Jack Welch and the GE Way by Robert Slater [audio]

Jack Welch and the GE WayI listened to rather than read this biography of Jack Welch’s leadership of GE, and the version I listened to was an abridged version.

As someone who’s not a fan of working in big businesses I wasn’t sure how useful I’d find this one. But actually, I really enjoyed listening to it, and will be taking it out again in the car with me on the next long journey.

Jack Welch ran GE for decades, and in that time totally changed the business. Often doing persuing strategies that the rest of the market thought were crazy.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book is understanding how change needs to happen one step at a time. For example, whilst trying to focus the business Welch decided that GE would exit any market where they were not the biggest or second biggest player. This worked really well, and the company profited and grew. Several years later it became apparent that the businesses within GE had defined their marketplaces so that they would always be 1st or 2nd – thus missing out on the sales opportunities to the wider market. So a new strategy had to be bought in, and the management educated again.

This story reeks of patience! Do just one thing at a time, and understand that it takes time to change, and so new activities need be given time to proove themselves.

A really good listen.


Upside Down Management by John Timpson

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading John Timpson’s business biography – Upside Down Management.

Upside Down Managment by John Timpson

In it he runs through the history of his career with Timpson’s then onto how he’s turned it into the successful business it is today. Using “upside down management” – which means turning the retail structure on it’s head so that head office are there to help the shops – not to tell them what to do. Having worked in retail businesses – that is a HUGE change.

John Timpson’s style (in the book, and from what I’ve read in life) is very straight forward, very to the point and highly steeped in common sense. It’s a very easy to read and pragmatic book. And my warmth for it only increased when on p.166 when he declares Boo Hoo to be one of his favourite business books (it’s so worth reading, read my review).

So, what’s in “Upside Down Management”?

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Vidal Sassoon The Movie {DVD}

Vidal Sassoon the movieI know it’s not a book – but I watched this when the BBC showed it on the Imagine series the other week – and was really impressed.

The movie is really a documentary, that takes you through the history of all that Vidal Sassoon achieved and how he did it. There’s lots of talking heads – including Vidal and many of his former employees and models.

It’s quite fascinating – he made SO many game changing moves:

  • Haircuts that didn’t need a return to the salon every week
  • Salon’s that were open to the world with huge glass walls
  • Hairdressers selling products – their own ranges
And (I didn’t know this) he had his own TV show – well, more than one actually!
Really a rather inspiring watch for 2 key reasons:
  1. It took him 9 years of working at it to get to the iconic hairstyles he’s known for – so it’s worth persevering
  2. That 9 years was all about learning what it was he was, what he wanted to achieve – so you have to get to the heart of you for it to work
I really recommend this one.

The Unprincipled by David Croydon

This our first ever review of an unpublished book.

David’s written The Unprincipled about his experinces launching and growing and selling a marketing promotions agency. And most of the chapters are available on his blog. But until he finds a publisher the last 2 will remain locked up.

I’ve found it a very useful and interesting story. David takes us through from the decision to start up, right the way through the aftermath of selling the business. The business experiences everything – financial crisis, client crisis, moving, lots of hr issues, buying a business, growing and diversifying. AND achieves a huge amount.

It’s a great guide to running a business as you can see how others have coped with issues you might / have faced. And help you anticpate future situations.

I highly recommend it, and I hope that David finds a publisher.


Boo Hoo by Ernst Malmsten, Eric Portanger & Charles Drazin

I’m going to start this review with a bold statement – I think everyone running ecommerce websites should be made to read this book.

AND that it’s also essential reading for anyone considering building a business and aiming to float it.

It covers every angle of running a business, from coming up with the idea, to getting funding, building a great culture, managing the bad times, dealing with bad eggs, suppliers, international law – the lot!

And it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read. If (like I have) you’ve been involved in website builds you’ll spend the first half of the book going “how could you have missed that?”, “been there, done that”, “shit that’s going to be hard”.

And the story is very candidly told too – especially in chapter 9 when they finally realise that the website requires some attention if they’re ever going to launch.

If you want to really make sure you get the key lessons from this story then I’d also recommend checking out the Case Study and questions on Dave Chaffey’s site.

Boo Hoo

Five Business Books I’d like for Christmas

This morning I’m busy working out what I’m getting everyone for Christmas – or to be honest thinking about what I’d like to get for Christmas!

So here’s the five business books I’d like to receive on Christmas day:

  1. Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
    I’ll admit I partly want to read this because I adore Mad  Men!
  2. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard
    I’m a big fan of doing business how you feel you should, rather than how someone else says you should – so looking forward to reading this one.
  3. Common Sense Rules: What you really need to know about business by Deborah Meaden
    She comes out with some very sensible advice from what I’ve seen – so I think this will be a good and useful read.
  4. Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalryby Deborah Cadbury
    I read a fantastic review of this in the paper recently – so it has to be on the list.
  5. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
    Great writer – always interesting subjects

The Maverick by Luke Johnson

This is a really fascinating book. It’s a collection of Luke Johnson’s columns written for the Telegraph.

It covers a wide wide range of topics – from his thoughts on good business practice to biographies of interesting characters.

There’s lots of good advice and interesting insights, and it’s definately a book you can pick up and come back too – I’ve taken a few months to get to the end, and my copy is covered in notes and bookmarks! It’s one I’ll be keeping on the bookcase ready to refer to for a long long time.