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Taking People With You

Most good leaders know that success is not an individual achievement, which is why J. Archie Lyons, IV, global brand marketing creative director at Caterpillar Inc., picked "Taking People With You." Written by David Novak, chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc. (owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC), the book explains why, as a leader, motivating the people with whom you work is paramount to accomplishing your objectives.
What information in the book resonated with you?
Success is dependent on two criteria: your own determination to succeed, and the people you encounter and partner with along the way. Overall, the latter probably has greater impact on your life. As the author writes, "You'll never accomplish anything big if you try to do it alone."
What differentiates "Taking People With You" from other business books?
The elements of the book I find particularly helpful are the insights from real J. Archie Lyons, IV, global brand marketing creative director, Caterpillar Inc. business leaders. Novak, himself the CEO of a huge company, gathered input from other business leaders, so there's parity among the different organizations. This isn't a textbook without any real relevance to what you do everyday. You can see the tangible connection to real life, and I think that's missing from most business books out there today.
Speaking of tangible connections, what makes this a good read for exhibit marketers?
In the world of exhibits, we have to rely on a lot of other people, including show management personnel, transportation carriers, internal stakeholders, union labor, etc. If we don't bring those people along with us and show them our vision for what we want to accomplish, we end up spending most of our time putting out fires. In the end, we do twice as much work to make that vision happen. I've learned how to step back and look at the situation and determine a way to restate my vision so my team members get on board in a positive way. It's creating a shared experience that bonds people and helps them feel appreciated. In the end, you must get their involvement to have their commitment.



Now, Discover Your Strengths

This book, added to the Summer Reading List by Tim Naegelin, CME, senior trade show associate at Abbott Vascular, helps readers identify their talents and build them into strengths. It focuses on finding the hidden strengths of people and exploiting them, rather than finding weaknesses and trying to improve them.
What prompted you to add this book to the list?
This book has given me the encouragement and support to really dive further into my strengths and talents. I spend too much time trying to figure out what I need to learn to get rid of my weaknesses and not enough time building on what I'm good at. Doing that has given me renewed passion for my job.
If you had to use one example to illustrate the author's theory, what would it be?
There is a story about a man named Mike who had a horrible stammer. He had severe angst about talking to people, and he was constantly teased. When he graduated boarding school, he was forced to read a passage to the entire class. When he stepped up to the podium and began, everything flowed out effortlessly. He discovered that he liked being on stage in front of a group of people. It actually relaxed him, and his brain could work more easily. So rather than trying to fix the weakness of his stammer, he found that using his strength of speaking in front of a large group helped him overcome it.
We live in a society where weakness is frowned upon, but not everyone can be excellent at everything. How does the book teach you to focus on your strengths?
Almost from the get go, the book reinforces that you don't need to find the weaknesses within yourself and fix them, but rather find the strengths and build on them. Once you identify those strengths and talents, determine how they fit into your life. In our jobs, we're often told what our areas of improvement are, rather than being applauded for our strengths and making them better. Filling in the gap of a weakness will help you some, but if you don't have the underlying talent in that particular area, it won't necessarily build you into a better performer.




Presentation Zen

It's safe to say that nearly everyone has sat through a boring PowerPoint presentation (or 10) in his or her professional life. "Presentation Zen," recommended by Steven Marchese, CTSM, manager of corporate events at Fujifilm Medical Systems USA, is a primer on how to avoid "death by PowerPoint" syndrome.
PowerPoint has been around for 20 years, and yet it's still a mainstay even in this digital age. Are people using it differently today?
Being able to communicate ideas and concepts in these tech savvy times creates the need for presentations to take a new approach that is dynamic and visually appealing. Corporate presentations need to move away from being a recitation of bullet points to more of a dynamic, interactive, and emotional experience for the audience.
So presentations need more pictures, but fewer words?
That's certainly part of it. Using the principles of Zen philosophy, including the "less is more" cliché, the book's author, Garr Reynolds, describes the virtue of replacing content-laden, bullet-pointed presentations with visually stimulating images and minimal text. His presentation Zen approach relies on storytelling and audience engagement, ultimately raising the quality of professional speaking.
That approach might intimidate people who aren't comfortable presenting in front of a group to begin with. Does the book explain how to become a better speaker in general?
It helped me improve my presentation skills, and I learned that all graphics - regardless of the medium - should be simple, concise, and engaging. The book is divided into four distinct sections: Preparation, Design, Delivery, and Next Steps, each of which is followed by an "in sum" end page that reviews the principles outlined in that section. Each section also includes real-world speech examples, and the second edition is updated with important lessons that all presenters can learn from Steve Jobs' legacy. My "aha" moment is that the best presentations have an emotional, intimate, and storytelling aspect to them. That's now what I strive to achieve when I present.




