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What the CEO Wants You to Know: Using Business Acumen to Understand How Your Company Really Works

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The universal laws of business success . . . no matter whether you are selling fruit from a stand or running a Fortune 500 company. Have you ever noticed that the business savvy of the world's best CEOs seems like a kind of street smarts? They sense where the opportunities are and how to take advantage of them. And their companies make money consistently, year after year. Ho The universal laws of business success . . . no matter whether you are selling fruit from a stand or running a Fortune 500 company. Have you ever noticed that the business savvy of the world's best CEOs seems like a kind of street smarts? They sense where the opportunities are and how to take advantage of them. And their companies make money consistently, year after year. How different is it to run a big company than to sell fruit from a cart or run a small shop in a village? In essence, not very, according to Ram Charan. From his childhood in India, where he worked in his family's shoe shop, to his education at Harvard Business School and his daily work advising many of the world's best CEOs, Ram understands business as few can. The best CEOs have a knack for bringing the most complex business down to the fundamentals -- the same fundamentals of the family shoe shop. They have business acumen -- the ability to focus on the basics and make money for the company. What the CEO Wants You to Know captures these insights and explains in clear, simple language how to do what great CEOs do instinctively and persistently: * Understand the basic building blocks of a business and use them to figure out how your company makes money and operates as a total business. * Decide what to do, despite the clutter of day-to-day business and the complexity of the real world. Many people spend more than a hundred thousand dollars on an MBA without learning to pull these pieces of the puzzle together. Many others lack a formal business education and feel shut out from the executive suite. What the CEO Wants You to Know takes the mystery out of business and shows the secrets of success used by business legends like Jack Welch of GE.


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The universal laws of business success . . . no matter whether you are selling fruit from a stand or running a Fortune 500 company. Have you ever noticed that the business savvy of the world's best CEOs seems like a kind of street smarts? They sense where the opportunities are and how to take advantage of them. And their companies make money consistently, year after year. Ho The universal laws of business success . . . no matter whether you are selling fruit from a stand or running a Fortune 500 company. Have you ever noticed that the business savvy of the world's best CEOs seems like a kind of street smarts? They sense where the opportunities are and how to take advantage of them. And their companies make money consistently, year after year. How different is it to run a big company than to sell fruit from a cart or run a small shop in a village? In essence, not very, according to Ram Charan. From his childhood in India, where he worked in his family's shoe shop, to his education at Harvard Business School and his daily work advising many of the world's best CEOs, Ram understands business as few can. The best CEOs have a knack for bringing the most complex business down to the fundamentals -- the same fundamentals of the family shoe shop. They have business acumen -- the ability to focus on the basics and make money for the company. What the CEO Wants You to Know captures these insights and explains in clear, simple language how to do what great CEOs do instinctively and persistently: * Understand the basic building blocks of a business and use them to figure out how your company makes money and operates as a total business. * Decide what to do, despite the clutter of day-to-day business and the complexity of the real world. Many people spend more than a hundred thousand dollars on an MBA without learning to pull these pieces of the puzzle together. Many others lack a formal business education and feel shut out from the executive suite. What the CEO Wants You to Know takes the mystery out of business and shows the secrets of success used by business legends like Jack Welch of GE.

30 review for What the CEO Wants You to Know: Using Business Acumen to Understand How Your Company Really Works

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leah Macvie

    This was a pretty good book. Unlike other feedback, I did enjoy reading it. I was in an interesting position at the time at a college that was run as a business. This book helped me understand my role in the college. I realized that I wasn't a good fit for my position because I didn't have much say in the global picture, and I wanted to. I had to move on. I've taken the tools I've learned in this book and applied them to my current position. I now have a say in the global picture, and I am very This was a pretty good book. Unlike other feedback, I did enjoy reading it. I was in an interesting position at the time at a college that was run as a business. This book helped me understand my role in the college. I realized that I wasn't a good fit for my position because I didn't have much say in the global picture, and I wanted to. I had to move on. I've taken the tools I've learned in this book and applied them to my current position. I now have a say in the global picture, and I am very happy about my move.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott Sinks

