Using Robert Cialdini’s Five Weapons of Influence criteria, Bruce and Barry tell readers how they’ve managed to secure such a series of high powered, influential and well remunerated roles in companies like Qintex, HIH, AWB and OneTel, and how they became patrons of a variety of cultural institutions such as the Ballet and enjoy membership of some of the best Clubs in Australia.


Rule 9. Reading the right stuff is important but scanning the right stuff is better

There are so many new management and business texts published each year it’s well nigh impossible for the aspiring executive to find the time (and money) to buy and read them all.

It’s been found however that the business books that are the most popular are the ones that provide actionable lists for the harried executive, eg Seven habits of…, to Five rules for …, or even Secrets of success of …. Best of all, most business books with these sort of titles have a chapter dedicated to each of their ‘rules’ or ‘habits’ which generally only have one or two useful observations but are padded out with long and occasionally interesting anecdotes.

But how does one get through all the verbiage to the essence? A little tip from a couple of senior ex-McKinsey’s staff we recently heard from: take your note pad down to Borders, scan and note down the chapter titles of the most recent management text books (to help remember them) and then in subsequent meetings, speak long and hard about your recent insights, drawing from these books.

Pretty soon you will have convinced people that you are well read and more importantly, very insightful, which will shortly lead to increased authority and responsibility. Remember to constantly update your insights using the newest texts available to stay ahead of the curve.

Interestingly, the McKinsey alumni also said that this methodology is ‘de rigueur’ across McKinseys and most other Australian management consultants.

Occasionally you may need to provide a bit more insight than what can be easily gleaned from the back cover of the book, so we recommend scanning the back pages of Forbes or Fortune or similar such magazines where there are apparently many advertisements for business book summary services – in effect other people do the hard work of actually reading the book, and then distill the concepts down to a 2-3 page summary for easy consumption and subsequent recitation (although we suspect that in many instances the actual hard concepts would be hard pressed to even fill this amount of space).

Of course, if a book actually does take your fancy — or better still, actually teaches you something that wasn’t self evident — then do purchase it and ensure it has a prominent place in your office bookshelf.

Try to avoid buying or even reading books that focus on sharing the secrets of success of particular individuals – eg Jack Welch, Janine Allis etc (Bruce and Barry and this article of course excepted) – otherwise you may end up looking like you’re desperately trying to ape their success rather than establishing your own path to success.

As a final note, it is generally more impressive to refer to books that are not yet available in Australia so make sure you regularly review and choose from the recommended reading list at Amazon, Harvard Business School etc (and get your books them delivered to your office so colleagues can see that you are always receiving big parcels).