The commercial application of Greatest Hits

How Greatest Hits training can transform your business.

  • I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book
  • We discuss the content and its implications
  • Attendees have to work out how they can apply the thinking to their business, customers, clients, or staff
  • This generates a minimum of 10 ideas per book
  • Repeat 6-10 times and you have 60-100 ideas to stimulate the business
  • Over 200 books to choose from


number of view: 0


12 2012

Consiglieri – Richard Hytner

The one-sentence summary

Being a successful no.2 can be just as rewarding as being No.1.


  • This book is all about leading from the shadows, and it celebrates the role of the right-hand man, or consigliere (the name given to the closest adviser to mafia heads).
  • Much business writing emphasises that the key to success lies in getting to the top, but not everybody can be number one and, perhaps more importantly, not everyone wants to be.
  • Although it is easy to disparage the role of those who are ‘No.2’, these people often determine the fate of companies and countries.
  • “He’s a great no.2” is often regarded as synonymous with “He’ll never make no.1”, leading to what the author calls Second Syndrome.
  • In fact, As (top leaders) and Cs (consiglieri) share similar qualities founded on trust, credibility, confidence and emotional intelligence.
  • This can be expressed as an equation: LQ = TQ(C+C) x EQ, where:
  • LQ = Leadership Quotient
  • TQ = a multiple of your credibility times your confidence score
  • EQ = Emotional Quotient
  • Those with leadership aspirations should try both roles if possible before settling into one or the other.


  • The central message of the book is that the best leadership teams beat to a reciprocal drum. The A and C need to find out what makes each other tick.
  • Although leaders are often derided and regarded as selfish, they do in fact take many of the tasks and responsibilities that lesser mortals would not enjoy, nor possibly even be able to do.
  • Consiglieri enjoy spending a lifetime learning, bringing other people on, and from time to time making crucial interventions that have a deep bearing on what the A is doing.
  • To get the most out of everybody, consiglieri need to be at ease, reliable in their actions, driving new ideas, and brave enough at all times to tell the A what’s what. They are content, constant, catalytic and courageous.
  • There are many different types of consiglieri, including the lodestone (frees the A from management burdens), educators (inform and nurture), anchors (centres of authenticity), and deliverers (decisive influencers).
  • Helpful qualities for the C include knowing when to give counsel, knowing how to deliver bad news (well), and knowing when to stop.


  • Many of the examples are from politics, sport, and literature. It is pot luck what type you find stimulating.
  • Juggling large numbers of As and Cs can make some sentences hard to read at first until you get into a rhythm and familiar with the typologies.

number of view: 25


07 2014


  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin, 31,500 hits
  2. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony, 7,600
  3. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon, 5,900
  4. Adaptability, Max McKeown, 5,700
  5. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson, 5,200
  6. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis, 5,100
  7. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant, 5,000
  8. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely, 3,900
  9. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch, 3,300
  10. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin, 3,200
  11. 11.The Little Big Things, Tom Peters, 3,000
  12. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp, 2,700
  13. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2,700
  14. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple, 2,400
  15. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer, 2,100
  16. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry, 2,000
  17. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray , 1,800
  18. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al.  , 1,700
  19. Obliquity, John Kay, 1,700
  20. Makers, Chris Anderson, 1,700
  21. The Art of Action, Stepehn Bungay, 1,600
  22. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, 1,600
  23. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 1,600
  24. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer, 1,600
  25. Smart Leadership, Yudelowitz et al., 1,500
  26. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone, 1,400
  27. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 1,300
  28. Creative Mischief, Dave Trott, 1,200
  29. Overconnected, William Davidow, 1,000
  30. Money Blood And Revolution, George Cooper, 900
number of view: 151


07 2014

The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

The one-sentence summary

We give up too easily, when often the obstacle we face can be the very inspiration for the way forward.


· Great achievers in the world don’t necessarily have exceptional, luck, talent or experience. They live by a single maxim: ‘What stands in the way becomes the way.’

· If you manage your perceptions, recognise when you can and can’t change things, and direct your actions appropriately, you can usually turn obstacles to your advantage.

· The author outlines three main areas to achieve this:

1. Perception

It takes discipline to be objectively self-aware; steady your nerves and recognise the power you have; control your emotions and keep an even keel; ignore what disturbs or limits others; live in the present moment, and try to think differently; find the opportunity (often out of adversity), prepare to act, and focus on what can truly be controlled.

2. Action

Taking action itself involves discipline; practice persistence because few things happen first time; iterate, change something, then go again; do your job and do it right; be pragmatic – what’s right is what works; use obstacles against themselves and ‘attack on the flanks’ – where action is least expected; use craftiness and savvy, with an eye for opportunity and pivotal moments; channel your energy and be prepared for none of it to work.

3. Will

Build your ‘inner citadel’ – a strength of purpose; think negatively (but not pessimistically) to anticipate complications and prepare for more difficult times; acquiesce where appropriate – you can’t force everything, so accept what you are you unable to change; learn to love everything that happens (your fate?); consider the overall value of something bigger than yourself and submit to a larger cause; meditate on your mortality – you only have one life so you might as well make the most of it. Then start the whole process again.


· The basic principle of turning trials into triumph is uplifting and pleasantly optimistic.

· The basic stoic philosophy – what is in the way is the way – has a courageous ring to it, even if it is hard to apply.

· “It’s simple – it’s just not easy” is a fair summary of what the book proposes.


· It’s the usual American macho thing. We don’t all want to be world-beaters, so the relentless “you can smash anything out of your way to achieve your goals” message may prove somewhat wearisome to UK and other less gung-ho readers.

· The military metaphor (Marcus Aurelius, Rommel, Churchill) receives another extended airing, whereas most of us are just going to the office and doing our modest thing.

number of view: 137


07 2014

Hegarty On Creativity – John Hegarty

The one-sentence summary

To be an effective creative person you need constantly to absorb varied stimuli, reinterpret what you see, identify a simple emotional truth, and re-present it in a fresh way.


· This is a witty pocket book with 50 provocative insights into creativity and the creative process. They include:

· The blank page is the greatest challenge facing the creative person. Start small, with anything, and then it’s not blank and you are underway.

· An idea can be defined as ‘a thought or plan formed by mental effort’.

· Originality is dependent upon the obscurity of your sources. There’s no such thing as pure originality. It’s not where you get it from – it’s where you take it to.

· We are all artists, but some of us shouldn’t exhibit. Just because modern technology allows us all to publish, it doesn’t mean we should. The author urges all authors of poorly written and uninformed blogs to stop.

· Complexity destroys profitability. The power of reduction means taking a complex thought and reducing it down to a simple, powerful message.

· What the heart knows today, the head will understand tomorrow. When it comes to creativity, instinctive feeling beats thinking. You do your best thinking when you are not thinking.

· Ideas are often at their best when the creative person gets angry, when they offer an unexpected juxtaposition, go the opposite way (zig when they zag0, or tell stories that hit the spot. These ideas rarely come when the weather is good, because there are too many distractions.

· Creative people are transmitters – they absorb diverse, random messages, influences and thoughts, then reinterpret and play them back to their audience in new and fresh ways.

· Creativity isn’t an occupation – it’s a preoccupation.

· Remove your headphones - inspiration is all around us and needs to be absorbed.

· Mix with the best – read shit and that’s what you’ll think and create.

· A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. Cynics bury ideas, and make poor companions for creative people.

· Why? is the most important word you will ever use.

· Creativity is an expression of self, so your work will be empty if you fail to figure out what excites and drives you.

· Respect, don’t revere. Reverence leads to imitation, not creation.

· Don’t dwell on failure. Move on. Forget it.


· The subtitle of the book is There are no rules – something which we have heard many times before.

number of view: 227


06 2014

Think Like A Freak – Levitt & Dubner

The one-sentence summary

Understand and decipher incentives and measure results accurately, and you are much more likely to solve problems.


· Thinking like a freak involves three relatively simple ideas:

1. Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. Understanding or deciphering them is the key to understanding a problem and how it might be solved.

2. Knowing what to measure and how to measure it can make a complicated world less so. Numbers reduce confusion and highlight contradiction.

3. Conventional wisdom is often wrong.

· As a result, you should:

1. Think like a child: saying “I don’t know” is very powerful and liberating. There’s no need to be embarrassed by how much you don’t know – often it leads to a better way.

2. Think like a rock star: David Lee Roth’s famous backstage rider banning all brown M&Ms disguised something far more inspired. Van Halen’s show required major resources and detailed planning from the venues they played – if the promoters hadn’t read the detail on page 40 of the contract, then everything else needed checking too.

· This approach is in effect a case of Teach Your Garden to Weed Itself. Framing incentives reveals what you need to know about the respondent(s). The reason that Nigerian scam emails work is that anyone stupid enough to respond immediately reveals themselves as gullible.

· If you are designing an incentive scheme, you need to: work out what people really care about, not what they say; use dimensions that are valuable to them, but cheap to you; learn from responses; change the frame from adversarial to cooperative; never assume people will do the ‘right’ thing; acknowledge that some people will do everything to ‘game’ the system – applaud their ingenuity rather than curse their greed.

· If you want to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded:

~ Understand how hard it will be and why

~ Remember that you are just the producer of the argument, not the decision maker

~ Don’t pretend your argument is perfect

~ Acknowledge the strengths of your opponent’s argument

~ Tell stories to dramatize your case.


· If you think like a freak, there are two broad lessons to be learned:

1. Redefine the problem you are looking at.

2. Establish the limits you will accept, or refuse to.

· “Once and done” was a new concept in charity fundraising introduced by the children’s facial disfigurement charity Smile Train. Telling donors you won’t pester them ever again if they donate once actually increases donation levels, because it hands power back to the individual.

· The premortem – in which you have to predict what will go wrong before starting a project – works even better if it is made anonymous. Amazingly, NASA experts specifically predicted that Challenger’s O-rings would blow, but they were overruled.

· “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan

· “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Niels Bohr

· Ultracrepidarianism is the habit of giving and opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge or competence.


· The more the authors make sense (which they do), the more the word ‘freak’ seems inaccurate.

number of view: 290