Poke the Box

According to Bonalyn Boyd, creative director of B-Creative Solutions, "Poke the Box" by Seth Godin will inspire readers to be the source of innovation and creativity for others. "It might mean risks and it might mean failure," she says, "but it will be anything but stagnant, and it will create momentum in your life toward achieving something spectacular."
What led you to pick up and read, "Poke the Box"?
I am a fan of Seth Godin's books. I don't always have the time to sit and read the encyclopedias of best business practices, but Godin's books are small and they are packed with ideas, and truly motivate me to change the world. This just happened to be the next one on my list.
If you had to identify the most inspirational anecdote in this book, what would it be?
There is a great little story about Woodie the dog who wears a shock collar for protection within the area of his invisible fence. He learned - the hard way - that crossing the border would result in a rather unpleasant feeling. At some point, the invisible-fence system stopped working, but poor Woodie was too afraid to push the boundary. The boundary is in his head, not in the system. It's time to remove your shock collar. Companies need innovation. They need thrill seekers. They need you to bring them back to life and take them to greatness. What do you think exhibit managers can learn from reading the book?
If you read EXHIBITOR, you are probably a dreamer, someone who loves being inspired and inspiring others. Remember when you dreamed dreams, or thought that you could make a ramp with a board on a soda bottle, and if you went fast enough on your skateboard, you could jump over a car? You failed. But you adjusted the ramp, the calculations, and the height of the object over which you would jump. You didn't give up. Your friends bragged about you at school. They even called you crazy! But you did it. I say, do that again. This book will inspire you to move, to see failure as a gift because it means you are that much closer to achieving greatness.

J. Archie Lyons, IV,
global brand marketing creative director, Caterpillar Inc.

Tim Naegelin,
CME, senior trade show associate, Abbott Vascular
Steven Marchese,
CTSM, manager, corporate events, Fujifilm Medical Systems USA
Bonalyn Boyd,
creative director,
B-Creative Solutions
       


How to Design a "WOW!"
Trade Show Booth


Recommended by Lucy Albert, CTSM, exhibit coordinator at the Space Telescope Science Institute, this book offers the basics of designing a straightforward, effective exhibit on a budget. Filled with practical tips and information, it's a small book packed with the fundamentals of good booth design.
Have you used this book to help aid you in the exhibit-build process?
Absolutely! I used it as a guide when I was tasked with developing a new booth to showcase the Hubble Space Telescope at our science and education conferences. I found its practical information extremely helpful, and I was able to make realistic decisions that ultimately resulted in acquiring a really great booth. I've used it for smaller booths, too.
Is it fair to say this is a good book for exhibit managers with small budgets?
Definitely. Our academic organization is nonprofit, totally funded by the Lucy Albert, CTSM, exhibit coordinator, Space Telescope Science Institute National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and as such, we stay financially conservative and quite reserved with our exhibits. I had just been given the task of creating a brand new booth for Hubble and, in the very first chapter of the book, I found the information and ammunition I needed to convince my superiors that an attractive, well-designed backdrop would be an asset to enhance our presence on the show floor.
It's not often that you're able to put what you've read into action so quickly and effectively. How much of the book's value is tied back to the way it was written?
The ideas are presented forthrightly and simply, without tons of useless verbiage. None of us have time to go through major tomes, and having the ideas presented succinctly is priceless. The book taught me how to present my ideas about a new booth in a systematic and reasonable way, and as a result, our institute acquired a new exhibit that has undergone many incarnations for different venues over the past several years. What's more, I used this experience in my CTSM portfolio - so I credit the book with helping me get my certification.



Who Moved My Cheese?


