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About Geoff Colvin
Geoff Colvin, is Fortune's senior editor-at-large and has written hundred of articles for the magazine including its popular column Value Driven. He lectures widely and is the regular lead moderator for the Fortune Global Forum. Colvin graduated Harvard cum laude with a B.A. in economics, and received his M.B.A. from New York University's Stern School. His first book, Talent Is Overrated, earned global acclaim and was a Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and New York Times business bestseller. www.GeoffColvin.com
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One of the most popular Fortune articles in many years was a cover story called What It Takes to Be Great. Geoff Colvin offered new evidence that top performers in any field--from Tiger Woods and Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch--are not determined by their inborn talents. Greatness doesn't come from DNA but from practice and perseverance honed over decades.
And not just plain old hard work, like your grandmother might have advocated, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness.
Now Colvin has expanded his article with much more scientific background and real-world examples. He shows that the skills of business, negotiating deals, evaluating financial statements, and all the rest obey the principles that lead to greatness, so that anyone can get better at them with the right kind of effort. Even the hardest decisions and interactions can be systematically improved.
This new mind-set, combined with Colvin's practical advice, will change the way you think about your job and career and will inspire you to achieve more in all you do.
As technology races ahead, what will people do better than computers?
What hope will there be for us when computers can drive cars better than humans, predict Supreme Court decisions better than legal experts, identify faces, scurry helpfully around offices and factories, even perform some surgeries, all faster, more reliably, and less expensively than people?
It’s easy to imagine a nightmare scenario in which computers simply take over most of the tasks that people now get paid to do. While we’ll still need high-level decision makers and computer developers, those tasks won’t keep most working-age people employed or allow their living standard to rise. The unavoidable question—will millions of people lose out, unable to best the machine?—is increasingly dominating business, education, economics, and policy.
The bestselling author of Talent Is Overrated explains how the skills the economy values are changing in historic ways. The abilities that will prove most essential to our success are no longer the technical, classroom-taught left-brain skills that economic advances have demanded from workers in the past. Instead, our greatest advantage lies in what we humans are most powerfully driven to do for and with one another, arising from our deepest, most essentially human abilities—empathy, creativity, social sensitivity, storytelling, humor, building relationships, and expressing ourselves with greater power than logic can ever achieve. This is how we create durable value that is not easily replicated by technology—because we’re hardwired to want it from humans.
These high-value skills create tremendous competitive advantage—more devoted customers, stronger cultures, breakthrough ideas, and more effective teams. And while many of us regard these abilities as innate traits—“he’s a real people person,” “she’s naturally creative”—it turns out they can all be developed. They’re already being developed in a range of far-sighted organizations, such as:
• the Cleveland Clinic, which emphasizes empathy training of doctors and all employees to improve patient outcomes and lower medical costs;
• the U.S. Army, which has revolutionized its training to focus on human interaction, leading to stronger teams and greater success in real-world missions;
• Stanford Business School, which has overhauled its curriculum to teach interpersonal skills through human-to-human experiences.
As technology advances, we shouldn’t focus on beating computers at what they do—we’ll lose that contest. Instead, we must develop our most essential human abilities and teach our kids to value not just technology but also the richness of interpersonal experience. They will be the most valuable people in our world because of it. Colvin proves that to a far greater degree than most of us ever imagined, we already have what it takes to be great.
Some businesses—and some people—will emerge from today’s economic tumult stronger and more dominant than when it started. Others will weaken and fade. It all depends on critical choices they make right now.
Geoff Colvin, one of America’s most respected business jour-nalists, says even the scariest turbulence has an upside. The best managers know that conventional thinking won’t help them in tough times. They’re taking smart, practical steps—frequently unconventional and even counterintuitive—that will not only keep them strong, but will also distance them from the pack for years to come.
The dozens of top-performing leaders Colvin interviewed reject the common view that slashing costs and firing employees are the only effective tactics. They see volatility as a rich opportunity to reinvent their organizations and lay the ground-work for future growth.
Colvin shows us how these strategies really work, using exam-ples of major companies that have successfully applied them.
According to Larry Selden and Geoff Colvin, there is a way to fix this problem: manage your business not as a collection of products and services but as a customer portfolio. Selden and Colvin show readers how to analyze customer data to understand how you can get the most out of your most critical customer segments. The authors reveal how some companies (such as Best Buy and Fidelity Investments) have already moved in this direction, and what customer-centric strategies are likely to become widespread in the coming years.
For corporate leaders, middle managers, or small business owners, this book offers a breakthrough plan to delight their best customers and drive shareowner value.