There's a great lineup of interviews coming this month on Rule Breaker Investing, and we're kicking it off with a list of beach-read suggestions.
- Runners-up: Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly, and Let's Talk About Death (Over Dinner) by Michael Hebb.
- It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For by Roy Spence. Are you looking to find the purpose of your organization? There's no better place to start.
- Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith. We are a service economy, and this prescient work will guide you in the ways of modern marketing.
- Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. A book of poetic prose that conjectures visions of the afterlife that make you think better of this life.
- Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome. Heading back to the 19th century, and off on a comic adventure, this book is escapist in all the best ways.
- The Why of Work by David & Wendy Ulrich. Finding purpose and passion in the workplace will lead to a culture of abundance. Wins all around!
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
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David Gardner: Welcome to August. August 2022 continues our tradition here on Rule Breaker Investing of authors in August. A lot of us find extra time to read while at least in the Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere too. In the months of June, July, and August, summer, something about beaches maybe or summer break, and as lifelong learners breaks give us time to read. It turns out some of my favorite authors of some of our favorite books each year also can make some time for us to check in with them in August. This month, will be no exception last week I already previewed that next week's podcast will feature my conversation with the extraordinary Jesse Schell, author of the tour de force book, The Art of Game Design.
A book I recommend to all humans whether you fancy yourself a gamer or not at all. But this week I wanted to kick it off with a simpler starter podcasts. Let's just call it books, books, books. Specifically, it's going to be a shortlist of books that I'm going to call off the beaten path reads that if there are any on this list you haven't read, I'm going to recommend you do. Maybe just one, well, at least one of these. Each of these combines being lesser known, while at the same time being highly influential or enjoyable for me and I hope you too. While other lists might include big, well-known reads, a lot of us already know about those books or have read them. So to kick-off, authors in August this week, wander off the path with me for a spell, will you? Only on this week's Rule Breaker Investing. [MUSIC]
Intro: It's the Rule Breaker Investing podcast with Motley Fool Co-Founder, David Gardner.
David Gardner: Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. Happy August. Well, I already shared with you the framework. Let's turn this into a mathematical ratio. In the numerator, will be how much this book that I've read in the past and I've read all of these this week has benefited me. It might be that it influenced me, it improved me, or it amused me. All of those things are good. Those are in the numerator. The denominator for picking books with a high ratio here would be how little known they are. The lesser known, the smaller the denominator, the bigger the numerator, the higher the ratio. Those are the books that I have in mind off the beaten path this week and I say we get right into it. Now I have a few runners-up I want to mention ahead of time. All of this will be alphabetical this week. Let's kick it off with Destiny of the Republic, a book that I really love.
If you've not heard of that book before or if you've never read anything by Candice Millard before, I highly recommend to you her book, Destiny of the Republic, the story of James Garfield, the US President in the 19th century who was essentially assassinated. One of those presidents who was although it wasn't instantaneous, it took him a while to die in the story of what happened, who he was, and what led to that outcome is moving and incredibly instructive. If it's a Candice Millard book, that means it's beautifully researched and written. I really loved testing the republic, but all four of her books, including her newest book, River of the Gods, I am a fan of. When Candice writes a new book, I read it, I recommend it to you too, but I will also say Candice isn't as well-known as, I don't know, James Patterson or Stephen King.
I think she counts is off the beaten path, even though I think she's one of our foremost writers of nonfiction history because she brings such a literary tilt to it and deeply researches her book. It takes usually Candice 4-6 years to write a new book, it seems to me and Destiny of the Republic, no exceptions. There's a runner up, but because she's a little bit better known than some of my others, and because her books are more recent, she's just not obscure enough to be featured as one of my five this week. The second of my three runners-up is The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. Another book that I love and really both Candice and Kevin Kelly had been before on this podcast. Kevin Kelly, of course, one of the Co-Founders of Wired Magazine and The Inevitable, his focus on 12 technological forces that will shape our future. He wrote it some years ago, he said over the next 25 years. Because those technological forces are not what you think, it's not biotechnology or augmented reality or cryptocurrency. Nope, it's things like becoming, flowing, screening, sharing, filtering, the list goes on.
These are all gerunds and each of them, he illustrates further. For example, flowing in that chapter, he's talking about unstoppable streams and real-time for everything. These days, if your iPhone's like mine, it updates itself sometimes multiple times a day. If you have a lot of apps, the newest version of the app just auto updates itself and your phone is without you really caring are noticing, sometimes you care if the whole interface of your favorite app changes but all of a sudden those apps on our phones are just updating themselves. That's part of the flow that Kevin Kelly is talking about these days is not just my phone, it's my car too. If you have a Tesla or I'm sure some of the cars are starting to do this. You have software upgrades floating through the air, changing the nature of your car from one drive to the next. I think again, Kevin Kelly is right and that book is highly worth your read if you've not encountered it before. My third and final runner up.
Well, once again, an author featured on this podcast and the reason this one doesn't make the list of five is because we really covered it only a few months ago. But Let's Talk About Death Over Dinner. If you've listened to this podcast throughout 2022, you've already been, no doubt, influenced, I hope for good, by this wonderful book by Michael Hebb. But lots of other people, even people working within the end of life industry, and that includes everyone from pastors with pastoral care to neurosurgeons having to make really tough calls in the moment. So many people in my experience have not yet really heard of this book or thought about the importance of being real, acknowledging mortality, and having important conversations. Anybody who joined us last week for the July mailbag heard another incredible story. This one from our friend Fergus Colin, about an 18-year-old put in a really difficult position because dad never signed a will. Let's talk about Death Over Dinner.
A beautiful book, but already pretty well exposed here on this podcast in 2022. There we are three runners-up without further ado, let's get into five books off the beaten path. Now for each of these, I will be providing the title of the author. I'd like to explain who I think the book is for. Not every book is necessarily for every listener. Why I'm glad I wandered off the path to find this book and maybe a great line or two or passage from each of these books. That's what I want to share with you this week. Book number 1, and we're going to do these alphabetically by title and I should mention as well, I will mention the year that each was published. A point out right now that every single one of these books is more than 10 years old. That's part of what I think puts them off the beaten path. These authors are not doing Good Morning America interviews for their book that just came out yesterday or hoping to time up there Ted talk with the publication of their 2022 book.
Every one of these books and authors is from more than a decade ago, many still living, but certainly not all, Jerome Jerome in 1899, but we'll get to that in a little while. Let's go to book number 1, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For. The author is Roy Spence the book It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For was first published in 2009 upfront for each of these books, who is this book for? Well, I would say anyone thinking through the purpose of their organization. Now, your organization might be a start-up of your own design or maybe you're working at a large corporation or a membership organization. Maybe a local community club or not-for-profits higher education. Roy Spence has written a book for you, if you're in any of these different contexts and you're thinking through, what's your mission statement? What do you stand for? What are you trying to do? Now, Roy Spence again, has been on this podcast. You can hear him talk at some length, some years ago I had a wonderful 45-60 minutes with Roy.
If you google Rule Breaker Investing Roy Spence, you'll get a lot more than you're about to get right here. But this is a book for us in 2009 as we began to discover conscious capitalism at The Motley Fool, Roy, an active presence at Conscious Capitalism summits over the years. This book was so helpful for Tom and for me and our team to think through. What does the Motley Fool stand for? What does the thing that you work or care about? What does that stand for? Roy lays out in the book three fundamental building blocks of high-performing, high purpose organizations, and they are real quickly, number 1, that you are built to make a meaningful difference. I've introduced the snap test, talked a lot about that before for investors. An opportunity for you to snap your fingers and if that stock you're looking at that company disappeared overnight, would anyone notice? Would anyone care? I'm always going to try to invest in things that do make a meaningful difference.
