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July 1, 2004

News & Opinion: Not So Good

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 12:42 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

At 800-CEO-READ, we see a lot of books. We don't hesitate to talk about the good ones. The trick is what to do about the others.
I got an email last week highlighting PR for an imprint and saw the book Winning the NFL Way: Leadership Lessons from Football's Top Head Coaches by Bob LaMonte. I love professional football and was immediately attracted to the title. The book description explained the author had talked with coaches like Mike Holmgren and Mike Sherman to learn what made them successful. As a life-long Packers fan, my expectations were getting pretty high. I immediately requested a review copy.
I started into the book over the weekend. The first warning sign was when I read the back cover and found Bob LaMonte was the agent for the coaches he interviewed. LaMonte tells story after story about his clients, and while the stories are mildly interesting they don't seem to go together.
What really got my goat was some of the arrogance and ignorance in the book. Early in the book, he talks about the importance of good interviews in becoming an NFL coach. He also talks about how he has been very successful at placing his clients. He then says, "Because it is proprietary information for the exclusive use of my clients, I can't go into specific details." What!? I read this book to find out what made these coaches successful, but part of their success is "proprietary".
This was it though. I am going to quote a paragraph from the book in its entirety to be fair:
Due to its size, Green Bay is unique among cities with major league teams. Sure, there are fanatics wherever sports are played. But nothing matches how the entire community gets behind the Packers in this Midwest community. Certainly, much of the fervor has to do with the fact that the Packers are the only game in town. Without its football franchise, Green Bay is just another Great Lakes port where the local citizenry packs and ships meat. It's unlikely that the local chamber of commerce could drum up much civic pride by presenting itself as a meatpacking center. The Packers, however, are an entirely other story. The team puts Green Bay on the map. Big-time. Remember too that the Packers are no ordinary NFL team. In October 2002, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive named the Packers as America's favorite football team, replacing the Dallas Cowboys, which had held the title for nine consecutive years. In its February 3, 2003 issue ESPN, The Magazine named the Packers as the best franchise among the 121 teams in the four major sports.

While there are a lot of nice things said about the Packers, the city of Green Bay takes a beating. "[J]ust another Great Lakes port where the local citizenry packs and ships meat" - What?! Of the employable workforce of 142,380, 120 people are employed as butchers and meat cutters in Green Bay (according to the U.S. Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics). If you knew anything about Green Bay, I don't know how you could come up with that comment.
So, I think you know where I stand on the book. I would pass on this one.