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Publisher's Summary

Based on years of research, Sydney Finkelstein, professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and author of Why Smart Executives Fail, looks at how a select few visionaries develop the most successful talent in every industry

After meeting chef Alice Waters at her legendary restaurant, Chez Panisse, Sydney Finkelstein got to thinking about the dozens of chefs who had come from her establishment to open their own restaurants and gain notoriety as some of the country's most creative culinary figures. Waters, he found, had spawned a family tree of geniuses. Could this pattern exist in other industries?

After years of research, Finkelstein found that similarly powerful mentors did indeed exist across every industry from finance to entertainment to fashion and the arts, and they created a network of superstars in their communities using techniques that are varied and often counterintuitive.

Finkelstein profiles luminaries such as Waters, Lorne Michaels, Miles Davis, Ralph Lauren, Larry Ellison, and Bonnie Fuller. Drawing on fascinating first-person accounts and surprising best practices, Finkelstein explores a phenomenon that has never been researched before and explains how any leader can create a powerful network and nurture extraordinary talent.

©2016 Sydney Finkelstein (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Recorded by arrangement with Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting, but not helpful

Interesting stories about influential people. But, if what you're looking for is instruction/advice on becoming a better boss, this isn't the book for you.

A lot of the advice is either silly (don't hire good people, hire exceptional people!) or unhelpful (work all day and night and expect your people to work all day and night).

The performance is very good.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Better in the second half

Could've been shorter, but a great subject. Obvious first few chapters, but picks up in second half.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Underwhelming.

Would you try another book from Sydney Finkelstein and/or Mel Foster?

No. I was disappointed in their findings as I had wanted to hear more about how Superbosses truly manage their companies rather than anecdotes about how wonderful it is to be the select few proteges. I also think the author was not critical enough of their subjects. For example, both Larry Ellison and Hillary Clinton are extremely controversial leaders and all we got was how everything they do is great great great. For Clinton, the authors talked about how the loyalty built up over years created a huge asset for the former Secretary of State whereas others could have seen this as a liability because she did not venture out of her circle for talent. The book was too rah rah rah about these Superbosses and did not offer a well-rounded view of their performance.

Has Superbosses turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. Not at all, however I will not read another from this author.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Throughout the book I was always left feeling like I wanted more. More precision. More nuance. More practical, actionable information that I could apply to my own management style. I kept thinking that the author is clearly an academic who has not actually spent much time working in a corporate environment because he seemed to be awed by the grandeur of the corner office rather than the real challenge in leading complex organizations and how the Superboss mystique can filter down throughout the entire company structure rather than just among a circle of elite aides.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ordinary

The book is on the wrong side of obvious and the only thing I was able to find for myself is the subdivision of superbosses into three categories. Ok, now you know - no point of listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Juarez
  • Austin, Texas, United States
  • 06-24-16

This is a book I wanted to like...

Its not bad but...
Unfortunately I got the feeling that the book never left the preface, there's a lot of great information but the structure just didn't work for me. Every chapter the author goes all over the place mentioning quotes and short stories about what Superbosses do.

Literally, you could find a thousand times the author says "Superbosses do this, Superbosses do that". I would rather go deeper in the minds of each one of the Superbosses mentioned.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Just what I needed

As a soon to be owner of a business, I've known how I want to do it and who I want to be for my people. Superbosses has given me clarity and, if you will, "permission" or maybe validation of my ideas around being an owner.
Thanks for a great book and inspiration!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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First step in understanding Superbosses

The gist of the book is that Superbosses are a blend of demanding leaders and excellent teachers. If they were simply demanding, they would be successful leaders. If they only guided younger generations, they would be mentors. They are Superbosses because they have developed a lot of successful proteges during their tenure, many of them moving on to becoming successful leaders themselves. There were a few interesting insights about Superbosses, such hiring individuals for their exceptionality not necessarily qualification for a job or randomly talking to employees in the company and getting a fresh perspective. Superbosses encourage both collaboration and competition among employees. This is analogous to coaching a team - everyone needs to work together to win the game but yet at the same time, each person wants to be the best player on the team. The book is more of a collection of success stories than how to be a Superboss or to pick out a Superboss to work for. Using sports as an analogy again, it is easy to pick out the winning teams, find all the commonalities among the coaches, and say this is what it takes to be a winning coach. If only it was that easy....

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Book ok

Book was worth reading for a couple of good concepts and nuggets. Author gets preachy at times trying to convince us of importance of being a super boss. Target audience must have been college students or something like that. Could have cut those portions out would have been shorter

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not a super book

there are bosses and then there are super bosses, there are books and then there are super books. this is just a book.

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GREAT BOOK

opened my eyes to a large perspective of how to get more out of myself and the individuals I manage. stay open to new ideas and feedback from above and below you. elevate people and they will in turn elevate me