That's the first of Roy's three fundamental building blocks. The second is that that organization high-performing, high purpose, is led by liters of great purpose who act as stewards of that purpose. My favorite leaders are the ones who are in service to something bigger than themselves. That's something I really look for in true leaders, servant leaders, and especially in the context of organizations when you're a steward. That's how you position yourself and that's how you perceive yourself, a steward of that purpose that brings a smile to my face. Roy talks about that a lot in his book, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For. The third fundamental building block is that they bring purpose to life in meaningful and relevant ways in the marketplace. Now that is, of course, going to be through branding campaigns, through the product or service themselves.
But it's also how customers talk about your product or service or organizations. Again, built to make a meaningful difference led by leaders of great purpose who act as stewards and bring that purpose to life in meaningful and relevant ways in the marketplace. At one point about a third of the way through the book, Roy encourages you, this is especially for businesses to listen to your customers, talk to the people who love and rely on you and what you do. Of course, this is true of not-for-profits just as much as for-profits and it gives five questions to ask your fans. I think this is a great list to keep in mind. The first is, what difference has your product or service made in their life? The second is what would they lose if you ceased to exist? Which sounds a lot like my snap test. Third, when would and wouldn't they use your brand versus the competition? Fourth, what do they think you do better than anyone else in the world? Great question. So interesting to hear those answers, especially from your biggest fans.
Fifth and finally, how do you make them feel? Roy has lots of lists and worksheets in this book, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For. Here's another great line just to close on this one I wanted to share about staying focused. At the time when I read this book more than a decade ago I wrote, "So true, this is where I am, this is where we are." I write lots of marginalia, I mark up my books and so I'm seeing my own marginalia as I just share this paragraph with you. For some of you, this is going to strike you right where you are because maybe you're thinking about this, you feel this I felt this at the time. This is a paragraph entitled Stay Focused. As you go through the purpose discovery process, what often happens is that you unearth, a wealth of potential purpose possibilities. You may start falling in love with all the great things your organization may be doing in the world. You can't decide where the real focus resides. No one wants to sacrifice any one piece of it.
Then what happens? Well, a verbose kitchen sink purpose statement is born a statement no one will be able to remember, much less articulate, a statement incapable of providing the single-minded focus necessary to accomplish something truly great. Or you end up with multiple purpose statements and you bounce from one to another without gaining traction in any one area. He closes out that section by exhorting you, the reader, thinking through this as you read this book. This is why you'd want to read this book. If this work isn't relevant to you. Let's go to book number 2 very shortly. This book is not for everyone, but if this is for you, Roy gives this advice, make sure that that purpose statement you eventually settle on is so simple that even a child could understand it. I think that's really a beautiful articulation of some of the best purpose statements for profit, not-for-profit, higher ed today in the world. This is a world-class thinker, a world-class actor as a business person himself, a conscious capitalist and we're big fans of Roy Spence at The Motley Fool.
If you haven't read, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For, and it seems like it might be intersecting with where you or your organization are right now or are headed. Boy, do I recommend you spend some time reading his pretty short book. Book number 2, and it occurs to me a number of these books I've highlighted this week are off the beaten path because they're short and very readable. I'm not certainly not assigning reading to anyone this week, but if you feel any charged to read these books, please note that most of them are pretty short reads. One of my favorites style of literature. Well, book number 2, alphabetically, we're already down to the letter S, the title is Selling the Invisible. The author is Harry Beckwith. This book was written in 1999. Now, who is this book for Selling the Invisible? I guess I would answer anyone in business today. Beckwith talks about the shift in our economy, which has only grown more pronounced this direction in the 23 years since this book was written.
