December 23, 2004

News & Opinion: Todd's 2004 Picks

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 3:00 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

You have heard from all of the experts in the media and the blogosphere. Jack has given you some of his picks. Now, it is my turn.

There were a lot of books I liked this year, but only two that I loved and would tell all of you to go read right now.

The first is Karaoke Capitalism by Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström. The authors teach at the Stockholm School of Economics and they have lots to say. They say in the introduction that they used 5000 Post-It Notes in creation of the book. What I like about the book is that it is written from a European perspective, almost outsiders' perspective. They have a different view of the world than we do, and I think it is worth listening to. Again from the intro:

"Hard times if you the courage to think the unthinkable," says Intel chairman Andy Grove. Now, the unthinkable is on the verge of becoming probable. Just consider the following signs of our times:
  • The best rapper is white
  • The best golfer is black
  • France accuses the US of arrogance
  • Denmark sends a mini-submarine to a desert war

This book is not a how-to book. It is a book about how individuals have endless choice, how everyone in doing business the same way, and the importance of being different.

The second you should go read right now is Partnership Charter by David Gage. These three facts shifted my paradigm about partnerships:

  1. Researchers from the Center for Study of Entrepreneurship at Marquette University investigated a sample of nearly two thousand companies and categorized the top performers as 'hypergrowth' companies and those at the bottom as low growth companies. Solo entrepreneurs founded only 6% of the 'hypergrowth' companies. Partners founded a whopping 94%, and many of those had three or more founders.
  2. In a poll taken a few years ago, Inc. asked businesspeople if they thought partnerships were a bad idea. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were. When asked why, the majority said they disliked co-ownership because of the partners' 'inevitable conflicts' and 'unmet expectations'.
  3. Business school could teach students how to minimize the risk of partner disputes, but they do not. They are schools of business administration. They teach students how to run large companies. Although they have started to do a better job of teaching students how to be entrepreneurial , they teach next to nothing about how to be a partner...Because most business schools' graduates who start their own businesses will have real partners some day, the school's neglect is hard to fathom. But business schools are not the only schools with this gap in their curriculum. Medical schools train physicians without regard to the fact that the vast majority of their graduates will have to struggle sooner or later with partners. The same is true of other professional schools.

Gage goes on to tell you all the things to consider when entering into a partnership, especially the part about when people want to get out.

I know you are going to say that reading about partnerships is really boring. It's not.