PROFESSIONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
With Industry Leaders
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
HV Mfg asked the manufacturing community to recommend a book, article, or podcast that impacted them personally or professionally.
Kristine Young – President, SUNY Orange
The Title: Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do
The Authors: Studs Turkel
A Brief Summary: This seminal nonfiction book is a collection of stories of real people describing their real jobs and their real thoughts about their jobs and the world and lives connected to those jobs during the early 1970s.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: I’ll forever be grateful for having been assigned this book as an 18-year old, first-year college student in the early 1990s, as it shaped my view of the working world and the people in it. I remember reading and re-reading sections over and over again, staggered by the lack of dignity with which some humans treated others as they worked.
I was astounded by the mundane nature of work which some individuals tolerated in order to win a paycheck for their survival and the survival of their families. I immediately felt the privilege of being a residential college student being cared for by cafeteria workers, custodians, and others and resolved to earnestly talk with and learn from these employees just as I would my professors.
These years later, Mr. Turkel’s work is deeply baked into the way I approach workforce development as a community college president. I feel we must always keep in mind the dignity and rich humanness of the workforce we seek to develop in our communities, and be ready to learn from those we seek to develop. As we design curriculum and learning experiences, Studs is right there with me.
Alan Seidman – President Construction Contractors Association
The Title: Killing Crazy Horse
The Authors: Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
A Brief Summary: Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard chronicle the history of our country’s founding and expansion, on lands that were already populated by Native Americans. From General Andrew Jackson’s brutal battles with the Creek Nation to President James Monroe’s epic “sea to shining sea” policy to President Martin Van Buren’s cruel enforcement of a “treaty” that forced the Cherokee Nation out of their homelands along what would be called the Trail of Tears.
Readers go behind the legends that many of us were taught in school to reveal little known historical moments in the fascinating creation story of America.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: This book provides a graphic description of how our country was geographically enlarged through violence, imprisonment, and murder. All of which were fully authorized and endorsed by the American Government of the time.
I can’t help but compare this story with how my own ancestors fled Eastern Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They came to this country to flee the same type of violence and massacre as the American Government committed upon the Native Americans.
In this time of increasing social action, the crimes committed against Native Americans should not be overlooked.
Donald Hahn – Sales Manager Ignition Life Solutions
The Title: Traction
The Author: Gino Wickman
A Brief Summary: A well written account of pitfalls causing business enterprises to stall or fail. Traction looks at the six primary pillars of any enterprise and discusses the reasons companies fail and what they can do to sustain improvement. There have been many strategic planning and innovation books written, but none have come close to the practical applications discussed in Traction.
The premise is that all company’s grow as they are beset by challenges and opportunity. Virtually every company reaches a point where their processes seem to falter, market conditions impact their profitability, or they are unable to scale to keep up with demand. Gino Wickman discusses that there are six primary pillars of a business: your ability to align and focus your team using standard KPI’s; well documented processes; frequent and consistent feedback; attracting and developing great talent; aligned to a common purpose; and passion, are the building blocks of all successful companies.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: This book provides the best opportunity to instill a healthy, change-ready organization as it applies many of the principles found in ISO, Six Sigma, and Operational Excellence to transform a company in about six months. This is Michael Gerber’s Emyth; Simon Sinek’s Begin With Why; and Jim Collins’ Good to Great all wrapped up in a simple straight-forward system designed to raise the bar. I have trained in strategy and innovation and change management and growth for over 20 years and this is the only tool you need to adopt. SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD and EFFECTIVE.
Stephen Pomeroy – President Schatz Bearing
The Title: How to Survive a Pandemic
The Author: Michael Greger, MD
A Brief Summary: The author provides a history of human viruses, an explanation of the origin of pandemics, current practices that puts us at risk for the next pandemic, ways to be prepared, and steps to take to prevent future pandemics.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: First of all, I appreciate that we’re all tired of hearing about COVID-19. We all want to go back to our normal lives. I get it and I’m with you.
However, it would be a mistake if the only takeaways from the last couple of years are that we can develop vaccines quickly and have disaster preparedness plans ready to go when needed. It would also be a mistake to think that it will be 100 years until something like this happens again or that COVID-19 is as bad as it could get. Although a small portion of this book is devoted to preparing for a pandemic, this is not a “prepper” book. It also doesn’t focus on who is responsible for COVID-19.
The book gives a fascinating history of the common threads in the origins of human viruses. The best way to avoid repeating history is to understand it. Even if you’re convinced that COVID-19 came from a lab in Wuhan, an intentional or accidental release from a lab isn’t the only way or even the most likely way the next pandemic will start. The best way to avoid being harmed by the next pandemic is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This book makes the case that the global community, including the U.S., needs to make some changes or it will just be a matter of time before history repeats itself.
Harold King – President, Council of Industry
The Title: The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.
The Author: Joseph Henrich
A Brief Summary: The WEIRDest People in the World is an example of “big history.” Similar to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (which I also enjoyed) it draws on a wide variety of data–including creative empirical research (e.g., studies of which United Nations delegations were most likely to pay New York parking tickets despite having diplomatic immunity) – to post a provocative explanation for major historical developments.