    Do you know how money works? Do you know how the most successful people on the planet manage their business? do you know what business acumen is and how it works? Do you ever feel like the path to becoming rich seems like street smarts? "What the CEO wants you to know" written by Ram Charan, explains everything you need to know about running a successful business as simply as it can be explained. Charan, repedively compares running a big business or corporation to running a small fruit stand from Do you know how money works? Do you know how the most successful people on the planet manage their business? do you know what business acumen is and how it works? Do you ever feel like the path to becoming rich seems like street smarts? "What the CEO wants you to know" written by Ram Charan, explains everything you need to know about running a successful business as simply as it can be explained. Charan, repedively compares running a big business or corporation to running a small fruit stand from a cart, or running a small shop in a village, through the overall understanding of how CEOs and companies demonstrate "business acumen" through their use of management fundamentals. This book essentially teaches the reader to understand the foundation of a business and use that information to figure out how your company makes money and operates as a total business. Once that is achieved this book explains you how to decide what to do with your business despite the chaos formed from the real world. Charan relates frequently to his family owned shoe store in India. This family-owned business fought hard for every sale, and each night the relatives discussed what had happened during the day, which goods customers bought and what the store's competitors were doing. When he left home to study and, eventually, to become an author and a successful advisor to CEOs and senior executives in companies ranging form start ups to the fortune 500, including GE, Ford, Dupont, EDS, Universal Studios and Verizon. Charan remembered those lessons, and has turned them into what he calls business acumen. To be honest, this book is a little over my head. My brother recommended me to read this book, he was referred to the book by one of his college professors. I would recommend this book to someone who is extremely interested in business and economics, and would want to pursue a career in the field. Its a very interesting book to understand how money works, and even more important how the business you work for, that makes you money works.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Ram Charan, a prominent business consultant, examines the functions of business by examining his own family's business in India. He explores the decision-making processes any CEO must use, looking at key issues such as profit margin, customer service, product turnover, and the like. He argues that though the companies may differ in size and other relatively superficial attributes, the functions and principles of doing business successfully are the same. Charan argues that successful CEO's and bu Ram Charan, a prominent business consultant, examines the functions of business by examining his own family's business in India. He explores the decision-making processes any CEO must use, looking at key issues such as profit margin, customer service, product turnover, and the like. He argues that though the companies may differ in size and other relatively superficial attributes, the functions and principles of doing business successfully are the same. Charan argues that successful CEO's and business leaders willingly seek out help and counsel from sources such as executive coaches, business colleagues, employees, and others, and that anyone who would be similarly successful must do the same. The book is a simple introduction to some very complex topics; a good way to begin.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Robins

    Unlike Execution, which contained a lot of extraneous material, What the CEO Wants You To Know gets right to the point. I was a bit confused by the title, but read it on a recommendation: it is simply what a CEO wants a person working for him, especially a manager, to know about business in general and their business in particular: margin, velocity, turnover, ROE/ROI/ROA, and so on, as well as how to fit people to roles and grow social operating mechanisms.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jose Miranda-alvarez

    "You make a bet even when you don't make a bet. That is, by not choosing to do anything different, you are choosing the status quo" A great reminder for any time one knows a decision has to be made, and yet one is hesitant about taking the risk. This is a great read to understand the basics of money making, combined with the importance of developing a culture of candor, and growing the right talent for the right job.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gustavo Garcia

    Good reading that will let your mind start thinking about different ways to help the business you opened or you are working on.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Quick and easy read for all levels of experience. For me personally, it was a refreshing reminder of what matters in running a business and how to get the most out of your team and apply it to a complex business cross-functionally. The “synchronize” material was particularly useful where leaders need to facilitate group effectiveness at solving business problems and exploiting opportunities.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Newell Starks

    If there is one book which any non-business person or new business person should read, this is it. As a person who has invested in companies for over 30-years and been on numerous boards for over 20, it is incomprehensible why others rate this less than a 5 star. The facts are that business is, at a very fundamental level (similar to sports), quite simple, which most people fail to comprehend. At another level, it can appear quite complex. The difficulty which most people have is that they get c If there is one book which any non-business person or new business person should read, this is it. As a person who has invested in companies for over 30-years and been on numerous boards for over 20, it is incomprehensible why others rate this less than a 5 star. The facts are that business is, at a very fundamental level (similar to sports), quite simple, which most people fail to comprehend. At another level, it can appear quite complex. The difficulty which most people have is that they get confused with the complexity and fail to cut through the clutter in order to get back to the fundamentals. For instance, follow Marissa Mayer's new technical strategy at Yahoo (dropping any product which cannot be completed within 6-months of starting) as a way to cut through the myriad of problems at Yahoo. This simple, fundamental method (rapid cycle time in product development) is likely to yield significant gains over any prior strategies used at Yahoo since it's inception. One could ask, why it took so long to make this decision - the answer is, it takes a very good CEO to cut through the clutter in a complex situation. That's basically what Ram Charan's book is attempting to tell the reader - a giant company is no different from a shoemaker - it's just a lot bigger.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    My husband recommended this book to me while I was working full time as a Credit Director at a national office furniture manufacturer. At the time, the information contained was pertinent and practical. It's not fun to read by any means and for those of you who have shared in one too many executive "go get 'em" meetings....well, some of this might be passe to you. Nonetheless, it's advice worth repeating and driving home the fact that we always have the choice and the gift of choice to excel at My husband recommended this book to me while I was working full time as a Credit Director at a national office furniture manufacturer. At the time, the information contained was pertinent and practical. It's not fun to read by any means and for those of you who have shared in one too many executive "go get 'em" meetings....well, some of this might be passe to you. Nonetheless, it's advice worth repeating and driving home the fact that we always have the choice and the gift of choice to excel at what we do - even if we don't necessarily enjoy our jobs, we can enjoy engaging others and helping them grow professionally.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jered Skousen

