Audio Book Reviews: The E-Myth & The Leadership Pill

I read. A lot. Recommend you do, too.

With 3 kids under 7, it’s impossible to read all the books I’d like to, though.

I’m a little behind the times technology-wise and just discovered the iPod in December of 2007. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed listening to audio books & podcasts at times that would otherwise not work for reading… while driving or mowing the lawn, for instance. In fact, I rarely actually listen to music on my iPod!

Not all books work well in audio form, though. Here are two that I just finished up:

The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

The good = great content, a must read for anyone in business
The bad = really boring, sleep-inducing vocals in the audio version
The ugly = despite the great content, I had to work hard to finish this thing

Gerber’s primary thesis:
Most businesses start when a “technician” gets tired of working for the man and sets out to start his own business. Many of these businesses fail or stagnate as the technician eventually begins to hate this very activity that he was once so passionate about. He fails to work on the business side of the equation and his company becomes a huge burden on his life and happiness.

Gerber’s primary fix:
Stop working in your business and start working on your business. He suggests viewing your business as a potential franchise. Create a detailed playbook on how you would replicate your ideal “store” or “operation” without actually requiring your own presence. In a sense, detail your vision so specifically that you could hire any monkey off the street to follow these directions and succeed.

Despite the boring vocals, this is some groundbreaking work. I think it applies to everyone, whether you own a business or work for someone else. It gets the Jeff Waters’ “must read” seal of approval… just make sure you read it instead of listening to it.

The Leadership Pill by Ken Blanchard

The good = great content, a must read/listen for everyone.
The bad = nuthin.
The ugly = nuthin.

I immediately listened to the audio version of this Blanchard book after finishing The E-Myth. I saw some similar, interesting themes that I might not have noticed if I’d spaced them out.

Unlike E-Myth, this audio book was read with an engaging spirit of story-telling. Plus, it’s extremely short… so it wasn’t such a marathon to complete.

The book is a fictional, tongue-in-cheek story of a new pharmaceutical product guaranteed to stimulate the areas of the human brain responsible for leadership. The pill is an overnight success. Managers immediately start taking this pill for a quick fix to their leadership failings.

One experienced, wise leader stands up to the movement and proposes a “pill free” leadership contest. The company behind the Leadership Pill jumps at the chance for more media attention and agrees to the competition.

The competition starts with the two leaders taking over two poorly performing work groups in similar industries. One leader takes regular doses of the leadership pill, and the other uses only his experience.

As you might guess, the pill-free team wins in the end. But along the way, Blanchard drops some really inspirational nuggets of wisdom about the true path to effective leadership. And these nuggets aren’t just philosophical meanderings… they are concrete principles that anyone can apply.

After just finishing up the E-Myth, I saw two interesting parallels. First, the effective leader is working on the business in both cases. The idea is not to create a successful business dependent on YOU. It’s to create a machine that works well even if you aren’t around!

This could require quite a rethinking of values for those who view leadership positions as a “look-at-how-important-I-am” trophy to be achieved.

The idea I liked about both books is that anyone at anytime can become successful, regardless of natural intellect or skill, if they can ignite a passion within themselves.