Review From User :
I confess I've read several business related books over the last twenty five years. Ever since I entered the working world I wanted to grasp its intricacies.
Most business books that intend to impart wisdom do so in one of two ways. They are either very formal and as dry a read as the Sahara, or they are the go getter type that tell you how to become a CEO in 48 hours or less the day you leave college. Okay, maybe 72 hours. But only if you're dumb and need to read it twice.
Which is my way of saying I don't often read a business related book that isn't boring, full of fluff nor has delusions of grandeur in the end. I'm delighted to say I've found one that didn't disappoint.
Start with the Answer: and Other Wisdom For Aspiring Leaders (Wiley, ISBN: 978-0470450321) doesn't fall into those categories. The author's honesty and professionalism blazes a trail that I dearly wish other business book writers would follow. Written by Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, this isn't an autobiography although it does cover many highlights of his business career. This is a man who knows what he's talking about. Bob is a proven champion at taking lack lustre, broken down companies in disarray and building them back up. Finally a voice that needs to be heard!
In Start with the Answer, Bob relays how he got where he is today using that talent and in a very personable, friendly yet professional style. From his first chapter about when his Careers Officer told him not to waste his time applying to Harvard in 1960 (which he did anyway with his mother's encouragement and got in) right up to the present day, Bob freely shares the business wisdom he gained throughout a business career that spanned four decades and the practical application of strategic initiatives and approaches.
This 256 page hardcover book consists of an introduction followed by eight sections: preparing for a career in business, managing your career, planning and other essentials of business strategy, business operation- looking beyond the obvious, finance and economics or dollars and sense, lessons in leadership, building culture through communications, and personal style and spirit.
Within those are small chapters, ninety four in all. Each contains a real life illustration of tried and tested tactics and ideas. Most chapters in Start With The Answer are only a few pages long and all will end with "Bob's Wisdom". These final sentences, short and to the point, summarize what the lesson was. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can't learn much in a two page chapter! Start with The Answer has taught me many new ways to look at situations, especially troublesome ones, and how to relate better to staff, clients and managers.
The real pleasure in reading Start with The Answer is how down to earth it is. Bob's honest about the mistakes as well as the successes. He also includes very personal details that aren't purely business related.
Bob doesn't claim to be anything more than the very hardworking man he obviously is. He started work at General Foods the Monday after graduating from Harvard Business School. When asked in later years why he didn't take time off back then, Bob told the truth: "at the time, I had no money and a wife and child to provide for". That kind of honesty makes this a great read. The man is brimming with intelligence and energy yet gives no impression of being egotistical nor condescending.
Having been CEO of five companies in three different industries and a primary force behind successful mergers and turnarounds even I could forgive a tinge of arrogance creeping into the pages. There's none. Bob Seelert is the kind of boss staff would love to work for and managers would love to be.
In Start with The Answer, you have a real live mentor on your bookshelf. The reader is learning from someone who has walked the walk, rather than just talked the talk. That is very important to me and I know I'm not alone in that.
Personally I find far more value in the author having experienced something than all the business buzzwords and strategies in the world. Theories all look very nice on paper but unless you've actually gone through what you're advising others they should do and can tell me why, you don't impress me. I'm dubious of how effective untested strategies are, even when they're penned by best selling authors.
Bob Seelert impresses me greatly with his straightforwardness and integrity.
With chapters that have titles like "Don't Get Fat-Headed By Winning", "Layoffs are Hard", "Don't Tell, Ask" and "You Learn More from Failure than from Success" how can the reader fail to appreciate his candour I couldn't.
Bob shines. He consistently delivers sometimes difficult to understand strategies in an easily comprehensible manner. He speaks from the voice of experience each and every time and his passion is unfettered for what he does. A very impressive man and a very impressive book!
If you want to learn from a business mastermind, you'll do well to absorb Start with the Answer's lessons. The wisdom is timeless, meaty, authentic and enduring. It's entertaining while being instructive. Bob Seelert's counsel is effective, on target and inspirational to anyone wanting to reach the pinnacle of their career sooner rather than later. When you tire of buzzwords from the latest gurus and are ready for true success, get real and read Start With the Answer from cover to cover and back again.
Accept no imitations! Drop the genies for the genius. Five stars.
(Disclosure: I received this book for free for review purposes from the book's publicists. This arrangement doesn't influence my reviews.)
Media Size : 2.1 MB