Business Books and the Economy

With all attention now centered on the economy, many have asked me if there is a relationship between business book sales and the economy. The answer is a definite yes.

When the economy is soft, as it is now, business book sales suffer. When the economy is in crisis, as it has been over the past two weeks, business book sales can really suffer. That’s because potential book buyers, usually managers, business professionals, and educated consumers, are glued to business websites and their televisions to see if and how the $700 billion bailout package turns out. In many respects, the comparison to an economic 9/11 these last weeks has been an apt one: that’s because so much of what needs to go on in the business comes to a grinding halt. I have heard from some close to the market that “nothing is selling.” Of course, that’s an overstatement. Good quality business books sell no matter what, just not in the same numbers when events overshadow everything else. (we are fortunate at Portfolio, as our books stayed strong even during the weeks when the overall category fared the worst). 

What about financial books? Are they even more affected by the soft economy? Once again, the answer is yes. That’s particularly true when the financial markets sink. Here we see even a stronger relationship between book sales and the economy. The performance of the Dow Jones Industrial average is an excellent indication of book sales. When the Dow goes up, people love financial books. And the opposite is true as well. Publishers recognize this, and when there is real fear in the market, we try to counter it by publishing “what-to-do-when-the-markets-crash books.” Historically speaking, many of these crash books have done very well. 

One of the early examples of a crash book was a book published more than two decades ago entitled The Great Depression of 1990 by Ravi Batra (S&S, 1985). That book was a New York Times #1 bestseller when the financial markets were doing great (1986), as well as when they crashed (October, 1987).   

However—with few exceptions—publishers cannot and should not attempt to change their overall publishing strategy every time the market lurches one way or another. But there are exceptions. The two most obvious examples took place in the last decade. In 2000 the multi-million-dollar-market for day trading books died almost literally overnight. In 2006, after many years of a record run, the market for real estate books experienced a similar demise. But those examples involve business book categories or niches.

When we look at the business category as a whole—with the exception of instant books—it is clear that books are a poor medium to chronicle the headline-making events of the day. Business books are much more effective when they stand back and give measured perspective on a particular event or era. Examples include Barbarians at the Gate (the greed-is-good 1980s) and The Smartest Guys in the Room (Enron).  We already know that there will be several books detailing the events of today’s financial crisis—likely to be published in the fall of 2009 all the way through 2011 and later. The book that will win won’t necessarily be the first book to hit the market, but the one that provides the clearest explanation of what happened; that takes us behind-the-scenes of the primary participants, and explains in clear and compelling fashion, what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid similar crises in the future.  

Opportunity Favors the Prepared Mind

When we last left off, General Motors and Peter Drucker had parted ways. Drucker wanted desperately to study the inner workings of a large corporation like GM, but he said he could not do it if he was going to be seen as a “company spy.” By letting GM managers and employees know he was writing a book, he reasoned, everyone would know why he was there and would be more open and cooperative.    

Six weeks after Drucker returned home—after the situation had fallen apart—he received another call from General Motors. They invited him back to Detroit and told Drucker that they had changed their minds. They would allow Drucker to write a book based on his study of the company. Drucker said that he would “not allow them to censor it except for actual facts.” He spent the next 18 months studying every corner of the large car company, visiting every GM division east of the Rockies.

Meanwhile Alfred Sloan made it clear to Drucker that he was against the idea of bringing him [Drucker] in, but as long as he was there, he was to be completely honest in his assessment of GM’s managers, and him [Sloan] in particular. This emperor was adament: he wanted to be told when he was wearing no clothes. In time Drucker came to regard Sloan as a leader with unbridled character—as well as one of the most effective CEOs of his day—or any day. Sloan taught Drucker many things that stayed with him. For example, Sloan taught Drucker that when all members of a management team quickly come to agreement on one course of action—that course of action is usually wrong! Meaning: management teams must take their time on important decisions, particularly people decisions.     

As Drucker told me his personal story (I interviewed him three days before Christmas in 2003), he repeated several riffs again and again. He told me that he “didn’t know anything about business from the inside,” since he never managed anything. He also said that he got into management “totally by accident.” Drucker went so far as to pronounce himself “the world’s worst manager.”

A bit of history: early on, Drucker had written two successful books (including The End of Economic Man, 1939), which is how General Motors top management learned of Drucker in the first place. Had General Motors not called Drucker that day in 1942, Drucker may never have become…well, Drucker! The first business book, Concept of the Corporation (1946), came out as a direct result of his study of GM. Drucker established the field of management as a social discipline, a major accomplishment in post-World War II America.

