Randy Mayes: Club could serve as an affordable staff development tool.
Online service distills books for busy professionals
By Nancy S. Chappell
An online joint venture between two local consultants is akin to CliffsNotes – with a kick – for businesspeople who have limited time available for reading.
Don Harkey, owner of Galt Consulting, and Randy Mayes, owner of The Success Coach Network, launched Leadership Book of the Month in January.
For $35 a month, each subscriber gets a copy of the book being reviewed, as well as a summary, analysis, and implementation suggestions from Harkey and Mayes as well as access to a book discussion forum that could be upgraded to a Webinar this summer.
Since launching www.leadershipbookofthemonth.com, more than 100 people have signed up. Mayes said most are in the free-trial stage, meaning they don’t receive a copy of the books, but five or six have transitioned to paid subscriptions.
Harkey said the club is in its soft-opening stage, so analyses and other information can be viewed for free, though books are provided only with a paid subscription.
“Initially, we’ve been giving away a lot,” he said, “We really just want to get the business owners or the business leaders to where they see it … . We think if we do that, everything else will come together.”
The idea for a leadership book club came out of both men’s experience working with successful businesspeople.
“One of the things that we find pretty common among business owners is that they’re very hungry for new ideas and concepts that they use to run their businesses,” Harkey said. “(But) they don’t have enough time to … find those ideas.”
Leadership Book of the Month is designed to help subscribers weed out unnecessary information and decide whether reading a particular book is worth their time.
“I just have time enough to run a business and work with my family and, you know, have a life, let alone read every business book that’s coming out,” said Michael Wehrenberg, president of Wehrenberg Design Co. and Leadership Book of the Month subscriber.
Harkey and Mayes comb the New York Times bestseller lists looking for books that have meaning and content.
“If it’s just a rehash of something somebody’s already said 100 times, it’s not really going to change the dynamics of the business market place,” Mayes said.
Among the books already featured is “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell.
This month’s book is “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
Subscribers receive a copy of the latest selection on the first Monday of each month, along with a short summary, analysis, book rating and a presentation of three key book concepts with feedback from Mayes and Harkey.
Their points of view are varied by their experience. Mayes built a multimillion-dollar janitorial supply business before becoming a business coach, and Harkey draws from the knowledge he gained during a decade as a supervisor and project manager with Fortune 500 companies. Then, too, there are the generational differences – Mayes is a baby boomer while Harkey is a member of Generation X – which are handy for Gary Whitaker, club subscriber and publisher of 417 Magazine.
“In our company, I’m the baby boomer older manager, but I manage primarily Gen X-ers. So I probably get the benefit of seeing it through Randy’s eyes as a contemporary, but I also benefit from Don’s interpretation of the book from my employees’ and associates’ eyes.”
On each of the three following Mondays, subscribers receive one action item.
“The weekly tagging of people adds an accountability portion,” Harkey said.
Wehrenberg said reading the Book of the Month material typically takes him 15 to 30 minutes.
“Every time I read a synopsis or some of the action items, I do them,” he said.
On the last Wednesday of each month, Mayes and Harkey lead a live dial-in teleforum discussion during which subscribers can ask questions.
The duo plan to upgrade the teleforum to Webinar – with visuals – in June or July.
At that time, the online materials will be locked down, and subscribers will have to log in. A month-long free subscription without the book will continue to be available.
Mayes and Harkey want to get corporate subscribers on board to use the service as a staff development tool.
“For the amount of money people spend on training for their companies, like sending people to Timbuktu and California and Orlando and wherever, you’re talking $35 a month, and you get the book,” Mayes said.[[In-content Ad]]