when everyone is still at work past closing time, and the boss is heading out the door. You've seen that movie, too, I'm sure!

Kouzes and Posner's new book, a revision of their  popular earlier edition, presents a wise and honest look at the basic qualities that leaders must possess. In aggregate, they can be described as "credibility."

Credibility, because there's an honesty and authenticity that's required. To be taken seriously, they write, it's insufficient to simply say all the appropriate things; the words and thoughts must align and be put into action on a consistent basis.

Some people might look the part. It's the James Buchanan Effect; he appeared every inch the leader but was ineffectual and is considered to be among the worst presidents ever by historians

Years ago, I worked for a tall woman with broad shoulders who allegedly knew how to manage — but not how to do the job. The team treated her with respect, but it was based more on their good manners than her proficiency. She looked great in meetings, though...

Most of us have an innate sense of what's real, and inauthenticity and lack of commitment are generally pretty obvious — palpable, even.

But if it's all so obvious, what need is there for a book? And why would it benefit from being revised and brought up to date?

Kouzes and Posner conducted a ton of interviews and present various examples and aspects of credibility in a very readable and comprehensible manner.

The numerous anecdotes and case studies are quite relatable, too.

The stories herein do a fine job of providing real-life situations to reflect upon and project one's own situations on, too.

Real leadership requires an arsenal of resources but you can't fake credibility; cracks show up sooner or later. But Kouzes and Posner provide a nice reality check for those whose authenticity might be lacking. The challenge, as always, is in getting them to recognize and act upon it.


Upping Your Elvis

Thursday, February 23, 2012



Saturday, February 18, 2012

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Richard L. Brandt. Portfolio/Penguin. 208 pages.

Review by Richard Pachter
Do you like biographies?
I love ‘em!
In fact, my first assigned “book report” at P.S. 139 in Brooklyn was a biography, so I chose “The Wright Brothers.”
But I had no idea I was supposed to just read and “report” on only one book, so I checked out three titles from my great little school library, and read about those pioneering aviators from three different authors’ angles. Why not?
I thought my debut book review, er, report, was a great success, except the teacher wrote TITLE? AUTHOR? in big red letters across the top of my 3-hole notebook paper I’d penciled my report on, and she later informed me that I was supposed to “report” on only one book, not several.
But from tiny acorns…
This new bio of’s Jeff Bezos is a fun read. Serious but not heavy or ponderous, its author does a fine job chronicling the life of the guy who essentially fulfilled the promise of the Internet as a medium for commerce.
Bezos was preternaturally bright and ambitious, one of those driven kids who loved computers and excelled at all sorts of techy things. But he also spent childhood vacations on his grandfather’s Texas ranch, learning to do a slew of decidedly low-tech chores with cattle, such as cleaning stalls, branding (insert joke here!), castrating and other fun stuff.
He never knew his biological father, who‘d divorced his mom when he was a year and a half old, but she soon remarried and they both took the name Bezos from his adopted dad, a Cuban refugee. The family first lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then Houston, Texas, then Panama City and Miami, Florida. He attended Palmetto Senior High in Pinecrest, had a summer job at McDonald’s, and enjoyed a happy childhood and adolescence.
After high school, Bezos started a little company with another Palmetto High graduate, aimed at tutoring advanced fifth-graders and was written up in the Miami Herald. Bezos also received a science prize in the newspaper’s prestigious Silver Knight competition.
After obtaining a degree in computers and electrical engineering at Princeton, Bezos was a highly sought-after recruit. Spurning several impressive offers, he chose a start-up headed by Columbia professors trying to build “a mini-Internet” for Wall Street investors, a full decade before the real Internet came into popular use. Despite enjoying rapid success in the new company, he yearned for his own enterprise and methodically searched for a business to launch on the World Wide Web. After deciding upon bookselling, he applied himself fanatically to his baby,
Brandt does a good job of weaving an upbeat and appealing narrative thread, making Bezos’ life and quest interesting and compelling. It’s not a lofty literary work, but an example of good long-form journalism. There are numerous interviews with key sources and though Bezos himself may not have provided the author with his own one-on-one, he’s spoken to the media enough times to generate a pool of quotes for Brandt to draw from, as needed.
Perhaps without intending to, Brandt presents a story that’s a classic American tale of tenacity and enterprise. Though not poor, Bezos’ journey, in its own way, is as inspiring as other archetypical American business and creative pioneers’ struggles. And like the Wright Brothers, might encourage other young entrepreneurs — or even nascent book reviewers.


