Be on the Book: Mavericks at Work Edition

December 28th, 2006

As I have said again and again (insert broken record sound effect) this blog is about words and deeds. Scratch that, clever words and deeds? Since that’s what I blog about, I thought you’d be interested in this month’s Braithwaite Book Club book – Mavericks at Work. It’s by two founder journalists for Fast Company, William Taylor and Polly LaBarre. This book is full of smart words and witty deeds. And let’s face it; these are the kinds of gifts that just keep on giving throughout the holiday season…


For instance, let’s start with the title. Any ideas from where the word maverick is derived? Any guesses? Give up yet? The word Maverick comes from a Texan rancher and politician, Sam Maverick, who let his unbranded cattle roam semi-wild instead of branding them and caging them in fenced-in ranges. That sort of independent spirit describes the companies profiled in this book, those that embody originality and ingenuity.

One of the most thought- and discussion-provoking sections of the book was on what companies stand for. It’s about their core values, similar to what Jim Collins calls the hedgehog values. One of the best examples out there is Southwest Airlines. According to their leadership, they stand for freedom. It may seem like a lofty goal, but when you hear or see it, it makes perfect sense. And they’ve found a way to brilliantly integrate that core value into their operations and marketing.

We spent a lot of time at our Book Club meeting talking about this issue. Truly maverick companies stand for something. And it’s up to them to articulate it. Our Braithwaite Marketing Boot Camp is a tool we use to help companies figure out who they are and how to articulate their core values in the market. During our discussions, we realized that like many consulting companies, we don’t take our own advice. So we scheduled a time in January to do a Marketing Boot Camp for ourselves. Self-consulting – it’s the new frontier.

Innovative companies like Pixar, ING Direct, Cranium, Commerce Bank, Cirque du Soleil, SEI Investments (who’s, ehem, a client) and more are also featured in the book both for their values, but also for their other maverick strategies and tactics.

We’ll have to wait and see whether this is the way of the future, but Taylor and LaBarre make a great case that it is.

I’m not the only one who thinks this book is great:

My friends at selected Mavericks as one of its Best Business Books of 2006.
The folks at chose Mavericks as one of the Best Innovation and Design Books of 2006.
The Economist picked Mavericks as one of its Books of the Year for 2006.
And The Financial Times chose Mavericks as one of its 2006 Picks of the Year for Business Books, so if you don’t take my word, take theirs.

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