How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs

How the Mighty FallBy Jim Collins –
The author of Good to Great on how to spot the subtle signs that your successful company is actually on course to sputter—and how to reverse the slide before it’s too late.

I pondered and puzzled and finally settled upon the question: Is America renewing its greatness, or is America dangerously on the cusp of falling from great to good? While I intended the question to be rhetorical (I believe America carries a responsibility to continuously renew itself, and it has met that responsibility throughout its history), the West Point gathering nonetheless erupted into an intense debate. Half of the participants argued that America stands as strong as ever, while the other half contended that America teeters on the edge of decline.

History shows, repeatedly, that the mighty can fall. The Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Chou Dynasty, the Hittite Empire—all fell. Athens fell. Rome fell. Even Britain, which stood a century before as a global superpower, saw its position erode. Is that the U.S.’s fate? Or will America always find a way to meet Lincoln’s challenge to be the last best hope of Earth?

At a break, the chief executive of one of America’s most successful companies pulled me aside. “I’ve been thinking about your question in the context of my company all morning,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous success in recent years, and I worry about that. So what I want to know is: How would you know?” [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How Zappos Delivers Happiness

6/1/2010 – Gregory Ferenstein –

The funny thing about business books is that for many stories, there are countless counterexamples of management philosophies that are radically different, yet still successful. What is inspiring about Zappos.com, the world’s largest online shoe retailer, is that it is possible for a business to be founded on curiosity, built with friendship, and sustained with employee happiness. CEO Tony Hsieh’s (pronounced “shay”) retelling of the Zappos story in the upcoming Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is a zippy, pleasant read about a business model that doesn’t compartmentalize labor and leisure.

Indeed, it appears that Zappos thrives in the most outrageous displays of its employees’ individuality. During tours of their head office, a potential client might see karaoke, a make-shift bowling alley, a petting zoo, or a napping worker. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington

Amazon.com | by Nicole Gelinas | 2009

Robust financial markets support capitalism, they don’t imperil it. But in 2008, Washington policymakers were compelled to replace private risk-takers in the financial system with government capital so that money and credit flows wouldn’t stop, precipitating a depression.

Washington’s actions weren’t the start of government distortions in the financial industry, Nicole Gelinas writes, but the natural result of 25 years’ worth of such distortions.

In the early eighties, modern finance began to escape reasonable regulations, including the most important regulation of all, that of the marketplace. The government gradually adopted a “too big to fail” policy for the largest or most complex financial companies, saving lenders to failing firms from losses. As a result, these companies became impervious to the vital market discipline that the threat of loss provides. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Crash Course

FT | Review by John Gapper | Jan. 22, 2010
Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster – by Paul Ingrassia

Japanese car companies, which overtook US ones in the early 21st century, leading to the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler last year, used a method of industrial innovation called kaizen, usually translated as “continuous improvement”. From a humble start, the Japanese companies had got better and better at making cars that were economical and reliable.

Meanwhile, Detroit perfected the technique of occasional improvement. As the Big Three – GM, Ford and Chrysler – slid deeper into trouble over decades of complacency, union obstructionism and mismanagement, they would occasionally stage a temporary recovery, with some new car or initiative prompting books and magazine articles about a Detroit revival. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How to Liberate an Economy

Entrepreneurs understand the importance of freedom in the workplace.
City Journal | by Guy Sorman | October 21, 2009

Brian Carney and Isaac Getz’s Freedom, Inc. is a timely book. It’s also countercyclical and somewhat counterintuitive. After all, most of today’s writing about economics and business is haunted by the current crisis: nearly every author and commentator expects that either more or less government intervention will bring the economy out of its difficulties. But Carney and Getz remind us that without well-managed enterprises, there would be no economy at all.

Crisis or no crisis, the engine of economic growth has always been, and will always remain, entrepreneurs. Nations without entrepreneurs—whether they drive them out with excessive taxes and regulations, or in more extreme cases, suppress, exile, or kill them—never reach prosperity. One can often ascertain the condition of a nation’s economy by assessing the cultural, legal, fiscal, and social status of its entrepreneurial class. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Something for Nothing – Book Review

The All-Consuming Desire that Turns the American Dream into a Social Nightmare.


Brian Tracy’s book, Something for Nothing, is an honest and critical look at many of the societal and cultural problems our society is facing. Tracy is
most concerned with the natural tendencies and drives of our human nature, how they have been misdirected and abused, and how, as a result, they have contributed to creating and perpetuating those social and cultural
problems. Driven by his desire to understand and explain human behavior, the author relies on his experiences and insights to present a comprehensive and clear picture of how humanity’s misguided approaches in actualizing our desires to get “something for nothing” have brought about many unintended and dreadful consequences to not only individuals themselves but our society in general. [Read more…]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail