UNDER THE HOOD by Stan Slap
March 09, 2015
Stan Slap has a new mantra for your business, your employee culture, and even perhaps for your self: "You can't sell it outside if you can't sell it inside."
Stan Slap's new book, Under the Hood, contains a very simple mantra:
"You can't sell it outside if you can't sell it inside."
As I mentioned last week when I put up an excerpt from the book about "WHAT THIS BOOK WILL DO FOR YOU", we were already fans of Stan Slap before this book came out. We have two quotes on our office walls: the first is a quote about bookselling from our former owner, A. David Schwartz, and speaks to our own mission and internal culture, and the other is from Stan Slap's first book, Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, and it's about how to lead an employee culture based on one's own personal values.
It is a topic he knows a lot about, and more importantly for you and me, it is a something he knows how to teach others. To that end, there are four "parts" to this new book. The first two explain "The Seven Deadly Sins of Cultural Commitment" and "The Four Vulnerabilities" of company culture. These two parts make up the the bulk of the book, are the most pragmatic and practically applicable 220 pages, and where you will spend your time studying.
Part 3 of the book is only one and a half pages, because it is effectively the book's conclusion, but it packs a punch worthy of a hundred or more—Slap just knows how to get there in one and a half. There is a quote from James Baldwin that wraps up the purpose of the book beautifully, and brings the following quote into poetic focus:
Culture is where humans gather in business ... It is up to you if you want to treat what is most important to these humans with disinterest and depress their sense of who they are and what they deserve. Or if you treat them with the honor that humans have earned regardless of their position in the hierarchy of an enterprise, and lift their sense of who they are and what they deserve.
An employee culture's profound search for safety and meaning is a reminder that we all inhabit the same world; we all have these same concerns. ... Treating your employee culture with empathy, concern, and respect is not a performance tactic or a job responsibility. It is a mirror that reflects you own true humanity.
Part 4 contains the book's acknowledgments and notes. But, being a Stan Slap book, these are not constructed as they would be in most others. The "Research Notes and Tangents" here are unique, and uniquely personal—from the thank you to his family, his company, and those at his publisher ("This is a Portfolio book. I love saying that."), onto thanking words and the very alphabet itself, and thanking the music he listened to while writing this book, particularly the song The '59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem. It's rare that an author lets you into the quirks of their mind as intimately as Slap lets you into his, and that sets his book apart—as does the artistic, collage-like manner in which he presents his research notes. I like to think the mantra "You can't sell it outside if you can't sell it inside" has a profound meaning to him here, which shows great respect and offers a great benefit for his readers.
Slap writes in his introduction that "short of homicide, the worst thing one human being can do to another is to make them feel small: You're not. You can't. You won't ever be. This is a killing of the soul, of hope, and of potential. Domination and disregard drive me absolutely nuts, whether it's committed by individuals or by organizations." And he does not commit this sin himself. He is not a self-important author, lording his knowledge over his readers, expecting you to follow his instruction to the letter, to give him your undivided time and accolades. He knows your busy, and that you'll use his book however it suite you and your organization best, and his book is designed to help you regardless of how and when you can give it your time:
Of course I want you to cancel every listing on your calendar, bar the doors, and read this book start to finish in one jaw-dropping, life-changing lost weekend of epiphanies. That will give you the ultimate understanding of culture, which is the ultimate key to your success as a manager. But if you're facing an urgent performance issue, you can also self-curate these pages for focused help.
Go right to the Original Sin to get the essential explanation of what your employee culture really is, and why it chooses to buy or reject any management plan. Go right to any of the other Seven Sins for fast tactical steps you can take around issue like change, communication, and compensation. Go right to any of the Four Vulnerabilities to fix circumstances of unusual stress on your company.
What I want most for you is the success you want for yourself.
We have 20 copies available to those who are ready for the journey—or rather, for those who are ready to get Under the Hood to fine-tune up their employee culture for the journey.