mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - The Meaning Revolution

Manager Reads Episode XVIII: The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership by Fred Kofman.

Who recommended the book? A Twitch colleague, Matt Verghese, first keyed me in on Fred Kofman during one of our tangent-filled conversations. He quizzed me on what my job was and shared the Your Job Is Not Your Job video with me. I really enjoyed the video but only learned there was an accompanying book when I saw Kofman give the Your Job Is Not Your Job talk live at the San Francisco Engineering Leadership Community (SFELC) Summit this past January. Summit attendees got a copy of The Meaning Revolution!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The main focus of the cover is a magnifying glass over the word Meaning, which is a clever play on the book’s central focus of helping people find meaning at work. The entire cover - front to back through the spine - features only three colors: black, blue, and orange. It looks clean except the somewhat random usage of underlining. Inside the book, everything is nice: nice thick pages, nice font, nice leading. Nice.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? The goal of the Meaning Revolution is twofold: explain why organizations lose and how organizations and the people within them can start winning.

  • Organizations lose for many reasons but the biggest reason is individuals optimizing for their success instead of optimizing for the company’s success. Kofman discusses this and the other main symptoms of failing organizations - disengagement, disorganization, disinformation, disillusion - and how to better manage these things. None of these are trivial things to correct but the silver lining is you only have to do better than your competitors here to win.

  • Organizations and people within them can start winning by relying on the inspirational power of giving employees the ability to work on something that gives them meaning, a sense of achievement, and builds their self-esteem. People want to work on something that will transcend their own mortality - an immortality project - that will outlast their existence.

Favorite quote from the book? “If you want to lead, you must love the mission more than yourself.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? I really enjoyed the first chapter of The Meaning Revolution. It provides a fantastic primer for how one can better contribute to winning organizations. While subsequent chapters dive deeper into specific problems and solutions these chapters ultimately didn’t excite me nearly as much as the first chapter. My recommendation? Definitely read the first chapter and then play it by ear as you continue to read more chapters.

Notes in Evernote? Looking to transcend the mortal coil but don’t want to read this book just yet? Check out my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!