“Street Smart — Adventures on the Road and in the Markets,” by Jim Rogers (Crown, 2013).
This is a hummer, a fun read. Jim Rogers is of course the enfant terrible of Wall Street, a commodities bull, the former partner of George Soros and a fellow who rode around the world on a motorcycle in a learning adventure.
Famously, Rogers moved a few years ago to Singapore with his wife and daughters. Both daughters have learned Mandarin and are reportedly getting a terrific education. This all because the author feels the future of the world is an Asian future. That may be so, but in its incredible growth during the last three or so decades, Asia also has developed a voracious appetite for commodities, and Jim Rogers is the commodities man. Reading this book will bring you great insight into the world of commodities, now an even more important part of the investment portfolio world.
In the book, I learned that Jim Rogers interned for a firm in NYC for which I, in the early ’70s, did a small piece of consulting work. It is a small world.
Rogers’ brain is in the on position all the time: “If North and South Korea unite, Japan will be faced with a huge new competitor, much more powerful a competitor than South Korea is now. […] Among other things, the Japanese do not have a lot of cheap labor anymore.”
If you are interested in enlightened and enlightening discourses on a wide range of worldwide general and investing ideas, “Street Smarts” will be your cup of tea. You may not agree with everything Mr. Commodities says, but the ride will be great fun.
“Smart Leaders Smarter Teams — How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results,” by Roger Schwarz (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2013).
Schwarz works with organizations ranging from the American Red Cross to Hewlett Packard; even the U.S. Department of the Interior. He’s the father of the mutual learning, a leadership technique that works to avoid the prevalent mindset of unilateral control. Unilateral control (one of the problems is the very word control) is an approach used, in my experience, by most business leaders. In unilateral control, the idea is designing behavior based on:
- Win, don’t lose.
- Be right.
- Minimize expression of negative feelings.
- Act rational.
Look or sound familiar? Schwarz does not believe that unilateral control gets the job done. In other words, the unilateral mindset CEO or leader says to the team: “I am right; you are wrong” and “I will win.” Not much of an advertisement for team building, is it?
Do financial planners have teams? You bet. Whether your financial planning team is made up of two people or 100, the concept of mutual learning is going to change everything. I promise you absolutely that members of my team know lots more than I do about many of the daily activities of our business model. Don’t yours?
The truth is often different than we think. If you, as a team leader, adopt mutual learning, the truth will set you free. Schwarz even covers email, best practices and generally unsticking many of the things that keep us from growing and improving our practices. This is a valuable book, one that will help you think deeply about leadership and teamwork. It’s an eye-opener.
“Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success — Connect with Customers and Get Results,” by Colleen Stanley (AMACOM, 2013).
Author Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc. a consulting firm specializing in emotional intelligence and consultative sales skills training.
First, know this — we are all sales people. I don’t care whether you call yourself a physician, a financial planner or the mayor of Tucumcari. We “sell” every day.
Briefly, a few years back, I had a partner who could never understand why prospects almost automatically on the first visit accepted me and transferred assets to my care within minutes, hours or a few days. I told him that it had little to do with selling — the selling was getting them to visit. If they visited, my assumptions were: