January 29, 2011

Book Review: Heart & Soul

In the past I have avoided looking into the future of my kidney disease, while focusing on the here and now of my disease. That has begun to change in the last year, and if you recall I started the year by reading (and reviewing) a book about chronic illness, from diagnosis to postmortem. 

I received an email late last summer asking if I wanted to read a book. I ignored it, but only because our lives were still getting settled. I got a follow up email, but we were in the midst of moving into our apartment, so I said to send it along, since I knew we would be without internet for a week or two and I would need to break up the monotony of unpacking boxes.

The book offer came to me because of my kidney disease, and one of the chapters in the book is dedicated to DaVita, a major dialysis company that operates in the US. I know a little about them, but only from sitting in their waiting room when one of my nephrologists did office hours in one of their offices.

So, Heart & Soul: Five American Companies that are Making the World a Better Place is a book by Robert Shook. He conducted interviews with executives, peons and customers of five major companies: Mary Kay, Inc., Davita, InRETURN, Starkey Laboratories and World Wide Technology. All five of these companies have goals of doing great things for their customers and for their employees, and even greater things for their communities around them.

Starting off with Mary Kay was a great idea - even for those of us who do not use cosmetics. To read the story of a woman who had nothing, and lost that nothing, and made Mary Kay, Inc. into a multi-national company that does so much for so many women. Mary Kay set out to help other women move up the corporate ladder by structuring her company to not only allow, but to rely on the people in the fields to become the leaders for the next women. Brilliant plan, and she had the follow through to make it happen. Even more awesome is that she instilled her great will power and drive for success into others that after her death the company thrives and flourishes today.

Reading about DaVita was a bit weird for me. I really have avoided the whole concept of dialysis in my life. I don't want to think about it, even though I know that it will probably be a reality for me sometime in the future. I had one negative-nelly nephrologist tell me that I would be on dialysis at 29 and have a transplant by 35. I was too young to hear it when I hear it, so I have kind of blocked it since then. Lucky for me, the chapter about DaVita was not too focused on the process, but really was about the corporate structure and attitudes. Let me just say that if the company runs the way it is presented in this book, I am much more at ease about giving them my "business" later on, when needed.

The chapter I found most interesting was the one about World Wide Technology. They are a minority-owned, St Louis based company. They are a technology-solution company, and I see their sales reps from time to time come through my door. When WWT was founded, and to this day, it was set up with Biblical principles. Do unto others is a founding principle. The front office was (is?) made up of people that are completely customer driven, and they believe that their co-workers are customers to them as well. Some of the stories shared were incredible - the CEO driving a shipment six hours out of the way and helping to unload it himself just to make a promised deadline? That is a company that I can support, and a management style that I can appreciate.

I can tell you that their sales folks work under the same principles. They go above and beyond, and are genuine in their desire to get their customer what they need. I am just a receptionist, but their attitude when they come in is incredible, and contagious.

Heart & Soul is available at bookstores and online retailers. It is an easy read, even for me! I am greatly appreciative to have received a copy, and would definitely have purchased it on my own had I known about the great stories and examples of leadership contained inside. If every company was run like these five are there would be a lot fewer dissatisfied people in the world!

*Blah Blah Blah notice - I received a complimentary copy of the book Heart & Soul by Robert L Shook. No expectations of a review were given, and all thoughts contained are my own. If someone had fed me the words, I am confident it would have been more cohesive!

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to know there are some corporations going working for good and not evil.