A Trip Down Memory Lane – more from the early years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, (1999-2004) – Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner; Good to Great by Jim Collins; and other great books

A Trip Down Memory Lane — The First Friday Book Synopsis, 1998-2019, and counting…
Important Books from 1999-2004
500+ synopses of books — and counting!

Yes, I do recommend this book more often that any other book for people who actually lead others

Yes, I do recommend this book more often that any other book for people who actually lead others

Near the beginning of our second year of the First Friday Book Synopsis, in April and May, 1999, we selected two terrific books.  In April, 1999, Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of the modern classic, On Competition by Michael Porter (Harvard Business School Press, 1998). And a month later, I presented my synopsis of a book I have recommended ever since – a book I regularly present to leadership teams, even to this day:  Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (Simon and Schuster, 1999).

Here is an excerpt from an earlier blog post about this book; (click here to read the full post):

The book is filled with wisdom.  From the book:
Encouraging the Heart is ultimately about keeping hope alive.  Leaders keep hope alive when they set high standards and genuinely express optimism about an individual’s capacity to achieve them.  They keep hope alive when they give feedback and publicly recognize a job well done.  They keep hope alive when they give their constituents the internal support that all human beings need to feel that they and their work are important and have meaning.  They keep hope alive when they train and coach people to exceed their current capacities.  Most important, leaders keep hope alive when they set an example.  There really is nothing more encouraging than to see our leaders practice what they preach.
Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others.  Your life will be enlarged also.
We don’t do our best in isolation.  We don’t get extraordinary things done by working alone with no support, encouragement, expressions of confidence, or help from others.  That’s not how we make the best decisions, get the best grades, run faster, achieve the highest levels of sales, invent breakthrough products, or live longer.
All of this requires that leaders understand their roles – and aim for self-improvement themselves:
Leadership development is self-development…  To know what to change in our lives, we need to understand what we’re doing that is getting the results we want and what we’re doing that is not.
And this book has one of my all-time favorite quotes:
We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional.  (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken).

And in December of 1999, I presented my synopsis of the profoundly important book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999). – This book kind of launched the “globalization” conversation.  One of our regular attendees, Jim Young, has never forgiven me for presenting this book: he said it forced him to buy 25 copies to give away to key people.

And, here are a few more notable books we presented during those years, with the month and year we presented the book, and with a brief comment after each title:

October, 2000The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown & Co., 2000) – Still a best-selling book, this book introduced us all to the ever-popular Malcolm Gladwell.

May, 2001 — The Art of Innovation (Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm) by Tom Kelley, Jonathan Littman (Foreword), Tom Peters (Doubleday: 2001). – great rules for brainstorming; and other principles for nurturing a culture of innovation.

August, 2001Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan Books: May, 2001) – If you want to understand the challenges and struggles of the every-day blue-collar, low-wage worker, this is THE book to read.

October, 2001 — The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business by Thomas H. Davenport, John C. Beck (Harvard Business School Press: June 2001) – Now, well into our second decade of smart phones, this book, maybe before any other, grasped the importance of businesses grasping the importance of gaining and maintaining the attention of its customers..

December, 2001 — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (HarperCollins; October, 2001) – maybe the most referred to business book for the last 20 years.  — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).

February, 2002 — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen (Viking Press; 2001) – still the “bible’ on time management.

September, 2002Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck (Contributor) (Crown Pub, June, 2002) – this book kind of started the “execution” movement.

October, 2002Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey (McGraw-Hill Trade; 2002). – Many books have followed up with this simple truth: have those important, crucial  conversations! — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).

May, 2003The Power of Full Engagement:Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz, (Free Press; February, 2003). – this book taught us that it is not just time management, but also energy management that we need.

November, 2003Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. (W. E. Norton and Company, 2003). – I remember this being called the business book of the year by a major publication.  This book helped the common reader grasp the value of data. 


One of my all-time favorites!

April, 2004 — The Creative Habit:  Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp  (Simon & Schuster, 2003) – one of my favorite books of all time!  I love her view that creativity is a habit.  I especially liked this book because Ms. Tharp is a choreographer; an artist. So, not “just” a business person. (Her follow up, The Collaborative Habit, is also terrific, and worth reading). This was also named a best business book of the year by a major publication.

July, 2004The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations by James Surowiecki (Author)  (Doubleday Books, 2004) – quite an influential book.

This is just a partial list of the books we presented during those years at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  There are other very good selections.  And, a few not so good.  (Actually, during this period, I presented the single worst book I ever presented.  It literally recommended some unethical practices.  No, I will not name the book in this post).

21 years of books – two books every month.  So many books; so much to learn; so little time… 


for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive. Click here for the newest additions).

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