Steve Taylor
Taylor Made Construction
Edgewood, Md.
Big50 2003

Written by Frank Bettger, a contemporary of Dale Carnegie, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is the finest book I have ever read on the subject of selling.

This book is as relevant today as when it was published 57 years ago, and it's been my personal favorite for more than 17 years.

Bettger is the unsung originator of many of today's selling techniques. He advises you to not only “find out what they want and give it to them,” but to find the “why” behind the want. That “why” is the key to a client's purchasing decision, and if you discover it, you create a level of trust and confidence in you, the remodeler, that translates into sales. I like to put it this way: If you know the answer to a question, you're smart; if you know the question before the client asks it, you're a genius.

Jay Van Deusen
Van Deusen Construction
Bel Air, Md.
Big50 1998

I just finished reading Code Name Ginger: The Story Behind Segway, by Steve Kemper. It tells the story of the development of the Segway scooter and self-educated inventor Dean Kamen, an awesome engineer who has a vision and a business passion that drives him and his staff to excellence and, sometimes, failure.

Kamen's inability to compromise and make difficult decisions kept him in control but hurt the momentum of his project.

I found his experience parallels what we do with our companies. We want employees to innovate and take risks, and we give them the slack they need to do so. But too often we lack the fortitude to embrace their ideas and implement their requests.

The lesson I drew is that we need to encourage our employees to try new things that will improve processes, boost profits, and increase client satisfaction. It's not as sexy as inventing a Segway and redesigning the inertia mechanism of the gear, but the principles are the same. Without encouraging employees to innovate, we are resigned to mediocrity.