Mind Your Own Business
Mind Your Own Business
A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life
Crown Business, Hardcover, 9780385509596, 208pp.
Publication Date: October 28, 2003
“The maverick’s way of conducting business forswears the leader as commanding general; it rejects the practice of top-down, authoritative command. Rather, it proposes the leader as catalyst, conscience, and inspirer . . . The true leader sees his job as setting an environment in which new ideas can emerge that neither he nor any other individual anticipated. That leap of imagination, that moment of genuine creativity, can only be inspired by a leader who encourages exploration and shows a willingness to consider a totally new approach.” --from Mind Your Own Business
The corporate misdeeds of self-serving executives during the high-octane economy of the 1990s have forced many people to rethink the qualities that make a strong leader. For sixty years, Sidney Harman, the chairman and CEO of the world’s premier manufacturer of high-end audio equipment, has stood apart from the crowd, building his business the old-fashioned way, by satisfying customers and, in doing so, making a healthy profit. His refreshingly employee-centric, bottoms-up approach to business is the secret of Harman International’s continuing success.
In Mind Your Own Business, Harman shares his visionary ideas about leadership, providing a welcome contrast to the bad behavior of business leaders recently dominating the news. Harman focuses on creating a culture of personal responsibility throughout his company. He likens his top management team to a jazz quartet that listens to and improvises with one another to create harmony. He stresses the need to do more for workers at every level because employees are the company’s most valuable asset. At Harman International, he has established in-house classrooms to teach English, basic math, health, and music, and encourages his employees to pursue their potential.
Now a hale and healthy eighty-five, Harman thinks that “an idea a day” is more important than the proverbial apple and that the key to a long life is a restless curiosity. In the bestselling tradition of Max DePree’s Leadership Is an Art, Mind Your Own Business is a frank, no-nonsense guide for those who want to bring strength, vitality, and values to their businesses—and to their lives.
SIDNEY HARMAN, PH.D., is the executive chairman of Harman International Industries. He served as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce from 1977 to 1978, founded the Program on Technology, Public Policy, and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and is currently the chairman of the Program Committee of the Board of Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. He lives in Washington, D.C.
“This is an intriguing autobiography about a remarkable career. I’ve learned a lot from Sidney Harman — and so will every reader.”
“This is a wise book. There’s no higher accolade I could provide. I will bet a pretty penny it becomes a classic — the equal of Alfred Sloan’s MY YEARS WITH GENERAL MOTORS. My heartfelt thanks to Sidney Harman, at 84, for making this splendid offering to all of us.”
“This book is all heart — strong, vibrant, humorous, practical and hugely creative. Sidney Harman uses plain language to catalogue the story of a remarkable company and its contributions to American enterprise and culture. A patriot businessman who cares, Harman has written a no-nonsense book you can’t put down — every page brims with ideas and principals that will help us all optimize our talents and lead more fulfilling lives.”
-Arthur Levitt, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
“It is the best book about business that I have ever read — by far. While at General Motors, I must have read Sloan’s important book several times; it contained much wisdom. However, Harman’s is not only profound. It sparkles, and the progression of thought is like a great work of music. In short, I was captivated from beginning to end.”
-Elmer Johnson, former executive vice-president and board member, General Motors; former president, The Aspen Institute; partner, Kirkland & Ellis law firm
“I have never read a book that made business so exciting, so interesting, and so, well, entertaining. Harman’s book should be required reading, especially at this time, to restore honor in the profession of management.”
-Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California and author of ON BECOMING A LEADER and co-author of GEEKS AND GEEZERS
“Sidney Harman is that rare phenomenon in American life — the titan of industry who is also a titan of humanity. And, unusual for a business executive, he writes with wit and style.”
-Daniel Schorr, Senior News Analyst, National Public Radio
“MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS is perceptive, witty, succinct, and vividly concrete in sharing the rich experiences and wisdom of a remarkable entrepreneur.”