When I asked Drucker how he was able to accomplish so much if it all came down to “luck” or “accident,” all of a sudden he got deadly serious and shot back with the following:

“Don’t call it accident. Opportunity favors the prepared mind. If opportunity knocks at the door you have to open it. You have to be receptive to it and I was.” 

 

The Phone Call that Launched a Discipline

In the last posting I discussed how important it is to grab an opportunity when one presents itself. Peter Drucker described to me how he seized on something that not only changed his future—but altered the future of an entire body of discipline.

It was the winter of 1942, almost 60 years to the day that I sat with him in his sitting room. Drucker received the call that would forever change his future.  He told me that he was living up in Vermont but then had rented an apartment near Colombia. He was intensely interested in learning how large organizations were run. He went to the library, “but there was nothing,” he told me, sounding disappointed (interesting aside: before Drucker, the word organization was not yet used to describe corporations). Then, that winter, a call came from a man named Paul Garrett. Mr. Garrett explained that he was General Motors’ Vice President in charge of public relations, and he had been asked to invite Drucker in to make a study of GM’s top management.       

One of the most remarkable things about the episode was that Drucker never found out who’s idea [at GM] it was to call him: “I never have been able to find out who wanted this—everybody denies it,” Drucker told me, obviously amused.  

It certainly wasn’t the CEO’s idea. Back then, the CEO of General Motors was the legendary Alfred Sloan, the man Drucker would later credit with being the first “professional manager” (along with Pierre S. Du Pont). Sloan made it clear to Drucker that he was against the idea of bringing him [Drucker] in to GM. 

Drucker visited GM and toured the facilities before sitting down with the Vice Chairman of the company, Donaldsen Brown.  Drucker told the vice chairman that he cannot do this—he cannot study GM management because everyone will see him as a a “top management spy.” However, Drucker explained that he could do it under one condition: “in this united country,” asserted Drucker, “you can do anything if you say you are writing a book.” 

Brown said “no, we will not have it.”

That was it. It was a stalemate. There would be no study of GM. Drucker returned home, disappointed that he would not be able to study a large corporation. Come back Friday to get the rest of the story.

HINT: It could not possibly end there…we still have a discipline to launch!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting the “Ungettable” Interview

Many have asked me how I was able to get Peter Drucker to cooperate with me and grant me a multi-day interview (even though it was later shortened). After all, in the publishing world he was known as someone who not only did not grant interviews to book authors, but also someone who ferociously protected his copyrighted works (meaning he did not easily grant authors permission to quote from his published works). At least, that was the perception of Drucker in literary circles. The reality was something different.

It is true that Drucker did not grant many interviews to books authors. I knew he had cooperated with an Atlantic Monthly editor more than a decade ago (Peter Beatty), but as a rule of thumb, Drucker did not speak with book authors.  He once said “one of the secrets of keeping young is not to give interviews but to stick to one’s work—and that’s what I am doing.  Sorry, I am not available.” To this day I wonder why he suddenly became available to me, a relatively unknown author. The full story is documented in the beginning of Inside Drucker’s Brain, but I will include a few details and lessons here.

First, never take anything for granted. Just because someone had granted few interviews in the past does not mean that he or she won’t change going forward. Drucker, who had just turned 94 before our full-day interview, had his legacy in mind when he opened his doors to me (literally, and figuratively). Getting that interview with Drucker was critical to putting together an important book, since he had written  so many books already (38 in all). In other words, sans new and fresh material, the book would have been far less compelling.

Timing is everything: Who knows? Had I contacted Dr. Drucker only a few months earlier it is likely he would have turned me down. Shortly before I had seen him he had been operated on for colon cancer. By the time he had reached his 94th birthday he had pretty much stopped writing new, original books (some of his works were compilations of earlier chapters and works). Although he had always denied that he was “the inventor of management,” he did nothing to dissuade me from that notion when I mentioned that to him in a letter I wrote to him in the fall of 2003.  

Understand “the urgency of now:” Once Drucker made the offer for me to visit with him and interview him in his home I quickly accepted. My personal philosophy has always been there is not “a moment to lose,” and that was certainly the case here.  Aside from Drucker’s age, there are always other unseen factors that might change the calculus. That’s why it always pays to pin down an important opportunity as soon as it presents itself.

