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Business Authors Are Phoning It In

Updated on March 29, 2011

When Arthur Miller died the question was posed- how much does an artist need to produce to be called a great artist? Arthur Miller is known for one play, one great play in the Death of a Salesman. He did have a secondary work in The Crucible. Arthur Miller had a long life and in that life he is known for little else than those two works. So, with so much time to give the question is asked- how much does an artist need to give us to be called great? The same can be said of JD Salinger. After Catcher in Rye he has written little else in his long life. He too has some minor works but will be known for his one major work. My opinion is that it is better for someone to give us one good work, than one good work surrounded with trash.

The Guilty Business Authors

It is frustrating for me to see great business authors be known for one great work and then to only dilute that work by producing printed garbage. What happens is great business authors begin to have a great name and that name will sell books. So, they began to print and produce books just because it will turn a dollar. This not only dilutes the great work, it diminishes their name. The following is a short list of some of my favorite authors who are guilty of printing "anything will sell books." Then following that list is another list of authors who have chosen to keep their work and name respectable.

Brian Tracy

The first business author has published a plethora of books. Brian Tracy has over twenty-five books to his credit. Indeed, he has had a long career with twenty-five books for anyone is substantial. His seminal work is the Psychology of Selling. I haven't read all twenty-five of his books so I can't say which ones are good or bad. I have read some of his books but I was hopeful that the topic at hand would give me some new insight. Unfortunately, many of his later works seem to be a collection of tips gathered from other sources> His later topics include the learning, time management, and goal setting. No doubt his book the Psychology of Selling is a selling standard, but many of his other books seem to be a money grab.

Seth Godin

I love the works of Seth Godin. And he really hasn't been that bad about just putting anything out there. His books Purple Cow, The Dip, and Tribes all are great books about different topic areas in which he is knowledgeable and insightful. Problematic with Seth Godin is that he has put out a few books on the same topic, not saying anything new. Most of them have been essentially been a rework of the Purple Cow. But he has seemed to work his way out of his Purple Cow phase and is now looking at other topics.

Malcolm Gladwell

My favorite business author is Malcolm Gladwell. His breakout book was the Tipping Point which covered how trends happen and what it takes for them to grow.  Another great book he wrote is about how we make decisions practically instantaneously is called Blink. And then my favorite book of his is called Outliers. It is a great book about success. However his latest book What the Dog Saw is simply a collection of his writings from the New Yorker. This being a blatant money grab. Making it worse is that many of these articles are available online for free. I hope he does not follow suit with other writers and just throw things out because his name will sell books.

Jeffrey Gitomer

When I first came across this next business author I was thrilled. Jeffrey Gitomer talked about selling in a unique and interesting way, he really got his point across. To this he does public speaking and keeps an active e-mail newsletter going. His first big work was The Sales Bible. His breakout work was The Little Red Book of Selling which is about selling.  Then produced a book about networking called The Little Black Book of Connections. The success of the Little Red Book and the Little Black Book made Gitomer famous. Capitalizing on that and he continued on with the little color book theme for some other books on soft skills. These books on soft skills is where I leave a disappointed fan, and no longer follow Gitomer's new stuff. I would still recommend his book on selling and networking but nothing else.

The Good Business Authors

As you can see there are those business authors who will write anything just because it will turn a dollar. Then there are other business authors who have more respect for themselves and their readers than to put out just anything. This latter group is to be respected and applauded.  Here are three of my favorites.

Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins wrote the book How to Master the Art of Selling which is a standard to this very day. This business author has had a great career as a consultant and speaker. He has his own training program based upon his book. However he has chosen not to diminish his name or his work with follow up books. I applaud him for this. How to Master the Art of Selling has gone under a number of editions and still holds the power of the original work. Every business professional needs to not only read How to Master the Art of Selling but needs to internalize it also.

Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey made his name with the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He did write one other book called The 8th Habit but has not written much beyond that. He too has had a great career as a consultant, speaker, and has a training program based on his book. His choice to not write garbage books exploiting his name keeps 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the most powerful success books to this day.

Jim Collins

Jim Collins made an impact upon the business world with his book from Good to Great. He did do a follow-up book that was less about capitalizing on his name and than it was to supplement the Good to Great to encourage people toward benevolence. Jim Collins is an educator and has a thriving consulting business.

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