    If you want to move into the executive suite (or just be a better employee), this book gives some great insight. It is a short read (120 pages), and the first half is better information. The last half is some examples, and it is a little thin.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Winslow

    Loved this book. I've never been a business guy, I've always been a people guy. This book finally tied together some ideas I had about the way business works in a very easy to understand and concise manner.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abdul Koya

    My manager gave me this book to read. This is the only Ram Charan book that gave me valuable insight. Highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    JW

    This is a good primer, or re-education, for analyzing any business regardless of your position in the company.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lokesh Joshi

    Must read for team leaders and entrepreneurs !

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mahuang59

    Caveat "Margin X Velocity = Making Profit". I would highly encourage people who just entered the workforce to read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. www.100bestbiz.com This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. www.100bestbiz.com

  17. 4 out of 5

    Prabhod

    One of best business motivation books that is available out there, and anyone can relate to this book. Easy to read and understand...but very powerful

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan Ross

    Simple lessons. Easy to read. Great if you don't have an MBA

  19. 5 out of 5

    Theron Hatch

    This is a great book for someone interested in a quick understanding of business and leadership. Simple examples that anyone can grasp.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    All of us should be aware of how a business operates. Ram provides some insites into what measures are important to watch and the business acumen to make judgemetn on those measures.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Great book that decomposes large corporations to discover what really matters: how they make money

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vishnu Jaju

    A must-read book for all you business folks!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Subramanian Sankaran

    Simple, gentle and highly insightful look into leadership

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tommy Kiedis

    An exceptional business primer from an exceptional business consultant. Ram Charan takes us back to the business basics: customers, cash, return on invested capital, and growth. He helps the reader understand, work with, and improve on the fundamentals of business. Jac Nasser, the former Ford CEO, gave Charan the idea for What the CEO Wants You to Know. Charan was teaching a couple hundred Ford managers about the bigger picture of business. When Nasser sat in on session, he recognized the import An exceptional business primer from an exceptional business consultant. Ram Charan takes us back to the business basics: customers, cash, return on invested capital, and growth. He helps the reader understand, work with, and improve on the fundamentals of business. Jac Nasser, the former Ford CEO, gave Charan the idea for What the CEO Wants You to Know. Charan was teaching a couple hundred Ford managers about the bigger picture of business. When Nasser sat in on session, he recognized the importance of the topic for every member of the company and encouraged Charan to capture what he was saying on paper. What the CEO Wants You to Know is for everyone who "wants and needs a greater understanding of how their organization really works." That said, Charan focuses on millennials and the business-to-business (B2B) salesforce due to generational and business trends. As a pastor, nobody ever taught me this stuff when I was in school. How I wish they had. Seasoned CEO's may find this a helpful tool to share with their workforce, though the ideas presented are their everyday mastery. Here are 5 of my highlights: 1. Priorities: "Superior CEOs take care to define three priorities that will, in combination, take the business where they want it to go, and devote nearly all their time and attention to those priorities." Charan explains why fewer priorities are better priorities. 2. Simplification: If cash generation, gross margin, COGS, ROIC, a company's P/E multiple, income statements, and balance sheets are a foreign language to you, this book is for you. Charan cuts through the seeming complexity of business finance by providing clear explanations of the essential numbers and processes with simple formulas to help break them down. 3. The Growth Box: This simple tool for spotting new opportunities was worth the price of the book. See page 63. 4. Coaching: Chapter 8, "Expanding Capacity Through Flawless Execution" was also worth the price of the book. His portion, "Coaching on the Business Side" was extremely practical, Charan pointing out a significant flaw in my own coaching. On receiving constructive criticism: "Listen with your ego turned off." So good! 5. 2 Cents: Ram Charan helped me understand why 2 cents matters and why it should matter to every person in the company. See chapter 6. As noted, if you are a seasoned CEO this is more a tool to share than a course to take. Folks who want to better grasp the inner workings of business, read financial analysis, or improve their basic approach to business in the for-profit or non-profit sectors will find this a helpful means for improving business acumen.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Ram “has the rare ability to distill meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet, effective way without destroying confidences,” says former Chairman of GE, Jack Welch. In this update of the book he originally published in 2001, he very succinctly, and in simple language, describes the basics of what it takes to be a business success. In this book he clearly defines "the universal principles that apply whether you sell fruit from a stand or run a Fortune 500 company." The four basic mus Ram “has the rare ability to distill meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet, effective way without destroying confidences,” says former Chairman of GE, Jack Welch. In this update of the book he originally published in 2001, he very succinctly, and in simple language, describes the basics of what it takes to be a business success. In this book he clearly defines "the universal principles that apply whether you sell fruit from a stand or run a Fortune 500 company." The four basic musts for every organization, as he has observed over a career of consulting with CEO around the globe, are:  manage its cash effectively  use its assets wisely  constantly improve and grow  serve its customers He argues that while the complexities of businesses are different; their approach to business is not. "In every business, the basic building blocks are always the same." He uses excellent examples of how different companies have handled these basics, citing details that help the reader understand the contribution each plays in a company's business success. His chapter on financials, and the effective management of same, explains these issues in very direct and easy to comprehend language with appropriate examples. He uses Amazon's published financials to walk the reader through what this information looks like and how to interpret it. This is an excellent discussion of what it takes to create and maintain a successful business using four basic building blocks. It is well written, easy to understand and uses stories very effectively to make key points throughout the book. In fact, some of his primary examples include the small business his family operated in India when he was growing up and how he learned about business basics back then. The point is that this book could have a much greater impact on small businesses that need to master these basics. So, the one puzzling aspect of updating this book is why it seems to be directed to large companies and their employees. The title almost suggests this book is for individuals in large corporations with a CEO and not for any and every one who wants to understand what it takes to build a successful business. ARC provided by netgalley.com

