How To Be A Fierce Competitor By Jeffrey J. Fox – Book Review


“What Winning Companies and Great Managers Do in Tough Times”, is the tagline of Jeffery J. Fox’s book entitled “How To Be A Fierce Competitor.” As you can probably gather just from the title, this book is rather feisty. It’s all about how to be the #1 company anyone has ever had the pleasure to do business with. I’ll tell you all about this book and give you my recommendation in just a bit, though I first have to answer this question: “Peter, why are you reviewing this book?”

The answer is simple and in two parts: a) the book is a good book and b) Mr. Fox himself sent me a autographed edition! That .. and I also promised to review it a while back. Here is the article I wrote up about the super, awesome, synergistic signed copy:

So let’s get down right into it.

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Fail! Inorder to Succeed

note: link to full image download is at the bottom of the post!

Remember when you were a young kid just learning to ride a bicycle? First you had had training wheels, then your parents where beside you balancing you and only then you rode on your own. But let me ask you this: How many times did you fail at riding a bike, until you actually succeeded?

My guess is more times than anyone is willing to count. Or how about how many times it took good ol Thomas Edison to get the light bulb right? 10,000 or so times was it? And as he proclaimed some time after this perfect: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Without his determination and focus on the matter, we wouldn’t have the light bulb or anything luxurious which his inventions eventually allowed us to bring into your lives.

This topic has been written about more times than I can count. It was written in Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, and just about any self-help book you’ll ever come across. Heck, even Rich Dad, Poor Dad banged it into our heads!

No matter what you do in life whether it’s a setting up mutli-million dollar joint ventures, riding a bike or even a relationship you will probably fail at something at some point. Get over it. The best life lessons are learned, and remembered, from the School Of Hard Knocks.

Life’s well taught lessons are also always learned best first hand, but it never hurts to get a first motivation push to start something than with a story. This is my personal story of the panoramic image above, and all the grief, time and trouble it gave me and the feelings of success once I had it finished!

Over the summer I visited the wonderful island of Bali. Being a photography nut I took pictures of every nick, nook, cranny, dust ball, rock, tree, statue, person and view that I found interesting. Suffice it to say, by the end of the trip I had to get a brand new spare external hard drive just to fit all the raw files! Yikes! Though one view was always stunning to me and each and every morning I was in awe of it.

My penthouse room overlooked a calm and serene rice field. The rice stalks swayed and danced with every breath of air. Each second I gazed upon it gave me a sense of peace, serenity and zen. I truly have never been calmer in my life while looking at the rice field. Any movie you watch, any picture  you see or description you read will never do such a view justice.

Well, being a photographer I had no choice but to capture it’s majesty as best I could. So every time I had some ‘free’ time on my vacation there, I would head on over to the gazebo, sit and gaze upon the rice field pondering it’s beauty. Only then attempting to photography it. Took me several weeks trying and hundreds of photographs to set it up right.

In the end, frustrated that I wasn’t able to capture the serene essence of the view I took what I considered to be my best set and worked with that. Though, this being Bali it’s hard to find a place with no people or any ‘busyness’ going on. The rice field always had some rice workers roaming through it or cows/bulls munching on the grass/rice/weeds/whatever. So I knew that even this was my best set (or so it seems so on the camera) it would still require a little bit of touching up.

So I load up the images onto my computer and what do I discover? Each and every image is out of focus! After all that time and things still weren’t right! At this point I was about to give up because I’ve tried so many times to get the angle right, focusing, light conditions, people … ect … I really wanted to throw in the towel. But no.

I messed up so much that I now knew exactly where to position my camera for the best view, when in the day to take the shot so there are the least amount of people, who to get the stalks just right in the wind and everything. So I took my trusty camera, headed out to the ledge, in slight anger made 100% sure that the lens was on auto, and everything was getting focuses. A minute later I was back in the room with about 10 panoramic shots ready to be hopefully stitched together.

After downloading the 10 images, I noticed 8 out of 10 there perfectly in focus and for some reason 2/10 were slightly out of focus. But oh well I thought. That’s why sharpening correcting tools are for!

Thus I spent the next week of free time editing 10 raw images to what seemed like perfection for stitching. And mind you, each and every time I’m thinking this isn’t worth it at all! If you saw the original images you’d think the same thing!

Well, after stitching them together I noticed nothing that I really didn’t notice before: the full stitched image was butt ugly! Why?

1) Too busy

2) Bad coloring (overall)

3) Parts of the view which seemed like a good idea at the time looked just horrid in the picture

4) The difference in sharpness really stood out

But guess what? I didn’t give up! I worked hard on it and getting this image right I wasn’t about to give up! What did I do? I went make to the raw files, sharpened up the bad images just a bit and gave each image the same color profile.

Then i re-stitched everything. Cropped out the ugly parts and then there was the case of it being a very busy image. I wanted a ‘zen’ type image. So after an hour or two of work I ‘fixed’ it :)

I removed all the ugly parts and made it very un-busy and serene.

