A smart, comprehensive guidebook steeped in the rough-and-tumble realities of business.

Driving to Perfection

ACHIEVING BUSINESS EXCELLENCE BY CREATING A VIBRANT CULTURE

Entrepreneur Fielkow urges fellow business leaders to harness the ultimate competitive weapon: company culture.

For Fielkow, building a company culture isn’t a touchy-feely exercise but a “hardcore business proposition.” A lawyer-turned–corporate executive, Fielkow bought the trucking firm Jetco Delivery in 2006 and set out to transform it into a world-class company. In his view, Jetco’s competitive advantage isn’t superior technology or having more trucks on the road. What sets Jetco apart is a culture based on well-defined values, employee empowerment and a commitment to excellence. “An excellent culture occurs when people and process are in harmony with the company’s vision and values,” he writes. Fielkow argues that too many leaders think culture is an undefinable entity or, worse, a waste of time. In fact, he says, culture is a “strategic choice” that yields a measurable return on investment. To make his case, Fielkow shares his successes and failures in establishing Jetco’s culture, cleverly summarized by the mantra “Driving to Perfection.” Written in a succinct, amiable style, the book is a treasure trove of ideas on how to build a culture without spending a lot of money. Far from the superficial notions of culture often found in company brochures, Fielkow advances a sophisticated view of culture that permeates every aspect of business, from employee compensation to mergers and acquisitions. He spotlights a broad range of topics—leadership, communication, hiring, teamwork, accountability, etc.—and challenges many conventional business practices. For example, Jetco chooses to focus on its employees rather than blindly following a “customer-first at any price” policy. Jetco’s culture ensures workers are well-trained and empowered to take care of customers, which keeps them coming back with repeat business. Fielkow makes clear his distaste for lengthy employee handbooks, so he keeps his chapters brief and equipped with easy-to-skim lists. While culture-building may be inexpensive, Fielkow doesn’t promise quick fixes. Developing a vibrant culture demands effort, and once achieved, it must be relentlessly guarded against complacency.

A smart, comprehensive guidebook steeped in the rough-and-tumble realities of business.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1626525078

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Two Harbors Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A vigorous and highly readable plan for building the finances of a new business.

PROFIT FIRST FOR MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

TRANSFORM YOUR MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE FROM A CASH-EATING MONSTER TO A MONEY-MAKING MACHINE

A program of cash-management techniques for aspiring entrepreneurs, aimed at a minority readership.

At the beginning of this business book, Mariga reflects on the birth of her daughter, Florence, and on the depressing prospect of returning to her corporate job and missing some of her baby’s early moments. She realized that she “wanted to show Florence…that I could, that she could, that anyone could be anything they wanted to be in this world.” To that end, she wanted to start her own business, and she “wanted to help entrepreneurs build successful businesses that provide opportunities for others.” In a sentiment reflected by others she’s interviewed, she says that she wanted to strengthen her family legacy, so she founded her own accounting firm. She paints a vivid picture of the hardscrabble early days of other minority business owners like herself, the child of an African American mother and a Chinese father who also had a family accounting business. She and others were “all hustling to acquire clients and build our businesses…and most of us had absolutely nothing to show for it.” She was inspired by Mike Michalowicz’s Profit First money management system, and the bulk of her book is devoted to an explanation of how to make this system work for minority business enterprises. (Michalowicz provides a foreword to the book.) One of the primary goals of Profit First is to build “a self-sustaining, debt-free company,” so a large part of Mariga’s work deals with the details of managing finances, building and abiding by budgets, and handling the swings of emotion that occur every step of the way. As sharply focused as these insights are, the author’s recollections of her own experiences are more rewarding, as when she tells readers of her brief time as a cut-rate accountant and learning that it was a mistake to try to compete on price. These stories, as well as financing specifics and clear encouragements (“Small changes and adjustments accumulate. Over time, they will lead you to your goal”), will make this book invaluable to entrepreneurs of all kinds.

A vigorous and highly readable plan for building the finances of a new business.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7357759-0-6

Page Count: 230

Publisher: The Avant-Garde Project, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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