Todd Skinner is a world-class rock climber and renowned motivational speaker whose Beyond the Summit: Setting and Surpassing Extraordinary Business Goals (Portfolio, $24.95) contains beautifully written accounts of daring climbs. His explanations of how to apply 40 life-and-death lessons of mountaineering to the dollars-and-cents world of business are, however, sometimes confusing at first sight.
Take No. 26, for instance: "Always fall toward the summit." What could that mean? Skinner explains you should aim to push yourself into the unknown and see that, if you do fail, you learn enough to better your chances next time. Skinner's unusual ideas and unsurpassed wealth of high-altitude leadership experience make this an interesting and helpful read for entrepreneurs looking for offbeat inspirations.
Bill Davidson is no mountaineer. He's a Harvard-educated business consultant who spent 10 years researching 70 companies from Amazon to Dell to create Breakthrough: How Great Companies Set Outrageous Objectives-and Achieve Them (John Wiley & Sons, $27.95). So although his book is similarly aimed at helping businesses achieve outstanding accomplishments, his approach is more mainstream.
Davidson advises entrepreneurs to set outrageous objectives and to use creative thinking about customer care, cost reduction and other variables to reach customers. He points to one manufacturing company suffering under a mountain of debt that started giving employees cash bonuses every time its working-capital needs declined sharply. Soon the company freed up enough cash to pay its debts. Then the CEO set a new outrageous objective-to have negative working capital.
These books present very different approaches to the same challenge. But whether you're climbing sheer granite faces or facing rock-solid competitors, one of them will help you on your way.
By Todd Skinner
by Bill Davidson
Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Smart Moves" columnist. Don Nichols is a freelance editor and writer in Dallas.