Come back Wednesday when I describe how Drucker explained to me how he grabbed an opportunity when  it presented itself—one that put him on a new a path and changed his life’s work.   

 

 

 

 

Technology and the Writer

Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Lewis Carroll, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare—what do these famous authors have in common? All of them had to write their legendary books without the help of a personal computer. A few might have had the help of a typewriter—the first practical typewriter was invented in 1865 by Christopher Sholes—but none of them had a Dell or IBM personal computer to craft their works.

As I write, I often think of these great writers and wonder how they did it—how they were able to write hundreds and thousands of pages without the use of a word processor?  It wasn’t until the later years of the 1980s that computers took the place of typewriters.

However, among the people that had it the hardest are the men who hand wrote the holy scripture of Judaism—the Torah (also known as the five books of Moses) . Most scholars date the Torah from  539 to 334 BCE. However, Talmudic teachings hold that the Torah was actually created 974 generations, or 2,000 years before the earth was created and God used it as a blueprint to create the earth. 

No matter what you believe, each Torah is hand-written on parchment scrolls in a very exacting, Jewish calligraphy.  Given the sheer size and weight of those scrolls, writing them in hand with “crowns” but no vowels is a massive undertaking.  I remember from Hebrew School that each Torah has to be perfect or it could never be used in prayer. These traditions date back thousands of years. I cannot imagine a more difficult writing assignment. But we are getting off track. Let’s get back to more contemporary, more secular writing.

As an author, I simply could not do what I do without a PC. I am a terrible typist (I never learned how to type) and make mistakes in every line that requires correcting. I remember using a typewriter to ask some very prominent people to write books for the publishing companies I worked with at the time: Ted Koppel and Walter Cronkite were just two of the people I invited to write for us. Since these letters had to be perfect, I remember keeping a wastebasket close at hand. Every time I wrote one of these letters I was vigilant not to make an error. But I always did, and always had to start over again until I got it perfect.

But the computer and word processing program changed everything. I can make tons of mistakes and I never have to start over. But there are other advantages to writers today—all thanks to ingenuity and technology. For example, Amazon.com can be a huge help in writing most anything in business or technology. Most books on Amazon have a “Search Inside the Book” function which allows you to look at any topic or subject in the book by “typing” in a specific word or phrase. This was a huge help to me in writing the Peter Drucker book, for example.

In fact, I contend that the “Search Inside the Book” function is one of the best tools for writers to come along in years.  Suddenly, the contents of thousands of books become accessible in seconds. One can argue it is better than a library since beyond having to track down the physical book and check the index, you can search using any word at all, And it doesn’t take a publisher to tell you that no book can index every word or phrase.  

There is also, of course, Google which helps you to find just about any topic in seconds. Google often takes you to Wikipedia, an incredible source of information on just about any topic. I do suggest you double check anything on Wikipedia, just to make sure that you have multiple sources for your facts. This is important because just about anyone can enter information on Wikipedia (I used Wikipedia a few times in writing this post—you didn’t really think I know who invented the typewriter, did you?).           

There are hundreds of other sources on the Internet that can help any business or non-fiction book author. I suggest that writers use everything in their arsenal to write their books. Of course, if you are quoting from any published books or other copyrighted materials, you must source them and, in many cases, obtain permission from the copyright holder. If you don’t know the difference between the two, please consult with an attorney who specializes in publishing or copyright protection.   

 

    

Technology & The Book Jacket

 

With something like 300,000 books published each year in the U.S. alone, It’s no wonder that everyone judges a book by its cover; particularly the people who count the most, such as the book buyers for chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as on-line stores like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com . The ultimate book buyer —and reader of the book— also examines book jackets quite carefully before he or she decides to spend $27.95 plus tax for that book. That means that publishers feel increasing pressure to produce crisp jackets that capture the imagination of both book buyers and book readers alike.

Certainly I possess no skills of a jacket designer, but I know enough to know that technology has reinvented the way jackets are designed and produced. The many software programs designers use—-from Quark to Photoshop, have reinvented the entire process. From the perspective of a book editor who is chiefly responsible for guiding the designer and reviewing his or her efforts, the world has changed dramatically.