Club Reviews: ONE CLICK

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A book about, a change agent for how we buy not only books but various other products too, is of timely interest.  This book, One Click, is well done and gives you the background into and how the true entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, did it and made it such a massive change agent. All it took was just one entrepreneur who recognized the impact that the Internet will have on consumers; that software has to be developed to make it easy for the customer to buy with just one click; and the attention to detail the site has to provide so the customer trusts this method of buying.
Beyond the technical, the book also spotlights the tenacity an entrepreneur needs to stick with it even when the so-called experts disapprove, and the insight needed to pick the right product to kick start this major change in buying, in this case, books.
As I have just this month published a book, Power Plug-In, all about energy sources and how to invest in them, much of One Click hit home to me.  It is a 'must read' for everyone for information on how the world is changing and how past business practices might not be of use any more.
To view a free sample chapter of Power Plug-In please visit
Gordon Ettie, Pinecrest, Florida

A fantastic biography of Jeff Bezos ( A man that should be in the class with Steve Job and Bill Gates. Technically he can compete with both of them and after his scientific schooling he worked in the financial field. Any other person would have been satisfied with the position that he held and the money he was making, but he had a dream of being an entrepreneur. He did research into every type of business and finally settled on selling books as the best way to build an empire.
Jeff Bezos spent time taking a class on operating a book store and visited many book stores. He figured that selling books on line, with the vast number that he could inventory on the internet, would be a successful venture. The story goes on to detail all of the things that he did. In particular how he raised money to start his business. Unfortunately it took many years to begin making a profit, but his financial backing stayed with him (he was a terrific sales person).
He developed the "one click" technique of ordering and had a monopoly on that patent. He developed all of the warehousing, shipping, ordering, controlling, etc. methods. He hired and fired people (some very intelligent people) like it was a fast food operation. He eventually got the best talent to work for him and built a very successful empire.
Enjoyable reading and a learning experience. Howard Elakman

One Click by Richard L. Brandt is a small book in size but it certainly is an illuminating and intriguing
book that tells the inside story of and its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. The book is packed full of information revealing the difficulties of working out the kinks of the internet and the competition in order to satisfy customers and make an eventual profit as well as expand beyond Bezos' initial ambition to become the world's largest book seller and  expand to become the electronic destination to sell many different products including shoes (Zappos). What an awakening! Here I thought was only a place to purchase books! Mr. Bezos continues to expand his business to pursue  his dream when he was a  valedictorian to provide a commercial enterprise for space tourists that many people can afford. Through his company Blue Origin his wish to create a comfortable,  affordable, safe and exciting service in space may just become a reality! He seems to be well on his way. Few executives seem to be able to follow his positive forward looking philosophy. Perhaps they fear the outcome!  Jeff Bezos certainly doesn't seem to fear anything!!! What a joy to read One Click! Margot Byrnes, Miami, Florida

Learned a lot about, but would have liked more depth on Jeff Bezos, the man.  Fast and interesting read – worthwhile summary of the era. Doramary Russell, Coral Springs, Florida

How can a book be both riveting and boring at the same time? While the information conveyed in one click is interesting – after all you’re talking about one of the greatest success stories of our time – the bland, yet breathless tone of the tale leaves me empty. It’s the hyperbole surrounding a simple subject, also the hallmark of Amazon’s success, which permeates this book. I enjoyed reading the information contained in this book. I just didn’t particularly enjoy the manner in which the story was told. As I read the book, I kept getting the feeling that the writing was formulaic (Begin with this type of sentence, proceed to description, finish with conclusion.”)
Still, it’s a simple, easy read as a way of learning something about the path to success of’s creator. What stands out in the story of an über-successful entrepreneur is that to be a successful entrepreneur means to have single-minded focus and be extremely flexible, and to know when to be which. The nuggets to be mined in this tale don’t require much of a stretch to get there. Anne Bloom, Davie
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end.  eff Bezos is a true entrepreneur.  I liked how he began by taking a course on how to sell books which included customer service.  This area is what makes him so big today with Amazon. His one aim is customer service and has stayed true to that. He built his customer base by selling at a loss but in the end it made him money. He had a great foresight to see what was happening and he joined in when he could and if he couldn't he would create his own. He knew what he wanted and he made sure he got it at whatever cost. He was an intelligent negotiator when he knew what he wanted at whatever cost. He built up his stock value doing just that. He had a high expectation of the type of employees he wanted to hire. I found that very interesting; they would have to provide their SAT scores along with their grade point average but still he had a vision and he made it happen. His business tactics were unusual but again, he made it happen. He played hard ball when he needed and most of the time he still came on top. When the big crash happened he lost a lot of money but he did not fold, he lost a lot but he had to make tough choices. The creation of Kindle was genius. With Apple and the iPad and iPhone he had to do something too and Kindle was it  He knew exactly what he wanted and again he made it happen. Patricia Garcia, Miami

