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I'm a voracious reader.  I get the impression though that many accountants don't read all that much; I hope I'm wrong.  My former partner couldn't be bothered to read anything unless it was related to the tax code. 

Clients look to us all the time not just for accounting advice, but also for our thoughts on how they are running their business and how can they improve.  How can I help them if I stopped reading in 1984, the year I graduated from The University of Michigan.

Here is some of what I've read recently, both business and non business:

  • The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn.  This was recommended to me by someone I worked with at Deloitte way back then.  Sanborn moved into a new house once and was stunned by the incredible service he received from his postman.  We're not talking Newman from Seinfeld.  The real Fred went out of his way to take something exceedingly ordinary, the delivery of mail, into something special, like making sure when Sanborn was away that the mail was out of sight from potential burglars.  The book reads real quickly (it's only about 110 pages).  Once you get past the basic idea, the rest isn't all that interesting.  But it does have me thinking of how I can make the ordinary into something extraordinary.
  • Hard Evidence by John Lescroart.  This is the 3rd book in the Dismas Hardy series - Hardy is a former cop and D.A. who ultimately becomes an outstanding defense attorney.  Very hard to put down once you get into it.  Unfortunately, I read two of the later books before I started from the first book and I hope I don't get halfway into one and realize I've already read it.
  • Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C. Lundin and others.  Also recommended to me by my former Deloitte colleague.  Tells the story of how the employees of a Seattle (I think) fish market make every part of what they do special and distinguish themselves from the other fish markets.  I though The Fred Factor was better.
  • No One Would Listen:  A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos.  Markopolos was the Bernie Madoff whistleblower.  I didn't think it that great of a book, but there are some interesting lessons.  Most interesting thing - people just kept giving Madoff money.  Nobody stopped to think if any of this mad sense.  Markopolos though has a lot of scores to settle and that takes up too much of the book.
  • Death and Honor by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV.  You don't read Griffin for literary excellence.  His books are full of detail on the military, the police or whatever series it is.  His characters are predominantly rich and male, drink a lot of alcohol and are always on the prowl for women.  I was 2/3 through the book when I realized I wasn't certain what it was about.  Typical for Griffin, the plot resolves in about the last 10 pages.  10 pages before that they were probably drinking.

I'm currently working on two books:

  • The Language of Success by Tom Sant.  I learned of this book from another book I read, but I'm not sure which.  The book is actually more about how to improve your business writing.  I'm maybe 1/4 of the way in, and he does write well.  I expect I will finish it and continue to improve my writing.  Mind you, I write fairly well, but I can fall into the trap of using the passive voice way too much.
  • Traction - Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.  A friend of mine I met through the Entrepreneurs Organization sent me this book.  Then I remembered it was the system he uses in his consulting.  Another friend of mine swears by the methods.  What I've read so far seems similar to The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Hanish.  Wickman is a Detroiter, like me, and I know or recognize many of the companies he writes about.  I think I will get something out of this when I'm done.

By the way, Shelfari is a great way to keep track of what you've read and what you want to read.  It is especially useful if there are people you know that also use Shelfari and you want to know what they are reading.  Visit my Shelfari page and you can see what I've read, what I'm reading, and what I want to read.

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