Archive 2012

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Often we think of reading as a leisurely activity that only people who have lots of free time on their hands can afford to pursue. If you’re running a business, you’re probably not one of those people, but you still need to make time to read. Reading is a magnificent way to get out of the rut of merely running your business – and to get on track to growing your business.

Score, a nonprofit organization that helps start-ups gain momentum, recently published an article by getAbstract’s Michel Koopman explaining how reading books may result in the growth of your business.

RIP Zig Ziglar


Serial best-selling author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has died at age 86. A World War II veteran, Ziglar began his career as a salesman before he eventually became a vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance Company. Ziglar printed his first book, See You at the Top, in 1975. Some 30 publishers rejected it before it became a runaway success. The experience taught the ever-optimistic Ziglar the importance of perseverance.

Ziglar dedicated his life to motivating his readers and listeners. He encouraged his fans to take control of their careers and to improve their selling techniques. A devout Christian, Ziglar always had a positive outlook on life, and he passed it along to his readers through his upbeat sales and career books

Ziglar is survived by his wife, Jean, his son, Tom Ziglar, and his daughter, Cindy Ziglar Oates.

To become inspired by some of Ziglar’s motivational literature, take a look at these links:

Ziglar on Selling

See You at the Top

Steps to the Top

Selling 101

You’re at the airport, checking Twitter updates on your phone while you’re waiting for your departure. Suddenly, you realize that you’re drowning in a pool of information. News from a blaring TV hits you, your e-reader is in your carry-on, you just checked your phone’s news app, and you bought a business magazine, just in case you get bored on your flight.

Does this sound familiar? It’s called information overload, and in today’s saturated landscape, it can happen to anyone. To stay afloat, you need to learn to be selective in what media you choose to consume.

To discover how to tackle information overload, read getAbstract, Inc.’s CEO Michel Koopman’s thoughts on the issue at Upstart Business Journal


Donald N. Thompson, author of Oracles, makes a shrewd cultural observation about the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which airs in 80 countries around the world. The quiz makes use of “lifelines,” opportunities for contestants to ask for assistance in answering trivia questions; guessing correctly determines whether they win an increasing amount of money and move to the next question, or lose their winnings and leave the game. The questions get harder as the money at stake increases, so contestants try to use their lifelines strategically as they approach the $1 million mark. One lifeline includes an audience poll, which typically generates an accurate answer about 90% of the time, except in two countries with different cultural biases: French audiences give misleading answers to easier, low-value questions when they think the contestants should be able to answer them on their own. However, the French audience members do try to answer more difficult questions correctly. Russian audiences almost always provide wrong answers because they don’t believe an individual should profit from the work of the group.

Generally, the wisdom of the crowd will generate a more accurate estimation than the wisdom of individual experts. If you wish to apply the wisdom of the crowd to your organization’s decision making, take a look at these titles. Even the French and the Russians will learn some new tips:

The Wisdom of Crowds

We Are Smarter Than Me

The Perfect Swarm

And, coming soon to getAbstract, Oracles by Donald N. Thompson

Numerous approaches to sales exist. However, many of the most successful salespeople are “Challengers.” These individuals teach their clients, and they earn the right to challenge their prospects in a respectful way during the sales process. Challengers tailor their value propositions and understand their clients’ needs to create a positive impact. Challengers also take control of the sales cycle by driving each step forward without fear and with client buy-in. You will become a Challenger only if you are purpose-driven and if you focus on building trust with your client.

In a recent article for Under30CEO, Michel Koopman, getAbstract Inc. CEO, wrote about the Challenger sales personality and several other key attributes that great sales representative need to succeed. To find out more, click here:

“No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has secured re-election at a time when unemployment was higher than 7.2%,” they said. President Barack Obama now has nullified that statistic, which has haunted him since he embarked on his re-election campaign. In a tightly contested presidential race, Obama clearly defeated his Republican opponent, Governor Mitt Romney, to retain his job for a second term. Though it seemed America was ripe for change, the challenger was left wanting.

The United States has endured a tough four years economically, socially and politically. Obama’s experience, passion, oratory and ability to connect to everyday citizens garnered confidence from a diverse coalition of American voters. Perhaps a stronger Republican candidate could have toppled the Obama administration but now the Grand Old Party faces the soul-searching journey of deciding whether to become more moderate – as Romney did starting with the first presidential debate having swung to the right to win his party’s nomination – or to move more to the right, along the lines of Tea Party budget star and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (who did not carry even his home state of Wisconsin). One favorite question among the conjecturing classes: Would Romney have fared better, particularly in the Midwest, if he’d chosen respected Ohio Sen. Rob Portman instead?

