Tag Archives: #businessbooksummaries

Four elements that can inform a productive, effective planning session – Consider these the essentials

I am scheduled to speak to the leadership team of a small, but highly successful, business.Four Essential Books

They are going into a day of planning.  They wanted a presentation that would focus their efforts effectively.  Here’s what I came up with as the outline for my presentation; four key points:

#1 – How to stay on the same big-picture page; the big objectives of the team.

#2 – How to measure your progress toward the big objectives.

#3 – How to help each team member do his/her best by practicing radical candor.

(Yes, mainly from the book Radical Candor:  the formula is:
Care Personally + Challenge Directly.
(Kind of how every person on the team helps coach every other person on the team).

#4 – How to provide exceptional customer service.

Sure, there are other elements that should, and must, be developed in a successful enterprise.  But these four are truly essential; even foundational..

Try reversing it, this way:

#1 — How to provide exceptional customer service.
#2 – What kind of team peer-coaching produces better customer service?
#3 – What do you have to keep measuring to make sure your customers are highyly satisified?
#4 – What big objectives drive this kind of measurement?

Focusing with such clarity informs the discussions throughout the day of planning, and makes for a much more productive outcome.

And each of these four have plenty of books to support the ideas, including:  Start With Why; Measure What Matters; Radical Candor; and The Disney Way…among others.


I have presented synopses of each of these four books.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation.  Click here to search by title.  And click here for our newest additions. — We present synopses of two new books every month at the First Friday Book Synopsis, based in Dallas; currently over Zoom.


Here is the April, 2021 New York Times list of Best-Selling Business Books – Atomic Habits by James Clear is back at the #1 Spot

Atomic HabitsThe New York Times has just published its list of best-selling business books for April, 2021.

Atomic Habits is back again at the top spot, after a one-month drop, behind the new Bill gates book.  This month, Bill Gates is at #3.

Of the ten books, five are written by women authors.  This may be the highest number of women authors I have seen in this top ten list.  …Progress.

And, of the ten books, we have presented five of them at the First Friday Book Synopsis. At our monthly gatherings, now in our 24th year, we present two synopses each month.  I have presented Atomic Habits, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Dare to Lead, and Extreme Ownership.  My former colleague, Karl Krayer, presented Thinking, Fast and Slow.

this is the book that we started with in 2019

Here is this month’s list of best-selling business books from the New York TimesClick over to their site for a link to a review of one of these books.

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#2 – Everything Will Be Okay by Dana Perino
#3 – How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
#4 – Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
#5 – Believe It by Jamie Kern
#6 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#7 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#8 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#9 – A World Without Email by Cal Newport
#10 – Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche


You can purchase my synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation made at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.
Think Again by Adam Grant, and Business Made Simple by Donald Miller, the two books I presented at the March 5 session of our monthly event, are now available. The two books I presented in March, the Bill Gates book, and the book 2030, on trends, by Mauro Guillén, will be available soon.

Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – Here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways

HowToAvoidAClimateDisaster_Banner_1800x1200px (002)• There are two numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51 billion. The other is zero.
• Fifty-one billion is how many tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere every year. Zero is what we need to aim for.  
• This sounds difficult, because it will be. The world has never done anything quite this big. • Every country will need to change its ways.
But we can’t solve a problem like climate change without an honest accounting of how much we need to do and what obstacles we need to overcome.  
• To sum up: We need to accomplish something gigantic we have never done before, much faster than we have ever done anything similar. To do it, we need lots of breakthroughs in science and engineering. We need to build a consensus that doesn’t exist and create public policies to push a transition that would not happen otherwise.
Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster


It’s a subtle, but very real shift.

In Bill Gates’ book How to Avoid a Climate Disaaster, Mr. Gates spends no time making the case that climate change is real.  He just accepts that it is; and now our job is to avoid the catastrophic consequences of doing…not enough.

In other words, he treats the “debate” on whether or not climate change is real as over, and now he says “what shall we do about it?”.  He writes: The earth is warming, it’s warming because of human activity, and the impact is bad and will get much worse. We have every reason to believe that at some point the impact will be catastrophic. …Despite the scientific uncertainties that remain, we understand enough to know that what’s coming will be bad.

I presented my synopsis of this book last Friday at the April, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (which was the beginning of our 24th year of monthly gatherings, by the way).

The recently-published book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, has already received much discussion, and was #1 on the March, 2021 New York Times list of best-selling business books.

As always, in my synopses, I ask “what is the point?” of this book.  Here is my answer for this book:  Because of climate change, the climate, and thus the planet, is headed toward disaster; creating disaster for many, many people.  We can still act.  Here’s how. 

