THE UNFORCED ERROR: Coming to a Bookstore Near You

In the last posting I discussed how neatly the world of sports and business fits together in the book world. As I discussed, for the past twenty years many world class coaches and some of the best athletes of our day have written inspirational leadership books.  I have had the good fortune to work on quite a few of them, including several books by John Wooden (of UCLA fame) and one by the late Bill Walsh (of Hall of Fame, 49er Super-Bowl coach) .

I have become such a fan of the “sports meets business” book that I could not help myself from getting into the act, even in an indirect way. Being neither coach nor world class athlete, I had to be creative in coming up with an idea that would transcend my lack of status in the sports arena. Like many city kids, I grew up in the Bronx playing all sorts of sports, mostly street sports like stick-ball, two-hand-touch football, basketball, baseball, etc. However,  the idea for the book came to me many years later, long after I had moved out of the New York City.  In fact, the book I would write borrowed its metaphor from a different sport altogether, one that I never played until I had long since left my Bronx origins. In fact, this was a sport I almost never played in the U.S., but instead, one that I played almost exclusively during my vacations in the West Indies—in Barbados, for a few days twice a year.    

However, the idea came to me not there—basking along the balmy beaches in Barbados—but in the heart of Manhattan, after witnessing dozens of stupid, career-ending or near-career-ending moves at the large publishing companies I had worked for in the 1980’s and 90’s and beyond.  It was watching people—smart managers and individuals for the most part—who made really God-awful decisions that helped me to conjure up the metaphor that would prove to be the nucleus of this book.  And these were not mistakes brought on by others, but mistakes made by people acting entirely of their own accord.

Tennis ball on Clay court

I thought these acts were “unforced errors,” just like the ones that take place on tennis courts all of the time. The term “unforced error” was coined in 1982 to signify an error made by a player in position to make the shot but muffs it by hitting the ball out of bounds, into the net, or not at all. That’s it, I thought. These managers committing acts of idiocy were making unforced errors by the boatload.

So, employing that metaphor,  I worked on that book for more than a year. The book’s primary focus is to point out those thorny traps so many managers fall prey to, and to better position themselves to nab that next great promotion. It is based on my personal experiences along with the wisdom of business titans like Jack Welch and Peter Drucker.

The book will be published two weeks from today, on October 15th. THE UNFORCED ERROR: WHY SOME MANAGERS GET PROMOTED WHILE OTHERS GET ELIMINATED. You can pre-order now by going to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

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