When one reads Brandt’s book, it feels like sitting down with him in a Starbucks and hearing all the interesting stories he knows about Jeff Bezos and  Not all the stories show the positive side of Amazon and the book balances well with customer service problems and fights with publishers along with amazing innovation. The book flows logically and communicates stories extremely well in a conversational tone.  In addition to learning about how Amazon was created and grew, chapters on Bezo’s management style, impact of the Kindle on publishing and competing with bookstores are explored very competently and interestingly.  It is a book well worth reading especially if you are interested in the future of the bookstore and publishing. Randy B. Lichtman,  Miami, Florida

ONE CLICK was a bit disappointing.  I love Amazon, and thought this book would give an insider's view of how the company was born and grew.  Based on the cover of the book, one would think this was a book about Amazon.  But I guess you can't judge a book by its cover.  The book seems to be more of a compilation of news articles over the past 10 years.  Very little of what was in the book was new information that I already didn't know.
As far as the book being a biography about Jeff Bezos, it is lacking in that respect as well.  If the book would have been well written and insightful on Jeff Bezos the same way the STEVE JOBS biography by Walter Isaacson was, then it would have been a hit.  The problem is that this isn't really a biography on Jeff Bezos either.
This book is stuck somewhere halfway between a book about Amazon and a book about Jeff Bezos.  Unfortunately, it is very shallow on both of those subjects.  It lacks the appropriate amount a depth that should be given to each.
As far as the format of the book, the small size is easy to carry around with you to read.  It does however get a bit difficult to read about halfway through the book because the page size is small, margins are small, and typeface is small.
It is hard to recommend this book to others.  If you aren't interested in Amazon or Jeff Bezos, then you probably won't be interested in reading this.  If you are interested in Amazon or Jeff Bezos, then you probably already know 90% of the information in this book anyway. Frank Donn, Miami, FL

Richard Brandt paints an insightful and engaging account of one of today's most successful entrepreneur's. R. W. Groce, Miami

I don't know if this book really knows what it wants to be.  When I saw the size of the book, it made me think it could be no more than a cursory  look at Bezos and Amazon and, in many instances, it is.  It is not a biography.  It is not a company history, per se.  Overall, it is a moderately well-researched, passable overview (especially of the early years) of Jeff Bezos and
It felt throughout as if the author could not bring himself to be any more than begrudgingly complimentary of Bezos, his business and entrepreneurial acumen, and his management style.  The sucess of Amazon and Bezos's other ventures seem to grate on Brandt, as if he keeps searching for dirt but can't find exactly what he wants.  Ultimately, it appears Brandt is unable to decide whether Bezos is a genius or a ruthless businessman willing to kill his own creator to get ahead.  Why can't he be both?
I finished the book feeling like I had only touched on what makes Jeff Bezos tick, and what makes the Amazon story so compelling.  With just a little more effort, Brandt could have taken us much closer to finding the answers, rather than leaving the reader with more questions. Scott Rembold, Coral Gables, FL

I was so excited to be reading about my favorite shopping site, Amazon. Then the book arrived and it was so cute and compact.  I thought, "This will be great, a quick read, hold my attention..." As tiny as it is, it could be tinier. This story could be told over coffee, not a five course dinner!