In fact, now that the election is done, the American body politic can move full bore onto its second favorite indoor sport: speculation. We expect Sunday morning TV pundits (or in New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin’s words, “Sabbath gasbags”) and the rest of the populace to ruminate without restraint. Look for musings about why Romney’s electoral projections were so off while Obama’s were spot on; about how the Democratic ground game triumphed at the grassroots level; about how the Republicans missed the diversity bandwagon but channeled white, middle-class fear; about what lessons both the president and his opponents learned from this grueling contest; and about who shoulda, coulda, woulda done what differently.

Meanwhile, as the country emerges from turbulent economic times and copes with a major natural disaster in the northeast region, the voters have clearly restated their belief in at least one hoary adage: Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Congratulations, President Obama!

To learn more about Barack Obama’s first term as president of the United States and the inner workings of his administration, read these titles:

Rebuild the Dream

Confidence Men

Obama’s Wars

Superman Quits


Even the strongest workers can get despondent at the office. Take Clark Kent, aka Superman. Despite working at The Daily Planet since DC Comics began producing the Superman series in the 1940s, in the saga’s newest twist, Kent decides the time has come to move on. Disgruntled by the newspaper’s recent preference for celebrity culture over real news, the star reporter resigns and bids adieu to Metropolis’s biggest newspaper. So much for Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.

On his way out, Kent lambasts the deterioration of modern journalism, at least in his world: “I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers – that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun…But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can’t be the only one who’s sick of what passes for news today.” In a modern twist, Kent will continue his journalism career online.

Kent leaves his job for moral reasons. Many people are discontent at work because they are disengaged, they don’t get along with a boss or colleague, they are exasperated by doing the same work day in, day out, or they are ready for a change. However, during an economic downturn, many employees are thankful just to have a job, even if it’s not the occupation of their dreams. And while no one should quit one job before securing another, if Clark Kent can find his inner self in a new gig, there’s hope also for those without a secret identity, steel muscles and a cape. If you feel ready to take the plunge, let these summaries help you fly:

Never Apply for a Job Again

The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention

Strategies for Successful Career Change

Mere mortals have on average 25,000 days on this planet. How many days can you afford to waste in a position where you are unhappy? Up, up and away.

Newsweek magazine’s owners and editors have made a final decision to halt the print edition of its iconic magazine following years of declining sales. The 80-year-old publication will be available only online after January 1, 2013; its December 31 edition will be the last to go to the presses. At the height of Newsweek’s popularity, it had a print run of three million copies a week and was the second most-popular magazine in the United States, behind Time. While sales of the magazine have dwindled to 1.5 million per week in recent years, Newsweek’s website currently attracts upward of 15 million visitors per month.

Newsweek’s decision epitomizes the influence the Internet has had on reporting and the way society consumes media. In an age when anyone with an Internet connection and an electronic device can contribute to online journalism, how can you verify the truth of news? And what are the consequences of media’s evolution on society? To read more about this debate, take a look at these summaries:

Too Big to Know


The Master Switch

The Shallows

The Information Diet

Good things happen in threes: Following an unlikely and awe-inspiring Ryder Cup victory at Medinah Country Club in Illinois last month, Europe was riding a morale-boosting high. Today the Nobel Committee in Oslo named the European Union as the recipient of its 2012 Peace Prize. The committee commended the EU for six decades of peace in a geographical zone that hitherto suffered centuries of warfare. According to Jean Monnet, one of the architects of European integration, “There will be no peace in Europe if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty…The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation or a European entity that would make them into a common economic unit.” His vision led to more than 60 years of continuing peacetime on the Continent.

Could the third installment of Europe’s serendipity be a stabilization of its currency and a resurgence of its weaker members? Unlikely, at least not right now, but at least no one is resorting to gunfire. While the launch of the European Stability Mechanism, a rescue fund, will grant some reprieve to struggling nations, Europe’s economic troubles are ongoing. This week Greece announced record unemployment of 25% (54% youth unemployment) and S&P cut the rating on Spanish debt from BBB+ to BBB-, one level above junk status. Europe may have established “peace in our time,” but the road to economic stability remains long and rocky.