And I ask “Why is this book worth our time?” Here are my three answers for this book:

#1 – This book is a comprehensive, yet readable, treatment of the climate challenges.
#2 – This book provides a hopeful strategy for action. Not easy; not quick; but hopeful.
#3 – This book will remind you that this is a world-wide challenge; a true international set of issues.  We need to look at this very broad view with an open mind.

I always include a number of highlighted passages from the books I present.  Here are the best of the highlighted passages I included in this synopsis:

• Everything I’ve learned about climate and technology makes me optimistic that we can invent them, deploy them, and, if we act fast enough, avoid a climate catastrophe.   
• Eventually it sank in. The world needs to provide more energy so the poorest can thrive, but we need to provide that energy without releasing any more greenhouse gases.  It wasn’t enough to deliver cheap, reliable energy for the poor. It also had to be clean.
• We need new tools for fighting climate change: zero-carbon ways to produce electricity, make things, grow food, keep our buildings cool and warm, and move people and goods around the world. And we need new seeds and other innovations to help the world’s poorest people—many of whom are smallholder farmers—adapt to a warmer climate. pg. 13 
• I know innovation isn’t the only thing we need. But we cannot keep the earth livable without it. …Techno-fixes are not sufficient, but they are necessary.
• The bad news: Getting to zero will be really hard. 
The good news: We can do it.  
• There’s no scenario in which we keep adding carbon to the atmosphere and the world stops getting hotter, and the hotter it gets, the harder it will be for humans to survive, much less thrive.  
• In climate terms, a change of just a few degrees is a big deal. During the last ice age, the average temperature was just 6 degrees Celsius lower than it is today. During the age of the dinosaurs, when the average temperature was perhaps 4 degrees Celsius higher than today, there were crocodiles living above the Arctic Circle.  
• To have any hope of staving off disaster, the world’s biggest emitters—the richest countries—have to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. I’ve heard people object to the idea that rich countries should go first: It’s not simply because we’ve caused most of the problem. It’s also because this is a huge economic opportunity: The countries that build great zero-carbon companies and industries will be the ones that lead the global economy in the coming decades. 
• By 2060, the world’s building stock—a measure that factors in the number of buildings and their size—will double. That’s like putting up another New York City every month for 40 years, and it’s mainly because of growth in developing countries like China, India, and Nigeria.  
• We’re using more natural gas and less coal to generate electricity. Why? Because new drilling techniques made it much cheaper. It was a matter of economics, not the environment. 
• We have a large and understandable incentive to stick with what we know, even if what we know is killing us.    
• People cut down trees not because people are evil; they do it when the incentives to cut down trees are stronger than the incentives to leave them alone.

In the book, he teaches us much.  For example, what creates the most greenhouse emissions?  Here are the percentages:

  • Making things (cement, steel, plastic) — 31% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Plugging in (electricity) — 27% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Growing things (plants, animals) — 19% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Getting around (planes, trucks, cargo ships) — 16% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Keeping warm and cool (heating, cooling, refrigeration) — 7% of all greenhouse emissions

He really does argue that we have to get to zero emissions.  He tells what I call the parable of the bathtub…  The climate is like a bathtub that’s slowly filling up with water. Even if we slow the flow of water to a trickle, the tub will eventually fill up and water will come spilling out onto the floor. That’s the disaster we have to prevent. …To avoid a climate disaster, we have to get to zero. We need to deploy the tools we already have, like solar and wind, faster and smarter. And we need to create and roll out breakthrough technologies that can take us the rest of the way. The case for zero was, and is, rock solid.

Here are a few of his other key points:

  • Five Questions to ask in every climate conversation:

            #1 — How Much of the 51 Billion Tons Are We Talking About?

  • Tip: Whenever you see some number of tons of greenhouse gases, convert it to a percentage of 51 billion, which is the world’s current yearly total emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents).

            #2 — What’s Your Plan for Cement?

            #3 — How Much Power Are We Talking About?

  • Tip: Whenever you hear “kilowatt,” think “house.” “Gigawatt,” think “city.” A hundred or more gigawatts, think “big country.”

            #4 — How Much Space Do You Need?

  • Tip: If someone tells you that some source (wind, solar, nuclear, whatever) can supply all the energy the world needs, find out how much space will be required to produce that much energy.

            #5 — How Much Is This Going to Cost?

