The Advancing Leadership Blog

May 2014 #Shelfie

Vancouver TEC Chair, Bob Sinclair, is our next contributor to the #shelfie series and shares reading recommendations from his bookshelf that inspire him as a business leader and mentor. Share your own #shelfie with us on Twitter @TECCanada

Start with Why– by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek spoke to the Vistage International conference in 2013 and since that time I have used his model of the “Golden Circle” with many of my TEC members and their companies. This model forms the basis of his premise that “people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”. The Golden Circle discusses the differences between What, How, and Why we do things the way we do and how we might rephrase that to “Why we do them and why would our customers want to buy our products or services?”

Sinek uses the premise that “any person or organisation can explain what they do, some can explain how they are different or better, but very few can clearly articulate why”. He rationalises that if we are able to understand why our customers buy our products and services, then we can begin to understand how we can address and fill those needs. We don’t create the needs of our customers – we need to understand, meet and fill them.

A great example of this is demonstrated in this book by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous “I have a dream” speech. Sinek discusses how Dr. King understood the “Why”. He discusses the what and the how but his secret was why the masses were reacting the way that they were and his words “I believe, I believe, I believe”. Dr. King spoke of having a dream and as Sinek points out he didn’t say “I have a plan”.

I am finding that this book and its theme of “Why” is becoming almost as referenced as Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”. If you are in business and haven’t yet read it you should. Its theme is important and helps significantly in setting strategy and vision as well as laying a path to improved business performance.


Relevant Selling – by Jaynie Smith

Master and author of “Creating Competitive Advantage”, Jaynie Smith has now published a sequel to her first book and in this volume she explains how to take those competitive advantages and sell what is relevant to your customers. She describes the typical failing alignment, when our clients don’t understand what it is that is important and relevant to them and in these instances, how “price trumps value if you don’t know how your customers define value”. Smith discusses the impact of “irrelevant versus relevant selling”, the impact on your customers and then logically, your customers’ reaction and potential loss of sales.

This is a very easy read and great reference book, as at the end of each chapter she gives a one or two page summary and what you need to know and take away. Smith refers to PRICE as a dirty word and asks the question “if you have to remove that from the buying criteria what would be next?”

In both of her books Smith uses real life examples of clients and other businesses that have practiced her approach to selling, what has worked and what has not. This is a valuable book, a quick read but with important advice for any business that has to sell their wares.


Activate your power – by Eitan Sharir

“The point is not what you have but what you do with what you have”. Eitan is a TEC speaker and takes culture through from a corporate level to the individuals that work there. In this book he makes a fascinating and great argument for character type, “who we show up as every day”.  He does this through breaking down styles into what he refers to as either “horizontal ego” and “vertical authentic self” and considers them as “power and choices” and “awakening the power that lies within us to achieve a more meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling life – life at home, life at work, and life in general”.

One of my TEC members has had Eitan work with his company and executive team, with results which are quite amazing providing new alignment and a resulting corporate culture that has resulted in a tighter culture throughout the organisation and double digit growth in both top and bottom lines of their financial statements.  In this book he outlines the approach that he takes and through his work he proves the validity of his theories and direction required to reach those heights.

The book is highlighted with an array of quotes underscoring the points being made, one if which I found particularly revealing by Ralph Waldo Emerson “Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission”.  Now there is something to chew on!


“Bordeaux / Burgundy – a Vintage Rivalry” – by Jean- Robert Pitte

In terms of pure volume France is the world’s third largest wine producing country behind Italy and Spain and within that country it is divided in to numerous wine growing regions, many of which are famous and soon recognised by anyone who has spent any time comparing and appreciating their diversities.

As a lover of wines, particularly French wines, I have often been in discussions of the merits of Burgundy versus Bordeaux – two of possibly the most renowned wine producing regions of France. This is a fascinating history of the wines of both regions as well as their origins of grape growing in each.

This discussion (argument) is ever persistent amongst the French themselves and each believes their particular region to be superior. There are wonderful anecdotes in this book with fighting words as they proudly compare their one region with the other and are never shy to harshly put down the other.

A quote by a certain Philippe Sollers sets to amplify this battle “True wine only exists in Bordeaux. I would like to make it clear that wine not from Bordeaux is a false wine….Of course there is Burgundy….It isn’t by chance that one says “beef bourguignon” for the wine accompanying it is indistinguishable from the sauce”. A cheeky sample of the rhetoric in the book.

Wine producing  in France goes back many centuries and this book makes marvelous reference to the similarities and differences to the regions through anecdotal reference how these two giants of production view themselves and their ongoing competition between each other. The complexity of the regions just makes this contest even more interesting and difficult to judge. In Burgundy alone there are more than one hundred different “appellations” (wine growing districts) and within each of those there are many, many different producers each with their own distinct structure and taste of their proud wines.  “One region in Burgundy the Clos Vougeot, consists of some ninty parcels devided among eighty different owners”.

This is a fascinating and most enjoyable read, mixing history over many hundreds of years, wonderful anecdotes, and a rivalry that covers multiple generations and of course the debate that I don’t think is really resolved and probably shouldn’t be, as it provides endless discussion and debate which in the end I believe admits to a draw, although there are probably few French that would ever admit to this.

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