Even a little more than a decade ago, when I was at another large publishing house, I worked from a satellite office near Chicago, 700+ miles from the home office in New York. When a jacket was designed and approved by the senior people in the home office, the designer would have to mount the designs on black boards, and overnight them to us in the Chicago office. Then we would have a conference with all of the team members in both NY and Chicago to discuss the design(s). If they were approved by all, we would then overnight them to the author for his or her approval.  Those back-and-forths took most of a week. And what if the author (God forbid), hated her jacket? Then it was literally back to the drawing board for another week of design and meetings and approvals. I can remember several instances of this process delaying a book’s publication date. That’s something publishers hate to see happen, because everyone from the bookstores to the media is counting on that book to hit bookstores on that precise date. A delay ends up throwing a monkey wrench into the entire process, and winning the ire of everyone up and down the channel of distribution.   

Those days of jackets being overnighted all over the country are gone forever. Now the book designer comes up with a design, creates a PDF (in Adobe) of the design, and emails it to all of the key members of the team. And not just one version, but we often get four to six different sample designs for one book in a single PDF. Then we have a jacket meeting, and if changes are requested, they are usually made in a few hours.  Once we have a design or two (or more) that we like, we email those to the author in a PDF for his or her opinion. No Fed Ex at all (which is why I have always wondered how a company like Fed Ex continues to do so well).

Down the road, when we are preparing the final mechanical to be printed, we can see the jacket laid out on our screen That includes all of the flap copy, the spine, and the endorsements or “blurbs” that are printed on the back of the book. Not only has this made our processes faster, but it has also drastically reduced the number of errors as well.  Before the age of the PDF, it seems as if there were an inordinate number of errors on book jackets. Today, I cannot recall a single mistake on the jacket that we have made at my publishing house…I sure hope I haven’t jinxed them!! 

 

How Technology has Revolutionized Publishing

In the last two posts we discussed the downside of technology in publishing. There is of course much more on the positive side of the ledger. Few things have done more to enhance productivity in the book publishing industry than innovations in technology.

It didn’t start with Johannes Gutenberg (the first innovations in publishing took place in China much earlier), but his creation of the printing press and movable type circa 1450 forever transformed an industry (Drucker credits that invention for starting the “Third Information Revolution”).  One interesting aside: Drucker delivered a great “history of publishing lesson” during our day together,  explaining that the first novel ever published was Don Quixote, around 1600, a book that remains in print to this day (it’s a Penguin Classic).

Let’s flash forward about 400 years to discuss how technology has affected the publishing business in the modern era. The most obvious invention that had the most profound impact was obviously the computer.  Bill Gates believed that “there should be a computer on every office deskand in every home.” His prediction certainly came true in the publishing business, but in most every other business as well. Let’s focus in on some applications that have changed the way we do business in publishing.

First of all, before email, the only way for a prospective author to submit a proposal or manuscript was via hard copy through the mail. The unsolicited manuscripts without agents were put in what was commonly referred to as the “slush pile.” Today, at least in business book publishing, almost everything comes to us via email (no more slush piles). This is what makes my job possible. I work for Portfolio, a Penguin imprint, which is based in New York City (where most of the largest publishers reside). But I work out of my home office just outside of Chicago.

Most proposals are sent to New York, but the ones that are deemed most appropriate for me are emailed to me in seconds. If a big thought-leadership book comes to me and I want a diversity of opinions on that particular proposal, I can email it to the entire imprint team in seconds. Of course, this can also be done in other industries, but this technology is tailor made for us in publishing. I can almost not recall the last time I read a hard-copy proposal. I actually can review and read a proposal on-line faster—and digest more— than reading it in a hard-copy format.  

It’s not only submissions of proposals that have changed, but most every process as well. Manuscripts are edited and copy-edited online in the Microsoft edit program. They are emailed back to authors and they review and make changes and answer queries in the same program. The technology for typesetters has changed dramatically as well. Now anyone can be a publisher and tens of thousands of books are “self-published” by individuals and companies each year and used for many different purposes. It seems that not a week goes by without people sending us a good number of self-published books in search of an publisher. A good number of these are indeed published, or in these cases, “re-published” (that’s not a real word, I know). 

In fact, a decade ago we received a self-published book on day trading (the on-line buying and selling of stocks). That self-published manual went on to become the first day trading book, selling more than $2 million worth of copies (that’s more than 160,000 copies). That book sparked perhaps 50 more by publishers of all shapes and sizes.  The company I worked for then went from zero to $5 million in day trading books in a span of 24 months. That is, until NASDAQ came crashing down like a meteor out of control in 2000. But an industry was launched with a single self-piblished “manual.” Who knows what would have happened if we had not had the wisdom to publish that self-published book?