Because he was talking about how America is a service economy back in 1999 increasingly so I think in the 20 years since a service economy but with a product marketing model. He draws real distinctions early in the book about how services are just fundamentally different. They're invisible. A product like a car or an iPhone or your brand new modular sofa products are visible, tangible and how you as a business person would sell those or market those. It's a lot easier because it's very visible to people and if it's beautifully designed, that makes your job easy as a salesperson. If it's not, that makes your job harder, but you haven't entirely different job if you are a service marketer to quote Beckwith at one point. By the way, this is such a readable book. He's a beautiful writer. He wrote, "You cannot sense much about a service. You cannot hear the hum of a tax return being prepared. You can't smell a good divorce attorney or try on a dry cleaner to see if it flatters you.
In most cases, you buy a service: touch, taste, feel, smell, and sight unseen." I'd like to pull a great liner two from some of these books. Here's another from Harry, he writes as he sets you up to read the book. "This is not a how-to book, although it contains many concrete suggestions. Instead, this is a how-to think-about book. Because if you think like these new marketers, if you think more broadly and deeply about services and their prospects, you will figure out dozens of better ways to grow your business. Now one thing I've always loved about Harry's books and he's written a few and there's a new one coming out I understand soon. But what I love about this book is there are not chapter numbers or chapter titles, instead, speaking of flowing, the book flows from one good thoughtful point to another. Most of his so-called chapters are basically reflections that last a page or two in length. He always hits it with a punchline at the end or bolded line.
But the act of reading a book, it's incredibly snackable. You could pick it up and read just one page at a time if you like, or you could read the entire thing faster than you'd binge a great eight-hour Netflix Show. It's rather like binging one of those gourmet popcorn containers. Have you ever gotten those as a gift where there's the caramel bag and you also get the Cheddar bag and you just find yourself eating all of the bags or sections of that gourmet popcorn container and yet after you've done that with the Harry Beckwith book, you feel better and you're probably healthier? As I mentioned, Harry is a lovely writer. I thought I would just read the first chapter, which is again, not a chapter, it's just a page of his book to give you a sense, if this is your style of book, this is a one-page chapter entitled, The greatest misconception about service marketing. Here it is. "In a free association test, most people, including most people in business, will equate the word marketing with selling and advertising, pushing the goods.
In this popular view, marketing means taking what you have and shoving it down buyers throats. We need better marketing invariably means we need to get our name out with ads, publicity, and maybe some direct mail. Unfortunately, this focus on getting the word outside distracts companies from the inside and from the first rule of service marketing, which is the core of service marketing, is the service itself. I'm not suggesting," Beckwith writes, "that if you build a better service, the world will beat a path to your door. Many 'better services' are foundering because of rotten marketing. Nor am I suggesting that getting the word out is enough. Getting the word out and attracting people to a flawed service is the preferred strategy for killing a service company. This is what I am saying. The first principle of service marketing is Guy Kawasaki's first principle of computer marketing, get better reality, 'better reality' in your service will make marketing easier, cheaper, and more profitable.
In fact, some companies have improved their reality so much they can almost eliminate the getting-the-word-out part of their marketing plans. The first step in service marketing is your service." That's the end of that chapter. It's really simple but deep insights like that that have influenced me. I tweeted out last month the following, "fix your product, fix your marketing; fix your marketing, fix your brand; fix your brand, fix your share price; fix your share price, save the world". It was fun to come up with that and think that through, but it starts with fix your product, and that, I learned from Harry. Of course, he would say fix your service and indeed, that's how I think of what the Motley Fool offers. We offer services, not products. When I sometimes check back in with our leadership team, they'll hear me say things like, we don't have products at the Fool, we have services.
I trust they generally agree with me, but at sometimes it's hard to get away from using the word product, even when you don't have that many of them. The world is increasingly about services, but fix your service or product, fix your marketing, I think, is a business truism. Anyway, Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith, book number 2. Onto book number 3. Book number 3 is entitled Sum, which by the way is spelled S-U-M. It's from cogito ergo sum, if you like. I think, therefore, I am, so Sum, I am. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. This is an off the beaten path book that was published in 2009, David Eagleman's book, Eagleman, a neuroscientist, part of the reason it's off the beaten path is it's genre defying, genre busting. It's only about 100 pages long and it contains 40 generally 1-3 page Harry Beckwith size snack-like views of what the afterlife might be. Now, who is this book 4? Well, I think I would start by saying anyone, but particularly for the intellectually curious and admirers of creativity, this book is only about 100 pages long.
