If you're going to spend a couple of hours reading instead of mowing the lawn, you'd better read something good, right? Well, here are two books my colleague John Armstrong recommended, and we're giving them "two thumbs up."
Neither book is new, but both are required reading.
The first is "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" by Thomas Friedman. It's a look at globalization and what it means to our businesses, our cities, our country and our world. Friedman should know. He has spent years all over the world as the foreign affairs correspondent for the New York Times.
The second book is an easy read, but just as important to understanding what makes the world go 'round.
It's "The Tipping Point" by Malcom Gladwell. Subtitled "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," it's a fast-paced trip through major trends from fashion crazes to global epidemics.
Gladwell doesn't just chronicle the events, he offers credible reasons why they grow from virtually unnoticed to unstoppable and life-changing for millions of people.
Now here's a lesson for business.
Gladwell observes there are three driving personalities behind most successful trends: the Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman. You know every one of them, and you probably are one in some ways.
The Connector is the person who knows everybody. If you ask a Connector about repairing a faucet, they can give you the name of two good local plumbers and one about an hour away whose father is a banker they met through a friend who happened to know the plumber's brother. When you're finished talking with the Connector, you have at least three names you can contact to fix the faucet.
The Maven is someone who has information about a lot of things and enjoys sharing it. If you ask a Maven about repairing a faucet you'll find out there's a new faucet on the market with twist-on fittings, a high impact finish, and a lifetime warranty. In fact, the Maven probably wants to see your old faucet just to find out what went wrong with it.
The Salesman should be easy to recognize - gold chain, non-stop talk, selling you something you don't need for more than you can afford. Not necessarily. Fact is, the best sales people just believe that what they have is exactly right for what you need. They have confidence in who they are and what they're doing, and relentless determination to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
How do these people change the world every day? You'll have to read the book to find out. But once you do, you'll be glad you let the lawn grow a couple of more inches. Besides, your Connector friend knows three good lawn-care companies you can call. Then you'll have time to read the other book.
Art Hill is vice president of customized training, apprenticeship and the Small Business Development Center at Blue Mountain Community College. Call 276-6233 or toll-free 1-888-441-7232 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.