As a New Year’s “treat” to our readers NJTechWeekly.com asked a number of N.J. Tech CEOs to think back on their reading during the year and recommend one book to their peers. Here are some of their responses, in alphabetical order by name of company:
Berkeley Varitronics Systems
Scott N. Schober, President/CEO, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) (Metuchen), a wireless security company known for its innovative products including the PocketHound-- which detects cell phones in places they shouldn’t be such as in prisons or in classrooms during tests-- gave us this answer:
“2012 was a tough year for business, so going forward, I was thinking a few months back how can I make 2013 a year of growth and change. I went back to a book I read a number of years ago that put me in the correct frame of mind as a CEO called Winning by Jack Welch.”
“Welch was at GE for 40 years and next year BVS will be celebrating its 40 year anniversary so I thought I would give it a fresh read. N.J. is a great state to have a wireless security business in because the proximity to surrounding states such as NYC and DC area allow you to get in front of key customers regularly. CEO's should constantly look for ways to improve their companies, their staff, and their offerings to stay ahead of competition.”
Billtrust (Hamilton) CEO Flint Lane recommended Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. Billtrust recently closed a $25 million funding round from Bain Capital. The company is a provider of innovative outsourced billing services.
“In typical fashion, the book zeros in on a handful of companies that had great success. The difference this time, compared to previous business books, was that these companies thrived in an extreme or uncertain environment. The author also does a masterful job of comparing them to some similar peer companies to try and demonstrate where the causality was, which is always tough.”
Lane provides two takeaways from the book:
“Fire Bullets, and then Cannonballs - The premise here is that the best companies don't gamble more or less than their competition, they are just more disciplined about the approach. They fire bullets at a variety of targets, and then they unleash their cannonballs on those that worked.”
“Return on Luck - I've always had a bit of pessimism about some business books when they write about companies that had great success without talking about luck. Maybe they were just in the right place at the right time. It doesn't take skill to win the lottery. Collins took this issue head on and actually researched how many luck events companies had. He made the case statistically that the number of good luck and bad luck events were about the same in peer companies, but what really was different, was what the great companies did with the luck events - or what he called return on luck. This seems obvious in hindsight, but every once in a while a big opportunity lands in your lap, and how you capitalize on it can make all the difference.”
Arun Verma CEO of DATA Inc. (Montvale), which has been in the news lately because of a survey of IT industry professionals the company conducted, said:
“I've read some very good books this year, so it's difficult to identify one that stood out to me. However, if I were to choose, I would have to say Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The premise of the book talks about what ultimately makes high-achievers different, and in the end, the findings in the book challenge conventional wisdom when it comes to successful people.”
“We do in fact pay attention to what successful people are like, versus paying attention to the factors that got them there. If we spent more time learning from the specific experiences of high-achievers, we could write our own success stories.”
DataMotion (Morristown) provides secure data delivery solutions such as encrypted email. CEO Bob Bales was not available to comment but Pete Cafarchio, senior vice president, pitched in.
His recommendation was Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute. He says:
“This excellent book effectively reveals your own personal blind spots that harm your relationships and limit your organizational leadership. Written in a simple story format, it gently slices away at your justifications and excuses in a logical way that you can follow. The process will reveal many “ouch” moments, as well as “a-ha!” moments, and then shows you the way to a better way of living.”
“I saw immediate results in both my work and family relationships literally within days after reading it. This book is clearly the top of my 2012 list for having the biggest impact on my leadership effectiveness.”
Datapipe (Jersey City) founder and CEO Robb Allen’s book recommendation is Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System by Scott Patterson. Datapipe offers a single provider solution for managing and securing mission-critical IT services.
Allen, who developed the concept of “operational empathy,” a core value at the company, says the book is an “interesting read that explores and explains how the internet & software technology has revolutionized for better or worse how stocks are bought and sold. Billions of dollars are transacted in micro seconds with virtually no human interaction.”
“Building a business in the technology sector, I have watched the impact of the internet and its effects on our daily lives first hand. This book gives an in depth view of the disruption that digital infrastructure has had on our financial systems.”
Stephen G. Waldis, CEO of Synchronoss (Bridgewater), the company that provides activation and management solutions to the cell phone and connected device industry and has been active in helping N.J. recover from Superstorm Sandy, (and as we went to press made news by purchasing the Irish cloud activation firm NewBay from Research in Motion for $55.5 million) recommends The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
“I like that the book shows how leadership is a relationship that must be nurtured, and most importantly, that it can be learned. There are a lot of case studies and examples from around the world and it focuses on the toughest organizational challenges leaders face today.”
“In typical fashion, the book zeros in on a handful of companies that had great success. The difference this time, compared to previous business books, was that these companies thrived in an extreme or uncertain environment. He also does a masterful job of comparing them to some similar peer companies to try and demonstrate where the causality was, which is always tough.”
Ofer Shapiro, CEO of Vidyo, the Hackensack-based growth stage startup that is making big moves in the video conferencing/telepresence marketplace, (lately Vidyo’s system was incorporated in the Nintendo Wii U) said:
“My recommendation is the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The story is a gripping tale about the ordeal of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who finds himself in captivity during World War II. Hillenbrand wonderfully describes how one can overcome the seemingly impossible by drawing on strength from within.”
“I found the book to be an inspiring testament to human will. Building a startup company is great experience and has its share of challenges. This book puts ‘normal’ challenges into perspective.”
Disclaimer: NJTechWeekly.com has no advertising or affiliate relationships with any of the publishers, book websites, or authors recommended here.