-Kent Kresa, Chairman and Chief Executive, Northrop Grumman
“At last, a book on business (and life) that avoids gimmicks and easy fixes. Business leaders from companies of any size and maturity can benefit from reading MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS — the substance is solid; the stories are priceless; and the writing is superb.” -William J. Perry, Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor and Senior Fellow, Stanford University Institute for International Studies and former U.S. Secretary of Defense
“Here is an opportunity to get inside the head of a remarkably innovative business leader and super salesman. You’ll also find essential lessons in negotiating and managing the expectations of the financial community. Sidney Harman convincingly illustrates my thesis that the best leader for an innovative business is a productive narcissist-obsessive with highly developed strategic intelligence.”
-Michael Maccoby, author of THE PRODUCTIVE NARCISSIST
“MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS is an extremely lucid and persuasive account of how to run a determinedly ethical and principled enterprise business in these strange times. I hope everyone in business or going into business reads it.”
-David Rintels, historian, screenwriter, President of Gideon Productions
“After 40 years in public life, I am now practicing corporate law. How fortunate to have this wonderful book as a guide and inspiration. Corporate governance, marketing, negotiation, and high finance are all reviewed with wisdom, grace, and wit.”
-Thomas Foley, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, former US Ambassador to Japan
“I wanted more than a weekend-stand, so I savored it a chapter a day. It was a bit like having an intimate get-together, a daily Harman revelation over ten days. (Harman’s) life is one of realizing his potential — physically, intellectually, materially. He not only leads Harman International, he personifies it. His moral and ethical compass appears to be congenital. It’s all there in MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. A great book. A great life.”
-Stanley A. Weiss, Founder and Chairman of Business Executives for National Security (BENS)
“Dr. Sidney Harman has written a book that Hemingway would praise for its clear, vigorous prose, that businessmen will read and say, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ and that young people will count as a jumpstart for their ascending future. Personally, I wish to hell Dr. Harman had written it fifty years ago. I would have profited from reading it then. But I’m glad I did now. So will every reader.”
-Jack Valenti, chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association
“This is one of the few times when the energy, wit, humor and brilliance of the man are perfectly reflected in an energetic, witty, humorous, brilliant book. It moves fast and reads fast… I was sorry to come to the last page.”
-Beverly Sills, Chairman, the Metropolitan Opera
“Each page contains another extraordinary insight. Students and practitioners of business, politics, engineering, the arts, and just about everything else will learn what it means — and what it takes — to be a successful leader.”
-Albert Carnesale, Chancellor, University of California at Los Angeles
“I have been a professional actress for 44 years. This fact alone makes it clear that business escapes me. But I do know about communicating with an audience, about getting to the center of the middle of the marrow of the heart of the truth. And this book does just that. In times when gluttonous swine control the economic lives of most people, Dr. Harman has emerged as one of our saints — perhaps the last honest man.”
-Elizabeth Ashley, actress
“A book that will inspire young entrepreneurs and businessmen who want to do it their own way. Sidney Harman built a great business from scratch listening to his own ideas and developing his own rules. One of the best business books I ever read.”
-Edward Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Grey Global Group Incorporated
“Here is a personal odyssey that illuminates, challenges, and entertains. Harman blends hard-header business fundamentals with basic values, hard work, integrity, common sense and humanity. Whether in business, education, government — Harman exercised leadership with a heart. He preaches that the tone is set at the top and he practiced what he preached through several successful careers. What emerges on each page is sheer poetry, elegant in content and style. This book is a must read.”
-Bernard L. Schwartz, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Office, Loral Space and Communications Ltd.
“Sidney Harman is a poet, a technology entrepreneur, and a passionate believer in empowering people. His book MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS gives the reader a compass for succeeding in business and in life — you must know what you believe in, what works, and have the discipline to stay focused on the fundamentals. From the first page, this is a great read. I hope everyone gets a chance to read it.”
- Jerry J. Jasinowski, President, National Association of Manufacturers
“MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS, written by a very thoughtful, successful achiever, is an impressive, broad, and articulate presentation of common sense aimed at effective leadership and better business outcomes. Sidney Harman achieves all this while also giving of himself to improve society, government, and the well-being of his employees.”
- Josh Weston, retired chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.