Reviewer Joseph Valentinetti: Joseph was born in New York City and lives in California. He is a writer, poet, interviewer & reviewer. He also produces Video Book Trailers and contributes various items to several online sources and forums. His dog will vouch for him, if needed.
Today. Joseph Valentinetti, one of bookpleasures' reviewers, is talking to Bruce Piasecki. Bruce is the president and founder of AHC Group, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in energy, materials, and environmental corporate matters, whose clients range from Suncor Energy and the Warren Buffett firm Shaw Industries, to Toyota and other global companies. He is the author of several seminal books on business strategy, valuation, and corporate change, including the recent New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller Doing More With Less. Since 1981, he has advised companies about the critical areas of corporate governance, energy, environmental strategy, product innovation, and sustainability strategy.
Good day Bruce and thanks for participating in our interview
inspired you to write DOING MORE WITH LESS?
my daughter was 13, three years ago, she spent a week making her
signature look like Ben Franklin's flamboyant signature in his
Autobiography. In watching her see how much meaning I had placed in
that worn edition, I decided to reread his great works and essays as
an older father and a more mature company owner. Immediately... I had
the instinct that in a world of 7 billion souls, we all need to
become Ben Franklin all over again--frugal with our time and money,
diplomatic, instead of war-like, and inventive in terms of machines
Doing More With Less is about this
rebalancing of money, people and rules. Rereading Franklin
helped me develop a set of cleaner principles on the arts of
competitive frugality and industry. Of course there were plenty of
other inputs, but that was the start.
you describe a specific incident as a child that shaped your future
and your career?
father died when I was three. I write about that in the chapter
called Freedom and Fate, chapter four, the most difficult to write
chapter in this new book. It took until 10 years old, but I remember
the day when I realized if I was not able to earn my own keep in this
world, no one could give it to me. I was alone at the Long
Island Robert Moses beach number five. The day was extremely sunny,
and bright. And a beautiful but frail woman was walking in the
beach-side breeze with an umbrella. I watched her a long time, at age
10, with deep empathy, as the winds of the shore blew her around and
the umbrella nearly lifted several times from her hand, as she
persistently walked the windy beach.
Forty seven years later, I
end Doing More With Less with a mantra that "doing more with
less is success." I offer an image of what I keep under my
umbrella to assure my continued freedom and zeal. It proves a battle
worth fighting each day, and each book I write.
becoming President of AHC Group, you were a professor at Cornell,
Clarkson and RPI, what was that like?
spent 44 semesters being a professor, as I was building my firm. Two
institutions granted me tenure early in life. Yet, each week in
academe, I felt like a stranger in paradise. Cornell gave me a full
scholarship to get there, so I kept re-enlisting until I earned my
doctorate in 1981, the same year I founded the American Hazard
Control Group. But none of that matters compared to my meeting the
economist E. F. Schumacher, right before his death. When Schumacher
spoke at Cornell from his great book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as
if People Matters, it changed my life. I write about that as well in
Franklin stated that frugality and industriousness are the ways to
wealth-how has Franklin influenced your philosophy?
Franklin is fun to read. He is a jokester with a purpose. I strive to achieve that high hurtle as well in my work and my books. Of course he can jump a great deal higher than I can. Take for example his tale of the speckled axe where he argues with grace and force that imperfection is better than perfection. It is brilliant and timely, in a way. Just like "a penny saved is a penny earned." Witty turn, but something that keeps turning. That is how he influenced me, and millions of other readers.
It is satisfying to write in his
sportively serious manner. It allows a broader book, and a greater
range of commentary. Franklin remains not only an influence on how I
think and how I conduct my business at home and in the world. He is a
"friend", in a sense, despite being dead for a long time.
You read his work and you feel befriended. Now that is rare. I
believe his hilariously artful section on "the arts of virtue"
morphed deliberately into the "arts of competitive frugality."
From this 8th book, I know something new.....A book that people like
to read is an ocean of emotions, not a set of deep wells. It is
well-meaning to be an expert, but Franklin was a generalist, an
applied humanist, and fantastically insightful into what makes humans
human. For that, I owe my friend many thanks.
the book, you talk about "Knuckleheads." Who are they?
for bringing this up. Franklin, and I quote him, notes-- "We
are taxed twice by our idleness, three times by our pride, and four
times by our folly." Today we might call this a
dysfunctional person, someone lost in psychological wheel-spinning.
Yet we all know from work and from our neighborhoods--and especially
from the TV news and sports arenas, that knuckleheads abound. They
get in our way, and my point remains, that in a world of seven
billion souls, with limited resources, we cannot afford them without
correction. While what they do is not often illegal, it is
wasteful. I explore, in the opening chapter In The Company of
Knuckleheads, this growing social item of unrest up close.
It is fascinating to me how many radio and TV shows, a special set of private high end salons of intellectuals, and my speaking gig audiences, are fascinated and agitated by this chapter on Kunckleheads. I would be lying to you if I said I do not know why. But I do not fully know why I started this six essay book with this chapter. Luckily, this chapter brings in readers and commentators fascinated with sports, business, and those concerned about the state of civics and civilization. Last week, during a talk from the book, someone said this chapter reminded them of the 19th century essay by William Hazlett called "The Prize Fighter".
That's the interview. Thanks for reading it.
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