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