  • Here’s a summary of all five tips: Convert tons of emissions to a percentage of 51 billion. Remember that we need to find solutions for all five activities that emissions come from: making things, plugging in, growing things, getting around, and keeping cool and warm. Kilowatt = house. Gigawatt = mid-size city. Hundreds of gigawatts = big, rich country. Consider how much space you’re going to need. Keep the Green Premiums in mind and ask whether they’re low enough for middle-income countries to pay.
  • Pay attention to the green premium
  • this is the difference between what we pay now vs. what we would pay with green technology. (think cost per mile for gas-driven car vs. electric powered car). The difference is the green premium. (R.M.; Let me tell you about my wife’s preferred coffee. $8.00 at Kroger; $16.00 for the fair-trade coffee from our coffee expert.The “coffee premium” is $8.00).
  • Where do we need to focus our research and development spending, our early investors, and our best inventors? Answer: wherever we decide Green Premiums are too high.
  • Local governments are going to have to play a big role…
  • Local governments play an important role in determining how buildings are constructed and what kinds of energy they use, whether buses and police cars run on electricity, whether there’s a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and how waste gets managed. 
  • And national governments also. In short, every national government needs to do three things.
  • First, make it a goal to get to zero—by 2050 for rich countries, and as soon after 2050 as possible for middle-income countries.
  • Second, develop specific plans for meeting those goals. To get to zero by 2050, we’ll need to have the policy and market structures in place by 2030.
  • And third, any country that’s in a position to fund research needs to make sure it’s on track to make clean energy so cheap—to reduce the Green Premiums so much—that middle-income countries will be able to get to zero.
  • When it comes to scaling up new technologies, the federal government plays the largest role of anyone.

And here are my five lessons and takeaways:

#1 – We have talked about this for too long, without truly acting.  It is time to act (before it is truly too late).
#2 – Personal behavioral change will not be enough. We need national and international behavioral change, and new BIG innovation efforts.
#3 – Conservation efforts and some cleaning up will not be enough,.  We need true technological breakthroughs.
#4 – For true progress to be made, it is going to take everybody working on it together; individuals; corporations; every level and lever of government (local; state; national; international agencies; and governments in every country).
#5 – This is not a nice thing to think about. This is, literally, life and death for many, many people; and for our very planet’s future.

What Bill Gates says in this book is that we have to quit putting greenhouse emissions into our atmosphere as much as we possibly can; and then we have to remove the emissions we can’t fully stop from adding to the atmosphere.

It is a big job.  But he believes that we have capability to pull this off.

Let’s hope he is right.


My synopsis of this book will soon be available for purchase.  All of my synopses come with my comprehensive, multi-page handouts, and the audio recording of my presentation.
Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.

Kim Scott, Just Work; and Julia Galef, The Scout Mindset – for the May 7, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (On Zoom) – In our 24th Year

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

Randy Mayeux provides a thorough synopsis of the content of a useful, best-selling business book. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.





For the May 7, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis, I have selected two good books by influential women authors. I will present my synopses of:FFBS slide for SND April, 2021 meeting

 Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair by Kim Scott. St. Martin’s Press. 2021.
The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t by Julia Galef. Portfolio. 2021.

Kim Scott’s first book, Radical Candor, is a much-discussed, and highly practicable book for leaders and managers.  I am quite high on the value of this book, recommend it frequently; and I have presented my synopsis of this book to many leadership teams.  So I am fully expecting this book to be just as valuable.

And The Scout Mindset is a book with plenty of pre-publication buzz.

I can’t wait to delve into both books.

We are continuing to meet on Zoom.  The Zoom info is below.

I will e-mail the link to download the two handouts the day before the event.

And, though there is no charge to attend, if you would like to participate financially, (maybe a $12.00 participation), you can do so thorough PayPal by clicking here.  Or, you can send money through Zelle at .

We have around 100 people join us on Zoom each month.  Please plan to be with us on May 7. And, please invite many to join in with us.

{Special Note:  Karl Krayer will present a “bonus synopsis” at 9:30, following our regular program and discussion}.

Let’s keep learning – there’s always the next new thing to learn.


Zoom info:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: May 7, 2021  – First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: May 7, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 862 9640 4061
Passcode: 456017

One tap mobile

+13462487799,,86296404061#,,,,*456017# US (Houston)
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Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
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Meeting ID: 862 9640 4061
Passcode: 456017

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kR6K8T4LB


Reminder: you can purchase our synopses (comprehensive, multi-page handouts, plus audio recordings). Click on the Buy Synopses tab at the top of this page and search by title. Or, click here for our newest additions.

Download the two Synopses Handouts for April’s First Friday Book Synopsis, April 2, 2021 – How to Avoid a Climate Crisis, Bill Gates; and 2030 by Marco Guillén

Note: tomorrow’s gathering, we begin Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

April, 2021 FFBS slide








You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis
Friday, April 2, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time), 
on Zoom
I hope you can join us!