There are many other cases of technology enabling us to do things better, faster, and cheaper. Come back next week for more on this subject.       

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology and Business Book Publishing, Digging Deeper

In the last post, I focused on the downside of technology: how publishers have a long history of jumping on the latest technological invention before anyone had a sense of whether there were viable business models there. In this post, I want to dig deeper to explain why this happens in an industry full of incredibly smart people.  

First, publishers are often fearful of losing the label of “first adopters” or, at the very least, “early movers” when it comes to new technological formats or products.

But a most pertinent Druckerism can help us to understand why publishers often leap before they look.  In 1964, a prescient Drucker warned managers of the one thing they need to ensure success and survival: 

The purpose of a business is to create a customer…and knowledge alone gives the product of any business that leadership position on which success and survival ultimately depend.”        

The problem is that when publishers “overshoot” by buying into a new technology lock, stock, and barrel, they don’t possess the knowledge they need to make the kind of multi-million dollar decisions needed to launch a new publishing imprint or division.  That insufficient knowledge led smaller e-book companies to file for bankruptcy, but even the largest players fell prey to their own over-the-top ambitions.

In late 2001, Random House, which was one of the most aggressive houses to leap on to the e-book train, announced not that they were getting off the train entirely, but that they were shutting down its e-book division called “AtRandom.” Once a giant like Random could not make it work on a large enough scale, it send shivers down the spines of the rest of the publishing executives throughout the industry who had made similar “bet the job” decisions.

However, my thesis is not that these senior managers are dumb or uninformed. The opposite is true. These are incredibly bright, talented publishing executives. The problem, in part, is that in our industry it is very difficult to gain the kind of knowledge that Drucker spoke of above. And in Drucker’s view, that knowledge is gained in the marketplace—“the only place that matters,” he called it. 

In business book and most all other types of publishing, it is very difficult to obtain that knowledge. That’s because unlike other consumer products companies, we are putting out upwards of 100 or 200 or more “products” per year (depending on the size of the publisher, of course). Coca-Cola does not bring out 200 new products per year, nor does Gillette bring out 100 new razors or any other new men’s products. Lastly, it is very difficult to test market a book. One of my early mentors asked me “if I knew what marketing research in business book publishing is? When I had no response, he answered “the first printing.”        

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Last week, I promised to discuss the positive aspects of technology on publishing, and there are many. I keep my word. That’s what is on board for Friday’s posting.       

Technology and Business Book Publishing

 

OK, it had to happen. Sooner or later I had to address some of the issues related to technology and the world of publishing. If it sounds like I have given into this topic grudgingly, you’re right. I haven’t always been the greatest fan of technology. As a child, I preferred rotary phones to the new, fancy, “Pink Princess” push-button in my parents’ bedroom (having a second phone was a big deal in my neighborhood in the Bronx in the 70’s, but how do you show off a pink phone to your friends?).

Today, I have more several “antique” rotary phones in my home—including some vintage ones like my “Dial M for Murder” phone—than any modern day phones. That explains why I was the last one on my block to own a cell phone.  

But today, I am all up-to-date. We have three computers in the home and are pondering a fourth (one is my work computer). I have that cell phone, the latest digital and cordless AT&T phone creation, fax machine, a blackberry, and multiple printers—and cannot imagine doing business without any of them. But I am getting off-topic. Let’s get to the topic of publishing and technology.

My first real head-on experience with the subject of technology in publishing took place a month after I joined the profession. It was 1982, and I was at my first sales conference with a large publishing firm that will go unnamed.  A very high ranking executive of that firm delivered a speech at that meeting which I will never forget. In 1982 microcomputers were all the rage. They were the new, new thing and as a result, this executive made a stunning prediction: he asserted that within five years there will be no books—computers would take their place.  In five years books were bigger than ever but that executive was gone. There is an important lesson here, one that transcends the obvious irony.   

The publishing industry has a long record of jumping the gun when it comes to technology. Let’s go back to 1982. Because microcomputers seemed like an unstoppable force, dozens of publishers came out of the woodwork to bring out new books that would show users how to use microcomputers and apply them in various ways. The sheer numbers of these titles quickly skyrocketed into the hundreds within a year. When it all shook out the microcomputing category was of course a disaster. Even though we were one of dozens of publishers competing in that category, our firm, and its subsidiary imprints, had single-handedly created a glut in the market for microcomputing books. When you take into account the sheer number of other publishers doing the same thing, you can imagine the magnitude of the losses and write-offs that would be booked by various publishers over the next few years. 