It's not a religious book per se. It's not speculating very actively about whether there is an afterlife or not or if there is, advocating a certain religion's view of it. It's as much a cerebral exercise as anything else. The New York Times book review called this book, "A delightful thought provoking little collection, which belongs to that category of strange, unclassifiable books that will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned." I first heard about this book from a friend because she was sitting next to David Eagleman on a flight and just struck up a conversation and he mentioned, I wrote this book Sum, and then she conveyed it to me, and I've read through it, and I just had a great deal of fun with it. Ultimately, I think what Eagleman's trying to get us to do is appreciate the lives that we're living now. In fact, I don't think I'll say or need to say a lot more about this book.
I think if I share with you one of those 40 tails, you'll get it. For those who listen and enjoy this, I think you're going to love the rest of the book. While if this doesn't seem to be your ball of twine, dear fellow cat, feel free to play elsewhere. This one is entitled Circle of Friends. Most of his stories start with, when you die, dot, dot, dot. Here it is, one of the 40 tales from the afterlife, Circle of Friends. "When you die, you feel as though there were some subtle change, but everything looks approximately the same. You get up and brush your teeth, you kiss your spouse and kids, and leave for the office. There's less traffic than normal. The rest of your buildings seem less full as though it's a holiday, but everyone in your office is here and they greet you kindly. You feel strangely popular. Everyone you run into is someone you know. At some point it dawns on you that this is the afterlife. The world is only made up of people you've met before. It's a small fraction of the world population, about 0.00002 percent, but it seems like plenty to you. It turns out that only the people you remember are here.
The woman with whom you shared a glance in the elevator may or may not be included. Your second grade teacher is here with most of the class. Your parents, your cousins, and your spectrum of friends through the years, all your old lovers, your boss, your grandmothers, and the waitress who served your food each day at lunch, those you dated, those you almost dated, those you longed for. It's a blissful opportunity to spend quality time with your 1,000 connections, to renew fading ties, to catch up with those you let slip away. It's only after several weeks of this, that you begin to feel forlorn. You wonder what's different as you saunter through the vast quiet parks with a friend or two. No strangers grace the empty park benches. No family unknown to you throws breadcrumbs for the ducks and makes you smile because of their laughter.
As you step into the street, you note there are no crowds, no buildings teaming with workers, no distance cities bustling, no hospitals running 24/7 with patients dying, and staff rushing. No trains howling into the night with sardined passengers on their way home. Very few foreigners. You begin to consider all the things unfamiliar to you. You've never known, you realize, how to vulcanize rubber to make a tire, and now those factories stand empty. You've never known how to fashion a silicon chip from beach sand, how to launch rockets out of the atmosphere, how to pit olives, or lay railroad tracks, and now those industries are shutdown. The missing crowds make you lonely. You begin to complain about all the people you could be meeting, but no one listens or sympathizes with you because this is precisely what you chose when you were alive." Again, that was entitled Circle of Friends. It's not a utopia, that one, it's not a dystopia, but isn't it provocative? Does it cause you to wonder, am I leading a more interesting life? That's how I think about it. Anyway, thank you, David Eagleman and your book Sum, really a delight, a quick read and I reread a delightful, thought-provoking book.