An oldie but a goodie, "Who Moved My Cheese?" was added to the list by Dominique J. Cook, CTSM, trade show coordinator for Marvin Windows and Doors. The book follows four main characters (two mice and two small people) as they work their way through a maze toward a piece of cheese - a metaphor for navigating the corporate world.
Mice, tiny people, cheese, and a maze - this sounds more like a J.R.R. Tolkien novel than a business book.
Yes, there are mice, but rest assured it's about more than a maze and some cheese. It's really about learning how to adapt to changes in your environment. It teaches you that those willing to adapt end up gaining the most - i.e., the cheese - while those unwilling to change often get left behind. I've watched so many people actually work hard to not adapt (due to fear of the unknown, sheer stubbornness, and so on) when things change both in their Dominique J. Cook, CTSM, trade show coordinator, Marvin Windows and Doors personal and professional lives. I think this simple book could help provide some clarity for people who face similar challenges.
So it's kind of like one of Aesop's Fables, but for the corporate world?
I suppose you can look at it that way. It definitely has a life-lesson component. And in fact, if I were managing a team, I would want my staff to read this book. With the current state of the economy, nothing remains the same for long. Everyone has to adapt almost daily. This book shows that if you are not willing to change, you will be left behind. And you can't rely on your friends to lead you down the correct path. You need to figure it out on your own.
How has the book helped you do your job?
I admit I was scared of change when I first became an exhibit manager. But I took an amazing project-management class in grad school, and this book happened to be required reading. I learned not to be afraid of change but rather to embrace it. Now, when I have to make the decisions that I know are scary, I'm not afraid to pull the trigger because I know it will ultimately lead me to more cheese - well, not literally.




Running the Gauntlet


"Running the Gauntlet," added to the list by Holly Seese, global marketing communications manager at Celanese Corp., is an entertaining read about change management and how it can propel a business to the next level. Seese points out that all too often, companies languish because they are stuck in their same old way of doing things. "You need to be a change agent to wake up a company and help it to see real potential in the future," she says. 
What is the single most important lesson you learned by reading the book?
At one point in the book, the author, Jeffrey Hayzlett, recommends making an informed decision, but to make it quickly. Paralysis by leaders, even when the writing is on the wall, is the demise of many great companies. There's also a section in the book that talks about realizing that you might do the right thing, or you might do the wrong thing in a particular situation, but in the end, it's highly unlikely that anyone is going die because of it - unless of course you're a doctor or something. I think that's a good and applicable takeaway for exhibit and event managers.
It's easy for CEOs and presidents to make decisions that lead to sweeping changes - they're in charge, after all. So how do you affect change if you don't hold a position of leadership within your own company?
The book urges readers to be the change agents in their own companies, regardless of whether or not they're in the C-suite. So if you want something changed, sometimes you have to do it yourself. That's a valuable lesson for everyone - be the change you want to see. I think Gandhi said that.
Indeed. Would you say the book has helped you grow in your role as an exhibit-marketing professional?
I think I push for resolution a little bit faster instead of over-thinking every little detail. I learned to put my effort in the areas where it is needed most. Also, reading the book has helped me challenge some of my own internal processes, and the lessons I learned from it have enabled me to streamline things in my exhibit-marketing program. 




Steve Jobs


It's no surprise that "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson contains anecdotes that reach far beyond the realm of technology and electronics. Aside from being a true Silicon Valley visionary, Jobs was an astute businessman, which is why John Zeltin, manager of event marketing for American Express Co., added the biography to the list and urges exhibit and event managers to read it.
We all know Steve Jobs, who passed away late last year, as the genius behind tech wonders such as the iPad and iPhone. But while reading the book, what surprised you most about the man in the black turtleneck?
The book was authorized by Jobs himself, and it's obvious it was carefully researched. The result is a very frank description of a man that many of us only knew as the guy who founded Apple Inc. It's a great and fascinating study of a real visionary and genius. At the same time, Isaacson writes that Jobs was very difficult to work with, and especially hard on those closest to him.
So the book taught you how to work with "visionaries" (aka difficult people)?
We all work with people that we don't quite understand, to put it diplomatically, and learning to make the most of professional relationships is obviously important, especially for exhibit and event marketers. Reading how this man started Apple, was forced out, and then returned to lead it back from the ashes is really quite amazing. In the book, Isaacson reports that Jobs always wanted to work with "A performers" and wanted nothing less than perfection. I guess that pursuit of perfection is why people labeled him as being quite difficult to work with.
What makes it a must-read for exhibit managers?
I think it's a must-read for everyone, not just exhibit managers. Apple changed the way we work, and the book takes you through the evolution of technology in Silicon Valley. It's very interesting stuff, and in fact, the main idea I took away from it is that you can accomplish amazing things if you have a laser-like focus and a constant dedication to deliver the best work possible. I think that's something we can all take to heart.

Lucy Albert,
CTSM, exhibit coordinator, Space Telescope Science Institute

Dominique J. Cook,
CTSM, trade show coordinator, Marvin Windows and Doors
Holly Seese,
global marketing communications
manager, Celanese Corp.
John Zeltin,
manager, event marketing,
American Express Co.
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