Linchpin was written by marketing expert Seth Godin, who believes that finding career success today depends on learning how to market one’s self. Linchpins are an upcoming role in the world of tech, start-ups and the age of entrepreneurship. The linchpins are those that come up with new solutions, break the mold, and foster creativity in companies. Linchpin is about learning how to break out of the systemic roles traditionally in the workplace and implement new ideas where you work. Often, the linchpins are the indispensable people in the background, empowering others, but staying out of the spotlight. They often have a less specific role in the company, but rather focus on specific needs as the work scape morphs and changes. Godin believes everyone has something brilliant to offer, and being able to harness that brilliance and bring it to the workplace can equal success and happiness.
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell is an in depth look at how ideas get made into wildly popular companies, books or trends. Everything from television shows to teen smoking, popularity of ideas is modeled like an epidemic. There are carriers, those that evangelize the idea and get people excited about it. Malcolm Gladwell explains that there are three types of people involved in spreading an idea: connectors, mavens and salespeople. Connectors are people with a wide social network that are good at creating communities to rally for the concept. Mavens are knowledgeable experts that enjoy educating the public on their area of expertise. Salespeople are gifted at drumming up excitement for new things.
Lincoln by David Herbert covers the life of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln was raised in rural Indiana in a poor household. The book follows Lincoln’s perspective as he picked himself up through poverty and through political savvy made his way into prominence quickly. The book examines his character, his key advisors, and reveals his human flaws as well as his greatness. Biographies and autobiographies are excellent sources of inspiration for anyone looking to achieve professional goals. Lincoln is an especially beloved figure for Americans because he was raised in poverty and came from a disadvantage to well educated men raised in wealthy homes in cities.
Competitive Advantage is a model for creating and managing an enterprise successfully. Porter offers tools for analysis that are taught in MBA programs around the country. Michael Porter is a professor at Harvard Business School, and lectures and writes prolifically on managing a business. Tactics such as the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis teaches critical thinking that is crucial to successfully leading a company. Porter also discusses strategy at length, and helps businesses to either produce a scale economy or define a niche that will keep them profitable.
Onward is the story of how Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz turned Starbucks around after a downturn in financial performance. Schultz explains that while the recession definitely had an impact in the loss in profits for the massive international coffee and specialty company, the biggest factor was a shift in company culture. Onward explains Shultz’ decision to return to the CEO position after a departure to implement a hands on strategy to bring his company to its most profitable year ever. Between 2008 and 2011, Starbucks was able to find its way again and Schultz continues to lead it to record profits every year.
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