Let's go on to book number 4. Well, I mentioned earlier that one of these books is more than a century old and that is now true of one of my favorite comic novels, Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog. That is by the author Jerome Jerome. That's right. That was this British author's name, Jerome Klapka Jerome and he wrote his book in 1899. Now, who is this book for? Well, I would say people who enjoy comedy, fans of British humor, probably middle aged men, because it's a story of three younger to middle aged men who go off together on an adventure along the Thames, Three Men in a Boat. It's a comic travel log. It's a picturesque novel written by somebody who had a great sense of humor and sometimes a little bit too much delight in purple prose, but it was a late Victorian era work. I think sometimes that colored Jerome Jerome's view of the world.
But if you like PG Wodehouse, if you like other comic authors of the same period or general bent like Saki. Saki by the way, another one of those turn of the century British humorists, I've always loved this line from Saki, "The cook was a good cook as cooks go, and as cooks go, she went." It was an era where upper class British families, well, they were trying to retain their cooks. The cook was a good cook as cooks go and as cooks go, she went. If this is your humor then I think you're really going to enjoy Three Men in a Boat. I've loved it, I've read it and reread it. I've read it aloud to our kids. In fact, I had thought, why wouldn't I share a little bit of it here with you since it's August summer, you might have a quiet moment, maybe you're out for a run or at the beach. Let me share with you that character portrait of Uncle Podger, who's not really a character in Three Men in a Boat.
But I think you'll understand this character portrait and it's certainly a good sample of Jerome Jerome's pros. I should mention, I have had referenced to call this book out in the past, at least one of their time I've done, as I'm about to do a dramatic reading with my effected British accent. I remember talking about Housemaids Knee, and for long time listeners who deeply remember the early days of this podcast. You might remember me sharing the opening of this book where the author, as he flips through one of those books of maladies, feels as if he has every single one listed except for some reason housemaids knee. While that was a fun comic bit, this one about Uncle Podger in our family household anyway, we have caused a reference, this character time and again, anytime it's time to fix something around the house. Jerome writes, "He always reminds me of my Uncle Podger.
You never saw such a commotion up and down a house in all your life, As when my Uncle Podger undertook to do a job, a picture would have come home from the frame makers and be standing in the dining room waiting to be put up, and Uncle Podger would ask what was to be done with it and Uncle Podger would say, 'Oh, you leave that to me. Don't any of you worry yourselves about that, I'll do all that.' Then he would take off his coat and begin. He would send the girl out for six penneth of nails. Then one of the boys after her, to tell her what size to get and from that he would gradually work down and start the whole house. 'Now, you go and get me my hammer, Will,' he would shout it. 'You bring me the ruler, Tom. I show up on the step ladder and I had better have a kitchen chair to it. Jim, you run around Mr. Goggles and tell him pause, kind regards hope his leg's better,' and will he lend him his spirit level. 'Don't you go Mariah, because I shall want somebody to hold me the light.'
When the girl comes back, she must go out again for a bit of picture code and Tom, 'Where's Tom? Tom, you come here. I shall want you to hand me up the picture.' Then he would lift up the picture and drop it. It would come out of the frame, and he would try to save the glass and cut himself. Then he would spring around the room looking for his handkerchief. He could not find his handkerchief because it was in the pocket of the coat he taken off and he didn't know where he put the coat, and all the house had to leave off looking for his tools and start looking for his coat while he would dance round and hinder them. 'Doesn't anybody in the whole house know where my coat is. I never came across such as set in all my life upon my word. I didn't. Six of you and you can't find a coat that I put down not five minutes ago. Well, if all that,' and then he'd get up and find that he'd been sitting on it and would call out, 'You can give it up. I've found it myself.
Now, I might just as well ask the cat to find anything as expect you people to find it.' When half-an-hour had been spent in tying up his finger and a new glass had been gotten, the tools, then the ladder and the chair and the candle had been brought, he would have another go. The whole family, including the girl and the char woman standing round in a semi circle, ready to help. Two people would have to hold the chair and a third would help him up on it and hold him there, and a fourth would hand him a nail and a fifth would pass them up the hammer. He would take hold of the nail and drop it, 'There,' he would say in an injured tone. 'Now the nail's gone.' We would all have to go down on our knees and grovel for it while he would stand on the chair and grunt and want to know if he was to be kept their all the evening. The nail would be found at last, but by that time he would have lost the hammer. 'Where is the hammer? What did I do with the hammer? Great heavens.
