Poetry and Prosen
I remember the goosebumps I got when I heard JK Rowling read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the night of its release. It was similar to the feeling I got when I watched a live performance of Movin' Out after reading Twyla Tharp's Book, The Creative Habit. There's just something magical when you can connect the author to their creation. It becomes real. They become real. Sometimes the event becomes a little surreal, and you have to pinch yourself to make sure you didn't dream it all.
Such was the case yesterday. Bob Prosen, author of the highly acclaimed book, Kiss Theory Good Bye, was in town yesterday. His publicist had sent me his book this past spring with a request that I write a book review on it. I read the book months ago, and actually did one better than wrote a review... I made it required reading for my students in my Drake MBA leadership class. Then something truly amazing happened: Phil Gerbyshak (who, of course, knows everybody) introduced me to Bob. During one of our conversations, it was revealed that Bob would be in Des Moines... on the very day I had scheduled in the syllabus for my leadership classes to be discussing his book. The "university gods" don't smile on a professor that often, so we made arrangements for Bob to be present in my class last night to share his insights with my students. Even better than that, I was able to watch Bob in action Wednesday morning, as he single-handedly "tackled" about a dozen CEOs, providing them with tools to achieve results-based performance. Later after class, Bob and I were able to enjoy a nice dinner at the Drake Diner (a Des Moines institution), where our waitress, Molly, matched her sales prowess against Bob's abilities (I'm still not sure who came out on top). All in all, it was a great day.
Now, about Bob's book. It really wouldn't be fair for me to review it, because you already know enough that I would not assign it to my students if I were not wowed by it. Hence, I'll let some of their comments speak for the value of the book. (Disclaimer: my students know that they have license to disagree with me and that they do not have to speak favorably about the book. There were a few dissenters, but they were very rare. Most of the criticism actually centered around the core value of Bob's book: He has packaged "common sense" very well... what makes this book valuable is that he demonstrates that the sense isn't all that common.) So, here are my students' comments about Kiss Theory Good Bye:
- "Packs quite a lot of advice into the last five chapters... I like the fact that he repeatedly makes reference to the ideas he poses in the book being common sense but asks if they are common practice."
- "I really identified with the accountability aspect of this book."
- "Kiss Theory Good Bye is one of those books that I kept getting the sense I had already read. It must have been Prosen's consistent flow throughout the book.... This stuff makes perfect sense.... The daily check list went up in my work cube one day after reading the book."
- "I can picture myself looking back at this book many years from now and using it as a leadership guide."
- "Kiss Theory Good Bye was a great read full of insight on how to get extraordinary results. The characteristics of ... superior leadership, sales effectiveness, operational excellence, financial managment, and customer loyalty... I will definitely use now at my current position and when I run my own business."
My students have very strong "crap filters" and they bombarded Bob with tough, honest, pressing questions for the better part of an hour last night. As they left, many genuinely expressed their gratitude to Bob for coming to class. If your organization is seeing more excuses than execution, more whining than winning, more "get over it" than "git'r done" then you should invest in Prosen's book. If nothing else, you'll know that the man behind the book is also the real thing.