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effective executive

The Effective Executive

I cut my teeth on reading this masterpiece and many dozen management books later, this is still my favourite. Written in a simple style, I was able to apply the techniques, or at least observe the recommendations at work and conclude that this book is timeless in its appeal.

What makes an effective executive?

The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.

Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned:
•    Managing time
•    Choosing what to contribute to the organization
•    Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
•    Setting the right priorities
•    Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter F. Drucker demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.

the art of war

The Art of War

Strategy, foresight, prudence, responsibilities are so well outlined that they can be applied to any business situation.

The Art of War is the Swiss army knife of military theory--pop out a different tool for any situation. Folded into this small package are compact views on resourcefulness, momentum, cunning, the profit motive, flexibility, integrity, secrecy, speed, positioning, surprise, deception, manipulation, responsibility, and practicality. Thomas Cleary's translation keeps the package tight, with crisp language and short sections. Commentaries from the Chinese tradition trail Sun-tzu's words, elaborating and picking up on puzzling lines. Take the solitary passage: "Do not eat food for their soldiers." Elsewhere, Sun-tzu has told us to plunder the enemy's stores, but now we're not supposed to eat the food? The Tang dynasty commentator Du Mu solves the puzzle nicely, "If the enemy suddenly abandons their food supplies, they should be tested first before eating, lest they be poisoned." Most passages, however, are the pinnacle of succinct clarity: "Lure them in with the prospect of gain, take them by confusion" or "Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent." Sun-tzu's maxims are widely applicable beyond the military because they speak directly to the exigencies of survival. Your new tools will serve you well, but don't flaunt them. Remember Sun-tzu's advice: "Though effective, appear to be ineffective." --Brian Bruya --


The ancient Indian treatise which talks about affairs of the state. Military inferences and application of the king’s authority aside, what I like is the way in which it demands long working hours from a leader and how his daily schedule sets the tone for good governance.

The Arthashastra, published in 2000 by Penguin Classics is the English edition of the classic treatise on classical economics and political science by the ancient Indian philosopher Kautilya. The text of this great book includes 15 books, each addressing one topic pertaining to the state and its economy. The books include topics like the law, the king, foreign policy, discipline, capturing a fortress, and the duties of the government rulers. Kautilya explains in detail the duties and virtues of an ideal king. The descriptions include a break up of what the ideal king should do during the course of the day and how the king should behave in typical situations. The Arthashashtra also includes detailed strategies like gift, bribery, illusion, and strength to deal with the neighbouring countries. The other important sections of the book include maintenance of law and order in the state, forests and wildlife, and economic ideas. The book discusses how the Mauryans protected forest wealth, including trees and animals. The importance of maintaining law and order for smooth functioning of the state is also given importance.
7 habits

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The first two are my favourite, ‘be proactive’ and ‘begin with the end in mind’.

This book is a refreshing change to 'how to act around people' based self-improvement books. This book presents a very valid argument that principle-based character development is a lot stronger than 'how to act and look ' personality-bending self help books that are popular in today's plastic, aesthetic and extroverted-salesperson based personality cliche model culture. This book will maybe bring about a paradigm shift in your approach to what true confidence actually is and firmly challenges the the late 20th century and early new millennium quick-fix-personality-plastic-surgery self improvement books that timeshare salespeople worship every night in their brand name pyjamas. A very interesting approach. I'd say that this book is a delightful Trojan horse in the disguise of a personality manipulating book, but in fact it is much more than this and is the most genuine self-improvement book that I've ever read.

leading teams

Leading Teams

Richard Hackman, one of the world's leading experts on group and organizational behavior, argues that teams perform at their best when leaders create conditions that allow them to manage themselves effectively. Leading Teams is not about subscribing to a specific formula or leadership style, says Hackman. Rather, it is about applying a concise set of guiding principles to each unique group situation—and doing so in the leader's own idiosyncratic way. Based on extensive research and using compelling examples ranging from orchestras to airline cockpit crews, Leading Teams identifies five essential conditions—a stable team, a clear and engaging direction, an enabling team structure, a supportive organizational context, and the availability of competent coaching—that greatly enhance the likelihood of team success. The book offers a practical framework that leaders can use to muster personal skills and organizational resources to create and sustain the five key conditions and shows how those conditions can launch a team onto a trajectory of increasing effectiveness. Authoritative and astutely realistic, Leading Teams offers a new and provocative way of thinking about and leading work teams in any organizational setting.
dynasties of the sea

Dynasties of the Sea

A must for every shipping executive who gets to hear from various stalwarts of the shipping industry on how their insights and perseverance led them to success.

Dynasties of the Sea is the first book to examine one of the most powerful forces in global trade and economic development: world shipping and the magnates who drive the industry.

Operating from Monaco to Hong Kong, London to Athens, Singapore to Oslo, shipowners and their financiers have changed the world in every way.

From transporting agricultural products from Brazil to Africa and the Middle East, to delivering Australian iron ore to China, to carrying Middle East crude oil to Asia and the Americas, to carrying almost every article of clothing you are wearing and every electronic device in the world, shipowners have enabled global economic development and helped raise the global standard of living.