A cornerstone of Heinrich’s theory is that the Catholic Church’s marriage policy in the middle ages that, among other things, limited cousin marriage and banned polygamy broke down clan based cultures and led to more community-based, cooperative cultures. The “WEIRD” from this title is an acronym meaning “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic,” as well a reminder that people from these societies are psychologically different from most of the world, and from most humans throughout history.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: On a macro level, as we begin to face the challenges of a post pandemic world – a world that at once seems both more collaborative and more confrontational – I found this study of the origins of “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic” societies to be a valuable tool to help understand what makes people different – and the same. Henrich goes to great lengths to say that WEIRD psychology is different, not better or worse, but different. Understanding and bridging those differences will be essential if we are to address the global economic, health, and climate challenges we are facing.
On a more personal level, and perhaps this is an indication of my own biases, I appreciated the author unraveling the historical events that led to nearly universal literacy and what we now call “work ethic.” WEIRD Societies are far from ideal, but, and these are my thoughts, not the authors, they have brought great freedom and prosperity to the people who live in them.
Neil McGill – Director of Operations, Allendale Machine Systems
The Title: Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
The Author: Simon Sinek
A Brief Summary: Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.
Start With Why shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way – and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: After reading the book and discussing it in a leadership group that I am part of, it really had me thinking about why Allendale does what it does. When I started talking about this with my leadership team it made us realize that if we concentrate on the WHY we could create a company that was more impactful to our employees and customers.
As I read other leadership and business books I find that they all revolve around the idea of WHY, they just present it in their own way.
Steven Effron – President, Effron Products
The Title: The Spy and the Traitor – The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War
The Author: Ben Macintyre
A Brief Summary: This nonfiction thriller shares the story of Oleg Gordievsky, a Soviet KGB agent who rose through the ranks of the Soviet spy agency from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Gordievsky secretly starts working for the British and provides key information that foils Soviet plots, exposed their spies, and ultimately avoided global thermonuclear war between the US and the USSR. Macintyre’s biography is full of intrigue, incredibly fast paced, and contains an absolutely thrilling escape story.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: One of the key takeaways from The Spy and Traitor was to see the amount of time, patience, intelligence, and sophistication of the spy tradecraft, especially in the way that British agents worked to cultivate Gordievsky after he became disillusioned with the Soviet Union. I was equally fascinated reading Agent Sonya, another book written by Ben Macintyre. Agent Sonya profiled a Soviet agent who lived in England and provided key nuclear intelligence to the Soviets after WW2.
A key theme of this book is the understanding that sometimes there can be misconceptions about intentions and it is critical to make sure that you have a comprehensive understanding of your opponent’s (or business partner’s) perception of your message. Without this connectivity and information, there is a likelihood to go down a path of escalation or deterioration of a relationship. This book brought reminders of key lessons in patience while trying to find reliable sources of information. I found this to be especially relevant to today’s international relations between the US, Russia, and the UK.
Susan Dean – Director of Operations, NY Metro, McKesson Corporation
The Title: Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
The Author: Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown
A Brief Summary: Have you ever wondered what it is about some managers that you love to work for while others you dread? Wonder no more! The leaders that you love to work for are defined as Multipliers – leaders who empower and are able to motivate workers to achieve their best. Opposite Multipliers are Diminishers. They are those leaders who are self-focused and may have difficulty motivating their team. As highlighted in the book, the ability of Multipliers to empower their team typically results in their ability to do more with less.
The Five Disciplines of Multipliers as outlined in the book are to (1) Attract and optimize talent, (2) Require people’s best thinking, (3) Extend challenges, (4) Debate decisions, and (5) Instill accountability.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: I have worked for 3 leaders during my career that have challenged me to do my best work. Reading and learning about Multipliers helped me to gain an additional perspective of why these leaders are so good in their ability to empower their teams. This understanding is helpful in the journey to great leadership!
Chris Rodrigue – Director of Operations, Ametek Rotron
The Title: Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation
The Author: James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones
A Brief Summary: “Lean Thinking” is a term first used by James Womack and Daniel Jones to describe their study of the Toyota Production System and the concepts that allowed Toyota to grow into the company it is today. Utilizing an organizations most valuable resource, its people, Lean Principles can be deployed through tools like Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen to improve value as it relates to the organization, its employees, and customers. Womack and Jones explore these tools and put together a framework for Continuous Improvement that is applicable to any business sector. Lean Practitioners often refer to Lean Thinking as the Lean Bible.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: Early in my career I was trying to set myself apart from others in a competitive job market. At the time, I was reading anything I could get my hands on to differentiate myself.
Lean Thinking was one of the books I picked up and immediately gravitated toward the teachings and philosophy. I felt as though I had unlocked a secret formula that if applied correctly, could help any organization become more competitive it their market segment.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work in and deploy Lean tools in Government, Health Care, and Manufacturing. While at first glance one may ask, what do they all have in common? Many would say nothing. However, they are all made up of process steps and customers that define value. Once this is understood, lean tools can help in reducing the non-value-added steps and maximizing the ones the customer is willing to pay for. Lean Thinking has shown me the symbiotic relationship between an organization, its employees, and its customers. If done correctly, all three will benefit from “Lean Thinking”. I surely have.