The occasional distractions of pop-business cheerleading notwithstanding, if the book evokes a few creative ideas, it will...

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BRAINSTEERING

A BETTER APPROACH TO BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS

Why think outside the box? Write business consultants Coyne and Coyne, “the key is to find just the right box in which to think.”

Readers may not have known that a famed Broadway producer, responsible for such hits as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, was also the father of the corn maze, an idea whose time, it seems, had come when he hit on it back in the ’90s. Corn mazes are now a big draw in some parts of the country, though the authors must be using faulty stats to set the number of visitors at twice that of the Grand Canyon. Why couldn’t we think of that contribution to American civilization? We can, write the authors—it’s mostly a matter of learning how to ask lots of questions that might generate the desired answer, which presumably is to hit it rich, in the manner of the “Z-1-4” (“zero to $1 billion within 4 years”) businesses they profile here. Enter “Brainsteering,” a gimmicky but, at least on the face, effective method for “consistently generating breakthrough ideas.” It would steal the authors’ thunder to describe this method too closely, but let’s take, for instance, their thoroughly useful series of questions meant to help pick out a welcome gift for the person who may have everything: “What was their favorite toy, hobby, or activity during the period of their life on which they look back most fondly?” “What event or accomplishment in their life are they most proud of”? The authors pepper their narrative with such idea-sparkers, with an appendix that is worth the cover price, and introduce acronym-tagged concepts that seem as if they ought to bear fruit, as with the notion of a “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive” system of investigation.

The occasional distractions of pop-business cheerleading notwithstanding, if the book evokes a few creative ideas, it will have done good service.

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-200619-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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A probing study of a scandal that spread even deeper than the standard histories claim—and one that has plenty of lessons...

THE TEAPOT DOME SCANDAL

HOW BIG OIL BOUGHT THE HARDING WHITE HOUSE AND TRIED TO STEAL THE COUNTRY

If corruption is what you want, put someone with strong ties to the oil industry in the White House.

So we learn from business journalist McCartney (Across the Great Divide: Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail, 2004, etc.) in this lucid account of the Teapot Dome scandal. At its root was Warren G. Harding, the Ohio senator who was a 40-1 shot to gain the Republican nomination for the presidency for 1920 until he secured the backing of Jake Hamon, Harry F. Sinclair, Edward Doheny and other oil titans. The trade-off was that Hamon was to become secretary of the interior and be given control of the Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming, “an oil supply potentially worth several hundred million dollars—1920 dollars—a bonanza so rich that it was almost beyond comprehension.” Hamon’s wife shot and killed him before the deal could go through, but before he died Hamon sent a sealed note to Harding with orders to “get some of his friends taken care of.” The oilmen got their way with a longtime New Mexico senator named Albert Fall, hard-drinking and murderous, who had fallen on hard times and seemed in danger of losing his huge ranch holdings. No sooner was Fall installed than his money problems disappeared, the dollars flowing into his bank accounts and those of other prominent Republicans as the oil flowed out of Teapot Dome. By way of thanks, Sinclair gained access to two million barrels of public-domain oil per year, on which Harding signed off in a letter to Fall: “I am confident you have adopted the correct policy and will carry it through in a way altogether to be approved.” Of course, when all this backdoor dealing was exposed, approval was not forthcoming. Sinclair thundered that he was too rich to be jailed. He was wrong, but many others walked.

A probing study of a scandal that spread even deeper than the standard histories claim—and one that has plenty of lessons for today.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6316-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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Shows considerable knowledge of the IT space along with a keen understanding of how to sell complex products.

Marbles In Your Pipe

A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SALES AND MARKETING IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

A valuable, highly specialized guidebook for salespeople who concentrate on information technology.

While the basics of sales apply across all business types, a salesperson needs in-depth understanding of the attributes and lingo when selling in a specific industry. Information technology is one of those peculiar fields that’s both an industry itself and a function within virtually every type of company, which makes selling to IT even more complex. Noble’s book, first published in 2010 and updated in 2015, is a valiant effort to clarify, if not simplify, IT selling. Blending his knowledge of both IT business and sales practices, the author shares details about numerous topics, including types of IT companies, budget cycles, how to analyze a prospective client’s website, making proposals, and the service level agreement, a type of specialized contract unique to technology providers. One of the strongest aspects of the book is its explanation of terminology; IT has its own language, and Noble painstakingly provides definitions for most every key term. Just as valuable are the author’s observations about prospecting. The chapter, “Prospecting for New Clients,” for example, sets out a simple yet comprehensive sales process and includes examples of actual dialogue to use in conversing with a prospective client. Noble endorses a “5-3-2-1” strategy: “Visit 5 clients a day, 3 must be new clients, 2 must be previous clients, Receive 1 order per day.” (Prospects, by the way, are the “marbles in your pipe” referenced in the book’s title.) Despite its overall value, the book suffers somewhat from a lack of objectivity due to a protracted sales pitch for anti-virus products from Kaspersky Labs, as seen in, among other sections, a good portion of the chapter on reselling. In addition, the writing is occasionally amateurish and repetitious: “Some proposals I have created in a few hours….In the next section I have presented a sample proposal which I put together for school a good number of years ago. This proposal took me an entire week to design, if I remember correctly.” Still, this roughness around the edges fails to diminish the book’s pertinence for IT salespeople, and it’s worth reading for anyone in, or interested in, IT sales.

Shows considerable knowledge of the IT space along with a keen understanding of how to sell complex products.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-45-027446-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2015

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