Trying to succeed in the struggle for global talent without first arming your company with knowledge is like driving across a continent without the aid of a map. You might reach your destination but the road could equally lead to disaster. Thankfully, award-winning talent strategist and leadership coach Gyan Nagpal offers a GPS-guided tour of the global talent battlefield in his new book Talent Economics: The Fine Line Between Winning and Losing the Global War for Talent. Nagpal’s surprising book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.
Nagpal admits he is deeply invested in researching and understanding the changes to talent around the globe. He has spent more than a decade helping organizations build their businesses in a number of regions, particularly the Asia Pacific. What Nagpal has observed is three common strategies used by international businesses which he refers to as cost play, product play and market play. Executives will be surprised to learn which of the three offers what Nagpal describes as “the greatest commitment to building a truly global organization.”
Talent Economics defines the new landscape of the conflict for global talent. From this launching pad, Nagpal delivers page after page of detailed takeaways. Executives will receive a set of eight insights that help to unlock macro talent economics. As business march toward the year 2020, Nagpal describes seven indispensable practices to manage the 21st century employee. He also provides a layered, three-step approach for talent strategy.
With Talent Economics, Nagpal joins the ranks of Ram Charan and the authors of Winning with Transglobal Leadership, as go-to knowledge leaders for businesses looking to increase their presence in an ever-changing global economy.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
Who Has the Real Advantage?
Launched by his bestseller, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell is a nonfiction superstar, and with good reason. As his latest book, David and Goliath, proves, Gladwell keeps surprising us with new revelations about how the world really works. In David and Goliath, he destroys an assumption that has been accepted without question for thousands of years: that the David of the Bible – and all the “Davids” that followed in the history of the world – were underdogs. In general terms, David and Goliath forces us to reconsider what we thought we knew about those with advantages and disadvantages.
For example, most people believe that to grow up very poor is a disadvantage for children. But Gladwell argues that to grow up very rich is also a disadvantage. On another topic, the accepted wisdom is that small classroom size is better for children; however, Gladwell argues that if classroom sizes become too small, the children are impeded in their learning as much as they would be in classrooms that have too many students.
It’s easy perhaps to make counterintuitive, against-the-grain pronouncements and perhaps even to find some anecdotal evidence to support these pronouncements. But Gladwell is a teacher, not an opinionated contrarian. In all his books, he uses a wide range of academic studies and other research reinforced with eloquent true stories drawn from history as well as from the lives of contemporary people and events around the world.
What’s So Bad About a Large Classroom?
Gladwell’s discussion of the impact of classroom size on learning exemplifies the depth of his research and insight. Classroom size happens to be one of the most researched topics related to education in the world. A number of global academics and consultants have carefully explored whether and how the size of a classroom impedes or enables learning in countries from Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore to numerous countries in Western and Eastern Europe to the United States. The results are mixed, at best, with smaller class sizes sometimes having a positive effect, sometimes having a negative effect, and sometimes having no effect whatsoever.
As Gladwell digs deeper in the research, he discovers an inverted U relationship to small classroom size. Reducing the number of students in a large class does help increase learning to a certain point. Then the upward curve bends downward as smaller class sizes reduce learning. There are a number of factors. For example, shy or mediocre students don’t get the boost to their self-esteem that comes from hearing others asking the questions with which they are wrestling.
Success In Spite of Struggle
Gladwell plunges with equal depth in a wide variety of other situations in which the advantage or disadvantage is wrongly assigned by our assumptions or the accepted wisdom. For example, dyslexics or people who lose a parent young are often successful because, not in spite, of their struggles.
Whatever the situation or context, Gladwell provides the evidence that bolsters his conclusions – often evidence that was available but ignored. Any historian of ancient times, for example, could tell you that the “artillery” of ancient armies consisted of men with slingshots, who benefited from greater mobility and the ability to strike from a distance than the heavily armored sword fighters. In other words, Goliath was taken out by a better soldier.
In 2001 the business world was rocked by news of the Enron scandal. Over the following decade many other company scandals have come to light, further eroding trust within companies and about big business in general.
In response to this flurry of scandals, business writers began to publish articles and books about the issue of trust in the workplace and between companies. Among those authors was Stephen M. R. Covey, son of the late Stephen R. Covey. In 2006 he released The Speed of Trust, focusing on how trust between individuals and companies can speed up the way we do business. This was followed up in 2012 by Smart Trust, with a focus on how trust affects our careers.
Now in late 2013 Covey has released an extensive update to Smart Trust, with a focus on the importance of trust in developing strong leaders. With this latest update, we’ve invited Stephen back to bring us up to date on his latest findings in this important area of trust in the workplace.
Please join us on December 12th for The Defining Skill that Transforms Managers into Leaders with Stephen M. R. Covey. With a whole new generation of workers moving up through the ranks, it’s more important than ever to make sure that trust practices are part of their training.
It’s an important, if subtle, point that the title of Nicole Lipkin’s What Keeps Leaders Up at Night appears without a question mark at the end. Lipkin’s book, now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary, is entirely devoted to providing answers. The only questions that appear in the book serve as a guide for Lipkin’s substantive advice for topics including productivity, credibility and conflict.
What Keeps Leaders Up at Night achieves the critical balance between academic examination and practical application. This reflects Lipkin’s dual pedigree of a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, as well as an MBA. Some executives might be tentative about taking a trek into the “softer” side of leadership, but as Lipkin points out, effective leadership is “all about managing the messy, complicated, illogical and fallible human variables.”
A great example of the strength of Lipkin’s method is her response to the common leadership question, “Why Don’t People Heed My Sage Advice?” Lipkin provides a two-part answer that cites psychologists John French and Bertram Raven’s power framework before advising leaders to pay particular attention to referent power, derived from personal traits and values. After giving insight into referent power, she continues by helping executives craft the second component of creating buy-in, a compelling message.
What Keeps Leaders Up at Night treads cautiously through the minefield of problems executives face and the book does a great job of de-arming the danger posed to leaders. Lipkin’s advice is readily applicable and covers territory that new leaders need to know and experienced leaders need to review.
FEED THE STARTUP BEAST
Tips for Unleashing Your Business
“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer,” wrote Peter Drucker many years ago. While none of the many books written by the father of modern management featured a purple monster on its cover, the mindset behind Feed the Startup Beast by Drew Williams and Jonathan Verney reflects Drucker’s words: A business without customers is a business that’s finished. Or, to use the metaphor in the title of the book, a business needs to be “fed” if it is to survive.
A Seven-Step Plan
Focusing specifically on business-to-business startups, Williams and Verney show how to feed the “Beast” through a seven-step marketing plan designed to attract and convert prospects into customers. The interrelated steps are
1) Ask the right question. Survey your customers with only one question: How likely are you to recommend [my product or service] to a colleague or business associate?” The scores will tell you if your startup is a Beast ready to grow or not.
2) Listen to your best customers. The next step is to listen to your best customers, which means first identifying them – and then show them that you understand their pain.
3) Focus your resources. In this step, you lay the foundation for your marketing by creating the tools you need: a website, your Engagement Spreadsheet through which you can carefully track thousands of prospects, your Engagement Pages (the landing pages for prospects who find you) and your sales team.
4) Attract your best prospects. The key to being found by prospects is your online presence – your success in showing up in search engines and social media sites.
5) Pursue your best prospects. Successful startups do everything to be found online, but they also take preemptive steps to seek out and engage prospects. While much of the conversation today focuses on inbound marketing, outbound marketing continues to be relevant.
6) Nurture your engaged prospects. In the vernacular of the book, prospects are now in the cave, but they have to be converted into customers and eventually fans.
7) Grow! Measure your success. A “Beast Dashboard” is used to track the conversion rates of prospects to engaged prospects, engaged prospects to sales-ready leads, sales-ready leads to customers and customers to fans.
Tools and Examples
Williams is a serial entrepreneur who sold one of his businesses for eight figures. Verney is a communications professional specializing in corporate storytelling. The result of this collaboration is a book that is rich in visual metaphors but grounded in real-world experience.
For example, the authors describe a prospect’s “decision cycle,” which moves from problem awareness and solution education to vendor education and vendor consideration to, finally, vendor selection. In the nurture phase (step 6), marketers move the prospect through this cycle by getting them to climb the “engagement ladder.” Thus, a startup might offer analysts reports and buying guides to lead vendors through the solution education stage. Webinars or white papers will respond to their vendor education needs, while video testimonials or demos engage them during the vendor consideration phase. Custom analysis and aids such as ROI calculators can help push prospects to take the final step and to become sales-ready leads. At this point, your sales team will take over.
Humorous and energetic but also comprehensive and practical, Feed the Startup Beast is a valuable manual for entrepreneurs building up their marketing.