Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Book Review: Who's Got Your Back?

I didn't (haven't yet) read Keith Ferrazi's first book, Never Eat Alone. It's sitting here on my shelf (I can see it), but I never cracked it; it was an unfortunate victim of my shift to strictly electronic books and so it's sort of been caught in limbo (sorry, Keith).

Keith's new book, Who's Got Your Back?, had dropped across my radar after reading about it on some blogs, but it wasn't until I listened to Keith's appearance on the first Author Teleseminar with Seth Godin and some others that I knew that I wanted to read the book. In the recording that I was listening to, Keith was talking about "lifeline relationships", the success of forums at the YPO and EO, and how important it is to have strong, trusting group relationships that encourage success and mitigate failure. The timing was interesting for me because I've been evaluating joining groups such as YPO and Vistage, along with re-evaluating the dynamics of interaction within my company.

This book sat on the list on my Kindle for a few days and jumped into it at the gym I couldn't put it down. Unlike some business books that are compelling for the first few pages and then spend the remaining hundred plus pages hammering home the same point, Keith provides useful content and real-world examples throughout the course of the book. Although many other reviewers have criticized Keith for gratuitous name dropping throughout the book, I look at the name dropping as affirmation that Keith is presenting sound concepts that are agreed to be powerful people throughout the world.

There is a good mix of tactical and actionable steps along with theory and real-world examples that make this book one that I will continue to come back to as a strong reference tool. For me personally, I was able to use the book not only to understand more completely how my business teams could be incredibly stronger through lifeline relationships, but also how much I am missing those same kinds of relationships outside my organization; it also helped me more fully realize the value of professional organizations such as Vistage and the YPO (not that you necessarily need them, but it does make you more fully understand what they are trying to accomplish).

Whether you fully embrace everything that Keith has to say in his book is entirely up to you. However, even if you don't believe all of it, there are some worthwhile take-aways:
  • Four Mindsets to building lifeline relationships: intimacy, generosity, vulnerability, and candor. (How many of these mindsets permeate your relationship interactions?)
  • The need for healthy conflict, what Keith terms "sparring".
  • Active listening and the importance of engaging in it.
  • Leading by example.
  • Happiness and meaning in what you are doing; following dreams.
  • Commitment, accountability, and ownership.
  • The dramatic importance of teams vs. flying solo -- how a team working together can produce vastly greater results than individuals working separately.
There's a lot more than the list above, of course, but my guess is that everything above is enough to get you to read the book. Here's the main thing that Keith wants you to take away from the book: "I hope you'll take away the idea that there is great power in vulnerability (the one mind-set with a bad rap)." My guess is that if you are like me, you never thought of vulnerability as a powerful leadership characteristic -- go pick up a copy of the book.

Kindle version available.

Link -- Amazon

Link -- Kindle version

Link -- Keith Ferrazzi promotion for buying 3 copies (free teleseminar and other items)

PS -- outside of how I will apply the principles of this book in the company where I work, the big thing that this book did was help me crystallize some thoughts that I have had for many years about a vacuum in my industry and provided a road map for creating a group, organization, whatever you want to call it to fill the vacuum. I'm excited about the project and I've invited some really talented people to help me with it. It will start out small (5-6 people to begin with) and will scale from there; I hope to share the project and process with you on this blog at some point in the future.

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