Highlights from the world of corporate information.
Talking points I: E-mail exposed the dirty secret that businesspeople don't communicate well in writing. Well, apparently, they're not much better at simple speech. That's not surprising: emotions surge when you're delivering a poor performance review, for example, or bad news to investors, and conversations that threaten to turn ugly often do. That's the reason Info Posse member Lisa Zwickey recommends Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler (McGraw-Hill, 2002). Successful conversations don't just achieve a desired outcome, the authors explain. They also improve relationships and vent pent-up feelings in a way that won't get you jumped in the parking lot. The book describes how to prepare for and remain in control during stressful encounters, "so that you don't walk away mentally lashing yourself over what you did and didn't say," says Zwickey.
Talking points II: The first rule of successful conversations, of course, is remembering whom you're talking to. George W. Bush is the undisputed master of that skill, but Benjamin Levy comes in a close second. Levy, the author of Remember Every Name Every Time: Corporate America's Memory Master Reveals His Secrets (Fireside, 2002), claims he can recall the names of more than 100 people to whom he's just been introduced, which comes in handy whether you're at a cocktail party or an employee orientation. (And, of course, you can also astound and mystify your friends.) Levy relies on two techniques. The first is mentally imprinting a name (by, for example, asking to clarify that you heard it correctly). The second is concocting visual images that link names and facial features (say, Bob's nose has big nostrils). Says Info Posse member Genevieve Foskett, "Levy's program can save you from embarrassment or worse."
"The Pilgrims had a good idea: give people names that are actual, easily remembered words, like Constance or Temperance.... Wouldn't it be more helpful to a stranger if my name were Four Eyes, Zero Hair?"
-- From Remember Every Name Every Time: Corporate America's Memory Master Reveals His Secrets
London calling: The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has been publishing research and analysis for more than 50 years, which makes it a mere stripling compared with its 160-year-old sibling, The Economist. The youngster's new offering, Executive Briefing, is a subscription service that delivers some very intelligent intelligence, says Info Posse member Christine Klein. Industries ranging from automotive to health care are covered and covered well. One section provides timely updates on market conditions, risk, business regulation, and competition in 60 markets. But the gem of this service is a compilation of easily digestible articles on such subjects as strategy, management, innovation, and E-business. "Finally, a subscription service I am proud to recommend," says Klein. "Executive Briefing blows away the competition."
20/20 foresight: One of the best books about what went wrong with the new economy was published early in its decline. In One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism and the End of Economic Democracy (Doubleday, 2000), author Thomas Frank lamented that in our intoxication with newfound wealth we failed to notice "the destruction of the social contract of mid-century, the middle class republic itself." He went on: "Our portfolios may have appreciated graciously, but they did so only to the extent that we countenanced the reduction of millions to lives of casual employment without health care or the most elementary sort of workplace rights." When One Market was published, the New York Times praised it for "riding a nascent wave of antibusiness resentment." Now that nascent wave is a tsunami, and, says Info Posse member Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, "Frank's book may still be the most lucid, passionate, and witty explanation of how it got that way."
The Info Posse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.