Editor Steve Wilke sums up some of his favorite books of the month.
THE ROAD TO REINVENTION //
Fair warning. Josh Linkner’s latest book may prompt you to quit your job and open that canoe rental place you’ve fantasized about. Or start selling Grandma’s cherished recipes out of a booth at Eastern Market. At the very least, you’ll question the status quo of what you do at work. The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation ($27.99, Jossey-Bass) is a warning shot across the bow for today’s business leaders: Adapt constantly or die. This primer on avoiding stagnation discusses how to retool or rethink a product and how to change a corporate culture. It also speaks to individuals about adopting positive leadership qualities and leaving personal legacies (“You are here for a reason, and it isn’t to hide in a cubicle forever.”). A host of examples illustrate Linkner’s points, including how Kmart went from behemoth to bankrupt and the tale of a newly divorced mom teaching herself the restaurant business and spawning the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain. Linkner (whose 2011 book Disciplined Dreaming was a New York Times best seller) also holds up Detroit as an example of how atrophy and apathy led to bankruptcy. But the message isn’t gloom and doom. As the CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, Linkner is clearly a cheerleader for the city. He sees bankruptcy as a chance for Detroit to reinvent itself. We’re hoping his bold prediction comes true: that some day Detroit will be studied “… as the greatest turnaround — and reinvention — story in American history.”
THE WALRUS & THE ELEPHANTS //
September marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first Detroit visit. But another key show by one of the Fab Four is a focal point in James A. Mitchell’s The Walrus & The Elephants: John Lennon’s Years of Revolution ($23.95, Seven Stories Press). In December 1971, Lennon played an Ann Arbor benefit for John Sinclair, who had been jailed for possession of marijuana. Mitchell chronicles Lennon’s hesitant involvement in a variety of movements as well as his love affair with New York City. There’s another local connection. Wayne “Tex” Gabriel (who had done stints with Mitch Ryder) was in Elephant Memory — Lennon’s backup band for a short time. Mitchell’s well-researched book also includes interviews with Gloria Steinem and Congressional Black Caucus co-founder Ron Dellums. A paperback version is due in December (the anniversary of Lennon’s 1980 death at the hands of an obsessed fan).