Well ladies and gentleman. After all my hard work I had an image I would be very proud to put up on the wall and sell as a professional photograph. Behold, my lovely creation: Peace At The Rice Fields (click the link to view the full image).

How To Get To The Top By Jeffrey J. Fox – Book Review

How To Get To The Top: Business Lessons Learned At The Dinner Table” by Jeffrey J. Fox is a rather interesting book to read and not what I expected (in a good way). I’ve read my fair share of books like this, some better some worse and this book started out rather grim. I don’t mean the tone of the book, I mean my impression of it.

At the book store, I quickly thumbed through it and thought it would be like most other books: learn by a nice long story with connected examples. What caught me off guard with this book is that it is actually a collection of short stories, about 1-3 pages max, which an idea embedded in each one.

There are exactly 50 short stories in the book with a wide range of topics. All related to business and business etiquette and each one with a good tip in mind. For example one of my favorite chapters, chapter 38 “Don’t Teach the Quarterback To Catch”, gives a great business example through the short story of football and a quarterback. This of course means American Football, so the quarterback really has one job and one job only: throw the good ol’ pig skin. Nothing more, nothing less. Does it matter that your favorite team’s QB can’t catch even if his life depended on it nor can he tackle anyone? No. He has one job and be better do that job extremely well: throw the football.

Click here to order the book now.

No where in the USA, unless you have a bad couch, will you see QB’s being taught a whole range of techniques and whatnots. They are only trained to throw as accurately as humanly possible and as far. So in business, why waste your time, your business time and resources and your employee’s time by “working to improve their weaknesses”. As Jeffrey J. Fox writes:

Weaknesses are too often seen as problems to solve. Many managers believe they exist to solve problems, thus they work on weaknesses. So helping the brilliant but brusque engineer better “relate” to her associates is a typical management diversion. Forget about it. If she can’t relate, but she can invent and design, hide her someplace where she can pound out inventions and designs.

Why waste time on the bad? Make the good, great! Turn great into excellence and excellence into perfection. Working on your weaknesses is good, but for business it’s best to work on your employees strengths. Supplement and work around their weaknesses. You’ll profit greatly from that.

There IS a reason there are secretaries, and the like, in the world. To help you hire out the bad parts to someone/some-company who knows and can do what you can’t do!

How To Get To The Top: Business Lessons Learned At The Dinner Table” by Jeffrey J. Fox is a well written collection of business short stories. The writing is easy to understand and the stories rather insightful. I think it could have been written a bit better and worded differently in a few places, but in general I rather enjoyed this book. I’m no master business guru, and even though I have read and experienced enough business there was still a good amount to learn from it. Some things were “well DUH!’ type stories, though when you examine your life and work place you’ll see A LOT of these stories points. You will start seeing more and more ways you, your business and workplace could improve just by reading this book.

Though I liked this book, it give me a sense that this book was a bit … childish? I don’t know if that’s the right word. It’s well written and easy to understand; it’s messages are crisp and clear. I think that might be the problem: it isn’t written at a higher level. I’m 100% sure it’s written simple on purpose, but I would have enjoyed it if it were in a more professional tone. Since this book is written for business people in mind (I think), it ‘should’ have been in a more professional voice. Just my two cents.

Overall I highly recommend this book to anyone in business, heck … even for everyday life. It has great tips, fun stories and gives you plenty of think about. I’d consider this book a mix of Think & Grow Rich and How To Win Friends And Influence People (both worth a good listen or read by the way!).

It’s not an expansive book at all so I believe it’ll make a great add to your book collection, only $14 bucks or so. You can buy it through amazon below. I highly recommend you check it out.

Click here to order the book now.

Check out his other great works which are WELL worth the read:

Love Conqueres All! No, Really … It Does.

When I say love, I don’t mean the mushy, icky type. I mean the burning passion type! We all know of the stereotypical movie scene where the hero jumps into harms way just to save the damsel in distress … well it’s that type of passion and love we need not just for ourselves, our jobs or others but as well for everything thing we do in life.

On a wonderful article on entitled “Commitment Turns Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping Stones” John Erdman put it down nicely for us:

To become successful it is necessary to be committed to yourself, your ideas, your desires and your goals.  The word commitment strikes fear in the hearts of many people, but commitment is as simple as setting goals and action plans.

Goal setting to most people is a chore they do only on a small scale, if at all.  To most people, goals are something they talk about but seldom have in a concrete form.  When you have well defined goals, you know where you are going and how to get there.  I define this as Commitment.  To establish the road map to achieve your real potential you must have written goals and desires.  Remember if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Many people go around complaining that life “isn’t working out for them” or that life isn’t “fair” or even that “life has it out for them.” People make up a lot of excuses to not get their life in order, but really does not take much to get a lot out of life. What most people are missing is desire and a definite goal in life.

In Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (a book everyone should read and study like a bible …), a whole chapter (chapter 2) is devoted to the one subject of desire! Why? Because it is the primary driving force in practically everyone. Bill Gates, for example, did not become rich and famous simply because he had a good idea. Many people have good ideas. But unless there is a burning passion to fuel that goal or aim “ya ain’t goin no-where”. Continue reading