While ocean shipping remains one of the most important businesses in the world, it is also one of the most volatile. Affected by such imponderables as weather and political upheaval, shipowning cultures have maintained their commitment to an industry that has endured for centuries - and will continue to endure for centuries to come.

Profiles include Jim Tisch, Loews Corporation; John Fredriksen, Frontline Ltd.; Angeliki Frangou, Navios Maritime Holdings; Peter Evensen, Teekay Corporation; Philippe Louis-Dreyfus, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group; Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., WL Ross & Co.; Dagfinn Lunde, DVB Bank; Morten Arntzen, Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. and more.

The candid and detailed first-person profiles that comprise Dynasties of the Sea provide critical insight into the psychology of today's generation of shipping magnates, from how they view risk - politically, economically and environmentally - to what they see transpiring in the world tomorrow.



This book is a must-have for every ship captain. It is lonely at the top and during those times, this book is a great companion. A favourite from my time at sea.

star at work

How to Be a Star at Work

Great strategies which prove that a star is made, not born.

This book is excellent for attacking misconception stalls (bad thinking habits based on a misunderstanding of the circumstances) that retard almost all careers. Everyone I know who had a fast rising career used the principles in this book: But they had to figure out some of the principles for themselves.

As a young person, many lack the experience and judgment to derive these principles. For example, many will see conforming to the views of co-workers (many of whose careers are going nowhere) as the way to get ahead. Not!

As your first step toward becoming a star at work, read this book and apply its principles. If you want to go further and be a Superstar at work, read on for more instructions you will need.

Careers are also plagued by other flawed thinking habits not explored in this book including poor communications (assuming the message is received and understood without checking), disbelief in promising new ideas and technologies (check these new perspectives out carefully before you dismiss them), tradition (habits that have outlived their usefulness), bureaucracy (having people involved unnecessarily), harmful procrastination (delaying when the situation is deteriorating), and avoiding ugliness (everyone else avoids it also, so the best opportunities are often in the most unattractive aspects of your operations).

To be most successful, you need to be able to create better solutions.

awaken the giant

Awaken the Giant Within

Experience and Qualifications being equal, winning mind-sets make the difference!

Wake up and take control of your life! From the bestselling author of Inner Strength, Unlimited Power, and MONEY Master the Game, Anthony Robbins, the nation's leader in the science of peak performance, shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life.

The acknowledged expert in the psychology of change, Anthony Robbins provides a step-by-step program teaching the fundamental lessons of self-mastery that will enable you to discover your true purpose, take control of your life, and harness the forces that shape your destiny.


seiing yourself

Seeing yourself as Others Do

This book changed the way I looked at myself, that it is our own responsibility to manage the way we are perceived by others that it is true to what we believe about ourselves. A great book filled with practical ideas.

Most of us have a very different view of ourselves than others have of us. Whether we have a positive or negative view of our appearance, demeanor, or personality, we do not have the right or ability to have others see us in the same way. How they view us depends on which aspects of our lives they see, their own life context, and whether they have interacted with us personally for a length of time or have just heard about us from others. Yes, first impressions do matter and most of us have no idea how we come across in those instances.

Carol Keers and Thomas Mungavan have provided a very helpful guide to understanding this important part of our interactions with others. This book provides techniques and exercises that help you change those perceptions in ways that allow you to manage this important key to your professional and personal success.

The book has nine chapters and I found each of them to be valuable. The first is an introduction to the idea of perception and its very real power to affect our lives. They introduce the first of their acronyms - CLEARLI, which helps you remember what you need to project to have what they call Authentic Executive Presence. The acronym stands for Command, Leverage, Expectations, Audience, Relationship, Listening, and Inspiration. Reading this section and applying it will more than repay you for the book all by itself.

its your ship

It’s Your Ship

A great book with a naval background. The book shows how great leadership can make a command & control environment even more effective.

The story of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and his command of USS Benfold has become legendary inside and outside the Navy. Now Abrashoff offers this fascinating tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas. When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, a ship armed with every cutting-edge system available, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and take responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became "It's your ship," and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency. How did Abrashoff do it? Against the backdrop of today's United States Navy-Benfold was a key player in our Persian Gulf fleet-Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management including:

  • See the ship through the eyes of the crew: By soliciting a sailor's suggestions, Abrashoff drastically reduced tedious chores that provided little additional value.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: The more Abrashoff communicated the plan, the better the crew's performance. His crew would eventually call him "Megaphone Mike," since they heard from him so often.
  • Create discipline by focusing on purpose: Discipline skyrocketed when Abrashoff's crew believed that what they were doing was important.
  • Listen aggressively: After learning that many sailors wanted to use the GI Bill, Abrashoff brought a test official aboard the ship-and held the SATs forty miles off the Iraqi coast. From achieving amazing cost savings to winning the highest gunnery score in the Pacific Fleet, Captain Abrashoff's extraordinary campaign sent shock waves through the U.S. Navy. It can help you change the course of your ship, no matter where your business battles are fought.

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