Friday, June 6, 2014
Author Interview with "Managing for Success: Practical Advice for Managers" author Steve Smith!
MnM Blog - I get the sense that you are really trying to help others, especially new managers, in your book “Managing for Success: Practical Advice for Managers.” Where did this drive to help others come from?
Steve - My drive to help others came from my realization that most people are bad at managing, despite being good at the technical aspects of their job. Without management training, they do more to de-motivate than to motivate their staff members. I know one manager who asked his people if they were taking “stupid” pills. One scientist came to me for advice after his manager told him “I wish I had never promoted you” in a room full of people. My book is for new and experienced managers and supervisors who want to learn how to be better, and will admit they need help.
MnM Blog - You mention that you have worked in different companies through the years. Without naming the company (unless you wish) – which period of your career would you say “stretched” your knowledge and abilities in a good way?
Steve - Yes, I worked for 15 companies. This in itself is not a great honor, but there were reasons for every move. I left my first job out of collage at The Upjohn Company because career growth was so slow. I left Abbott Labs for the opportunity to start my own market research department at American Critical Care, a small cardiovascular drug company. This was a great company and establishing a new department stretched my technical and management abilities. I left only because we were sold to Dupont and moved to the East Coast. After that, I moved around a lot, mainly because of bad management. Finally I moved to Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences here in Petaluma California where I had a chance to build a sales, marketing and business development department. This was another great company that stretched my abilities because I wore many different hats (marketing, in and out-licensing, market research, strategic planning) and we were growing rapidly. This was a challenging job and great fun, and I stayed there until I retired. California is not a bad place to end your career!
MnM blog - What part of writing a book do you wish you knew more about before you started?
Steve - There are so many parts to writing a book that, if I knew them in advance, I may not have written the book! Organizing the material, finding a good editor, a good name, a good cover, an ISBN number, and much more. But the hardest part of all is marketing the book- creating awareness so people know it exists, getting reviews, a website, etc. There are a ton of books out there and writing the book is just half the battle.
MnM Blog - What is next on the horizon for you – personally and in your writing career?
Steve - After working on this book for four years, I’m now focusing on creating awareness among managers and supervisors so they know what it can do for them if they are willing to open their minds. And, I’m supposed to be retired, so we will travel more and focus on the things we really enjoy- following the 80/20 rule. This summer we will spend a month in Provence, France.
MnM Blog - What two books do you consider “must reads” for anyone in business / management?
Steve - My favorite book (old but wonderful) is Work and the Nature of Man by Fredrick Herzberg wherein he presents his two-factor theory (motivation vs. hygiene factors). Another favorite is The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. Ideas from both of these authors heavily influenced my book.