This is not so much a book review as it is my reaction to a powerful work from a man doing remarkable things to change the world.
Almost Isn’t Good Enough by Soles4Souls founder, Wayne Elsey, is also a book about shoes. And about a man. And about the human condition. And about management and leadership. And about revolutionizing the management and fund-raising practices in the world of not-for-profit organizations.
That’s a lot of “Abouts” packed into 161 pages of pure motivation and inspiration. I read the book in one sitting (in lieu of watching the National Championship) and set the book down and sat there, almost breathless from the scope and scale of what Wayne and the team at Soles4Souls are working to achieve. To date, they’ve provided over 12 million pairs of shoes to those in need around the world, and the ticker on their web-site indicates one pair is provided every 7 seconds.
In addition to the good work that this former Shoe-industry executive and his team are doing to ease pain and suffering, I found Wayne’s approach to leading, managing and his propensity for action, action, action, refreshing. There’s inspiration and practical guidance here for every manager, leader and aspiring professional, regardless of industry or profit orientation.
Setting the Stage:
-From the Foreword by Dan Pallotta, author and nonprofit sector innovator: “This amazing book is part blueprint for running a 21st century humanitarian organization operating on the power of daring 21st century ideas, and part personal manifesto.”
-And from the Introduction by Wayne: “This book is a roadmap. It’s not another leadership book that offers a step-by-step program for success. It offers key principles that have defined my personal decision making and guided my professional success as a corporate executive and as a philanthropist and nonprofit leader.”
Art’s Comment: the book lives up to those bold claims. The story of Soles4Souls is appropriately told as part of the autobiography of its founder and offers his views on a broad range of managerial and leadership issues.
-On the power of clarity in pursuit of success: “Our success is a direct result of our commitment to keep our focus simple and clear. “Soles4Souls is about providing shoes to people in need.” Whatever other initiatives may come along, that one will remain the foundation of our organization.”
-“Absolute clarity is the key to unlocking the complex nature of business and tapping into the energy that converts an idea to reality and transforms a hobby to an organization.”
Art’s comment: (roar of the crowd) “Yeah!”
More of What You Can Expect Without Stealing the Thunder:
- Beyond the opening and interesting autobiographical content, Wayne serves up a series of chapters rich in business lessons along with his perspectives on what it takes to succeed as a humanitarian organization in this chaotic world. And you cannot miss his consistent drumbeat on the need for Not-for-Profit leaders to revisit the assumptions on how they manage their organizations.
- The chapters on decision-making, the importance of growth, promoting a culture of action, obsessing over numbers and developing comfort with chaos, all offer pragmatic guidance backed by a loud reminder to quit talking and get moving.
- The parting content offers guidance for dealing with failure, the need to focus on the view out of the front windshield and the universal power of creating and providing hope. Last and not least, Wayne wraps the book up focusing on the motivational and transformational power of human connections.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
I’ll end where I started. This book moved me. I can count on one hand the number of books in the business/management genre that have had this impact.
There’s a series of powerful messages here, coupled with a call to action for all of us to get up and get moving. I’m drawn to non-traditional approaches to building great organizations and teams, and the book is filled with real-time and real-world examples.
At the end of the day, the leadership and management guidance here is both simple and profound: hire great people and pay them well, constantly clarify your mission, measure carefully and constantly, teach people to make fast decisions, say “no” to the wrong stuff, ensure that leaders knock down obstacles and promote action, action, action!
I truly hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did. Of course, after getting to know Wayne through the book, I think that he’ll care little for whether we like or don’t like the book, and be truly concerned on what we do with the insights to help our fellow travelers on life’s journey.
-I received a complimentary copy of the book from Wayne.
-The link to Amazon includes my affiliate link. Any and all commissions earned from this book will be passed along to Soles4Souls.