Author Archives: randy

Here is the New York Times list of best-selling business books for August, 2020 – Atomic Habits by James Clear is still #1, in Pandemic America

What are people reading?

Each month, the New York Times publishes its list of best-selling business books, and I pass along the list each month on this blog.  I have always read a bunch of the books on each month’s list.  (There are relatively few “newer” books that make the list).

For over 22 years, I have hosted an event in Dallas, the First Friday Book Synopsis (although, currently, I am hosting the event on Zoom).  I present synopses of two books each month.  (In the past, I would present one book, and my former colleague, Karl Krayer, would present the other book.  For health reasons, Karl had to cease his participation, and I have been on my own in recent years).

For the last two months, I have broken my regular pattern, and presented one business book and one book dealing with racial issues..  I will continue with this pattern through October.

I feel a little adrift at the moment in my reading choices.  The traditional “this is how to be more successful in your business endeavors” books don’t quite seem to fit the moment.  Yes, I am referring to the Great Pandemic of 2020.  It has upended just about…everything.  So many traditional business themes – like customer service, employee experience, among others — are not quite right for the moment.

Atomic HabitsBut why not keep reading?  Maybe we can sort of stockpile our learning for better days ahead.

On this month’s New York Times list, Atomic Habits is still at the top spot.  I think maybe it is a Great Pandemic of 2020 must-read.

Of the ten books on this month’s list, we have presented synopses of seven of them at our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis events.  I have presented synopses of :  Atomic Habits, Dare to Lead, Extreme Ownership. Outliers, and The Ride of a Lifetime. My former colleague Karl Krayer presented synopses of Grit and Thinkmg, Fast and Slow. 

I can affirm that these seven books are all differently worth your time.  (I am unfamiliar with the other three).

Here is the New York Times list of best-selling business books for August, 2020.  Click over to their site for more information, including links to reviews of a few of the books.

Outliers first became a best seller when FDR was president, I think... (OK; not quite that long ago!)

Outliers first became a best seller when FDR was president, I think… (OK; not quite that long ago!)

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#2 – The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

#3 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#4 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#5 – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
#6 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

#7 — Grit by Angela Duckworth
#8 – 
I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition by Ramit Sethi
#9 – Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson
#10 – The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger


We record our presentations, and make them available for purchase.  Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, plus the audio recording of the presentation.  Go to the “Buy Synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by title.  Click here to see our newest additions.

Download the Synopses Handouts for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis – August 7, 2020

Well over 120 people are joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

Click on image to download synopsis handouts

Click on image to download synopsis handouts









August 7, 2020 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses: The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton
and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, August 7, 7:30 am
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux

Click here to join in on Zoom:


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, but will keep myself somewhat muted until I begin the program at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: August 7, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis

Time: Aug 7, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 892 5401 7070

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Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”
But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal Click here for a direct link to “donate” thorugh PayPal.

(Note:  you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).
(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal , and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.
Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session


Who is your Biggest Competitor?

This morning, I was presenting my synopsis of The Catalyst:  How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger to a team of people needing to persuade customers and clients (internal, and external) pretty much all the time.

At the end of the presentation, the leader of the team said:

“Sometimes our biggest competitor is… doing nothing.” 

He meant that the client might not choose another service provider, or another product; the client might simply choose to do nothing.

So, this is a good warning.  What if your customer chooses to do nothing? – By the way, Jonah Berger says that one who persuades has to counter the argument of doing nothing by making a case that there can be great cost to doing nothing.

That got me to thinking, who else/what else might be your biggest competitor?

Rather obviously, if another company has a better product or service, that would be a real threat.

Or, maybe, if they have a product nearly as good as yours, that could still pose a threat.   If your product and their product are about equal, now it comes down to the clearest persuasive communicator, with the best marketing.

{Here’s a personal belief of mine:  never lie.  But, assuming that you have something of value to offer, yes, present your case in as positive a way as you can.  Here’s a quote from Frank Luntz, from his book Words that Work:
I do not believe there is something dishonorable about presenting a passionately held proposition in the most favorable light, while avoiding the self-sabotage of clumsy phrasing and dubious delivery. I do not believe it is somehow malevolent to choose the strongest arguments rather than to lazily go with the weakest}.

Here are some other possibilities for who is your biggest competitor:

Your biggest competitor… is your customer’s ATTENTION SPAN. (see this article).

Your biggest competitor…is your own inefficiency, or laziness, or inattentiveness, or…any other deficiency in your own approach.

Your biggest competitor…is your own unwillingness to keep learning, and studying.

Whoever or whatever you biggest competitor, it would really be a good idea to identify it, and go to work to make sure you can rise to the challenge.


Where have all the customers gone? – A Big Challenge during the Great Pandemic of 2020

News items:
Men’s Wearhouse, JoS.A.Bank, and Lord & Taylor have all declared bankruptcy


Where have all the customers gone…long time passing?
(with apology to Pete Seeger)


For years, I have been a fan of the three great questions from Peter Drucker:

What is your business? 
Who is your customer?
What does your customer consider value?

Peter Drucker says that a successful business has to get these right.  All three.
Be sure about your business.
Know your customer.
Know what your customer considers value.

Oh, for the good old days.

There is plenty written in many, many good business books about paying careful attention to the customer.  Customer service, the customer experience, customer retention… this is crucial to business success.

But, what do you do when your customers leave you, not because they have gone to some competitor, but because…they simply do not need what you are providing?  When they leave you through no fault of your own?

During the Great Pandemic of 2020, that is exactly what is happening.  The customers have left: they have left restaurants, airlines, cruise ships, amusement parks, sporting events, movie theaters, and so many more arenas where just a few short months ago the future seemed so bright.