Karl Krayer will share some special memories; and Randy Mayeux will present synopses of important and informative books.


Click on image to download both synopsis handouts

Click on image to download both synopsis handouts

Two good books: April 2, 2021 – on Zoom

1. 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillén.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates. Knopf. 2021.

Randy Mayeux will present both synopses.


Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

This Friday, April 2, 2021 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses:
April 2, 2021 – Zoom
1. 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillén.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates. Knopf. 2021.
Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, April 2, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Click here to join in on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538


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. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, and we will begin the program right 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: April 2, 2021 – First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Apr 2, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,86455424962#,,,,*263538# US (Houston)
+12532158782,,86455424962#,,,,*263538# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbmIdrRFbX


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” through 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.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek – Here are My Four Lessons and Takeaways

it all starts with Why

it all starts with Why

By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.
Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, TED.com

When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money—that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? 
Simon Sinek, Start with Why


First , you ___________.

What do you do first?
Where do you start?
What do you have to get right first?

In business, in any organization, in life, you have to ask the why question.

I ___________, therefore I am.
We __________, therefore we are in business.

There is a useful perennial best-selling business book that seeks to help us grasp the centrality of this question; the now modern-day business-book classic Start With Why by Simon Sinek.  I presented my synopsis of this book back at the November, 2017 First Friday Book Synopsis.  But I was behind the curve on that that one.  The book was published in 2009, and we just had not selected it at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I’m glad I finally chose to do so.

And, I also failed to write my usual “here are my lessons and takeaways” blog post.  I’m fixing that now.

The full title is worth noting: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.  In other words, your “why” is critical; your why inspires action for you, and for everyone in the organizaiton.

As I always do in my synopses, I always answer this question:  Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – We need help understanding why some leaders, and some companies, are “better” than others.  This books helps us find the answer to that question.
#2 – Maybe the life cycle of companies is naturally away from the original “WHY.”  And when the original WHY is lost, it’s a serious loss!
#3 – Only the “WHY” inspires passion, better action, much better employee and customer loyalty.  This book will help you pursue that kind of WHY…

And I include some Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlights.  Here are a few I included in my synopsis:

• However, if we’re starting with the wrong questions, if we don’t understand the cause, then even the right answers will always steer us wrong . . . eventually
• How did the Wright brothers succeed where a better-equipped, better-funded and better-educated team could not? It wasn’t luck. …Only the Wright brothers started with Why.
• All the inspiring leaders and companies, regardless of size or industry, think, act and communicate exactly alike. And it’s the complete opposite of everyone else.
• There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.
• When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. And for good reason. Manipulations work. 
• There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you.
• This is what we mean when we talk about winning hearts and minds. The heart represents the limbic, feeling part of the brain, and the mind is the rational, language center.
• I can’t help but wonder if the order of the expression “hearts and minds” is a coincidence. Why does no one set out to win “minds and hearts”?
• As I’ve discussed, when the WHY is absent, imbalance is produced and manipulations thrive.
Starting with WHY is just the beginning. There is still work to be done before a person or an organization earns the right or ability to inspire. 
• It all starts with clarity. You have to know WHY you do WHAT you do.
• For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.”
• Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe. A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions—everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture and whom you hire.
• As with all decisions, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, and WHAT you do serves as the tangible proof of WHY you do it. But unless you start with WHY, all people have to go on are the rational benefits. And chances are you won’t get a second date.

Here are a few of the points and  principles from the book:

  • The point of the book is… The Golden Circle –
  • WHY first, then WHAT, then HOW
  • Aim for “actionable” – think verbs…
  • “Do the right thing(s)” vs. “always honest”
  • The “clichés” and oft-repeated stories work, because…”
  • “I’m building a cathedral”
  • Build a megaphone that works…
  • Clarity of purpose, cause or belief is important, but it is equally important that people hear you.
  • And here are my four Lessons and takeaways:

#1 – The leaders job is to grasp, instill, model the “WHY” at the center of your organization.
#2 – The leader’s job is to make sure that people on the team grasp and share this WHY.
#3 – The leader’s job is to make sure that the “How” and the “WHAT” are done well; but, only after connected to, and always flowing from, the WHY.
#4 – If you have a clear WHY in your organization, then consider yourself extremely fortunate and lucky.  It is rare to work in an organization with such a clear WHY.

This is a book worth reading.  It will make you stop, and think:  “What is my why? Especially at work?”  Get your why right, and everything else falls into place.  It may not all be easy; but it will make more sense.


My synopsis of this book is available for purchase.  All of my synopses come with my comprehensive, multi-page handouts, and the audio recording of my presentation.
Click here for my synopsis of Start with Why.
Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.