It’s as if the publishing community does not want to miss out on any new opportunity, especially in technology. No publisher wants to get caught flat-footed when a genuine new phenomenon comes along. That includes the advent of CD’s and how they were going to transform the book publishing industry. The same was true with e-books when they made it onto the world stage in the early 1990s. New e-book divisons popped up overnight, and it didn’t take all that long before it became clear that we had gone too far.

However, in some areas, like in medical publishing, electronic publishing has indeed transformed an industry. For the last decade or so, doctors have been able to download incredibe amounts of information (such as drug interactions and compatibilities) onto hand held devices. And with new inventions like Amazon’s Kindle‘s e-book device and Sony’s PRS-500 portable reading device,  there is no telling where e-books will go. But publishers geared up earlier than was necessary, which led to big disappointments in the early going.

Now, lest you fear that publishing and technology has had nothing but a rocky relationship, come back next week to get the flip-side of the story.   

     

A New Season Upon Us

In the last posting, I talked about how September is back-to-school month. (It certainly is in my house, as my four-year-old twin boys started their second year of school Tuesday).  As a result, I feel compelled to enlarge the scope of this blog’s postings to include not only commentary on editing and the business book industry, but on the facts and lessons taught to us by the best business books of today—and yesterday. I will continue to write posts on the business book industry, but will intersperse these kinds of postings as well.  

Of course, I have a vested interest in the late Peter Drucker, since my next book (due out middle of next month), is devoted to summarizing many of the lessons he taught us in the incredible 70 years  that he was writing and teaching. Dr. Drucker died in 2005, eight days short of his 96thbirthday. One interesting tidbit: he shared a birthday with Jack Welch, who has admitted that some of his best management moves were ignited by Peter Drucker’s writings (and meetings—Welch went to see the “Clairvoyant of Claremont,” [my moniker], just weeks ahead of him taking over as CEO and chairman of GE in 1981).

I was fortunate enough to spend a full day with Peter Drucker two years before his death. Armed with two tape recorders, I learned more in that one day than in editing a decade’s worth of business books.  Peter Drucker was that special. Here are a few reasons why:

While living in Germany he challenged the Nazis and risked his life by publishing a positive, short book (“a pamhlet really”), about a Jewish German political philosopher in 1933. The book was banned and burned by the Nazis, but Drucker knew before he wrote it that it would be: “It made it crystal clear where I stood; and I knew I had to make sure for my own sake that I would be counted, even if no one else cared,” he explained.       

He correctly predicted Hitler and the Holocaust in his first book, The End of Economic Man (John Day), which was published in 1939 (although much of it was written years earlier).

He has been correctly called the “Inventor of Management,” as he wrote what I call the grandfather of the modern day business book in 1946, Concept of the Corporation  (John Day). But that was only the beginning. In 1954 he wrote The Practice of Management  (Harper and Row), which many assert—including me—that it remains the best management book ever written.

Even bestselling co-author of In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters, was reported to say that everything in Excellence “can be found in some corner or another” of The Practice of Management. That’s quite an admission from Peters. Excellence, published in 1982, launched the modern day business book revolution and sold three million copies in its first four years alone.   

Drucker wrote 39 books in his lifetime, and all of his business book remain in print in at least one or more languages around the world. That’s an almost unbelievable accomplishment when one considers that today, the average business book remains in print for about five years. Even three years after his death, Drucker is being discovered by new readers in diverse countries across the globe, such as North Korea, Estonia, and China.  

Those are just a few of Drucker’s achievements which will hopefully whet your appetite to learn more about a management pioneeer who came to this country in 1937 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2002. Perhaps the most remarkable quality about Druckerwas his humility. He was one of the most humble people I had ever met, telling me he had “no business experience,” calling himself  “the world’s worst manager,” and always denying that he was “the inventor of management.” He also insisted that he got into management “totally by accident.” However, there is no denying that the Vienna-born Peter F. Drucker established management as a social discipline. That’s quite a significant accomplishment for the world’s worst manager with no business experience who got into the management field totally by accident.

Please come back on Friday as I switch hats to discuss another “inside business book publishing” topic.      

 

 

   

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