Seven of you gaping around there and you don't know what I did with the hammer?' We would find the hammer for him and then he would have lost sight of the mark he'd made on the wall where the nail was to go in and each of us had to get up on the chair beside him and see if we could find it. We would each discover it in a different place. He would call us all fools one after another and tell us to get down. He would take the rule and remeasure and find that he wanted half 31 and 3/8 inches from the corner and would try to do it in his head and go mad. We would all try to do it in our heads and all arrive at different results and sneer at one another. Then the general rail, the original number would be forgotten and Uncle Podger would have to measure it again. He would use a bit of string this time, and at the critical moment when the old fool was leaning over the chair at an angle of 45, trying to reach a point, three inches beyond what was possible for him to reach. The string would slip and down, he would slide onto the piano.
A really fine musical effect being produced by the suddenness with which his head and body struck all the notes at the same time. Aunt Mariah would say that she would not allow the children to stand around, and hear such language. At last, Uncle Podger would get the spot fixed again and put the point of the nail on it with his left hand and take the hammer in his right hand and with the first blow, he would smash his thumb and drop the hammer with a yell on somebody's toes. Aunt Mariah would mildly observed that next time Uncle Podger was going to hammer a nail into the wall, she'd hoped he'd let her know in time so that she could make arrangements to go and spend a week with her mother while it was being done. 'Oh, you women, you make such a fuss over everything,' Uncle Podger would reply, picking himself up. 'Why? I like doing a little job of this sort.' Then he would have another try and the second blow, the nail would go clean through the plaster and half the hammer after it and Uncle Podger be precipitated against the wall with force nearly sufficient to flatten his nose. Then we had to find the rule and the string again and the new hole was made in about midnight.
The picture would be up very crooked and insecure, the wall for yards round looking as if it had been smoothed down with a rake and everybody deadbeat and wretched except Uncle Podger. 'There you are,' he would say stepping heavily off the chair onto the char woman's corns and surveying the mess he'd made with evident pride. 'Why, some people would have had a man in to do a little thing like that.'" That line, some people would have had a man in to do it is something that I have used any number of times trying to fix something in my house myself. This is now me no longer Jerome Jerome, at one point I remember reading a plumbing guide I picked up at Home Depot, ready to fix my own toilet and the next day called the plumber in and he had to reassemble the entire thing as he fixed our family toilet some 20 years ago. Why, some people would have had a man in to do it.
Well, Three Men in a Boat has a lot of different comic bits. It's a perfect summer read. It's also just a delightful throw back to a previous era before iPhones, before automobiles, to a quieter, simpler time where you could just sit in a boat, not being distracted and make hay and make merry with friends. In this case down the Thames. I hope you enjoy if you've not read it Three Men in a Boat, it's a book I've really loved. Which brings us to our final book for books off the beaten path. This one, written in the year 2010 by a couple, a husband and wife team, Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich. The title of this book is The Why of Work. Who is this book for? Well, some of my books on the list this week were fiction others were experimental, but a number of these, of course, business books. This one, no exception. Who is this book for? I would say leaders of organizations, but especially people who work in human resources on culture teams, people teams. The Why of Work. Many times I've said before on the show, make your portfolio reflect your best vision for our future.
In recent times I've tried to tweak that to have it speak to life and I've said make your life reflect your best vision for your community. While The Why of Work is one of those books that helps you think about how to do that well. The Ulrichs, who've made careers advising others in their companies about how to create abundant organizations. They define abundance this way, "Work settings in which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders, and hope for humanity at large." I think that's a beautiful definition of abundance. I'm going to say it again, specifically, again their words describing abundant organizations. I think I'm working for one today that my brother and I helped found 30 years ago. I hope you're working for one, I'm one of those fans of abundance and I think Dave and Wendy Ulrich do a beautiful job again, defining what that means in organizational context.