Let me be a little personal for a moment.

BP (Before Pandemic) I pretty much wore a suit, dress shirt, and tie every working day of my life.  (4-5 days a week).  I taught college classes; and delivered many, many presentations to live audiences.  And, maybe because I am somewhat traditional (about some things), I wore a suit for every presentation.

I have not put on a suit since mid-March.  I am making a number of Webex and Zoom enabled presentations.  I am now wearing a dress shirt, a tie, occasionally a suit coat, but, with my jeans and comfortable socks.  I do not know when I will buy another suit, another tie, another pair of dress shoes.

I bought practically all of my suits the last few years from one of those stores listed above that has declared bankruptcy.  I was one of their customers.  Notice the word “was.”  I am now gone for the foreseeable future.

And, alas, they may be gone also.

Customer focus is, and always must be, central to your business.  But what do you do when circumstances mean that your customers do not need what you have to offer?  What do you do when all of your customers are gone?

You can be great at customer service, customer experience, customer retention, but…when customers no longer need what you have to offer, what then?!

This is one of the big, big challenges of the Great Pandemic of 2020.

Synopses in Progress; A Progress Report – The Deficit Myth, White Fragility, The Employee Experience,. and more…

What I am reading …

I have a bunch of synopses to prepare in the coming weeks.  Two for the First Friday Book Synopsis, one for the Urban Engagement Book Club, one for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and one for a private climate.

Sometimes, when I am reading one book right after the other, it causes a touch of brain overload.

But, let me give a few thoughts about a few of my current reads…

Deficit Myth#1 — The Deficit Myth:  Modern Monetary Theory and How to Build a Better Economy by Stephanie Kelton.  This is my “business book” selection for the August 7 First Friday Book Synopsis.  Ms. Kelton is a leading economist, and this book is her explanation of Modern Monetary Theory.

Some are convinced that this entire theory is wrong, wrong-headed, and dangerous.  “Crazy” even.  But, if there ever was a time to at least become conversant in this theory, it is now.  Why?  Because in the book, she argues that when a country has its own sovereign currency, the government budget really is nothing like a household budget.  In other words, the government can “borrow” money because, in reality, it is not “borrowing” money.  And, during this pandemic moment, we are needing quite some infusion of government money.

I think you might find this book enlightening.  If you reject it out of hand – and many do – you will at least know what it is you are rejecting.

I am finding it fascinating reading.

#2 — White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo.  This is my selection for the August 7 First Friday Book Synopsis dealing with racial justice issues.  This is the most talked about book on race during this racially tense time.  After the George Floyd murder, books on racial justice are flying off the shelves.  This book, written by a white author, primarily for a white audience, is very much worth reading.  And it’s the #1 best seller among the books dealing with this issue. (At this hour as I write this, it is the #6 overall best-selling book on the Amazon hourly list).

White FragilityThis book explains why white people have such difficulty talking about and dealing with issues of race; in the workplace, and in their personal lives.

#3 — For my private client, I have finished reading and am now preparing my synopsis of The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate by Jacob Morgan.  This is a book that was not on my radar, and I found it quite compelling.  It argues that there are three elements that make for a superior employee experience:  The Physical Environment, the Technological Environment, and the Cultural Environment.  The author argues that mastering all three makes it possible for employees to have a good, productive, effective employee experience.  Maybe, think employee engagement, only much more.

In addition to these three, I have the two social justice books coming up soon.

In my life, I am always preparing the next book synopsis pretty much beginning the hour after I present the one I just finished.

So many books; so much to learn; so many areas to study; so little time…

Lifelong Learner; Good. Perpetual Student; Better — a Lesson in Learning from Dr. Anthony Fauci

“I have read 2 Harvard senior theses this year – yours and Jenny’s – and I have learned from Perpetual studentboth.  This actually get to a theme that I often weave weave commencement addresses; that is the concept of a “perpetual student.”  I continually learn, even from people like yourself and Jenny who are much younger than I.  Please keep that in mind as you progress in age and experience.”  Tony
Dr. Anthony Fauci, in correspondence with a young medical student who had requested an interview with Dr. Fauci for his undergraduate thesis. The young man is now Dr. Luke Messac, MD, PhD, physician-historian, emergency medicine resident at Brown University. (emphasis added)

Here is the tweet from the young Doctor (@LukeMessac):
13 years ago, I emailed Dr. Fauci out of the blue to ask if I might interview him for my undergrad thesis. He invited me to his office, where he answered all my questions. When I sent him the thesis, HE READ THE WHOLE THING. Who does that?!

And an excerpt from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s, Commencement Address, The Ohio State University, 2016
“The scope of what you have learned here at Ohio State and importantly what you will need to learn after you leave here is like a giant mosaic, and this mosaic of your knowledge and experiences is eternally unfinished, as it should be. You will realize that you will never know as much as you want to or need to know, and you will find that you are participating in a dynamic process with a steep learning curve.”


We seem to use the phrase “life-long learner” with great frequency.  It is a good phrase.  It reminds us that we all have much to learn, and we will spend a lifetime learning new things.

But, this from Dr. Fauci adds a dimension that is significant.

Learning is something you can do kind of passively.  You see something, you hear something, you observe something, you learn something.

Whereas “perpetual student” puts the onus on you.  There is nothing passive about this pursuit.  You are seeking out new knowledge, new ways of thinking.  You are seeking out new things to learn.  You are a student; a perpetual student.  You study things because you are a student.  That is what you do; that is who you are.

Here’s the spectrum:

If you are a lifelong learner, good for you.
If you are a perpetual student, better yet.
And if you are neither, well…you’ve got some soul searching to do.