To learn more about the breadth and depth of the euro crisis, take a look at these titles:

The End of the Euro



Woe Is Toyota


Toyota was once the paragon of high-quality manufacturing. Its “Toyota Way” set the standards in quality control. These days, however, the corporation’s “king of quality” crown has slid somewhat, and people now associate Toyota with recalls more than with excellence. In 2009, the manufacturer recalled 1.3 million cars in January due to a seatbelt fault and four million cars in September because of an accelerator defect. On October 10, 2012, Toyota announced a recall of 7.43 million cars due to a problem in numerous models’ window switches.

Although Toyota’s standards have slipped of late, it certainly has the knowledge to get back on top. The quality-control measures it spearheaded are timeless and applicable to any manufacturing firm. To learn more about quality control, take a look at these titles:

How to Implement Lean Manufacturing

Extreme Toyota

The Toyota Way

Indian Inspiration


An ancient Hindi proverb asks, “What does a monkey know of the taste of ginger?” In other words, how can you appreciate something wonderful if you don’t understand it? To grasp how India’s economy has grown so rapidly during the past 20 years, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have traveled to Mumbai and Delhi to attend the third annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting. Discussions will center on the reform of India’s retail sector, which now allows foreign participants to enter; India’s IT industry; and Indian access to US federal IT contracts, among other issues. However, with a US general election on the horizon, it is unlikely that the bilateral meeting will lead to significant immediate changes.

To learn more about India, you may want to visit the exotic subcontinent for yourself. As a first step, however, we recommend that you read these summaries:

The India Way

India, Inc.

Imagining India

October 5, 2012, marks the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death. And, boy, has Apple missed him! One year on, and what has the company – which is widely considered one of the world’s most avant-garde organizations – achieved? It released a sleek but somewhat underwhelming iPhone 5, and rumors circulate about the production of a smaller iPad – hardly earth-shattering innovations. Apple rushed out its map application, making it available before it was ready. Meanwhile, Apple’s launches and press conferences no longer create the air of anticipation that Jobs’s announcements commanded. Could it be that the tech world is a little lackluster without Jobs boldly blazing trails and speaking his mind?

Yet, while Apple finds its feet in a post-Steve Jobs world, it remains the most profitable company in the world. The development of its much-publicized television may put it back on track as the unquestioned leader in innovation.

To learn more about Jobs’s success and legacy, take a look at these titles:

Steve Jobs

The Steve Jobs Way

Inside Apple 

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The three oldest, continually operating companies in the world are all Japanese: Kongō Gumi, a construction firm, can trace its roots to 578. It ran as an independent entity for 1,400 years before a larger firm acquired it in 2006. It remains a wholly owned subsidiary. Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a hotel in Hayakawa. It first opened its doors in 705, making it the world’s oldest hotel still in business. Hoshi Ryokan is another ancient Japanese hotel, which launched when its founder, Garyo Hoshi, opened a guest house in 717 on its current site. Since Hoshi did not have an heir, he adopted a son to secure a successor. To date, 46 generations of owners have run the hotel.

Japan proudly protects its unique heritage and traditions. But the country is facing a demographic crisis: The birthrate is dwindling and the population is rapidly aging. According to BBC reporter Mariko Oi, sons inherit the family name in Japanese society. So what do traditional family businesses do in the absence of an heir apparent or in a situation where a son proves incapable of or uninterested in taking over the business? Many patriarchs with that problem take a leaf out of Hoshi’s book: They seek an adept grown man in his 20s or 30s, arrange a marriage with a daughter (when possible) and adopt the new son-in-law, who then takes his wife’s family name. This style of adoption is known as Mukoyoshi and is quite common in Japan. Osamu Suzuki, Suzuki’s current chairman and CEO, “is the fourth adopted son in a row to run the company.”

One reason Japanese businesses achieve such longevity is their attention to succession planning. To prepare your firm for a future without you at the helm, take a look at these titles:


The CEO Within

CEO Succession

German philosopher and theologian Johann Gottfried von Herder said, “Without inspiration, the best powers of the mind remain dormant; there is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” getAbstract, Inc.’s CEO, Michel Koopman, wrote an article for Strategy Magazine about using compressed knowledge to spark inspiration. Visit Strategy Magazine to read more.