Work settings in which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders, and hope for humanity at large. Dave Ulrich writes at one point, "When our personal goals align with the organization's goals, work feels like a meaningful extension of our private journey." I think at every organization, the people who love their work the most would say that their organization, its goal, it's purpose, back to Roy Spence, what it stands for, the more that overlaps with your own personal goal and what you're trying for, the more committed you probably are as an employee and I think the more committed employees any organization has, the more likely it is to win, the more likely it is to be abundant. Just quoting near the end of the book, I appreciate this quick anecdote. I think a lot of us who've been on a corporate offsite at some point can appreciate this. "Early in his career, Dave facilitated versions of a T group, " the book reads, "where members of a team got together over a weekend to share their personal feelings about work each other and the company.
Late Saturday night as fatigue set in people's defenses often fell and they tended to open up and be honest with each other. Sometimes the point of rudeness, often a false sense of genuine emotional intimacy resulted. Unfortunately, this temporary intensity of sharing real feelings was frequently lost by Monday morning when they all returned to work and the organization patterns that they had established. Dave realized that sustained change did not come through emotive weekends, but through institutionalized HR practices around recruitment, promotion, development, compensation, communication, and organization design. When these systems were changed, organization capabilities emerged that outlasted any single event or leader. That passage there is speaking to the importance of really looking at systemic change, not one-off band-aid kinds of moments. It's that kind of scaled thinking that you'll encounter throughout the book, The Why of Work. I think it's a largely overlooked book when I looked up the Ulrichs on YouTube to see a little bit of them talking about their book, The Why of Work.
One of the videos I encountered from the year 2013, it says The Why of Work introduction. It's a good introduction from the husband and wife couple. Dave being a leadership expert and Wendy being a clinical psychologist. But I was only the 539th view of that video on YouTube. I think the Ulrichs are real OGs. There are a lot of people giving TED Talks these days are running books on the importance of purpose in the workplace. The Ulrichs were doing it well before most and this is a book that stands the test of time and will really give you some frameworks and rigor if you're looking as a leader of your organization to make it abundant and make it a place where your employees feel as if their own life's work is deeply centered with the organizations work and they probably want to keep working for you for a good, long time.
Again, a business book. Now, anybody who's listened to Rule Breaker Investing for any length of time knows that often one of the reasons we love business books is because not only can it apply to our own businesses, but as investors in others' businesses, the more we can learn about business, the better off we are going to be investing our own money and picking stocks. I'm always looking for companies that have low turnover in their workplaces, the real great places to work, many of which will make the local great places to work list. Although sometimes I've got questions about that. But if you really find out, especially from your friends or acquaintances, who really loves their workplace and if it's a for profit public company, i.e. investable by you or me as mom-and-pop individual investors. I often sit up and take notice.
The Why of Work by Dave and Wendy Ulrich off the beaten path book number 5 this week. Well there we have it, books, books, books. Some off the beaten path thoughts. As I said at the top of this week's podcast, if even one of these strikes you as interesting, I highly encourage you to take a look at it. I've already been shaped by it, really appreciated it. I especially appreciate books that aren't as well-known or as often talked about these days. To summarize, 1-5, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For by Roy Spence. Number 2, Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. Number 3, Sum, S-U-M, Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. Number 4 Three Men in a Boat by Jerome Jerome. Number 5, The Why of Work by Dave and Wendy Ulrich. I declare authors in August 2022 in session. I hope you enjoyed this week's podcast. Next week, Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design. Have a great week. Fool on. [MUSIC]
Closing: As always, people on this program may have interest in the stocks they talk about. The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don't buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. Learn more about Rule Breaker Investing at rbi.fool.com.