Book Review: Indispensable by Monday, by Larry Myler

Oh, how the abandoned Book List calls to me….

Despite the best laid plans, I haven’t paid much attention to my Book List. I got busy with school, work, and a dozen other things. However, recently my CEO gave me a book, Indispensable by Monday, by Larry Myler, that fit in well with my overall theme.

The Good

Honestly, my favorite part of the book was that it helped me understand who my CEO is better. A recent job change has added some new responsibilities to my plate that brings me into fairly regular one-on-one contact with the CEO, and I’ve found the book helpful in understanding how and why he thinks the way he does.

Myler also presented a new (to me) way of looking at business, expenses, and value in a company. I had always kind of taken the approach that every dollar in a business was more or less equal to any other dollar. Not quite true. Myler illustrates that found dollars are more valuable than earned dollars, and that you, as an employee, can become infinitely more valuable to your company by actively finding dollars. The difference between found dollars and earned dollars is that found dollars go directly, and entirely, to the bottom line. Earned dollars, however, have all sorts of expenses associated with them that, in the end, reduces them to mere pennies. Depending on the company, finding $1,000 dollars in savings may very well be the equivalent of producing tens of thousands in sales, and Myler suggests that few employees understand the basic principles behind that that allows them to present themselves as truly valuable, and therefore indispensable, employees.

That is knowledge I greatly appreciate having.

The Bad

I struggled with this book in a lot of ways. Myler gives numerous suggestions for improving your worth in a company, but as I reviewed the list, I actually felt somewhat powerless to enact the changes he suggested. It just didn’t seem reasonable. For example, Myler pointed out that one of the first things he does when consulting with a company is to review the utility rates and ensure that they are being charged appropriately. While we may scoff at the idea, he pointed out that finding even $5,000 in annual savings in this one area that all businesses have may, depending on the company, result in huge savings over the long-term. And he’s right. However, how am I as a low-totem employee, supposed to enact that kind of change?

Myler would probably strongly disagree with me on this, but I realized halfway through the book that much of what he was saying applies really to managers, directors, and others who have more direct influence. Yes, you and I can and should do much to improve our worth to the company, but many of the changes are simply beyond our abilities to enact.

And if I may add the caveat on that…. It’s not so much that you and I can’t do those things, but that many businesses don’t necessarily encourage or allow that. Let’s be honest, how many of you work for a company that would grant you access to the Lease Agreement for your office if you asked for it? The utility bill? How many of you work for a company that would freely offer up sensitive financial data for your review? How many of you work for a company that would allow you to freely review internal processes for cost savings, especially if your job had nothing to do with those areas?

I guess what I’m saying is that I do agree with Myler, but I find his suggestions impractical for most of us because our business cultures don’t encourage that. Even knowing that my CEO is a big fan of this book, I cannot see the situation where I could gain access to the resources I would need to enable me to even begin researching those changes. I just can’t.

In my new role, I’ve been responsible for improving employee engagement and helping our company improve internally. If I’ve noticed anything it is that the employees themselves are quite eager to grow, to learn, and to do more than ever before. They are willing to see the company succeed and accomplish wonderful things. They are eager, hungry, and willing, and when they are given the chance, they respond. But what I haven’t seen yet is the reciprocation of the same from the upper echelons. I haven’t seen those attitudes encouraged. In fact, I’ve seen them squashed. I haven’t seen those people supported. In fact, I’ve seen a steady stream of them leaving because they gave up.

That’s not to say that there isn’t hope and potential, that there aren’t managers who have caught that vision and work and act in ways that encourage growth, because I have also seen that as well. But the principles in Myler’s book only work effectively in a two-way street system where the give is as great if not greater than the take, where the trust is greater than the distrust, and where the support and encouragement is ubiquitously dominant over any other attitude.

Let’s be honest…. I’d work for Myler in a heart beat if he actually behaves as he says we should (I believe he does). In the meantime, I’ll settle for pushing my company more in that direction as well.

Conclusion

Hmm…. I didn’t care for the book that much at first; I freely admit that. But I also purposefully waited a few days to write the review the allow time for my thoughts to congeal a little and separate and combine again in new ways. Thinking back at it, I think Myler doesn’t necessarily account for the fact that most companies don’t function as he portrays. That’s a negative. However, he does paint an attractive picture of mutual cooperation across the breadth of a company that, if it existed, would be a benefit to all.

I’d like to work for that company.

NOTE: Please recognize that this is a public post, not private, and that your comments and questions might not necessarily reflect highly on my current position if they were ever seen. I’ve been careful to write what I’ve written in ways that I feel are fully defensible and justifiable. If your comments don’t reflect that and have the potential to cause me harm, I reserve the right to edit them.

And having put this note on here, I can only imagine the hilariously awesome remarks most of you are concocting in your minds…. And yes, Sarah L., I’m mostly looking at you. 🙂

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