An Era Starved for Substance — Some Thoughts on the Value of a Good Book Synopsis

This is primarily a blog about business books, and the ideas and implications in and of such books.  And, to state the obvious, there are good books and bad books – valuable books and not so valuable books.

The Coming Generational Storm

The Coming Generational Storm

I want to share a story.  A regular participant at the First Friday Book Synopsis has hired us to deliver book synopsis presentations for a client of hers.  The gathering was a “development” gathering.  You know, the client team gets a room full of people and wants them to know what they can provide that they might need.  This client team provides financial services and financial products.  People want to know what to do with their money – what they can do to grow their money, but, especially now, what they can do to keep their money safe.  They brought me in to present a synopsis of the substantive, disturbing book The Coming Generational Storm:  What You Need to Know About America’s Economic Future by Laurence J. Korlikoff and Scott Burns.  Here’s a key excerpt, candidly calling for realism and honesty:

The stakes here are too high to let hope conquer fear and to let wishful thinking perpetuate inaction.  There is, in fact, no realistic painless escape from our date with demographic destiny.  And as we now point out, that date is now much closer than most people seem to think.

The discussion covered the coming generational shift, the huge and growing national debt, and numerous concerns regarding “what do we do with our money now.”  But the conversation was “started” by the questions raised by the book, and thus prompted by the book synopsis.  It was book synopsis as a tool, as PR, as conversation starter.  I think it is  a great use of a book synopsis.  And the members of the client team, competent and trustworthy in the financial arena, were able to address the concerns of the clients and potential clients who attended.

Now here’s the moment that most grabbed me.  After the event, one participant was discussing how much she gained from the book presentation, and she said (paraphrased – I wish I remembered her exact words):  “I think we are really needing some content, some substance these days.”

I think we may be done with shallowness for a while.  The times are too serious.  The needs and dilemmas are too large.  We want to feel like we are actually learning something about how to think and how to be and what to do.  Ours is an era starved for substance – for guidance, for content.  Shallow dives don’t work, and won’t work in such a time of uncertainty.

It is a new era starved for substance.  And that is both a signal of worry, and a sign of hope.


To purchase my synopsis of The Coming Generational Storm, with audio+ handout, go to

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