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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

A WILD IDEA

Investigative reporter Franklin recounts the life of the free-spirited millionaire entrepreneur who used his fabulous wealth in the fight to save nature.

One constant in the epic life of North Face founder Doug Tompkins (1943-2015) was his enduring love of the outdoors. The son of a successful antiques dealer, he grew up in the countryside of Millbrook, New York (Timothy Leary was a neighbor), where he cultivated his love of the natural world. His contrarian ways eventually led to his expulsion from high school just weeks before graduation. Tompkins headed West, where he baled hay in Montana, raced Olympic skiers in the Rockies, and took up rock climbing in California. He also “hitchhiked by airplane throughout South America.” Tompkins ended up in San Francisco, where, by the mid-1960s, the skiing and climbing supplies business he started with the help of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard suddenly began to boom. He was a charismatic businessman, and every one of his ventures after that—from his wife’s Plain Jane dress company to his own Esprit clothing brand—was successful. But his Midas touch never changed his passion for travel and adventure—e.g., flying his Cessna, sometimes with his family, but often, to the detriment of his marriage, solo. In the early 1990s, Tompkins bought property in southern Chile and fell in love with its pristine beauty. His outrage over the resource extraction–based nature of the Chilean government’s policies fueled his desire to protect the land. In the years that followed, he became an outspoken, sometimes reviled conservationist dedicated to using his fortune to transform thousands of acres of Patagonia into national parks. The great strengths of this timely, well-researched book lie not just in the author’s detailed characterization of Tompkins’ complex personality, but also in the celebration of his singularly dynamic crusade to save the environment.

A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296412-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more