Sorry, it's not that interesting. (I still love, though!) Good news for stock holders, I'll be using my Prime membership to buy another book tomorrow. Kelly Reid

Richard L Brandt has written a fantastic chronology of the phenomenon of on-line marketing as epitomized by the archetypal leader, Jeff Bezos, the founder of    For anybody interested in the delivery of knowledge, Bezos’s innovations, which he applied in the 1990’s, cannot be diminished.  Ideas like reader’s reviews, the marketing of a used-copies network, and technological developments like self publishing, are to his credit.  His contributions are a crucial piece of the puzzle, when we wonder what happened to Borders.
Besides retelling how the visionary accommodated and incorporated publishers and the associate suppliers;  this small book includes a discussion of the marketing and a customer service philosophy, a way of growing an original idea, in spite of the corporate competition from the giant bookstores.  There are lessons here about the venture capitalists, the ways of start-ups, and it is fascinating to see how Bezos’s intelligent team promoted online ordering through this process.  He originated the idea of customer feedback linkages, “others who purchased this book, also liked” and thereby created individualized demand, even while selling at a loss. Here was a new way of feeding publisher content, that  revolutionized the delivery of books, which others could only imitate. In the later chapters the author discusses the expansion of the Amazon trademark to other goods, clothes, industrial products and sports gear. In the last chapter there is a very interesting account of his strategy to make the Kindle, the trend setting eReader, a new delivery method of knowledge. I think it is worth the cost of the downloadable that yes, you can even get at the Miami Public library now, and then buy it if you like it. SO many good lessons here about marketing to consumers.
The jury is still out as to how the eBooks will impact formal education, with their cost savings and capacity for international knowledge exchange. But Jeff Bezos, the leader of this open-knowledge revolution, may get credit for having encouraged reading original sources again, including newspapers, and reclaiming access to full content, while giving customers what they want. And this quasi-history does him justice. The literary world is more accessible today than ever before and getting bigger.  Thanks to Jeff Bezos’s  inventions, his Kindle, his network  and his modification of the book supply chain while retaining individuality;  now great literature and some not so great literature is accessible like never before. Read this book and think about the impact of all the other markets of personal items, ideas and services, which Amazon has made possible.
You can take the book with you, its small size is as convenient as a Kindle.  Jim Swaner

An informative read.  The glowing, almost reverential tone perhaps contributes to the feeling of the “slogging” style and pace of the story.  Still worth the effort to learn more about the man who transformed not only the bookselling business but e-tailing in general. Zac Hall, Miami

Mr. Brandt has adequately forged the point of how Jeff Bezos and his bold actions brought success to selling items & competing with established booksellers and winning. Click, with its interesting story format and illustration, certainly gave me an insight on how knowing and focusing on what a consumer may want, can result in the probability of being  right in the formula for success. EJ "Henry" Ventura Jr., Coral Gables

I finished reach One Click.  Before reading this book I had some knowledge of the history of Amazon and of Jeff Bezos himself. This book definitely shed more light on how it all started and how much of a genius Jeff really is. I was certainly impressed by his hard decision to leave his high paying Wall Street job to follow his dream, this is something not many of us have the testicular fortitude to do.
The philosophy of Silicon Valley start-ups is quite interesting: the hire the best people, which are those who don't know that something "can't be done," and therefore will figure out how to do it.  I wish many other industries would apply this philosophy when they put together their teams. They hire people with tons of experience but who are also boggled down by conventional thinking, which in many cases prevents them from thinking outside the box and finding truly innovative solutions.
When analyzing decisions from now on I will forever remember Jeff's "regret minimization framework."  Which decision would he regret more if he made either one?  It's a nerdy way of looking at it but it totally works for me.
Overall I think this book is a nice read and it sheds light on one of the coolest and innovative online companies today and a true survivor of the dot-com boom. I would, however, enjoy it more if it had additional input from Jeff Bezos himself. Jeff is an innovator and the book on his life is yet to be written because the best is yet to come. David Mesas

At first glance "One Click" seemed like just another book about some nerdy guy that started an Internet business and got lucky when it took off. The more I read, the more interested I became in Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. The story that best illustrates his quirkiness and strategic approach to life was the criteria he used to select a mate: "She has to be someone who is resourceful enough to get me out of a third-world prison."  That says more about him and his values than anything else in the book.
Author Richard Brandt does not make Bezos sound like a very nice person. In fact, it's difficult to get a sense of Bezos' personality because of Brandt's journalistic style. Most of the people who knew the subject in his early years don't remember much about him. The author falls short of calling him a narcissist, but lets the reader know that Bezos had a single-minded purpose (an obsession?) in creating and would definitely not be considered a "people person."  The description of his youth and the fact that his grandfather worked for DARPA made this reader think that some people are just genetically destined to affect change and are born in just the right place and at precisely the right time. This certainly seems to be the case with Jeff Bezos. I came away from "One Click" admiring Jeff Bezos, but not feeling much affection toward him. Somehow I don't think he would care. Kathy D. Doran, Miami Beach


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