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amber Lea

    It's hard to give this book a fair rating, because I have the 2001 edition and it didn't teach me anything, but I see how it could be a valuable book to the right person. This actually wasn't what I expected it to be. I knew it was going to be about what a CEO does and the mindset they would want their employees to have, but it is very much a business 101 book, and it goes as far as to ask you to do some math. But the book spends a lot of time talking to you as if you ARE a CEO. I personally had It's hard to give this book a fair rating, because I have the 2001 edition and it didn't teach me anything, but I see how it could be a valuable book to the right person. This actually wasn't what I expected it to be. I knew it was going to be about what a CEO does and the mindset they would want their employees to have, but it is very much a business 101 book, and it goes as far as to ask you to do some math. But the book spends a lot of time talking to you as if you ARE a CEO. I personally had a hard time staying awake for the stuff about the stock market and creating shareholder value. Being a CEO of a publicly traded company is my worst nightmare and imagining myself as one was not a fun exercise. In classic business/sales/persuasion fashion this book spends the first 30 pages telling you it's going to change your life forever or whatever, and for a book that's only 140 pages that's a lot. And this book has a few main points that are repeated at least three times, so really this book could have been...let's see (140-30)/3=36 yeah, this book could have been 36 pages without leaving out any information. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you're really confused about how business works and you want to get kind of technical.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    READ DEC 2017 Nice compact and succinct resource for anyone in a profit-based organization. Best quote, "Don't let your formal education or the size of your company obscure the simplicity of your business" (p. 29). For Charan, this boils down to six things: cash generation, margin, velocity, return on assets, growth and customers. Charan also introduces the idea of Social Operating Mechanisms which are the ways a leadership team collaborates around execution, decision-making, leading/managing cha READ DEC 2017 Nice compact and succinct resource for anyone in a profit-based organization. Best quote, "Don't let your formal education or the size of your company obscure the simplicity of your business" (p. 29). For Charan, this boils down to six things: cash generation, margin, velocity, return on assets, growth and customers. Charan also introduces the idea of Social Operating Mechanisms which are the ways a leadership team collaborates around execution, decision-making, leading/managing change, and dealing with conflict.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ashutosh

    A short master read. This book helps in refining your business decision-making ability. Cash(flow), Return(RoI or RoA), Growth(Customer) are three fundamental to business. This book helps you to learn business acumen and metaphor of it. Simple to understand, Think like a Street Fruit Vendor from North India. Thanks, Mr Ram Charan for writing this book. It indeed brought (a lot of business priority which always enticed me to pursue) complexity to clarity.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Walburg

    In some respects, I felt as if I was reading the highlights of my MBA program. Foundational content on understanding how every business operates. Written in 2001, many of his examples are outdated, but the principles still ring true. The flow of the book felt choppy halfway through, but a good read overall if looking to understand the language of business.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rendy Bambang Junior

    As a technical person, this book really helps me to understand business fundamentals, such as what are important metrics of a business, simple rule which stays true from street vendor up to Fortune 500. I also like the last section of the book, which helps us to turn the theory into simple actions, no matter what our position is in the business.

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