Rx for Information Overload — The First Friday Book Synopsis

There is too much to know.  Really — there is too much to know.

Everywhere around us, we see this truth pounded home.   Recently 60 Minutes re-ran its great, touching, sad, profound story about “Picking Cotton.”  (Transcript available here).  It is the true story of Ronald Cotton, falsely accused of raping Jennifer Thompson-Cannoni, identified (falsely) by Jennifer herself as the rapist.  The actual rapist, Bobby Poole, was not caught, and raped other women until he was later convicted for one of his other crimes.

The detective in charge of the case, Mike Gauldin (now Captain Mike Gauldin), assisted Jennifer with photos and a line-up of possible suspects.  He used standard, accepted procedure at the time.  She picked Ronald Cotton, who was convicted — twice.  It was the wrong choice, which DNA evidence later proved.  Here are the words of Detective Gauldin from the 60 Minutes interview:

“Law enforcement wasn’t schooled in memory. We weren’t schooled in protecting memory, treating it like a crime scene, where you’re very careful, methodical about what you do and how you use it. I mean, we weren’t taught that in those days.”

Here is a little more of the Leslie Stahl interview with Detective Gaudlin:

“Before this case, did you think that there were a lot of innocent people put away?” Stahl asked Detective Gauldin.  “No,” he said with a smile. “No, I didn’t. Innocent people aren’t convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. I believed that.”  Asked what he thinks now, Gauldin told Stahl, “I know better. I mean, well over 200 cases nationally. We’ve had a half a dozen in this state alone. The first, of course, was my case.”

This is the clear lesson — as much as we know, as much as we think we know, there is still so much we do not know.  Detective Gauldin had been thoroughly trained.  He is, without any doubt, a man with great credibility  (Just watch the interview).  He cared about getting the conviction right.  But, the knowledge was simply inadequate.  We needed, he needed, to learn more about the mistakes that can be made in confirming eye-witness testimony.

There was so much more to learn (and there is still so much more to learn).  Captain Gauldin has now helped develop a computer program, gaining acceptance across the country, to help avoid the eyewitness testimony mistakes made in the Cotton case.  (By the way, Jennifer Thompson-Cannoni has apologized to Ronald Cotton, and asked for his forgiveness, which he granted, and they are now friends– and they wrote their story in a book together.  It really is a remarkable story of forgiveness and redemption).

But for this blog post, it is as a parable that I refer to this story.  It serves as a reminder that we always have more to learn.  If Outliers, and Talent is Overrated, and so many other business books have anything to teach us, it is this:  we need to keep learning.

This is where the First Friday Book Synopsis serves such a useful purpose. Few people have the time to read all of the business books they would like to read – that they need to read.  And even when they do read them, they do not remember what they read, nor do they pull out of a book its most useful transferable principles.

If a person attends our event (or purchases our synopses on-line), they have a better chance of knowing which books to buy and which books they don’t need to buy.  But we offer even more — our presentations provide the key ideas which would be especially useful in anyone’s unique circumstances.

There are other places, of course, to find these points out — including the many excellent book reviews available on Amazon.com, the New York Times, Business Week, and many other places.  But let’s be honest– not only do people not have time to read business books, they don’t even have time to read business book reviews.

Our unique approach really does give the key content of the books we choose.  One enthusiastic participant put it this way:

“attending the First Friday Book Synopsis, is not the same as reading the book for yourself — but it’s close.”

The information you need to learn may not be as important as the information Detective Gauldin needed to learn.  But we are all on a trajectory toward greater competence and success, in business and in life.  Learning is a life-long challenge.  We believe the First Friday Book Synopsis can help.


If you have never attended the First Friday Book Synopsis, here’s a quick overview.  In addition to great networking and a terrific Park City Club breakfast, Karl Krayer and I will each present a 15-minute synopsis of a best-selling business book.  You will receive two pages of quotes taken directly from each book, and an outline of the key content.  You will discover many transferable concepts.  It is a fast-paced delivery of useful, insightful business principles and concepts.

• You can always see the next two books for the next meeting on any page on this web site.

• You can order synopses of many or our presentations at our companion web site, 15 Minute Business Books.

• You can sign up for reminder e-mails for the First Friday Book Synopsis here.

• And if your company could benefit from one of these presentations delivered within your company, let us know.  E-mail me at .

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