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March 23, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Use What You've Got

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 4:33 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Use What Youve Got: and Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom by Barbara Corcoran and Bruce Littlefield, Portfolio, February 2003, 250 Pages, $24.95 Hardcover, ISBN 1591840023
What makes a good business book? It really isnt that hard. An authors goal should be two-fold: teach the reader something new (or at least revisit something worth revisiting) and make it enjoyable. Ta da! A very simple recipe for success. Of course, one persons gourmet dinner is another persons Old Country Buffet. But sometimes the choice is simple, and if youre in sales or just enjoy reading business success stories, I suggest ordering Use What Youve Got as your first course.
Barbara Corcoran is the founder of The Corcoran Group, a substantial real estate company in NYC. Now why would we peons west of the Hudson River care about what the doyen of NYC real estate has to say? Simple: because she has interesting stores to tell and many weighty points to make, all presented with flair and humor. She structures the book based on twenty-five how-tos, or Moms Lessons for getting ahead in business. Your jaw will drop at #1: If you dont have big breasts, wear ribbons in your pig tails. I mean, how much more universal can a subject be? (Okay, men, get creative here). Seriously though, underlying this very descriptive statement, Corcoran is instructing us how and why we should focus on the positive, a key aspect of success.
The layout of the chapters is also fun and the content enlightening. Corcoran begins each with a chronological story around the growth of her business, fleshing out a challenge she faced during the conception, birth, growth or maturity phases of her company. She then reflects back on her childhood, to a time when her mother (also featuring appearances by her nine brothers and sisters and her father) solved a similar, albeit familial, problem. This memory serves as a solution template that she then applies to her current situation. These applications are often funny and heartwarming, but always right on the money. She ends each chapter with a recap, often bullet-pointing the action steps you need to take to accomplish these lessons.
In case you think this sounds like a book with more fluff than foundation, a section that is well worth the cover charge is grafted to the end of the book. Titled, Bonus Manual: What I Wish Every Salesperson Knew, this section includes the warning: If you dont want to make a million dollars in sales, dont read this and contains down-to-earth, nitty-gritty advice for succeeding in sales. As with gourmet dining, presentation is important, but the quality of the ingredients is essential. I rate Use What Youve Got a 5-star success.