Talented people are the engines that power companies forward, argues human resources consultant Ruyle (FYI for Insight, 2010, etc.). While Ruyle’s ideas on talent management aren’t new, he conveys them in a novel way: The book takes the form of a fictionalized journal written by “Jack,” an engineer-turned-businessman who just reaped a $70 million windfall from selling his stake in a composite parts manufacturing firm. Jack finds himself a reluctant passenger on a Caribbean cruise, so he uses the time to reflect on lessons he’s learned during his career. With an irreverent wit and no-nonsense practicality, Jack outlines the approach his company used to get the most from his employees. The journal presents a complete, interconnected system of talent management, from recruiting new employees to strategically deploying deep experts. Much-debated subjects such as “onboarding” and “succession-planning” are broken down into easy-to-follow lists, offering managers a template that can be tailored to their organizations. Sprinkled throughout the text are insights into the psychology behind human performance. Here, the book shines because these factors are often overlooked. Jack contends that “learning agility”—the willingness and ability to apply what is learned in one situation to another—is the “single most powerful predictor of success” for aspiring managers. Jack is really a composite of several executives whom Ruyle has encountered, so he has an enviable—some might say impossible—amount of leadership acumen. More could have been included about the onerous side of management, such as motivating and disciplining underperforming employees. While it can be classified under the heading of “Human Resources,” the book also says much about the role of a leader. Jack argues it’s the job of the CEO to spur innovation by creating an environment where employees can thrive. Talent is a source of competitive advantage too important to ignore. Best practices shared via a catchy narrative, making for an indispensable guide for leaders who want to play the game and win.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)